Connor's head cocked to the side, trying to pick up noises from the basement. He overheard Angelus and Buffy yell, argue, whisper, and even love each other for the past few hours. Now, there was nothing but absolute silence.
Looking over at the AI team spread around the Hyperion's lobby, he quietly slipped out the side door. He knew they had left, probably through the tunnels. The team, especially Cordy, were just sitting around arguing over what was or wasn’t going on downstairs. This constant talking things to death made no sense to him, and he knew he needed some action to keep from telling them just that.
He decided to follow Angelus and Buffy, telling himself that it was to protect Buffy. Connor couldn’t even think it without knowing it was a lie. He wanted to see the small blonde in action. Connor admitted he also wanted to see if he could see any real difference between Angelus and Angel. Everyone said they weren’t the same, but Connor needed proof.
He quietly trailed them and wondered what it was he found so fascinating about Buffy. There was something about her that drew him. She was beautiful, which was simply a fact, but it wasn’t sexual. The mere thought made him rather nauseous. It was more something more. When she was arguing with Cordelia, he hadn't known whose side to take. Cordelia confused and excited him. Buffy strangely felt familiar, like someone he should recognize.
"Is he still back there?”
Buffy already knew the answer, but simply wanted confirmation. She could feel him in exactly the same way she felt Angel or Angelus, and it caused a strange niggling in the back of her head.
"Yeah, sneaky little brat. He gets that from me," a note of pride slipped into the vampire's voice.
She put her head down to conceal her grin.
"Where do you think Lava Man is hiding?”
Angelus grinned at her new nickname for their current problem. He pointed at a large warehouse straight ahead.
"What is the deal with the bad guys and warehouses, or caves? It's the 21st century; can't they like hang out in a club, a house, or even a trailer," Buffy rambled to herself.
"Here's your chance, Buff, ask him all those burning question," Angelus snarked, as they entered the Beast's lair. This statement earned him an evil glare accompanied by a resounding raspberry. "My, you have matured over the years haven't you?"
"Quit being such a berk, Angelus."
"A berk? What the hell is a berk?"
She danced away from him and shimmed up the rafters like a monkey.
"Berk, I'm a berk. I'll show her who's a berk," he growled softly under his breath.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Large cloven hooves echoed as they struck the ground. A large figure filled the open space, shaking the ground as it moved across the warehouse floor.
"Angelus, you have decided to join me."
"Calling me a berk. I'm the Scourge of Europe, not a berk. That isn't even a real word."
"Angelus," the Beast bellowed in the empty warehouse.
"Can't you see I'm busy here? People these days, no manners.”
He shook his head subsequent to turning his back on the large red demon.
"Where was I? No respect, that's what it is. I'm gone for a few hundred years, if you count Hell, and you have to count Hell, I mean come on, it's Hell, and people forget. I bet if I would have pulled off Acathala, they'd still be talking about me.”
His dark eyes scanned the room, while he kept up his commentary. He saw Connor slip in; at the same time, he overheard Buffy move into position.
"Angelus, why do you worry over these trivial matters? We can rule this world together, if you join me.”
Suddenly, the Beast's head flew to the side. It slowly turned back, looking at the master vampire in question.
"Thought you knew me," another hard punch, which knocked the monster back, "if you did," a precise and powerful kick smashed into its rocky knee.
"You'd have known I don't," smack, "play well" punch, "with," kick, slash, "others."
Angelus' body flew through the air and crashed into a far wall. He slowly got up and cracked his neck, ready to continue the fight. His tongue appeared to lick away the blood from a busted lip. He walked back over to the Beast, ready for a good brawl. Unfortunately, his 'son' decided to join in the family fun.
Connor jumped in front of the Beast; compared to his opponent he looked like a twig. He delivered a hard body shot to the stomach, causing the horned demon to double over in surprise.
The dark haired vampire smirked like a Cheshire cat when he saw Buffy drop down behind the Beast. His smirk slipped away at the thought of her getting hurt. Trying to decide how to end this quickly, he looked around and spotted the Beast's knife at the same time Buffy did.
They exchanged challenging stares before taking off in a hard run, each determined to get to the weapon before the other. They reached it at the same time, two pairs of hands wrapped around the hilt, with neither owner intending to let go. Connor's yelp of pain concluded the standoff.
"Okay, on three, we let go, and whoever catches it gets to kill him, deal?”
Angelus gave her a saccharin sweet smile. She narrowed her eyes at him, knowing he was lying, but didn’t see any other way. Plus, Buffy had no doubts she could beat him to the crusty dagger.
Buffy kept an eye on Connor, who was holding his own against the Beast, but she could tell he was tiring.
"One, two, three.”
They let go, but on three Angelus grabbed the knife spun around and shouted, "Connor, duck."
