These Things That I’ve Done
Summary: Angelus killed the Romani elder woman before she could
complete the Ritual of Restoration in 1898. A hundred years later,
Janna Kalderash finds the old curse amongst family heirlooms while
spring cleaning, and after months of the seemingly unstoppable Fanged
Five terrorizing Sunnydale, the Scoobies are desperate enough to use
Word Count: 18,962
French translations at
the end of story.
Buffy stood slightly apart
from the others congregated in the kitchen, her arms crossed, glaring in
the direction of the locked door that led to the basement. It was a very
lucky coincidence that her mother was out of town this weekend; Giles’s and
Miss Kalderash’s apartments weren’t large enough to be good places to chain
up vampires, and Willow, Xander, Cordelia, and Oz wouldn’t really be able
to explain it to their parents, but it was crucial to do it within a home,
where none of the other vampires would be able to get in to stop them.
Still, while glad to be able to provide such a handy solution, Buffy was
deeply uncomfortable with the thought that there was a vampire in her
basement. Especially this vampire.
“Are we sure we really want to
do this?” Oz was saying uncertainly.
“We’re sure we’ll never defeat
the rest of them if we don’t,” said Xander. “It’s like Terminator II.
We need one of them on our side.”
“Buffy killed Luke, the Three,
and the Master last year without doing this to any of them,” Oz reminded him.
“And we captured him, didn’t we?” he added, jerking his head in the
direction of the basement.
“Yeah, and nearly died,” said
Cordelia heatedly. “And Buffy actually did die fighting the Master, so that
really doesn’t seem like a strategy we should reuse. Plus, if you think I’m
going to keep risking—”
“We don’t have a choice, Oz,”
said Buffy, loudly enough to break up the argument and prevent one of
Cordelia’s tirades about always being the bait.
“Do you think Angelus is
really the best choice for this?” asked Willow. “I mean, Darla’s the
oldest. Doesn’t that mean she’s the strongest?”
“Not by much. Angelus is their
leader. If we get him on our side, the rest of them will be crippled and
we’ll have an ally who knows all of their weaknesses.”
“Assuming that this actually
works and he wants to help us, of course,” said Giles, removing his glasses
and beginning to clean them slowly on a handkerchief.
“Rupert’s right,” said Miss
Kalderash. “This ritual has never been performed, so there aren’t exactly
any success stories we can go by. I went through it as carefully as I could
to get rid of any loopholes or exit clauses—old Romani magic can be tricky
sometimes, but I still can’t guarantee that it’ll work. Besides, even if it
does, no one knows what kind of person Angelus was before Darla turned him.
If he wasn’t a good man, then restoring his soul might not make much of a
“And if he was, it could make too
much difference,” said Willow, looking troubled. “Two and a half
centuries of sadistic, bloodthirsty evil-doing? That can’t be an easy
burden on anyone’s conscience. What if this destroys him?” Her voice had
grown quieter and quieter so that she ended her last question on a whisper.
“Then we’re still one vampire
down with just four to go,” said Buffy, her tone making even Xander shiver.
“Buffy,” said Giles, a sharp
edge of reprimand in his voice. “I know what Angelus has done just as well
as you do—”
“You didn’t see what he did to
Kendra,” Buffy interrupted through clenched teeth.
“No,” said Giles heavily. “I
did not. But that does not change the fact that we are not doing this to
punish him. We’re doing it because we need his help. Never forget that the
soul—the man he used to be—is not responsible for the actions of the demon
that took his place. He is as innocent as he was the day he died. In truth,
it would likely be far kinder to slay him now than to do this to him, but,
as you say, we have no choice.”
“Great,” said Buffy. “Then I
can put him out of his misery once I’m done killing his friends.”
“He may very well want you
to,” said Giles, putting his glasses back on.
At this, Buffy finally turned
to meet his eyes, but she had no reply.
“Okay,” Willow cut in somewhat
shakily. “Are we ready to do this? I brought all the supplies you asked
for, Miss Kalderash.” She plucked at the top of a brown paper bag sitting
on the island next to her with her fingers.
“Good,” said Miss Kalderash.
“Then we can get started.”
In response to these words,
there came an animalistic roar of fury from the basement, which made
Willow, Cordelia, and Xander jump.
“I’ll go make sure he stays
put,” said Buffy before striding out of the room.
“Janna, are you sure you can
do this?” asked Giles, gently grasping her upper arm. “This ritual is
rather advanced magic.”
“I’ll be fine, Rupert,” she
said with a soft smile, which then turned rather mischievous. “Just don’t
stop worrying, okay? It’s kind of sexy.”
Giles coughed and blushed,
while the grins that had been sported by Willow, Xander, and Cordelia (and
the hint of one in Oz’s eyes) as they watched this exchange all vanished
and were replaced with grimaces of revulsion.
The sounds of the others’
voices faded into nothing as Buffy descended the steps to the basement.
Angelus sat in the middle of the room, heavy chains binding him to a metal
chair. Buffy suppressed the impulse to clench her fists at the sight of him
and forced her expression to remain as impassive as possible.
“Why, Miss Summers,” he
drawled, a wicked smirk on his features, which were still devastatingly
handsome even with the left side of his face covered in angry holy water
burns, “it’s such an honor to be an invited guest in your home.” He hardly
seemed bothered by the chains immobilizing him on the uncomfortable chair.
From the way he was sitting, you’d think it was a throne, and you’d never
know just by looking at him that less than a minute ago, he’d been snarling
like an angry lion about the plans he’d overheard. But maybe that had just
been to get her down in the basement with him so he’d have someone to play
mind games on.
“Don’t get used to it,” said
He glanced up at the ceiling
and tilted his head slightly, still smirking. “It must really suck being
the—what is it?—seventh wheel, if you’d rather be spending time with me
than with them. Everyone paired off except you—even the stuffy librarian.
But oh, yeah, you did used to have a boyfriend, didn’t you?” His smirk
transformed into a nasty grin. “Nice kid. What was his name?”
Buffy felt like she might
explode with anger. If he was trying to goad her into staking him before
the curse was finished, he might just succeed. “Ben,” she said. “His name
was Ben Mitchell.”
“Ben, that’s right. You never
told him what you are, did you? That’s why he walked you home that night. You
showed up late for another date with all those cuts and bruises you
couldn’t quite hide, and your gallant knight had to make sure you were
safe. But Benny boy was the one who needed saving in the end, and where
“You bastard,” said Buffy through
gritted teeth. Tears were pricking at the corners of her eyes, but she held
them in. She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing the pain of
the memories he had just evoked. She and Ben had started going out shortly
after the beginning of the school year. Apart from exchanging a few smiles
here and there, they hadn’t interacted much while they were in Algebra II
together, but he was cute and she had been happy to accept when he asked
her to Homecoming in the fall. She’d had a great time with him, and it
wasn’t long afterwards that they were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.
Ben had been sweet and gentlemanly and funny and a wonderful kisser, and
she had been starting to suspect that she was in love with him when
Valentine’s Day came along.
It hadn’t occurred to Buffy
until now that Angelus had actually planned the entire thing. The fight
that had made her show up late for her date that night, covered in minor
cuts and bruises, had been against a few of his minions. She had brushed
off Ben’s worried remarks and assured him that she was fine, but he still
insisted on walking her home at the end of the evening. On the way, she’d
spotted Penn attacking a woman down an alley. She’d made an excuse so that
Ben wouldn’t follow her, but by the time she reached them, the woman was
already dead and Penn was fleeing. She hadn’t been able to catch up to him,
and when she gave up and returned to the place where she’d left Ben, she’d
found him crumpled at Angelus’s feet, his blue eyes wide and glassy and his
neck bent in a way it was never meant to bend.
Before Buffy had been able to
recover from her shock, Angelus had disappeared. Though she had patrolled
every night, she hadn’t seen him again until Kendra arrived in town a month
later. Happy to assist Buffy in her goal to avenge Ben, Kendra had
suggested that they attack the mansion where Angelus’s gang had been
staying. It had been a stupid thing to do. They’d thought that two Slayers
with the element of surprise on their side would be able to take out five
vampires easily, but they’d forgotten that there’s no such thing as the
element of surprise if one of the vampires in question is Drusilla.
They had attacked the mansion
in daylight, thinking the vampires would be asleep, but they were waiting
for them. Both Slayers found themselves fighting for their lives, Buffy
against Darla (who wanted her own revenge on the girl who had killed her
sire), Penn, and Spike, Kendra against Angelus and Drusilla. Buffy had
managed to find safety within a large square of sunlight streaming in
through the window they’d used as their entrance, but she hadn’t been able
to do anything from there. Darla, Penn, and Spike had surrounded her, and
Drusilla had joined them seconds later, boxing her in on all four sides.
From there, she had been forced to watch Kendra lose her fight against
He hadn’t killed her right
away. Once she could no longer fight back, he’d taken his time, torturing
her for at least an hour before finally sinking his fangs into her neck and
draining her. Then he’d dropped her body and rounded on Buffy, still
trapped inside her sunbeam. He’d reached right into the light, seized her
by the throat, and hurled her back out through the window before his hand
had even started smoking.
She still didn’t know why he
hadn’t just killed her that day, but he was going to regret passing up that
chance. It was the middle of April now, and while spring-cleaning the week
before, Miss Kalderash had discovered the Ritual of Restoration inside a
box of old family heirlooms and books she had brought with her when she
moved to the Hellmouth to teach at Sunnydale High. Buffy thought it must
have been fate. The curse had apparently been written for Angelus in the
first place, but the Romani had never been able to cast it.
The trap had been carefully
set. Buffy had trained Xander and Oz in the use of tranquilizer guns so
that they, along with herself and Giles, could lie in wait at strategic
points around the entrance of the Bronze, Cordelia had worn an alluring red
dress and carried a thin-glassed vial of holy water in her purse, and Miss
Kalderash and Willow had waited nearby in Oz’s van. They weren’t worried
that Angelus would have company; ever since Kendra’s death, he had hunted
alone in public places, as if daring Buffy to stop him.
It had worked. Cordelia had
successfully smashed the vial of holy water against the side of Angelus’s
face before he could bite her and Buffy’s and Oz’s darts had both hit their
mark (though Xander’s had almost hit Cordelia when it missed) while he was
distracted with the pain. After that, it had been a simple task to load him
into the van and drive back to Buffy’s house with him.
“I’ve never had so much fun
hunting a Slayer,” said Angelus, bringing Buffy back to the present. “I
don’t really go for it when it’s just the kill—that’s Spike’s thing. Most
Slayers only have their Watchers and their calling. But you…you have so
much more to lose, don’t you? All those friends, your mom, Ben. You know, I
only killed the Jamaican one because she meant something to you. Otherwise
I might have left her to one of the others. Not that it wasn’t fun. There’s
nothing quite like Slayer blood.”
“Say whatever you like,” said
Buffy. “They’ll be done with the curse any minute now.”
“You think shoving my soul
back in will be enough to make me help you?” he said in scornful amusement.
