Ignoring what was happening in the training room as best they could, Giles, Wesley, Cordelia, and Joe talked.
"You’re kidding. Right?" Joe said in disbelief.
"No," Cordelia replied smugly, leaning back in her chair as she crossed her arms and legs, "I'm not. Angel was really stuck in a meat locker. The funny part was that by the time we got there to check things out, he had punched a hole through the wall by the door...but it was too high for him to reach the door handle. If it were possible, he would've been blushing when we got him out."
"That's nothing compared to what those Watchers did to Buffy with those tests of theirs," Anya chimed in from the checkout counter.
"Good Lord," murmured Giles as he wearily rubbed his eyes. "That was a nightmare, in and of itself. That was, until Buffy put them in their place."
The moment Giles finished speaking, there was a brilliant flash of light from the training room that no one could ignore. Before any of them could move to find out what had happened, Willow staggered out, pale-faced and holding her stomach, nearly running to the bathroom in her effort to keep from throwing up on the floor. Seconds after the bathroom door slammed shut, Tara appeared in the doorway to the training room, clinging to it for some sort of support, as she gazed at the others with a haunted expression.
In a voice filled with absolute horror, she said raggedly, "Never again! I am never doing anything like that again!!"
With obvious concern, Giles went to the shaken witch, and guided her over to where the others were, and had her sit down. Gently, he asked, "What happened?"
"W-we b-b-bound h-his s-soul," Tara said, not wanting to give the real answer the Watcher asked for, making her stutter in the process.
Giles gazed at Tara, then said quietly, but firmly, "I can tell that you don't wish to tell us what happened. I can understand that...but we need
to know what happened -- in detail -- concerning Angel."
After a moment, Tara nodded slowly in understanding. She drew in a deep breath, then slowly began telling them what she could.
"When we got to where Angel was in the ether, we saw the Demon and Angel fighting--"
"Huh?" said Cordelia, interrupting Tara. "What do you mean by 'Demon and Angel'? There's just the demon, then the soul."
Tara shook her head, then said in explanation, "No, not with him...he's far more than he seems. Do you ever wonder why as just a vampire his reign was so terrifying? The demon that resides within him is one of the Old Ones--"
Tara winced, when both Giles and Wesley shouted, then continued on, saying, "Apparently, one of the Old Ones found a way to place themselves into a human-just-turned-vampire."
Giles nodded slowly, then murmured, "And Angel was that unlucky victim."
Tara nodded, and said, "The thing is, is that his soul is the complete opposite of the Demon...it is an Angel. Actually...make that Archangel, because of how powerful he is."
"How can that be?" asked Giles, his astonishment clear.
Gazing at Cordelia and Wesley, Tara asked, "One of the things Angel is doing in LA is saving souls, as well as being a Warrior for the Powers That Be, right?" Both Watcher and Seer nodded agreement. "Well, I can tell you that his soul has been redeemed...it was just the Demon that was keeping him from claiming his redemption."
"By the gods," whispered Wesley in numb shock. "He could have been human by now."
Tara shook her head, gazing at Wesley sadly, before saying, "Not now, he can't. The rules have changed for him."
rules?" Cordelia exclaimed. "There were never any rules that I
knew of...and I've been with him since he began his quest in LA!"
Tara frowned, then felt hands on her shoulders. She looked up to see a pale-faced Willow standing behind her. Smiling slightly, she said, "Hey."
Willow smiled weakly in return, then focused her attention on everyone else, and asked, "What's this about rules?"
"The rules the Higher Powers gave us to tell the others about Angel," Tara supplied as Willow sat down next to her.
After a moment of thought, Willow's eyes lit up, as she remembered what Tara was talking about. "Oh, yeah!" Willow's enthusiasm left as quickly as it came, leaving her once again looking ill, as she said, "But in order to explain that, ya kinda need to tell them what happened."
"Tell you what," Tara said with a faint understanding smile, "I'll tell them what happened -- since that was what I was already doing --, and you tell them about the rules when I'm done."
Willow thoughtfully nodded her head in agreement, then gestured for her lover to continue. Tara nodded, continuing her explanation.
"As I was saying.... Because of Angel working to redeem himself, and his rank as a Warrior...he is an Angel. Because both the Demon and Angel are so powerful within him...there is no true dominant personality.
