"Get away from me!" Wesley warns, shoving the cross in Angel's
face. Angel frowns, and shakes his head.
"I've warned you about that," he says, grabbing the offending
hand, and squeezing hard; the crucifix makes a little 'ting' as it hits
the floor. He pulls Wesley forward, spinning him around so he's held
with Angel's arm around his throat, helpless. Puts his mouth close to
Wesley's ear, whispers. "Told you, never let a vampire get too
"A-Angel," Wesley stutters. "L-let me go please."
Angel presses his face to the nape of the man's neck, damp with cold
sweat, he can feel the fine hairs individual under his tongue. The smell
of Wesley's fear, the feel of his lean body as he trembles in Angel's
grip, the soft whimper as Angel's hand tears open his collar, are like
honey in his mouth.
"Don't worry, I won't hurt you." Angel lies, as he slides
his fangs down the vulnerable neck, blood wells up in a ruby bead, and
bursts on his tongue like a pomegranate seed.
"Angel?" There's a slight tremor in Cordelia's voice. "Hey!"
Angel opens his eyes. Cordelia is looking down at him, at his hand holding
her warm, soft arm. There is the barest hint of fear oozing from her
skin. She jerks her arm away and he lets her go this time. Hard for
him to think, still disoriented by sleep and the vivid dream and it
doesn't help that he's so damned hungry and Cordelia smells so *good*.
She's still frowning at him, and he doesn't know why.
"Hey! Angel! Stand down," she says sharply, tapping her forehead.
Puzzled, brain still slow, then he realizes that the demon is showing.
He hastily shoves it back under his skin. Cordelia is only partially
"Talk about waking up ugly. If this is what you're like in the
morning, scratch me doing wake-up duty ever again."
"Sorry. Bad dream." She smiles then. Angel is amused and
a little saddened by how easily she lets herself be lulled by his mask,
even while the marks of his fingers are still fading from her skin.
"Client, Mr. Greene, remember?" she says sharply.
"Dengue demons, holding him up for protection money. Yeah."
"We have a meeting at 6:30 in Venice, and somehow I don't think
you in your boxers is gonna project the right image."
"Good point." Still having a little trouble focusing on her
words instead of her freshly painted lips, they look so very sweet…
<Just wanna a little taste.> The demon whines.
"I need a shower. I'll see you upstairs in a few minutes."
Cordelia nods and turns her back on him, headed for the stairs. He's
caught by the way her hair moves, a dark silk river down her back, by
her utter vulnerability. The hunger coils and hisses inside, telling
him how easy, how simple, it would be to grab her and pull her down
with him in the bed. To bite deep into that golden neck and sate himself
with everything that is Cordelia.
He waits until she is safely out of sight before getting out of bed.
In the bathroom, he splashes water into his face and stares into the
blank mirror, his erection pressed against the sink. Cordelia's scent
still clings to him. She's driving him mad. He wants her. He wants her
mouth, her breasts, her body, her eyes looking into his, her voice saying
she wants him.
Not sure of the exact date when it changed. It was sometime after they
got back from Sunnydale. When his thoughts ceased to be brotherly, when
he started to dwell on the softness of her skin against his as she bandaged
him, the feel of her breasts pressed against his arm. When he began
watching her, surreptitiously as she moved around the office, awed by
the improbable perfection of her body.
When the sweet beguilement of her blood, her familiar heartbeat, turned
into constant temptation.
He'd feel better if he could only blame it all on the demon, but it
isn't the demon that wants to hear his name on her lips as she comes.
It's not Angelus that wants to be held in someone's arms without the
risk of triggering Armageddon. It's not the demon that has trouble thinking
when he smells the traces of other men on her skin.
He wants to tempt fate with her. Tells himself it isn't love, that
perfect happiness is not at issue with Cordelia. What he feels is carnal
desire, pure and simple, and he wavers through the long nights, wanting
to go to her, ask her, beg her to let him in. The only thing preventing
him from doing it is the fear, not that she'll say no, but that he won't
be able to stop. That his thirst will overcome his lust. That it will
end in death, not pleasure. So far it's kept him silent, and alone,
but he doesn't know how much longer he can do this.
