Summary: The dead do speak, one only
has to listen.
When I have
fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
John Keats (1795 –
insist on being heard. From beyond the grave the whispers come, calling to one
that walks in the land of the living and yet is one of their own. They want to
“Why do you
not listen?” they call, and he does not hear. He chooses not to hear.
fingers try to grip with bones long gone to dust, in spirit only do they reach
and grasp and slip away, leaving shivers that crawl up the spine. Humans call
it “someone walking on their grave,” and it is almost true.
powerful shoulders and chases the ghostly prickles away. Oft times the feeling
lingers - his spider sense, Cordelia called it - and he pays attention to
those. Is he special in that, he wonders? Are champions gifted with senses that
detect things amiss, the world out of skew? Or is it his demon, that gift all
bound up in evil that senses the darkness when it draws nigh?
The dead sit
before him, bent and grotesque, calling to him with glassy eyes and open
mouths. Angel turns away from their frightened frightful stares, and
concentrates on the living. The world comes rushing back and brings with it the
aftermath of vehicular carnage. Buffy is kneeling beside a child, a boy she has
placed gently on the footpath. A middle-aged woman comes and offers a blanket.
Another has cloths to staunch the flow of blood. He strides past, his efforts
going into silencing the screaming. He hears Buffy’s quick footsteps as he
arrives at the mangled wreck. Some poor soul is trapped inside and the smell of
petrol is strong here. There is no time to lose. He knows what they say; never
move an injured person, but he has no choice. They have no choice. With a quick
glance he surveys the roadside. There are the usual on-lookers, hanging about
like carrion birds waiting for their next meal. Traffic cannot even crawl by,
for the intersection is a battlefield of metal and flesh and the dearly
departed. A few caring and yes, courageous folk are trying their best to help.
A couple of men carrying torches are encouraging people to turn their cars
about and find an alternative route. He can see their lights bobbing about
further down the road. The ambulances and police are sadly nowhere to be seen.
Buffy is leaning
in what’s left of the car window, and tries to calm the screaming woman. The
traumatised woman doesn’t even know Buffy is there.
Angel moves to
the other door and looks inside. His gaze carries past the dead man at the
wheel to the woman’s legs. They are trapped behind the crumpled dash, crushed
in all likelihood. One arm is canted at an unnatural angle and her face is
bloody from a myriad cuts. He raises his eyes to see Buffy looking back at him.
“We don’t have
much time,” she says, and he knows she too must smell the deadly fumes.
He nods, wraps
his hands about the door handle and frame, and pulls. The door comes away with
a squeal and falls onto the road with a thud, shattered glass tinkling in a
running rivulet across the concrete. Angel grasps the dead man’s shoulder,
manoeuvres a hand about the body’s waist, and lifts the corpse from the car.
The woman quietens and he wonders briefly if the man and woman were husband and
wife. Carefully he carries the body to the side of the road and lays it there.
Buffy is in the car when he gets back and he moves faster than he should to
remove the passenger door. It clatters behind him and sends the approaching
help back a step.
he shouts. “The gas tank is leaking.”
He leans into
the car. Angel sees that Buffy is attempting to free the trapped flesh, and the
victim starts to scream again. Tears shimmer in the Slayer’s eyes when her face
lifts to his.
“Just do it,” he
commands. Buffy bites her lip and nods. She sprawls across the seat which
moments before contained a dead man, the grime and gore unnoticed as it coats
her clothing bloody. Buffy struggles with the woman’s legs and suddenly the
happened? Is she, did she?”
Buffy,” Angel speaks the lie. He gently releases the woman’s neck and head. He
hasn’t killed her. She is better off unconscious with Buffy’s attempts bringing
her more pain.
He hears his
lover’s fist hitting metal and goes to his knees to help. They push and hammer
the crumpled dash enough to release the captured limbs. Buffy rips the woman’s
seat-belt from its lock and wriggles herself out of the car. The vampire scoops
the unconscious form out, and with long strides heads away from the car and
finds a place a safe distance away to lay the lady down. He turns to find Buffy
peering into the other vehicles as a last minute check, her face as pale as his
own. There are three cars all told. Two nestle together like giant demons
mating. Five dead and the injured count is two. One of the dead is a child; the
other child is alive and badly hurt. Angel shakes his head at the fragility of
the human form. Buffy joins him and he wraps an arm about her shoulders, knowing
how she is feeling. She leans gratefully into his embrace. Dealing with tragedy
and death is a part of the life they lead, but when it comes to children, it
hits her hard. Truth be told, it doesn’t do him much good either.
waste,” she murmurs, and all he can do is nod.
sirens and know there is not much more they can do. The light that spills from
open doorways and window panes does little to illuminate the dreadful scene.
Death manages to hide its face beneath the shadows of the night. One dim
streetlamp struggles in its duty, and a car’s headlights is all the brightness
the humans receive. Angel can see quite well in the dark, however, and he
notices a man approaching. Of mid-height and carrying a few extra pounds, the
man’s face is pale. Angel’s glance downwards informs him that the stranger’s
hands are shaking. It isn’t easy dealing with road kill. Something, call it his
sixth sense, persuades Angel to look past him. The vampire can see a woman,
quite striking in her appearance, staring back at him. The lady had been within
his range of vision, hovering near the family’s car earlier. His call of
caution had moved everyone else away, but she had persisted. He frowns. There
is something... Angel sees her lips moving, and only his preternatural hearing
picks up the words, “Help him.” Angel’s
frown deepens. Did they miss some one? He doesn’t think so.
starts to speak and the vampire’s attention is back on him.
“It was a
brave thing you did back there.” The man sweeps his arm out indicating the
accident behind him. Angel allows his gaze to slide past him again, but of the
woman there isn’t a sign.
“My name is
Bernard. I live on the corner over there.” Bernard jerks his head in the
direction of his home. “My wife and I heard the squeal of tyres and the
sickening thuds.” He sighs before continuing, “It’s not the first accident
we’ve had here, nor the last, I warrant. We have a supply of blankets ready
just in case, you know. Elaine wants to know if you would like a cup of tea.”
Buffy looks up
at him, her face pinched and grey. “Angel?”
like a hot drink, Buffy?” he asks her.
“I want to go
home, to Westbury. I don’t feel like going to Bath anymore.”
He nods and twines
his fingers through hers. Angel looks back at the Good Samaritan. “The gas tank
could blow at anytime. Keep everyone back just in case. Thank Elaine for us,
will you, Bernard? We’d better be on our way.”
surprised that they are not going to wait around. “What about the police?”
It is Buffy
who answers as they step away. “Not our problem.”
from the fractured light, the Slayer and vampire skirt the crash scene.
Ignoring the weight of dead stares, Angel can see how the accident happened.
One of the vehicles, and he bets it’s the car that has rammed head-on into the
driver’s side of the other, has run the light. The third car slamming into the
mess has ricocheted away and hit the street light on the corner. Five dead and
not a demon in sight. Well, not counting him of course. Angel loves his cars
and drives like the demon he is, but his reflexes are extraordinary, he doesn’t
kill people with his vehicle, at least not humans. He thinks that some people
should never drive, the devastation they leave rivals some of the evil they
have encountered. They do not say much on their way back to Westbury.
surprised to see Buffy and Angel walk into the kitchen.
“Did you lose
your way to Bath?”
he jokes and then his smile slips when he sees Buffy’s grim face, and the blood
on her jacket.
He slams to
his feet in his worry. “What’s wrong?”
shakes her head at him.
the kettle to make a fresh pot of tea and Giles can see his look matches
Buffy’s. The vampire is the one who answers him, however. “There was an
regains his seat. “Is anyone hurt? There’s blood,” he says, and reaches out to
his Slayer when she takes the adjacent chair.
Buffy closes her
eyes and allows her head to fall into her hand. The arm that is supporting her
head is not anchored to the table that well. Her head wobbles.
He notices how
gently the vampire places the two tea cups on the table. Angel’s answer is
her eyes and looks sideways at her Watcher. “Five people, Giles, and one of
them a little girl.”
asks with dismay.
down. The tea is steeping in the pot. “No. Five dead and two injured.”
someone with a coherent answer.
passing through Trowbridge. Not far.”
out and pours her tea. She doesn’t like it strong. She adds milk and sugar.
Angel watches as she stirs the tea with the spoon. Round and round it goes, he
thinks that she will stir the liquid dry. His fingers find hers and he stills
her nervous action.
“I think the
sugar is dissolved,” he says softly.
her eyes and gives him a sad little smile. “I like it sweet.”
She draws a
breath, straightens her shoulders and picks up her cup. Both men watch as she
swallows a mouthful of the hot liquid.
“Mmm, I think
you Brits have something here. A cup of tea does do wonders.”
Her cheer is false,
both Angel and Giles can hear it, but this is the Slayer talking. She has
pushed the horror of the accident to where it belongs, into her memory and not
her heart, and is concentrating on the now. There is nothing she can do about
it, time to move on. Angel doesn’t believe she can do that quite so easily.
in his seat, his gaze seeking out the vampire’s hand as Angel pours himself a
cup and then lifts the china to his lips. Such large hands, he thinks, the
teacup fragile and small in those extraordinary fingers.
He blinks and
steers the conversation back to the accident. “What do the police say?”
another mouthful before replying. “We didn’t hang around to find out. God,
Giles! The boy is going to be an orphan!” She scrubs at the tears that suddenly
threaten to fall. She is grateful when her lover’s hand engulfs her own. Buffy
blinks rapidly, willing her tears away, and attempts a smile. Her chin trembles
with the effort.
her hand a squeeze. His voice soft, Angel paints a picture of twisted metal and
It is two in
the morning and Buffy is well asleep. Angel listens to her breathing as he
quietly dons his clothing. Planting a gentle kiss on her cheek, he leaves the flat
and heads for his car. It doesn’t take him long to reach his destination. The
vampire walks the few blocks towards the fatal intersection. His car is parked
back where it will not be recognised.
scene is ablaze with lights, heavy vehicles, people, and noise. A television
crew is there: more ghouls feeding off the suffering of others. Angel stays
well away from the lights and no one notices his presence. The ambulances have
all but gone. One remains and he knows a body rests inside. The living have
priority, the dead wait their turn. The fire crew are cleaning up, the newly
dead have been released from their metal coffins, and tow trucks wait to clear
the road. It has been a long night. Silently, beneath the growl of engines, the
vampire walks by the wreckage. Dressed
all in black, he is another shadow the night throws in defence against the
glare of harsh lights. His finely-tuned senses explore the area, minutely
examining where the family has died. Inhaling deeply, the vampire separates the
bouquet of blood from other smells. The scents that reach him are of mortality,
aftershave, a lady’s perfume, and sticky lollies, all of which belong to the
car and its occupants. He ignores the tang of sweat from the men and women of
the emergency crew, he is hunting for something specific and he does not find
it. It does not mean he is mistaken.
continues his search as he heads back to the footpath. Out of the corner of his
eye he catches a glimpse of what he has been looking for. The woman is walking
away, long legs on high heels, her back to him. And, as if she senses his eyes
on her, she turns her head and her heels cease their high steps. Angel stands
motionless. He knows for all his speed he can never catch her. She stares at
him and her lips form the words he already knows.
morning, Giles discovers that the accident has made the news. He is not
surprised, multiple deaths always make good television. He sees for himself the
scene that Angel has described. The ambulances standing there would have been
for the dead. The child and woman have already been carried off to Bristol.
