Author's Note: This story is a crossover that a fan asked me to write. It's a cross between Angel and As the World Turns. What's that? You think that's crazy? Well, when I first heard that crossover choice, I laughed and laughed. But then because it was such an odd mix, the idea kept sticking in my brain until I found a way to make it believable to myself. The story takes place three months after the last episode of ATWT, and three years after the end of the series Angel. WARNING for SLASH, and for cracky crossover choice.
LUST AT FIRST SIGHT
It had been three months. Three months since the man he loved had been hit by a train and killed. Luke looked out at the crowd of people who had come to see the opening of the new neurology wing of the hospital. He scanned for Noah's face in the crowd hoping, but not expecting to see him there. But he did see many friends and family, who were there to support him.
Dr. Bob Hughes finished his speech, and introduced Luke. Luke stood up at the podium, and glanced down at the index cards he'd brought with him to help him through the speech. The three months had given him some time to mourn for Reid, and he considered this event a way to close that chapter of his life. Reid would always be a part of him, but it was time to move on. He cleared his voice, and told the crowd about all the love and devotion Dr. Reid Oliver had put into the design of this wing of the hospital.
Later that night, when a tired Luke finally arrived home, he immediately checked the phone messages and then his email. His mom came out from the kitchen and said, "Luke, I didn't hear you come in."
He kept his eyes on his laptop and said, "I just got home."
She walked over and rubbed his shoulder. "How are you doing?"
"I have a really bad feeling that something is wrong."
"With the neuro wing?" she asked.
"No, with Noah."
"Have you talked to him since he went to L.A.?"
Lilly said, "I've left him a couple of messages, but I haven't gotten through to him. Haven't you talked to him?"
"I talked to him once when he first got there, but then I was so busy with the hospital…"
Lilly leaned down to wrap her arms around him, and rested her head on his shoulder so they were both looking at the laptop. "I'm sure Noah understands."
"But that's just it mom. Now I can't get a hold of him at all. I called him a few days ago to invite him to come see my speech, and his cell phone was disconnected."
Lilly stood so she could see Luke's face. "That's odd."
Luke nodded, and stood up to pace. "I know, and that's not all. I've tried to email him, but his email address comes back invalid."
"Have you tried to contact the people he was working on his film with."
"I tried a couple of them, but haven't reached anyone."
With concern in her voice, Lilly said, "Maybe you're right to be worried. What can I do to help?"
"I don't know why, but I can't shake this feeling that something really bad has happened. I'm going to book a flight to L.A., and do some more investigating."
"That seems a little drastic, don't you think?"
"Maybe, but I can't help it. I just need to go see for myself that he's okay."
Shaking her head, Lilly said, "But what if something bad did happen? I don't want you getting in the middle of it by yourself. I'll come with you."
Luke smiled at her fondly, "Thanks, Mom, that's really sweet of you, but the kids need you here. I'll be fine."
Lilly snapped her fingers and sat down in front of Luke's laptop. Confused, Luke said, "What are you up to?"
Instead of answering, she typed some information into the computer. After a few seconds, she turned the laptop for him to see. It was a list of Private Investigators in the Los Angeles area. "You want me to hire a Private Investigator?"
"Why not? They can help you find Noah, and then I won't have to worry about you out there investigating things on your own and getting in over your head."
He hedged, "I don't know Mom…"
Looking down the list, a name caught Lilly's eye. She pointed to it. "Here, look at this one."
"Angel Investigations?" Luke read.
"Who better to call then an angel to help you find Noah."
He sighed and said, "You're not going to give up on this are you?"
"I won't be able to sleep while you're gone, if I think you're out there on your own."
She held out the phone to him, and he dialed the number. After a brief conversation with a man named Gunn, Luke had an address and a time to met the team once he arrived in L.A.
# # #
It had been three years. Three years since Angel had started a war with Wolfram and Hart. And just three months ago, both sides had finally called a truce, knowing the fight couldn't be won. Good couldn't exist without evil, and vice versa. The law firm was still standing, and so was Angel Investigations, though both were in different buildings now.
