The angel chronicles vol.., p.1
“I INVITED YOU INTO MY HOME.”
Buffy went on, needing to express her hurt, feeling again her shock and despair. “And then you attacked my family.”
“Why not?” he asked almost offhandedly, but his expression was filled with pain. “I killed mine.”
He started closing in on her.
“I killed their friends. And their friends’ children. For a hundred years I offered an ugly death to everyone I met. And I did it with a song in my heart.”
She detected the merest hint of self-loathing; she raised her chin slightly and asked, “What changed?”
“Fed on a girl,” he told her. “About your age. Beautiful.” He looked off into the distance for a moment. “Dumb as a post. But a favorite among her clan.”
“Her clan?” Buffy repeated, unsure of his word choice.
“Romani,” he explained. “Gypsies. The elders conjured the perfect punishment for me.” He waited a beat. “They restored my soul.”
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For the Slayer and her vampire:
Ms. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mr. David Boreanaz.
And for my dear friend Christopher Golden, without whom this book could not have been written, even though it was.
For the wonderful experience of writing this novelization, I would like to thank: Mr. Joss Whedon and everyone at the Buffy production offices, the cast, and the crew; my editor, Lisa Clancy, and her assistant, Elizabeth Shiflett; my terrific agent, Howard Morhaim, and his assistants, Kate Hengerer and Lindsay Sagnette. Thanks also to my dearest husband, Wayne, and to Ida Khabazian and my niece, Rebekah Simpson.
It was over.
The last two surviving vampires burst out of the Sunnydale club known as the Bronze and fled down the alley, terror on their faces.
Amazed, Angel stepped from the shadows into the moonlight and watched them go. “She did it. I’ll be damned.”
That beautiful young Slayer had thwarted the Harvest. The threat was over … for now.
But the vampires would be back, in full force. Their leader, the Master, imprisoned beneath the earth in a ruined church, would throw everything at the girl until he claimed victory … and she died. On that night all the demons, vampires, and other dark forces who walked the night would dance with glee on her grave.
But if he, Angel, believed the Slayer was doomed, why had he followed her that first night, on her way to the Bronze? To warn her of what was to come? Why had he sought her out, to warn her yet again?
Why was he thinking of her now, and every other waking moment?
He smiled—a slight, almost cold smile—for Angelus, once the scourge of Europe, could never fully let go of his remorse over the terrible evils he had committed. Or of the hatred for what he had once been: the most ruthless vampire who ever hunted down human beings and reveled in their destruction.
Yet recalling his first meeting with Buffy Summers, the Vampire Slayer, he could smile a little.
* * *
It was the night he had given her the cross.
As she walked to the local hangout, the Bronze, she had known he was trailing her. Any Slayer would have. And while it was true that she’d caught him by surprise, launching herself down from an overhanging pipe as he turned into the alley to follow her, that was also what he should have expected from the Chosen One.
But he hadn’t been prepared for her wit or her beauty. She played with words; she was sarcastic. And yet she grasped both the wonder and the burden of her life as the Slayer.
And, truth be told, he had liked looking into her face when it mirrored her fascination with him. He was used to being admired by women—did the Watcher Diaries not record his full name as “Angelus, the one with the angelic face”? But he was not used to anyone looking past that face into his soul.
His poor soul.
He had not been ready to tell her everything, just to join forces. “I want the same thing you do,” he had told her. “To kill them. To kill them all.”
Then he had tossed her the jewelry box containing the cross—which he dare not touch himself—and said, of the Harvest, “Don’t turn your back on this. You’ve got to be ready.”
But was he ready? Angel wondered, recalling their second meeting earlier this very day. She had been going down to the vampires’ lair to save a friend. He had shadowed her, wanting to help her, not daring to reveal his true self yet. The timing still wasn’t quite right.
He had risked much by telling her his name. Her teacher and Watcher, Rupert Giles, was known and respected as a thorough researcher. If Giles has all the Watcher Diaries…
Angel wasn’t sure he would ever tell her what he was. He was already beginning to like her.
She would run shrieking from him if she ever learned his secret.
Or else she would kill him.
But because tonight was the Harvest, he had tried to talk her out of going below ground to save a mortal boy.
Her face had been set with determination. “I’ve got a friend down there—or, a potential friend.” She half-smiled. “Do you know what it’s like to have a friend?”
* * *
He had not smiled back at her question. Perhaps then she had realized that he was friendless and alone. Perhaps she had read the hunger in his face for the things he had abandoned and the things that had been stolen from him.
Perhaps she, too, felt the first stirrings of a longing that should never be acted upon.
But as the vampires fled from the Bronze, their monstrous faces frozen in terror, Angel did smile.
Then he silently moved through the night.
