DISCLAIMER: Drusilla belongs to Joss Whedon, and Delirium and Dream belong to DC. However, the room is mine and so is this story.
It was a little room, nicely appointed. The fading wallpaper on the walls had tiny imprinted roses, pink, red and yellow bunches of flowers wrapped round with gaily coloured ribbons. It was quite nice wallpaper, delicately embossed with the rose patterns. The room’s carpet was equally resplendent in faded splendour, a deep wine red marked with tracks of dust and swifts of grey where feet had plunged into it and disturbed its resting pile. The dusty velvet-holstered chairs were antiquely carved, standing on spindly legs with little claw feet and arching backs, set around a table that looked simultaneously stable and fragile made in a dark wood with patches of lighter grain stippling its polish. There were cushions with needlepoint, a little mice gnawed at the edges but the dulled embroidery threads were still mostly existent. The room would have been quite glad to have been left alone, to be honest.
The two people sitting in it were significantly stranger then any others it had sheltered. Remembering the genteel ladies and distinguished gentleman that the house had once welcomed in, they were much, much stranger. It was a little disquieting.
“I thought once I saw something when I was with my brother...you know, he has a raven and it changes but it’s always the same raven,” the girl with multicoloured hair murmured, touching her forefingers to the sides of her mouth to feel the shape of her words. They were shining and pretty, and she wondered what her mouth really looked like when she spoke, because mirrors were liars. Never showed the real thing, not ever. Mean, mean mirrors. “Once there was a dog but he ran off and I don’t know where to find him...”
“Grandma once said men were all dogs, and they only thought with one thing,” the woman with dark coloured hair said thoughtfully, tipping the china teakettle to pour scalding tea into the two cups on the table in front of them. “And then she said a Naughty Thing,” she mused wickedly, picking up a lump of sugar in a pair of tongs and dropping it neatly in her tea. “Snap snap, whicker snap. The Jabberwock will bite you back...” The tongs bit at the air, then down along her arm leaving toothprints and drops of blood behind. She giggled softly, listening to the click of the metal teeth.
“Out in the Dreaming, there are Jabberwocks, at least I think that’s what they are, they are always crunching the figments and wandering through the woods,” Delirium said, because of course that’s who the strange girl with the odd hair on the perfectly ordinary chair was. One of the Endless, forever lost in her own madness. As she thought, one half of the hair on her head receded, becoming almost shaven. The other half still tickled her shoulder, in the most delightfully aqua way. “My brother ignores them, mostly. Abel always gets most upset but I don’t think Cain has tried feeding him to one yet. They always fight, and Cain always wins but they love each other all the same...”
“Vanish away, Miss Edith is talking about disappearing things today. Did you know there’s such a prettiness to you, luv?” Drusilla said, cradling the paper thin china cup in her elegant hands. Red spots of blood still marred the paleness of her arms, the perfectly pale complexion slightly reddened and torn in spots. Marred. By her own hand, which was not anywhere near as fulfilling as when someone else did it. “I look at you and I think of fish for some reason...”
“There were fish once and I decided I wanted to know what it was to dream like a fish,” Delirium said dreamily, sticking her fingers into the cooling cup of tea and watching the ripples spread out. Like laughter, the waves across the velvety brown of the liquid. Maybe drinking would be nice, she liked to pretend at being mortal sometimes, alive. And all of what she was, it was a mixed up muddle of human and not, alive and not, of eternity and looking into eternity was maddening. “They think of water and insects, scarlet mirrors of wonder in the back of their heads and I wanted to see what was about the drifting of their fins but I never actually did find out. Fish are strange.”
“My Spike had burning baby fishes floating around his head when I saw him. His soul spat them out in the form of words, you see,” the vampire said, lifting the cup in front of her face and smelling the scent of the tea. It reminded her of things she had forgotten in a mist of blood and screams. Run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the bramble patch. She was caught in the screams, they dug into her skin like thorns and no matter how she bleated she was not free. But she wasn’t a lamb anymore, no, Daddy had ripped away the sheepskin to reveal the true wickedness of the wolf. And so she growled and howled and sang and drank blood and caused blood and hunted. Because it was her nature.