Angel got out of the shower, and heard the familiar sounds of Connor and Spike having a good-natured argument in the kitchen. He closed his eyes and savored the moment. There had been so many close calls, and they'd lost so many friends. It was good to be grateful for the family he had left.
Connor's voice was full of humor, "Dude, that's gross!"
"Gross? This isn't gross. Gross is a Welnar demon after decapitation. This is just… tasty."
Angel could almost see the smirk on Spike's face.
"I can't believe you actually swallowed that!" Connor said.
Angel got dressed, and looked out the window at the bright sun. Every time he looked through the specially tinted windows of his huge house, he thought of Wesley. After things had settled down from the first battle, Angel found out that Wesley had named him as the beneficiary in his will. He'd been shocked, until he read the short note of apology that went with it. I hope someday you can forgive me for the sorrow you and Connor had to endure because of my misguided actions. He'd also been shocked by the huge sum of money that had come his way, but it had given him enough money to buy a specially constructed house of his own.
Angel headed to the kitchen. As soon as Spike saw him, he said, "Angel, tell your spawn that eating the eyeball of an Aharna will give him a vision of his future."
Angel looked at the blue orb in Spike's hand, and rolled his eyes. "First off, Aharna demons have white eyes, and second, eating one won't give you visions."
Spike scowled and muttered, "Shoulda known you wouldn't play along."
Angel smiled at Connor, "Morning."
"Morning was a few hours ago, Dad," Connor said, smiling back.
"How was class?"
Angel got some blood out of the refrigerator to microwave. "Ready for the final next week?"
Turning to Spike, Angel said, "Has Gunn called?"
Spike shook his head. Angel sighed and turned to Connor. "Are you sure you set up the website right? We've only had a couple of calls since we opened."
Connor shrugged. "Nothing's wrong with the website. It probably has more to do with Wolfram and Hart."
Before Angel could respond, the phone rang. Angel answered, and smiled when Gunn told him they had a case. Half an hour later, Angel, Spike, and Connor popped into the office from the sewer entrance, and started working on trying to find Noah Mayer.
# # #
It was dusk when Luke arrived at the modest looking office with the words, Angel Investigations, on the glass door. He went in, and saw a guy behind the front desk who appeared to be his age. "Hi, I'm Luke Snyder, I have an appointment."
The guy stood and held out his hand, "Hi. I'm Connor Reilly. Nice to meet you."
After they shook, Connor turned to the back offices and called, "He's here."
Gunn and Spike came out at the same time from different offices. Connor pointed to Gunn first and said, "That's Charles Gunn, you spoke with him on the phone earlier."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Gunn." Luke said while they shook hands.
"Nice to meet you too, and it's just Gunn."
Connor nodded towards Spike and said, "This is Spike."
Luke raised an eyebrow at the name. "Spike?"
"That's right." Spike said as they shook, and added, "Angel's just printing out some information, and then we can all go to the conference room and go over the leads we have so far."
"You already have leads?" Luke was impressed.
Gunn smiled. "We're hoping you can help us figure out which lead to follow first."
Angel came out of his office a few seconds later, and made eye contact with Luke.
Luke's pupils dilated, and his heart rate went up when he saw Angel. The instant attraction he felt for the man was unsettling. The only other time he'd felt something so strong, was the first time he'd met Noah. He'd grown to love Reid, but that had not been a case of love at first sight. Trying to cover his desire, Luke smiled and held his hand out towards Angel, "Hi, I'm Luke Snyder."
Angel, Spike, and Connor could all see, smell, and hear the lust coming from Luke. Spike rolled his eyes. He'd seen many women, and a few men, react to Angel this way over the years. Connor wrinkled his nose in distaste. He didn't want to think of anyone attracted to his father.
In the past, Angelus had used the attraction people felt for him against them. He'd lured many women, and a few men, away from public areas, had his way with them, and then eaten them. Because of this, Angel had one of two reactions to these people now. If they were aggressive about their attraction, he'd be annoyed, and firmly rebuke them. But if they were quiet or shy about it, he couldn't stop himself from feeling protective of them, unconsciously trying to make up for the times he'd hurt others. Angel knew from experience that if he spent enough time with that person, his feelings could grow into something more, and tried to avoid that.
