By D. M. Evans

Disclaimer – Yep you guessed it. I don't own these characters. Joss does. Suing me would well get your less than nothing since I'm so far in a hole anyhow.

Rating – Strong R

Feedback – I hope so. Ripewickedplum2@yahoo.com

Summary – Darla finds an old friend in New York and invites him home.

Author's Note – This was written for the Lyric Wheel challenge and the lyrics that inspired this and were incorporated in a slightly altered form were Poe's "Wild." This was the second story I wrote for the challenge and didn't submit directly since it was too long but I hope you enjoy it here.

"The magic sings to me and the moon dances to it," Dru purred, spinning up the sidewalk. I rolled my eyes.

Spike caught her, pulling her close. "It wasn't real magic, love," he said, brushing her cheek with his lips. "You know that."

Dru pouted at him but at least she wasn't making a scene on Broadway any more. "Perhaps we can come back and see Houdini again, Dru," I said and Spike smiled gratefully at me.

Ever since I had banished Angelus from our group we had been drifting. I mourned the loss of my beautiful Angelus, damn those gypsies. Dru had become particularly difficult to deal with, always going on about missing her Daddy. That never failed to set Spike off. He always was jealous that Angelus had more control of our family than he did. Now Spike strutted around, puffing himself up like the peacock he was. We all grew further apart with each rising of the moon.

I lived on Park Avenue in a mansion. Spike lived closer to the Five Corners, or at least that's what it used to be called, I'm not sure if it is any more. Still, it was an infernal pit. Spike liked pretending he was as rough as any of the gangsters in the Corners and in truth he was becoming like them, violent and wild. Angelus was starting to respect Spike when it all went wrong. Now he kept poor Dru in that house in the slums where the feeding was plentiful if not good. I think Dru would rather live with me in my expensive home but she is so besotted with Spike she'd never leave him.

I'm glad of it. I've never liked Dru or Spike much. I would have preferred James and Elizabeth as my traveling companions. I've always been a social creature. Being alone made me somehow nervous. Damn Angelus for making me live alone. And I would be alone soon enough. Spike had come to realize he couldn't wheedle his way into my bed and was starting to challenge me on everything. A parting of the ways was inevitable.

But tonight we'll make our way up Broadway, picking off stragglers from the shows for good disease-free blood then go our separate ways back to our homes. Dru shrugged free of Spike and danced up the street again. I wrinkled my nose as someone particularly pungent moved past us, like something long dead crawled out of the earth. Beggars liked to make Broadway their territory and why not? Most patrons of the arts had money. I'd give him some if he'd move his stink downwind of me. Of course it was cheaper to just not breathe. The vagrant moved past us, nearly rolling over us, probably too drunk to see. There was something terribly familiar about his broad shoulders, one set slightly higher than the other, and his lank dark hair. Spike and I both turned, looking after the vagabond.

"Darla, was that your boy?" Spike fished for his silver cigarette holder.

We both knew it was. Under the stench hung Angelus' soft scent. I knew the way he walked. I didn't want to think that this was my boy with the face like an angel. How low could he have fallen and how fast?

"You go worry about Dru," I snapped at Spike who smirked at me. "We won't be hunting together tonight."

I didn't even wait to see what Spike was going to do. I took off after Angelus and I heard Spike call after me, "Tell Peaches to take a bath." Just shut up Spike and take care of Dru.

It wasn't easy to catch up to him. I couldn't match his stride even though the skirt to my evening gown was voluminous, green silk with an overskirt of creamy lace embroidered with flowers. The Grecian-style top was decorated with brilliant red silk roses as was the hem of the gown and another band of roses encircled my knees. Not needing to breath meant I could corset myself tightly, making me the epitome of fashion but it was not the garb in which to try and run down another hunter. My heels clattered loudly and finally they attracted his attention. Angelus turned, seeming to wear a cloak of solid stench. Under the dirt stood the gorgeous cheekbones I had fallen for, the jut of his prominent nose, the strange lips that looked better smirking than smiling. I had missed those dark expressive eyes.

"Angelus," I whispered. He blinked at me as if he hadn't ever seen me before. Blankness rapidly went to anger.

