A Russian Interlude
Rating: PG 13
Rusty’s Christmas challenge, at Angel Elder’s Mansion was to tell a tale of Angel(us’) past. To flesh out the timeline, so to speak.
See Author’s Notes at the end.
Spanking done by Jo with much vigour. Sadly, she couldn’t get Angel to do it but she deserves a special thank you for her hard work.
The evening carries a cool wind; the chill of autumn is sweeping the city with a promise of the winter to come. Winter comes early in this northern land and stays for far too long. Muffled in fur and wool, the man and woman do not appear to mind as they stroll through the city streets.
The woman stops abruptly, catching her partner by the arm and points skywards with a laugh.
“Apparently this city is dedicated to you, my love.” Gloved fingers reach out from the warm skin of ermine, her hand waves about with abandon at the monument, teasing him again with its presence. It is not their first time here.
Dark eyes in a pale visage lift towards the heavens to concur, that yes, there is an Angel there, and a cross.
Angelus grunts. “You know better than that Darla. ‘Tis the Column of Alexander, built to celebrate the Russian victory in the Napoleonic Wars.”
A smile softens his words as the demon looks thoughtfully at the monument. It is magnificently worked in red marble. He glances about. The setting sun has left soft splashes of fading light that illuminate the golden domes of the Admiralty spire and St Isaac’s Cathedral. The imposing green, white, and gold of the baroque Winter Palace claims the banks of the Neva River; it is after all the official residence of the Tsar of Russia, and is the most beautifully decorated. Palace Square is bustling with people, the gentry in all their finery are out for a night of dining and perhaps a little culture. The poor are doing the bustling, trying to make a living pleasing their Lords and Ladies.
Darla’s petite hand slaps his arm with a force that few would believe, bringing his attention back to her where it belongs.
“Are you alluding to that wonderful time we spent in Spain, killing any who came across our path? Those were the nights…” she sighs, recalling. “Humans were killing each other in the hundreds. We did not have to hide our kills, it was all so grand, thanks to that small Frenchman.”
Angelus catches the wistful look on his Sire’s face; Darla does like a good massacre.
“The turn of the century is upon us, Darla. There’s always a war brewing. Come, or we’ll be late.” He puts out his elbow and Darla takes it gladly. Her boy is in fine spirits, which means that delicious murder is in the offing.
A drumming of iron against stone sounds, and in a blink, he sweeps his lover off her feet in a flurry of silk and fur, bringing both vampires safe and out of harm’s way. The horse and carriage clatter by, its occupants unseen, the driver shaking his head in reprimand at the two in the square.
Darla and her boy stare after the vehicle. Angelus is the first to move after a long moment.
“Later,” he promises both Darla and the impudent driver. He straightens his coat and crooks his arm again. She nods and they continue on their way.
The canals and arched bridges are a wonder to behold. Darla loves a view, yes she can admire the scenery, and does, but she loves luxury more. She wears expensive silks and linens, sparkling jewels enhance her beauty and the finest beds in all the cities of Europe have known her body. She knows however, that her lover’s gaze caresses the fine architecture, drinks in the grandeur of the wide boulevards and its fabulous statues. Her boy has the heart of an artist, even if it does not beat. The most feared of vampires is enthralled with beauty, *is* beauty personified and all the more wicked for it. Darla steps daintily in her boots, the stride of her companion accommodating her gait as she eyes his distant regard. St Petersburg is a pearl of a city, and from all corners of the civilized world visitors come to partake in its lustre.
Deftly avoiding any contact with human or equine, the two vampires tread the stone bridges that cross the canals, coming at last to their destination. The Neo-Byzantine building looms over the square, dwarfing all who stand before it. The Mariinsky Theatre is a magnificent beast, standing several floors high with a circular dome raising from its torso, itself a thing of beauty.
Angelus turns to his Sire, showing his teeth in a wide smile. “Let the games begin.”
Darla returns his grin, the promise in her blood seethes and she is hungry. She will enjoy the blue blood of the gentry tonight, foreign or Russian; a welcome change from the peasants they have eaten recently.
Darla on his arm, Angelus enters the theatre, the smile still in place, the two the picture of the perfect couple. People turn to look at the two immortal beings. They see a striking woman, blonde hair curling, and sparkling eyes of ocean blue that shine with laughter as she converses with her handsome partner. His sable hair and even darker eyes, pale skin and perfect features, killer smile and powerful body, compliment the petite woman at his side. Men and women stare and wish that they were on the arm of either one or the other. The theatre attendant offers to take their coats and Angelus demurs, saying that his lady feels the cold and they will be keeping their outer apparel.
