Buffy and Giles head off to Bath to deal with a new nest of vampires, Angel has
a demon of his own to deal with.
We have lingered in
the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
-The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
Buffy cross the gravel path to the main house. Her posture was rigid, her
narrow shoulders stiff. Her ponytail bobbed, but not with its characteristic
swing; Buffy was angry, clearly.
“So you told
her then?” Giles said, appearing suddenly at Angel’s side.
“I told her.”
his gaze sideways.
chuckled. “She’ll get over it.”
“I’m not so
sure,” Angel said. He watched as Buffy went into the house. She hadn’t looked
“Of course she
will,” Giles said. “She loves you.”
Three days ago…
Buffy had settled into an uneasy routine once they’d returned from Ireland.
Work kept them busy and when there wasn’t work, Buffy did her best to keep him
occupied, to keep his mind away from berating itself over what he had done,
what had been necessary.
if he’d ever be able to forgive himself for what had happened here, the
horrible thing he’d had to do.
He didn’t want
Buffy to worry and so he did his best to smile when it was appropriate and to
maintain some semblance of normalcy, but it wasn’t always easy.
For one thing,
he could hardly bear to touch her. He wanted to and when she leaned in for a
kiss he obliged, but it didn’t seem right: To have done what he had done and to
be rewarded with her affection just seemed blasphemous.
just before the sky filled with pale light, he’d watched her through slitted
eyes preparing for her morning run. Last night she had wanted to make love, but
Angel couldn’t, wouldn’t. This morning, although she was acting as though there
was nothing wrong, Angel could tell that she was hurt. He didn’t know how to
fix it; he didn’t know how to go back to the comfortable (and comforting)
relationship that they’d had.
sleep some,” she said, twisting her hair up off her face.
Although he tried to sleep at night, when she did, it was hard to break sleep
patterns which were over two centuries old. He didn’t need too much sleep,
could get by on very little in fact, but every once and a while it caught up
“I’ll see you
later,” she said, slipping out of the door.
and rolled over. He was going to have to come to terms with what had happened
sooner rather than later, or the tension that was between them was going to
spill over into their work lives and somebody was going to get hurt.
The rain woke
him. At least that’s what he thought. The room was gloomy. There was movement
at the end of his bed and Angel opened one eye. He felt—odd.
pretty,” a voice said. “I like pretty men; otherwise, what’s the point.”
Angel came to
full wakefulness. He sat up, the covers pooling in his lap. The room was empty.
said. There was no answer. His skin itched, dead nerves jumping with life.
remember if he’d been dreaming. He rubbed his hand across his jaw and swung his
legs over the side of the bed. He twisted the alarm clock on the bed side table
towards him. 11:32 a.m. Buffy must be at the main house. He should go over; the
sun was obviously not going to be a problem today.
washing dishes at the sink. The sky threatened rain. She wondered, absently, if
Angel was awake. He hadn’t been sleeping well; she knew that. She understood
that he’d made adjustments to his sleeping habits to accommodate her and while
she appreciated it, she wasn’t sure that it was going to work out. She
suspected that the only real reason vampires slept during the day was because they
couldn’t be out and she knew that Angel slept less than he probably needed to,
although he claimed to need less sleep than she thought he did.
on the hot water tap and rinsed the last glass, placing it carefully on the
“Ah, there you
are,” Giles said from behind her. He was carrying a folder of papers and an
her hands on a dish towel and turned to face Giles.
Martha?” Giles asked, walking over and placing his mug in the sink.
“She had to go
into the village, I think. I don’t mind.”
think there’s something wrong with me because I did the dishes?”
“Of course not. You just seem—.”
Buffy said quickly. “But Angel--”
As if on cue,
Angel walked into the room.
Giles said. “Sleep well?”
carefully and crossed the room to place a kiss on top of Buffy’s head.
convenient that you’re here actually,” Giles said, moving to the kitchen table
and sitting down, placing the folder neatly in front of him.
Buffy said joining Giles at the table.
appear that we have a new vampire nest in Bath,” Giles said.
“How did you
to the ground, that sort of thing.”
literally, right?” Buffy said pulling the folder over and flipping it open.
“Churches and graveyards. What is it with you people?”
his wide shoulders and said: “I don’t sleep in a church or a graveyard.”
“Am not,” he said under his breath.
“I can take
care of this by myself,” Buffy said.
have to go to Bath on business,” Giles said. “So, I might as well come. Angel,
you could stay here.”
come,” he said.
said, too quickly. “I’d like to stay a couple days, maybe do some shopping.
said. “Okay. I guess I’ll stay.”
