By Maquis Leader
Author’s Note: Takes place starting with the Angel epi Souless and immediately after the Buffy epi Potential.
Angelus sat quietly in a corner of his cage. Mentally, he was pacing in tight circles, but outwardly he was calm – nearly serene. That'll fuck with their heads.
The Fang Gang expected him to behave like an animal once Angel's precious soul was gone – snarling and growling, threatening to kill them. Instead, he'd sat quietly and behaved himself. Threw your whole game off, didn't I, Wesley, old boy?
He'd made one obligatory and expected attempt to escape just so they could pat themselves on the back. Yep, we knew old Angelus would try something. Yuk, yuk. And then he'd sat down to wait. I could have snapped the little twit's neck, morons.
They'd made a huge mistake in letting him up off the table they'd had him strapped down to. Like I need to piss? Or have to worry about my freaking circulation? Idiots, the lot of them. Sooner or later, he'd find a way out of this damn cage they had him in. Letting him loose had just made it a thousand times easier.
Angelus allowed himself a slight smile. They were completely unnerved by his not performing as expected. Even better, they were coming to guard him one by one rather than in pairs. Made the head games sooooo much easier.
Right now, he was indulging in playing the "I know something you don't know” game with Connor. Connor had no clue that he was playing as well, and that he wasn’t very good at it. Angelus liked this game. Stare, smile a little, look slowly up the stairs occasionally, once in a while a soft, under the breath laugh, and repeat until subject is driven nuts. Peter Pan is about ready to blow, Tink.
Just as the game was getting interesting – Daddy's little boy was fidgeting like a man expecting the whip – Queen C pranced down the stairs.
This oughta be good. Angelus looked slowly her way and then back to Connor, tossing one last smirk and wink at the boy.
"Connor, go upstairs." Cordelia ordered.
"No." He glared at Angelus, willing the vampire to look away.
"Please." She put a hand on Connor's arm. "Go upstairs."
Connor continued to glare at Angelus, finally forced to blink under the vampire's steady gaze. "It's your lucky day."
I’ve out stared demons that'd eat you for breakfast, you little shit. "Yeah, go to your room, mama's boy." Angelus sniped as the boy walked up the stairs and left the basement in full sulk mode.
He turned his attention to Cordelia, letting her see he was bored already. "Cordy, Cordy, Cordy, just couldn't stay away."
Cordelia walked toward the cage in what Angelus assumed was supposed to be an enticing manner, only she was a little too plump these days for that. Like I'm supposed to fall over and jack off for her? Looks like she's about to pop – She began prattling on about a deal, and he answered her exactly as she expected, but his mind was racing ahead.
Mama's boy? Cordy was getting fat. Suddenly fat. Angelus stepped closer to the bars and breathed in a lungful of her scent. It was off – had been since Skip had made her part demon – but more so than it had been.
Big tits, fat face, big belly... why Cordy, dear... I believe you have a bun in the oven. He began working on ways to spin that into trouble. Only Connor has nailed her since she came back -- far as we know anyway. Only a few days but... demon nails demon and... Oh, this could be fun!
Cordelia was reaching the end of her song and dance, and Angelus nodded as if he'd really been listening to the dumb bitch. "Oh, and in return, I get what? Wouldn't mind a car." He turned away and walked to the back of the cage again. "I hear the new Mustang is nice."
"Something better." Cordelia stepped closer to the red line painted on the floor that marked the limit of Angelus' reach.
"What's a better ride than a Mustang?" He knew this script in his sleep. Did she think he'd never been propositioned before? By better?
"Me." She looked at him with her best doe eyed look.
It took everything he had not to laugh in her face. A couple hundred years of experience helped him keep a straight face, but it was a close call. Even knowing what Cordelia had been going to offer, Angelus was still caught off guard. Queen C offering up her precious body for the cause? Say it ain’t so, Joe.
"You?" He looked her over as if considering. Brainless bitch, you gave away the – supposedly – big prize too quick. No room to bargain now.
"That's the offer. No more stalling, no more games. You tell us what you know – you get me."
He'd fucked worse to get what he wanted. Hell, he'd fuck Wes if it meant he could get the hell out of here. But Cordy? After that mewling pup had crawled between her thighs? Angelus took sloppy seconds from nobody. "Must be some confusion. You took out the soul – still got the brain."
"Then use it. The Beast, the darkness – the world is falling apart."
And I care, why? Angelus had a comment ready about her impassioned acting and a possible porn career when a tingle zipped down his spine. No... Can’t be…
Cordelia had reached the end of her speech, and Angelus realized he had no clue what she'd said.
He settled for smirking at her. "Wes was better at buttering me up." The tingle grew stronger, fingers teasing the base of his skull and tightening down low in his belly. Closer... come closer...
"You know what it means to be a champion."
"I'm trying so hard to forget." That's it, stupid, remind me of all the time I spent trapped inside my own skull.
"Sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made." Cordelia said dramatically.
"And you're the little lamb?" Angelus turned to look at Cordelia, forcing himself not to look at the door at the top of the stairs. The tingling was running over his skin, warning him of danger and urging him to run. "Not that there aren’t a few things I wouldn't mind doing to that body – " He stepped up to the bars again. Spindle, fold, and mutilate. "Other than the obvious."
"Tell us about the Beast – and you can do whatever you want."
Lifting his head, Angelus scented the air, trying to confirm what his other senses were telling him. Closer... come a little closer... He licked his lips, tasting her scent before he could see her.
Cordelia smiled. She could see the sudden hot lust in Angelus' eyes. His vampiric circulation was no doubt pushing blood to where it was needed most.
"You're lying." He pressed closer to the bars, his breath coming in shorter and shorter pants.
"Look in my eyes." She smiled again, seductively. "You know me – better than anyone. So when you look at me, you know I'm not lying."
"Oh my God – can you be anymore melodramatic?"
The voice came from behind her, and Cordelia spun around to stare up at whoever had stepped on her lines.
Angelus looked up over the top of Cordelia's head at the figure coming down the stairs.
"Hello, lover." Buffy stopped at the bottom of the stairs. "Miss me?"
"Endlessly." He watched her walk toward him. Her hair was pulled back in an unflattering ponytail, but she was still beautiful. Much easier on the eyes than what's her ass here.
"What are you doing here?" Cordelia put her hands on her hips and glared at Buffy.
"I heard a real crazy story." She walked past Cordelia without looking at her; the vampire in the cage held her complete attention. "I heard that Angel had lost his soul."
The chocolate eyes glittered as she came closer, and a smirk curled the corner of the sensuous mouth. Buffy had studied him carefully from the moment she'd entered the basement. The way he held himself, the tilt of his head – a thousand signals that told her Angel was gone. Wes had filled her in before she'd come downstairs – but even without the explanation, she would have known him.
"Buffy." He'd play the little game with her.
"We've got things under control here, Buffy." Cordelia reached for Buffy's arm.
Shaking off Cordelia's hand, she laughed. "Yeah, I can see that."
Cordelia ignored the soft growl from Angelus and grabbed Buffy's arm again, jerking her to a stop. "You can go back to Sunnydale."
"Like your hand, Cordy?" Buffy broke eye contact with Angelus long enough to turn to Cordelia. "Like to keep it?"
The gray eyes came back to him the moment Cordelia let her arm go, and Angelus couldn't wait to turn them a happy green.
"Looks like I owe Clem an apology." Buffy started toward the cage again. "I said no way they wouldn't call and let me know if Angelus was loose – of course, I never figured you'd be stupid enough to do it yourselves."
"Angelus has information we need – " Cordelia tried to get between Buffy and Angelus, but the Slayer stepped around her. "He knows something that Angel doesn't remember."
"You really are stupid." She rolled her eyes. "Anything Angelus knows – Angel knows."
"He told them that." Angelus winked at her. "But they weren't big on listening."
"But you do know something now, don't you?" Buffy stepped over the red line. "Which means there's magic involved. God, I hate magic."
"Me too." Pressing against the bars, Angelus held her gaze. "You know you're not supposed to step over that line."
"Because I can reach you."
"And?" Stopping just short of the bars, Buffy crossed her arms over her chest.
"Then he can kill you." Cordelia said softly.
"And you can see she's soooo concerned for your safety." Sliding his hand up and down the bars as if he were caressing her skin, Angelus waited for Buffy to take that last step or back away.
"I've been dead." A shrug as she stepped up to the bars. "I liked it."
Her hands reached up, and Angelus put his arms through the spaces between the bars, pulling her flush against them and dropping his mouth to hers. He kissed her hard and hungrily, eagerly lapping at her mouth with his tongue when her lips parted for him.
Kissing Angelus was nothing like kissing Angel. Even when Angel was eager and excited – even the night they'd made love – he'd always been gentle and tender, handling her as if she were made of glass.
Angelus wasn't hurting her, but he was rough and demanding, sucking her tongue into his cool mouth and grinding his lips over hers. Soft, growling purrs came from him as he kissed and nipped at her mouth.
"Oh my God – I should've seen that coming." Cordelia turned away and stomped up the stairs.
Angelus cupped Buffy’s ass with one hand, bringing her as close as he could and trying to force himself between the bars to reach her. She whimpered, and he eased the pressure. There'd be bruises he could kiss away later – if he got the chance.
Far too many of Buffy's fantasies of Angel had changed into fantasies of Angelus. From the start, she'd been torn between the two – unable to kill Angelus back in Sunnydale when she'd had the chance. Unable to risk losing them both.
"I want you both."
The whispered confession made Angelus chuckle. "You only think you want him, baby. This is what you really want."
One big hand cupped and squeezed her ass while the other slid into her hair and pulled it loose from the ponytail. Buffy winced as strands of hair went with the hair tie, but strong fingers massaged her scalp, easing the stinging.
Angelus’ newly warmed lips moved along her throat, nipping and licking, chasing her pulse. Against her cheek, she felt his face change, the hard ridges of his forehead brushing along her chin. A part of her hoped he was going to drain her dry, but she knew better. Angelus was much too smart for that. Not here and not now.
Sliding her fingers into the thick, soft hair, Buffy held Angelus’ head to her as he licked along her throat. There were warm trickles that the cool tongue lapped up. He must have cut her skin, but his fangs were razor sharp and she hadn’t felt even the slightest pain.
“Let her go.”
“Aw, Wes…” Angelus laved at the shallow slices he’d made over Buffy’s jugular. The small taste of Slayer blood – Buffy’s blood – made his skin tingle. “You spoil all my fun.”
“I said – “ There was the sound of the trank gun being cocked. “Let her go.”
The only other taste of Buffy’s blood that he’d had that hadn’t been filtered through Angel’s perceptions had been the kiss in the school hallway years ago. He’d kissed her hard enough to cut her lips on his teeth and the small taste of her blood had kept him on a high for hours.
Angelus had finally understood Darla’s warning never to feed from a Slayer and why some vamps sought them out at the risk of being dusted. The rush to his senses was incredible. Wes and Gunn seemed to be moving slower than usual. The colors were brighter, and he could smell the drug inside the gun, even beneath the stink of the gunpowder.
Reluctantly, Angelus pressed his thumb over the cuts. They were small and healing quickly; he hadn’t wanted to drain her. Not yet. “Unless you’re William Tell, you can’t hit me without hitting Buffy.” He needed more of Buffy’s blood. Soon.
“It’s all right, Wes.” Buffy forced her fingers to let go of Angelus’ hair. She stepped back, but he kept hold of her.
“Just one.” She pressed her lips to his, resisting his tongue and the temptations that went with it.
This time, Angelus let her step away from the bars, and Buffy turned to face Wes and Gunn.
“Buffy, come over here where it’s safe.” Wes moved so that he had a clear shot at Angelus.
“You know, bullets don’t really hurt him – well, they hurt him – but mostly they just piss him off.” Buffy frowned. “And why do you have a crossbow?”
“In case he gets too frisky.” Gunn told her.
“Yeah, okay then.” She stepped in front of Angelus to block Gunn’s view. “Number one – he’s in the cage and you’re outside the cage. Number two – if you shoot him with that, you’ll kill him.”
“He’s already dead.” Connor said as he came down the stairs.
“I mean dead as in dusted.” Buffy got her first good look at Connor. She and Angel had talked about what had happened to his son, but this was the first chance she’d had to see Connor since his return. “And I don’t like to think of him as dead.”
“I wouldn’t think so, considering he had his tongue in your mouth.” Connor sneered.
“You’re just all about the teenage angst thing, aren’t you?” Buffy turned back to Wes. “What’s with the crossbow?”
“And the flamethrower.” Angelus added.
“Flame – “ She put her hands on her hips. “Are you people trying to kill him? I thought the idea was to put Angel’s soul back.”
“That is the idea, Buffy.” Wes lowered the trank gun. “However, if Angelus gets loose – Angel instructed us to kill him rather than let him go free.”
“And you’re mighty anxious to do that.”
“That’s because I know too much.” Angelus said helpfully. “I know that Gunn probably killed Fred’s professor and that Wes has a huge case of unrequited love for Fred even though he’s been porking Lilah and that Cordy fucked Connor and – “
“Shut up!” Connor took a step toward the cage, his fists clenched.
“Please.” Buffy turned to Angelus. “And eww! With Cordy?”
“Yep.” He smirked at Connor over Buffy’s head. “Soul Boy was soooo worried about poor Cordy that he ran all the way over there and then – there was the pup, humping away on top of her.”
“That’s disgusting.” Buffy’s nose wrinkled up. “That’s like incest.”
“It wasn’t like that!” Connor snarled at her.
“She didn’t give you the ‘I don’t want to die a virgin’ speech did she, kid?” Angelus winked. “’Cos I’m here to tell you – not the case – “
Angelus could see the dart coming but couldn’t quite step out of the way fast enough. The dart buried itself in his chest with a loud thunk.
“What did you do to him?” Buffy’s ears were ringing from the report of the gun in the small space.
“Merely a tranquilizer.” Wes assured her as he lowered the gun. “I think we’ve heard enough from him for now.”
“Is that how you get off, Wes?” She glared at him. “Shooting him while he’s helpless?”
