Hello everyone! This is just a short Angel story I thought up suddenly and put to paper. It revolves around chance and choices. This is it, so it's not going for any longer, but please enjoy and REVIEW!
Incase you don't pick it up the first part is set a while back, 1950 or about then.
Ace of Spades
The sounds of the bustling city bitterly detracted from Angel's deep gaze. It was alive with movement; cars, buses, striding pedestrians; they all made a coherent rumble of noise. Angel himself was leaning against a hard redbrick wall, on the corner. One way, the direction he watched intently looked out upon a wide-open view of a busy city street. Across the crowded streets of shiny automobiles people marched up and down the sidewalk, there lay Angel's sight. His life had been plagued by desire for blood for so long now, it haunted him in his every footstep, and his every glance. People were everywhere and he hated it; though he stared now, lustfully, his heart tearing with an undying yearn, at the employed crowds. They moved purposefully down the street, past the sweet city landscape, past his own diabolical view, destined never to know the hatred that had eyed them.
Yet he had a soul. He leaned against the wall silently struggling with his content to watch, to leave the people oblivious to his malice. Life dealt him this card everyday. He slept, and he preyed in the dank nights, always disgusted at the foul things he managed to unearth for his sustenance. That was his life, smelling the blood in the air with a fiery lust behind a dark, brooding visage. As horns beeped and people chattered, Angel let out a deep breath, smoke rising into the dim night sky before him. He breathed in again, inhaling the smoke deeply. He didn't know why he smoked. Everyone seemed to at this time, but he, having lived far more than the 'men' of this time, saw past the gleeful advertisements and vibrant public attitude. He guessed he craved distraction.
He wore a light brown trench coat that touched the side of his ankles. It was made from leather and was a sweet, pale brown. As was his hat, that touched the wall behind him gently, though pulled down over the front of his face to conceal the sharp stare of his eyes. His trousers were a deep, blackened brown and his shirt was a light, contrasting white.
Suddenly a rumbustious, enthusiastic uproar reached his tired ears. It took something pretty drastic to draw Angel's deep, preying eyes from the crowds. He turned his head to the alleyway to see a group of men gathered around a silk-laden table, behind it a man smiled exuberantly, his eyes full of joviality at the table below. The men had just erupted into a fiery uproar, and, after a loud quarrel with the man behind the table, left it in a low-spirited stroll of dissatisfaction and disappointed
As the alley was slowly and despondently emptied, the man behind the table remained. He was sitting with a content expression, as he cleared the scattered cards from the table and around it, brushing dirt off those that had been thrown to the ground in disgust. He grinned as he slid a thick pile of light green notes off the table and into his coat pockets. Angel was still gazing at the table curiously, finding himself uncannily preoccupied by it, and the man behind it. He was intrigued by it somehow, and wondered if he should have a game against him, show him what 200 hundred years of drunken gambling can do to your game instincts. He smiled to himself.
Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by a seductive voice. "Would you care to show me up in a game of cards, good sir?" The man said, playing with his words to make them tempting, inviting Angel to beat him.
"And what game would I be winning?" he said, in a deep, teasing voice, his eyes not shifting to look at the man.
"Well, you are a special customer, aren't you? Need you compete if know you're going to win?" He also spoke teasingly. Both of them sounded sure of themselves.
"I also know you're going to lose." The man smiled at this with a glint of respect for the reply.
"What will the game be?" Angel inquired, sounding interested now.
"I like you, not the usual scum of the streets. No, you're special, and therefore the choice is yours." Angel grabbed the limp cigarette from his lips and threw it sharply to the dirty concrete ground. He twisted his feet over it and left it amongst the thick cover of cigarettes that already lined the alley. Tipping his hat up enough so that the man could see his eyes he coolly approached the table.
He was now about 10 metres into the alley and the moonlight was a pale, yet comforting shade. A cosy radiance that gave the backstreet setting a dynamic hue, making it seem important somehow. There was one more chair at the table an unfolded deck chair, with a dark red seat and pale wooden legs. He sat down comfortably, keeping a confident, cool gaze on the man who sat in an identical chair, bearing a devious grin.
It seemed surreal to be playing a game of cards on a surface of rich red silk, seated on clean seats in a hidden alley, that had a carpet of deep black grime and a lowly reputation. He took off his hat and gently placed it over the protruding wooden brace on the chair. They sat there for a moment, gazing into each other's light-hearted, yet provoking expressions. Angel's handsome face and stylish hair created a sweet, energetic smile. The man wore a colourful blue shirt, loud in comparison to Angel's solemn brown outfit. His face was not as youthful as Angel's was yet the many lines added a unique character to his smile.