* * *
Inside the Bronze, Buffy stood with her new Watcher, Rupert Giles, and her two new best friends, Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris. The ashes of the dead vampires, including the Master’s Vessel, were already dissipating in the club’s air. Broken furniture was all that remained to mark the vampires’ attack.
That, and a few dead bodies of the victims. Most of the patrons had fled, but some remained, stunned and silent.
Buffy noted the carnage. She observed the frightened faces of those she must lay down her life to protect, if need be. She absorbed the brutal fact that she could not escape her fate. Even with her and her mom’s move to this new town, Sunnydale, she was, and always would be, the Slayer.
It made her feel set apart. Different.
And in desperate need of someone who understood the darkness she must walk in.
She thought of the intriguing, strikingly handsome young man who seemed intent on helping her. The mysterious Angel.
She wondered if she would ever see him again.
And if she did, what he would be to her, and she to him.
THE FIRST CHRONICLE:
The lair of the undead: a ruined church deep within the earth, stinking of decay, corruption, and death. The deceivingly warm glow of a hundred candles. A pool of blood.
A little boy dropped pebbles into the thick, crimson liquid.
At his side sat a vampire in a leather suit smiling indulgently, his outstretched hand filled with stones for the boy’s innocent game.
But this was no ordinar
And there was nothing innocent about his game.
Darla approached, returning from her hunting. Like Collin, she was cloaked in innocence: a pretty face framed by blond hair, wearing the uniform of a private girl’s school. She practically skipped through the chamber, knowing she was the Master’s favorite. With all her icy, heartless, soulless being, she dreamed of the night when the Master would free himself from this dungeon and rule a world filled with vampires, demons, and monsters.
And hopefully, there would be someone else to share the glorious moment with her. Someone with whom she had terrorized Europe. Someone who tore out the throats of the victims she had held down.
His name was on her lips, always.
With his back to her the Master said, “Zackery didn’t return from the hunt last night.”
Darla came to a stop and hissed, “The Slayer.”
The Master’s voice was strained but calm. “Zackery was strong, and he was careful. And still the Slayer takes him, as she has taken so many of my family.” He took a deep breath and lifted his chin very slightly. “It wears thin.” He turned to the Anointed One. “Collin, what would you do about it?”
The Anointed One replied simply in his unworldly voice, “I’d annihilate her.”
The Master inhaled with pleasure. “Out of the mouths of babes …”
Darla stepped forward eagerly. “Let me do it, Master,” she breathed. “Let me kill her for you.”
The Master said almost sternly, as if the subject were distasteful to him, “You have a personal interest in this.”
She pouted, “I never get to have any fun.”
The Master continued in his calm singsong voice, the tone he took when he was at his most dangerous. “I will send the Three.”
Darla’s eyes filled with excitement. “The Three.” Her voice was tinged with anticipation. And pleasure.
He clutched in his fist an ornate silver lighter decorated with a skull and crossbones. The flame flared; he lit the last of three cigarettes, one for each of them.
He and his homies were bad to the bone, and they knew it. Gangbangers. The three of them hung out on a deserted Sunnydale street corner, guarding their turf and eager for action.
Suddenly from around the corner three dark shapes clomped toward them. Their weird body armor gleamed in the dull light. They walked mean.
The three gangbangers straightened up, ready for trouble. Then the three invaders strode into the direct glare of the streetlight, moving fast, ignoring the gangbangers as if they did not exist.
Their faces were hideous. Evil.
The gangbangers held their ground for about two seconds, then broke and ran.
The Three kept going, heading down the street.
They owned the street.
* * *
A cockroach skittered across the floor of the Bronze. A foot zeroed in on it as someone urged in an amused voice, “Get it.”
“I got it,” a girl announced, and lifted the dead roach off the floor like a trophy. She plopped it into a plastic container on a passing waiter’s tray that was half-full with its deceased insectoid brethren and said, “Free drink, please.” The waiter, in a silvery T-shirt, nodded happily at her.
Against a backdrop of a banner that read, “FUMIGATION PARTY. Find a cockroach, get a free drink,” Willow Rosenberg sat across from Buffy, who in turn sat with her eyes downcast. Buffy had on a cool black crocheted top and wore her blond hair loose with those wispy bang things Willow could not master. Buffy was definitely hotter looking than she was, Willow decided. Her reddish brown hair was just there, and her boring, Rosenberg-brown sweater, which her mother had managed to locate for her among all the trendier clothes at the store.
Willow said wryly, “Ah, the fumigation party.”
Buffy kept fiddling, but she stirred enough to say, “Hmm?”
“It’s an annual tradition,” Willow went on. “The closing of the Bronze for a few days to nuke the cockroaches.”
Willow persisted. “It’s a lot of fun.” She smiled kindly at her very glum buddy and said, “What’s it like where you are?”
Buffy looked up and laughed, embarrassed. “I’m sorry. I was just thinking about . . . things.”
Willow understood at once. “So we’re talking about a guy?”
