Snow (sweptawaybayou) wrote,
Snow
sweptawaybayou

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Second Verse. Same as the First.



lj-cut text="Moments Like This">

~Moments Like This~

A story in three parts

By Snow




* * * The Prologue * * *



The sweet smells of a summer day.

Newly mown lawns.
Soft Breezes.
Hot sand.
Palm trees.
The ocean.
Suntan lotion.
Flagrant flowers.

Angel lay in the back seat of his car, under a heavy, black blanket while Cordelia drove.
Anywhere.
Everywhere.

She had the radio on. Angel could hear her voice, softly singing. Talking to herself occasionally.
He felt a surge of strong emotion.
For her.
For humoring him.
For taking him out like this.
Driving around, aimless.
Just so he could smell a summer day.
Just so he could feel the heat of the late afternoon sun on the blanket when it would sneak
through the darkened back windows.
Just because he had asked.

Moments like this.

When time seemed to stop.
When he was given the opportunity to appreciate.
When he realized that no matter how long he went on, this moment would stay with him forever.
Even in two hundred plus years, there were damn few of them.
And some still hurt too much to dwell upon.

Even Angelus was pleased.

Angel welcomed the respite from his other side’s incessant inner chatter.

His demands.
His rage.
His pleads.
His screams.

The thirst was still there.
It never left.
Ever.

Angel relaxed.

* * *


“You ready to go back?”

Cordelia’s voice brought Angel out of his sensory daze.

“Yeah.”

He didn’t open his eyes when he spoke. He knew there would be nothing but the fibers of the thick blanket that covered him.

“Cordy?”

“What?”

“Thanks.”

Angel could hear the smile in her voice, see it in his mind.

“No prob. I’m still on the clock you know. I’m going to stop for an iced cappuccino. You want

anything?”

He felt the car slowing, stopping.

“No.”

“Don’t go anywhere.”

He heard her giggle.

“I’ll be right back.”

The engine died. The car door opened, closed.

Angel sighed.
Make fun of the vampire.
Never ending supply of joke material.

He listened as people passed the parked car. Quiet voices.
Talking. Fighting. Promising.
No idea of how fast life was passing them by.

The interior of the car was heating up. Angel let a drowsy wave pass through him. He hadn’t slept since the previous day and it was catching up with him. A small case finished last night. A large demon dispatched to hell.

One more notch in his belt.
One more white mark to make up for all the black ones.
Too many.

Could the scales ever be balanced?
Did he even have the right to ask?

A shrill scream snapped his muscles taut.
Another.
A gun shot.

The sound of running.

“Cordelia!”

Angel yelled the name, his voice muffled.
He pulled his cell phone out of a pocket.

“Angel Investigations.”

“Wes. I need you.”

“What?”

“Cordelia. She stopped to get a drink. There was screaming. Gunfire. I don’t know what’s going

on.”

“Where are you?”

“Back seat of my car.”

“No, I mean where are you?”

“Oh.”

Angel sat up, letting the blanket fall from his head. He glanced around. Bright light. Sharp pain.

“JESUS!”

Laying back down, covering up. Tiny streamers of smoke hanging in the air.

“Remind me to never to do that again. Convenience store. Corner of Maple and Third. I didn’t see

her. I can’t help her.”

“I’ll be right there.”

Sirens in the distance.

Angel waited.

* * *


Fluorescent light.
White walls.
The stink of antiseptics.
The hushed sounds of pain.
The smell of blood.
Of death.

Angel stood.
Iron against the wall.
Wesley and Gunn sit.
Perched on the edges of the cheap, uncomfortable vinyl couch. Hunched postures.
The door opens.
Lorne enters, a large hat almost covering his face. Fred trailing behind him.
Everyone touches.
No one speaks.
There are no words.

Moments like this.

A doctor finally comes to them. His scrubs spattered with blood. He shakes his head. Angel smells Cordelia on him.

“Extreme blood loss. . . We tried. . . Internal damage. . .”

He leaves.
Fred sinks into the middle of Gunn and Wesley’s anguished, painful, needful embrace. They hold each other.
Lorne’s hands on their shoulders.

Angel is stone.
Cement.
Steel.

He knows she’s gone.
He cannot feel it yet.
He will not allow it.

His friend.
Cordelia.
Joining Angel’s past.

Angel turns. His fist hits the wall. Goes through the wall. Blood drips from his knuckles.
He leaves, his black trench coat swirling around him. Ignoring the call of his name.
Not hearing.
Not caring.
Not feeling.
As if his denial of this moment will make it less real.
Will mean it hasn’t happened.
Will bring her back.

His cell phone begins ringing as he’s walking out the front doors of the hospital. Without pausing, without looking, he pulls it out of his pocket and drops it into a trash can.

It keeps ringing.

Angel is gone.

