Chapter 3: Reunion Time
In her relatively brief time on this earth, Faith had rarely felt like she belonged. Maybe part of the problem with being the Slayer was that you always felt isolated from the people around you. Or maybe she had never fully felt that she was part of the Sunnydale Gang because they preferred Buffy to her. Even when she had been fighting alongside them she had not always felt like she had been with them.
Which was one of the reasons that she felt the last week had been one of the best that she had ever had in a long time. Granted,her life before Sunnydale had not been a bowl of cherries, and doing time in Folsom is not generally considered conducive to a friendly environment. Nevertheless, over the past week, she had been feeling something that she had almost never felt. Like she was one of the gang.
The amazing thing was they had done almost nothing compared to the intensity and the agony of the fighting that she had been going through for the past couple of months. She had been doing the kind of things that she guessed 'normal' teenagers did. Go shopping for things that didn't generally relate to killing monsters. Going to movies and some of the more interesting night life that existed in small towns. Playing Dungeons and Dragon. (She had only agreed to do this because she wanted to help Andrew but she had a surprising--- or maybe not so surprising--- capability to fighting monsters on pencil and paper.). If you had asked her if she had ever thought that she would be comfortable doing such things even as recently as three months ago, she would have laughed them off as a lunatic. Yet here she was doing all this, and feeling happy and real.
To be honest, she had not expected that Buffy would have allowed her to stay with them now that the crisis had passed. Indeed, the day after she had unburdened part of her soul to Andrew, she had gone to the other members of the Scoobies and told them that she would be willing to do what ever they thought was appropriate. Including going back to Folsom.
AT that Willow had started to blush. "Well, that's all very good, but...um.. technically you're no longer a part of the California penal system." This caused everybody to turn at the young witch.
"Willow, what did you do?"
"Well, when I figured that we would need Faith's help, I thought it might be inconvenient if someone came and took her back to jail. So... I hacked into the computer for the Folsom jail and changed her sentence from ten to twenty five years to three to ten years. So technically, Faith's been paroled."
Faith took this in for a second. "Um, Will.. I broke out of prison. How do you get around that?"
"Actually that was easy. See, with all the chaos that was going on in L.A., your escape was never officially reported to the police. Despite your spectacular exit, with the fire raining from the sky and the sun being blotted out, a lot of things kind of got lost in the shuffle."
Faith had been tremendously moved by what Willow had done for her. It seemed to illustrate that the witch really had forgiven her. Unfortunately she did not get a chance to express it, because everybody else in the room started asking questions about what the hell Willow was talking about. This led to a very delayed story about the horror that had been running through L.A. for the past few months. It also led to the part neither Faith nor Willow had been anxious to relate about how Angel had lost his soul again.
Buffy hit the ceiling. "Angel...voluntarily gave up his soul? What on Earth could have been so horrible that they tried that for? Even if he had been here, I would have known better than that." She went on like that for a good few minutes. But since none of the people who had been responsible for taking his soul were in the room, she was relatively quiet.
Neither Willow nor Faith had decided to break the news that Angel had a son to Buffy. Willow had never seen Connor in all the uproar that had taken place while she was helping restore his soul. Faith had decided that it really wasn't her business to tell Buffy that the love of her life had in the past two years a) had sex which led to b) a child and c) that child was now fully grown. Not only would it disturb Buffy, she would be asking for details that she simply could not provide. Better to have Angel explain the hows and whys.
After Buffy got her head around what she had heard, she had done something that surprised everyone: she had asked Faith to stay around with them until they had sorted out what they were going to do. She didn't need much more then a minute to decide that she was going to stay. Even if Robin hadn't been there,she probably would have reached the same decision. Most of the people who really cared about her were with her now. And they were on their way to meet the other people who did.
Four days ago, Faith had made a tough decision of her own. She decided that she was going to give whatever it was that she had with Robin a chance to work. Therefore she decided to tell him about her past.
Not all of it, but the ugly parts that had helped lead her down the path of the darkness which eventually ended in her going to prison.
