The angel chronicles vol.., p.1
“HURTS, DOESN’T IT?” SPIKE TAUNTED.
The Judge’s hand was splayed over Angel’s chest. Dru looked on, fascinated, thrilled, getting on her hands and knees like a lioness.
“Well, you know, it kind of itches a little,” Angel tossed off, wincing. But nothing else happened. Dru kept waiting for the immolation.
Her Spike was angry. “Don’t just stand there. Burn him!”
Angel made a face. He was obviously enjoying himself. “Gee, maybe he’s broken.”
“What the hell is going on?” Spike demanded.
Dru got it. She knew.
“There is no humanity in him.” The Judge turned away, losing interest.
“Angel,” Dru breathed, awash in delirious joy.
Angel grinned at her. Looked deep into her eyes with a sinister, wonderful gleam. They were connecting right here, and right now, and she could barely contain herself.
“Yeah, baby,” he said, “I’m back.”
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In memory of my mother, Marion Elise Jones
My deepest thanks to the cast and crew of Buffy, especially Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, Ty King, and Caroline Kallas. Thanks, also, to Debbie Olshan at Fox. As always, my gratitude to my agent, Howard Morhaim, and his assistant Lindsay Sagnette; to my editor, Lisa Clancy, and assistant editor Liz Shiflett. Todah rabah, Michael Mantell, Ph.D.; Rabbi Zelig Plisken; and my Babysitter Battalion: Ida Khabazian, Julie Cross, Bekah and Julie Simpson, Lara and April Koljonen. Thanks also to my wonderful usual suspects—Charlie and Kathy Grant, Chris Golden, Leslie Jones, Karen Hackett, and Stinne Lighthart. Thank you also to Chris Mauricio and the Bronzers, for all their help and support. And last, but certainly not least, to my dear husband, Wayne, and our miraculous daughter, Belle . . . we’re on our way.
THE CHRONICLES: PROLOGUE
It was the dead of night.
Hands in the pockets of his black duster, Angel walked the moon-drenched streets of Sunnydale. His shadow loomed long, and his boot heels were the only sound above the night wind.
Like Angel himself, Sunnydale was cursed. Behind the pastel facades of its houses and the superficial, Southern California pleasantness of its population, terrible things happened as a matter of course. An astonishing number of people died, and in mind-numbingly brutal and savage ways. Children became possessed; babies became vampires. The dead not only walked, they raged.
The place had been known to the Spanish who’d founded it as Boca del Inferno, the mouth of hell. Sunnydale sucked evil in, exhaled it, vomited it. Its appetite for darkness was insatiable.
But evil also died here. Its executioner was Buffy Summers, the Slayer, the one girl chosen from all her generation to fight the demons, vampires, and monsters who long to corrupt and cripple the world. Buffy was a champion, a beacon, and a tragic hero of epic proportions: her battle was to the death . . . hers. Slayers seldom lived long. Their lives were fierce and intense. And then they were over.
Angel’s face was cast in shadow as he stopped before the yellow house on Revello Drive. As the moonlight made hollows of his eyes and cheeks, he stared up at the bedroom where Buffy lay sleeping. Mind and body— yes, and soul—pulsed like a heartbeat with thoughts of her. He was restless and edgy, and he could admit now, in the darkness, that it was his need for her that had driven him out of his apartment to stand here, now.
The ultimate irony in all of this was, of course, that Angel was a vampire, in love with a vampire slayer. Not just any vampire; in his heyday he had been known as Angelus, the One with the Angelic Face. No other vampire could match him in sheer cruelty and unbelievable brutality.
Though he still looked like the reckless young Irishman he once had been, he was over two hundred years old. He was also the only vampire on earth with a soul, tormented by the horrors he had committed after he had been changed.
In Galway, in 1753, his schoolmaster had seen a rogue and a scoundrel. Angel’s father had seen a callow lad who spent his time at the faro tables with bad friends and worse women. Only Darla, the exquisite vampire who had sired him, had sensed the passion in him. The need to live a larger life. The drive to see, and do, and be something other than an Irish gentleman in a provincial town.
How had she known? No mirror could tell Angel what she had seen. Perhaps it had been the hunger in his eyes. The crooked but eager smile when he had approached her. The crack in his voice when he had confessed his longing to see the world.
Darla had known much about longing. About passion.
But Buffy Summers was Angel’s passion.
She’s just a girl, he reminded himself. She would turn seventeen in two days.
But she was also the Slayer. Nightly she faced mortal combat; every morning when she awoke, she knew it might be her last day on earth. As did he. That changed everything.
Or is that how I excuse the fact that I can’t stay away from her?
THE FIRST CHRONICLE: SURPRISE
In her sleep, Buffy Summers stirred. She opened her eyes, registering the stillness, and turned on the light, crowned with an upside-down lampshade, on her night-stand. She took a drink of water and slowly got out of bed.
Then she padded down the hall to the bathroom in her blue satin pajamas and black tank top . . .
