Buffy & Angel - Their world
Anyone walking past the window could see her. Sitting there, curled up in a ball, her arms around her legs, face resting against her knees. If they looked closely, they could see the trace of tears on her cheeks, rolling with gravity towards her jean clad knees. Those who walked past frequently would be able to tell you she had been there, in that same position, for days. Her neighbours, who had come to take her comings and goings at odd hours for granted, had noticed that she'd not left the house in at least a week. One of them had finally contacted one of her friends, who had contacted Willow Rosenburg, who had been seen often at the woman's home. That same neighbour peeked out her window to finally see Willow Rosenburg's car pull up in the driveway, and watched as she and her male friend got out and walked up to the house.
"Mrs Ledbetter told me she hasn't moved in days."
"Do you know why?" Oz rang the bell, looking at his girlfriend. Willow shook her head.
"She told me she was going out of town for a while, and I haven't heard from her since. I didn't even realise she was back." Willow rang the bell this time, unable to hear sounds of movement from inside. They waited for a couple of minutes, then grew impatient. As Willow yelled for her friend, Oz bent down and jimmied the door open. Willow looked surprised, but took it in stride, opening the door wider and striding inside. The smell struck them first. Oz gagged, his sensitive were-wolf nose being assaulted. He put his hand up, trying to ward off the smell.
"God! It smells like someone died in here!" Willow froze, horrified at what she'd just said, then sprinted for the front room, Oz hot on her tail. Buffy was still curled up on her chair, looking blankly out the window. But she wasn't dead, so that was a plus. Willow slowed down, approaching her friend with caution. Oz stopped a few metres away.
"Buffy?" Willow put out her hand and gently touched Buffy's shoulder. It was ice cold, almost as though she were dead. Willow cupped her hand around Buffy's shoulder and shook gently. There didn't seem to be any reaction. Willow looked back to Oz, who shrugged. He had no idea what was wrong with the Slayer. Willow tried again.
"Buffy, it's Willow. What's the matter?" She crouched down, hunkering next to the window. There was silence for a long time, broken only by their drawing in air in short gasps.
"He's dead." She finally told her friend, barely moving.
"Who's dead? Buffy, what's going on? You're scaring me." There was a short, bitter laugh from Buffy, who turned her face to look at Willow. She smiled, but there was no humour, only intense pain and hurt.
"Well, it's not Reily."
"Angel." Willow breathed, stunned. "How? When? Is that why you left town last week?" Buffy turned back to look out the window, and finally spoke in low voice.
"Cordelia rang me from LA two weeks ago, saying there was a major battle going down, and that Angel needed my help. I went to help, and found out it was another apocalypse event. We were fighting the bad guys, and one of them rushed up and ...........killed him." Both Oz and Willow watched as a tear ran silently down the slayer's cheek, unchecked. "He turned to me, and then he just disappeared into dust." Buffy sobbed once, then cupped her face in her arms, grasping at the hair on top of her head, rocking and keening softly. Willow was stunned, but saw that Buffy needed her help, and reached up to hold her tightly. She rocked with her friend, humming soothing noises as she did so. Oz went for the windows and opened up the house, the smell getting to him. He rang Giles and Joyce, then searched the house for the offending smell. It was some....thing sitting in the oven. Obviously a dinner that hadn't been eaten and had gone off rapidly in the heat. He threw out the multi coloured growth, dish and all, and then took a deep breath. He returned to the front room to find Willow still holding Buffy tight and saw Giles pull up with a squeal of tires and a small puff of smoke. Oz watched as the ex-librarian ran up the path and dashed into the house, out of breath slightly from the exertion. He walked slowly over to his slayer, stopping just next to her.
"Buffy?" He put a hand on hers, and she looked up, drawing back from Willow.
"Oh God, Giles!" She cried, holding out a hand to him. It was his turn to offer comfort. For all that Angel and Buffy had been apart for over six years, they all knew that the two of them were never separate. His death meant that Buffy had lost a part of herself. Giles took his slayer into his arms and comforted her as much as he could.
Buffy was asleep, curled up in her bed in a fetal position. Joyce was sitting beside the bed, watching her daughter toss and turn. Giles had assembled the others in the front room, where they sat in silence.
"I don't understand. Why is she upset? So her ex-lover kicked the bucket?"
"Anya." Willow snapped.
"Angel and Buffy were....soulmates." Giles put his hand to his forehead, trying to massage away the headache that was forming. Explaining things to Anya always caused headaches.
"Soul mates? That's just something humans made up eons ago for their own comfort."
"Perhaps, in some cases. But in this case, it is the truth. They are each half of the other."
"Buffy could always stand the thought that Angel was in LA, as long as he was still...alive. But now that he's dead? I don't know how she's going to cope with that." Willow looked towards Buffy's room, her face full of pain for her friend.
Joyce sat up as Buffy stirred in her sleep. She watched as her daughter slowly opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling above her.