"Leave me alone, Darla," he rasped out, his voice so rough I wondered when he last used it.

"I can't believe you're here. In a city as big as New York, what are the chances of you crossing my path." I touched him as if to prove he was real.

"Apparently too good," he said and it honestly hurt. I was surprised that he could wound me so easily.

"You look terrible, Angelus. Come home with me. Let me take care of you." As soon as those words left my mouth I regretted them. It came out all wrong. I knew he didn't need that despite appearances and he would resent it. I wasn't the motherly type but there was some small part of me that wanted to care for my boy, rescue him from this terrible depth he had fallen to.

His eyes held disdain in them. "Charity? You?"

"Come back for me." I ran a hand over arm, feeling the coarseness of his clothes through the lace of my shoulder high gloves. "I missed you."

I watched the muscles of his jaw and neck tighten and release as he swallowed hard. That had hit home with him. Even filthy, he was handsome enough to take my breath away if I had any. He was considering it. I could see the emotions roiling in his eyes. He had missed me as well. His body sagged a bit and he took my hand, squeezing gently.

I thought for a moment that he might put me on his arm and walk with me like a proper gentleman. I didn't want his reek rubbing off on my dress. But he didn't. He just walked by my side to the corner and hailed a carriage. The driver gave us a hostile, curious look and I didn't blame him, an obviously wealthy woman with a vagrant with an undesirably Irish accent.

The ride to my home was in silence. I used to be good at reading Angelus but since the ensoulment, he was a mystery to me. I hated it. I abhorred that there were still feelings singing in my dead heart for him. I should be above that. Men have caused me nothing but trouble my whole life but I knew how to manipulate them. I was expert at using them. Still, there was something special about Angelus. I knew it even before I first spoke to him, back when I was stalking him like prey.

When we alit at my Park Avenue home, Angelus looked at it, taking a slow appraisal of the large home then glanced over at me appreciatively. He recognized the gift he had given me. I wasn't living in caves and ruins like I had with the Master.

Ushering him inside, I touched his arms, stopping him by the grand stairwell. "Upstairs is the bath."

He didn't hesitate or seem offended. He moved as if his body was truly lifeless. His huge feet tramped up the steps, leaving crumbs of mud and horse apples on the wool carpeting and streaks of filth on the silk wallpaper as he stumbled against it twice. He was starving, despite the bulk he still maintained. I had seen it in his hollow eyes in the carriage. I roused my maids to heat water for his bath and to clean my stairs.

Angelus didn't wait for the maids to heat the water fully. He lowered himself into the tub and waited for them to pour water over him. I half hoped the sight of his sculpted body would tantalize a maid enough to flirt with him. I prayed he would drink her down.

But since I wasn't entirely sure he would, I went back out on the street. At this hour in my rich neighborhood, there was little prey. Finally I found an officer on patrol and drained him into the carafe I had brought along. It wouldn't be the same but it was the best I could do.

Angelus was still dissolving layers of grime off himself when I got back. I took the time to arrange a few more things like wine glasses for the blood. I opened a trunk I had hidden in the back of my closet. I wasn't sure why I had it still. It was as if I had been expecting Angelus to come home to me at any moment. Now my moment had arrived. I took out my favorite suit of his and laid it on my bed. I had instructed the maids to burn the clothes he was wearing.

I was just going to check on him when I heard him padding up behind me, still toweling off his hair. I watched his muscles ripple, the gentle sway of his manhood. He smiled wickedly as he passed me. My eyes raked over his back, the curve of his buttocks, and lingered on the tattoo on his shoulder.

"Thank you, Darla," he said softly as he pulled on trousers.

I put my arms around him, kissing that bizarre tattoo. "I've food from the butchers," I lied but he seemed willing to believe that I had a late night butcher at my disposal.

"I'd like that."

I let him finish dressing. I could always peel him out of those clothes later. I poured out two wine glasses of blood then motioned for him to sit on the bed with me. He did so and took the glass. He paused at the first sip, his face screwing up. There was no mistaking the taste of human blood. He knew what it was but after that hesitation he drank it down in greedy swallows.

"How did this happen?" I put my hand over his. From the look on his face I knew he understood I meant his appearance.

