Ethos, part 3
Angel hadn’t slept most of the night. Vivid memories of screwing Kathryn into every available flat service were not going to be quieted, especially when she was so trustingly snuggled against him in his bed, letting out little snores now and then as she slept. She had no idea who or what she was or what she had already done with – and to - the man holding her. He smiled into her hair and caressed her shoulder with the back of his finger. He wanted her with a lust that was beyond just that of a man and a beautiful woman, he wanted her with the lust of a man who had already been inside her and wanted to come back home.
He drew her more closely against his chest and inhaled the scent of her. She’d been in his bed for days, broken and confused. Even with her trademark sexual confidence gone and the bruises marring her flesh, she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He hated this woman he held so gently in his arms, so why did just the idea of making love to her get him so aroused? He closed his eyes and brushed the thought from his mind. Overanalyzing the situation would just get him into trouble.
Letting her know how much he still desired her would be a mistake, but that wouldn’t stop him from taking exactly what he wanted. She was so innocent now that she was without her memory. He didn’t spend too much time thinking about why that was or how it was even possible. The petite woman in his arms was the same viperous, selfish bitch he knew before and he had to keep reminding himself of that. He would use her pliable condition against her and punish her for himself and every other man she had destroyed. She presented him zero threat. He smiled and brushed away the feelings of guilt that kept creeping into his mind. She was going to pay for ruining his life and his career.
Sebastian and Kathryn scoured the city looking for Buffy. None of her friends knew where she was. Even though Kathryn was well aware that no one in the world really trusted her but Buffy, she knew her friends weren’t lying. They were as worried as she was. When she and Sebastian had finally gotten a hold of Buffy’s best friend, Willow Rosenberg, and she confirmed that she hadn’t heard from Buffy in days, that she wasn’t answering her cell or her home phone, and that she never went so long without calling back, Kathryn knew something was seriously wrong.
The sickening feeling that had been coiling in her gut since she had found Buffy’s apartment empty was becoming worse as the days went on. Buffy was nowhere to be found. No one had seen or heard from her. No hospitals had checked in a Buffy Summers or a Jane Doe that matched her twin’s description. It was as if she had simply disappeared from the face of the earth.
“Don’t you have some twin sense or something?” Sebastian finally complained as they drove around aimlessly. They had done nothing but drive and search for hours on end with no results. Kathryn didn’t turn to look at him. She was busy scanning the streets for herself with blonde hair.
“I don’t know, Sebastian,” she barked back. “She’s never been missing before and I don’t know where she hides the godamn bat cave.”
“Ever the bitch,” Sebastian muttered, drumming his fingertips on the steering wheel of the rental car.
“Excuse the hell out of me, Prince Fucking Charming,” she snarled. “If you have any better ideas on how to find my sister, I’m open to suggestions.”
“Did you catch the name of the person trying to kill you, Kath? I’ll be glad to hand you over without even claiming the finder’s fee.”
“Been there, done that,” he crooned. “Just like everyone else.”
Buffy woke up early in the morning lying nearly on top of someone. It was predawn and the light filtering through the windows was a gloomy gray. She blinked open her eyes and slowly pushed herself up to see that the someone in question was Angel. She stared down at his sleeping face for a moment.
It was strange that she hadn’t woken up when he climbed into bed with her, but she was sure the pain pills had something to do with that. She had assumed that the bed she had been sleeping in these past days had been his but naively; she hadn’t thought he intended to sleep in it with her - even after he had told her that they had been lovers.
She moved slowly away, sliding his hand off of her hip before pulling her leg back from where it was nestled between his. She had to be careful so that she didn’t hurt herself more as she maneuvered away. The sheets fell farther down his body as she shifted in the bed and she couldn’t help but take a moment to look. It wasn’t hard to believe that she had been his lover when she saw him sprawled in the decadent black silk. She raked her eyes over his well-defined chest and fought the urge to smooth her hands over him. He was absolutely beautiful. His mouth looked like it had been made solely for the purpose of long, deep kisses and his big, elegant hands were perfect for caresses in the dark. When he was awake, he seemed to scowl at her most of the time, but there were moments when his deep brown eyes looked over her in a way that made her melt just a little.
With a sigh, she scooted back until they were no longer touching. He woke moments later and yawned, stretching languidly before he remembered she was there. He looked over at her and looked surprised and then grimaced. “I forgot about you for a second,” he grunted, sitting up and letting the covers fall away as he stood.
“Did you…did you sleep in here with me because we used to be lovers?” she asked quietly, holding the sheet up to cover herself.
“No,” he replied, immediately annoyed, “I slept with you because you had a nightmare and started screaming loud enough to wake the dead.”
“Oh. Sorry,” she apologized, peering down for a moment. “Can you tell me more about who I am?”
“What do you want to know?” he asked, propping up the pillows behind him. She tried not to look again, but he was shamelessly displayed before her. She couldn’t imagine being as confident with her near nakedness. She was wearing much more than he was and felt more bashful with each passing moment.
“How did we meet?”
