Chapter 7 – Meet Again

Lawson found himself walking through the sewers of all places, something he hadn’t done in years. The smell was enough to set off his now supposedly non-existent gag reflex, it was rancid and truly enough to kill a dead man. Normally he would have made sure he was back home at least an hour before the sun rose, but this time home was the one place he knew he had to stay far away from. Far from home and far from her. 


The girl who with a few simple words had twisted his life all around. She didn’t even know what she’d done, that much was clear by the simple way she’d blithely continued after dropping everything he’d been searching for for so long in his lap.

Angel, Angelus, whatever you wanted to call him was in L.A., he was here. The man who had ruined his life, turning him into neither a man nor a monster. The man who had turned him into nothing. He had searched and searched for this man for nearly the entirety of his existence as a vampire. At first he’d been fine without him, if the man didn’t care for him then he would go his own way and never even think of him again. Then he realised he needed him and he started to search and found nothing year after year, until now.

When he had asked Destiny about her brother, he had never in his wildest dreams thought that he would hear that the boy was here trying to kill the man he had hated for a little over half a century now.

“His name is Steven, and he’s just so focused on his mission that he’s been blinded to everything else around him. He has tunnel vision and my refusal to help him with no questions asked makes him think that I’m against him or siding with his enemy.”

“Who’s this enemy?” Was her brother one of those conspiracy nuts who thought that everyone was after him? Or was his opponent more supernatural in origin?

“His name is Angelus, though I hear he goes by Angel now, and now that Steven has found him he’s obsessed…”

He hadn’t heard much after that shocking revelation, though he did hear the name of the place where he could find him. Where he could finally have the confrontation he’d been longing for, for so many years now. The Hyperion. 

He remembered the Hyperion from back in the days before his new existence, of course he’d landed in luxury, it somehow fit with the selfish son of a bitch he’d once known.

After his turning, once he was no longer of use to him, Angel had sent him on his way. Actually making him swim for it, racing the dawn to dry land. The fact that he wasn’t the only vampire in danger of having his backside scorched off wasn’t nearly as comforting as one might believe it to be. After that he had spent years trying to understand what it was that he had become, what it was that he’d been turned into. While he’d known from the start that he was a vampire, he’d read enough dime store novels to understand that instinctively with his new found craving for blood, that didn’t tell him what he was, not really.

For the first decade he’d gone his own way and never really thought twice about the man who had changed his life so quickly and that had been fine, but then this awareness took hold and he just couldn’t shake it. He met more and more vampires and began to understand that he was different somehow, he was wrong inside. The things they found pleasure in would at times turn his stomach and he found he still had a moral code of sorts that didn’t exist in the others. He did all the things he was supposed to do, he’d killed women and children, tortured husbands and fathers just to hear them scream but there was nothing there for him. Nothing but this nagging feeling that he shouldn’t be there and shouldn’t be doing those things even if he didn’t know what else to do with his time.

When all the others talked about their first instinct being to track down their human ties of family and friends to sever them in bloody and painful ways he couldn’t relate, he had never had that urge. When he thought about his human life even to this day he still felt something for those people even if it wasn’t what it used to be. It was something. It was enough of something that he kept watch over them from a distance and made sure they were safe from things like him. He didn’t want to see them or more accurately he didn’t want them to see him but he wanted that small bit of comfort he got from knowing they were out there somewhere. That his decision to do this to himself, to become this thing in order to save his crew and complete the mission hadn’t been a total waste.

God he was sick.

So eventually he had fallen back on his navy training and decided that what he needed was direction, a mission. So he’d assigned himself one, to find the man responsible for his situation and gain his answers. It had sounded simple enough, he’d even come up with a plan to help him achieve it, but enacting it was far harder. Finding a centuries old vampire with multiple names that never seemed to stay in one place for more than a year was grueling and truly a lesson in frustration.

Every time he thought he’d found something or someone to help him one of two things would happen. Either they hadn’t seen Angelus in decades or in some cases centuries or they feared his rep so much that even the thought of selling out his location was enough to have them quaking in fear. After over two decades of false leads and failure he’d finally given up on the idea of finding him and had instead settled down here in Los Angeles to wait out his eternity in a place that never really changed. Sure the fads came and went, never lasting longer than it took to grow used to the latest eye sore, but the heart of the city would always be what it always was. Stardom and greed. A place where no one would notice that he never aged because it was filled to bursting with people trying desperately to do the same thing.

Now though his luck had changed, now his mission was completed when he wasn’t even trying. Glancing up at the shaft that would lead him into the basement of the Hyperion Hotel he smiled for the first time in what felt like years. Creeping into the main room he found the man he had been searching for, standing not ten feet from him.

“Hiya chief, you got a sec?” Seeing the surprise on his face was the best payout a guy could dream of.

Hiya chief, those words washed over him and sent Angel back to a small submarine on the bottom of the ocean. Those words filled his veins with ice. Those words filled him with shame.

