A/N: A short piece I did for an Angel challenge at 12monthsofbtvs. Be warned, it does contain adult content.

Blood and Roses

Author: Holly

Rating: Very Strong R. (For sexual situations)

Timeline: During Angel the Series, Season 2: Reprise.

Summary: Angel loses faith in humanity, and in despair, hopes to lose his soul in Darla.

Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. They are being used for entertainment purposes out of respect and admiration, and not for the sake of profit. No copyright infringement is intended.

-------------

Every smiling face had turned malevolent in a manner of seconds. Be it a mother scolding her children, a hooker walking the streets, a couple cuddling under a streetlight as they waited for a city bus. Every face had changed for him, and he didn't know if was possible for them to change back.

The answering machine inside the Hyperion was going off, but he had no patience for it. Cordelia's overly chipper voice sounded into the silence when he refused to answer, echoing through the empty halls and corridors. A hotel haunted with more than ghosts. A hotel burdened with the weight of complete human devastation.

He was not human. Even when he'd had a pulse, he had been a sorry excuse of a man. His father had hated him, had coaxed this monster into the limelight. Had watched as his Pygmalion killed his daughter—the girl that gave Angel his name—and died reciting the Lord 's Prayer as his son drank from his throat.

Angelus had done that. At least Angelus had been upfront about his monstrosity.

Everyone else hid it. Everyone else guarded themselves behind the guise of humanity. There was no humanity—no humanity that did not share the stage with the remnants of pure wickedness. From a child's laughter to a lover's tears, the world was a hollow, barren place of forgotten waste. Holland Manners had helped him see that tonight.

How hard had he fallen to end up where he was now.

"Hi, you've reached Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless. Leave a message and we'll get right back to you."

Cordelia's telling Freudian slip. We help the hopeless.

This entire wretched town was without hope.

There was a split second after the beep composed of muffled silence, then Kate, drunk on Jack Daniels and tears, began to talk. "You did it, didn't you? You bastard."

Did it, loved it, and did it again. Such was the life of a vampire.

"You made me trust you. You made me believe." A pause. "No, it wasn't you." Another pause. He heard her shift and something spilled in the background, rattling to a standstill. "It was me, right? I couldn't take the heat…"

A long sigh rolled off his shoulders, and he approached the machine, his skin soaking up the sound of his former friend's despair with almost sadistic satisfaction, aside cold apathy.

"That's what they're gonna say," Kate continued. "Then you're gonna feel all bad…or you won't care. But then, then I won't care either. I won't feel a thing."

Once, his spine would have chilled with the implications of that statement.

Once. Not now.

Now, he could care less. He would see Kate Lockley in hell. And with that, he leaned over the counter, turned down the volume on the machine, and ceased to think about her. Instead, he pivoted and started for the stairs. For his bedroom. The dark cavern free of forged compassion.

Here at least there would be no pretenses. No falsified sense of human goodness.

Here, there was nothing but darkness.

And Darla.

Darla.

She was behind him. She had been here all along. Had he simply ignored her, or had he dissolved past the point of feeling? Could he not feel anything anymore? Had the lost plight of humanity left him numb to all sensations but the cold?

Most importantly, did it even matter anymore?

He didn't think so. Nothing mattered anymore.

"What do you want, Darla?" he asked, his palm tightening around the ring in his hand. She had come here for the ring, of course. The ring they had nearly killed each other for tonight at Wolfram and Hart. The ring that had led him to the truth of human nature. Yes, she was here for the ring. It was what she would be here for. Always something else. Never for him. Never when he needed her. His fucking sire and she was too good for him.

Or perhaps he had always made her that way.

That was something Angel would do. Angel who wanted to feel.

Not Angelus. Angelus, who relished in feeling nothing at all.

He needed Angelus.

"You want this?" The ring clamored to the ground, and Darla gasped, scampering after it.

And something came over him. He needed Angelus.

Darla had given him Angelus once. She could do it again. In a flash, his hand wrapped around her small wrist, and he thrust her violently against the nearby wall. A slow sort of grim satisfaction filled his frozen insides at the confused fear that flashed across her face. She looked so small, his sire. So small. So deliciously small, and for once, in full fear of him.

Him.

Not Angelus. Not the demon she had birthed. Not the demon only she could revive.

For one second, she looked in true fear of Angel. The man within the vampire. And he loved it.

"Or maybe what you really want is this!" He shoved her against wall once more when she attempted to move away, his hands going to her face. The feel of familiar hair coursed under his skin. Darla's hair. Darla's scent. Could he ever truly have put this behind him?

Darla made him complete. Always had.

Though centuries would pass and he would be dust before he admitted how empty the years without her had been. How much he had missed this. The rawness of his feeling alone.

He had never loved Darla. Never.

But he had needed her. Needed her desperately. And she had abandoned him.

She was here now.

"That may be…what you really want, isn't it?" His lips found hers softly, caressing her familiar mouth with all the tenderness he had wanted and lost with the women of his past…be it her, Drusilla, even Buffy.

They were all of his past. He had no love for Drusilla, and nothing but distant, fond affection for Buffy. He would not want her to see him like this.

