This one follows straight on from the last one. Enjoy :)
"I'm not afraid of werewolves or vampires or haunted hotels, I'm afraid of what real human beings do to other human beings." - Walter John Williams
I had hated going to bed angry and upset, but I think I hated it even more when I woke up alone. It had become such a rare occurrence lately that it just felt wrong. I didn't know what Angel had wanted me to say. Well, I did, but surely he knew that I had picked him for a reason, and settling down and having a family was certainly not on that list. He was a vampire. I didn't know how Connor had come into existence, but the chances of it happening again were well below none. All I wanted was to go to Angel and prove his every doubt wrong, but Angel needed space. That was clear. Angel needed a nice, long, uninterrupted brood session, and if that was what he needed, who was I to deny him of it?"
I sighed as I got up and checked my phone, just in case. No messages from Angel, but 16 from Connor. It appeared he was worried about me. I pressed the speed dial and waited as the phone connected.
"Mirany! Jeez, would it kill you to check your phone more often? I have to pay for this phone bill you know?"
"I'll cover you. What's up?"
"I should have known that you wouldn't actually listen to my messages," Connor muttered. "Well, I noticed dad's lack of compassion towards you at this particular moment and the fact that even now, he still has yet to leave his office, and I was wondering if maybe there was something you wanted to talk about."
"Maybe you should be asking Angel if there's something he wants to talk about," I suggested, "since I have no bloody clue what happened."
"Mirany, do you want to talk or not?"
"S'pose it couldn't hurt," I muttered. "You wanna come over?"
"Why don't you come here?"
"Because I'm not an idiot and there's no way I'm letting you try to play match maker here!" I snapped. "If you want me to talk, you come here. Otherwise stop overloading my phone with useless messages!"
I hung up on him and scowled at myself in the mirror.
"Good job Mirany, now you've alienated your best friend too," I growled at my reflection. "You're on fire this week."
Maia crept up to me and nuzzled into my leg. I sighed and crouched down, scratching behind her ears.
"Can't alienate you at least."
Maia barked and licked at my face before scampering away to find a toy for me to throw. I straightened up and looked in the mirror again. Being sick certainly hadn't done anything for me. The sickness might be gone, but the slight gauntness of my face hadn't, or the bags under my eyes. Being sick wasn't fun, and neither was the recovery period. Hoped Connor wouldn't get too squeamish at my eating raw meat in front of him.
"There. You're now up to date," I said.
"Huh," Connor grunted.
"It's not that bad, is it?" I asked desperately.
"Oh, he'll get over it," said Connor. "Eventually. Give him a couple more hours to brood and he'll be fine."
"But how do you know? He might hate me," I said.
"Mirany, Angel didn't even hate you when you both swore to kill each other one day," Connor pointed out. "He will get over it. He'll come to the same conclusion any other rational person would. That because you're still with him, there's got to be a pretty damn good reason that combats any doubts you might have. Just give him some time and space. He'll come to his senses."
"I guess you're right," I muttered.
"Of course I'm right. I've lived with him my whole life."
"Fair enough," I muttered.
"You know, he might be alright, but will you?" asked Connor.
"I'm not having this conversation again Connor, especially now that I know you're gay, because I'm not going to encourage your denying it any more," I said.
"I'm not gay," Connor growled through gritted teeth, "and I wasn't asking if you wanted to get back with me, I was asking if your were okay? You don't have to get back with me, but...he can't have a family Mirany. He can't have any of that. The reason I'm here is because I was born to be a champion. I was a 'gift', if you will, from the Powers That Be. It won't happen again. And I know that since you started bonding with Toni you've considered it. Don't you think maybe you're better off with someone that can have a family?"
"I don't want any other family than the one I've got," I said firmly. "The one I had. If I ever wanted a kid, it would be Toni, because there's no guarantee that any child of mine would be like her and she's the only kid I've ever liked. I don't need anything more than what I have right now. All of you have spent the past four years telling me that you're my family. That I shouldn't dwell on my old family because I still have one. Why would I want another one? This one's hard enough not to disown."
Connor was fighting a grin.
"You would never disown us. Who would you have to ridicule without complaint?"
"Anyone who wants to suck up to me," I pointed out.
"Who doesn't want your money," Connor added.
"No one," I agreed. "Although Cordelia seems pretty intent in getting her name on the will."
"I don't have one," I cut over him. "I'm young. I'm invincible."
"Of course," Connor muttered. "How stupid of me to think otherwise. As if you'd be prepared for the worst. I mean, it's not as if you're ever in dangerous situations right? Why would you need one?"
