Home   Fiction   Essays   Betas   Links   Timeline    Updates    Contact   STA

Fic by Author  Era  Pairing  Rating  Title

Title: Called
Author: A2Zmom
Setting: Takes place pre-Buffy series
Rating: PG-13? Maybe R for language.
Summary: "The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation." (Eudora Welty)
Notes: I actually first wrote a version of this story three years ago, the very first fanfic I ever attempted. At the time, it was a scant 1500 words and without some encouraging words from crazywritinfool and yseultdb, I never would have typed another word. The story is now 4400 words. I owe any good stuff to my wonderful beta tkp. She knew exactly where I was trying to go and got me there.
Disclaimer: Brickbats and bouquets always welcome. I don't own, but I wish I had visiting rights. Want, Take, Have - just let me know. Written for the 10th lyric wheel. Song and lyrics posted at the end of the story.


“So we traveled 3000 miles to park in front of a high school?”

His companion spared him a sideways glance edged with disgust. “That’s right, because it’s always been my dream to spend six nights in a car with a guy who hasn’t bathed in thirty years. And you could please stop doing the hokey pokey in your seat? You’re giving my bladder funny ideas.”

Angel didn’t have an answer for that accusation, much less a witty comeback. Instead, he gripped the steering wheel a little too tightly in a futile effort to stop from squirming. He suspected Whistler thought he kept shifting due to impatience, but as a predator at the top of the food chain, he had an almost infinite capacity to stay still. Any tendency toward impetuousness he might once have had had been beaten out of him over two centuries ago by Darla. What was driving him to act like a hyperactive two-year-old was simple, bone deep, instinctual fear. He knew the windows were blacked out, but the warmth of the sun was causing every supposedly dead nerve in his body to fire warning signals. He desperately wanted to jump in the back seat and cower before he combusted. He honestly didn’t know how much longer he could sit here before he drove off, trying to find some shade.

It also didn't help that in mere minutes; whatever fate Whistler was keen on showing him was about to occur. He slid on the seat again, the cracked vinyl groaning underneath him. If he had any inkling that saying yes to Whistler meant a scenic buddy trip across the country, except without seeing any scenery and with a guy who no one in his or her right mind would consider buddy material, he would have... He rubbed his forehead briefly. He would have said yes anyway. Whistler had told him he could become someone. Frankly, Angel doubted it, but there was some small part of him that longed to believe that. Whenever he had tried to broach the subject during the long drive, Whistler had only answered with "Patience," or "You'll know soon enough," or Angel's least favorite, "Curiosity killed the vampire." Now that the answers were almost here, Angel wondered whether he should just step on the gas and bolt. When had change ever brought anything but misery, either to himself or others?

A loud discordant buzzer sounded from within the building, permanently derailing his inner monologue. “Keep your eyes peeled.” Whistler pointed to the steps, which were suddenly swarming with students. New York City might have had a population of eight million, but Angel had found it relatively simple to avoid almost all of them, all the time. During the day, he slept in buildings so dilapidated and structurally unsound that even the homeless avoided them, or he squatted in abandoned parts of the subway system that no human could get to. He hunted vermin in the middle of the night, no matter how dank and uninhabitable his current living quarters were, rats were always happy to share his home. When he became so claustrophobic that he braved the streets, he kept to areas that were dangerous even during the day and therefore likely to be devoid of people. When he occasionally did run across someone, they tended to be so doped up that they smelled thoroughly unappealing, even to a half-starved vampire. And when he did scent someone healthy he ran the other way, until he was alone again.

Perfume, pizza, soap, bubblegum – the essence of teenager wafted over to Angel. Five hundred different heartbeats, each one a private symphony being played just for him. Five hundred sets of hormones, each one begging him to seduce and strike until he was sated. He stared out of the passenger window, unconsciously licking his lips.