“I heard all of you talking up there. Wondering what kind of man I was. I
can tell you. Liam Gallagher was a worthless whoring drunkard who only
followed his dreams of seeing the world as far as the tavern in his
hometown. The one person who thought there was anything remotely admirable
about him was his naïve little sister. How do you think Darla got close
enough to turn me? That pathetic excuse for a soul couldn’t even rein in his
human vices—in fact, he didn’t even bother to try, but you think he’ll be
able to control demonic ones? Don’t kid yourself.”
“If you’re so sure your soul
won’t change anything, then why did you bother to stop the Gypsies when
they tried to restore it a hundred years ago?” said Buffy. “Seems like a
lot of trouble just to keep out a pathetic excuse for a soul.”
“It doesn’t take much effort
to snap a Romani elder woman’s neck,” said Angelus indifferently. “Let me
out of these chains and I’ll demonstrate on the computer teacher.”
It was Buffy’s turn to smirk.
As cool as he played it, it was clear that he was furious about the turn of
events. “You know, I don’t really care if you help us or not. If you don't,
it just means I get to stake you that much sooner.”
He looked smug at this for
some reason, but before he could say anything in reply, he gasped and
lurched forward in the chair as much as the chains would allow. Buffy stood
up straighter, watching closely. The next second, his head jerked back and
his eyes shone with a brilliant golden light. A moment later, the light
faded and he went limp.
The first thing he became
aware of was a pair of wary green eyes staring at him. His brow furrowed in
confusion, and then he felt his jaw drop slightly as his mind registered
more of what he was seeing. The eyes belonged to a beautiful young woman
with shoulder-length blonde hair. There was a certain rigidity about her
features, as if she’d been through one hardship too many, but it didn’t
detract from her beauty. He could have kept staring at her lovely face for
quite some time, but he was distracted by the strangeness of her clothing.
He’d never seen anything like it before. From there, he began to notice the
rest of his surroundings as well, and his confusion increased at the sight
of such unfamiliar architecture and peculiar objects. The biggest shock,
however, came with the realization that he was tightly shackled to a chair.
“What?” he said aloud. He looked up at the young woman, who seemed a little
surprised now. “What is this place?” he asked, and even his own voice
sounded strange to him. “Why am I in chains? Who are you?”
“You don’t remember?” she
“Remember?” he repeated
blankly. “I don’t—” He broke off with a gasp and a shudder. “Wh-why do I
feel so cold?” He could hear a rhythmic thumping noise. At first, he’d
thought it was his own heart pounding, but he wasn’t so sure now. He
couldn’t feel the corresponding pulse of blood in his fingertips like he
would usually be able to if his heart were pounding hard enough for him to
hear it, and it sounded as if…as if it were coming from the young woman.
But how could that be? He listened harder, and suddenly he could hear a
number of other voices and heartbeats coming from somewhere above them. He
began breathing faster now due to nerves and the stirrings of fear, but
then he relaxed slightly when his attention was caught by a truly
intoxicating smell. He felt an odd prickling sensation in his forehead and
eyeteeth and his insides clenched with hunger.
“You really don’t know what’s
happening, do you?” said the young woman. He looked up at her again. Her
expression had lost some of that hardness from before, and she seemed
He was about to reply in the
negative when images began to flash in his mind. He recoiled in horror at
what they contained. He tried to shut them out, but they continued to pour
in, now accompanied by sounds, smells, and emotions. They were memories.
“Oh, God,” he whispered. “No….” His hands clenched tightly around the arms
of the chair, which creaked in protest. He could feel a thousand different
necks snapping under his fingers, his fangs plunging into a thousand
different throats. He could hear the screams, the pleas, the dying breaths.
He could see countless pairs of eyes frozen open in terror. He could smell
the fear, taste a sea of blood. He could remember how much he had enjoyed
every last moment of it. Something inside him reveled in it even now, and
he felt that gnawing hunger deepen.
He looked up at the young
woman again, and the memories became more specific. She was Buffy Summers,
the Slayer who had killed the Master. He remembered the plans he’d had for
her, the plans he had already started to put into action. If it weren’t for
the chains, he would have cowered away from her. He shut his eyes, only to
be assaulted by still more vivid images of blood and carnage. “I’m sorry,”
he said, and he repeated it again and again, his voice cracking and tears
streaming down his face.
Buffy waited. A few seconds
after the light faded, Angelus straightened in his chair again and stared
up at her blearily. She didn’t know if she was imagining it or not, but
there seemed to be a soft warmth in his eyes that she’d never seen there
before. All the other times she’d seen them, they had been cold, cruel, and
empty, like all vampires’ eyes.
He was looking at her with
unmistakable confusion, as if he didn’t even recognize her. But there was
also something like…awe? She felt the heat begin to rise in her cheeks, but
then his gaze left her face so he could take in the rest of the basement
around them, and he looked more disoriented and perplexed by the second. He
finally noticed the chains binding him where he sat, which clinked and
rattled slightly as he tried to move his arms. “What?” he said. He looked
up at her again. “What is this place?” he asked. She had grown used to the
predatory undercurrent in his voice, so its absence was startling. He
sounded completely different without it, not to mention rather vulnerable.
“Why am I in chains? Who are you?”
“You don’t remember?” she
said. She was more surprised than skeptical. She knew that this was no act;
the curse had definitely worked. Maybe Angelus could have faked these
reactions, but he couldn’t have faked that warmth in his eyes, and surely
it wouldn’t have occurred to him to start breathing as if it were actually
necessary. She hadn’t been prepared to take Giles’s word for it before, but
now she could see plainly that he had been correct: the being looking at her
out of those eyes was no longer Angelus. This was not the monster who had
leered at her as he stood over Ben’s body and laughed while he tortured
Kendra to death.
“Remember?” he said, looking
bewildered. “I don’t—” But he stopped talking as a violent shiver ran the
length of his body. “Wh-why do I feel so cold?” he said. The vulnerability
in his voice had intensified, making Buffy picture a frightened child. She
felt both sympathetic and slightly nauseous at the realization that he was
only just becoming aware of the aspects of his vampiric nature—he was
waking up in a nightmare.
“You really don’t know what’s
happening, do you?” she said, more to herself than to him.
He seemed about to reply when
his eyes widened with horror at something only he could see, and his body
went rigid. “Oh, God,” he said.
Buffy was starting to regret
supporting this plan. Without really thinking about it, she took a step
towards him. The movement caused his eyes to snap up and meet hers again.
His face was no longer void of recognition, and he looked terrified at the
very sight of her. He turned his head away and shut his eyes. She saw tears
beginning to leak out of them. “I’m sorry,” he said, and he kept saying it
over and over in a small, trembling voice.
When Buffy went back upstairs,
she found that the others had migrated to the dining room to perform the
ritual. Those who had been sitting stood up at once upon her entrance.
“Did it work?” asked Willow
“Yeah,” said Buffy.
“And you didn’t stake him?”
“Great!” said Xander. “So is
he going to help?”
“I don’t know yet.”
Giles moved closer to her,
looking concerned. “What’s wrong, Buffy?”
Buffy’s jaw worked for a
moment before she opened her mouth to speak. “Next time, I don’t care what
kind of odds we’re facing; we’re coming up with a different solution. I’m
not doing this again.”
“Why?” said Cordelia. Willow
looked worried, as if she knew what was coming.
“Because we took a human soul
and put it in hell. Giles was right. He didn’t do any of it, but now he has
to remember it all as if he did.”
Within half an hour, everyone
else had gone home, none of them feeling quite as optimistic as they would
have expected to with the success of the ritual. Giles had offered to let
Angelus stay at his apartment once Buffy’s mother came home, and Buffy had
no objections. Once they had all departed, she walked slowly back to the
door that led to the basement and stretched out a hand towards the
doorknob, but at the last second, she changed her mind, grabbed her coat
and a few bills of the emergency cash left by her mom, and strode out into
It was only eight-thirty, so
the butcher shop was still open when she reached it, though there were
currently no other customers. Feeling a little nervous, she walked up to
the counter. A tired-looking balding man in a bloodstained apron stood
behind it. “Can I help you, miss?” he said.
“Uh, yeah. I just need one
half-gallon each of cow’s blood and pig’s blood.” To Buffy’s intense
relief, the man made no comment about the unusual order; he simply nodded
and headed to the back room to get it.
As she walked home, the blood
sloshing a little in its containers, Buffy wondered why she was going out
of her way to do this for him. An hour ago, he had been the thing she hated
more than anything in the world. And he was still a vampire. His face was
the same. His hands were still the same hands that had snapped Ben’s neck.
But she couldn’t see that demon anymore. All she could see was the
childlike terror in his eyes as all those memories and demonic instincts
came crashing down on him. She couldn’t just do nothing. She had to help
him. It might still be kinder to stake him now, but maybe he could have
some peace first if she waited until he’d had the chance to help her rid
the world of Darla, Penn, Drusilla, and Spike.
He sat in the chair for what
felt like an eternity. The hunger wasn’t quite as demanding now that the
house was empty of humans, but the memories were relentless. There was
always another victim’s face. He could see each one clearly, all the way
back to the unsuspecting groundskeeper he’d drained just moments after
crawling out of his grave. He wanted to die every time his sweet little
sister’s face rose to the surface of the roiling mass of images. He wished
he had listened to his father. That Kathy’s tears and his mother’s silent
pleas had been enough to stop him from storming out that day. How many
lives would have been spared? How many families apart from his own would
never have been torn asunder? A howl of despair ripped its way out of his
throat and he strained against the chains binding him.
Above him, he heard a door
open and close. Footsteps and a solitary heartbeat moved about the floor
above for a few minutes before drawing closer and closer until the basement
door opened and the Slayer appeared. His first thought was that she had
come back to stake him (again, the memories of everything he had done to
hurt her replayed in his mind). He would have welcomed it. But as she
descended the steps, he saw that she was carrying, not a stake, but a
plastic jug full of deep crimson liquid.
“What are you doing?” he
asked, unable to trust the evidence before his eyes.
“Bringing you dinner,” she
said, clearly attempting to make her tone light and casual, but not quite
“Figured you’d be hungry,” she
said, shrugging. “You didn’t exactly get a chance to finish your hunt
He flinched. “You should be
staking me, not bringing me blood,” he said hollowly, his eyes on the floor.
“Hey,” she said. “You have a
soul now. You’re one of the good guys. Or, you can be. It’s up to you.”
“How can you say that? After
everything I’ve done? After everything I’ve done to people you care about?”
“That was the demon, not you.”
She set the jug down on the floor beside his chair and pulled a small
silver key out of her pocket.
“It was me,” he said.
“I am the demon. I did all of it, and I enjoyed it.”
She froze for a second, but
when she spoke again, her voice was as calm as before. “Doesn’t sound like
you enjoy it much now,” she said, inserting the key in one of the padlocks
securing the chains around his right arm.
“Of course I don’t,” he said,
horrified by the thought, though part of him definitely felt otherwise, and
he could feel his hunger rising again with her proximity. He tried not to
look at the pulse beating in her neck, but he couldn’t block out the sound.
“And would you have done it if
you’d had your soul then?” she asked, unwinding the chain and proceeding to
free his left arm as well.
