He stared down at the copy of the Bible that his mother had given him before she'd died. A faded, ripped, paperback copy from the dime store...but she had treasured it more than broken promises of pearls or diamonds. She had always told him it held the answers to all his problems. That it could heal the bruises that blackened her eyes and the hatred for Pa that had blackened his heart. That it was the key to remembering how to love.
Lindsey had simply nodded and smiled at her. Kissing her weathered cheek lightly. Never letting on that he didn't believe.
And now here he was, his chair facing out into the night that he would never own, the city that would never be his no matter how many promises Holland made. He had been sitting in much the same position for almost a week. Since he'd turned tail and run from Angel Investigations. And the small book on his lap seemed to be the only thing that was still real. It wasn't attached to Wolfram&Hart with invisible strings. It had no magic, no supernatural powers. It had no pictures of dark-haired avengers like his favorite childhood comics or his dreams.
It was just a book.
And he flipped it open, letting the browned pages fan across his palm until his thumb stopped the parade.
His eyes flitted down to the lucky page, the lucky verse under his fingers that would, presumably, offer some great piece of wisdom.
"I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me."
Song of Solomon, 7:10.
As the book fell from his hands and the bitter laughs spilled from his throat, he wondered what it meant to have Angel's desire toward him.
And he wondered how you could remember to love if you had never actually forgotten.
Seven days...seven nights.
Cordelia had finished decorating the warehouse, covering the walls with a classy combination of modern and Renaissance art, the floors with plush, wine red carpet and a few Persian rugs, and even throwing up dividers between a cozy reception area and three offices. Wesley had spent the time organizing all their resources, cataloging all the scrolls and books that had survived the fire and creating a small library.
Seven days...seven nights.
He hadn't slept.
He hadn't fed.
He had barely moved.
There had even been a minor earthquake as he sat slumped on his couch and when Cordelia had come downstairs and shrieked over the cracks in the cement floors, he had been shocked to notice the fissures that his unseeing eyes had somehow missed before.
Seven days...seven nights.
And Lindsey hadn't returned.
Not that Angel could blame him.
What was happening to him?
This slow journey into madness...this spiral into Hell. The dance of the predator, the scent of prey. Had it truly begun this summer...when he'd stalked a poor three-legged kitten into an alley? Or had this always been inside him? Angelus. Simmering beneath his skin. Urging him to taste blood and defeat and submission on a mortal's mouth. To break the defiant...to conquer Slayers and poets and attorneys...to bend them all to his will and make them his own.
He had spoken to Lindsey of love...quoted to him "love thy enemy as thyself." And the young man had gone running...had run from the terror of the truth. But was this love? Or was this obsession?
And was that the true terror?
Angel was suddenly glad he didn't have a reflection.
He was fairly certain a mirror would give him a face he no longer recognized.
Who was he? A vampire with a soul who saved lives? A demon without conscience who took what he wanted? Or a man who simply wanted to wake up every morning staring into a pair of haunting blue eyes and kissing a cynical smile? Was he a savior...a beast...or a lover? Could he be all three? Could he choose?
Or was it too late?
"You followed me into that alley...an' you came into my bed...and now you're here...because it gets you off. You feel all high and mighty, don'tcha? Makes you feel like you're in your evil prime again, doesn't it?"
"Ah do not love you! Ah cain't love you!"
"You're a monster, Angel."
Lindsey was right. He was a monster. Had always been a monster. Would always be a monster. He was Angel...he was Angelus...he was Liam. There was no separating his lives. Not anymore. He couldn't save and stalk and dream and pretend none of it was connected...that one part wouldn't touch or soil another.
How could he expect Lindsey to not be afraid? To not feel cornered and forced and victimized when that was exactly what he had intended his quarry to feel? And how could he expect Lindsey to know that he wasn't just quarry...that he was more...when Angel couldn't even accept it himself? When Angel couldn't admit it...because admitting this was more than a dirty little secret would mean changing his self-definition. A hero with flaws. A demon with loves. A man with wants.
Until he could accept who he was...how could he expect anyone else to?
He slowly pushed off the couch, feeling the cool concrete shock the soles of his bare feet into moving towards the freight lift.
As the elevator rattled and brought him upwards, he wondered if the right words would come when he faced Wesley and Cordelia. If he would be able to make them understand what he could barely comprehend himself.
And he wondered what they would say when he told them he was in love with Lindsey McDonald, the enemy.
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