Series: A New Knight in the City of Angel's"
Timeline: After the
first season of "Angel" and the last season of "Forever
Disclaimer: Premise and characters borrowed from
"Angel" and "Forever Knight".
LaCroix looked over the glittering lights of his newest
hunting ground. This frantically busy
city lay in the outskirts of territory forbidden to his kind.
The Slayer, the eternal hunter claimed territory near
here. The girl herself was no more than
any other hunter, the first had been a hunter, but her essence had been bound
to something ancient, bound to this plain of existence. The organization which supported her
preserved her knowledge from one incarnation to the next, increasing the danger
which she represented. Killing her
would not be sufficient to eliminate the threat of her existence. So the Community simply avoided her.
The Slayer believed she knew of vampires. She ruthlessly hunted down and destroyed the
Failed and their children, believing that they were the sum and total of his
race. The Community was happy to leave
her to her chosen amusement.
And while the Community hid itself from her, the others, the
Failed flocked to her. Drawn by a
survival instinct that they didn't begin to comprehend they gathered en-mass in
the no man's land between the Slayer and the Community.
LaCroix came here to loose himself in the thrill of the
hunt, to forget grief and guilt in carnage.
The Failed were the only fair game left. They were unprotected by the mortal world and condemned to death
by the Community.
In hunting them LaCroix could open himself to his darkest
impulses and wash away the memory of Toronto and the unmarked grave that held
his most difficult but most beloved child and Nicholas' mortal love whom he had
followed into death.
Los Angeles was exactly what he needed to escape the all too
human grief that Nicholas' death had infected him with.
"So how goes the studying?" Cordelia asked cheerfully.
Angel snarled in reply.
"Having an actual investigator's license isn't complete a
bad thing," Wesley offered. "The
knowledge it represents may prove useful and the less documentation that Willow
forges for you, the better."
"This is all Kate's fault," Angel growled.
"Yep, she's a bitch," Cordelia said happily.
"Detective Lockley has been something of a nuisance lately,"
"She tried to have me deported!" Angel exclaimed. "Not to mention her sudden problem with my
lack of an investigator's license."
"Yes, well Willow was most helpful in those matters. Although I do believe that Mr. Giles was
somewhat disconcerted by the illegal nature of her assistance."
"Giles always protests when we do something illegal in the
name of Slaying," Cordy remarked. "It
doesn't really mean he objects, it's just observing propriety or something like
"The point of the matter isn't that we got the
documentation," Angel argued. "It's
that I have better things to do with my time than jumping through Kate's
"Like what? At the moment we have no clients and no
office. Besides that, I haven't had a
vision in weeks. Now is as good of time
as any for getting all the formalities taken care of. I mean, sure Kate's a pain, but at least she doesn't have the
resources Wolfram and Hart do. If
they'd been the ones to think of the mundane ways to get rid of you, you'd have
been on a plane back to Ireland, but now, thanks to Kate that angle is
covered," Cordy said.
"But you don't like studying for the exam, heck you didn't
even like studying for your driver's license, which should have been way easy
since you've been around longer than cars have," Cordy replied. "Well Angel, get used to it. Buffy, Willow, and I got through years and
years of tests, I'm sure you can too.
Even Xander managed it, sort of, you'll survive."
"I'd rather face a demon," Angel growled.
"Well it's only an hour till sunset," Cordy commented. "Use the time to study, then go find some
nasty demon to kill, I'm sure it'll make you feel better. After that we'll all team up to go looking
for new offices."
LaCroix dropped from the sky to confront the blood-spattered
parody of what a vampire should be.
He grabbed the creature by its throat and lifted it off the
ground, smashing it against the dirty brick wall of the ally.
"It seems you've been finding trouble," LaCroix commented,
taking in the battered condition of the Failed. "Did your prey fight back?
Let us see this fearsome mortal that could put a vampire, a shadow of
the vampire in any case, to heel."
LaCroix scraped a bit of blood from his prisoner's hand and
tasted it, only to freeze in shock as the much to familiar wash of emotion
filled him. The blood was a vampire's,
but not this creature's. The blood told
of guilt and remorse, of longing for redemption, tangled and confused with
longing for the sun until the two were inseparable, until they weren't even
regarded as separate desires. A
vampire's innate darkness and the brightness of a kind soul coexisting in a
"Nicholas," LaCroix breathed. "How can this be?"
A second taste of the fading blood brought bitter
answers. The emotions in the blood
might have been familiar, but the details were not. This creature hadn't encounter LaCroix's lost son, the blood
lacked the richness of time, the other vampire was little more than a
fledgling, younger even than the irresponsible Spaniard. Not Nicholas, just a child who shared his
dreams and delusions as well as the heavy weight of guilt that came with them.
LaCroix glared at the creature that dared to offer him hope,
only to snatch it away again. Ice blue
eyes caught fire as his captive struggled, becoming golden as the vampire
surfaced. LaCroix tightened his grip
on the unfortunate vampire's throat, ripping it away. The creature fell too the ground, stunned but
still clinging to its existence.
Disdainfully LaCroix brought his heel down on the spinal column gleaming
through the torn flesh of the creature's neck.
As the bone crumbled under the pressure and the spinal cord snapped the
body of the creature crumbed into ash.
Still angry that he could so easily be tricked into embracing hope,
LaCroix lifted into the night, looking for others to take his ire out on.
"You're sure you haven't had any visions?" Angel asked.
"Oh yeah… right… I had a migraine with gross-out pictures
and it somehow slipped my mind until just now.
Not!" Cordelia said rolling her
"I'm sorry Cordelia.
Of course you wouldn't forget a vision.
It's just that I've been hearing rumors of some new power around
town. One that's got most of the locals
"So? This thing's
scaring demons, that's a good right? I
mean they're bad so… enemy of my enemy and everything?"
"No, it generally means something bigger and worse moved
into the neighborhood," Angel replied.
