Title: The Soul Chronicles-- #1 Emotions
Summary: Angel and his crew team up with Scully and hers to track down an elusive Vampire FBI agent. Book 1.
Book 1: Emotions
1999, Los Angeles
I didn't understand at first.
I mean, I understood most of it. I understood the lovely woman standing in my office. I understood her accomplices, all grim-jawed and trying to look more buff and self-assured than they were. This feeling was not similar throughout her.
The woman wasn't exactly a young woman, but I was true to my word about lovely. She had beautiful, natural red hair that played around her ears and cheeks fashionably, toying at her neckline, shortish. Once or twice she brushed a crimson strand out of her way.
There were three others, two women and a lanky blonde-haired man with a nervous attitude towards nearly everything. They came into my office without appointment; Cordy led them in and just shrugged from her position behind them.
I couldn't tell what was wrong. I smelt fear on the three of them, but not on her. She was unafraid, but with something weighing on her heart and mind that I didn't need vampire senses to sort out.
"Can I help you?"
She stepped forwards, and a second later her gang followed suit. I smelled new things now; I smelled several new things. From the woman to the left I smelt lavender perfume; unimportant. The man smelled jumpy. The other woman had nothing of interest.
I smelled a man on the red-haired one.
The scent was strong there, not only from her clothes and person but from her eyes and soul.
But not just any man--after all, the other girls had the similar faint traces of a male on them, and I could smell the tiniest amount of another's perfume on the guy. But the small, fierce woman carried with her something more...something that went deeper than the odd date and occasional boyfriend. But of course, I also picked up several other things from just the scent.
This was a dead man.
I knew the oh-so familiar scent that drew the line between the dead and the living. Usually I have not only scent, but the lack of heart and lung beats to follow. The first thing I smelled from the woman was a vampire; I heard her vital signs, of course, so I knew it couldn't be her. The scent was strong, but in a way that perhaps only a vampire could detect; I could deduct that she either lived with him, or spent most of her time with him.
Something told me that my visitors were here for a reason resembling this man.
"This is a P.I. service," the red-haired woman noted firstoff, looking around my office critically and thinking for a moment. Her voice was crisp, with a hint of a sneer. She turned partially towards the door. "I heard otherwise. I'm sorry."
She was already halfway across the room, her companions confused and torn between staying and following. "P.I.," she'd said. Only cops call it that, sometimes kids that think the term is cool. But she didn't strike me as a cop kind of person. Her friends, maybe. Just maybe.
"Wait. What did you hear?" I partially stood. Ready to keep them in my office. Nobody walks out on me if they're in some kind of trouble. That woman was in some kind of trouble.
She stopped by the door and snapped her head back to me, giving me an almost judgmental stare before slowly winding her way back towards me. The look she gave me was well-worn and suited her face perfectly; by the way her eyes flicked across my features I would have guessed that her senses were just as strong as mine.
"I don't think you'd understand."
She studied me some more, her friends looking me over but concentrating on her, wondering what she was doing no doubt. Their senses of nervousness were still on high; I got the feeling that, besides being introduced, they knew little more about their partner than I did. The woman was cool around me, though. It wasn't faked, either; I could hear her heart and lungs pounding loud in my ears, and even they were calm and steady. Impressive. Very impressive.
"A good friend of mine died," she began slowly, as if I wasn't going to understand and she didn't want to repeat herself. "A year and a half ago. However somehow throughout this he managed to remain animate, and so has continued on 'living', with only several people aware of the whole thing." She spoke as if even she had trouble believing it.
I blinked once. If she'd been expecting a skeptic movement from me she wasn't going to be rewarded. "...and...?" I prompted. She just raised one eyebrow. She was wondering if I was taking her seriously or not, taking time to discern my true thoughts. "Your friend is a vampire, nobody knows he is dead......what can I do for you?"
Her face barely twitched as she realized I was accepting her story, and I shifted comfortably, nodding towards the chairs in case they were interested in sitting down. Now that she knew I wouldn't laugh in her face, maybe she would come out with her problem more easily. I sat down behind my desk and clasped my hands before me, smiling softly. None of my visitors sat.
"My.....our problem is that a week and a half ago, something happened to him and it completely changed his persona. He bit me, attacked friends of mine, and took off. I threw together a team," a nod over her shoulder towards the other three, "and traced him to Los Angeles." She took a breath slowly, carefully, controlled. "Although it goes against my normal quota to say so......I believe that something has......." Her voice did not fault, but she looked like she was having a difficult time spitting it out. Against her quota? She pressed her lips into a short, tight line and forced herself to say it. ".....*possessed* him."
I shifted a slight bit in my seat, blinking once or twice, sucking in carefully timed but unneeded breaths of air, if only to create the illusion of my breathing. Her statement had definitely caught my attention. It sounded as if her "friend" had died, kept his soul, then lost it just now. That was some trick.
"We followed him here--he arrived the evening before last, we got here last night. So far, we have had no luck whatsoever in finding him. We dug deeper, searching for some kind of specialized help, and came up with Angel Investigations. With you."
I smiled gently, trying to be gentle with the quiet but dangerous red-haired ticking time bomb before me. "Who's we?"
Without so much as an apology at the neglection of a proper introduction, she barely blinked and motioned one by one to the people over her shoulder, never breaking eye contact with me.
"This is Cedar Jades, a close friend of mine, and columnist for the _Washington Post_," she indicated the tall brunette over her right shoulder, who was picking at a out-of-season scarf carefully tied around her neck, no doubt to cover bite marks. She watched me with sharp brown eyes, biting her lip. She couldn't have been more than twenty-two. "Special Agent Amanda Barnes, Violent Crimes specialist, PhD in Behavioral Sciences," The blonde, loitering with arms crossed behind her, was small but strong-looking, and smelled faintly of sweat from an early-morning workout and jog. Her straight blonde hair was pulled back in a tight braid, which was neatly coiled into a bun behind her head. "And Special Agent Nick Harris, Computer Crimes, Internet and Software tracking, former employee of the Bell Atlantic phone company." Harris had noticeably bleached blonde hair and seemed more nervous than the others put together. He wasn't all that tall, and he wasn't all that buff, but he sure looked weedy enough to be a computer crimes expert.
Their leader maintained eye contact with me, and after a miniscule pause she continued.
"My name is Special Agent Dana Scully--and you are Angelus, the vampire."
I felt the muscles in my abdomen tighten at the mention of my former, more infamous title and I couldn't help shifting a little. By now, Cordelia and Wesley were flanking our customers and had heard most of the conversation.
"You're....FBI?" I guessed meekly, trying to take my unmasking with Dana Scully's similar, unaffected stride. I'm afraid it didn't go exactly how I pictured it to go. I noted that three heads nodded; Ms. Jades, I suppose, was not. I quickly assumed that the agents couldn't possibly be here on official FBI business.
Wesley dove in with questions, much to my distaste. He coughed lightly to get the visitors' attentions, then focused on their leader seriously. "How exactly did you come across that information, Agent Scully?" All right, I guess I was a little interested there. Wesley had a point. I try not to let that out too early in conversations; It tends to frighten the customers.
She barely moved a muscle, except for turning to look at Wesley and back to me. "A little bit of research, a little asking around, and a few dead giveaways; no pun intended." Apparently she was used to the undead; someone new to the whole vampire thing would not joke so openly about it. Not that I thought it was intended as a joke; but by her tone I'd guess she'd used it before in lighter situations. But I was still wondering how she saw through my pseudo- living thing.
Trying to take on a little humor of my own, I said, "Mind telling me what I was doing wrong?"
Ms. Scully snapped from client mode into superior-information mode quickly and easily, taking me a little too seriously. Keeping her same expression, she said, "You don't move enough, you blink either too much or too little, and you occasionally forget to breathe. The blinds are drawn in here as to keep out most of the sunlight, and we noted that your car has unnaturally dark tinted windows. You did not turn up in any of the surveillance photos Harris took last night, and as I look around your office, even, I notice you have every different kind of vampire-slaying mechanism ever created with the exception of a cross or crucifix. Finally your skin is too pale and your lips are too red, indicating that you have not been drinking much blood over the last three days, and you have a cut on your cheek where you most likely had an accident while shaving." She said all this casually. I rubbed my cheek thoughtfully; damn.
"hm," I offered, feeling a little uncomfortable.
A loud "Ahuummph," from the corner of the room caught the clients' attentions. "If I might venture far enough to ask, Agent Scully--I believe what's happened to your friend is that he has--well--lost his soul. But you seemed to indicate that he had it in the first place, which confuses me." Wesley was making a show of his intelligence, as usual.
Yes, confuses me too. Ms. Scully looked from Wesley to me with a slight look of confusion on her face, barely traceable from all the other blank expressions she had been making a show of. "His soul? How would dying affect his soul? He didn't even acknowledge he was dead until he was on an airplane back to DC."
"When a vampire is sired, the person dies and a demon inhabits the body. You didn't notice.......?" I asked carefully.
"No, nothing happened. I didn't even know about it for a month."
I sat back, puzzled. "So he died, and now a year and a half later, he's lost his soul?"
"Something happened. Yes, I guess lack of soul could qualify," she said stonily, maybe sarcastically. "Listen. I'm here so I can capture this thing that's taken my partner and get it out. If you can't help me I'll take my business elsewhere."
I stood up and walked around my desk, holding out my hand. She sighed, realizing she'd won, and we clasped hands.
"Believe me," I said quietly, "there is no elsewhere."
Carmen smiled carefully at all the guys who passed her table.
Some were cute, some weren't, some looked really drunk, some looked lost. She smiled at all of them, nursing a mug of beer and trying to look....well....single.
The fact that she'd just been dumped was probably written across her forehead, she thought angrily as none of the men stopped by her table. Jason was such a nice guy--or until he met a nice girl. Which wasn't her. She thought if she went to a local bar she would see the other pour souls there and not feel so bad. Actually, more than half the people there looked a lot happier than Carmen felt.
She looked into her Budweiser sadly and noticed a tear plip into the mug, all on its own. She hastily wiped the tears out of her eyes; she didn't need them right then.
Startled, Carmen looked up into a soft face; a man who had sat down beside her, heaven forbid! She smiled to him and tried to laugh a little, but it came out all wrong.
"Tough night?" He said quietly, leaning on the table with his elbows. He was really cute. Handsome, even, after watching his face long enough. His smile was cute, though.
"Yeah," Carmen mumbled through a smile. "Dumped."
He frowned. "Same here," he sighed wearily and ran a hand through his dark hair. "What's your name?" he asked meekly a second later, changing the subject. Carmen told him readily, not minding the change of topic. Obviously they'd both been hit hard, and neither wanted to talk about it.
"What about you?"
He winced. "Eddy," he said with a vague wave. "You'd think two parents could think of something more creative. Eddy."
"What would you rather it be?" Carmen asked, leaning her own elbows against the table. She was starting to wish she'd worn her low v-cut shirt instead of her old turtleneck. But then again, it was kind of chilly out that night.
Eddy half-smiled and looked up, musing. "Well.....you like James? I mean, James Bond, you know. Always kind of liked James."
"Okay," Carmen said with a small smile. "Then I'll call you James. How do you like that?"
