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Chapter 2

It was a quiet night, just what Angel didn't want, and he sat at his desk, purportedly doing some invoices. He watched the clock, not consciously thinking about the time passing, but nevertheless feeling certain milestones of the evening passing: people arriving at places; people together and happy; people leaving places together; people being people and doing other things together…. He shoved the in-tray away and stood up, twisting the stiffness out of his body and going toward the kitchen.

Two bags of blood- they'd be climbing the stairs to his apartment now. Wash the mug out- they'd be opening the door and laughing in anticipation. Go back to the office- they'd be undressing, smiling, turning and tasting.

He needed to kill something and turned to go to his weapons when the telephone rang. Relieved, he sat down, composed himself, and picked it up. 'Angel Investigations.'


There was a pause, and the voice repeated, 'Hi?'


'Well, yeah….'

'Where's Cordelia?'

'Oh, that's what I was going to ask you… I mean… did she get home okay? She got a cab- wouldn't let me come with her.'

'She doesn't live here.'


There was another embarrassing pause, but this time, Angel was the first to break it.

'Good party?'

Billy chuckled, shifted the phone to the other ear and said in a low voice, 'I think I cramped her style. She told me not to talk to her, and to admit to no one I was with her.'

For the first time in over two months, Angel laughed softly. 'She does that to me, too.'

Billy said in a low voice, 'I'm grinning, by the way. Sorry, but I do that a lot, too.'

Angel closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. 'It's late.'

'Oh. Okay then. I just wanted to see if she got home….' There was a significant pause, and then he added in a puzzled tone, 'She didn't want me to know where she lived, did she? Jeez. I'm not some bloody stalker! That's you!' He slammed down the handset.

Angel stared at his handset and replaced it more carefully.

Billy paced to the window and stared up at the building across from him for a moment. The phone rang, and he jumped visibly. He could not recall his telephone ever ringing before. He picked it up, considerably unsettled by this thought. 'Hello?'

'I'm not a stalker.'

Billy grinned again and sat down, cradling the handset comfortably. 'Why were you following me then?'

Angel looked at his nails and told one of his flawless lies. 'I saw you one day in the street. You were so familiar, it threw me.'


Angel pouted and swapped the phone to his other ear, putting his feet up onto the desk. 'Yeah. Spike.'


'Why do the English say sorry all the time?'

'Huh? Jeez. I don't know. I think maybe we're apologising for not having to apologise, ya know?'

Angel smiled. 'These colours don't run….'

Billy smiled. 'Who told you that?'

'He did once.'

There was a pause, and then Billy said with anger in his voice, 'He was English, too?'

Angel winced and pulled his feet off the desk. 'Look, it's late.'

'Was Spike English?'


'Bloody hell!'

'I can't do this, Will; I have to go now.'

'Will? No one calls me…. I can't do this either.' He slammed the phone down and poured himself a drink with a shaking hand. He had absolutely no idea what it was he couldn't do, as he didn't have a clue what it was they were doing. He only knew that Angel's soft, midnight voice was now in his head, and that, above all things, he wanted it to be there in his dreams, too.

Angel sat, listening to the strange music for the first time since it had arrived eight weeks ago.

The following day, when he got home from work, Billy found the CD waiting for him in his box. There was a small note attached, written in an elegant hand with real ink. "He would get a perverse kick out of you owning this now. So do I." It wasn't signed, but Billy knew whom it was from, nevertheless.

It had been delivered by hand, and that thought disturbed him more, for some reason, than being given this last memento of a dead man.

He stood in the lobby of the strangely deserted hotel, unsure what to do. A phone rang in an office, unanswered, only adding to the slightly eerie feel of the place. It felt churlish to just leave the CD and go, and when he heard faint sounds from above, he jogged up the stairs and wandered down the hallway.

A door stood open. He hesitated on the threshold but then entered, his slight unease at coming this far uninvited now gone. Paper was strewn everywhere- sketches of faces. Many were of Cordelia and the Englishman, but more - dozens - were of him. He felt fury, like a distant memory of real anger, bubble inside him. He snatched one up angrily. The artist had drawn him turned, looking back over one shoulder, angry, scowling, a two-fingered salute stuck up to one side.

