I wrote this as a birthday present to a friend back in 2001 - I'm leaving it as is blemishes and all.
This book is for Louisa. Hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Ok, bad pun, I'm sorry. Shoot me already.
This book takes place during the first half of the second season of Angel and the first half of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents you may not recognize are products of the author's (overactive) imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead (or un-dead), is purely coincidental. Those you do recognize belong to Joss Whedon and co.
Chamaray listened to the evening birds singing the melodies of the ages. Under the dappled light she sat watching her mother with peaceful eyes as she herded the few sheep they had down the lush common land, and into the small wooden barn she was leaning against for the night. That way their fleeces would be dry and ready to be sheared come morning. Her father had left them when Chamaray had been five, he had been a knight and he had loved her mother very much, until he had found out that she was a druid and practiced the magicks of her people. He had tried to take Chamaray with him claiming her mother to be a black witch, but her mother had hidden her in the hayloft. Chamaray could not remember her father but she could remember having to hide in the hayloft, under all the sweet smelling hay that tickled her nose and threatened to make her sneeze. She remembered the roughness of the dry grass and the dense fear that threatened to smother her, and her mother's lilting voice whispering softly in their welsh tongue as she descended down the loft ladder, 'Hush now lamb, make not a sound.' Chamaray got to her feet, shaking off the memory, as she knew animals shook the morning dew from their coats. She watched as her mother herded the last of the animals past her and into the barn, long woollen dress billowing out behind her. She followed her mother inside pulling the heavy oak door shut behind them, causing the barn to descend into absolute darkness. Chamaray felt a thick, warm fleece brush against her hand, and then suddenly the last of the evening's rays filtered into the barn, along with a gentle breeze; her mother had opened the window shutters. Her mother then crossed back to Chamaray, the light from the window creating the illusion that her mother was a mere halo adorned cutout, the sheep creating a path for her as she walked. She put her delicate arm over Chamaray's shoulder and led her out of the barn, shutting the heavy wooden door behind her. 'Come now lamb,' her mother said as she stopped and bent down slightly to her daughter's height so she could look her in her twin icy, mill-pool-calm eyes, 'what's wrong with thee today?'
'Nothing mama,' Chamaray replied as her mother's hand brushed against her soft, rosy cheek as she gently tucked a stray strand of golden hair that had fallen loose from her braid, back behind her daughter's ear. Her mother seemed to search her eyes for a moment then, satisfied, she stood up gracefully as if dancing to music only she could hear. As the sun's last rays died she took her daughter's small hand in her own and squeezed it slightly. She reminded Chamaray of a doe, fidgety, alert. She was sensing something. 'What is wrong mama?' Chamaray asked.
'Run,' her mother said quietly, an unusual sense of urgency in her musical voice, 'run to the barn. Hide. No matter what ye hear, promise me that ye will hide. Don't come down until dawn, or until I come for thee. Do ye understand me?' She nudged Chamaray in the direction of the barn; her eyes firmly fixed on a point further up the steep hill, in the dense forest. Panic reared its ugly head in Chamaray's throat.
'Mama what's wrong? Is something out there?' She asked hesitating.
'Just do as I say lamb, and do not move until morning light or I come and call for thee, do not worry, the sheep will mask thy smell. Go.' This time her mother pushed her with a greater force and the momentum carried Chamaray back down the hill towards the barn, she heard her mother begin chanting what sounded like a protection spell, her usually calm voice tight with panic. Chamaray broke into a run, never looking behind her, she pushed open the barn door then shut it tight behind her, she scrambled up the wooden loft ladder, her foot missed a prong sending her falling, she saved her self by grabbing the beam the ladder rested on with her hand. She pulled herself up, pulled the ladder up after her and buried herself in the straw until she was completely covered, then she did not move a muscle, fear building up inside of her. She had never heard that tone in her mother's voice before. Below her the sheep were restless. She could hear her heart beating in her chest, quickening, quickening, quickening, louder, louder, louder. Her ears throbbed with the sound. Unexpectedly the sheep stopped moving, the birds had all stopped chirping, there was complete silence except for the thrumming of her heart against her breast and her haggard breathing. Suddenly a blood-curdling scream echoed across the valley. Chamaray drew in a sharp breath, and squeezed her eyes shut, an icy cold tear found its way down her pale cheek. The creak of the barn door opening startled her in to silence, she swallowed the sob that had worked its way up to her throat and forced her self to be still. As quiet as a field mouse, she chanted over and over to her self in her head, it is probably just mama. She knew as soon as she heard them that the footsteps were too heavy to be her mother's. She opened her eyes and peered through the hay. A shadowy figure was making its way through the sheep below her. The figure was a little over five feet tall and moved graciously, almost inhumanly. The figure stopped and sniffed the air; he turned in her direction and seemed to stare right through her, his eyes gleamed feral yellow and the moonlight gleamed off his glistening fangs, a drop of blood clung to his chin. He licked his lips. Satisfied he turned and waded his way back through the mêlée of silent sheep. He chuckled as he walked out of the barn leaving the door wide open behind him. Her lungs ached and she let out a breath she had not even realised she had been holding. A deep sob surfaced and too scared to move a muscle she quietly cried her self into an exhausted sleep.
She watched her mother twirl through the meadow, her long brown hair flowing like a shawl over her fragile shoulders, her brown and cream skirts billowing behind her like sails. She laughed. 'Come Chamaray,' her mother said in that wonderful, calm, lilting voice that reminded her of a nightingale's song, 'dance with me lamb.' She stood up and ran to her mother's open arms. 'Chamaray!' Her mother called, but her mother's voice had changed, it had become deeper. 'Chamaray Kieahrieah! That's a girl. Father! The lass is alright! Satan didn't ta claim t'girl.' Chamaray's eyes fluttered open, 'Mama?' She said; she did not know where she was. She breathed in deeply and got a nose full of hay, then like a torrent the events of the previous night flooded back to her and threatened to sweep her off her feet, and would have done, if she had not been lying down on the hay. 'Sir!' She said looking up at the young-dark-haired-man-who's-voice-she-had-heard's deep brown eyes, she recognised him as being Gardel the Barron's son, her voice strained with panic, 'Sir! Where is mama?' She sat up and grabbed his arm with her small hand.
'Hush now Chem,' he said his accent rich, 'ye must be exhausted. Do as I tell thee now an' get thee some rest.' He gently put both his hands on her shoulders and tried to lay her back down.
'Master Gardel!' A woman's voice called, 'Master Gardel!' Chamaray saw a plump woman with kind eyes and her salt and peppered hair tied back in a tight braid, enter the barn. She was wearing a dark brown woollen dress, and her cheeks and nose were rosy, they gave the impression that she had been running. A name surfaced in Chamaray's mind and it matched the face, this was Cassandra the village gossip, she was one of Chamaray's mother's best friends. Chamaray's mother was the village medicine woman, and every Thor's day they had gone to the market together. Chamaray smiled.
'Good morrow to thee Cassandra!' Chamaray said as she sat up so the old woman could see her properly. Chamaray frowned when she saw the older woman's eyes; their natural twinkle of mischief was absent, replaced instead with the moisture of sadness. 'Why Cassandra. Why doth thou look so sad with sorrow?'
'Oh childe,' Cassandra said as her eyes locked with Chamaray's. She held her gaze for a minute or so then turned to look to Gardel, 'Master Gardel, your father wants to talk with thou, sir.' Gardel nodded solemnly and gracefully stood up and climbed down from the hayloft his woollen cloak seeming to follow obediently behind him. Once he had left Chamaray jumped down from the hayloft and landed with the grace of a cat. She cocked her head to the side and looked questioningly at Cassandra. Cassandra moved as gracefully as her size would allow to Chamaray and embraced her tightly threatening Chamaray's air supply, Chamaray could sense now was not the right time to make one of her now famous jokes so she stayed silent. She had known Cassandra all her life and she knew that the old woman would tell all in her own time. Cassandra let go and put her hands on Chamaray's shoulders and held her at arm's length as if to study her. She took a deep breath and said softly, 'oh childe, I'm so sorry.' A frown caressed Chamaray's features.
'About what?' She nudged gently when Cassandra showed no sign of continuing.
'Childe,' Cassandra said as she sat down heavily on a bail of hay, sending a cloud of dust heavenward. She gestured for Chamaray to do the same and waited until the girl did so before she continued. 'Childe, I am a feared for thee. Your mother, Ecaterina,' she broke off obviously upset. Normally Chamaray would have just let her continue at her own pace but Cassandra had mentioned her mother. The name triggered alarm bells that rang loudly in her ears.
'What? Cassandra, please tell me! What is wrong with mama?' Chamaray pleaded tears welling in her eyes.
'Your mother was taken childe, I'm so sorry,' Cassandra said as she reached out to comfort Chamaray. Chamaray pulled away and stood up, shock smothered her like a heavy feather blanket.
'Taken? W…what dost thou mean, taken?' Her voice rose to a hysteria pitch.
'By the devil childe. He came for her last night.' Cassandra chose her words carefully and studied the girl who stood trembling before her, but not in fear.
'The devil,' Chamaray croaked, a lump forming in her throat, 'in what form? Cassandra, I beg of thee, tell me what form,' she said her tone soaring once more. Tears flowed freely now and her throat was dry as bark.
'The worst form childe, a vampyr.' Cassandra stood and walked towards the girl.
'I must see her!' Chamaray said as she ran out of the barn and into the pale daylight. She ran through the grass, it whipped against her knees but she felt nothing. She saw a group of men surrounding the still form of her mother, they saw her and moved so that she could see her mother lying on the soil, she looked peaceful, as if in sleep. Chamaray just stared at her mother's body, her eyes locked on the two puncture wounds on her ivory neck, she was aware that the men were talking around her, she saw their lips move but no sound came forth from their mouths, the world had gone silent. Suddenly someone put his or her arm around her shoulders and she found that she could hear again. She tore her eyes away from her mother's body and found herself staring into Gardel's deep trusting eyes. 'W…will she r…rise?' Chamaray managed to choke out. But she already knew the answer, she could see the town's folk lugging kindling and firewood up the hill, the carpenter had his axe in hand, and she could see that the Barron was holding a long tapered wooden stake in his right hand.
'We do not know,' he answered, as she had known he would. She shrugged his arm off her shoulders and with one last glance over her shoulder at her mother she grabbed a sharp piece of wood the village people had dropped, then ran with all the energy she had left up the hill and into the forest after the demon that had condemned her mother's soul to hell. Gardel gave chase as did a few of the other young men but they were called back, no one would dare venture into the forest, not even during the day. In the forest it was constantly night.
Shock moved silently. As silently as the dead, well Shock was a vampire so that was technically accurate. Shock knew where he was going, and whom he was trying to find, but to find him, Shock had to find a demon that his friend Rez had told him about. Rez had said that this demon knew everyone in L.A. and if Rez had been wrong, well that was cool, he'd just have to find somebody who did know.
Angel paced the hotel office rhythmically. His intense, deep brown eyes fixed firmly on the polished floor.
'You in pace mode again?' Questioned Cordelia, 'because if you are, can you move somewhere else, because you're making a trench.' Angel frowned at Cordelia, then turned to Wesley.
'Got anything yet?' He asked his ex-watcher colleague.
Wesley who was sitting in a big leather and mahogany chair in Angel's office, looked up from the massive, dusty, leather bound volume on his lap entitled 'Mythology' and mumbled the answer he had been giving for about two hours to his vampire boss. 'Not yet,' Angel sighed and looked back down at the floor. Suddenly Wesley stood up, '…wait a minute…ah ha!'
'Was that a 'yay' ah ha, or just a plain ah ha?' Asked Cordelia. Angel looked up immediately, his eyes scanning Wesley's face for the answer.
The fired watcher carried on ignoring Cordelia and continued, 'yes, here we go…you said people, particularly young men, had been disappearing and stone statues had been appearing in their place?'
'That's what it said in my vision, and in the paper. Though the paper only mentioned the disappearing side not the supernatural,' said Cordelia, all business.
'Well that leaves it as either a stone demon or, if it's actually turning these men to stone, an ancient gorgon,' he looked up and locked eyes with his boss, 'not the gorgons we get these days,' he finished.
'Medusa?' Angel said turning to Cordelia, when Cordelia gave him a blank expression he continued trying to jog her memory, 'you know, from Greek mythology.'
'Medusa was one of the three gorgons, women with snakes for hair; anyone who looked directly at her was turned to stone. Medusa was killed by a Greek called Perseus, he used a sickle, bag, helmet of invisibility, winged sandals, and a shield which he used as a mirror, all given to him by the god and goddess, Hermes and Athena,' Wesley finished.
'Oh yeah,' said Cordelia, as a flicker of recognition played across her features, 'but where are you going to get all that stuff and anyway I thought you said she was killed by that guy who uses purses.'
'Perseus, and there were three Cordelia, only one - Medusa- was killed,' answered Wesley, 'though it could be a stone demon.'
'No,' Angel replied as he put his hands on the desk, 'the stone demon eats parts of the statues, Cordy said these were whole.'
'So how are you going to kill it without, you know, the flying sandals, and invisible helmet, unless Wesley can find something in one of his big ol' books,' said Cordelia.
'I'll keep researching,' said Wesley, as he turned and buried his nose back in the heavy hardback on his lap.
Cordelia stood up and walked towards the door, 'well, if you boys don't need me, I have some serious shopping to do.' She said as she reached for the door handle.
'Go,' came Wesley's muffled reply.
Angel darted over to a shadier part of the room, narrowly avoiding the beam of the late evening sunlight that Cordelia's exit caused to flood into the hall of the hotel that was masquerading as the base for 'Angel Investigations.' Angel had set up the company to 'help the helpless' with the help of an Irish half demon, half human called Doyle, and Cordelia when he had gone to Los Angeles and had left Sunnydale, and Buffy, after defeating the Mayor and averting the apocalypse. The door shut again and Angel and Wesley looked at each other, shook their heads and continued researching.
Cordelia loved shopping, except for when there was no-one else's pocket to sponsor it of course. Cordelia pulled her cell phone out of the pocket in her black leather jacket – she had saved for months to get it - and punched in her agent's number. She let the phone ring seven times and just as she was about to hang up, someone picked up and a woman's voice answered.
'Hello? A and M acting and modelling agency, how may I direct your call?'
'Hi, it's Cordelia Chase, I'm calling to speak to Marcus Travelli,'
'I'll put you through to him now Miss Chase, please hold.'
'Hi Cordy,' Marcus' deep voice replied after a few seconds, 'what can I do you for?'
'Hi, I was wondering if I'd had any auditions or job offers…'
'Sorry Cordy, nothing yet,' Marcus interrupted, 'I have another call, I'll ring you. Bye.'
'Bye,' Cordelia said to the dead line. Cordelia sighed and put the phone back in her pocket. Oh well, Cordelia thought, at least I have a job with Angel.
Shock woke up just as darkness began to fall over the city, not that it was dark, even at night, the neon shop signs, and street lamps ensured that. Shock pulled a black comb out of his black and white Hawaiian print shirt, which he wore open over a white tank top, and ran it through his short dark brown, almost black, spiky hair. The silver highlights in his fringe - by which he'd earned his nickname from his sire - caught the light and gave the impression that he had received a shock so bad that his hair had turned white. Shock shoved his comb into his khaki surfer's pants and sighed. He still hadn't found his demon – Cotterelli - Rez had said his name was. Rez had also said Cotterelli was a minor demon and lived at '1530' Portovello Drive. Well Shock had tried there, but to no avail, he'd been invited in and chased around by an old hag who had insisted he was her long lost son – not likely, he'd been dead for a good hundred years. When he'd finally managed to escape he had been left with less than half an hour to find a place where the sun wouldn't reach. With five minutes until death-rise he'd been forced to dust a pesky male vamp - who would not share - to get this tiny, dusty, pathetic crypt. Dusting vamps Shock was O.K. with, so long as he wasn't the one getting dusted. Now to find my sire, he thought as he stole out of the crypt, leaving it once again to the spiders.
Cordelia pushed open the heavy hotel door and entered to find Wesley exactly where he had been when she had left four hours before, but Angel was nowhere to be seen.
'Wes?' Cordelia said.
'Oh, Cordelia, you're back,' Wesley replied, not looking up from the book on his lap that was entitled, 'Gorgons, Stone Demons, Gargoyles, and Golems – the myths and history', the book was almost as wide as Wesley and probably weighed as much as him as well.
'Gone out,' replied Wesley, still not looking up from his text.
'To try and find more clues about our gorgon.'
'Fun!' Cordelia replied sarcastically.
'Hmmm,' Wesley murmured once again absorbed in his book.
'Wesley, I swear one day you will become a book. How?'
'What do you mean 'how'?'
'How has he gone out, you know, no car.'
'You know his car is being serviced.'
'Yes, yes I know that. Motorbike.'
'You sure he just hasn't gone evil again and is using your motorbike as an excuse to wear leather without raising our suspicions.'
'Yes, I'm sure.'
'How?' Wesley rolled his eyes.
'Cordelia?' The ex-watcher said, frustration finally fraying his trained watcher nerves.
'You see those books over there?' Wesley asked pointing with his index finger to a stack of books as tall as Cordelia. 'Read them.'
Shock finally came to the address he'd gotten out of the selfish, younger vamp before he had dusted him, '1720' Emerald Road. His intelligent eyes checked out the surroundings; the outside of the house was neat and was painted light blue with a white trim around the windows and door frame, the house was quite small, and only had one story and an attic room. The garden was neat with blue and white irises in a border either side of the freshly cut lawn, and next to the living room window stood a cherry blossom tree. Shock raised a black finger nailed hand and rapped on the front door thrice then waited. The white door seemed to glow in the eerie moonlight. Suddenly the door opened and a dwarf with red skin, a severe beer belly, and two green horns protruding from each cheek opened the door. It took Shock a few seconds to realise that the door had not opened by itself. Shock stood and looked the demon over; his ears resembled pasta shells, his head other than a small black trimmed goatee, was as bald as a plucked turkey, he was wearing a cheap blue polyester suit with a white shirt and no tie, his hands were large in comparison to his body and so come to think of it were his feet.
'Are you Cotterelli?' Asked the young vampire.
'It depends,' came the less than friendly reply, 'who are you?' The demon was trying to be intimidating, but it took all Shock's strength not to burst out laughing at the demon's feeble attempt.
'I'm Shock, a friend of Rez''
'Rez as in the gnome?'
'No Rez as in the fairy, whose girlfriend is Tinker bell.' Said Shock, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
'O.K. So you are a friend of Rez the gnome?'
'Yes little dude.'
'O.K. I'm Cotterelli. What do you want?'
'I want to find my sire.'
Angel pulled Wesley's motorcycle up outside one of the graveyards; this was his last stop tonight. He took off his helmet - thankfully it was not the pink one - and placed it on the seat, he flicked the stand down, got off the bike then crossed the road and jumped over the rusting wrought iron fence that made up the cemetery boundary. His dark eyes scanned the surrounding area then he made his way silently around the graveyard. Nothing. He re-traced his steps, jumped back over the fence and crossed the road again, just as he was about to put his helmet back on he heard the slightest whisper on the breeze, a soothing melody he wanted to follow, then as abruptly as it had started, the music stopped. He frowned, then got back on the motorcycle and headed back for the hotel. Finally something to report.
Angel pulled up outside the hotel and parked the motorcycle, then pulled off the cycle helmet and ran his fingers through his hair, as he walked up to the door and opened it. Inside Cordelia was asleep slumped over a pile of books and Wesley was unsurprisingly still in research mode. Watchers, Angel thought to himself as he stole in soundlessly, then he let the door slam shut behind him. Cordelia and Wesley were immediately awake, she took a few seconds to get her bearings and then Cordelia grabbed a cross and held it up to Angel.
'Cordelia, what are you doing?' Asked Angel.
'You're evil?' She replied uncertainly.
'Cordelia, Angel is not evil!' Wesley said, from the tone of his voice the vampire could tell that that was something Wesley had repeated more than once already that night.
'I just wanted to make sure,' she replied putting down the cross on the table. Angel put down the crossbow he had been carrying next to Wesley, then sat down behind his desk in his black leather chair.
'It's a gorgon,' Angel said shattering the silence into shards that splintered and went everywhere.
'How do you know? Because if you saw her and you're not stone…' Cordelia started.
'I heard it,' Angel interrupted. 'She was luring men to her through song.'
'Like a Siren?' Wesley queered.
'No because they don't sound like music…' Cordelia started, but was once again interrupted by Angel.
'I'll keep researching shall I?' Asked Wesley.
'I can't go out again today,' Angel said as he folded his hands in his lap.
'Not unless you want to be a crispy critter anyway,' said Cordelia unnecessarily.
'There is only an hour of darkness left, so I'll help you research. Cordelia I want you to…' Angel broke off, when suddenly a figure burst through the door. Wesley jumped up and aimed the crossbow at the figure, and Cordelia grabbed the discarded cross, but the figure did not seem to notice them and instead ran straight to the now standing Angel.
'Hey man! It is you!' Said the figure in a distinctly Romanian accent as he dashed towards the surprised Angel. 'I've missed you so much!' Suddenly he stopped and held up his hands, 'what are you doing hanging with humans?' When Angel did not reply he looked at Cordelia and Wesley, 'now everyone calm down, put down the crossbow man. I'm not going to hurt you, tell them Angelus.'
Angel finally spoke, 'Put them down,' he said, 'he won't harm anyone.'
'Who is he?' Asked Cordelia, the cross stayed in her hand.
'Hi, I'm Shock,' the figure said as he walked towards Cordelia, 'and you are?
'So let me get this straight,' said Cordelia to Angel as they stood in the kitchen, they had left Wesley and Shock talking in the main hall. 'You decided to turn this guy because you were bored, so you did, then you left him and then you had your curse, and felt so guilty you went and looked after the new vamp?'
'Sort of,' Angel replied.
'But how come he didn't try to kill us like the last one, Penn wasn't it?'
'I taught him not to.'
'I had a soul. I taught him to feed of rats.'
'Why does he love you so much?'
'All vampires love their sires.'
'You loved Darla?'
'She was my sire.'
'Then why did you kill her?'
'She was trying to kill Buffy,' at the mention of the slayer's name pain flickered behind the vampire's eyes, it went unnoticed by Cordelia, and Angel shook it off.
'Does Shock have a soul?'
'Didn't he find out from other vamps, that they drink human blood?'
'I taught him that they were eccentric and to ignore them.'
'I had a soul.'
'But you didn't when you turned him?'
'No,' said Angel starting to loose his patience with Cordelia. Shock entered the kitchen and walked over.
'Hey man, can I help you kill the gorgon? You know, like old times?' Angel looked blankly at Shock. 'Please!' Why is he here? Angel asked himself as he studied the puppy-eager vampire before him.
'Alright,' said Angel.
'Alright! How do we start?'
'I can't believe you two,' Cordelia said as Angel walked towards Wesley, with Shock following him readily. Cordelia sighed and walked over to join them. Wesley appeared to be saying something to Shock. Cordelia did not want to know what it was, but Shock was kind of cute- in a 'howdy-doody' kind of way.
'So there's this gorgon, and we have to kill her. Man this is so Columbo, except you're way cooler and way better looking,' babbled Shock. 'So we kill the big bad, then get the hell out of there. Just like old times, man, you and me! You are still so cool!'
'Angel, cool?' She held up her hands as if to balance the words on her hand scales. 'What word doesn't fit in this sentence?' Cordelia asked Wesley. Angel frowned slightly but continued reading. Shock looked from his sire to Cordelia and Wesley.
'Angelus is cool, he's like my messiah, you know. Anyways why do you guys hang around with Angelus, and why do you call him 'Angel'?' Shock protested.
'We help him, well help in the sense of not helping in the slightest, but, well, I don't know…company?' Cordelia replied.
'She gets visions. Angel,' Wesley said, 'I think I've found something,' Angel looked at Wesley and raised an eyebrow. Wesley shook his head and sighed. He looked down and realised that Shock was sitting on the floor at his feet. Angel stood up and gestured for Shock to sit there.
'Hey! That's not fair!' Cordelia protested, 'you told me off when I sat in your chair!' Angel, who had briefly left the room, came back with another chair and put it down next to Shock's. Cordelia frowned then stood up and said, 'I'm going to get sandwiches, Wesley do you want one?'
'No thank you Cordelia,' Wesley replied still absorbed in his book.
'Boss' pet, oh, um sorry, Shock do you want one? Oh no! Of course not, because you are a vampire!' On that note, Cordelia turned and left, deliberately opening the door wide enough for the light that flooded in to hit Shock, but Angel moved and took the brunt of the ray himself, then the door closed and darkness resumed.
'Why do you put up with that?' Shock asked.
'She's always like that,' Angel replied, retaking his seat.
'So Wesley are you two, like, going out?' Shock questioned casually.
'Don't be absurd!' Wesley replied.
'So she's available then?'
'Yes, but she would not go out with you,' said Wesley.
'Three reasons; one you are a vampire; two you are not rich; and three you are not in any way related to Brad Pitt. Ah!'
'Oh,' said Shock, crest-fallen. Angel looked at Shock and taking pity on him, changed the subject.
'What have you got Wesley?' Angel asked.
'Nothing we didn't already know,' Wesley replied, 'but I just learned how to make a hair growth formula.' Angel and Shock both looked at Wesley, their expressions deadpan, and uncannily identical. 'I guess none of us need that, so I'll keep researching.'
'So,' said Shock, regaining his composure, 'what have you been doing since I saw you last?'
'He got killed, and went to hell, then came back,' Wesley answered for Angel.
'Just like a vacation! You are just like Ghandi, but with fangs and way cooler!' Shock turned then, and asked both of them openly, 'so neither of you fancy Cordelia?'
Cordelia walked down the street with the sun beating down on her back, and smiled. She had just bought a ham salad sandwich with no mayo, on brown bread, and a diet coke, and was on her way back to the hotel, when she bumped into a girl who looked about fourteen or fifteen, she had a baby face so could have been older. Her shoulder-length spun gold hair framed her pretty face, and her blue eyes were as calm as mill pools.
'Sorry,' she said as she carried on past Cordelia, her long purple skirt flowing like a cotton river behind her.
'Hey!' Cordelia called after her. The girl turned around and faced her. 'You don't need help do you?'
'Are you from the council?' The girl asked.
'No,' Cordelia replied, as she fished around in her bag for something. She found a business card and handed it to the girl, as the girl took the card off her, Cordelia noticed that her finger nails were painted blood red with white tips, 'I had a friend who used to paint her nails like that, well not exactly a friend because she was crazy. You're not a psycho killer are you?'
'Um…let me think…no,' replied the girl.
'Oh sorry,' said Cordelia, 'if you need help, just ring the number on that card.'
'Ok, I have to go…now. Bye.'
'Hey! What's your name?'
'Bye!' The girl picked up speed and she was soon around the corner and out of sight. She looked at the card the mad woman…Cordelia…had given her. Was she really mad though? Or did she just know more than most people? 'We help the helpless,' she read out loud. 'Angel investigations? What kind of name is Angel?' Louisa arrived outside her lodging, and pulled out a set of keys from her beach bag, she put a key in the lock and turned it. I'm not helpless, I can take care of myself, she thought as she pushed open the door, that was revealing all the colours it used to be, and pushed her way through the cobwebs, and the bodies of fellow teens, to her bunk, she was the only one who had her own room, mainly because this was her house. She earned money by charging teens $2.50 a night for bed and board. Her mother would have killed her if she had still been around, but she had walked out two years before, she had never known her father. Louisa did not really blame her, well actually she did. Louisa sighed and pulled out a pair of black slip on sandals, a short black skirt, and a brown and black snakeskin print top, then pulled on a black bomber jacket, and picked up her bag. She waded back through the homeless, 'Charlene!' She called.
'Yeah Lou?' Came the reply.
'I'm going out, want to come?'
'O.K. Wait a minute!' Charlene came running around the corner and joined Louisa outside. Charlene was wearing red velvet trousers, a black shirt, and a red velvet jacket. Her dark bobbed hair fell in her eyes and she blew it out of the way.
'Remind me to help you chose your clothes next time.' Louisa said. Charlene frowned. Then the two turned and walked down the road to the local nightclub – 'The Thirty Steps' – they walked in silence. Soon they arrived at the alley entrance, and paid the bouncer. They did not really like each other, but to walk the streets of L.A. alone at night was suicide. As soon as they got inside they arranged a time then separated.
Shock and Angel walked together down the paths that ran like veins through the graveyard. They were searching for gorgon made stone craftsmen ship.
'Angelus?' Asked shock.
'Did you really go to hell?'
'Did you know any one there?' Shock said as they left the graveyard, and walked down the alleys that led to the seedy nightclubs.
'Some of them.'
'When I left, what did you do?'
'I tried to find you for ages, I thought someone had staked you, then it was like I could feel you again…wait a second…who sent you to hell?'
'Slayer,' Angel replied simply, I know he knows more…but why is he asking me? Does he want to hear it for himself? I loved the slayer. It seemed so simple then. Loved? Love? Buffy. How is where you are now? Can you hear my thoughts? I miss you. I avenged your death…it took a while…but I did it…for you. Everything was always for you. Can you hear me where you are now?
'Did you kill her when you came back?' Shock's voice seemed distant. I hurt her enough before she killed me, how could I harm her again? I love her. Loved her. Which is it? Love? Such a foreign word. So strange…does it matter? She's gone now…
'No.' What does he want to hear? Does anything matter anymore?
'Why?' I love her. Angel said nothing. Shock whirled around his duster swirled behind him. Angel turned to face Shock. 'You liked her.' It was more than that. Angel once again said nothing. Shock threw out his hands in exasperation. 'Man, you are messed up! What is wrong with you? What happened to 'kill humans only if there is nothing else' - and what is it with that, huh?' Vampires kill humans! It's what we are made for! Man! What happened to you? You thought I wouldn't find out!'
'Shock, I'm sorry…'
'No, don't be sorry, be Angelus!' Shock shouted. 'Dude, I know about the soul thing, and I know about the slayer, I know how to get rid of the soul! I knew you had a soul when you raised me, but at least then you understood what we are! We are a team, you and me. We hunt together; we kill the competition together. We look out for each other. We are a team. We are the team!'
'I wanted to protect you.' I couldn't bring myself to stake you. I thought you would be different.
'Why did you leave?' Shock demanded.
'I…' Angel started, but he found he could not finish. He sighed. 'I didn't want to risk you.'
'What do you mean, 'risk me'?'
'You couldn't understand.'
'Well try to make me understand!'
'To have killed all the people I killed, and care…'
'Oh boohoo, man. Humans don't do around all 'oh woe is me' over a few chickens! Humans are our food! We drink blood, that's what we are meant to do!'
Angel looked at Shock. 'Are you quite finished?' Suddenly two girls, a blonde, and a brunette, walked out of the nightclub together. 'Make a scene and I'll stake you myself,' Angel threatened Shock quietly. Shock ignored him. Suddenly Shock rushed forward and grabbed the brunette.
'This is what we are supposed to do,' he said as he snapped her neck, she did not even have a chance to scream. 'We're supposed to kill.'
Louisa screamed as Charlene's killer shouted at the other man, Angelus he was calling him. Angelus dived over and put himself in-between her and the killer. Angelus shouted at her to run as he launched himself at the killer. The killer's face suddenly became grotesque, he growled at the one called Angelus who grabbed him by the hair and yanked him against the alley wall.
'Run!' Angelus shouted to Louisa, but she was frozen, she could not take her eyes of that demonic face. The demon pushed past Angelus and grabbed Louisa. She screamed, the spell broken and tried to bat him off. Angelus' kicks and blows came hard and fast but the demon's face was getting closer to her neck, she slapped his face but he just laughed. Angelus grabbed the demon's head and brought it back, the demon kicked out and struck home, leaving Angelus temporally off balance. The demon brought his grotesque face right next to her neck and he turned her around.
'Angelus, watch and learn,' he rasped. Then Louisa felt a sharp, intense pain shoot through her neck as the demon lowered his mighty fangs and drove them deep into her veins. Louisa's life flashed before her eyes as she felt her life's blood draining away. She was young girl with long hair, running around an old oak tree, over the grass, orange, gold and red leaves like crepe paper beneath her red booties. Her mother's smiling face. Her black and white sheepdog Molly. Then just before she blacked out, she saw a dark figure hit her killer, and then she was falling in slow motion. Suddenly she stopped falling and the other side of the neck was pierced, and the black figure drank. Then the figure bit its wrist, held its bleeding wrist to her mouth and forced her to drink. She felt the powerful blood seethe through her, filling her. Then she heard a drum; it was slowing down. As she felt herself falling she knew the drum was her heart beating, struggling, willing her not to die, and then finally the drum stopped. I forgive you mom, was Louisa's last thought. The last thing she heard was the sound of Charlene's killer's voice, 'Welcome back, Angelus.'
Louisa woke up disoriented, she could not remember why or what she was doing in a cold, dark alley in the middle of the night. Everything looked different; as if someone had somehow altered her vision, everything was brighter, clearer. She felt power serge through her every limb. Every sound was louder; every smell sent a shiver of excitement through every cell. She sat for a few minutes staring at a neon street sign; she was seeing everything in a new light. Suddenly she caught a tangy, metallic smell in the air that sent her taste buds reeling. She lifted one of her hands up and looked at it, it was saturated in blood. Her blood. She could not stop herself, the hunger was so strong, she thrust her hand into her mouth and licked it clean. Then she noticed a still form lying face down on the concrete floor, it was long dead, and she knew that. She crawled closer to the body. She looked at the face, and stared into its vacant eyes, then she lifted its head, and sank her fangs into the cold flesh of its neck. She felt the human's blood surging through her veins, re-charging her. Suddenly she realised she was not alone. A man was in the alley with her, but he was not human, he did not smell like one. He smelt of death. He was one of her kind…whatever her kind was. He smiled at her and walked over, the sliver highlights in his hair gleamed as the light from the sign caught them. He grabbed her under the armpits and dragged her to her feet, she somehow sensed that this was someone to obey so she did not retaliate. She stood up and he let go of her.
'Hello,' he said, his dark eyes boring into her, probing her mind. Evil hid behind those eyes, she realised.
'Hi,' she replied warily.
'Come with me.'
'Who are you?'
'Unless you want to fry, follow me, I'll answer all your questions on the way,' he turned and she hurried to catch up.
'I know you…you killed that girl...Charlene.'
'Where's the other one? Your friend…Angelus?'
'He…he's coming around. He's still kind of confused, but I'm working on our old sire. He'll come around, and we'll hunt together, and reign supreme, again.'
'What's a sire?'
'Kind of like a father. He made you what you are. He's kind of like…well…a messiah.' Louisa bent down to pick up her bag, as she did its contents spewed out all over the pavement, she bent down further and put everything back in her bag. As they walked out of the alley, no one noticed a little white card with an angel on the front, lying in the gutter, and they certainly did not notice the human blood seemingly smeared across its printed mouth.
A dark cloud followed Angel as he strode into the hotel. A storm was brewing.
'Hi Angel!' Cordelia welcomed him brightly.
'Angel, I have more on our gorgon,' added Wesley. Angel ignored them both and strode straight past them and walked up the stairs and into his room, slamming his door behind him.
'What's eating him?' Asked Cordelia.
On top of a hill surrounded by gravestones, two women stood, their hair seamed to have a life of its own, and if you dared look close enough you would find out that it actually did. They were wearing black cloaks, which flew like bats wings behind them.
'What do you see, sister?' Asked the one on the right in ancient Greek.
'I see frustration, I see deep sorrow, I see remorse, sister,' came the reply in a voice as old as ages past.
'What is his name, sister?'
'Angelus, The Scourge of Europe, sister.'
'What else do you see, sister?'
'I see our next target, sister.'
'Shall we call him, sister?'
'I think we shall, sister.' In the crystal ball, a young man was talking to a brunette lady; they looked worried.
Wesley looked nervously at Cordelia; deep crevices large enough to rival the Grand Canyon carved into his forehead, and gingerly knocked on Angel's chamber door.
'Angel?' Wesley said meekly. When there was no reply Cordelia took a step closer to the door.
'Angel! You in there?' She shouted.
'Cordelia,' Wesley said, 'we know he is in there, as we saw him go in.'
'You don't think he'd open the curtains do you? You know, vampire suicide.' With that Wesley opened the door.
'Angel?' Wesley said. Angel, who was lying on his bed, opened his eyes and glared at Wesley. Wesley quickly backed out of the room and shut the door. Angel closed his eyes and fell deep into a troubled, restless sleep.
Louisa and her male escort arrived outside a massive abandoned, old hotel with a few minutes to spare. Louisa who was still disoriented, and getting used to her new reflexes and senses, misjudged the distance between a loose cobblestone and her foot and tripped up. Just before she hit the floor, two strong arms grabbed her and hefted her up.
'Careful,' he said.
'Thanks,' Louisa replied. 'So what can I call you?'
'My name's Mikhail, but everyone calls me Shock.'
'Ok, Shock, so are you like my brother, if we share the same sire?'
'So I couldn't go out with you then,' she flirted.
'I never said that,' he responded smiling, 'come now, the sun's almost up.'
'But if Angelus is angry with us then what makes you think we'll be invited?'
'I'll invite you in.'
'How can you invite me in if you don't live in the hotel?'
'Angelus told me, a long time ago, that I was invited over with my friends whenever I wanted, also it's a public building, you can go in public buildings.'
'I so need to get a cooler outfit.'
'We'll steal you something tomorrow night,' he said as he opened the door, 'hush, now. Don't give us away, and don't eat Cordelia or Wesley.'
'The humans who share bunk with us,'
'Ok,' she said as they crept through the hallway and the lounge into the corridor, then Shock opened a door and let Louisa through, 'Ladies first,' he whispered.
Wesley had been working all night and all through the morning. Cordelia had bailed to go home for 'beauty-sleep' after the Angel incident, she had also suggested that Angel was either having a bad case of P.M.S., going through the menopause, or had eaten someone who had disagreed with him. Cordelia had laughed at the last one. Suddenly two hands covered his glasses.
'Guess who.' The voice said.
'Cordelia,' Wesley said straight off.
'How'd you guess?' Said Cordelia as she took her hands off Wesley's glasses, which he promptly removed Giles style, and cleaned them with a white handkerchief that he had fished out of his jacket pocket.
'Angel, does not sound like that,' he replied as he put his now clean glasses back on his nose. But Cordelia was not listening; she had crossed over to the kitchen and was making a coffee.
'Want one?' She asked.
'No thank you.'
'Has Sleeping Grumpy woken up yet? Or does he have to be woken up with a kiss?'
'No he hasn't stirred. I'm getting rather worried about him Cordelia, he never normally sleeps this long.'
'Maybe he needs to catch up on sleep.'
'I have an idea! Research it!'
'I have a better idea! Have a vision!'
'Talking about visions,' said Cordelia as she fished out a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to Wesley who looked at it. On the paper was drawn a picture of a falling Angel in a crystal ball with two old hags with snakes for hair. 'I saw this.'
'We have two gorgons?'
'Looks like,' she said as she poured the hot water onto the small pile of ground coffee beans at the bottom of the mug. Then she opened the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk and poured some into the coffee cup, then put the carton back in the fridge, picked up the cup and walked over to sit down next to Wesley. 'Did Shock come in last night?'
'I don't think so, and if he did I didn't hear him.'
'I mean, what's his deal? Why is he good? He doesn't have a soul!'
'I think Angel brought him up differently, take for example the parents of a child treat that child roughly, then that child will grow up to be rough, if the parents bring the child up nicely, then the child will be nice.'
'So were your parents ponsey?'
'I shall choose to ignore that comment Cordelia,' Wesley said as Cordelia took a sip of her coffee.
'Oooh, hotness,' she said as she blew across the brown liquid, sending little ripples across the top, 'anyway, what's the deal with the fallen angel?'
'Did the angel look like our Angel?' Wesley asked looking once again at the drawing.
'Not really, this one was wearing a black leather duster, black leather knee high boots and she was wearing a short, black material skirt, and a red silk shirt - her dress-sense was excellent. She was wearing a cross, therefore not a vampire, and she was riding a white Pegasus.'
'Interesting,' Wesley said as he turned to his books, 'are you sure it was a vision, and it wasn't just a dream?'
'Yes, Wesley. It came on offer with a free pounding headache.'
'Oh. So not our Angel?'
'Not unless Angel is a cross-dresser…no this one was defiantly of the female variety.'
'She sounds less Angel like, more kick-ass biker chick.'
'No, there was a tarot card showing a falling Angel, then there was her falling with this white Pegasus, in the crystal ball.'
'Looks like it is research time.'
Shock and Louisa woke up to the sound of voices.
'Oh God!' Shock moaned.
'What is it?' Louisa asked.
"Queen Cordelia', and 'Wesley the Ponce' are both up.'
'What's so bad?'
'We have to 'act' good.'
'What do you mean?' Louisa frowned.
'I mean, pretend we don't eat humans only animals, and not say or do anything to give us away.'
'I'm counting on the fact, that our Angelus will be too embarrassed to chuck us out, and also we need to be here so that we can pressurise Angelus back into the fold.' He finished as he walked out of the bedroom into the corridor and down the stairs, 'now let me introduce you, and play along.'
'Good morning!' Said Shock, his tone of voice changing from menacing to sickly pleasant too easily.
'Oh, Shock,' said Wesley as he turned around to face the hansom young vampire, 'I'm glad you're here, Cordelia had a rather…oh, hello,' said Wesley when he finally noticed Louisa.
'Let me introduce Louisa,' Shock said, 'she was the last to be sired by our Angelus. I found her last night, she was looking for a crypt when I found her, but she'd left it a bit late, so I had to bring her here or she'd be 'gone with the wind' in more ways than one. Don't worry,' he said as Cordelia frowned, 'she's like me, she wouldn't hurt a fly.' No, he thought, flies aren't worth it, flies don't satisfy the hunger.
'O.K.,' Wesley said slowly, 'will she be the last?'
'Yes,' replied Shock, not likely, he thought, not if I have anything to do with it. 'Where's our Angelus then?'
Angelus was walking down a dark, damp passageway. He was hungry. A rat was raiding the rubbish, but Angelus didn't care for rats, he was after larger prey. His every sense was reeling; he could smell the blood of the dark haired boy he was stalking. He'd already had a taste, but the boy had escaped. Angelus stopped and waited, the boy ran straight into him. Angelus had cut him off. Angelus grabbed the boy and lifted him clean off the floor.
'Let me go!' Shouted the boy in Romanian. Angelus laughed.
'Because you cannot kill me!' Angelus smiled.
'Alright then, I will not kill you.' Angelus' face morphed into that of the vampire, his true face, and he lowered his fangs to the boy's tender neck, and drank.
Angel woke up in a cold sweat. It took him a few minutes to realise that it was just a dream. Not exactly a dream, Angel thought to himself as he lay and stared at the ceiling. Please let last night have been a bad dream, he pleaded, Shock didn't rebel, and I didn't…he stopped; he could not even bring himself to think it. Then his hopes were shattered then evaporated; instead of hearing three voices in the office, he heard four. Damn! What the hell am I going to say? If I make a big deal, Shock will say something. What the hell did I do that for? Angel sighed; he already knew the answer. He longed for human blood and last night he had lost control and the hunger had come over him, clouded his vision and had become too strong to resist. Angel walked over to his wardrobe and pulled out a pair of black leather trousers and a red silk shirt, and had put them on and had walked into the office before he could register and by then it was too late, Cordelia had noticed, no turning back now, he thought.
'Hi Angel! Thank God you woke up…and you're evil! Who did you sleep with?' Angel ignored her and looked directly at Shock, who was standing in-between Wesley and the fledgling Louisa.
'No I'm not,' Angel replied, answering Cordelia's question, but directed the comment at the now smirking Shock.
'Then where are you going?' Cordelia asked.
'Nowhere, Cordelia, it is day.'
'So you just woke up and decided to wear evil clothes?'
'Um…Cordelia,' Wesley interrupted, 'I don't think clothes can be evil.' Angel walked over and ignored Shock and Louisa, and instead went straight to Wesley.
'Anything new?' Angel asked.
'About what?' Wesley replied.
'No, I thought I did but…no. Angel we do have a guest though,' he said indicating Louisa who smiled at Angel.
'Hi!' She said brightly, 'I missed you.' Angel glared at Shock.
'How are you?' Angel asked through gritted teeth.
'Oh, I'm O.K…. now. Shock found me and brought me here.'
'That's nice,' Angel said stiffly.
'Now we're all one big family again.'
'Yes Angelus, one big family,' Shock joined in.
'Welcome to Pleasantville!' Cordelia sighed. 'O.K. so long as they don't chew the furniture, or slobber on my shoes, or make Wesley and I…well mainly me…happy meals, we should get along just fine. Angel?' Cordelia said suddenly, 'I thought that you said Shock was the last one you sired.'
