When Hell Breaks Loose by Tango


DISCLAIMER: Don't own them. Of course.
SPOILERS: Hell breaks loose in the summer after S4
FEEDBACK: Please...must have it...can't go on with out it...plllleeeeaaasseee. Feed me!

RATING: NC-17. ***Dark & smutty***

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Ani DiFranco

Humor me on this one guys...

Angel's soul is intact in this one - let's take that for granted. This happens just after Season 4 ends. Faith is in jail but Buffy never went to LA and Angel never came back to Sunnydale for "The Yoko Factor." So Riley never met Angel and all Angel knows of him is what Faith told him (and the time he spotted him with Buffy at the coffee shop). Kay? (It all works in my head. *g*)

Allllrighty, then...

tell me what are you here for
i want my old friends, i want my old face, i want my old mind
fuck this time and place

A Slayer is only caged as long as she allows it and Faith was tired of being a prisoner. The whole thing was more than she could take - rehabilitation, horrible food, fighting to keep status without killing people. She was tired of it and the gray walls were making her insane. She wasn't healing, she was itching for fresh blood.

She had been thinking about leaving for weeks. Not plotting an escape but thinking about being free. She tried to talk herself out of it. She tried to remember Angel's soothing words, but all she saw was darkness and crimson blood on her hands, encrusted like jewels of freedom. Fuck Angel and his philosophies for redemption. Fuck Buffy and the superfriends. She wanted to leave this dank hole and then she would take out every asshole who hurt her and every person who stumbled in her way. She was ready to start again in the worst way.

When the guard made his final rounds just before lights out, she watched him with the slanted eyes of a predator, crouched in the corner of her moldy cell. Her roommate, sat up in bed and watched her curiously. The nineteen year old cellmate had always considered herself a tough girl from the streets until she had been placed in a cell with Faith. She wasn't tough anymore. She was jittery and afraid. She slept lightly, terrified that one morning the lunatic she lived with would make sure she never woke up. So when she saw the dark hair girl's small form hunkering in the corner, she watched but said nothing.

The guard cut out the lights, leaving only the dim upper bulbs of the large room shedding a low yellow light over the hundreds of rows of barred rooms. He strolled by, heading for his newspaper and coffee. As his keys banged against his upper thigh, signaling his approach, he thought about what to get his daughter for her fifth birthday. He was planning the perfect gift when his temple was pulled roughly to the side. The last thing he saw was an iron bar in his peripheral vision as he faded to blackness.

Faith pulled his keys from his belt, ignoring the loud rip of the fabric of his pants and quietly let herself out. Turning her head, she looked at her roommate, "If you follow me and get me caught, I'll kill you. Got it?"

Her roommate nodded her assent and sat in her bed silently watching her roommate creep away. She had never planned to follow Faith. She actually breathed a sigh of relief as she left and soaked in the first moment of peace of mind she had experienced a very long time.


i'm imagining your frame, i'm imagining your smell
i'm imagining your laugh again and the way you say my name

Spike opened his eyes and looked down at the blonde head bobbing over his lap. He knew Harmony would be back sooner or later. If there was one thing he was sure of in relationships (or whatever this was), it was that sex with him was addicting. He knew how to make a woman scream in pleasure - after that, they always came back for more.

Right now, as Harm's cool mouth sucked him deeply in her throat and the fragrant scent of her arousal wafted to his nostrils. She was squirming on her knees as she sucked him and he watched with a sly grin as she reached between her own legs to massage her clit.

He leaned his head back against the hard wall behind him and imagined she was The Slayer, that the blonde hair belonged to Buffy instead of Harmony. He knew if could just get between The Slayer's dimpled knees once, she would keep coming back for more, just like Harmony and Drusilla.

He threaded his fingers through her silky waves as he reached the peak and bit the inner lining of his jaw to keep from screaming "Buffy" as he came.


oh, how i miss substituting the conclusion to confrontation with a kiss
and oh, how i miss walking up to the edge and jumping in
like i could feel the future on your skin

Everyone had finally gone home, Cordelia had gone to sleep and Angel was left alone on the couch, staring up at her ceiling in the dark, idly wondering where Phantom Dennis was in the small apartment. Was he watching him stare at the ceiling? Was he in Cordy's room watching her sleep?