It's been a long two weeks. He hasn't talked to anyone in Sunnydale
since he left. Didn't see the point. Giles probably has his suspicions
but Angel guesses he's just as pleased to see Angel gone again. And
what the hell can he say to Buffy that won't make it worse? Would it
help to tell her that every time he thinks of her the hunger blooms
inside him till he thinks it will burst through his skin? That he dreams
every night of finishing what he started, of taking every last drop
of her blood for his own comfort? She'd either stake him, or try to
fix it, and she doesn't know how dangerous, how hopeless that attempt
would be. Angel doesn't think this can be fixed. This doesn't feel like
magic, it feels too much like the old problem. Him. His weakness. He's
tired of being alone, tired of fighting, tired of denying himself. He
wants to take comfort in Buffy, and that way lies disaster. This is
better. She'll never forgive him, and that's good. Whatever it takes
to keep her away from him.
He wishes he knew how to drive Cordelia and Wesley away. And that he
had the strength to do it. Wishes he believed Cordelia's promise to
kill him dead if Angelus ever raises his evil head again. Wishes he
believed that Wesley had a plan to kill him, in an emergency.
His hunger is a constant acid craving now, that's slowly burning away
his inhibitions, his will, and his imitation of humanity. It's worse
than those first dark months he spent in L.A., alone with the memory
of Buffy's blood and his despair. Doyle had spoken truth: when he found
him Angel had been only a night or two away from giving into the temptation
to eat one of the tender morsels of helpless humanity he'd been impersonally
rescuing. So much worse now, because he can't hide himself in the dark,
away from the temptations of living flesh and warm blood. He's surrounded
by his friends, his companions, and he doesn't know how much longer
he can keep his own desires and the demon in check.
Not helping that Wesley has noticed that something is wrong and he
reeks of fear whenever Angel comes near. He wonders how much Wesley
knows and how much he suspects. More than half-tempted to lay it all
out for him, share the burden. Speculating almost dispassionately, what,
if anything the former Watcher will decide to do about it. Deep inside,
Angelus is amused by the idea, wants to see him try.
Another part of him wants to know how Wesley would react if he told
him just how delicious the fear makes him smell. And that Angelus will
turn him if he ever gets the chance.
He steps into the shower, turns the water on hot; the warmth soothes
the hunger a little, sends the demon into retreat. He masturbates under
the scalding stream, struggling to keep his fantasy safely anonymous,
no Cordelia, no Buffy, no Kate.
An old memory rises to the surface: the erotic contrast of dark brown
skin on eternally pale, of tightly coiled hair surprisingly soft to
the hand, of almond eyes smiling darkly up at him. Smiles as he remembers
her full, slightly pointed breasts filling his cold hands, her mouth
drowning his in warmth, her narrow hands pumping his cock. Sweet Lucy.
She was a tiny woman, even shorter than Buffy. He'd called her his
Pocket Venus. But despite his age, his sex, his size, she'd always been
the one in control. The first time they fucked set the pattern. He'd
taken shelter from the sun in her room after saving her from a couple
of hungry vampires. Woken to find a very drunk, and very naked, Lucy
giggling happily as she straddled him. And whatever doubts he might
have had, his erection had been unambivalent. He never had a chance.
They were together for two years. Her cheerful lust, her easy acceptance
of what he was dissolved the cocoon of self-loathing that he'd woven
around himself after the Great War. She didn't love him, and he didn't
love her, but they were good for each other. She cut back on her drinking,
and he started bathing and stopped eating rats.
Two good years, when he'd been as close to bliss as he'd been since
that bad night in Romania. Perilously close, in retrospect. But he hadn't
known about the danger, he'd been happy.
Until she left him, destroying his hopes, without a word, without explanation.
Lucy would never have given a clown like Xander Harris a second look.
Wonders if Alice has told him that she's one of a set. Somehow he doubts
Harris would see the joke in the fact that he probably knows Alice's
body as well as or better than the smug little pup. He'd memorized every
last inch of Lucy. Thought he knew her inside and out, body and mind.
What it's like for Xander and his girl? Does Alice smile wickedly when
she takes him in her mouth? Do her eyes close, and her tongue show pink
between her lips when she's getting close? Does she mark his back with
He remembers the taste of Lucy's blood, vital, healing, bringing him
closer to life than he'd been in almost 200 years. Not even Slayer blood
compared. It had filled him to overflowing, the taste it made him feel
forgiven. Given him hope…
Given him the gleam of sunlight on the curve of her cheek, warm, not
burning on his skin when he stepped forward to kiss her...
Angel comes with terrifying delight and force. His knees buckle, and
he leans against the shower wall, gasping and shaking under the pounding
water. Feeling the hunger creeping back into his nerves as the pleasure
He dresses, feeds, and goes upstairs. Cordelia raises an eyebrow, but
doesn't say anything.
