Author's Note: This story is a crossover that a fan asked me to write. It's a cross between Angel and As the World Turns. What's that? You think that's crazy? Well, when I first heard that crossover choice, I laughed and laughed. But then because it was such an odd mix, the idea kept sticking in my brain until I found a way to make it believable to myself. The story takes place three months after the last episode of ATWT, and three years after the end of the series Angel. Written December 2010.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and I am not making any money from these stories.
Warning: Graphic Slash. Cracky crossover choice.
Here are a couple of images that were created for this story by the fan who wanted it written. Thanks Sara!
LUST AT FIRST SIGHT
It had been three months. Three months since the man he loved had been hit by a train and killed. Luke looked out at the crowd of people who had come to see the opening of the new neurology wing of the hospital. He scanned for Noah's face in the crowd hoping, but not expecting, to see him there. But he did see many friends and family, who were there to support him.
Dr. Bob Hughes finished his speech, and introduced Luke. Luke stood up at the podium, and glanced down at the index cards he'd brought with him to help him through the speech. The three months had given him some time to mourn for Reid, and he considered this event a way to close that chapter of his life. Reid would always be a part of him, but it was time to move on. He cleared his voice, and told the crowd about all the love and devotion Dr. Reid Oliver had put into the design of this wing of the hospital.
Later that night, when a tired Luke finally arrived home, he immediately checked the phone messages and then his email. His mom came out from the kitchen and said, "Luke, I didn't hear you come in."
He kept his eyes on his laptop and said, "I just got home."
She walked over and rubbed his shoulder. "How are you doing?"
"I have a really bad feeling that something is wrong."
"With the neuro wing?" she asked.
"No, with Noah."
"Have you talked to him since he went to L.A.?"
Lilly said, "I've left him a couple of messages, but I haven't gotten through to him. Haven't you talked to him?"
"I talked to him once when he first got there, but then I was so busy with the hospital
Lilly leaned down to wrap her arms around him, and rested her head on his shoulder so they were both looking at the laptop. "I'm sure Noah understands."
"But that's just it mom. Now I can't get a hold of him at all. I called him a few days ago to invite him to come see my speech, and his cell phone was disconnected."
Lilly stood so she could see Luke's face. "That's odd."
Luke nodded, and stood up to pace. "I know, and that's not all. I've tried to email him, but his email address comes back invalid."
"Have you tried to contact the people he was working on his film with."
"I tried a couple of them, but haven't reached anyone."
With concern in her voice, Lilly said, "Maybe you're right to be worried. What can I do to help?"
"I don't know why, but I can't shake this feeling that something really bad has happened. I'm going to book a flight to L.A., and do some more investigating."
"That seems a little drastic, don't you think?"
"Maybe, but I can't help it. I just need to go see for myself that he's okay."
Shaking her head, Lilly said, "But what if something bad did happen? I don't want you getting in the middle of it by yourself. I'll come with you."
Luke smiled at her fondly, "Thanks, Mom, that's really sweet of you, but the kids need you here. I'll be fine."
Lilly snapped her fingers and sat down in front of Luke's laptop. Confused, Luke said, "What are you up to?"
Instead of answering, she typed some information into the computer. After a few seconds, she turned the laptop for him to see. It was a list of Private Investigators in the Los Angeles area. "You want me to hire a Private Investigator?"
"Why not? They can help you find Noah, and then I won't have to worry about you out there investigating things on your own and getting in over your head."
He hedged, "I don't know Mom
Looking down the list, a name caught Lilly's eye. She pointed to it. "Here, look at this one."
"Angel Investigations?" Luke read.
"Who better to call then an angel to help you find Noah."
He sighed and said, "You're not going to give up on this are you?"
"I won't be able to sleep while you're gone, if I think you're out there on your own."
She held out the phone to him, and he dialed the number. After a brief conversation with a man named Gunn, Luke had an address and a time to met the team once he arrived in L.A.
# # #
It had been three years. Three years since Angel had started a war with Wolfram and Hart. And just three months ago, both sides had finally called a truce, knowing the fight couldn't be won. Good couldn't exist without evil, and vice versa. The law firm was still standing, and so was Angel Investigations, though both were in different buildings now.
Angel got out of the shower, and heard the familiar sounds of Connor and Spike having a good-natured argument in the kitchen. He closed his eyes and savored the moment. There had been so many close calls, and they'd lost so many friends. It was good to be grateful for the family he had left.
Connor's voice was full of humor, "Dude, that's gross!"
"Gross? This isn't gross. Gross is a Welnar demon after decapitation. This is just
Angel could almost see the smirk on Spike's face.
"I can't believe you actually swallowed that!" Connor said.
Angel got dressed, and looked out the window at the bright sun. Every time he looked through the specially tinted windows of his huge house, he thought of Wesley. After things had settled down from the first battle, Angel found out that Wesley had named him as the beneficiary in his will. He'd been shocked, until he read the short note of apology that went with it. I hope someday you can forgive me for the sorrow you and Connor had to endure because of my misguided actions. He'd also been shocked by the huge sum of money that had come his way, but it had given him enough money to buy a specially constructed house of his own.
Angel headed to the kitchen. As soon as Spike saw him, he said, "Angel, tell your spawn that eating the eyeball of an Aharna will give him a vision of his future."
Angel looked at the blue orb in Spike's hand, and rolled his eyes. "First off, Aharna demons have white eyes, and second, eating one won't give you visions."
Spike scowled and muttered, "Shoulda known you wouldn't play along."
Angel smiled at Connor, "Morning."
"Morning was a few hours ago, Dad," Connor said, smiling back.
"How was class?"
Angel got some blood out of the refrigerator to microwave. "Ready for the final next week?"
Turning to Spike, Angel said, "Has Gunn called?"
Spike shook his head. Angel sighed and turned to Connor. "Are you sure you set up the website right? We've only had a couple of calls since we opened."
Connor shrugged. "Nothing's wrong with the website. It probably has more to do with Wolfram and Hart."
Before Angel could respond, the phone rang. Angel answered, and smiled when Gunn told him they had a case. Half an hour later, Angel, Spike, and Connor popped into the office from the sewer entrance, and started working on trying to find Noah Mayer.
# # #
It was dusk when Luke arrived at the modest looking office with the words, Angel Investigations, on the glass door. He went in, and saw a guy behind the front desk who appeared to be his age. "Hi, I'm Luke Snyder, I have an appointment."
The guy stood and held out his hand, "Hi. I'm Connor Reilly. Nice to meet you."
After they shook, Connor turned to the back offices and called, "He's here."
Gunn and Spike came out at the same time from different offices. Connor pointed to Gunn first and said, "That's Charles Gunn, you spoke with him on the phone earlier."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Gunn." Luke said while they shook hands.
"Nice to meet you too, and it's just Gunn."
Connor nodded towards Spike and said, "This is Spike."
Luke raised an eyebrow at the name. "Spike?"
"That's right." Spike said as they shook, and added, "Angel's just printing out some information, and then we can all go to the conference room and go over the leads we have so far."
"You already have leads?" Luke was impressed.
Gunn smiled. "We're hoping you can help us figure out which lead to follow first."
Angel came out of his office a few seconds later, and made eye contact with Luke.
Luke's pupils dilated, and his heart rate went up when he saw Angel. The instant attraction he felt for the man was unsettling. The only other time he'd felt something so strong, was the first time he'd met Noah. He'd grown to love Reid, but that had not been a case of love at first sight. Trying to cover his desire, Luke smiled and held his hand out towards Angel, "Hi, I'm Luke Snyder."
Angel, Spike, and Connor could all see, smell, and hear the lust coming from Luke. Spike rolled his eyes. He'd seen many women, and a few men, react to Angel this way over the years. Connor wrinkled his nose in distaste. He didn't want to think of anyone attracted to his father.
In the past, Angelus had used the attraction people felt for him against them. He'd lured many women, and a few men, away from public areas, had his way with them, and then eaten them. Because of this, Angel had one of two reactions to these people now. If they were aggressive about their attraction, he'd be annoyed, and firmly rebuke them. But if they were quiet or shy about it, he couldn't stop himself from feeling protective of them, unconsciously trying to make up for the times he'd hurt others. Angel knew from experience that if he spent enough time with that person, his feelings could grow into something more, and tried to avoid that.
Angel smiled politely and shook Luke's hand. "Nice to meet you Luke. I'm Angel."
Luke pulled his hand away first, not wanting to accidentally linger in the touch. Feeling flushed, and flustered, Luke turned back to Spike and said, "Spike here was saying you already had a couple of leads on Noah."
Angel gestured to the conference room and said, "I'll show you what we have so far."
Once everyone was sitting, Angle opened the file they'd started on Noah, and handed Luke pieces of paper as he spoke. "Here is a print out of the passenger list for the flight Noah took from Oakdale to L.A. Look it over to see if you recognize any of the other names."
They gave Luke a few minutes to read through the names. He shook his head, "I don't."
Angel took the page back, and handed Luke a few more. "This is a copy of Noah's credit card transactions for the past three weeks. As you can see, he used his card several times a day, but then four days ago it just stops."
Luke looked over the pages. There were hand written notes about each of the transactions, with names and addresses of each business, and a short description of what kind of establishment it was.
While Luke was looking it over, Angel said, "The last thing he bought was a beer at a local nightclub. We were going to start there tonight, unless something else on that list strikes you as odd."
"Actually the nightclub seems odd. Noah didn't drink much, and he wasn't the kind of guy to go out and party." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Luke realized he could be wrong. That was true of Noah when they were together, but a lot of time had passed since then. He said, "Or at least, that's the way he used to be."
Angel handed him a couple more pages and said, "This is a list of all the calls to and from his cell phone for the past three weeks, which also stops four days ago. Do any of the names or numbers seem odd to you?"
Luke looked it over. There were hand written names next to each phone number. He saw that his mother had called Noah every Friday, and smiled softly. "This one is my mom."
Connor handed him a pen and said, "Write that next to her name, and put notes next to any of the names you know."
Luke was surprised at the number of names he knew were from Oakdale, and as that number grew, so did his guilt. He'd been so wrapped up in his own grief over Reid, that he hadn't kept in touch with Noah, when so many of his friends had. Once he was done, he handed the list back to Angel.
Angel scanned it, and then handed the list to Gunn. "When we're done here, look up the rest of the names, and find out everything you can about them." Turning back to Luke, he said, "Okay, that's all we have so far. We were going to start doing some legwork next, but first I'd like to get some information from you, to help us know where to start."
"Okay." Luke sat forward, eager to help.
"How long have you known Noah?"
"How did you meet?"
"We were both interns at WOAK television."
"What is the nature of your relationship with Noah."
Luke's eyes lost focus, thinking back over his relationship with Noah. "I guess we're more like family than friends now. We started out as friends." Lost in his thoughts, Luke trailed off.
Angel said, "I'll need a little more detail than that."
Luke focused on Angel again, and said, "We were in love. We were together for more then two years."
Gunn made a soft noise of surprise.
Ignoring Gunn, Angel continued, "Why did you break up?"
"He broke up with me. He'd been injured in an explosion, and blamed me for it. During his recovery, he pushed me away. I moved on with my life. Once he was fully recovered, he wanted to start up our relationship again, but I was already with someone else."
"When was the last time you spoke to him?"
"A few days after he left Oakdale."
Spike said, "Why are you looking for him now?"
"Originally I called to invite him to a speech I was making, but then when I couldn't get in touch with him, I was worried. Noah doesn't have any living relatives, so my family became his family when we were together, and that didn't go away just because we broke up. My folks are just as worried about him as I am."
Angel said, "Is there anyone who would want to harm Noah?"
Luke shook his head no. "Noah is a good guy. Everyone liked him. He doesn't have any enemies that I know of."
Angel said, "Okay then, we'll start with the bar where Noah made his last purchase, unless you think we should start somewhere else."
"What about his apartment?"
Gunn said, "I was already there earlier today. Manager hasn't seen or heard from him in four days. I talked him into letting me into the apartment. It had been cleared out. No clothes, no personal items, even the garbage had been emptied."
"Wow, that was fast," Luke said. "Then I guess the bar sounds like the best place to start."
"Okay, then that's all we need for now." Angel stood, indicating that the meeting was over, and everyone else stood as well. He looked at Luke and said, "The office opens at nine o'clock tomorrow morning. Call Gunn when you wake up, and we'll let you know what we've found."