His eyes darted from student to student. The tall, slender boy coming down the stair, a look of disdain painted on his face...in his mind’s eye the boy was a Victorian dandy, who had contemptuously ignored Angel and his lower class Irish accent. It had taken Angel a long three days to teach him manners. Angel closed his eyes in an effort to shut off the memory. When he opened them again, he stared at a girl whose downward gaze reminded him of a shy young serving girl he had fancied. He had spent five months carefully wooing her. Once he was sure of her affections, he had brutally raped her and left her bleeding in the street. Angel shuddered, wondering if there would ever be a time when every face didn’t remind him of someone else. When every face he saw didn’t remind him of a murder, a torture, a rape he had gleefully committed. He twisted a little in his seat and felt the door handle hit him in the back. Maybe this was why Whistler had brought him here. He had never had the guts to end his existence, but this time, all he had to do was open the handle behind him and the sun would do its work.

He lifted his eyes for a second and that’s when he saw Darla walking down the high school steps. He was so shocked that it took him a second to realize it wasn’t Darla but a girl with a similar build and hair color. All thoughts of suicide vanished as he watched, fascinated. She was much younger than Darla had been at the time of her death, and this girl was tan whereas Darla had looked to be made of porcelain, but she was just as pretty to Angel’s eyes. She was obviously the leader as he watched the other girls look at her with undisguised adoration. Straining to listen through the slightly opened car window, he could hear her happily discussing her plans to make her boyfriend beg and crawl. He blanched a bit even as a small tendril of desire crept up his spine, remembering a long ago time when Darla had forced him to literally lick her shoes after doing something that had pissed her off. The girl now sat on the steps, regally ignoring everything around her. As she began to blithely lick a sucker, he decided that she exhibited some of Darla’s other skills also.

Whistler gave Angel a quick jab in the ribs. "Keep your eyes on 'My Boy Lollipop' over there." Whistler glanced at Angel's lap and snickered. "Never mind. I see you found Miss Tongue on your own. What I wouldn't give for ten minutes alone with that mouth." He turned to Angel and leered. "Now pay close attention. It's all going down in just a moment."

Angel watched as a car pulled up and a middle-aged man came out to speak to the girl. Stunned comprehension finally dawned. “You dragged me across the country to see the damned vampire slayer being called?" His eyes narrowed and his voice became low, soft, dangerous. "What the fuck is the matter with you? Did you somehow forget I’m a vampire?” Faster than the eye could follow, he reached for the smaller demon and squeezed his hands around his neck. Whistler began to turn an alarming shade of blue and Angel pressed harder. He knew exactly what would happen. The blood vessels in the eye would start to break. The tongue would blacken. Whistler would claw at him in a futile gesture of panic. Angel’s insides tightened in remembered excitement – and then his stomach roiled in disgust. He let go and slumped down in his seat.

Whistler glared at him, coughed a few times and cleared his throat as if he was gargling. He straightened his hat and spoke in a harsh whisper. “How is a souled vampire like a fifteen year old boy with a copy of Hustler?” He didn’t wait for a response before continuing. “Because neither of them can keep their hands where they belong and both of them feel guilty afterwards.” Angel managed to shrink further into the seat as Whistler glared at him. “Drive, will ya? We still got places to go later.”

***

Angel decided that “Whistler” must be some sort of cosmic in-joke, because the sound the smaller demon was currently making was more akin to a cat in heat than anything resembling whistling. He rested his hands on the smooth chill of the marble and wondered how cold he felt to the living. Would his touch make people recoil? He couldn't remember the last time anyone had voluntarily touched him, so he supposed it hardly mattered.

He turned his head to look at the smaller demon. Angel had barely spoken two words to Whistler once they had left the high school. He had kept silent during the trip back to the warehouse and grunted a thanks when he had been handed a bag of blood, had silently gotten in the car when it was time to go. If Whistler was at all upset by Angel’s lack of social graces, he didn’t show it. Instead he rocked back on his heels a bit and gave Angel a smile that clearly said he knew something Angel didn’t.

Angel couldn’t imagine what that could possibly be. He was standing in a cemetery, waiting for the slayer to start her career. Was that why he was here? So he could be her first kill? His brief anger from earlier had dissipated. He wasn’t even sure he’d put up a fight if she came after him. He had spent most of the past ninety years in an apathetic haze; the few times he had tried to care about anything things had always gone worse for him and anyone in his presence. If this was where he met his end, at least it would be appropriate.

