heroes are running around in circles chasing an elusive and deadly foe. Can
they unravel the mystery he brings them before he can do much harm?
rose, but her voice was flat, belying the turmoil she was feeling inside. "You
need my help. Why don't I believe you?"
She lifted her
stake again, knowing the vampire before her could sense her hesitation. It was
happening again. The vamp had a silver tongue and, using it effectively as he
always did, with four words he had her attention. And he knew it.
drawled, his hands palm up, a wicked smile crawling across his face like a
spider after a fly. Well, she wasn't about to step into his sticky web.
she ordered him. "My arm's getting tired."
rush?" he asked, and, as if he wasn't the one at the end of a stake, leaned
back to rest his shoulders against the wall.
"How about I
stake you now? You're the one who needs help, remember, or is this another one
of your tricks?"
"No need to be
so...threatening, Buff. It's true. I need your help, and it pains me to have to
ask for it."
not look pained. In fact, to the slayer he looked like the cat that had gotten
the cream. She stepped back a pace. Buffy knew never to give Angelus a chance
to get close to her. He was fast, and she hoped that she was still faster.
"How did you
get here?" She didn't know if he had arrived through the portal she had
discovered earlier. Nor did she ask how he had managed that. There was no
reason to show her hand, and if Angelus hadn't arrived by way of the portal,
then she wasn't the slayer she thought she was. She would pretend she hadn't a
"How did you?"
he countered, the curl of his lip making her want to wipe it off with her fist.
"By car. And
you?" she snapped back.
Calm down, she
was thinking. Don't let him get to you. But it was impossible, she knew. Just
looking at him looking so like her Angel made her heart ache, and at the same
time made her blood run cold. Inside her love lurked the one standing before
her. Nix that, Buffy amended. Inside that gorgeous body were two beings. The
two were intertwined, the soul and the demon knitting together to produce
Angel, the most gracious and gentle soul she had ever encountered. And with the
heart of a warrior and a will of steel, he wasn't above pushing aside his
gentleness to get the job done.
A hand lifted
- what was that she could see peeking out from beneath his cuff? - and halted, pale against the wine-coloured
shirt Angelus was wearing.
lucky man?" he purred, his eyes on the hand not holding the stake.
Angelus had noticed her eternity ring, and resisting the urge to hide her hand
behind her back, she said, "None of your business. And speaking of, what do you
mean you need our help?"
silent for a moment. He was pondering the intriguing concept of the slayer
having a love life that didn't include Him.
"How long did
you mourn Him?" he asked, surprising himself, but unable to resist. He was
Buffy asked, "Who?"
Angelus was watching her every move, Buffy kept her face as straight as
possible. She hoped the violent pounding of her heart was a given due to the
"Can we get
back to this supposed problem you have? And for one delusional moment, I
thought I heard you say you need my help?"
In one fluid
movement Angelus righted himself. Buffy stepped back quickly.
"It's one and
the same to you, isn't it? Angel, Acathla, both a pain in the ass!" His hand
disappeared into a pocket. Buffy tensed, ready to stake him. Withdrawing his hand,
Angelus threw an object at her. "Catch!"
And Buffy did.
past her, saying, "Don't call me, I'll call you," and was out the ruined
window, past the ivy, and into the trees before she could see what he had
thrown to her.
muttered. The vampire had kept her talking, and the evening had crept in while
she had been distracted. She uncurled her fingers. In her hand sat a medallion.
She could make out symbols when she squinted hard.
repeated, and the words that Angelus had uttered earlier began to sink in.
shivered, the chill in her bones turning to ice.
vantage point in a thicket of trees, Angelus watched the slayer approach a
familiar figure, and both he and she climbed into the man's waiting vehicle and
sat awhile. Angelus smiled when he saw the man rest his hand on Buffy Summers'
shoulder. Rupert Giles was comforting the slayer. The vampire's smile widened.
Knowing he had been responsible for the slayer's anguish made Angelus feel all
warm inside. He waited until Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers had driven away
before making a move. Humming a little, he left the shelter of the trees and
headed towards civilization. Travelling always made him hungry, and there had been
no in-flight refreshments.
It didn't take
Angelus long to ferret out the address of a certain ex-watcher. The librarian
had been very helpful with pointing him in the direction of the computer, and
hence the internet. She had been very tasty too, he found, leaving her lying
dead between rows of books in the back. It had been in the Help Yourself
section, which he found terribly amusing.
A couple of
days later he was in Trowbridge, having taken a room in a pub, The Rising Sun,
just off the A363. Angelus chose it for the irony. He was careful not to kill -
that would come later. He didn't want the police, and therefore the slayer and
her watcher, to know that he was about. At least, not yet.
left the car he had stolen hidden off the road outside of Westbury. It was a
fine evening for a walk. He kept to the shadows, away from the street lamps,
watching everyone going about their business. Not that there was much in such a
sleepy hollow. Westbury was exactly the sort of place he would have placed
Rupert Giles. The man suited the town, it appeared. Sleepy, a little worn and
very English. Old school, old boy!
was surprised, when, across the road, a lady of indeterminate age waved at him
before disappearing round a corner. He reflected on that, hesitating a step
while trying to decide if he should pursue her, before continuing on his
belonging to Rupert Giles stood a mile or two outside the village. Leaving the
road, Angelus crossed a field to approach it unseen. The vampire circled the
watcher's home to get a feel for it. He discovered a walkway running between
the main house and what was presumably the garage, which had a dwelling above.
Perhaps the housekeeper's, he thought. And, as if he had conjured her up, when
he continued past the garage around the side of the house, there she was,
hunched over a plant in the herb garden. The woman was picking off a few
leaves. He could smell the aromatic odour of mint from where he stood. Clutching
a handful of leaves the woman turned and went back inside, closing the door
behind her. Angelus smiled. He could have taken the woman, drained her and left
her, a gift the watcher couldn't ignore. But, he had to restrain himself. After
all, they were unlikely to be of any assistance if he killed the help, now
would they? He stirred himself and wandered back to the window that allowed a
view of what appeared to be the man's study.
illuminated the room within. The vampire could see the man himself perched in
his chair, studying the medallion Angelus had given Buffy and trying to
decipher the glyphs stamped there. A blonde head bobbed into view. It was the
slayer; a heavy book was clutched to her breast. His gaze focussed there, and
then she was gone, sat in a chair that he could see when he moved to his left.
