Love Me When I’m Gone ~ Chapter 13




Angel walked slowly, cautiously, through the grass, watching the building for signs of life. He had his gun drawn, held firmly but relaxed, ready for anything. A target popped up and he brought the gun up in line with it, recognized that it was an “innocent bystander” and lowered his gun again.


In the stands, Buffy watched proudly as Angel made split-second decisions on whether or not to shoot the targets that popped up or slid into place in the fake building.  It felt good, normal, to watch her guy compete


“Wow, he’s really good at this.”


“You’ve never seen him shoot?” Yokas eyed Buffy curiously. From what Crawford had told her and Bosco, Buffy was an old girlfriend of Booth’s.


“No, no – I’m not a big fan of guns.” Buffy shook her head. “I’m more into um… hand to hand, martial arts, that kind of thing.”


“No weapons, huh?”


“Well, I like swords, and I have this really cool scythe. It’s got an axe at one end and a stake at the other – “


“A stake?”


“For vampires. You know, if they’re close and – “ She bit off what she was going to say. “I ah… I role-play um…games and uh… stuff.”


“Oh, like the Renaissance Faire things?” Yokas nodded. “I’ve seen pictures and stuff. Looks like fun.”


“Oh, yeah!” Buffy nodded her head vigorously. “So much fun!”


“So you don’t go in for the long dresses and stuff?” She eyed the younger woman. “’Cos if I had your body, I’d be dressed like one of those fairy princesses or something.”


“Well, it’s not all fighting, I love the dresses and the shoes.” Buffy smiled reassuringly. “You have a great figure.”


“Please.” She rolled her eyes. “Next to you, I look like a horse. If I could kill someone to be a little petite thing – just give me a name.”


Buffy laughed. From someone else, she might have been offended, or worse, worried the other person didn’t like her. With Yokas, she got the feeling the other woman was just being blunt and truthful.


“It’s not always fun to be petite. I get a lot of attitude. Nobody thinks the cute little girl can kick their ass.”


“I get the feeling that doesn’t last long.” Yokas wasn’t sure she bought Booth’s story that Buffy was with Interpol, but there was something dangerous about the other woman. Something that bubblegum lipstick didn’t hide. “So, you and Booth used to date?”


“Booth?” Buffy frowned, and then remembered. “Oh, Booth, yeah, we go way back.” She smiled, remembering how she and Angel had met. “It was in ninety-six, right after I moved from LA to Sunnydale.”


Yokas did some quick mental math. Buffy looked to be in her mid-twenties, which would put her in high school at that time. ”You were dating in ninety-six? Booth’s a little older than you are, right?”


Too late, Buffy realized her mistake. “Ninety-nine? I mean, ninety-nine. My freshman year in college. ‘Cos otherwise, I’d be like way too young.”


“Oh, ok, sure.” That was better, but not by much. Booth was at least ten years older than Buffy and Yokas doubted that Buffy had made a mistake. Then again, seeing the two of them together, she didn’t doubt that they loved each other. The real question was why had they split up in the first place?


A cheer went up from the section of the crowd they were sitting in, and Buffy realized Angel had finished with the round. She stood up and clapped and cheered with them. “Go, Angel!”


She caught the looks thrown her way by the FBI agents nearby. “That’s my nickname for him. Sweetie, honey, angel –  you know?”


Some of them laughed, but one of the men hollered up at her. “You can call me whatever you want, honey, just call me!”


A flush crept up her cheeks as the people around her laughed.


“Don’t worry about him.”  Another agent told her as he elbowed the one who’d spoken up. “He’s all bark and no bite.”


No bite? Buffy giggled at the image that popped into her head of Angel vamped out and fangs bared. “Ah, yeah, but I gotta have a guy that bites.”


Stepping carefully around the other spectators, she made it to the bottom of the stands just as Angel’s score was announced. The time and scoring didn’t mean anything to her, but she knew from the triumphant look on Angel’s face that he’d won.


