Title: 1: One Day
Summary: “what if” scenario. Suppose the elements of the Angel Season One mythology had been introduced in Buffy Season Three. This story is a reworking of the Angel pilot “City Of”. It also takes place within a 24-hour time frame. This is also the 1st story of what could possibly be a trilogy.
Spoilers: Buffy Season Three I suppose.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: NF,GT, other’s ask first.
Notes: The Mythology Series… (1-4)
Feedback: Hell Yeah!
Thursday 9:21 PM
The mansion felt strange to be in. As Angel stared vaguely at the fire crackling before him, the vampire gave serious thought to moving from the spacious building. That was quite strange. Although he had never admitted to anyone, Angel was claustrophobic. It was a response to the whole ‘being buried’ thing. Darla would never have let him live that one down had he told her. He certainly wasn’t close enough to Buffy to let her in on that one.
Angel turned away from the fireplace and looked to the aforementioned blonde. She carried a plastic cup of pig’s blood to him. He accepted the offering and murmured thanks. Angel sipped on the liquid as Buffy sat down beside him and stared into the fire. He continued to think about changing residences. Angel suddenly felt the need for something smaller. Perhaps his previous apartment was still vacant? He could look into it. Or maybe not.
Buffy had strongly suggested that he lock himself away in this spacious mansion for, as she put it, “his own safety.” Angel had thought that bullshit, but being in the state he was in, Angel had submitted to the request. But, he supposed Buffy had a point. The initial reaction for everyone upon learning his return was, to say the least, inhospitable. The new Slayer even tried to kill him. When Angel thought about it, his time since being brought back to this plane had not been pleasant.
Only three weeks earlier, Angel, ragged and exhausted, emerged naked and perspiring from a portal and dropped on the tile floor of the mansion. Buffy had found him shortly afterward acting as vicious and vile as a rabid animal. After recovering from the shellshock of his return, Angel was left to contemplate the reasons behind it.
Whoever was in charge decided Hell wasn’t where Angel was supposed to be. The vampire had been vaguely disappointed. Eternal torment wasn’t as bad as the literature purported. It had nice enough furniture. Angel played poker with Stalin, Hitler, and George Burns. He shared war stories with Genghis Kahn. Except for the five hours a day devoted to torture, Hell was almost like a health resort.
His attention was diverted by Buffy’s small sigh.
Buffy smiled slightly. “Yeah. Giles is still a little peeved at me for keeping you a secret. Plus, today featured the return of Queen C to the active roster. Snark mode was high, let me tell you.”
“You shouldn’t talk like that about Cordelia,” Angel admonished. “After all, she was impaled by a rebar after seeing her boyfriend cheat on her. I think she’s justified.” The vampire didn’t quite understand the Cordelia hate. The chit didn’t seem all that bad in Angel’s limited exposure to her. A little shallow, maybe. But any girl who expends energy into trying to get in his pants was okay.
“You’re right. I’m sorry,” Buffy apologized. Angel didn’t quite believe her, but decided to let it slide. “I should probably go. Giles wanted me to do a quick sweep of the cemetery. Atonement is a bitch.”
“Tell me about it,” Angel murmured. Buffy gave a sad smile. He could tell she was having mixed feeling being around him. So was he. Both wanted everything to be okay. They wanted things to be back to the way they were before he lost his soul. Angel, however, didn’t delude himself into thinking that would ever be so. As he watched Buffy leave for her patrol, Angel wondered what role she would play in his future. He knew it needed to be as small a role as possible. He needed to be his own man and forge his own destiny.
Angel drained the last of the blood and crumpled the cup. He decided to start tonight. He couldn’t be the doting boyfriend anymore. Doing that would be the downfall to the both of them. Angel didn’t want that. He loved Buffy, and he was not going to live the rest of eternity with the guilt of getting her killed. It was time to be his own man and do his own thing. Angel tossed the cup aside and went to the bedroom to retrieve his duster.
The first step to independence was directly disobeying Buffy’s suggestion. He was going out on the town.
If this was a night on the town, then Angel certainly was in Hell. Again. As he listened to the house guitarist miss yet another chord, Angel perhaps considered that previous statement as derogatory towards Hell. His time spent in the Devil’s Den was equivalent to 200 earth years, and during all that time, Angel couldn’t recall Hendrix missing a note. Well, Hendrix did, but he made it sound good.