The blade went sailing straight at the Beast's heart. It took mere seconds, but time seemed to slow down. The knife sank into the hard skin, which started to crack; light escaped from the breaks showing through its skin. The lava-like hide separated. Bright red light erupted from the Beast's chest, before he erupted into a million pieces.
Buffy watched as sunlight slowly started to edge across the floor from a large window at the far end of the warehouse. She tackled Angelus to the ground, rolling him safely into the shadows.
"Honey, at least ditch the kid first," his voice held a seductive note as his hands immediately swept across her body.
"You idiot, the sun is coming back up. Unless you want me to carry you around in a Ziploc bag, I'd stay in the shadows if I were you," she snapped at him, swatting his hands away from the no hands zones on her body.
Her eyes kept glancing over to Connor hoping he didn't witness anything he shouldn't.
Connor walked over to join them, while they continued to argue over the sun's return.
"Uh, thanks for saving my life."
"I wasn't saving your life, kid. You were blocking my target, and I didn't want your bony body to screw up my aim." Buffy smacked his arm, hard. "Owe."
"What he means is you're welcome. You could have been hurt though; why were you following us? Do the others even know you're gone?”
Her large hazel eyes bore into him, memorizing every detail, the way he talked, smiled, walked, everything. He shuffled his feet feeling awkward around this small, yet powerful woman.
"I snuck out when I heard you leaving. I knew what I was doing. My father taught me how to fight," he said stubbornly.
She didn't know what to say to her grown son. A son she never got a chance to raise, be part of his life, or even actually give birth to, if you want to complete the picture of what was stolen from her.
Ignoring the father comment, because it wasn't the right time, she surprised even herself by asking, "Do you want to help us retrieve Angel's soul?"
in her life looked at her wide-eyed.
"Really, you would let me go with you?"
"Yeah, you'd let him. Aren't you afraid he might get a booboo, or something? Besides he can't get in where we have to go," Angelus complained.
He didn't mind Connor in small doses, but he didn't want the kid hanging around, not when he was out with his girl.
"Quit being such a big baby. There will be plenty of stuff for you to hit, promise.”
She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Angelus, effectively shutting him up. His arms wrapped around her slender waist, pulling her up against his body until nothing stood between them but their clothes.
A loud cough broke them apart. Buffy scrambled down, blushing, while Angelus glared at the person responsible for interrupting their interlude.
Connor tried to hold the stare, giving as well as he got. Angelus allowed the amber in his eyes to flicker, his fangs to drop down while his forehead remained smooth. Only a Master vampire could achieve that type control. Connor couldn't keep up his tough guy routine. The demon that looked like Angel fascinated and frightened him. Right now, he frightened him.
"Would you stop before I have to put you both in time out?”
Buffy hit Angelus on the head and gave Connor a stern look before marching off toward the door. When he could no longer see her, Angelus reached up to rub the back of his head. He and Connor traded commiserative smiles.
"She's tough, huh?" the teenager asked, his head turned in the direction the blonde Slayer had stormed off.
"You have no idea, boyo," Angelus responded, walking over to throw an arm across her slender shoulders. "Let me tell you about our little Slayer..."
Buffy could hear them talking. She hid a smile when she called over her shoulder, "Hurry up, you two, we have to get to Ditzoid's before some idiot decides to move Angel's soul."
"Work, work, nag, nag," Angelus grumbled. "If the sex wasn't so good, I'm not sure I'd go along with this."
"I can hear you," she said in a singsong voice. "If you want to learn how good it can be in a bed with all the trimmings...move your ass!"
The images that popped into his head weren’t for the unadvertursome, the vanilla sex people of the world. These images were decadent, deep chocolate sex, the kind that tempts you to forget about your diet and jump in with nothing but fingers and tongue. It entices your senses when it passes you by on the dessert tray, calling your name; your hand itches just to grab it and pop it in your mouth, heedless of whoever may be watching, but your conscious tells you no-no it will go straight to your thighs. No, this sex, these images were for those few brave people who say "to hell with my thighs, I'll buy freakin' bigger pants, gimme, gimme, gimme.”
With these delicious thoughts and images dancing around in his head, a beautifully glorious smile, spread across Angelus' face. His body language changed as he moved toward Buffy with one thought in mind. Reaching his target, he bent down to whisper in her ear, replaying the images in minute detail. The smile became a smirk when he heard her heartbeat quicken and the hint of arousal waft in the air for him to enjoy, as well as the lovely rosy flush he noted on her cheeks.
"I'm ready to go. Like you said, Buffy, the sooner we go, the sooner we can find that bed.”
He opened a side door, which luckily led to an alley with a sewer access. Running out the doorway, the vampire quickly escaped the sun's harmful rays. She took a deep breath to regain her composure, promising revenge on one gorgeous vampire.
Looking over at Connor, who eyed her in bewilderment, she said, "I'll explain later.”
They sprinted to catch up with Angelus, who was halfway down the tunnels and on his way to Dinza's lair.