'Nope,' Louisa said, 'I am.'
But not for long, thought Shock, not for long.
She was angry more than she was scared. She no longer cared whether she should live or die so long as the half-bred demon killed no more. If she was to die, so be it, but she would take the tainted devil incarnate with her.
The forest was so dense no light reached the forest floor, there were no flowers, no grass, just dead leaves, fungi, and broken branches that lay like mouldy bones on the damp soil. She clutched the stake tighter in her hand and urged herself forward fuelled by anger and murderous thoughts of revenge. The soil squelched beneath her sandals and then she could not move one of her feet. She panicked slightly and looked down; one of her sandals was trapped in the mud. She tried to jerk her foot free but it was stuck fast, she bent down hating being so venerable and untied the leather shoe to free her foot. She took the other one off and left them there in the tar like mud. She was glad Gardel had not followed her into the dark forest; he was better off without her, safer without her. He could find someone else. The sharp shards of long dead branches covered in a blanket of fungi and nibbled by detritivores, nipped at her now bare feet but she ignored them. A twig snapped behind her, she spun around but, as she had expected, there was no one there. She could feel predatory eyes on her back, boring into her, the hairs on the back of her neck stood to attention and a chill shot down her spine. She shivered and quickened her pace. She had no idea where she was going but she knew she would find the creature she sought after, or he would find her. A rustling up ahead caught her attention, she moved in the direction of the sound, stake raised, its sharp wooden splinters forced deep into her hand. Her heart beat faster, like a drum, her movements in perfect rhythm. She was about to pounce when she heard a whimpering. She lowered the stake slightly and moved forward, every sense was tingling in anticipation, twitching like a doe, alert, ready to flee. She parted the dense foliage making minimal noise and peered through the webbed tangle of branches and leaves. Before her, half under a tree root, lay the broken body of a she wolf, its once mighty and beautiful grey head lay at a strange angle, its throat had been ripped out. Chamaray checked the killer was not there and broke through the barrier. She gently moved the not long dead wolf and there as she had expected her pups lay under their dead mother. There had been four. Chamaray shook her head slightly; the pups could not have been more than three months old. Their throats had also been ripped out, but this time the marks were clearer – two distinct puncture wounds. A vampyr did this, she thought. Suddenly one pup moved, she quickly scooped the young animal up and realised that it had been spared. She gently stroked the weak little one's jet-black blood matted fur and its eyes opened. They gleamed amber; Chamaray once again saw the demon in the barn, staring through her, twin pools of light in the void. She shivered violently and dropped the pup. Tears welled up inside her and cascaded down her dirt-streaked face. She jumped when something furry brushed against her leg, she looked down and saw that the pup had gotten shakily to its tiny ebony paws and was now lying across her torn, muddy, bleeding, bare feet looking up at her with those eyes. A smile floated to the surface like a cork pushed under waves and she bent down and scooped up the tiny creature with her free hand, it did not even struggle.
'Look at thee, all alone. Poor babe. Thou hast lost thine mama as I have lost mine,' she whispered as she cradled the pup in her arms as she moved them both away from the dead bodies of the pup's still family. She knew that the congealing blood would attract other predators; in fact she was counting on it. She hid them both behind a giant oak a few feet away, the pup still in her arms, and waited.
As night spun her dark web across the city of Angels, Shock, Louisa and Angel left the hotel together, mainly for show. There was an air of tension like a heavy blanket across the trio of vampires. A deep scowl was chiselled into Angel's features. Shock smiled. As soon as the door was shut behind them and they were inaudible, Angel whirled around.
'What the hell do you think you are doing?' He growled, Shock looked at his sire and laughed.
'Well I could hardly leave her all alone, and disoriented in a dark alley for the sun to come up.' He replied.
'Wipe that smile off your face, before I wipe it off with the floor.'
'Touchy touchy, Angelus!' Shock mocked.
'My name is Angel,' he growled.
'Don't deny your true nature, you feel it don't you. The hunger gnawing at you. I mean, Man! Pig's blood! And cold at that! That's not living, that's denying what you really are. Take another tonight.'
'Angelus, come back to the fold.' Angel shook his head.
'Fine,' Shock said, I'll just get some help then, he thought.
'Um guys,' said Louisa, 'now is clothes time.'
'Not now, honey,' Shock said.
'But Shocky you promised!'
'O.K. O.K. Come on Angelus,' Angel ignored Shock, he was still wearing leather trousers and he was beginning to feel oddly comfortable, guilt was still clawing at him from the inside, but a deep pang was drowning it out. A thirst, a thirst for fresh, human blood. He knew he was loosing; his personal demon was winning. He knew he had to regain control, but he had already slipped this far, further than he had ever slipped before, except for the whole Angel looses his soul and tries to kill everyone phase. He knew he had to send Shock away, or stake him, but Angel was beginning to enjoy his company again. Shall I let myself go? Just for tonight, and if I don't like it I'll stop. He thought, I wonder how many smokers told themselves that? Angel found a smile creeping across his features as Shock threw a brick through a store window, and helped Louisa through the newly made entrance. So long as I don't let Shock or Louisa kill anyone, we'll be alright, he thought, but he knew that he was not really worried about what Shock or Louisa might do, he was worried about what he might do.
'What do you see tonight, sister?' said a woman- who's hair appeared to have a life of its own -in Greek to the woman dressed in black sitting next to her.
'I see a young man, sister,' came the reply in a voice that sounded like metal scraping against stone.
'Shall we take him, sister?' Asked the one who had spoken first.
'I think we shall, sister.'
Chris and his girlfriend Abbie were having a midnight stroll. They had just come out of the cinema - a romantic comedy – not that they had paid much attention to the film. Chris stopped and looked deep into Abbie's brown eyes and smoothed her loose, long brown hair back behind her ear with his gentle hand.
'I love you,' he whispered, a soft smile lay on his face.
He looks so cute when he smiles, Abbie caught herself thinking. 'I love you too,' she replied. She allowed herself to dive deep into his dark brown eyes and they were locked. He pulled her towards him and they shared a gentle kiss. She rested her head on his shoulder and felt his soft lips caress her neck. Chris suddenly stopped.
'Check out Louisa,' he whispered. Abbie turned around and to her surprise saw her friend Louisa was behind them, dressed in black leather ankle boots, a short, black leather skirt, a white butterfly shirt and a black leather biker jacket. She had her dust blonde hair loose. She was standing between two men, one who looked about twenty something who was wearing black leather trousers, a red silk shirt, and a black leather duster. The other was wearing an open, blood red shirt with a brick red shirt underneath, he was wearing black jeans, and he was also wearing a black leather biker jacket. All three of them looked pale in the streetlight.
'Any more leather on those three and they'd go 'moo',' Chris joked. Abbie giggled as she turned back to Chris. She looked at him, but he looked distant. 'Do you hear something?' He asked her.
'No. Why?' Abbie replied, Louisa and her male companions temporally forgotten.
'No. Chris? What's wrong?'
'Come on,' he said taking her hand, 'I want to find out where it is coming from.' They walked together, Abbie slightly behind Chris. Abbie was straining to hear whatever Chris was talking about. Soon they came to the graveyard entrance.
'Chris, are you sure it's coming from inside there? Or is this just one of your stupid jokes.' Abbie asked him. Chris let go of her hand and continued walking. 'Chris!' She shouted after him as she ran to catch up with him. 'This isn't funny! Chris! Wait up!' He didn't slow down; he kept walking, as if in a trance. Abbie was getting really worried now. 'Chris!' She shouted as he turned and walked around the corner of a crypt, she lost sight of him. She was vaguely aware she was going uphill as she broke into a run, then something grabbed her foot, and she felt herself falling. She fell hard and lay there, winded. She slowly tried to get to her feet, but found that her foot was caught in a creeper. She untangled her foot. 'Chris!' She shouted desperately searching for a reply. Had this been a horror movie a werewolf would have howled right about now. She painfully got to her feet and started limping around the corner; she could not see what was around it as the stone crypt obscured her view. She peered around the corner, and screamed. She ran back down the hill faster than she had ever run in her life.
Seventeen stone statues of men, their faces masked in horror stood gaping. A few minutes ago there had been sixteen. The seventeenth - Chris – stood, his chiselled features contorted in an everlasting agony.
Abbie rounded the corner, her ankle screaming at her to stop, but she could not. Suddenly she did, abruptly. She had run straight into a man. He smiled at her.
'What's wrong, honey?' He asked her. His accent was strange. She was crying too hard to answer him. She looked up, she recognised his face from somewhere, yes, Louisa had been with him. He gazed into her frightened eyes. 'Shhh now,' he said as he noticed a simple cross tattoo that was drawn onto her left shoulder, it had been hidden before, but while she had been running her shirt had slipped. He smiled, alright Angelus, he thought, now to try out a method you invented, only you used to draw them on yourself. 'Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit,' he said, until, of course, you wake up and burst into flames, he finished under his breath. He lowered his head and bit deep into her neck. Abbie did not even have enough energy left to scream.
'Louisa! Angelus!' Shock shouted. 'Where are you?'
'We're over here, Shock,' Came Louisa's familiar voice from down a nearby alley. Shock walked around the corner dragging the still breathing Abbie behind him by the arm. She moaned as her head connected with the concrete floor.
'Angelus! Louisa! Dinner time!' He called.
'No!' Angel shouted as he ran towards Shock, but he could already feel hunger gnawing away at him from the inside. He felt his face change. Shock smiled.
'Angelus. She has a cross tattoo. What do we do to people who are stupid enough to have cross tattoos?' Shock asked, but he already knew the answer. A smile played across Angel's features.
'Louisa doesn't know,' he said before he could register. 'Shock do you want to show her?' Shock picked up the discarded Abbie by the hair. Shock bit deep into his wrist and let the blood trickle down Abbie's throat.
'Show time,' Angel said darkly. Louisa and Shock smiled.
Abbie woke up in searing pain. She was on fire; her shoulder was burning uncontrollably. The flames seemed so bright, she was mesmerised. The fire was spreading now, 'pretty,' she said as the intense pain became unbearable. Soon she was blowing about in the wind. Dust.
The only three witnesses to her pain watched her like jackals, and like hyenas they laughed.
'A girl with a cross tattoo being turned by unseen vampires, then when she woke up - a vampire – she combusted,' Cordelia said, describing her vision to Wesley, 'I mean, who would do such a thing? It's gross!'
'I would have to agree with you there,' said Angel as he walked into the office with Shock and Louisa in tow.
'Ah, Angel…' Started Wesley.
'No, I'm tired, I'll talk to you tomorrow.' Angel interrupted.
'Angel? Is everything alright?' Wesley said, concern creeping across his features.
'Everything is just fine. Perfect. In fact peachy.'
'Did you find the gorgons?'
'No. Why would I want to do that?'
'They are killing people.'
'So…? What do you expect me to do about it? Walk up to one, tap her on the shoulder, and get turned to stone? Anyway, I don't know where they are. Do you?' Angel said as he started towards the stairs.
'Well, uh, no.' Wesley said as he fiddled slightly with his glasses.
'We looked, didn't find, now it is day, so I'm going to bed.'
'What is up with you?' Cordelia asked.
'I'm always grouchy when I'm tired.' Angel said as he strode past Cordelia, up the stairs, and into the lift. 'Good Morning.' He said as the doors slid shut. 'Don't wait up.' Shock and Louisa followed Angel's example and walked past the shocked Wesley and Cordelia and just as they were about to leave the room Shock turned around to face Wesley.
'Wesley?' He said.
'What…um, yes Shock?' Wesley replied.
'He's moody because we've been searching for the gorgons for ages now and he still hasn't found them.'
'He told you?'
'Why didn't he tell us?'
'I don't know, ask him,' said Shock as he turned around to face Louisa and the pair left the room together. As soon as they were out of range Shock whispered to Louisa, 'do you think they bought it?'
'I think so, and if not, well so what, we'll just eat them. I mean, the only reason you are keeping them alive at the moment is because you; A, like Cordelia, and B, need Wesley's knowledge.' Louisa replied.
'That's my girl,' Shock said as he opened their bedroom door. 'Tomorrow, we finish Angelus. It's a pity we can't take his soul away yet mind, but our way appears to be working and it will do until we manage to remove it completely.' Louisa looked at him and grinned.
'Yes Shock, my dear, it really will.'
In the forest of statues a white tomcat hunted for mice. It stopped, crouched and pounced, bent its head down, and when it came back up it had a small field mouse in its jaws. It set the dead creature down on the floor, then picked it up again and started walking back towards its home, and waiting owners. On seeing people the cat sped up and was soon rubbing its back against one of the people's legs, but the problem was that they weren't exactly people, so when the cat looked up, into the bright green eyes of the woman who's legs it was rubbing up against, it made the worst and the last mistake of its life. By the time the sun was finally up the cat was stone.
Cordelia frowned at Wesley as she held up the newspaper she had bought fifteen minutes ago at the paper shop.
'Look one more victim. The boyfriend of a girl called Abbie Something-Oldham, who is also missing.'
'Cordelia, that is two, and anyway, gorgons do not in practice kill women, according to the myth.'
'Maybe the myth is wrong.'
'Cordelia, the gorgons are not our only problem. I am rather more worried about Angel. Shock and Louisa do not appear to be harming anyone, and they certainly have not attacked us. Which leaves me thinking, why are they here?'
'They wanted to find Angel and help him.'
'Exactly. You see, the only problem with that is that it goes against all that vampires are.'
'Shock, Louisa, and Angel are all not exactly normal vampires Wesley. I mean Angel has a soul, and our soulful Angel brought up Shock and Louisa. So you know… ah! Your theory about children growing up to be just like their parents.' Cordelia finished triumphantly.
'Cordelia, that's exactly what I'm worried about. Angel was Angelus.'
Angelus bit deep into his wrist and forced his blood down the boy's throat, and then Angelus dumped his body on the ground and walked away. He walked out of town and into the forest; he knew he was being followed, but that didn't really bother him, he wanted to kill another gypsy, Angelus crouched down behind a bush and parted the branches, what he saw interested him deeply, it was the-gypsy-girl-Darla-had-bought-him's funeral. He chuckled to himself at the pain on their faces. They're doing a ritual; I wonder what it is for? He thought. Suddenly he realised there was someone behind him, he glanced over his shoulder and confirmed his suspicions. The girl's father was standing behind him holding a stake. Angelus stood up, he would take the old man now. From behind him more appeared all holding torches, crosses, or stakes, Angelus was not stupid, he knew when he was outnumbered. He ran through the bushes and into the clearing, in the centre was a bonfire. Suddenly Angelus was in more pain he had ever felt before, in life, or death. He sank to his knees. Suddenly the pain subsided. He looked up into the face of the old man. All of a sudden all the images of the people he had killed, maimed and tortured flashed before his eyes, their screams rang in his ears like church bells. He saw Penn, and the young man he had killed less than an hour before, and then, the most painful memory, Drusilla.
Angel woke up with a start, all the events of the previous night floated up into the front of his mind like a cork pushed under waves. No, no! Angel thought to himself. It was all just a… 'Dream', he finished aloud as his eyes rested on the clothes he had discarded from the night before, black leather. 'I have to stake them, now,' Angel said as he got out of bed, grabbed a stake, and went to the door, 'but not like this,' he said as he noticed he was only partially dressed. He walked back to the wardrobe and then stopped as something went through him. Why am I out of bed, and holding a stake? He thought as he threw the stake at the wall so hard it shattered into tiny little pieces upon impact, and with it his memory of the previous night. Angel smiled. Who to kill, who to kill? He asked himself. He looked at his leather trousers walked over and put them on.
'Who do you see, sister?' Asked the mysterious Greek woman to the woman standing next to her.
'I see the ex-watcher again, sister.' Came the reply in Greek.
'So we are to take him then, sister.'
'Yes, sister,' she said as she looked at the growing collection of statues, then back at her sister, and smiled.
Jason Morgan walked through the park; he closed his eyes and swallowed, willing himself not to cry. In his left hand was a rose he had been planning to give to his fiancée, but she was not his fiancée, not any more. He had gone to her house to pick her up, as they had been planning to go to Saint Lucia for a pre-wedding holiday, and when he opened the door and walked into her living room, he had found her making out with Darien, his best friend, and soon to be best man. He knew he had shouted, but pretty much everything past then was blank. He threw the red rose on the floor and kicked it, its petals flew everywhere, they looked uncannily like blood. He laughed; it was a desperate, bitter, maniacal laugh. What is that sound? He thought, it was soothing and musical, though he could not distinguish the notes. He started walking; he turned the corner and left the park. He walked blindly for what seemed like hours, but when his vision cleared he realised he could not have walked for more than a few minutes, he was in a graveyard. He could still hear the soothing melody, it drifted to him and his feet seamed powerless to do anything but follow it. He was vaguely aware that he was gliding past a large stone monument, and he barely registered the fact that around the corner there were lots of stone statues littered over the dying grass. The last thing he saw was two beautiful women, with snakes for hair. He screamed. They laughed.
'Oh God,' said Cordelia when Angel finally emerged from his room, wearing his black leather trousers and nothing else. 'Angel is becoming senile! He's forgotten his shirt!' Angel looked at her, and then walked to Wesley.
'What, Angel?' Came Wesley's reply.
'Shock, Lou and I will go out in one hour. I think I know where I'll find the gorgons.'
'Oh,' Wesley replied obviously upset about something. Angel frowned.
'I thought you said you checked there,' Wesley said quite disappointed.
'Oh. Then what makes you so certain that you will find them there this time?'
'I have no idea. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am painfully bored,' Angel replied sarcastically.
'Angel, whatever has gotten into you, I don't like it! Get it out! Oh my God!' Cordelia said, 'are you on drugs? Or anti depressants, because you know that didn't work out last time.'
'No.' Angel replied looking oddly at Cordelia as if seeing her for the first time. 'Shock! Lou!' He called. 'It's time to go!' Shock and Louisa walked into the room, Louisa in a black and red leather dress and black ankle boots, and Shock in black leather trousers and a black and red flower print shirt - that gave the appearance that the flowers were bleeding - open over a white t-shirt. 'Shock,' Angel said, 'get my shirt.' Shock walked into Angel's room and got a dark purple shirt and Angel's black leather duster, returned and gave them to him. Angel put on the shirt and buttoned it up, then pulled on the duster. 'Walk with me,' he ordered and Shock and Louisa followed behind him either side in the classic hunting V formation. As Louisa passed Cordelia she turned to face her.
'Don't tell me you don't fancy him,' Louisa said. As she rejoined her boyfriend and sire, then the trio walked out of the door and melted into the night.
Wesley looked at Cordelia, 'Come on,' he said picking up his jacket of his chair, 'I'll walk you to your apartment.'
'O.K.' Cordelia replied. Wesley finished gathering up their things then escorted Cordelia through the door, locked it, and then hid the key under the mat.
'If you're just going to leave the key there, why not just leave the door open?' Cordelia asked. Wesley sighed and they continued walking in silence. After a few minutes Wesley turned to Cordelia.
'I'm going to ring Giles,' he said.
'Why?' Cordelia asked.
'He has the watcher's diaries and I need to find out whether or not something like this has happened before…Cordelia,' he continued after a while, 'I think Angel is loosing it.'
'What do you mean loosing it? He's not sleeping with anyone. Do you mean like the curse has an expiry date, 'stake before the fourteenth of December' or something?'
'No. I don't think so, I think he has come to terms with the deaths he has committed and thinks 'why not a few more'.'
'Wesley, in English. I don't speak babbling watcher.'
'I mean, I think he thinks that he will never be able to atone for the crimes he committed during his time as Angelus. Cordelia, I think he's given up.'
Giles was sitting in his living room with Buffy, Riley, Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara; they were discussing the rumours about gorgons in L.A.
'But Giles said that the gorgons had been summoned by someone and if they aren't stopped they are going to tare through the different dimensions because of the power serge or something,' Buffy said with a frown on her face.
'Well, Angel's probably on to it,' Willow said. Suddenly the phone rang making Anya - who had been whispering something to Xander – jump. Giles got up and went to answer it.
'Who do you think it is?' Asked Anya.
'Do I look psychic?' Replied Xander.
'No, psycho maybe, but not psychic.' Anya said recovering from her slight shock, Buffy smiled at their bickering and looked at Willow.
'Young love,' Buffy said and they both laughed. The laughter stopped however when Giles entered the room. Buffy looked at him, she knew that look too well, 'Giles, what's wrong?' Concern was etched on her pretty face.
'We have a problem,' Giles said.
Wesley put down Cordelia's phone. 'Giles said he'd check, and said to ring if we need any help and he'd come up,' he informed Cordelia.
'O.K. So while we wait for Giles to get back to us we do what exactly? Wait for Angel to go evil and come and kill us?' Cordelia replied.
'No I say we find and kill the gorgons.'
'No. You go and find and kill the gorgons, I'll stay here and catch up on my beauty sleep, plus Giles might ring back.'
'Very well, I'll be off then,' he said picking up his coat that he had temporally set down on the back of Cordelia's sofa. 'By the way, do you have any weapons here?'
'Yes. Did you think I would stay in my apartment with no, and I will repeat for emphasis, no protection when I know what goes bump, well goes for snacks in the night, and have helped stop most of them?'
'You're right. I should have known,' Wesley replied as Cordelia who had gone to get the weapon came back and handed Wesley a cross bow.
'And I found this,' Cordelia said as she handed Wesley a double headed axe, 'Angel must have left it here.'
'Thank you. Bye Cordelia,' Wesley said as he took the weapons off her and walked out of the door.
'Wesley!' Cordelia called after him, 'be careful,' she said as he turned around to face her. He nodded, and then he walked into the shadows of the night.
Angel smiled as he watched Louisa take a young man they had lured out of one of the shabbier nightclubs in L.A. When Louisa had drunk her fill, she let the man's limp form fall to the pavement with a sickening thwack. Shock looked to Angel and said, 'O.K. That's that, she knows how to hunt, what do you want to do now?'
'I'm thinking the movies,' Angel replied.
'Angel-pie, what do you want to go to the movies for?' Louisa asked in a rather bad, put on 1930s southern American accent.
'I wonder, sugar-plum,' Angel replied, copping her accent, and sounding just as cheesy. Then Shock, Louisa, and Angel looked at each other and laughed.
Buffy looked at Giles. 'Giles, what's wrong?' She repeated.
'Angel…Angel is…' Giles started then broke off seemingly unable to think of how to put it, or, Buffy thought, there is something wrong and he doesn't want to tell me what it is. Place your bets; I'll go for the latter.
'Angel is what?' Buffy said trying not to look anxious, the only thing that gave her away was the slight quiver in her voice, her heart hammered against her chest. Riley frowned.
'Wesley fears that Angel may have given up,' Giles replied finally.
'Given up fishing?' Asked Xander, 'because you know maybe it was for the best. Fishing is kind of…'
'Xander!' Willow said interrupting Xander's bad timing, and catching onto the tell tale strain in Giles' voice that was only crept in during matters or extreme importance, or urgency. 'Giles, what wrong?'
'Wesley thinks that Angel is reverting,' Giles explained, a deep frown drawing his brow to knot.
'I hate to say 'I told you so',' started Riley but he was instantly silenced by Buffy's disapproving frown.
'But he has a soul!' Willow argued, denying Giles' information.
'And he still has it Willow, but Wesley believes that Angel thinks that there is no point in trying to redeem his actions as Angelus, as he has nothing to live for…he's given up hope.'
'Oh God!' Xander exclaimed, 'it's happening again isn't it? Angel has gone all fang happy.'
'Wesley has no proof of that, but two of Angel's sired have come into town, and since then Angel has shown a change in demeanour, and is once again wearing 'evil' clothes as Cordelia put it.' Giles said as he walked over and sat down on his couch next to Willow. 'He is becoming less like the Angel we knew,' and loved, Buffy thought as Giles continued, 'Wesley want us to do some research in the Watcher's Diaries to see if anything like this has happened before.' Buffy stood up and started walking towards the door. 'Buffy, where are you going?' Giles asked as the slayer placed her hand on the doorknob.
'To do what I was sent here to do. I'm going to L.A.' She replied.
'Who wants to Shanshu when you can be virtually unkillable, have a reputation that is well known all over the globe, and the demon dimensions, and after all that, stay young and pretty.' Angel said as he and Louisa stalked a young girl Louisa has picked out in the cinema. Shock was currently talking to her, distracting her from her impending death. 'Go, just like I told you,' Angel encouraged. Louisa crouched and pounced, grabbing the girl's orange and black striped hair in her clawed hand. She snapped the girl's neck with a quick upward thrust of her free palm, and then let the girl crumple and drop to the concrete floor. Angel stood up.
'That's my girl,' Angel said as Louisa took a little bow. 'That is how to kill Calendar style.' Shock grinned.
Wesley arrived at the graveyard and gingerly stepped through the slightly open gates, he had not been planning to go to the graveyard, as that is where Angel had said he would be, but it was as if some unseen force had dragged him here by the hand. He tried to turn around but his body would not obey him. Soft music filled him; there was nothing but the music, and everything that he had known had been false. Nothing but the music. He was not even aware that he had rounded a corner, and suddenly he was wide-awake. Where am I? He thought as he tried to find a clue as to how he came to be standing in the middle of a cemetery in the middle of the night. Wesley screamed when a hand touched his shoulder. He span around and raised the axe he had been carrying, but he forgot one vital fact; looking at a gorgon turns you to stone.
Cordelia strode into the hotel; every cross she owned was on her person. 'Wesley?' She called.
'Cordelia?' Came Angel's voice from further inside the old building. Then Angel materialized from the shadowiest corner of the room. He regarded Cordelia and a half smile played across his features. 'Cordelia, what the hell are you doing? Going to church?' Angel joked.
'Um…no.' Cordelia answered stepping backwards towards the door.
'Anyway, Wesley is not here, and I have no idea where the hell he is,' Angel said obviously amused.
'I thought I heard voices,' Shock said as he wandered into the room, 'oh, hi Cordelia,' he said nodding to Cordelia who was now almost back through the door.
'Um…hi,' Cordelia said as she noticed Shock was half naked, he was wearing black shorts, but nothing else except a silver chain around his neck that matched the sliver highlights in his hair. Louisa emerged behind Shock and ran her slender fingers over Shock's upper torso.
'Bad dogs!' She mock scolded, 'you woke me up.'
'Anyone got a sick-bag?' Cordelia said nervously, Wesley had said not to arouse Angel's attention by acting strangely.
'Oh, hey Cordy,' Louisa said stepping out from behind Shock. She was wearing a short black dress, but she had bare feet, Cordelia also noticed that she had painted her toenails to match her fingernails; blood red with white tips. At that point Cordelia freaked.
'O.K. Bye now, I've got to look for Wesley,' she said as she hurried out of the front door, I have no idea where Wesley is, and Angel has gone postal. What would Wesley do? She thought, I never thought I'd ask myself that question! Giles! Ring Giles! She hurried down the steps that led away from the hotel. Thank God its daytime and they can't follow me. She thought as she got out her cell phone and speed dialled Giles' number.
Giles had told his slayer to stay at home, at least until Wesley rang, but he had just got off the phone with Cordelia and from what she had said they needed help up there. Giles dialled Willow's number and waited for the young witch to pick up the other end.
'Uh, Willow,' Giles said, 'round up the gang. Yes everyone, Xander, Anya, Tara… we are needed in L.A. the situation has become dire up there. I think we need back up. Yes Willow, I know, I agree…holidays are a Godsend. When? Well now, Willow. Yes rendezvous in half an hour here. Yes. Bye Willow.' Giles put the phone down. He immediately went in search of books, he had thirty minutes to finish researching The Watcher Diaries, he had found nothing so far, and normally he would prefer more time to go over the books more thoroughly, but Giles feared time was running out.
Joyce Summers, Buffy's Mom, was out of town, so Buffy didn't need to tell her where she was going, and as a bonus her younger sister, Dawn, was thankfully staying at a friend's house. She had left college two days before, and the day after her Mom had told her that she had to go on a course, so an hour after her Mom had left she had gone to Giles' house to meet up with her friends, that was when Giles had told her about the other dimension; which she was currently in.
Buffy grabbed a bag and threw some clothes into it, and then she raided her trunk for weapons. Brass knuckles? Nah. Stakes…God Angel, I hope you're all right. She thought going through her mental checklist. She grabbed a fist full of stakes and dropped them into the bag, then put one in her pocket. Then she added some crosses, and bottles of holy water to the mixture in her black bag. Then she walked out of the room, down the stairs, and left a note on the kitchen table in case her mother in this dimension got back early or something, then she walked out of the front door and into the cold night. Be alright, let Cordelia be wrong, Buffy pleaded, Please!
Anya and Xander arrived together, bags in hand, at Giles' door.
'Xander,' Anya whined, 'why are we even bothering. I mean you don't really help in either the research or fighting areas, and if Angel has gone wiggie then we'll be walking into a big void of death.'
'Anya,' he replied to his ex-revenge demon girlfriend, 'I have nothing better to do, and also there's the whole Giles summoned us with the bat signal thing, therefore we go. Ah Giles,' he said as the heavy front door opened and the watcher let them in, 'we're here, what's up? Willow sounded kind of freaked.'
'And rightly so, as Cordelia rang, and apparently the situation in L.A. just took a turn for the worst.'
'How so?' The dark haired boy questioned.
'Wesley has disappeared, and Angel and his sired are going around together. In a pack.'
'So Wesley has bailed. Angel has finally got himself a social life and is hanging around with his kind-of-kids, and everyone goes psycho,' Xander concluded as Willow and Tara walked in. They set their bags down next to Xander's, Anya's, and Giles'.
'Where's Buffy?' Willow asked.
'Here,' the slayer said as she stepped through the doorway, 'come on, let's go.'
'Where's our macho ex-Initiative guy?' Xander asked. Buffy flinched slightly and answered quickly to get it over with.
'He's refusing to come.' Willow noticeably frowned, then the group turned and left.
Cordelia sat alone in her apartment; she was too scared to go out. One thing in her favour now was the fact that it was the middle of the day now, but even that was not very reassuring if you remembered the time when Angel had managed to get to her apartment with Doyle when she had first moved in, during the day, as she had stupidly told him that when she got a place he was 'totally invited over.'
'Phantom Dennis,' Cordelia said as the television flickered on by itself. Well maybe she was not completely alone. 'Now it is quiet time, I need to think. When did all this start? When Shock came…no…when Louisa came. That's it!' Suddenly there was a knock on the door, Cordelia jumped. 'Who is it?' She said as she stood up, a stake clenched tightly in one hand.
'Cordy!' Came the reply. 'It's the Scooby gang, let us in!'
'Oh,' she said as she recognised Xander's voice. She walked over to the door, unlocked it, and let her old friends in. Giles wasted no time with greetings and got straight down to business, as per usual.
'Tell us what happened from the beginning,' the watcher said as he set his bag down on the floor.
'O.K.' Cordelia said as everyone, including a blondish girl she had never seen before, filed in and sat down. 'It all started when this vampire…'
'…One of Angel's?' The watcher interrupted.
'Yes. She is called Louisa. Angel started acting weird the day she showed up.'
Buffy and Cordelia walked up the hotel driveway together; in her bag the slayer had her usual slaying equipment, crosses, crossbow, bolts, stakes, and holy water.
'Cordelia, what reaction am I likely to get off him?' Buffy asked impatiently as she knocked on the door. A pretty blonde girl opened the door, Buffy grabbed her and pushed her against the wall, a stake poised over the girl's chest.
'Angelus! Shock!' The girl screamed.
'What is it Lou?' A male voice replied; he had a strange accent that the slayer could not place. Shock probably, Buffy thought.
'Help me!' The girl - Lou – whimpered. A tall, dark male with silver streaks in his dark hair strode into the room and looked at Cordelia.
'Hey Cordy!' He greeted her, and then he noticed Buffy and her soon-to-be-staked captive and his demeanour changed. 'What the hell are you and your little friend doing?' He growled.
'They're trying to stake me, moron!' Louisa said, annoyed that her boy was not doing his job and saving her.
'Let her go,' Shock demanded.
'Um…let me think…how about, no.' The slayer said as she pushed the wriggling girl closer to the wall. 'Now I'm only going to ask you this once, and unless you want your girl to fit in a dust pan you'd better answer. Where is Angel?'
'Angelus get here right now!' Shock demanded.
'What now?' Came Angel's familiar voice. He strode into the room, and looked at Shock. Angel was wearing black trousers - not leather – and a white shirt, nothing weird there, Buffy thought, as she looked him over.
'Angel?' Buffy asked. Angel suddenly noticed her and frowned.
'Buffy? What are you doing here in L.A? I thought you were dead. Don't think I'm not glad to see you - I am, but is something wrong? Um…why are you pinning Louisa against the wall?' Angel asked her.
'Dead? Uh…sorry,' Buffy mumbled freeing her captive.
'Shock, I don't like her, she's mean,' Louisa pouted.
'Shhh love, I'm here,' Shock comforted her as he hugged her, and caressed her long silky hair.
'Gees, meet Spike and Dru junior,' Buffy said, 'Angel, what the hell are you playing at?'
'Buffy, what's going on?' Angel asked.
'Cordelia said Wesley is missing,' Buffy said indicating the increasingly more confident Cordelia.
'Then why aren't you out there looking for him?' Cordelia demanded.
'If he goes out, he'll burst into flames, and blow away in a pillar of Angel-dust,' Louisa said once again stating the obvious. Angel frowned.
'Last time I saw Wesley; he was going to check out the graveyard. I have no idea where our Angel was all that night,' Cordelia informed Buffy.
'I was checking out the graveyard,' Angel defended himself. 'What is this? Everyone suddenly think Angel is evil week? Buffy, I cannot help but notice you brought your bag with you, I thought you trusted me.'
'I do,' she said, and put her bag down to prove it as she took a step towards Angel.
'So you're Buffy,' Shock said suddenly, 'Angel here won't stop going on about how great you are.'
'The slayer huh?' Louisa said.
'Just out of interest, you guys are vamps right?' Buffy questioned.
'No, they're happy little elves with fangs.' Cordelia said sarcastically.
'Yes they are,' Angel answered Buffy, ignoring Cordelia.
'Then explain to me why they aren't biting people,' Buffy replied.
Raven had been summoned by the Powers That Be, apparently a vampire with a soul called Angel was 'turning', an ex-watcher called Wesley was missing, and the PTB weren't happy little what-ever-they-weres. Raven saddled up her Pegasus then mounted. Why do I always have to do the 'let's make everything right' crap? She asked herself. Her fiery red hair - which was naturally blondish brown – flying out behind her as her mount flew over the city of L.A., I mean, I didn't even do anything wrong. I get betrayed and hurt then 'chosen' to be a damned slave for eternity! So I was about to die, why do they care? And why are they so intent on this vampire with a soul anyway? If he's going to keep going evil then do something permanent and either let him or dust him. Isn't this the slayer's job? Raven sighed as she searched the streets below her, her job was to find this Louisa vampire and her boy Shock - they were the ones working the psychological crap on the soulful one – track them down, and dust them. But first she had to find the other watcher - Giles – and inform him about what was going on. The only problem was that she couldn't find Giles.
Buffy and Cordelia left the hotel three hours before darkness would damn the city of L.A. and condemn its residents to another night of terror.
'He's evil,' Cordelia said as soon as the door shut. The slayer did not say anything, she was thinking. Angel seemed touchy today but he wasn't dressed evilly, and her wasn't calling her 'Lover' or 'Buff' so there were plus points, but then there was Shock and Louisa, they had seemed harmless - but then again so had Drusilla. They got into Cordelia's car and drove down the busy neon streets, Cordelia carried on about how obvious it was that Angel was evil, but Buffy couldn't bring herself to believe it. Soon they pulled up outside Cordelia's flat, Cordelia opened the door and was surprised to see everyone looking rather upset.
'Wesley is stone,' Giles said.
She gently placed the exhausted sleeping pup on the floor by her feet. She had seen a dark figure of a man ahead in the green gloom of the trees. She clenched the stake harder in her hand and waited in anticipation, no birds sang, the forest was deathly silent. Her heart rate increased creating the only noise, it threatened to burst through her chest, she prayed it would quieten because she could hear nothing else over the din and she feared her target would hear her heart thrumming and mercilessly attack her, silencing it for her with no warning. Nothing. Her ears strained, every sense once again on edge. Nothing. Suddenly a hand grabbed her shoulder, she spun around and almost staked Gardel.
'Gardel!' She breathed, 'what is thou doing here in the forest?' Her Gardel smiled softly at her.
'I could not stand by whilst thou art in danger Chem,' he replied as he hugged her. She did not pull away.
'Oh Gardel,' she cried as he smoothed her hair. Her stake clattered to the soft mud, narrowly avoiding the sleeping pup.
'Shush now my love,' he whispered, as he looked deep into her sapphire eyes with the dark trusting eyes of her dreams. He gently brushed a tear away from her cheek. He lent forward and kissed her gently on the lips. Her heart rate increased again but this time it was not the beat of fear. She gently kissed him back, she moaned softly. She felt safe. She forgot all about her mother's death, forgot she was in the forest. There was nothing but her love. She let him kiss her and she kissed him back again, his kissed moved gradually down to her neck.
Suddenly the pup growled and leapt at Gardel, its vicious needle sharp teeth sunk deep into the flesh of his foot. Chamaray, startled, leapt back. Gardel growled back at the pup who had put himself between Gardel and Chamaray. Gardel laughed at the tiny pathetic animal. Chamaray screamed as Gardel let his true visage show its self, the thing that had once been Gardel's face contorted and its canines elongated into glistening fangs. The feral yellow eyes of her nightmares stared back at her. They saw nothing but a meal. Evil, eyes of the purest evil, soulless.
Angelus wandered the streets, Darla had just booted him out, he could not feed off humans, and the pain was too much to bear. He suddenly saw the face of the young man he had turned a few hours ago. 'Oh no,' he moaned, as he rushed to find the boy.
Angel woke up. The dreams were worrying him less and less. He got up and pulled on his black leather trousers and a black silk shirt, then his black leather duster. Well Buffy was easier than I expected, he thought, now I'm hungry. He laughed as he walked into the 'living' room. 'Shock! Lou! I'm going out. Want to come?' He called. Shock and Louisa came into the room. Louisa was wearing a long white dress and a black leather biker jacket, and Shock was wearing black leather trousers and a red over shirt with a white tank top underneath it, he was also wearing a leather jacket. Shock smiled at his sire.
'So you're finally back now?' Shock queried.
'Still got a soul, but I ignore it, it's like a little inner Buffy, I punch it as hard as I can, then it whimpers and shuts up,' Angel replied, a dark smile lay on his face.
'Angel…' Louisa started.
'Angel is so…poncey,' Angel interrupted, 'I don't like it, it's too…fuzzy,' he said searching for the right words, 'just call me Angelus, baby, and we'll be fine.'
'So, what are we going to do tonight Angelus?'
'Same thing we do every night, Louisa, kill, maim, and torture the innocent,' he laughed evilly, soon Louisa and Shock joined in, and they left the hotel together in a pack formation, headed straight for Cordelia's apartment. 'Hello darkness my old friend,' Angel said darkly, 'I'm sick of games, let the fun begin.'
'What do you see, sister?' The Greek voice asked its sister.
'Trouble, sister,' came the reply. 'The Powers That Be are sending a warrior, sister.' They both gazed into the crystal ball. A young woman dressed in black leather, with fiery red hair was riding a white Pegasus, at her left hip was a ruby and hematite encrusted sword and over her shoulder was a bow and quiver.
Cordelia sat in shock, 'Oh my God,' she whispered to herself. Buffy looked at Cordelia.
'Who ever did this; we are going to stop them, O.K.? Now Cordelia, I need you to think,' Buffy said, 'you know what you said about Louisa and Shock…'
'Oh my God,' Cordelia said again this time loud enough for the slayer to hear, interrupting her. 'Louisa was the last, but she's new!'
'What do you mean 'new'?' Giles asked Cordelia. She looked up at him.
'A few days ago I bumped into her, in the sunlight…I gave her our card.'
'So you're saying this Louisa chick was sired recently?' Xander asked, as Anya elbowed him. 'Aw! What?' He asked her rubbing his bruised rib.
'Don't call other women 'chicks',' Anya said frowning at Xander, he gave her an apologetic look, she softened.
'Defiantly,' Cordelia answered, 'she, I mean, I noticed that her fingernails were painted like Drusilla's used to be.'
'You noticed the way Drusilla painted her nails?' Buffy asked.
'But Angel said he was her sire,' Willow said, looking to Tara for confirmation. Tara nodded.
'Well there's our proof,' Xander said. 'Angel is evil.'
'You are not wrong there,' Louisa said as she walked into the room.
Giles stood up and grabbed the crossbow that has been lying at his side; it was immediately aimed at Louisa's chest.
'Cordy, who are these people?' Louisa said unfazed by the crossbow.
'Friends. But not yours,' Cordelia replied.
'Was it something I said? Can't a person go a few hours without a stake or crossbow aimed at her heart?'
'Well you're not exactly a person, and your heart doesn't beat,' Buffy said taking a step towards the young vampire. 'Now tell me, is Angel evil?'
'What would make you think that?' Louisa replied.
'Not that I'm aware of.'
'Then what the hell did you mean when you came in?'
'That the cute dark haired boy over there is right; Angel is my sire.'
'You can't have him,' Anya said, 'Xander's mine.'
'But Cordelia saw you alive a few days ago,' Buffy continued.
'No way! Maybe in the night but I had never seen her before in my life until the day Shock and Angel took me in.'
'Liar,' Cordelia said.
'Why are you here?' Giles asked Louisa, crossbow still aimed at her chest.
'Because Angel was worried about Cordelia, he said Cordelia had been acting weird for ages.'
'So you're like one of Angel's cronies? You do all the work he can't be bothered to do,' Xander said.
'No,' Louisa laughed, she turned to Giles, 'you can put the crossbow down now,' Giles lowered the crossbow, 'there, that's better.' Buffy frowned.
'Wait!' The slayer demanded, 'How the hell did you get in here? Cordelia, did you invite her in?' Cordelia shook her head.
'Angel is invited here, and Angel told Shock that he and his friends were invited where ever he was,' Louisa explained.
'So what exactly is your relationship with Shock and Angel?' Buffy asked the young vampire.
'Simple, Angel is my sire, Shock is my boy. What is this, 100 questions? Humans!' Louisa sighed.
Angel and Shock stood outside and listened to Louisa's story. Angel laughed at Buffy's obvious frustration with the female vampire.
'Come on,' Angel said nudging Shock away from the door, 'I'm bored now. Let's go get us a little someone to eat. Fancy someone young?' Shock laughed.
'Do you think she'll be o.k. on her own?' Shock asked. 'We did just leave her with the slayer, her watcher, and a room full of her friends, all of whom probably have, and know how to use stakes.' Shock pointed out as they walked onto the street. Suddenly Buffy's voice came from behind them.
'Angel?' Both the vampires spun around to face the slayer.
'Shit,' Shock said under his breath.
'Angel?' Buffy said again as they walked towards her. 'Angel! Have you heard?'
'Hey Buffy! Heard what?' Angel said vaguely aware that it would take her a few minutes to realize that he was wearing leather trousers.
'About Wesley?' She prodded.
'He's a moron?'
'Pardon?' Buffy frowned.
'What about him?' Angel covered.
'He's stone dead, no pun intended.'
'Oh my God!' Angel said, 'where? How? Nope, I can't even act surprised.' Shock sniggered.
'Angel,' Buffy said softly, 'I'm glad you finally gave up the act, we know. We want to help you.'
'No, it's o.k. really, I'm just…fine.' He turned to Shock and they walked off. Buffy felt like crying.
'Well at least now we know,' she whispered to her self as she watched his silhouette fade and merge into the darkness.
The two gorgons stood in the darkness, their faces framed by their writhing snake hair.
'What do you see, sister?'
'A boy, sister.'
'What is he called, sister?'
'We are to take him, sister?'
'What of the warrior, sister?'
'She is getting nearer, sister.'
The girl on the white Pegasus flew as one with the magnificent creature as they sailed over the city of L.A that stretched out beneath them in miniature. She girl urged her snowy steed downwards and they landed outside an apartment building.
'Shall we warn them, sister?'
'I think not, let us watch, sister.' They both looked down back into the crystal ball and smiled,
Louisa slipped out silently while Buffy confirmed Angel was converting and she had been temporarily forgotten about. She ran downstairs, by the time Xander had pointed out Louisa had 'done an Ethan,' Louisa was back at the hotel. She sat there and waited, about half an hour later Angel and Shock walked through the door.
'They know,' Angel and Louisa said at the same time. 'Pack up, we're leaving,' Angel continued.
'Where are we going to go?' Louisa asked her sire.