"Buffy? Honey?" Joyce sat forward, reaching out to touch her daughter. Buffy sat up, away from Joyce's hand, and climbed off the bed. "Buffy?" Joyce repeated, standing up.
"Hello, Mom." Buffy said absently as she walked out of the room. In the front room, the others turned around and smiled up at her. She didn't return the smile. She didn't have any smiles left in her.
"Buffy, are you alright?" Giles came up to her.
"Fine, Giles." She walked over to the couch and sat down. "I'd like to be alone now." She announced in a cold, hard voice. The others were stunned.
"Are you sure?" Willow sounded surprised.
"I'm not an invalid, nor am I mentally disabled. I'd just like to be alone now." With reluctance, Xander, Willow and Oz stood up and slowly left the house.
"Buffy, what is the matter with you?" Joyce demanded, her eyes flashing. Buffy looked at her mother without emotion, her eyes bleak and dead in her face.
"Go away." She turned her face away, and heard the door to her house close, leaving her alone as she'd asked.
TWO MONTHS LATER
Buffy quickly dispatched the vampire, silent as always. She turned to face the remaining two, and walked slowly forward. They broke and ran, scurrying down the alleyway, trying to find a way to escape the Slayer. Buffy tossed her stake in her hand, then snapped it in two and threw both stakes at the fleeing vampires. Both turned to dust, one falling several feet to the ground before vanishing into dust. Buffy turned and walked away, her face blank. Two shadows separated themselves from the deeper shadows around them, and watched as the Slayer walked off alone.
"Wow." The man breathed.
"Yeah. Issues, much?" The girl stepped forward, as if to follow Buffy. The man held her back and shook his head.
"I think we should talk to Rupert first. Find out what's going on here." The girl hesitated, then shrugged.
"Sure. I'm up with that."
The door bell sounded for the second time in a matter of seconds.
"I'm bloody coming!" Giles muttered, pulling up his trousers. 2.30am, and the door bell rings. Buffy had probably forgotten she had a key to his apartment. He opened the door, ready to try to tease a smile out of his slayer, then stared in shock.
"Wesley. Cordelia." Cordelia smiled brightly at him, then blithely made her way past him, into his living room. Wesley followed.
"Hello, Rupert." Wesley held out his hand for Giles to take. The Watcher did so, distractedly.
"Um.....How are you.....What are you doing in Sunnydale? I thought you were in LA keeping the business going."
"We are. We're here on business.....Kind of." Cordelia sat down on the couch, crossing her legs at the ankles. Wesley sat beside her.
"Sorry to intrude on you so late in the evening." Wesley started to apologise, but Giles waved him off. It was too early in the morning to deal with Wesley.
"What's the problem?"
"Straight down to business, huh?"
"Angel asked us to see if Buffy's okay." Wesley announced. Giles froze, unable to believe what he'd heard.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Angel sent us down here to see if Buffy was okay. She left in a hurry a couple of months ago, so he just wanted to see if there was anything he could do for her." Cordelia pulled her hair back away from her face, blinking her eyes to keep herself awake. It was way past sleep time.
"Angel....sent you down.....to see....." Giles couldn't handle this sort of news this early in the morning. "Do you want to explain something to me? How can Angel send you anywhere if he's dead?"
"What!?" They both cried out, stunned. "Since when?" Cordelia continued. "I just talked to him on the cell phone half an hour ago."
"But...Buffy came back from LA a couple of months ago, and told us that Angel had died in a big fight up there." Giles watched as the two of them threw horrified glances at each other.
"Oh, Jesus! Cordelia, that means Porsial isn't dead."
"He's contaminated Buffy. Oh, Angel is so not going to like this." Cordelia reached into her pants pocket and pulled out a small cell phone, flipping it open and dialing rapidly. Giles, stunned, listened as she spoke.
"Angel, it's Cordelia.......We're at Giles' now......Look, be quiet for a second, would you? I have first page headlines here........Porsial isn't dead.......Angel?.....Angel! Trust me, we know what we're talking about. Giles just told us that you were dead......Uhuh, died when Buffy was up in LA......No, we haven't seen her. Or rather, we saw her, but really didn't want to get too close. Remember you after Darla and Drusilla went shopping? Well, that was a pretty little Sandra Bullock movie to the Sigourney Weaver Aliens marathon that is now Buffy......English? She's a cold bitch, from what we could see of the fight......Yeah, I think you should.......when? Gunn?....Okay, we'll be waiting." She snapped the phone up, hanging up without saying goodbye, then looked at the two English men watching her. "He's coming up. Should be here tomorrow. Today. Soon."
"How'd he take the news about Porsial?" Wesley wanted to know.
"Let's just say that he wasn't delighted. But I think he's more worried about Buffy."
"Angel's alive." Giles looked pale.
"Hello? We know that. Did I not just talk to him? What's got you so repetitive?" Wesley put a hand on Cordelia's arm, silencing her. Giles was envious. He'd never managed to achieve that. Silence with Cordelia.