“I think it’d
be good for us to have,” she paused, unwilling to say anything too personal in
front of Giles. “Some time.”
concluded. “I get it.”
Giles said, pushing himself back from the table. “I’d like to leave mid
afternoon, if that’s alright. You could take care of this problem this evening
and then have a couple days to wander around.”
“I like Bath,”
Buffy said. “It’s so white.”
The rain that
had been threatening all morning
finally let loose just after Buffy and Angel headed off to Bath. Angel made
tea, habit more than desire, and rummaged around in his book case for something
to read. He should be reading something from Giles’s collection, a book about
Demonology or local hauntings, but Angel longed to read something that was
meant purely for pleasure. There was something comforting about holding a book,
turning the pages and losing himself in another time.
He ran his
fingers along the spines of the books on his shelf and finally settled on a
thin volume of poems by T.S. Eliot.
Let us go then you
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And saw-dust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
Angel had met
Eliot once. A serious man with shrewd, intelligent eyes, Angel had come upon
him in a pub in 1919. He’d been sitting in a corner, nursing a pint and
scribbling madly into a little black notebook.
It was perhaps the only advantage of living forever: meeting people who
would later be known for their intelligence or craft.
pounded outside and Angel allowed Eliot’s words to carry him away.
against his throat and a feeling of immense pleasure wedged low in his belly.
For a long
moment, Angel drifted along with the sensation. He was dreaming, of course. It
would be okay to let himself have this dream, just for a moment.
touching him: palms against his ribs, along his thighs, there.
It was almost
unbearable. Angel struggled through layers of sleep and sat up. He was
unbearably aroused, but had no recollection of the dream he’d been having.
The wind and
rain were slanting in through a window he could not remember having opened.
Angel padded across the floor and yanked it shut, sidestepping the puddle on
the floor. He went to the closet for the mop and set about cleaning up the
mess. When he was done, he returned to the couch and tried to calm the pulsing
sensations that rippled through his body like ribbons of electricity.
were not alien to him, but usually the face he saw was Buffy’s. Whatever had
woken him up was not her, and the lust he’d felt was stronger than anything
he’d experienced in recent memory.
least they have good taste,” Buffy said, as she and Giles walked past Bath
Abbey for the second time. It was not yet dark, although the overcast skies
made the day gloomier than it might have been.
“It really is
quite a remarkable feat of human ingenuity,” Giles said, looking up at the
abbey’s tall spires.
just say, ‘great building,’ or ‘good job’?” Buffy laughed, glancing at her
“Yes, I suppose I could, but then I’d sound like an inarticulate American and
I’d never forgive myself.”
“Who are you
calling inarticulate,” Buffy said, punching Giles playfully on the arm.
“Let’s get a
drink at the pub just there,” Giles said, pointing across the road. “Then we
can look after this little problem in the Abbey and enjoy the rest of our
“What do you
fallen, properly, and Angel was aware, suddenly, that he was not alone.
“I like you.”
A shape across
the room moved closer. Insubstantial, even to Angel’s excellent vision, it
gained definition as it drew nearer.
Out of the
dark corner it appeared, a woman as beautiful as any Angel had seen in his
long, long life. Her hair cascaded is blonde ringlets, loose and fat, framing
an alabaster face. Her mouth was a candy-kiss, her eyes opaque and almond
shaped, fringed with feathery black lashes. The smell of her was intoxicating.
need to do anything,” she said. She was close enough to touch him and even
though she didn’t, Angel felt the warm dry press of her palm against his chest.
She tilted her hand and pulled a carefully manicured nail down his chest along
the exposed skin glimpsed through the opening in his shirt.
to stop her and he lifted a hand to snatch at her wrist, but suddenly he found
himself flat on his back with this decadently beautiful woman straddling him.
fight me,” she murmured. “There’s no need.”
forward, rubbing against him sensually and Angel felt his body react. He
couldn’t seem to tear his eyes away from her smooth décolletage. His body
hummed underneath hers.
“We will be
lovers,” she whispered.
“I have a
lover, thanks,” he said.
laughed, tossing her head gaily and sending her curls in a hundred different
directions. Angel wondered what her hair would feel like pressed between his
fingers. He lifted a hand to touch her. She shifted again and Angel found
himself teetering on the edge of mindlessness.
return to you,” she said reaching out for his fingers with her tongue. He
moaned when she pulled one long digit into her mouth, nibbling and sucking her
way down to the place where his finger met his palm.
And then she
sleep even if he’d wanted to. He heated up some blood, added a measure of
whiskey and sat at the kitchen table, palms flat against the smooth wood,
waiting for them to stop shaking.