"Hello Angel," Wesley says carefully casual as he looks up
from his book. Angel nods, aware of the taste of pig's blood still coating
his mouth, and he's still hungry. It doesn't seem to matter how much
he drinks these days, how much he bloats his stomach with cow or pig
or sheep's blood, at best it only eases, never erases the constant thirst.
Human blood is a little better, but the warmth of the microwave is no
substitute for living blood.
Angel feels the weight of Wesley's worried gaze, but he can't bring
himself to look him in the eye, not with the memory of the dream fresh,
and not with the knowledge, the resolution, that if he loses it, when
he loses it, he'll use the last of his control to make sure that it's
Wesley who's sacrificed to the beast. Not Cordelia. Never her.
Xander is asleep, his breath warm on the top of her head as Alice lies
cradled in his arms. She wants to be asleep, but the half-moon is pouring
pale light through the window and it makes the cat shift restlessly
under her too-tight skin. She can hear the night calling to her. Tempting
her away from the safety of her warm bed and her trusting lover.
There's a pack of coyotes yipping up in the hills, declaring their
territory. The sound sends a shiver of mixed outrage and excitement
through her. The other day Xander said that they sounded like wolves,
and wondered if they remind Willow of Oz and she'd had to bite her tongue,
and say nothing. Told herself that maybe they do sound like werewolves,
she wouldn't know, she does know for damn sure that they sound nothing
at all like wolves.
She smiles suddenly remembering racing through the Texas night in a
souped-up Model A. The car loaded to the gills with Canadian bootleg,
the bottles clanking and crashing as they roared along the one lane
road, chasing the tiny patch of blacktop illuminated by the headlights,
endless darkness rushing past on either side. She'd been squeezed into
the front seat, scared and excited as she hugged her coat against the
wind. Darryl's hand was on her knee, thumb moving in slow circles, reminding
her why she'd come along.
Then the wolves started up, the howling sending instinctive terror
through her, totally exposed in the flat, treeless plain. Darryl felt
her shiver, patted her thigh reassuringly. "Just wolves, honey.
Ain't wolves we got to worry about," he laughed. And right on schedule
there was a spotlight behind them, shouted commands swept away by the
rushing wind: The Law, hot on their trail. She'd grabbed hold of the
dashboard as Darryl grinned, put both hands back on the steering wheel,
and floored it…
She sighs, and raises up on her elbow to look at Xander. He sleeps
like a child, abandoned, and trusting. They got away that time and now
that night lives only in her memory. Darryl's been dead for years, died
an old man in his own bed but she's still here, eternally smoothskinned,
and old behind the eyes.
She presses close, inhales the warm smell of Xander. In this form his
scent is muddy and indistinct, but she'd still know it in either form.
She's in love once again, but this time, for the first time she hopes
it's more than her usual delusion and lust. She really believes they
have a chance. That she might finally have found her way Home. No more
secrets between them. Xander knows more about her than any other lover
has. She'll tell Xander about that wild Texas night ride, one day. Only,
there's so much to tell she's taking it slow, still wary of swamping
him. Though so far he's dealt with it amazingly well, but she doesn't
want to push it.
And she still can't sleep.
With a sigh, she eases herself out from underneath his arm, and slides
carefully out of bed. She tucks the blanket back in place and stands
for a moment looking down at him. He looks so sweet, so handsome lying
there with his hair tousled and that wide mouth curved in a half-smile.
She bends down to kiss him, then thinks better of it, afraid she'll
Out on the utility porch, she sheds her clothes, leaving them in a
neat pile on top of the dryer. Steps out onto the porch, the door clicking
shut behind her. The night air raises goosebumps on her skin as she
bends down to tuck the key under the mat. One last glance around for
unwelcome eyes, and then she changes.
Brief moment of disorientation, and then she's there and it feels so
good, to have her senses sharp and clear again, to be centered firmly
on four feet, and the air is no longer cold and filled with the night's
news. Joyfully she runs across the moon-silvered grass in an easy flow
of sleek muscle. One easy bound and she's on top of the wall, lifting
her blunt muzzle to test the breeze.
The condominium where they live is less than a year old, and the property
backs onto land as wild as when the Spanish named it La Boca Del Infierno.
There is good hunting up there in the hills and down in the brush-choked
ravines; the breeze brings her the scent of rabbits, possums, and deer...
Furry, edible toys, waiting for her to find and chase and kill them.