"Exactly," I said, smirking. This was why I liked talking to Connor. He could be sarcastic without driving me up the wall.
"Well, it's probably time I took my leave," Connor muttered, getting to his feet. "I have an assignment I need to do if you want me to uphold your reputation. Oh, um, when I left, dad was leaving too. He said if you had any urge to find him, he was going riding."
"Riding?" I asked. "Riding what?"
As it turned out, Angel rode horses, and he was good at it too. Probably those two hundred years in which that was the only way to get anywhere fast. He probably would have gotten a fair amount of practice. I watched from a safe distance behind the paddock fence as Angel slowed the horse down to a stop and raised an eyebrow at me.
"Still don't like them?"
"You don't just snap out of a phobia Angel," I pointed out. "I might not be completely scared of them, but there is no way I'm going near that thing."
"Your loss," Angel shrugged, jumping down from the horse and tying it to the fence. "Here to talk some sense into me?"
"Please, I'm not a miracle worker," I snorted, starting to walk away slowly.
Angel smiled slightly as he climbed over the fence and fell into step with me. We walked in silence for maybe fifteen minutes, and the moment I had finally figured out exactly what to say...
"I'm sorry for being such a douche," said Angel. "I shouldn't have even looked, and I know that I couldn't have seen everything there was to see because...otherwise you wouldn't still be with me."
"And I should have just answered you," I said. "Truthfully. Angel, of course I've thought about settling down. I was going to, with Connor. I spend half my time with a seven-year-old. But I don't want that life if I can't have it with you, and I can't. We can't settle down. We certainly can't have kids. And if we did settle down, I'd have a step-son that was older than me. I like this life, I like what we have, and I wouldn't ask for anything different. And...no matter what I was thinking when you asked, I don't regret choosing you. We have something Angel that...that I never had with Connor. No matter what I felt for Connor, I still feel more strongly for you. It's just a different feeling. A good feeling."
Angel took my hand.
"I know," he said. "And you're right. Nobody wants a step-son that's older than them."
I grinned and stood on tiptoe to kiss him swiftly.
"You still don't look too good," said Angel when I broke away.
"Just after effects. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes," I said firmly. "I just need some food and sunlight. I'll be fine. Really. It's not the first time I've gotten sick."
"I just...you really don't look well."
"I'll be alright Angel. Just give it a couple of days," I said, brushing his cheek.
Angel sighed slightly, smiling.
"Alright. Come on. You should see this."
I raised an eyebrow at him curiously, but allowed him to pull me back the way we'd come. He pulled me into in paddock and I skirted around the horse he'd been riding as it snorted it's distaste at being tied to the fence. Angel smirked but pulled me further until we were at the other side of the paddock. I hadn't realised we had been on a cliff. When I'd driven here, I hadn't felt the incline, but now I could see that we were a good few hundred metres up, and we were looking out at the sea. The night was starless, but the moon was high and full, and shone brightly over the sea. Reflecting in the water, the scene was stunning.
"Wow. It's beautiful," I said.
Somewhere, I heard a wolf howl.
"Do we have wolves in LA?" I asked Angel.
Angel looked worried.
I stared at him.
"You don't think-?"
"Werewolf? Oh, I'm thinkin' it."
"Meet back at the hotel?"
"Bring your dog. And a gun."
Picture perfect moment ruined by the werewolf, we both split.
"Couldn't it have just been some wolf at a reservation somewhere?" asked Connor.
"No. Wolves have been exterminated from the entire state," said Wesley.
"How could you possibly know that?" asked Cordelia.
"I read. Something you might benefit from too," said Wesley coolly. "Angel, I don't mean to stand up for the vicious animal, but this is a human life as well."
"Well, what would you propose then Wes?" asked Angel as he slipped silver rounds into the revolver I hadn't touched since I'd threatened Sandelle last year.
"Didn't there used to be an old wives tale about werewolves that if you kill the werewolf who turned someone, all the people they turned will go back to normal?"
"You're still killing someone," said Angel.
"Oh," I muttered, rubbing behind Maia's ears.
Angel pulled me aside.
"Maybe you should sit this one out."
I stared at him.
"What? Why?" I asked.
Angel frowned slightly.
"Oh, Angel, it was five years ago," I sighed.
"I know Mirany, and I'm not saying that I think you're going to fall back into it again or anything like that, I just..."
"...I just think that it wouldn't end well if we kill this werewolf and it changes back to normal and you see a human body lying there at your hand. It could seriously hurt you and I don't want that."
"You've done a pretty good job of that all by yourself," I said pointedly.
