Cat in Hell’s Chance


AUTHOR: HELEN
SUMMARY: This is a sequel to Lost & Found and is set Post S5 (AU) L & F summary for those that haven’t read it: Cordy wakes up and runs off, returns and then the serial deals with the obstacles W&H throw at C & A before they work it out and get together as a couple. Angel’s still boss of W & H LA and Cordy runs her own agency.
RATING: NC17
POSTED: 25 Aug 2003
CATEGORY: AU / ACTION & VIOLENCE / SMUT
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A
WARNINGS: Violence and Graphic Sexual Content
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES:
1) This is an action piece mainly – Wesley stumbles across something nasty and Angel gets drawn into it. Meanwhile Cordy is frantic to find them both and gets a little help from and old friend from SD (Giles) and Lorne (eventually) & a surprise guest!


PART 1

THE HYPERION HOTEL (1 am)

The lobby was dark and deserted and his footsteps rang on the cold tiles as he crossed it, heading for the stairs to the upper level, a large callused hand trailing on the rail. Moonlight lit what it could through windows and glass doors but left most in shadow and his was the biggest shadow moving silently and fluidly despite his size and the big black leather coat that reached almost to his knees.

He stopped outside a room and laid a hand on the wooden panel as if trying to sense if she was inside even as his other hand turned the handle and opened it. She lay partially on her side on the bed with the sheet pushed down around her naked hips; a hand lay palm up on the pillow next to her beautiful face and one knee was raised, giving him tantalising glimpses of the shadowed secrets of her body, secrets only a lover can know. He stood next to the bed for a few moments to drink in the view, able to see perfectly in the darkness.

Finally he shrugged out of his heavy coat and placed it quietly on a chair by the bed, nimble fingers pulled at his clothes, undoing zippers and buttons, slipping cloth over his dark head as he headed for the shower. He was back within 10 minutes, naked shoulders gleaming as he passed through patches of light crossing to the bed to slip under the covers with her, his body warmed from the heat of the water and then carefully rubbed dry to try and retain some of that heat until he could absorb hers.

He spooned his big body around her and leaned on an elbow to trail a loving finger down one soft cheek and neck, mesmerised all over again by the satiny texture of her skin and the sweet heat that came off her sleeping body in warm living waves. She stirred slightly and tucked herself closer to him, murmuring his name but remaining asleep even as her full lips curved in pleasure.

He nuzzled into the crook of her neck, enjoying the buzz the smell of her brought to his body; even the blood hunger was erotic and he got hard just being close to her. It was a reaction he was getting familiar with and so he tamped down the urge to roll her over, she was so peaceful and relaxed he didn’t want to disturb her.

He settled down to just look, giving her whisper soft caresses that soothed rather than aroused, his full lips curved in crooked smile at his own response. Happy to wait until morning when she would wake and start an exploration of her own, she knew he would be disappointed if she didn’t.

WESLEY INVESTIGATING

Wesley sat with his legs apart and a large heavy book resting on his lap; his brows were drawn together in a frown over sharp blue eyes. As an ex-watcher he was accustomed to a great deal of reading and digesting of information in order to reach a conclusion based on logic and knowledge.

But logic was defying him, or at least it wasn’t making any sense, a no-no for seekers of logic. Irritated he put the book carefully aside and stretched trying to work the kinks out of his tired body. A quick check of his watch had him rubbing suddenly gritty eyes and wishing he were in bed where he should be at this hour.

“This makes no sense; why now and by whom”? Good questions and he was no nearer to finding the answers than he’d been hours ago. “At least I have a good idea of where”.

He dropped his hands and contemplated the palms, deep in thought and trying to reach a decision. Should he wait to speak to Angel tomorrow afternoon or try and check it out now?

The report on his desk had made it clear that the numbers were on the increase and it smote at his conscience for even thinking about waiting. But he didn’t really have enough to go on that would justify disturbing the others. A few seconds later he rose and headed for the chair where he’d tossed his jacket. He’d made a decision; he would do a quick recon and then report back.

A little later he surveyed the low level building with its corrugated sides and big-padlocked bay doors. This was the last building in the suspect area that could feasibly be the centre of the problem; he checked around looking for anything obvious but saw nothing out of the ordinary even with the concealing darkness.

Then he heard the sounds of an approaching vehicle, the headlights heading directly for here. He quickly moved around the other side of the building and settled down to watch. He didn’t have long to wait, a dark coloured van pulled up outside the garage bay doors and a large male figure got out.

The man unlocked the doors and pulled them back so that the van could drive inside and all of a sudden it was decision time for Wesley again. Should he try and sneak inside or stay outside and see what he could hear from here? He darted inside before the doors were pulled closed again and while the man had his back turned and attention elsewhere.

Then he hit a snag, the building was literally empty and there was nowhere to hide except under the now parked van before he was spotted by either the driver or the other behind him, quickly Wesley slid underneath it, glad the lights inside the building hadn’t been switched on yet and trying not to notice the dirt and grit on the floor under his hands and face.

“Strange for a motor repair facility to have no cars, tools or lifting equipment; just an empty building”, thought Wesley, keeping as still as possible; and wishing he’d been able to find somewhere with better viewing opportunities. He watched as two black boots walked back towards the van and pulled the sliding doors aside.

He heard mumbled voices but could only make out a few of the words, there were bumping noises over his head and then a thump and a groan. A face appeared to look under the van and Wes nearly jumped out of his skin at the fierce ugliness of the demon before he realised it was unconscious and couldn’t see him, then the face got dragged away and another took it’s place as the van got unloaded.

Wesley counted at least a half dozen demons and four humans, “pay dirt”, this was the location and these the people responsible for the demon and human abductions over the last few weeks; he just wished he wasn’t alone and could do something about it.

“Dammit I’ve done it again: jumped into a situation alone without consulting anyone! Angels going to have my head over this when he finds out”, thought Wesley castigating himself and knowing he was in for more if he got out of here in one piece.

“There are only two of them, big – yes but I’ve dealt with bigger”, he couldn’t just leave the humans to be taken, he was here and he had to do something! He waited a few seconds to figure out the locations of the two abductors and then slid out from under the van. They didn’t spot him right away and he took advantage of that fact.

He assessed them as he approached, his boots silent on the cement floor and wishing there were some shadows to blend in with but grateful for the lack of light and his own dark clothing. They were both busy with their unconscious cargo, lining them up on the floor in such a way as to convince Wesley this was not the final destination but just a stopping point. He got close enough for them to sense and then whirl to face him.

For a moment, fear chased across their human faces until they realised he was human too, then they snarled and rushed him. Wesley stood firm and let them close the last few feet, watching their body movement to guess where and how they would attack. One came in low on his right, the other took the opposite tack, as a strategy it wasn’t bad and he had to twist to the side when punching at one to avoid a similar fate from the other.

The man on his right was laid out for the moment caught full in the face by his short and hard punch, groaning and holding his nose. Wesley turned his full attention on the other who now stood to one side head cocked as if checking him out properly, now that he’d managed to hurt one of them. Wesley didn’t like that as it hinted at an intelligence that could make this tricky.

Neither spoke but charged at the same time, Wesley felt his waist get grabbed in a crushing grip and then he was lifted in the air, hard arms squeezed, crushing the air from his lungs. Wesley snapped down with an elbow right onto the fellow’s ear, the grip loosened at the pain inflicted and he followed through with an identical blow to the same place. He found himself back on his feet but only for a moment before he saw a bunched fist flying towards his face, he ducked and it whizzed past his head.

He stiffened his fingers and stabbed them into his opponent’s throat and then stood back to watch as the man fell to his knees gagging and wheezing, trying to get air into his lungs past his injured throat. The other was just getting to his feet and so with a half turn Wesley lashed out with a sharp kick; the force of it snapping the head back and laying him out again.

Without hesitating he walked over to the humans lying on the dirty floor, he crouched down and checked their pulse and then eyes, drugged he sighed and sat back on his heels, he looked back towards the van and quickly walked over to it; as he was checking for the keys in the ignition he felt something come up behind him and his head whipped around, too late, blue eyes widened just as something heavy and blunt smashed into his skull and blackness fell like a curtain.

HYPERION HOTEL (3 am)

Angel woke abruptly and only just managed not to jostle Cordy and wake her too; he lifted his head and listened intently with all of his supernatural ability, something had woken him, a noise or movement out of place. He heard nothing more but there was a tingling sensation at the back of his neck, and that was an instinct he never failed to heed.

He looked down at the sleeping beauty next to him and then eased away out of the bed and bent down to pick up his pants, he didn’t bother with anything else just slipped out of the room to investigate. His head swivelled a little as he checked the rooms in passing, listening for movement or unusual smells, each room only taking a second to check before he moved on satisfied there was no danger lurking inside.

His feet were as silent as ever but quickened in pace when he approached the landing overlooking the lobby and heard the faintest of scratching sounds. He considered just jumping over the rail but decided it was just as quick to simply bound down the stairs, which he did; still silent as he approached the office and it’s closed door.

He opened it and looked inside the lamp lit room dark eyes narrowing at the sight of a hunched figure riffling through a drawer from the wrong side; awkwardly bent over the expanse of the desk and obviously searching for something. The intruder cursed under his breath, it was a male voice; having no idea he’d been discovered.

At least until his searching hand was caught in a vice like grip at the wrist, lifted high above his head and twisted so that he had no choice but to turn, eyes wide with fright clashed with menacing dark brown. He recognised the vampire and nearly fainted with fear. The man was only small and he flinched when the grip got tighter and his feet left the floor as he was raised up even further until his face was only inches away from his captor.

The intruder gulped and his arm trembled with the strain, he shut his eyes thinking that not being able to see that terrifyingly recognisable face would lessen the fear, it didn’t so he opened them again. He’d heard the vampire had killed at least three humans in the last year, but that was before the woman had come back and he could only pray that what they said was true about him being less bloodthirsty now she was back.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I swear”, he said to Angel in a high-pitched voice. Angel said nothing for a moment but continued to look at him, his grip not slipping even a little and also not caring that it was obviously painful for the little man.

“You come in here, in the dead of night where a woman lives alone; sneak around in her office and then tell me your not doing anything wrong?”, his voice was low pitched and growling.

The man definitely felt faint then I’m so dead, he thinks I’m here to hurt his girlfriend , he nearly sobbed and wished he was stronger and braver instead of the wimp everyone called him, Talk you stupid idiot, or you will be dead.

“Honestly; I just wanted to leave a note, that’s it I swear. I didn’t realise you’d be here”. He hadn’t meant to say the last as it gave him away and he groaned and hung his head; the pain in his impossibly stretched arm giving way to numbness, and he looked at his dangling feet in despair.

Angel’s eyes narrowed further as his brows lowered even more forbiddingly, but he dropped the man back on his feet and released his wrist. Angel didn’t even have to try and tower over the man, he was so little anyway, for gods sake, Cordy was taller than this guy! “Leave a note about what”? He snapped.

“A note for you” was the quivering reply, “about Wesley Wyndham Pryce” he rubbed his sore wrist, trying to get feeling back into the limb.

“You were leaving a note for me here, but you didn’t think I’d be here”? Replied Angel angry and confused “Who the hell are you anyway”?

“Evans, Neil Evans, I’m from the Transport Division, maintenance and facilities that sort of stuff”, a hopeful note had started to creep in.

“You work for me”? Asked Angel, eyebrows raised and yet still managing to glare down at his erstwhile employee. Angel looked him over again and sighed, feeling like a bully. This guy was just a normal average human, emphasis on the average; brown hair medium length, clean shaven with big nose small mouth and watery blue eyes.

“Yeah” the little man nodded enthusiastically, looking up into Angel’s face and watching his reaction hopefully.

Angel stepped back a little and put his hands on his hips looking down with suspicion but less hostility on his face. “That still doesn’t explain why you came here at all”.

Gulp time again, thought Neil, come clean or try and get away with a convincing lie, not much choice really when one of those options could get him killed since he was crap at lying. “I didn’t want this traced back to me”, he admitted.

“Get what traced”? Asked Angel, frustrated and wanting to get to the point of this charade like now!

“Your friend’s just walked into a whole world of trouble” he said it hesitatingly, knowing it wouldn’t be a welcome announcement.

“Wesley’s in trouble”? Interrupted Angel; still confused and even more frustrated. Plus the pure fear coming off this guy was incredibly distracting, not to mention making him feel damned hungry, not a good thing in the circumstances.

“Yeah, I was hoping to have at least until tomorrow before he did anything but…”, his voice trailed off when Angel took a threatening step closer; crowding him back against the desk, out of patience entirely.

“Wolfram & Hart have been running a delivery operation of abducted demons and humans to a secret location for months and the Watcher stumbled onto it”, the words literally streamed out of his mouth as he babbled uncontrollably, trying to placate the angry vampire.

Every muscle in Angel body tensed with rage at hearing that the company he supposedly ‘ran’ was still up to its evil tricks behind his back and now Wes was in the middle of it; how?

“How” Angel snarled, still crowding. This guy was going nowhere until he got the answers he needed.

“How what”? The idiot even blinked owlishly at him. Angel strove for patience,

“How is the operation being run, and how did Wesley find out about it? I want details – all of it”.

Neil sighed and his narrow shoulders slumped, “I don’t really know much more, just that it happens and it’s carried out only by two of the drivers, twice a week, same van and it always comes back cleaned”.

Angel moved back a little giving him some space but also to get away from the cloying smell of fear, “Why did you come here to tell … or OK leave a note about this if you’re so scared”, it could be a trap but all of his instincts were telling him this guy was on the level, even so?

“I like Mr Wyndham Pryce, he gets around and he doesn’t ignore the little guy”, there was a slightly accusing look in the ‘little guys’ face as he said it; which given the circumstances Angel ignored.

“OK fine, so where is Wes now, and what kind of trouble do you mean”? Angel walked around the desk and sat down picking up a pen and paper.

“Oh he’s in big trouble Mr Angel – the worst kind from the whispers I’ve heard but if you want to know more, you’ll need to speak to the two drivers, Danny Lindsey and Peter McCloud”.

“Write down their addresses and likely hangouts and add yours too. If you’re telling me the truth, you get a promotion -if not you get dead”. Neil had no reason not to believe him and started to scribble furiously.

WESLEY

Wesley woke up with a head that hurt like the blasted devil; he opened his eyes and tried not to move any part of his aching body whilst keeping the contents of his stomach where they were. For a few moments all he could see was stars as he struggled to focus, but then he made out the grimy bare walls and dirt packed floor that surrounded him.

Best guess; I’m in a cell of some kind – that’s just great, Wes!. His blue eyes travelled further and lit on another huddled figure in the dark gloom. It was too dark to make out any details but whoever it was they looked to be fairly sizeable.

“Where are we”? Wes managed to croak out, licking his lips to try and moisten them.

“Sshhhh” came back in a terrified reply. Hmm not exactly informative thought Wesley, trying to get his bearings and gearing himself up for the pain of sitting up.

“Where are we” He repeated, hoping persistence would get him somewhere.

“No talking” the whisper was almost too low to be heard and then “Were in hell”, dry sobbing followed before silence reigned again.

“Really” said Wesley a little dryly “which one might that be then”?

His cell-mate was saved from having to answer by the clang of bolts being drawn back, which gave Wes the impetus to finish sitting up so he could move until his back was to the grimy wall nearest to him, he looked towards the door.

Wesley had to blink from the flickering torchlight as it came into the room, unable to adjust instantly to the change, he raised a hand to help shield himself and looked towards his cell-mate; whom he could now see was a demon. Not a breed he recognised but he catalogued the details anyway, a green spiked crest on top of the head and around the ears, facial skin a paler green with large eyes that looked to be topaz in colour. He was big and he was scared – not a good sign, thought Wesley, when something that scary looking was itself shaking with terror.

He looked back to the door and found more demons being brought in, two of them both of whom were unconscious. The guard was clothed in a studded leather vest and leg coverings wrapped around thick bulging limbs like tree trunks. The bald head and face was covered in a mask up to entirely black eyes but from the shape of the mask, humanoid looking was at least a possibility.

Wesley stumbled to his feet and swayed a moment before forcing his knees to lock. While the new demons were being dumped and dragged into the cell, he moved closer to the door, debating the wisdom of a dash for freedom; he had no idea what lay beyond that door but experience had proven it was better to be free than caged.

He never made it that far. The guard, despite it’s size was fast, and before he could evade it Wesley was struck by a high kick that caught his shoulder and sent him crashing into the wall beside the door, his head hit it with an audible crack and he slid down to the floor, dazed and now with blood dripping into his eyes from a cut on his forehead.

A meaty hand fisted in his jacket and shirt, picking him up effortlessly and flung him back towards the other side of the cell and away from the door, he came to rest beside one of his newest fellow prisoners; still reeling from the latest blow to his head.

He saw the leather wrapped legs stop next to him and waited for another blow but none came, he looked up then but couldn’t see any expression, just the blank mask with the dead black eyes.

“Why am I here”? He dared to ask beyond caring about safety, he was all but dead anyway by the looks of it. The demon didn’t answer him, perhaps couldn’t with that mask; just walked away, and the next thing Wesley heard was the bolts crash into place and the cell was once again pitch black.

PART 2

ANGEL (3.50 am)

He only had an hour and half maximum of real night-time left and he had to make it count, his worry over Wesley was increasing with every minute; he needed to find were Wesley had gone and his best bet for getting that information was snoring behind the door in front of him.

The other address had been a dead-end; this one wouldn’t be allowed to be. He knocked loudly on the door and moved to the side and out of sight, just in case the guy should recognise him like Evans had. He heard the dragging, heavy footsteps and prepared to pounce. The door opened and he heard the guy growl “Fuckin’ kids knockin’ me up at this time – kill you”!

Angel watched and tensed further when he saw the foot step over the threshold; that was enough – he hunkered down and grasped that ankle, pulling hard and smiled in grim satisfaction at the surprised yell and the crash as the guys ass hit the opposite corridor wall, entirely out of the safety of his ‘home’.

Angel stepped in front of the open doorway, blocking that escape route and stepped over to the sprawled human, picking him up by the throat to drive him up the plastered wall and vamping out. “Hello Danny”.

The human squirmed and choked as Angel closed his fingers, squeezing the flesh and cutting off air, veins popped out and meaty fingers scrabbled at his, trying to pull them away; he squeezed harder as he leaned in, “invite me in” he said.

Angel loosened his hold to let the guy speak, “Let me go asswi…” strangled gargling finished of that sentence and made the driver think again as he felt his eyes start to bug out. “argghh…invite you… in”, the words were almost indistinct with the pressure on his larynx but it was enough.

Inside the apartment the driver collapsed on to the nearest chair, both hands clutching his neck, watering red eyes watched the vampire warily as he stalked around checking out the rooms and riffling through some papers lying around.

Angel was finished in seconds, and reasoned that the driver would have recovered enough to talk now, “Tell me were Wesley is”? He demanded quietly standing in front of the seated man with his hands on his hips, jaw thrust forward and fierce demonic visage still firmly in place.

