"Buffy, watch out!!"
The Slayer barely had time to turn around, catch the stake thrown at her and stake the vampire that had attacked her before the shock of actually hearing Puppy's voice flooded her. For the past two weeks the vampire had been all too quiet, only talking when someone asked him something directly.
And he had never participated actively in the vampire slaying unless Xander was with them.
But Xander was there, he had run to follow another vampire, just stopping to yell at Puppy to make sure that the vampire would stay with Buffy.
The curious thing was that Puppy _had_ obeyed. Two weeks ago, he would have followed Xander nevertheless... and now he was obeying. Buffy smiled.
Maybe that meant that Puppy was finally shaking off Xander's control. That the vampire had stayed _not_ because of Xander's order, but to protect _her_.
The Slayer smile grew. Maybe she could have stereo-smoochies after all. If _her_ Angel was going to leave her... Well, Puppy could be a perfect replacement.
* * *
Angelus followed the Slayer in silence, as they went to meet the rest of the group, feeling terribly with himself. He was a vampire, a demon, considered by many as the most cruel and evil of his kind... and now he was helping the Slayer to do her work. He was staking other vampires, protecting humans, stopping evil.
Just in hopes of earning Xander's trust again.
He did not had any physical scar from his ill-fated attempt on turning his master into a Vampire. All burns, all bruises, had healed. But his mind and heart were far beyond repair.
He had spend the whole day in the attic, waiting to die. But his master was not a fool. The attic was constructed in such a way that there was a small shadow to protect him all day, as he trembled in fear. When night fell, Xander had returned, with a cross in one hand and a bag of blood in the other.
Angelus had begged for food that night.
As the two weeks passed, Xander had allowed him to return to the bedroom, but trust was lost. Angelus could not touch his master, or climb to his bed.
Xander hadn't touched him in anger to make that clear, the teen had simply ignored him. A punishment so cruel that Angelus was not sure that he would stand it for much longer. Willow still feared him, and that was just a small comfort... the Witch was very careful around him now, never staying near him, or alone in the same room as he... But Angelus wasn't in the mood to revel on that. After all, it was one of the reasons why Xander didn't trust him anymore.
Xander blood's scent filled his nostrils and Angelus immediately focused on his master's bleeding form. The young mortal had a nasty wound on his shoulder, and it was bleeding. It wasn't a vampire's bite, more like a knife wound, and Angelus had to fight the impulse of kneeling down and lick the red liquid, of offering his master his absolute loyalty with that caress.
Instead, he was with pain filled eyes as no one took care of those wound, while Buffy and Willow congratulated each other for their victory.
Oh, how he hated them.
But he couldn't make them pay.
* * *
Xander barely looked at Puppy, before returning to mend his wound. Cordelia had helped him to clean it as soon as they got to the library, but Xander had asked her to leave. It was bad enough having Puppy's eyes fixed on him, he didn't want Wesley's jealous stares too.
He knew that Puppy had repented from his stupid cruel vampire act two weeks ago. He also knew that it was probably not Puppy's fault... After all, who knew how much Puppy had suffered at his doppelganger's hands? Part of him wanted to forgive the vampire, to hug him... to kiss him and pray that that would be enough to make Angel forget his suffering. The rest of him knew how impossible that dream was.
Because even if he could admit to himself that he loved and lusted Angel, he couldn't risk to make the vampire happy.
It was bad enough that sometimes Angel would act as if Xander was his vampire master... having Angelus around... Xander shook that thought out of his mind.
If _this_ Angel turned Angelus, there would be no mind games against Buffy... Xander would be dead in seconds, just as a revenge from what his other self did. It wasn't that Xander was afraid of dying. Dying was ok, as long as it was the definitive end. But if Angel/Puppy had tried to turn him into a vampire, Angelus/Puppy could very well do so... And Xander didn't want to become a cruel undead demon.
His mind didn't want to dwell on the fact that, by setting the rules and making Angel stick to them, he could very easily become a crueler _live_ demon.