Angel tossed back his shot of bourbon and motioned to the bartender for another. He had no idea why he chose to come to the Bronze. The malnourishment must be affecting his regions of better judgment. That or the liquor. No, the liquor came after he was here. Couldn’t blame the booze.
“Why don’t you just leave the bottle?” The bartender nodded and set the bottle down within Angel’s reach. The vampire then turned his focus back to the crowd.
Teenagers today certainly were different than in his day. It made him consider again why he was in this forsaken club. Listening to bad rock music and watching a bunch of sweaty and over-hormonal kids “get jiggy with it” was not his idea of a good time.
It made Angel miss the nights in San Francisco when he would go to the local diner and sip coffee and listen to the jukebox all night. Of course, like all things in his life, that didn’t end well. Shot number two joined its brother in the pit of his stomach.
Some wolf whistles and catcalls turned Angel’s attention away from the dance floor. He spun around on his stool and found what drew the focus of much the male audience. What sauntered into the Bronze was a 5’8 inch brunette goddess in knee high leather stiletto boots, a mid-thigh length black dress, and a long black leather duster flowing behind her. And she was heading right for Angel.
He barely batted an eye.
Angel turned back to the bar and downed his third shot. He picked his duster from the stool next to him so that the hottie could have a seat. She smiled and slipped off her own duster to reveal that the little black number she was wearing was sleeveless and backless. The woman showed a hint of disappointment at Angel’s vague disinterest.
“I’m Adele,” the woman said in a soft accent.
“And I’m not looking for a companion,” Angel responded. He filled his shot glass as he motioned for the bartender to fetch another. “But unlike the other hormonal pubescents here, you aren’t looking for a screw. So I’m going to give you twenty seconds to explain what you want before I pay the bill and go.” He then proceeded to fill the shot glass that appeared in front of Adele.
“Most men would kill their wives to have a drink with an attractive young woman. But then again, you’re not really a man.” Adele smirked when it appeared she gained Angel’s attention. “Egad! A vampire with a soul! So poignant! So tragic! If this were a TV show, the WB Network would eat this up.”
“Oh great,” Angel sighed. “I’ve heard this speech before. So what? You got some chosen one you want me to go see, fall in love with, and then go to Hell for? Excuse me if I don’t get up and dance to this old song. I suppose now you tell me the story of my life?”
Adele feigned shock. “Wow. Was that humor? Do I have the right vampire? The profile I received said that Angel lacked a sense of humor.” Angel laughed despite his best efforts. “And for your information, Grr-boy, I have no intention on reciting your life story. Although I could.” Adele pressed a finger to her red lips and pretended to think.
“Let’s see. Angel. Born Liam McCullough in the village of Galway, Ireland in the Year of Our Lord 1727. Died in 1753 when sired by the vampire Darla, favored childe of Heinrich Joseph Hest, aka The Master of the Order of Aurelius. One question, since both Heinrich and Darla have gone poof, does that make you the new Master of the Order?”
“Yes, but only technically. Heinrich sired another vampire who is older than Darla. However, he lost favor with Heinrich around the time of the Franco-Prussian war and was excommunicated from the group.”
“Lovely.” Adele slammed back the bourbon and grimaced. Angel smirked. “Egad! Hard liquor will make the heart pump quicker. How do you drink this shit?”
“I don’t have a heart.”
“You don’t have any stomach lining either.” Adele continued to make faces as she poured another shot. “I’ll take one more and then go back to the usual red wine.”
Angel snatched the shot glass away from her and slammed it back. “How about I just order you the red wine while I keep the bourbon to myself?”
“That works. Okay now, I showed what I know about you. Show what you know about me.” Adele blew the waiter a kiss when he deposited the wine in front of her. She was also quick to motion that Angel would be paying. The vampire confirmed with a nod of his head.
“So it’s my turn? Okay.” Angel took another shot and eyeballed Adele carefully. “From your physical development I’d say you’re 20 or 21. The name Adele is common in two countries: Germany and France. In German it means ‘nobility’. In French it means ‘pleasant’ or ‘good humor’. From the accent that you’ve been trying miserably to hide, I’ll say French. From the cheekbones, eyes, lips, and most importantly, skin tone, I’ll say more accurately that you’re Corsican. You are also a lesbian.”
Adele raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Excuse me?”
Angel smiled. “Are you going to deny you’ve been staring at the short redhead just over my left shoulder?” Angel turned to look at the petite red haired girl that Adele had been sneaking peeks at. “Not really my tastes, but to each his or her own.”