"I'm telling you all this because there is a lot of darkness inside of me." she said." I may have been able to work past some of it, but I haven't gotten rid of it. I think its under control, but I can not say for sure. I don't know if we have any real possibility of being able to work something out, but the only way that we do is if we know about what we are. Really are."
Robin took all this and was silent for a couple of minutes--- something which Faith figured was good because he didn't get up and walk away. However, the longer that he stayed quiet, the more concerned the Slayer became. Finally the former principal looked up at her.
"You know how my mother died." It wasn't a question.
"A vampire killed her." Faith had known his mother was a Slayer so it seemed like a pretty safe bet.
"No. Spike killed her." This was a real shock. Faith had noticed some hostility between the blond vampire and Robin but she could not have guessed the real cause.
"When... When did you find out?"
"Six weeks ago. " He gave a painful smile. "That was one of the things that the First told me. All of my life I have been training to fight the forces of darkness, and the ultimate one finally tells me what I've been searching for."
"What did you do when you found out?"
"I convinced Giles that he was a danger to all of us. Which was true, but it wasn't why I thought he should have been stopped. I made him distract Buffy while I took him to my home... To maim, torture and kill him."
"No wonder B was so mad at Giles." Then Faith shook her head.
"Look I think I know what you're trying to say, but it seems that you had every right to want to kill him."
"That's what I told myself too. But.." He shook his head." All my life I have been trying to fight because I was a force of good. But when it came right down to it, I didn't want simple revenge. I wanted to make him suffer like I had suffered. I wanted him to know how truly vile and evil he really was. " He paused. "He said some pretty painful things to me. About what it was to be a slayer. I didn't want to know the truth. I really didn't care about anything else." He took a breath. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is darkness inside all of us, and if we don't face it down eventually it becomes master of us."
Faith took this in. "I get that. It's just that it took me two murders and a coma to really learn that lesson."
That got a smile from Wood. "SO you're what we in the education game call a slow learner. But you have shown that you have a capacity to develop." The smile faded. "Look, I'm not saying that any relationship we may or may not have will be smooth sailing. You've got issues, I've got issues. And I'd be lying if I said I was perfectly all right dating someone who once killed a man. But I think that there is a lot of good in you and I think that there is something worth working towards for both of us. And I'd like to be proven correct."
It hadn't been as terrible as she had thought it would be nor had it turned out as good as she thought that it could have. Still it was something to put her back against. So when two days later, Buffy took Faith and Robin aside along with the rest of the Scoobies and told her about the plan that she had, Faith decided to get on board.
"You're not just doing this because of me, are you?" Robin had asked.
"Well, you certainly think very highly of yourself.' Then before he got offended, she went on. "It's partly about you. But mainly its because I still think that I have a ways to go before I find redemption. This may not off set what I did in the past but it will probably help in the long run." She smiled at that. Robin noticed.
"Care to share?"
"It's just... Never used a phrase like that before. Never given much thought to the long run."
"Well, maybe you're getting more mature."
"It's about time."
Which brought them to where they were now. In L.A. Roughly three miles away from the Hyperion, the hotel that Angel Investigations called home.
"You sure that we are on the right path?" Giles said to Willow.
"Just a couple of more miles and then hang a right." she said. She turned to Faith. "This looking familiar?"
"I guess so. But you have to remember, I came here from the east."
Faith walked back to Robin.
"Just so I'm clear on this. We are going to meet Buffy's first boyfriend." Faith nodded. "Another vampire with a soul."
"Do they all come with souls now, or is this something that's limited strictly to people Buffy dates?"
"As far as I know Angel was the only one to have a soul. Some kind of curse. I don't know how Spike got his."
"Well, if they're just handing them out like Cracker Jack prizes, you got to wonder about the people who are in charge of things like this." Robin said. There was a trace of the old hostility in his voice.
"Look, I know that the whole working with a vampire thing is never going to make you happy. However, there are two things that I think I need to point out. First,that soul really does make a difference. When vampires are soulless monsters they really are brutal killing machines. A soul really does seem to make them better. They can be heroes. I know you didn't like Spike, but believe me when I tell you he died a hero." Faith gave Robin a second to process all this and then went on. "Second of all, Angel is really different from Spike. Maybe cause he spent so much time suffering with his burden. He knows about pain and about redemption. He really is a major force to be reckoned with. If it wasn't for him..." She paused again. "I probably wouldn't be here."