, because of the curse, the soul had dominance...most of the time. But I could tell that there were times when it slipped, and the Demon had a small measure of control...."
Tara gazed at Cordelia and Wesley, and asked bluntly, "The Demon had control recently, didn't it?"
Both Watcher and Seer gazed at each other uncomfortably. It was Wesley who finally spoke, saying uneasily, "Uh, yes. It did. Only recently -- for some unknown reason -- did he seem to, uh, snap out of it...for lack of a better term."
"That's what I thought," Tara murmured. She then sighed, before saying, "I guess I'd better explain about the Angel and Demon." She leaned forward, her expression becoming very intense.
"As I said, when Willow and I reached the place where the essence that Angel is exists, we called on the Higher Powers to aid us. What we didn't realize, was that once we began the spell...They would take over. All we could do was watch, and be the anchor needed to return him to his body when They were done."
Tara paused, as Willow made a choking noise, and fled once again to the bathroom. As the others turned back to look at Tara, from following Willow's hasty retreat, they were startled to see the Wiccan very pale-faced, and looking ill herself. It took her a moment to realize that everyone was looking at her.
She shook her head to clear it, and said, "There's a reason why she keeps doing that....
"When the Powers That Be took over, They began to -- literally -- tear apart the Demon and Angel."
"What?!" Cordelia exclaimed. "But what-- How-- Why?!
Wouldn't that destroy him...not bind his soul?!"
"Not for him, it won't," said Whistler, as he walked out of the training room, Methos behind him. "You see, the thing is that what They were doing was taking all the bad stuff they could out of the Demon and Angel, and combinin' all the stuff that was left into one entity."
At all but Tara's strange looks, Whistler said, "Ya gotta realize, Angel had two beings existing in a body that should only have one
being in it. If he stayed the way he was...he'd be destroyed. So They
needed to make sure one of Their top three Warriors didn't suddenly take up sunbathing.... Especially since he almost did when he hit rock-bottom this last time."
"Huh?!" Cordelia exclaimed. "When did he hit rock-bottom?!"
Whistler rolled his eyes, as Methos -- standing behind him -- crossed his arms, and muttered in an unknown language, before saying out-loud, "Do you even wonder what brought him back to you, after he turned dark?"
"Not really," Cordelia said after a moment. "Everything was just happening too fast to think about it."
Methos nodded -- as if confirming what he had thought --, and said, "Whistler told me what happened, and I feel that I understand it enough to summarize it.... I'm not going to give explicit details...that's for the vampire to tell, not me.
"Basically what happened was that just before he returned to you, he was told some things that made him give up all hope. He thought to loose himself in the only way he could, but he was unable to succeed in what he wanted. When he -- quite literally -- woke up to what he had been doing...he realized that was not what everything was about. He decided to get back on track, and went back to you guys to help him do that."
By this time, Cordelia had her head in her hands, and whispered after Methos finished, "I was such a jerk to him, when he returned.... I feel like an idiot!"
"No fault of yours. You didn't know." Methos commented, dismissing the subject, then said, as he gazed at Willow and Tara, "You both mentioned something about rules?"
Willow's eyes widened, as she exclaimed, "Oh! Yes, we did." Willow then said in a calmer tone, "I suppose I should explain, then.
"Some of the normal rules about vampires no longer apply to Angel. Such as the not entering a home without an invite. Since he's clearly chosen which side he'll fight on, They can take that rule away from him. He still can't go out in the sun, but that couldn't be avoided. Basically, he's still a vampire, but not."
"Why can't he became human, Willow," asked Wesley in a very serious tone. "He was promised mortality."
"Simple," said Whistler, as he sat down -- Methos going to sit down by Joe, who had been silently listening the entire time --. "The Powers That Be don't want to separate two of Their greatest Warriors. Those two fight better together than apart.... Although, them bein' apart has made them stronger. Which should make them near invincible together now."
"Couldn't They have made him Immortal like Adam?" asked Cordelia.
Methos shook his head, before answering for himself, "If They did, he wouldn't possess the strength he has now."
"Thus," murmured Giles softly, "he would not be Buffy's equal, and would not consider himself a Warrior."
"Exactly," said Methos.