Ill Wind

The Challenge
Written for: JustHuman
Requirements: Wesley and Files & Records (I can take this as the character we saw or just a position filled by another character)
Restrictions: No het
Spoiler Max Level: No Restrictions
Rating Max Level: No Restrictions

Previously on Angel:

The Santana came down from the mountains, roaring through the arroyos scouring every drop of moisture from every leaf and twig on its way, turning the brush into kindling just waiting for a spark. Released into the Los Angeles basin it rattled the dead palm fronds and pulled at old branches, sending cascades of yellowed sycamore leaves to the ground. The dry wind made throats dry and eyes itch and scratched at human nerves.

Darla smiled; her belly was warm and tight with blood, her sire/sister Drusilla was happy and fairly coherent and she liked the way the arid wind made her cool flesh tingle with the illusion of warmth. Best of all the horrible confusion in her head caused by a pounding heart and dying body was a rapidly fading memory. She was herself again and she meant to make this town bleed.

“I want to make this quick, all right?” she told Drusilla briskly. “We go in, weed out the losers, then leave. I've got precious little patience left.”

Drusilla smiled as she saw the repair shop. “Oh, it's beautiful - dark and dank - it reeks of death.”

“That's motor oil, Dru.”

“Can we buy it? It could be our castle.”

Darla sighed. “There's no view. Plus, we're broke.” She reconsidered. “Though I suppose Lindsey could help out in that respect. If they haven't killed him yet.

Drusilla’s eyes turned inward as she remembered the lovely screams. The pretty boy made of stone, unmoved even when she’d painted a smile on his face. Better yet was the girl with her lovely soft skin, so beautifully terrified and willing to do anything to live. “I like the girl. She's wicked,” Drusilla mused.

Darla chuckled. “They're sweet kids. Naïve, but they're only human. I doubt they even know what Wolfram and Hart's true plan for Angel is.”

Dru put her hand on the garage door and gasped. “Ten little soldiers all in a line… A shot rings out,” she slapped one hand into the other with a loud crack! “-- and down to nine.”

“Ten? I'll be happy if we find three who can hack it,” Darla scoffed. She slid open the massive door and recoiled at the reek that boiled out at her.

“Dead already?” Drusilla complained. “Bad soldiers. You shall have no treats.”

Puddles of blood and ichor leaked from the hacked and broken bodies of their would-be army. The choking smell of vampire dust hung in the air. Another odor teased at the back of her mind as she stepped inside. Dead. All of them, dead.

“What?” Darla couldn’t quite process what had happened. She stiffened as something moved in the shadows at the back. Light flared as the match ignited and it was Angel, of course it was, his face battered and smeared. He lit the cigarette hanging from his lip the end glowed red as he took a deep drag. It brought back memories of better times. Angelus had adored his cigarillos. There were so many entertaining games that could be played with glowing
coals and fragile skin.

“Daddy?” Drusilla stepped forward hopefully, splashing in the wetness. Darla felt the liquid seeping into the sides of her new red pumps.

”I should have known,” Darla said, her true face sliding into place as her rage blossomed. “You just can’t leave me alone, can you?”

Dru stopped. “A shadow –,” she whispered.

“Why so far away, my love? Why don't you come over here and… stake me?” He didn’t move. “Angel?” The name sunk into the silence without a trace. “Angelus?” She asked, knowing better, but hoping. He didn’t move, didn’t acknowledge her in any way. She looked straight into his eyes, there was nothing there she recognized. He took a last draw of his cigarette and tossed it away.

As the glowing ember fell the odor that had been hovering at the periphery of her consciousness suddenly snapped into focus. She stared down in shock at the pool of gasoline they were standing in. Drusilla wailed as the cigarette landed. Darla grabbed for Drusilla’s hand and turned to flee. A gust of wind made the flame roar and she was on fire and all she cared about was saving herself. She ran screaming out into the cold clear air and rolled on the dirty ground to smother the flames eating into her flesh. Last time he’d killed her it hadn’t hurt much: there had been just the sudden sharp pain of betrayal and then a white storm scattered her thoughts and everything else she’d ever been into oblivion.

But this time she doesn’t die. The flames went out leaving her to lie panting in the dirt. Her legs looked like raw meat and they felt as though they were still burning but they held her when she went to stand.

“Dru?” It was quiet, except for the wind’s arid whistle. She hesitated, then limped back to the garage. She knew it was a stupid thing to do, that Angel could be waiting inside to finish the job, but she almost didn’t care.

The last few flames flared then guttered out as she stepped inside the garage. There was no-one there; just charred carcasses and anonymous ash stirred by the restless breeze.

She stood there for a long time with the wind plucking at her back.


He stood cloaked by the dark and their typical obliviousness, watching his ex-employees through the uncurtained window of their new office. Cordelia was fooling around pretending to file while Gunn polished his home-made axe and Wesley read the newspaper. Looked like business was slow. Good. The sooner they gave up this idiotic idea of continuing the business without him the better their chances of getting out of this mess alive. Otherwise Wesley and his ‘Fighting the Good Fight” bullshit would end up getting them all killed.

Cordelia dropped the file, papers scattering as she fell under the onslaught of the vision. Angel’s arms ached with the urge to catch her and he winced when her friends’ merely human reflexes were too slow to keep her head from hitting the linoleum. He felt a twinge of something watching Gunn hold her while she writhed in pain. After the vision passed both men helped her to her chair.

