The Clockwork Vampire


by Spirit


 





After he'd finished using the facilities, Xander had washed his face in the sink. This wasn't how he'd imagined the next few days would go. He'd come to LA thinking he might tease Angel with Riley, maybe hang out with Cordy a bit, go see a movie or two and generally not have to think about how crappy his life was at the moment. The Anya thing was starting to suck in a big way. She had Cordy's abruptness, but none of her perception. That he was getting regular sex with a pretty girl was a definite plus, and he did care about her, but it wasn't the passion he'd had with Cordelia, or the unrequited love he'd had for the Slayer. It wasn't even close to the longing he'd had for Willow. He couldn't define it, but he knew it wasn't as good as it could be. If it had been, he would have run after her when she left Sunnydale this time. But no, he'd come to LA and got involved in.........ugh.........he could hear Angel moaning.........oh yeah, my life's just getting better and better. And what about that boys and girls? Angel is having sex with Spike. Actually having sex and he's not losing his soul. How does that work exactly? Do they have to do some spell? 'Xander.........' Oh Shit! He called my name! '.........can join us if he wants.........' Argh! Xander leant forward over the sink and looked at his reflection in the mirror. Not too shabby was it? He knew he didn't have Angel's dark and handsome thing going on, or Spike's cocky English sexiness. He didn't have that, but didn't he have.........something? Angel screamed in what Xander understood was a pleasurable fashion and he winced. Not because there were two guys next door having sex, although.........yeah, okay that did disturb him. But because that was Buffy's ex in there having sex, with a guy. A soulless bad guy who frequently tried to kill them all, Angel included. The world was screwy in LA too! He bent down to the cupboard under the sink to find a towel to dry himself on. There was one at the side of the basin, but it had some stains on that Xander definitely recognised and had no intention of putting near his face. As he opened the cupboard, he cursed the lighting in this room and peered in. There did seem to be something in there, although not the normal collection of bathroom cleaners that he was used to. He touched on something soft and fluffy and tried to pull it out. Damn, it was stuck on something, so he yanked again and when it came out, he yelled. Lying on the floor, half out of a cupboard, was a corpse. His cry had been one of shock, as Xander had seen enough corpses in his lifetime to rival Quincy. He breathed out and ran over his mental check list of problems with dead guys. 'Hang on Pet, we're coming.' Well, except those dead guys. Well, except when they're having sex. 'That's not what I'm afraid of!' he yelled, 'Get in here!' Okay, so, if I bend down and examine the body what could happen. Oh yeah, first check, watch your neck, he could be a......... The corpse opened his eyes. Vampire. Okay, not good. Spike broke through the door and looked at Xander. 'Vampire,' said Xander, pointing to the body on the floor, 'Lying in here waiting to kill me. I told you!' Spike saw the fledge growl and attempt to sit up. He put his boot across the boy's chest and gestured to Angel. 'Fledge in here.' 'Got a stake?' Spike shook his head. Then he grinned and gestured to Angel. 'Throw me SID.' 'I can't,' said Angel, a shiver in his voice, 'I can't seem to.........my fingers feel numb.' Spike snorted and gestured to Xander. 'Go over to my coat and get me the axe, there's a good Pet.' Xander stared at the vampire on the floor, who was growling and trying to bite Spike's leg. He grasped at Xander and the boy jumped and hopped out of the door. He looked around for Spike's coat and saw Angel, standing there in all his glory, leather pants unceremoniously round his ankles. He saw the boy looking and shrugged. 'It's on the dresser,' said Angel. 'What?' 'Spike's coat, it's over there.' 'Oh. Right,' said Xander. He looked at Angel, who'd managed to pull his pants up, but seemed to have trouble fastening them. Xander picked up the axe and was heading over to the bathroom as Angel joined him. 'You recognise this one, Pet?' asked Spike. Angel looked down at the struggling vampire. 'I don't know.........he looks young.' He bent down and routed in the growling creature's pocket. He fished out a wallet and tossed it to Xander, who fumbled before catching it. The boy opened it and pulled out a string of photos and a driver's licence. 