“I don’t know”, wheezed Danny, coughing a little and then struggling up with the intent to fetch a glass of water; Angel pushed him back down. “No one said you could move”. This made it twice in an hour that he’d been forced to terrorise a human, he mentally shrugged off the discomfort that was the guilt – guilt at how much a part of him was enjoying this, This one at least had brought it on himself

He paced very slowly in front of the chair, his yellow eyes never leaving the scared man in the chair, fangs glinting with every pace as the lights reflected off them. Finally he stilled, having got his more vicious side under control; he kept his vamp face on though, as it tended to make people take him more seriously and, ironically; saved a lot of bloodshed.

“I don’t believe you – don’t lie to me or I will make sure you regret it- for a short a while at least”. That demonic face towering over him coupled with the deep growling voice made Danny choke again as his throat seized up with fright.

ANGEL (4.35 am)

A little later Angel stood inside an empty disused garage, he could smell oil and fumes from engines both old and new, there were also spots of blood on the floor again old and new, he travelled the length and breadth of the building searching for anything to link this place to Wesleys disappearance.

He bent down when he caught a scent that was familiar, it was in the middle of some wheel tracks on the dirty floor and as he got closer Wesley’s scent became stronger, he had lain here for some reason. He laid a hand on the spot as if he thought he could tell more by doing so and then sighed and stood up.

Feeling like an idiot; but fresh out of other ideas, he stood in the centre of the building where he could be seen from every angle and raised his voice, “I know about you and your little scheme, it ends tonight; there will be no more shipments, ever”, he waited feeling even more foolish when only the rustle of rats answered him.

“Come out and face me, or are you cowards as well as assholes”? Again nothing, his shoulders slumped and he was ready to admit defeat and go rouse the others out of bed for some research when a light appeared, just a crack in front of him but then it widened into a bigger rip and a demon stepped through it.

Big bastard aren’t you, Angel thought with an internal whistle, “So you don’t like being called a coward huh”? He smiled grimly amused at its clothes and mask, watching with cautious dark eyes, black as pitch under his slashing brows, as it walked closer fearless and arrogant.

“So what’s with the mask – seen too many teen horror movies or are you just so butt ugly under there you can’t even stand the sight yourself”? He didn’t move but let it walk right up to him, toe to toe. His smile became a grin, it was unarmed and he had a sword, he left it pointing at the ground, gripped with the fingers of his right hand wrapped around the chained hilt.

“Not too talkative are you? That could be problem”, he said into its face, the smile back again; now joined with a sarcastically raised brow. The demon didn’t answer but gestured to the fissure behind it and Angel guessed he was being ‘invited’ to follow it.

Dammit Wesley, what have you gotten us into now?

He followed the demon and stepped through; and ended up in some kind of antechamber. It felt like he was stepping back in time, but that wasn’t the really weird part, what was weird was the fact that whatever time it was, it was way before his.

Flaming torches flickered in metal brackets on the walls, the floor was some kind of stone and the walls the same; bleeding together to create a dark, grey and altogether medieval picture. Then there were the clothes, studded brown leather and ‘leg wrappings’ for god’s sake!

It would be funny if they weren’t so big, thick meaty arms, grotesquely hunched shoulders wider than his, chests as deep as they were wide -and they were tall too; at least a foot over him and he wasn’t exactly small fry. Apart from the bald head though, all you could see of their faces were black eyes, no white just plain black – like a snake; and just as emotionless.

Several pairs of them were looking at him now – he had a welcoming committee, how nice. Steel glinted from raised swords and axes held aloft in such a way as to make it clear they were adept at using them. He left his own weapon down across his hips and pointing to the floor.

When he didn’t surrender it they moved closer, their weapons raised higher, almost touching his face now. He relaxed and tossed the sword upwards, catching it again by the hilt and holding it out to one of them; the one he’d followed.

It grasped the proffered sword near the hilt and tugged; Angel held on and stepped closer until his nose was almost touching the mask, “I’m going to be getting this back soon”, he told it in a tauntingly confident voice, one eyebrow cocked intending to provoke a reaction. It did, the demon reached up with a bunched fist and a snarl to rip his head off or something.

“Not gonna happen big guy”. Angel told it grinning in satisfaction, then grabbing the wrist and wrenching with all of his might. He twisted it sharply to the side to create tension in the elbow and shoulder and then brought down his free hand, now that he’d released the sword; down in a powerful snapping blow to the arm, just above the elbow; bone cracked and the thing bellowed in pain, it’s arm handing uselessly once Angel released it.

“Bravo” said a deep voice filled with admiration and a tinge of amusement. Angel looked towards the voice standing just beyond his ring of opponents, “But a bit reckless don’t you think, Vampire”?

“Oh, I don’t know; sometimes you have to get your kicks when the opportunity comes up”, he replied lowering his chin and tilting his head a little, dark eyes glinting in the flickering light, full mouth curved. The picture of relaxed arrogance matched only by the creature at the door who knew that whatever Angel was capable of; the vampire was on his territory now.

“Oh I couldn’t agree more, but still you’re a complication and a temptation all rolled into one”.

Angel’s brows both rose at that cryptic remark, “I’m a complicated person, but as for tempting….” his mouth twisted and he shook his head in mockingly, “I’m at the top of the food chain not exactly morsel material”.

The demon walked closer and Angel could see him better. He was as big as the others, in fact similar enough to be same the same species, the eyes all the same but this one wore no mask; the nose was flat and the lips almost nonexistent and above those obsidian eyes were ridged brows with tiny spikes along the length. The skin was almost human coloured and the head and jaw was covered with sharp tines where hair would have been on a human.

“Oh I didn’t mean for food – no; a warrior like you deserves more respect than that. We serve the weak ones for food and use others like yourself for much better sport”.

Angels brows snapped down in a frown, that sounded ominously familiar to Angel but he refrained from saying anything about that, waiting to hear more “Go on”?

The demon smiled genially and held out a thick arm towards the doorway, “Why waste words, come and I’ll show you”, it was quite a courtly gesture -and coming from this one, creepy, even to the vampire! His guards stepped back and allowed him to pass freely; so this demon he was following was obviously some kind of authority figure.

He walked into a nightmare, even having spent time in a hell dimension, the sight that met his eyes shocked him and his entire body clenched, as he forcibly had to restrain himself from erupting into useless fury. The smooth stone of the antechamber gave way to rock-face walls and dirt packed and rocky floors as if they were in an underground series of tunnels and chambers.

The entire complex looked huge with a central chamber directly ahead, encircled by a tunnel with additional chambers leading off. It was the central chamber that brought bile to his mouth. Huge stone slabs were set up, hundred of them all blood spattered with entrails and body parts scattered over and around them.

Dismembered bodies were still lying on some and being worked on by other masked demons with meat cleavers; most of the bodies were human while some of them had once been smaller demons. Hooks were dug into the ceilings near the walls and strips of red meat were hung to drip, the stench was incredible and the he had to choke back the sharp need that suddenly tore at his guts. Oh God, please don’t let one of them be Wesley

He didn’t realise until he heard the savage growling and felt the vibration in his chest that he’d vamped out; his ‘host’ noticed though, and looked at him curiously. “Feeling hungry Vampire, we have plenty here”.

“I’m going to kill you”, He felt no better for having said it, but fuck it; it needed saying.

The demon just smiled in approval at him, “I like you Vampire, I knew I would when I heard about you”

“Get fucking real, I just threatened your life”, he snarled angry at not being taken seriously.

“That happens all the time around here, do you think we would want tame demons? Of course not! –that would never do”

“All right; cut to the chase. What do you want the demons for?”

It was pretty obvious what they wanted the humans for, and he intended to address that before he left here. But he was calmer now; the smell of the blood was still driving his intestines into spasms of need but that was something he’d become accustomed to over the last century, although recently; with much less difficulty.

“Look behind you, Angel, what do you see”?

Still vamped out, feral topaz eyes surveyed the chamber directly behind them, next to the one he’d come out of just a few minutes earlier. There were literally hundreds of shelves dug into the rock; each bore hundreds of carvings of combat and figures stretched in furious battle. Weapons littered them too, some broken some not, paintings crudely drawn showed battle scenes too.

“We are a warrior race. In fact, we used to spend all of our very long lives either preparing for or doing battle; so much so that our attention on other things has dwindled to nothing. To satisfy our populace, we must have constant contests of strength and fighting skills, or erupt into an endless stream of wars that would eventually wipe us out”

“That’s bad why”? Sarcasm fairly dripped from the last word.

“We are strong, and our obsession has meant that our skills in fighting are very nearly unrivalled -but even so; our ability to reproduce is limited, and we do die”, the demon shrugged.

“So you kidnap other demons and force them to fight for their lives -to keep your people from killing themselves, and each other. Sorry; still failing to see the incentive here”, topaz eyes glared from under ridged brows.

The demon turned to face the vampire, black eyes met his and Angel felt his anger escalate at the humour in them and the merciless sense of enjoyment at his predicament. He would kill this one even if it meant he died.

“You and they have no choice in the arena; it is kill or be killed -either way blood and dust will be spilled; the crowd will be happy”

“I’ve been here before, demon, why should we fight one another when we can fight you”?

“You won’t be fighting one another; you fight us, we are not the type to just sit and watch – so don’t think refusal will do you any good. Like I said; fight and die”.

Angel grabbed it by one upper arm, fingers clenched in a tight hold strong enough to crush; the demon didn’t flinch but just eyeballed him. “Where is Wesley Wyndham Pryce”?

“Ahh, your human pet! He’s still alive, if that’s what you want to know?” The demon moved to resume walking. “He was unusual enough not to be put in there”, he indicated the butchering area. Angel sighed with relief and let go; he still had a chance -although what he could do to get them out of here, was a question he could see no answer too at this point.
THE HYPERION HOTEL

CORDY (6 am)

Her hands sought him out but found only the sheet, she frowned and still half asleep turned around to face the other side of the bed, hazel eyes blinked open and shut and then stayed open when she realised he wasn’t there at all.

Confused she turned on her back and looked towards the balcony, it must be dawn as the sun was lighting the sky outside, evident even through the drapes. She sat up then, so where the hell is he. She had to force her brain into action, did he say he was coming over after he’d finished or not? She was certain he would.

She looked down and realised she was naked; that settled it! She had been expecting him and it wasn’t a figment of her imagination; or sleep reduced brain power. She normally preferred to wear PJ’s to bed, but Angel hated it when she did and always took them off her; so when she was expecting him she didn’t bother putting any on.

Not caring about the time, she reached over to the bedside table and picked up her cell phone, dialling him and putting the phone to her ear. Boy are you in trouble buster! You’d better have a good excuse!. There was no answer; she disconnected and dropped it on the bed, and flopped back with a disgusted sigh.

“God I hate this! Great; now I’m gonna worry all day until the dork decides to call and let me know he hasn’t turned into a crispy critter!”

She jerked her head round and stared at the digital display on her clock; snarling even more when she realised it was only 6 am. “That’s it, that is totally it – I am so buying him a leash; an electric one -and when he doesn’t turn up when he’s s’posed too I’m gonna send off an electric charge to fry his sorry ass!”

Too wound up to go back to sleep; and still grumbling about that, she pulled her legs of the bed and put her feet into the fluffy slippers carefully placed in exactly the right position. She shivered in the early morning chill, and rushed to pull on a thick pink terry robe. Dressed now, she yawned and turned back to the bed to make it. She stopped dead when she saw the indentation on the other pillow next to hers.

A chill crept over her when she realised that he had been here, but if so, where had he gone? She spun and headed for the door and the corridor, “Angel” she called out as soon as she cleared the doorway, there was no answer.

She rushed down the stairs telling herself she was panicking for nothing, he’d probably got called away; but why didn’t it wake me too- and why isn’t he answering his cell now ?

A quick survey of the lobby revealed no big dark dork of a vampire, “Where the hell are you, dammit”?

She went into the office and stopped dead again, papers were on the floor, items from the drawer scattered across the desk, a half written note on her desk. She snatched it up and nearly growled in frustration, whoever had written it, it wasn’t Angel and they got no further than addressing it to ‘whoever it may concern’, Shit .

Cordy had an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach; and heeding it, dashed back upstairs to get dressed and grab her phone, she needed the numbers of it to call Wes and find out what the hell was going on. Ten minutes later she was back down and pacing in frustration. Her jeans were thrown on as well as the spaghetti strapped blouse; but her impeccable sense of style saved her from fashion disasters, even when she was thinking about other things.

“Wesley, you are just as bad as Angel!” her voice was high, and she forced herself to calm down, “This is ridiculous – this had better be an emergency or you guys are dead for worrying me like this”.

She rang Gunn’s number and got a busy signal, “SHIT” that one screamed word echoed around the lobby and almost made her miss the sound of the door from the yard opening. She whirled around, a smile of relief on her face which faded into numb shock when she recognised her visitor.

“What the devil are you doing here”? She asked partly in bewilderment and partly in annoyance that he wasn’t Angel.

“Hmmph you can tell Wesley’s been influencing you Cordelia, not to mention Angel too. Hello to you too” Said Rupert Giles from the doorway, he stood looking down at her with a quizzical look on his weather-beaten face, an old fashioned carpet bag in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

“Sorry, Hi” replied Cordy shortly, “I’m having a crisis”.

“Isn’t that just my bloody luck” sighed Giles and dropped the bag, “Another busman’s holiday – wonderful”
PART 3

THE HYPERION HOTEL (Where we left off)

“So what is it this time and where is everyone”? Asked Giles walking down the stairs, the bag left at the top where he’d dropped it, but carrying the paper like it was the bible or something. “I expected a Detective Agency to be busier”.

”Er Hello, sole trader here” , Cordy looked at Giles guileless face and decided not to get into it – Behind the times much?

“That’s the crisis” Cordelia told him in a clipped tone, still bemused at the arrival of the ex Sunnydale Librarian and ex Watcher – and if she was willing to admit one of her earliest crushes – must be a watcher or English thing, she thought remembering how hot Wesley had looked to her at one time, a long time ago she assured herself hurriedly.

Shaking her head slightly to dislodge the unwelcome nostalgia trip, she decided to take the bull by the horns and asked him; “What are you doing here anyway Giles – not that you’re not welcome or anything”, she added the last bit hastily when he looked at her with an ‘annoyed and trying to hide it’ expression.

“Thank you” Said Giles with careful emphasis before taking his glasses off for a quick polish. Typical Cordelia, never one for wasting time on the pleasantries.

Cordy gave a small smile, despite her worry – amused at the all too familiar gesture and then with a brow raised to speed things along; waited for a reply knowing silence is more effective on people like Giles than badgering. She was right too – unfortunately.

“I was coming in this direction anyway and well, I’m here to see Angel on Buffy’s behalf – she’s worried about him and I’m worried about her” said Giles and then placed his glasses carefully back on his nose, he looked up at Cordelia, obviously uncomfortable discussing it with her.

”Well Duh he’s here for Buffy – his ex and talking to me his ‘now and staying that way’ lover”, she did her damndest to ignore the surge of jealousy and instead of giving it to him with both barrels – like she wanted; she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt – maybe he just didn’t know.

“Aren’t we all” Said Cordy and for once the super sensitive Rupert Giles failed to notice the freeze in her voice and suddenly stiff body – or if he did, saw nothing wrong with it; after all it had been a while since he’d last seen her.

“So what was that you were saying about them being – missing was it”? Giles asked, looking around him, scrutinising the lobby and what he could see of the office.

“Just Angel – and maybe Wesley, but I’m not sure about Wes” replied Cordy crisply as she walked back over the phone on the counter and dialling Wes’s home number again.

“So what do you think has happened to him – have you checked his room”? Asked Giles, trying to think methodically and not sure how successful he’d be considering he was talking to Cordelia Chase.

Wow you really are behind the times, Buffy not too talkative then. “That would be my room now” replied Cordelia with a hint of steel still in her tone as she put down the ringing phone – no answer. Then relenting, she explained “Angel gave up the hotel when he took over Wolfram & Hart; this is my place now”.

Giles gaped at her for a second before recovering with a murmured “Oh”, then it hit him and he frowned, “So how do you know he’s missing – maybe he’s just not answering the phone or he could simply be asleep”.

Giles relaxed somewhat, ruefully thinking he’d forgotten how melodramatic Cordelia could be, especially when it concerned her – but then why would it concern her? It was morning after all.

He frowned and considered how to ask delicately why she would know so much about Angel’s movements. From memory and conversations with Willow – admittedly a long time ago – the vampire could barely stay in the same room with her for an hour without going crazy.

“Not really since he was supposed to be sleeping with me” Cordy told him with some careful emphasis of her own. Giles was so caught up in his own thoughts he missed the ramifications of what she said – for the moment.

WESLEY

The other two demons were awake now and he’d had a few bad moments earlier when they’d realised they were; one – being held prisoner and two – sharing a cell with a human. For some reason that seemed offensive to them and he’d been forced to defend himself, luckily for him he’d managed to put them off the idea of trying any further attacks any time soon.

However, it did mean sleeping was dangerous and so totally out of the question. Also not helping was the fact that his head was hurting like hell, but at least the need to throw up had receded, leaving him feeling hungry, ”bloody typical”. Not that he expected to be fed or even if they did offer it – would consider eating anything they gave him.

After what felt like a lifetime of tedious waiting the crash of the bolts was heard again and all four inmates stiffened and waited to see what would happen next. As before the guard was carrying a flaming torch; expecting it this time, Wesley protected his vulnerable eyes to avoid the blindness of the sudden change in light from pitch black to illumination.

After a few moments to adjust, he was able to see that the guard wasn’t alone this time, there was another with him. Similar in appearance and yet not – it was difficult to tell as this one wore no mask. He was looking directly at Wesley though, “human, you will come with us now” it wasn’t a question but a demand.

“Where am I going” He asked the demon as he got to his feet with some difficulty, stiff from sitting still and silent on the damp dirty stone floor of the cell over a prolonged period of time, trying to stay alert for possible attacks.

“To visit a friend” the demon replied and gestured for Wesley to precede him. Not exactly unhappy to leave the dark dankness behind; Wesley did as he was told without further comment. As he crossed the cell door threshold he looked around him carefully but was disappointed to see nothing but more of the same on outside, nothing but rock walls, darkness and smoke.

There were numerous other doors identical to the one he’d just left which he assumed where more of the cave-like cells, Dreary didn’t begin to describe it, if he was here for too much longer he could see himself falling into depression he thought with wry amusement.

“I have quite a few questions, if you don’t mind answering them”? Wesley asked the mask-less demon as he was led away down the corridor at a brisk pace, going to heavens knows where; he was not expecting much but hoping for something to go on that might give him a means of escape.

“Your friend has the answers you seek Human, ask him” Wesley quirked a brow at the curt tone but said nothing else, what would be the use – apparently he was going to find out soon enough. Gradually the scenery changed – became worse if that was possible.

From the small ‘tour’ he’d had so far the complex was large and whoever had built it had used the natural caverns, caves and tunnels only with a lot more care being taken with the cell block with it’s regimented doorways and solid wooden doors. Here the doorways were mere holes with ragged leather curtains covering them. The floors were rock strewn with dirt and grit to make them less slippery was his guess, ”obviously not big on hygiene these lot”.