Wesley took notes as she gasped out the details of what she’d seen while Angel sullenly wondered why the hell the Powers were still sending the visions. He’s not their Champion any more, he’s had enough of being jerked around, so why should Cordelia still be a Seer.

He watched the two men load up with armament and head out, leaving Cordelia behind with a glass of water and a large bottle of Tylenol. There were shadows under her eyes and an ashy quality to her skin that he didn’t like. She put her face in her hands, hiding behind her dark hair.

He stood vigil while the wind surged around him, ruffling his hair like a fond hand. He misses being touched. It felt like a dream now: Having friends, being with people who knew what he was but trusted and cared about him anyway. Sunnydale had been a different kind of dream, a romantic fantasy where Buffy was the center of his universe and no-one and nothing else really mattered.

He should have known it couldn’t last. He’d been dancing on a glass tightrope, his pretense of humanity always close to shattering under the pressure of the demon’s desires even before Darla’s midnight visits nearly sent him over the edge into the dark. Her insinuations and caresses had corrupted his loneliness into seething resentment and want. Till he’d been a hairsbreadth from lifting Cordelia’s hair from her neck and sinking his fangs into her warmly inviting skin.

He’d had to get away from them and they needed to stay away from him.

He stood vigil until the others came back. They were slightly singed but alive, this time. Obviously amped up from the fight, laughing and joking with each other they woke Cordelia, and then they all crowded into Gunn’s truck and rode off into the predawn.

Angel sped back to the hotel, part of him hoping that some cop would make the mistake of trying to pull him over. He really, really, needed to hurt something. Tomorrow night he’s going out hunting.

The smell of gasoline still clung to the car’s interior; it clung to him as he trudged into the hotel and up to his bed. He lay staring up at the ceiling remembering the way Drusilla had burned. She’d gone up like a torch, been a woman made of white flame for an endless moment before the fire consumed her completely and her ash rained onto the floor. He’d been surprised how much it hurt to see her die a final time at his hands. It didn’t matter how he felt though, feelings had been what got him off the track in the first place. He has a war to fight. Darla got away, but he’ll find her and finish their business in time. He still doesn’t know how, but he’ll make Wolfram and Hart pay for what they’d done to her. It was all just a matter of time and that was the one thing he had plenty of.


Gunn was playing with his Game Boy – headphones on, thank you so she didn’t have to kill him. Wesley was happy as a clam reading another of his dusty leather bound phonebooks. Cordelia wished she could believe he’d slipped a Playboy between the pages but no-way would Watcher Boy do anything that interesting. And the fact that she was speculating about Wes reading porn just showed how bored she was. She’d been sitting here since 10 this morning. She’d filed the bills they couldn’t pay, read all of Vogue, done all the Cosmo quizzes and answered two wrong numbers. If something didn’t happen soon she was going
to scream. ‘Something’ she added hastily for the benefit of any Powers that might be listening, meaning a non-vision something that involved getting paid.

The door slammed open and a small angry blonde stormed in. Déjà vu much?

“Where is he?!” Kate demanded.

The staff of (TBA) Investigations stared in silence. Then Wesley remembered he was supposed to be the boss, and spoke up. “Officer Lockley,” Wesley snapped “I demand you explain…”

Cordelia cut him off. “You need to update your rolodex Kate,” she told her calmly. “We don’t work together anymore. Try the hotel.”

Kate’s expression was priceless. “What?”

“What you want him for anyway? You gonna arrest him?” Gunn’s tone was mildly hopeful.

“Why?” Kate asked suspiciously. “So you can call and warn him?”

Gunn snorted. “Naw. Just wondered what he did to you is all.”

Cordelia frowned at him, but let it go.

Kate deflated. “I don’t know why I came here anyway, it was a stupid idea. I just – never mind.” She turned to go.

Cordelia just knew she was going to hate herself for this but ... “Kate – um, can we help?”

Kate sighed. “No, I don’t think so. Someone dropped a dime on me to Internal Affairs and told them that the perp I picked up for trespass at Wolfram and Hart and then let go was seen at the Manners’ house the night of the massacre. Oh, and that said perp was also linked to several other cases that I’d been involved in. I’ve been suspended with pay untiL my hearing next week, which is just a formality. The union’s lawyer is recommending that I take the offer of a stress disability discharge.”

“They’re firing you?” Cordelia was shocked.

“Yeah.” Kate rubbed her forehead wearily. “And the worst part is – they’re not wrong. Even if I could get them to believe in demons and vampires and everything else, it wouldn’t help. I screwed up.”

“How? Not like you knew that Angel was going to feed those lawyers to his ex-girlfriends …” Cordelia trailed off as she realized from the shock on Kate’s face that she’d said a little too much.

“I knew it. Dammit, I just didn’t want to believe it.” Kate wobbled. Cordelia was surprised when Gunn jumped up to steady her and guide her to a seat. Then again, he’d been getting plenty of practice intercepting falling women lately.

“Hey, it’s not your fault,” he said. “Like Cordy said, ain’t like you knew the vamp was gonna go bad. I thought he was one of the good guys myself.”

“None of us realized he was becoming unstable,” Wesley chimed in.

“Hey, let’s not get carried away!” Cordelia found herself defending him. “It’s not like he’s gone all Angelus. He’s just kinda confused right now by all the peroxide – no offense.” Kate shot her a look. Touchy.