He stared at the blonde, wondering how she came to be living with Rupert Giles
and not living back in good old Sunnydale. He wondered at her living, full
purr of a car, he melted back into the garden to see who had come calling. A
man got out of the vehicle and, going round to open the passenger door, waited
a minute or two until the housekeeper he had seen earlier exited the house. She
hurried over to the waiting man and car.
them greet each other. It was the husband come to collect his wife. He found
that interesting. The slayer and the watcher lived alone? The house was big
enough for a large family. The vampire's thoughts drifted to another reason the
slayer lived here. Perhaps Rupert Giles was the one the ring represented. His
quiet chuckle was lost beneath the noise of the car's departure. He hadn't
known that Giles had it in him. A loud hiss, followed by a growl, alerted him
to the presence of a feline. The vampire turned. A large ginger cat, fur
bristling and back arched, was challenging him. A low rumble in his chest had
the cat fleeing his vicinity. He watched it as it charged away, disappearing
round the side of the house. Leaving behind the house and its occupants,
Angelus strolled back towards Westbury, planning a surprise or two for the
watcher and his slayer.
hungry. He was beginning to wonder if he should do away with his earlier
decision not to kill, break his fast, and go find something to eat. The day had
been a bright and sunny one and he had been forced to stay in his room. He
found the television perched on a small table to be entertaining. The reality
he had stepped into was very similar to the one he called home. At least, it
had been similar until he called forth the demon Acathla. It was a move he
deeply regretted now. For a brief moment he wondered how Drusilla was faring
without him, and then dismissed the thought. She may be crazy but she knew how
to take care of herself. Besides, it had been one of her visions that had sent
him on this path, and her visions were not to be ignored, he had found.
Otherwise he would be tempted to stay to hunt and feed in this world. Free to
do as he wanted. Free, if not for the slayer. He could elude her indefinitely,
he knew, but what was the fun in that?
Pulling up his
sleeve, he frowned at the mark staining his wrist. There was only one way to be
rid of it. And he was determined. He pulled his sleeve down, the wide cuffs and
the new jacket would hide the disgusting reminder that he had a master.
again hid his vehicle - the second one he had taken, having abandoned the other
one back towards Trowbridge - and was enjoying the evening, walking towards the
home of Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers. He refused to give into the bloodlust
that was roiling at his senses. There would be plenty of time to satiate his
needs once he was away from this place.
a long low building - a hideous shade of pink, he thought - he happened to
recognise a couple making their way from the carpark towards the pub's
entrance. The sign announced it was The Boar's Head. Angelus decided he would
the follow the two humans inside. He had promised himself a bit of fun and
these two were giving him the opportunity.
Perhaps if he
greeted them...Before he had a chance to open his mouth, the couple turned and
caught sight of him.
surprise written on her face, asked, "Are you following us? There's no need to,
perplexed. He stood still. Had Giles informed them of his presence? And why
were they not afraid? There wasn't a hint of fear, only puzzlement coming from
the pair. Three could play that game, he thought.
"I saw you
arrive and wanted to say hello."
had his hand on his wife's arm. He nodded to the vampire, smiled, and said,
"Lovely evening, isn't it? Best to make the most of it now that winter is on
the confusion from his face. It didn't appear as if they knew who he was. It
looked like Giles hadn't told them. He thought that that was rather lax of the
man. Were village folk in this reality friendlier to outsiders, then?
He nodded, and
before he could reply, the housekeeper said, "John's given me the night off. He
says I deserve a meal out, with Mr Giles not requiring my services tonight."
John, I think your wife is a treasure." Angelus smiled. Maybe he should join
the two and find out more about Giles and Buffy Summers.
Two men approached
the pub just then, and the couple moved aside to let them pass. They glanced
after the men, one having nodded at them, and then, turning their eyes back to
the vampire, found he was nowhere to be seen.
chuckled, and allowed John to guide her inside. They were used to Angel's
comings and goings. Mind you, Martha found it odd that he hadn't said goodbye.
Her laughter died away. Angel had given her such a scare a few days before,
when he had surprised her coming out of the shadows the way he did, and she
knew she had reacted stupidly. She shivered at the memory. She hoped that he
hadn't taken it to heart. He would never hurt them, she knew, and she hoped he
understood that she and John knew that.
heard a whisper. The whisper said his name. In his peripheral vision he noticed
a movement, a blur. It moved too fast to be human. He needed to investigate.
Moving just as quickly, he hurried after it, tracking it down to a quiet and
dark street corner, only to find himself face to face with...himself!
Angelus was dumbstruck. He stared at the other version of himself. He had
thought that with Buffy alive she had had to kill his counterpart in this
world. There would have been no other way for her to have survived. And when he
had mentioned Acathla and Angel to her, the slayer had known what he had been
talking about. However, she hadn't confirmed it either. He shook away the
puzzle. Now wasn't the time.
mouth to curl into a smirk, Angelus began to circle the figure.
"Well. What do
we have here?"
at his double, twin, whatever, and, keeping his distance, kept pace with the
other's movements. Except for that weird drug-induced mind jaunt he had
experienced back in L.A.
where he had fought his inner demon, it had been several years since Angel had
last seen a reflection of himself. It had been in Pylea where the usual vampire
rules hadn't applied. He was just as fascinated now as he had been then. Did he
look exactly the same? Was his hair the same length? Were his eyes as dark and
his brows as straight? He resisted the urge to check his hair.
put off by the other's silence. "Is it Angelus or Angel standing before me?"