* * *


The humid smells of a summer night.
Cooling asphalt.
Perfumed party-goers.
Car exhaust.
Cloying marijuana.
Charcoaled food.
The sharp tang of alcohol.
Disturbed earth.

Angel walked the city.
Everywhere.
Anywhere.
Aimless.

He stopped in bars.
Grabbing a beer here.
A shot of Tequila there.

It didn’t slow his pace.
It didn’t quench his thirst.
It never did.
Ever.

Surrounded by warm bodies.
Surrounded by heartbeats.
Surrounded by breathing.

The more he tried to shut out the pain, the more it hurt.

Cordelia would not be getting up in the morning. She would not be going out that night. She would not be answering his phones, fussing over the lack of color in his clothes, nagging him for a raise. She would not be laughing at his hair style, joking about his brooding, teasing him into silent rages. She would not be flashing that million watt smile at him. Cordelia would never again pull him close in a friendly embrace that he always tried to be stand-offish about.

He always acted like it insulted him.
He always looked forward to it.

Who hugs a vampire?

He walked until his feet hurt.
Then he kept walking.
The night went on around him.

Moments like this.

Angelus raged inside of him.
He had wanted to be the one to kill her. He had loved her.
He had lusted after her. He had wanted to fuck her until she bled.
Then drink until he was full.
He felt cheated.

Angel ignored him.



* * * The Story * * *


Angel had heard the piano playing for miles over the fading sounds of the city.
Bach. Beethoven. Chopin. Burgmuller. The notes hung in the darkness.
Calling him.
Entrancing him.
He had walked so far he didn’t know where he was anymore. His internal body clock keeping track of the time. Always letting him know how much time there was until dawn.
Until death.

He followed the sound.
Because he didn’t have anything else to do.
Because he didn’t have anywhere else to go.

He was thirsty, but he’d ran out of bars to drop into a long time ago.
Not that alcohol was what he was thirsty for.
Something that Angelus wouldn’t shut up about.

He’d left the bright lights, the neon, the noise. Left the sprawling suburbs, the tract homes, the trailer homes. Silent streets with porch lights, street lamps. Mini Vans in the driveways. Bikes on the porches.
Now he was in the country. His steady pace eating up the hills, following one nameless street after another. Until he found himself along a two lane highway. Infrequently traveled.
The lights of the city, his city, lit the air behind him.
In front was only darkness.

He kept walking.

Toward the music that floated on the night air.

He found it coming from a small building that stood alone against the dark. A church.
The front doors were open, the cramped sanctuary lit with candles. He stood in the doorway, instinctively inhaling.
Blood had been spilled in here.
Recently.

A woman sat at the piano up on the stage. Her back to him. She stopped playing and turned on the bench.

“Angelus.”

In his stupor of emotional and physical pain, Angel let Angelus out just enough to answer.

“At your service.”

A vampire.
She was a vampire.
No game face, he knew just by looking at her.

“Who did you kill?”

Curiosity taking up the last of his emotion.

“The Pastor. He was a pedophile.”

She stood up and Angel felt Angelus smirk at what she was wearing.
Priest’s clothing. Black pants. Black boots. Black shirt and coat.
Complete to the white collar around her neck.
She took a couple steps toward him and he could see a gold cross hanging from a matching chain at her belt loop. Loosely tethered, so that it didn’t actually come in contact with her slim legs.
Her hair was white blonde, the shade that his Childe William was constantly trying to achieve with his dyes. Cut short, so that it stuck out in jelled spikes. Her skin white marble. Her eyes the lightest of blues.
Sky blue.
Ashen blue.

They looked at each other. Not moving. Not breathing.

“I was coming to find you. And here you are.”

Her voice was butterscotch and whiskey. Angel could tell she was almost as old as himself. Give or take a few hundred years.

A deep wave of exhaustion washed over him. He moved into the church and sat down in the last pew.

His feet hurt.
His head hurt.
His heart hurt.

Angelus rattled his cage, wanting out.
He was not tired. He was not in pain. He was angry and hungry.
Oh, so very hungry.

Angel couldn’t remember when he’d eaten.
The last packet of animal blood he’d drank.
The thought of it sickened him.

The thought of it maddened Angelus.

He took another deep breath, pulling the vampire’s scent to him.
Lilacs and violets, smoke and alcohol. Human blood on her, in her. Underneath it all, the smell of the last place she bedded down, the soap she used to shower with, the shampoo she washed with, was the faintest smell of dusky, damp roses.

He knew that smell.
Darla.

“She made you. When?”

“The Year of our Lord, 1901.”

Angel thought back, sifting through time in his brain. He remembered 1900. China. Finding Darla and Spike and Drusilla in the madness of the Boxer Rebellion. Trying to prove to his Sire that he was still worthy of her. Failing miserably. Seeing her burning, hateful glare as he ran from her. As he saved a human baby from her. From himself.

