DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. 'Angel' and all related characters are the creations of Joss Whedon and copyright of 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy, Inc.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This chapter is pretty much spoiler-free, however it contains some violence, since it focuses on the battle.


A Promise of Tomorrow
Chapter 2: The Battle Rages

By Shadow's Mirror


The sword swung in a clean arc, and the life of a demon was taken in the process. Angel didn't have time to congratulate himself though. Two more demons immediately stepped up to take the place of the fallen one. As Angel moved back to avoid their serrated blades, his back came into contact with someone else. He didn't have to look to know who it was. He'd know that scent anywhere.

"Hey, Spike, you ever heard of a little thing called 'room to move'? 'Cause that's really what I need right now." He spoke over his shoulder, never taking his eyes off his opponents as he blocked their attacks with his sword.

"Love to mate, but I'm kinda... pinned here myself." Angel didn't miss the strained tone of Spike's voice, or the slight hesitation before the word 'pinned'. He sighed to himself.

"How bad you hurt?" As he spoke, his sword slashed out and one of his opponents fell.

A harsh chuckle was his only answer for a moment, then, "That settles it. You know me too well. Two hits to the shoulder... I think... could have been three."

"You don't know? How can you not..." Angel paused as he lashed out with his fist, catching his remaining opponent by surprise and temporarily stunning him. The moment was all Angel needed. One swift strike and it was over. Then three demons charged at him. He pushed their initial attack back and completed his query. "How can you not know how many times you've been hit?"

There was silence for a moment and Angel was aware of his companion moving behind him. He was also suddenly aware of the sharp coppery smell of blood. Concern washed over him. "Spike?"

"I'm here. Just had to deal with a couple of... actually not sure what they were, but 'ugly' would be a compliment for 'em." Spike's voice faltered slightly at the last, and Angel's concern grew. "As for the shoulder, I got hit three times, but it depends on if you're counting fists or just pointy things."

"Oh." Angel paused to block one attack, counter a second and behead his third opponent. "Can you see any of the others?"

Another chuckle greeted his question. "Yeah, that's you all over isn't it? Always concerned about everyone else instead of yourself."

"I'm just asking." Angel ducked a blade aimed for his neck and took the opportunity offered. The move had left his opponent wide open. The only problem was, as he attacked that opponent, his other opponent moved in and got a good hit on Angel's sword arm. Angel gritted his teeth, completed his attack and tried not to wince at the pain. He'd had worse. "Can you see them or not?"

"Hang on." The figure behind Angel moved and something cried out. Screamed out, actually. Angel winced at the sound.

"Kanapros Demon. You never forget that death cry. It's distinctive."

"Not to mention loud. Right, Gunn's been cornered off to the left, but he's holding his own. They seem to be reserving the strongest fighters for you, me and Illyria. Can't say I blame 'em, to be honest."

"My left or yours?" Angel glanced around and almost missed seeing the two attacks aimed at him at once. Almost. He moved quickly, darting forward so his attackers were forced to change the angle of their attacks. Then he ducked back again at the last moment. As his two opponents fell to each other's swords, Angel took a moment to have a longer look around. "Never mind, I see him."

As he watched, Gunn took out two of his opponents, clearing a small break in the line of demons who had cornered him. It wasn't much, but it was enough for Angel to be able to see him more clearly. He frowned.

"He doesn't look too good, does he?" Spike unknowingly echoed Angel's thoughts. "That's the trouble with humans... no stamina for the really long battles. Have to say though, he's doing better than I thought he would. He's still standing and it's been, what, six or seven minutes now?"

"I'd say six." Angel took his eyes off Gunn just in time. He winced as a blade came a little too close for comfort to his neck. With Spike at his back, he didn't have much room to maneuver in, but he managed to move back enough to avoid the fatal blow. Then he retaliated with a swift punch and swifter strike, neither of which his opponent was able to avoid.

As the demon went down, a wordless scream of pure rage split the air from somewhere in the midst of the battle raging nearby. It made the battle cries of the demon hoard they were facing seem no louder than the whimper of a hurt puppy.

"I'll say one thing for that girl, she sure has a good set of lungs on her. And she's not bad in the 'tearing things apart with her bare hands' department either." Angel had to agree with Spike on both those points. Illyria seemed to be throwing everything that she had at the demons surrounding her. But he was confused about one thing.

"Hey Spike, you wouldn't happen to know why she's screaming like that, would you? Not that I'm complaining. Every time she does, these guys cringe. That has to be a good thing. But still..."

"I figure it's one of those primal scream things you read about in those magazines. You know, in those articles about focusing your rage and channelling it into where it needs to go."

"You mean you actually read those articles?" Angel couldn't resist the opening. He also couldn't resist the opening that his opponent had just made due to a rather clumsy attack. It wasn't until Angel had started his own lunge at the demon that he realised it hadn't been clumsy at all. It had been planned.

"What? Er... No! Of course I don't! I'd never..." Spike paused in his attempted cover-up, as he felt Angel jerk to a standstill behind him. "Angel?" He started to look, but his opponent chose that moment to attack. He fended him off, then put him permanently out of action with a quick strike. Other demons were moving in but Spike knew he had a moment or two before they were on top of him. He glanced behind him.


If his heart had been beating, it would have stopped at that moment.


To be continued...