by Elektra
The Way We Were 3

He thinks he's fooling me, feigning sleep. I know my childe far too well to fall for that. He's lying there lost in his memories. Memories of love, of anguish. You see I have been and always will be a two-sided creature, a vampiric Jeckyl and Hyde, if you will. There is the part of me that is capable of profound goodness. Then there's the other part. The darker side.

No, not the demon.

Life would be all too easy if that were true. You'd vanquish one and the other would take over. Wrong. That isn't how it works. That's a fairy tale, a fantasy. There is no happy ending. I am not an enchanted prince. I am a man, nothing more and nothing less. I have the fears, hopes, dreams and weaknesses of a man. I have the ability to love. I have the ability to destroy. The two sides of my personality are in constant struggle for domination, hence my obsession with control.

Since arriving in LA, I have come to realize that the gravest error I ever made was suppressing my dualistic nature. In my latest incarnation as Angelus, and no I am not idiotic enough to believe it will be my last, I suppressed every truthful, well-intentioned impulse within my being. As Angel, I attempted to eradicate every flaw, every trace of humanity from my soul. I was foolish. My greatest strength lies in both. One cannot exist without the other.

Not unlike myself and this childe of mine.

When I first met him, I craved his vulnerability. I wanted a toy, a plaything. I wanted something that was mine. The night in the pub when we first met, I knew I'd struck pay dirt the moment I saw him. Even from behind the oaken table where he sat, I could see the wiry strength in his muscles. He was slight, compact, so very different from me. He wore his hair clubbed at the back of his neck. Curly tendrils the color of mink framed his pale face. His cheeks were ever so slightly flushed from the ale he had been drinking.

As I sat at my table, I knew he was watching me. If I had to guess, I'd say that it was a first for him. The first time he ever recognized that desire within him. When I finally looked at him across the distance, his eyes burned into me. Even in that moment, my childe showed the signs of what he would become. Though he is hardly known for his patience, he has an amazing capacity for obsession. Perhaps because of his early life, he tends to hold on to things with a vengeance. He never forgets.

I think that's what I liked about him so much, that capacity for obsession. Some would say that it's a bit of the pot calling the kettle black and they'd be right. Of course, that's one of the major reasons Spike and I have gotten along so well for all these centuries.

You doubt that? Ahh, but it's true. We fight; yes. We torment one another; yes. However, we are two of the same kind. We always have been and we always will be.

What do I mean by this?

You see we each have lived, and always will, for our desires. We live on impulse, on passion. Spike lives for his because he was abandoned. He was forgotten, left to fend for himself. I came along and changed that. For the first time in his life, someone made him happy. Someone thought about his desires, his needs. Someone made him whole. So I turned him into a vampire, big deal. In the dark selfishness that was my life, I am proud that I did that one thing.

What about me?

Ahh, yes, that's the mystery, isn't it. What makes me tick? I am after all the foundation on which all of this has occurred. If not for me, he would be lying in cold English earth right now instead of our old bed. Strange how he's managed to hold onto that thing all these years. Anyway, it all comes back to me.

Egotistical? Self-centered?

Probably. Have you ever known me to be anything else?

This time, however, it's the truth. Without me, none of this would have ever happened. Before I was turned, my life was far from satisfying. All I ever wanted out of that life was recognition. I wanted acknowledgment. Unlike Spike, I came from a ‘happy' home. Oh yes, did I have a family. Two brothers and six sisters, thank you very much. I was the youngest. You'd have thought that my father would have been happy to have another son after so many daughters but he wasn't.

By the time I arrived, the old man had decided that he'd had enough with his children. He'd bought ponies and watched enough childish plays for one lifetime. He didn't want to see any more. So, I was relegated to my tutor. Luckily for me, I developed a passion for my education. Where my father wouldn't take me, my books would.

I remember the winter that my tutor brought me charcoal and some fine white paper. My sketches were crude at first, but he said that I showed definite promise. From that point onward, I spent my days reading, writing, and sketching. I think it was the latter that bothered my father so much.

He thought I was a lazy, useless excuse for a boy. I didn't earn my keep. How could I ever expect to live, just making a mess on paper? That's all it ever was, a mess. When my father started complaining, my mother joined in as well. After all, she was a fine Irish wife. She would never consider contradicting her husband.

The truth is, she was weak.

I despise weak women. They make me ill. Women should be strong; they should be empowered. Most of my life has been spent following women. I destroy the weak. I empower the strong. I am always testing them, pushing them to their limits, waiting to see if they break. Just ask Buffy. She's had some experience with that.

Anyway, after my family rejected my life's work, my passion, I moved along. I pretended to let it go and instead became something of a 'rake-about-town'. If there was a fight, I was in it. If there was a drop of ale to be had, I wouldn't miss it. A single lass with a loose skirt? I was on her. Not the best way to attract your family's attention, but it worked.

Strangely enough, the night I met Darla was the night I had chosen to tell my family I was leaving. I had decided to go across the ocean and see what new adventures I could uncover. My father was unforgiving. He felt I was abandoning the family. Once again, I wasn't doing my duty as a man of the household. I tried to explain but he wouldn't listen. I begged my mother. I asked her to talk to him, to make him understand. She turned her back to me. I was gone. In their eyes, I was dead.

The first thing I did after Darla turned me was to make them pay. Tears rolled down my father's cheeks as one by one I slaughtered each of his children. I was crude in those days. I hadn't had the time to develop the finesse that the name Angelus was later renowned for. I looked into each of my siblings' faces, pressed a kiss into their foreheads and twisted their necks violently. It was such an odd popping sound, sort of like when you break off a turkey drumstick.

After they were gone, I fed from my mother. She twitched and jerked in my grasp. I think the woman showed more strength in those few minutes than she had her entire life. I didn't take it all. In fact, I wanted her to live. I expected her to live. I wanted her to watch as the thing she based her life on was destroyed. She changed that. Stupid woman ran out into the street and was trampled by a horse.

Apparently she ran up to the pretty blond rider hoping for assistance and assistance she got. I told you I didn't like weak women. Darla shared my disdain. One look at my mother's pathetic face was enough. Darla smiled at her and then mother was gone.

Then there was one. Ahh yes, the proud patriarch. The man who had no time for simple things like his children. Oh how he cried as he sat there. I know most of those tears were for himself, but somehow, I hope some were for the others as well. Of course I'll never have the chance to know. The bastard went silently to his grave. He said nothing, gave not a hint of how he really felt.

I ate him, drained him dry, ripped out his liver and ate it. I gave Darla his heart. She kept it in a wooden box beside our bed for a couple of decades. That, of course, was long before I found Spike.

I cannot help but smile the moment he realizes that I'm here. Did I expect to go unnoticed? Did I want to surprise him? Not really. My childe knows me. He knew I would follow. This is part of an intricate dance that we've played for centuries. He retreats; I advance. He challenges; I punish.

He has always loved playing in the belly of the beast, pushing one side of me to get the other to react. He's the only person who has ever fully understood or appreciated the complexity of who I am, perhaps because he too is a mass of internal contradiction. Softness and strength.

I smile as his eyelids flicker open. Ahh, he's finally decided it's time to play.