"For a week after Buffy came back from LA, she holed herself up in her house, and became almost catatonic. Then, when we finally found out why she wasn't talking to us, she broke down. When she came around again, she was as she is now. Cold, withdrawn. She deals with the vampires, slays them, then returns home. She doesn't see any of us, doesn't contribute to the group dynamic. I never thought I'd see the day, but Buffy has become a true Slayer. One dedicated solely to the destruction of the vampires, to the exclusion of all else. It is a....very sad sight. I do not know how to deal with this Buffy. I do not want to deal with this Buffy. I want the old Buffy back." Giles looked solemnly at Wesley and Cordelia. "If you're telling the truth, I think I just may. I believe it was the end of Angel that pushed Buffy over the edge. I think he's the only one that can bring her back. I hope he can."
"Well......" Cordelia started, then stopped, unsure what to say.
"Indeed. I think, for now, we had better get some rest. Angel will be here before nightfall."
"Before nightfall?" Giles watched as Cordelia and Wesley exchanged yet another glance.
"He's human?" Giles was shocked.
"No, not human. Just mortal. He's been bound to live the length of one mortal life."
"No more, no less." Wesley sounded as though he was quoting someone.
"He's mortal....As in?"
"As in, he can get a sun tan. He's kicked the liquid diet, gone for solids. He can shave again."
"Since when?" Giles stood up, unable to sit still.
"What, about three months ago?" Cordelia asked her partner for confirmation. Wesley nodded.
"About that. It was a reward for ...services rendered."
"Shanshu in LA!" Cordelia smiled brightly.
"What?" Giles was frowning. He'd always had trouble understanding Cordelia.
"It means to live and die in....never mind. You had to be there." Wesley stood up and looked at his watch. "Rupert, we'll be back around one this afternoon. Cord, where did Angel say he was going to come?"
"He said he'd make his way here. Do you think we should brief everyone first, or after?"
"No. We'll let Angel do it. He is the one with the mission, after all." Giles had stood silently while they talked, and finally shook his head.
"I don't want to understand. I'll see you both this afternoon then. I need to go and get some more sleep, thank you very much." He escorted them to the door, and locked it behind them. His bed beckoned, calling him back to the dream. He grinned and trotted up the stairs.
The knock on the door distracted Cordelia, and she cursed and leant forward to fix the smudge to her eyebrow. Wesley walked past her and opened the hotel door.
"Angel. Charles." He stood back in surprise. He hadn't been expecting them this soon. "How did you find us."
"Elementary, my dear Wesley!" Charles sauntered inside the hotel room, noticing the one made bed, the other crumpled. He turned and frowned at Cordelia.
"What the hell is this?" He pointed at the beds. "You slept with him?"
"What? No! Gross! Of course I didn't sleep with him. Credit me with some taste, please! This is Wesley, Gunn! He made his bed, even though he's doing someone out of a job."
"Oh." Gunn had the grace to look embarrassed.
"Now come over here and say hello properly." Gunn did as he was ordered, kissing her soundly. Angel turned to face Wesley, a small smile on his face. Cordelia and Gunn had been a bit of a surprise, but they somehow managed to fit together.
"Wes." Angel sat down in one of the two chairs in the room, letting Wesley take the other. They knew from experience that Gunn and Cordelia would be at it for a while. "Can you give me any more details on Porsial?"
"Not a hell of a lot, actually. We were out, watching Buffy for most of the night. We were going to approach her, but...she's changed, Angel. She's cold and hard."
"Like Faith was?"
Wesley shook his head. "No. Faith was angry, she was rebellious. She was never cold. This is someone I've never seen before. Rupert says it happened after she came back from LA. He said that she told them she watched you die - told them you were dusted by some bad guys." Angel frowned at his friend.
"She came to LA two months ago. I was mortal then."
"Uhuh. That's why we think it's Porsial. I believe that he's given her false memories for some reason. I'm not sure why as yet, but I'm investigating on the internet as we speak. I've got a search going on Demons'r'us.com, but it's taking a while."
"Cordelia!" Angel called, then waited a few seconds a repeated the call. They finally heard him and broke apart.
"When you've finished playing hockey with Gunn, can you please call Giles and organise for Buffy to be at his apartment in about an hour?" Cordelia flushed, then nodded and went for the phone.
"What are you going to do, Angel?"
"Once I confront Buffy, she should remember what actually happened while she was in LA, and that should bring Porsial out into the open. I want you three ready to catch him this time. No more stuff ups. We can't afford to loose him again."
"But how? The spell we used last time obviously didn't hold him. What are we supposed to do this time?"
"Kill him. If we hurt him enough, we can force him into corporeal form, and then I can kill him, properly. Not just bind him."
"Giles said we can go over now, if we want. Buffy's there with the others. He called them up early, and told them to come round. He said he won't let them out of the apartment until you turn up." Cordelia came back to sit on the bed next to Gunn.
"Has he told Buffy that I'm alive yet?" Cordelia shook her head.
"No. He was waiting for you."
"Good. Let's go." Angel stood up, the others following him out of the hotel room.