Then the empty, painful years after that.
The constant, draining, killing pain and despair that his life had become.
He quickly jumped out of those memories.
Focus on the now.
It was all he could do.

“Why are you here?”

She asked, moving her arms to indicate the church. The cross swinging from her belt catching the light from the candles, sparkling. Angel didn’t know how to answer that. So he just told her the truth.

“A friend died tonight. I was walking.”

She nodded, taking two more steps closer to him, still keeping a wary distance.

“In this war you’re waging?”

Angel shook his head.

“No. In a senseless way. A meaningless way. A robbery gone wrong at a gas station.”

If Angel thought that he’d out-walked the pain, if he thought he’d lost it, like he had himself, he was wrong.

It came slamming back into him.

Hard.
Hurtful.
Dancing on his soul.

He crouched forward in the pew. His arms around himself. His fingers digging into his biceps.
Angel didn’t need to breath, didn’t need oxygen to survive. But he found himself gasping for air as the ragged, harsh sobs wracked him. Tears fell down his cheeks. Inarticulate sounds torn from his throat.

He felt a soft touch in his hair and looked up. His vision was blurry, so he closed his eyes. She sat beside him on the wooden bench. He felt her arms go around him and he melted into her strong embrace. Too tired, too in pain, too confused to be concerned with what or who she was. Only that she was holding him, touching him, letting him cry on her.

How long it went on, he didn’t know.
Didn’t care.
When the gut wrenching sobs slowly trailed into silence, when the tears stopped, he felt the cold skin of her palm on his cheek.

He looked up and her face was right there.
Her mouth was right there.
Her lips soft and pink.
Her eyes so full of distress.
For him.

Angelus was screaming inside.

Kiss her. Kill her. Fuck her.
Do something.
Anything.

So Angel did.

He moved his hand behind her head, crushing her lips into his.
Their mouths open, tongues touching.
His teeth cutting her without intent.
The taste of blood.

Angel was lost.

* * *


The moment he walked into the church I knew who he was.
I could smell his soul.
His demon trapped within his humanity.

Liam.
Angelus.
Angel.

Sired before me by Darla.
The Blonde Satan.
The Queen Bitch of Pain.

I had been slowly making my way west.
Coming to him.
Finally.

After all these years of wandering.
Listening to tales told of the Vampire with a Soul by Fledglings, by Elders, by Masters.
Tales told before I killed them.

A stake through the heart.
A push into the sun.
A simple decapitation.

I was their worst nightmare.
I was a vampire with a mission.
I was Death.

I knew all about his war.
His battle to right his wrongs.
His prophecy.

After all, I was made because of that.
Because of his curse.
Because of his soul.

I met Darla, Drusilla and William in Venice.
As they slaughtered my Sisters.
Killed my Mother.
Stole my life.

I was a Carmelite Nun. Just recently Accepted into the Order. One of the youngest ever Chosen.

It was my destiny.
It was my calling.
It was my home.

I spoke to God on a daily basis. As did all the nuns.
The difference was, God answered me.
Literally.
I had always heard his voice in my ear, since before I could walk.
I know I was a strange child. I know my parents were lost in their caring for me.
Their love.
But I didn’t need them.
I had God.

The day I was Accepted was the happiest of my life.
The day after, I watched as the trio drank the essence from my new family.
Watched as Dru tortured my Sisters.
Watched as William fucked my Mother Superior to death.

What stopped them from taking me was what had made me forever different from everyone else.
Dru saw it first. We stared at each other across the Rectory. Her face made impossibly vicious by her demon, the innocent’s blood dripping from her fangs. William had just made a move to grab me, to drag me from the corner in which I was so ineffectually hiding.

“Not that one. She’s special. She’s for Grand-Mummy.”

I recognized a kindred spark in her eyes as her face changed.
She had been like me.
God had spoken to her.
Now she was insane.
I wondered who talked to her these days.

The immediate time after that still eludes me.
And for that I am grateful.
What little I do remember is days and nights of pain.
Starvation.
Torture.
Tears.

Darla was looking for the reason behind the mystery.
The moral behind the story.
The demon behind the soul.
And she thought that I could help her.

She told me a wonderful tale of love and lust between two vampires.
A tale that spanned an incredible amount of time.
A tale of death.
A tale of loss.

She told me about Angelus.

She wanted him back. She needed him back. She was so angry. She was so lonely.
He had made her complete when she had made him.
She had finally found someone that couldn’t be controlled.
Couldn’t be planned around.
Couldn’t be arranged.

He had constantly surprised her with his wit. His evil.
His pathological humor. His threshold for pain.
And now he was gone. Now he was lost. Now he had a soul.

She told it to me. Again and again. Beating me. Burning me. Breaking me. Draining me.
She let William have me. His cold cock inside of me. Over and over. Everywhere.
She let Drusilla have me. Her icy fingers touching, pinching, cutting. On and on.