Clutching the bars, Angelus held himself upright. The drug wasn’t dragging him down as quickly as it normally would. Bet it’s… that good old… Slayer blood... An edge for later. He let himself slide down to the floor, not wanting to tip his hand. “You haven’t... heard all… you’re going to hear… from me…”
Buffy knelt down and reached through the bars. Carefully, she pulled the dart from Angelus’ chest and threw it back at Wes. “Do you have any idea how insane it was to let him out? What the hell were you thinking?”
The former Watcher flinched as the dart buried itself in the stock of the trank gun. “We need the information that Angelus has.”
“Hello? Were you not listening?” Buffy ruffled the dark hair before standing and walking over to Wes. “Angel knows everything Angelus did. Every detail. He remembers and he suffers.”
“Let’s not… forget the brooding…” Angelus chuckled. He tried to look contrite when Buffy turned to frown at him. Mental note to self, keep on the Slayer’s good side.
“I’m aware that Angel has all of Angelus’ memories.” Wes wrenched the dart from the wooden stock and slipped it into his jacket pocket.
“Then you know for Angel to not remember means someone – or thing – has tampered with his memories.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“Exactly.” He nodded. “All references to the Beast have been eliminated. Texts, scrolls, and apparently memories as well.”
“So why, instead of looking for whoever did this, did you take Angel’s soul away?”
“We’d hoped that removing Angel’s soul would somehow unlock the memories that Angelus has of the Beast.”
“And how’s that working out for you, Wes?” Angelus snickered.
“How do you know he has any?” Buffy raised an eyebrow, a move she’d learned from Giles to intimidate Dawn.
“It recognized Angelus, called him by name.” Connor’s lip curled as he looked at the vampire slumped against the cage bars. “It wanted him to join it.”
“Wow, you know, I should’ve been a teacher, ‘cos this is my day for lessons.” Buffy pointed at Angelus. “Angelus – is not Angel. Angel – is not Angelus. Got it?”
“What difference does it make?” The boy shook his long hair out of his eyes.
“Well… when you were a baby… “ She smiled. “Angelus would have eaten you.”
“Washed you down with a little white wine.” Angelus licked his lips.
He had a really nice view of Buffy’s ass from down here. Her jeans were a little baggy, but they still showed off the tight curved mounds he remembered getting his hands on. Angel’s hands most of the time – but his memories now. Wonder if she still has that little pink skirt? I’ll have to eat a banker so I can buy her new clothes. Lots of new clothes.
“So this Beast – “ Buffy made a face. “That is so He-Man and She-Ra – he needs a better name. Anyway, this Beast says he’s met Angelus before?”
“That’s what the big ugly said.” Gunn nodded.
“And you believed him?”
“Well, he – “ Wes blinked. “He knew Angelus – that is, he knew Angel.”
“Angel has been around for like two hundred and fifty years, depending on how you do the math.” She looked from Wes back to Angelus, who smiled and winked at her. “Lots of people and things know him.”
“Yes, well – “
“Did it ever occur to you that this Beasty boy was lying?” After a moment of Wes and Gunn avoiding eye contact, Buffy shook her head. “It didn’t, did it? My God, I’m the dumb blonde around here, remember? There’s no mention of this thing anywhere – you have no clues about him or how to destroy him – so he just happens to casually mention this meeting with Angelus?”
“Why would he lie?” Connor asked her.
“Um, hello? Bad guys lie.” Buffy told him. “Do you guys realize what you’ve done?”
“We can put Angel’s soul back, Buffy.” Wes protested. “What harm – “
“You let them take a fighter off of our side and leave us with an enemy!” Buffy pointed at Angelus again. “No offense.”
“None taken.” Getting to his feet, Angelus brushed the dirt off his pants.
“Even if he does know anything – “ She turned back to Wes. “It’s probably useless!”
“Ah – ah – ah! What I know could be very helpful.” Angelus chided. Probably not. This was his only playing card at the moment, and he wasn’t giving it up.
“You do remember the Beast?” Wes walked up to the red line. “Tell us what you know.”
“Well, it was while I was in Nevernever land.” Angelus smirked. “We went to see Captain Hook.”
“He’s not going to tell you.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “He wants something.”
“Oh, I do. I sure do.”
Walking back to the cage, Buffy rested her hands on one of the crossbars. “You remember something now?”
“Yes.” He reached out and brushed a strand of honey blonde hair back from her face.
“How exactly?” The cool fingers slid along her cheek, and she shivered. Please don’t make everything I just said a joke.
“It popped up after the door opened for me.” She was too thin; Angelus made a note to inform the Scoobies of the proper care and feeding of a Slayer. Before he killed them. Slowly. “Kind of odd, now that I think about it.”
“I could care less about the whole thing.” He lowered his head and rubbed her nose with his. “It pushed itself to the front – like a timer went off.”
“Like whoever’s doing all this wants us to know?” Without thinking, her hand went to his chest. “That’s never a good thing.”
“Could be The Powers That Be, though. Getting a message to their champions.” Angelus smirked. “Wait, let me do that again – I can say it with a straight face this time.”
“Will you tell us what you remember?” Buffy laid her fingers across his lips before he could respond. “Yeah, I know there’s a price.”
“I will.” He licked at her fingers as she pulled them away. “And there is.”
“What do you want?” She gave him a look that said’ you’re not getting out, so don’t ask’.
“I want what Cordy was offering.”
“You want – oh – “ Her face flushed hot even as her blood turned to ice. He wanted Cordelia.
Sadness and anger tainted Buffy’s scent, and Angelus reached a hand out to pull her closer. Gotta work on my phrasing. “I don’t want Cordy – I want you, lover.”
“You want me?” Buffy couldn’t help smiling. He was an evil, savage killer – but he was hers. Slayer, get thee to a shrink.
“Me and you and some soft sheets.” He nuzzled at her cheek. “Let’s go upstairs and put Soul Boy’s mattress to the test.”
“Yeah, that’s so gonna happen.” The cool breath tickled her ear, and Buffy turned her face until their lips were nearly touching. “I’ll come in there with you.”
“Kinky.” He nipped at her lips and gave a little snarling growl.
“Buffy!” Wes stepped over the red line. “Do you know what you’re saying?”
“I do.” Hot monkey sex…
“Oh, baby! Let’s get a preacher and say those magic words!” Angelus purred. “We’ll honeymoon for eternity.”
“How many girls have you made that offer to?” She rolled her eyes.
“I swear.” He took her hand and laid it over his heart.
“Buffy – “ Wes broke in.
“Not even Darla?” Buffy traced a big heart on Angelus’ chest.
“Darla was my sire, baby. There’s a connection – “ He winced as she poked a finger into the center of the shape she’d drawn. Hard. “It’s hard to explain – you’ll understand once we’re together.”
“We’re not going – “
“Buffy!” Wes grabbed her elbow. “We have to talk about – “
Angelus’ hands shot out and locked around Wes’ throat. “Hands off, book boy!” He snarled.
“Let go!” Buffy pulled on his arms. “Angelus!”
“I wonder – “ Tightening his grip, Angelus watched Wes’ face turn red. “If I squeeze hard enough – “
“Let him go!” His fingers were too strong, and Buffy couldn’t get her own fingers underneath to pry them loose. Wes’ hands kept getting in her way as he clawed at Angelus’ hands.
“Will it pop the scar open?” He laughed softly, ignoring Buffy’s attempts to pry his fingers loose as well as Wes’ kicks and struggles. “Maybe I can finish what Justine started.”
From the corner of her eye, Buffy saw Gunn jockeying for position with the crossbow. She stepped closer, blocking the shot. “Back off!”
“He’s gonna kill him!” Gunn moved around the side of the cage.
“Angelus!” Buffy covered his hands with her own. “Please!”
Wes fell to the floor, gagging and choking as Angelus released him. He struggled to crawl away from the cage, and Buffy motioned Gunn to come and help him.
“Rule number one – “ Angelus lifted Buffy’s hands to his lips. “Never touch Buffy.”
“Any other rules we need to know?” Gunn snapped as he dragged Wes back past the painted red line.
“Well, now, what fun would it be if I told you the rules before you broke them?” Lifting her fingertips, Angelus studied each one. “No boo boos?”
“I want to know everything you know.” Buffy pulled her hand back.
“In time, baby, in time.” Laughing, he licked his lips. “In time I’ll teach you everything I know.”
“Angelus…” Was everything a double entendre for him? “You tell us about the Beasty thing, we’ll go check it out, and then I’ll come inside and play with you.”
“And how do I know you’re not lying to me? Once you have what you want – “ He put a hand over his heart. “You might just break your word to this poor, lonely vampire.”
“I promise.“ She let herself think of what spending the night with him would mean. A shiver ran through her and Buffy saw his nostrils flare slightly as he caught the change in her scent.
“I have some stipulations.” Angelus crossed his arms over his chest. “I refuse to bed down with you on a concrete floor. I am not a Chinese panda.”
“Fine. Make a list.” Buffy searched through the pocket of her jacket. “I had a pencil.”
“I’d prefer a pen.” He rubbed his chest. “Pencils make me nervous.”
“Buff – “ Wes cleared his aching throat and tried again.
“Buffy, we need – to discuss this.”
“Okay, sure, whatever.” She turned to Gunn. “Get him a pen and paper, would you?”
“I ain’t getting him a pen.” Gunn sat down and rested the crossbow comfortably across his knees. “Angel said – “
“I don’t care – ” Snatching the crossbow up, Buffy took the bolt out and tapped Gunn on the shoulder with it. “ – what Angel said.”
Gunn blinked. He’d barely seen her move and hadn’t had time to react. “Damn, you’re fast.”
“Get him a pen and paper.” She repeated. “He can’t break out of his cage with a Bic.”
“MacGyver could.” Gunn got up and reluctantly rummaged through his pockets.
Wes handed him the small pen and pad he carried. “Yes, but MacGyver had a stick of gum to go with the pen.”
Buffy took the pen and paper to Angelus. “Here. And stick with the KISS theory.”
“Oh, I intend to, baby.” He blew her a kiss.
“Keep it simple, stupid.”
“You’re cramping my style.” He pouted.
“Deal.” She headed for the stairs. “Come on, let’s give him a few minutes.”
“So that’d be a no on the video tape?” Angelus called up after her.
Upstairs, Buffy turned to Wes. “You said you have Angel’s soul in some jar? I want to see it.”
“This isn’t kindergarten, Buffy.” Cordelia tossed her magazine aside as they walked into the lobby. “There’s no show and tell.”
“Wow, Cordy, you’re putting on some weight.” Buffy eyed the former prom queen. “Packing quite a load in your saddlebags.”
“At least – “ Cordy looked her up and down, smirking as her eyes came back up to meet Buffy’s once again. “I don’t look like some scraggly little homeless waif.”
“Ladies, please.” Lorne stepped between the two women. “If you’re going to fight, at least have the decency to rub down with oil first.”
“Buffy, in Angel’s office if you please.” Wes gestured toward the open door.
Buffy followed him into the office and waited impatiently while he opened the safe. “Who else knows the combination?”
“Everyone – well not everyone.” He corrected himself. “Just Angel and Cordelia, and myself, and – “
“Angelus?” Buffy’s eyes widened as she saw the jar.
“Well, yes – but he’s in no position to open the safe.” Wes watched as Buffy ran a fingertip over the jar. The soul inside twisted and turned as if following.
“Change it. And don’t tell anyone what it is.” Gently, she lifted the jar out of the safe. “Oh, Angel…”
“I’ll do that.” He stared into the empty safe and tried to think of numbers that he could remember but would be meaningless to anyone else. How about the day Father found the puppy I let follow me home?
The jar was cool, reminding her of Angel’s skin. Buffy held the jar carefully between her hands, peering at the swirling gold cloud inside. Not a cloud – Angel’s soul. She smiled. He’s pretty and kinda fluffy. It pressed against the glass, puddling around her fingertips.
There was no feeling of connection, however, and Buffy was disappointed. She’d expected something, to somehow sense Angel as she always did. “Guess that’s just the stuff of bad fiction.”
“Excuse me?” Wes looked up from resetting the combination.
“I just – you know – thought I’d feel something.” She stammered.
“Well, Buffy, the jar is magical.” He smiled slightly. “Perhaps it’s blocking your Slayer abilities.”
“I guess.” Pressing a kiss to the glass, Buffy set it back inside the safe. She frowned. “Well, that was disappointing. I thought it would change or something.”
“Into a prince perhaps?” Wes shut the safe door, twirling the dial before checking to be sure it had locked.
“Wes, this new sense of humor you have – not working.”
“Really?” He hung the painting back over the safe. “I shall have to ask for my money back.”
“Okay, that was a little funny.” Buffy smiled. “I expected this – I dunno – change when I kissed it.”
“Ah, like a flare of blue or perhaps golden light?”
“Yeah.” Her tone was wistful.
“Now that is the stuff of bad fiction.” Wes turned to face her. “You’re not really going to go inside the cage to… be with Angelus are you?”
“I am.” Perching on the edge of Angel’s desk, Buffy rubbed her eyes, suddenly exhausted by everything that was going on. “We don’t know what he knows, and we don’t know who let him remember – good guys or bad – but we have to find out.”
“There are other ways.” Even as he said it, Wes knew it wasn’t true. Angelus would never tell them what he knew without the right price.
“I think this is nothing more than a big stall.” She shook her head. “Just to keep us looking one way while the real action is somewhere else.”
“I agree; however, we can’t chance that Angelus may have real and valuable information.” The former Watcher sighed and reached out to gently pat Buffy’s shoulder. “You’re sure he won’t hurt you?”
“I’m sure.” The smile was sad.
“You have feelings for Angelus?” He’d come to Sunnydale after Angelus was once again safely locked away, but he’d heard about how she’d been unable to kill him while he was loose.
“A little.” She looked away, not able to meet the knowing eyes. “It’s all confused and tangled up. And in a way – I’m almost with Angel, so it’s almost okay.”
“Very well then.” He picked up a pen and pad from the desk. “Let’s find out exactly what he knows – and then we can restore Angel’s soul.”
“Right.” Sliding off the desk, Buffy put on her I’m all business ‘cos I’m the Slayer face. “Let’s go.”
