darknessrising

Darkness Rising

Disclaimer: Characters and Premise are borrowed from the show "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."

Angel pulled Buffy's shivering body more tightly against his chest, cursing his nature. Another human could have shared body heat with her, as it was all he could offer her was a jacket.

They had been patrolling together earlier that evening when Angel had been shot with a tranquilizer dart. A second shot had rendered the Slayer unconscious as well.

They had woken here, locked in some sort of walk in freezer. The door was a heavy steel construction that had resisted the combined strength of Slayer and vampire. All they could do now was wait for their friends to find them or for their capture to reveal himself.

As the hours passed the cold took its toll on Buffy's strength. The Slayer, despite her supernatural strength was still human, still subject to the demands of her body. Angel could only watch helplessly as she curled into a ball under his thin jacket trying to conserve body heat.

He gathered her tightly against his chest offering comfort, where he couldn't offer warmth.

Toward midday Buffy began to experience the drowsiness that precedes hypothermia. Desperate and furious Angel turned his efforts to the door again, beating futilely against it till his hands were broken and bleeding.

"Angel," Buffy called weakly.

He hurried back to her side. "Buffy," he said softly ignoring the pain to his damaged hands as he took her in his arms. "I could change you, then you'd live. After we get out Giles or Willow could do the restoration spell so you'd have your soul."

"No, just hold me," Buffy replied, snuggling against his chest.

"Please, Buffy?" Angel persisted, "I'm afraid to loose you."

"Just hold me," Buffy murmured.

As the day wore on, Buffy slipped into a deep sleep. Angel held her tightly, listening to her heartbeat slow and eventually cease.

Ice cold tears ran down his cheeks as he cradled her body close to him. The tears froze on his face and eyelashes.

Shortly after nightfall the door to their frozen prison creaked open. The influx of warm air pulled Angel's attention from the girl in his arms. He looked up to see a twelve-year-old girl framed by the doorway. Her long hair was raven dark and accented her pale perfect skin and chocolate brown eyes.

"Aurora?" Angel asked in confusion.

The girl smiled, "I'm surprised you recognized me after so many years."

"This isn't possible," Angel stammered. "You're…"

"Dead?" Aurora asked, "You certainly made sure of that didn't you brother dearest?"

"How?" Angel asked.

"Now that's a funny question for you to be asking," Aurora replied. "You were there."

"I guess I really must have been your favorite, you saved me for last, after all. I got the privilege of watching you kill our entire family before you turned your attention to me. I fought you remember? Scratched, clawed, hit and finally in the end bit as you drained my blood from my body. I only got a mouthful of you blood in return, but it was enough. Enough to make me into what you were," Aurora explained.

"Why did you wait so long?" Angel asked.

"You should know that too," Aurora scolded. "I'm just going to assume that the cold froze your brain, or is it grief doing that?

"Well you are my sire, but you didn't take very good care of me you know. How much blood did Darla give you? How many times did you share blood with your other children?" Aurora asked.

"You were a minion when you first rose?" Angel asked, wincing at the thought of his sister as one of the almost brainless creatures that composed of the bulk of the vampire population. "What changed?"

"A cave in trapped myself and several other vampires, including two full vampires." Aurora smiled. "In that case it was an advantage to run mostly on instinct. The minions turned to cannibalism long before it occurred to the true vampires. I was the first to try it with one of the full vampire. I should thank you for that, you are a powerful vampire, even the small taste of your blood that I received was enough to set me apart from the average minion."

"After you drained the true vampire you became one yourself?" Angel clarified.

"Yes, the power, the clarity of mind, my own personality, it all came with that," Aurora replied. "Then I decided to come after you. Either for killing our family or for not doing a proper job of changing me, I'm mad at you for both you know."

"Why this?" Angel asked nodding to the freezer.

"Well originally I thought it would be fitting to just let her die of old age. I would have enjoyed leaving you to watch helplessly as time slowly took her from you.

"I watched you for quiet awhile you know. Planning my vengeance, figuring out what was dear to you. Image my surprise when I find the vicious monster Angelus is bestest friends with a bunch of humans, and the Slayer's lover no less," Aurora giggled. "It added so many possibilities to what I could do to you."

"I loved the idea of making you stand by powerlessly as your lover died. Then I realized two things; first I don't have the patience for that sort of thing, and second with the life style you and your girl lead, it wasn't likely that either of you would be around to face her old age."

Aurora smiled. "Plus while the could won't kill you brother mine, your tantrums have weakened you."

Aurora used a vampire's speed to move from the door to crouch behind her brother, twisting his head to the side to expose Angel's throat.

Shock held Angel quiescent until Aurora's fangs pierced his neck. With the pain anger returned, he tossed her slight form across the room.

"I just want a taste of what should have been mine," she pouted, leaving the freezer. To Angel's astonishment she left the door open behind her.

Carrying Buffy's remains Angel left before Aurora could correct her oversight.

==============================================================

Angel laid Buffy's frozen form on the library table. Giles, Willow and Xander could only stare in disbelief.