Adele managed to look embarrassed at being caught. “Very good, Angel,” she allowed. “Now how about you pay for a lady’s drink? We should go outside and talk some more.”
For some reason, Angel felt compelled to obey. Angel threw a twenty on the counter. The pair pulled on their dusters and weaved their way through the crowd and into the alley. Adele walked a few steps ahead of him and took a deep breath. She then promptly went into a fit of coughs.
“If you were wanting fresh air, I would have suggested getting it someplace other than an alley.”
“Now you tell me,” Adele coughed. “What is that smell?”
“I don’t think you really want to know.” When he saw that Adele’s coughing fit had subsided, Angel asked, “You wanna tell me why you traveled all the way from Corsica to a small town in California to see me?”
“Sure.” Adele stopped her coughing and smoothed her hair. Making sure she was composed, Adele began the speech. “I’m here to put you back on the right path.”
“You have failed your purpose in being brought into contact with the Slayer,” Adele informed him. “Whistler didn’t spiff you up, teach you to fight, and introduce you to Buffy so you could boink her and go to Hell. There was an entirely different purpose to all that.”
“Which would be?”
“To make you develop a connection to humanity. To develop meaningful contact with the hapless human race. To connect on an emotional level with all the people you were supposed to help.”
“I’ve made contact,” Angel defended.
“Not that kind of contact.” Adele sighed heavily. “The entire point of choosing you for this mission was because the Powers thought you had potential.”
“The Powers.” Nothing. “That Be?” Still nothing. “Did you not get the dossier?”
“Apparently not. But whoever they are, you better explain real quick what they want me for and what role you play.”
“The Powers are the good guys. They are a mystical force that helps in the balance of good and evil. They have Champions all around the world doing the good deeds and all that. You’ve been chosen because they thought you had the stuff to be one of the best. That and the balance sheet isn’t exactly in your favor.”
“I don’t need reminding of that. And your role?”
“I’m your Seer.” Once more, nothing. “Jesus Christ, you really have been playing in the dark, haven’t you? I am your Seer. You are my Champion. I have been assigned to you. I will receive visions of people in trouble. You will go connect with them and save said person in trouble from whatever is causing that trouble. You with me?”
“I’m stuck with you.”
Adele smiled broadly. “Yes, you are. We’re a team now. Riggs and Murtaugh. Tango and Cash. Tom and Jerry.”
“If you say Starsky and Hutch, I will be forced to do violence.” Angel merely stared at the smiling Corsican girl for several moments. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“As a heart attack. We’re to do battle against the forces of darkness together. Just look at it this way: You go out and save some souls and you have a chance to redeem your own. Isn’t that what you want?”
Angel nodded. It was. “Anything else I should know?”
Adele thought for a moment. She then counted off the main points on her fingers. “Seer. Champion. Tango and Cash. Saving your soul. Hmm. Did I mention that your destiny is far greater than being the lapdog to a doe-eyed Slayer?”
“You forgot that part. Kind of like you forgot to mention this.” Angel reached out and bopped Adele on the nose. The lovely Corsican’s face shifted into a purple demon visage. Small yellow horns peppered her cheekbones. Her hazel eyes turned the darkest of blues. Adele huffed in annoyance.
“That was vulgar.”
“You don’t just flick a girl on the nose. Didn’t your mother tell you that?”
“No. She forgot to mention it before I ate her.”
“You know what else is vulgar? Your humor.” Adele controlled the urge to smack him. She shifted back to her human face. Angel continued to eye her skeptically. “What? You got a problem with me being half demon? Kind of narrow minded, don’t you think?”
Angel held his hands up in surrender. He obviously hadn’t meant to offend. “My father was a Meck-Tet demon. We are not a dangerous breed. I don’t care what our connection to the Mob indicates.”
“Did I question your heritage? I just want you to be honest if we’re going to be working together. Sorry if I upset you.” Angel was highly surprised that he seemed to care about hurting her feelings. Adele, however, quickly shrugged it off.
“No biggie.” She reached down the front of her dress and pulled a scrap of paper from between her breasts. Angel accepted it with a wry smile. “I just don’t care for showing my inner self. In a world full of humans, having a purple face is like having a zit the size of Versailles on your nose.”
