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Phantasmagoria - Welcome to the Hellmouth : short story - Jo's Journal

About Phantasmagoria - Welcome to the Hellmouth : short story

Previous Entry Phantasmagoria - Welcome to the Hellmouth : short story Jul. 6th, 2008 @ 12:46 pm Next Entry
Hi everyone!

I've been away for such a long time, and missed so much of the stuff you've been up to.... Sorry... *Hangs head*. Forgive me?

Still, I wanted to give support to the new project dreamed up by Chrislee and Dark Star. So, here's my first offering for Phantasmagoria. I'm also going to try and link this to a post there. I may not succeed. Stop laughing at me - it's wicked to watch a grown girl cry! :~))

'Welcome to the Hellmouth' is a short story ( a very, very short story for me) of about 1600 words. It's for you, Chris and DS...



Author : Jo
Feedback : Pretty please. At LJ or to thelibrarian2003@yahoo.com
Rating : General

Summary : How does Angel feel about his welcome to the Hellmouth?


WELCOME TO THE HELLMOUTH

He wants to live. Everything wants to live, to evade for as long as possible that final individual extinction. No matter whether it believes in hell and retribution, as he does, or in complete cessation of being, as he might pray for, if he thought he would be heard, or whether it has insufficient brain power to understand any of these concepts, every creature under the sun strives to maximise its time among the living, to put off that inevitable day when it will be seized by the unknown. It’s an instinct engrained into every cell of every being, and it leads to dreams of eternal life.

He shakes the water from his hair and steps out of the shower. As he reaches for the towels, he understands that, in this at least, he’s no different to every living thing. Why else would he have survived all those years since the gypsies? Why else has he survived through that terrible century of desolation and remorse and hopelessness? All those sweat-soaked, tear-streaked, tooth-sharpening nightmares? He’s often been one for the grand gesture, but he still wants to live. In his blood and sinew and bone, he wants to live, even in his own obscene version of life.

He’s not sure he’s going to do that, now. Not now that he understands what’s happening at the Hellmouth.

He puts aside the used towels and walks to the armoire, relishing the silken slide of air on damp, naked skin. His basement room is cool, but he savours the chill of the sensation.

There isn’t much in the armoire, and it doesn’t take long to make his choice of what to wear, but by the time he does, he’s quite dry. As he sorts out his clothes, his mind circles back to life and death.

Whistler showed him the gateway to a whole new life, and something that used to be Angelus walked into it. Something that might become Angel had walked out the other side. They’d given him money, although not much, and they’d given him hope, although not much of that either, because with his record, how much hope could there be? It was better than he’d had before, though. And they’d given him her; they’d shown him something worth becoming someone for, something worth protecting.

What they hadn’t done was to tell him what he’d be protecting her from.

He’d assumed vampires, and he’s good with that. He’d guessed demons, and he’s good with that, too. He’s had a hundred years of those nightmares, remembrances of his blood lust, and he’s all too ready to try and earn a little untroubled sleep through vengeful action.

And he needs something to put into the cosmic balance against a hundred and fifty years of inventive murder and damnation. When they’d shown him this new life, they’d surely known that there can be nothing as implacable as a truly reformed sinner, and he’d discovered that his lethal urges and his lust for death could be sated almost as much by slaughtering his own kind as they had been by slaughtering humans.

All that is fine with him, as he cautiously picks his way into this new life.

One thing they had told him about was the Hellmouth. He knows that it’s been drawing vampires for years, but only now has the real influx begun. Something’s afoot. It’s been enough to panic Whistler and his Powers into recruiting help, and that little girl really, really needs all the help she can get. It’s a pity, then, that Whistler could find nothing better to offer her than him, a broken soul. And he’s a broken soul who might not be able to stand up to what’s out there.

Because now he knows.

He was given the key to his apartment, small and cheap, but better than he’s had in decades. He’d hunted out some minimal furniture and brought some of his own mementoes of a life not well lived. But, no sooner had he moved in than he’d found out who else was here, and realised that this was why he’d been offered his chance.

The evil here is his own heritage, and the Powers clearly expect him to help clean up the shit that’s part of the fabric of his being. It’s part of his blood. It’s probably not a fair initiation, but then nothing about life and death is fair.

He’s never had much truck with the rest of the family, not since that time at the beginning when being a vampire was still new and exciting. It was the night when the Master had scared him almost witless with the sight of that appalling batnose, and then had slapped him around, before watching him take Darla out of that place of hidden waiting, and up into the night. He hates the Master with a passion, and he’d welcome the death of that monster. But Darla...

At least Spike and Drusilla aren’t here. He’s not sure he could stake either of them. He’s damned sure, though, that he can’t stake Darla, so now he’s no idea at all what use he’s going to be to the newly-arrived Slayer.