He might have continued that train of thought for some time while he waited for sleep to take him or he might have thought about how he longed to have a place of his own instead of the suffocation that was living with Cordelia Chase since the office blew up, but his brain screeched to a halt when he felt a tiny hand on his upper thigh. Buffy's scent, feel and smell pressed at the walls and suddenly the apartment seemed much, much smaller.

Angel was alarmed immediately because he never felt her presence until he saw her, he didn't hear her come in and she was completely nude. Those thoughts were chased away as she slid her hand up his thigh and caressed his growing arousal. She silently unbuckled his belt and began unzipping his pants.

"Buffy," he whispered urgently, trying desperately to understand what was happening - that is, besides seduction.

"Shhh," she said, placing a single finger over his lips, "I need you inside me. Don't wanna wait anymore."

She returned her attentions to freeing his already erect cock from the material that bound him. She wasted no time, perching over him. Her thighs were already trembling with lust as she lowered herself over him, guiding him into her dripping heat. He groaned as her heat took over his cold flesh, sending waves of pleasure through him with her first thrust. She ripped open his shirt and touched his cool skin. Simultaneously, he reached up and cupped her breasts as she bent to kiss him.

"Mmmm," she hummed into his mouth, excitedly exploring his cool mouth. Sweet, passionate ice cream kisses with her vampire lover were better than anything else she could describe, except when those kisses were coupled with his cock buried inside her. His hand moved immediately to her swollen clit and he smiled into her mouth as her throaty moan echoed inside of him. She came quickly at his hands, which caused her muscles to clench and squeeze his thrusts in erratic pleasure.

Returning from her orgasm, she placed her hands on his muscular chest and stared at him with lust covered eyes, as she moved over him in smooth, hard deliberate strokes. She moved harder as she felt him arching under her, slamming harder, teetering on the edge of oblivion.

"Yes," she hissed as he cracked up against her with vampiric force. His large shaking hands pulled her down against his chest and he shifted her so her clit was bumped with every thrust.

"Come with me, baby," he whispered in a pleasurable vibrato, clinging desperately to the edge, waiting for his lover to join him. She relented to his plea, digging into his shoulders with her strong fingers as she found her release and he immediately joined her.

Moments later she sat up, holding him inside her and supporting herself on his chest once more. She locked his gaze and whispered, "Angel, I'm disappearing."

"Disappearing?" he asked, confusion covering his face.

"Yes," she said and even as she spoke, her touch became lighter, her body falling away from him. He could almost see the wall behind her through her skin.

"Without you, I'm dying."

"Inside?" he asked hopefully. She had to mean she was dying on the inside.

"No," she whispered as the air shuddered with her exit from his space in time, "I'm dying... disappearing...without you."

we met in a dream

Angel awoke with a start and found that he had fallen or flung himself from the couch so hard that he split his lip on the coffee table. Angel never had a prophetic dream before. That was Buffy's arena, but something inside him understood that he had her dream last night. Somehow it had been given to him and he believed it with the kind of icy fear that only love can provide. He jumped up and ran for the door, nearly knocking over Cordelia in the process.

"Watch out!" she yelled in protest, holding her box of donuts to her chest, as if they could protect her.

"Um, sorry," Angel said, slipping around her to make his way towards the door.

"Where are you going?" She asked and then didn't wait for his answer as she announced, "Plan on bursting into flame this afternoon?"

He stopped at the line of glaring sunlight that he almost stepped into peaking across the room from her window and shook his head in irritation. The dream had been much shorter than all night and yet here was the day, mocking him, trapping him until night.

