When Light Turns to Dark
Angel stumbled away from Buffy's house, fighting this new demon for control. The demon surged from all sides, engulfing him in blackness, forcing him to his knees.
"Give in," the demon whispered in his mind. "Remember..."
He stalked his prey with the stealth and grace innate in the fiercest predators. He allowed his quarry to see fleeting glimpses of the malignancy that lurked in the deepest shadows of this night. Wild imaginings spurred his chosen to an accelerated pace which was no match for such evil phantasms come to life. The fear emanating from her only served to excite his now inflamed desires. In one swift motion, he seized her from behind and pulled her into a dark, dank alleyway. She struggled and tried to scream, but the vise lock his arm created across her chest made breathing impossible and pinned her against him in a most intimate way. Her panic became tangible, threatening to crush her. She felt his breath on her neck and began to cry, pleading hysterically for her very existence. Her cries went unheeded. He nuzzled her pale slender neck, scenting the warm life flowing there. His features contorted, his fangs elongating in anticipation. The frenzy of the hunt was upon him. His victim lurched forward when she felt the demonic tongue against her oversensitive skin. He traced a path along her neck, pausing over the small powerful point which echoed the throbbing need within him. In a single heartbeat, Angel plunged his razor sharp fangs into her hidden veins. Feeling her renewed struggles against this violation, he savagely forced his fangs deeper into her flesh, rapaciously sucking away her life's blood. The scent of death urged him to the climax of his bloodlust. Angel tore his fangs viciously from the young woman's neck, as she exhaled her final breath. The still warm corpse of his exsanguinated prey hit the alley street with an audible thud. He turned her over, to look into her lifeless eyes.
"Now find the warrior child and take her," the demon voice coaxed.
"NOOOO!!!" came Angel's cry, dark and primal. He raised himself up and stumbled blindly, trying to distance himself from the unbidden memories which threatened his very soul.
Buffy heard Giles and Xander as she neared the mansion. If they were here, it meant they hadn't found Angel either. She moved closer to the muffled voices, Willow and Oz close behind.
"No luck, Giles. Total bust," Buffy announced, as she approached the duo, her tone laced with worry.
"The Bronze was a bust, too," Xander added.
"Now what?" Oz asked.
"The best course of action would be to reconnoiter around the mansion." Giles turned to Buffy. "This is where you first saw this creature, yes?" Giles queried.
"Yeah, it was here, but I couldn't really see it. It was like my eyes slid away from it."
"Hmmm, yes, quite interesting." His eyes lost their focus for a short while, until Buffy cleared her throat. Giles noticed their pointed looks. "Yes, interesting, but we need more to go on. Shall we?" Giles gestured to their surroundings, indicating that they should spread out. "Do you all have torches?"
"Hey, the Scooby gang always comes prepared," Xander answered, pulling a flashlight out of his jacket pocket. The others followed suit.
"All right, then." Giles gazed intently at each member of the party, trying to instill caution. "I don't need to remind you all to be extremely careful."
"We're all over caution," Willow assured the ex-Watcher.
The group split up, each taking a cardinal point on the compass to explore. Giles moved into the mansion. He needed to prepare for Angel's eventual arrival. Dawn would break in a little over two hours, and Giles wanted to ensure that their trap could be sprung with speed and efficiency. He pulled open the burlap bag and extracted the set of heavy chains and shackles. Surveying the room by the combined light of the moon and the fire, Giles spied a set of chains already hanging from a brace close by the hearth. A careful inspection of the ornate brackets assured Giles that they were serviceable and secure. He arranged the shackles on the floor beneath the hanging chains. Reaching into the bag once more, Giles retrieved the miniature tranquilizer gun he had slipped in surreptitiously. Each dart contained a small amount of Holy Water, not quite enough to disintegrate but of a sufficient quantity to incapacitate a vampire. The effects would be short-lived, but acute. The actual capture would be a close call. Of course, killing a vampire was an easy matter--or relatively easy--for the Slayer. But Angel had to be restrained, not destroyed. There was a small voice at the back of Giles' mind, prodding him to take revenge for Jenny's murder, but he remembered the look of anguish on Buffy's face, the tremor in her voice when she thought Angel was lost to her forever, and he found that his own pain had to take a backseat to hers. He checked his preparations one last time, tucking the tranquilizer pistol into his jacket pocket before moving outside in response to a call from Oz.
Xander was hunkered down on his heels alongside Oz, examining a patch of ground that was withered and sere. Giles switched on his own torch and added more light to the yellow pool already illuminating the area.
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden die?" Xander quipped.