'Put it down.'

Billy whirled around, registered that Angel stood wet and only dressed in a towel, but shouted, 'I think I've got a bloody right to hold it, seein' it's of me! This ain't right, Mate! It's invasion of my bloody pri….'

'It's not of you.'

'Wha-? Yeah, like….' He snatched them up, one-by-one- him smiling, laughing, shouting, crying. He tore that one in half. 'Do you have a freaky camera in my soddin' bedroom, or something?'

Angel filed away that odd, telling comment to pick over later and came into the room, tidying away the remaining sketches.

Without looking at Billy, he said calmly, 'They're Spike, not you.'

There was a long silence, and Angel let the man have it in private, not looking at him. He went into his bedroom to dress, and when he came out, Billy was sitting in one of the armchairs, staring into space, the pictures held loosely in his hand.

The man ran his fingers through his hair and said softly, 'Do you believe in life after death?'

Angel busied himself with anything he could find and, instead of replying directly, murmured, 'I didn't mean for you to see them. I didn't think I'd see you again.'

Billy stirred and stood up. 'I came to give this back- shit, I mean… last memories an' all.'

Angel shrugged. 'I meant it. It amuses me to think you have it.'

He saw Billy's confused, unhappy face, still glancing in disbelief at the pictures. He took them from him gently and, feeling something else was needed, said, 'He wasn't all that much like you. He had blond hair, for a start.'

Billy let the pictures go and frowned. 'Blond?'

'Bleached. So…. Not so similar?'

Billy ran his fingers through his hair and stared at them, as if he could see the colour rubbed off on them, and repeated softly, 'Blond….'

Angel's cell phone rang, and they both jumped slightly. Watching Billy, Angel answered it. He listened, said nothing and then clicked it off. 'I have to go. I'm working on a case tonight.'

Billy smiled shyly. 'I bet you love saying that.'

Angel repressed a smile, but a faint quirk of his lips escaped, nevertheless.

They walked down to the lobby, and Billy wrinkled his nose up as he looked out. 'Shit. Raining.'

Angel frowned, hesitated, then said softly, 'I can drop you off on the way.'

Billy smiled and gave him a small poke to the belly. 'Cus, it's not like you don't know my address, is it Stalker?'

Angel closed his eyes to the feel of Billy's finger, then spun on his heel and led the way to the basement.

Billy was quiet in the car, tapping the CD against his leg in a nervous fashion. Angel glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. 'How long have you been in L.A?'

Billy started slightly but replied easily, 'Couple of years.'

'Where did you live before that?'


'Yeah. Before here.'


'Family there?'

'Not really. My parents died in a car crash just before I came here.'

'Any other family?'

Billy turned to him, twisting slightly sideward in the seat. 'It's kinda usual to say I'm sorry.'


'You're the first person I've told that to who hasn't immediately said I'm sorry- in the kind of voice where you know they aren't. But you didn't even bat an eyelid… as if…. Damn it, did you know that about me already from the stalking thing?'

Angel gritted his teeth. 'I was not stalking you.'

'Do you always avoid questions you don't like?'


'I asked you if you believe in life after death, but you just seamlessly slid off the subject onto another.'

'You think too much.'

Billy coughed a small, sharp laugh, genuinely amused.

Angel flicked his eyes over, but then clenched his jaw and stared fixedly out of the window.

Suddenly, his cell phone rang again, and he dug it out of his pocket. Once more, he didn't speak but listened then stabbed it off. 'Damn.'


'It's going down sooner than expected. You have to get out.'

'Hey! You can't just leave me here- I'll be mugged or murdered or something!'

Angel gritted his teeth. 'You have to stay in the car. Do you understand?'

'Sure. Okay. Fuck, your life is SO much more interesting than mine.'

Angel smiled and looked down for a moment. 'I'm the Dark Avenger, yeah.'


'Nothing. Stay in the car, and wait for me.'

