The pretty blonde girl’s eyes were very wide as she looked at him. “So, I guess I call you William now, huh?”
“It is my name, Miss Kendall,” William replied. He was a little unsure as to how he should address this girl. She was no lady of his own class, that was plain, and yet she was not a domestic servant either. Distinctions of class seemed to matter little in the America of this century and female emancipation had obviously advanced greatly since his time. The situation was further complicated by Mr Angel’s revelation that there had been a romantic liaison of some sort between Harmony Kendall and Spike at one time. And, of course, by her being a vampire.
“Miss Kendall? Huh? What’s with that?” Miss Kendall shook her head. “You’ve changed a whole lot. It’s like you’re a whole different person. I guess I can deal. Spike never treated me all that well, you know?” She sighed. “But I loved him anyway.”
“I don’t think that William really wants to know that, Harmony,” Mr Angel put in.
“Don’t worry, I won’t try to make anything out of it,” Harmony said. “It was totally over anyway. This will be, like, strictly business.”
William frowned. Hearing that his other self had not behaved properly towards this girl was an unpleasant surprise. He could not lightly dismiss her assertion as stemming from the bitterness of a woman scorned, for her manner did not support that interpretation, and Mr Angel’s words had not contradicted her.
“But hey, Angel, I don’t want this ‘looking after William’ thing to be the whole of my job,” Harmony went on, turning away from him and facing Mr Angel. “I was your PA for nearly a year and I was getting pretty darn good at it. Right? You even said so in the recommendation you gave me. So that’s the job I want back. Okay, for Angel Investigations instead of Wolfram and Hart, and I guess I might have to take a salary hit on account of the business being smaller, only not too big a hit ‘cause of having rent to pay and things, you know, but I want to do pretty much the same work. ‘Cause you can be a bit of a doofus sometimes and you need somebody to keep you straight.”
“I have Nina for that,” Mr Angel said. He smiled as he said it, and the corners of Harmony’s mouth turned up in an answering smile, seeming to carry a hint of amusement, as if Mr Angel had made a joke. “Okay, you’re hired. At the same salary. Maybe not the same benefits package, but I’ll see what I can do. And you can move into the hotel if you like. Rent free. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of spare rooms.”
“Oh, that is so cool,” Harmony smiled. She bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. “You are so the best boss ever, Angel.”
“Thanks. Oh, one thing, Harmony – no betraying me this time, okay?”
William’s eyebrows rose on hearing those words. Harmony only smiled wider.
“No problem, boss,” she said. “Third time’s the charm, right? It means a whole lot to me that you took me back. I won’t let you down. You can have confidence in me.”
Mr Angel nodded. “You can start off by organising some blood supplies for both of us. Then I want you to make sure that William has everything that he needs. Spike got by on cigarettes, whiskey, black clothes, and punk rock, but William will need a little more than that.”
Harmony clapped her hands together. “I can give him a makeover? Cool. Goodbye to the seventies and into the twenty-first century. I’ll have him looking like he belongs here in no time. The first thing is to get rid of that coat.”
“It is rather hot,” William agreed, “however it does seem to be acceptable apparel in this time. I observed several people at the exhibition who were wearing similar coats.”
“Well, yeah, but they were nerds, Spi-William,” Harmony said. “It’s just ‘cause of The Matrix. Nobody cool dresses like that outside of winter. I’ll get you clothes that are right for the weather. And hey, a haircut.”
“No pink. No unicorns,” Mr Angel cautioned.
“Well, duh,” Harmony said, and she tossed her head. “Leave it to me, boss. This is gonna be fun.”
“Not bad,” Mr Angel commented. “A big improvement on Spike’s look.”
Illyria made the figures on her screen freeze in place and then removed the earmuffs that enabled her to hear the game’s sounds without disturbing the other people in the room. “Satisfactory,” she gave her opinion. “Aesthetically pleasing and in accordance with the apparel of other humans in the locality. Perhaps I should adopt similarly inconspicuous garb on some occasions as a form of protective colouration. I dislike adopting the outward form of the shell unless it is a necessity.”
“I could totally help you shop,” Harmony volunteered.
“I will accept your assistance,” Illyria said, her tone implying that she was granting a favour. She replaced her earmuffs, returned her attention to her game, and began once more to slaughter simulated German soldiers.
Mr Angel’s eyebrows rose and fell. “Yeah, that could be interesting, and maybe useful. Same proviso as with William, Harmony; no unicorns, and no pink. Well, maybe a little pink, but not too much.”
“Not much pink, check,” Harmony agreed. “I did a good job on William, right, boss?”
“You did,” Mr Angel said, and he nodded. “Very smart.”
