See disclaimer in part one of the series.

"Soul Survivor"
by suricata

"Anybody home?"

Methos wandered around the lobby, hands in his jean pockets, to all appearances the picture of nonchalance. But his mind was racing -- where the hell was everyone? A month had gone by since his 'rescue' from a vampire attack by Cordelia Chase, and the secret of his immortality shared with the equally-unusual members of Angel Investigations. And in that time he had learned that the one rarely-broken rule of A.I. -- other than 'pull the shades in the morning before the boss shows up'-- was that someone was always at the main desk. If Cordelia wasn't available, Wesley was there. If Wesley was unavailable, Angel was on-call. But the main area was deserted.

Curious, he checked the answering machine. The light blinked twice, paused, blinked twice again. He felt a moment's curiosity about the contents of those messages, then shrugged it off. He was oddly found of these do-gooders, but he had no desire to join them. Bad enough McLeod tried to be his conscience... No, what kept him here was purely selfish pleasures. Between Angel's age, and Wesley's unstoppable need to know anything even remotely arcane, they had a collection of books that was more addictive than cocaine to the Immortal. He suspected at times that, given the choice between his sword and a particularly good book, one day he was going to choose the book. "Adam Pierson" was going to get Methos killed, there was no way around it.

But being Adam had its benefits as well.

Like Cordelia Chase.

Her combination of bluntness and caring had appealed to him from the first, and the fact that her complicated personality was housed in such a knockout package was a decided plus. But the fear he'd felt the first time he saw her felled by a vision had taken him completely by surprise.

That should have been his first warning to get the hell out of Dodge.

Methos shrugged, hoisting himself onto the check-in counter and reaching for the newspaper folded to one side. It wouldn't be the first time a pretty girl had sidetracked him. And, truth was, he had come to town looking for something to distract him from the past few years. Distractions he had now, in spades. The library, Cordelia, and the mystery that was the vampire Angel, also known as Angelus.

Cordelia had insisted that the two of them, in her words, 'pow-wow the old guy thing." She seemed to think that he could do something about Angel's apparently perpetual brood. Angel, however, seemed to regard talking as a less than acceptable pastime, especially when it was about himself. Unlike, say, a Highlander acquaintance of Methos' who also had the slight tendency to brood...

"There you are," Methos said. "You've got messages," and he jerked a thumb in the direction of the answering machine.

"I know," Angel said. "It was just David. I was screening calls, trying to get some reading done." If the vampire was put off by the fact that he hadn't been able to stealth up on the Immortal, his body language didn't betray it.

Another reason to like the vampire. Not only did he read, and read voraciously, but he read interesting things. At any other time, Methos would have followed that avenue of conversation, but he had another purpose today. And the sooner it was dealt with, the sooner he could get Cordelia off his case.

Angel looked much the same as ever. Immortals might not age, but they did show the effects of their lives; hangovers, exhaustion, dissipation... The undead, apparently, had different rules. He could see where that could get annoying, after a few centuries.

"Cordelia's at an audition," Angel told him.

"I know." She had left a message for him on Richie's machine -- the young Immortal, thankfully, was indeed out of town on an extended road trip -- reminding him of their dinner plans. "I'm here to talk to you."

Angel almost visibly blanched. "I don't think -"

"Right." Methos grabbed Angel by the scruff of his neck, leading him to the kitchen area. Angel, possibly caught by surprise -- he hadn't been manhandled like that since he was twelve -- let him.

"I know for a fact that you have decent beer in here. Wesley's a pain in the ass, but he has his priorities -- ah-hah." Adam pulled two beers out from the fridge, looked at one, then shrugged and added a container of fresh blood to his stash.

"Adam, what are you -"

"We, youngster, are going to have a nice little talk."

"About what?" Angel asked warily, ignoring the 'youngster' crack. For the moment.. Adam sat at the table, put his feet up, and opened the first beer. For an instant, it was as though Doyle sat across from Angel, watching him, ready to make a wisecrack or utter some moronic homily he made up on the spot. Then the moment faded, and it was only Adam's ancient eyes looking out of an absurdly young face. Not for the first time, Angel wondered how old the Immortal actually was. Older than he was, that much they know, but nothing more.

"Growing up," the Immortal said flatly.

Angel took a sip of his blood, and seated himself across the table. Over the centuries he had finally learned to have some respect for his elders. And if Adam proved to be too annoying, he could just kill him, and escape before the Immortal woke up.

Adam sat there. And Angel sat there. And the only noise was the hum of the sub-zero refrigerator, punctuated occasionally by the sound of one or the other of them taking a sip. This was the kind of talking Angel could support enthusiastically.

"What do you want, Angel?" Adam asked finally. "When you look down the road a couple decades, maybe a century, assuming you manage not to get yourself staked; what do you want?"

Angel blinked, slightly taken aback by the question. "To walk in the sun. To live again."

"Fine. Good to have goals. Anything more in line with reality?"

Angel thought about explaining the Shanshu prophesy to Adam, then shrugged. Too much effort. "Sometimes, I think dying wouldn't be so bad. An end, at last..."

The Immortal snorted in disgust. "You're a sick fuck, you know that? Dying sucks. You didn't learn anything the first time around? Trust me I've died a lot, and I haven't enjoyed any of it. And if you're looking for some supernatural woo-woo revelation afterward -- it's pretty much all worms and decay, far as I've ever seen."

