The heady scent of distilled spirits and cheap beer clung to the air, making even a simple breath somewhat more difficult than usual to inhale. This contaminated air mingled seamlessly with the sounds of raucous laughter, the cheerful clink of glasses and frequent fights.
A typical evening at The Raven's Eye.
Strange name for a pub, but the previous owner's wife had been rumored to be something of a mystic, and when she'd suggested the rather cryptic name, he hadn't the heart to refuse her. Even though they were long gone now, the current owner hadn't the heart or the drive to change it, so the name stayed unchanged. A wooden sign bearing a crudely painted silhouette of the black bird in question swung creakily outside, illuminated by the full, round moon. Its cold light glinted off the chains of the sign and off the white eye in the center of the bird's head, which seemed to follow the path of anyone who entered or left the establishment.
The Eye (as it came to be known) was not squalid, but by no means was it a pub with a good reputation. All manner of shady characters chose to make it their haven for the brew of their choice. The Eye's staff policy of not asking questions of its patrons went far as to attract anyone who wanted to keep a low profile.
An average crowd for a chilly autumn night had gathered to drink away the day to oblivion. The Eye's ale ran freely, the serving girls weren't **too** hard on the eye, and the company was more-or-less familiar.
Except for the strangers. A man and a woman, and judging by their attire, of noble birth. The man was wearing an expensively tailored suit in the latest style of the ever- changing upper echelons of society. Shoulder length brown hair was pulled back with a black satin ribbon. The darkness of his hair matched the darkness of his eyes. There was a hidden depth, an almost horrifying blackness behind them, which belied the angelic quality of his face. His partner was just as fair as he, with long tendrils of dark hair falling over her pale creamy skin in a beguiling fashion. A deep purple dress overlaid with black lace could be seen clinging to her figure when, after being seated, she had removed the black shawl from around her shoulders.
William had not seen them enter, having gone out back to relieve himself at the time, but when he returned, he had wondered vaguely why they had not been given a hard time by the equally hard occupants of the bar.
He pondered this for a heartbeat. Then he felt it.
The aura the couple exuded was one of pure, unadulterated power. What intensified it was their body language. It was as if they knew they wielded the Fates in their hands, but were unconcerned. As if their power was a force not to be taken lightly by anyone but themselves.
William watched them with interest, as he impatiently waited for another drink. He pulled the shabby coat tighter around his shoulders, feeling somewhat inferior to the finely dressed newcomers before cursing the unconscious desire he had to impress these strangers.
"I don't have to prove myself to no-one," he mumbled to himself before finally flagging down a bar girl, who unceremoniously deposited an ale in front of him. William sneered derisively at her act. Usually he had to fight off the girls who worked at The Eye. Instead, they all seemed to be preoccupied with staring at the newcomer. Granted, the mysterious man **was** handsome, but William was by no means an ugly duckling. With is lean, slender body, beautifully pale complexion and crystal blue eyes, he had charmed his way into many a woman's bed -- which usually followed with him leaving with half the silverware and a few changes of clothes provided by the dear lady's husband.
William had been a regular most nights at The Eye coming up to two years. It suited his style -- rough around the edges, but with an odd addictive charm. Left alone from the age of 12, William had spent over half his life growing up on the streets of London, making a living out of petty crime. As the job went, he was more successful than most. Having survived from such a young age to make it to 25 was a great achievement. As a person, he was well-liked for both his quick wit and attractive appearance despite being a thief, although he couldn't say he had any real 'friends'.
Even so, he spent a lot of his time at The Eye sitting alone, nursing an ale when he had money, or tepid water when he hadn't, and just watched people. Always in the same place, by the large painting on the wall, about four feet from the door. Like the painted raven of the sign, his eyes followed all who entered and left. The curtains shrouded most of his face in dark shadow, but when he leant forward slightly in his chair, the light of the full moon high in the night sky cut through the gloom, illuminating his face as if it were a classical Greek sculpture made of the purest white marble. William reveled in his power to observe others blissfully unaware of him. He learnt many secrets just by watching body language or catching a stray word here and there over the din. Everything he saw was filed away in his brain for future use.
