Her Taste (Angelus, s2)
Angelus had tried all sorts of things to get that taste out of his mouth. If he hadn’t known that Liam – the miserable, drunken bastard – had been a lazy sot and nominal Catholic, he’d have sworn that it was some sort of torture just for him. He’d called himself ‘Angel’ and spent his days wallowing in guilt – very Catholic – and mooning over the Slayer. He’d spent his nights brooding and following said Slayer around like a love-struck boy and… even worse… kissing the Slayer. He hadn’t even enjoyed killing the demons and pathetic minions.
He could still taste her in his mouth. Not the delicious sizzle and tang of Slayer blood. No… Angelus shuddered.
This time he grabbed for a bottle of whiskey. Maybe that could numb the taste. The prostitute with the cigarette hadn’t. Neither had the second one, and they’d played a while before he’d killed her, taking her out of her miserable life with passion. Granted, he’d probably enjoyed it a bit more than she had, but still… passion.
Why do something at all if you weren’t going to be passionate about it?
He walked down the road, wishing that it was a drunken stagger. Had he been staggeringly drunk, his mouth would be tasting of alcohol, perhaps kisses from a tavern-wench, or blood from a bar-fight or two. Not still tasting of…
He shuddered, wondering if it would help if he gargled with Holy Water, or ripped out his offending tongue.
By the end of the second bottle, he was ready to try, though he’d insist that he wasn’t drunk… unfortunately. And he could still taste her.
The Holy Water had burned. He’d felt the soft parts of his mouth sizzle, and bits had dissolved, and there were simply no words for the sheer, horrific pain of it all, and he’d spat onto the polished wooden floor of the church, spitting what had once been Holy Water now mingled with blood and pale fluids and the dissolved portions of his tongue and his gums, and the insides of his lips and cheeks. Tears had run down his face, and he’d sputtered and gasped, unsure if he wanted to breathe in cool air or force out the faintest trace of the Holy Water.
Any intoxicating effect of the whiskey was burned away by that.
So was the taste of Slayer.
His left hand had been burned by the Holy Water, not quite down to the bone but it was painful and refusing to close or open fully. His right had been cut by the empty whiskey bottle that he’d still been holding when he’d given in to that spectacularly awful yet effective idea, the bottle that he’d crushed when the pain hit him. There were glass shards embedded in his fingers, shards digging into the palm, grating against bones and sawing at the tendons.
By the time his will had shattered enough that he would have howled with pain he had been unable to do so.
When Angelus left the church, he was staggering just as much. Now it was from pain instead of whiskey. He also felt a growing awareness that he’d need a place to hide from the sunlight… and he’d bet someone’s thighbone and eyeteeth that the Slayer was still in his apartment. Hell if he was going back there!
Maybe an abandoned factory or warehouse… both made very popular demon lairs. Popular enough that any one that he picked might already be in use. His hands ached, and the glass shredded against the tendon in his right hand. He wouldn’t be able to fight for a place to stay. Not in this condition.
Each footstep seemed to jar the bones of his jaw, making his teeth ache. Parting his burned lips, he attempted to say something – anything, perhaps a curse against the Slayer, or to call himself a fool, but he couldn’t manage even a little hiss or a growl. While this damn foolish idea had worked – his mouth no longer tasted of Slayer – it had been overkill.
He made a small huff, scowling at the idea. Overkill was supposed to be a laughable human idea – there was only ‘not enough to kill it’ and ‘it is dead now’, with the chance that ‘it is dead now’ could get very messy and a range of artistic creativity with ‘not dead yet’.
He found himself leaning against a mailbox. Had he been mortal, he would call it trying to catch his breath, or taking a moment to plan ahead. Deny it as he might, he needed the moment to try to push the pain back enough to make a plan. Any plan. The sun would rise in three hours, and he had to be inside somewhere safe before then. Ideally, it would be a place where he wouldn’t be in danger from opportunistic demons, or stray sunbeams…
The dark blue mailbox said “Rosenberg”.
