Dedication: John TFS, who complained that I was writing all angst; Vamp Baby, for her comments about Angel's wardrobe; Sarah W., who I first talked with about this idea; and the Watcher's Council.
"Er, eh," Giles said, cleaning his glasses with his pocket handkerchief, "perhaps you had best start from the beginning."
"Well, it all started when we were chasing that demon..."
I knew it was going to one of those days. Or, in my case, nights. I don't really get out most days, probably because of all that sunshine. Sorry, vampire humor.
There's a certain...*sense* that you get when evil is afoot. A heaviness in the air, a taste in your throat. Of course, the neon sign that someone had set up in my living room also added to my suspicions. After all, when someone hauls a twenty-foot sign that spells out "Evil Is Afoot" in glowing purple letters you just know that it's going to be one of those nights. Also, there were other portents. Whoever had been here hadn't been alone. There were milk cartons everywhere, and someone had written "Moooo" in blood on my wall. And whoever had done it was clearly a vampire, because they had used the finest quality bovine blood. It was enough to enrage even the most even-tempered vampire, not that we're the most restrained bunch under the best of circumstances, much like a wine connoisseur would react to returning home to find the finest vintages callously being shotgunned by a group of teens.
Now, some people might have ignored these signs and gone about their daily, er, *nightly* routine, but something big was coming. I could feel it in my undead bones, and I had to warn Buffy. I had some blood, inwardly regretting that it was only bagged human A positive, far different from the fine bovine anointing my wall, and showered. Sunnydale might be in danger, but that was no reason for me to look anything other than stunning. It was when I had toweled off and styled my hair and was looking for something to wear that I realized just how truly depraved and dangerous the individuals we were looking for were.
They had taken all of my leather. My jackets, my pants, my boots, my shoes, and even a pair of gloves that I had almost forgotten I had. Then they had had the audacity to leave me a tally of all the leather items I owned.
Once I had recovered from the shock and sworn vengeance, I still had to get dressed. I had never realized how much I depended on having at least a leather jacket to make my outfits look chic instead of completely morbid. To add to that, all of my footwear were gone, except for one pair of white sneakers that I had bought once as an act of penance for all the death and suffering I had caused. I'd worn them for a full week before I decided to draw the line at just how much penance I was willing to endure.
To my utter horror, I also realized that black pants don't go with white sneakers. After hunting around for a while, I came up with a pair of dark green sweatpants and a bright red 'Bite Me' tee-shirt. Since all of my jackets had also been abducted, I had to wear a beige windbreaker. This was clearly not going to be one of my better nights. Color coordination has never been my strong point, which was another reason that 9/10 of my wardrobe is black. No problems matching with clothes like that.
It was past dark by now, so I headed off to the library, praying desperately that Giles would be the only one there. Considering that he wore tweed half the time, he wasn't in the best position to make wardrobe comments.
I had suspected that The Powers That Be had it in for me previously to this, around the time that I was turned into a vampire, later cursed, then again when I met Xander, but until tonight I had never had tangible proof. Giles was there, but he was being kept company by Buffy, Xander, Faith, Willow, Oz, Cordelia, and that new Watcher of theirs. There was a very serious air in the room, that is, until they all saw me. It took them a full twenty minutes to stop laughing long enough to speak.
As soon as they could speak again, I learned that I wasn't the only one to be struck by those sadists. All had had items taken from them, words in blood written on their walls, and neon signs set up in their living rooms. I was beginning to sense a pattern, but I had to be certain. Dread was building into an almost tangible knot in my stomach, or it might've just been all that talk of blood making me hungry again, as I asked them what specific items had been taken from them.
The thieves had taken Oz's guitar case, one of Willow's jackets and one of her skirts, a jacket from Xander that he had never worn, half a dozen assorted skirts and jackets from Cordelia, some more skirts and jackets plus some boots from Buffy, more jackets and a pair of pants from Faith, another jacket from Giles that he hadn't worn since he was in his wild stage, and a pair of loafers from Wesley.
My mind was working quickly at this point, but there was some clue that I knew I had missed that I just couldn't seem to grasp. Wesley decided that it was probably a demon, possibly a dead one, and Buffy, Faith, and I went out to find it. In the cemetery, my night got even worse when Spike showed up.
He wasn't there to fight, though he seemed to take great amusement in my ensemble, since he had also been a victim of the thief. His beloved trench coat and his favorite boots had been taken, leaving him in a long red shirt and a pair of sneakers which detracted slightly from his Billy Idol image. Realizing just how dangerous this demon was, I knew that we would need all of the help we could get, even if it meant teaming up with Spike. For some reason, he and Faith seemed to get along pretty well, which disturbed Buffy to no end. Finding nothing in the cemetery, we went to the woods. Finding nothing there either, we were heading back to the library via a shortcut through some fields, ready to accept defeat.
I could smell the evil in the air. Pungent, heavy, smoky...wait, smoky? At the smell of a fire, I ran ahead of the group, and following the smell I eventually came to a barn. Hesitating only a moment, I went inside....and what I saw will undoubtedly haunt me until the end of my days. I've seen some truly depraved acts, committed quite a few myself, but nothing had ever come close to matching what I saw there.
There was a crowd of robed figures standing around a large fire, and they were throwing into it numerous articles of clothing. As I watched, too stunned to even move, they threw a leather jacket into the very center of the bonfire that I recognized as my own.
Having been roommates with Lagos when I spent my summer in Hell, I had thought that nothing could ever make me cry out in horror again. His total lack of bathroom cleanliness would have been enough to break those stronger than I, and his oral hygiene (or lack thereof) had made even Satan cringe. I had found excuses to stay out of the dorm as often as possible, going so far as to take up Tae Chi classes at Hell's Y.
I had seen much, but this sight was such that I couldn't help but scream (*not* a girlie scream) and race forward in a desperate attempt to save the ones I cared about. The leader of the demolition turned, and seemed to recognize me. Pushing back his hood, he revealed himself to be.....a cow! Now, since I'd been to a few parties during the 60's where this thing was pretty common, I wasn't all that shocked, but what did surprise me was what he said.
"Brethren," he mooed in a voice as smooth as milk, "there stands the one who has committed the most crimes against our people! I demand he punished in the name of SPOCC!"
"SPOCC?" I asked. No cow had ever made me run before, and I'd be damned yet again if one would start now.
"The Society for the Prevention Of Cruelty to Cows!" called out another robed figure.
"Angel the Vampire," intoned the first cow, "you have been found guilty of high crimes against bovines, and in the name of SPOCC I curse thee!"
Then there was a sudden flash, and everything went dark.
"And that's everything?" Giles asked the delicate heifer in front of him.
"Yes, that's everything." Angel the Vampire Cow responded, taking a long drink out of his trough of milk. Somehow his vampirism had translated itself into bovine terms, and now he would have to rise every night and drink the milk of the living.
"Do you have any idea where they might go next?"
"I remember the leader saying something about how the Gateway logo is an infringement."
"Oh, dear. We'd better warn Bill Gates."