“Ladies and gentleman, first place in the range competition goes to…” Came the announcement over the loudspeaker. “Special Agent Seeley Booth of the FBI!”


Angel put his hands on her waist and hoisted her up, smiling at her. “Did you hear that? I won!”


“And me without my pom-poms!” She laughed as he let her slide down his body, his lips catching hers. Oblivious to the crowd, they kissed passionately


“Jeez, man, leave something for the rest of us.” Bosco thumped Angel on the shoulder, interrupting the kiss.


“You’ve got your own girl.” Angel pulled away from Buffy long enough to eject the partially spent clip from his weapon and slide a full one in. The used one went into his jean pocket so that he could refill it later.


“I’m not talking about Buffy, I’m talking about the competition.” Bosco shook his head. “You disappear, then show up and take three events in a row.”


“Jealous?” Pulling Buffy against his side, he pressed a kiss to the top of her head. She wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled into him.


“Whatever.” Bosco waved away the implication. “I got a girl to impress too, ya know?”


“Please.” Yokas was standing on the last step of the stands. “Like I haven’t seen you shoot holes in targets before?”


“Whatever.” He said again. Coming in second wasn’t something Bosco was used to. Not at this. He didn’t like the feeling.


Crawford held a hand out to Yokas. “As much as I hate to admit it, I have to agree with Bosco.”


She accepted the help down, elbowing Bosco when she was next to him. He rarely played the gentleman, but it would have been nice if he had, especially when Booth had made such a display of picking Buffy up as if she weighed nothing.


Then again, if Bosco had tried to lift her off the step, they’d have both ended up on the ground. Yokas couldn’t suppress a laugh at the image.


When the others looked at her curiously, she explained. “I’m just thinking how silly you guys are. You’re taking the top spots in all the events so far – you know there’s guys that’d love to shoot all three of you.”


Crawford chuckled. “I suppose that’s true. However – “ He held up a finger to get their attention. “ – we wouldn’t be on top if we weren’t extra competitive.”


“Still… “ Bosco gave Booth a sullen look. “Isn’t sex supposed to weaken your legs or something?”


“Bos, if that were true, you wouldn’t be walking.” Yokas slid a hand along Bosco’s shoulders to soothe his ruffled feathers. His ego was delicate – under the bravado, he was insecure and unsure of himself.


“In this case, sex has only sharpened my skills. Put me in touch with my real self.” Angel realized as he said it, that it was the truth. He was able to access another, deeper part of himself that made the competition seem almost ridiculously easy. Sex probably didn’t have anything to do with it, but it hadn’t hurt him, either.


“Mr. Alpha Male.” Buffy squeezed his waist lovingly.


“That’s right, rub it in for the man who’s sleeping alone.” Crawford said. He said it jokingly, but he’d noticed that Booth had been different than in the qualifying rounds. More focused, calm, more dangerous somehow. He’d even moved differently. Fluidly and silently, as if he were a hunter stalking prey.


“I’m starved.” Bosco announced. “Who’s up for lunch?”


“Count me in.” Crawford told him. He’d had a handful of mini breakfast muffins earlier and they’d long since been burned up.


“You guys go ahead. Buffy and I are going to the beach.” Angel told them.


“Sure, and we won’t see you again for another day or so – hey – “ Bosco grinned. “On second thought, go ahead, have fun.”


“Funny. We’ll be back tomorrow morning so I can collect the rest of my trophies.” Angel grinned back.


“Rain check?” Buffy asked.


“Sure, you two have fun.” Yokas waved as they left. She itched inside to know their story, but there was still time left to find out.


“You want to go to the beach again?” Bosco asked, misinterpreting her look.


“Please, once was enough. I got sand where sand doesn’t belong.” She made a face.


“Yokas!” Bosco’s face reddened as Crawford burst out laughing.





They ended up at a café not too far from where they’d shared that first kiss in the sunlight years ago. The one Buffy didn’t remember. The irony wasn’t lost on Angel and he wondered if someone was trying to tell him something. Like maybe he should tell Buffy about that day.


