After "Innocence" aired, the SunS Buffy list started being barraged by stories with Angelus torturing the Slayerettes and Co. After a few of these EvilFic... it got to the point where... let's just say that even w/o seeing "Innocence", I wanted Angelus dead. Perhaps even tortured and then dead.
So I thought about how I dealt/deal with nightmares.
As you probably guessed. I decided to go with number three.
The following seven pieces are AU (alternate universe) vignettes starring: Giles, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Jenny, Spike&Dru, and finally Buffy. They can be read in any order, and range from slightly humourous to very violent (R for violent imagery). About the only common denominator is that Angelus doesn't> come out on top. < EG >
I'd love feedback about these. They are, essentially, character studies, and I'm interested to see if you agree that I "caught" the essence of each character.
Thanks go out to my beta readers: Chris, Perri, Tina, Valerie and Dianne for giving comments. And -- of course -- to the entire SunS list for w/o them I wouldn't have been inspired to write these.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss. I'm making no profit beyond the enjoyment of writing the characters. What doesn't belong to Joss belongs to Mutant Enemy, Inc. (insert rest of usual disclaimer here)
Giles was exhausted in so many ways. The days had run on to weeks, with every spare moment spent searching through tome upon tome in his library. After exhausting his own collection, he'd begged, borrowed and ... taken a permanent loan on books from other Watchers and demonologists.
Every extra second he had spent in this search for a spell that would bring Angel's soul back. Time stolen after Buffy had finished her training for the day, and in between other projects that needed more immediate attention due to the Hellmouth's influence.
He wanted to erase the shadows that ran so freely behind Buffy's eyes. He wanted her to be happy... even if that meant fighting desperately to imprison a soul alongside a demon. It wouldn't be the first questionable spell he'd cast, but he hoped it would be the last.
In the end, he'd had to improvise. Cobbling together four different spells, and hoping desperately that any side-effects would cancel out.
He blinked tiredly, and poured himself another cup of tea. Earlier on in the evening, he'd stopped dumping out the used tea bags and each pot became blacker and more bitter. Giles swallowed grimly, wishing he could wait another night and check the spell over again. But the stars portended good results, and the night was quickly passing. He shivered, realizing that the thought of comforting Buffy over yet another person Angelus had killed was also a contributing factor for his haste.
One of the teabags had burst, and Giles looked at the leaves swimming at the bottom of the cup with the last mouthful of tea. They could almost be forming patterns....
He set the cup down on the table, and closed his books. All his quickly done preparations were in order. It was now or never.
The pentagram had been painted on his basement floor, and various offerings lay in each of the five arms. Giles stepped into the centre where a tall candle and a notebook with his precise scribblings awaited. He rolled up the sleeves of his wrinkled white shirt, and took out a book of matches. The candle was black and its light flickered uneasily against the walls.
Giles began to speak.
The words were a confusing mixture of languages. Latin and German appeared the most often, but whole sentences were in Italian or French, and a Middle Eastern language appeared in which his pronounciation was shaky.
"... pas sur soleil, et pas entre ..."
With each word, Giles felt the air in the room grow heavier. Presenses -- demons, angels and others, awaited for an opening -- most were unfriendly. His arms started to feel like lead, and he struggled to perform the necessary gestures. The false energy the caffeine had given him was fast departing and Giles felt as if gravity had decided to play tricks and increase tenfold.
Reaching over into one of the pentacle arms, he tipped the small bowl holding holy water into the one filled with human blood.
"... tynatos von meran ... "
Sweat ran down his face, and Giles heart started pounding heavily when he heard the basement door start to shake. A hand punched through the flimsy wooden barrier, and reached inside to unlock it.
The hand was smoking.
Giles lifted a small crucifix from around his neck, and carefully wrapped the chain around the jade bowl filled with the blood and water mixture. He noticed that it had started to bubble. The spell was almost finished.
Angelus was almost at the bottom of the stair when Giles flipped open the switchblade and cut across his forearm. There. This was it. The final words.
"... sacrifice will you be free."
The blood dripped onto the crucifix, and Angelus screamed. His face was cortorted, and his skin was red with wisps of smoke emerging from his entire body. His eyes shone green and full of hate.
The sound echoed in the dark basement, and Giles watched in horror as blood started to trickle from Angelus' eyes and mouth. He reached for the crossbow he'd aside aside earlier, but it wasn't needed.
With a final moan, Angelus fell to his knees and then slumped limply to the floor. His skin was cracked and blistered, but his face had relaxed back into human features. Blood dripped from eyes that stared confusedly at the ceiling.
Keeping a firm grip on the crossbow, Giles took a step closer. Bending down, he pushed aside a still arm but instead of reaching up to choke him, it fell limply to the floor. He turned the face so that he could look into the eyes.
The eyes were human again, and Giles recognized the intelligence behind them.
A grimace and then Giles saw the mouth move without a sound. He tried again, and this time Giles heard the words emerge; faint but recognizable.
The eyes dimmed and turned blank.
And Giles was left with an empty dead body, a wrecked basement, and the knowledge of both success and failure.
Willow wasn't sleeping well.
She counted sheep, she counted numbers -- she even counted prime numbers but that got confusing after a while.
Logic dictated that she figure out why she couldn't sleep, deal with it and be done with. Unfortunately, logic had nothing to do with it. She'd *done* everything she could thing of.
But she was still scared.
Shivering, she rubbed her neck. The bruises where Angel's hands had gripped her had faded a couple of days ago. She'd had to go through her entire supply of turtlenecks. That had raised a few eyebrows from her parents since the California weather, as usual, had been both warm and dry. They probably thought Oz had given her a hickey and she'd been embarassed about it -- and she would have been... if that had been the reason.
Instead, she had been hot, uncomfortable... and scared.
She'd seen Angel's face just after Ms. Calendar had driven him off with the cross. And she'd felt the determined grip in his hands. He had *wanted* to hurt her. To break her neck and kill her.
Willow curled up into a fetal position, arms crossed, and hugged her knees.
What if he came after her again? She'd invited him into her room. He could come back any time he wanted... He could go after her parents and then go after her... He could break her neck the way he'd intended to, and her parents would never know who'd done it... He could...
There was nothing she could do to protect them. The truth would only put them in greater danger.
Willow groaned, reached out, and grabbed Mr. Max. She took the small stuffed dog and squeezed him until he was flat and comforting. Wrapping the blankets around her, she tried to get into a comfortable position.