Eddy/James smiled a little more. His face crinkled a little as he did so, and he looked down at the table. Carmen touched his hand with a smile of her own. "What about me? I've always liked the name Fi--short for Fiona, but Fiona I don't like as much."
"Fi," repeated Carmen dreamily.
"James and Fi," Eddy said firmly.
They talked for a while, holding an animated conversation about family and relationships, how guys can be a bitch and girls you just can't trust, and immediately forgot everything they were talking about. Instead they laughed and talked more about sports or high school dates, basketball or baseball, idiotic places for the future Olympics to be held--(The South Pole, Liechtenstein, Rural West Virginia...."Winter Olympics right here in LA!" Ed/James had yelled,)--and anything else that came to mind.
Closing time came, so Fi and James were made to leave. They left, hailed a cab, pulled up by a hotel and--as they say--one thing definitely led to another.
Carmen was alarmed at first by her one-night-stand's almost immediate affection--he caught her hand before she could hit the light switch and their first kiss was probably the most intimate kiss the young woman had ever received. They finally parted and, deciding more would be better, Carmen snaked an arm around her partner's neck and asked.
He met her with another ferocious kiss, pulling her onto the bed with smooth, fluid power and grace, and soon their clothes lay discarded around them on the floor of the room.
Carmen--no, Fi, she told herself, tonight I am Fi--shuddered at the intensity of his drive and in one corner of her mind wondered how a wonderful lover like "James" here could possibly be dumped by even the most snobby of girls. He certainly was nice and he *certainly* had the stuff.
Ed kissed her roughly, and although Carmen had never experienced this kind of intimacy before, she figured she was liking it and didn't even try to back down. In fact, she was beginning to like it more and more as his biting kisses made their way down her face and neck and chest, and she began to think that maybe this could go on a little longer than just one night.
She groaned into the darkness and the kisses returned to her lips, full force and driving, and slowly began their way down again. He kissed her temple.
Carmen's heart fluttered and she closed her eyes. He kissed below her jaw.
She was feeling kind of dirty doing what she was doing, being raised by The Church, always listening to her parent's preaches....but at the moment decided that she would figure everything out later and live the moment. He kissed the side of her neck, biting again.
She groaned again. This was *just* too good. He kissed her neck again.
Carmen/Fi felt something wet around her shoulders and for a second she let one arm slip from her partner's back to see what it was. Even in the darkness she could tell it was blood. Blood?
They were no longer kisses. They were sharp bites. Too sharp. Too friendly.
Every muscle in her body tensed, and the man above her continued his un-felt caresses of her body. Carmen finally opened her mouth to scream, but her throat did not oblige, and not even a squeak came from her throat.
He drank his full and got dressed, leaving the warm carcass of the woman lying limply on the bed while he dressed and left the room, carefully wiping his fingerprints from the doorknob and the blood from his lips before he left.
He climbed into a cab, looking over his shoulder at the quiet hotel with only a hint of a smile on his face. They wouldn't catch him. They couldn't.
Fox Mulder, after all, knew how to get away.
"No," she'd said.
I paused, my hand a few inches from my duster, which hung ready over the coat rack, and turned around. "Excuse me?"
I'd just suggested we check up on some leads during the day and scour the LA underbelly that evening. Agent Scully obviously believed otherwise. She glared up at me. "I said no. Listen, I know this guy like the back of my hand-- he's going to sleep from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, then he's going to wake up and start raiding the night clubs. If he doesn't kill somebody from nightfall to 10:00 PM, he's going to at least be eyeing female bodies--okay? After midnight, through to 10:00 tomorrow morning, he's going to be looking for his sire--someone he can connect with. We've got to either get to him, or find her."
I just froze for a minute, beginning to think there was some sort of difference between my species of vampire and this guy's. "Um, through ten AM?" I said, "Isn't that a little bright and early, emphasis on bright?"
Agent Scully raised an eyebrow. "I can't go out in sunlight," I said in a reasonable tone.
"Yeah, he'll like catch fire and be reduced to smoldering ash," Cordelia piped up, twirling a pen over her fingers. Wesley and I shot her a 'not now, Cordy' kind of look and she just shrugged. Besides, I didn't think Dana and her band of makeshift Vampire slayers needed advice from "Flake Queen" over there just then.
"Indirect sunlight is ok," I said, indicating the blinds that had darkened, but not completely blacked out, my office. Scully took on the first confused expression I'd seen her display that afternoon and turned to her friends in a quiet conversation. I heard it quite well.
"Yeah, I kind of noticed. You said--"
"I *know* what I said, Harris! I also know what we're looking for. Angelus is probably just a different species of--"
I didn't feel comfortable with their conversation, as loud in my ears as the pounding of their heart and lungs, so I interrupted. "I prefer Angel," I said calmly. Agent Scully looked away from her group and gave me a once-over quickly.
"What's your line?"
"Your....line. Breed. of vampirism."
She half-nodded and tried again. "My partner's line is from a French group of vampires, possibly former inhabitants of Transylvania, who immigrated from Vichi in the seventeen hundreds. They drifted from New Orleans to Michigan around 1913, then a band of them moved to Los Angels a year and a half ago- -that drew my partner there for investigation, and they killed him." She paused and swallowed as if she was giving a history lecture. "The breed's name is _Chat de Vichi_, which translates to "Cat of Vichi"."
I paused her with my hand and motioned for Wesley, who was already pulling out textbooks; Cordy had long since logged onto the Internet. I listened further.
"His abilities and disabilities you may not be familiar with--the daylight and so on." Agent Scully crossed her arms and closed her eyes for a second as she cleared her throat. "He has no reflection, no shadow. His interaction with the sun is hardly limited; he usually wears sunscreen, long sleeves and sunglasses, hardly containing him to the night. He sleeps very little, he can see in the dark and has perfect vision otherwise.
"He can cross moving water at any time, but with difficulty if not at the slack or flow of the tide. The Cross and the Crucifix are heavily effective against him, and garlic powder or salt can keep him contained and unconscious if need be.
"He does not breathe, but can create the illusion of doing so, as you demonstrated; he has no pulse, and the only ways of killing him to my knowledge are the traditional staking and decapitation, and the rare sacred bullet through his heart or spine--not that I'm all too sure what "sacred" means."
She ended her speech and turned to me. "So?"
I closed my eyes and shook my head, clearing my mind. "Sounds distinctively like _Dracula,_" I mumbled. She nodded.
"It was one of the first novels of its kind; like I said, this breed may have migrated from Transylvania. Plenty of the facts are true. However, he can't shapeshift or vanish, or control the weather. Basically, he's dead but can walk and talk all the same. Not to mention he usually heals when you blow a hole in him."
Her FBI teammates shifted uneasily at this.
I shifted my jaw. "There are other ways." I pointed out with a short nod.
She just nodded back, but right then the phone rang and Cordelia growled something about being kicked off the net, and answered it. We fell silent. "Angel Investiga--oh, hi. N--oh. Oh." The last 'oh' was considerably important, seeing the color drain from Cordy's face until she was nearly as pale as me. She eventually hung up.
"Who was it?" I asked, but I had a pretty good idea. Let's just say LAPD likes to keep me informed of any....weird stuff.
"They found a body. Definitely vamped. Last night." Cordy sighed and shook her head a little. Some of the color returned to her face.
"What happened?" Agent Harris asked--the first person besides Dana Scully to speak. He had dark eyes that darted back and forth, just as nervous as before, but excited that the game was going back into his field of play--not this nonsense "vampire" stuff, right?
Cordy shrugged. "Kate got one look at the cause of death and wrapped it up for us. Happy, happy, joy, joy."
I grabbed my duster and hurried towards the door of my office. It was about noon, but overcast. I could probably make it to my car without turning into a pile of smoldering ash. I turned to Agent Scully. "Dana--"
"Scully," she snapped. I had to restrain myself at jumping back from her, the way she snapped at me. I just noted that and moved on.
"Scully--I'm going to need a picture of this guy."
"Cause of death, fatal puncture marks in major arteries, loss of blood. Body is nude, no signs of struggle, no fingerprints. Shower was not run." Scully seemed to be telling this to herself as she slowly navigated the room, eyes flickering back and forth. I followed her a little, at least, until one of the police officers still crawling around the area pulled back the shades and the afternoon sunlight prickled against my skin. She paced around to the side of the bed and suddenly shouted "NO ONE MOVE!"
No one moved.
She slowly knelt down, bending in one direction curiously. I moved around to see what she was looking at, even if it was into the sun, and would have gasped if I had needed the air.
A slight distortion of the rug in one direction, and the perfect lighting. Looked like a shoeprint, from a boot or heavy tennis shoe. I watched my new cooperative measure the size of the print with her hand, then look up to me.
"How tall are you?" I frowned, told her. "Shoe size?"
She marveled over the information and told me where to stick my foot. Frowning, I made a similar impression next to the one in the rug and she examined it.
Scully sighed finally, getting up from her crouch. "Well, I guess we know *who* did it," She murmured to myself and her team, "but I don't know how we're going to catch up with him. He could be anywhere by now; all we can tell from this is that he might do it again."
She was disturbed, and had reason to. For the sake of her friends, however, she did her best to hold her thoughts inside, where even my advanced senses could not penetrate far. The agent pushed up the wall that enclosed her emotions and shook her head at the hotel room. I noted her insensitivity at the sight of the bloodied body entangled in recently crimson-colored sheets on the bed; like this was routine. I knew that a strong person like her could easily reference herself back into a different situation; it wasn't _necessarily_ her friend that killed this woman. And even if in her head she knew that he did, she would continue to tell her heart that it was just another grisly murder scene.
"Fingerprints?" I asked, indicating the light switch, doorknob, tv, and lamp.
All I received was a distinct shake of the head from Agent Barnes, her blonde hair lighting up like a halo in the strange lighting. "Mulder is a Federal Agent. He investigates murders just like the one you're looking at. He was a top profiler in VCS. He got inside serial killers' heads. He knows *how* it's done."
Scully nodded numbly. "And now we've got a Possessed Mulder, ransacking Los Angeles and not giving a damn about it."
I felt something inside of her break and start to cry. It's hard to explain how something inside someone cries, but it does. I knew. I understood first hand what her friend was going through. If we ever got him back, if he understood what it was he had done, he would feel the way I've felt for a long, long time. Since I became Angel, not Angelus. Long, unbroken regret.
Here before me was a woman who had witnessed firsthand an evil; and she knew that it was someone close to her who committed that evil.
She had told me he'd bitten her. Bitten, raped, beaten, tortured......I didn't know. Didn't want to know. I got enough of that every day. I got it in my dreams, and in my dreams I wasn't the one receiving it. I was the one dealing it out. That hurt more than being abused. Having a soul.
I looked down at the photo I'd been given of this man. This vampire. It was taken some time ago, of course, before his death; we vampires don't exactly come out on film. He was good looking; the kind of conservative, mild kind of good-looking that movie stars tend to take on ever so often. He appeared to be about in his late twenties to mid thirties, hard to be sure. He was looking at the camera with a small smile and an expression that read "why are you pointing that thing at me?"