The former principal took this in. "He really saved you." Again, not a question.
"No, I made the decision to save myself. But without his guidance, I would never have known that it could have been made." She sighed. "The truth is, he tried to save me after I...killed the Deputy Mayor. Maybe if he had gotten through to me then, we could have avoided all the horrible stuff that ended up happening."
"Maybe." Robin said. "On the other hand, maybe if you hadn't done what you did, Buffy would have never been able to stop the Mayor. Maybe you wouldn't be here now."
Faith thought this over. "Well, I think if I had a choice I would have avoided nearly dying. Take it from B.; it's not nearly as fun as it sounds."
"Sorry, I wasn't thinking."
"I know. I've been thinking things over ever since I got out of jail. Being bad is a lot easier than doing good. But all it ever did for me was drive me further and further away from people. Even when I thought that I was doing good, I really was more out of step than I thought. This is how I'm going to earn my redemption." She smiled. "What about you?"
"Come on. I've got this whole sacred duty bit down plus this is about all I can do. You have more options."
"Well, I think my promising career in the field of education was cut down when my school fell into the Earth." The smile faded. "Buffy's got a good idea. I'll admit I'm not wild about working with a vampire ,but I'm flexible. I want to do good and this is probably the best way to do it." He sighed. "I just wish that we could have talked to somebody in L.A. before we journeyed all the way out here."
"Me too. I don't think Angel will turn us away at the gate, but it would have been nice to know that nothing had happened to them." Faith thought for a second."Of course there has been a lot going on in L.A. the last couple of month. Maybe the Hellmouth being sealed led to some demons coming up this way."
"You really think that they'd travel this far?"
"From what I know demons migrate to cities where there is a high
concentration of evil. I It's not as bad as being on top of a hellmouth, but
this can be pretty close."
"Well, I think were going to find out how much trouble we're walking into. I think we're here."
Indeed, Giles had just pulled up at the big hotel."All right, how are we going to do this? Just all of us come out and... Ask for a room? Or Buffy, would you like to see..." He left the sentence unfinished but Faith knew what he was thinking.
"I think maybe that those of us from Sunnydale should get out and talk to him. Everyone else can get off; just don't wander too far away."
Buffy and Giles got off first, followed by Willow, Xander and Dawn. Faith stayed with Robin. As the other slayers began getting off the bus, the Sunnydale contingent walked into the lobby of the Hyperion.
"Whoa." said Willow after seeing the lobby.
"Second that' said Xander. Faith wondered what the deal was until she got there.
The lobby looked a lot different than when she had seen scarcely six weeks ago. The weapons chest was still there,so was the front desk. But surrounding it were a bevy of pillows and bed sheets. They were everywhere.
"What, did Angel have a slumber party with all the demons instead of fighting them?" said Xander.
"I'm sure there's a perfectly...logical...No, on second thought there is no good reason for these things to be here." said Giles.
"Logic didn't have much to do with it, honey." Everybody looked up at the landing where the voice had come from.
If the people in the lobby hadn't come from a Hellmouth, they might have been disturbed or at least surprised at the sight of the green-skinned demon with small horns who had just spoken to them. AS it was, all that happened was that Xander muttered: "Wow. A demon with dress sense. Now I have seen everything."
Willow walked forward . "Hey Lorne,where is everybody?"
"Hey Willow. I guess you managed to stop the apocalypse after all."Lorne said. "And these must be the rest of the Sunnydale crew. Congratulations. You must have had a hell of a time."
"Really. What exactly has the news been out of there?" asked Faith.
"You mean the party line? Apparently the town of Sunnydale was at the center of a 8.7 earthquake. And let me tell, when it hit we really did feel the earth move baby. I mean,it was just a small tremor, but the second I felt I figured something really big has happened for the last time."
"Gee, and I thought I was the master of understatement. " said Xander.