'Roman Copeland.' Spike rolled his eyes. 'Who comes up with these names?' Angel took the axe off Xander and moved toward the vampire. 'He's one of them.' With that, he raised it over his head and decapitated the unfortunate vampire. Poof! Xander looked down at his feet, which were now coated in ex-vampire. 'Lovely, yep, that's just what I wanted on my shoes.' 'Quit whining,' said Spike, 'You didn't die did you.' Xander walked over to the bed and sat down. 'That's a little beside the point. I was supposed to come here and not deal with anything remotely likely to kill me.' He glanced at Angel's incredulous face. 'Unless you went bad again. Then I was going to do the big heroic thing and stake you.' Angel shook his head. 'Fine Xander.' He looked at the remnants of the vampire. Not much, just a little gritty and easy to clean up. 'If he was a vampire, there's a pretty good chance that the others got turned too.' 'Well duh,' said Spike, 'The point is, are they hiding in everybody's bedroom or did we get picked special?' 'Well they loused up if they did,' said Xander. 'Strike one for vampire tactics.' Angel and Spike stared at him. 'So sue me for forgetting that everyone here's a blood sucker.' He looked at Spike. 'You on a pig blood diet now too?' The blond growled and turned to Angel. 'Go on, just kill him, I'll do the rest.' Angel laughed briefly and put the axe next to the wall. He fastened his pants and walked over to Xander, taking the wallet out of his hands. Xander was staring at the photos in the former guy's wallet. 'This guy was pretty sick.' Spike sat down next to Xander and looked at the pictures. 'He's into blood sports.' 'That's not a sport I know,' said Xander, passing Spike one featuring a chicken, 'I've never done anything like that with an animal.' Spike turned the picture one way and then the other. 'Me either, Pet. Some people are born sick. Others just get lucky.' 'Excuse me?' Spike grinned and wiggled his eyebrows lasciviously in Angel's direction, but the dark vampire wasn't looking. Angel was examining a card in Roman's wallet. 'Either of you ever heard of a massage parlour called 'Breathe Deeply'?' They shook their heads. Angel sighed. 'Me either, and I thought I knew them all round here.' Spike raised an amused eyebrow to the vampire and Xander merely blinked. 'Private Investigation tends to cover those areas, okay?' 'Whatever you say, Love.' 'It does,' protested Angel. 'So you think that someone's faking massage parlour cards?' 'No, but I do think it might be a cover for something else. Especially as the address,' he tossed the card to Spike, 'Is the same as this one.' Spike turned the card over. 'There's a date on the back. The 23rd.' Xander thought. 'That's tomorrow.' Angel frowned. 'So I'm guessing, Roman and his friends got turned in here. Possibly by someone connected with this card.' 'Bravo for the *great* deductions, Pet. Anything more tangible?' Angel shook his head. 'Roman was the last to disappear. Which means that the others could have left the club by now. But I get the feeling there's something bigger going on. If they'd left, Larson and the others would have noticed.' 'Oh yeah and Larson is such the nice guy, that he'd tell you some of his clients had started chomping on people without a handy syringe.' 'We need to check the other rooms,' said Angel, 'And we'll need to come back tomorrow. Something's going to go down and I wanna know what.' Xander turned to Spike. 'Does he always get so Magnum about stuff.' Spike nodded. 'Everything except the tache, Pet.' Angel wasn't listening though. 'I could really use Wesley and Doyle right now.' 'Steady on, Pet. I like to be asked before orgies.' Angel glared at him. 'You know what I meant.' Spike was all innocence. 'How am I to know, Peaches. Ten minutes ago you were wondering about adding Xander to our little party.' Xander gulped. 'That was just a joke, right?' 'I meant,' said Angel pointedly, 'That they look a lot more inconspicuous than either of us. They fit in here better. And we could use some help searching these rooms. If we ask again it's going to look suspicious.' Spike and Xander exchanged glances, but Angel was staring hard at the card again. 'I should have brought that cell phone.' 'You don't know how to use it, Pet.' 'Maybe, but at least I could have tried to contact the others.' He looked at them both. 