“Lawson, what brings you by?” Mentally he took stock of his people, and was grateful to realize that they were all otherwise occupied at the moment, outside of the building. Lorne and Fred had gone to some rare book dealer who had several volumes from another dimension for sale. Gunn was reconnecting with some of his old contacts for the tenth time this month alone. With Cordelia going out to round up all the food before everyone got back he had about twenty minutes to take care of this and make the hotel safe for his people to return to.

“Well, chief, I heard a rumor that you were in town and since I’ve been looking for you for about five decades now, I thought I’d drop by. I think it’s past time you and I had ourselves a little chat, don’t you?”

At the other man’s words guilt began to flood his mind. He was ashamed to realize that he hadn’t truly thought about Lawson nor his actions on that submarine in years. He had been so focused on the present and all the new and at times terrifying problems he had to deal with that thoughts of his past sins had begun to abate more and more of late. He would hear him out, he owed him that much, then he would dust him as he should have done years ago. His heart clenched at the thought of how many victims he must have claimed by now, he should have never let him walk away in the first place.

“I agree, what did you want to chat about?” He took a deep unnecessary breath and mentally braced himself, preparing to listen to a long litany of grievances and pontifications. Most fledglings, once they came into their own, had long lists of their sires’ failings on the tips of their tongues. Lawson, he was sure, had more than his fair share.

“Let’s start with, what the hell did you do to me?”

“What are you talking about?” It wasn’t like the boy didn’t know that he was a vampire, he’d been made painfully aware of that at his turning. What the hell was he asking?

“I mean what the hell did you turn me into, cause it sure as hell ain’t a vampire. I did everything I was supposed to, I hunted and killed indiscriminately for years, but it did nothing for me. The blood tasted like ashes in my mouth, I felt nothing! I even felt bad a few times, like I wasn’t supposed to be hurting people, like I wasn’t supposed to be here. So you tell me boss, what am I supposed to do now? Hmmm? How am I supposed to feel? TELL ME!”

He watched as true tears began to track down the man’s face, he could see the pain and anger swirling in his still all too human eyes. He was right, he wasn’t a vampire, at least not a normal one. A vampire wouldn’t give a damn about any of this, he would have been enraged at his sire for leaving him to fend for himself but he would have attacked physically not verbally.

“I’m sorry.” That was it, the only thing he could say, the only thing he could offer. He knew what was wrong with him and it was his fault, he’d done this, by turning a man while he had his soul he’d damned him to live in the same in-between that he did only without an explanation why.

“You’re sorry? Sorry!” With a final yell the fight was on, and there was only one way it could end now. In a cloud of dust.

As fists began to fly Angel knew that he should end this, just dust him and be done with it, but he couldn’t. A part of him hoped that once he was given a chance to vent his anger Lawson would calm down enough to listen to reason, to let him help him as he should have decades ago.

“What the hell is going on here?” The intrusion of the distinctly feminine voice had him turning towards the door to face Destiny and Cordelia just as Lawson’s blow landed on his face, sending him skidding across the lobby floor. 

Not good.

All plans for helping the other man evaporated in his panic over what could happen to the people he cared about if this enraged vampire got near them. While he would feel bad about killing Lawson, it wouldn’t be nearly the level of anguish he would feel if something happened to Cordelia or his daughter. When it came down to it the choice was simple, they lived and he died. Inching a hand slowly behind him to grip the stake he kept on his person at all times he prepared to take advantage of the other man’s shock at the interruption before he had time to gather himself and attack again.

It was time to end this.

Cordelia stood in the doorway of the hotel warring with herself. Normally if she came home from an errand and found some random guy beating on Angel, which happened often if she was being honest, she knew what to do. Run for the weapons cabinet and help but today was different because today she wasn’t alone. While she was fine with putting her own life at risk to try and help Angel win any fight, she wasn’t so keen on putting his daughter in the middle of things with her. Especially not after the night the other girl had already had, she was already kind of busted up from the fight with her brother and she didn’t need to get into another one. So that left the question of what she was supposed to do now, while she didn’t want to leave Angel alone to fight she might have to. As Destiny stepped farther into the lobby it seemed the decision was made for her. They were staying.

“Lawson?” Destiny sounded so confused, like the fact this Angel fighting douchebag was here at all had flipped her world around on her.

So this was Mr. Love ‘em and Leave ‘em. Not bad looking at least, the girl had taste, but that didn’t stop her from hoping that Angel kicked his tight little ass. What he’d done to Destiny deserved a beating if not a dusting! You didn’t just walk out on a girl after taking her virginity and not expect a beat down from her relatives.

“He’s Lawson? The Lawson?” She needed to make sure before she said anything. At the younger girls slow nod she knew she had the right jackass, but what was he doing here?

“You know Lawson?” Glancing over at Angel she saw so much confusion covering his expression she felt bad for him. There he was kicking a random vamps ass and in walks his daughter with his name tripping off her tongue, he must be so twisted around. Well she could fix that.