* * *
It was a quiet time in the library, as the group researched for new information about the Mayor's plans. Willow had been kidnapped and before they managed to rescue her, she had ripped off some pages from the books of Ascension. That information could be very important. But Puppy was sure that they were _not_ worth their cost.
Because in order to save Willow, they had handed the Mayor the only thing missing for his ascension, a box full of evil demon spiders. They couldn't follow the ritual to destroy the box, since Oz had promptly broken all the items necessary to make clear that they _had_ to save Willow _before_ they thought on saving the world.
If one of the Mayor's spiders hurt Xander, Puppy would break every single bone in the werewolf body, before killing him. If the Mayor did anything to hurt Xander, Puppy would kill Willow so cruelly that her screams would be heard long after she died.
He had been so angry at hearing the Mayor mock Angel, his other self, so angry at knowing that when the Mayor changed every mortal in the town could die... and that those mortals were Xander's friends, that he hadn't stopped himself from punching Oz right there, sending him flying to the other side of the room, as soon as the Mayor left.
Of course, everyone had looked at him as if he had gone crazy. Except Willow. Her eyes had been full of horror and disgust against him. Xander had just shook his head and left the room without turning back. Once more, Puppy had managed to make his master hate him. He was dwelling on that when a shushed giggle made him turn around, only to see Willow and Oz kissing. The red head was smiling, her eyes were no longer filled with fear or uncertainty.
She looked almost like her vampire doppelganger, Puppy's most hated enemy.
The kiss deepened as it appeared that both teenagers had forgotten that Puppy was there. It sickened him, it made him want to die. It brought back too many memories.
Puppy hated to see people kissing. Once, not long before he became himself again, he had asked Angel why he kissed Buffy, but he hadn't understood his other's self answer. Maybe because he had never been kissed with love, and seeing other people kissing...
He was so enthralled on that terrible memory, probably the worst he had of his years imprisoned, that he didn't saw when Buffy walked towards him, with a predative smile in her lips.
Buffy had been watching as Puppy tried not to see Willow and Oz kissing. She was amused to see the vampire's useless attempts, as he seemed unable to take off his eyes away from the couple. Of course, it was natural to see him so interested. After all, What kind of love had he know? He had never had someone who loved him, even if he was a vampire. Sad, wasn't it?
Since her Angel was again brooding, and she would probably not see him until next night, when they had to patrol together and maybe get their night picnic... well... what harm could be done by a little smooching? If Puppy was so love starved that just cuddling made him lost his soul, Buffy had enough stakes in her jacket.
After what Puppy did to Oz, she had a good excuse. She had the perfect excuse.
"What's wrong, Puppy?" She asked, trying to keep her tone as sweet and understanding as she could. "Don't feel excluded, please. We like you." She moved her hand to touch his cold cheek, only to feel him shake in what she choose to identify as desire. She simply didn't want to see the resigned fear that had dulled the vampire's eyes.
"No... not this..." he began saying, but she choose not to hear him. In his mind, the blonde hair turned black, the warmth of her body turned cold... he was no longer being cornered by the Slayer, but by one of the mindless vampires that usually accompanied Xander.
He had broken a rule, he was being punished.
Buffy was very intent on finding his lips, on marking him as hers, when Xander returned from the cafeteria, a couple of soda cans in his arms. >From the door, he could see Puppy's eyes very well, and he did not mistook what was reflected in them. He had seen it too many times while living under the same roof as the vampire.
Only that never so strong.
Never so much that when his eyes connected with Puppy's, the vampire closed his own in shameful acceptance.
"Buffy, stop." Xander managed to say, controlling his voice as his hands shook the cans. "You're scaring him."
The Slayer turned to see her friend, annoyed as she hadn't been able to claim her prize. "He seemed fine until you got here, Xander. You scare him."
Puppy didn't dare to turn completely to see his master, not when the situation was so terribly familiar, but he risked a quick glance. His master's eyes seemed masked with a dull color, there was no light inside. The vampire knew now what that meant.
Xander was controlling his temper. If he failed, Buffy might very well be in trouble. Which, from Puppy's point of view, was very good.