Darla hands Angelus her fur as soon as they are out of sight of the theatre’s minion. The gold of her gown shimmers, highlighting the fall of her hair, and her eyes fill with mischief as they enter the main auditorium. Sound assaults them. The hum of language and the heat of all the humans under one roof is overwhelming; the thudding of all those hearts a cacophony that beckons forth canines and jagged smiles. Angelus shrugs off his coat, immersing his being in the surge of humanity while taking in the vast opulence of the Russian Theatre. He inclines his head and murmurs softly to his consort, his eyes on the box he has chosen for the evening. Darla raises a delicate brow and nods her agreement. The predators make their way to the main hall and climb the ornate stairs to the beautiful hallways that run along the dress circle. It is not for the superior outlook that made Angelus choose this position; every seat in the house has a wonderful view of the stage. The four humans already seated will make a fine meal and besides, the vampire found the crush of the humans below a distraction.
Angelus sweeps out his arm and bows in a courtly fashion to Darla, indicating that even if he is no a gentleman, he can act like one. He receives an appreciative smirk as she pulls off her gloves and curtsies back. The humans inside turn to see a vision in gold, step through the doorway. Words of confusion sputter as her dark haired companion follows and places their coats onto empty chairs.
The older man stands, a query on his lips, and dies in the arms of the blonde’s lover. The vampire snaps his arm out, catching the younger man’s temple as the man lunges towards him. He falls back into his seat, senseless. Angelus drinks his human down, his eyes glittering, never tiring of the sight of his Sire in her violent glory. One female slumps back when a delicate fist back-hands her, the other woman struggling futilely against Darla’s teeth.
His meal finished, Angelus pushes the body down and out of sight beneath the seats. The young man he rearranges in his seat. Darla drops her victim and kicks her against the wall with disdain. Angelus has the young female draped against the unconscious male by the time she turns.
Darla sits on the plush blue velvet of the seats, her view unhindered and the bodies already forgotten.
“Good choice, love,” she approves as she peers up at the glorious chandeliers that light the theatre in magical splendour, in particular the magnificent centre piece that dominates the ceiling. Her gaze is drawn to her right side. The Tsar’s grand box stands in pride of place at the centre of the theatre.
“We could be sitting there,” she adds.
Dark eyes follow her gaze to the Grand Seats.
“And then we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show,” Angelus reminds her. “There are too many guards, even without the Tsar’s presence, to overcome."
Darla pouts a little and relents. Angelus is correct; there *are* too many nobles and their henchmen below to risk their necks. A smile pulls at her lips. They could overcome the fools but her boy is determined to enjoy a fine evening of ballet, and who is she to deny him his pleasure. She is feeling generous tonight, she will let him have his way.
Both vampires watch the crowd below settle into their seats, the orchestra is warming up and the lights are dimming. The Scourge of Europe notes the presence of one or two vampires hovering in the darker recesses of the theatre. He hopes that they will be discreet with their kills, he doesn’t want his dinner and show brought to an abrupt end in a surge of panic. With a gentle touch to Darla’s arm, he nods in the other vampires’ direction.
She tilts her head and grimaces. The one thing she has learned over the years is that Angelus has class, acquired from her, true, but class nonetheless, and he fulfils her needs with creative turpitude. Her boy is clever, inventive and always has a plan. Hence, they are the ones up here enjoying the luxury of a fine meal and a view, and the inferior vamps are among the masses pressed in like cattle. A pretty bauble catches her eye, along with a slender neck and dark red hair. Mmm, worth investigating, Darla muses.
The audience quiets as the stage is lit and the music swells. The theatre is now in gloom and the ballet begins. Both vampires lounge back into their seats and lose themselves in the Russian interpretation of the dance.
Intermission comes upon them like an unexpected visitor. The handsome vampire blinks at the sudden flaring of light. He shakes his head to clear away the last strains of music. His Sire smiles at him, so sweet, and reminds him of the rest of his meal. He looks across at the unconscious humans. She has had to subdue them once more during the ballet, the man’s shoulder no longer a resting place for his senseless partner.
“I hope you didn’t bruise them too much,” he said, not caring at all if she had.
Moving from his seat he picks up the young woman, and places her in his lap as he re-sits. Darla’s arm snakes around the young man’s shoulders and brings him close to her. The two vampires feed on their victims in a parody of a loving embrace. They could have fed in the dark, any onlookers unlikely to discover the murderous act, but these vampires are fearless and unintimidated by anyone or anything.
Bloody lips meet as Darla and Angelus lean across and kiss. Each sucks and licks the other’s mouth, finding the last minute drop of blood.
“Mmm, I never tire of this,” he says as he gives Darla one last kiss before pulling away.
The Scourge of Europe gets to his feet, the dead woman now cooling on the floor.
“Champagne?” he asks with a lift of a dark brow.
“Thank you, yes.” She licks her lips one last time and raises a hand to dab at her mouth with a dainty kerchief. She leaves it beside her victim, the body crumpled against her boy’s, out of sight.