William smiled. He was delighted with the lightweight suit that Harmony had chosen for him, he had to admit, although it felt a little odd to be wearing a shirt open at the neck with no tie or cravat. “I am pleased that you approve, Mr Angel,” he said.
“Please, William, drop the ‘Mr’, okay? Just call me Angel.”
“Very well, ah, Angel,” William replied. “I am extremely grateful to you. And to you, Harmony, for your invaluable assistance and advice.”
“No problem,” Harmony said. “It was fun. Spikey would never listen to me. I totally could have brought him up to date and he’d never let me.” She looked at Illyria and her eyes narrowed. “Now, what goes with blue?”
“How’s it going?” Angel asked. “Have you gotten the hang of the twenty-first century yet?”
“I think that it will be a long time before this time ceases to amaze me,” William said. “It is truly an age of wonders. Moving pictures come into the home from the other side of the world. Heavier-than-air flying machines traverse the skies. The Empire has disappeared. Man has walked upon the very moon above us. Every hour I come upon something that astounds me afresh.”
“Holtz seemed to adjust in almost no time,” Angel mused. William had no idea what he was talking about. “I guess he just wasn’t interested in anything that didn’t have to do with killing me. Or maybe Sahjahn was a better teacher than me.”
“You have encountered someone else who was, ah, from the past?” William asked.
“It’s a long story,” Angel said. “And not a happy one for me. I might tell you some time.”
“As you wish,” William said. He sought for an alternative topic. “I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for me. I only wish that there was some way in which I could repay you. I would dearly love to be able to make some worthy contribution to your endeavours. Alas, I fear that I would make but a poor show as a demon fighter.”
“Don’t worry about it. We can handle the demon fighting,” Angel assured him. “Illyria’s the best I’ve ever seen and even Harmony is more than a match for the average vampire. It’s the other areas where we fall short at the moment. Research, translating ancient prophecies, that sort of thing. And the visions from the Powers That Be. It’s going to be hard for us to manage without Cordelia and Wesley. You’re not getting any visions of strange things happening, people in danger, that sort of thing, are you? Or the ability to read Etruscan?”
“No visions, I am afraid,” William said. “I have no knowledge of Etruscan either. Only the usual Latin and Greek, a little Hebrew, and of course French.”
“You know Latin and Greek?” Angel sat up very straight. “Really?”
“Well, yes,” William said, feeling slightly offended at Angel’s obvious surprise. “I took Greats at Oxford. Did my, ah, other self, Spike, not tell you? I understood you to have said that he had all my memories, although I have none of his.”
“Spike was always pretty close-mouthed about what he’d been like as a human,” Angel said. “Latin? I think that there’s a Latin translation of the Placenza scrolls. And I know there’s a Greek version of the Rituals of Gathas. Hey, maybe we’re in business.”
“I would be only too pleased to give whatever help I can,” William offered.
“That would be great.” Angel grinned widely. “So, you had a degree from Oxford? Spike was holding out on me. I wonder. What did you do for a living, William?”
“Oh, my degree was of no practical use,” William revealed. “I occupied my time in writing poetry and in caring for my ailing mother. My mother…” Although William had realised that his mother must be long dead he had done so only in an abstract fashion and had not yet come to terms with the realisation. As he mentioned her the reality suddenly struck home and he was stricken with a wave of grief. “Mother,” he repeated, and he felt tears welling up in his eyes. “She is dead, isn’t she? Oh, mother, how you must have worried about me. You must have died alone.” Tears began to trickle down his cheeks. He fumbled for a pocket handkerchief.
Angel stood up and put his hand on William’s shoulder. He said nothing, but the grip gave William comfort somehow.
Illyria spoke from behind William. “I detest grief. It is as ashes in my mouth.”
“Illyria,” Angel said, his voice stern, “Not now.”
Illyria ignored him. “I shall send an e-mail to Roger and Trish Burkle,” she announced. “I shall tell them of the deaths of Wesley and of Gunn. I shall not tell them of Fred.”
“You’re going to keep pretending that Fred is alive?”
“I am.” Illyria’s voice softened, the first time that William had heard any emotion in her voice other than contempt, annoyance, or grim satisfaction. “There has been grief enough.” William felt a pressure upon his other shoulder and he glanced down and saw Illyria’s slender fingers resting there. “All of us have lost ones who were dear to us.” The fingers were removed. “Pathetic, weak, human emotion,” Illyria said, the hard edge returning to her voice. “It sickens me. I am defiled.”
William heard Illyria’s footsteps recede into the distance. He dabbed at his cheeks with one of the pieces of soft paper that served as a substitute for a handkerchief in this age. “I am sorry,” he said. “My mother must have been dead for many, many, years.”
“No need to be sorry, William,” Angel said. “Like Illyria said, we’ve all lost people who were dear to us. And we all still bear the scars of those losses.”