It also had made Willow and Oz stop their kissing, so Puppy relaxed a little. Maybe the punishment had ended. After all, he hadn't done such a bad thing.
"Buffy... you should stop treating Angel as if he were Deadboy." Xander smiled and took a step closer, only to put the cans on the table, near Willow and Oz. The red head seemed ready to say something, but she choose not to. She had seen Xander in those moods before, and experience told her that it was better to stay silent. "Not all soulless vampires come to Sunnydale just to be your toys."
Buffy paled a second, before walking away from Puppy, who was very grateful. Not only his master had stopped the punishment, he was also talking back to the bitch. But still... it was a little closer to the vampire he remembered, more than the human he had come to know. "You should talk... Weren't you the one who dated the girl you hated more, just to cheat her with your best friend?"
"I think that's enough, Buff." Oz quiet tone made everybody turn to see him. It was so rare that he spoke more than two or three words, that when he did, he always got all the attention. "We're all tired, we should be home before we kill each other and save the Mayor all the trouble."
"Yeah. You're right." Xander conceded, grabbed his back and left the room, not waiting for Puppy. This time he didn't want to be cruel, he didn't want to leave the vampire alone with Buffy... but he wasn't sure that Buffy's words were not true.
Maybe it was him who scared Puppy now.
So he didn't saw as the vampire hurried after him, at the shocked looks of Buffy, Willow and Oz.
* * *
The ride to Xander's house was very silent. None of them was up to small chat ever since the incident with Willow. But there was a big doubt in the teenager mind. Puppy had come to him again, but was it out of fear to what Xander might do to him or what Buffy could do to any vampire?
He needed some answers.
* * *
"Are you afraid of me?" Xander asked Puppy, when they reached the relative darkness of Xander's room.
"What?" The question took Puppy by surprise. He did fear his master anger, but he knew that Xander would never hurt him without reason. He didn't had anything to fear from Xander, as long as he remembered the rules. Even those with which he had problems like not killing his friends.
"I was thinking on what Buffy said... it occurred to me that you could be here only because you fear me...That maybe you would be happier if you stayed with Deadboy or somewhere else..."
"No!" Puppy's answer was vehement, sure. "I wasn't afraid of you. I know that you will only hurt me if I attack you again."
The teenager closed his eyes, considering Puppy's words. After what had happened, he really wanted to know more about Puppy's past, to see what he was dealing with.
Even if that meant that he had to face more unspeakable things that his double had done.
"What were you afraid of then?"
Puppy's eyes turned sad, as he tried to avoid his master's gaze. The answer was delivered in a trembling whisper. "I was afraid that you wanted me to... to make Buffy happy..."
Xander's stomach reveled with anger hearing this, but he forced himself to listen, to try and understand, as Puppy's voice grew somewhat more confident telling him his story.
* * *
Puppy watched in despair as some nameless vampire sucked Xander's cock, under the clear instructions of the young vampire. It wasn't usual that Xander did that with a male vampire, much less in front of Puppy... but Puppy was being punished.
He had helped some humans to escape. Gypsies who could find a way to stop the Master's plans. The humans hadn't gone far, Xander and Willow had found them fairly quickly, and killed them all. Except from a woman who had been saved by the White hats.
All the more reason to punish Puppy.
He knew he deserved it, he had played again with his master's trust, against his master's rules.
So after they had come back, Xander had grabbed one of his underlings and watched as the vampire raped Puppy, smiling as Puppy cried with pain.
Then, when the underling had finished with Puppy's ass, Xander had grabbed the weaker vampire, forcing him to his knees and fucking his mouth, while Puppy watched.
Closing his eyes would have been against the rules.
At least it was not Willow.
At least it was male.
At least it was not the Master.
When Xander finished, he walked towards Puppy, still half naked. The hopeful eyes of the vampire making the cruel teenager smile.
"You have to learn the rules," he said, holding Angel's cheek, but staying far enough so the souled vampire could not reach him. "Just prove your love for me, and the chains will go. You'll be able to get your deepest wish."