The camera pans the cars as the journalist reports the grisly details. The
names of the dead and injured have not been released. However, he learns the
couple with the children had been their maternal grandparents. He is relieved
to think that the one surviving child will have the love and care of his
parents. He will need it in the days to come, just as they will need him.
and brushes at the crumbs that have escaped his plate.
Martha murmurs, “Those poor folk. It’s a crying shame when a child dies. What a
agree more. “Every life lost is a waste,” he says, as he picks up his breakfast
dishes and carries them to the dishwasher. If not for the pot on Martha’s arm
he wouldn’t think of doing for himself, he would never hear the end of it from
his housekeeper. He has been pitching in, and so has Buffy and Angel. It’s
amazing really to see a vampire vacuum, and more than amazing to see him
polishing the mirrors. Angel takes care of his and Buffy’s small flat above the
garage in his usual tidy way, and he has extended his services to the main
house to help the poor injured woman. His culinary skills have certainly
lightened the load. Buffy to her credit
has also pitched in. She has been doing the washing, picking up groceries and
helping out where she can. Giles can swear that he has seen an iron in her hand
a time or two. He is happy to think that she doesn’t come near his clothing and
he chuckles at the memory of Angel snatching a silk shirt from under her iron,
dismay written over his face.
her kind soul, has been showing up to do what little she can albeit one-handed.
Presently she is making up a lovely broth of vegetable soup. He tries not to
flinch as she slices and dices, and chooses not to watch her with the knife.
Martha has her own method of dealing with recalcitrant carrots and runaway
celery. He leaves her to it, his morning paper tucked under his arm. He has
mail to attend to.
In his study,
Giles finds more than his mail. The two cats are there, sleeping. Aristotle has
pride of place in his leather chair. Zillah has nested, the paper and envelopes
on his desk a fine mattress. Giles doesn’t want to move the black cat; she has
had far too much stress in her short life: losing Ella and then nearly her leg,
let alone her life, to a ferocious dog, to name but a few. He does what many a
cat owner does. Carefully trying not to disturb, he pulls at the things he
needs from under her sleeping form. He is rewarded with the flick of her tail.
Ari’s ears prick up and his eyes open to watch his antics.
Giving up, he
sighs, scoops Zillah up and gently deposits her on a chair. Typical of all cats
- it isn’t her idea to move and therefore she isn’t going to stay. She gives
him a look of utter disgust, jumps down, tail in the air, and stalks off.
Aristotle decides to follow her. Giles watches them go and wonders how he
became a slave to the feline. He sweeps his letters into a pile and gets to
He is hanging
up the phone when Buffy shows up, a coffee mug in hand.
Buffy,” he says waving her in.
Her smile is
easier today, he notes. The sadness still lingers, but Buffy isn’t letting it
overwhelm her. Perhaps he has something that will take her mind off things.
Who was on the phone?”
“A client,” he
is happy to inform her. “I received a letter from them this morning requesting
that I ring them.”
they ring you? Wouldn’t that have saved a stamp, let alone the wait?”
says handing the letter across.
Buffy puts her
mug on the desk, and begins to read. Giles quickly places an envelope under the
mug to protect his precious desk, but doesn’t say a word.
Giles?” Buffy reads some more. “The apartment?”
“They were too
embarrassed to ring directly and didn’t know if we would take them seriously.”
don’t take us seriously,” she adds with the lift of her brow.
the letter across to her friend, her eyes alive with interest.
“What time are
Buffy shifts her
feet, the autumn days are getting shorter and colder. She and Giles are outside
a small flat in Bath.
It isn’t the flat that Giles has generously handed over to them; it is the home
of Briony and Ryan Middleton. They are expected and the door opens almost
immediately. A slender young woman, pretty, with brown hair and hazel eyes
invites them in and leads them down a short hallway that opens into a tiny
lounge. The lounge runs into the kitchen where sits a table designed for two.
The dining room, Buffy surmises correctly. She can see the strain the girl is
under in the way her eyes tick anxiously about the room. Briony is nervous, but
she offers them tea all the same. Giles accepts and Buffy realises that her
friend is giving the girl something to do other than worry.
Buffy sits on
the small cream couch, sharing space with its pretty coloured cushions. Nice,
she thinks. Her eyes take in the room once again. The furniture is sparse, of
necessity and fashion. A lovely blue rug and a charming coffee table finish off
what’s left of the room. A flat-screen LCD television hangs on the wall; there
isn’t room for anything else. She senses the owners take pride in their home.
with tea and biscuits and sets the tray down. Giles has taken the only armchair
that is wedged in a corner. Briony settles down next to Buffy. When everyone
has a cup, Giles asks Briony to tell her tale.
“We had some
friends over for a meal a few nights ago…”
interrupts her, trying to get everything clear in his head. “How many nights?”
“Um, I think it was Saturday…no, it was Sunday night. Stuart and Jill couldn’t
make it Saturday night.”
Giles nods for
her to continue.
we decided to use the Ouija board.”
asks, speaking for the first time.
Briony gives Buffy isn’t a happy one. “We thought it’d be fun. It’s not so
funny now. Besides, it isn’t really a Ouija board. It’s an Angel Spirit Board.”
“What did you say?” The Slayer leans
towards her. Giles also.
board. Wait, I’ll show you.” The brunette leaves Buffy’s side and hurries away.
Giles exchange a look.
board?” The surprise on her Watcher’s face matches her own, she is sure.
She mutters, a
little peeved, “I bet there isn’t a Buffy board anywhere.” Her peeve deepens at
his soft chuckle.
comes back to Angel, doesn’t it?” he says to finish off her mood.
The scowl that
looks back at him ensures he closes his mouth on his next sentence. His eyes
Briony is back
and in her hands is a book-type affair, the case a little bigger than Giles’
laptop. He reaches over, moves the tray to the floor, and the woman opens up
the board. Giles can see that it has a stand that retracts - it looks a little
like an artist’s easel - and it lies flat like an open book on the table. The
surface is a bluish colour, the alphabet gold, and in the middle of both sits a
painted angel in flowing robes with opened wings. There is a planchette,
heart-shaped, and its use is obvious. By all accounts it is a Ouija board.
“Where did you
get this?” he asks her.
“On e-Bay. It
came from the United States.”
Briony turns to Buffy. “That’s where you’re from, isn’t it?”
originally. What happened next?” She steers the conversation back to the Ouija
thing, the Angel thing. Out of the corner of her eye, Buffy can see the
impatience and irritation building on her Watcher’s face.
wondering what other dangers lie waiting for innocent folk on e-Bay. One
doesn’t have to leave the safety of one’s home to invite peril in, for God’s
sake! He glares at the planchette in his hand. An old-fashioned planchette
would have wheels and a pencil for writing the messages. This one is more sleek
not to sound like a disapproving old fart, he says, “You and your friends
shouldn’t be playing with things you don’t understand.”
“That is what
we were doing: playing. No one really believes in this stuff, it’s just a
game.” The brunette bites her lip. “We won’t be playing anymore.” Buffy thinks
her eyes look haunted.
“It was a
giggle at first. We were sure that the others were moving that thing you have
in your hand.”
“It started to
move on its own,” Giles prompts gently.
She nods. “It
spelled out Help and Them. We didn’t know what we were getting into. It wasn’t
as if were we performing a séance. Those are too creepy.”
in the afterlife, and yet you…” she didn’t finish. Buffy knew first hand the
consequences of dabbling with the supernatural. Her thoughts flew to her mother
and Dawn’s attempt at bringing her back, and the thing that Dawn would have
raised. She shivers at the memory.
is now verging on the hysterical. “The words weren’t the problem; we were
expecting messages, what came after…” Her eyes flick about the room before
coming to rest on Buffy’s face. “There was blood on the wall.” She points to
the wall behind the Slayer. Buffy turns, and feels a little foolish. Blood
would have been the first thing she noticed. It has been cleaned.
“A wind came
up inside the flat. How does that
happen?” Briony is looking at Giles now, her eyes wide. “Books and paper and
ornaments flew about. My precious dolphin was smashed against the floor. It was
like in the movie, Constantine,
I think.” Her voice lowers in her fright. It is barely a whisper now. “It’s not
the Devil, is it? He isn’t coming to take our souls?”
doesn’t think so. “I don’t think it’s the Devil, Mrs Middleton.”
Devil wouldn’t be asking you to help anyone.”
“Then what is
it? An angry ghost, a spirit come to haunt us?” She bursts into tears. “I can’t
stay here another night. I can’t!”
Buffy lays a
hand on the other woman’s arm. “We’ll sort this out so that you can.”
is tremulous, but it is there. “You can?”
reassures her. Giles coughs to get their attention.
“Can you feel
eyebrows rise. No, she hasn’t. She should be sensing something, anything. This
is her calling, the one of only two slayers to combat the evil that is in the
She shakes her
her tears still wet upon her cheeks. “Are you a psychic? Can you send whatever
it is back to where it came from?”
“Not really. I
do get a sense of some things.” Evil things, she thinks, demonic things.
his throat. “Rest assured we do have some expertise in these matters. When was
the last incident?”
night, although, come to think, it didn’t go on as long as usual. It barely got
started before all went quiet. Do you think it’s gone? Can you be sure?”
“What time was
of any kind?”
shakes no. “It’s kind of spooky when dead people talk to you, don’t you think?
