Angel could feel the sun coming for him. If he closed his eyes he
could see it: welling up over the horizon to spill across the sea, turning
the trampled beaches white before racing across the miles and miles
of flat suburban sprawl, to downtown where it ignites the walls of the
old art deco buildings, sets the mirrored walls of the new corporate
towers ablaze and reaches down into the narrow streets to blot him out
in its destructive glare. Angel opened his eyes and glanced over at
the nervous human next to him. Wesley was well aware of the time, and
he was driving as fast as was prudent through the pre-dawn streets,
caught between the need to hurry and the knowledge of how really inconvenient
it would be to be stopped by the police just now.
Angel was covered in blood, human blood. Warm, it had been silky and
seductive on his skin, but now it was clotted, sticky, caked in his
hair, and starting to crackle where the coating was thinnest. His clothes
were probably a total loss, it was nearly impossible to get blood out
of leather once it dried. Poor Carstairs. When they'd interrupted the
ritual the demon had assumed that it had been betrayed by its partner.
It had spoken a Word and the warlock had exploded like a water balloon
hit by a 45 slug. Angel had been caught in the backsplash, and drenched.
In contrast, when Angel cut off its head the demon had considerately
dissolved into a neat pile of bluish sand.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The smell of so much blood had
brought the demon close to the surface; Angelus loved it, wanted more,
teased him with pleasurable memories that had his cock stirring under
his stickily damp trousers.
God, he was tired. He leaned against the glass, watching the desolate
streets sliding past, the solid dark colors of night fading to grayish
pastels. The few people he saw were either just up or fleeing the dawn
themselves. It had been a long night. The latest in a long line of long
nights. Evil had been unusually busy these past few weeks, and neither
Wesley nor the Oracles had been able to tell him why. It might be the
start of the War, or not. He sighed again and licked his lips, nice,
sweet, he thought; he stopped when he saw Wesley watching him and wincing.
After Wesley dropped him off at the office and fled, Angel went downstairs
and locked up the grimoire they'd successfully rescued in the recently
installed safe. He dumped his clothes in the tub, got into the shower
and turned it on hot. He stood under the scalding water, letting it
warm him up before getting down to the hard work of cleaning off the
blood. It was difficult to remove from his skin, his hair; and as it
liquefied, the blood smell rose around him in a cloud. The hunger that
had begun nibbling at him in the car truly began to bite, but he stubbornly
kept soaping, scrubbing, and rinsing until the last hint of pink had
spiraled down the drain.
With a towel around his waist, still dripping, he went into the kitchen.
When he removed the lid of the quart container of pig's blood the odor
was stale. He poured it into a soup mug and heated it up in the microwave
anyway. He went into his bedroom to drink it, sitting in the dark, using
the rank taste to obliterate the sweet taste of Carstairs still lingering
in his mouth.
When the cup was empty the thirst was diminished if not entirely banished.
The demon had retreated sullenly to the back of his brain. Angel sat
quietly in his chair in the dark. He could tell that the sun was up.
Cordelia would be in around 10 if she didn't have an audition. He'd
ask her about his clothes, she'd know if anyone would. Exhaustion dragged
at him. He knew he should sleep. But the phone sat there, tempting him.
He'd been good, he thought. He hadn't called Sunnydale in more than
two weeks. He checked the time; it was nearly 8 o'clock. Mrs. Summers
-- Joyce -- would be up, and Buffy, unless she'd changed her ways, wouldn't.
Never mind that he'd promised himself he wouldn't do this anymore. Would
let it go, at last. Let the wound heal.
He lasted a few more minutes before giving in. He listened to the
ring hoping that Buffy would answer, that he could at least hear her
"Hello?" Not Buffy.
"Joyce." He waited. There was a moment of silence, an almost
inaudible sigh as she recognized his voice.
"Angel." Resignation in her voice.
Joyce hung up the phone 10 minutes later feeling like she'd been on
for at least 10 years. Goddamn she hated this. She froze guiltily, thinking
she heard something, but no further sounds came from upstairs. Buffy
was still safely asleep. If Buffy ever found out she was talking to
Angel, reporting on her to him... Joyce plopped herself down at the
kitchen table and put her head in her hands. She'd made her deal with
the devil, knowing what she was doing. And anything that got Angel away
from her daughter, and kept him gone, was a good thing. Right?
He'd been gone less than a week when the calls started -- they came
at any time of day, and whoever was calling hung up as soon as Buffy
answered. Buffy didn't say anything -- of course -- but Joyce knew she
suspected it was Angel. Joyce knew it was him. So she sent Buffy off
to visit her father that weekend, and the next time the phone rang,
picked up and told him: "Angel, you have to stop this." She'd
waited for his answer.
First he'd apologized, then he'd explained, and finally he'd begged:
He had to know that Buffy was all right, that she was doing well without
him. Please, if Joyce could just reassure him, tell him how she was
doing, he couldn't stand not knowing...the underlying threat being that
if she didn't, he might be forced to come back and check on her daughter
himself. So she agreed. And every couple of weeks he called and she
updated him. Reassured him that Buffy was Just Fine, she was Doing Well
In Her Studies, Making New Friends, Fighting Evil But Not Too Much.
