At first, there was nothing but pain.

All kinds of pain. Dull pain, sharp pain, burning agony and mind-numbing torment.

When the pain receded enough for a coherent thought to emerge amidst the debilitating misery, she understood that she was alive. Suffering had always been her personal barometer. You could hide inside your mind from anything but pain. There was no escaping it. It would follow you into the most intimate recesses of your soul and nail you down. Hunt you like some relentless, slobbering hound.

Next came breathing and with that, new peaks of agony. Her inner vision whitened and blurred, dragging her back into the forgiving arms of unconsciousness. Deliberately, she forced air into her lungs, battling away the darkness' treacherous invitation.

Slowly, she opened herself to another level of awareness. A rope coiled and tightened around her dazzled mind and her heart soared before her brain had even processed the significance of the pulsating throb pounding at the edge of her soul. The link which had been such an intricate part of her for over a century vibrated with energy, still humming from her most recent power expenditure.

He was alive. He was okay. She had never felt him so close to her core since the day she had bound his soul to hers.

When she regained her sense of touch, she became aware of a terrible weight pressing down on her ribcage, and she understood why breathing was so difficult - and excruciating. She lifted her right hand with great effort, searching through the unyielding darkness.

The back of her knuckles encountered some metallic and unbending mass.

Morghane remembered. The warehouse crashing down around them as she lost herself in the throws of her Second Rapture, her mind screaming at her not to surrender to the orgasmic bliss of the magick returning home within her. Yelling that there was still something that needed to be done before the glorious, wrenching joy took her over.

Her left hand ventured away from her body, looking for a corpse that wasn't there. Lisandra had been consumed by the energy of the spell in the first few seconds of the Rapture. Morghane's fingers met nothing but a loose leather strap trailing from her wrist.

She allowed her hand to fall back to the ground and closed her eyes. There was nothing to see, no light tearing away at the darkness, and it was easier to concentrate that way. She strained her senses outward. She couldn't hear a thing but for water trickling somewhere above her.

She wished Angel had to breathe.

She dragged her tongue across parched lips.

"A... Angel?"

Her voice was a mere whisper. It hurt to pull in the air necessary to form words. She cleared her throat noisily and tried again, louder this time.


Silence screamed back at her.

This wasn't getting her anywhere. He was nearby, she could tell. He was either unconscious, or too hurt to talk.

Retreating inside her self to find her center, she took hold of the magick, wrapping her mind around the power. The trick was not to try and bend it to her will. She had to coax it, stroke it, seduce it into lending itself to her needs. The technique came easily to her, as she delighted in the intimacy between her soul and the magick. It was like making love to a well of pure, cool water. Her skin tingled and her nipples tightened - her body celebrating the homecoming of a long-lost friend.

Seconds ticked by.

She frowned.

Casting didn't use to take that much concentration. The power spiraled and twisted under her mental fingers, shying away from her touch like a fearful, coy, abused animal.

She sighed.

She was too badly hurt, and too weak. Her body too seriously damaged. The magick needed to heal her before lending itself to casting. If she pushed it, she would only succeed in tiring herself more. She was conscious only because the power sustained her.

Looked like it would take a little while until the magick embraced her soul without reticence again - until her body nestled back into the power's warm, tender embrace. Just like the first time her mind and soul had joined with the ethereal community.

Her heart shrunk away from those memories.

Morghane was not one to hide from her own past. One could not come to accept their true nature if they refused to learn from experience. But even the Guardian had a breaking point, and she couldn't spare any time to reminisce over her old mistakes.

Opting out of trying to tame the Guardian magick for fear of hurrying the process with disastrous consequences, she decided to cast a simple spell, calling onto the forces of the middle plane. That required no concentration at all. Wielding earth magicks was a walk in the park compared to the mind-absorbing task of controlling the wild powers generated by the ethereal community.

She uttered a few words in her mother-tongue and a baseball-sized globe materialized a few feet above her.

She squinted and took stock of her surroundings.

It looked like she was underground. Breathing through her nose rather than pant superficially through her mouth, she gagged.

< Sewers. >

This was good. The light of day couldn't find Angel here.

Morghane attempted to raise her shoulders off the damp, cold ground, then fell back down with a grunt. Shiny black dots swamped her vision and her heart rose to her lips. A rib had punctured something. Several ribs had punctured several somethings, if the pain was any indication to go by.

