ANGEL DAYTIME – ABANDONED BUILDING NO 1
“Which one of you is Diego”?
They all looked at him as they sat huddled under blankets, staring with blinking eyes and startled faces. There had been a lookout posted at the sewer entrance so they were better prepared than the last bunch, but not much smarter; he’d taken the guard out without any trouble.
“Take my advice: next time you post a guard, do it up top and not in the sewers, makes it harder to kill ’em”, He gave this sage advice in a quiet and almost friendly tone, confusing them even more.
Things got clearer when Angel removed the sword from inside his leather coat where it had been hidden, it was shorter than his broadsword with a wider blade, almost Romanesque to look at it. The big advantage was it could be carried and concealed much easier.
He held the sword up and across his body and smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes, “So which one of you is Diego”? He walked further in, keeping to the middle of the room while scanning it, counting the numbers and checking the location of each of the vampires in the nest.
“He’s Diego” said one of them pointing to one of the other huddled shapes that was watching him with wary yellow eyes, those eyes darted to the tattletale and then back to Angel, it lowered the blanket and shot back “He’s lying he’s Diego”.
“I don’t care, just thought I’d ask, you’re all going to die anyway” He kicked the nearest vamp so hard it went airborne, flying into three others a few feet away, causing them to jump up. Then he was on them, not using the blade at first, just his fists, feet and the hilt. He’d found out where the exits where and any that tried to escape just died quicker.
There had been nine of them in the nest, at the end of five minutes there was only one left. He stalked the last one, already beaten but not dusted. Whenever it made an attempt to get around him or leave through some hidden exit, he grabbed it by its clothes or whatever was handy and dragged it back, always keeping it within reach, never letting up.
Finally it just sat on its knees and looked at him, waiting for him to do whatever he was going to do. “Man, will you just get this over with” it complained, resigned to its fate.
“Is that what your victims say to you” Asked Angel still with the quiet voice.
“Sometimes, what about you, ‘Scourge of Europe'”, it sneered at him, knowing he wouldn’t like that. He didn’t so he back handed it across the room with his sword-hand.
“There’s a reason you’re not dust yet, so why don’t you shut up and listen” it lay there spitting out blood and listening.
“The reason why this happened is because of an attempt made by some vamps to get to me through my people”. Angel stopped talking to let that sink in, walking in circles around the vamp on the ground.
“You’re alive to get a message out to all your other vamp and demons buddies that if it happens again. I will do this again and again, every demon involved will die and every demon with that demon will die with it”.
He leaned down until he was speaking directly into it’s now hopeful face “Do you understand what I want you to say”?
It nodded, if any vamps or demons did something like this again, many would pay the price, even if they had not taken part. Guilty by association.
Angel walked back out, two down and two to go kill before he could go home.
THE HYPERION HOTEL
It was the day after and she was still sore, but so much better than she could have been so she didn’t complain, much. Cathy was in Fred’s old room and she had taken Angel’s, well they were the two most habitable after all.
“At least the place has been kept clean, thank you Fred for feeling sentimental and getting it cleaned regularly”, she said aloud and with a smile for the absent Fred.
She wandered around the lobby, fingers trailing on the polished wood of the counter and looking around her with mixed feeling of happiness and sadness at the memories. She and her friends had helped a lot of people during their time here and no one could make her believe otherwise.
“And I’m going to keep up the tradition” She announced, determination on her face. She was sick of the apartment she was in; it was small and cramped especially to work from.
“I’m coming back and setting up shop” Then a thought hit her and she nearly danced with glee “Maybe I can get Cathy to move Dennis here. Wow won’t he love the space”.
Of course she would have to persuade Angel to let her have it, she frowned then unhappy with the fact that she wasn’t so sure he would agree. She was going to have to work on her negotiating skills. “Damn”.
ANGEL – EVENING
It had taken him a while to find the next one, but eventually he’d gotten the right address, that nest had had a similar set up to the last and ended in the much same way. Now he was on his way to find the last one, he should have been tired, but every time he stopped moving, searching or fighting he would see it all again, FEEL it again.
The absolute horror of what had almost happened, he’d thrown up earlier when he’d eventually found a place to rest and closed his eyes, it all came back to him; finding the dead security and lab staff; frantically searching for her and then finding them.
Realising what Drusilla had planned and feeling terror right down to his bones that he wouldn’t get through in time, then the certainty that he couldn’t. He still didn’t understand how it had been stopped, she was OK, but he nearly died with every image burned into his skull of Cordy alive by the merest thread, being fed by Drusilla.