Keeping it positive, shading the truth, lying through her teeth. And
so far so good: Angel stayed in LA, and she thought, she hoped, that
Buffy was beginning to get over him. But right now, she felt like she
needed a nice long soak in Lysol.
Buffy woke up when the phone rang. But she heard her mother's voice,
talking softly to whoever it was, and went back to sleep. When she woke
up again the sun was pouring through the curtains. She could tell from
the silence that her mother had already left. She reluctantly turned
her head and looked at the clock that she'd forgotten to set last night.
"Oh shit!" She had class at 10:00, no way was she going
to make it, even if she got up, which she should, right now. She lay
there, trying to gather the resolve. She was tired. She'd been up late
again, this time wiping out a nest of vampires with no better sense
than to start hunting on campus. All work and no play was making her
a cranky Slayer. Giles had noticed, but he was cutting her no slack,
sticking strictly to the manual: Duty, Destiny, blah, blah, blah. If
she complained too much he went into Deadly Sarcasm mode to which she
had no defense.
And no-one ever mentioned Angel. Not even Xander. Never, ever. It
was like when he left Sunnydale he ceased to exist.
"Angel, Angel, Angel," Buffy said, just to hear it. She
missed Angel. She wanted him back. Right after he'd left, she'd dreamed
about him almost every night, it was what got her through the long days
and lethal nights; the knowledge that when she finally fell asleep she'd
be in Angel's arms, holding him, feeling his lips on hers, resting safe
against the strength of his chest, even if it was only a dream.
But the dreams were fading, they came less and less often, and now
it looked like they'd stopped altogether. Willow said that was a good
thing, that it meant she was moving on. Well, Willow was wrong. Buffy
couldn't move on, she was stuck here on the Hellmouth, just her and
her Destiny and there was nothing she could do about it. She'd tried
running away, but wherever she went, she was still the Slayer. The Chosen
What was the point anyway, it wasn't like she was going to be graduating.
Sooner or later, and be real, they were probably talking sooner here,
her luck would run out. The next lucky girl would be called. Giles would
have to find another gig, and her friends would move on, get lives of
their own, leave the Hellmouth if they had any sense at all. She had
to go to her academic probation meeting, but Art History could go to
hell, she decided. Buffy closed her eyes and pulled the covers over
It was a beautiful morning and the forecast was for a beautiful day,
clear and warm. As Sylvia Orexis stepped out onto the balcony with her
breakfast, she could hear the birds singing prettily in the walnut tree
opposite, threatening violence to trespassers. The yellow sunlight was
nicely filtered by the wisteria covered trellis. She set the tray down
on the cafe table, sat down and poured herself a cup of coffee from
the delicate Limoges pot. She took a sip as she gazed down at Sunnydale;
the excellent view of the town was the main reason she'd chosen this
house. From here the town was spread out before her, perfect and golden
in the morning sun. One day, she thought, it would all be hers. One
day quite soon.
She'd labored long and hard over the years to attain her goal, and
she was very, very close. The stars were aligned in her favor. Her most
dangerous rivals had both been destroyed. Neither the Master, nor the
Mayor had ever been aware of her presence or the role she'd played in
their destruction. And now she need only pull the last few threads in,
weave them into their proper place in the pattern, and the Hellmouth
would be hers.
She was looking forward to becoming the Hellmouth's Queen, the absolute
ruler of the Hellmouth and everything living in it, and that was just
for starters. Once she learned to use the full powers of the Hellmouth,
there was no limit to how far she could go. In time, much greater things
might be possible. There was a wide world beyond Sunnydale, full of
people she would love to get to know better.
On his way to his car her neighbor looked up and waved. She smiled
and waved back. Mr. Dickson, such a nice man, he'd put on about 10 pounds
during the summer; it made him look quite delectable. And his two children
and pretty wife were absolutely scrumptious. She nibbled at her croissant.
Today was an important day, many things depended on how this interview
went. She didn't foresee any problems, but she'd been around long enough
to know the danger of Hubris. But she really had been working very hard.
She deserved a treat. As a reward, if things went as planned, and a
small solace if not. And she would summon Spike, it had been nearly
a week since she'd seen him, she'd hear his report and he could help
her celebrate, or not.
Alice sat at the kitchen table, drinking instant coffee at the brand
new table, sunlight blessing her through the brand new lace curtains.
She was thinking, a little guiltily, of the boy lying sleeping upstairs
on the brand new sheets in their brand new bed. She wished she had a
cigarette, but she'd given them up, again, just before Ilya.
She shouldn't be here; she had sincerely meant to go. That first morning
when she'd woken in his bed and lain there beside him, listening to
his soft snore. Thinking that she really ought to leave, now. She knew
she had no business here with this kid, sweet as he was. Young and pretty
and virile as he was. The color thing wasn't the problem it once was,
but she was still far too old for him even if he didn't know it; she
had him fooled with her mask of smooth-skinned big-eyed innocence. If
she stayed she would inevitably have to disillusion him about that --
and other things. Besides, this town made her shoulder blades itch.
Why the hell did people live here, knee-deep in monsters? There was
no way it was going to work out. She should go, now. Right now.
But it felt so good here, lying snug and warm with his arm over her.
