Angel: "I'm the good guy. No, wait, I'm the bad guy."
Leaning against the wall, Angel realizes that some things never change.
It's unimportant that the wall he's leaning against is concrete block
instead of stone, or that the traffic on the nearby street is made up
of cars not carriages. In the end, this alley is as dank, dark and fouled
by piss and garbage as any other he has had acquaintance of in his 240-odd
years. He likes to think that *he* has changed, though he still hates
the waiting as much now as he ever did.
It's warm for January, even for Los Angeles. The winter storms are
at least a month late. The weatherman promised "a chance of showers"
and the sky has clouded over, but there's no actual rain yet. He hears
the scuttle of rats in the shadows and grimaces; the population has
exploded, encouraged by the unusual weather. He hates rats; he never
did get used to the taste. He folds his arms, settles himself a little
more comfortably, and lets his mind drift a little.
He admires the way Kate stands her ground when he comes at her. She's
an excellent shot, he feels the sting of the bullets, one, two, three,
four, good hits, all nicely centered in his chest. They're not enough,
not nearly enough to stop him. Good thing for both of them that she'd
never been trained as a Slayer or she'd have known to go for a headshot.
It's just like riding a bike: you never forget how. Grabs the gun arm
and forces it up, and takes hold of her, small blond woman with no Slayer
strength to save her as he jerks her forward into his embrace, feeling
her heart pound rabbit-fast as he sinks his teeth into Kate's neck.
The blood seems to leap into his mouth, making it hard to remember who
he is supposed to be right then as he holds her tight and drank her.
Paralyzed by the shock and pain, helpless, her eyes staring up at him
as his hands gripped her hard. Holding her, needing her…
The ache and loss when he had to let her go.
Someone laughed, a passerby on the lighted street and Angel shook off
his reverie and returns his attention to the tedium of here and now.
Still nothing. Maybe he should try somewhere else. He can hear the traffic
and the crowds of shoppers only a few blocks away on Melrose. It bugs
him a little. All those helpless humans blithely exposing themselves
to the perils of night. Don't they read the paper? Watch the news? "Massacre
in Bel-Air." "2 More Bodies Found." "LAPD reports
another victim of the Twin Killers has been found, details tonight on
News at Ten." Guess not. Of course, most of them are very young.
They don't believe that death has anything to do with them. He knows
that Liam must have felt that way once upon a time, but he's lost the
An insubstantial drizzle has started, just enough to liberate the stink
from the filthy asphalt. He checks his watch. 11 p.m. He hopes at least
that his people are inside, safe in bed. Out of harm's way. They've
got no business in this fight. This is war, no place for civilians.
They never understood that. Kate knows, she's a cop; she understands
the importance of protecting the innocent, the essential people from
the darkness that would destroy them.
He's sure in his heart that the hope of their safety was worth the
way they'd looked at him.
Cordelia, shocked and hurt in a way that tore a bleeding gash in his
own heart. There had been more than the pain of friendship betrayed
in her eyes, and he hadn't known.
Wesley - wounded, shoulders slumped, but under that almost relieved
that the sword had finally fallen. Because he'd always known, after
all, that anything he tried would fail. He'd been the second to leave
that night, right after Gunn.
Gunn. Angel had seen the disappointed betrayal in his eyes, when he
realized it wasn't a joke. He just left, disappeared, went back to his
other family. He's left no messages, hasn't come back. That bothers
Angel: that Gunn, of all of them didn't understand that he was doing
it for them, taking responsibility.
They hate him now, and that's just fine. For the best. Cordelia hasn't
left him a message for a week now, and Wesley hasn't been back since
he changed the locks.
He'd done what had to be done. Been the grown-up.
He sighs, and finds himself thinking about the last time he'd seen
Hustled out of the lawyers' offices by a mob of nervous security guards,
and handed over to the cops. Cuffed and shoved into the back of the
patrol car. Most of his attention taken up by fighting the urge to rip
off the cuffs and introduce the cop's head to the car's roof, when he'd
been distracted by a familiar scent. He turned in surprise to see Kate.
"Oh, great," he snapped. Regretting it instantly. She simply
looked at him with her pale eyes in her too-pale face. Her hair gleaming
in the light, the fatal hue. Her expression isn't exactly friendly,
more neutral, and that is far more than he'd expected, so much more
than he deserved and the shock makes him splutter out some stupidity.
She still doesn't get angry.
"Two people were just murdered in a clothing store at Fifth and
Hill. Preliminary reports say that two women were spotted leaving the
scene. One of them matches the description of your pal Darla. - They're
not done, are they?"