Closing her eyes, she decided to practice counting prime numbers again.
~/what was that sound?/~
*five, seven, eleven....*
Willow forced herself to keep her eyes closed. There wasn't anybody leaning over her now -- just like there wasn't anybody leaning over her the last eighteen times she'd imagined it.
*thirteen, seventeen, nineteen, twentythree...*
She felt a breeze blow across her face like someone breathing except colder. Willow squeezed her eyes shut, and held onto the blankets with a deathgrip. It was a breeze from the window that she had firmly shut earlier that night. It was just her imagination. Just like the feel of the mattress moving was her imagination, just like, just like...
Willow realized her heart was pounding.
The feel of the hand over her mouth made it go into overdrive.
"Shh... Don't scream. You really don't want your parents in your room right now."
The darkness hid most of his body, and the dark clothes he was wearing blended in perfectly. Light from the window played against the light skin of the face that was directly over hers.
She felt his body readjust until he was half lying over her. The pressure made her want to throw up.
"Or maybe you do." He started smiling. "Are you going to scream, or can we have a final conversation before I kill you?"
Trying to move her head back and forth, Willow discovered that his hand was holding her head too firmly against the pillow for it to move. She was going to have bruises again tomorrow.
Or maybe tomorrow she'd be dead and it wouldn't matter.
He must have felt her trying to move because he released his hold on her mouth. With a relaxed gesture, he sprawled on his back beside her, and tucked his arm underneath her neck.
"I've always liked you." Angel pulled her closer and quickly kissed the top of her head. "Young, smart, and pretty much helpless -- definite turn-ons." He adjusted her body, so that it was tucked up next to him.
"What do you want?"
"See what I mean?" Willow felt his hand pat her on the tummy just below the belly button. "No screaming, no whining, no fainting... although I *do* remember you fainting once. Maybe I'm thinking about someone else."
He moved again so that he was crouching over her, and then sat down on her legs. "You *do* babble, and I hate that... so I've decided to kill you instead of turning you into a vampire. I get enough nonsense talk from Dru."
"Babble? I don't babble. I never babble unless I've got a really good reason, maybe this isn't the best time, but this really is a good reason and..." Her legs were starting to go numb.
The hand went over her mouth again, except this time his hand covered her nose as well. A few seconds, and Willow felt as if she was trapped under water.
"Ooph!" Willow gasped. Blessed air rushed through her lungs.
Angel was still sitting on her legs, but he was looking over her room with a distracted air. "How do you want to die?"
"I don't, I don't wanna die!" Willow couldn't help it. She moaned, hating herself as she did it.
"No, no, no!" He smiled wickedly down at her. "You're not playing the game!"
She closed her eyes to shut out that face. She could still hear his voice, but at least she didn't have to look at him.
His hands moved over her body again. "There are just *so* many possibilities... I know you have a good idea of the frailties of the human body. So many ways, so many..."
Willow felt Angel being lifted from on top of her. Buffy? Had her other precautions been activated? Cautiously, she opened an eye. Then she scooted towards the back of the bed, and threw off the covers.
Angel's tall form was being lifted off the ground by thick metallic arms, and metal pincers connected his neck to the neck of...
"I... I didn't know if it would work, and I'm really sorry, but I was *so* scared, and..."
She looked over at her creation. It stood higher than Angel, with curved metal horns coming out of its head, and glowing red eyes. She'd modified it of course; the metal pincers being the most recent addition.
"I couldn't figure out what to do, and then I remembered all the parts I've been putting together over the last few months." Willow could tell the metal pincers were starting to dig in, but too slowly. She'd been unsure as to the correct strength of the motor behind it -- it looked like it should have been stronger. It was cutting in *really* slowly. "It's got sensors that are activated by large moving shapes with a below average body temperature, and a few other things... Only a limited AI right now, but some of the bits and pieces I got from that android that was dating Buffy mother were really interesting and I've got some of those in there too."
Willow realized that she was babbling.
Sounds were coming from Angel's throat, but none of them loud enough to wake up her parents. She stepped back out of the range of his feet as he kicked about trying to get free.
"I'm really, really sorry Angel, but you were going to kill me and I was so *scared* -- and I know you aren't really our Angel anymore." She paused. "I really liked you, and I'm sorry about this. I'm really sorry, but I don't want to die...."
The metal pincers were starting to close. Willow shut her eyes firmly shut.
Willow heard a sound like flesh hitting against metal as Angel continued to struggle, and then a soft explosion of air. Bits of dust fell against her face.
She was going to have to clean up her room and change her bed before she'd be able to get to sleep tonight -- if she could sleep at all.
"I'm so sorry."
"So very sorry."
A cool trinkle of coins started falling down his pant leg as the hole he'd been fooling with in his pocket suddenly assumed the size of the Grand Canyon.
Xander started jumping up and down on one leg, fully aware of the impression he was probably making in the school hallway, but for one brief moment, not really caring. All things considered, him making a bigger fool of himself than he usually did wasn't high on his list of priorities.
With the last of them shaken out, he squatted down and started picking them up again. Coins were a too valuable vending machine resource to waste on whatever lowly tenth-grader came along.
He never saw the hand coming.
Catching him off balance, the shove landed him flat on his butt and the coins scattered in a wide circle around him. "What the... !"
The cackle of laughter sent shivers down his back and he turned to catch sight of a too familiar back. "That's just great." It looked like Kyle was back from his little trip of *intensive counselling* and none the better in behaviour for a little animal possession and cannibalism. Xander carefully stood up and started moving down the hall again.
The money just wasn't worth it.
His mood, far from bright to begin with, quickly lapsed into self-pity and anger. Without even bothering to stop by his locker room to drop off his books, Xander found himself in the library -- an empty one. Either Buffy and Giles were out fighting demons and hadn't told him, or there just wasn't any after school fighting for him to interrupt and catch Buffy wearing spandex.
The thought of Buffy wearing spandex quickly turned into a series of images about a whole bunch of girls in various pieces of clothing. Cordelia featured highly, which both annoyed him more and increased his...
Xander flopped into one of the library chairs and started to stare at the ceiling. Things were different. He'd just started getting used to who was checking out whom, and the whole ball of wax started being tossed in six different shades of the Hellmouth. Giles and Ms. Calender weren't speaking, his bestest friend Willow was chasing after that hairy Oz fellow, and Angel was...