“At a party,” he said. “A friend of a friend, Virginia Bryce, was having one of her huge flings at her father’s mansion. I met you there.”
“And what happened?” she urged, trying not to sound desperate, but that’s exactly what she was. She didn’t know anything about her life at all, except that Angel had previously been her lover and that it had ended badly. Strangely, he hadn’t said he had been her boyfriend or that they had dated, but that they had been “lovers.” The term had stuck with her since he mentioned it. It just sounded so casual and as much as she didn’t know about herself, she didn’t think she’d be into casual sex…would she? She scrutinized Angel again. With him, maybe she would.
“Maybe it’s better if you remember things on your own, Kathryn,” he responded, breaking eye contact. The innocent look in her eyes frustrated the hell out of him. She was Kathryn Mertueil. She was evil. She wasn’t innocent no matter how she appeared with that sheet held up against her chest. If she had her memory back, there would be no sheet, no nightgown and very little human decency.
“Please help me, Angel,” she whispered. “I need to know who I am.”
He scowled at her. If the doctor hadn’t confirmed her amnesia, he would be convinced this was another one of her mind games. “We were lovers, nothing more,” he bit out.
“You’re the only person I have to talk to,” she continued when his jaw tightened from her plea. “I’m sorry for whatever happened that made you dislike me so much but you’re all I have right now. Can you please tell me something? Maybe I’ll start remembering if my memories are jogged.”
“Fine,” he relented, refusing to meet her gaze. “What do you want to know?”
“How long did we date?” she asked, keeping her voice as friendly as possible. She liked him. And something told her that whatever happened to make him hate her, the same thing made him maybe love her a little bit at the same time.
“We didn’t date,” he answered gruffly. He lowered his voice and leaned in towards her in the bed. He was still several feet away but he seemed much closer than that. “We fucked.”
“Oh,” she squeaked. She felt the blush color her cheeks and couldn’t help but wonder about the details. Had she loved him? Had he done something to hurt her first? There were always two sides to every story, after all. Maybe she had wanted a relationship, but he only wanted to have sex. She seemed to garner a little inner strength with that thought.
“You really want to know what happened between us?” he asked, leaning on one elbow and gazing straight into her eyes, confirming her thoughts of him being a sex god. He seemed as if he was basking in his element as he stared at her with those deep brown eyes.
“Yes,” she answered breathlessly.
“I saw you at a club a year before I met you but we spoke for the first time about three years ago at Virginia’s party. I remember you wearing a tiny dress and a throng of men. You had brown hair then. You approached me and pulled me out onto the dance floor with you. I don’t know if you were there with anyone, but you rubbed yourself against me against me and whispered in my ear.” He stopped and met her eyes, smiling predatorily.
“Then what happened?” she whispered, her answer coming out in a harsh whisper.
“You said, ‘Let’s go somewhere more private,’” he answered. “You took my hand and led me upstairs to the Master bedroom. The bed was covered in jackets and purses from all of the guests, so we stood in the middle of the room. We started to kiss. I remember your hands roaming over me, unbuckling my belt. We heard someone coming so we ducked into the closet. While another couple was talking about finding their things and going home to let the dog out, you dropped to your knees, unzipped my pants and took me into your mouth. You didn’t even know my name until after you had sucked my cock. That’s how we met.”
“Something else happened later,” she stated, reading the emotions on his face. “Something happened between us to make you hate me, didn’t it?”
“You don’t want to know what you’re capable of, Kathryn,” he advised, standing up to get away from her as if her toxic personality were contagious.
“I can’t believe I’m that bad of a person,” she whispered, tears coming to her eyes.
“You’re a whore,” he spat, his mouth tightening when the gasp escaped from her pretty pink mouth. He steeled his resolve and turned to face her. “You fuck men for money and then destroy them when you’re done with them. I don’t know who tried to kill you, but it doesn’t surprise me that someone would try.”
Ignoring the stricken look on her face, he headed to the bathroom. He refused to feel guilty. She had destroyed his life and the lives of many before him. She had bled men dry, used them up quicker than drugs or gambling or alcohol did for others. He wasn’t the least bit sorry that he hurt her.
Faith was pissed. Spike and his incompetence were the reason they were in this mess in the first place and to top it all off, the mark was one of Angel’s special lady friends. She snarled inwardly. Did he have to bump uglies with every halfway decent looking girl in a fifty-mile radius? Okay, she inwardly consented, he was extremely good at it, but that was beside the point.
She took a deep breath and got out of the car. She wasn’t looking forward to this meeting. If Spike didn’t show, she was going to kill him herself – all *neat like.* She went into the dilapidated apartment complex and climbed five flights of stairs, making sure she didn’t clomp on the steps with her heavy boots. She wasn’t sure if they were sturdy and didn’t like the thought of getting caught helpless in this neighborhood. She felt for the knife in the sheath at her lower back. She smiled. She was never completely helpless.
