Disclaimer: I don’t own the rights to the main characters or the originating story lines and I will not be using them for profit. This story is my own; please request permission before archiving. Heart wrote the song, and I don’t know who wrote Gladiator, but it wasn’t me either.
Summary: Somewhere between Seasons 4 & 5 of Buffy and 1 & 2 of Angel. Some spoilers for the season finales. Angel meets up with Det. Zeke Stone from Brimstone (short-lived show on Fox). Together they go after one of the escaped souls that has targeted Buffy.
Author's Note: This was written quite some time ago as a response to a challenge, so there's going to be a lot of wierd stuff. It's one of my first writing attempts and I guarantee there is some OOCness, but in all I think it's a pretty good story, especially if you're familiar with 'Brimstone'. I hope you enjoy!
Rated PG for some violence and language.BLACK ON BLACKThey say that opposites attract
Like right and wrong.
Black on black.
Like pleasure and a little pain.
The sacred and profane.
Ice and fire counteract
Like black on black.
The oldest story known to man.
The willing sacrificial lamb.
Behind the light a shadow falls.
The code of silence shakes the walls.
A whisper to a silent scream.
The power is so frightening.
They say that opposites attract
Like right and wrong.
Black on black.
-Black on Black II (Heart)“I will have my vengeance. In this life or the next.”
The sun was just crossing the horizon, leaving a trail of blazing oranges and purples. Although painful to his eyes, Angel watched through the window of his office. He missed the sun. Twice he’d been given a brief reprieve from the darkness, though he had voluntarily sacrificed it both times. But that didn’t matter now; he’d learned that his work for the “powers-that-be” might not be in vain. He had a chance for a true transformation to his human self, earned and not to be wasted.
When the sun had completely vanished and darkness once again surrounded the city, Angel turned away from the window. He headed to the outer office and before he reached the door heard the sounds of his two employees deep in argument.
“That was not in the least bit funny Cordelia!” cried Wesley.
“Oh, lighten up! You can tell it’s fake a mile away. It was a harmless joke.”
“I thought you were above pranks like that.”
“It’s just to lighten the mood. With gloomy boy in there, we need to have a little fun around here.”
“What’s going on in here?” Angel asked stepping through the door.
Wesley looked at him and let out an exasperated sigh. “Cordelia put this in the desk drawer,” he said holding up the item in question.
“Is that…?” Angel started to ask his British co-worker.
“It’s a bloody plastic rat!”
Angel had to turn away to hide the smile he just couldn’t suppress. Cordelia didn’t bother with such self-containment, bursting into giggles that quickly turned into full belly laughter. Unable to help himself any longer, Angel joined in chuckling.
“Well it’s not that funny,” Wesley protested, which only caused the other two to laugh even more. Without warning, Cordelia stopped laughing and doubled over with a cry of pain. She clutched her head in her hands and began to shutter as a powerful vision was fed to her from beyond. Angel and Wesley, the rat dropped and forgotten, rushed to her side, awaiting whatever information she would gather from the painful incident.
When Cordelia was able to stand again and her vision cleared she looked at the men. “Wow. I’ll never get used to that!”
“What did you see?” Angel asked.
“A disco ball,” she replied
“A disco ball?” They both cried.
“Yeah, and Spike. It’s a nightclub.”
“Spike? Giles said he couldn’t hurt anyone,” Angel said.
“He wasn’t. There was another dude there, really nasty. He just started biting this woman on the dance floor. For some reason Spike was fighting him. Must be a vamp.”
“Where is this club, is it in Sunnydale?”
“No, it’s here in LA, over on East Plymouth. It’s called ‘The Lazy Eagle’.”
“I’m on it,” Angel said as he started out the door.
“You OK?” Wesley asked after Angel had left.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied.
“Good,” he said and tossed the rat into her lap, causing her to leap up screaming.
“Ooh, I’m gonna get you Wesley!” she yelled at him.
“Lighten up! It was only a joke,” he said sarcastically seconds before a coffee mug flew past his right ear.
Angel walked into the nightclub that was wall-to-wall people. The bouncer had barely glanced his way as he paid his entrance fee. He tried to walk without bumping into the throng of partygoers, but he was unable. The site and smell of so many warm bodies were tantalizing, but he had to disregard those needs he could never satisfy. He found his way to the edge of the dance floor and saw no sign of Spike or any other vampire.