He thinks that she's looking at him the way he remembered her doing
once upon a time, before it all fell apart: as though he were a person
and not an *evil*, evil thing.
"No." She flinches a little at the confirmation of her fears.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I don't think I can stop them. Maybe you can." And
he is lost. Ah Katie: strong, and honest, and true. Willing to deal
with the Devil if that's what it took to save the innocent. She'd searched
his eyes and if he only knew what it was she was looking for, he'd have
given it to her. He'd felt cheated when she turned away and ordered
the driver to pull over. She'd unlocked his cuffs. He'd looked at her
for a long moment, then reluctantly got out. Stood there watching the
car until it was out of sight, but she never turned her head.
He's done his best, his very best to live up to her expectations. He's
searched for Darla and Dru every night, but he's come up empty. He can
feel them, he knows they're still here, still in his city, but apparently
Darla's in no hurry for her goodbye kiss. They're hiding from him, but
he will find them, in time. He will fulfil his charge by killing them
both again. Prove himself to Kate.
The LAPD are having no luck either. They circulate the duo's descriptions
and clear away the corpses. The "Twin Killers" designation
was the invention of a local newsmen. He gets to talk to Kate almost
daily on the phone. She treats him with strict professionalism. It's
all so civilized, just as if he'd never had his teeth in her neck, her
blood in his mouth, as though he didn't still have a few Kate corpuscles
wandering through his body.
Just as if he didn't spend hours mooning over her picture.
Kate doesn't know that he's fired his staff. She believes that he knows
nothing about the massacre at the Manners' house, and he's been careful
not to disillusion her. He'd asked her if Lindsay had been there, and
managed to cover his surprise when she said no, "he skipped the
party, lucky guy." So he guesses he knows who Darla's new fuck-toy
is. And in his idle moments, inquiring minds want to know: how long
McDonald will last, breathing or otherwise; does Darla still like to
share with Dru; and whether Lindsay regrets any of his choices now.
Wolfram and Hart seems to have recovered remarkably quickly from the
blow of losing so many lawyers. McDonald has been promoted. Angel tried
tailing him, hoping he might lead him to the girls, but the new Partner's
comings and goings are better shielded than the President's. No joy
The sounds of a scuffle nearby jerks him back fully into the here and
now. Finally, he thinks and follows the sounds deeper into the dark
maze of alleys, to the back of a restaurant where two humans are struggling
with a third on the dirty ground. Angel swoops in and grabs the bigger
attacker and tosses him away into a heap of empty boxes. The second
man stares up at him as he hauls him up by his grimy denim jacket and
slams him headfirst into the wall. The man groans and goes limp.
The woman they'd been trying to put down gapes up at him. She's worn-out,
crackhead thin, her no-color hair hanging in greasy strands over her
face. A long scratch across her exposed chest seeps red.
"Go," he tells her. She's smarter than she looks; she scrambles
to her feet and goes.
The one he'd tossed away is back on his feet, and he has a knife that
he weaves back and forth, indecisively. There's more fear than aggression
on his narrow face. "You too," Angel says letting his true
face show. The wannabe rapist does a quick recalculation of the odds
and then he's gone as well.
"Alone at last," Angel tells the unconscious man. He lifts
him and holds him against the wall with one hand, rips open his collar
with the other, and leans in. This one hasn't had a bath for awhile,
but the stink of unwashed flesh is swamped by the delicious aroma of
blood. Fresh, warm, human, blood.
No need to be delicate with this one. Just open wide and take a big
bite, teeth slicing through the grubby skin to the treasure underneath.
Angels grunts as the blood fills his mouth and pours down his throat.
Really hits the spot: salty with adrenaline, laced with alcohol and
the merest soupcon of cocaine, it washes away all his weariness.
And hasn't he earned it? He busts his ass for the PTB, risks his existence
night after night and he's sick of doing it on butcher's blood and expired
plasma. He needs this, deserves it. And it's not like he's preying on
the innocent. He wouldn't do that, will never need to do that here in
the big city. There are more than enough little sharks for the big shark
to feed on.
He drinks till he's feeling comfortably full, then pulls his fangs
out, and lets his victim drop bonelessly to the ground. He looks down
at him dispassionately; the man's heartbeat is steady, and he'll wake
up an hour or four from now feeling like shit, but he won't die of this.
Maybe he'll rethink the whole life of crime thing. Angel wipes his mouth
and his hands with a handkerchief, and drops it onto the man's chest.
It's starting to rain in earnest now, big fat raindrops splatting down
on the ground, the unaware man. Tapping on his shoulders as he heads
back toward the light.