'I wonder where they are.' * Mrs Pearson had proved to be a very sweet, if slightly overbearing woman. She'd provided them with enough to eat to stuff even Doyle's voracious appetite. She had given them, after a fairly detailed family history, the addresses of the other parents involved and told them to mention her name. Doyle had felt quite sorry for the woman - she'd had James when she was in her thirties (what a difficult birth, but I'm sure your young ladies will have an easier time of it. The pain killers back then weren't as good, or as readily available. I'm sure it will be different for you when you start a family. But oh, my back ached and as for stitches.........) and her husband had died a few years back. James was her only son and she ached to look after someone. After finally bidding a sombre adieu, they had visited a couple of the addresses she had given them. Not such a welcoming response there. The general opinions they had gathered had been of 'Good Riddance' and a door closed firmly on their faces. After trying this three times, Doyle had grown seriously in need of a drink. 'We could go to that club. Get a drink. See how Angel's faring up.' 'Well we could,' admitted Wesley, 'But these people practice vampirism as though it was fun.' Doyle sighed. 'Look Wes, I'm beat and Spike stole my only relief.........' 'Relief?' Doyle mimed drinking and Wesley nodded. 'So I want a drink. I want to tell Angel that we couldn't get anyone else to say shit about these boys and I want to sit down. So let's just go.' Wesley shrugged and got on his bike. He passed Doyle the helmet and the Irishman clung on for dear life, despite the knowledge that Wesley would stick firmly to the speed limit. It seemed an eternity before they arrived at the club and they looked around twice before entering, thrown by the décor and unobtrusive setting. Within minutes of entering, and having seen off the portly owner, Doyle settled at the bar with a pint of something refreshing and alcoholic. Wesley joined him, the Englishman drinking down the beer in a surprisingly quick fashion. Doyle looked at him, saw the demon hunter growing more laid back and shrugged, before downing his own pint and ordering a fresh one. Wesley looked around, surprised at the subtlety of the club. 'Maybe they do know something we don't,' he ventured. 'Hmm,' said Doyle, gazing into his pint. 'What was that?' 'These people,' said Wesley, then lowering his voice, 'The gay community.' Doyle snorted. 'I don't think you have to be quiet about that in here!' Wesley shrugged and picked up his drink again. 'Well perhaps, but we're not exactly here for pleasure, are we?' 'I guess not. Can't see Angel anywhere.' 'Angel?' asked the man along the bar from them, 'Tight ass, sexy grin and soulful eyes?' 'That's him,' replied the couple, before exchanging a glance and looking away quickly. 'He's here,' said the man, 'Went into a room with a couple of guys. One looked nervous as Hell.' 'Was one of them really mean looking, with bleached hair?' The guy nodded. 'Yeah, you know them?' Doyle shook his head maybe. 'I might do,' he sighed, 'Could be here some time.' 'Good point,' said Wesley, 'Let's have another.' Doyle stared at the second empty glass on the bar and nodded, suddenly remembering he hadn't eaten today and that his head didn't usually get so woozy so quickly. Wesley didn't seem wobbly in the slightest. 'I mean.........' continued Wesley from some unknown starting point, 'Take Angel and Spike.' 'Where?' Wesley laughed and Doyle noticed that he was beginning to slur a little - not so sober then. 'Oh very good. No, I mean,' he paused and started playing with his beer mat. 'Before Spike turned up, they were both miserable.' 'I think Spike liked killing,' said Doyle, noticing what elegant hands Wesley had. 'Shhh,' said Wesley, 'In public.' 'Oh.' He shhed. 'Is this better?' Wesley giggled at Doyle's hushed tones. 'Oh yes, no one will suspect if you talk like that.........' Doyle shrugged and drank his pint. 'So you were saying?' 'About what?' 'Miserable vam.........' 'Ah, oh yes, now I remember. Yes, before they were together they were both miserable and life threatening in some way or other.' 'And now?' Wesley shrugged again. 'Happy people. Both working for the good of humanity. Easy to get along with,' he gestured. 'Happy!' Doyle nodded slowly. 'And then there's us.' 'Us?' asked Wesley, looking at him suspiciously. 'You and me.........trying to asked Cordy out and getting knocked back every time.' Wesley was about to protest, then admitted to himself that Doyle was right and nodded grimly. 