“See? It wasn’t you,” she said
simply, now working on the chains around his ankles. “The demon’s still
inside, but it doesn’t get to call the shots anymore, as long as you don’t
The only remaining chain was
the one around his torso, and he watched incredulously as she unlocked that
one too, and it fell to the floor with a clatter like the others. Now she
stood in front of him with her arms folded, looking him straight in the
eyes. “Angelus told me that his human soul would be too weak to fight the
demon. But you’re going to prove him wrong, and I’m going to help you.”
She picked up the jug of blood
again and held it out to him. “I wasn’t sure what kind would be best, so I
got cow and pig. If you don’t like this kind, the other one’s upstairs in
He reached up hesitantly to
accept the blood, his eyes still on hers, searching them for proof that she
really did want to help a creature like him, that she really did believe he
could be good in spite of his past and what he was, that she really did
trust him to be unchained and able to roam free within her home. As hard as
he looked, he couldn’t detect a single trace of insincerity in her. A spark
of hope ignited in his chest. Though he’d certainly done nothing to deserve
it, Buffy Summers, the one girl in all the world chosen to eradicate his
kind, who had more reason than most people currently living to want him
dead, had faith in him. The razor-sharp memories and powerful instincts
suddenly didn’t seem like an entirely impossible burden to bear.
She was almost at the top of
the stairs again when she turned around. “Um, do you want to come
upstairs?” she asked. “We don’t really have a guest bedroom, but we can at
least do better than the basement.”
He stood and followed her
cautiously up the stairs. “Kitchen’s that way,” she said, pointing to the
right, “and over here is the living room,” she added, leading him to the
left. She hurried ahead of him, making sure all the blinds in the room were
closed and curtains drawn so that it would still be safe for him in the
morning. “If you don’t feel like sleeping during the night, you can watch
TV or find a book from the sitting room over there.” Once she had finished
drawing the curtains over the last window, she faced him again, looking
more nervous and uncertain than he’d seen her so far. “Are…are you going to
be okay in here?” she said.
“I mean, do I need to stay
here and watch you all night, or can I go upstairs to bed and trust you not
to leave the house or…or hurt yourself, or something?” she clarified
This question caught him
off-guard. It hadn’t even occurred to him that not being chained up meant
he was capable of leaving the house. As for hurting himself, well, his mind
was already doing that more effectively than any physical pain ever could.
He could see that the Slayer was perfectly serious about being willing to
keep an eye on him all night, but he could also see that she was
exhausted—probably largely because of him. “You can go,” he said. “I’ll
Buffy woke up the next morning
only for her nostrils to be assaulted by a horrible smell. She scrambled
out of bed and, still in her pajamas, ran down the stairs to find out what
had caused it, her imagination showing her visions of half the house
burning down and her mom’s expression when she came home and discovered it.
Upon reaching the kitchen (which was still perfectly intact), she stopped
in her tracks. Angelus was standing in front of the stove, a look of
intense exasperation on his face. Sitting on the front right burner was a
frying pan, the contents of which were charred and smoking.
“Trying to go off the liquid
diet?” she said dryly.
He jumped and spun around.
Apparently he had been so preoccupied with his doomed cooking endeavor that
his supernatural hearing had failed to alert him to her approach. When he
saw her standing there, half amused, half mystified, his exasperation was
replaced with sheepishness. “No,” he said, avoiding her eyes and hunching
his shoulders slightly. “I just thought I would—well, you got blood for me,
“Were you…trying to make me
breakfast?” she asked, feeling both bemused and a little touched.
He turned off the stove and
nodded, still not looking at her. Buffy had a very strong suspicion that if
vampires could blush, he would be bright red right now, and she had to
admit, it was kind of adorable. “Not a lot of experience with cooking human
food, huh?” she said, leaning on the island and trying not to look too
“I think I ruined the frying
“Nah,” she said, waving a hand
dismissively. “A little dish soap and it’s good as new.” She went to the
pantry to get the Cheerios, which she set on the island, then retrieved
milk from the fridge and a clean bowl and spoon from the dishwasher.
“Here,” she said, holding out the bowl. “Bacon and eggs are kind of
advanced for someone who doesn’t normally use a kitchen, but Cheerios are
impossible to get wrong.”
His fingers brushed against
hers when he took the bowl, and the physical contact made her jolt
involuntarily, almost causing him to drop it. “Sorry,” she said quickly,
feeling rather flustered all of a sudden. “I’ll just, uh, clean this up.”
What was the matter with her? She moved around him to get the frying pan
and went to work scrubbing out the charred bacon and eggs in the sink.
They were both silent while
she cleaned the pan and he carefully poured cereal and milk into the bowl.
She also opened the window above the sink to help get rid of the burnt food
smell. When she turned around, task complete, Angelus was standing
awkwardly beside the island, upon which her bowl of Cheerios sat waiting
“Thanks!” she said. She sat down on one of the stools and
started eating. “Uh, are you going to have breakfast too?” she asked
“No. Vampires don’t need to
eat as often as humans.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, um, you can
sit down if you want.”
He took the stool at the
opposite end of the island.
“How long do you think it’ll
be until Darla and the others start wondering what happened to you?” she
asked about halfway through the bowl’s contents.
His expression darkened. He’d
spent so many years with all of them. Even though the vast majority of his
memories involving them were ugly and violent, they were still his family,
in a sense, and he could not contemplate bringing about their deaths with
any kind of pleasure. “They might already know, if Dru saw it and was lucid
enough to explain it.”
“Hmm,” said Buffy, frowning
slightly as she went back to her cereal.
A few minutes later, she was
finished. “You know, I don’t think I can call you Angelus,” she said,
letting her spoon clink down into the empty bowl, which she then deposited
in the sink. “Should I call you Liam?” she asked.
Now that he thought about it,
he didn’t much want to be called Angelus anymore, but he was sure it would
be worse to be called by his human name, having killed nearly everyone in
Galway who knew him by it.
She seemed to sense his lack
of enthusiasm for the idea. “Well I’ve got to call you something,” she said.
Her eyes brightened and her lips quirked in a slight smile—the first smile
he’d ever seen on her face. The sight of it was doing funny things to his
insides. “How about Angel?” she suggested.
He looked at her askance. “You
have a very strange sense of humor,” he said eventually.
Her smile widened. “Angel it
For the rest of the morning
and the first part of the afternoon, Buffy spread her homework out on the
dining room table and attempted to concentrate on it. However, the fact
that a centuries-old vampire was only a few yards away made it rather
difficult to concentrate on anything else. Sometimes when she glanced up
from her textbook, she saw the monster who had murdered Ben and Kendra
sitting on her couch, but then he would make some little motion that turned
him into Angel again.
The sheer number of changes
his soul had wrought in him still amazed her. She had expected a lot of the
big ones, but even his movements and mannerisms were different. Everything
about Angelus had screamed predator, from his walk to his smirk to his tone
of voice. His stance had been tall and confident and his speech had been
eloquent and smooth as silk. Angel, on the other hand, walked with his
broad shoulders hunched and his head down. He spoke hesitantly and awkwardly
when required to say more than one syllable at a time, and he rarely made
Eventually, she did make
progress in her homework, but not long after she got started on her French
assignment, she dropped her pencil in defeat, thudded her head down on her
workbook, and let out a loud groan of frustration.
“What’s wrong?” asked Angel,
setting his book aside and walking slowly into the dining room.
“Je n’aime pas le français,”
Buffy grumbled, her voice slightly muffled.
“Est-ce que je peux aider?”
Buffy lifted her head back off
her workbook and gaped at him. “You speak French?”
He nodded, looking sheepish
again. “What are you working on?”
“Impersonal pronouns,” said
Buffy darkly. For a second, he looked like he was going to laugh. A glimmer
of reflected light danced in his eyes, and she felt her breath catch in her
chest. Then she shook herself mentally and slid the workbook over so he
could see it better. He sat down in the chair next to her and quickly read
the exercises in question.
“Which ones are you having
“All of them?” said Buffy
He looked over the exercises
again. “May I?” he asked, indicating her pencil. She handed it to him,
careful not to let her skin touch his again, and he went through the questions
she had already answered. “You only got two of them wrong,” he said,
showing her. “That one should be ‘ce qui’ and this one should be
“Oh,” she said, frowning and
reading the sentences with his corrections included, trying to focus on the
meaning rather than how pretty his handwriting was. “But why is that one
An hour later, they had worked
their way almost to the end of what Buffy had been assigned for the
weekend, and she actually felt confident that she understood the material,
which was an extremely rare occurrence in French class. Just when they were
about to move on to the very last exercise (possessive pronouns), the
“Come in,” Buffy called
vaguely, her attention still on her workbook. The door opened and Willow,
Oz, Xander, and Cordelia came inside.
“Whoa! Angelus! He’s not
chained up!” said Xander in alarm, pointing at Angel, who tensed and moved
slightly closer to Buffy.
“That would be because I
unchained him,” said Buffy calmly.
For a second, Xander looked at
her like she was insane, but then he relaxed. “Oh, right,” he said,
“because it’s daylight, so he can’t escape anyway. And you’ve got a stake
at the ready in case he tries anything.”
“No, I unchained him before I
went to bed, and I don’t have any stakes.”
“What are you doing, working
on battle strategies or something?” said Willow before Xander could exclaim
further about Buffy’s apparent disregard for security.
“French homework,” said Buffy.
“You mean he’s tutoring
you?” said Xander in disbelief.
“Hello, did you miss last
night? Angel has a soul. Plus he speaks French, which means he now has both
of the qualities I require in my French tutors.”
“‘Angel’?” repeated Oz, while
Xander made an odd spluttering noise.
“Oh,” said Buffy, feeling
herself beginning to blush. “It just would have seemed weird to calling him
Angelus now that he has a soul.”
“That makes sense,” said
Willow. “’Cause ‘Angelus’ has all those bad connotations. A-and ‘Angel’ is
good, because it’s different enough with one less syllable and pronouncing
the other two syllables differently that it doesn’t make you think
‘Angelus’ when you say it, but it’s not so different that it’s completely
“Exactly,” said Oz, his face
not quite as straight as usual.
“Okay, well, the new name is
great, but we should also get you some clothes,” said Cordelia, becoming
the first one to address Angel directly. “Not that I have any objections to
that outfit, because,” she concluded her sentence with a dreamy expression
and a noise of appreciation somewhere between a groan and a sigh, at which
everyone stared at her. “What? Do you see how that material hangs on
him? I only didn’t say something about it before because he was evil, but
you know you were all thinking it.”
“I’m fairly certain I wasn’t,”
said Xander, scowling.
“My point,” Cordelia resumed,
ignoring Xander, “is that as great as that outfit is, you need more than
one outfit, and new, less ‘creature of the night on the prowl’ type outfits
would be better than all those ones you wore when you were killing people
every night, right?” She looked around at everyone else for support.
Angel wasn’t the only one
wincing at her lack of tact, but she did have a point.
“Great,” said Buffy. “So,
shopping later, but what are you guys doing here?”
“Giles and Miss Kalderash sent
us to see if you needed help with…anything,” said Willow, fidgeting
nervously, her eyes darting from Buffy to Angel and then back again.
Buffy’s friends ended up
staying for a few hours. Angel felt less at ease with all of them there
than he had when it was just himself and Buffy, and not just because their
blood smelled much better than what she had bought for him. It wasn’t that
they were deliberately unpleasant company—well, with the occasional
exception of Xander, who seemed to be the only one having difficulty with
the idea that he was on their side now (though, as Angel couldn’t really
blame him for that, it didn’t bother him). No, they were friendly enough,
but their curiosity made him uncomfortable.