"What?" Luke hadn't been expecting that. "No, I'm coming with you. That's why I came to town, to help find him."
Angel shook his head. They had no idea what had happened to Noah, and he didn't want to put Luke in harms way. "That's not the way it works Mr. Snyder. We work the case, and then give you the information."
Luke scoffed, "I'm paying you, so it works however I tell you it works."
Angel glared, not liking Luke's tone. "You may be used to throwing your money at people and making them do what you want, but that won't work on me. I don't need your money, and I don't need this case. If you want me to help you find Noah, you do it my way."
Overwhelmed by the intensity of Angel's glare, Luke swallowed hard. The attraction he felt for Angel was still there, but there was an edge of fear mixed in with it now. He changed his tone from one of authority, to one of simple honesty. "I'm not going to sit around in some hotel room while you look for Noah. If you won't take me with you, I'll go by myself. I don't have the willpower to do nothing when someone I love could be in danger."
Angel's glare softened, and he considered it. Before he could decide, Spike said, "Fine you can come."
Angel growled at Spike. Luke's eyes opened wide with surprise at the slightly inhuman nose Angel was making, and found himself taking a step back.
Not intimidated in the least, Spike waved Angel off. "Shut it Angel. You know it could be helpful."
Reluctantly, Angel said, "Fine, you can come, but while we're there, you do what I tell you to do without question. Got it?"
Luke nodded, unable to make a verbal response while Angel was staring into his eyes in such a demanding way.
Connor said, "You want me to stay with Gunn and help run names, or come with you?"
Angel broke eye contact with Luke and said, "Come with."
Gunn said, "I'm going home to run names. I'll call you if anything unusual pops up."
Angel nodded, and said to Spike, "Show Mr. Snyder to the car, we'll be right there."
Luke said, "Call me Luke," and followed Spike out the door.
Once Connor and Angel were alone, Angel said, "You stick with Luke tonight. Keep an eye on him while Spike and I try to get information. I have a bad feeling about this, and I don't want him getting hurt."
Scrutinizing his father, Connor said, "You're being weird
" Then with some distaste he said, "You don't like him do you? He's a dude!"
" Angel sighed, not knowing where to start. "I like women, but over the years, there have been a few men too."
Confused, and feeling slightly betrayed, Connor said, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I wasn't trying to hide it, it just never came up."
While Connor was thinking that over, Angel said, "But me wanting to protect him has a lot more to do with his attraction to me, than the other way around. I
" Angel had to break eye contact, "Angelus used to love it when someone was attracted to him. The things he used to do to them
I have to make up for that now."
Connor understood better then most. He was deeply ashamed of some of the things he'd done before becoming Connor Reilly, and still felt the need to make up for those acts. He patted his father on the shoulder once and said, "I won't let him out of my sight."
Angel smiled at Connor with both pride and gratitude. "Thanks."
# # #
Half an hour later, Angel pulled up to the nightclub. Angel and Spike exchanged a look as soon as they saw the doorman. This bar catered to vampires. Angel turned to Connor and Luke in the backseat and said, "You two wait in the car while Spike and I check it out."
Connor nodded, but Luke said, "What do you mean wait in the car? That kind of defeats the purpose of coming with you in the first place."
Spike said, "This is a special bar, and it's dangerous. We're gonna check it out first, and if it's safe, we'll come get you."
Connor's eyes narrowed as he scanned the building with his heightened senses. Luke said, "Special bar? What the hell does that mean?"
"It means you stay here," Angel said with finality.
" Luke started to protest, but Angel and Spike were already out of the car, and headed across the street.
Luke turned to Connor and said, "I don't know about you, but I'm not staying in the car."
Connor tried to distract Luke, long enough for his father to check the place out. "Are you even twenty one?"
Frowning, Luke said, "Are you?"
"Let's see your license."
Luke rolled his eyes, dug his driver's license out of his wallet, and handed it to Connor. Connor saw Luke's birth date and chuckled.
"What's so funny?"
"You're exactly one month older then me."
Luke held out his hand for the license and said, "I guess that means we're both twenty one, so let's get in there."
Connor handed it back. "Angel's right. This place is dangerous. We should wait in the car."
Luke shook his head, and opened the car door. Connor put a hand on his arm to stop him, but Luke shrugged him off. Connor wasn't sure if Angel would want him to use brute force to keep Luke in the car or not. He doubted he'd want Luke to know how strong any of them were. So instead of making Luke stay in the car, he said, "Wait up."
The two younger men showed their licenses to the doorman, but he shook his head and said, "Your kind aren't welcome here."
"Our kind?" Luke said. "What do you mean our kind?"
Connor could smell the fresh blood on the large doorman's breath, and reacted without thinking it through. He leaned into the vampire's personal space, and said, "My friend, and I are going in, one way or another."
The doorman leaned down. "If you don't leave right now, I'll make you."
Not wanting Connor to get hurt, Luke got out a wad of cash, and held it out for the doorman. "Will this get us in?"
Before the doorman could answer, Angel opened the door to the club. He frowned in disapproval at the two younger men, and then turned to the doorman. "They're with me."
The doorman stepped aside. Luke started forward, but instead of letting him into the club, Angel stepped out and grabbed Luke's upper arm. "Hey!" Luke protested.
Angel pulled him a few feet away from the door, and Connor followed. Angel roughly pulled Luke close and hissed in his ear, "Put that away!" before letting go.
Luke instantly stuck the money back in his pocket. Caught off guard by Angel's physical touch and intense scrutiny, Luke found his emotions out of sync with his brain. He knew he should be angry about Angel's manhandling, but instead he was pleased with the close contact. He scowled, annoyed with himself, and with Angel.
Angel crossed his arms, and said, "What happened to waiting in the car? What happened to doing what I said if I let you come?"
Luke crossed his arms as well, trying not to let his nervousness show. "I'm going to do everything I can to find Noah, with or without your help."
"You're going to get yourself killed!"
"It's a nightclub, not a deathtrap!"
Trying to placate Angel, Connor said, "You said it was safe right? So let's go see what we can find, and get out of here."
After a tense moment of silence, Angel said, "Fine."
The three of them walked into the club, and Luke instantly felt the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Something was off about this place. It was so dark, he could barley see three feet in front of him. The music was turned down so low, that he wouldn't have been able to hear it if people had been talking, but they weren't. He couldn't even hear people breathing. As he looked around at the faces that were close enough to see, he realized all of their eyes were intently focused on him, and unconsciously took a step closer to Angel.
Spike walked up to them from the darkness, and said, "One level. Two large back bedrooms, an office, and two bathrooms."
Angel nudged Connor towards Spike and said, "Stay together. Luke and I will take the main room, you two take the rest."
Spike and Connor both nodded, and walked towards the back together, shoulder to shoulder. Angel held out Noah's picture to the nearest table of customers and said, "We're looking for this person. Anyone seen him?"
The only woman at the table kept her eyes glued to Luke and said, "I'll give you two hundred for the boy."
Luke had never been intimidated by a woman before, but this woman made him shudder.
Angel leaned down into the woman's face, and made sure his voice was loud enough for the entire room to hear. "He's not for sale." He stuck Noah's picture in her face, "Have you seen him?"
The woman leaned over so she could see Luke around the picture. "Maybe I'll tell you for a small taste."
Angel pounded his fist on the table, and spoke to her in a tone so soft that Luke couldn't hear him. "He's mine, and he's not for sale."
One second Luke was watching Angel's back, and the next he was staring in Noah's eyes. He was so startled by Noah's quick appearance, he took a small step back. As soon as he got over the initial shock, he grabbed Noah in a quick hug. When it wasn't returned, he backed up a step and said, "Noah?"
Spike and Connor came out of the first bathroom, and saw that Luke and Noah were standing next to each other. Spike whispered to Connor, "Looks like Luke has a type. Tall, dark, and broody."
"Ick." Connor muttered, and listened closely to the room. The only heart beating, other then his own, was Luke's. He whispered back, "And vampire."
Spike tuned his ears in to confirm this, and then they both headed over to stand behind Luke.
Noah glared at Luke. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for you. Your email doesn't work, your cell phone is gone, you're not living in your apartment, and you're not working on your film. I was worried about you."
"Go home, Luke."
"What?" Luke tried not to let the hurt show in his voice.
Noah leaned in and said, "Go. Home. Luke."
"What happened to you? Why are you acting like this?"
"Did it ever occur to you that I didn't want to be found? That I wanted to leave my pathetic little life in Oakdale in the past where it belongs?"
"Pathetic?" Luke glared back at Noah. "You have friends and family there who love you, Noah. Oakdale is your home."
"Family? I don't have any family left, Luke, and you know it."
In a soft voice, Luke said, "You can't just turn your back on all the people who care about you."
Luke was at a loss. "What about us?"
"Us?" Noah scoffed. "Are you kidding me? There is no us. Go back to pining for your dead doctor. You know, the one you claimed to love even though you never had the guts to screw him."
Luke felt as though Noah had dealt him a physical blow. "How can you say that to me? Three weeks ago, you told me you still loved me."
Noah rolled his eyes, "Three weeks ago, I was different."
Shaking his head, Luke said, "I don't know what happened to you, but the Noah I know would never be so cruel."
Noah leaned in, so they were almost touching and said, "Let me take you to the back room, and I'll show you exactly how cruel I can be."
Before Luke could respond, Angel stepped in between the two, forcing Noah to take a step back. Luke saw a movement out of the corner of his eye, and realized Spike and Connor were flanking him.
Angel turned his back on Noah, and said gently to Luke, "How about we get out of here?"
Luke didn't trust himself to speak, and simply nodded.
Noah growled low in his throat, and tapped Angel's shoulder. "Hey! We're having a conversation here. Who the hell are you?"
Angel could feel a shift in the bar's atmosphere, and realized that Noah had friends here. Things could get ugly fast. Angel turned to glare at Noah. He decided a lie was in order. "I'm Angelus."
There were a few gasps in the room, and hushed whispers, which made Noah nervous. With a forced look of indifference, Noah said, "You know what? Never mind. Take him. I never want to see his face again."
Luke stopped breathing for a moment, and his eyes filled with unshed tears. Spike put an arm around Luke's shoulders, and said quietly, "Let's go."
Luke nodded, and let Spike lead him out, with Connor following. Once they were gone, Angel said, "If any harm comes to him, I'll make you suffer."
"You guys came looking for me, not the other way around." Noah scoffed.
Angel leaned into Noah's personal space and said, "Be sure it stays that way."
Noah nodded, feeling intimidated, but trying not to let it show.
# # #
When Angel got outside, he saw Connor and Spike leaning against the hood of the car anxiously waiting for him. Luke was already in the back seat, quietly crying. Angel handed the keys to Spike and said, "I'll sit in back." Spike gratefully took the keys. Angel said, "I don't trust Noah. We'll take him home for the night, so we can keep an eye on him until daylight." Spike and Connor nodded in agreement.
Angel opened the backdoor to get in, and saw Luke quickly wipe his face with his hands, trying to compose himself. While Spike and Connor got in, Angel put a gentle hand on Luke's shoulder and said, "I'm sorry."
Luke shook his head, as more tears slipped down his face. "I shouldn't have come."
The car pulled away from the curb. Angel said, "You were worried."
"I was stupid."
Angel fought the urge to pull Luke into a comforting hug. "No you weren't. If someone I was close to went missing, I'd try to find them, too."
Wiping his face again, Luke said, "I thought we were close, but now
It's like he was a completely different person. The things he said to me
" Luke's face twisted in grief.
Angel couldn't take it. He scooted closer to Luke and put an arm around his shoulders. "I know."
Too emotionally worn out to resist, Luke rested his head on Angel's shoulder. He closed his eyes and tried to block everything out. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to relax, and just enjoy the feeling of being held.
At first Angel was surprised when he felt Luke's head on his shoulder, but he was also pleased. Being able to give Luke some comfort made him feel immensely better.
Half an hour later, Spike pulled up to the place they all currently called home, and cut the engine. Luke opened his eyes, and immediately straightened up after looking out the window. "Where are we?"
Angel took his hand off Luke's shoulders, and said, "My house."
"What?" Luke turned to him, "Why?"
"It seemed easier then taking you back to the office, or trying to get you to a hotel at this hour."