They pulled in behind a run-down building, and Angel climbed out. A small, odd-looking man came out nervously from behind a dumpster, and Angel went over to him, handing him some money.

Billy craned forward in the seat, watching this small exchange carefully. The rain plastered Angel's hair flat, and Billy smiled when Angel ran his fingers through it, spiking it up again. It was the first thing Billy had seen the cool, collected man do that evidenced he occasionally let this collected demeanour slip. Almost unconsciously, he ran his fingers over his own, as the thought of the dead man with blond hair flittered like a small ghost through his mind.

Angel came back to the car, opened the trunk, and took out a large sword. Billy's eyes widened, and then he frowned deeply. He watched Angel go into the back of the building and leant back to wait for him, when he saw the man Angel had paid turn and look toward the end of the alley. Another figure appeared, indistinct in the rain, and the small man spoke to him, accepted some more money, and then nodded in the direction Angel had gone.

Billy sat up in the seat, suddenly alert and anxious. He cursed and watched the new man follow Angel into the building. He stared at the door, wondering what to do, when a shot - muffled, but very identifiable - came from the building. Billy jumped, put a hand to the door, as another three rounds followed in short succession. Before he'd thought it through too much, he ran from the car and crashed in through the doorway. A man was lying on the ground, another standing over him with a gun. Billy shouted and ran toward them. The figure with the gun cursed, pointed it at him for a moment, then seemed to think better of this, turned, and ran off into the gloom. Billy fell to his knees beside Angel, swearing non-stop but not actually aware of this.

There was blood everywhere. Angel had been shot in his chest and neck, and the blood loss was incredible. Billy stripped off his jacket and pressed it uselessly to the pumping chest wound. He scrambled in his pockets for his cell phone, knowing this was useless too, but tried to dial nine-one-one, anyway. A hand closer over his, and pulled the phone down out of his vision. 'I'm okay.'

Billy felt as if he couldn't breath, the effort of keeping his heart beating too much to concentrate on anything else. Angel sat up, and Billy fell back heavily on his backside. Angel looked down at his chest and cupped his hand around his neck. 'Can you drive? Sp- Billy, can you drive?'


'Okay. You need to drive me back to the hotel. Can you do that?'



Angel stood up slowly, wincing and holding the still bleeding wound in his neck. The other wounds to his chest began to pump blood more freely, dark trails now running down, staining his pants.

Billy stood up slowly, and very hesitantly offered him an arm. Gratefully, Angel leant on him, and they limped out together.

Billy eased Angel into the passenger seat then went around to the other side and climbed in.

'What just happened here?'

'I got shot.'

'Funny man.'

'The hotel?'

'Four shots, close range, and you get up and fix your hair?'

'I did not.'

'Yeah. You did.' Billy turned and looked at him, his face unnaturally pale. 'You have blood in it now. Wouldn't wonder if it dries there… and… flakes….' Suddenly, he opened the door and vomited noisily, leaning out, coughing and cursing.

Angel waited until he'd finished then said quietly, 'I'm wearing body armour. My job….'

Billy's eyes widened in anger. He snatched the keys from Angel's hand, stabbed them in and began to reverse out of the alley. Twisted to look over his shoulder, his face closed down but clearly furious, he said in a low voice, 'Don't friggin' patronise me!'

When he was out in the street, he turned and ripped Angel's shirt open, revealing the flesh blown away in three huge entry wounds, blood pooling into his lap.

Angel twitched up an eyebrow and folded his coat over the mess. 'Just drive.'

Billy drove erratically, but eventually, he pulled up where Angel indicated. By this time, Angel was able to walk unaided into the hotel. He glanced at the man alongside him. 'You can't go back like that.'

Billy looked puzzled then glanced down, following Angel's gaze. He paled even more when he saw his blood-soaked clothes and held a hand to his mouth. Angel cursed. 'Can you hold it down?'

Billy nodded. Angel grabbed his other arm and pulled him up the stairs, then pushed him into the bathroom. Gratefully, Billy vomited into the sink, groaning.

When he was done, he went slowly back into Angel's room. He leant in the doorway and looked at the man sitting on the edge of the bed, quietly bandaging his chest.