He’s attuned to Darla in such a way that he can feel her moving around underground in the day time, and emerging after sunset from this new place of waiting. He never thought she’d forsake her life of stolen luxuries, and give herself back to the tunnels and sewers and crypts, but here she is. Over the few nights since he arrived, she’s proved that she’s still attuned to him. She knew that he was following silently in her wake as she hunted; she knew that he went down into the Master’s lair when he hoped they would all be lethargic or asleep; and she allowed a trap to be set for him. He doesn’t want to think that she set the trap herself. Only good fortune and a strong right fist got him away with his unwelcome but carefully hoarded life.

They all know he’s here now. They’ll be watching for him. If he goes too close to the Slayer, they’re likely to come after her even before they know what she is, for no better reason than his association with her.

There are some old and strong vampires in Sunnydale, not counting the currently-helpless Master, and they have some seriously dangerous plans. He thinks that Darla alone is too strong for a single girl, even a Slayer. Far from bringing Buffy help, he might have only brought her death. Nothing new there, then. Still, it means he’s had to change his plans, resolve to stay away from her as much as possible, even though he badly needs to be part of what she’s doing. To be near her.

He knows that she doesn’t want the job. She isn’t ready for it. He heard her today, in the Library. He’d been lurking way back in the stacks, behind the other eavesdropper, the boy called Xander. She’d been arguing with her Watcher, unwilling to accept what she was.

She’d said, “...First of all, I'm a Vampire Slayer. And secondly, I'm retired.”

The boy in the stacks had almost dropped the book he was holding, and then stood rigid, not comprehending what was happening but desperate to hear more. Angel, behind him, had shrunk deeper into the shadows, and remembered how he had watched the girl’s baptism of power in Los Angeles.

He remembers it now, as he buttons up his shirt. He thinks of her face, as he watched through her window; he remembers her inner loneliness. He has the same choice now that he had then. He can run, or he can stay. He’s not going to run, even though he knows what’s here.

He tries to stop the feelings that the memory has invoked, because they will make him weak, and he can’t afford that. It’s going to be hard enough as it is. He has to stay dispassionate, and he has to stay away from her, except for the few brief minutes of business when he has information that she must hear.

He shrugs into his jacket, and then he picks up the black velvet jeweller’s box that’s lying on his desk. Slowly, he opens it, and stares at the silver cross, gleaming malevolently against the silk lining. As though attracted by the promise of pain, his forefinger reaches out to it, but he pulls back before he touches it. She’ll need this, if she isn’t to be part of the Master’s Harvest.

He slips the box into his pocket. He’ll meet her for the first time tonight, and give her this. And then he’ll slip away. She’ll never know that he’s spied on her before, that he saw the moment of her nascence. When he finds her, he hopes she doesn’t stake him first and ask questions later, although he thinks he can get through that part safely. In and out, and nobody gets hurt, he tells himself. It’s the rest that he’s worried about.

As he lets himself out, he can feel Darla, stirring from the lair. And he can feel the pull of the Slayer, silvery sharp in the duller ache of the Hellmouth.

Like every other creature, he wants to live, and he has more reason than most to hope for a reprieve, for a longevity that might bring forgiveness. But the Slayer has brought him here, into the jaws of family, and he’s sure that she’ll be the death of him.



THE END
June 2008





Hope you enjoyed it.

Jo
Current Mood: curiouscurious
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From:lynnenne
Date:July 6th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
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All those sweat-soaked, tear-streaked, tooth-sharpening nightmares

Nice descriptive line, and I love the ending. So good to see you writing Buffyverse again, Jo! :)
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, Lynne! It's nice to get back. I'm really glad you liked it. :~)))
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From:brunettepet
Date:July 6th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
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I love the way this dovetails into canon, explaining why Angel was aloof and cryptic with Buffy. All Angel's plans, hoping to be in and out, and nobody gets hurt couldn't have been further from the truth. There's going to be a lot of hurt.

The way you bring this full circle with he wants to live was wonderful.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*! Yes, there's going to be a great deal of hurt... Glad you enjoyed it.
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From:laisserais
Date:July 6th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
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I loved this line: All those sweat-soaked, tear-streaked, tooth-sharpening nightmares? well said!

and the economy of phrasing on this line, while packing so much meaning in, delighted me: and something that used to be Angelus walked into it. Something that might become Angel had walked out the other side. It's so great to think about Angel on the cusp of becoming someone new in WTTH. i think we were meant to think of Angel as an already-established being upon his introduction, but with hindsight we know that that was absolutely not the case. He was becoming the Angel we came to know, right before our eyes. This line perfectly captured the essence of that - his rawness, his uncertainty.

