The characters abused herein belong to Joss the Creator, and all attendant and fiscally responsible corporations. No profit, no foul, no lawsuit. Please do not bend, fold, spindle or otherwise distribute this story. Spoilers for PASSION, oh yeah. Ripper's back, and man is payback a son-of-a-bitch.

by suricata

Angelus woke to find himself tied to a high-backed chair, ropes twined with silver across his chest, waist and thighs, and more binding his ankles. More ropes, presumably, bound his arms behind his back. Silver? A myth. He sneered, slipping into game face, and tried to break free.

But the ropes did not break.

He tried again, harder this time, and felt the determined resistance of spell casting, somehow tied into the hemp. The silver was the conduit, he realized. Silver and magic -- powerful stuff.

Not being a fool, he stopped struggling, preferring to save his strength. All he could remember was a fight with Spike in their new location, an abandoned motel out of town; a lazy backhand, then Spike leaning over him, having gotten out of the roller chair faster than a cripple should move, and...Spike! That weak-fanged, turncoat crippled bastard....

But the shadow that moved around him, coming out of the shadows to stand in front of him, wasn't his rival. It was the Watcher, his face set in grim lines, white shirt sleeves rolled up and collar open.

"Out of your customary tweed, I see," Angelus said. His tone was light, but were he still able to sweat, he would be doing so. He had underestimated the man once before, not anticipated the possibility of a frontal attack and almost been turned into a flaming shish-ka-bab.

But still, how seriously could you take a librarian?

The Watcher didn't respond to his comment, but instead circled him, looking carefully to ensure that the bonds still held.

"So, now that you've trussed me, what are you going to do?" Angelus sounded genuinely interested, the semi-scholarly tone he had used during so many of their friendly, Angel-era discussions sounding obscene in context. "Going to stake me?" he asked, referring to the long wooden pole, one end sharpened, that he could see lying on the table in front of him.

The Watcher came around again, stopping to lay one hand on the stake, caressing it absently. "It was a thought," he admitted, his voice soft, like he was still whispering in his damn library. "But only a passing one. What I have in mind is.. .much more...satisfying."

Angelus only then realized that they were alone in the room. "What, no Slayer with you? Where's Buffy? I would have thought she'd want to be in my final moments."

"This doesn't involve Buffy."

"No... this is personal, isn't it? I can deal with that. Admire it, even. A man should deal with his --" and here Angelus grinned -- "demons in a straightforward manner, don't you agree? Although I think it was in very poor taste for you to involve Spike in this. Lovely Dru's going to be most displeased with him, and she does so have a temper."

He had been fishing, looking for proof that his erstwhile ally had indeed been involved in this betrayal. But there was no confirmaiton, one way or the other. The Watcher simply stepped back and watched him, face blank. So Angelus stared back, looking for a point of attack. There was nothing there. No handle he could catch at, no exposed place for him to sink a barb into and tear out the weeping flesh. Only the eyes held a clue to what the mortal was thinking. Red-rimmed with exhaustion, shadowed with pain, they were the eyes of a man who has looked deep into the abyss, and found himself staring back.

"Let's get on with it, then," Angelus said finally. "I'm tired of this game. What are you going to do? Not stake me, no." He looked around the room, noticing the small skylight set in the roof above them. "Ah. Leave me out for the sunlight? A nice touch, and the anticipation is so enjoyable."

"You think that would be suffering?" the Watcher asked conversationally, his eyes lighting up with academic interest.

"Well, yes. It would hurt like hell," the demon snarled. He really was beginning to tire of this. How the hell had he ever put up with this man? What had his undearly-departed soul been doing, paying penace by allowing his patronizing little patter --

"You don't know anything about suffering."

Finally. A response. But the change in tone caught Angelus by surprise. He had been expecting an anguished response. Anger. Passion. Outrage. What he got was a cold, dispassionate commentary.

"Suffering isn't about pain. It's not about wanting, or needing. And it's not about --" he paused --"loss."

The Watcher reached behind him and picked up a small, flat object, about the size of his hand. "The one thing I have managed to learn about computers," he began, changing the subject as though they were at a cocktail party, "no, the one thing I have learned about =people= who use computers, is that they are quite careful about their data. They don't trust the blasted machines any more than I do, you see. Paranoid bunch, really, always assuming that the machine will eat' their files." He paused. "So they are rather obsessive about saving the important files elsewhere. Somewhere that, should the unthinkable happen, they will have a safe copy of whatever they were working on."

Angelus shrugged the best he could, bound. "And...?"

Instead of answering, the Watcher replaced the disk on the table, and picked up a small glass globe.

"Suffering... is about regrets, Angelus."

(Fast forward to morning)

The sun rose unnoticed, casting a cheery glow through the tiny skylight. The chair underneath it was empty, the ropes cut and hanging loose off the wooden frame. In a dark corner, legs pulled up and head bowed, a figure wept.

"revenge is a dish best served cold." -- suricata's second-favorite proverb