" Luke started a protest, but Angel cut him off.
"It's a huge house, with a bunch of rooms that we never use."
Luke considered it. He could barely keep his eyes open as it was. "We?"
"We all live here together. Gunn too. We're more like family then co-workers."
"I don't know if it's a good idea." Luke said.
"You've had a rough night, and we have plenty of room."
Spike left the keys in the ignition, opened his door, and directed his comment to Angel. "If you don't need me to chauffeur anymore, I'd like to get something to eat."
Connor opened his door as well and said, "And I need to get to sleep. I have class at nine tomorrow."
Waving them off, Angel said, "Thanks for the help guys. I've got it covered, one way or another."
Once they were alone, Angel said, "What do you say?"
"If you're sure it's okay."
Angel got out, and pulled Luke's overnight bag out of the trunk. "I'm sure."
Angel gave Luke a short tour of the house. "There's one empty bedroom down here, and three empty bedrooms upstairs. Pick whichever you like, they all have a master bathroom attached. Gunn, Connor, and I stay down here, and Spike sleeps upstairs."
"I'll take the room down here."
Angel handed Luke his bag, and gestured to the empty bedroom. "It's all yours."
Once Luke was alone in the spare room, he sat on the bed, and put his head in his hands. He spent half the night trying to figure out what had happened to the man he thought he had known better then anyone else in the world. He wasn't able to sleep until he'd decided what the next step would be.
# # #
Late the next morning, when Luke woke up, he found the house eerily quiet. Surprised at how long he'd slept, he got in the shower. While he washed, his mind replayed the events of the night before, and he found himself even more determined to find out what had happened to Noah.
When he was done getting ready, Luke went to the living room and called out, "Hello?"
Angel came out of the kitchen holding a cup of coffee. "Morning. There's coffee if you want it."
After spending most of the evening with Angel last night, Luke was surprised at the way his pulse fluttered when he laid eyes on the man this morning. "Sure, coffee sounds good." he said, forcing his eyes away.
Angel smiled softly at Luke's reaction, and walked to the kitchen. He poured Luke a cup, and they sat together at the kitchen table. Luke said, "I'm sorry I slept so late, you could have woken me up."
"It's okay, I'm usually not even up this early. How are you doing today?"
"Better now that I've had some time to think."
"Good. I checked online for flights back to Oakdale. One leaves today at one o'clock." Angel looked at his watch and said, "Connor should be home in about half an hour. He can give you a ride to the airport."
Caught off guard, Luke said, "The airport? I can't just leave. Noah needs me."
"I thought about it for a long time last night, and finally it hit me. The only explanation for Noah's drastic personality change is drugs."
Angel leaned back in his chair, and pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers. "Drugs? He seemed perfectly sober to me."
"You don't know him like I do. The man you met last night, was not the same Noah who left Oakdale three months ago. I don't know what he was on, but I'm going to find out."
"You can't actually be thinking about meeting up with him again after the things he said to you."
"He's not himself. He's hurt and lashing out. I owe it to him to stay here and convince him to get clean."
Angel looked to the ceiling and muttered, "Of all the
" He focused back on Luke and said, "You can't help him."
"I'm not saying it will be easy, but
"No," Angel cut him off, and sat forward in his chair. "He's not on drugs, and you can't help him."
Getting annoyed, Luke said, "How would you know?"
"I just know. If you go to see him again, you'll be putting yourself in danger."
"Danger?" Luke scoffed. "You don't know the first thing about Noah. He would never hurt me."
"He hurt you last night!" Angel hissed.
"Not physically, and he never would."
Angel leaned into Luke's personal space and glared. "You are going to get yourself killed if you go back to that bar. The people there are dangerous, and they will hurt you. You're lucky that you got out of there without getting hurt last night."
Luke forced himself not to lean back in his chair, even though it was difficult. He found it disconcerting to be intimidated and attracted to the man at the same time. "I am going back to that bar to find Noah. If you won't help me, then I'll do it myself."
Angel lost his temper. "You're not going back to that bar, you're getting on an airplane and going home!"
Furious, Luke stood up, fished some hundreds out of his pocket, and slapped them down on the table. "Here's your money! You're fired!"
Angel stood as well, "You're still not going!"
Luke's jaw clenched in anger, "Unless you plan to keep me prisoner here, you can't stop me."
Seeing the truth in this, Angel changed tactics. He sighed and lowered his voice. "You're right. I'm sorry. I just have this overwhelming
desire to keep you safe."
Luke's eyes opened wide with surprise at the word 'desire'. "Oh."
"Look, if you really need to go see Noah again, I'll take you back to the bar tonight. But I'm telling you, you won't like what you find."
"Give me some time to think about it, and I'll let you know."
Angel smiled, "Okay." After an awkward pause, he added, "Can I make you some breakfast?"
Luke shook his head. "Sorry, I don't have time. Since I knew I'd be in L.A. anyway, I scheduled a meeting for this afternoon."
Angel wasn't sure if he believed Luke or not, but nodded, "Okay. Connor could give you a lift if
"No thanks, I'll just call a cab. When the meeting's over, I'll let you know what I've decided."
Frowning, Angel nodded in agreement. Luke pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and called for a cab, looking to Angel when they asked for a pick up address. He hung up, and said, "They'll be here soon."
Luke grabbed his bag, and said, "I'm going to go wait at the curb."
"You don't have to."
"It's okay, I need to call my mom and give her an update anyway." Luke headed to the door and said, "I'll call you later this afternoon."
"Okay." He watched Luke walk to the curb, and then glared up at the sun.
A few minutes after the front door had closed, Spike came down the stairs in his boxers and said, "That went well."
"Shut up," Angel said without anger.
"Ponce." Spike muttered, and went to the kitchen to find some blood.
A few minutes later, Angel overheard Luke talking to his mother. He was shocked to hear Luke tell her that they hadn't found any leads on Noah yet. Luke's lie had been smooth without hesitation, and Angel started to worry. For the next fifteen minutes, Luke's mother did most of the talking while Luke waited for the cab. When the cab pulled up, Luke got off the phone. Angel's hand clenched into a fist when he heard Luke give the cab driver the address to the bar. "Damn it!" He yelled in frustration at the daylight.
Spike gulped the last of the blood in his mug. "Know what your problem is then?"
"I'm not in the mood, Spike." Angel got out his cell phone.
"You can't go around issuing orders anymore. While we were at war with Wolfram and Hart, you shouted out orders, and we followed them without question."
"Without question?" Angel scoffed, while dialing, "When did that happen?"
Spike continued as if Angel hadn't interrupted. "You have to handle things with a little more finesse now."
Angel put the phone to his ear and said, "Get dressed. We've got to go stop him before he gets himself killed."
With a long-suffering sigh, Spike headed upstairs to get dressed.
Connor answered with, "Hey Dad, what's up?"
"Are you out of class?"
"Yeah, I just got in the car."
"I need you to go back to that bar."
"Luke's headed that way to try and find Noah on his own."
"What! Why didn't you stop him?"
"He lied to me about where he was going, and now he's already in the sun and in a cab."
Connor started the car. "I'm on my way, but he's a lot closer then me. Even if I speed, he'll get there ten or fifteen minutes ahead of me."
"I know. Spike and I will try to get there by sewer, but I doubt we'll beat him there either."
Angel turned to call Spike, and found him standing beside him fully dressed.
"Ready?" Spike asked.
"Let's go," Angel said with a small smile. It still surprised him to see Spike not only following his lead, but also doing his best to help. The years of fighting a war together had made their bond stronger, even when they bickered.
# # #
Luke handed the cab driver his fare, and turned to look at the entrance to the bar. He doubted anyone would be there at this time of day, but he had to try. When his first tentative knock was met with silence, he knocked louder. No one answered, and out of frustration, Luke pounded on the door with the side of his fist a few times. He turned to walk away, and heard the door creak open.
Turning at the sound, Luke had to squint into the darkness of the building to see the woman who'd opened the door. She had bleached blond hair, her skin was a sickly pale, and she had dark circles under her eyes. Luke thought she might be in the late stages of cancer.
"Hi, I was looking for a friend of mine. His name is Noah Mayer. He was here last night."
"I'm sorry, I'm just the cleaning lady, and no one else is here. You'll have to come back tonight."
Luke didn't think she was telling the truth. She didn't appear strong enough to do any cleaning, and she was wearing designer clothes. "Do you think I could come in for just a minute and take a look around? See if Noah left anything here?" He saw her frown and quickly added, "I'd only be a minute."
Her eyes darted behind her, and Luke saw fear on her face. She inched out into the sun and pulled the door most of the way closed behind her. Luke thought she looked even more ill in the sunlight. Her sleeve road up as she closed the door, and he caught a glimpse of some scabs near her wrist. She whispered to him urgently, "Don't go in."
"I'm sorry?" He said, confused.
A voice behind her hissed, "Gina!"
The door to the nightclub was open a crack, but Luke couldn't see who was speaking.
Gina nervously smiled at Luke, and changed her tone. "Of course you can come in and take a look. Right this way." She gestured to the door for Luke to go first.
Luke stayed where he was for a moment. He thought about Angel basically ordering him not to come here alone, and he thought about the nervousness he'd felt in the club last night. Taking a small step away from the door, Luke said, "You know what, I think I'll come back tonight instead."
"Luke?" Noah's voice came to him from the dark interior of the nightclub.
"Noah?" Luke asked, not quite believing Noah would be in there, but there was no mistaking his voice. Luke took a step closer, trying to see into the blackness.
"I'm sorry about last night. Come on inside, and we can talk," Noah said.
Any reservations Luke had had flew out the window with those words, and that tone of voice coming from the man he'd been in love with for three years. Relief rushed through him, and he was certain that his guess had been correct. Noah had been on drugs, and now that he'd sobered up, he was sorry about the things he'd said. Luke walked into the club, eyes connecting with Noah's within seconds.
Luke's first instinct was to hug Noah, but as his body moved forward, he caught the expression on Noah's face, and stopped in his tracks. There were no traces of guilt or repentance, or even love in that expression. Noah had an unfriendly smirk on his mouth, and his eyes were squinted into a glare. Luke heard the front door shut behind him, and the room was enveloped in blackness. Unable to see much of anything, Luke said, "Noah?"
Luke felt someone grab his shirt near the back of his neck and propel him forward. "Hey! Get off me!" he said. He dropped his overnight back while shoving at the person holding him to no avail.
"Get off you?" Noah's mild tone came from behind Luke. "Why would I do that, when you came all this way just to see me?"
Unsure how Noah had gotten behind him so quickly, Luke craned his neck to see Noah's face. Noah smiled at him, but that only served to make Luke's stomach lurch. Noah's smile grew, and he stuck his face close to Luke's shoulder and inhaled deeply while they walked. "You smell like fear."
They walked into the main bar, where there were a few candles lit, and Luke could see a little better. Noah stopped walking, but held Luke in place. There were about twenty people in the room with them, and all of them were staring at Luke.
A woman took a step towards them and addressed Noah. "Are you sure about this?"
She looked Luke up and down once, "Why all the fuss over one scrawny boy?" Noah didn't answer her, knowing it was rhetorical. A shiver went down Luke's spine as the woman scrutinized him. She turned back to Noah and said, "Angelus is not to be trifled with. If he comes for the boy, he'll kill you, and we will not try to stop him."
With a glare, Noah said, "You've made that very clear, Sire. But Angelus won't come, and Angel has no real claim on him. He's mine. No one will be coming to rescue him."
"You are a stubborn one," she said. "Were you not listening to me when I told you who Angelus was?"
"Yes Sire, I was listening. And everyone we spoke with said it was Angel, not Angelus."
"Angel isn't to be trifled with either."
Noah didn't comment. During the pause, Luke asked quietly, "What's going on, Noah?" He knew he sounded desperate, but at this point he was too worried to care. Noah kept his eyes on the woman, and didn't respond.
The woman waved him off with a hand and said, "Very well. It's your funeral."
Noah smiled, bowed his head towards her and said, "Thank you, Sire."
Luke realized with horror that Noah wasn't on drugs. It was worse. Noah had joined some kind of cult, and he'd been brainwashed. Luke hissed at the woman, "I don't know what you've done to him, but you won't get away with it."
With a chuckle, the woman said, "Take him."
