|Primary Characters:||Willow, Angel, Oz and the others.|
|Warning:||some m/m sex|
|Description:||Someone from Angel’s past shows up and brings back memories and adds complications to Angel’s life.|
Angel was lying on the couch, aimlessly zapping between channels. For some time now, he had been feeling depressed and restless. Not more than usual, but perhaps his life with Jenny had spoiled him. He was if anything more happy now than he had been briefly with first Buffy and then Willow. It might just be his natural state of brooding that was reasserting itself.
Jenny, too, seemed out of sorts. When Angel had tried to ask her what was wrong, she had denied the whole thing. But he had a feeling something was bothering her. Knowing women the way he did, he also knew it was useless trying to get her to talk. Sooner or later, he’d find out. It wasn’t as if they were short of time.
Now he could hear her and Will leave the bedroom. He didn’t particularly wish to know what they had been up to.
“Angel, I want to go out tonight. Not to stalk demons or slay vampires. To go to a club or restaurant like real people.”
“Ok. Where do you want to go?”
“I was hoping you’d have some suggestions.”
Angel turned off the tv and turned his attention on Jenny. He did have a few places he liked to go, and nothing would please him more than being seen with a lady like Jenny. But before he had time to make a suggestion, Will beat him to it.
“If anyone’s asking me, which I haven’t heard anyone do, I know of a place or two we could go to.”
“Not this time, Will. I know all about the places you like to go.”
“What? Is there anything wrong with strippers? If you prefer, Jenny, we can go to one with male strippers. I’m alright with either.”
“Male strippers? What do I want with those? When I have the two of you? Tonight I felt like somewhere expensive, somewhere really high class. You know the dress I bought last week? I want to go somewhere I can wear that.”
“You’ll look fantastic in that dress anywhere.”
“How about Luigis’?”
“Now we’re talking. If you don’t want to come along, Will, we could always go without you.”
“No, I’m in. And when we get back, Angel and I could put on a show for you, love. What?”
“We’ll talk about that later. Now I need to get ready. Wear something nice, ok?
“Don’t I always? Angel, tell her.”
“We’ll both wear something nice, don’t worry about it.”
Angel’s car matched their look, and the guy who was waiting to park it for them seemed to take them for celebrities of some kind. Jenny was glowing with contentment. No one rolled out the red carpet for a computer teacher. And not for a gypsy spy either. But now that she was with Angel all doors opened for her.
They were ushered to a table in plain view of everyone, and Jenny could hear awed whispers about the way the three of them looked. She almost felt as if she was a movie star on the night of the Academy awards.
She was a bit concerned about causing a stir by ordering nothing but wine. But no one appeared to question their actions. Everyone seemed to mind their own business. So Jenny relaxed and allowed herself enjoy the evening. This was a life she had never dared to dream about. Though what she had couldn’t exactly be described as life.
And that was what was bothering her really. She was dead. End of story. Except for the fact that she wasn’t completely dead. Dead woman walking. Charming. The stuff that nightmares were made of. But tonight she would just have fun. Dwelling on unpleasant facts could wait. The longer she put it off the better.
Suddenly, she became aware of Angel staring fixedly across the room. She followed his gaze and caught sight of a handsome young man sitting alone at a table by the wall. Now Angel got up and seemed about to walk away from her and Will.
“Hey, where are you going? I thought we came here to relax. What do you want with that guy, anyway?”
“Sorry. He reminds me of someone. I have to talk to him.”
“You know him?”
“I hope not.”
“Anyone I know? The guy he reminds you of, that is.”
“Like I said, I hope not.”
And Will and Jenny were watching Angel’s back as he disappeared across the room. He stood over the guy at the table, and Jenny thought they were talking. To her astonishment, Angel now sat down at the other table, right next to the guy.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. The guy had to be a doppelganger. He had to be remembering him wrong. It had been so many years since he last saw – But as if the guy had read his mind, he looked up and Angel felt himself pinned to the floor by those big blue eyes.
It wasn’t often a man more than two hundred years old was lost for words, but this was one of those occasions. Angel felt as if his tongue was glued to his palate and his throat went all dry. At last he managed a hoarse whisper.
“I guess you didn’t expect to see me again.”
Though it most likely was an illusion, Angel felt weak in the knees and without thinking he sat down. All those years and it was as if no time at all had gone by.
Those blue eyes, filled with trust. Trust that turned to fear, as the boy realized what was about to happen to him. An exposed neck, a muffled prayer. Then the mad passionate sex, and the shared hunt. And after the curse, nothing. Until today.
“Oh, come on. You hadn’t forgotten about me, had you? There’s not a day has gone by without me thinking of you.”
There was something he needed to remember. Vampire. Bad. A threat to any mortal. But Angel’s mind was a jumble of memory fragments right now. All he could do was remain sitting there staring into those blue eyes and listen to the voice that he had all but forgotten, but which was rapidly coming back to him.
“I might not have been here, had it not been for the gypsies. Their curse. Sound familiar?”