She leaps down and takes her usual path, pausing at various spots to
squat and renew her scent, then stretch up to claw the bark as reaffirmation
of her territory. Her human self is vaguely amused by the ritual, thousands
of miles from the chance of another leopard, especially since the predators
she really wants to warn off care nothing for her scrapes. Still, she
can't help sharing the sense of rightness when it's done. Satisfied,
she rambles round until she comes across the trail of a deer, a yearling
buck; it smells healthy and oblivious. Not many predators for it to
fear, and it has left a visible trail through the wildgrass, grown tall
and green from the winter rains. She follows it up and around the hill.
On the ridge, she paused for a moment to look down at Sunnydale's lights
speckling the lowlands. Sunnydale is thriving, oddly immune to the negatives
of an inflated mortality rate and exploding high schools. By rights
it should have been a ghost town years since, abandoned to the demons
that love it so much. She's here because Xander is here and he won't
leave his friends, but what's everyone else's excuse?
She turns back to the buck's trail, but right on cue, the wind shifts
bringing the faint taint of vampire to spoil the air. It makes the fur
along her spine rise and the base of her whiskers tingle in outrage
at the trespass on her territory. Reluctantly she turns to follow the
vampire's trail. Some things she can't just overlook, and having a vampire
here in her backyard is one of them.
Too bad it's a strange vampire, not Spike. She really wants to meet
Spike sometime, alone in the dark: she has something she wants to show
him. She's sick of the sight of him, always hanging around like a bad
smell, being 'helpful' with that big shit-eating grin on his face. Ain't
fooling her one little bit, she knows a predator when she sees one.
And the way he hangs around Willow really gets her back up.
She feels sorry for the girl, poor Willow. Goddamn Oz, he'd ripped
her heart out when he left like that. Girl mopes around, bleeding pain
and misery and Spike's always right there, much too interested. It worries
her because the little witch has a bad habit of giving everyone the
benefit of the doubt. She has a soft heart and despite her smarts, acts
like she has a head to match. Especially now, when she's hurting. Not
that Alice is one to talk about bad choices, but she's never been and
never expects to be so lost she'd go looking to the undead for sympathy.
There’s a damn sight too much bleeding going on in their little
group these days. Buffy isn't exactly on her top form either. Tall,
dark, and undead really hurt her when he ran off back to L.A. Buffy
doesn't talk about it, and she doesn't walk around all fragile and slightly
moist, but the shadows under her eyes keep getting deeper, and she seems
thinner and harder every time Alice sees her. It hurts her to see Xander
miserable watching two women he loves trapped in hell and nothing he
can do to help. Alice wants to help, but she's a stranger, an outsider,
they weren't open to her.
The vampire is young and stupid. Didn't even know she was there until
she landed on its back and knocked it flat. It screamed uselessly into
the dirt as she pinned it down with one paw, sank her killing teeth
into its neck and tore the head free from the body. She jumped back
from the explosion of dust, but some still got up her nose. Feh. She
stands there trying to drool the taste out of her mouth, consoling herself
with the satisfaction of knowing that her territory has been reaffirmed.
She is turning to go, hoping maybe she can still pick up the buck's
trail, when the wind shifts again, bringing more bad news: another vampire,
vampires in fact. Damn, maybe she should put up signs. Mixed in is a
familiar scent...human…Buffy. Curious, she heads into the wind,
following the scent downhill, outside her usual circuit, to one of Sunnydale's
numerous cemeteries, this one old and neglected. Unsurprised to hear
the sounds of conflict as she slips through the overgrown grass and
crowded tombstones. She stops at the edge of a small clearing in the
shadow of a large monument and watched.
The Slayer stands facing her opponent, waiting for him to make the
next move and she looks happier than Alice has seen her look in the
past couple of weeks. She's definitely been on the job. There are three
piles of dust on the ground and from the battered look of the sole survivor
he isn't much longer for the earth.
He charges, and Buffy lands a solid kick to its middle, then sweeps
his legs from under him. He sprawls ungracefully on the ground. Alice
waits for the stake to come down...surprised when Buffy doesn't follow
up. Instead, she lets him scramble to his feet. She beckons to him,
perfect teeth shining in a teasing smile. Alice feels the fur on the
back of her neck ruffle as the vamp snarls and takes the bait.
2nd verse, same as the first. Obvious now that Buffy's just having
a little fun. She dodges its blows and hits it, kicks it at will. She's
beautiful, impossibly graceful as she punishes the vampire, plays with
it, almost like dancing except that her partner is leaking stolen blood,
…and Alice suddenly smells burning, and feels the rhythmic beat
of bare feet on packed earth, and Buffy's shape wavers, darkens, and
she has too many arms and she's dancing. Alice flinches as a dark shadow
sweeps over her and she hears the harsh call of a raven…
Alice is jerked back to the here-and-now as Buffy clips the vamp one
in the face that Alice feels in her bones. She slams the vampire into
a tombstone, and he slides to the ground and stares at the Slayer, jaw
noticeably misaligned. Starting to catch on now. Glances longingly towards
the sheltering dark, wanting to run, but knowing that the minute it
turns its back, it's dust.