Standing outside the Dark Goddess' home, Buffy felt a chill race down her spine. She could hear Angel's soul screaming for someone to find him, for her to find him. She winced when the screaming became too painful, and had to grab Angelus' hand to keep from falling.
"Are you certain you need to go in there? Maybe he isn't even there," Angelus asked Buffy; not liking this place or how pale she looked.
"No, he's there, I can hear him, and you can, too,” she said, throwing a chastising look his way.
She turned to the vampire still supporting her. Placing a palm on his cheek in comfort, Buffy drew his face down, lightly brushing her lips across his.
"It's either both, or neither. Told you I wanted it all back, plus more, so let's get to the taking part.”
Extracting herself from his arms, she shoved immense, black doors open. Wisps of fog covered their feet as they entered a scene from a nightmare. Broken-down warships, Spanish galleons, treasure chests, caskets, bones, endless items; each gruesome in its own way, lay haphazardly about the place. Spiders, snakes and crabs crawled about the ruins, causing them to move every so often.
"Ever heard of Davy Jones' Locker, the Bermuda Triangle, well you get the picture. Here it is.”
Angelus swept a hand out to encompass the gruesome treasure trove. Connor peaked in from the doorway; not liking that Buffy had forced him to swear he would stay put no matter what he saw or heard.
Buffy and Angelus heard a scuttling noise. They fell into a back-to-back stance, ready to fight whoever or whatever came at them.
"Whatss brings you here?"
Angelus jerked when he felt a bony finger scrape across his neck. He swatted at it. Dinza scuttled away, only to materialize perched on a black marble throne. She was beyond ugly, with a bald leathery scalp, pointy ears and teeth, bat-like wings and emaciated body.
"Listen, Ditzoid, you have something that belongs to us. It wasn't lost, someone stole it and you knew that before you agreed to add it to your garbage pile. Hand it over before you piss me off," Buffy growled at the dark goddess.
Angelus couldn't conceal his proud smile. His Buff was a magnificent creature. In her adolescence, he reveled in her anguish, but now her anger and passion were nirvana to his senses.
"Who are yous to threaten me? You stinks of death, why do yous think yous will ever leave heres?"
Buffy beamed a magnificent, full-blown, Buffy Summers smile.
"Haven't you heard? Death is my gift."
Dinza wheezed in air through her withered lungs. "She's dead, gone, long gone."
"You really should get out more, old girl," Angelus laughed. "Maybe eat some real food, put on a few pounds. Buffy's been back from the great beyond for a while now.”
He let the news settle in the air, allowing the full effect to take hold and expand into conscious thought.
"It's not allowed.”
Dinza's wings flared, whether in anger or fear, no one knew, but her audience didn't care. Buffy moved across the area before Angelus even realized it. She seized the ancient goddess around the neck, pulling her from her throne. Taking the skinny, scaly body to the ground, the wings flapping as Dinza let out high-pitched shrieks. Zombie-like minions materialized from thin air to aid their mistress.
"Tell them to disappear, or I'll show you up close and personal how I got rid of Glory."
She watched them surround Angelus. Glancing at the door, it was obvious even with Connor's promise, he'd soon be rushing into help. She kept one hand on Dinza's throat, grasped a wing and pulled it in the wrong direction.
The goddess of lost things shouted something in an ancient language long since forgotten, which caused the zombies to fade back into the fog.
Leaning forward, Buffy whispered into her pointed ear, "You realize where I was?”
A leathery head shook in understanding.
"We're permitted to watch over our loved ones, but only after we know the rules, for both sides. You've broken those rules, in fact, your side's broken them for quite a while now, and no one's done anything about it. Guess what Ditz, if you don't give me what I want then I'll scream down these walls, and bring it before them
The ancient goddess' eyes widened with fear and her entire body shook. Buffy released the scaly wing, patted Dinza's shoulder, and said softly. "Of course, if you were to give me what I wanted..."
Leaving the words hanging in the air, a bony finger unfurled to point to a place beneath the dark throne. Angelus vamped out, honing in on the area where the finger pointed, he saw a light flickering dully. Moving quickly across the room, he bent down to peer under the throne. A huge cavern stretched out underneath, appearing endless, but in a far corner, a soft light glowed. The vampire turned back to the two women.
"Call it forth," he ordered.
Dinza emitted a wispy, fog-like ribbon from her finger that stretched across the space, going under the throne, and returning with a glass jar. The jar glowed brighter the closer it got. When it reached the throne's edge, he snatched it up.
"I'll take that."
His actions didn't surprise Buffy. It would have amazed her more if he didn't want to hold onto Angel's soul.
With a sultry look in her eyes, she said, "C’mon let's go. There's a bed to break in, a soul to convince to play nice and share the real estate, lots of evil ass to kick, and a son to raise."
