Taking a break after this chapter to let Redwulf begin posting his. I only found out yesterday we were sharing, but it’s all good. Takes some off the pressure of me!!!
After three nights of surveillance, it didn’t take a genius to work out that something big was plaguing the vampire. For an apparently soulful creature, he was infinitely cold. The one time he’d caught sight of her, Charlotte’s heart had turned to ice. From then on she knew that Angel was aware of her—he just didn’t care to do anything about it. He didn’t give a toss who she was or what she was doing. He’d apparently assured himself of her heartbeat and classified her a non-threatening human. And one unworthy of protection—at this stage of his game, helping the helpless was something he was leaving entirely up to his discarded crew, should they still be interested in following that party line.
The danger of it gave Charlotte a thrill and with a glimmer of glee in her eyes, she continued to shadow him, taking note of his every ambiguous movement. Was he evil now? Sure, she’d heard of how he’d locked his sire and childe in a room of lawyers, but their boss wasn’t exactly going to win any Saint of the Year awards. She had no doubt that each and every one of them had done as much evil as perhaps Angel had himself. His callousness toward his family, though, definitely shook her.
She’d not been there to see the actual event, but the burned and scarred vampiresses had crossed her path just once before going into hiding and she’d shuddered in horror at what a creature with a soul had done to others. That they were vampires and supposed to be dusted was beside the point. Family was a precious commodity that Charlotte herself had very little of and it shocked her that anyone—inhuman or not—could do something so wilfully evil to those with whom he’d spent many a lifetime.
It wasn’t quite enough to dull her fascination.
Something about Angel attracted her like no other man she’d ever seen. That he was a vampire with a soul tricked her into believing she’d be ultimately safe around him—if she chose to pursue anything at all—but his recent behaviour sent shivers down her spine. He’d not killed a human, other than indirectly, which reassured her that some of his conscience still remained.
Not that she was ready for any decisions of that kind just yet.
It was poetic justice that the fate of this vampire was forever entwined with a slayer. Charlotte would make sure that his memory of Buffy Summers curdled like week old milk left out on the sill, and died. She’d make sure she twisted his thoughts on that slayer so tight that the very mention of her name would make him shake with revulsion, not fall so deeply he risked any kind of happiness at all. Charlotte would make sure that when he settled into the vampire he was meant to be, it would be her that stood by him and championed him toward his goal—whatever that may be.
Ethan hadn’t filled her in on all his plans—he’d only promised her she’d be more than a mere girl playing at being a slayer. She would be the Slayer. There were no doubts in her head now that he cared for her as a daughter. That he was the doting father she never knew. Everything she’d ever wanted was being dangled in front of her nose and she was no fool to reject it. Though some of the implications did make her feel nervous.
Her thoughts had undoubtedly led her into darkness and Charlotte cursed. Following Angel blindly had left her in a precarious position. She stood in the middle of a very dimly lit alley, every sense screaming in awareness of the danger she’d unwittingly stumbled into. She didn’t need slayer tinglies to know she was surrounded by too many vampires. If she made it out of this alive—which she seriously had her doubts—Ethan was going to kill her for being so careless.
They launched themselves from the shadows—not one at a time like she’d been used to back home, but all together like they’d tag teamed before. There wasn’t time to scream for help and while the thought of needing it curled hatefully in her gut, Charlotte knew without a doubt she needed a miracle to step away from this.
Fighting with everything she had but quickly fading, said miracle swooped in with a black leather coat and in the form of an avenging Angel. Or maybe he was just intrigued. Blood streamed down her face and a sharp fang was teasing at her throat, and with one breath she fully believed to be her last, she was forcefully released and sent sprawling to the ground. Snarls and grunts of pain echoed around her before several clouds of ash fell across her body, leaving her gritty and dirty.
Choking on a new lungful of oxygen, Charlotte looked up in time to catch a vamped out Angel savagely punch the last vamp, the loud crunch an indication of a dislocated jaw, and then she was breathing dust yet again, coughing loudly in objection.
As she watched, her vision only slightly clouded by her own blood, his face calmed back into the smooth façade of a human and her breath was knocked from her again.