"And I think you're just assuming the worst case. Angel do you even know the meaning of
"In my experience it's often synonymous for self-deluded."
"Ha-ha. You just
want an excuse to get out of taking your test Wednesday."
"Cordelia, I'm not anywhere near as worried about that test
as you think I am," Angel protested.
"I'm trying to evaluate a potential threat."
LaCroix stood outside the burned out building that had once
held the offices of Angel Investigations.
He knew that the child who reminded him of Nicholas had once
considered this place home. Obviously
that was no longer the case.
Since tasting the young one's blood LaCroix had been unable
to forget him. He wanted to see this
child who was so reminiscent of his Nicholas.
LaCroix couldn't say why he was so drawn to the other vampire; he wasn't
Nicholas, he simply shared Nicholas' most exasperating characteristics. LaCroix could see no reason why he would
wish to involve himself with yet another troublesome, doomed individual, and
this one wasn't even family. Hadn't
Nicholas caused him enough pain? If he
had any sense left he'd want nothing to do with the young vampire. And yet here he was, outside the place which
had been a home to the other.
Only it was a dead-end.
"Well that's really for the best," LaCroix told himself. Of course his son could have identified a
person with much less to go on than this.
If Nicholas could manage it, he could hardly do less.
LaCroix stalked into the condemned building. If his quarry were as similar to Nicholas as
he suspected the blast had undoubtedly originated in his home.
However, determining ground zero required a knowledge of
explosives, which LaCroix lacked. Well,
Nicholas had always relied on experts such as the good Doctor in his
investigation, LaCroix reasoned turning to the blood-memories he'd
obtained. The blood hadn't been fresh
the memories were little more than impressions and a certain feel of
familiarity which had led him to the building.
Still his quarry had come home to this place hundreds of
times. It was a simple thing to allow
the memories to guide him to an underground apartment. The place was black with char; many of the
furnishings had been shattered in the blast.
Nothing whole had been left behind.
LaCroix picked through what had been left. A few broken dishes, still too many for a
vampire, perhaps it was evidence of a mortal pet. LaCroix made a note to deal gently with mortal when he found what
he sought. He had been cavalier in his
regard of Nicholas' mortals, had believed that the Doctor's death would sever
Nicholas' ties to the life he'd created in Toronto, rather it had ended
Nicholas' interest in life altogether.
When Nicholas had asked LaCroix for his help it had been
given. The bond between himself and his
child told LaCroix that Nicholas would leave him to follow his Doctor, to
follow Natalie, one way or another.
LaCroix had always said that Nicholas didn't know what he wanted, but in
the end, he wanted to with Natalie, and between Nicholas' beliefs and Natalie's
time frame and LaCroix's own interference, Death had been the only place they
could be together. Given the option to
go back, LaCroix would not have left Nicholas with so few options.
"There is no way back," LaCroix reminded himself
angrily. "What's done is done and can
only be lived with. I will not fall
into Nicholas' trap of guilt and endless morning for that which is lost."
Decisively the ancient vampire turned his attention back to
the charred apartment and the task at hand.
A more diligent search turned up only one other object of
interest, a half burnt, badly water-stained address book. The tattered book yielded only a few names
and telephone numbers, two of which were useless for LaCroix; the entries for
Giles and Buffy had mailing addresses in Sunnydale, the current Slayer's base
of operations. The other entries were
more helpful, Doyle, Cordelia Chase, Wesley Wyndom-Price and Kate Lockley all
possessed Los Angeles numbers.
LaCroix found the first two numbers disconnected and no one
answered at the third, but Kate Lockley answered promptly with a curt,
"Detective Lockley here."
LaCroix smiled dryly, it didn't surprise him in the
slightest that the younger vampire had ties with the local police
department. "Still the police had such
a habit of unnecessarily complicating matters," LaCroix thought as he hung up
Prank calls, Kate Lockley thought with a scowl turning back
to the individual who'd been waiting at her desk when she'd arrived for her
She'd originally thought he was Angel, the look the officer
manning the front desk had given her when he mentioned that someone was waiting
for her was the same one that she encountered when certain colleges made comments
about how maybe they should become PI's with only one name if they wanted a
favor from her.
Once those comments had caused her to blush and her snarls
had only covered her embarrassment.
Once, back when she'd believed Angel was just a handsome man as awkward
in social situations as she was. Kate
had thought that maybe he was the one.
Gorgeous, painfully sincere in his desire to help people, and best of
all he didn't seem to expect her to be some helpless damsel in distress.
But it was all a mask. Angel wasn't her type… Hell, he wasn't even a member of her
species, and if the legends she'd found about Angelus contained even a kernel
of truth, he was a serial killer without equal. At least not in the human world, she had yet to determine the
scope of his atrocities in his world's scale.
He said he'd changed, and Kate knew it was the truth. Angel wasn't the psychotic killer she'd read
about, but he was a part of that other reality. The reality that had killed her father. A reality that included creatures that made a mockery of the laws
she was sworn to up-hold. They blended
with her society when they choose then shattered it with their violence
whenever the mood struck. Even Angel,
with all the changes he was so proud of, could cast every trace of humanity
when it suited him.
Angel killed that thing on the train without a second
thought, and then had the nerve to come tell her, "Oops, that one wasn't evil
after all." He didn't even feel guilt
That told Kate more than she needed to know about demons,
about their reality. The only law they
lived by was the last one standing is right.
She'd wanted to believe Angel was different, but she knew
better. The night that her father died
Kate had abandoned her reality for Angel's.
She walked into that warehouse with every intention of taking her
vengeance their way, making them pay with her gun and the stakes she'd brought.
Kate had killed a person in the line of duty before. After
weeks of second guessing herself IA had cleared her of any wrongdoing. Sometimes she still wondered if it had had
to end with a man dead by her hand.