She would stroke herself as they played with my body.
And I would watch.
Because watching her pleasure herself at my pain became the only thing that kept me alive.

By the end I also loved Angelus.
I craved to be held against his strong chest.
I begged to be touched by his knowing fingers.
I cried to be kissed with his silken lips.

She finally realized that I had no answers.
That although I was a conduit to God,
He would not talk to her.
William and Dru wanted me dead.

Darla was far more malicious.

“When we turn, we keep what we were.

I was a selfish, egotistical whore. And so now I am.

William thought that he was better than everyone else. And so now he is.

Drusilla was driven crazy. And so now she is.

Angelus was a smart, conniving ass-hole. And so he was.

You are holy. Touched by God Himself.”

Her face changed. Her demon showing itself to me.

“I wonder what you will take into this life.”

She took the last of my blood from me.
I could hear my heart slowing. My rationality leaving. My soul departing.
And then she offered me her blood. Cut deep into her wrist. Put it to my mouth.
I didn’t want it. I was ready for my Heaven. I was done here.

Then my tongue tasted that ambrosia.

In the end, we all drink.

* * *


Darla kept me close for the first twenty years or so. Close as in a prisoner. Close as in tied up.
She was afraid I would end this experiment before she tired of it.
Afraid I would step into the sun.
Afraid I would stab myself through the chest.
And she was right to be.

I wouldn’t kill.
But I couldn’t help but drink.

It was madness. The pull in my veins.
It was lush. The thick, red fluid.
It was agony. The wanting, the needing.
The hunger.
The thirst.

I occupied her time when she wasn’t raging about Angelus.
I became her distraction as she educated me about my new life.
I became her lover when I realized that I did.
Love her.

Because it was all that was keeping me sane.
Keeping me from becoming a paler version of Drusilla.

She excelled in passing for human and she shared all her secrets with me.
She taught me to dress in finery.
She taught me to charm strange men.
She taught me how to act as if I owned the world.

But I knew it was hollow. Shallow. A lie.
And her rejection when I wouldn’t take an innocent life hurt more than her slaps.
Her whipping.
Her hate.
I had learned more than she had taught. I had listened for too many days, too many years to her ranting of Angelus.
His act after he was changed.
His pathetic attempt to get back into her good graces.
His pain at her denial.

I knew that I could pick out the killers among the humans.
The rapists.
The sinners.

And on them alone I would feed.

I knew I had accepted, on my own, her arm.
Her blood.
This life.
This demon.

We traveled through Europe and Asia. Darla, Drusilla, William and I.
Quite an odd combination.
We stayed in sumptuous castles and opulent hotels. Attended balls and operas, though William usually missed out on the latter. Too busy out chasing down girls in the streets to partake of any real culture.

As my confidence and knowledge of my physical abilities grew, I took less and less punishment from the others. Soon Darla was the only one who could stop me from ripping William’s throat out, from braining Drusilla. And that was only because I was afraid of unleashing my anger on her. Afraid that if I let it out, set it free, it would control me forever. And I would become like them.

After fifty years had passed, seemingly a blink of the eye, I left them.
I knew that if I stayed I would kill them.
I should have.

I watched the world change and grow around me. From a loft in London. From a chalet in Switzerland.
And then I started hearing the tales. The stories. The legends.
Angelus.
Angel.

So I started walking.
West.
To the New World.
America.

I took an ocean voyage. Always a peril for a vampire. Can’t kill the passengers.
But I knew that Angelus had done this. In his condition. Tormented by his soul.
I could do it too.

Although it wasn’t just the sickly tasting rat blood that almost did me in.
It was the ocean.
Stuck down in the stinking hold, in the storage compartments, I vomited blood for days.
Sea sick. Hungry. Lonely.
I knew I would walk the Bering Straights before I ever got back on a boat again.

I looked the perfect evil when the cruise ended.
Pale as parchment, my clothes stained with blood and bile.
Rat hair in my fingernails, in my teeth.
I spent my first night in New York haunting alleys and wharfs.
Killing the first person with a bad thought in their heads.
I may have slipped that night. I may have drained someone who didn’t quite deserve it.

But I was hungry.
And I was a demon.

Sometimes it can be very hard to control.
Sometimes it would be so very easy to not.

So I have taken to wearing the dress of a Priest. Carrying a cross from my belt.
Although occasionally it burns me, it reminds me of who and what I was.
It reminds me of who and what I am.

Now I stand with the myth.
With Angelus.
With Angel.

Scared that he will kill me.
Scared that I wish he would.
Filled with the desire that was pounded into me by Darla.
Filled with the compassion that was my true nature.

His face was expressionless as he stood in the small church’s doorway. His posture defeated.
We seemed a matching pair. Both dressed in black.
He had a way of looking at you, his chin tucked down, his brows heavy over his eyes.