“Yeah, right. You keep telling yourself that,” Gunn drawled.

“Shut up Chuck. I’ve known Angel a lot longer than you have. He’s just going through a rough patch right now. He’ll pull it together before anything really awful happens. He will.”

“I certainly hope so,” Wesley said. “Before it’s too late.”


The smell of smoke laced the already polluted L.A. air. A huge wild fire was burning above the Foothill freeway, riding on the back of the Santana. Tempers flared and the sound of sirens filled the night.

Angel sat at the back at Caritas and nursed his glass of pig’s blood as humans and demons took the stage and sang their hearts out. The Host refused to tell him anything he read from any of his customers, but over the past few weeks Angel has gotten pretty good at reading that scaly green face, so when the Hashelelten demon lumbered off stage after a heartfelt rendition of ‘Oops I did it Again’ Angel went out to his car and waited. When the demon came out of the club and climbed into a battered white van and drove off, Angel followed.

The Hashelelten led him to a warehouse in San Pedro. Angel heard chanting as he
approached the decrepit building. Closer up he smelt incense and fresh blood. He crept up to the door and peeked through the crack. 12 brawny demons were arranged in a circle around a taller demon who was busy carefully slicing patterns into the flesh of the gagged and bound human sacrifice lying on the makeshift altar.

Angel rolled his shoulders, unsheathed his sword and kicked open the door.


On the TV hanging on the wall orange flames silently consumed a hillside. A list of homes lost, people hurt and killed, and other disasters scrolled across the bottom of the screen.

Wesley looked away.

He’d never seen Gunn this still before, unconscious his face looked as young as Wesley always forgot he was.

“How is he?” Wesley asked Cordelia softly.

Reluctantly she let go of Gunn’s big brown hand and stood. Wesley followed her out of the room.

In the hallway Cordelia leaned up against the wall with a sigh and closed her eyes. Even he’d noticed the dark shadows under her eyes, the tiny lines of strain marring her forehead. The last few weeks had been hard on all of them. Too many demons that he and Gunn simply weren’t equipped to face. It had been only good luck that neither of them had been badly hurt before now. “They want to do a CT scan,” she said. “They’re worried there might be bleeding inside his skull. He took a really hard hit.”

Wesley winced at the memory of the scaly demon whipping around with impossible speed, catching Gunn off guard and flinging him across the tunnel. The crunching sound of his friend’s head connecting with the cement was something he’d never be able to forget. Even if he recovered from this, things like this, or worse would happen again and again, unless he did something about it.

“I’m sorry, there’s something I have to take care of. Can you stay with him?” He expected questions but Cordelia’s curiosity had for once been stifled by sheer exhaustion.

“Uh, sure.”

“I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Cordelia nodded tiredly and watched him go.

During the drive from the hospital to the hotel Wesley struggled to organize his thoughts and diagram exactly what he would say. His last attempt to speak to Angel had gone badly and none of them can afford for him to fail again. Perhaps if he brought up the possibility of his Shanshu and Buffy, reminded him of what he was giving up by abandoning his mission in search of revenge, perhaps he’d listen.

The Hyperion was dark but the front entrance was open, as always. The big sycamores lining the street had dropped their leaves and when he opened the doors the prickling breeze blew a few in with him to skitter across the floor. Bloody wind. It’s November, the wind should be cool and invigorating, not warm and irritating. He hated Los Angeles, being trapped in this sprawling cancer of a city felt like an indeterminate sentence. The only thing keeping him here are his friends, and if he can’t persuade Angel of the error of his ways he’ll have to find some other way out for all of them. Perhaps he’ll seek an audience with the Powers so that he can explain to them how unfair it was to burden a young girl like Cordelia with the visions, especially now that the Champion they were meant for has abandoned his duties.

Cordelia had never done anything to deserve this. None of them had. Except for Angel of course.

A fine layer of dust lay over everything and when he tried the light switch nothing happened. Bloody Angel, the least he could do was remember to pay the utilities. Wesley hesitated. Upstairs or down? The deep shadows that led to the basement did not appeal. Upstairs it was then.

Moonlight spilled through the windows of Angel’s room. Here at least, Angel still kept up his usual meticulous habits. The bed was made, everything in place, but no sign of the vampire. Wesley sighed and turned to go.

“Leaving so soon?” The overly sweet voice shocked Wesley like a face full of ice water. He whirled round to stare at the slim figure standing before the French windows pale hair shining in the cold light. Her pink lips curved in a mocking smile but he can’t quite see her eyes.


“I bet you’re here looking for my boy, but it looks like he’s gone out. So it’s just the two of us. That’s nice, we’ve never really had the chance to talk have we?” She glided forward and Wesley turned and ran for the door. His whole body cringed when she laughed, but he kept going.

He came out of the room so fast he rebounded off the wall and nearly fell. Catching himself he ran down the hallway yanked open the door to the fire stairs and threw himself into the dark stairwell.

He rushed headlong down the stairs grateful for the faint illumination from the skylight, terrified of losing his footing, even more terrified of going any slower. He’d reached the second landing when he heard the door slam open above.

“Olly olly oxen free!" she called. The thought flashed through his head that he’d always understood that Drusilla was meant to be the mad one. If he only had something, any kind of weapon. He thought longingly of the weapons case in the lobby, if he could only get to it.