Kate couldn't have imagined that a time would come when she'd kill for
vengeance, but she had.
Afterwards, as she sat in the ruins of her self-image, Angel
had resumed the cloak of normality and offered condolences for her father's
death. He could step between her world
and his without pause. Behead a demon
one minute and play the part of a concerned friend in the next. She couldn't do that. Once she stepped into Angel's world there
was no way back for her. The shadows
were full of monsters now and Kate had originally believed that nothing could
Now she had hope though.
Her visitor of the night had given her that hope.
Corin had spent almost two hours talking around the subject
before he came to his point. He was a
demon hunter. Specifically a vampire
hunter, he believed that the reality Kate had been forced into could be washed
He had more experience with demons than Kate had. Corin had been bitten by a vampire and had
lived to tell about it. Had been
changed by it in a way that was much more personal than what Angel had done to
Kate. Corin had gained an intimate
knowledge of vampires from that bite, he knew their weakness and could sense
their presence. He had even gained a
part of their strength and speed. He
had the ability to destroy them where they hid, and he wasn't alone. Kate wasn't alone any more; she wasn't the
only human in a sea of horror story monsters.
They had allies and a cause: to rid their reality of those creatures
which had no place under the sun.
"Your Angel won't be alone," Corin was saying. "Vampires don't work that way. They need their Community, their
contacts. It's how they blend in, how
they cover their kills. They all kill
Detective; don't delude yourself on that point. They may be able to obtain sustenance in other ways in this day
and age, but they're still predators.
They need the kill as much as the blood.
"You don't have to convince me of that," Kate replied.
"You're lucky then," Corin said, fingering the jagged scar
on the side of his neck. "It took this
to convince me. Marissa and I had been
a couple for five years when she did this to me. I thought she loved me, but in the end I was just prey. I got lucky, Marissa was injured when she
attacked me, I managed to break free of her and got the curtains of the
apartment we shared open before she could finish the job."
"I'm sorry. I can't
imagine how I'd have felt if I'd been in your place." Kate said. "What can I do
to help you?"
"We find your friend Angel, he's our key to the Community."
LaCroix's hunt had been much more satisfying that night.
He had found Wyndom-Price at the address listed and followed
him to Miss Chase's new residence, a distinct step up from the multi-level
hovel that he had been referred to.
Both were mortal, but Miss Chase's other guest was distinctly not.
LaCroix had known that this was the one he sought from his
first glimpse of the young vampire. The
light that he had only previously associated with his Nicholas was an integral
part of the other vampire, a fact that surprised LaCroix to no end. He had always believed it was Nicholas'
coloring; curly sun-gold hair and clear blue eyes like a summer sky, that had
caused his favorite child to become linked to LaCroix's fading memories of the
day. But this young one, dark of hair
and eyes, glowed with that same light.
LaCroix kept his presence carefully cloaked from the younger
vampire as he neared the window of the apartment.
The two males sat at the kitchen table, searching intently
through a stack of antique tomes, occasionally referring a question to the girl
who was slumped on a nearby couch, a damp rag on her forehead and a bottle of
aspirin clutched in her hand.
Sneaking a quick look at her thoroughly busy companions, the
girl quickly opened the aspirin bottle.
"Cordelia…" The vampire objected. "You're not supposed to take anymore for another twenty-four
"Angel," the girl whined.
"I swear my head's going to literally explode. Just one more, please?"
"I'm sorry Cordelia," Angel said softly regret filling his
dark eyes. "It's not safe."
"Perhaps you should schedule an appointment with a
doctor. Ever since Vocah's attack the
pain accompanying your visions has been worse.
There might have been some lingering damage done," Wyndom-Price
LaCroix easily deciphered the look of guilt that settled on
Angel's face. Such a destructive
emotion, LaCroix thought. Nicholas had
invited such misery into his life through his endless fascination with claiming
responsibility for everything that went wrong.
Such a pointless waste of time and energy. Even when the fault truly belonged to Nicholas nothing was
changed by his guilt. More often the
fault lay elsewhere but Nicholas still choose to suffer the guilt.
"Patterson, you're the one proctoring the PI licensing exam
right?" Kate asked.
"That's right Detective, is there a problem?" the officer
"No," Kate laughed nervously. "It's just that a friend of mine is taking the test. We've been planning a surprise birthday
party for him, but we couldn't think of a way to get him there without making
him suspicious and I was thinking, you could tell him that the test had been
"I don't know Detective."
"The party's two days before he's scheduled to take the
test. It won't cause any problems,"
Kate pushed. "I'd owe you."
"I'd forget the identity to the person who broke the
Captain's special coffee mug, the one his daughter gave him."
"How'd you? … What's your
"You remember Angel?
He escorted me to my Dad's retirement party."
"Well, that was quite invigorating," said Wesley shakily as
Angel helped the battered Watcher back to his feet.
"Invigorating?" Angel asked examining the notch the demon's
scaly hide had taken out of his axe blade.
Wesley retrieved his glasses from his pocket, briefly
glanced at the twisted bit of metal and glass then sadly tossed them into a
nearby dumpster. "Destructive?" he
"I'd throw in painful and exhausting," Angel said rubbing
his badly bruised shoulder.
"It could have been worse.
Cordelia did an amazing job of describing the demon, if we hadn't been
able to identify it, hadn't known about that spot on the Raknid's spine, we
never would have managed to kill it." Wesley said.
"Uh… Wes, things just got worse," Angel said.
Angel nodded toward a clawed hand reaching around the corner
in front of them. "Looks like it had a
The second Raknid, an ugly conglomeration of fur, feathers
and scales built roughly along the same lines as Raptor, with a crocodile's
snout and a long prehensile tail with a bony knob on the end stalked into view.
Wesley and Angel moved apart, faces grim, weapons raised.
The creature's eyes, glowing like molten lava, moved from
one man to the other, evaluating which represented the greater threat. With a high-pitched scream the Raknid threw
itself at Angel.