Arm in arm, Darla and Angelus leave the purloined box to mingle with the other patrons. They could have ordered in a bottle, delivered by a servant, but where is the fun in that? Besides, Darla wants a closer look at that necklace and the redhead. Her companion stills as he contemplates the small crowd. There might be someone worth stalking here, in later days one has to keep oneself amused, he thinks as his eyes travel the hall. And there is a certain driver that could entertain him for a few hours when he finds him.
A tray of champagne floats through his line of sight, Angelus takes two glasses and hands one to his lover. He acknowledges the twinkle in Darla’s eyes as she accepts her drink, nods to her and watches as she glides gracefully away through the growing throng of gentry. Turning and moving in the opposite direction, Angelus hunts. His long legs carry him smoothly in and about the human species, his lean body turning to avoid contact unless he allows it. Calculating eyes scan the people; keen ears hear, and dismiss, conversations.
A few faces turn his way. His allure, like that of cut of crystal, scintillates. One such face snares his attention and he draws close. A young wealthy nobleman, good-looking, with his father at his side; two women, young and old have to be mother and daughter whisper close by. The monster is motionless and waits, eavesdropping as only a vampire can. The fat, bearded patriarch is admonishing his errant son. The lad in question has his eyes on the vampire, curious, and yet he endures the berating without a murmur. They have an estate a little way out of the city and Angelus is intrigued.
Spike and Drusilla are out on the town and, thank the Gods, are not with them this night. Knowing Spike, trouble will not be far behind him, and Drusilla adds her own brand of insanity to the mix. Perhaps a few days in the country will do some good or….not. His eyes gleam and he holds in the chuckle forming. The smirk that graces his lips is wicked, promising dark, wet, and bloody things. He listens and learns, despising the old man already. Yes, the family before him will do.
The vampire lifts his glass, wets his lips with the wine and the small movement draws the rest of the family’s attention. The young girl looks down, blushing at his scrutiny. She’s a pretty thing he thinks, his bloodlust stirring, among, other things. The father and mother smile and ask him to join them. Angelus notes the relief on the son’s face and smiles his most charming as he steps towards the humans. The Scourge of Europe can be quite amiable when he puts his mind to it.
Much later when the lights have dimmed and the performers are once again putting the audience under their spell, Darla returns to her seat, Angelus already ensconced and enjoying the show. His profile shifts.
“That’s a pretty bauble,” he observes.
She fingers the ruby at her throat. “The girl was most comely, she was very giving.”
The profile shifts again and she can see he is intent on the ballet.
She is surprised when he says, “We’ve been invited to a country estate later in the week.”
He isn’t as intent as she had thought.
She asks, “The children too?”
“Charming people, the head of the house is ex-military. They insist that I bring along the family.”
She sees the curve of his cheek alter as a smile most wicked tugs at the corner of his mouth.
“We cannot disappoint our kind hosts now, can we?”
Darla laughs softly and squeezes his arm. She brushes her lips against his cheek but his eyes do not stray from the stage. She sinks back into her chair to relax, to enjoy, when he adds,
“Giselle can not be seen anywhere else in the world.”
The vampire looks again at her lover. “Not even in Paris?”
“No. The ballet has not been seen in Paris since 1868, and Marius Petipa’s choreography is one that is to be lauded. Giselle is a masterpiece it is said, because of it.”
“Petipa, that’s a French name.”
Angelus’ chest rumbles with a low growl, the conversation taxing his patience. Darla smiles before settling back. The audience is chained by manacles of music and movement, caged emotions are raised and cruelly dashed; tears slip from eyes alive, and not, so powerful are the combatants below.
She keeps her silence when she spies the wetness on Angelus’ cheek. Giselle speaks of tragic death and ghostly resurrection, no wonder her boy enjoys it so. She however, is not moved to tears. She is beyond that, three hundred years as the living dead has buried that part of her.
Angel’s fingers seek out his cheek as he blinks at the dancers below. Ghostly remains of long past tears prickle his skin and haunts his eyes. The noise in his ear irritates, and his shoulder shifts against the insistent buzz of Cordelia’s snores. Darla showed more decorum at the ballet than this modern girl. Angel watches the slender ballerinas twirl and pivot, the dance pushing at the door of his memory. Another slender girl, graceful and full of power, whirls on skates and pirouettes into his mind, a ballerina on ice. She would love the ballet, he thinks, and would not fall asleep on his shoulder. He blinks again, and peers intently at the people on the stage. His shoulder twitches as the lights come up. He frowns. There is something eerily familiar about the performers.
1. In A Hole in the World, Spike and Angel hold hands and Spike makes a reference to St Petersburg. Spike was turned in 1880 and Angelus regained his soul in 1898 so the visit had to take place in that time frame.
2. In Waiting in the Wings, Angel tells his crew he saw Giselle in 1890 and cried even though he was evil.
3. Giselle was not playing in anywhere in Europe but in St Petersburg in that year. I put the two together.
More on the Mariinsky Theatre can be found here.
A slide show of the Mariinsky Theatre, once known as the Kirov before being renamed the Mariinsky, its original name.
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