Takes place pre-Buffy series

Rating: PG-13? Maybe R for language.

Summary: "The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation." (Eudora Welty)

Notes: I actually first wrote a version of this story three years ago, the very first fanfic I ever attempted. At the time, it was a scant 1500 words and without some encouraging words from crazywritinfool and yseult, I never would have typed another word.

The story is now 4400 words. I owe any good stuff to my wonderful beta thekorapersoanality. She knew exactly where I was trying to go and got me there.

Brickbats and bouquets always welcome. I don't own, but I wish I had visiting rights. Want, Take, Have - just let me know.

Written for the 10th lyric wheel. Song and lyrics posted at the end of the story.

"So we traveled 3000 miles to park in front of a high school?"

His companion spared him a sideways glance edged with disgust. "That's right, because it's always been my dream to spend six nights in a car with a guy who hasn't bathed in thirty years. And you could please stop doing the hokey pokey in your seat? You're giving my bladder funny ideas."

Angel didn't have an answer for that accusation, much less a witty comeback. Instead, he gripped the steering wheel a little too tightly in a futile effort to stop from squirming. He suspected Whistler thought he kept shifting due to impatience, but as a predator at the top of the food chain, he had an almost infinite capacity to stay still. Any tendency toward impetuousness he might once have had had been beaten out of him over two centuries ago by Darla. What was driving him to act like a hyperactive two-year-old was simple, bone deep, instinctual fear. He knew the windows were blacked out, but the warmth of the sun was causing every supposedly dead nerve in his body to fire warning signals. He desperately wanted to jump in the back seat and cower before he combusted. He honestly didn't know how much longer he could sit here before he drove off, trying to find some shade.

It also didn't help that in mere minutes; whatever fate Whistler was keen on showing him was about to occur. He slid on the seat again, the cracked vinyl groaning underneath him. If he had any inkling that saying yes to Whistler meant a scenic buddy trip across the country, except without seeing any scenery and with a guy who no one in his or her right mind would consider buddy material, he would have... He rubbed his forehead briefly. He would have said yes anyway. Whistler had told him he could become someone. Frankly, Angel doubted it, but there was some small part of him that longed to believe that. Whenever he had tried to broach the subject during the long drive, Whistler had only answered with "Patience," or "You'll know soon enough," or Angel's least favorite, "Curiosity killed the vampire." Now that the answers were almost here, Angel wondered whether he should just step on the gas and bolt. When had change ever brought anything but misery, either to himself or others?

A loud discordant buzzer sounded from within the building, permanently derailing his inner monologue. "Keep your eyes peeled." Whistler pointed to the steps, which were suddenly swarming with students. New York City might have had a population of eight million, but Angel had found it relatively simple to avoid almost all of them, all the time. During the day, he slept in buildings so dilapidated and structurally unsound that even the homeless avoided them, or he squatted in abandoned parts of the subway system that no human could get to. He hunted vermin in the middle of the night, no matter how dank and uninhabitable his current living quarters were, rats were always happy to share his home. When he became so claustrophobic that he braved the streets, he kept to areas that were dangerous even during the day and therefore likely to be devoid of people. When he occasionally did run across someone, they tended to be so doped up that they smelled thoroughly unappealing, even to a half-starved vampire. And when he did scent someone healthy he ran the other way, until he was alone again.

Perfume, pizza, soap, bubblegum – the essence of teenager wafted over to Angel. Five hundred different heartbeats, each one a private symphony being played just for him. Five hundred sets of hormones, each one begging him to seduce and strike until he was sated. He stared out of the passenger window, unconsciously licking his lips.

His eyes darted from student to student. The tall, slender boy coming down the stair, a look of disdain painted on his face...in his mind's eye the boy was a Victorian dandy, who had contemptuously ignored Angel and his lower class Irish accent. It had taken Angel a long three days to teach him manners. Angel closed his eyes in an effort to shut off the memory. When he opened them again, he stared at a girl whose downward gaze reminded him of a shy young serving girl he had fancied. He had spent five months carefully wooing her. Once he was sure of her affections, he had brutally raped her and left her bleeding in the street. Angel shuddered, wondering if there would ever be a time when every face didn't remind him of someone else. When every face he saw didn't remind him of a murder, a torture, a rape he had gleefully committed. He twisted a little in his seat and felt the door handle hit him in the back. Maybe this was why Whistler had brought him here. He had never had the guts to end his existence, but this time, all he had to do was open the handle behind him and the sun would do its work.

He lifted his eyes for a second and that's when he saw Darla walking down the high school steps. He was so shocked that it took him a second to realize it wasn't Darla but a girl with a similar build and hair color. All thoughts of suicide vanished as he watched, fascinated. She was much younger than Darla had been at the time of her death, and this girl was tan whereas Darla had looked to be made of porcelain, but she was just as pretty to Angel's eyes. She was obviously the leader as he watched the other girls look at her with undisguised adoration. Straining to listen through the slightly opened car window, he could hear her happily discussing her plans to make her boyfriend beg and crawl. He blanched a bit even as a small tendril of desire crept up his spine, remembering a long ago time when Darla had forced him to literally lick her shoes after doing something that had pissed her off. The girl now sat on the steps, regally ignoring everything around her. As she began to blithely lick a sucker, he decided that she exhibited some of Darla's other skills also.

Whistler gave Angel a quick jab in the ribs. "Keep your eyes on 'My Boy Lollipop' over there." Whistler glanced at Angel's lap and snickered. "Never mind. I see you found Miss Tongue on your own. What I wouldn't give for ten minutes alone with that mouth." He turned to Angel and leered. "Now pay close attention. It's all going down in just a moment."

Angel watched as a car pulled up and a middle-aged man came out to speak to the girl. Stunned comprehension finally dawned. "You dragged me across the country to see the damned vampire slayer being called?" His eyes narrowed and his voice became low, soft, dangerous. "What the fuck is the matter with you? Did you somehow forget I'm a vampire?" Faster than the eye could follow, he reached for the smaller demon and squeezed his hands around his neck. Whistler began to turn an alarming shade of blue and Angel pressed harder. He knew exactly what would happen. The blood vessels in the eye would start to break. The tongue would blacken. Whistler would claw at him in a futile gesture of panic. Angel's insides tightened in remembered excitement – and then his stomach roiled in disgust. He let go and slumped down in his seat.

Whistler glared at him, coughed a few times and cleared his throat as if he was gargling. He straightened his hat and spoke in a harsh whisper. "How is a souled vampire like a fifteen year old boy with a copy of Hustler?" He didn't wait for a response before continuing. "Because neither of them can keep their hands where they belong and both of them feel guilty afterwards." Angel managed to shrink further into the seat as Whistler glared at him. "Drive, will ya? We still got places to go later."