His eyes raked the figure of the vampire before him. "Mmm...judging by the poor
taste in clothes I'll venture it's Soul Boy I'm addressing."
to glance down at his body, Angel knew to the button what he was wearing. What
was wrong with the way he dressed? Except for the black leather trousers that
Angelus wore, the midnight blue shirt could have come from his wardrobe, and
the knee-length jacket was pretty close to his own. He wouldn't have worn the
belt though. It was too big and garish for his taste. Besides, it drew the eye.
"I knew it."
Angelus' smile was wide and white in the gloom. "How did you find me?"
"Please! I am
you." Cordelia would have been proud of him, Angel thought for one second.
evening Giles' cat Aristotle had fluffed his fur and bared his fangs at Angel,
before calming down and hopping onto his lap. The vampire had an inkling the
cat had encountered his alter ego and had recognised the difference. Angel had
followed John and Martha to be sure that they were safe on their evening out.
He had overheard John suggest that they eat out when he had arrived to escort
his wife home earlier that evening.
"I am nothing
like you!" Angelus drawled. "You failed in this dimension. I thought you were
dusted with the slayer alive and all."
to let Angelus' words chill him. "And you did so well. I hear you have a
problem with Acathla. How's that turning out for you? Let me guess, you need
shrugged. "What can I say? I was hasty." Angelus stopped moving and faced him
square on. "How did you get the soul back? We killed all her friends, Dru and
I. No help there. Did the Kalderash come to the rescue? Did you not kill Jenny
to show any pain at the mention of Jenny, and he pushed away the horror of
learning that Angelus had mercilessly ended the lives of all of Buffy's
even, he said, "Why do you need Buffy's help? And why should we help you?
Perhaps a stake is what you need." He
produced one from inside a pocket.
up his big hands in surrender. "Hold up a minute. Acathla plans to come through
to your world..."
"I thought it
was the other way round. The demon swallows the world."
Either way you're in his reality."
buying it. "How's that going to work?"
shrugged again. "What? Do I have to do everything myself? I don't know, but you
and your slayer and that pet watcher of yours can find out."
"Why do you
Buffy in my reality. We fought to the death. Swords, I recall." The look he
gave Angel was one of pure delight. Angel's anguish deepened. Jaw clenched over
gritted teeth, Angel resisted the urge to stake the demon.
continued, driving the knife home. "She wasn't strong enough. I really think
she lost the will to live."
turned to stone, solidifying over the wound Angelus had inflicted. His voice
could have turned the world to ice.
"There must be
another slayer you can use."
generation...yeah, I get it. Acathla has the world cowed. Demons rule the
dimension. It is Hell, after all. New slayers don't last very long."
his head. "Nice try, Soul Boy."
different tack, Angel asked, "Why do you want to stop Acathla? Wasn't that what
you wanted? The world of humans brought to its knees? Eternal torment for
sighed. "Never get what you wish for, isn't that the old adage?"
dawned. Angel's smirk matched Angelus' own.
rule, do you? You're just Acathla's flunkey."
drew together. The vampire glowered at Angel. The smirk had vanished.
"I want Buffy
to stop Acathla coming across."
repeating myself. Why would you want to save our world?"
"I don't, but
isn't that what you do?"
It didn't make
sense to Angel. Angelus was hiding something and Angel wasn't surprised.
"Why can't she
stop Acathla from this side? Why does she have to go to your world?"
shrugged again. Angel wondered if he shrugged as often, and was it that
shifted to a point past Angel's shoulder. "Another time, perhaps."
the ruse. He did not take his eyes off the other vampire. When Angelus feinted
to his left, Angel was ready for him. They traded blows, the stake tumbling
from Angel's fist. He hadn't really been trying, he told himself as he and
Angelus tried to pound each other into submission. They might need Angelus
alive, at least until they found out what was really going on. Angel felt like
he was fighting his reflection. His moves were countered before much damage
could be inflicted. He got in a lucky punch and Angelus hit the wall hard.
Several flakes of brick fell away. Angel moved in but Angelus twisted away and
dealt him a blow that stunned. Head ringing, Angel leaned to his left, and with
a sweep of his leg Angelus went flying.
and was back on his feet quickly. Dancing back out of reach, grinning, he said,
"It's been nice chatting to you, Angel. Tell Rupert Giles and that slayer of
his I'll be seeing them."
In a blink of
an eye he had launched himself to the roof of the nearest building. Leaning
down, Angelus called, "Nice ring by the way," and he was gone.
briefest moment Angel considered whether he shouldn't give chase. He would
catch Angelus and then what? Chain him to the bed? Build a cage and imprison
him? And then have Martha serve him blood? The chains were tempting...No; the
only way to keep the world safe was to dust him. But would it keep the world safe?
He had to
ensure that Martha and John returned home safely. Pulling out his phone, he
called Buffy to warn her Angelus was in the village and that John and Martha
were at the Boar's Head for dinner. The slayer was on her way before he had
time to finish the call. That done and knowing that Buffy would have warned
Giles, Angel leapt to the rooftop and started after his alternate self.
There was a
knock at the door. Giles frowned. He hadn't heard a car, and surely Angelus
wouldn't be so bold as to knock on his door. Buffy had run out like a
whirlwind, warning him that Angelus was about, and to be careful. Stopping to gather
up his crossbow and a couple of stakes that went into his pockets, Giles
approached the door.
"Who is it?"