He made a small disgusted noise deep in his throat and looked at the cemetery that stretched in front of him. A sea of dark gray stood unmoving, every blade exactly the same as its neighbors. Lawns had come into vogue 150 years ago or so; he had never seen one in the daylight. His thoughts drifted again and he pondered whether grass was the color of the birch leaves he had grown up with or maybe, the muddier green of the frogs that lived in the creeks and ponds. Not that he could remember the exact hue of those colors either.

He thought he could hear the accusing whispers that emanated from the rows of ghostly sentries. I summon the demon, you. Would being staked be such a terrible thing? He remembered every detail of every crime he had committed while soulless; sights, sounds, even tastes permanently etched on every cell of his unnatural existence. Meanwhile, he had no recollection at all of what his soul had been engaged in during that same period. There was no memories of heaven, hell or even purgatory. Maybe that's all death would be. A blessed blackness; a final end to the barbarous desires he still possessed. He smiled grimly. That would be too simple and surely not what he deserved. Centuries had passed by and he could still hear Father Kinnear's detailed descriptions of Hell. He was too much of a coward to allow the slayer to take him, no matter what the dead desired.

Unconsciously, he scented the air around him. He smelled something so faint as to be almost indiscernible, but it intrigued him, nonetheless. There was an undertone of musk that caused his balls to tighten, memory drowning him like an undertow. Fucking Darla to while away the daylight hours, pounding into her so hard and so long that her blood coated their thighs. Slamming Will against a wall in a darkened alley, forcing his cock so far down the boy’s throat that a human would have died from lack of air. Etching pictures on Dru’s body and then lapping up the thin lines of blood as she begged her daddy to hurt her some more. He took a step away from Whistler and forced air up through his nose in a futile effort to drown out the memories. He had never smelled anything quite like it. Violence, power, death. When he was ten, he had skipped school one day in order to watch a fox hunt. Two hundred fifty nine years ago and he still remembered the sharp chill of the morning air, the bright scarlet of the men's waistcoats, the trumpet's announcement of the hunt. But what had imprinted on him most was the frenzy of the hounds as they scented their prey, the blood of the fox whipping them to ever greater excitement.

He felt that same frenzy now. His entire body was tense and all he wanted was to find the owner of that delicious perfume and sink his fangs in and drink deep. He stumbled a few steps away from Whistler, forcing air into his lungs in order to let the smell wash through him.

The smell was stronger now, musk mixed with the ripe heat of human blood. It was as if he was newly risen once more, overwhelming instinct driving out all rational thought. He wanted to fuck, he wanted to fight, he wanted to feed; no, not wanted, needed. He realized only moments before she came into view that it was essence of slayer he was inhaling and it was making him crazy. He melted further back into the shadows and forcibly cleared his mind, balling his fists until he was able to tamp down the need to change. Whistler gave him a small nod of approval, not that Angel cared. He was fighting his body simply because he didn't want to be staked. He figured that, out of game face, he had slightly better odds of her not noticing him.

Sufficiently calmed down, he crept to the edge of the crypt so he could watch her. She was dressed in a hideous orange coat that had the effect of making her look like a huge orange snowman. He honestly didn't see how she expected to fight in it. He got his answer a half second later. She didn't expect to. She was obviously humoring the watcher – Merrick, he heard her say – and she was already turning around to leave, when the grave immediately to her left exploded. He saw her eyes widen in shock and he could hear her heart speed up as fear rooted her to the spot. Merrick was shouting to her about her stake as Angel watched in bewilderment.

The fight lasted five minutes tops. The fledgling easily had the upper hand, throwing the new slayer on the ground and leaning in to drink. The newly risen vampire never even got a sip. She managed to gather her wits and throw the vampire off and finally, after an initial miss, dusted it. She sat on the ground for a long time after that, her expression dazed. When she got up to leave, Merrick trailed after her. Angel could hear his fading voice talking about training schedules and various weapons.

Whistler turned, giving Angel a long appraising look.

"I don’t understand," Angel said, running his hand through his hair. "Darla said that slayers were killers. That that's all they were."

Whistler shrugged. "It's always more complicated than we think. Come on, Scrooge. You still have to visit the ghost of Christmas future."

***

He stood, half hidden by shrubbery, peering at the house in front of him. Whistler had promised him that this was the last stop. He was half tempted to leave now and tell Whistler he had seen whatever the hell he was supposed to be seeing and go home. Not that a rat-infested alleyway was anyone’s idea of home, but spying on the newly called vampire slayer was even less appealing.

