Trampling Out the Vintage

Angel is lying on a lumpy, uncomfortable bed in a marginally respectable motel somewhere south of Sunnydale. The eclipse ended before he reached his destination, wherever that is. Los Angeles, he's pretty sure. All roads lead there, don't they? Where it began and now where he's fleeing to escape… Not it, but her.

Buffy.

The love of his life and unlife.

The bitch he wishes he'd drained dry, turned, and staked – damning her the way she's damned him.

Because she forced this on him – forced him to drink her blood, to open up the door between himself and his demon so wide that he can't get it closed.

He feels as though he's drowning, with the battle over and nothing on which to focus save the way he's splintering and fracturing and becoming something he's always been but from which he was always able to hide.

Until now.

The television is on, but it's no match for the voice inside, the one he used to be able to tune out, the one whose seductive tones won't be turned into white noise anymore. The one who reminds him of appetites and desires he was once able to pretend he didn't have.

Was that the voice that spoke when Willow held his hand and wiped his fevered brow? No, he meant those words for Buffy. He did. She was the whole world to him then.

He meant those words for Willow.

Willow, who was saved from Angelus by Acathla, by an obsession which eclipsed her even as it almost destroyed the world.

Willow, whose scent still clings to the soul she restored to him.

Willow, who came to him reeking of that wolf.

Was that what made him (no, not him, never him) retreat?

And why is he clinging to his love for Buffy? No more is she the balm to his tortured soul. Now she's a draught of holy water drunk deep. Her good intentions condemning him to this fresh hell.

He remembers the feel of his teeth in her neck, the crunch of muscle and skin, the way her blood felt hot and full of rich, forbidden life as it flowed into him.

He remembers a time of glorious (not glorious, terrible) freedom and the feel of a slim body held tightly against his own. When he closes his eyes, he can remember filling his nostrils with the scent of cinnamon and innocence – the way it drowned out the sickly smell of Buffy's perfume, the lingering fragrance of Buffy's lust and broken hymen.

He imagines fucking Willow next to Buffy's lifeless body, taking her the way he imagines Oz did, punishing Willow for her sins as he drives all traces of her pathetic pet from her heart and body.

Transforming the dream slightly, he lets Buffy live long enough to see him driving into Willow, to see both their faces as the last traces of life drip slowly from the two holes in her neck, to die with Willow's cries of pain and pleasure in her ears.

His cock hardens and he hates himself, but his mind won't cooperate and the door won't close. The demon flows into him…so does the man he once was. Neither of them is looking for soft lights and the warm glow of redemption.

Oh how he wants to go back, to fight harder against Buffy's will.

It's too late and the waking dreams consume him.

He's borne back into the past, the past when he held Buffy's hand and the whole world was what he saw in her eyes.

But it's not her golden hair and soft green eyes he sees – no, it's red hair and eyes of a very different green.

Her bedroom is impossibly girlish – too young even for one as guileless and inexperienced as she is. It makes Drusilla's cell seem almost a brothel. She's all long hair and longer legs. The pitch of her voice is mercurial and she fidgets as she tells him she's not allowed to have boys in her room – a prohibition to which she has obviously paid respect before now without having any sense of its necessity.

He hungers to show her just what it is of which her parents are afraid.

His chance comes late – when the shadows are deep and her sleep even more so. After all, he does have a newly-minted invitation to her room… and two centuries of knowledge and experience of how to wake and take sweet innocence.

He needs to stop this. Just because it's only a dream – will only ever be a dream – that doesn't make it right. If for no other reason than that a demon like him should respect another demon's property.

But his kind have never had much truck with part-time wolves and the eldest member of the Order of Aurelius would never stand aside for a pup who hasn't even marked his mate.

Unlike him, though, Oz is human most of the time, and when he isn't, he's a feral thing, a wild animal with no thought or awareness. That's not the one with whom Willow shared herself. She mated with the man, not the monster. This is a girl so naïve she couldn't even read the signs left strung like beads in an envelope on her bed. The battle now is not to hate her for what she never knew.

She's not for him. She was never for him… never – and he's never wanted her. Not Angel, never Angel.

Ah, but to make those claims… He's no wolf and he's nothing like Oz. He's always the monster inside the skin of a man and now, thanks to Buffy, that skin is thin and fragile and it won't guard him from himself any longer. If he could see his reflection, he knows he'd see ridges and fangs. He would always see them.

He sees them now.

Inhaling, sense memory overwhelms him with the scent of Willow's second rut with her boy. Was it she or he who reached into the chasm of imminent death and drew out passion?

In his dreams it's her and if he'd been there, she'd have turned to him, pulled him to her in the shadows of the school, let him push her up against the wall, begged him to fuck her hard and fast.

Another chance to make her pay for innocence and ignorance.

Within him now are whispered questions: Did Oz realize what those fish meant? Was that why it had taken him so long to take Willow to bed?

He should have known better than to take her at all.

But Oz isn't in any real danger, is he? He'll never suffer the way Angel now dreams of making him suffer – making both him and his lover suffer. Howls ring in his ears as he imagines forcing Willow to watch him skin her wolf alive and screaming… then fucking her on the dirty fur.

The soul is still there, though – the soul that ties him to Willow – and the only torment that's real is Angel's: the appetites and evil he now must own, the voice he can no longer drown out, the dreams that will never come true.

The rage boiling uselessly in his veins.

He sighs, the air he forces out smelling of futility, frustration, and his own cheated death.

He wishes he'd turned to dust rather than let Buffy force her blood down his throat.

He wishes he'd drained Buffy dry.

The End.