'We are going to go to this abandoned, old factory Angelus and I found,' Shock said as they climbed the stairs and went to their room to pack their things.
'Do you think the slayer will find us?' Louisa asked anxiously as they grabbed their stuff and walked back downstairs.
'I'm counting on it,' Shock answered.
Raven led her Pegasus to the gate and tied him up, then she uttered a quick spell of invisibility and walked up the stairs that led to Cordelia's apartment. If it had been busy at the time passers by would have wondered why an occasional breeze blew from the fence or why it occasionally snorted. Raven arrived outside the apartment and knocked. A man who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s opened the door; he was wearing a tweed suit and looked quite knowledgeable.
'Hello,' he said, Raven noted that his accent was English.
'Ah, Mr Giles. You must be the watcher,' Raven said.
'Um…how did you know I was a watcher? Do I know you?'
'No sir, I'm sorry, let me introduce myself. My name is Raven, I'm a warrior sent by The Powers that Be to help the slayer to kill the gorgons, and restore the peace.'
'Oh,' Giles said, 'do come in.'
'Thanks,' Raven said as she walked through the door, her leather duster swirling behind her. Buffy immediately stood up.
'The Powers that Be sent you? What's that? How do I know you aren't just saying that and Angel didn't sent you?' She demanded.
'I cannot prove anything to you, but I can try to show you,' Raven said as she put her right hand and extended her ring finger, on it was a ring with an intricate design on it. Buffy stared at it blankly, clearly unimpressed.
'Pretty ring,' the slayer said.
'Don't you know what it means?' Raven asked.
'Mr. Giles,' Raven said, 'please explain to Miss Summers here what my ring means.' Giles looked at the ring then at Buffy.
'She's from The Powers that Be,' the watcher told his slayer.
'More proof,' demanded Buffy.
'Alright then,' Raven said rolling her eyes, 'how would you like to know about Angel as a human? Do you know his real name?'
'Angelus,' Buffy said sarcastically.
'No,' Raven laughed, 'his sister gave him that nickname before she died, well actually he killed her.'
'Nickname?' Willow queried.
'Sister?' Buffy joined in. Raven opened her hand and in the palm an image grew, a long haired young man in old style clothes stood talking to a young girl who was sitting beneath an apple tree, her long brown hair cascaded down her delicate shoulders, she laughed.
'This was the one you call Angel, before he was turned by Darla, the girl is his younger sister Kathy. His name was Liam,' Raven said. Buffy looked deep into the man in the image's eyes, she saw peace. He looked happy. Buffy realised she had never really seen him that way before. He looked hansom. Buffy's views on Angel changed, she realised that she still, and always would love him. Cordelia had explained all about Angel's prophesised Shanshu and Buffy realised at that moment that no matter what, she would help him.
'Liam?' Xander said, 'no wonder he decided to change his name when he became a blood sucker.' Raven closed her hand suddenly and the image disappeared, their laughter still rang in the room.
'What are you?' Buffy asked.
'I am a warrior,' Raven answered, 'sent b…'
'Sent by The Powers that Be to restore the peace,' Xander interrupted, 'pay attention Buffy.'
Angel looked around the factory and smiled, 'home, sweet home,' he said, 'so long as the slayer doesn't burn it to the ground.' Shock smiled at Louisa as they put their bags down. 'We'll stay here for a few days,' Angel said, 'of course, we'll torment them, and I feel like killing Willow, but we'll do it gradually.'
'Like you did with Drusilla?' Shock asked.
'Exactly,' Angel said, 'but this time, we can't fail, I have a soul, and if Willow is on our side she couldn't return it anyway.'
'Angelus?' Louisa queried, 'can I have someone to eat?'
'Shock,' Angel ordered, 'take Louisa and get her something, then bring it back here, don't eat it out there, and don't bring attention to us. Wesley's 'unfortunate' death has provided us with a temporary distraction, but I do not want to have to move again, understand?'
'Yes,' Shock smiled.
'Good,' Angel replied as he moved into the room that would become his, and shut the metal door.
Shock took Louisa's hand and left the factory together, they walked in silence to a busier part of the city and went down one of the alleys that led to a nightclub; 'The Groove' a luminescent sign flickered above their heads, (well actually it read 'The Groov'), they stood waiting, then suddenly a young blonde man who had had way too much to drink tumbled out of the club just as the 'v' went out in the sign. Shock caught him and the man lifted his head.
'Shock?' The blonde man slurred.
'Hello Spike,' Shock replied.
Raven paced Cordelia's front room rhythmically. Her duster swirled whenever she changed direction.
'Angel does that,' Cordelia commented.
'So,' Raven continued, 'one more time, Giles, what do you think is making Angel act evil? The Powers that Be said it has something to do with the Gorgons and Shock, but how could they connect?'
'You know Raven, just call them the PTB, that's what we do,' Cordelia said. Raven nodded.
'I have no idea,' Giles said, 'though I think our first course of action should be to find the Gorgons.'
'I'm going to get some doughnuts,' Xander said standing up, 'anyone want some? Giles, do you want jelly?'
'No thanks Xander,' Buffy said. Xander nodded and looked to each of the others in turn, all shook their heads.
'Strangely I don't feel hungry after knowing one of my friends is a lovely stone statue, and the other is a psychopath,' Cordelia said, 'I don't want to be a stone statue.'
'Don't worry we'll ask the gorgons really nicely if they'll make you into a marble statue,' Xander joked. Cordelia frowned at him, his smile faded. Anya stood up.
'I'm going with Xander, I need fresh air,' Anya said. With that Xander and Anya left the apartment together.
Xander and Anya were walking back to Cordelia's apartment, their arms full of doughnut boxes Xander had insisted on buying anyway.
'Xander,' Anya said, 'why do you bother?'
'Why do I bother with what?' Xander asked whilst digging into a strawberry jelly doughnut, the red goo dribbling out of the corner of his mouth, he turned to Anya, 'I am Count Dracula, and I vant to suck your blood! Mwah ha ha har!' He said in a fake Transylvanian accent imitating the vampire that had turned him into a bug-eating crony for a day. Anya sighed.
'Why do you bother helping restore Angel when you so obviously hate him?' Xander wiped the jelly from his mouth.
'I'm doing this because Giles shone the bat signal in the sky and when he does that I have no choice but to answer.'
'But they don't need you! They didn't even need you to get the doughnuts.' Anya protested she did not notice when Xander's eyes went blank. Xander kept walking, even when Anya stopped. It was as if he was in a trance. 'Fine!' Anya shouted after him, 'you are not useless, they need you!' Xander kept walking. Anya ran to catch up with him. 'Xander! We've passed the turning to Cordelia's!' Xander kept walking. After a few minutes Xander turned a corner. 'Xander! What do you want to go into the graveyard for?' Anya rushed to catch up. Xander seamed to be floating now; he had a dreamy, vacant expression on his face. Xander passed out of sight behind a monument. Anya heard Xander scream, she ran forward, 'Xander!' She shouted his name. She turned the corner and suddenly she ran back down the hill, she didn't stop running until she got to Cordelia's door, she pounded on the door until Raven answered. Anya rushed through the door. 'Xander is dead!' She cried.
'Oh Angelus!' Shock called, 'we have a little surprise for you!' Shock dropped the semi-unconscious Spike on the floor.
'Oh shut up! You're talking to bloody loud,' Spike groaned. Angel walked into the room and looked at Spike.
'Oh great!' Angel said sarcastically. Spike looked up at the sound of his Grand-sire's voice.
'Hello Nancy boy!' Spike slurred.
'Are you drunk?' Angel sneered.
'Yes he is,' Shock replied.
'Can I have him? Please, please, pretty please!' Louisa begged.
'Shhhh love,' Spike said, 'Dru…?'
'No, I'm not Dru! Who's Dru?' Louisa demanded.
'No one you need worry about sugar,' Shock reassured her.
'You can have them both for all I care,' Angel said as he gestured to Shock and Spike.
'Hey!' Spike said as Louisa hauled him up and cuddled him. Angel smiled.
'Well then Spike, what are you doing here in L.A.? Last time I saw you, you tried to torture me into giving you the Gem of Amara, and as I recall, you lost…again.' Angel smiled darkly at the weaker vampire, he loved beating Spike. Spike smiled slightly.
'I really don't know why I'm here,' Spike replied.
'Oh my God,' Buffy whispered.
'Xander!' Willow cried; Tara gently put an arm around her distraught lover's shoulders to try to comfort her. Tara knew that there was nothing she could say, Xander had been Willow's best friend and now he was dead.
'Was it vampires?' Buffy finally questioned.
'No, he's stone,' Anya whimpered. Giles appeared to have lost his voice, even though Xander had been dreadfully annoying at times, Giles had been quite fond of the boy.
'Oh God! First Wesley, now Xander!' Cordelia wailed. Giles looked at each of them in turn and finally spoke up.
'Anya,' Giles said gently, 'did you see where Xander was killed?' Anya's first answer came out like a gurgle. She cleared her throat.
'Yes,' she finally managed.
'Where?' Buffy asked.
'The graveyard,' Anya choked. Queue one of Xander's puns, but of course it never came.
'Then that's where I'm going,' Buffy said grabbing her bag.
'Buffy,' Raven said speaking up, 'you appear to be forgetting exactly what Wesley forgot when he went to kill the gorgons.'
'And what was that?' Demanded Buffy as she grabbed her crossbow off the table and went up to Raven, 'because I have just lost a close friend and I just might be feeling rash and impulsive,' Buffy threatened.
'Just how exactly are you going to fight the gorgons?' Raven said strangely unfazed by the crossbow.
'I was thinking violence,' Buffy said struggling to hold onto her emotions.
'Thought so,' Raven said, her face totally void of emotion.
'What do you mean?' Buffy asked her patience running out. She put her hands on her hips still clutching the crossbow.
'If you go up there with no plan you are just going to end up another statue for the mould to grow on.'
'Buffy,' Giles said quietly, 'she's right.'
'Do you have any friends?' Buffy asked, a memory surfaced; her second meeting with Angel. She had asked him basically the same question.
'Yes,' Raven replied.
'Have you ever lost one?' Pain flickered across Raven's face then it was gone.
'Gardel,' Chamaray whispered in shock. The thing in front of her smiled. 'Thou cannot be a vampyr!'
'Aye,' he replied as he stepped towards her, 'I can, and nay, I did not kill thine mother. My sire did though. Guess who my sire was Chem,' Gardel whispered menacingly as he mover closer.
'Nay!' Chamaray protested as the terrifying realisation dawned on her.
'Aye my little gem. He came while you were in the forest searching for him. Ai its night now. He came and he massacred everyone, all bar me. Thou should have seen what he did to Cassandra. Then Aretamius chopped his head off and dusted our old pa. I killed Aretamius naturally. We're brothers of the night now, thou and I,' he said but before he could finish Chamaray snapped out of her paralysing trance and bent down to reach for the discarded stake. Her heart felt like lead her reactions were slow. Her fingers curled around the rough wood but then Gardel's foot crunched down on the other end of the stake before she could lift it. She tried in vane to pick it up any way. 'Nay now pet. Do not be a bad sister now.' Suddenly the wolf pup jumped up and bit Gardel hard on the leg drawing blood from the tare in the skin, blood that was not rightly his. Gardel growled and lessened the weight on his injured leg, Chamaray yanked the stake free and stood up, the pup cowering behind her. 'I am so sorry that I missed thee,' Gardel snapped at the pup as his leg started to heal before Chamaray's eyes.
'I'm sorry,' Chamaray said as a tear rolled down her cheek.
'Good, now close thy eyes, I'm going to give thee the dark gift,' he said softly, his fangs glistened with spittle.
'Nay,' she said, 'I'm sorry for this,' she said as she plunged the stake deep into his chest through his cream shirt and into his un-beating hart. He crumbled to dust and sprinkled over Chamaray as she felt her soul die and she sunk to the floor in a pool of tears.
'Yes.' That hadn't been the answer Buffy had expected.
'Then you know how I feel right now, ' she said as she headed to the door. Raven put her hand on Buffy's arm.
'Buffy,' Raven said gently, 'look around you. You still have Willow, Tara, Cordelia, Anya, and Giles. If you go out there tonight, they'll loose you, and you wouldn't be much help or protection to them as a statue in a graveyard. There is nothing you can do for Xander. Xander is dead. All you can do is revenge Xander and Wesley's deaths and we will in time, but now, they need you Buffy. Don't desert them.' Buffy thought about what Raven had just said and walked over to the sofa, put her crossbow down and sat down next to the weeping Willow.
'I know,' Buffy said finally, 'I just hate feeling so helpless. Raven?'
'How old are you?' Raven smiled slightly, how much do I tell her? Raven asked herself.
'Seventeen,' Raven replied.
'You are very wise for a seventeen year old.'
'I have been trained since I was fifteen as a warrior by the PTB. My mother was a magick user, a druid in a way…' she stopped suddenly, she had been about to tell them her father had been a knight but that would have given her away, and she couldn't afford that. Not yet.
'…I could sense it,' Tara said suddenly, 'your magick is very strong, but it is tamed. I've never seen or felt anything like it before. It…it's sensual.'
'You are quite powerful yourself, and I will need both your and Willow's help. I fear we may need to bring a spirit back before we can convince Angel not to give up,' Raven said thankful for the interruption.
'A spirit?' Willow asked, drying her tears a little.
Angel smiled as Spike came around; he had slipped into a deep sleep because of the alcohol. Angel knew he would now have a massive headache.
'Well, well, well,' Angel sneered, 'look what the cat dragged in. Lou! Bleached boy is awake!' Angel said as he called his fledgling. 'You're very lucky Spike. If I had had my way you would be dust right about now. But Lou, she's taken a shining to you.' Louisa walked in and lifted the now almost awake Spike and stood him up, he immediately fell back down again. Angel laughed.
'Someone turn off the lights, ' Spike groaned.
'Pitiful,' Shock said in disgust as he walked in and took his place next to his sire.
'So why did 'The Big Bad' get himself all nice and pissed last night then?' Angel teased looking down on Spike.
'Shut up, do you have to talk so bloody loud?' Spike groaned. Angel laughed. Louisa picked Spike up again and propped him against the wall.
'I was depressed ok!' Spike shouted, then held his head, immediately regretting it as his words echoed inside his scull threatening to shake it to pieces. 'Aw!' He groaned. 'So are you still the all tortured, 'I have a soul', brooding, Nancy boy then?'
'No Spike,' Angel said his smile darkening, 'I'm really not.'
Kerrin Walker was walking home from his friend's house. He and his best friend Tosca Wessels had been working on their 'coursework', where as in reality they had been giving their trigger fingers a work out by playing – 'The Un-dead' - on his games console. Kerrin was a master at killing all the zombies and monsters the game threw at him, he had even defeated 'El Diablo' the end boss. That's why Kerrin was known throughout school as 'The Master of The Un-dead'. He whistled the game's theme tune as he turned down Green acre lane – which was actually no greener that Tokyo city centre – or so Chris his older brother had told him, but Chris was now missing, presumed dead by almost everyone, but not Kerrin. Kerrin knew his brother was alright, he was Chris – nothing could happen to him. Abbie, Chris' girlfriend, was missing as well. Kerrin liked Abbie, she always gave him sweets. Kerrin turned the corner and knocked on the door of a pretty little white two-story house. The door opened after a couple of minutes and Kerrin's Grandmother let him in.
'Angelus?' Louisa called, 'Spikey's hungry so we're going hunting. Want to come? You could sire yourself a girl seeing as you obviously aren't interested in me.' Angel walked into the room half expecting to find Spike crammed in a pram, wearing a bonnet and sucking a bottle full of blood. Louisa was actually sitting on the floor pouting. Shock was leaning against the wall - watching Spike try to stand up in vane as Louisa had him pinned to the floor -obviously bored to metaphorical death.
'Alright,' Angel said, 'come on then.' Shock moved to stand next to his sire.
'Are we going to increase our little family?' Louisa asked Angel as she let Spike go. 'We could do with a few cronies, and you, Angelus, need a girl.'
'Lou,' Angel said rolling his dark eyes, 'go out with Spike and Shock, but meet me back here in thirty minutes. I'm just going to single someone out first.'
'Who?' Shock asked, curious.
'A little treasured friend of the slayer,' Angel replied smiling.
'Xander?' Spike asked.
'No, Xander is stone,' Shock said matter-of-factly.
'How did you know that?' Angel asked, suspicious.
'I have my sources,' Shock covered calmly.
'Oh good. Then she's already distraught,' Angel said smiling.
'You still have it in for that girl don't you?' Spike said standing up.
'Yes Spike, my boy, I do.'
Kerrin left his grandmother's house and started the walk home fifteen minutes after getting there as his mother had rung wondering where he was. Ever since Chris' disappearance his mother had been nervous, wanting to know where he was constantly. It was quite dark now, but the street lamps were flickering on; smothering the darkness with orange blankets of light. He had been walking for five minutes when he saw three figures walking towards him. They were all dressed in black leather and red silk, and they were in a 'V' formation. A dark haired man led the pack, his silver highlighted fringe glinting in the lamp light. On his left was another man, this one had bleached blonde hair and was smoking a cigarette. To the dark haired man's right walked a blonde girl, she looked quite nice, and because she looked nice Kerrin was not worried. Kerrin kept walking and walked past the trio. Suddenly a woman's voice behind him made him spin around to face her.
'Do you have the time?' Kerrin rolled up the sleeve of his blue Nike sweater and pushed the button that made his watch light up.
'Ten thirty,' Kerrin said. The woman smiled and took ten and a half steps towards Kerrin.
'How old are you?' She asked.
'I'm ten,' he replied proudly. The woman took ten more steps towards him, her red dress floating elegantly around her. She was one step away from him now. He backed away slightly.
'What's your name?' She asked smiling.
'Kerrin,' he replied reassured by her smile.
'What are your hobbies Kerrin?'
'What one's your favourite?'
'The Un-dead. I'm the best player at school. I'm the champion,' he boasted warming to the subject, all his worries sprouted wings and flew away into the night. He was talking about his favourite thing in the world.
'What's your favourite type of monster?'
'Vampires definitely,' he said without hesitation. The woman smiled.
'Would you like to meet a real vampire?'
'Yeah man! That'd be way cool!' Suddenly her face contorted showing glistening fangs. Kerrin jumped and screamed. He turned around and bumped straight into the blonde man. Somehow they had gotten behind him while he had been distracted. He was surrounded. The woman clamped her hand over his mouth as she blonde man grabbed him and held his arms behind his back. He struggled and kicked out but then he saw the dark haired man step out of the shadows, he licked his fangs slowly. Then all three grabbed him, and two lowered their fangs to his neck, one either side, both drank. The woman bit into his wrist and let the blood pour into her hands then fed the blond guy. Then they let his still body slump to the pavement, and all three carried on down the road back the way they had come. Just like nothing had happened. Just like they hadn't defeated 'The Master of The Un-dead'.
Angel was taking a big risk seeking out Buffy and the Scooby Gang – or what was left of it – out. He knocked Cordelia's door and waited. He was still puzzled why the gate had snorted at him. The door opened and a haggard looking Giles stood in the doorway. Giles immediately held up a cross. Buffy appeared at Giles's shoulder with a crossbow.
'Is this the kind of treatment you give your guests?' Angel asked casually, as if nothing had happened.
'Ones we don't like anyway,' came Anya's voice from inside.
'What do you want Angel?' The slayer asked. Angel could see she had been crying.
'I want your help,' he said quietly.
'Why?' Buffy asked, her voice full of hurt. She desperately wanted this to not be a trick.
'I need help. There's something…wrong with me.'
'You think!' Cordelia said as she appeared behind Buffy. 'You might as well invite him in. There are seven of us, and Willow and Tara can always de-invite him afterwards. If he does anything, Raven can always stake him.'
'Hey! I'm the damned slayer!' Buffy protested.
'Who's Raven?' Angel asked as Giles invited him in.
'I am,' Raven said as she walked forward, her long coat swirling behind her. She looked stunning. 'Hi Liam,' she said. Angel looked at her questioningly. 'I'm a warrior sent by the PTB to help you,' she said smiling slightly.
'So she wasn't lying. You really were called Liam,' Buffy said obviously hurt.
'My mortal name was Liam,' he clarified.
'Liam,' Raven stared but Angel interrupted.
'No,' Angel said stopping her, 'it's Angel now.'
'Alright…Angel…what do you think is wrong?' Angel swallowed hard then looked at Raven, then Buffy.
'I really don't know,' he started, Willow and Tara were cuddling on Cordelia's sofa, and Giles had pulled up a stool next to Anya near the door, Giles was now clutching Buffy's crossbow. Cordelia was standing next to Raven and Buffy who both had their hands on their hips in commanding positions. Shock had been right – Xander was missing. He was aware that they were all staring at him, but he carried on regardless. 'I woke up this evening and I didn't know where I was, Shock and this girl I don't know were both there. I've been having these dreams…'
'Dreams?' Giles interrupted.
'About my past,' Angel clarified.
'Any specific part?'
'They were all about Shock. Then I woke up and he was there with this girl.'
'Was she blonde?' Cordelia asked.
'Yes…do you know her?'
'She was the last vampire you sired. Sheesh! Don't you remember all of them?' Cordelia asked sarcastically not really expecting an answer. She just really hated him at the moment.
'I didn't sire her. Shock was the last,' Angel said distressed.
'Giles,' Raven said suddenly, 'I suggest you read up on this Shock, something doesn't figure.'
'Raven,' Willow said, 'do you think Angel may be reverting?'
'Reverting?' Angel asked.
'Going all Angelus,' she clarified. Angel frowned.
'I don't think that's possible,' Angel said. Suddenly he collapsed.
'Angel?' Willow said. Buffy bent down and shook him lightly. Willow walked over and knelt down next to Buffy. 'It's not like he has a pulse to check,' Willow said. Suddenly with lightning speed Angel stood up, grabbed Willow and used her as a human shield. He smiled.
'Willow!' Tara said as she rushed to try and help her girlfriend.
'Back off or Willow dies now,' Angel said putting his hand over Willow's mouth. Tara started an incantation.
'Angel?' Buffy squeaked.
'Back off,' he snapped. Tara stopped immediately. Giles was pointing the crossbow directly at Willow; Angel had his back to the door now. He opened the door and darted out, taking the helpless Willow with him.
'Willow!' Buffy shouted, but by the time Buffy ran into the corridor Angel was gone.
Spike, Shock and Lou arrived at the factory five minutes before they were due.
'Angelus?' Louisa called.
'Face it love, he's not here,' Shock said. Spike stayed silent. Watching.
'Spike?' Louisa said.
'What?' Spike said impatiently. Suddenly Angel strolled in, dragging Willow behind him.
'Look what Daddy brought home!' Louisa said beaming from ear to ear. Angel smiled.
'Great, the little witch! All she can do is float a bloody pencil,' Spike said.
'Spike!' Willow said doing a double take, 'what are you doing here?'
'It's a free bloody country isn't it?' Spike replied.
'Angelus, why have you brought her here? Is she food?' Louisa asked.
'Willow,' Angels said, his deep voice soothing, 'do you remember when your evil vampire twin crossed over to this dimension?'
'Oh no! No!' Willow cried as she struggled against Angel's vice like grip.
'Now now, we'll have none of that,' Angel said soothingly.
'Angelus, what are we going to do?' Shock asked. Angel smiled and lowered his head, fangs sinking deep into Willow's flesh. She screamed.
'Raven!' Buffy shouted, 'we have to rescue her!' Buffy walked over to Giles and grabbed the crossbow off him.
'Agreed,' Raven said solemnly as she caught up with Buffy.
'What? You aren't going to tell me there is a flaw in my plan?' Buffy asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm as she brushed a strand of her golden hair back behind her ear.
'There is one flaw, and that is you don't have a plan to have a flaw in, but I agree that Willow is in danger, also vampires you can deal with,' Buffy smiled slightly but then she was back to business.
'Giles we need your car,' she was desperate.
'Don't bother, I have a Pegasus,' Raven said with a small smile.
'You're the angel out of my vision!' Cordelia said suddenly.
'You get visions?' Asked Anya, finally contributing to the conversation.
'When Doyle died he gave me his gift and now I get these lovely headaches that come with pictures,' Cordelia explained to Anya as Giles continued talking to Raven and Buffy.
'A Pegasus?' Giles asked, 'as in a flying horse?'
'Yes,' Raven said smiling at Giles' boyish excitement with something he had only heard of, but never seen before.
'Guys, Willow!' Tara said to motivate them. Cordelia stood up.
'I'm coming with you,' Cordelia said firmly.
'Giles, guys, we need you here, researching,' Raven said taking command as she had been trained, 'come on Buffy,' the left the apartment together and were soon outside. Buffy shivered as Raven led her through the chill of the night to the front gate.
'Wow. I have to say, I'm impressed. It's a gate,' Buffy said. Raven sighed and uttered an incantation under her breath. Suddenly her white steed materialised. Raven untied him and jumped on his bare back the spell had magiced the saddle away, two on the same saddle is not fun. Raven smiled.
'Jump on,' Raven said. Buffy hesitated then attempted to mount, Raven smiled and helped her up, then Raven urged on with her legs and the Pegasus trotted out of the courtyard, then Raven nudged him with her heels and he broke into canter, Buffy almost fell but she wrapped her arms around Raven's waist just in time. Her hair was streaming out behind her and her nose and ears were quickly numb with cold. Suddenly Raven kicked again and her mighty steed unfurled his massive white wings and flapped them. Buffy squeezed her eyes shut as she felt the ground drop from beneath her. She was flying.
Willow woke up to a strange smell, it was sort of a musky-sour smell like that you find in an 'old, abandoned factory,' Willow finished out loud as she took in her surroundings. She was lying on cold flagstones, she was uncomfortable, and her neck ached. She was also very hungry. She heard soft footfalls as the owner of the feet came nearer; the noise of the footsteps rang loudly in her sensitive ears – like sounds do when you have a hangover. Willow knew that the room she was in was pitch black, yet for some strange reason she could see quite well. Suddenly the heavy, metal door screeched open. Willow knew she should have been scared but she really wasn't. A dim glow filtered into the room carved into it was a familiar dark figure. He walked into the room.
'Hello Willow,' a voice that matched the figure's silhouette said.
'Angel?' Willow queried as she got shakily to her feet. Angel stepped further into the room. For some strange, inexplicable reason Willow felt oddly attached to Angel, 'where am I?'
'You're in our home now Willow,' he replied softly.
'Welcome to the family,' Louisa said as she entered the room. Shock and Spike walked in behind her dragging the limp form of a girl behind them. The girl's deep breathing sounded like waves breaking and crashing to the child's steady heartbeat drum in Willow's mind. 'She will be your first kill Willow,' Louisa said as Shock dropped the girl into Willow's arms, 'it's so cool. We're sisters! We are going to be best friends.' Willow looked at the girl and felt the hunger screaming at her, clawing itself to the surface of her consciousness, and out of her body. She felt her face change. Had she a pulse it would have quickened. She lowered her fangs to the young girls' tender neck and drank.
Buffy was relieved to have her feet back on the ground again. As soon as the Pegasus had touched the ground she had jumped off. They had landed outside the hotel, Raven dismounted; whispered something to her steed, and then she made her way over to Buffy. Together they walked to the door, subconsciously counted to three and crashed through the door. There was no one there.
'They've gone!' Buffy cried.
'State the obvious,' Raven muttered under her breath as she checked behind the counter. 'Come on, we'll fly around for a while and see if we can spot them airily.'
'And during that time Willow could be killed,' Buffy said exasperatedly.
'Well what do you want to do? Stand here and wait for them to come here – which they won't – or try to find them?'
'Let's go,' Buffy said as she walked towards the battered door. Raven joined her outside. She jumped on her white stallion steed and reached down to help Buffy up. Then she urged on her Pegasus, soon they were flying above the city. Normal people going on with their normal lives, and here I am, riding a flying horse, saving my best friend from my vampire ex-boyfriend, Buffy thought as she watched the ant sized people of Los Angeles busying them selves with their, well…business. She looked up at the star spangled sky. Willow, be all right! She pleaded with whatever was out there that would listen. She looked back down at the city rushing below her; as she flew over an old abandoned factory building every muscle the slayer had, every sense, every part of her being knew that was where the vampires were keeping Willow. The air seamed somehow denser over the factory, it also seamed darker there. Evil, the slayer thought, she was just about to nudge Raven to get her to take the winged horse down when Raven did so anyway. Buffy frowned.
'I felt it,' Raven explained as if reading the vampire slayer's mind. Raven brought the Pegasus down and jumped off once they had landed. 'Stay on a second,' Raven ordered Buffy as the warrior chanted an incantation under her breath. Suddenly Buffy felt the horse shift beneath her, then its wings folded in bird-like, but they didn't stop there; they curled into little buds and then disappeared inside the stallion's body. Then the horse snorted and suddenly its forehead erupted and a crystal horn emerged. The unicorn snorted softly. Buffy was stunned she had seen some weird stuff; giant snakes, praying mantis lady, Willow's ex-boyfriend Oz had been a werewolf, to name but a few, but she had never seen a horse do that before. Raven mounted again then turned to look at Buffy. 'The door's locked and we'd never be able to bust through it. Ready?'
'Ready,' Buffy confirmed, remembering the reason why they were there and snapping out of her daze. Willow. With a nudge from Raven's heels the unicorn charged towards the solid steel door. 'I guess that means go,' Buffy said under her breath as she saw the door coming towards her at a phenomenal speed. She closed her eyes. Hang on Willow!
Sy ran his hands through his blonde hair nervously; he glanced once again at his watch, fifteen minutes, he thought, fifteen whole minutes until the bus comes. Why did I have to miss the last one? Why did I stay at Marcus' party? I promised Mom I'd be home before ten, now it is officially fifteen to twelve! She is totally going to blow. Sy glanced at his black-strapped watch again, fourteen, he counted. Sy wasn't scared of many things but his Mother's temper was one of the few things he was scared of, one of her glares could freeze a maddened, charging rhino in its tracks. He rubbed his arms to try to warm them – pointless – but at least it would occupy his mind. Suddenly he heard the slightest hint of a tune in the wind as it tore at the dingy bus shelter; it was like at language long forgotten. He strained against the banshee winds to hear it but it was lost, whipped away in the current. Then suddenly the wind stopped and he could hear the music clearly. He felt as if he was floating in a beautiful dream. His body relaxed as his mind blanked.
The unicorn and its riders crashed through the door, well more accurately the unicorn's horn glowed brightly and they went through the solid door. Raven flipped off her steed and landed with her bow and an arrow at the ready. She glanced around the factory, there was nothing. While Buffy dismounted Raven checked the rooms.
'They were here alright,' Raven said as she remounted, the bow and the arrow had disappeared from her hands.
'Damn,' Buffy said as she tried to remount the eighteen hand high unicorn. Raven reached down once again to lend her a hand. The mighty beast snorted and stamped one large silver hoof that was easily twice the size of Buffy's hand, and thrust its crystal horn up and outwards at an imaginary foe, or was it frustration? 'How did you know they were here?' The now seated slayer asked her companion.
'Bodies,' Raven replied, 'need I go any further?'
'Please don't,' Buffy said hastily, disgust contorting her pretty features. 'Was Willow…?'
'No,' Raven interrupted bluntly as she turned the unicorn around and directed him to charge back through the door. His horn seemed to pulsate a strange white light as they approached the door but Buffy didn't see what happened when they travelled through the door as she had her eyes firmly closed. 'They have either sired her, or are using her as bait,' Raven calmly deducted as soon as they were outside.
'Hurry,' the distraught slayer said as she opened her eyes and the unicorn metamorphed back into a Pegasus and prepared to take off. Buffy was getting used to it now. She felt the stallion's muscles ripple, then she felt the ground drop from beneath her. 'What's her name?' Buffy asked, desperately trying to take her mind of the fact that Willow was missing and might be the unthinkable – dead – or worse – a vampire.
'His name is Spirit Gale,' Raven replied as she scanned the city below. Suddenly she pointed down at a cemetery. 'Look down there.' Buffy looked in the direction of the finger and gasped. Stretched out across the dying grass of the oldest graveyard was a melee of statues, all except a few were men. Buffy turned away, she could not even look at them anymore, one of them is Wesley and one is Xander, she thought biting down hysterics.
'The gorgons,' Raven said softly even though they were out of the audible range of the killer on the Pegasus. 'Now we know exactly where they are anyway. We cannot risk going down there for obvious reasons, so we'll fly around and look for signs of where they would have taken Willow. They can't have gotten far.'
'Alright,' Buffy said as she scanned her left-hand side in vain. Come on Willow, she thought hopelessly as the city rolled beneath her. What are the odds of finding one person in a city housing millions of people? Buffy asked herself, but she already knew the answer. Not much of a chance – she didn't like those odds.
Angel walked down the centre of the road, his duster flying behind him. To his left was Shock, and to his right Louisa, behind Louisa was Willow and behind Shock was Spike. Hey walked in their 'V' formation as always, but now they were in rank order. They were all laughing, all except Spike who was annoyed that younger vampires seemed to out rank him, especially a fledgling like Louisa.
'Did you see the look on the slayer's face?' Louisa giggled.
'Priceless,' Shock agreed and pretended to take out a camera and catch the event on film.
'So when are we going to kill her then?' Spike asked suddenly.
'All in good time my boy, all in good time,' Angel said smiling that dark smile that sent shivers down Louisa's spine.
'Angelus, it's not nice to keep secretes. Share,' Louisa mock scolded her sire.
'I don't think Nancy boy has a plan,' Spike said, baiting Angel.
'Oh he does,' Louisa replied.
'He always does,' Shock said darkly, joining in. Willow stopped, she was still wearing her fuzzy orange sweater and a short green skirt, she looked down at herself disgustedly. Louisa noticed and quickened her pace to walk along side her sire.
'Angelus?' Louisa asked flirtatiously, 'can we make a quick stop to get Willow some new clothes?'
'Not yet Lou,' Angel replied, 'we need her as bait for the slayer.'
'Can I kill Giles?' Willow asked suddenly as she caught up.
'Why?' Angel answered by asking the redhead another question.
'He annoys me,' Willow said in a singsong voice, not unlike the tones Angel's sire Darla and her sire The Master had used when they had been at their most deadly.
'Oh come on!' Spike shouted, 'I want to kill the watcher! He tied me up in the bleeding bath tub and fed me pig's blood from a bloody novelty mug for Christ's sake!'
'I don't actually care who gets the watcher,' Angel said slowly, smiling at Spike's outburst, 'all I care about is the slayer.'
Sy suddenly came around, he was being held by a young woman. She had her blonde hair loose over her shoulders and it was being whipped around her beautiful face by the wind. There was another one with her, a redhead - she was stunning. He preferred girls with darker hair to blondes any day. He looked around disoriented.
'Where am I?' He asked as his head started to clear. The blonde smiled.
'He's out of the trance,' she told her cute companion. He had almost expected her to say 'Welcome to heaven,' and gates to open up in front of him.
'Hey honey,' the one he fancied, dubbed 'Red', said to him as she walked over in response to 'Summer's' comment. Red smiled and looked at Summer. 'We thought you were never going to wake up out of that trance.'
'Trance?' He asked Red a puzzled expression on his face. Summer glanced at Red as if to say 'how much do we tell him?'
'You appeared to be sleep walking,' Red filled in, 'we found you about to walk into a graveyard, you seemed totally spaced-out.' Red smiled kindly at him, her blue eyes gleamed like sapphires.
'O.K.' he said gradually buying the story that Red and Summer were selling him. So I guess a thanks would be in order, he thought. 'Thank you.'
'Anytime precious,' Red said and winked at him. 'Do you want us to walk you home?' Summer appeared agitated, almost anxious to be somewhere other than on the street at that moment – that would be fine with Sy, then he could have Red all to himself.
'It's alright, it's really not far from…where are we again?' He asked, slightly embarrassed. Red laughed.
'Come on,' she said taking his arm, 'where do you live?'
'17 Pantmawfa Terraces,' he replied uncertainly. He still felt drowsy.
'Alright,' Summer said as she took his other arm to prevent him from falling. All three walked together down the dingy street, away from the graveyard. He glanced behind him; he swore he had heard hooves behind him.
'Can we eat now?' Louisa winged.
'Not yet,' Angel said frowning slightly at the young vampire's impatience.
'Ok,' Louisa said as she backed off and shut up.
'Are you just going to do everything he says?' Spike stirred.
'Oh shut up!' Shock said as he grabbed a branch, 'or I'll stake you myself,' the Romanian vampire glared at his inferior elder.
'Please do,' Angel said. Spike growled and went vamp.
'Please try,' Spike challenged.
'Spike,' Louisa said gently being the peacemaker, 'calm down.' Spike's face changed back to human with her gentle touch.
'Sorry love,' he said as he took her outstretched hand. Shock frowned. Louisa threw him an apologetic look. He softened.
'So where are we going?' Willow asked.
'To find a new hideout,' Shock answered in his calm deep voice.
'Like a crypt?'
'Nah. I like more space,' Angel said leaning against a wall, 'maybe we could kill a few people and steal their house.'
'Oh! I have an idea!' Louisa said excitedly, 'my house!'
'Wow. You had a house,' Spike said sarcastically, and then immediately regretted it when Louisa dug her sharp nails into his hand. 'Bloody hell!' He shouted. Shock looked at Angel and both smiled.
'Anyway,' Louisa covered, 'I used to rent it to the homeless, useless, whatever. We could go there, and have an all you can eat massacre feast.'
'Good idea,' Shock said, still smiling at Spike's discomfort. Angel nodded.
'Follow me then,' Louisa said, retracting her nails and letting go of Spike's hand. She then joined Angel as they subconsciously drifted back into pack formation. Shock smiled as he watched the trickle of blood run down Spike's hand and drip onto the floor. Spike thrust his shredded hand into his mouth. Shock laughed.
'You take him home and I'll fly around some more and look for Willow,' Raven whispered softly to Buffy as they walked with the blonde guy, Sy, they had rescued from the gorgons' trance. Buffy was not really happy with the arrangement, but she knew if Raven stayed with the guy and she went to look for Willow she would either end up; having to ride Spirit Gale, or having to search by foot, and both methods would be slow.
'Alright,' Buffy said sighing, 'but how do I get back to Cordelia's?'
'Call my name three times and I'll come and pick you up,' Raven said seriously.
'Like in the Wizard of Oz?'
'No, you don't need ruby slippers,' Raven said smiling.
'I do agree that there's no place like home though,' Buffy said laughing.
'Hey, Sy. I need to go now; I might see you later, OK? Buffy will walk you the rest of the way home,' Raven told the young man, he looked at her, an emotion showed on his face, what was it? Disappointment? Regret? Fear?
'Thank you,' he said as physical form of the emotion vanished. Raven turned and left him with Buffy. She was the slayer. The only one with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, gorgons, and everything else the Hellmouth threw at her, but she wasn't in Sunnydale anymore, but that did not mean the danger was any less. Raven walked back around the corner, leaves rustled in the trees over head, Raven sighed. She mounted the invisible Pegasus; she had had Spirit Gale so long now that she had a psychic link with him, literally. The invisible creature whickered happily to have Raven back on his back. Anyone who can see me will be seeing a girl sitting in mid air, Raven thought to herself, the truth is far stranger. She laughed as she and her loyal steed became one as they flew together wrapped up in the black starry blanket of the night.
Angel, Shock, Louisa, and Willow followed by Spike strolled casually into Louisa's house. Then Louisa turned and locked the door behind her.
'Take who you want,' Angel commanded. Willow and Shock moved together and grabbed the girl nearest to Louisa. The girl called out Louisa's name and asked what was happening. Louisa ignored her. 'Eat, then turn some,' Angel said as unemotionally as you might say the something about broccoli, 'we need a small army.'
'Why?' Louisa asked Angel.
'So that if the slayer comes a-knocking with her little 'Scooby gang' and the 'Giles' machine', then we can use our minions as distractions so that we can get away,' Willow said, blood trickling down from one side of her mouth. She turned her attention back to the girl's neck and licked the gapping wound passionately. Louisa mentally scowled, then walked straight up to a cute boy who was cowering in fear with a group of others, he nervously flicked his floppy brown fringe that always got in the way out of his face. Louisa smiled, he didn't know she was a vampire yet; she hadn't shown her true face. She had always fancied him but he had always tuned he down, now he was crying and begging her to save him. She pulled him close to her and made sure he saw her fangs before she unemotionally turned his head to the side so his neck was exposed then she sunk her fangs deep into his flesh and drank. Spike just stood watching Louisa; he looked at Angel who was also watching her. He was smiling. He waited until his sired had finished feeding then clapped his hands. The remaining teens had all tried to squash into the furthest corner away from the monsters that stood before them, they were all huddling. They stunk of fear. Most were crying all were scared stiff. Why shouldn't they be? Angel thought. Once he had everyone's attention he waited for a minute.
'Bring her here,' Angel said as he pointed to a pretty girl with blonde hair that cascaded over her shoulders and down her back, Spike sighed, always the blonde ones, he thought. She screamed as Shock and Willow grabbed her and dragged her kicking and screaming to Angel. One boy who had greasy shoulder length orange hair punched Shock in a feeble effort to try and free the girl. Shock punched the boy so hard his neck snapped backwards and the dead boy slumped to the floor on top of his fellow humans. The plump girl he landed on screamed and ran as fast as she could forward towards the exit Louisa was blocking, she snapped the girl's neck and dropped her lifeless body to the floor. The teens immediately were silent. Shock did not even break his stride.
'What's your name?' Angel asked softly, he still had not revealed his vampiric nature unlike Shock, Louisa, Willow, and Spike (even though he had not fed because of the chip the government had but in his brain when he had been captured by the Initiative) who were all vamped out. The girl had stopped screaming and was now crying.
'Lucie,' she managed to choke out.
'Well Lucie, you should be happy,' soothed Angel as she cupped her pretty face with one hand and stroked her golden hair with his other.
'You have been chosen,' said Louisa who had moved to stand on Angel's left.
'Ch…chu…chuh…chosen f…for what?' The girl sobbed, she had gotten to the hiccupping stage.
'Out of all these people here…' Louisa started.
'You were chosen to feed out master,' Shock finished as he moved to stand on Angel's right.
'No!' The girl screamed as Angel pulled her closer to him. Spike moved and stood next to Louisa and Willow moved next to Shock. Angel let his demonic visage show then lowered his fangs and drank, then casually dropped the girl's limp form to the floor. Angel smiled at the corpse, morphed back to his human state, and then kicked her limp form out of his way.
'Turn that blonde girl, that dark haired boy over there, and then anyone else you want,' Angel said to Louisa and Shock. He then turned to face Willow, 'turn that dark haired girl over there.'
'Um…Angel-us,' she finished correcting her self, 'how do you turn people?' Willow asked her age showing.
'Spike, get your useless carcass over here and show Willow,' Angel ordered.
'Alright Nancy boy,' Spike said but did not move. Angel walked over to Spike, smoothly breaking a wooded picture frame as he did so, and held the splintered wood above Spike's heart.
'Alright William,' Angel threatened, 'do you want to be dust, because if you do, step forward and make my day.' There had been a time when Spike would have just laughed in Angel's face, but now he knew when to back off.
'I'll teach her,' Spike said fear glinting in his eyes.
'What's my name?' His grand-sire asked firmly, not letting him up. Spike knew the answer and he could not believe he was about to say it.
'Raven, Raven, Raven!' Buffy called into the empty night feeling more than a little stupid when a man who was out walking his Labrador looked at her strangely. 'There's no place like home,' Buffy said under her breath as she clicked her heels together three times. 'Why am I even bothering?' The slayer grumbled, 'she's not coming,' she said as she rubbed her arms vigorously to try and warm them up as she watched her breath twirl away up into the atmosphere.
'Hey Buffy,' Raven greeted the slayer as Spirit Gale landed behind her. 'Hop on.'
'Have you found Willow?' Buffy asked as she clambered awkwardly on the Pegasus' broad back.
'Sorry Buffy,' Raven said quietly. Buffy felt like crying. Once more her feelings for Angel changed, you do anything to Willow and I'll kill you, she thought as they rose above the tree tops, again.
Below them in a small, shabby brick residence, a horde of new vampires fed on the few remaining prisoners. A chant was rising. Down in the cellar, in almost complete darkness, black candles providing the only light. On a plinth with a blonde female vampire flanking his left and a dark and sliver highlighted haired male vampire to his right, their leader stood. A young female vampire with red hair walked up to the blonde one and stood next to her, behind her a bleached blonde vampire male joined the sliver highlighted male, he looked at their tall, dark leader, hatred gleamed in his eyes but fear also took refuge in his pupils. He looked away. Their leader clapped, and all was silent. About a hundred attentive heads turned to look up at him. He smiled.