She waited a minute. When her sight cleared and the universe stopped gyrating madly, she turned her head to the right and peered through the dancing shadows.

He was lying a few paces away from her. His face was turned towards her and his eyes were closed. He even seemed peaceful. If it wasn't for the blood and bruises, he would never have looked more worthy of his name than bathed in the golden halo of the globe.

He had fallen clear of the various debris piled around them, yet he was still unconscious. From her position, she couldn't tell how badly he had been injured by their fall through the floor of the warehouse. She had no idea how long they had been out either.

She needed to get to him. She needed to free herself from the large steel beam crushing her body against the cold, wet ground beneath her back.

Taking a deep breath, she focused her mind on the huge piece of metal, willing it to move. She hoped that telekinesis would come painlessly to her, since the Guardian magick danced away from her grasp like a skittish lover.

She felt the beam shake and groan ominously. She ignored the ripping pain in her stomach, concentrating on the tricky exercise of winding her mind around matter and manipulating it to do her bidding.

The beam lifted in the air, as she strained and panted under it. With a final burst of determination, she threw it away from her and it fell down by the side with a thunderous crack.

Angel didn't even twitch.

Driven by worry for her friend, Morghane didn't pause to recover. She turned on her side, not even trying to smother the cry of agony that small movement elicited. There was no one around to hear it. Her vision faded again and she had to bite down viciously on her tongue to keep her hold on reality.

Huffing, she dragged herself forward, her fingers clawing at the stinky mud. She pushed on her elbows, and she shivered as fetid dampness penetrated the inadequate protection of Angel's duster.

It seemed to take forever, but she managed to reach his side.

She gasped.

No wonder he was still out.

Now that she was closer, she could see the steel pipe protruding from the left side of his belly. He was pined to the ground like a butterfly under the microscope of some perverted entomologist.

Morghane raised herself to her knees, chewing down softly on her lower lip. She bent over him to better inspect the damage. The pipe was imbedded in the dirt under him, but looked like it would give easily enough. There wasn't any blood pooling around the exit wound though, and that worried her most of all.

Angel was starving. The blood he had taken from Spike during their love-making hadn't been enough to replenish his waning strength. What little reserves of the sustaining fluid remained in his dead veins was stalling fast, seriously impairing his healing ability.

She had to get them out of here. She just didn't think she was strong enough.

First things first. She had to get rid of the pipe. He couldn't heal around it.

Morghane straddled Angel's hips, settling herself down on his long thighs. Careful, she wrapped her small hands around the metallic cylinder.

Angel still did not move.

Frowning, she allowed air into her tired lungs.

And pulled.

His cry startled her and he bucked wildly upwards, dislodging her.

She fell to the ground, the bloody pipe firmly clasped in her grip. Throwing it aside, she once again raised herself sluggishly to a kneeling position and appraised the results of her actions.

The injury was the size of a dollar coin. Some dark blood trickled down his stomach, but that was all. She waited for a little while. The gap didn't look like it was going to close by itself. She pushed herself up closer to Angel's face.

His eyebrows were drawn tightly in pain, and sweat pearled above his upper lip. He was pale as a ghost. His mouth was open, and rasping, wrenched moans escaped him in short succession.

Unthinking but for the fact that she needed to comfort him and drive the agony away, Morghane managed to raise his shoulders off the ground. Gentle, she cradled his head in her lap, with careless disregard for her own injuries. Slowly she bowed over him, impelled by her compulsion to keep him safe. And sheltered.

He whimpered a little and burrowed closer to her chest, his instincts driving him to seek out her warmth and her heartbeat. Idly, he wrapped one arm around her middle, pining her to him.

He raised his head, slow - hesitant.


She felt him change against the bare skin of her abdomen.

Eyes closed, he opened his mouth and went straight for her blood-covered breast. Eerily, his fangs found Lisandra's still bleeding bite-mark and sunk into the soft flesh.

Startled, Morghane collapsed back to the ground with a tiny cry of pain and surprise, and Angel fell on top of her.

His tongue wrapped around her nipple as his teeth sharply parted her skin.

She grabbed his hair, torn between pushing him away and pulling him closer.

In the end, she just closed her eyes.

And let Angel drain her.