All In Good Time

He's dead. He knows that. It doesn't seem to matter when he's still called upon to serve his masters, serve the head office. Bend and scrape to their beck and call, and somehow, nowadays, it doesn't seem to be quite as much fun.

Maybe it's the big screen TV he no longer has. Maybe it's the way the ice cream at the corner vendor never quite tastes right. Maybe it's just that now he's seen the faces of his employers, and the thrill of serving is gone.

There's no point in dwelling over it, he knows. He'll be in servitude for the rest of eternity, and, unlike some, he knew what he was getting into. Walked in with his eyes open, not because he wanted the rewards on earth, but because he wanted to do what he did. Wanted the cackle and the smile and the wry look that told the poor deluded whoevers, that *he*, Holland Masters, just another ordinary man - more or less - had done this.

Whatever the 'this' was. It was all about power. Always had been, always would be. Even when he did only what he was told, he wielded power. Because no one and nothing could stop him.

Except his employers, of course, and he made sure they had no reason to stop him. He enjoyed his work too much; now only incompetence would get him fired. And he was beyond fired, now. Dead, and loving it. The only way back was through the real fires, and when compared to watching people like Angel gape in stupefication at the reality of the world - where was the appeal of being tortured?

He wouldn't have minded a more sybaric lifestyle, of course. Wouldn't have minded if someone came to his cell and installed an entertainment center with surround sound and a wet bar. But he spent enough time working, that he supposed he didn't really need it. He could get a drink sometimes when he walked on the earth, and he could get sex almost any time he wanted it. If he didn't mind the face of the whatever he was screwing. But sometimes, he thought, it would be nice. Just one satellite dish. One blender for making frozen drinks. A pair of silk slippers to pad about in during his off hours. A linen shirt that didn't hold in the heat.

Instead he tried to spend his off hours on earth, reminding himself why he liked his job. Watching the faces of poor unfortunates who thought they were doing so well, holding their heads up above the tide only to discover with one swift whoosh, that the tides didn't matter when it came to human corruption. Anyone could go a little deeper. Anyone could find themselves drowning.

It irritated him when they tried to swim, irritated him even more when someone whom he, himself, had buried in the ground, pulled themselves out and tried walking away. Boundaries didn't matter, in hell, and leaving LA would mean nothing. He entertained himself by making plans, knowing it wouldn't matter when he put them into action. It was enough that someday his junior partners would all -- *all* -- be here with him, serving the eternal darkness until time itself ran out.

He was feeling a little vengeful. That was all right, it made him a better employee.

But until he decided it was time to do something about errant strays, he concentrated his attention on someone else. Someone who by rights should have been instructing him, someone whose presence in hell should have been the Employee of the Century, whose model they were all entreated to follow.

Instead he was even now puttering around, oblivious to the sensuous way he removed each article of clothing - coat, shirt, belt, dropped on the floor, and oblivious to the eyes that watched as he turned, question on his face and one hand almost raised.

Holland waited, bored with the beginnings of will he won't he. He'd seen this before, and knew Angel's lover would forgive him long enough to bed him again. That, while amusing, wasn't why he was here. Watching them have sex wasn't anything more than he'd seen a thousand times in the minds of guilty men who thought their place in hell was forever chiseled on their souls, because they dallied. Or loved. Wasn't that an ironic blow to the moral compass?

But he waited, and watched, rolled his eyes at the pathetic relief on Angel's face when he wasn't turned down. Nodded with encouragement as his lover told him, rather sternly, that this solved little. They still had to talk, and Holland found himself waving his hand. Get on with it, already. You both know you don't care anymore. Arguments and hurts vanish when skin touches skin, and you get caught up in everything.

He waited. Could have timed it, had he had a watch. That was one thing he didn't understand. Why couldn't he have a watch? Digital, pocket, didn't matter. Not that he ever really needed one - a calendar to mark the eons, perhaps. Didn't really need to know how many minutes had passed before Angel's head fell onto a pillow, arms wrapped around the tired, sweaty body of his mortal lover.

Holland waited a bit longer, making very sure the vampire was sound asleep and dreamless. Then he crept forward, smiling to himself at again, the irony, that he'd been invited into this vampire's home - not by the vampire, the dreamless sleep of the hopes to be forgiven. But invited into the restless sleep of his lover, into which he slipped, now, and began whispering all the things Holland had found in there, the first time.

It didn't take long, and as he slipped out and walked away, he knew it wouldn't be very much longer.

And wouldn't it just destroy Angel, on the day.

Holland smiled. Better than DVDs.