liliaeth and I offer yet another little interlude of Beloved for your perusal. We’re well into the fourth month of William’s captivity. Please follow the Warning Alert System.
William is 10 1/3 years old.
Angstville… it’s Angel, after all. Being inside his head is not a pleasant place to be. His son is still missing; he can’t attempt the rescue, himself. What’s a hurting vamp-Dad to do? Some F-word usage.
Please, as always, read and comment! The muse has been tugging on her little tunic. If she doesn't add more to the next few chapters, we're gonna have to reconsider her diet instead of just replacing her clothes. Feedback is more than welcomed.
Goddess bless willa_writes - my guiding light and beta-supreme, and smooches to gillo and just_sue for easing me through the hellish fears and doubts.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go Here.
Full-sized banner by liliaeth beneath the cut.
Beloved – Interlude 18-19B – Shades
The muscles in Angel’s back jerked with each landed punch on the wildly-swinging heavy bag. He’d been at it for hours, methodically battering the canvas until his knuckles split and his blood splattered out to stain the equipment, his body, and the floor. He worked through the burning in his shoulders; each blow heavy enough to pull a grunt out of a chest strained beyond its normal limits. The expression on his still-human visage was just as terrifying as his true face ever was.
With every strike Angel pictured another bloodied Watcher down for the count. Another obstacle out of his way as he battled to rescue his son. He could see it all so clearly in his head… until he remembered the blood threat. Fucking cowards weren’t even willing to take him on one-on-one. No, they had to bar him from the country by the use of ancient magicks.
The hateful image of Roger Wyndam-Pryce caused Angel to haul back and let loose a vicious right hook carrying every bit of the anger/pain/fear that filled him… and it still wasn’t enough to ease the hurt. To fill the little-boy-shaped hole in his heart where William should be.
The punching bag lay in tatters on the floor; its sand puddled at his feet. Perfect fucking metaphor, he thought.
Angel slumped to the floor, feeling nothing as his body made contact with the concrete. He was tired. It had been more than a month since he’d slept for more than two hours at a time, and even then, it was Nina who’d encouraged him to lie down.
These days, he couldn’t even face his wife. All her sweet words and tender touches brought home the fact that he hadn’t been able to keep their son safe. He couldn’t even support her in her grief. Useless, that’s what he was.
The only solace he found these days was in patrolling. He’d become totally ruthless, forgoing weapons for the sheer pleasure to be found in tearing his opponents limb from limb.
Now you’re getting’ it. Fists and fangs.
Angel startled. Where had that come from? Shaking it off, he returned to his ruminating. His new single-mindedness was causing demons to spread the word and it wasn’t unusual for demon bars to empty out in advance of his arrival.
It wasn’t like the last time he’d stopped giving a fuck… way back when Darla was screwing him both figuratively and literally. This time, Angel knew he was sinking into his demon’s more animalistic persona and relished it. Always felt a bit thick and broody with the soul tying him down. Maybe, if he focused hard enough, the damned thing would leave on its own and then he’d be able to get down to business. Make the deals he needed to. Kill those in the way of getting his own back.
When was the last time you unleashed it? All out fight in a mob, back against the wall?
“Damn it, Spike. Get the hell out of my head!”
He had to be hallucinating. Spike was gone... more than ten years gone. Bad enough he’d been seeing Buffy. Ever since that night in his bedroom when they’d come to terms with, well… everything, he’d seen her hanging around the Hyperion. Never for long, and they never spoke again… but he’d loved her. She’d once been his reason to pull himself together. Now… just another reminder of his failure to keep his loved ones safe.
What Angel needed was someone to talk to. Someone who could understand the schism in his mind and heart. Souled vampires, however, weren’t a dime a dozen. For the shortest time, there were two… but…
“You’re still a broody git, Angelus.”
Okay, that’s enough! Get a grip, man. Angel turned in the direction of that oh-so-familiar voice and sure enough, slouched against the wall was Spike in all his black leather and bleached glory.
“You should know by now that you’ll never be free of me. We’re blood, mate. Family.”
“Get out of here, Spike. I know you’re not real. Again.”
“As real as you’ve made me.”
“I have nothing to do with your being here,” Angel spat. Look at me, now. Talking to apparitions. “Go back where you came from.”
“Can’t do that, you sad, sad excuse for a vampire. You wanted me here.”
“Since when did you ever do what I wanted?” Angel mumbled.
Hallucination Spike blithely ignored the gibe. “You know, talking to yourself is one of the first signs of insanity, and if you’re imaginin’ me, you must be totally out of your Neanderthal skull.”
“You know, you actually have a point there.”
For a moment Angel swore he could see a flicker of hurt pass across Spike’s face as his image changed. The punk façade seemed to fade into the pathetic young man who’d bumped into him on a dark, London street so many decades ago: dirty blond curls, wire-rimmed glasses and tear-filled blue eyes. The perfect victim. He blinked, and the blast from the past was gone.
Angel snorted. “Oh yeah, I’m totally sane here.”
“Well, if you’re gonna be like that…”
Whirling on his knees, he located Spike again… only this time, he was all done up in ripped denim and eyeliner. And a safety pin through his scarred eyebrow.
“But I thought…”
“No, you don’t think, Peaches. You’re down here smashin’ up the equipment and hidin’ out from the world.”
“What the fuck else am I supposed to do?” Angel whispered, his head dropping towards his chest in total defeat. “There doesn’t seem to be any way around the damned Council’s wall of magic. My son’s gone and it’s all my fault. All because of me.”
Angel felt an odd tingle on his shoulder and looked up… into the eyes of yet another Spike – this one looking as disheveled as he felt, himself. Torn black shirt and jeans, overgrown two-toned hair and a hint of madness in his blue eyes.
“Don’t know why you’re askin’ me what to do, Liam,” Spike sighed. “Can’t play your bloody mind games here,” he gestured between the two of them. “No more mind.”
Before Angel could say another word, Spike had vanished again. “Oh, god… don’t leave. Please Spike,” he whispered. “Come back.”
William at four years old: curly blond hair, bright smile… hands reaching out for a hug. Only to be replaced by Will as he’d last seen him: dark blond hair, jeans and t-shirt, backpack…
“Dad!” he called, arms reaching out. “Don’t let me go.”
flash – blind rage-filled eyes
“Watch where you’re going!”
flash – proud sparkling blue eyes
“Way I see it, there’s another one getting all Chosen as we speak.”
flash – angry blue eyes
“Now, I know you haven’t been in the game for a while, mate, but we still do kill people. Sort of our raison d’etre, you know?”
flash – quiet pain-filled eyes
“Come to tap-dance on the patient, doc? I’d give you the fingers, but apparently I won’t have the motor skills till the drugs wear off.”
flash – innocent little-boy eyes
“I love you, Daddy.”
flash – hopeful fledgling eyes
“Do you even care about me, Angelus?”
flash – love-struck blue eyes
“I’ve lived for soddin’ ever, Buffy. I’ve done everything. Done things with you I can’t spell, but… I’ve never… been close… to anyone. Least of all, you. ‘Til last night.”
flash – contrite blue eyes
“Do you still love me, Dad?”
Over and over the images strobed before Angel until they were nothing but a blur. One final flash and the shaking vampire sat alone in the basement, tears coursing down his cheeks.