At the time he’d forced himself to not think, to feel only the rage and none of the pain, he had to believe that he would get through and he did. But something else had saved Cordy, not him. She hadn’t given him the chance to, hadn’t let him protect her by keeping it from him and facing it alone.
It was never ever happening again, he was seeing to it and then he would make sure that Cordy understood he would not let her do that to him again. He was never going to feel that way again.
He looked up past the front of the betting shop, to the rooms above. The owners of the shop would fleece the punters and the vamps would eat the losers that couldn’t pay their bills. Nice little set-up, except for the hapless customers of course.
He entered the betting shop so swiftly no one saw him until he had ripped the CCTV camera from the wall and thrown it through the plate glass window protecting the counter staff. There was lots of screaming but he left it behind him when he vaulted over the counter heading for the back stairs and the rooms above.
He reached the landing and found two doors; one he identified easily as the john purely by the smell, the other one was locked, not surprisingly. He lifted a leg and booted it in and the bolts and one hinge gave with a twist of metal, making the door hang at a crazy angle. He stepped through and saw a figure disappear out of the window to the street below.
Angel didn’t wait to see if he recognised any of the other demons in the room, two of which were vampires while the others were a mix of demon breeds. He sprinted over to the window and dived out of it, after the leather clad bearded vampire he had seen briefly, that one he did recognise from earlier, the last one.
It was only one storey so he landed on his feet no problem in time to see his quarry race down and across the empty street and into an alley. He pursued, his booted feet pounding the pavement in ground eating strides that lengthened even more as he pushed for more power. He entered the alley within seconds of having seen the other vamp do the same.
He was gaining on it as the other vampire lost ground turning round to see where he was, he could smell rancid grease mixed with blood on it. Good it would be easier to track if he lost it.
It leapt up a building using the drainage pipe and gained the roof but didn’t slow as it carried on running. Angel reached the earlier neighbouring building and leapt up onto a parked van, using that to vault onto the roof. He ran along it and then leapt over the gap between the two buildings before the biker vamp had reached the other end and jumped down again on the other side.
The biker vamp gained the ground and yanked open the door of a parked car beside the road where it landed. Angel saw it and stepped back a few paces from the edge only to run back and leap off. He fell towards the ground, landing directly on the bonnet of the car, just as the engine was cranking to life.
The bonnet folded with screaming metal and the engine died, Angel punched a hole through the windscreen and used that to gain a hold on the roof, wrenching with all his might up and to the side, peeling back the roof to get at the other vampire.
It dived for the passenger side and scrabbled to get out of the car and made it with only seconds to spare; annoyed Angel slammed the misshapen roof out of his way again to pursue the fleeing vampire. The roads where still pretty deserted as this was not an area frequented for pleasure unless it was an illegal one and those people didn’t want to be seen so they had the road to themselves. Angel’s feet flew over the tarmac, each pounding step causing reverberations to race up his spine and he felt a tingling pleasure at the chase.
The vampire took another corner into yet another alley, but over estimated the corner and bounced off the far wall before recovering and setting off again. Angel was gaining on it and closed the distance even more when he used the same corner to keep up his speed by setting a foot on the wall and racing along that for two strides before going back to the ground again. His boots hitting the cement with a crunch.
Within seconds he was only an arms length away from the other vamp. It slid something from its waist and started to swing it, turning to face Angel now that he had caught up with it. It was a length of heavy chain. Angel ducked and felt it whistle over his head, he grabbed the hand holding the chain and turned, putting his back to its stretched torso to flip it over his shoulder.
It landed on its head and shoulders and Angel continued the momentum by bringing his own weight into play, slamming down on top of it, elbow first. They both gained their feet almost immediately, the biker vamp shaking its head to clear it, Angel didn’t wait but came in low with a jabbing punch to the solar plexus, doubling it over just in time to meet a crunching blow from an upraised knee.
It fell back and staggered, blood pouring from its nose and mouth but it still had hold of the chain and it spun around to bring the chain in arc towards Angel. Angel jumped away but it still caught him and he staggered and tripped, falling onto his back. Using his legs Angel flipped back onto his feet and met the chain again, this time in the chest, it spun him round with the crushing blow and he fell face down to the ground again. The vamp stomped a boot down onto his back as he tried to rise, driving him back to the unyielding ground, Angel tasted his own blood and swore.
He kicked out with one leg which forced the biker vamp to move back or hit the ground itself, giving Angel the chance to get back to his feet, which he did with a snarl and flashing fangs of his own.
He feinted to the right and then when it fell for it, back handed it across the face with his left fist, grabbing the chain again with his right hand and yanking back until the vampire was again within reach of his pounding left fist. It fell to the floor its head hanging, stunned.