"I'm leaving." Buffy announced, standing up and heading for the door. Giles intercepted her, standing firm.
"You can't Buffy. This is important. You have to stay here. At least for another half hour." Buffy returned his stare flatly, her eyes staring through him.
"You will move out of the way, Giles." Her watcher shook his head. Then sucked in a quick breath when she shoved him out of the way roughly. He banged into the desk beside him, bruising a hip and pushing the table several feet sideways.
"Buffy, you can't leave! It's important!" Buffy stopped and turned her neck, her head turning to look at Giles.
"Can you tell me why?"
"No....Can't you just trust me?" Giles held his breath.
"I'm leaving." She didn't answer his question. Giles suspected that she didn't even hear it. The last two months had seen a mammoth change in his slayer. Gone was the flirty, flighty young woman who smiled and joked and punned her way through life. In her place was this....bitch. Buffy turned back and opened the door. Then she stopped dead in her tracks. Giles looked past her to see Angel, with Cordelia, Wesley and another man behind them. Buffy backed up rapidly, shaking her head in denial. Angel stepped through the threshold, walking slowly towards her. Xander and Willow stood up in shock.
"Angel!" Willow called, stunned. Angel ignored her, keeping his attention on Buffy.
"You're dead." Buffy whispered "You're dead!" Angel stepped forward, hand outstretched. Buffy retreated further into the room, afraid to touch this ghost. Angel stepped forward again, and Buffy retreated. He dropped his hand, annoyed.
"Dammit, Buffy! I'm not playing this game all day! We have work to do." He growled low in his throat. He wasn't angry at her, but at Porsial. But Buffy didn't know that. He finally crept forward enough to grab her arm, gently. She stared down at the evidence that he was real, and here, then looked up at him, stunned.
"Angel." She whispered in that way of hers that made his name special, then her eyes rolled back and she feinted. Angel was so surprised, he almost let her fall to the floor. He picked her up and walked over to the couch, settling down with her curled up, her head in his lap. He was brushing her hair back from her forehead, waiting for her to come round when he noticed a stunned silence in the room. He looked up to see her friends staring at him, equally shocked.
"Uh.....hi, guys." He almost waved at them, but decided that would look too bizarre.
"Hi." Oz said, the first to recover. "Looking good, Angel."
"For being dead and all that, any way." Xander continued.
"Not that I'm not glad you're alive, but why aren't you dead?" Angel grinned at Willow.
"He was never dead." Cordelia told Willow. "Except for that two hundred odd years where he was a vampire, which means that he was dead then. But he's not dead now. Not even vampire dead."
"Thank you, Cordelia."
"Not a problem, Angel!" Cordelia smiled brightly at her boss.
"What Buffy saw when she came to LA, and what she remembers are two different things." He held up a hand to prevent any more questions. "We'll wait until Buffy comes round. That way I save on telling the story twice." Buffy chose to open her eyes at that moment, a confused look crossing her face. She stared at his face blankly for a moment, then shot up and moved rapidly to the other side of the couch, stunned.
"Not quite. And not any more, either." Angel smiled slightly. One thing at a time. First, convince Buffy he wasn't dead. Then.....tell Buffy he wasn't dead any more. Again.
"But...I saw you turned to dust. I was in LA, and the bad guys dusted you. I saw it!" Angel was shaking his head.
"Buffy, there weren't any bad guys. There was no fight to the death."
"Then why was I in LA?? Huh?" She stood up, hugging herself in stress.
"Buffy, I'm not dead. You've been given false memories by a Porsial demon."
"A Porsial demon?" Buffy looked at Giles, hoping he could tell her something about them.
"It's a demon from another dimension. It thrives of terror and deep sadness. It feeds of it. It has the power to alter the reality of any person it comes into contact with. It was first discovered around 300 years ago."
"Three hundred and twenty two years, actually." Wesley offered, then shrugged. "We've had a bit of time to investigate this demon. We've been trying to kill him for the past six months. It's really starting to annoy me."
"Gee, Wesley, it's starting to annoy you? I'm so very sorry about that." Buffy lashed out. "I've just found out that the last two months of my life have been a lie. That I've been....grieving for someone who has been alive and well, living it up in LA. And no one thought to ring me up and tell me that I had false memories??"
"How were we supposed to know, Miss Leaves-without-telling-us-because-you-didn't-like-the-news?" Cordelia sat forward, her brow furrowing. "You take off within hours of arriving at the Hotel, and as far as we can figure, you've just run home to Sunnydale, your tale between your legs, whimpering the whole way. Hell, I figured you just turned up to twist the knife just a little further in his-."
"Cordelia, that's enough." Angel spoke softly. Cordelia looked at her boss, then sat back, muttering to herself.
"Buffy, would you sit down and calm down?" Buffy reluctant did as Angel asked her, sitting on the coffee table. "We had no idea you had false memories. If we knew, we would have been here within days. As far as we knew, the Porsial demon was dead. We thought we'd killed it."
"Well, obviously you thought wrong!"