Of course, everyone knew about Angelus who had become the vampire with a soul. But why was Sean talking about that? What did that have to do with him?
“You’re awfully quiet these days, Angelus. Not like it used to be. Cat got your tongue?”
“What are you talking about, Sean?”
“Us. You and me. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about me already. How time flies. A century goes by and not a thought of your old lovers.”
“That’s better. Obviously you remember something. How about this?”
Angel almost bit his lip when he felt the skillful hand on his thigh, touching him, squeezing him hard enough to cause pain. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself by pushing away Sean’s hand with his own. But he couldn’t sit here and be touched like that either, so he tried to move away unobtrusively.
Sean smiled smugly and stopped what he was doing.
“Yes, I remember. All of it.”
“After all these years, I can’t believe it’s really you. When I was struck by the curse, I wanted to leave everything behind and find somewhere to hide.”
“I know. It gets you that way, doesn’t it?”
“The curse. How it tears right through you, bringing back your conscience, your memories, but this time you know how evil those actions were. And you just wish you were dead. Really dead. Resting in peace under Ireland’s soil.”
So that’s what had happened to Sean. Angel had often wondered, who had killed Sean for the second time, this time forever. But no one had, apparently. Here he was. Looking just as young and innocent as he had on the day Angelus had spotted him, walking back from the market with the small change he had earned selling farm produce from his family’s smallholding.
No, not quite as innocent. That look in his eyes hadn’t been there. Had Angelus put it there? Or the years of suffering under the curse? It didn’t really matter. The curse too, was Angelus’ fault. It was bitter to constantly stumble across yet another one of Angelus’ unforgivable sins.
“I’m so terribly sorry, Sean. You didn’t deserve any of this.”
“Oh, but I did. My father would have had my hide if he’d known what I did with the handsome stranger by the side of the road. I never brought back the money they were dependent on. Not that they needed it anymore, after Angelus and I paid them a visit later that night.”
A middle-aged man, a woman prematurely grey, with a faced lined from worry, worry that turned into terror when she saw Angelus’ true face. And the children – Sean’s younger brothers and sisters – No. Angel kept telling himself the same thing over and over.
He wasn’t responsible for their deaths. The demon who had owned his body was. But if he hadn’t been enticed by the lovely woman who had been beckoning to him on another night none of this would have happened. Both he and Sean, and Sean’s family would have been sleeping their righteous sleep under the green grass of Ireland.
“Forgive me, Sean. Please.”
“What’s a bit of guilty conscience between friends – or lovers? Have you missed me just a little bit? No, don’t answer that. I can see for myself how much you’ve missed me. That lady over there? And William the Bloody. Spike. But he looks so nice these days, so I can’t help thinking he’s been cursed as well. And she too? Or is she mortal?”
“No. She’s one of us.”
“Did you kill her too, after seducing her?”
“Angelus killed her.”
“So the seduction came later. You don’t seem to have lost any of your other skills.”
With every word that hurt as badly as the curse, Angel flinched. The truth caused him as much pain as any torment he’d ever endured. Yet didn’t he deserve each word Sean lashed him with?
“What have you been doing all these years?”
“Keeping out of sight. Starving until I couldn’t bear it any longer and caught myself a rat or something like that. And until blood transfusions came into fashion. Oh, you mean why I haven’t come after you before? I needed time to think things through. And a few years ago it came to me. I wanted to see your beautiful face again.”
“You have to stay with us. I’ll introduce you to Will and Jenny.”
“Will and I know each other. In the physical sense. You hadn’t forgotten about that? After all, you were the one who – introduced us to each other. Sounds very civilized, doesn’t it? I’m surprised you didn’t give me to that cruel girl as well. What was her name? Drusilla. But of course she loved to watch. And so did you. It probably never occurred to you that it was you I loved. Not Spike. Certainly not Drusilla.”
Angel looked stricken. Exactly the sort of sad face that had made Willow try to soothe away the hurt with those small gentle hands. Jenny would have said something cynical and made love to him to help him forget. Sean didn’t say anything, but he seemed to be expecting something from his sire.
And Angel gave it to him. Words wouldn’t do, so he ignored his own feelings and placed his hand over Sean’s on the table. In this city it wouldn’t attract undue attention, and besides, a hand held didn’t necessarily mean anything. And Sean responded as he always used to. His tense face relaxed into the brilliant smile that Angelus had loved so. Even the eyes lost some of their cold.
“Introduce me to them. It will be interesting to meet your lady and see if William has changed since we last met.”
“Sean – He might try to hit on you. That’s his way. But I give you my word he’s not going to touch you. And Jenny’s nothing like Drusilla. She’s a good, kind lady.”
“You wouldn’t have it any other way these days, would you? Is Drusilla still alive? I mean -“
“I know what you mean. And yes, she is. More of my unforgivable weakness.”
“And the Slayer hasn’t finished her either?”
“I don’t think so. She would have let me know.”
“This is truly wondrous. A vampire who is friendly with a Slayer. And there was more to it than that, right?”
“You seem to have followed me closely.”
“Talk travels fast. Shall we?”