Buffy grimaced and laughed shortly. “Not exactly. For us to have a conversation about a guy there would have to be a guy for us to have a conversation about.” She wrinkled her nose. “Was that a sentence?”
Willow said, “You lack a guy.”
Sighing, Buffy moved her head. “I do. Which is fine with me most of the time but—”
“What about Angel?”
Buffy made a little face. “Angel? I can just see him in a relationship.” She lowered her voice, guy-like: “Hi, honey, you’re in grave danger. I’ll see you next month.”
Willow was sorry. She’d figured the moping was over Buffy’s strange but very good-looking sort-of-friend and warning person. So much for trying to cheer her up. Nobody could figure out who he was or why he showed up every once in a while to tell Buffy about some new threat to either her existence or that of the entire human race and then disappeared. He knew she was the Slayer, but he didn’t offer any information about himself in return. He was incredibly handsome, though. And intense. Very intense.
Sympathetically, she offered, “He’s not around much, it’s true.”
Buffy couldn’t seem to stop the smile that crossed her face. She looked radiant as she said, “When he’s around, it’s like the lights dim everywhere else. You know how it’s like that with some guys?”
Willow said, “Oh, yeah.”
She gazed at the dance floor where Xander Harris was grooving, his dark, curly hair boyishly hanging in his eyes. He was practically doing aerobics, goofing in a way that Willow understood all too well: I’m so into my nerdhood you cannot mock me for it. But Xander was not nerdy. Just underappreciated and undervalued. He didn’t realize it. But she did.
She so did.
* * *
Xander kept on pumping his arms, promoting his night fever routine as Annie Vega glanced his way. He said cheerily, “Hey, Annie,” and then when her Neanderthal boyfriend glared at him, added, “Vito! Just leaving.”
He swam off in another direction and collided with that foxy landshark known as Cordelia Chase.
“Ouch!” Cordelia cried. She was wearing some kind of low-cut lizard-girl dress and her hair was down, dark and very straight. The Cher of Sunnydale High. “Please keep your extreme oafishness off my two-hundred-dollar shoes.”
Man the lifeboats, Xander thought, and said, “Sorry. I was just—”
“Getting off the floor before Annie Vega’s boyfriend squashes you like a bug?”
Xander grinned proudly. “Oh, so you noticed.”
“Well, thanks for being so understanding.”
She flashed him her haughty evil-eye and said, “Sure.”
“And I don’t know what everyone’s talking about,” he added in a friendly tone. Then he lobbed the grenade. “That outfit doesn’t make you look like a hooker.”
If you can’t join ’em, psych ’em out—or die trying.
He left the floor while he was maybe ahead, and caught up with his two main gals, Buffy and Willow, who both looked like they were having as much fun as was humanly possible if they were dead.
“Boy, that Cordelia’s a regular breath of vile air,” he said. When they didn’t respond, he cocked his head and said, “What are you vixens up to?”
Willow said, “Just sitting here watching our barren lives pass us by. Oh
Whomp! The sucker didn’t have a chance. Xander was about to congratulate her on her technique when he saw not a flicker of predatory satisfaction on her face. Buffy looked even worse.
“Whoa, stop this crazy whirligig of fun,” he drawled. “I’m dizzy.”
Buffy activated. She said, “All right, now I’m infecting those near and dear to me. I’ll see you guys tomorrow.” She prepared for liftoff.
Willow said, “Oh, don’t go.”
Xander piped up, “Yeah, it’s early! We could, um, dance.” He broke into his standard disco routine.
“Rain check,” Buffy said, pushing away from the table. Smiling, however. Although sadly. To both Slayerettes, she said, “ ’Night.”
She left. Willow showed Xander the carcass of her kill, attractively glued to her shoe with its cockroachy guts, and said, “Want a free drink?”
* * *
Surrounded by people and noise, Angel stood alone as he watched Buffy heading for the Bronze’s exit door. He stood in shadow, his face clouded with longing and worry.
Almost as if she sensed him, Buffy looked up.
But he was gone by then.
She moved on.
* * *
The street was deserted of people as Buffy headed for home. In the distance an ambulance siren wailed; car horns sounded. Yet, beneath the traffic din, she heard a noise. She slowed and looked back. There was nothing there, but often there seemed to be nothing there while some demon stalked her.
She walked on.
As she half-expected, she heard another sound. She took a few more steps, then stopped. This time she didn’t turn around as she said, with resignation and determination in her voice, “It’s late. I’m tired and I don’t want to play games. Show yourself.”
Something dropped to the ground behind her, savagely growling as she whipped a stake out of her jacket and whirled around. As she raised the stake high to strike, a hand grabbed her wrist from behind. A hand with talons for fingernails. It was joined by the hand of another, which yanked her arm. The first twisted her wrist until the stake clattered to the cement.