"And what the hell happened to your shirt?" she asked, nodding at his chest. He looked down and his shirt was ripped apart and his skin was torn on his shoulders. He might have thought for a second that he did it to himself in his sleep, except the raised welts on his shoulders could only have come from the fingernails of one very far away Slayer.


i expected he would be there in the morning, i awoke to the alarm
he was still in arm's reach but his body was just a disguise
his mind had wandered off long ago
you see in his eyes

Buffy woke in the morning and was disappointed to find herself in Riley's bed. His little "electronic parrot" had not begun chirping yet and he was sound asleep with his large arm thrown over his eyes to block the sun streaming in through the blinds. She still couldn't get used to a lot of things with him - sunshine for one and waking up with him in the morning. Those were the few things that she enjoyed about their relationship. She liked the mornings and the walks in the sun. She liked his smile, attentiveness and positive nature. She adored his warm blue eyes and there were certainly no complaints over his sexy body.

But he knew she didn't love him. She was sure that he was aware that she hadn't even started the path to falling in love. But he was starting to get that look in his eyes, the unrequited look of someone hopelessly in love, someone who desperately needed the other person to feel the same. But she couldn't. He didn't fit her. He was like a new brand of jeans - they weren't too big or too small, they just didn't fit quite right. Angel, on the other hand, hugged her curves and accentuated just the perfect places. Angel seemed tailored to fit her while Riley was from off the rack.

She slipped out of bed and slipped on her favorite jeans, which incidentally, fit very well. She looked down at him as she dressed and smiled at the dreamy sweetness on his face. She really did like him a lot. She just couldn't figure out how to love him. This morning especially, she woke with more of an ache for Angel than she had for awhile.

She felt different and tried to define the difference, but only came up confused. She had sex with Riley the night before and the sex was the usual sweet, lovemaking and then she woke up feeling as if she had been fucked...and hard. She was sore, her muscles ached. She felt...well, she felt as if she had been with Angel, but not like she had been with him before. This wasn't the gentle losing of her virginity that she remembered. It was the sex that they hadn't had yet, but somehow she knew what it would feel like. It felt like - actually, it felt just like she was feeling now.

It was strange, too, she thought as she kissed Riley's forehead and headed off to see Giles, that she couldn't remember any of her dreams. She always remembered most of her dreams but this morning there seemed to be a big hole in her night, as if someone had slipped in and snipped her weavings away.

She dismissed her dreams as she walked out in the sunshine. If forgetting her dreams was the worst thing that happened today, it would be a record day for The Slayer.


my imagination is rattling in its cage

Angel was wearing a path in Cordelia's hardwood floors as he waited for the sun to set. Getting to Sunnydale was the only thing on his mind- getting to Sunnydale and getting to Buffy. He kept playing the dream over and over in his mind, which was not helping the pacing, since he had to fight his constant arousal all day long. He tried to block out the beginning and focus on her words, but his brain couldn't get past how real she felt and he knew he wasn't imagining her smell on his skin or her scratch marks on his shoulders.

He lived in a supernatural world and was well aware that anything was possible, but this was down right strange. Cordy yelled at him every ten minutes to sit down or go away and finally left to go shopping just to get the hell away from the jumpy vampire. He continued his path around her apartment, wishing he had more room to walk, while he tried to untangle his erotic dream.

When she came back hours later with bags of miscellaneous purchases, she was disappointed to see him still there and still pacing. The sun was so close to setting that the tiny hairs at the nape of Angel neck stood on end. He knew the second the dangerous rays were gone, he would be gone too. He was poised at the doorknob while he sensed naturally the coming of night, when Cordy screamed in pain.

He turned and followed the same path he had followed all day to catch his friend before she hit the floor. Her hands were pressing into her forehead as she convulsed in his arms.

Please be about Buffy, he wished silently and then, No, please don't be about Buffy. If it's not about Buffy, then maybe she's not in danger.


there were some things that i did not tell him
there were certain things he did not need to know
and there were some days when i did not love him
he didn't understand me and i don't know why i didn't go

Buffy closed her eyes as Riley gathered her close to his side following their most recent lovemaking session. How could something so unwrong, seem so very wrong? She waited for his breathing to even out into deep sleep and paused longer to make sure she didn't wake him before slipping away and getting dressed.