As if he could see right through to the very center.
As if he already knew the answers to any questions he might ask.
As if he might be asking just to see if you would lie.

I could see the demon behind his human façade. As I’m sure that he could see mine.

Then he did the most unexpected thing.

He cried.

For a human.

For a friend.

For the injustice of an untimely death.

I couldn’t help myself.
I went to him.
I set down beside him, my cross dangling between my thighs.
I held him.
I had never seen a vampire cry.
He looked up at me once, his eyes swimming in tears.
Dark chocolate. With flecks of gold. Full of pain.
I heard myself crooning nonsense words into his soft brown hair.
Holding his head into my chest.

When it tapered off, when his deep shudders stopped, he raised his chin and looked at me.
I drowned in his stare.
And then he kissed me.

Hard kisses.
Bloody kisses.

I could see Angelus screaming in his eyes.

* * *

Angel stood up, pulling her with him. His lips not breaking contact with hers.
He wanted her in his arms.
He wanted her closer.
He wanted in her.

The heavy pew bench fell backwards. They didn’t hear it.
Angel held her face in his hands. Sucking at her tongue. Biting at her lips. Warming to her taste.

The taste of human blood.
The taste of demon blood.

It reminded him that she was a vampire.
It reminded him of William. Of Darla. Of Drusilla.
It reminded him that it had been a long time since he’d had sex with another vampire.
A long time since William’s last visit.

With humans he had to be respectful.
With humans he had to be compassionate.
With humans he had to be careful.
They break.

He finally stepped back from her.
His tongue licked a stray drop of her blood from his lips.
He watched as she carefully unhooked the chain that held the cross from her pants.
Watched as she hung it over the leg of the overturned pew.

He put his hands on her shirt. Tore it from her body.
He put his hands on her cold skin. On her breasts.
He buried his face in them. His hands squeezing. Twisting.
He filled his mouth with one and she arched her back up to him.
Her hands on his shoulders.
Small moans of pleasure pulled from her.

Angel heard growling.
Realized it was coming from him.
Angelus smiled.

He pushed her back. Up to the front of the church. Until she was caught between the communion table and his tense, hard body. He stripped her bare. Then ripped off his own clothes.
The warm light from the flames of the candles gave them both the appearance of life.
The amber color of the sun.

She knelt before him, running her hands down his chest. Until she was eyelevel with his jutting cock.
Angel watched.
Angelus purred.

Her tongue darted out from between her pink lips.
Tasting him.
Taunting him.
He put his hands on her stiff white hair and moved her closer.
She opened and he dove in.

Her teeth scraping his sensitive skin.
Her wet mouth surrounding him.
Her tongue stroking him.

Angel’s hands started the rhythm.
Deep thrusts.
And she followed.
Her cool fingers gripping his thighs.
Kneading his flesh.

Too quickly he reached the point of no return.
It had been too long denied.
It was not nearly enough.

Angel howled when he released into her mouth.
His eyes open.
Yellow.
Glazed.

Still hungry.

She licked him clean and he pulled her up to him.
Put her onto the table.
Stood between her legs.

He licked the hollow of her throat.
Bit at her nipples. Nuzzled Angelus’ favorite spot to drink, just under the weight of a breast.
Skin that had never seen the light of day, even when she had been alive. Silk.

He moved lower.
She lay back on the table. Her hands gripping the wood. Her knuckles white.
Angel knelt. Put his hands under her legs.
Lifted her center to his mouth. Inhaling her.
Spreading her with his fingers. Tasting her.

He slid a finger into her. Then another.
Pushing them apart.
Curling them up.
His tongue flicking.
His teeth biting.

She came around his fingers. Clamping down on them.
Angel’s cock was engorged. Blood red.
His nerves were thrumming.

He stood up. Slammed himself into her.
Rocked her back with his intensity.
Angel dimly heard her scream.

She used his arms to climb up to a sitting position on the table. Held onto him.
The table creaked and groaned beneath them. He braced the front of his legs against it. His hands under her again.
Leaving a trail of dark purple bruises. Perfect fingerprints.
He lifted her.
Bringing himself completely out. Then thrusting in again.
And again.
And again.

He opened his eyes.
No longer brown.
Looked into hers.
No longer blue.

No longer human.

They kissed. Teeth against teeth.
Tasting the blood.
Tasting the sex.

She leaned her head back.
Offered her neck.
Offered her death.

Submission.
Trust.

Angel accepted.

* * *

We slept that day in the crawl space beneath the church.
The smell of earth surrounding us.
I was wrapped in Angel’s arms.

Resting.
Thinking.
Healing.

My throat itched where he’d torn.
My ribs ached where he’d broken.
My insides throbbed where he’d bruised.

Petty things.