I mean, I’ve had enough of this, imagine if some ghost appears and actually
speaks? I think I would be running screaming into the streets. People would
think me crazy.”
at the other woman’s comment. What would Briony think if she knew that Buffy
frequently talked to dead people, Angel most of all? The others, she was
Her phone rings,
Buffy fumbles about in her purse for it and, talk of the devil.
Giles’ sigh of
resignation goes unnoticed by their client. Briony is all ears, however, on the
phone conversation. The word Angel has been mentioned and of course the woman is
sorry, at Giles and gives her man her full attention.
“Buffy. Where are you?” her vampire asks.
find my note? We’re in Bath
on a case. Mrs Middleton has a ghost, a manifestation problem. What’s
“Do you need any help?”
“No, we can
handle it. Stop stalling.”
“When you’re finished, can you get
Giles to drive you to Bristol?”
decides that Briony’s attention to her call is too intrusive. Sliding past knees
and table, she moves into the kitchen.
“I want you to go to the hospital and
check up on the boy that was in the accident.”
flutters at the thought of the injured child. “Why?”
“I think he is in danger. I’ll explain
later. Will you do this for me?”
refuse Angel nothing, at least within reason, and when it comes to him she
loses all reason.
“Of course I
can. This case isn’t going to take long. I’ll let you know when I arrive.”
“Thank you. I’ll meet you there when I can.”
that,” Buffy apologises, and rests a hip on the arm of Giles’ chair.
“Did I hear
you mention an angel?” Briony’s curiosity has obviously gotten the better of
the look on his Slayer’s face. There is business afoot and she wants this case
another member of our organisation. Apparently he has another case he is
working on.” Giles sees Buffy nod, and continues. “I think we need to do a
protection…”he is loath to say spell, the woman will think them mad, “ritual.
If we can move the table I think we can begin.”
Giles gets to
his feet and Briony asks, puzzled, “Ritual? What’s that? Is that like
witchcraft? Are you mad?”
The Watcher chooses
his next words carefully.
of priests performing exorcisms, baptisms and blessings? This is similar. Think
of it as a blessing to protect this house against harm. It should help settle
the spirit that you have contacted. You do believe in spirits. This isn’t witchcraft per se, and it is of a
studies him for a minute, glances at the Slayer before making up her mind.
“I guess after
seeing objects flying about and having words written by a ghostly hand, I have
to believe there is more to the world than meets the eye. What do you need?”
retrieves the bag he has carried in with him. “I have everything in here. One
must always be prepared. Buffy, if you will?”
“Like a boy scout,
you mean?” Briony asks, her mood lifting by the minute.
snicker at the comment has Giles’ eyeballs rattling in his skull. He can’t help
but grin all the same.
away the tea things before Buffy helps her friend move the coffee table out of
the way. She sets out the candles he hands to her. When they are upright in a
circle, Giles opens the book he pulls from his case. She raises her eyebrow at
the title, Magio Blanco. Giles and Angel had used a spell from the book to
protect against a poltergeist the year before last, back when the other slayers
were alive. Back when she didn’t have their blood on her hands, back when...
“This is not
dangerous, is it? You look worried.”
the rigid lines of her mouth, and forces her lips to relax.
“No, it’ll be
okay. I was just remembering another time we needed to do this.”
up from the book, the memory of it in his eyes. “It worked quite well, I
words are barely audible. “Back when…”
quite.” His heart misses a beat. Murderer of children. He forces his attention
back to the task at hand. “Let’s get on, shall we? Light the candles please.”
Buffy does so
with his lighter, and when the wicks are well alight, she gently steers the
other woman away and into the kitchen. From there they hear his short Latin
sentences, a flash of light and then, nothing.
“Is that it?”
mention the boy’s name? Did he say why you need to be there?”
“Only that the
boy is in danger. I’ve told you this already, Giles. Weren’t you listening?”
looking through the window of Giles’ Discovery. The streets of Bristol
glide by in the dull autumn day. She is anxious to find out how the boy is
doing and hopefully she can protect him from further harm.
mention the name of the hospital at all? There are seven in total in Bristol.”
across to her Watcher with a guilty look on her face.
He snorts, “I
didn’t think so,” and she feels bad about her earlier snipe.
Giles. I was distracted, and you know how cryptic Angel can be.” Batting her
eyelashes at him doesn’t work. He ignores them with practised ease. She sighs.
“No matter, it
will most probably be the Bristol
for Children on Upper Maudlin
feels like thumping his arm really hard for teasing her, she gives it a light
tap. “And you know this how?”
sometimes operates there. It is one of the leading paediatric hospitals of the south-west
and his expertise is sometimes required. Besides, it stands next to the Bristol
hadn’t realised that. “Will Nick be there today, do you think?” she asks,
hoping that he will be. She likes the surgeon. He helped Angel in his time of
need and he doesn’t ask questions.
knows,” Giles replies as he pulls up to a set of lights.
hasn’t taken long. Bristol is not that distant
Giles finds parking at the hospital and they both make their way into the
building. Giles enquires after Nick at reception and it appears they are out of
luck. He is not on any list and Giles wonders, if he were would they be told?
Buffy asks the way to Intensive Care where they find not a few people hovering
about the waiting room. Buffy wonders if any are journalists. Bad news is
always good news as far as the media are concerned. They don’t care about the
feelings of the victims or their families, and Buffy cares less for
“You head back
home,” she tells Giles. “It’ll be boring, surveillance usually is.”
scans the crowd. “Are you sure, Buffy? I can wait with you. I know how much you
hate hospitals. We can try…”
“No. You go.
I’ll keep watch, although I suppose that’d be a job for you,” she says with a
smile, “and I promised Angel. He’ll be along later. Go. Shoo!”
insist. Be careful, and make sure you get something to eat.”
“I will. Now
hit the road before I kick you out.”
approaches the nurses’ station to ask after the boy, but when she hears the
nurse behind the desk coldly refusing to answer any questions about patients
unless next of kin, she veers away and hurries down the corridor. She has work
It is well
into the afternoon when Giles arrives home and in the driveway he sees a
familiar vehicle. He finds Angel entertaining the police, or rather, Ian
Collins, policeman and acquaintance, in the drawing room. There is evidence
that afternoon tea was had, Collins has been here for some time.
he greets the man, extending a hand.
clasps his in a firm shake.
Ah, this is a
formal affair, Giles thinks. “Angel,” he acknowledges, and he receives a nod from
the vampire. “Is this an official visit, or were you passing by?” he asks to be
and Giles relaxes.
“I had a hunch
and it seems as if I was right. I have received reports on the accident in
Trowbridge last night. Surely you have heard about it?” Collins’ question is a
“I have seen
the news, yes.” He can hedge as well as the other man.
Angel has already admitted he and Buffy were there.”
at the vampire. Angel’s shrug is barely perceptible. He looks back at Collins
and finds he is being watched.
They’re not in any trouble are they?”
not. When I saw that witnesses had described the two people pulling the injured
from their cars as one petite blonde woman and a tall dark-haired man, I
thought immediately of your two young friends. I am not here to give them grief
about leaving the scene. After all, they weren’t directly involved. In fact
they deserve a commendation. No, let me finish,” he says forestalling whatever
Giles has been about to say. “I wondered if they had actually witnessed the
crash. Unfortunately they hadn’t. As I explained to Angel, there is something
not quite right about the whole thing.”
his head and rises from his seat. Both Giles and Angel get to their feet. “I’ll
let Angel fill you in. I must get on. I’ve got an appointment I must keep.” To
Angel he nods. “Thank you for the tea, it’s been…interesting. Nothing is as it
seems when you lot are involved.”
To Giles he
adds, “I’ll see myself out. I’ll keep you informed.”
He leaves the
pair, wondering for not the first time how they managed to solve anything out
of the ordinary before Rupert Giles and his friends settled in Westbury. He rather
thinks it will be Giles informing him
about the ongoing case. In his car, his brow furrows when he recalls the
witnesses reporting the ease with which Angel had removed car doors. Somehow
Collins knows that the doors hadn’t been weakened enough for an ordinary man to
rip them right off their hinges. He blinks away the image of a sword slicing
through temple and brains. It is too fantastic to comprehend how anyone could
survive such a thing. But then Angel is
no ordinary man and Buffy is no ordinary woman. Thinking on that, Collins turns
the wheel and heads on down the drive.
Angel clear the tea dishes. He follows him to the kitchen where the vampire
proceeds to wash up.
“We do have a dishwasher,”
he reminds Angel, but grabs a tea towel anyway.
eyes do not lift from watching the bubbles swirl in the hot running water. “I
know. It helps pass the time.” His soapy hands turn off the faucet.
that Angel is alluding to fact that he cannot leave the house until the sun
sets and is bothered by it. Giles changes the subject, and dries.
Collins mean, there is something amiss?”
Foresters’ car appears to have run the light at speed, thereby causing the
crash.” At Giles’ look, Angel explains. “The children’s grandparents. The old
man was always a safe driver, at least according to his neighbours.”
“Then what is
it that has Collins concerned?” Giles sets the saucer to one side and grabs the
the plug and rinses the dirty water away.
“The man was
speeding. This is a seventy-two year old man. They are careful and slow.”
finishes up and begins to put away the china.
Accidents do happen.”
appears to have jammed down for no apparent reason.”
“They do that
back against the now spotless kitchen sink. “The old man had the car serviced
two weeks ago. His service book was up to date. And, his foot was on the
“It can still
happen.” When Angel doesn’t answer, Giles senses there is something bothering
him. He realises he hasn’t asked an important question.
“Why did you
ask Buffy go to the hospital?”
Angel walks away
without a word. Giles follows him to the study and waits for an explanation.
“I know the
boy is in danger.”
down in his leather chair. He notices a piece of chewed paper wedged under the
pile of mail he has left unanswered. It is the note that Buffy left for Angel.
The teeth marks tell the tale when he smooths it out. Those damned cats. He
crumples it back into a ball and throws it to the floor. That’ll keep them from
hasn’t pulled up a chair; he is standing by the book shelves, his fingers
running lightly over the spines there. Angel’s dark eyes are watching him, and
is that an amused smirk lifting the corner of his mouth?
his scowl doesn’t fool the vampire. “How?” he blusters, getting back to the business
a…woman last night…at the accident.” The fingers continue to caress the tomes.
Giles can see that Angel is thinking something through. His answers are
secondary to his thoughts.