He was beginning to fear he’d come to the wrong place when he heard a blood-curdling scream. Suddenly the wave of human bodies surged against him. He pushed his way to the center of the dance floor to witness a man holding a woman’s body against him. His face was covered in blood. Before Angel could react, Spike, who had apparently been shoved aside, came rushing forward and tackled the man, yelling, “That was my date you bastard!”
Angel saw the man toss the woman aside before backhanding Spike 12 feet into the tables surrounding the dance floor. Without any further thought Angel charged the thing standing under the twinkling lights of the disco ball. Although all the dancers had made a rapid exit, the pounding beat of the music still blared on. The man easily deflected Angel’s punches and grabbed him around the throat using tremendous pressure to force him to his knees. Too late, Angel realized he recognized him.
“Ah, Angelus!” the man exclaimed in a thick Slavic accent, with a certain mad glee in his eyes. “I had only dared to hope you still walked the earth.”
“And I know you shouldn’t be, Krakow,” Angel choked out. He tried in vain to remove the hands from around his neck.
“I know I can’t strangle you to death, Angelus, but believe me it will be quite easy for me to simply separate your evil head from your shoulders!” Angel could feel the power in the man’s grasp; it was inhuman.
“You’re dead Krakow. What are you doing here?”
“Dead? Only because you killed me!”
Angel shrugged and said, “You asked me to.”
“I did not!” Krakow bellowed, shaking Angel with each word for emphasis. “I asked you to make me like you, to give me strength of 10 men and the immortality you flaunt! But you deceived me you evil thing, murdered me and sent me to Hell! Over 100 years in Hell thinking of how to repay you and now, finally, I have my chance to make you suffer, and after you are gone I will destroy that which you love!”
Trying to maintain his composure at Krakow’s revelations Angel said, “You must understand things have changed, I’ve changed. This isn’t necessary.”
Krakow roared with anger and hatred. “No change can take away what you have done. I am vampire now, stronger than even the Scourge of Europe! I will not be denied.”
“Consider yourself denied Krakow,” came a voice from behind. The entire club had emptied out minutes after the altercation had begun and Angel was surprised at the sound.
“Stone! You will not make me go back! I have power now, I will not return to Hell.” Angel had managed to look over his shoulder at the newcomer called Stone. The man was tall and thin and dressed very similar to him - lots of dark clothing and a long coat, very unusual in the warm Californian climate.
“Sorry, but orders are orders,” Stone replied calmly and pulled out a gun, aiming it at Krakow. Angel sagged in discouragement. Obviously a gun would not be able to stop this thing. However Krakow seemed genuinely frightened of the weapon and immediately let go. He turned and fled towards the back of the club, followed by Stone.
Angel stood up and started after them. Spike not wanting to be left out trailed behind. When the two vampires exited the club at the rear entrance they were just in time to see Krakow leap three stories into the air and onto the roof of the adjacent building. Stone just stood staring after his prey. He shook his head in exasperation, returned his weapon to its holster, and started out of the alleyway, when Angel grabbed his arm. “What the hell is going on here?”
Stone looked him up and down and said, “I could ask you the same thing. It looks to me like you and the Romanian were old friends.”
“But you knew him?”
“We were acquainted.”
“Considering he’s been dead for over a century I’d like to know when you knew him.”
Angel looked up at where Krakow had made his leap and replied, “I’m the one who killed him.”
“Just call me Angel.”
“Well, Angel, you look very well preserved for being over a century old.”
“Look maybe we could go somewhere and talk. You’ve got some answers I want too. You’re straight with me, I’ll be straight with you. Deal?”
Stone looked skeptical and he knew he should set out after Krakow before he killed again, but sirens were coming and he didn’t want to get in the middle of an investigation right now. “Fine, your place or mine?”
“Mine,” Angel replied immediately.
Angel, Stone, and Spike walked into Angel Investigations.
“Look Spike,” Angel was saying, “Giles told me all about your chip, therefore you can stay if you promise to be good. If you’re not good, I’ll have one of my human employees stake you where it hurts. Are we clear?”