Sean put some money on the table and followed Angel over to his table.
“Jenny, this is Sean. Another childe of mine. And Will -“
Angel couldn’t read Will’s tone.
Even his lovely eyes were shaded, as always when he didn’t want to be read.
“Hello, Sean. Angel?”
“Yes, he’s one of us. The gypsies cursed him too.”
“Were you with Angelus when he killed her?”
“No. But they must have known about us. Hardly seems fair, does it? I wasn’t even there and they had to go and curse me too. For being Angelus’ latest conquest.”
Angel hadn’t really thought he would be able to keep the nature of their relationship from Jenny, but he had hoped he’d have a little longer to adjust to the new situation. Jenny didn’t seem to react to that piece of news. She was always so understanding and he didn’t deserve her kindness and support. Most likely she realized how difficult this was for him and she would try her best to ease some of his pain, as she always did. That was some comfort. Not much, but some.
Angel never knew how they got through the rest of the night. All he knew was that they ended up back at his place shortly before dawn, and they all felt it was best to get some rest during the dangerous hours of daylight. There were a few awkward moments before it became clear that Sean had no intention of sharing their bed. After that, Jenny showed him to the guest room, with her usual grace. She returned very soon and curled up in bed beside Will. Angel didn’t join them. He retreated to the couch in front of the tv. Sleep was beyond him right now.
All he could think about over and over again was how much he still had to answer for. No matter what he did, he would never be able to repay the debt he owed so many innocent victims. At the moment he had forgotten all about the demon who had been controlling his actions back then. The guilt wouldn’t leave him alone. Now he wished he had asked Jenny to stay with him. Her words might have had a soothing effect. They usually did. Or maybe it was her lovely dark eyes, or her hands or –
But he didn’t want consolation. What he wanted was to atone for his sins. Ironically, he felt an overwhelming need to see his confessor. But the man had died hundreds of years ago back in Ireland. Not by Angelus’ hand, but still dead, peacefully resting until the Resurrection. Besides, no Catholic priest or any other would absolve a vampire. There was no redemption, no forgiveness.
And there was no cure for the memories that swept over him and tore through him with complete disregard for the pain they left behind. Angel covered his eyes with his hands and a soft wailing escaped his lips. Rocking back and forth, he gave himself up to despair.
Sean was right. Angelus had loved the innocent boy. He had loved taking that innocence away, enjoyed playing with his victim, not revealing his true purpose until he had had all he wanted from his living breathing body. And later. When Sean had become Angelus’ latest childe, they had lain together entwined, skin against skin. So enticing, so irresistible, so –
So wrong. The demon must have loved doing this to his body. To Angel’s body. It must have known how much he hated sex with men. Or had used to hate it until his body had spent so many years doing it over and over again. But it still took all his willpower to make love to Will. Love was the key word here. Not sex.
A barely perceptible sound made Angel look up sharply. Who was intruding on his grief? Or was it Jenny come to ease his pain? No. Over in the corner by the window he caught sight of Sean. The last person he wanted to see right now.
But Sean didn’t say anything. He just moved closer, as silently as Angel himself could move. When he reached the couch he sat down beside his sire and put an arm around his shoulders. And Angel buried his face against Sean’s chest and wept silent, dry vampire tears into the boy’s shirt.
Those hands still had all the gentleness they had had on that night. Not like later when he had become a vampire. They all enjoyed pain in varying degrees. Not anymore. Not always anyway. Loving mortal women had taught Angel about gentleness and sweetness.
After a while the worst of it passed and Angel began to feel ashamed of himself. A basic rule among vampires was never to show weakness to your children. But those rules didn’t apply anymore. Their souls were human even if their bodies weren’t anymore. Or not quite. Still, he pulled back a little. It wouldn’t be fair to give Sean any false hopes.
He didn’t withdraw far. As if he wanted to find forgiveness in those deep blue eyes, Angel kept studying Sean’s face. And Sean looked back just as openly. Gone was the distance and the chill. He looked exactly the way he had on that first night. Apparently Angel hadn’t changed that much either. Suddenly Sean’s face was moving closer until their lips met in a kiss that held much more of passion than Angel had believed was possible.
He felt his lips slide apart to allow Sean’s tongue entry. The cold wetness made contact with Angel’s mouth and he didn’t pull back. He let Sean go on kissing him. This was so familiar, so tempting. More memories flooded over him. His hands in the shoulder length hair. How he couldn’t keep from crying out in pleasure in response to the skills he had taught the boy. And Sean had been an avid student. Whatever Angelus had wanted from him he had given and more.
But Angel’s mind was slowly beginning to work again. Before Sean’s hand had managed to unzip him, before – How had the other hand ended up underneath Angel’s shirt? This had to stop. At long last he regained control and swallowing hard, he pulled back slightly.
“No, Sean. I’ve changed.”
“Changed? That’s not what I felt just now.”
If Angel had been capable of blushing he would have. Yes, part of him had wanted exactly what Sean was offering. More than he wanted Will.