“A woman? What
woman? Who is she?”
tell me who she was. All I know is that she is connected.”
blood out of a stone. The Watcher sighs. “Angel, get to the point!”
leaves off his love affair with the books and settles in a chair.
“The woman is
a spirit, a ghost, a revenant.”
Giles leans forward. “You could tell?”
“If you mean
was she shadowy or incorporeal, no. She appeared as solid as you and I.”
“And yet you
He got a look
from Angel that was too like Buffy’s.
“Of course you
knew. What did the woman say?”
A shiver runs
down Giles’ vertebrae.
“Help him? Are
“Giles, I know
what I heard.”
“No, it’s not
that, Angel. The case we were on this morning. The Middletons had a poltergeist
or some ghost haunting their small dwelling. They have been playing around with a Ouija board.”
Angel can hear the derision in the Englishman’s tone. “We placed a protection
spell on the flat, but now I think it was too late.”
“You think it
“There was writing,
two words. ‘Help them.’”
phenomenon has not returned since the time of the accident…”
that it is not a coincidence. There are too few of those in their line of work.
“It may have
been a message to help the family and now it is too late. The boy is the only
one left to save.”
“Did you know
about the Foresters before you rang Buffy?”
“No. I know
the woman wants me to look after the boy. I didn’t know why at the time, only
that he must be in danger.”
the reason, Angel. It is what we do.”
hears the echo of ‘Help the Helpless,’ at the end of the Watcher’s sentence.
Apparently helping the helpless is possible from beyond the grave.
despondent that the others cannot be saved, Angel looks away. “The boy’s name
is Peter Marchman, his sister was called Emma.”
the parents? Where are they?” Giles has his note pad out and is writing down
all relevant information.
looks back at his friend. “The father is dead, seven years since. The mother
remarried a couple of years ago.”
sounds as if our friendly bobby has filled in all the blanks. Are the parents
in danger? The message was, help them. Maybe it isn’t too late to save the rest
of the family.”
that the vampire’s hair doesn’t move an iota when he shakes his head. “The
mother died over a year ago, an illness. It is
“But why would
anyone want to kill an entire family?”
words are bleak and a chill runs through Giles. He feels the hairs on the back
of his neck rise.
He stares at
the vampire. Angel stares back, his dark eyes unflinching. Giles swallows and
clears his throat.
“I guess we
have work to do.”
Pretending to be
busy, head down, the Slayer’s peripheral vision allows her to observe without
being noticed. Right now she is watching the man by the bed. He is about Giles’
age, may be younger by five years, she guesses, although it is hard to judge,
being decades younger herself. His ginger hair is thinning and she can see that
he could be considered handsome by some. It looks as if he is in good physical
shape too. A nurse bustles in and glares at Buffy before taking the vital signs
of the boy in the bed. Peter Marchman had been transferred from Intensive Care
to Ward 33 after undergoing surgery.
Buffy finishes straightening the towels in the en suite bathroom. While
the nurse is in the room, she leaves but doesn’t go far. Buffy has been in and
out of the ward all afternoon watching every visitor and what they did. Most
have been doctors and nurses, and now, this man. He must be the father, and it
is Buffy’s job to find out.
She ambles by
the nurses’ station and bats her eyelashes at the male attendant. He doesn’t stand
a chance. She leaves with his phone number, and the name of the man at the bed.
He is not the father; he is the step-dad, Morris Goddard. If Buffy had
reservations about him before, she is even less inclined to like him now. There
is something cold about his eyes. His body language speaks volumes to her and
none of them of the good.
The ward has
twelve individual rooms; six are close to the nurses’ station for those
patients that require close observation. She notes that a complex computer
system is busy monitoring most of the young patients. The boy is in one of
these rooms. At each end of the ward there stands a bay of four beds. Some are
occupied. Buffy stares at one child, tubes snaking from her body, into machines
and out, her mother quietly reading by her side. The mother looks done in, the
child almost, and the girl’s brown curls all but covered with bandages. Buffy
remembers why she hates hospitals. They harbour so much pain and misery, and
she feels so helpless.
voice has to say it twice before Buffy realises she has been spoken to.
around, Buffy sees a small figure in the last bed. A machine with flashing
numbers is attached to the child.
“Can I help
you?” she asks the little blonde person vying for her attention.
Eyes as blue
as the sea peer up at her. “I need to go potty and I can’t get out of bed.”
blushes, embarrassed for the little, she looks up at the name above the bed,
“Hi, Julia. My
name is Buffy.”
You’re pretty.” The girl is not shy.
Julia. I think you are pretty too.”
as Buffy fusses about looking for a bed pan. The little girl smiles at her.
in the cupboard down that way.” She points Buffy in the right direction and the
Slayer hurries to fetch the pan.
When she gets
back, Julia says, “You’re new here, aren’t you?”
the girl sit up and looks away for her benefit. She hears the tinkle of liquid
“How did you guess?”
she answers with a chuckle.
now,” the girl says with no embarrassment at all, and Buffy quickly enters one
of the toilets and flushes the evidence away. After washing her hands she goes
back to see if Julia needs help with anything else.
and Buffy asks her where her parents are.
in the morning before he goes to work and Mummy visits after my brothers go to
school. She’s at home now. They may come after tea.”
Julia. Your mummy and daddy must love you very much.”
you have a mummy and daddy?”
hesitates. Does she tell the little girl that her mother is dead? She gazes
into trusting and intelligent eyes, and makes her decision.
“My mummy died
a few years ago, and I don’t know where my dad is.”
arm reaches out and her tiny hand pats her arm. Buffy feels like crying. She
gently hugs the girl and whispers, “I have to get back to work.”
“You have to
watch the new boy,” the girl says.
Buffy is chagrined.
her voice into a conspiratorial whisper. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Buffy winks at
Julia and kisses her cheek.
sweetie. I’ll come by later, I promise.”
A familiar face
appears through the doors of the ward. It is DCI Collins. Buffy busies herself
at the linen closet and when the policeman approaches Mr Goddard. Buffy scoots
closer so she can hear. Her phone trills in her pocket. There’s a notice on the
wall next to her that reads ‘Do not use your mobile phone in the hospital’, and
so she curses under her breath, and rushes away before someone investigates and
finds her there. It is Angel, and before he can say anything she tells him
where she is, and that the policeman is there and she has to get back to
eavesdropping. Closing her phone she sees Julia watching her. Buffy gives her a
quick wave as she slinks back to her listening post. She is in time to hear Ian
ask why the children were with their grandparents; where was he, and did they
have any enemies.
voice is melodious; sing-song almost.
parents doted on the children; of course they spent time with them. A lot of
the time, they stayed over. They were on their way to London,
Inspector. Some show the children wanted to see, and I didn’t expect them back
until the end of the weekend. As for where I was, I was at home. The servants
can vouch for me. I don’t know why you ask me that. Was there something wrong
with the car?”
She can hear
an edge creep into Ian’s voice. “And why do you think that?”
The answer is
quick and Goddard doesn’t sound at all flustered.
supposition, Inspector. Unless Edward had a heart attack, some illness maybe
that made him crash the car?”
are only routine, Mr Goddard. Your in-laws’ car has had a cursory inspection;
there will be a more thorough examination. The coroner will of course be
looking for any signs that may have contributed to this tragedy.” She hears him
cough. “I am sorry to have intruded at a time like this.”
“Not at all,
Inspector. You are only doing your job.”
footsteps and voices heading her way. She scurries away down the hall to avoid
being seen. Behind her a doctor and nurse enter the boy’s room. Her throat dry,
Buffy finds a basin in a small niche along the wall, and against all
regulations tilts her head and allows the water to flow into her mouth.
straightens to find Ian Collins staring at her. His lips form a smile and she
is sure that he has a twinkle in his eyes.
her mouth but Ian holds up a hand, palm up in a shushing gesture.
and now you.”
“I’ve just come
from Summerdown. We had reports of a young couple matching your description at
the scene of the accident. It didn’t take much to put two and two together. You
do take your public duties seriously.”
what the heck, might as well come clean. “Well, you know how we Americans are.
Always in the way.”
and shakes his head. “Let me know if you find out anything.” As he nears the
corner, she hears, “Nice look by the way.” He leaves her there with her mouth
Giles is alone
in his study, Angel having left for Bristol
as soon as the sun had disappeared over the horizon. His computer is on, and
has produced good results for their efforts.
They have the
deceased mother’s name, Lynnette Goddard, was Marchman, nee Forester. The poor
woman passed away in the summer of last year. She hadn’t been married two
his notes again. Miss Forester married a James Marchman, a handsome man, and
the love of her life. James was a photographer and his family are what they
call bluebloods, connected to the aristocracy, centuries back. Although James
Marchman didn’t have a title, a distant cousin does. James died in an
unfortunate accident. The helicopter he was a passenger in hit a power line;
the machine plummeted, killing his friend and pilot, and James. The children
were babies and Lynnette Marchman mourned her husband for five years. Along
came Morris Goddard, paid court to her and a year later they were married.
Lynnette Goddard inhabit the home of James Marchman, a historic house in
Chippenham. How convenient for Morris, Giles thinks, and dislikes the man
without having ever met. Two years later, Lynnette was dead, and now, her
parents and her young daughter. The boy and her second husband are all that are
left. Again, convenient.
If Angel is
correct, and Giles is certain he is, the spirit of Lynnette is trying to
protect her family, and now all she has left is her son.
his glasses and polishes them with his ever-present handkerchief. Repositioning
them on his nose, his gaze falls on the morning paper. His mind cannot absorb
the mundane and he subconsciously searches for the bizarre, the oddity. A small
piece, not more than a paragraph long, informs him that a toddler has raised
the alarm thus saving himself and the household from a house fire. The tot had
used the phone – Giles frowns – that had been disconnected. Enquiries are
“How odd,” he
mutters, and makes a mental note to follow it up when he can.
“I like it,” a
deep voice says next to her ear, and Buffy refuses to let her lover know how
startled she is because she hasn’t sensed his approach. She has been too busy
keeping an eye on young Peter Marchman.
Knowing he can
hear her heart beating furiously, she rounds on him, notes the leer that pulls
at his lips, and decides to run a suggestive hand over her nurse’s uniform.
your sponge bath, sir?” she asks in a husky voice.
darken and she sees the promise there. “As long as you’re doing the sponging,”
the arm that tries to circle her waist. “Sorry, we’re not allowed to fraternize
with the patients. Particularly the old patients.”
With a wounded
look on his face, Angel places a hand over his heart.
