I Have an
Appointment With Eternity
By Saber ShadowKitten
He was bored.
Angel looked around at the various people, both human and non, and wondered for the hundredth time why he took the transporter down to R'aalthn. It wasn't as if he didn't have things to do. He could be fine-tuning his lessons, conning the commissary into ordering more books, or even, god forbid, grading tests. Instead, he was standing at what looked to be the outskirts of a bazaar in the underground city of R'aaluna.
With a fastidious eye, he began cataloging the various races moving like an undulating mass between the stalls. In this crowd, humans were far outnumbered. He still found the sheer number of 'alien' races amazing. Even after living in the stars for over hundreds of years, he was really still just a member of the Irish gentry from a time his students hated learning about.
Things changed so quickly, time seemed to move more rapidly the older he got. He remembered when he'd been amazed by automobiles. Now, he lived his immortal life on a starship, teaching the children of others about the past, lest they forget and make the same mistakes. He'd made many friends, seen many more die, taken lovers, broken hearts, and lived his souled-existence as best as he could.
Yet, he was alone. An anomaly. Sure, there were other vampires, but they tended to stay on the planets. It wasn't as if he had too much in common with them, anyway. He had a soul, they did not. He didn't feed from humans or the other palatable races, they did. He fought for good causes, they just liked violence and death.
Some days he really missed being a soulless vampire. It would be wonderful to be able not to feel again, as another friend died of old age and he stayed the same. But his soul was a permanent fixture in his long life, as it had been for close to a millennia, and, although it hurt, he wouldn't want it any other way.
Pushing his way into the throng of moving bodies, Angel decided to make the best of a boring situation and see if there was anything worth purchasing for his kids. He smiled to himself at the reference to his students as "his kids" and wondered if all teachers felt like he did towards his classes.
Winding his way closer to the edges of the bazaar, he allowed the strange ambiance of the street to seep into him. Dull greys, browns and rust-colored fabrics lined the various stalls. Voices shouted back and forth above the general din of the many people. Children ran screaming by, playing a game of tag or pickpocketing from unsuspecting shoppers. Vendors called to passerbyers, trying to sell their wares. The scents of incense, fruit, vegetables and fresh meat filled the air, along with the underlying aroma of body odor and the pungent smell of animal dung.
Angel stopped at a stall proffering well-worn books and scanned the titles. He could read, write and speak over one hundred languages, as could most of those who had been star-hoppers, like he once was before settling down with a "real job," as Rigby called his teaching position on the starship Luna Nocturne. Then again, Rigby had called nearly being jettisoned into space "fun."
A particular tome caught his eye, and he picked it up. He gently opened it and began skimming the pages, ignoring the seller, who had descended upon his interest like a vulture of the past. He'd been to many bazaars and he knew how to handle himself, as well as how to haggle the seller practically out of his shorts.
"It's a very good book, is it not?" the vendor said. "Mint condition. Only one of its kind, and I have it."
Angel continued to leaf through the green leather-covered book, turning his back slightly on the R'aalthnian, a fox-like, bipedal creature, with black, pointed ears and a black tail that stood straight up behind him. He tried not to roll his eyes as the vendor continued to babble on behind the table. The book was pretty rare and would make an excellent addition to his collection, but he'd never let that fact on.
After a few more minutes of ignoring the seller, Angel turned and pinned the R'aalthnian with his hard eyes. "Ten dradmas."
"Ten! What? Do you think I want to give my things away?" the vendor exclaimed. "I have a mothra to feed, chindas to clothe and put through their education...how about Fifty dradmas?"
"Fifteen," Angel countered.
"Thirty-eight, and that's my final offer."
"Twenty-five and I won't take my business across the street, where your pal is selling this 'rare' book for twenty," Angel said.
"Done," the vender agreed, holding out his hand. "Although, now I will not be able to send my little chind to that..."
Angel tuned the vendor out, as he passed the correct amount of dradmas to him. The colorful bills with the rendering of the current President Elect of the United Council of Planets were accepted quite readily in any system under the Council's domain. Those that weren't had their own forms of currency, and Angel had a lot of those kinds stashed away from his star-hopping days.
"...like they are about to start the bidding," the vendor was saying as Angel tuned back in. He frowned at the seller, then turned his head to where the R'aalthnian indicated. He was immediately appalled.
A platform was set up between two vendors, and two large thugs-for-hire stood on either end of it. A cage had been wheeled up to the side, filled with people of various races, in tattered clothing and shackles. A tall, slender R'aalthnian stood in the center of the platform, a pedestal with a wooden chest and a computerized clipboard on it, next to him.