'No one hunts without my permission,' he said in a steady deep voice, 'no one kills without my permission. Do so and you will pray for death. Tomorrow night we feast.' The pack cheered. A young vampire with green hair that almost glowed in the dark and piercing on almost every available path of skin pushed his way to the front.
'Dude, where are we gonna feast?' He asked, his accent was distinctively Californian. The leader looked down at him and smiled. The blonde vampire on his left silently picked up a cricket bat and effortlessly snapped it in two creating an effective stake. Her eyes gleamed with anticipation as she crept behind the green haired fledgling and held the stake over his exposed leather clad back.
'Louisa,' the leader said stopping her. The green haired vampire spun around and hissed at Louisa.
'She was gonna stake me! Man!' Greenie exclaimed more surprised than anything. The leader looked emotionlessly at Louisa and she immediately dropped the stake and returned to her former position.
'What's your name?' The leader asked Greenie as he examined the newborn vampire.
'Spike,' came the proud reply, the leader suspected that the vampire before him had probably earned the nickname through reputation somehow or another. Maybe because of the piercings? The leader thought, does he leak when he feeds? The leader was vaguely aware of the almost immediate reaction of the blonde male vampire on his right and the leader smiled inwardly.
'Alright then, Spike,' the leader said his face deadpan, 'what's my name?' The green haired Spike seemed to go into deep thought for a few seconds then his face brightened toddler like.
'Angelus,' he answered, a confident expression smothering his rough angular features.
'Correct,' the leader said, the green haired vampire's face lit up like a child's does when their teacher informs them that they have the right answer, 'but wrong.' Before the slow vampire could process this, the leader addressed the blonde male vampire on his right. 'Spike, do you want another one with the same name as you here?'
'No,' the blonde vampire said as he caught onto his grand-sire's train of thought. He smiled. This was going to be fun.
'I thought not,' the leader said as he beckoned the green Spike to him. 'Come here,' he said as the green vampire obeyed and climbed the plinth to stand before his dark haired leader. 'Kneel down.' Once again the dim-witted vampire obeyed. 'This is what happens when you ask me questions, and then answer my corrections incorrectly,' the dark vampire said with a sad look on his face. The crowd of vampires assembled before them moved to get a closer look in anticipation of what their dark lord was about to do. Then with one swift movement a concealed stake ratcheted into his hand and the green haired vampire was floating around the room and settling on the floor with his new dust family. 'Any questions?' The dark vampire asked smiling. He got no reply; the demonstration had had the desired effect on the crowd before him. 'Now, what is my name?'
'Master!' The chorus of vampires cheered. The lead vampire smiled.
'That's better,' The One With the Angelic Face said as the chant took up again but this time with more volume. He had their loyalty. His smile darkened.
'Giles!' Buffy said as she paced Cordelia's living room. 'What can we do? Isn't there like a spell or something we could use to find her?'
'Buffy,' Giles said as she stood up and walked over to his distraught slayer, 'we will find Willow.' Buffy stopped and turned to face her English watcher who was now looking a little worn around the edges, as they all were.
'Giles, Xander is dead, Wesley is dead!' A tear slid down he pretty face, 'Willow is my best friend. I've already lost Xander. I can't loose Willow.' Tara looked at Buffy then stood up and hugged her. 'Tara, I promise you I'll find her.' Anya who had not said more than a few sentences since Xander's death, suddenly stood up and joined Buffy and Tara's embrace. Cordelia walked to the door and picked up her coat.
'Cordelia,' Giles said, 'where are you going?'
'To do what Willow would do,' she replied a firm expression set hard as granite on her face.
'And what's that?' Buffy asked breaking from the hugs.
'Look up our little wear-bear's history on a computer,' Cordelia said.
'On your own?' Buffy queried, she had taken up her 'not while I'm here' stance which involved putting her hands on her hips and frowning slightly.
'Well you guys just looked so comfy. I didn't want to disturb you,' Cordelia snapped, Wesley's death was obviously effecting her more than Buffy had realised. Raven walked slowly over to Cordelia, she had taken her long jacket off and now her sword was visible. Spirit Gale had changed into what Raven had explained to Buffy was his native state, a wolf. Spirit Gale was the name he went by when he was a metamorph. He was called 'Umbra' in his wolf state, Raven had told her. Umbra was Latin for Shadow, Giles had informed her when he had seen her frowning. Buffy looked at the magnificent animal who was quietly padding his way over to his mistress now as if they shared a psychic link, his midnight black fur rippled over his muscles as he walked majestically over to Raven. He seemed to sense Buffy looking at him and he turned his mighty head to look at the slayer, she found herself submerged in his amber eyes, she felt an intelligence there, as if he was reading her thoughts or talking to her telepathically. Satisfied he turned and moved to Raven's side where he sat obediently.
'I'll go with you. Buffy, before you complain, stay here, protect them,' Raven said as she walked out of the door with Cordelia. Buffy was about to protest when Umbra looked at her, his amber eyes glowed with frightening intellect, then she understood. She merely nodded, then went to shut the door behind them. Raven stopped and seamed to discuss something with Umbra even though she just looked at him, he walked over to Buffy and stood by her side, 'Buffy, Umbra will stay with you, that way if Cordy and I run into trouble he'll let you know and vice versa.' Buffy smiled.
'Ok,' Buffy said as she saw Cordy and Raven out of the door then she shut and locked it behind them.
Chamaray knew it was pointless walking back to the village if what the demon that had taken over Gardel had told her had been true. She probably could not find her way back anyway, but she knew she would need to go back for supplies. The wolf pup still followed her, she knew her little shadow would be hungry, as her stomach kept reminding her, but she had no food for him. He needed a name if he was going to hang around. Chamaray and the pup had been walking ever since Chamaray had gotten to her feet after staking Gardel. She felt empty. She had nowhere to go, no one left to love. She bent down and picked up a fallen branch, it was routine she did not even think about it, it was cold and she was tired so she would build a fire. As she did so the pup watched her and cocked its had to the side. It stood up and placed a twig next to the branch copying her. Chamaray gave the pup a stiff smile.
'Thou named thyself,' she said to the pup who seemed to be listening to her, his small black head cocked slightly to one side. 'I shall call thou Umbra meaning Shadow,' she said. The pup seemed to consider this, then walked over to Chamaray and licked her hand, 'so,' Chamaray said, her sad, painted on cardboard smile still lay dormant on her face, 'Umbra it is then.'
'Sister,' rasped a voice to the dark woman standing next to her, 'we have been called to meet the one who summoned us sister.'
'So it has begun then, sister,' replied the woman in the shadows to her kneeling partner.
'So it has, sister,' the other agreed as she looked into the crystal ball on her lap, it was like looking at an image painted on the bottom of a swimming pool, then it cleared to show the crystal face of a tall dark haired man. He smiled.
Raven and Cordelia arrived at the library just as it opened. They hurried inside and nabbed two computers. They logged on, and then brought up the Internet.
'So who do you want me to search for?' Raven asked as she brought up the search box.
'Anything you can find on Louisa and Shock,' Cordelia said as she type frantically on the keyboard, 'I'll look for recent vampire style deaths, mark them on a map and see if they form an arrow that points to their hideout or something.' Raven simply nodded and started typing.
Angel stared at the ceiling absently, he had the room all to himself, finally he was alone. He needed a seer in his ranks. Drusilla had previously filled that role – but Spike had messed that up by going soft and making a pact with the slayer, so Drusilla had left him for a chaos or a mucus demon, or something equally disgusting. Angel laughed. The only problem was that he did not know any real candidates – there was Cordelia but she got Doyle's visions from the Powers That Be – not useful. Angel missed Drusilla; he had driven her mad then changed her before she could take her holy vows to become a nun. That evening he would send her a note asking her to join his little group, he was her sire – she would come.
Sy walked drowsily to open the front door. His mother had given him the rollicking of his life when the blonde girl had dropped him off at his front door earlier that morning. He had been sent straight to bed, but now his mother was contradicting herself, as usual, and shouting at him to answer the door. He sighed, rolled his eyes, and opened the door – in that order. Mortimer Davis filled most of the door way, his pink eyes still freaked Sy out but Mort had dyed his shot, white albino hair a weird black that shimmered blue under light. Mortimer was Sy's best friend since – well ever.
'Wazup?' Sy asked Mortimer in the now classic style of Budweiser.
'Sy, it's eight in the morning. We swim every morning at eight,' his friend replied. 'How was the party? Was Sapphire there?'
'Yes Sapphire was there, with David Fitz-Jenkins,' Sy replied with a sigh. Sapphire was a beautiful blonde with the most amazingly blue eyes, Sy fancied her but knew she would never fancy him back.
'Bummer,' Mort replied in his deep voice, 'how was Dave anyway? Haven't seen him for a few weeks, rumour is that he's bunkin'.'
'Bunkin' out of work? The pizza delivery job?' Sy replied slightly shocked. David had worked hard to get that position after he had dropped out of college with out a qualification.
'Yeah,' Mort said shaking his head.
'Well he looked alright to me, he even had a drink or two. He did seem more relaxed than usual, and I was surprised to see him with Sapphire, last time he asked she turned him down and I never thought he had the will to make himself ask again. He seemed more confident,' Sy said remembering how he had watched Sapphire and David dance to the hypnotic trance anthem that had blasted out of the speakers with envy burning in his eyes.
'That could be a good thing,' Mort said nodding.
'Yeah, I guess so. Maybe he'll quit his job and have another go at collage,' Sy said optimistically. Mort smiled sadly at his friend.
'We goin' swimmin' now or what?' He asked. Sy smiled and disappeared up the stairs to get his bag.
Angel rose from his bed and crossed over to the pealing door and flung it open. A young vampire he had taken a liking to met him outside his chamber door, his name, Angel recalled, was David Fitz-something. David smiled when he saw his grandsire and bowed slightly. Angel smiled faintly then gestured for the fledgling to join him in his room. David had been moping outside the house with a cold, spicy delivery for one of the old inhabitants when Louisa had found him. He had been a pizza delivery boy and Louisa had taken a liking to him, hoping that maybe Willow would also be fond of him, but unfortunately Willow had already developed a liking for Louisa which was making her uneasy and Shock mad. He had been introduced to Angel and Angel had asked him what he wanted, the newly turned David had asked for one thing, to go to a party and to sire a girl who had turned him down so that she would be his for eternity. Angel had smiled at the boy's naivety and let him go to the party. The boy had come back with the girl who was very attractive with long blonde hair like silk and beautiful blue jewel like eyes. He had introduced her as Sapphire, she had proven so far to be quite cheeky and Angel had had to discipline her more than once, normally he would have staked her, but he liked her, so he let her live, well un-live. Unfortunately for David, Sapphire had taken a liking to Angel, which was fine by him. He gestured for the young vampire to take a seat then sat down behind the battered desk, he swung his long legs up onto the table and waited for the boy to sit down. The boy was not nervous but he had respect for Angel's position. Angel smiled and the teenager took his seat.
'David,' Angel started folding his hands into his lap, 'I want you to do something for me.'
'Anything Master,' he replied, unshaken. He placed his arms on the armrests and awaited the task with anticipation.
'I would like you to take a little trip to find someone. I don't know where she is exactly but I want you to find her and ask her to come to me. Don't force her,' Angel said bringing his hands up and resting his chin on them. He studied the young man sitting in front of him, he reminded Angel of Penn; eager to learn, Angel just prayed that he would not turn out as prosaic. David's face lit up as the prospect of being chosen to do something for the top vampire in the whole of L.A., hit him.
'Yes Master, I'll go at once. Who is it I'm to find?' He asked.
'Her name is Drusilla,' Angel replied, 'and let me make this crystal clear; she is not to be forced or harmed in anyway. Tell her Angelus sent for her.' David nodded.
'Am I to go on my own?' He asked Angel. Angel knew where this was going and his smile returned briefly.
'Take Sapphire with you,' he said, and as he had predicted the vampire's face lit up.
'Yes Master,' David said as he stood up. The meeting was over.
Cordelia sighed and ran her fingers through her dark hair in frustration as she swivelled around on her chair to face Raven.
'Nothing, nada, zilch, zip, need I go on?' She asked. Raven turned to face Cordelia as she shut down her computer.
'Right there with you,' she said. 'The books aren't going to say anything either,' she said as she stood up and walked over to Cordy, 'not about Louisa anyway. I agree that Louisa was probably sired recently, but she was probably homeless and had no one to miss her. I bet we'll find something on Shock though,' she finished. Suddenly Cordy grabbed Raven's arm.
'Look at this,' Cordy said. Raven knelt down to get a better look at the monitor. A newspaper article was on screen,
FAMILIES APPEAL TO MISSING TEENS
10-year-old Kerrin Walker, 16-year old Chris Walker's brother was found murdered today. Chris and his girlfriend 15-year old Abbie Donnellson-Oldham have been on the missing list for over 2 weeks now. A neighbour who was up early walking his dogs found Kerrin dead down the road from his grandmother's house early this morning. The cause of death has been confirmed as homicide though details are still being confirmed. The police are reluctant to link Chris and Abbie's disappearance with Kerrin's murder at this time as no DNA samples were found on the 10-year-old's body. Abbie and Chris are still missing. The families appeared on public television today to appeal to anyone who has any information on Kerrin's murder or on the disappearances of Abbie and Chris to please come forward.
Cordelia brought up the coroner's office web page and searched for the report on Kerrin Walker. Her suspicions were confirmed; two sets of puncture wounds to the neck – one set either side.
'Vampires,' she said simply. 'What's the odds that Chris and Abbie were also victims? The time of death is roughly about the time when Angel came to us to kidnap Will,' Cordelia noted, Raven nodded grimly.
'The address of where the body was found is near the factory Buffy and I found abandoned,' Raven observed. 'I'm thinking last meal. I'm going to hit the books to look for our friend Shock.' She turned and walked towards the stacks, Cordelia nodded absently as she read the coroner's report through again just in case she had missed anything. She had picked that up from Angel, he used to spend ages reading and re-reading reports that either Kate had given him or she had found for him. How ironic, she thought to herself, I'm using the skills he taught me to find him.
Drusilla opened her eyes slowly. All around her was death; it was in her nostrils, in her mouth, everywhere. The moon bleed freely, bathing her in a warm, refreshing blood red light. The stars were singing to her and the moon had joined them in the symphony of destruction. She felt silky petals brush against her exposed ankles as she walked barefoot through the dying grass sprayed green, white, and red with daises and blood. She smiled, her fangs gleaming. Then she saw him; a dark figure silhouetted against the bleeding sky. 'Shock,' she growled as she walked towards him. Then she saw what he was doing, he was holding his middle finger up at her; pins were stuck through it at right angles to form the cross. Drusilla hissed, then Shock moved to reveal another figure behind him, his dark hair bowed as if in prayer. Then she saw them, fat little cherubs rubbing a mixture of holy water and garlic all over the crouching figure's stripped upper torso, he screamed and bent over further in pain, the stars and moon joined in, the sound was horrible, the figure's flesh burned. Drusilla put her hands over her ears and ran forward, 'Daddy,' anger rose and filled her like a torrent, she growled as she flung her self at a cherub she grabbed a handful of soft golden curls, but they came away in her hand, snakes. The snakes wrapped themselves around her, threatening to cut of a blood supply she did not have, binding her, digging into her flesh, biting her, holding her. She could not move, lucky for her breathing was not a problem. 'Angel!' She screamed and struggled to loosen the wriggling bonds as she was forced to watch her beloved sire's torture, he was being poisoned and burned by the snake haired demons. He was being violated. She turned her head away, unable to help, unable to watch any more, frustration welling up inside her but she was unable to tap it. Shock grinned and walked over to the helpless Drusilla.
'Now, now sister,' he said in a dangerous singsong voice as if he was singing to the music of their sire's agony. She growled at him and renewed her efforts to help her sire, she wanted to rip Shock's head off and eat his eyeballs. He made a tut-tut-tut sound and waggled his mutilated finger at her, blood from the wounds the rusty pins had caused splattered onto her face. She tried to free her hands, to claw that smile off his face, she felt like a caged animal; she had never felt this helpless before. Shock's grin widened impossibly and he walked closer to her, he gripped her soft cheeks with his rough hands, she felt the cold blood of his wounds and the sharp, rough metal of the pins scraping against her smooth un-dead skin. She tried to bite him but he ignored her futile efforts and forced her to look in the direction of the torture of their sire. He laughed, Angel screamed.
Drusilla woke with a start something she had not done for years, 'Angel,' she groaned softly as if in pain. She picked up Miss Edith, her favourite doll, and looked at it as if for comfort, the blindfolded doll appeared to look back at her through the soft silk. Drusilla brushed its curly hair away from its face then gently felt her own expecting there to be blood from Shock's mutilated finger there. Satisfied she rolled off the bed, her long crimson dress flowing obediently behind her. She bent down and ran a delicate red and white French manicured finger nailed hand across the edge of the thick antique rug that covered the sewer access and felt its deep, woolly pile. She grabbed a handful and hauled the heavy rug back on itself. She then opened the sewer access hatch and dropped down into the sewer, Miss Edith firmly clutched in her other hand. By now she was used to the sewer smell - refuse, polluted water, rats. She moved with speed and agility possessed by vampires and soon arrived at the access that would lead to the underground. She ran her free hand along the rough, rusty iron rung, a large chunk of the reddish brown compound crumbled away at her touch and fell into the contaminated water and was carried away. Drusilla took a firmer grip on the rung; the rough shards of rust bit into her hands and reminded her of the snakes, their smooth, cold bodies, their sharp fangs secreting a poison deadly to humans. She ignored it and climbed to the top and pushed the hatch open, rust lakes rained down on her, biting into her flesh. She casually brushed them off then climbed out and onto the solid platform of the dark underground; the smell was no better here. She climbed onto the next train that was headed for Los Angeles, killing anyone who got in her way.
The fire glowed softly, its warm light cascading like a silk blanket over the sleeping teen and her wolf. The night before, Chamaray had found the village and the slaughtered bodies of the town's people. There was nobody left. She had collected some supplies and had tried to find some animals – maybe a sheep to sell, or a horse to ride but they had either been killed or had run away. Chamaray had then searched the town's people for weapons, she had found a bow and a quiver full of arrows, and her father's sword; its ruby and hematite encrusted hilt was just as she had remembered. She picked up the sword and brushed the dust off it and then wiped the blood off it onto the already blood soaked grass. She cut down Cassandra's naked body from the tree it had been hung from and hauled the dead woman's body into the barn where she had stacked the others then set alight to the hay and body filled barn. Chamaray wondered how long her father had been a vampire for, but no one could tell her the answer. She searched through her mother's things and found her mother's herb pouch, she slung it over her shoulder, it was stuffed full of herbs already. She found her mother's spell book and put it in her pack along with the food supplies, a couple of stakes, and two pieces of flint to make fire lighting easier. She picked up the drinking skin and went to the old stone well to fill it with the blood tainted icy water. She then found her mother's favourite cream coloured scarf and tied it around Umbra's black neck after she had washed him to get the blood off.
'Umbra,' she called softly as she collected her things and started in the direction of the next town. Maybe she could be a medicine woman. The little wolf finished off the last of the scraps his mistress had given him then bounded over to his mistress. She waited until he was walking along by her heals then they set off down the muddy path, peppered with potholes and flanked with dense, tall trees. The wind changed direction and blew the smoke from the burning mass gave in their direction and Chamaray wretched then the cruel wind once again changed its direction and blew Chamaray's fresh tears form her face.
Chamaray had arrived at the next village just before nightfall even so the evening was as dark as pitch. She was dripping wet and shivering, her feet were shredded, and she was tired. She was feeling the weight of the sword and the supplies. Umbra was drenched and resembled a small shivering drowned rat. She could hardly see him but she could smell his thick wet pelt. He sneezed. Chamaray hoped the little creature would be all right. The village looked deserted. Panic rose inside Chamaray and she used the last of her strength to drag herself to a door. She knocked on the door, scraping her knuckles on the hard wood. A familiar foul smell was coming from something hanging from the door. Chamaray realised that the occupant had hurriedly nailed a sprig of garlic to the door and painted a cross in sheep's blood on the dark wood. No one answered the door. There was no light from a fire, and she could hear no talking. She gingerly opened the door.
'Hello?' She called. She listened for a reply but got none. She stepped through the door and walked into the main living area. 'Hello?' She called again. She strained against the dark to see.
'Hello,' a voice replied from behind her. Umbra was just as startled as she had been; he yelped and dashed between her legs to hide behind her. The voice belonged to a young man slightly older than her; he smiled and stepped through the door and into the house. She backed away and Umbra growled. The man seemed unfazed and smiled kindly at the travel weary pair before him. 'I won't harm thee,' he said in his gorgeous deep voice. She stepped further into the light and Chamaray saw him properly for the first time. He had long shoulder length dark hair that was fell into slight curls, he had beautiful dark eyes that seemed impossible to distrust, he was stunningly hansom. He was well muscled and his light cream shirt had slipped slightly to reveal a broad tanned shoulder. He was slightly taller than her. He smiled and she felt her heart warm once again. 'My name's Tully,' he told her as he walked over to her shivering form. 'Pray tell what thy mother named thou,' he said as he brushed a stray strand of his dark luscious hair behind his ear.
'My name is Chamaray,' she half whispered, his beauty stunned her. He put an arm around her shivering shoulders and she half expected Umbra to growl at him, but no such growl came forth. The young animal merely stood by her side and when she found herself being guided out of the house and back into the rain he followed.
'So Chamaray,' her guide said as he led her down the wet muddy street to another house further down the street, a fire was burning inside and she could hear voices, 'how did thou come to be here?'
'My town was attacked by a vampyr,' she explained as he led her into the house. The fire's glow warmed her soul as she stepped out of the rain and into the main living area. A group of men sat around the fire with a stunning girl, its flames flickered over their smiling faces. The beautiful young woman stood up, her strikingly long dark hair flowed like spun silk over her shoulders, her dark pupils reflected the fire's light, she was one of the most beautiful women Chamaray had ever seen. She walked over to Chamaray and Tully on perfect dainty feet and hugged and kissed Tully.
'Oh Tully,' she said in a fitting voice, 'I was so worried.' Chamaray's heart sunk at their affection. He was obviously involved, she was nothing compared to the goddess before her, she was suddenly extremely self-conscious; she was very aware that she looked terrible. Tully and the girl separated then Tully turned to face Chamaray.
'This is Chamaray,' he said introducing the girl to her. Chamaray's painted smile came back and she acknowledged the dainty beauty. 'Chamaray this is Grace, my sister,' Chamaray's soul sang and her hart danced to the music. Her smile became very real and Grace smiled back.
'Gosh,' Grace said as she took Chamaray in properly for the first time, 'love ye, drenched aren't thee,' she said. She took Chamaray's hand and led her past the fire and off into a separate room, 'we'll be back in a moment, I'm just going to take the poor lamb to get clean clothes.' Tully took a seat on the floor next another man and nodded to his sister. Umbra sheepishly followed Chamaray. Grace led Chamaray through the doorway and into a smaller room, a bed lay in one corner and a wooden trunk stood in the other. 'Thou can stay in here with me for the night,' Grace said as she took the herb sack and the pack from Chamaray. 'Would ye like to put thy weapons down? We won't harm thee,' Grace said kindly as she gently put the bundles down on the moss and straw filled mattress. She turned and glided over to the wooden trunk and hauled the lid up then started to rummage through the contents. Chamaray obediently took the sheath and the sword from the belt around her petite waist and took the bow and quiver from her shoulders and propped them up against bed. Grace pirouetted to face Chamaray and handed her a beautiful fresh, cream and brown dress. 'Pop it on and then come back out to the fire to warm up and get thyself and ye wolf some food,' she said as Chamaray took the dress from the girl.
'Bless thee,' Chamaray said and smiled. Grace smiled back and nodded then walked back through the doorway into the main room. Chamaray shakily stripped off and slid into the warm fresh dress. She could smell lamb being cooked on the fire with rosemary. She smiled and walked back into the larger room. She had stopped shivering and had managed to dry Umbra. Tully moved over and let her sit down next to her. She smiled. The warmth from the fire soon put a glow in her cheeks and Umbra was soon asleep after eating his fair share of lamb. Chamaray explained how she had come to be there with Umbra while she ate, there were two men not including Tully, one was called Fresco and was Grace's husband, the other was called Marcus, he was Fresco's younger brother. All four of them had the same dark brown trusting eyes, dark long curly hair, beautiful tanned bodies, and all could easily have been gods. They were a massive contrast to Chamaray's long, straight blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes. Now that Chamaray was cleaned up she felt better, she knew she was attractive, if she had not been then Gardel would never have asked permission to marry her. As she told her story all eight eyes were on her, when she had finished she asked what had happened at their village. Marcus was the one that told her, he explained that a demon had also come to their town and slaughtered their people, including their families and his young wife, Katharine, and their unborn child. Tully put his arm around Chamaray's shoulders while he let his brother in law tell the gruesome tale. When Marcus stopped in obvious pain Fresco rescued his brother by continuing, he explained how Tully, Marcus and he had fought the beast while Grace had escaped with Katharine into the forest. Katharine had slipped and the beast had caught and ripped her throat out before she could scream, Tully, Fresco, and Grace had dragged the distraught Marcus into the woods where they has managed to loose the vampire. They had huddled together and had spent the night there until daybreak when they had comedown to find the village abandoned. Tully had been doing the final check for people when he had found Chamaray. Chamaray finished her dinner in silence with Tully's comforting arm around her shoulders. They sat around the fire talking until midnight when Chamaray fell into an exhausted sleep on Tully's shoulders trust in her eyes.
She woke suddenly fifteen minutes later when she felt a sharp pain in her finger. She opened her eyes and screamed, it was like a scene form a nightmare, the four demons smiled at her their fangs gleaming, they were as surprised as she was. Umbra had bitten her finger to warn her, they were about to feed on her. She scrambled to her feet and ran into the spare room and grabbed her sword and shakily fumbled to unsheathe it. Umbra was growling savagely in the doorway but he was viciously kicked out of the way as the once beautiful four burst through the doorway. She held the sword in her sweaty palms, her whole body convulsed with fear as she faced her assailants whom she had trusted. The demon that wore Tully's face growled at Umbra and advanced towards Chamaray a dark smile in his glowing amber eyes. Chamaray raised the swords and struck at Tully weakly, the heavy sword bounced off his muscular flesh leaving a slight cut that healed almost immediately. Marcus laughed at her and watched as Grace tried to pick up the growling ball of fluff that was Umbra. Chamaray panicked and dropped the sword then still facing the man she had started to love tried to touch her she became all instinct. She kicked him viciously between the legs giving herself precious seconds she spun around and thrust her moist hand into her pack, her hand closed around wood. She turned around as she pulled the stake out of the leather bundle and staked Fresco who had his back to her. He crumbled to dust and the imprisoned Umbra fell to the floor and lay stunned for a few seconds then turned on Grace again. Chamaray with one fluid movement staked Marcus who was coming at her from the left; he also crumbled to into a pile of dust that Umbra ran through a few seconds later. Chamaray turned to face Tully who had recovered now; he was trapped against the wall. Then he did something she had not been expecting, he morphed back into his human visage, Chamaray hesitated. That was all the time he had needed, the next thing she knew she was on the floor, his weight crushing the much-needed oxygen out of her lungs. She gasped for breath. Her hands were pinned beneath him, she could not move. Then she saw Grace walk in, she had Umbra in her arms he was still. She knew that this was it; she would die now. Then just as the smiling Tully was about to sink his fans into her neck words flowed from her mouth, words she did not understand. The vampire exploded instantly into dust. Her eyes went yellow and she was lifted off the floor suddenly by some unseen force, her face blank she simply looked at the trembling vampire that had once been Grace, the vampire exploded into dust before her. Umbra's broken body fell to the floor. She looked calmly at it and the bones healed, the pup shook itself and stood up. Then Chamaray floated back down to the floor and the yellow light faded from her eyes. Just before she could take in what had just happened the room got brighter and brighter until there was nothing but white; a brilliant pure whiteness that kindled her burnt out soul. A voice spoke out to her from the whiteness, a deep voice that she could hear inside her head but was not really sure whether she was actually hearing it or not.
'CHAMARAY KIEAHRIEAH,' it said in its deep monotone, 'YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN.'
'C…chosen for what?' She asked getting over the initial shock; curiosity filled her now.
'TO FIGHT FOR GOOD, THY SOUL IS PURE, THOU ART ONE OF PURE GOOD.'
'What does thou mean? Is thou the one that saved me?' She asked carefully.
'I AM MERELY A MESSENGER, I CHOSE THIS FORM AS I SENSED IT WOULD BE THE FORM THOU WOULD UNDERSTAND BEST. THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE CHOSEN THEE TO FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE.'
'The Powers that Be?' She questioned, 'what cause? Chosen for what?'
'THOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN TO HELP THE VAMPIRE SLAYER TO FIGHT THE FORCES OF DARKNESS. THOU HAVE BEEN MADE IMMORTAL AND THE POWER AND STRENGTH BORN TO THEE HAS BEEN STRENGTHENED. THE WOLF, UMBRA'S, GROWTH HAS BEEN ACCELERATED, HAS ALSO BEEN GRANTED WITH IMMORTALITY, HE WILL ACCOMPANY THEE IN THY QUEST, HE HAS ALSO BEEN GRANTED THE POWER OF TURNING INTO SPIRIT GALE, A METAMORPHIC ENTITY. THE VISIONS WILL LEAD THEE TO EACH SLAYER AT THEIR TIME OF GREATEST NEED OR THEY WILL LEAD THEE TO DEMONS THE SLAYER CANNOT FIGHT ALONE, OR AN EVIL THE SLAYER CANNOT FIGHT AS SHE IS IN ANOTHER COUNTRY.' Chamaray merely nodded, she sort of understood now; she was to help destroy evil, and help the one called the slayer. The bright light faded and the voice was gone. Her head ached and she felt slightly dizzy. She managed to crawl to the dying fire and she fell into a deep sleep her now fully-grown wolf curled up by her side. A new ring gleaming in the flame light on her finger.
Just as David was about to leave the house with Sapphire - who was surprisingly ready and willing to do anything for their Master - he noticed a beautiful woman with long dark hair and dark eyes standing outside, she was strikingly pale and attractive and was wearing a very out-of-date red lace and silk dress. She held an old-fashioned, blindfolded doll tightly in her hand. David frowned - she did not smell human. She just ignored him, walked past him and started up the stairs.
'Excuse me,' David growled as he showed his vampire self and put a firm hand on the trespasser's pale, fragile shoulder. She turned around and smiled distantly at him. Sapphire frowned and waited to see what her sire would do. She regarded David as a grandmother might a child. The female vampire opened her mouth to speak then suddenly changed and growled fiercely at someone behind Sapphire.
'Well, well, well,' came Shock's familiar Romanian drawl. 'Look who we have here.' David let go of the female vampire's shoulder and looked at Shock who was standing at the bottom of the stairs with Louisa; both were wearing black leather coats and pants, and red silk shirts. They had been about to go out to hunt. David backed off; Shock and the intruder obviously knew each other. He took Sapphire's hand and they both moved out of the way so the higher-ranking vampires could deal with the trespasser. 'I never thought I'd see you again,' Shock said menacingly. The vampire just growled at Shock and made motions in the air as if to shred him to pieces with her red and white tipped talons.
'She's gone and copied me and all!' Louisa muttered when she saw the nail design.
'What's bloody well going on now?' Came Spike's English accent as he emerged from behind Shock and Louisa, then his eyes fell on the beautiful vampire and his frown faded to be replaced with a smile, 'Drusilla,' he said softly as he pushed past Shock to move to his sire. David did a slight double take.
'Oh, so that's Drusilla then. The Master sent me to go and get you,' David said slightly disappointed that he would not be going on a search to find the insane favourite of his Master. Drusilla's features morphed back to her human mask at the sight of Spike.
'Spike,' she said in the same tone Spike had used to address her, 'Shock was being all mean and nasty,' she pouted, speaking for the first time, her accent matched Spike's. Spike smiled.
'Shock?' Spike questioned Drusilla then vamped out and turned to face the Romanian vampire, 'why don't you take your little slut and bugger off?' He told him, then he de-vamped and turned back to face Drusilla again, 'Come here kitten,' he said as he walked up the steps towards her.
'The Master would want to see her,' David said frowning slightly at his elders' behaviour. Shock growled at Spike.
'Take that back bleached boy,' Shock said menacingly. Louisa whimpered at the slut comment and growled at Spike.
'Bad boy,' Louisa said. Spike, who seemed to have suddenly come out of the shell he had been in, simply laughed at Shock and punched him in the face. Shock lived up to his name for a few minutes then knocked a picture frame onto the floor with a crash of glass and tore off a chunk of wood. Weapon in hand he advanced towards Spike fury in his eyes. Drusilla who had been silent up till then suddenly clapped her hands.
'Enough!' She demanded. Spike and Shock froze; standing at the top of the stairs was their Master, watching it all. The wood in Shock's hand clattered to the floor. Louisa immediately stopped whimpering and watched fascinated as Drusilla took her place next to Angel. Angel smiled and took Drusilla's hand and kissed it, she smiled. 'The boys were being all naughty. The moon told me to find you,' she said pensively. Angel nodded then looked down at David and Sapphire.
'Go out and hunt,' he told them, David nodded understandingly and dragged the pouting Sapphire with him. Angel then turned to face Shock, Spike and Louisa, 'I'll deal with you all later,' he said simply as he turned to face Drusilla, 'what else did the moon tell you?' He asked as he walked to his open door and walked through it followed closely by Drusilla.
Giles smiled sadly at his pacing slayer, Umbra was sitting next to him, he oddly found the large powerful wolf a great comfort. Buffy had managed to sit still for about five minutes then she had started pacing Cordelia's lounge rhythmically. The television had switched its self on when Raven and Cordelia had been there earlier and had started to channel surf; this had shocked Giles until Cordelia had casually introduced them to her ghost, Phantom Denis. Denis was now apparently watching the news. Umbra whimpered then something caught the watcher's attention on the television; a brunette in a suit with her hair in a neat stylish bob was reporting on a incident that had happened earlier that evening, a 'spaced' dark haired lady who had reportedly been wearing a 'behind the times' dress and held a blindfolded doll had attacked and killed people at an underground station. She had managed to get on the train without being hurt and had gotten off at a station about ten minutes away from Cordelia's apartment. A black and white surveillance camera image of the woman in question came up on the screen. Giles' eyes widened in horror.
'Buffy!' Giles called, the slayer hurried over and froze when she saw the image.
'No, it can't be,' Buffy said fright showing in her eyes. Tara frowned slightly and looked at Anya awaiting an explanation, Anya shrugged and looked at Buffy who was staring agape at the screen.
'Oh great,' Buffy said obviously scared, 'things just keep on going form bad to worse don't they.'
'What?' Anya asked. 'Who is the oddly dressed woman in the black, grey and white coloured picture? And why is she holding a doll?' Tara waited for the answer to Anya's questions, disturbed by Buffy and Giles' responses.
'Her name,' Buffy said staring at the image on the television, 'is Drusilla.'
Drusilla had told Angel all about the vision, Angel was curious, Drusilla had never been wrong before. When David had gotten back, his cheeks still rosy with the warmth of his victim's blood, Angel had called David to his room and had asked David to keep an eye on Shock; David was downstairs right now doing his job. Drusilla smiled.
'Were a family again, Daddy,' she said as she ran her fingers along his shoulders. He smiled. 'Where did you go?' Angel frowned at the odd question but what more could he expect form Drusilla?
'What do you mean?' He asked her as she nibbled his ear playfully and walked Miss Edith along his bicep.
'You went away and the world did not get sucked into Hell,' she said simply. Angel understood now. When he had lost his soul after 'a moment's happiness' with Buffy, he had joined back up with Drusilla and Spike. Together they had planned to destroy the world by awakening the demon Acathla; a demon called forth to swallow the world. In a fight to the death with Buffy, Angelus had pulled the sword that the knight that had used to slay the demon with before it could draw a breath to perform the act from Acathla. The demon had started to awaken. Unknown to either Angelus or Drusilla, Spike had made a pact with the slayer and had knocked the enraged Drusilla unconscious then had driven off. Just as Buffy had been about to kill Angelus, Willow restored his soul. Angel had not been able to remember a thing at first and he and Buffy kissed, but Buffy knowing that the demon was about to suck the world into hell and knowing that Angel's blood was the key stabbed Angel with a sword blessed by the knight that first slew the demon. Angel was sucked into Hell with a kiss. After about a hundred years of torture in hell Angel had fallen back to earth due to the ever-generous Powers that Be. He had been a wreck and Buffy had helped him gain back his sanity and helped restore him to full health.
'No,' he agreed, 'the only thing that got sucked into Hell was me. Buffy sent me to Hell and stopped old Acathla from doing the hell sucking thing but then I was brought back.' Drusilla nipped his neck playfully.
'Poor Angel,' she said quietly. Angel growled softly, 'all the beasties in Hell couldn't stop you from rising up.' She smiled darkly and Angel matched her. She straddled him and unbuttoned his shirt then gently ran her fingers over his chest and over the faint scars the hot pokers Spike's hired torturer had impaled him with had left, and the faint scar from his encounter with the two by four that the police officer, Kate, had run him through with to kill his sired, Penn. 'Each little scar sings its story to me,' Drusilla said quietly as she traced them with her ice cold fingers. Angel closed his eyes and let her have her fun, he nipped her neck as she had his and growled softly again. Drusilla licked the scar Kate had given him, 'naughty police lady,' she said. Angel was somewhat surprised that Drusilla could actually seem to tell who gave him the scars, he frowned slightly then his frown turned upside down when Drusilla ran her tongue over his fading poker scars. 'Spike hired a nasty person to run sharp, hot metal bars through Daddy,' she said quietly as Angel growled softly then roughly pushed her off him and onto the bed. She laughed.
Raven looked up from the heavy, dust ridden leather volume on her lap and seemed to go into a trance for a few seconds; her eyes gleamed yellow. Then Raven shoved the book off her lap and walked over to Cordelia who had given up on the Internet and was now sitting at a desk flicking through the pages of a very old hardback.
'Cordy,' Raven said as she took a seat next to her friend. Cordelia looked up and saw the look of grim concern on Raven's face.
'What is it Raven?' Cordelia asked the warrior, the mixed emotions of curiosity and dread circled her like vultures waiting for the right piece of information to feed on and use to fuel it.
'Umbra informed me that a vampire called Drusilla arrived in town today,' Raven said grimly.
'Crap,' Cordelia said as she looked down at the yellowing pages before her. 'Umbra told you? Anyway, I found something on Shock,' she said, 'the usual vampire references, he travelled a lot, was peaceable until he started hanging with some bad ass vamps then killed some people. Oh, and his real name was Mikhail and he is Romanian.'
'I found similar references,' Raven replied desolately. Cordelia slammed the book in front of her shut when the librarian walked over to ask them nicely to finish, as the library was about to close for the night. Raven and Cordelia gathered their things up; Raven put the books back as Cordelia picked up the print out she had done of the newspaper article. Then they left for Cordelia's apartment.
After swimming Sy and Mortimer had hung around the gym chatting while working the weights then they had gone for a Maccy D's and later a drink. It was dark now and both were more than intoxicated. Sy and Mortimer staggered drunkenly down the street in the general direction of their houses. Mortimer walked into a lamppost person and apologised in-between fits of girlish laughter. Sy lost his balance because he was laughing so hard and ended up retching on the floor. Mortimer hauled his friend up and they continued arm in arm. Then through bloodshot eyes Sy recognised Sapphire. She looked beautiful. He pulled away from Mortimer and stumbled towards her, and then he saw David.
'Hey Sy,' David said as he casually looped his arm around Sapphire's small waist. 'What the hell have you and Mort been doin'? You guys look trashed.' Sy drunkenly punched David in the face and grabbed Sapphire.
'She's my girl,' he slurred in the unfazed David's face.
'Geez man, get a grip,' David said as he gently pushed Sy over, unfortunately David's gentle now resembled a WWF smack down move. Sy groaned when he landed on the floor in a heap. Mortimer hurled his bulk into David who just grabbed the semi conscious Mortimer and sunk his fangs deep into his neck. Sapphire bent down and picked up the totally unconscious Sy and copied her sire. Diner time.
Angel and Drusilla emerged from his room a while later, Drusilla this time without Miss Edith, and together they walked down the stairs. Shock and Louisa were waiting for them; Angel noted that David had left another fledgling, one that Louisa had sired who went by the name of Forbidden, to watch Shock and Angel smiled. He also noticed the look of disgust and hate Spike threw at him like a dagger from around the corner, that just made Angel's smile genuine. I love it when I win, he thought. He and Drusilla walked casually to the door and the door was opened for him. David stood in the doorway his hand raised mid knock. He lowered it and bowed his head in the presence of his Master. Angel acknowledged David and let the vampire in; he noticed that a smug looking Sapphire and two new fledglings followed David. Before he let the newbies in he asked them their names. Angel looked the new vampires over one at a time; the larger one had obviously been an albino, he had dyed his once white hair a strange metallic blue. He wore a black pair of trousers and a shirt that matched his hair colour perfectly; over this he wore an ill-fitting oversized black leather jacket. The other had strikingly green eyes like twin emeralds and blondish hair, he was wearing a dark green shirt that set off his eyes marvellously and a pair of canvas coloured trousers. The former introduced himself as being called Mortimer, Angel had chuckled to himself at the irony of his name, the latter had then introduced himself as being called Sy. Sy seemed excitable and as eager to please as a puppy. David made them take a blood oath to their new Master then Angel let them in.
'Have they fed?' Angel asked simply. David nodded, 'David,' Angel said as he was about to leave with Drusilla, 'you are in charge until I return. No one leaves. Understood?' David nodded.
'But what if one rebels like say Shock or Spike?' David asked.
'Stake anyone who doesn't listen to you,' Angel replied deadpan, 'no one is special.' David nodded and Louisa hid behind Shock, she knew her Master was in a bad mood because of the earlier incident; he normally left Shock in charge. With that Angel turned and walked out into the night with Drusilla by his side.
Shock was furious; it was not supposed to be like this. How could he have been so stupid? He paced his quarters, Louisa sat mute on their bed, and she knew his temper.
'Damn Drusilla,' he ranted, 'she wasn't supposed to come here.'
'Why not?' Louisa said finally.
'Because she is a seer you idiot,' he said. Louisa pouted. Shock softened and walked over to her and sat down. 'You know I didn't mean that Lou,' he said as he stroked her hair, 'it's just the fact that she knows what we're doing to Angel.'
'How do you know?' Louisa asked curious as a feline.
'The way she looked at me,' he said as he ran his hands through his hair in frustration. Louisa crawled behind him on the bed and gently massaged his temples from behind. It had the desired effect and Shock started to relax. 'He suspects,' Shock said in his sexy accent, his accent was always more pronounced when he was livid.
'Listen,' Louisa said, 'why don't you kill someone to cheer you up, huh?'
'Alright then,' Shock said. 'Who do you think I should kill? Someone we know, or someone we don't?'
'It doesn't matter, it's fun either way,' she said then she suddenly sat up straight. 'Shock,' she said an idea forming in her mind, ' why don't we start a mutiny to liven things up a bit?'
'Nah, that'd just get us staked.'
'Not if we got one of our sired to do it and then acted like we knew nothing about it and killed the witless vampire,' Louisa said smiling darkly. Shock smiled back.
'I love you,' he said as he kissed her then started to get up and walk to the door.
'I know,' she replied, as she jumped up and reached the door before Shock, blocking his escape.
'Come on love,' he said trying to get past her.
'Shock let me seduce one of mine, that way if Angel does find out he'll stake me, not you,' she said showing strange compassion. Shock kissed her.
'I'd stake him before he came anywhere near you, love,' he said as he kissed her again, 'but I do agree with you; you can use one of yours. Who are you going to bring into play?'
'Forbidden,' she said grinning.
'Forbidden,' Shock replied his smile growing, 'the one with that gothic 'F' tattooed on his left bicep? About yay tall,' he indicated with his hand a centimetre shorter than him, 'has dark hair, green eyes, and a macho top dog complex that we could manipulate?'
'That's the one,' Louisa said giggling, 'he has this thing where he wants to be leader and I was going to stake him because I thought he was going to be a nuisance but now I realise we need him.' Shock laughed.
'Where did his crappy nickname come from any way? Should have been Phobic-den,' Shock said taking the Mickey out of Forbidden's mouse. Louisa laughed and continued the word game.
'Or Cooler Before Bit-den,' Shock laughed at Louisa's and came up with another.
'The F-den Duden,' Louisa laughed and kissed Shock then left the room to search her house for Forbidden.
The two gorgons peered deep into the crystal ball in front of them.
'He wants us to kill someone to make him feel better, sister,' one told the other in their Ancient Greek tongue.