There was no
reply. Giles called again. He heard a commotion outside, a crashing sound. He
considered his options. If it was Angelus standing there, the demon would have
no trouble smashing the door, or breaking a window, even if he couldn't come
in. Summerdown House wasn't really much of a stronghold, and Giles would rather
not have a costly repair on his hands. Better to gird one's loins, then, and
see if this other version of Angel needed an invitation to enter. He was almost
sure it did.
forward, unlocked the door and stood back as it yawned open. If there was an
innocent bystander on his doorstep then he could explain away the weapon in his
hands. There was nobody standing there. And then there was. It was the vampire,
but which vampire?
vampire said looking at him with his dark eyes. "Sorry about that. I thought
Angelus had come this way." The dark eyes focussed on the crossbow in the
watcher's hands. "Good. I see you're not taking any chances."
the vampire. It looked like Angel of course. It even dressed like him, and why
wouldn't he? What had Angel been wearing tonight when he left the house? For
the life of him he couldn't remember.
prepared," he smiled, but did not lower the bow. "Did something break?"
over a plant." The vampire shrugged in apology. "I hope it wasn't one of your
up from the door a few more steps, his bow never wavering from its target. "I
thought you could see in the dark?"
wasn't looking where I put my feet."
the vampire for any hint that he may be Angelus. He couldn't see any. Either
this was Angel, or Angelus was the consummate actor.
backed away some more, hoping he had put enough distance between the vampire
and himself. "I have work to do. Must get back."
vampire didn't move, Giles lowered his bow a little.
wrong, Angel?" he asked. The vampire stood outside the doorway looking in.
vampire looked about.
looking for Buffy, she's not in. But then, Angel would already know that,
showed his teeth, and Giles felt the pit of his stomach clench in fear. Old
feelings came rushing back at the sight of that grin, and Giles brought the
"I can catch
the bolt and throw it back before you have time to reload," Angelus taunted
"What do you
want?" Giles demanded, feeling trapped.
"Is this any
way to greet an old friend, Rupert?" the vampire drawled.
crawled. "If you're not here to impart any measure of information then you're
wasting my time. Good night to you."
not take the hint. "Have you had any luck with the medallion?"
"What is so
important about it?"
"If I knew
that then I wouldn't need you, would I, Ripper?"
will give up trying." Giles was just about at that point.
been bothering Giles and he decided to ask the monster at the door about it.
"Do you have a
way to open the portal? I mean, if that is your intention..."
"I have that
in hand..."Angelus cocked his head, his eyes never leaving the Englishman.
"Company's arrived. Time to go."
and the vampire was gone. Knees suddenly wobbly, he leaned against the wall.
When he glanced up again, the vampire was back.
asked, "Are you alright, Giles?"
Before he had
a chance to open his mouth, he was gone. Angel, he presumed, in pursuit of
Angelus. Giles shook his head to clear it. Bracing himself, he straightened up
and went and closed the door. The brief meeting with Angelus had rattled him.
All the old feelings he had harboured against Angel rose to the surface and yet
he knew he was being unfair. This was not Angel or the Angelus he knew...and
yet...it was. In his gut he knew it was. He had made his peace with the vampire.
He called Angel friend. He couldn't, wouldn't forget that. But, looking into
those dark eyes that had looked so soft and sincere at the door a moment ago,
turning cruel and hard in an instant: old scars began to ache.
Giles had to
warn Martha and John that there was a vampire out there who wore the face of
Angel - someone they trusted with their lives - who was a killer and to beware
they did not mistake one for the other. Oh, this was a tangled web, indeed.
He'd thought with Angelus new to this world, the vampire was unlikely to look
him up, and thus be a threat to any he knew. Sadly, he had underestimated the
demon. Not the first time he had, and it would be his last, he swore.
watching Angel pace. The room wasn't all that large so it was only a step or
two before he turned on his heel and paced back again. They were in London
investigating yet another unexplained and gruesome murder. Buffy had thought
that with all the miles of Underground and stations thereof, they would have
been able to be on the spot any time of day, but no, that hadn't been the case.
Where they needed to be was open ground. Not exactly the place for a vampire
during daylight hours. To the police, the culprit and his motives were unknown.
Buffy, Angel, and Giles knew full well who had committed those murders.
It had been
weeks, a couple of months, since Buffy had first encountered Angelus in the
deserted house in the Mendips. Their lives hadn't been the same since. All were
affected by the arrival of Angelus.
Buffy knew that Giles had to remind himself that this wasn't the demon
that had killed Jenny and tortured him. Buffy's mind screamed that this copy of
Angelus was just that, a copy, and hadn't been responsible for all the mayhem
and heartache she had suffered all those years ago. This wasn't the same demon
she had fought and ended up running a sword through, saving the world and
destroying hers. It didn't help the visceral feeling she felt when she had
faced him though, and, feeling like a traitor, she had to admit a little of that
remained when she had next set eyes upon her love. She had tried to compensate,
but Angel had known and had retreated into an unsettling silence.
describe the turmoil he was feeling with the advent of his alternate, alter
ego. Buffy had tried to get him to open up, but it had been difficult for him,
and he could see that she was upset by her confrontation and had not so
reluctantly let it go. He wondered if Buffy had considered the ramifications of
Acathla existing in the dimension in which Angelus resided. Did he have the
heart to tell her? The similarities in both realities were uncanny. It made his
head ache to think about alternate realities, or dimensions, whatever. His
heart, already a dried up husk of a walnut, shrivelled more with guilt. Not
only was he responsible for thousands of deaths in this world, he was an evil
murdering bastard in another. How many more deaths were on his conscience? Were
his sins so terrible -and he knew they were - that other realities were
tainted, twisted, and in torment because of them?
trying to rein in his impatience. The day, reeling towards evening, thumbed its
nose at him with the sun's slow progress towards the horizon. The days were
drawing in but not fast enough for a vampire on a mission. He needed to be out
there searching for the demon who wore his face. Angelus may need their help,
if that was even true, but while he was on the loose he was killing, feeding
off the population. Angel had had the opportunity to stop him once, had been
unable to, and now the demon was killing people. Angel couldn't allow it to go
on any longer, and part of him wondered why Angelus' victims were fewer than
they could have been. There had been, in fact, a lull of a few weeks in the
felt the sun release its hold on the land and, pivoting mid-step, he marched to
the door. Buffy's hand was on the door knob before his. Concerned, her eyes
searched his face.
him, Angel. Slow down."
Angel saw the
tension and the worry in his girl's eyes. She had just as much reason to see
Angelus captured, and, if not, dusted. Buffy was thinking about his state of
mind, and here he was, focussed on the other vampire and not on her.
He attempted a
smile. "Sorry...it's just..."