“It’s not that bad. Purple is a very regal color. Plus, the dark blue eyes are attractive.” Adele smiled at the compliment. Angel peered at the slip of paper. It contained the name ‘Julie’ and gave the address of 1215 Riverside. “Now what the hell is this?”
“The first soul for you to save. I had a vision this afternoon. She seems like a nice girl. She’s a blonde so she is definitely your type. Plus she needs help.”
“What the hell am I supposed to do?”
Adele rolled her eyes. “Get into her life. Make a difference. Show her that in a world full of big bad guys there is sometimes a glimmer of hope that there are still good guys left in the world.”
“I’m a 250 year old demon recently paroled from Hell. Isn’t this something more for Buffy?”
“Message didn’t come for Buffy. It came for you.” Angel didn’t know what to think. “Listen, Angel, it’s time to move out of the Slayer’s shadow and into the spotlight. It’s time to go from being the supporting actor to the star of the show. This is your mission. This is your destiny.”
Angel sighed as he continued to stare at the slip of paper. “Why the hell would a girl I don’t even know talk to me?”
“Are you kidding? You’re a total hottie, and…Oh my. Speaking of hottie.”
Angel frowned when she trailed off. He turned to see what captured Adele’s attention. Heading to the Bronze and leading the pack was Cordelia. Adele’s jaw was dropped as she watched Cordelia move to the front entrance. Angel shook his head and lifted his leg up high as he stepped.
“Excuse me while I step over your tongue. I apparently have a destiny to fulfill.”
Adele was distracted. “Yeah, you do that. I’m going to shadow the babe for a little while. Think I have to pay the cover charge to get back in?” Angel ignored her and went to his car. He couldn’t believe he was actually going to trust her and go to this address. Angel knew he was bored, but damn.
It was a titty bar. When Angel parked his convertible in the lot, he marveled at the fact Adele sent him to a damn strip club. Regina’s, as the sign proclaimed, was Sunnydale’s finest Gentlemen’s Club. That meant the customers could clap once a performance was over because both hands were still free.
“Bloody hell,” Angel murmured. He flipped off the radio and pulled the key from the ignition. Angel stepped from the car and crossed the street. A few college age boys shuffled about nervously on the sidewalk. Angel could tell they were first timers to such a place. New kids and family men were the ones who always had the shifty look. Since he was neither of those, Angel had no problem stepping into the place.
“At least the music here is better than the Bronze.”
Angel was greeted by the sounds of Aerosmith blaring on the house speakers. He hummed along with “Rag Doll” and sauntered over to a table. Angel parked at a spot where he could watch the catwalk, but far enough away where he wasn’t mingling with the hardcore fans.
The place had a pretty good crowd. A quick sweep of the bar and various tables showed that perhaps forty or fifty were in the house. Most were watching a brunette twirl around the fire poll as she stripped from the white blouse of her Catholic schoolgirl outfit. A pretty blonde bartender in a French Maid outfit swayed her hips seductively when she approached his table.
“Hi,” she greeted in a perky fashion. She had Valley Girl written all over her. “My name is Linda. You look like a newcomer.”
“I am,” Angel admitted.
“Well, what can I get you, Darlin’?”
“A Budweiser is fine. Can I ask you something?”
“Is there a Julie that works here?”
“Sure is, Sugar. She’ll be on stage next. Do you want a private show? We have booths in the back for that.”
An intriguing offer. “Ah, no thanks. I just heard from a friend that she’s good.”
“Oh, she is,” Linda drawled. “She’s the house favorite. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show. Now I’ll just go fetch your drink.”
Angel nodded and watched Linda’s hips sway hypnotically as she walked away. One thing was for certain. Buffy would stake the hell out of him if she knew he was in here. But somehow, for some reason, at that moment, Angel failed to care. He felt like he had a purpose in being here. The sense of duty created an adrenaline rush that picked up his fatigued body.
The schoolgirl ended her dance number and picked up the cash that had been littered on the catwalk. She smiled and blew kisses to the crowd. She gave her bare tits an unnecessary jiggle. Several more bills flew up on the stage and several loud hoots were heard because of it. The girl laughed and collected the new bills before making her exit. Linda returned with his beer. After slipping her a five, Angel turned to the stage to see who it was that needed his saving.
Julie made her appearance as Black Sabbath blared on the speakers. He didn’t want to be classified with the rest of the patrons of the bar, but Angel couldn’t help the fact that his jaw dropped upon seeing her.
