Disclaimer: Not mine, no money, and so on.

On the Run

He’d only been back in Sunnydale a few hours, and already he’d found trouble.

To be fair, Angel thought, though it didn’t really feel very fair, the boy was always trouble.

Xander stumbled along beside him, walking quickly to keep up with his long strides.  Angel had half expected him to keep up a steady stream of complaints while he dragged the boy to Giles’s flat, but he didn’t.  He didn’t say a word, just glared, eyes glittering in the darkness.

There was no further sign of the demon that had taken him over.

That the boy was possessed and no one had noticed it made him think that things were worse in Sunnydale than he could have imagined.  Maybe I shouldn’t have left for LA after all, he thought darkly, tightening his grip around Xander’s upper arm.  He was so deeply engrossed in his contemplation that he didn’t even notice Xander’s gasp of pain.  Buffy would surely have noticed that one of her best friends was under the influence of a demon, wouldn’t she? If I hadn’t left, Xander might not have been possessed, or even if he had, someone might have noticed it sooner. 

He sighed.  The soul was somehow ready and willing to take on the additional guilt, in addition to the knowledge that one of his… Angelus’ Childer was somehow in danger. 

He was actually kind of glad that he had the problem of Xander to deal with, because he couldn’t figure out how he felt about what had happened to Spike, and he really didn’t want to deal with it.

No matter what I do, I’m going to have to deal with it, he realized suddenly.  It doesn’t matter if I leave him wherever he is or rescue him, I’m going to have to deal with whatever I do…  Angel frowned deeply.  Damn you, Spike.

He only came back to himself when he felt Xander almost manage to pull away from him.  He caught a glimpse of the boy’s eyes, glowing green once more.  “What do ye think yer doin’, demon?” he growled, unable to stop the hint of menace in his voice.

But then the demon was gone and the whelp didn’t even show that it fazed him.  “So much for vampire senses!” Xander muttered back, still trying to wriggle away.  “Can’t you smell ‘em?”

Angel morphed into his vampire face, lifting his nose a little to catch a breeze and inhaling deeply.  There it was, tickling his nose again among all the other smells of Sunnydale, the tang of gun oil and metal, and, heavier in the air, the scent of men.

He blinked at that.  Not just one man, he realized.   There was a group of them, and now that he was concentrating, he could hear those men moving around him and Xander, trying to encircle them.  Or, he thought, taking a quick glance around to see where they were, to force us into a dead end…

“You’d better untie me,” Xander said, pivoting a little so that his hands, still bound behind him, brushed Angel’s coat.

“Let you go when I’ve gone to so much trouble to catch you?” Angel scoffed.  “I don’t think so, demon.”

Xander rolled his eyes.  “Oh, yeah, so much trouble, tackling me to the ground and crushing my ribs.  Look, if you don’t untie me, they’re gonna catch us – by which I really mean you.  So take back your belt, bondage boy.”  He poked at Angel again.  “C’mon, we’ve gotta get out of here!”

They were still some distance from the safety of Giles’s flat, and the guys with the guns were closing fast.  His car would be of no help, as he’d parked it at the mansion, and while Xander’s parents’ house was not too far away, he was quite sure he’d never get an invite.

All this ran through Angel’s mind in an instant.  Deciding quickly, he spun the boy around and, ignoring his squawk of protest, tossed him up over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.  The impact of soft stomach against hard shoulder knocked Xander’s wind out of him; Angel heard the boy’s explosive “oof!”  But he was too busy running – and minding Xander’s flailing legs – to really do anything about it.

He poured every bit of strength he had into moving as fast as he could, letting his long legs eat up the ground stride by stride.  Behind them, he heard bursts of radio static, snatches of words, mostly curses, and the pounding pounding pounding of running feet.

Xander kicked and squirmed over his shoulder, gasping as each pace kept him from drawing enough breath to protest.

He felt a little glow of satisfaction at that.  Finally found a way to make the boy shut up, he thought, grinning toothily.  I’ll have to remember it later.  Only then did he realize he was still in game face, his fangs sharp against his lip.  “Hold still,” he growled, “I can run faster and I don’t need to breathe.”