It’s a pity, then, that Whistler could find nothing better to offer her than him, a broken soul. And again, one little line captures so much about where he was at the beginning of the series. nicely done! it's amazing, in retrospect, to remember just how un-heroic he was at the start.

Only good fortune and a strong right fist got him away with his unwelcome but carefully hoarded life. Again, I just loved the way this line was put together.

and thinking about how complicated Angel's relation to Buffy was in the beginning: intertwined hope for salvation and a need to be near her - not quite ready to be expressed as love - just makes me so nostalgic! I miss this show.

And i loved how the last line refocused all of his concerns through the lens of the past, and how he thinks he's judged the situation in a practical way. Well Done!



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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you* for a lovely critique - I'm so glad you liked it. And yes, don't we all miss the show, even though we griped about it!
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From:thismaz
Date:July 6th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
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What a beautiful evocation of loneliness and what a very nice job of fitting a context around Angel on that first night. Your language is poetic and vivid and Angel comes alive under your pen. Thank you. That was lovely.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you* so much. I'm very glad you enjoyed it.
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From:velvetwhip
Date:July 6th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
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JO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:::squees and clings:::

I am ever so ecstatic to see you! How are you, my dear?


Gabrielle
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Gabrielle! *Clings back*. I've been lost in the maze of real life, I'm afraid, and I'm currently sitting amidst a scene of desolation as the builders blitz their way through the house...

But I'm determined to catch up with friends!

And how are you?
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From:velvetwhip
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
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Oh my! That must be chaotic and rather tiresome.

I have truly missed you!

I forgot to say how lovely I thought this fic was, so caught up was I in my joy over your return!

As for me, I've been doing lots and lots and lots of writing...(and that's about it)


Gabrielle
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
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Chaotic and tiresome aren't the words! But at least the bathroom is finished, and I can now actually have a bath... :~)))

And *thank you* - I'm so glad you enjoyed the fic!

Lots and lots of writing, huh? Stuff for me to catch up with then! :~)))
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From:velvetwhip
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Oh my! This sounds like a real overhaul. You poor thing...just now getting your bath back!

I always enjoy your work. You have a real talent for shining light into the small spaces.

Oh my yes...Soulmates alone is now up to Chapter 47...


Gabrielle
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
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And in a week, I might have a bedroom, and then a lounge, and a kitchen... and... and... :~))))

*Thank you*, my dear - glad you liked it!

Chapter 47, huh? Well, let me get my latest story in the 'Nature' series off my computer, and I shall have to catch up!

Keep at it!

Jo
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From:makd
Date:July 6th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
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Excellent - as always.

ITA: he can sense Darla, and she him...

The last six words are a killer combination...
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*! :~))) Happy to have slayed you!
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From:scribesds
Date:July 6th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
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I loved this! I'd never really made the connection before, that they might have chosen Angel to make amends because it was his clan creating mayhem at the Hellmouth.

A broken soul… love that line.

Well done, you!
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*, DS! It just sort of came to me, as I wrote... Glad you liked it!
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From:chrisleeoctaves
Date:July 6th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
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First of all...I MISS you! (And am feeling totally neglected.)

But all is forgiven because you've written this beautifully in character Angel piece that hints at all the remorse and angst and guilt and longing and confusion that's to come.

Thank you.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
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*I miss you too*! And you are shamefully neglected! Mea very culpa!

But I'm so glad you liked the story!

*Hugs you*, and promises to do better!
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From:acacia5
Date:July 6th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
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That was excellent. I love how you explained so many cannon events, and the ending was perfect.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*. I love trying to iron out some of the wrinkles! Glad you enjoyed it.
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From:menomegirl
Date:July 7th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
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Very evocative and extremely well-written. I liked the entire thing but these lines stood out from the others:

In his blood and sinew and bone, he wants to live, even in his own obscene version of life.

I quite like that line, I think it speaks volumes about Angel's character.

He puts aside the used towels and walks to the armoire, relishing the silken slide of air on damp, naked skin.

Damn nice imagery.

Whistler showed him the gateway to a whole new life, and something that used to be Angelus walked into it. Something that might become Angel had walked out the other side.

I love this-especially the last part. Shows how much of a precipice he was standing on back then.

The evil here is his own heritage.

Wonderful addition to his POV! I must confess that in all this time, I'd not considered Angel's motivations from that angle before.

Slowly, he opens it, and stares at the silver cross, gleaming malevolently against the silk lining.

Interesting insight into how a vampire would view that object of faith. (Also, an erotic image of sorts, I thought.)

And he can feel the pull of the Slayer, silvery sharp in the duller ache of the Hellmouth.

That's good.

Also liked the last paragraph-it concludes the opening paragraph and shows two things-that he had more than one reason for showing up in Sunnydale.

