Okay, so here's the next chapter. Now, I'm not big on warnings other than on the main page of a story because I think it kind of spoils the chapters a little bit. However, I am going to say that things get a lot darker here and it's not going to be fun and games for a while. This is a story with angst, which I think is obvious by now, but I'm just giving you a heads up because I know violence isn't everyone's thing. I don't sugar-coat the vamp way of life and this is the Fanged Four we're dealing with. That said, I don't think many people will take issue with it I'm just letting you know it's not a particularly pleasant time right now. That way you can't say I didn't warn you :) Now, on with the update.
Two figures waited in the darkened London streets. It was misty out and there was a chill in the air, but none of them noticed the cold temperature.
"William the Bloody is a little long-winded don't you think?" Darla asked lazily, fixing her glove and patting her hair while they waited for William and Dru.
"It doesn't exactly strike the right note of fear, no, but we can work on it. It will do, temporarily at least. Besides, you never know what may catch on. Take 'The Scourge of Europe' for instance, that's become one of our best known titles." Angelus ran a finger around inside the collar of his shirt, feeling confined in the restricting garb he had to wear in 'civilized society.'
Darla sighed dramatically and eyed the front door again. "For goodness sake, what's taking them so long?"
"I think Dru wanted to reward the lad thoroughly for the fine display last night. She was very impressed."
"Impressed? With what? She's done worse than that during her saner days," Darla countered.
"I know, but it's a sign that he's finally putting an end to this ridiculous battle with his true nature. He's been resisting for days and at long last he's showing a thirst for violence and bloodshed. It's about time too. I don't want rumors spreading that a member of my clan is no better than the leftovers we keep as servants."
Any further conversation was cut off as the door swung open and Dru glided down the steps, William following close behind. That was another thing that bothered Angelus. Everywhere they went together, William watched Drusilla as if totally captivated by her. His eyes never left her unless something particularly remarkable commanded his attention or annoyed him. He practically adored her, and Angelus couldn't understand it. Yes she was his sire, but William harbored such resentment for their kind and those who had irreparably damaged him as a human, including Longley, that it made no sense for him to look on Dru so fondly when she was the one who had turned him. It was just another piece of the confounding puzzle that was the turned Hunter.
"So, where are we going tonight?" Darla asked, in her typically bored fashion.
"Tonight I have something special planned. We're going to see how far you're willing to go, William. Tonight is going to prove to me whose side you're on," Angelus said, pleased when William turned away from Dru long enough to give him a suspicious and questioning look. "Come on, we better get a move on. I don't want to lose the trail."
"Trail?" Darla asked, this time a little more interested.
Angelus swung one arm around her waist and pulled her to his side as they began walking down the street.
"I had some of the boys look into something for me. It's not as upscale as you're used to, but it's important."
All three of his followers gave him curious glances but Angelus marched on purposefully. They'd catch on soon enough and then the fun could really begin. He grinned widely, looking up at the cloudy night sky, thinking how wonderful it was to be a vampire.
He led them to an ordinary townhouse and came to a halt. Darla and Dru glanced at it with the faintest hint of curiosity. Angelus focused his attention on William. He patted himself on the back when he saw William's reaction. William recognized the house all right. He was staring at it in confusion and slight panic. His eyes met Angelus' and he swallowed hard.
"Look familiar?" Angelus asked, knowingly.
"What are we doing here?" William asked, trying to hide what Angelus had already seen.
"I told you tonight's the night you prove whose side you're on, William. I was impressed with the way you disposed of Longley, it showed you are capable of art with the right encouragement. Trouble is, he was on our side." Angelus took a few threatening steps toward his pupil. "Now, you're going to take care of our enemies. No more waiting, no more excuses. Tonight you say goodbye to everything you were, understand?"
"I don't have to do this," William argued, stepping back.
"Yes, you do." Angelus took a menacing step forward, not letting William back away.
"You put an end to the Hunters, there's no reason to kill them."
"That's where we disagree. They could have stayed away. You spared their lives by sacrificing yourself but they came back. I know what you had planned, what you told them to do. I didn't go to all that trouble to have everything I've destroyed rebuilt in a few years because my spy has been eliminated and there were survivors. No loose ends, William. That's the way it has to be. Now do it, before I question my decision to keep you around."