“What is it with you men and a woman
in a nurse’s uniform?”
“Do I really
have to show you?” he asks.
considers the notion and then sobers. “Another time, Angel.”
They have work
to do, a boy to protect. Angel peers in at the lad before they leave. His eyes
harden and his mouth sets in a grim line. Buffy knows that look and decides
that he needs to meet someone. She steers him over to Julia. The girl is only
pretending to be asleep. She opens her eyes when she hears her name.
says, “this is my boyfriend, Angel.”
go wide when she looks up at him. Angel’s smile is dazzling.
“Hey, Julia. I
see that you know my girlfriend. Has she been looking after you?”
really an angel?” the girl asks, all excited at meeting someone new.
“No, it’s just
a name. Pleased to meet you.” He holds out his hand and her small fingers get
lost in his palm.
boyfriend is pretty.”
If Angel could
blush, Buffy is sure he would have.
He can blink,
however. “Uh, thanks. I think you’re very beautiful too.”
It is Julia
who blushes. She giggles and wriggles further into her blankets.
want to say goodbye to the brave little girl but she must.
“We have to go
now, Julia. I promise I’ll come back and visit. You be good.”
With a lump in
her throat too big to swallow, Buffy tugs at Angel’s arm, laces her fingers
through his, and leads the way to the utility room where she has stashed her
clothes. Angel guards the door while she changes.
She pulls her
arms through her blue sweater and stretches the wool to fit. “Morris Goddard
has left. Although they do have visiting hours, most parents are welcome to
stay longer. They even have a cot for parents who don’t want to go home. He
chose to go.”
“Has the boy
Buffy zips her
pants and hops on one foot trying to roll her socks over her toes.
“No. I think
he is going to be okay. There is head trauma, but the doctors are sure that
there will be no permanent damage. He has two broken legs, cracked ribs,
compressed lungs and multiple contusions.”
An arm is
suddenly there and a strong hand
helps her balance.
Angel asks, and when Buffy looks at him, she can see a raised brow and a very
manages to wrestle the sock on, and attacks the other foot. “I hate hospitals, you
know that. I think a little of the medical speak has rubbed off. There!” Buffy
has her socks and then shoes on and handbag over her shoulder. “I’m ready. I
presume we are going to check on daddy dearest?”
“Giles and I
both agree that he is the likely candidate. What did Ian have to say?”
Few notice the
couple, deep in conversation, leave the building.
Buffy sees Bath
go by, regretting for a moment that they aren’t heading for their bed there,
but the regret is fleeting. The memory of Peter Marchman lying orphaned in his
bed is enough to make her cry, which she won’t, because she’s mad. She wants
Angel to hurry. Morris Goddard has murdered most of his family and she is going
to make sure that he doesn’t get the chance to finish the job.
The A4 runs
from Bristol, through Bath
and various other towns on its way to London.
It also goes through Chippenham. The way Angel is driving, the drive won’t be a
long one. He can feel Buffy’s anxiety, he shares it too. The lad’s plight has hit
a nerve. Peter reminds him of Connor and how he grew up in the cruellest way
with a cruel man posing as his father. His son had been denied the love of his
real father, and he would have done anything for his boy. He had done the
impossible, given Connor a new start and a new family that loved him. His hands
tighten on the steering wheel as his grief for lost opportunities threatens to
overwhelm him. What will become of young Peter? Are there relatives willing to
take him in, care for him, love him? Angel knows he cannot make it better, but
he can make it safer for the boy, at least give him a chance. It’s all he can
They do not go
directly into Chippenham. The Markham
family home is situated in the surrounding countryside which is sprinkled with
wonderful historic houses. He pulls off the A4 and soon the road has meandered
into a country lane. Buffy is thankful for vampire eyesight, the road is not at
all well lit, besides which she is hopelessly lost. As they approach the house,
Angel can see it is a manor house, seventeenth century, he guesses, maybe
earlier. To Buffy, it looks like a home, a place where a family can grow.
The car purrs
to a stop on the driveway and they both exit to stand before the house. The
looming doorway, set within an arched alcove, beckons. The vampire doesn’t set
foot on the small step, he knows he cannot enter. He hangs back. Buffy gives his hand a squeeze, throws him a
cheeky grin, marches up to the door and rings the ancient bell hanging there.
than Morris Goddard answers the door.
and tries to sound official. “We’re sorry to call so late. My partner and I are
here to speak to Mr Goddard about the accident. DCI Collins sent us.”
cadaverous person holding the door open blinks at her, and the eyes look past
her to the darkness beyond. The voice is as harsh as gravel itself. “One moment
closes. Wide-eyed, Buffy twirls to face Angel. He’s back among the shadows, but
she knows he is there.
“Did you see
him? Are you sure this isn’t the Addams’ family home?”
can’t see it, she hears his frown. “Addams family?”
tall monster-looking butler. There was Thing, he was a hand, no body, and I think
Grandpa was a vampire.” Buffy giggles at the image of the short tubby man
dressed in the traditional tuxedo that is supposed to be the uniform of
reason why Angel finds the fact Grandpa is more interesting than a disembodied
hand. Angel is a mystery himself.
The door opens
and Lurch is back. “Please, come in. Mr Goddard will see you both in the
back at her lover. Stepping over the threshold she waits, and when he
approaches the door holds her breath, letting it out only when his foot hits
the carpet inside.
closes the door and leads the way down the hall. Buffy had surmised the house
would be full of antiques and all things classy. She is surprised to see a
large mirror beneath which stands a small table; a vase of freshly cut flowers
adds a splash of colour. A comfortable-looking chair sits nearby waiting to
take the weight of a patient caller. The carpet is well-worn if not a little
threadbare. Inside the drawing room is one of the biggest fireplaces Buffy has
ever seen. Two grey wingchairs stand to either side; the beautiful carpet they
sit on is exquisite. The magnificent mantle of the fireplace draws her eyes to
the ceiling. Is it low or is the looming form of her lover giving it that
scrutinises the room. He has been in manor houses before, many of them as
Angelus looking to feed off the gentry and their servants. The house is
comfortable, not ostentatious, a family home. On the window seat a children’s
book sits. A jigsaw puzzle lies unfinished next to it, the two small pieces of
the puzzle upside down on the board. Angel tenses. Things are not what they
seem. Buffy notices his preoccupation.
wrong?” she asks in a whisper.
things. The manor will have a playroom.”
have time to speculate. Their host appears, and she wonders again at the
coldness lurking behind his eyes when he turns those pale irises her way. The
same eyes travel to Angel and it isn’t her imagination that the pupils widen.
Behind the pale eyes, something slithers, something sly.
Angel knows he
has been made. The man before him recognises what he is. Either Morris Goddard
has had dealings with vampires before, or he can sense it, which means the man
isn’t quite what he seems. He inhales deeply trying to catch the scent of
demon. His finely attuned nose tells him the man is just that, a man. A wrinkle
creases his forehead. His nose doesn’t detect any fear.
A smile snakes
across Goddard’s lips. “Who are you people?”
offer them a seat; he crosses his arms and waits for an answer.
sent us. We have a few questions…”
stepfather interrupts her. “I’ve already spoken to Inspector Collins. Who are
you?” A frown appears, he narrows his eyes at Buffy and adds, “Don’t I know
from his corner of the room, Angel answers, “Buffy Summers. I’m Angel.”
I don’t have to answer any of your questions. You have no right to be here.”
me in.” The menace in Angel’s voice is palpable.
to rattle the man some more. “The accident in which your wife’s family,” she
almost says, were murdered, “perished, wasn’t an accident.”
is feigned, Buffy can tell. Angel doesn’t hear the man’s heart speed up; in
fact it is beating rather slowly. His frown adds another wrinkle to his
Really? Isn’t it too soon to come to that conclusion?” Morris, in his fake
distress, wobbles over to one of the wingchairs and sits.
Buffy is not
buying it. “No, how, why, or who could?”
his hand from his head. His face is eerily calm. “Are you accusing me of
killing my own family?”
your family, and now, they’re no one’s.”
in mock indignation and tries unsuccessfully to intimidate the Slayer by
towering over her. “I think you had better leave or I’ll call the police! Get
her ground and raises her hand to push him away from her. There is no need.
Goddard slumps over, and she jumps back to watch him fall in an unconscious
heap to the ground. His fist still clenched, Angel stares at the man he has
“Hey! I wanted
to do that! And, can we do that? What if we’re wrong?” Buffy worries at her
bottom lip and stares at her lover for reassurance.
“Does it feel
wrong?” he asks her before he starts searching the room.
him. “No. Is he a demon? He doesn’t give me slayer wiggins.” She stops looking
for…“What are we looking for?”
Angel turns to
face her, curtain ties in hand. “First we tie him up.”
take long to truss up the owner of the house. Buffy thinks the man doesn’t
deserve any comfort when Angel props him up in a chair. She would rather Morris
lie on the floor.
“What are we
looking…,” Buffy stops because Angel has moved so quickly he is beside the door
when it opens.
and Angel grabs hold of him, his arm around the butler’s throat.
Buffy holds up
her hands and the only thing she can think of sounds lame even to her.
here to steal anything.”
him some air.”
flushed with the effort of dragging in much needed oxygen, Lurch manages,
relinquished his hold on the man, only loosened it. “What?”
Only then does
the vampire let the man go. He pushes him further into the room and closes the door.
Lurch stares at his employer before looking across to Buffy.
his hands are shaking when he points to Morris Goddard.
waiting for some one to come. This man is a monster.”
across to her lover. His face is completely closed off. She brings her gaze
back to Lurch.
“What has he
“I think he
killed madam’s family.”
“Do you have
but…things have been very strange and getting stranger. He’s made vague
threats. My wife and I would leave if
it weren’t for the children. He’s not at all upset about the accident.”
him Angel asks, “What’s your name?”
wife?” Buffy asks.
“We live in the
servants’ quarters at the back of the house. Are you going to arrest him?”
her arms, her back straight, all business-like.
“What did you
mean you think he killed madam’s family?”
dislikes the children, miss, the grandparents even more so. They were a
nuisance, you see, and he didn’t want them about. I know he had something to do
with the accident. I think he may have tinkered with the car.”
“Why didn’t he
just hand over custody to his in-laws?”
Angel has been
thinking it through. “The estate, Buffy. The estate belongs to the children,
and with them gone he may inherit.”
stares at the human-monster that kills for money. Vampires she can deal with.