Grabbing Luke in a tighter grip, Noah walked him into one of the small back rooms, and closed the door behind them. There was only one candle lit in the room, and Luke had trouble seeing much, but he could make out the shape of three beds. Noah gave him a small shove, and let go. Luke stumbled forward and fell onto a bed face first. Before he could get up, Noah had flipped him over onto his back, and crawled on top of him.
They were face to face, with Noah straddling Luke's legs. Luke looked up at his former lover, and pleaded, "Talk to me, Noah. Tell me what's going on."
Getting more comfortable, Noah stretched out on top of Luke, and let his body press the smaller man down into the mattress. While trailing a finger from the top of Luke's head, down to his chin, Noah said, "You remember the last time we were in bed together Luke?"
Luke turned his face away from the touch, not wanting to mix the good memories of the last time they were in bed together with this awful moment. He demanded, "Tell me what's going on. Who are these people? Why aren't you working on your film?"
Noah grabbed Luke's chin, and forced his head back to look at him. "These people are my family now, and I'm never going to make another film."
"Why make a movie when you can live one?" While they were making eye contact, Noah allowed his face to change into vampire form. Shocked and frightened, Luke gasped, and tried to push his body away from Noah. Noah tightened his grip and said, "What's the matter Luke? Scared?"
Noah's grip became painful, and Luke whimpered, "What's wrong with your face?"
"Nothing." Noah leaned down and touched his nose to Luke's neck, smelling the blood under the surface mixed with the fear Luke was giving off. "This is my new face. The old Noah is dead and gone, and soon you will be too." Bringing his head back up, Noah smiled and let Luke get a good look at his teeth.
"You're not human," Luke said, more to himself than to Noah.
"Being a vampire is so much better. Soon you'll be begging me to turn you too."
Luke tried to shake his head, but found himself still held tight. "No."
Noah leaned down and whispered into Luke's neck. "You will. I'm going to keep you here with me until you do. Drinking from you each day, keeping you too weak to struggle, until you beg me to end it."
In a panic, Luke lied, "Angel knows where I am. He'll be coming for me."
Noah lifted his head and looked into Luke's eyes. With a small smile he said, "You're lying. That's cute."
Changing tactics, Luke reached a hand up and cupped the side of Noah's face with his hand. "I know you still love me, Noah. I love you too. Please let me go, and I'll find a way to get you help."
Glaring in anger, Noah hissed, "I'll never let you leave." Leaning down, he sank his teeth into Luke's neck. Luke screamed in pain, and tried pushing Noah away.
Before Noah could get a second swallow of blood down, the door to the room burst open. Angel rushed at them with a stake in his hand. Noah jumped up to fight.
Free to move, Luke stood, pressed his back against the wall, and put a hand over the bleeding wound on his neck. Still in shock from all of it, he could only stare at the two men fighting, but felt safer knowing Angel was there, than he had since entering the building.
Noah was no match for the older vampire. Within seconds, Noah found himself shoved up against the wall with his feet off the ground, Angel's hand choking his throat so he couldn't speak. Angel said, "I told you he was mine. Biting him was a mistake you won't get to make twice." He raised the stake up over his shoulder, ready to strike.
"No!" Luke yelled from across the room.
Angel hesitated, and turned to Luke. Luke was still plastered against the wall with fear, and a few drops of blood slid past the fingers on his neck, but he shook his head no. Angel turned back to Noah, and saw that he had changed his face back to human form, and understood. Angel turned back to Luke and said, "He's not human."
"I know but
" Luke didn't know to explain it, but he couldn't let Angel kill Noah, even if it wasn't exactly Noah anymore.
Against his better judgement, Angel whispered in Noah's ear, "You touch him again, and I won't let you live." Angel stabbed the stake into Noah's stomach instead of his heart, and let him drop to the ground.
"Noah! No!" Luke rushed towards them, but Angel caught him before he could get to Noah. Angel said, "He's fine."
Luke stopped struggling and said, "What do you mean he's fine? You staked him!"
"In the stomach not the heart."
Luke looked down at Noah, who was groaning with pain. Noah pulled the stake back out of his stomach, and let it clatter to the floor. "How do you know that won't kill a vampire in real life?"
Having had enough, Angel gave the smaller man a small shake, getting his attention. He changed face himself and said, "I know because I am one, which is why I told you not to come here alone!"
Luke tried to take a step away, fresh fear coursing through his veins, but couldn't get out of Angel's grip. Angel pulled him close, so they were nose to nose, and said, "I told you it was dangerous here. I told you I'd bring you tonight. And instead of listening to me, you lied to me! Why?"
Swallowing hard, Luke's voice was barely above a whisper when he said, "Because I didn't believe you."
Angel glanced at Noah, who was now sitting up against the wall. Even though he was in pain, Noah had a smirk on his face. Noah had only been a vampire for a few weeks, and he clearly remembered being human and belonging to the vampire who had become his Sire. Their relationship had been based on terror when he was human, and it wasn't that much better now. Noah had very quickly, and painfully, learned to obey her every command without question until he was turned. And he could tell Luke wasn't terrified of Angel. Noah muttered, "He's not yours."
Angel knew that Luke wouldn't be safe from Noah unless he put on a show of ownership for Noah's benefit. Regretting that he hadn't pulled Luke out of there before talking to him, Angel changed back to his human face, and focused on Luke. "I'm sorry."
"Why?" Luke asked nervously.
"Like it or not, I've claimed you as mine, and in vampire society that means something different than it does in human society. As far as everyone here is concerned, you have no rights. If you didn't belong to one of us, you'd be like a cheeseburger with a sign that said free food. But because I've laid claim to you, you're more like a stray dog with no collar. I say you're mine, but Noah has challenged that claim by marking you with his bite, so I can either kill him, or prove he's wrong by marking you myself."
Luke didn't want to believe the things Angel had just told him, but not listening to Angel had gotten him into this mess to begin with. He looked down at Noah who appeared to be feeling better by the second, and realized Angel had been right about the stake to the stomach. Frowning, he thought about how he'd felt watching Reid die, and knew he couldn't watch another man he loved die, even if that man wasn't human anymore. He turned back to Angel, and let his hand drop away from his neck, showing his trust and willingness. "Okay, then you'll have to mark me."
"No," Angel said, "not in the same place" He tore a small corner off the bedspread next to them, held the cloth to Luke's neck, and put Luke's hand back up to cover it. "Keep direct pressure on it to stop the bleeding."
Focusing on Luke's neck, Angel scowled. "You lied to me about where you were going, and put yourself in danger. I'm really not happy with you."
Feeling his face heat up, at Angel's tone, Luke muttered an honest apology "I'm sorry."
Angel shook his head, thinking that didn't do them much good now. He took Luke's free arm in his hands, vamped out again, and said, "This will hurt." He leaned down and bit the sensitive skin on the inside of Luke's upper arm.
Luke involuntarily tried jerking his arm away from the pain, but Angel held him fast, and bit down harder, making sure all of his teeth sank into the flesh a few centimeters. Luke's eyes watered, and he hissed in pain while Angel took a few swallows.
Wincing in sympathy, Angel licked the wound so it would heal, and let go. Focusing on Noah, he said, "I claimed him first, and now I've marked him. Your claim is null and void."
Noah pushed himself into a standing position and asked with disdain, "That's it?"
With a glare, Angel said, "What do you mean?"
"My Sire broke my arm for looking her in the eye before she turned me. You say you're not happy with him, but you barely bit him."
Wondering if he should be ready to fight, Angel grabbed Luke's wrist in his hand to keep him close, and to show possession. "Just because I'm not cruel, doesn't make Luke any less mine."
Noah frowned, but knew it was true. He didn't try to stop them when they walked out the door.
In the main room, Luke saw Spike and Connor standing back to back in the center of the room. They were both holding weapons, and cautiously watching every move the vampires in the room made. Angel pulled him along, until they were standing in front of Connor. Angel said, "Connor, take Luke home. We'll meet you there."
Connor nodded, grabbed Luke's wrist, and pulled him towards the front door. Luke almost stumbled over his own bag in the entranceway. Connor said, "Sorry, I forget you can't see in here." Keeping a hand on Luke, and making sure no one was around to attack, Connor leaned down to pick up the bag. He quickly got them out into the sunlight, let go of Luke once they were out.
Squinting, Luke held his hand up to block the bright sun while his eyes adjusted, and followed Connor to a car. Connor unlocked the passenger side first, tossed Luke's bag in the back seat, and said, "Get in and make sure to keep pressure on your neck."
Luke got in and as he was buckling up, he noticed that the wound on his arm was already starting to scab over.
When Connor got in, he saw Luke staring at the little puncture wounds that formed a circle on his inner arm. "What?"
"It's healing," Luke said with awe.
"That's because my father knows how to seal a bite."
"Your father?" Luke asked, not understanding that at all.
"Yeah, Angel is my father."
"How is that even possible?"
During the ride home, Connor told Luke his story, and inadvertently gave him a lot of information about Angel and Angelus.
# # #
After a short threatening conversation with the female leader of this particular nest of vampires, Angel and Spike left the way they'd come. On the way to the bar, they'd run through the sewer tunnels, but now that the emergency was over, they walked single file, with Angel leading the way.
Angel couldn't stop thinking about what he'd done to Luke, and the more he thought about it, the more he regretted handling things the way he had.
When they were half way home, Spike heard Angel sigh, and knew he was brooding. "The guilt's set in then has it?"
Angel's hand balled into a fist. "He could have gotten himself killed!"
Spike's only response was a thoughtful, "Mmm."
Angel whirled around. "What the hell does 'Mmm' mean?!"
Spike leaned against the sewer wall, and lit up a cigarette. "Yeah, he could have gotten killed, but he didn't know that. All he had to go on was your word that it was dangerous, and he barely knows you. He didn't know how serious it was until it was too late."
Pacing back and forth in the tiny tunnel, Angel growled, "I didn't have a choice! If I hadn't marked him, they wouldn't have let me take him without a fight!"
Spike took a long drag on his cigarette. "True. But if you'd been honest with him last night, he probably wouldn't have done this behind your back. And you could have marked him with a sock to the jaw, but you didn't."
Angel growled in frustration, and punched the tunnel wall, putting a small hole in the concrete. He shook out his hand, and felt the anger leaving him.
Spike pointed to his own inner arm and said quietly, "We both know why you bit him here, you just don't want to admit it to yourself."
Crossing his arms in irritation, Angel lied, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You think I don't remember the first time you bit me? You think Dru didn't tell me about the first time you bit her? You bit him in the same spot because you wanted to mark him as yours in front of everyone. You're attracted to him."
Angel brushed past him and said, "Shut up, Spike!"
Spike tossed his cigarette into the floor, and followed his grandsire home.
# # #
The sewer entrance was in the basement, and as soon as Angel opened the door, he could hear Connor's voice up in the living room. "Before I had my new memories things were different between us."
Angel froze, not wanting to alert them to his presence in the house yet, and Connor continued. "I tried to kill him more then once. I physically attacked him every chance I got, and he was forced to fight back. He's stronger, so he always beat me."
"Beat you?" Luke's voice asked.
Connor's voice said, "Took me down by any means necessary. One time he broke a couple of ribs, punched my face until it was a bloody mess with one eye swollen shut, and tossed me out a second story window."
"Jesus!" Luke exclaimed.
Angel felt sick. He had nightmares about that day, and often wished he could go back in time to do things differently. He felt Spike's hand squeeze his shoulder in comfort.
Connor said, "To be fair, I was going to kill him and his friends, and I don't hold it against him. In fact I'm grateful he stopped me from killing one of them."
"Grateful?" Luke asked.
"I can't imagine how much worse the guilt would be now if I'd managed to kill one of them. I can hardly live with myself as it is when I think about that time."
There was a lull in the conversation, and Angel closed the sewer door loud enough for Connor to hear it.
Connor's voice from upstairs said, "We're in the living room, Dad."
While Spike and Angel came upstairs, they heard movement above them. Angel came in first, and saw Luke standing uncertainly next to the couch, while Connor sat in an armchair. There was an awkward pause, until Connor stood and said, "I cleaned out the wound on his neck and bandaged it up. It didn't need any stitches, and from what I can tell he didn't lose much blood from either bite."
Angel smiled at him with pride. "Thanks, son."
