Feels Like Joy

By Shakespeare's Girl

Warnings: (If I'm putting them here, there must be something, huh?) Darkfic, rape, torture, remembered violence and fantasized violence, and real violence too...kinda... Dark Angel, but not quite Angelus, which makes all this more disturbing if you ask me.

A/N: This fic is DARK. Like insanely dark. Like I almost hate this fic, it's so dark, and not what I usually do at all. This came out of weeks of depression, and probably too many late night Angel marathons. I think it was partially inspired by "Somnambulist" and partially by "Hero," although in a very twisted way. It's set in Season Two, probably days after Angel fires his staff, before they set up Angel Investigations on their own. Done to explore the other direction Angel could have gone, in essence, what may have happened had he not had Lorne and his epiphany. Okay, you've been warned.

There is a joy that comes only with the freedom of purity. Pure innocence, pure helplessness, pure evil. The joy that we taste when we find the purist emotion we possess is overwhelming. It consumes us, it breaks us, and it destroys us, even as it makes us stronger. Few people in this world know purity better than I do. I know the purity that comes with rage, with despair, and with need. I know the joy of innocence, and I know the taste of deception. I have felt every emotion humanly possible, and a few that aren't humanly possible, too. Comes from getting stuck in a hell dimension.

But most of all, I know the hell of being pure evil.

I was pure evil. I delighted in it, I reveled in it. I lived only for the taste of the next victim, the spurt of warm, living, delicious blood into my mouth from a vein I pierced with my own teeth. I knew not only the eroticism of that moment, but the complete and total joy that came with it. I knew the ecstasy of taking life, of ruining life forever, of stealing it before the time was due. I knew the power of holding someone's destiny in my hands and squashing it. I knew the power of betrayal and the addiction to that power, the lust for that power. And I knew the addiction to lust, to obsession.

Oh yes, I have seen and done it all. Probably more than once. But now, as I sit here, thinking it over, I realize there is one thing I have never done. I have never truly loved.

But then again, I have never done anything to deserve it.

After all, how can one such as I possibly deserve love? And how would I keep it once it found me? All I know how to do is drive the things I want most away. I've proved that time and again. Leaving Sunnydale after that battle with the mayor may have been one of the hardest things I've done, but it was also one of the most cowardly. I was so afraid of what I'd do to Buffy, of how I'd hurt her next, of who I'd kill trying to protect her. Because when it comes right down to it, and if I'm completely honest with myself, I would have killed anyone who got in the way of us. Giles, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, her mother, anyone. And everyone. I staked my own Sire to protect her. I would have been the downfall of our relationship. And assuming I didn't strike the final blow, there was always the thought that she'd leave me. I mean, I saw the jealousy on her face when I kissed Faith in front of her.

I left Buffy, I tortured Giles, I put everyone else into extreme mental anguish and some physical too. I put Willow in the hospital, broke Xander's arm, almost sucked Sunnydale and the entire world into hell, and wound up spending a couple centuries in torment for it. Although I guess I did get my soul back.

And here, in LA? I'm not much better. I let Doyle go to his death, couldn't save Darla, couldn't stop Dru from turning her again, couldn't kill Lindsey myself, and left a room full of people to their deaths at the hands of two of the most evil vampires I know. One taught me, and one learned from me.

Not to mention Spike. I sit here in LA, knowing Spike is in Sunnydale, helpless and needing a Sire, or GrandSire, anything to help him acclimate to this chip. Darla and Dru certainly don't care. It's as bad as having a soul to them. But I'm too afraid. I already screwed up with Darla. I don't need to add another failure to my growing list. My vampiric family is in tatters. Sometimes, I wish I was Angelus again, so all this guilt, all this feeling would go away, and I could get back to the simple purity of causing pain and liking it. I almost got there the night I drank from Kate. I don't think either of us will ever forgive or forget that.

My latest blunder, however, may be my biggest. I fired my entire staff. Three people, granted, but still. My last connections to all sanity. Now I'm hunting my Sire and my childe, and all I can think of is what I'm going to do when I find them. Death hangs over me like a cloud. I can kill them so easily. I'm ready. I know I am. I can do what I know I should. But the demon that shares my body cries out for me to join them. And I know that I'm ready for that, too, and it would be just as easy. My sanity walked out the door with Wesley and Gunn and Cordelia. All that's left now is me. And I don't think I'm strong enough to do this alone.

