Fred’s History Lesson

 

By Maquis Leader

 

 

 

Author’s note: This is set not long after Angel returned to LA from his meeting with Buffy after he found out she was alive. As always, Angelus’ thoughts are in monotype corsiva, which you can download from the main page.

 

 

 

“She’s real pretty.”

 

Angel startled out of his brooding and almost dropped the picture he was staring at.

 

Fred sat down next to him. “Wow! I can see why you love her.”

 

“I don’t love her just because she’s pretty, Fred.” He looked down off the edge of the roof at the lights below.

 

“Oh, no! I know!” She giggled nervously. “She looks so – I dunno – so – she’s special.”

 

“Yes.” He looked down at the picture again. The camera had captured perfectly the sparkle in Buffy’s green eyes and the impish smile. “She’s very special.”

 

“What’s this one?” Fred had noticed the second photograph tucked under the one of Buffy.

 

“It’s… one of both of us.” Reluctantly, he showed her the photograph.

 

“Oh my.” In the picture, Buffy and Angel were sitting on a sofa and Buffy was leaning back against his chest. “You two – you belong together.”

 

Pain lanced through his supposedly dead heart. “No. No, we don’t.”

 

“Cordelia said you can’t be with Buffy because of some curse.” She handed back the photograph.

 

“Something like that.” Angel said quietly.

 

“That’s a mean curse.” She chewed her lip nervously. “How did you – you know – get cursed?”

 

“It’s a long story.”

 

“I like stories.”

 

For a brief moment, Angel toyed with the idea of shoving her off the roof. Fred didn’t mean to hurt him, couldn’t know she was digging in a raw wound. “Do you know anything about vampires?”

 

“A little. They drink blood, and can’t go out in the sun, and stakes, crosses and holy water.” She shrugged. “Some are nice – “

 

“No! None are nice.”

 

“You are.”

 

“I could rip your throat out just as easily as the rest of them.” He said harshly.

 

“But you wouldn’t.” Fred patted his hand.

 

A headache was building behind his eyes. How do I keep attracting these trusting women?

 

The Angelic one, remember? Angelus whispered.

 

“Fred, vampires are evil. All of them.” He held up a hand when she started to protest. “I am different. But only because of the curse.”

 

“Because of the curse?” Frowning, she shook her head. “How is it a curse if they made you be not evil?”

 

“That wasn’t exactly their intention.” And he’d never looked at it from that angle. “They wanted me to suffer.”

 

“By being good?”

 

“By being able to care about the evil things I’ve done.” She still looked confused. “Vampires don’t care. A demon takes the body, and the soul leaves. They put my soul back.”

 

“Oh… oh!” A wave of sympathy washed over her. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be.”

 

“But, why can’t you – be with Buffy? If you’re good and all?” Fred looked up at him with adoring eyes. “Doesn’t she love you, too?”

 

Shoving her off the roof was looking more and more attractive. “It’s not that simple.”

 

“Cordelia says it’s about – “Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Sex.”

 

Angelus howled with laughter.

 

Throwing Cordy off the roof was also an extremely attractive thought. “It’s not about sex.”

 

“Oh, good!” Cheeks red, she turned away. “I mean… um…. so why?”

 

Obviously Fred wasn’t going to leave him alone until she knew everything. “I was turned into a vampire. And after – “

 

“How old were you?”

“How old am I? A little over two hundred and forty.”

 

“No, how old were you then? Before -- you know?”

 

“I was… “Angel stopped. He never really thought about how old he’d been when Darla turned him.  “It was 1753 and I was born in 1727 – “

 

“So you were twenty six.”

 

“I guess so, almost twenty seven I think.”

 

“And now you’re – wow!” Her brown eyes were wide. “Two hundred and seventy four!”

 

“I suppose. Usually I just count from when I was made.” He’d forgotten Fred was a math whiz.

 

“Well, you look really good.” Her cheeks turned pink again. “Not old at all.”

 

“Thanks.” Considering I’m dead? “Anyway – “

 

“So you were twenty six and your name was Angel, and – “

 

“My name was Liam.”

 

“Liam? That’s Irish for William?” She studied him seriously. “You don’t look like a William.”

 

Not quite sure how to answer that comment, he decided to ignore it. “After about a hundred and fifty years, in 1898 – “

 

“One hundred and forty five years.”