Willow, once she mustered
enough courage to speak to him directly, spent much of her visit bombarding
him with all kinds of questions, ranging from how he managed to shave with
no reflection to whether or not various details from her history textbook
were accurate. Cordelia made no attempt to conceal her interest in him,
which he suspected was the main reason for Xander’s irritable attitude.
Personally, Angel found this interest a little incredible, considering that
he had tried to have her for dinner less than twenty-four hours ago. Oz
mostly remained silent, watching Willow’s interrogation with subtle
amusement and affection in his eyes.
Despite feeling slightly
overwhelmed by the attention, Angel was nevertheless grateful for the
distraction it provided from thoughts about his past. He was also grateful
that Buffy stayed beside him for the duration of their visit. If he hadn’t
already spent several hours in her company, he might have thought she was
merely positioning herself ideally to protect her friends from him if he
tried to hurt them (which was what Xander seemed to think she was doing,
thus explaining the absence of fear in his scent), but he recognized that
she was actually offering him her unspoken support.
He valued this support even
more when Oz took Willow and Xander home at sunset and Cordelia announced
that it was time to go clothes shopping. For two and a half centuries, his
interpretation of “shopping” had involved killing well-dressed men who were
the same height and build as him and stealing their clothes, or else
looting a shop after killing the workers and patrons. Obviously that was
going to change.
Cordelia insisted on paying
for everything, and though this offer sounded rather less generous coming
from her than it might have done from someone with tact, it was also
strangely impossible to turn down. Buffy accompanied them and spent much of
the trip deflecting Cordelia’s attempts to make him try on clothes he had
no taste for. This was especially helpful because he wasn’t sure he was up
to using his intimidating glare on anyone, but also because he suspected it
might not work on Cordelia even if he tried it. In the end, apart from
essentials like socks, boxers, and undershirts, he acquired a few pairs of
black pants, several button-up shirts and pullovers (all of which were
black, blue, or dark burgundy), and a leather jacket. Some of the items he
had only agreed to get because of Buffy’s appreciative reactions to how he
looked in them (which she displayed far more subtly than Cordelia
It was a relief to be back at
Buffy’s house again and free of Cordelia’s forceful personality. He drank
some more of the blood in the fridge while he watched Buffy cook pasta for
her dinner, hoping to discover the secret of how to use a stove properly.
Throughout the day, he was
constantly amazed by how many things he had failed to notice about Buffy
when he didn’t have a soul, despite having had her firmly in his sights and
studied her as closely as he would any other “project” victim. He now saw
how sincere she was as a friend, and the way people gravitated towards her
and relied on her. He saw the way her whole face lit up when she laughed.
He discovered that she was very smart, and not just when it came to
slaying—though she didn’t seem to realize it, if her lack of confidence in
her French was any indication—, and she had an active sense of humor that
could be sarcastic without being cruel.
Before he had a soul, he had
respected her for her achievements as a Slayer—it must have required a
great deal of strength and skill to kill a vampire as old and powerful as
the Master, after all, but he had been more intrigued by her remarkably
open heart. Of course, that quality had only interested him as something he
could destroy. He was glad he hadn’t had the opportunity (or perhaps the
capacity) to see just how open her heart was. His guilt and remorse for
what he had done to her and his absolute certainty that he didn’t deserve
so much as a second of her notice should have had him running as far away
from her as he could, but instead he wanted to do the opposite.
“Hey, uh, do you want to go
patrolling with me?” Buffy asked a little later in the evening. “You don’t
have to, but it would be a good opportunity to see how we fight as a team
instead of opponents.”
Angel was so taken aback by
her invitation that he did not immediately respond, and Buffy’s face fell
as she interpreted his silence as a refusal. “That’s okay,” she said.
“Maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea to give the bad guys—”
“I’d like to come with you.”
“—A chance to see you working
with the enemy this early on.” She froze and looked at him, realizing what
he’d said. “Oh.” She blushed. “Okay. Um, do you need a stake?” she blushed
even harder and answered her own question, “Of course you need a stake; why
would you have one already? I’ll be right back.”
She dashed upstairs, very
conscious of her burning cheeks. Why couldn’t she get a grip? They were
only going patrolling; it wasn’t as if she had asked him on a date. Still,
that didn’t stop her from checking her reflection before leaving her
bedroom with two stakes in hand.
“Ready to go?” she asked when
she was almost to the bottom of the stairs again, hoping she sounded and
appeared more composed now. In the minute or so that she’d been in her
room, he had donned his long wool coat and moved to the foot of the stairs
to wait for her.
He nodded in response to her
question, then proceeded to open the front door for her. None of this was
helping her to shake the “date” comparison—at least, not until he asked,
“Tonight’s Restfield and Shady Hill first, right?”
“You know my patrolling
pattern?” she said, and her surprise made it come out more sharply than she
“Yeah,” he said after a few
seconds, his head dropping an inch or so.
This unexpected revelation of
how much her enemy had known about her made her shudder. Angel noticed;
Buffy saw him turn his face away out of the corner of her eye—Angel, not
Angelus. She walked a little closer to his side as they continued up the
street, wanting to reassure him.
There were no new graves at
Restfield, but Shady Hill had two, and they were just close enough to be
able to see the freshly turned earth of one of them from between the
surrounding headstones when a pale, grimy hand broke the surface.
“So have you ever actually
dusted any vampires before?” said Buffy as they watched the fledgling
vampire fight his way out of his grave.
“The ones that challenged me,”
said Angel. “Or annoyed me.”
“Want to show me what you’ve
got?” said Buffy with a playful smirk.
It didn’t exactly require much
skill to stake the vampire. He still wasn’t out of his grave yet, so Angel
only had to wait for him to extricate his torso before plunging the stake
through his heart.
“Maybe a cemetery isn’t the
best place for us to go if we want to find out how well we fight together,”
said Buffy, frowning. No sooner had she said it, however, than Angel closed
the distance between them, grabbed her by the upper arms, and pulled her
behind a mausoleum, where he pinned her against the stone wall with his
body and covered her mouth with his hand. Startled, her immediate,
instinctive reaction being to assume that he was attacking, she struggled
to get free, but he held her still. She relaxed when she realized from the
tilt of his head and his alert expression that he was listening hard to
something she couldn’t hear.
Five vampires were on their
way into the cemetery. Angel didn’t recognize their voices, but he thought
they must be relatively young, because they clearly didn’t know the first
thing about stealth. He looked down at Buffy, who was staring up at him
with wide eyes. It hadn’t occurred to him when he pulled her to where she
wouldn’t be seen by the incoming vampires what a precarious position he’d
be putting them in. Her body was still flush against his, her throat still
inches away from his teeth. He didn’t know which was the stronger
He slowly removed the hand
covering her mouth. His gaze drifted to her neck, her lips, and back up to
“Vampires?” she mouthed,
reminding him of the situation. He nodded. “How many?”
“Five. They’re coming to greet
the new member of their gang—too bad he’s already dust.”
Her smirk was back. “Think we
can take ‘em?”
He stared at her for a moment.
She looked eager and excited at the prospect of fighting alongside him. He
couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face. “Definitely,” he said.
Once the vampires were close
enough, Buffy and Angel sprang out from behind the mausoleum and attacked.
Nobody watching the fight would have guessed that this was the first time
they’d worked together. They ducked and weaved around each other, punching
and kicking the vampires around them and dodging retaliatory blows. Not
even with Kendra had Buffy experienced this level of synchronicity. The
vampires barely had time to register their shock and outrage that one of
their own kind was helping the Slayer fight them before they were all
turning to dust in quick succession.
Buffy let out a delighted
laugh, and Angel turned to face her just in time for her to throw her arms
around him in a hug that nearly knocked him off his feet. “That was
incredible!” she squealed. “Fifty points for team us. We should always be
Though Angel returned the hug
automatically, it had taken him completely by surprise. The last person to
hug him like this had been Kathy, and he’d either forgotten or never really
appreciated how warm and wonderful it could be. But Buffy definitely wasn’t
his sister, and though his feelings for her were confusing and frightening
and mixed up with the memories of how he had felt without his soul, they
definitely weren’t brotherly. He gently disengaged her arms from around his
neck and set her back on her feet. By this point, she was blushing
furiously again and not looking at him, having clearly realized that she’d
made him uncomfortable.
“Um. Ready to head to cemetery
number three?” she said awkwardly.
“Willow tells me you prefer to
be known as ‘Angel’ now,” said Giles.
“It was Buffy’s idea,” said
Angel. It was Monday, and true to his word, Giles had opened his apartment
to Angel now that Mrs. Summers was home.
“Hm,” said Giles as he chewed
a bite of scone, looking thoughtful. After swallowing, he asked, “How’ve
you been keeping so far, in the aftermath of the curse?”
Angel stared at the table
between them. “It’s hard,” he said. He hesitated, but this Watcher seemed
to encourage confidences with his hospitality and his calm manner. “Buffy
treats me like someone she can trust, but every time I close my eyes, I see
the face of someone I killed.”
“Someone the demon
killed,” said Giles firmly. “You had no soul then, no capacity to choose
differently than what your demonic nature demanded. Why do you think the
Slayer’s calling is to kill vampires? Even if they are fresh out of
the grave and have never killed before, she doesn’t first offer them an
opportunity to change their ways, because they are incapable of it. Without
souls, they have no free will. Evil is their only option. There is no
possibility for them to be reformed or redeemed, so the only way to ensure
they don’t kill is to kill them. To blame you for what you did when you
were like the rest of them would be unjust in the extreme.”
Angel couldn’t look at Giles.
His words made logical sense, but it wasn’t easy to believe them while he
shared his body and mind with the monster that had done all of those
things. He still felt like that monster. He was afraid of himself.
He had thoughts and desires he couldn’t control or suppress. Not five
minutes ago, it had occurred to him that he had now been invited into the
homes of both the Slayer and her Watcher, so he could kill them in their
sleep whenever he felt like it. He tried to push the idea away, but it
continued to lurk beneath the surface. He missed Darla, Penn, and Dru—hell,
he even missed Spike. He missed how simple everything had been before the
curse. He hated the cold, flat animal blood he had to drink now. His
insides ached for human blood that was warm and alive and richly seasoned
with fear. His fangs itched with the need to pierce living flesh.
“I don’t know if I can help
“With killing Darla and the
others?” said Giles, raising his teacup to his mouth again.
“I know what they’ve done. I
know the longer they stay alive, the more innocent people they’ll kill,
“You care about them,” Giles
finished the sentence for him. Angel looked at him in surprise. He didn’t
appear angry or disappointed. “It’s only to be expected. You’ve spent over
a century with all of them, and over two with Darla and Penn.”
“I didn’t care before.”
“But now you have a soul. You
think humans never care for those we know don’t deserve it? Believe me, I
appreciate your reluctance to work against them, but you must understand
that my sympathies are with their future victims.”
A week and two days after
being cursed with his soul, Angel was feeling restless. He and Buffy had
finished patrolling hours ago and Giles was asleep upstairs in his room.