"Did you get any other feelings about what had happened?" asked Willow.
"Well, there was some concern that maybe the Hellmouth had swallowed you alive, but we got some intelligence that, with the exception of a few casualties you made it out."
"Intelligence? From whom?" asked Giles.
"Let me guess. You're a Watcher." said Lorne.
"Um..ahh.. Yes. And you would be?"
"But where are my manners. My name is Lorne, I guess you could say I'm the demon contact and entertainer for Angel Investigations."
"Well, I'm Buffy. You know Willow and Faith. This is my sister Dawn.My friend Xander. Giles my Watcher. And Principal Wood." The others said their hellos.
"Well, we've heard a lot of stories about you. Seems every year you're saving the world."
"Well you know after the first five Armageddons, you just stop counting. I mean its not like we get any prizes or special value menus for dealing with these things." said Xander.
"I know the feeling. We've been only dealing with one apocalypse but it just feels... Wait a minute." The Host's eyes darted back to Robin. "You're the principal of Sunnydale High?"
"Well, Principal-evil fighter. I guess you could say I'm a jack of-all trades."
"I've been down that road my friend" He shifted his glance to the outside. "Who's in the bus? One last group of field trip students."
"You could say that. "said Buffy. "So where's Angel? Upstairs?"
"Um. Well. You see. He's at our new center of operations. I've sort of been staying here to direct those who come for help to our new place of business."
"Which is?" Lorne seemed to be stalling.
"Wolmrm and Hmrt." He spoke very quickly.
The Host sighed. "Wolfram and Hart." The silence upon hearing this lasted for three seconds.
"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Angel is working with Wolfram and Hart?" said Faith. "The same law firm that hired me to kill him?"
"The same company that brought Darla and then Drusilla back to screw with his head?" said Giles.
"They've been messing with him for three years and now he's working for them?" said Willow incredulously.
"Did Angel lose his mind when he lost his soul?" said Xander.
"Yes. What exactly is going on here?"
"OK. Funny story. "said the Host. "Actually,not so much a funny story as a bloody gruesome slaughter and apocalypse which led to the complete demise of everyone working there." He paused. "Although killing them didn't mean that they stopped working there..."
"You're telling me that Angel would just walk into the place that he hated with a passion for three years and set up shop over their graves? That's cold even for Deadboy." said Xander.
"They got tired of losing to him so they agreed to give him L.A." Everybody turned towards Buffy.
"How did you...Did Angel tell you?" said Giles.
"Not in so many words, but that is what he implied. "
"Did you know this and not tell us?"
"I didn't know. I sorta figured. Angel knew way too much about the First to have just found it. And Wesley didn't have anywhere near the kind of information to just give it. There was only one place in L.A. that would have supplied him with that level of detail."
"The people at Wolfram and Hart did have a lot of stuff on Sunnydale." admitted Lorne. "It was one of the reasons he took their offer."
"I've heard of making deals with the Devil before; I just never thought that it would be so literal." Giles spoke in a tone that seemed to mix disapproval with resignation.
"Hey,we were all opposed to the idea at first.But they have a lot of things that would be useful in the fight against darkness." The Host paused. "Plus talk about your A-List client base.... Ben Affleck, Keanu Reeves,Celine Dion, there are some real forces."
"Anyway. Did you come here just to say hello, or was there a more pressing matter?"
"I wanted to see Angel to tell him that the second wave was off and to offer him and the rest of the people at Angel Investigations a proposition." Buffy said. She glanced towards the bus. "I also figured that maybe you would be willing to put us up for a little while; at least until we figure this out."
"Well,seeing as we're not expecting any large parties for a while, I guess you could crash here for the time being." Lorne said.
Buffy turned to the others. "Get everybody in here. Tell them that they can each have their own room; that should get them moving." Giles and Willow moved out to the bus.
"I bet it's been a while since you've had this place with this many people." said Dawn.
Lorne began to shift a little uneasily. "Actually, it's been less time than you'd think."
"Is this part of the same story that ends with Wolfram and Hart under new ownership?" asked Xander.
