Chapter 29: Angelus
AngelusAN: The next part, still here. Some quotes are here from the “Innocence” Episode that I felt I couldn’t leave out – those belong to Joss Whedon.
Angelus was back.
It all happened very fast. Helen was just coming out of a bathroom, when the lights in the whole school went off. Then as she was walking back towards the library she heard voices.
“I got something to show you,” she recognized Angel saying. There was something odd about his voice, but she couldn’t tell what it was.
“Show us?” Willow asked.
“Yes. Xander, go get the others,” Angel said again and Helen heard a short reply “Ok” and then footsteps and then she almost ran into Xander as she came around the corner.
“And Willow, come here,” Angel spoke, again in this disquieting undertone.
Xander and Helen exchanged puzzled looks.
“What is it, Angel?” Willow asked.
“It’s amazing,” the vampire replied in an excited whisper.
Helen turned around to look at him. Because the lights were off and he was standing at the far end of the hall, it was impossible to see his face and it was unsettling her. Xander stopped now too and frowned.
“Willow-“ He wanted to say something, but didn’t get to anymore. All that followed then happened very fast. Suddenly Angel made a few quick steps towards Willow and grabbed her neck. At first Xander and Helen couldn’t see properly what was going on because of the darkness the whole school was drowned in, but when a frightened yelp escaped Willow, they knew definitely that something was wrong. Xander seemed to have realized it faster.
“Don’t do that!” He shouted at Angel.
“Oh I think I do that,” said a gleeful, entirely alienated voice that was hardly recognizable as Angel’s anymore.
Now Helen could at last see his face, as the moonlight fell from outside upon it. She froze.
“Angel-“ Willow squeaked.
Helen searched her pockets for her wand, then pointed it at Angel with a shivery hand and whispered “Stupefy
”. There was a blue flash, but Angel’s maniac laughter was all it caused. Immediately Helen sensed the surroundings getting blurry and she fell.
“Oh my God,” Xander said as he saw the teeth of the vampire already only inches from the skin on Willow’s throat.
“I have a message for Buffy,” Angel spoke.
“Then why don’t you tell me yourself?” Helen heard Buffy’s voice and then Angel quickly turned around. If at all he was surprised to see her, he managed to hide it very well.
“Well, it’s not really the kind of a message you tell,” he said casually, tightening the grip of Willow’s throat. “It sort of involves finding the bodies of all your friends.”
While Buffy kept talking to him, trying to reason with him, desperate to find at least some trace of the old Angel she had known, Helen regained some of her focus back, though she still felt awfully shaky. “Xander,” she whispered, and when he turned to her, she pointed her wand at his hand, murmuring “Crucem
”. Xander shrugged as a wooden cross materialized out of nothing in his left hand, but he knew immediately what to do with it, he gave Helen a short nod and began slowly sidling up to Angel and Willow.
A few minutes later, after Angel had fled, but not before pressing Buffy one last provocative kiss on her lips, they were all sitting in the library, shaken and speechless from what just happened.
“A-and we are absolutely certain that-that Angel has reverted to his former self?” Giles asked.
They all affirmed it, there were no doubts about it.
“Giles, you wouldn’t have believed him. He came here to kill us,” Willow spoke in a still astonished voice.
Helen was sitting on the chair opposite to her, holding a cold wet towel on the back of her neck to stop her nose bleeding. Giles stood behind her, one hand was resting on her shoulder, the other kept rubbing his forehead in a jittery way.
“If only we knew how it happened,” he said thoughtfully after a while.
“What do you mean?” Buffy asked frowning, Helen sensed how she had got tensed at the question.
“Well, something set it off. Some-uh... some event must have triggered his transformation. If anyone would know, it-it should be you, Buffy,” he said softly.
“I don’t,” she replied defiantly.
“Well, did anything happened last night-“
Buffy winced and her lips began to quiver. “Giles, please, I can’t,” was all she managed to say, before she turned her face away from them and ran out of the library.
“This is great. There’s an unkillable demon in town, Angel’s joined his team, and the Slayer is a basket case... I’d say we’ve hit bottom,” Cordelia summed up their situation in her typical dry and indelicate way.