* * *
Ah, there she is, Drusilla thought, as she stepped behind the Slayer and followed her down the hall. Drusilla, the beautiful mad vampire who had been sired by Angelus, hated the Slayer beyond all reason. On so many levels, the girl was a threat: not only to life and limb, but to her unbeating heart. Angelus—now called Angel—loved this human girl, when he should be panting around Dru like a starving dog. Because of Buffy, he had joined the white hats against his own kind. He murdered vampires; he crept up and staked them without warning. He eliminated helpful demons.
Worst of all, with Buffy and another Slayer named Kendra, he had seriously injured Dru’s other true love, Spike, in his attempt to restore Dru’s health. Granted, the ritual had required sacrificing Angel, but when a guy loved a girl—really loved her—he would do anything for her, wouldn’t he? Spike was all about pleasing her. But thanks to Buffy, Angel was all about killing her.
Drusilla would not rest until those who would harm her and Spike were destroyed. She had already slashed Kendra’s throat—and it had been marvelous. When she found the proper moment, she would kill Angel as well. And Buffy . . . Blood pooled in the corners of Drusilla’s mouth, a nice contrast to her black gown, as she silently followed Buffy through her house.
Buffy, I shall kill tonight. As soon as I can.
* * *
Sleepily, Buffy opened the door to the bathroom, and inexplicably stepped into the Bronze, the club where everyone in Sunnydale hooked up.
Though there was no band, music echoed hauntingly off the walls as smiling couples glided together. Their smiles were dreamy; they moved slowly, passing around and beneath glows of golden light and into shadow. Making her way through what seemed a maze of languid, otherworldly images, Buffy was dazed. She felt as though she were underwater, and yet, she was part of the otherworldly scene, so she didn’t quite make sense, either.
Her redheaded best friend, Willow Rosenberg, perched at on
Bewildered, she walked on, to come upon her mother, standing by a post and drinking coffee from a cup very much like Willow’s. As she lifted the cup to her lips, she regarded Buffy eerily and asked her daughter, “Do you really think you’re ready, Buffy?”
Buffy frowned. “What?”
As Buffy waited for a response, the saucer slipped from Joyce’s grasp, crashed to the floor, and shattered. As if she didn’t even notice, Joyce blankly turned and walked dreamily away.
Again, Buffy moved on, finding herself on the dance floor. Couples danced, the whispery, sensuous music twining around them, as Buffy wandered, alone.
Then the crowd parted.
And like a candle in the darkness, he was there.
Angel, she thought radiantly, as the tall, mysterious vampire smiled back at her. Dressed all in black, he was the center of the room; there was light in his face—for her—and light in her heart, as their eyes met and held. Though he stood several feet away, she felt his touch on her skin, the brush of his lips on her cheek. His smoldering gaze told her he felt the same; no one could love this much, and want this much, and not feel it . . .
As if in a trance, they walked toward each other, hands outstretched.
Oh, my love, Buffy thought. My life . . .
Then like an attacking beast, Drusilla appeared behind Angel. As Buffy watched in horror, the vampire raised a large, gleaming knife and stabbed him viciously in the back.
Buffy screamed, “Angel!”
His shaking hand strained toward hers, crumbling to ashes before her eyes. He had time to look at her, with a soft moan, and agony in his eyes—Buffy, help me; love me forever . . .
He exploded into dust.
Drusilla stood fully revealed in her true vampire face, her golden eyes shining with glee.
“Happy Birthday, Buffy,” she said, relishing Buffy’s despair.
* * *
Buffy bolted upright, panting and sickened with terror.
She was in her bed.
It had been a dream.
Nothing but a dream.
Since moving to Sunnydale, Angel had lived in a subbasement apartment. He kept the lights muted, favoring Japanese-style lamps of paper, and decorated the apartment with only a few prized possessions from his many years of life. It was a lonely place in many ways, but it was his sanctuary as well. In life, he had not been much of an intellectual. But that was one thing he had remedied since becoming a vampire. In fact, he thought too much. And too much thinking led to brooding.
There was a soft knock at his door. It was just past dawn, and he had been fast asleep. Like his evil vampire brethren, Angel slept during the day, if he slept at all.
Muzzily, he got out of bed in his drawstring sweats and moved to answer the door.
“Angel?” Buffy called through the door.
The sound of her voice both delighted and puzzled him. He was unused to seeing her during the day.
“Hold on,” he told her, opening the door.
She was beautiful, dressed for school in a very short black-and-white dress and a white jacket. He was very aware of the fact that he was half-dressed as he stepped back to let her in.
“Hey, I . . . everything okay?” he asked her, his protective concern for her at least temporarily replacing his instantaneous reaction of lust upon smelling her vanilla perfume and sweeping his gaze over her lovely body.
She gazed up at him, searching his face. Her face was clouded with worry. “That’s what I was going to ask you. You’re okay, right?”
He was thrown by the alarm in her voice. “Sure. I’m fine. What’s up?”