When I look into my soul, my heart of hearts, I want my family back. Not my human one, my vampiric one. I want to stand next to Darla and watch Dru torturing some poor soul we pulled off the street. I want to back hand Spike when he tries to interrupt my feeding. I want to kiss Darla, to pull her close and smell her scent, her cinnamon, apple, almost wholesome with the stench of death scent. I want to make Dru jealous of the time I spend with her. I want to listen to Dru sing-song about what the stars tell her, about what the worms in the earth whisper when she sleeps. I want to watch Spike be adorable in his complete devotion to Dru. I want all that, but I also want Cordy and Wes and Gunn, I want them too. Oddly, I don't find myself wanting Buffy, although seeing Rupert again might be nice. And I know part of me wants to see Willow and Oz and Xander. I want both worlds, and I know my hesitation to choose one comes from this cursed soul, and my ever-present guilt. No matter what I do, I have guilt hanging over my head.

And I long for it to leave, I long for the clarity of insanity. Because while I may not be sane, I'm not insane yet either. I'm stuck between, no longer the Angel I once was, but neither am I Angelus. At least not yet.

I wonder if this is what it's like to be a sociopath. But then, sociopaths don't feel guilt. I feel guilt in spades.

Could I really do it? Could I really join my family again? I want to try so much. I tried once before, but the soul was still new then. I know how to deal with it now, how to rationalize. That became painfully obvious when I left those people to their deaths at my girls' hands. I catch myself smiling at that thought, and suddenly I frown. I shouldn't be enjoying the thought of their deaths, whatever I may or may not have done to facilitate them. I'm used to my soul now, and I can do things with it that at one time I never thought I could do. I can kill again. If I wanted to, I could stop going to the blood banks and butcher shops for bagged and bottled blood. If I wanted to, I could feed like a normal vampire does. I would feel no remorse. I would feel no guilt. It would be something that I did so that I could continue to live, to function. I could do it now, although I haven't yet. I almost did it to Kate. But I knew her, and I knew she was valuable to me alive, and I didn't.

I could do it. I could rejoin my family. But that would mean leaving my humans. My Cordy and Wes and Gunn. They'd come after me. They'd think I was Angelus. Quite honestly, I'm ready to think that Angelus and I have become one. That demon and soul have melted together, have formed and coagulated, and every other metaphor I can think of that is used to describe the event of bonding.

But I know that it's not true. No, Angelus is still locked away. I'm different now. It's Angel still, but I'm a different Angel than the one who left Sunnydale without saying goodbye. This Angel is a killer, a demon in his own right. This Angel has no qualms about doing exactly what he needs to. This Angel wants his Sire and his Childe and his GrandChilde, and he wants them now. He wants Angelus back, because without him, Darla will never allow Angel back into the fold. This Angel will do anything to protect the ones he loves, and suddenly, I realize that I am going to do it. I'm going to find Dru and Darla and I'm going to join them. I will become Angelus once more. I will reclaim my place at their sides. Then we'll head up to Sunnydale and collect Spike, whom I'll have to take under my wing until we can fix that chip thing. Darla wouldn't bother with him, and honestly, neither would I, if he weren't helpless. As he is, he'll be such fun to torture. Dru and I will have such good times playing with Spike.

I shake myself away from these thoughts. The Powers That Be-- I try to think of Cordy and her visions, of Doyle and his sacrifice, so that I could keep fighting. I think of the look in Buffy's eyes when she realized I wasn't Angel anymore, and I think of how disappointed Wesley will be. And I know suddenly what I want to do. Kill Buffy. Turn Cordy and Wes. And Gunn, if he doesn't manage to kill me first. Or one of mine. Go to Sunnydale and kill Buffy. Must Kill Buffy, before she hurts my Spike...my Dru. Kill Buffy, turn whoever I can, kill the rest.

If Doyle were here, he'd talk me out of it. He'd coax me back to normal. He wouldn't have taken "you're fired" for an answer, he'd have fought me harder. He'd have saved me.

Do I want to be saved?

"Angel, don't do this."

I can almost hear Doyle, and I feel tears begin to fall.

"Angel, the world needs ya," Doyle says, his accent thickening as his emotion grows. "Angel, they need ya, don't let 'em down. There's too much bad i' the world already. Y'don't need t' join it too."

"Doyle, I've already joined."

But now I know that I can't. I can't do it, I'm not ready. I have to fight the good fight.

And I sit in my darkened rooms, waiting for the sun to go down. Waiting for someone to come save me.

"Angel Investigations, we help the helpless."

Cordy's words mock me, and I realize that for the first time, I can't save anyone until I save myself.

I'm so tempted to go see the Host, to go sing and see what lies ahead, whether it's with Darla or with humanity.

But I also don't want to know. I'm afraid it'll be the wrong path, the one I'm not supposed to tread.

I need to find something to take my mind off this, I need something to blow off steam, something that isn't fighting demons. I need--I need sex.