Angel leaned forward and held out his hand invitingly. The man reached over and took it, still keeping his eyes on Angel. They shared a rough handshake then sat back into their chairs.
"You have a strong handshake, my friend. Not the hands of the nimble cardsman you might meet in a refined gambling institution." Angel said.
"Nor you. Do we share a dislike for casinos?"
"On my part. The strict rules and order far from suit me." They kept an intense stare into each other as the spoke, though they were interpreting their own words in some deep level, talking between souls. There seemed to be a profound and powerful connection between the two.
"Indeed. Casino's have always been the home of money, never that of people. Those who play are simply guests to desire. Me, I don't play for money."
"What is it you play for?"
"Oh, if only you knew." Angel recognised a sly, dark edge to his grin then.
"Cut of the deck." Angel cut in suddenly, desperate to get the game under way.
"Yes, yes. That's right, I should've known. You're a sharp man; you know what you want and you cut through the qualms like a boat to water."
"Oh, and you like to talk." Angel quipped merrily.
"What'll it be son? What card do you think will survive me?"
"Survive. Now there's an unusual word." Angel said lightly, though he felt truly curious and suspicious about this man. He paused for a moment when he saw no reply coming and quickly considered his card.
"Ace." He finally said, after heavy consideration. The man smiled strangely and placed the deck of cards on the table. They were a sweet, clean white on the back with a delicate decoration in blue. They sat comfortably on the lavish red silk, once again reminding him of the surrealism of the scene. He stared at them for a moment then pushed them across the table toward the man. "Please, cut first."
The man nodded but smiled and paused with his hand over the cards. As he took half of the deck and placed them on the table face down he spoke to Angel. "You're a cunning man. Though you are sharp you're plagued by something, something that makes you hate with a fiery passion. Tell me, why do you stand in the alley day by day and watch the street flow? Maybe I know." He interrogated.
"Maybe you don't.' Angel said sharply.
"There. It's all about chance, do I, do I not? Everyone's life is plagued by it, chance, fate, has mapped out the road for the souls of all who play the game of life."
"I'm more of a time person, and in the time it's taking you to reveal your card I could of..."
"Killed a person?" He sliced Angel's sentence, provoking a mysterious frown from the handsome man before him.
"Not what I had in mind." He replied harshly, still gazing at the man's pleasured eyes suspiciously.
"If you say so," he said, sliding the tip of a finger under his small stack of cards and turning them over slowly. They raised vertically and fell flat again, revealing a glaring two of hearts. He withdrew his finger, not even glancing down at his own cards. Angel frowned again and took his own cut of the deck, keeping his eyes on the man. He took the cut and held the half of the deck in his hands. He flipped it over and dropped it onto the red silk. A sharp ace of spades gleamed up from the white surface of the card, thick black with an intricate and uncannily sinister adornment of thin lines, looped decoratively around its shape.
Angel grinned with satisfaction, and slight edge of relief. He would have hated to lose to the man in front of him but, to his Disappointment, the man retained his charming, yet painfully mocking smile. He was unfazed at the loss, as though he had not even cared about the game itself in the first place. Angel's beaming expression of self-satisfaction drooped; having no glorious triumph really took the spark out of winning. The man winked at him as he glared, gathering up the three piles of cards with a single swoop and dropping them in his shirt pocket.
It was then, and only then that Angel realised there had never been any money in play. He let out a lighthearted moan of dismay and shook his head, watching the man's smile widen, though he had won. "Ace of Spades." He said, nodding to himself with a deep expression of thought.
"My lucky card."
"Yes, very lucky, very lucky indeed. You know it's funny to me that a man like you choses this card; it is a good card, full of charcoal bravery, black passion; it really embodies your steely gaze and poignant distraction."
"I'll remember that," said Angel standing to his feet and placing his hat back on his head, "I appreciate the game, and your words are compelling."
As he said this he turned back to the street at the end of the alley, the cars and people passing by the mouth of it. He sensed something very strange about the man, something he wished he could understand, but which remained frustratingly oblivious to him. He paused, almost considering pursuing his unnerving suspicion further, feeling though as he left, he betrayed his own feelings.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow," said the man, sounding sure of himself.
