BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy.


Prologue: 1989-1994

Following a moment where things went wrong, Angel spent '74-'96 on the streets of New York. For several of those years, he had a 'friend' whom he never really had the chance to thank.

##

Angel was a contradiction in terms. A vampire with a soul. He'd been weak as a human... Liam... Not physically, but in several other places that counted. His body had grown even stronger with the essence of the demon flowing through him but, when his soul was forcibly returned, he'd tried hard to remain with his old crowd, the family he'd made, but he'd given that up and begun the long hard crawl towards righteousness and redemption.

Angel would always keep in mind his acts as a monster, not that he could forget. He kept in mind his life as a human, so he wouldn't make the same mistakes. He held close to him the great times he'd had across the world... The concerts. The people.

Then, starting in 1974, he locked himself in a self-imposed hell, hating himself for not saving a man in New York. He'd tried to, but... When the guy's life had slipped away, he'd locked the door and drank... and drank...

The gunshot wound had been too serious, the blood would have gone to waste... It was there.

Drinking it was a moment of weakness he understood. Somewhat. What really haunted him, what drove him to live twenty-two years as a broken-down, homeless bum, was that the smell of the blood might just have slowed his steps enough...

Might have.

You move on, when you have a purpose.

When you don't...

##

Ethan Rayne, chaos mage, arrived in New York in 1989. After all the trouble he'd caused in Britain, he'd decided to self-exile for at least five years to let things calm down. His face had become known in all the dark corners of London and there are certain tricks you can't pull, at least not as easily, if the mark is on to you. Besides, the entire mess with the summoning of Eyghon and the death of one of the blokes he ran with was still at the back of his mind. If the demon ever reared its head again, it would probably start at the place it'd last been summoned and begin its killing with the closest bearers of its mark. At the very least Ethan was going to make sure that he'd always have a head start.

The new wave of cyberpunk had tickled his fancy, so he was going to breed hybrid technological and magical creations and let them loose on his new city, under careful study and supervision of course. Every step leads groundwork for the next. Diversify as much as possible so you're never left with a dull moment or without an escape route, but make sure that all your fall-back plans are in working order.

Choosing a large storefront with a secure basement, as well as putting on a completely stead and straight face with the local crowd of technopagans for plausible deniability, he opened up one of the ubiquitous appliance sales and repair places and set to work.

##

Angel smelled bad. He only knew it was 1989 from the old newspaper stuck to a wall.

He'd stopped keeping track of months.

The rat stank... Killing it had been an act of mercy.

Angel hadn't been up to chasing the faster ones. Not for a while.

The crawlspace he'd made his home was wide, but he couldn't stand up properly. He hadn't chosen it for the homey qualities, just the rodent population. One wall had a broken grating that let in some amounts of light. He slept too far away for the sun to do any particular damage. Once, when the rain outside was bad enough and the wind had blown just right, he'd woken up surrounded by a very thin layer of water.

Everything around him stank and not only on the physical plane. The place had been drenched for years in the vampire's emotional funk.

It was his home, his squat, and, up until that point, Angel had chased away anyone, human or demon, who had tried to share the space with him.

Having taken the edge off his hunger, he curled up in a dank corner and fell asleep.

He woke up in the darkness, staring into the flickering blue of a television screen.

He lost himself. his body was gone.

the world was gone. there was no border to the picture.

he was eyes and ears only.

##

Two days later, Angel stood up. He knew how much time had passed only from the amount of news that had passed through his wide, staring eyes and into his brain.

He was alone in the room.

The TV was gone.

That was good, because, after all, he didn't own one...

He was so hungry, he left his shelter to eat. Bathed in the moonlight and night air, he thought about running across town, finding another place to live, never coming back...

After he was sated, or at least less hungry, he crawled back into the place where he'd been sleeping for so long.

He spotted a television huddled in a dark corner.

As he approached it, it switched on.

##

two hours later, he came back to himself.

there were fine tubes buried in the veins of his arms. they connected to the television.

he wasn't sure how deep the tubes went but, now that he was aware of them, they itched.

he must have moved slightly because the screen flickered and-

He was alone in the room.

##

Angel rubbed his arms and tried to figure out what had been going on.

It must have fed off of me, he decided. distracting me with images, then..

When I'd come back to myself, it had knocked me out just long enough to escape.

He didn't try to track it then.

The next night, after it had fed and left, he tried to pick up its trail.

He had no luck following it. Then or ever. It might have been said that its home base was under a glamour. It might have been said that Angel wasn't trying too hard.

It wasn't like he was doing anything else with his life and... He didn't hold a grudge against the thing for trying to live.