My stomach churned, as inhuman as it was. He was good looking. And the only problem with that was the more handsome he looked, the more likely he was going to hook more and more women unsuspectingly.
I looked to Scully again and the pain her carefully-tuned monotone expression fed to me. I tried to picture him beside her--behind her maybe, as they conducted an investigation; I saw no romance, for some reason, which, seeing how handsome a couple they were, was strange. No, there was a stronger bond here than love; something that went beyond that. something that I only had had a hint of in my long afterlife, and I had ruined that odd relationship.
We left the hotel and split up--all seven of us, Scully's three and my Cordy and Wesley--and each tackled bars in the local area, all making sure we had each others' cell phone numbers. If we saw or heard from him, we would make ourselves scarce, keep an eye on things, and call *then*.
It was about seven and I'd spent a long time sitting in a particularly dreary and low-class bar, smelling the cheap booze off of other people--sometimes vampires!--in the area. I looked at the photo again, putting the guy's face to memory. It wasn't that hard; he had pretty distinct features--big nose, hazel eyes, wide forehead, long face. I tried to remember the smell I'd gotten off of Agent Scully, and figured I would be able to pick him up by the info that I had.
But then again, it was one cheap bar out of many in Los Angeles. I really should have been moving to a different site, but I got a strange kind of intuition from this place.
Cordy walked in about fifteen minutes later and sat down next to me, a kind of dazed look in her eye and a weak, distant sort of voice. "Angel. Wow. Talk about luck."
"What's brought you here?" I sighed, feeling boredom creep up on me. Maybe with Cordy here, I could go try someplace else.
She got a nervous sort of look on her face and leaned in towards me. "I got a vision," she murmured, "I was going to call you or Wesley, but I came in here first."
"What did you see?" I asked, matching her low tones.
"This bar," she said, gulping considerably, "the guy in that picture."
I looked around, making a check of the place quickly. Nothing. "You armed?" I asked, keeping the tone low. She dug her hand into her jeans pocket and brought out a pinch full of salt, letting it fall to the ground. She showed me her holy water spray bottle in her purse and the silver cross she had decided to adorn herself with, then patted the inside of her pea coat where I knew she'd stashed a stake. Yeah, I guess she was pretty ready. I myself had a good sized cross in my inside coat pocket; but I had gloves ready and it was wrapped in a towel. From what I'd heard from Scully and Wesley, this breed of vamp didn't like to be *anywhere* near the holy symbol. Neither did I, but at least I could stand it with gloves on.
I was trying to remember Scully's cell phone number when Cordy jabbed me warningly in the ribs. I looked at her; she was reading a newspaper boredly.
I sniffed the air; there it was.
Looked around. There he was.
Jesus, he looked just like the average person. Excited hazel colored eyes, a pleasant smile, and on the tall side....nose maybe a little too big, but nothing worth hiding. He wore jeans, what looked like a Nicks shirt and a black leather jacket over that.
His face was something different than the photograph suggested; if I'd seen him on the street in the right outfit I'd have guessed businessman; and in a way that's what he was, an FBI agent. But the photo and the real thing shared differences; he was brighter here, more cheerful, and there was no hint of dark circles under his eyes.
Just a normal guy, right?
He walked past us casually, looking around and finally sitting down at an empty table. I jabbed Cordy back, silently persuading her to hit it off with that guy. The number one way to keep and eye on him, in my opinion. I dialed Scully and told her I had him, my location, and abruptly hung up. I was already on the line with Wesley as Cordelia sat down next to the enemy and flashed a cute smile.
He smiled back placidly, not daring to show his teeth.
I had a feeling I'd be seeing them soon, though.
They started talking, and Cordy laughed a whole lot--that really fake laugh that she sometimes uses in flirtation mode--at nearly everything, and whenever she got the chance shooting me a poisonous glance reading, "DO SOMETHING!" But there was nothing I could do; nothing, until we got him out of the bar and somewhere secluded. I jerked my head to the door, hoping she got the message, and she giddily and teasingly pulled him towards the exit.
The vampire, acting modestly reluctant, followed Cordy out of the bar.
I stood up and left a minute or two later, keeping an eye on them as I shadowed them down the street. He was a good actor; even from far-off I could see how carefully he timed his movements. I could see his chest rising and falling with every faked breath; he blinked at all the right times. I could only hope Cordy knew when to make a break for it.
She didn't get a chance to.
Maybe he caught her off-guard, maybe she was looking for me; maybe he just smelled the wrong people on her person. Suddenly he looked around for anyone following them and, although smoothly, he wrapped a super strong arm around Cordelia's midsection and slipped his other hand over her mouth. I could hear her muffled yells from my position and, as he slid into a dark alley off to the side, I started running.
I slid around into the alley, noticing that even though my friend was well- prepared for this kind of incident, she was helpless. Mulder had her pinned to the wall and was hunched over her neck; I could see driblets of blood rolling down her always-perfect skin.
Before I realized it I had the cross out, having already slipped the thick, black leather glove over my hand. "Get away from her, now," I growled, advancing with the cross held as far away from myself as possible.
The reaction was immediate. He drew back--"Shit!"--and wiped his lips on his sleeve, already pulling away from Cordelia. I paused long enough to make sure Cordy was all right--she was, nursing the two near-perfect cuts on her neck--then advanced more.
Mulder stumbled backwards as I pushed the cross closer to him. The one thing that amazed--simply amazed me was his face. It wasn't distorted, it wasn't "vamped out" as it's been called, even though it should have been. I could see his teeth--sharper, more precise than mine were.
Hoping to corner him I boxed him in against the wall, keeping him from moving with the help of the cross, and as soon as he discovered he was trapped he turned straight to me. He drew up as close to the wall as was possible and tensed, and then--I swear it--he hissed.
Hissed. Not growled.
I kept my place and listened to the inhuman--and definitely not vampire-- sound, thinking of a cat cornered and ready to attack at any costs. We froze, two Undead ready for whatever was to happen. If we'd had hearts, certainly both of them would have been pounding like kettle drums.
"Who sent you?" he hissed. "It's that goddamned bitch, isn't it? She's going to--"
"Shut up!" I growled, interrupting him, and pushed the cross closer to him. He flattened himself up to the wall and hissed again, like a trapped animal.
"Here," Cordy said, stuffing her hand into her pocket and bringing it out with a handful of salt. She sprinkled a circle around our prisoner, then took the spray bottle out of her purse. "This is filled up with holy water--don't believe me? Try something." She sprayed it over her shoulder for effect.
Mulder turned to me. His mouth was partially open and I could see the thin, sharp canine teeth on either side of his mouth. He was silent for a while, before he shallowly nodded towards the cross.
"Cut me some slack, buster." He nodded towards it again, but never left eye contact with me.
I was wondering whether or not he knew of my own vampirism, but decided it would be better if he didn't know my strengths or weaknesses yet. Seeing how utterly uncomfortable he was, I let up about a foot and a half, knowing he should be trapped by the salt, but kept the cross ready. The vampire eased up a little, leaning against the wall instead of flattening himself to it. He put his hands in the pockets of his black leather jacket and smiled.
Damn. If it weren't for the fact that he smelled like a vampire, I might actually believe it for a minute.
There wasn't a minute to believe it in, however, and sooner than later, Scully, Agent Barnes, Ms. Jades and Agent Harris came dashing down the alleyway. Scully stopped a good distance off, taking in the situation--Cordy holding a Kleenex to her neck and prodding at her newly attained injury, me of all people clutching a cross and her 'friend' leaning casually against the wall.
"Hi Scully," he said blankly, nodding in the direction of his former ally. She said nothing, but motioned to her two team members to flank her as she approached. Our captive continued, "Tough night." He smiled. "I know, I know--'Mulder you should be sleeping not running around'....." He drifted off and looked up at her again.
Dana Scully's face was a mixture of emotions, but the biggest one was wariness. I couldn't have her start believing everything he said--he was smart, but he was still a dangerous vampire minus a soul.
Cordy helped out, adding, "I got to play the bait, lucky me. I got him down here and he pulled me in this stinky alley and started the whole blood-sucking thing. Ow." She winced, picking at her wound again.
'Mulder' shook his head, looking at his partner with a hurt expression. "What? Scully--you know I don't do.....*that*.....to people unless it's an absolute emergency!"
I lifted the cross and he flattened against the wall again, hissing. Scully gulped and walked over, unclipping a pair of handcuffs from her belt and taking Mulder's arms, locking his wrists behind his back. "I don't know if I can trust you right now, Mulder," she murmured, flipping him back around. She motioned to the tall brunette to her side, Cedar Jades, and was handed a spray bottle of her own along with what looked like a gun.
She just kept her gaze locked with his and said quietly, "If you understand me, you'll go along with it." She handed the holy water to me, and I carefully held it along with the cross in my gloved hand.
Mulder, or more accurately, the demon playing Mulder, protested the whole way as he was forced to his knees and his head bowed forward. He even tried struggling towards the end, but we took care of it.
When Scully's weapon caught in the moonlight, I felt a wave of shock run through me as I realized what she was doing. She took the gun and rested it on his temple, then whispered something that only I was able to pick up.
"I'll never do this again," she whispered, and then she pulled the trigger.
He woke up about half an hour later--the gunshot wound in his head healed within the first ten minutes, but he remained unconscious as we brought him back to my apartment.
We took every caution getting him there; and every caution once we got there. My apartment suddenly seemed very small, with not only Wesley and Cordy but agent Scully and her team.
I was sitting on the edge of my bed and watching the proceedings: Wesley digging up ropes and chains and crosses and crossbows and basically any other type of defense/control mechanism one could imagine; Agents Scully, Harris and Barnes were securing their former co-worker with the appropriate ropes or other various bonds; Cordy was complaining about the bite marks in her neck, and Ms. Jades was standing off to the side quietly.
I approached the brunette slowly, thoughts crossing my mind. Why was she the only one in the group that wasn't an FBI agent? Did she have some certain connection to them, or Mulder, or did she know something?
"Hi," I said softly. She nodded towards me and looked down, like she was extremely shy or something. I saw through it immediately.
Vampires are creatures of mixed issues; what folklore and Hollywood has made them out to be....what they really are.....what some of them, like me, are.....what people want to believe. So many people have been afraid of me. And so many people have had right to be.
"You're....a vampire," she said after a while. Her voice sounded small, and she avoided looking me directly in the eyes. I nodded sedately, watching her nervously scratch at her neck under her scarf. Then she laughed, howbeit nervously. "...Sorry. I don't....like....most vampires." Her voice was still small.
"You have right to be. Most vampires are not to be liked." I nodded towards Mulder. "And some change from time to time."
"You're ok," she told me, finally looking into my eyes. "you're not bad."
I tried, but I could not keep the weariness out of my voice. "Not now, I'm not," I said sadly, and turned my gaze away.
"C'mon fang boy, let's see something. Come on. Come on! You give me half a second and you're head'll be lyin' across the floor. Yeahh come on tough guy, show some gut. Show some fuckin' sport. S'ave a little fun you sorry--"
I was growing weary of listening to our prisoner rattle on and on about how he was going to suck Cordy and Scully dry and chop my head off, so I glared at Wesley, who was looking through some old books across the room. He seemed to have tuned Mulder out, however, so I just sighed and returned my weary gaze across to the bound-up former Federal agent.
