"I know you," said a voice from an alleyway to her right. She would have kept going, dismissed it as being directed at someone else except her Slayer senses were tingling. Good to know they still worked.
She took a few steps back and turned to face the alley. "I don't think so," she said simply.
"Well, I do think so," said the voice. He was closer but still hidden from view in the alley's shadows. Buffy recognized the voice and took a step forward instinctively wanting to go to him. She always went to him when he was nearby and she needed to talk. Good to know that a trip to the past did not change his effect on her. Her heart pounded and her breathing had become more rapid, both common reactions to hearing Angel's voice after going much too long without hearing it. Why was he here? Was William nearby? Was she already too late? And, why, with that last question did she feel a sense of relief flood through her. She should not be happy that she could not, did not, save William from being turned by Drusilla.
"I'm new to London, so I doubt that you could," she said evenly. She should have continued on her search for William, but she was curious to see what he would look like. Part of it, too, was that she just simply needed to see him because it had been so long since she had. She was curious, too, how or why he recognized her. He had no heart, had no soul so she could not fool herself into believing that part of him recognized that part of her.
"An American," he said matter of factly, without question.
"I am," she answered just as matter of factly. This encounter reminded her a little of their first meetings when she had come to Sunnydale, short and rather cryptic. He was a good guy then, he was not currently a good guy though. Standing mere feet from her was the killer that was Angelus and yet she still loved him, still wanted to go to him. Finally, he stepped out of the shadows and she swallowed hard as she took in his appearance. He was dressed nicely, but his hair was unkempt and wild looking. The look in his eyes she recognized as the blood lusting killer that he was; purely evil, purely dangerous, purely Angelus. There was no sign of Angel here. So how did he know who she was? Where was Darla? Where was Dru? Where was Spike? No, not Spike yet, William. She had to find Drusilla before she found William.
"Drusilla told me you'd be coming, told me I had to come see you."
"I don't know a Drusilla."
"You're lying," he said, walking toward her. The predatory look was still there, but there was something else in his eyes that Buffy hoped was curiosity and interest. If she wanted to come out of this meeting alive she had to make sure the curiosity and interest continued to outweigh the predatory instinct in him. This Angelus did not know Buffy Summers, had never loved Buffy Summers, had yet to have the curse of his soul, and would not hesitate to kill her in a heartbeat. She wondered if he would still know her every move as he did in her time, they had trained together and he had taught her so much. "I can smell it," he whispered smoothly. His voice was a weapon in itself, he could make the most vile of comments sound like a lover's caress. Smelling a lie on her should have been offensive but she enjoyed knowing that he was taking in her scent. On the upside she thought when picturing how this encounter would play out, Buffy was familiar with Angelus' moves and that had to be an advantage.
"I think I'd remember knowing someone with a name like Drusilla." He had fed already this night Buffy could tell because his skin was not too pale. She had seen him over the years from well fed to practically starving to know his various stages of appearance from hunger. She swallowed hard and he laughed. "What's so funny?"
"You. You're frightened, but I don't sense that it's me you're frightened of. And you should be," he said, a hint of respect in both his voice and in his eyes.
He was right. She was curious to know what this Angelus was like, what difference one hundred years of having a soul had made in how he acted when she had stripped him of his soul. He looked good she could not help but notice. She had never disliked the way he dressed but these clothes looked right on him, as if he belonged even though he was already out of his true time by more than a century. "I'm not afraid."
"She did not tell me you were so beautiful," he said as he stepped even closer. If he had breath she would have felt it against her face he was that close. She saw no sign of his being about to strike in his eyes so she forced herself to stay calm. "Why is it you are dressed as a man?"
"I just am. Who didn't tell you I was beautiful?"
"Drusilla," he said and he looked momentarily displeased at having to repeat himself. "Maybe she thought Darla would get jealous and come with to keep a watchful eye on me."
Was there trouble between sire and childe already? She doubted that. From what she had gathered from Angel and Spike, Darla had abandoned Angelus because of the soul not for any other reason.
"She distrusts you so much she has to watch you?"
"I don't know that trust has anything to do with it."
"Then what," Buffy asked boldly, finding herself leaning towards him. Just a few inches and she could kiss him, taste him. Stop it, she told herself. "She afraid you won't share your kill with her?" His eyes flashed briefly, she saw his facial features shift but nothing happened, his eyes remained the brown she was so familiar with. Oddly as comforting as those eyes could be, she found she preferred the warm look that she got from a pair of deep blue eyes without the benefit of a soul. She had no doubt that Angelus loved Darla, but it was not in the same way Angel loved Buffy. Spike was capable of loving in the same way regardless of having no soul.
"You don't know as much as you think you do, little girl."