"Obviously. But understand, we had no idea that you were....here in Sunnydale, believing me dead. That would be inhumane. We thought you'd just come home in a ....."
"Sulk is the word I'd use, Angel." Cordelia supplied.
"Sulk? Why would I be sulking?" Angel grabbed Buffy's arm, stopping her from rising from the coffee table.
"Buffy! Just hear me out. I'll tell you what really happened while you visited me in LA. I rang you on the Wednesday and asked you to come to LA, because I needed to talk to you. You were a little annoyed, but agreed to visit for the weekend. You turned up on the Friday evening, and we talked. Then you-."
"About what?" Buffy cut in.
"What did we talk about. I can't remember, so what was so important you dragged me away from the hellmouth?"
"Mmm..." Angel hesitated. Buffy hadn't taken this news well the first time. But, he supposed, he was braced for her reaction this time, and could head it off at the pass, so to speak. "About four years ago, I stole a scroll the held the prophecies of..."
"Aberjion." Wesley supplied.
"Prophecies of Aberjion. They told of a vampire with a soul, and his role in the battles. Kind of like you're Slayer prophecies. Anyway, it went on to tell of several battles, plagues and apocalypses that I would help to prevent. It finally said that I was to Shanshu. Originally Wesley translated that as I was going to die after I'd finished."
"That's a pretty pathetic carrot." Xander offered. "I mean, if you were a donkey and such, and you were walking to Bethlehem, you wouldn't want to find out that Mary was staying at the abattoirs, would you?"
"No. And much as I knew that I couldn't fight forever, that there would ultimately be a better demon out there, I can't say I was particularly happy about the news. But then Wes had another look at the translation and figured out what it meant was that I would live until I died...I would become mortal."
"Cool." Oz, in his usual way, summed up the sentiment held by most in the room.
"This is was you brought me to LA for? To tell me that you're going to become mortal at some point in the distant future? Well, gee, thanks a lot!"
"Buffy, we knew about this years ago. I'd decided not to tell anyone, not get their hopes up. Because I had no idea when this would occur. It could have happened in ten years, or a hundred. We just didn't know."
"Could have happened?" Willow picked up on the past tense.
"Three months ago I got a visit from a PTB messenger. I'd just finished dealing with the latest world threat from demon kind. I was .....a little beat up."
"A little? Man, you were smashed to smitherines! You're insides were outside, and that's not a good look."
"Thank you for that visual." Buffy frowned. "Who are you, any way?"
"Name's Gunn. I'm an associate of Angels." Gunn grinned, flashing white teeth.
"To cut a long story short, Angel became mortal three months ago." Cordelia burst out. There was a stunned silence within the room as people tried to take this information in. Angel was looking solemnly at Buffy. She was doing a credible imitation of a stunned fish, mouth opening and shutting silently.
"When I told you in LA, before, you...wigged out. Completely lost it. Screamed some pretty darned abusive stuff and stormed off in a huff. We let you go. I thought it was best to give you some time to adjust to my new...status. Then when we didn't hear from you in weeks, I thought I'd better check up on you. I sent Cordelia and Wesley down two days ago, to talk to you. I figured you really didn't want to talk to me, or you would have phoned. They rang me yesterday and told me that you all thought I was dead. I picked up Gunn and we drove down here, overnight."
"You're human." Buffy said flatly. Angel shook his head.
"No, Buffy. I'm not human. I can never be human again. But I am alive, and I will age and I will eventually die. But I'm not human. Don't make that mistake.... Now, the fact that the Porsial demon was able to change your reality means that we didn't kill him, didn't even hurt him, as far as I can work it out. And that mean's that we need to do something about it. If it can influence the Slayer, god knows what else it's capable of. Buffy, now that we've established that I'm not dead, you should start to remember what happened. It could happen slowly, or in one great rush. I don't know. But right now, I'm more worried about Porsial. He's bound to be mightly pissed off at this."
"Because we've exposed him?" Willow queried.
"In a big, I'm a pervert that needs gratification kind of way." Cordelia confirmed.
"So what's he going to do?" Buffy looked from her watcher to the man before her.
"Well, his ability to alter our reality has folded, because we are now aware of his existence. It is only those that are....oblivious to him that he can affect. I'm hoping that your remembering, along with a little charm I discovered a couple of weeks ago, Porsial will be forced to reveal himself, and that we can kill him."
"Why didn't you do this before?" Buffy sounded more curious than anything else.
"Because I thought we could contain him inside a Siraditon Box. They were built thousands of years ago by Summerian Priests who had discovered their presence in the world."
"Little did we know that the boxes had lost their holding power over the years. I'm amazed the flying, burning metal didn't kill one of us. I mean, the chances of none of us being decapitated are so remote. And hell, that'd even kill Angel!"
"Shutting up now."
"So you got this Sir-ditto box."
"Siraditon Box." Giles, Wesley and Angel chorused.
"Whatever. You got this box, put Porsial inside, then what?"
"Well, when the box exploded, I thought Porsial had been killed with the destruction of the box."
