Faded Photographs

by Saber ShadowKitten








Part One





Los Angeles, 2000





"Angel, come look at this," Cordelia said.

"Look at what?" Angel asked, looking up from the caricature of Wesley he was doodling on a legal pad.

It was a quiet afternoon at the offices of Angel Investigations. The sun was shining behind the blinds, the secretary was complaining and the coffee was horrid. For once, there were no files to put in the filing cabinets, no weapons to be cleaned and no headache-inducing visions that signaled the start of another case.

Angel was bored out of his mind.

"This article in today's Times," Cordelia replied. "It all but screams demon handiwork."

The dark-haired vampire quickly stood, rounded her desk and looked over her shoulder at the computer screen. "You didn't have a vision, did you?"

"Would I not complain if I did?" she asked him blithely.

"True," Angel agreed, giving her a half-smile. He skimmed the information on the screen and had to stop himself from dancing a jig. "You're right, it does sound like a demon. Plug in some of the key words into that Demons, Demons, Demons site you found and see what you pull up."

"Got it," Cordelia said.

Angel set his doodles aside and walked over to the coat hooks. "Give Wesley a call and let him know what you find. I'll go see if Kate can give me the information not published so we can narrow the parameters even-"

The door to the office opened and Angel stopped speaking abruptly. He froze with his coat half-on and stared at the man standing cautiously in the doorway, not believing his eyes. Brown hair?

"Pardon me, guv, I was wonderin' if you could 'elp me? I seem to be a-a bit lost," a familiar British voice quietly said.

"Spike!"

Bright blue eyes shot up at Cordelia's exclamation, but the well-known features were etched in confusion and embarrassment. "P-Pardon?"

Two things hit Angel's senses simultaneously and both were coming from the person nervously standing just inside the doorway. An odd feeling rolled through his system at the sound of a second heartbeat and the unmistakable scent of fear. "Cordelia, call Sunnydale and ask them if Spike is there."

"Um, hello blind-boy, Spike's standing right in front of us," Cordelia said.

"Only if he found a Mohra demon," Angel said, not taking his eyes from the man. "Because this person is human."

Cordelia blinked several times in shock before she turned and hurried into the inner office. "I'll go call."

"You can come in," Angel said to the mortal who looked identical to Spike, save for the sable-colored hair and clothing.

In fact, when Angel took a second note of the man's clothes, the hairs on the back of his neck raised. The clothing the human was wearing looked to be circa the late nineteenth century.

"Th-thanks," the man stuttered, dropping his chin.

Angel felt as though a two-by-four had been slammed through his body when he realized he knew exactly who was in front of him. The way the man shyly ducked his head, the flush that stole over his chiseled face and the redness to the tops of his ears revealed more than a full background check.

The person standing in front of him was Spike...

"By the way, my name is Angel," Angel said.

"I'm Tanner," the sable-haired man said, raising his blue eyes for a moment before dropping them again. "Er, that is, William J. Tanner, the third."

... before Spike had been turned.



*****



London, 1872



It was his shyness that caught the dark-haired vampire's attention.

Angelus watched from the corner of the small dress shop as the young man blushed and stammered. His head was cast down and he refused to look at the shop girl standing on the opposite side of the counter. Angelus noticed his lean body was dressed in trousers and a jacket of good quality, indicating that he was a member of a middle class family. His sable-colored hair was longer than the current men's style and it was wavy almost to the point of curling.

Drusilla danced out of the fitting room in a blood-red frock, laughing lightly. "How about this one, my Angel?" she asked.

The vampiress' emergence from the fitting room caused the shop girl and the young man to look in their direction, and Angelus sucked in an unnecessary breath. Eyes as blue as the center of a flame met his and he felt as if he were being burned. High, sharp cheekbones slashed the young man's face, drawing Angelus' attention away from the slightly weak chin and directing it to the pale pink lips that were slightly parted as the mortal breathed.

A delectable flush crept up the young man's neck and face, turning the tips of his ears bright red. He dropped his eyes and Angelus felt as though a plug had been pulled. The vampire watched as the young man twisted the material of his jacket, pulling the edges closed, but not before Angelus caught sight of the effect eye-contact had made on him.