He crashed through the door at the bottom of the stairs and saw the lobby doors glowing with light from the street. He forgot about the weapons case and ran for the doors. His lungs were on fire, but he could hear the traffic going by on the road, only a few more feet and he’d be outside…

Darla landed on his back and knocked him off his feet, sending him sprawling face-first onto the polished marble. Later he realized that she must have been crouched on the mezzanine above, waiting for him. She bounced to her feet, flipped him over and straddled him. His head was ringing, all he could do was gape as she took hold of his pullover and pulled him up to face her grinning demon.

“I want you to give Angel a message from me,” she purred.


Lilah loved her office. It was everything she’d worked for, years of hard work, carefully judged sycophancy and back-stabbing. The view alone had been worth her soul. As the building slowly emptied out she stood staring down at the city as the sun drowned itself in the Pacific. When she pressed her hand against the glass she could feel the slight vibration as the wind raked the skyscraper, looking for a way in.

She waited until the floor was deserted before leaving her office and walking briskly to the elevator. She had to take a deep breath before stepping into the car. Ever since Holland’s party she had a little bit of a problem with small enclosed spaces and doors she couldn’t control. Mostly she took the stairs, but there were no stairs down to Files and Records.

She pushed the button for SB and entered the password on the keypad above. The doors slid shut and she exhaled, reminding herself that this was important: she had to know what was going on with Angel. Holland had been coy before whenever she asked about it and while he was still with the firm he was even less likely than before to answer her questions. Nathan Reed wasn’t a guy she wanted to owe anything to, ever. Her supposed co-director Lindsey didn’t give a shit about the big picture, he just wanted Angel dusted, ASAP. Idiot. Not that
she would mind sending the self-righteous prick to hell, but she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her career for it. You had to keep these things in perspective.

After what seemed like a long time the elevator glided to a halt and the doors opened. Lilah shuddered; she’d never had to come down to the sub-basement before. It was horrifying: all utilitarian off-white walls and cheap fluorescents.

The mousy woman behind the plain grey desk would never measure up to above-stairs standards either. “Hello, I’m Files and Records,” she said pleasantly. “Authorization please.”

“Lilah Morgan, access number 666432.”

She nodded. “Access approved. What can I do for you, Miss Morgan?"

"I want everything the firm has on Angel, the whole case file. Also whatever you have on Darla and Drusilla up to date."

"Sure thing, Miss Morgan. Just a sec." She turned around, pulled a thick ring binder from the shelf behind her and dropped it on the desk.

Lilah eyed it doubtfully. "Everything is in there?"


"Great,” Lilah sighed and lifted the file. “I'll be back when I'm..."

"Ah, Miss Morgan, there aren't any documents in there, you know. That's just the reference key to the full file."

Lilah sighed, she should have known. "Just the reference key. So---where is the full file?"

The woman flipped a switch illuminating a section of at least fifty file cabinets that Lilah was almost certain hadn’t been there a moment ago.

"All of that is Angel's file," Lilah said flatly.

"Just the first thirty five cabinets."

"Right.” Lilah dropped the book back on the desk. “Does China Palace deliver down here?"


Decisions, decisions: where to go, what to do. The night was full of potential, but after a quick snack he decided to go to visit his friends. The wind was fitful, dust devils swirling along the empty pavement as he walked up the path to Cordelia’s apartment. She opened the door on his second ring.

“Wesley!” She looked angry and relieved. “Where have you been? I was so worried. You jerk! They released Gunn from the hospital today and I had to drive that crappy truck of his over here and I really could have used your help.”

“I’m sorry, couldn’t be helped.”

She glared at him for a moment longer then let it go. “Well, come in, you’re letting the dust in.” She turned her back on him, sure as always that he’d follow. He stepped inside, shutting the door behind him and making sure the chain was on.

“How is Gunn?”

“He’s out I think. Painkillers.” She sighed. “I’m nearly out myself.”

“You look tired.”

She didn’t argue with him. “I was just about to make some dinner. Want some?”

“Thank you. Ah, would it be alright if I look in on Gunn? I won’t wake him if he’s asleep.”

Cordelia hesitated a moment before nodding. “Just don’t wake him up, O.K.”

“Of course not.”

Wesley slipped into the room and closed the door behind him. He didn’t bother with the light, there was more than enough coming in through the window for him to make out every detail of Gunn lying sound asleep in Cordelia’s bed. He moved closer to the bed. As before in the hospital it struck him how young Gunn looked at rest, and also, how very handsome he was. He traced the solid curve of Gunn’s cheek with a careful finger.

Gunn stirred and a moment later opened his eyes, he saw the moment of confusion before he identified the person leaning over him. “Hey, Wes,” he croaked.

“Hello Gunn. Feeling better I hope?”

“Yeah. Still feel like hell, but better.” He struggled to sit up, Wesley lent a hand. “Thanks.” Gunn frowned at him. “Hey where’ve you been man? Cordy was worrying about you.”

“Sorry. I was unavoidably delayed, but I’m here now.”

Gunn leaned back against the pillows and sighed. “Man, I really got creamed.”

“Yes, yes you did. You’re still bleeding in fact.”

“Shit. Where?”

“Lean forward a bit.” Gunn trembled as Wesley carefully peeled away the bandage at the back of his head. He brushed a fingertip through the slow ooze of fresh blood leaking from the stitches and showed the glistening red to Gunn.


“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” Wesley popped his finger into his mouth and sucked it clean as Gunn stared. “Delicious.”