Alice decides she doesn't need to watch any more of this as Buffy tires
of waiting and moves towards her victim. Very slowly and carefully eases
herself backwards, away from that place. Waiting until she's sure she's
well out of earshot before allowing herself to stretch out and run in
great bounds back up the slope until she's far away.
Halfway back home she flushes a jackrabbit and throws herself gratefully
into the short, exhilarating chase. When the rabbit tries to double
back past her she sticks out a paw and flips it into the air, it lands
hard, and she finishes it with one quick bite. She feeds, letting human
miseries be melted away by the sharp, simple pleasures of warm meat,
and sweet blood.
Afterwards she lies there for awhile grooming herself carefully until
she notices the sky beginning to turn from black to blue and hurries
back down the hill, over the wall, to change and slip quietly into the
Angel is killing the Xarvax demon, and it feels like he's been at it
for an hour, though really Cordelia knows it can't be more than a few
minutes. There are human bones in heaps scattered around the underground
lair, like the Paris catacombs she saw on the Discovery Channel, only
these have been splintered and gnawed clean, demon leftovers. So no
question this demon deserves to die, but it's screaming, and the sound
is inside her head and please won’t someone make it stop. It’s
no kind of threat now, all it's trying to do is get away but it can't
because almost the first thing Angel did was hamstring it, before he
really went to work with the ax, and all it can do now is crawl, and
bleed and scream…
Oh God. She really can't take this. Not supposed to be here anyway,
but the head of the Dengue protection racket turned out to be a Xarvax,
who wanted to meet them, and so they ended up here, where negotiation
rapidly deteriorated into mayhem. She wishes she had earplugs so she
didn't have to hear the dull thunk of ax slicing into flesh, grating
off bone but at least the screaming has stopped, it can barely whimper
"Don't look" Wesley says, and lets her hide her face in his
tweedy and unexpectedly substantial chest, which surprises her, cause,
well, it's Wesley. And he's scared as she is, she can hear his heart,
pounding in rapid terror. It must be that whole macho thing making him
face it. The only thing keeping her here is the soon to be ex-Xarvax's
underlings lurking in the sewers between here and out. They need Angel
to get out of here, but at the moment she's not sure how safe they really
are with him.
Something's really wrong with Angel it's been all downhill ever since
they got back from Sunnydale. Not the obvious. Not Angelus. He's still
way too broody to be psycho-boy; now, if he starts cracking jokes and
being charming...then she's definitely getting out the stakes and holy
water. No, this is something else. Almost for sure Buffy-related, and,
gosh, there's one name that hasn't come up once since they got back.
She really would like to slap little Miss Clairol...except that Buffy
would slap her back, and it's not like she has cosmetic surgery money
these days. But the bitch has hurt Angel bad this time, maybe beyond
The blood bill is getting out of hand, he swigs the stuff like some
old wino, waves of stink coming off him in the close confines of the
car on their way over here. Doesn't talk except when he absolutely has
to. And, Exhibit A, he's liking the violence a little too much. He's
never been this ugly before, or anyway, not where they could see.
Exhibit B, this morning, having him wake up all Grrrr had truly given
her the wiggins. Not the first time she's seen it, but not good having
it directed at her and his hand had been very cold on her arm. Never
mind the dirty little thrill she'd felt when he grabbed her... before
she saw his face anyway. The whole sex thing is also freaking her out.
He keeps looking at her, in that unmistakable way. Wishes it was her
imagination, but she's been pretty for a long time, she's got some expertise
here, and like the girl in the song, she knows when they want her.
And this is definitely of the bad. Even though she wants him too, kinda.
Well, OK, a lot if she's honest. How not? First time she saw him she
wanted him, strictly on the superficialities, Mr. Salty Goodness and
now that she knows him, Angel, so sweet and sad, fighting the powers
of evil, fighting so damn hard... And it would feel so good to press
up against that smooth pale chest and have his arms around her, and
kiss that mouth...Yeah, of course she wants him. A recent thing, maybe
triggered by seeing Xander so damned happy with someone else. Whatever,
it's really bad timing. And it's not gonna happen.
Not just because of the whole 'happiness' thing, though of course that's
a biggie; but also because he still loves Buffy. She's still Queen Cordy
dammit; her kingdom may be smaller and a bit tattered around the edges,
but she's not going to be anyone's consolation prize.