Darla, though…Darla was his past, present, and future.

Even if she could not display gentility.

He pressed his lips harder to hers when she didn't react. Her hands pressed against his chest and she pushed him away with a growl.

"Don't play games with me."

"I'm not playing. I just wanna feel something besides the cold." He grabbed her again, all pretense of tenderness fleeing his body. He shoved her against the hard surface of a table before crawling across her, sealing her mouth in another kiss. Violent this time. Demanding. Nipping at her lips hard enough to draw blood.

And that was it. Darla melted beneath him, perfuming the air with the rich scent of her familiar arousal. She fought his jacket down his body, attacking his mouth with hers. Suddenly, she pulled back, a rich, mocking laugh tearing through her throat.

He hated that laugh.

She pushed him away at that, clamoring once more to her feet as her body shook with mirth.

"Why're you laughing?" Angel demanded.

She just looked at him, her small chuckles continuing to taunt him in place of words. And he couldn't take it. He backhanded her harshly, and the sound of breaking glass shattered the empty joy of her humor. He watched dazedly as she tumbled back through the door toward his bed. The look in her eyes was surprised but no longer afraid.

She rolled over as he followed her into his bedroom.

"Don't you feel the cold?" he asked, seizing her by the shoulders and pulling her back up against him.

Confusion blazed again. "What are you doing?"

"It doesn't matter," Angel replied, stroking the side of her face in another mock display of affection. "None of it matters."

Then his lips were on her again, and this time, she did not fight him. Rather, she tugged him back and he fell across her on the mattress.

She was smiling against his kisses. Laughing softly as he delved his hands under the hem of her slacks and brazenly plunged two fingers inside her. He felt her tugging his trousers down his hips, his hard cock grounding into her softness. Warmth spread through him, alien but welcome in feel. And for the first time in over a century, he felt the chance of losing complete control.

Only Darla could bring out that sort of animosity.

"My boy's come home," his sire cooed approvingly in his ear before sinking her teeth into the soft flesh of his lobe. "My Angelus."

"Your Angelus," he spat back, thrusting his fingers within her with a bit more brutality, "would never do this."

"He was inventive."

"He's not here."

Darla smiled up at him, wrapping her legs around his waist and using her leverage to flip him over. "Let's see if I can't arouse an appearance."

He knew what she was going for. She didn't even whimper in complaint when he drew his wet digits from her pussy. Didn't bother to look at him in the absence of his touch. Her own hands were busy at his shirt before she stripped his pant legs away completely. He collapsed against the mattress when her small, familiar hand wrapped around his cock, her mouth following suit.

Warmth.

Warmth from Darla, or warmth he imagined?

He didn't know or care. His hips thrust forward, forcing himself deeper down her throat.

"More."

Darla smiled humorlessly, her teeth nipping at the belled tip of his erection. "Nice boys say please."

Angel snarled and grasped her head. "I'm not a nice boy."

If anything, that only excited her more. His force. His words. His commanding grip on her hair, hungry eyes watching her as she swallowed his cock with every demanding thrust. Angelus would do this. Yes, Angelus possessed no tact. Angelus took what he wanted, regardless of whether or not his prey was willing. Regardless of whether or not his prey was Darla.

Angelus pushed the envelope. He was the childe, but he had always been the master.

Darla palmed his balls and squeezed.

"Not a nice boy," she rasped in agreement, licking at the underside of him before turning her attentions to his inner thigh. "But then again…bad boys are familiar with the punishment."

Her fangs sank into his skin before he knew to stop her, and he arched back with a roar, coming hard against her face.

A look of pure distaste flashed across her eyes. "A bit of warning would be nice."

"Shut up." He grabbed her, dragging her up to his mouth, wiping away his spendings callously before his mouth descended on hers again.

"Nice boys occasionally return the favor," she grumbled as he flipped her under him again.

"Nice boys don't live here anymore."

He prowled down the length of her, though. His sire had made a request. He was helpless to do anything but appease her.

Or so he told himself. Doing this implied he cared. Truly cared. He hadn't even done this for Buffy during their one night together…or the day she didn't remember. That was all based on not wanting to alarm her, but now, in the light of a world that no longer cared, he could admit that whatever he'd had with the Slayer was doomed from the start. And he had known it.

Known it, and taken advantage of it.

Angel plunged his tongue inside his sire with a growl.

"Oh!" Darla mewled and thrust her pussy against his face. "There's my boy."

It didn't last, though. He lapped her twice, twisted her clit, and climbed back up her body before she could find release.

"Angel!"

"You bit me," he snarled, thrusting himself inside her.

"You liked it."

"You wish."

For a second, he thought he saw a flicker of hurt cross Darla's face, but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything anymore.

He was lost in her body, eliciting sensations he had thought to deny himself forever.

This was it, then. This was the taste of defeat. Darla moaning, sinking her fangs into his shoulder as he thrust emotionlessly within her. Feeling the burn replace the cold. Feeling the ripe despair that had all but consumed him take shape.

Gone. All gone now.

Angel was dead. There was only room for Angelus now.

In the arms of his sire, he would be reborn tonight.

fin