I knew that he was not finished with me.
Because I was still alive.

His cock had never softened. Even now, if I moved just right, he’d be back inside of me.
I pushed against him, pleased with the thought.
He tightened his grip around me. His forehead on the back of my neck.
He slept.

I stayed awake.
The church above us silent. It was the middle of the week.
We’d put out all the candles. Closed the doors. Watched the sky turn from black to dark blue from a window.

No one would miss the man I’d killed until Sunday.
No one would find his drained body in the well.

I could barely make out the pile of our clothes. Gathered and stacked beside us. The long chain of my cross twisted in my fingers.

Angel had laid down with me without speaking. His human face set in stone. Softening only once.
To kiss me. Gently. Tenderly.
Unlike any way I’d ever been kissed before.

Then he’d pulled me up to him, my back to his chest. His knees bent into the fold of mine. His arms tight around me.
I could feel him use his lungs. Inhale my scent.
Then he was gone.
Into a vampire’s unconscious corpse-like sleep.
I joined him.

I woke alone that evening.

Slipped into my clothes.
What was left of my clothes.
They would do until I found some new.

I suppose I should’ve been grateful to Angel for leaving me alive.
But instead I was hurt.
Not for being alive.
For being left alone.

I stood on the steps of the church. Looked out at the darkening sky.
Slipped my hands into the pockets of my pants.
He’d left me something.
His business card.


* * *


The Hyperion was empty when Angel walked in.
The foyer dark. The red message light on his phone blinking.
He stood beside it. His hand over the playback button.
Hesitation.
Then he pushed it.
And listened.

Wesley’s accented English. Telling him when Cordelia’s funeral was planned. Where.
Angel could hear the pain in his friend’s voice as clear as he could feel it in himself.
There was nothing else.

He knew that he wanted to see them again.
Knew that he could trust himself with them again.
Trust that he could keep the lock tight on Angelus’ cage.

Angelus laughed.

Wesley’s apartment was empty.
Gunn’s woman told Angel he was gone.
Fred’s door man said she hadn’t been home.
He found them at Lorne’s.

The club was closed. Quiet.
They sat in a circle, various bottles decorated the table between them.
Angel came into the room. Made each one of them stand while he hugged them.
Awkward at first. Warm at the end.

They shared stories.
Memories. Experiences.
They shared Cordelia.

They drank.
They laughed.
They cried.
Touched each other’s arms.
Reassurance that they were still here.

Angel waited until Fred was asleep, leaning against Lorne.
The Pylean’s eyes glittered in the dark.
Gunn was passed out in a booth.

“I’m sorry that I left.”

Wesley shrugged. Typically British.

“It’s all right. We all have to deal with this in our own way.”

Angel shook his head.

“I was close to snapping. I couldn’t hold Angelus back.”

Wesley’s stare sharpened at Angel’s low whisper.
He knew Angelus.

“What did you do?”

“I walked. A lot. I met a vampire.”

“Did you kill it?”

“No, I fucked it.”

Wesley sat up straighter. Suddenly nervous.

“Are you. . .?”

“Angel.”

His friend relaxed back into his seat. Drank the last of his wine.

“Let me tell you about her.”

Angel described the female vampire.
The style of dress.
The cross.
Darla.

Then Wesley told him what he knew.

“The Priest. The Watcher’s Council knows of her. We were never quite sure who turned her.

She’s come up against a couple different Slayers. She always runs. Mainly because they didn’t

know who she was.”

“What do you mean?”

“They surprised her. They didn’t know her victims. Only that they were dying, or

dead. The Watcher’s have left her alone. She kills the killers. She’s avenged some deaths. Not as

Proactive as you, but in the big scheme of things. . .”

“In the big scheme of things, you never told me about her?”

“It never came up.”

“It did last night.”

Wesley laughed out loud. Slapped his hand on his knee. It woke Gunn and Fred.
Angel leaned back in his chair. His arms crossed over his chest. A corner of his lip lifted.

They all went to their homes.

Angel sat in his rooms beneath the hotel. A single lamp on beside him.
An unread book of poetry in his lap. Staring into the shadows.

Waiting.

It was near dawn when the almost imperceptible creak of a floor board above his head let him know that he was no longer alone in his hotel.

He didn’t move.

A few minutes later the door to his subterranean apartments opened and closed.

She walked in. Her steps light, wary.
She looked around the small rooms carefully.
Before she looked at Angel.

She smelled of traffic and smoke.
Apprehension and excitement. Fear and blood.
She smelled of night.

Her clothing blended in with the darkness. Her pale face glowed.
Angel could tell that she’d just fed.
He set aside his book.

“Who did you kill?”

Her lighter than light blue eyes stared at him from across the room.

“A drug dealer.”

A small grin played around her pink lips.

“Are all our conversations going to start like this?”