“Please. I don’t want -“
The transformation was instant. Sean didn’t move so far away physically, but the way his face closed made him seem very distant.
Now he had hurt the boy again. Angel sighed. At least he made a sound very similar to a sigh. Naturally no air escaped his lips.
“Fine. I’m not going to force you. That’s not my way.”
Again there was an accusation in Sean’s words. Angelus had forced Sean to do things he didn’t want. And that included giving him to Spike.
“Sean, I – Things are different now.”
“Yes, I can see how different they are.”
“Not just because of Jenny. I’m not into boys anymore. Never was. That was Angelus.”
He could see that Sean didn’t believe him. And how could he blame him? It was all too obvious what the nature of the relationship between him and Will was, still, after all these years. There was no way he could explain how he gave Will what he needed to in some small way atone for all the pain he had caused him.
But he could do the same for Sean, couldn’t he? Why not? Because Sean wouldn’t settle for the same half-truths Will contented himself with. Angel knew that. Sean had been very young when he was made a vampire, but in many ways he was so much more mature than Will.
“I understand. You don’t want me anymore. That’s alright. Why should you care or even remember? I was only one of many. Over the years you’ve sired quite a few, haven’t you? I don’t mean all those you fed on.”
“I know what you mean. And you’re wrong. Each and everyone of you weigh on my conscience.”
“That is much appreciated.”
The irony in Sean’s voice lashed out at Angel again.
“Sean. I’m really glad you’re back, but I can’t give you what you’re looking for.”
“I said I understand.”
“Please stay anyway. We need to stick together. And if it means anything to you, I care deeply about you. I just don’t want -“
“What you taught me.”
The words cut him like the sword Buffy had buried in his chest. But Sean was right. It was all true.
“If I could do anything to go back and change what happened, I would.”
Sean seemed to relax a little.
“Alright. I understand. It’s not important. Perhaps I should get some rest. You look like you could use some. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you look positively mortal.”
Was it really true? Sean was joking. That had to mean he was beginning to accept the rejection. It was some small consolation. And Angel had learned to count his blessings, even small ones.
“Yes. Go on. I might be able to get some rest too. But don’t go away, please. I want you to stay.”
“That’s sweet. Anything you’ve neglected to inform me of, lover?”
Angel’s head shot round to face the newcomer.
“Will. I didn’t hear you.”
“No, that’s obvious. You were too busy staring into those blue eyes.”
No. This was too much on top of everything. Will’s jealousy was the last thing Angel wanted to have to deal with right now.
“Sean was just going to bed, and I’m going to get some rest too.”
“Good. I’ve kept a place for you. In here.”
“Ok, Will. I’ll be right there.”
“I don’t mind waiting.”
And Will cast Sean a look filled with possessiveness. With every fiber of his body he seemed to be challenging Sean to fight over Angel. This was mortifying. He had had to watch women fight over him, but he really drew the line at having two men compete over him. Especially when there was no contest. He didn’t really want either one of them.
“What’s up, boys?”
Jenny. Angel didn’t think he’d ever been that pleased to hear her voice.
“Nothing. We’re all going to get some rest.”
If he kept saying it over and over again, maybe they would all actually go and lie down. Angel could feel that the sun had risen outside and though no trace of its light could get through the thick blinds, he longed to stretch out his tired body and let go of all this conflict and torment for just a while. Maybe this time he would dream. At least he could hope for a miracle.
“Good. I was beginning to wonder. If there’s anything else you need, Sean, I can get it for you.”
Sean stared pointedly at Angel as if to say that he wished Jenny would give him Angel. But all he said was no thanks.
“Will. I think you’re keeping our guest awake.”
“Pardon me, pet. Where are my manners tonight?”
And stretching like a cat, Will disappeared back into the bedroom. Now that Drusilla was lost to him, he really loved obeying Jenny.
Jenny followed him inside. Angel really loved her for trusting him the way Will didn’t.
“Sean. I’m sorry about that.”
“That’s ok. Think nothing of it. Now I will take your advice and get some rest.”
Angel knew it was no use putting it off any longer, so he joined Will and Jenny in the bedroom, feeling sadder than ever. Why was he pushing Sean away when he couldn’t bring himself to do it to Will? He owed Sean even more than he owed Will.
To his relief, Will didn’t make any passes at him. In fact, Will was lying on his side, facing the wall, and Jenny was between them. She looked searchingly at Angel but didn’t say anything, just squeezed his hand reassuringly. He was so lucky to have her. Finally being able to relax at least a little, Angel gratefully return her squeeze, and so they fell asleep together.
Late in the afternoon, Willow, Oz and Doyle showed up and Angel was once again forced to go through some awkward introductions. Sean regarded the mortals with deep suspicions and Doyle with undisguised jealousy.
“I see. Not your usual type. Neither one of them.”
When his meaning filtered through to them, Oz blushed vividly and Doyle’s eyes shot sparks at Sean. How did he dare to make such accusations when he didn’t know the truth behind his and Angel’s relationship? If Willow and Jenny hadn’t worked their normal charm on the would-be antagonists, fists might have started to fly.