Xander’s struggles slowed, stopped, and, as if he suddenly understood the sense of what Angel was doing, he went limp.

Although, Angel reflected with carefully repressed glee, that might just be the blood rushing to his head…

The sounds of pursuit were growing fainter, but he didn’t quite dare slow down.  The bits of conversation he’d been able to make out got him to thinking that these men were some kind of trained demon hunting squad or something.  They were highly organized, almost military in the nature of their orders, and he wasn’t quite willing to bet that they didn’t have wood-tipped bullets in their guns, or other means of causing a vampire’s destruction.

Only when he could no longer hear anything behind him did he slow down.  In his mad dash, intent on escape alone, he’d stuck to the streets, partly because they were faster.  He had avoided cutting through as many of the cemeteries as he could, because they gave such great opportunities for ambush.  When he paused to get his bearings, however, he discovered they were at the wooded edge of one graveyard, not too far from the mansion.

Of course, Xander chose that moment to let loose all the complaints he hadn’t had a chance to before.  “Ow!  Pain.  Ow, ow, and, yes, ow.  Enough with the caveman routine, Dead Boy.  Let me down, untie me, and I might just forget to tell Buffy about this…”

Angel swung Xander down from his shoulder, but didn’t remove the belt from around his wrists, even when the boy turned and offered expectantly.  “Not until Giles has said that you’re gone, demon,” he replied.

Xander spun around, as angry as he’d ever seen him.  “Listen to me, Sir Broods-a-lot,” he spat, “not only are you so not taking me to Giles, but there is no way that Giles would ever believe you if you told him I was possessed!” His voice started to rise in volume.  “Untie me, damn it, or the next time I see you, I swear, I’ll…”

Xander stopped, mid-tirade, every muscle tightening as if he were having a seizure of some kind.  The faint smell of electricity and ozone, however, told Angel that he’d been hit with a taser.

Instinctively, Angel melted into the shadows, disappearing silently behind the trees.  There wasn’t a lot of cover here – the crypts and gravestones were too far away, across too much open space, and if whoever had tased Xander wanted to make a thorough search, they’d probably find him without too much trouble. Damn it, he thought, and nearly growled.  I should have been paying attention…

Three men – tall, broad, well-muscled and well-armed – appeared from the direction of the cemetery gate, weapons held at the ready.  One of them knelt down beside Xander’s prone form, then nodded.  “Still alive,” he said.

One of the others clicked on his radio, causing some static.  “Base, this is Team A.  Suspected hostile bagged.  Over.”

The radio crackled again.  Suspected hostile, Agent Finn?” a female voice asked.

“Yes, ma’am.  We’d been tracking a vampire.  He seemed to know the suspected hostile, and thought he was possessed by some kind of demon.  The suspected hostile himself said something about being possessed just before we tased him.”

“And the vampire?” The voice dripped with disdain.

The man with the radio – Finn? – frowned.  “He disappeared into the cemetery.  We only had a clear shot at the suspected hostile.  He’s long gone by now.”

“Very well.  Bring in the suspected hostile.  Let’s see what kind of demon he might be.  Over and out.”

“All right, guys,” Finn said, tucking the radio back into a pocket on his military vest.  “You heard her, she wants to know what makes this one tick.”

As Angel watched, they removed the belt around Xander’s wrists, replaced it with some kind of plastic cuff or tie, and then did the same to his ankles.  Just as they finished, a black SUV arrived outside the gate, and the military men and Xander were gone.

Angel stood and scrubbed a hand down his face.  They had taken Xander, and it was a fair bet these were the same people who had taken Spike prisoner, according to what Xander had said.  He took a step to follow them, then stopped.  I can’t take them on alone, he thought.  They’re too well armed.  He turned, started to head back in the direction of Giles’s flat.  But I can’t leave Xander with them and not know where they take him, either… Damn it all.  Heaving a sigh that felt like it came from his toes, he set off after the SUV.

Above all, one thought ran through his head over and over.  Buffy is not going to be happy about this…

March 31, 2009
© randi (K. Shepard), 2009