"Angel is a bloodsucking, violent, psychopathic demon who's a complete asshole."
The worst part of it was he knew Buffy still loved the creep, or past creep, or the creep's now-gone soul, or ... "Hell."
Xander contemplated going home and scrounging a meal out of the cold pizza that was now getting moldy on the kitchen counter. His parents were gone on another trip to La-La land, leaving "you're old enough now" Xander to take care of himself. Not that he'd ever done anything but.
He could go over to Willow's and talk her into helping him with his homework. If she wasn't "out". Her parents were probably freaking with joy that their darling daughter was finally going out with someone who wasn't so obviously "goy". Not that his parents had ever even remotely tried to teach him some religion beyond some crystal energy therapy and bouts of yoga.
Pushing his chair back with a screeched that echoed through the empty library, Xander started towards his stash. He didn't know if Giles knew about it yet, but the drawer had become a repository of Ho-Ho's, Twinkies and chocoate bars.
He stuck around until he could hear all the doors of the school being locked and then went out and got the rest of his books from his locker. Staring at mind-twisting algebra here was better than staring at it at home. Maybe if he was lucky some of the knowledge from the books around him would seep into his brain.
Setting his books all around him, he picked up his pen and looked at the incomprehensible notes he'd taken earlier that day. Willow wasn't even here to figure out what he'd written. Slamming the math shut, Xander opened up the book of American History. There was a test in two days, and putting the textbook under his pillow at night didn't seem to be helping. He started to read, and....
Woke up to a giant crick in his neck, and the textbook lying in a crumpled heap on the floor. Except for the dim light from the school halways, and scattered reflections from the outside spotlights, the room was in darkness. With a slightly twitching hand, he flipped on the light on the table nearby. At least the school hadn't been able to replace the last security guard, a fact that wasn't common knowledge among the students, but one that Giles had passed on.
Shaking his head, he went over to his store of junk food again and pulled out a can of forbidden pop. Giles would have fit about the possibility of some fizzy sugarly slop being spilled in his precious sanctum, but the old bookworm wasn't around to complain. Munching on his fourth chocolate bar of the day, he filched out the extra set of keys Willow had made some months ago, and opened Giles' office.
The place was an immaculate mess. Piles of books lines up neatly, with bits and pieces of scrap paper marking Giles' latest finds. Notebooks piled up firmly against the wall, and dust layered thickly on the rows of school texts in the back shelf that he'd never bothered to change from the previous tenant.
Xander opened a couple of the books, but quickly lost interest when he realized that he didn't even know what language the books were in. He dropped them back onto the pile in disgust and left the room with a scowl blackening his face.
He was useless. A moron whose only role was to go out for junk food and annoy Cordelia. His parent's barely knew he existed, his best friend was ignoring him and about the only help he was to Buffy was as bait for whatever freak was in Sunndydale that week.
He never saw the hand coming....
The table rushed towards him, and Xander found himself flying over it and tumbling painfully to the ground on the other side. A ragged gasp excaped him as he turned as quickly as he could.
The demon was grinning at him. A red haze of anger rushed through Xander with a speed and force that pushed aside the fear.
"So the dead guy's visiting the library again. Finished playing koochikoo with your old friends, and back to see if you still know how to read now that you better half has split?"
"You always were a stupid waste of time." The demon's grin faded, but Xander could still see the amusement in his eyes.
"Well, you were... were... "
"Tongue-tied? Do you want me to straighten it out for you?"
Xander looked at the familiar face with no sense of recognition and finally realized how stupid he'd been in the past. Hating Angel all those months, after Jesse had been killed by a vampire when... he didn't even know the monster in front of him.
But it knew him, and Buffy was nowhere around to save his sorry ass.
Adreneline rushed through his body, and he started to run. The next few moments were a confused rush of flying books, being slammed into walls and the sinking feeling that Angelus was playing with him.
Xander spotted the open doorway and made a flying rush to get past the metal sides. He didn't care if it was a dead end, he just needed to....
Angel was in front of him. Laughing.
With an inarticulate scream Xander used all his momentum to slam into him. They both fell back, but Xander was the first out. Angelus was taking his time playing with his latest toy and then it was too late.
The door of the cage slammed shut and Xander frantically pulled the almost-forgotten keys from his pocket. The key broke off in the lock just as Angelus started shaking the metal. His face had twisted up and the metal was groaning.
But it was holding. Xander mentally thanked every extra second that he'd spent helping Giles to rebuild and reinforce the cage after the hyenas tore it down.
"This won't hold me." There was hate in his eyes, and he wasn't smiling anymore. "I'm going to get out, and then I'm going to tear you into little pieces."
Angelus dropped his arms, and took a step back. "Maybe I'll hide a piece here, and a piece there... just so Buffy and her st-st-stuttering Watcher will get presents again and again... At least until I kill them too."
"Shut up!" The keys dropped from his hands and Xander started to back away. This was his chance to get Giles or Buffy. He had to get to a phone and call before he lost his nerve and decided to just start running from the school.
He felt those eyes on his back every step to Giles' office. He was there before he realized the keys were on the floor right in front of the cage.
Xander forced himself to go back.
"Did I ever tell you that a Slayer's blood is *delicious*? I was planning on draining every last drop out of Buffy after I kill her. Maybe hang her upside down and gut her like a pig." The smile was back. "Maybe I'll have a party. Invite Spike, Drusilla and the whole gang."
"I hate you." It was softly spoken, but he knew the demon had heard him. He picked up the keys and headed back for the office. Angelus had started laughing.
There wasn't any answer at Giles' place.
Xander stared at the phone and tried to figure out what to do. He could keep trying Giles until he finally came back from whereever he'd gone, or he could call someone else. Willow or Ms. Calendar or Cordelia or Oz or ... Buffy.
He knew he should call her. She was the Slayer. It was her job -- but he couldn't do that to her. Not now. Not against Angelus. He couldn't let him hurt her anymore.
He would just have to wait until Giles came back to his house or to the library in the morning. He could handle this like a man and not go running to hide behind a woman's skirts.
Xander surrounded himself with a mound of stakes, crossbows, maces and a bottle of what was probably holy water. Then he tried to phoning Giles -- over, and over, and over.
He fell asleep again a bit after three in the morning, to the accompaniment of whispers and threats heard through the open door to the next room. Dreams of blood and death kept him company. He fell asleep....