The souled vampire smashed the flat of his axe into the
demon's bony snout, briefly stunning it.
Seeing an opening Wesley lunged for the kill spot on the Raknid's
back. The demon's tail snapped like a
whip, the heavy end catching the ex-Watcher squarely in the chest.
Wesley fell back with a moan, his sword dropping to the
ground as he gasped for air.
"Wes!" Angel yelled, ice forming in his stomach at the sound
of bones cracking. However long he did
this Angel didn't think that he'd ever get used to the terror he felt at the
possibility of loosing one of his mortal friends. He never used to think about it, not really. Before Doyle had died he had believed that
somehow his friends would always be saved.
Like a teenager he'd believed that they were invulnerable. Buffy had been dead, but Xander brought her
back. He'd been sent to Hell but he
came back only a little worse for wear.
They'd faced the Master and the Mayor's ascension without casualties. The only people he'd ever lost had been lost
to the demon that shared his body, and Angel had come to believe that the only
thing he really needed to fear was himself.
As long as he took precautions to ensure that his soul stayed firmly in
control everything would work out okay… and then the Scourge had come and taken
Doyle from him.
Still clutching his chest and struggling to breathe Wesley
forced himself to meet Angel's eyes then nodded toward the demon.
"Right," Angel said softly allowing the change to over-take
him. An angry rumble filled the air as
Angel focused on the creature, now in full demon mode himself. "First take care
of the threat, then you can get Wesley to the hospital." He thought glaring at
the Raknid with glowing yellow eyes.
Angel feinted forward then ducked under the Raknid's
tail. As it swept past him Angel
snapped his axe into place. The force
of the creature's own momentum drove Angel's blade through its flesh. The bony weight that had done so much damage
to Wesley fell to the ground as the Raknid shrieked in pain and outrage.
The Raknid swiveled quickly on its powerful hind legs,
grabbing Angel's arm in its jaws then jerking its head away.
Angel was pulled off balance, as he fell the Raknid's teeth
tore through his heavy coat and the flesh beneath. The dark haired vampire rolled back to his feet, out of range of
the demon. Painfully Angel transferred
his axe to his good hand, trying to ignore the slow dripping of blood from the
jagged wounds in his arm.
Both injured and more cautious now Angel and the Raknid
circled each other, looking for an opening.
The Raknid's high screams punctuated Angel's continuous low snarling.
In the background Wesley shakily reclaimed his sword and
staggered to his feet, leaning his weight against the wall, cradling his
cracked ribs with his free arm.
The Raknid lunged at Angel, who dodged to the side,
completely forgetting the demon's shortened tail in his haste to avoid its
teeth and claws. The forgotten tail
cracked against the side of Angel's knee forcefully.
Angel's fangs bit through his bottom lip as he felt
something tear in his knee.
The Raknid followed up its latest attack with another lung,
trying to catch the vampire in its jaws.
Angel jumped back, his injured leg collapsing under him as he landed.
Grimly Angel got back to his feet, preparing for the next
"You appear to be in need a assistance," a smooth, deep
All three combatants turned to stare at the new comer. He was a tall, painfully pale man wearing a
black suit and shirt. His close-cropped
hair was stark white, only a shade lighter than his skin, pale blue eyes, cold
as ice surveyed the scene.
He took in Angel's fangs, glowing eyes and demonically
twisted features with a hint of surprised confusion apparent in his eyes before
turning his attention to the Raknid, this creature he regarded with simple
"And I believed that the Slayer was the only reason to avoid
Hellmouths," the stranger sighed.
The Raknid attacked its newest opponent only to find its
teeth clacking together on empty air as the stranger moved out of its way
faster than the eye could follow.
Confused the creature looked around for its missing enemy.
While it was distracted Wesley drove his sword into the
creature's flank. Infuriated the Raknid
turned on him, only to have Wesley snatched out of its reach by the
The demon screamed a challenged at this new enemy and to
Wesley and Angel's shock the man responded with a threatening snarl. His pale blue eyes caught fire and his teeth
elongated into fangs.
As the stranger changed Angel was suddenly filled with the
sense of another vampire, one which was ancient, much older than the
two-hundred and fifty year old vampire had believed was possible, even for a
member of his species.
The Ancient grabbed the sword Wesley has left embedded in
the Raknid's side, dragging it down through the creature's body as he tore it
free. He smiled around his fangs as he
raised the gore-covered sword to the ready.
As the creature turned to face the other vampire Angel threw
his axe, it twirled, end over end, twice before sinking cleanly into the
Raknid's back, perfectly centered between the creature's shoulder blades,
severing it's spinal cord.
With a last, sickly whimper the creature sank to the ground.
Limping heavily Angel placed himself between Wesley and the
"I have no intention of harming your pet," the ancient
vampire said, tossing Angel the gore-encrusted sword he'd taken from the
"Who are you?" Angel asked, allowing his features to shift
to their normal, human seeming.
"Lucien LaCroix," the older vampire replied. "And you are Angel, correct?"
Angel nodded. "What
"We will speak more later," stated LaCroix. "For the moment tend to your injuries and
those of your mortal friend." With that
the ancient took flight, rapidly disappearing from Wesley and Angel's startled
"What exactly was the boy," LaCroix wondered. He was so like Nicholas and yet his true
countenance showed the taint of one of the Failed. In LaCroix's experience the Failed were twisted, evil beings,
completely consumed by blood lust to the exclusion of all else. To compare Nicholas to one of those
creatures bordered on the sacrilegious, and yet Angel, despite his appearance,
was not what LaCroix had come to expect from one of the Failed.
Angel possessed the same basic goodness and innocence that
had been central to Nicholas despite his eight centuries of darkness.
But Angel was undeniably Failed. His speed was only a fraction of a true vampire's and his presence
was much weaker than LaCroix had expected, Angel's blood tasted of centuries
but a twenty-year-old fledgling could have presented a stronger front.