“Doyle and Oz have never been involved with Angel. And it’s over between me and Angel now.”
Willow’s honesty and sweet, cheerful demeanor seemed to have a disarming effect on Sean. He apologized for his assumptions and really seemed to quite like Willow at least.
But Doyle and he appeared to be destined for more antagonism. Just like Will and Sean. Oz, as usual, didn’t harbor any grudges against anyone for long. As far as he was concerned Sean had made a mistake, and that was it. Considering Angel’s past perhaps it was a natural misunderstanding, after all.
Doyle and the mortals had come to offer their assistance on tonight’s demon chase, and knowing how much pressure Angel was under at the moment, Jenny immediately offered to take Will along to cover the vampires’ end of the bargain.
“You stay here and entertain our guest, Angel. Will and I will get the bad guys.”
“But, pet -“
“Alright. I’m coming. Who can resist a night’s monster stalking in the company of two such lovely ladies?”
Will placed an arm possessively around Jenny’s waist, while taking an unashamed look at Willow’s short skirt and even more, her shapely legs. Just out of spite, he also took a good long look at Doyle’s rear end, but at the moment, the half-demon wouldn’t let himself be baited.
“Behave yourself, Will. I’m sure Willow and her escorts wouldn’t like you to get overly familiar.”
“Is she fantastic or what? My gypsy girl.”
And before Jenny could do anything to stop him, Will had playfully smacked her behind. To keep up appearances, and because she really couldn’t let something like that pass, she slapped his face. With a contented and proud smile, Will rubbed his cheek where Jenny’s hand had stung him.
Sean’s eyes darkened and a frown appeared on his pretty face.
“Gypsy? Jenny’s a gypsy?”
“Yes, I am. Long story. Do you have any objections?”
“Did you have anything to do with the ones with the curse?”
“Yes. But in the end, being one of them didn’t save me. Apparently, I was one of their least beloved daughters.”
Sean subjected her to a penetrating stare, then he shrugged indifferently and turned away. Apparently, the latest victim of the gypsy curse wasn’t his concern. The rudeness of his behavior seemed to strike him, so he turned around again and faced Jenny.
“Forgive me. My condolences.”
“That’s alright. I’m no longer with the gypsies. Angel and Will and I are a team. And we’d all love to have you join us, wouldn’t we?”
“You know I would.”
Will pointedly kept his mouth shut, and took advantage of Jenny’s distraction to let his hands move up her body in a very intimate and familiar way. The message was clear. Stay away, but while you’re here, take a look at what I’m doing. See what a man I am. I haven’t heard of any women in YOUR life, boy.
But Sean didn’t seem to notice Will’s posturing. All his attention was focused on Angel.
Angel too appeared more than usually distracted. He hardly noticed his friends and lovers leaving. Sean’s arrival had given him much food for thought.
The sound of the door shutting, leaving him alone with Sean, jolted Angel from his daze.
“Have you any idea how much I’ve been looking forward to this?”
Sean’s question caught Angel by surprise. There was something about the intensity of the statement that didn’t match the sentiment overtly expressed in the words. Something in Sean’s eyes alerted Angel to a shift in the atmosphere in the room.
But the words froze on his tongue when Sean launched himself through the air. Vampire face and fangs appeared, and in his hand was a sharp, pointy pike. It seemed to be made exactly for vampire killing. Angel was filled with a sudden wild exultation mixed with stunned disbelief. Part of him wanted this lonely endless road to be over at last. If Sean wanted to end it for him, why should he object?
But his vampire reflexes took over automatically, and he rolled away seconds before Sean’s body hit him, pinning him down. But the other vampire didn’t give up that easily. He attacked again, and this time, his frenzied effort was successful. Angel felt Sean’s body hit him squarely and he went crashing to the floor.
Sean didn’t answer. His face was contorted by some inner struggle. It would have been easy to push him off, but for some reason Angel didn’t make a move. Whatever Sean was figuring out, he would let him.
A cry of pain issued from Sean’s lips and violently he flung the pike across the room, and rolled off Angel in one graceful movement. Now it was the childe who was helplessly crying, silent useless vampire tears, his back to his sire.
Not wanting to intrude on Sean’s pain, Angel waited, still stunned by the violence of the attack. He didn’t understand exactly what had brought it on, but it was undeniable that Sean had every right to feel resentful towards him.
Finally, the sobs began to subside, Sean turned around and faced Angel. His shoulders drooped and he appeared totally spent. An aching tenderness inside Angel made him pull the boy into his arms and hold him close. It was a while before either one of them was able to speak.
After what seemed like hours in that cramped position on the floor, Angel dragged his childe over to the couch and made him sit down. He couldn’t deny he felt a certain amount of curiosity. What had brought on this sudden attack? And most of all, what had changed Sean’s mind? As if reading his sire’s mind, Sean now began to speak.
“I didn’t realize I was doubly cursed. But it seems I am. By the gypsies and by my love for you. I came here to kill you, Angel. For putting me through all this, pain and loss and most of all the curse. An eternity of guilt. You made me kill my family, you brought the gypsies down on me. But you are still the love of my life. How could I kill you, when my love for you makes me weak, even after all this time?”