"Sure," said Angel, grinning sarcastically, "I'll be waiting here."
"The coin's already been flipped, friend. Oh, and don't forget that a boat to water is still at the mercy of the seas."
Angel, who still had his back to the man and his eyes sharply forward, said nothing. He felt a perturbing affinity with the man, on some scale that he could not see with his eyes or hear with his ears, and yet, though a hidden part of him scolded him, he left. The man stood to his feet, watching silently with a reverent smile as Angel departed the alley with a heavy swoop of his jacket against the passive breeze.
Angel felt the cool might air brush against his face as he walked down the busy city street, his coat flapping softly. He walked swiftly, keeping his mind and sight off the many pedestrians that passed him by; he had a purpose this night, after resting in the afternoon, after his mind gave him insistent hell, he had resolved to return to the alley. Something plagued his every step, something he hadn't found out, and, desperate to quell the thought, he felt that he must return. The full moon shined bravely over the city, giving a radiant view of everything, the people, the shining cars, the gleam of the damp road, it all created a haunting image. He continued to walk briskly, every now and then swinging left or right to avoid a non compliant pedestrian, until, suddenly he paused. He was standing at the lip of the alley; he paused for a short while, then burst back into his quick stroll. Curving the corner sharply, he scanned the alley with a deep frown.
He was gazing upon an empty alley. Looking from left to right he saw nothing. He frowned, and, as he was about to turn and leave, he saw a sharp white glimmer from within the thick darkness that consumed the further end of the alley. He put a step forward, glaring deeply into the murky darkness, suddenly smelling something foul, evil lurking within. The smell of blood began to hit him harshly as he neared. As he entered it, still walking briskly, his vampire sight began to kick in and blurry outlines began to appear in his vision where there had been but darkness before. He saw the red brick walls on either side and felt the wall at the end of the alley quickly approaching, burdened by the foul smell of death.
Suddenly he saw the wall, and the three limp corpses that accompanied it. He stood silently, glaring at the bodies behind the bustling streets, alive with people going about their business, oblivious to the darkness that they had not the bravery to endure. The three corpses were actually hanging on knives, imbedded through their necks and thrust deeply into the brick behind them. So there they lay, swinging slightly, their bodies, covered in dry blood and wounds, sustained from the ground by dark red daggers through their necks. They were placed with wicked care though, separated by even distance and consistent height. Through the heart of the corpse in the centre a small, white rectangle was held against his chest by another knife. It must have been what caused the glint.
He approached the corpse, and, as he reached for the card on the knife, keeping his eyes on the face of the body before him, he found a familiarity. He shivered with a wicked realisation, the man before him, and the two by his side, they were all the ones he'd spied last night, playing cards against the man. He ripped out the knife from the man's chest and, dropping it to the ground with an echoing clang; he slid off the card and held it up to his eyes. The sharp black emblem of an ace of spades was ripped open, having been stabbed through with the knife, yet it's outline remained on the sweet white card. A tragic feeling gripped Angel's heart as he held the card out in front of him, his mind punishing him with remorse. He understood the deaths of the men before him; he looked into their blood-covered face and sighed deeply.
The man; whom, despite, on some level knowing, he'd left that last night had killed these men, murdered them. They lost the card game, hence the game of life, to that man, or demon they'd played against.
What card do you think will survive me?"
It all seemed to come to him now, the unearthly affinity between them, the sly words, it all pointed to the man, the one he'd left alone in the alley but a day ago, striding away into the night, as he packed his card table up with a wicked grin. The man must have known him, known what he was, and he himself should have turned around in that alley, attacked him.
Angel, with a pained expression, stared at the card that he now held down by his waist, and wondered with the deepness of his heart why the man had enticed him to return, and left the clue for him. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, calming his burdened soul. As he breathed out he let lose his remorse, his deep, gnawing regret, as he always did. He opened his eyes slowly, taking a final short, reverent glance at the mutilated bodies against the wall, then turned suddenly, his jacket swooping behind him. Tucking the ace of spades into his breast pocket he turned his back on the darkness. Once again he abandoned the grief, the people, he wished he could care about them, repent for his evil to them, yet with every glance of the darkness of the world he glanced he turned his back, shutting of yet more of his torn humanity. His steps echoed hauntingly, and cruelly into the depths of the alley as Angel strolled out to the rumbling city of life at the end. They teased the terror in the darkness, announcing a final victory, the abandonment of those it had consumed.