They arrived at what appeared to be the destination; like the others there was no door just a thick curtain which when pulled back by the husky guard, revealed the pacing and obviously agitated occupant; Angel.

“Wesley, if we get out of this alive I swear I’m gonna kill you”. As a convivial greeting between friends and comrades-in-arms go, this one sucked.

“It’s nice to see you too” replied Wesley as he ducked inside and faced the vampire. You couldn’t work with Cordelia Chase for any length of time and not learn the value of a sarcastic come back.

Angel looked back to the demon that’d met him in the antechamber and now escorted Wesley to him; “You can go now Piglet, we have things to discuss here”.

“As you wish and for the record Vampire, my name is Drachnar”, the demon replied with an attempt at dignity and clearly not understanding the insult on its looks. Wesley grinned and hid it by looking over the room and using that as an excuse to turn away.

“I’ll remember that for the next time I wanna clear my throat” replied Angel with a raised brow and crossing his arms in a “What – what did I say” type of gesture, as the demon – realising it was being taunted hissed in annoyance, then its black snake like eyes narrowed with sudden malice.

“Don’t take to long with your talk Vampire, you have been treated with respect due to your reputation, but things change rapidly around here and humans are always the first to suffer”, Drachnar came over to stand beside Wesley, dwarfing the human. “Remember that before you let your tongue run away with you again”.

With that Vampire and ex-watcher were left alone, Wesley looked at Angel; his blue gaze direct as he said “I realise this is my fault, but can we save that for later and just get to the escape part for now”.

Angel sat on the edge of a table and crossed his ankles, nonchalance in every line – except for the face, which suggested otherwise. “Easier said than done Wes, you’re on the menu and I’m on the entertainment list – not to mention the pesky fact of some kind of inter dimensional portal like nothing I’ve ever seen before”.

Wesley ignored the food part and concentrated on where he could do the most good, “Describe the portal to me”.

HYPERION HOTEL

“Angel sleeps with you” Repeated Giles his face frozen with shock before a smile cracked his face and he laughed, or more accurately chuckled manically at the ‘misunderstanding’.

“You mean he occasionally sleeps here – for a minute there I thought you were saying…”

“I was and we do – can we move on now, like I said I have an emergency going on here”.

Giles choked and stuttered for a full minute before managing to stop and then meeting the glare he got from Cordelia – even without his glasses he would have winced; his shoulders slumped and in another revealing gesture removed the glasses yet again – only this time to rub his eyes in what was obviously an attempt to relieve sudden tension.

”So that’s why Buffy won’t discuss Angel or LA” , thought Giles, pity stirring in his heart, ”When am I ever going to learn not to interfere – I shouldn’t have come here, especially secretly” .

He sighed deeply and sat down on one of the chairs gingerly, saying “Yes indeed lets move on, why don’t you tell me why you think Angel is in danger”. He couldn’t just walk away now though, honour not to mention good manners forbade it.

Grateful at the offer given the blow she’d just given him, she outlined what she’d found when she’d woken this morning, but Giles didn’t seem convinced there was a problem. “It’s all very nebulous isn’t it – it could mean next to nothing, maybe he just got caught up in something or simply called away”.

“I don’t think so and that’s good enough for me” replied Cordy pacing to the middle of the lobby and turning to thrust an arm towards the glass doors and the sunlight that shone behind them, “Not to mention the whole ‘morning bright’ aspect of it”.

“For enough” replied Giles in a mixture of long suffering patience and resignation. “So what’s the next step, what would his movements have been, where might he have gone or seen”?

“Hey, Watcher guy, one question at a time here. Anyway I think the first stop has got to be the ‘belly of the beast’”.

“I beg your pardon; did you just say…” Giles looking at her in complete confusion, “What beast are you referring too”?

“I mean Wolfram & Hart, you know Evil-Law-Firm” she replied impatiently

“Why didn’t you just say so, it would make this so much easier if you could speak plain English, Cordelia”.

The reprimand in his voice made her eyes roll for moment before she caught it. ”Was Wesley ever this stuffy before they knocked it out of him”? She didn’t think so. “Did Buffy not tell you anything about what went on here”? She was genuinely curious.

But Giles angry at the implied criticism in her tone and rolling eyes, snapped at her “That’s none of your concern, Buffy is hurting Cordelia and unlike some she doesn’t yell to the world when she gets a paper cut”.

Cordelia said nothing and carefully kept her face expressionless – hiding the hurt of unexpectedly finding herself confronted with her past and how others had viewed her – before she’d come to LA and met up with Angel, to start the first Agency.

Giles shrugged and looked away, sighing deeply, “I apologise, Cordelia that was uncalled for – I really am just worried about Buffy”. He could hardly meet her eyes; there was something in those hazel depths – some kind of darkness or painful memory.

Whatever it was it made her look older than her years, as if she had seen too much and it shamed him, because he knew that look from Buffy’s eyes too; he realised then, too late to take it back, that he hardly knew this Cordelia Chase.

Cordelia walked away from him, going around the counter to reach her desk – she still used her old one mostly, feeling weird sitting in Angel’s old office. Looking over the counter that now separated then, she measured her words carefully, something that Giles would never have believed her capable of before.

“Look, Giles I’m not trying to be rude here and its not that I don’t sympathise – well OK maybe I don’t cos – Hello, not exactly in the loop on Buffy these days. Whatever, I don’t have time to get into this – I need to find out what has happened to the people I love like family, clear”?

Giles was smiling at her now, impressed despite himself at the obvious passion she felt, “Oh absolutely clear, can I help”?

“Sure”, Cordy waited a few beats watching his expression and checking his sincerity, which was clearly real; “Come on Giles, we need to go play dress-up”. Before he had a chance to ask for an explanation she’d grabbed him by the arm and dragged him upright, “Did you bring a suit or maybe a jacket to go with those pants”.

“Hmmm – erm well, let me see I think I brought a jacket just in case, but” he stopped and stared at her, “Please unhand me and tell me why I need a jacket in this heat”.

“Whatever happened to the stuffy Librarian that always wore a jacket no matter how hot it was”? Complained Cordelia as she half dragged him over towards the stairs and his carpet bag. “He got sick of sweating, now answer the question” replied Giles in that, oh so dry English way of his.

Cordelia bounded up the stairs to grab his bag, throwing the words over her shoulder, “We can’t just walk in the door and expect to find out what we want to know – even if Angel is ‘boss’ they’re still evil at the core”.

She handed a still confused Giles his bag, “It’s simple and I’ve done it loads of times before – we go disguised and find out what we want to know then we leave OK”.

Giles recovered from the idea of ‘going in disguise’ enough to point out, “But why do you need me, won’t they get more suspicious of a stranger” he asked Cordy’s rapidly disappearing back view.

“Duh – why do you think I need a disguise, they’d get rid of me in a second if they could, that’s why I need you. You’re part of my props”.

WOLFRAM & HART BUILDING

Lorne was walking towards the bank of elevators in the lobby when he found himself staring in utter shocked surprise at one of the people inside the now closing door. “Cordelia”, he saw the woman – wearing a navy short skirted business suit, big glasses and a huge blond hairdo; raise a slim hand to her lips in a shushing gesture.

He raised his brows and looked thoughtful, ”Who in hell was the man with her and why were they sneaking around?”. Deciding to investigate he watched to see which floor the elevator would stop at and saw it go past the last authorised floor, without stopping – they were headed for Angels apartment. That had him stumped since he didn’t have the code to access it, so that left Angels office as a good bet for the next stop.

“I still don’t understand why the disguises Cordelia – won’t they know you’re here anyway if they are so ‘all seeing’ as you say they are”? Asked Giles in an exasperated tone.

Cordy refrained from mentioning Lorne, trusting the green demon to keep quiet; “What – you think they might have a Cordy/Librarian alarm – I don’t think so and don’t say my name, they have ‘all hearing ears’ as well”, she hissed at him and then carried on in her best cajoling speech, “Have you never heard ‘he who dares wins’ -get a grip Giles”.

“Harrrmphh” snorted Giles more than a little peeved, “Why the blonde wig, it’s bloody distracting and a bit obvious isn’t it”?

“Do you think so” Asked Cordelia sweetly, “I thought you’d appreciate the familiarity of the dumb blonde look”. Giles gave her a filthy look but said nothing else, waiting for the elevator to deposit them at their destination.

ANGEL & WESLEY

“Where the hell are we, do you know”? Asked Angel; going to the curtain to check for eavesdroppers, before turning back and giving Wesley a questioning look.

“Other than a hell – or so I’m told, no idea I’m afraid” answered Wesley in a no nonsense tone, wincing internally though at having got them caught in yet another unknown demon dimension. I’m getting as bad as Cordelia

“Yeah well you got that right; you should see what I did when I got here. Humans cut up like cattle and hanging from the ceiling waiting to be eaten”.

“Hmm nasty – not exactly encouraging either” replied Wesley, not that he wasn’t disgusted but sometimes a hard edge was necessary to survive, this was one of those times. “What was it you were saying about ‘entertainment’ – you have you’re clown suit with you”?

Angel frowned darkly at the humour, but was oddly relaxed by it too, typical Wes. “Ha Ha, very funny – how about you wear one and kill ‘em with your rapier wit” he replied sardonically. He resumed his earlier position with a hip cocked on the ‘rooms’ only piece of furniture. “Remember a while ago, those two brothers running a demon fighting ring”?

“You’ve got to be kidding me” said Wesley, catching on immediately, “not again”.

“Tell me about it” sighed Angel and scrubbed his face with his hands, trying to clear the smoke and grit from his suddenly tired eyes.

“Times up my friends, it’s time to prepare yourselves” announced Drachnar from the doorway, pulling back the curtain and smiling grimly at them.

“Prepare ourselves for what”? Wesley asked, envisioning a big cooking pot. Angel didn’t look at him though, just stared at the demon in the doorway with a hardened expression all tiredness forgotten as renewed adrenaline poured through him, taut silence filled the room.

“That’s a good question so why don’t you answer the man, Drachnar”? His reaction to the question would depend on what the answer was.

“You both go into the pit to fight together” replied the demon genially but there was a glint in those obsidian eyes that showed another feeling altogether. “It should be amusing to watch you defend yourself and your friend at the same time – if you want too that is”

“Oh I don’t know; he’s pretty nifty at defending himself” replied Angel with a small smile, which was true but he had a horrible feeling that things would be different here. For one thing, there was the ‘trapped like rats in cage’ part of the deal to consider.

“Not here he won’t, no one survives the pit and certainly not a mere human” replied the demon with certainty. “We’ll see” snarled Angel, clenching his jaw and forcibly stopping the demon that wanted out; not YET! He hated to give this bastard something to gloat over and vamping out would give away a lot about his state of mind.

He glared at it with dark eyes narrowed to slits of unadulterated menace, “Will you be joining us”? To any one else it would sound like he was inviting the demon to tea party or something, the tone was so polite. Drachnar stared back at him, and smiled; a tiny acknowledgement of the battle Angel had fought within himself.

“Not this time I’m afraid but in the highly unlikely event of you surviving the first bout, maybe” replied Drachnar, confidence oozed out of the big demon and his eyes gleamed manically at the thought of the blood that would be shed.

“That’s a good enough reason to survive all by itself” replied Angel quietly and concisely; even if he never saw another day – this bastard was going to die.

Wesley simply stood back and watched the by-play between the demon and the vampire with interest, so they were to fight for their lives – what else was new. He refused to let himself dwell on the possibilities – what good would fretting do, at least he wasn’t pot roast.

THE PIT

The pit was a dirty stinking hole in the ground, lined with stones and at least twenty feet deep. Angel knew he could jump it easily but not while holding onto Wesley – at least he didn’t think so, but he’d keep it as a last option if nothing else.

Crowds of demons, most of them masked sat in stone tiered benches surrounding the ring and what a crowd they were, dirty, coarse and if he was any judge – high on the thrill of the coming violence. They where all inside yet another large cavernous cave, dark and damp and lit with the usual torches; including high up inside the pit itself.

Don’t want the audience to miss the fun now do we, like hell, but it didn’t look like he had a choice, again; at least this time he would be perfectly willing to kill his opponents.

On the right side was a platform of some kind, made from wood with three huge chairs built into it – for the local dignitaries thought Wesley, too exalted for the cold stone like the rest.

All of sudden there was a commotion and both tensed at the wild clapping and stamping of feet; “Looks like the funs about to start” Said Angel keeping his eyes trained on the rim of the pit, trying to gauge from where the threat would appear.

“Looks like” agreed Wesley also keeping a careful watch; they stood back to back waiting for whatever was going to happen next, tense and primed for the violence to commence. Both of them tall and dark-haired, covered in grime and dirt – the vampire was much bigger and heavier and yet – somehow, both seemed the same as they faced the danger together.

What looked like some kind of mini procession walked around the pit, seven unmasked demons, all the same with their flat noses, slittish lips and black eyes, ringed by ridged brows and spiky tines. Three of the group sat down in the wooden chairs and gestured to the other four – heavily armed demons.

“They’re armed and were not – hardly fair” intoned Wesley to Angel who looked around to him and nodded briefly in agreement. Just then all four demons jumped into the pit with them; landing on legs like the trunks of young trees. They steadied themselves almost the instant they landed and then tossed the weapons between themselves and Angel and Wesley.

Then bending at their thick waists and clenching meaty fists they roared at the pair. Simultaneously both Angel and Wesley raised a brow and then looked at one another, “I’ll let you growl back – you’re so much better at it than I” Wesley told the vampire ironically.

The crowd went wild again, obviously more impressed than they were and clapping and stamping their feet. Strange to hear when they had no voice for the most part and the remaining three up there without the masks, remained stoic throughout the display.

“Gee thanks, I’ll pass” replied Angel gathering himself to launch at the weapons, all six combatants exploded into action in the same instant almost as if a gun had gone off.

Angel reached a sword at the same time as one of the demons and quicker on his feet, booted it on the face and snatched up the long weapon he was the most comfortable with. Wesley knowing he would need something heavier went for an axe with a long wooden handle and wickedly curved polished blade.

Both successfully armed they faced of the demons again, back to back as before. Watching intently the circling demons, two armed as they were, the difference being instead of an axe, one held a three pronged spear. Wesley winced when he saw it, for some reason it gave him a chill and he wished to hell that had been the closer one to him, instead of the axe.

Angel and the other sword wielder clashed with flashing blades and rings of steel, while Wesley blocked the darting spear with the axe. Angel parried the sword of his opponent and after a few minutes was forced to the conclusion that Drachnar had not been bragging about their skills, he was keeping up – just.

Worried now, he risked a quick glance at Wesley to see how he was faring and saw he was struggling against the longer reach of the spear. ”Dammit, I need to finish this one now, or Wesley’s a pin cushion”.

His gaze snapped back to the demon he was fighting, seeing the other two circling them, waiting for an opportunity to strike but patient and not risking injury unless a guard was dropped. Sneaky, but in-experienced, if he was them he would attack as a team, lucky for him they weren’t trained in teamwork.

He picked up the pace – hacking and slashing at both head and torso and then using both hands to grip the hilt, he drew back one elbow and shoulder so that the sword was poised to strike and backed away, waiting for an opportunity of his own. The demon followed him, wary but excited at the prospect that Angel was finally retreating, perhaps even tiring. ”In your dreams”, that was it he was close enough – he lunged straight towards the demons unprotected neck; the demon saw it and brought up his own sword but was too close to parry, so it blocked with the blade flat out and angled down.

”Just what he wanted”, Quicker than the eye could see Angel changed the angle and depth of the sword with a flick of his left wrist and by releasing the grip of his right hand; stepping back so that he stood sideways to it and confusing the demon with the move. The sword slipped past the protectively held blade and sank into its chest, just below where the breast bone would be on a human.

Angel immediately pulled the bloodied sword free and even as it sank to the floor, raised it again in his right hand now and swiftly decapitated it. The head came clean off, ”good sword” and rolled to rest by the stone wall of the pit.

Wesley meanwhile was tiring fast, like Angel he too had noticed the scavengers waiting for him to fall and was bloody well determined not too, if he could help it. The axe felt like a lead weight by now, but so far he’d managed to avoid the prongs. He dodged the next lunge and was struck by a surge of rage, renewed energy ran through his veins and his blood pumped hard through his body.

He kicked the spear to the side and trapped it with the axe by the curved head of the prongs, lashing out with his other foot, he connected with a thud on that meaty face, it staggered only a little before righting itself, ”Fat prick”.

Before it could yank the spear free, Wesley slammed the axe in an upward swing, meeting the demons neck and cutting through skin and bone. That’s more like it. But despite the win he knew he was not likely to survive this and watched almost with detachment as the spear was taken up by one of the other, fresher demons.

The burst of adrenaline was fading and feeling a little like a drunk he swung his heavy, aching head around to see Angel in the middle of a fight with the last of the other two, [/I]Two kills to the vampire, no doubt[/I], he smiled grimly and heaved himself straight, meeting the charge of his latest and likely last challenger.

As far as Angel could tell, these guys must be trained by the same swordsmen – were none of them frickin’ easy to kill. He’d miscalculated in leaving the axe for Wes, not thinking about the weight of it during a long fight, he chanced another glance and winced, nearly getting his arm sliced through in the process.

Giving his attention back to the fight, he vamped out and snarled, baring his fangs and then charged the momentarily disconcerted demon. He hacked at the blade that was still raised in a huge fist, knocking it aside with his own but not stopping or reducing speed, until he head butted it on the face; he felt the sting of the tines on his ridged forehead but used the pain to fuel his demonic hunger for more.

The force of the unexpected blow drove it back despite it’s size and bulk, the sword fell back and to one side and Angel kicked it out of it’s hand and then raised his own; the blade stabbing down into it’s gut. Then he dropped to a crouch and twisted his wrist up, turning and driving the impaling blade upwards while still inside, slicing through intestine like butter.

Without waiting to watch the final death throes he whirled around to see to Wesley, his topaz eyes widened when he saw the man he thought of as a friend was on his knees, the axe barely still held up and both arms dripping with blood, even his face was spattered with it and more oozed out of a gash on his neck. The demon stood back with and with a horrible grimacing grin swung the spear from side to side, gathering speed to swipe it over the now defenceless human. The sharp prongs would rip through everything in its path if it caught him, killing him.

Without really thinking Angel launched himself; hoping against hope to get between the man and demon in time. Wesley saw out of the corner of his eye, the dark shadow that was Angel, streaking towards them and in a split second of clarity he knew what would happen, “Nooo, don’t be a fool” He tried to yell it to be heard over the noise of the wild and crazed crowd.

His voice was hoarse and that only made what happened next even more surreal, he watched in horror as, almost in slow motion, Angel came between him and the spear, his black clad body met the ripping prongs and he jerked in mid-air as if stung. He landed with a thud on the dirt floor, lying on his side with one hand thrown towards Wesley.

Wesley watched the hand willing it to move, looking for signs of life and then saw a dark patch of liquid, spread to touch the still fingers from underneath Angel’s side. The demon threw back its head and roared, raising its arms in victory to incite the crowd into a bigger frenzy.