"I can't understand it.
LaCroix feels older than time, but his demon form is less corrupted than
a newly risen vampire," Angel said.
"Cordelia, you've seen the Master, he was only six hundred."
"He was in major need of a facial. Can you say eeew? I
wonder if his face got stuck that way, cause if I were him I would have covered
it up," Cordelia commented factiously.
Angel repressed a snort of laughter, "I asked him that very
thing the first time I saw him."
"LaCroix was amazingly helpful and friendly for a vampire,"
Wesley said, steering the conversation back on track. "Also he flew, I didn't think vampires could fly."
"It's not a common ability, a few of us can. Penn and I could both jump farther than our strength could
account for. A few others like Dru and
Master have mesmeric powers. I've seen
stories where all sorts of powers are attributed to vampire, but the reality is
none of us have all those things, a very few of us have one of those abilities,
but that's it. I wish I knew what
LaCroix wants with us."
"If he's as old as you think he is there should be some
mention of him in the Watcher's Diaries," Wesley said. "I'll have to ask Giles to check them for
"Well, in the meantime, Angel your test's been moved up,"
Cordelia commented. "It's at 9:00
tomorrow morning at 6775 NE Clover Dr. Office #6."
"Did they say why?" Angel asked.
"Nope, they just called and gave the new info," Cordelia
"That's after sunrise," Wesley said. "And Clover's far
enough in to the suburbs that tunnel access isn't likely."
"What do you want to bet Kate's involved somehow," Angel remarked. "She's completely dedicated herself to
making my life miserable."
"She needs more hobbies," Cordelia said.
"Alright, I got the last of the Holy Water unloaded," Kate
said. "Why do we need so much?"
"He won't give us the information willingly," Corin said.
"Can't we just threaten to lock him in a sunny room?" Kate
"Vampires understand what it means to fall into the hands of
a Hunter. Death isn't a threat in that
situation, it is simply the inevitable conclusion of the proceedings," Corin
"Okay…" Kate said a bit uncertainly.
"Despite his outward appearance, Angel is a monster,
remember that," Corin instructed.
"What else needs to be done?" Kate asked, steeling her
"We're ready," Corin said.
"As soon as the vampire is captured we can start."
"We're here," Wesley said.
"It doesn't look like much, are you sure this is the right address?"
"Of course it's right, I took the message," Cordelia
said. "Now Angel do you want us to come
in with you?"
Huddled under a blanket in the back of the car Angel rolled
his eyes. "That won't be necessary
Cordelia, but thank you for asking.
Wesley, I think the test lasts three hours. Which side of the car is closer to the building?"
"Mine, it's the red brick one right across from us," Wesley
answered getting out of the car and leaning the seat forward.
Angel pulled his coat over his head and dashed across the
sunlit sidewalk into the welcome shelter of the building.
"Good luck!" Cordelia yelled.
Angel paused just inside the doorway to straighten his
cloths to make an entrance like a normal person rather than a vampire fleeing
the sun's light.
The office building looked deserted, not to mention being
just a few steps away from being condemned.
"Strange place for a test," Angel commented. "Maybe the city's trying to save money. The rent on this place has got to be cheap."
Angel climbed to the top floor office where the test had
been scheduled. The room was empty
except for a few tables and one other person, a man with dark, curly hair and
serious storm gray eyes wide-set in a lightly freckled, triangular face.
"I thought there were a group of us taking the exam," Angel
said. "This is where the PI licensing
exam is being held?"
"You're in the right place Angel," the man replied. "Please come in."
"How do you know my name?" Angel demanded suspiciously.
"Hello Angel," Kate said from the doorway behind him. Angel turned to see her leveling a crossbow
at his chest.
Behind him Corin pulled a cord and the drapes fell away from
the room's numerous windows, forcing Angel into the one shadowed corner left.
"Kate? What are you
doing?" he asked.
"You told me I should try having you as an enemy. So tell me Angel how am I doing so far?"
Kate said coldly.
Angel glanced back at the other man who was also holding a
crossbow now. "Who's your friend?" he
"Corin? He's a
professional, just full of fun facts about the modern vampire."
Corin cautiously set a glass at the edge of the pool of
shadows Angel stood in. "Drink it," He
Angel picked up the glass, examined it briefly, "What is
"Not important," Corin replied.
"Not thirty," Angel said casually tossing the glass across
Corin fired his crossbow and reloaded in one easy
motion. Angel snatched the bolt out of
the air a hand's breathe from his shoulder.
"Good reflexes," Corin remarked. "I haven't seen that too often.
Can you handle two at once?"
Corin and Kate fired simultaneously. Angel caught Kate's bolt, which would have
passed through his heart, but could do nothing about Corin's except wince in
pain as it embedded in his thigh.
"What did you think you were doing?" Corin yelled at
Kate. "We can't kill him yet!"
"I missed," Kate replied, sounding chastened. "It was an accident."
Angel could feel numbness replacing the pain in his leg, an
area of deadened nerves spreading out from the arrow. He fell to his knees as his leg gave out. A few seconds later he toppled helplessly to
Corin pulled a heavy set of manacles from the bag behind his
desk as he said. "Kate, get the body bag."
"What's wrong with him?" Kate asked.
"The bolts were coated in curare, it acts as a highly
effective paralyzing agent on vampires."
"He's still conscious?" Kate asked staring at Angel's
"Yes, but he won't even be able to blink his eyes for at
least two hours," Corin explained.
"Then why all the precautions?" Kate asked gesturing to the
"In case I'm wrong."
"Thank you Aristotle," LaCroix said. "Your help has been appreciated."