She breathed deeply when she reached the fresh air, as if she had been suffocating inside his embrace. She felt guilty for thinking about Angel, but not nearly as guilty as she did about not telling Riley about him when she had the chance. When Oz came back, it was the perfect opportunity to explain about her relationship with Angel and she totally flaked.

She wanted to tell him. She really did, but it was too hard. She was terrified that when she talked about Angel, her voice would crack and all the emotion she'd been trying to hide would be obvious in her eyes. Riley already figured out she wasn't in love with him and seemed to be able to handle that, but he wouldn't be able to deal if he found out she was in love with someone else...who just happened to be a vampire.

Buffy's thought process was interrupted when she heard a distinctive growl behind her. She spun just in time to see a knife swipe at her. Slayer reflexes saved her from being brutally injured but not in time to stop it from coming in contact with her skin. She gritted her teeth and parried the next blow from a different knife in a different set of demonic hands.

There were five of the large spiny creatures, armed with strange, long serrated knives. They swiped at her viciously and Buffy quickly realized that they were very difficult to disarm. Finally, she managed to dislodge one knife from one slimy grip and she dove after it, tumbling on the soft grass, snatching it up and landing back on her feet.

She turned to the demon closest to her and her blade immediately came in contact with its weapon, forcing her arm to jelly with its fierce blows before she slit its throat. The other four did not wait patiently to the side but ambushed, slicing her skin all over with their sharp metal blades. Her eyes began to swim as her skin opened for them and lay its gory sacrifice for them to see.

Their growls grew into happy victorious songs as she dispatched the second but could barely keep up with the last three. She whimpered with each cut and every time she moved, some place on her body stung with the effort. The third met its end nearly ten long minutes later and she was certain that her body would not hold up for much longer. Her bones felt like they were protruding through her numerous wounds and her muscles were sliced in a dozen different places. Utter weakness and pain throbbed through her body and she began to feel almost...helpless.

She squared off with the remaining two, who by the way, were the largest and the fastest. They knew no mercy as they lunged and attacked. They spoke to each other with what sounded like a succession of slurping vowel sounds. She was certain they felt they were winning and she was just as certain that they were right. Her blood stained the earth as she fought, feeling her skin peel away from its home at each small movement.

A blade found its way into her thigh, sinking deeply into her tissue and she screamed in pain, but was unable to rest or free it from her flesh as she blocked the next shattering blow. The demons were becoming blurred shadows as she began to lose her adrenaline rush. Slayer strength or no, her threshold of pain was weakening and her feet began to slip with every other step. A vicious blow to her shoulder sent her tumbling in the grass, causing the blade in her thigh to sink in deeper. She rolled over and weakly looked up at the sky. Colors were waving at her from the impending dawn and the two grinning creatures hunkered into her point of view. Knives raised, they swung.


the wind is ruthless, the trees shake angry fingers at the sky

Angel didn't know whether he was relieved that Cordy's vision was not about Buffy or angry that he had to deal with the imminent danger before he could get to his love. He didn't wait for Wesley and Gunn, but ran out into the night to dispatch the danger that was keeping him from The Hellmouth.

Perhaps The Powers That Be were warning him not to go to Sunnydale, but he didn't have time to think about it as he steered his car toward the simple residential home on the north side of downtown LA. He nearly spun in the road as he slammed on the breaks to avoid passing the small house by. He snatched up his broad sword and leapt from the car, landing on his feet on the concrete walkway.

He kicked open the front door and walked in, knowing immediately that the inhabitants of the house were all dead - or actually undead. A tiny young girl with large brown eyes and long brown hair falling in silky strands over her shoulders walked slowly into the room and cast her innocence across the room at Angel. He walked over to her, swung his sword and destroyed her without a word, feeling his heart break as she fell in scattering swirls of dust as his feet. She was not unlike Holtz's daughter so long ago. Anger swelled in him as he looked around the house, searching for the others.