And awoke to screams.
The room was bright again, and light was coming in through the library skylight. Xander knocked over the pile of sharpened wood on the desk, and after grabbing a crossbow, hurried into the next room.
The light had reached the corner of the small metal cage where Angelus had squeezed himself. It was starting to move up his legs.
The screams stopped.
"You're dead! You're all dead! Walking bags of blood that deserve to be ripped apart and splashed through the air!"
Where the light touched, tendrils of smoke rose thickly. It was started to fill the area where Angelus stayed and diffused the early morning light to a pearly glow.
"You are nothing! Spike and Drusilla will come, or others in an endless tide that you have *no* hope of winning." Angelus' face creased in a pained grimace for a moment before smoothing out again. "She cannot stand against all of us. It won't be long. A careless moment. A turned back and she will be dead."
"You're the one who's going to die." Xander felt limp with relief. Angelus wasn't going to kill him. Angelus *couldn't* kill him.
"Are you going to tell her that you killed me? She still *loves* me." Angelus started to laugh. "I have that to comfort me -- along with the knowledge it won't be long before she's dead." The sunlight had almost filled the box, and the smoke was making it hard to see.
The metal groaned as Angelus threw himself against it. Weakened bolts... snapped and the door came crashing down.
Xander felt hands around his neck... and then a soft silt covered his face and body.
And the day began.
Author's note: For some weird reason, this is one of my favs.
Cordelia increased the pressure on the accelerator, and wished angrily that the car had an ejection passenger seat.
Then she started mentally listing the people she'd send into the stars above. Number one on the list was its current occupant, Hope.
"... saw the yellow one on sale at Saks, and just *knew* I had to have it, so I talked to Daddy and he put it on his plastic." She smiled vacantly in Cordelia's direction, and continued flipping through her fashion magazine. "I know that you have one like it, but this was at *Saks*! You don't mind, right?"
"If I wanted to be your twin, I'd get a bottle of peroxide and drink enough vodka martinis to kill 3 billion brain cells and be at your intellectual level. What do you *think*?" Cordelia pressed on the accelerator some more. "You *know* I'm planning on wearing my new yellow dress to the party."
"Yeah, but I *really* like the dress. You don't mind, right? You're just saying you mind, but you really don't -- right?"
Her voice had taken a tone that was starting to grate on Cordelia's nerves. She'd accepted Hope into her group almost two weeks ago, and had regretted it almost immediately. Sure, she knew how to properly do her makeup, and had knowledge of all the best places to eat in San Francisco, but had an inability to see that when Cordelia told her to do something, you *did* it. Sure, she'd lost a few members due to various unfortunate Sunnydale High accidents, but you had to have *some* standards.
"Hey! Cute guy!" Hope was pointing out the window at someone standing at the side of the road, probably looking for a ride. Cordelia didn't get a good look at him as she flashed by. He didn't stand a chance of getting picked up -- not on a back road this late at night.
The next thing she knew, Hope was screaming and the car was starting to lurch all over the road.
An arm punched through the top of the car, and grabbed Hope's hair. It pulled her upwards, screams and all, until her head forced its way through the roof. Reams of blood streamed downward, and splattered all over both the interior and Cordelia -- who was frantically swerving the car back and forth in an effort to shake him off.
And she had a pretty good idea who "he" was. She'd heard about Theresa from Buffy. Gotten a warning to limit her time at the Bronze and not to invite any strangers into her house. She'd ignored the first, since a social death was *not* preferable to a real one, but she'd tried to talk to her parents about the latter. They'd just ignored her -- per usual.
Now a vampire was on top of her car, and ruining the interior! Cordelia swerved the car in a semi-circle and floored the car. Maybe she could get to Buffy's home in time. Buffy might be there. Buffy could handle it. She was good at killing things.
She forced herself to stay angry. Staying angry prevented her from being terrified, and pushed aside thoughts of what was happening to Hope. She was not going to be killed just to punish Buffy. She was too *important* to die like that!
Hope's moans, faintly heard above the roars of the car's engine, stopped.
She slammed on the brakes.
A dark clad body flew over the roof and rolled on the ground in front of the car. Hope's body fell back into the car and slumped limply to one side.
Cordelia knew exactly what to do.
Without giving herself time to think, or him to react, Cordelia pushed the accelerator to the floor and ran over him.
She winced as the car shifted up and down, but then she was past him. Cordelia looked into the rear view mirrow.
The bastard was getting up.
Shifting into reverse, she aimed at him and smiled in satisfaction as he hit the rear bumber with a sound that would make any insurance agent wince. She slowed down to let the body drop, and then drove over him again.
And then again... and again... and again.
Hope's head had moved over to rest on Cordelia's lap. When she pushed her over towards the passenger seat, her hand came away covered in blood.
So she ran over him again.
He wasn't moving.
Cordelia thought about driving away. She could. Angel wasn't moving, and she could go and get Buffy. Absently, she wiped the blood on her hand against the car seat. Then she thought about what he could do to her later if he managed to get away before she got back with Buffy -- and ran over him again just for safety's sake.
Parking a few feet away, Cordelia left the engine running and opened her door wide before cautiously stepping out and popping the trunk latch. She reached inside for the tent bag she'd started keeping inside a couple of months before. The orange clashed with the sporty red of her car, but she'd firmly ignored her friends comments when they saw it, and left it there.
Unzipping the bag, she reached for one of the wooden tent pegs and the hammer. The pegs were painted the same fluorescent orange colour as the bag and the tent itself but she doubted that mattered.
Cordelia walked over to where Angel's body lay. Both his legs were bent at impossible angles, and his face was... She forced herself to place the peg on his chest and gave the top an experimental "tap".
It didn't even go through the leather jacket he was wearing.
Her hands were shaking, but she unsnapped the jacket and replaced the tent peg. Then she took a firmer grip on the hammer. She hadn't used one since that ridiculous mandatory "Industrial Arts" course in the seventh grade.
This time it went in. The sound as it did made her shiver.
Hitting the peg as hard as she could, it took a couple more swings before it was almost though him. The body jerked upwards with each blow, and with the amount of resistance she'd probably hit bone. She stepped back and waited for his body to disappear.
Cordelia ran back to the car, got another tent peg, and then rushed back.