Angel could feel the bile building in the back of his throat. A slave auction, he thought with disgust. Out of the many things he'd seen on all the worlds he'd been to, slavery was one of the things that he hated, because he couldn't do anything about it. Different worlds, different customs. The few times he'd had the money, he'd purchase a slave and set them free. Then he'd found out that many of the slaves wanted to stay that way, because that was all they ever knew. It was a horrible system that had yet to be overcome throughout the universe.
"Thanks," Angel said offhanded to the vendor, tucking the book into the bag he carried. The thick, leather strap was across his chest, with the bag resting at his hip, to prevent thieves from snatching it and running. It also helped ward off the pickpockets.
Heading towards the auctioneer, he mentally counted the amount of money he had left after the book purchase. Depending on the bidding, he quickly figured he might be able to free two of the slaves, maybe a husband and wife, or a parent and child.
By the time he was within hearing distance, the third slave had been auctioned off. A young R'aalthnian girl, with long, pointed ears and a brown, furry tail that curved up above her head. Angel winced at the sight of the R'aalthnian who purchased her, knowing what sort of 'work' she'd just been bought to do. He ground his teeth together and focused on the auctioneer. Save who he could, he reminded himself. Not who he couldn't.
"The next bid is for a humanoid," the auctioneer said, gesturing to a third guard Angel hadn't noticed in his earlier observations. The guard stuck a long-metal pole into the cage and the dark-haired vampire could barely hear the small sizzle of electricity as someone was shocked. "He is approximately two and three-fourths markreds high, has the strength of a Sweanda, but the temper of a Llwathwana."
The crowd around the platform chuckled at the auctioneer's reference to the notoriously short-tempered aliens. Angel found the strength reference interesting, considering he was pretty evenly matched when it came to fighting a Sweanda, a ape-like creature that lived on the forested planet of Sweaneg. Of course, that was back in his swash-buckling days. The Nutty Professor may have a harder time beating one, if push came to shove. Luckily, the Sweandai were a passive group, and he wasn't planning any trips to their planet any time in the near future.
"He has a peculiar appetite, but he makes a good worker, as long as he's kept on a tight leash." The auctioneer gestured to the guard, who opened the cage door. The others in the cage quickly backed away, leaving a single, stunned person slumped on the floor.
Angel snarled under his non-existent breath when a Teenque stepped in front of him, blocking his view. While he was no shorty at just over three markreds in height, the tree-like alien was over five markreds tall, making him seem like a midget. With a glare at the green-barked alien's back, he maneuvered himself so he could see the platform again.
"We'll start the bidding at Five dradmas," the auctioneer said. "Do I hear five dradmas?"
"I heard five dradmas, do I hear ten?"
"That's ten dradmas. Will anyone give me fifteen?"
Angel snapped out of his daze as the bidding flew around him. He needed to put his own bid in, and fast, before the ghost from his past disappeared again. He waited until he heard the next amount then doubled it. "Forty dradmas."
"Forty, I heard forty," the auctioneer announced. "Do I hear fifty?"
Angel growled. "Seventy!"
"Seventy dradmas!" the auctioneer bellowed. "Who will give me eighty?!"
"One hundred thirty-five dradmas," Angel stated, putting all his money on the line in hopes that no one would out-bid him.
"One hundred thirty-five," the auctioneer said. "Do I hear one hundred forty?" No one responded. "Will no one bid one hundred forty dradmas for what is obviously a fine, strong, young humanoid?" No response. "Then I pronounce this sale closed for one hundred thirty-five dradmas. Thank you, sir. Now, on to our next bid..."
Angel pushed his way somewhat violently through the crowd towards the edge of the platform, where another R'aalthnian was seated. He quickly read the transfer papers and signed his name, then gave the fox-like creature his money in exchange for the title of ownership. One of the guards who'd been stationed at the edge of the stage yanked the chained, still semi-stunned slave over to Angel and released him abruptly, causing him to fall unceremoniously to the ground at the dark-haired vampire's feet.
Angel tucked the papers away. "Unchain him," he snapped, glaring at the guard. When the guard looked at him skeptically, his face rippled to that of his demon before fading back into its handsome human planes. "Now."
"It's on your head if he runs," the guard said, shrugging. He bent and unlocked the wrist and ankle manacles, then pulled the heavy chains away. "Don't say none of us warned you."
Angel bent down and scooped his new slave into his arms, uncaring of the surprised looks he got from those around him. He quickly maneuvered his way through the throng of people to an out-of-the-way spot, then gently set his cargo down and hit the communicator on his wrist. "Two to transport," he instructed. Then he reached out and lightly ran his finger along a pale cheekbone of his precious new purchase.
Spike hurt. It sucked.
He knew better than to drink that last glass of R'aalthn Ginane. He also knew better than to cheat at Sa'ant when he was so pissed he thought he turned back into a human. Then again, he hadn't learned his lesson the hundred and twenty times before that night, so why should number one-twenty-one have been any different?