Angel was up, out of his chair, standing in front of her before she could blink.

“Maybe we shouldn’t talk.”

She smiled at his deep voice.

“Angelus. Come out to play?”

Angel shook his head.

“No.”

He pulled her to him. Leaned his head down into her neck.
Licked the all but healed wound.

“ But he can watch.”

Her skin was still warm from the human blood.
Angel felt his body respond to her.
Insanely hard.

He reached for the collar to her shirt. She stopped his hands. Iron in her grip.

“Let me. I don’t want to have to steal another. It makes me feel bad.”

Angel dropped his arms. Watched as she turned from him.
She shrugged out of her coat, tossed it across the back of a chair.
Unbuttoned her shirt. Dropped it on her coat.
She unhooked her cross. Set it on the table.
Kicked off her boots. Stepped out of her leather pants.

Moved back to him.
Her eyes never left his.

She unbuttoned his shirt. Dropped it on the floor.
Unhooked his belt. Let his pants slide down his legs.

Angel felt her hot open mouth kisses on his jaw.
Down his neck.
Felt her warm, feather light touches on his chest.

He took her hand. Pulled her to the bedroom. To the bed.
She let him.
He took her head in his hands. Looked into her eyes. Kissed her.

Softly.

She started to push against him.

“No.”

Angel’s whisper was husky. Strained.

“Like this.”

He kept kissing her until she was moaning into his mouth.
Little begging sounds that went straight to his groin.
He leaned her down to the bed. Laying beside her.
She reached up, touched his face.

Gently.

“Like this?”

Her whisper was hesitant. Anxious.

Angel smiled.


* * *

I woke early in the evening.
Alone again.
But this time I knew he wasn’t far.

I lay still. Listened. I could hear his voice above me. With others.
The floor creaked as they walked.
I showered. Dressed.
Went upstairs.

The lobby was lit against the dark outside. Angel leaned against the desk. His arms across his chest.
Two men, one white, one black, sat on the pouffe in the center of the room. A small woman with long hair between them. A green skinned demon sat on the steps into the room. He was the only one wearing clothes with color.

Angel saw me before anyone else. He straightened up.

“You’re awake.”

I raised a single eyebrow in his direction.

“You’re quick.”

“I am a detective.”

He matched my sarcasm.
The other men stood. Stared at me.
Then the white one took a hesitant step forward. I could tell he knew what I was, who I was.

“Wesley Windham-Price. I’ve heard, read, um, I know a lot about you.”

British. A Watcher. Brought back memories.
The black man just kept staring. Hostile. Angry.

“This is Gunn. Charles Gunn. And Fred. And Lorne.”

I nodded to them. Still kept my distance.
The woman smiled faintly. Sadly. The demon just stared.
They didn’t look happy to see me.
Angel walked over. Stood beside me.

“These are my friends.”

The black man spoke. Harsh.

“Yeah. Friends. Not food.”

“Gunn. She doesn’t eat good people.”

Wesley. Ever polite.
I grinned. A little wickedly perhaps.

“Not generally.”

“Stop it. No one is eating anyone around here.”

Angel’s words made my smile genuine.
Especially when I thought of what we’d been doing earlier.
There had been some eating involved.

He saw it.
I know if he’d still been human he’d have been blushing.
Strongly.

“We’re going to Cordelia’s funeral.”

Angel spoke again. That explained the somber clothes.
I nodded.

“You can come if. . .”

I cut him off.
This was not my place.
Not my friends.
Whatever those words meant.

“No.”

Everyone gathered their coats. Walked through the front door.
Angel waited until we were alone.

“You’ll be here when I get back?”

I shrugged.

“I’ll be here when I get back.”

He touched my shoulder. My arm. Then he was gone.

I moved around the hotel. Looked through the rooms. Some empty.
Some filled with furniture. Some had been slept in. Recently.

I thought about Angelus as I wandered.
No.
Angel.
How human he acted.
How human he was.

Was it because of his soul? His daily contact with humanity?
I’d never been around a vampire that behaved like him.

Touching. Sighing. Caring.

Though to be truthful, since my years with the Threesome,
I hadn’t spent much quality time with others of my kind.
With others of any kind.

But I doubted that there was anyone, anything that could equal Angel.

I finished with my search. Ended up in his apartment.
Weapons hung on the walls. Books over flowing the shelves.
Cds in stacks. I sorted through them. Classical. Classical. Classical.
Then down at the bottom a surprise.
Stevie Ray Vaughn. John Lee Hooker. Al DiMeola.
Barry Manilow.

A kitchen.
I looked in the refrigerator.
An old carton of ice cream sat alone in the freezer.
Cookie dough fudge mint chip.
Strange.
Blood bags on the shelves.
I smelled them.
Animal.

That must infuriate Angelus.