"Okay, okay. I took Biology 11 this term. Remember the quiz on human anatomy? I got 76 on that test! I should know where the hell the heart is!" She placed the peg to the right of the first one and about an inch apart.
And screamed when something grabbed her foot.
Looking down, she saw Angel's smashed face break out into a twisted grin as he steadily increased the pressure on her ankle. "Cordelia..."
Cordelia kept on screaming as she slammed the hammer down again.
She whimpered as she felt her ankle twist and break under his grip.
And she moaned as his body turned to dust and left her lying in the middle of the road in violent pain and covered in blood.
Author's note: What? Angelus had to have at least *one* word! < EG >
The Rom had arrived the night before and set up their campers, their tents and their pickups. Suddenly there was a small flourishing colony on a field whose owner was away for the week.
Jenny had found out they were coming only a couple of hours before their arrival. Since then, she'd been greeted by long-lost relatives, eaten the copious amounts of food thrust upon her and... become completly frustrated by not being able to get a straight answer as to why they had come. The whole camp had an air of an impromtu family reunion as if those who had settled down into different cities had felt the urge to join their more mobile cousins.
But there wasn't a single person under sixteen in the camp.
She had a good idea anyway as to the "who" if not the "why" behind their unexpected visit. Sunnydale wasn't on any caravan route -- in fact, it was normally given a wide berth. It was an area spoken of in whispers, and used as a threat to the children when they misbehaved.
None of them wanted to be here. Not even her.
The list of reasons she listed every morning as to why she hadn't left were growing more fragile every day. Her contract to teach at Sunnydale high was one she put at the top; despite the fact that her teaching certificate was forged, and it hadn't been signed under her real name. The apartment and her belongings could be disgarded as easily as packing up a couple of boxes. They were mementos of a person she had tried to be, not who she truly was.
Then there was Angel -- or Angelus, as she tried to think of him. Angel -- her reason for originally being assigned to the area when she'd tried to get away from the family's influence, was no more. The curse that had held the demon in check for so long was gone, and as much as she tried, she could find no way to cast it again.
The demon had killed too many of that clan, and the old chovihani who'd cast the curse had died shortly afterwards. Nobody could tell her how the old witch had done it, nor did they seem to care. Unfortunately, this was a fact that Giles wouldn't believe. Not when she couldn't get him to speak more than two words to her. He was ignoring her with a persistence that reminded her of the days they first met through the teacher's lounge. At least then she had the knowledge it was her subject area that he disliked, and not....
He had stood by Buffy and rejected her. In the end, she had known that it would come to that. She might have laid claim to a part of his heart, but Buffy had his soul.
What made it all so frustrating was how jovial everyone insisted on being. Still, she'd managed to get into two arguments already with her cousin Andros; it was just like old times. She didn't fit in anymore -- if she ever had.
Yells brought her out of her reverie.
There was a commotion at the other side of the camp. Jenny jumped off the picnic table where she'd been sitting and started heading over.
A tall dark form moved to block her way.
"Don't leave. It's still early."
He moved and light from one of the small campfires played against his beautiful face.
"I go by Angel these days." He smiled charmingly. "You have to move with the times."
"What did you do?" Jenny was amazed at how calm her voice was. Just like that time one of her students had come in dusted, and she'd had to try and talk him out of slamming all the computer monitors against the wall. She could handle it. She could... die.
"Nothing really. Just a present to keep them occupied while you and I have a little... talk." One arm moved up, and he leaned against the camper. The epitome of casual. "It was like old times. I'll be gone before they even realize I'm still here."
"What do you want with me then?"
He shrugged. "The eternal question. What *does* a good looking vampire who's already fed want?"
His face shifted; fire shimmered in his eyes.
"I don't *ever* want this body's soul coming back. It's *mine* now! No one is going to take it from me again!"
Before Jenny could think of moving towards a weapon, he forced her against the camper. The hand against her throat lifted her a foot off the ground. The world narrowed to the awkward angle of her neck, and the brand of pain around it.
Stars swam in front of her, and the moon shone full and bright. It was such a beautiful night.
"You're going to die, and then Giles is going to die, and then everyone else Buffy cares about." He was smiling. She couldn't see him, but she could hear it in his voice. "It's just what I do for fun. *Everybody* has to have a hobby."
The air thrummed, and Jenny found herself falling awkwardly to the ground. Angelus had turned around and was trying to pull an arrow out of his back.
For a moment, Jenny flashed back to Giles pulling out the arrow she'd shot him with and could have smiled.
Angelus had started to move away from her, when the next arrow was released. Then a small volley of arrows. His back and legs were starting to look like a pincussion. Some of them shone a shiny metallic blue, but most had the look of custom made wooden shafts. Angelus was still staggering awkwardly away.
Jenny scrambled to her feet, and ran over to her cousin Andros. He held another arrow ready to be released. "No!"
"Be quiet! He must die!"
Jenny felt arms around her, holding her back. A voice whispered into her ear. "Mariam is dead; the demon killed her." It was Terry; Mariam's younger brother.
Andros had released the arrow, and watched in satisfaction as it hit its target.
"No," Jenny said. "We can capture him. Curse him again!" Buffy would never forgive her if Angel died... Giles might not forgive her.
"That time is past. He must pay for killing us, and tonight he will." Andros stepped closer, and gently touched her cheek. "I'm sorry, Janna. We could not curse him again even if we wanted to. You know that, and you know this is the way our vengence *must* end."
Angelus had fallen to the ground, and a large group of Rom had surrounded him. None of the arrows had penetrated his heart, or he would be dead. They weren't trying to drive one through the heart -- that would be too quick.
Jenny looked at Andros.
Janna looked at Andros.
She felt her heart tear in two. It was over, and she couldn't see a way to mend it. She would never belong in Sunnydale again.
"It's over," said Andros.
"Yes. It's over." Janna stood up straight as Terry released her.
Old Dano had lit a wooden torch, and handed it to her. Giving Angel's assigned watcher the priviledge of seeing to his end.
Janna walked towards the body on the ground. Angelus was on his stomach; still trying to crawl away.
She dropped the torch on top of him.
They all watched him burn.
"So what are we doing tonight?" Spike wheeled around a group of boxes, and turned his wheelchair so that he was facing Angel. The old bastard was looking lazy tonight, still lying limply down on top of a set of crates from his daytime snooze.
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try and take over the world!"
