The west-facing wall of the beach house's living room is made of glass
and, with the deadly light safely filtered by the specially tinted glass,
Angel has a beautiful view of the setting sun from where he sits in
the big leather chair. He holds Joyce on his lap she rests limply against
him, utterly exhausted by the long day of carnal excess. His arms are
wrapped around her holding her tight; he is still buried inside her,
unwilling to have it end. She is still going. Her plane takes off at
11:00 a.m. tomorrow. Their last day gone, and nothing he has said or
done has made any difference.
He told her that morning. She had been eating breakfast on the sunlit
half of the verandah, he stood on the side shaded by the bamboo blinds,
watching her for a long time, gathering the courage to speak. The salt
and tropical sun had destroyed her perm but added highlights to her
hair and she wears it pulled back into a loose braid, it makes her look
impossibly young like an earlier, happier version of her that he'd never
had the chance to meet.
"Joyce," he said. She looked up smiling.
"Don't go." He read the doom of his hopes in her eyes even
before she spoke.
"I can't Angel. This has been wonderful, but I can't."
"Why not?" He struggled to keep his voice calm.
"Angel," she spoke gently, conscious of the pain in his
eyes. "What kind of life could we have? How long would we last?"
"Forever. I love you Joyce." Her eyes widened in shock.
Angel took a step forward but was forced to stop at the edge of the
light. "Do you believe me?" She opened her mouth to deny it,
then changed her mind.
"Yes, I do believe you," she said, her voice low. She shook
her head, her voice rose. "But that's now. What happens when I
start to wrinkle up? Do you really want to be tied to some balding,
sagging, resentful old woman? Do you think I want to *be* that old woman,
hating you for never getting any older?"
"It's you Joyce, not your body that I love." Wanting to
reach out to her but frustrated by the sunlight.
"Angel, no. Please don't ruin our last day together," she
pleaded. He could see the steel beneath the softness in her eyes, and
knew that pushing her would only make her more adamant. Not trusting
his voice, he nodded and went back inside to wait for her.
Now, at the end of the day, he presses his mouth to the side of her
neck in a gentle kiss. "You just need a little time to persuade
her," the demon insinuated. "It'd be easy." Angel stiffened,
remembering just how persuasive Angelus could be. He could change Joyce's
mind, make her stay, make her love him, and in the process twist her
heart and soul out of all recognition. Drusilla was Angelus's triumph,
his dark masterpiece, but she wasn't the first or the last person whose
soul he'd blackened before swallowing it whole.
But he can't help thinking of how easy it would be to let his teeth
slip into her, to drain her just until she's too weak to protest. Her
plane would take off and she would remain here with him. The demon reminded
him that her traveling companion had never seen him, never known his
name. This was a private estate, he could keep her here for as long
as it took to convince her of his love.
Joyce lay drifting in Angel's embrace, watching the sun being eaten
by the shining sea. She could feel his shrinking presence inside her,
a faint chill radiating into her core. He'd been silent and perfectly
still since he'd kissed her neck. She was so tired. There was not an
inch of her body he had not kissed, licked, nibbled, stroked; not an
orifice that he'd neglected in his frenzy to memorize or possibly mark
her. She was going to be walking like a cowboy tomorrow. Hopefully she'd
be able to get some sleep on the plane.
Angel loved her. That shock delivered that morning over a breakfast
of salt fish & ackee and croissants; she'd been looking out over
the blue sea, blue sky, thinking about how much she'd miss all of this
beauty, when he'd said her name. She'd looked at him, wondering how
long he'd been standing there, watching her. "Don't go." "I
love you." His dark eyes so earnest and compelling in his beautiful
face. Shirtless, his pale skin gleaming. Temptation incarnate.
She'd seriously considered the consequences of yes. To have Angel,
his devotion, that face, that body every night. To abandon her life
in Sunnydale and stay here in paradise, with him. To never have to argue
with another idiot importer, balance another checkbook, pay another
bill, or worry about being alone.
Never being able to see her grandchildren, her daughter, or her friends.