Angel now had the chain; before the other could recover from the two previous blows he wrapped the chain around its head like a noose and crossed it at the back. It reacted to that but was too late to prevent Angel tightening the chain from behind and hauling it back onto its feet. Then he gathered his strength and tossed it up and over his hip, snapping its neck with the pressure from the chain.
But it was still alive, lying there grasping it’s head and helplessly trying to squirm backwards and get away. Angel looked around and saw that they had an audience, about half a dozen vamp and assorted demons were watching the show with avid interest, none of them made a move towards helping the fallen vampire.
Angel stared them down, his expression making it clear they were not to interfere. When he was satisfied they wouldn’t he walked towards an abandoned wooden desk at the side of a nearby building, next to an already overflowing trash can.
He lifted it up and set it down with the legs upwards and with deliberate slowness he walked back to the terrified vamp with the biker gear, beard and nose ring and picked it up by one arm and the opposite leg at the same time. Then he swung it up in the air with all of the power in his wide shoulders and muscular arms, for a second raising it to his shoulders before slamming it onto a desk leg, staking it through the heart.
It was done, he staggered and almost fell, a bad idea considering the company he was keeping so he managed to stay on his feet and melted back into the shadows. Watching the other demons watch him, when he had enough distance he turned toward where he’d left his car, slowly and aching in every muscle.
WOLFRAM & HART BUILDING
Fred had a fit when she saw him getting out of his car, parked in his spot beside the elevator that would take him back to his apartment.
“Angel what happened to you are you OK”, Asked Fred, horrified at the bloody and battered state he was in.
She ran over to see if he needed any help to get out of the car, since he wasn’t looking too nimble right then, but he didn’t need help, just gave her a tired look and shook his head when she came over.
“Are you wounded do you need any bandaging”? She asked, she knew he hated being patched up by the medic’s as he didn’t like strangers so close to him, so normally she or Lorne did it for him.
“No I just need a shower and some rest” he replied, pressing the button to call the elevator, which opened immediately with a muted ping. He got in and looked up at a worried looking Fred, who was chewing her bottom lip and looking like she wanted to say something else, then blessedly the doors closed and he was alone.
He started to shed clothes the moment he entered the apartment, dropping them wherever, just wanting to get into the shower and get all the blood and gore off his body.
The bathroom was luxurious with dark chocolate brown tiling, which would have been too dark except for the gold speckles that gave it some relief. There was a Jacuzzi in one corner, which he ignored in favour of an extra wide shower cubicle.
Naked he stepped inside it and turned on the water to maximum, sighing in relief at the warm sluicing water pouring over his tired and aching body. Streaks of red, purple and black bruising covered his torso, forearms and thighs. He stood under the spray with his head down, his spiky brown hair flattened and lengthened by the water which then ran down his neck reddened by blood from cuts on his forehead and by his eyes.
He was so tired he had to brace an arm on the tiled wall but his mind wouldn’t let him rest until he’d finished what he had to do, he knew if he tried to sleep he would only relive the nightmare. It was still early for him, if you didn’t count the fact that he hadn’t slept since the day before last.
He knew he was not in the best frame of mind to talk rationally but regardless he needed to see Cordelia. Check she was still OK and make her see that she couldn’t carry on with what she’d been doing, it had to stop now and he wanted her promise that it would, then he could rest.
THE HYPERION HOTEL
It was now over 24 hours since she had been nearly killed by Dru and she was dealing she thought, only a few nightmares and no shakes or anything, she was quite proud of herself. Another bonus was Cathy was on the mend, she guessed she could wake up at any time.
So she stayed with her, curled up on a big stuffed slight ratty armchair with a few magazines and a big hot steaming mug of coffee on the tabletop beside her. The rustle of pages turning was the only sounds to disturb the peace and so she had no problem hearing Cathy taking her first breath for over a day and night.
She put the magazine aside and sat on the bed beside her, the bite marks were still apparent what with the livid fresh scarring but they were closed over completely now. She smiled as Cathy opened her eyes and looked at her.
“Where are we” Cathy croaked, her throat was dry so Cordy helped her sit up and take a drink of cool water before she answered.
“Where at the Hyperion Hotel, do you remember me telling you about it” She replied.
Cathy nodded; a lot of what Cordy had told her about her life in LA was centred around this hotel with its art deco style and numerous empty rooms.
She struggled to get her bearings; she was always disoriented when first waking up from this type of sleep. It was as if her brain was so fogged with exhaustion from the effort of healing and sometimes even rebuilding her body that it refused to function properly when she returned to the land of the living.