'She's not interested, is she?' Doyle shrugged. 'I thought we might have been in with a chance. Well me, anyway. But she said she didn't want to date someone she works with.' Wesley sighed and drank down the last of his pint. He was clearing them away with a vengeance and didn't feel like quitting yet. 'No chance in Hell,' he sighed again and ordered another round. 'And why should she want to be seen with me? I'm such a failure.' Doyle blinked, wondering why his vision had gone blurry. It cleared suddenly and all he could focus on were Wesley's glasses. He had surprisingly clear eyes behind those lenses.........and why was he even thinking about that? 'You're not a failure. Look at you. You came to LA to start over. And you have a job.........a place to stay.........' 'Getting kicked out Thursday,' said Wesley sadly, 'Can't afford it on my wages.' 'Ahh, I'm sorry man,' said Doyle. He brightened. 'You could stay with me. Split the rent?' Wesley looked at him and smiled. 'That's very.........are you sure?' 'Yeah,' said Doyle, 'We'll pick your gear up on the way home.' He thought for a second. 'Borrow Angel's car first.' Wesley nodded, then something occurred to him and he snorted. 'You know Spike's going to be merciless about this.' 'About what?' asked Doyle, whilst the penny dropped. 'Oh,' said the half demon, 'That.' 'Yes,' answered Wesley, 'He'll say that since neither of us can win Cordelia's heart, we've turned to each other.' Doyle giggled. 'Must be this place,' he murmured. 'Must be,' said Wesley, wondering why the whole prospect didn't seem so bad. He didn't fall for men. He could quite honestly stand up in court and tell them that all his crushes had been on women. Wesley Windham Price might have gone to an all boys public school, but he hadn't indulged in the sexual practices some of his companions had explored. It wasn't that he was homophobic, although his father, that grizzly bear who existed amongst the demons in his mind, would have come down even harder on a son who walked both sides of the line. But tonight, sitting in this pleasant bar surrounded by people at ease with their sexuality, it didn't seem such a terrible idea. Cordelia, a woman who had featured on an almost nightly basis in his dreams, was clearly uninterested, choosing mindless morons over both him and the jovial Doyle. Angel was as happy as he could be, fulfilling his role as defender of the innocent along with his vampire lover. They argued almost constantly, but Wesley knew, had in fact been told by Angel himself, that there was nothing to compare with waking up besides someone you loved, knowing they loved you back. He looked at Doyle, seeing, perhaps for the first time how haunted he looked. He had gathered, from what had been hinted at, that Doyle was also trying to atone for past misdeeds. His agonising headaches were both a curse and a chance for redemption for the half demon and Wesley knew how hard Doyle tried to do the latter. Wesley also knew that Cordelia had dated him for a short while, before deciding that she needed someone who had no idea what demons were. He downed the fourth pint and nearly closed his eyes, he felt so.........light headed. Doyle looked around at the club, squinting in order to focus. He couldn't see anyone there. Maybe Wesley was right - maybe these guys were right. They were.........God he felt drunk.........getting on so well. Okay, maybe some of them had big syringes.........what was it about blood drinking.........Oh my head shouldn't feel this fuzzy.........I shouldn't be this drunk.........and why am I even thinking about being gay.........? 'Wesley?' 'Mmm?' 'I think,' said Doyle carefully, 'That I may have drunk too much, cause even you look attractive.' 'I think the sign is when the bar staff start to look attractive,' murmured the demon hunter. Doyle struggled to turn his head and stared at Larson. 'Nope, he still sucks, but.........' he turned back to Wesley, 'You look.........' 'Don't say anything Doyle.........you'll regret it when I'm sober.' Wesley hiccuped and then giggled. He was fairly sure that they had a reason for being here, but he couldn't think. His brain had gone to jelly and Doyle was right, he was a handsome chap and.........oh Doyle's mouth was twitching. Kissing twitching? Uh Oh! Doyle shrugged, or tried to and leaned forward. 'You know, you're really attractive, Wes.' 