Wes’ heart broke for the girl hiding behind the mask.
Downstairs, Angelus had settled back in the corner of this cage, carefully writing down the things he wanted. He included a few extras that they’d say no to, but that would be fun if they didn’t.
Three sets of footsteps on the stairs. Wes’ steady tread – as boring as he was. Cordy’s clack of expensive heels – as shallow as she was. And Buffy’s soft steps – as dainty and delicate as she was. Of course, I’m just a little prejudiced.
“All right, here’s the deal.” Cordelia started.
“First, you shut up.” Angelus told her. “I name the terms in this deal.”
“Not from inside the cage.” She smirked at him. "You don't get – "
“Cordy, just shut up.” Buffy walked to the cage and reached a hand between the bars. "Let me see your list."
Pulling the list off the pad of paper, Angelus got to his feet and sauntered over to her, presenting it with a flourish. He smirked at Cordelia over the top of Buffy's head.
Buffy scanned the list, rolling her eyes at a few of the things he’d written down. One item made her stop. “Are you serious?”
“What?” He peered at the list. “The handcuffs? Those could be fun.”
“No. This – “ She flicked the paper. “A cake with a file in it?”
“I like sweets? I need my iron?”
“But okay on the handcuffs?” He grinned down at her.
“We’ll see.” She frowned. “Extra sheets. You think we’ll be that messy?”
“Depends on if you bring the chocolate syrup.” Her cheeks turned pink, and Angelus chuckled. “I’m thinking more for privacy.”
“Oh.” Her cheeks grew even hotter. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“I’m not sharing you.” He stroked a finger along one hot cheek. “Not any part of you.”
“I’ll take your list.” Buffy leaned into the cool touch. “You tell Wes what he wants to know.”
“I’ll tell him whatever he asks about.” Angelus agreed.
“So long as it’s everything you know about the Beast thing.” She warned. “Or you stay in there and spend quality time alone with your fist.”
“All right, I’ll be a good boy.” One dark eye closed in a wink. “Gimme a kiss?”
“Give me a break.” Cordelia turned and stomped up the stairs.
“Since you asked so nicely.” Rising up on her toes, Buffy pressed her lips to his. She knew that wouldn’t be enough, and it was no surprise to feel the cool, wet tongue tease along her lips. Giving in was the only option on her list – Buffy liked short lists – and she chased his tongue back to warm his mouth with her own tongue.
Angelus cradled the back of her head with one hand, rubbing along her spine with the other. She was an aggressive, curious little thing, and he allowed her more liberty than he normally would have. No doubt he’d spoil the hell out of her once he sired her. And that’s bad how?
Nipping at her bottom lip as the kiss ended, Angelus gave her a reminder of who was the bigger and more dangerous animal. To his surprise, Buffy nipped him back.
Wes jumped at the low growl that rumbled from Angelus. “Buffy, perhaps you shouldn’t get so close.“
“It’s okay.” She ran her thumb over Angelus’ bottom lip. “Slayers have teeth, too.”
“You just wait…” Angelus promised.
Buffy smiled up at him before she walked away. Angelus biting her was something she knew was going to happen, so why worry about it.
Wes pulled a chair close to where the red line was painted on the floor and sat down. “Now, tell me how you first encountered the Beast.”
Yawn. Angelus watched Buffy walk up the stairs until she was out of his sight before turning to Wes. “Once upon a time…”
“Well?” Angelus looked up as Buffy came down the stairs. “How are the Svea priestesses doing these days?”
“They’re all dead.” She leaned against the cold bars. “This has all been just a big waste of time.”
“You knew it was.” He got up and walked over to her, leaning against the bars on his side. “And who knows what kind of nastiness the bad guys have been up to while these morons have been chasing down dead ends?”
“How does the First tie into all of this. Or does it?” Buffy closed her eyes wearily. “Is this two evils working together, or is this just a coincidence?”
“Maybe it’s a race? Like the cartoons?” He laughed. “McNasty gets to the finish before Grape Ape?”
“Only the good guys always win. I don’t think they’re going to win this time.”
“It’s not looking good.” Running a fingertip down her nose, Angelus tapped the funny little end. “On the other hand, you win either way.”
“How do you figure?”
“The good guys win, you get Soul Boy back. The bad guys win, you get me.” He kissed the end of her nose. “I think you’d rather have me.”
Buffy looked up into the chocolate eyes gleaming with lust. “You’re just horny.”
“If I were just horny, I’d have said yes to Cordy.” I am horny because Soul Boy feels guilty every time he dips his wick!
“Looks like they brought the stuff down.” Buffy walked over to where a mattress leaned against the wall. Lifting it, she carried it to the cage and slid it between the bars. It didn’t want to fit, but between the two of them, they forced it inside. Angelus carried it to one corner and laid it down.
“Here.” Handing him a stack of sheets, she eyed the sack sitting on the floor. “Lorne must have packed this.”
“Did he put in the goodies?” Angelus snickered.
“Candles, oil, and – “ She held up a pair of handcuffs. “I don’t even think so.”
“Oh, come on. We both have dominance issues.” He teased.
“No.” She dropped them on the floor.
“Why don’t you go freshen up?” Angelus took the sack and the large pillows Buffy handed him through the bars. “Put on something pretty for me.”
“I don’t have anything with me.” Looking down at her t-shirt and jeans, she frowned. “No way I’m asking Cordy – even if her clothes would fit me.”
“In the back of the closet, on your left, there’s a dark red silk shirt.” He licked his lips. “There’s a black robe with a dragon embroidered on it – all the way to the left side.”
“A dragon?” She arched an eyebrow. “Not Angel’s style.”
“It’s black on black, very subtle.” He grinned. “He gets some style from me.”
“That explains the leather pants.” For a moment, she stood and watched him plump the pillows and toss them on to the mattress. “Okay, red shirt, black robe.”
“Hey.” Angelus called after her. “Under the bathroom sink, there’s vanilla soap.”
“Why – “ She paused on the stairs. “Never mind, I probably don’t want to know.”
In Angel’s room, Buffy found the shirt and robe exactly where Angelus had said they’d be. Laying them on the bed, she stripped out of her clothes.
Vanilla soap – her brand – and shampoo – also her brand – were under the bathroom sink. “Angel, we’ve got to talk about the stalking thing again.”
Under the hot spray, Buffy tried to figure out exactly what she would say to Angel once they’d restored his soul. Would he understand, or would he see it as a betrayal? Did Angel even love her anymore? He might not care that she’d screwed Angelus. Then again, why did he have her soap and stuff?
“Soap and shampoo aren’t proof of anything, Buffy.” She told herself firmly.
Clean and dry, she slipped the shirt on, rolling up miles of sleeve before she could find her fingers to pull the robe on. It fit perfectly, and she wondered if Angel had gotten it for her. Twin dragons shimmered over the fabric, wrapping around each other in a subtle and erotic pattern.
“Sure won’t fit Cordy.” A smug smile curved her mouth. No way the hippy brunette could squeeze into this robe.
Pulling the heavy velvet comforter off the bed, Buffy wrapped it around her shoulders. She was not walking through the hotel in just the thin robe and Angel’s shirt.
Opening the door, she turned and looked around the room. “I should say something cool. Witty even.” She shut the door as she left.
Angelus closed his eyes and smiled as the scent of vanilla drifted to him. Vanilla and arousal. Licking his lips, he moved over to the door of his cage, watching eagerly up the stairs.
The first glimpse was a tease of bare feet and golden ankles between ripples of black silk. Then a flicker of calf. Angelus gripped the bars, leaning against them, straining to see more of her.
“Wow.” Buffy stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked at the cage, amazed at what Angelus had done with a few sheets. By tying them to the bars, he’d made a tent of sorts. Candlelight flickered inside, giving it an exotic glow.
“I’d go with exquisite.” Angelus frowned. There was a big ugly blanket wrapped around Buffy. “You’re spoiling the look, baby.”
“I thought this would be better for cuddling up after, you know?” She walked slowly to the cage. “We are going to?”
“You know? Oh yes.” He smiled. “We’ll you know a few times.”
“I meant cuddle.”
“We can cuddle. After.” Another smile, this one with a hint of fang. “You know.”
She paused next to the security camera, tossing an old tablecloth over it. “You’re going to shut it off anyway, right, Wes?”
“Against my better judgment, yes.” Wes nodded.
“Relax, Wessy.” Angelus smirked. “I’m not stupid enough to trap myself in a cage with a hungry fledgling. A hungry, pissed off fledgling.”
“My concern was more along the lines that you would kill her.” Wes countered.
“You’ve got it mixed up. I plan to kill you. And everybody else.” The smile didn’t reach the dark eyes. “Besides, if I turn Buffy, you’d just kill her or you’d stuff her soul back so she could be as fucked up as Angel is.”
“You don’t think I could handle it?” Buffy walked up to the door of the cage and motioned for Wes to come and open it.
“Slayer plus demon plus soul all in one package?” Angelus raised his eyebrows. “What do you think?”
“I think I don’t want to think about it.” She waved Angelus back.
“Of course, there’s always the old myth that a turned Slayer keeps her soul and just turns into a much harder to kill Slayer. A really pissed off, much harder to kill Slayer.” Obedient – for now – Angelus backed away.
“I’ve never heard that.” Wes slid the key into the lock.
“When’s the last known time a Slayer was turned?”
Wes paused. “I don’t believe I’ve ever read an account of a Slayer being turned.”
“Ever wonder why?” Angelus figured he knew why. It was too hard to stop feeding from them long enough to turn them. That and the prestige of killing a Slayer was too much for some vamps to resist. He was smart enough not to brag about the Slayers he’d killed. Why didn’t I ever stop and take a bite?
“Are we done with the history lesson?” Buffy stood to one side of the cage door as Wes pulled it open. “He’s not going to turn me. Nuff said.”
Not now anyway. Angelus leaned against the wall and waited as Buffy stepped inside the cage. He considered making a break for it, but Buffy and Wes would probably be able to slow him down enough for Gunn and Fred to fill him full of trank darts.
All he would get would be a good nap and a hangover. Angelus licked his lips as Buffy walked toward him. Pussy now. Freedom later.
The door clanged shut, and Wes quickly relocked it. “Let’s go.” He motioned for Gunn and Fred to leave.
“We’re not really gonna leave her in there with him?” Gunn waved the trank gun in Angelus’ direction. “He could kill her.”
“If Angelus wanted Buffy dead, she’d already be dead.” Wes pushed the barrel of the gun down and pointed to the stairs. “Buffy, we’ll be back in the morning.”
Pounce or not? Angelus could scent Buffy’s anxiety mixed with her arousal. She wanted him, but she wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her. But she wasn’t afraid. Interesting…
“Stop.” He held up his hand. “Stand still.”
Buffy stopped, uncertain what Angelus wanted.
“Drop the blanket.” He watched as the velvet comforter fell to the floor at her feet. “Open the robe.”
Obediently, she untied the belt and pulled the robe open. “I thought you’d – “
“Just jump you?” Angelus walked slowly to her, reaching out to touch her cheek. “Thought about it.”
“And?” She shivered as the cool fingers stroked her cheek.
“Too crude, too crass.” He ran his fingers through her hair, fluffing the honey blonde strands around her face. “Unbutton the shirt.”
Buffy undid the buttons slowly, one by one, trying to pretend she knew how to be sexy, then pulled the shirt open.
“No, don’t.” Angelus caught her hands and adjusted the shirt so that just a narrow strip of her skin showed. “Just a wee peek.”
“A wee peek?”
Sliding the shirt back off her shoulders, Angelus brushed her hair aside to expose her throat. “A hint of things to come, lover.”
The hard body brushed against hers, and Buffy leaned back into him. One cool hand stroked along her stomach while the other cupped her chin and tipped her head back to rest against his shoulder.
“My name must be Alice.” He whispered in her ear.
Angelus let his inner demon free, knowing that Buffy would feel the change. “Your blood is saying drink me.”
There was an art to feeding without killing, and Angelus was well versed. His fangs pierced the tender skin and eased into the jugular vein. Hot, sweet blood filled his mouth as he pulled his fangs back.
Buffy sagged against him, caught up in the sexual rush of the bite even as the rush of her blood hit him and jacked his senses through the roof. Angelus cradled her gently against his body, aware of every beat of her heart, every tingle of her skin. He groaned as he suckled at the blood that pulsed out of the wound. When he got out of here, he’d have to keep Buffy alive for awhile; feeding from her was too good to end too quickly.
Raising his head, Angelus watched the blood trickle down her throat to pool in the hollow of her collarbone. Delicately, he lapped it up, smiling at her soft moan. Buffy wouldn’t play the willing captive – no matter how much she might like it – but that could be fun too.
Angelus lifted Buffy into his arms and carried her to the bed he’d made for them. Laying her down, he knelt next to her and pulled the shirt open. Blood ran from the wound on her throat, more slowly now as her body rushed to heal itself. He dabbed his fingers in it and painted her nipples crimson.
“Lovely enough to eat.” Sitting back, Angelus stripped his clothes off and tossed them to one side. Buffy’s eyes flickered open, a greenish gray, and he smiled down at her.
The languid sexual feeling was lifting, and Buffy arched up into the cool, wet mouth suckling at her breasts. “Ang – Angelus – “ She was zonked but not zonked enough to call him by Angel’s name.
“You taste sugar sweet, baby.” Angelus kissed the pink nipples one last time before sliding down her body. Nuzzling through the dark gold curls, he sucked the sensitive bundle of nerves into his mouth, grinning at her cry of pleasure. Sugar was never this sweet.
The cool mouth warmed against her overheated skin, and Buffy tangled her fingers into his hair to hold him to her. Angelus lapped and suckled ruthlessly, forcing the electric ripples to pile up on each other.
“Angelus – wait – “ Angel had always taken his time and let her get there slow and easy.
“Sweet as honey.” One finger fit nicely inside of her, but two was better. Angelus licked the sweetness off as he pumped them in and out of her.
Bucking her hips up to meet his thrusting fingers, Buffy rolled her head back and forth on the pillow. Too good too fast. Jolts and sparks slammed into each other as they forced their way through her body. She couldn’t catch her breath, sucking in gulping gasps desperately.
