Julianne was barely inside the car before Spike gunned the engine and the car screeched off the curb. The girl glared at the platinum blonde with all the vemon of the past three days in her eyes. “You know, you might be immortal, but I still have a heartbeat.”
“Are you always this unsociable or am I special?”
“You’re special.” She grunted and crossed her arms.
What’s with the rivalry, she frowned at her behavior. Julianne had heard stories about this notorious childe, but she’d never met him. Sneaking a glance at him she tried to figure this one out. Her father was the only vampire she’d known who worked for the good side. This one wasn’t famous for any deeds, but he had his own similarities to her father.
He fell in love with a slayer. The same one. The dreaded B-word. It was a name that wasn’t mentioned very often in her mother’s presence. When a little girl had asked why her mother always ended up glaring when it was mentioned a father sat down and told him a story. A real story of two people who came together then went their own ways. He told her if he’d never met the slayer, he’d have never met her mother and that was enough to satisfy the little girl’s curiosity.
Everyone had their place in life. Now she wondered how this vampire, that dressed like a college kid and had hair like an overrated rock star, was an element of their life.
“I know I’m bloody striking luv, stop with the staring already.”
She blinked startled out of her thoughts and glared. “I was only trying to figure out how much bleach soaks into your brain to make you that daft.”
“Good comeback luv.”
“I aim to please.”
Spike couldn’t suppress the smile as he turned a corner towards the magic shop. “So you’re the poofster’s little dame.”
Julianne sighed. “Why didn’t I just swipe my father’s car and spared myself from you making casual conversation? Stake me now.”
“The stake works for you too?” Spike grinned.
“I don’t know. I haven’t died recently.”
“You have your mum’s tongue.”
“I wish you’d gotten your sire’s silence.”
“He still broods, eh?”
Julianne looked out the window. “Mom never liked it when he brooded.”
Spike snuck a look at her. “Your mum had him on a leash.”
“She still does.”
Spike contemplated the young girl sitting proudly beside him. “So wot happened anyway? It’s not like peaches to go around siring vampires. He still regrets siring me.”
“The reason he turned her is nothing like why he turned you.”
“I sure hope not, unless the cheerleader picked his pocket too.”
Julianne looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Bullshit.”
Spike burst out laughing. “No joke.”
“I stand corrected. My father is bad at picking who to sire.”
Spike snickered. “I second that. You still haven’t answered my question brat.”
Julianne sighed. What the hell was she supposed to tell him? She had been too far away? Her father hadn’t been able to stop the demon? Her mother hadn’t stayed in the car? Whatever the reason, they hadn’t been able to keep the demon from slicing her mother’s stomach open. “It was a demon.”
“Ugliest. Claws like knives. Not to mention he smelled gross.” Julianne could still smell the stench. She could still see her mother falling to her knees, her hand gripping her stomach, her eyes wide with shock. “She got in the way.”
“No. Not then. We made it to the hospital on time, but she’d lost too much blood.”
“She died in the hospital?”
“Yes. They told us she wasn’t going to make it, we thought it was going to be fine. After all, she was half demon.” Julianne’s eyes turned misty. “He was the one she’d asked for.
He was with her in the room; I was outside with the others.”
The feeling in her stomach wouldn’t go away. Pushing her mother’s hospital door open she stepped in and her blood drained from her face. “Oh god!”
She’d been in time.
In time to see her father morph into the demon and pull the limp woman up into his arms. Before she’d been able to cry out he’d leaned down and sank his fangs into her neck. The soft cry was all her body could manage as her father sucked the last of what life her mother had. Her tears mirrored his as she watched the veins in his neck pump with fresh blood. She didn’t protest until she saw him cut open his wrist and put it to her mother’s lips. “Oh please no!”
But she didn’t move.
Before she could take a step she met his eyes.
Desperations, helplessness, weakness, vulnerability, regret and hope chased each other across his features and she turned, unable to deny him.
Everything faded into a cascade of colors, her vision blurring. She did what she had to do. She pushed the hospital room door closed as the doctor tried to come inside. The nurses screamed outside, her family asking, imploring and she couldn’t form words. She turned the lock, letting her eyes fall shut and the tears spilled freely.
Then she held the window open as her father picked up the woman in his arms and carried her home.
“In a way, he saved her life.”
“Is that wot you think luv?” Spike looked at her cautiously.
Is it? She watched the blinking neon sign of the magic shop approach. “I’m half human. A part of me is repulsed. Another part of me is assured that as long as she’s still with me, it’s all going to be fine.”
Spike parked the car. “Wot do you think will happen?”
She turned to meet his clear blue eyes. “Do I look psychic?” Before she was even done speaking the words, pain like razor’s edge sliced through her body and the gasp was torn from her lips, her body arching like a cat.