##

Once things had become stable enough that Ethan Rayne was sure that the experiments that weren't allowed to run freely wouldn't stage a jailbreak while he was gone, he decided to track down some of his more successful pieces. Engaging a temporary amulet to alter his scent, he followed the infused television to a run-down block of buildings. After waiting as long as he felt was needed, he crept forward and lead down to see exactly what his creation did in the wild.

The process was fascinating, too much in fact. He found himself lost for a solid ten minutes, even without the cables intertwining with him. If an alert vampire had wandered by then, it could easily have been the end of Ethan Rayne. The commercial break gave him an opportunity to break free and sneak away.

Several days later he'd returned with protective shades to investigate exactly why that vampire had been picked out of the rest of the local population. Why the television was returning over and over again, when the next one he'd released rarely ever met up with the same creature twice. It took Ethan a couple visits and an ear turned to the underground to pinpoint exactly who and what 'Angelus' was, the vampire being so out of fighting shape, but the resemblance to the Watcher diaries Rupert Giles had passed around years before was unmistakeable.

Back in the office, between customers, Ethan put his feet up and chuckled darkly. His new life was shaping up nicely.

##

The television thing that had chosen Angel had a few favorite shows to play for him. It would arrive in Angel's room at regular times, most often during weeknights and, for about a year or so, Saturday mornings.

Angel wasn't sure if the thing was playing shows that it wanted to watch, or images that it felt he should see as some twisted sort of therapy. He guessed that the initial two-day stint had been to gauge his reactions to certain stimuli. Later sessions rarely lasted two hours or more.

Angel wasn't in a position to ask.

It was always there and... gone.

He never did see it move.

##

During a stormy night in the Summer of 1994, Angel woke up at a particularly vicious crack of thunder to see...

there were two televisions in the room. the new one had wood stained a dark purple.

tubes from both had wormed their way up angel's hands, into his arms, under his skin and...

another sound from the torrent outside and-

angel woke up. his television was there. The tubes were still embedded in his arms.

The other television thing was gone.

Angel was awake... and, this time, he was going to have to pull out the lines himself. He did so, painfully, surprised at the length of the brown hollow cord. He still wasn't sure exactly what they'd been feeding off of.

He looked up and... touched the wood of the television set, feeling down its face to the first crack. The front was completely shattered. Scorchmarks were everywhere. The back was dented, but intact.

It was daylight outside, a calm, storm-free daylight, and Angel had no idea how long he'd been out.

##

When Ethan was locking up his shop that evening, after sundown, he was grabbed from behind and lifted off his feet. When the chaos mage was spun around and shoved up against the wall to see his attacker's face, he silently cursed exactly how well he'd done at advertising the legitimate side of his business.

Angel, not having connected Ethan to the television thing, was, with full vamp-face, threatening its progenitor into checking out its blasted remains, which the vampire had hidden a short distance away.

Ethan, pleading ignorance, played the part of someone who wanted to help but was too simpering and useless to accomplish anything. Truthfully, he wasn't sure he could have done anything besides repairing the cabinet and infusing it with a completely separate mix. The original being was lost beyond any means of his to reach.

After a bit, Angel turned to leave Ethan alone... Alive and whimpering.

While Ethan kept the sound effects going, once Angel had turned away the mage twisted his face into a vicious snarl and stabbed his hands out in a quick series of gestures directed towards the vampire's back. Ethan had sensed what effect the last visit had inflicted upon Angel and, in return for the rough treatment, he had decided to do his best to multiply it.

##

Angel dragged his burden from store to store, from place to place, only managing to confirm one thing:

Whatever force had animated the box had died with it.

Upon hearing that, he retreated to the shadows and... Began to cry.

He hung on to the box for a week, just in case, then buried it in Central Park.

After having done that, he felt better. Better than he had in years.

The best he had felt since that night of blood and regret.

That night, as he hunted, as he trashed a particularly huge nest, his mind wandered.. free.

I could leave town, he thought. Go up to the woods, the far north.

Far from the spread of man. Where I could chase deer, where I could run, where I could be free.

I could set snares for healthy rabbits. I couldn't train a hawk, but...

The blood would be fresh, wholesome and pure. Up there, alone, I could be a part of nature... Red in tooth and claw and root.

I'd be free, a true predator, with no chance of harming a human so I could, finally,

forget what it was like to be one

Angel frowned, then bent downward, grabbing a rat that had tried to run between his legs, to safety...

He raised the rodent, looked it in the eyes, then snapped its neck and drank...

##

A month later Angel gave birth to five of the darn TV-things. That was painful.