Angel withdrew. He looked like I'd slapped him. I closed my eyes.
"I'm sorry," I muttered. "That...that was uncalled for. And not true. I understand what you're saying Angel but...I think you're going to need my help. I'm the only one here, other than you, who can't be turned into werewolf."
"Oh really? What makes you think that?"
"I'm already a wolf," I said.
Angel considered me.
"That actually makes some sense. Can't change you if you're already there. Alright, look, you can come, but I'm not letting you pull the trigger."
"Fine," I said, going back over to the others and Maia.
"You mean to tell me that there's no other way to change a werewolf back to normal?" asked Connor.
"The only thing that has relative success is aconite, uh...wolf's bane, but even that doesn't cure lycanthropy. It just makes the werewolf...well...tame for the few days over the full moon."
"Besides, we don't have any aconite," said Angel, clipping the magazine of the revolver back into place. "And we don't have the skills or the time to make a wolf's bane potion."
"Potion?" I asked, smirking. "What are we, wizards?"
"That's what you need to be to tame a werewolf," said Angel seriously. "No, silver bullet to the heart. That's all that'll stop it. Maybe it'll be with a pack, or the wolf that made it, if we're lucky, and we can take the whole lot out. We do not need werewolves running around LA."
"Angel, this is...this is going to be difficult, and it's going to be messy," Wesley warned. "You're going to have to be extremely fast. You can't hesitate with this."
"Thank you," said Angel sarcastically, "after you told me that I'm still going to be killing a human anyway."
"Well, I'm sorry Angel but-"
"I know Wesley. It's not the first time I've killed a werewolf," said Angel, smirking. "Just thought I ought to point out that you're not exactly instilling much confidence."
"Sorry," Wesley muttered sheepishly.
"How do we find it?" asked Connor, taking up a crossbow and silver-tipped arrows.
Angel gestured at Maia.
"Wanna find a dog, use a dog," he said.
"You want me to send my dog after a vicious werewolf?" I asked indignantly.
"Nobody said it was vicious yet," said Angel. "And I'm not asking you to tell her to fight it, just to look for it."
"If she gets hurt, I'll hurt you just as badly," I threatened.
"She'll be fine," Angel insisted. "Come on. Let's see if we can find it before morning. The sooner we catch this thing, the better."
He slipped my revolver into his belt and tossed me a silver knife.
I whistled to Maia, who trotted after us, and Connor followed behind her.
"Yay, dog hunt," he muttered sarcastically.
Angel looked around from talking with Connor. Maia had come scampering back to me, yelping. He usually snow white muzzle was red with blood. Angel hurried over.
"Where'd she come from?" he asked.
I clipped Maia to a fence and looked over at the park she came from.
I led the way into the park, past the bushes blocking the view of most of the scenery and almost threw up.
"Whoa, look away, look away," said Connor, grabbing me and turning me away from the three bodies.
Angel shuddered as he looked at the ravaged bodies. They were truly gruesome. They didn't even resemble humans anymore. They were just bloodied piles on the ground.
"Their hearts are gone. Werewolf."
"Ew. Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew," I muttered.
"You're a wolf, shouldn't you be immune to this sort of thing?" asked Connor. "I mean, in any normal circumstance, you would have done exactly the same thing."
Now I really did throw up.
"Connor," Angel growled.
"Sorry," Connor muttered, rubbing my back. "Any idea where it went?"
A snarl ripped through the park, followed shortly by a scream.
"I can guess," Angel muttered fervently, taking off in the direction of the sounds.
"You alright?" asked Connor.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Let's go," I said, running after Angel.
It wasn't hard to find Angel. The screaming didn't stop, and when we got there, we saw why. There was more than one. Angel had tackled one werewolf, but there was another chasing another a young woman. I dived for it at once and Connor took hold of the woman, dragging her away before she could faint. The werewolf did not like being pinned to the ground. It writhed under me as I pressed my forearm to it's throat, trying to cut off it's oxygen supply, but the thing was strong. It bucked upwards and I was thrown off it, landing hard against a tree trunk and almost falling on my head as I dropped to the ground. From my upside down position, I saw it dive and I kicked out at it, sending it flipping backwards.
It growled and dived at my legs, mouth working furiously. I rolled out of the way, but not before it had latched onto my calf. I yelled and kicked at it's face with my other leg, but it wouldn't let go, and instead proceeded to shake my leg around as though we were playing tug-o-war. It's strong jaws holding my leg tightly, it's teeth were tearing at the flesh underneath. It was going to reduce my leg to tatters. I didn't wait to see that happen and instead let myself transform, growling. I wound up my strength and kicked out again, landing a hand blow to the middle of it's snout. It yelped and let go. I kicked again, this time sweeping it into the air as I struggled to my feet, leaning against the tree and inspecting the damage it had done to my leg. It wasn't pretty, that was for sure.