Angel smiled politely and shook Luke's hand. "Nice to meet you Luke. I'm Angel."
Luke pulled his hand away first, not wanting to accidentally linger in the touch. Feeling flushed, and flustered, Luke turned back to Spike and said, "Spike here was saying you already had a couple of leads on Noah."
Angel gestured to the conference room and said, "I'll show you what we have so far."
Once everyone was sitting, Angle opened the file they'd started on Noah, and handed Luke pieces of paper as he spoke. "Here is a print out of the passenger list for the flight Noah took from Oakdale to L.A. Look it over to see if you recognize any of the other names."
They gave Luke a few minutes to read through the names. He shook his head, "I don't."
Angel took the page back, and handed Luke a few more. "This is a copy of Noah's credit card transactions for the past three weeks. As you can see, he used his card several times a day, but then four days ago it just stops."
Luke looked over the pages. There were hand written notes about each of the transactions, with names and addresses of each business, and a short description of what kind of establishment it was.
While Luke was looking it over, Angel said, "The last thing he bought was a beer at a local nightclub. We were going to start there tonight, unless something else on that list strikes you as odd."
"Actually the nightclub seems odd. Noah didn't drink much, and he wasn't the kind of guy to go out and party." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Luke realized he could be wrong. That was true of Noah when they were together, but a lot of time had passed since then. He said, "Or at least, that's the way he used to be."
Angel handed him a couple more pages and said, "This is a list of all the calls to and from his cell phone for the past three weeks, which also stops four days ago. Do any of the names or numbers seem odd to you?"
Luke looked it over. There were hand written names next to each phone number. He saw that his mother had called Noah every Friday, and smiled softly. "This one is my mom."
Connor handed him a pen and said, "Write that next to her name, and put notes next to any of the names you know."
Luke was surprised at the number of names he knew were from Oakdale, and as that number grew, so did his guilt. He'd been so wrapped up in his own grief over Reid, that he hadn't kept in touch with Noah, when so many of his friends had. Once he was done, he handed the list back to Angel.
Angel scanned it, and then handed the list to Gunn. "When we're done here, look up the rest of the names, and find out everything you can about them." Turning back to Luke, he said, "Okay, that's all we have so far. We were going to start doing some legwork next, but first I'd like to get some information from you, to help us know where to start."
"Okay." Luke sat forward, eager to help.
"How long have you known Noah?"
"How did you meet?"
"We were both interns at WOAK television."
"What is the nature of your relationship with Noah."
Luke's eyes lost focus, thinking back over his relationship with Noah. "I guess we're more like family than friends now. We started out as friends." Lost in his thoughts, Luke trailed off.
Angel said, "I'll need a little more detail than that."
Luke focused on Angel again, and said, "We were in love. We were together for more then two years."
Gunn made a soft noise of surprise.
Ignoring Gunn, Angel continued, "Why did you break up?"
"He broke up with me. He'd been injured in an explosion, and blamed me for it. During his recovery, he pushed me away. I moved on with my life. Once he was fully recovered, he wanted to start up our relationship again, but I was already with someone else."
"When was the last time you spoke to him?"
"A few days after he left Oakdale."
Spike said, "Why are you looking for him now?"
"Originally I called to invite him to a speech I was making, but then when I couldn't get in touch with him, I was worried. Noah doesn't have any living relatives, so my family became his family when we were together, and that didn't go away just because we broke up. My folks are just as worried about him as I am."
Angel said, "Is there anyone who would want to harm Noah?"
Luke shook his head no. "Noah is a good guy. Everyone liked him. He doesn't have any enemies that I know of."
Angel said, "Okay then, we'll start with the bar where Noah made his last purchase, unless you think we should start somewhere else."
"What about his apartment?"
Gunn said, "I was already there earlier today. Manager hasn't seen or heard from him in four days. I talked him into letting me into the apartment. It had been cleared out. No clothes, no personal items, even the garbage had been emptied."
"Wow, that was fast," Luke said. "Then I guess the bar sounds like the best place to start."
