*And soon somebody else
*Will make a fuss about you,
*But how about me?
Angel listened to the jazz song, and he had to suppress Angelus' urge to rip the radio out of the wall, to smash it to bits and stomp all over it. Of course Angelus would really rather find the man who wrote the words and rip him to pieces, drain him of every drop of blood before leaving his dismembered body parts scattered across the state. Angel tried to push the image out of his mind, but it kept forcing it's way back in.
So much of the time they accused him of brooding, but really his quiet moments came when he had spent so much energy fighting back the memories and urges and impulses that he didn't have time to do anything but sit in the dark. Some days just getting up to turn on a light seemed totally overwhelming. And then for one minute he forgot. For one minute he allowed himself to push that part of himself so far back that he felt totally and completely happy. For one moment he allowed himself to love, totally and completely. And in that one moment he destroyed it all.
Buffy said she loved him, but she didn't. She loved the mysterious stranger who appeared out of the shadows and disappeared with the morning light. She loved the mystery, the thought of loving him, but she didn't love him. He could smell the disgust on her when she saw him drink blood or flinch from the sunlight. He wanted to get up and turn off the music, but he couldn't come up with a reason to move since he deserved the pain. Not even hell had burned out the need to feel pain, to suffer for everything he'd done.
Buffy and her friends, they couldn't ever accept him back; his soul mourned that loss. His own childer had turned on him, his demon raged at that one. He couldn't really blame them, though. Spike did what he had to in order to protect Drusilla. He heard the noise outside the mansion, and he didn't move when a fast beating heart approached the doorway. He could smell the fear and determination even through the wood.
"It *is* you," the boy-child hissed as he pushed the door open. Backlit by the sun, he appeared as a dark shadow in a halo of light. Angel watched in fascination as the light from the doorway inched closer to his foot.
"How could she do this?" boy-child demanded, angry and hurt and scared. "You don't deserve to live."
"No," Angel agreed. "I don't." He didn't have the energy to even look up when the boy stood in front of him, stake in hand.
"You killed Miss Calendar," the boy accused him.
"You are Angelus, don't think I don't know that." He looked up into the boy's eyes. Maybe he deserved some truth, maybe that would make it easier for him.
"He's here. Every second of every day, he's here fighting to get out. Maybe that does make us the same person." Boy-child froze.
"Why aren't you fighting back?" he demanded.
"It's just not worth it anymore."
"You're pathetic. If you want a soul, then you have to fight for it like the rest of us. You want us to believe that you're good, then stop expecting the soul to fix everything and get off your ass and work to turn yourself into something good."
*And soon somebody else
*Will tell his friends about you,
*But what about me?
Angel listened to the song on the car radio. Why did that sound so familiar? He sighed at his own pathetic life; he only focused on the song so he wouldn't have to look at Buffy with that soldier. He could smell the lust from across the field; Buffy's lust for the soldier had replaced her lust for him. He supposed it really was the way it should be, she'd found someone with whom she could share the sun. Funny, he always thought that when she turned away from him she'd see the boy-child who had grown to manhood next to her.
Again with the rationalizations, he told himself. He only thought that because the boy had been his taste. Growing up when he did, he never indulged in men's bodies, and with both Darla and Drusilla, he'd rarely been tempted, but as a demon, he had occasionally tasted the thrill of holding down a firm, hard, male body while pounding into it, feeling the body below him shudder with both pleasure and pain. He had chosen Drusilla for her beauty and her talents, and the boy shared those same dark eyes and lovely thick hair. Truth be told, he probably shared the same ability to see what others couldn't. Certainly had him pegged.
He watched as Buffy and her soldier finally separated, the soldier going into a building while Buffy walked away. Angelus whispered thought of revenge against her for betraying them. He whispered thoughts of taking her and reminding her that she belonged under him with her legs spread. Angel shuddered at the whispers, but he simply ignored Angelus; fighting him never did any good, so he had learned to ignore a lot.
What would all his friends say to that? What would they say if they knew that he had stopped fighting Angelus and simply ignored the beast's words as he did what he could to make the world a better place? Would they council him to fight back, to try and force the demon into silence? He didn’t think there would ever be silence again.
"Sucks, doesn't it?" Angel turned to see a brown-eyed man-boy leaning against the convertible and lit by a streetlight.
"Yeah," he agreed from his spot in the shadows.
"I actually like him even less than I liked you, and that's saying quite a lot."
"I gave you reason to dislike me, did Riley?"
"He breaths, that's reason enough." Man-boy rolled his eyes. "Thinks he has it all figured out and that the government can just come in and fix the demon problem like it's some glitch in the system.
"Not that easy," Angel agreed.
"No joke. You gotta accept that demons are just part of the world, and then try to keep them from ripping the world apart."
"This a new philosophy for you?" Man-boy laughed.
"Date a vengeance demon some time; it'll change a lot of your opinions."
"Gotta move on, Angel."
"Yeah, I know." Angel agreed even though he wasn't sure whether the man-boy meant that he had to leave or that Angel had to leave Buffy behind. Angel got in the car and waited for the man-boy move over and lean on the lamp post. As he drove away, he glanced in the mirror.
Man-boy simply watched.
*You'll find somebody new,
*But what am I to do?
*I'll still remember you
*When you have forgotten.