She rankled at his words and her temper reared its head. She always hated it when he called her a girl. Forgetting for a moment where, when and just who they were currently she spoke. "I'm old enough for you to take to bed." She felt the heat of a blush on her face when she realized she had in fact spoken the words aloud and from the confused look on his face he had obviously heard her.
Angelus stepped back from the petite blonde, her words having an odd effect on him. He had never bedded this woman, he knew that for a fact by the simple fact she was alive. Strangely, the idea was not obscene to him that he would have bedded her and let her live. There was something about her that told Angelus this girl deserved to live, not that he paid much attention to his instincts about people.
Darla pleased him without question, but there was something about the girl standing in front of him that suggested she was things Darla was not and never could be. Darla had been a whore before she had been turned by the Master, this girl smelled of innocence. Despite her odd choice in dress, he could picture her easily in a fashionable gown having her Season. The fact her hair was up and styled fashionably with pearl accoutrements told him she was no harlot or homeless woman.
He could picture himself the one guiding her across the ballroom floor, leading her in a waltz which was ridiculous. He could vividly see her beneath him, surrounding him, warming him with her flesh and blood and the pictures were not just vivid but oddly comforting. And very real, if he did not know better he would believe her claim that they had shared a bed. It had been years since he had bedded a human without killing her during or after the act.
He regarded her for a long moment, closed the distance between them subtly tempted to reach out and touch her to assure himself she was real and not an apparition. She seemed as if she was waiting for him to touch her which was what gave him pause. He did not touch her; instead he laughed sardonically and moved as if he was going to strike. Better to put her in her place then let her believe she had gotten into his head and gained the upper hand somehow.
"You have me at an advantage it seems, I believe I would remember bedding you." He had no idea why Drusilla had sent him on this errand, but she had been accurate in her description of the girl he was to delay. Drusilla's visions had proved accurate time and time again, but sometimes they were eerily precise. Was this girl something or someone to Angelus? A threat? She did not seem to be, she was too tiny to pose a danger yet Drusilla had been frightened of her and had been specific that the girl he was to stop would be clad in men's clothes.
"I didn't mean," she stammered and he enjoyed seeing her discomfort. With his preternatural vision he saw the color on her cheeks deepen and was curious what thoughts were running through her mind to make her blush so. Her eyes when she spoke were filled with adoration. He saw her square her shoulders and suddenly she became a different person. Gone was the bumbling socialite of a moment ago and in its place was a woman who meant business. The look of adoration was gone and had been replaced with a look that gave even him pause. This woman had seen a lot and was not someone he should take for granted. He saw the knowledge of death, destruction, pain, heartbreak, love and deception clearly through her hazel orbs before they hardened. Dare he ask how someone so young and human could have seen so much? But then she spoke, breaking his train of thought, breaking the softness that had washed over him inexplicably. "Where is your Drusilla?"
"She's not my Drusilla," he said again with a laugh. "Well," he said, cupping her jaw with his hand unable to resist touching her. He had to know if she was real and for certain she was as the feel of her smooth skin proved. She did not have the features of a lady of station, her skin was not the creamy white of those who had it easy and did not have to work for a living. And yet she did not appear to be a pauper either. Her skin was darkened from exposure to the sun, but it was not rough or blemished by sunspots. There would be no need for buttermilk on her skin, it was as smooth as the best of silks already. She stood her ground, her gaze never wavering and she did not pull away from his touch. His gaze dropped to her neck and her pulse point there and he thought he actually saw the blood pump faster through her body. "She is mine in a matter of speaking."
"Yes, I'm aware that you made her. Just tell me where she is."
"How is it you know so much," he asked, stepping closer trying to be menacing and unsettling but she did not step away from him nor did she flinch. He saw instead bravado in her eyes that was not false or forced and he felt some respect for this girl. "Who are you," he whispered. He should be baiting her, taunting her, thinking up ways to torture her not admiring her bravery. It dawned on him, too, that she was no longer denying that she knew Drusilla. As far as Angelus knew Drusilla had no friends so he was confused as to how this girl would know his childe.
"My name is Buffy," she said simply.
As if that told him anything, yet she seemed to think it told him everything. A part of him seemed to accept her answer as indeed everything, but the demon in him came forward and he shook off his contentment and softness. "That's a stupid name if I ever heard one."
"Yeah, no stupider than Angelus. You did that on purpose, named yourself Angelus to fool people. No one with a holy name could be a demon."
His hand was instantly at her throat with a growl. He squeezed waiting for the pleas to come, the look and smell of fear to wash over her, but nothing came. She stared evenly at him, perhaps there was some fear there but she did not reek of it as most of his victims did. Nor had she cowered in fear or revulsion when his human disguise fell away revealing his true, demonic face. No pleas for him to spare her life. "I ask again, who are you? And don't tell me Buffy. That tells me nothing, merely your name. How do you know Drusilla?"
"I am merely a girl, you said so yourself. And I don't know Drusilla."