Wesley glared at it with bloodshot eyes, face pale and streaked with his own blood; he struggled up and grasping the hilt from underneath Angel’s prone body, dragged and hefted it up. The demon sensed the movement and turned to face him; Wesley stabbed the sword up through its chin and smiled in intense savage satisfaction as he saw the blood pour from both mouth and nose.

The crowd went quiet and Wesley staggered and fell back to his knees, then to the floor on his side – the two figures making a figure ‘T’ on the dirty, blood drenched floor of the pit.
PART 4

THE PIT (Where we left off)

The pain had been beyond incredible, impossible even. So much so that it’d crowded everything else out until finally, blessedly cancelling itself out as well. Then he felt nothing for a while. Until suddenly it was back, sharp and searing. His eyes were shut but he still saw the red haze of pain – like blood.

“Kick him again”, said Drachnar to the heavily muscled guard. A heavy foot thudded into the fallen vampire again, aimed straight at the vicious wounds on the chest and body. Nothing – no response this time, not even a moan of pain.

Angel felt it, but he was too far gone for it to reach him properly. He floated in and out of awareness – even vampires can let go and just float away when the body became unbearable to be inside. That’s what happened here. He heard voices but only snatches – sounding as if they were underwater and almost impossible to understand.

“Put them back ……. in ……… her ……… survive ………… next ……. round”, there was laughter and then a single last word that filtered into his head, “…hours”.

Angel and Wesley were dragged up from the pit by their arms. Drachnar watched as the rope was tied to their wrists so that their bodies, unconscious not dead, could be hauled up the stone walls.

He turned to one of guards still down in the pit with him, “maybe he’ll eat her”. He smiled grimly at the thought and then grasping one of the ropes tossed down; climbed up the wall, fast and agile despite his weight and bulk.

WOLFRAM & HART

“Well it appears we’ve found out exactly – nothing”. Said Giles resignedly; giving up trying to help. He stood out of the way and watched Cordelia as she flipping though papers and looked under books – frantically searching for a clue on where the vampire had gone.

“Well, other than the fact that by the looks of things, Angel has done well for himself”. He continued, mildly envious of the spacious apartment and lovely old antiques.

Cordelia didn’t seem to hear him, still busy rummaging around. However after a few seconds she surprised him by agreeing in a calm tone. A façade totally ruined when she threw up her hands, “This is do damn typical of Angel – GOD!, I could scream sometimes”. The volume of her frustrated voice gave some credit to that threat.

“Me, I get yelled at and threatened with house arrest if I cause him the slightest teeny tiny bit of worry. But it’s OK for him to do it to me? NOT”. By the time she was finished ranting she was breathing deeply and her eyes were narrowed to angry sparkling slits in her flushed face.

She seemed to forget the Englishman was even there as she stormed over to another set of elevator doors. Smaller and more discreet than the one they’d used to come up in. She punched the button to call it hard enough to break a slim finger causing Giles to flinch and eye her stormy face warily.

As the doors of the elevator opened with a muted ping, she whipped around and pointed a finger at him. “When I find him, I’m gonna kick his ass and see how he likes it, Asshole”. Giles raised a brow at that rather surprising statement, but forbore to comment.

If there was one thing he’d learned over the last ‘far too many’ years watching over temperamental females, was never contradict them when they were in total indignation mode. He especially had no intention of letting it slip that right at that moment he greatly sympathized with the missing vampire.

She was still silently simmering when they stepped out into Angel’s office. A gentleman at heart, Giles had automatically stepped back to let Cordy out first and so when she halted in her tracks, after barely clearing the door; he almost ploughed into her back.

“Hey there Sugarplum, come and join me for a drink. I just love Angel’s drinks cabinet. I have no idea why but it always makes me thirsty”.

Since he couldn’t see over the blonde wig from behind her, Giles stepped around the motionless Cordelia. Only to stiffen in shock when his eyes lit on a brightly coloured demon, happily lounging back in a big leather chair and nursing some kind of exotic cocktail.

“And just who the devil are you”? Giles demanded, moving to stand just a little in front of Cordelia, but enough for the demon to realize the woman wasn’t alone and defenceless. Lorne’s eyes widened as he took in the threatening stranger, protecting Cordelia? From him? He almost felt complimented but then remembered that wasn’t his forte, he left the art of intimidation to a certain vampire that shall remain nameless.

“I’m Lorne, Host with the Most– or at least I was. Now head of Entertainment and you are?” Asked Lorne genially his red eyes gleaming with interest and a small smile tilting his lips.

“This is Rupert Giles, ex-watcher from Sunnydale. Say Hi to the nice demon, Giles it’s OK, He’s a friend”. She arched a look at the still defensive man beside her who frowned darkly at her sudden humour. A rapid change in mood to say the least, he thought disgruntled.

“You know this creature?” He asked her incredulously and then recovered enough to toss a frown at Lorne, and a quick apology “Sorry– it’s just … a surprise”.

“Don’t worry about it Handsome. I get it all the time – must be my stunning good looks that makes ‘em jealous”. He gave Giles a saucy wink and then chuckled at the expression on the Englishman’s face. “You’ll get used to me” he advised cheerfully and raised the glass in a salute.

Do I have too? Thought Giles but managed to keep that comment between his teeth. Who was he to judge people for having demon friends after all?

Then there was the fact that Angel was boss here in LA. That in itself was hard for him to picture; his memories of Angel consisted of a brooding, shadowy creature taking directions from the slayer but otherwise, solitary and silent– not precisely leader material.

Cordelia sat down in the chair next to the demon, an earnest look on her beautiful face. “Lorne, I need you to tell me what you know about where Angel and Wesley have gone”.

“Gone, but sweetcheeks, I thought Angel was with you, and please what’s with the blonde wig”? He was giving her a quizzical look that expressed his lack of admiration for the blonde confection still clinging to her head and covering those gorgeously glossy, brunette locks.

Self-consciously she patted the wig and then frowned at him, “Forget the wig, Angel and Wes are missing and we need to find them”. She sat back in the chair, raising the hem of the skirt even further and causing Giles to uncomfortably avert his eyes from the long shapely limbs displayed by the short skirt.

“I have a bad feeling about this Lorne and I hate having bad feelings, cos hey– worry lines”. She flicked a hand at her face to emphasise the point and Giles couldn’t prevent his eyes looking heavenwards as if praying for guidance from on high.

“Oh and don’t we all Honey. Tell you what, why don’t you sing a tune for me– might save me some time and you some extra wrinkles”.

He smiled when she gave him a dirty look. Then turning to Giles he said cheerfully, “Feel free to cover your ears, tuneful she isn’t– just wish I could do the same”.

“Owww” Lorne rubbed the throbbing part of his arm that she’d punched with venom.

“I can sing, I just don’t have time for – you know, warming up and stuff” said Cordelia; defending herself and glaring at her friend and then Giles too – just in case he decided to join in and gang up on her.

Giles held up a hand to halt the byplay, “Can we just get on with it; otherwise we’ll be here all day, discussing the merits of your singing abilities or lack of them”. He was starting to get a headache and remembering Cordelia’s singing from High school, wanted it over and done with as quickly as possible.

“What does singing have to do with it anyway”? Asked Giles, confused and irritated by the turn things were taking, he walked over to the desk and perched a hip on it.

“He’s anagogic – I sing and he looks into my soul and sees what’s what in my life”. Cordelia informed him absently all the while running through songs in her mind, discarding one after another and successfully hiding a mental cringe about having to do this.

Angel you are in such big trouble – this is gonna deserve a ‘big, no expense spared and no complaining’ shopping spree.

Giles looked at Lorne with renewed interest while he digested the news about his abilities, “Really”? Then he looked confused again. “How will that help us find Angel and Wesley? We already know were Cordelia is”.

“The amount of time Angel and the Princess here spend wrapped around one another like the proverbial yin and yang. I’m only surprised they haven’t melted into a puddle of mutual lust. This’ll work – trust me”.

Cordelia took a deep breath, as did Lorne and Giles when they realised she was ready. Then steeling herself, she launched into a song that she secretly loved and listened to obsessively, when Angel wasn’t around of course.

“When you cried i’d wipe away all of your tears”

Giles watched intently as Lorne stared into Cordelia’s face. The red eyes of the demon entirely focused on the young woman. He saw the glass the demon was holding, tilt and the liquid inside pour out onto his bright blue suit pants; but Lorne didn’t notice, glued to something now flashing before his horrified inner eye.

“When you’d scream I’d fight away all of your fears”

A bright light, jagged rips in reality and a feeling of being cage. Masked monsters and stone slabs dripping with blood and entrails

“And I’ve held your hand through all of these years”

A dark pit lined with stones. Wesley falling, fighting and death, sharp prongs and finally a ripping pain followed by a red haze.

“But you still have all of me”

A dark pitiless room, more pain only from someone new and then feeding, blood filling and surging, bringing….

Lorne jerked back so hard he toppled the chair backwards. It righted itself before it hit the floor but Lorne slid off it and onto the carpet. He sat slumped with his back to the chair. His eyes were open but glazed and unfocused and he wasn’t moving so much as a muscle.

Cordelia stopped singing and leapt up to join Giles now kneeling beside Lorne. She grabbing the demons hand and squeezed hard, trying to bring him round, desperate to know what it was that he’d seen. Giles looked at her and raised a brow, a worried look on his questioning face. She shook her head not wanting to get into explanations of what was ‘normal’ – HAH, when did normal ever apply to them.

“Lorne, can you hear me. C’mon a little sight seeing tour and you’re all zombified – it won’t wash with ex-vision-girl”. She tried to make a joke of it but she was seriously worried now. This did not look good – not good at all.

Lorne choked and came back to life. He tried to get up but didn’t have the strength or co-ordination so fell back again. His eyes searched for and then latched onto Cordelia’s. Her heart sank into the pit of her belly when she saw his distraught expression.

Lorne told her swallowed hard and fought back the feeling of despair that threatened to make him weep like a baby. “It’s too late, they’re done for”

“That’s bullshit” said Cordelia after a shocked silence. Then leaping up she towered over the demon with eyes blazing, shouting at him. “Don’t tell me that, Lorne – don’t you ever say that. There is always hope”. She grabbed him by his shirtfront to haul him back in the chair, helped by a stunned Giles.

She was almost in the demon’s lap with her hands on either side of the armrest and leaning in to say, “Now tell me everything you saw – everything”. He gulped at the fire in her eyes and told her what he could remember.

Afterwards the three of them went silent, appalled at what they’d heard about the hellish place that Angel and Wesley were trapped in. Cordelia was pacing backwards and forwards, whirling around and almost wringing her hands in agitation.

Every part of her body felt as if it was hurting and she couldn’t possibly sit down or she’d go mad. Lorne’s description of them being only just alive, reverberating around her head.

“You have no idea what caused the change from normal glimpse to ‘all out vision’? She asked him. Not stopping her pacing except to throw a desperate glance at Lorne, needing to understand.

“Something took me over” and Lorne was still recovering from the shock of that too. “I could feel it hone in on me and then – whammo it was like a big screen surround sound with visual effects, the whole works”.

Just saying it out loud made him feel it again, the sheer tunnelled focus of it and then the feeling of being zeroed in on. “After that I saw what it wanted me to see”. He looked at Giles, who was watching Cordelia with a distant look on his weather-beaten face.

Even with her arms hugging her body tightly, Giles saw the fine trembling in Cordelia’s tightly held body and wished he could say something to make her relax. This was a side to Cordelia that he had never seen before and quite frankly it amazed him; so much for the self-absorbed prom queen image.

Cordelia stopped pacing and turned to face the two men. “I won’t lose him or Wesley and that’s final”. With her hands fisted at her sides and face filled with resolve, she continued. “I don’t care what it takes – I’m going in there and getting them both out”.

“I realise its dangerous and that I’m asking a lot but if I want to win this – well, I can’t do it alone”. Dammit, she could feel her eyes start to water and squeezed them shut. Hating the loss of control at a time when she needed it the most. Before the green demon could scramble up to go to her, Giles strode over and took her hands in his callused ones.

“Of course you’ll get him back, both of them and there’s no question that I’ll help you”. Giles sighed and wished he was better at saying just the right thing. “At least we know where they are now and have a good idea how to get there”. Awkwardly he patted her shoulder, wishing he was less reserved and able to just hug her.

Lorne had no such inhibitions and joined them. His red eyes filled with determination. He wrapped both arms around her in a big hug. “Make that two of us, Princess. I’ll just pretend I’m Clint – riding into hell to save the day OK”.

Cordelia gave a watery smile at the image of Lorne wearing leather chaps and a cowboy hat, just like he’d intended her too. She hugged him back and smiled at Giles to reassure them both that she was done with the emotional stuff for now.

“You’re absolutely certain that we can’t use anyone from here”. Giles asked Lorne. “It would be terribly useful to have some reinforcements”.

Lorne shrugged “All I know is that someone from here started this whole thing but the problem is I don’t know who. So who do we trust”?

“Angel’s had spats and fights with most of departments heads involved in the demon underworld and the way he works; you know that means enemies”. Agreed Cordelia; all business again.

“No, we can only trust ourselves and maybe Gunn and Fred – do you know where they are”? She asked Lorne.

“Well I know the legal beagle’s outta town with a client. But Fred’s downstairs in the lab, shall I go fetch”? Cordy nodded and made shooing motions with her hands.

“Hurry back with her but don’t say why until were all safely upstairs. Then we’ll get suited and booted”, She watched Lorne leave the room and then turned to meet Giles’s questioning look.

“Suited and booted”? He asked.

“Sure, Angel has a whole room filled with every weapon imaginable. It’s a homicidal maniacs Disneyland up there”. Giles smiled at her quippy tone “I’ll tell him you said that”.

“Don’t bother – I already did”.

LOCKED UP

Wesley woke up and then blinked to make sure his eyes were actually open. Again he saw nothing but blackness and that disoriented him even more. He felt a movement by his leg and reached out a hand.

His fingers touched cold leather, so he pushed slightly and was rewarded with a groan. He pushed harder when realising it was Angel’s arm.

“Stop, that frickin’ hurts” grumbled Angel and moved his arm back and away. His chest, and all the way down to his navel felt like it was on fire. If he’d had the strength he could have thumped Wesley for waking him further, he’d been enjoying a fantasy of being far away from here and wherever Cordelia was. Thanks, Wes.

Angel heard a rustle from Wesley as the man tried to sit up. Then he heard hissing noises as Wesley gritting his teeth to ignore the pain from his own wounds. He admired him for trying to move. There was no chance he was doing likewise; he’d had enough of pain for the time being.

“How deep are the wounds”? Asked Wesley from the blackness that even his vampire eyes couldn’t penetrate.

“Dunno” replied Angel after a few moments of appearing to thinking about it.

Wesley seriously didn’t like the slurring of Angel’s voice and worried even more now, he made his way over to investigate. His fingers touched sticky blood and felt the wounds weep further. Angel grabbed his hand and growled in anger at the fresh surge of agony.

“What the fuck are you trying to do, Wes”?

“Find out how badly off you really are” was the terse response. Wesley tugged his hand free and sat back. “You’re still bleeding, shouldn’t that have stopped by now”?

“Yeah, maybe – but those damn spikes nearly sliced me in two, so it’s gonna take a while”. Angel didn’t mention the fact that he’d lost a lot of blood, too much of it. His face was no longer human; having changed the moment he’d come too and smelled Wesley’s blood. That information wouldn’t go down well and he knew it, so he kept silent.

“What happens next do you know”? Asked Wesley after a few minutes of silence as both mulled over their current predicament. Although he could guess, he preferred not to as in his current condition, he knew they were both dead if he was right.

“From what Drachnar said, we fight again. As for when – a few hours is my guess” said Angel from his prone position on the damp floor. Wesley cursed, he’d been right after all. “We won’t survive another round. Not even you in the condition you’re in”.

“No” answered Angel simply – what could he say it was the truth. He was in no condition to fight anyone and wouldn’t be for some time, certainly a lot longer than a few hours.

Angel licked his dry lips, God he was starving, hunger crawled up inside him and he shifted restlessly. “Wesley, move back” he demanded harshly surprising the other man.

“Why” asked Wesley but shifting further way anyway, curious at what had caused the harsh tone in the vampire’s voice.

“I lost a lot of blood”. Angel admitted and grunting in pain managed to sit up enough to move further away himself. Wesley stayed silent for a whole, pondering. Angel would swear he could actually hear the wheels turning and he stiffened when a thought hit him.

“Don’t even say it – not one fucking word” said Angel and each word was growled out in rage. Wesley sighed and laid his head back against the dirty wall. “What good does both of us dying serve”?

“I came here to save your life, not take it. Now shut the HELL up ”.

Put like that, Wesley decided to shut up. It was all very to think about nobly sacrificing yourself for your friends but without any guarantee of success anyway – it was pretty bloody pointless.

“Sorry for getting you into this mess” he offered as he tried to make himself more comfortable for the wait. He stiffened up again when he heard another growl.

“Let’s not bring that up either or I might change my mind. What the hell were you thinking about, going in alone like that”?

Wesley winced and tried to muster a defence but got distracted by a weird shape forming in the far corner. At least he thought it was a corner, he blinked his eyes and stared. He could actually see some definition over there.

Angel saw it too out of the corner of his eyes and turned his head to it. Topaz eyes glinting now in the darkness as the growing light reflected from them. “What is that do you know”?

“I have no idea” replied Wesley. Both of them kept their eyes firmly trained on the now glowing corner, as an outline started to become visible. “There’s a bundle of something directly underneath. Or am I seeing things”? He asked the vampire.

“No I see it to, it looks like a body” said Angel. Wesley tossed him a frowning look. “How come you didn’t smell it then”?

“What am I a blood hound? Gimme a break, there’s a lot of blood between here and over there”. Angel snapped back and then winced as the movement of his chest pulled at the wounds.

“Sorry” said Wesley absently as finally the shape emerged fully. The glowing figure was definitely female and was crouched over the body. Both of them stiffened, wondering what was going to happen next.

“Hello again, Angel” said the figure.

Great it’s Casper the Friendly Ghost – where’s Dennis when you need him, “Er, Hi, do I know you”? Asked Angel meeting Wesley’s perplexed look with one of his own and shrugging his shoulders, gasping again at the pain. Don’t frickin’ move, Asshole.

Wesley did a double take when he saw Angel was in full fang face – knowing he only did that when he was either getting ready for a fight or simply overwrought.

“We never actually met”. Said the figure. The face was clear as day and yet while definitely that of a woman; was too indistinct to tell individual features and it was the same with the body. “You knew me by the name of Cathy”.

Wesley’s face registered shock at the news, he looked at Angel who nodded towards the body. Wesley crawled towards it, watching the glowing figure warily. He reached the dirty bundle of rags that covered it and reached out to what he assumed where the shoulders. Just before he turned them towards him he looked up at the face close to him. “Do you mind”? He asked politely.

“Go ahead, Wesley. But its not a pretty sight”.

Even forewarned Wesley flinched at the sight that met his eyes. The features of the woman who had befriended Cordelia were only just barely recognisable. “I did warn you” she said and then looked down at her physical form sadly.

