Daniel managed to catch up with the limo that had Spike and the two ex-boyfriends in it. He scooted in next to Spike, grabbing for the flask in the vampire’s hands.
“Oi, watch it, mate. That’s some of the finest whiskey you’re jostlin’ about there.”
“Don’t care,” Daniel replied.
He took large gulp, gasping as he handed the flask back to Spike.
“Tried to warn you, didn’ I?” Spike laughed, taking his own sip. “Gents, this is Daniel Jackson. Daniel meet Xander Harris and the Groosalug.”
Daniel nodded to them.
“So you two…dated Cordelia.”
“Yeah,” Xander said. “Cordy was one in a million.”
“Yes, my princess was unique in many ways. I will miss her greatly.”
“Right there with you, buddy.”
Xander took the flask and drank, passing it to Groo. It was passed back to Daniel who drank the last of it before handing it back to Spike.
“S’empty. Got anything else in this thing?”
“Whatever for?” Xander asked.
“I want, no, I need to get drunk.”
“And why would you be doin’ a thing that, Danny boy?”
“Because I think I’m in love with Angel,” he whispered.
Spike stared for a moment before bursting out in laughter. Xander and Groo just looked at each other in curiosity. Spike calmed down, leaning forward to push a button on the door. A panel opened, revealing a small fridge. He took out a bottle and handed it Daniel.
“Here, let’s drink to this glorious day,” Spike cheered.
He smiled mischievously, pressing the button that lowered the window between them and the driver.
“Hey, mate, can you get us to the nearest bar, no, wait, get us to the Peppermint Stick. Then drop the other two off. Me and Danny boy here are going to have a little fun.”
Daniel paled a little at the thought but opened the bottle Spike had handed him and took a long drink. What the hell? It wasn’t everyday that he fell in love with a vampire.
To say that Angel was having a very bad day was an understatement. He’d gone out killing after Cordy’s funeral and come back covered in who knew what and had slept for hours. When he awoke there was a mystery brewing. Fred came to him with a case involving kids, something he could sink his teeth into, metaphorically speaking. He’d gone to the studios of Smile Time and had come back like…this.
He was a fucking puppet!
Felt and stuffing and what was worse the other rules of the physical world still applied to him in this form. The only saving grace in this situation was that Spike was nowhere to be seen. Angel didn’t think he could handle it if his wayward grandchilde saw him like this.
He was brooding in his office, after not so long ago staring in joy and wonder at his television playing Smile Time. It was what he did best, brooding. Everyone in the firm was looking for a solution to the mystery of the kids, as well as one to turn him back. He sat at his desk, playing with the pens and papers there, his small felt hand fumbling.
His thoughts turned to Daniel. Angel was going to need him in the upcoming fight. Which meant getting him to learn some magic. He’d never be as good as Wesley, but anything was better than nothing. Angel would send someone to dig Wesley’s books out from the archive, they’d be of use to Daniel. Daniel’s quick mind would absorb it all, if not understand it.
Angel shook his head and got up from his desk. He stalked over to the window and looked out at the city below him. His city. He had to save it and maybe the world. It should be easy, he’d done it before. But this felt different, like he had more responsibility than ever, more of a burden to shoulder.
He could almost hear Cordelia telling him that sharing made a burden easier to carry. He almost smiled. Behind him he could hear a scuffle going on outside his office doors. He’d told Harmony no visits other than Fred, Gunn or Lorne. In the reflection of the window he saw the doors swing open, Daniel tumbling in, Spike’s voice accompanying him.
It was too late to hide, so Angel braced himself for what he knew was coming.
Spike’s face lit up. “You’re…you’re….”
“Spike,” Angel growled.
Daniel stood up, facing Angel’s desk and held a hand aloft.
“I love you, Angel,” he declared, words slurred together.
Angel gaped, Spike grinned and Daniel collapsed into one of the chairs.
“You got him drunk,” Angel accused.
“Was ‘is idea. ‘Sides he figured out his feelings before he went on the bender. What are you gonna do about it, eh? Wee little puppet vamp.”
“Out! Now,” Angel said. “And get Harmony to send a doctor up here.”
Spike just started laughing, muttering under his breath as he left. Angel went over and checked Daniel’s pulse, still alive if beating a bit erratically. So, Daniel loved him. Angel could deal with that later.
Daniel woke up in his room to a pounding head, a dry mouth and felt eyes staring at him. He blinked several times before closing his eyes on a groan.
“I wasn’t dreaming that part then,” he said. “You really are a puppet.”
Angel nodded. “Yes, I’m a puppet, get over it. I need you awake and somewhat sober, Fred thinks she’s found a spell to help those kids and maybe get me back to normal.”
Daniel attempted to sit up, finally doing so, but with the consequence of harder pounding against his skull.
“I’m correct in assuming you want me to perform the spell?”
“Fred said she’d give it a try, but if the wrong word is said incorrectly we could all end up puppets.”
“We wouldn’t want that now would we?” Daniel snarked. “Did I really tell you….”
“Yes,” Angel said. “Forget it. There are more important things to concentrate on.”
Angel turned to leave. Daniel’s heart sunk. He’d blurted out his feelings in a drunken haze and the object of said feelings was ignoring them. Not for long. Once Angel was back in human, vampire, back to normal, they’d have a long talk whether Angel wanted to or not.