She walked in and set down her purse, looking away. She wiped her mouth and looped her hair around her ear, gestures she made when she was nervous or uneasy. “I had this dream that Drusilla was alive.”
Drusilla, he thought. The last time he had seen her, she had nearly killed him. In his remorse for what he had done to her, he had almost welcomed the torture she had inflicted on him, splashing him with holy water so that his flesh burned and blistered.
When he had met her back in England during the Victorian era, she had been an innocent young girl tormented by her ability to see visions. Angel had used her fear against her and driven her insane. But first, he killed everyone she loved—all her family and her friends. When she tried to escape him by entering a convent, he changed her into a vampire the same night she took her holy vows.
He was her sire, as Darla had been his. He had made her what she was. And he, Buffy, and Kendra had destroyed her. Of that he was certain.
But Buffy was clearly upset. Angel asked softly, “What happened?” In a gesture of good manners, and not from any desire on his part to do so, he moved to put on his shirt as he waited for her answer.
Buffy spoke in a rush, looking up at him as if to reassure herself that he was still there. “She killed you. Right in front of me.”
“It was just a dream,” he soothed, longing to comfort her in his embrace. “It wasn’t real.”
“It felt so real.” Her voice was raspy and frightened. Her eyes were huge in her delicate face.
He tried to satisfy his need to hold her by cupping her cheek. “It wasn’t. I’m right here.”
She moved her face into his hand, then took a breath and rushed on. Tingles raced through his body. With all the focus he could muster, he tried to concentrate on her words.
“Angel, this happened before. The dreams that I had about the Master. They came true.”
The Master—who had once been his master—had been an evil vampire king trapped in a ruined church beneath Sunnydale. Buffy had dreamed of him before he made his presence known. The Master had succeeded in actually killing Buffy. Xander Harris, a guy friend of Buffy’s who loved her and detested Angel, had brought her back to life with CPR. Angel could not have done it; he had no breath in his lungs to give her. If Xander had not been there, Buffy would be dead now.
Exactly as she dreamed.
“Still,” he said now, trying to calm himself as well as Buffy, as he touched the lapel of her jacket, “not every dream you have comes true. I mean, what else did you dream last night?” He kept his voice gentle. “Can you remember?”
She thought a moment. Then she looked a little sheepish.
“I dreamed that Giles and I opened an office supply warehouse in Vegas.”
He smiled. “You see my point.”
“Yeah. I do.” She looked down, then back up at him. “But what if Drusilla is alive? I mean, we never saw her body.”
He embraced her gently to stop the torrent of words, and of her fear. If Drusilla’s alive, she won’t rest until Buffy’s dead. And I can never permit that.
“She’s not.” His voice was firm and he looked at her steadily, though his own alarm was growing. “But even if she was, we’d deal.”
Buffy was not placated. “But what if she—”
This time, he silenced her with a kiss. She tensed for a second, and then she relaxed into it. Her lips were hot against his cool mouth; her body was strong and coursing with energy. The room was charged; the intensity rose in the dark intimacy of his apartment.
The bed, he thought, I’ll carry her there, and—
With extreme difficulty, he finished the kiss, pulling gently away, though inside he was on fire. “What if what?”
Her voice was a whisper, as she said, “I’m sorry. Were we talking?”
Oh, Buffy. Sweet Buffy.
Who began the next kiss? They moved as one being; when their lips touched, they both gasped. Arms reached, caressed, embraced; rings glinted as fingers gripped arms and shoulders, caressed necks, and c
Is there a world anywhere but here, in her arms?
She leaned up and into him; he was bowed slightly over her, wanting her desperately, his passion rising. He lost track of thought; all he was, was need.
And then she broke away, looking a little frightened, and stammered, “I’m sorry, I . . . I have to go to school.”
She turned and almost ran, and though he said, “I know,” he followed her, grabbed her arm, and pulled her around into his embrace.
They were kissing again, as they were meant to. He wanted her so much. He needed her.
“Oh, God, you feel—” she whispered.
In that moment, he knew he had a choice to make. He chose for her, not for himself.
He said, “You have to go to school.”
She began to walk backward toward the door. “All right. This is me. I’m going.”
Her gaze said otherwise. He pursued her. He couldn’t stop himself. Lover, predator—he was both. Vampires did not ask for things. They did not deny themselves.
He came up to her and put his arms around her. The door was a welcome barrier to her flight as her back pushed against it. She raised her right hand slightly and it fluttered down onto his shoulder as she moaned. He kept kissing her, allowing himself to reveal how much he wanted her, his need growing, as he neared her neck with his kisses. He almost bit down. She gave a tiny cry, perhaps not realizing what she was doing, and then they both smiled a little. He was, after all, a vampire. Danger was mixed in with the lust, and the love.
Too much danger, Angel told himself, for her. Slayer she might be, but she’s very young, and still innocent. It’s up to me to be strong.
She would never realize what it took for him to break the mood as he said, “You still haven’t told me what you want for your birthday,”
She smiled sweetly at him, looking girlish and a little shy, and said, “Surprise me.”