"Angel, my dress." Drusilla's voice held a pout. "You haven't told me that you like it."

"It's beautiful, Dru," Angelus said, not sparing a glance at her. He kept his eyes on the young man as the shop girl redrew the brunette's attention. "Just like you are."

Drusilla clucked her tongue and ran her hand up Angelus' arm as she headed back to the fitting room. "Someone's thinking naughty," she teased before disappearing again.

The young man accepted a package from the shop girl and glanced back over at Angelus before hurrying out the door of the dress shop. Angelus didn't hesitate in following, not caring that he was leaving Drusilla alone in the shop. He knew the vampiress would continue to try on frocks and eventually kill the shop girl before returning home with whatever dress she wanted to keep.

The area of London they were in wasn't as wretched as some of the other parts of the city. The streets were still dirty and the buildings a bit rundown, but the people walking from place to place were of a higher class. Uniformed police helped to keep the street vendors and thieves under control, and they kept the area somewhat clear of the homeless drunks that plagued the other areas.

Angelus was able to track the sable-haired mortal easily. The young man walked with his head down and his arms close to his sides, as if he were trying to make himself as unnoticeable as possible. His steps were quick and he hugged the walls of the buildings, keeping an obvious distance between himself and the others on the sidewalks.

A rather boisterous group of men suddenly exited one of the pubs in front of the young man and he froze as if terrified. Interesting, Angelus thought, as he stopped close enough to hear without being obtrusive.

"Oi, look who we got here," one of the men said. "It's the cock-sucker!"

"Bend over for anyone interestin' lately, shirtlifter?" a second inquired cruelly.

The young man backed up, holding the package in front of him like a shield. "Leave m-me alone, y-y-you wankers."

"Ooh, name-callin'," a third said. "The sod's grown some knackers."

The first guy grabbed the package from the young man's hands. "Wonder what the little arsebandit's got?"

"Oi, give it 'ere!" The young man tried to take it back, but two of the five men shoved him hard, sending him sprawling to the ground.

"What's in it, Jeffrey?" the third asked the first.

The man named Jeffrey tore open the brown wrapping then laughed loudly. "It's a bunch of ladies knickers!"

The other men roared in laughter as Jeffrey pulled women's undergarments out of the package and tossed them in the air like confetti. Sheer stockings and garters rained down on the obnoxious group, a few of the men catching the garments and teasing each other in falsetto voices.

"So this is what little Willy Cock-lover wears under his trousers," Jeffrey said. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Them's me sister's, you soddin' fuck!" The young man had scrambled back to his feet and was standing with his arms up, his hands clenched into fists. Angelus noticed from where he was still observing that the brunette's wrists were turned too much, putting the backs of his hands towards his opponents, rather than holding his fists in the proper fighting form.

"Look at this, the queerboy thinks 'e's gonna fight us," a fourth member of the group announced with a chortle.

"Well, let's give the poof what he wants," the second said. His companions stopped laughing and stared at him. "I meant a beatin', not our pricks up his hole."

"You'll do nothing of the sort!"

Angelus watched with interest as a young woman rushed up to the group. He noticed that she was holding her fists in the proper manner as she stepped in front of the young man he'd followed from the shop.

"You pillocks leave him alone before you have to deal with me!"

"And it's Anna to the rescue again!" Jeffrey mocked, dropping the opened package to the ground. "Come on, mates. Me mum taught me never to hit a lady -- an' we got two of 'em here!"

Laughing again, the group of men turned and headed in the opposite direction, tossing any undergarments they still held over their shoulders as they left.

"Are you alright, Tanner?" Anna asked as she stepped out of her fighting stance. She was equal in height and had the same coloring as the young man, but when she turned to face him, Angelus saw the resemblance ended there.

"Why did you do that, Anna?!" the young man, Tanner, exclaimed. "I could of handled 'em meself!"

"Like you 'handled' them before?" Anna countered with a lift of her dark brow.

"Sod off," Tanner said with a scowl.