"Turns out he was just waiting for a visit from an unknowing one. The all unknowing one. The one who would lead the way in not knowing about any-." The dark look from Angel had Cordelia miming zipping up her lips and throwing away a key.
"He waited for someone to come into my apartment, that had no knowledge of him. When that happened, he could influence her, and escape. I think, from my research and what we know of Porsial, that he kind of hitched a ride with you for a while, then jumped ship and continued on his merry way."
"So he possessed me?"
"No. Just, inhabited a part of your mind and altered your memory to suit."
"So, to ask a question on everybody's mind. Where is he?" Xander looked around, as though he could spot the demon.
"That's what the charm's for. But I don't want to use it until Buffy remembers what happened." They all turned to look at her, as if, by observation alone, they could make her remember. She squirmed, uncomfortable.
"So, Gunn. What kind of name is that?" Xander turned his attention away from the Slayer.
"It's my name."
"His name's Charles Gunn. But he prefers to be addressed by his surname."
"Hey, what's wrong with that, English?"
"It's....far to contrived. That would be like calling Cordelia Chase. Or myself Windam or Price. Or Angel...."
"Lus?" Cordelia offered. They all grinned. Angel just ignored them.
"I don't get it." Xander frowned.
"Angelus. Angel, last name Lus." Willow explained to her friend patiently. "It was a joke. Never mind."
"I called you an overbearing, egotistical sadist." Buffy announced quietly. Angel looked at her, then nodded. "I remember some other things. Peanut butter. Cookie Dough Ice-cream. And a really big red ruby. Salt." She was frowning. This was hurting. Her temples were pounding. "I remember salt. And I seem to recall telling you that you had no right to keep information from me. Something about history." She rubbed her head. "This hurts." She closed her eyes, held still for a moment, then gasped in pain. Angel reached forward and put a hand on her knee. She grabbed hold of it and held on for a long time. He felt the bones grate together under the pressure. She finally opened her eyes and looked at him.
"I can remember now." Angel started long and hard at her, then held out the charm in his hand. It was a long piece of green crystal. It looked like perfectly cut green glass. Inside it, as she looked closer, she could see a ribbon of white, twisted along the center of the crystal.
"Hold it. And repeat after me." Buffy grabbed the crystal without hesitation, cupping it in her palm.
"Asperitus. Moriatis. Compolatium. A cherid cuom di latear." She repeated the words slowly after him.
"That sounds like latin." Willow observed softly.
"Almost. It's Porsial's native tongue. Latin was derived from it." Wesley informed the witch, who smiled in gratitude. It was always nice to get some new knowledge.
"A cherid cuom di latear!" Angel repeated, harshly. Buffy followed his example, and ended up yelling the last word. There was a flash of light, and a sudden wind ripped through the room. When their eyes had adjusted, before them stood a curiously small demon. It stood no taller than a dwarf, and resembled closely with both a monkey and an elephant. It's long trunk-like nose added to the elephant resemblance. As did the oversized feet and lack of toes. Beneath the trunk like nose, a mouth that looked like a normal, human mouth opened up to emit a high pitched whine. Angel jumped up and pulled a small asp from his pocket, flicking it open to extend into a police-like baton. It glowed blue in the sun. He started chasing the Porsial demon around Giles' apartment, striking it with the black baton. Each time it struck, the demon seemed to fade away for a mere moment, then come back. The others stood back, trying not to laugh. In corporeal form, this demon was more laughable than anything else.
"Any one remember the fear demon at that Halloween party a few years ago?" Buffy asked, standing back. Xander, Oz and Willow all grinned. Giles frowned at them.
"Who's a cute little fear demon?" Willow said in a Xander-like voice.
"Don't tease the fear demon. It's rude!" Xander imitated Giles. Then they all grinned. Angel was still chasing the demon round and round the couch. He looked up at Buffy, who was trying her hardest not to laugh.
"I could use some help here, Buffy." Angel complained. Buffy nodded finally and caught demon on the next rotation. Angel finally had time to keep the baton held to the demon, who disappeared with a tiny cry and a puff of smoke. Angel looked up at the grinning people around him, and felt a smile tugging at his own lips. He gave in and started laughing.
"I had no idea. If I'd known I would have forced him into corporeal form before." He sat down where he was, still laughing. Buffy joined him.
"Why can't all our demons be like that? It would be so much less...stressful."
"I have no idea. But thanks for the help."
"Not a problem. But I won't forget it." Buffy grinned, then sobered suddenly. As did Angel. The others noticed their change of mood and stopped smiling.
"How much do you remember?" Angel held his breath.
"Everything. The Mohra demon. You being made mortal. The Oracles. All of it."
"The Oracles? But, they were killed years ago. When did you meet the Oracles?" Cordelia, like the rest of them, was confused.
"Five years ago. When I came to LA the first time." She and Angel had not lost eye-contact. They were staring at each other, both afraid, both being very careful.
"But you were only there for a couple of minutes."
"The second time." Buffy replied.
"The first time, she was there for a whole day and night."