She was apparently going for the cowboy look. Julie strutted out onto the stage wearing a black thong, leather chaps, and boots. She wore a frilly leather jacket that showed off most of her midriff and was held closed by only one button snapped shut just below her breasts. An old cowboy hat with a feather sticking from the brim completed the ensemble.
Angel could easily see why Julie was the house favorite. She didn’t look like how a person might imagine a stripper. Angel typically thought of a trashy looking, big breasted, bleached blonde when asked to imagine one. This woman certainly didn’t fit that bill. Julie was tall and lithe with shoulder length wavy dirty blonde hair and small but exquisite looking breasts. Her firm and toned stomach and legs gave off a sense of underlying power.
But what struck Angel most were her eyes. As Julie danced about on stage and gazed out at the crowd, Angel marveled at the sharpness held behind the crystal blue orbs. In their depths he found an intellect that certainly didn’t belong in such a seedy place as this. The power held in those eyes belonged to someone who should be a doctor or lawyer or teacher. Those eyes alone lifted her above some status such a being a mere sex object.
She didn’t belong in this place. Angel could plainly see the boredom in her. The stripping off her clothes and collecting of money was only a perfunctory act. He could tell that her mind was a thousand miles away. As her unconscious mind moved and gyrated to the pulses of “Paranoid”, Julie’s thoughts sent her away and lifted her above the fact she was dancing in a sleazy club for money. Something certainly was wrong if a woman as beautiful and keen worked at a place like this.
And Angel would find out how to fix it.
The song ended and so did the dance. The more primitive part of Angel’s brain was disappointed. With her beauty and grace, Angel’s id would have been content to watch Julie move all night. The more rational side was thankful she could retire from the obscene ogling most of the bar’s patrons directed towards her.
Angel sipped on his beer and considered the next course of action. He wasn’t a detective, nor was he even that good a communicator. He supposed he could just go up and introduce himself, but Angel figured that would have two possible outcomes. Julie would label him a pervert and think him propositioning her. Or another possibility, and just as likely, he would babble incoherently until forced to walk away. Angel vaguely wished he had taken those night communications classes that San Francisco State offered in the late 1960’s. Maybe he would be able to talk to people without sounding like a degenerate.
Another sip of beer and Angel mustered up the courage to approach Julie. When she exited the dressing room he would talk to her. As he waited, Angel caught a glimpse of an office door opening up. Out stepped four men. One was clearly the leader, but Angel couldn’t get a good look at him. He seemed to give the other three some orders before disappearing back into the office. Angel frowned. The hairs on the back of his neck were on end.
Those were vampires.
A door opened and Julie appeared, now clad in blue jeans and purple sweater. The vampires intercepted her and Angel stood up and slowly walked over, mindful not to call attention to himself. It was then that Angel noticed an extra variable to the equation. As Julie visibly cringed at whatever the vampires said, a small boy, perhaps six years old, clutched at her hand and looked up at the men in confusion. The child had the same blue eyes as Julie.
He was her son.
“Shit,” Angel mumbled. He was afraid this would change how he should approach the situation. As the lead vampire grabbed her arm roughly and escort her to the front door, Angel decided he would have to call this on the fly.
The vampires escorted Julie and the boy from the building without much notice. The patrons were too busy hollering at the next dancer grinding to “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Angel was vaguely annoyed at that. But maybe it was a good thing. If they didn’t pay attention to three guys leaving, then they wouldn’t notice when none of them returned. Angel lagged behind to plot his move.
When Angel stepped out into the cool Sunnydale night, he didn’t see Julie or the vampires. A couple of quick whiffs of the air and he turned right towards the side alley. His demon hearing picked up the sounds of desperate pleading on Julie’s part. Something about money?
Angel peeked his head in and did a quick sweep of the alley. He ducked back out and imagined the scene. Julie stood about fifteen feet away. Two vampires flanked her. The lead vamp stood in front, his hand resting on the boy’s shoulders. Angel sighed. No time like the present to do something stupid.
He whirled around and breezed into the alley, his duster flowing behind him in a mighty cool fashion. Maybe that would look intimidating and they would run away. That would be good, especially since Angel was nowhere near 100 percent health. The vampires turned and glared at him. Nope. Not intimidated. Pissed. Certainly. Annoyed. Oh yeah. Maybe he should play drunk? That could give him an edge.