They were easy find, gathered in the basement, apparently planning something of great magnitude - at least to them. He charged in, swinging and decapitating his brethren, ignoring their attacks on him. He barely noticed Wesley and Gunn pounding down the stairs and did not acknowledge them as they joined the battle.

The last vampire was backed in a corner and about to succumb to Angel's blade when his voice rang above the fray, "The Slayer!"

Angel stopped cold, his blade having already cut into the vampire's throat.

"What about her?" He growled as Wesley and Gunn stepped in behind him to listen as the rest of the room settled gently in a thousand particles to the floor.

"I know what's happening to her," the vampire whined, trying not to move to quickly or talk to fast so Angel would not follow through with his death blow.

"What's happening?"

"Th-the Order of Taraka," he moaned, feeling the stream of blood dripping down his neck and creating a small puddle on the floor, intermingling with his comrade's ashes.

"We stopped them..." Angel said, thinking back on all those years ago.

"No," the vampire whimpered, "They never collected their bounty. They have been regrouping, recruiting, training."

"How many are there?" Angel asked, as his mind spun and he could almost hear the sound of his sanity cracking.

"H-hundred's of them," the vampire gasped painfully.

"How do you know about this?" Angel demanded.

"We were part of the p-plan."

"How?" Angel yelled in a desperate rage.

"We were the diversion...for you."

"You were going to kill me?"


Angel's cold laugh left the vampire in a wide eyed terror and he knew that The Scourge of Europe would not let him live. He began to follow through, when the vampire whimpered, "There's more."

Angel waited.

"They hired another group of demons to open The Hellmouth."

"Another distraction?"

"Yes," he groaned, "They think The Slayer's friends were why they failed before. They won't stop this time until she's dead, even if they take the rest of the world with her."

Angel's blade slid through with little effort through and Angel turned to Wesley and Gunn, not bothering to inspect the dispersement of the demon's ashes.

"I'm going to Sunnydale. Wes, I need you to find out everything you can about The Order of Taraka."

"They have tried to kill Buffy before?"

"Yes," Angel said, "before I...before I lost my soul the first time, they tried to kill her. We thought we took them out."

"Guess not," Gunn offered.

"Yeah," Angel snorted, "Wes, you research. Get Cordy to help." Then he turned to the other man left standing in the room, "Gunn, I think I might need some extra muscle in Sunnydale, if you would..."

"Yeah, man," Gunn answered, nodding, "Let's ride."

Gunn and Angel ran out to Angel's car and were barely settled in when Angel took off. Night was edging on dawn as the darkness was beginning to fade. If they were lucky, they would have just enough time to get to Sunnydale before dawn.


i'm warning you, i'm weightless and the wind is always shifting
so don't hang anything on me if you ever want to see it again
i am telling you i'm different than you think i am

Buffy cringed as they swung and tried to make her limbs move in self-defense, but both demons were suddenly flung away. Buffy blinked and turned her head. Squinting to see her savior, she found she was having a hard time focusing.

"Angel?" she whispered hopefully. She felt him close and the bloody hair on her arms was standing up saluting her lover's return.

"Not quite, twinkie," Faith said with a cold smile.

"Faith," she whispered at her sister Slayer as she began to lose conscious. A stinging slap landed on her left cheek and she looked wide eyed at her...

Well, what the hell was Faith anyway? Foe? Ally? She wasn't quite sure.

"Stay awake, B," she said, pulling Buffy roughly to her unsteady feet. Faith pulled Buffy's arm over her shoulder and began walking with her - or actually dragging her across the park.

"Where are we going?" she groaned as each step stabbed her again.

"There's more coming," Faith said through gritted teeth, "Don't know who you pissed off, B, but those fuckers are everywhere. The Hellmouth is crawling with him and they all want you...as usual. Gotta get you somewhere safe."

"Mansion," Buffy whimpered, "Angel's coming. Take me to the mansion."

"I was thinking more along the lines of Kuwait," Faith said with an almost grin.

"What? And miss the fight?"

"Good point," Faith said, changing direction, "Been in prison a little too long."