"Pretty much. I'd tell you about it, but I'm pretty sure that you're gonna want to hear it straight from Angel's mouth."
Buffy was looking around uncomfortably. "Do you have Angel's current number? I think he'd probably want to hear from me before I show up on his door."
"I know that I would." Lorne took out a cell phone and handed it to her. "Speed-dial 1."
Buffy flashed him a grin of thanks before walking into another room.
"OK, I know that it's none of my business but does anyone else think that the two of them should be back together?"said Xander.
Dawn turned to him. "Look Xander, I know you've never been the biggest booster of Angel and I do admit that I'm not sure that its OK for them to be working so close together. But its been two years since they've seen each other. I think Angel's moved on; I know Buffy has. I think that what she's planning has a lot of merit. Now can you get past that or do you just want to leave now?"
There was a long pause. "When did you become so insightful?" Xander finally said.
"It happens from time to time. Probably won't happen again for a while." said Dawn.
"Besides, given what happened in Sunnydale, I don't think she'll be that quick to get on this ride again." said Faith.
Buffy reentered the room just as Giles and Willow reentered leading the rest of the Slayers. "Did you..." started Willow.
The blond girl shook her head. "I'm not quite ready to see him, but I should be by 9 tomorrow. "She turned to the Slayers. "OK,as I promised we have reached the last stop. I know that you'll all be glad that you finally will each be able to have your own room." Looking at Kennedy, she said: "With some exceptions." As Willow blushed, she went on: "I want to thank everybody for coming this far on trust. I would have told you what my plan is, but I'm still not entirely sure that it will work out. I can assure you that after tomorrow, I will be asking you to make another decision. It won't be life or death this time, but it will effect what you decide to do with the power that we have given you. I have decided on what happens next for me. What happens next is in your hands. Be ready." As they all stood around her, she said:"Um that's all. We'll see you for breakfast tomorrow"
As the other Slayers walked around the hotel lobby, Faith walked towards Buffy. "I got to tell you really have this leader thing down cold,B. You sure that you're ready to give it up?"
"I haven't been this sure of anything in a while. Whatever happens, I think that I've made the right choice. The rest is up to...the others."
Faith knew who Buffy was referring to but new better then to press. She had a lot of confidence in her fellow Slayer, and she had some for Angel. She hoped that the two things came together for everyone's sake.
Considering the power that she had wielded (and still did, though it was no longer unique to have it) Buffy had rarely been afraid of anything. There had been periods where she had been scared of some of the big monsters that she had had to fight. But most of the time she used her adrenalin to get her past her fear. If she hadn't she would have collapsed into a puddle soon after she had fought the Master, for God's sake.
Now however she was afraid of two separate things. First of all, there was the fear of what she going to do with the rest of her life. This was the kind of thing that every young person was afraid of at one point. Of course, a lot of those people had graduated college and had a career in mind. And none of them--- or very few of them--- had to worry about death by vampire and didn't think that far ahead. So that was part of the worry.
However, the bigger fear was how she was going to react when she saw Angel again. Over the past three years she had thought that she had gotten over her first boyfriend. She had other relationships (granted, neither had ended particularly well) and after three years she had thought that she was over him. Indeed, she had managed to convince the others into coming here on the idea that she was. What she had omitted was the rush of feelings that she had felt upon seeing him for the first time in nearly two years. Indeed,several nights before she had gone to sleep she had replayed that kiss over and over again. She kept wondering: had Angel felt it too? He had seemed jealous when he learned she was with Spike. Was it some residual jealousy from the own relationship? Unhappiness that his grand-sire had a part of Buffy that he never had? Or was it possible that he felt something for her?
This didn't do wonders for her state of mind. It didn't help matters that she was in the lobby of the building that had spent the better part of four years trying to warp Angel over to the Dark Side. Lorne had reassured her that everybody here was working for them, but as far as she knew evil attorneys looked just the same as good attorneys (if such a thing existed).
"Are you sure he knows that we're in the building?" she asked the secretary.
"Mr. Angel knows about your importance. He's just getting the rest of his staff together."