Angel’s girlfriend was an extremely pretty girl, perhaps even prettier than Harmony, and it seemed to William that her eyes held a serenity and compassion that made her quite eclipse the vampire girl. “I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss Ash,” he said sincerely.
“Angel’s right, you’re not all that much like Spike. Call me Nina,” she said. “I’m glad to meet you, William. Although I did like Spike. He was kinda fun. And he kept Angel from getting too serious.”
“Hey,” Angel protested. “That was nothing to do with Spike. It was you.”
“I know my limitations, Angel,” Nina said. Her eyes twinkled. “It’s good to be back. Well, not that I’ve ever actually been here before.”
“It’s not a bad place,” Angel said. “I think maybe you might like it.”
“It has to be better than Wolfram and Hart,” Nina said. “That place was getting you down.”
“Yeah. About the only thing that I miss from there is the necro-tinted glass. You won’t see me in the sunshine any more, I’m afraid, Nina.”
“I’m just glad that I can see you at all.” Nina glanced around the room. “You said you had a cage here, right? Is it upstairs?”
“Oh, is it the full moon already?” Harmony asked. “The cage is downstairs in the basement, Nina. I was gonna get it all clean for you, and rig up somewhere for you to hang your clothes, but I haven’t done it yet. I’ll get right on it.”
“There’s no rush, Harmony,” Nina told her. Her greeting to Harmony had included an embrace, and William deduced that the two girls were friends. There had been no greeting at all between Nina and Illyria. “The full moon isn’t until the third of June,” Nina went on. “Well, the second is when I’m gonna have to be locked up.”
“Cool,” Harmony said, smiling broadly. “So, maybe we could hang out tonight while Angel’s doing the demon-chasing thing? Watch a movie, maybe?”
“Nina’s a werewolf,” Angel explained to William, as Nina and Harmony talked. “For three nights a month she has to be locked up in a steel cage. The rest of the time she’s, well, probably the nicest girl in the world.”
“Only probably?” Nina raised her eyebrows. “You’re gonna have to do better than that if you want me to forgive you, any time soon, for you sending me away.”
“I couldn’t risk you getting hurt, Nina,” Angel told her. “I just couldn’t. I didn’t think we’d make it through. I didn’t want you caught up in it.”
“She’s just teasing you, Angel,” Harmony said.
“Hey, you sneak, Harmony. Whose side are you on?” Nina pouted. William detected a trace of laughter in her voice and guessed that she was not really annoyed.
“I’m neutral,” Harmony said. “You’re my friend, but Angel pays my wages.”
William smiled. He was beginning to feel happy in this strange place. Discovering that he did have something to contribute, even if only in a small way, had made a big difference. He could feel that he was a part of this group. He liked Angel, he had come to like Harmony although he was still uncertain of how to treat her, he liked Illyria despite her oddities, and he had a feeling that he would like Nina very much. Everything was going well.
“I think you…” Angel began. He was interrupted by the hotel doors being thrown open behind him.
Six girls entered the atrium, in two files of three, and took up positions to each side of the doors. Between the files walked the man Andrew who had spoken to ‘Spike’ at the games exhibition. He still wore the long coat despite its total unsuitability for the warm evening.
“Angel,” he said. “So, Vampyre with a Soul, we meet again.”
Angel tensed. “Andrew,” he acknowledged curtly. Illyria came to her feet. Harmony backed away for a couple of paces and clenched her fists. Nina looked from Angel to the new arrivals and her eyebrows climbed. “Clients?” she asked.
Angel turned his head slightly towards Nina but kept his eyes trained on the girls by the doors. “Nina,” he said in a low voice. “If you think a fight is going to start, run. Get to one of the bedrooms, lock yourself in, and call the cops. William, the same goes for you.”
“Spike, we’ve come to take you home,” Andrew said. “We can probably do something about getting your memories back. It’s time for you to get back to Buffy. She’s missed you.”
“This isn’t Spike, Andrew,” Angel said. “He’s William. And if he wants to go with you, fine. But it’s his choice.”
“How can he make a choice without his memories?” Andrew said. “You’ve probably told him all kinds of lies, Vampyre. Criatura del Noche. You don’t get to make Spike’s decisions for him.”
“I am perfectly happy to stay with Mr Angel for as long as he is willing to put up with me,” William said. “I have no desire to go to places unknown with people of whom I have no memories.”
“Brainwashed,” Andrew sighed. “Or maybe Thrall. I thought as much. I’m sorry, Spike, I can’t let you have any choice in the matter. And you can’t stop me, Vampyre. Get out of the way and let me have Spike or face the wrath of six Slayers.”
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. ANGEL ©2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The ANGEL trademark is used without express permission from Fox. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.