“Have any of you seen my car?” Angel slurred. “It’s big and shiny.” Lead vamp released the boy as Angel stumbled closer.
“Piss off, pal.”
Angel walked up to him and squinted at the demonic ridges on the vampire’s face. “Is that acne? Want Clearasil?”
“Boy, you might want to leave.”
“I can give you money to go buy a tube…”
The lead vamp finally had enough. He was infinitely surprised when Angel easily blocked the right hook he threw. He was even more surprised to be gasping on the ground after being brutally kicked in the gut. With vamp number one down, number two charged recklessly.
Angel grabbed number two and performed an excellent monkey flip that sent the vamp flying towards the entrance of the alley. Angel then leapt back to his feet just as number three attempted to connect on a right hook. Angel easily ducked the blow. A snap of the wrist and a stake dropped from the holster on Angel’s right arm. He jammed it into the vamp’s heart before it could regain balance.
He didn’t have long to savor the victory. Vamp number one attacked from behind and tried to ram Angel into the brick wall of Regina’s. The move proved unsuccessful. Angel used the wall to gain momentum to flip up and over the vampire’s shoulder. Angel plunged the stake into his back before the vampire even knew he’d lost.
A slight rustling drew Angel’s attention. Vamp number two was standing up, and if the look of consternation was any indication, was considering a foolhardy attack. Angel shook his head and advised against it.
“I wouldn’t, boy. I just dusted two of your friends in less than a minute. What chance do you think you have?”
Obviously, not much. The vampire turned tail and ran into the street. Angel savored the adrenaline rushing through his body and the knowledge that he was still capable of inspiring fear, even in the weakened state he was in. Angel dropped the stake to the ground and turned back to Julie.
She stood there in a small puddle of water, her blue eyes wide and fearful, her hands grasping the boy’s shoulders roughly. The child whimpered slightly, and Julie released her grasp, ashamed that she caused him pain. Angel understood though. She was nervous and protective.
“Are you Julie?” Angel asked perfunctorily. She nodded in confirmation and eyed the pile of dust closest to him warily. “My name is Angel. Are you hurt? Did any of them do anything?” Julie shook her head. “You need to start talking. I’m not real good at carrying conversations.”
Julie obliged. “What the hell was wrong with their faces?”
Angel paused and tried to consider what to say. He finally decided on the truth. “They were vampires. Demons without souls. This town is full of them and are a large reason why it isn’t safe to go out at night.” Julie was silent. The boy squirmed nervously. “I know that may be hard to accept, but…”
“It explains a lot,” Julie interrupted. Angel was surprised. “All the weird shit that goes on in this town. Figures there would be a weird explanation. Do you have a car?” Angel was caught off guard by the question.
“A car. If you do, can we have a ride? I’ve suddenly lost the urge to ride public transportation home.” Julie continued to stare in confusion at the piles of dust. “How could they be…those things? They were my boss’ crew.” Understanding dawned on her. “The son of a bitch sent them for me.”
Angel was lagging a little behind in the comprehension department, but he knew without question that he shouldn’t leave either of them alone. “I don’t think it safe for you to go home.”
“What do you suggest?”
“Maybe you and the boy should come with me.” Angel tried to smile reassuringly at the child. “I suppose this is your son?”
“That’s a nice name.” Angel held out his hand and beckoned for Julie to come closer. She considered for a moment. How wise was it to go home with a stranger? He looked sincere enough, and he did save her and Donovan from an attack. And besides, Julie had always thought herself a good judge of people. She decided to go for it. Julie nudged Donovan forward and allowed Angel to escort them to his car.
Number two was certain no good would come of this. But what else could he do? He had to report what happened. This was a business deal, and the boss needed to know when one of his business deals went sour. Number two had no doubt that he would lose his head because of that fact, but hey, he had a good run. Right? Maybe not.
“So,” the boss drawled. “You were not able to obtain the money from Miss Julie, correct?”
“And John and William were killed by this Good Samaritan?”
“I see.” The boss leaned back in the leather recliner and propped his feet up on the oak desk. His index fingers formed a pyramid under his nose and he considered the vampire before him. He shouldn’t be mad. The vampire had been bested by forces that he couldn’t have accounted for. But yet, he still was mad. He was out good money that he was owed. And now, Julie was alert to the fact that he no longer required her services.
The boss stood up from the chair and crossed the lavish office to stand in front of the vampire. He clapped the vampire’s shoulders and stared at him earnestly. “Tell me, Charles. What should I do about this?”