“Every time I manage to heal myself, they come back and mangle me up again. That’s why they keep me around – pretty crappy really”.

Understatement, thought Angel but just looked at the face of the woman. “So what are you”? He asked indicating her less substantial self. “Soul or something”?

“Something like that – but lets not worry about that OK. I have a proposition for helping you and maybe in return you can get me out too”.

“We’d love too”. Wesley said carefully, trying not to be rude. “But if you can’t help yourself how can you possibly help us”?

“Angel needs blood to heal and get strong again. Only he can’t take yours, Wesley or risk killing you. But there’s plenty in there and I can’t get much more damaged than I already am”. She indicated her body and watched Angel’s face.

Angel winced and shook his head, she grinned at him, “Not too appetising huh”?

“Its not that really”, or maybe a bit that. He shook his head again and leaned back to shut his eyes. “I don’t drink human blood”. No matter how hungry I am he told his desperately starving self, ignoring the growing, gnawing ache.

“I’m not human or at least not just human. Nor am I demon and believe me my blood can heal you faster than anything else you ever dreamed of. Not to mention giving you a hell of kick”. She cajoled him.

He cracked open his eyes as she approached him and shook his head from side to side vehemently. “I’m not drinking your blood”. Cathy smiled a little at that incongruous statement coming from a vampire in full fang face.

“Why not, Angel. I don’t need it at the moment and besides, a vampire bite is nothing compared to other things that have happened to me and some of those very recently too”.

She looked over to Wesley as if appealing for his help in convincing Angel to drain her blood. Wesley looked down at the body by his feet and feeling slightly sick, picked it up in his arms. Even as weak as he was just then, he didn’t struggle under the slight weight.

Now that the body was closer to him, Angel could smell the blood under the skin and he growled low in his throat, glaring at Wesley with as much fury as he could muster. “Get that thing the hell away from me, Wes. NOW”

“Angel, please think about it. If you don’t drink my blood, you and Wesley and hundred of others will die and this place will continue. Is that what you want”?

Wesley dropped stiffly to his knees beside the vampire and spirit, laying the body carefully on the floor. He looked into the face of the vampire he considered his friend and a part of his adopted family and said, “I think you should do it – she’s right, it’s the only way”.

“Think of it as a gift, Angel. I give it to you freely and in return you may be able to save me from the possibility of an eternity of torture. Believe me when I tell you – bite away”.

After a moment Angel sighed and gave in – he held out his arms. “Bring her here”. Wesley complied, feeling weird and almost light headed about literally dropping Angels dinner in his lap. Ignoring his protesting chest, Angel sat up and arranged the body to give him access to the neck.

“Do you mind not watching”. He said to them; uncomfortable with an audience and they both turned away so that their backs were to him.

Angel turned the head gently and avoided looking at his ‘victims’ face. Mangled or not the features were still human and he did his best to ignore the part of him that wanted to celebrate in that fact. His fangs sank into the skin and closed his eyes at the sweet coppery of taste of blood – filling him and surging down his parched throat.

Wesley heard the sounds of the vampire feeding and managed not to throw up. When it stopped he turned around to find Angel had already laid the body on the floor, straight and covered again. He was about to ask how he felt then, when Angel stiffened and his head jerked back. His thick neck bowed and features scrunched up as if in agony.

“What the hell is going on”? He yelled at Cathy and caught the heavy body of the flailing vampire. Yelling “Ouch”, when the hand he put behind the dark head to protect it, was crushed against the wall.

“He’ll be OK soon, I told you my blood isn’t human but he should be fine” said Cathy standing out the away and giving him room, even though she was nothing more than air in reality.

Wesley stretched Angel out as best he could and sat back waiting for the spasms to subside. When Cathy knelt by Angel’s thrashing head, he went to push her away but his hand passed right through. “Should be” he snarled, “you never mentioned ‘should be’ before he drank – did you”?

“Well I’m sorry, Wesley but this is a first for me too. I’m not normally around for the after effects ya know”. They both gave a silent sigh of relief when the vampire went still. Helplessly Wesley watched as Cathy set a hand on either side of Angel’s head – by the ears.

“Now what the devil are you doing”? He asked her; frustrated at not being able to prevent her from doing whatever she wanted.

“The last gift I can give is knowledge. These creatures have made it their life’s work to fight, kill and maim and each generation has passed that knowledge on over thousands of years”.

“The ones you faced where just babies really, still in training. The next ones won’t be and so I’m just evening the score a little. Being psychic and stuck here a while, I sort of soaked up that knowledge and now I’m passing it onto him”.

“Handy little trick” said Wesley still glowering at her. “You’re just full of them aren’t you. Remind me to finish my research on you when I get back”.

Cathy just looked at him with a carefully blank expression and continued. “Angel will know what they know – but will still be heavily outnumbered. So I’m banking on his temper to make sure he gives out more than he gets”.

The sudden and savage growling coming from the vampire in question had them both warily backing away. “Angel”? Realising his voice was croaking Wesley cleared it and tried again. “Angel, how do you feel”?

“I’ll give you three guesses” came the gravelly reply from floor level.

WOLFRAM & HART

Giles stood staring in wonder at the array of swords, axes, cudgels and other medieval and modern paraphernalia of warfare. “You do realise some of these belong in a museum don’t you”, he said to no one in particular – just satisfying an inner need to say it out-loud and thus relieve his guilt.

Guilt at the sheer excitement of actually being able to use some of them. Cordelia gave him an arch look as she passed him to reach inside a now open glass cabinet to casually unhook a large crossbow and quarrels.

“You try telling that to Angel and he’s likely to take out your tongue. He loves this room”. She rolled her eyes and mouthed “psycho” to herself. Boys and toys – they were all the same.

Giles caught her expression and flushed at being caught out. “Yes well, that’s good then – lets get ‘suited and booted’ shall we”. He smiled brightly at the others and still blushing, picked out an axe for himself and helplessly fondled the antique handle.

“Hey, Giles – get a grip” Snapped Cordelia and raised yet another brow. “I knew I should have just picked yours out. We don’t have all day Okay”.

“Arghhh, I think it’s kinda cute” said Fred and gave the Englishman a big supportive smile. Plus he is kinda cute too, she thought to herself and fluttered her eyelashes at him. She was delighted when his face turned even redder.

“Easy there Tiger, I think we need to let you out of the lab a bit more – get used to company ya know” said Lorne, patting her dark head as he headed for his own choice. A heavy, metal spiked cudgel.

Fred went for the modern firearms as the older hardware was too heavy for her to use effectively. Anyway, Wesley had got her into using guns and she’d been training with him for months now. She was pretty good, even if she did say so herself.

Cordelia tucked another knife into a sheath at her waist. That meant she had three, the crossbow, a hunting knife and the shotgun – just in case. ‘Loaded for bear’ as Gunn would say she thought in satisfaction. They were as prepared as they could be.

She checked them all out; all wearing black – check, no shiny stuff to give them away – check. “Right let’s get going”.

“Yo hold up, if ya’ll think your goin’ off fightin’ without me – you’re just crazy” said a voice from behind them. They all whipped around and all but Giles relaxed when they spotted the large man in the suit.

“Gunn” chorused three of them. “Where”? Asked Giles as he scrutinised the thousand-dollar suit and neat black briefcase.

BACK IN THE CELL

Angel had taken off his coat and given it to Wesley, who draped it over the ragged bundle that covered Cathy’s limp form. Now he buttoned up Wesley’s oversize denim shirt; it was a snug fit for him but was still a great improvement over the sliced and diced black shirt he’d been wearing.

“At least this way they won’t tell that you’re healed. Element of surprise and all that” said Wesley, rubbing his chilled arms and grateful for the stained T-shirt he’d had on underneath it.

Angel just gave a grunting assent and carried on closing the buttons like his unlife depended on them being closed properly. His head was whirling and his skin was itching like crazy. Overall he felt like he was about to crawl out of his skin or just go mental, if he didn’t do something now. He was jazzed in way that he couldn’t recall ever being before – even as Angelus, and he was only just keeping himself under control, so fuck conversation.

Angel could feel Wesley watching him, assessing every move and knew he’d got the ex-watcher worried. Good, he should be worried – if he stopped to think about he’d be worried too. Blood had never affected him like that ever before. It had been like a thousand ants running through every nook and cranny inside his body. Then everything; skull, torso and even his legs had seemed to catch fire.

It had been like dying all over again and then waking up – totally pissed off and ready to kill anything that moved. He knew he was going out for the fight of his life and instead of just being resigned; the thought of it excited him – and that pissed him off even more.

Once souled he’d ended up fighting and killing more times than he could count, but never for the thrill of it – that was Angelus, not him. Only now that fine line seemed to have been erased and he had no idea if it would ever come back.

Cathy’s soul had gone back into her body and it was just the two men who heard the bolts being drawn. Angel nodded at Wesley who moved back to stand beside the woman’s body. Angel slipped down the wall to sit slumped and clutching his middle.

The guard stepped inside, alone this time and locating the vampire poked him with a boot. Angel gave a moan and shook his head weakly and then got hauled to his feet with rough hands. One of Angel’s own slipped to the side of the demon and locating a knife-sheath, slipped the blade free.

He jerked one hand up startling the guard who slammed him against the wall, just as Angel used the other to toss the knife at Wesley, who caught it in mid-air. The knife disappeared from sight within in seconds. The guard not even realising anything had happened threw the vampire towards the door.

Drachnar arrived just as he was being dragged outside. “Angel, so are ready for another bout”? He said heartily but his face was pure gleeful expectation, the black eyes taunting. Angel hung his head and remained silent, letting the demon think what he wanted. Drachnar laughed, delighted that the arrogant vampire had been cowed. He looked towards the cell.

“Your human friend won’t be going this time. We have the usual planned for him, so don’t expect to see him again”. Drachnar waited to see if that taunt would rouse a response and when it didn’t, frowned in disappointment and jerked his head to the guard to get moving.

BACK IN THE PIT

Once in the pit Angel been given a sword immediately, tossed next to his feet for him to pick up. He picked it up very slowly trying to maintain the impression that he was severely wounded, and then let it hang limply at his side.

The benches were packed with onlookers and the dignitaries, including Drachnar were already seated. It was eerily silent and he waited for the commotion to begin that would herald the arrival of his opponents. His arms trembled at the enforced inactivity and he twitched to still them.

Taking in deep breaths, he slowly blew out of his mouth. For vampires, oxygen was entirely superfluous except for speaking. But he found the movement of his dead chest soothing, usually. Not now though, the sound of air escaping his mouth echoed in his sensitive ears and under lowered brows his dark eyes flickered restlessly from side to side.

Something skittered over in the corner of the dirty pit and his eyes zeroed in on it and his body went taut. Even from the distance of over forty feet he could see the shiny back of the bug as it scuttled away. He relaxed and loosened the reflexive grip on the swords hilt.

Pandemonium was suddenly unleashed up top and he grinned, delighted shivers running down his back. About damn time, he thought and surreptitiously he moved his feet apart, balancing himself without making it obvious.

Wesley’s shirt was tight across his chest and the tug of the cloth was annoying and distracting him. He had to fight down the urge to just get rid of the damned thing, but if he wanted them to underestimate him and throw them off balance he needed to hide his lack of wounds, at least until it was too late.

Three bodies landed solidly in the pit with him and this time he didn’t tense but kept his muscles loose, he looked up from under dark brows and stared at them assessingly.

They were leaner but taller than the first three and they held their weapons with assurance that told of experience. Two swordsmen and one axe wielder, he gave a mental shrug – not caring so long as they were good.

The smell of blood, death and adrenaline came off them in waves and raised his aggression level by several notches. He breathed deep and kept it there. They followed the same ritual as before and bellowed at him, fists clenched as the crowd went wild. Unseen by them Angel smiled, bring it on.

They came for him in a single roaring charge. His head came up and his hand tightened on the hilt and whipped the blade up in front of his chest and face. Wicked dark eyes glinted with topaz fire as he vamped out and fangs elongated as he opened his mouth in a snarl of his own.

In microseconds they were only feet away, he dropped to a crouch and bunched his legs, snapping upwards and launching himself over their heads to drop gracefully behind them. They faltered and swung crazily around, shocked that the easy target had suddenly changed to mortal foe. Angel was only just getting started.

The last to complete the turn found the vampires blade thrust, two handed into it’s back, impaling it between the thick shoulder blades. It screamed and scrabbled to free itself. Angel yanked it free and ducked an axe, bringing his fists holding the hilt in a bone splitting punch on the axe wielders nose and breaking the cartilage with a scrunch.

It backed away holding its face and choking on its own bile. Angel spun to face the last, which had come around to his unprotected side. He grinned at it and they circled, both swords whipping around in their hands, the sound of steel chopping the air raising the tension.

Simultaneously both drew the swords back in a double handed grip at shoulder level, looking for an opening or sign of weakness, eyes locked. Angel reverted back to human, a mocking gesture of confidence to any demon that knew vampires.

“You gonna point that thing at me all day”? He didn’t give it a chance to reply but swung the sword to the side with one hand. The demon thrust directly forward and found its blade knocked down and away. Angel yanked his back up and sliced off a part of its jaw.

He felt movement behind him, the whoosh of a blade being raised high in the air. He stepped back quickly until he was almost within touching distance, still facing the bleeding demon he’d just cut. He thrust out the sword hilt in front of his body and then stabbed back and felt the blade sink into flesh, then twisted the hilt for good measure and heard a gargling scream.

Yanking the sword free he met the other demons charge, enraged now at having its blood spilt. Their blades met in a clash of thunderous steel. They hacked and slashed with blurring speed, back and forth and around the pit.

The swords slashed from side to side as the two combatants blocked and parried. Powerful muscles bunched when they came together, both trying to force the other onto the floor or into a wall. With teeth clenched in fierce snarls of adrenaline-induced rage, they went for the kill again and again only to be thwarted by the others skill.

Angel felt the tingles increase along his skin and a strange heat spread out from his chest, rising up into encompass his head. He shook his head to clear it and locked eyes back on the demon. That’s when the weird stuff started to happen.

Everything around him seemed to slow except for him. He saw to the minutest detail the demon take a deep lungful of air. Then almost individually he saw the muscles of its meaty arms tighten and gather, getting ready for another strike.

It raised the sword over it’s head and Angel heard its grunt and the whistle of the blade before it had even started its downward descent. To even a trained observer it would seem as if the demon was bringing it down in a stabbing motion, but he saw the glint in it’s eyes and then the slight hesitation it gave at a crucial point.

He didn’t know how he knew, but he did, it was a trick. He raised his own so that the blade ran down his side from chin to hip, blocking the sword that had been twisted to change direction mid-flight. The demon snarled and opened its mouth to show blood stained teeth and fangs.

With his free hand he punched it and then using the momentum spun around and brought the blade to neck level. Still reeling from the blow the demon tried to block, but again as if in slow motion Angel saw the move and raised his left leg, swiping the demons sword out of the way as his own sliced through its thick and unprotected neck.

Time sped back up as the head came off the shoulders and the body hit the dirt packed floor with a thud, blood pumping into the hungry foulness of the floor. Angel staggered back, disoriented by the change of speed. What the fuck is going on? He raised his free hand to touch his brow and rubbed hard. His fingers were already covered in blood and he smeared his own face with it. His nostrils flared and he growled, hungry and confused.

Movement to his right had time slowing again, he went with it – what other choice did he have. He reared back from the swing of a double-edged axe and blood splatterd the wall from the demons hand as it dripped down its back and arms from the wound he’d given it earlier.

It brought the axe up for another swing and Angel vamped out, stalking forward he caught the axe in mid-swing. With his hold he jerked the demon down and dropping the sword, punched it in the face. Again and again he jabbed and punched at its swiftly mangled face, until it could stagger back no further and its back was pressed to the grimy wall.

Its hold on the axe loosened and Angel wrenched it free and raised it high over his sweat-drenched head. Feral yellow eyes glinted in victory as he brought the axe down with all of the power of his arms and its heavy weight, hacking straight through the skull.

He was alone in the pit and surrounded by bodies and blood. Still vamped out he whirled around with his head tilted to see the crowd around him, staring down. Silent and intent. His own system was still drenched in pure unadulterated demonic frenzy, only now it was transforming into rage with no more release for its savagery.

“What, is that the best you can do”? He roared at them. “I thought you guys were so hot that you couldn’t be beaten”.

Viciously he kicked one of the fallen demons. “Well guess what. Not so fucking invincible now are they”?

No one answered him. One of the demons seated on a throne, signalled and more of the demons stood up from the front benches, slowly they started to remove their masks. Angel laughed at the sight.

“Fuck this I’ll be here all day kicking your ass. Tell you what why don’t we make this more fun and I’ll join you up there”. The cocky statement was hardly out of his mouth before he was sprinting around the pit.

Around and around, his boots squelching on bodies and gore but not slipping. When he had enough speed he lifted his leg and started to run the wall, getting higher and higher, faster and faster. The crowd watched in dumbfounded silence. Completely mystified by what had happened and unable to guess where he would come up.

Chaos reigned as they scrambled back from the edge and away from the psychotic vampire. He leaped over the edge and then gathering himself, before they could respond to his exit with violence, leaped onto the wooden stage housing the three thrones.

The demons tried to jump out of the way, intimidated despite their own cruel natures by the sheer speed and recklessness of the enraged vampire. Angel grabbed Drachnar and yanked him of balance to fall face down on the floor where the vampire jumped on his back with both feet, making him jerk with the weight and keeping him down.

At almost the same instant he reached up and snagging another by the shoulders grasped its head in both arms and twisted until its neck broke, then letting it drop limply to the floor of the now crowded stage, snapped a kick at the throat of the last, crushing it. He left it die from lack of air and turned his attention back to the demon on the floor.

It was all over in seconds and he stepped off the demon and let him get back to his feet.

“Very impressive Vampire, truly you have outdone yourself. But tell me what do you hope to achieve, there is no escape from here”.

“I promised I was going to kill you. Ask around I always keep my promises, it’s a soul thing”. Answered Angel more than happy to face off and just get it done.

Angel leaned in closer and glared with yellow eyes into black, “I don’t care if I get out of here or not so long as you die”.

Just then a new voice rang out, clear as day but vibrating with annoyance. “I hate to disagree with you, Angel. But I happen to care a lot”.

Before the last word had finished being spoken there was a whoosh of air and Drachnar gargled and scraped at the arrow sticking out from his throat. Black eyes widened and then he toppled onto his side, crashing into one of the chairs before coming to lie next to it, jerking with death throes.

Snarling with frustrated rage at losing his quarry, he spun towards the voice. Standing over the other side of the pit and only now being noticed by the stunned crowd, was Cordelia with the crossbow still in her hands.

“Get over it”, she told her snarling lover.
PART 5

THE PIT (Where we left off)

The cavern, cave or whatever, was like the rest of this hellish place, dark, damp and chilling. All mind-numbing gloom and enveloping darkness, lit here and there with flickering tongues of smoke riddled flame that instead of adding brightness only made the shadows dance even blacker on the uneven rock walls, giving everything an added surreal quality that was somehow more disturbing.