"I was glad to be of assistance General. I was sorry to hear about Nicholas, he was a
good friend. A bit odd, but still a
"Nicholas should have listened to me," LaCroix said
harshly. "There was no other way his
infatuation with mortals and guilt could have ended. Thank you for your time and goodbye." LaCroix firmly terminated the phone call, then turned on his
computer to retrieve the files Aristotle had sent him.
LaCroix quickly read the summary on the vampire Angel or
Angelus, commenting softly to himself as he read.
"Romantically involved with the current Slayer, really
Angelus. Gypsy curses? Perhaps some of Nicholas' more obscure cures
shouldn't have been dismissed quite so casually. Aw yes, origins; Angelus, child of Darla, child of Joseph
Heinlich Nest, failed child of Richard of Kent. Richard always was the careless sort. Nest and Darla both reported dead, the work of the current Slayer."
"Angelus, born in Galway; Ireland, 1727 AD; called Liam
Roark; turned 1753 AD. Cursed with a
soul,1898, a soul, how quaint. Still it
seems the Romany did him a favor, the boy is more than half-way to becoming a
true vampire despite his linage."
"If he'd gone on as he began the Enforcers would have
undoubtedly taken notice."
Finishing the summary, LaCroix settled in to read the rather
extensive files detailing the history of his newest interest.
"Nothing?" Wesley asked sounding stunned. "How can the Watchers have no information on
a vampire as ancient as this LaCroix seems to be?"
Giles sighed. "The
fact remains there are no records of this individual as a Vampire. However, Willow's friend Tara used to listen
to a late night radio persona who called himself the Nightcrawler. She remembered that his true name was Lucien
LaCroix. Willow was able to download
transcripts of a number of his shows from the Internet. It seems he had a fairly enthusiastic
"He broadcasted out of Toronto, Ontario for a few years as
well as owning a nightclub there, the "Raven".
A headless body was found at the club shortly before it closed, the
Nightcrawler program was abruptly discontinued and your Mr. LaCroix disappeared
"Could he have killed the victim?" Wesley asked.
"He was cleared by the police, however; both investigating
officers as well as the Medical Examiner assigned to the case all died or
disappeared shortly after the incident," Giles said. "This LaCroix seems very integrated into society for a vampire. Angel is the only vampire I've ever heard of
who could begin to compare," Giles continued.
"That's not quite accurate," Wesley said. "Angel's first case here in LA involved a
"In any case, LaCroix seems like a most dangerous
individual, you should be cautious in your dealings with him despite any
seeming benevolence on his part."
"Thank you, and please thank Willow and Tara for their
assistance. I'll ask Cordelia to
retrieve those files from the dread machine," Wesley said.
"Yes, she's become quite skilled in researching via the
"Miraculous, just a few years ago Jenny was despairing of
the day that it would be feasible to expect Cordelia to complete even basic
assignments without a catastrophe occurring," Giles said.
"Speaking of Cordelia, I really must be going. I need to pick her up from her audition
before collecting Angel from his exam," Wesley commented.
"Why?" Angel asked as soon as he was able.
Kate and Corin had relocated him to what looked like a
larger storage unit. They had chained
him to a heavy metal table that reminded Angel uncomfortably of a dissection
table and cut away his clothes. Then
they left him there while the curare wore off.
Now they'd returned.
"Good, you can speak.
Now we can begin," Corin said, taking the lead again. Kate stood in the background looking like
she wished she were anywhere else.
"Why?" Angel repeated.
"Where does the LA Community congregate?" Corin asked.
"What?" Angel replied in confusion.
Corin nodded to himself.
"Your co-operation wasn't actually expected." To Kate he said, "Vampires fiercely protect their anonymity."
"Where'd you dig this guy up Kate?" Angel asked. "I doubt he's ever seen a real vampire
before. Probably just rented out all
the vampire flicks at the local video store."
Corin dumped a pitcher of water into a hollow sphere
suspended on a chain above Angel. "This
is a version of Chinese water torture," he explained releasing the sphere.
A drop of water from the device sizzled as it struck Angel's
"The holy water is what makes it unique," Corin
continued. "Come along Kate, it will
take a half hour for the water to run out."
"He's not there!" Cordelia announced running back to the
car. "No one's there!"
"What?" Wesley demanded.
"The whole building's empty and the room were Angel's test
was supposed to be had skylights and way more windows that any room needs!"
"Oh dear… I'll park then join you in seeking clues."
Four hours. Eight
pitchers of holy water raining down on his unprotected flesh. Innumerable tiny annoying burns, which were
beginning to overlap and deepen into more serious injuries as his overtaxed
system ceased to heal his injuries.
Time broken only by Corin's inane questions and periodic refillings of
the torture device.
Three pitchers ago Angel had tried explaining that vampires
simply didn't have the sort of orderly civilized society that Corin was
seeking. At most they had hunting packs
maintained by a particularly vicious or powerful leader, but the packs were
autonomous, each guarding its territory with all the jealous of rival gangs.
Corin refused to believe him, and the pointless torment
Angel tried to distract himself from the pain by thinking
about other things; unsolved cases, setting up a new office and apartment, the
mystery that was Lucien LaCroix; however, it turned out that the holy water was
much more effective at distracting him from his thoughts than his thoughts were
at distracting him from the holy water.
Eventually he gave them up in favor of counting swings of the sphere and
trying to guess where the next drop would land so he could brace himself
against the pain.
"What if he really doesn't know?" Kate asked.
"They all know," Corin said calmly.
"Angel's killed every other vampire I've ever seen around
him. He even tried to kill that Penn
guy and Angel was the one who made him.
I don't thing Angel socializes much with other vampires," Kate argued.
"I've been inside their heads. Marissa drank from me, I know vampires in a way that you are
incapable of. Those who you knew as
Vampires were probably rogues. He might
even be an Enforcer. Marissa warned me
that they hunted down those who broke their code and the mortals who knew of
vampires," Corin said. "He lies. Even
now he tries to mislead us to protect his people from exposure."