"Ducks, you know your sister would have had an eppy if you went home bloodied again," Anna said, bending down to gather the scattered undergarments. "She wouldn't let you out of the flat for a fortnight last time you got in trouble with Jeffrey and his chums."

"Beth did nothing of the sort," Tanner protested, sticking the garments she gave him back into the ripped package.

"Right."

"She didn't!" Tanner glared at Anna. "I was watchin' Mellie after work so Beth could finish mending the bastard's clothing."

"It's not polite to call your father that, luv," Anna scolded.

"I'm twenty-four years old, I can call the bloody prick whatever I want," Tanner told her.

"Not while you're living under his roof still," Anna said.

"I could if I wanted to," Tanner grumbled.

"You're shyer than a church mouse, Tanner," Anna said, squatting down in front of the young man. "If I wasn't your best mate, you'd never of stepped foot out of your flat, let alone even think of telling your father off."

"I'm not shy," Tanner said. "I just don't like people."

"Huh-uh," Anna said. "You can't lie to me, William Jacob Tanner, I know you too well."

"Do not." Tanner scowled at her as he straightened, refilled package in his hands.

"Do so," Anna countered. "You're five-ten, have a thirty-three inch waist and are super-shy unless you get super-mad."

"Very impressive," Tanner mocked.

"You love chocolate-covered cherries and hate wearing knickers," Anna continued, tapping the package with her finger.

Tanner blushed. "Anna..."

"You hate your father, love your sister and Mellie, tolerate your employment and wish you could meet a handsome gent who'll sweep you off your size ten feet and love you forever," Anna said.

"Tell the whole bloody world, why don't you." Tanner ducked his chin and shifted from foot to foot in embarrassment.

"Well, at least I didn't announce that you're technically still untouched," Anna said with a wicked smile.

"I've had... relations," Tanner said, staring firmly at the ground.

"Yeah, but only with me," Anna said. "An' you never actually penetrated-"

"Oi, don't talk like that!" Tanner interrupted, his face flaming. "It's not fittin' for a lady!"

"Pet, I've not been a lady my whole life," Anna said. "Which is why you prolly wanted to shag me to begin with."

"Which, as you ever-so-nicely pointed out, I didn't really do," Tanner said wryly.

She threw her arm around his shoulder and they started walking away. "Don't worry, Tanner. Someday you'll find a bloke who'll give you a right good seein' to and, when you do, I'll buy you a pint and we'll celebrate you loosin' your purity."

"Anna, tell me again why I put up with you?"

Angelus didn't hear Anna's response as the two humans walked out of earshot. He watched until they disappeared around a corner, then stood where he was for several long minutes, thinking about what he'd seen and heard. There was something about the young man that intrigued him, and he hadn't been this intrigued for at least a year.

"Well, Mr. William Jacob Tanner, perhaps we'll meet again," Angelus said. His ominous chuckle drifted from the shadows as he disappeared into them. "Aye, and perhaps soon."







Part Two





Los Angeles, 2000



Tanner.

The name curled through Angel's entire body, snaked right past his defenses and into his heart before the last syllable rolled off the sable-haired man's lips. The demon that shared his body went still and silent, making it seem as though he wasn't even there.

Tanner fiddled with the hem of his jacket and looked at Angel through the fringes of his dark lashes. Longing filled the dark-haired vampire swiftly, his nostrils flaring as he inhaled sharply in reaction. He'd forgotten how the simplest of actions made him want to sweep Tanner up into his arms and cart the man to the nearest bed.

No, not him, not Angel -- Angelus.

It was Angelus's emotions Angel was feeling. It was Angelus's memories Angel was recalling. It was Angelus who was frozen in shock inside the body Angel shared with him.

To Angel, Tanner was only another human being... from the late nineteenth century.

That last thought managed to snap Angel out of his daze. He cleared his throat and gestured to the chairs in front of Cordelia's desk. "Please, um, Tanner, have a seat."

"That's all right, s-sir," Tanner said, his eyes firmly fixed on the floor. "If you'd just point me in the direction of Regent's Park, I'll be on me way."