People with souls that do evil, she despises more.
always like this. Mr Goddard and Mrs Marchman were happy. It was good to see
madam happy again after… It nearly killed the master when she died. He hasn’t
been the same since.”
question goes unasked. She notices Angel patting at his pockets, looking for
something. With a smile she produces her phone and waves it at him. A little
sheepishly, he grins back. “Ring Giles and tell him we need him. There are a
few things he’ll want to bring.” Angel proceeds to tell her what those are, and
then asks Andrews to show Buffy around when she is finished.
right, Buffy thinks, when Lurch, she can’t get that name out of her head, shows
her the playroom and the children’s bedrooms off that. The rooms are
immaculate. Everything put away, nothing out of place.
“The rooms are
very tidy,” she says as she fingers the coverlet on the bed. A bright purple
teddy bear sits waiting on the pillow. The girl’s room is a pretty yellow.
Flowers and butterflies cover the walls. Tears well up when she remembers that
the little girl who lived in this room won’t ever set foot in it again.
the rooms. Mr Goddard doesn’t like mess.”
“I see that.
It isn’t normal for a kid to be so tidy.”
The boy’s room
has pictures of planes and oddly, a picture of a bird. It’s an American Bald
She points to the photo.
“A photo that
Peter’s father took a few years ago. James Marchman was a news photographer but
he loved snapping wildlife. It is one of Peter’s favourites.”
Buffy is shown
the rest of the house, the detached chapel included, and meets Margery Andrews.
Unlike Jonathon, she is short and round, mousy-haired and extremely nervous.
Buffy assures her that everything will be fine, and leaves her and her husband
behind their locked door. The house is a warren. Upstairs and down, a girl can
get lost very easily. Jonathon had shown her the door to the attic, and Buffy
heads back upstairs to investigate further. The lock on the door is no match
against slayer strength and Buffy climbs the stairs behind it that lead to the
attic. What she finds sends her flying down the stairs to get Angel.
thing Morris Goddard sees when he opens his eyes is Angel sitting in the chair opposite.
The vampire faces the door. He struggles to sit before the fact he is bound
sinks in. He glares at Angel and manages to lift his hands a little. They are
bound together and then tied to his belt. His ears are ringing with the blow to
composure, his voice like silk, he says, “Come. We don’t have to be enemies you
and I. Tell me what you want and you can have
refuses to answer. His unblinking eyes stare at him, and Goddard licks his dry
“We can come
to some arrangement. I know you’re not police, and that you’re not human. Why
do you care what happens here?”
Angel is as
still as stone. An old and tried technique is to let the other do all the talking.
Some people, and demons, can’t help themselves. Morris isn’t any different.
continues, his tone a little more pleading. “You’re a vampire, a killer. You
don’t have to kill me. Your lady friend can have anything she wants. You can
have the servants.”
condemns the man. Angel allows his eyes to close in a blink.
Showing just a
hint of fang, he says, “Servants are an acquired taste. I prefer finer game.”
Adam’s apple bobs up and down in a nervous swallow. Now, the tang of fear
perfumes the air. Angel licks his lips, savouring the reaction, wanting to
kill, knowing that he shouldn’t.
“Immortality does give one the opportunity to do as one wishes. Please, let me
keep a grasp on mine. We’re the same under the skin, you and me. Brothers…”
The vampire is
on him so fast Morris doesn’t feel the slice of fang and the iron-grip of large
hands until they are gone. His yelp dies in his throat when he realises he is
still alive. The vampire’s tongue removes a drop of blood from the corner of
his mouth, and a look of pleasure blossoms in those feral eyes. Goddard knows
that he will die here. His head spins.
perspiration running down his face, “Please. Don’t kill me. Let me go and I’ll
leave, you can have the house and everything in it.”
is about to say is lost as Buffy bursts back into the room.
have to come and see…” He is vamped and
her gaze goes immediately to their prisoner, to his neck and the blood visible
there. A part of her is disappointed that he is still alive, but most of all
she is worried about Angel. Their trip to Clapham had unnerved both her and her
lover. Have those violent urges come crashing in again? Angel is used to his
demon, has dealt with it for over a hundred years. It can’t be that, can it?
She pushes her fears aside and using her well-honed instincts focuses on
another scenario. Angel is toying with Goddard. Torture by vampire, Buffy
muses, and then thinks not, because Angel has torture honed to a fine art.
Tasting, testing, whatever, Morris Goddard deserves far more.
still alive. What a pity.”
her lover slip on his human guise and smiles with relief when his head gives a
barely perceptible nod.
They both ignore
is more a growl when he asks, “What have you found?”
the Slayer puts her hands on her hips, and swivels them a little. “Promise
you’ll let me watch when you kill him, and I’ll show you what treasures I have
shakes his head and barely contains his laughter. “You are such a wonder. What
did I do to deserve you?”
She snorts. “I
don’t know. It’s a mystery to me.”
“Show me,” he
orders her and Buffy does so, not even giving Morris a second glance when Angel
picks him up one-handed and brings him along.
The attic is a
surprise. The cobwebs one expects, white, silver strands clogging up the beams.
These are black, shiny and gelatinous, and Buffy shivers. What sort of creature
spins webs like these? There is a thump behind her. Angel has dropped his
charge, none too gently, and sidles up to her.
A pallet rests
against the slope of one wall, a chair resides under the window and in the
centre of the space a large table sits. The table-top is covered with
parchment, dried herbs, unguents, candles, and are those eyes of newt? More of
the same fill the shelves that lean crookedly against the far wall. Angel’s
keen eyesight discerns a shelf full of books on the other side of the attic. At
least Goddard knows better than to allow sunlight to ruin the bindings.
Shop. This looks like the Magic Shop in Sunnydale.”
They both turn
to look at the bound man on the dusty floor.
think he’s a magician.”
at her. “Warlock is the appropriate term.”
male Wicca. We had one or two of those at Sunnydale High. Willow’s
friends, although there was this one guy, he was evil. He gave Willow
so much power that she became addicted to it.”
staring down at the man. Goddard is staring off into space. “Power corrupts,”
he says absently as he studies him.
A movement in
his peripheral vision alerts him at the same time Buffy cries, “Watch out!”
He ducks and something
black and glistening shoots past where his head was. A glass jar follows as
Buffy with all her slayer strength pitches it after the thing that was trying
to take a bite of his head. The jar shatters, spilling out pungent-smelling
herbs. The creature has vanished into the shadows and Buffy picks up the
nearest object she can use as a weapon. It is an agate pestle. Angel raises his
shrugs. “I don’t think the stake is going to do it.”
“And that is
She pats the
band of her trousers. “Where it should be, guarding my back.”
hunting. Buttons go flying as Angel rips Goddard’s shirt open. Hanging from a
chain is an agate eye. It stares out at him.
chuckles. Goddard glares at him and asks, “What’s so funny?”
A pale hand
rips the amulet from his neck, breaking the chain.
Superstition only. This won’t bring you wealth or overcome your enemies.”
fine so far.”
the smirk with one of his. “If you say so.”
and steps over to the table.
floor, Goddard sneers, “Aren’t you going to help her?”
fingers sort through the parchment, but his senses are attuned to the room and especially
to his love. She may be able to handle herself, stake or no stake, but he has
intent on her target. A blur out of the corner of her eye sees her twist and
smash the pestle against the roof. The pestle makes a hole but the creature is
come out, wherever you are,” she sings through her teeth and pounces when a
large black bulge moves in the webbing. Again she misses and she is ticked.
spidery-demony-thing you. Come and get me. See if your teeth are as big as your
and claws launch themselves at her from the rafters. The Slayer sidesteps,
twists again, and stomps down hard. A satisfying crunch can be heard. A sob
comes from Morris on the floor and a “Feel better?” comes from Angel.
turns around he isn’t even looking in her direction. His eyes are glued to some
old piece of paper in his hands.
“Did you see that? I vanquished my foe! Killed the beast and you never even
gave me a hand.”
Angel lets the
parchment fall to the table and starts to clap his hands softly.
A huge grin
splits her face. “I do, thank you. All I want is some appreciation.”
warms her heart. “I appreciate. You know I do.”
then. Do you think there are any more of these, ew, whatever? ” She lifts her
foot, squints at the gooey mess and scrapes her boot against the rough floor.
had better check.”
at them, his voice thick with grief. “You killed it! You killed my Pet. You
Buffy is not
sorry in the least. “Are there anymore?” She has a horrible thought. “Do you
think he left one of his pets at the hospital?”
bitterly that Tika was a solitary creature and quite rare. Fine, she isn’t that trusting, she is going
to make sure and she will be heading back to the hospital to check up on Peter.
and Buffy thinks the man is a mind reader, “You didn’t sense or see anything
did you, when you were there? When we’ve finished here, we’ll head back to be
mollified Buffy begins poking about, and decides that she needs her sword and
not her hands to investigate the disgusting mess of webs. A trip to the car is
needed but she sees that Angel has wandered over to the books. Already there is
a book in his hand.
“I thought you
“Mmm? Oh, I
him. Reading the title of the book is of no help at all. It is incomprehensible
to her. “What have you got?”
“Giles will be
where is he?”
surprised to see the door slightly ajar when he arrives at the house.
Cautiously he enters, ready for anything. The house appears empty although the
lights have been left on. He opens doors to check rooms as he passes down the
hall. Of Buffy and Angel there is no sign. He follows the hall until he arrives
at a very large kitchen. His shoes hardly make a sound as he traverses the
scrubbed stone floor. The rest of the kitchen has been modernised but the floor
remains as it must have been for centuries. Peering through the windows and out
into the night, he sees a beacon of light in the darkness beyond. Giles grabs a
large kitchen knife before he steps through the door and crosses the yard. The
small family chapel beckons and Giles accepts the invitation.
church his friends and strangers are gathered before a small altar. It gleams
bright with the light of a dozen candles. With a sigh of relief Giles joins
Buffy eyes the
knife in his hand with a raised brow. “Planning on using that?”
sheepishly lowers the blade.