"You have purity and goodness all over you yet you know of my race and are not frightened. I can see that you have led a hard life, have seen much in your miniscule number of years. Too bad that existence comes to an end tonight."
"I don't think so."
He tossed his head back and laughed, releasing her throat as he did. "You are bold I will give you that. Are you challenging me?"
"Afraid of losing?"
"Hardly. You are but a girl, a slip of one at that."
She did not respond to his taunt with words, but instead with her fist connecting with his nose dead on. He had not been expecting the blow and his head flew backwards. A growl escaped his throat as he prepared to fight, but she blocked his first strike with ease.
"You really are a stupid girl. You have no idea who I am, what I am, and yet you dare to challenge me."
His eyes widened as she was able to block yet another thrown punch mindful his face probably gave way to the fact he was surprised, but a shadow of a feeling he could only identify as respect washed over him. This little bit of a girl was not at all what she seemed and he was beginning to understand why Dru had sent him on this errand. She had been on the hunt tonight, searching for someone to turn and this girl would have stood in her way.
"You're pretty good. Or was it luck, Buffy," he taunted her. "Try it again when I'm expecting it. Or perhaps you only do well when surprise is on your side."
She smiled widely, almost as if she were amused or pleased. "Come on then. Let's go," she said simply.
Angelus did not know how long they fought. She was good whoever she was, this American girl named Buffy. She met him blow for blow, took as good as she gave, and seemed even to know his moves better than he himself did. She was strong and had stamina and she seemed to enjoy fighting him as much as he was enjoying fighting her. He looked forward to bleeding this one dry, there would be no sharing her with Darla or Dru he would keep this one all to himself. What was more, he could sense somehow that this was arousing her as it was him. It was not arousal based on attraction, though that was there too, she was attractive to look it. This arousal, though, was far more primal based on adrenaline and surviving the hunt. He had come into this expecting to be a lion with a mouse Dru had gifted him with to toy with.
He was bleeding now, he felt it drip the length of his face. She was bleeding as well and he had to step away from her as a brief picture flashed in his mind of his licking the blood from her face, leaving her very much alive. His legs were sore from blows she had delivered blocking his kicks. Hers would have to be in a similar state. They were evenly matched, neither able to gain the upper hand for very long and Angelus found he enjoyed it.
They were at a stand down, she was catching needed breath while he was just collecting himself and clearing his head of thoughts but beating this girl. They circled one another preparing for more blows when he noticed a look in her eyes that he did not expect to see. Despair. She was enjoying the battle, he knew that but it was taking something from her. She was sacrificing something that she was having a hard time with. Good, he thought. But for some reason she was not weakening, she was not giving in, something was driving her.
It was during these thoughts, his brief moment of confusion that she gained the upper hand. She dropped him to the ground with a sweep of her foot and straddled him, a stake at his heart her other hand at his throat. He was stunned because it had happened so fast but impressed as hell that she had done it so smoothly and swiftly. Whatever was bothering her she was not going to let him beat her because of it.
She could not stake him and he saw it in her eyes as clear as day. He watched her face, watched the look of victory in her eyes give way to empathy and revulsion. He watched her chest heave as she struggled to breathe during this small respite. Her skin was flushed, her hair was mussed from their struggle and he reached despite the stake at his heart and the hand at his throat to push the strands of hair that had pulled out of her updo.
"Who are you," he asked hoarsely, more a growl than anything. The desire to kill her was momentarily sated, pushed aside by curiousness and an odd sense of familiarity about her. He knew this girl. He knew he did and yet he knew that he had never seen her before. She looked at him with love, affection, kindness and pain with knowledge that suggested she knew him. There was no pity there, no fear, but he saw conflict and the despair from earlier. Somewhere there in her eyes he saw that killing him would be killing a part of herself and inexplicably he felt it, too.
She shook her head as if conflicted about answering his question. Shaking her head only served to cause his hand to brush against her cheek and she inhaled deeply at the contact. Her hazel eyes were wide and he was quite sure the confusion he saw in her eyes was reflected in his own.
Both had the opportunity to finish off the other one but neither made a move to do it. Her hand held the stake at his heart never wavering while her hand at his throat held tight. His hand was now near her throat because she had allowed him to touch her face.
"I can't do this," she said, her voice choked. A pained expression crossed her face and she climbed off of him, dropping her stake on the ground next to him. She fled in the direction she had come, leaving Angelus gasping for breath he did not need to take.
"What the hell," he asked himself, running his hands along his body. He was beaten and bloody, a couple of ribs might be broken but he was in one piece and he would heal. She had broken his nose. She was not much better off than he was though he did not get to assess her injuries. "You little bitch," he hissed, telling himself he was upset about the fact he had come close to getting beaten in a fight by a girl not by the fact she had left before they were finished.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com