So peaceful, so sweet to feel skin against skin, the slight jump of
his penis in the hollow of her back as his hand traced along her arm.
Finally, he spoke. "Alice. Are you awake?"
"Yes," her back to him.
"You want breakfast? I can make eggs, and toast, and probably
bacon." There was a tremulous desire in his voice that was terribly
He moved his hand to her shoulder, idly tracing circles on the smooth
skin. My, that felt nice. She rolled over to face him and saw the look
in his eyes, the wanting, overlaid by the certainty of disappointment.
Not the eyes of someone who was used to getting what he wanted, ever.
He looked so sweet, and so sad, that she just had to kiss him.
And of course one kiss led to another, and kisses led to touching,
and so on until they lay shattered, sweatily entangled, the hour closer
to lunch than breakfast and Alice realized that despite her good intentions,
she wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
So she'd called her mother. Endured the lecture, the deep pained sighs,
made the ritual acknowledgement of her own stupidity, and arranged to
have money, and ID FedEx'd to her. Went back upstairs and asked Xander
if it was OK if she stayed for awhile.
So, here she was, playing house. She'd had a good time over the past
week enjoying the game of furnishing their new nest. Xander was surprised
by the money she'd spent, but so far seemed to be enjoying the novelty
of not having to worry about what things cost.
Did he love her? He wanted her, that was for certain sure, and so
far she hadn't caught him lying to her.
"Be careful, hon. Don't let your heart get ahead of your head
this time," her mother had warned, just before they hung up.
"O.K. mama," She'd agreed, wondering then and now how that
"Wesley, we've got to do something about Angel." Cordelia
hit him with this announcement as he walked in the door carrying the
paper and a box of donuts.
"What?" Wesley frowned, confused, then nervous remembering
Angel unconscious smile, as he licked his lips. On the other hand, if
something happened Cordelia would hardly be polishing her nails.
"Angel, you know, big broody guy." Cordelia prompted when
he didn't respond immediately.
"Yes, I know. Is there something wrong with him?" Cordelia
sighed in exasperation.
"Hello? Mr. Observant, no wonder you washed out of the Watcher
corps. He's lost weight, he's not eating. And he's getting sloppy. I've
done so much outpatient surgery on him lately you guys ought to call
me Dr. Chase, and pay me more money."
Wesley thought back over the past few weeks, and had to admit she
had a point. There had been a certain recklessness in Angel's behavior
And it's not like he was ever Chatty Cathy but when was the last time
he said anything to either of us besides: Any visions Cordelia? Got
that translation yet Wesley?"
Wesley nodded. "Yes, now that you mention it, he has been a bit
"Like Mars. He needs Prozac. Or whatever works on vampires."
"Cordelia, don't you think you may be overreacting, just a tad.
We've been very..."
"And Buffy's just as bad. Willow's really worried about her.
I mean, the whole idea was: too much stress them being so close but
can't touch, so Angel does the noble, leaves...and now, Willow says
Buffy's gone from unhappy to majorly depressed. She's really worried
Wesley's amazement at the news that Cordelia talked to Willow was
overwhelmed by the chill he felt at the implication of her words. "You
aren't suggesting that they get back together? I don't think you really
understand the danger of that..."
"Sorry? I don't understand the psychoterror that is Angelus?"
She stared at him in disbelief. "As I recall, Wes, you were a couple
thousand miles away when Angelus was mindfucking us back in good old
Sunnydale. Believe me, I do "understand the danger." Wesley
refused to back down.
"So you understand why the two of them can never be allowed to...risk...
Why they must be kept apart." Wesley persisted. Cordelia nodded
in unhappy agreement, and she turned away, her voice dropping.
"Yes. But if something doesn't change soon, the powers that be
are going to have to find themselves a new Slayer not to mention a new
protector of the weak helper of the helpless."
Undetected, Angel quietly backed away from the door, and retreated
downstairs, back into the quiet dark.
The glass mountain rose against the night, impossible and alone on
a desert plain. Even in the moonlight it glittered, by day it was blinding,
everything in its quarter of the sky washed out by its searing brilliance.
He had to wait through the long day until the sun set and the heat and
light faded before he was able to emerge and begin his ascent.
The glass was slick and cool under his hands, cloudy gray with tiny
imperfections. It splintered into deadly shards as he slowly climbed,
chipping handholds with his knife. At the beginning he wore heavy gauntlets
but the leather was sliced, abraded, destroyed by the sharp edges. He
wrapped his hands in strips torn from his fine linen shirt, but the
broken glass shredded the cloth in turn. Leaving his hands bare. The
glass flensed away skin and flesh, till he was hauling himself up with
hands that were little more than bloody bones; smearing the slick surface
as he crawled up and up. He ignored the pain, concentrating on his goal,
the slight shadow at the top that marked the way into the mountain.
He pulled himself onto the narrow lintel, and had to rest on his knees
for a long moment utterly exhausted. Before him the way in stood dark,
waiting. He stood finally, his hands throbbing with agony. He spared
a quick glance for the sky overhead, the barren desert far below. None
of it mattered to him. He could hear her calling him as he walked into
There were endless steps, coiling into the mountain's heart. The night
and stars were still visible at first but as he descended, they slowly
faded, as the cumulative effect of the flaws and impurities in the glass
blotted them out, till he was moving through almost total darkness.