“What the fuck Wes!” Gunn’s instincts were already moving him away even before Wesley decided to show rather than tell. He saw fear, which was good, and sorrow, which was slightly annoying, warring in Gunn’s eyes as he stared at Wesley’s new face. “How’d it happen?”

Wesley smiled. “I went to the hotel to find Angel – he wasn’t there, but Darla was.”

“I’m sorry man.”

Wesley didn’t get angry. Not long ago he’d have felt the same way, though he couldn’t quite remember why. “I’m not. I’m stronger, faster, and a damned sight happier than I ever was alive.”

Gunn’s expression was grim. “Alonna already read me the recruitment speech. Get the fuck away from me Wes.”

“Or what?” He was across the bed and had Gunn pinned in the corner before he could answer. Once upon a time he’d have had no hope of holding Gunn, but it was wonderfully easy now to keep him still as he forced his chin up and sank his fangs into his throat. He groaned as the robust flavor of Gunn’s blood burst on his tongue. He felt his cock stir, and pressed himself closer the better to enjoy the effect of Gunn’s struggles.

Without warning the bedroom door slammed open. Cordelia stood there gaping. Wesley slid his teeth free of Gunn’s throat and let the semi-conscious man slump to the floor.

“Wes what’s – oh my God.” She turned to run but Wesley was already there, he grabbed hold of her arm and she screamed as his nails sliced into her flesh. He pulled her into the room. Then Wesley staggered and lost his grip as something hit the back of his head and exploded into shards. He’d forgotten about that bloody annoying ghost! He batted away the vase being apported at his head and went after Cordelia.

He caught up with her in the living room, she faced him holding a brightly colored water-squirter. “Get out. Now!” She was quite convincing. If you didn’t know her.

Wesley laughed. “I’m not Angel, you can’t fool me with that trick …” Some instinct made him turn his head so that the stream only hit the side of his face and missed his eyes. He howled as the holy water ate into his skin and dove through the window, landing in a shower of glass on the tiny strip of lawn in front of the building.

Cordelia stood in the shattered window holding the squirter ready as Wesley crouched and snarled up at her. The demon urged him to go back, break the toy over her head and rip out her throat but Wesley knew he’d missed his chance. He’d always been taught that vampires were slaves to their desires but he found it surprisingly easy to shake off the demon. He stood up, careful not to make any sudden moves and never breaking eye contact with her. He brushed himself off, saluted her and ran into the darkness.


Kate drove slowly down her street, oblivious to the showers of twigs and leaves that fell from the creaking, swaying trees. She shivered as she got out of her car, the last of the Santana had faded away sometime during the longest day of her life; this wind was cold and promised rain. Winter was coming, her favorite time of year. Heavy rain tended to keep the perps indoors and even though she knew it was fake as the snow at ElRon’s temple she’d always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas and though Daddy would never admit it she knew he was a sucker for ‘all that sentimental home for the holidays bullshit’ too. It was the only time she’d ever really felt close to her father. This would be her first Christmas without him, she didn’t think she could do it.

She walked right over the mail lying inside the door and headed straight for the bar. She poured herself a big glass of Black Label – hey might as well have the finest – and downed it. It didn’t help much, so she poured herself another and took it over to the mantel.

She stared at the pictures, her mother on her wedding day standing next to a smiling Trevor Lockley she’d never known. Daddy, in his dress uniform. Her and Daddy at her graduation from the academy. So that was it then: The end of the Lockley dynasty. Should have known she’d screw it all up. Daddy had been right about her. She’d always been a disappointment to him. Good thing he was gone. She swept the trophies, the certificates, the photographs of her dead off the mantel and left the mess lying as she went back for another drink. All she knew, all she’d ever wanted to be was a cop. What the hell was she going to do now?

She didn’t have any friends, she hadn’t been on a date in more than a year. Maybe she should go find Angel and ask him to do her one last favor. She’d done her best but she still couldn’t forget the rush she’d felt when he’d drunk her blood and the painless falling away into darkness. Not a bad way to go and hey, he owed her one.

The hell with that, she didn’t need anyone’s help. She wandered into the bathroom avoiding her reflection as she opened the medicine cabinet. She had one, two, three bottle of Vicodin, two of Darvon, two of Valium and one Prozac prescribed after Daddy’s death. “Warning! Do not take with alcohol. Avoid driving and operating heavy machinery.” She giggled. Some of them were expired, but she’s pretty sure it won’t matter. She carried them all out to the living room.

Kate lifted her head from the bar. Whoops, looks like she dozed off for a little while. It’s really late, or really early. The phone was ringing. She let it. The glass sitting next to the little piles of pills she’d sorted out on the bar was empty. That was bad. No more whiskey, but maybe vodka would do the trick. She wished the damn phone would stop ringing, the machine should have picked up by now; she must have forgotten to turn it on. Shit. She stood up and carefully made her way over to the phone.

“Yeah, what?”

“Kate! God, I’m glad you’re home!”

“Cordelia?” Why the hell would Girl Friday be calling her?

“Listen, I know we’re not bestest friends or ‘friends’ period we really need your help.”

“We? Does that ‘we’ include Angel?”

“No. Just me and Gunn. He just got out of the hospital.”

Kate frowned at the news. Gunn seemed like a pretty nice guy, despite the company he kept. “What happened?”

“A demon,” Cordelia said bluntly. Kate fought the urge to giggle. Hey, she said demon. Good thing she didn’t work for the LAPD, she’d get fired.