“Julianne!?!” Spike grabbed the girl against him as her eyes stared blankly up at the stars, her mouth open in a muted cry before collapsing back against him with a whimper of pain. “Julia?” He held her helplessly as she took a ragged breath and opened her chocolate eyes, etched with confusion and something that made Spike take an un-needed breath. “Bloody hell.”
“Oh god he’s going to kill them,” she whispered, her fingers curled into his sweater.
“You got the bloody visions.” Spike couldn’t believe it. Angel was going to have a cow.
Julianne couldn’t shake the image out of her head. The fear and the blood. She could almost taste it. The pain had come as quickly as it had gone, but the dull ache in her head remained. She pushed herself out of his arms. “You know it’s just like them to not leave me a post-it about that.” The girl touched her throbbing forehead. “A vampire. He’s got two kids cornered in the alley two blocks down.”
Spike frowned. “Oh.”
She blinked at him. “What do you mean ‘oh’?”
“Hello! Did you not hear me? Two very cute kids about to become a vampire snack.”
Spike blinked in confusion. “So?”
She looked up and frowned. “So get out of the car so we can help them.”
The blonde snorted. “Don’t even. This little scene is your dig. Not mine. I don’t do the atonement bitch.”
She couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t going to help her. “You know I’m going to get out of this car, march two blocks down and kick some vampire arse, and if you don’t want to get off yours that’s fine. You can explain it to Dad.” Without another thought she kicked the door opened and stalked out of the little alley.
Angel was going to have a bigger cow if Julianne got hurt.
Damn these women, why did they always treat him like a puppy?
Spike only sat a second longer, his teeth grit in frustrated anger before he kicked his own door open; a stream of profanities following as he ran after her.
* * *
Angel was helping Willow set up the incense and the candles. With the bowl in the middle of the circle he sat back on his heels to watch the set up. “Tell me again Willow.”
The old witch smiled softly, her green eyes sparking with mirth and sympathy. “What’s the point, you won’t listen to me?”
The vampire sat up and dusted his hands. “Lie if you have to.”
She couldn’t help but laugh as she got up and walked over to him, her arms wrapping around him slightly. “Oh Angel, if she’s anything like you, the soul will bring her back to you.”
“She’s nothing like me.” He sighed and held the witch for a gentle squeeze before pulling away and running a hand over his face. “She’s stronger and has more good in her than anyone else I know.”
The witch smiled. “Then what are you so worried about?”
He looked up to meet her eyes and she almost melted at the darkness there. “Because I suck the goodness out of anything I touch.”
She glared. “Oh that’s a very good approach Angel.”
He turned away. “I’m too jaded for this Willow. I thought normality was something I could have in my life and the powers proved me long even before I’d taken one step into it.”
Willow sighed. “You make it sound like they have it out for you.”
“What do you think?”
Willow looked up with a raised eyebrow. “I think you’re finally understanding life Angel.”
He frowned. “Did I miss something?”
“Yeah. Because real life is not a cake or a pastry or the sweetness with only more sweetness as you go deeper. It’s about loss and losing and learning to gain a little out of the loss ya know. Like Christmas morning and finding out you didn’t get the Choo-Choo you asked for. Or like in your case, stalking prey for weeks and finding out its tainted. That’s life Angel. The stalking is life. Just because your prey is tainted doesn’t mean it’s not edible.”
Angel blinked at her. “I have no idea what you just said.”
The witch blinked. “Hmmm, must be time for my medicine. Well I can’t be coherent all the time.” She chuckled. “Just think positive.”
The vampire would have laughed had the front door not been slapped open unceremoniously. He blinked at the sight that greeted them. His daughter stood seething with anger, a brown paper bag in her hand and her shirt slashed half way off her shoulder and one vampire supported on her left arm. Angel had a feeling he wasn’t going to like what he was about to hear. “What was that you said about being positive?”
“Strive for it Angel.” Willow chuckled before facing her own vampire. “What did you do now Spike?”
The bleeding vampire looked up with wide blue eyes. “Oh I don’t bloody believe this. I didn’t do a bleeding thing. It was G-I-Jane here. Went all gung ho in the middle of our pick up mission.”
“How the hell was I supposed to know the two little kids were demons.”
“Wot, the long claws not clue enough for you brat?”
“Hey I’m still new at this.”
“Will someone tell this goodie two shoes that life isn’t just about putting your fist through someone’s bladder. Some of us still have tact.”
“Why don’t you tell the oversexed cadaver that some people accept responsibility and want to help. Some of us can think with something other than our sexual desires.”
“OVERSEXED? Listen here you frigid little priss, I am not oversexed. Just because you can’t get any doesn’t mean you have to condemn all of us fortunate people.”
