Apology Past Due
rating: lighter than the first one.
main characters: Angel, Amanda
semi-sequel to 'Slight Miscalculation'
disclaimer: I do not own Angel or anyone else from Buffy/Angel, and I do not own Amanda or anyone else from the Highlander movie.
distribution: Twisting, Paula, TNL - anyone else ask.
note: set roughly season 2 of Angel: the Series.
Angel resisted the urge to sigh, and the darker urge to reach out and snap the neck of the idiot guiding the tour through the museum. This section was all about Chinese art, something that he’d learned a lot about back when he’d tried to reunite with Darla. During the Boxer Rebellion, when the night had been filled with screams, and he’d been trying to drown his soul in blood. Instead, he turned so that he was facing a rather familiar looking painting.
Had this been in the house that they had stayed in? Leaning closer, he could see the faint splashes of long dried blood in the corner, almost obscured by scorch marks. Yes, as he recalled, Spike and Dru had ended up getting into an argument over dinner… How unamusingly coincidental that it should be here. There was a flicker of movement to the right.
Turning his head, he caught a glimpse of a slim figure vanishing around a corner. A woman, dressed in something pale and close fitting. She moved softly, her feet not making noise, like a hunter… Memory stirred in him, and he felt his demon rattling at his prison, outraged by the faint scent of her carried by the air conditioning. He had the oddest urge to call her a thief.
He was still tying to figure out why his demon had reacted so strongly to her as he walked back to the Hyperion. He pulled the keys from his pocket, about to unlock the door when he realized that it was ever so slightly ajar. He pushed it open, creeping softly into the dark lobby. He’d locked the doors, and any of the others would have done the same. That could only mean that whoever had opened the door wasn’t supposed to be here.
He moved towards his office, following the sound of a single heartbeat. He could smell the woman, the bleach she’d used on her hair, the scent of the her leather pants, a tiny trace of hinge oil. He could almost smell the blood in her veins…
She smelled familiar. Suddenly, it clicked. The thief woman that Angelus had caught in his rooms, long ago. But… that had been over two hundred years ago, and she wasn’t a vampire. How was this possible? He remembered how he... how Angelus had kept her in the cellar for a while, whipping her back until it bled, licking the blood of and smiling at the way she’d shuddered, enjoying the scent of her fear and her blood. The taste had been far richer than anything else that he’d tasted, before or since.
“This makes twice that I’ve caught you trying to take my things.” He kept his voice calm.
She spun around, a tiny squeak emerging from her lips. The safe hung open, a string of pearls in her hand. Carefully, she tried to edge away from the door, clearly trying to make out his features in the dark.
He reached over and flipped the light switch, allowing the bright light to flood the room. It almost stung at his eyes, but he ignored the discomfort, putting it in the category of yet another minor form of penance for his sins. “Those aren’t yours.”
The blinking gave way to wide eyes recognition, and she smelled of fear. “No… you aren’t... but it’s been… you have to be dead!”
“Considering that it’s been well over two centuries and as I recall, you were dead when we parted ways before, I’m a bit curious about that myself. What exactly are you, little thief?” His voice had almost taken on a bit of a purr.
“I got better?” He voice raised a bit, the fear still rolling off of her.
“Obviously.” He leaned back against the door, feeling torn between guilt over Angelus’ treatment of her and curiosity. “But I’m a bit curious how. I can hear your heart pounding, so I know that you’re quite alive. How is that possible?”
She glanced from side to side, as if seeking another exit. “Maybe you were just… mistaken?”
“No. I wasn’t then. You were quite dead. Now, you aren’t.” He sighed, feeling the guilt getting stronger. “Actually… I suppose that I owe you an apology about all of that.”
“An apology? You kept me chained up in the cellar! It isn’t done to keep people in cellars, that’s for… food.” Her voice suddenly grew very faint, and she leaned against the wall as if she was about to faint.
Angel waited, half certain that things had just clicked in her mind. He’d offered an apology, now to see how everything else unfolded…
“You’re a… but… I didn’t want to believe her. You can’t be a… vampire?” Her words ended on a half question, as if she was hoping that he’d tell her she was wrong.
“Actually, I am. I have been for a bit over two hundred and fifty years. Clearly, that’s not the secret to your youthful good looks.” He had a half smile, and remained on the other side of the office from her.
“errr… no. I’m just… Immortal.” The capitol in immortal was audible. She looked worried, and afraid.
“I don’t have the same habits anymore. But I would appreciate if you put the pearls back.” He smiled just a little, in what he’d hoped was reassurance.
She edged her way back along the wall, not taking her eyes off of him. Her hand was shaking as she lifted the pearls up, dropping them back into the safe. “You… kept me in a cellar! Like a bottle of wine.”
“Yes. And I did offer a bit of an apology. It wasn’t very kind of me. At the time, I wasn’t a very kind person. More of a soulless bastard than much else.” He wondered if she got this worked up over everything, or if this fell under special circumstances.
“I suppose you got better?” Her words carried a hint of sarcasm. “Although it was probably better than the city jail would have been. No rats, at the least.”
“There is that small point.” He had to smile just a bit at her query. It was only logical, after all. “I didn’t just… get better. There was a small matter of upsetting a clan of gypsies and getting cursed with a soul, and guilt, then about eighty years of mostly brooding, and a few other things, but… I did get better.”
“So when you said you used to be a soulless bastard, you weren’t joking?” She seemed slightly calmer, and while she was still afraid, it wasn’t the wild terror of before.
“Not about the soulless part. When someone becomes a vampire, they loose their soul. It takes something… serious to bring it back. So… what should I call you anyhow? Why do you still go around stealing things? You’d have to be even worse with money than Dru to be poor…” Angel looked at her, suddenly curious.
“I’m Amanda. And mostly, it’s for the enjoyment of it. The challenge.” She had a small smile, as if remembering more successful escapades.
“Because you can.” He smiled just a bit, remembering all the things that he as Angelus had done ‘because he could’. “You could get yourself into a lot of trouble that way.”
She snorted with laughter, looking pointedly at him. “I know, that’s happened before.”
He chuckled, certain that she was meaning more than just him, although he was probably on her list of ‘past problems’. “Hopefully, you can generally get out with a bit less trouble?”
“Most of the time.” She nodded, almost entirely unafraid now. “Look, I should probably be going, so if you could step away from the door?”
“Of course, Amanda. If we meet again, let’s hope that you aren’t trying to steal my things again.” He smiled a bit as he walked away from the door, glancing into the safe to make sure everything important was still there. He picked up her lock-picks, holding them towards her. “These are yours.”
She blushed, taking the small bundle from his hand. “Right, sorry about the fuss, I’ll just be going now.”
Angel just sat in his chair, pondering things as she left. Immortal. Well, it had given him the chance to offer an apology to her for his actions. To make things if not right then better with one of his victims. Things felt a little better, as if the weight of his guilt was a bit less now. Two centuries was a long time for an apology to wait.
End Apology Past Due.