"Why not?" Angelus demanded. "You don't care about them anymore. There's no need to be loyal to them. They'd kill you just as easily. There's nothing holding you back but your own damn stubbornness, and I've had enough of it!" Angelus shoved William backwards, hard.
William staggered back a few paces but didn't vamp out. Instead he remained defiant, shaking his head. Angelus was quickly losing his temper.
"Get an invitation and do it!"
"They won't. They know I would never have survived." William continued, shaking his head.
"Then you have nothing to lose, have you? Let's see how accurate your faith in their instincts is. I know people, William, and even when they know the truth they can never get past their pathetic emotions, even to save themselves. They believe what they want to believe. Now go!"
Angelus raised a fist, ready to strike his insolent grandchilde, but a strong hand on his arm stopped him. Dru lowered his arm with a firm grip before releasing him then stepped to William, who had quieted at her approach and focused fully on her. She hushed him in a soothing voice and ran a hand through his curly hair, staring deep into his eyes and lulling him into a calm state.
"It's all right, my pet. It's not like before. There's no pain with loss. It releases you, frees you. You need this. Let go, William. I'll be there to catch you. We can have so much fun you and I. For eternity. Do it for Princess?"
William stilled, head tilted, considering her. Angelus looked on in wonder as William suddenly vamped, still watching Drusilla with an almost peaceful expression. After a moment's pause, William returned to his human mask and stalked away, pushing past Angelus and walking rigidly to the door of the house. Angelus stared at him, baffled. William was like a completely different vampire. There was no more argument. He simply walked up to the door and knocked.
"Come. They mustn't see yet," Drusilla said, catching Angelus' arm and pulling him to the side of the house.
Darla followed. They watched as the door opened. They heard a startled gasp, then silence. William stared at the person in the doorway without blinking.
"It's you. It's really you. God, Will, how? Where? What happened to you?" they heard a male voice ask.
William said nothing, just continued to stare ahead, not moving a muscle.
"Will?" the voice questioned, more hesitant this time.
"Is it just you?" William asked eventually, his voice a monotonous stream of words.
There was a pause. If Angelus breathed, he'd be holding his breath right now in anticipation. This was a key moment. William could be much smoother, more…realistic, as far as Angelus was concerned. What he'd told the boy was true. People always believed what they wanted to believe, despite what their instincts warned them about.
"No. It's both of us. For God's sake man, what happened?—quick, come inside. It's not safe out here."
And that was that. William walked over the threshold, no barrier in place. The door closed behind them and footsteps faded away into the depths of the darkened house. All Angelus and the others could do was sit outside and wait, listening for the faintest sounds within. Angelus rubbed the back of his neck, Darla picked at invisible bits on her gown, and Drusilla stared confidently upwards at the curtain covered windows of the house.
Gray led the way to his office in a haze of confusion, relief, and a niggling sense of fear that he couldn't quite shake. He threw the door open, startling Hobbs, who jumped up out of his chair and spilled some of the contents of his glass.
"For God's sake man, what the hell are you do—?" he lost his voice as the silent figure behind Gray stepped into the light.
Only the Scotch sloshing about in Hobbs' glass betrayed the image of a moment frozen in time. Three men stood in a room, as they had many times before, but unlike those other times, silence reigned over their meeting. Not one of them moved. The clock on the mantle behind Hobbs counted the passing seconds as they remained in this pose; William, standing just inside the doorway, Gray a little to his left, and Hobbs near the centre of the room in front of Gray's desk.
"Wi-w-wil—" was all Hobbs could manage.
His face was rather comical. His eyes looked as though they would fall out of their sockets at any second as he scanned his old friend up and down in disbelief. His mouth hung open as he gaped at William, then feebly tried to form words, failing miserably.
"Will," Gray said tentatively then paused, glancing at the floor then the ceiling for inspiration. Finally he faced William again and shrugged, his voice cracking with a half laugh, half sob when he spoke. "You're alive."