"I'm afraid it's not going to be that simple," Angel said.

Tanner raised his head and met the vampire's eyes, a frown scrunching his dark brow. "Pardon?"

It was at that very moment, while Angel held Tanner's blue gaze, that Angel realized he didn't feel the current of electricity Angelus had felt long ago. In fact, Tanner wasn't even reacting in the same way he did when he'd first seen the dark-haired vampire in the dress shop. Yes, he was still shy, but, with a quick glance at Tanner's trousers, Angel could see no evidence of a physical reaction.

Interesting, Angel thought. He would have to puzzle out why that was at a later time. Right then, he had a mortal standing in his office who, for all intents and purposes, should be a cocky, bleached-blond, moronic vampire living in Sunnydale, California.

"Tanner, please, sit," Angel repeated.

Tanner lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug and walked over to the chairs. He sat as Angel moved to lean against Cordelia's desk, hands unconsciously curling around the edge of the surface. "What were you doing before you came in here?" Angel asked.

"Walking home for supper," Tanner replied, staring past Angel at the back of the computer on the desk. "I was walking along, mindin' me own business, when the pavement changed under me feet."

"Then what?" Angel prompted.

"I looked up and almost pissed me trousers," Tanner said, then blushed heavily and dropped his eyes to his lap. "Er, p-pardon me language, guv."

"That's okay, I've heard worse," Angel said, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice. "Just go on."

"Right. Um..." Tanner twisted the hem of his jacket in a nervous gesture. "I looked up and didn't recognize anything, so-so I came inside the first place with doors, which was here." He cleared his throat and shifted on his seat. "Er, I saw these... carriages, I think..."

"They're called cars," Angel supplied. "Carriages with motors."

Tanner looked up at him in surprise. "Those were motors? They didn't look like the one I saw in the papers."

"They're... advanced motors," Angel hedged. While he was certain that the man sitting in front of him really was the mortal Spike, he knew he'd better wait for confirmation from Sunnydale that the vampire was there before telling Tanner what had possibly befallen him.

Tanner tilted his head slightly to one side, studying Angel. "Do I know you?"

Angel started. "You recognize me?"

The tips of Tanner's ears turned bright red and he dropped his chin. "I could be mistaken," he mumbled.

"No," Angel said. "Tell me where you think you've seen me. Please."

"Wilson's dress shop, a-a few nights back," Tanner said. "Only you-you had longer 'air an' you were with a chi- er, l-lady, in a red frock."

He shifted in his seat again, pulling the edges of his jacked closed over his lap, but not before Angel caught glimpse of a telltale bulge beneath the tan-colored trousers. The mortal glanced up at him, then quickly away. "Never mind," Tanner said. "'Twasn't you."

"How can you be sure?" Angel asked.

The dark-haired vampire hadn't remember how red-faced Tanner could become when greatly embarrassed. The young mortal was as red as a stoplight, his blush going from his dark hair all the way down to disappear beneath the collar of his shirt.

"I-I-I just know," Tanner stammered.

He didn't feel it either, Angel thought with amazement. Tanner didn't feel that instant connection he'd had with Angelus all those years ago. The revelation was mind-boggling.

The phone rang once and Tanner jumped in his seat. Angel glanced towards his office and saw that Cordelia had gotten the phone. "Tanner, this is going to sound strange, but will you tell me what date and year it is?" the dark-haired vampire said.

"It's the, uh, Wednesday, the tw-twenty-fifth of May," Tanner answered. "In the year of-of our Lord Eighteen hundred and seventy-two."

"That night," Angel said quietly to himself, staring down at the top of the sable-haired man's head as the memories washed over him. It was on that very night that Angelus had properly met Tanner. It was on that very night that Angelus had started down the path that would forever change both the vampire and the mortal sitting in front of Angel.

It was on that very night that Angelus had started to fall in love.

*****

~London, Wednesday, 25 May, 1872
7:43 p.m~

Angelus smiled as politely as he could at the dark-haired woman standing in the doorway to the modest two-storey flat. "'Tis o' the utmost importance I speak with Mr. Tanner this night."