Next stop, Wolfram and Hart. Angel parks a few blocks away, out of
sight of their external surveillance cameras, slipped in through the
parking garage and took the elevator. He'd found Dru's 'tag' when he
went back to search the greenhouse where Darla had been reborn; a handy
little amulet that keeps the seer-demons from setting off the alarm
when a vampire enters the premises.
Lindsay has a nice new office. Two floors up from his old one with
a stunning view of LA's sparkly lights. A huge desk commands a sea of
gray carpet. He's shocked but not surprised to see a picture of Darla
next to the phone. Evidence that the late unlamented Holland Manners
had been even further out of the loop than he'd thought. It's not out
of the realm of possibility that the "Special Projects" group
had always been slated for sacrifice. He picks up the photo and studies
it, for clues. He thinks it's probably undead Darla: the skin seems
a little too perfect, and the eyes are a bit too bright for humanity,
but he can't be sure.
He puts it down gently and gets down to searching the desk, the file
cabinets. He doesn't bother trying the computer, everything the lawyers
do digitally is securely guarded by password and spells. Comes up with
nothing. Feeling frustrated, he went over to the window and stood staring
out at the spectacular view, unmarred by his reflection. He knows there
must be a safe around here somewhere.
He hears a soft click, and in the window watches as a demon steps out
of the wall. Angel doesn't recognize the species. It's toweringly bipedal,
big vaguely horselike head, lots of teeth, with dangerous looking spikes
all over its slimy whip-thin body there are no weapons in its great
big clawed hands. Considering its size it's remarkably silent as it
sneaks up behind him.
It freezes when Angel turns around and smiles. "Hey, I was wondering
when you'd get here." Brief look of uncertainty in the yellow goat
eyes, then it attacks.
Angel lets it come, still smiling, moving at the last instant to sidestep
the reaching claws and take hold of its elbow, wrenching hard, using
the demon's own momentum to send it flying across the room. It lands
in a confusion of limbs, but it's up on its feet in an instant. His
hands are tingling, the damned slime must be corrosive. He wipes them
clean on his jacket, glad that he no longer has to answer to Cordelia
for his clothing bill and picks up a big Ficus, fancy Mesoamerican pot
and all, lifts it over his head and slams it into the demon's head when
it rushes him again. The pot cracks and dirt showers onto the carpet
as it goes down again. Angel feels a sharp pain and realizes that he's
been slashed across the chest. Fuck. It hurts, and he liked this shirt.
He snaps off the stem of the plant and drives the makeshift spear into
the demon's chest. It takes several tries before he hits something essential
and the demon goes limp.
He leaves its head on top of Lindsay's desk, oozing ruinously over
the expensive wood. Takes Darla's picture, and tosses a chair through
the wall of glass for good measure. Alarms start to blare as he leaves
via the secret passage, which leads to the basement. There are a couple
of guards waiting at the exit, but they weren't expecting him, they're
no problem at all.
He emerges into the night again. The rain's stopped. The sky is beginning
to clear. He grins up at the stars gleaming high above the office towers.
Dru's probably out there somewhere, talking to them. He remembers Darla's
pained tolerance of her babbling. He's feeling pretty good despite his
wounds. He'd enjoyed that, fighting, killing: it's what he's best at,
why the PTB chose him to be the Warrior, the dark killer for the powers
of light. As he jogs the couple of blocks back to where he left his
car it occurs to him that the demon had been playing for keeps. Apparently,
Wolfram and Hart no longer want him dark, dead will do. Whatever.
He jumps into the car and starts the engine. He wonders how Darla feels
about wasting so many weeks of her second chance crawling into his bed
at Wolfram and Hart's behest, wriggling and whispering obscenities into
his ear, jerking him off in his sleep. Does vampire Darla think it's
funny? One thing for certain, he's sure she wishes she'd been a little
more persuasive. Having Dru as a sire is no walk in the park, and he's
not around this time to play nursemaid.
Maybe Spike could give her some pointers? He's sure he'll be pleased
to hear that his grandsire's back in action. Angel smiles at the thought
as he pulls away from the curb. Like hell, Spike never liked Darla and
vice versa. The only person Spike liked less than Darla was the Master,
it was one of the few things he and Angelus agreed on. If he's smart,
he'll stay far away from LA. Angel has no serious objection to killing
him, chip or no chip.
He doesn't like Spike being in Sunnydale. Doesn't trust the posing
little monster, much less the U.S. govt. issue tech currently holding
him in check. He's expressed his opinion to Buffy and been told, very
clearly, to mind his own business. So he has. Trusting The Slayer to
take care of the situation if the necessity arises.