“Sorry. But why are you calling me?”

“I need to go out and I can’t leave him alone.”

“So what about your English friend? Wyndam-Pryce?”

The pause was a little too long. Kate had a sick feeling in her gut even before Cordelia spoke.

“Wesley’s kinda the problem.”

“Oh. Shit. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah. It was Darla.”

“Angel’s ex.”

“Yeah. So, are you coming?”

“Why? What do you want me for? I’m not even a cop anymore; they accepted my
resignation today.”

“Sorry to hear that, but I don’t need a cop. I need someone I can trust to stay with Gunn.”

“You trust me?” That came out a little needier than she’d planned.

“Yeah. I do. Please Kate.”

She didn’t have to go. They weren’t her friends. They knew what they were getting into when they started hanging out with the undead. She’s sick of everyone wanting things from her, she just wants to lie down and take a long nap.

“Give me 20 minutes,” she found herself saying.


“I’m not going to scream,” Darla purred as Angel dragged his fangs along her throat with agonizing slowness. Darla smiled, arching into the pain but instead of taking her and silencing the hateful drumming in her chest he lets her go, lets her fall to the ground and she landed hard lying on her back in an alley as the rain poured down. There’s a burning coal in her chest and a relentless pounding in her swollen belly, and she’s telling him that this was the only good thing they ever did. There’s a stake gripped in her spastic fist and she drives it home and shatters again into dust. The infant wails as its mother’s ashes are washed away down the gutter, its rapid heartbeat drumming on and on and on…

Darla woke with that maddening cadence still pounding in her ears. She calmed down a little when she realized the noise wasn’t coming from her chest but from her breakfast, lying bound and gagged in the corner. She shuddered with disgust at the concept of her dead flesh being sacrificed to make new life and she moved quickly to wash away the lingering aftertaste of the dream with sweet hot blood.

Afterwards, silence restored and the leftovers stowed neatly under the bed, she wondered how Angel had liked her little surprise.


Gunn woke up and wished he hadn’t. He hurt everywhere, especially his head and his neck. The hospital had given him some good drugs but he’d purely had the shit beat out of him by that scaly mutha and then Wesley…

Naw, he’s not up to dealing with that right now. Right now he’s got more urgent problems, like he really needed to pee. The T.V. was on in the next room so Cordy must be up even though it wasn’t much past dawn and he knew damn well she hadn’t gone to bed before three a.m. what with having to patch him up and getting the manager to board up the window and cleaning up the worst of the damage with Dennis’ help.

He could call for help, but goddamn, it was bad enough she’d had to sit there practically holding his hand last night before he could go to sleep; damned if he was going to have her hold his dick while he pees. He’s a full grown man, he can damn well do this on his own.

“Christ, are you O.K.?” Shit, that’s not Cordy he thought as he braced himself against the wall and got his left leg under him. He hadn’t exactly fallen, just kinda lost his balance and when he’d grabbed for the towel rail it pulled out of the wall, loudly.

“Uh, Lockley?” Last person he’d expected to see. From the shadows under her eyes and the faint smell of alcohol looked like she’d had bad news of her own lately.

“Kate,” she said curtly. “You need some help?”

“Naw, I’m cool.” He stood up straight to prove it and took a step. Things go a little confused then and next thing he knew he was being propped up by the tiny blonde cop. Dropping the machismo like a bad habit he let himself be walked back into the bedroom and back into bed.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, leaning back against the pillows.

“Sure. You want some breakfast? I think Cordelia’s got toast, and maybe cereal. And coffee. All of which I know how to fix.”

“Cool. Uh, where’d she go?”

“She wouldn’t tell me.” They looked at each other, each knowing damn well where she’d gone.

“She’s wasting her time,” Gunn said. “He don’t care any more. If he ever did.”


He hated sleep, because when he sleeps his dreams were filled with Darla. Darla, his bitch-queen, her cold perfect body, her kisses, the sweet lies she’d whispered into his ear while he slept. Darla, miraculously human, begging for damnation at his hands. Darla, the warm vulnerable weight of her against his chest as she finally accepted her fate. Darla screaming as she was torn out of his arms, betrayed and murdered, dragged back into the darkness and damned.

There was someone in the hotel. Angel rolled off the bed in one fluid move and stalked through the hotel in search of the intruder.

It’s Cordelia, standing in the shadowy lobby with a nervous but determined look on her face.
There’s a storm due, but behind the clouds he knew it was barely dawn; whatever brought her here must be serious. Not that he cared. He was tempted simply to slip away and avoid the confrontation. But he knew that if he did she’d simply come back again. Persistence was Cordelia’s middle name. Better to deal with it now.

“I told you not to come back.”

Cordelia jumped, and then visibly took hold of herself as she turned to face him. “Angel, oh thank God! I…”

“What didn’t you understand about ‘you’re fired’,” he snapped. He licked his lips, tasting blood in the air. He stepped closer, drawn by the enticing scent.

Her face set in that stubborn scowl he’d gotten so used to … so sick of seeing. “Do you think I want to be here? But there isn’t anyone else.”

“You’ve been hurt,” he murmured, reaching out. She stepped back and there was a flicker of fear in her eyes and it bothered him almost as much as the fact that she’d been injured. “I smell blood,” he told her bluntly. “Yours and Gunn’s. Did you get hurt while you were out playing hero with your friends? I told you this isn’t a game.”