"Staff? Angel has a staff now?" said Xander.
"Well, I guess they're more like the board of directors. Mr. Gunn is our new chief of security, Miss Burkle is in charge of weapons and science, and Mr. Wyndham-Price is in charge of history and prophecies."
"Wyndham---Christ. I thought Wesley was insufferable before." said Xander.
"Xander,stop it. Wesley's.. Changed a lot." said Willow.
"And Lorne is in charge of your entertainment division?" said Faith.
"He's more of an outside contractor then a staffer."
"I guess that makes sense. " said Giles.
"Wait a minute." Buffy had been counting names and one had been conspicuous with it's absence. " What about Cordelia?"
"Umm...I believe Miss Chase is on the fourth floor." The secretary looked a little uncomfortable.
"She must be feeling right at home. Finally she has a lot of people to follow her orders."
"Dawn, quiet." There was something in the secretary's tone. As if she was hiding something.
Just then a door opened. "Ah there they are." Everyone got up. "Mr. Angel, your nine o'clock is here."
For a moment, the two groups of people looked at each other. Buffy, who had spent a lot of her life observing things in a second took it all in.
Five people were standing there--- well four people and Lorne, if you wanted to get specific.
Two of the people Buffy had never seen before. The first was a medium sized bald black man in his twenties.He seemed unassuming enough but Buffy could tell from his eyes that he was obviously a fighter, probably a very good one. Standing somewhat to the left of him was a girl about the same age with brown hair that flowed to her shoulders. She seemed shy (though her face did brighten up when she saw Willow) but there was steel in her eyes as well.
She knew the third man there, but she scarcely recognized Wesley. The tweed and the glasses were gone, and in their place was a lot of stubble and a messy haircut. But his whole expression made him appear to be a harder man. Faith had mentioned the difference but it really was astounding. And he didn't seem as happy as the others to see them.
All of this she took in as background because her eyes had been drawn to the figure at the forefront. She knew that Angel never changed but she had never expected that the sight of his face would bring such comfort to her. She wanted to rush towards him but somehow she controlled herself and walked slowly towards him.
"Angel." she said. Model of composure.
They stood there for a moment. Then at the same time, they moved towards each other and embraced. She knew that all of her friends and probably all the lawyers were looking on, but she didn't give a damn. She had found him again. Very slowly she raised her mouth to his. Like it had in the crypt nine days ago, the touch of his lips on hers sent electricity running through her nerve endings.
"Man, they told me about this but I never thought I'd see it." The tall black man appeared to be somewhat surprised.
"Um, maybe we should stop them before Angel gets, you know, happy?"That startled the two of them into breaking apart though they still remained close to each other.
Xander walked up to him. "Normally, I'd make some smart about getting a room but since we know what comes after that I'll just say this. Angel. I have not missed you one bit."
Willow jabbed Xander in the ribs. "Can't you say one nice thing about him?"
"All right. I'd rather see you kissing Buffy then Spike." That brought the mood down in a hurry.
Angel looked at Buffy. "Does everybody know?"
"Ah,yeah pretty much."
"I didn't. And I'm not sure I want to know anything else about it." said the black man.
"You and me both. By the way, I'm Xander Harris."
"Charles Gunn." The two men shook hands. " I guess you got through the end of the world."
"Well you know, in Sunnydale it's pretty much a weekly thing. BY the third time, it's pretty much 'been there, done that.' I mean you can't even get frequent flyer miles with them, so it's not like it means much"
"Well, I'm still getting used to it. The past three months, I kept thinking that things can't get any worse and then?"
"Like I said, been there, done that."
"What happened to your eye?"
"Oh that's a long story."
"A psycho preacher gouged it out." said Dawn.
"Apparently not that long." The tall girl in the meantime walked over to Willow and Faith.
"Well, it's good to see that both of you managed to survive the end of the world. I mean not the real end of the world, cause it didn't come. I mean not that what happened wasn't serious or anything, it's just well, it's hard to know what an apocalypse is like when you go through it that's not saying you didn't?"
"Fred." Willow said gently.
"You're still seeing someone else, aren't you?" The young witch nodded. "Is she here?"