“Bloody wanker,” Spike replied under his breath.
“What did you say?” Angel asked.
“I said fine.” He immediately threw himself onto the couch normally used by clients.
Stone who was more than confused by the conversation (and the non-stop bickering during the drive over) asked, “Chip?”
Cordelia and Wesley looked at the newcomers then at their boss. “Well, did you save the girl?” Cordelia asked.
“No I was too late for that, but I think I was sent there for something else entirely.” With that he started into his office motioning Stone to follow him. He called over his shoulder, “Hold my calls.”
Cordelia just snorted then looked at Spike.
“What are you looking at duchess?” he snarled at her.
“Not much,” she said.
Angel sat behind his desk and motioned for the other man to sit down. “So who starts?” he asked.
“I think you should,” Stone replied.
Angel just sighed, and then rose from the chair to stare out of the window. “I was born in the middle of the18th century in Ireland. My family was wealthy and I was the bored elder son. One night after considerable drinking, I followed a beautiful woman into an alley. She turned out to be a vampire, and that night I became one too.” Angel ignored the snort of disbelief and continued his story, while watching the night. “In the course of time I adapted rather well to the lifestyle, a little too well. My name, Angelus, was known throughout Europe as one of the most feared of vampires. I killed for sport, and I tortured for pleasure. I was the Scourge of Europe. Then, 100 years ago, by some twist of fate I picked the wrong victim. She was a young girl, from a local gypsy tribe. Very innocent and very naive. Just my type. Once her family found out, they were understandably upset, and her grandmother, a powerful gypsy witch, placed a curse on me that restored my soul that had been lost upon my mortal death. I am still a vampire but the demon is no longer in control.” Angel transformed into his vamp face and turned towards Stone. He noted the man’s shock then transformed back. The shame was apparent on his human face and he returned to his chair. “I met Krakow shortly before the gypsy girl. He figured out what I was and who I was, and said he wanted to become like me. He wanted great power and immortality, but he was terribly insane. I played along with him, but I had no intention of bringing him over. Finally I killed him. End of story.”
After a few moments of bewildered silence Stone finally responded. “How was gaining your soul back a curse?”
Angel just stared at him and finally replied, “A vampire without a soul has no remorse for his actions.”
“So you feel the guilt of what you did?” he asked. Angel nodded. “Do you feel it’s a curse?”
Angel leaned forward on his desk and formulated his reply. “At first I did. I couldn’t stand the pain of all the memories I had. I didn’t think I could manage. Then a miracle happened.”
“No,” Angel replied. “It’s your turn.”
“All right. My name is Detective Ezekial Stone. Fifteen years ago I was a cop in New York City. My life was pretty good, until I came home one day to find my wife huddled in the shower after being raped. I caught the guy who did it and brought him in. He should have been locked up for a long time, but he got out on a technicality. I couldn’t just let him get away with it, so I tracked him down and killed him, making it look like a drug overdose. Shortly thereafter I was gunned down while tracking a suspect. Go directly to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
“A few months ago there was a breakout. 113 of the most evil souls escaped to wreak havoc on the earth, each bringing supernatural powers that have grown during their time in Hell. No human can hurt them and the only way to send them back is by destroying the eyes, the windows to the soul. The devil gave me the option of coming back to return the escapees in exchange for a second chance at life.
“Krakow, who you are familiar with, was apparently more than a little obsessed with vampirism. He killed at least 20 women by ripping their throats out with his teeth before his untimely demise. I guess he wants to continue where he left off.” Stone finished his narrative and simply stared at Angel. Before Angel could reply, the sounds of an argument came from the outer room.
“Spike you creep! Those were my butter rum Life Savers! What the hell is a vampire doing eating candy anyway?” Cordelia yelled.
“Easy pet. Sometimes vamps get a little sweet tooth. Usually I feed off of a girl scout or something, but you know that’s out of the question now. Anyway, aren’t all actresses anorexic or something?”
“Now see here Spike. Don’t you speak to Cordelia like that,” Wesley said heatedly.
“Oh, did you hurt your head on her bony butt?” Spike asked sarcastically.
“Well I never!” shrieked Cordelia.