In a well-lit and homey room, with rich green walls and a comforting glow sat a hunched figure, staring deeply into something in his hands. Angel sat on the corner of a neat white bed, a jacket laid out across his knees, a small white card in his hand. His eyes burnt into it with powerful thought. In front of him, across the green carpet that laid the room, an open cupboard door revealed a collection of coats and jackets. The jacket across Angel's knees was but one of the many he had taken from his cupboard and rummaged, piecing together parts of his old life that before now, on this day of reckoning, the choice of whether to govern the resources of Wolfram and Hart or not looming, he'd wished to forget. Now, in this pale brown jacket he'd found at the back of the rack, a punctured card had dwelled. He had been searching for deep memories so as to remember how he felt all through his life, becoming wise from his own experiences, wanting to make the right choice by himself then and now. All of that deep, hidden memory had flooded back to him through but the simple glance of the card, the ace of spades.
He sighed as he felt emotion boil inside of him, though he were being reunited with an old friend. He sat on the edge of the bed for a long moment without the slightest movement, simply sitting in though, letting it sink in. As he was ready to discard the card in his hand he suddenly felt a strange compel to twist the card and look at its back. He frowned as he complied with his own wish, slowly turning over the card, revealing glance by glance the intricate blue decorations on its back. He turned it over and held it tightly in his hand.
He felt like gasping when he saw a scrawled, handwritten note in its corner, just outside the blue decorations. It was but two letters, though they had such power over his thoughts his emotions.
It was the word no written messily in sharp blue ink, though he wished it he knew it wasn't a coincidence, not at all. The man, the one he'd thought to be normal, and turned out to be a murderer, he knew things. After looking back on that time he quickly concluded that the man had certainly known who he was, what he was, and also the profound affinity they'd shared told him something about the man. What he talked about, the coin already being flipped, this was a message, or a sweet hint from him.
Yet, though he thought that the man would probably already know the outcome of the decision, he himself had to experience it.
A couple of intruding knocks came from the white door to his left. Halting his thoughts, he tore himself away from the deep thoughts the card embodied, looking to the door. "Come in," he said grimly, wishing only peace and solitude. The door swung open and Gunn stood in it, also with a dour expression, affirming Angel's fears. "Lilah is here," he said, looking sternly curious as he saw Angel leaning over a jacket, his room upturned with old clothes and objects. "The time is 11.50, Angel"
Angel nodded, knowing that 12.00 was the strict deadline for his decision, wether or not to take up Lilah's cruel offer of Wolfram and Hart. He now had but 10 minutes to gather his scattered thoughts, realising that the unearthing of his past had caused him more doubt. He had to take far too much into consideration, his son primarily, who evaded him after his traumatic experience with Jasmine, and his friends and colleagues. At least that is but what his mind had weighed before, now he was burdened by the discovery, the sharp note on the back of the card, which, though he was not surrendering trust to the man, he knew was written for now. "Let's go." He said solemnly, and Gunn turned and headed for the stairs, followed loosely by Angel. As they hit the stairs, Lilah standing in the middle of the lobby, looking up at them, Angel's mind raced.
Wolfram and Hart,
Ace of Spades
He knew that before twelve he had to make the choice, due to Lilah's harsh deadline; at 12 she leaves and the deal's off. He knew it but he couldn't decide while so many factors tore at his mind. He had to find his son and Cordelia, that was imperative but he didn't know if he needed the deal to do it. Wolfram and Hart, there was another matter altogether. Though Lilah had given an impressive speech explaining the motives behind the offer, he knew that he could never trust Wolfram and Hart; they had hurt him and those around him too much too often. Then there was the recent discovery, the advice given to him by a man he had met but once, a murderer. It was unnerving that that note impressed so much into his opinion, yet it did and Angel had to decide wether to take the advice or not, to trust or not to trust.
It was chance; Angel was slowly beginning to realise that. Chance lay behind every choice, this one was yes or no and, as he stepped onto the cold marble floor of the lobby he had no idea which way he would go.
The coin's already been flipped...
It hasn't landed.
As he walked up to Lilah, in the brief second that he stood before her his feelings all came together, formed an answer, one that would change his and the lives of his friends dramatically. His tongue curled as a resolute and sharp word formed on his lips.
Thought I'd leave it there to make people mad, but, hey, I like it when stories do that to me. Makes you think a little longer! Please review!