Thinking that Angel would like to spend some time talking to Luke alone, Spike looked at Connor and said, "Buy you a pint?"
Angel scowled, "It's barley noon."
Spike waved him away with a hand. "I'm on London time. What do you say Connor? Have a beer, maybe play some pool?"
Connor looked at Luke, wondering if he'd want to be alone with Angel so soon after that confrontation at the bar. Luke's eyes were glued to the floor, his heart rate was up, and he kept tapping his thumb on his thigh nervously. Connor made eye contact with Angel, who gave him a small smile and a nod. Reassured that Angel would do everything in his power to help Luke feel better, Connor smiled at Spike, and said, "Sure, but you'll have to buy me lunch too, I'm starving."
Spike groaned as they two of them headed back to the sewer entrance. "You eat enough for three people your size. You need to learn to drink more and eat less."
"No thanks, I'll leave the heavy drinking to you. I have to study tonight."
"Such a Boy Scout. Haven't I taught you anything these past three years?"
Connor chuckled. "Yeah, you've taught me all kinds of things not to do."
"You get your sense of humor from your father. Meaning you haven't got one."
Their conversation was cut off when they shut the door to the sewer.
# # #
Angel and Luke stood in silence for a few seconds, neither one exactly sure what to say. Angel took a tentative step towards Luke and asked, "Have you taken anything for the pain yet?"
Surprised, Luke met Angel's eyes, "What?"
Angel took a few more steps and said gently, "Have you taken any painkillers?"
Every instinct in Luke's body told him to take a few steps back to keep out of the vampire's reach, but he forced himself to stay put. He tilted his chin up a notch and said, "I feel fine. I don't need anything."
Angel could hear Luke's heart pounding, increasing in tempo the closer he got. He took the last step that separated them, and put a hand on Luke's shoulder. Squeezing gently, he said, "It would make me feel better if you'd take something."
Any residual fear he'd felt towards Angel went away with the gentle touch. The word, "Okay," slipped out of Luke's mouth before he could stop it. Once he realized what he'd said, he frowned. He hated the way his body reacted to Angel's mere presence.
Angel gave him a soft smile and said, "Why don't you lie down and relax for a few minutes, while I get you some Tylenol."
Luke watched Angel walk down the hall, and then looked over at the couch. He didn't want to admit it, but lying down was exactly what he wanted to do. He hurt all over. The pain in his neck and arm weren't the only problems. His muscles ached from struggling and being manhandled by both Noah and Angel. His knees felt wobbly with the effort to keep himself up when he thought about vampires being a reality, let alone thinking about Noah being one. Before Angel came back, Luke gave in and went back to the same position he'd been in before Angel had arrived home.
When Angel came back carrying a couple of pills and a glass of water, he found Luke lying on his back on the couch, with his eyes closed. Angel sat on the coffee table by Luke's head and said, "Here. Take these."
Luke propped himself up on one elbow, and held his hand out for the pills. Once he'd swallowed them, he handed the glass back to Angel, and lay back down. "Thanks."
Angel rested his elbows on his knees and said, "We should talk."
"Okay." Luke eased himself back down and looked up at Angel expectantly.
"I'm not sure what Connor already told you
" He looked down at his hands, and thought about what he'd overheard.
After a pause, Luke said, "You're a vampire, you were 26 when you were turned, but you've been a vampire for over 250 years. When you were first turned you called yourself Angelus, and you were evil. Then you were cursed with a soul, and became Angel."
Luke stopped and searched Angel's face to see if he'd confirm Connor's unbelievable story. Angel nodded, "All true."
"Then five years ago you got your Sire
I forget her name."
"Right, you got Darla pregnant with Connor, even though vampires aren't supposed to be able to have kids."
"A guy from your past named Holtz took Connor from you when he was a baby, and took him to another dimension, so you didn't see him again until he was eighteen. But Holtz hated you and tried to make Connor hate you too."
Looking away, Angel nodded again. Luke could see the pain in Angel's face and decided not to go into detail with the rest of the story. "And for the past three years you've been fighting a war against evil." When Angel made eye contact again, the younger man said, "That's all."
"Sounds like you got the basics," Angel said. "Now, I want to talk to you about Noah."
"Noah is a vampire. That means he has no soul. He may look like Noah. He may sound like Noah. He may even have the same memories as Noah. But he is not Noah, because his soul is gone. That means he's dangerous, especially to you."
Luke shook his head. "How can you be sure?"
"Be sure of what? That he has no soul, or that he's dangerous to you?"
"Over the years I've met hundreds of vampires. None of them had souls, and all of them had strong reactions to the people they loved when they were human. They either hated the people they loved, in which case they tortured and killed them. Or they loved them so much they couldn't be without them, and turned them to vampires as well. Either way, you're in danger."
Luke bit his lip not wanting to believe Noah was lost to him forever. "But how can you be sure? You haven't met every vampire."
With understanding, Angel said, "I know, because I've talked to other demons, and humans who have studied vampires through history, and everyone has found the same thing. I know, because I've changed humans into vampires, and it's always the same. I know, because I remember the things I did as Angelus, and I am incapable of doing the things he did."
Luke closed his eyes, and tried not to cry. He felt Angel's hand on his shoulder, and heard his voice. "I'm sorry. I wish there was something I could say, or something I could do to make it easier for you."
Luke sat up and looked Angel in the eye. "I can't accept that."
Angel let his hand drop. "What?"
"I can't accept that there is nothing I can do to help Noah. There has to be something!"
Angel's eyes narrowed, and leaned in towards the younger man. "There's not."
Luke pushed his back up against the couch, away from Angel, and said, "Three months ago I was in love with a man named Reid. We had just started a relationship when he was ripped away from me in a car accident. I can't lose Noah too. I just can't. I won't."
Angel's eyes softened. He'd tried to deny his growing attraction to Luke, but after hearing that, he couldn't do it anymore. He cupped Luke's face in his hands and said, "After everything that's happened, you still want to help him." Luke nodded. Angel leaned in and kissed his forehead, and then locked eyes with him. Angel said sincerely, "I'm sorry for your loss. For both of them."
Luke had been ready for anger, and had no defense for the gentle kiss, or the kind understanding Angel had just given him. Feeling his eyes fill with tears, he bowed his head.
After smelling the tears, Angel pulled Luke into a hug. Luke wrapped his arms around Angel too, and Angel situated himself onto the couch, so that he was sitting next to Luke, and held him while he cried.
Quite a while later, when the tears tapered off, Luke was too exhausted to move off of Angel's shoulder. Angel handed him a few tissues, and after he'd wiped his face, Angel said, "Close your eyes and rest for a while."
Angel felt him drift off to sleep within a few seconds of closing his eyes, and shifted to get the two of them more comfortable, with Luke using Angel's upper chest as a pillow. While he held the warm body, Angel gave himself a list of all the reasons it would be wrong to start a relationship with Luke, but found himself unable to let go.
# # #
Half an hour later, Spike and Connor came home through the Sewer entrance. Not wanting them to wake Luke up, Angel whispered, "Luke's asleep."
Spike and Connor went up the stairs silently, but when they saw Angel on the couch holding Luke, Connor frowned and whispered, "What happened?"
Rolling his eyes, Spike whispered, "Don't be daft. Angel has a type too."
Angel glared at his grandchilde, and refused to comment.
When Connor turned to him, Spike said, "Petite, strong willed blondes."
"Gross." Connor's face showed his distaste.
Spike saw a flash of hurt in Angel's expression, and felt the need to defend him. He said to Connor, "You're disgusted? You don't get to be disgusted, you slept with Cordelia."
Connor winced as if Spike had punched him, and turned away from both of them.
Angel hissed, "William!"
Luke stirred in Angel's arms.
"What?!" Spike said loudly, "It's true!"
Angel glared at him, letting him know he didn't approve.
Luke opened his eyes. Disoriented, he pushed away from Angel's chest. Angel let go of him, and scooted forward to concentrate on Spike.
Not liking Angel's expression, Spike sighed dramatically. "Fine. I'll apologize." He turned to Connor, and saw sorrow etched in his downcast face. Feeling bad about it now, he said softly, "I shouldn't have brought her up. I know you loved her."
Needing to be alone, Connor mumbled, "It's okay," and escaped down the hall to his bedroom.
Luke was wide awake now, and everything he'd gone through that morning came crashing back into the forefront of his brain, while he listened to the heated conversation going on in front of him.
Angel stood and said, "What the hell, Spike?"
Spike was uncomfortable with Angel's tone of voice, especially now that Luke was awake to hear it. He mumbled, "First the beating comment, and now the homophobic rubbish. I just wanted to remind him that none of us are free from guilt."
"Do you ever need a reminder that you were William the Bloody?"
Spike felt his cheeks flush, and wished he hadn't had that A positive at the bar. He mumbled to the floor, "No, Sire."
"Sire?" Luke said.
Neither vampire answered him. Angel went over to Spike, put a hand on his shoulder, and said quietly, "I'm glad that we're close now, and it's nice that you'd want to defend me like that. But Connor just needs some time to get used to it. Making him feel bad about the past isn't going to help."
Spike nodded to the floor. Angel squeezed his shoulder, and turned to Luke. "Feeling any better?"
Sitting up straight, Luke said, "Spike's a vampire too?"
"Yeah," Angel said.
"I don't get it," Luke said. "Both you and Connor told me that all vampires are evil, because they don't have a soul, and that you're the only exception because you were cursed, but Spike is living and working with you."
Before Angel could answer, Spike said, "I went through the Demon Trials to get my soul back."
Luke stood up and said excitedly, "That's the answer! Noah can get his soul back, too."
Spike and Angel both shook their heads and started to talk at the same time. Spike said, "I barely lived through
" And at the same time Angel said, "It's not that easy to
They both stopped, and Spike gestured for Angel to go ahead. Angel said, "Noah was just turned. Spike had over a hundred and fifty years of fighting practice before attempting the Demon Trials, and he was willing to do whatever it took to complete them. Noah isn't anywhere close to ready for that, and it's doubtful that he'd even want to."
Unwilling to give up on the idea of Noah getting his soul back, Luke said, "Okay, forget the Demon Trials for a minute. What about your curse?"
"What about my curse?" Angel asked.
"Connor said that the first year he was here, you lost your soul for a while, but then got it back. How did you get it back?"
Angel said, "It doesn't matter
" But at the same time Spike said, "Willow."
"Willow?" Luke asked, "What's that mean?"
The two vampires exchanged a glance, and Spike said, "Best to get it all out in the open now."
Reluctantly, Angel agreed. He turned to Luke and said, "Willow is a friend of ours, who happens to also be a witch."
"A witch?" Luke asked. "Are you kidding?"
"No, she's a powerful witch, and she cursed me again after I lost my soul."
"Well that's the answer!" Luke said, "We can have Willow curse Noah too." Angel started to shake his head, so Luke added, "I can pay her."
"She's a friend," Spike scoffed. "She'd be sad if we offered her money to do us a favor."
"Okay then let's give her a call," Luke said.
Angel shook his head. "We can't just curse someone because you want us to."
"Why not?" both Spike and Luke asked in unison.
Angel glared at both of them in turn and said, "I don't even know if the curse would work on anyone else, or if more than one vampire can be cursed at one time. What if we curse him and that lets Angelus out?"
The more Spike thought about it, the more he liked the idea, and wondered why none of them had thought of it before. "Yeah, but it's worth a phone call to find out. If Buffy gets a whole army of Slayers, I don't see why we can't have an army of Vampires with souls."
Exasperated, Angel crossed his arms and said, "Great! So now it's not just Noah, but an army of vampires."
Spike turned to Luke and said, "I'll give her a quick call, and let you know what she says."
"Spike!" Angel growled.
Facing off with his grandsire, Spike said, "What!"
"We should think about this first."
Shaking his head, Spike said, "I'll follow your lead in battle, and I'll even still let you play Sire when I've done something I'm ashamed of, but you don't get a say in who I can and can't call. Willow is my friend, and was even before I got the soul back. I talk to her at least once a week, and I'm not going to hesitate to call her just because you don't like what I might have to say."
"You're right," Angel said, feeling like a jerk. "I'm sorry, I just
don't like jumping into this without thinking it through."