Stepping blindly down and down. Wondering if there is an end or if the
next step will pitch him into the abyss. Then he sees a faint greenish
glow, gently pulsing.
He runs recklessly down the last few steps, and follows the light
to the chamber at the mountain's heart. She is there, displayed in a
case, a sarcophagus made of crystal. He runs to the glass coffin, looks
down through the thick translucence of the lid.
"Dru," he moans seeing her at last. Her eyes are closed,
her hands folded on her chest, at peace; her pale face floats serenely
on the black pool of her hair. Miss Edith lies beside her, equally composed.
He tries to open it, but lid and coffin are made in one piece his
efforts useless. When he pounds on the lid with his bare hands, the
healing flesh tears away, speckling the vitreous surface with his flesh.
The glass is thick, but it shatters under his attack, taking its revenge
by carving away chunks of regenerated flesh as it shatters, his thick
dark blood trickles through the fractured lid and drips into her mouth.
He sees her eyelids flickering, ready to open and see him...
"Spike," Orexis' voice whispered in his ear.
Spike's eyes flew open, he rolled off the stone slab he'd been sleeping
on and landed on his ass on the dusty floor. He lay there, trembling,
as the ghost of her voice rang in the dusty tomb. Realizing slowly that
she wasn't here, that he was alone, safe...except for the gentle tug
of the leash woven into his flesh and bone. He'd been summoned.
For now her call was nothing more than a suggestion, it was still
daylight after all. But he knew the compulsion would grow the longer
he let it go unanswered, the pain would eat away at him until he gave
in, crawled to her to face whatever she wanted him for. He intended
to resist as long as possible. He didn't fancy facing her empty-handed,
and he had nothing new for her: no secret key to the Slayer's destruction,
no profound insights into how to weaken her. Nada. He didn't think she'd
be very happy with him. He picked up the ratty quilt he'd stolen from
Giles and lay back down, closed his eyes and tried to find his princess
"Ever wonder why there's so much, or for that matter any, night
life in Sunnydale? Considering all the demons and vampires?" Willow
wondered out loud.
"Does kinda seem to defy Darwin," Oz admitted, glancing
around at the lively scene. It was finally starting to feel like Fall
in Sunnydale, but surprisingly large numbers of people were still wandering
the streets downtown, even on a weeknight. Willow and Oz were headed
for McGinty's Ice Cream Emporium before going over to Giles' for the
Probably it had something to do with the Mayor, Willow thought. She
wondered what would happen now that he was gone. With Wilkins no longer
covering up the unpleasant facts of life in Sunnydale, would people
finally start to get a clue? Would real estate values start to drop?
Or would people prefer to remain happily ignorant...like her and all
her friends up until Buffy came to town?
"Hey, isn't that Xander?" Oz said, pointing across the street
at Bucci's a pricey Italian place, where a few couples protected from
the chill by overhead heat lamps were dining on the outdoor 'palazzo'.
Willow looked, and froze; it was Xander, in a jacket, having dinner
with a woman. A black woman in a dress that she would never have had
the nerve to wear out in public.
The food at Bucci's was really good. Xander had never been there before
because it was also really expensive and also, they had a dress code.
But he'd known the name when Alice said she wanted to go out, 'somewhere
nice'. He'd even put on a jacket. Alice was wearing a red dress that
made her look like a million dollars and Xander feel like lottery winner
Alice was definitely enjoying herself. Most girls out on a date would
pick at their dinner... well, anyway that's what he'd heard. He didn't
actually having a lot of real-life experience. Clearly, Alice hadn't
gotten the memo. She was very neat, kept her elbows off the table and
her mouth closed while chewing but she didn't pick at her food, she
annihilated it. He almost couldn't keep up.
"I still can't believe nobody reported it. Shouldn't there have
been headlines like, you know, "Escaped Leopard." Xander said.
Alice looked up from the tattered remains of her pasta puttanesca
and shrugged. "Um. No big surprise. We're talking crooked and not
too bright. I'm pretty sure the managers were Russian Mafia types. They
probably broke down the cage, burned the sign, and hoped no-one would
find out before they were 500 miles away."
"Lucky, I guess."
"Now and again." He felt her bare foot shamelessly rubbing
against his instep. She grinned at him and Xander felt a blush spread
over his face. "So, do you like the apartment?"
"Sure. Yeah. It's just..." Xander hesitated.
"You think we're moving too fast?" Looking at him with what
looked a lot like actual concern. Like she wasn't just sticking around
to be nice. Xander shook his head, really not wanting to blow this,
but needing to say it.
"No, it's great, living with you, but it feels weird you paying
for everything. The apartment, dinner, you even bought me clothes. It
makes me feel like Richard Gere. We could get someplace cheaper. I don't
want to take advantage of you..." He caught the sudden look of
embarrassment or was it guilt, that crossed her face, not for the first
time. One of these days, when he was feeling a little more secure, say
5 or 10 years from now, he'd have to ask her about it.
"You're not. I've got the money, and when you get a job you can
pay me back," she smiled reassuringly.