So lately, when she feels herself getting a little too, 'anxious'.
When she starts losing sight of the bottom line that Angel + Sex = Angelus.
She goes clubbing and finds herself Mr. Right for Tonight and works
out some of that tension. And the next morning goes in to work with
a big smile on her face and renewed confidence that she can keep it
real, and safe.
She jumps as the demon screeches again, but it's OK cause apparently
it means that Angel's finally hit something vital. One last rattling
sigh, and it's blessedly silent in the mausoleum.
"Angel," Wesley says. Cordelia lifts her head and turns to
He's really, ehwwh, covered with slime and chunks of she *really* doesn't
want to know. Still bumpy and he looks at them as if he doesn't know
them. Cordelia feels the air grow still and very cold as he stares,
yellow eyes intent.
"Angel," Wesley says, and Cordelia silently vows never to
call him Wussley again. "Are you done?"
Only slightly relieved when Angel morphs back and nods, letting the
ax fall from his hand.
"Yeah, let's go home."
Cordelia grits her teeth, gets back into character, and picks up her
line. Wrinkling her nose dramatically.
"Good. And you're definitely riding in the back."
Alice climbs carefully back into bed and Xander has to repress a telltale
flinch as her cold skin makes contact with his. She doesn't seem to
notice as she curls herself back into place in his arms as though she'd
never been gone. Her breath settles into an even pattern in a few moments
as she drops into sleep. She's tired after her run. Carefully, he adjusts
himself, his arms around her, takes a deep breath of her. She smells
clean, the rank smell of cat that has been building over the past few
days all gone. When she wakes up in the morning the slight tremor, the
distraction will be gone too, now that she's had her fix. He’s
pretty much used to the routine by now.
He's a little hurt that she feels the need to sneak out like this...but
on the other hand she may have a better idea of his limits than he does.
Does he really want to talk to her about hunting and killing, even if
it is only animals? Considering how long it took him to get over Bambi's
mom, probably not.
Not like there isn’t enough weirdness for him to deal with. He’d
asked her to be honest, and she had been. Wishing now, a little, that
he hadn't insisted.
The morning after the big battle (number whatever in a series). They'd
been lying together in the morning sun, still enmeshed after some incredible
makeup sex. He doesn’t remember exactly what he said, something
about it being strange that Angel would think she could have been around
in the ‘30s … but she took it as her cue for complete disclosure,
and she spilled. Everything. And there was a lot.
He's OK with the immortality, figures it comes with the minor deity
deal. In ten years, maybe 20, it will seem important, but right now
but it's all kinda theoretical. Though he's aware she hasn't yet told
him how old she is exactly. Old enough that she's embarrassed about
it. And he's not real sure he wants to know. It's just a number, right?
Also he's coming to suspect that the business about !kangate ensuring
health, etc. is true cause he's feeling really, really good. Hasn't
had a sniffle or a cough since Alice moved in. Went from apprentice
couch potato to doing heavy physical work all day on the construction
site, and never an ache or pain. He's got muscles now, and women no
longer look through him like they used to do. And, having no problem
whatsoever keeping his baby satisfied. It's good having his own personal
On the other hand, the shock of finding out that there are hundreds,
maybe thousands of Alice clones out in the world, identical mothers
and daughters in a line going back to that African stowaway -- is taking
a little more getting used to. Didn’t entirely believe it, until
she showed him the photo.
Just a typical family portrait, nothing fancy, a lot like the ones
the Harris family used to troop off to Sears once a year for. At the
center was a grey-haired distinguished gentleman who could have been
anywhere from 60 to 80 years old, his skin was noticeably lighter than
that of the three women smiling into the camera. Their clothes, their
hair differed radically, but the face was the same. Alice times 3.
Wondered irrelevantly, as he stared, what the photographer had thought.
"That's my father, my mother, my sister Jean, and this is me."
Pointing to the one in the middle, and he wants to believe he could
have picked her out without being told, but he's not quite that good
Yup, weirdness abounds.
And so what if there are other men (hopefully a long, long, ways from
here) lying in bed with women who look just like her. (And he’s
not gonna think of Deadboy with Alice’s twin. Nope. Not gonna.
Maintaining full denial here.) They might look like her, but they aren't
The only thing that really matters is this: Being here, with her. He
runs his hand over the curve of her back, wonderingly. Can’t imagine
not being able to touch her like this. Hopes to hell she won't mind
him getting wrinkly. That picture of her mom and dad gives him hope
though. He kisses the back of her neck, wraps his arms securely around
her, and gives himself up to sleep.
