The Clockwork Vampire


by Spirit


'Hi, how are you, (are you somebody?) did you see Elliot?' Angel blinked at the standard of conversation at Rebecca's party. It felt a whole lot like the one he'd met Cordelia at, only without the benefit of not knowing she was there. Tonight she was out in full force, glammed up to the eyeballs and cheery grin etched on her face for every agent in the place. Doyle had been instructed to 'Not embarrass me. Don't stand close, stay with Angel or someone. Just don't bother me. This is not fun, this is a business gathering.' And above all, 'Don't let anyone know you're my boyfriend.' As a consequence, the two members of Angel Investigations who didn't wear a bra were now standing at the back of a very large room, one downing whisky, the other wondering when people would notice he didn't have a reflection in any one of a hundred mirrors. He'd never been anywhere that had as many mirrors - they had been something of a rarity in Galway, expensive to buy and poor quality. Here, Rebecca was haunted by her own reflection, growing ever more lonely and unsure with each show of age. It wasn't a place to hide and Angel could only hope that Rebecca's stalker would show his self before the end of the evening. He really didn't want to be here, aware that if Spike had been at home, he'd have a whole other use for the champagne he was sipping. That was if the vampire was still feeling patient with him. The Englishman had not been in contact since Angel had said goodbye, and Wesley was presumably with him. He wasn't sure if that made him more or less at ease. He really didn't want to be here. 'S Typical.........' He turned to Doyle, noting that the Irishman had slumped on the chair he was sitting in. he hadn't looked this down for a long while.' You okay Doyle?' 'Oh I'm fine,' huffed the Irishman. 'I'm fine. I talk you into coming here cause Miss High and Mighty wants to meet the big nobs and look..........She gets to party, Doyle has to sit with the dead people.' Angel looked about him, seeing the few incapacitated bodies sleeping on plump chairs. He looked back up to Doyle. The smaller man waved back. 'Ah I'm sorry man, I know you don't want to be here either.' Angel shrugged. 'Rebecca seems to think this stalker might show tonight. I may as well be inside rather than skulking round the grounds.' Doyle grinned. 'But you skulk so well.' Both men attempted to laugh and couldn't quite manage it. 'How come,' asked Doyle, trying to focus on either of the vampires in front of him. No joy, Angel had developed a twin. 'How come Wesley and Spike manage to get out of this as well?' 'What?' 'Them two. Thick as thieves these days. No play for them! Torvald might be less bloody devoted to her in a few years, but I'm going off the girl right now!' Angel looked round as the drink played havoc with Doyle's volume control. 'You don't mean that.' Doyle looked at him and sighed. 'Ah maybe you're right, man, I mean,' he spread his hands in supplication, 'When you love someone, you make allowances, right?' Angel nodded. There was something outside. 'So she's a stuck up, ego driven, vain, self centered.........' 'Bossy,' put in Angel. 'Right, yeah, that as well. But she's all those things and I still.........' 'Love him anyway,' murmured the vampire. There was definitely someone out there. And they weren't doing that good a job of sneaking. It was almost as though they wanted to be seen. Angel looked to the other room. People had been leaving for some time now, and pretty soon it would just be the four of them in the house. Doyle had another triple and rested his head on the counter. 'And the stupid thing is, if she wasn't all those things I would get so hot for her, you know?' The shadow had moved toward the front room, where Rebecca was. 'I know, Doyle. Love's like that.' 'Yeah, damn thing comes up and hits you square in the face.' There was a crash and Angel ran into the front room, the man in the dark clothes grabbing at the terrified actress. He pushed him off and tried to manhandle the intruder to the ground. But the man wasn't fighting back, instead, he struggled to leave, as though his entire purpose was completed by breaking in. As Angel chased him down through to the back room, the man flung himself through the other windows, creating yet more work for a happy glazier. He ran to catch him but bashed into the hapless Doyle, stumbling from his drunken seat to help. Half-demon and vampire crashed to the floor, giving the intruder the time he needed to escape. Angel struggled to his feet and moved to the broken glass. He was confused as to what the trespasser was after. If it had been an assassination attempt as Rebecca had insisted, he wouldn't have given up so easy. His entire purpose had been to terrify her, scare her into doing.........what? It didn't make sense. Rebecca ran up to him, throwing her arms round his chest. 