And yet, he found himself unable to leave. He wouldn’t say he was curious, that was a bit too strongly worded. Interested was closer to the mark. Because the girl curled up on the bed in front of him wasn’t acting the way he imagined a vampire slayer would act. Through the slightly opened window, he could easily smell the fear and sorrow; it was practically masking the base scent he thought of as “slayer”. Shouldn’t she be ecstatic? She had dusted her first vampire. That's what she was made for, after all.

A half buried memory surfaced. He had wanted to see Mozart perform, but Darla had adamantly refused, saying that they would stay in that night. Past experience had made it clear that when Darla was this opposed, crossing her would lead to major unpleasantness. So he had tried all of his seduction techniques, reminded her that she could wear her new blue gown and that they could feast grandly later. And still, Darla had remained unmoved. Finally, she had explained about the one girl in all the world and how the slayer would be in the audience that night. Only a newly minted vampire would blindly walk into so blatant a trap. And then she had continued speaking, words that he had now remembered with startling clarity: "The slayer has no family, no friends, no earthly ties. She has no wants, no needs, no desires other than to hunt us down and see us made dust. She is less human than any vampire that has ever walked the earth."

"Dinner's ready."

The voice broke him from his reverie and he was wrenched back to the present. He watched as the new slayer slowly trudged from the room. The room was painted a light color, yellow, if he had to hazard a guess. He tried to remember the dandelions that had dotted the fields of his youth, but as always, he could only visualize the grayed tones in which he now viewed the world. He suspected the room was cheerful during the day. The walls were dotted with large pictures taped directly to them. They seemed mostly to be photos of vaguely prepubescent looking boys. She had a bed which had a variety of stuffed animals propped on top, a dresser that contained a tangle of stuff he couldn't begin to identify, a desk with various books, pens and paper, and a vanity that possessed more make-up, lotions, creams and perfumes than even Darla had owned. Directly across from him, hanging over the desk, was a calendar. There were notations on almost every single date. "CL" at least twice a week, various names, "party - Ben", "party - Steph", "party - Deede" and a lot of notations that he couldn't make heads or tails of.

He furrowed his brow as he tried to reconcile the evidence in front of him with Darla's long ago words. This girl obviously had a family; she was eating dinner with them. And she appeared to have a lot of friends. None of this was making much sense. Spike had regaled him (over and over and over) with his tale of killing the Chinese slayer and how difficult the win had been. While Spike was certainly prone to exaggeration, Angel honestly couldn't imagine this girl giving any vampire a run for his money. She had survived her graveyard encounter with that newborn out of sheer dumb luck.

She walked back into her room and Angel was surprised by how tiny and worn out she looked. She made a noise that was halfway between a hiccup and a sob. She walked over to her desk, angrily scrubbing her eyes with the back of her hand as she picked up the phone.

"Crystal? Yeah, hi, it's Buffy. Listen, I can't make practice tomorrow." He could see her hand tightening around the phone and when the crack appeared, her eyes flow open, startled.

"Nothing, I dropped the receiver, that's all. I know the regionals are in two weeks. I just can't tomorrow. I'll be there Tuesday, no problem." She hung up the phone listlessly and then picked it back up, staring at the crack in the plastic casing. Finally, the phone began to make a shrill noise and she replaced the receiver once more.

He had no idea what she had been talking about, but he did know it was important to her. Weapons training, he realized. She was not going to wherever she had planned because she was going to be training with Merrick.

"I'm sure the time just got away from her."

"Stop making excuses for her, Joyce."

The murmur of her parents' voices had gotten steadily louder. He could hear her father's heavier tread and wasn't surprised when her bedroom door opened a moment later.

"I want you home the rest of the week. Come home right after school, no running around at all. Understood?"

Her eyes widened and then immediately her gaze shifted to her bedspread. "I can't." Her voice sounded small and thready without a hint of defiance. "I have cheerleading practice. And I promised Tacy we'd go to the mall to look for dresses for the spring fling. And tomorrow I have chemistry study group. And on Friday I'm going to the movies with the gang. And…"

"And you're not going anywhere."