“I have a plan,” Xander said and they all turned at him in surprise as no one would expect those words coming from his mouth.
Yet when he explained what he was intending to do – to rob the armory of the local army base outside the town, what should be easy enough for him as he still remembered every detail from the time when he had turned into a soldier at Halloween – they were quite impressed and could but nod and assent that he, Cordelia, Willow and Oz pull it through.
“I’m not sure what we should do about Buffy,” Giles said, cleaning his glasses.
“I think we should let her be for now... unless they attack tonight,” Willow replied looking at the swing door where Buffy had disappeared a while ago. She thought she might just know what had caused Angel’s transformation and she shivered at the prospect of what Buffy must have felt when Giles kept asking her and Buffy realized that she herself was probably responsible for what happened.
“Yes, that might be for the best,” Helen agreed.
“Besides, from what she told us the Judge is assembled but he still isn’t at his full power,” Willow pointed out.
“Yes, but that was almost twenty-four hours ago,” Giles countered gloomily. “If only we knew what their plans are...,” he added, sounding desperate.
Suddenly Helen raised her head. Her nose had stopped bleeding. “We could.” She said and everyone looked at her. She turned at Willow. “Do you know where this factory is that Buffy was talking about – where they are staying with the Judge now? Spike and Drusilla and the other vampires?”
Willow nodded, puzzled.
“Good. I could apparate there, use the disillusionment charm upon me and sneak in to see what they’re up to-“
“Absolutely not,” Giles cut her off, sounding almost outraged.
Helen raised her brows and the rest of them gave him a questioning look.
“It’s too dangerous,” he added firmly as if that was the end to it, and began to clean his glasses.
Helen got to her feet. “It’s not. They won’t see me, and with any luck it won’t take longer than a few minutes to find out about their scheme,” she spoke softly, addressing him, while he kept cleaning his glasses frantically, shaking his head in clear refusal.
“No, I won’t let you,” finally he put his glasses back on and raised his eyes to look at her defiantly. She saw fear in them too and determination, and then, to her surprise and what caused a feeling of a pleasant warmth building up inside her – worry, a genuine concern for her were reflected in them as he already began to fear that she would do it anyway.
“I don’t see why not,” Cordelia interrupted in a loud, annoyed voice. “It’s not like we have that many options. Besides, we might as well all be dead soon, so what does it matter if-“
“Shut up, Cordy,” Xander said, pushing her aside and turning to Giles. “I agree with her though. It’s the best shot we have. If there’s any way to know what they’re gonna do, we should take it. Might give us at least a small advantage... or time to arrange our last affairs,” he added cynically.
“That’s it then,” Helen said and turned to the table to retrieve her wand.
Giles pushed himself off the racks he had been leaning onto. “I don’t like this. You’re not yet strong enough... what if-if you get trapped there, what if your-your spells don’t work and you won’t have enough strength to get back?” He asked and the tone of his voice was that of someone who was desperately throwing in his last arguments when at the same time knowing that he won’t win the dispute, with a trace of panic in it.
“I will when I have to,” she said calmly, then asked Willow to describe to her where the said factory stood. When they were done she turned at the others. “Now you go get this... big gun, I go to see how the things are with the Judge, and we’ll meet here afterwards.”
“Right, take care,” Willow said and gave her a weak smile that was probably supposed to be encouraging, but looked more like a painful grimace. It was still Buffy and Angel who were on her mind.
When they left, Helen turned around and almost bumped into Giles, she didn’t noticed when he had come to stand right behind her. He grasped her shoulders staring into her eyes as if he wanted to drown in them.
“I won’t be long,” she said reassuringly, “I’ll apparate back here as soon as I can.” And when he wasn’t replying, but his thumbs were stroking her shoulders, she added: “Don’t worry.”
A short laugh, more like a sigh, escaped his lips after those last words and the look in his eyes now was telling that those same words were fairly absurd. He would always worry.
She smiled, gave him a brisk kiss on his cheek and with a loud pop she was gone, leaving Giles alone in the unwelcome sudden silence of the library.Damn it!