This feeling of personal power was what attracted him to watch the couple who sat calmly half the room away. Slipping into the shadows, he could observe them without drawing too much attention to himself. He did not have a good view of the woman, as she was sitting with her face angled away from his line of sight, but William could easily see the man. William watched as a nervous barmaid walked up to ask them what they would like. He noticed that everyone, both staff and patrons, gave the visitors a wide berth, never daring to step within a few feet of them if they could help it. The dark-haired man eyed her as if she were a piece of meat. Not luridly as did other men, but.. **hungrily**. He ordered ale for himself and after conferring quietly with his companion, red wine.
The man then proceeded to scan the room with a quick eye. He seemed almost bored with his surroundings, but William could tell by the body language of the woman that she just drank in the atmosphere. The wine and ale arrived quickly and without comment. It was when she picked up her glass and swivelled in her chair that William finally got a good look at her.
The young thief was stunned by her beauty. Her hair fell in a dark river about her, framing a face both childlike and mature in its beauty. Pale and cold and flawless not even the cheery fire shed warmth on features cut by the frigid rays of the moon. The hands that had been demurely resting in her lap moved to pick up the glass of red wine. Her grey eyes met the eyes of her companion, who, with a slight upturn of the lips, nodded towards her. She made a noise of delight and lifted it to her lips, drinking slowly and daintily at first, before gulping the wine down lustily.
William unconsciously lifted his own glass of ale and took a deep draught as she did. He was so utterly mesmerized with the beautiful, mysterious woman that some ale went down the wrong pipe and he began to choke. Coughing loudly, William thumped his own chest and gasped for air, hoping not to draw too much attention to himself. He placed his head on the table for a few moments, to allow the breath to come back to his body, never seeing the man across the room smile secretively in his direction.
Eventually, William's breathing returned to normal. He sat up quickly and scanned the people around him, but they had noticed nothing. He returned his attention to the couple. The man had placed a hand on her shoulder to pull her close and seemed to be in deep conversation with her. William knew he would never hear what they were saying from across the room, but nevertheless strained his ears. Through patience and focus he managed to catch a few words spoken. The man spoke with a slight Irish lilt to his voice and he managed to hear the words 'beautiful' and 'candidate'. William sat back and raised his scarred eyebrow, wondering what on earth they might be talking about. It seemed whatever the man had to say, his goddess was agreeing with.
The skin on the back of his neck suddenly prickled and it was then that William looked around and noticed the crowd of customers in The Eye had significantly dwindled. As he watched, a nervous looking man finished his drink hurriedly and began to make his way towards the exit, practically **running** past the couple. Within the next ten minutes, six other people made the same move.
For their part, the strangers seemed to realize they were causing a stir, but could care less. In fact, the woman playfully snapped her teeth at one of the departing patrons. William shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He liked this turn of events less and less. Apart from being unusual, his chances of being spotted staring at them greatly increased with each departure. He needed the cover of people to observe them, and they had most definitely piqued his interest. When only two customers were left -- and even **they** looked like bolting -- William made a decision to go. There was something infinitely wrong about what was happening, and as much as he was dying to see what it was, he valued his own hide too much to risk it.
Just as he was about to go, however, the beautiful woman stood up. She gathered her skirts around her and stood in front of her companion, arms outstretched.
"Dance with me, my Angelus," she spoke. William's heart skipped a beat as he heard her soft voice for the first time. The man named Angelus smiled a dark, mysterious smile and stood.
"Anything for you, Drusilla my sweet," he replied, swinging her around as she laughed like a child.
"Drusilla," William murmured, rolling the name around on his tongue. It suited her, he decided. Dark and beautiful, like a midnight blooming violet. Drusilla. William tore his eyes away from her just long enough to take in the knowledge that apart from the dancing couple, he was the last one left in The Eye. The sounds of the barmaids cleaning up in the kitchen could be heard. He turned his attention back to Angelus and Drusilla. They twirled and stepped to music only they could hear. And yet, somehow, William felt as if he could hear it too.
Presently, the dancing slowed to a stop. Angelus pressed a passionate kiss to Drusilla's lips. She smiled up at him. At that moment, William felt a stab of searing jealousy. As if he'd somehow said something out loud, Angelus glanced at him quickly. William's eyes widened and he snapped his head away, looking out the gap in the curtains at the moon. Angelus smirked.