Angel sat up, and then jumped off the boxes -- deliberately landing a shade too close to Spike's wheelchair. He ran his hand through Spike's crewcut hair and sauntered off.
"Arrogant blowhard." Spike shifted back a foot and then turned the chair to follow Angelus.
The old bastard was starting to get to him. Friendship and a shared love of killing and torture were all well and good, but he didn't like the way he was looking at Dru these days. Drusilla had been Angelus' long before she'd hooked up with him. His toy, prize and plaything all rolled up in one. Spike knew he shouldn't be worried. It wasn't right -- Drusilla was his. She loved him.
After all, she might have *loved* Angelus, but she didn't *love* him. But then she liked killing people too and he wasn't much help in that department lately.
The jealous thoughts were twisting him apart. He felt like throwing up blood and making Angelus eat it -- and not in a nice way either.
Moving into the main room, he saw them together. Dru was playing random keys on the synthesizer that was Angelus had brought over, and he was now listening intently to whatever she was saying.
"... because all the mice were dead, and the cat couldn't play anymore." She nodded. Looking beautiful and cheerful. When Drusilla looked that cheerful it usually meant that things would be dead very soon.
They would probably go to for a wild night on the town leaving him behind like a bad puppy.
And the worst part of this whole miserable evening was that his wheelchair was starting to squeak.
Dru was looking beautifully dead in a long black evening gown with greenish-purple spiders running all over it. He'd bought it for her in Prague. She loved twisting her body about and trying to count them.
He'd even found a small pile of real spiders on his bed one evening as a gift.
Spike realized that he couldn't take the chance Angel might try to take her away from him.
He was going to have to kill him.
And he needed to get Drusilla's help or he might as well just stake himself and get it over with.
"How long are you planning on hiding out in here, while the Slayer kills us off one by one?" Spike paused. "You're not going soft on me again, are you? Too many care bear feelings coming on?"
"Spike!" Drusilla rushed forward, and planted herself on his lap. If he hadn't set the brake, it would have rolled embarrassingly backwards. "You're awake, and it's evening, and it's dark outside, and I feel like .... *something* red and plump!."
She stretched up, and started picking through his hair for lice even though it had been a hundred years since the last time she'd found any. Spike wondered if she'd ever done that with Angel.
Angel, on the other hand, seemed to be ignoring his words. He shut off the synthesizer, and picked up his leather jacket.
"Well? I've heard you only made one kill so far... and that was of a girl Buffy hardly knew. Where's the Angel I knew and respected? Still thinking about getting back into her bed? Maybe thinking of getting a permanent arrangement?"
Drusilla hissed, and jumped off his lap. "My Angel wouldn't go for her!." She grabbed hold of Angel's lapels, and leaned against him. "Would you?"
"I'm in no hurry." He wasn't even angry. "It been too long since I've been able to enjoy myself. I'll kill her when *I* want to."
Spike rolled forwards. "You don't sound so sure, mate. She might be a pretty little thing, but long-term? Next thing I know, we'll be going to Reno for the ceremony, and you'll be asking me to be the best man."
"I hear she's still wearing the ring you gave her."
Angel pushed Drusilla aside, and stepped closer. He fairly loomed over him. "You have no say in whatever I do. You never did. You never *will*." He laid a hand on Spike's chest and pushed him back a couple of feet. The brakes screeched protestingly against the concrete floor.
"But it *is* my business as long as you're staying here."
"Your name isn't on the lease... Even if the rats do *provide*." He smirked; one of his best. "You're not still imagining yourself in charge here? I have no intention of taking orders from you." He ran his eyes over Spike. "You couldn't even get away from a fat Bishop with a weak heart."
"I'm not going to be in this chair forever."
"Really? I haven't seen you making any great strides lately." He slung his hands into his jacket, and started to walk towards Spike. "Maybe I should put you out of your misery."
Angel didn't have any warning. One second Drusilla was staring at the ceiling, and the next the demon inside her was fully apparant and she was attached to his back.
His counterattack was swift, and soon the two vampires were viciously rolling and struggling all over the floor.
Spike twisted around, and grabbed the water pistol from underneath back pillow. Then he took out the water blaster he'd found at one of the large toy stores from the bag behind the chair. Wariness and preparation paid off again.
He waited until Angelus had Dru pinned on the floor, and then stood up awkwardly. Taking a hesitant step forward, he placed the gun on the back of Angel's neck.
"You're not hurting my precious Dru." Spike squeezed, and let the contents spurt out all over Angel's head. A few drops fell on his hand, and he ignored the feel of the holy water burning into his skin.
Angel screamed, and rolled away from Dru.
Spike dropped the empty water pistol to the floor, and picked up the water blaster.
He thought of the time, not so long ago, when Dru had lovingly splashed holy water on Angel's chest, and Angel had tried to trick him into killing him.
Well -- Dru was all better now, and Spike didn't need him anymore.
He let the water blaster rip.
Angel's skin bubbled and burst where the holy water soaked in. He thrashed on the floor trying to get out of his drenched clothing.
Spike felt a hand run along his back. "That wasn't playing nice." She whispered into his ear. Her tongue licked out, and played along the outside rim for a few seconds.
"Do you mind?"
Spike laughed. "Good."
He turned around, and saw that Drusilla had found a sharp piece of wood.
"I get to finish him and turn him into bright sparkles!"
He grabbed her shoulders, and leaned in for a long kiss. "I wouldn't have it any other way, love."
Together, they turned around and aproached Angel.
Drusilla half supported, half carried him as they walked. She slipped an arm underneath his shirt and started caressing his back. Torture always got her excited. "Spike... how much of the nasty stuff do you have?"
"Quite a bit."
She started giggling. "Angel looks *awfully* dirty." She moved the hand down to the top of his pants. "Maybe we should give him a bath?"
"I love you, Dru."
"I love you, Spike."
The night passed, and they had a lot of fun before they drained the ash-filled water out of the tub.
Now instead of the usually warning, I give --
I can't wait to see how you have Oz do it! (Maureen)
"Um... violently?" -- Willow
"Sure. Lets go for violence. Anybody not for violence?" -- Xander
"Works for me." -- Buffy
"Well... " -- Oz
The walls in the basement were newly soundproofed.
In fact, not only were they soundproofed, but old mattresses lined the walls in one corner heavy duty shackles and lengths of chains coming out mid-wall from the crack between two mattresses. Oz had a very "understanding" family in matters like these and the renovations hadn't caused much fuss.