Angelus waited until the silken muscles were clamping down harder and faster around his fingers before he pulled them out of her.
Grinning at Buffy’s cry of frustration, he slid his body back up over hers until his lips found hers. Her legs came up and locked around his hips even as he pushed his cock deep inside of her.
“Come on, baby – “ Grunting, he thrust harder into the soft, welcoming warmth. “Meet me there – “
Her experience with men was limited. Gentle, tender Angel. Caring, sweet Riley. Rough, hurtful Spike. They almost prepared her for aggressive, demanding Angelus.
The chocolate eyes were half closed, and there was an expression of tortured sexual pleasure on the angelic face as he pumped into her with hard, steady strokes. Reaching up, she tangled her fingers into Angelus’ hair and pulled his mouth down to hers.
“Almost there, baby – “ Her tight little pussy was squeezing the hell out of his cock, and his balls were trying to crawl up and join the party. “Almost there – “
They were going to do the romance novel thing and come at the same time. Buffy laughed between gasps for air. Digging her fingers into the flexing muscles of Angelus’ back, she arched up to meet his urgent thrusts.
It exploded all at once. Angelus growled and forced one last thrust deep into her, Buffy bucking up hard and crying out.
“Too fast – “ He rolled them over, pulling her on top of him. “That was – too damn – fast – “
“Good – ‘s good – “ She patted his chest. This was the first good sex she’d had in three years, and she wasn’t going to bitch.
“More to come, baby.” He felt around for one of the sheets and pulled it up over them. They’d worked up a sweat, but it was damp and cold down here, and he didn’t want her to catch a chill.
“Nap – I need a nap.” Yawning, Buffy snuggled comfortably against him. “I’ve had a tough day.”
“Take a little nap, baby.” He kissed her forehead. “You’ll need your rest.”
Nestled in the arms of her most dangerous enemy, Buffy drifted into peaceful sleep.
“Where is it?”
“It was here.” Wes stared at the empty safe. “No one has opened the safe since I changed the combination yesterday.”
“Well obviously someone has.” Cordelia smirked. “So now we’re stuck with Angelus.”
“No.” Buffy rubbed absently at a bite on her shoulder, trying to think. “We’ll figure something out.”
“Angelus had to have taken it. Who else would want Angel’s soul?”
“Exactly how would he have taken it, Cordy?”
Cordelia looked pointedly at Buffy. “Someone helped him.”
“Hi, I’m the girl who was locked in the cage with him all night.” Buffy held her hand up. “The one that you just let out a few minutes ago?”
“Cordelia, there’s no way for Angelus – with or without Buffy’s help – to have stolen Angel’s soul.” Wes examined the dial carefully. “This had to have been done magically somehow.”
“Okay, listen, what are we freaking about?” Buffy shut the safe, the gaping hole reminding her too much of her life. “We’ll just do the spell and put his soul back.”
“We can’t.” Pulling off his glasses, Wes rubbed at the bridge of his nose. “The Muo Ping is magical.”
“So is the orb of Thelma.” Buffy shrugged.
“Thesulah – and the Muo Ping is a different type of container, Buffy.” He put his glasses back on, bringing Buffy into focus once again. “The orb of Thesulah is a temporary container, holding the soul during the spell. The Muo Ping is a permanent container, holding the soul indefinitely.”
“I don’t – “ She shook her head. Why can’t they just use magical Ziploc bags?
“He means – “ Cordelia’s tone spelled out moron in neon letters. “It’s magically warded and we can’t just take Angel’s soul back out of it.”
“Whose bright idea was that?” They were acting like she was the idiot here. “Who said, ‘Hey, let’s put Angel’s soul into something that we can’t get it back out of’?”
“Buffy, it’s a rather complicated procedure to remove the soul – “ Wes tried to explain.
“But if we’d known you were so hard up – we’d have given you a call.” Cordelia snorted with laughter. “Although you’re not what makes Angel happy anymore.”
“And I suppose you think you are?” Buffy sat down in Angel’s chair. “I suppose you think it was you he was dreaming of?”
“How do you know he wasn’t?” The brunette smiled smugly.
“Because Angelus remembers Angel’s dream.” Leaning back, she put her feet up on Angel’s desk. “Seems like I’m still the big happy.”
Cordelia’s eyes narrowed, and her hands clenched into fists. For a moment, Wes thought that she’d strike Buffy, but the brunette turned and stormed out of the office.
“Dear Lord.” He sat down in the other chair. “This isn’t the sort of situation I was trained for at the Academy.”
“Don’t worry, Wes.” Buffy swung her feet down off Angel’s desk. “Cordy’s not much of a threat.”
“She’s changed, Buffy. The Powers That Be have given her extra abilities. She’s not the girl you knew back in Sunnydale.”
“I can see that.” For a moment, Buffy considered telling him about the dream she’d had last night. A crazy dream about Cordy and a baby. And blood, lots of blood. She decided to keep it to herself; it was probably just brought on by the craziness of the past few days. Weeks. Years. “I’m going to call Willow.”
“Buffy, the spell Willow has for restoring Angel’s soul won’t work in this situation.” Wes shook his head. “We need to visit the shaman who removed Angel’s soul – see what he can do.”
“Fine, let’s go visit this guy.” She stood up. “But if this doesn’t work, I’m calling Willow – and Giles.”
“If we need their help.” Wes was confident that the shaman had stolen Angel’s soul and reneged on their arrangement. A quick trip across town and all would be well.
The trip to the shaman had been a complete waste of time. He didn’t have Angel’s soul or know where it was. They were back to square one. Buffy couldn’t shake the feeling that someone – something – had arranged all of this just to take Angel out of the game. And Angel’s so called friends had walked right into the trap. Giles had said that Angel was important in some upcoming end the world battle. And now he was gone.
She sat with her back against the bars of the cage, listening to the others arguing. They had no clue why the chick in the business suit had tried to let Angelus out, or what the fuck was going on in general. Buffy sighed as Angelus rubbed her shoulders. The only good thing was that she had her own personal vampire masseuse. When evil took over the world, at least she’d be in good hands.
“Even though Lilah’s evil, I don’t see her hacking up all those people.” Fred was saying.
“And get blood on her expensive shoes?” Angelus muttered as he worked at the knotted muscles in Buffy’s neck. His baby needed rest, not all this stress.
“Okay, maybe it’s not just her.” Gunn admitted the point. “Maybe… maybe the big bad Beast had minions doing his dirty work.”
Well, hello! Don’t they always? Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Morons.” Angelus snickered. “The big rock doesn’t have minions. It is the minion.”
Buffy blinked. That hadn’t occurred to her. Then again, she wasn’t much on the thinker end of the slayage.
“No, it’s not.” Fred shook her head. “We’ve seen what it can do.”
“You’ve just seen the warm up act.”
“What are you saying?” Cordelia’s eyes narrowed.
“I’m saying there’s something bigger. Something worse.” Angelus lowered his voice dramatically. “The Beast has a boss.”
“Great.” Buffy sighed. “So is the First behind all this, too?”
“Could be.” He worked his fingers up into her hair and massaged her scalp. “The Beast was just a smash and slaughter kinda guy – not that I didn’t admire that. But no clue about the big picture.”
“That’s – that’s not possible.” Cordelia rubbed her hands together nervously.
“How did you survive so long being so retarded?” Angelus spared her a glance. She was awfully worked up over something. Her heart was pounding, and there was a definite tweak of fear in her scent.
“How do you know there’s something worse than the Beast?” Connor had moved closer to Cordelia.
“’Cos I have a brain, son. Rain of fire, destroying Ra Tet, blocking out the sun? Big freaking moves for a guy who has a rock for a brain.”
“Maybe he got smarter.” Cordelia said smoothly.
“And maybe I’ll just sprout wings and flutter away.” Chuckling, Angelus slid his fingers up to Buffy’s temples, gently massaging away the tension there. “There’s something else out there. Something more powerful and more vicious – something pulling all the strings for you little puppets. Oh, I don’t know about you, but I’m just dying to find out what it is.”
“I’ll bet you are.” Connor glared at the vampire.
“I’m calling Willow and Giles.” Buffy opened her eyes. Say what you wanted about Angelus, he knew how to get rid of a headache. “Maybe they can help. We’ve handled more of this kind of thing than you guys.”
“Buffy, we’ve had our – “
She cut Wes off. “I’ve had enough talking. I’m the Slayer, I slay. You talky talky – I kill things.”
“And she does it so well.” Angelus rubbed his cheek against her hair as best he could through the bars. “I get hard just thinking about it.”
“Perhaps we should give them a call.” Wes forced the words out. He didn’t want to call on the other Watcher – former Watcher – for help, but it was clear they were losing ground.
“We don’t need to call anyone.” Cordelia’s head snapped back, and her eyes turned white.
The hair on the back of Buffy’s neck rose and her skin crawled up into goose bumps. Just when you think you’ve seen it all... Behind her, Angelus huffed a breath into her hair as he laughed.
“I can bring him back.” Cordelia smiled, her eyes still an eerie white. “I know how to re-ensoul Angel.”
Buffy watched Gunn dig. He’d brought an extra shovel, but she’d made it a hard and fast rule to let the menfolk dig up the bodies. For a moment, she missed Xander. He’d have made this more fun. Not that she would have helped him dig either, but at least he’d have made jokes while he was digging. Instead Gunn was Mr. Pessimistic and Connor was Kid Sulky, as usual.
This felt wrong. She’d said as much to Angelus before she left to help dig up this soul eating thingy. It was more chasing off in the wrong direction. He’d agreed with her and told her to be careful. He could care less if they ever found Angel’s soul, but he wanted her in one piece. At least somebody cares.
Cordelia’s vision, if that was what it was, gave her a funny feeling. How convenient that these Powers That Be decided to tell them exactly how to put Angel’s soul back. From what Angel had told her in the past, Cordy’s visions had always been vague and mostly images and feelings. Not a Martha Stewart how to list of exactly what they needed to do.
Buffy watched Gunn jump down into the grave after his shovel hit something. She sat down on a headstone and waited. These things either popped up and needed to have their ass kicked or they were just a pile of bones lying in the bottom of the box. If it needed its ass kicked then she’d get up. If not, she’d let them carry the box to the car.
Gunn cried out as something reached up out of the box and grabbed his throat. Connor stabbed it through the back with his sword, and the creature let go. Gunn scrambled up out of the grave. It looked like something would need its ass kicked after all.
“You okay?” Connor asked as he walked around the edge of the grave.
Standing, Buffy shook her head – it was a wonder Connor hadn’t skewered Gunn. “Amateurs.”
“Oh, I so don’t need that kind of crap.” Gunn gasped out. “Let’s just chop its head off and get – “
“Let me guess…” She lifted Angel’s sword up into a defensive position. “It’s not in the grave anymore.”
“Okay, this thing is really starting to piss me off.” Gunn picked up his axe.
The soul eater moved incredibly fast, faster than any vampire Buffy had ever seen, but not so fast that she couldn’t track it. It moved around Gunn and Connor like they were standing still. When it finally stopped and put its hand on Connor’s chest, she walked up behind it and lopped its head off. Neatly and with no danger of taking Connor’s with it. Thank you, Giles, for making me practice my ass off.
She gave the two of them a smug look as they stared at the body. “So? Put it in the car.”
“Damn…” Gunn watched her walk back toward where he’d left his truck. “She’s good.”
“She’s the Slayer.” Connor smiled. Despite her lack of character in desiring Angelus, Buffy was exactly what he’d like in a girl.
“You know, I thought she’d be taller.”
When they arrived back at the hotel, Buffy walked to the weapons case and found fresh rags and oil to clean Angel’s sword. She’d already wiped it off with a shirt she’d found in Gunn’s truck. Hopefully it hadn’t been one he liked. You never knew what demon gunk would do to a good blade if it wasn’t cleaned off quickly.
Connor dropped the demon’s head on the table in front of where Cordelia was sitting. “We got the skull of the soul eater.”
“I’m just saying…” Cordelia made a face.
“It looks rather… fresh.” Wes looked over the top of his glasses at it.
“Yeah, we moved up its expiration date.” Gunn laughed at his joke.
Ignoring him, Wes turned to Cordelia. “Cordy?”
Cordelia closed her eyes and seemed to focus on something. “I just see the skull. It doesn’t have any…” Her lips curled down. “You know… parts.”
“Right. Take it to the kitchen.” He went back to the notes he’d been making. “Remove the flesh and soft tissue.”
Buffy looked up, feeling eyes on her. Connor and Gunn were both looking from her to the demon’s head. “No way. I killed it, you cook it.” Putting Angel’s sword away, she headed for the stairs. “I need a shower after all that work.”
Wes didn’t bother to hide his smile as Gunn reluctantly picked the dripping head up off the table and carried it to the kitchen.
“She’s such a show off.” Cordelia muttered.
Buffy was once again sitting on the floor next to Angelus’ cage, leaning on the bars. “I’d thought you’d be more upset than this.”
“Why should I be? It’s not going to work.” He reached through the bars and took her hands, lacing his fingers with hers. “I just hope I come out of it as more than a pile of dust.”
“I hadn’t thought about that.” She looked up at him. “Okay, now I’m upset about this.”
Cordelia and the others walked down the stairs and began preparing for the spell. Cordelia set the skull down in the center of a circle made of twigs while Wes set up white candles around the perimeter and lit them.
“Have you all lost your minds? You’re going to use black magic to restore my soul?” Angelus snickered. “People, this never goes well. Am I the only one paying attention?”
“Your soul?” Buffy raised her eyebrows.
“It’s mine.” Angelus shrugged. “Sort of.”
“Ten to one the entire hotel gets sucked into a hell dimension.” Lilah commented.
“You two – with the shutting up.” Gunn didn’t look up from arranging the chicken bones in the circle. Magic made him nervous enough without these two taking bets on how big a hole they were gonna make in the street.
“Talk about eleventh hour desperation.” Angelus ignored him. “Face it, you’re grasping at straws. No jar – no soul.”
Connor turned to smirk at him.