Since he liked all his body parts in the arrangement they were in, he decided against it. Maybe when they were in their eighties and she couldn’t break him in half he’d tell her.


While they ate, they kept the conversation light, talking about little things and nothing important. Buffy was content enjoying watching Angel in the sunshine. She’d never realized he had a reddish tint to his hair. Of course, she’d never seen him in the sunlight before, either.


And his smile, Buffy sighed and reached out to touch his cheek. She’d never seen him smile like this. Angel’s smiles had been rare. A small curve of his lips, gone in a flash. She’d seen what she’d thought was a real smile a few times, but they were nothing like these big, wide knock your socks off smiles.


He was a flirt, too, winking and kidding with the waitress and the hostess, all of whom had found excuses to come by their table. She’d be jealous if she didn’t see that he forgot each of them the second they walked away.


Angel turned his head and kissed the palm of her hand, winking as he gave it a little lick with his tongue.


“You’re so beautiful.”


“Get outta here.” He grinned at her. “I am, aren’t I?”


“Good thing you’re so modest. Is this what you were like? You know, before?”


“Before? Oh, before. Ah…” Angel hadn’t really thought about who he’d been before. He was remembering who he’d been before now. “Yeah, I guess I was. Except for the excessive drinking and carousing.”


“No wonder Darla grabbed you.”


“I’ve always been hot, no matter the century.” He agreed shamelessly.


“Oh my God, what am I going to do with you?” She laughed.


“All kinds of dirty, wicked things.” He leered at her.


“Is there anything left we haven’t done?”


“Are you kidding? We haven’t even dipped a toe! I haven’t tied you to the bed yet, and jeez, leather – there’s a whole world of kink there – “


“Stop!” Buffy put a hand over his mouth, her face reddening as she glanced around to see if anyone had overheard. “Not here!”


He chuckled. “So many ways – so little time.”


“Let’s – let’s talk about something safer.”


“Safer than sex?” Angel put his hands up in surrender when she picked up her spoon and threatened him with it. “Okay, okay!”


She put her weapon down, and he reached across the table to take her hands. So much strength in these delicate little hands. And she thought he was special?


“I do have something – I wonder – “ He drew in a deep breath and let it out. “Do you know how Connor is?”


“He’s fine. Actually, he’s great.”




“He’s studying architecture and making good grades.” Buffy had wondered when Angel would ask about his son, but she hadn’t wanted to push.




“He likes to draw. He wants to be an artist, but he also wants to pay the bills. That’s why I’m out here. Dawn is starting her first semester at the same school, so I came with her to get her settled.”


“I’m sure there’s a lot of things a college freshman needs.”


“Tons! Those dorm rooms are so tacky looking!” She grinned. “Any excuse to shop, right? And Connor’s been so sweet, he’s helping Dawn find her way around campus and with what teachers to avoid and stuff like that.”


“Uh huh, that’s sweet. Does he have a girlfriend?”


“No, I don’t think so.” She shook her head. “He hasn’t mentioned one.”


“Hmm…” Connor was his son. “We should probably keep an eye on him and Dawnie.”




“Because he’s a guy and she’s a girl. A pretty girl.”


“He wouldn’t… oh… “ She thought back for a minute. “He was anxious for me to leave so he could show her around.”


“That’s my boy.” Angel grinned and then looked perplexed. “I don’t know if I should be proud of him or threaten him.”


“Don’t worry, Dawn can take care of herself. She put those Italian guys in their places.”


“Yeah, but they’re just big ponces.”


“Are you going to tell him you’re alive?”


“I don’t know. I should, I mean, I am his father, but – “ He shrugged. “On the other hand, he’s got great parents and he’s doing good. I should probably leave him alone.”


“It’s up to you, but I think you should tell him. He’ll find out eventually and then it’ll be this big, angsty mess. You should at least give him the choice to have you in his life.”


“But I’m so good with angst.”


She picked up the spoon again. “No more angst!”


“Okay, no more, I promise.” He laughed. “I’ll talk to him. I wonder if he feels this way, all these memories jumbled together? It was weird enough to have Liam, then Angelus – now I’ve got Booth, too.”