'Who shall we take, sister?' The other replied. Her sister brushed her snakes back over her shoulders and looked into the swirling crystal. The image focused on a young boy who was out with his mates and had managed to get legless and was now retching outside the club into a waste bin in an already malodorous alley. The gorgons smiled at each other and started to sing.
Umbra rose swiftly to his feet when he heard Cordelia and Raven before anyone else did. Cordelia and Raven walked in and Umbra bounded straight over to his mistress. She gave him a quick cuddle then helped Cordelia inform the others about the murder of Kerrin and Chris and Abbie's disappearances.
'Drusilla…' Buffy started to inform Cordelia and Raven.
'We know, Drusilla's back,' Cordelia interrupted Buffy as she handed Giles the newspaper article.
'You saw the news then?' Buffy asked.
'No, Umbra told Raven,' Cordelia said as she flopped down into the seat next to Tara. 'We do know a little more about Shock though,' Cordelia said. 'He was good until he started to hang around with other vampires who showed him a good time.'
'The k…killing people g…good time I'm guessing,' Tara stuttered. Giles hmmmed aloud as he read the article Cordelia had given him for a second time.
'This Chris and Abbie killed Kerrin, yes?' Giles asked.
'We honestly do not know but Kerrin did have two sets of fang marks on his neck,' Raven replied.
'Then that's probably good enough,' Buffy finished.
Angel and Drusilla walked around a city park arm in arm. Angel spotted a group of young skateboarders who had decided to break into the abandoned park for a thrill. Angel motioned to Drusilla and she smiled. Drusilla left Angel and walked fearlessly up to the teenage rebels.
'Hello,' she said in a singsong voice. Two of the youths stopped to look at her and the third and largest of the group jumped off his board and flipped it into his hand, the fashionable chains he wore on his person rattling like a ghost's in a horror movie. The large one put the board down and walked up to Drusilla menacingly. He thumped one hand into his other palm for effect.
'Should you be out of the mental ward at this time of night?' He asked, his crew laughed. Drusilla smiled at him, unfazed. The boy decided that this bird was too crazy and decided to get down to business. 'Come on hand over your purse,' he said, Drusilla's blank expression was starting to get to him. He looked to his gang for support. Drusilla started to sway slightly and her eyes went vacant. The boys looked at each other and one ran forward and grabbed her arms.
'Search her then,' he told the others. The boys moved forward to comply. Angel saw that this was his cue, he materialised out from behind the last boy while the others were not looking then dematerialised back into the foliage. He covered the boy's mouth and made sure the boy had time to take in what he was before he slowly sunk his fangs into the boy's neck and drained him like a can of soda. He dropped the empty corpse soundlessly and then he continued to watch Drusilla.
'Three down to two,' she said softly. The remaining boys frowned at each other then the realisation dawned on them.
'Zack?' The largest boy called into the lifeless gloom. There was no reply, he turned around and found himself staring into the face of the crazy woman, her eyes glowed yellow and her face was strange and contorted. He screamed. Then he realised that the woman was holding his remaining friend's limp form in her arms, she licked blood from her lips then ran her tongue over her fangs and dropped the boy. The remaining boy freaked out and tried to run but ran straight into a tall dark haired man. Angel smiled at the boy's relief. 'There's a crazy woman and she killed my friend,' the boy choked out. Angel's smile never faded even when he let his inner demon show its self. The boy screamed and struggled against Angel's vice like grip. Angel felt the ecstasy of the boy's fear and then held the boy and forced him to watch as Drusilla sunk her fangs into the soft flesh of his arm, Angel then brought his fangs to meet the soft tissue of the boy's neck. Together they drained the boy then dropped his still body on the park floor on top of the dead leaves. Then arm in arm, and exuberant from the kills, they walked back to the house, a pair of predators in the defenceless victim of the ruthless night.
Louisa strolled into a room and found Forbidden. The want-to-be top dog sat on his own in the corner, he was wearing a forest green tank top with black trousers that were ripped and bleached at the knees. He brightened considerable when she straddled him and whispered that she wanted to talk to him in private in his ear. He smiled and followed when she stood up and led him down into her room, Shock had conveniently left. She roughly shoved Forbidden into the wall and kissed his neck and ran her fingers through his hair.
'I need you to do me a favour,' she said as she moved one of her hands under his tank top and ran her fingers over his toned chest. She pulled his top over his head and dragged her fingernail along his chest, he groaned and she licked the blood passionately.
'Anything,' he said as she kissed his neck, chest and shoulders.
'I want you to take over, you're more than a match for Angelus any day,' Louisa said as she nipped his ear playfully. Like heck, she thought, Angelus will rip you to shreds, and that's that I'm counting on. She smiled.
'When shall I take my place?' He asked between her kisses.
'When he gets back with the mad vampire who arrived today,' Louisa told him, punctuating her sentence with passionate kisses.
'As soon as he gets back I shall make my move,' Forbidden said as he moved his hands to try and unbutton her top. Louisa pulled away.
'No,' she said playfully, 'that's the prize for the winner.'
Spike sulked in the kitchen, he was not allowed out and Angelus had stolen Drusilla from him, again. He knew Angelus was her sire and all but she was his sire and he belonged with Drusilla. He punched the wall then frustrated turned to lean on it. He looked up and caught Willow's face contort with anger when Louisa lured Forbidden to her room. Wonder what's going on there? He thought as he watched Willow cross angrily over to the door, a few seconds later Forbidden walked sulkily out of the room his shirt in his hand. Spike moved to get a closer look and caught the end of a conversation that involved a lot of shouting and Willow making out that Louisa led her on. He laughed when Louisa protested. A small crowd had formed around the fighting vampiresses, the current favourite, also known as David, walked over and threatened a good being staked if they did not shut the hell up. Spike could not help but laugh when one of Shock's sired called David a 'bloody ponse,' and ended up a pile of dust. Shock shoved Louisa back into their room and explained calmly to Willow that Louisa was definitely straight. Willow pouted and told him to have his 'stupid bitch then,' and stormed off. Spike walked back into the kitchen his mood lightened and pulled a cigarette out of a packet in his long leather coat - stolen from a slayer he had killed - lit his smoke with a lighter and took a long calming drag.
'Better than Prozac,' he drawled smiling.
Angel and Drusilla waltzed through the door an hour later; both were in good spirits and warm from the kill. Angel casually notified David that he was back and David explained the argument earlier, Angel laughed it off and continued up the stairs.
'Sy and Mortimer, the fledglings, will need a second feed tonight. Send Willow with them so that she can keep an eye on them, also tell her to sire herself someone,' Angel said as he and Drusilla disappeared back into his room. David found the vampires in question and let them out of the house and relayed their Master's message to Willow. Willow smiled and led the young charges in the direction that had not been hunted in that night, better safe than staked.
Buffy and Raven jumped onto Spirit Gale's back in unison, both were ready to start their evening patrol. As the city rolled beneath them Buffy's thoughts drifted to Wesley, Willow and Xander, she mourned for Xander and Wesley, and silently promised herself for the zillionth time that she would save Willow. Raven was strangely silent, she's concentrating I guess, Buffy thought. Suddenly Buffy felt the Pegasus get lower and land. She looked around and saw that she was in a park, the apple crisp air smelt of cut grass and night blooming flowers and it wafted pleasantly to her nose threatening to make her sneeze. She demounted after Raven who had already drawn her rapier.
'What is it?' Buffy whispered as Spirit Gale snorted softly. Raven did not reply but disappeared into the dense undergrowth. Buffy's heart rate increased in anticipation. Finally Raven re-emerged and leapt back onto Spirit Gale's back a disgusted look on her face.
'Jump on,' Raven told her, Buffy did so then gave the back of Raven's head a questioning look. 'Bodies,' Raven explained, 'three boys. They had not long been dead.'
'Vampires?' Buffy asked, dreading the answer. Raven nodded, Buffy got the impression that it had not been pretty but that Raven had seen far worse.
'A male and a female.'
'How can you tell?' Buffy asked suddenly curious.
'The size of the bite marks,' Raven replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Buffy frowned slightly as she felt the ground drop from beneath them as the mighty Pegasus's muscles rippled beneath her legs and its giant wings unfurled. 'We're close, Buffy,' Raven said as they headed away from the park.
Angel growled when the door to his room opened without warning. The vampire he had recognised earlier as Forbidden strolled rudely into the chamber and casually vamped out.
'I am Forbidden,' he said in a deep voice a look of grim determination was set like granite on his face, 'I am the Master.' Drusilla moved to let Angel stand up. Angel looked the slightly shorter vampire in his green eyes and laughed in his face.
'You've got to be kidding me,' he said smiling, as he looked the vampire over, 'you, have come to challenge me.' Drusilla sensed trouble and silently rose to help her sire if he needed it, Angel turned slightly and motioned for her to sit down, she complied, expectation running through her body.
'Yes,' the younger vampire replied purpose in his eyes, his mind on his prize.
'Oh give me a break,' Angel said as he sat back down next to Drusilla who curled her fingers through his hair and nipped his neck. Forbidden growled.
'I will make a better leader than you,' the vampire alleged, 'will you stand down or do I have to fight you?' A crowd had gathered in the hall below and on the stairs drawn like ants to a picnic by the commotion. Angel sighed and stood up and resumed his full height.
'Come on then as I have better things to be doing,' Angel said as he smiled suggestively at Drusilla. Drusilla stabbed the air with her claws and growled quietly. With a ferocious snarl the younger, inexperienced vampire attacked. Angel easily dodged and blocked the first blows the fledgling rained down on him, getting a feel for his opponent. Then Angel delivered a vicious roundhouse kick that sent the vampire flying into a wall, the crowd cheered. Angel then walked casually over and picked up the vampire with one hand he held the squirming vampire like a worm on a hook a foot off the floor. The desperate vampire tried to get down by punching and kicking but unfortunately none of the blows connected. The young vampire started to panic, bile rose in his throat and the realisation that he might actually loose against the superiorly skilled vampire dawned on him. Angel dropped Forbidden and let him fall to the floor. Angel laughed as the vampire hauled himself off the floor painfully and threw a left hook at Angel's chin; Angel grabbed the hand and brought the arm down across his raised knee, snapping it like a twig. The vampire screamed in blinding agony. 'Is that all? Have you quite finished making what ever point you were attempting to make yet?' Angel asked as the swearing vampire cradled his shattered arm. Sweat poured down his face and dripped into his eyes like an oily river, he blinked it away and realised that Angel had not even gotten warmed up yet. Forbidden stood up and kicked Angel between the legs then got down low and kicked Angel's legs out from beneath him while he was off balance. The horde went silent. Angel crashed to the floor and flinched when he tasted the metallic twang of blood in his mouth. He was on his feet in a second; he punched the vampire square in the jaw connecting and dislocating it with a satisfying crunch. Forbidden howled in pain, he knew that if he surrendered he would be shamed then dusted where he stood but if he continued to fight at least he would not die a coward. He saw his prize slip out of his grasp as he raised his good arm a fraction of a second too late and Angel punched him in the nose, shattering the cartilage, blood poured down his face from his destroyed nose and his lip split. Angel smiled and punched the weakening vampire hard in the ribs shattering each one his fist came into contact with. He noticed Louisa enter the room as he savagely kicked Forbidden in the head with enough force to snap the neck but Forbidden was still moving - it would take a complete decapitation to dust him so for now it was just agony. The thrashing Forbidden reminded Angel of a spider with all its legs pulled off. Louisa calmly handed Angel a sharp wooden stake and Angel swiftly skewered Forbidden like a vampire kebab, he instantly turned to dust and the crowd cheered. Louisa smiled and Drusilla clapped. Louisa quietly left the room as Angel shut the door again and returned to Drusilla who smiled up at him.
'Silly little birdie thought he could fly but the Angel tiger came and gobbled him up before he could sing,' Drusilla said as she ran her fingers over Angel's body, 'did the birdie peck you?' She asked. Angel smiled and kissed her.
'I'm fine Dru,' he said as she nibbled his ear. He grazed her neck with his razor fangs and tasted the iron of her blood, and then they kissed.
Willow, Sy and Mortimer slipped silently into the crowded bar and separated. The stench of alcohol, mould, smoke, sweat, and urine in the shabby pealing residence was over powering. Willow looked around the place; the once pretty floral wallpaper was now yellowed and had shrunk. In places it was green with mould and it was blemished with bumps caused by the damp, in other places it was peeling away from the shabby walls in long strips like burnt skin. The once white ceiling was now yellowed like old teeth – the result of years of exposure to tobacco, and other kinds of smoke – and was tastefully garnished with dust long abandoned cobwebs. The once burgundy carpet was now a sickly washed purple, peppered with the dark stains of spilt alcohol, urine, vomit, and blood. Willow walked over to the bar and lent on the battered and stained wooden counter. She tapped her fingers on the wood as she waited for the bar man – a sweat bathed, hairy, potbellied little man in his fifties with more warts and skin blemishes than you could count, and a love bite the size of Gibraltar – to waddle his way over to her and throw her a flat yellowish liquid in a stained, lipstick smeared glass. He then thrust a grubby, leathery, yellow fist in front of her face, mumbled the extortionate price at her and waited impatiently for her to hand over the change. He curled his chubby fingers around the coins enclosing them in his sweaty palm and waddled back off to the ancient cash register. Willow turned her back on the bar and scanned the greasy customers; an old man with long oily hair that draped limply over his shoulders from underneath a battered brown leather fisher's hat full of filthy feathery flies was sitting with his whore in a far corner she was fishing a card from one of her suspenders. A grossly obese man with long white hair that hung in rat's tails from his flaky scalp sat at another of the battered benches. He had his back to her and was talking to someone who was unsurprisingly hidden from view behind the man's bulk. He raised an arm to brush the tendrils of his hair behind his scabby, multiply pierced ear, revealing a sweat patch that has stained his baggy violet bowling shirt. The ends of his hair, Willow noticed, seamed to have been dipped randomly in pink and purple ink and blended well with his shirt. He hauled his bulk from the wooden bench that creaked in protest revealing a pair of tight white pants and a slim bored looking boy. The boy flicked his dark floppy fringe out of his forest green eyes and looked around the tavern. He looked out of place in his baggy blue and green tee shirt, scuffed shoes, and baggy canvas coloured pants, by his feet lay a skateboard – the missing link. He gripped the empty glass in front of him with both hands and fiddled with it absently. His large companion waddled over to Willow and squeezed in next to her, Willow wrinkled her nose as the smell of week old sweat hit her like a sledge hammer. He grunted as he leaned against the ancient wood, or was it the protest of the beams? Willow asked herself as he turned his head to look at her, fat hung from his jowls and chins reminding Willow of a bulldog, his eyes, Willow noticed for the first time now that they were in such close proximity, were different colours; one was a pea green and the other an electric blue. He opened his mouth to speak and Willow was overcome by the smell of alcohol that escaped his maw.
'So Princess,' he slurred as he leaned closer to her, 'how much is you chargin' then?' Willow rolled her eyes, the cesspit of a man did not wait for her to reply he just continued, Willow noticed the boy's obvious embarrassment, 'Me name's Cameo,' he said as he thumped his chest, Willow expected him to say 'ug' next and grab a club and start beating people up while drumming his breast. 'Cameo Kata. What's your name?' He asked as he raised an arm to put it around Willow's shoulder, Willow was once again over powered with the stench of sweat; she shrunk away from him slightly. The boy got up and grabbed the man by the arm; he gave Cameo a harsh look of embarrassment and anger though it was lost on him.
'I am so sorry,' he apologised as he attempted to drag Cameo's bulk away from Willow but Cameo passed out and fell to the floor like a stone. Willow smiled slightly as the boy tried to lift Cameo's immensity up from the worn carpet.
'That's alright,' Willow said, 'I'm Willow, what's your name?'
'I'm Lucious,' the boy replied, his fringe falling once again into his dazzling eyes.
'Is he your father?' Willow asked as she bent down to help the boy lift Cameo back to the bench. The boy shook his head slightly and smiled for the first time that evening.
'No, he's my brother,' he laughed as if the concept of Cameo being his father was hilarious.
'Would you like my friends and I to help you and Cam get home?' Willow asked smiling a little for effect. The boy brightened at the idea.
'So long as you don't mind,' Lucious said as he smiled shyly at Willow. Willow forced a smile back and called Sy and Mortimer over.
'Lucious this is Sy and this is Mortimer,' Willow said as she introduced her charges. Sy and Mortimer picked up Cameo and Willow took Lucious's hand after he had bent down to retrieve his skateboard. The five of them left the pub's dull interior and started in the direction Lucious gave them. When they were out of sight of the pub Willow grabbed Lucious' arm harder and pulled him close to her morphing in front of his saucer eyes, she clamped a hand down on his mouth hard and twisted his head to that he could see Sy and Mortimer drain the unconscious Cameo. Lucious twitched like a deer caught in headlights and kicked out at Willow, his skateboard clattered to the ground and he tried to cry out but his throat and mouth felt as dry as the Sahara Desert. Willow laughed and lowered her fangs to his neck. Lucious's instinct was screaming at him to escape. In a blind panic he bit down hard on Willow's finger and tasted blood. Willow loosened her grip temporally allowing Lucious to escape; his heart thrumming like a humming bird's, he grabbed his skateboard and fled as fast as his shaky legs could take him away from the monsters that had murdered his brother and towards the people in the tavern. Willow swore and started to run after him, Lucious could hear her gaining on him and every muscle screamed out in pain, but every cell screamed for him to keep running. He imagined he could feel her almost on his heals, he yelled as loud as his lungs could manage. He felt her claws grapple for the fabric of his shirt, just as he was about to pass out from fear and exhaustion he felt his feet drop from beneath him and he heard a strange whooshing noise and a gentle breeze as feathers brushed against his cheek. He caught a glimpse of a blinding brilliant white light like burning aluminium and heard the demon curse. Then his brain finally gave up and his world faded to black.
Raven made sure the boy was secure with Spirit Gale then flipped from his back to land next to Buffy, her sword ready in her hand. She was aware that Spirit Gale had returned to his wolf state as Umbra and was now fiercely guarding the human boy like a terrier might its bone. Raven immediately advanced towards the two male vampires who had dropped their kill on the ground and were now advancing towards Buffy and Raven. The third vampire had run off somewhere, Raven quickly glanced around the dark street but spotted no one. Excitement rose up like a cobra ready to strike inside her, and Raven gripped her weapon tighter in her hand in anticipation of the kill. Buffy calmly fished a stake out of her back pocket and raised it expertly. At the same time both advanced. Raven felt the adrenaline rush through her like a steam train and harnessed the power it gave her, she subconsciously noticed that Buffy had chosen her target and advanced towards the second of the vampires, he smiled and his predatory yellow eyes flashed at her from beneath a protruding brow, he smiled at her baring his fangs.
'You've got a bit of blood on your chin there,' Raven said as she prepared to deliver the fatal bow that would sever his head from his body, the line had the desired effect and the vampire stopped for a fraction of a second his attention on removing the fictitious spot of blood from his chin. Raven made her move, she spun to gain extra momentum and sliced cleanly through the vampire's neck as though is was made of butter, the head was dust before it hit the ground. In one fluid movement she turned to see whether Buffy required help and saw that Buffy was about to drive the stake through the vampire.
'Sy!' The vampire shouted out in protest as he watched his brethren crumble to dust like a dry biscuit. Buffy smiled.
'You want to join him?' Buffy asked as she rammed the wood through the blue haired vampire's ribcage and into his un-beating heart. The vampire gave the slayer a look of outrage then exploded in a shower of dust. Buffy gave a slight cough and brushed off her clothes. Raven smiled at the slayer's success and sheathed her sword then she walked over to the corpse. She shook her head slightly causing her hair to temporally mask her face.
'He's dead,' she said, a look of disgust marring her delicate features. Buffy sighed. 'Did you see where the other vamp went?' Raven asked. Buffy shook her head. Something scraped the floor behind Raven and she whirled around. The dark haired boy had woken up and had gotten shakily to his feet. The boy's eyes moistened and his subtle lips formed a perfect pout.
'D…dead?' He managed to stutter, his jade eyes seemed to plead that Raven had for some strange reason been lying. Raven's heart ached for the boy, knowing she had killed the dead man's murderers seemed an inadequate compromise.
'Do you have anywhere to go? Anyone who looks after you?' Buffy finally asked, kindly covering Raven's unusual awkwardness. The boy shook his head causing his dark hair to flop into his eyes.
'Cam's my guardian,' the boy told them, he seemed unable to accept the fact that his custodian was lying still on the pavement drained of his vital fluids. Buffy smiled sadly at the boy.
'You'd better come with us until we can sort something out,' Raven said snapping out of her trance. The boy nodded numbly.
'What's your name?' Buffy asked so she could distract the boy whilst Umbra transformed into a standard horse.
'My name's Lucious,' the boy sniffed. Buffy and Raven introduced themselves and then helped the boy onto Spirit Gale's back. Then Raven did something Buffy had not been expecting; she suddenly started chanting something in a foreign language, her eyes flashed yellow and a strange white glow surrounded the boy then he slumped forward, his head resting peacefully against Spirit Gale's neck. For a fraction of a second Buffy thought that Raven had killed Lucious then she noticed that the boy just appeared to be in a deep sleep, she breathed a sigh of relief and turned to confront Raven. Raven's eyes were back to normal and she appeared to be drained of energy but otherwise she seemed all right. Before Buffy could query Raven, Raven leapt onto Spirit Gale's back and Spirit Gale's wings burst like flowers from the tiny buds that had appeared on the horse's back in front of Buffy's eyes.
'I have temporally put the boy to sleep so that we can fly back to Cordelia's,' Raven explained. Buffy nodded, she had a look of surprise on her face.
'I didn't realise you could do that,' Buffy said softly as she mounted the Pegasus and wrapped her arms around Raven's waist, Raven had the boy held securely in front of her.
'There's a lot you don't know Buffy,' Raven answered quietly, 'About me, about the world, about people.' Buffy could not see Raven's expression so she did not know whether she was joking or not but something inside her told Buffy that she was deadly serious.
Below the warrior, the slayer, the boy, and the Pegasus a new vampire got shakily to his feet. A voice boomed out from the dark and rang in his ears.
'Hello? Do you need help there sonny?' The newborn vampire shifted his bulk slowly to face the man. The vampire shook his head to try and stop the ringing in his now sensitive ears and looked the man directly in his ancient wrinkled face. The old man gave a startled gasp and his heart gave out. Before he could fall to the ground the vampire grabbed him and satisfied his hunger. He then dropped the empty shell of the man to the floor; the man's hat rolled from its owner's greasy head and came to a stop in the filthy gutter, the once brightly coloured fishing flies now dyed crimson with their owner's blood. The vampire smiled. He sniffed the air then froze. Someone was watching him.
Willow was frightened for the first time since she had woken from the dark kiss, the Master would not be happy if she told him she had been careless enough to get the two new vampires dusted by Buffy and the strange girl with the shape shifter. She had been fortunate enough to escape un-dead, she had no fear of being discovered, a simple cloaking spell insured that. Her attention was caught suddenly by the sounds of someone large getting to their feet. Her dead heart figuratively skipped a beat as the realisation dawned on her; Sy and Mortimer had changed Cameo! She was about to make herself known to the fledgling when the old man from the pub appeared, he had come out of the pub to see what had been making all the noise outside, his mistake, Willow thought as she watched the new vampire's instinct kick into play and he drank from his first mortal. When he had finished with the old man she emerged from the bushes, countered her cloaking spell and walked over to him, she did not know what reaction to expect from the vampire and a shiver of excitement ran down her spine like an electrified sinking stone.
'Hello Cameo,' she said as quietly as possible; she knew all too well that when you first awaken your senses are on over drive. The vampire brightened slightly, he could smell that she was one of his kind. 'I'm going to take you back to the lair to meet our magnificent Master now,' she said as she took his large, grubby hand and led him back towards the house. Dawn was pulling at her, draining her, she really did not fancy a good sunbathe so she hurried the young vampire along and taught him the basics on the way, she had always been a sucker for education.
Louisa calmly opened her chamber door and walked in to find an anxious Shock. She smiled then sat down next to him on the bed in silence. Anticipation and impatience bubbled up inside him and he stood up and whirled around to face her.
'Well?' He asked after a few minutes. Louisa was loving this. She finally had something he needed; information that currently gave her the upper hand, the edge, whatever. She smiled; basking in the light she was currently in, enjoying it way too much. His tone rose. 'Well?' Louisa sighed. She knew that she had to hand over the news eventually.
'He staked Forbidden,' she said simply, enjoying his frustration. He growled.
'And?' His voice became a mere husky whisper. Louisa dropped the façade, she had pushed him far enough, he was dangerous now. Just as she liked him.
'I believe we have been given a second chance, but it was hard to tell because he seemed rather pre-occupied with Morticia up there.' Shock smiled that smile and in one rough movement grabbed her arm and flung her against the wall pinning her arms by the wrists either side of her head. He growled.
'Is that all?' He asked darkly. Louisa smiled and nodded.
'Would I lie to you?' She replied simply, fluttering her camel like eyelashes seductively at him. Shock smiled back and kissed her passionately, letting her arms go as he did so.
'That's why I love you honey.'
'So do you think Angel will trust us again now?' Louisa asked as she slid her now free arms around Shock's muscled torso. 'More than that psycho? Enough to let us get someone to eat?'
'Lou enough with the questions, ok?' He said as he kissed her than moved away. Thought darkened his face as he turned back around to face her.
'Did you get the slaves to kill anyone?' Louisa asked, she knew the subject of death would break his Angel related dark cloud that was flying low and polluting his mind like smog. The question had the desired affect and the veil lifted.
'Yes,' Shock replied, his smile briefly returned and he knelt down in front of the bed.
'Good,' Louisa replied as she slid her soft, silky arms around his neck and kissed him on the forehead. The tension in his shoulders dissolved away and he visibly relaxed. 'So, where do we go from here?'
'We wait and see,' Shock replied simply as he melted like an ice cube in Louisa's embrace. Shock suddenly snapped out of it, rose, and strolled casually to the door. Louisa frowned.
'Where are you going now?' Louisa asked frustration creased her features and she un-harnessed her vampire side. Shock merely laughed.
'Lou, I'm going to see Angel, and I might create a little 'accident' for our Goliath,' Shock said, air quoting his words to get the point across to Louisa. Louisa frowned at the Bible reference and pouted slightly then brightened when he smiled at her, his smile suggested so many fun things to do. She nodded and watched him leave the room. She sat in the dark for a while and wondered what Shock could be planning for Angel and David. Suddenly she got Shock's joke and her laughter rang through the house like the church bells that always accompanied a funeral.
In the lightening graveyard another statue joined the ranks of the dead, his unblemished youth forever sealed in stone. The two ancient hags with snake hair sat near by and gazed into the crystal ball before them like children do televisions. Both were talking to each other in a long dead language still taught in some expensive single sex schools. Both cackled at something that the one had seen, and both knew their master's wishes. They were to summon a creature for their master, a one of a kind not seen on earth since their time when the warrior Perseus had slain their sister. A monster that had been unkillable and had been banished from Earth and imprisoned for eternity by Zeus. Their Master knew how to release the beast, and they were to raise it.
Umbra followed the slayer and his mistress up the stairs to Cordelia's apartment; the boy was draped across Raven's arms like a rag doll. Giles frowned slightly at the boy and raised a questioning eyebrow in their general direction.
'His name's Lucious,' Buffy explained as Raven set him down next to Cordelia on her sofa. 'His guardian was killed by vamps and the poor kid has nowhere to go,' Buffy explained as she ran a frustrated hand through vampire-dust streaked hair. 'Raven and I had a dustathon but one of the vamps escaped. We didn't see what the bloodsucker looked like. Both the vamps we dusted were newbies, and that's not all. Raven found three bodies in the park. She said they were killed by two vamps, probably male and female, and they couldn't have been the vamps we dusted because the kills were new and the vamps we dusted were too far away for the vamps to have gotten there so quickly.' She flopped down next to the still form of Lucious on the couch and sighed. 'They're spreading Giles.'
'And the boy,' Giles said, indicating the sleeping boy on the couch, 'he's alive yes?'
'Yep. Raven did some sort of freaky cool mojo stuff on him to make him sleep while we flew here so we didn't freak him further with a flying horse.' Buffy explained.
'Cool mojo stuff?' Giles queried as he looked at Raven who looked drained and had flopped down on the arm of Cordelia's sofa.
'L…like magick stuff?' Tara asked brightening slightly at the subject topic. Cordelia raised an eyebrow. Anya frowned at the group.
'Didn't you guys know she could do that?' Anya asked with a look of surprise on her face. Everyone threw her blank looks so she continued. Umbra raised his mighty head off his paws as if to challenge her about how much she knew. Anya continued, 'She's been around for centuries,' the ex-demon explained, 'longer than me. The Powers the Be made her a warrior and granted her and the wolf immortality.' Giles' eyebrows rose to the roof and Buffy's mouth dropped to the floor.
'Centuries?' Cordelia said, a look of disbelief on her face. 'She said she was seventeen.' Buffy stood up and placed her hands firmly on her hips in front of Raven, blocking a possible escape route.
'Explain yourself,' she demanded. She expected Raven to deny it and maybe make a bolt for the door but Raven merely looked into the slayer's eyes, a calm expression on her face. She sighed.
'My real name is Chamaray Kieahrieah,' she said quietly, she broke the gaze and looked down at Umbra, seeking comfort. 'My father left my mother and I when I was five because he suspected my mother of practising black magick. My mother brought me up on her own and I was proposed to marry the Barron's eldest son, Gardel.
'My mother was killed by a vampire when I was fifteen. I took after the demon and foolishly went into the woods to avenge her death. Instead I found the corpses of a she wolf and her pups, one survived,' she gestured to Umbra then continued, 'then I was attacked. But not by the vampire that had killed my mother, but by Gardel. I staked the thing that had taken over the body of the man I had loved after he had told me that his sire was my father. My father had killed my mother that night and had later massacred everyone in the village. He had been staked by one of the village men, then Gardel had repaid him by in turn silenced him.
'I fled the empty village gathering supplies and my father's sword. The pup followed me, so I named him Umbra. Just before the next nightfall we reached the next village, a man my age took me through his abandoned village and to his house where his sister, Grace, and two other men were seated around a fire. His name was Tully, one man was called Fresco and was Tully's sister's husband, the other man was called Marcus, he was Fresco's younger brother and was slightly younger than me. While I ate I started to fall in love again and my broken heart began to piece itself together. I should have noticed that they didn't eat. That I was the only one, bar Umbra, that kept close to the fire for warmth. They told me how their village had been culled, like mine, and I found comfort in their words. I slept. I woke to find four vampires staring at me through the dying flames. I managed to stake one, then I was over powered, and Umbra, who had fought so hard being only a pup, lay dead on the flagstones. I awaited the fatal bite, and I wanted it. I wanted it over,' she looked into Buffy's eyes, 'the next thing I knew the vampire were dust and Umbra was alive. Then I was in a white room, pure white, so white, that it burnt my eyes. A voice spoke to me from the white, a deep, calm voice. It told me that I had been chosen. It made me immortal and accelerated Umbra's growth then likewise cursed him. It enhanced my limited magick that I had learned from my mother and created Spirit Gale. It cursed me to live forever with Umbra as my sole companion. If I made friends I would be fated to watch them grow old and die. I detached myself from mortals and concentrated on helping to wipe out evil where the slayer couldn't reach. To cleanse areas and help when the slayer was the other side of the world. To help the slayer at her times of great need. To watch while others lived and died,' Raven broke off, her voice full of self-loathing. The room was silent. Giles had removed his glasses and was now apparently, awkwardly examining the carpet. Cordelia and Tara had both been numbed into silence. Buffy softened and put her hand gently on Raven's shoulder; she did not flinch away. Buffy realised then how much they had in common. Raven looked up. 'You understand,' she said simply. Buffy did not know what to say so she simply nodded.
'Come on,' Anya said breaking the silence, 'immortality is not that bad. Cheer up.' Cordelia frowned at Anya. 'When people are upset you are supposed to make them feel better,' she said simply. Raven smiled slightly at Anya thus causing Anya to beam like a lighthouse. Giles coughed faintly and his glasses resumed their proper position on the bridge of his nose. Buffy and Raven hugged, their bond had strengthened, Raven had finally dropped the barricades that she had built around her heart over the centuries. Umbra suddenly got to his feet and crossed over to Lucious alerting the group to the fact that the boy was stirring so they should censor their discussions. Buffy and Raven broke their embrace and turned to face the rather confused boy.
'Where am I?' He asked; the slight quiver in his voice betrayed the calmness he was trying to portray. Giles, as the eldest – excepting Umbra and Raven – decided to break the news to the boy about his brother in case he had forgotten in shock.
'Raven and Buffy found you and brought you here. You were attacked…'
'By vampires. I know.' The boy said his green eyes seemed to glow. Giles' eyes widened in surprise and he looked at Buffy.
'What?' She said in surprise, 'We didn't tell him!'
'My pa was killed by a vampire,' Lucious explained relaxing now that the previous events had come back to him and the fact that the people with him were friends. Tara made a little 'oh,' with her mouth and Buffy and Raven's jaws dropped to the floor with identical surprise. The boy already knew.
Spike was so bored of listening to what Angel and Drusilla were doing, that he was actually trying to distract himself by listening to a rather attractive female vampire he had only just realised existed, natter on about how she used to actually save up money to buy perfume. Spike nodded in the relevant places even though he was not actually listening to a word she was saying, a talent he had developed up over the years. Suddenly he could no longer be bothered even to do that, he was far more interested in what Shock was doing. He totally tuned out the woman and focused his attention on what the big poof was up to. The female vampire demanded an explanation to why he was no longer paying attention to her which he only half heard and to which he replied by telling her in no uncertain terms to shove off. She growled at him and walked off in the direction of hopefully more interested folk. Spike gave her departure as much attention as he gave dust and frowned as Shock climbed the stairs a plan marked his face. Spike hated Shock almost as much as he hated Angel and he knew Shock was up to something. If Angel had been a friend then Spike would have given him some warning, but Angel was not his friend, so Spike was just contented to watch. Hopefully it would be something entertaining and hopefully they would both kill each other. Spike continued his muted viewing. He smiled.
Lucious frowned slightly at the reactions of his saviours and their friends.
'You don't believe me,' he said sadly, 'you're just like them.'
'Them?' Asked Anya, her pitch too happy for the subject topic.
'The council, they tried to take me away from Cam when Pa was killed,' the boy explained.
'We do believe you,' Buffy said quietly as she sat next to Lucious, 'we were just surprised you knew is all.' The boy nodded and smiled slightly.
'You believe me?' He said, surprise evident in his eyes.
'Yes,' Buffy said as Lucious bent forward to scratch Umbra behind the ear.
'What kind of dog is he?' He asked Buffy. Buffy looked at Raven and Raven smiled slightly.
'He's a wolf,' Raven said slowly prepared for a bad reaction off the boy. Lucious simply smiled.
'What's his name?'
'Umbra,' Raven said taking a liking to the boy but at the same time keeping her guard up.
'Shadow,' the boy murmured quietly. Giles looked up.
'Do you speak Latin?' He asked Lucious as he watched the boy continue to run his fingers through Umbra's thick fur.
'Yes,' the boy replied as he looked at Giles, 'my pa sent me to a private boy's school in Britain before we moved here because of his work. I also learnt Greek, some Spanish, German, a little Welsh, and French.' Buffy was impressed and looked up at Giles. Her watcher nodded and gave her a look that was anything but surprised.
'Ok,' she said smiling slightly, 'and I get stuck with English.' Lucious laughed and turned to Giles.
'Which part of England are you from?' He asked. Giles was about to reply when Raven stopped them.
'I'm sorry to stop this 'getting to know' you session but we have a missing friend, and a group of vampires, not to mention the gorgons,' she said. Buffy nodded and stood up.
'We've run out of things to research,' Buffy said taking command of the vessel U.S. Slay Machine, all she needed was a few cans of hairspray and she could have been Captain Janeway – she had too much hair to be Piccard or Sisko. Suddenly Cordelia stood up an 'I have an idea' look on her face. Buffy expected a flashing light bulb to appear over her head, or at least the word 'idea' in flashing neon letters 6 foot high.
'Maybe it's what Wolfram and Heart brought back in that box that is doing this to Angel!' She exclaimed. Buffy made her 'huh?' face and Raven looked equally confused. Buffy realised that the only one in the room who actually had a clue what Cordelia was on about was Cordy.
'Wolfram and Heart?' Buffy asked repeating the strange sounding combination of words.
'Box?' Anya chimed in. Tara simply frowned.
'Cordelia,' Giles said impatiently, 'what have a group of animals and a box got to do with Angel?'
'Wolfram and Hart is this evil law firm that hired Faith to kill Angel. A few months ago they conjured up this demon that made me see continuous visions and they blew up the old office building with Wesley in it. Angel fought the demon and almost stopped a ritual but one lawyer completed it and brought something back in a box. Then Angel cut off his hand.'
'His own hand?' Anya asked mesmerised by the story.
'No, the lawyer's,' Cordelia said getting impatient.
'Well I suppose we could certainly search for entities that alter minds,' Giles said moving in the direction of some books, most were Wesley's but some were his own that he had been using earlier.
'And the reason we didn't do this in the first place is?' Buffy asked, anger in her eyes.
'We just thought Angel had lost it,' Anya said simply.
Jaimee Glover smiled as she walked with her prize stallion of a boy friend, TJ O'Connell, towards the ice-cream parlour. All the girls in school had been so jealous when TJ, the most attractive guy in school, asked her out. To be honest it had not really been a surprise, she was the most popular girl after all. Jaimee threaded her arm through his as they walked in a comfortable silence and soon they arrived at the chosen place. TJ's uncle ran the store so they were hoping for free or at least discount. He put one palm to the slightly misted glass of the swing door and pushed it open with ease, purposely flexing his adequate bicep for her as he did so. Jaimee smiled and walked through the door and into the small shop. She walked over to the frosted ice-cream cabinet and pulled back the door. She scanned the contents of the freezer with her hazel eyes. She felt TJ walk up behind her and slide his arms around her petite waist.
'What do you fancy?' He asked as he followed suit - scanning the products. She raised her hand and made it delve deep into the ice crater of the freezer; it came out a minute later, slightly blue but with a small tub of Haagen-Dazs – chocolate – of course, clenched tightly in her small hand. He smiled. 'My favourite too,' he said as he followed suit and walked her to the counter. His uncle – a rather large, balding man in his mid thirties – walked up to the counter and took a moment to take in who was in his shop. Suddenly he lurched backwards and started uttering some psychobabble about demons and evil things, he held the cross he had been wearing around his neck out as far as it would stretch on its leather thong, directly at his nephew. Jaimee frowned and looked at TJ, this was not what she had had in mind when TJ had said 'Uncle', she had assumed that his uncle would actually like him, not hold up crosses and go postal.
'Teej, what's goin' on?' She asked as TJ's uncle suddenly realised that she was there and started telling her to run and get the hell away from his nephew. A frown caressed her features, as she looked deep into her boyfriend's crystal blue, no, amber eyes. Amber? She saw TJ's true face and screamed. TJ laughed and advanced towards her, he grabbed her roughly then took a long piece of packaging string from the counter and tied her wrists tightly to the door handle of the ice-cream fridge. She struggled and kicked out at him, all the time calling for help, but none came. Her heart appeared to be trying to burst its way out of her chest it was hitting her ribs so hard. He pulled her towards him and sunk his fangs deep into her neck and drank. She felt her life slide away down his throat then suddenly he stopped and bit into his own wrist then pressed it to her mouth, she was forced to swallow, too weak to do anything else, she almost retched. He smiled then advanced towards his uncle. The older man started praying; he knew he was trapped. TJ laughed at the man's pathetic attempt to punch him and merely pulled his uncle to his chest and spun him around to face Jaimee who was now weeping silently in the corner.
'Watch,' he growled softly as he lowered his needle sharp fangs towards his uncle's fleshy throat. Jaimee squeezed her eyes shut and tried to shrink away into nothing, she expected to hear the sound of tearing flesh or a scream or something, there was nothing. Nothing but the smell of burning flesh. Burning flesh? She opened her eyes to find TJ growling at the older man, a cross shape burnt into the skin of his left cheek and the start of one on the top of his lip. His uncle held the cross tightly in his chubby fist and smiled; he pulled down his blue striped shirt collar to reveal a slightly wrinkled cross tattoo each side of his neck. TJ growled. Suddenly the door burst open and a group of mixed coloured youths poured into the parlour. Their leader, a tall dark youth who had shaved his head and was wearing a red headscarf, dark coloured baggy trousers and a shirt smiled at TJ and revealed a loaded crossbow.
'Thought I might find you here,' the crossbow-wielding guy said addressing TJ. TJ growled and backed slowly away until he came up against a wall.
'Gunn,' TJ said simply. Gunn nodded.
'So dog, where's you're crew at?' Gunn asked TJ a smile on his face; 'because rumour has it that you and you're crew's been having themselves a wild ride down town.' TJ looked worried now, well as worried as a scary looking fanged demon could look, Gunn smiled and advanced, 'but I'm guessing you're crew isn't here to save your ass this time 'cause guess what,' Gunn paused and waited for TJ to take a guess. TJ remained silent so Gunn continued. 'Your crew got busted,' TJ remained silent and simply glared at Gunn, hatred in his feral eyes. 'Looks like you's all on your lonesome this time, dog.' Suddenly the girl that one of the youths had been untying punched her saviour in the face and smiled at Gunn.
'Wrong,' she said simply before she vamped out and went for Gunn. TJ smiled. Then there was a twang sound and then something pierced Jaimee through the heart, a few second later she had settled on the floor with her new dust bunny palls. TJ's smile disappeared and he charged at Gunn blindly, before he had even come within a centimetre of the confident youth he had joined his girl. Gunn shook his head slightly and re-holstered his now empty crossbow and turned to smile at the last of his crew – the rest were already taking care of the remaining victim; the owner of the store. Then he followed the last of them out into the night.
Drusilla suddenly moaned and fell to the floor, she raised one shaky hand to her head and groaned. Angel was immediately with her; he cocked his head to the side.
'What do you see Dru?' He asked softly.
'Oooh, Angel!' She moaned as he put an arm over her shoulders. 'He's coming and he drags death by the snaky hair, behind him up the stairs, clunk, clunk, clunk,' she mimed someone dragging a head by the hair up the stairs then stopped mid clunk. 'Shush,' she said putting a long, pale finger to her crimson lips, 'there is a surprise coming, quiet like mice or he'll know.' She got to her feet and swayed slightly. Angel steadied her.
'Who's coming?' He asked his voice husky. Drusilla smiled and outstretched her hand, palm out, at the door. It knocked. Angel frowned and pulled on a shirt then walked to the door, curiosity eating at him. He pulled the door open slowly to reveal the surprise. In the door way stood Shock, he smiled at Angel and walked in. Angel's frown grew and he raised an eyebrow. Shock raised both of his and stood, legs apart and arms folded across his chest, before his sire.
'I heard about Forbidden,' Shock said finally. Drusilla growled softly and moved so that she was behind Angel. Angel touched the tips of his fingers together and nodded.
'Pitty,' Angel said unemotionally, 'he would have made a fine soldier, well distraction actually, for the slayer to battle. I wonder what triggered that off in him? I'm guessing you're here to tell me.' Shock nodded.
'I have a hunch,' he admitted.
'I'm listening,' Angel said in monotone. He was aware that Drusilla appeared to be jigging about behind him and it was distracting Shock a little. Angel smiled inwardly, his face stayed blank.
'One word: David,' Shock said as he unfolded his arms and let them free fall by his sides.
'David?' Angel echoed, 'why do you believe David would convince one of Louisa's sired to take me on?'
'It is so obvious I'm embarrassed to have to tell you,' Shock said as his walked towards the windowsill. He ran a hand down the heavy material of the curtain then tuned back to face the waiting Angel. 'He wants to be Master is all,' Shock said. Angel raised his eyebrows and looked Shock over.
'Really?' Angel asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Shock nodded.
'Fine then,' Shock said as he turned to walk back out of the door, 'don't believe me. I try to help you, even after you suddenly go all 'Shock is not trustworthy' on me for no reason other than Dru turned up out of the blue with one of her bloody visions.' Angel considered Shock's point then nodded.
'I'll talk to David,' he said simply, Shock nodded then left. Angel turned to Drusilla and took her hand. 'Something's coming,' he said quietly. Drusilla smiled.
'It burns but the pain is good and it makes me tingle all over,' she shuddered with pleasure and Angel spun her into his arms. 'The big bad wolf will come, Daddy.'
'I know Dru,' Angel said smiling slightly, 'it always does.'
Willow watched Spike cast off the lovely girl she had had her eye on for the past few minutes and smiled. This was her chance. She walked casually over to the girl and smiled.
