disclaimer in part 1

I was on the outside when you said,
You said you needed me.
I was looking at myself, I was blind
I could not see.

If you walkaway, walkaway
I walkaway, walkaway-I will follow

I Will Follow

Three Doors
by: Rebecca Carefoot

Part Nine

Buffy strode along the edge of the sidewalk, Angel trailing slightly behind. She took long steps, her face set along hard lines. She frowned suddenly. Angel quickened his feet, attempting to catch up to her and not quite able to, his usually long stride hampered by the stiffness of his muscles. He wondered what she was thinking, about Willy, about Faith, about Angelus. He echoed her frown, feeling as if a door had been slammed in his face when he realized he had no idea. He struggled harder to catch up, squinting into the brightness of the day, pointedly ignoring his protesting legs and overtaxed lungs and heart. His steps stayed just slightly behind hers, and he felt a wave of frustration overtake him.

She slowed when they were a block away from Willy's, her steps falling more lightly. He walked beside her, his head cocked slightly to the side as if he knew she would break the silence.

"Let me do the talking," she said as they drew closer.

"You were always better at it," he agreed. Her lips stretched slightly into a smile. He squared his shoulders and followed her into the dim lighting of the bar. Because it was the middle of the day, the bar was occupied only by a pair of unconscious patrons asleep with their heads on a table. They looked human, but knowing Willy's they were probably vampire. Either way, Buffy didn't give them a second glance. She headed unwavering for the storeroom and opened the door with a splintering kick. Angel winced as it banged open with an explosive crack against the wall, waking the sleepers behind them. Buffy stopped it from swinging shut again with her foot and entered the room, her sweeping gaze landing on a huddled figure lying next to an abandoned case of drinks. Her face twisted briefly with fear, then returned to the emotionless mask she'd worn since leaving the mansion. She hurried to Willy's side and rolled him over, noting the rise and fall of his chest with relief.

"He's alive," she said. Angel knelt on Willy's other side, and watched her lightly tap her hand against the man's cheeks. Willy remained unconscious, blood trickling slightly from the corner of his mouth. Buffy looked at Angel, and he shrugged his shoulders. She jerked her head from right to left, searching for help, and grabbed a bottle from the case next to her. She poured some of the liquor onto Willy's face and his eyes popped open. He blinked and sputtered.

"Slayer," he said as he oriented himself. He tried to sit up, but dropped back, reminded by the pain in his abdomen of how he'd ended up on the storeroom floor in the first place.

"Do you want me to call an ambulance?" Buffy said.

"I've survived worse," he said, his voice strained, horse. "Barely. Just try to help me up here." Angel took one of his arms as Buffy took the other, and the two of them heaved the bartender up onto his feet. Willy looked to his right, seeing Angel for the first time and a tremor ran through his body. Angel's brow wrinkled as Willy pulled away from his touch, stumbling into Buffy. He was sweating and shaking, fear locking his muscles in place. Angel looked at Buffy, questioning. She shook her head.

"What's going on, Willy?" she said. "Who did this to you?" Willy's eyes darted helplessly to Angel, then away, then back again as if looking for some hint the other man wasn't giving. He sagged slightly in Buffy's grasp, and she tightened her grip to keep him on his feet.

"I-I don't know," he stuttered, his eyes jerking nervously to Angel again.

"It was Angelus," she said. Willy looked at Angel, not answering. Buffy's fists curled as she resisted the urge to shake the man as hard as she could. Hurting him wasn't necessary, yet. "What did he want?"

Willy whimpered, unable to take his eyes from Angel, sweat trickling slowly down the side of his face. "I can't say," he muttered. "I can't say nothing."

"Tell her," Angel said. 'I'm not going to hurt you." The bartender continued to shake, doubt darkening his eyes. Angel reached a gentle hand to wipe away the blood at the corner of Willy's mouth. "I'm not the one who did this to you." Willy shook his head slightly, sagging against Buffy again.

"Damn it," she said, impatience creeping into her voice. She pushed him into Angel's hands and crossed her arms over her chest. "We don't have time to deal with this." Angel grabbed Willy and helped him balance.

"I don't want to say nothing wrong," he muttered again. He looked up at Angel. "Just tell me what to say."

"Tell her what the person who did this to you wanted," Angel said carefully. Willy searched his face and saw no threat in his eyes, no hidden warning.

"He came in to find out where there's a nest close by," Willy said, his words tumbling fast from his mouth. "I told him about the one in the abandoned photoshop. It's down by the docks."

"And that's where he went?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know where he went, Slayer," Willy said. "He left here, that's all I know."

"If you're lying to me," Buffy said quietly, "I'll prove I can hurt you worse than Angelus can."

"Who said it was even Angelus that came by here?" Willy asked. Buffy snorted in disgust, and motioned for Angel to come with her. She left the storeroom, and Angel propped Willy up against the wall in a sitting position before following her.