It was the second night of the full moon and he'd gotten his parents to *talk* to his little sister about coming downstairs first thing in the morning. The little twerp had, over breakfast, gleefully informed their parents that she'd found him naked in the basement. The last thing he needed was a miniature werewolf alongside him every month.
With a bemused smile, he started to undress and folded each piece of clothing on a chair out of the range of the chains. Last month he'd just left his clothing on, and woke up with a crick in his neck, his favorite artfully ripped jeans lying in shreds on his living room floor, and Willow being *very* understanding about whatever he'd tried to do to her that had made her shoot him with tranquilizers. He still wasn't used to the idea that, despite carrying a Y chromosome, there were days of the month that he just wasn't safe to be around.
Carefully, he snapped a chain around each wrist, and then sat down on the blanket-lined floor with a paperback. It was only a few minutes till moonrise, but he still hadn't finished Tanya Huff's "Blood Trail".
Vicky Nelson was talking to some archery expert when the world started going fuzzy. Oz checked the page number and then tossed the book over by his clothes. He started wiggling his toes -- they were getting furry and starting to hurt. His eyes were playing tricks and the colors were fading into sharp edged monochromes when his legs suddenly felt as if someone had put them in a vise and started to twist.
Then he lost consciousness.
The room smelled bad. He remembered it. Didn't like it. He moved and sharp ears tensed as the chains clicked against each other.
He growled, and gave out a sharp, short bark when he came to the end of the chain and it started digging in to his fur. Not right, not right, not right! He could feel the moon in the sky above and he wanted to run beneath it. He wanted to drink in its beauty and howl his challenge to the night air. Frustrated, he twisted about and pulled with all his might. Not right, not right, not right!
The chains held, and he started howling anyway.
The annoying cloth on the ground beneath him had been ripped to pieces and the mattresses had gained a multitude of new marks when he heard the door open.
The howling changed to growls. Low rumbles in his throat that threatened any intruder that entered his territory. Despised territory, but it was his.
The growls changed to snarls when the intruder started laughing.
"This is too amusing." It walked carefully around the periphery of the chains' length. "I didn't expect this at all." It started to chuckle. "Do you remember me?"
He remembered it. Smelled wrong. Smelled bad. Nasty. Wanted to rip it up, and spread its guts on the ground.
"You should tell your parents not to let people in to use the phone. It's a bad habit." It shrugged and then slumped casually against the wall, taunting him with its continued precence. "But from what I hear, you won't remember anything tomorrow morning anyway."
Leaping into the air, he slashed out with claws that wanted desperately to cut its face and let the blood flow forth.
"I'll do you a favor? After I'm finished with you, I'll go upstairs and *tell* them myself. They think I've left, but it will only take a few minutes to show them the error of their ways" It stalked back and forth just out of reach: teasing and taunting. Black cloth covered its surface, making it blend into the dark basement.
But he knew exactly where it was. Its face was gray in the blackness, and it smelled like rotted fruit.
"Why don't you tell them yourself?" It stood there for a minute, and then picked up the keys on top of the pile of clothing. It started twirling the keys around a finger. "I think that would be a far better *present* to Buffy than just your head on Willow's pillow."
It reached out casually and grabbed a paw. It pulled -- hard, and his body, constrained by the chains, betrayed him. He couldn't get at it. He voiced his displeasure loudly. He wanted the intruder *gone*.
"Be patient! Just a few minutes longer. I'll get out of your way, and you'll be free to rampage all you want."
One arm was free and he attacked. It moved quickly out of his way; starting to chuckle again. "You *are* out for blood tonight -- good." A painful grip caught at his arm, the pressure painful even through layers of protective fur.
Then he was free and it was running up the stairs. Joy filled him at his freedom, and he rushed after it to tear, and rip, and bite, and... It passed through a hall ahead of him, and he glimpsed a room full of startled faces. No time. It was close in front of him. Bloodlust took over and he had only one thing, one thought, one purpose.
A sharp noise hurt his ears, and then a barrier closed shut in front of him. It separated him from the nasty one. His prey.
Voices from the other room. He turned around, and took a couple of steps back until he could see them. This place smelled of them. The walls, the room, the basement. Theirs. His. His territory. His. Turning around, he rushed at the barrier and it fell before him. The night sang out, and the moon rose full and beautiful above him. Howling his joy to the night air, he started after it. The intruder who was *his* to kill.
The track was easy to follow. He ran quickly and the scent became stronger. A few minutes more, and they were in a grassy area filled with rocks that dotted the landscape in neat rows. Room to run. Loping easily, he spotted it and rushed ahead. The hunt was almost over.
It ran up to a wall, and put its arms up to vault over it. He stopped it. Stopped to make it fight. Fresh blood flew into the air as his teeth cut through cloth, and rancid flesh, and thick bone, until they met on the other side.
It was making noises now. Different noises than before. He didn't care. Shifting his grip, he bit through the other leg. it was hitting him, and now it was growling too. Good; it was a good fight. The moon smiled approvingly, as he ripped and then grabbed one arm -- and tore it out of its socket.
Blood scents filled the night air. His. Its. His. But its blood was everywhere now, and his wasn't important. Lunging forward, his jaws closed around its throat. Its remaining hand tore at his back, but it was growing weaker. He started chewing. Back and forth. Blood filled his mouth, but it was wrong -- bitter. It made him angry, and he bit through.
The head flew a few feet off, and he stood over the body. Then... the body disappeared. The blood in his mouth tasted of dust and he snorted, clearing it out. Angrily, he nosed the ground where it had been. Gone. It was gone and the air smelled better. With a short growl of disappointment, he crouched down and started licking his wounds. He was hurt.
Tiredly, he rested on all fours and closed his eyes. Tired. Rest. Rest....
Sunlight found him still in the cemetery. Fur melted away while he slept leaving pale skinned flesh behind, and only a dark mop of hair on his head. The rays warmed the cool air and played against his skin. A breeze brushed against him, waking him gently.
"Oh." Oz sat up, and looked around. He was in the cemetary. This was bad. He tried to remember what happened the night before, but couldn't. He grimaced as he noticed a bitter taste in his mouth. Spitting a couple of times seemed to get rid of most of it. "What did I eat last night?"