He’d been spending a lot more time awake during the day lately than he
usually did, but he was still nocturnal by nature, so it was almost
impossible to sleep at night. Instead of trying this time, he stole quietly
out of Giles’s apartment. He didn’t really have a particular destination in
mind, but he soon found himself standing in front of the mansion. He
hesitated. Would they know about his soul? Aside from Dru’s clairvoyant
abilities, it was also entirely possible that they’d heard he was fighting
on Buffy’s side from some demon or vampire who had witnessed one of the
patrols. If they did know, he doubted he’d get a warm welcome. Still, now
that he was already here…he had to see them.
Inside the great room of the
mansion, Angel found Spike and Dru passionately making out on the sofa
while Penn was draining whatever blood he could still get out of the newly
dead corpse of a woman. Darla was nowhere to be seen, but Angel knew she
was somewhere nearby. “How many times have I told you to clean up after
your meals?” he said coldly to Penn.
Penn’s head jerked up from the
woman’s neck and Spike and Drusilla broke apart. “Angelus!” said Penn, his blood-smeared face splitting
into a fanged grin. “Where’ve you been?”
“We were starting to think the
Slayer got you,” said Spike, sounding as though he wouldn’t have minded too
much if she had.
“Nonsense, my dear,” said
Drusilla. “The Slayer can’t kill Daddy.” She looked up at Angel and tilted
her head to the side. “Nor does she want to.”
“And what is that
supposed to mean?” said Darla, stepping into the room from the hall. Her
tone held the same bite of condescension it almost always had when she
spoke to Dru, but her narrowed eyes were fixed on Angel. “Angelus killed
the Slayer’s boyfriend and the other Slayer in front of her eyes. Why on
earth wouldn’t she want him dead?”
Dru giggled. “Because she
wants him, Grandmum.”
“You’re seducing the Slayer?”
said Darla incredulously.
Angel raised an eyebrow.
“What’s wrong, Darla? Jealous?”
Penn chuckled. Darla shot him
a brief withering look before fixing her icy gaze on Angel again. “What
makes you think you’ll succeed?”
“She thinks I’m good now,”
said Angel casually. “She’s already invited me into her house. The rest of
the plan is on hold until I’m in her bed.”
“What, we can’t even kill her
friends?” said Spike crossly. “You said I could have the redhead.”
“All good things to those who
For the next few days, Angel
could think of little but the encounter at the mansion. It had been so easy
to slip back into his place with all of them. Only Darla had seemed
suspicious, though that might have just been annoyance at the revised plan.
Could he really go back? Did he want to? Surely his past wouldn’t be able
to torment him like this if he embraced it. He wouldn’t be reduced to
drinking the blood of cattle and swine. He wouldn’t be constantly
struggling against his nature.
In these vague terms, it
seemed like it would be so simple. But that illusion shattered when he
forced himself to think of the details. Buffy. To secure his place with
them, he would have to carry out all of his old plans for her, and now he
would also have to seduce her first. He could not deny that her blood was
the most tantalizing of any he had ever smelled, nor that he wanted her
more than he had ever wanted anyone, but the thought of deceiving her and
hurting her repulsed him. Had her health and happiness really come to mean
more to him in under two weeks than the family he’d been with for
Beyond his interest in Buffy,
it was also difficult to stomach the idea of doing any of the things he
used to do to his victims again, and the thought of forcing himself to do
it enough that it would no longer affect him almost made him physically
ill. If he remained on Buffy’s side, he would never have to do any of that
again, and perhaps he would eventually be able to accept the truth of what
she and Giles had said: that he was not responsible for what he’d done
without a soul and it was unfair to blame himself for any of it when he
couldn’t possibly have stopped it.
The prospect of living with
himself until then, however, was unbearable. And so he’d find himself back
at the beginning of that train of thought, and around and around it went.
“So, what exactly are we doing
in the library in the middle of the night?” Buffy asked.
“Sparring,” said Angel.
Buffy turned to look at him
and saw that he had removed his coat and was halfway through unbuttoning
his shirt, revealing the white cotton v-neck underneath it. She swallowed,
trying not to look at or think about his torso. Just last night, he’d been
injured by one of the demons they’d been fighting. The wound hadn’t been
major, but she’d still insisted on patching him up, which had required him
to be shirtless. She hadn’t been able to think straight in any of her
classes the following day, and several pages of her sparser-than-usual
notes contained sketches of his tattoo in the margins. “Why spar when we
could just patrol some more?” she said.
“Because I’m going to show you
how Darla, Penn, Dru, and Spike fight.”
Buffy’s eyes widened. “You
mean you’re ready to fight them?” Giles had told her of his conversation
with Angel, as a result of which she hadn’t been pressing him to plan their
attack on the other vampires. She hadn’t expected him to bring it up this
Angel grimaced. “I don’t know
if I’ll ever be ready to fight them,” he said, “but that’s no reason why
you shouldn’t be.” He set his shirt on the table next to his coat, then
slipped off his shoes. Buffy did the same, glad she was dressed in
comfortable, stretchy clothes.
After she tucked a stake into
the waistband of her pants, they moved to the large open space in the
center of the library. “So, which opponent will I be facing first?” she
said. This exercise intrigued her greatly.
“Got a preference?”
“Hmm,” she said, tapping her
chin thoughtfully with a finger. “Darla,” she decided after a few seconds.
“Okay,” said Angel. He began
to pace in a wide circle, and Buffy copied him. “For Darla, this is
personal. You killed the Master, and she wants you dead for that. You two
are going to be pretty evenly matched, though. She’s had a long time to
work on her technique, but you’re the same size as her and have about the
same strength. But Darla fights dirty. If there’s anything she can do to
give herself the edge, she’ll do it. She’s fast and she’s vicious.” They
halted and faced each other.
“You sure you can imitate her
style from all the way up there?” asked Buffy teasingly, shifting her
weight from one foot to the other in preparation for the first part of
their sparring match.
Angel smirked. “I think I can
pull it off.”
Buffy nodded, indicating she
was ready. Angel lunged at her. She dropped one foot back and caught him by
the arm, sending him skidding along the floor to the base of the short
flight of steps leading to the bookstacks.
“Is this really a good idea?”
she said anxiously as he got to his feet.
“I can handle it,” he said.
“Actually I was more worried
about whether the library can handle it,” Buffy clarified.
Angel chuckled. “I’ll try not
to break anything in here if you will.”
He dove at her again, blocking
before she could use his weight against him like the first time. He aimed a
few open-handed blows at her head, which she deflected, then seized her by the
shoulders. He tried to throw her, but her stance was too firm, so he ended
up sending them both rolling. He leapt to his feet first, but she swung her
leg around and knocked him back to the ground. Before he could get up
again, she pinned him and thunked the blunt end of her stake against his
They continued to practice
this scenario for about half an hour, by which point Angel was satisfied
that Buffy would be prepared to go up against the real Darla.
“Okay,” Buffy said, bouncing
on her feet a little as they circled each other again. Endorphins and
adrenaline were pumping through her and she was eager for the next stage of
the sparring. “Who will I be fighting next?”
“Spike,” said Angel. “He
doesn’t really have a set technique, he just fights with a combination of
brutality, taunts, and evasion. That coat he wears billows up behind him a
lot when he moves, so make sure you don’t let it distract you.” He picked
up his own coat off the table as he spoke and put it back on. “He loses his
temper easily, and that’s when he makes the most mistakes. Always have your
stake in your hand when you’re fighting him. He’s killed two Slayers, and
he managed it because he got them away from their weapons. The harder you
fight, the harder he’ll fight back. He’ll only slow down when one of you is
This time, there was much less
grappling and much more punching and kicking. Though Angel didn’t throw in
any verbal taunts, his body language had the same effect as spoken jeers
all on its own. This was surprisingly irritating and distracting, but only
heightened Buffy’s determination to win. They had a close call with one of
the bookcases about fifteen minutes in, but by the time another half hour
had passed, their surroundings were still intact.
Before continuing on to part
three, they took a short break. Angel stretched a bit while Buffy went to
get a drink of water at the drinking fountain in the hall. “Intermission
over,” she announced as she strode back inside the library. Angel’s coat
was once again on the table. “Drusilla next?”
Angel nodded, looking
thoughtful for a moment. “Dru is probably the most dangerous,” he said
eventually. “Even though she’s the weakest physically, she’s insane and she
can see the future. In a fight, that gives her the advantages of being
unpredictable and of knowing her opponent’s moves before they make them.
Never ever look into her eyes. She can hypnotize you with a single
glance. Try to throw her off by thinking about the wrong moves so she’ll
have a harder time figuring out the moves you’re really going to make.”
This fight was definitely the
most challenging so far. Buffy had a hard time with the rule about not
looking into the eyes—that was normally where she picked up hints about her
opponent’s next move. Every time she slipped up and looked him in the eye,
Angel made them start over. He used such a wide, disjointed array of moves
against her that she probably wouldn’t have been able to see them coming
even without the eye rule, but she got better and better at adjusting anyway.
It was also hard to think about one move while doing a different one and
blocking his, but that too got easier with practice. By the time she passed
him up in the number of rounds won, this part had gone on for nearly a full
They took an even longer break
once they finished. Buffy knew she was probably going to spend the entire
day at school feeling more sore and exhausted than she had in her whole
career as a Slayer, but for now, she still had enough energy to burn for
the fourth and final portion of the sparring session.
“Ready?” Angel said when she
returned from another trip to the drinking fountain.
“Yep,” said Buffy.
“Okay. Penn fights like me,
but sloppier. He never had the patience to learn finesse. If you can take
me, you can take him.”
“So I’m fighting you this
time?” she asked.
Buffy grinned. She’d had many
opportunities to observe his fighting style during their patrols over the
last couple of weeks. This was going to be fun. He opened with a roundhouse
kick that would have hit her squarely in the head if she hadn’t ducked. She
kicked back, but he blocked it, then came at her with a powerful reverse
punch. She dodged, grabbed his arm at the elbow and wrist, then swung it
around so that he was pulled off his feet and went sprawling on the floor,
but he quickly rolled and was back upright in a second.
For the first twenty minutes,
every time Buffy got close to hitting his chest with the blunt end of the
stake, he would suddenly reclaim the upper hand and put her back into
defense mode. The fight moved up the steps to continue amidst the
bookshelves, and thanks to her smaller size, Buffy had the advantage in
these closer quarters. She finally succeeded in throwing him back against
the wall, and the stake touched his chest a split-second before his hand
could close around her wrist.
She smirked triumphantly up at
him, covered in sweat, her chest heaving as the two and a half hours of
exertion caught up to her. Her smirk faded, however, at the sight of the
intense look on his face and the way his eyes bored into hers. She didn’t
know which of them moved first, but the next second, the stake had fallen
to the floor with a clatter, their arms were locked tightly around each
other, and they were kissing fiercely.
Buffy couldn’t form a coherent
thought. She’d never been kissed like this in her life. His cool body felt wonderful
against her own overheated one. She pressed even closer, wanting more of
that contact, and she stood on tiptoe to get a better angle for kissing
him. After what might have been several minutes for all she could tell, she
became dimly aware that he had maneuvered them so that she was the one with
her back to the bookshelves.