The phone rang
shrilly, but Angel didn’t trust his wobbly legs to make it across the room.
been dreaming: vividly. Although the dream had stopped just short of
embarrassing him, he had been millimeters away from the steep precipice.
stopped ringing and then started again almost immediately.
strides and Angel was holding the receiver in his hand.
concerned. He hated that she was worried about him.
“Hey,” he said
trying to keep his voice level.
okay?” She asked.
great,” he replied. “How about you? Did you find the nest?”
“Yeah, in the
Abbey just like Travis said. Giles and I are just having a drink before we go
Rambo on them.”
“Oh, sorry, I
guess you missed the Sylvester Stallone oeuvre.”
“No, I saw
Rocky,” Angel said. “All eighteen of them.”
“I don’t think there were eighteen.”
“Maybe not. Be
said. “See you in a couple days.”
dressed, Angel watched the sun come up across the field, shafts of light
filtering through the little copse of trees near the fence. It would be a long
day trapped inside and although Angel was, even now, a solitary creature, he
missed Buffy. There were times when a case called her away during the day and
he was, because of the sun, unable to go…but Angel felt particularly cut off
from the world today.
John Fletcher cross the gravel path towards the garage. He met the older man at
thought you might be needing this,” he said, handing Angel a box. “It’s--”
Angel said taking the box from Fletcher’s hands. Martha was right; he’d drunk
the last of his blood last night.
be off,” John said heading back the way he’d come.
the box and placed the jars of blood neatly in the refrigerator. He wondered,
briefly, if feeding a vampire had been in the job description for Martha and
Angel took up
his book of poems once more and settled on the couch.
How had he
missed the wings?
behind her, they cast a shadow against the ceiling, held her aloft so that she
wasn’t touching him.
returned to consummate our relationship,” she said.
up and his fingers connected with her smooth, warm skin. He was filled with
unbearable desire even as he realized who she was.
And then she
was upon him.
When he woke
the sun had left the sky. He felt as weak and used up as he had when Wesley had
pulled him from his ocean tomb. He stumbled, naked, to the refrigerator and
reached for a bottle of the blood John had thankfully provided. He didn’t even
bother to warm it. He needed to clear his head, and quickly.
down at himself, searching for marks, for some sign that what had happened had
been nothing more than a very realistic dream. The skin on his chest and
stomach was unblemished; maybe it had been nothing more than some weird
latent sexual energy made manifest by some suppressed emotion. Guilt. Guilt was
always good for conjuring up weird shit. And in Angel’s life guilt was never in
his blood and headed to the bathroom. He turned the water on and let it get
good and hot and then he stepped underneath the spray. He flinched as the water
hit his back. He reached around, touching the parts of his back he could
reach. His back seemed to be a mess of
jagged scratches and cuts which crisscrossed their way from his shoulder blades
down to the small of his black.
explain those away.
nest in the Abbey had been ridiculously easy to take care of.
the dust from her suede jacket and pocketed her stake.
“I dunno,” she
said, reaching down to offer Giles her hand, “I think the British vamps are
lamer than the American vamps.”
On his feet,
Giles straightened his glasses and smiled. “Perhaps these were newly made
vampires. Given more time and a good leader they might have been more worthy
shrugged. “Well, time is one thing they haven’t got.”
the Abbey’s floor. “True enough,” he said. “Shall we have some dinner?”
rang just after he had left Buffy to do some shopping along the narrow streets,
known to the locals as the Passages.
alright?” It was unusual for Angel to call on Giles’s mobile.
“No. When are
you coming back?”
“What is it?”
Giles asked. Angel calling was one thing; Angel seeking out Giles for help was
something else entirely. They had made their peace, certainly; but it was a
wary peace at the best of times.
Angel said. “I don’t know how--”
come, of course.”
said. “I don’t want Buffy to--” Angel voice was adamant.
course,” Giles said. “I’ll make some excuse and come back on my own then, shall
would be better,” Angel said, clearly relieved.
arranged to meet for lunch and Giles explained that his business was taking him
out of Bath. He handed Buffy the keys to the flat and asked if she’d be able to
take the train back to Westbury when she’d finished her shopping. The thought
of having some alone time, Giles knew, would appeal to her.
He sped back
to Westbury, anxious to speak to Angel in person.
A succubus. It
was the stuff of legend, of course. And even in all the years that Giles had
been a Watcher, he’d never actually met someone who had encountered one. Of
course, it was a rare occurrence when someone met with a succubus and lived to
tell the tale.