Cordy and Agent Scully had long since tired of researching dead ends, and had eventually struck up a game of War, which neither of them were winning at. Mulder's obscene chatter had, from time to time, faded and come back again, and faded again, until now it was going full blast. I wanted to suggest stuffing his mouth with garlic but I wasn't sure Scully would be too fond of that.
".....Come on ladieees! Three feet to your left you've got the hottest dead guy on planet earth! Scully!--Scully. tell me you don't want it bad, huh?.....you want me, you really want me baby. Yeah.....come oooon I can show you how'ta--"
"Shut. The Hell. Up." Cordy growled, pausing with her card half-drawn. There was a half-second of silence.
"Howabout you baby? Come on I know you liked it. I could see through you......ah-ahhh you like it! Come on, come on, I can give you just what you want, I can be yours...you can be mine....you want it...you like it...come on...."
"Quiet!" Cordy snapped, snatching up the blue spray bottle and squirting him. I watched his mocking and teasing expression instantly become one of agony, as he squirmed in his bonds to try and rub some of the holy water off of himself.
Ouch, I thought, wincing a little of my own. Cordy and Scully both kept water bottles close at hand; that would have been the third time they'd had to use them.
His tone changed dramatically. "Scully....I'm....I'm sorry....I didn't mean....God, I've done so much to hurt you and I didn't.....God....Please, I'm s--"
"Would somebody stuff his trap with garlic?!" Scully snapped towards Wesley and I. I felt silent prayers of relief go through me, and Wesley turned around at the sharpness in her tone.
"Minced garlic. Get some minced garlic," Scully said darkly, staring holes in her dead partner, who was now looking truly regretful. He had fallen completely silent the first time she'd suggested it and was now going slightly paler than he originally had been.
"You're sure?" Said Wesley.
All of us answered this time. "Yes!"
Wesley got up to go look for some garlic (turns out I didn't own any; imagine that, a vampire that doesn't own garlic) and a whimper from the other end of the room signified that we'd hit a note with our prisoner.
"Please, no, I swear I'll be quiet," Mulder said quietly. Scully frowned angrily at him for a long time, then stood up, shaking her head and turning to Wesley.
"You know, I think I've got some in my duffel bag. Duct tape, too, I think."
I winced again; I'd never really thought about it, but having minced garlic stuffed into your mouth probably isn't a dead person's idea of fun. It had never happened with me, but only because Dracula reads that first you stake, then you do the garlic and the head-chopping, and I would turn to dust after being staked.
I assume it's not a very comfortable situation, mouth stuffed with garlic.
"Mulder a la Garlic?" Cordy giggled.
"Shut the fuck up, you bitch."
"Language," Cordy said smoothly, and pulled the trigger on her spray bottle.
Muttering under his breath, he braced the length of rope with a heavy boot and grimaced as he slipped a rope-burnt wrist from the binding. There, he was out.
After he'd managed to get his hands around his legs, the first thing to get off was the stupid garlic gag--the duct tape had been flung across the room and the minced vampire repellant choked out. Stretching his untied limbs, he pulled himself to his feet and tried to ignore the nasty-tasting sting in his mouth.
Carefully looking around the room, he sniggered quietly and stepped over Cordelia's sleeping form, wishing there was some way to hurt *her* with holy water. Shuddering at the thought of the stuff, he rubbed the side of his face viciously to remove any remnants that happened to be lingering.
He started for the living room, but paused as he saw movement, flattening himself to the wall instead. Peering through the hinges of the open door, he cursed under his breath to see Angel pacing calmly around the other room.
Backing away slowly, Mulder checked out his options. No windows, the only escape was through the living room.
He selected a taught crossbow and checked its aim carefully. He would have one likely shot, on account of the weapon wasn't that easy to load.
Casting a lustful eye on the sleeping form of Dana Scully, sprawled uncharacteristically on the bed, he forced himself to stick with his more immediate plan and do her later. Besides, she would put up *quite* a fight, being FBI, and would make a ton of noise.
So instead, he turned away and prepared to take on the *other* vamp.
I heard something in the other room, but figured it was the girls fighting for sleep and kept up my circular pace. I know that some people tend to get restless when faced with danger; and the women probably wouldn't want a guy walking in on them. Wesley had crashed on the couch after taking first watch; I had felt that Cordilia and Wesley should go back to their apartments, but they insisted, saying our new friend could cause trouble and we had safety in numbers.
But while everyone was asleep but me, there was only one of us.
The shaft suddenly protruded from my chest, surprising me quite a bit. Before I could even initialize the pain, I'd been tackled from behind and a strong hand had clamped down over my mouth.
Prisoner has escaped, I thought, feeling rather stupid all of a sudden.
There was a long period of silence; I knew better than to struggle, but I also wondered just what Mulder might do to keep me from waking the others. After the pause, assured that everyone was still asleep, the x-federal agent shifted on top of me. "Not a sound," I heard in a whisper, and obliged readily, now feeling a burn where the arrow had gone through me. A second later there was a clinking noise, and I could feel the cold steel of the handcuffs against my skin.
I listened intently, knowing I had a good chance of being assassinated, and that I had to do something fast. He shifted backwards--reaching? I remembered Scully's bag being propped up against the wall, and I could hear it as he pulled it back towards us both. I strained my ears--I couldn't see him from my position, so I had to rely on other options. There was a clanking of items together as Mulder searched the vampire hunting bag for anything useful, and then a painful hiss--loud at first but instantly hushing as he realized the noise he was making. There was another long pause for signs of activity, then the rustling continued.
The first thing that happens when this is over is I'm teaching Cordy and Wesley how to wake up easier, I thought to myself, trying to look over my shoulder to see what was going on and ignore the pain in chest at the same time. There was a satisfied grunt from behind me, and I began drastically hoping that Agent Scully had not had a stake in her duffel bag.
Turns out she didn't--but she had duct tape and a bunch of minced garlic.
"Agent Scully--Cordelia--Ms. Jades--"
All three of them sat up from their sleeping places, immediately awakened by Wesley's urgent tone. Scully's eyes snapped first to the floor next to the bed-- empty--then to the doorway where Wesley stood wide-eyed. "He's gone!!" the ex-watcher cried, pulling anxiously at a tuft of his bed-head hair.
Scully leapt from the bed, taking a longer look at the abandoned ropes on the floor, then pushed past Wesley into the living room. With a short gasp, she knelt down next to an extremely agitated Angel and set to work unlocking his handcuffs.
"Call Barnes and Harris," She snapped to Cordelia, who was up and ready to complain, (but chose against doing so seeing the situation they were in.) Cordy snatched up the telephone and started dialing the other agents' hotel room numbers while Scully finally got the blamed restraints off of her dead comrade.
Angel tore the duct tape from his mouth and choked out a mouthful of garlic, seemingly immune to the arrow sticking out of his chest. Finally he sat up and groaned. "Nasty stuff," he mumbled, pulling a wry face.
"Let me help you with that," Scully said breathlessly, touching the shaft gingerly. Angel winced. "Wesley, hold him upright."
Rummaging around in her ever-so-handy duffel bag, the agent came out with a bottle of yellowy stuff and a stake. Angel eyed the arrangement wearily, but the pain in his chest was resurfacing. Better sooner than later.
To his surprise, Agent Scully half-shoved the stake into his mouth, and, catching on, he held it in his teeth. Still not knowing what the yellow stuff was for, he prepared to do a lot of biting. "Okay, hold still. It's going to hurt, but if I know my vampires you'll be okay in an hour or two." Angel closed his eyes; he never was one for physical pain.
Scully opened the bottle and dabbed some of the yellowy stuff onto a paper towel, then went about dousing the back end of the arrow shaft. The pressure applied only stung more, and the vampire was suddenly glad he had a stake to bite into.
"Okay, on the count of three, I'm going to snap this thing in half, all right? This might be painful." *Might*, sneered Angel to himself, then prepared himself for it.
Scully worked fast; even before Angel had recovered from the first sting, she was already at work tugging the remainder of the shaft out of his chest. A second later, Wesley was dabbing at the blood on both sides of his friend, and Agent Scully was inspecting the broken, bloody arrow.
"What happened to two and three?" he complained, touching his wound and wincing again.
"Couldn't have you tensing up." Scully responded dryly, wiping blood off the arrow and handing it to the now-healing vampire. "Well, it's out. You did good."
"*You* did pain," Angel snapped. But indeed, he was feeling better.
"Harris and Barnes are on their way. They wanted to know what was making that awful screaming sound, so I told them it was a ghoul." Cordy knelt down beside the others and inspected Angel for herself. "So, where are we going to start looking for this guy? I mean, again?"
They fell silent for a moment. Angel stood up and grabbed a black tee from the back of a chair, noting the amount of blood covering the one he was wearing. Hoping none of the ladies would mind, he peeled off the soiled shirt and quickly pulled on the new one. (Nobody minded; he wondered why nobody ever minded when he took his shirt off?)
"I guess we'll just have to watch the night clubs again," Scully said tiredly.
"I've got some contacts," Angel added quickly, "Some of them are reliable, at least."
"Guys....." It was Cedar Jades, hugging herself and loitering around the doorway. "Um.....I'm not an investigator or anything....."
Everyone stopped what they were doing to listen. Cedar blushed and looked down.
"Well.....I just have this feeling.....that he's not going to be too hard to find."
"Why not?" Wesley asked.
Cedar didn't look up, but she looked at the door rather warily. "Because I think this time....he'll be after us......"
He watched them split into teams from a rental car across the street; the vampire, who staggered along and resisted assistance--he went with Agent Scully. Mulder squinted dangerously as they climbed into his car, which was parked neatly out of the sun on the curb outside the apartment. No. That bastard lowlife could hold crosses towards him any day--but Scully was *his*.
The one with the English accent went with the Brunette. Ahh, Cedar, the vampire recalled, sitting back a little. She was good. What little time he'd spent with her was a satisfying memory. If only she felt the same way.....
But ohh, no, she had to go running to Scully. She had to be on *their* side.
Growling to himself, making a personal note to figure out how to Embrace vampires, and pulling the car out of the parking space, he started to trail the unknowing duo down the street.
We walked side-by-side, sticking to the shadowed side of the street for my sake. Ever so often I'd catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye; I didn't want to be caught looking at her, though.
Her character was one that had to be noticed. She carried with her an air of confidence, and my senses told me it was more than just air. She was strong and brave and proud for a woman; not that women could not be strong and brave and proud, but I have met few like Dana Scully. Without even watching her go through it, I could see her refusing to cry. She was not a child, as I have before been drawn to.....this woman was a very grown-up individual; a very orderly, religious, and by-the book *brave* individual.
She stopped suddenly and looked up. I followed her eyes to a large but boarded up warehouse, whose entrance was down an alley a little ways up. "What?" I asked, looking to see if there was something I'd looked over.
"What's in there?"
I rolled through my memory.....I knew that at least three or four vamp gangs had been known to hide out there; I rarely checked it because they always seemed to know when to split. "Nothing, really. Sometimes vampires hide out there. Why?"