Angel sighed and said to Stone, “How would you like to go and have a drink in a nice quiet bar so we can finish our conversation? I’m assuming of course you can drink,” he added.
“Sounds good to me. What about you? I thought vampires only drank, you know, blood?”
“I can fake it,” Angel replied with a grin. Stone returned the smile and the two men left the inner office.
“The detective and I will be out for a while. Try to hold down the fort while I’m gone. And Spike, I suggest you be a little nicer to them before one puts something pointy in your chest.”
“Bite me, Soul Boy,” Spike replied.
“Angel don’t you leave him here with us!” Cordelia shouted as he and Stone disappeared onto the street. “Damn!”
In a bar two blocks down from Angel’s office, Angel and Stone ordered drinks and sat at a booth in the back corner hoping for a little privacy. Stone took a sip of his beer and asked, “So what’s the deal with Spike?”
“Spike and I go way back. I brought him over about 150 years ago. Things were never that great between us and after the curse we became immortal enemies.”
“What about the chip?”
“There’s this military group called the Initiative. They capture and study vampires and other demons, which they call hostiles. One of their big accomplishments is a microchip implanted in the brain that prevents the hostile from harming humans by causing tremendous pain at the mere thought. Spike was the lucky recipient of one. He just loves it,” Angel added with a sardonic grin. “So how many have you sent back?”
“About a dozen. You really can’t be out in sunlight?”
“Nope. I’d be burnt to a crisp. What was Hell like for you?”
“Honestly? I had to relive the day I found my wife after her rape over and over again.”
“Sounds awful. I was in Hell once, or at least I thought it was. I heard the tortured screams of my victims for a hundred years. That’s enough to drive you insane.”
Stone was about to respond when a voice from the next booth over said, “So Ezekial, I see you’ve found the infamous vampire with a soul.” The man got up and faced their table, grinning at Angel. He was thin with long straight hair and wore a tuxedo. “Angelus, I presume.”
“The name’s Angel.”
The devil motioned for Stone to move over, sitting down next to him, and said, “You’re no angel from what I’ve heard.”
“Well, from what I’ve read, neither are you,” Angel replied.
“Oh contraire, mon ami!” the devil exclaimed. “I am, was, and will always be an angel, part of the natural order of things. Part of His order,” he said pointing towards the ceiling. “But do you know what you are?” he asked leaning over the table and grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat.
Angel sat back in the booth and crossed his arms over his chest. “Why don’t you enlighten me.”
“You are a conundrum. Simply stated no one knows what you are. The bible certainly doesn’t say ‘Let there be blood sucking fiends.’ Perhaps in His infinite wisdom He knows something, but He’s not sharing. Yet everyone assumes it is I who am responsible for all the evil in the world. Well, I have news for you. I am only a zookeeper. Man himself causes 90% of the evil on earth, and the other 10% is caused by that unknown factor from which you were born.
“I’ll tell you something else too,” he went on. “You sit around brooding with all that guilt that you carry around for atrocities you know good and well you’d never have committed had your human soul been intact. Yet you continue to hold yourself accountable. But there is something else inside you that you dare not face and that is your anger. Anger at me, anger at Him. You need to put a name and a face to your plight. Angel, you think the heavens owe you something. Well, we all pay our debts. Don’t we Ezekial?” he asked turning towards Stone with a smile. Angel was stunned for a moment contemplating what he’d just been told. Did this have something to do with the prophecy, of the chance he could regain his humanity? He barely heard the remainder of the conversation between Stone and the devil until he heard him say, “Time is short Ezekial. Krakow is already moving towards his next victim, someone very close to our friend here.”
With a start Angel said, “Buffy? How does he even know about her?”
“Krakow has his source. Zeke will tell you about her sometime. Now I know I intended this to be a solo mission for you, Ezekial, but under these extreme circumstances, I believe it will be most beneficial to ally yourself with Angel.” The devil got up from the table. “I trust you understand this will be for this one time only.” He smiled at the two men. “And Angel, I do look forward to seeing you again.” Their attention was drawn briefly to the sound of glass shattering behind the bar. When they looked back the devil was nowhere to be seen.
Angel looked perplexed and Stone assured him, “It happens all the time.”