“Says the guy who picked up his toys and went home,” she sneered. She shook her head. “You know what? Never mind. We’ll deal with it, just like we’ve dealt with everything else.”

“Yeah, you’ve been doing a bang-up job so far.”

“Screw you Angel,” she tried to push past him. She stared at him in surprise when he didn’t move. “What the hell? Get out of the way Angel!”

“No.” He realized that it had been a long time since Cordelia had really been scared of him. Not since she mistook him for Angelus. She was a little bit scared now and that was good, because talking hasn’t worked and he had to convince them, get them to see the truth. “I’m not your friend, not some dog you can whistle up when things get too scary. I’m a vampire.”

“Yeah. Duh.”

“Duh? If you really understood you’d never come here like this, smelling so delicious.” He crowded her until her back was against the check-in desk. “Coming into work every month bleeding, never thinking to offer, never thinking about my needs.”

Cordelia gaped, obviously not wanting to believe that she’d heard that.

He was almost as surprised as she was when he grabbed hold of her arm and shoved up her sleeve to reveal four neat crescent punctures in the flesh of her forearm, filled with dark blood. A vampire had got hold of her, nearly killed her.

“Son of a bitch!” she wrenched desperately at his grip, trying to free herself. There was plenty of fear now, but she was still defiant and what the hell does he have to do to make her see how dangerous this was?

The smell of blood was maddening. Giving in he pressed closer and burrowed in sniffing and licking her neck and collarbone, feeling her pulse hammering just under his tongue, let himself imagine taking what he wanted for once. “You came to me. Don’t blame me because you’re not getting what you came for.”

“Angel, stop it!” She was terrified now. Good. It made her taste that much better. He sighed.

“Why?” He was sick of talking.

Her blood filled his mouth, sweet and vital and he struggled to remember that he was only doing this to teach her a lesson. Not going to take much, but enough so she can’t blow it off as a lapse, a bad mood, just enough so she’ll finally leave, go back to the daylight. It’s all he as left to show her, make her see dammit. Her nails clawed at his face and it’s just too damned bad that just made it better for him, spices things up. He hoped she can feel how hard he was, he wanted her disgust, her fear. That’s the whole point of this. Have to stop soon, before he took too much but he had to make sure she learns her lesson and if he has to lose everything isn’t he owed a little pleasure however tainted?

Pain bloomed in his chest and ripped through his body. He recoiled instinctively, shoving Cordelia away and for one moment their eyes met. Then she slid out of his grip and to the ground as he stared in disbelief at the stake protruding from his chest. He felt smooth hard wood pressed next to his dead heart, a few millimeters to the left and he’d have been dust. He didn’t kid himself that she’d meant to miss.

She’d promised him and Cordelia kept her promises.

He braced himself against the wall and very, very, carefully pulled it out. He stared at the wood, black with his blood then tossed it away. She lay crumpled on the floor not moving.


It began to rain, he could hear each fat raindrop hitting the dry pavement outside.

“Cordy?” He took a step closer. She still wasn’t moving. As he knelt beside her the cold black inevitability of his damnation rose up inside him. He almost expected frost to blossom where his despairing hand cupped her cheek.

Then she coughed and color flooded back into the world. He shook as he pulled her into his arms and just held her.


“Hello Lilah”

“Wesley?” Lilah stared at Angel’s flunky and wondered when he’d started looking – dangerous. “How did you get in here?”

He smiled. “I ran into an undead employee of the firm the other night. He was kind enough to explain the system of tagging you use to keep unauthorized vampires out of the building and to loan me his.”

Shit. “What do you want?” She asked carefully.

“From you? Nothing too complicated.” He backed her against the file cabinet. Lilah looked over his shoulder at the clerk who didn’t seem to be calling Security or even paying the situation much attention. “I was hoping you knew where Darla could be found.”

“Sorry. No.” She was glad she could answer with complete sincerity. If Wolfram and Hart had known where Darla was, she’d be dust. Having to replace that many lawyers was not something the firm took lightly.

Wesley looked disappointed but resigned. “Oh well. Then perhaps you can help me with Angel.”

“Sure, glad to. How?”

“I want certain information, about Angel. I want to know what it is Wolfram and Hart find so fascinating about him.”

Lilah laughed and gestured at the files laid out on the floor. “I’ve been down here all night trying to find out something about him.”

“Idiot.” He grabbed her arm and dragged her over to the desk where that stupid bitch was still sitting quite calmly as if there wasn’t a vampire threatening Lilah’s life. “Listen and learn.”

The woman looked up and smiled, her eyes sliding over the vampire as if he weren’t there. “Yes Miss Morgan, may I help you?”

“Call—“ Wesley’s hand clamped painfully over her mouth. He wagged a finger at her.

“Naughty. Ask her about Angel: why is he so important to the Senior Partners.”

Lilah glared at him and nodded. He removed his hand.

“Why is Angel so important to the Senior Partners,” she asked sullenly. She was startled when a green light flickered on in the woman’s eyes.

“Processing,” she said. Lilah heard a faint clicking sound. “Background, goals and stratagems relating to the vampire Angel, aka Angelus…”

Wesley laughed when Files and Records finished her report. His fingers were digging deeply into her shoulders but Lilah was too distracted by what she’d just learned to care much. She was slightly disappointed. She’d expected something considerably more – well, Machiavellian from the Senior Partners. Still, she should be able to do something with this information. And it was nice to know Lindsay would not be getting his wish.

