Chapter 5 – Power Plays and Other Games

Angel waited anxiously for his daughter to come back. This was becoming his new daily ritual, sitting in the lobby trying to will the door to open. After a night of reflection he thought he knew where he had gone wrong the day before and he was eager to try again. Talking about his daughter’s non-existent childhood was too much, he needed to try and keep any future discussions about the here and now. At least for a little while longer.

He would talk to her about the city in general, or the different foods she might like, or where she was staying. That last one might feel like a minefield in the making, but he had a feeling it would be a safer bet than anything to do with the past. 

“Tell me something else about my mother.” Only years of playing it cool kept him from jumping at the sound of his daughter’s voice beside him. He hadn’t even heard her come in. As his heart began to calm he finally processed what she’d said, she wanted to know more about Darla. That seemed like a bad idea all around.

“You want to know more about Darla?” If she was asking he couldn’t just refuse to answer, if it was anyone else he could have waved them off with claims of desired privacy but this was his daughter one of the few people who truly had a right to ask questions.

“Yeah, I just… I don’t know you’re still here for me to learn about on my own but I can’t exactly watch her and come to my own opinion now can I. If I want an honest look at her you’re kind of it in the information department.” That was true enough.

“What do you want to know?” He didn’t know much about her early days as a vampire and frighteningly less about her time as a human but he would offer it all up if it would erase some of that hurt in her eyes. He doubted she would want to know about her birth, but if she did he would brave those memories too. For her.

“Nothing overly specific I guess. Just, what was she like?” Now came the hard choice: did he tell the truth or protect the saintly vague memory of a dead woman who gave her life for her children? Knowing there were books and sources out in the world that could easily tell the truth and out his lies he decided to be as honest as he could. 

“Darla was a complicated woman on the simplest of days. I know that her human life wasn’t an overly kind one so when she became a vampire she did her best to become something else entirely. We all do really, but it never really works like we plan.” Complicated didn’t even begin to describe that woman, but there were some conversational lines even he didn’t want to cross. Not unless he had to. So he would stick to generalities as much as possible.

“Why not?” Why not indeed. How could he explain that even becoming a different species didn’t seem to truly change people? You might think you’ve changed, you might work hard to try and change, but in the end you were still you. Always.

“Well, no matter how hard you try, at least some of who you were will always shine through. When you become a vampire the demon takes over your body and your memories and as much as the forces for good like to say that it can look like you and act like you but not be you they’re wrong. There will always be some of you still in there, it just so happens that nine times out of ten that some is the worst parts of you. For me it adopted my anger towards religion and my consuming need for validation and gratification and amped them up to an inhuman degree. For Darla it took on her lust for everything. Blood, sex, power, she was always consumed with her need for more and more of whatever she saw as having been denied to her during her human life. Not that she would ever admit it.” Darla would never admit to having anything remaining of her human self within her, and woe betide any who tried to say otherwise.

“Can a vampire ever carry over the good they once had?” He could hear the hope in her voice and knew she had to be thinking more of her club boy than Darla, but he wouldn’t bring him up first. He’d take any opening he could find to try and help her navigate this new relationship easier but if he tried to push her too far he would just end up pushing her towards him. Even he knew that.

“In a way. One of my line was a poet and a romantic in his life so when he turned he became devoted to his sire but it was to an unhealthy degree. He would die for her but I don’t think he ever truly stopped to think about what it meant to love her. The man wanted love so the demon did too, it was just the way they went about obtaining it that was different.” 

Love’s bitch indeed.

“Did anything good of my mother transition over?” Thinking back on it he tried to find something uplifting or at least relatively kind to say but he’d already resolved not to lie. Darla was miserable from birth to second death and that was a fact no one could escape, not even Darla herself. As much as she tried to find her peace and joy in the mayhem and blood, she never truly did. She was always looking for that little something more, that give back that never came. 

“Your mother kept most of her sadder traits, at least in my opinion. Much like William, your mother craved love in her life. Only she lived a life that taught her to be suspicious of any love offered long before she was turned so when she came close to having it she would always self sabotage. That didn’t change with age.”

“Did you two love each other?” No. He’d said as much to Darla when she’d first come back into his life. She never made him happy and as hard as she tried to claim otherwise he never made her happy either, they just distracted each other from their misery. 

“As much as we were able to. Neither of us were truly creatures of love and kindness, but we did find some joy in our time together. We might have been able to find something closer to bliss if we each hadn’t been so consumed by the games that gaining your fangs tends to bring into your life.”