Finally, at the top of the stairs, she headed for the door in the back, ignoring the molding carpet in the hallway and the graffiti on the walls. She knocked on the door and waited. A minute or two later, the door opened to reveal her contact for this project, Gwen. Gwen stepped back and let Faith enter her luxurious apartment.
The disguise was brilliant. No one would ever break into this apartment thinking it had millions of dollars worth of electronics, art and furnishings – not that they could. As one of the world’s finest thieves, Gwen knew how to keep someone out. The disguise in the broken down building was only the first stage of the security.
Spike was waiting in the next room, sprawled in a chair and looking for all the world like he was right at home. He drank Jack Daniels out of a crystal glass and grinned at them when they walked into the room.
“You two bints look like you could take out a team of assassins by yourselves, but luckily you only have me,” he purred. He ran a hand over his tight abs invitingly and smiled at Gwen. “What are you going to do with us, pet?”
“If at first you don’t succeed,” Gwen said, her lip curling in distaste, “get your asses out there and try again. If I could get away with killing that bitch myself, I would, but unlike you two idiots, I have motive. I’m surprised they haven’t already come to see me about Kathryn’s little accident.”
“Look,” Faith said, with a shrug, “we did what we could but now she’s with Angel. Trust me, cupcake, I know Angel and he knows me – and I mean he *knows* me. I can’t get caught doing her in or he’ll make sure I get caught and do hard time. We returned half of the money and now your boss is gonna have to get someone else.”
“No. That’s not going to work for us,” Gwen declared, smiling sweetly. She turned and pressed a remote and the wall behind her slid back to reveal a small metal room about the size of an elevator shaft. Drusilla was curled up on the floor moaning and bleeding. Spike jumped to his feet in alarm and ran for the door, but it was already closing. He banged on the door, shouting, “Drusilla!”
“Let her out!” Spike roared, storming toward Gwen. She pulled a gun out of a side table drawer and pointed it at them, calm as a warm summer’s day.
“You don’t get it. You’re going to do the job you were assigned,” she snapped, her fire engine red lips smirking, “or I’ll do the job I was assigned. Now get out. Get it done or the bullet in Dru’s head will be the least of your worries.”
“Run along and kill her, Spike,” Faith remarked, yawning and stretching. “Me? I’m five by five.”
“You nasty bitch!” Spike bellowed, although it wasn’t clear which bitch he was referring to. He panted as if he had run a mile and although the steel box Drusilla was locked in blocked out all noise, it felt like she was still in the room, bleeding and wailing in pain.
“If Kathryn isn’t dead in the next twenty-four hours, we will send in a team. Everyone inside the Hyperion will die,” Gwen promised, cockily.
“So?” Faith said with a smile, “whatever gives you that lowdown tickle, Gwen.”
“I did my research on you, little badass Faith,” Gwen answered, crossing her arms over her red leather tube top. “I know that Angel means more to you than your other rolls in the hay. I know you care more than you’re showing.”
“You know shit about me,” Faith denied rebelliously but her hands were starting to sweat. Just a flick of her wrist and this bitch would be toast. She didn’t need Spike to kill Kathryn and she sure as hell could take this twinkie out with no problem. “Besides, you just said you could kill Kathryn yourself.”
“Killing Kathryn is suspicious,” Gwen murmured sweetly. “Blowing up a hotel is very flashy. Not the same style as a botched strangling in a back alley.”
Buffy pulled back as if she were stung when Angel came back into the room and bent over her. He had showered and dressed as if she wasn’t in the room while she lay on the bed and kept her back to him. She didn’t want to even see his face.
“Don’t touch me,” she said in a quavering voice, still reconciling what he had told her. Was she actually a prostitute? Had she sold her body to all the men he had talked about and then did things to hurt them? How was it possible when she didn’t even know what it felt like to make love? When she had woken up in Angel’s arms, it had felt new, exciting and a little frightening. Was that the reaction of someone who did those things professionally?
On the other hand, he had been so cruel with his choice of words. No one made up that kind of anger. She had probably done horrible things to him to make him despise her so much, but there was still this little voice inside her that argued she didn’t deserve the way he talked to her. She couldn’t remember what she had done and yet it didn’t seem to matter to him. His eyes were always filled with a strange mixture of lust and hate.
“I’m running a bath for you,” he informed her quietly. “I brought some clothes from your house for you to wear.”
“My house?” she asked. “Why don’t you just take me there? If you hate me so much, why are you taking care of me? Just let me go home.”
“Because,” he explained, “you aren’t the kind of girl who would have been in an alley like that. Someone took you there and that leads me to believe that they knew you. Your attack wasn’t an accident and I want you to be out of sight in case they try again.”
“Why do you care?” she blurted, shrinking back as he scooped her into his arms and carried her to the bathroom. He didn’t answer her question. He didn’t know why he cared. If he really wanted revenge, he would abandon her now when she needed him the most. He knew that much. The innocence in this girl was confusing. He would get his revenge, but finding her killer seemed equally, if not more important.
“Call me when you’re done,” he said, turning from the room. He closed the door behind him and walked away.
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