The werewolf landed on it's feet and snarled at me, but it seemed to sense there was something different about me now that I'd change, and instead turned and ran towards Angel, who was having enough trouble with his own werewolf. Before it could reach him though, a crossbow bolt shot out from behind me and into it's leg. It howled in pain and turned to see who had shot it. It had been Connor, but he was far enough away that the werewolf didn't notice him, and instead found me. But now it was injured, and it showed as it leapt at me in a clumsy, lopsided way. That didn't stop it from slashing at me with bloodied claws. I snarled in pain as it ripped into my shoulder and hit it hard over the head before pulling the knife from my belt and stabbing up into it's rib cage. The werewolf crumpled. It wasn't dead, but it wasn't going anywhere any time soon.
A BANG resounded through park. Alarmed, I looked over at Angel, who had managed to get to his feet at some point. On the ground in front of him was the werewolf he had been fighting, now whimpering shallowly. BANG! I started as Angel let off the gun again, right into the creature's heart. I watched as it died, changing slowly back into the human it had been. He was short, and a little chubby, with sandy blonde hair and a rounded face, and now he was staring into the park with blank green eyes. I turned away as Angel shot again, this time at the werewolf near me, shuddering.
Angel put the safety back on the gun and came over to me, holding my shoulders gently, careful to avoid aggravating the slash wounds on my left side. He was injured as well. Blood was dripping off his arm at his elbow, but I couldn't actually see what was causing the bleeding, and since he was using his arm just fine, I assumed it wasn't a terrible injury. He had a bite at the wrist and there were gashes on his legs where the werewolf's back claws had ripped into him. I could, slightly, feel the pain he was in, but not nearly as much as I'm sure he could feel I was in. That was probably the plus side of being the protectee as opposed to Angel's position as the protector.
"Don't look," he said quietly and I nodded.
"You guys okay?" asked Connor, coming over to us.
"Do we look okay to you?" I snapped, moving as if to walk and half collapsing when I put my weight onto my tattered leg. Angel and Connor both caught me under an arm. "Where were you while they were ripping us to shreds?"
"Helping people who couldn't survive a werewolf attack run away," said Connor, "and then shooting at them from afar."
"Wimp," I muttered.
I was beginning to feel dizzy and lightheaded. Angel gripped me tighter and pulled my arm over his shoulder.
"We should leave. She needs medical attention. I'm gonna take her back to her place, to Jason. Think you can do one last sweep, just to make sure?"
Connor nodded and took the gun.
"See you later."
"You have got to be kidding me if you think I'm going to walk around with one of those," I told Jason simply. "I'm not seventy!"
"Mirany, either you use the walking stick, or you don't walk," said Jason.
I huffed and grabbed hold of the cane.
"This is so degrading," I muttered, leaning on Jason's shoulder and pulling myself to my feet.
"Hey, you're lucky you heal so fast, otherwise you'd be in a wheelchair," Jason pointed out.
"That'd be fun," I said, grinning at the idea of doing donuts and wheelies in a chair.
"No, it wouldn't," said Jason. "It's not that bad Mirany. You'll only be using it for a day or two, then you'll be fully healed. I'm amazed that your leg threaded back together so fast. Wait a second, didn't you say that it was a werewolf that did this?"
"Yeah, but because I'm already a wolf, I shouldn't turn into a werewolf, right?" I asked.
"That may be so, but I still think we should run some tests," said Jason. "Come down to the lab?"
"Oh yay, more blood tests," I muttered with false enthusiasm.
"Wouldn't you rather blood tests over having to be shot in the heart by your boyfriend?" asked Jason pointedly.
"Well when you put it like that," I muttered.
"Speaking of, where is tall, dark and fangsome?" asked Jason.
"Probably about three seconds away from falling unconscious due to pain," I sighed. "He got his own injuries, plus he feels mine so he's probably just trying to keep from crying right now."
"The day that man cries will be a very sorry day for the world," he said, keying in the pass code to the lab and holding the door open for me.
"No arguments here," I said.
The day who cries?
You know, it's rude to listen in on other people's conversations.
I only just zoned in. I wanted to know how you were doing and you were still mid-conversation at the time.
I'm okay. Jason's about to take large amounts of the little blood I have left in my body, but otherwise, I'm just going to keep popping the painkillers until I'm either better or slip into a coma.
I could almost see Angel rolling his eyes at this.