"I'm hungry, my sweet," Drusilla ran a hand down Angelus' sleeve.
"Can you wait, Dru? I've got something planned for tonight, I think you'll like my surprise,"
"I can't wait," she stomped her foot like a petulant four-year-old. William watched in fascination and amusement. Angelus seemed to sigh exasperatedly.
"Alright... go into the kitchen and see if you can grab a snack, I'll organize your treat."
Drusilla clapped her hands excitedly and planted a kiss on his cheek before skipping off to the kitchen. Angelus watched her until she left the room. When he turned, he noticed William had done the same thing. William caught his gaze and hastily looked into his mug of ale, studiously avoiding eye-contact. Angelus chuckled deep in his throat and strode purposefully towards the window. He opened the curtains and leant against the window frame, staring up at the night sky, fully aware of the fact that William was watching his every move.
"And the tears rain down from heaven, while the full moon watches on, oblivious to the pain," Angelus spoke softly, his dark eyes fixated on the white orb suspended in the night sky. William listened, intrigued. He was suitably startled when Angelus addressed him directly.
"That's not entirely true. Do you know what the moon does, William?" William jumped. "The moon... she isn't oblivious to our pain, she feels our suffering. She hears the words of the ordinary mortals... she cries tears of blood at the stupidity and banality of the ordinary man... she takes it upon herself to become a mother, and a teacher, and a nurturer to some..." Angelus looked directly into William's eyes. "She nurtures those who listen to her call. She takes care of those who hear her cry. She rewards those who dance to her song of eternal night."
William was transfixed by Angelus' dark eyes boring into his own. Angelus stalked towards him like a predator. He could **feel** the waves of darkness rolling from him. And yet... he could not bring himself to look away. In fact, he stood and took a step towards him. This seemed to please Angelus. He smiled.
Parts of his body screamed, screamed at him to leave, to run, to not stop until he was miles away from this man. And yet, another part was drawn to him. The part of William's soul that was drawn to Angelus was the part that had seen him through 13 years of living alone on the streets. The part that had been there when he had done unspeakable things in order to stay alive. The part of him that had done those same acts, not out of survival, but because he wanted to. The part that enjoyed pain and suffering and torment. The part he tried to bury.
At that moment, Drusilla returned from the kitchen. A trickle of crimson fluid traced a line from the corner of her mouth down to her chin. William's eyes flicked to her and then back to Angelus, the pull of his gaze far stronger.
"Our meeting is no accident, William. We have been watching you for some time. You are not ordinary, you are special. You've always thought so, haven't you?"
Drusilla smiled as William nodded mutely.
"You are not offspring of the sun, you are a child of the moon, William, just as we are,"
Angelus grabbed William's arms and pinned them to his sides.
"Children of the moon are blessed by her. They will never grow old. I offer this gift to you -- will you accept it?"
"Yes," William hoarsely replied.
"Are you afraid, luv?" Drusilla asked, scraping a fingernail down his cheek. William looked from Angelus to her, and back to the tall man.
Angelus smiled and his handsome features transformed. Sharp ridges covered his brow and fangs protruded over his lower lip. Glittering gold eyes met ice blue. William closed his eyes as the pain of the elongated canines piercing his neck hit him. He dropped slowly to his knees as Angelus drained his very life's blood away. Dizzy and lightheaded, he tried to form words, but it only came out as incoherent babble.
Angelus paused a brief moment before grabbing Drusilla's wrist. He bit into it until her stolen blood flowed. She bent down and placed her bleeding wrist against William's mouth, using her other hand to stroke his hair.
"Drink up, pet," she cooed. "I ever so much want you to be a part of our little family."
William swallowed what he could as the haze of pain grew. He lay back, blue eyes gazing unfocused at the couple. Dru was smiling beatifically while Angelus touched his rapidly cooling cheek.
"W-will the moon we-elcome me?" William stuttered out as pain wracked his body.
"Oh my yes," Dru answered. "Already she sings songs of your deeds to come. You will make her so proud, just like you will make me and Daddy proud," she smiled fondly at Angelus.
"Of course my beautiful Will," Angelus bent and placed a kiss on William's lips. "Already the moon weeps blood tears of joy."