Also Comes in Strange
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 Title: Opening Volley
Author: Tania
Summary: Season 4 Angelus out of the cage and on a mission. He's retrospective and way too insightful, but here's my theory, if you spent 100+ years living in someone's head...you'd have too many thoughts too.
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Angelus/Wesley
Words: 2085

The crunch of Cordelia's head against the bars is far less satisfying than he had hoped for. She goes down too quick, no blood. Angelus can't be bothered to linger, she'd hardly be a satisfying meal and he wonders why Angel would be drawn to someone so frail of body. She wouldn't have lasted five minutes in his bed, let alone Angelus'. He wants someone robust, someone who will last long beyond the biting. Of course, he thinks, a bit of a fight would be nice too.

Casting one last disgusted look at Cordelia's limp body, he swings the door of the cage open wide with a clang. "Shit for security," he says when no one comes running.

He takes his time moving up the stairs, listening for any hint that his escape has been detected. The hotel smells acrid, residue of Gunn's toy flame thrower, Lilah's sickly dying blood, the fresh sweetness of Fred's thighs, all mixing together into an amalgam of a life Angelus wishes he didn't remember. A life lived through bars far more solid than iron. And now that he's escaped the metaphysical cage as well as the tangible, his thoughts turn to reclamation, and he suddenly knows exactly where he is going.

***
Wesley's apartment is as small as he remembers. The bore of blueish-grey walls feeling sterile, unlived in. The lock gave way with barely a flick of his wrist, and Angelus is pleased to see that Wesley made no heed of Angel's warning to perform an un-invitation ritual before putting the pesky soul in a jar. "All the better for stealing," he says, loving the sound of the words as they come from his mouth.

Picking through the kitchen, Angelus half expects to see blood in the refrigerator, Wes seems to keep everything else Angel may need here. There are books and weapons on the shelves that bring out a certain sense of ownership in the vampire. These are Angel's things, his things. His mind follows a natural trajectory, planning Wesley's death at the tip of weapons he made so readily available. He pictures thin trails of blood crossing a body far more chiseled than one would imagine it to be. From the neatly planned exterior Wesley presents to the world few would expect the hard lines beneath, but Angelus knows what's hidden. He has vivid memories of Angel watching from the shadows. Demon grime peeled off with each layer of clothing, rising arms revealing shadows of bruises and the hint of hip. Angelus' thoughts shift lower as he recalls those nights of watching from within the watcher watching the watcher. There's a dizzying logic to the thought that actually hurts his brain for a moment. The years of being trapped within Angel's mind and body have made this moment all the sweeter, yet recollections of his imprisonment become muddled. Every memory is filled with the reality of Angel's actions and those Angelus wishes had happened. Like looking at the world through red cellophane, Angelus sees every day of Angel's life the way it should have been…bloody.

There is chaos in the streets as eternal night grips Los Angeles ever tighter. Angelus waits inside the calm of Wesley's apartment, unsure how long it will take his idiot hunters to realize he's gone. He throws the wall clock out the window after an hour has passed. He's waited years to taste blood, but he has no illusions that it will be anything as sweet as the Slayer's blood he tasted second hand. Like watching someone eat a dessert so sweet the aroma fills the air, but it is not taste, only yearning that makes the mouth water. "Not this time," he says to the empty apartment.

It doesn't take long for the waiting to get old. Angelus retraces his steps to the Hyperion, setting off into the middle of Los Angeles, occasionally scattering drops of blood as he goes. Sometimes the hounds have to be baited, he thinks, drawing another slice into his palm with a piece of fencing wire. There are no humans anywhere, and the allure of the apocalypse begins to fade. He dances circles around a few blocks, and then heads back towards the hotel, veering back towards Wesley's apartment once he's far enough they'll assume he's kept going on to the hotel. "Idiots," he says as though the plan has already worked.

And it has. Within half an hour Wesley comes rushing through the apartment door frantically grabbing an ax from the wall and strapping a bowie knife to his ankle. It isn't until he's reaching into a drawer for a cross that Wesley notices Angelus standing in the shadow of the doorway to his bedroom.

"How long have you been here?" Wesley asks in that defeated voice learned in childhood, perfected as an adult.

"Now what kind of greeting is that?" Angelus shifts his weight, making no move to come closer, but clearly ready to pounce should Wesley make an attempt to go for the open door.

"I'm sorry, I'd invite you in, but I see you've already made yourself comfortable."

"No, not yet, but I imagine it'll feel just like home by the time we're done."

"Done," Wesley says. There is no trace of a quiver to his voice though his hands shake around the cross.

"You were so eager to meet me, a thrill I think you called it," Angelus pushes off the wall, shoulders bending in a slow prowl of a motion that sends shivers down Wesley's spine. "I don't seem to recall you ever having that kind of thrill around Angel, I mean there's all that homoerotic subtext, but nothing ever happening. It's like daytime television, all fade to black and the morning after. Must be disappointing."

"Not nearly so disappointing for me as for you. I imagine it's somewhat of a perfect hell to never see your more base thoughts come to fruition."

In a flash Angelus is at Wesley's side, hand on his hip, the other deflecting the cross as Wesley tries to hammer it down. Angelus feels the grinding of bone on bone as his fingers squeeze around Wesley's wrist, a low groan of pain escaping Wesley's mouth as he is bent over the couch at an awkward angle.