"Okay, then that's all we need for now." Angel stood, indicating that the meeting was over, and everyone else stood as well. He looked at Luke and said, "The office opens at nine o'clock tomorrow morning. Call Gunn when you wake up, and we'll let you know what we've found."
"What?" Luke hadn't been expecting that. "No, I'm coming with you. That's why I came to town, to help find him."
Angel shook his head. They had no idea what had happened to Noah, and he didn't want to put Luke in harms way. "That's not the way it works Mr. Snyder. We work the case, and then give you the information."
Luke scoffed, "I'm paying you, so it works however I tell you it works."
Angel glared, not liking Luke's tone. "You may be used to throwing your money at people and making them do what you want, but that won't work on me. I don't need your money, and I don't need this case. If you want me to help you find Noah, you do it my way."
Overwhelmed by the intensity of Angel's glare, Luke swallowed hard. The attraction he felt for Angel was still there, but there was an edge of fear mixed in with it now. He changed his tone from one of authority, to one of simple honesty. "I'm not going to sit around in some hotel room while you look for Noah. If you won't take me with you, I'll go by myself. I don't have the willpower to do nothing when someone I love could be in danger."
Angel's glare softened, and he considered it. Before he could decide, Spike said, "Fine you can come."
Angel growled at Spike. Luke's eyes opened wide with surprise at the slightly inhuman nose Angel was making, and found himself taking a step back.
Not intimidated in the least, Spike waved Angel off. "Shut it Angel. You know it could be helpful."
Reluctantly, Angel said, "Fine, you can come, but while we're there, you do what I tell you to do without question. Got it?"
Luke nodded, unable to make a verbal response while Angel was staring into his eyes in such a demanding way.
Connor said, "You want me to stay with Gunn and help run names, or come with you?"
Angel broke eye contact with Luke and said, "Come with."
Gunn said, "I'm going home to run names. I'll call you if anything unusual pops up."
Angel nodded, and said to Spike, "Show Mr. Snyder to the car, we'll be right there."
Luke said, "Call me Luke," and followed Spike out the door.
Once Connor and Angel were alone, Angel said, "You stick with Luke tonight. Keep an eye on him while Spike and I try to get information. I have a bad feeling about this, and I don't want him getting hurt."
Scrutinizing his father, Connor said, "You're being weird…" Then with some distaste he said, "You don't like him do you? He's a dude!"
"Connor…" Angel sighed. He didn't know where to start. "I like women, but over the years, there have been a few men too."
Confused, and feeling slightly betrayed, Connor said, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I wasn't trying to hide it, it just never came up."
While Connor was thinking that over, Angel said, "But me wanting to protect him has a lot more to do with his attraction to me, than the other way around. I…" Angel had to break eye contact, "Angelus used to love it when someone was attracted to him. The things he used to do to them… I have to make up for that now."
Connor understood better then most. He was deeply ashamed of some of the things he'd done before becoming Connor Reilly, and still felt the need to make up for those acts. He patted his father on the shoulder once and said, "I won't let him out of my sight."
Angel smiled at Connor with both pride and gratitude. "Thanks."
# # #
Half an hour later, Angel pulled up to the nightclub. Angel and Spike exchanged a look as soon as they saw the doorman. This bar catered to vampires. Angel turned to Connor and Luke in the backseat and said, "You two wait in the car while Spike and I check it out."
Connor nodded, but Luke said, "What do you mean wait in the car? That kind of defeats the purpose of coming with you in the first place."
Spike said, "This is a special bar, and it's dangerous. We're gonna check it out first, and if it's safe, we'll come get you."
Connor's eyes narrowed as he scanned the building with his heightened senses. Luke said, "Special bar? What the hell does that mean?"
"It means you stay here," Angel said with finality.
"But…" Luke started to protest, but Angel and Spike were already out of the car, and headed across the street.
Luke turned to Connor and said, "I don't know about you, but I'm not staying in the car."
Connor tried to distract Luke, long enough for his father to check the place out. "Are you even twenty one?"
Frowning, Luke said, "Are you?"
"Let's see your license."