I walked back into his bedroom. Glanced at the rumpled blankets, sheets.
Flashes of Angel.
His hands. His tongue. His cock.
The taste of his blood.

Flesh upon flesh. Creating friction together that gave the impression of body heat between us.
His mouth on my breasts. Sucking. Licking.
His fingers inside of me. Searching. Finding.

His face above mine.
My legs wrapped around his back.
His kisses.
Tender. Wet. Passionate.

I knew now why Darla was so possessed. So angry. So lost without him.
He fornicated like other vampires ate. Played. Killed.
With all his attention. With all his senses. With his entire being.

I touched the shirts and sweaters that hung neatly in his small wardrobe.
A familiar smell caught me.
Smoke. Whiskey.
Laughter. Pain.
My demon came out.
I growled.

William.

I hated the way my hand shook as I reached into the dark corner.
Hated the way I flinched at the touch of the cloth.

I ripped the coat out. Threw it on the floor.
Black leather motorcycle jacket.

It lay there.
I was frozen.

Fully expecting him to materialize.
To stand there.

All sharp edges.
Cheekbones. Teeth. Eyes. Fingers.
Everything about William was designed to cut. To hurt. To kill.

I made myself walk toward it.
Made myself pick it up.

William’s scent was faint. Old. He hadn’t worn this for a while.
I forced my human mask back.
Dropped the coat.

I needed to get out of here.
I left.

* * *

Angel sat in his kitchen.
Halfway through a bottle of Tequila.
Thinking. Remembering. Brooding.

She came in his apartment silently. Sat in the chair across from him. Drank the shot he’d just poured.

“We need to talk.”

His voice low. Quiet.

“So talk.”

Angel looked at her. Their almost phosphorescent skin created the semblance of light between them.

“Why did Darla turn you?”

“As punishment. For not giving her the answers she wanted.

As an experiment. To find out what I would become.”

“What have you become?”

The question seemed to catch her off guard. She hesitated.

“A vampire.”

“No you are not. A vampire kills without regard. A vampire eats without guilt.

A vampire doesn’t wear a priest’s clothing. A vampire doesn’t carry a cross.”

“I am what I am.”

There was a long silence. Angel poured more Tequila.

“Why were you looking for me?”

“I was made because of you.”

She saw him wince at that. Like she’d slapped him hard across the face.

“I’m sorry.”

His word were full of pain.

“I know.”

She reached over. Touched his hand. Recognized him in her action.

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“Then who’s fault was it? Who takes the blame in your creation?”

His anger over shadowed his depression for a moment.

“God.”

“What?”

“I believe that everything is God’s Plan. We all have a Purpose. Perhaps I’ve done more good than

harm by being this way. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever know. I’ll just continue being what I

Am. Doing what I do. Until I can’t. Until I don’t.”

“What about me? What is your God’s Plan for me?”

She heard the harsh agony that he kept inside.

“You have your Prophecy. Your Shanshu. Your Redemption.”

“Sometimes it’s too hard. Fighting everything. Everyone. Angelus.”

“You are strong. If it’s what you really want, really need, really deserve, it will be your reward.”

“If not?”

“Angel, why do you keep questioning your life? Why don’t you just live it? Accept it?”

Angel smiled in the dark. Evading her question. Or his answer.

“That’s the first time you’ve ever called me Angel.”

“This is the first time you’ve acted like him.”

She stood up. Unhooked the cross from her belt. Hung it on an empty coat hook by the stairs up to his door.

“I’m leaving this for you. Even if it means nothing to you, you will remember what it means to

me.”

She moved to his side. Touched his strong face.
Traced his jaw. His cheeks. His lips.
Looked for signs of Angelus in his eyes.
Found none.

“You’ve taught me so much in such a short time. That I can have people in my life. That I can care

about more than just to kill the sinners. Eat the killers. That perhaps, someday, I can have friends

like you.”

Angel kissed her. Tasted alcohol. Tasted her.

“You already do.”

He spoke to empty air.
She was gone.

The cross swung on the wall.
Slowing.
Stopping.

Angel drank.



* * *The Epilogue * * *


Alone again.

Angel stood on a roof top. Looked out over his city.
So many people. So much pain.
If he let himself, he could feel it coming up to him.
Coating the very air with hurt.

He looked up. The lights blanketed out the stars.
But he knew they were there.
Just as he couldn’t see the end of his life.
He knew it was there.
Waiting for him.

Moments like this.

Waiting for the Powers to open up another conduit for him.
Put him back on the path of redemption. Of honor.
Of saving the world. Of saving his soul.

Doyle.
Cordelia.

Casualties in his war. In this life.
He hoped there wouldn’t be anymore.
He hoped that the end was near.

Angelus stalked around inside him.
Angry. Hungry. Horny.
Always.

Angel practiced his meditation.
Closed his eyes.
Listened to the night.

Angel waited.


* * * The End * * *


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