"I know." She
reached up, dragged his head down and kissed him on the lips. "Let's go kick
some Angelus butt!"
her pockets for the feel of wood nestled there and picked up her bag waiting by
the door. It was one of those long slim nylon bags used for carrying hockey
sticks. It doubled as a sword and weapons bag. The legend Slazenger was
emblazoned on the bag's side. A girl carrying a sports bag was ordinary,
nothing to take notice of. The slayer envied Angel his height and the long coat
he wore. In some mysterious fashion the coat harboured the vampire's sword
without a hint of its presence, the sword appearing like magic in Angel's hand
when needed. Angel opened the door for her
and, as she stepped out, she felt him snag the bag from her hand. She smiled
back at him. Okay, maybe she didn't have a cool coat and a disappearing sword
but she had an Angel who would carry her weapons for her. That was even better.
It was hard to
believe that they were in the middle of London.
Primrose Hill to be exact. The
Underground station that had served the area had been closed for many a year
and they had had to ride to Chalk Farm and disembark there. Not for the first
time did Buffy wonder at the strange names the English had. Primrose Hill
displayed the most wonderful architecture, houses worth millions, Buffy
wagered, and here and there were cafes and pubs ready to serve delicious food,
judging by the aroma she inhaled as they walked on by. Angel offered to stop so
that Buffy could sample some of the fine cuisine, but Buffy insisted on
could see quite well, walking beside Angel. The grounds were well lit, with
lights dotted here and there, the park designed for night-time visitors as well
as the day crowd. Once, when she stopped to look back, the city was ablaze with
light and colour. She could make out the London Eye along with other buildings
she wasn't quite sure of. She was about to ask Angel, he always knew about
these things, when he said, "Here."
off the dirt trail they had wandered onto and into a small copse of trees,
Angel discovered the tell-tale police tape warning people that this was a crime
and looked at him. "This is beginning to be a habit."
tape for Buffy to duck under, he nodded his reply, his eyes already hard at
work scanning the area. Buffy squatted near where the body had laid, Angel on
the other side.
"They say the
body was drained of blood," she said, thinking to herself, of course it was.
Turning on the
flashlight she had carried up with her, she illuminated the ground and the
"No pools of
blood, no evidence of a murder at all, except for the police tape."
agreeing with her. There was no visible
sign of foul play, not now that the body had been removed.
blood. I can smell it." There was that faint odour of death, too, but he didn't
tell her that.
says the man was slashed with a knife. The wound hit his jugular and he bled to
death." Buffy looked across at him. "Aren't the police getting tired of victims
dying of blood loss and there is no blood soaking the ground?"
"You know how
it is, Buffy." The vampire rose to his full height, waiting as Buffy followed
weird and not so wonderful are attributed to something mundane and ordinary. If
you call murder ordinary. How many times was PCP mentioned in Sunnydale?"
her a bemused look. "PCP?"
thought that vampires' super strength was the result of students taking drugs."
remembered a doctor asking him once if he and Buffy had been taking drugs. His
mind sheered away from the memory, but too late, his memory sense flooded with
the taste of Buffy's blood. He grunted, and moved away from her to examine the
"Is this just
another kill for Angelus," Buffy asked behind him, "or does he have some other
hard about her question. It wasn't an idle one. Buffy knew that Angel had an
insight to what made Angelus tick, after all, he had been...was, the demon
"What do we
know about the case so far?" he asked, turning away from his survey and back to
her arms, the wool of her jacket riding up a little above her thighs.
"The body was
drained, that's one."
"The young man had a tattoo on his wrist."
she said. "The victim's belongings were strewn around the body."
looking for something."
pricked at her. "I think Angelus has a tattoo."
"Of course he
"No, I mean he
had a mark on his wrist. His cuff covered most of it. I couldn't see what it
was. It could have been a trick of the light..." Buffy's eyes were huge in the
light of her torch. "Why didn't I think of that before?"
Ian's brief notes on the victim say? There was a tattoo on his arm. Did he say
what the tattoo looked like?"
Buffy looked at each other in dawning comprehension. Buffy rescued her phone
from her jacket pocket. "I think Giles had better ask Ian what it was exactly."
She put the
pink phone to her ear. Angel said, "Ask him if any of the other victims had
receiver on its cradle, Giles picked up the medallion Angelus had given Buffy.
He was having trouble deciphering the symbols. Alice
was having difficulty too, and he had half-hoped that she would have had better
luck. The symbols were all jumbled, stamped twice or three times over making it
hard to discern one from the other. Putting it back on his desk, he picked up
the phone again and dialled Inspector Collins' number.
his throat. "Hello, Ian. I'm afraid I have another favour to ask of you."
thank you for asking. Now, what can I do for you?"
flummoxed for a moment. His mind on the job didn't allow him to think about the
niceties of conversation, and here he was asking a favour of the man.
Ian. That was rude of me."
the policeman chuckle. "Don't be. Now, what is this favour?"
"We need to
find out if any of the other victims had a mark, a tattoo anywhere on their
body. And if they did, what was the design. I know that this is out of your
jurisdiction, but can you...?"
"I'll see what
I can do for you. The more detailed reports will have to come from London.
The ones I sent you were rather spare with information, I agree. They were only
a note, really, to me which I passed on to you. My contact can dig up more
information if I ask."
You have been a big help, as always."
"I take it
that this is significant to the case? How are Angel and Buffy doing?"
disclosed all the facts of the case to Ian Collins. Ian had been told there was
a vampire on the loose. A particularly vicious one and the Paranormal team were
attempting to track it down. The name Angelus hadn't been raised, and Giles had
no intention of doing so. He hoped it was a wise decision. He was worried about
his friends' safety and he had told Ian, Lisa, and Nick to stay away from
Summerdown and their occupants for the time being. Angelus had a reputation for
going after the people closest to Angel, and he had first hand knowledge that
this Angelus would be no different.
getting close," was what he said.