“We all know who Lawson is and he’s not bleeding nearly enough, punch him in the face.” She watched as he thought about asking questions but the look on her face must have said enough because he just shrugged and walked intently towards the other man, content to do as asked. Good boy.

As he pulled his fist back Destiny started to back out towards the door. Not good. She could see it on her face that she had reached her limit and there was nothing any of them could do to help her in that moment. She didn’t trust any of them nearly enough for any of them to be able to call her back now.

“I don’t even want to know what’s going on here, I’m out.” Without another word the girl was gone, not even sticking around long enough to see Lawson hit the ground. She supposed she’d handle this then, it wasn’t like the girl didn’t have enough to deal with as it is.

Destiny stood outside of another club that she found, this place seemed to be filled with them. This one was flashier than the last one she went to, but that could work in her favor. If everyone was busy watching the lights, then no one would notice when someone went missing. She didn’t want to think about everything or anything at the moment, she just wanted to get lost in the flashing lights and loud music to get lost in the city until her mind went numb. Her father hitting the man she was intimate with seemingly without knowing who he was to her had been the capper that tipped her over the edge. She didn’t want to have to deal with any of it anymore, she just wanted to exist.

She was just starting to zero in on her mark, a young man drifting farther and farther from the entrance as he tried his luck with everything in a skirt, when an older woman in a business suit stepped into her path. Who the hell?

Didn’t this woman know better than to get between a girl and her dinner. Even if she wasn’t in the know she should at least feel that urge to run that seemed to trip up every human she had ever faced down. She watched the woman look her up and down like she was sizing her up, big mistake. If this woman didn’t remove herself soon, she would do the removing for her. 

“Hello Destiny, my name is Lilah I’m an old acquaintance of your fathers. Could we maybe step to the side and talk for a minute?” Looking the woman up and down she shrugged trying to hide her curiosity. She had never met an old acquaintance of her fathers before, either father. She was cautious though, none of the men in her life seemed to have a good past full of happiness and smiles so just knowing one of them wasn’t enough for her to put her guard down. Not even close.

“Sure.” Turning away from the doors she hadn’t made it through she took a deep breath and tried to focus, if this turned into a fight it wouldn’t do her any favors to be distracted by things that weren’t relevant to the situation. As it stood she was trying to figure out which father this woman was talking about, Angelus or Holtz.

Once they were far enough away from the crush of the crowd not to be overheard without some effort on the part of the listener she decided to just ask.

“So you know my father?”

“Actually I know both of them, though I was only on friendly terms with Holtz.” Interesting way to phrase it. As far as she knew Holtz wasn’t particularly friendly with anyone in this world. In fact he seemed to hold some kind of deep disdain for them all because he thought they tolerated evil rather than taking the time to fight it.

“So what did you want to talk to me about?” If she wanted to talk about Holtz she was out of here. She hadn’t seen the man since she left “home”, and while she knew he planned to follow behind them she wasn’t sure if he’d arrived yet or not and she didn’t care enough to find out.

“Less of a talk and more of an offer. I know this new world must be very confusing for you, I know it was for your father after his awakening. I just wanted to offer you the same help I gave to him back then, a guiding hand. I could help you learn all the ins and outs of this world or if you are more interested in the past I can help you sort through that just as easily. My people have had a certain interest in Angelus and by extension Darla for a long time now and we know more about the both of them than anyone else you could ask.” 

“You want to tell me about my parents?” She wanted to gossip? There was something about this woman that put her hackles up and made her want to back away. She was doing that thing that so many in this world did, she was saying one thing while implying something else. She hated that! Why couldn’t the people of this world just speak plainly?

“If that’s what most interests you, why not? It’s not like they’re something to be ashamed of. On the contrary they were both strong, intelligent, interesting people and if I was you I would be more than just a little curious about them both. I’m sure Angelus hasn’t told you much of they’re past, he’s shy like that. I could help you understand some of the more complex matters involved in their long histories. Or I could help you find a trainer to continue your fight training. I can tell from the way you hold yourself that you’re a fighter, you wouldn’t want those skills to rust from disuse would you.”

“I’ll think about it.” Walking away from the woman, she decided to just go home and leave the club behind. She didn’t trust this Lilah woman not to follow her the whole night and there was something about her that screamed not to let her stand at her back for too long.

Holtz stood in the shadows watching the abomination stride into the darkness with who was likely to be her next victim and sighed in frustration. Steven had failed to subdue the demonic spawn, he wasn’t motivated enough to beat her, maybe if he showed him the danger she posed to those around her he would be more inclined to give it his all. Showing the boy the body of one of her victims should help to clear his mind of thoughts of a touching reunion, and if the girl did not kill the woman he was sure another victim could be found or even created for his purposes.

“Follow them Justine, tell me everything.”

“Of course.” At least she was still faithful to him, to his cause. Hopefully by night’s end Steven would be faithful once more, released from the grip of that hell spawn he called a sister. Hopefully.

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