Posted here: 08/15
Category: for violence, language, and suggestive dialogue
Summary: In the aftermath of the battles against the Beast, Angel winds up in Sunnydale. Hoping to work out his problems and his conflicting emotions concerning Cordelia, his sojourn is interrupted when an old enemy arrives in town. Together with the Scoobies, Angel must stop this new evil before he becomes a threat to mankind.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes: Howdy everyone. It’s been a while since I posted a story. Anyway, I now present to you Sojourn.
Thanks/Dedication: I cannot give enough props to argentlife and canadia. They proofread this sucker and told me what was good, what was bad, and what was just plain illegal. Thanks guys!
“I mean, she was a really pretty girl. No, she was a hottie girl. I mean, her hair…”
The bartender just looked at Angel in sympathy as he poured him another shot of bourbon. The bartender didn’t look very interested in the story, so Angel turned to the insect looking thing sitting to his left.
“Her hair was so pretty. Didn’t matter what color it was that week. Her skin, and God, her eyes. Such pretty brown eyes. I really thought I meant something to her. I mean, she was my best friend. She was my link to the world. There were times in the past few years where she was the only thing keeping me sane.”
The demon next to him blinked all three eyes and clicked his mandibles in a sympathetic manner.
“I made mistakes, I know that. I was pure evil. I killed so many people. But despite all that, I thought she accepted me. She always told me to embrace the demon. It’s a part of what I am. She always said there was a difference between the soulless version and the version that was her Champion.” Angel downed the shot of bourbon in a quick gulp.
“I wonder if that was a lie. She told me she loved me, you know. Then guess what happens after that.” Angel took that series of clicks as curiosity. “She sleeps with another man. Hardly even a man. You know who he was? My goddamn son, that’s who. Good God, I loved this woman so much, and she turns around and betrays me. This is a woman I would have gladly given my life for. Without hesitation, I would sacrifice my existence and spend an eternity in hell if it meant she could live.” Angel sighed heavily. “I wonder if it was all a lie.”
Bug-man patted his shoulder sympathetically with a claw. A series of morose clicks conveyed his feelings. Angel gave a slightly drunken smile and patted the claw. “Thanks for listening. I needed to get it out.”
“Does that mean you’ll stop your bitching?”
Angel turned back in his seat and saw four young vampires sitting at a table and playing poker. Another three sat around watching the game. “I’m sorry, was I boring you?”
“Boring? Nah. Just making me sick.” One of the vampires stood up and slowly walked over to Angel. The vampire looked like he was a redneck as a human. Cowboy boots, dirty blue jeans, flannel shirt, wicked twang of an accent. This guy definitely was better off dead. “You’re a vampire. A demon. And you’re here moping about some stupid human bitch. You’re a disgrace to your species.”
“Is that right?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” the vampire spat back. “And I have half a mind to put you out of your misery. How do you like that idea?”
“Well, Cletus,” Angel drawled. “I think you need to mind your manners.” With a snap of the wrist, Angel produced a stake and drove it into Cletus’ heart. “I may be a disgrace, but I’m not the one whose gonna get vacuumed.”
Cletus’ friends didn’t take kindly to the staking. Various shouts of anger were thrown at Angel before the six got to their feet and charged.
Angel was on his feet in moments and started backing towards the door. Passing by a pool table, he grabbed a stick and prepared for the assault. “You guys have two choices,” Angel warned. “Ya’ll can sit down and enjoy your game, or I can kill each and every one of you.”
The vampires laughed at the threat. A small Hispanic looking vampire spoke for the group. “You got some balls on you, hombre. But there are six of us, and only one of you. I say there is a serious disadvantage here.”
“You’re right,” Angel admitted. “Should I put the stick down so you guys have a chance?”
The vampires fanned out and waited for an opening. Angel seriously didn’t like the cramped quarters of the bar. Without turning from his opponents, he kicked the door down behind him and moved into the street. Now he liked his odds.
The vampires charged forward, but now they had to attack single file as they attempted to get through the door and onto the street. Angel quickly jammed the pool stick through the heart of the lead vamp.
The dark dust was a sharp contrast to the pink neon sign labeling the bar as “Willy’s”. Angel was able to deliver a kick to the gut of the next vamp before staking him as well.
“It’s only four on one now boys. You guys can still back out if you want.”