After a short pause, Spike decided to forgive him instead of punching him in the jaw, and got out his cell phone. He hit a speed dial number, and put the phone to his ear. While he was waiting for someone to pick up he said to Luke, "You're a bright one, thinking outside the box. I like that." Spike focused back on the phone and said, "Hey Red, how's tricks?" as he headed up the stairs.
Angel and Luke made eye contact once Spike was out of sight. Angel stuck his hands in his pockets so he wouldn't be tempted to go touch Luke and said, "Are you feeling better?"
Luke stuck his hands in his pockets as well, unintentionally mimicking Angel. "I'm still a little sore, but yeah, I feel better."
"Good." After an awkward pause, Angel said, "Spike's a talker. He'll be a while."
"All you had for breakfast was some coffee. You want some lunch while we wait?"
Luke doubted he could have eaten anything earlier, but now he felt his stomach rumble. He shrugged, "I could eat."
Luke followed Angel to the kitchen. Angel looked in the refrigerator and said, "Looks like we have leftover pizza, or leftover Chinese."
"Pizza sounds good."
While Angel was warming the pizza up in the microwave, Luke sat down at the kitchen table. He leaned his elbows on the table and his eyes immediately went to the bite mark on his inner arm. It was much more painful than the wound on his neck, even though it appeared to be healing better. When Angel brought the pizza to the table, Luke looked up at him with resentment.
Having seen Luke's intense focus on his arm, Angel knew what the look was for. He set the pizza down in front of Luke, and sat down across from him. He said quietly, "I'm sorry."
Luke's eyebrows raised in surprise. "What for?"
Angel reached across the table, and put his hand over Luke's. He rubbed his thumb over the back of Luke's hand and said, "For earlier today. I want to try and explain."
The gentle touch had Luke's heart beating faster, and his face heating up
Making sure he had eye contact, Angel said, "The more time I spend with you, the more attracted to you I am."
Luke's eyes opened wide with shock.
Angel said, "I'm not just physically attracted, I'm also attracted to the type of person you are. Coming here to find Noah, even though you're not with him anymore, and going back to the bar to try and help him even after he'd said such cruel things to you the night before, are the acts of an altruistic person who's determined to do the right thing. I find that admirable. But because of that attraction, I also have an overwhelming urge to protect you. When I heard you giving that cab driver the address to the bar, I was sure that you'd be dead before I could get to you."
"You could hear that?" Luke asked.
"Vampires have enhanced senses compared to humans."
Luke turned his hand over under Angel's so they were holding hands on the table, and admitted with a smile, "It didn't even occur to me to wonder how you knew where I was. I was just glad you showed up."
Stifling the urge to lean over and kiss Luke, Angel settled for squeezing his hand once. "When I saw Noah biting you
" Angel broke eye contact and continued, "
I didn't realize it at the time, but I was jealous. And I know I had no right to be, but there it is. I was worried about your wellbeing, I was upset that you'd lied to me, and I was jealous that Noah marked you. Then when you said I should mark you too, I just
" He locked eyes with Luke again and said, "
I marked you as mine, but it wasn't just for show. I meant it."
Frowning, Luke slid his hand out from under Angel's and leaned back in his chair while he thought that over. Angel leaned back as well and said, "When one of my family members is in danger, even if it's danger they put themselves in, I get overprotective. I had to mark you somehow to get out of there without a fight, but I could have just as easily slugged your shoulder hard enough to leave a bruise."
Luke glared at Angel. "So let me get this straight. I'm gonna have a scar because you wanted to mark me as yours?"
Angel glared pointedly at Luke's neck and said, "You're gonna have a couple of scars because you didn't listen to me in the first place."
Immediately seeing the truth in that, Luke muttered, "You're right. I'm sorry."
"Don't be, because I didn't give you all the information you needed to keep yourself safe. If you knew you were walking into a room full of vampires, would you have done it?"
"No," Luke said with honesty.
"Then I'm sorry for that too." Angel stood and said, "I've got to go check on Connor. Take your time and eat in peace. There's soda and beer in the fridge if you want it."
Luke nodded, and took a bite of his pizza. Time to think things over was exactly what he needed.
# # #
Half an hour later, Luke was pacing the living room, wondering what to do with himself, when Spike came down the stairs. "What did she say?" Luke asked.
"She likes the idea."
"But she won't do it until she talks to Giles about it."
"An expert on Vampires, Slayers, and all the other things that go bump in the night." Spike flopped down onto the couch.
"Getting an expert opinion sounds like a good idea. That should make Angel feel better about it, right?"
Luke smiled. "Is she going to call back tonight?"
Spike snorted. "Tonight? It will take Giles weeks to research this idea."
"Weeks?" Luke lost his smile.
"Weeks." Spike confirmed.
"Great." Luke sat down on the other side of the couch, leaned his head back, and closed his eyes.
Spike saw Angel coming out of Connor's room, and stood up, wondering how the kid was. Spike shoved his hands in his pockets and muttered, "Willow says hey."
"How are things on her end?" Angel asked.
"Everyone's fine. Buffy's still dating that wanker."
Angel frowned in distaste. "What does she see in him?"
"No idea. Willow said she'll talk to Giles and let us know."
Spike looked down the hall to Connor's closed door and said, "Is the kid okay?"
"He'll be fine." Angel said. "Just give him a day or two."
"Why don't you go to the office, and help Gunn for the afternoon."
"Okay." Spike knew there wasn't anything pressing for him to do at the office, but he figured Angel wanted to talk to Luke alone, and sending him to the office would also keep him and Connor apart for the rest of the afternoon.
Once Spike was in the sewers, Angel turned to Luke. "Looks like we won't have an answer from Willow for a while. That means we need to make a decision."
"A decision?" Luke asked.
"If you want to go home, we'll keep tabs on Noah to make sure he doesn't follow you to Oakdale, and then we'll call you as soon as we hear from Willow." Angel broke eye contact, arguing internally over the next option, not sure if it was fair to either of them to make it an option.
"Or?" Luke said.
Angel couldn't stop himself. "Or you could stay here with me until she calls." He heard Luke's heart rate go up.
Almost afraid to ask, Luke whispered, "Which one do you want me to do?"
Angel sat down next to Luke on the couch. "I want you to stay with me, but that's not what I think you should do. You should get as far away from me as possible."
Tentatively, Luke put his hand on Angel's thigh and said, "I'd like to stay."
Brushing his fingers down Luke's cheek, Angel said, "I'd like that too."
Luke leaned into the touch, and said, "Are you sure?"
In answer, Angel kissed him softly on the lips. He pulled back long enough to look into Luke's smiling face, and then leaned down to kiss him more passionately.
The kiss sent a rush of pleasant shivers through Luke's whole body. His hands found their way into Angel's hair, and he felt Angel's hand on his back pulling him in closer. A few minutes later when they broke apart, Luke was breathing hard, and tingling all over. "Wow."
"I agree," Angel said with a smile. Getting serious, added, "I'm glad you'd like to stay, but you should know what that means before you agree to it."
Trying to focus on something other than Angel's lips, Luke said, "Okay."
"You'll have to be with one of us at all times."
Those words startled him out of his lust induced haze. Pushing himself further away from the vampire, Luke said, "Wait a minute. What?"
Angel let his hands drop back into his own lap, but kept eye contact. "Noah could be a serious threat to you if you stay in town. He may only be able to come out at night, but there are plenty of humans willing to do a vampire's bidding for the right price, and that nest was one of the biggest ones that I've seen in LA. That means Noah has powerful friends, and he wanted to turn you. Until I'm sure he's not a threat, you'll need me, or one of my team, to be with you any time you're not here in the house"
Angel interrupted, "Only until we hear back from Willow."
Luke broke eye contact, and thought that over. He didn't like it, but he had to admit that Noah was scary now, and the idea of ending up back in that bar made him shudder. With a nod he said, "Okay."
"If being stuck with us drives you crazy, you can always go back to Oakdale until we have an answer."
Turning back to Angel, Luke slid a hand around the back of Angel's neck and gently pulled him closer. "You'll just have to keep me distracted."
Surprised at how happy those words made him, Angel started kissing him again. As they kissed, Angel maneuvered their bodies on the couch, so that Luke was lying on his back, with Angel's body covering most of his. Their hands were busy exploring each other's bodies, when Luke's cell phone rang. Angel pulled away.
With an apologetic smile, Luke grabbed his cell phone and looked at the number. "It's work," he muttered, and pushed himself back into a sitting position before answering. "This is Luke, how can I help you?"
Angel sat back against the couch, and listened to Luke's side of the conversation.
"Hi Karen, what's up
No, those funds were for the hospice
How did that happen?"
There was a longer pause, and Angel could tell from the younger man's expression, that something had gone wrong.
"Okay, let me make some phone calls and get back to you." Luke hung up and turned to Angel. "Sorry, looks like this is going to take a while."
Angel kissed his forehead. "It's okay, we'll have plenty of time to pick up where we left off later tonight." He stood up and added, "Make yourself at home while you're here. You can set up your laptop at the desk here in the living room, or if you need privacy, you can use the desk in your room. The rooms are soundproofed to human ears, but Spike, Connor and I will still be able to hear most of what you say, but we try not to listen."
Luke stood as well. "You sure you won't mind if I set up here in the living room?"
"Not at all. If you want to stay here and work tomorrow, one of us will stay with you. Or if you'd rather come to the office with us, you can use Spike's desk."
"Okay, thanks." Luke's cell phone went off again. He looked at the caller ID before answering. "Hi Mom
Yeah, I know, she just called me." He headed into his bedroom to get his laptop.
Angel looked at his watch, and decided to check in with Gunn, to see how things were going at the office.
# # #
A few hours later, Luke was still trying to solve bookkeeping issues for his foundation, when Angel got an urgent call from the office. After a short conversation with Gunn, Angel called out, "Hey Connor, could you come out here for a minute?"
Connor came out of his room for the first time that night. "Yeah?"
Wondering what was going on, Luke focused on Angel instead of his laptop.
"Gunn called, we've got a new case."
"Great, you wanna tell me about it on the way?"
"No, I want you to stay here with Luke."
Frowning, Connor glanced over at Luke. He didn't want to stay home when there was a case to work on, especially if it meant he was stuck babysitting his father's potential boyfriend.
Angel could see the argument forming in Connor's head, and cut it off before it could start. "Noah may come after him, so for the next week or two Luke can't be alone, and I haven't had time to go over the basics with him on how to keep himself safe if he finds himself alone with Noah."
Crossing his arms, Connor said, "I could go and you could stay."
"You have class early tomorrow, and this one could take all night."
Connor sighed. "Fine. I'll stay and teach Vampire 101."
"Thanks." Angel squeezed his shoulder, and then turned to Luke. "It's already getting dark out, so the two of you need to stay in the house."
Luke frowned as well, thinking it was going to be an awkward night. How was he supposed to act normal and hang out with someone his own age, when he was lusting after the guy's father?
Angel looked back and forth at the two younger men and worried that leaving them alone tonight might not be the best decision, but he didn't have any other option if he wanted to take this case. He turned to Connor and said, "If you two have any problems, give me a call, okay?"
Connor rolled his eyes when he saw the worry crease in his father's forehead. "Jeez Dad, brood much? I've been on protection detail a million times. We'll be fine." He waved his hand towards the door and said, "Go."
Angel turned back to Luke. The younger man nodded and said, "Connor's right, we'll be fine, and I have hours worth of work left to do anyway."
Feeling better about it, Angel walked to the weapon cabinet, and got out a sword. When he turned around, he saw the shock on Luke's face, as he scanned the sheer volume of weapons they kept on hand. Angel said to Connor, "And maybe a short explanation for the kinds of jobs we usually get."
Seeing Luke's face, Connor nodded in agreement. Angel walked to Luke, and put a hand on the side of his face. "I know it's a lot to take in one day."
Trying not to show how unsettled he was, Luke smiled and said, "It's okay. I can handle it."
Angel leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "See you when I get back."
Connor turned away as he saw Angel's lips touch Luke's, but kept his distaste to himself.
A few seconds later, Luke and Connor were alone in the living room. An uncomfortable silence filled the room. Luke was the first to speak. "I'm at a good stopping point with my work if you want to go over that vampire information with me."
Happy to have something to focus on, Connor said, "Sure, this is a good time for me too. Are you hungry? We could see what's in the house for dinner while we talk."
"Sounds good to me."