“Just so long as they all love me.”


“They do.” Angel stood and held a hand out to her. “Let’s go walk on the beach.”


Placing her hand in his, Buffy let him pull her to her feet. For a moment, she rested against him, savoring the steady beat of his heart beneath her cheek.


He kissed the top of her head. “Come on, I’ve got an old fantasy to fulfill.”


“Me and you on the beach? I think there’s too many people around for that.”


“Me and you on the beach – “ He smiled down at her. “In the sunlight.”


“Ah, much less kinky.” She pretended to be disappointed. “Do you have more fantasies to take care of?”


Angel laughed softly. “I’ve got a whole list.”


“Me too.”


They were walking along the beach, shoes dangling from their free hands, the waves lapping over their bare feet. The sun was bright and warm and a delicate breeze cooled them. Buffy couldn’t have planned a more perfect moment.


“Buffy, there aren’t any beaches like this back in DC.”


“There’s no beaches like this anywhere.” She said proudly, SoCal to the bone.


“True, but – “ Angel squeezed her hand nervously. “It gets cold there, and it snows. A lot sometimes.”


“Which is why French designers design long coats and boots. Oh! And those furry little muff things!” She danced a step or two over the wet sand. “I want one of those!”


“You won’t mind leaving LA?”


“You mean leaving LA again? No.” She stopped and looked into the warm chocolate eyes. “I’m going wherever you go. Just so long as you want me. And maybe even if you don’t.”


“I’ll always want you.” He lifted her up and spun her around. “Always!”


She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck, hanging on as he spun them around again.


One of her sandals flew out of her grasp and into the ocean. “My shoe!”


“Let Giles buy you another one.” He turned around again, spinning them until he was dizzy.


When he stumbled and fell back onto the sand, she shrieked with laughter. This was what she’d always dreamed of. A normal day with her normal boyfriend.


“I may throw up.” Angel made a face as he propped himself up on his elbows. “This doesn’t happen in the movies.”


“Stunt doubles.” She waited until he sat up and then sat between his legs with her back pressed to his chest.


“I was a stunt man once – I ever tell you that?”


“No, seriously?”


“I was, back in the twenties, before talkies.” He wrapped his arms around her and snuggled her tight to his body. “Of course, I only worked nights, and no fire gags.”


“Of course.”


“I was great at fall gags, the higher the better. Sword fights, too. Westerns were really big. I worked with Tom Mix, Bill Hart, and Harry Carey. I had to avoid Wyatt Earp when he was here, though. He and Tom were real tight.”


“The guy Kurt Russell played? He was hot.” She tried to imagine Angel as a cowboy. He could pull off the long coat, but she wasn’t sure about the hat.


“The real guy wasn’t as hot, trust me. Valentino, now he was hot.” Angel frowned at a stray memory. He was bisexual, sort of. He should probably keep that to himself. “Earp shot me back in… I don’t remember now, but I wasn’t sure if he’d recognize me. I’d had this big mustache back then, but – “ He stopped as Buffy turned to look at him. “What?”


“You had one of those big mustaches?” She giggled. “Oh my God, too funny.”


“Funny, huh?” He dug his fingers into her sides, making her laugh harder. “Come on, laugh a little more.”


“No more!” She squirmed away from his tickling fingers, gasping for breath. “I give! I give!”


“You’d better.” He pulled her against him once more, and rested his chin on top her head. “Don’t forget I’ve seen you in that poufy orange coat.”


“You swore you’d never mention that!” She tipped her head back to rub her cheek against his. “We’re even.”


For now. He grinned


“Is it really confusing? Having the different memories?”


“A little.” He confessed. “I was used to having Liam’s and Angelus’, so that’s not too bad, and Booth’s memories are completely separate from mine. Sometimes, though, there’s strange overlaps. I remember events in the same year as two different people.”


“You still have Angelus’ memories?” Buffy asked softly. They hadn’t spoken of Angelus until now.