'What's your name?' Willow asked smiling at her. The girl smiled back and tossed her light brown waist length hair back over her shoulder.
'Elfin,' she said giggling slightly as if it were a joke.
'I'm Willow,' she said introducing herself. The girl grinned obviously glad to have someone to talk to and lowered her voice so that only Willow could hear.
'What's up with that guy?' Elfin asked, indicating Spike. Willow looked the Brit over; he appeared to be watching something on the stairs. Willow turned back to her new friend, so not interested in Spike. She shrugged. 'I heard he is neutered like a puppy or something and can't even bite people.'
'That bit is true,' Willow said as she took Elfin by the arm and led her over into an unoccupied corner. Elfin giggled.
'I've never tried this before,' she said simply. Willow smiled, that meant she was game.
'Don't worry,' Willow reassured her, 'I'll be gentle, in the beginning anyway.'
The elder gorgon smiled crookedly at her sister revealing a few brown teeth. Her sister smiled back and held out her hand to her sister. Her sister took the leathery hand in her own and both closed their eyes. Their snakes stopped slithering and lay down peacefully over their shoulders. They were silent, matching the statues surrounding them; the only noise was that of the waking dawn birds. Then something went through them. The snakes shot straight up as if they had been given an electric shock and the Gorgons' eyes flashed open. When they spoke their voices were one and then in Latin they started to chant.
'Pax, in silentium ex nihil non move,
Gesti, factia, et menses desiste.
Colligo pulvis tumulo virum mortuorum
Ut ponere infecundi alvi maledictum.
In hunc pulvum obtestor larva
Ut Frequentere columna sudi victima.
Adduco rem confusum, Pando dolor solus,
Ostendate tormentum et cruciatus.
Condemne omnia qui repugnent propsitum tuum
Frigidus frigus et immotus ad oblivium.
Nihil sed eversio factis suis,
Accumule miseria et angor ex tergis suis.
Venite, surgite, penes elementi quattor,
Congregete ad me ab pone et prior.
In harum veneficiae molam miscete et confundite,
Ut labores adamas propositi mei iuvete.
Ovam Tartari obscurissimi Venite, assurgate,
Resone potenem tintinnabulum tuum, Vescumstalle.
Libere carcerem tuum, praescribe gressum tuum,
Venite ad nostrum cum celeritam et impetum.
Infans mali, nostris imperete,
Ad manum mancum nostrum assurgate et venite.
Venite, surgite, penes elementi quattor,
Congregete ad me ab pone et prior.'
As they finished they brought the closed fists of their free hands to their lips and blew the crimson coloured power through a hole they made with their fists and into the eerily still dawn. The wind caught the powder and spun it in the breeze, then suddenly there was a flash of red lightning and it hit the powder causing it to spin faster and seemingly melt in mid air. It started to take form. The gorgons broke their trance and watched with interest. Their spell had worked; they had freed the Vescumstalle. They smiled.
Shock walked down the stairs humming softly to himself and drumming his fingers along the splintered, flaky banister as he went. He opened his chamber door and walked into the room. Louisa sat before him on their bed examining the ends of her hair, she looked up when he walked in and smiled. Shock sat down and closed his eyes. Louisa sat and watched, fascinated. He held his arms out, palms up to the ceiling and waited. There was nothing in the world but him. He felt the world drop away from beneath him. He slowly opened his eyes and looked around. He was sitting in the dark but he could see. All around him stood statues of stone, their faces contorted in perpetual agony and fear. He turned around and strained to hear. He listened to the breeze until he was inside it, until it carried him across the hill of stone, until he was the breeze. Then he heard them. They were chanting in Latin, but he could understand it perfectly. He smiled as he listened, translating as they went.
'Peace, be still, in the silence of naught,
Cease all action deed and thought.
I gather the dust from dead man's tombs
To lay the hex of barren wombs.
Into this powder I conjure the ghost
To spook the victim from pillar to post.
I cause upheaval, I spread only woe,
Let all torment and torture show.
Damn all who oppose thy will
To oblivion and the cold chill still.
Naught but destruction for their acts
Be piled misery and pain upon their backs.
Come, arise, powers of the elements four,
Assemble to me from behind and before.
Mix and mingle in this witch's mill,
To aid the workings of my adamant will.
Come, rise up spawn of darkest hell,
Vescumstalle ring thy mighty bell.
Free thy jail, set thy pace,
Come to us with speed and haste.
Childe of evil, ours to command,
Rise up, come to our crippled hand.
Come, arise, powers of the elements four,
Assemble to me from behind and before.'
Suddenly red lighting flooded his vision and a creature started to materialise in front of him. His smile darkened as he started his ascent out of the vision.
The dawn sky darkened as Gunn and his crew headed back towards their pad after taking the old man they had saved to the hospital. Gunn looked up and frowned. Everything was too quiet.
'Yo! Guys!' He called, 'looks like a storm's comin' you know.' Some of the group looked up and checked the surrounding area out. One of the youths rubbed his bare arms anxiously, something was wrong. Suddenly a bolt of red lightning flashed against the night sky illuminating the street with an eerie glow of thick blood coloured light. Some of the youths jumped others looked at each other anxiously. Gunn's frown deepened as the sickly glow faded. He turned to his crew, 'I'm goin' to see a friend see if he knows what's goin' on, I'll catch up with y'all later,' he said as he turned and headed in the direction of Cordelia's apartment.
'That the vampire with a soul?' One asked him as the rest started in the direction of their shelter. Gunn smiled and nodded. 'Watch your back, dog.'
'Don't I always?' He replied as his friend returned the smile, and then they walked off in different directions. If anyone knew what the freaky light show was all about Angel would.
Cordelia glanced up from the book that Giles had given her to read through, she swore the pages were made of dust. She massaged her throbbing temples with her fingertips and closed her eyes; thankfully this headache was nowhere near as bad as her vision related ones. She sighed then cast her eyes out of the window. It's so quiet out there, Cordelia realised. Suddenly a violent flash of crimson slashed the night sky. She yelped slightly in shock and fell onto her back in her rush to get away from the window. Giles, Buffy and Raven were immediately at her side.
'What's wrong, Cordy?' Buffy asked. Cordelia took a deep breath then smiled lopsidedly.
'Nothing. I just was startled by the strange of red lightening,' she said sitting up. Anya suddenly freaked, and Giles' eyes apparently wanted out of his skull.
'What?' Buffy asked her watcher. Giles started to stutter something then there was a sharp knock on the door. Cordelia got up and walked to the door. Raven was immediately behind her with Umbra.
'Who's there?' Cordelia called uneasily.
'It's Gunn,' came the reply. Cordelia waved Raven off.
'He's a friend,' she explained as she opened the door. 'Hey.' Gunn smiled and walked into the apartment.
'Yo. Is Angel in? I need to talk to him about some freaky red lightning business goin' on in the 'hood.' Gunn looked around the place, dark eyes searching for Angel then he turned back to Cordelia.
'Gunn,' Cordy said leading him over to the sofa, 'there's something wrong with Angel.' Gunn frowned.
'We think someone's put a spell on him or something.'
'Oh,' he replied. 'Where's English?'
'Wesley got turned to stone by the gorgons Angel was supposed to have killed,' Cordelia said slowly obviously still shaken up by it.
'Gorgons. As in the freaky snake haired looking creatures?' Gunn asked, slightly shocked as he looked around the room again and suddenly realised it was full of people he did not know. He raised his eyebrows and scanned each in turn. Buffy raised a hand and waved slightly. Gunn nodded.
'Oh,' Cordelia said then pointed to everyone in turn naming them, 'everybody this is Gunn, Angel helped him fight some vampires and Gunn helps us sometimes, and Gunn this is everybody. Specifically, Buffy, Umbra, Giles, Tara, Anya, Lucious, and Raven.' Gunn's eyes rested on Raven and he smiled. She smiled back.
'You guys are aware that Umbra is a wolf right?' He asked joking slightly. Everyone nodded faintly, and then Giles got back to being very worried.
'Gunn,' he said turning to the new comer, 'you noticed the red lightning too?' Gunn nodded.
'Figured it was something of the super as opposed to the natural,' he said as he sat down on the couch next to Tara and Lucious. Giles' expression was grave.
'Red lightning is magickal,' Anya said finally.
'Though there have been rare occasions where it has been perfectly natural,' Tara added, ever optimistic. Giles acknowledged her point then continued.
'It normally occurs during very powerful summoning spells.'
'So you think something has summoned something,' Buffy said slowly. Giles nodded. 'So it's back with the research then.' Giles nodded again then turned to Gunn.
'Oh no, I don't do the research thing; I do the chopping if you know what I'm sayin'. But if you need me, me and my crew'll be at our place. I'll send some of the boys out to gather some information, see what's going 'round,' he stood up and walked to the door. 'Cordy,' he said stopping and turning to face her, 'you tried Caritas yet?' He asked referring to the demon karaoke bar where people and demons can go sing and have their fortunes told by the demon that owned the joint - The Host. Cordelia lit up.
'Nope,' she turned to Giles, 'I'm going to go with Gunn and see if I can get any information on what's going on from The Host, and I'll sing if I have to.'
'The Host?' Buffy echoed.
'Sing?' Anya chimed in, obviously fearing for mankind. Cordelia explained about Caritas then she left with Gunn to find their fortunes.
Raven watched them leave then turned to Giles.
'I'm going out to see if I can find out where they are hiding,' she said as she called Umbra and walked to the door, 'Buffy, before you argue, stay here just encase something attacks while I'm gone.' Buffy reluctantly nodded.
'One condition; you don't go Rambo on me if you find them, you come and get me and we do it together. Agreed?' Buffy said stubbornly.
'Agreed,' Raven said smiling. Umbra got to his feet and shook his fur then strode powerfully to Raven's side and walked out into the new morning. Buffy watched them go then turned to Giles.
'How much worse can this get?' Buffy asked her watcher honestly. Giles sighed and removed his glasses.
'I don't know Buffy,' he replied honestly. The slayer had thought as much. She picked up a book and opened it, research time.
Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan drummed his green fingers along the bar as he watched a purple skinned dwarf-like demon sing his heart out. Lorne smiled and turned to the barkeep and nodded. The bar tender smiled and slid the glass along the counter to Lorne's waiting hand. Lorne smiled back and took a long sip of his ice cold gin and tonic with a little squeeze of lime then turned back to face the little dwarf demon who had finished singing and was now waiting for Lorne to offer guidance as Lorne was anagogic. Lorne smiled down at the small demon.
'Well looks like someone's rocking the casaba tonight,' he said in his chirpy voice. The demon growled and raised a cloven hoof as one does their fist. Lorne frowned. 'Now, now. You know the rules. No fighting. Of any kind. Look I'm sorry,' he said as he put a hand on the demon's shoulder, 'you are on the right path. There's nothing I can help you with. Why don't you have a free drink then go and have a nice cool bathe in the sewers.' The demon dwarf nodded, mumbled something incoherently then plodded off in the direction of the barkeep. Lorne watched with amusement as the rather small demon had to shimmy up a stool leg to reach the counter. He shook his head then turned around to see Cordelia and Gunn hurrying across the crowded floor, avoiding tables full of demons, vampires, and the odd human. He smiled.
Cordelia took in The Host's latest offence to the eye, which was currently masquerading as a suit. It was a bright cherry colour and he was wearing it open over a dazzling banana yellow shirt. She cringed.
Lorne turned and placed his glass securely on the counter then turned to face the anxious duo.
'I'm willing to sing,' Cordelia said with difficulty as she scrunched up her face. Lorne frowned.
'There's no need, the higher powers are seriously miffed,' he said as he led Cordelia over to a less crowded part of his establishment.
'Miffed is not a good thing,' Gunn said as he followed. Lorne nodded.
'Look, I heard about Wesley and the slayer's friend,' Cordelia nodded and Lorne continued, 'normally I wouldn't be able to tell you this but the Higher Powers are desperate to restore the balance. I trust Raven is with you now.' Cordelia nodded again then waited for The Host to continue. 'Well, to defeat the gorgons and Shock you need to save Angel.'
'Wait a second,' Cordelia said interrupting him, 'Shock and the gorgons are in league?'
'I missed a lot here didn't I,' Gunn frowned.
'The gorgons were summoned by Shock,' Lorne clarified, 'the Powers are very peeved because Angel hasn't even really turned. The gorgons have removed his soul but they don't know where the gorgons have stored it as it isn't walking the ghost roads and isn't well anywhere,' Lorne threw his hands up and sighed, 'and to top it all the gorgons have been instructed to summon a very dangerous demon called a Vescumstalle, and let me tell you this; he is not the nicest fellow to party with.'
'Why are all Angel's sired such…' Cordelia said searching for the right word.
'Nasty little pieces of work?' The Host suggested. Cordelia nodded.
'Take Penn, he was psycho. Then there's Drusilla…'
'Well she actually is mad,' Lorne pointed out, 'and here. As is Spike.'
'I'm guessing this isn't good,' Gunn said as he folded his arms across his chest.
'Well at least Spike is neutered,' Cordelia sighed. Lorne nodded. 'But he hates Angel.'
'There's your key,' The Host said smiling.
'Get him on your side and he'll spy for you,' Lorne said.
'Any what makes you think for one second that this vamp is going to help us?' Gunn asked.
'You'll be surprised,' The Host said as he applauded the rather large, hairy object that had been singing a rather bad rendition of 'Sixteen going on seventeen' with a slightly smaller clone. Cordelia feared that they were singing about optimistic clothing sizes.
'Is that it?' Cordelia asked.
'That's all I can tell you,' Lorne said as he turned and walked in the direction of the hairy blob demons. 'I would say 'have a free drink', but I'm afraid you don't really have time.' Cordelia threw Gunn a worried look then they both started for the apartment. Finally they were getting somewhere.
Raven and Umbra walked silently along yet another street both bathed in pale sunlight. A car passed and a silver tabby cat narrowly avoided becoming a pancake, it ran towards Umbra then stopped and hissed and ran back in the other direction. Umbra ignored it and kept his black nose to the floor. They had gone back to the site of Lucious' rescue and had not been very surprised when they had not found Cameo's body, what had surprised them was the red lightning. Umbra had then changed back to his normal state and had been tracking scents ever since. Three had gone to the pub, five had left it, and two little piggies had gone home. Raven followed quietly, ever observant. The turned down another street and a large house in disrepair reared up in front of them. Umbra looked up at Raven.
'Bingo,' she whispered.
Angel rose from his bed and walked over to his clothes, picked them up off the floor and smiled as Drusilla woke. He pulled on his leather pants and a black shirt then crossed to the door. Drusilla followed, her satin dress flowed behind her. Both walked down the stairs and into the large lounge. Angel almost laughed when most of the vampires bowed. Almost. He crossed over to where Willow was standing in the corner with a female vampire. She had found someone, now maybe she could concentrate on more important matters. He felt Spike's eyes cutting into his back; he ignored them.
'Willow,' he said simply, 'where are Sy and Mortimer? The sun is up.' He heard someone walk into the room; without looking he knew it was Shock. Drusilla silently stood next to her sire and watched. Willow's new partner took Willow's hand in her own.
'The slayer and another girl, who fought as powerfully as the slayer, attacked us. They had a metamorphic creature with them.' Willow said pouting slightly.
'Did they see you?' Angel asked. Willow shook her head.
'But I have a surprise for you,' Willow said as she beckoned someone behind him with her finger. A grossly obese vampire with long white hair with pink and purple ends walked up to Angel and bowed his head slightly. 'His name is Cameo.' Angel frowned.
'So we loose two perfectly fine vampires for one chubby one.' Angel tut-tut-tuted. Cameo growled.
'I thought you said that he was supposed to be all-mighty,' Cameo scoffed. Angel smiled and Drusilla clapped her hands. Willow mouthed 'no', but it was too late. Shock walked over and grabbed Cameo by the neck and lifted him clean off the floor.
'Bad puppy. You should show more respect for your elders,' Drusilla scolded as she watched with excitement.
'You just made him mad,' Willow added. Elfin smiled and squeezed Willow's hand.
'You think the Master will dust him?' Elfin asked. Willow smiled and Angel matched her.
'Put him down Shock,' he said. Shock reluctantly obeyed. Sapphire and David heard the commotion and hurried over. Spike watched with interest and walked over to get a better look, plus if Angel ordered the new one staked, he could have some fun – vampires he could kill.
'Better than a bloody soap opera,' Spike said quietly.
'Cameo,' Angel sighed, 'you really don't get it yet. Then again, you are a fledgling so I could put this little unpleasant incident down to your ignorance, but my policy is usually to stake those who oppose me, no questions asked. I suspect you would rather the former, but,' he said as he opened a draw and pulled out a wooden handled knife, 'the latter could be arranged.' He looked down as he ran a fingertip along the sharp blade and looked up into Cameo's strange eyes.
'The former, please the former,' Cameo begged, 'I'm sorry Master.' Angel smiled. Spike pouted.
'Aw come on!' He shouted to Angel as he pushed forwards. 'Lets have some fun around here. Stake the fat guy and then we can have all have a beer or something. Lard boy here is blocking the cooler.' Angel rolled his eyes.
'Shut up William,' Angel sighed. Drusilla frowned and waggled a finger at her sired.
'Dru don't tell me you wouldn't find a dusting fun right about now,' Spike said laughing.
'It can be arranged,' Shock said as he grabbed a fork from the open drawer and pressed the wooden handle against Spike's chest. He growled. Spike laughed then simply punched Shock in the face and grabbed the fork. Willow and Elfin looked to Angel for instructions. Angel simply sighed again.
'Spike, stay here and shut up, or I'll stake you now. The only reason you are still here is because I pity you. Not even Dru thinks you are even capable of evil anymore. You've gone all soft,' Angel added.
'Soft?' Spike said growling. 'I may have this bloody chip in my head but it won't stop me from killing you mate.' Angel smiled. Drusilla growled playfully.
'Shush, bad dog,' she said mischievously. Willow and Elfin smiled.
'Do you want me to dust him Master?' David asked hopefully. Angel shook his head.
'Spike, sort it out. Go sire a surgeon and get him to get the chip out, whatever,' Angel said as he took Drusilla's hand and led her to the couch, which was immediately abandoned. 'Willow come here and tell me more about the metamorph and the warrior. David, take Sapphire and go with Spike to the hospital. Shock get Louisa then come here, we need to talk.'
Cordelia and Gunn burst through the apartment door to find Buffy, Giles, Anya, Lucious and Tara frantically researching. Buffy stood up; heaving the heavy book she had been reading to the side and greeted them.
'Cordy, did you find anything out?' The slayer asked anxiously. Cordelia smiled and Gunn sat down next to Lucious and Anya on the couch.
'I didn't have to sing!' Cordelia exclaimed then saw Buffy's glare and continued. 'Buffy, The Host said that Shock had summoned the Gorgons to summon a Cumstahl, or a Vacuum-steer or something. He said that the Gorgons have removed Angel's soul and are storing it somewhere, oh, and that Spike and Drusilla are both with soul-less Angel, and that we can get to Spike and get him to help us or something.'
'Vacuum-steer?' Giles questioned as he started to look through his books, his face marred with worry. Gunn stood up.
'No, it's called a Vescumstalle,' Gunn said as he crossed over to Giles. 'And what I'm way more worried about at this instant is the fact that this Shock dude is the one that is behind all of this. I mean, from what I've heard, he is just a vampire. Why would he summon these snake babes from hell to come and steal Angel's soul, then summon this Vescumstalle dude?' Buffy shook her head and looked to her watcher. Suddenly Lucious stood up, a book is his hand and he smiled.
'I've got it,' he said as he passed the book to Giles. 'It was in Latin but I managed to translate it, and look,' he said as Giles took the book and he pointed over Giles' shoulder at an image of a spiny demon, 'there's a wood engraving as well.' Giles' face went white.
'W…what is it?' Tara asked as she tried to see the book.
'It is a passage written by a Roman senator named Claudius Maximus, it's from his diary. He writes, 'The Vescumstalle,' Giles read, 'has finally been slain. Two hundred of our men lay dead, poisoned by the hell spawn. Its corporeal form shall be burned tonight, and the remainder of my men shall join me in the hunt for the beast that condemned my men and summoned the creature into our world. May the gods torture his soul for once I am through with who ever did this, once his head is on display, once his body has been burned, let him never find peace in this world, or the next. May his actions plague his soul for eternity, with no hope of redemption.' He looked up.
'Well at least we know it can be killed,' Buffy said as she grabbed her coat and her crossbow from the table.
'Yeah, but am I the only one seeing how it took an army to defeat this guy last time, and I know you're the slayer and whatever but face it, we know nothing about this demon, or how to kill it,' Gunn said as he sat back down again. Anya nodded, and Giles removed his glasses.
'Gunn's right Buffy, we need to know more about this demon before we try to stop it,' Cordelia said quietly as she picked up a dark, leather bound book from the pile on her table. Buffy nodded and put down the crossbow and her coat and exchanged them for a book. Gunn leant forward and did the same.
'I thought you said you didn't do the book thing,' Anya said frowning slightly.
'What can I say, my eyes just opened,' Gunn replied solemnly as he opened the book and started to read.
Drusilla watched as Spike, David and Sapphire left the room, but she was not listening, her mind was elsewhere. She could hear them, but they were very quiet, it was daytime after all. They were warning her, telling her all sorts of nasty little things. Suddenly they stopped and she realised Angel was looking at her.
'Dru, are you alright?' He asked as her eyes refocused on the room around and she realised that Spike, David and Sapphire had come back into the room to see if she was O.K.
'The moon was warning me Daddy,' she said finally, Angel frowned.
'Warning you about what, pet?' Spike asked gently.
'Beware, beware,' she said softly to Angel, 'she's out side. She's watching us right now. She knows. She knows and she is going to tell the slayer where we are. Sparrow eyes. Beady little black sparrow eyes. Peck, peck, peck, at the birdseed,' she said miming a bird pecking at Angel's arm with her hand. 'Beware of the black bird daddy.'
'There's someone outside?' Angel asked calmly, 'right now?' Drusilla nodded and looked at him, waiting. Angel frowned and stood up.
'David. Sapphire.' He said, calling them, 'go down in the sewers, find a new hideout.' He ordered as he walked over to Spike. 'Sorry, looks like you'll have to wait for the moment, friend, we're moving house.'
Shock hurried into his room and grabbed Louisa.
'Pack your stuff Lou, we're leaving.' Louisa frowned.
'Why?' She asked, as she pulled free of his grip. He sighed.
'Because they've found us is why,' he said, his accent made more prominent by his intensifying temper.
'Who's found us?' Louisa asked, her frown more pronounced. Shock sighed.
'Drusilla says that there is someone outside and that whoever it is, is going to tell the slayer where we are,' Shock explained as he pulled on a jacket and handed Louisa hers. 'We're going to talk to Angel now, he wants to talk to us but I don't know what it is about. It's probably about my accusation of David earlier. So just let me do all the talking. O.K.?' Louisa nodded and took the coat off him.
'O.K.,' she replied as she followed him into the lounge. So long as she did not have to dance, she was ready to face the music.
Raven and Umbra hurried to Cordelia's apartment door and entered to find everyone busy researching.
'Buffy,' Raven said as she crossed over to the slayer, 'we found their lair.' Buffy looked up and smiled.
'Good, then we'll attack now,' she said as she stood up and put on her jacket.
'Buffy,' Giles called, 'be careful, you don't know what power Shock may possess.' Buffy nodded.
'You mean like thrall?' Anya asked, 'because, he is from Romania.'
'We've got some new information,' Buffy explained to Raven, 'I'll fill you in on the way.' Gunn stood up and picked up his axe that had been propped against the sofa. Buffy was about to protest when he took out his cell phone and dialled a number. He talked to someone on the other end then pause to ask Raven for the address. Raven looked at Buffy who shrugged so she told Gunn the directions to the hideout. Gunn hung up, and then turned to the slayer and the warrior.
'My crew'll meet us at the joint in ten minutes,' he explained as he pocketed the cell phone and turned to follow them out of the door.
'Good,' Buffy said as she followed Raven and Umbra out of the apartment.
'B…be careful,' Tara called after them. Buffy nodded.
'We'll find Willow,' the slayer said as she closed the door behind them. Tara nodded then turned to look at Lucious. The boy looked worried. Tara pitied the boy, he was too young to be messed up in things like this, and he was being so brave. He reminded Tara of Dawn. Tara uttered a protection spell for her friends then started back on the book she was researching.
Gunn's eyes widened with terror at the thing that stood, snorting, in front of him. Buffy laughed.
'Come on,' Raven said smiling, trying hard not to express her amusement out loud. 'This is Spirit Gale, he won't harm you.'
'Uh-uh,' Gunn said shaking his head and backing away slightly, 'there is no way on this here fair Earth that I am going anywhere near that thing.' Spirit Gale snorted then walked towards him. Gunn yelped and held his axe out defensively.
'Fine then,' Buffy said as she mounted, 'stay here and we'll save Willow and Angel on our own.' Raven smiled as Spirit Gale kept walking towards Gunn with Buffy now on his broad back. Gunn kept backing away until he backed into the gate.
'No way am I going anywhere near that. It's a flying horse! I've seen a lot of freaky demon things, and demons I can deal with, but a flying horse? It isn't natural,' he said, scared stupid. Buffy sighed. Raven mounted the Pegasus then extended a hand out to Gunn. Gunn just stared blankly at Spirit Gale and clutched his axe tighter. Spirit Gale whinnied then walked closer and closer to Gunn until his nose was inches from Gunn's head. Spirit Gale snorted then licked Gunn's face. Gunn freaked out and squeezed past the Pegasus, frantically wiping his face with his sleeve as he did so.
'Isn't there like a spell or something that will knock him out until we get to the nest and have to kick some vampire butt?' Buffy asked hopefully. Raven smiled. Her eyes glowed yellow and Gunn was lifted from the floor and was put down on Spirit Gale's back behind Buffy. Her eyes returned to normal and the Pegasus took off before Gunn had a chance to climb down.
'What the hell was that?' Gunn asked, calming down now that he was on Spirit Gale's back and felt safe. 'That was one cool party trick.'
'We'll were going to join the party now,' Raven replied as Spirit Gale landed outside a large house that had fallen into disrepair. Raven and Buffy climbed down after Gunn had jumped off. Gunn's cell phone started to ring and he answered it. He hung up a few minutes later and turned to face Buffy, Raven and Umbra who had changed back to his normal state.
'Everyone is in position around the place and in the sewers,' he said smiling. 'Let's blow this joint.'
Angel had wasted no time in getting David and Sapphire scouting for a new place. He had told Shock and Louisa that he would talk to them after they had relocated and had told them to start gathering the group up. David and Sapphire returned soon after and Angel had led his followers down into the sewers and towards their new lair. He looked around the new place and smiled at his scouts.
'Nice work,' he said as he took in their surroundings. Drusilla smiled and twirled around on the spot before Angel, whose eyes were now on her. David and Sapphire smiled and watched as the rest of the vampires filed in. Shock and Louisa came in last and closed off the sewer access.
'Great. It's another factory,' Shock said sardonically as he crossed over to Angel. Angel ignored him more interested in the worried look on Drusilla's face.
'Dru, what is it?' He asked her as she turned to face him.
'Spike,' she replied whimpering quietly, 'Spike stayed behind with all the crawly little spiders but they don't want to play. They're hiding, if they don't the black birdie will get them. Like she's going to get Spike.'
All at once Raven, Buffy, Umbra and Gunn's group burst into the house from every direction, some even entered through the roof, but they found the house deserted.
'They must have got the heads up,' one of Gunn's friends said as he crossed over to Gunn. Gunn nodded and patted his friend on the back.
'Looks like we're back to square one, bro,' Gunn agreed as he double-checked each room just in case a vampire had been left behind and was hiding somewhere. 'Yo,' he called down the sewer access hatch to Raven and Umbra, 'you getting a scent down there? 'Cause all I'm getting is sewer.'
'Nope,' Raven said as she climbed back out of the sewers followed closely by Umbra. 'Nothing. They must have waded through the water because Umbra hasn't gotten anything down there except for a few rats' tracks that are days old. What about Buffy?' Gunn shook his head.
'Then you're all not looking hard enough are you,' came an English accent from the doorway. They all spun around to face the owner of the voice who simply smiled at them. Before he could do anything he found himself caught in invisible bonds and floating a centimetre or so from the ceiling. He struggled in vain against the unseen force that kept him securely suspended and swore under his breath. 'No fair! Let me down. I'm not going to bloody well harm you or I would have killed you already.' Buffy, who had heard the commotion and recognised Spike's voice came running around the corner and stopped when she could see the blonde vampire's situation. Raven mentally spun him around to face the slayer and walked with Gunn, Umbra and the other youth around to Buffy's side.
'Spike,' Buffy sighed, 'why are you here and not with Angel?' Spike sighed and stopped struggling.
'Free me and I'll tell you,' he said simply. Buffy shook her head.
'No, tell me or I'll do something I should have done when you first came to Sunnydale with Drusilla - stake you,' she said as she produced a stake from her jacket. Spike nodded.
'I don't know where they've gone exactly but one said something about a factory.'
'Great, because that narrows it down. How many factories are there in L.A. Spike?' Buffy asked as she twirled the stake between her fingers like a band parade baton. Buffy was slightly surprised that what Cordelia had found out from The Host had proven thus far to be amazingly accurate. 'Why come to us? Why wait here?' Buffy asked, 'why not just be a good little minion?'
'What!' Spike said laughing slightly, 'A minion? For Nancy boy? Don't make me laugh. Slayer, your ex can prance about all he likes with Dru, Shock, Lou, and Willow at his heals, but I won't play that game.'
'What?' Buffy asked, her eyes wide.
'You didn't think they'd keep the little witch alive did you?' He said, his tone becoming softer. Raven put him down and freed him. Buffy seemed to be in a state of shock, it was too much, what with Xander and Wesley as well. A tear formed in the corner of her eye and trickled down her face. Gunn seemed all right, but he had not known either Willow or Xander. Raven decided to take over.
'You're coming with us,' she said as Umbra morphed into Spirit Gale in the shape of a rather large red dragon, he belched fire at Spike missing the vampire by millimetres. Spike jumped.
'Watch it!' He said as he moved away from Spirit Gale.
'Co-operate or get torched, it's your choice,' she said as she led Buffy out of the house, Spirit Gale herded Spike to the door as Gunn explained the situation to his crew. He told them to cruise the neighbourhood, beat up the snitches for information, and to check out factories, they dispersed and he joined the distraught slayer and the others outside. Spike was standing in the door way and refusing point blank to go out into the sunshine. Gunn sighed. He saw Raven's eyes flash yellow again and then on her signal he attempted to shove Spike through the door. Spike would not budge. Spirit Gale the dragon then became impatient and flame grilled Spike's bottom. Spike yelped and ran outside. Raven and Gunn smiled and watched in amusement as Spike attempted to put out the flames, Raven's eyes glowed yellow and the fire disappeared. Spike then tried to get back inside and it took him a while to realise that he was not on fire from the usually deadly sunlight.
'What did you do to me?' Spike asked, shock smothering his features. He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun and waited for Raven's explanation. Raven smiled.
'It's called magick, get used to it,' she said as Spirit Gale increased in size until he was large enough to accommodate all four of them and then sprouted massive wings from his scaly shoulders, each spanning about ten meters. He turned to look at Raven and Raven instructed everyone to get on. Spike had been adamant that he would go nowhere near Spirit Gale, until he had a near miss from a dragon launched fireball. Soon they arrived outside Cordelia's apartment building and all dismounted. As Spirit Gale transformed back into Umbra, Spike tried to do a runner but Raven simply laughed and removed the sun protection spell. Spike yelped as he started smoking and dashed for the cover of Cordelia's apartment. Gunn and Umbra chased after him to make sure he did not escape and once they had gone Raven turned to Buffy and hugged her friend.
'This is not happening,' Buffy sobbed. Raven soothed her friend as best she could. 'Isn't there a magick spell that will make everything alright again?' Buffy asked finally. Raven shook her head.
'If there was then I would have done it already,' she said simply. Buffy dried her tears. 'We're going to have to tell them.' Raven nodded as she walked hand-in-hand with Buffy up the stairs and into the apartment.
Angel walked down the line of vampires again to make sure he had not missed the lost Spike. He shook his head and growled in frustration.
'Did he know where we were going?' Angel asked David. David shook his head.
'No, Master, none of them knew, they just followed us. Isn't there a chance he just got lost in the sewers?' David said hopefully. Angel growled at David's stupidity and turned to Shock who was leaning calmly against a wall near the main entrance. Louisa was standing next to him cradling a rat and stroking the petrified animal absently with one hand.
'Shock, was Spike with you? Did you see anyone leave the group?' Angel asked. Shock shook his head and stood up straight.
'No one left the group. I made sure of that. Cameo was the one counting them as they went down the hatch,' Shock said as he crossed over to Cameo. Angel called Cameo to him.
'Did Spike go down into the sewers?' Angel asked the vampire before him.
'I don't remember, Master. There are a lot of vampires and I don't recall all of their names yet,' he answered, his eyes cast down, if his stomach had not been in the way he would have been looking at his shoelaces as he did so.
'Oh, you'd remember this one,' Shock said as he circled the overweight vampire. Cameo appeared to be sweating buckets. Angel could smell his fear, and his sweat. Angel cringed inwardly.
'Bleached hair, English, about this tall,' Angel said indicating Spike's height, 'tried to stake you.'
'No, I don't remember him going down, come to think of it,' Cameo replied. Angel growled and turned his back on the now grovelling vampire to face a distraught Drusilla.
'Bad luck,' Shock said smiling. He produced the wooden handled knife from earlier and stabbed Cameo in the chest with the blade. 'Because you've already had your one chance,' he said as he kicked the knife deep into the stunned vampire's ribcage. Cameo exploded into dust as the wooden handle came into contact with his un-beating heart and he settled on the floor. 'Did anyone see where Spike went?' Shock asked the crowd. A Mexican headshake travelled down the ranks. Shock sighed. He walked over to Angel, who was trying to comfort Drusilla. 'He knew that the slayer would be coming and stayed behind to tell them everything, didn't he.' Angel nodded.
'Bad Spike,' Drusilla said quietly. Angel shook his head.
'He'll tell Buffy about Willow,' Angel said growling slightly. At the sound of her name Willow and Elfin walked forward.
'Master,' Willow said pouting slightly, 'do we have to move again? My feet are all wet.' Elfin smiled at her girlfriend as Angel turned to face her.
'No,' Angel said, 'Spike didn't know where we going. You're safe.' David gave a little cough and Angel looked at him questioningly.
'Um, Master,' David said a worried look on his face, 'actually that's not completely true.'
'What do you mean, 'not completely true',' Angel asked darkly. David took a deep breath.
'He asked where we were headed, and I told him that we were going to a factory, but I didn't tell him where.' David added hurriedly. Angel growled, and looked at Shock.
'You screwed up, David,' Shock said menacingly. Sapphire stayed quiet. David fell to his knees and started to beg for forgiveness. He groped for Angel's leg but Angel delivered him a vicious blow to the head that sent him sailing into a wall.
'You're really pathetic, you know that?' Sapphire said as she crossed over and mingled in with the ranks of silent, obedient, watching vampires. She would rather be one of the crowd than have anything to do with David especially now that David had messed up, and now that it was unlikely that he was going to stay the Master's favourite. Shock smiled. Angel turned back to Drusilla, David was no longer deemed worthy of his attention. Shock's smile widened and he grabbed the stake Angel threw to him and delivered it mercilessly. Angel soothed Drusilla and turned to address the crowd.
'We shall stay here until a new place is found. I will send scouts out to find a new lair. Volunteers?' Angel asked the crowd. Sapphire and a tall muscular vampire - who was obviously her new playmate - were the first to step forward. Angel smiled and watched as they left through the sewer access together. He then turned and summoned Shock and Louisa to join him and Drusilla in the separate back room. He had been wrong. Shock was the only one who had not been proven to have betrayed him, excepting Drusilla. But he was not stupid. He would still keep an eye on Shock; after all it was better to be safe than dust.
The apartment had fallen into a state of shock. Willow was dead. Tara and Buffy cried together on the sofa, the others were all silent with shock. Lucious continued researching with Gunn, Spike, and Raven while the others mourned. Phantom Dennis was making tea and coffee in the kitchen for them.
Lucious was proving to be highly intelligent and could find information and translate texts faster than most. But Raven was not concentrating, she was thinking. Her plan before – bringing Kathy back – seemed to be the next thing to do. With Willow missing it had been impossible as she needed two others to perform the ritual with her – Willow and Tara - and one to act as anchor – Giles, the others had been required to act as the four elements and the incense carrier so there had been no one to substitute for Willow, but now there was Lucious. She could sense the power in him. She stood up slowly and cleared her throat. All the eyes in the room, teary and dry, fixed on her.
'I'm going to try a spell,' she said finally, 'remember a day or so ago I said something about bring Angel's sister back.' Various nods and blank expressions from Spike, Gunn, and Lucious answered her so she continued, 'well I think we should try it. Though Cordelia says that Angel's soul has been taken from him I believe that Kathy may buy us time as a distraction or something.
'What do you want us to do?' Buffy asked finally.
'I need to get some supplies, but Giles, I'll need you to act as an anchor.' The watcher nodded.
'I thought you said that you said that you would need Willow to perform the ritual with you, as well as Tara,' Giles said as he stood up and went into the kitchen to help Phantom Dennis with all the drinks. Raven nodded and ignored the little strangled noise that came from Tara's direction at the mention of Willow.
'I do need a third, but I believe Lucious could act in that capacity,' Raven said as she turned to face the boy. He blew his dark fringe out of his eyes and nodded.
'I'll try,' he said bravely. Spike ruffled his hair; he had taken an odd liking to the boy.
'I'm hungry. Got any blood hanging around here?' Spike asked Cordelia.
'Why would Cordy have blood in her fridge?' Anya asked the bleached vampire. Buffy cringed slightly.
'Watcher over there does occasionally, and it doesn't harm to ask,' Spike retaliated. Cordelia stood up.
'Actually I do,' she said as she walked into the kitchen and returned with a mug of blood, followed by Giles and Phantom Dennis, each carrying a tray of cups. 'O positive,' she said handing the novelty mug to Spike who received it gratefully, 'sorry it's not more imaginative but Angel wouldn't drink it if I tried something new, like adding cinnamon or something. I could add something if you want though.'
'Do you guys give me my blood in novelty mugs on purpose?' He asked frowning at the Father Christmas design. 'And no thanks about the cinnamon, love,' he said cringing.
'No,' Cordelia retaliated, 'Giles and Dennis used all the good mugs for the coffee and tea.' Spike nodded and took a sip.
'You put cinnamon in the blood?' Raven said as she wrinkled her face up in disgust.
'Why do you have blood in your fridge?' Anya asked suddenly. Cordelia sighed.
'Hello! My boss is a vampire!' Cordy replied as she took a cup of coffee off Phantom Dennis' tray and sipped the hot, bitter liquid. Anya reached forward and picked up a cup of tea and took a sip then looked expectantly at Raven.
'I'll be back in a minute, I'm just going to prepare,' she said as she walked into Cordelia's bedroom. 'Is it alright if I change in here?' Cordy nodded and Raven shut the door behind her. Seconds later Raven re-emerged wearing a long, cream coloured, cotton dress, her hair had returned to its natural blonde and now tumbled loosely over her delicate shoulders, and she was bare foot. Spike and Gunn's mouths dropped open. She smiled, propped her sword and weapons against a chair, and then started to clear an area for the spell to take place. Buffy got over her initial shock, and glad for something to take her mind off Willow's death started to help. Once they had finished Buffy and the others watched as Raven produced a leather pouch, unrolled a large natural cotton mat from inside it, and spread it out over the floor. She then produced a single bee's wax candle and placed it in the centre of the circle that had been drawn onto the mat with what appeared to be charcoal. Raven then removed a small bundle of herbs from the leather pouch; she then started methodically tearing leaves from the bunch, and started to place them in regular intervals around the circle. She handed Spike, Gunn, Giles, and Anya a small coloured candle each and a matching colour handful of powder, and Buffy a bundle of incense. She pointed at the candle once she had finished and the candle's wick caught alight. Suddenly the lights went out, care of Phantom Dennis. Raven thanked the ghost then turned to face the waiting group, their faced bathed in eerie candlelight. She held out her hands and led Tara and Lucious into the circle and to their places.
'Cordelia, I need you to stand out of the way with Umbra. Giles, I need you to chant this first, then when I join in with you, stop and start the second chant. Recite it continuously until I tell you to stop,' Raven said as she handed Giles a small piece of parchment, 'Falter before then and not only will we not have Kathy's spirit, but the strain on Lucious, Tara and I might kill us. Do you understand?' Raven asked the watcher seriously. Giles nodded, and read the incantations through to make sure he knew them. Raven took Lucious and Tara's hands and they formed a circle. 'Follow my instructions and do as I say. Do not break the circle.' Raven said, then she took a deep breath. 'Close your eyes. Giles start.'
'Waters of creations love, waters of creations life. Asperse the place thou shalt be cast to work thy magick quick and fast.' Giles started chanting obediently. Raven took another deep breath and exhaled slowly.
'Buffy, the incense,' Raven commanded. Spike produced a lighter and Buffy lit the incense, then Buffy proceeded to walk clockwise around the circle holding the smoking incense before her.
'Herbs of magick and powder base my will shall work and not bring disgrace.' Buffy said as she completed the first circle. Her cue given Raven opened her eyes and joined in with Giles' chant, then continued it with Tara and Lucious while Giles changed his chant to one of protection.
'Demons and frights dispelled by these lights. Ward off ill fortunes, lacks and blights.' The watcher chanted as Spike's lighter was passed around the group - who were now standing at each corner of the mat as Buffy wove in and out between them with her incense - to light each of Giles, Gunn, Anya and Spike's candles. Spike, Giles, Anya and Gunn each awaited their cue to open their free hands and on Raven's signal to blow the power they held into the centre of the circle above Lucious, Raven, and Tara's heads. Spike was to represent fire, so held a red cinnamon scented candle and held the red saffron, carnation, heliotrope and cinnamon powder, Gunn was to embody air and had the yellow magnolia scented candle and the yellow linden, sweet pea, wisteria and magnolia powder, Anya was to symbolize earth so held the green cedar scented candle and the green myrrh, violet, bayberry and cedar powder, and Giles was water and so held the blue narcissus scented candle and held the blue camphor, lotus, peppermint, and narcissus powder. As each candle was lit the candleholder said the chant through once with Giles, while Lucious and Tara continued the initial incantation, Giles continued the protection spell, and Buffy continued her chant on every completion of the circle, after a few minutes Raven changed her recitation to make the fourth and final chant.
'I blend, I blend, a subtle force upon the wind I send. A powder of potions to turn all notions to thoughts of Kathy gently waifed to work this magic all elements agree,' she said as she nodded to the represented elements in turn. 'Air,' on her cue Gunn blew the yellow air powder into the centre of the circle. He expected it to float down but the powder seemed to be held, suspended in the centre of the circle. Suddenly the powder and the candle started to glow fiercely with a bright yellow light and Gunn could smell the fresh scent of the burning candle and powder. 'Earth,' Raven commanded. To Gunn's right Anya raised her palm flat and blew the green powder into the yellow light of the yellow powder. The green power and candle started to radiate a green light with the same ferocity as the yellow had, and the yellow and green powders started to spiral together. A yellow light shot from Gunn's candle and formed a bridge with the green candle making Anya jump slightly as she expected it to be hot, but the light was cold and refreshing on the skin. 'Fire,' Spike acknowledged his prompt and blew his red powder into the swirling yellow and green and suddenly the powder and the candle lit up and added to the aromatherapy session. Anya's candle shot a beam of green light at Spike's candle, joining them. 'Water,' Raven said finally, Giles blew the blue powder into the swirling light show without pausing his chant and watched as the powder and the candle glowed blue. The red candle in Spike's hand sent a beam of light in the direction of Giles' blue candle, when the red light hit it; the blue candle sent a blue beam to Gunn's yellow candle completing the circle. Buffy stopped weaving between the candleholders and instead just walked now in a circle around the inner circles. The blue powder joined the red, yellow, and green and the four started to swirl together faster and more violently. They were mixing. 'Earth to Water I conjure thee, to work my will for results to be. The salts of life I mix with scent, so that petitions and prayers be heavenward bent.' Raven's eyes flashed yellow. The powder lights swirled faster and faster until one colour light could not be distinguished from the others; they glowed white. Then suddenly they imploded and then disappeared. There was a flash of blinding white light and the candles all went out. 'Stop.' Raven commanded and everyone was silent. They looked around but there was nothing there. The smell had vanished from the room, it was pitch black, and the incense had gone out. Raven took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Just as they regained their ability to see properly there was another blinding flash of pure bright white. Raven briefly remembered the white room and the voice but this time it was different. A figure started to appear in the centre of the circles above the bee's wax candle, Raven squeezed Lucious and Tara's hands reassuringly and waited. The figure was that of a beautiful woman. She was pure white, her white floor length hair she wore like a cloak, she wore a simple white gown, and she was surrounded by a white corona. When she spoke her voice was like children's laughter on a summer's day.
