"DON'T come any closer!"
Andrew froze, barely breathing as he stared at the sight of Angel crumpled on the floor. He was so still; completely motionless. He looked...
"Your vampire isn't dead." The man spoke with venom in his voice, almost spitting out the word 'vampire', so laced with hatred. "Obviously."
He wasn't dust, so of course Angel was alive. But he didn't look good, and it wouldn't take much, in his current state, to cause a fatal injury.
Andrew forced himself to look at their assailant and swallowed hard as he registered the handgun extended towards him.
"Sit." The order was accompanied with a flick of the gun towards the table, and Andrew complied instantly, dropping onto the kitchen chair and momentarily closing his eyes in an attempt to bring his breathing under control. Panic would not help right now.
"You, vampire! Up!" The gun lowered, levelling at Angel's torso.
Angel groaned, a sound that fractionally comforted Andrew, and rolled his head towards the man.
"He can't move in his condition. He's too hurt."
The words left Andrew's mouth before he had a chance to stop them.
The man stifled a noise that sounded something like a growl.
"I KNOW he is injured." he spat, kicking at the vampire on the ground just as he was trying to raise himself up. "He got INJURED murdering my best mate."
Something akin to recognition registered on Andrew's face as he realised this must be one of the two men who had been outside the warehouse. He hadn't really made the connection between the person on the video and the person stood before him until now. He looked... different; angrier.
"Yes. Remember me, vampire?" he asked, hesitantly crouching down alongside Angel and, without touching him, giving him the once over.
"Marcus." The introduction was flat, as if he begrudged giving it at all. "You murdered my friend in that place." Marcus began nodding. "First you murdered his pregnant wife, then you murdered him."
"That wasn't..." Andrew winced as the gun swung upwards to his direction again. "It wasn't Angel who did that." He cringed again, realising how it sounded. "I mean, it was Angelus who killed... who killed those other people."
Marcus stood swiftly, ignoring the vampire in favour of approaching the table and standing opposite where Andrew was sitting, his hands wringing themselves as he fought to control the rising hysteria.
"You think that makes a difference, do you?" Marcus' voice was far calmer than his body language was letting on, and the quiet control of his words did nothing to allay Andrew's panic.
"He's..." Andrew paused a second, letting out a long exhale of air, "... he's different now."
Marcus' face reddened as he pulled out the second chair. Andrew thought, for a moment, that he was going to sit on it, but instead, Marcus swung round, grabbing Angel by the arm and dragging him up and onto the chair opposite Andrew.
Angel groaned loudly, and Andrew noticed the darkening patch on his shirt. The wound coverings needed replacing. Angel's blood supply needed replacing.
Marcus growled as Andrew leaned over the table towards the ailing vampire. He turned towards the sink and braced his hands on the worktop, steadying himself.
"Look." Andrew held his hands up, hoping to placate the agitated man, "I don't know what you want from him... from us... but, if you don't let me tend to his wounds and at least get some blood into him, he's going to dust... here."
Marcus turned around to look again at Angel, and Andrew wished for a moment that he hadn't spoken. That he hadn't asked. That he hadn't pushed Marcus into perhaps stepping up to his endgame.
"He's that bad?"
Andrew forced down the outburst that threatened to emerge. Of course, he's that bad. He's dying. He wanted to scream and shout at the ignorance of the man, only the small signs of hesitation on the man's face convincing him not to.
"He IS dying." Andrew hoped he could get through to Marcus. Hoped that it wasn't the man's plan all along to just kill Angel and that this would be it.
"See to him."
Marcus pulled out a third chair and dragged it across the kitchen, placing it near the doorway where he could watch his captives securely.
Andrew flung himself out of his own chair and rounded the table to Angel. Carefully, he undid the few closed buttons on the shirt and grimaced as he slowly pulled the soaked bandages from Angel's torso. As the wounds became exposed, Angel's eyes flew open and the vampire let out a low hiss as his eyes rimmed with gold.
Andrew glanced around to look at Marcus, but the man's attention was elsewhere, fiddling anxiously with his cellphone.
Andrew crossed the kitchen and reached up to open a cupboard.
"Slowly!" Marcus warned, clearly unnerved.
Andrew nodded and cautiously pulled down a fresh bandage roll, some tape and a clean towel, which he soaked under the tap before returning to Angel's side.
"Here. Hold this." He whispered, pressing the damp towel to the vampire's body as he unfolded a fresh bandage.
"I need to heat him something to... eat." Andrew was unsure how to phrase it as he looked across at Marcus, silently pleading to be able to give Angel some chance of survival.
Marcus waved the gun at him dismissively.
Andrew squeezed Angel's arm gently and walked over to the fridge, removing a blood pouch and warming it in the microwave before bringing it back to the table. He gently removed the cloth and, cleaning off the area, fixed a fresh bandage in place. Only then did he move Angel's hands to the mug, wrapping the docile vampire's fingers around it.
"Drink, Angel. Please." His voice was quiet; pleading; desperate, and he couldn't help noticing Marcus' stare as Angel began to drink and, after throwing the old bandages and dirty cloths into the sink, Andrew returned to his seat.
"You really care for this... demon. This monster." It wasn't a question, but Marcus seemed genuinely surprised, even as he sat there, gun in his lap and look of pure contempt on his face.
Andrew paused, taking a moment to consider the answer least likely to aggravate their aggressor. After a minute or so, he looked from Angel to Marcus and nodded.
"He's my friend."
Marcus appeared to be considering that. The frown on his face made it seem like he could barely understand how anybody, particularly a human, could possibly be friends with a vampire.
"I know Angelus did bad things. I mean... Angelus did a lot of terrible things, but this..." Andrew paused, his eyes meeting briefly with Angel's. The vampire was struggling to keep his open but he was studying Andrew as he spoke. "... Angel is different. He's not Angelus... he's not HIM any more."
Andrew turned away from their captor, and Marcus was quiet as Angel dropped his head onto his hands, folded on the table. He turned his cellphone over and over in his hands, periodically studying it, as if he was waiting for something.
A moment later, the screen flashed into life with an incoming text message.
I'll be there in 10 - Bella