'Oh God I was so.........' She looked to the mirror. It was the strangest thing she had ever witnessed, seeing her arms clasped round.........nothing. How could that be? The only option that sprung to mind was fantastic, unbelievable. It was the stuff of fairytales. But then, she was a Princess in her own carefully crafted Ivory tower. She lived in a place where nothing, not even the characters were real. In the land of the fake, a vampire was a tangible reality. Angel turned his head and saw where she was looking. Whoops. 'Rebecca.........It's not what you think.' 'No,' put in Cordelia, 'You've had a hard night what with the stalker and everything, you're probably hallucinating under the stress and all.' They looked at her and she bit her lip, before backing out slowly. Doyle nodded to the vampire and walked along with her, trying to focus on the bunch of figures that passed for his girlfriend. 'You're a vampire,' said Rebecca. 'This is real. You're real.' Something occurred to her and she stepped back. 'Do you drink blood?' Angel felt a little lost. As far as he knew there were two basic approaches to people being a vampire. The first was the 'Argh a vampire' run away technique and the second was the method adapted by Ford and his cronies. They had an illusioned view of vampirism and believed that blood sucking was as consensual as taking tea. This blunt appraisal of what he was knocked the fight out of him. 'Yeah,' he said, then added, 'But not people.' 'You're not a killer?' 'I gave that up.' 'Well, there's a support group for everything in this town I guess.' Dry, cynical.........Spike. 'It's a long story.' God did it feel a long time. What did minutes matter in the life of someone who counted out centuries? With Spike, they could feel an eternity. He hated being without him. 'How long?' 'Two hundred years.........and some change.' Her eyebrows raised. 'But you look.........If I touch you will you be cold?' She reached out her hand and Angel backed off. 'Look, Rebecca.........I should go.' Her hand trembled in the air between them. 'This feels like a dream,' she murmured. Angel shook his head. 'This is real.' He sighed. 'You don't want to know the nightmare. *

'And this was one of the demons we freed?' 'Yeah.' 'And now we're going to try and kill him.' 'I'm not looking for trying, Pet. He's dead when we find him.' Wesley shook his head and hefted his short axe onto his shoulder. 'Well I must say, it sounds exactly the kind of thing Angel would not approve of.' Spike whirled on him and Wesley flinched at the demonic features. The vampire was roused, and not in a very good mood. However, Wesley was not in favour of killing anything without a reason. He could remember confiscating the butterfly killing-bottle from Wilson in 4B. That had put him in a great deal of trouble with the Headmaster, but the young Wesley had been adamant. Killing for fun was not sport, whatever form it came in. As an adult, he'd been forced to deal with that rule more times than anyone should, making judgements so that other people could remain ignorant. As a result of his father's 'teachings', he had buried all his emotions, making logical and cold decisions as a watcher. When that, his whole purpose in life had fallen apart, Wesley had been forced to reassess his life. Fortunately for Angel and crew, the ex-watcher had learnt from his mistakes and been able to let go. He was a stronger man than his father would have believed and he had survived in spite, rather than because of the cruelty. Spike glared at him a moment, then turned back round to smell at the tunnels. He was searching with all the instincts of a predator, and Wesley knew that whatever this demon had done, it was very personal. He wracked his brain for some information, but all he could come up with was that the demon must have been the one Angel was fighting. But Angel had come out of that fight the victor, recovering quickly from the few bruises he'd attained. It couldn't be that simplistic. 'Spike, much as I trust your predatorial instincts, I cannot destroy something simply because it exists.' 'You don't have to,' growled Spike, 'I'll rip him apart.' 'What did he do that was so bad?' Spike sniffed the air, smelling the salty tang it had taken as they neared the beach. 'He's a bad demon, Pet. You don't need any other reason.' 'Spike, I know you selectively choose to believe I'm stupid,' said Wesley calmly, 'But you've never been one to right a wrong in the world. Why would you start now?' Spike paused and took a left turn. 'Some wrongs need righting.' 'Yes,' said the Englishman, 'But I believe we've just covered that. You're evil.' Spike grinned in spite of himself. 'Thanks for noticing, Pet. Thought you lot believed I'd gone soft.' 'Heaven forbid.' 'Or Hell.' 'Quite, but the point is, Spike, that you don't normally go to any length of trouble to track the bad guys down.' Spike stopped. 'So are you going to tell me what he did?' 'Fucked his boyfriend.' Wesley's eyebrows shot up as the battered demon rounded the corner. Cribb grinned. 