She winced with the pain in her neck and reached out to touch it, she dimly heard Cordy asking her if she wanted to eat or pee, she shook her head and felt the searing pain increase with the gesture. No her body would not return to normal for a while yet, it would be tomorrow before normal human activity returned.
But she was thirsty as hell and was grateful when Cordy lifted her up again for more of the cool water. She stiffened for a second when she saw it but Cordy didn’t notice it. Should she tell Cordelia the confrontation she dreaded was imminent? No, she decided it couldn’t be avoided so why worry her friend before the fact, she’d find out soon enough.
A short time later Cordy was back down in the lobby, Cathy was asleep again, but a normal sleep this time, her body shut down only enough to get more rest. Cordy just had to leave her to it.
The glass doors over to the side closed with a bang and she swung around her heart in her mouth and then gasped when she saw him. God he looked like he’d been run over by a truck, she started to run over to him but something in his expression stopped her in her tracks.
Her heart dropped out of her mouth and sank to the floor, or at least it felt like it, uh oh, here we go she thought to herself, unconsciously lowering her chin but keeping her eyes locked to his. The silence that followed stretched her nerves and got her temper snapping, she raised her chin again, defensively.
“What is it Angel”? She kept her tone level but firm and crossed her arms.
He didn’t answer her but walked down the steps and over to where she stood, stopping just in front of her and leaving only about a foot between them. She had to look up to maintain eye contact.
“It’s finished they’re all dead”, she didn’t relax, he had that awful quiet voice that she hated with a passion, the one that said ‘don’t push me’ without actually saying the words.
“Good, thanks”, she was pretty much feeling her way here, she guessed what he was going to say next and wanted to avoid it but didn’t know how.
“It’s not enough Cordelia”, it was a warning of what was to come.
“Don’t even go there Angel, just don’t OK”, she couldn’t just let him say it; not without letting him know that she wouldn’t take it. She uncrossed her arms and moved back trying to create some space between them.
“Why not? tell me something then, why didn’t you warn me about Dru, I could have stopped it from going that far”, he moved forward too, refusing to let her have the distance she wanted.
“She told me if I did she would kill innocent people, because of me, a family. I couldn’t let that happen”. She faced him glaring almost toe to toe now, daring him to deny her the right to have made that choice.
“If you listened to her then you’re a fool. Just what the hell do you think she was feeding off, rats? Young families are her favourite always has been. All you did was make sure she had more time to do it”. He practically snarled it out, itching to shake some sense into her.
“That’s not fair, you couldn’t have found her”, denied Cordy stricken, dammit she hadn’t thought of that but then how could she have known.
“I know Dru, I could have found her, she was always a creature of habit, more so than any of the rest of us”, he didn’t spare her, wouldn’t.
“OK maybe you’re right and I made a mistake in not telling you, but that doesn’t mean that I have to give up, I won’t”, she wanted him to leave it at that, she didn’t want to have to make another choice between him and what she felt was right. She loved him but she would if he forced her.
He said it with such finality that she gasped and stared at him. The words seemed to hang between them. They stared at one another the air thick with a tension so tight it would take almost nothing to make explode.
“You can’t make me” She whispered it because her throat suddenly felt tight but there could be no doubt that she meant it. She was stiff with both determination and a stubbornness that made her unwilling to back down or even compromise until another time, when he might be more reasonable.
She wanted to lower her eyes or walk away, anything. But something made her stay where she was. She watched as his jaw clenched so hard a muscle began to tick, his brows lowered narrowing his eyes and his lips curved into a tight, cruel smile.
It was an expression she had seen on his face many times before but it was the first time she had ever been on the receiving end of it herself. She braced herself and locked her knees to prevent any hint of a revealing backward step.
She watched as he seemed to gather himself and then couldn’t help an instinctive step back when his eyes flashed gold as he vamped out right in front of her. His fangs flashed in a challenging snarl and demonic eyes watched her with predatory hunger.
“What the hell are you doing”? She asked him, horrified by the change in a way she had not been in a very long time.
“You’re so sure you can handle yourself, so prove it, right now”, every word was growled out as he advanced on her.
Oh my god was all her numb brain could come up with, “I don’t want to fight you” she said, disbelief written over her face, had he gone bad and she didn’t know it?
“Tough, you don’t have a choice. Real life time Cor, this is the life you want isn’t it”? He was taunting her now.
She backed away from him but he kept coming, her back hit the counter and she slid along it, trying to keep some distance, she could feel her heartbeat going crazy and her knees were weak with fear, she hated it and the fact that he couldn’t not know it, that made her angry.