“What types of words? Sometimes when I say words they turn into butterflies, which I like.” She rocked back and forth on the edge of her seat, studying the corners of the room. In one, there was a beautiful flower just starting to open, lightning striped azure petals opening and exposing a red, red throat. The leaves were scaled like the sides of a fish, and Delirium decided it was quite pretty in its own way because it reminded her of oceans and volcanoes. Quite exciting.
“Poems, luv, poems. Beautiful poems which he was dedicating to me but he didn’t know it,” she sighed, remembering. It had been a very long time since Spike, her William, her errant knight had written a poem for her. The Slayer had chewed him dry and spat him out once the taste of ashes and burnt dreams hurt her tongue. Daddy didn’t know any better then to avoid her either. The women knew, they stayed away from the Slayer and her sticky honey webs. “She took things from me, she stole away people who loved me and then never said sorry.”
“Why did she do that?” A frown started to form between Delirium’s mismatched eyes, and she pursed her lips slightly. It wasn’t right to steal people, not really. And this woman was so nice and made so much sense compared to other people she met. Her madness was delicious in its shattered entirety, like sugar crystals scattered across a cracked pane of glass. “I think I would make her think that she was crawling in bugs forever and ever and she wouldn’t be able to brush them off...but perhaps you could think of something better?”
“I don’t know why she did it. I think she likes to own people, spider in her honey web, blonde hair spun out to catch the flies as they pass by,” Drusilla hummed, putting her cup down into its saucer and watching it settle. Perhaps one day it would grow legs and walk away. It always seemed sad to her that some things with legs never actually got to walk around, like chairs and tables. She was sure that they would have liked the chance to do that. Tiptoeing her fingers across the table, only the tips of her long nails touching, Drusilla tilted her head and her hair whispered as it fell back across her shoulders. “I would like to make her know what it is to have people stolen. She steals, I should steal back.”
“But...stealing is wrong. I know because my brother told me so, but then Desire told me that no, sometimes stealing is the only way to the true thing a person wants, and oh,” Delirium trailed off into a whisper. “I don’t know, Drusilla. Miss Edith might not like it.”
“So we’ll be Mistresses Mary, quite contrary.” Drusilla flexed her fingers like a cat retracting and extending its claws, and she smiled at the Endless sitting down to a tea party with her. She liked parties, and the tea was sweet, and the surroundings were absolutely scrumptious. The stars had sung of the room with its roses, and she’d found it. Currently, the flower in the corner was extending vines across the wallpaper and filling the room with the scent of cinnamon mixed with lavender. Or at least, that’s what she thought it smelt like. “Would you like some more tea?”
“Yes, because it felt like laughter around my fingers,” the girl who was much older then anything on the earth said truthfully, and the vampire with her giggled. “There was laughing in the leaves as they danced under the sun. I like dancing, I spin around and around-“
“Ring a ring a rosie, pocketful o’ posies, tishoo! Tishoo! We all fall down,” Drusilla interrupted in a snatch of sung nursery rhyme, eyes dancing with delight as Delirium clapped her hands in pleasure. “Spin until you fall, dearie, just make sure you can get back on your feet afterwards.”
“Once I fell down and my brothers and my sisters had to find some people to come find me,” Delerium said, sketching patterns on the wood with her fingertips. The wood changed colour behind them, psychedelic patternings starting to shine through in a kaleidoscope of colour. “They followed the fish.”
“Like white stones or breadcrumbs into your head?” Drusilla inquired seriously, and the Endless nodded. Continued to change the table into something like herself. Insane. Warped. “The stars tell me the ways in which my feet need to go, but when I try and tell people what the stars say, they never understand,” she finished off sadly with a pout.