'Hello Spike, I've been waiting for you.' * 'And you have no idea where either of them are?' Cordelia shook her head, quite under the fire of Angel's annoyance. She saw quite clearly that it was caused by lack of Spike and took it with a pinch of salt. When he was in this mood, he couldn't be reasoned with until the bleached bum had returned. Angel was such a softy that way. 'Like I just told you, Wesley phoned about an hour ago to say that he and Spike were involved with something demony and that they'd be back by morning.' 'Demony,' repeated Angel. 'And it didn't occur to you to ask where they were?' 'No. It didn't occur to you that they would have asked if they needed your help?' Angel growled and stood up. Doyle was sitting, hungover in the corner of the room, his feet propped up on a bench. His eyes were closed and he was trying not to listen to anything. But Angel's anger seemed to communicate itself quite well. 'Look, Angel, I'm sure they're fine. Demons, right? Spike can take demons. They'll be back before you know it.' 'Yeah, said Cordelia brightly, 'And in the mean time you can take Rebecca to that premiere and find her stalker.' Angel looked up at the suit bag that hung in the corner. 44 long indeed, living the high life whilst Spike was probably up to his guts in demon slime, saving Wesley's ass. Although, he wasn't entirely sure if that was true. Wesley had a strength and purpose that belied his outward appearance. Maybe they'd be okay and he could stop worrying about them both. Yeah, right, and they'd invented a brand of sun block that was suitable for vampires. Angel sighed. 'I guess it would pass the time. At least we can get something out of this.' 'Yeah,' grinned Cordelia, 'Just make sure Spike doesn't find out.' Angel glared at her and she rolled her eyes. 'Oh come on, you don't think a bodyguard's *all* she wants you for.' 'Cordelia.........' Angel paused, unsure of what he was going to say next. Yes, I've noticed the way she looks at me. Yes I know that she's giving off signals that I'd have to be an imbecile to ignore. Yes I know all that, but I don't want it. She doesn't have what I want.........she's just not.........Spike. God I want him back. 'Cordelia, she's a client. Nothing more.' 'Yeah, try telling her that,' grinned the girl. 'I will,' said Angel as he picked up the suit, 'And hopefully, we can catch this guy tonight.' 'And then you don't have to worry about her stealing your virtue.' 'I think his virtue's safe,' said Doyle, eyes still firmly closed against the world. 'It's all wrapped up in that missing vampire.' Angel's unbeating heart twinged. He hoped that that vampire wouldn't be missing very long. * Wesley watched as Cribb and Spike circled one another and seriously wished that he hadn't watched that documentary on wolves a couple of nights ago. 'So you've come to finish me off, right?' Spike's face was devoid of expression. 'I was thinking more of wiping you from existence.' Cribb laughed and gestured to his rapidly healing wounds. 'You should have let your boy finish me off whilst you could. I heal well.' 'Yeah, you're really impressive.' Wesley stepped back against the wall and lifted his axe into a fighting stance. If what this demon had said was true, it would explain more than just Spike's aggression. It also shed light on Angel's recent show of near panic whenever his lover wasn't within reach. Cribb turned to him. 'This your bit on the side, then?' Spike shook his head. 'No, mate. He's here to witness your death.' 'What?' asked Cribb. Spike smiled gently and Wesley felt his flesh start to creep. It didn't take much to remind him that Spike was a vampire. 'You're dead now, whatever happens. Wesley's just here to watch me make you suffer.' Cribb laughed. 'You're visiting vengeance? Doing to me what I did to Angel?' 'I wouldn't touch your sorry ass with a barge pole.' He took both hands out of his pocket, revealing a small blowtorch in his left hand. 'I just thought I'd even the fight before we begin.' He flicked it on suddenly and flared at Cribb's crotch. The demon howled and moved backwards, straight into Wesley's axe. Spike advanced and blasted him again whilst the human struggled to remove the axe head from between Cribb's shoulder blades. Cribb howled. 'I thought you said this was an even fight.' Spike grinned, wolf-like. 'Never been much of one for Queensbury rules, mate. Just whatever works.' He fired up the blowtorch again and started burning random parts of Cribb's body, the marine demon suffering twice as much under the heat. When he'd fallen to the floor, Cribb started kicking out, realizing that Spike wouldn't stop, wouldn't appraise how he was feeling and wouldn't give mercy. He was here to kill Cribb - no James Bond style gloating necessary. Spike tossed the blowtorch casually into his pocket and withdrew something else, an object which disturbed Wesley since he'd first read Spike's résumé. 'Do you know what this is, Cribb?' 'A metal stake?' sneered the demon. Spike nodded. 'Sort of. It's a railroad Spike. Very rusty and bloody old.' 'Very funny,' grimaced Cribb. 'Picking a weapon with your name.' 