But she was already following the wall around towards the alley, giving the narrow road a thoughtless once-over and taking long strides towards the entrance. I had to hurry to catch up; by the time I was peering into the alley, she was already busy with the lock on the door, holding an electronic lockpick in one hand.
I hoped she knew what she was doing, but I wasn't about to disagree. There could be hundreds of run-down warehouses in this area; but then again, she was pretty sharp with details. She could have easily picked up something I'd missed.
The inside of the warehouse was dark; my counterpart took out a flashlight and checked out the ground floor. I noted that she had left her weapon in its respected holster, and had instead taken on a bottle of Windex filled up with holy water as we made our way into the dark environment.
There didn't seem to be anything on the first floor, which was basically an oversized, barren room with supports sprouting up into the ceiling, boards nailed to the windows to filter out nearly all of the light, so we headed for the metal staircase in the corner. The second floor was slightly different: it was not as roomy, and although the windows remained covered, piles and piles of boards lay stacked on the floor, creating a thick maze that was difficult to navigate without tripping over.
"Okay, you take that side, I'll be over here." Agent Scully glanced at me and I nodded, carefully stepping over a pile of 2x4's on my way towards the opposite end of the room.
I will admit that I did worry about her. It was nature to, I guess. If he was even in the building, he would probably go after her. Not that I thought he would because she was less intimidating than myself; I knew she could hold her own. But this Mulder guy.....he did mean something to her. And as terrible as it may sound, she meant nothing to him.
After a few minutes of searching around, I sighed and stopped. As high as those piles were, Mulder and I could be three feet from each other and following each other around in circles without knowing it. Halfway through our search, Scully and I ran face-to-face with each other, and she sort of had this reflex--
"AAHHHHH!" I clutched my face and wiped the stinging droplets away with my sleeve, hardly noticing the flecks of blood that had come off with them.
"Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!"
"I'm okay. Sorry."
"I'm, really it's okay--"
"So sorry, I didn't--"
"You don't have to--"
"I guess I'm a little tense....are you bleeding? God, I am so sorry...."
"Don't be, I should have--"
Finally we both shut up and stared at each other silently; I could hardly blame her, of course. It was really my fault; I should have heard her coming by the beating of her heart and lungs--pounding now, because of the inevitable anxiety that comes from this kind of thing.
"At least we know you're well armed," I said lightly. She cracked into a smile and looked away, laughing nervously.
There was a sudden crash and I whirled around, just in time to intercept the board flying toward my head. Luckily its flat side collided with my upper torso as opposed to my head, and I in turn collided with Dana Scully, who pulled the trigger on her bottle (out of reflex) again. There were a few moments of darkness before I came back to my senses, pushing myself back from the agent's motionless form. My stomach tightened as I saw blood, then, realizing it was mine, I looked around for more trouble before checking her out.
Nothing serious. We'd crashed into a thick pile of boards directly behind us, and as we fell to the floor she'd hit her head and knocked herself out. I promised myself I would call an ambulance as soon as the coast was clear, and began looking around the coast.
Shuddering ever so slightly, I pulled a glove out of my pocket and, pulling it on, reached to pick up Scully's water bottle.
It was gone.
"Looking for this?"
The impact was not impressive, save for the fact that the lid of the bottle had been screwed off. I skipped backwards in time to see a cascade of water splash to the floor and the empty Windex bottle land with a soft *doink*, rubbing my head and immediately snapping my attention back to my attacker.
Mulder considered the damp spot on the floor, and the empty bottle at my feet, and me, rubbing my head (somewhat annoyed.) "Oops," he muttered, then took off.
I was after him in instants; he was fast, be he also made the mistake of wearing a constantly ticking Rolex. It worked for me like a personal, audio tracking device-a substitute for a heart. I headed him off and knocked him to the floor as we intercepted.
I heard a loud snarl and something hard connected with my spine; I arched my back instinctively while rolling out of the way in time to see my adversary jump to his feet and whirl in my direction. Using a pile of boards to help support myself, I twisted to the side and the punch directed toward my face hit instead into a stack of wood. "SHIT!!!"
Swiping him off his feet, I tried to remember if I had anything useful on me. I did not have the cross, but I did have a stake or two. I remembered that I wasn't supposed to stake the guy; but the idea certainly crossed my mind as he twisted out of my grip and kicked me over again.
I braced myself against the wood pile again. My chest was hurting from my previous impaleation, my eyes were starting to sting as the smallest amounts of Holy Water were mixing with sweat and dripping into them, and I had the feeling I'd broken a collar bone. Nothing that couldn't be fixed, but that kind of thing takes time. I had very little of that, and I happened to be a little low on energy, too.
Mulder's fist caught my jaw this time and I dropped down to the floor, hoping to take his legs or something. But this guy was extraordinarily tall and thin, and I seemed to have trouble taking *any* of him. Not to mention my gut figured that *his legs* would be taking *me* instead of the other way around. I watched his foot come back and tightened my stomach to take the blow.
I heard a rib-cracking crunch, rather than felt it, and instinctively snapped the stake from out of my coat pocket and stabbed it into his calf. I heard the resolving vampiric scream and withdrew it, stumbling to my feet and ignoring the pain. Using a wood pile to brace myself from, I threw myself onto his hunched form and stabbed this time into his right side. There was another scream.
I raised the stake and prepared to plunge it again, but one of his arms whipped out and caught me in the middle, throwing me backwards. I watched him fall to the side, bracing himself against a wood pile, and I began thinking fast on when where and how.
"--Only counts--" he had to work to get the air for the words "--if you hit home--"
I had a sudden intuition to get away, but found myself frozen like a deer caught in a pair of headlights, not sure what to do. Sure enough, I watched as if in slow motion as he reached above his head and yanked a securing cable out of its home, then twisted himself in the opposite direction.
If I had owned a working heart, it would have stopped beating.
I watched the boards falling.....
She woke up exhausted. Not only did she have a throbbing headache, but her arms were sore and there was a dull, white pain in the back of her skull. Images looked blurry, like she was looking at them through black cellophane wrap.
Shortly she discovered the reason why her arms hurt; they were tied. And tightly. She felt a pole behind her back, but when she tried to turn to see how she was bound, a flaming hot pain came over her and she froze on instinct.
Slowly the room got brighter and she figured out where she was; some kind of run-down building, with scarcely any furniture except for a long table and three mostly-broken chairs. Carefully, as to not upset her head, she slid herself up into a sitting position and carefully aligned her back with the pole. She knew she had to make sure she was all right before she even considered escaping.
It was a minute or two later before she even noticed him; he was sitting with his back to her, trying mostly in vain to bandage his left leg, muttering dark things under his breath and hissing ever so often. Fox Mulder was not seriously injured; he had lost considerable amounts of blood earlier, but had......replenished it since then.
Scully gasped and breathed in sharply as she realized she was not alone; it drew his attention from his leg back to her and she froze, not sure what else she could do.
"Oh, guess who's up," He said casually, even lightheartedly, while walking past her to the other side of the room. Dana felt her stomach sinking, and her head flamed even more. "Thought you'd never get up. Feeling ok, Scully?"
She wanted to retort, to scream, to hiss to do anything, but didn't have the strength to do it. Instead her eyes searched the room further; there was a window in the other wall; it was dark outside, and her holster and gun lay on the other end of the table, safely out of reach. She heard the being that looked and spoke like her partner moving around somewhere behind her, and shifted uneasily.
He limped back into view, holding his side with one arm and carrying a glass of ice water in the other. Scully eyed it, tempted, and he set it on the floor, sitting down cross-legged straight across from her.
Dana moaned softly, her head pounding now. She felt her numb wrists start to shiver.
"Glad you're awake," he said in a soft, dangerous voice. "You lost a lot of blood." He listened calmly as her heart beat just a little faster at his words. Fear. "Sooner you're up and about, the better. I feel like crap."
The corners of his mouth twitched upward.
He watched placidly as the woman's eyes darted from his face to the window, to her gun and back helplessly. He leaned in towards her and heard her heart rate rise quickly. "What's the matter, huh Scully?" He murmured, moving over her slowly, his face inches from hers. Her heart pounded faster and he slowly tilted his head, moving in to whisper into her ear. "Are you afraid?"
She whimpered almost inaudibly and prayed to God that it was not her best friend who was speaking to her.
It took forever to wake up; then it took another forever to fight my way out of the mountain of boards. Anyway, when I was free, he was gone. So was Scully. Dark stains around the floor where I had left her told me that he had fed from her to recover, then taken her with him.
I groped around in my jacket for my phone, and waited impatiently while it rang. It was dark out; I'd been out for a while. I only hoped that I could find Scully in one piece.
One live piece.
"Angel! Where have you two been?! We've been looking everywhere!" Wesley complained into the phone. I silenced him quickly.
"Look, Agent Scully and I were attacked. I just woke up. He's taken her." That got a load of silence. Finally, from the other end--"do you know where he's gone?"
"No," I sighed into the phone, heading towards the staircase. I was feeling a lot better than I had been, with the exception of some bruises and cuts from being avalanched in heavy wood. "Listen, you've got to find her and fast. I already know he's fed on her, and I know he'll try to keep her alive, too. We have to find them both before he finishes her off."
"We're on it. I'll call Agents Barnes and Harris. Where are you?"
I told him and we disconnected, and I left the warehouse and returned to the street. It was just a normal, late spring evening in Los Angeles. Nothing was out of order or strange; and after a brief questioning round, nobody in the area had seen anything weird, either.
Wesley pulled up in my car a minute or so later, and I let him drive, collapsing in the back seat as the passenger was occupied by Cordelia. We roared off and I gratefully leaned my head back against the headrest, rubbing my head and aching ribs in turn. Wesley began a steady torrent of speech: "Harris has gotten into the airport system and is running some sort of program that may be able to pick them up if he tries to leave the area. Barnes has faxed his profile to all local hotels and lodges, and we were in the middle of watching the local pubs. I have a feeling he might try to stay someplace close by; he'll want to taunt us with Agent Scully for as long as he can."
I interrupted, "Wait a second, you guys are here, Barnes and Harris are doing their thing, who's with Ms. Jades?"
Cordy and Wesley exchanged glances in the mirror. "Uh, when I got your call, we had re-grouped at the office. Cedar offered to stay behind in case you came back there as we looked for you."
I closed my eyes. Great. "Okay," I said, annoyed, "turn around, come on, now. Back to the office. _Now_."
"Certainly she'll be all right," Wesley stated in a slightly worried tone. I rolled my eyes. I wasn't feeling up to much at this point; all I wanted was to find Mulder and find him fast.
"Of course she's all right, Wesley," I growled, drumming my fingers impatiently on the armrest and giving him a good glare, "But have you looked at the girl? Even the word 'vampire' freaks her out. She might have offered to stay behind, but Lord, you shouldn't have left her alone!!"
Wesley cowered back and sunk into his seat a little, making a U-turn, but did not say anything.
"Sorry." I said after a while. "Just get back there."
