Characters: Liam/Angel, Liam’s father, Darla, Buffy.
Word Count: 1254
Spoilers: Becoming Part 1.
Summary: Liam wanted the best of everything for himself, and if he were ever to wed, that included the most perfect woman imaginable. But he discovers perfection is usually an illusion.
Written For: Prompt 043 - Perfection at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own BTVS, or the characters.
“I will not pay court to Lord Brogan’s daughter!” Liam had snapped at his father on that long ago day. “The girl is as plain as a house sparrow and timid as a mouse. She lacks spirit, not to mention she has no will of her own.”
“She would make you a dutiful wife.”
“And what would I be wanting with a wife when I can bed any woman I choose? If I should ever wed, it would be because I had found a woman beyond compare, a woman of matchless beauty, spirited, passionate and bold, with an intellect as striking as her physical presence, a woman perfect in every way. Why should I settle for some minor lord’s dullard of a daughter, with her flat-chested, bony body, her hair primped into limp ringlets, and no mind nor opinions of her own? She’s a simpleton!”
“There’s no such thing as perfection, boy, so don’t you waste your time looking for it. Even if the woman you describe were to exist, you’d not find such a one in those filthy taverns where you fritter my money away on strong drink and the dubious affections of serving girls. Their kind might be fiery and passionate, aye, but they’re none too clean and they’ll bed anyone who has the coppers to buy their time. You’re nothing special to them, so don’t you go thinking you are. They’re only after whatever money they can get from you, the same as all your so-called friends. Now, you’ll get yourself cleaned up and put on your best coat and breeches; we’re dining with Lord Brogan and his family tonight, and I expect you to show Edith the proper attention, or you’ll find yourself out on the street with not a penny to your name. Then we’ll see how many of your friends still want to know you!”
Liam had gritted his teeth as his father strode away, wishing he had the courage to stand up to the old man. He should have defied him, should have laughed in his father’s face, shown the full measure of the contempt that burned inside him. It would have been deeply disrespectful, and would have doubtless resulted in harsh punishment, probably a beating, but maybe it would have been worthwhile if only to prove himself a man. Perhaps if he’d had more to drink, enough to give himself some backbone… It was useless wishing; the moment was past and all he could now do was accede to his father’s wishes. Up to a point. He would sit at table beside Edith tonight, attempt to engage her in conversation, but he would not agree to marry her.
He shook his head; perhaps his father was correct in that he would never find his perfect woman among the tavern girls, but what did it matter? He had no intention of marrying anyway; marriage was for those men who must tie a woman to themselves in order to have convenient access to a warm body whenever they desired to sate their lust. It was after all a wife’s duty to satisfy all her husband’s needs.
But Liam was young, and strong, and handsome; all the girls he dallied with said so. He had no shortage of women willing, even eager, to warm his bed, and if they lacked perfection, they made up for it with willingness and passion. The tavern wenches were a lively bunch; they didn’t merely lie there and let a man have his way. They were active participants, taking pleasure as well as giving it, wise and well-versed in the art of love.
Edith Brogan would no doubt faint dead away on her wedding night; he almost pitied whatever poor fool would eventually take her to wife. Attempting to engage her in polite conversation would surely make for a relentlessly tedious evening, but if he refused to accompany his parents… His father never made idle threats, and Liam was under no illusions over his ability to survive with all the monies and privileges he was accustomed to stripped away. For the moment he was powerless.
Hardly more than a week after dining with Lord Brogan’s family, and having been thrown out of the tavern where he and a friend had been drinking when they’d run out of money, Liam had been stumbling homeward in the hopes of pilfering some of his father’s silver when he’d seen her. Surely she must be a woman of noble birth, and a far loftier station in life than simple-minded Edith Brogan. Liam had never before laid eyes on such a vision of pure loveliness.
Her gown alone must have cost more than even his father could afford. Her lustrous golden hair was perfectly styled, and her face… His father might claim perfection did not exist, but then he must never have seen a woman such as this one. Her body was at once slender but yet voluptuously curved in all the right places. Her chin had a proud tilt, and her eyes were wise and knowing, almost challenging. She was the most stunningly beautiful woman his eyes had ever beheld, and he could almost have believed she was a dream, or a mirage, so captivating was she.
If he hadn’t been so deep in his cups he might never have had the nerve to approach her, to strike up a conversation. She was too much woman for any man, and yet she looked upon him with bold interest, her coy smile an invitation he didn’t make any effort to resist. He fell instantly under her spell, and it was his undoing; by the following night Liam no longer existed, his soul expelled from his body and a demon installed in its place.
Thus, Angelus was born.
Angel shook his head, chasing the memories away; as lovely as Darla had appeared in his eyes, she’d not been as perfect as his human self had believed her to be. A soulless demon in the guise of a breathtakingly beautiful woman, and for centuries he’d been an equally depraved monster in the guise of a handsome man. Since he’d regained his soul he’d often cursed his good looks; if he’d been unattractive, ordinary, he probably wouldn’t have caught Darla’s attention, inspired her to turn him into a vampire. He might have lived a normal human life and died never being aware of the horrors that existed in the darkness. His parents would have lived, and his sister would have grown to womanhood, married, had a family of her own… Perhaps he too would have wed, had a son to continue the family name.
But then, he would have never met Buffy. Beautiful, stubborn, spirited, brave Buffy, with her gentle heart and warrior’s soul.
It doesn’t matter that she isn’t perfect, that she’s not as intelligent as some of the girls he’s known, that she can be petty and wilful and selfish, and sometimes almost painfully naïve. She’s only seventeen; she’s entitled to be all of those things, especially with the responsibilities of being the Slayer weighing heavily on her young shoulders. But he loves despite, or perhaps because of, her faults.
If there’s one thing Angel has learned in the centuries since his death, it’s that perfection is overrated, and in most cases when you think you’ve found it, it turns out to be nothing more than a cruel illusion.
Buffy doesn’t need to be perfect; she just needs to be herself. His dead, unbeating heart is hers, now and forever.