"If you don't mind me not standin' on ceremony, I reckon you and your..."

"Sister," Angelus supplied, laying his hand in the center of Drusilla's back. "Drusilla."

"Right, well, you and your sister can come in and wait," the blue-eyed thirty-year-old woman said, stepping back from the doorway.

"Thank you, Miss..."

"Missus Bradford," she corrected, as Angelus and Drusilla entered the house. "Beth Bradford."

"Aye, Mrs. Bradford," Angelus said. "Again, 'tis with many thanks."

Beth closed the door behind the two brunettes and shrugged. "It's your wait," she said. "Either you can do it here alone or you can follow me back to the kitchen and I'll make you a cuppa."

Angelus chuckled at her lack of propriety. "A cuppa sounds delightful, milady."

"Can we eat her?" Drusilla asked softly as she and Angelus followed Beth.

"No, Dru," Angelus replied quietly. "We're not here for that, remember?"

Drusilla gave him a wicked smile. "We're here to see Daddy's new pet."

"Aye," Angelus returned her smile, "that we are, my sweet."

Angelus had spent the past four nights learning everything he could about the sable-haired mortal from the dress shop. William Jacob Tanner, the third, was the only son of William Jacob Tanner, the second, a businessman of great respect and standing, and Elizabeth Tanner, who died while birthing a stillborn child. He was brother to Beth Bradford, whose husband had died from influenza three years prior; uncle to Beth's daughter, Melissa, or 'Mellie' for short; and he had a closest -- and possibly his only -- friend, Anna Edleton, who at one time lived next door to the Tanners.

The young man, an extremely shy twenty-four year old who went by the name of 'Tanner' so as not to be confused with his father, worked six days a week as a tailor at Crittendon's Tailor and Haberdasher. Angelus was able to find out that Tanner worked for not-too-bad of a wage from seven in the morning until six in the evening, doing the alterations and precise stitching in the backroom of the shop because he was too shy to wait on the customers. Mr. Crittendon had been finger-to-the-nose about the other reason why he had Tanner working only in the back.

It seemed that the bashful, handsome youth preferred the company of men to women.

That little tidbit of news worked quite to Angelus's favor. He'd already formulated an excellent plan, worked out to the very last detail, as was his way. He'd seduce the human -- whom he knew from listening that first night to be a tasty morsel of virgin flesh -- at the same time as he played off the young man's undoubtable insecurities about his sexuality. Then, after Angelus bedded the lad to his satisfaction, he'd publicly humiliate Tanner and, a week or so later, make it look like the sable-haired mortal committed suicide, thus shaming his family.

After that, of course, Angelus would let Drusilla gorge herself on the remaining Tanners of London. It was a wonderful plan. Even Dru was excited about it.

"I apologize about the mess, sir," Beth said as the three of them entered the homey kitchen. Trays of uncooked pastries littered the center table and counters, as did other baking supplies. It was curiously cool in the room, however, and there were no racks of just-baked pastries waiting to be sampled. "You caught me in the middle of making pastries for me father's luncheon guests tomorrow."

"'Tis all right, Mrs. Bradford," Angelus said. "'Tis gracious o' you t' allow us t' wait for your father at all. Besides..." He gave her a seductive smile as he ran his finger along the edge of a mixing bowl, then held the batter-covered digit up. "...this is the best part o' the pastry in my book."

Angelus sucked his finger into his mouth and watched as Beth's high cheekbones colored prettily before the brunette turned away. "If you say so, Mr. Angelus," she quickly said.

"What pretty pictures," Drusilla commented, standing beside a chalkboard easel in the corner of the kitchen. White chalk daisies covered the board, with tiny white field mice peering out between the stems like mischievous children. "Angel, what type of flowers are these?"

"Those are daisies," Beth answered for Angelus as she filled a kettle with water and set it on the stove. "My younger brother, Tanner, drew them for me daughter."

"I like daisies," Drusilla said. She gave Angel an imploring look. "May I have some?"

"We'll plant some when we get home, Drusilla," Angelus said to the vampiress. He turned his attention back to Beth. "Your brother does beautiful work, Mrs. Bradford. Is he here?"