Angel backed further out onto the street. Despite having a couple shots of hard liquor coursing through his veins and a four on one disadvantage, Angel knew he had this battle won. And a couple blocks away, a small group noticed the vampires circling a man with a pool stick.
Four of them wanted to rush in, but the fifth held them back.
The remaining vampires circled around Angel until they faced him from all four directions. Angel gave a sly smirk and winked at the lone female of the group. This was going to be fun.
The attack was launched.
The vampires in front and back leapt first. Without turning around, Angel estimated where his back attacking vampire’s heart would be. With a twist of the pool stick and an easy thrust, the vamp was turned to dust. The vampire in front of him was dropped to his knees when Angel delivered a vicious kick to his gut. A violent knee to the face sent him flying backwards.
The final two vampires charged from the sides. With a swift pivot, Angel twisted in place and nailed both vamps with a shot to the head. With a quick jab, Angel staked the female and turned his attention to the others.
“Two on one,” Angel taunted. “Odds are dwindling for you guys. I hope this is worth it.”
The two vampires stood up side-by-side and prepared to attack. They would never get the chance. Angel snapped the pool stick in half over his knee and hurled the pieces directly into their hearts. As Angel watched the clouds of dust drift to the ground, he reached into his leather jacket and pulled out a flask. He took a long swallow and turned to find his car.
“Haven’t you heard that you shouldn’t drink and drive?”
Angel didn’t have to turn to know whom the voice belonged to. “I have. But that isn’t the question that should be asked.”
“And what is?”
“Do I care?”
“That’s a sucky attitude.”
“Sucky attitude for a sucky life.” Angel took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Don’t be silent. Willow. Xander. Giles. Dawn. Say hello.” Angel turned to greet the group. “Long time no see. Dawn, you’ve gotten big. Just shot right past sis, didn’t you?”
Dawn and Willow said cheery hellos. Giles politely responded. Xander remained silent. “So what brings you to Sunnydale?” Buffy asked. “I thought you had your own life in Los Angeles.”
“I thought I did, too. But I guess I’m here on a soul searching trip.” Angel chuckled at his pun. “I needed to retreat to someplace familiar. In the past twenty years, I’ve lived in three places. And I really didn’t want to do the cross country thing to Manhattan.”
Buffy nodded slightly. “I know the feeling. You should have soul searched earlier. Could have used the help to divert this last apocalypse we had a while back.”
Angel gave a lopsided grin that stirred the butterflies in her stomach. “Couldn’t have come anyway. Had my own to deal with. Involved an ancient beast of the underworld, haunted toilets, and a stake jammed into my neck. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Really? Then I’m telling it wrong.”
Buffy chuckled slightly. “So where are you staying?”
“No clue.” Angel emphasized his comment with another swill of his whiskey. “Preferably a room with an eastward view.”
“Then why don’t you stay at my house? I don’t think you’re in much condition to be going anywhere.”
“Do you now? Well, my coordination was good enough to kill seven vampires.”
“I only saw four.”
“Got me three inside.”
“Still, I’d feel better if you came with me.”
Angel huffed and took another shot. Maybe he shouldn’t argue. He was starting to feel the effects. He reached into another pocket and pulled out his keys. Tossing them to Buffy, he flopped into the back of the convertible. “Take me home, darlin’,” Angel slurred. “You drink and I’ll drive.”
Even Xander couldn’t help but let out a bit of laughter. “How about you drink and I’ll drive?” Buffy offered.
“That’s what I said, but still, it’s a fabulous idea.” Angel slapped the outside of the car door and shouted, “Home James!”
The gang shared some bewildered looks before saying their goodbyes. Giles would hitch a ride home with Xander. Dawn and Willow would go with Buffy. “Sunnydale,” Buffy sighed. “It has it all. A mystical convergence. More cemeteries per square mile than any town in the nation. And it has drunken ex-boyfriends. The party never stops.”
Willow hopped in the back next to Angel while Dawn sat shotgun. As Buffy adjusted the driver’s seat, she had to admit it wasn’t all bad.
“Never gotten to drive a convertible before.”
The group stared in awe at the wreckage that was strewn across the warehouse. Wooden boxes were shattered into splinters. A small forklift was overturned and the gas tank was mysteriously missing. As Gunn turned his attention to a far corner, he discovered the whereabouts of the tank.
“Holy shit,” he said aloud.