'Hmm? What was that, Doyle' said the demon hunter, wondering how soon he would fall off his chair. Doyle sighed and then grinned - what the Hell! 'Call me Francis,' he said and kissed him. It wasn't the most elegant kiss. The fact that they were both drunk had a fair bit to do with it, and their inexperience at kissing men must have contributed. But there was passion, dribbly, falling off your stool passion, but it was there and before he passed out completely, Wesley's hand brushed against Doyle's hair and the demon reached to stroke his face. And then.........peace. They lay on the floor, in a vaguely grinning, sleeping heap. Larson stepped round and looked at them both. Mike put both glasses under the tap and rinsed them out, whilst the owner looked down at Wesley and Doyle with a critical eye. 'I don't know Mike, what do you think?' Mike sighed and removed Wesley's glasses. 'I think she's going to say they're a little old.' 'Mid twenties? Something like that?' Mike nodded. 'Well, Roman should be able to take care of those three in the bedroom. I'm betting she'll take them anyway. They did look her type and the youngest was the right age.' Larson hefted Doyle over his shoulder while Mike carried Doyle. 'If she doesn't like them, they can always do as a first course.' Now just *where* are you taking my friends?' They spun round to see Angel and Spike standing in the hallway, a hefty axe carried in the blond's hands, Xander somewhere in the background. Larson coughed. 'Well, see here, son. We don't like drunks on our property and this pair are like skunks, so we're just escorting them out.' Angel grinned, but there was no cheer in that expression. It was one of business and Larson began to sweat. Spike walked forward, hefting the axe from one hand to the other as he walked and even Xander had a mean expression across his normally amiable face. 'I met your boy in there,' said Angel. 'He wasn't very nice, so I told him off.' Larson put Doyle down gently across the bar. 'Now come on boys, this isn't your fight, there doesn't need to be any trouble.' 'On the contrary mate,' grinned Spike, 'I think you're well set up for trouble.' 'Who are you protecting?' Mike laughed and dropped Wesley unceremoniously to the floor. 'Wrong question, pal. You should have asked, "who's protecting us?'.' The doors to the bedrooms opened behind Xander and the remainder of the missing men spilled into the room, vamped out and eager to feed. The boy jumped and clung to Spike briefly, before realising what he was doing. Spike noticed and pushed Xander over to Angel. 'I'll handle these whelps,' he grinned, 'Don't you poufs know you have to be polite to your elders!' He morphed and swung the axe from side to side, injuring and maiming in a way he found almost as therapeutic as sex. As he set about the fledglings, angel stormed towards Larson and grabbed the fat man by the throat. 'You're human,' he growled, 'So who's been turning these kids?' Larson choked and tried to gasp for air, but Angel's grip didn't lessen. 'Who's doing this?' 'Uh, Angel,' said Xander, picking up a chair and trying to break it. 'I think that would be her.' Angel turned to look where Xander was staring. Through the curtain stepped a vampire in a glamorous dress, high heels and an obviously male face. Angel had never thought women with big muscles were sexy and now he was sure that men with similar physiques shouldn't wear dresses either. 'Breathe,' grinned Mike, 'Meet Lunch.' Angel stared at the man who'd chatted him up earlier. 'I don't do lunch,' said the vampire, and shifted to his demonic visage. The vampire stepped toward them, fangs open and waiting to devour Xander and the others. Seeing that Angel was dealing with the human side of the problem and Spike was enjoying himself carving up the vampires who'd emerged to a very brutal fate, Xander snapped the leg off the chair and held it up to Breathe. 'So, er, Breathe,' began the boy, 'Where did you get a name like that anyway?' The vampire rasped and lifted its neck, displaying a hole from which its voice box had been ripped. 'Ah,' said Xander, 'Silly me. I should have guessed.' Breathe advanced on him and Xander looked quickly to Angel, seeing that he was coming, but not quickly enough. Breathe grasped for him and Xander stepped back too quickly, stumbling on the step. He tried to get up, but his ankle had twisted and the vampire leaned down, saliva sliding down its fangs. 'You know, I don't think I want to do this right now, so let's just.........not.' Breathe roared. 