“The house was
empty,” is his only excuse. He places the knife in his Slayer’s hands and opens
the bag he has brought with him.
that. We decided this was just the place we needed.”
remembers his manners and asks to be introduced. Mr and Mrs Andrews are an unlikely
pair, he thinks, and yet they seem kind and willing. Buffy explains what has
happened and what the couple have been through.
his gaze to bear on the man on the floor. His mouth has been taped shut. There
is blood on his collar and Giles’ eyes narrow, focusing on the tear in
Goddard’s throat. The man has been bitten. Giles shifts his eyes to look at the
vampire. Angel is a pace or two away, the candle light casting eerie patterns
across his pale skin. His face betrays no emotion and the Watcher wonders what
the vampire must be feeling this close to an altar. And why the devil did Angel
bite the man?
interrupts his musings. “When we’re done here, there is a room you have to see.
Giles, the man has enough supplies to stock The Magic Shop. There may be stuff
in there you want.”
his mouth and closes it again. Finally he manages to say, “Magic supplies? I
don’t suppose the particular items you asked me to bring are in that stuff, as you call it?”
across to Angel before looking back at her friend.
“I didn’t find
the room until after I rang you, and by then you would have been on the road.
Besides, you’re always complaining that you don’t get out enough. We need you
to work your mojo.”
touched at Buffy’s sentiment. They want him in the field with them even if it
is blatantly obvious the two of them could have handled the exorcism
Once upon a
time, the Watcher would have worried about Angel performing any sort of
exorcism. There have been times when the vampire’s hold on his soul has been
shaky at best. Since the Coven saw fit to bring Angel back, though, with his
soul firmly ensconced, Giles has had no such qualms. Giles ponders this fact.
He knows that Angel has performed exorcisms. Why then doesn’t this affect
Angel’s own demon? He remembers when
asking, Angel’s reply, “No, I wasn’t affected in any way.”
performed to rid a person of an evil spirit, a demon, whatever, that has taken
possession. Is a vampire a person
possessed, albeit it a dead person, with a demon, or is a vampire a different
being, the whole package, the demon? Angel doesn’t consider himself human, and
Giles has heard the vampire acknowledge that he is a demon with a soul. It is inconceivable to think of a demon
performing an exorcism. A demon exorcising another demon? Preposterous! And yet
he can verify that Angel has done exactly that, and, is there a danger? Perhaps
his concern for Angel’s soul has diminished, but if he wants to be honest, he does have a few qualms left.
that during his brown study the room has grown quiet. He looks around. They are waiting for him. He doesn’t know
what the Andrews know about his friends and he doesn’t want to alarm them any
further. Fat chance of that, he thinks, as he delves into his bag and begins
pulling the tools of his trade out. Two banishments in less than twenty-four
hours, he can’t say his life isn’t interesting.
“Let’s get on
with it, shall we?”
The first few
rows of the pews have been moved back to give them more room. Angel stretches
out an arm and lifts Morris Goddard as if he weighed less than a child, and
places him so that Giles can create a circle of binding around the man. The way
the vampire rips the tape off the man’s mouth makes everyone cringe. The yell
that follows confirms how painful it was.
is a demon inside of Mr Goddard?” Margery asks, not quite believing but hoping
it is the answer all the same. Stepping back and bumping up against her husband,
Margery is grasping at straws. She had liked the man when first introduced to
her employer’s beau. Everything had changed with the death of Lynnette
Marchman. She wants it back the way it was, and knows that it can never be. She
feels her husband’s arms squeeze her shoulders and she leans into him with a
yelling at them to stop. “You don’t know what you’re doing! You don’t have to
do this, we can work something out!” His yells become obscenities and he struggles
to worm his way through the circle.
a pair of handcuffs from her hand, her smile for Angel simply wicked.
“I won’t ask
you where you got those.” Giles’ look says it all as he eyes the bracelets. He
is clutching the jar of binding powder and standing away from Goddard’s
attempts at disrupting the ritual.
innocent, Buffy says, thinking of another time and another place that Giles had
reason to use a pair of handcuffs, “I found them upstairs. Do you think I carry
a pair of handcuffs around with me?”
both, Angel snatches up an old iron candlestick from the altar, and with
considerable strength he bends the iron into a U and jams it upside down in the
cracks on the stone floor. The stone chips, the humans wince but do not say a
word. Morris is still squirming when a knife appears in Angel’s hand, but he
stills when the blade nears his stomach. The vampire slices through the ties
that bind the man’s wrists to his belt. Barely glancing up, Angel snares the handcuffs
Buffy throws his way and snaps one cuff around Morris’ wrist, threads the other
round the candle stick and snaps it shut about his other wrist. The vampire’s
long stride takes him outside the broken circle.
“Thank you, Angel.”
The Watcher finishes what he began.
Giles throws a
concoction of herbs and powder over the struggling man; and something aromatic
fills the air. A splash of holy water is next and Morris roars. Angel is well
away from the water but grimaces all the same.
voice is no longer shrill. It has become deep, dry, a rattle of vocal chords.
The words are no longer English; in fact, both Angel and Giles know they aren’t
guides the butler and his wife to the back of the small church.
“You should be
safe here,” she tells them and hurries back towards the altar.
Giles has his
book out and is now chanting in Greek. Angel is poised, sword in hand and Buffy
snatches up hers. They stand ready, each to one side, Giles facing the altar.
Finishing the spell of Revelation, the Watcher closes the book of spells and
picks up his prayer book. It contains among other things the Rite for Exorcism,
in Latin of course. He reads the verses
that priests from centuries past have used to exorcise evil spirits. Goddard is
growling now and twisting about trying to escape. His wrists are gouged and
His voice now
a rising crescendo, Giles holds forth an ornate crucifix, and finishes the last
incantation with a bellow. A final sprinkling of holy water and it is done. A
blur, a shifting of senses, and Morris Goddard stops thrashing, his body goes
rigid, his muscles taut. The blur races away and tries for the door.
there, a blur himself. His sword meets something insubstantial. All the same it
veers away and races for a window. Buffy, already moving, leaps across the top
of a couple of pews and bars the window. A form is starting to coalesce.
Tendrils of mist are swirling, forming a figure within. Buffy stabs at it and it
flees…right onto Angel’s blade. It hangs there a moment, solidifies and slides
off the sword with a dreadful squelch.
nose wrinkles up as she examines the dead demon. The thing on the floor has
tentacles instead of hands. The eyes are pale and bulbous, and the skin has a
greyish tinge. It is ugly, and thankfully, dead.
Buffy looks up
at her lover, “I thought you said Morris was human.”
human. A demon or half-demon, I can detect. Some parasitic demons are not so easy.
We had to use psylis eucalipsis powder to get an Ethros to show itself. The
Thesulac we had to call forth, a little like we did with this one.”
“It was human,
almost. A little astringent. It’s a give away.” Angel does not say that the man
had virtually admitted his state of being before he took a taste. He is already
brooding on his own motives.
“Is this the
thing that was inside Mr Goddard?” Jonathon Andrews’ deep voice comes from
behind them. Buffy turns to find they are staring at the demon with
have believed it if we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes.”
“That is why
Angel and I wanted you here. To see that it wasn’t Mr Goddard’s fault. He
didn’t kill the Foresters or Emma. He wasn’t in control.”
definitely possessed? Is this an evil spirit then?” Margery is confused. This
isn’t the way the world is supposed to work.
Angel, answers her. “Yeah.”
Right in her
ear, Giles says, “Buffy! Keys for the cuffs if you please.”
Giles.” She digs about in her pocket and comes up empty. Sheepishly, she
shrugs. “I don’t think I saw any keys.”
rolls his eyes at her. He squints at the thing on the floor before stalking
away muttering, “So that’s what a dead Sathr looks like.” Angel follows after
Buffy looks up
at the butler, “I think Angel said it was a Misery demon.”
vampire strength, Angel tugs at the handcuffs about the man’s wrist. The lock
gives and Morris Goddard’s hands are free. The man stirs and Angel quickly
slices through the rest of his bindings. With one hand Angel pulls the iron
from the floor, straightens the stick as best he can and leaves it lying on the
altar. Giles moves in to help Morris, and Angel backs away from his
uncomfortable proximity to the cross.
up at a strange man looking down at him. He hears, “Can you move?” and he
thinks he can so he nods. Warm hands clasp his arm and he looks down at his own.
He must have cut his wrists, there’s blood. When did he do that? He feels
light, dizzy, his memory hazy. What’s wrong with him? He stumbles to his feet
and sways, and the stranger comes back into focus. He hears voices, some
familiar, others not. They’re in the chapel with candles, and…swords?
He cannot seem
to stand upright and feels himself falling. Suddenly his feet leave the ground
and powerful arms have him safe. A solid chest moves against his cheek and his
He wakes up to
find he is lying on the sofa in the living room. A woollen blanket tickles his
chin. A young woman, pretty, blonde, hovers nearby and when he rolls his eyes
away, he spies the man he saw before. Slowly he manages to lever himself up a
little. A glass appears before him, it is Jonathon with brandy. When he moves
aside, Morris can see Jonathon’s wife setting out cups for tea. A tall
dark-haired man leans against the wall behind her.
His lips are
dry and cracked, his voice croaks when he speaks. “Who are you people? What is
The older man
asks, “Do you not remember?”
back at him. “Your name, sir?”
Giles.” Giles gestures to the young woman. “I think you’ve already met Buffy
Summers and,” he nods towards the young man at the wall, “Angel.”
“What are you
doing in my home?” Morris shifts his gaze to Margery. “Where are the children?”
She looks away, avoiding his gaze.
He looks back
at Rupert Giles.
do you remember?”
thing you recall.”
Running a hand
over his face, he thinks back. “I remember wanting the pain to end.” Hand
shaking, Morris brings his glass to his lips and swallows a large gulp of brandy.
He empties the glass. The fiery liquid burns a trail down his throat, and his
mind at last begins to work. “I lost my wife you…” His voice trails off. He
stifles a sob, he cannot speak. The room is quiet while he struggles for
that now is a good time for the tea. He drops into a nearby chair and accepts a
cup from Mrs Andrews. He insists that she and her husband join them; they are
after all, part of the family. All but Angel take a cup. Buffy raises an
eyebrow at him as she passes him by, and he reassures her with a small smile.
He stands silent as the others pull up chairs; there is virtually a semi circle
about the sofa when they are done. Buffy sits where she can see Angel all the
to speak, it’s a lecture really. Tea cups in hand, the humans listen and learn.
employees and Buffy hear that Sathr demons prey on the emotions of the
wretched, the emotionally damaged. The demons feed on sadness and despair,
hence the common name, Misery demon. And, if the human is in such a state as to
contemplate suicide - the human defences being at their lowest - the Sathr can
possess their victim.