"Hey Xander," Oz said as he and Willow leaned over the wall
separating the dining area from the sidewalk.
"Hey, Hi guys," Xander said a little surprised. Willow and
Oz. Willow not looking happy he noticed.
"Hi, Xan...who's this?" Willow's smile was brittle as she
stared at Alice. Oz was staring too, Xander realized, but it was a different
kind of stare. Still there seemed to be a whole lotta staring going
on here. Alice smiled back at both of them, perfectly friendly. Xander
leapt into the silence.
"Guys, this is Alice, Uh, she's my she, uh, girl, we together
are," Me speakie English good, he groaned silently.
"Smooth," Oz murmured, never taking his eyes off Alice.
That was one hell of a dress, he wished Willow would wear something
like that once in a while; at home, behind closed doors. She looked
at him calmly, waiting for him to make a decision.
"Xander?" Willow's voice was as strained as her smile. "When
did this happen?"
"It's kinda recent. Uh, Alice, this is Willow, my best friend."
"Pleased to meet you," Alice offered her hand. Willow ignored
it, though she mumbled something that was probably "Hi." Oh,
Alice thought, it's like that, is it.
"And Oz, also a friend." Xander said, frowning at Willow's
"Oz." Alice offered her hand again and felt deep relief
when the werewolf took her hand, they were going to be civilized, good.
"New in town?" he asked. Pale eyes. Hard to read. She nodded.
"Xander persuaded me to stick around for a little while."
She read approval in his eyes.
"Xander, you're coming to the meeting tonight, right?" Willow
asked in what seemed to be her new voice. Xander preferred the old one.
"Yeah, sure." Shit, he'd forgotten about the meeting. He
turned in sudden panic to Alice. "Uhh.. That's O.K., right? It's
like a regular thing, this meeting." Alice nodded.
"'Sure. I'll finish unpacking."
"Thanks." He turned back to his friends. "I'll see
you there guys, O.K.?"
"Yeah, we've got hot fudge sundaes waiting for us." Oz took
gentle hold of Willow's hand. She looked at him, nodded, chocolate would
be a good thing right about now.
"Bye," she said forlornly, to Xander. Seeing the genuinely
puzzled look on his face as he watched them go, Alice bit her tongue
on what she was going to say.
"She seems nice," Oz commented as they walked away. Willow
glanced at him.
"I don't like her," she said flatly. "She seems...sneaky."
"Probably the whole being a cat thing," Oz said holding
the door to McGinty's Ice Cream Emporium open for her.
"What?!" Willow's mouth fell open and belatedly, Oz wished
he'd kept his mouth shut.
"You know, I was really worried about this meeting, but she's
really nice. Even though I was late. And she's cute -- for an old person,
I wish I could get my hair to curl up like that. She told me to call
her Sylvia. I wish I hadn't blown off so many of her classes now but
it's right after lunch and full stomach + night's slaying + dark room
= drooling Buffy. Also flunking Buffy, hence the whole conference thing."
As Giles came through with the book he'd needed, he thought that Buffy
sounded unusually energized tonight, almost like the old pre-Angel Buffy.
"I heard her classes are really popular." Buffy thought
that Willow seemed a little distracted tonight.
"Yeah, she didn't lay any guilt trips on me. Said she understood
the transition was sometimes difficult and I could do a special project.
My choice, anything during the period. I'm supposed to meet with Sylvia
next week with my proposal...uh, you'll help me, right?"
"Uh, sure." Definitely distracted Willow. She wondered if
she and Oz were having trouble...naw, never happen.
"Saturday?" Willow nodded.
"Excuse me," Giles said standing at the head of the table.
Spike came late and sat outside the open screen door, smoking and
trying to pay attention as the Wanker droned on about corpses being
found sucked dry of everything, not just blood. The Capteniel, some
kind of bad-ass demon clan in town, slimy, poisonous tentacles: sounded
nasty. The bone-deep ache of Orexis call was rapidly becoming unbearable
and he knew he wouldn't be able to hold out much longer. But he hung
on, hoping for something useful, anything. Of course none of the humans
had noticed anything different about him.
The Capteniel were probably here to open the Hellmouth. They Must
be Stopped, blah, blah, blah. Nothing here that Orexis didn't already
know. He imagined their reaction if he told them who was in charge now.
"So what's the plan?" Buffy asked.
"Well, at this point, all I can do is try and find out how exactly
they mean to open the Hellmouth and frustrate them."
"Research, I'm up for that," Willow said brightly.
"Count me in," Oz said. Willow glanced over at Xander who
smiled at her, but didn't volunteer to join them. She frowned and looked
"Xander, I'd like to have a word with you," Giles said just
as Xander was about to leave. Spike's ears pricked up at the sound of
strain in his voice, this sounded interesting. He slid back deeper into
the shadows as the Watcher drew Xander aside.
"Uh, sure. What's up?" Xander checked his watch, almost
9, he could be home in half an hour. Alice had bought Titanic on DVD,
but wanted to watch it with him; he figured tonight was a good one to
make the sacrifice.
"Oz told me something disturbing. About, er, your new, ah, friend."
Spike's eyebrows rose, Xander had a 'friend'? How? Must be a pity fuck.