Charles grimaced, expecting the deathblow at any moment. “Uh, let me have a second chance to do the job?”
The boss nodded fervently. “Yes! You’ve been a good employee for…how long have you worked for me, Charlie?”
“Twenty-five years, sir.”
“And in those twenty-five years, have you ever failed to complete an assignment?”
“That’s right. You haven’t. I’ve kept you on staff because you do your job and you do it well. So why start disappointing me now?” Before number two could speak, the boss grabbed hold of the vampire’s head and jerked it clean off. The vamp exploded it dust. The boss wiped his hands clean and spoke to another vampire lackey that stood in the corner.
“Derrick? Take down some notes.” The vampire pulled a pencil and memo book from his coat pocket. “I want this Good Samaritan found. I want his name, history, everything. No one interferes with my business. Second, I want the notes for the next appointment on my desk first thing in the morning. Finally, I want Julie to be found. Send Jacob to locate her. Tell him to use his best judgment in dealing with her. Is that understood?”
The vampire finished the notes and answered, “Yes sir.”
“Good. You are dismissed.”
The vampire nodded and scurried from the room. The boss stood there emotionless as he peered at the dust of one of his best employees.
Angel gently lifted the teapot from the stove and poured the steaming contents into two small cups. Setting the pot down, Angel moved to the cupboard and found a small bag of sugar and a bottle of liquid lemon extract. It wasn’t hard. They were the only items on the shelf.
“Thank you for letting us stay here.”
He didn’t even flinch at the soft voice behind him. Angel simply added the sugar and lemon to each cup. “It’s no problem.” He set the cups on the proper saucers and handed one to Julie. She accepted.
“And thank you for letting Donovan use one of your shirts to sleep in.”
Angel smiled slightly. Having no nightclothes himself, Angel lent one of his black t-shirts to the child. It was so long that it appeared as if Donovan was wearing a dress. Angel gently motioned for Julie to follow him into the main room. He sat down on the black sofa and indicated for her to do the same.
They sat quietly for a few moments. Angel didn’t dare press. It was quite obvious that Julie was nervous in the settings. He wanted her to relax before delving into any problems. It was then that he noticed Julie was staring at some of the weapons hanging on the wall.
“Tough neighborhood,” he joked lightly.
Julie chuckled. “Evidently. But yet you still are cultured enough to drink tea on saucers. Are you British?”
“God no,” Angel answered. Julie quirked her brows at his slight disgust. “I’m originally Irish.” That apparently explained everything. Angel decided to gently probe into her life. But before he could do so, Julie opened with a question of her own.
“How did you know I would need help?”
Gee. Start out with the tough questions. “Tip from a friend.”
“Are you an investigator or something?”
“Or something.” Julie frowned at that answer. “You said something in the alley,” Angel started. “I believe you said that your boss sent those vampires for you.”
Julie avoided eye contact. “I was just angry,” she lied.
“Maybe you should try to explain things so I can understand.”
“I want to help you.”
Pause. “Do you want me to start at the beginning?”
“Is that where we need to start?”
“If that’s where I start, then this will take a while.”
“It’s still early.” Both glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was one in the morning. “Well, it’s technically early.”
Julie set the tea down on the coffee table before leaning back on the couch. She rubbed her forehead gently to ease away the tension. As Angel looked closely he could plainly see the fatigue and frustration wearing at the young woman. She took a deep breath and started to speak softly.
“It started about seven years ago. I came to Sunnydale for college. I was really looking forward to it. It was a chance for me to start my own life. I didn’t have any family back home. Well, none that mattered. College was supposed to be the unveiling of a new me.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to major in when I arrived. Psychology. Maybe it was a reaction to having such a screwed up childhood.” Julie chuckled at the thought. Angel smiled. “Things were going great to begin with. I was actually making new friends. I had a part-time job at the library. And then I met him.”
“Karl Kinder,” Julie clarified. “Doctor Karl Kinder. Associate Dean of the Department of Psychology. I met him as he did research at the library. He was handsome. He had this dignified look about him. He looked like the smart man that he was. Wire frame glasses. Salt and pepper hair. He was so kind to me. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Well, I thought it was love. Looking back I can almost say with certainty that it was merely a reaction to actually having a respectable male figure paying attention to me. Did I mention that he was twenty-five years older than me?”