He closed his eyes, angry with himself that he had let her go. He could think of dozens, hundreds of things that could go wrong while she was undertaking that mission. But he forced himself not to, and instead walked into his office determined to keep his mind focused on other things: to once again try to find out more about Angel’s past that would give them any clue about why he had changed back.
An hour later, though it seemed to Giles like it’s been ten, Xander, Willow, Cordelia and Oz returned carrying a large box with a gun they all were hoping would be able to destroy the Judge, making the old unnerving records of “no weapon forged...
” invalid at last.
“How did it go?” Giles asked them, trying to hide his concerns – he had thought that Helen would be back before them.
“Smoothly, no troubles at all,” Xander answered proudly as they placed the box on the other desk in Giles’ office. “Now let us hope it will work too.”
“Isn’t Helen back yet?” Willow asked.
“No-“ Giles replied when they heard some noises coming from the library. They went out to see a chair lying overturned on the floor, but there was no one. And yet they could clearly hear loud and fast-paced breaths and from somewhere – as if out of the sheer air – blood drops were falling on the floor beside the table. Then a familiar voice said a quiet “Finite
” and they all winced a bit when Helen’s body suddenly materialized out of nothing right in front of them. She was supporting herself onto the table with one hand, the other she was holding under her nose. She looked pale, exhausted and breathless, but otherwise unharmed. Giles hurried towards her and pulled a chair closer for her to sit down. He grabbed the towel and went over to the basin to soak it in cold water.
“Did you find out anything useful?” Willow asked her.
She nodded, then took the wet towel from Giles with a grateful look. Here nose was bleeding badly and she had the taste of blood in her mouth too, but she managed to speak: “Yes... Yes, I did. They-ah... they won’t attack before tomorrow, sundown... i-it seems that that thing will then be in full possession of-ah... of its powers.”
“Do we know where?” Xander asked.
Again she nodded, but seemed to have difficulties to continue. “They... were arguin’... someone suggested they should start with the school, but... since they... I mean the vampires... can’t go out before sundown and the school is usually empty by then... they dismissed it... the Bronze is closed tomorrow, so they decided to go to the Mall.”
“The Mall?” Cordelia exclaimed rather scandalized. “Well, that’s just great! That’s not selfish at all! I mean, it’s not like it’s been the best shopping place in the world, but still, it’s the only place in Sunnydale I can some acceptable stockings!”
They all merely glared at her.
“Are you alright?” Giles asked Helen in a considerate tone.
“Mhm... It was close at one point, my disillusionment charm wore off and one of their watchdogs saw me, but... I hit him with a cross and disapparated elsewhere, closer to where Spike, Angel and Drusilla were... I would have stayed longer,” she lowered her voice now so that only Giles would hear, “they were just talking about Buffy, but... my nose... Angel could smell the blood... I had to disappear.”
Giles was looking at her thoughtfully. “Tomorrow then...” He sighed heavily, then raised his head towards the door of his office where the others were assembled to admire their bounty. “They brought the gun, there’s a chance it might work,” he said, not very convincing, he wasn’t quite able to keep the doubts from his voice.
“It might,” she replied, trying to smile. She stood up and wanted to go to him, to touch him, but her knees gave in. Too many apparitions. Damn it! Will it never get better?
She cursed, she hated it, hated getting embarrassed by her own weakness every time she did a few spells. Giles caught her and she turned red.
“Perhaps you best rest for a while... I could drive you home,” he said and when she nodded, he shouted at Willow that he would be back in half an hour, put an arm around Helen and together they left.
During the drive Helen told him about the short conversation that she had overheard between Angel, Drusilla and Spike. Obviously Angel didn’t intend to kill Buffy, he only wished to hurt her. A lot.
“Could you detect, from anything he said, what made him change?”
She shook her head. “No, nothing.”
When they arrived at Giles’ house and he helped her to get out of the car, she stopped for a moment, looking at him anxiously.
“What is it?” He asked.
“Are you sure... I mean doesn’t it bother you – me staying at your place? I could go to my house,” she said in a small voice.
Giles raised his brows and smiled his loveliest smile, the one that was making her already unsteady knees even weaker. “No, it doesn’t bother me,” he replied gently. “In fact I didn’t think for a moment of bringing you elsewhere... which perhaps was a bit-uh... i-indecorous on m-my part on second thoughts-,” he began to stutter.