Talk about Dante’s Inferno- Yuck this place makes Pylea seem like summer camp, and as for the smell, urghh gag worthy. The whole place stank of terror and death, rotting things mixed in with soil, sweat and urine, Ewww gross. Though Cordelia’s reaction was less overwhelming now than when she’d first arrived and seen it up close and personal for the first time.

I am so gonna have to apologise to Lorne for giving him a hard time after that vision, sheesh. She shuddered and pushed the horrific images of that place from her mind. They’d get to that, but first things first.

They’d come here to find Angel and Wesley, Strike 1 check, but looks like they had a fight coming too, She knew she was being over emotional and allowing herself to be distracted but the relief to have found him was piercingly sweet and she intended to wallow in it for moment, thank you very much.

Not that Angel looked very pleased to see her, she thought wryly with a smirk. Horrified, shocked, stunned any of those fit his reaction better than welcoming. “Too bad, Angel- sometimes even big bad vamps need rescuing, that’s me Rescue Girl”. She knew he couldn’t here her, so grinned cheekily at him instead.

What the hell is she doing here? Was the first thought to cross his stunned mind when the rage of losing the kill he’d wanted so badly he’d been able to taste it, finally faded and he saw who’d fired the bolt.

All thoughts of the dead demon fled as pure shock had his face returning to human, even as he growled long and low at her recklessness. Look at her standing there all cocky confidence, like she’s not about to get her ass whipped in here – or worse. She didn’t break eye contact with him for several seconds, but lowered the crossbow and then grinned challengingly at him, hazel eyes sparkling even from this distance.

His eyes sparked topaz on seeing that provocative grin and he growled again. Almost roughly he jolted his eyes back to the demons as the danger of their situation registered now that it was no longer just him. Powerless to prevent it with the big yawning hole of the pit separating them, he saw a group of the demons break off their advance on him to attack her, and a dart of pure terror speared his chest.

Numbly he noted the closest of the demons were nearly on him. He didn’t care about that. He only cared about getting to Cordelia, but to do that, he had to kill those between him and her. Dammit, she’s gonna get herself killed. I swear if we get out of this alive I’m gonna wring her neck myself. He filled his mind with thoughts of dire retribution to ease the constriction in his chest at the thought of her getting hurt, deliberately fuelling his rage, making it burn brighter and hotter.

Furious with her putting herself in danger like this. He jerked his head to indicate the threat she was now facing, expecting to see fear chase itself across her beautiful face. Instead all she did was look at them, nod back and after blowing him a kiss, reloaded the crossbow with all the speed and dexterity she’d trained so hard to achieve.

Cordelia fired off a shot and felt the thrill of seeing the bolt aim sure and true right between the eyes above the, insert eye rolling here stupid frickin mask, for chrissake. She knew Angel was pissed she was here and didn’t give a damn. He wasn’t the only one with a protective and possessive streak and he was just going to have to learn to deal with hers.

Dragging his burningly angry gaze off Cordelia, Angel scooped up the closest weapon lying just by the rocky edged rim of the pit. Armed now, he twirled the heavy double-headed axe in his hands, so that the twin heads chopped the air in a deadly whirl of circling, flashing metal.

“You guys are seriously pissing me off now, but don’t let that stop you”. He told them his face taut, intent and deadly serious. He spread his legs slightly to anchor himself for the coming rush and press of bodies. As he stood braced, he felt it rise inside him again, that weird rush of tingling and then the minute focus, that was somehow rage and hate combined, intermingled into one vengeful tool.

But he’d been expecting it this time and it wasn’t as disorienting. If it helped him get the two of them out of here alive, he welcomed it. He took a deep un-needed breath and held it, narrowing dark pitiless eyes as he centered all of his roiling emotions on the coming fight.

At a rough count he was facing almost two dozen of them now edging around the pit and over the stone hewn benches. Each of them bristling with weapons and some had even taken off the masks to snarl and growl in fury at the unexpected turn of events, for which they blamed him. He almost purred at the wave of hatred he could feel coming of them towards him, revelling in it- feeding of it.

With a quick darting look he counted Cordelia was faced with four, with more on the way and the haze of bloodlust was instantly replaced by terror again. Fuck, he didn’t have time for this. Rapidly changing his mind, he charged the oncoming demons, slamming the handle of the axe in the face of one, while slashing left and right on both sides, slicing deep into neck and jawbones, blood sprayed him and them with sticky gore.

The impetus of his charge was hardly slowed until they gathered themselves and used the longer reach of the swords and spear’s they carried to lunge and jab. Angel reared back, only just avoiding being gutted by a sword but was unable to avoid the spear that imbedded in his right shoulder. Enraged he gave a dull roar of mingled pain and rage. Fuck that hurts, time to fucking die, Asshole.

Grimacing at the pain, he gritted his teeth and grabbed the spear to yank it out of his shoulder. The other end was still held by his attacker. Gripping hard he yanked up and twisting the wooden handle jabbed back downwards with all of his considerable strength, stabbing the blunt end into the demons gut, left exposed when the spear had been jerked upwards and almost out of reach. “Was that good for you too”? He spat the taunt in its dying face.

He fought like a possessed thing, but it wasn’t enough for every demon he killed another took its place on the slippery battleground. Despite his rage, skill and strength Angel was being driven back by the sheer overwhelming number of them.

Help arrived from a totally unexpected quarter, when a tremendous clanging suddenly split the air and everyone froze for a moment. Then half of them turned and jogged towards, and out of the double doors at the other end of the cavern. Deciding not worry about what that alarm meant; he looked at Cordelia again – she was down to two. One was lying with the crossbow bolt in its chest; another had blood spreading around its head from a slashed throat.

That was good, but what wasn’t, was the blood trickling from her mouth and the bruising forming on her cheek and temple. Fury and fear was a potent mix and the bloodlust rose up even higher than before, a red haze again filled his vision and savagely he renewed his attack using both axe-heads, hacking and slashing at any limbs or body parts that got in his way.

The tide was reversed again as he pushed them back, his fear for Cordy making him a ferocious, thoughtless animal, acting purely on instinct. Movement of any kind was responded too with vicious speed and they fell around and under him.

They were down to four from nearly triple that number and he barely felt any of their strikes that hit him. He was bleeding from his shoulder a slash across his middle and another stab wound in his upper thigh, but none of them registered in his fevered mind. He had to get there in time, anything else was unthinkable.

One of the demons had an axe with a hook on one end and he found his own ripped from his hands, he snarled, immensely pissed off, and whipped up his leg in a snap kick in its face. It staggered back and he crouched and twisted, bringing his other leg around, hooking it behind its knees, to finally bring it crashing to the floor and toppling one of its comrades at the same time.

He wrenched free of their encircling arms and grabbing hands and looked up when he heard another commotion at the doors. He was facing them and saw more of the demons enter the room and look between him and Cordelia. Half went to him and half towards Cordelia. He was out of time, the reprieve was over and re-enforcements had arrived. Desperate he looked around the rim of the pit, his dark eyes searching for inspiration anything that would give him the break he needed.

From here you could see the edge wasn’t completely surrounded by the stone benches, only about two thirds. The last section on the opposite side and close to where Cordelia was fighting was almost totally ledge less. If he was going to help her, he had no choice but to jump over it.

With a last swinging punch and following it up instantly with a bone crunching side kick to the head of the next nearest, he gave himself some breathing space and sprinted in the opposite direction. He pumped his legs, pounding the rocky floor, pushing and reaching for more speed. The demons roared and howled with renewed energy at his ‘retreat’ and gave chase but couldn’t keep up with his ground eating strides.

He streaked around the rim of the pit and towards the farthest side where it met the wall, then gathering himself, tensed his leg muscles and pushing, launched himself into the air, tucking his legs up and then out- reaching for the ground on the other side. He landed and skidded on the rocky floor, spraying dirt from under his boots before regaining control of his impetus.

He came up behind the battle, before the newest contingent of demons had even reached the fighting woman. He wrapped an arm around the head of one and grabbing his own fisted hand on the other, he squeezed and twisted, yanking the skull out of alignment and finally with a last twist, snapped the neck.

Cordelia had been forced to the wall and the crossbow now useless lay on the floor. She’d put her training to good use, but had been losing ground and tiring fast. Several times she’d come to close to a death blow but had managed so far to block and weave, keeping her body a moving target, preventing them from cornering her. When she’d seen the new arrivals, her heart had sunk.

She’d not had a chance to get the shotgun out of the straps on her back for fear of leaving her torso exposed, so had been dodging, blocking and slashing when she could with the hunting knife. Crap, this is just great; you couldn’t have gone for something longer? , she berated herself and wide eyed, dodged another lunge from a snarling demon. Angelll, get your ass over here!

Then out of the corner of her eye she saw Angel making a mad dash around the pit. She wasn’t able to watch him for long but didn’t need too. Even from this distance she felt the whoosh of air and heard the splinter of rocks when he jumped and landed not far from her and her attackers.

Angel would have been forced to drop his axe before jumping, being large anyway he might not have made it with the extra weight. But now he was unarmed, so with no other choice he laid in with heavy fists and lashing kicks, dodging their retaliatory swipes and slashes.

One made the mistake of reaching too far, and seeing his chance Angel twisted sideways to avoid being impaled and then grabbed the demons hand wrapped around the hilt. The abrupt halt of its lunge confused the demon but also stopped it from retreating. Angel smashed a powerhouse punch straight into its pale face, it released the sword as it staggered back and he was armed again.

He reached out with one long arm and grabbing Cordelia’s arm, pulled her out of reach of a particularly vicious swing from a newcomer, fresh to the battle. Cordelia, hasn’t seen it and flashed him a grateful look and then laid her palm up to fist the hilt he slapped into her hand and hefting the sword, stabbed it deep into the chest of a demon coming up behind Angel.

Angel backhanded another and then used the movement to slam an elbow into the face of yet another. This was impossible to keep up, sooner or later they would get overwhelmed and he knew it. The number of demons they were facing now, all bristling with sharp blades swelled even more as those he’d left behind joined the fray. They were going to die, if they didn’t get out of here now.

Cordelia hacked and slashed with the sword creating some space and blocking the thrusts of others aimed at both her and Angel. Her arm, no scratch that, her whole body was aching like a sonvabitch, but she kept on going, what option did she have?

Angel must have sensed how tired she was getting because the next second, she felt him grab her by the waist. Angel wrapped his arms around Cordelia’s body and tucked it into his side, protecting her with his much larger, harder body. Then he dove for the floor, Cordelia understanding what he needed her to do, scrabbled desperately over the hard rock on her hands and knees.

They skirted the wall in a tumble of limbs too fast for the demons to keep up with and their vicious stabs stung the impervious rock behind the escaping vampire and woman. Once clear of the horde they staggered upright, Angel steadying Cordy as he lifted her almost off her feet and rushed them both towards the double doors. They might have made it, if one of the demons hadn’t guessed where they’d been heading for and tried to the head them off.

Angel ducked under an axe, meant to sever his head and drawing back his arm, drove a pile-driving punch straight into the demons gut, doubling it over and then head butting it on the way back up. The delay was costly but Cordelia made it to the door, Angel not far behind, whipped around to hold them off, giving her a chance to escape.

“Get out of here, run,” he yelled at her, not taking his eyes of the demons coming after them. Beyond infuriated now, they were snarling and snapping, showing blood stained teeth and fangs. All were rank with sweat and death and intent on exacting revenge. They wouldn’t give up their prey easily.

“Like Hell”, yelled back Cordy, not even considering it for a second. She reached behind her back with one hand to wrench the shotgun free, and at the same time grabbed the waistband of Angel’s pants with the other to yank him back. Not expecting anything like that from her, he fell back towards the doors she’d partially closed.

She stepped to the side of him and levelled the shotgun. A demon face almost kissed it, before she blew it off. The terrific blast of the shotgun reverberated in the air and with her ears were ringing, she staggered back into Angel, who returned the favour and hauled her the rest of the way out of the cavern.

Between them they got the doors closed and Angel kept his back to it to keep them that way, despite the heavy banging from the other demons on the side. Without being asked she hunted for something to block them, the heavy bar usually used was missing. Fucking typical but she found a spear which when he saw it, Angel eyed doubtfully.

“What? Like I have something better up my sleeve, get real”. She playacted checking the tight black wristband of her bodysuit. “This is it, Dumbass unless you have a better idea”? She glared at him and raised a brow, annoyed that he didn’t appreciate her initiative. She was tired, sore and pissed and he was giving her a hard time cos she didn’t carry a 150lb wooden bar on her? Get real, Buddy.

He didn’t have a better idea and he ignored the name-calling, which he knew- she knew- he hated. With no time for arguments, he just nodded and watched as she rammed it home between the two metal brackets. “It’s only gonna hold for about 30 seconds tops. So get ready for the race of your life”. He told her grimly and got ready to push himself away from the door.

“Okay, let’s get going then, delaying only makes me nervous”, she told him and set off in a sprint, knowing he would follow and catch her up almost immediately.

BUTCHERS BLOCK

Once inside the antechamber, after that weird little trip into the funny light thing, as Cordy put it; they had all agreed after a short, heated argument to splitting up in pairs, with Cordy finding Angel and making up her own pair. Gunn and Fred teamed up, leaving Giles with Lorne.

They’d been ordered by Cordelia for heavens sake, to wait a few minutes before leaving the room, to give her a chance to sneak out and find wherever they’d got Angel. Then they were to concentrate on finding Wesley, Lorne having been able to tell that from his vision-trip. When they’d been found, they would all meet up here again.

“Who else thinks Cordy’s gotten damned bossy for those ‘not so fashionable anymore’ boots” asked Gunn with a sulky frown. “Damn, that girl can ride roughshod over anyone”.

A part of him missed the fashion obsessed Barbie he’d first met and come to love, but knew that was just sour grapes cos he’d ended up sitting here while she went off on her own commando mission.

“This is so not right. Me, Charles Gunn bad-ass demon killer; sitting around waiting for super action-chick to do the demon booty kickin”.

“Leave her alone, Charles she’s worried about Angel and you know it makes sense, she can slip around without being noticed far easier than with all of us trouping about and giving the game away”. Snapped Fred, wound up with the waiting too.

The pretty dark haired woman, paced around the little room, sidestepping any bodies that got on her way; the room was too small for the four of them, plus the bodies of the two guards they’d dispatched on arriving.

“I do not ‘troupe’ and no one sneaks better’n me,” he argued, still pouting darkly.

“Give it up Gunn, believe me when I tell ya, life is so much easier when you just accept that it’s the females of any species that runs the show”.

Lorne imparted that bit of unwelcome, pearlish wisdom from his perch by the door, head back and eyes closed. He opened his eyes to look towards Fred and winked, making her laugh and breaking the tension a little. Gunn just shot them both a disgusted look and didn’t comment.

Giles hardly heard any of it, too busy mentally wishing himself anywhere else, why the devil do I always end up with the bizarre one? Someone up there hates me, that’s why, he mentally whined about being lumped with Lorne, all the while his face was perfectly straight.

Lorne looked at him so still and silent and wasn’t fooled, chuckling again he clapping a hand on the stiff shoulder of the Englishmen. “Stick with me baby, I won’t lead you astray- well at least not much”. Lorne laughed at his own joke and then sobered when Gunn decided it was time to get moving.

“Okay, Cordy’s had enough time, we need to get this show on the road before any more of those” he pointed at the dead guards, “decide to come in here”.

Lorne waited until Gunn and Fred and carefully crept out the door and then deliberately grandly gestured that Giles could go first out of the door. ”After you, Sugar”.

Giles gave him a filthy look, cleared his throat, glared again and then without a word, strode to the door. Hmmphh, Sugar indeed.

They almost tripped over Fred and Gunn, standing frozen and staring with gaping, horrified faces at the scene before them. Fred stepped back and blinked like she was hoping to make it go away. Gunn steadied her with a warm hand on her small back. “Take it easy, Fred” he said softly, but there was a dangerous glint his brown eyes. “This is why where here, to end this”.

There was a large chamber directly ahead, encircled by the tunnel they were in. It had at least four entrances into it with strange demons busily bustling around carry gruesome platters of god knows what, but unfortunately each of them could guess. Like Angel before them they saw the huge stone slabs bloodstained and covered in dismembered body parts, some whole enough to be recognisable as human. As for the carcasses, strung up…

They all gagged a little at the sights and smells and averted their eyes for a moment, even then still seeing the grisly, macabre scene in their minds eye, burnt there but sheer revulsion

“Indeed” agreed Giles stiffly when he’d mastered his own response enough not to sound as unhinged as he felt. His normally serene and calm expression was gone and his eyes burned with anger and disgust.

“This must be stopped no matter what the cost”. He looked at his ‘partner’ and noted that for the first time since he’d met him, Lorne was obviously in no laughing mood.

“This is what I saw in my vision, only I concentrated on Angel, when I could”. He admitted and tried not to barf at the bloody scene, literally now in the flesh and blood.

“Cordy’ll find the boss-man and Wes is all mean, lean killing machine now. These people dead or alive need our help”. Replied Gunn, not taking his eyes of the sight before them and tightening his grasp on his huge, personally crafted curving axe.

“Won’t we need Angel and Wesley to do this”? Asked Fred, stiffening her spine nevertheless, prepared to do what she could. She might be a small skinny girl from the sticks but she could do some good here- even if it killed her.

“Maybe, but I’m not prepared to wait” was the terse reply from the large black man. They looked at one another, solemn with purpose.

“Ready” asked Giles, strangely elated to be here with these people he’d never had a chance to meet before and who only minutes ago where aggravating him like an itch he couldn’t scratch.

The gung-ho Gunn, stalwart Texan, and now serious demon all seemed like such a good fit, but what amazed him was the total acceptance that this was what had to be done and so would be. In that instant, his confidence in their ability to win the day irrationally soared. Bugger, rational.

They all took deep breaths and sent a prayer up to whoever was listening. “GO” finished Gunn with a roar and they all charged into the chamber of horrors.

THE CELL

Wesley played with the knife in his hand, sitting on the floor beside the body of the still and silent Cathy. Strangely enough she comforted him and he wondered why that was, idly though. He was too busy waiting for the tell tale crash of the bolts that would signal his wait was over.

“I wonder how Angels doing”? He asked her, half expecting a ghostly head to pop up with a smart-ass remark about not being that psychic.

“Probably kicking demon ass half way to the eastern seaboard the mood he was in”. He’d been here long enough that using Americanism’s seemed as natural as breathing, although his sainted Father would likely have a few pithy things to say about ‘butchering the Queens English’. “Stupid Sod”.

“Shut up Wesley”, he berated himself tiredly, “Now’s not the time for ‘daddy’ issues”. His brows rose over dull eyes, not that he’d ever really thought about his family relations as an issue. Or anything at all for that matter, they were as they were; thankfully thousands of miles way.

The bolts crashed back and calmly he stood up, the knife still in his hand now and hidden beside his thigh. He only hoped they were right that it would only be the one guard; the state he was in now, any more might be a problem. He stepped to the side of the opening door and closed his eyes to protect his night-vision from the bright flames of the obligatory torch.