Cedar Jades bit her lip and leaned against Angel's desk, rocking back and forth and rubbing her arms. It was cold in the office; and dark, too. She'd taken liberty of pulling all the blinds and locking the windows and door, and had, since she'd been left, revolved around the spare handgun that Agent Harris had thoughtfully left with her.
The heater came on with a loud hum and Cedar jumped, shivering as the goosebumps popped up on her arms. Hoping that the stylish lady who worked with Angel wouldn't mind, she hurried to the door and paused just long enough to snatch Cordy's extra overcoat off the coat rack. Scampering back to the desk, she pulled the jacket on and buttoned it up, then carefully picked up the gun and slipped around the desk, leaning against the wall.
If an attack was coming, she would definitely know it.
With a forced laugh, Cedar lifted the heavy metal weapon and held it with her arm bent. Much like James Bond, she thought nervously and forced another half-laugh. Her eyes darted from window to glass separator to window again.
Her fingers played over the weapon, re-gripping it every few seconds: "This is the safety," Harris had told her before he left, "this is how you load it, and you pull the trigger to fire." Well, she figured to herself, unlocking the safety, don't want to forget to unlock that.
Cedar looked around the empty office and started to feel very silly. If the vampire was still around, why would he come to his enemy's office? She laughed halfheartedly. That would be a real stupid thing to do....
She still tensed as the heater shut off.
It was quiet.
She tensed her finger against the trigger, then relaxed. A moment or two later, she tensed her finger again.
Ohh, when are they coming back? She glanced at the door again. God, if only Dana was here. The agent wasn't really close to Cedar; but unfortunate timing had brought them together. And they were meaningful to each other. Cedar wished Dana was there because she knew her. Not to mention the girl had gone through a rigorous training course at Quantico and had a 95% accuracy with her weapon.....
Man, even that nice vampire guy would be ok, so long as I 'm not alone.
The gun was heavy. She lowered it slowly and took a deep breath, scanning the office. Looking down at Angel's desk, she gave an exasperated sigh. His phone was sitting *right* *there.* She could have just called somebody.
But then, where would that put her? Cedar's too scared to be alone. I guess one of us will have to stay with her. It's your turn. No, I stayed with Cedar last time. *You* do it.
Cedar let out a huff, collapsed into Angel's office chair and gripped the gun again. Back to her previous schedule of scanning the room for signs of intrusion. She was still alone. The woman relaxed in the chair, sighing again and fingering the gun.
Of course, she figured, Maybe when I'm done this would make a nice story. Not for the paper, of course, but I've always kind of wanted to write freelance....
There was a click at the door.
The knob turned. She squared her attention at the door and straightened her back, even as the door was opening. As if in slow motion, she jumped to her feet and swung the weapon around, baring her teeth and widening her eyes as the door swung open, revealing her attacker.
She shrieked; the shot was louder than she'd expected, a lot louder, and the weapon jerked in her hands. She dropped it and stumbled backwards into the desk, shielding her face with her arms and beginning to sob in terror.
Angel cradled his stomach, and looked down at her with surprise on his features.
I was lying on the couch, holding my stomach and trying to focus on nothing. Not only had four hours gone by with a grand total of zero leads, but I had been mortally wounded again.
Such is death.
Cordelia walked in from the kitchen and handed me a tall glass of blood, which I accepted quietly and began to drink as she continued about asking the others if she could get them some tea. I think Wesley was making his best to keep Ms. Jades looking in the opposite direction as I drank, though.
The young woman had slightly recovered; she was speaking again, and had at least stopped shaking a little. Damn it, though, I should have said something about her to the others. She should not have been left alone. I mean, what if it wasn't me, Mr. Immortal, who'd walked through the door?
After I drank the whole glass, though, I did feel better. Wesley had found some kind of "Vampire Textbook" in Agent Scully's bag, and had been looking through it. He had constantly been reading phrases from it that seemed of great interest to him. (i.e., "The Vampire of Vichi, also commonly known as _Chat de Vichi,_ has a seemingly natural life cycle as do human beings, save for the fact that to this species, Blood is both a re-generator and- -so to speak--fountain of youth, so that not only health but age can also be restored.....") Apparently the book was one of those New Age books published for the general public, although Scully had gone through and systematically edited everything from A to Z, writing in the margins and crossing out paragraphs and stuff. I reminded myself to give her some actual hardcore truth to read out of when this was all over.
Then I told myself that when this was over, we couldn't be sure she would be with us.
Pushing that out of my mind, I tried to listen to Wesley as he quoted some more of Scully's cliff notes, these apparently newly-added and concerning my own "breed" of vampirism. Or whatever. I was feeling generally crummy.
I looked around the room, first at Cordy and Cedar, who were talking softly under the droll sound of Wesley's pointless speech. Cordelia was doing a fair job of cheering the tall brunette up, and I was happy to notice that the girl was actually sipping tea now.
Agents Barnes and Harris were not speaking; Barnes was rubbing her temples as she drank strong tea and crouched over several layers of textbooks, no doubt trying to profile her way into our enemy's mind. Harris was lost in thought, sitting at the computer and staring intently at the screen. The agents' handguns had been concealed under their jackets carefully, having caused enough traumas already.
At seven o'clock, about when we were deciding whether we should split up on the streets again, the phone rang. I looked at Wesley, who darted for the phone before Cordy could get to it. "Yes?" he said after a few seconds. The room was silent.
My English-accented friend gulped and went slightly pale before extending the phone towards me. "It's for you," he murmured.
I took the phone. "Yes?" I said in a low voice.
"Yo," greeted me on the other end. "Wassssupp?"
Glancing at Wesley, I thought quickly for words. "Where are you," I said calmly into the phone. I strained my ears for any sign of....well, life. Scully.
"What? That's all you can say, where are you? Your little mistress is being held captive in the claws of evil and yet, where are you?" His voice was lighthearted. I knew where it came from. I have been evil. I knew it was all a game, all just for fun. I knew that you had to pull tricks, to play games, to wind the weak around your finger before destroying them. I knew what he was doing.
I also knew Scully was still alive. She had to be. Why would he call, if she had already been killed? The game goes on.
"So, where are you," I repeated calmly.
"Oh, around," he sighed into the phone. "You're soooo not fun to play with, y'know that? you suck."
"Why are you calling?"
"Frankly? I'm bored."
"What have you done with her?"
I knew it was what he wanted me to say. But the truth was, there was nothing else that I could say. I just had to hope. Maybe we could find out something more. But we had to keep him talking. I looked around the room at all the blank expressions. Agent Barnes was motioning for me to hand her the phone, looking angrily determined, but I couldn't let a mortal handle this situation. Even though she was a psychologist, I was the one who understood the enemy.
"I messed around, but then it was kind of dull, 'cause she's not messing back, the bitch."
"Why are you calling?" I asked again.
"I just said it, dumbass, I'm frickkin' BORED. 'Sides, you're fun talkin' to, know that? Would you believe I've never met another frickkin' vampire in my death before? Death? Get it?" he chuckled to himself. "Oh okay, you're not one of those guys with a sense of humor. Okay. Cool." A pause. "Oh, ooh, oh, get this."
My stomach tightened as I heard a soft groan in the background. Tired and hurt, and possibly emotionally disturbed....Dana Scully was still alive. There was a slight shuffling sound, then Mulder's voice again. "She's not feeling well......Damn shame she doesn't heal faster. Hmmmm......"
I had to restrain a growl. "What do you want, Mulder? What is it we have to do? You've called us for some reason. Or is there?"
"Maybe." He said lightly, "Maybe there is. Maybe there's not. Hard to tell. Especially with Scully here, you know. She kind of needs a lot of attention. Not feeling well......"
I closed my eyes a second. "What have you done to her?"
"Not much. Yet."
The line clicked and I heard the dialtone buzzing in my ear. Putting the receiver down, I looked up at Agent Harris, who was scanning a printout eagerly.
"I got the whole thing," he said stonily, "Mulder was using Scully's cell phone, so we can't trace the call. But......" he showed us the chart, ".....But, there was a lot of background noise. We might be able to distinguish his location from the area sounds."
I nodded. "You heard Scully?"
Harris looked grim as he nodded, indicating the chart again. "At least we know she's alive."
I pulled myself to my feet and, testing my stability, I picked up my coat. "For now," I said, "he could decide to change her at any time. We've got to move fast. I picked up a few background noises myself; I think I have a pretty good idea where they are." Still feeling woozy, I stopped by the fridge and quickly took out two pints of blood, screwing off the top and downing about half of it before I headed towards the door. "Come on. Let's move."
Silently, my team came.
It was just luck that I had happened to hear the faint whistle in the background of our conversation; that limited our search area to the north side of town. Every evening at 7:05 sharp it sounds; the release whistle for the workers at Sharper's Wood, Inc. As we drove towards the run-down factory, we saw some of the workers laughing and talking as they walked home.
"Some break," Cordy muttered, shaking her head as she looked out the window, "I mean, he just happens to call at seven oh five? I mean, what if this is a setup or something?"
I looked over my shoulder to face Wesley and Cordelia. Even if it wasn't exactly right to do, I hadn't told the FBI agents about our breakthrough. They'd be safer alone; not like any of them had ever fought a vampire before. Besides, I couldn't leave Cedar alone again, and they knew how to take care of her.
"Okay, let's get out. He's around here somewhere." I parked next to the curb and we hopped out, Wesley looking down the shaft of a crossbow and Cordy figuring out how to fit her spray bottle into her waist pouch. I peeked into the back seat of my car and extracted a well-worn battle pike from the tangle of weaponry, then locked the door and nodded down the street. "Empty houses down this way. Let's check them out for signs of break-ins."
It seemed like hours were passing by as we tediously went door-to-door on the ancient, mildew-smelling houses to see if any doors were broken in or unlocked. Some were--but further searching proved nothing.
"Could you have heard wrong?" Wesley asked, wiping his brow and looking down the dark street as we emerged, yet again, unsuccessfully from an abandoned house.
"I know what I heard," I muttered, "he's here somewhere."
"Angel, it's midnight," Cordy complained, "We've been walking for five hours! My feet are so sore they hardly fit into my shoes."
I thought for a minute, pausing on the sidewalk. "You guys go home, then. I'll keep looking; I'll be back in the morning." I turned and kept walking. Sometimes I forget about human needs--such as sleep during night hours. I'd actually thought that Cordy and Wes had gotten over that; we were out late all the time, right? But to my surprise, I found them walking on either side of me in silence a moment later.
We walked for a few minutes. Yes. My friends were loyal to me; and we were loyal to *our* friends. Dana had become something more than a statue of hope and prevail, of determination and promise. She was a permanent part of all of us, now.
Our minds are like one.
"Scully's out here somewhere," Wesley said quietly.
We walked on.
It was four in the morning when we first found something.
We'd been walking nonstop. We'd busted three groups of demons, interrogated each and every one of them. They knew nothing.
But at four fifteen...ahh, relief in sight. Or not. "Look, light," Cordelia murmured, dog tired and leaning on my shoulder. She pointed up ahead to where a dim light echoed softly off the walls of yet another abandoned building.
"Vampires don't need light," Wesley observed tensely.
"Let's go, then," I said.