“So you talk to him a lot?”
“Mostly he talks and I ignore him.”
“Lucky you.” The men shared a laugh. At the same moment each man had the brief thought that under different circumstances they would be close friends.
Angel sobered and looked at his watch. “He’s right though, time’s short. There’s about 5 hours till sunrise. That should give us enough time to get there.”
“What’s in Sunnydale?”
“How do you know?”
“Because he said he would destroy that which I love.”
“She’s the Slayer. And I’ve got to get to her before she faces Krakow. She won’t have any idea what she’s up against until it’s too late.”
“What are you talking about? What the hell is a slayer?”
“In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer,” Angel quoted from memory that which he’d heard Giles remonstrate Buffy with over and over again.
“The Chosen One?”
“That’s right and she has the strength, agility, and speed to defeat just about anything the Hellmouth throws at her; she’s even kicked my butt a time or two. But I need to warn her that Krakow is no ordinary demon. We’ve got to get moving now!”
“What’s a Hellmouth?”
Angel sighed and grabbed his new friend by the arm, propelling him outside. “It’s a long story. I’ll tell it to you on the way there.”
“So Giles said this was really important right? Because I’ve got to study for my finals,” Willow said as she and Buffy walked down the street towards the former librarian’s house.
*Like I don’t have finals,* Buffy thought to herself, but said out loud, “He was very insistent, Will. Said to get over here as soon as class let out, and not to walk alone. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. He was way cryptic on the phone, too.”
“Then I’m sure it’s save-the-world-again important. Giles doesn’t just call us all over for tea and crumpets you know.”
Buffy grinned at her redheaded friend. “Yeah Will, I know. Listen, we haven’t had a chance to talk much. How are you and Tara doing?” Buffy asked tentatively. The new relationship her friend was in was still strange territory.
“Just great. I know we haven’t seen much of each other lately, but I want you to know that just because Tara’s, well, a girl and all, doesn’t mean you’re not still my best girl friend, even though she’s my girl-friend, you know?” They’d stopped walking and Willow tilted her head in that way she does when she tries to make a point without using real sentences.
“I know Will, and don’t worry. I’m not jealous in the least. Well, maybe a little, but not anymore than if she was a he. Whatever. Let’s get moving before Giles goes on an uncontrollable rampage.” They both laughed at the mere thought of Rupert Giles being uncontrolled at all and moved on.
Buffy burst threw the door of Giles’ apartment. “So what’s the doom-and-gloom news today, Giles?” she said sweeping in. She nodded to Xander and Anya sitting on the couch then noticed Spike lounging off in the corner, barely throwing him a contemptuous look. “I thought you were off to places better suited to a vamp of your stature,” she sneered at him, turning her back on any response he’d have to Giles who was in the kitchen leaning over the counter that separated it from the living space.
“Buffy, Willow,” he acknowledged the girls’ entrance. “We need to have a serious talk, Buffy, and I need for you to be calm and rational about this. It’s very important. Please have a seat.”
“I don’t need to sit down, Giles, I need you to tell me what’s up. So stop being Mysterious Smurf and out with it.” Just then she perceived a movement behind her and whirled around to see Angel and a stranger coming down the stairs. She heard Giles sigh and mumble, “I told them to wait.”
“Well isn’t this a pleasant surprise,” she remarked acerbically.
“Buffy, please wait a minute and listen to what I’ve got to say. You’re in great danger…”
“Danger! Angel I thought we agreed no more running to each other’s rescue anymore, or do you think just because you’re a guy you’re allowed to play all knight in shining armor?”
“Buffy…” Angel started but the man standing next to him interrupted.
“This spoiled brat is your Chosen One?” he said quietly to Angel.
“Excuse me!” she bellowed. “I heard that.”
“Well it’s not like she isn’t spoiled,” Anya said matter-of-factly to Xander, not particularly caring if anyone else in the room heard.
“Got that right,” intoned Spike.
“Angel, we don’t have time for these kids. I’ve got a job to do. Are you with me or not?”
“Listen mister, I don’t know who you are, but you are about to get your ass severely kicked,” Buffy announced as she strode purposefully towards the newcomer.