“Buffy, just because he’s gone, doesn’t mean the memories are. Those are mine, too.”


“I know, but you seem so different. Like, I don’t know – “ She shrugged. “No brooding.”


“It’s easier now. I don’t have him pushing them at me all the time. Plus – “ He kissed her cheek. “It’s hard to brood sitting in the sunshine with you.”


“Yeah.” She laid her hands over his, intertwining their fingers. “What about Booth? What should I know about him?”


“Booth? Um… he’s a nice guy. Likes to drink and gamble, so I have to watch that. Feels guilty about his career as an Army sniper.” Angel smiled and shook his head. “And wants to balance the scales by catching murderers.”


She twisted around to look at him. “You’re kidding me, right?”


“No.” He laughed. “I guess it’s ingrained or something.”


“Or something.”


“Luckily, I’m uniquely qualified to deal with memories that aren’t really mine. Probably the only one in the world.” He frowned suddenly. “No… I’m not. I do need to talk with Connor. He has to feel so confused by what happened to him.”


“Sometimes.” Buffy nodded. “But he’s dealt with it pretty well.”


“He’s told you?” There was a flash of jealousy that Connor had confided in Buffy.


“We talk, Angel.” She smiled at the memory of the calls she’d shared with Connor. “He remembers growing up with Holtz, and learning to hate you, but he also remembers growing up with the Reillys and learning to love and care and be part of a family.”


“That’s what I want him to remember.” Angel sighed. “Maybe I should leave him alone. I’ve got nothing but bad memories to give him, Buffy.”


“That’s not true.” She squeezed his hands. “He loves you, Angel. He knows that Holtz lied to him, and used him. He’s – he’s sorry for everything that happened, and for how he treated you.”


“He shouldn’t be.” Angel protested. “It wasn’t his fault.”


“I’ve told him that.” She drew a shaky breath, unexpected tears stinging her eyes. “He was so broken up – he called and told me you were gone. He cried, Angel – he just hurt, and he knew what he’d lost – “


“Shh… “ He squeezed her tighter in his arms. “I’ll talk to him, and it’ll all be okay. Everything will be okay.”


“I wanted to die, Angel.” She confessed.


“Don’t say that. Dawnie needed you, Connor needed you.” He kissed her cheek again. “I’m here now, and everything else just doesn’t matter anymore.”


She sniffled, blinking the tears out of her eyes. “I guess.”


“No guessing.” He tickled her again.


“Angel!” She squirmed in his grasp, giggling helplessly.


Another couple walked past them and smiled, looking for their own romantic piece of beach.


“Maybe we should get a room?” Angel suggested.


“Maybe.” There were other people walking along the beach and playing in the surf. A black and white dog leaped into the water after a tennis ball. A normal day on the beach.


“I’ve had sex on the beach, and it’s not as much fun as you’d think. You get sand in the wrong places.” He licked teasingly at her ear.


“Eww! I don’t want to know!” She turned her head away, giggling. Getting to her feet, she held out her hand. “Let’s go.”


“Back to the hotel?” He leered at her, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.


“No, to the pier. Let’s go ride the rides.” She pointed down the beach at the Santa Monica Pier.


“Hey, I’ve never been on them in the day time!” He jumped to his feet and grabbed her hand, pulling her along.


“You’ve ridden the rides?” She stumbled, trying to keep up.


“When they were new.” He snatched up her lost sandal out of the surf. “The Ferris wheel was amazing! It was a great time, wooden roller coasters were springing up everywhere and carousels – hand carved and painted – “


“Did you kiss anybody?” She was suddenly jealous of when Angel might have been with on a romantic Ferris wheel ride.


“No.” He smiled at her. “I was waiting for you.”




They wound their way through the crowded pier, grabbing cotton candy from a vendor and sitting for a caricature drawing together. Playing tourist and hanging over the rail to stare at the ocean as if they’d never seen it before. At the top of the Ferris wheel, as it paused at height of its arc, they kissed.