 

“Darla, my sire brought me a gypsy girl. And we… killed her.” A mental image exploded into his head as it did anytime he thought of a specific victim.

 

He had pushed her skirts up and feasted on the blood pulsing through the artery in her inner thigh. Then he’d mounted her while Darla stroked his hair and back, and encouraged him. Egged him on to greater brutality. The girl screamed and writhed beneath him in her pain until he tore her throat out as he climaxed.

 

“Angel?”

 

Fred’s voice jerked him back to the present. Every memory was so vivid; he could almost taste the blood and smell the fear.

 

She was a sweet piece... Angelus drawled. Good and tight… at first…

 

“Angel?”  The handsome face had turned to stone. Touching his hand gently, Fred said his name once more.

 

“Sorry.” Clearing his throat, Angel picked up the thread of his story once again. “Her clan, they cursed me. Gypsies not being the nicest of people, they brought my soul back from wherever it was and stuffed it back into my body.”

 

“That doesn’t sound like much fun.” She shuddered sympathetically.

 

You don’t know the half of it, sweetheart.

 

“They wanted me to suffer.” He spread his hands. “And I did for about – until 1996.” He grinned as he waited for her to mentally calculate the dates.

 

“Ninety eight years.”

 

“Ninety eight years. When Whistler found me, he was a demon – “

 

“And you fought him?”

 

“No. Luckily, because I wasn’t in the best of shape. Living on rats and squirrels, hiding in alleys.”

 

“Kinda like my cave?” Her main food stuff back in Pylea had been tree bark and grass.

 

“Worse. And I was filthy.”

 

Looking him over, Fred tried to picture Angel filthy. Even in Pylea he had washed up as best he could, given the circumstances.

 

“Whistler got me to go with him to Los Angeles. And that’s when I first saw Buffy.”

 

“What’d she look like?”

 

“Total airhead.” Despite the twinge of longing, he smiled. “Surrounded by a group of girls all talking about boys and clothes and girl stuff. I saw her meet her watcher, Merrick.”

 

“And she joined the fight against evil?” Fred nodded. Buffy was the Slayer, after all.

 

“Not exactly. She thought Merrick was a dirty old man.” Another smile at the memory of Buffy sucking on her lollipop and giving the old man a skeptical look. “But he convinced her that she was the Slayer and I watched her stake her first vampire not long after.”

 

“That must have been exciting.”

 

“More scary and laughable. She had on this bright orangey pink jacket that stood out in the graveyard like a neon sign blinking ‘free blood’. And clumsy? She had to stake the poor vamp three or four times before she hit the heart.”

 

“Not so good, huh?” Fred giggled at the image.

 

“Not so good. But she did it.” Angel sobered. “Then she went home and listened to her parents argue.”

 

“Oh, how sad.” Her own parents never argued, not really. Only the little squabbles that seemed more like an excuse to make up and kiss.

 

“She had snuck out and got caught coming back in. They yelled at each other about whose fault it was that she was – “ Angel closed his eyes. He’d hidden outside her window and listened to Buffy cry herself to sleep. His supposedly dead heart had ached and he had wanted nothing more than to crawl in through the open window and hold her in his arms. To tell her everything would be all right. To make it all right for her.

 

“You fell in love with her right then, didn’t you?” Fred hugged herself. “How romantic!”

 

“I suppose. Then I went to Sunnydale to wait for her. Whistler said she would be moving there and she needed me to help fight the Master.”

 

“The Master?”

 

“Big ugly vampire, like a big white rat.” Did I really want to look like that at one time?

 

Vamp perfection, bozo. Better than this ugly human face.

 

“Buffy always said he had ‘fruit punch mouth’ because of the pinkish stains around his mouth.”

 

“Doesn’t sound very scary.” The mental image of a white rat with pink lips made her giggle.

 

“Oh, he was.” Angel shuddered. “But we killed him – twice. That’s a different story.” He said hurriedly.

 

“Fighting side by side…”  Fred sighed.  “And Buffy loved you at first sight, too?”

 

“Not exactly. She knocked me down and threatened me.” He couldn’t help laughing at Fred’s look of surprise. “I had been following her around. I didn’t know what to say to her. My ah… conversational skills aren’t the best.”

 

“You don’t talk very much.” She patted his hand again. “But what you do say is important.”

 

Obviously the hero worship thing is still there. “I warned her about the danger and took off. I tried to keep it that way but… “

 

“But you couldn’t?”