“Why didn’t you kill me? If you love me, then you’d know the best thing for me is to find peace at last. No. I don’t mean that. There’s still so much to do to atone for what Angelus did. What I did. Darla tempted me all those years ago. If I had been a better man, I would never have let myself be led astray.”
“Darla, your sire. I saw her once, after I was cursed. I think I understand what you saw in her. When I saw what evil she was capable of, I wanted to kill her, but I was weak too. She was so powerful. Even if I wanted nothing more than to sleep forever, I was afraid.”
“That’s only natural. I had a long, long time to think things over before I became this renegade vampire hunter. And now I’m not alone anymore. Jenny and Will help me enormously. But what is even more amazing is how Willow and Oz, who are mortals, can be so brave. They never hesitate to stand with me against any kind of monster.”
“Doyle is not a mortal?”
“In a way. He’s half-demon.”
“Oh. I must apologize to him about the misunderstanding. It really is obvious he isn’t your type or you his.”
“You could say that. Doyle is a real ladies’ man.”
“And so are you, these days, it seems. But I know you always were. It was unfair of me to put you in that situation. Angel, what do I do now? I hated you for so long. It was the only thing that kept me going. Now I feel empty.”
“You must find something else to keep you going. But I’d really love to have you here. You know that.”
“Yes. I know. And your friends seem to like me too. Apart from Doyle and Will.”
“I’m sorry about that.”
“Don’t be. I provoked Doyle. As for Will – Let’s just say I understand him better than he might think.”
“Yes, Will is easy to figure out. The way his mind works is really rather predictable. But he’s a good friend and a loyal partner. When Jenny was first a vampire, she felt lost and wanted to die. Will helped me support her and give her a new sense of purpose.
“I know he’s not Spike. Just as you aren’t Angelus anymore.”
“It must be disorienting seeing things a new way. Whatever you need, I’ll be there for you. I want you to know you can count on me.”
“I appreciate that.”
Angel knew that his words were hopelessly inadequate. What Sean really needed was love. The sort of love he wasn’t capable of giving him anymore. What Angelus had given him wasn’t love either, but it must have seemed that way.
“Now I need to think over my situation, like you said. It seems I have time on my hands.”
Angel put an arm around Sean’s shoulders and held him for a while. Maybe he would be given a chance to make things up to Sean. If more of his children were around, he might have to arrange a round-the-world trip, and with Jenny’s help restore and bring back all the ones who were left. That way, he’d not only neutralize the menace those vampires presented to the world, but he’d also get a chance to make up for his past transgressions.
Towards dawn, the demon-hunters returned, after successfully having slayed another monster. Willow had taken her lovers and gone back to their new place. Angel knew they would be back the next night and almost every other night. It felt good to have such friends beside him.
This time, it was easier to fall asleep, easier for everyone. Even Will appeared less antagonistic. The look of spite had been replaced by a more pensive one. What worried Angel was that Jenny, too, appeared deep in thought. He was afraid she’d suspect there was something still going on between him and Sean.
But no one was inclined to discuss anything that morning. Soon all vampires were fast asleep in their respective beds. A slight weight had been lifted from Angel’s conscience.
The next night, Willow and her guys showed up, this time not for any monster hunt, but simply to spend time with their friends. Always warm-hearted, Willow was eager to get to know Sean better. Any friend of Angel’s was a friend of hers. With the exception of Drusilla, naturally.
Angel half-expected Jenny to demand another night out, but she didn’t say anything. In fact, she appeared to be exceptionally tight-lipped at the moment. Now that Sean didn’t weigh as heavily on his mind, Angel again wondered what was eating his lover. He didn’t like to see Jenny’s eyes so filled with pain. If there was anything he could do, he’d do it, without hesitation.
With mortal friends visiting regularly, Angel and Jenny had two refrigerators in the kitchen, one filled with snacks and other food suitable for mortal appetites. Soon the table was set. The vampires contented themselves with having a few soft drinks. It wouldn’t do to give Will half an excuse to get drunk. Especially under the circumstances.
Willow was full of stories from university, and Oz, too, had many exuberant tales to tell, about his music and also from his studies. Doyle was a man of fewer words, but he too contributed to the conversation. Unlike what was normally the case, Will and Jenny remained almost completely silent. That was very unusual.
Normally, the women would discuss computers and pagan topics. Angel was surprised Willow didn’t pick up on the changed atmosphere. But it could have just been tact. If Willow suspected a lovers’ tiff was behind the strained mood, she would never mention it. Unless she felt there was something she could do to help.
“I’m glad you’re all here. All Angel’s loved ones. There’s something I want to tell you.”
Everyone turned to stare at Sean. Oz’ and Willow’s small talk came to an abrupt end. What could the vampire boy be about to announce that seemed to be of such importance, judging by his serious tone of voice?
“Angel made me an offer to stay here and help fight vampires and other monsters, but I need some time to myself to figure things out. So I’m going away for a while.”