"Angel," Willy said, belatedly adding, "-us." Angel stopped at the doorway. "I did good, right? I did what you wanted?" Angel looked back at the pitiful shape slumped against the wall.

"I'm telling you it wasn't me that did this to you," he said. "There's another-" He cut himself off, sighing at the incomprehension in Willy's eyes. Buffy was right; they didn't have time to explain. "You did right. I want you to tell Buffy everything you know. Anything you see me do or ask you, you tell her." Willy nodded, confusion and pain mingling in the tight set of his shoulders and the wrinkle of his brow. Angel nodded at him. "You did right."


Angelus lifted the sewer access door built into the floor of the abandoned photoshop darkroom. He pulled himself up through the opening, taking in the objects in the room, remnants of furniture and piles of bedding, as well as about fifteen vampires sprawled out on the piles of rags and pillows, and in the corner a dead body slowly beginning to rot. He snorted in distaste. He could never understand why vampires felt the need to live in squalor, like rats in a cage, nesting in their own filth and the scraps stolen from humans. They could take whatever they wanted, have anything, do anything, yet they hid and groveled in the dirt. Their stupidity annoyed him. He stood near the middle of the room, and kicked the vampire closest to him.

"Wake up!" he roared, his vampiric face sliding into place. He snarled as the vampires around him scrambled to their feet and formed a threatening circle around him.

"It's the Slayer's boyfriend," one of the vampires said, shaking his shaggy black hair from his eyes. He motioned slightly with his head, and a few of the vampires changed their positions slightly, their eyes flicking to him. Several of the others looked around the room nervously as if expecting to see Buffy's blonde head pop through the door at any moment.

"If the Slayer's here..." one of them started.

"She's not," Angelus growled. "If she were, I would rip her throat out."

"Right, we should believe her boy-toy is going to kill her?" a dark haired woman asked snidely. The man next to her hissed through bared fangs, and Angelus fought the urge to roll his eyes.

"Who is master here?" he asked, ignoring the comment.

"Why should we tell you anything?" a blond man asked. "You will be dead in two seconds. We'll send your dust to the Slayer as a birthday gift." He laughed and started toward Angelus, many of the other vampires stepping forward as well, muttering venomous words toward the Slayer. Angelus did not wait for him to finish making his move. Instead he threw himself forward, his fists impacting the other vampire's chest with enough force to send him flying backward with a sharp crack of bone.

"Don't make me ask again," Angelus said, his voice a menacing rumble. He faked a movement toward another of the vampires who surrounded him, and the man jerked back violently. Angelus laughed. Enraged, the black haired vampire nodded, and the others closed in on Angelus, attacking as a group. Angelus became a whirlwind of motion, shaking off the blows that landed against his torso and face. Inwardly he sighed. They were inexperienced, very young, which meant they were probably too stupid to be much help. But on the up side they would be easy to control. He grimaced as a fist grazed his temple. His own fists and feet seemed to be everywhere at once, leaving some of the vampires lying stunned outside the frenzy of battle, and others on the defensive. He pulled a stake from inside his jacket, and ignored a foot that smashed into his back, driving the stake into the heart of the black haired vampire he believed was the leader. The other vampires hesitated.

"You killed Samuel!" The black-haried woman exclaimed in shock.

"Will I have to kill any others?" Angel asked, adjusting his grip on the stake. The vampires around him exchanged glances, fear creeping into their eyes. All but two or three backed a step or two away, falling out of their fighting stances. Angelus turned his gaze on the black-haired woman and the two others who still seemed ready to fight. "You were his lover?" he said to the woman; it was not really a question. She nodded reluctantly. "Then you have a choice," he said coldly. "You can die with him, or you can follow me."

"Why would the Slayer's pet vampire want to control our gang?" one of the men asked. Angel lashed out casually with a fist, slamming it deep into the vampire's gut.

"Never call me that," he said. "The Slayer is nothing to me but a target."

"Look, just because you had a fight with your girlfriend..." the woman began. Angel slammed his fist into her face, sending her reeling back. She stumbled, snarling, licking blood from her split lip, hatred in her eyes.

"I am Angelus," he said, his voice a bare whispered hiss that sent chills up every spine.

"Shit," the blonde man said, understanding slowly dawning in his eyes. "My sire was one of Spike's boys. He told me about how you turned on the Slayer. But you've been all cozy with her..." Angelus gritted his teeth.

"I wasn't myself. I am now. Completely," he said. "I will not explain myself to you. I am your master now. That's all you need to know." A few of the vampires shifted uneasily. "I've killed one Slayer today. And I'm going to kill the other. I can kill you all as easily. Or you can help me kill the Slayer."

"Faith was on our side," the blonde vampire said.