He was not looking forward to opening his eyes. The last thing he remembered was getting shocked by a hired thug he could take on with ease...when his hands and legs weren't manacled together. He knew he was about to be sold as a slave before everything became muddled. That in and of itself wasn't such a big deal, he'd been arrested and sold into slavery on worlds much harsher than R'aalthn, and each one he'd escaped from, leaving a sweet, bloody trail behind him and adding yet another bounty to his cute arse.
However, the first few days of captivity were the worst. He actually had to do whatever it was his new master wanted, until he could plan and execute his escape. Some of the things he'd done still made him shudder in disgust. Maybe he'd gotten lucky for once, and some nyphette had purchased him to entertain her and her friends in the bedroom. It wasn't too far-fetched of an idea, after all, he was still as sexy as he'd been over a millennia ago.
With thoughts of naked women, men and other species that he couldn't classify, but were damn arousing dancing in his brain, Spike concentrated on listening to his surroundings. He could pick out the subtle hum of electricity, which meant that whomever had bought him was pretty well-off, if he was still on R'aalthn. He could hear the whisper of footsteps on the floor as someone approached him. He felt whomever it was stop directly in front of him, put his/her/its hands on the armrests of the chair he was slumped in, and bend down for a closer look.
Spike decided to open his eyes. He screamed. "AAAAAHHHH!"
"Why is it that everyone screams when they first see you?"
Spike clamped his jaw shut at the sound of a voice behind him, but his eyes remained wide and focused on the dark-haired vampire he thought had died long ago. He could swear his heart was pounding in his chest, but whether it was from thinking the man was a ghost or from actual happiness, he wasn't too sure.
"Rigby, shut up," Angel said, looking down at Spike.
"Shutting up, sir," the voice, Rigby, said.
"Bloody fucking shit, Angel!" Spike exclaimed, snapping out of his amazement and bolting to his feet. Not caring that his body hurt like hell or that he was acting like a complete nancyboy, he threw his arms around his sire and hugged him tightly. "Holy crap, I thought you were dead."
"I am dead," Angel replied, hugging his childe back.
Spike made a sound of disgust at the horrific pun and extracted himself from the embrace. "I haven't seen you in forever and here you are making stupid jokes."
"Someone else who agrees with me that your jokes are stupid."
"What happened to the 'shutting up, sir'?" Angel said, glaring behind Spike.
Spike turned around and did a double-take. The voice that had been identified as Rigby was an Andinite. Part-android, part-Corlinane, the Andinites looked like short sticks with arms and legs. Two metallic-gold eyes and a non-moving slit where the mouth was made up the Andinites face at the top of the center 'stick.' The race was created by the Corlinane when their population was dying out in order to preserve some part of their heritage.
The Andinites were immortal unless they were destroyed in some manner, such as being melted down for scrap metal. They held life in the utmost regard, were polite to the extreme, and tended to avoid leaving their home planet of Corlinan. Therefore, seeing one not only in his sire's presence, but talking back to Angel, was a second shock to Spike.
He needed a drink.
"Can you tell it not to stare at me?" Rigby asked.
"It?" Spike said incredulously. He looked back at Angel. "It?"
"Well, the big galoot did buy you," Rigby pointed out. "Thus, you must be property and therefore are considered an 'it.'"
"Why you little bloody...stick!" Spike exclaimed, moving to rip the Andinite to pieces.
Angel grabbed him roughly by the arm. "Rigby, Spike is not an 'it,' and unless you feel like fitting into my pocket, I'd watch what you say around him."
"Very well, sir," Rigby said, mimicking a sigh. "If you insist."
"I insist," Angel stated. "Why don't you get lost for awhile, I'd like a chance to talk to Spike."
"Does he bite?" Rigby asked.
"Only if the poof wants me to," Spike replied, a small sardonic smile tugging up the corners of his lips.
"Spike, put a cork in it," Angel said. "Rigby, go away."
"Fine," Rigby sniffed, heading out of the room. "Be that way. I know when I'm not wanted..."
"Cheeky bastard," Spike said, plopping back down in the chair he'd vacated a short time earlier.
"He reminds me of you," Angel said, earning a glare from the still peroxide-blond vampire. He chuckled and pulled up a second chair. "Actually, Rigby's not that bad. He knows his way around a hopper and has gotten me out of more jams than I want to admit..."
Spike stared at his sire for a moment, then leaned forward and pinched him on the arm. "Hey!" Angel exclaimed. "What was that for?"
"You are real," Spike said. "This isn't a dream."
"You're suppose to pinch yourself, dummy," Angel growled, rubbing his arm.
The younger vampire started laughing until tears streamed down his cheeks. Angel continued to stare at him funnily, until he was able to gasp out, "I c-can't fucking," gasp, "believe it!" He wiped his tears with the back of his hand. "After all these bloody years..."