'Er, I think it's rather the other way around,' put in Wesley. They both looked at him, and Wesley shrugged and held his axe tightly. Cribb turned back to Spike to say something, but it was lost as the rusty spike buried itself within his chest. He let out a startled gasp and felt a squelchy pop as one of his hearts gave in. Cribb knew that with only one functioning, it would take his body a while to shut down, the flow slowing and crippling his body part by part. When Spike dropped the book of demon anatomy in his lap, he realized that the vampire knew it too, had planned on it. All he could hope for now was that the vampire lost his cool and killed him quickly. And from the look on Spike's face, he hadn't much hope of that. * Angel would swear he was going to go blind from all these flash bulbs going off in his face. The crowd seemed to be full of young teenagers crying out for the woman he led from the car. She was as amused with their reaction as she was tired of it. Angel understood some of that. He knew how quickly he had bored of his fledglings unrelenting devotion and visited punishment on their brutish bodies. He didn't think that Rebecca would quite do that, but she didn't seem impressed with their fervour. They cried out for Raven, almost weeping with excitement. Angel wondered at mankind's desire to supplicate self in adoration of someone 'worthy'. The actors of his time had been chased off more often than not, gypsies and pedlars of common necessity. They hadn't enjoyed this kind of celebrity status, hadn't worried about whether or not people called them by their character's name. They'd been more worried where their next meal was coming from, and right now, Angel could almost identify. He hadn't fed before he left, in his concern over Spike. It had been more than a day since he'd seen the vampire and he was growing increasingly concerned. It wasn't like Spike to get involved in a case, but Angel knew the younger man had some aggression to work out. And that was his fault, more or less. Spike had been more considerate and tender these past few weeks, never pushing him, always letting him take the lead. But it couldn't stay this way, neither of them wanted it to. It was too close to giving permission and that was another trek back in time that he didn't want to take. All roads lead to Angellus. 'Raven, they think I'm the character I play,' murmured Rebecca, still smiling for the crowds. Angel barely heard her, he was searching the crowds for the assailant, feeling the tension in the air and wondering if he was mislead. It was not having Spike around, he was sure of it. When he had his lover near by, his senses were focused. He was focused. Right now he was looking for a needle in the biggest haystack. He guided her up the red carpet, catching a flash of white hair and turning automatically. It was just a girl and Angel cursed silently, forcing himself to do what he was paid for. Concentrate and find this killer. He had the instincts, now all he had to do was put them in action. They entered the building and Angel looked around, confused. 'They're showing the movie in an alleyway?' Rebecca laughed, seemed more sure of herself. 'Oh no, I only come to these things for the photo op. My driver knows to meet me out back. God, if I had to sit through everyone of these, I'm sure boredom would kill me.' Angel stared at her a moment. Could she really be as self-centered as she seemed? Here she was with the opportunities that most of the people outside would kill for and it was just another way of boring her, another time to feel superior. Spike would have hated her, he smiled to himself. He would have shot off another speech like the one he gave to Jheira, rattled her cage and then taken Angel home and shagged the pants off him. God he wished he was here! He looked around, aware that this was a prime spot for an attack. Anyone could guess at that, anyone who knew she never stayed for these things. As he looked up, he saw a dark figure move across the landing, aiming a gun in their direction. He yelled at the actress to get down, jumping up to the platform above them. Angel yanked the gun out of the assailant's hand and dropped it to the ground below them. The guy was strong, but not vampire strong and he easily had the upper hand, tackling him down the stairs, ignoring the bruises which would be gone by morning. As they bashed to the ground, his opponent struggled from his grip in the impact, freeing himself. But this time Angel was ready for his escapee tricks and pounded his face until the man was still. Okay, mission accomplished. Rebecca gave out the biggest sob from behind the wall, whether it was in relief of fear, he couldn't quite tell. But it was a genuine reaction from the woman and his heart softened towards her. She needed him right now, and he'd come through for her. But what she really needed was a basic human comfort. Angel walked over to Rebecca and drew her into his arms, letting her cry it all out, assuming the role Spike had so recently taken. She shuddered against his chest and he willed her to see that comfort was all this was, not to read anything more into the situation. Then he berated