"Angel's only friends are human. Corin I've seen them in sunlight. There is no way I could be wrong. I don't think Angel even likes other vampires," Kate said.
"It's time for another pitcher," Corin commented.
"Angel didn't leave that building on his own," Wesley
said. "There isn't any access to the
sewers for blocks. He couldn't have
made it that far."
"The test wasn't really today," Cordelia said. "Cop Lady had them tell Angel it had been
changed and what am I supposed to do?
Tell the police that I think their detective kidnapped or killed my
friend 'cause he's a vampire?"
"Wesley, Cop Lady couldn't have really killed Angel could
she? I mean she's a human; Angel can
protect himself from a normal human right?
Even if she does know about vampires."
"Angel is quite capable," Wesley said. "Still, we should find him, Detective
Lockley has proved that her intentions toward Angel are anything but friendly
and I doubt Angel could bring himself to harm her despite her recent behavior."
"Oooh," Cordelia moaned.
"I take it Angelus has gotten himself into trouble?" LaCroix said stepping into Cordelia's living
"LaCroix!" Wesley exclaimed.
"You're… you're a vampire," Cordelia stammered. "You can't come in here, I didn't invite
"And what, prey tell, does that have to do with anything?"
LaCroix asked, annoyed. "What has
"Vampires cannot enter an inhabited human dwelling without
an invitation," Wesley explained, feeling slightly ridiculous explaining
vampirism to a vampire.
"Why ever not?" LaCroix asked. "Ah, perhaps it's a "psychosomatic reaction" as Dr. Lambert would
have said. She was quite convinced that
holy symbols were not truly harmful to my kind as well."
"Now, if that is explained to your satisfaction, what has
happened?" LaCroix demanded in a tone that brooked no further delays.
"Quite frankly, Mr. LaCroix, we don't trust you," Wesley
said. "We don't even know that you
LaCroix stared into Wesley's eyes, focused on his heartbeat
and in a deep compelling voice demanded.
"Where is Angelus?"
"Missing," Wesley replied in a daze.
"Hey!" Cordelia exclaimed. "What happened to not trusting
the creepy vampire?"
"Tell me what you suspect," LaCroix ordered.
"We thing Detective Lockley abducted him," Wesley answered.
And then LaCroix was gone.
"Wow, even Angel doesn't disappear like that," said
Cordelia. "Are we sure he's a vampire?"
Wesley shook his head slightly as if clearing away
cobwebs. "What happened?" he
asked. "I didn't intend to say all
"So why did you?" Cordelia asked.
"It just came out, I couldn't not say it. I couldn't hear anything but his voice and I
just couldn't not answer," Wesley stammered.
"Well, we'll just have to find Angel first," Cordelia said
determinedly. "So what do we do now?"
"Detective Lockley is really our only lead. I think we should follow her," Wesley
"In that case, it's a good thing cop lady never noticed us,
cause she was always to busy staring or glaring at Angel."
"Where do we find the Community?" Corin asked implacably.
"There is no Community!" Angel exclaimed.
Angel's chest was a collage of red blisters and charred,
black patches. His body's efforts to
heal itself had exhausted him. His every
cell screamed for blood with which to restore itself.
"Angel," Kate said, speaking to him for the first time in
seventeen hours. "Please, just tell
him, end this."
"How?" Angel asked.
"Tell us what we need to know," Kate encouraged. "You don't have to hurt anymore."
Angel laughed bitterly.
"Nothing to tell," he said.
"What he's looking for doesn't exist."
"Your lies are pointless," Corin said. "I know you know."
Silently, tiredly, Angel rolled his eyes. There was nothing he could say to the
This Lockley would not take Angelus from him, LaCroix
thought furiously. He would not loose
another to some mortal female, certainly not this child who bore such a
resemblance to Nicholas.
Angelus was to have been his opportunity to correct the
mistakes he'd made with Nicholas. He
was to have filled the hole Nicholas' death had left in LaCroix's life.
For eight hundred year LaCroix had dedicated so much time
and effort to raising Nicholas.
Advising, chasing and punishing his most contrary child, and then
Nicholas was gone. After eight
centuries he was gone in a single night.
The bond of blood that had stretched between them for so long touched on
only emptiness now.
Emptiness in his mind and in his life. Nicholas was gone and nothing LaCroix could
do had even begun to fill that hollowness.
Then he had found Angelus.
When he thought of the young vampire his pain was dulled.
All the violence, all the destruction had done nothing for
his grief, but LaCroix found solace in planning how he would help his new
It was not a cure, but it was a start. The boy was not his son. Nicholas was lost forever, but Angelus was
so like him, and he was still within reach.
Nicholas had been destroyed by his foolish quest for
mortality, by his guilt, by LaCroix's failure to reach him. But he knew better now, he would not allow
Angelus to destroy himself. LaCroix
would not let things get so out of control again. And he would not allow a mortal to take Angelus from him.
"I don't know," Angel sighed watching Kate pull the globe
away from the table. He waited for her
to add more holy water.
He could see the gleaming white of his ribs showing through
the charred remains of his chest.
"It's okay. I know
you're telling the truth," Kate said.
"I'm sorry, this is wrong."
Kate laughed hysterically.
"Can you imagine what my parents would say if they were alive to see
you? If they knew I was involved in
this? I'm a police officer, police
officers don't torture people, we're the good guys."
"Of course police officers aren't supposed to kill people
either, but that's okay, because you're not really a person are you?"
"You're not real are you Angel? When I kill you there won't be a body, you'll just disappear,
like a nightmare. Not real, you aren't
supposed to be real. Monsters aren't
supposed to be real… and they're not if you kill them."
"But this is real," Kate said, brushing her hand across
Angel's scorched arm. He gasped in
agony. "At first the burns just went
away, and it was okay, but they don't anymore.
This is real, and it's wrong."
"Kate, let me go," Angel pled.
Kate shook her head.