"Her name's Alice." Xander said tightly. Spike could smell
the tension, he stubbed out his cigarette, this was getting interesting.
"What about her?"
"He says she's ah, not human." Whoops, Spike thought, and
leaned closer to the screen, wanting to see their expressions.
"Yeah. That's right."
"So you knew?" Disapproval and surprise sharpened Giles'
"Yeah, I knew. We don't have any secrets. What did you think?
'Oh dear, poor Xander, demon bait-boy, we have to rescue him again?'"
Definitely pissed off, Spike thought.
"Xander, I'm simply concerned, we're simply concerned that you
may be in a situation that...""
"We? Who else did Willow tell?" Xander's voice rose.
"She was concerned for your welfare, when Oz told her. So she
came to me."
"Yeah, well, don't bother. I'm fine. She's not evil, O.K.? I
kinda know what to look for by now. And she at least as human as Oz
is. Just cause she can change into a leopard, doesn't make her a bad
person. At least she has a heartbeat."
Fuck me, Spike thought, the pain temporarily erased by surprise.
"How can you be sure? You don't think the timing is a little...suspicious,
her showing up at the same time as the Capteniel?"
"I'm as sure about Alice as Willow is about Oz." Giles didn't
remember ever seeing Xander's face looking this hard, so undeniably
adult. "She ain't evil. And when the hell isn't there some kinda
supernatural evil in town?"
"Xander, my only concern is that..."
"You know what Giles, I don't care about your concern. This isn't
any of your, or anyone else's business. And I've got to go." And
he went, brushing past an excessively innocent Spike without really
noticing. Giles looked after him, shaking his head.
Spike grinned to himself, even as another blade of pain knifed through
his guts. This ought to be worth something to her. Maybe enough to keep
the skin on his back for another night.
"Gotta go too," he told Giles and followed Xander into the
"A new factor; a shapechanger. That is interesting," Orexis
said. She tapped her chin prettily with one finger, thinking. She was
wearing jeans and a pale blue smock tonight, it set off her eyes. Spike
watched her warily. "You saw her before?"
"At the circus," he said shortly. "Didn't know what
she was then."
"I don't suppose you saw her human shape?" Her eyes were
distant, and she had a half smile on her face. Spike really didn't want
"No, but she's bound to come around the group, now that Xander's
doing her regular."
"True. Hmmm. There's a great deal of power in shapechangers."
Her expression was distinctly hungry. Spike took an involuntary step
back. "This will take careful handling, still, I'm grateful for
the information. Do you have any other news?"
"Naw," he admitted uneasily. "The witch and the wolf
are just hunky-dory. Watcher's the same as always, if a little at loose
ends. Buffy's still all sad because the pouf's gone; though she seemed
a bit cheered up tonight; maybe the field trip and all the handholding
everyone does for her is working."
"Hmmm. Well things will be changing there soon." Spike waited
in vain for an explanation, but instead, she changed tack. "You
know, Spike dear, I was quite prepared to be angry with you for taking
so long to answer." Spike felt cold fear sliding down his spine.
"But I'm quite pleased with your work after all. I think you deserve
She had to struggle not to laugh at the look of disbelief and deep
suspicion he gave her. 125 years old, and he was just so cute.
"A treat?" Not sure he'd heard her right.
"Come along." Fulfilling Spike's worst fears she led him
down into the basement, to her 'playroom'. His home for long months
of pain. Maybe he'd be lucky, this time, maybe she'd finish him quickly,
he thought as she opened the door and waved him in before her.
Nothing had changed.
"I'd planned this for myself, but you deserve it for that little
bit of news." she told him and gestured towards the table/chair.
There was a body lying on it. Spike froze as the scent of unwashed human
hit his nostrils. He looked at Orexis questioningly. She smiled, his
reaction was everything she had anticipated. "Go on," she
Spike went to the table, and looked down at the boy lying where he'd
spent so much time. No need to chain him, he'd obviously been given
something to knock him out, the gag and taping his wrists together was
overkill. He reaches out for the boy, not truly believing in him until
he actually touches warm skin; he smells of stale beer and not enough
showers. Young, about 18, Spike guesses, more or less. Slightly thinner
than his bone structure would have him be if he got enough to eat. He
sighs in his sleep at Spike's touch, his heartbeat quickens making the
smell of his blood rise, and Spike's his true face surfaces in reaction,
his teeth growing sharp in anticipation. It had been so long since he'd
had it fresh and hot from the source. He jerked the boy up by his t-shirt
and rips open the collar revealing the defenseless throat, just begging
him to sink his fangs into the defenseless throat... He leans down,
and freezes, suddenly aware of Orexis watching him with that smirk on
her face. Looks at the meal hanging limply from his hands and realizes
that no matter how many drugs they'd given him, having one's throat
torn out was liable to hurt. He frowns and lowers the boy carefully
back onto the table. And thought.
"Something wrong dear?" Orexis said. Spike shook his head,
"Not a thing," he said and went to work.
Orexis leaned back against the wall, watching as Spike undressed the
boy, as carefully as if he was the loser's very own crack whore mommy.