The area of death was well-delineated, curving around and including the bushes and wildflowers that grew below the picture window, then stretching in a path towards the trees for about thirty feet. A rabbit and a starling lay cold on the ground, the rabbit's eyes wide and sightless, the bird's wings stiffened in an attitude of panicked flight. A fetid scent of decay lingered heavily on the air, not unlike that of a charnel house.
"This is fairly gagsome. Giles, any ideas?"
"Possibly. You said this creature was black?" he questioned Buffy.
"Pitch," she confirmed.
"Giles, share? Is this thing a vampire?"
"I'll need to consult my books to make certain, but I believe we are dealing with a different breed of vampire, and a quite dangerous one, to be sure."
"Not as dangerous as this vampire," a rough voice announced behind them. Angel stood mostly in the shadows, but his face, made harsh by the demon within, loomed balefully in the moonlight.
Buffy whirled, turning the movement into a roundhouse kick that connected solidly with Angel's face. He rocked back, stunned, but recovered with amazing speed. Buffy ducked beneath the haymaker offered in return, taking a precious moment to assure herself that her friends were out of harm's way, before moving in quickly with a one-two punch to the solar plexus. Angel fell to his knees, doubled over his gut. In a moment he was straightening up, already climbing to his feet.
"Buffy, down!" Giles called out sharply.
Instinctively trusting her erstwhile Watcher, Buffy hit the ground and rolled a split second before she heard the sharp retort of a pistol, followed by two more. The muted thunk-thunk-thunk and a sizzling pop echoed in her ears as the three darts found their intended target. Angel howled in pain and reached up to pull the darts out of his chest, but Xander tackled the weakened vampire to the ground, and Oz quickly affixed the heavy manacles he had fetched from the mansion, trapping Angel's arms behind his back and hobbling his legs. The other members of the group looked at Oz in surprise.
"I have a lot of experience," he explained a bit sheepishly. Willow took his hand and squeezed. Oz smiled in return, grateful for her understanding.
"Yes, well, good enough," Giles temporized. Angel's renewed thrashing spurred action. "Come, we must secure him inside. The sun will be up soon, and the effects of the darts are ephemeral."
Giles, Xander and Oz hefted Angel in their arms, taking care to keep away from his distended fangs. The vampire released a continual feral growl, punctuated by groans of agony. They dumped him like a sack of potatoes on the floor beneath the chains. Angel tried scrambling after them, but Buffy pinned him to the floor while his shackles were attached to the overhead chains. Once Angel was effectively leashed, Buffy moved back, pulling the others a safe distance away. Angel continued to tug at the restraints, but the pain of the Holy Water poisoning his blood combined with the imminent sunrise, sapped his strength. He lay still, panting, an occasional groan escaping his lips. Buffy knelt beside him and smoothed the hair from his forehead.
"Well, the votes are in: life is officially unfair," Xander muttered disgustedly under his breath. "I need to get myself possessed."
Giles walked over to Buffy's side and lifted her up from the floor. "You must be careful, Buffy. He is deadly. It is always thus when light turns to dark."
"Giles, I know you still don't trust him, but Angel would never hurt any of us unless some baddie was inside of him forcing the issue."
"He is a baddie, Buffy. He's a vampire," Xander pointed out.
"He has a soul!"
"Out to lunch, in case you haven't noticed."
"Xander, Buffy, that is enough. We need to help Angel, and we can't do it by standing here arguing." Giles turned to Willow. "I'll need your help, if you're amenable. The rest of you, I think it's best you put an appearance in at home. I'll see you at school later on."
"I'll stay here for awhile."
"I'm staying, Giles," Buffy cut him off sharply. "I'll be careful, I promise," she said more softly, after seeing the worried look on his face.
"Very well. I see I cannot change your mind. Try not to miss your classes." Giles waited for acknowledgement, then nodded and gathered up the others with a glance.
The big library table was covered with books, whose cracked and worn bindings classified them as ancient texts. Giles was reading several at once, laboring over a few particularly obtuse passages in Aramaic. Willow had multiple browser windows open on her laptop, researching the demon on the 'net.
"We have a winner!" she crowed with delight, startling Giles. He raised his head and listened while she read from the screen. "According to this site, the vampire demon's name is Talabimacha. 'Black in appearance, this female vampire demon can possess another being and make it its servant. Through possession, she can keep a channel open and feed on the victim's life-force. She evokes evil (is actually attracted to it) and awakens lust in men. She is the personification of man's vices. Her touch brings death to living things. She is powerful, but her powers are at their peak during the night. She needs full dark to function. Her power and influence wane during the day.'"
"That certainly does sound like our newest 'friend,'" Giles opined. "I knew this demon sounded familiar." He rooted through the piles of books on the table and plucked up a particularly well-worn volume. "According to ancient lore, we are dealing with a malevolent force, one with very little documented success of thwarting."
"In other words, gulp."
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