Buffy released Dinza, before sauntering out the door. Angelus for once in his long life found he was speechless.I thought she'd fight me for Angel's soul, and demand I return it immediately, not want to go...did she say bed to break in properly?
He almost dropped Angel's soul in his rush to catch up with the tantalizing woman. He found her outside talking with Connor, their son. Finally admitted, if only to himself, he cared for the boy; of course, it had more to do with the fact that he belonged to him. A sire always felt proud of strong, beautiful childer.
Buffy, Angelus and Connor walked back into the Hyperion through the side entrance. They watched in amusement as the AI team argued over how or who was responsible for the sun's return.
Angelus cleared his throat. The quarreling ceased when they turned around and saw who stood there. They backed up, grabbing weapons. Rolling his eyes at their antics, he strolled into the lobby as if he owned the place, which he did in a round about manner, to take a seat on the round sofa.
Cordelia glared at Buffy then Connor. "What are you doing just standing there? Do something, knock him out, and tie him up, whatever. Dust him if you have to before he decides we look like lunch."
Buffy walked over to the seer, smiled, and then punched her in the jaw. The much taller woman flew back several feet, hitting a large column before crumpling to the floor. Slowly moving toward the other woman groaning on the ground, she leaned down to growl into her face.
"Shut up, for once in your life you're going to listen. The rules have changed; you're either too stupid or too blind to see it. The Powers have been jerking you around for years. This is how we are going to play this game. Listen, and do what I tell you, and you might survive this. If not, there's the door. Decide, I could give a rat’s ass either way, but you only get one chance."
"Who do you think that you...” Cordelia started to interrupt.
"I'm The Slayer. That is with a capitol ‘T’ and a capitol 'S', Cordy. Look it up sometime. The Powers have been sitting on their royal asses while the bad guys are winning this war, and it stops now. I'm taking back what they took from me. If you're tired of them screwing you over, then you're welcome to join us. We are going to take a nice long nap. Later, we'll come back down and give you the 411. You can tell us your decision then."
Buffy went over to Angelus and pulled him up from the sofa. They walked up the steps. Faced with a hallway of rooms, she asked him to show her to Angel's room. He hurriedly ushered her to his room and closed the door after them, before pulling her into his arms.
"I believe there was mention of beds and things to be done on them," his voice reverberated in her ear, before he nipped it between his teeth.
Her eyes closed as images filled her mind. She never knew it could be this way, that a lover could have her hot and wanting with words alone. Of course, Angelus wasn't just any lover, and nothing was off limits for him. He saw sex the way it should be – a luscious adventure. Every other partner had regarded her as something to treasure or conquer, but never explore!
He wrapped his arms around her, and slowly started walking her backward. He guided them toward the bed. Angelus had removed her shirt, before Buffy could even catch her breath. Before she knew what was happening, she was airborne as he threw her onto the large mattress. She landed flat on her back, with Angelus slowly crawling up her body. Pleasure shot through her; each place he touched burned, and she knew this wasn't even the appetizer. Angelus planned to squeeze every ounce of pleasure from her, to teach her things about her body she never knew, before he allowed them the final release.
Angel's soul cried out to her, but she ignored it. Her mind stayed focused on one thing - Angelus. His dark chocolate eyes were nearly black with desire. He turned to look at the jar sitting on the nightstand before returning his heated gaze to the golden beauty beneath him. He arched a brow in question. She soothed away any doubts by wrapping a small hand in his shirt and pulling him down to her waiting lips.
Buffy didn't even notice him quietly sliding the jar into the nightshade drawer. Pulling away once air became an issue, she took in a deep breath. Buffy grabbed hold of the shirt's collar, and tore it apart, causing buttons to shoot across the room.
"Slow, Buff. You're going to beg me to stop then pray I don't. I plan to take my time. I'll know what brings you pleasure, pain and everything in between, later I'll teach you how to mix the two."
Angelus' words poured into her ear, while his hands teased her. A nail scraped a thin line, drawing blood over golden flesh. Buffy's breathing increased from the impact of his words. When he bent down to lick the blood, she was already wishing he would rip her clothes off, but understood that wasn't Angelus' way. This experience was one she would never forget, and she planned to go along for the ride, even if it killed her.
Long fingers stroked across heated golden skin, leaving behind a blazing trail of need and desire. Angelus removed Buffy's remaining clothes. He stepped back to take in the feast before his eyes. Starting at her feet, he drew a delicate foot between his broad hands and rubbed the padding behind the base of her toes. He carefully applied pressure as he swept first down the outside ridge before sweeping around the heel toward the tender instep.
Buffy simultaneously sucked in air and moaned. She wasn't sure she hadn’t swallowed her tongue in the process. She wanted to cry when he took his hand away then almost shot up off the bed, when he sucked her little toe into his mouth and applied pressure to some point on her foot. Her back arched like a bow and a shriek burst from her lips as the first event of the evening concluded.