Angel watched as she picked at a loose thread on the bed cover, her eyes darting back and forth, her heartbeat increasing ever so slightly. Her father didn't know it but as far as Angel was concerned, she might as well have been shouting that her entire speech was a lie. In that moment, he knew that she would be calling Crystal again to tell her she couldn't make Tuesday's practice either or any other practice, for that matter. All those entries on the calendar. Each one an occasion that she had been looking forward to. She would be calling Crystal and Ben and Steph and Deede to break every single one.

"I am tired of your irresponsible behavior, young lady." She didn't even try to meet her father's angry gaze; she just dipped her head lower.

Angel watched, shifting his weight uncomfortably from foot to foot. He was an expert on the subject of diminished parental expectations; he suddenly felt like he was watching a scene from his own home life from several centuries ago. He could barely recall his father in any other mode besides disapproving as he loudly proclaimed his only son a disappointment, a stain on the family's good name, a wastrel, a liar, a thief. Of course, he had deserved all of his father's appellations. He had been too weak to stand up to him and go after the life he had really wanted, but he had been willful enough to refuse to do what his father had planned for him. Instead, he sunk into a life of carnality, numbing his bitterness with sex and alcohol, until finally he stumbled into Darla. After that, he found many ways to make sure that the rest of the world suffered for his earlier unhappiness.

But this situation was only superficially the same. The door slammed as her father stomped out of the room. Just a few hours ago, she had been laughing and smiling, carefree and surrounded by friends. As of right now, she was the slayer and from here on in, she would be spending her evenings protecting the world and courting death. And from the looks of things, getting criticized on a nightly basis for her perceived failures. It didn't seem fair. She was pressed into the bed, her shoulders shaking, as she silently cried. She couldn't have been more than sixteen and was likely younger.

In his time, she should would have been married already, a babe at the breast. Times changed though, and she was still a child. She had been so frightened earlier tonight. Everything she thought she had known about the world had vanished like the vampire she had consigned to the wind.

Ninety years ago, his soul had been forced back into his resisting body, but it had taken him two more years to realize that there was no going back, that he could never be what he once was. That day was the single loneliest day of his entire existence. He was man and monster, with the desires of both and belonging nowhere. Even in the years when he hadn't been a homeless bum, he had been apart from the rest of the world, never connecting with anybody, permanently rootless.

Today he witnessed the same fate, pushed onto another. He had no doubt that he deserved every day of misery. He could never suffer enough for all the torment he had gleefully caused. What could she have done to be singled out like this? No family, no friends, no earthly ties. She had been marked, made different. He understood that now.

She sat back up, her face red and blotchy, but she was no longer actively crying. She stood in the middle of her room for a long time, obviously contemplating something. Finally, she closed her eyes; her posture straight and true, with her hands fisted her sides. She bent her knees a little, jumped straight into the air, and pulling her shoulders back, did a one eighty summersault landing right back where she had been. She allowed herself a small grin of satisfaction and with a nod of self-assurance and a flounce of her hair, closed the door as she went into her bathroom.

It took a minute before Angel closed his mouth. And then he felt a small smile grace his face also. For the first time in ninety years, he felt hopeful. He would help her in any way he could, although she would never know it. He knew if she ever saw him, she would stake him. He would have to figure out an indirect way to be useful.

He closed his eyes briefly and felt a calmness settle upon him. Throughout his entire existence, he had never had a purpose in his life, or never a good purpose, at any rate. "Buffy." He said her name softly and for a moment, it hung in the air before it vanished like a soap bubble. He looked at her empty room for a long time before he finally left to go talk with Whistler.

End.


The wonderfully intriguing lyrics were provided by Ligeia

Artist: Lake Of Tears
Song: Demon You / Lily Anne

I met the demon on a summer's day
Her name was Lily Anne was what she said
She was standing there alone waiting for the fall

So I asked her would she wait with me
For the night to take this day away
But with the night she ran away the demon clad in grey

I summon the demon you

So I learned the ways the demon plays
From this beauty clad is ashen grey
How she left me with the fall left me all alone

Only sorcerers of death remains
Only shadowed ones as some would see
And the night that sings to me of Lily Anne the grey

I summon the demon you Lily Anne