* * *
"What... what did he mean?" Xander asked, very sure that he didn't want to know, even when he had to know.
Puppy turned to see him, his eyes full of something that Xander didn't want to identify. Not now, not like this. "He never let me touch him." Puppy said, his voice full of regret. "And no matter what I did, he never said it was proof enough."
"Angel..." Suddenly, Xander didn't want to know anymore, he didn't want to hear about it, hear the words that threatened to come from the tortured vampire's mouth.
"The gypsy woman who had escaped came back during the day, when everyone was asleep. She went straight to my cage, trusting that I would help her as I had tried to the day before." Memories came uninvited to Angelus, who didn't care much for human lives but still ached for that single life... for all it had meant. "She unchained me, and asked me to show her where the Master had his lair. She wanted to stake him and all his followers... I lead her to your... to Xander's room. But when she came close to him, and discovered he was not the Master, she turned to see me, surprised. Her voice woke Xander, and when he saw me... I killed her. I broke her neck without thinking it twice, and then I kneeled in front of him."
"Angel..." Xander didn't know what to say. He had learned much more of the vampire life than what he wanted. He didn't really want to know that Angel was capable of killing for him without remorse.
"He smiled," Angelus said, still deep in the memory. A memory he now ached to share with his master. " and led me back to my cage, where he chained me again. But he was not angry. He told me never to go out without his permission, or the punishment would be terrible... And then... then he kissed me, biting my lips hard enough to draw blood, then letting me do the same. That was the only time he did that. He never let me touch him again... because I hadn't proved him yet that I belonged to him."
Xander was speechless after hearing that, and almost blindly, reached out to touch Puppy's face, to make him return to the present and forget the past. Only to find himself caught in the vampire's eyes.
Without thinking, mesmerized by the sadness and the loyalty reflected in Puppy's eyes, Xander leaned nearer, and pressed his lips against Puppy's, kissing the vampire tenderly as he had only done in dreams since admitting to himself that he loved him.
The kiss lasted an instant, but it seemed forever, as Xander explored Puppy's lips, Puppy's mouth, and the vampire startled began to do the same. Only a second, before Xander regained his senses and pulled back.
"Why?" Puppy asked, his voice full of shock.
"We cannot do this, Angel... you could loose your soul if..."
"It's too late for that," Angelus stated, neutrally. But before Xander could worry, he continued. "That night I discovered that I had already lost my soul... because it already belongs to you."
The mortal teenager was taken aback by this confession, and he stood, looking to the vampire with surprise. Then, he remembered his original question. "What is your deepest wish? The one that my vampire self promised you?"
Somewhat filled with courage after his master kiss, Puppy stood too, looking Xander straight in the eye. "Be yours" Then, shyly and slowly as he didn't want to do anything without Xander's consent, Puppy leaned forward, to capture a second kiss. Unlike the first one, this one was chaste, barely inquisitive. "Can I be yours?"
Xander closed his eyes, his mind debating with his heart. Puppy's words about his soul seemed double edged. If he really loved Xander -The evil vampire Xander or himself, it really didn't seem to matter- then the smallest touch, the briefest caress would have made him truly happy.
That meant Angelus.
But if this Angel was Angelus... and he hadn't tried to kill Xander... then what did that meant? He couldn't give in... he wanted nothing more than give in. But he had to be sure. As terrible as it was, because it only showed how closely related were the two Xanders, he had to be sure. There was only one way to do that. "Then just prove it."
After saying that, he left the room, leaving Puppy alone. He needed time to think.
* * *
Angelus watched as his master left the room, and waited until he was alone to take his fingers to his cold lips. To touch the place where they had joined with the warmth of his master's life.
"Prove it" Both Xanders had said, both promising the same prize. When he was with the vampire Xander, Angelus had been a coward crippled by fear and guilt. He hadn't been able to prove that Xander was the owner of his life, of his soul and his being.
But now... now he was himself again. And if his master wanted a proof...
Then he would not rest until he had given him one.