He seems to have a thing for angry women. Small, angry, blond women.
The quiet-for-LA streets don't require much of his attention, so he
gets back to his hobby, obsessing about her... Ah Kate. Her blond hair
gleams like metal wire but felt soft and smooth against his face.
Katie, Katie, Kate. He knows he should give it up, but he's never been
very good at that. Now if you want someone to obsess and brood, well
then, he's your man.
Does she think of him?
He knows where she lives. Has gone there, a few times, maybe more than
a few times, and stood looking at her apartment. Wishing he could simply
walk up and knock on her door, and that this time, she'll invite him
The memory of her blood haunts him like lost opportunities. It had
made it that much harder to resist Darla's plea. Darla would either
laugh or cry if she knew just how close he'd been, that night in the
alley watching her offer her neck to that idiot vamp. Angel wishes at
least that he'd allowed himself more than those few stray drops that
night under the water tanks.
As he turns onto his street, a sudden image of Kate in Darla's place
shines brightly in his mind's eye. Kate suspended in his grip, her back
molded into the pillar as his fangs scrape down the side of her neck.
The taste of fear in her blood, not desire. Her voice begging him to
stop, not egging him on...
He drank her, but Kate is alive and well. With his mark on her. There
are two women now alive in the world that he's tasted. Kate's blood
is the most recent, but it's frighteningly easy to close his eyes and
summon up the essence of Buffy's life in his mouth.
Both alive, and the thought tempts him.
He could make it so good for her...
Darla had been a good and thorough tutor, he knows how to slip his
teeth in slyly, how to slowly draw the blood out, how to make the magic
that transforms it from pain to sweet ecstasy so that they die smiling
and can be propped neatly in their pew or carriage seat and left there,
no-one the wiser.
Home again, home again. The King returned to his huge, dark and empty
castle,. He parks in back and takes the freight elevator directly to
the 3rd floor. Avoiding the darkened lobby which is thick with the memories
of departed friends. He does miss them, but he knows he did the right
thing, making them go. They held him back, kept him from doing what
needed to be done. Forced him to spend energy pretending that he's something
he isn't, slowed and hampered him with their concern.
As soon as the elevator doors open he smells it. Blood.
He runs down the hallway to his room, and kicks the door open. Sees
the limp figure on the bed, crumpled and pale against the sheets.
The room blurs around him. She's unconscious, lying on her side, her
hands cuffed behind her. He bends over her anxiously, his nostrils flaring
at the smell that rises from her bruised skin: Darla and Dru are all
over her, mixed with the fear and anger and blood. Deep relief floods
through him when he finds her heartbeat is steady and strong.
Only then does the rest of it penetrate. Her shirt's been torn to show
her breasts and the keys tucked into the valley between them. Her jeans
unzipped and tugged down just enough to reveal the lacy top of her white
underwear. The final touch is the red satin bow tied prettily around
her throat, stained by the slow ooze of blood from the wound underneath.
Like all the other little presents left in so many beds by his doting
Sire. He remembers the pleading eyes, the useless struggles, the sweet
blood singing with panic as he unwrapped each pretty gift and ran cold
hands over warm, soft, helpless flesh. Remembers Darla's approving smile
as she sat watching her greedy boy play with his treat before he gobbled
them up, every last drop. But not this one. Not this time. There's a
twinge of guilt, because he can guess how Darla found her. The present
is meant for Angelus, not for him, but same difference in her mind.
She's wrong, he hopes.
She smells so good.
He wants so badly to undo the ribbon and paint a line down the smooth
skin of her neck with the tip of his tongue to the sweet hollow of her
throat. Wants to cover her lips with his, to invade her with his tongue
and map every soft ridge of her mouth the smooth surfaces of her blunt
human teeth. He wants to press himself along the length of her body
so that she can feel him, hard, aching for her. Wants to slide his hand
between her legs, to part her hidden lips and push inside. Wants to
feel her wet, warm cunt clench around his fingers, as he captures her
waking gasp in the cold cavern of his mouth.
The demon whispers to him, to take the gift, begging him to open her
up and salve his wounds, his pain, his doubt in her blood and emerge
reborn, tempered, a dark arrow aimed at evil's heart.
Kate stirs. She groans, and tries to move her arms, and her half-conscious
struggling nearly undoes all of his good intentions. He steps back as
she opens her eyes and sees him, her expression swiftly shifting from
surprise to wariness, but not panic, not yet.
"Angel?" She pulls against the cuffs. "What's going
on?" Eyes challenging him. Demanding that he live up to her trust.
END part 1