Growing older, while her lover never aged. She almost believed him when
he said he wouldn't care, but she knew he was wrong when he said it
wouldn't matter. And last but not least, she didn't love him. She let
out a tiny sigh against his chest, vacation was over, she had to go
back to her life.
"Do it," the demon hissed, hungry for the taste of her.
Angel felt her shift in his arms, shivering as the evening breeze chilled
the sweat on her body. He should let her go, she needed to rest. Needed
to eat, to pack her clothes, to get ready to leave him.
"Angel," Joyce said. "I need to get up." He didn't
respond, except for the flicker of cold as his tongue slipped past his
lips and tasted her neck. "Angel? Let me go please." She felt
his arms tighten around her, and felt a hint of the true strength in
those cool arms. She had the uneasy thought that there wasn't much she
could do about it if he didn't let her go. Then she felt the tension
go out of him and he lifted her up and off his lap.
Joyce stood up, a little unsteady on her feet, and smiled at him.
He looked at her, his dark eyes unreadable. She leaned forward to give
him a long and lingering kiss, before walking away.
"Fool," the demon mocked as he watched the last of the light
fading from the sea. Thinking of how tired he was of being left. Buffy,
Doyle, Cordelia, Wesley, Bone, Nabbit, and Faith: all gone, one way
or another. Everyone who he thought had cared for him had, in the end,
left him alone.
He had fought the good fight, and as a reward had his soul, permanently,
his proof that he had atoned, that he had balanced the karmic scales.
He was as free to seek perfect happiness as any other sentient being.
For months after the final battle, he'd considered hunting down another
Mohra demon and taking its blood to make him human again...but in the
end the truth was that he no longer wanted to be human. For over 200
years he'd been strong, fast, nearly invulnerable, ageless. Then, on
that day that only he remembered, he'd had a taste of humanity. Had
his faded memories of what it was like to be human refreshed; how it
felt to be weak, slow, to be hurt without the certainty of healing,
to know that each heartbeat marked the inevitable approach of death.
He hadn't liked it. Buffy's love might have given him the courage to
face the terrors of mortality, but it was too late for that now.
And now Joyce was leaving him and he wasn't sure he had the strength
to let her go.
He had warned them all, repeatedly, that he was weak. That they should
fear the man as much as the demon. All they saw, all any of them ever
wanted to see was the façade of Angel, the hero, bravely battling
the forces of darkness. Angel, the perfect knight, selflessly sacrificing
his love to the cause. They ignored the truth, that he had none of the
strength or purity of his namesake. That Angelus, not Angel was the
Angelus was pure, unameliorated evil, a demon's demon. Angel had always
believed that this was because the personality of Liam, the human whose
memories and body the vampire was heir to; Liam stripped of his feeble
empathy, guilt, and compassion, amounted to little or nothing against
the demon's desire. He'd been a handsome, weak-willed wastrel, 27 years
old and still living in his fathers' house. Liam had loved only gin,
porter, and ale, and when drunk enough, a good fight. Even sex was something
he did only if it weren’t too much trouble. Darla hadn't chosen
him because she’d perceived some core of evil potential, but because
he was big and pretty and *there*. She'd been pleasantly surprised by
the magnitude of monster she'd created in Angelus.
Darla. He saw her dissolve into dust, utter shock on her face as he
killed her again. He still missed her on some level. They had been together
for a century and change, not always together but linked. There were
times he even missed Drusilla. Spike, on the other hand, he'd be more
than glad to kill if he ever got the chance.
It was full dark now, the unnervingly quick tropical sunset complete.
He stood up and followed the sound of falling water.
Billows of steam filled the bathroom as he entered. Under the white
noise he could hear Joyce's tuneless singing. He smiled to himself,
she couldn't sing, and he couldn't dance. They obviously belonged together.
"Angel," Joyce protested as he stepped into the shower,
naked. He loomed over her in what had seemed a generous space. "What...I
can't..." Her protests cut off with a yelp of surprise as he pushed
her back against the shower wall and dropped to his knees. Water poured
down over both of them, warming his skin and half-blinding her as he
spread her legs wide. He put one hand at her hip, bracing her, she was
trapped between his cool mouth against her cunt, and the cool tiles
against her back.