The smoldering body of the Beast hung from a chain dangling from the rafters. The burned body had a two-foot long blade jammed through the chest. Underneath the corpse was a small pool of gasoline that was slowly burning itself out.
Wesley and Faith walked up beside him and absorbed the carnage. Finally, Faith looked at the warehouse more closely and noticed something was missing.
“Do you guys notice something wrong with this picture?”
Gunn continued to be fascinated by the Beast’s limp body. “Something wrong? On so many levels in so many ways.”
“Not that, dumbass,” an annoyed Faith retorted. “Did you notice that Angel isn’t here?” Wesley and Gunn finally noticed the fact. “Cordelia isn’t gonna like this,” Faith said confidently. “First the hellspawn disappears and now Angel.”
“Maybe he’s just hiding,” Gunn said desperately. “Yo! Angel! Get your punk ass out here!” Wesley and Faith stared at him as if he were an idiot. “I don’t see you doing anything productive,” he defended.
They all turned at the sound of footsteps. Their hope that it was Angel was crushed when they saw Cordelia. In her arms she clutched her newborn child to her chest. The look on her face was simply pitiful.
“Cordelia,” Wesley began softly. “I thought I asked you to stay outside.”
Cordelia ignored him. Tears trickled down her face as she noticed that he wasn’t to be found. “Wesley? Where’s Angel?”
It took the combine strength of both Willow and Buffy to drag Angel up the stairs and into the spare bedroom.
“Hold on just a second longer,” Buffy grunted. “Move a little to the left so he’ll flop on the bed. Okay…now!”
Dawn watched as they let loose of Angel. The vampire fell forward onto the bed at a peculiar angle. Buffy tried to turn him to a more comfortable position as Willow pulled his boots off.
“Do you want to take some of his clothes off to make him comfortable, or leave him like this?” Willow asked.
Buffy gave her best ‘Are you kidding me?’ look. “I’m not, but you can if you want. You’re the gay one, it makes more sense for you to do it.”
“Okay, number one: If I were straight, I would so take advantage of the situation. Number two: I was only asking out of politeness. I’m too tired to strip out of my own clothes much less strip someone else’s.”
“Did you guys notice how strange Angel was acting?” Dawn asked. “I mean, besides the whole drunk thing.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed. “When exactly did Angel develop such a morbid sense of humor?”
“When did Angel develop a sense of humor, period?” Willow asked.
That was a great point, Buffy admitted. Angel never made too many funnies. “Something definitely is wrong. While it is entirely possible he’s developed a sense of humor in the past four years, he’s never seemed like the type to drink excessively.”
“Should we call Wesley or Cordelia?” Willow asked. “He does still work with them, doesn’t he?”
“From the last that I heard he does. But let him get some sleep. Maybe he’ll talk to us in the morning. If not, then we can call them.”
“Maybe he wouldn’t want us to call,” Dawn suggested. The girls turned and looked at her curiously. “Didn’t you guys get the impression not everything was right back home for him? Maybe he just needs some alone time.”
The three women turned their eyes back to the sleeping form. What the hell could be so bad that Angel would come to the Hellmouth to work out his problems?
33 Miles East of Sunnydale
“We’re not going to make it!” the redheaded woman shouted. He was coming, and they weren’t going to survive this.
Six people cowered in a storm cellar as they awaited their fates. The three women were huddled in a corner as the men stepped forward with swords drawn. Their eyes were all focused on the steel door at the top of the stairs. It wouldn’t be long before he would come crashing through.
“You girls will make it,” the lead male said calmly. William diverted his attention from the door a moment to gaze at the girls. “Emma, Kayla, you have to make sure Hannah makes it there. When he gets down here, we’ll hold him off as long as possible. When we have him engaged, make a break up the stairs and to the highway. Sunnydale isn’t that far. You have to find him. He is the only one who can protect Hannah.”
“No,” Hannah pleaded. “William, we can all run for it. We can make it. Please, if you stay, he will kill you all.”
“Then so be it,” Thomas spoke.
“Yes,” James agreed. “Your survival is all that matters. Without you, our people and our power will die. You must make it to Sunnydale, no matter the cost.”
The first loud crash was heard as he tried to force his way inside. It only took three blows before the steel door flew down the stairs and landed in a crumpled heap at the feet of the warriors.
“Wait until we have him engaged,” William reminded softly.