The history of
the demon was as old as time itself. The demon’s story began with Adam and his
first wife, Lilith. Adam, so the Bible says, was created from God, but Lilith
was created from the Earth, a free spirit much more in tune with the natural
in Adam’s sexual advances, she called out the name of the creator and was
banished from the Garden of Eden. She moved to the edge of the Red Sea and
mated with the demons she found there, thus creating a race of demons known as
succubi. The male version of the demon was known as an incubus.
Europe some people believed that intercourse with an incubus resulted in the
birth of witches, demons, and deformed human offspring. Merlin, himself, was
said to have been fathered by an incubus.
The fate of humans taken by a succubus was certain
death, but in Angel’s case that wasn’t a real possibility. And although a
succubus survived by mating, offering her victims untold pleasures, they
weren’t benevolent spirits by any stretch of the imagination. They were
fiercely strong and capable of great harm.
how a succubus had wandered into Westbury and how she’d come to Angel’s bed.
There were some sources who said that succubi are actually known to their
victims but in Angel’s case, that certainly wasn’t likely to narrow the field.
If the demon
didn’t have the potential to cause great harm, Giles could almost find Angel’s
waiting in Giles’s study. The desk was littered with volumes from the
ex-Watcher’s personal library. He lifted his head from The Pergamum Codex and
his wide shoulders.
“It’s a damn
good thing the curse isn’t an issue,” Angel said, “because despite the fact
that this chick’s got the emotional IQ of a gnat,” he paused to meet Giles’s
eyes, “the earth moved.”
Giles said, moving closer to lift the spine of one of the discarded books. “Do
you know this woman?”
his head. “No. But let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly celibate for the first, say,
hundred and fifty years…give or take.”
“No, I suppose
“I don’t want
Buffy to know, Giles. I’ve hurt her enough.”
done this, Angel,” Giles said. “I’d be the first one to blame you if you had.”
but the gesture did not reach his eyes.
keep secrets from her. We’ll sort it out and then you should tell her. She’ll
mirthlessly. “If the situation was reversed, if Buffy were being visited by an
incubus I doubt I’d be so forgiving.”
hope your paramour doesn’t have any horny male friends,” he said, ignoring
Angel’s wince. “Let’s get to work shall we.”
It was almost
dawn when Angel crossed the gravel driveway to the garage. He climbed the stairs
wearily. The research he and Giles had compiled hadn’t provided them with much
more information than they’d already had.
said that a succubus only came to monks, the most pious and seemingly least
sexual of men. Other information indicated that the succubus drew its energy
from sexual encounters with men, leaving its victims exhausted. Some victims,
in fact, were so exhausted from their encounters that they would often die.
While there was no chance of Angel dying, he couldn’t argue with the exhausted
part. He felt as though he could sleep for a hundred years.
Malleus Maleficarum, the book considered to be the quintessential Roman
Catholic text on witchcraft, succubi were known to collect the semen of the men
they had seduced and to give it to their male counterparts, who would in turn
use it to impregnate female victims. The children from these unions were often
thought to be susceptible to the influence of demons.
As a young man
in Ireland, Angel had come to learn that a carving of a succubus outside of a
building was an indication that the inn or tavern was also a brothel. He’d had
many fine nights in such establishments before he was turned. But none, he had
to admit, so fine as the last few encounters he’d had with his demon visitor.
disconcerting information that he and Giles had discovered about the succubus
was that they were often thought to be soul stealers. The legend claimed that
every time someone had sex with a succubus, the demon would steal a little bit of
the person’s soul.
willing to part with his soul, no matter how pleasurable the experience might
onto the couch and closed his eyes. The scratches on his back had healed, but
the memories of his night were still fresh in his mind.
Like calls to
like, he supposed. As much as he might try to deny it to Buffy (and to himself)
Angel was a demon with the appetites of a demon. The succubus called to him on
a level which was purely physical and Angel seemed powerless against it.
kneeling between his legs, her tongue snaking out to wet her perfect lips. Her
hands rested on his thighs. He watched her from beneath the curtain of his own
lashes, but he was perfectly aware the she knew she was being watched.
is dark,” she whispered, leaning closer to the obvious proof of his arousal.
out and slid his hands through the succubus’s generous curls.
“Do you have a
replied. “We are all called Lilith, after our mother.”
closer. When their lips met, Angel felt the rippling waves of sexual desire
pass between them. His body jolted to life. He struggled to clear his head, to
pull free of her incredible strength.