I looked around for my pike but realized Cordy had long ago accepted it as a walking stick. Instead I checked to be sure I still had all my stakes accounted for, and Cordy's crossbow (which I had been laden with) was loaded and ready for action.
We approached the building silently, like the numerous other times. I twisted hard on the knob and whatever lock might have been there was gone. Lifting the door slightly off its hinges, I pressed inward to keep it from squeaking. We entered unnoticed.
All activity, if there was any, would be on the top floor. Silently we made our way across the creaky floorboards towards the stairs; Wesley guarded our rear with his own crossbow, Cordy had commandeered the battle pike and I was ready for action in the lead.
But when I peeked over the railing on the top floor, the light illuminated the room perfectly. It was completely empty, except for the huddled form in the center by the lamp.
"Scully," I breathed, quickening my pace to kneel down beside the shaking woman. The others were not far behind. She turned to look at me at the sound of my voice and she gave a very shallow whimper at my touch.
Her hands had been tied behind her back, and there were more than a few scabbed-over bite marks around her neckline. My hands flew over the ropes, moving fast and constantly so there would be no time for them to start shaking. By the state of her clothes and body, it was not hard to tell what had taken place here tonight.
I ripped the ropes away and she fell against me, her head lolling. I lifted her up and turned around; the room was still empty. Cordy still clutched her battle pike and was checking out Agent Scully from afar. "We've got to get her out of here," I muttered.
"Good God," Wesley murmured, shaking his head. "Come....Come on. Downstairs."
"Right." I craned my neck to try and see into Scully's eyes. From her breathing, I figured she'd fallen asleep at last. I headed towards the stairs, where Wesley was waiting. Cordy came as rearguard, but she looked around the room as if she'd left something behind.
She touched my shoulder. "Angel, where's the cross--"
A sudden crashing noise both caused us all to jump and also bathed the room in complete blackness. With the jolt my stomach tightened and I steadied my grip on the fallen agent. We weren't getting off so easily after all.
As my eyes instantly adjusted to the dark, I saw that an arrow had very accurately shot through the light bulb of the lamp. That explained the darkness.
Wesley and Cordelia were looking around frantically for him, their eyes not yet adjusted to the overwhelming darkness. I looked out the window and watched him lower the crossbow to his side and grin mischievously before leaping from the neighboring rooftop to the broken windowsill.
"Nice shot, don't you think?" He drawled.
"Cordy--Mulder, ten o'clock," I hissed. She whirled towards him and squinted, then readied her battle pike as he strode across the floor towards our group.
Ex-Agent Mulder grinned again, but with malice this time. "Yeah. Nice shot. It's too bad these things don't load faster, though."
He jumped towards Cordelia. Wesley fired his crossbow.
In an instant, I watched him step past the flying arrow, slamming his arm into Cordelia's side at the same time and sidestepping past Wesley. Still clutching agent Scully close to me, I watched Wesley take a profound step back and Cordy fall to the side almost simultaneously.
I had lost Mulder for a second, but a sturdy kick in my side alerted me of his position. I jumped across the room to put some space between us, and gently laid Scully on the ground. She was still breathing evenly, which was good. By Wesley's pulse, he was okay, and by Cordy's....well.....we'd lost one of our numbers, at least for the time being. She was out cold.
"I don't think I ever cleared this up with you," Mulder said under his breath in my direction, "but you've been a little too physical with my girl, know what I mean? I mean she's mine, you shithole. Hands off."
"I don't think your hands are all that fit, either," I snarled back, losing myself for a minute. The rapid clicking to our left reminded me that Wesley still had a crossbow, and even though it was tough to load it *did* load. "Listen, I know she's yours, Mulder, I do. But you've got--"
"Damn straight," he spat--
"--to straighten yourself out before you have her back. I'm just here to set you straight. That's all. Then I'll leave you alone. Just--"
"Ha!" He laughed, his eyes sparkling brighter than what seemed right, "I'm not straight. *I'm* not *Straight*. *You* listen, pretty-boy, I'm more straight than I have been since the day I died."
Mulder jumped with surprise for a second as the arrow shot through his right arm, but the surprise seemed to give up and die, replaced immediately by hatred. He ripped the shaft out of his bicep and threw it across the room, already rushing at Wesley.
I dove for him, trying to intercept him halfway there, and caught a glimpse of a distressed Wesley darting in an opposite direction, already re-loading the crossbow. An instant later Mulder's crossbow (or Cordelia's, more precisely, I guess,) glanced off my forehead. Another instant later and the both of us collided headfirst.
By the time I managed to roll to the side, away from the kicking and struggling ex-FBI, he was up and after Wes again. My brainy friend had braced himself against an old bookshelf and managed to finish loading the weapon instants before it was too late.
The shaft let loose three inches wide of his head.
Wesley gasped. I was running towards him, but it seemed like I was frozen in place. I was just too far away....and things happen so quickly.....that....
Mulder batted the crossbow away as if it were a balloon and dealt him a quick punch in the jaw. The agent gripped Wesley's throat in one hand, pinning his arm down with the other. I got there far too late, but I had to do something. Swinging back, I hit the other vampire straight on in the temple, causing him to recoil and swing at my stomach in response. I pulled back, jumped back, and kicked him away from both Wesley and I, sending him rolling along the floor a few feet.
We still had very little time to act in, however. He was up in ten seconds, rolling towards the crossbow he'd discarded (thrown at me, actually) and while he was getting back to his feet, he began to wind the weapon up.
Getting sick of this crossbow business, I dashed over to Cordelia's motionless body and snatched the pike that lay beside her, discarded. I had hardly stood up when I found myself on my face again, Mulder leaning over me and the crossbow's shaft prodding into my back.
Almost as soon as he was on me, he was off. Wesley came at him from the side and brought his own crossbow down-hard-on the vampire's head.
I scrambled to my feet, clutching at the war pike. Wesley stood beside me, Cordy lay at our feet, Scully lay across the room and Mulder was righting himself not far away.
I looked at Wesley and he looked at me; we had weapons and Mulder was in brief disarray. We nodded to each other and charged.
Several things happened at once.
Mulder fired his crossbow.
Wesley halted his charge.
I turned partially to see what the problem was.
Wesley looked up at me with a look of confusion, his left hand clutching a bloodied crossbow shaft and his right still holding the loaded weapon. My friend staggered for a moment, then fell over backwards.
I paused for a split second; I wanted to help him. I took a step towards him. He would still be alive if it caught his stomach.
I turned my back completely to my opponent, and then everything fell into a vast empire of darkness.
It was dark and the three people crowded in the stairwell felt hot, sticky and cramped, standing so close together that none could properly move.
"It's okay," the man said to her, "Everyone will be okay. Don't worry. Stay here."
She hugged herself and shivered, despite the closeness of her companions.
He jumped up with his gun aimed and she felt herself running into the open along with him. She'd taken upon herself to bring an ancient sword that she found in Angel's office; she had strapped the sheath across her back because of the weight.
She was a journalist, after all.
She looked across the room and he met her gaze. They were on different sides of the room; it felt like they were from different worlds.
His eyes gleamed and he smiled to her; but there was nothing but malice in it. She shuddered. Around the room she saw the others; Cordelia looked dead; so did Dana and Mr. Wyndam-Price, and Angel....well, he looked dead, too, but she knew that he was supposed to be dead already.
But Mulder smiled at her.
He stood in the center of them, arms crossed. Bring it on, she could imagine him saying. The FBI on either side of her unholstered their guns. They were going to bring it on.
"Make my day," said the enemy, stroking his weapon slowly.
Agent Barnes started firing and did not stop until the round was completely empty; six shots. Agent Harris was busy weaving his way towards Scully, who was nearest to them.
Things happened in a flash for her; she saw him look up at her again and move his bow towards her. Dashing across the room to free herself from his gaze, she noted how his shirt had become bullet-ridden and blood soaked, despite the way he still moved like a mortal being.
Barnes put her gun aside and yelled out, crashing into Mulder and trying to wrestle his arms safely away. Instead, she found herself crashing into the boarded-up window and falling to the floor-another fighter, suddenly out of the picture.
Maybe he planned it. He probably didn't.
Agent Harris was there a second later, and he was there to bring his elbow down hard on the Undead agent's neck. Mulder gasped sharply and fell forward-his eyes flashing into the square of morning sunlight piercing through the window that Barnes had accidentally opened up.
Cedar was running. It seemed like she was moving so slowly, like she was going in slow motion, or that everything else was, one of the two. There was a table right in front of her; on it, lay Agent Scully's handgun, put safely out of her reach by her tormentor. She picked it up and turned.
Mulder was on his knees, covering his eyes and yelling something. Cedar didn't hear.
Harris had fallen backwards, was rolling out of the way.
Cedar picked up the weapon and turned around.
She had a very clear shot.
Dana Scully opened her eyes and saw light. She shifted herself, realizing that her arms and legs were free, and found herself embraced in the soft sheets of Angel's bed.
She sat up. Her head hurt a little, but otherwise she felt much better. She was wearing her green silk pajamas, and although she could still feel the tiny bite marks on her neck, she felt much better and wondered how she got to Angel's apartment in the first place.
As she was standing up, wobbly at first but gaining energy quickly, Cordelia come in bearing a tray of breakfast and a cup of tea. "Ooh, you're up," Cordy said lightly, setting the tray down on the bed, "How are you doing?"
"What happened?" Scully murmured, rubbing her eyes and sitting down. She jumped to her feet again before she'd even finished sitting. "Where's Mulder?!"
"He's fine," Cordy said with a small smile, pressing Dana back into a sitting position. "Better than I am, in fact. Oww. And I'm not the one who got shot in the head." She rubbed a visible bruise on her forehead and smiled again. "Well, Wesley's even worse off than me, so I guess we should all be thankful. Oh," she looked back into Dana's eyes with sudden interest. "How are *you* doing?"
Scully relaxed a little and sighed. "My head hurts," she admitted after a while.
"Drink this," Cordy suggested, handing her the cup of tea. "It's strong green tea. Perk you right up."
Agent Scully partially grimaced but accepted the tea, taking a sip and raising her eyebrows, then taking another sip. "Where is he," she said after a few minutes. It wasn't a question of whom she was speaking about. It was hardly a question at all.
"Don't worry about him. We are so totally not making the same mistake again. We've got him under complete observation. He won't get away again. And," Cordelia took on a superior sort of expression. "Wesley figures he's got a cure for you guy, now."
Scully stood up again and put the tea aside. "Let's get going, then," she said loudly, heading for the door. "The sooner he's back, the sooner we can forget about this. Where's Wesley?"
"Woah, slow down." Cordy stood up and moved between Scully and the doorway. "The ceremony can't take place for two more days. The moon has to be in....in....." She took on a deep voice, mimicking Wesley's. "'the absolute vertical position, for total authority of the inner soul of the possessed demon in question.'"
Dana sighed and pulled Cordy out of the way, touching the doorknob. "Anyway, I still want to know what's going on. Now."
She partially opened the door, but Cordy closed it again.
"Then put some clothes on," she grinned.
They sat in a long oval, their hands joined and candles spaced evenly around them. He lay unconscious in the center of them, arms crossed over a bare chest and a silver cross. Wesley had said that the more souls participating the better; so three FBI agents and three others sat around the nonmoving vampire and waited.