“Hold on,” Daniel said. “Just out of curiosity, can you…you know…go all…vampire, like that?”
Angel stopped. “You know, I don’t know.”
He turned and his fuzzy felt face shifted; eyes turning gold, brow ridged, fangs protruding. The he shifted back
“That was cool,” Angel said, bouncing before getting serious again. “Fred is waiting for you.”
With that he finally left. Daniel sighed and hoped there was aspirin in the bathroom.
It only took three hours, but Daniel finally had the spell down pat, even getting Fred to copy his pronunciation in case something should go wrong. He sincerely hoped nothing would, but this was his first attempt at performing magic. Fred assured him that he’d do fine. Daniel couldn’t help but believe her she was so bubbly and upbeat.
Gunn took him aside and downstairs to a wing of the building Daniel hadn’t known existed.
“If you’re gonna be out with us, you gotta know how to take care of yourself. Angel being out of commission leaves the teaching up to me,” he said.
Daniel looked around and saw a vast array of guns laid out on a table. This was a shooting range. He approached it slowly, getting a small tingle of familiarity. There were also crossbows and swords and stakes, but Daniel felt drawn to the guns.
“We’ll get to those in a second,” Gunn assured. “First the crossbow because most of the baddies you’ll come across are vamps and a gun’s only gonna slow them down.”
He slipped on a pair of earphones and safety goggles that were to one side. Then Daniel picked up a handgun, testing the weight of it. Automatically he slipped the safety off, aimed it at the paper target and pressed the trigger. Gunn hastily grabbed for his own headphones, staring as Daniel lowered the handgun before moving onto an automatic, aiming and shooting. When the clip was empty it too went back on the table.
Daniel slowly removed the earphones, one eye half on Gunn who was wide-eyed. He went to the wall and pulled a small switch. The paper targets swooshed slowly forward. They stopped and Gunn whistled in appreciation. All the shots were
grouped perfectly at the heart or head.
“Seems like I can handle myself,” Daniel said calmly, even though his nerves were jangling. “Do I get one of these before we leave?”
“I’ll…uh, talk to Angel,” Gunn said.
Angel went in search of Daniel when they got back to Wolfram and Hart. He’d handled himself better than Angel had expected. The puppets of Smile Time weren’t going to be doing any more harm to anyone. Angel was still a puppet himself but Fred assured him that it would probably wear off in a day or two.
He found Daniel in the shooting range, picking up guns and turning them over in his hands before putting them back. Gunn had told him of Daniel’s proficiency and Angel just chalked it up to a skill Daniel had had in his former life and forgotten about.
“I killed a puppet today,” Daniel said.
“And saved countless children,” Angel replied. “How’d you know I was here?”
Daniel glanced over his shoulder. “The sound of felt scuffling on concrete.”
“Oh. You did well tonight.”
“I killed a puppet. I thought my life was strange enough and then…,” Daniel started to laugh. “I killed a fucking puppet.”
“This is what you signed on for Daniel,” Angel said. “Get some rest, we’ll talk later.”
“About what I said the other day?”
Angel hesitated. “Maybe.”
The next two days went on as normal. Normal for Wolfram and Hart anyway. Angel found himself spending more time with Daniel, mostly talking about business. Yes, there were ways that he was like Wesley, but he was also uniquely Daniel. Angel found it…interesting.
On the third day he woke up back to his normal flesh and blood self. He celebrated by taking the gang out for drinks. Lorne suggested a local karaoke bar, Angel wanted to protest but was outvoted. Luckily they catered to the undead crowd as well. Everyone sang a song, except Angel of course.
When Daniel sung, Lorne looked a little perplexed and worried, but Angel decided not to ask. If it really was important Lorne would let him know eventually. Tonight was for happiness. Angel smiled to see everyone like he wanted them to be, carefree and enjoying themselves, even Daniel.
Lorne stayed at the bar, making connections with a few Hollywood types. Back at the office, Fred and Gunn slipped off by themselves. Angel wondered if they were rekindling their romance.
“Want a nightcap?” he asked Daniel.
Daniel smiled, his eyes sparkling. “Sure, why not?”
They made their way up to Angel’s office, Daniel taking a seat in front of Angel’s desk. Angel poured some scotch, pondering the last few days. God damn if Cordy wasn’t right. He could curse her, or fate, or something. Angel found himself thinking that maybe he was falling for Daniel Jackson.
He turned to hand the glass to him. He took a sip and wondered how the hell he was going to deal with this.
“Are we finally going to talk about this….thing?” Daniel asked.
Angel hesitated, unsure of what to say. He was saved by a knock on the door. It was probably Fred or Gunn saying goodbye.
The door squeaked open slowly, a lone figure entering. It was an older man, a US Air Force Colonel by the uniform. Angel was immediately on alert.
“Who are you and how’d the hell did you get past security.”
“Colonel Jack O’Neill,” came the reply. “I charmed the gal down there into letting me come on up. Are you Mr. Angel?”
“I am, what can I do for you, Colonel?”
“You were making some inquiries that got the attention of my superiors. You were asking about a dead man.”
Angel cringed. He’d thought he’d left no trail when he was digging into Daniel’s background. Daniel stood from the chair and turned to look. Angel saw the Colonel’s surprised reaction.