“It’s beautiful up here.” Buffy tipped her head back, leaning against Angel’s shoulder to stare up at the stars that were beginning to peep through the darkening sky.


“It is.” He agreed.


“You’re not looking at the stars.” She turned and smiled at him.


“Nope.” He smiled back, gazing adoringly into her eyes.


“I love you.” She leaned in for another long kiss.


When they parted for air, she ran her fingers along his damp lips. “How much did you pay the Ferris wheel guy to stop with us on top?”


“Fifty bucks.”


“Let’s not waste it, then.”


They kissed again, gently and slowly, their lips moving in a familiar and intimate pattern, tongues caressing and tasting until the Ferris wheel began to move again.


“No…” Buffy moaned softly as the movement pulled their lips apart.


“There’ll be more.” Angel whispered. Pulling her against him, he rested his cheek against hers.


She snuggled into the warmth of his embrace, listening to the beat of his heart and spinning dreams of forever. It was something she used to do, but had given up after the night Angel had disappeared.


She’d find a cute apartment for them in D.C. – one with an extra room for Parker – and they’d go to museums and galleries and plays. Most importantly, she’d shop at – well, everywhere.


“Nothing’s changed.”


“What?” Had she said shopping out loud? Angel was shaking his head and looking down at the crowded pier.


“The rides are different, I mean obviously, and there’s just the one pier now instead of two, but it’s still all the same. Crowded with tourists and locals trying to act like they’re not as excited as the tourists. The only thing that’s changed is what people are wearing. It’s kinda weird, actually.”


“Weird is normal with us.” Following Angel’s gaze, Buffy looked out over the people on the pier and the beach next to it. With the sun setting many were calling it a day and heading back to their cars and the bus stop, but just as many seemed to be coming in, just starting their night out, and still more hanging around and combining the two.


“Wow…” She followed the pier out past the landmark sign and toward the city. “Look at all of them.” How many people lived in Santa Monica? In LA? In the world?


“I’d rather look at you.” He murmured.


“How did you find me? With all these people – ” A shiver rattled down her spine. Despite herself, she found the eerily familiar words tumbling from her lips.  “How did you find me here?”


Angel nuzzled her cheek and ear. “If I was blind, I would see you.”


“Don’t – don’t say that –“ She wrenched herself around and stared at him.




“Just – bad luck.” Her skin crawled at the memory of the long ago dream. “Don’t say it.”


Feeling her shudder against him, Angel wrapped his arms protectively around her. “I know Xander lost an eye, and he used to make that joke about somebody losing an eye – but that was just a coincidence. “


“Don’t ever let me go.” She buried her face against his throat.


“Never. Nothing’s going to happen. We’ve got forever now. I’ll never leave you.”


Forever. That’s the whole point. I’ll never leave. Not even if you kill me.       


She shuddered again as the Ferris wheel began another trip around through the darkening light.





After the sun had fully set and the breeze coming in off the ocean had turned cool, they’d taken a taxi back to Beverly Hills. Instead of going back to her hotel, Angel had the driver take them to The Stinking Rose, a restaurant renowned for its garlic-laden menu.


Mr. Grant had insured a table without a reservation, the maitre d’ nonchalantly erasing a name from the reservation list and writing Angel’s name in its place. In the spirit of the restaurant, they’d started with garlic martinis and finished with garlic ice cream. 


Buffy had been cautious about the ice cream – garlic ice cream seemed wrong on so many levels – but she was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.


Angel shared the last spoonful of his with her just to watch her expression. “Told you it was good.”


“Mmmm… but, Dracula’s grotto?” Buffy stifled a giggle, looking around at the décor, the cobwebs hanging from the chandeliers, and the huge painting of someone who was supposed to be Count Dracula. Obviously, the artist had never seen the real thing. “Why in here?”


“Why not?” He grinned at her. “I’m enjoying the irony.”


“The irony of a vampire theme in a garlic restaurant?”