But she stopped him when she stood on her tiptoes to give him a thankful kiss on his lips, then shook her head slightly and whispered: “Wasn’t at all.”
On the next morning Giles decided that Helen should stay at home. She didn’t look very well, he could see that she wasn’t up to her full strength yet, and she had had some bad dreams at night so that she was hardly rested.
“But Snyder is going to kill me-“ She protested, but Giles didn’t care.
“I’ll talk to him,” he said while he was putting on his jacket, then he suddenly straightened up, something occurred to him. “Perhaps you should call him. I have the feeling he might take it better from you.”
Helen frowned. She remembered the strange call from the principal. She could hardly believe it was only two days ago, with everything else that had happened it seemed like ages.
She picked the phone and sighed, then with a wildly throbbing heart dialed the number of principal’s office. But Snyder wasn’t there yet, it was too early, his secretary answered it and Helen left her the message that she won’t be in today, but will come tomorrow. If there will be a tomorrow,
she thought, then hurried to hang up, fearing that Snyder might just arrive and she be forced to talk to him after all.
When Giles arrived at school, Buffy was already waiting for him in the library, her face was expressionless, cold, hard even, but he was wondering whether that facade wouldn’t crumble away – by a word, an allusion, a recollection. Yet he also knew he had to find out for all their sakes what had caused Angel’s sudden metamorphosis. Only once they’d establish that, they could think ahead, only if they’d understand the curse and its nature could they possibly try to reverse the transformation.
“Buffy-“ he began a tentative approach.
“I slept with him,” she said dryly and stubbornly, looking him in the eyes, but as she saw his eyes widen and his mouth open and close wordlessly in surprise, she couldn’t bare it and dropped her head to stare at the floor.
His lips kept moving, as if he was about to articulate something to say, but couldn’t find the right words, didn’t actually know what to reply. It was the last thing he would have expected, or better – he would never have expected that.
“I think that might have... changed him,” Buffy said in a quiet, slightly ironic voice, still observing the tiles of the library floor.
Giles took off his glasses and began to clean them and Buffy looked at him. Though normally she regarded that habit of his as terribly annoying and ridiculous, strangely enough now she found that gesture oddly endearing and... sedative somehow. She didn’t really know what she had expected him to say, but in almost every scenario she had been through in her head she had seen and heard him yelling at her or at least telling her off in his British manner for how irresponsibly she had acted. That he didn’t do any of it, and that neither did he ask her why she had done it
or how could she
, that was comforting her a little, for how could she explain to him that she loved Angel so badly?
“Buffy?” Apparently he had addressed her couple of times before she woke up from her thoughts.
“Oh, sorry, what did you say?”
“I-uh... I asked you whether you can tell me anything, from what he might have mentioned to you at some time, anything at all about that curse? I want you to think carefully and try to remember,” he asked her, sounding all business and research as ever.
She frowned, her eyes were glassy and she gulped. He came closer and spoke more softly now. “I want you to recall anything that he had told you about his past that might somehow be connected to the curse... we’ll think of something... but we need to know as much as possible.”
She nodded and took a deep breath, then told him what she knew. To Giles’ disappointment it wasn’t much: Around the end of the century Angel was staying in Romania, Buffy didn’t know any places, any names, only that he had fed on a girl who was something like a gypsy-princess, from some local gypsy clan and as punishment the elders of that clan had restored his soul.
“I called Willow this morning, she told me what you found out yesterday night, and also about your plans,” she pointed towards his office where the big gun was. “Do you think we stand a chance?”
“I don’t know,” he answered after a while, “I choose to think we do.”
Later that day as they were just making the last preparations for their counterattack, Helen called to ask whether they needed any help. She wanted to come, but Giles forbade it. To keep her busy and distracted he asked if she could do some research on her own about Angel. He told her what he had learned from Buffy and what he had already known from the Watchers Diaries: “The last entry in the Watchers Diaries from that period mentions him being in a-a small Romanian town, Fora-... no, Fogaraș, yes, that’s it.”
“Făgăraș?“ She asked perplexed. “Are you certain?”
“That’s not far from the place where we grew up... what a coincidence,” she said.