This was his perfect opening, if his daughter was going to stay with this vampire she’d met he would make sure she understood as much about what that entailed as possible. While it was true that every vampire was different, some things were simply instinct and therefore universal. Those lessons he could teach her.

Destiny pushed through the heavy door that led to the loft area Lawson had made his home and tried not to sigh in frustration. This place had been an easy non-judgemental place she could escape to whenever dealing with everything became too much and now it had become a minefield.

Angelus had spent their entire afternoon together telling her more about vampire culture, from the perspective of a vampire, so she wouldn’t be caught off guard if the club boy as he called him tried something, it was sweet if a little paranoid. Though now she knew more about vampires and their weird psycho-sexual behaviors than she had ever truly wanted to. On the plus side now she knew she really was one of a kind, because she could safely say she had never had any of the impulses he described. 

The loft was dark, but she knew that he was still there. She could feel him. The tingles of a watching predator danced along the back of her neck and down her spine. It felt kind of nice, a low level buzz against all of her senses.

“Lawson.” She made his name more of a statement than a question, it wouldn’t do for him to think he could ever sneak up on her after all. He may be nicer than she’d first assumed he would be, but he was still a vampire after all and if her talk with Angel had taught her anything today it was that vampires were all about the power games. Though she did kind of wonder if some of the more whimsical things she’d seen from him were really from his human side. Wouldn’t that be strange.

“You came back.” He stayed in the shadows, his voice echoing off the walls so it seemed to surround her. He was trying to un-nerve her. He would have to do a lot better than that.

“It seemed easier than finding somewhere else to stay. I can just as easily go if you like.” She didn’t want to act like she owned the place, and could come and go as she pleased, it was his home after all. He would have the final say in if she stayed or left. Though if she did leave while it would be at his request it would be under her own power and by her own choice. He could not force her out even if he tried and they both knew it.

“You can stay here as long as you want. It’s nice having someone else around again. Especially someone who isn’t trying to rule over me.” He sounded almost resigned at the thought that she might try to dominate his life. She felt the sudden urge to reassure him. All the things that Angel had told her about vampires told her that as far as vampire interactions go Lawson was likely always bottom of the heap. He was more sensitive than most and others would see him as an easy target. She needed him to know that she wasn’t like that, that she would never be like that, but she needed to make sure he knew that didn’t mean he could take the top position himself. They were equals, of a sort.

“Yeah well, vampire power games aren’t really my thing. It’s your home. I’m just a guest in it. For now.” She tacked on the last to make it clear that she could just as easily leave as she could stay. It wouldn’t do her any good for him to start believing he had her at a disadvantage. She had other options and he needed to know that up front. Her other option was singular in nature if she wanted to go somewhere familiar but he didn’t need to know that.

“What an enlightened way of looking at it. It’s almost refreshing.” She could feel him moving around the room, even though she still couldn’t see him. What was he up to now? Not that she was overly worried, if he didn’t come out into the open soon she would make the choice for them both and they would go from there.

For all that vampires could so easily overpower humans, she could easily over power everyone. She was stronger and faster than any vampire could ever hope of becoming. A baby vamp under a century old was no threat to her at all.

“Almost?” She was beginning to like this game, it was a war of words, no strength only wit and skill. It was rare for her fights to stray away from the physical arena and she was enjoying herself, probably a bit too much.

“Well it’s also to be expected that you wouldn’t be big on vampire games when as far as I can tell you aren’t a vampire. Or are you? I’ll admit you do drink blood as we do, but as far as I can tell that is where the comparisons stop between us.” That was true enough, from what she’d seen she did have little in common with the vampires of this world. Though being born of two of them she supposed she could still be called a vampire herself. Or maybe she was something else entirely. A new breed of vampire. Which was both exciting and depressing, being a one and only could get lonely fast. Not that she would ever wish this existence on another, no matter how lonely she might become in the future.

“Does it matter what I am?” Did it matter to him? Was that why he was letting her stay here, was he trying to understand her? To figure her out? Had it all been a game, a lead in for this confrontation, and if it was, did that really change anything?

“No, I don’t suppose it does.” She could feel his breath on the back of her neck. He was so close to her now they were nearly touching. Without thinking about it her instincts kicked in, a threat was close, she just reacted. Spinning in place she grabbed him at his neck and the base of his skull before she threw him over her body and across the room.