He hoped it wasn't something he'd be ashamed of -- or someone he knew. Sighing, he picked himself up, praying only that it was too early for anyone to be out to see him streaking back home. Moving forward, he caught his foot on something hard and sharp before he had gone two steps. "Hey! Ow!"
Oz reached down, and picked it up. Seemed to be a ring of some sort. "Huh!" Oz buffed it against his forearm. "Wonder whose this is?"
Author's Note: As I've complained to others, this was the hardest to write. Let me know if you thought it worked. This was the only one where I was sorry about killing Angelus. I *really* wanted it to have a happy ending, but that didn't feel "plausible" for a vignette. Longer fic maybe. :(
Buffy was in the apartment again.
It had started to have a disused air. Faint bits of dust on previously clean surfaces; bits and pieces lying where they'd fallen. Items of clothing, ones aparently deemed suitable, had been taken from the closets -- leaving over half the wardrobe behind.
She noticed that almost all the clothing taken was black.
This time she had brought a box with her. She hadn't told Giles she was doing this, just... that she was going hunting as usual.
The knick knacks went into the box first. Then the papers on his desk -- she'd probably give those to Giles to figure out. She rolled up a blue silk shirt and tucked it in next to a small statue that she knew he liked. Had liked... whatever.
Her eyes were started to puff up in an effort not to cry. Maybe she shouldn't be doing this.
It was just that she hated knowing that he could come in here and destroy things that she knew Angel had liked. He had Angel's body, and Angel's memories. It was probably stupid, but she couldn't let him have Angel's things too.
She searched in the bedroom till she found Mr. Gordo. He'd been recovering from the incident at the fire when she'd brought him over. She'd told him it was a little piece of her to have when she couldn't be here.
The tears started falling when she noticed that Mr. Gordo had a slit in his stomach and that most of the stuffing had been pulled out. She put what was left of him into the box.
She wanted to curl up on the bed, and have a good cry but she couldn't. Wouldn't.
The flannel shirt she was wearing soaked up the tears and she forced herself to stop. It was time to leave. She turned around, and looked at the apartment again to see if she had missed anything.
The last item, a small picture of her sitting on the grass in front of her house... She'd just come in one day about a month ago, and put it on his dresser. Told him there was no reason he shouldn't be able to see her in the sun if he wanted to. That had led to a heavy makeout session that had almost ended on the bed.
It was rumpled now. She didn't know when he had last used it. Didn't want to know.
If she knew he was still using the apartment, then she'd force herself to lie in wait. To kill him before he could hurt any more of her friends. He'd already killed Theresa. Was he going to circle in further and further? Start killing those she cared about least until he got to... What if he went after her Mom?
"Here to keep the home fires burning? Or maybe another round of wild, passionate sex?"
Angel stepped inside the room. He looked... the same as he did before. Still had a tendency towards black clothing that looked good on him. The same smile, the same eyes, the same face and the same voice.
That was the part that drove her crazy. Knowing that she had touched and loved that body for so long, and now the demon inside owned it. Unfortunately -- she was getting to know that demon too damn quick.
"I thought I'd pick up my stuff." Buffy reached back and felt for the stake that she'd slipped, as usual, into its hiding place in her back sheath. "You know the drill. Love 'em, leave 'em and then stake 'em if they ever come near me or mine again. It's a Slayer thing."
The demon was laughing. She'd *never* heard Angel laughing like that. He'd always been too worried about... everything. For a minute, she felt a pure flare of hatred.
"What would be the point of existing if you didn't kill?" He moved closer to her; still relaxed. Not expecting an attack. "Do you want to know who's next?"
She stood still, one hand on the box and the other touching the stake, as he started walking around her. Stalking around her.
"I could tell you and then you could try to protect them." He bent down close, and then whispered into her ear, "or maybe I'll just give you a hint and let you try to figure it out."
He straightened up and started to laugh again. "But then again, intelligence is not your strong suit."
"I'm good at what I need to be: fighting, tactics and killing."
"Strong words for such a little lady. Are you prepared to back it up this time?" He put a hand between her shoulder blades and pushed. "If we fight and you lose, I'm probably going to be hurt and need a little... restorative nutrition. You don't want *that* on your conscience, do you? It's probably getting awfully heavy these days."
"What's the matter? Scared to fight? Afraid you'll lose?" Buffy dropped the box onto the floor and felt the adreneline rush through her system in preparation for a fight. "Because you will."
"I don't want to kill you now. I want to hurt you, and *then* kill you."
"Right here, right now."
"Later." He was smiling again. "You don't want to die yet."
Buffy didn't bother to continue the conversation. It was time. She had been avoiding this for too long, and the only result were more deaths that she could have prevented by killing him at the mall that first time.
The kick pushed him back against the face, and Buffy watched as his face shifted to reveal the demon inside. His "game" face showing who he really was. His smile wasn't angelic anymore. Now it revealed the fangs, and his eyes betrayed the hatred lodged inside.
Angel counterattacked. And for a while there was a battle to see which would break first, Angel's heavy furniture or one of them.
A heavy sculpture served as a bat that forced Angel back, and sent blood dripping down his face.
"You'll pay for that."
Buffy didn't reply. She wanted to have some smart quote to send back, wanted to laugh and taunt him -- but she couldn't.
All she wanted was for this to be over.
He used his longer reach to his advantage, and Buffy couldn't help the groan of pain as he sent her flying across the room. She slammed into the wall and felt her spine complain violently as the hidden stake became indented into her skin.
She wanted this to be over.
The fight became a blur before her eyes. Angel wasn't someone she'd loved. He was just the "opponent". Someone she needed to kill. A red film of rage covered her eyes, and Buffy let him feel every ounce of pain she had inside her as she tried to beat him into a bloody pulp.
The tide turned, and Angel started to defend himself more and more. Buffy didn't care. She continued to hit, and kick, and punch, and throw everything she could against him.
He was lying on the floor, trying to get up.
Buffy pulled out the stake.
She lifted the silver cross from around her neck and slipped it on over his head. He started to moan as it burned into his flesh.
"You made a mistake." She hefted the stake, and then closed her eyes. She didn't need to see this. "You gave me time."
The stake plunged down into his heart.
When Buffy opened her eyes, dust covered the floor, and the tears had started again.
They fell as she rooted through the box for something she'd seen earlier.
They continued as she put a bit of the dust into the silver locket.
But they had stopped by the time she got outside into the night.
It was over.
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