A small, blonde head moved restlessly across a pillow. She moaned and keened as the man repeatedly took her to the edge, but wouldn't allow her to fall. Buffy begged and pleaded with her dark lover to permit her body to rest, or give her the release she needed.
Angelus ceased his ministrations, having heard what he desired to hear. The words that would take them onto the final steps of their journey. They gazed into each other’s eyes, knowing things would never be the same again, not after this last and final step. What happened here and now was a woman accepting a man willingly, as part of herself. They would become one entity, and they knew it was more than sex. They had always known. Soul or no soul, he knew this woman would be the death or life of him, and was more than willing to see which it would be.
They came together so completely it was as if she could absorb him into her very soul. Buffy took Angelus' face into her hands to capture his lips with hers. He pushed them closer to their goal. She pulled away and bared her neck to him, offering him what he required to complete his passions. Fangs sank into the delicate neck, blood flowed down a strong, chorded throat, and two creatures born from darkness created a bond no one could ever break, not Angel or even the PTB.
Breathing heavily, Buffy fell backward onto the bed, pulling Angelus with her. She placed an arm behind her head on the pillow, while she contemplated the ceiling. Buffy wasn't sure how to ask the question on the tip of her tongue.
"What do you want to say, lover?"
"Do you think we have enough time for a small nap? I mean, do you think it's mean to leave Angel in the jar, while we snuggle for a half hour or so. Is that too terrible?"
She curled into the now warm body next to her. He wrapped his arms around the small form.
"Soul Boy can wait half an hour, close your eyes and take a nap; you've earned it."
His voice dropped to a sexy whisper as he placed a kiss on her forehead. She nodded against him, closing her eyes, falling asleep almost instantly.
"Yep, Soul Boy, you would wait till hell froze over if I had my way, but Buffy wouldn't like that."
They sat facing each other on the bed, the jar with Angel's soul stood between them like an immovable wall they couldn't climb. Quietly, steadily, their voices mixed together finishing each other’s sentences, while they told him everything the Powers had permitted the Partners to orchestrate.
Angel's soul screamed within its confines. The two watching couldn't help but wince. They felt his pain and shared it. If it could, the soul would've battered down its prison's walls to get mystical hands on those responsible for so much grief and wasted time.
"Do you want a life with us?"
Buffy waited for an answer. Unable to look up at Angelus, she kept her focus on Angel, because too much depended on his answer. She felt it surround her.
It was a vow, an unbreakable commitment to her, to Connor, and yes, even to Angelus. He wanted his life to be with them. A dream he gave up hoping for long ago.
Buffy got up off the bed, quietly leaving the room. Angelus watched Angel's soul swirl around in the jar.
"Don't think you'll be the one in control, Soul Boy. We're going to share and share alike; that means the body and Buffy."
The swirls moved faster, resembling a mini tornado. After a few minutes, they slowed down as if they'd run out of gas.
"That's better. I don't know why she even bothers with you when she has me."
He felt tempted to throw the hateful jar out the windows. Watching it shatter on the sidewalk would bring him endless joy. The only problems with his plan was it would piss Buffy off and the stupid jar wouldn't break - damn magic. If the only way he could have her was with his counterpart along for the ride, so be it. He was already planning how he was going to spend them showing her all the world's decadent pleasures. She had showed him she was an apt pupil, even surprising him with her willingness to accept new things.
Buffy's return with Wesley brought him back to reality. Angelus did share Angel's feelings toward the former AI team member. They would never forgive him for the part he had played in Connor's kidnapping. It didn't matter if the Powers could've stepped in anytime. This man was supposed to be Angel's friend and he had betrayed him. His actions caused them to miss seeing their son grow into a man.
"Are you two ready? Wesley's going to perform the spell to release Angel's soul," Buffy declared, ignoring the room's atmosphere.
"Since when does the weasel know how to do magic?"
A dark brow rose so high it almost joined his hairline. Wesley ignored the smirking vampire. He unloaded a large bag and started preparing the room for the spell. Spreading fine white sand into a circle on the floor, placing four crystals at the pinnacles, alternating between black and white. He took a small paint pot and an intricate dagger from his bag, and approached Angelus.
"Remove your shirt."
"Why, Wes, I didn't know you swung that way. Here all this time I thought you were eying young Miss Burkle, and it was really Mr. Gunn you were lusting after. Did you ask if you could check out his holster?"
Wesley's long, elegant fingers created intricate designs on smooth alabaster skin; lines, swirls, and patterns bent back on top of one another, until they covered Angelus' entire upper body. Buffy watched in fascination as her lover turned from elegant lord to tribal warrior. She rolled the jar between her hands while she observed. Angel's soul hummed in the back of her mind like a soft caress, soothing her. Blinking her eyes open, she found amber-lit chocolate eyes staring down at her. He put his hand out for the jar. She let it go, somewhat reluctantly. Angelus stepped into the circle, careful not to disturb the sand.