Stripped him bare. The boy stirred a little as he was fully exposed
to the air, but didn't wake. Spike hesitated a moment before steeling
himself to climb up next to him, he pulled the human into his lap. His
victim sagged against him, legs apart, uncomfortably warm against Spike.
He didn't much like touching humans, but it was like eating lobster:
you just had to get past the fact that you were eating a big aquatic
bug and concentrate on the taste. He didn't normally fancy blokes, but
Angelus wasn't nearly so particular, and when he tired of fucking Dru,
Spike had found himself regularly appointed as the nearest tight hole.
Right then, to work.
He reached down to the boy's crotch and took gentle hold of his cock.
Awake, the boy probably would have complained about the chill of his
hand, but on its own his penis wasn't inclined to be so picky. All it
knew was that friction, expertly applied was a good thing; it sprang
to life in Spike's hand, swelled. Very carefully, Spike put his face
close to the runaway's throat, blew softly on the beating vein, then
licked it. No problem. He put his mouth over the maddening pulse and
suckled gently. The boy's cock jumped in his hand. Very slowly, he slid
his fangs into the skin, through the thin wall of the vein, into the
flow. He winced as he felt a razor slash in the side of his throat;
it hurt, but it was nothing he couldn't stand when for the first time
in months he had living human blood filling his mouth. He could taste
the drugs in the blood, and feel their effects blurring his pain as
he drank. He kept on sucking gently, while keeping up the motion of
his hand, finding that the closer the boy came to orgasm, the harder
he could suck without the pain becoming incapacitating, but it was still
frustratingly slow. He was nowhere near full when he the boy gasped
and came in Spike's hand. He grimaced and wiped the mess off on the
boy's chest. The boy lay back against him, smiling in his sleep, he
was pale and his breathing was a little labored, but he was still alive.
Spike frowned, he doubted he'd gotten more than half of what was there.
He glanced over at Orexis. She raised an eyebrow.
"Done? Already?" She sounded disappointed. Not nearly as
disappointed as he was. Spike was still hungry, and damned if he'd leave
his first decent feed in months half-finished. Had to think. Experimentally,
he wet his finger and gently probed the boy's ass. Bingo. His invasion
at the back caused a definite reaction in front. He never would have
thought he'd be grateful for Angelus' painfully thorough lessons, but
it just goes to show. He carefully disentangled himself and slid off
"Need something to..." Orexis smiled and indicated the tray
next to the chair. There was a small container of Crisco...along with
a frying pan, various knives and other utensils, and a hot plate. It
occurred to him as he picked up the can, that he was probably doing
the kid a favor. Not that he gave a toss. He pulled the boy forward,
until his ass was on the very edge of the table, took a big dollop of
shortening onto his finger, and went to work.
Gently, gently, he thought circling the tight little rosebud with
his finger, relaxing the muscle before slowly pushing his finger inside.
The boy sighed and moved forward, greedy for more penetration. Spike
carefully added another finger, stretching him, watching with clinical
approval as the boy's cock began to rise again. He deliberately blocked
his awareness of Orexis' avid gaze, the smell of her arousal. The tang
of vinegar in the air... Spike unzipped his pants and pulled out his
cock. He was barely half-hard, but he closed his eyes and concentrated
on the thought of blood, sweet, warm blood, sliding down his throat,
filling his belly...of his Princess, spreading herself for him, painting
a trail of blood from her throat to her labia, wet and red and ready
for him... He moaned and opened his eyes, he was fully erect, ready
to do the job.
He spread the boy's legs made damn sure he'd slicked himself, and
the boy's ass thoroughly before putting his cock against the boy's entrance
and pushing carefully inside. It felt better than he expected, a little
too tight, and warm instead of Dru's lovely slippery cool; but still,
not bad. The body under him moaned in pleasure, and pushed back, his
penis rubbing against his shirt. He should have taken off the shirt
he realized. Ah well, he began to move, thrusting deeply but slowly,
making sure the boy's body had time to adjust. The drugs he'd ingested
were beginning to fade and he felt a familiar pressure in his own ass,
but it faded quickly as the boy's body stopped feeling it as pain. Spike
pulled him up, pressing him close and found the vein again, never breaking
his rhythm as he slipped his fangs into him again. This time there was
hardly any pain as the blood flowed into his mouth. Spike growled in
satisfaction and hugged the boy tighter.
Orexis watched raptly as the boy jerked and came, spurting his last
against Spikes belly a few seconds before he slipped into the total
relaxation of death. Spike kept fucking him, continuing to feed until
he was sure he'd drained every drop. Only then did he grunt, and let
himself spend into the slowly cooling corpse. Orexis applauded as Spike
pulled out. He grinned, feeling really good for the first time in a
long time, replete.
"Nicely done," she said, "Really, quite a performance."
Spike felt fear wash away his complacency. He could tell that the
little show had excited her. He forced himself to look at her, but she
kept her human form. He hastily tucked himself away. He could feel her
gaze on him, and panic started to fill his bones with icewater. He'd
thought he was done with fear the night he died, and for a long time
it had been true, but Orexis made him feel mortal.