“Well, I think you make sense to me,” Delirium said comfortingly, reaching across the table to hesitantly pat Drusilla’s hand. The female vampire smiled at her brilliantly, white toothed smile lighting up the room.
“Do I? And you listen, you listen to me and I think you would understand why the stars are crying, weeping and they won’t stop forever but soon they may be happy,” Drusilla said in a rush, words tripping and falling over themselves as she spoke. “They need me to show them the way into the blissful that they want, but I get distracted and then they cry. Miss Edith says I should just leave them and let the stars find their own way but that would be wrong.”
“Yes, sometimes things need some leading like puppies or fish, but not cats because they always know the perfect way to go already. Bastet says that humans are confused and they should listen to cats more often but they never do…” Delirium looked up as the door that hadn’t quite been there before opened and Dream stepped through it slowly. Her face crumpled slightly. “You’ve come to take her away, haven’t you?”
“You should find her in the real world, if you want to talk to her, Delirium,” Dream said slowly, dark eyes watching her solemnly. He wasn’t mad at her for holding one of the dreamers away in the Dreaming, but it was time for the demon to wake up. Couldn’t she have found someone safer to talk with? Not that a vampire could truly threaten any of the Endless but...Delirium was fragile. Maybe...this was why she had sought out the demon’s dreams and latched onto them, centring them both in this room inside someone else’s dream. But she knew she wasn’t meant to do it, and had done it anyway. Somewhere in the reality humans accepted, the stolen blood that kept her animate was losing its vitality and she was beginning to wither. And even the humans needed their predators. “She has to wake up now.”
“But I don’t want her to!”
Drusilla hummed and played with her hair, lazy smile curving her full lips as she stared at Delirium’s flower. It had covered most of the walls now, and the heavy scent of lavender and cinnamon grew stronger. “If the cat is away, the mice will play, but now the cat is back in its black coat and the mice tremble and stamp their footses. If I must go, luvvie, then I must go.” She picked up Delirium’s hands in hers and kissed the fingertips, tasting eternity in the other girl’s skin. Shivered slightly. “Come find me. I’ll wait. Follow the fishes.”
“Follow...the fishes...yes,” Delirium repeated softly, staring into the insanity that matched hers on some levels.
“Found me once, find me twice, dear,” Drusilla murmured, before giving Delirium’s hands one more gentle squeeze before she stood. She shook her finger at Dream like she was admonishing a naughty boy, rather then one of the most elemental forces of the universe. “Naughty, naughty. You didn’t knock.”
“Is it really time to go? It seems like the party’s barely begun, and we haven’t drunk all the tea.”
“Can’t we finish the tea, brother? It smells like sunshine and feels like laughter and sometimes I get so lonely,” Delirium whispered, but Dream shook his head as he took Drusilla’s hand. The vampire fluttered her fingers at the young Endless, still smiling.
“Follow the fish.”
“Oh, oh.” Delirium bit her knuckles as Dream sent Drusilla back to the waking world, banishing her from the dream so she woke up. It always happened. And it was so much harder to find people she liked in the hard world, rather then the realm of dreams. Everything was so much more wonderful here.
Dream coughed slightly and shifted his feet. She tilted her head and looked at him curiously. “Shouldn’t you go find her?”
“Yes, I will, but I looked for the dog as well and I never found him...so I hope I will find her again because she said I was pretty,” Delirium said, then giggled like a little girl with a great secret. “I’m going to go now. She’s playing hide and seek, and it would be rude if I didn’t keep up my end of the game so I’ll just go away and start seeking...”
And she vanished. Dream frowned, and dismissed the vine which had already started to wither in the absence of its mistress. Then he too, was gone. The room muttered to itself slightly and settled in for another long wait. Some dreamer would walk in and decide that this was the room for their dreaming to live in. Sooner or later. Hopefully, they would be less odd then the ones that it had just had. A little more sane.