'I am the spirit guardian of the innocents. Why did you bring me forth?' She asked addressing Raven. Raven bowed her head in respect, and the others followed her example.
'We need Kathy's help,' she replied. The spirit guardian smiled.
'It has been a long time since one has performed the ritual correctly Chamaray. You wish to stop the vampire, Shock, and the gorgons, by bringing back your only shot of defeating them with the help of his sister.' The spirit said softly. Raven nodded, her eyes still downcast. The spirit held out her hand and gently lifted Raven's chin so that Raven looked into her eyes, her hand was like ice-cold silk to the touch. The spirit's eyes were pure white with lilac irises; the pupils were white as snow. The spirit smiled softly at Raven then the air appeared to shimmer and the spirit guardian disappeared. Then there was a flash of white and the form of a girl started to materialise. She appeared to be between twelve and fifteen. Her long dark hair was tied back with a yellow ribbon and her weary dark eyes searched the room.
'Where am I?' She asked in a frightened voice. The ritual was over and Phantom Dennis switched the lights on. She saw the light bulbs and jumped in horror, knocking over the bee's wax candle as she did so sending molten wax flying. 'Mother! Father!' She called out in a rich Irish accent. She was very scared. She backed away from the strangely dressed people in front of her and she almost tripped over Lucious. Giles was the first to speak.
'Hello,' he said gently. Her pupils widened with fear and she broke through the circle and tried to run to the door. 'It's all right. We don't want to harm you Kathy.' She turned to face the strange people, fear clawing at her. She knew she was trapped. 'Kathy, we need your help.' She took a deep breath, she was close to fainting, and Giles knew it. Suddenly Umbra rose from where he had been staying out of the way during the ritual and padded over softly to the frightened girl. Cordelia tried to stop him but he ignored her. She tried to back away but the wall was there. She looked into his eyes and seemed to calm immediately. Umbra pressed his cold nose into her palm and she stroked the wolf, gaining confidence, drawing comfort from the large animal.
'How did you know my name?' She asked Giles finally. Giles smiled kindly.
'You're a friend's sister,' he replied.
'You know Liam?' She asked slightly nervous. Giles nodded. Kathy smiled, obviously relived. 'Pray tell me dear sir, where is my brother?'
'We don't know,' Giles answered, 'we brought you here to help us. My name is Rupert Giles,' he said softly. Kathy smiled.
'Mister Giles, father is awfully upset with Liam for leaving us. They had an argument and Liam left and didn't come back. Then mother started crying. A demon killed Liam my Father said, and then I cried. We went home after the funeral but Liam came back to me, an angel. Where is my angel now? Has he flown back to heaven?' Giles shook his head.
'He's still here,' he said. He held out his hand for her to take and waited. She smiled and took his hand leaving Umbra. 'You must be very tired,' he said softly as he led her into Cordelia's bedroom and tucked her in. 'You get some rest now and we'll look for Liam in the morning.' Kathy smiled.
'Could the wolf stay here to protect me from the demons until we find Liam? Then my brother can protect me.' Kathy asked. Giles nodded, and called Umbra who nuzzled Kathy's hand then curled up at the foot of the bed. Kathy smiled and closed her eyes and within minutes she was asleep.
Angel watched as Louisa handed Drusilla her rat and watched as Drusilla stroked the rat absentmindedly then ripped its throat out and drained it dry. Angel smiled. Drusilla dropped the corpse to the floor then took Louisa's hand.
'Come cousin, do you want to dance?' She asked as Louisa frowned slightly and looked to Shock for help.
'Dru, love, Louisa doesn't want to dance,' Angel said. Drusilla pouted and revealed the blindfolded Miss Edith.
'Does cousin want to play with Miss Edith? Miss Edith has been a very bad doll today and needs to be spanked.' Drusilla explained. Louisa threw Shock another 'help me' look but Shock ignored her and looked at Angel.
'What did you want to talk to me about?' Shock asked as Louisa pouted and flopped down onto the floor to reluctantly play 'dolls' with Drusilla. Angel smiled.
'Now that David and Cameo are dust, as are Sy and Mortimer, I have come to realise that the obedience in our order is nil. And then there is the whole Spike thing, which has unsurprisingly ticked me off. What do you suggest we do?' Angel asked Shock. Shock scratched his head and thought for a minute then turned to face his sire.
'Spike is probably already with the slayer circle so there isn't really anything we can do there. So I suggest we concentrate on getting a good lair then making a plan and killing the slayer.' Angel smiled.
'Just what I was thinking,' Angel said as he sat down on a cardboard box, deep in thought. 'Shock, I know I haven't been terribly fair to you,' Angel said as Shock pulled up another box and sat down. He nodded. 'I'm giving you a second chance,' Shock raised a questioning eyebrow and waited. Drusilla giggled from the other side of the room and Angel smiled. 'Yes, I want you, once we have found out new lair, to take a hunting party and swell our numbers.' Shock nodded. 'Loose any, and I will stake you myself do you understand?' Shock smiled. 'Good,' Angel said as another peal of laughter came from Drusilla's play corner. 'What's going on over there Dru?'
'Cousin was telling off Miss Edith, and it was frightfully funny. Then a little voice crept in my head through my ear like a little white spider. It told me things, daddy.' Drusilla said as she stood up and crossed over to Angel and sat on his lap. 'They have a little surprise for you, daddy. The slayer can't wait for you to open it up, but she thinks you'll return to her. She's forgotten that you killed it before. Like a disease.'
'Killed what Dru?' Angel asked as Louisa joined Shock. Drusilla giggled.
'A little girl in a pale yellow dress, dancing, dancing, dancing with death.' Drusilla said as she swayed slowly from side to side. Angel smiled and kissed her. 'The black bird pecked at the wrong seed and now will surely die from hunger.' Shock and Louisa looked at each other and smiled then kissed passionately. Angel and Drusilla looked up when there was a sharp knock on the door.
'Come in,' Angel said. Sapphire and her new boy entered the room and bowed slightly. Angel smiled. 'Good news?' Sapphire nodded.
'Master, we've found ourselves a nice place where the slayer will never find us,' Sapphire said as she matched Angel's smile. 'We met a lovely elderly woman who owned a lovely old house in Hollywood. She gave it up without a fight.' Angel's smile widened and he nodded to Sapphire.
'Nice work,' he said, 'gather the troops, it's time to move.'
Buffy had been shocked into silence by the girl's resemblance to Angel when she had first seen Kathy. Now she as she watched the girl dream she remembered how she had watched over Angel when he had first come back from a demon dimension. She obviously loved her brother very much. From what the girl had said Buffy drew a rough picture of how Angel must have died; he had had an argument with his father and had left the house. She already knew how he had bumped into his sire, Darla, from her brief good-bye visit, the first year she had known Angel, when she had gone to visit her father in Los Angeles after she had killed the Master. Buffy had strangely seen the death of anyone she touched and had consequently witnessed Angel's death when she had hugged him. She hugged her knees on Cordelia's sofa and watched as Kathy rolled over in her sleep. She smiled slightly. She reminded Buffy of Dawn, her own sister. Buffy would do anything for her. Buffy sighed and picked up the phone. She had been reluctant to call Riley from many reasons including the fact that she didn't know how to tell him about Willow and Xander's deaths. She knew that Riley would take everything the wrong way and come up to L.A. immediately, which would just make the situation worse, and she knew it. It was better not to tell him anything. It was better that way. Also it would not get him killed. He was safer in Sunnydale. She sighed and put the phone down.
Giles came over with a fresh cup of tea for her and another for himself. He took a seat next to Buffy and smiled as he handed her the steaming cup. Raven and Gunn shared the sofa with Buffy, Raven had fallen asleep on Gunn's shoulder and Gunn was now peacefully sleeping as well. The ritual had exhausted everyone especially Raven. Anya was curled up in a comfy chair and Tara, Cordelia, and Lucious were all curled up under blankets around the floor. Spike had been tied to a chair and was watching everything from a corner.
'How are you?' Giles asked his slayer softly. Buffy managed a lopsided smile.
'I was going to call Riley, but I knew he'd just come rushing up here and get himself killed.' Giles nodded and sipped his tea. 'What's the point anyway? He's not even my Riley.'
'What do you mean?' Giles asked quietly.
'Giles,' she stopped, corrected herself and continued, 'my Giles, was informed by the council that something was wrong, that the dimensions were merging, or something. He told me the only way to save the world was to fix the problem at the crack - this dimension. I went over to Giles' after my mother had left with Dawn to go to a gallery thing, and we discussed what we needed to do. I needed to fix the problem. To restore the balance.
'Currently in my dimension my Giles, my Willow, my Xander and the rest are chanting away to stop my spirit getting lost, or something, while I'm here.' She stopped and looked at Giles, then continued, 'I thought it would be easy. But it's not. I know my Willow, and my Xander are still alive but it doesn't stop the pain.' Giles smiled sadly.
'I know, Buffy,' he said softly, 'the letter the me, uh, Giles from your true dimension sent me explained all that. When you died, I mean my Buffy died it hurt more that I could bear. Then you appeared.
'It's becoming more difficult to remember isn't it?' Buffy nodded.
'Seeing Kathy made me remember because she was brought here from another place as well,' Buffy said. Giles nodded.
'Don't worry,' Giles said, 'we'll fix it.' Buffy nodded and rested her head on the sofa arm once she had placed her now cold tea on the table, and drifted off into a deep sleep.
Angel followed Sapphire and her new boy down into the sewers; he had left Shock in charge while the scouts showed Angel the new lair. After about a fifteen-minute walk in silence Sapphire stopped and waited while her new boy opened the access. The boy held it open while Angel, followed by Sapphire, climbed into what appeared to be the basement of a large house.
'Tada!' Sapphire said as her boy closed the hatch behind him as silently as possible. Angel looked around the dark room in silence. It smelt slightly of damp and mildew and the four walls were lined with shelves that appeared to house various sized, and coloured bottles of different wines and champagnes. A bare light bulb hung from the ceiling and when Sapphire crossed the room to switch it on it gave off a dull glow. Concrete steps led up from the chilly wine cellar to a white wooden door with a brass knob. Angel smiled. 'We'll have to wait until nightfall to go into the main house as the curtains are all open. We checked after we killed the proprietor.'
'How did you get invited?' Angel asked as his eyes fell on a small heap of bloodstained clothes with the dead owner still in them. Sapphire smiled and looked at her new guy.
'That was easy,' she said as she reached for her guy's large hand. 'Jerry knew the old lady. She was his aunt Claudia. While he still lived to home, before he ran away that is, he used to go over every Christmas with his parents. So when she heard the knocking from the access she opened it and invited us in. Her mistake.' Angel smiled.
'Go back and get the others,' Angel said as he crossed over to a wine rack and pulled out a dusty bottle of Moet and blew the dust from the label. Sapphire smiled and followed Jerry back down the hatch.
'Back soon,' she said smiling. Angel nodded and smiled. He turned to the dead old lady and uncorked the bottle. 'Thank you so much for being a wonderful host,' he said as he found a crystal wine glass on top of the wine shelf and poured himself a glass. 'Cheers.'
Shock sighed. He had just spent the last quarter of an hour with Drusilla's constant claptrap chat in his ear. Then there was the fact that she punctuated these insane comments with growls aimed at him. He sighed again. He did not know how Angel and Spike, and Darla for a time, had put up with her. He had snapped a few minutes before and now Drusilla was quietly growling at him from the corner. He stood up and crossed over to the door.
'Where are you going?' Louisa asked him quietly, she knew his temper. Shock pulled open the door.
'Somewhere where I don't have to listen to Drusilla's barmy ranting, drivel, odd comments, and annoying bloody growling,' he said as he pressed his forehead against the cold steel of the door. Louisa stood up and walked over to him and he let go of the handle; releasing the door.
'Hush,' she whispered as she gently rubbed his shoulders. 'Dru doesn't mean it.'
'Yes she bloody well does,' he argued, Louisa noticed that the swearing did not suit his accent. She pouted.
'Shock,' she said eventually, 'Sapphire and that new sheep of her's didn't take very long to find the new place and come back. They won't be long.' Shock nodded. Drusilla stood up, cradling Miss Edith in her arms as if the doll was real.
'The bad dog is being mean Miss Edith,' she told it as she started to rock the doll. 'Daddy shan't be happy when he discovers the bad dog's hidden bone. All covered up by the tangled weed and sticky cobwebs, and buried in consecrated soil. Burning. Burning inside of him.'
'Ok, that's enough Dru!' Shock said as he spun around to face the round-the-bend vampire. Louisa put a hand on his shoulder.
'Shock,' she said calming him. He sighed and kicked the door in frustration as he let it close with a clang. Seconds later the door opened and Sapphire sauntered in followed closely by Jerry the sheep.
'The Master wants us to join him in the new lair now,' she said calmly. 'You are to make sure everyone comes and that no one has the opportunity to stay behind,' Sapphire said as she led them back outside, Shock nodded, 'Oh, and you are to carry Drusilla so that her dress doesn't get wet.'
When Kathy woke later that evening she found everyone to be asleep. She walked into the kitchen but did not understand how to work the water pump or any of the strange colourful objects that resembled jugs and strange boxes. They were all made out of a strange material that was neither cold nor warm to the touch. She frowned. Suddenly the strange jug that she had been touching clicked and started to warm up. She yelped and pulled away her hand. A cupboard door opened and a cup flew through the air and landed on the counter. A glass jar that appeared to be filled with dark brown granules floated in the air and the top came off and settled on the counter top. A draw next to her opened and a spoon flew through the air, went into the jar, and came out pilled high with a heap of the brown granules. The spoon poured them into the mug then the lid jumped back onto the jar's neck, turned, and the jar floated back over to its shelf. Then the strange jug started to give off steam and it clicked again, then floated over to the mug and pored what appeared to be water into the cup. The strange jug took its place back on the counter and the cupboard door next to Kathy's shoulder opened releasing cold air and a strange bottle of what appeared to be milk. The milk poured itself into the mixture in the cup and then returned itself to the cold cupboard. The cup then floated over to the table and a chair pulled itself out for her. Her eyes widened, her pupils dilated, her mouth opened and she screamed.
Buffy woke to the sound of screaming and was up and running to help before most of the others had even opened their eyes. Seconds later Raven was by her side. They ran into Cordelia's kitchen to find Kathy screaming her head off.
'Shush,' Buffy said trying to calm the girl. Giles and Cordelia arrived seconds later.
'What's wrong, Kathy?' Giles asked the petrified girl who was trying to back away from a cup of fresh coffee on the table. Giles frowned. A chair moved back to its proper place and then Giles understood. The girl had come in wanting a drink and Phantom Dennis had tried to help because the girl had no idea how to work anything in Cordelia's modern kitchen. Giles' frown turned into a smile he looked at Buffy.
'Phantom Dennis,' they clarified.
'Oh,' Cordelia said catching on, 'don't worry. Phantom Dennis was just trying to help by making you a drink. He's my ghost,' she explained as she walked sleepily into her kitchen.
'G…ghost?' Kathy said quietly, obviously still terrified and not happy with the ghost explanation. Raven and Buffy frowned at Cordelia, who apologised quietly.
'What would you like to drink, or to eat?' Giles asked Kathy once she had calmed down a bit.
'Water please, sir,' she replied. Cordelia set about getting the girl a glass of water as Giles led the alarmed girl back into the lounge. 'Mr Giles are the other people Liam's friends as well?' Kathy asked Giles once they were seated. Gunn and Lucious looked at each other confused about the screaming.
'Dennis,' Cordelia said quietly as she handed the girl the glass of water. Gunn nodded and smiled at Lucious. Anya got up and went into the kitchen to get herself something to drink.
'Nice one mate,' Spike said to the ghost as Anya freed him on her way and he stood up and ambled over to the fridge. 'Cordy, you got any more blood around here?' He asked as he walked past her. She shook her head and he sighed.
'Yes these people are your brother's friends as well, Kathy,' Giles said cringing slightly at the memory of having to wash up congealed blood and Shredded Wheat - a result of one of Spike's strange eating habits. 'This is Gunn and Lucious,' Giles said introducing them, 'the girl who gave you the drink is Cordelia, the blond haired girls over there are Buffy and Raven, and the dark haired girl next to them is Anya.' At the mention of her name Anya turned and waved. Kathy smiled. Then Spike came in with a clear glass of a thick red liquid.
'Demon!' Kathy screamed. Giles frowned at Spike and the vampire smiled back.
'I'm Spike, nice to meet you too,' he said as he sat down in the chair across from Kathy and Giles. 'No need to pierce the eardrums girl, it's tomato juice, not blood.' The girl calmed instantly. 'But you're right though.'
'About what, sir?' She asked. Giles mouthed the word 'no', at Spike but the vampire simply smiled.
'I am a demon. A vampire actually,' he said as he took a sip of the tomato juice. Kathy's eyes widened and she clung to Giles for comfort. Umbra growled at Spike as he walked over to the girl. Spike smiled. 'Yeah, know your brother well I do, he's more like family really.' Buffy and Raven glared at Spike and he smiled back at the blonde girls. Spike realised that Raven had decided to keep her hair her natural colour; obviously she felt disguise was not needed anymore. 'Aw, come on!' Spike said calmly as he sat back, 'I'm evil.' Buffy sighed and walked over followed by Anya and Raven.
'Kathy, I'm Buffy and don't worry,' the slayer said as she sat down next to the girl, 'Spike won't harm you. He's a friend.' She glared at him.
'Now now, don't let's over exaggerate, slayer,' Spike said as he took another sip. Kathy closed her eyes. Giles sighed.
'Kathy,' Giles said still glaring at Spike who was doing his Cheshire cat impression, 'we are all your friends here. We want to find your brother as much as you do.' Kathy nodded as Umbra positioned himself between Spike and Kathy, protecting her. Spike smiled and sipped in silence. It was time for a time out, he had wound the girl up enough; more and the slayer, or Raven, would stake him in an instant. He took another sip and smiled again. It was so much more fun here.
Angel smiled as the last of his order climbed up into their new hideout. They were followed by an extremely aggravated Shock who was carrying Drusilla. He let her go and she smiled and walked to Angel's side. Shock swore and shut the hatch behind him. Louisa took off her wet boots, poured out the sewer water, and grumbled as she walked bare foot over to Shock.
'Sorry you all had to get your feet wet but we could be tracked if we walked on dry ground,' Angel explained as he ordered Jerry and Sapphire to distribute the crystal glasses around the group. Then they started to go around filling the empty glasses with the best champagne the deceased old lady had had to offer. The group's atmosphere immediately improved. Angel smiled. Shock pulled off his boots and ringed out his socks. Drusilla smiled again at him. He growled.
Raven and the others each scanned the books on their laps for information on the Vescumstalle and its weaknesses, so far there were no other references other than the one written by the Roman senator. Raven sighed. Giles had been talking to Kathy for most of the evening and Buffy had decided that come nightfall she and Raven would go tracking again with Umbra. Gunn's crew had been calling all afternoon; they had no information, no leads, nothing. Raven sighed. Umbra looked up and checked where Spike was every minute or so and Raven knew that that was making the vampire edgy. She smiled. Buffy sighed in frustration.
'Giles, there is nothing about the Vescumstalle anywhere,' she said as she stood up and stretched briefly. Giles nodded as he left Kathy talking to Lucious under the watchful amber eyes of Umbra, and walked over to his aggravated slayer. Raven stood up and smiled wearily at Giles who returned the smile.
'The poor girl is still confused but she seems to have calmed down a great deal now,' Giles said as he led the girls into the empty kitchen. Phantom Dennis had been quite quiet since the incident earlier that evening, and Giles could not help but feel sorry for the poor ghost. He started to pour another cup of coffee from the jug on the side and offered Buffy and Raven a cup. Both shook their heads and waited for Giles to tell them what he had managed to discover from Kathy. Giles took a sip from his mug and sighed. 'If Willow is a vampire, Buffy, and Spike wasn't just having you on. You will have to kill her,' Giles said gently.
'I know,' Buffy said quietly. 'Did you find out anything useful from Kathy?'
'Not really,' Giles said shaking his head slightly, 'the poor girl is still quite confused and we didn't really expect to either. It's her effect on Angel we are interested in.' Buffy nodded. She looked through the doorway and watched as Kathy laughed at something Lucious had said; she looked so much like her brother. Buffy turned back to face Giles and Raven.
'Raven and I are going to go out tracking in a few minutes,' Buffy told her watcher. 'Gunn is going to cruise around with Cordy and beat up a few snitches they know to see if they've heard anything well Gunn is, I'm not quite sure what Cordy is going to do actually.' Giles smiled and nodded. Raven poured herself a glass of water and sipped it as slayer and watcher talked. Gunn walked in and smiled at Raven.
'It'd be helpful if Cordelia could have one of those visions with the location of the vamps' nest or something,' Gunn said as he opened a bag of salted chips.
'Hello, I can't control the visions,' Cordelia's voice drifted in from the lounge. Buffy smiled.
'How's Tara doing?' Giles asked. Buffy sighed.
'She's not good,' Buffy said as she shook her head. 'She loved Willow.'
'We all did in our own ways,' Giles added and Buffy nodded in agreement. Spike stood up and walked into the kitchen. Umbra's eyes followed him.
'Well I wouldn't grieve if I was the little witch,' Spike said, 'because Red has already found herself a new honey.'
'You love feeding us bits of useless information at really bad times don't you,' Buffy hissed, her voice dripping with venom.
'Touchy, touchy love,' Spike said as he pulled out a chair to sit down, Buffy laughed as Phantom Dennis pulled the chair out from under Spike and the Brit landed on the floor. Giles smiled.
'Serves you right there, dog,' Gunn said as he pulled out a chair and sat down without mishap. Raven smiled as Spike got up, a frown on his face.
'Why don't you stop your bloody mutt from looking at me all the time, love? Or he might just have a small accident,' Spike said menacingly. Raven laughed. Spike growled and leant against the counter. 'I waited for you in friendship,' Spike said as he glared at Umbra.
'Then do us a favour and shut your trap because I'm sick of hearing your pansy ass winging,' Gunn said voicing everyone's feelings.
'Fine then. I'll just go and find Nancy Boy and tell him what you are all bloody well up to shall I?' Spike said as he stared for the door. Umbra growled.
'Sit down, Spike,' Buffy said, her voice becoming more impatient by the second. Spike tried the door handle but Umbra jumped up and gave Spike a warning bite on his hand. Spike let go of the door handle and went to kick Umbra but thought better of it and flopped down into a chair clutching his already healing hand.
'Don't just flop down onto my chairs!' Cordelia shouted at him. Spike sighed. This was just so fun.
Angel sensed the sun had set and sent Sapphire and David up the stairs to show him around the house. Drusilla followed him and smiled when she saw the extravagance of their new place. The banisters were mahogany and the floor was marble. The couches were leather and the curtains were velvet. Plus the place stunk of wax polish. Angel smiled. This was more like it. He went up the stairs with Drusilla in tow and they chose their room. Drusilla put Miss Edith down on the bed and Angel watched as she went through the vast wardrobes in the separate dressing area. A creaky floorboard alerted him to the fact that someone was standing in the doorway. Angel looked up. Shock. Angel nodded and he walked in.
'Do you want me to take some out feeding now?' Shock asked his sire as he walked over to a window and leaned against it. This room smelt of wax polish as well. Angel nodded.
'Yes, but be careful, don't get caught and don't leave tracks, we don't want the slayer to come and spoil it all for us. On your way out send Willow up, I need to talk to her,' Angel said as he stood up and crossed over to join Shock by a windowsill. Shock nodded and left the room and walked quickly down the wooden stairs, he found Willow and Elfin in the Games room, playing pool.
'Willow,' Shock said casually, 'the Master wants to talk to you upstairs,' he said as he watched Louisa lean over the table in her low cut top, with her pool cue and cleanly pot the blue. He smiled and she winked at him. Willow nodded and started up the stairs with Elfin. 'Lou, you're in charge down here while I take groups out feeding.' Louisa nodded and bent over to take another shot. Shock tore his eyes away from her and gathered together a group; he led them down into the sewer water again and then led his small group upstream. A few minutes later they climbed up and into the factory they had vacated earlier, and from there he led his charges out into the night.
Buffy and Raven left the house after tying Spike up in Cordelia's bath tub on the insistence of Giles. Buffy mounted Spirit Gale behind Raven and for the first time she felt completely safe on the Pegasus' back. She sighed as she watched the vast city roll beneath her. Oh Willow, she thought to herself, I am so sorry. If only I had just tried searching for you harder, then maybe you'd still be here. But she knew it was pointless. This Willow was dead and there was nothing she could do about it.
Cordelia and Gunn found Merl coming out of Caritas and grabbed him before he could run away. The green tongue-less demon glanced around nervously.
'You, uh, you didn't happen to bring the vampire with you did ya?' He asked as his beady eyes probed the darkness. Cordelia shook her head. Merl visibly relaxed and all his insecurities instantly vanished.
'But don't you think for one instant that I won't beat you up just as good,' Gunn said menacingly as he pressed his razor sharp axe blade to the demon's throat. 'So talk.'
'I'm sorry to hear about your friend, the British guy' Merl said calmly, 'he was decent. Knew how to treat a guy.'
'Can it,' Gunn said as he purposely nicked the snitch's throat, Merl gulped.
'Alright, alright,' he said hurriedly in his whingeing intonation, 'all I've heard is that your gorgons have been quiet since the lightning, none of the nasties'll go anywhere near that graveyard, and in my humble opinion; that's not good. Something about a Vescumstalle. But that's all I know, I swear.' Cordelia sighed and Gunn pressed the blade drawing a drop of blood. Merl's eyes widened.
'I… I heard something about your vampire friends though.'
'Go on,' Gunn said calmly.
'Well, word is that your boy and his group have moved again, some were seen coming out of a factory near here. It's my guess that they're recruiting. That's all I know.'
'Where's the factory?' Gunn asked steadily.
'I don't know,' Merl replied hurriedly.
'It that it?' Gunn asked, 'because if I find out that you've lied to us and I have to come back, I am not going to be in such a good mood, you hearing me?' Merl nodded. 'Alright then.' Gunn said as he and Cordelia left Merl rubbing his throat and headed back towards the apartment it was not much but now they had a lead.
Willow raised a hand and knocked on the door to the main bedroom of the second floor. Elfin was giggling nervously behind her about a joke they had shared with Louisa earlier. Willow smiled. Her sensitive ears picked up sounds of movement from behind the expensive looking door, then the intricately designed door handle twisted and the door opened inwards. Angel nodded and allowed Willow to enter.
'Elfin, could you wait downstairs?' Angel ordered as he started to shut the door. Willow watched as Elfin disappeared back down the stairs and then there was nothing but wood in her field of vision. Behind her a voice floated across the room like expensive perfume and she felt Angel's presence move from the door to deeper in the belly of the room.
'Daddy,' the musical voice whispered, 'the black bird is coming with the slayer in tow, around, around, around they go.' Willow turned, the owner of the voice, Drusilla, sat on the bed with her doll on her lap, she was rocking slowly, her hand absently stroking the doll's silky hair, her eyes were vacant. Willow's eyes scanned the room and found Angel staring out of the dark window onto the dimly lit street below.
'What was it you wanted to talk to me about?' Willow asked cocking her head to the side slightly and raising a questioning eyebrow. Angel turned slowly to face her, the glow from the streetlamp lit his face at an odd angle as it flickered, and his expression was therefore rendered unreadable. She waited for him to answer her, Drusilla's song continued to snag the silence in random intervals that cut through the quiet like a brand new knife blade cut soft butter.
'You realise that the slayer probably knows that you are one of us now,' he said finally. Willow frowned.
'How?' She replied simply. Angel's silhouette raised his hands and brought them together, intertwining his fingers like liana creeper vines.
'Spike,' he sighed, 'he has done it before.'
'Done what before?' Willow asked him. She folded her arms and tried to ignore Drusilla, she had no idea how Angel did it.
'Made a pact with the slayer,' he replied simply.
'My naughty boy turned on us, stopped us sending the world into hell. Let the slayer kill Daddy, sent Daddy to hell. Into the darkness where the evil things go, to join Grand mum,' Drusilla whispered darkly from the bed.
'Spike told Buffy where you had taken Giles to so that you could torture him into telling you how to awaken Acathla?' Willow said, she had not known that; Buffy had told her that Willow would not believe how she had found the vampire's hideout if she told her. Angel nodded gravely.
'He made a deal with her; she let him escape with Drusilla and he kept Giles alive,' Angel added.
'Do you think he has made a similar deal?' Willow asked, things made more sense now.
'Maybe,' he said finally, 'but I am almost certain that the slayer knows about you though.' Willow nodded.
'I could still pretend to be human to fool her,' Willow said hopefully. Angel shook his head.
'You know as well as I do that she is not stupid enough to fall for that,' he said smiling slightly. Willow nodded in agreement.
'I know,' she said finally. 'So what do we do now?'
'The puppet's strings are all tangled and the left foot dangles strangely…the string is broken. One tug and the others will snap. One…by…one,' Drusilla said as she clicked her fingers on each word. 'Daddy, the nasty black bird pecks at the strings too.'
'We wait, and play on her emotions a little,' Angel said, turning so the flickering light sharpened his features. Drusilla clapped in excitement, Willow growled.
Shock watched as his little group hunted and caught and killed. They had turned every other one that they had caught so far and their numbers were steadily increasing. The ones that they had turned lay unconscious now in the sewer with a guard to great them when they awoke. Shock looked up from the girl he was feeding off occasionally to check on them. He had led them to an abandoned alley where he had heard kids liked to hang out undisturbed. The alley had been as promised; a dead end, dark, sewer access, and full of teens – most of whom were cornered and being fed off, the rest had already been turned. The girl in his arms moaned and he returned to his meal.
Angel looked deep into Willow's eyes for a moment.
'I need you to tell me something,' he said finally. Drusilla smiled. Willow frowned slightly.
'What do you want me to tell you?' She asked.
'He wants to know how the slayer wriggled her way through the wormy earth, back from the dead,' Drusilla answered as she continued to caress Miss Edith's hair absently. Willow brightened considerably.
'She isn't back from the dead. She came through a portal,' Willow said as she walked over to stand by he windowsill. Outside was dark and still. A cat trotted across the road then darted into a garden the other side of the silent street.
'She's not from our dimension?' Angel said raising an eyebrow slightly. Willow shook her head.
'No, her Giles from her home dimension supposedly discovered that there would be an apocalypse or an event that would tare apart the inter-dimensional walls so all the realities would seep into the others creating one big hell or something. She was sent here to help stop it as it can only be stopped where it is started and it will start in this dimension,' she finished. Angel smiled.
'Thank you Willow,' he said as he crossed back over to Drusilla, 'when Shock comes back go out and feed.' Willow nodded and headed towards the door leaving Angel and Drusilla alone.
It was a minute past midnight and the living day creatures were sleeping. The nocturnal hunters ruled the night and their prey and Calliope knew it.
By day the dusty track she was walking along was flanked either side by dead and bone dry grasses but the night hid them from view unless you were literally right on top of them and then you could only feel them. The moon gave the only light now. The only sounds that broke the silence of the still night were those of the chirping insects.
The olive trees rustled slightly and Calliope turned just in case it was danger lurking in the dark finger like branches. A sharp answering keswick told her that it was in fact an owl. The call was followed by a quavering poo-hooo poo-poo-hooo. She turned and continued down the path, her leather sandals kicking up the dry dust even though she tried to be as stealthy as possible. She did not want to alert her prey that she was out hunting. She was the vampir slayer; she was the only one who could protect the people of Greece at night.
She had been called four months before. She had been out with her older sister Calypso when a man had approached them; he had been in his late twenties. He had ignored Calypso and had whispered to Calliope as he passed that he would be waiting by the secret water supply near the top of the Lion Gate that lead to their city, Mycenae. Calypso had not noticed and something inside Calliope had told her not to tell her sister. That night she had stolen out and had found the entrance to the secret water supply, if the city was to be attacked they could stay sealed up and not need to come out for food and water as they had a water supply that the enemy could not cut off. Though the chances of Mycenae being taken by an enemy were slim as the city was surrounded on three sides by a shear cliff face, and there was only one main entrance – the Lion Gate.
There had been no one there just the black hole of an entrance carved out of the rock. Gingerly she had started down the dark stone stairs. She remembered that the air had smelt slightly damp and musty because of the water, and she had watched as her shadow – cast by the full moon behind her – stretched out in front of her fearlessly leading the way. She had turned the corner to the left and peered down into the darkness, the moonlight had not reached that far and it had been too dark to see anything. She had cautiously continued down the stairs, this time keeping one hand on the rough, damp stonewall as guidance, and the other hand out in front. She remembered feeling like she had walked forever in the darkness, as if she was descending down the stone steps to meet Hades, being swallowed whole, to be spat out at Cerberus – the three headed guard dog of the underworld – 's feet. Suddenly she had stopped dead in her tracks. She had heard the crunch of footsteps. Was it the guards who on king Agamemnon's order patrolled the city? Or was it something worse? She had strained to place the noise. Then she had realised that the sound had not been coming from above her. It was coming from below. Suddenly the tunnel had been filled with light and she had been temporally blinded. Once her eyes had adjusted and she had mustered up the courage to open her eyes again, she had seen the man from that evening standing before her holding a small burning torch. He had gestured wordlessly for her to follow and she had in silence. He led her further down, deeper into the belly of rock, down countless steps and around a right turn until the steps stopped. Was she in the underworld? Was Cerberus there waiting for her? He had led her to the left and she flinched as something furry scuttled across her foot. She had managed not to scream but hurried up instead. Her heart had started to beat faster with a fusion of anticipation and anxiety. Finally the man with the torch had stopped by the water. He had placed the torch into a copper ring in the wall, the light had seemed to flood the room and the glow had glinted off the dark water. Was Charon there, waiting, to ferry her across the infernal rivers: Styx – the river of hate, Acheron – the river of woe, Lethe – the river of forgetfulness, Cocytus – the river of wailing, and Phlegethon – the river of fire, to the kingdom of the dead on the other side? Was she dead? If so then where was Hermes Psychopompos to lead her down to Hades? Would she be damned to go to Erebos or Tartaros? Or would she go to the Elysian Fields of the Blessed? The man had spoken calmly to her in Greek but his accent had seemed strange though she had gotten used to it quickly.
'Calliope,' he had said quietly, 'my name is Darius, and I am to be your watcher.' She had frowned at that.
'Watcher?' She had asked matching his volume. He had smiled and handed her a wooden stake.
'You are the chosen one,' he had said with a strange look on his face, she still could not figure out what that look had been, amusement?
'Chosen for what, sir?' She had asked, gaining confidence now.
'Calliope, you are the slayer. Unto each generation there is a chosen one. She alone shall fight the vampirs, the demons, and the forces of darkness, she is the slayer.' At this she had dumbly nodded, overwhelmed. Her mother had told her of the myth; a great female warrior helped by Ares, the god of war, and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the moon. She had been shocked. Darius had gone on to tell her about her duty and from that night on he had been training her down in the secrecy of the secret water supply. She had seen her first vampir a week later, she had been unprepared and Darius had staked it, but now, four months later, she was ready and had already staked three vampires herself without Darius' help. Not many vampirs came to Mycenae as the Lion Gate was closed at night, plus it was guarded closely. The night before, Darius had explained that one night in the not too distant future they would have to leave Mycenae and escape from Agamemnon. If they survived they would have to live the rest of their lives in hiding. The thought alone scared Calliope, not only would she never see her family again but the fact that no one had ever escaped the King and stayed alive scared her more than a few months ago she would have thought possible. The mighty stone Lion Gates served two purposes she had come to realise; they kept things out, but they also kept things in.
Up ahead she saw what she had been looking for; a hunched figure held something bulky against its chest. She clenched the sharp piece of wood tightly in her hand and she crept forward using all the skill Darius had taught her to harness over the past few months. She could see the figure more clearly now; it had been a woman and it was feeding off one of the palace guards. All her concentration was on the figure ahead so she did not notice the second one until he had her around the throat. She kicked out but the vampir held her tight. She felt her strength sap away from lack of air; her lungs screamed inside of her, her ears ached from the high-pitched noise screech. She tried to breathe but to no avail. She felt her vision darken and she said a silent prayer to her family and to the gods, and apologised to Darius. Suddenly she could breathe again. Air rushed into her lungs making her dizzy and she fell to the floor. She struck her head on a stone and the last thing she saw was a figure in a brown shawl expertly decapitate the vampir with a sword. Then her world dissolved to darkness.
Calliope woke groggily some time later. She found that she was back down in the secret water supply. She tried to sit up but her head suddenly exploded in a sharp knot of pain.
'Darius?' She whispered as the memory of her waltz with death came flooding back to her.
'Calliope,' his soft voice answered, 'how do you feel?'
'Darius I am so sorry,' she gushed as she raised a hand to her head; she found a small clot of blood that stung when she gently probed it. Darius smiled and helped her sit up. 'How's the guard? Did you save him?'
'Calliope, I didn't save you,' he replied. She realised then that there were other people in the room; a young woman with a sword with a ruby and hematite encrusted hilt and a brown woollen shawl was bent over the guard who had managed to sit up and was sipping something from a pottery cup. A black wolf lay quietly at the girl's feet. Then she realised that she was not in the secret water supply but in Darius' small one roomed villa. Darius gestured to the woman and she stood up and walked over. She had long golden hair that tumbled in ringlets from beneath the woollen shawl's hood and she had amazing blue eyes like twin sapphires set in marble skin.
'My name is Chamaray,' she said, her accent was strange and lilting like milk and honey. Chamaray smiled at her. 'I've been sent to help you get to Athens where you are needed.' Calliope frowned and looked at her watcher, Darius nodded solemnly.
'When are we to leave?' Calliope asked panicking slightly.
'Tonight,' her watcher answered.'
'But I can't say good bye to Calypso and my parents,' she wailed slightly. Though deep down she knew that it was what Zeus wanted so she would do it.
'We shall leave tonight. Xerxes, my close friend, the guard Chamaray saved, will get us through the gates but from then on we are on our own. Chamaray will escort us,' Darius explained as he helped Calliope to her feet. She nodded solemnly as Chamaray helped Xerxes up. The wolf got lazily to his feet and yawned. Calliope knew that they were going to be travelling light, carrying only food and water, and that the road ahead would be long and dangerous; bandits and demons who would each be waiting for their pound of flesh around every corner. She shivered with the thought. They walked to the door and started past the palace, down the steps that lead to the mighty Lion Gate - guarded by its stone lions - and the grave circle.
Xerxes motioned for them all to wait out of sight while he went down to talk to the gate guards – Xenophon and Sicinnus. Sicinnus was the father of Leonidas, the young man Calliope was to have married come winter. She banished the sad thought from her mind and waited for Xenophon and Sicinnus to pass them on their way back up the steep steps to the palace. Once they were out of sight and their footfalls could no longer be heard Xerxes motioned to them to hurry. The three silent figures and the wolf – who Chamaray and Darius had spent a few minutes assuring her would not harm her – descended the last few steps and passed through the impressive gate. Calliope watched as Darius and Xerxes said silent goodbyes, she knew that Xerxes would probably be killed for letting them leave. Then they started down the hill that lead away from the mighty kingdom of Mycenae.
A few minutes later they stopped; Darius and Chamaray had been talking all the way quiet enough so that she could only hear odd words that meant nothing with out the full content of the sentence and they were speaking in a different language anyway. She had seen Darius' written notes on her, he called them his diaries, they had all been written in a different language that she could not read, she could not read or write anyway but she had not been able to recognise any of the letters. She had asked her watcher and he had explained that it was a different alphabet.
What she saw next both surprised and frightened her; the wolf changed shape. It transformed into a Pegasus. Her mother had taught her of beasts that could change form, Zeus, the king of the gods himself had assumed the form of an animal himself a few times. There was the story of Echo and Narcissus, and of Apollo and Daphne. Then there was the separate story of the Pegasus, who sprang from the throat of Medusa, when the hero Perseus cut off her head, along with the hero Chrysaor, who with Bellerophon was a son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. She was about to scream when the winged stallion walked quietly over to her and gently rubbed its soft furry nose against her cheek. She calmed instantly. Chamaray climbed onto Pegasus' back and Calliope, named after the muse of poetry and song, climbed on after then helped Darius up. Together the three held on tightly as the Pegasus gathered up speed and then burst into flight. Before Calliope was lulled to an exhausted sleep she asked Chamaray quietly something that had just occurred to her.
'How did you get Pegasus from Bellerophon?' She asked the blond haired woman in Greek sleepily.
'I didn't,' came the blurred reply.
By daybreak they had arrived in Athens. Umbra had carried Calliope on his back in the form of a simple horse through the busy city until Darius had found a place that they could afford to rent. Chamaray had agreed to stay for a month or so until Calliope had been trained well enough to work on her own; Athens was full of vampirs waiting and ready to capture and kill the new slayer and she needed someone to watch her back until she was ready to fight alone. Over the months she had grown fond of the young slayer and had become more than friends with Darius. They were passing as a family now and no word had come from Agamemnon about escaped slaves or about the death of a prison guard who had aided their escape. It was dark now and the moon was a sickly red like a bloody thumbprint in the sky. Darius and Chamaray walked arm in arm as they watched Calliope and Umbra hunt silently from a distance. The next few minutes were a total blur; twelve cloaked vampirs had surrounded Calliope and had struck her down. Umbra had changed into a fire-breathing dragon and was trying to torch the vampirs but they had Calliope's unconscious form too close to them and Umbra held back, he did not want to risk burning the girl. Chamaray drew her sword and ran to fight them, Darius by her side, but they had fled. Umbra had chased them but they had disappeared down one of the side streets. Umbra had not been able to find a scent. They had walked back to their villa in a painful silence.
A knock at the door had startled them. Darius had answered it to find nothing but a small stone tablet with a message engraved. Chamaray never found out what the message was.
'I'm sorry Chamaray, but it's my duty to protect her,' Darius had said sadly as he whistled to Umbra and the wolf had followed him trustingly outside. Chamaray had followed thinking that Darius had taken Umbra to see whether they could get a scent. Umbra and Darius were out of the door before her. The next few minutes seemed like a bad dream. Darius grabbed Umbra by the scruff of the neck tightly and shouted into the darkness. She ran out and tried to wrestle Umbra away from him but he hit her and she stumbled back. The twelve vampirs had appeared from the shadows and their leader had stepped forward. Three grabbed Chamaray and one clamped a hand over her mouth. She could see now that they had been king Agamemnon's message cohort and guards. Their leader walked over to Darius and slipped a thick rope around Umbra's neck and muzzled the wolf with a second. Darius let go of the wolf and the vampir grabbed Umbra's scruff tightly. Chamaray screamed through the cold un-dead flesh of the vampir's hand at Darius but he ignored her. Then Calliope was released by two of the other vampirs and Darius picked her limp form up. The leader then kicked Umbra who was growling. Rage surged through Chamaray and her eyes glowed amber with such suddenness that her body convulsed with the force. The vampir holding Chamaray's hands let go of them in shock as he crumbled to dust and she held her palms out to the sky. A white light erupted from her hands and then the rest of the vampirs were dust and the ropes had disappeared. Umbra let out a low growl and howled. Darius started to weep. The vampirs had tricked him; Calliope was dead. He turned to face Chamaray his features set in agony. Thunder rumbled overhead and he realised that the red moon was blanketed with dark clouds. The clouds burst violently as a flash of lightning crackled across the sky and rain started to pelt his miserable frame. All he could see between the flashes were two sets of amber eyes. He collapsed to the floor frustration and realisation over taking him; Calliope's lifeless corpse fell to the floor and her head split open upon impact with the wet stone. Chamaray turned her back on his tears, his pain, his pleading, Umbra transformed into the Pegasus and let out a whinny that sounded like the deceased rising from the dead, a banshee wail of doom. Both Umbra and Chamaray were bone dry. Chamaray mounted Spirit Gale and ignored Darius' last plea for her to forgive him, for her to stay. Spirit Gale took off and Chamaray did not look back, back at the broken man who would be the last person she would trust, last she would love, last she would care for, for thousands of lonely years to come.
Spirit Gale whickered softly and Buffy looked down. They had found them. The pent up frustration grew wings and flew from Buffy's shoulders releasing a dead weight. She smiled. Raven had seen them too; a group of vampires, maybe twenty, lead by the dark haired spawn of Satan himself, Shock.