“Shush.” Buffy glared at Connor before the boy could say anything. ”Let’s just get this over with. My head hurts.”
“Poor baby.” Angelus cradled her head in his hands and massaged her scalp. “Why don’t you let me out and we’ll run away together?”
“Don’t tempt me.” She sighed as the cool fingers eased the pain in her head.
“You can have all the massages you want. You’ll never have a headache again.”
“Yeah, only I’ll be dead. Do vamps get headaches?”
“Frequently.” He lowered his head to kiss the honey blonde hair, glaring at the AI gang as he did so.
Wesley started to chant, and the flames on the candles roared up. The building began to shake and rattle ominously.
The ache in Buffy’s head grew as if it were being squeezed in a vise. She cried out softly. Angelus growled and pulled her as close to him as he could. “Don’t kid yourselves! I’ll still be around long after your corpses rot!”
White smoke began to pour out of the skull. It crawled across the floor to where Angelus crouched next to Buffy.
“I promise you – “ He snarled at the smoke as if that would hold it at bay. “This isn’t the end!”
The smoke wrapped itself around him and lifted him up from the floor, tearing Buffy loose from his grasp. He struggled, crying out as it crushed him until his ribs creaked and groaned under the strain. Dimly he heard Buffy scream.
In the center of the circle, the skull exploded. The smoke vanished, and Angelus fell to the ground again. His head bounced off the cement floor, and he tasted blood as his teeth caught the inside of his mouth.
He looked up to see Cordelia looking through the bars at him. Lorne and Fred were looking at him as well, hopeful expressions on their faces. What would Soul Boy say here? “I’m so sorry.”
“It worked!” Lorne smiled.
“Did it?” Connor didn’t see any difference. Then again, he hadn’t seen any real difference between Angel and Angelus to begin with.
“Fred…” Angelus sat up slowly.
“What?” She took a nervous step forward but stayed behind the red line.
“You came down the stairs…” He acted as if he had to search his memory. “You had blood… and I grabbed you.”
“I’m fine.” Fred smiled at him.
“The spell worked.” Cordelia said confidently. “I feel it.”
“We have to be sure.” Wes had gone to where Buffy had collapsed next to the cage. He kept a wary eye on Angel just in case Angelus was still in control.
“Angel?” Buffy sat up carefully.
“Buffy?” He turned to her and then looked away. “Buffy, I’m – I’m sorry.”
Her head was buzzing and she felt funny, like the time she’d had her wisdom teeth pulled. Buffy blinked and tried to get a good look at Angel.
“What’s wrong?” Angelus didn’t have to fake his concern. The damn spell these morons had used had affected his Slayer somehow.
“I’m certain the spell worked.” Cordelia said again.
“I’ll read him.” Lorne offered quickly. “Just loosen those pipes for me, beautiful.”
“I, uh…” This was going to be dicey. Something was in the air, but would it help him or not? “Okay… um… raindrops keep falling on my head. Do do do do do… just like – “
“It’s him!” Lorne smiled and clapped his hands. “It’s him, it’s Angel!”
It is? Angelus thought.
“You sure?” Gunn eyed the vampire in the cage suspiciously.
“Yes, yes! The aura has totally changed, and the vibe screams soul!” Lorne laughed giddily. “Oh bless you and your beautiful land line to the PTB, honey!” He hugged Cordelia and kissed her cheek.
“He’s back.” Connor shook his head.
“Buffy, are you all right?” Wes helped her to stand, letting her lean on him when her legs started to give out.
“Is she hurt?” Angelus went to where she was leaning on the bars and reached through to stroke her cheek. “Why is she – what’s wrong with her?”
“It’s possible the spell affected Buffy because she was re-ensouled.” Wes told him.
Cordelia’s head whipped around. “Re-ensouled?”
“Yes, when Willow brought her back from Hell.” Wes slipped his arm around Buffy’s waist to help hold her up. “Her body was resurrected and then re-ensouled.”
“You did this spell with Buffy here – knowing it might affect her?” Angelus snarled at him.
“I didn’t believe it to be a danger. It shouldn’t have affected her.” The former Watcher frowned.
“Looks like you were wrong!” It took all his strength to keep from reaching through the bars and snapping Wes’ neck. Once he was out of this damn cage, he’d make them pay. They’d just added a few hours to their deaths. Each.
“The spell was to pull your soul back to you – not to pull just any soul in – “ Wes turned his attention to Cordelia. “Isn’t that what it was, Cordy?”
“I guess.” She was still staring at Buffy. “There wasn’t anything in my vision about her being hurt.”
“It’s probably just temporary then.” He nodded.
“Buffy?” Angelus waited until Buffy looked at him, and then he looked away. “Are you all right?”
“I think so.” Everything felt fuzzy and far away. Buffy squinted at Angel. He looked odd, like one image overlapping another.
“You should go upstairs and lay down.” Angelus said softly. He looked at the mattress and tangled sheets and then looked back at Buffy. “Do you – want – the blanket back?”
“No.” Guilt hit her hard through the fuzziness. “I’m sorry. Please – ”
“No, no.” The stink of guilt coloring her scent made it easy for him to look away. “You had to get the information. Any way you could. I understand.”
“Angel, I – “
“It’s all right, Buffy.” Angelus gave her a sad smile. “The memories are mine. Even if…“ He turned away and walked to the back of the cage to stare down at the rumpled bed.
“Let’s get you upstairs.” Wes helped Buffy walk to the stairs. “A little rest will do you a world of good.”
Cordelia watched until Buffy and Wes were out of the basement. “Unlock the door.”
“No. I'm staying in here.” He said firmly. “I'm doing what's best for the group.”
”Since when is locking up the leader what's best for the group?” Cordelia countered.
“Since when does your vision come with a guarantee? For all we know, this spell is only temporary, and God forbid...” Angelus shook his head. “I can give orders from down in here. And the new ones are: no more backbiting, fist fighting, fraternizing, or vengeance. From now on, you focus on one thing – making it out alive. I'm only going to say this once. What Angelus told you was a lie. I haven't and will never give up on you. We'll get through this thing. Together.”
Lilah rolled her eyes at his speech. “I can't believe we didn't crush you people years ago.”
I can’t either. Angelus laughed mentally. They were completely buying into this crap. He snapped out orders and they filed away to act on them like dutiful little sheep.
Cordelia was the only one left in the room, and she walked over to the cage. “I thought I should tell you upfront that I don't take orders from guys too scared to step out of their cages.”
“I made the right call.” He put a little more guilty humility into his voice. “This way everybody stays safe.”
“And you don’t have to look anyone in the eyes. Bonus.”
He played verbal ping pong with her, stringing her along until he could convince her that she’d convinced him that he should come out. There was an odd feel to the conversation, as if Cordelia knew that he wasn’t Angel, but she didn’t want him to know she knew.
I know that you know that I know that you know? Angelus laughed softly, turning it into a cynical sigh for Cordelia’s benefit.
Whatever it was that was going on was working in his favor, and he watched as she unlocked the cage. He walked out. Cordy took his hand and looked up at him. “You’re not Angelus.”
Angelus let his features shift to show his true face. “Guess again!” He pulled Cordelia up against him.
Cordelia kneed him in the balls, making him grunt in pain and lose his grip on her. She darted inside the cell and pulled the door shut.
“Yeah, you’re safe in there.” Reaching inside, he slammed her head against the bars, knocking her out. She wasn’t worth eating, but she could be fun to torment later. “Stay down.”
Halfway up the stairs, his face slid back to human.
In the lobby, Angelus spotted Wes talking to a groggy Buffy. Fred was behind the counter, looking through a fat book. The others were absent.
It was too risky to try to take them all on now, and there was no way he could grab Buffy without looking suspicious. He noticed the monitor for the first time. Cordelia was lying on the floor inside the cage. Sooner or later, someone would spot her and the game would be up.
Should have fucking moved her! I am stale and therefore sloppy. Angelus slid out of the lobby before they saw him. He’d find something to eat and then figure out how to get what he wanted. Everything he wanted.
“How is she?”
“She’s fine, considering.”
Buffy looked at where Faith was leaning on the counter. “Considering she got her ass kicked?”
“Considering she’s lucky to be alive.” Wes corrected her. “Angelus would have finished her off if he’d been able.”
“He was able.” She remembered helping Wes carry Faith out of the warehouse. Angelus could have gotten around the sunlight easily enough if he’d wanted to. “He just wasn’t in the mood.”
“He wasn’t real happy over the sunshine.” Faith shot her a grin. “Pissed him off big time.”
“I’ll bet it did.” Buffy laughed, imagining the look on Angelus’ face as the sun came back out. “Doing a good deed for us was not on his list of things to do.”
“Hard to believe I was safer out here than in jail.” She grimaced and flexed her arm.
“At least out here you can defend yourself.” Giles had called to tell them that an attempt had been made on Faith’s life by the Bringers – or someone working for them. He’d felt she would be safer with them than locked up. “We’ll let you play with sharp things.”
“You know, B, I just wanna say I’m sorry.”
“Uh… oh... “ Faith’s apology threw Buffy for a moment. “Thanks, but for what?”
“For all the crap back in Sunny D.” The brunette chewed her lip nervously. “I never had anything when I was a kid, you know? And I really envied what you had, and I wanted it. You know, I’m sorry.”
“You’ve seen a shrink, haven’t you?”
“Yeah.” Faith smiled. “Angel sent this really cool guy – some kinda demon, I think – but totally cool. He’s helped me out a lot.”
It was easy to just blow off Faith’s apology, but Buffy knew it had to have cost the other girl a big piece of her pride to offer it. “Thanks, Faith. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you out then. I just didn’t see it.”
“’S cool.” She held her hand out. “And you know Angel never gave me more than he had to, right? He faked it, and I didn’t know ‘cos I’ve never had the real thing anyway.”
“I – “ Even after all that had passed, it still stung to remember Angel kissing and fondling Faith. He’d been pretending to be Angelus – and only because she’d asked him to – but it had burned like a bitch. She took Faith’s hand and shook it. “Someday you’ll have the real thing.”
“Looking at you two – “ There was a teasing tone to her voice. “Dunno if I want it.”
The sound of a shotgun being loaded with shells made them turn. Wes had a sawed off shotgun in his hands, and he was putting a box of shells into his jacket pocket.
“What are you doing with that?” Faith asked.
“Changing the game.” He told her.
“I thought we weren’t going for the kill?”
“We’re not.” Buffy walked toward Wes.
“We’re not.” He agreed. “But if we get another chance, I want to slow him down enough to trank him.”
“By blowing his legs off?” Fred sounded shocked by the idea.
“You want some help with that?” Gunn took a step back as Buffy whirled to face him.
“What kind of friends are you?” She turned back to Wes. “You want to blow big holes in him, and your buddy over there wants to help!”
“Angel will heal.” Wes reminded her. “I don’t intend to blow his head – or his legs – off.”
“That’s good to hear.” Faith said sarcastically. “’Cos for a minute I thought you were going to use that thing on him.”
“Angelus was ready for us at the warehouse, Faith. He had a diversion set up for Buffy so that you would be facing the Beast alone. We can’t risk that he’ll start picking us off one by one.” He finished loading the gun. “Angelus has to be taken down and brought back.”
“And this isn’t the way to do it.” Buffy snatched the gun out of his hands before he could move. “He’ll have this thing away from you and pointed at your head before you can blink.”
“She’s got you there, Wes.” The other Slayer leaned against the weapons cabinet.
“You have a plan, I suppose?” Realizing he still had his empty hands out in front of him, Wes dropped them to his sides.
“Yeah, I go get him.” Buffy shrugged.
“You want some help, B?” Faith called after Buffy as she walked out of the lobby.
“Got it covered.”
The doors closed behind Buffy. Faith waited a second before turning to Wes. “Okay, so do you have a plan?”
“As a matter of fact – “ There was a smile that didn’t reach the blue eyes. “I do.”
Angelus was not happy, and his new followers gave him a clear path as he paced around the confines of his new lair. Temporary lair. He snorted in disgust. A warehouse, who the fuck holes up in warehouses anymore? People who haven’t had time to find a luxury hotel with room service.
So far his plans had gone up in a puff of smoke. He hadn’t realized that Buffy was still in the hotel when he’d doubled back, or he’d already have his hands on her. Whatever fucking spell Cordy had whipped up had knocked Buffy on her ass. Then Lilah was already dead when he found her, and he didn’t even get to snack on her before the do gooders showed up.
He snarled, and two vamps who’d been lounging on a nearby sofa jumped up and moved to the other side of the room. Beasty boy had gone up in a big CGI flash just like he’d wanted, but the damn sun had come out of hiding. Buffy had fallen for the diversion that was designed to tire her out while he took out Faith. And then Faith had to bust the damn window so he couldn’t eat her for lunch like he’d planned. Not with Buffy and Wes so damn close that he couldn’t work his way around to her. And why the hell was Faith out of jail anyway?
And someone who sent him screaming messages in his head had Angel’s damn soul!
A slender brunette sidled up to him as he dropped into a chair. “Get the fuck away from me!” He snarled at her. “I’m not in the mood for pussy!”
His head jerked up. Buffy stood on the other side of the room. Great, now I can’t even sense trouble before it walks in. “How the hell did you get in here?”
“You have lousy security.” She looked at the vampires scattered around the room. “Well?”
Angelus rolled his eyes as they went at her. One by one, she took them out. Good help is fucking impossible to find these days. Propping his chin on his hand, he admired her form as she kicked, spun, and created general havoc amongst the group.
Wiping the dust of the last one off her hands, Buffy wrinkled her nose and tried not to sneeze. Angelus was applauding.
“I suppose you’re going to ask me to come peacefully?” He asked as she walked over to him.
“Something like that.” Her pace was casual as she walked over to where he sat, but Buffy kept her guard up. Angelus had treated her with care – but he’d also been locked in a cage. “I suppose you’re going to say no.”
“Something like that.” Smiling, he watched her walk to him.
When he made no move to get up, Buffy leaned on the table and looked down at him. Sprawled in the chair, he didn’t look dangerous. Sexy, but not dangerous. “So how do we play it? Big fight like last time?”