himself for being so ego driven, she wasn't thinking of anything right now, he'd swear. Simply over come with the pent-up fears of her recent life, shocked at finding them over. He wished he knew what that was like. * Wesley sat on the concrete floor in the corner of the room, half his mind refusing to acknowledge what he was witnessing. He knew that he should have left Spike to do this alone, but his loyalty to both vampires kept him here and that surprised him. Wesley had been aware that he trusted and respected Angel, that he would take his word above others, but he hadn't known that Spike also came under the same category. Why else would he be watching the vampire torture Cribb to death? The demon was slumped against the wall. He didn't groan or cry out anymore, his ability to make the right noises for speech had gone hours ago. The best he could do was a kind of yelp which sounded more like an aggrieved puppy than a demon with his guts ripped out. If he had been capable of thought, he would have cursed his body's natural resilience, it's strength prolonging this death. Without it, Cribb would have been gone hours since, the agony ended, but all he knew now was an agony which never abated, occasionally increasing. Spike was not the inventive torturer than Angellus had been, but his nickname had been earned over time, and he was skilled with the weapon. Spike looked down at his handiwork analytically. He'd shredded almost all the organs the demon possessed, leaving him with one heart that steadfastly refused to let him die yet. Once he'd taken that out it would all be over, and Spike wasn't sure if he was ready to give this up yet. He was surprised that Wesley was still here, expecting the man to have refused to witness this. But Wesley had remained a silent spectator, his sensibilities apparently eased at Spike's justification. Wesley had used the time they'd been down here to understand Spike's motives. It wasn't hard, Cribb's jeering being what it was. If something similar had happened to Megan, Wesley could see himself delivering this kind of payback. Perhaps not this *kind* exactly, he wasn't a naturally aggressive man, but he knew how to do what must be done, which was one of the reasons he stayed. The violation of his employer had disturbed him greatly. When he had joined them, Wesley had turned from grudging respect to genuine fondness, regarding the dark vampire as his own example of what might be accomplished. Angel had changed himself when he was able, using his supernatural abilities to help those he might once have harmed. He was atoning for his actions of the past, and though the balance was nowhere near on his side yet, Angel had dedicated himself to an eternity on the side of the good fight. Wesley didn't have that long, but he had damaged much in his year as a watcher and he owed it, not only to those he had directly harmed, but those who he could have protected, to make a difference. After his disgrace, he had promised himself that he would never allow a wrong to be carried out under his nose, would make amends for any past grievances. He would fight the good fight, and if part of that meant he would watch Spike kill the demon who had raped Angel, then he was willing to do it. But he would also tell him when it was enough. 'Spike,' Wesley said quietly, 'No more.' Spike looked up at the Englishman, his vampire features still evident, but their habitual scowl less prominent. 'It can never be enough,' he growled. Wesley nodded. 'I know, but I don't think he even knows you're hurting him now.' Spike looked down at the near corpse before him, and twisted the metal in his gut. Cribb murmured a little, but the blank expression on his face didn't change. 'I don't feel better,' Spike said flatly. 'This was supposed to make me feel better.' Wesley edged towards him, the rank smell of demon guts permeating his every sense, and he knew it would be the stuff of nightmares for a long time. 'Killing Cribb, I know you thought it would make you feel better, and I know you wanted to avenge Angel.' Spike stared at him and the human continued. 'You've done that. Finish it.' Spike looked at the demon once more. 'It was supposed to make everything better, Pet.' Wesley shook his head. 'Vengeance doesn't do that, it only ends things.' Spike barked out a laugh, brief and dry. 'So it doesn't make any difference then?' 'Well Cribb's dead. However he haunts you he won't be able to attack you again.' 'Haunts?' Spike looked back up at him, 'That what they taught you in Watcher school?' Wesley shook his head. 'No.........' he paused and thought for a moment before relenting, 'My father taught me that.' Spike almost grinned. 'You offed that wanker then?' Wesley shook his head and pulled out a bottle of whiskey from the bag Spike had insisted they brought. He unscrewed the lid and swigged it back before offering it to the vampire. 'No, I watched him die though, waited in the hospital until they pronounced him dead.' He looked at the mangled demon. 