"You were right to send me away, Darla. I'm not good to you or Dru. I'm no good to anyone. It's better this way," he said, spreading his hands.

"I don't believe that. You are so much better than this. You are one of the most magnificent hunters there ever was." I believed it. I was proud of birthing this evil. Of all the children I've sired, Angelus was the finest.

"I was," he whispered. "You don't know, Darla. You can't understand. I hear them in my head, see them accusing me."

He shuddered and I hugged him close, kissing his clean cheek. "I'm so sorry."

"I can't kill them, Darla. I want to, need to but I can't. I know what will happen to me, the price of that killing."

"What do you care, Angelus? They're food, just like cattle. Do you see them crying when they bite into a steak?" That was harsher than I meant it to be. Then again, I was remembering why I had put him out in the first place. I couldn't handle him whining and wailing over the poor humans.

"It's different, Darla and you know it is."

I did in some vague way. That soul thing. And I knew I couldn't push him further on this topic. I wouldn't win, at least not tonight. "You're right but that doesn't explain you living like this."

"I'm a monster. How should I live?"

"Better than this," I argued.

"It looks like you're living well." He ran a hand over the bedspread. "I saw Spike and Dru with you."

"They don't live here. We're about ready to go our own ways."

His head bobbed but I wasn't sure he was listening. "I'm glad Dru has someone to look out for her."

"It's terrible to be alone," I said softly.

His eyes met mine. Sorrow poured out of them, filling me. "I know." He glanced away. "You kept my clothes."

I didn't dare tell him sometimes I wrapped a pillow in his shirts just to pretend he was there. "I was hoping you'd come back to where you belonged."

He laughed bitterly. "I have no place, Darla, not here, not anywhere."

"I wish I could prove you wrong." I kissed him and he returned the kiss, almost surprising me. I expected him to resist further. The kiss had no fire, though, like it was something he was doing merely out of habit.

I sat back. "That proved nothing."

Those walnut eyes fixed on me. "I know you too well, Darla. You know how to get what you want. You could probably tell me you love me in a way that I'd believe it but I haven't forgotten all the times you left me behind to save yourself."

"I always came back for you." That wasn't entirely true. I was in love with myself over all else. But I did love Angelus in my own way.

"Yes, just like tonight." He got up. "I should go."

"I'd rather you stay." I grabbed his hand. "For more than just tonight."

I could see the temptation in his eyes. He savored my words like sweet fruit. "It won't work, Darla. You'd come to resent me soon enough and you'd want me gone."

"Maybe so but we won't know that if we don't try. Stay for a while. Enjoy a soft bed. If you won't do it, let me kill for you or we can go to the butcher's shop for animal blood."

"Listen to yourself, Darla. You're offering me the same thing you threw me out for. We've already tried it and it didn't work." He started for the door.

"Angelus, please." I reached for him in spite of myself. "I sacrificed so much for you, the least you could do is give me a few days to prove myself." Where had that come from? Somewhere deep down I felt it but I didn't need to resort to cheapness like playing on his guilty feelings.

His eyebrows raised, a sneer playing on his lips. "Sacrifices? I can't think of one thing you've give up for me."

My nails tore into the sheets as I tried not to hurt him. "Nothing? What about my place at the Master's side?" I snarled, the bones of my face shifting.

My angel looked suitably abashed. In most cases trading one man for another didn't truly amount to much but I had left one of the most powerful vampires ever to exist. I had given up a great position of power to be with Angelus and I had done it gambling on him one day taking the Master's place. And he would have if not for this damn soul.

"The Master would take you back," Angelus said quietly as if he knew how tacky that suggestion was.

"I'm not going back," I said with a flip of my hair. I might go back but not now, not so soon after losing Angelus. That would be humiliating. If I went back it would be on my terms as my own woman. Things were different now, not like they had been when I was mortal. I had been my own woman then, wealthy enough. So what if I had gotten there on my back? What recourse did a lone woman have nearly three hundred years ago? Mortal women were living in exciting times right now. They had taught me I didn't need a man but damn it, I wanted one.

Angelus and I just stared at one another for long moment like time standing still. My face shifted back to human. I went over to him, running a hand along his strong jaw. We were made for each other. We both knew this. And I wanted him to stay in equal measures with wanting him gone. He probably felt the same.