She never wanted him to stop,
but then the stray observation that it felt so different kissing him than
it had to kiss Ben drifted across her mind. It was as if her heart had
turned to ice. She broke away from Angel with a gasp that was more of a
sob. “Oh, God,” she said, covering her mouth with her hand, tears blurring
her vision. “Ben.”
Angel’s expression of dazed
confusion at the abrupt end of the kiss turned stricken at the sound of the
name. “I’m sorry!” he said, jerking his hands away from her as if he’d been
burned and taking a step back. “I shouldn’t have—”
“No!” said Buffy, trying to
pull herself together, but her voice was still shaky and cracked. “It’s not
you! I’m not blaming you. It’s just—it hasn’t even been three months since
he died. I shouldn’t be kissing anyone!” She felt like she might be sick.
Ben deserved better than this. She should be able to show more respect and
grieve a decent length of time. She felt Angel’s tentative hand on her
shoulder, and she allowed him to pull her into his arms, now crying harder
Angel deserved better than
this, too, and Ben would want her to move on and be happy. She’d been
trying to pretend the feelings weren’t there, but now that she was being
honest with herself, she could admit that she was falling for Angel hard
and fast. She had expected him to be more like the man Angelus had
described—rude and licentious, perhaps—but he wasn’t. He was quiet and
polite and considerate almost to a fault; she always felt completely safe
around him; and, like Cordelia, now that he had a soul, she was free to
acknowledge how gorgeous he was.
After a few minutes of being
held by him, her crying subsided, but she made no effort to move out of his
arms. She felt a little better now. That was the first time she’d really
allowed herself to cry after Ben’s death. She’d been carrying the grief and
pain inside her all this time, but getting them out into the open seemed to
have eased their weight in her chest and afforded her a sense of peace.
“You know,” said Angel
quietly, “I’ve wanted to kiss you since the first moment I saw you after
Buffy looked up at him in
surprise, tears still clinging to her cheeks and eyelashes.
“You were standing there and I
thought you were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. But then
everything came back, and I didn’t think you could ever think of me that
way.” He smiled ruefully. “It was almost enough and already more than I
deserved just to help you with your French homework and patrol with you.”
After a brief examination of
her feelings, Buffy decided it was safe to let him know what his words
meant to her. She stood on tiptoe again and kissed him. Though it was their
second, this was much closer to her idea of a first kiss: gentle, hesitant,
and sweet. When they broke apart, she smiled at him. They moved back to the
main part of the library to retrieve their shoes and his shirt and coat.
“Walk me home?” she asked shyly when he was ready to go, holding out a
hand. He took it and they departed the library together.
Buffy was so drained, both
physically and emotionally, that she didn’t even protest when Angel scooped
her up into his arms a couple of blocks away from the school and carried
her the rest of the way home. She merely snuggled against his broad chest,
and by the time he reached their destination, she was fast asleep. With
only slight difficulty, he managed to get up to the roof and through her
window without waking her. Still being careful not to disturb her, he
pulled back the covers on her bed and laid her down, then removed her shoes
and tucked her in. Before leaving, he leaned down and pressed a brief kiss
to the corner of her mouth.
Buffy had been completely
right in thinking that she would be horribly sore from all the sparring the
following day at school. She hurt everywhere, even though Angel had been
very good about not letting his punches and kicks actually connect with any
real force. It also didn’t help that she’d gotten much less sleep than
usual, nor that she was even more distracted today by fantasies of her and
Angel kissing than she had been yesterday by memories of his very
attractive shirtless torso. Xander, Willow, Oz, and Cordelia wanted to go
to the Bronze later, but Buffy had to turn down the invitation to join them
due to exhaustion, and she was deeply thankful when Giles told her she
should take the night off from patrolling as well.
Not long after sunset, there
was a knock on her bedroom window. She looked up from the homework strewn
across her bed and a wide smile lit her face to see Angel crouched outside.
She started to get up, but her muscles protested painfully and she winced
and resumed her previous position, gesturing that he could come in, which
“Hey,” he said. “Giles said
you were staying home tonight.”
“Yeah,” she said somewhat
grumpily. “How come you aren’t partially paralyzed too?”
“I spent the whole day
sleeping off the worst of it,” he admitted.
“Anything I can do?” he said,
sitting down in the homework-free space next to her and covering her hand
“Well…you could patrol for
me,” she said, leaning against his shoulder and looking up at him with
wide, imploring eyes. “Giles gave me the night off, but I don’t want my
sore muscles to cost people their lives.”
“Of course,” he said. Buffy
beamed at him and kissed him on the cheek. “Any French homework you want me
to help you with when I’m done?” he asked, sounding hopeful.
“Peut-être,” she said slyly,
concealing with difficulty how delighted she was that he was fishing for
reasons to spend time with her.
“Alors, je reviendrai, ma
mie,” he said.
Almost sure she had understood
him, she grinned and replied, “Je vais t’attendre, mon ange.” At this, he
gave the closest thing to a goofy smile she had ever seen on him, and they
shared a lingering kiss before he departed.
Xander was on his way back
from the Bronze (on foot, because Cordelia still refused to be seen driving
him home and he valued his male dignity too much to ask her to in the first
place) when he caught sight of Angel walking alone at the other end of the
street. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. Wasn’t he supposed to be at Giles’s
apartment or patrolling with Buffy? Xander hadn’t spent a great deal of
time in Angel’s company since that first Saturday, but the vampire’s surly,
brooding behavior during the time they had been in the same room as each other
hadn’t done much to earn the boy’s trust—though, admittedly, he wasn’t
likely to offer much benefit of the doubt to an undead guy who kept making
his best friend and girlfriend swoon without even trying anyway.
Ignoring the nagging voice in
the back of his mind trying to warn him that this was a bad idea, he
quickened his pace and began to follow Angel at a distance. It was lucky he
still retained the stealth training from his soldier-boy costume at
Halloween, or he’d probably give himself away in a second. As it was, he
was able to move very quietly, and as a bonus, a breeze blew steadily from
Angel’s direction towards him, ensuring that his scent didn’t go anywhere
near Angel’s sensitive nose.
After about a quarter of an
hour, they reached one of the city’s many cemeteries, and Xander was
slightly disappointed to recognize that the thing in Angel’s hand was just
a stake. Was he really only out here to patrol? But then, before Xander
could slink off in the direction of home, a voice rang out that nearly
caused him to jump out of his skin. It took him a few seconds to realize
that it wasn’t actually coming from right next to him, but merely being
carried back to him on the same wind that kept Angel from hearing or
“Hello, my darling boy.” The
voice belonged to Darla, who had just stepped out from behind a large
statue in the cemetery. “Where’s the Slayer? Haven’t you been spending your
evenings helping her kill our kind?”
“It’s an easy way to gain her
trust,” said Angel, shrugging. “And it must be working, because tonight she
sent me out by myself.”
“You can stop pretending,
Angelus. Since your last visit, Drusilla saw what they did to you. I know
about that tortured little soul of yours.”
“I’m not pretending, Darla,”
said Angel, a growl in his voice that made Xander want to turn tail and
run, but he had to hear more. He edged as far around the tree he was using
for cover as he dared, hoping to get a better view of them. “It’s still
me,” Angel was saying. “You think a soul is enough to erase the last two
hundred and fifty years?”
“Not erase them, no,” said
Darla. “But it still changes things. How do I know you’re not really
working with the Slayer? I can smell her all over you.”
Angel laughed derisively. “You
do understand the concept of a seduction, don’t you? Physical contact is
kind of the whole point.”
“I’ll believe that’s all it is
when the Slayer’s dead at your hands.”
“You won’t have to wait long,”
he said, before leaning down and sealing his words with a kiss.
The next day at school, Xander
was still so shaken by what he had witnessed that he knocked into several
people on his way through the halls. He finally located Buffy sitting with
Willow in the courtyard. They were both giggling, and he caught the words
“Angel” and “smoochies” during the moment’s hesitation he took to decide
whether this was something he wanted to interrupt, which had the immediate
effect of steeling his resolve to do so.
“Buffy,” he said, causing
Buffy and Willow to look around at him.
“Hey, Xander,” she said
cheerfully, and her greeting was echoed by Willow.
“I need to talk to you,” he
Buffy and Willow frowned and
exchanged glances. “What’s up?” asked Willow.
“Look, it’s about Angel. Can
we just go somewhere to talk?”
Buffy’s expression hardened,
but before she could say anything, Willow stood up, slinging her backpack
over her shoulder. “I’ll see you guys in class,” she said, and she hurried
“Okay, Xander, I guess this is
somewhere to talk now,” said Buffy coolly. “So what exactly do you have to
say about Angel?”
Xander struggled for words.
How did you tell your best friend that her new boyfriend was plotting with
his seemingly-not-so-ex to kill her? Ultimately, he settled on asking, “Are
you two together now?”
“How do you know about that?”
“Because last night I heard
Angel bragging about it to Darla,” said Xander. They were lucky
nobody else was nearby, because he was having difficulty containing his
Buffy’s eyes went round as
coins. “No,” she protested weakly, “he wouldn’t.”
“Well, he did. I guess
everything you’ve done to try to help him hasn’t meant very much, because
he still wants to hang out with his old crowd, even if their price for
readmission is your life.”
“But it—it was probably just an
act!” said Buffy, more conviction in her voice now that she had recovered
from the initial shock of Xander’s accusations. “If he ran into Darla
unexpectedly, then of course he’d act like Angelus so she wouldn’t suspect
what we’re planning.”
“Maybe last night was
unexpected, but from the way they were talking, it wasn’t the first time
they’ve met up since the curse. He’s been to see her and the rest of them
“But Giles said it’s normal
for him to miss them. He probably just wanted to see them. It doesn’t mean
he’s on their side.”
“Okay, then he must be one
hell of a good actor, because kissed her and he’s got her convinced
that he’s seducing you so that killing you will be more fun.”
Buffy stared at him, her eyes
filling slowly with tears.
“I’m sorry,” said Xander
sincerely, lowering his voice back to normal conversational volume. He
hated how much this was hurting her, but she had to know the truth. “Once a
vampire, always a vampire. We thought having a soul might change that, but
we were wrong.”
Buffy was more distracted in
class than ever after her conversation with Xander. She didn’t take any
notes at all, instead spending the time repeatedly combing over all of her
interactions with Angel, searching desperately for evidence that would clear
him of the charges Xander had laid against him. She couldn’t recall
anything to indicate that he had been wearing a mask with her, and she
couldn’t imagine how anyone who had suffered such acute anguish and guilt
as Angel had in those first moments after he was cursed would be able to
turn around and conspire to kill someone who cared about him.
She was determined not to come
to any conclusions until she saw Angel that evening, but she was terrified
that he would do something to prove Xander right. By the time her last
class was over, she had worked herself into a state of near emotional
collapse. Without even checking in at the library after the final bell
rang, she exited the school and headed straight for Giles’s apartment. It
would be at least two hours before Giles got home (longer if Miss Kalderash
distracted him), which should leave her plenty of time to talk to Angel.