Wesley manages to get into his apartment and lock the door before his
knees give out. He slides to the scuffed carpet and sits with his back
against the flimsy door, and finally lets go. Shakes with the terror
he's been repressing all the way back through the sewers, with Angel
at their backs. The trip back in the car seemed to take hours, with
the stink of demon blood fouling the air and he doing his best to control
his fear, because he knows what fear does to vampires, and Angel is
not himself these days.
Thank God that Cordelia doesn't seem to have noticed the change. Her
obliviousness keeping her safe, so far. So he hasn't said anything to
her. Hoping she'll remain unaware.
Wesley doesn't know what's wrong with Angel, but the fact that he hasn't
confided in him, that he's trying to conceal the problem, is as frightening
as the signs that he's losing control. That the demon is taking over:
His increased irritability, and appetite, the gleeful joy he takes in
The way he watches Cordelia when he believes himself unobserved. The
hunger and need in his eyes.
But she's bound to notice soon. Wesley sees that Angel is losing the
battle, bit by bit, knows he won't able to hide it much longer. Tonight,
Wesley had felt death in the cold yellow gaze directed at them across
the Xarvax's dismembered corpse.
Cordelia making him feel like a man, a protector as she clung to him.
Dear God, what is he going to do?
He hears his father's voice, the demon's mocking mimicry fresh in his
mind "You? do something? What makes you think you can do anything?"
It's a fair question.
He actually considered appealing to the Council, but rejected the idea
as useless. They aren't likely to be willing to help, not before the
fact, and afterwards, it will be too late. Thought of asking Giles …but
he hates the idea of running to the older Watcher for help. And he's
not sure that Giles would help, especially if it comes down to killing
"Go ahead, Wesley, tell him why he’s a fool to trust you.
Tell him how you plan to kill him," the demon laughed. Angel had
seemed unshaken by the accusation. The demon laughed at Wesley's denial.
"Oh, no? He’s more afraid of you than he is of me."
And that was entirely too close to the truth, it set him off, and almost
got him killed. Angel saved him, again, no hint of hunger in his brown
eyes as he pressed his hand on the bloody wound.
He is very careful not to bleed around Angel these days.
What is he going to do?
Wesley smiles, humorlessly, knowing the answer. Only one thing, really
that he can do, and it may already be too late. If he's going to act
it will have to be soon. Because it's Angel he'll have to kill, not
Angelus. He has no illusions of his chances against the genuine article,
not the drug-induced delusion induced by Rebecca's little pills. If
Angelus returns all that will be left to hope for is that the end is
He has to kill Angel.
But he's not sure he can. Not even to save his own life. Not even to
Angel's in the shower for a long time, trying to get clean; the demon's
blood, and flesh are tenacious, clinging to his skin like glue, reeking
like a month-old corpse. He has to scrub almost to the point of pain
to get it off.
He knows he got a little carried away tonight, but it had felt so good
to lose himself in the red haze of destruction. The demon's screams
were sweet accompaniment to the rending and maiming...Until it was done
and he'd had to look at himself reflected in Wesley's, in Cordelia's,
eyes...a grinning, gory monster. And for a long moment all he'd wanted
was to shatter that reflection, drown it in red...
He swallows hard. He doesn't feel up to thinking about this. His head
hurts, and his gut is churning.
He turns off the water and threw on his robe, leaving wet footprints
on the carpet as he padded into the kitchen. He guzzled a chilled quart
of pig's blood standing in front of the refrigerator just to take the
edge off, before putting another into the microwave to heat. Not sure
why he bothers, warm or cold the taste is disgusting. But it keeps him
going, and that still matters, for now.
Waiting impatiently for the timer to finish its countdown, he realizes
that something is bothering him, that he can hear something under the
roar of the microwave. A familiar sound, soft and steady: a human heartbeat.
The microwave dings, and he takes the blood out, drinks it down. Tosses
the empty container into the sink.
Moving as quietly as he can, he creeps upstairs to see who's come to
visit. Hoping and fearing it's a burglar, an assassin, someone who might
offer violence, give him an excuse...
The dim glow of the CRT gently illuminates Cordelia's face where she
sits slumped in her chair. She must have come in to look up something,
and fallen asleep in front of the computer. He stands in the doorway,
transfixed by her heartbeat, the steady cadence calling to him. Her
menses are more than a week away, but he can smell the imminence of
blood concentrated at the junction of her thighs.