Turning to Buffy, Wesley said, "Please stand here facing Angelus. You can't move from this spot, or we could lose them both."
She nodded, never taking her eyes away from the dark vampire only a few feet away. The former watcher removed a small book from the bag, and in a low, steady voice started to chant. She couldn't understand the words at first. They sounded more like grunts, and she figured they were some demon language that she couldn't pronounce. The words changed in language and tempo. Wesley didn't yell. His voice just increased with each word he spoke. She recognized a few words as Latin. She saw Angelus' face morph, his eyes blazed with anger, and what appeared as slight traces of fear.
The crystals started to glow. She swore she heard them hum, keeping tempo with Wesley's words. He had switched to English and the words were beautiful, raw and frightening. Not of the dead, nor of the living.
Let the soul of the warrior return
Bind them soul, body, demon and mate
A never-ending circle of love, desire and blood
Bind them now, bind them fast
Eternal and unending
All or none, all are one
Let the soul cross over
Set him free, back to the tether bound
Back to this earthly ground
The jar shattered into dust, releasing Angel's soul. Angelus' eyes flashed red when the soul reentered his body. He fell to his knees, resisting up to the last minute, fighting to maintain control.
Angelus whispered to Buffy," Mine, you're mine."
She understood it was as close to telling her, he loved her as he could get.
"I'm yours, Angelus."
She turned around to search Wesley's face. "When were you going to tell me about the whole eternal part?"
Steady blue eyes searched her face and realized she didn't know.
"My dear, the eternal part was more for their sake than yours. I'm surprised Mr. Giles hasn't informed you about this. The simple fact is you're immortal."
She jumped up from the floor, and started to pace. She kept shaking her head, and muttering under her breath.
"Immortal. Surely, you know you came back differently. Miss Rosenberg's spell changed your entire molecular structure. I must say that short of a true apocalypse nothing can kill you. The spell I researched before going to the Shaman didn't call for you to be part of it, but given your circumstances I took the liberty and made some minor adjustments.”
He gave his former Slayer a kind smile. He knew he hadn't helped her when he was her Watcher, but hoped in some small way he had helped to give her some type of future.
She stopped pacing and crumpled to the floor with a stunned look on her face. Molecular sunburn my ass.
"Are you all right?” he asked, with concern heavy in his voice.
She nodded her head about to tell him thank you when they heard a low groan.
"Buffy," Angel hoarsely whispered her name.
Crawling across the floor to him, Buffy gathered him into her arms.
"Shush, Angel, I'm here.”
She brushed the hair away from his face while she murmured nonsensical words to him.
Wesley slipped from the room, taking up guard duty to ensure the occupants got some privacy. It didn't take long for the pounding of feet to warn him the AI team was racing up the stairs, no doubt having felt the magics heavy in the air.
Cordelia stomped down the hall. A triumphant expression on her face after Lorne announced Angel was back in the building.
"Move it, Wesley. I want to see Angel."
"He's otherwise occupied, Cordelia, and will come down when he's ready." The weariness in his tone totally escaped the seer's notice.
"I'm sick and tired of you acting like you know what Angel wants better than I do." She shoved the exhausted man aside. "Angel," she called, starting into the room with a huge smile on her face, then stopped short. The smile quickly fell flat.
There stood Angel and Buffy wrapped in each others arms, sharing a kiss that left no doubt to anyone watching what their feelings were for each other.
Cordy whirled back around to pin Lorne with an accusing glare. "I thought you said Angel was back."
"That is Angel, Cordykins," Lorne answered, taking in the two on the floor.
Their auras screamed at him, all three of them. He had heard about this Slayer on the demon grapevine and from Cordelia's stories, but nothing had prepared him for Buffy Summers. Lorne could see the irony of a Slayer loving a vampire with a soul. He just never saw the part where she'd love him enough to love his demon too.
Angel reluctantly pulled away from Buffy's lips. Lifting her onto his lap as he sat on the bed and he turned to face his friends and family. His eyes searched Connor's face, wondering how he could've missed the similarities between mother and son.
"Hey, guys, is there a reason you couldn't wait for us to come down?"
"Is there a reason?! A reason? How about, Wesley went behind your back again and got little Miss Saves the World here? He wouldn't even let me check to see that she didn't intend on dusting Angelus, preventing your ride home."
"Shut up, Cordelia," Angel told his seer in a deceptively quiet voice. Kill her, snap her neck, it would ensure we never have to listen to her yapping voice speak about our girl again.
Angelus was cheering him on. It was an entirely new experience for Angel. Usually, he ignored his demon, now he felt like they were kindred spirits when it came to Buffy.
"What did you just say to me?” She gave him her version of the evil eye, which normally had him backing down and apologizing.