"Tell me Wes, can you imagine the baser thoughts I'm having now?" Angelus crushes Wesley harder, pressing Wesley's ribs into the hard back of the couch as he puts more weight into pinning him down. "I've tasted you once, and I'm here to tell you, it was a treat worth indulging in a second time."

"It wasn't you," Wesley says in a small voice as his chest is crushed.

"Of course it was me. You don't really think Angel had the balls to stay alive in that box do you? He was batshit insane by the second day, but you see, it's not so easy to make me go away."

"I never thought it would be," Wesley says through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the pain in his shoulder as he reaches for the knife at his calf.

"Then why bring me back?" Angelus slides his hand down Wesley's leg, grabbing the knife just before Wesley's fingers can touch the hilt. "Ah ah ah, focus Wes. I asked you a question. Now be honest, why bring me back?"

"To help us stop the beast."

"And…"

Wesley sets his lips firm, obstinate refusal to meet Angelus' leer. His silence prompts the vampire to lift him from the couch, near carrying him across the room and slamming him against the open door, the momentum sending the door crashing against the frame.

"You know that old saying about Curiosity, Wes? It's not the cat that gets killed, it's the pussies." With a one-handed move Angelus has Wesley flipped around, face to face. The hunger in Wesley's eyes is almost as bright as the vampire’s. "Just admit that you could have taken care of the big rock without me and maybe I'll let you live."

"It's a possibility, but how many would have…"

"Do not," Angelus says, placing a finger at Wesley's lips, "try to play the noble act card with me. We both know the only reason you went along with the plan was this moment. No bars, no lines painted on the floor. You get to do what few have, I mean few left standing, anyway."

"And what might that be?" The voice is defiant, but Wesley's hands clench as though looking for purchase on that which he dares not touch.

"You get to see exactly why I was hunted across four continents for a hundred and fifty years." Angelus runs his fingers down the front of Wesley's shirt. Smiling at the small release of breath, he mouths next to Wesley's ear, "I'll give you hint, It had nothing to do with my choice of food."

"Tell me this," Wesley says, pressing his back into the door, hoping for another inch of space between him and the vampire. "How long do you think it will be before the others come looking for me?"

"I don't know, how long did you wait in the bushes outside with your throat split before they came? Oh that's right, silly me," Angelus touches his forehead as though revelation has struck, "they never did come for you."

"Things are different now."

"You're not wrong there are you? I guess the real question is what they'll find if they show up." Taking a strong hold on Wesley's cock, working him to hardness through his clothing, Angelus touches the tip of his tongue to Wesley's neck. "Will it be Wesley sleeping comfortably in his bed? Or maybe Wesley en flambé, diced, chopped, minced?"

"I'd like to think I'll be holding a handful of dust."

"So brave, I can see why Angel keeps you around. I knew there had to be a reason, other than the obvious."

"The obvious being?"

The laughter that serves as reply has the desired effect on Wesley, his demeanor cracks as Angelus' cool hand slips beneath his jeans, trapping his cock between his own roiling stomach muscles and the vicious grasp of the vampire.

"I thought…You told Fred," Wesley's words die amid gasps for air and the struggle to make no encouraging movements.

"You thought Angel's wants were never mine?"

"Angel wouldn't want this."

"He's dreamt of this moment a hell of a lot more often than he ever did of that fucking gypsy girl. See, we can blame that on Darla, this," squeeze, strip, nip of earlobe, "he has no one to blame but himself for this."

"Can't help but note that the man you insist is not you, is not the one in this room."

"From the look on your face, that smell, the one that says you're more afraid of not being afraid, that tells me Angel is always in this room, even when he's gone to never-neverland."

"He'll be back, and when he is…" Mustering what little resolve he has under the constant ministrations of Angelus' hands, Wesley pushes him away, barely darting a jab to the throat as Angelus laughs off his efforts to thwart him.

"When he gets back…" Angelus slams Wesley back against the door, pinning both shoulders beneath his grasp as his mouth covers Wesley's. The kiss is hard enough to draw blood. Wesley's lips clamp shut, denying Angelus' tongue entrance until the vampire lowers his fangs, slicing at the tender skin. When Wesley parts his lips the fangs are gone, but the hands are back, roving, pulling. As soon as Wesley's tongue lowers from its firm position against the roof of his mouth, engaging in the gentlest of dances with Angelus', the vampire pulls back. All contact disappearing in an instant. "If you morons do manage to bring Angel back, and know that I may kill you all before that happens, if you do…he's going to remember this moment. Probably better than you will. And when he asks for forgiveness like the pansy ass you know he is, this is why he'll be asking for it."

"And why's that?"

"Because you don't want it to end. You see more of Angel in me than you want, and you know what, Wes?"

Wesley stops trying to answer, a slow shake of his head taking the place of words.

"He'll never forgive you for that, so he'll ask forgiveness for me. Be a man, don't give it to him."

Shoving Wesley to the side, Angelus opens the door, turning back to add, "Race you back to the hotel."

"You haven't won anything here," Wesley calls after him, a slow tremor of self loathing building in his body.

"Not yet, but the game is just beginning."

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