In the first days and weeks after Drusilla had turned him, he reveled in his new existence. Reborn. Reinvented. Immortal. A butterfly released from a constricting cocoon, an ugly duckling grown, not into a swan, but a eagle.
He discovered each change with as much glee as a child ripping open presents, holding them up for his parents to admire. The others watched his naïve enthusiasm with varying emotions. Angelus would swiftly become impatient, then angry, his thick black brows snapping together, his voice low and dangerous as he told William to be still. Darla never made even a pretence of being interested. She would arch a supercilious eyebrow and her lips would twist in a bored and petulant moue, an unwilling spectator at a tedious play.
Only Drusilla would
delight, only she would nod vigourously, her dark hair whipping about
her shoulders as she danced and spun, his hands in hers. “Yes!” she
would whisper. “That’s right, I felt it too, I remember.”
The most amusing novelty was his lack of reflection. He would stand in front of a mirror and marvel at the image in front of him, empty of his face and body, laughing as he proclaimed that he must have eyes in the back of his head, as now he could see what lay behind him without turning. He would pull Drusilla into his arms, their heads together, and they would get closer and closer to the silvered glass, until their noses bumped the smooth surface, but the mirror continued to ignore them, serenely reflecting the room alone.
Gradually, as he became accustomed to his new life in death, this aspect of vampirism began to grate on him, chafing at his mind unbearably. The absence of a reflection became a flaw in him, an insult, a statement about his lack of importance in the world. He wanted to see himself, as human and as vampire, wanted to stare deeply into his eyes and chart the changes, wanted to get reacquainted with himself. His hair was longer, his spectacles no longer needed; he wanted to see how he looked without them. It was infuriating. Now he was used to taking anything he desired, without thought or fear of consequences, this forever out of reach temptation galled him beyond endurance.
Drusilla came into the room one day and found him staring at the mirror, his hand on it, tracing the place where his reflection should be. “I’m a ghost, Dru,” he said sadly. “I’m a shadow, a nothing, just like I always was. Nothing’s changed, not really.” Rage poured through him and he felt his face shift and reform as his vampire features forced their way to the surface. Raising his fists, he hammered them against the glass, shattering it with a blow. The mirror exploded in a thousand shards, flying out and landing on the grey carpet, like icicles on a frozen pond. Heedless of the pain, he knelt and gathered the splintered pieces in his hands, staring at them intently, then discarding them one by one.
“What are you doing?” cried Drusilla, roused from her customary reverie by the sight and scent of his bloody hands. “You mustn’t, my sweet one, you mustn’t.” Crooning, she went over to him, holding his hands in hers, stopping him from hurting himself further.
He looked up at her, blue eyes sparkling with tears as crystalline as the fragments of glass in which he knelt. “So many pieces of mirror, Dru. One of them has my reflection in it; one of them must have. Help me find it? Please?”
She cradled him to her breast, her eyes unreadable, her face a mask. William looked up at her and sighed. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “It’s just –”
She raised his hands to her mouth and began to clean his wounds, each cut closing as she lapped at it. Peace returned to him as she soothed his pain and he leaned against her shoulder like a child.
Darla and Angelus arrived, chattering, in good spirits. They took in the scene before them and Angelus swore viciously. “And is it crying like a baby, you are?” he demanded, his brogue thickening as it did when he was roused to anger or desire. “ You sicken me with your moods-”
Darla hushed him, placing one slender white hand on his sleeve. For once, there was a glimmer of sympathy in her face as she looked at William. Slowly, she raised a hand to her own face, caressing the contours of a beauty she could only guess at. “It is hard sometimes,” she admitted softly, her eyes locking with his. “But there is always a price, even for us. This is part of it.”
Angelus glanced at her, his face troubled. Darla pensive and withdrawn could be dangerously unpredictable. He thought quickly and smiled suddenly. “William, my lad, clean up this mess and get your coat. We’re going out.”
They looked at him, Darla’s eyes glinting with sudden interest. “Where are we going?” she asked, perfect lips curling in a quizzical smile.
Angelus grinned boyishly. “Why, to get our photographs taken!”
William frowned, intrigued despite himself. “Would that be possible?” he objected, wishing he knew more about the process. “If we do not cast a reflection, then surely we cannot be captured on a plate, with chemicals and such. Won’t the photographer suspect us?”
Angelus shrugged, his broad shoulders rippling inside his well cut coat. “I couldn’t say. No matter; if we find that we cannot be taken, we will invite our new friend to ‘dine’ with us and no harm done.”
Drusilla nodded eagerly, clapping her hands at the thought.
The four of them passed the photographs between them, laughing and exclaiming as they saw themselves reproduced. William was content, for the moment at least, feeling anchored to the world by the flimsy paper, instead of adrift and lost. He had slipped one of the photographs of himself inside his pocket, reassured by its presence that he existed.
Drusilla’s tongue darted out, flicking over her lips. “That man tasted strange,” she said thoughtfully. “Not very nice.”
Darla smiled indulgently. “I think he tasted sweet. I love it when they’re good and scared before you bite them.” She began to giggle helplessly, waving the final photograph in the air. “It was this one that did it. Whatever possessed the silly man to tell us all to give him a big smile?”
The photograph fluttered from her hand as she began to kiss Angelus deeply, her hand entwined in his hair. It landed face up on the carpet, a stiffly posed group of two well dressed couples, the women seated, their partners standing behind them. Unremarkable from the neck downwards but with demonic faces looking out at a world they owned, captured forever by a machine that cared nothing for superstition.
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