"I'm sorry," Angel began. "This is my fault…"

"She's not dead," Xander protested furiously.

"I'm sorry," Angel repeated. "I tried…"

"Stop saying that!" Xander yelled, attacking the vampire.

Angel never raised a hand to protect himself.

Slowly the vampire fell back from the infuriated teen, stumbling as he backed into a chair, a wild punch from Xander toppled the already off balance vampire.

The crack of Angel's skull impacting the chair on his way down shook the other two out of their daze.

Giles drug Xander away from Angel as Willow knelt beside the stunned vampire.

Seeing Giles had Xander under control Willow turned her attention fully to the vampire who still lay on the floor. A series of small tremors shook his body.

Horrified Willow hugged him close, brushing her fingers through his hair comfortingly.

"Buffy's dead," Angel whispered, "Because of me. It's my fault she died. Buffy, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. My fault." His shaking only intensified. "Aurora, Sprite, my Sprite what have I done to you?"

"Angel!" Giles snapped. His harsh tone broke through to the distraught vampire. "How did this happen?"

"I didn't know," Angel exclaimed. "I wouldn't have left her if I'd realized. Angelus wouldn't have left her, not Sprite. I… he… wouldn't, not her. I was less than a day past the change; I didn't understand what had happened. She killed Buffy because of me! My fault, never would have left her… Buffy, sorry, sorry…"

The other three watched in shock as Angel's voice dissolved into incoherent sobs.

Gradually over the next hour the Watcher and Slayerettes coaxed the story of Buffy's death and Aurora's arrival from Angel. The two events coming one on top of the other had badly overset the normally stable, if guilt ridden vampire.

After getting the full story Giles and Xander left Willow to deal with Angel while they called the police and Joyce Summers.

Under the threat of coming dawn Willow finally persuaded Angel to move into the protection of the stacks. There he fell into an exhausted sleep.

While he slept Willow bribed Willie, the human owner of a local demon hangout to bring some blood to the school for Angel.

Once it arrived Willow returned to Angel's side. Finding him still deeply asleep, Willow allowed herself to grieve for her lost friend.

Angel woke to the sound of Willow crying; tiredly he returned her comforting embrace from the night before. "I'm sorry Willow," He said, "I betrayed and destroyed both of them."

Willow returned his hug. "That's not true," She objected. "You did everything you could have to save Buffy. Aurora killed her, not you."

"Sprite wouldn't have killed anyone," Angel said grimly, "I created the monster that killed Buffy from a wonderful, innocent child who loved and trusted me more than any person in the world."

"Not you," Willow repeated. "Angelus, and according to what you said, he didn't even realize what he'd done."

"I meant to kill her, not turn her," Angel snapped, "That's so much better!"

"Angelus did," Willow stressed.

"Angel, Angelus, what's the difference?" Angel shrugged.

"A lot, when's the last time Angel killed or tortured anyone?" Willow asked irritably.

"I know," Angel sighed, "But if I don't suffer for his crimes who will?"

"Angelus is gone, no one should be punished for what he did," Willow said firmly.

Angel allowed his head to rest tiredly on Willow's shoulder, lacking the energy to continue arguing.

==============================================================

"Aurora may come after the rest of you," Angel warned. Even after almost sixteen hours of sleep he still seemed exhausted and listless.

Xander glared angrily at him, "Okay great, it's not enough that your bad side spends six months trying to off us. Now because you couldn't stay in Hell where you belong your psycho sister kills Buffy and is going after the rest of us!"

Angel visibly flinched from the angry teenager's attack. "I'm sorry…"

"Who cares!" Xander yelled. "Buffy's still dead, your sister is still out to make the rest of us the same!"

"She wouldn't have any reason to come after you if I were destroyed," Angel offered, at his side Willow tensed.

"That does us a lot of good," Cordelia said. "Cause first you aren't and second even if you were how would she know it. Vampires don't leave real identifiable corpses."

"I kill myself in her presence," Angel replied.

"Sounds good to me."

In the stunned silence that followed Angel's declaration, Xander's comment seemed especially loud.

"No!" Willow said, stamping her foot. "You won't! I won't let you!"

"Angel…" Giles stammered. "Your offer… is… appreciated… but hardly practical. You are a valued member of our team, and with Buffy…" Giles could bring himself to say it. After a long pause he continued. "We well need your help in dealing with the Mayor's Accession more than ever now. We can find another way to deal with Aurora."

"I can't destroy her," Angel said softly.

"Why not?" Xander asked.

"Because she's my sister," Angel said. "She's a monster, but she's all that's left of my Sprite."

With that Angel retreated into the stacks, Willow followed him after a moment.

Willow found him sitting on the floor near the rear of the library staring blankly into the distance.

"What was she like?" Willow asked.

Angel's uncomprehending glance prompted her to add, "Sprite, your little sister, what was she like back before…"

Angel smiled warmly, "She was the bain of our mother's life and my adoring shadow. Now she would be called a tomboy. Sprite was born when I was fifteen; we actually share the same birthday. As soon as she learned to walk she followed me everywhere. Sprite was a living embodiment of energy, excitement and intelligence.