All at once Willow, Xander, and Giles said, “Buffy don’t!” as Angel intercepted her before she reached the man and grabbed her to stop. He whispered into her ear, “Don’t do this. I just need for you to listen for one minute. It’s important.” It sent shivers down her spine to feel him so close to her after so long. She took a step backward and took a calming breath.
With a glance to the other man she said, “Fine, but if he starts shooting his mouth of again…”
With that the man just laughed and said, “You’ll do what, little girl?” As one, everyone in the room groaned.
“What did you call me?” Buffy asked through gritted teeth. She barely heard Angel say, “Don’t do this, Stone.”
Ignoring Angel the man simply said, “I called you a little girl because that’s how you’ve been acting. Perhaps if you’d like to join the rest of the grown-ups you’ll start acting like one.”
“That does it.” Buffy launched herself into the air and landed a perfect kick to the man’s sternum. As she landed on her feet she noticed that the man was unfazed. Never one to give up she went after him with fists flying. Several fast jabs followed up with a severe roundhouse. She stopped, crouched in fighting posture, and noted that the man just stood there, arms crossed. She straightened, bewildered, and was about to ask something, when he stepped forward and hit her with an overwhelming uppercut. She went flying and landed against the wall on the other side of the room with an audible thud.
Stone immediately regretted his grandstanding, but frankly she had it coming. She sat there dazed for a few moments. The redhead and the British man he’d met earlier this morning rushed to either side of her to offer assistance. Angel had said the man, Giles, was a member of a group in Europe known as the Watcher’s Council. They took it upon themselves to watch, train, and record the experiences of generations of Slayers. Giles had been called as the Watcher for the current Slayer, Buffy. Stone thought perhaps babysitter was a better description.
Buffy stood up, shaking off the help of her companions, and Stone noticed the cracked plaster of the wall where she’d landed. He felt slightly ashamed since he’d never struck a woman before, not counting the souls he’d sent back to Hell. He was also very impressed. Any normal woman would have been broken like a China doll from that blow. This young girl looked ready to take on the world. Chosen One indeed. He took a moment and looked at her objectively; she was very pretty, in a Valley Girl sort of way, but he couldn’t see what his new vampire friend saw in her. Whatever it was, it was very powerful.
She took a deep breath and said, “What kind of demon are you?” She was so matter-of-fact about it, Stone realized that the world they inhabited was far different than his. At least before he died.
Before he could reply Angel said, “He’s not a demon, Buffy, and if you’d give me half a chance to explain things you might not have wound up on your ass.” Stone could only smirk at the comment, which inflamed the girl further, but she kept her mouth shut this time and crossed her arms across her chest in an impatient gesture. “He’s human, at least he was before he died.” Angel looked to Stone to finish his own story.
“Yeah, I was just your average joe. I was a cop in New York City until I was killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately, a few choices I’d made in life damned me to Hell. I’m now invulnerable to any mortal attack.”
“So you’re just an escaped con. What’s that got to do with me?”
“I’m not the only one that’s out. 113 souls escaped Hell, and compared to them I was a saint. They’re out to take up where they left off. I’ve been contracted, so to speak, to return them to where they belong.”
“Whoa,” the young man named Xander said. “You mean there’s more out there like you? How are we supposed to stop them? I don’t suppose a stake through the heart would work?”
“You’re not going to stop them. That’s my job. The only possible way to defeat one of them is to destroy the eyes, then the corporeal body will cease to exist and the soul will return. The only reason we’re here is to warn you,” he looked pointedly at Buffy. “Stay out of it.”
“Man, I don’t think you got the gist of what I do. I am the Slayer. Fighting things that escape from Hell is in my job description.”
“Not this time.”
Practically pouting, she turned to Angel, “What the hell is this all about Angel?”
He could sense the vampire tense up. “It has to do with me. One of the souls he’s after is someone from my past.” He paused for a second. “One of my victims.”
“Oh great, one of your meals-on-wheels is back for revenge. Why lead them here?” Xander asked harshly.
“I didn’t lead him here, he’s coming on his own. For Buffy.”
“What about me?” she asked.
“He’s angry with me because I killed him instead of turning him into a vampire. When he was alive that’s what he wanted. He killed many women pretending to be one before he found me. Now he’s back and he says that he’s going to destroy that which I love, before finally destroying me.”