He heard the grunt of the guard when it didn’t immediately spot him. He opened his eyes and raised his hand across his body at shoulder level, the knife gripped so that the blade faced outward. The demon turned to face him and they eyeballed each other for a single instant before Wesley drew back his arm in a slashing motion across its throat. It fell twitching to the ground, its head almost severed by the depth of the vicious cut.

“Nice of you to stop by” said Wesley conversationally and stepped over the still jerking body. A sense of renewed energy filled him as he approached the wrapped body and he crouched down to lay a tender hand on her. “I swear to you that no matter what I have to do, I will be back for you”.

Wesley returned to the lifeless demon and turned the thing over on its back to search it for the keys, easily located attached to its leather jerkin by a leather cord. With a strong twist of his fingers, they were free and then with a last look at Cathy, turned and left cell. He debated locking it and then did, thinking it might be safer for her.

He walked down the corridor and after checking for more guards, none of which seemed to be around. Mentally shaking his head at the laxness while thanking heaven for it, he started to unlock all of the cells doors on this block.

After a few minutes various coloured, races and breeds of demons started to warily edge their way out of the cell doors; some looking around with frantic eyes, while others were simply put- furiously angry. They all looked towards Wesley, who was studiously avoiding direct eye contact and twirling the keys in his hands.

He waited until the scuffle of feet stopped to look up and found, as expected, he had their complete attention.

“Yes, it was me that freed you, so yes it would be damned rude to try and kill me for it” he stopped and waited for a response, which was limited to a few growls and sarcastic remarks by the English speaking ones.

“That being the case- I would suggest that you save all that rage and anger, justified I might add, at being kidnapped for the ones that did the kidnapping, don’t you think so”?

Still no answer, well he hadn’t expected it to be easy, “Either that or curl up and die because its going to take all of us fighting them to get any of us free of this stinking place”. He dropped the cordial gentleman act and told them like it was in as cold a voice as he could muster. That got through. Finally.

WHAT A MAZE

Angel was beside her in seconds and Cordelia spared some energy to look at him as he kept pace with her. Her heart soared and the pain in her face, arms and legs receded a little. I did it, Oh my God, I did IT.

She’d gotten him out and yeah, okay, so they weren’t out of the woods yet but dammit at least she wasn’t sitting in the hotel, wearing a track in the floor and wringing her hands like some useless girly-girl. Though she knew what he would prefer and that she was likely in for a rough time when they did get home. She smiled to herself at the thought, bring it on Baby, I can so handle anything you can dish out.

Angel was checking behind them about every third step and soon enough they both heard the doors give way as the spear snapped from the combined weight of the infuriated demons. With a last knowing look at one another, Cordelia ducked her chin into her chest and pumped her arms and legs harder, reaching deep inside for more speed.

Angel kept pace with her, and when she stumbled over the uneven ground he caught her up and immediately put her back on her feet, neither slowing down in what became a team effort.

After a while they came to a bend and skidded round it, trying not give their pursuers time to catch up. Just beyond the curve was a rough entrance into another tunnel, without speaking they took it. It was much narrower than the one they’d left and soon got narrower still. Cordelia’s breathing became harsher as her body fought to take in more oxygen to sustain the pace her brain was demanding from it.

Sounds of pursuit got closer as the howls became clearer, Cordelia’s heartbeat increased even more and a momentary dizzy spell nearly made her stumble into the wall, only Angel’s strong supporting hands saved her from a painful smash into the unforgiving surface of the rock walls.

Angel kept his arm around her and looked ahead, his supernaturally strong eyes piercing the dark gloom, searching for a means of escaping the pursuit so that she could rest. He could hear the frantic beat of her heart and her breathing was so laboured it hurt him to hear it.

He saw something ahead, but it wasn’t what he was looking for, quite the opposite. His belly clenched when he realised it was what he’d first thought it was. A gap in the floor of the tunnel, god knows what it was there for, or even if it was just a natural occurrence, whatever, this was definitely the wrong tunnel to have taken. He released Cordelia for a moment to scoop up some loose stones and threw it at the dark patch.

He heard the rackety sound as they travelled down- a long, long way. His belly dropped even further. He didn’t tell Cordelia but simply picked her up in his arms and turned her so that she faced him, she gave him a startled glance and wrapped her legs around his hips.

“Don’t look forward” he told her and kissed her on the lips. She gave him a ‘look’ and tucked her head into the crook of his shoulder, trusting that he knew what he was doing- NOT. “I hope you know what your doing” she grumbled in his ear. Angel certainly hoped so, but no promises.

Cordelia could feel him increase their speed as his legs lifted and pounded down under her thighs and bottom, while his abdomen bunched and relaxed between her thighs in a synchrony of muscular power. She gripped him harder and simply held on.

She felt him gather himself and even take a deep breath that expanded his chest against hers, “What’s the matter”? She asked, unable to stop the question and yet a part of her not wanting to know. “Hole in the floor” Angel muttered just as he launched them both into the air.

Cordelia yelped at the feel of the air rushing around them, she squeezed her eyes shut and prayed. They almost made it; they were short by only a few inches. Angel snapped a hand out and wrapped an arm around Cordelia. He groaned at the jerk on his arm when he stopped their fall, his fingers just about gripping the rock of the floor on the other side of the shaft.

“We didn’t make it did we”? Asked Cordelia, not daring to move in case she dislodged them. Her heart was pounding like a piston engine and there was a dull roaring in her ears.

“Not quite” Angel gritted out and experimentally tried to pull them up, his fingers slipped and convulsively they clung to one another tighter.

“Can you pull us up”? She hardly dared ask, but avoiding it was out of the question, pretty soon it would be answered for her anyway. She tried to keep her breathing even and not let the panic creep in and take over her mind. It was the total darkness that creeped her out as much as the feeling of being at the edge of a precipice.

He didn’t answer her, didn’t know how to. Should he tell her a comforting lie? God he just didn’t know what to tell her. “At least we lost them,” he offered as some positive news.

“I’m going to die aren’t I”? She asked him in a small voice, not going for his little attempt at diversion. Oh god I don’t wanna die- I don’t want to be finished I have so much to live for now- STOP IT, get a GRIP, hysterical much.

“No you’re not” His voice grated like it was strained or something. No fucking WAY, was he going to let her die.

“But if you can’t pull us up then were both gonna fall, what if I let go…” she started to offer, her mind dulled by weariness grasped at tiny shards of reason, she didn’t want to die for nothing.

“Don’t you DARE Cordelia, I swear if you do…” he broke of and swore, his shoulders twitched and they both fell silent with mingled terror and awful anticipation. “Do.Not.Even. Think of letting go of me Cordy, or I’ll let go too”.

She huffed impatiently and tried again, “But if I’m going to die anyway”. Okayyy, I can’t believe were arguing about this, like I wanna die- NOT.

“You are not gonna die, now shut-up the hell up. What is it with you mortals anyway, first Wes and now you, give me a frickin break here, I’m the immortal one”.

Normally a statement like that would have her rolling her eyes and lambasting him for being such an arrogant ass, but she heard the emotions behind the words, could feel it too in the fine tremors wracking his body. So she settled for a delicate, for her, snort and said “Well yay us, we must love you then and maybe don’t want you hurt- go figure”.

His shoulders were killing him, particularly the one that got stabbed in the fight, and he knew it wasn’t going to be long before even his strength gave out. “Then don’t let go of me Cordy, if you do I’m lost anyway”. Angel wasn’t one for wearing his heart on his sleeve very often, but when he did it was almost like a neon sign.

She silently digested that, and settled her head more firmly into his strong neck, breathing in the scent that always made her feel safe and secure. “That’s not fair,” she finally whispered back, not sure if she wanted that responsibility.

He wasn’t having any of that, when they’d finally got it together, she’d made promises, including sticking around. He intended that she kept them. “Get used to it”. His voice was uncompromising and maybe that was unfair, but fuck unfair- he was 250 plus years and he was in love.

Then he frowned and after a few seconds of intense concentration, rubbed his chin against her hair to get her attention. “Do you feel that”?

“Feel what”? She muttered not willing to move away from the safety of his neck, it was dark sure, but not scary dark if she pressed against his skin.

“A draft- there’s air moving below us”.

“Whoopey doo” she replied too worn out to care about a draft. Then something in his voice must have woken a sleeping alarm. She looked up and hated that she couldn’t even see his face. “So”? There was more than a question in that dark feminine tone, “don’t even think about going there”.

He ignored the last bit, “Hold on tight, and don’t let go”.

Her wail of “Are you crazy” was lost in the rush of air as he released his death grip on the edge of the shaft, dropping them both. The walls were much closer together now and he used his boots on either side of the shaft to slow them down.

Then he felt that rush of air again, only stronger and widened his leg, it hurt like crazy when his leg jolted as it his foot caught. But he slowed their descent enough to give himself time to firmly snag the upper edges of another hole with both hands, relieving the weight on his leg.

“Ooophh” Cordy was winded when her upper back hit the wall above the hole and she clutched him tighter, but it was much better than being squished on the bottom of this hellhole. “Sorry Cor, you OK”?

“Just fine” she snarled back, more out of the fear still drilling through her than any pain, she was going to get him back for that crap inducing scare- if it was the last thing she did. “Where the hell are we now”?

“Another tunnel or something”, He chuckled with relief when she swore a blue streak, then using both feet and his back on the opposite wall, he turned them around so that Cordy would be able to crawl inside the hole, using his body underneath to support her.

“This is just great, I can’t see a damn thing” there was a fractious note in her voice and he could feel the trembling that gave away her post adrenaline exhaustion.

“I’ve got you, Sweetheart” he kept his voice low and deep, soothing her with his voice and his hands sweeping over her back as he guided her until she felt the edges. It was totally pitch black, dark enough that he could barely make out anything, so it must seem like a nightmare to her.

“You’re doing great Cor, just pull yourself inside and I’ll follow right behind you”.

She crawled over him and felt her way inside the gap in the wall of the shaft, it wasn’t very big and a huge shudder swept over her as claustraphobia hit her hard. Okay, deep breaths. Life and death remember, a little coffin like time in a hole beneath hell won’t hurt you.

“Great, this is just great. I hate dark enclosed spaces, so obviously it’s my lucky day to be stuck down here with no flashlight, no handy lighter cos I don’t smoke and no frickin idea where we are or how to get out again”.

She used her grumbles like a lifeline, hearing her own voice constantly echoing back was better than just hearing her own panicked panting. The rock was sharpe in places and her hands were sore from various scrapes. “Plus just look at me, I’m a mess- well OK can’t really see much, but I just know I look like hell, which is pretty appropriate for here I guess”.

“Cordelia” said Angel warningly, although he didn’t object to hearing her talk most of the time, having got used to it over the years, now wasn’t the time.

“What” she snapped back, knowing he was going to tell her to shut up.

“Shush, these places are like sound amplifiers you can never tell who can hear you”. He was directly behind her, as they crawled along the narrow tunnel.

“Well excuse me, for not knowing all about caves, I never lived in one” she pointed out with acerbic calm

“Cor” he growled back.

“Okkayy, Geeze, shutting up now”.

He smiled he couldn’t help it, she amazed him on so many levels, sometimes he scared himself about how much she meant to him. Could you imagine anything more overwhelming for an immortal than to a love a mortal with all of your being all the while knowing that fate could snatch them away from you at any time.

Sometimes, he drove her crazy with his over-protectiveness but he doubted she knew of the times when he managed to restrain it- just. If he had his way she would stay at his side and when that wasn’t safe, in a safe secure place he wanted to create just for her. What stopped him was knowing that she would never accept it and that if he tried to insist- she would grow to hate him.

So he tried to let her go on as she wanted, building a life on the ruins of the old one and doing a fantastic job of it- god, while it scared the crap out of him, he was damned proud of her too, talk about being pulled into two directions.

He pulled his mind of the morbid and yet not, thoughts and realised that Cordelia had stopped moving. “What is it, what’s the matter”, he was seized with the wish that he’d gone first, a physical impossibility at the time.

“This is not good” came back Cordy’s voice; strangely hollow as the sounds pushed past her body and echoed slightly in the dark and damp enclosed space they were struggling through.

“What isn’t good”? He demanded sharply, irritation poking him hard at the lack of information. He tried to see past her but it was impossible.

“This tunnel finishes here unless you want to try the vertical version of it,” she told him, her voice thick with tired hopeless tears. That was why she’d taken so long to answer.

Her obvious despair tore at him with steel talons and his own eyes stung. Dammit, give us a fucking break here.

“Start climbing” the demand came out harsher than he’d intended, but right then he didn’t care. She was not going to die here and he wasn’t willing to wait for another solution, as impossible as that was, they had to do this together.

Tears were running down her cheeks and dropped down on her sore hands, the darkness pressed in on her and she just wanted to bury her head in her hands and sob for a while. Then maybe she could get it together again and try to climb, just not now.

“I can’t” she told him and then felt a hard hand grab her ankle and shake it.

“Do it” his voice was uncompromising and suddenly she wanted to scream and yell at him, hot words bubbled up in her throat and she opened her mouth to give it to him full blast, but at the last second she bit them back and settled for a growl low in her throat.

She scrubbed a hand over her wet face and shot a dark scowl that he couldn’t see over her body at him. “Fine, I’ll do it, just don’t blame me if I fall and you get squashed”.

“I’ll cope” he replied and felt her move forward a little and then stretch. Once inside the shaft she pushed and pulled herself up with her boots and hands, scraped raw now but she ignored the pain.

After a while she went numb and it took a while for her to realise that she was practically sitting on Angel’s shoulder while he climbed for the both of them. The strong surges upwards were monotonous but comforting. She started to try and get back into doing some of the work but he stopped her.

“Just settle down, I can do this”. She didn’t argue.

THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS

The battle raged on with a terrible ferocity; at first it had only been Gunn, Lorne, Giles and Fred against a handful of the strange masked demons. Pure rage had fuelled the human men as they hurtled into the fray, hacking , slashing, swinging and pounding away with axe and cudgel.

Lorne looked fierce with his green skin and red eyes blazing, and battle cries interspersed with the high shrill notes filled the air as they fell from his lips were deafening. He swung mightily with the cudgel aiming for heads and bodies, smashing his way through to victory over more than his fair share of demons.

Gunn and Giles didn’t slack either and the bodies were starting to pile up as they made the most of the surprise attack. Soon enough though an alarm was raised as a clanging noise rose over them in panicked notes. Fred, busy firing single shots from the handgun was perched on high ground out of the way while she picked her targets with care and precision as Wesley had taught her.

That ability became invaluable when more of the demons came streaming in all four entrances in response to the alarm. Suddenly the four stalwart fighters were facing four to one instead of two to one and more kept on coming.

Fred picked up her pace and the handgun shot upwards slightly with each bullet blasted out, but she hit her target every time. Smoke choked the air, from the torches and gunfire. Blood was spattered everywhere as screams rent the air, followed by snarls and growls, the whine of bullets and the bang of the guns recoil, joined not the least of which by more high pitched wailing from Lorne as he fought.

If that wasn’t enough confusion more demons arrived, lead by Wesley and the battle became epic as they went at each other, some bare handed, ripping and tearing, gouging at the demons that had dared kidnapped them. Pink, yellow, spiked, horned, lipless, red eyes, black eyes, clawed and not, all types were figured here and all without exception- where pissed off.

Chaos reigned and Gunn, Giles and Wesley met at the centre and looked around them trying to assess how they were doing. So far, from the looks of the bodies strewn on the floor and over the already gored stone slabs, it looked about even. Then Cordelia burst into their midst, closely followed by Angel and they all stared in shock at the pair.

They were filthy, covered in black dirt and dried blood. “What the hell happened to you”? Asked Wesley as they he looked them over in astonishment, and then frowned when he got a good look at the utter disrepair of his shirt.

“This place happened- what did you think Wesley, this ain’t no spa” snapped Cordelia who then snatched up a sword of the ground, and with a look of pure fury on her dirty face, jumped in feet first, determined to get rid of the frustration that suffused her, brought on by the terror of the last few days.

Wesley watched her hack and slash away with mad abandon and then gave Angel a look with raised brows and got a “Don’t ask” back which he settled for and between them all they formed a formidable ring.

Gunn had gone to fetch Fred and now they all stood back to back with Fred crouched down and still squeezing the trigger. Cordelia had somehow managed to keep hold of the shotgun, as damned uncomfortable as that had been strapped to her back and now handed it over to a delighted Wesley. The smile that lit his face was almost boyish and she laughed instead of rolling her eyes, in this situation it was almost endearing.

They stayed together and when one ventured to far in the heat of battle, they soon found themselves brought back into the fold as the protective circle held.
Then as sometimes happened there was a moment of peace while each side retreated to lick wounds and stare at their opponents assessingly. The kidnapped demons congregated by the far wall, opposite the humans, in an uneasy alliance given their respective breeds were more often than not at war with one another anyway.

The demons of this place huddled next to the entrance through which most of them had arrived, likely leading to living quarters. They were leaderless and still reeling from the events of the last day, from what had started out as normal to this utter destruction of their home and way of life.

Both sets of demons finished eyeballing each other and settled their gaze on the humans in their midst. Humans, demon and vampire that is. Some of them knew about the vampire with a soul and some didn’t but all were wary of this peculiar bunch of … comrades, friends, and warriors?

The humans took measured breaths and their eyes were watchful for any move to resume the battle, Giles and Wesley side by side, one with a bloodied axe and one with a shotgun levelled and primed. Nobody spoke or moved, just watched and waited. Cordelia stood over Fred who held the handgun loosely but ready with another full clip of bullets.

Angel stood a little in front of the two women and his body was taut in expectation of more fighting as dark eyes flickered from one demon to the next. Lorne moved a little from side to side on the balls of his feet, red eyes still blazing as he struggled to come down from the unusual high that was bloodlust, a new experience for him.

The stand-off remained in place and was broken only by the slow careful advance of one of the demons who reached up to remove its mask to speak to them.

The black eyes and pale spine ridged face looked fearful and very unhappy at being voted as spokesperson, it swallowed hard and maintained a good distance from the humans and an even further distance from the other group of mixed demons.

“What will it take for you to leave us in peace”? It asked in an uncertain voice.

As ever Cordelia was the first to find her voice, “Leave you in peace? Hello!” she looked at Angel and Wesley and then jerked her head at them, “You kidnapped them, we just came to get them back. So get you facts straight, we didn’t attack you first”.

The demon shrugged uncomfortably, “That matters not- we just want you to leave”.

Cordelia had heard enough “Doesn’t matter? Are you for real? I think those guys over there might have something to say about that”. She wasn’t wrong, there were very definite renewed rumblings from the mixed breeds.

“I’ll tell you what it will take,” said Angel stepping forward, not wanting another unnecessary battle when it could be avoided, even if Cordelia was still feeling the need to pummel. “We all leave here, everyone of us, and you never return to our world again, EVER”.

The grumblings from the mixed breeds increased so he swung on them and stalked forward with his face thunderous. They held their ground but stopped speaking.

“I don’t give a shit what your problem is, or if you stay here to slug it out, but I’m getting my people out of here” he growled, the rumble was quiet but full of menace nevertheless.