"I was sort of surprised to see you, too," Angel said, propping a booted-foot on his opposite knee. "Especially at an auction as one of the items to be bid upon."
"Yeah, well, shit happens," Spike told him, a large grin slashing his face. He leaned back and put his hands behind his head, then extended his legs out in front of him and crossed his ankles. "So you, tell me about you, you old sod. Still got the soul, I see."
"Spike, you knew it was permanent when I last saw you back in the twenty-third century." Angel shook his head. "Damn, it's been a long time."
"Almost seven hundred years," Spike said. He frowned. "Bloody hell, I'm getting old."
"Time has a way of slipping by without you knowing it." Angel absently brushed a speck of thread off of his dark pants. "One minute, you're holding a new baby in your arms, the next, you're paying your last respects to him."
"You haven't changed." Spike chuckled, glad to know that despite the length of time that had passed, his sire was just as he remembered. "Winner and still champion of the brooding competition."
"At least I'm not getting myself sold into slavery," Angel pointed out. "How the hell did you manage to do that?"
"Talent," Spike answered with a devilish grin. "And a lot of R'aalthn Ginane."
"You haven't changed," he said, then took in Spike's olive-colored, multi-pocketed pants, green tee and black service-vest also with multiple pockets. A tech-geek outfit, as Rigby liked to call it. He arched his brow. "Or have you? You haven't gone respectable on me?"
"What this?" Spike asked, gesturing to his clothing. "A bloke's gotta make a living somehow."
"You stole the clothes."
"Got it in one." The blond vampire smiled and took his own time in examining Angel's clothes. Black pants, black v-neck, long-sleeved shirt, a funky-looking watch on his wrist. All normal, boring common-wear except for the heavy, multi-buckled boots on his sire's feet. "Fly-boy wear?"
"Old habits die hard," Angel said with a small shrug. "Besides, they're comfortable, and I'm on my feet pretty much all day."
"Wait, you mean you were a pilot?" Spike asked. He screwed up his face in disgust. "Probably one of those 'for the cause' fighter pilots, I bet?"
Angel stood and crossed the room. "I was a star-hopper," he answered over his shoulder.
Spike sat up straight in his chair, his eyes widening in amazement. "You were a smuggler?!"
"For awhile." Angel stopped in front of a niche in the wall with a flat-computer screen above it. "Angel-one, two cups," he said to the computer screen. Two cups of warmed blood appeared in the niche. He picked them up and headed back towards Spike, chuckling softly at the stunned look on his childe's face. "What's wrong, Spike? You look surprised."
"Surprised?" Spike took the cup from Angel. "Why should I be surprised? I met up with my sire, who I haven't seen in almost seven centuries and who I thought was dust, he tells me he was a bloody smuggler for..."
"About five hundred years," Angel supplied.
"Five-fucking-hundred years," Spike continued. "He has an Andinite with him that talks back to him, and he just made blood come out of a hole in the bloody wall. Why should all that be a surprise to me?"
"If it'll give you peace of mind, I'm a teacher now," Angel said. "Going on my ninetieth year."
Spike set his cup down on the round table beside his chair and covered his face with his hands as he started to laugh again. "This is just too rich. Next you'll be telling me that you teach on a bloody starship under the Council of Planets..."
The blond vampire's head shot up. "What?" His eyes darted around the living room like area, taking in his surroundings for the first time. Smooth utilitarian beige walls with four doors, all of which were the sliding variety, greeted his eyes. He could see into a silvery bathroom through one doorway and the edge of a bed through another. The other two doors were closed. Undoubtably one led out of the suite and the other to a second bedroom.
The furnishings in the room he was in consisted of a round table and four chairs, a cushioned loveseat along one wall with a small end table beside it and what looked to be a desk built into another wall with a chair in front of it. The computerized console/niche and a bookshelf crammed with old tomes took up the other walls.
"Oh fuck, I'm on a bloody starship." Spike stood abruptly. "Shit, Angel, get me off of this thing. Take me back to R'aalthn."
"Can't." Angel frowned up at his childe. "We left airspace about an hour before you came around."
"Then dump me off at whatever planet we're above now," Spike said, gesturing wildly.
"The Luna Nocturne isn't scheduled to stop anywhere for about a month," Angel said. "We're heading over to the Kilon System. Warp four the entire way."
Spike practically deflated before Angel's eyes and dropped back down into the chair. "Bloody hell."
"Spike, it's just a starship. You can't have lived this long and not been in one before," Angel said.
"Angel, the last time I was on a starship under the Council of Planets, they were shipping me off to Zwenstig Station," Spike said morosely. "From there I was to be taken to Bee'ik to live out the rest of my unlife as a prisoner, unless the Council got lucky and they could reinstate the death penalty."