For a few moments, Angelus simply blinked at the mailbox, his mind at first swimming in red pain before an image of a girl with red hair drifted before his eyes. Yes, the girl with the computers… the shy one. Shy, willing to do almost anything for her friends… Probably easy to manipulate. If he staggered up to her like this, she’d probably try to patch him up, get some blood for ‘poor Angel’, and babble at him eliminating any need for him to spin a story or devise a convincing lie… which he wasn’t certain he could do right now. Yes, he’d walk up to her bedroom door, and give her the pleading, intense look with his eyes, and she’d be eating out of his hand…
Well, maybe not literally. That would be too painful for a while. And it would be best not to hurt her until he was sufficiently healed that he could hunt and fight on his own… Gargling Holy Water had been stupid, damaging, and above and below painful. He was damn near helpless right now, and he couldn’t afford to kill a potentially useful pawn. And as smart as she was, she might make a useful minion…
Angelus stumbled towards the door, hoping to something that she was still awake. He couldn’t knock – both hands were ruined for the moment – and he couldn’t call her name. Maybe he could kick the door…
He hadn’t expected to stumble and smack his head into the door. Wasn’t he already beat up enough without giving himself a lump on the temple?
“Who’s there…” there was the sound of a thin chain rattling, and the curtain moved, revealing a bloodshot eye and wisps of red hair escaping a braid. “Angel?”
That was right… there had been the party in the library, and then she’d probably been called upon to help research the Judge. Had she even gone to sleep yet? He attempted to make a noise, with no more result than to split open one of the blisters and semi-scabs that had formed over the melted tissues of his mouth. The increase in pain caused him to sway, and he ended up leaning against the doorframe, feeling the world spinning around him as he fought to keep from collapsing to his knees.
“Oh my God, you look awful, Angel! What happened, you look… oh, your hands!” Willow flung the door open, and her own hands fluttered about like wounded birds, not quite certain if they wanted to hover at his burned left hand, the blisters over his lips, or the shards of glass and slashes of his right hand.
She slipped herself under his shoulder and heaved him back to his feet before towing him into her room, one foot hooking the chair in front of her computer. Before he had the chance to look for any embarrassing undergarments this time, she let him drop into the computer chair, the impact jarring at his teeth and making the glass cuts on his right hand sting.
He blinked, finding himself alone in the room. At least there were thick curtains and blinds. No sunlight to destroy him, though he wondered if that might not be quicker and less painful.
He blinked again, and she was back, with a first aid kit, and a small bowl on the desk beside him and a pair of tweezers in her hand. “Angel, I need to take the glass out of your hand for it to be able to heal, okay? I don’t know what happened, and you don’t look like you should try talking right now, so just… I guess just let me take the glass out and try to remember that this is supposed to help.”
Sliver by shard, the glass was removed, and he tried to use her running commentary to stay awake. He registered her asking if vampires could get infections, and he managed to shake his head no. She wrapped his right hand in bandages. For a few moments, he was puzzled why she smeared his left with some sort of slippery not quite clear yellowish gel, and he looked at her, raising one eyebrow.
“You said you didn’t get infections, well, shook your head about it, but anyhow… no infections isn’t the same as your skin… layers underneath the skin sticking to the bandages while you’re trying to heal. This would help speed healing and prevent infection for a human, with you it should still keep the bandages from sticking to you,” Willow murmured, wrapping his left hand in bandages to cover the glistening ointment.
If he was honest with himself, he felt better with the burns covered up. It helped him forget how monumentally stupid he’d been.
Now he just had to figure out if he wanted to kill Willow as a message to the Slayer, turn her to make her his own useful ally, or seduce and break her the way he’d destroyed Drusilla. Maybe even seduce her over to his side without killing her…
The question would give him something to think about until he was healed enough to act on whatever choice he settled on. He was certain that the taste of Willow would be a big improvement.
End Her Taste.