"Yes, he's here," Beth replied, a scowl appearing on her face. "He went up top to check the flue forever ago so I could bake me pastries."

"Aye, well, mayhaps he fell down the chimney," Angelus said with a wink.

Beth laughed. "Perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time."

A door slammed and quick footsteps echoed on the hardwood floors in the room adjacent to the back of the kitchen. "Speak of the devil," Beth said with a smile.

"Beth, it's a good thing you didn't start your baking until I checked the flue," said a cheerful, male voice that grew louder as the man Angelus had really come to see entered the kitchen. "'Else you would have-"

Tanner stopped speaking and walking abruptly when his eyes met Angelus's across the room. The brunette's blackened hands were cupped one over the other in front of him, and his chiseled face was streaked with soot. His casual clothing was equally as dirty and there was a small rip in the collar of the shirt he was wearing.

Angelus had never seen anyone more handsome in his one hundred plus years.

The dark-haired vampire couldn't move or speak. He felt as though lightning had struck him and the electricity was still humming in his veins. The blue eyes that held his crackled with a fire that he wanted to be burned by. The distance between him and the other man seemed to shrink to nothing and, at the same time, they seemed to be a thousand miles apart.

"Tanner, you're all sooty," Beth scolded, yanking the two men out of their daze.

Tanner blushed three shades of red and dropped his chin, causing Angelus to stumble backwards a step as eye-contact was broken. The vampire swore silently and fluently, trying to stop himself from panting like a bitch in heat. He tugged on the hem of his coat for the first time in a century, hoping to cover the raging erection attempting to burst the seams of his trousers.

"Sorry, B-Beth," Tanner said. "I-I didn't know we 'ad company."

"Oi, me manners must've went the same way as Tanner's cleanliness," Beth said. "Tanner, this is Mr. Angelus and his sister, Miss Drusilla."

"Hello," Tanner mumbled, not moving or raising his chin.

Beth tisked. "That's not a proper way to greet a guest and you know it."

Angelus couldn't help but smile at Beth's refreshing bluntness. Most of the middle-class families he and Drusilla had feasted upon were so proper, he had wondered if they were born with sticks up their collective derrieres.

The color of the tops of Tanner's ears reminded Angelus of ripe strawberries as the young man crossed the kitchen, his eyes still firmly fixed on the floor. The vampire took the time to look the sable-haired mortal over from head-to-toe, and his erection swelled further when his gaze landed on an equally obvious bulge in the front of Tanner's soot-streaked trousers.

"It's, er, a-a pleasure to meet you, guv'ner," Tanner said quietly after he came to a stop in front of Angelus. He looked up under his lashes at the vampire. "Welcome to our home."

Angelus held out his hand for a handshake, wanting an excuse to touch the shy youth. Although, what he really wanted to do was throw Tanner onto the pastry-covered table, smother the human's body in pastry-jam and lick him clean. However, the vampire couldn't see that going over too well with Beth and it wasn't a part of his plan.

And it was a very good plan.

"'Tis also a pleasure, Tanner," Angelus said in a purposely seductive tone.

Tanner abruptly thrust his right hand forward towards Angelus's outstretched hand, then, just as suddenly, muttered under his breath, "Fuck."

Angelus stared down at Tanner's hand. A baby bird stared back up at him.

"Cheep, cheep."

"There's a bird in your hand," Angelus said with amusement. "Is it for me?"

The vampire watched unbelievingly as Tanner turned an even deeper shade of red, the blush going down past the torn collar of his shirt. "Um, s-sorry," the sable-haired young man stammered. "She was in the flue. I was going to show 'er to Mel- er, me niece."

Tanner switched the bird to his other hand as he extended his right hand properly. "Many apologies, sir."

Angelus smiled and clasped his hand firmly. "'Tis all... right...," the vampire trailed off as something squished between their palms.

"Oh bugger," Tanner muttered.

"My Angel has a little bird mess on his hand," Drusilla sang softly.

"Tanner, you daft boy, you're supposed to wipe your bloody hands off first!" Beth scolded, throwing a towel at him.