Giles put down
the telephone after terminating the call and massaged his pounding temples. The
glasses came off next, fingers rubbed at dry and tired eyes before picking up
the spectacles and giving them a polish with his ever-present handkerchief. He
glanced over at the fax machine knowing he was being pre-emptive. Ian Collins
had barely had time to hang up.
telephoned when a second body had turned up, drained, with wounds to the
throat. This was the third in a week. Two the previous week. Heaven knew how
many victims had been found before this and no connection made. Angelus was
inventive to say the least, with his kills.
his breath, the words bloody idiot and stupid pillock found their way to
sensitive feline ears. Those ears twitched, causing their owners' eyes to slide
open to stare at him. They closed again, safe in the knowledge that their
present owner was being his usual irascible self.
Tattoos. Of course! Giles' thoughts were whirling inside
his head. Angel, and therefore Angelus, had a tattoo, and now it was likely
that Angelus had gained a new mark.
Picking up the
policeman's report that was scant in detail, he read the words tattoo, lower
arm, right wrist, and New Age; Goth. Not as devoid of details as the previous
It may be
nothing, he surmised, but with Angelus involved, there was no such thing as
coincidence. If other victims had a similar mark then it was something else
altogether. Aristotle's and Zillah's ears twitched again when words
incomprehensible to their feline brains filled the air. They ignored him and
went back to sleep.
pace with Angel as he strode across the kept grass of the park. She was quiet.
Angel was tracking Angelus and she didn't want to distract him. He, however,
was the one who spoke.
landed here once."
snapped up to look at him. "What? What are you talking about?"
was one of their landing sites."
boyfriend gone mad?
"Uh...if you say
so." She wondered if Angelus had laid a spell on him.
War of the Worlds," he said to clarify his statement.
Oh. War of the
Worlds. She had seen that movie. "I thought Tom Cruise's character lived in New
to look at her. She stopped too. "Tom
Cruise? I'm talking about the book."
"Of course you
are," she said with a grin, patting his arm. "Was the movie anything like the
"I don't know.
I haven't seen it."
did some disgusting things to people."
"It's how they
Buffy made a
face. "Is that why you remember the book?" She regretted that the minute she
saw his face. She hastily added, "In the movie they netted the people up and
after munching on them, they sprayed the land with blood." Good one, Buffy. Not helping!
pierced hers, and she saw that he had dismissed her earlier comment and was
focussing on their present problem. "It's always about blood."
She nodded in
understanding. Giving him an encouraging smile, she said, "Come on, we've got
work to do."
didn't continue far. Buffy and Angel stood on the footpath. They had tracked Angelus
to the road and the trail had run cold.
"He must have
caught a taxi, and paid," she offered.
Angel lifted a
"You don't see
any dead cab drivers about, do you?"
"He, or she,
may not have been found yet," Angel countered.
has a lot of sewers and underground to hide a body," she agreed. "Come on. We
can patrol. See what we can scare out of the demon population. Somebody must
know something. We just haven't asked the right demons yet."
"I should have
used more force last night," Angel said wistfully, thinking of the demons they
know anything, Angel. You broke a few bones, and I think you ruptured that
he had been a little heavy-handed and so had Buffy. "The St'tch demon you beat
up will have bruises for months."
"See me not
caring," she shot back before grabbing at his hand and pulling him back along
"Come on. We
passed some pretty good restaurants back there. Food now, and then we can go
kick some demon ass!"
at his love. Only she could help make him feel better about this situation.
"Sounds like a
off the last of her beef Bresaola, the green of rocket leaves and buttery
parmesan left glistening on her plate. She hadn't finished chewing, when those,
too, were between her teeth being mangled with the last of the meat. The last
crumb of her bread roll followed.
her escort asked with an elegant lift of his brow.
delicious. It's a shame you can't enjoy the flavour, Angel. Uh...to die for." Her
eyes twinkled with mischief. "Well, not die...but you get my meaning." She dabbed
her lips with the napkin provided.
He nodded that
he understood. "Would you like dessert?" he asked her with a smile.
her stomach. Buffy had opted for a light meal, an appetiser, really because she
had seen what was on offer for dessert. "The chocolate tart has my name on it,
Angel. Do you think I'll be able to slay with that under my belt?"
chocolate was energy food?"
twinkling, she quickly agreed. When Angel ordered her dessert, he asked for two
cups of coffee as well.
last drop of coffee, Buffy reluctantly got to her feet. The tart had lived up
to its name and she hadn't left a scrap on her plate. She had even tempted
Angel into having a bite. She could see that he couldn't appreciate the
chocolate like she could, and she felt saddened at the thought. Chocolate was
one of God's gifts, in her mind. Angel
finished off his coffee, and they left The Lansdowne in search of demons to
interrogate. The pub was situated in Gloucester
Avenue just off Regent's Park
Road, and as usual, the street was busy with people
going about their business. Most were looking for a meal out, some were meeting
a friend for a quiet drink, and the area offered a multitude of establishments
for that very purpose. Amongst the throng, Angel placed his arm about Buffy's
shoulders and she leaned in, a normal girl out with her regular boyfriend. She
smiled up at him and she was pleased to see him smile back. His eyes had been
shadowed since Angelus had thrown his spanner in the works. She hoped that that
particular demon would soon be behind them.
Angel led her
past magnificent Victorian apartments, shops, a church, and down Fitzroy
Road. They had just passed a street, Chalcot
Road, when Angel paused and pointed out an address
on Fitzroy Road. A wrought iron fence paraded along the road
and up the short flight of steps that led one to the door. The door was dark,
set between white stone, two floors above were of a different tone. A plaque
announced that William Butler Yeats had once lived there.
"Put off that mask of burning gold with
O no, my dear, you make so bold to find
if hearts be wild and wise, And yet not cold.
I would but find what's there to find,
Love or deceit. It was the mask engaged your mind, And after set your heart to
beat, Not what's behind.
But lest you are my enemy, I must
enquire. O no, my dear, let all that be. What matter, so there is but fire
In you, in me?"
A shiver went
through Buffy. The long dead poet had captured the essence of their
circumstance, and that creeped her out.
hand, Buffy said, "What was that?"