Luke rolled his eyes, dug his driver's license out of his wallet, and handed it to Connor. Connor saw Luke's birth date and chuckled.
"What's so funny?"
"You're exactly one month older then me."
Luke held out his hand for the license and said, "I guess that means we're both twenty one, so let's get in there."
Connor handed it back. "Angel's right. This place is dangerous. We should wait in the car."
Luke shook his head, and opened the car door. Connor put a hand on his arm to stop him, but Luke shrugged him off. Connor wasn't sure if Angel would want him to use brute force to keep Luke in the car or not. He doubted he'd want Luke to know how strong any of them were. So instead of making Luke stay in the car, he said, "Wait up."
The two younger men showed their licenses to the doorman, but he shook his head and said, "Your kind aren't welcome here."
"Our kind?" Luke said. "What do you mean our kind?"
Connor could smell the fresh blood on the large doorman's breath, and reacted without thinking it through. He leaned into the vampire's personal space, and said, "My friend, and I are going in, one way or another."
The doorman leaned down. "If you don't leave right now, I'll make you."
Not wanting Connor to get hurt, Luke got out a wad of cash, and held it out for the doorman. "Will this get us in?"
Before the doorman could answer, Angel opened the door to the club. He frowned in disapproval at the two younger men, and then turned to the doorman. "They're with me."
The doorman stepped aside. Luke started forward, but instead of letting him into the club, Angel stepped out and grabbed Luke's upper arm. "Hey!" Luke protested.
Angel pulled him a few feet away from the door, and Connor followed. Angel roughly pulled Luke close and hissed in his ear, "Put that away!" before letting go.
Luke instantly stuck the money back in his pocket. Caught off guard by Angel's physical touch and intense scrutiny, Luke found his emotions out of sync with his brain. He knew he should be angry about Angel's manhandling, but instead he was pleased with the close contact. He scowled, annoyed with himself, and with Angel.
Angel crossed his arms, and said, "What happened to waiting in the car? What happened to doing what I said if I let you come?"
Luke crossed his arms as well, trying not to let his nervousness show. "I'm going to do everything I can to find Noah, with or without your help."
"You're going to get yourself killed!"
"It's a nightclub, not a deathtrap!"
Trying to placate Angel, Connor said, "You said it was safe right? So let's go see what we can find, and get out of here."
After a tense moment of silence, Angel said, "Fine."
The three of them walked into the club, and Luke instantly felt the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Something was off about this place. It was so dark, he could barley see three feet in front of him. The music was turned down so low, that he wouldn't have been able to hear it if people had been talking, but they weren't. He couldn't even hear people breathing. As he looked around at the faces that were close enough to see, he realized all of their eyes were intently focused on him, and unconsciously took a step closer to Angel.
Spike walked up to them from the darkness, and said, "One level. Two large back bedrooms, an office, and two bathrooms."
Angel nudged Connor towards Spike and said, "Stay together. Luke and I will take the main room, you two take the rest."
Spike and Connor both nodded, and walked towards the back together, shoulder to shoulder. Angel held out Noah's picture to the nearest table of customers and said, "We're looking for this person. Anyone seen him?"
The only woman at the table kept her eyes glued to Luke and said, "I'll give you two hundred for the boy."
Luke had never been intimidated by a woman before, but this woman made him shudder.
Angel leaned down into the woman's face, and made sure his voice was loud enough for the entire room to hear. "He's not for sale." He stuck Noah's picture in her face, "Have you seen him?"
The woman leaned over so she could see Luke around the picture. "Maybe I'll tell you for a small taste."
Angel pounded his fist on the table, and spoke to her in a tone so soft that Luke couldn't hear him. "He's mine, and he's not for sale."
One second Luke was watching Angel's back, and the next he was staring in Noah's eyes. He was so startled by Noah's quick appearance, that he took a small step back. As soon as he got over the initial shock, he grabbed Noah in a quick hug. When it wasn't returned, he backed up a step and said, "Noah?"
Spike and Connor came out of the first bathroom, and saw that Luke and Noah were standing next to each other. Spike whispered to Connor, "Looks like Luke has a type. Tall, dark, and broody."