"Twenty four hours."
"Can anyone figure out what they're talking about?" Willow asked the others en masse.
"No idea." Gunn replied. "But I'd say from Boss-man's face, it's important."
"True. I think they need some space." Giles suggested, then herded the rest of them out of his apartment. Angel and Buffy hadn't heard them leave.
"I broke my promise." She whispered.
"I forgot. I promised never to forget and I did." Angel shook his head.
"You didn't forget. The day was swallowed. It never happened." He reached out and held her hand gently.
"So why can I remember it? Why can I ....remember every hour, every second of that day?" Her voice broke, and she bowed her head, fighting tears.
"I don't know." He inched a few spaces closer, and pulled her to him, her head resting against his chest. "It could just be a...side-effect of the Porsial demon."
"What like, weight gain?" She asked him, smiling.
"Something like that."
"Does what you said still hold true?"
"What I said?" Angel brushed a strand of hair off her face, cupping her cheek.
"You said that you couldn't live in a world where I was dead."
"Of course it still holds true. Buffy,....I left Sunnydale because I wanted to give you a life you deserved and couldn't. I didn't want to take that away from you. I could live apart from you, knowing you were alive. But to have you dead? That would be more hurtful than any torture imaginable." Buffy pulled back and looked at him solemnly. She pulled up the sleeve of her jumper, showing her wrists for the first time. Pink, fresh scar tissue ran across both wrists, just below the hand. Angel stared at the scars in horror.
"It goes both ways. Turns out this wasn't the best way to try to....kill myself. I healed before I could drain. I was.....most annoyed when I woke up hours later, still lying in my blood in the middle of the bathroom. My wrists had already started to heal." Angel grabbed her wrists in his hands, bringing them up to his face. His expression was a mixture of horror, shock and despair. He gently kissed each scar, trying to erase them, and the evidence of her despair.
"Good Christ, Buffy. What were you thinking?"
"That you were dead." She said simply. "They don't know about this. I never told them. I shut them out. I couldn't stand their sympathy. Their pity. I didn't want to feel anything. They made me. It was easier to just shut them out and do my job. I figured, if I can't cut my wrists, I'd let something else do me. Like you said, somewhere there's a demon stronger, quicker than me. I was just waiting to find it." He almost didn't want to hear.
"Can I bring Porsial back?" Angel pleaded with the air in the room.
"Why would you want to do that?" Buffy asked him, puzzled. He looked at her, rage filling his eyes.
"Because he died far too quickly. Far too easily. He deserved the worst of deaths for what he put you through. And trust me, I can imagine some pretty damned bad deaths." Buffy smiled, albeit sourly.
"I'm sure you can. But he's gone now. And we have things we need to discuss."
"We've already discussed them. Two months ago, when you were in LA." Angel pulled back and sat away from her. He was shocked when she followed him, curling up beside him.
"I remember what I said. But I said those things in anger, without thought. I would really like to take those back, and start the conversation again. I don't want to live without you anymore. I tried that. I've....managed it. But I didn't like it. And I was never fully happy with the arrangement. I much preferred having you to confide in. To lean on. To help me when we were in a tight spot. My guys are good, but they're not superman. You're superman."
"Not quite, Buffy." Angel said, his heart lifting from the depths of his chest. "Superman was an alien. And he could fly. And much as I wish I had it, I don't have x-ray vision." She snorted. He swatted her on the back. "Not like that! Well....not normally. But what am I supposed to do with my own Scoobie gang? And do I just leave LA, and all the people to the demons there?" They were silent for several minutes, the barriers holding them apart still intact. He was thinking about his hotel. His home now. The people he had befriended in LA. Gunn, Wes, Cordelia. The dangers he knew where there for the unsuspecting. She was thinking of the same thing. Suddenly there was a shift in the apartment, and the lights went out, making everything blacker than a starless night. Which was bizarre, considering it was the middle of the day. When the lights came back on, Angel stood up, gaping. It was the hotel. The foyer looked empty, and it was closed up. As he'd left it late last night. Or rather, early this morning. Buffy stood up after a second, a stunned look on her face.
"Where the hell are we?"
"Home. My home. This is the hotel. How did we get here?" Angel went over and touched the reception desk, expecting his hand to go straight through it. It connected soundly. Then they both heard the voice, booming down from above them.
"This is your reward, Slayer. Our thanks and gratitude. Keep up the good work." Angel looked up and saw a tiny sprite sitting on the balcony. It was her voice that they'd heard. She grinned at them both, then vanished. Angel stared at Buffy, who stared back, equally bemuzed. Then he thought of something.
"I've just thought of something." He told her. "What's my reward? For services rendered to the PTB?"
"Mortality. Like you've always wanted."
"Exactly. It's been my dream since...I can't remember when. I've wanted to live out a normal life. The PTB granted me that. As much as they were permitted, any way."
"And? Where's this going, Angel?" Buffy put her hands on her hips. Angel crossed to her, and held her elbows, tight.
"What's your dream? What has kept you going for the last ten years?"