"She was a Slayer, sooner or later she would have remembered that," Angelus answered.

"They mayor's going to be pissed," another added.

"I don't like all this ordering us around," one of the vampires began. Angelus grabbed him by the hair and jerked his head to the side. The vampire stood still, frozen.

"I can teach you, teach you things you've never dreamed of," Angelus said, sweeping his gaze over the ragtag group before him, their minds filled with nothing but today, nothing but their own petty desires. "If you do as I say, you will survive, and more...but no one will question me." He trailed his fingernail down the vampire he held's cheek, drawing blood. "NO ONE!" he screamed. A chorus of nods and vague assents rose from the throats of the other vampires.

"You," he said, tossing the vampire in his hands to the side as his attention turned to the dark haired woman.

"Janet," she said.

"We're leaving." He turned his gaze on the vampires in general. "All of us."

"But-" Janet started, then stopped abruptly, her lip twisting with anger as Angelus skewered her with a look. "Lead the way," she said, hostility underlying every syllable. Angelus turned on his heel and headed back toward the sewer access. After a moment of hesitation, and many exchanged looks, the rest of the vampires followed. Angelus smiled sardonically. They were idiots. He turned with easy grace as the vampire he'd marked charged at him, his teeth bared. Angel backhanded him, and the vampire reeled. He shook off the effects of the blow and attacked again. Angel blocked the other vampire's swinging fist with his arm, swept the man's feet from under him, and grabbed the sides of his head while he was off balance. With a quick twist, he broke the vampire's neck, then staked the body as it fell from his hands to the ground.

Without speaking he walked the rest of the way to the tunnel, knowing the other vampires would follow. That's what they were, followers. They were drawn to power because they were too stupid to lead themselves. They would hate him. Occasionally they would try to kill him. But in the end, they would obey him because they needed him or someone like him to tell them what to do. He lifted the sewer access door and dropped back down into the tunnels.

They wouldn't ask him where they where going, or why. They were too afraid to. That was as it should be. And Angel felt no need to explain. It was enough that he knew where and why. The why was obvious. Buffy would come to the photoshop. He hadn't killed Willy, which meant she would find out from him exactly where the nest was. It was one thing he respected in her, one thing they had in common, the capacity to torture, to get information from reluctant sources. And Willy was a snitch by nature. The only way to shut him up was to kill him. So why hadn't he? Easy enough. It was all part of the game. He would lead. She would follow. For her to play the part, he had to leave her a trail.

But not too clear a trail. He had no desire for her to barge in on him during the day and drag him out into the light. He had no desire to fight her except on his own terms. He wasn't throwing the match, leaving her hints and clues for the sake of letting her win. No, not at all. It was a matter of finesse. Just enough to keep her on the scent, not enough for her to reach him. Not until he decided it was time.

He splashed through a puddle of dripping sewer water. The best hiding place of course was the sewers. There were just too many of them for Buffy to search. But he had to admit he hated them, the smell, the damp, the slime. So he and his new playthings were headed elsewhere, an abandoned warehouse on the docks first, and once night fell they'd kill the owner of a lovely suburban house and fill the sudden vacancy. After all, the little witch wouldn't feel at home in the sewer, would she?


Buffy scuffed her boot against the dusty floor of the abandoned photo shop. Frustrated, she kicked apart a pile of bedding, her mouth a tight grimace. Her glance fell on the dead body sprawled in the corner, and she glared at it dully as if her mind were too tired to comprehend it. She stalked the length of the room, noting the sewer access door with narrowed eyes. He'd taken them to ground, and it'd take weeks, even months to find them in the tangle of underground tunnels. She'd have to hope they were headed elsewhere, an elsewhere she could track them to. She rubbed at her temples, and the headache that was beginning to pound behind her eyes. The longer she took to find him, the more bodies would pile up. The more Faith...

She lifted the sewer access door and dropped down into the tunnels. She walked a few feet in each direction, but there were no tracks in the shallow water. Shaking her head, she returned to the ladder and climbed back into the photoshop. She exited through the front door where Angel was waiting with his crossbow for her signal.

"He's gone," she said shortly. "Any ideas where?"

"He must have a new place in mind," Angel said with a shake of his head. "We've already been to the mansion and you burned Spike's warehouse. My old apartment is way too small." Buffy clenched her fists, and nodded.

"Maybe Giles or Willow will have some ideas," she said, motioning with her head for him to follow her. Angel shouldered the crossbow and fell in step behind her. "It's only a few hours to sunset now," she continued as they began to walk. "We should get everyone home, or locked in at Giles' for the night."

Angel nodded. "We'll find him,"

"I know," Buffy replied, her heels punishing the pavement beneath her. But would they find him soon enough, before he killed again? She clenched her fists, and pushed the thought away. They'd find him.