"You heard me, shut up. If Wesley hadn't brought Buffy here, I'd still be stuck in a jar under Dinza's throne. Thanks, Wes."
The former AI team member nodded his head in acknowledgment. Cordelia snorted in disbelief, not liking where the situation was heading.
"We would've come up with something; we always do. The Powers would've sent me a vision. Everyone just panicked because Angelus kept saying awful things to them. He was horrible Angel; you should've heard what he said to me."
She forced tears into her eyes, allowing them to hang on the tips of her eyelashes. It was a handy trick she had practiced for hours in her mirror, until she could call it at will. Buffy rolled her eyes, seeing through Cordelia's act.
"The Powers can't send visions if Angel isn't around to act upon them."
Everyone in the room turned to look at Buffy in surprise and shock.
"What do you mean? They sent me visions this summer about Angelus, while Angel swam with the fishes."
Saying the words aloud had several AI team members, wondering about their validity, but not Miss Chase. She steamrolled ahead confident of her place in the world, her gifts and that she was the only one for Angel. Cordelia completely ignored her relationship with Connor. It never entered her mind that Angel would consider it a betrayal, not only to their burgeoning relationship, but also to their friendship.
"Even you aren't that stupid, Cordy. Why would the Powers send you visions about Angelus? Why wouldn't they send you visions to tell you how to find Angel, so you, his trusty Fang Gang could rescue him?”
Buffy's eyes searched each face in the room to see who understood what she was saying. Comprehension dawned on each face except one.
"Because whoever sent the visions wanted her focused on someone else," Angel answered, turning to glance at Connor.
He saw that his son had started putting the pieces together, and he didn't like where the information was taking him. Connor couldn't say he liked this world. Each time he thought he had something real, lies or magic took it from him. His large blue eyes sought the small blonde Slayer, instinctively trusting her.
"The visions Cordy saw this summer did they make her do the things she did?"
Cordelia didn't like the direction this conversation was going. She knew she had to derail this train, before it went any further.
"That has nothing to do with anything. Angel's back and Buffy should be heading home to Sunnydale. She has her own town to worry about.”
The bleached blonde seer tried to pull Buffy up from Angel's lap. Angel's hand snaked out, catching the fragile wrist in a vice-like grip.
"Don't ever touch her again. In case you've forgotten, this is my home. I say, who stays and who goes. And, I think it's time everyone leaves my
room, except Connor. Buffy and I need to talk to him. We'll be down later to talk to you about going with us
back to Sunnydale. If you don't want to go, you're more than welcome to stay here and monitor AI. I'm not sure what I'll do with the company but that's a discussion and decision for later."
Cordelia jerked her arm away, standing back with a stunned look on her face. "You're going to Sunnydale with her? What about us? What about your redemption and your Shanshu? Angel, you can't throw it all away for that that bitch
The words left her mouth, before she could take them back. Angelus popped out, without Angel realizing it. The transitions was so smooth, they simply flowed from one persona to the other, right before everyone’s eyes. Angelus gently sat Buffy on the bed. He rose in one graceful movement. His arm shot out as his body came to its full height, and his hand wrapped around Cordelia Chase's neck. Angelus lifted her off the ground, and up above his head, so that she dangled in the air like a rag doll.
Shaking her back and forth until her head seemed to barely hang onto her neck , he spoke. "The next time you open that viper's nest you call a mouth and speak one word against my mate; I'll gladly break each and every bone in your body. Your death will be such slow torment you'll beg me to end your life, and still I won't. Do I make myself clear, Cordelia,?"
She mumbled her assent, and he dropped her to the floor like yesterday's garbage. Cordelia rubbed her neck, sniffling and expecting someone to offer her sympathy, but no one did. She glanced up to see them staring at Angelus.
"Here are the rules, boys and girls. We share this body, which means I have equal say and equal playtime. I can and will appear when we agree, or if I see something that requires my own special brand of justice, shall we say?” He said with a meaningful look at Cordelia.
His gaze embraced them; it seemed to bore into their heads, reading their minds.
"Don't think you can use magic to get rid of me. Ask Wesley. He's the one responsible for my appearance. I'm here to stay. But, think of it this way, with me like this, at least Angel gets to have as many happies as his little heart can handle, and his soul won't go bye-bye.”
He gave them a devilish smirk. Buffy giggled from her place on the bed. Angelus winked at her, before letting Angel return.
Lorne cleared his throat, "Well, as exciting as this is, I'm ready for a drink or twenty. Angel Lips, it's great to have you back, even if it's on timeshare. We'll leave you alone to speak with Connor. Come on campers, let's give them some privacy, shoo.”
He waved his green hands at the Fred and Gunn, who stood speechless.
"Oh, uh, glad to have you back, man," Gunn said, before turning to leave the room. He stopped, saying over his shoulder. "That Angelus is one head-tripping vamp.”