"Ick." Connor muttered, and listened closely to the room. The only heart beating, other then his own, was Luke's. He whispered back, "And vampire."
Spike tuned his ears in to confirm this, and then they both headed over to stand behind Luke.
Noah glared at Luke. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for you. Your email doesn't work, your cell phone is gone, you're not living in your apartment, and you're not working on your film. I was worried about you."
"Go home, Luke."
"What?" Luke tried not to let the hurt show in his voice.
Noah leaned in and said, "Go. Home. Luke."
"What happened to you? Why are you acting like this?"
"Did it ever occur to you that I didn't want to be found? That I wanted to leave my pathetic little life in Oakdale in the past where it belongs?"
"Pathetic?" Luke glared back at Noah. "You have friends and family there who love you, Noah. Oakdale is your home."
"Family? I don't have any family left, Luke, and you know it."
In a soft voice, Luke said, "You can't just turn your back on all the people who care about you."
Luke was at a loss. "What about us?"
"Us?" Noah scoffed. "Are you kidding me? There is no us. Go back to pining for your dead doctor. You know, the one you claimed to love even though you never had the guts to screw him."
Luke felt as though Noah had dealt him a physical blow. "How can you say that to me? Three weeks ago, you told me you still loved me."
Noah rolled his eyes, "Three weeks ago, I was different."
Shaking his head, Luke said, "I don't know what happened to you, but the Noah I know would never be so cruel."
Noah leaned in, so they were almost touching and said, "Let me take you to the back room, and I'll show you exactly how cruel I can be."
Before Luke could respond, Angel stepped in between the two, forcing Noah to take a step back. Luke saw a movement out of the corner of his eye, and realized Spike and Connor were flanking him.
Angel turned his back on Noah, and said gently to Luke, "How about we get out of here?"
Luke didn't trust himself to speak, and simply nodded.
Noah growled low in his throat, and tapped Angel's shoulder. "Hey! We're having a conversation here. Who the hell are you?"
Angel could feel a shift in the bar's atmosphere, and realized that Noah had friends here. Things could get ugly fast. Angel turned to glare at Noah. He decided a lie was in order. "I'm Angelus."
There were a few gasps in the room, and hushed whispers, which made Noah nervous. With a forced look of indifference, Noah said, "You know what? Never mind. Take him. I never want to see his face again."
Luke stopped breathing for a moment, and his eyes filled with unshed tears. Spike put an arm around Luke's shoulders, and said quietly, "Let's go."
Luke nodded, and let Spike lead him out, with Connor following. Once they were gone, Angel said, "If any harm comes to him, I'll make you suffer."
"You guys came looking for me, not the other way around." Noah scoffed.
Angel leaned into Noah's personal space and said, "Be sure it stays that way."
Noah nodded, feeling intimidated, but trying not to let it show.
# # #
When Angel got outside, he saw Connor and Spike leaning against the hood of the car anxiously waiting for him. Luke was already in the back seat, quietly crying. Angel handed the keys to Spike and said, "I'll sit in back." Spike gratefully took the keys. Angel said, "I don't trust Noah. We'll take him home for the night, so we can keep an eye on him until daylight." Spike and Connor nodded in agreement.
Angel opened the backdoor to get in, and saw Luke quickly wipe his face with his hands, trying to compose himself. While Spike and Connor got in, Angel put a gentle hand on Luke's shoulder and said, "I'm sorry."
Luke shook his head, as more tears slipped down his face. "I shouldn't have come."
The car pulled away from the curb. Angel said, "You were worried."
"I was stupid."
Angel fought the urge to pull Luke into a comforting hug. "No you weren't. If someone I was close to went missing, I'd try to find them, too."
Wiping his face again, Luke said, "I thought we were close, but now… It's like he was a completely different person. The things he said to me…" Luke's face twisted in grief.
Angel couldn't take it. He scooted closer to Luke and put an arm around his shoulders. "I know."
Too emotionally worn out to resist, Luke rested his head on Angel's shoulder. He closed his eyes and tried to block everything out. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to relax, and just enjoy the feeling of being held.
