Clambering out of D'Oblique's sewage access grates, Angel glanced around. He figured they were in some sort of utilities closet- dark, damp, and generally unappealing. However, he could hear loud popular music coming from somewhere close, so the night club must be nearby.
Spike confirmed his suspicions. "C'mon Peaches. Just through the door." Angel strode ahead of his fellow vampire, reminding himself in his head of all the reasons he shouldn't kill Spike. *One of these days I'm just gonna give into temptation…* he thought angrily, though he didn't really mean it. Though Spike could be thoroughly exasperating, he was also a loyal, if argumentative, ally, and these days Angel sometimes even considered him a friend.
His internal musings were cut into by bright blue lights and a haze of alcohol, perfume, and sweat. Giggling girls and slightly drunk men populated the tables and the dance floor. The mass of gyrating bodies seemed to move as one, and the blue glow gave the miles of bare flesh a slightly disturbing look. A chill settled through him.
Glancing back at his companions he was both relieved and a bit annoyed to see that both appeared normal- that is to say, Illyria looked smug and condescending and Spike was smiling his I-want-to-go-party-and-start-a-brawl grin. Apparently, whatever he had sensed, neither of them had detected it."
Illyria furrowed her brow at the dancers. "This is a peculiar ritual of humans, dancing. I wish to experience it." She looked expectantly at Spike.
"You asking me to dance, love?" Spike replied with an even bigger, stupider grin than before. "Thought you were above all that petty human behavior."
Illyria started to withdraw, offended, when Spike sighed added, "Sorry, pet. Didn't mean to imply anything. C'mon. Let's dance." Illyria considered for a moment, then relented and started off towards the crowd. Spike glanced back. "You okay by yourself for a sec, mate?"
Angel nodded and gave what he hoped was a reassuring nod. "I'm fine. I'll just hit the bar. You and Illyria go have fun." Spike nodded curtly and hurried after their blue-haired friend.
What Angel didn't mention was that he had realized what was so unsettling about the bar: it didn't just share a name with the D'Oblique he had visitied once ago; it was the D'Oblique he had visited. A couple more customers, perhaps, but otherwise it was exactly the same, right down to the potted, dying plant in the corner. He shook his head and tried to clear his thoughts. He was probably just imagining things. Still, one could never be too careful with the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart after them.
The bar was crowded when he arrived, and he only found a seat when a young couple wandered off, obviously seeking to continue their activities in private. The bar stool was shiny and black, the tables shiny too. It was all the same. Looking around, he could almost imagine it was the last time he had been here. He could almost fool himself into believing that if he turned the corner he would find a half-irish half-demon man bickering fondly with a pretty yet rather crass girl. He could almost imagine that if he left the bar, he would be able to reach his home and office by just walking a couple blocks, that he would find it filled with his old books, and his favorite weapons, and that he would be accused of being all Doom-and-Gloomy… but no. That was another life. That life was gone. All he had now were a few belongings, soaked from the rain from yesterday, and an annoying beach-blond vampire and an ancient goddess who he highly suspected didn't like him all that much. Life really did change.
"Hey, can I get you something?"
Lost in his reminiscences, Angel at first found it easy to ignore the voice. But then it came again, louder.
"If you're not going to get anything, you have to clear the seat, man. I got customers to serve."
The voice came from the young Hispanic who manned the bar. He was dressed suavely in a suit jacket and dark pants. However, a face which would have been dashing was marred by a scar down the side of his face. "Buddy, I'm serious. Buy or be gone."
Though the look on the man's face obviously indicated he had been expecting a different response, he didn't comment. A minute later, he returned with Angel's drink. "One Budweiser, as ordered."
The other man hesitated for a second, and Angel prayed that he would just move on. Predictably, he didn't. "Have to say, Buddy, but you're looking rather pensive."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah. I mean most men in this bar, your age, got your looks, they would be all over the place, looking for some action. You, you've been staring at my countertops for the last three minutes. So what gives?"
"Nothing really. Just remembering some stuff. This place reminds me of someplace I used to know."
"Does it now? That's funny, Mister, one of my other customers was saying the same thing to me the other day. Said it was a lot like some place up in LA."
Angel's head shot up. "LA?"
"Yeah, man, I know. Wonder what's happening up there? The authorities keep on saying it's nothing, not to worry, but me, I got the feeling even they don't know what went down."
Angel nodded in understanding. Ever since he and the others had invoked the wrath of the senior partners, LA had become a bloodbath. Demons had looted and destroyed. The sane had left while they could. These days, he had heard that some power, probably the new Slayer Council, had put up a mystical barrier around LA. They didn't want all those demons coming out and attacking the rest of the world.
The bartender, ignorant of what was going on in Angel's head, continued to speak. "I think my customer knows too, not that I could get her to say a thing to me. Funny, most people will say more to their bartender than to their psychologist, but this one, I'm lucky if I get a good five sentences out of her. Reminds me of you a bit in that way, buddy."
Angel smiled, though inwardly he wondered who the man's customer was. If she knew what was going on in LA, she could be useful. Or dangerous. Either way, it would be good to know who she was.
And apparently fate was smiling on him, for the bartender looked up, and remarked in a shocked tone, "Well, speak of the devil. Here, I'll go grab you a malt, just the way you like it, miss."
Angel spun around, shocked. He knew that voice, but it wasn't a voice that belonged to his current life. It was a voice that called up more memories of the half-demon man and the girl, a voice which he hadn't heard in three years, at least. It couldn't be, and yet he knew it was. He turned around.
The woman stared at him for a second through blue-grey eyes, and then her lips teased their way into a wry smile. "Fancy finding you here. Long time no see."
Angel felt his own lips spreading into a grin. Her blond locks were longer than he remembered them, but he would recognize her face anywhere.