“Yes, it certainly is,” Giles murmured, wondering himself.
“Alright then, I’ll hit the books and the internet,” she said. There was a long pause after that and Giles knew that neither of them wanted to hang up.
He was hoping that they would defeat the Judge, but he couldn’t know. He couldn’t know whether this wasn’t their last talk.
“I’ll see you later,” she finally said, trying to sound lightly as if she was expecting him for dinner again.
“And I you,” he replied smiling into the phone, wishing he could see her face now. She hung up.
Hours later when the surprisingly short fight was over – if one could call it a fight, since all that happened was Buffy aiming a gun at the Judge and firing, causing him to explode into hundreds of pieces – Buffy and Giles were sitting in his car in front of her house.
“You must be so disappointed in me,” Buffy whispered, the huge bump in her throat was making it hard for her to speak.
“No! No, I’m not,” Giles said, shaking his head vehemently.
“But it’s all my fault,” tears were now filling her eyes.
“No. I don’t believe it is,” he spoke gently and she looked at him, there was a mixture in her eyes of disbelief and a desperate desire that he meant what he was saying. “Do you want me to wag my finger at you and tell you acted rashly? You did. A-and I can... But I know that you loved him. And-uh... he... has proved more than once that he loved you. You couldn’t have known what would happen. None of us could. The coming months are-uh... are going be hard... I suspect on all of us. But... if it’s guilt you’re looking for, Buffy, I’m not your man. All you will get from us is my-our support, and our respect.”
She smiled at him through her tears and fought the urge to hug him, then got out and Giles watched her walk to her front door and disappear in the house.
Minutes later he arrived at his apartment. The living room was dark except for one of the small lamps on his desk that was lit. He noticed the cover of an old record – The Ink Spots – that he had bought at an antiques store when he had first come to Sunnydale and then forgot all about it. He grinned for he himself hasn’t even listened to it yet. Helen must have put it on earlier, because now the record was on the player that has obviously stopped playing it a while ago.
“Helen?” He asked quietly. When there was no answer, panic the cause of which he couldn’t explain overcame him for a moment and he hurried upstairs, but stopped upon the last step, relieved. Helen was sleeping on his bed, surrounded by books, some of them lay open and there were notes scribbled on small slips of paper in them, right next to her head was an open laptop, and her left hand was resting on an old volume, still half holding a pencil, ready to write down the next reference. Amused he observed that again she was wearing his shirt, the one he had took off yesterday night and left it on the armchair next to the bed. He watched her for a moment, glad and grateful that he could do just that now, that once again his Slayer and the Scoobies managed to avert the apocalypse. He hesitated whether he should collect the books and take away her computer to make it more comfortable for her, or to tuck her more properly with the sheets, but then from the content look on her face – she almost seemed to be smiling – he gathered that she was fine and also far from having the nightmares that had kept her from sleep the previous night. Therefore he decided he better not disturb her and he just as quietly as possible walked to his bedside table to turn off the lamp.
In the early morning Helen came downstairs just as Giles was waking up.
“I’m so sorry you had to sleep on that sofa again,” she said, “you could have waked me up.” She came to sit next to him.
He only smiled a tired smile for an answer.
“So how did it go? I take it you’re all alright,” she asked and ran a hand tenderly through his dishevelled hair.
“Yes, yes, we are... or more or less,” he said, then he told her about their successful assault.
“How is Buffy?” She asked tentatively.
“She’s-uh... I’m not sure... She is a strong girl, but this is going to be hard on her. And she feels guilty. And that could be both – strengthening and toughening her up... or-uh... paralyzing... And I can’t tell yet how it will bear on her,” he said in an earnest and concerned voice.
“Don’t worry, she’ll be ok,” she tried to ease him, “she’s a trooper.”
He raised his eyes to meet hers and managed a weak smile. “Yes, I suppose she is.” Then his look slid downwards. “I see you like my shirts.”
She blushed. “Y-yes, uh-h, I do... they smell of you,” she said in a hardly audible voice, a little embarrassed.
“Perhaps next time I’ll be getting some from London, I should order you a couple of new ones,” he said amused.