The music from a nearby blues bar with its doors open overpowered the sound of the thumping music from inside the club. As the sad words floated through the air, he leaned against the outside of the club, trying not to shake, trying not to beat his childe's head against the wall, trying not to walk in and tear Buffy away from the demon she had chosen over him. He could hear Spike's soft cursing, and he knew his childe's pain. Angelus suggested talking the childe to a room and making him forget, drowning the pain under layers of lust and raw sex.
He'd only done that to Spike once, but he had to admit they had both enjoyed those two days. He considered for a moment before reminding Angelus that Spike had a soul now, and he might not want that kind of comfort from his grandsire. And if Spike rejected him right now, he'd really have to beat the boy bloody. Angelus suggested a hunt instead, and Angel agreed. He needed something to kill.
He had long ago found that if he just gave on the little things, he and Angelus could both function much better. Angelus had learned not to demand the blood of innocents, and he had learned not to deny the pleasure of the hunt. Compromise. Even at work that was his new mantra. Compromise. If you can't beat Wolfram and Hart, become the president. He heard Spike leave in a torrent of profanity.
He knew that most of his team distrusted him at this point. Even his own childe had accused him of selling out, and he really didn't know how to defend himself since he often worried about that himself. Maybe Angelus influenced him too much. He could feel Angelus' laugh at that thought. Angelus made it very clear that he didn't feel like he had enough control; he clearly objected to the lack of sex and the fact that running a corporation had reduced the number of hunts.
"Deadboy." He turned to see a man-figure standing on the dim street next to him. "She there?" he asked.
"Her taste just gets worse and worse. I'm starting to think she should've just stayed with you."
"You would have been my first choice for her," Angel admitted.
"I'm not anyone's first choice," the man insisted from the darkness. "That's okay, though," he said holding up a hand as if to hold off the sympathy.
"She's forgotten me," Angel said even though Angelus complained that it made him sound as pathetic as the man.
"She's forgotten a lot of people," he agreed. "If you expect people to remember, you just get disappointed." Angel couldn't imagine this man-figure ever forgetting anyone; he had shown too much loyalty to ever commit the sin that he described in such forgiving terms.
"Am I what?"
"Disappointed?" Angel asked.
"Constantly. But when you love people like Buffy, people who have these really grand destinies, you get used to disappointment. Doesn't change how I feel about her."
"You're a better man than I am," Angel said to the man-figure in the darkness. "I've never forgotten what you've done for her. I've never forgotten you," Angel finally admitted. The man-figure wasn't Angelus' first choice, but then Angelus was desperate enough that he roared at the thought of bedding anyone.
"Angel?" the man-figure asked, confused.
"Maybe we can promise not to forget each other?" Angel asked hesitantly.
The man-figure walked away.
*Will climb upon your knee
*And put its arms about you,
*But how about me?
Angel turned the radio off as the song ended. He always had liked that song, he mused. Sure it was sad, but it somehow always made him feel better. Hey, he was a demon, he was allowed to have completely irrational thoughts. He warmed his blood and went out to say good-bye to Buffy and her daughter. Just one branch of their evil-fighting clan visiting another; it was as close to normal as any of them came.
He smiled when he saw Xander holding the blonde child in his arms. Xander would have been a great father, but he had given that up when he had appeared on Angel's doorstep long after the great Wolfram and Hart had fallen. Two brown eyes looked up at him, and Angel smiled back. He had never cared about Xander's missing eye, but the man had been so uncomfortable that Angel and Spike had tracked down a doctor that could clone the remaining eye.
As Xander wished Buffy and Joy a good flight, he watched his mate. He had learned to live with Angelus because of Xander, and Angelus felt as strongly about the boy as he did. He never feared that Xander would suffer if Angelus broke out again, but then Angelus pushed so rarely that he didn't think that would happen again.
The door closed and Angel smiled with an expression more Angelus than Angel. He had been looking forward to this weekend all month. The demon hunts with his new crew couldn't compare to the thrill he always felt when hunting his mate. The joy of reclaiming Xander if he could track him down in time would have freed Angelus if the joy didn't belong to Angelus as much as Angel. That's the trick they had learned. With Buffy, the joy belonged to the soul with the demon feeling only frustration. The demon had raged and pulled free. With Xander, soul and demon were too busy enjoying a writhing, bucking, warm and willing human body to care about trying to change the balance of power.
"Give me an hour," Xander asked as he slipped on the backpack and stepped into the circle of light made by the lamp on the porch.
"An hour," Angel agreed, and he watched in amusement as Xander's face slowly took on a suspicious cast.
"And this time, make it an honest hour," he complained.
"Yeah," Xander said in a clearly disbelieving voice.
"One hour, and then when I find you, I'm going to tie you to the closest tree, ravage your body and sink my fangs into your neck," Angel promised as he watched his mate shiver in anticipation. He scented the air, not even a hint of fear.
"Are you sure you're not Angelus?"
"Are you sure you want to know?" Angel asked with a sly smile. For the week Buffy had visited, he hid his true nature and pretended to be what she wanted, and now he just wanted to show his true nature. He let his game face out.
"Right, running now," Xander laughed.
Xander disappeared into the darkness, leaving his laughter behind.
Angel went inside and got a second mug of blood; he didn't want to be hungry when he found his mate. He laughed with the sheer joy of the fact that the wonderful man running through the fields right now truly saw him. He understood both Angel and Angelus, and he still offered his love. He saw Angel's true face and never forgot him, ignored him, tried to make him into something new. Angel looked at the clock and realized that only 30 minutes had gone by. Close enough. He grabbed a rope from next to the door and headed out into the darkness.
How About Me, 1928