William Butler Yeats won the Nobel Prize for his written works. He also had a
fascination with the occult."
Irishman, I believe," she said, tugging on his arm, wanting to be away. She
added, "He was buried in France,
himself to be led, he remarked, "You're not just a pretty face."
and turned her face so he could see her eyes. "You're not either. And..." she
held up a hand when his lips parted to speak, "I love all of you."
"All, Angel. I know you think your human
face is just a façade that you show the world, and maybe you're right, but it's
not the whole truth. I think beauty comes from within, and game face or not,
your soul is beautiful. I can see it shining through your eyes, no matter the
at her. "I love you," he whispered when he could speak.
she kissed him full on the lips, felt his arms go round her, and she relaxed
into his embrace. Angelus was going to pay for the anguish he was causing, she
huddled over his desk. His back was starting to protest keenly at the long
hours of strain. He had been hours reading up on Acathla. Unfortunately, he no
longer had access to the Council's vast library but he did have a few volumes
that offered up scraps of information. None of it helped him with his attempt
at deciphering the medallion though. If the medallion had anything to do with
Acathla, he couldn't see it. Giles rose from his chair, threw his glasses on to
the pile of books in front of him, and stretched out the kinks in his back.
What did he
know so far? Acathla had turned to stone, a sword driven into the demon's heart
before the monster could suck the world into Hell with his breath. The sword
had belonged to a virtuous knight. Giles' forehead wrinkled as he tried to
recall the events surrounding Angelus and Acathla in Sunnydale. Didn't Kendra have a sword? Turning
about, Giles began to pace. Angel's blood closed the pathway, didn't Buffy say?
He wondered how anything that had transpired could help release a universe that
was trapped in Hell.
in his tracks. An idea began to germinate. There was something he could do. The
jangle of the phone startled him out of his reverie. He snatched it up hoping
it was Collins.
It was Kevin
Langford. The young man was helping the business set up a website. Kevin had finished his degree in Computer
Science and was the perfect choice for the job, and Giles insisted on paying
the boy for his trouble. It was time
they expanded their horizons and thrust their business into the twenty-first
century. At least Buffy had thought so, with Angel agreeing with her. Although
they were kept busy enough with clients finding them through conventional
advertising, one couldn't dismiss the fact that people were using the internet
more and more to search for help. And from what Giles had seen in all his years
working for the Council and beyond, demonic activity would never cease. Giles
pondered the whys and wherefores of there being only one slayer, well, two,
when the world held such a wealth of evil.
the young man's queries the best he could, his mind not really focussed there,
and said goodnight. He decided to open his safe and check on the contents
there. The idea he had earlier was now sprouting growth.
The phone rang
again. It was Ian.
Angel exited the young man's one bedroom flat with nothing to show for their
illicit search. The police had been and gone. The young man had lived alone.
His bookshelves had held the usual array of mystery, fantasy, and thriller novels,
and there had been a couple of volumes of legend and folklore alluding to
demons and the like. Those, Angel had been interested in. They were a
disappointment when he skimmed through them. There was nothing to link the boy
to Acathla or any Hell dimension. Angel
had a hunch that the dead man had kept whatever it was Angelus was looking for
somewhere else. He placed the books in Buffy's bag, ignoring her raised
eyebrows at his obvious display of theft.
They were half
a mile away before Buffy said, "Angelus could have gotten there first."
"I don't think
so, Buffy. I couldn't sense that he had been there."
something off with that place," Buffy said.
"The lack of photographs."
"Imagine being that lonely. No family, no friends staring at you from the
Angel felt a
pang of guilt. There were no photographs of the two of them. His only
photograph of Buffy had gone up in flames along with most of his other
possessions back in Los Angeles.
He pondered the startling fact that he did leave an image on photo paper. How
was that possible? Cameras used...
interrupted his thoughts. "What are you thinking?"
and his heart swelled. "We should. I think Giles has a camera around
Box Brownie," he teased.
crinkled. "Is that an ancient box-like camera that requires taking the cap off
for long minutes and has a plate that you slide out?" She laughed again. "I
think we should buy a digital camera. I mean, we may need to take pictures,
don't you think?"
the camera on our new phones?"
take very good pictures. Not for portraits, anyway," Buffy was quick to say.
"It'll mean a
trip to the beauty parlour." She fiddled with her hair.
need that," he assured her.
Come on." Buffy's light mood vanished. "I think we're in business."
She had spied
the sharp turn of a head, and her slayer instincts had screamed the head hadn't
been quite human, before the body that carried it scurried away. They hurried
after, and followed it down an alley and into a deserted lane. They were near
the rail yards. Their prey had disappeared. Buffy's nose crinkled in disgust.
demon low-life inhabit deserted factories and warehouses? What's up with that?"
about. "It's not so bad. Plenty of room to breathe..."
perhaps, on the wall?"
holding a party..."
"If you say
away from her not realising she stood there with her mouth open. She snapped it
shut and tripped after him. Nudging his elbow, she held out her hand. Angel had
been carrying her weapons bag. He rescued her sword, handed it over, and
slipped the bag up high on a ledge. Giving him a calculating look, she led the
way into the warehouse. Angel slipped to one side, his sword now in his hand,
and disappeared into the gloom. The search of the building yielded nothing.
They continued on down the lane looking for the demon that had eluded them. The
last building at the end, and down in a dank, cold, basement - pipes running
along the sides and disappearing through a cavernous hole in the wall - they
found their quarry. Several species of demon looked up, startled, when Buffy
and Angel descended the stairs.
him here?" a demon cried, spit flying from a mouth full of jagged teeth.
"I didn't, I
swear!" squeaked the one they had been tracking. To Angel, he looked like a
rodent, his nose was too pointed to be human, and the whiskers around the mouth
were a dead give-away.
quickly at her boyfriend. "It seems you have a fan club."
stood with axes held in ash-coloured hands, ready to defend themselves. Brown
woollen robes covered most of their bodies, and cowls obscured faces. Buffy
thought of monks, and the experiences she had had with monks never ended well.
figure was imposing. The creature must have stood seven feet. It towered over
Angel. Its hands were empty, but the fists were huge and could deliver a
"I thought you
had found what you are looking for, vampire."