Helen glared at him first, then leant closer and looked him in the eyes flirtingly. It took his breath away again. “That would be rather missing the point,” she said, before kissing him.
As Giles had predicted, the coming weeks were not easy, for all of them, but especially for Buffy. Angel had become the very true version of his former self, falling into same habits as Angelus had, harassing Buffy and her friends. But other things were happening too. Oz had become a werewolf. Snyder had apologized to Helen for being rude to her earlier, which caused her an odd sense of discomfort. Plus she could have sworn that he wanted to invite her for dinner, and only the call from his secretary announcing that Billy Crandal had chained himself to the snack machine again prevented him from doing so in the end. Helen had frowned at it then, and she already was suspecting something, or better someone
being responsible for Snyder’s extraordinary and queer behaviour.
And the red roses were still being delivered daily to her house, with the same card and initials of a mysterious R., when on one afternoon as she walked home a thing occurred to her – what was Snyder’s first name? She paused and found it astonishing how she had never thought about it. Wasn’t it... hang on...
she pictured the name badge in his office, which she had been staring at during their previous surreal conversation... it said Principal R. Snyder
. She turned red as she passed the baskets of roses on her veranda, and anger began to fill her up.
She sped up and hurried to her fireplace that had been repaired at last, when Mr. Cornish from the Ministry’s Floo-Maintenance Office had appeared to take care of it a few days ago. She now threw some powder in it, spoke the address in London, and yelled into the fire angrily: “George? Come here at once!”
She could hear some muffled voices at the other side and she looked at the large clock on the mantelpiece. It was way after midnight over there, but she didn’t care. “George Weasley! Get here! Now!” It happened seldom enough that she would get this furious or lose her control, but if her suspicion was right, then....ohhh, well, then, George, you are in a lot of trouble,
she was foaming.
“What on Earth is going on?” George’s sleepy and tired voice sounded right before his head appeared in the fireplace.
For a moment she was simply looking at him, as if waiting for him to confess, but he was just glaring back at her through narrowed eyes that obviously got open only a minute ago from a deep sleep. “What?”
“Don’t you think I might recognize a love spell when I see one?” She asked, trying to stay calm.
George still didn’t seem to understand, or care.
“The Principal?” She gave him a hint.
Now George furrowed his brows as if catching up some memories. Helen waited, pushing the limits of her patience yet further. Then a wide grin appeared on George’s face.
“Ohh, I remember!” He exclaimed. “That’s what you’re talking about! I’d forgotten all about it!” He was excited and cheerful now. “I thought that would be fun!”
“Fun?!” Helen said in a high-pitched voice. “Fun?! You call that fun?! He’s drowning my house in tons of roses every day! He-he talks like someone else, he’s so... polite, he opened the door for me, God, he even drew out a chair for me today in his office and then he bowed, Merlin, I swear I’ve never experienced anything scarier... how could you?!” She accused him.
“Hey, hang on,” George was now trying to defend himself with just as much vigour. “I was saving you your job, lady!”
“That’s-that’s saving my job?” She was about to laugh out hysterically. “What has a love spell got to do with saving anyone’s job?”
“I confused him a bit,” he answered, there was a trace if guilt in his voice this time, “and imperiused him too, he was playing hard-to-screw-up, so I... had to use all I could.”
“You put a love spell on him,” she repeated poignantly.
“Just a small one,” George replied to appease her.
“If that’s the smallest
you can do, I wonder what else you’re capable of,” she said sarcastically. “Ohh, let’s never find out,” she added, slowly regaining her calm, “and you’ll have to come here to break it off, I don’t dare to do it myself.”
He nodded and murmured “I’m sorry.”
“Good. And I hope you also feel guilty and very, very bad,” she said and something in her voice made him prick up his ears. She didn’t sound mad anymore, rather like she was being up to something. Meanwhile George knew that tone too well. She needed
“I don’t feel that
guilty actually. Why?” He asked askant.
“Because I need a few favours.”AN: From now on the pacing should get a little faster and not again – as the last bits - dealing with one or two evenings spread over five or six chapters, sorry for that. Also I shall continue and develop the other plots, esp. with the Death Eaters and Council connection. Please review, I’d love to read anything, any reactions or critics.