Oops. She may have forgotten to hold back as much as she would have for a human threat and now he was slumped against the far wall covered in broken plaster and dust. What now?

“Sorry. So sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t hurt you did I. You were just so close, and I couldn’t see you but I knew you were there and I just… reacted. Really though, if you think about it, that was all your own fault. I mean you started it, with your trying to be sneaky and everything. Don’t do that!”

She could hear him laughing, he started to somewhere in the middle of her little speech. Laughing was good, she supposed, it was better than anger after all. But at the same time… hey he was laughing at her. That was so not funny.

“It’s not funny!”

“As the one who landed on his ass I have to disagree with you on that, it was a little funny. Besides I wasn’t laughing at you sweetheart, I was laughing more at myself. There I was telling you how I hate vampire power plays and then not ten seconds later I go and try one on you, and I fail miserably at it. Then you started your little rant and I just couldn’t help it, you’re just so cute when you’re miffed.”

“Oh, okay then. What now?” She was a little startled to be called cute so blatantly, but she was prepared to let it pass by without remarking on it. For now. They had other concerns to deal with before they could confront their attraction to one another.

“Well, if you’re still alright with staying here after the stunt I just pulled, I would suggest a game of sorts so that we can get to know each other better.”

“What sort of game?” She wouldn’t mind getting to know Lawson better, but at the same time she had to be careful about what she revealed about herself. If she gave too much away she might just have to kill Lawson, and she didn’t want to do that to her first sort of friend here in this new world. That would be a bad example to set.

“So you’re still fine with being here with me, even after I was such an ass?” He seemed almost relieved, like he’d been certain she would leave before and was now trying to catch up to the fact that she was staying instead.

“Sure, why wouldn’t I be? I mean you failed after all.” She saw him wince and wondered if she had maybe thrown him a little too hard, but he didn’t seem to be having any trouble walking around so she figured whatever it was his vampire healing would be taking care of it before too long.

“Point to you on that one I guess. Well the game I have in mind is a bit of give and take. Still interested.”

“I suppose.”

Angel sat in his room and looked at the sketches he’s made of his children, both as infants and what they looked like now. He wished more than anything that he’d been able to watch them grow up, to help them understand the world. Now it was too late. No matter what he taught them they would be making their own way in the world, making their own decisions both good and bad.

They would be making connections, both good and bad.

Connor hated him with a sort of fiery vengeance that is learned over too many years to counter easily. He knew deep down that he would likely never regain his son, not completely. There would always be a part of Connor that would be held back from him no matter what he did. A part that would be waiting for an excuse, any excuse to go in for the kill. Always looking for some shred of proof that Angelus still existed. That was if he could even convince him that he wasn’t currently Angelus to begin with.

Destiny was more willing to at least give him a chance at proving himself. Something he was beyond thankful for, but at the same time that willingness had estranged her from her brother and made her more vulnerable to the manipulations of others. People like this vampire she was all but living with. No matter how many times or how many ways he’d asked she’d refused to tell him a name to go along with this bloodsucker. He would find out eventually, he just hoped it wasn’t too late for her when he did. For all of her experiences in that hell dimension she was still very young, and far too easily fooled in a world that she didn’t understand well enough yet. He’d done what he could to explain vampire dynamics to her, to try and prepare her for any mind games this guy might try but he knew sleep would be a long time coming for him.

Cordelia stood outside of Angel’s room and she could practically feel his worry through the thick oak. She understood it, she really did, they were all worried about Destiny and Conner, but she knew there was really nothing they could do about it at the moment. To help people, first they had to trust you, to truly believe that you only wanted what was best for them, and at the moment neither of them felt that way. All they could do was wait, worry, and make sure they knew that if it all became too much for them they would be here ready and willing to help if needed.

While she was worried about Destiny and her new vampire companion she was more worried about Connor. Destiny would come to them, in fact she had already come to them for help, Connor still didn’t see them as an option and that was far more dangerous than anything else either of them might face out there. Having no fall back, and no one to rely on when you were used to having someone at your back was a dangerous position to be in. 

Thinking about either of them made her heart break into a million little pieces with nothing she could do to even try to piece it back together again. The only thing that would make any of them truly whole again would be if they could go back to the time before it all fell apart. Before they lost Destiny and Connor. Before they lost Wes. 

Feeling the burn behind her eyes she turned to walk back downstairs before Angel noticed her standing there and came out to comfort her, the last thing he needed to deal with right now would be her sorrow when he was already dealing with so much of his own.

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