“Not that. Me. Me and garlic. I mean for over two hundred years I couldn’t get near it, and now? I’m Italian. We put garlic in everything, and my grandmother grows these huge garlic cloves that she strings up and hangs in the kitchen.” He cupped his hands. “Like baseball sized. Oh…” Angel dropped his hands as he remembered.


“What?” She leaned forward –  he looked stricken. “Are you okay?”


“She’s not my grandmother.” The feeling of loss was sharp and hot.


“Oh, Angel.” Buffy laid her hands over his. “Yes, she is.”


“I really need to talk to Connor about how to deal with this, huh?” The thought of seeing his son again eased the ache.


“We’ll do that tomorrow.” She promised.






They decided to walk the few blocks to Buffy’s hotel. Angel draped his arm around her shoulders, holding her against his side.


“You don’t think you overdid it a bit on the garlic?”


“Nope.” Angel leaned down and gave her a decidedly garlic tinted kiss. “Now that I know why I love garlic so much, I intend to enjoy it to the fullest.”


“Okay, but enjoy some breath mints, too.” She wrinkled her nose. “At least we won’t have to worry about vampires, they’ll smell us a mile off.”


“I’ll just aim my super breath at them.” He blew out an exaggerated puff of air. “One whiff and – “


Several forms materialized out of the darkness in front of them.


“I’ll scare them…” Angel gaped at the vampires. A moment ago there had been nothing but empty sidewalk. Had he surprised people by appearing like that?


Buffy had already sensed the incoming vamps, and she pushed Angel behind her to give herself room to fight. “Okay, how about you guys go on home to your crypt and I won’t stake you? ‘Cos I’m not really in the slaying biz anymore, you know? Sound like a deal?”


The vampires showed no signs of backing off, instead spreading out in a semi-circle around them. Behind them a hooded figure waited and watched.


“That figures – you’d think we’d know better than to say ‘this’ll never happen’.” Angel stepped up beside Buffy, gun drawn, automatically giving her the room he knew she needed to maneuver. “Go on home, boys, you don’t want to mess with her.”


“Take him.” The figure said.


The vampires charged, and Buffy moved forward to meet them, spinning to kick one into the wall of the building next to them while driving her stake through the heart of another one. She might have retired, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t prepared. The only reason she carried a purse was to hold her credit cards and a stake.


Angel fell back, raising his gun. He knew from experience that shooting a vampire just pissed them off, but he also knew that the majority of times he’d been shot it had been in the chest and stomach – not vital areas for a vamp.


Carefully, he fired two shots into the forehead of the vampire closest to him. There was a howl of pain and the demon dropped to the pavement. Angel smiled grimly. Brain damage would keep that one down for awhile.


The next one running at him took two shots into the thigh bone. Without the support of the weight-bearing bone, the vampire dropped beside his wounded compatriot but continued to reach for Angel. Stepping to its side, Angel popped two shots into its head, ignoring the hands clutching at his legs. The demon screamed and twitched before going still.


From the corner of his eye, Angel could see Buffy moving gracefully, avoiding outstretched arms to deal death again and again. There was no time to appreciate the sight, however, and he sidestepped another vampire, letting its howling rush carry it past and into the streetlamp behind him. “Clumsy. Must be a fledgling.”


The next vampire was close, far too close. Angel grimaced as it grabbed his arms, jerking him forward. “The bounty’s mine!” It snarled into his face.


“Don’t cash that check yet!” He grunted, bringing the gun up between them.


The vampire recoiled, nostrils flaring, and Angel smiled. He was right about the garlic on his breath being a weapon. Shoving his gun into the vampire’s gaping mouth, he wedged it between the fangs and pulled the trigger, emptying the clip.


After the first shots, the vampire released its grip, gurgling as it staggered back, and then exploding into dust.


“Huh!” Angel released the spent clip and slammed another one into the pistol. “I guess you really can blow someone’s head off.”


From behind him, Angel heard cursing, and he crouched to pull his knife from the sheath at his ankle, He turned and drove the blade into the vampire’s gut as it reached him, and rose up using the upward movement of his body and the momentum of the vamp’s charge to flip him over into Buffy’s path. Mr. Pointy made short work of the unlucky vampire.