Angel could not be a part of it.
"The Being will not recognize you as a soul," Wesley had said edgily. Angel had sighed it off and tried to look busy.
But the truth was, he was a bigger help than any of them. Because of the time involved, he had suggested that they tie each other wrist to wrist--in case someone accidentally broke the connection.
Mulder did not move. The Crucifix that held him down kept him more than silent; it was as if he had died again. Wesley was sure they wouldn't have a problem with him, this time.
As Angel read the text from a ways off, each of the participating slayers or agents was lost in his or her own world. The events of the past week had been nothing but a blur; but it was more of a whirlpool for Dana Scully.
She gazed silently at the body that lay only inches in front of her. Her hands were tied on either side to Barnes's and Cordelia's, and she thought that if they weren't, she might not be able to control herself not to touch him.
Just a week ago. Just one week, he'd been normal. He'd been Mulder, the normal, dry humor, brilliant partner, stupid jokes, guy who chased aliens his whole life, doesn't care squat about his image Fox Mulder.
Who was this?
Dana closed her eyes and saw the image of him blazed into her eyelids. Not the bad one. The Mulder that she knew. That she loved. And she told herself for the thousandth time that he was coming back soon.
Cedar stared sullenly at the monster laying before her and tried to let emotion slip away. She'd been random, she knew. It could have been anyone; there was no grudge or hate involved. He had taken her because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time, nothing else.
Still, she knew, that even when his soul had been restored, even if Fox Mulder was an okay, nice, funny, considerate, gentle sort of guy, she would never think of him as anything more than a host of evil.
She closed her eyes and listened to Angel's voice, repeating the enchantment again. There was nothing more she could do.
I felt my voice going and downed a few gulps of water. After the brief pause I started reading again.
Countless times have we relied on spells, witchcraft, enchantments to do our work for us. Sometimes.....it's the only way a monster can be stopped. This was one of those times.
I stood behind Cordelia, who sat next to Wesley. I had to keep an eye on him so he could signal me what to do; not to mention in case he fainted on the spot. He'd been fired through with an arrow only two days ago and hadn't been to a hospital. I wasn't usually the one reading and enchanting, and I didn't want to screw it up.
I have screwed up so many times.......most of them, although my conscience continues to tell me otherwise, were not my fault, but the effects of a demon who inhabited my own body, who nullified my soul until it was released years ago. There are some types of demon that do not overpower the soul; they simply destroy it. If only it had destroyed mine, because I have seen myself do the worst of sins, and I know that in my mind I enjoyed doing them.
I memorized the next two sentences and cleared my throat, closing my eyes to repeat them. Several times in a row I read and repeated with my eyes closed, until my mind blanked and I could not. I read on with a continuously droll voice, looking down at the fallen vampire that we had imprisoned.
I felt pity.
I read on and tried my best to think of nothing. But I kept looking down at him, knowing how he would feel when he was back; the things he had done to those he cared for....who cared for him.....
I do not like remembering the first few decades after my soul was returned. All I felt was hate of myself; and fear. I was lost; I had nothing anymore. All that I owned was a broken heart and a conscience that hated me more than the people I had hurt.
The pain never faded; I just got better at hiding it.
Please, let him not remember it, I whispered to myself.
"...let the dead be dead, but let the soul be free."
Seven bodies tensed as the prone form they surrounded jerked to life.
Wesley was already busy snapping the string that held their wrists together, and once free, Cedar backed off as far as the walls would allow. The many candles surrounding them crackled and the flames grew three times their ordinary size before sizzling out.
Mulder jerked again Scully stumbled to her knees and reached forward. Wesley caught her arm, holding a still-aching stomach with his other and pulled her away from the circle. "Don't pass the candles!" he yelped, snatching up a crossbow that lay against the wall and aiming it at Mulder's chest. "Not until we can be sure," he added more mundanely.
A rippling groan and then a vampiric shriek echoed through Angel's apartment as the agent in question buckled and finally moved his arms and legs. The shriek was apparently due to the Crucifix because in the next instant he brushed it off of his chest, disrupting a set of candles and sending liquid wax rolling on the floor.
Mulder, creating a low rumbling noise as would a threatened cat, flopped onto his side and then chest, kicking away still more candles as he fought an invisible tormentor. A moment later he stopped moving.
"Okay," Wesley said, waving agent Scully in.
She was on her knees in a flash, kneeling in rapidly-cooling wax puddles as she rolled her partner over again, holding his head up. She paused a second later; it's kind of hard to tell if a vampire is dead or not. The room was silent; the others watched from afar as Scully waited for a sign of animation.
Angel closed his eyes and looked down.
There was a groan. Human this time.
Scully's heart started beating again and she made a silent prayer as Mulder's hand clenched and his head turned a little. "Mulder. Mulder?"
He blinked then let his eyes focus on her in the dark. "Mmhn." He murmured, reaching up and responsively grabbing her coat sleeve. "Scuh-uhhh."
"Are you okay?" Dana asked slowly, noting how her friend was definitely moving more now. "Mulder?"
"Scully," he reached behind him and, after a moment, propped himself up into a sitting position. Licking his lips for a second and looking around, he added, "Uhhh, where the hell am I, and, uhhh, how the hell did I get here?"
There was no jealously involved. I just took it. I said it was no big deal when Cordelia mentioned it, and it wasn't.
I did not feel jealous that Fox Mulder had no memory of his actions. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm so used to this by now. Maybe it's because I'm just glad he didn't have to know what he did.
The others didn't tell him. Well, they told him some. They let him know he had been inhabited by a demon. That was about it.
He regarded me with interest, but not in the naturally friendly sort of way. Fox Mulder certainly wasn't a bad person; but he wasn't a very good social one. As for my vampirism, he gave me some long stares that sort of made me feel like I was in a museum and asked me questions like "So have you ever killed a living person to feed?" Which I answered the best I could without feeling like a complete idiot. It must be an FBI thing.
He didn't seem all that nice. Well, I mean, he didn't go out of his way to be nice. The day after the ceremony, while Scully and Wesley were exchanging notes and everyone from DC was preparing to go back to DC, Mulder stayed to himself, either quietly asking questions to anyone he could corner into it, or reading Wesley's books as if feeding information into a computer. As much as Agent Scully was interested in vampires and ancient spells, Agent Mulder seemed so tenfold. Towards the end of the FBI's brief stay, he approached me with a rather large Latin textbook and a blank, passive look on his face. "Would you mind if I borrowed this for a while? I'd mail it back," he said, his voice quiet and slightly hopeful, in a natural way. I told him it was Wesley's, and watched him march off in the ex-watcher's direction.
Everything was so odd. It was as if nothing had happened......at all. Maybe we were simply supposed to forget it.
In fact, the only thing that actually showed that something terrible had taken place wasn't even a thing; it was Cedar Jades. The tall brunette looked smaller than ever before, she had lost nights of sleep and she never was to be seen in the same room as Mulder. We saw little of her; except for when she stopped by after coming from her hotel room. Mulder either did not notice her or did not care; he didn't remember her, anyway.
Scully was all right.
She was more shaken up than any of us that past week, and yet she seemed perfectly fine. Her steel exterior was working strongly against any hurt that Mulder might have caused; a wonderful, wonderful talent to possess. The first few times, I saw her flinch at his touch; but then it was as if nothing had ever happened.
It was absolutely amazing.
How could she recover like that? I didn't know the extent of what the demon had done, but what I did know was enough to make even the toughest steel shell turn to ash. Here, not a week after he had tormented her.....and he was holding with her whispered conversations. Guiding her by the small of her back. They fit each other like spoons, they act like nothing had happened.
Maybe to Mulder, nothing had.
I admire her so much. I admire her firm handshake, the way she holds herself, the words she chooses to explain, the bravery, the tough. I admire her eyes; the only place where the steel blue armor shows through.
But never mind that.
The four FBI agents left in a group on a late flight back to the capitol. Cordy had suggested to Scully that Cedar take a different flight; we thought it was best that she never see Mulder again. It was something that she could recover from.
I was surprised when Ms. Jades came up to me and asked if I would drive her to the airport. I agreed, although wondering why she would want me, of all people to take her, and she shouldered her purse. I told Wesley I was driving her and grabbed the girl's suitcase before leading her out to my car.
We were quiet for about half of the trip. I eventually said, "I thought you didn't like vampires."
"I don't," she said on a beat.
"I'm a vampire," I reminded her.
There was more silence.
"You're different," she finally said. "You're special."
I didn't respond. Of all people, I am not special.
"You like Mulder?" she continued after a moment. "I mean, the new improved one."
"Not really." She sighed. "I mean, I like him better than the old Mulder."
"You're right about that," I agreed, my eyes on the road. Answering her question, "No. Really. I didn't think he was all that interesting."
"A little spooky." She nodded. "Not that I saw that much of him."
I thought for something to say. "You, uh....You have someone you can call? Just to, er, talk to?" I caught her sidelong questioning glance and added, "Just....in case...."
"I've got friends," she said quietly, gazing out the window. "And Dana."
I nodded. It was good that she had someone to talk to. Sometimes it's all you need. "I'll, uh, I'll give you Cordy's number. And Wesley's, too." I paused. "Oh, yeah, and mine too."
She laughed, still looking out the window. I entered the airport drop-off lane and pulled up to the curb.
She got her bag and I got out to get her luggage out of the trunk. We stood on the sidewalk, and I handed her the suitcase. "You'll be okay going back?" I made sure.
"Yeah. I'll be fine." Cedar smiled as I handed her the sticky note with all our numbers on it, then folded it and stuck it in her pocket. She reached out her hand and I accepted it, and we shook professionally.
"Have a safe trip," I said quietly, "and if you ever run into any, er, creatures of the night..."
She picked up her suitcase and smiled at me. "I've got your numbers now. I know." She turned and headed towards the terminal, then turned around. "and Goodbye!"
"Bye," I said quietly, waving a little. To my surprise, she suddenly dropped her bags and ran back to me, colliding with my chest and wrapping her arms around my neck just like in soppy romance movies. I thought, What the? Until I saw her face.
She pulled away from me with a strained smile and took a step back. "And I wanted to thank you," she said, her voice uneven, as if tears were threatening.
"What for?" I asked, frowning a little.
Cedar pushed a strand of brown hair out of her eyes and started backing away.
"For being who you are," she whispered, and then she was gone.
Author's notes: I would like to thank.....A) Ashley for getting me hooked on this "Angel" thing....B) Jagg_War for the encouragement....C) Alternagoth because.....ummm.......D) Maggie because........she likes reading my stuff and vice versa I guess........and E) All the X-Philes who had to put up with that. (i.e., "Who the hell is Angel? Who the hell is Cordelia? Who the hell is Wesley?")
While I'm on the subject, I'd like to add that I've seen a grand total of *six* Angel eps and have never ever ever written BTVS. Or Angel. And yet I wrote a narrative, ahahahahahaaa!! BITE ME!!!!!!!!!! Okay don't really..... I love you people!!! Send me stuff to read!! And above all, POWER TO MULDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!