“As I recall… that didn’t go well for me.” He reached up and stroked a hand along her arm. “Baby, we don’t have to be on opposite sides.”
“Slayer – vampire.”
“Sire – chylde.” Angelus countered. “Mates.”
“You have to come back.” The image of being mated with Angelus made her face hot. She could see his lip curl up and knew he could smell exactly what his words did to her.
“Come back to what? To spend eternity in a cage?”
“We’ll put Angel’s soul back.”
“To spend eternity in a cage?” He repeated.
Buffy squashed the guilt at that. It wasn’t her fault he’d be locked up in Angel’s head. It was the gypsies. She yelped as cool fingers closed around her wrists and pulled her down onto his lap.
“We can be together, baby. Me and you.” The chocolate eyes were honest and sincere. For once. “We can be together and to hell with all of this.”
“I can’t – I have a duty.”
He struck before she could move. Between one blink and the next, Angelus had her head pulled back and his fangs were in her throat. Buffy brought her hands up to push him away, but it was too late.
Fire burned through her from his mouth to her breasts and down between her legs. Fire that made her arch up into his fangs, pushing them in deeper as he drank.
“Not just yet, baby.” Lifting his head, Angelus brushed his lips across hers, leaving them bloody.
Tugging at her jeans, he undid the buttons and pulled the material down. “Green panties? Not my favorite color.”
Buffy struggled to sit up, pushing at his chest when he leaned down to kiss her again. Angelus laughed, pressing his lips to hers despite her struggles. Her arms were heavy and her fingers numb. All the sensation in her body was centered on the ache between her thighs.
Vampire bites were addictive. She’d known that but didn’t think it applied to her. She was the Slayer – surely there was some magic mojo in her blood to keep that from happening.
Angelus stood and lifted her to the tabletop. He smiled down at her as he pulled her jeans down and off. “This last time will be the best.”
“No – “ Bringing her knees up, Buffy kicked out at him, but he caught her legs easily, using the movement to spread them open and step between them.
“Don’t fight it, baby.” He crooned to her as he tore her shirt open and lowered his mouth to one soft mound.
She cried out and arched up into the bite, her hands going to his head to hold him to her – force him to drink deeper.
Thoughts of escape – of the danger she was in – of saving Angel – were drowned beneath the sexual rush that tore through her body. The only thoughts were of Angelus’ fangs inside of her and his cool skin pressing into hers – of having Angelus’ thick cock inside of her to ease the pain.
Angelus let her tear his shirt open; he could get another one, after all. The hot, wet mouth on his throat and chest made his cock ache, reminding him there were better things to be had.
“When you rise, baby, it’ll be even better.” He tugged the buttons open and shoved his pants down. Rubbing the head of his cock along the slick wetness, Angelus closed his eyes and savored the sensations. “So good… “
“Now – don’t tease me – “ Locking her legs around his hips, Buffy pulled Angelus closer, lifting her hips so that he slid inside of her. “Yes!”
“Impatient little thing – “ He laughed as he braced his hands on either side of her head and began pumping into her with long, hard strokes. “Good things – come – to those who – wait – “
It was good, but she needed more. Rising up, Buffy slid her hands over his shoulders and neck, guiding his mouth to her throat again.
“So greedy – “ Licking at the bite marks still oozing sweet Slayer blood, Angelus found a tender and as yet unexploited place on her throat.
Pleasure – pure and perfect – filled her body until Buffy thought she’d explode. Each bite had brought more and more pleasure with it. Her skin became more sensitive, her body throbbing and aching to be touched. And she needed Angelus’ fangs buried in her body just as much as she needed his cock.
Fueled by Buffy’s blood, Angelus savored the heightened sensations. The soft rasp of her skin along his, her warmth to his coolness, the silk and steel of her inner walls clutching his cock, the sound of her heartbeat like a wild horse galloping and pounding out a strange double beat.
The part of his mind that had kept him alive for over two hundred years worried on that. He wasn’t fucking her to death – yet. A double heartbeat – another heartbeat?
Angelus grunted suddenly and snarled as something bit him in the back.
Ignoring Buffy’s cry of anger and frustration, he turned, nostrils flaring, scenting the air for danger.
Fear – anger – sadness – guilt – “Wes.” Grinding his teeth together, Angelus followed the scent, spotting Wes crouched up on the catwalk overhead. “I’m going to rip your head off and shit down your throat!”
“Angelus – no – “ Buffy reached for him as he stepped away. She hurt inside, aching and throbbing unbearably.
“Not now.” He barked at her. Something hit his chest, and he looked down. A trank dart was sticking out of his chest.
“What’s this – “ She plucked a dart from his back. Part of her recognized it before the urge to run her hands over his back made her throw the dart away.
His pants sagged, and Angelus spared a moment to pull them up and button them. Think I’d learn about getting caught with my pants down. Another dart slapped into his shoulder. So far they hadn’t even bothered him. “You’re gonna run out of ammo, Wes. “
The high from Buffy’s blood was countering the trank darts, just like he’d thought it would. Too bad you couldn’t bottle this stuff. Wes had to be pissing down both legs by now.
“I need – “ Buffy grabbed his arm. “I need you – “
“I know.” He shook her hand off. “Daddy’ll be right back.”
A step and he leaped up to the catwalk, landing gracefully a few feet from Wes. The leap was higher than he’d ever made without a running start or something to launch himself from.
Wes backed up, startled by Angelus’ move, and pumped two more shots into the vampire’s chest. “I have plenty of ammunition, Angelus.”
“Are those your last words?” Angelus could see more darts flying at him. He swatted one away but the other burrowed into his hand. “Should I carve them on your gravestone?”
Grimly, Wes dropped the spent rifle and picked up the second one he’d brought along. He’d noticed that Angelus hadn’t seemed as affected by the trank darts after he’d fed from Buffy and brought a spare just in case. Proper preparation is the mark of a great Watcher.
Fatigue was beginning to eat away at the boost of Slayer blood. Angelus stalked forward, trying to reach Wes before the drug sapped his strength completely.
Wes fired off the darts as fast as the rifle would allow, backing away in a steady, smooth motion so as not to throw his aim off. Not that Angelus wasn’t an increasingly large target. The vampire was staggering, but he was still moving with frightening speed.
As Angelus reached him, Wes pulled the rifle up toward his chest and let himself be driven backwards. Shoving the barrel up under Angelus’ chin, he fired the last shot. The shriek of agony made his ears ache, and Wes rammed the rifle barrel up into the soft underside of Angelus’ jaw, forcing the sharp fangs away from his throat.
The drug finally overpowered Angelus, and he sprawled bonelessly on top of the former Watcher.
“Not quite the way they showed us to do it at the Academy.” Wes panted. “You’ve trapped yourself under fifteen stone of immobile vampire.”
He shoved Angelus off of him, careful not to push him off the catwalk. The fall to the floor wouldn’t kill him, but it could hurt him badly. Once Angel’s soul was restored, they’d need him whole and healthy.
“In that vein – no pun, old man.” Wes tipped Angelus head back and examined the damage he’d done. The dart had buried itself well past the normal level and the needle itself had pierced Angelus’ tongue. No doubt the reason for the ear shattering bellow. “Luckily for Angel, he’s on a liquid diet.”
Taking out his cell phone, he dialed quickly. “Faith? He’s down. It’s a warehouse at 153rd and Industry. Yes, Buffy is fine.”
He snapped the phone shut. “I hope.”
Buffy was moving along the catwalk toward him, using the railing to keep herself on her feet. She was wearing nothing more than the torn shirt and bra, and she was panting heavily as if the effort of walking was too much.
“Buffy, everything is all right now.” Wes said carefully. “Why don’t you go back down and get dressed? Faith and Gunn are on their way to help us.”
“Angelus?” She looked down at the prone figure, a frown on her face. “He’s hurt.”
“He’s… sleeping.” Taking advantage of her preoccupation, Wes slipped fresh trank darts into the rifle. “He’ll be fine.”
“You – “ She wobbled and clung to the railing for support. “I need – “
“Why don’t you go back downstairs, Buffy.” Wes repeated.
“You hurt him.” Her eyes narrowed.
“He’s not hurt. He’ll wake up soon.” Casually, he pointed the gun in her direction. “We’re going to help him.”
“You hurt him!” Growling, Buffy pulled herself closer. Inside she hurt and throbbed with unreleased sexual tension. She saw the darts sticking out from Angelus’ pale skin – the dart lodged under his chin. “You hurt him!”
Wes fired a shot into Buffy as she lunged for him. Grimly, he waited to see if it would stop her before pulling the trigger a second time.
“You gonna shoot me, too?”
Whirling around, Wes found Faith standing behind him. “Dear Lord!”
“Nope, just me.” She snickered. “Want me to take care of B?”
“Please.” He laid a hand on his chest to ensure that his heart didn’t pound its way out. “It’s not as if I wanted to shoot her – “
“Hey, it’s cool.” The brunette shrugged. “She was coming after you – trank now and ask questions later was for the good.”
Faith lifted Buffy up in her arms and carried her down the steps, meeting Gunn on his way up with an armload of chains. He glanced away when he saw that Buffy was only half dressed.
“Tall, dark, and nasty down for the count?”
“Yep.” She nodded. “You better get those on him before he’s tall, dark, awake, and madder than hell.”
“I hear you.” He jogged up the last few steps.
Wes was pulling the darts from Angelus’ body when Gunn knelt down next to him. “Help me get him secured.”
“You had to shoot her, too?”
“Unfortunately. She was rather… agitated.”
“I got ya.” Gunn closed a manacle on one of Angelus’ wrists. “I know how vamps and their pets can be. Had one almost take – “
“Buffy is not a pet!”
“Hey, man, all I’m saying is she went into that cage with him.” Gunn smirked. “And judging by her lack of fashionable apparel – him and her must’ve been going at it hot and heavy when you got here.”
“Buffy is not a pet.” Wes repeated firmly.
They manacled Angelus’ wrists and ankles before wrapping him in several lengths of chain.
“What do we do now?” Gunn sat back on his heels. “Roll him down the stairs?”
“We’ll carry him down. Between the two of us and Faith, I believe we can handle the job.” Wes turned his attention to the dart still lodged in Angelus’ jaw. ”I think it would be best to remove this before he wakes up.”
“Damn – that’s gonna hurt like a bitch.”
“Which is why we should do it while he’s unconscious.” Grasping the protruding end of the dart, Wes tugged hard. The dart didn’t move. “Lovely. Gunn, ask Faith if she’s finished with Buffy.”
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Wes to do it himself, but seeing as how the man had managed to bag and tag not just Angelus but a Slayer – Gunn got up and leaned over the railing to yell down at Faith.
“She’s cool.” Faith yelled back at him. “Still out. But cool. Need me up there?”
“Wes needs you for a dartectomy.”
“And they say Watchers don’t know how to party.” Faith couldn’t find any buttons on Buffy’s shirt that had survived the massacre, so she settled for tying the shirttails closed.
Jogging up the stairs, she knelt next to Wes. “What’s up?”
“The dart is lodged rather firmly.” He looked up at her. “Buffy?”
“She’s okay, nothing like wrestling jeans onto somebody who’s passed out.” She grinned. “Makes me appreciate the guys who managed to pull mine off.”
With Faith, one was never certain if she was joking or not. “I don’t want to cause any more damage by trying to work it out. With your strength, I thought perhaps you could pull it out more easily.”
“Jeez, Wes.” Faith grimaced at the way the dart was jutting through the underside of Angelus’ jaw and into his mouth. “Remind me never to get you PO’d at me.”
Tearing off a piece of her shirt, Faith wrapped it around the end of the dart. She let the material soak up the excess blood for a moment. “Sorry, big guy.” She jerked the dart out in one smooth move. Even heavily tranquilized, Angelus’ body arched up and he grunted.
Fresh blood gushed out from the wound, and Wes quickly pressed his handkerchief to it. Angelus wouldn’t bleed to death, but there was no sense in letting him lose blood Angel would need.
“Gross.” Faith tossed the dart down. “Just freaking gross.”
“Let’s get him into the truck.” Wes put the dart in his pocket and wiped up the blood with the stained handkerchief. No sense leaving DNA lying about willy nilly.
With Faith carrying Angelus’ head and shoulders, Gunn and Wes managed to lift his chain wrapped legs. By the time they’d carried him down the steep stairs and loaded him into the back of Wes’ SUV, all three were panting and sweating.
“Here’s an exercise program you don’t hear about on TV.” Gunn leaned against the side of the SUV, trying to catch his breath.
“I’ll go get B.” Faith grinned at them. “Looks like you he men need a rest.”
“You gonna chain her up?”
Wes looked up at the question. “I hardly think that’s necessary, Gunn.”
“You had to trank her – you don’t think she’s going to wake up pissed off?”
“Possibly.” He smiled slightly. “Under the circumstances, I’m sure she’ll understand.”
“If not, you better keep the trank gun handy.”
Faith came back out of the warehouse, helping Buffy walk slowly and carefully to Wes’ SUV. “One foot in front of the other, B.”
“Are you all right, Buffy?” Wes asked gently.
Buffy looked up from watching her feet and blinked at him several times before answering. “Feel funny.”
“That would be the tranquilizer.” He opened the door so he could help her into the vehicle. “I’m very sorry.”
“’S okay.” She rubbed a hand over her face. “’S all fuzzy.”
“Put her in my truck.” Gunn ordered. When Wes and Faith turned to look at him, he shook his head. “She ain’t riding with Angelus.”
“Need I remind you that Angelus is both unconscious and restrained?” Wes motioned for Faith to put Buffy into the SUV.
“I said, she ain’t riding with Angelus!” Gunn slammed the door before Faith could get Buffy inside. Buffy jumped at the loud sound and clutched at Faith to keep from falling.
“Since when do you give the orders – “ Wes stepped forward to confront him.
“Hey, hey – “ Faith reached out and shoved Wes back a step. “It’s cool. I’ll put Buffy in with Gunn. What’s it matter where she rides, so long as she gets home?”
The two men glared at each other a moment longer before they broke eye contact and Wes stepped back.
“I’ll put B in Gunn’s truck.” She repeated as she led Buffy to the battered pickup. “It’s no problem.”