He turned his head slowly to face the nervous spokesman again and his eyes were dark glittering slits of black ringed with topaz lights. “You’ve had your fun, and while I’d love nothing more than to ripe your hearts out and feed them to you” he looked at both groups of demons when he said that, “I won’t, this time, but get this…”

He walked with precisely measured steps until his was looking directly into the demon spokesman’s face, “Humans are off the menu, is that clear”? The fact that he’d vamped out was clear enough evidence that this display of calm was exactly that, a display. Underneath it was a maelstrom of fury that he could and would tap into at a moments notice.

The demon nodded at that gritted demand and backed away. Angel looked at Cordelia, who out of all of them was still looking angry enough to chew nails. “We’re done here” he told her, his voice hard and charged with meaningful warnings about letting it go.

After a moment where hazel clashed with topaz, she sighed gustily and shrugging with studied indifference, nodded her head even while her eyes still simmered with hot emotion.

The need for revenge for what she’d been put through was still strong and it went against the grain to let them get away with it. Her blood was up and a large part of her wanted to finish this. Kill them all and tear down this place but she knew that wasn’t possible and she even understood Angel’s reasoning, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
HYPERION HOTEL

The decision to meet back at the Hyperion rather than Wolfram & Hart was easy and immediate, Cordy, Angel, Wesley and Giles got into Angels Plymouth while Gunn, Fred and Lorne all piled into Gunns shiny new truck.

Soon enough the tired yet victorious fighters found themselves climbing the familiar stairs to enter the sparkling glass doors of the Hyperion Hotel. Gunn and Fred and even Wesley to some degree turned in slow circles checking out their old haunt for changes and just simply drinking in the memories, which over time had regressed back to those that were happy and mostly- comfortable.

“Did I ever tell you how happy I am this place is still AI” Gunn asked the room at large, aiming at Cordelia but too busy still smiling over a feeling of nostalgia.

“Yeah” agreed Fred with a soft smile, her own mind filled with similarly happy memories of her first refuge after Pylea and the feeling of safety and family it had provided when she’d needed it the most. “I just love that too. God I miss this place”.

Then realising what she’d said she threw an embarrassed smile at Angel, who just shrugged and all but threw himself down on the nearest couch, stretching his legs out and leaning back to let his still wound-up body finally relax.

“We had some good times here didn’t we”? Agreed Cordelia, hiding a slightly smug feeling that this was her place now but at the same time wishing for a moment that things were as they used to be and that they would all troop upstairs to their respective rooms for sleep before getting back up the next day, working to help the helpless- together.

Angel pulled her down next to him when she went to pass him, “Hey- Hostess here I need to get everyone something to drink” but she settled down next to him anyway, leaning on the opposite armrest and putting her now bootless feet over the other side so that her hip was pressed to his side and her legs covered his lap.

“Don’t worry about it Cordy, we can get our own drinks. Why don’t I do it” and the happy Texan got busy rummaging around looking for mugs and coffee for the filter machine.

“You’re a sweetheart Fred,” shouted Cordy so that she could be heard over the rattle of pottery. Then she settled back and hummed loudly in pleasure when Angel started to massage her aching calves. “We’re filthy dirty, the couch is gonna get stained”.

“I’m dirty so it’s already dirty, it’ll wash” he murmured back and watched her face out of half closed eyes.

“Say’s you who doesn’t do the washing” she replied with a wry smile, still with her eyes closed. Wow, she was seriously loving this, then a frown marred her face. She’d better not love it too much; hoping for the impossible was nothing but a road to heartache.

She heard Fred’s happy chatter and Gunns deliberately laconic replies that made the other brunette giggle. Wesley was talking quietly with Giles, absorbed in whatever weird demony watcher stuff they were talking about, looking the most relaxed she’d seen him in the presence of the older man, ever.

Lorne was standing with Gunn and complimenting Fred is his over-exuberant and totally sweet way, rapturising over her everyday coffee making skills, simply cos he was thirsty and she was making him a drink. Pfft, who didn’t know the way to that demons heart lay in his drinks cabinet.

“Yo, Barberella”, Cordy winced at Gunns new nickname for her, sort of a mix of her old one and the fact that she was all action-girl now. “Can I use a shower, kinda covered in goo here”. He held out his black long sleeved vest with a grimace of distaste on his darkly handsome face.

“Aren’t we all, but go ahead and feel free. There’s some shower gel in my room you can use so long as Angel doesn’t mind”. That was it, there was a chorus of requests for the facilities and everyone disappeared to get clean. With only four rooms with useable showers, they took turns with Cordy and Fred in Cordy’s room and the guys arguing over who was first in the other three.

Half an hour and no shower gel left later, they all congregated much happier back in the lobby. “Thanks for the clothes loan, dog” said Gunn to Angel offering a salute with his steaming coffee mug. Echoed by Giles and Wesley, all sporting various items of black or maroon clothing that with the exception of Gunn was all too big for them.

Wesley finished his coffee and laid it carefully on the counter with a smile for Fred, “So where are you staying Giles”?

“Well, Cordelia mentioned plenty of room”. He answered with an uncertain smile at the brunette.

Angel stopped what he was doing and froze, shooting her a sideways look, he leaned down to whisper “I hope you mentioned a room on another floor”.

“Why” she whispered back without turning her head.

“Cos we might keep him awake” she didn’t need to look at him to see the smirk that simply must have accompanied that statement.

Angel drew circles on the creamy skin; his face absorbed, strangely intent but she couldn’t see that. Then he widened them until he was sweeping over the whole cheek, tracing the intriguing crease where each one met the top of her firm thighs. After a few minutes she lay boneless over him in a mixture of relief and enjoyment. Finally he lightly caressed between the cleft of the cheeks and dipping inside that soft furrow found her moist already. With one long finger he parted the soft folds to find the source of her honey. He circled the entrance with that caressing finger and she moaned against the bed cover.

He still kept her down with his arm over her shoulder and dimly she wondered why, but soon became too entranced over what he was doing now to really care. He found her clit and rubbed against, hard and then slow, circling it and then pushing gently, and making her buttocks rise up instinctively.

He returned to her labia and finding the hot dripping centre again, pushed deep inside. Mindlessly she pushed up against his hand, aiding his invasion and frantic for more. He found her g-spot in seconds and hooking his finger he pushed rhythmically against it. His finger was drenched with more of her liquid arousal and her moans became cries as the resulting charge of electric heat spread out from her womb in a painfully exquisite wave of pleasure.

He continued for endless minutes until she was writhing on his lap with frantic neediness, then in the midst of her heightened passion, he pulled out. She immediately protested in an incoherent murmur.

Then he slapped her ass so hard, he left an immediate red handprint and ignoring her scream, he let her up and pushed her onto the bed.

Cordelia felt like she was on fire, every part of her body was literally burning, her face was flushed with it, her veins throbbed with it and her ass – well that went without saying. But, and this is what drove her fury even higher, was the fact that she was still aroused- damn him.

She came up swinging. Her face one big snarl of outraged womanhood, and her ‘arghh’ was hoarse with rage as she aimed a roundhouse punch right at his face. He caught it in one of his and kept it cupped in his hand.

Cordelia’s eyes were narrowed and spitting hazel fire, and her cheeks blazed with humiliation and left over passion, heightened by the sheer depth of her anger. She whipped up other her hand in a heavy slap and he caught that one too and tumbled them both to the bed.

“Get off of me you sick…” she didn’t get to finish before he covered her lips with his in hard kiss just this side of punishing. She went to bite him so he lifted up his head and dragged both of her arms up so that he manacled both in one large hand. Then cupping her jaw he clamped down just enough so that she couldn’t bite down and then captured her lips again.

His tongue slid inside the hot cavern of her mouth and then he shifted his body to cover hers, legs trapping and shoulders looming. The angle of the kiss changed and he took complete possession of her mouth, his tongue massaged and twirled around hers before retreating and then stabbing inside in a rhythm that called to her already heated womb.

That heat unfurled again and silently she railed against it, but was helpless to stop it, he’d primed her too well. He leaned up to look down at her flushed face, and letting her take some breaths.

“Well you did dare me” he said with a twitch of his lips when she still looked like she wanted to kill him.

It took a moment to realise what the hell he was talking about and then it hit her, she took a deep breath and felt the vein in her forehead throb, her mouth opened to start yelling again but had to swallow the hot words when he kissed her again.

“Ah-ah-ah, no more swearing or I’ll carry on until you can’t sit down for a week,” he threatened when he’d finished kissing her. She closed her mouth with a snap and glared up at him.

“If you think that you’re not gonna regret that for the rest of your unnaturally long life- think again” as threats go it was pretty mild, but oh so very true, she’d see to it personally.

His eyebrows jerked up and he smiled in amusement. He rested his head on one palm but was cautious enough to keep her hands where they where. “C’mon Cor, admit it your aroused. Don’t deny it, I can smell it, it’s so strong I can almost taste it”.

“Yeah well, that’s the only taste you’re gonna get so sniff up”. She knew the moment the words were out, it was the wrong thing to have said, but it was too late.

“Is that a dare”? Undaunted he smirked at her and when she didn’t reply he chuckled. Bastard. “Silence means- yes,” he told her and instantly he was gone.

She didn’t even have time to try and evade him now even though she was free. Strong hands grasped her knees and pulled her legs apart and his mouth was on her before she’d done more than grab the bed cover to pull herself up. He speared up inside her and she fell back on the pillow and arched up as the mind numbing pleasure whipped across her nerves, inside and out.

“Oh God, that’s not fair” she panted out and ended with a wail when he increased the pace, notching the pleasure higher and jolting her body with charged lust that she was powerless to resist.

He didn’t answer the charge, but simply came up on his knees and cupped her buttocks with his hands, keeping her too high to do more than thrash on the bed with her shoulders and arms, leaving him free to do what he wanted. He thrust into her vagina, teasing her sensitive passage with his roughness and biting into the soft skin surrounding it with blunt teeth.

God, it was like being devoured, she could feel the hot rush of fluid that was her body’s response and he drank it in. He spread the slick heat all over her sex with his tongue, circling and lathing her, between the folds and up around her pulsing clitoris, red and swollen now and begging for his attention.

“Still want me to stop”? He asked tauntingly, but with a hard edge of strain evident in his rough edged voice.

“Don’t you dare stop” she gasped out between moans and her head fell back further as her back bowed under the lash of intense sexual pleasure. “Kiss me” she demanded and he knew she didn’t mean on the lips.

He did and the top of her head felt it might come off as the pleasurable jolts became a shockwave, the instant his lips fastened ravenously around her clitoris. He sucked it into his mouth and latching on, flicked it with his tongue. She gasped when he bit down on it with ruthless care, and became lost again in a world where pain and pleasure mingled together in a swirling mass of dark shooting pleasure.

When he was sure she was too aroused to think of fighting him, he lowered her back down to the bed and pushed two fingers inside her. He lapped hungrily at the creamy juice of her arousal and fingered her hard at the same time, thrusting heavily and twisting his fingers to abrade those inner walls with each tormenting plunge.

She writhed and bucked against him and cries of wanton lust fell unnoticed from her kiss swollen lips as the flames of arousal got hotter and hotter, spreading the inferno throughout her heaving body. He pushed her higher and higher towards orgasm, and soon the tension inside her was almost ready to burst. Her eyes were tightly shut and lights danced before her eyes, she clenched the bed cover convulsively and arched her back into his tormenting hand as he left her to sit up and watch.

Her legs were spread and knees bent on either side of him, while he supported himself on one hand, planted firmly on the bed beside her right leg and dark eyes fired with lust explored the damp curls and moist pink skin of her exposed sex. His lips were full and sensually curved in a tight smile as he watched his fingers coated with her slick liquid, plunge repeatedly inside her.

“You’re so hot and wet it makes me ache all over with wanting you” the already deep timbre of his voice was rougher, the sound of it scraping along her body, and making her womb ripple with need. “When you make me angry, all I want to do is fuck you, and when I make you angry I have to”.

Speaking was a physical impossibility now as the velvet threat behind the words registered on her mind and echoed deep inside the most primal parts of her psyche. All thought splintered and fell away as she gave herself up to the erotic promise in those dark as midnight eyes.

He licked his lips and purred in approval when she got wetter and it began to seep out from between his fingers, two became three and she screamed and bucked at the unbearable stretching. Before she could recover from that, she felt his tongue again, caressing the stretched skin around her vagina, and each flick of his tongue left a trail of fire in its wake.

He removed the fingers and ducked back down to suck at her hard, draining and drinking her delicious heat, taking it inside him to coat his greedy mouth and lathing tongue. His hard hands crushed her to him again, removing all possible escape until he’d finished taking and taking.

Streaks of hot pleasure shot out from her core, pulling her into a storm of sensation that made her legs quiver and shake as the pulsing need of her sex screamed for release from the unbearable tension. She felt and heard the deep throaty growl vibrate against her sex and then screamed as everything exploded inside her at the feel of those ridges and the whisper of sharp fangs between her trembling thighs.

Her head whipped from side to side in reflexsive denial of the immediate orgasm that was just too strong, and her heels dug into the bed as she tried to draw back and up, but their was simply no escaping him. Every nerve ending sizzled in an agony of knowledge that at any moment the ecstasy could be transformed into agony. But that only increased the dark twisty pleasure as she writhed and undulated under him.

His fangs didn’t pierce her delicate skin but he mercilessly consumed everything she could give. The hot sticky fluid dripped into his mouth, making him ache with the need to claim her. His erection pressed painfully against his pants making him restless for freedom from the constriction of clothes.

Finished, drained and replete she lay back and watched with half closed dazed eyes as he stripped. Anger was forgotten, transformed into something that burned brighter and hotter and the embers of it still flickered inside her throbbing loins.

He didn’t bother with buttons but simply tore the offending material of him and attacked his zipper, like her he hadn’t bother getting completely dressed and only had the pants to get rid of before he was finally naked. She realised at the same time he did that she was still wearing the t-shirt and between them they yanked it over her head, and she fell back to the pillows with his mouth greedily latched to one tightly budded nipple and his cock already deep inside her.

He groaned loudly and retracted his fangs, returning his face to human, still rational enough to not want to hurt her and knowing his self-control was at a premium now. The plump sweet flesh of her succulent breast was an indulgence he could hardly afford as he felt his control slip down another level but mindlessly he continued to tug and scrape the hot turgid tip inside his mouth.

He squirmed as the heated tingles surged through him and ground his pelvis into hers, massaging her body with his hard muscular length inside and out, as he rocked himself into her tight clenching loins like he could join them into one. The feel of her underneath him, her curves moulding to his larger frame with sweet welcome was driving him insane. Her scent surrounded him and every supernatural sense he possessed howled with the need for more, to get closer, consume and love her.

Cordelia could only hang on as he surged frantically over and into her, her hands clutched his shoulders as he drove his hard throbbing length repeatedly deep inside her, filling and stretching her to such an extent that she sobbed with the hard unyielding pressure of it, and yet at the same time the pleasure was so intense she wanted to beg for him to go harder, faster anything to bring on the climax that hovered just out of reach.

She heard him pant and the groans that seemed to be torn from his throat as he strived for control. A hard shudder wracked through him. Oh god- he’s losing it was the only single thought that penetrated the steadily thickening haze of passion that fogged her mind and jolted her senses. She wrapped her fingers round his jaw and pulled him to her so she could kiss him, darting her tongue inside to taste and torment his with swirling caresses.

She tasted herself on him, that and the dark intoxicating taste that was purely him. Entranced she enticed his tongue into her own mouth so that she could suck on it, mimicking going down on him and making him groan louder. The vibration of it passed from him to her and she speared her fingers into his dark hair to keep him there, as the need for more than just a taste gripped her fiercely.

He levered up on both hands and feasted on her mouth while she did the same, in a dance of mating tongues that was matched by his wild, stormy thrusts. His hands clenched the bed like hers had done, only his fingers dug through the covers and into the mattress, ripping it and bringing it up with each wild plunging stroke into her silky depths.

She wrenched her lips from his to take in air to her starving lungs and dizzily felt his lips trail over her jaw towards her neck. She wrapped her legs around his hips and her arms under his to clutch his smooth muscular back. Clinging on she felt his pace increase as he pounded into her so fast she could hardly feel one thrust end before another began in an endless possession that stretched and filled her, pulling her deeper into a whirlpool of dark sinful desire.

Oblivion beckoned as the rush of sensations grew stronger. She didn’t feel the bucking of the bed underneath her or hear the crash of the bedhead against the wall. She did hear his frenzied panting growls and felt a piercing joy that finally he was going to do it. He pulled them both up, with one arm around her back until he was sitting back on his haunches, with her legs still wrapped around his hips. He crushed her to him so that she was pressed all along his front with her head turned aside. Baring her neck to his ravening mouth.

He nuzzled the tender skin, drawing the sweet blood closer to the surface until his head swam dizzily with the intoxicating scent of life. She started to come the instant his fangs pierced the skin of her throat and she felt the erotic suckle of his mouth, drawing out her blood. She bucked over him, riding his engorged shaft as he drank from her in carnal abandon, helpless to do anything other than ride the storm of a staggering climax.

Stunned, shaken to her core and still reeling from the intimacy of being invaded by him in every way, she could do nothing other than simply hold on and trust that he would be able to stop before he drained her completely. Her hands lovingly stroked and kneaded the muscles on his back and neck, soothing herself with the feel of his powerful body underneath her palms and buttocks as he relentlessly surged inside her.

Impossibly quick and before she’d even come down from the last release the tension started to ripple and pulsed inside her again. Soon thick words of shameless pleading blended together with his purring growls. He retracted his fangs, leaving the wounds to seep sullenly with her blood, which he lapped up before returning with open mouthed sucking kisses to draw out more.

Her encircling arms dug into his hard back and her nails scored the smooth skin as the building spirals of liquid heat pooled deep in her core again, draining her every bit as much as his mouth on her jugular. He kneaded both sides of her breasts, plumped out from being pressed to close to his hard chest and then travelled down her sides, following the curve of belly and hips which he then gripped in his hands to lift her up and almost off him.

His throbbing tip was still inside her, a hot promise that he fulfilled simply by slamming her down and thrusting up simultaneously. She screamed as he stabbed impossibly deep making her convulse down as another pinnacle loomed. He ignored her scream and his hands continued to forcefully slide her up and down on his impaling shaft.

Not content with that he kneeled up straight and lifting his face from her neck, he growled a command to hold tight. Then he enveloped her within his arms and flexed his hips in a hammering rhythm. His whole body throbbed and trembled under the strain of holding off the orgasm that threatened to erupt at any second. He arched up and they began to topple back to the bed as her quivering passage seized his cock, squeezing and milking him with her orgasm.

He gripped the headboard in a last single moment of sanity to avoid crushing her with his weight while he bucked over and into her, as she lay exhausted and trembling underneath his heaving body. The wood splintered under his hands and finally, powerless to stop it, he spilled his seed, drenching her womb before utterly drained he collapsed on top of her.


…THE END…


NOTE: Apologies just realised I dropped the ball with Cathy – so I’m currently collecting opinions on whether to just add a short epilogue or, do a full epilogue and add the original smut scene I was going to do at the end, before I changed my mind 😉

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