At first Angel was surprised when he felt Luke's head on his shoulder, but he was also pleased. Being able to give Luke some comfort made him feel immensely better.
Half an hour later, Spike pulled up to the place they all currently called home, and cut the engine. Luke opened his eyes, and immediately straightened up after looking out the window. "Where are we?"
Angel took his hand off Luke's shoulders, and said, "My house."
"What?" Luke turned to him, "Why?"
"It seemed easier then taking you back to the office, or trying to get you to a hotel at this hour."
"But…" Luke started a protest, but Angel cut him off.
"It's a huge house, with a bunch of rooms that we never use."
Luke considered it. He could barely keep his eyes open as it was. "We?"
"We all live here together. Gunn too. We're more like family then co-workers."
"I don't know if it's a good idea." Luke said.
"You've had a rough night, and we have plenty of room."
Spike left the keys in the ignition, opened his door, and directed his comment to Angel. "If you don't need me to chauffeur anymore, I'd like to get something to eat."
Connor opened his door as well and said, "And I need to get to sleep. I have class at nine tomorrow."
Waving them off, Angel said, "Thanks for the help guys. I've got it covered, one way or another."
Once they were alone, Angel said, "What do you say?"
"If you're sure it's okay."
Angel got out, and pulled Luke's overnight bag out of the trunk. "I'm sure."
Angel gave Luke a short tour of the house. "There's one empty bedroom down here, and three empty bedrooms upstairs. Pick whichever you like, they all have a master bathroom attached. Gunn, Connor, and I stay down here, and Spike sleeps upstairs."
"I'll take the room down here."
Angel handed Luke his bag, and gestured to the empty bedroom. "It's all yours."
Once Luke was alone in the spare room, he sat on the bed, and put his head in his hands. He spent half the night trying to figure out what had happened to the man he thought he had known better then anyone else in the world. He wasn't able to sleep until he'd decided what the next step would be.
# # #
Late the next morning, when Luke woke up, he found the house eerily quiet. Surprised at how long he'd slept, he got in the shower. While he washed, his mind replayed the events of the night before, and he found himself even more determined to find out what had happened to Noah.
When he was done getting ready, Luke went to the living room and called out, "Hello?"
Angel came out of the kitchen holding a cup of coffee. "Morning. There's coffee if you want it."
After spending most of the evening with Angel last night, Luke was surprised at the way his pulse fluttered when he laid eyes on the man this morning. "Sure, coffee sounds good." he said, forcing his eyes away.
Angel smiled softly at Luke's reaction, and walked to the kitchen. He poured Luke a cup, and they sat together at the kitchen table. Luke said, "I'm sorry I slept so late, you could have woken me up."
"It's okay, I'm usually not even up this early. How are you doing today?"
"Better now that I've had some time to think."
"Good. I checked online for flights back to Oakdale. One leaves today at one o'clock." Angel looked at his watch and said, "Connor should be home in about half an hour. He can give you a ride to the airport."
Caught off guard, Luke said, "The airport? I can't just leave. Noah needs me."
"I thought about it for a long time last night, and finally it hit me. The only explanation for Noah's drastic personality change is drugs."
Angel leaned back in his chair, and pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers. "Drugs? He seemed perfectly sober to me."
"You don't know him like I do. The man you met last night, was not the same Noah who left Oakdale three months ago. I don't know what he was on, but I'm going to find out."
"You can't actually be thinking about meeting up with him again after the things he said to you."
"He's not himself. He's hurt and lashing out. I owe it to him to stay here and convince him to get clean."
Angel looked to the ceiling and muttered, "Of all the…" He focused back on Luke and said, "You can't help him."
"I'm not saying it will be easy, but…"
"No," Angel cut him off, and sat forward in his chair. "He's not on drugs, and you can't help him."
Getting annoyed, Luke said, "How would you know?"
"I just know. If you go to see him again, you'll be putting yourself in danger."
"Danger?" Luke scoffed. "You don't know the first thing about Noah. He would never hurt me."
"He hurt you last night!" Angel hissed.
"Not physically, and he never would."