The age of his eyes was in his voice now. The wry, civilized scholar was gone, and in his place a warrior stood before Angel, blood on his hands and stained deep into the shadows of his soul. "I'm old, Angel. Centuries barely register any more in the scheme of things. And I know what it means to have...things you'd like to forget you did. Years and decades you'd like to erase completely. But it doesn't work that way.

"No, shut up and listen," he said when Angel opened his mouth to interrupt him. "I don't preach often, but I'm on a roll now. Angelus. Scourge of Europe. I know. Tortured, maimed and drank your way through Europe, didn't you? And now you want to atone." Adam finished off his first beer and opened the second with a brutal twist.

"News flash. There is no karmic balance sheet. The voices, the faces, they fade. Eventually. Your brain can only handle so much before it decides on selective amnesia. And, if you're serious about this Boy Scout merit badge thing, eventually you'll have new faces and voices living ones to remember and then forget instead.

"But the dead are still dead. And once they're gone, they're gone. There's nothing you can ever do that will bring them back. All the regret in the world will never change that. So here's my advice: deal. Move on." The faintest suggestion of humor glinted again in his eyes. "Fight another day."

He finished his second beer with inhuman speed, put the empty down on the table, and stood up. "But don't expect it to ever go away."

"The guilt?" Angel asked, now looking down into his own glass, as though it held answers, or an escape. If he had looked up he would have seen an expression on Adam's face that reflected one Cordelia and Wesley saw all too often on his own: pain. Regret. And a strange, shameful wistfulness.

"Don't kid yourself. The joy. The glory of devastation. The power that comes from pain. And how you reveled in it." Adam's voice was a cold thing, edged like forged steel. "That never goes away."

By the time Angel could bring himself to look up, attempt to deny the charge, Adam was gone.


"So. You guys have a nice talk?"

"Not really, no. Your boss doesn't want reassurances, Corry." His slant on her nickname made her smile. It sounded softer, more affectionate that the harder-edged 'Cordy.' "He wants ...whatever he wants, I can't give him. I've lived this long by letting go, not hanging on. Angel wants to wallow, and it's going to get him killed. Which I think is what he wants." The words were too familiar, and so was the situation. But at least Duncan had the basic animal urges to get him out of a funk. A week with Amanda, and he'd forget his latest brood.

Angel, on the other hand... maybe it would be kinder to stake the bastard.

They were in a little Italian restaurant where the pasta was garlicky, the wine was cheap, and the décor overdone. But the soft blues coming from the combo in the corner cast it all into a romantic glow. Methos contemplated the glass of wine in his hands, noting the flickers of color in it as though he'd never seen anything like it before. God, he had sunk low, to be drinking this.... He waited for Cordelia's inevitable reaction to his over-developed instinct for self-preservation, what Duncan had always called selfishness. Methos had brushed off the Highlander's comments before as the ravings of a do-gooder who couldn't help himself. He wondered why, suddenly, unexpectedly, it mattered what this slip of a girl thought.

He thought he might know the answer. He was selfish, not stupid.

"Adam's not your name, is it? I mean, originally?"

Corry was always direct, but sometimes that directness swerved oddly. "No, not originally."

"And?" Her voice dripped impatience. He thought about lying, then sighed internally. Thanks to Duncan and Joe, some days it seemed like half the world knew, anyway. "Methos."

"Methos." She tried it out on her tongue, then made a face. He had to agree. Adam was a much better name; that was why he'd chosen it. "You're, what? Way older than Angel, from what you've told me. Older than most vamps -- a couple thousand years old?"

"About that." He knew he shouldn't have told her about Caesar. Who knew she was a history buff? Although she'd probably picked it up in self-defense, working with Wesley...

"And you're going to live forever?"

"Until someone takes my head, which I'd prefer to put off as long as possible, yes." Silence. He risked a look up, and saw her sitting there, watching him.


He blinked, his usual comebacks to reactions about his identity and age disappearing completely from his brain.

"You get any stupid ideas about checking out first, and I'll... do something drastic," she told him seriously. "Don't think I won't. Enough people have left me. I want you around long after I'm gone."

And then, as though that settled everything, she took the glass out of his hand, drained the last few swigs, made a face, and hauled him off onto the dance floor. Putting his hands around her waist, feeling her body snuggle against his, Methos thought briefly of the suitcase only half-unpacked in Ritchie's guest bedroom, of the passport in a different name that had never been used. Then he sighed, shrugged, and gave in.

He was selfish, after all, not stupid.


Angel sat behind his desk, looking at the book lying open on the cleared surface.

"The glory of devastation. The power that comes from pain. And how you reveled in it. That never goes away."

He wanted to deny it. Had tried to tear it out of his body like a parasite, eradicate it like a cancer.

How you reveled in it.

Reveled. Past tense. Angelus had done all that.

That never goes away.

And Angelus was him. In every way that was inescapable.

Who had Adam Pierson been, to understand that?

What had he been?

Making a decision, Angel reached for the phone. Cordelia would understand. Or not.

"Wesley? Yes, I know what time it is. I'm sorry for waking you up. Tell Virginia I'm sorry too. But I need some research done. No, it can't wait until morning."

Cordy would forgive him. Eventually.