'I had to be sure, you see. I had to know he wouldn't come back.' Spike felt the hot liquid burn down his throat. 'Felt better?' 'No,' said Wesley, 'But I was different. He couldn't do anything to me anymore and all my mistakes became my own.' He looked directly at Spike. 'I know.........between you and Angel.........things are not quite the same. But you've laid this demon to rest physically. What comes next is down to both of you.' Spike thought for a moment. 'So what? We go back and I try and get Angel to fess up that he's still strung up about this arsehole?' Wesley rolled his eyes. 'Even under stress you're the same.........Yes, that's exactly what I meant.' Spike grinned slowly and pulled out the metal. 'Here's to a new beginning, then.' He plunged the spike through Cribb's other heart and they both watched as the demon breathed its last, staying still for a minute. 'Right then,' said Spike standing up, 'let's go back and I'll try and sort it out with the poof.' Wesley almost smiled. 'You're actually taking my advice?' Spike shrugged. 'You may be a twat, Wes, but you're our twat. And we take care of our own.' Wesley furrowed his brow. 'Did you just give me a compliment?' Spike started walking away. 'Would I do that to you?' * Still there was nothing, no sign that Wesley or Spike were alive or in the neighbourhood. Angel shifted from foot to foot. It was too long and he wasn't happy, the early evening air not agreeing with this vampire's temperament. In total, they'd been gone almost three days. Okay, it was two and a half, and they had called in yesterday when Angel had been out, but it wasn't enough. Whatever they were up to, Spike should have taken him along, given him the same courtesy that he'd applied since his kidnap. Oh, but it hurt to think about that. One of these days, Angel was going to find out where Cribb was and kill the bastard. He had that coming to him, and a whole lot more. But Angel didn't have the stomach for torture these days. It reminded him too much of what he had been and the vampire knew too much about that already. He wouldn't even be thinking these thoughts if Spike was in the room, and cursed his automatic brooding skills that put him back in this mode. What he wanted, was to have his lover back in the house, Wesley safe and sound at his home and no interruptions. 'Angel?' That wasn't happening apparently. Rebecca appeared on the stairs, elegantly dressed, making the most of her dark beauty. 'There was no one upstairs, so I just came down. I hope that's okay?' Angel was about to ask her to excuse him, that he wasn't in the mood for company, when he realized he didn't want to spend the evening alone. Perhaps she'd help take his mind off worrying for a while. She wasn't bad company after all, and he was certain he could fight her off if necessary. 'Er, sure. Come on in.' She smiled brilliantly at him and he wondered if he'd made a bad decision. She couldn't hurt him and he pushed the thought away. 'I went shopping with Cordelia to.........pick out a thank-you gift for you, but what do you get the guy who has already seen everything? So I figured what's better than Dom?' She proffered the bottle and he nodded. 'You can, I mean, you do.........?' 'I can drink.........other liquids, yeah.' She flashed another 100 watt smile. 'Good. Have you got glasses?' What am I? An animal? 'Yeah, yeah,' he realized she was being very formal about this, 'Please, sit down.' She looked around the flat and took in the bedroom, smiling to herself as all sorts of possibilities passed through her mind. The weapons didn't interest her in the slightest, but she could tell that some of them were very old, and many looked valuable. Those that looked well used she turned away from. The violence inherent in his job didn't interest her in the least. 'It's sort of what you'd expect, and sort of not.' Angel came back pouring the champagne. 'Well there's no coffin.' She stood up and took her glass.........clumsily, spilling half its contents over Angel's shirt. 'Oh God, I'm sorry,' Rebecca enthused. 'Your shirt!' Angel shrugged and shook his head. 'It's okay. Cold, but okay.' He gestured to the bedroom. 'I'll be right back.' She waited until he was out of the room and dissolved the doximal in a fresh glass, swilling it until the substance disappeared completely. No one stays young forever, Elliot had said, but he was wrong. And after tonight, she'd be able to live out that dream with the handsome vampire at her side. She had the charm and once he'd drunk that, he'd be amenable enough to do what she wanted. And then, she'd discover what it was like to sleep as a vampire, Angel's bedmate for all Eternity. Yes, she smiled to herself as Angel came in wearing a fresh shirt, she had it all figured out. * Doyle opened the door to Wesley, wondering where he'd been and too tired to figure it out. 'Hello Doyle,' said the Englishman. 'Hey, Wes. How was the field trip with Spike?' Wesley rolled his eyes and stepped inside, dumping the bag in the corner of the room and heading for the shower. 'Illuminating,' he answered eventually. 