“It looks funny.” Buffy ran her hand over one of the large stakes mounted on the hood. “Did I get a tooth pulled?”
“Not this time.” Faith helped her into the cab and fastened the ancient seatbelt around her. “Comfy?”
“Um hmm… “ The blonde head dropped forward.
“You just sit tight. We’ll get you home and you can sleep it off.”
Wes watched as Faith quietly closed the truck door. A spot of pride warmed him. She’d come a very long way from the hostile, dangerous girl she’d been. If the Council rebuilt, he’d have to add to her journals and see that Faith was no longer called the rogue Slayer.
“We may have to put her down, you know.”
“What?” Startled from his thoughts, Wes turned to Gunn. “What did you say?”
“I said we may have to put her down.” The other man shrugged. “If he got her all strung out – we’ll have to.”
“We’ll do no such thing!”
“Excuse me?” Coming around the end of the SUV, Faith stalked up to Gunn.
Gunn looked from Wes to Faith and back again. “She may try letting Angelus out of his cage again.”
“In case you ain’t heard, Kojak, we’re putting Angel’s soul back.” Faith put her hands on her hips.
“What if we can’t?” He countered. “So far we’ve had no luck.”
“Cordelia’s spell isn’t our only option.” Wes told him.
“So we just keep trying the magical mojo until we hit the right spell?”
“I don’t see you comin’ up with a better plan.” Faith crossed her arms over her chest. “You gotta give Wes his due, man – he’ll figure something out.”
“Okay, so let’s say you do manage to put Angel’s soul back.” Gunn pointed at where Buffy dozed in the pickup. “And supposed she jumps his bones and lets Angelus loose again?”
“I would hardly think being raped by Buffy would give Angel the moment of true happiness the curse requires.” Wes snorted at the idea of Buffy dragging Angel down and forcing him to submit to her sexual advances.
“It might not be rape.”
“Hey – “ Faith took a step toward Gunn. “You don’t know Angel – you don’t know what he’s gone through – what they’ve gone through. I’ve seen them wantin’ and needing each other and not doin’ it because they knew what would happen.”
“And I’ve seen vamp pets and what they’ll do.” He didn’t back down. “If we have to put her down – another Slayer’s called up, right?”
Wes found himself speechless. This was a side of Gunn he’d never seen. Completely willing to kill someone who might be dangerous. Wes had wondered how Fred had found it within herself to kill her professor – and now he knew the truth. Gunn had killed the man. Angelus had been right – what other shreds of truth had the vampire revealed?
“Wrong. Buffy died and another Slayer wasn’t called.” Faith took another step into Gunn’s personal space. “You see, she’s already died once – and Kendra was called. Kendra bought it and then I’m the Slayer. Only there’s two of us ‘cos Buffy didn’t stay dead.”
Gunn backed up as Faith took another step. The SUV was cold against his back, letting him know he had nowhere to go that didn’t lead through angry Slayer.
“So the only way there’s a new Slayer is if I die.” She hit him in the shoulders with her hands, shoving him back into the SUV. “You gonna put me down – are you man enough to put me down?”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” He winced as she shoved him back again.
“Oh? Didn’t you?” Cocking her head to one side, she arched an eyebrow. “Sounds like it to me.”
“Look, all I’m saying is we need to watch her.” Gunn raised his hands up. “I’ve seen what people do after they’ve had a vamp feedin’ off ‘em for awhile.”
“We need to get back to the hotel before Angelus wakes up.” While he knew they needed to monitor Buffy’s behavior, Wes wasn’t going to admit it now in front of Gunn.
“Do I need to worry about you driving Buffy back?” Faith put a hand on Gunn’s chest when he started to walk toward his truck.
“No.” He tried to take another step and realized that he might as well try to pick the truck up and move it. “I ain’t going to hurt her.”
She waited a moment longer before moving her hand so he could walk away. She climbed into the SUV and sat facing Wes. The angle would let her keep an eye on Angelus and one out the back window as well.
“We will need to watch Buffy for a time.” Wes started the SUV and pulled out of the lot. “We will not, however, dispose of her as if she were a rabid dog.”
“If she is hooked – and I ain’t saying she is – “ Faith looked back at the chained vampire. “What are we gonna do? She’ll go right for him.”
“There is a method for curing someone who’s become addicted to vampire bites.” He grimaced. “If he’s shared any of his blood with her, the process could be quite painful.”
“Painful beats fatal any day, I always say.”
“Very true.” He unconsciously rubbed at the old scar on his throat. “I don’t believe that he has given her his blood, however. Angelus doesn’t want her as a pet or slave.”
“No, he wants to turn her.” She smiled, glad the darkness hid her face. “He’s an all or nothing kind of guy.”
“He is that.”
“I got bit once.” The confession startled her, popping out before she could stop it.
“You were? That wasn’t in Esme’s diary.”
“She may not have gotten a chance to write it down.” Faith blinked a couple of times to keep the damn tears down. “She put up with a lot of crap from me, you know, lots to write down.”
“Actually, she wrote that you were a very determined young girl.” Wes wanted to reach over and pat her shoulder or offer some small comfort. He settled for smiling at her in the dim lighting. “Esme was certain that you were an exceptional Slayer.”
“Yeah, well…” She shrugged. “Anyway, I was fighting this vamp and I let myself get in too close. He grabbed my arm and bit into my shoulder before I could get loose. And man – just the biggest freaking rush I’ve ever had.”
The effects of a vampire’s bite were well documented in the diaries of past Watchers as well as Council records, but nothing could top a firsthand account, and Wes found himself wishing he had pen and paper.
“I was down on my knees and hot for it – like – like – “ There was really nothing she could compare it to. “Take the absolute most horniest you’ve ever been and then take it times a hundred. I was ready to just be fucked into the dirt right then and there.”
“Sexual stimulation is part of the effect from what I understand.” His cheeks grew hot, and he was grateful the darkness hid his face.
“Stimulation?” She laughed. “Oh yeah, that’s one way to put it. But Esme, she came up and staked him before he got his teeth in my throat – which was where he was going next. Not in my pants. Which is kinda insulting, now that I’m thinking about it.”
“Perhaps he simply didn’t have time with your Watcher so nearby?” Wes chuckled. “Perhaps under more ideal circumstances?”
“I got my ass kicked – in the gripe you out kinda way anyway.” Once again Faith had to blink hard. Esme had yelled at her for several minutes while she bandaged the bite and then had hugged her really hard. “She bossed me around a lot, but you know – it was okay.”
“From what I’ve read of her diaries, I believe she was the perfect Watcher for you.” Guiding the SUV into the hotel’s garage, he pulled up close to the freight elevator and shut the vehicle off. “Better than I was for you, by far.”
“Hey, cut yourself some slack.” She smacked him playfully on the arm. “You were fresh out of Watcher school – you didn’t know the score.”
“Truer words were never spoken.” Getting out of the SUV, he walked around the back and unlocked the tailgate door just as Gunn’s truck pulled in and parked beside him. “Faith, would you please ask Fred to come help Buffy up to Angel’s room?”
“Sure.” She slid out of the seat and went inside.
“Gunn, please help me be sure Angelus is still secure.”
“Thought we had him chained down good.” Gunn got out of his truck and slammed the door.
“Just a precaution.” Wes waited until Gunn was nearly to the SUV before turning to face him. “Let me make sure that we’re clear on how Buffy is to be handled.”
“Hey, I know how to handle her if it’s too much for you.”
“There is a treatment for the addiction. Murder isn’t necessary, although one would assume you’re the man for the job if it were.” He waited until he saw the words sink in. “You have no idea of the kind of character and courage that Buffy has. She has withstood things – horrendous things – that would make other people go mad.”
“Okay, so she’s fought some vamps and – “
“No, it is not okay.” Wes thumped a finger into Gunn’s chest. “She has died – twice – she was resurrected and awakened in her own coffin – forced to dig herself out of her own grave. Buffy isn’t just the Slayer – she’s the Chosen One – she will save the world and mankind in the upcoming apocalypse. Being ‘put down’ by one such as you isn’t in her destiny.”
“I thought Angel was the big mover and shaker in the world ending stuff?” He took a step back and rubbed his chest.
“Angel is also a major player.” Wes raised his hand again, and Gunn backed up. “It is true that Buffy went into the cage with Angelus of her own free will, and it may well be true that she is addicted now – but you will not treat her disrespectfully, or you’ll answer to me.”
Gunn let his gaze drop; the other man’s eyes were too intense, and he could see that Wes would pop his ass if he had to. What happened to Mr. Nice Watcher Guy? “Hey, man, we’re cool. Didn’t know there was a way to cure it, okay?”
“You do now.” Wes turned as he heard Faith and Fred talking as they entered the garage.
“Hey.” Fred smiled at Wes.
“Winifred.” He smiled back. “Would you please take Buffy up to Angel’s room? She needs a shower, but I’m not certain that she’ll be awake enough.”
“Well, I’ll tuck her in if that’s what she needs.” She opened the truck door and smiled as Buffy gave her a dazed look. “Come on, Buffy, let’s go upstairs.”
“’Kay.” She slid carefully out of the truck. “Where’s Angelus?”
“He’s fine, Buffy.” Wes smiled and moved to where he would block her view of Angelus. “We’re going to take him downstairs.”
“Lock him up tight.” Slowly, she let Fred lead her inside. “I can’t keep doing this.”
“Let’s get lover boy in his cage.” Faith grabbed Angelus’ feet and tugged. “Damn, he’s heavy!”
“A few hundred pounds of chains will ruin a man’s figure.” Wes helped her pull him out of the SUV to where they could lift him up. “In – the elevator – quick – “
“Are you all right in there?” Fred chewed on her lip as she leaned on the bathroom doorframe. Buffy had said she wanted to take a shower, and Fred hadn’t blamed her one bit – there was blood all over her.
The shower had been running for several minutes, and Fred began to worry when she didn’t hear anything. “Do you need anything?”
“Oh – okay. Well you just holler if you need anything, ‘cos I’m right here.” Fred sat down in a chair by Angel’s bed. “I put a couple of towels in there, but you let me know if you need more.”
“I’ll just holler.”
“You do that.” Fred laughed nervously. Is she making fun of me? “Willow’s here now. She got here a little bit ago. She said you called her, is that right?”
There was no answer, and Fred got up to press her ear to the bathroom door.
Shrieking, Fred jumped. “Faith! Oh, my, you scared the bejesus out of me!”
“Sorry. Habit.” The other woman plopped down on Angel’s bed. “So she’s cleaning up?”
“Yeah. She’s been real quiet.” Fred shot a glance at the door as she sat down again. “There were bites on her neck and one on her – well, her chest, let’s just say.”
“Yeah, vamps bite.” Faith yawned. “I heard that somewhere.”
“Is he back in the cage?”
“Locked up and still out like a light.” There was a knock at the door, and Faith sat up as Willow came in. “Hey, Red, didn’t know you were here.”
“Buffy called me before she went after Angelus.” The redhead looked at the bathroom door. “Is she all right?”
“Far as I can tell.” Faith laid back on the bed again. “Angelus bit her and Wes tranked her, but other than that? Not much of an evening.”
“I’ve got an idea how we can put Angel’s soul back.” Willow said excitedly. “I just need to get some things together.”
“What do you need?” Fred stood up. “I know where everything is.”
“Let’s go.” Willow shot another glance at the bathroom door. “Tell Buffy I’m here, wouldya?”
“Sure.” Faith watched them walk out, a smirk on her face. “Don’t know if I’m surprised or not.”
“About Red being on the other team.” She turned back to see Buffy standing in the bathroom doorway, an oversized purple terrycloth robe wrapped around her. “I think she was checking Fred out.”
“I was surprised.” Walking over to the chair Fred had vacated, Buffy sat down. “Of course, I’m not the brightest light in the universe.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Funky like all drugged up or funky like you want Angelus to bite you again?”
“Wow, cutting to the heart of the matter.” She slumped back in the chair. “Same old Faith.”
“I tried tact.” Faith shrugged. “Didn’t like it.”
Knowing Faith would only ask again if she didn’t answer, Buffy mirrored the shrug. “Funky as in drugged and tired.”
“Willow’s got a plan for putting Angel’s soul back.”
“I knew she’d come up with something.” A fond smile curved her lips. “I can always count on Willow to figure out a way when everybody else is stumped. Of course, everybody else is usually Xander and Dawn.”
“What about the G-man?”
“Giles? Oh, he’s never stumped.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “He’s always still researching, so therefore was not of the stumped.”
There was a knock at the door, soft and polite. Buffy pulled the edges of her robe closer together. “Come on in, Wes.”
“Buffy, how are you feeling?” Wes asked as he walked into the bedroom. That Buffy had known he was the one at the door didn’t surprise him.
“I’m fine, Wes.” She frowned. “Though, if one more person asks me that, I may get violent.”
“I’d like to apologize for shooting you.” He sat down on the bed next to Faith.
“’S okay, not like I left you any choice.” Buffy looked away; her face felt really hot, and she knew pink and purple weren’t the best fashion choices.
“I followed you, but far enough back so that you wouldn’t know I was there. That did leave the possibility that Angelus would feed from you and turn you before I could get there.” Wes rushed through his explanation, which had seemed quite reasonable in the elevator. “However, I believed that he would want to have one last… sexual encounter… with you before he turned you.”
“Nice of you to take that chance with my life.” She glared at him. “You could have told me.”
“I didn’t want to risk tipping my hand.” He hesitated. “There was the chance that you’d tell Angelus.”
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I just – “ Buffy pulled the robe up over her face.
“Hey, B.” Faith nudged Wes and gave him a dirty look. “He’s a hottie, you know? I’d have taken him for a ride, too.”
“Buffy, there’s no reason to be embarrassed.” He leaned forward and patted Buffy’s knee awkwardly, as he thought Giles might do. “The effects of a vampire’s bite are nearly impossible to resist. The intense sexual feeling often leads to the victim cooperating – participating even – in their own rape and murder. It’s quite well documented.”
“I’m the Slayer – not your average bimbo.” Came the muffled reply.