Lilith said. “I know. All men want me.”
actually what I was going to say,” Angel said. He pulled his hands out of
Lilith’s hair. She was sitting in his lap now, snug against him, writhing
happily. “But okay.”
his head back, closing his eyes.
cousins,” Lilith said, her mouth against his ear. “You are a vampire. You need
the lifeblood of others to survive. I am a succubus; I need the sexual fluids
of men to survive. We are not that different.”
not,” Angel murmured. She was so warm, so incredibly warm and alluring. “Is
that why you came here?”
breath tickled Angel’s neck.
because you called.” Her small, hot hands were in his shirt, freeing him from
buttons and zippers effortlessly.
Did he say the
words aloud? He didn’t think so, but it wouldn’t have made any difference. She
had pulled him into her and he was lost in the sensations. His mind
kaleidoscoped away from his body; his body careened carelessly down a path of
And, as if she
knew him, Angel felt the first lick of pain beneath the bliss and that was all
it took. He groaned and bucked beneath her.
home to silence. It was just past lunch when the taxi she’d taken from the
train station in Westbury deposited her at the main house. She dumped her bag
at the front door and called out.
down the hall to the kitchen, which she discovered empty, although a pot of
something that smelled slightly oily bubbled on the stove.
out the back door and stopped. There was Giles’s Land Rover parked by the back
door. He’d made it home before her. Things must have gone well in the
Cotswolds. Perhaps he was with Angel.
the gravel and slipped into the stairwell. She could hear voices.
That was Angel.
careful.” That was Giles. He sounded amused.
that’s all,” Angel said.
up the stairs and paused at the door to the flat.
should expect that it would.”
the door and found Angel sitting on a kitchen chair, shirtless. Giles was
standing over him, tending to several large gashes on his shoulders and chest.
“What in the
hell happened?” Buffy said, rushing across the room. “I can’t leave you alone
for, like, a minute.”
A few scratches,” Angel said.
“Those are not
scratches,” Buffy said, moving closer.
said carefully. “He’s alright. By
morning these will all be gone.” He wiped the last of the blood from Angel’s
shoulder and rinsed the cloth in a basin of water on the table.
“What did this
to you?” Buffy asked.
Angel exchanged a meaningful look.
believe a distant cousin?” Angel said, hopefully.
funny,” Buffy said. “See. I’m not laughing. Give me that,” she added, taking
the tube of balm from Giles. She twisted the cap off and began to rub some of
the soothing ointment into Angel’s damaged skin.
“I’ll go then,
shall I, and let you two have a talk,” Giles said, pushing his glasses up his
For a moment
there was silence. Buffy finished her task and recapped the tube. Then she sat
in the chair across from Angel and waited.
“It was a
“Well, I hope
that at least he faired worse than you,” Buffy said.
“It was a
succubus,” Angel said quietly.
demons who come to men at night and…” Angel paused, hoping he wouldn’t have to
be any more explicit than that. Buffy remained silent, her hazel eyes pinning
him to his chair. “They can be male, too, but not, of course, in this case…”
babbling, Angel,” she said, crossing her arms in front of her slender chest.
“I know. I’m
sorry,” he said. He fixed his eyes on a space just past her left shoulder and
began to fill in the details of his encounters with the succubus.
Now he stood,
Giles at his side, wondering how to repair this latest damage between them. She
hadn’t cried when he’d finished his tale. He’d managed to leave the most sordid
details out of his story, but he knew that Buffy had been hurt by what she
considered his betrayal. No matter how much he tried to explain that he’d been
powerless against Lilith, Buffy took what had happened here while she’d been in
Bath as a rejection. How could he tell her otherwise, when things had been so
strained between them since his return from Ireland? How could he make her
understand that the release he’d found with Lilith hadn’t shaken loose the
terrible burden he still felt for killing the Slayers, for everything.
“I’ll show her
the research,” Giles said. “Perhaps that will help her to understand that it is
nearly impossible to resist such a being.”
know what I mean,” Giles said.
was less beautiful when angered. Her eyes shone black; her mouth was a cruel
refuse me,” she said, her voice a harsh whisper.
whatever you’re here for…my soul, my bodily fluids,” Angel paused, “whatever
keeps you warm at night—I don’t have any to spare.”
folded against her back and she floated towards Angel. Her face relaxed; she
was beautiful and irresistible once more.
But Angel was
awake now and he was implacable. Giles had been right: it was possible, after
all, to refuse a succubus.
The truth of
it was, Angel thought later as he watched the lights go out in the big house,
he hadn’t resisted Lilith as he might have. He’d spent his whole life since
he’d been re-souled denying himself even the simplest pleasures. He didn’t
deserve them, he told himself. He didn’t deserve bliss.
But for once,
he had welcomed the mindless respite from his guilt and the terrible burden
that came from being who he was; who he would always be. And the fact that he
had given in to her when he should have refused was one more cross Angel would
have to bear.