"Alright, give us your arm."
You gonna come over? I asked as Jason pulled some form of strap tight around the top of my arm to build up the blood.
Soon. There's a few things I want to take care of first.
Anything I can do?
Nah. I'll be round this afternoon, okay?
I frowned at Jason as he began to draw the blood from my arm.
"That was unnecessarily brutal!" I objected.
Jason raised an eyebrow at me.
"You just had your leg shredded to pieces and you're complaining about my sticking you with a toothpick sized needle?" he asked.
"You didn't stick me, you bloody well stabbed me!" I said indignantly.
"Yes Mirany. Because I hate you so much that I thought I would take out some of that anger on you by stabbing you wildly with a small needle, as opposed to sticking it in carefully where I knew I'll be able to get blood and planning an even more terrible revenge later on," said Jason sarcastically.
I scowled at him.
"Just get it over with," I muttered.
"Why don't any of you ever tell me when you get injured?" asked Farthington, scowling at me. "I wouldn't come if I knew you couldn't train!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I was under the impression that getting my injuries fixed was more important than getting calling you to tell you that I've got injuries," I said pointedly. "But don't worry, I will rectify that mistake right away, so that calling you to tell you I can't train is the first thing on my list when I'm dying of blood loss."
"You said that last time," Farthington pointed out. "And may I also point out that it's been a day since your injury, you've had plenty of time to call me."
"Look, since you're not needed, can you please leave?" I asked, hobbling over to the door and holding it open.
Farthington watched me as I walked, a sort of sad, sympathetic look on his face.
"Do you need help Mirany?" he asked.
"What I need is for you to leave," I said pointedly. "And I certainly don't need your pity."
"Mirany, you've been seriously injured, you're allowed to ask for help," he said.
"I'm not asking! You're just trying to push me into it!"
"Mirany, for heaven's sake, you can barely walk," Farthington pointed out.
"I don't need your help, alright? Look, Angel will be here soon, he'll take care of me. You're not needed. Please, just go."
"Please?" I asked.
"Oh, hey Edward. Didn't Mirany tell you she couldn't train?" asked Angel, appearing on the other side of the door.
"No," said Farthington simply. "Alright, I'm leaving. But it you need any-"
"I won't, good bye," I cut over him, pushing him past Angel.
"What was that about?" asked Angel as I closed to door.
"Nothing," I sighed, resting my forehead on his shoulder. "Did Connor find any more?"
"No," said Angel, "he didn't."
He pulled my gun from his belt and handed it to me.
"I'm somewhat torn as to whether or not to give this back to you, but since you can just go and buy another one, it doesn't really matter," he muttered.
"I'm not gonna shoot myself Angel," I said, taking the revolver and opening the chamber. "Or anyone else. Hey, there's only one bullet left."
"Yeah? So?" asked Angel, walking into the living room and pulling two beers from the fridge.
"Well, this is a five round gun and you only shot three last night. If Connor didn't find any more...where's the other bullet?"
Angel bit his lip as he turned around.
"You asked if Connor found any more. He didn't," he said. "However, he did find a third set of tracks..."
"That was what you were doing? Going after the last one?" I asked.
Angel grimaced slightly.
"It's not night. They wouldn't have...so you just...?"
"I made sure Mirany. I knew exactly who they were and they didn't see it coming."
"Angel...how is that...how could you look at a human form and just shoot them in the back?" I asked.
Angel sighed and sat down, gesturing me down beside him.
"I'm a vampire Mirany," he said. "Unfortunately...it's my nature. It's what I'm programmed to do. And, of course I feel guilty, but there was no other way and I couldn't risk anyone else getting hurt. That's why I didn't want you to come. You already saw me shoot two people, you didn't need to see me shoot another one, especially when they hadn't transformed."
I took a couple of steadying breaths. I couldn't be angry with him. It wasn't as if he was the only one who had killed before, and if he really had made sure...well, the person was a werewolf. But still...
"I get it," I said quietly, taking a beer from him. "It's alright Angel, I just...I guess whatever you've been doing to me for the past years has worked. There's no way in hell I could ever go back."
"I dunno. Sometimes I see that 'I'll kill you in your sleep' look and it actually scares me," said Angel, smirking.
"Good! Something has too," I muttered. "Otherwise how am I supposed to gain any footing in this relationship?"
"We could have a relationship based on mutual love and respect rather than power," Angel suggested.
"Nah, power's better," I said, grinning and kissing him. "Mutual love and respect. Don't make me laugh."
Angel chuckled and tangled his fingers into my hair.
"Guess it was a long shot."