Angel and Willow looked at each other silently before looking back at the two, seeming unaware of their state.
“Tackling me to the ground in the middle of a fight just to look down my shirt is not very suave Spike.”
“I gave you a choice! It was me or the vampire.”
“Benign variety of options Blondie, your stinking cadaver over his. Oh dear me, how ever could I chose?”
“You know, maybe you missed it brat, but I saved your little tush just now.”
“My tush wouldn’t have needed saving if it wasn’t for you.”
“I risked my hide to keep you safe you deprived little chit. The least you can do is be bloody grateful.”
“Why should I be grateful to an oversexed corpse with shit for brains, when he’s the one who get me into this the first place!?”
“If you get over your Ice Princess complex, you’d see that you LIKED getting rescued. Don’t make me laugh little girl. You bloody get off on acting the damsel in distress part.”
“Excuse me!?!?” Her brown eyes flashed with fury. “You have some nerve!”
“ALRIGHT!” The room fell silent as Angel glared at the two of them. “I think I’ve heard just about enough from the two of you.”
Julianne looked up at her father, her eyes hardening slightly before she slipped out from under Spike and the vampire promptly collapsed onto the floor with a surprised yelp. Looking down she only smirked. “Oops?” Then without another glance she walked out of the living room., but not without slapping the brown bag on the little table harshly.
Willow put her hand on her mouth to muffle the laugh as Spike struggled to his feet holding his slashed abdomen. “A barrel of laughs this one poofer. I can see why she’s such a sour puss.”
Angel took the bag of ingredients they brought with a sigh and handed them to Willow. “Start it up, I’ll bring her.”
Willow patted Spike gently on the shoulder. “The bandages are in the bottom drawer. I got a fresh stock. See if you can cajole her to let you dress her.”
“Oh come on Red. She wouldn’t respond to cajoling even if I knew how to bloody do it!”
“Try Spike.” Angel glared. “You could take the slayer’s mood swings, you ought to be able to hold my daughter for a while.”
The childe growled at the sire before marching out of the living room muttering curses in every possible language he knew.
Angel sighed wryly. “I’m getting too old for this.”
“Don’t insult me Angel.” The witch set out the ingredients, her fingers trembling slightly.
The vampire only turned and walked away and down into the cellar.
Cordelia looked up as her sire stepped into the light. Something inside her couldn’t be quelled. She didn’t know what a soul was for, but she didn’t like the sound of it. Something inside her didn’t like it at all. When the older vampire drew closer Cordelia pressed back, her chains dragging against the floor as she tried to draw away. The panic welled in her belly and the fledgling didn’t understand it. Didn’t want to understand it.
“It’s okay Cordelia. It’s going to be fine.” Her sire gently put out his hand. “Come here.”
She shook her head holding her shackles behind her back, this time not so sure she wanted to leave the musty cellar. “I don’t want the soul.”
“Cordelia, don’t fight me on this one.” Angel met her eyes evenly, but the only thing he saw there was fear.
The vampire jerked away from him, her eyes gold and the ridges in her forehead rippling with confusion. “Don’t want it.”
“Yes you do. You want it Cordy, because until you get your soul back you won’t know who you are.”
“I’m a demon.”
Angel sighed as he caught her wrist before she could pull away. The fledgling stiffened at his grip, but he drew her slowly into his arms, his hands gently sliding down her hair. “You are so much more. You’re my wife.”
“Your mate.” She mumbled into his shirt.
He closed his eyes trying to inhale her scent, but she didn’t smell the same. Not alive and vibrant and bright from within. “No Cordy. My wife. Someone I could love and depend on. My daughter’s mother. You’re so much more than a demon Cordy.”
The vampire lifted her head to look into his eyes. “But I’m all demon now Angel.”
His hand gently ran down her cheek. “Let me give you the soul. Then you won’t be.”
She flinched and his grip on her tightened, one hand pulling away to unshackle her. “I like this.”
He looked up startled. “You like being this empty.”
“I’m not empty!” She glared and jerked out of his arms. “I’ve never felt more alive. More powerful.”
“I’m not giving you the benefit of an option Cordelia,” Angel growled out losing the soft cool.
“Oh, like you did last time? Poor little Cordelia’s dying, lets drain her. What’s the matter Angelus, killing me once wasn’t enough?”
“I’m trying to make this better Cordy.”
“Pfft! Since when have you been an authority on that brood boy?” She snapped, her vampire face receding to the soft planes of her human mask for the first time in three days. “You wouldn’t save a soul if you knew tomorrow you’d get your humanity for sure!”
The truth hit him so hard the vampire let out a soft whisper of a curse.