Quietly she replied, “That which you love meaning…?”
“How could he possible know about Buffy?” the redhead, Willow, asked.
Stone said, “He’s got a contact, the very powerful soul of an ancient Pagan priestess. She was the ringleader of the escape. I’m sure she’s helping him in return for his loyalty and cooperation. She’d be able to find out the information for him.”
“So what am I supposed to do? Just wait around for this guy to come for me?”
Angel and Stone just looked at each other, then Angel said, “First thing we have to do is make sure everyone’s safe. Nobody goes around alone, pair up with someone.” Immediately Anya and Xander clasped hands.
Willow said, “I’ll go and stay with Tara. Maybe we can find a spell or something.”
“Good,” Angel said. He turned to the other vampire. “Spike, you stay here with Giles.”
“Oh, bloody hell!” he exclaimed.
On the other side of the room Giles said, “Well spoken.”
“You know what Krakow looks like, we need you here.”
“Oh sod off!” Spike replied, but made no move to leave, even though the sun had started to set.
“And me?” Buffy asked.
“You’re not leaving my side,” Angel said intensely. Then he looked around as though he’d forgotten someone. “Where’s Riley?”
“In Washington DC, being debriefed.”
“Good. Now we’ll walk everyone home then start patrolling. He’s bound to show up soon.”
After making several rounds of Sunnydale’s evil hotspots, staking a few vamps on the way, the trio headed towards the cemetery. Buffy, seeing the arched iron gates, said in a cheerful voice, “Well, if it isn’t the International House of Vamps! I think I’ll order mine with the blueberry syrup, how ‘bout you guys?”
“It’s good to know you take your job seriously,” Stone said irritably.
She whirled on him and said, “Listen to me Casper, this isn’t my job, it’s my life. I didn’t choose to spend my quality time hanging out with dead people. It was some cosmic lotto and my numbers came up. Woo hoo for me! You know what? I’m only 19 years old and I’ve been doing this since I was 15, so if I want to have a little fun I don’t think it’s any of YOUR business. I don’t get any second chances at life, when I die it’s for good.” She glanced up at Angel and muttered, “Usually.” With that she stalked off towards the entrance of the cemetery.
“I guess I stuck my foot in my mouth,” Stone said.
Angel put his hand on the man’s shoulder and replied, “Yep.” He followed Buffy through the gates, leaving a chagrined Stone to ponder modern teenagers. “Hey, Buffy,” he had started to call out when he heard a strangled cry. “Buffy!” he cried as he started towards the sound of the cry. Behind the crypt he found Buffy, with Krakow’s arm around her throat. “Let her go!”
The man threw his head back and laughed. “Angelus, I am glad you are here to witness the death of your true love.”
Angel crossed his arms and smiled. “True love? I think we’re over-exaggerating a little, don’t you?”
“What?! This girl is not your love?”
“Krakow, please. When have you ever known me to love anyone or anything? The Scourge of Europe?” Angel chuckled. “I think your sources are a little misinformed. This girl is my plaything. I’m stringing her along until I get bored and kill her. Sorry Babe,” he said to Buffy with a smile and a shrug.
Buffy felt goosebumps all over her body, and not because of the massive man now holding her hostage. She had seen this before and it wasn’t good. She had to shake herself. It’s not real, she said to herself, he’s just acting. She hoped. The man had snuck up behind her and grabbed her around the throat. Her reflexes immediately went into overdrive and she had tried to throw him over her shoulder, but he hadn’t budged. Then she had stupidly tried to hit him in the face with the back of her head causing her to see stars, and did nothing to help her position.
“But Angel,” she whined, hoping to play along with him. “I thought I meant something to you.”
Angel had started to casually move towards them and replied to her with his hands raised, “What can I say? You were a sucker.” Then he laughed.
“This is all wrong!” Krakow screamed. “I will have my revenge on you.”
Buffy noticed that Angel had positioned himself on Krakow’s right side, acting like he wasn’t even interested in the goings-on. She also noticed that in his confusion and anger, Krakow had loosened his hold on her. She knew it was time to take action. “Well it won’t be me,” she said as she cat-quick dropped down under his grasp and rolled to her left.