“Well, he was. And not long after we met, Karl took me under his wing, so to speak. I became his research assistant.” Angel looked skeptical. Julie noticed. “No, it wasn’t like that at first. It was really a good gig. I started getting a taste of the experiments he performed. And I was also able to really make some good contacts within the department.”
“But things didn’t stay that way.”
“No,” Julie agreed, “they didn’t. Hindsight says that it was a mistake to sleep with him. It was an even bigger mistake not to use protection. The fact I was drunk out of my gourd on red wine is no excuse. But I should reiterate the fact that I was young and stupid. When I found out I was pregnant, I deluded myself into believing we could be a family. But when he found out I was pregnant Karl was less than enthused. Especially since he already had a family.
“I probably could have been a bitch and knocked on his front door and introduce myself to his wife. But I couldn’t. I wasn’t going to walk in and destroy his life like that.”
“Nobody could have faulted you for doing so. He fathered your child. He should have supported it.”
“Yeah. Probably. But I didn’t think he or his family should pay for my mistake. I decided to go it alone. I had friends and a few contacts. I thought I would be okay.”
“What happened to Karl?”
“He accepted the Head of Psychology position at some college up north. Someplace in Idaho or Oregon or something. I didn’t really care.”
“And what about all of these friends of yours?”
“They helped me as much as they could. Some of them were really sweet about it. Others felt obligated, I think. But I scrapped by. I somehow managed to keep up with classes. My GPA dropped to a two point seven, but I got by. And when I gave birth and looked into my little boy’s eyes, I knew right then it had all been worth it.”
“You really love him,” Angel observed.
“I do. Conceiving him may have been a mistake, but giving birth to him sure wasn’t. It felt like the best thing I’d ever done.”
“Then is when the trouble started. You may not believe it, but babies are expensive. So is tuition. So are books and housing and food and utilities.”
“You were broke.”
“And in the red. Or black. Whichever one means debt, that was me. I had to go to work full time. My grades dropped below two point oh. Things got so bad that I thought I would need to quit school and get a second job. It didn’t come to that.
“I had a friend that introduced me to a man named Jameson. He was an old guy. A bit weird, but when he offers to pay for tuition and rent, it makes a girl look past the quirks. It wasn’t free, of course. Concessions were made.”
“You went to work at the strip club.”
“Yeah. He thought I’d be worth the investment. I was pretty good, and that is not me tooting my horn. I made the club a lot of money. I didn’t enjoy the work, but he was paying for what I needed. I was going to school and Donovan was being fed and clothed. So when he suggested that I expand my expertise to other…services…I reluctantly agreed.”
Angel’s eyes went wide. “He had you…”
“Yes,” Julie interrupted. She didn’t want to hear the word. “He said we needed to make even on his investment. So he sort of offered my services to his friends. For a fee. A large fee.”
Angel was beginning to understand. “Before I entered the alley I heard something about money owed.”
“One of his friends claimed to be unhappy with my work. After beating the shit out of me, the SOB refused to pay. When Jameson found out, he accused me of holding out on him. He wants his money, and for the past several weeks I’ve been giving him the money I make from tips. It’s apparently not accumulating fast enough.”
Angel listened to the end of her story in silent anger. The girl had been taken advantage of. She had been working for some creep the past several years and forced into performing the lowest of occupations. And if it hadn’t been for the vision of a lovely young Corsican girl, Julie might now be dead.
“Can I find this Jameson at the club?”
Julie shook her head. “No. I’ve only met him once or twice. When he wants to speak to someone, he does it by phone or emissary. His head guy at the club is Juan Ramirez.” Julie stared at him thoughtfully. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
“Remember? Psych girl here. I think I can read people fairly well. You saved my life tonight and you gave my son and I a safe place to stay. I cannot ask for anything more.”
“You’re not asking. I’m offering,” Angel explained. “Listen, why don’t you try and get some rest. I’ve got a friend that I’m going to send here to watch out for you.”
Angel stood up and moved to his weapons cabinet. He strapped on one of his wrist stakes and retrieved his car keys. Julie watched curiously. “What are you going to do?”
“Research.” Angel checked the stake and grabbed his duster.
“You do research with a sharp piece of wood?”
“Like I said. It’s a tough neighborhood.” He could plainly see the skepticism. “Don’t worry. I’m going to keep you and your son safe. I promise.” Angel did his best to give a reassuring smile before he walked out the door.