“And you have how many bites? Three? Four?”
That was true. At least she hadn’t ripped her clothes off after one little nibble. “Four. Wait, are we counting the ones in the cage, too?”
“In the cage?” Faith's eyebrows went up.
“What’s not documented, however, is the effect of a Slayer’s blood on a vampire. It took over ten darts to bring him down.” Wes smiled at her as she looked up out of her robe again.
“He was pretty mad.”
“He was fairly angry before and at the most, two were required. Interesting…” He patted his pockets looking for a pen and notepad. “We’ll have to ask Angel about this effect.”
“You will.” She looked down at her toes peeking out past purple terrycloth. “I doubt he’ll be talking to me.”
“Come on, B.” Faith snorted. “You’re his girl. He’s gonna be all over you like white on rice – well, as much as he can anyway.”
“Buffy, Angel won’t blame you for this.” Wes didn’t agree with Faith on Angel’s being ‘all over’ Buffy, but he did think that Angel wouldn’t hold it against her. “I honestly don’t believe you had a choice once you were bitten.”
“I shouldn’t have gotten close enough to be bitten – “ She’d just sat there on Angelus’ lap and forgotten how dangerous he was.”And what about before? In the cage?”
“I don’t believe you had a choice there either.” Wes said gently. “We needed the information.”
“I missed that part.” Faith looked from one to the other. “You really went in the cage with him? You go girl!”
“Faith…” Buffy hid her face again.
“Faith, do behave.” Standing up, Wes shook his head as she stuck her tongue out at him. “I’m going to help Willow prepare for this ‘smasho’ spell of hers. She’s most unorthodox.”
“But she kicks magical ass.” Faith told him. “Who’s watching Angelus?”
“Gunn and Connor.”
“His two favorite people.” She rolled off the bed. “I’m gonna go make sure he doesn’t accidentally fall on a stake or something. Come on down, if you want, B.”
“Why not?” Buffy didn’t look up out of the robe. It was comforting and warm inside the terrycloth. Maybe she’d just stay here for the rest of her life. Or at least until the oxygen ran out.
“You deceitful bitch!”
“Hello to you, too.” Buffy said to Angelus as she walked up to the red line painted on the floor.
Angelus was pacing back and forth inside the cage, scooping up anything he could find and tearing it apart. Feathers were scattered everywhere, and strips of velvet and silk littered the floor. Candles were smashed against the walls, scenting the air with vanilla.
“Wasn’t he chained up?” She asked Faith.
“Figured with him in a cage, it didn’t make any difference.” The other Slayer shrugged. “And this way we don’t have to unchain Angel when we’re done. That coulda been a mistake, though.”
“You could have had everything!” He snarled at her. “And you threw it away!”
“I didn’t know Wes followed me.” Buffy told him.
“Guys, let’s go upstairs.” Faith jerked her head toward the stairs. “Give them a little quality time.”
“I’m not going to leave her alone with him.” Gunn shook his head.
“I’ll be here. I’m think I’m a little more a match for her than you are.”
“What about me?” Connor challenged.
“Kid, don’t make me kick your ass.” She laughed. “Besides, I think Cordelia needs you to fetch and carry for her.”
Connor stomped off. Gunn followed slowly.
“Relax, Gunn, I’m only going as far as the top of the stairs.” Faith told him as she followed him up the stairs. “Buffy’s okay, but just in case – I’ll be right here.”
“I didn’t know Wes was following me.” Buffy ducked as a candle holder came flying out of the cage. “He didn’t tell me.”
“You’re a lying bitch!”
“You know me better than that.” Deep inside of her was a stirring of excitement as she watched him pace back and forth, snarling and growling, his eyes flickering from gold to brown and back. “When have I ever been a liar?”
“You’re a woman – “ Angelus growled. “It was bound to happen!”
There was a rumble, and the walls shook. Faith closed her eyes. Great. An earthquake on top of everything else. A strange howling sound made her eyes pop open again. That wasn’t an earthquake kinda sound. Weighing the danger of what was out there versus what was down here, Faith jogged off toward the lobby.
“Willow’s going to fail – just like Cordy did – “ Looking up at the top of the stairs as the shaking grew stronger, Angelus grinned evilly. “And I’m going to get out of here and make you pay!”
“You want to make me pay?” Buffy stepped over the line. “Go ahead.”
Angelus’ hands shot out before she took another step, locking ruthlessly around her throat. “You could have had it all, baby – but you wanted that spineless rat eater!”
The cool fingers tightened around her throat, and Buffy closed her eyes. Maybe this time she’d get to stay in heaven. She pushed down the urge to fight back as the pain squeezed off her air. Not this time.
She was going to let him kill her. Angelus forced his fingers to tighten. Why wasn’t she fighting him? He didn’t want to kill Buffy, but if he couldn’t have her – then nobody could. Why isn’t she fighting me?
Pain hit him, tearing and burning a path through his body. He couldn’t hold back the shriek of agony as mystical energies blasted him. “No – not – “
Buffy opened her eyes as Angelus fell to his knees, pulling her with him. The chocolate eyes were open wide, staring off into something only he could see. A golden glow flared up in them and then his head slumped forward. His fingers were still around her throat, locked in a painful grip.
Gasping for air, she realized that his thumbs were stroking along her throat as his grip loosened.
“Buffy?” There were bruises on her throat. Bruises the size and shape of his fingers. Angel stroked them carefully. “Did I – “ The memories began filling in. “I did. Buffy, I’m sorry.”
“It – “ She cleared her throat and smiled at him. “It’s okay.”
“No, it's not.” Angel leaned forward until his forehead rested on the bars. “Are you mad at me?”
“Are you mad at me?” Reaching up, she stroked her fingers over his face.
I am! Does anybody give a rat’s ass about me?
No. Angel shoved the demon into the back of his mind.
I wouldn't've killed her. Angelus snorted. Get over it.
“Buffy?” Wes approached the pair carefully.
“Unlock the cage, Wes.” She stood up, rubbing at her throat.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” There was no way Angelus could ever fake the soul in Angel’s eyes. Or the guilt.
“I’d suggest I read him, but we know how well that went last time.” Lorne watched nervously as Wes unlocked the cell.
“Someone blocked you.” Angel told him. “Buffy too.”
“That’s what I’ve been pondering as well.” Wes held his hand out. After a moment, Angel shook it.
“They’re the only ones who’d really be able to tell.” Willow came down the stairs, her face glowing with triumph. “Angel, hey.”
“Willow.” He smiled wanly. “We have to stop meeting like this.”
“People will talk.” She grinned. “Let’s go upstairs, I’m all done with cold and damp.”
“So am I.” Angel looked at the cage.
I nailed Buffy and you’re just jealous…
“So… you’re not mad at me?”
“Buffy, if I’m mad at anybody, I’m mad at myself.” Angel leaned on the railing and looked out at the horizon. Dawn was coming; there were pale pink threads climbing along the very edge of the darkness. “I knew it was a complete waste of time, but I let them talk me into it.”
“More magic maybe?” Buffy was leaning on the railing next to him, as close as she dared without actually touching him. “Wes is downstairs trying to figure out how he overlooked something as obvious as magical tampering.”
“That should keep him busy for a few days.” Ducking his head, Angel rubbed at his eyes. “At least I didn’t kill anybody – I knew – this time.”
“Don’t do that.” She risked touching him to pat his back. “Don’t feel guilty.”
“I’m not.” He turned to look at her. “I warned them, and I did everything I could to keep him from getting out of that cage. It’s on their heads this time.”
“So who killed, what’s her name? Lilah?”
“Lilah, yeah. I don’t know.” Shaking his head, he turned and leaned back on the railing. “She was dead when I – Angelus – found her. Stabbed in the throat.”
“And left where you could be blamed.”
“Not hard to pin murder on me.”
“I’m gonna take Faith home with me. Giles thinks she’ll be safer there.” A laugh escaped her. “He thinks she’ll be a great help training the potentials, too.”
“She’s changed, Buffy. Faith has come a long way.” Angel frowned as Buffy laughed again. “You should give her a chance.”
“Not her – the potentials.” The green eyes lit up with humor. “They’re a bunch of whiny girls who’d turn tail and run if they saw a vamp. Besides the one chained in the basement.”
“You have a vampire chained in the basement?” His eyebrows went up.
Now she gets kinky? With some other vamp?
“Spike.” Her humor faded. “He’s kinda crazy.”
“What else is new?” Angel snorted.
“No, I mean really crazy.” Should she tell Angel or not? Buffy looked up at him and then shrugged. “He came back from wherever he went with a soul.”
“A soul. He’s got his soul back.”
Those damn gypsies get around.
“I don’t know.” Shrugging, Buffy leaned back on the railing next to him. “He’s said something about trials, but he’s really nuts right now, so I don’t know.”
“If he’s going through what I did – “ Angel shuddered. “Buffy, he’s going to need help.”
We are not helping him! Angelus snarled.
“Can I bring him to you – “ Reaching out, she took his hand. “I know you hate him, but, Angel, nobody but you knows what he’s going through.”
“You always want to save everyone.” Tugging on her hand, Angel pulled her into his arms. His chin went down to rest on top of her head. “I will if you make me, how’s that?”
“Fair enough.” Buffy tipped her head back and nuzzled the soft, cool skin under his jaw. “Does it still hurt?”
“Just a little.” Luckily for him, Buffy’s blood had sped up his usual rapid healing, and the damage done by Wes’ dart was almost healed. “I owe him for that one.”
“I think he was pretty desperate.” She giggled. “And you squished him, he said.”
“That’s right, make fun of the guy who wasn’t even there.”
“Angel, when I was with Angelus…”
Her voice was soft, whispered into his throat, but Angel heard her. “They’re my memories now, Buffy. It’s almost like we were together. I mean, he was – different – than – I would’ve – well, it’s almost the same.”
What the fuck ever.
“Are you embarrassed?” She kissed the still healing skin. “I mean, I’m embarrassed, but then I was pretty skanky.”
“You were not. And no, I’m not.” It was torture the way she still fit so perfectly into his embrace. “I can’t blame you. Hell, if I got the chance to make love to you like that – with no worries – I’d do it.”
“You would?” Leaning back, she looked up at him. The chocolate eyes were full of love and sadness. “Really?”
“In a second.” Angel lowered his lips to hers, savoring the sweet warmth there.
Tongue – use your tongue, moron!
Ignoring the demon, Angel jumped when Buffy’s warm tongue slid over his lips.
Now see, she’s smarter than you are…
The kiss went as far as they could let it go, hands sliding over each other’s bodies in the safe areas and tongues playing and loving with each other. Angel groaned when Buffy rubbed herself against his hard on. Reluctantly, he pushed her back a step.
“I’m not sorry.” She panted. “I’m not.”
“Me either.” Smiling, he led her inside and closed the balcony doors as the sun began crawling up over the horizon.
There was a moment of awkwardness. Both holding back what they wanted to say. Angel pulled her into his arms for a rough hug. "I love you." He whispered into her hair. "It was you – it was always you."
"For me, too." She flattened her hands against his back and pressed her nose to the cool skin of his throat, breathing in his earthy scent. "It's always you."
Reluctantly, he let her go and stepped back. They would have to wait. Angel put as much of his hope and love into his gaze as he could. Buffy smiled at him, and he could see the same feelings in the green of her eyes.
“Walk me downstairs?” Buffy held her hand out to him.
“A gentleman always escorts a lady home – or at least to her car.” He frowned. “You drove here?”
Now that’s scary as hell.
“Shut up.” She elbowed him.
Downstairs, Willow and Faith were standing by the front doors, waiting on her. Willow was clutching a large book. Of course, what was a field trip without souvenirs?
“Are we ready already?” Faith said impatiently.
Buffy smiled. Faith had no idea what was waiting in Sunnydale for her. “Anytime you are.”
“Let’s go then.” She held a hand out to Angel. “See ya, big guy.”
“Take care of yourself, Faith.” He shook her hand solemnly. Angel could see that she wanted a hug but that she’d belt him if he tried. “Try not to be too hard on the new girls.”
“Okay, let’s go.” Willow waved a hand at the doorway.
“Willow…” Angel cleared his throat.
“He’s going to tell you how much he owes you.” Faith butted in.
“We both do.” Buffy glared at Faith. “All of us do.”
“Aw, that’s okay.” Willow’s cheeks pinkened as she stepped forward to give Angel a hug. “Don’t mention it. We got an extra Slayer out of the deal, so we’re even-steven.”
Angel hugged Willow firmly, trying to let her know how grateful he was. “Thank you.”
Buffy waited until he’d let go of Willow to get in another hug and a quick kiss. Angel kisses were not to be passed up. They had to be stored away for rainy days. “You call me if you need anything.”
“You too.” He rubbed the end of her nose with his own.
“Let’s go, people!” Willow started for the door. She paused just before she reached it. “Oh, um, the next time you guys resurrect Angelus – call me first, okay?”
Faith pushed her out the door. “For someone wanting to leave, you’re not moving.”
Buffy followed them outside. “Faith, you’re riding with Willow, right?”
“Uh… yeah.” The other Slayer shrugged. “Sure.”
“I think she needs some alone time.” Willow watched Buffy get into her car and drive off. “You can tell me all the good stuff on the way back.”
“Cool.” Faith got into the car, tilting the seat back and closing her eyes. “I’m so freaking tired.”
Willow started the car and pulled out into the street after Buffy’s car. “Take a nap.”
“Just hope I don’t have that crazy dream again.” She yawned. “Cordy was in it.”
“That’s just scary.”
“And Connor – that kid is weird anyway. And a baby.”
“Cordelia?” Willow laughed. “Cordelia with a baby?”
“And blood. Man, like blood all over.” Faith shivered. “Gimme a dream of some hot, sexy guy instead.”
“Ditto. Only – “ She grinned. “A hot and sexy girl.”
“Call it a threesome and I’m there.” Yawning again, Faith drifted off to sleep.
Willow wondered if she should tell Buffy about Faith’s weird dream. “Nah… can’t be a Slayer dream. Just fallout from being around Queen C. Cordy with a baby? Like that’ll ever happen. Yeah, and we’ll have world peace, too.”
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