 

“No, and I tried. I mean she was sixteen and I was two hundred and forty.”

 

“Two hundred and seventy.” When Angel turned to frown at her, she wrung her hands. “Or just two hundred and forty four if you just count vampire years.”

 

“The point is, I was too old. Way too old. And a vampire.”

 

“And she was the Slayer.” Fred sighed again. “How tragic. Like Romeo and Juliet. ‘My only love sprung from my only hate’.”

 

“That pretty much describes it.” His sigh echoed hers. “But we got closer and closer. One night I was hurt and Buffy took me home – well, we ran to her house from these three really nasty vamps. She bandaged me up and I spent the night.”

 

“Oh my!” Eyes wide, Fred put her hands over her mouth.

 

“Oh, no, no! I spent the night on the floor.”

 

“I was gonna say! Her being sixteen and all.”

 

“I was a perfect gentleman.” He assured her.

 

Only because you didn’t listen to me and get into bed with her. Angelus snickered.

 

“I laid there all night and listened to her heartbeat.” Angel grinned, knowing that would appeal to Fred’s romantic nature. “Then I hid out in her room all day until she came home. I had this speech about why we should keep our distance – worked on it all day.”

 

“But you didn’t say it, did you?”

 

“I did but… I also said how much I wanted to kiss her.” He winced as Fred gave a girlish squeal.

 

“Your first kiss! Was it sweet?” She leaned closer. “Was it?”

 

“Yes.” Sweeter than any kiss he’d ever known. “Then I showed her my true face.”

 

“And she loved you anyway… aw….”

 

“No, she screamed. And I ran.”

 

“Why did she – “ Fred stopped. “You didn’t tell her you were a vampire, did you?”

 

“No.” He jumped as she smacked his leg with her hand. “Vampire plus Slayer equals stake through the heart, remember? She never would have trusted me if she’d known I was a vampire.”

 

“Still… you shoulda said something before you kissed her.” She arched an eyebrow. “A girl likes to know these things.”

 

“I got that.” He rubbed his leg. “But I was right, because Buffy tried to kill me. Shot a cross bolt at me.”

 

“But she missed.”

 

“Buffy never misses.” The bolt had been closer than he’d liked, but no doubt right where she wanted it. “We talked and then Darla showed up and tried to kill her. So I dusted her.”

 

“Isn’t that against the rules? She was your sire and all.”

 

“It’s – “ How could he explain the complicated and incestuous vampire relationships? “There’s a connection between sire and chylde – and the chylde is totally devoted to their sire. It’s rare that they ever turn on them. It’s more common for the sire to kill the chylde.” Fred was big eyed again. “Sometimes you turn someone for stupid reasons.”

 

Like a little muscle or just a play toy. Angelus added helpfully. Remember that redhead? What was her name? She was fun for a few years.

 

“I think I’ll just stick to being a person.” Fred said quietly.

 

“That would be best.” He agreed.

 

“So then you and Buffy got closer and fell in love.”

 

“Yes. We… patrolled together and ah…”

 

“Did you kiss a lot?”

 

“Yes. And after a while she didn’t mind my other face, said she didn’t notice anymore.” Closing his eyes he remembered the night in the skating rink when she’d touched his face and kissed him, not caring that he was wearing the face of a vampire.

 

“Well, I don’t understand. Why did you leave her?”

 

“It seems there was more to my curse than I knew about. There was a clause they didn’t bother to tell me.” He said bitterly. “A moment of true happiness and I lose my soul.”

 

“Why would they do that? That’s just being vindictive.”

 

“Did I mention that gypsies are not nice people?”

 

Assholes.

 

“Maybe they thought I’d kill whoever I loved and that would really make me suffer.” Angel shook his head. “Who the hell knows?”

 

“But with your soul gone – “ Fred touched his chest over his heart. “The demon would be back.”

 

Bingo!

 

“You’re smarter than they were.” Gently, he took her hand from his chest. “Although they did follow me around trying to keep me from being happy. Which is a little strange when you stop and think about it.

 

“Maybe somebody pointed out what would happen? I mean, hello!”

 

“Maybe.” The second part of the curse still baffled him.

 

“Oh… so you and Buffy? And… oh…” Mentally she moved to the next step. “So he was loose?”

 

“Angelus.”

 

“That’s Latin. Angelic.” Fred studied his profile as he stared back out over the city. Well that fits him!