"Yes. I mean, not here in the sense that she's here with us. I mean there are a lot of people here with us, but they're not all here here with us. Some of us are here and some are at the Hyperion, and that's the here where she is.'
Faith ,who had been watching all this with an expression of amusement, said: "You know in prison this qualifies as foreplay." Both of the other women started blushing.
Buffy looked at Angel." I guess Spike didn't feel like coming to see this." She looked away. She didn't know what his reaction would be to the news that his grandchild was dead.
The dark-haired vampire got the message. "Buffy, I'm sorry."
"It's OK. He died.. Good. A champion."
"Wait,we're supposed to be sad that an evil vampire died." said Gunn.
"I'm not so sure why it works out like that. Apparently having a soul covers a multitude of sins." said Robin.
"That reminds me." Dawn then walked up to Wesley and slapped him.
The ex-watcher winced a little. "What the hell were you people thinking when you took away Angel's soul?"
For a moment a bit of the old Wesley emerged. "You have to understand the situation was very dire. "
"So you thought that bringing Angelus back would help matters?" said Xander. "That ranks right up there with burning the village in order to save it as bad plans."
"The information that we received was faulty. But Angel agreed that it had to be done to help the situation."
"So you thought that someone who attempted to destroy the world would be willing to help save it. "Giles' tone had some of the old Watcher in it. "As someone who knew what Angelus was capable of , you should have known better. And I know that Cordelia would have told you otherwise."
"Speaking of which, where is she?" Willow was frantically trying to guide the conversation back to safer ground. IN this she apparently failed because that question brought a look of discomfort to the face of everyone Buffy could see that Angel seemed in more distress then the others.
Angel finally spoke. "She's in a coma." This brought a certain level of surprise to the rest of the Sunnydale contingent.
"What happened?" There was another long pause. Suddenly Buffy got a sense of something that she had missed. Whatever had been going on in the past few months had been at least as serious as what they had been dealing with.
"Um maybe we should go inside. It's been a long couple of months and you deserve an explanation" said Angel.
"Whoa, and we don't?" said Gunn" The way I heard,Sunnydale is no longer on the map. You didn't come here and bring everybody just to suck face with your old boyfriend. Does this mean that some fresh hell is going to open up on us?"
"Hey buddy, not to knock the sun turning black and the rain of fire, but we've just come from beating back something that make your big ugly look like Kermit the Frog." Xander counted
"Really? Are you telling me that in the past three weeks you didn't turn on your TV once? If you had, you'd know that we were fighting a damn god."
"Uh, so 'been there, done that."
"Guys, put it back in." Both men reluctantly turned to her. "Look,we're all here. We'll tell you about what we had to go through and you can tell us what happened that led you to this swanky address. OK?" Both men nodded.
"Is there a place more private where we can talk?"
"Um. There's a conference room around here somewhere." said Angel.
"Then let's go. We have a lot to talk about." The group of people started walking only to stop when Angel hesitated.
"Buffy. I don't mean to split hairs, but have I met that guy before." He pointed to Robin.
"He was the principal of Sunnydale High. He was a big help in the fight against the First." At this Angel looked very shocked. "You OK?"
"I'm sorry. It's just...I've seen a lot of weird things at Sunnydale, I've seen a lot of strange stuff here. But if you're telling me that someone that young could work his way up that high in the educational system, there is definitely something twisted with the people at Sunnydale High."
Robin turned to Faith. "I think I've been insulted but I'm not sure."
"Angel, you know what happened with the principal before the original Sunnydale High blew up.?" The vampire nodded at Willow. "Well, maybe we should give the school board more credit for making a better choice than when the Mayor was picking and choosing."
Angel thought this over for a minute. "I'm sorry. It's just one last odd thing to deal with. If Buffy says you're OK that's good enough for me.
I just don't want to see anything bad happen to Faith."
The group again began walking to the door. Robin spoke in a stage whisper to Faith: "Does he know that you and I are sleeping together?"
"Well, if he didn't he will now. He's got great hearing."
Robin winced. "This is going to be fun."