Angel leaned into Luke's personal space and glared. "You are going to get yourself killed if you go back to that bar. The people there are dangerous, and they will hurt you. You're lucky that you got out of there without getting hurt last night."
Luke forced himself not to lean back in his chair, even though it was difficult. He found it disconcerting to be intimidated and attracted to the man at the same time. "I am going back to that bar to find Noah. If you won't help me, then I'll do it myself."
Angel lost his temper. "You're not going back to that bar, you're getting on an airplane and going home!"
Furious, Luke stood up, fished some hundreds out of his pocket, and slapped them down on the table. "Here's your money! You're fired!"
Angel stood as well, "You're still not going!"
Luke's jaw clenched in anger, "Unless you plan to keep me prisoner here, you can't stop me."
Seeing the truth in this, Angel changed tactics. He sighed and lowered his voice. "You're right. I'm sorry. I just have this overwhelming… desire to keep you safe."
Luke's eyes opened wide with surprise at the word 'desire'. "Oh."
"Look, if you really need to go see Noah again, I'll take you back to the bar tonight. But I'm telling you, you won't like what you find."
"Give me some time to think about it, and I'll let you know."
Angel smiled, "Okay." After an awkward pause, he added, "Can I make you some breakfast?"
Luke shook his head. "Sorry, I don't have time. Since I knew I'd be in L.A. anyway, I scheduled a meeting for this afternoon."
Angel wasn't sure if he believed Luke or not, but nodded, "Okay. Connor could give you a lift if…"
"No thanks, I'll just call a cab. When the meeting's over, I'll let you know what I've decided."
Frowning, Angel nodded in agreement. Luke pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and called for a cab, looking to Angel when they asked for a pick up address. He hung up, and said, "They'll be here soon."
Luke grabbed his bag, and said, "I'm going to go wait at the curb."
"You don't have to."
"It's okay, I need to call my mom and give her an update anyway." Luke headed to the door and said, "I'll call you later this afternoon."
"Okay." He watched Luke walk to the curb, and then glared up at the sun.
A few minutes after the front door had closed, Spike came down the stairs in his boxers and said, "That went well."
"Shut up," Angel said without anger.
"Ponce." Spike muttered, and went to the kitchen to find some blood.
A few minutes later, Angel overheard Luke talking to his mother. He was shocked to hear Luke tell her that they hadn't found any leads on Noah yet. Luke's lie had been smooth without hesitation, and Angel started to worry. For the next fifteen minutes, Luke's mother did most of the talking while Luke waited for the cab. When the cab pulled up, Luke got off the phone. Angel's hand clenched into a fist when he heard Luke give the cab driver the address to the bar. "Damn it!" He yelled in frustration at the daylight.
Spike gulped the last of the blood in his mug. "Know what your problem is then?"
"I'm not in the mood, Spike." Angel got out his cell phone.
"You can't go around issuing orders anymore. While we were at war with Wolfram and Hart, you shouted out orders, and we followed them without question."
"Without question?" Angel scoffed, while dialing, "When did that happen?"
Spike continued as if Angel hadn't interrupted. "You have to handle things with a little more finesse now."
Angel put the phone to his ear and said, "Get dressed. We've got to go stop him before he gets himself killed."
With a long-suffering sigh, Spike headed upstairs to get dressed.
Connor answered with, "Hey Dad, what's up?"
"Are you out of class?"
"Yeah, I just got in the car."
"I need you to go back to that bar."
"Luke's headed that way to try and find Noah on his own."
"What! Why didn't you stop him?"
"He lied to me about where he was going, and now he's already in the sun and in a cab."
Connor started the car. "I'm on my way, but he's a lot closer then me. Even if I speed, he'll get there ten or fifteen minutes ahead of me."
"I know. Spike and I will try to get there by sewer, but I doubt we'll beat him there either."
Angel turned to call Spike, and found him standing beside him fully dressed.
"Ready?" Spike asked.
"Let's go," Angel said with a small smile. It still surprised him to see Spike not only following his lead, but also doing his best to help. The years of fighting a war together had made their bond stronger, even when they bickered.