 

“Yes.” He cringed inwardly. Please don’t ask for details.

 

“Did he do a lot of bad things?”

 

You should have known she would.

 

With a sigh, Angel told Fred how he’d tormented Buffy and killed various people including Jenny Calendar, the gypsy woman sent to watch him. Killed her before she could restore his soul.

 

“Oh, the poor fish!” Shaking her head, Fred muttered. “I mean – killing people and all is awful! But – but – that’s just mean!”

 

Why does everyone feel for the fucking fish? Angelus growled. And mean was the point, moron!

 

“But he didn’t kill Buffy.” She said suddenly. “Why?”

 

“I don’t know.” That was a question that haunted his nightmares.

 

“Oh well, she’s the Slayer, so he probably couldn’t. Right?”

 

Like I couldn’t take her? A mental snort. I’ve bagged Slayers before, honey.

 

Then why didn’t you? Angel shot back. “There were times he could have. He went into her room one night and watched her sleep. Drew a sketch of her and left it on her pillow. I could have ripped her throat out at anytime.”

 

“But you didn’t. And I know why.” His change from ‘he’ to ‘I’ hadn’t escaped her notice.

 

“Why?”

 

Yeah, why? Angelus sneered.

 

“Because he loves her, too.” Fred nodded seriously. “You said he was kinda crazy ‘cos she made him feel human.”

 

Don’t listen to her; she’s still squirrelly from living in a cave!

 

Wordlessly, Angel nodded.

 

“There you go!” She exclaimed. “Okay, maybe it was a not so nice kind of love. But I think he wanted her as much as you do.”

 

For the first time, Angel pulled out those memories. Watching Buffy as she slept, sketching her, careful to catch every nuance. The urge to crawl into bed with her.

 

To rip her throat out!

 

Sneaking back into the hospital after Xander thought he’d run him off. Watching her doze fitfully in her illness, pulling the blankets up over her.

 

I wanted her healthy so I could kill her myself!

 

Watching Buffy fight a pack of vamps, ready to step in if she were in real danger.

 

Again, so I could kill her myself, stupid!

 

Tracking down a vamp that had gotten away from her and staking it. Angel smiled slightly. Staking it because it had hit her and bruised her face. Buffy’s face. His mate’s face.

 

Angelus growled in denial.

 

Opening his eyes, Angel found Fred waiting patiently. “You’re right.”

 

“So, how’d you get your soul back?” This was better than her mother’s soap operas.

 

Willow did the same spell the gypsies had done. And since I knew about the ‘moment of happiness’ part, I had to leave Sunnydale.” That was the abridged version of everything. “Being around Buffy, we… ah…”

 

“Can’t keep your hands off each other?” She giggled.

 

“Something like that.” Hands, lips, and assorted other body parts. “Being around her and not being able to touch her is worse than being apart from her.”

 

“Cordy was wrong then. It’s not sex.”

 

“Not exactly, no.” Good thing vampires can’t blush.

 

“I didn’t think so. ‘Cos I’ve had sex and it’s not very nice when you don’t love the person.” Her head dropped and she studied her fingernails. “It’s not very nice at all.”

 

“Fred, it can be nice without love.” It hadn’t occurred to him that part of her time as a slave might have included rape. “Force is what makes it not… nice.”

 

“And true love?” When Fred looked up, her eyes were pleading.

 

“True love makes it…” He chucked her under the chin. “Worth losing your soul for.”

 

“And that’s the real reason you left, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes.” It had reached the point where he didn’t care if he lost his soul as long as he could have that moment of joy and perfection with Buffy just once more.

 

“Hey.” Fred took his hand. “Let’s go get some ice cream, okay?”

 

“Without the demon this time?” Tucking the pictures back into his inside jacket pocket, Angel stood and helped her to her feet.

 

“Works for me.” Their last trip for ice cream had ended with them in the sewers chasing a demon that had attacked them in the ice cream parlor.

 

“And Fred.” He leaned down to brush a kiss across her cheek. “Thank you.”

 

“Umm… sure.” Reaching up to where his cool lips had touched her cheek, Fred smiled. Angel’s chocolate eyes were less sad and his broad shoulders not so slumped as when she’d found him sitting alone. Buffy might be his true love, but she was his friend. “Anytime.”

 

 

 

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maquisleader@maquisleader.net



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