Title: William versus the Beast
Setting: pre-series – S4
Word Count: 1330
Summary: William’s not happy about losing control of his body to a ravening, ravenous beast.
A/N: I don’t really subscribe to the spilt personality theory, but it’s interesting to explore. I haven’t posted in awhile, so let’s hope I remember how. Thanks to bewilde for the beta!
William versus the Beast
When the time came for William Pratt to go into the light, or shuffle off his coil, or whatever you wanted to call it, he didn’t. He was conscious down to his very molecules of what he was meant to do; he could feel the pull, irresistible, but whatever it was he was being pulled towards, he knew only one thing: his mother wasn’t there.
Not that he had so rational a thought, or rational thought at all. He was – light. Energy. Existence of the basest – or possibly highest – level. A creature not capable of thoughts at all, never mind rational ones, but somewhere deep in his very selfness he held fast to what he’d been, refusing to let that last little bit go.
Had to keep her safe, had to take care of her.
Didn’t work out quite like he’d intended – the story of his life, carried over to death. William found himself a prisoner in his own mind, his own body, with a ravening, ravenous thing now in charge.
The thing – beast – did not like him there. Howled and yowled all about the little space William had etched out for himself. Scratched and bit and wanted him gone.
William refused, shaking and quaking all the while. Even tried to drive the beast out, but he’d lost the shape of himself and could only just hold on, building a cage around his foothold in the center of the tenebrous, howling void that used to hold all of him and slamming down the bars. The beast struck back, tearing through his memories like a tiger with tissue paper, shredding through them to find the most painful, most intense, that it could steal and twist to its own.
Then it came for his love, but William hoarded his heart close, curled around his treasure, eyes gleaming and teeth bared. Hackles fully hackled. The beast paused, head cocked like a curious dog, not sure what to make of this development.
It readied for a second assault, but it was easily distracted, and to tell the shameful truth, William was too. He looked on, helpless with horror as the beast savaged and murdered and gulped blood like the rabid animal it was. And he looked on again, helpless with fascination while the beast used his usurped body for pleasures of the flesh he’d never dared to know.
With the beast distracted by all the new sights and sounds and tastes and smells, it forgot about him. That suited William fine. If he tried to protest the beast’s actions, stop it somehow, he drew its attention and its ire and things did not work out well, not for William nor for the unfortunate victims he attempted to save. But if he sat quiet and still, inwardly focused on peace and beauty and love… his ideals seemed to creep into the beast’s thoughts. Softening them, just a little.
Just enough to destroy his mother completely.
William was weary of existence, weary of being a prisoner in his own mind and body. He’d tried to let go, too many times to count, but once he’d anchored himself he couldn’t unanchor again. Sometimes he managed to drift away, shutting out the stimuli the beast sent roaring through his dead and stolen nerves, to lose long stretches of time that way.
And then he’d be called back against his will, again and again and again. When some triumph of the beast was too horrific to shut away. Or when some new progress of the world that went marching on without him caught his attention. Or when his lady lost the plot and needed tending, needed kindness, needed more than the beast. William didn’t love her, exactly, but he was a gentleman and she was his mistress, however rabid herself. She gave herself to him, and in return it was his duty to care for and protect her. He couldn’t help but need to. It was unthinkable to behave otherwise.
The worst, though – the worst was when he’d been slammed back to awareness by hope. He and the beast had come to an understanding of sorts over the long years – they didn’t like each other, not a whit, but they’d enmeshed and the beast tolerated him and even allowed some of his aspirations as its own, so long as William remembered his place. But when the opportunity arose for release from the horror that he now was, in the form of a deadly, driven girl, William cheered her on, doing everything he could to distract the beast, make it falter, make it lose.
It hadn’t worked, either time. And both times, William had paid dearly as the beast had reveled in its victory, gloried in it, and made existence even more hellish than it had previously been.
It was the third girl that brought him back into himself fully for the first time since –
– since he’d learned the full horror of his trapped existence.
Like the other two before her, but more. Fierce and bright, so bright, he couldn’t help but tumble head over heels for her, lost to her beauty and determination and effulgent heart. This time – this time he made the beast take pause. Hold back. Not lose, but not win either. Not forever erase that golden, vibrant soul from this wretched plane.
Time and again the beast matched up with her and both walked away, William crowing in victory, the beast angry and confused.
William didn’t cower from the beast’s rage, not this time. He pushed back, pushed back, pushed back. Overwhelmed the beast with love, until it felt just a little of what William felt. It didn’t understand love, not really, but it understood special, and not hurt, and ours, although not well. It was still confused, still angry. Still a ravening, ravenous beast.
A beast who, shocked and jolted into a cage of its own and whammied by magic, ceded a little more control than usual to William.
The end of the spell undid him, far more than it did the beast. For a short while he’d been gifted with the love of the shining light of his existence, love beyond anything he’d imagined or hoped for, and to have it ripped away… hurt. Hurt so much, the beast felt it too, and worried at it. Afterwards, the beast watched the girl with possessive intent, its rapacious hunger something more than it had been before.
And its control slipped a little more.
Now that the beast suffered its own cage, William was sometimes able to creep between the bars of his and wrest dominance for a little while. This was how the poetry began again. Bloody awful shite, but it was his, the only thing that was fully his for the first time in over a century. The beast had no interest in it, and so long as William confined himself to putting pen to paper, the beast let him be, too busy licking at its buzzing, crackling wounds with sullen indignation.
The poetry turned to letters. Letters to his glorious, glowing goddess. Letters elucidating how there was more than just the beast, there was him, and he loved her thoroughly and completely, before and after and in spite of the spell, and could she maybe see her way to seeing the man trapped inside the beast? Just a crumb, it was all he asked for. Knew she couldn’t love a thing such as him in return, but just for her to know, to acknowledge he was in there….
She never saw them, of course. The beast wouldn’t let him get that far, tore the letters up and tossed them aside, and drank itself under the table until it forgot William and electric cages and shining Slayers and even itself.
But William could dream again. Hope again.
It was enough. For now.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/671972.html