“You might fight like a slayer, but you aren’t one. What the hell are you doing out here? And why are you following me? Last thing I need right now is a fan club.” His scowl warned her against approaching him, but this opportunity was too precious so Charlotte stumbled to her feet, grimacing at her lack of slayer grace.
“Fan clubs only work if you have more than one fan. Not that I’d call myself a fan exactly,” she admitted thoughtfully. “More an admirer.”
The expression in his eyes got darker and Charlotte took a nervous step back, even though every bone in her body ached with the effort.
“Really? Because I’d have no problems classifying you as your pretty typical fan gone deranged. You’ve got the stalking thing down pat.”
Like he had any room to accuse.
“Well, it takes a stalker to know a stalker, wouldn’t you say?” she shot back peevishly. “Besides, in my line of work it’d be stupid to not study my prey.”
“And what line would that be exactly?” he demanded. “The line between being alive or dead? Or just plain insane? Because I’m shooting blind, obviously, but until I stepped in a few minutes ago you were on the fast track to becoming dead.”
“I’m going to pass on the obvious quip about your associations with insanity and get right to the point. I’ve been in training to be a slayer all my life. You never know when the current one will be cut down and the next one called.” She watched closely for any tell in his eye—a shadow of hurt, a flash of anger—and was surprised when nothing at all registered. He was apparently a blank slate right now and Charlotte determined to work with that as avidly as she could.
“Not that I hate to be the bearer of bad news or anything, but aren’t you a little old to be a slayer?” Amusement confronted her and Charlotte felt herself bristle irritably.
“I am seventeen. Perhaps not the youngest slayer on record, but nor is my time passed completely. I still have a chance.” A really big chance, in the way that it was completely inevitable and going to happen no matter what.
He laughed at her, a short burst of humour that trickled down her spine and shook each of her bones. Then, finally, he was looking at her, his intent gaze seeing what her outfit promised of the body underneath and his eyes glittered in sudden interest.
“Well, you may not have the powers just yet, but you certainly have the tricks. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around again…?”
“Charlotte,” she supplied eagerly, holding her hand out not to be shaken, but palm down so he’d be forced to kiss her. He took up her challenge, the ghost of time in his actions as cool lips slipped against her skin and his lips bestowed a dry kiss.
“Charlotte. A perfectly British name. It suits you.” He nodded once abruptly, and then he was gone, leaping high in the air and catching hold of a drainage pipe. He swept quickly out of sight as he gained the roofline of the building they stood in front of and vanished from view.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Ethan’s mouth opened, the horror pouring out of him in a silent scream. His wide and terrified eyes revealed deep torment and yet he clung to the bowl of blood that his now unconscious charge had allowed—had demanded—him to fill. It had bubbled for seconds before it had fallen still and the tortured visage of the spell caster was reflected in the still pool.
His skin bulged, untold creatures crawling beneath his skin as he clung to the essence of the spell and rode out the trial. He could bear this—he would make Charlotte what she was meant to be. And then he’d mould her into the slayer he wanted her to be.
Charlotte moaned softly and Ethan clutched hold of the bowl more firmly.
“I offer the essence of one most innocent and claim rightful direction of the spirit. Abandon the two who show their unworthiness and fill her body with your purpose.” His voice formed the words around the pain that attacked his body and as he felt himself weaken, Ethan crawled slowly to Charlotte’s collapsed form. They both resided inside a circle of sand and as it suddenly turned to flame around them, he looked anxiously to make sure no part of Charlotte would be touched by the fire. Reassured, he ignored the searing agony of his joints pulling apart, his flesh melting from his frame and his head about to implode and dabbed a shaking hand into the bowl, coating three fingers liberally with Charlotte’s life force.
“I anoint you in the name of those elders that claimed the first slayer. I bestow upon you the ancient power to fight the demons and keep humanity safe from harm. I take from others that which they should not possess and begin the line anew from you, Charlotte… Clair… Giles.” He coughed raggedly, blood spurting across his lips, and collapsed face first into the floor. The sacred bowl of blood spilled not a drop of blood, preserving the power of transfer as slayer essence drained from its two current hosts into one new one. Balance broke and the night was forever altered.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/218283.html