"That damn stubborn demon bastard!"
Both Andrew and Marcus jumped as Bella stormed out of the kitchen, her long skirt following hurriedly and only barely avoiding getting itself caught in the door as it swung closed behind her.
"He's not giving anything up." She turned to Marcus, who had stood up from the chair and had begun to make his way towards the kitchen, "He's completely blank."
Andrew rolled his eyes but hid the smugness inside. Of course Angel was blank. He didn't know anything. He'd been in an unconscious healing sleep since they had arrived back from the warehouse, and he had no idea what had been going on. He couldn't tell her where Spike and Xander were or why they had gone.
Andrew's head darted up to see Marcus pointing in his direction. His stomach leapt, and he felt as though his heart stopped beating as a sudden terror filled him. If they couldn't get the information they wanted from Angel, what would they do to him instead?
"Over here." Marcus beckoned, pushing the kitchen door open again. "Tend to your vampire."
Andrew looked suspiciously from Marcus to Bella. They were allowing him to check on Angel? He couldn't help wondering why. Surely they wanted him injured... or worse.
Despite his wariness, Andrew stood and entered the kitchen, side-stepping past Marcus who shook his head.
On seeing Angel, Andrew felt some degree of relief. He was sitting at the table with his head rested on his arms, but Andrew could see he was making small movements. He crossed to the table and rested a hand on the vampire's arm.
Relief grew as Angel turned his head to the side and gave Andrew a forced smile and a small nod. Andrew nodded back and turned to Marcus who was still standing in the open doorway.
"I need to get him some... he needs to drink. Can I?"
Marcus waved a hand as a dismissive sign of permission granted, and Andrew set about warming a mug of fresh blood for Angel. As he waited for the microwave to finish, he realised that his day's delivery would be due in a few hours. He pushed aside fears about how that would go down, choosing instead to concentrate on helping his injured friend to drink.
Angel drained the mug greedily, and a hint of colour returned to his pallid face. He took a long, unneeded breath and licked his lips before looking up at Andrew.
At Angel's hushed question, Andrew instinctively shot round to see where their captors were. He wasn't sure if Marcus had heard, but he hoped to God that Bella hadn't. It had been some hours since the mind barrier had been put in place, and he really wasn't certain how long it was supposed to last. He couldn't risk answering Angel's question without Bella finding out, and even if he did manage to, Angel's knowledge could be a danger to himself. Plausible deniability seemed like the best option for the vampire right now.
Marcus, however, was still standing in the doorway, watching the half-witch who appeared to be pacing the living area, mumbling to herself.
Andrew pulled a chair next to Angel and sat down.
"It's best you don't know." he whispered, leaning in and giving the vampire's arm what he hoped was a reassuring squeeze. "Just hang in there."
Angel's eyes lifted to meet his, and in them, the blond could see a combination of sheer exhaustion and gratitude. Andrew frowned and chewed on his bottom lip as he debated his next question and stood up again. He approached Marcus, determined to look unafraid and confident.
"He needs to rest." Andrew's voice was firm and unwavering. "Please let me put him on the sofa or something."
He refused to beg. He refused to show just how utterly terrified he was, both for himself and for Angel. He wouldn't give them the satisfaction of knowing just how close he was to breaking.
Bella swept across the room, gliding effortlessly to stand in front of the two men. She peered over Andrew's shoulder to observe Angel's condition.
"Move him." Her voice was cold and commanding, and she had no sooner spoke when Andrew turned and rushed back to the kitchen table.
"Don't do anything stupid." Marcus shouted through behind him, waving his gun in the air again as some sort of preventative threat against the pair. "I'm watching you."
Andrew wrapped an arm around Angel's torso and carefully lifted him into a standing position. Bella said something to Marcus and, in that moment, Andrew noticed that neither person was looking in their direction. Without taking his attention off the two in the doorway, he scanned the kitchen behind him, spotting a small sheathed knife. Why it hadn't been put back into the drawer, Andrew had no idea, but he silently prayed and thanked everyone and anyone listening as he slid it into his pocket and resumed lifting the dead weight of the listless vampire.
Angel roused slightly as Andrew led him across the kitchen and through the doorway, into the living area. He slowly and carefully lowered him onto the nearest sofa, mindful of the cellphone which was still slipped down behind a cushion. As the vampire slumped down, Andrew flicked at the phone, closing it. He could only hope that he'd done enough to alert whoever answered although he couldn't help wondering what help anyone else could be right now.
Marcus and Bella were still huddled near the kitchen doorway, deep in some sort of discussion. Marcus didn't look happy, and he was beginning to raise his voice.
"Really?" He sounded irritated. "There's nothing? Nothing at all?" Andrew watched Bella throw Angel a brief glance before shaking her head and saying something which Andrew couldn't make out. Marcus clearly wasn't pleased with the response, and he threw his hands in the air.
"Why the HELL did I bother bringing you then?" He was waving the gun randomly now, and Andrew could only hope that, for his sake and Angel's, that the safety was on. As Marcus' face reddened, he was even beginning to feel some sympathy for Bella. "We might as well get rid of these two now then? I mean, what's the fucking POINT?"
Andrew straightened at the outright threat to himself and Angel. Bella grabbed hold of Marcus' arm and seemed to be attempting to calm the man, both with words that Andrew could not hear and, he suspected, with magic. Marcus pulled himself from Bella's grasp, but stood firmly, neither approaching or looking at Andrew or Angel. The pair's voices became hushed again, and Andrew felt relief wash over him, followed by the feeling that this moment of calm was only temporary.
Without taking his eyes off his captors, he rearranged himself on the sofa next to Angel, disguising his movements as he cautiously pulled the small knife from his pocket. He needed to be prepared for the next time Marcus approached.
He didn't need to wait long. A short moment later, both Bella and Marcus turned and pinned Andrew with a hard stare. After the briefest of glances between themselves again, Marcus nodded towards Angel and Bella approached him with her usual swift elegance, as Marcus made a beeline for Andrew's end of the sofa.
Andrew may have been outnumbered and out-powered, but he was damned if he was going to go down without a fight.