Thanks for sharing!

edited for wrong icon usage. *facepalm*


Edited at 2008-07-07 12:40 am (UTC)
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you* for a lovely critique - I'm so glad you liked it! It's the first Buffyverse short story I've written since November's IWRY, and I really enjoyed doing it.

Wrong icon usage, huh? ;~))) All I can say is, I have mine with milk, no sugar... Shall I pour?
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From:resa53
Date:July 7th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
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Wonderful story as usual. Even after all this time away Angel's voice is spot on. I love how Angel can feel both Darla and Buffy ... the two most important women in his life.

Also, welcome back. I hope that now that you have a bathroom you can spend a little more time around here :). You've been sorely missed.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*! Glad you liked it...

Spend a little more time round here? Well, when the lounge, and the kitchen, and the bedrooms and the dining room are done, I hope so, too! Just now, the entire contents of the house seem to be stacked all over the floor, and we're out of decanting room. Sigh...

I've been missed? Awwww... *Hugs self*.

Does it help to know that I'm up to 60,000 words of the next story in the 'Nature' series? Nearly there now... :~)))
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From:resa53
Date:July 8th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
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"Does it help to know that I'm up to 60,000 words of the next story in the 'Nature' series? Nearly there now... :~)))"

woo hoo :) ... It certainlly does help :). Glad you've been putting your time to good use and not just renovating your house . Can't wait to get back to the adventures of Angelus et familia. (off to reread Duality ... again ... so I'm up to date)
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 10th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
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:~)))) I'd better get a wiggle on, then, instead of trekking round to buy carpets and curtains and such... And more paint. And light fittings. And... Well, the list is endless...

Writing would be so much easier.... I shall have a small orgy of writing this weekend, to soothe my furrowed brow. Or not, depending on how badly I'm treating Angelus et al...

*Smile*
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From:dal_118
Date:July 7th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
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YAY!..excellent for all the reasons listed above plus just the fact that you are still so damn very clever...
which is why i always love your stories..those wonderful descriptions, subtle twists and plausible explanations for what has happened .. that mind of yours... never stop writing..
hope your enjoying your bath...
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Hehehe! *Thank you*, my dear... Glad it gave you pleasure! I have one for next week, too...

Shall we post the Mansion commentaries? What do you think? The first one was just you and me...

And yes, bathtime is now a pleasure. If only the rest were finished...
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From:dal_118
Date:July 8th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
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oh my i had forgotten we had done all those commentaries.... hee hee
i shall have to go back and see what we wrote.. were we our clever and witty selves??
so you are still working on NOB? my heart be still
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 10th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Yes, sweetie, I'm well on with 'Hound'. I can hear your heart from here. Or Angelus can...

;~))

Hugs
Jo
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From:a2zmom
Date:July 7th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
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Wonderful to see a Buffyverse story from you.

I love that Angel fears that he'll be the death of Buffy and ends the story convinced she'll be the death of him. Little did he know that he was right on both counts.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*, my dear! I'm happy you enjoyed the read!

:~)))
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From:ares132006
Date:July 7th, 2008 09:02 am (UTC)
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Like every other creature, he wants to live, and he has more reason than most to hope for a reprieve, for a longevity that might bring forgiveness. But the Slayer has brought him here, into the jaws of family, and he’s sure that she’ll be the death of him.

A wonderful tale. Gosh I missed this (and you.)

I love your prose, how vivid your words are, bringing us such great imagery and a feeling of dread at the same time. Into the jaws of the family, and she'll be the death of him. *shiver*
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 7th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*, my dear! :~)))) We aim to please!

I made you shiver? *Huge grin*.
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From:ljgould
Date:July 8th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
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Wonderful, Jo. I love this look at Angel's thoughts and feelings about being on the Hellmouth and meeting his destiny with the Slayer.

Excellent as usual.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 10th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
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Hi LJ!

Glad you enjoyed it, my dear. How're you doing? Finished for the vacation?
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From:tinka023
Date:July 10th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
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Amazing! its good to read something new especially from you, you have a wonderfully unique view on things, and an exellent eye for detail, and fabulous descriptive words, i love it.
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From:librarian2003
Date:July 10th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
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*Thank you*, tinka! Glad you liked it. Unique, huh? *Blush*!

:~))))
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From:married_n_mich
Date:August 13th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
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Can you tell I'm getting caught up :o)

Thanks for reminding me how much I loved Buffy and Angel. This tapped right back into everything that we experienced while watching the show. They sure don't make 'em like this anymore do they?

Excellent job.
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From:librarian2003
Date:August 13th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
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:~))

I'm usually the one who's way behind and needing to catch up...

*Thank you* for the feeback here - I'm glad you enjoyed it! And no, they definitely don't make 'em like this anymore!
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