William walked further into the room, looking around him at its furnishings, stopping to pick up a figurine or an ashtray and turn it around, tilting his head as he regarded it from all angles then placed it down again to continue his stroll about the room. Hobbs and Gray watched him curiously, sharing a puzzled glance. Gray jumped a bit when he came face to face with a cold blue stare from across the room as William watched them. Gray cleared his throat and gestured to the half empty decanter on his desk.
"Would you like a drink, Will?"
Gray grabbed a glass from a nearby cabinet and walked over, filling it then picking up his own. He walked back to William and offered him the glass. William stared at it before slowly accepting. Gray stepped back and watched as William swirled the amber liquid around for a bit before raising the glass to his lips and downing the whole thing. Hobbs coughed nervously. Gray turned to face him and Hobbs raised an eyebrow. Gray took a sip of his Scotch, his other hand twitching slightly, and faced William again.
"So…are you going to tell us what happened to you? We heard you ran into Angelus then you just disappeared."
William remained silent, talking another walk around the room in the opposite direction, this time studying the paintings on the wall intently.
William glanced at them over his shoulder, placing the empty glass still in his hand down onto a table.
"We know who the traitor was," Hobbs blurted out, unable to stand the tension in the room any longer. "You won't believe this. It was that boy from the Council, the one who accompanied you the night you ran into Angelus. Little runt was behind the whole thing, had it set up to try and kill you. The Council has been all hush-hush of course, but we found out. He was working against us, trying to get rid of the Hunters for some reason."
"No one knows why. It's thought he may have bumped into Angelus and cut a deal with him in return for his life. Angelus would never pass up an opportunity like that," Gray interjected.
"He probably didn't see it as much of a loss to hand over the lives of so many Hunters either, the pompous sod." Hobbs cut in again, losing his temper. "He was a great actor though, have to give him that. Played the part of a cowardly little runt phenomenally. Stupid, arrogant, slimy little weasel! I get my hands on him—"
"He's dead," William interrupted.
Both men looked up, startled. They were the first words William had spoken since entering the house, and they momentarily stunned his small audience as they stared at him.
"I beg your pardon?" Gray asked slowly.
"Longley, he's dead," William repeated, coldly.
"Dead? But we followed him out of Council headquarters yesterday until we lost him in the crowded streets. He was perfectly fine then," Hobbs argued in disbelief.
"Last night he wasn't fine," William informed them, as he started toying with a paper weight, tossing the smooth globe from one hand to the other.
"What do you mean?" Gray asked steadily. "Will, what do you know? Did you see Longley?"
William nodded slowly, looking down at the paper weight in his hands, left, right, left, right, the round glass ball flew from one hand to the other.
"You saw him die?"
William nodded again. Left, right, left, right, faster now, the ball began to blur in front of the men's eyes.
Gray blinked then set his glass down on the desk. He folded his arms.
"What happened? Where were you? Did it—was it something to do with Angelus? Did Angelus kill him?"
Gray tried not to look at the blur flashing between William's hands, but it was hard not to. He took a deep breath and focused on his old friend's face, set in a stern mask, his icy blue eyes flicking from the paper weight in his hands to the two men before him. Slowly, William shook his head no. Gray swallowed hard.
"Will," he started, his tone much more serious, almost fearful, "did—did you have something to do with it?"
Blue eyes flicked up to meet Gray's again, and stayed there. There was no warmth in the look, no hint of friendliness or familiarity, just a cold, unblinking, clinical stare. For the first time, Gray took notice of the fact that the spectacles usually adorning Will's face were missing.
"Did you kill him?" Gray asked at last and all the air seemed to go out of the room.
The blur of motion became a paper weight again as William ceased tossing it around, instead clutching it in his left hand. He raised his head, looking from Gray to Hobbs and back again. He smirked.
Time stopped again. Gray stared at the stranger in front of him. Hobbs did likewise. Eventually the latter came to his senses and spoke.
"You killed him? But how did you know? How did you know it was him? None of us have had any contact with you since the day you left on that suicide mission—"
"Hobbs," Gray whispered in a warning tone, fixing his eyes on William.
"—and you turn up here out of the blue without even a scratch on you—"
"Hobbs," Gray said again, a little louder, reaching inside his jacket.