# # #
At one o'clock in the morning, a bedraggled trio came home through the front door covered in gunk. While the three took off their shoes in the entranceway, Angel said to Gunn, "After we shower, you clean the weapons." He turned to Spike, "You clean our clothes, and I'll clean the car."
The two gave weary nods, and started taking off their clothes, stacking them in a pile for Spike to get later. When Spike took his shirt off something clattered to the floor. He picked it up, and held it up the tooth for the others to see. "Either of you want a souvenir?"
Gunn groaned and said, "I'd rather forget I ever saw that thing. I don't want a reminder that it exploded all over me, thanks anyway."
Angel muttered, "I've got bits of intestine in my hair."
Once the three were down to underwear, Gunn and Spike headed to their rooms to shower. Wanting to check on both Luke and Connor, Angel sniffed the air, and listened for heartbeats. Once he assured himself that both of them were at least safe in the house, he went to shower off.
An hour later, Angel was done cleaning the gore out of his car, and came in to find that Spike and Gunn had already finished their portion of the cleaning, and gone to sleep. He walked to Connor's door, and listened for a few seconds. The steady heartbeat and even breathing told him Connor was asleep. He went to Luke's door to listen, but instead of a steady heartbeat, and even breathing, he heard movement. Then Luke moaned, and said, "No."
Angel knew there was no way Noah could get into the house without being invited, and he also knew Connor would have gone over that with Luke, but the image that flashed in his mind was Noah biting Luke again. He opened the door a crack, and saw Luke alone in the bed. He appeared to be asleep but having a bad dream. Angel went in and shut the door behind him, not wanting to wake the others up, which could be difficult to do in a house full of super hearing beings.
Sitting on the edge of Luke's bed, he reached out and touched his shoulder. "Hey Luke, you're dreaming."
Jerking awake, Luke was disoriented for a few seconds. He sat up halfway, propping himself up on his elbows and mumbled, "I was back at the bar." He shuddered, and his eyes scanned the room, checking to make sure of his surroundings.
Brushing the hair from Luke's eyes, Angel said, "You're safe here with me."
Luke sat up and scooted back so he could lean up against the headboard. "What time is it?"
"A little after two."
"Did you just get in?"
"Well we got home about an hour ago, but we had a lot of cleaning to do before we could call it a night. Then I came to check on you, and when I saw you weren't sleeping peacefully, I thought I'd come wake you up. I hope that's okay."
"More than okay." Luke said. "It was not a good dream."
"How did it go tonight?" Angel hoped things hadn't been too awkward for either of them.
Luke smiled, "Connor and I got along fine, probably better than either one of us expected."
Relieved, Angel smiled too. "Good."
"We have a lot in common when it comes to our fathers."
"Your fathers?" Angel asked, feeling a little uncomfortable. He wasn't sure that he wanted them bonding over something that had to do with him.
"I wasn't raised by my biological father either."
Angel raised his eyebrows in surprise.
Luke said, "I was adopted and raised by Holden Snyder. He's a lot like Connor's dad, Laurence. They're both honest, hard working family men. My biological father, Damion is the polar opposite. He lies, cheats, and manipulates everyone to get what he wants. Thank goodness I didn't have much contact with him while growing up."
"When I first came out to my parents, my dad, Holden, was amazingly supportive. Even when he wasn't entirely comfortable with my being gay, he never made me feel bad about myself because of it. But Damion
He tried talking my mom into sending me to one of those camps that promises to turn gay kids straight. He was ashamed of a basic part of what makes me, me, and it's a part of me that I have no control over. When I was telling Connor about that last night, he said that Holtz always made him feel ashamed that he was part demon, even though it is a basic part of what makes him, him."
Angel nodded. "I'm grateful to Laurence for giving Connor the love and stability he needed to recover from the things Holtz and I did to him."
Luke leaned forward and put a hand on Angel's knee. "No, Connor puts you in the same category with Laurence, not with Holtz."
Angel frowned, but before he could say anything about it, Luke said, "Last night he told me that sometimes he wonders what his childhood would have been like if Holtz had never taken him."
"Me too," Angel whispered.
"He believes that you would have given him a good childhood if you'd had the chance."
Angel shook his head. He didn't have the same faith in himself that Connor apparently had.
Luke took Angel's hand in his. "And he seems genuinely happy when he talks about his life with you now." Luke brought the hand up to his lips, and gently kissed the back of Angel's hand. "Thanks for waking me up." He turned Angel's hand over, and kissed the palm.
Angel leaned in and kissed Luke gently. Luke put his hands on the back of Angel's head, and pulled him in closer, turning the kiss passionate. After a few minutes of serious kissing, Luke was lying flat on his back, with most of Angel's upper body pressing him down into the mattress.
Angel pulled away when he felt Luke's hand slipping under his tee shirt. He desperately wanted to keep going, but forced himself to say, "I should go, so you can get some sleep."
"I want you to stay," Luke said, trying unsuccessfully to pull Angel back down for another kiss.
"Are you sure?" Angel asked. "I mean I want to stay, but I also want you to be sure."
Luke thought of all the chances he'd had with Reid, and wished he could have just one of them back to do differently. He wasn't sure where things were going with Angel in the long run, but he knew where he wanted things to go tonight. "I'm sure. Please stay."
Angel sat up long enough to pull his shirt off, and Luke took his off as well. Angel paused a few seconds to let his eyes roam over Luke's body. Luke did the same and trailed a finger over Angel's shoulder. Angel leaned down and trailed his tongue from the center of Luke's chest, over to his right nipple, pausing to suck on it gently. He felt the vibrations under his lips when Luke moaned, and trailed his tongue over to the left side to do the same. When he pulled away, Luke's breathing was rapid.
Angel stood and took his pajama pants off along with his boxers, and stood still while Luke looked him up and down. After getting his fill, Luke tossed the covers off, and reached down to take his underwear off, but his finger's stalled when they hit the elastic. He looked into Angel's face and whispered nervously, "Noah is the only other person I've been with."
Angel felt a rush of excitement at those words. Inexperience had always been a turn on for both Angel and Angelus, though for very different reasons. With a grin, Angel crawled on top of Luke and whispered in his ear, "That only makes me want you more."
Those words settled Luke's nerves, and he didn't resist when he felt Angel reach down to take off his briefs for him.
# # #
Connor got up feeling better than he had the day before. Hanging out with Luke last night had helped him feel a lot more like Connor Reilly, and a lot less like the Destroyer. And making the connection between Holtz hating him for being a demon, and Damien hating Luke for being gay, made Connor realize that his own initial reactions to Luke had been wrong.
He walked past Luke's door, and stopped in mid stride when he realized his father's scent was just as strong as Luke's behind Luke's door. The smell of sex was heavy in the air. Connor's lip curled back in disgust automatically, but he forced the expression off his face a second later, thinking about Luke's sadness the night before when he talked about his father, Damion. And when Connor thought about it logically instead of emotionally, he didn't begrudge his father a little happiness after all the things they'd suffered through over the past three years. Once he had talked himself out of being upset, he walked the rest of the way down the hall.
When he got to the kitchen, Connor was surprised to see Spike sitting at the table with a mug of blood, and decided it was the perfect time for some revenge. He got a bowl of cereal and sat down across from him.
"Hey." Spike said.
"Hey. You're up earlier than usual."
"Couldn't sleep." After a short pause, Spike said, "Sorry about yesterday."
Surprised at how honest that sounded, Spike asked, "It's okay?"
"You were right, I was being a jerk about Dad and Luke."
Spike scrutinized Connor for a few seconds, trying to figure out if he was lying or not. "What made you change your mind?"
"Luke and I talked last night. And I found out we have a lot in common."
"Yeah? Like what?"
"We both have annoying little sisters that we love even though they're annoying. We both have more than one father. Neither of us was raised by our biological father, and we both had one father who hated something about us."
Spike's eyebrows raised in surprise. "Wow."
"I know. It's a lot, right?"
Spike nodded and gulped the rest of his blood. "I'm glad you two have found some common ground, because I think he's going to be around for a lot longer than a week."
Connor gulped down the rest of his milk, and put his bowl in the sink. He turned and leaned against the counter, and said, "So Dad's type is, petite strong willed blondes huh?"
"Yeah?" Spike turned in his chair to see what the kid was trying to get at.
"You know that describes you."
"What? Sod off! I'm not petite!"
"You are compared to Dad." Connor smiled.
"And I'm not really blond either!"
"I know." Connor's smile turned into a grin. "That means you do it on purpose."
It only took a millisecond for Spike to realize what Connor was implying, and lunged for the boy, intending to put him in a headlock until he took it back.
Expecting the attack, Connor evaded Spike's grasp, and took off running for the front door. He made it out into the morning sunlight in record time, and turned to laugh at Spike.
Spike smiled, but it wasn't pleasant. "Yeah, you enjoy the sun while you can, college boy."
"I will, thanks." He got his car keys out of his pocket, and said, "I've got to get to class. See you in a few hours."
Spike shut the front door a little harder than usual, and decided he was ready to try and get some more sleep.
# # #
Luke woke up, and felt something cold next to him. His eyes popped open, and he saw Angel's face directly in front of him. Remembering last night, Luke smiled as he stretched, and mumbled, "Morning."
Angel said, "I tried to keep to my side of the bed so you wouldn't get cold last night, but each time I woke up, my hands had found their way over to you."
With a seductive smile, Luke said, "I'm not feeling cold now."
"No?" Angel murmured and kissed the uninjured side of Luke's neck.
"Not cold at all." Luke leaned up and kissed Angel's shoulder.
Pulling away from the younger man's neck, Angel made eye contact and asked, "Want to take a shower with me?" When he saw Luke nod, Angel got up, took Luke's hand, and led him to the bathroom, kissing him along the way.
Forty-five minutes later, Luke was eating scrambled eggs at the kitchen table, and Angel was debating getting himself a mug of blood. He didn't think Luke would be disgusted if he drank a mug of blood, but the subject of him feeding hadn't really come up.
After Luke had taken a couple of bites of the breakfast Angel had made him, he thought about asking if Angel was going to have any, and quickly realized the answer to that would be no.
"What?" Angel asked. "Did you find a shell in your eggs?"
Luke realized he'd paused with his fork half way up to his mouth. "No, they're great. I was just thinking about your breakfast."
The two made eye contact, and Angel said, "There's pigs blood in the refrigerator. I usually have it in a mug that I warm up in the microwave. Will that bother you?"
"No, go ahead," Luke said, relieved that Angel didn't want to eat any of his blood for breakfast, and put another bite of eggs in his mouth.
"I'm surprised you're taking it so well. Most people are grossed out when I tell them what I eat."
Swallowing first, Luke said, "I spent a lot of my childhood on a working farm. Things that would gross out a lot of people don't phase me."
Believing him, Angel got out some blood for himself. The two ate their breakfasts in companionable silence. When Luke was done, he got up and put his plate in the sink. Angel turned in his chair and asked, "Did you want to come into the office with me today, or would you rather stay here with Spike?"
"Well that depends," Luke said with a small smile.
"Do you think we can keep our hands off each other long enough for either of us to get any work done today?"
Grinning, Angel walked over and invaded Luke's personal space while putting his empty mug in the sink. He wrapped his arms around Luke's middle, and said softly, "No promises," before leaning in to kiss him. Angel could hear Gunn walking towards the kitchen, but didn't stop what he was doing, wanting Gunn to find out sooner rather than later.
Gunn stopped in his tracks, and just stared, trying to process what he was seeing.
When the kiss ended, Angel said, "Morning Gunn," without turning to look at him.
Flustered to be caught making out, Luke blushed and backed away from Angel a few steps, to see around his broad shoulders. When he saw Gunn's shell shocked expression, he said, "Um
maybe I should go check my emails before we go to the office."
Angel nodded, and Luke escaped to his room. Angel turned to look at Gunn, and said, "You wanna talk about this?"
"Angel man, I didn't know you were
" Gunn couldn't make his mouth come out with the word bisexual while thinking about the friend that he'd known for seven years.
Angel gestured to the table, and the two men sat down. He said, "I've lived a long time. In my human years I was only with women. About twenty years after I was turned, Darla said she wanted to invite another man into our bed. I was very against the idea at first. But then when I saw who she had in mind
" Angel looked down at the table and said, "He was human, barely sixteen. We did horrible things to him. Kept him alive for days even when he begged for death. He was my first male. We'd done similar things to hundreds of girls before that, but he sticks in my head. After that I never denied her when she asked to bring a male home."