"A chance to be a normal person, too." Angel shook his head.
"No. That's not it. Be honest, Buffy. What do you want more than anything else in this world?"
"To........ be loved for me..... And to be able to....... You. I wanted to be with you. You've known who and what I was from the beginning. And I'm never afraid of pulling my punches, figuratively or physically when I'm with you. You've always taken me just as I am, but at the same time you challenge me. I've always wanted a chance with you. To see if we could have a normal life.....oh." She finished softly. Angel smiled triumphantly.
"Exactly. The PTB have given us both our hearts' desire. My mortality. And a life together. I think we got here because we both wished to be here. We were both thinking of LA so hard that we moved here. I think that's your gift. To move from place to place instantly. It would allow us to live here, and you to still be able to fight and defend the hellmouth from all comers." They both smiled, their faces full of joy. She walked slowly over to him and he took her hands in his, smiling even brighter.
"That.....would be nice." She told him. He grinned.
"So, where do you think they went?" Willow looked under the couch, as if they could be hiding there.
"Gee, Will. If we knew that, don't you think we'd tell you?"
"Shut up, Xander! She has a point. We stood outside for an hour, none of us moved. And we didn't hear anything. There was no movement, and they certainly didn't walk out of that door!" Cordelia shot her arm out, pointing towards the front door of the apartment.
"Perhaps we should wait for them to return?"
"And how long will that be, English?" Gunn asked his friend, leaning back against the kitchen counter.
"I don't know. It would help if we knew what they were doing."
"Perhaps.....we don't want to know." Giles was polishing his glasses, showing his concern and stress for his missing slayer in his quiet, repressed way.
"I agree with Wesley." Oz announced, and sat on the couch, pulling Willow down to sit on his lap. She squealed half heartedly, then grinned and snuggled up to him. Cordelia opened her mouth to say something, but was stopped by on of those mind-numbing, bone crunching visions that she had from time to time. Gunn darted forward to catch her as her legs gave way, easing her on to the ground. Wesley took up position on the other side. The others watched, fascinated and horrified at the same time. Within seconds, Cordelia was back, grimacing in pain.
"Here." Wesley offered her some asprin, which he kept close at hand. She nodded her thanks and swallowed them dry.
"What the hell was that?" Xander had headed to the far side of the room.
"A vision from the PTB. Cordelia has the sight."
"Since when?" Willow was delighted. Gunn looked at her, frowning.
"About six years now. And old friend gave it to her."
"What did you see?" Wesley got out his notepad, ready to write down details.
"No, I saw Angel. And Buffy. I don't think this was a normal, demon needs to be killed kind of vision. They were ....standing in the middle of the hotel foyer, it looked like. Playing tonsil hockey."
"In LA?" Gunn and Wesley chorused.
"It looked like it. And when have the PTB ever steered us wrong with these things. Ow! God, I hate these visions!" She rubbed her temple, trying to ease the pain.
"How did they get to LA?" Giles inquired.
"I have no idea. But they looked happy. Oh, there's more!" She shot backwards, in the midst of yet another vision. They all waited, breath suspended, for her to come out. She did so, almost sobbing in pain.
"God Damn Doyle!" She growled. Then she looked at the rest of them. "The PTB just spoke to me, I think. Said something about a reward for the Slayer. And some word... it sounded like television....telek...."
"Telekinesis?" Giles, Willow and Wesley asked at the same time.
"That was it. The Slayer received that TK as her reward. Whatever that is."
"IT gives her the ability to move from one place to another instantaneously." Giles explained.
"Which is how they got to LA!" Wesley added, grinning. Willow yelped in delight, hugging Oz tight.
"What's given you such a happy?" He looked down at his girlfriend.
"Think about it. Why did Angel leave years ago? Because he couldn't give Buffy the life she deserved, right? That was what he said. And what kept them apart? Their devotion to helping the hopeless, as he so aptly put it. Buffy was stuck protecting the hellmouth, and Angel was in LA. So now, we have a mortal Angel, who no longer has a curse to worry about."
"Nooky all round." Gunn supplied.
"Exactly. The only other problem would be their geographical one. She, here, him there. This telekinesis has just null and voided that."
"Now that's pretty darned cool. Even if it is dead-boy." Xander admitted.
"I'm not dead any more, Xander." Angel told him, appearing in the room, Buffy holding on to him.
"This is so much fun!" Buffy enthused, grinning. "Guess what, guys! I have..."
"The ability to move at will? Telekinesis?" Willow supplied, grinning as well.
"Darn! You already knew! That's no fair. But yes, I do. I'm moving to LA!"
"And when are you two love-birds going to get married?" Cordelia wanted to know.
"We're not." Angel held Buffy tighter.
"We don't need to. We love each other, and don't need the commitment of an official marriage. Besides, we've already been blessed by the PTB, what more do we need. We're soul mates, remember?"
"Can I throw up now?" Xander asked, rolling his eyes.
"Shut up, Xander!" The entire group chorused, drowning his protests out.