Don't go there. This is bad. Now I'm thinking about it. Now I need it, now I want it, now I'll crave it until I have to go out and fuck someone, something, just to get rid of the hard-on. Now I'm risking becoming Angelus.

Now I'm risking lives other than my own.

Now, suddenly, sex is the only thing I care about.

I'm out of the hotel and heading toward Cordelia's house. I slam open the door and stalk inside. Dennis knows better than to mess with me. He can sense that I'll destroy him if he tries anything. I'm on a mission now.

I storm into Cordy's bedroom.

"Angel?" she asks, sleepily.

"Not for long," I growl, climbing on top of her.

She's struggling, my hands are ripping at her clothes, tearing at her skin, trying to get her out, to get her naked so I can get this over with.

"Angel stop! Please! Help me! Someone!"

She's struggling so pretty, and I pin her down, bending the metal of her headboard around her wrists. She can't go anywhere. I smile as I shift into demon face, biting down her arms to her shoulders. I finally manage to get her pajama pants off, and her underwear are flimsy enough that I can easily tear them away. She's sobbing and still fighting, and I laugh at her. I taunt her, asking her to get free, telling her if she can get off the bed, I'll let her go. I've never done this as Angel before, and I realize that I'm disconnected somehow. She's stopped struggling, lies there limp and helpless, and I open my fly and shove into her. She barely moves. I bite her neck, missing her jugular on purpose. As I rape her, I make sure she'll live, to spread the word that I've changed.

I finish with her body and pull out the knife I put in my pocket earlier. I cut a cross on her cheek, knowing that if Kate sees it, she'll identify me as the perpetrator.

I leave Cordelia on the bed, exposed from the waist down. She's humiliated and shocked, sickened, afraid. She thinks I'll come back. She's shaking from the shock. I leave the apartment laughing.

I'm still hard. Unwilling partners are rarely satisfying enough for me, although the fact that I've probably left Cordy broken is delicious to me. I'm fully Angelus now, I can feel the soul melting away. Who's next? Do I find my family, or do I visit Wesley?

I consider.

It might be fun to play Wesley for a bit, make him think I'm still Angel. I bet I can even get him hard for me. Might be fun to play with that desire a bit, before killing him. I smile, thinking of all the ways I could torture Wesley. Sexual torture. Oh, the fun I will have.

And suddenly I think of Faith, in prison.

What would she think of her savior, raping and torturing, and killing.

I suddenly sicken myself. What have I done? Oh god, what have I done?

I look behind me to Cordelia's house, see the open door, see it rushing at me and away from me at the same time.

I drop to my knees.

"No." I don't know if I've said it aloud or not, but I've said it.

"No, no no no no no."

I feel the pavement beneath my knees, feel the asphalt against my palms, see the world spinning. I see Cordy's face, see her eyes, empty eyes, staring at me as I rape her. I see her hands caught in her own headboard, see her fear, her confusion, see the betrayal.

I can hear myself wailing.

But the scariest part is that deep down inside, I feel nothing. I am empty in that part of me, and that is the part that has just gotten out of control.

What am I going to do?

I am lying in the street, staring up at the sky, watching the stars turn to dawn, and screaming, screaming, screaming.

"Angel! Angel, wake up! Angel get up, please!"

It's Cordy's voice, which is impossible.

"Angel, stop it! You're scaring me."

I feel her slap me. That's more like it. I look at her dully. "I'm sorry," I whisper.

"For what? Falling asleep in the middle of the street in front of my apartment building?"

"No, for--for the other thing--how did you escape?"

"Escape?"

"The bed, I wrapped the bed around your wrists, I did it, I--oh god, I--"

"Angel, it was a bad dream. It didn't happen, it was just a dream. Whatever you did to me, it's not real."

"Oh god, Cordy, I need help."

"It's okay, I'll call Wesley, we'll think of something. We'll help you."

"I--it was like I really did that. I thought I'd really done it--"

"You didn't."

Her words comfort me for a minute, before I realize something. "No. I did do it. I did all of it. I--I may as well have done it. I did it in my mind."

"But you didn't really--"

"No. But I wanted to. I wanted to--oh god, what I did to you--"

"Angel. We'll get through this. Just come inside, and I'll get you some blood, and then--"

"NO!" I jump up, finally on my feet again. "No no no no no no nonononono--" I keep repeating the word as I run away from her, toward Darla and Dru, and yes, even Spike. I'll ask them to stake me, or I'll join them, or I'll find true happiness and lead them, I don't know. But I can't stay here anymore. The more I stay the more I know that I'll hurt them all.

And ironically enough, surrendering to the evil doesn't feel evil at all. It feels like joy.