Angel brought his eyes up to meet Gunn's. Gunn nodded in understanding. He'd met Angelus. He knew how cruel he could be, and wasn't surprised. Angel continued, "Then when I first had my soul back, I couldn't bring myself to sleep with anyone for years. But because I lived in the allies and sewers, I constantly ran into lost souls trying to find a moment of happiness in their miserable lives. I was always able to refuse until I met a kid named Phillip. He was in his early twenties, and he'd been living on the streets for three years as a prostitute. I found him in an ally beaten and bleeding. It took everything I had not to eat him when I smelled the blood. I picked him up to take him to a doctor, but he begged me not to, so I took him back to the abandoned barn I'd been sleeping in. I helped him recover, and once he was healthy
he was grateful. I tried to resist, but after months of him following me around, I eventually gave in."
The room grew silent for a few seconds while Gunn mulled this new information over. Having had some time to recover from his initial shock, he said, "It will take some time to get used to the idea, but I can get past you liking men. But what's with you and Luke? He's a client. We just met him."
"I know. I could hear and smell his attraction to me the instant we met, and after spending some time with him, I felt the same way. I could have resisted, but I didn't want to."
Trying to stay calm, Gunn said, "Have you already slept with him?"
"I don't see where that's any of your business."
"Because of the curse!"
With a sigh, Angel said, "We've been over this before. Just because I have sex with someone doesn't mean it's a moment of perfect happiness. I didn't turn into Angelus when I slept with Phillip."
Leaning forward, Gunn said, "I know that, but that kiss I just saw? That wasn't a one night stand kind of kiss. And the way your face looks when you talk about him? That's the look of a man falling in love."
Angel looked down at his hands on the table, knowing Gunn had a valid point, even if he didn't want to admit it. Quietly he said, "I know things may get to that point at some time in the future, but it's no where close to that yet. He's still got feelings for Noah, and he was in love with someone else three months ago. It's not going to be perfect any time soon. I want to wait until we hear from Willow before I talk to Luke about it "
Satisfied to see that Angel had given it some serious thought already, Gunn nodded and said, "Okay."
Surprised, Angel made eye contact, "Okay?"
"I want you to be happy, I just don't want to meet your evil twin again because of it."
Angel smiled. "Thanks Gunn."
# # #
Three Weeks Later:
Luke woke up, rolled to the side, and reached a hand out for his lover. Finding the bed empty, he sat up and looked around. The clock on his nightstand read 7:08AM. Thinking it was odd that the vampire would be up before him, Luke got up, got dressed, and went out into the living room.
He found Spike and Noah sitting on the couch together watching a black and white movie that he didn't recognize. He said, "Did you guys stay up all night?"
"Shhh! This is the good part." Spike hissed without looking Luke's way.
Noah stood and gestured for Luke to follow him into the kitchen, where they would be less of an annoyance to the older vampire.
Luke hesitated. He hadn't been alone with Noah since that night at the bar, even though Noah had had his soul back, and been living at Angel's house for over a week now. Knowing he couldn't put it off forever, Luke forced his feet to move forward.
Once they were in the kitchen together, Noah said, "I've been meaning to talk to you for the past few days, but..." there was an awkward pause.
"Yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you too."
With a rueful smile, Noah shook his head. "No you haven't. You've been avoiding me."
"Don't." Noah cut him off. "Don't start lying to me now. Not after everything that's happened."
Luke shoved his hands into his pockets and stared at the floor. "Okay. Yeah, I have been avoiding you."
Sounding close to tears, Noah asked, "Are you afraid of me now?"
Luke's head snapped back up, "What? No, of course not, Noah!" He stepped closer to Noah, and pulled him into a tight hug as proof. "Don't ever think that, okay?"
Some tears ran down Noah's face while he hugged Luke back, but he hardly noticed. He'd done a lot of crying over the past week and a half. "But after the things I did to you..."
Luke kept his hands on Noah's shoulders, but pushed him away far enough to look into his eyes when he said, "That wasn't the real you. I know that. I knew it, even before I knew what was wrong with you."
Luke let go of Noah's shoulders, and walked over to the kitchen counter to start making himself some coffee. "Because of Angel."
Noah saw what Luke was doing, and took the coffee can from his hands almost automatically, "Here, let me." Then when he realized what he'd done, he paused to see Luke's reaction.
Smiling slightly, Luke said, "Afraid I'll forget to put the pot under it again?"
With an easy smile, Noah said, "No, I'm afraid it will have the consistency of glue again."
Luke waved a hand in the general direction of the coffee pot and said, "You're the Java worker, not me."
Happy to have something to do with his hands, Noah started making the coffee and said, "So you were avoiding me because you're with Angel now?"
Leaning against the counter, Luke said, "I guess I felt guilty. I came all the way out here, and hired Angel to find you, because I was worried about you. And then while you were going through the most traumatic experience in your life, I was falling in love with someone else."
Noah made eye contact and said, "I want you to be happy Luke. I still love you. You know that. But I can't be with anyone right now, and I want you to be happy. If Angel makes you happy, then you should be with him."
"Thanks." Luke said quietly. Once the coffee was dripping, he said, "How is it going with Spike?"
Noah leaned against the counter too, and shrugged. "Okay I guess. Does it seem weird to you? You haven't really said much about it."
"Right before Willow came to curse your soul back into you, Angel and Spike sat the rest of us down and tried to explain it to us. They said that all new vampires have a kind of instinctual need for a Sire for a few years, but if they lose their real sire, that need is somehow intensified. I'm not saying it's not weird to see you being so
submissive to him, because it is. But better Spike than your real Sire."
Staring off into space, Noah whispered, "I still miss her. She's cruel, she's violent, she's immoral, and I hate her. But a part of me misses her too, even though I know I could never tolerate being around her now. It's not something I ever felt while I was human. I can't describe it very well. It's not a sexual feeling, and it's not the same feeling I would have for a parent. It's
"I'm sorry you miss her."
Noah made eye contact and smiled softly. "Don't be. I feel the same way about Spike, and he's someone I can actually look up to and have respect for. The fact that we both love movies has made the transition easier. And I haven't had that much time to think about her with all the training we've been doing."
"Do you like the training?" Luke asked. He doubted he would appreciate it if he were being forced to practice fighting moves every day for hours.
"Like doesn't figure into it. It's something my Sire wants me to do."
Luke shook his head and frowned.
Trying to make Luke feel better, Noah said, "Pleasing him makes me happy, so I guess you could say I like the training. Spike said I'm already fairly good at it. Probably thanks to a childhood with Colonel Mayer."
"When do you think they'll let you go on a case with them?"
"Probably not for months. Spike hasn't even let me go to the office yet."
Luke got a mug out of the cupboard and poured himself some coffee. "You want some?"
"No thanks. Are you working today?"
Luke nodded and sipped his coffee. "Gunn, and I are going to go visit some of the homeless shelters in the area, so I can decide which one the foundation is going to donate to. Connor may come too if he gets out of class early enough. Then tonight, Angel said he'd take me out to dinner."
Working to keep the frown off his face, Noah said, "That's nice."
"Speaking of Angel, do you know where he is?"
" Noah trailed off. His eyes opened wide with surprise, and they darted to the kitchen door. Luke looked behind him, but couldn't see anything there.
Luke heard a muffled voice from the living room say, "Noah."
Luke saw Noah wince as if he'd been hit, even though the voice had been mild. Forgetting that Luke was even in the room, Noah whispered, "I'm sorry Sire. I forgot."
Coming into the kitchen, Spike turned to Luke and said, "Angel's in his room, and he doesn't want to be disturbed until he comes out. He'll take you to work in about an hour."
Confused, and trying to figure out what Noah was so upset about, Luke muttered, "Okay."
Spike focused on Noah, who bowed his head in a distinctly submissive pose. "Please forgive me Sire, I didn't mean to."
"Didn't mean to what?" Luke asked.
Both vampires ignored him. Spike walked up to Noah, and gently carded his fingers through Noah's hair. He said softly, "I know you didn't mean to, and you stopped yourself before you did, but if you hadn't heard me stand up, you might have."
Luke heard an inhuman and pitiful whine come from Noah's throat.
Spike kissed Noah's forehead and said, "I am unhappy with you. You may not watch the rest of the movie with me. I'll think about forgiving you when I'm done watching it."
With fresh tears on his face, Noah whispered, "Yes Sire."
Spike let go of his surrogate childe and said, "Off to bed with you then."
Noah fled the room so quickly, Luke could only see a blur. He glared at Spike and said, "What did he do?"
Spike got himself some coffee and said, "Angel asked us not to tell you what he was up to, because he's all doe eyed over you, and Noah almost let the cat out of the bag."
Crossing his arms, Luke said, "So what?"
Spike got the pigs blood out of the refrigerator, and put a little in his coffee before taking a sip. Trying to be patient, Spike said, "So, Angel is my grandsire, and my new little childe feels the urge to please him almost as much as he feels the need to please me. He's distraught when he realizes he isn't making us happy."
They'd been over this more than once, and Luke had seen enough of Noah's behavior to know it was true, but it was still difficult for him to accept. "Okay, then why didn't you reassure him, and tell him he was forgiven right away?"
"Because he would have been miserable if I'd done that."
Luke waved an arm in the direction of the kitchen door and said, "He looked pretty miserable just now!"
Glaring, Spike raised his voice, "Having your soul shoved back down your gullet will do that to a man. Crying all day over nothing is a better way of dealing with it than the things I did." Spike cocked his head to the side and listened as his childe's weeping got louder. He said to the doorway, "Noah, turn some music on, and stop trying to listen to me."
Once he heard some music playing, Spike invaded Luke's personal space and growled at him. "This argument is making it worse for him." Swallowing hard, Luke backed up against he kitchen counter. Spike whispered, "Don't muck around in things you don't understand. You wanted him to have his soul back, but that doesn't make him human again. I've got a blood bond with him now, and I'll do with him as I see fit. You will stay out of it, or we'll move out for a few years."
Afraid of Spike for the first time, Luke nodded quickly and choked out, "I'm sorry. I won't interfere."
Spike took a step back and clapped Luke on the shoulder a little harder then necessary. "Glad we have an understanding."
"Spike!" Angel's exasperated voice came from the kitchen entrance.
Spike rolled his eyes, "Thought you were busy."
"I got done early. Now stop intimidating my boyfriend, and go take care of your childe. His sobbing is unnerving."
"My movie isn't over."
"Really? Because the TV is off, so I'd say it is."
Spike stormed out of the kitchen, muttering about grumpy grandsires who should mind their own business, and went to finish watching the movie with his crying childe in the room they were currently sharing.
Once Spike was out of the room, Luke felt like he could breathe more comfortably.
Angel pulled Luke into a hug, and said, "Sorry about that."
Luke pushed out of the hug and said suspiciously, "What were you doing?"
"Talking to Willow."
Irritated, Luke said, "Okay, so why the secrecy?"
"I was talking to her about my curse, and I didn't want you to know until I had an answer."
Irritation turned to concern. "What about your curse? Is everything okay?"
"Everything is fine. I just asked her what she thought about creating a new curse."
"A new curse?"
"One that won't go away just because I'm falling in love."
Luke couldn't keep the smile off his face at those words. "You're falling in love?"
Angel grabbed Luke around the middle, pulled him close, and kissed him possessively. Once the broke apart he said, "I am."
Breathless, Luke said, "Me too."
They kissed again, and Angel said, "Are you ready for work?"
"Not so fast!" Luke said. "Tell me what Willow said."
Angel smiled. "What do you think she said?"
"Yes?" Luke guessed.
Chuckling, Angel said, "No. She said she'd talk to Giles about it, and get back to us in a few weeks."
"Oh." Luke groaned with obvious disappointment.
Angel kissed the frown off his face, and said, "Trust me, if anyone can do it, Willow can."
Luke kissed him back, and when they broke apart, he said, "I hope so, because if you're feeling anything like what I'm feeling, we're going to need that new curse pretty damn quick."
"Pretty damn quick." Angel agreed, and let go of Luke. "Come on. Let's head to the office before we end up in bed again."
Luke smirked and followed Angel to the sewer entrance, so they could walk to the office together.
(Feedback makes me happy.)