'Not something I want to do again.' Doyle laughed and went to close the door before Cordelia barged past it in a fluster. 'Hi Princess,' he said, confused. 'I thought we were leaving me alone to have some sleep?' She glared at him and Doyle shrugged an apology. 'I think I may have done something bad.' 'Cordelia,' said Wesley wearily, 'I'm tired. Doyle's tired, can't it wait?' She raised her eyebrows. 'I went shopping with Rebecca,' she said dramatically. 'And that was terrible?' asked Doyle. She shook her head. 'Huh? No! That was fantastic! You know they close of stores for her? Oh, and lunch at Mirabelle's. I had the most to-die-for veal filet with a light truffle marinade, and.........' 'Cordelia,' said Wesley warningly. 'Oh, sorry.' She brushed her hair back from her face, and continued. 'Anyway the whole time Rebecca is real gabby, asking questions about Angel.' 'What sort of questions?' asked Doyle. 'Oh, you know, where does Angel hail from, what's his favourite colour, what kind of after-shave he wears, the exact specific details on how someone could make themselves into a vampire.' Both men stared at her. 'You don't think.........' began Wesley. She shrugged violently. 'What? That she'd try to manoeuvre Angel into an exchange of bodily fluids in order to make herself eternally young and beautiful, thus saving her failing career? Gee, now that you mention it.........' Doyle breathed out heavily. 'He wouldn't. Angel wouldn't do that. He's not interested in her at all.' 'No,' began Wesley thoughtfully, 'But she may be doing something a little more convincing.' Cordelia looked puzzled. 'Buying him champagne?' 'That's what she bought?' Doyle and Wesley exchanged glances. 'She's up to something,' said Doyle. 'Undoubtedly,' murmured Wesley, then he stopped as something occurred to him. 'Oh no.' 'What?' 'Spike's on his way over there now.' 'Well that's good, right? He'll see right through her.' 'Probably,' nodded Doyle, 'But he could be too late.' 'If she's drugged him' mused Wesley, 'He could lose all control. Which means.........' 'Yeah,' said Doyle slowly. 'Angellus could be on the loose and Spike's walking into a trap.' 'He's the tough guy, though,' said Cordelia, 'He should be able to take it.' They looked at her and she picked up her purse. 'Just making a point.' She walked to the door. 'Let's go.' They followed her into the night.

*

Angel was drunk. Not dodging towards tipsy, or anywhere past giggly and upbeat, but wistful, relaxed drunk. And he was talking. 'I used to be.........a long time ago.........' he began, his mind dredging up the past he tried so hard to overcome. 'I hurt.........a lot of people.' Rebecca was so close, warmth oozing off her in waves, listening and disregarding anything that didn't fit in with her belief. 'I don't believe that,' she purred, stroking her fingers across his shirt. Angel tried to move his head, he couldn't. Why was that? He hadn't drunk that much and he never remembered getting this intoxicated by champagne before. Maybe it was because he hadn't drunk any in so long. Spike always preferred the hard stuff to sparkly. Maybe they should try it - the fizz seemed tantalising on his tongue. 'No it's true. I was.........' he paused and the only word that seemed to work was childish, but, 'Bad. Which is why I'm trying to help people now,' he went on as though this was a set speech, 'I'm trying to atone.' 'Cordelia says you've helped save the world.' Angel shrugged. His skin didn't seem to feel right and he could imagine turning round and his body being the wrong way. He almost giggled and then he recalled that she'd said something, now what was it? 'Couple of times I helped.........' Oh yeah, I helped, was a regular good guy with my hero girlfriend. What a big guy I am. Don't worry about all the bad things I did, because I'm so the hero now. And what is this woman doing? She's all snuggly. Urgh, should extract myself. Extract. That's a good word. How do I do that? Oh yeah, tell her bad stuff. You don't want me cause......... 'Almost had it sucked into Hell once, too.' Rebecca was so close now, so.........female. She smelled okay, nice smell, all musky and flowery. I like that. It's girly, but it's Cordelia, or Megan. Probably more Cordelia, I don't think Megan wears Perfume. But they smell sweet. Flowery. Girl stuff. Now Spike......... Spike smells like leather and soap, he's showering so often now. He likes being clean for me. And he smells of cigarettes. And that deodorant he's been using. Don't know what it is but I keep.........running to the kitchen when I smell him. He's mine. He smells good. Rebecca breathed against his ear and he almost jumped. If he'd had his sensibilities, he would have pushed her away. Angel didn't think he could find the energy to move his little finger. 'Still.........' whispered Rebecca, 'Don't you think.........after all this time, that you deserve some happiness?' 'Will,' murmured Angel. 'makes me happy.' She didn't seem to hear, tracing her fingers up and under his shirt. That doesn't feel right. Those fingers.........all wrong. Too small. Timid. When's he coming home? I want him. I need him. I......... '.........Love Will.' Rebecca looked up into his bleary face. 