Careful to make as little
noise as possible, she slipped inside the apartment. The urge to barge in
while loudly calling Angel’s name had been strong, but she knew he was
probably asleep, and she wanted to approach the matter more subtly than
Xander had. As it turned out, she was correct. Angel was lying on his
stomach on Giles’s couch, dressed in sweatpants and an undershirt, his head
pillowed on his arms and his bare feet sticking out past the other armrest.
Buffy came around to kneel on
the rug in front of the couch, her eyes fixed on Angel’s face. He looked so
peaceful and innocent. Xander had to have been wrong about what he saw.
Buffy wanted to let Angel sleep, but then his expression changed. His brow
furrowed and he shivered. His hands clenched on the cushion of the couch.
“Angel, wake up,” said Buffy,
stretching out a hand towards his face. Before her fingers reached it, there
was a low growl, her wrist was caught in a vice-like grip, and she found
herself inches away from a pair of angry yellow eyes and a set of bared,
glistening fangs. She barely had time to do more than be very alarmed when
recognition dawned in Angel’s eyes, which turned back to brown as his
vampiric features became human once more and he released his hold on her
“Buffy,” he said thickly,
hastily moving to sit up on the couch. “What are you doing here so early?
Is something wrong?”
“I just wanted to see you,”
she said, taking the cushion next to him. She opened her mouth, then closed
it again, suddenly at a loss to ask the questions that had been burning in
her mind all day. She cast around for something else to say instead. “I
think maybe you should start looking for your own place. This couch is way
too small for you.”
“I’ve had worse,” he said,
shrugging. “But you’re probably right. I think Giles would like his living
room and fridge space back eventually.”
He fell silent and Buffy
watched him for a moment. “Are you okay?” she asked. “You looked like you
were starting to have a nightmare—or a daymare, I guess.”
Rather than reacting, he
merely stared at the coffee table, his head low.
Buffy’s chest tightened. “You
have them every day, don’t you?” she said, reaching for his hand and
slipping her fingers between his. The interrogation could definitely wait.
Now that she was here with him, she didn’t see how Xander could possibly be
“You know I’d do anything to
help you, don’t you? I know I probably can’t even imagine how hard it is
for you, but I’m here, okay?”
He gave her hand a squeeze. “I
Buffy managed to convince
Xander not to reveal what he had overheard to anyone else by telling him
that they couldn’t let Angel know they knew, or it would put them and the
other Scoobies in danger, and in the meantime, she was being careful and
waiting for Angel to slip up. It was technically true, she and Xander just
had very different expectations of how it would all play out.
Another couple of weeks passed
without Angel showing any sign that he was still in league with Darla, and
the last of Buffy’s misgivings began to fade. As per her suggestion (and
much to Giles’s quiet relief, even though Angel had given him little to
complain about as a flatmate), he began to look for his own apartment. They
also continued to spar in addition to regular patrols, playing out many
different scenarios of how the actual fight against the other vampires
would go. Buffy took this as further proof of Angel’s innocence; why would
he give her detailed knowledge of how to kill them if his plan was really
to kill her? Some of the sparring sessions were poorly disguised preludes
to make-out sessions, it was true, but she still came away from each one
feeling more prepared than before.
Darla’s patience had worn
thin. No matter what Angelus said to the contrary, that soul was a problem.
Unbeknownst to him, she had been following him and the Slayer on their
patrols, and if she had to watch them kissing and making moon eyes at each
other one more night when he should be tearing her throat out, she was
going to be sick. The Slayer was by no means the first naïve human girl he
had seduced, but it had never taken him this long and he had certainly
never seemed so attached. And he was playing the part a little too well in
other ways, too. He wasn’t with the Slayer or her Watcher around the clock,
so why was he lowering himself to drinking animal blood? She had smelled it
on his breath that night in the cemetery, but it wasn’t as if the humans
would be able to tell the difference if he resumed his normal eating
Penn, Dru, and Spike were also
getting on her nerves, as they always did when she spent too much time with
them. Even though they knew about Angelus’s soul now, they were still
following his orders not to attack anyone the Slayer cared about. Idiotic
sheep. Darla wanted Angelus back and she wanted the head of the girl who’d
killed her sire, and she was done waiting. She would give him one chance to
make good on his promises. After that, she would track down that meddlesome
computer teacher and force her to fix her boy before slowly torturing her
to death. Then Angelus could thank her by groveling for a decade or two.
Normally, Buffy was happy to
spend quality time with her mom, who was kept so busy by her work that she
often didn’t have a lot of opportunities for it, but lately she’d been
finding it difficult even to eat dinner at a normal pace, let alone carry
on a conversation between bites. All she wanted to do was get out of the
house and find Angel. She forced herself to clear her plate slowly and give
decent-length answers to all of her mom’s questions about how her day had
been, but then she practically sprinted up to her room to get ready. To her
delighted surprise, she found a red rose and a note in Angel’s handwriting
sitting on her bed when she got there.
She held the beautiful flower
up to her nose and inhaled its lovely scent while she read the note:
Meet me at 7:00 at the apartment we checked out last
night. The one near the Bronze. Je vais t’attendre.
Buffy’s heart fluttered and
she was unable to suppress an enormous grin. Glancing at the clock, she saw
that it was already a quarter to seven, so she dashed around her room,
changing her clothes and fixing her hair and makeup at top speed. Assuming
they would patrol after whatever he had planned at the apartment, she
tucked a couple of stakes into her jacket pockets, checked her appearance in
the mirror one more time, and clambered out of the window.
She didn’t have a watch, but
she knew it had to be after seven already by the time she reached the
basement apartment mentioned in the note. She knocked on the door, but
there was no response. It wasn’t locked, so she pushed it open and stepped
The apartment was completely
dark except for a strip of dim light that followed her in from the hall.
“Angel?” she called uncertainly, taking a few more steps inside.
“Not quite,” said a voice behind
her as the door slammed shut, plunging the room into complete darkness.
“Penn,” said Buffy, her lip
curling. She turned to face him and reached for one of her stakes, even
though she couldn’t see a thing.
“Hello, cutie,” came a second
voice from the opposite direction, causing her to spin back around.
“And Spike,” she said, trying
not to let her worry show at the fact that it was two-to-one and she was,
for all intents and purposes, blind. “Where’s Angel?” she asked through
“He sends his regrets; he
couldn’t make it,” said Penn.
Angel paced restlessly in
front of the entrance to Restfield Cemetery. On the nights when Buffy’s mom
was home, she usually met up with him at the beginning of the designated
patrol route, but tonight she hadn’t showed up. Just when he decided to go
check her house to see if she got held up for some reason, Darla sidled up
next to him.
“What are you doing here?” he
“It’s been a while since you
checked in,” she said. “I wanted to make sure you didn’t get distracted
from your goal. Or by it.”
“You don’t have to worry,
Darla,” said Angel with mocking laughter in his voice. “Everything is going
according to plan.”
Darla smirked. “It was. Now, it’s going according to my plan.”
Angel’s eyes narrowed. “What
do you mean?”
“It’s a surprise,” she said,
slipping an arm through one of his and leaning up against him.
The back of Buffy’s head was
throbbing painfully when she came to, but she quickly realized that this
was the least of her problems. She was inside the mansion on Crawford
Street, and her upper arms were held in the cold, vice-like grips of Spike
and Penn, both of whom were looking expectantly towards the doorway at the
far end of the room. A chill ran up her spine when the sound of humming
reached her ears. Drusilla drifted into view, swaying as she walked, almost
as if she were dancing. She made her way over to Buffy, who remembered
Angel’s warning and avoided looking into her eyes—even when her fingers
suddenly shot out and gripped her chin tightly enough that the crimson
nails dug into her skin.
“Pretty little Slayer,” she
cooed. “Daddy’s head is so full of you. Will you be my new mummy, then?”
Spike snickered. “Darla
wouldn’t be too happy about that, love.”
“Not that it’s ever up to
her,” said Penn dryly.
“Speak of the she-devil…,”
Spike muttered. Drusilla turned around and stepped aside, giving Buffy a
clear view of the doorway, through which Darla had just entered—on Angel’s
arm. For the first time since regaining consciousness, Buffy fought to
break free of Penn’s and Spike’s clutches, but they only laughed and held
on even tighter.
Giles was worried. Buffy
hadn’t checked in. It was something he had only started insisting on after
Kendra’s death, and this was the first time she had failed to call. Angel
hadn’t either, which was also worrying. But perhaps she had decided to go
to the Bronze before patrolling and simply forgot to mention it to him.
With this thought in mind, he picked up the phone and dialed Willow’s
“Yes, hello, Willow,” he said.
“Giles, hi!” said Willow
brightly, but then her tone changed. “What’s wrong? I-is there something
Giles smiled in spite of
himself at her familiar sweetly fumbling manner. “Er, no—at least, not
necessarily. Are you aware of any plans Buffy may have had for tonight,
apart from patrolling?”
“I don’t think so,” said
Willow slowly, and he could hear the frown in her voice. “We were planning
on going to the Bronze tomorrow, but I think she just wanted to spend time
with Angel tonight. But maybe Xander knows?”
“Yes, perhaps. I’ll give him a
ring. Thank you, Willow.”
When Giles phoned Xander, he
had the misfortune of speaking to his father first. After the man made
several grumbling aspersions against Giles’s nationality and the school
district for hiring foreigners, he handed the phone off to his son.
“Sorry about him,” Xander
“That’s quite all right,” said
Giles. “Now then, I’ve just been speaking with Willow. Have you any
knowledge of Buffy’s plans tonight?”
“No,” said Xander. “Why?”
“She hasn’t checked in with
me, I’m afraid.”
“Is she with Angel?”
The sudden sharpness in
Xander’s tone took Giles slightly aback. “Very likely, yes,” he said.
“Then I think she might be in
Buffy’s wide eyes were fixed
on Angel, who appeared to have frozen. For a second, there was something
like abject terror on his face as he stared at her, but then a curtain
seemed to drop, his gaze moved to the vampires around her, and he looked
more like Angelus than Angel.
Fear swirled in the pit of her
stomach. “Angel?” she said in a small voice. She understood what was
happening now. They all expected him to kill her—or, if Drusilla was right,
turn her—and his expression wasn’t doing a lot to reassure her.
“Oh, come on,” he said—she
flinched; that was Angelus’s voice—, “What are you holding her down for?
That’s no fun. She’d come to me on her own, wouldn’t she?” His eyes were
back on hers, and she had to fight down the urge to weep, just like when
he’d taunted her in those last moments before the curse took effect.
He prowled closer. Darla hung
back, watching him, Drusilla giggled, and Penn’s and Spike’s fingers bit
into Buffy’s arms. He halted only when he was right in front of her. “I
told you the demon was stronger than the soul. You should have listened.
But you’re just too trusting, aren’t you? Not the best quality in a
Slayer.” He laughed softly and his face transformed. “Did you think it was
all real? The only thing the curse really did was make the game more
interesting. Now guess what?” His hand shot out and seized her by the back
of the neck, jerking her head upward so he could press a bruising kiss to
her lips. Despite everything, it was hard not to kiss him back. Penn’s and
Spike’s laugher rang in her ears and her lips stung as Angel’s fangs grazed
them. He licked up the droplets of blood and pulled away. “Game’s over,” he
She barely saw his hand move,
but next second, there was a stake protruding from the left side of Penn’s
chest. For the briefest moment, they all stared at the four inches of wood
that were visible, and then Drusilla’s horrified wail of “Big brother!”
mingled with Darla’s scream of fury as Penn disintegrated into dust.