"Dawn is coming. At least stay the day so I know you're safe," I said.

He sucked my fingers into his mouth, nibbling them. I sat back on the bed with him. He nuzzled my neck and I pulled him close, pushing his face toward my bosom. He pressed against the silk of my gown, wrapping his arms around me tightly. I lost track of how long we clung to each other. There was nothing sexual to it, just loneliness thudding like the beating of a heart.

Then I felt his fingers on my back, probing to find a way under the silk and lace to the corset beneath. I got up and removed my dress, laying it over a dressing chair carefully. Angelus got up, going behind me. He pawed open my corset ravenously. I remembered these moods of his. If I didn't slow him down, he'd toss me on the bed, underskirts over my head, and have at it like I didn't even really exist for him. I think it made it easier for him to be a monster and sometimes he needed that.

I tore off his shirt, growling. We spilled onto the bed, all shreds of humanity gone. Teeth drew blood, adding to the salt of our coupling. The rawness felt wonderful, like running barefoot in the surf. The bed barely withstood it.

We lay entangled on the sweat soaked sheets, my body nearly invisible under his bulk. I ran a hand through his damp hair.

"We belong together," I whispered. "Stay."

He didn't answer, just kissed me. I tasted my blood on his lips. We snuggled together as if trying to get into each other's skins. I had won.

A noise not unlike a cannon in wartime snapped through the predawn air and the house shook. The cries of wood and cracks of breaking glass added to the cacophony and the world tilted.

It felt like we were tumbling into hell. Angelus and I crashed off the bed. My house shimmied and shook and we felt it sliding. When it stopped, I glanced out the window and everything was at an angle.

"What happened?" I whispered, dragging my battered body off the floor. I peered outside and saw my neighbor's houses half gone, like a mineshaft had opened beneath their houses and the angry earth had swallowed them. Then I guessed at what it must be.

"I'm not sure," Angelus said, looking puzzled.

"I know. They're putting in the subway tunnels under Park Avenue. They must have made the ceiling too weak. The houses…they've fallen in," I said, not believing it. My beautiful home was gone. I yanked my dress back on as Angelus dressed. He was laughing. "I don't think this is funny," I growled, trying to get down the steps, which were crooked and the banister gone.

"Think of it as a sign, Darla. Us being together is so dangerous that the earth opened up to put an end to it." His dark eyes held a sick humor in them. He didn't believe that but it was a good excuse. He had gotten what he needed from me.

I knew what was coming next. "You don't believe in portents…oh wait, I forgot. Yes, you do, you simple-minded fool. That's why you made Dru. This was no sign, Angelus and you know it. This was poor engineering," I said, as I went outside my home. The whole west wing was under the earth and the easterly side had been torn free from its foundation. It was a total loss.

"Poor engineering, sign from God, does it matter?" He started down the street, leaving me standing there on the grass.

"Don't you dare just walk away from me," I snarled.

He looked back over his shoulder. "Why not? We both know how this will end. The house falling down around us will be the least of it."

"Because I'll go wild," I said in a harsh whisper.

He paused, turning to look at me. "Wild?"

I stalked over to him. "Of course, wild. What did you expect? Wild because you left me here. I go wild because your promises are broken."

He shoved me away. "I made you no promises, Darla. I told you I wouldn't stay."

"I don't know why I even bothered with you." Because you're both the poison in my veins and the antidote and I'll never be rid of you. I punched his arm. "Go on, get out of here."

He looked up at the rosy clouds ringed with gold. "You might want to come with me."

I hated him then but he was right. We went down into the subway tunnels walking far from where they had opened up to eat part of Park Avenue. We had to bed down in the dirt in a spot we were hoping wouldn't get any attention today since there were far more important sections that needed tending to by the work crews. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to travel in trains under the earth. It was unnatural. We curled up together to wait out the day. I knew he'd be gone when I woke up. I fought sleep for that reason but I lost. And he was gone. And I ran wild through the tunnels, killing every worker who crossed my path. It didn't make me feel better. That would come with time. What wouldn't was a time that Angelus didn't make me wild.