'Okay, in that case.........' As Breathe closed in for the bite, Xander flexed his grip and the vampire impaled itself on the chair leg. He closed his eyes as it exploded into dust and felt the greasy matter blow over his body. When he opened his eyes again, he was aware of calm, and Angel and Spike standing over him. He grinned gently and raised his eyes to meet theirs. 'Don't you go anywhere in this town, where they don't try and kill you?' Angel smiled and shook his head. 'Not lately.' Spike chuckled. 'Well, there was that burger joint.........' 'It was laced with amphetamines, Spike.' 'Well yeah, but it wasn't going to kill us, Pet!' * 'Are you sure you won't stay?' asked Cordelia. 'I mean, it would be nice to show you LA when.........the bits that aren't so dangerous, anyway.' Xander grinned at her, but shook his head. 'I think hiding out is far more dangerous than anything Riley's boys can throw at me. So I'm going with no.........but I'll come back when you have a quiet day or something.' Spike sat on the desk with his legs resting comfortably across Angel's lap. 'Pretty cool the way you handled that Vamp Queen, Pet. I liked your moves.' Xander chuckled. 'Well Larson and his friend tried to tell the cops that a vampire had got rid of all the boys, but they found the kid's wallets piled up behind the club itself,' Xander grinned, 'I don't think your friend Kate believed them.' 'Yeah,' grinned Angel, 'Funny how those wallets got there, isn't it.' He looked up at Spike, but the blond vampire just picked up the paper, where the story of Club Ambrosia had made headlines. 'They never get the real story, eh Love?' 'No,' admitted Angel. 'But what good would it do people to believe in the things we protect them from?' Xander shrugged. 'Why did Breathe keep the club anyway? And Larson, seems like a meal in one body, that.' 'Seems Breathe was keeping Larson on to bring in fresh meat. Without a voice, he couldn't seduce or attack properly. He needed some way to be able to feed, and what better place than somewhere that deals in blood exchange anyway?' Xander grossed out. 'That's seriously sick.' Cordelia ticked off Mrs Pearson in the client list. 'It's a real shame about her. Doyle said she was really nice. Who'd have thought anyone would want to be a vampire.' Spike glared at her and even Angel glanced in her direction. 'What? It's not like you two approved.' Angel shrugged and looked back at Xander. 'Glad you're keeping good, man. Good luck with that whole people trying to kill you thing.' Xander half laughed and headed for the door. 'Yeah, I will. And you two,' he pointed at Spike and Angel, 'Don't make me have to stake you, okay?' 'Some fucking chance, Pet,' smirked Spike. Angel grinned and waved the boy out, whilst Cordelia closed the door. 'I'm gonna miss him.' 'Yeah,' said Spike, 'It's always good to have monster bait around the place.' He turned to Angel. 'Speaking of which, Peaches, where's Doyle and Wesley?' Angel shrugged and pulled the vampire down onto his lap. 'They borrowed the car. I think Wesley's moving in with Doyle for a while.' Spike laughed and Cordelia shot him an unamused look. 'Don't even say it, Spike.' 'What?' 'That even they're riding the roads you take?' Spike put a hand over his heart, mock hurt across his face. 'Who, me, Pet? Wouldn't think of such a thing.' Angel grinned. 'Good, cause I have a whole different plan for your thoughts.' Spike lowered his mouth to Angel's. 'Gross. Can't you two do that elsewhere. Like when I'm away from here?' She didn't get an answer, but Angel waved his hand for her to close the door behind her and Cordelia sighed and walked out. With the way Wesley and Doyle had been avoiding her after they'd come around and the worried looks they kept shooting each other, she wasn't sure she wanted to know what any of them were doing. She wondered if Wesley would keep the place tidier than Doyle did and made a mental not to go round to see the place after the demon hunter had been in there a week. Angel moaned deeply and she closed the door and bolted it, wondering what she'd done to deserve such sexually predative employers. As Spike's voice joined in the groaning, she put her head down and closed her hands over her ears. 'Fuck me, pet, that's good!' Why couldn't he go back to being a tortured soul? 'And how about this?' Or just plain tortured? Spike let out a near howl. Anyone? Please? 'Love it when you do that.........' Now? *Continued

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