Silent, Billy went over and crouched in front of him, taking over the task. He didn't look at the wounds and tried not to remark that they had stopped bleeding. Angel obediently held his arms out to the side and watched the lowered head. 'I'm sorry you got caught up in that.'

'So am I.'

'I told you stay in the car.'

'Yeah. Sorry. Saving your life kinda made me forget.'

'He could have killed you.'

'He almost did kill you.'

'I don't kill easy.'

Billy looked up and paused in his bandaging. 'Why do I believe you?'

Angel smiled. 'You need to shower and change. You can't take my blood with you.'


'I mean….' Not sure what he had meant, Angel rose stiffly and went toward his closet. He threw out some sweats and a sweater. 'Take these. There are towels in the bathroom. Help yourself.'

Billy stood up and wobbled. Angel held his arm, but Billy pulled away. 'You're the one who got shot!'

'Okay.' Angel wobbled, and with a small curse, Billy caught at his arm, lowering him to the edge of the bed. He laughed nervously, and Angel chuckled slightly.

'Can I get you something to drink?'

'Yeah. Thanks. Over there. Anything. Help yourself, too.'

Billy handed Angel a drink and sat alongside him. Angel frowned, then murmured softly, 'You really need to shower.'

Billy gave him a look, and Angel added quickly, 'My blood on you… it's distracting.'

'And you don't hear that that's kinda weird?'

Angel pouted. 'Blood loss. I must be delirious.'

'Yeah. Like… I'm thinking you could still go out there and save the world now.'

Angel turned to look at him, their faces only inches apart. He ran his gaze over the man's face. 'That was you.'

'I shouted, and he ran away. Hardly the big hero.'

'That's not what I meant. Go shower, Will. Please.'

'That's the second time you've called me that.'

'Is it?'

'Say it again.'

'Will. Go. Shower.'

Patting around the bed for the clothes, Billy rose. 'Will you be okay?'

'No dying while you're in the shower. Cross my heart.'

'Hope to die?'

'Someone stole that from me.'

'Am I being weird, or is it you?'

Angel lay down and stared at the ceiling. 'I need to feed.'

'Can I get you something?'

'The best thing I ever ate in my life is in this room with me now.'

Billy pulled the covers over Angel and then levered off the muddy, blood-soaked shoes. 'When I'm done, I'll find something.'

Angel nodded, his eyes closed, his face very pale. 'Go.'

'Okay. You sure…? Going.'

Billy showered and dressed in the clothes Angel had lent him. When he got back to the room, he glanced at Angel and then went anxiously to his side. He put two fingers to his neck, but they were seized and removed.

He jumped and said in a rush, 'Thought you were dead. Jeez, you looked dead.'

'Yeah, people say that.' Angel sat up and looked away quickly.

Billy sighed. 'I look daft, don't I?'

'I'm too tired to answer that. It's late, Billy. Stay here the night- pick a room; I've got over sixty.'

'Sure. Thanks. Do you want to eat something now?'

Angel groaned, turned back to the bed and pulled a pillow over his head.

Billy turned slowly away. 'I'll take that as a no then. Night.'

When he got no reply, he wandered out into the hallway, picked the room next to Angel's, stripped off his sweater, and climbed onto the slightly musty bed.

He pulled the covers up and felt a strange sense of rightness at the musty, earthy smell enveloping him. It lulled him, made him feel more himself than he had for a long time.

Angel could still smell the man's blood, even through the thin wall that separated them. One hundred and twenty years, near enough, since he had tasted it, but the memory of its potency lingered in his mind. He had taken that blood and made it his own. He had given his demon a second birth within it, and had then shared that demon with the man he had called Will.

He fell into a light, pain-filled, restless sleep; the sound of the gun reverberating in his mind, but becoming thunder, a crack of a whip in another lifetime. All too easily, the dream was of Will: his moans; his cries; pain, indistinguishable from other, more enticing encouragement. Angel arched in his sleep, hardening and leaking to the dream of the human. Angelus turned and woke, gleeful that his prison seemed so vulnerable. He tested his restraints. Angel shouted at Will to be silent, but it was too late. Hearing a sharp cry of fear in his head, Angel ejaculated, waking to discover that dream had merged with reality: cries real, pain reaching him from the adjoining room. Another cry, another shout, and Angel rose. He cursed, stripped off his wet pants and pulled on some jeans, moving unsure, confused and disgusted into the next room.