Angel stared at Sean in consternation. He had come back into his life, bringing back so many memories, and now he was about to leave again. Suddenly, Angel knew he didn’t want to lose Sean again. What he had said about feeling responsible for each and every one of his children was true. That was a bond between them that nothing could break, unless at last death claimed them forever.
He was uncomfortably aware of everyone staring at him. But right now he didn’t care what they thought.
“Please don’t go, Sean.”
“I have to. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not your fault.”
“Is it me?”
Now all eyes turned towards Will. No one had expected him to object to Sean’s departure.
“No, Will. I can tell the difference between you and Spike.”
“I’m sorry I acted like a child. There aren’t that many of us, so we need to stick together. Won’t you reconsider?”
“I appreciate your support, all of you. But this is something I need to do. But if you like, I’ll be back, when I’ve thought everything through.”
“If your mind is all made up. I’m actually looking forward to seeing you again. Angel always had good taste in guys, and in women too.”
“I’ll be glad to see you again, too.”
Jenny smiled warmly at Sean. Not a trace of jealousy. Angel found himself feeling slightly offended at that lack of emotion. But he wasn’t the jealous type himself, and most of all, he appreciated Jenny’s kindness.
Now Willow, Oz and Doyle added their reassurances to Jenny’s and Will’s, and Sean got up to leave. A vampire didn’t need to carry much luggage.
Angel too got up and walked Sean to the door. He would need the rest of the night to get on his way. Ignoring the audience, Angel pulled Sean into his arms and kissed him goodbye. His friends wouldn’t object and Jenny and Will wouldn’t either, he knew that. For a second Sean pressed close, then he pushed Angel away.
“I’ll be back.”
“You’d better. Don’t get yourself killed.”
“Don’t worry about me. Maybe I’ll go to Hollywood and see all the glamorous people. Times change.”
“That they do. Stay safe.”
“I will. And Angel -“
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Sean.”
When the door shut behind the vampire boy, Angel wanted to go after him, but he knew this was something Sean needed to do. And with all his friends, and his two lovers, Angel wasn’t alone anymore. He didn’t have anything to complain about.
So he went back to his guests and sat down. The rest of the night, the conversation was a bit subdued, but the strain from earlier was gone. Some time before dawn, Willow and her guys excused themselves. They did have school to consider, at least the mortals did. Doyle had other business to take care of.
Jenny too, excused herself and disappeared into the bathroom.
To Angel’s eyes she appeared close to perfect, but she always found things to do to enhance her looks. And he had to admit that whatever she did, the result was exquisite. He had expected Will to go into the bedroom, but he showed no signs of wishing to leave. And when he opened his mouth to bring up a topic that appeared to have been on his mind for some time, Angel realized that he had been trying to collect himself.
“Angel, there’s something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you.”
“Ok. And I just want to tell you I appreciate your support in this.”
“Once I stopped sulking, you mean. That’s me. Sulking. But when I’m done, I’m all smiles. But this is something else. When Spike abducted you to get his revenge on Buffy -“
Yes, Angel remembered all too well. That was one of the topics he usually preferred to avoid even thinking about.
“I’m sorry for what he did to you.”
“You don’t have to be sorry for that. Angelus deserved it.”
“But you didn’t. Angel, he raped you. I don’t understand how you can stand to make love to me after what he did.”
“Let’s just forget it, ok? I never blamed you for what happened. And it’s no use carrying a grudge against a demon.”
“I know. But -“
“No, Will. It’s ok.”
Will studied Angel’s face for a moment. Then he moved closer and held his sire for a while. There was no passion in the embrace, just affection. And Angel took comfort in the touch. The last day or two had been emotionally draining to say the least.
“Now I think I need my beauty sleep. Don’t stay up for too long, alright?”
“Don’t worry, I won’t.”
When Jenny emerged from the bathroom, her hair dripping wet from the shower, Angel was once again seated on the couch, this time much relieved. He could see that whatever was bothering his lover was still very much on her mind. With his own crisis averted, he wanted to draw her out.
“Would you like to talk about it?”
“About what? You and Sean?”
“There’s nothing to discuss. It’s over. I meant what’s bothering you.”
“Oh, that. Compared to your problems, mine are nothing. I never sired any new vampires. As far as I know, I only killed one or two people. I know, that’s two too many, but still, there are no centuries of guilt for me to process.”
“But something’s wrong, I can tell. If there’s anything I can do -“
“No. There isn’t. I’m just being silly.”
“Is it just a coincidence, or did this change come over you about when Willow and Oz came to live here?”
“No, it’s no coincidence.”
“Why? I thought you loved having them here.”
“I do. It’s just that they remind me of what I’ve lost.”
“I’m sorry. We could ask them to focus more on their studies.”
“No. I told you, I’m just being silly. It’s just that Willow’s so young and pretty and -“
“You’re as pretty.”
Jenny smiled sadly at her lover.
“And she’s alive.”
“She’ll grow old and die.”
“Growing old and dying suddenly don’t sound so bad. I was kind of looking forward to growing old with the right man.”