He was terrified, Orexis thought. Lovely emotion, it made his white
skin gleam with cold sweat, and the hard angles of his face, his body
went beautifully rigid. She was tempted...but if she took him now, she
might well break him. So, no. Not tonight. Besides, she had work to
"I'm glad you liked your present," she paused and made a
decision. "Don't worry about the leftovers, I'll see to them. Goodnight."
She left Spike there shivering with released tension in the cold white
Alone at last, Giles thought as he put out the light and climbed into
bed, his last refuge from a life that had become entirely too complicated.
Three years ago, he thought staring up at the familiar cracks in the
ceiling, things had been so simple: he was the Watcher, the guardian
and guide of the Chosen One, the Slayer. He'd spent most of his life
training for the position and he'd known exactly what his duties were,
exactly what was expected of him. He'd been fully prepared to die if
necessary, helping her fight the powers of darkness. He hadn't been
prepared for Buffy.
Buffy was not interested in the rules. She broke them blithely, and
somehow he found himself dragged along, tolerating and then supporting
her iconoclasm. Failing to maintain the necessary distance. Abandoning
the basic principles governing Watcher/Slayer relations.. Refusing to
let her be sacrificed to the medieval nonsense of the Cruciamentum.
And got himself tossed out on his ass.
But while the Council no longer considers him a Watcher, he still
carries the responsibility. To the Slayer, to her friends, his friends.
Not to mention Sunnydale and the rest of the world, happily oblivious
to the darkness waiting to devour it all.
Xander. Giles fumed silently. The horny little idiot, how the hell
could he do something so stupid, so dangerous; especially considering
his history...but still, that interview could certainly have gone better.
It was so difficult to strike the right note. Because they weren't children,
not legally and not in fact, not after all they'd seen, suffered, and
achieved. But they still came to him, for his knowledge, his experience.
Adult, but they still looked to him as their mentor, as a, well, father
figure. (Their own father's being absent, or in Xander's case, actually
abusive.) And they resented him for it sometimes, quite frequently in
fact. And he wondered how he'll adjust when they finish growing up,
and no longer need him. What will he do then?
He'll have to speak with Xander again, once he has more information
on shapechangers, wereleopard, whatever she was. Get the matter resolved.
And since he wasn't getting any sleep he might as well start researching
Orexis stepped into her parlor and began her preparations, opening
the drapes to the night, pushing the furniture to the walls, rolling
the carpet out of the way. She yawned, she was absolutely stuffed and
very tired but there were things she needed to do before she could rest.
The moon was down, and dawn was fast approaching, bringing with it the
instability when night gave way to day, when chaos was easiest to loose
into the world.
Orexis smiled as she brought out two of the twists of hair Spike had
brought her: brown with a few gray hairs; light brown, long and curled,
and two photographs, one stolen, the other secretly taken by her blond
boy. Their blood would have been even better, but that was almost never
possible, and it wasn't really necessary. She carefully laid the tokens
in the center of the floor, then she dipped her athame in the little
bowl of fresh bile and began to trace out the symbols on the polished
wood, reviewing the conversation she'd had with Spike a little over
a week ago.
"So, the Watcher had some sort of liaison with the Slayer's mother?"
"Yeah, they apparently did the horizontal tango courtesy of some
spell and she hates his guts because of it." Spike sniggered. "She
wouldn't give him the time of day if he and Buffy didn't have that whole
surrogate parent/child thing going on." He'd glanced over at Orexis
and seen an expression of deep satisfaction cross her face.
Spike really had been quite useful, Orexis thought as she set out
the candles. She was glad she'd been able to reward him with a treat;
and he had put on a pretty show. When she ruled the Hellmouth she would
see that he was rewarded suitably. She stepped back from her work and
looked at the sky, just beginning to lighten. It was time. She walked
over to the shrouded birdcage and took out a small green parrot. She
held it pinioned in one hand, docile and confused by the dark as she
began the incantation.
"Sentirlo me pontenzi, dato che sono la regina dei cuori. Sono
lei che conosce il più bene l' amore." She took a step counterclockwise,
beginning her circuit of the pattern. "Sentirlo uomo, Signore Rupert
Giles, io li legano così: Amare, essere il vostro maestro,"
she bent and lit the first candle. "Amore che sopraffa riempirà
il vostro cuore; l' amore li consumerà, farà il vostro
cuore battere troppo veloce, li congelerà e li brucerà,"
as the second candle flared to light she felt the power beginning to
build. "Nessuna volontà che avete, nessun surcease di resto;
se li gira, non farete attenzione a, se li ignora," the third candle,
the sky was growing pale as the night died. "Voi non vi sentirete,
fra le sue coscie siete la vostra soltanto pace!" As the final
candle was lit the Hellmouth's power roared to life. Orexis luxuriated
in the glorious sensation as it moved into her, through her, augmenting
her own powers. She could feel the bird's heart hammering through the
"Dalla mia volontà e dal hell, lasciarla essere così!"
She gripped the lovebird's head in one hand and its body in the other
and tore it apart, splattering the blood over the photographs and pattern.
A greenish fog appeared, and hovered over the lines for a moment, then
dissipated as the first ray of sun crept over the horizon. Orexis smiled.
That ought to do it. And it looked like being another beautiful morning.
END part 2
Next: Part 3, Is This Love That I Feel?