"—and then you tell us that the spy you made us stay alive to find is dead and you're the one that killed him! What in God's name happened to you? I never took you for a killer, Will, not when it came to humans. I know how badly you wanted him punished, as did we, but for you to kill the boy—"
"Hobbs!" Gray shouted, cutting off his friend's tirade. "That's not Will."
Hobbs frowned at Gray, slamming his own glass down on the table with a thud and spinning back to face them both.
"And what the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?" Hobbs demanded.
Gray's mouth became a tight line, his right hand still hidden inside his jacket.
"It means that Will is gone. I should never have invited him…it…in here."
William grinned sinisterly. Hobbs scowled, thoroughly confused, and opened his mouth to ask another question. Gray didn't waste another moment. He whipped out a cross and took two steps towards William, holding it out before him. William's reaction was instantaneous. He jerked backwards violently, the backs of his legs bumping into the small table behind him, making the items on top shake and rattle. The empty glass wobbled and fell on its side, rolling off the table to smash on the floor. Hobbs' mouth dropped open at the sight. William's distaste for the cross could mean only one thing.
"No." Hobbs shook his head.
Gray cringed and then backed up, holding his left hand behind him to Hobbs. "A stake, now!"
"Will," Hobbs said, still stunned.
"Now, Hobbs!" Gray shouted, momentarily taking his eyes off of William to look at Hobbs.
Hobbs jumped, glancing at Gray then made a beeline for his satchel, dropping to his knees and burying his hands inside. He pulled out a stake and threw it to Gray who caught it fluidly and spun back to William. He wasn't fast enough, though. Gray's momentary distraction meant that he'd lowered the cross a fraction and as he spun with stake in hand, William had recovered enough to launch his own attack. With lightening quick speed he threw the paper weight at Gray and the solid object made contact with the man's temple. It floored Gray who sprawled face down on the rug, the stake rolling away from his open hand. He groaned, blood streaming down his face and the round sphere that had done the damage rolled under the desk as if cowering from the oncoming danger.
"Gray!" Hobbs yelled, rising to his feet, a stake in his own meaty fist.
When he heard a growl from across the room his blood ran cold. Turning to face William, he stared into the yellow eyes of his enemy, an enemy that wore his friend's face, though now it was distorted with a vampire's ridges and fangs. Trembling for the first time in his life, Hobbs raised the stake and charged.
William launched himself at Hobbs, grabbing the arm that held the weapon and using his weight to halt Hobbs' momentum. A flash of amber eyes and razor sharp fangs, a quick snarl, and William brought Hobbs' hand down with full force, causing Hobbs to plunge the stake into his own gut. Hobbs bent over, as William held him up, one hand on his jacket the other still around his wrist. Hobbs released a sickening grunt, his eyes widening with surprise. William felt the warm blood trickling over his hand and could smell it in the air, his nostrils flaring.
Hobbs whimpered in pain. Pursing his lips, William twisted his wrist and shoved upwards, widening the wound and causing the blood to gush out. Hobbs gasped, but it quickly became a gurgle as blood flooded his mouth and he choked on the metallic fluid as his life drained away. Finally letting go, William stepped back allowing the body to drop to the floor, staining the rug beneath it red. Hobbs' fingers twitched and grew still, his eyes staring blankly at the skirting board.
A groan to the left caught the vampire's attention. Gray rolled over, clutching his bleeding temple, and struggled to a sitting position. He blinked several times, wincing from the pain in his head. When he eyed the mess on the floor, he snapped back to reality. Fully alert, he stared in horror at his friend, his comrade. His eyes found those of the vampire, tears beginning to stream down his cheeks. His voice cracked.
"You—you did that. How could you—You thing! You evil demon!"
He scrambled for the fallen stake that lay next to him, his fingers a hairsbreadth away when he was hauled upwards and swung sideways. Will slammed him down on top of the desk, tipping over an ink pot which dug sharply into Gray's back. A cold hand closed over his throat, vampire strength keeping him still. He faced his foe without fear. The vampire regarded him. Gray decided he must look like a strange victim. He felt something—acceptance.
"Go ahead then, Will. Do it. It seems only fitting. I failed you."
William's other hand snaked around behind Gray's head, taking a firm hold of his hair. He growled low and triumphantly. Gray stared death in the face with watery eyes.