All eyes turn
to Morris and he has to duck his head. He had
been contemplating death all those months ago. He drank himself into oblivion
week after week, unable to bear the passing of his dear Lynnette. He cannot
even remember the names of the establishments he frequented. Some had been in
the city and, he is sure, quite disreputable.
“Wait,” Buffy says
into the silence, “why didn’t the Misery demon go after Lynnette Marchman? She
lost the lov…um, her first husband. Surely that’s a recipe for despair.”
right. However, Mrs Marchman had her children to live for. She would not
consider throwing her life away.”
flinches and unsuccessfully tries to disappear into his seat. He is weak, he
has always known it.
continues. The demon once possessing a body can set itself up to enjoy the
fruits of their victim’s life, and spread more misery. Sometimes the Sathr come
with pets, lesser demons that do their masters’ bidding. He suspects that this
is the creature that caused the Foresters’ car to crash. It would have been
easy for such a small thing to secrete itself away inside the car and cause
havoc at just the opportune moment.
Morris looks up and sees pity and anger on almost everyone’s face. He can’t
help it, his voice trembles. “Is anyone hurt?”
asks, “You don’t remember?”
shakes his head, Giles frowns. “Usually the possessed are aware to some extent.
How else can the demon feed on their misery? Mmm.” Thinking on that, Giles
finishes his tea. “It is fortunate that Angel has encountered the Sathr before.
It wasn’t until he confronted you,” Giles’ gaze slides once again to the
bandage on Goddard’s throat, “that he became suspicious. Unfortunate for the
Sathr, but lucky for you we could help.”
For a few
minutes the clink of china fills the silence as everyone reflects on what the
Watcher has said. No one mentions the fact that Morris hasn’t asked after the
children again. His head is bowed and one hand begins to furiously scrub at his
eyes. The china in his other hand rattles, his tea threatens to spill. Buffy
rescues the cup and the tea.
Angel’s dark stare hasn’t left the man on the couch.
knows it. She tries hard to think of something to say just to get Angel to look
away. “With all the misery in the world it’s a wonder there aren’t more Sathrs about.
Why is that, Giles?”
“That’s a good
question. Originally the Misery demon came from Norseland, Scandinavia,
land of the Vikings, hence the name, Sathr. They purport to be solitary
creatures, aside from their pets. It may be in their interest to not
overpopulate, jealousy perhaps? Who knows?”
You do, Buffy
thinks. Once again Giles has been in research mode. It wouldn’t have been hard
for him to bone up on the Sathr once Angel had proposed that that was what they
were dealing with.
The long frame
of the butler rises from his seat and his next words are almost absurd. “So,
everything is back the way it was, back to normal?”
Andrews has been very quiet. The nervous look she shoots her employer’s way
suggests that she is unsure and still a little afraid. Her husband is the brave
one in the family. She doesn’t know how she would have coped without his
steadying hand. Margery sighs. If he has it in his heart to help Mr Goddard
then so shall she.
how difficult this must be for them all. It’s not everyday one is confronted
with demons and the like. He hopes they can manage.
“As normal as
it can be. The demon is dead. He cannot hurt you or your loved ones. I’m sorry
for the way things have been, and for your terrible loss. If there is anything
you need, please feel free to ring me at anytime.” He places one of
Paranormal’s business cards on the coffee table.
“What do we do now? Is Mr Goddard going to be alright? Can we do anything for
he’ll be alright in a day or two. Coming to grips with the other will take some
time. This has been as harrowing an experience for him as it has been for you.
You can be a big help just by understanding that and making him see it too.”
the police?” Jonathon wants to know.
have to be told something, Giles thinks, but what? “What can one say? The
police won’t believe any of it. Leave it to us, we’ll sort it out. DCI Collins
is an acquaintance of ours.”
attention back to the slumped figure sitting on the sofa, Giles tries to
reassure him, but he doesn’t know if Morris is listening. It sounds inadequate
even to him when he says, “It isn’t your fault, Mr Goddard. Don’t blame
There is an
uncomfortable silence. Buffy hasn’t said much and Angel less than nothing.
Wanting to remove himself from the awkward moment, Giles gets to his feet.
“Buffy, perhaps you can show me that room, if that is alright with you, sir?”
The master of the
house just nods, unable to raise his head and meet anyone’s eyes.
Buffy has been
very aware of Angel’s silence. There is more than one person needing
reassurance here, and she is not sure that one of them isn’t Angel. She gives him
her best I-love-you smile and is pleased to see a slight lift of his lips in
response. She leads Giles out of the room and heads for the stairs.
At the top
landing and out of vampire hearing, Buffy says, “It’s not easy to forgive
lays a kindly hand on her arm. “He’ll manage. It won’t be easy, but he’ll do
Buffy is sure
that they aren’t talking about the same man. “Angel, I meant Angel.”
shakes off his hand. “Is he? You knew the difference, and yet you couldn’t
accept, or forgive,” she accuses, her heart aching now for both men
downstairs. She marches past the
bedrooms and down to the door that leads to the attic.
are measured and it is a moment before he catches up. “You’re absolutely right.
I, a Watcher, know the difference a soul makes. I couldn’t see past my own
pain…I do now.”
Her hand on
the broken lock, Buffy says, “I know, Giles, I’m sorry. You’re sorry, I’m sorry
and Angel most of all. What must it be like for him, to remember every
kill? How can we say, ‘get over it?
Forgive yourself.’” The memory of young girls, chosen in her need to save the
world, makes her ask, “Can we?”
His words are
soft. “We try, Buffy.”
haunt me,” she whispers into the door.
“I see them
“Imagine; tens of thousands.”
friend touches her shoulder she doesn’t shake it off this time. Buffy places a
hand on his and gives it a grateful squeeze.
It is Giles
who breaks the mood and says, “Come on then. Where are these magical supplies I
must take a look at?”
take their cue and begin to tidy up the tea things. They move quickly and
efficiently, politely ignoring Angel as they do so. Finally the vampire and Goddard are alone.
hear the man move but he sees with his downcast eyes Angel’s boots when he sits
in the chair Rupert Giles has vacated.
is soft and compelling when he starts to speak.
“I know you
remember who I am, what I am. I know you recall everything that has happened to
his eyes well up again. He can’t hear this. He doesn’t want to. The man, no
that’s right, not a man, a demon, refuses to be quiet.
“Giles is right.
You were possessed. It wasn’t your fault. You have to own it though,
acknowledge that it happened. You cannot pretend that it didn’t, because it
afraid. He doesn’t think he can live with the consequences of the Sathr’s
actions. He wishes the memories gone as before. He wishes a lot of things.
“Look at me.”
And he does.
He raises his head, and looks into eyes so dark he fears he will tumble in and
drown in those sable depths. He is barred from whatever thoughts reside at the
bottom of that deep well, and yet he sees what he is allowed to see. Hear me,
those eyes say, I know of what I speak.
“There is a
little boy who needs you.”
his hands are at his mouth trying to hold back his anguish. He doesn’t look
away, he can’t.
move an inch and yet it appears as if he has leaned in. “He needs you to be
there for him and if you can’t, he has his father’s family who can care for
him. Either way, you need to do the right thing. You cannot change what has happened,
but you can make a difference to what comes next. You have to be strong
whatever the cost. You cannot wallow in misery. That is what got you here in
the first place.”
down his cheek unheeded, Morris stammers, “I murdered my wife’s family.”
before him nods. There is a slight hesitation before he says, “That’s a start.
Maybe some day you can forgive yourself and then you can move on. Hearing that
it isn’t your fault doesn’t make it feel that way.” He looks away towards the
windows and out into the night beyond.
Morris feels a
rush of relief when his gaze is no longer locked in that intense stare. He
closes his eyes.
“How do I get
through it?” he whispers.
audible, the soft voice answers him. “One minute at a time.”
“You know,” he
dares to breathe.
There is no
answer and when Morris opens his eyes, he is alone.
outside crossing the drive. His boots make no sound on the gravel. Neither does
the woman who is standing there waiting for him. Her dark hair falls about her
face, and there is peace of a sort written there. Her lips curve up in a small
smile when he appears.
She nods and
looks up at the house behind him. He can see in her glance a wish, yearning,
desire. He waits for her to speak.
When she looks
back to him, the peace is back. “Thank you. My son is safe.”
“He will be.”
“And so I
believe is Morris. He filled the void, you see. I loved him for loving me, but
my heart is already claimed by another, and always will be.”
understand.” And he does.
Her smile is
like the sun, it warms everything it touches, and Angel can feel its glow.
for my family. They are with me.”
possible? His heart aches at the thought.
“The language of
the dead is incomprehensible to the living, but some things, like love, is
understood by all.”
It is the
truth. He cannot dispute it.
pale, a slim hand reaches for his face and he feels a prickle as ghostly
fingers glide over his own lifeless flesh.
“Yours is a
long journey. I don’t envy you.” The hand falls away, there is pity in those
want anyone’s pity, least of all from a ghost. A little harsher than he intends
he urges her to go. “Your loved ones are waiting.”
One last look at the house, and another his way, Lynnette turns and walks away.
She is a mere outline, fading, when for the last time he hears her voice.
what she means by that.
ANs. Not too
many, I promise.
As always a
huge hug and thank you to Jo without whom I wouldn’t dare.
I found this
on the net. There really is an Angel Spirit Board. Here is a site that sells
them and I hope I got the details right.
been to Bristol
or the Children’s Hospital, Mr Google, ever my friend, supplied me with the
information. I also used my imagination to fill in the gaps. I apologise if I
got it horribly wrong.
I have made up
the Marchman home and I have shamelessly used Sheldon Manor, which is just
outside of Chippenham, as my template. You can find photos and a little history
about the place here.
room and its magnificent fireplace I based on the photo I found of Burghope
Manor. It is the second photo at the top.
Here is a
little information about the rock, Agate. You can see there I improvised on the
pointed me in the right direction as regards to the Rite for Exorcism. If you
want to have a peek here is the site.
another site on exorcism. I see that Rule 20 decrees that the words of the
Bible are to be used. This doesn’t necessarily mean from a Bible. Prayer books
contain words of the Bible. I didn’t have Giles go through the stole thing etc
that priests do. I have used what I have seen from the Buffy and Angel shows,
especially the scene where Wesley and Angel exorcise the Ethros demon for the
ritual of exorcism.
Collins English Dictionary the Old English word saed (sad) weary: is related to
Old Norse sathr and I thought to purloin the Norse word for the name of my