The street fighter quietly left the room. His bald head shook from side to side, and those with supernatural hearing could hear him mutter under his breath, about not one but two vamp bosses.
Fred's head bobbed up and down in agreement. "Charles' right. Why did Angelus seem so much smarter than you, Angel? Is there some evil IQ rating that increases the brain synapses due to the badness in your body? I think I'm going to run some tests. Do you think Angelus will answer some questions for me? This is really quite fascinating. Oh, oh, yeah, I'm glad you're back, Angel, and it's nice to finally to meet you, Buffy. You're way prettier than Cordy said you were."
Realizing what she had just babbled, Fred blushed and quickly scrambled from the room.
Lorne took Cordelia's arm, pulling her behind him as he too excited the room. He didn't trust the seer to keep her mouth shut. The anagogic demon didn’t for one minute doubt that Angelus would carry out his threat.
Buffy stood and slowly approached Connor. She badly wanted to wrap her arms around her son, and never let go. It just wasn't the right time or place just yet; they still needed to talk.
"Connor, I realize you don't know me and we just met and all, but I need to tell you a story."
He sat down and listened for over an hour, watching the tiny blonde Slayer's expressive face while she talked. Every once in awhile his gaze would turn away and he’d catch Angel's eye. The story was too unreal, too good to be true. Connor had always felt as if someone was punishing him because his parents were vampires. If what Buffy, or if he believed her, his mother, just told him was true; he was wanted - destined.
"What do you want from me?" he asked, uncertain what answers were the correct ones.
They couldn't turn into a family overnight, and certainly not if they left him behind when they went to Sunnydale.
"We're returning to Sunnydale tomorrow.” She saw his shoulders slump. "We'd like you to come with us. I won't lie to you, Connor. There's a big fight ahead. It'll be bigger than anything you've seen so far, bigger than the Beast or Dinza, even Quor-Toth. Angel, Angelus, and I have fought together before. We know what we can do and when we need help. If you're willing to listen to us and do what we say, even if you don't understand it then I want you to come and help us fight. If you don't think you can, I'll have to ask you to stay here."
Buffy paused, as she garnered her strength to share her feelings with the other man in her life. She sent him a brilliant smile, and pressed forward.
”I love you, Connor. I always have and I always will, but I can't worry about whether you're going to jump in and get yourself, or possibly us, killed."
Angel wouldn't realize until later that he held his breath waiting for their son's answer. His life was too ironic at times. Connor simply put out his hand. He clasped it, before pulling the younger man into his arms. Looking over his son's shoulder, he saw the yearning in Buffy's eyes and opened his arms wider. She joined the group hug, sandwiching Connor in the middle.
The newly bonded family walked down the Hyperion's stairs. Their talk had produced a fragile truce between Angel and Connor. After the family hug and more explanations, Connor gladly accepted Buffy as his mother. When it all came together in his mind, he admitted this was why he had felt drawn to her from the instant she walked into the hotel. He blushed, remembering his first thoughts, feeling creeped out he hd thought his mother was hot.
Lorne watched the small family. His green hands automatically reaching up to rub his ringing head. The aura surrounding Angel and Buffy just tripled in magnitude with Connor standing beside them. He smelled a rat, a PTB's-sized rat.
"Angel Lips, is there something you want to tell your good buddy, Lorne? Something about you and your little golden Twinkie there, and oh - say a bouncing baby boy?"
"You're kidding me," Cordelia huffed, from her place on the round sofa. "What are you, Angel, the vampire's answer to the population explosion? Are you going to get every blonde you sleep with pregnant?”
Her hand unwittingly went up to fluff her dyed locks. Buffy's hazel eyes took in her former high school companion. She had always thought Cordelia's long chestnut hair beautiful, and almost didn't recognize the other woman when she first saw her with the cropped, dyed hairstyle. Thinking over Cordelia's statement and taking in the changed appearance, she started laughing.
"What's your damage?”
The seer stood up, approaching the blonde Slayer at the bottom of the stairs. Buffy hugged her sides, trying to stop laughing. She grabbed Connor's arm, trying to steady herself, which angered Cordy even more.
"Let me explain a few things to you, Cor. Angel's only ever gotten one blonde pregnant - me. Darla carried Connor because the Powers decided to allow the Partner's lackey to kill the Oracles. Things aren't always what they appear. Angel took back the day so I wouldn't die, but I did die. That should've been a big wake up call to the brainiacs you have working here, but you don't talk to each other, just like we didn't back in Sunnydale. They jerked us around there too. Connor's my son, mine and Angel's.”
Buffy leaned down close so that only Cordelia could hear her.
"If you want to keep on breathing, I'd keep your hands to yourself. Think about it this way, you've been sucking face with a boy who's 50% me and 50% Angel. Wonder which half you lips were touching?”
Her laughter rang out in the Hyperion's lobby when Cordelia rushed away, looking decidedly nauseous.