'Who's Will? The girl you had to give up?' Angel let out a chuckle. 'Will's not a *girl*!' She bit her lip. 'Okay, woman then. But you had to give her up. You don't have to do that with me.' 'Huh?' She moved so that her face was inches from his. 'You can have everything you've been craving all these long lonely years. We both can.' She met his eyes. 'Forever.' Angel looked at her a moment, trying to make sense of her words. Then he pushed her off, dumping her unceremoniously on the floor. 'Whoah, whoah! What are you saying?' She got to her knees and started running her elegant fingers over his thighs. 'You know what I'm saying.' Rebecca stared it him, willing him under her control. She tilted her head. 'Do it. We won't ever have to be lonely, either one of us, again.' Angel felt a low growl coming in his throat. Who was this woman to ask him to turn her? How dare she think she could give him what he wanted? She didn't know what he wanted. 'He isn't lonely, Love,' said the voice in the darkness. 'He's got me.' Rebecca and Angel turned to the stairs as Spike slowly descended them. The blond was grinning gently, predatorily, maybe even territorially. But the drunken image that came was of a white wolf, guarding its mate against an intruder. 'Who are you?' Rebecca managed. 'I don't believe we've.........' 'Met? Nah, cause if we had, you'd know that Angel here ain't for sale. At any bloody price.' He met Angel's eyes and the dark vampire spotted the need, the desire buried in this matter of fact behaviour. 'I never said he was for sale,' murmured Rebecca. 'I just wanted.........' 'I know what you just wanted,' said Spike, 'And you couldn't be more wrong, Love.' 'Wrong?' repeated the actress. 'Yeah,' grinned Spike, seconds away from the pair of them, 'See, you wanted to be Angel's companion for all eternity, getting the poor bugger drunk in the process.' He looked at Angel, who seemed to be undergoing yet another guilt trip, holding his head in his hands. 'Daft that, Pet. Never trust humans, they can be evil bastards.' He turned his attention back to Rebecca. 'Look at it this way, Love. I'm what happens when you become a vampire.' He grinned and morphed into game face. 'And I'm a bloody animal!' She shrieked and got to her feet, scrabbling to get away from this monster. This wasn't what she wanted. This wasn't the eternal youth she had dreamed of. This couldn't be a vampire. 'Get away from me!' Spike laughed hard and lit a cigarette, pleased with the fear she was giving off. Its smell was addictive and it had been so long. 'This what you want, Pet? A demon in your body?' He looked at Angel, who did seem to be suffering from a bad head. 'I guess you did. But do you really want to be like me? Like him?' Rebecca felt the first tear slide down her cheek. She hadn't known. Angel wasn't like this. Angel wasn't a monster, not like this creature before her. He had never frightened her, but comforted her when she was afraid, protected her when she was in trouble. Angel had been her hero, one with the added bonus of immortality, something she'd hoped he would share. But this monster said they were the same thing. It couldn't be, could it? 'He's not like you,' she stammered. Spike nodded his head. 'True, I've got a bigger dick and he broods more.' He stepped closer and grabbed her, thrilling at the woman's scream. 'But we're basically the same.' She shook her head. 'I don't believe that.' Spike laughed. 'No? Wanna try the diet?' He dragged her over to the fridge, relieved that she was too scared to resist. Pulling a bag out, Spike pushed it to her mouth and squirted the Pig's blood down her throat. 'Have a blast, Pet.' She choked hard, trying not to swallow. 'That's what forever tastes like. Course,' Spike swirled the lit end of his cig round casually, 'It tastes a whole lot better out of a neck.' He grinned and faced her, more wolf-like than ever. 'Wanna give it a try?' Angel gave a groan from the sofa and Spike ignored the terrified woman, heading towards his lover. 'I leave you alone for five minutes, Pet, and what happens? You let some fluffy tart come and get you drunk.' He bent down to stroke Angel's sweaty hair. 'Good job I don't get jealous, isn't it?' Angel let out a low laugh. 'But you do get jealous, don't you Spike?' The blond vampire hesitated before pulling away from the dark head. He looked over to where Rebecca stood, sobbing and wiping blood away from her mouth. 'What did you do to him?' She looked at the vampire, and Spike read her blank expression. She was too scared to answer him. With a growl, he forced his demonic features to shift, making him look human once more. 'What did you do to him?' He wasn't prepared for the smack to the back of his head. Wasn't prepared to go shooting across the room as the blow took him out. Wasn't prepared for the low knowing voice that echoed in his head. 'She gave me a happy.' *

Continued

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