He only had one extra clip. Angel did a quick count and found there were still four vampires left, plus the guy in the cape. Buffy was on a bearing to take out two of them, but the other two were heading for him. Clearly, he was their target. This was not some random vamp attack.


Fifteen shots. The first vampire he’d shot was beginning to thrash around, but was probably still harmless, the second was cussing, but was also still down. Another shot to the head wouldn’t hurt. Angel grinned. It wouldn’t hurt him anyway.


Dropping and rolling, Angel put two quick shots into the head of one of the vampires rushing him, coming to his feet in time to put the muzzle of his gun squarely against the ridged forehead of the other and blast another two shots in quick succession. Both vampires were quickly down on the sidewalk trying to remember how to put syllables together.


Angel grinned again as he watched Buffy dispatch the last two vampires. He quickly moved to the two vamps he’d downed earlier, and put another bullet into the skull of each one. The other two would be down for some time, and he didn’t want to waste the bullets. Who knew what was next?


“You okay?” Buffy was beside him once more, swiftly staking the helpless vampires.


“I’m good. You?” Angel was proud of himself. He’d barely broken a sweat. Granted, next to Buffy he looked like a wheezing fat man chasing a donut, but hey, she was the Slayer. This didn’t even qualify for a warm up for her.


She sucked in a sudden breath. “I think I broke a nail.” She snarled.


“Uh, oh. You’re in trouble now, guys.” He pointed his gun at the caped figure still standing where he’d been when he’d ordered the vampires to attack. “If you want to run, this is a good time.”


“Really.” Buffy added. “Because I am so through with the Slayer game, but you don’t want to push me.”


“Good to see you again, Angel.” The cowled figure said, the voice a sibilant whisper.


“I’ll pass on the reunion.” He had no clue who the demon was and didn’t care to make or remake his acquaintance. “I’m out of the demon biz, maybe you haven’t heard.”


“My master has plans for you.” The demon slid the cowl back, exposing his face. Four eyes dominated his face, leaving little room for the pinched mouth below.


“Eww.” Buffy grimaced. “I bet you have a hard time getting a date.”


“What is it with these ‘masters’? Can’t anybody be His Excellency or my liege?” The demon’s face was vaguely familiar, and Angel tried to remember where he’d seen it before. The problem with two hundred and fifty plus years of memories was that he’d seen a lot of demons. They all thought they should be etched into his memory, but very few stood out.


The demon ignored their comments. He raised his hands and gestured, spitting out arcane words that fouled the air. Spheres of glimmering black energy arced toward them.


Buffy dodged the first one, shoving Angel out of the way of another. A third struck her in the back before she could move, and she cried out.


“You son of a bitch!” Angel fired at the demon, but the bullets slammed into an invisible barrier and slid to the ground before reaching it.


The demon smirked. “Your memory is short, Angel, if you think such things will stop me.”


Bullets. Demons. Not a good combo. Angel remembered the knife in his free hand. Steel on the other hand… He fired again, waving the gun back and forth to distract the demon from his true attack.


Again the bullets stopped short and fell to the ground. The demon hissed a laugh that ended abruptly as Angel’s knife buried itself to the hilt in one of its eyes. Shrieking, the demon clutched at its face, pulling the knife loose. Smoke rolled from the damaged eye and between the demon’s fingers.


Beside him, Angel heard a crash and turned to see Buffy smashing a packing crate. She tossed him a large piece of wood before throwing another one at the demon. The jagged piece pierced another eye. “Bullseye! Pun intended.


“How do I kill this thing?” Buffy asked Angel.


“I don’t know.” He frowned. The damn thing was familiar, but he couldn’t remember why. “Just keep poking its eyes out.”


“Works for me.” She threw another jagged piece of wood at it.


“This isn’t over!” The demon vanished before the missile could strike its target.


“Why do they always say that?” She groaned.


“Part of being a bad guy. Always gotta have the last word.”





Chapter 14