"To our mother's horror, I taught her to ride and hunt," Angel laughed softly, lost in memories, "Given a few more months, she would have talked me into teaching her sword play."

"You really loved her," Willow said softly.

"Sprite didn't fit-in in our time any better than I did. Which was probably my fault for encouraging her. Still with her temperament I doubt anyone could have made her into a proper lady. Sprite was born at just the wrong time too. When she turned five my older brother, the family's heir had just decided on a wife and our three sisters were deep in the marriage mart. All of that took a lot of the family's time and energy. Which pretty much left Sprite and I to our own devices.

"Marriage then was a very different thing than it is today, especially for a land holding family. Society had moved beyond having the parents simply arrange the match, but it was still more about making a good alliance than love. Unfortunately we were expected to pretend otherwise.

"Everything in polite society was masks and pretend, I hated it. Sprite was the only one who I could be myself around. The only one who liked me for myself," Angel sighed. "The older I got the more I was expected to participate and the more I wanted to just escape."

Angel paused. Willow stared at him wide eyed; Angel was as good as any romance novel. "So what did you do?"

Angel smiled grimly, "Something really stupid. I could have run away or something, but instead I wanted to get disowned. I guess I couldn't just walk away. Everything would have been better if I had."

"Why?" Willow asked.

"I made myself into a disgrace. Spent every night drunk, chasing after bar maid and any other woman I encountered. Pretending to be something I wasn't, to escape from exactly that." Angel's smile turned ugly. "That's how I met Darla, then instead of pretending to be something I wasn't and didn't want to be, I became something I couldn't have imagined and certainly never intended to become.

"Then I destroyed everything that I cared about."

Angel laughed bitterly, "Now every time I find something good my past shows up and destroys it. I guess this is what the gypsies had in mind when they cursed me. The first time I destroyed my life I reveled in it.

Willow, I don't want to destroy things anymore. I came here to help Buffy, I wanted to be one of the good guys for once in my life, and look what happens! Whistler should have left me like I was, at least that way no one else got hurt.

"I won't have anyone else getting hurt because of me."

Angel stood abruptly, his face a blank mask.

Startled Willow hopped to her feet, "Angel where are you going?"

"To kill Sprite," Angel replied without expression, "Before she can kill anyone else."

==============================================================

I found Angel shortly before dawn that morning. I stopped him from committing suicide.

Sometimes I wonder if he would have been better off if I had just left him alone. Whatever small part of Angel that survived Buffy's death died with Aurora.

The fight between the two of them hadn't been pretty. Angel told me about it that first day.

Aurora was trapped in the body of a child, even with vampiric strength she couldn't match an adult in a fight. So she'd learned other ways to fight, illusion, mind tricks… She didn't do much physical damage to Angel, but she knew her brother well and had used that against him. In the end Angel won, he staked her. Then I pulled all the duty stuff I could and kept him from giving himself to the dawn.

Buffy once told me that when she and Angel first met he told her what he wanted was to "Kill them, kill them all," meaning vampires of course. Maybe it was true then too, now it's all that he wants.

He goes hunting every night. Lately that hasn't been enough; he's started hunting the tunnels during the day too. The vampires have a new name for him, they call him Dark Angel. They fear him more than the newest Slayer, with good cause. The Slayer just patrols, protecting humans, Angel hunts them.

As for the rest of us, well, we got on with our lives. We all survived both graduation and the Accession. After that we kind of drifted apart for awhile. Giles went back to England to train the next Slayer, leaving Angel to monitor the Hellmouth. Cordelia went to LA and after a year of indecision Xander followed her. He won her back… eventually. They were still happily fighting the last time I visited, some things never change.

Oz and I stayed together as well, even though his touring with the Dingoes puts a certain strain on the relationship. In spite of that I wouldn't give him up for anything.

I stuck with my plans and went to college in Sunnydale, kept working on the witchcraft and helping protect the world from evil. The only change was I'm helping Angel instead of Buffy.

He likes me to stay out of the line of fire. So I mostly do research and a few spells. I argue, but he's not rational about this, he says he won't be responsible for hurting anyone else. I suppose I should be grateful he lets me help him at all. After the Accession he cut off all contact with the rest of the Slayerettes.

Sometimes I think he just doesn't want them to see the changes in him. See after Aurora's little bomb shell about gaining power by feeding on other vampires Angel decided to try it. Well it worked, I've been checking the Watcher's records and Angel is one of the most powerful vampires in existence, and he's only been doing it for two and a half years now. What Aurora didn't mention was that it's addictive. Angel can't derive nutrition from mortal blood any more. I worry that he'll get careless and let another vampire see him someday.

Feeding off other vampires is really taboo for them. That's what Angel said when I asked why more of them didn't do it if they gained power that way. They'll hunt down and destroy any vampire that is caught doing it. Angel is more than a match for any one vampire, I don't even worry much if he goes up against four or five other vampires. Still if the community realizes what he's doing, there will be dozens of vampires hunting him. In the end number always win and Angel chooses to stand alone.

The End

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