She was shaken out of her reverie when Wesley spun her around and clamped his hand around her chin so she had to stand on tip-toe to avoid choking. His face had shifted, the former Watcher made a frightening demon. “I’d like to draw this out, really I would, but I have other obligations.” She opened her mouth to argue her case, but his teeth were in her throat and it was all too late.

Updating file.” Files and Records murmured. “Lilah Morgan, employee, born 7 July 1967, deceased 10 November 2001.


She sat and sipped her tea in Angel’s big leather chair with the comforter he’d brought downstairs around her shoulders and the bloodied stake lying on the desk in front of her. The tea was hot sweet and fragrant, definitely not Lipton’s. It must be some of Wesley’s stash that he left behind.

Wesley. Oh goddamn.

She caught Angel giving her another sidelong guilty look. She knew that look and she took back everything she’d ever said about his brooding, because that look is what reassures her that her Angel was back. Not that she was anywhere near ready to forgive the jerk.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I fucked up. I forgot what I was trying to do. I couldn’t save Drusilla, or Penn, or Spike, or any of the others but I thought if I could save Darla, I'd somehow be saving myself. But I was wrong. And when I failed...”

“You lost your mind and turned into the world’s biggest asshole.” Angel started to glare at her, but she gave it right back to him and he folded.

“Yeah. I thought I was doing the right thing. Like the gypsies and their curse. All I could think about was revenge.”

“Because that always helps,” she snipped and took another sip of tea. She’s doing her best to be a bitch, but her heart really wasn’t in it. She should be a lot angrier at him, considering. She still couldn’t believe he’d bitten her. That hurt, well at first anyway – then it really didn’t. She’d been at least as surprised as he was when she’d staked him. It was nice to know that even when her brain shorted out she still retained some instinct of self-preservation.

God, she hoped she didn’t end up with a scar.

“I’m sorry,” he said. She was a long way from being tired of hearing him say it. “What I did to you – and Gunn.” He stopped, and she knew he was thinking about Wesley, about the only thing he would ever be able to do for him. “I know I can probably never make it up to you. But if you’ll just let me try, I promise I’ll never let you down again.” She knew he meant it. Angel always meant it.

“I think you’d better let me talk to Gunn first…” she began.

Suddenly Angel head went up, he froze. “Stay here,” he hissed. Cordelia’s eyes widened, but she stayed where she was as Angel left the office in a blur.

She barely had time to worry when he came back, moving at normal speed this time. He was carrying a big manila envelope, on top of which was a sheet of paper folded in half and addressed to Angel.

“What?” Cordelia asked nervously.

“It’s from Wesley.”

“Letter bomb?”

“Let’s see.” He unfolded the note and read it aloud.

Dear Angel,

No need to concern yourself with me. I plan to quit the city tonight and you may
trust to my own sense of self preservation if not my word that I will not be

Enclosed is information that you may find interesting regarding Wolfram and
Hart’s interest in you. My translation of the Narthian Codex mentioned that
the side the vampire with a soul chose at the next scheduled apocalypse was
critical. However this is not why the law firm is so interested in you. They
don’t want you to fight on evil’s side come the final days. Your critical role
lies in siring a child, known as ‘The Destroyer’ who will bring on the End.

The irony is priceless: you, the warrior for the light, the Champion will be the
one to destroy everything.

I imagine you are skeptical, that you don’t want to believe me. An
understandable reaction. The large envelope includes some documentary
evidence that may help you on your way. With this, I believe my work is

Farewell Angel. We will not meet again.

Give my love to Gunn and Cordelia.

Yours truly,

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce

“A child? I can’t have a child.” Cordelia didn’t miss the note of irrational craving in his voice. She couldn’t imagine Angel as a dad. Aside from the whole undead thing, he’d be so over-protective he’d drive the poor kid insane. “Vampires can’t have children.”

“Yeah, not even the ones who actually have sex – “ She noticed Angel’s expression. “Sorry. So what’s in the envelope?”

Neatly typed translations of ancient prophecies. Photocopies of ancient scrolls. A detailed psychological profile of ‘Angelus aka Angel aka Liam ---‘ He snatched that one away from Cordelia when she tried to read it. Hmmmph! Every document was stamped with the Wolfram and Hart logo and a document number.

“This is – weird.”

“Yeah, so what else is new?”


Files and Records sat behind her desk. The cleaners had removed Miss Morgan, the papers the intruder didn’t steal have been re-filed. The lights had automatically been turned low to conserve energy. She didn’t need them.

In the dimness she basked in the shifting destinies, compiling and recompiling the changing factors, recording each possible future as the chain reaction spreads in ripples, rebounding, mutating, and spiraling into glorious chaos. She loved the mess when a major prophecy was derailed. The stone in the road that cripples the horse that delays the king that loses the battle that ends the war that brings 1,000 years of iron tyranny. Nearly 200 years of careful planning by the firm brought to naught by a gust of wind.

Though the prophecy may yet come to be. The child can still happen, as long as both parents exist and the debt remains unpaid, but he cannot now be born on the Powers’ schedule. Everywhere vellum is metastasizing inside ancient bindings, ink is being pulled to the surface like legible bruises, words changing their meanings, newly yellowed paper swells inside the file cabinets, bytes swarm and propagate new patterns as the system seeks a new equilibrium.

Until the child is born, or lost forever.

She settles back to watch, and record.




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