“What are you trying to prove here Angel, that I should be afraid of them or of you”? Those words made him pause for just a fraction but before she could feel any relief he answered her.
“Shut up and get on with it Cordelia, unless your feeling to….Oh I dunno weak maybe” He was goading her but at the same time deadly serious.
She’d had enough, “Go to hell” she snarled at him and turned to storm off. His hand shot out and fastened on her upper arm and quick as a snake she went to punch him in the face but his other hand caught hers and held on, she tried but couldn’t break his grip.
“Is that the best you can do?” He said pulling her away from the counter, she had no option but to go or be dragged.
When he stopped she deliberately got too close and brought a knee up in a quick strike aiming to cripple him with pain, all he did was twist his hips out of her way and she missed and it was only his hold that prevented her from falling on her knees. Maddened she turned and twisted in his grip but all she managed was to hurt herself.
Thinking furiously she feigned defeat, relaxing and lowering her head, waiting for him to take the bait and release her or at least loosen his hands. He did release her hand and she instantly brought it up in a swinging punch which he deflected, she did it again and he deflected it again with insulting ease.
“Let me go” she spat the words out in a fury, she tried to pull away and dragged herself almost to the floor but he held her up, despite her best effort.
“No” just that nothing else.
Using his hold to aid her she braced both legs and practically climbed him, kicking out and pushing back, she caught him in the face and he let her go, she flipped once and landed on her feet in a crouch; she swept out a foot wanting to knock his out from under him but he braced his legs wide apart and simply absorbed the kick without so much as flinching.
“Darla used to like to fight, she’d get real worked up about it, gotta admit I never saw the fun in it until now”, he laughed at her.
Truly infuriated she jumped back to her feet and back-flipped away from him to gain some time to think. She faced him with chest heaving and fists clenched. There was a strange pressure in her chest but she refused to acknowledge it, she hated this and wanted it to stop, now.
“My turn now” He growled unsmilingly
Her eyes widened and she barely had time to react before he was nearly on her. She pulled back and spun on one heel bringing the other up in arc, he ducked under it and kept on coming as she backed up further, skirting one of the red circular puff chairs.
She came at him with a flurry of punches that he either ducked, reared back from or deflected with his hands or arms. She was panting with exertion and out of time, his big body was herding her back against a wall. She ducked under him and dived for the clear space behind him, but he hooked an arm around her waist and literally launched her into the air, to land on her back on one of the couches.
She scissored her legs to help her get back up and swung them over the side but she was too late, he grabbed both of her ankles and pulled her off the couch and onto the tiled floor. She kicked and punched at him but this time he didn’t even bother trying to avoid them but simply dropped to his knees and then straddled her hips, trapping her legs with his longer ones pressing them together. His hands snagged hers again and pressed them to the floor high over her head.
She bucked and heaved, not caring what happened just wanting to get him off of her NOW but he was too big and heavy and he just waited until she tired herself out.
She glared up at him, humiliated and angry “Are you satisfied now, does it make you feel better, Asshole?”
“Now now, mind your language”, the only consolation was he wasn’t smiling and his face was human again. Some of the tension left her, but none of the anger or the humiliation which she knew was his whole intention.
“Get off me”, she snarled, starting to wriggle again.
“I will when you give me your word, no more cases”, he said with calm deliberation.
“Kiss my ass”, god that felt so good to say that.
“Are you so determined to die?” he was angry again and she didn’t give a crap.
“No I’m not, but I decide not you” she was yelling at him by the end.
“You don’t have a choice” he snapped back infuriated again
“Why because of this? Get real” she had lifted her arms a fraction in his restraining hold to make sure he understood she didn’t care what point he thought he’d made.
“I can stop you”
“Do your worst, Dumbass”. She said it fiercely still glaring up at him with fire in her eyes.
He hesitated for a moment and then got off her, a measure of sanity had returned and he wasn’t willing to go any further, no matter what he’d thought when he arrived he couldn’t hurt her even to stop her from being killed at some future point. He would have to find another way.
“I hope you have another source of income other than cases, because you’re gonna need it”, he said determination in his voice and with that he left again. The door banged shut again before she had even had time to sit up.
“Asshole” she yelled at the top of lungs, not caring if he could hear her, finally she let the tears gather in her eyes, but didn’t let them fall.
Angel stalked out of the gate and over to his car, he got in and without warning slammed his head on the steering wheel, his hands clenching around it until the knuckles turned white. His head shaking from side to side in a gesture of denial. He covered his face with shaking hands and rubbed away the tears that had started to fall.
“What are you trying to prove Angel, that I should be afraid of them or of you“? He couldn’t remember anything ever hurting so much as when she’d said that.