Buffy gaped at Angel,
confusion and the stirrings of relief making coherent thought rather
difficult, but then she came back to her senses and swung the arm Penn had
been holding around to clock Spike squarely in the nose. He let out a howl
of pain and released her other arm, blood already leaking from both
nostrils. At the same time, Drusilla had lunged for Angel. Buffy barely had
time to duck Spike’s retaliatory punch, but he was still too dazed to block
her uppercut to his chin and her sidekick to his chest, which knocked him
to the ground, where the back of his head hit with an audible crack.
Before she could do anything
else about Spike or help Angel with Drusilla, Darla appeared out of nowhere
at her shoulder and yanked her back by a fistful of her hair. “You took my
sire from me,” she snarled in Buffy’s ear. “I won’t let you have Angelus.
Once I kill you, I can see to that filthy soul of his, and then he’ll help
me pick off your friends.”
It was difficult to aim from
this position, but anger at Darla’s words seemed to make up the difference.
Buffy threw back her elbow as hard as she could, and it collided with the
side of Darla’s head. They crashed to the floor together, the impact making
Darla let go of Buffy’s hair.
Buffy just had time to see
that Spike was still down and Angel was still fighting Drusilla before
Darla was on top of her. Angel had done his job well in their sparring
sessions, however; Buffy was ready for Darla’s attacks.
Across the room, Angel wasn’t
faring quite as well against Drusilla. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a match for
her physically, it was that the memories of the innocent young woman she
had been before he entered her life kept interfering, and they were making
it almost unbearable to hurt her now. But it seemed that hurting her was
the only thing he had ever been able to do.
“Daddy, why are you fighting
us?” she cried brokenly, even as she slashed at him with those wicked
talons of hers. “Why did you choose the Slayer?”
Angel didn’t answer. Until
he’d seen Buffy looking at him in fear when he walked into the room with
Darla, even he hadn’t known who he was going to choose. “I’m so sorry for
everything I did to you, Dru,” he said, his voice cracking. “You were so
good and pure.”
“Until you came and made me
like you,” she said, grinning. “Cold and hungry and wonderful, with little
shards that won’t fit back together.” Her laughter turned to sobs. “I know
I wasn’t what you wanted, but you can’t leave me now.”
Her childlike pleas made him
want to fold in on himself, but she was still fighting as viciously as
ever, leaving him with no choice but to attack back.
Buffy succeeded in hurling
Darla off of her once more, but when she leapt up to renew the attack,
Darla seized her around the head. Buffy threw all her weight against her
and the pair of them went smashing through the glass doors that led to the
garden courtyard. Darla kicked Buffy away from her, and she fell hard on
the edge of the stone flowerbed. Pushing past the pain, she jumped back up
and barreled headfirst into Darla’s middle, knocking her back against the
stairs. Darla kicked out again, catching Buffy in the stomach. She fell to
the ground, completely winded. Darla stalked towards her, an evil grin
starting on her face. Buffy’s hand closed around one of the larger shards
of glass from the door. When Darla dove at her, she whipped it out in front
of her in a wide arc. There was a brief spurt of blood, and Darla’s eyes
widened in shock.
Angel ducked and rolled to
avoid another swipe from Dru’s fingernails. He ended up right next to the
ornate coffee table, and he hurriedly broke off one of the legs. Dru was
coming at him again when her fluid movements suddenly faltered. “Grandmum,”
she said, looking over her shoulder towards the courtyard. The second’s
distraction cost her. Before she turned back around, he drove the jagged
end of the table leg into her chest. She looked down at it, then up at him.
He’d never seen her expression so peaceful as in that second before she
crumbled into ashes.
Before it settled, Angel was
nearly deafened by a roar of rage coming from his right. He wheeled around
and saw Spike, who had evidently recovered just in time to see his sire and
lover of a hundred and eighteen years turn to dust.
Buffy got shakily to her feet,
brushing specks of Darla’s remains out of her clothes. She felt as if at
least one of her ribs was broken as a result of getting kicked into the
flowerbed. She had just turned her head to look into the great room to see
how Angel’s fight was going when Spike’s roar filled the air. She saw him
seize the stake lying in Penn’s ashes and leap at Angel. “No!” she cried.
She picked up one of the splintered pieces of wood lying at her feet and
sprinted back into the room.
Spike had dived at Angel,
tackling him to the ground. Angel caught the stake before it reached his
chest, but it was still moving inexorably towards him. Spike was full of a
berserker’s wrath, and Angel’s strength wasn’t enough to stop it. But the
stake had just barely broken the skin over Angel’s chest when Spike
suddenly arched backward, this time letting out a roar of pain. Then he too
had turned to dust, and Angel was left holding the stake and staring up at
Buffy’s panicked face.
Buffy helped Angel back
upright, but then staggered sideways against the end of the couch, needing
a moment to recover. When she looked around again, Angel was standing over
one of the piles of dust with a completely blank expression on his face.
She moved over to him cautiously. “You okay?” she asked.
“They’re gone,” he said,
sounding torn between disbelief and devastation. He seemed to become
intensely interested in the stake in his hand then, and Buffy felt a spasm
of fear. She closed the remaining distance between him in a second and
caught hold of his wrist.
“Please,” she begged him.
“Don’t.” She remembered how she had planned to stake him herself once the
others were dead, but now that the prerequisite had been met, she couldn’t
bear the thought of not having him with her. It was selfish of her, but she
couldn’t help it. “Just let it go, Angel,” she said, her voice cracking.
“Stay with me.”
The stake dropped from Angel’s
limp fingers and rolled a short distance away. He sagged against her, then
fell to his knees. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and neck and
held him to her, feeling his tears soaking through her shirt as his body
shook. She pressed her face into his hair and let her own tears fall.
After about a minute, she
heard a noise that made her look up. Xander and Giles stood framed in the
doorway, both of them holding loaded crossbows. Her body stiffened and her
arms tightened around Angel. Giles was first to lower his crossbow, his
eyes traveling around to the four piles of dust on the floor. Xander took a
while longer. He stared from Buffy to Angel and back again, then finally
let the weapon fall harmlessly to his side.
The end of the school year
arrived without much further incident. In May, some developers on the edge
of town stumbled across an ancient rock tomb containing a demon that had
been turned to stone. Giles made a phone call to the Watcher’s Council, and
within two days, the tomb mysteriously vanished from the Sunnydale Museum
of Natural History.
On Buffy’s last day of school,
Angel could be found nervously pacing his new apartment, which was now
furnished and decorated. The worst of his grief had passed, and with it, a
significant portion of the crushing weight of guilt. Though he missed his
family, it was nevertheless good to know that they could do no more harm.
At the moment, he was waiting
for Buffy to arrive with a mixture of eagerness and dread. He had something
he wanted to give her, but he wasn’t sure how she would react. It was one
of a pair. He’d been wearing the other for a very long time, though it had
never meant anything to him until now. He kept switching it from his right
hand to his left and back as he paced, anxious about coming on either too
strong or too weak. There didn’t seem to be a good medium.
All too soon, he heard the
sound of footsteps on the stairs in the hall outside and the accompanying
heartbeat. He looked down at his hands and saw that the ring was on the
right one. He started to switch it over again, then decided it was probably
best to err on the side of less presumption, and left it where it was.
Buffy had only had the chance to knock one time before he opened the door,
with the result that she grinned awkwardly at him from the other side.
“Been waiting for me to show up?” she asked.
“Maybe,” he said, ducking his
head a little.
She beamed and leaned up to
kiss him. She meant it to be a short hello kiss, but he pulled her closer
and it quickly turned into something much more passionate. When they
parted, she was smiling dreamily and her eyes were unfocused. “Is this your
way of getting me in a good mood so you can tell me bad news and get away
with it?” she said breathlessly. “Because it’s definitely going to work.”
“No,” he said, his nerves
spiking again, “uh, actually I have something for you.”
Her eyes refocused at once and
she perked up. “Ooh, is today some kind of Irish holiday or something?”
“Well, there’s Pentecost and Whit Monday next week, but they aren’t
really holidays for gifts.” He reached into his pockets with fumbling
fingers and drew out the other ring, holding it in his palm so she could
see it clearly.
she said, looking from the ring to his face. “It’s beautiful.”
a Claddagh ring,” he said, seeing the wonder in her expression and feeling
a little less anxious because of it. He haltingly explained the symbolism
behind the ring. “If you wear it with the heart pointing towards you, it
means you belong to somebody,” he said. “Like this.” He lifted his hand to
show her the one he wore.
you, um, have you ever worn it like that before?” she asked hesitantly as
she held out her right hand.
he said. “And you’re the first one to wear this one,” he added with a smile
once he had slipped the ring onto her finger.
couldn’t find the words to express what she felt. She had harbored a
nagging worry ever since the battle at the mansion that one reason why he
had been so distraught was that the woman he loved was a pile of dust.
Something of this worry must have reached him, because he had just said
exactly the right thing to quell it.
words could come later. For now, she thanked him with a kiss.
How the Rose and the Note
Got onto Buffy’s Bed
Why Darla Has Little
Patience for Penn and Spike
said Spike. “Didn’t think of this.”
could just tell Darla we did it and find some other way to capture the
Slayer,” said Penn. The two of them were perched on the roof outside the
Slayer’s open bedroom window, facing the dilemma of planting the rose and
the note Darla had forged on her bed—without having been invited in.
said Spike, “this way is better. Poetic, you know?”
scowled and rolled his eyes. “Then what do you suggest?” They could hear
the sounds of voices and the chink of knives and forks on plates coming
from somewhere inside the house, but the Slayer wouldn’t be eating dinner
forever. They had to think of something fast.
pole?” Spike offered.
that’s great!” said Penn, clapping Spike heartily on the back, making him
stagger where he crouched. “Have fun getting to a sporting goods store,
burglarizing it without anyone noticing, and making it back in the next ten
minutes. I’ll wait here.”
hear your suggestion, then,” said Spike crossly, banging Penn’s head
against the invisible barrier keeping them outside. Penn shoved him in
retaliation, almost causing him to topple off the roof.
them to me, I’ll just toss them in.”
you great sodding prat,” said Spike, holding them out of reach, “what if
you miss the bed? Here, let’s just find a long branch with some twigs at
this solution, the task was accomplished fairly easily, though Penn
accidentally bumped Spike when he was almost done, nearly causing him to
drop the branch inside the Slayer’s room. Spike whacked Penn over the head
with it when it was safely outside again. The two vampires continued
inflicting minor injuries on each other all the way to the apartment where
they were to lie in wait, only ceasing when they heard the Slayer
"Je n'aime pas le français." = "I don't like French."
"Est-ce que je peux aider?" = "Can I help?"
"Peut-être" = "Maybe"
"Alors, je reviendrai, ma mie." = "Then I will return, my
"Je vais t’attendre, mon ange.” = "I will wait for you, my
*"Ma mie" is an old-fashioned term of endearment that comes from
amie" or "my friend", but it was used to mean "my
dear" or "my love".
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