“Angel?” The small girl’s voice called out into the darkness, “You awake?”
Angel was wide awake in his bed. He was lying there not even attempting to sleep; there was too much on his mind. He waited almost a whole minute and when Fred was about to give up and head back upstairs he said “Come on in, Fred.”
She appeared at the bottom of the stair that led out of the room in her yellow PJs with little brown bears on them. In her arm was her best friend Teddy who slept with her every night. She didn’t wait for Angel to ask what was wrong since she knew he would wait patiently until she was ready to say. As she was walking to the bed she told him “I had a nightmare” as a little kid would say to their parents. Then she added “I didn’t want to bother you but Teddy had a nightmare too and he convinced me to come down.”
Angel smiled at the girl’s innocence. She was at his bedside now and he was sitting up. He rubbed under Teddy’s chin like a dog. “That’s okay Teddy, I wasn’t sleepy anyway.” He looked at Fred and smiled knowing that she would take comfort in knowing she hadn’t been a bother to him. “Why don’t I get you a drink and walk you back to bed?” He was speaking directly to the young girl in front of him now.
Fred simply nodded ever so slightly without looking Angel in the eye. “I hope you’re not getting me blood!” She joked. The vampire smiled and let a breath out of his nose as a small laugh.
He led her to the kitchen of the hotel and started to make some chocolate milk, Fred’s favorite. Her eyes followed him intensely, watching him take pleasure in making something for her. She loved watching the undead man whenever he wasn’t looking.
When he was done he grabbed the cup and handed it to Fred, “one chocolate milk for the young lady,” he said as an old malt shop owner might. She grabbed the beverage with the same arm that was holding onto Teddy, her right one.
“Thank you, Angel,” she said looking into the cup before taking a sip. She sipped gingerly, savoring the flavor. She loved it not only because Angel somehow always got the ratio of milk to syrup just right, but also because it was made by him.
They both started walking out of the kitchen side by side towards Fred’s room on the second floor. Fred’s left hand swung empty by her side and slowly Angel’s hand inched closer and finally slipped into hers. It was a sign of friendship more than anything, something to let her know she wasn’t alone.
“Do you want to talk about your nightmare?” His question startled her. He didn’t usually ask when this sort of thing happened, he usually waited. She merely shook her head before taking a drink. They were both silent the rest of the way to her room.
He tucked her in and made sure Teddy was comfortable as well. As Angel was leaving Fred suddenly said “it was about all of us.” This made Angel stop in his tracks. “Cordi, Gun, Wesley…” her voice trailed off, “you.” she said after a few seconds of hesitation. The vampire turned around to face the girl.
“Were we hurt?” was his only response.
“All of us were, but not you.” She could barely get the words out, her eyes were fixed on the blanket in front of her looking a million miles away. She was afraid of hurting Angel’s feelings. “You were the one hurting us.” She finished in a smaller voice than usual.
Angel sat down on the bed and gently laid his hand on top of Fred’s. “Look, I’m a vampire. But I would never hurt any of you guys.” He said, looking into Fred’s eyes. She was just a small puppy compared to the Rottweiler in front of her.
“But couldn’t the vampire side of you come out without you wanting it to? What if pigs’ blood isn’t enough after a while? What if-”
“It’ll be enough. I’m not hurting anyone.” He interjected.
“Angel, everyone has a darkside. Some people feel a need to steal. Others feel a need to destroy things. Yours just happens to need blood.” Fred could feel her heart beating out of her chest. “A dark side is like a forest. If you let it burn in a controlled environment then it can’t burn out of control.” She had to keep herself from shaking because she was scared of what she was about to say. “Angel, I know you want blood. You crave it.”
Before Fred could say more Angel cut her off again, “Fred, I know what you’re going to say. I’m not going to go out and find someone who will be my evening snack whenever I get the urge.” Fred tried to speak but Angel kept going, “Like a booty call ‘hey, I’m thirsty, meet me at the hotel in five!’” His tone got softer, “ Fred, I get what you’re trying to say but I can’t just go out and find someone who will let me do that.”
The young girl couldn’t pick her eyes up off the floor. “Angel, I…” She took a deep breath, “I was going to say you could feed off of me.” There was a silence that fell over the room that lasted an eternity.
After the eternity between two and three seconds Angel broke the silence, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise… And I can’t.”
“Like I said, I will never hurt any of you.” He said sincerely.
“Angel, there’s only one way that you could ever hurt me: if you betrayed me. I know what you want and I can give it to you. A little pinch is nothing if it makes you happy. I’ve been thinking this over for a while now, Angel. I know this is what you want and what I want is to make you happy. So go ahead.”
Fred pulled down her night shirt and brushed back her hair revealing her neck. Angel couldn’t look Fred in the eyes. His thoughts raced Can I really bite her? How can she be okay with this? Could anyone really care about me in such a way to let me feed off of them? Buffy did but that was to save my life, this is completely different. Maybe just a taste…
Angel took tiny Fred into his arms for a hug. They stayed that way for a few seconds before his face changed and his teeth sunk into Fred’s smooth flesh. She drew in a sharp breath from the sudden penetration and let out a small “Ohhh…” The pain was slightly more than a pinch but Fred was never going to let angel know that. She forced her discomfort into a single tear that fell down her cheek and onto Angel.
He felt the small droplet on his shoulder and immediately stopped what he was doing and pulled away. Fred saw the face of what caused her tear but she wasn’t afraid of it, just as she hadn’t been afraid of him in the other world. Fred was the first to speak, “You didn’t have to stop. I was okay.”
Angel changed back. “I was hurting you. Like I said, I never want to hurt you.”
“You weren’t hurting me.”
“Okay, it hurt. But…”
“But I liked it… a lot.”
“A lot?” He repeated.
“A lot.” She assured.
Angel looked at the wound he had inflicted on her. It was still bleeding and he could feel himself wanting it more and more. “Keep going. Take it all if you want, Angel.”
Yet again Angel’s face changed and he bit back down in the exact same spot, sucking blood slowly out of the girl in his arms.
“Ah! Oh… Mhhh,” The small girl slowly melted into Angel. Her hands moved up and down her assailant’s back. “Angel…” She cooed.
The vampire slowly sucked his last mouthful of blood before stopping. He wasn’t about to make this girl pass out.
“You… don’t have to stop, Angel. It’s… It’s okay.” Fred said without any breath. “You can keep going.” Angel quickly got up without a word and grabbed a handful of tissues from the dresser. He held the soft fabric to her wound and applied pressure.
“Well, I am stopping. I’m not taking you out of commission for the sake of a snack.” Angel’s words made Fred smile her beautiful smile. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of him as he tended to her neck.
When he was finished he sat back down on the edge of the bed. “We have to wait a few days, at least, until we do that again. You need to make more blood.” He said sternly. “That is, well, if you want me to, you know, do it again.” He said, this time with much less courage.
“Of course I want you to. It makes you happy, and that makes me happy. And I really liked the feeling of it…” Her eyes flashed wide for a moment. “Please don’t tell anyone that…” She said, embarrassed of her new found love of being bitten.
He smiled “I won’t. I promise.”
Angel was about to get up to go to bed when Fred’s voice burst out of nowhere. “Angel, will you stay with me? Just for tonight.”
The Vampire slipped his hand into his victim’s. “Sure.” With that he got up and opened up the blankets enough for him to slid in next to her. They both closed their eyes and had the best sleep of their lives.