His tongue lazily laved her labia, taking his time, in no apparent
hurry. She felt the heat, the concentration of blood heavy between her
legs; she moaned, her legs buckling, starting to slide down the wall,
Angel caught her, effortlessly supporting her weight on his arms. Only
when she was good and wet did he take her button into his mouth, and
gently began sucking on it sending waves of intense, almost painful
sensations through her. It felt too good, almost frighteningly so. She
was enjoying this, and she didn't want to think too much about why he
was doing this, now. He'd kept their deal all day, hadn't begged once
or repeated his declaration. His tongue thrust deep inside her and she
shuddered, and came feeling like she was melting, dissolving into his
As she leaned back, trying to catch her breath she suddenly wondered
if subsequent lovers would seem too awkward, too warm compared to her
memory of this.
"God, Angel." She stroked his hair, darkened and flattened
by the water. She liked it better this way. He didn't speak, but continued
to hold her in place his face buried at her core, his tongue busy inside
and out until all of her secretions were gone, before carefully setting
her on her feet again. He turned off the water, stepped out of the shower,
and returned with a towel. Still silent. She could read nothing in his
face, and exhausted, she let him sweep her up in his arms. He carried
her into the bedroom where he toweled her dry, dressed her in a nightgown,
tucked her into bed, and left her there.
As she drifted off, she heard the front door open and close.
Joyce sighed as she put the last few souvenirs in her suitcase and
forced it shut. She carried it out to the hallway and set it down in
a pool of sunlight. Checked her watch, it was a little past 9. The taxi
would be here in a few minutes. It didn't look like she would be able
to say goodbye to Angel. She wondered where the hell he was.
She'd woken a few hours after his appearance in the shower, and he
wasn't there. She'd wandered through the house, searching for him, feeling
more than a little like Jane Eyre, or Bluebeard's wife, but there was
no insane wife in the attic, no attic in fact, no hidden chamber painted
with blood, and no Angel. She ate a lonely dinner in the kitchen, read
a little, and went to bed around midnight. It was full daylight now,
so wherever he was he wasn't going to be able to get back before she
left. Even if he wanted to. She sighed, it was a sad end to a lovely
vacation. She turned to go back to her room to make sure she hadn't
"Angel!" Joyce gasped as he stepped out of the deep shadow
next to the door. How did he do that, she wondered distractedly as he
moved forward, crowding her, making her to step back until her back
was pressed against the wall. She looked up at him, tried to smile,
and was chilled by the depths of sorrow she saw in his eyes. He stood
there, too close. His clothes were torn and full of sand. There was
a coppery sharpness to his scent. She wondered where he'd been and waited
for him to speak.
"Please, Joyce, don't go." He strokes her hair with a gentle
hand. There is something dark, like blood, caught under his nails.
"I can't. Let me go Angel."
"No." His voice is soft and even. She feels fear and disbelief
as he moves forward abruptly, pinning her with his body against the
wall. He covers her mouth, pushes her chin up, and puts his velvet soft
mouth over the pulsing vein. She gasps as his teeth go in, razor sharp,
exquisitely painful. She tries to scream through his restraining hand
as she feels the horrible draining feeling as he begins to draw out
Her blood fills his mouth, and it’s sweet with fear, redolent
of Joyce, carrying her essence, recalling to him every time he’s
touched her skin, buried himself inside her, loved her. He draws out
the moment as long as he can, rolling the blood in his mouth, memorizing
the taste of it, of her and then swallows, feeling it move into him,
becoming part of him, his forever. Joyce. He removes his fangs and carefully
licks the wounds closed, savoring every last molecule before moving
away from her and letting her free. She cowers, staring at him, shocked.
Outside, a horn sounds. The taxi.
"Go. Now." He tells her, and turns his back so he doesn't
have to see her go. He feels the brief blast of heat as the door opens
and is slammed shut. Listens to the sound of the taxi's door being hastily
opened and closed and finally the noisy retreat of the car engine as
it carries her away.