“Was that Rupert?”
“Angel would do nicely. And Will too. But that’s no option anymore.”
” I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll get over it. Willow and Oz were my favorite students, and I’ll always be grateful to her for restoring my soul. Like I said, I’m just being silly.”
“What do you say about a little vacation?”
“Yes, you know. Lying on the beach, seeing the sights, shopping. Just you and me. And Will.”
“Do you think we could?”
“Yes, I’m sure the monsters will still be here when we get back. And Willow and the others can keep an eye on things.”
“I’d really love that. But after we get back, I promise I’ll be focusing on our work 100 %. I haven’t forgotten how important it is.”
“Me neither. But we deserve a break now. A long weekend, maybe a week.”
“Sounds wonderful. Come on, let’s go tell Will. I’m sure he’ll love it too.”
“Yes, I’m sure he will.”
Angel put an arm around Jenny’s shoulders and together they joined their lover in the bedroom.
Already the next night, Angel asked Willow and the others to watch the office for them. They were happy to be of help. As always, Willow developed a charming amount of enthusiasm.
“We can take turns going to lectures. Oz will take notes for me and I’ll take notes for him. And then we can -“
“I tell you what. I’ll cover the office end of things, and you go to school. Whenever there’s a demon offensive, you’ll help me out. Is that a deal?”
“You mean that, Doyle?”
“Of course I do. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of your education.”
“Doyle’s right, Willow. You should get your degree. This demon slaying business can’t be your first priority.”
“Oh, ok. But it would be so cool to sort of be a stand in for the Slayer.”
“Angel and Doyle have a point though, Willow. School is important.”
“I know. Ok. If you’re sure, Doyle.”
“Of course I am.”
“Ok. Have a great time you guys.”
And Willow hugged her friends goodbye.
“I guess we need to get back home now.”
She sounded slightly wistful. Angel’s office held a certain appeal to her, for its semi-official status.
Doyle thought he had the solution for her. But he hesitated to give his information. He told himself not to be silly. The point was preventing Oz from causing any harm, and even more importantly to keep Willow from harm.
“You guys might want to spend the weekend here. The full moon is coming on.”
“Oh. I forgot about that. But we could just as easily deal with it back home, right, Oz?”
“I suppose so.”
“It’s just that I happen to know Jenny and Will has this big collection of handcuffs and chains and so on. I never let on that I know, because I know Will’s going to insist on me trying them out. But I know where it is. I’m sure you can use some of it to hold you tied down, Oz.”
Oz looked slightly sheepish at the mention of his condition, not to mention the immediate remedy, but he agreed that the cuffs and the chains might come in handy.
“We won’t need to get started until tomorrow night, right?”
“No. It’s ok. But tomorrow we should go get our stuff in plenty of time before the sun goes down.”
2Ok. But for now we’ll just sleep, ok?”
“That’s fine with me.”
Next morning they brought whatever they thought they might need for the duration of the weekend. Willow looked around, as if she’d just moved in.
“If any calls come in, we’ll take the job, won’t we?”
“We might. This is serious, Willow.”
“You think I don’t know that?”
“Alright, I’m just saying.”
“Hey, guys. Much as I hate to do this, I think we might have to cuff me now. The sun is going down.”
“Not for another hour, I think.”
“Just to make sure. I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt you guys.”
“Ok, I’ll go get the gear.”
Within minutes, Willow and Doyle had Oz handcuffed and chained to the guest bed. The awkwardness of the situation made Doyle retire early. He and Willow intended to use Angel’s, Jenny’s and Will’s bed, while Oz went through his change.
“Promise me you won’t stay, once I’ve changed. I know you know all about it. But I don’t like you to see me like that. Please.”
“Ok. But I’ll stay here until it starts.”
“I’d like that.”
“And remember, it’s not your fault.”
“About that werewolf girl -“
“I’m really sorry about that, Willow. If I’d been myself that never would have happened.”
“That’s what I’m trying to say. It’s ok, Oz. I’ve forgiven you.”
As always when that incident was mentioned, Oz looked so unhappy, Willow wondered if there was something more to it than she knew. She wanted to make sure.
“You haven’t seen her again, have you?”
“That werewolf girl.”
“Oh, her. No, of course not. She meant nothing to me.”
Realizing how that sounded, Oz hurriedly amended his statement.
“I mean, I’m sure she’s nice and everything. It’s just not her I love.”
“I think you’re looking a bit more hairy than you did a minute ago.”
“Oh. Yes, it’s starting. Will you please go?”
“Ok. You’re sure you’ll be ok?”
“Of course I will. Just go. Doyle must be feeling lonely.”
“Oh, I guess I’ll go then. See you soon.”
The last word came out as a growl. Willow hurriedly left the room. It would only be a few days and she’d have her beloved Oz back the way she loved him the most. And in the meantime, she did have Doyle. Not to mention staying in Angel’s place the entire weekend, and maybe longer. She was sure they’d get some interesting slaying jobs too. Whatever Doyle and Angel thought. Life really could be great at times.