The voice was a deep bass, coming from within an enormous chest. It
reverberated through the air, settling in eardrums, sending them humming.
"What have we
been looking for?" Buffy asked, gripping her sword a little tighter.
stared down at her. She was aware that everyone had her in their sights.
"Who is this?"
one of the robed figures hissed.
Buffy struck a
pose. "Buffy, the vampire slayer. And you are?"
slayer? Why would a slayer help a vampire?" monk boy hissed back.
"More to the
point, what does Angelus want with a slayer?" the big demon asked.
"What do you
know?" Angel asked it.
"Are you going
to kill us all? I don't think so," the demon said.
"Want to bet?"
Buffy raised her sword.
Angel moved a
little, and, as he hoped, demon eyes followed. "You said Angelus had what he
was searching for? He was killing humans. Why should you care?"
relaxed slightly. The large demon craned his neck to scrutinize Angel.
"You are he,
are you not?"
Angel did not
reply. Buffy jumped in, however.
voice was high and thin in the gloom. "We heard demons were being tortured for
information by a vampire that looks like you."
"A lot of men look like him." She glanced over at Angel. Sure they do!
The demon in
charge, and it looked like it was the big guy, pondered out loud. "The vampire
looking for answers was accompanied by a woman." His eyes shifted to Buffy, "a
blonde." His eyes slid back to the vampire. "It was you who were seeking
answers about Angelus. You could be his twin."
at the large face. "Have you seen him?"
"I have. From
a distance only. The resemblance is remarkable."
"What did he
small. Something the humans had. Humans, they dabble in things they do not
understand. No wonder they die."
Buffy asked keeping her gaze on the demon monks. She didn't trust them.
demons that played a part, I agree. They are dead now. No great loss."
files hadn't mentioned demons, but then, why would they?
"Why are you
here?" Angel asked, wary of the demon sidling round to the right of him. Its
jagged teeth and boil-like pustules were a thing of beauty. For another of its
kind, Angel was sure.
"None of your
business, vampire. A simple transaction. Nothing more."
"Do we kill
"What do you
think?" he asked the demons surrounding them. "Do I let her kill you?"
"We offer no
harm," rumbled the deep bass voice.
was thin. "She has a thing about humans. You understand."
say we kill them," hissed the demon Angel was keeping his eye on.
eyebrows rose. "Gilbert?"
The big demon
frowned at her. "What's so funny?"
her laughter, and lost. "It's...look at you. I mean, Gilbert? Your mother must
have a great sense of humour."
"Did you have
to say that, Buffy?" Angel said, trying to straighten his coat, which was torn
in several places. His face was bruised, wet with blood, and he knew that he
had bits of demon brain in his hair. His left arm didn't work properly, and he
was trying not to limp.
"How was I to
know he didn't have a sense of humour," she muttered, wincing a little because
her neck hurt when she moved her head. Her jacket was a mess, and there was a
slash in her jeans. Her knee wobbled a bit when she put her weight on it, a
kick in the kneecap generally made that happen, but basically she was okay.
Buffy knew her hair was a total mess, and she wasn't about to check. Demon gore
wasn't meant to be used as hair gel. And she smelled.
don't know what it was that Angelus found."
"We were going
to kill them anyway," she insisted.
"When we had
tired, hurting, and wasn't in the mood. "Fine! Next time I won't say a word."
She held up
her hand and, hobbling over to a discarded crate, sat down, pulling her phone
from her pocket. It was set to vibrate when they were hunting.
over and slid down the wall to sit on the pavement beside her. He leaned back
and closed his eyes.
"Are you all right? You sound..."
Sorry." Buffy was looking down at Angel when she said that. He wasn't looking
at her though. She put a bloody hand on his shoulder and squeezed. His hand
came up and covered hers in reply. "It's been a tough night," she finished.
"Ian faxed me a drawing of the tattoo on the
young man's arm. It's the symbol for anarchy."
without opening his eyes, "An A inside the letter O."
"A inside the
letter O?" Buffy repeated.
She heard the
surprise in Giles' voice. "You know it?"
Angel said, "O stands for Order."
"Damn Angel and his acute hearing."
that," Buffy chuckled.
Order," the vampire said.
"Anarchy is Order? That doesn't sound right."
"It fits when you think about it."
"It does?" she
asked. ‘What part?"
"Whoever these people are, they want
anarchy to rule. Whatever it is that Angelus is looking for must be connected."
evil? Because if they are, can I let Angelus have at them?"
"I don't know, Buffy. We don't go round
killing humans, even if they are evil, and we can't let Angelus kill them
"I think the
killing will stop, at least, for tattoo guys. Angelus has found what he is
"He has? Do you know what it is?"
Buffy did not
want to go into the why of their not knowing. She ignored Angel's pointed sigh.
"Big ugly demon didn't go into that, but it appears as if our boy will lay low
again." She hoped.
The pale arm
twisted this way and that. Elegant fingers curled, and muscles well-defined,
flexed. The arm moved again, and was lax. Dark eyes stared at the symbol
marring marble-like skin. He lifted the glass again, the symbol disappearing
for a moment from his sight as he poured the whiskey into his mouth. Angelus
put the glass down and the tattoo was back in view.
The mark of
Acathla. It was the symbol the demon had chosen as his. Anarchy is Order. He
had to admit, life in his world was certainly that. Chaos ruled. Acathla
reigned. Angelus didn't. But with the
artefact he had stolen from Acathla's acolytes, he would. There was just one
more thing he needed.
as always to Jo for her expert eye for detail and beta skills. Hugs.
For a view of London
from Primrose Hill go here.
The book War
of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
Yeats. He lived for a time at 23
quoted was The Mask.
There is a pub called the Lansdowne in Primrose Hill and they do serve this
symbol and meaning.