Tanner lifted his head briefly and gave Angelus a lopsided, sheepish smile. "Er... sorry?"

Angelus threw back his head and laughed as his insides tingled from the boy's smile.

Fuck the plan.

"Cheep, cheep."

*****

~Los Angeles, Thursday, May 25, 2000
3:31 p.m.~

Tanner scrambled to his feet as Cordelia came back into the room, speaking a mile a minute. "Well, Giles said Spike's still there, bitching that people keep disturbing his nappy time and trying to convince everyone he's still the mean and evil dork he once was, which we all know is a load of crap."

Angel wondered if there were classes on tact that he could enroll Cordelia in. "Um, Cordelia," he said, gesturing to Tanner, who was staring at the secretary in shock. "We have a guest."

Cordelia snorted. "Don't you mean a 'ghost'?"

"Tanner," Angel said with a sigh. "This is Cordelia, my secretary. Cordelia, Tanner. And yes, he is who you think he is."

Tanner put his hand out politely and Cordelia gave it a good shake. "Well, he definitely feels human," she commented. She grabbed his wrist with her other hand, positioning her fingers on the inside. "And he has a pulse that's racing." She looked at Tanner critically. "I hope you're eating right, because with a ticker that quick, look out, heart attack city."

"Cor, she's just like Anna," Tanner said in wonder.

Angel felt a growl erupt from the back of his throat and he clasped a hand over his mouth in surprise. Cordelia shot him a puzzled glance and Tanner looked at him with an equally confused expression. "Um, excuse me. I had a soda at, uh, lunch," Angel explained lamely.

"Right," Cordelia said. "Because you Do the Dew all the time."

"I do the what?" Angel said.

Cordelia ignored him and sat, her grip on Tanner pulling him down with her. He quickly took the seat across from her. "So, you're the human Spike. Tell me all about yourself."

"Er..."

"Cordelia, I didn't tell him about... his situation," Angel said.

"Why not? I heard what year he thinks it is." Cordelia leaned towards Tanner, not giving Angel time to answer, and said slowly, "Tanner, you're in the future. Few-cherrr. It's not 18- whatever-you-said. God, can you imagine if it was? Those clothes were so ugly and, yuck, no toilets."

Tanner looked up at Angel. "Is your bird always this..."

"Yes," Angel replied with a firm nod of his head. "Always."

"Hey, I'm not a bird!" Cordelia exclaimed. "Do you hear me going 'cheep cheep'?"

Angel's mouth dropped open at the brunette's chosen words. The demon inside of him started to stir again.

"Okay, listen to me, Tanner," Cordelia went on. "It's the year 2000. The big Y2K. The second millennium, yada, yada, ho-hum. Got it?"

"Right," Tanner said warily. "The year 2000." He pulled his hand back from Cordelia, stood and backed towards the door. "I'd, er, best be going. Long trek home and all."

"You're, like, a million miles and a couple hundred years away from home, buddy," Cordelia said. "I doubt you'll get very far."

"Cordelia, out," Angel said abruptly. "Now."

Cordelia huffed, stood and headed back into the other office. "Fine. I was just trying to break it to him that he's boldly gone where no man has gone before..."

Angel moved quickly and shut the door behind her. He turned and faced Tanner, who was still inching towards the main door. "Tanner, as much as it pains me to say this, Cordelia was right."

"Uh-huh." Tanner nodded in agreement, and Angel could tell it was out of fear. "She's was right. I believe 'er."

"It's the truth, although I wasn't going to break it to you quite like she did," Angel said. He spotted yesterday's newspaper in the recycle box, walked over and quickly grabbed it. "Here. This is yesterday's 'Times.' The date is printed across the top."

Tanner froze as Angel headed to him, his once red-in-embarrassment skin turning white with fear. Angel stopped moving immediately and held the paper out towards Tanner, extending his arm as far as possible. The sable-haired man stared at him for a very long time before he reached out a shaky hand to take it. Angel continued to keep silent as Tanner lowered his eyes to scan the header.

The newspaper hit the floor an instant before Tanner did.





Continued