He's standing over her, his hands hovering over her with uncertain
intent when she stirs. He freezes, as she opens her eyes and sees him.
He's prepared for almost anything, for fear, or disgust or simple indifference.
Not prepared for her welcoming smile.
"Angel," desire for him in her eyes, seeping from her pores.
Then he's kissing her, and her mouth opens for him, her warm, wonderful
tongue exploring his mouth. She reaches up, trying to put her arms around
him, it's an awkward position and he lifts her up, carries her into
As he lies down with her under him, he feels the demon twitching eagerly
under his skin, scenting freedom. He hesitates.
"Angel," she says. Her eyes are dark with desire, focused
only on him.
He pushes up her top, brushes his fingers across her breasts, feeling
the nipples stiffen through the silk of her bra. Nibbles the underside
of her breasts and then traces the curves of her ribs with his tongue,
moving down her midline. He presses his open mouth over the tiny imperfection
of the scar that mars her belly thinking, love did this. Feeling her
heart fluttering under the skin, like a moth trapped in a lantern.
His hands feel huge, as he clumsily pulls down her jeans, tears away
the lacy nothingness of her panties. Presses his face there, and inhales
her essence, leans in harder to plunge his tongue inside her, to taste
her; warm and salty as the primordial ocean. Distracted by the sound
of her pulse pounding in her thigh, so close, it rings in his head and
summons the demon. She squirms as she feels the ridges pressing into
her mound, as the demon's long tongue probes deep inside her, searching
for the blood it knows is so near...
Angel forces the demon down and pulls away, she moans, reaches for
him. His cock is pressed painfully against his fly. This is not how
he wanted it, too fast, but he can't wait. She's watching as he frees
himself, nothing shy in her gaze. Helps him guide his hard white erection
into her. Cordelia, he groans, as she enfolds him wet and warm, as her
heartbeat reverberates through his body.
Slowly beginning to move, and he wants to make it last, but it has
been so long, and it feels so good and she moves around him and pulls
him down to kiss her breasts, her mouth. So much heat, like a furnace,
against his skin, surrounding him, melting him down. He moves in and
out of her, faster and faster despite his intentions, every thrust an
affirmation that he's exactly where he wants to be, with the one he
wants to be with. So hot. So good.
Struggling to keep control, even as he burns and melts away, and the
demon urging him to fuck her harder, grind her down, break her. The
hunger growing and the rhythm of her heart beating like a drum inside
his head. Suddenly afraid, but he's caught, can't stop himself as her
walls clench around him and he falls in burning ecstasy.
Burnt out, he lies spent, too weak to do anything. Helpless as the
demon frees itself with a roar and rips into her throat, and he can't
do anything to stop it. And the taste of her blood as it pours into
him, is the best thing he's ever known, it fills and completes him even
as he tries to stop. Feeling Cordelia's struggles weaken, feeling her
heartbeat slow and stutter and stop.
Angel, she says. And he feels her die around him.
Angel sits bolt upright in his bed.
It's morning. He can feel the sun roaring overhead, white-hot and hungry.
He's alone. But the taste of Cordelia's blood is still in his mouth.
He can hear Cordelia's voice, upstairs talking on the phone to one
of her friends. Discussing the relative merits of brands of shoes. And
the sound of her voice is the sweetest thing he's ever heard. The knowledge
that she's alive, unharmed.
Somehow he has to keep her that way.
He thinks about Russell Winters. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad
way to go. Quick, clean, and so simple. Just climb up to the roof and
let himself fall; let the light take him. Flaring like a comet and never
reaching the ground.
Xander wakes up early. It's Saturday, which means he doesn't have to
get up to go to work, not that he minds his new job. He likes working
construction, it feels, well, manly, and it pays a helluva lot better
than fast food. Still, on principle he does his best to ignore the goddamned
birds singing in the trees and the sunshine sleeting through the curtains,
but it's a lost cause.
On top of everything else he's got his usual morning boner. He looks
over at Alice longingly, but she's fast asleep and it'll take more than
a few birds to wake her. It would take more than an air-raid siren the
morning after one of her midnight runs. But he can't get back to sleep,
and when he hears the newspaper thunk into the front door he decides
to get up.
He went downstairs, brought the paper in, and left it lying on the
counter while he made breakfast. Didn't get around to looking at it
until after he'd finished a big bowl of Super Cocoa Puffs and was starting
on the toast.
"Instructor accused of improper relations with Sunnydale Students,"
and an old picture of Giles, looking grim and slightly guilty as he
turns away from the camera.
"Oh Shit," Xander said.
END part 6
Next: part 7, The Light at the