'There are too many,' Buffy said quietly. 'Gunn and Cordy are around here somewhere.'
'Cordy fight?' Raven whispered back. Buffy laughed softly as Spirit Gale turned and started once again to gain speed. Buffy scanned the rolling city beneath her but could not make anything out; they were going too fast. Suddenly Buffy realised that they had landed. Cordelia and Gunn stood smiling in front of them.
'Yo. We got a lead, something about the factory being in this here 'hood,' Gunn said brightly.
'Well we've found them,' Raven said simply and indicated for them to hop on. Buffy felt Spirit Gale grow beneath her legs and soon he was big enough for four. Gunn shook off whatever fears he may have had and was all business.
'How many?' He asked as he clambered onto the Pegasus' broad back. He turned slightly to help Cordelia up then turned back to face Buffy and Raven as Spirit Gale started the taking off process.
'Roughly twenty, most are fledglings,' Raven answered. Gunn frowned slightly.
'We goin' to need back up?' He asked gravely. Raven nodded. Gunn retrieved his cell phone from his jacket and speed dialled his crew's number. Buffy frowned.
'Fledglings?' Buffy asked quietly. Raven smiled.
'The old nickname for new vampires,' she explained as Spirit Gale slowed. Gunn looked around and established the location of the factory, then finished his conversation and returned the cell phone to his pocket.
'They'll be here in five, we just gotta stall,' he said solemnly. Buffy nodded.
'Good. Could you ring Giles?' The slayer asked as they landed outside the factory.
The gorgons frowned as they watched the warrior, the slayer, the girl, and the boy climb down from their Pegasus outside their master's current hideout. The elder cocked her head to the side and the snakes writhed uneasily on her shoulders.
'Sister,' she whispered in Greek, 'they are too close. Shall we send it, sister?' Her sister scratched her snakes thoughtfully then nodded.
'Yes we shall, sister.'
Louisa paced anxiously. Shock had been gone a long time now. She glanced nervously at the clock on the games room wall then back at the wooden floor. She was getting a bad feeling about this.
Cordelia's apartment phone rang twice before it was picked up. Anya passed the phone to Giles who received it gratefully.
'Ah, Gunn,' he said as the young man explained the current situation. Giles nodded in understanding even though he knew that Gunn could not see him. 'We'll be there right away.' The watcher put the phone down and turned to Kathy. 'We've found your brother. Are you ready?' Kathy nodded bravely, Lucious squeezed her hand reassuringly and they stood up together. Anya and Tara grabbed their bundle of magickal supplies and joined Giles, Lucious and Kathy at the door. Just as they were about to leave a voice drifted across the apartment.
'You're not going to leave me here in this bloody bath tub while you guys have all the fun! The slayer is going to finally kill her pimp and I want to be there!' Giles sighed and opened the door. The small group left the apartment and the complaining voice and locked the door. A few minutes later they were on the road.
Shock heard sounds of hooves and hushed voices over the noise the fledglings were making and at once ordered them to start going down the sewers. The goodies had arrived. Shock fought back the anger that rose inside him like a giant serpent…serpent! He closed his eyes and tried to contact his gorgons. Before him, when he opened his eyes, he saw nothing but darkness. He called out. After what seemed like hours he got an answer in snatches as it was sent in the wind.
'We've sent it…It will destroy the slayer and the warrior…Beware…The cavalry is coming to help them…Run…run…run.'
Buffy wasted no time with chatting, as soon as the call to Giles had been made she turned to Raven. The strong wind that had started from nothing moments before whipped her hair around her sombre face.
'That magick you used on Spike, could you do it here? Get rid of all the vamps with a thought or something?' The slayer asked quietly. Raven shook her head slightly.
'That kind of power dos not come to me very often, but I'll try,' Raven explained. Buffy nodded then raised a leg and kicked the door in, it swung with a loud whine on its rusty hinges; no one had locked it. They had left it un-barricaded and open. Raven had drawn her sword and had handed the slayer her crossbow both were battle ready. Gunn had his axe at the ready and surprisingly Cordelia had found a small dagger from somewhere. Spirit Gale transformed into a massive red dragon only barely able to fit through the double doors meant for lorries and such. Buffy's smile was grim as she and Raven charged through the door with Gunn, Cordy and Spirit Gale, the ground trembling slightly with his every step under his immense weight, right behind them. This time the place was not empty; seven fledglings and Shock stood near a sewer access, the seventh fledgling had his feet over the edge. Raven was moving around the wall of the building before Buffy could come up with a witty comment.
'Shock!' Buffy called signalling Raven to stop. The factory was deathly silent and her voice echoed around the factory. Shock smiled calmly and walked forward, unafraid. The slayer did not know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.
'Well if it isn't little miss let's-charge-in-to-situations-I-know-nothing-about ,' he said as he walked steadily towards her. Fledglings were coming back out of the sewer access now. 'What can I do for you?' He asked as he stopped dead centre of the room. 'Want to find Angel? Want to help? Oh! I get it,' he said as he held his hands out to the side, 'you want to find Willow! Now aren't you just being selfish. Did it ever occur to you that she wanted this?'
'Do you ever stop talking?' Buffy asked shifting the weight of the crossbow in her hands. Shock smiled.
'Pity you don't want to listen. I could have told you some nice things that you could have just needed,' Shock said, his smile darkening. He turned to his small army who had returned to almost full size and raised a hand in the air. They charged past him and he disappeared, lost in the crowd. Buffy, Raven, Gunn, and Cordelia ducked as Spirit Gale grew too big for the doors and his head brushed the ceiling. Some of the fledglings stopped their rhinoceros charge, their eyes wide as the pretty living flamethrower threw flames that engulfed the party en-mass. In fact; in two fireballs. Spirit Gale roared as the screaming vampires burst into dust and crumbled before them. Buffy's eyes searched through the exploding corpses and realised just as she heard a car screech to a halt with what she recognised as Giles' brakes and Gunn's crew burst through the door behind her, that Shock had escaped. She sighed and turned to Raven. Both started in the direction of the sewer access, Spirit Gale thundering along behind them and changing into Umbra as he went. Buffy dropped into the sewer followed by Raven and Umbra then Gunn, Cordy, and the start of Gunn's crew. Umbra's sensitive ears pricked at the inaudible to Buffy sounds of movement from ahead and the party moved crocodile fashion with Raven and Umbra leading along the narrow sidewalk. Giles appeared behind her, the cuffs of his trousers were saturated; he had waded through the sewer water to get to her.
'Buffy, we found a little information on the Vescumstalle,' he said quietly. She nodded encouraging her watcher to continue with the thing he did best; fact finding. 'It only exists in this reality if someone calls it. It is exceedingly venomous and particularly dangerous.'
'Thank you,' the slayer replied quietly when she realized that that was all.
'Tara, Anya, Lucious and I have found a spell that should freeze it for a second or so, and maybe give you time to kill it. Kathy is frightened, but with us.' Buffy nodded and watched as Giles dropped back into the sewer water and waited for his group.
Shock knew they were following him and he did not care. He just needed to wait until the Vescumstalle got there and killed them all. He smiled, that was something he wanted to watch.
Drusilla moaned in pain and writhed on the bed. Angel frowned slightly.
'A vision?' He asked, concern evident on his face. Drusilla moaned again and clutched her stomach.
'The black bird and the slayer are coming, Daddy. A beast follows,' she smiled faintly and seemed to regain full consciousness. She looked into Angel's troubled eyes. 'It wants the slayer. A present all wrapped up in crepe paper with a bow on top. Glittery. It shines. Like a beacon,' her smile became real.
'A present?' Angel asked her as she sat up. She nodded and took his hand.
'For the slayer,' she said darkly. His smile surfaced.
'Will it kill her?'
'First it will play. Then she will scream. Then she will die.'
The twenty-first fledgling climbed hurriedly up the metal wall fixtures that served as steps and into the basement of their hideout after one of the older vampires. Both had been told to get to the hideout and tell the Master that the slayer was coming. Adrenaline surged through his body and he ran with his elder up the basement steps and up onto the first floor landing. He burst through the door that his elder stopped at. The next thing he knew, he was dust. His elder dropped his raised hand that had been ready to knock and he immediately apologised for the fledgling.
'Master, Shock sent me ahead to tell you that the slayer was coming, sir,' the vampire said as he averted his eyes from his Master's face in a show of respect.
'Leave,' came the reply. He nodded and backed out of the room slowly closing the door behind him.
Angel frowned and looked to Drusilla who was swaying slightly and singing a strange tuneless lullaby. The slayer was coming, yes, but what about the gift Drusilla had told him about. He shook his head and frowned. Drusilla stopped her singing and raised a clawed hand as if to scratch the air.
'Daddy,' she said in a hushed voice. Angel turned to see what she was doing now. She dropped the hand back down to the bed, cocked her head to one side and looked at him. 'It's coming Daddy, don't worry. The slayer will get her surprise. Poor slayer, so full of goodness and hope, pity it's about to be crushed and spat out.'
Buffy's heart thundered in her chest as the sounds Umbra was tracking became more audible. Umbra sped up and howled with blood curdling ferocity and disappeared around a corner. She hurried and found Raven climbing up a sewer access.
'That the one?' Buffy asked quietly. Raven nodded and pushed the hatch. It did not budge. She pushed it harder and once again it did not move. Buffy walked forward and climbed up the ladder, Raven moving as the slayer climbed to make room for her, and both pushed together. The hatch faltered then swung open. Buffy and Raven smiled then Raven climbed up then turned to help Buffy. Umbra jumped up then the rest of the group started their ascent. When all were gathered in the large room that appeared to be a wine cellar Buffy walked to the front of the group and stood on one of the steps that lead to the door. Every eye was on her.
'Everyone, we need to be as quiet as possible,' she said quiet enough for everyone to hear which was not difficult as the room was silent. 'There will be three groups, A, B, and C. Gunn's group will be team B; the members of this group will include all but four of Gunn's crew. The remaining four will be assigned to Giles' group, team C, along with Cordy, Tara and Anya. Group A will consist of Umbra, Raven, Lucious, Kathy, and me. Any questions?' She looked around the room. Subconsciously the group had split into the three groups. Buffy took a second to look at Lucious and Kathy both were frightened but Kathy wore the determined face of her brother and Lucious was thinking of revenge. 'Group B will be the main army; they will go up first and seal the exits and eliminate any vampires downstairs. Group A will make their way to the top floor where the leaders should be and confront them. Group C will stay and wait in the cellar and perform any spells you think we shall need with the four of Gunn's group as their protectors should any vampires or anything else comes and starts any trouble. Understood?' The room seemed to Chinese nod. Buffy smiled grimly. 'Then lets get ready to rumble.'
Louisa saw Shock take the stairs two at a time and ran to catch him up outside Angel's door. Shock ignored her and knocked.
'What's wrong?' She asked concern on her face. Shock sighed.
'You'll hear when I tell Angel,' he replied as the door opened. Shock rushed in followed by Louisa. 'They are coming.'
'Well what to you suggest?' Angel asked.
'I suggest we use the army downstairs for what they were made for and use them as a distraction while we escape,' Shock replied hurriedly. Angel nodded.
'Louisa, get Willow and Elfin, then bring them here.' Angel demanded. Louisa nodded and left through the door to find the named vampires.
Less than a minute later Louisa, Elfin and Willow had rejoined Angel, and Drusilla. Shock had already jumped through the window and was now standing on the neatly cut lawn near the crushed flowerbed waiting for Louisa. Louisa wasted no time and was through the window and standing by Shock a few seconds later. Angel, then Drusilla, then Willow, then Elfin followed her. The next thing Louisa knew she was running by Angel and Shock's sides, to where ever Shock was going to lead them. Probably the graveyard, she thought to herself as Shock pulled ahead so that he could lead. She smiled as her mind drifted back to how she had met Shock, not when she was human of course as that had just been embarrassing, but when she had first woken, reborn as a creature of the night, surging with new power. Even then she had never dreamed that her life, well un-life, could become more exciting in such a short period of time. She looked over at Drusilla and wondered how the insane vampiress could run in that old-fashioned blood red silk and lace dress and those out-dated red satin high-heeled shoes. She noticed then that she was running down a narrow street and she just dared an old lady or someone to step nervously out of their house to see what the commotion was about. She licked her lips. There was a slight drop as Shock led the party off the tree-bordered pavement and onto the tarmaced road. The sound of the females' heels on the road seemingly echoed down the street to bounce off posh expensive cars and flashy polished brass doorknobs. Then they were back on the pavement. Louisa's eyes once again wondered over to Drusilla and she noticed that Dru had not forgotten Miss Edith, the doll was clutched tightly in her hand. Louisa shook her head slightly and smiled.
On Buffy's word group B broke through the locked cellar door. Almost immediately they were confronted by a tsunami of vampires. Buffy watched for a second as one, then two of Gunn's group were cut down their screams silenced forever. Vampires exploded into dust left and right. She caught sight of Gunn wielding his axe like an expert. He decapitated a vampire with a quick sharp blow and then now certain that all the vampires were busy led Lucious, and Kathy up the stairs, Raven and Umbra protecting their backs. Buffy's heart twanged when she heard Kathy yelp with fright behind her and she turned and held out her hand. Kathy took it with her free hand, the one not being held by Lucious, and Buffy smiled reassuringly at the girl who was suddenly so like Dawn, her own sister. Kathy smiled back and Buffy continued up the stairs. She felt something fury brush her legs through her fighting trousers and realised that Umbra was going to lead them to the right room. She followed the black wolf but almost lost sight of him in her shadows as she crept down the dark corridor. Umbra really is the right name for him, Buffy thought as her eyes adjusted to the lack of light. She heard a faint growl from in front of her and she realised that Umbra was just letting her know where he was. Her heart rammed itself against her ribcage as she walked forward. Ahead she saw the wolf was sitting in front of an expensive looking door, he looked at her with his amber eyes and she knew; this was the door. She reached the door and felt for the doorknob. She tried to turn it but to no avail- it was locked. She let go of Kathy's hand and motioned to everyone to move back. She then raised a leg and kicked the door; the lock was ripped from the doorframe, splintering the frame and sending shards of wood across the floor with a satisfying crack. The door swung inwards and revealed an empty room. Buffy frowned and gingerly walked into the room. Her eyes searched the shadows as Raven checked under the bed and in the cupboards. The slayer's eyes fell on an open window as a gentle breeze caused the curtains to move slightly. Buffy sighed in frustration.
'They went out the window,' she said as defeat used her shoulders as a footrest. Her eyes pricked with tears of frustration as she sat shakily down on the four-poster bed.
The guards of group C paced nervously as Giles, Tara, Anya, and even Cordelia started a protection spell. They could hear the sounds of battle through the door and frustration built up inside them but they knew that they were there to protect the four spell casters and they would do that job to the best of their abilities.
Blood seeped through his shirt from the deep butcher's knife cut in his right bicep. Gunn swung his axe and it connected with the knife wielding vampire's thick neck decapitating him. He looked around for a second and made his way slowly to the stairs, his left hand pressed firmly to the throbbing cut in his arm, the axe in his right hand. He hauled himself onto the first step and surveyed the scene before him; there were roughly ten vampires left but a good number of his crew lay slain or badly injured. The problem had not been the fighting skill the vampires had possessed, as none of them had been very old or experienced except for the odd gymnast or karate expert, but the real problem had been the shear number of them. Gunn shook his head and limped hurriedly towards a female vampire that had his back to him and was about to imbed a bread knife in one of his crew's back. Gunn reached the long blonde haired vampire and beheaded her with one awkward jerky movement that caused him to flinch as pain shot through his arm. The saved and happily still alive youth turned and realised that Gunn had saved him and that his saviour was about to faint. He grabbed Gunn before he passed out and helped him back down to the safety of the cellar.
Angel found himself standing in a graveyard full of statues of mostly men in agony. His dark eyes scanned the faces of the stone and rested upon a familiar face - Alexander Harris. Angel smiled; he had never liked the boy. His eyes continued scanning the faces of stone until they fell upon Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. Drusilla was twirling around and around between the statues and smiling.
'It stinks of death. Old, like a crypt,' Drusilla said softly as she spun. Angel turned to Shock who was smiling strangely and raised an eyebrow.
'You've brought us to the gorgons' graveyard?' He asked still smiling, 'Don't get me wrong, I find looking at these statues highly amusing but if you haven't noticed there is no shelter here and gorgons tend to turn you to stone if you happen to look them in the face.' Shock turned to face Angel and smiled.
'But the slayer won't dare come up here,' Shock replied. Angel laughed softly.
'Yes, that would be because she isn't insane,' Angel said as he grabbed Drusilla's hand and started back down the hill. Shock sighed. Louisa walked to his side and slid her arms around his waist. Suddenly there was a whisper in the breeze, and the smell of something rotten. Then two figures appeared in Angel's path. Both wore tattered black cloaks and their hoods concealed their faces. Angel growled. Drusilla smiled and rocked slightly.
'Death,' she hissed. Angel did not take his eyes from the figures in front of him for fear that they would attack him if he exposed his back. He felt a presence other than Drusilla's, Shock. Shock continued to walk down the path past Angel and Drusilla and stopped in front of the gorgons. Louisa had stopped by Angel's side and smiled as Angel watched, curiosity creeping around inside of him. Angel felt Willow and Elfin's presence flanking him; he smiled then frowned slightly as he concentrated on Shock. The Romanian vampire stopped in front of the cloaked women and nodded slightly. One gorgon spoke in Greek to him and Angel strangely understood perfectly.
'We have sent the Vescumstalle after the slayer haven't we sister.'
'Yes we have, sister,' came the second gorgon's reply. Their voices were gravelly and raucous and they seemed to scratch your eardrums so it hurt to listen. Angel cringed and walked towards Shock his eyes averted in case the gorgons pulled their hoods back suddenly.
'What's going on?' Angel demanded. Shock smiled.
'I summoned the gorgons so they work for me,' he replied simply. Angel growled but he felt Drusilla's cold hand touch his own.
'Hush,' she said quietly, placing a finger of her free hand gently on his lips. 'They sent the present. Shock has been a bad boy but he was trying to help. He wants to end the world.' Angel nodded and kissed Drusilla's fingertip gently.
'The Vescumstalle is on its way now, isn't it sister,' the first gorgon said as it reached out a rough hand to the sky.
'The slayer's time is at hand, sister,' came the reply. A crystal ball materialised in the first gorgon's hand and Angel realised that the air had become colder and the sky had darkened with clouds cutting off the soft glow of the moon. The cold did not worry Angel as he had no need for body heat but he had a bad feeling that it was going to rain and he preferred it when he was dry. He looked into the crystal ball that was being held before the six vampires in a clawed hand. Willow and Elfin held hands and stared nervously into the ball. An image was forming.
Raven helped the distraught Buffy up and explained that Umbra had found a scent. Buffy watched as Umbra once again transformed into Spirit Gale in the form of a Pegasus. Raven jumped on the Pegasus' back then Buffy joined her, Buffy helped Lucious and Kathy on then held on tight as Spirit Gale jumped through the open window and landed safely outside. They all got down and Spirit Gale transformed back into Umbra. Buffy looked at Kathy, the girl was taking all this in rather well. Kathy smiled at Buffy and then she realised that Kathy was scared stupid, she was doing all of this for her brother. Buffy smiled sadly and looked at Lucious his face was set with revenge. He had described the girl who had tried to kill him while the two men were killing his brother as being called willow and having red hair. Buffy knew that given the chance the boy would kill Willow. She sighed. Willow was a vampire now and there was nothing she could do about it. Tears pricked at her eyes again but she fought them back, tears could not help anyone, and they could not bring Willow back, or Xander and Wesley for that matter, and tears certainly could not make everything all right again. Suddenly the temperature dropped ten degrees and the sky darkened with clouds. Lightning slashed the clouds making them burst and sending a torrent of ice-cold rain down to earth. Kathy screamed and hugged Lucious. Umbra howled and started down the street nose to the floor. He looked back to see whether they were following him and he shook his wet fur. Buffy and Raven motioned for Lucious and Kathy to follow them and once Umbra was sure that his charges and mistress were with him he continued tracking. There was a mighty thunderclap, then suddenly Umbra's hackles rose and he issued a series of short sharp warning barks in the direction of a bush. Raven stopped and drew her sword. Buffy looked questioningly at Raven and Raven replied with a shrug. Umbra was growling now. Raven stepped forward protectively and changed her grip on her sword. Lightning slashed again at the sky lighting the street well enough for Buffy to spot something quite large, about twice the size of Umbra who came up to just above Buffy's knee. She could see at once that it was not human, or animal.
'Vescumstalle,' Raven hissed.
Cordelia had ripped a section of her shirt and had bandaged Gunn's knife wound when one of Gunn's crew, bloody and torn, had announced that all the vampires had been killed but that there was no sign of group A or the lead vampires only an open window in a room that had been forced into. Giles nodded.
'They evidently used the younger vampires…' Giles started.
'Minions,' Anya corrected.
'Minions then, as a diversion so they could make their escape.' Giles sighed. 'Do you have any idea where they could have gone?' The youth shook his head, making his dreadlocks jump. Giles nodded. 'Anya go up to the house and see if you can call an ambulance.' Gunn dug deep into his pocket with his good hand and gently passed his cell phone to Anya.
'You don't need to go up there,' he said softly.
The demon in the bush walked forwards unperturbed by Umbra. The next lightning flash illuminated it properly and for the first time Buffy could see her opponent. Its body was green slime and it had two green fur covered paws and a muscular tail with a stinger on the end, a single drop of poison clung to the stinger barb threatening to drip at any moment. Its body, though it was seemingly made of slime was nevertheless covered in hollow venom secreting spines that resembled glass straws with sharp barbed broken ends. It raised a furry paw and revealed sharp, what appeared to be fragments of crystal. It walked calmly towards Umbra, its tail raised scorpion like, its maw snapping, glass shard teeth clicking together like a terrier. Umbra backed away slightly still growling. It took an army to defeat this thing? Buffy thought as the creature advanced. Kathy whimpered softly behind her and she heard Lucious calmly trying to comfort her. Raven's face was grim.
'Umbra and I'll distract it, Buffy. Get back to the house and get back up and the kids to safety,' Raven said in a hushed voice. Thunder boomed loudly in her ears just as Buffy was about to reply causing her to shout.
'I'm not leaving your side!' Raven smiled sadly.
'We cannot defeat this thing alone Buf…' she stopped mid sentence and Buffy took a step forward to catch Raven as all the colour drained from her face. Her eyes flashed amber and when she spoke again her voice was monotone and inhuman.
'SLAYER. THIS IT THE VESCUMSTALLE, A BEAST SENT TO KILL YOU. BEWARE ITS SCORPION TAIL AND ITS SPINES – IT CAN SHOOT THEM AND THEY ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO MOVE WITHOUT BREAKING. THE ONLY WAY TO KILL IT IS TO HAVE A VAMPIRE DRAIN ITS LIFE BLOOD WHICH WILL NOT ONLY KILL IT BUT THE VAMPIRE AS WELL. ONCE KILLED IN THIS MANNER ALL EFFECT IS HAS HAD SINCE BEING SUMMONED SHALL BE NULLIFIED. KILL IT IN A DIFFERENT MANNER AND NOT ONLY WILL IT BE ABLE TO COME BACK TO EARTH IF IT IS SUMMONED AGAIN, BUT ITS EFFECTS WILL NOT BE CORRECTED.' Raven's eyes returned to normal and a wide-eyed Buffy asked if she was all right. Raven nodded shakily. The vescumstalle was standing right in front of Umbra now and the wolf was growling and trying to stand its ground.
'What just happened?' Raven asked shakily.
'You, uh, something went through you and it told me that it was very poisonous and can shoot those spine things at you. It told me how to kill it as well; we need to get a vampire to drink its blood,' Buffy replied. Raven nodded.
'Well we don't have any vampires at the moment so I suggest that we fly on Spirit Gale and escape it. If it's after you Buffy it will follow us.' Buffy nodded. Lightning crackled across the sky temporally blinding everyone. Just as they started to regain their sight and the whiteness faded the vescumstalle struck Umbra with its tail and the barb stung him injecting a fatal amount of poison. He collapsed to the floor. Kathy's scream was swallowed in the thunder.
The scream echoed across the city until it came to the top of the gorgon cemetery where a chorus of laughter joined it in a deathly harmony.
Raven put out a hand to hold Kathy back, and charged. She brought her sword up high and jumped a little to get her full body weight behind the brunt of the blow. The blade sliced through the demon's slime and slid out again creating no damage. She dodged the vescumstalle's tail as it lunged at her; her eyes shone amber as she heaved Umbra to his feet. The wolf's eyes brightened and he shook his pelt then metamorphed into Spirit Gale in the form of a Pegasus again. He trotted over to Buffy and the children and all three mounted. He whickered reassuringly then broke into a canter in Raven's direction. Spirit Gale put his head down and Raven jumped. Spirit Gale was underneath her when she landed in front of Buffy. Spirit Gale did not even slow down he continued building up speed until he was about to break into gallop and was about to crash into the slow moving but deadly vescumstalle. The vescumstalle raised its tail in defence but Spirit Gale took off and was soon flying too high for even the creature's spines to reach. Buffy was sure she heard a growl of frustration erupt from the creature's belly.
The older gorgon stepped forward slightly and the crystal ball in her clawed hand disappeared.
'They are coming aren't they sister,' she said in her suiting voice. The head under the other gorgon's hood nodded.
'Indeed sister,' it said. Angel rolled his eyes and Drusilla smiled and waggled a finger at him he snapped his jaws at it playfully. Lightning worried the sky again and Angel realised that the gorgon sisters were in fact hunchbacks. He raised an eyebrow.
'They have wings. Golden. All glittery in moonlight,' Drusilla said quietly. She giggled. The scream still echoed in Angel's ears, he frowned. He had heard that scream before, a long time ago. 'Slayer liked her present. She has one for you too.' Angel was about to ask her what it was when Shock spoke.
'Will the vescumstalle follow the slayer?'
'It will, won't it, sister,' came the gravelly reply.
'Till the death, sister.'
Raven watched as the city glided below them. The bitter wind whipped her hair and stung her eyes and nose. She knew the place where they were heading as soon as she saw it. The graveyard seemed somehow darker than the rest of the city, as if by some means the little light that there was from the street lamps and the lightning was being swallowed whole before it had a chance to brighten the place. As they flew closer Raven became certain that they were in the right place, she recognised it from before, recognised the statues with their everlasting agony marring their perfect faces. It figured that they would come here. Spirit Gale snorted and circled lower. Raven caught a glimpse of a small group of about eight near the statues' centre. Spirit Gale landed at the bottom of the hill and all dismounted. Raven drew her sword that she had re-sheathed once she had mounted the Pegasus, and felt its familiar and oddly comforting weight in her hands. She smiled a grim smile. Spirit Gale kept his Pegasus form; his white fur gleamed slightly with sweat even though there was little light between lightning flashes. She patted her most trusted and oldest friend on the neck then turned to face Buffy, Lucious and Kathy.
'Ready?' She asked simply as she once again handed Buffy her crossbow. Lucious produced a pocketknife. 'No, Lucious, you are not here to fight.'
'I know, but I might need it to protect Kathy,' he said sagaciously. Raven nodded. Buffy stepped forward.
'Angel's soul has been artificially removed and is being stored by the gorgons. Break its container and it should be restored unto him,' Raven told the slayer. Buffy nodded, just like when the fairy tale monsters, the Gentlemen, had stolen the voices of the people of Boca del Inferno – the Hellmouth, also known as Sunnydale so that they could get seven hearts. Buffy had had to smash the jar they had stored the voices in and then had had to scream, as a scream from the princess would kill them. They had exploded all right.
'Kathy,' Buffy said bending down slightly to the girl's height, 'we're going to find your brother now.'
'Liam is here?' She asked wrinkling her nose slightly.
'Yes. When you see him he may act differently…'
'Differently?' Kathy shook her head, 'I do not understand. Why would he act differently?' Buffy remembered then of how Ethan Rayne had set up a Halloween costume shop and then turned everyone into their costume, so Buffy's plan of giving Angel a blast from his past had become literal and she had ended up fainting constantly and had almost ended up dead as she had been reduced to screaming when Spike had tried to kill her. Luckily for her Giles had confronted Ethan and had broken a statue, or something, and she had been returned to her usual slayer self.
'He'll be meaner. But not for long as we are going to give him back his soul…'
'Someone took his soul?' Kathy's eyes widened. Buffy took Kathy's hand in her own and squeezed it gently.
'Yes, and we are here to give it back to him. Ok?' Buffy waited for a response but the girl only frowned. 'Alright?' Buffy said trying again.
'Yes,' Kathy answered. Buffy let go of Kathy's hand and stood up straight she checked the crossbow's bolt briefly then looked at Raven.
'Ready?' The slayer asked her friend.
'Ready,' came the reply. Spirit Gale whickered softly and pressed his velvety nose against her hand. Buffy smiled, took a deep breath and started up the hill.
Drusilla swayed and held a finger to her crimson lips. She smiled and looked towards the bottom of the hill. Four figures and a winged horse were walking steadily towards them. Shock took Louisa's hand. The vampires and the gorgons watched in silence as the figures walked closer. Shock clicked his fingers.
'Change the scenery,' he said simply. The hooded gorgons nodded and one held out her hands, palms to the blue-black, raven sky.
What could easily have been tears now fuelled Buffy's anger as they walked past the first of the statues. All were soaked to the bone and shivering wet. Buffy could not bear to look at the faces of the statues so she kept her attention directly on the silhouetted figures above. Then lightning slashed at the sky and when her vision returned to normal with the clap of thunder her eyes widened. She looked in shock at Raven who stared blankly back at her. She turned back. They were not in the graveyard anymore.
The sky was as black as pitch and the slayer, the warrior, the Pegasus, the girl and the boy stood on the edge of a small crater. In the centre was a massive gnarled old oak, its dark branches crippled like an old man with arthritis's fingers. In the mighty tree's shadow the gorgons and the six vampires stood. The slayer, the warrior, the Pegasus, the girl and the boy started down the slope that led to the centre. The tree's shadow swallowed them whole.
Angel watched as the small party came closer and started down the slope of the crater they now stood in the centre of. It had thankfully stopped raining but the thunder and lightning were having a whale of a time. Soon they were close enough to make out the faces of the slayer and the other blonde girl, the two smaller figures' identities were still shrouded in mystery.
Buffy motioned for Lucious and Kathy to stay on the tree's shadow edge. Then mounted Spirit Gale after Raven and felt the wind whip away the moisture that clung to her face, clothes and hair from the rain. She could make out Angel, Louisa, Shock and Willow. Two cloaked figures she realised had to be the gorgons and a girl Willow was being more than friendly with who she did not know. When she had seen vampire Willow before – when Anya and Willow had called her from an alternate universe while searching for Anya's missing necklace – it had been different because she had know the real Willow was still alive, and even though she knew this was not really her Willow she still could not bear to look at her in the same way she had not been able to look at the statues in the graveyard. Spirit Gale stopped and Buffy jumped off, leaving Raven still mounted.
'Angel,' Buffy said calmly and she walked towards him. Drusilla stabbed the air in front of her and growled. Buffy ignored her.
'Hello, Lover,' Angel said smiling. Willow giggled. The gorgons were standing still as the statues they lured men to their deaths to become. Buffy caught the smell of rotting flesh on the breeze and she gagged.
'Shock tricked you Angel,' Buffy said finally. Angel cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrow.
'Really?' He asked, sarcasm dripping like venom from his mouth to take form as words. Buffy nodded un-faltering. 'Well then, enlighten me.' Buffy took a step forward.
'He summoned the gorgons to take away your soul,' she told him simply. He shook his head.
'Would never of guessed that,' he said the sarcasm in his voice still unmistakable. 'I guessed that, Buffy.' Shock smiled and walked to his sire's side where Louisa joined him. Drusilla nibbled Angel's ear playfully. 'What else do you want to bore me with?'
'Oh, this won't bore you,' she said as she raised her hand – on the signal the two small forms started to walk forwards.
'What are they going to do?' Shock asked laughing. 'Two little kids? Going to get them to stake us with ice-cream lolly sticks?' Louisa and Angel laughed at that, and Willow and the other vampire smiled. Willow saw Buffy staring at her and she winked.
'I'm so sorry Will,' she said quietly. Willow rolled her eyes.
'Whatever,' she said in the singsong voice Buffy had heard in her nightmares, the voice vampire Willow, the Master, Darla, and Angelus had used when they were at their most dangerous. Buffy blocked the sound and glanced over her shoulder at the approaching figures of Kathy and Lucious. As soon as Kathy caught sight of her brother she started to run. Buffy closed her eyes. She knew Angel would probably kill her. But he was not really Angel and he was not really Angelus.
'Present,' Drusilla hissed.
'Liam!' Kathy's voice drifted by her. She opened her eyes. Angel looked like he had been stabbed. Kathy threw herself around him. 'You've cut your hair.' She said softly as she hugged her brother. Buffy saw his next move before he acted it; he delivered his sister a vicious backhand that sent her straight into Lucious who was glaring from beneath his dark fringe at Willow.
'Hello little Fox Cub Bold,' Willow said in that singsong voice that sent shivers down the slayer's spine. 'You got away. Why did you come back? Did you miss me?'
'No one could miss you, you…you…you,' Lucious struggled for an insult but he was cut off by Kathy's sobs. Angel growled.
'Did you think bringing her back from where I sent her would help me?' Angel mocked. 'Thank you though. When I killed her before I was an amateur. Now I get a chance to kill her all over again, but this time it won't be so quick.' His snarl turned into a laugh and with it Shock's brief look of worry turned into a smile. 'Ok, bored now. Thanks for the entertainment but tonight, the world ends, well all the worlds actually, including your true dimension. Oh, and this time, lover, I won't hesitate to kill you.' Kathy's sobs increased in volume and Shock laughed.
'There's two lovely ladies we'd love you to meet first though. They killed your friends by the way. Buffy, meet the gorgons, Stheno and Eurayle, the immortal sisters of Medusa,' Shock said as the two cloaked figures walked forward. Louisa and Drusilla laughed.
'A slayer, sister,' Stheno hissed in Greek yet Buffy found that she could understand every word.
'Actually,' Raven said as she urged Spirit Gale forward, 'that's wrong. They can not be kill killed but we can send them back from where they came from quite easily.' She smiled and changed her grip on her sword. Then the tree came alive; the branches groped for Lucious, Kathy, Raven, Spirit Gale, and Buffy. Raven chopped at the branches with her sword but Buffy's crossbow was whipped out of her hands and into the depths of the tree. During the confusion Lucious jumped up and attacked Willow with his knife, Louisa simply grabbed the boy and Calendar-styled to perfection dropping the boy's lifeless corpse to the wet grass. Kathy screamed. Stheno brought her wrinkled hands up to her hood and pulled it down revealing her true face; poisonous snakes writhed from where they grew on her scalp like living spaghetti, she had heavy tusks like a wild boar, and her neck was scaly like a snake's. She walked fearlessly towards Raven and Spirit Gale, hands outstretched. Spirit Gale reared and threw Raven from his back.
'Umbra!' Raven shouted to her best friend, 'don't do it! Please!' Spirit Gale looked at her one last time with his beautiful amber eyes then closed them tight and turned back in the direction of Stheno. Raven screamed and got to her feet.
'Raven!' Buffy shouted. Raven was about to look into the gorgon's eyes when Spirit Gale whinnied and transformed into a mirror. An inanimate object. The gorgon was stone a second before Raven's eyes connected with Stheno's.
'Sister!' Came Eurayle's cry of anguish as Raven collapsed to the floor, unable to breathe, a deep sob surfaced and Raven did not hold it in. Unsupported the mirror that had once been Spirit Gale and Umbra fell to the ground and smashed into a million shards reflecting Raven's tears in each piece.
Angel fell to the floor in agony. When the pain lessened he panted slightly and got to his knees. He could not remember where he was. His eyes fell on Buffy and he got shakily to his feet. Suddenly everything came back to him. He tried to deny it but the words would not come out. Then his eyes fell on the green creature that was walking steadily towards Buffy. He tried to warn her but he was too late; a volley of glass spikes shot from the creature and one imbedded itself in her arm. She screamed in pain as the poison raced through her body. Then a voice he had never heard before was in his head.
'TO SAVE THE SLAYER A VAMPIRE MUST DRAIN THE VESCUMSTALLE OF IT'S LIFE BLOOD.' The voice was monotone and echoed inside his head. He shook his head and resisted the urge to run to Buffy's side. He looked around for Shock. Shock was lying with his head cradled in Louisa's arms a poisoned spike imbedded in his chest. Elfin had obviously looked into Stheno's eyes and was now a statue. Eurayle was fighting Raven, the warrior had lost her sword during the battle and was fighting with her eyes closed so as not to look into the gorgon's eyes. Willow was hitting the statue that had once been Stheno. The statue toppled and fell over with a crash splitting in two. Drusilla had disappeared. Angel ran over to Shock and Louisa. No one had noticed that his soul had been restored.
'What's wrong?' He asked even though he knew the answer. Louisa looked up from Shock's glazed eyes and looked at her sire.
'The little slimy poisonous one,' she said her lip trembling.
'All the vescumstalle's effects will be reversed if it is killed,' Angel said simply. Louisa nodded.
'How do I kill it?' She asked.
'Drain it of its blood,' he replied. Louisa nodded.
'Watch him,' she said as she walked fearlessly in the direction of the vescumstalle. Angel admired her then, though he had not told her that she would die again in order to save Shock, something inside him told him that it would not make a difference. She grabbed it and sunk her fangs deep into the slimy body of the demon. She cringed as the vinegary blood oozed into her mouth but she sucked until all the slime had been drained from the creature leaving a shrivelled corpse. The vescumstalle imploded then disappeared. Louisa smiled as she saw the spike disappear from Shock's chest and she watched as Shock managed to sit up. Louisa kept smiling even though her vision was fading, even though she was burning from the amount of poison in the blood, her smile never faded even when she had exploded into dust.
Angel left Shock's side then and he ran to Buffy's he gently helped her sit up.
'You ok?' He asked her softly. But her eyes were not on him. She climbed to her feet but her legs buckled beneath her and she fell to the floor. She pointed instead in Raven's direction. He expected to see hatred in her eyes but all he saw was forgiveness; she recognised that it was not is fault. He nodded and picked up Raven's sword as he ran to face Eurayle. Her head was severed and stone before she could force Raven's eyes open. Raven sunk to her knees, tears streaming down her face. She managed to look up and she said one word that made him drop the sword and run as fast as possible towards the lip of the crater.
Kathy struggled in Drusilla's vice like grip; tears cascaded down her pale cheeks like fountains.
'Please let me go,' Kathy sobbed as Drusilla dug her nails deeper into the soft flesh of her wrist.
'Hush! Bad puppy,' Drusilla said as she jerked Kathy to a stop, almost dislocating her arm. 'Daddy didn't like his present. The bad little black bird brought you for him.' Kathy stopped struggling; she knew it was useless; Drusilla was far stronger than her. She whimpered softly as Drusilla ran a razor sharp fingernail across her cheek and licked the blood with her tongue. Then Drusilla stopped and smiled. A dark figure was coming towards her. 'Daddy,' she whispered as he slowed down and then stopped behind her. She clamped a hand over Kathy's mouth and turned.
'There's no point lying to you, Dru,' Angel said sadly. 'You always know.' Drusilla moaned then hissed at him.
'Daddy's all gone again,' she pouted as she spun around to reveal Kathy. Angel almost choked when his eyes connected with his sister's.
'Let her go Dru. It was fun while it lasted,' he said, his eyes never leaving his sister's. Drusilla growled and revealed her true visage; she licked her fangs and lowered them to Kathy's exposed neck. Angle growled and punched Drusilla in the face causing her to release the girl and fall back in shock. Angel put himself between Kathy and Drusilla. Drusilla pouted.
'The black bird pecked at the last string. Now it has all worn away. Gone to be replaced by a soul. Puppet,' she growled. Then he understood; Shock had been using his as a puppet but Raven had freed him, Drusilla had known Angel was under a spell all along and she had thought him better as a soul-less puppet than free with a soul. He shook his head.
'Run Dru,' he said simply then he turned. Icy hands wrapped themselves around him and he hugged his sister back.
'Kathy,' he said softly, 'I am so sorry.'
Shock got to his feet and growled. He grabbed a tree branch and in a fit of rage staked the last remaining vampire on his side; Willow.
'Great! Brilliant!' He shouted at Buffy who had been watching the exchange between Drusilla, Angel and Kathy. She turned around and sighed.
'What now?' She asked.
'You did it! You stopped the world from bloody ending!' He threw his hands in the air in frustration.
'How exactly was that going to work anyway?' Buffy asked as she walked closer to him.
'A summoning spell as powerful as the one Stheno and Eurayle used to bring forth the vescumstalle becomes unstable after a certain amount of time! The inter-dimensional walls would have collapsed…'
'Creating Ethan heaven,' Buffy finished smiling slightly.
'Ethan?' Shock queried. Buffy sighed every part of her ached. She walked over to Raven and put a hand gently on her friend's shoulder.
'Leave, Shock. Get the hell away from here, and never come back,' Buffy said as she helped Raven to her feet. Raven picked up her sword and sheathed it. Tear channels ran down her mud-streaked face. Shock nodded and walked away. All around her the crater flickered a few times like a bug in a computer game then the background dropped away to reveal the graveyard. Shock walked solemnly away to find shelter before the sunrise. Buffy and Raven sat together in the moonlight as one by one the statues came to life, watching Angel and Kathy's reunion.
Wesley and Xander sat with Anya, Tara, Cordelia, and Giles in Cordelia's apartment. Each had a cup of either coffee or tea in their hands and each was filling the others in on what had happened to them. There was a knock on the door and Cordelia got to her feet and opened the door. Gunn limped into the apartment his arm was in a sling. He raised his good arm and waved.
'H…how are the others?' Tara asked him as room was made for him to sit down.
'They're coping,' he said quietly. 'Where's the others at?'
'Buffy is saying good bye to Raven and Angel,' Giles informed him. Gunn nodded. 'Kathy returned to the spirit dimension with the spirit guardian of the innocents.'
'How's Raven holding up?' Gunn asked.
'The bloody wolf died! How do you think she is?' Came Spike's voice from Cordelia's bathroom.
'When do I get my bath back by the way?' Cordelia asked.
'As well as can be expected,' Giles replied to Gunn, ignoring Cordelia and Spike, 'Umbra was her sole companion over the centuries. She's all alone now.'
Raven and Buffy stood in the graveyard together, but not alone; Angel was near by. Buffy hugged Raven tightly.
'I'm sorry about Umbra,' Buffy said softly. Raven nodded.
'It's not your fault Buffy,' Raven replied.
'Will you get another partner?'
'No, I'm on my one now.'
'You are never on your own,' Buffy said as she hugged Raven tighter. Raven smiled slightly.
'I guess not.' They were silent for a minute or two then Raven spoke again. 'I have to go now. The current slayer of this dimension is due to stop an apocalypse and she's new to the field.' Buffy nodded.
'Wish her luck from me.'
'I think that might freak her out,' Raven said smiling. Buffy shook her head slightly and smiled back. They were silent again for a minute.
'Will I see you again?'
'Probably. I've yet to help you out in your dimension.'
'How does this work now? You don't have Spirit Gale anymore.'
'I'm not sure. Buffy, take care. I hope we meet again soon.'
'Take care, Raven.' Raven's eyes glowed amber then she was gone.
Buffy had said all her good byes but one and stood now in the graveyard, alone, waiting for the portal that would take her home to open. It was almost dawn and an icy wind chilled her. She took a deep breath of the apple crisp air and released it slowly. Everything was back to normal, except for the fact that in this dimension, not only was she dead but Willow was now as well. She sighed.
Angel watched Buffy, as she stood alone in the graveyard waiting for the portal to open to take her home. He immerged from behind a crypt and slid his arms around her waist.
'How are you?' She asked softly.
'Better,' he replied as she melted in his arms, forgetting the past briefly.
'Good,' she replied. She turned in his arms to face him and placed her arms around him, resting her head on his chest. 'I'm glad I helped.' Angel smiled. They stood in silence for a minute then Buffy mustered up the courage to ask the question that she had been unable to ask since she had got there, but before the words came Angel spoke.
'You want to know how you died in this dimension,' he said simply. She nodded. He sighed, 'you know you won't remember once you cross back into your dimension anyway don't you?'
'Still want me to tell you?' She looked up into his dark eyes. She shook her head and then replaced it back on his chest. He rested his head on hers and they stood like that, holding each other until the portal opened a minute before the sun would rise.
In the distance a black bird watched from the shadows. Snuggled against the crook of her arm, his tiny amber eyes closed in sleep; a wolf pup lay.
Rest in Peace Umbra.
Welcome little Hope.