Angel watched helplessly as Kate raised a roughly carved
stake over his heart. He couldn't
believe he was going to die like this; at the hands of a deranged friend turned
enemy, for no reason.
The stake halted in it's decent a millimeter above Angel's
body. Both Kate and Angel stared at the
pale hand gripping the stake below Kate's hand. Slowly their gaze followed the dark clad arm to the tall harsh
looking vampire who had introduced himself to Angel as Lucien LaCroix.
His icy blue eyes took in the damage Angel had suffered
before turning to Kate. She shrank away
from his imposing presence. She'd been
a member of the police force for six years; dealt with all sorts of violent,
dangerous and intimidating people.
She'd never backed down before today, never met anyone who simply
radiated evil like this creature did.
LaCroix cut off her retreat, taking her arm in a vice-like
grip. He traced the line of her jaw
with a gentle touch, Kate shivered at the cool feel of his fingers and at the
deadly intent in his eyes.
"How shall I kill you my dear?" he asked.
"Don't," Angel objected weakly.
"Even after this you would argue for her life?" LaCroix
demanded in shock.
LaCroix sighed, "As a favor to you child, she may keep her
life, but this will not be repeated."
LaCroix turned his formidable gaze back to Kate. "Look at me Detective, listen to me. There are no such things as vampires. Do you understand Detective?"
"I understand," Kate replied tonelessly.
"The very idea of the supernatural is ludicrous to you,"
LaCroix instructed. "Now leave."
Kate turned robotically and walked out.
"What?" Angel asked looking after Kate in confusion.
"Don't concern yourself," LaCroix said.
He examined Angel's bindings briefly with a faint growl tore
the hinges of the manacles apart.
Angel sighed in relief as his over-extended muscles were
finally able to relax. The relief was
short lived as the movement shifted badly burnt flesh.
LaCroix took a knife from his pocket and drew it from
Angel's wrist to his elbow, then repeated the cut on his own arm and pressed
the wounds together.
Angel gasped as he felt his body drawing the offered blood
into itself. As his damaged nerves
began to regenerate.
LaCroix knew it was almost impossible to hypnotize another
vampire, but Angel's mind was almost as undefended as a mortal's and LaCroix's
blood ran in his veins. Beyond that,
LaCroix was not simply another vampire.
"Look at me Angelus," LaCroix said, reaching for the
impossibly slow heartbeat of a vampire.
When he didn't find it, he frowned in confusion, he could feel Angelus'
mind open to him, he should have sensed the boy's life rhythms. LaCroix forced his will onto the
recalcitrant organ and reluctantly Angel's heart pulsed. LaCroix sighed in relief as Angel's pulse
Returning to his original purpose, LaCroix promised, "There
is no pain, sleep now."
Once Angle's eyes had drifted shut LaCroix released his
mind. He wrapped a blanket around the
dark haired vampire ad took to the skies with his awkward burden.
Wesley and Cordelia both jumped as the door to her apartment
swung open just in time to admit LaCroix carrying Angel's unconscious body.
"Where should I put him?" LaCroix demanded.
Cordelia jumped up to guide LaCroix to her room, "What
"Holy water burns," LaCroix explained succinctly. "He won't be able to eat for several
days. I will be by to give him
blood. Once he has healed enough to
feed I'll arrange for human blood to be delivered. I'm quite certain Angelus routinely drinks some form of animal
swill. That will not be allowed until
he is completely healed. I will hold
you responsible for his recovery."
Having had his say LaCroix left as precipitously as he had arrived.
LaCroix stood on a bluff above Los Angeles looking out
across the lights of the city up into the faint stars.
In the past few years his relationship with Nicholas had been
an odd, strained thing, at times held together only by the timeless bond that
carried Nicholas' concerns and preoccupations to him while modern technology in
the form of radio waves carried LaCroix's voice and words back to his estranged
Tonight he set his words on to the wind, trusting, hoping
that somehow he could still reach his lost child.
"Nicholas, it seems I've adopted another child," he
began. "A rather surprising side-effect
of sharing so much blood."
"You would have enjoyed being an older brother to this
one. He's so like you Nicholas. As strange as it may sound to you that is
what drew me to him."
"Perhaps I have learned to appreciate your
peculiarities. Too late, of course."
"Thankfully young Angelus doesn't seek mortality, he merely
believes it will be granted as a boon by his Powers should he accomplish the
feats which they set forth for him. I
have never know a god to be so generous, thus I find it easier to accept his
quest than I did yours."
"Also his linage is of the Failed. A Romany spell returned his sanity, or perhaps cast out the demon
infesting him. He claims it returned
his soul, and I find I can no longer argue against the existence of a
soul. Regardless, he is one of us now,
a true vampire, my blood completed the transformation begun with the curse."
"I believe I've learned enough from the mistakes I made with
you to not drive him away as I did you."
"I find I miss you Nicholas. I hope you were correct and are with your Dr. Lambert as you
desired to be."
"Farewell Nicholas, wish me well in my new endeavor."
Angel relaxed as the Quo-Kari demon dropped dead at his
feet. It was his first case since being
injured and despite what he'd insisted to Cordelia and Wesley he was a long
ways from feeling normal.
For one thing he had a sense of the ancient vampire
LaCroix. Angel knew he hadn't left the
city. He still wondered at the
ancient's intentions. LaCroix was
unlike any vampire Angel had ever met before.
More powerful and yet less mindlessly destructive, but still not
trustworthy. Angel had little doubt
that the ancient had prevented Kate from executing him and had healed him for
some reason other than the goodness of his heart.
Beyond his connection to the other vampire Angel still felt
weak his lungs and chest ached strangely.
When he switched to his demon form it almost hadn't happened. There had been dizziness and pain, for a
moment he hadn't thought the change would come. It had almost cost him the battle. But it hadn't, he reminded himself, and given a little more time
he'd finish healing.