Billy was arched, too, but clearly not in pleasure. His body was covered in a sheen of sweat, his face flushed and contorted in the throes of nightmare. Every cord in his neck stood out, a pulse visible even to the less discerning than Angel. Trying to ignore the effect of the pulsing drawing him hypnotically into its red embrace, Angel sat on the edge of the bed and put a hand on Billy's arm

The body sank to the bed, and the blue eyes snapped open. Wildly, Billy turned to stare at Angel, his face wet from trails of tears. With a distressed moan, he sat up, pulling his knees into a tight, protective hug, and burying his shame into their welcoming cover.

To Angel's embarrassment, the man began to cry: deep, unmanly tears of someone too strung out, too past the point of no return to care.

Angel hesitated for a moment, trying to suppress the resonance of his dream, but then sat fully on the bed and pulled the man into his arms. Billy tried to extricate himself, tried to wipe his eyes and say something that would excuse or explain the pathetic display, but Angel only held him tighter.

'I have bad dreams sometimes too, Billy. I cry sometimes, too.'

Billy scrunched up and moaned, as if this confession from Angel somehow made it worse. Ignoring the effect of his words, Angel held him tighter and murmured, 'I see things I don't want to remember. It's me, but it's not me… not as I am now.'

The resistance in his arms lessened, as if Billy was finally listening.

'I wake feeling like a monster, but then I try to remember that I wouldn't feel like that if I were one.'

With a slight frown, Angel realised he was running his fingers through the tussled brown locks. He looked down at the way they slipped, soft and silky over his skin.

'Nothing in your dreams can hurt you, Will. Not this time.' He bent and hovered over the hair, smelling it. It was neither Will nor Spike: neither centuries-old scents, nor nicotine and peroxide. It smelt of his products, borrowed and used- this intimacy now between them.

'Do you see monsters, Will? Do you see yourself?' His fingers trailed down from the unfamiliar familiarity of the hair to the bony shoulders. The man's skin was warm, sweaty, almost luminous in the gloom. It was like touching fine silk or petals. He bent his mouth closer to the slim, strong neck and breathed in softly. 'They're just dreams.'

'What are you doing?'

Angel sat back pointedly, lifting the tip of his tongue from the salty, warm skin, and his hand from the intriguing hollow of the man's collarbone. He swallowed and said cautiously, 'Comforting you?'

Billy sat up and swung his legs off the bed, his body tense, his posture resistant. 'I think I'd better go.'

Angel did not comment.

Billy pulled on the discarded sweater. 'I'll wash this stuff and…. Sorry about…. I say sorry too much; you're right.'

Angel saw no particular reason to break his silence, and he watched the man leave without turning back.

When he was alone, he pursed his lips and found something interesting to study on one nail.

Billy walked home. It was a long way; it was still dark, and he was dressed in clothes that didn't fit him. When he got back, he realised he'd left his keys in his jeans, and that he could not get in without rousing a disgruntled janitor.

It all seemed to be happening to someone else: the walk, the distinct edge of fear, the annoyance at being locked out. He was still in the bed with Angel, still wrapped in another man's arms for the first time in his life, still feeling that man becoming aroused by touching him: his skin and his body, arousing Angel… Angel's body, driving away his demons.

Billy sat on the edge of his bed, slowly pulling off the borrowed sweater. He put his hand to his neck. It felt hot, as if his skin had remembrance of Angel's tongue. Angel had licked him. His tongue had swirled in slow circles around the hollow of his neck as smooth, calming words had slowed his heart and taken the fear away.

His own bed looked cold and empty now, without the musty, earthy smell that had lulled him in the other one.

It was without Angel.

Billy pursed his lips and smoothed the sweater absentmindedly in his hands as he pondered this absence of Angel.

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