"Send me to them, Willie-boy."
No more hesitation. One swift move and the vampire snapped the delicate human neck in his grasp and Gray knew no more.
William released the man, his arms falling down to his sides. Gray's head faced left, the angle of his neck a sign that nothing was left but a body. The vampire continued to stare downwards at the still figure. That was where they found him moments later.
"You did it." Angelus' voice floated from the doorway. "I had my doubts, but then suddenly—no more barrier."
The three vampires who had been waiting outside entered the study, Darla and Drusilla fanning to either side of Angelus who was smirking away as he admired William's handiwork.
"Not bad. The one on the floor, killed with his own stake by a vampire, well, that was poetic, but then what else should I expect from a poet? The one on the desk though," Angelus came closer, stopping just behind William and looking over his shoulder, his head cocked slightly and his brow furrowed, "seems a bit too quick, too clean. You didn't even drink from him. What's the matter? Did the Watcher boy last night fill you up?" He smiled at his own wit.
William's vampire features melted away and his human face reappeared. He took in the room he had seen a hundred times with new eyes. He blinked, and rubbed his eyes as if emerging from a fog, then stilled when he saw the bodies strewn around the room. Startled, he made an unintelligible sound and staggered sideways, clutching at the desk, then letting go in horror when realized how close to Gray's body his hand was. Stumbling backwards, his back met the wall with a thump and he held onto it for dear life, shaking, his gaze transferring from one dead man to the other.
"What's the matter with you?" Angelus asked in irritation.
"No. I—I—Oh God no."
William ran a shaking hand through his hair and felt a sticky wetness on his scalp. Pulling his hand back, he gasped in shock at the blood covering it, Hobbs' blood. He could smell it, very nearly taste it. It coated the air, pervading his senses. He'd turned the room in which they'd once shared jokes into a room of death, and he wasn't even sure how or why.
"God? You're calling on the wrong being there aren't you?" Angelus scoffed.
They're dead," William said, quietly.
"Yes, we can see that. Dru, I think this one's a little off, not quite right in the head. Even you don't act like—well this afterwards," Angelus said, gesturing at William. "Maybe it's better we cut him loose."
Drusilla glided past her sire and put both hands on William's chest. He was still staring at the bodies. She raised a finger to his chin and tilted it so he was looking at her again. She gave him a proud smile.
"Well done, my boy. It's over now. You can start again like the big bad dog you are."
William calmed instantly. He bent his head to Dru's so that his forehead was resting against hers and placed both hands on her hips. Angelus folded his arms and scowled at the pair. Darla was standing next to the puddle of blood near Hobbs' body, fanning herself for no reason other than to display her boredom.
"All right, time to leave. You two can play star-crossed lovers later. Some of us have to feed still," Angelus huffed.
Dru glanced at him over her shoulder, gave him a grin and released herself from William, strolling over to the door. Darla walked over and the two linked arms then turned expectantly to their partners. Angelus walked over to William who was watching Dru and nudged him on the shoulder. William faced him with a scowl.
"You better start acting like a vampire soon or I'll cut my losses no matter how fond she is of you. Understand, Willie-boy?"
Suddenly Angelus found himself pressed against the wall, William in full vamp face, his arm pressing down on Angelus' chest. The elder vampire was too stunned to react. William snarled viciously then leaned in close, showing off his fangs and the fury in his yellow eyes.
"Don't ever call me that. Don't use that name. Ever."
Angelus glared at William, showing him with one look how much he wanted to rip him apart for challenging him. William didn't back down, just waited for an acknowledgement. He increased the pressure on Angelus' chest a fraction and the other vampire winced.
"Fine," Angelus spat.
William nodded and released his grandsire, stepping back and giving him some space. Angelus ran his hands through his hair and fixed his cravat.
"Don't think I'll forget that," Angelus warned. "And you really should come up with something a little more threatening than William the Bloody. It's a mouthful, and we both know its origins aren't particularly horrifying, except for how pathetic they are," he threw over his shoulder as he pressed a hand to Darla and Dru's backs and walked outside.
William waited for a moment, staring at the doorway before following, not once looking back into the room.