Angel, taking his cue, threw himself at Krakow knocking him to the ground. Buffy joined in momentarily before being tossed like a rag doll. Krakow was roaring in rage at Angel. He grabbed a headstone and pulled it out of the ground preparing to smash Angel’s head to a bloody pulp. With his arms posed for the lethal blow, a shot suddenly rang out.
Buffy looked up to see Stone standing at the side of the crypt with his gun raised. The first shot took out Krakow’s left eye. He cried out in pain and dropped the headstone behind him, trying to run for cover. “No you don’t,” she said, pulling a stake from her jacket. She vaulted over a pot of flowers, somersaulted in midair, and landed on the ground in front of him. He was holding his hand over his left eye, but she could see light streaming from between his fingers. He howled inhumanly and tried to push past her. She let her inner Slayer take control, using a sweeping kick to take him off his feet. He fell to his knees and she took her one chance, plunging the stake into his right eye before he rolled to the ground. The force of power streaming from Krakow’s eyes threw her back. His screams died out as he was engulfed in the light until there was nothing left, not even dust.
Back at Giles’ kitchen, the former librarian was attempting to explain what the Hellmouth was to Stone. “Mystical convergence?” the detective asked for the tenth time. Giles just shook his head and began again.
In the meantime Buffy and Angel sat talking quietly on the couch. “You had me going there for a minute,” she said.
“C’mon, you can’t seriously think I meant those things?”
“I guess it’s getting easier and easier to believe it as time goes by.”
“You’ve got Riley now, so I guess it doesn’t even matter at this point.”
“It’ll always matter Angel. We’re talking about true love.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“There will never be anyone else for me but you, and there can never be anyone period. But you can go on, and in fact have. How am I supposed to feel we shared anything special?”
“That’s not fair. You left because you wanted me to have a normal life. Now you make it sound like I’m betraying you.”
“I know and you’re right, it’s just that…”
“What? Tell me what’s bothering you.”
“Buffy, what if, hypothetically, I were to become mortal again. Just an average human man. Would there still be a place in your heart for me?”
“Angel, you’ll never be just average.” She smiled than it occurred to her what he had just said. “What do you mean ‘hypothetically’?”
He took a deep breath and said, “I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, especially mine, but there’s this prophecy…” She groaned under her breath. He smiled and continued, “Relax. It prophesized the ‘Shanshu’, that the vampire with a soul will eventually become human again. It just doesn’t say when. It could be a year, a decade, or a century. I can’t ask you to wait.”
She threw her arms around his neck and whispered, “I’ll wait an eternity for you.” They drew apart and looked at each other for a moment, then their lips found each other. The kiss was sweet and sad at the same time. He ran his fingers through her hair, and she mover her hand along his muscular back. They withdrew from each other and simply stared. Buffy started straightening her hair and said, “Now how am I going to let Riley down easy?”
Angel just smiled and stood. “Let’s go Stone, I’ve got to get back to LA before sunrise.”
Giles accompanied Stone out of the kitchen and to the door, saying, “If you want to know anymore, don’t hesitate to call me. I’d be happy to explain some of the highlights of demonology.”
“Ah, thanks Mr. Giles, but I think I’ve got enough to deal with right now,” Stone replied. Buffy walked over to say goodbye. “It was a pleasure to meet you young lady,” he said with a grin.
“Don’t start,” she growled.
“Just kidding. You were fantastic out there, by the way, and I owe you an apology. When all is said and done I’d have you on my side in a heartbeat.”
“Thanks. You too. I hope we meet again, under different circumstances.”
“Same here. Thanks for everything Mr. Giles. The tea was, ah, interesting.”
“Yes, well goodnight to you both. Buffy, lock up when you leave.” He nodded to them all, then headed up to his bedroom loft. Stone went outside to wait for Angel.
They stared into each other’s eyes silently. Then they drew together for a lingering goodbye kiss. “I’ll call you,” Angel whispered to her.
“I’ll be around.” She stood at the door and watched him walk to his car. He lifted his hand in a wave before getting in and driving off. Buffy took a deep breath and headed out into the night, locking Giles’ door behind her. She walked slowly back to the dorm as if in a dream.