“William, no,” Hannah sobbed in a final desperate plea. It was only a moment later when he appeared.
“Hello all,” the being said with a smirk.
One would typically expect a demon as vicious and vile as this to have horns and fangs and claws. But despite his human appearance, underneath was the heart of a monster. Standing just over six feet, the being had his shoulder length brown hair slicked back.
Piercing blue eyes surveyed the room and sized up the humans. He pulled a cigarette from his black duster and lit up. The being took a puff as he considered the possibilities. “Give me the girl and I shall let you live,” he offered.
“No,” William said simply.
“You can’t protect her from me. You won’t leave this room alive.”
“We understand that,” Thomas answered. “We have fully accepted our fates.”
“You will not get Hannah,” James continued. “He will protect her from you.”
The being let loose with a deep and demonic laugh. “You truly believe that, don’t you? He is nothing. And if he stands in my way, he will meet the fate that you have supposedly accepted.”
“He defeated you once,” William reminded. “He can do so again.”
The being’s laughter stopped. He dropped the cigarette to the ground and stomped it out. “He was extraordinarily lucky,” the being growled. He stepped forward and nailed Thomas with a vicious uppercut that sent the man crashing into the concrete wall behind him. “And as you can see, I am much stronger than I was then.”
“Girls, run!” William shouted. The two standing warriors charged and launched a furious and futile attack. The girls leapt to their feet and ran around the battle and up the stairs. Hannah paused at the bottom to watch James get knocked down with a hard clubbing blow. “Run!” William insisted. “Find Angel! Do it now!”
Crying, Hannah obediently obeyed her brother and hurried up the stairs. The girls had gone no further than twenty feet across the field when they heard the tortured screaming that signaled James’ death. As the girls reached the highway a quarter mile away and tried to hitch a ride, the battle in the storm cellar came to a tragic end.
The being ripped William’s spine from his body before dropping the mutilated corpse to the floor. Hands bloody, he reached into his duster and retrieved another cigarette. “Well, Angel,” he said aloud as he took the first drag.
“It looks as if we shall finally finish our little game. And I guarantee you one thing, vampire. Eighty years is time enough to think of several naughty ways I could make you suffer.”
Cordelia gazed at the full moon through the window of her bedroom at the Hyperion. She swayed gently in the rocking chair as her child fell into slumber. It had been two weeks since the final battle. Two weeks since the birth of her child. Two weeks since the destruction of the Beast. Two weeks since she last saw Angel.
“Where are you?” Cordelia whispered sadly. “Why won’t you come home?”
Quietly, a figure slipped into the bedroom and slowly approached. Cordelia didn’t even turn to look as he came to a stop several feet away.
“Hello, Wesley,” Cordelia said softly.
Wesley smiled slightly as he moved forward and knelt by the chair. “How did you know it was me?”
Never turning her gaze from the moon, Cordelia answered. “It wasn’t too hard. You wear Brahma boots. They have a distinct sound to the step. Plus, you always have the same length in your stride, so I can listen for the intervals between steps.
“Gunn wears Wolverines most of the time. They have a harder sound and his strides are somewhat erratic. And Angel…” Cordelia paused as she thought of the vampire. “If you were Angel, I wouldn’t have heard you at all. But I would have felt you.” Cordelia closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the city through the open window.
“Angel and I are connected,” Cordelia stated. Wesley nodded his acknowledgment. “Sometimes, if I tried hard enough, I could reach out and feel him, no matter how far away he was. Do you know what I feel when I reach out for him now?” Wesley didn’t. “I feel nothing.”
Cordelia knew what Wesley was thinking. “I don’t mean in the sense that he is dead. No, I would certainly be able to tell that. I meant in the sense that he’s cut himself off. Wherever he is and whatever he is going through, he wants to be alone. He doesn’t want me to find him.” Cordelia began to sob softly at that knowledge.
“That scares me, Wesley. I know that I made a horrible mistake. I betrayed him in the worst way imaginable. But I still love him, and it breaks my heart that he would cut me away.”
“What do you want me to do?” Wesley asked even though he knew the answer.
“I need you to find him.” For the first time, Cordelia turned to look at him. When Wesley looked into her eyes, he saw a woman with a tortured soul. “I need you to find him,” she repeated. “I need him to come home.”
She turned her attention back to the night sky. “I don’t want to be alone.”