Chapter Two

i am watching the sun stumble home in the morning

Riley woke with the dawn and found himself alone. He reached languidly across the bed, feeling the cold mattress where his girlfriend should be. He opened his eyes, turned to verify her absence and then looked around the room for signs of her, but found none. His brow wrinkled with concern as he sat up in bed.

They had plans for breakfast this morning before she went to class, so logically she should still be here. Shaking off his feeling of absurd panic, he picked up the phone and dialed.

"Hello?" A sleepy voice answered.

"Willow, it's Riley," he said into the receiver, "Is Buffy there?"

A muted groan followed a muffled, "No. She's stayed at your house tonight, didn't she?"

"Yes," he said, nodding as if she could actually see him, "But I woke up and she's not here. Maybe she had an errand to run or something. Sorry I woke you."

"Kay," she said, hanging up. She lowered herself back to her warm pillows and pulled the covers over her head to block out the sun. Seconds later she sat up in bed, with her green eyes wide.

Buffy was missing.

"Hello?" Another sleepy, much more British voice answered after Riley listened to the phone ring three times.

"Giles, it's Riley," he said, "Sorry to wake you up. I don't suppose you've seen Buffy?"

"No, she's not here," Giles said, unable to hide the fear and worry that crept into his voice. He immediately came to the same conclusion as Willow.


i'm ok if you get me at a good angle, you're ok in the right sort of light

The strong smell of blood in the dangerous early morning light kept Spike from heading directly to the safety of his crypt and steered him toward the park. As he walked, he picked up the pace, knowing that this curiosity could kill him if it kept him out too long. Gathering a jog, he stopped in front of the bodies of 5 grisly dead demons.

Spike's face twisted into his vampire visage as he looked around him. He tried to focus on what could have happened but all he could smell was blood.

Buffy's blood.

And lots of it. The ground was soaked with her life's essence, staining the earth and attacking his senses. It was too much blood loss, even for a Slayer. He looked around but found no clue of where she might have gone and then he saw the tracks of one person who walked away and another who was dragged.

A glint of metal caught his eye and he crouched over the nearest demon, picking up a limp hand to examine the ring on its spiny finger. A chill made its way down Spike's cold spine as he recognized the insignia of The Order of Taraka. He stood and ran toward his crypt to escape the day. He barely noticed the smoke seeping off his body or the pain that covered his flesh as he entered the dark, moldy space he called home. Harmony was waiting with her hands on her narrow hips. Her lips were moving and annoying sound was breaking through the air, but Spike couldn't hear her. One thought ran through his mind over and over and over:

This is all my fault.


touch me where i'm rusty, let me stain your hands

Faith dragged Buffy into the mansion and called out, "Angel?"

"Not here yet," Buffy whimpered, "But he's coming."

"How do you know?" Faith asked, as she helped Buffy into Angel's old bed.

"I feel him," she said as she fell unconscious, leaving a worried sister Slayer looking down on her. For all the times that Faith wished for Buffy's death, she felt dangerously overprotective of her now. If asked a year ago, she probably would have said that she wanted to kill the bitch herself, but this morning, looking over her bloody body, Faith wanted to save her and Faith hadn't wanted to save anyone but herself for a very long time.

She almost smiled as she thought about her cognitive process over her time in jail. She didn't need rehabilitation there in the violent gray of the prison, she needed the light that only her true life could provide. She shuddered when she thought about being caught and being taken back to that place and felt the urge to run away, but she stayed by Buffy's side and waited for Angel.

Day was approaching quickly and the sun would be up any minute now. She hoped that Buffy was right about Angel coming because she couldn't decide on what to do now that the peril had passed. Hopefully, the mountain of sexy vampire wouldn't burst into flame before he made it here.


i will lean into you. you can be the wind
i will open my mouth, and you can come rushing in
you can rush in so hard and make it so i can't breathe

Angel was driving like a maniac and for all the danger that Gunn was used to, he was beginning to wonder if they would make it to the infamous Sunnydale and the legendary Slayer alive.

"Uh, Angel," he said as they roared passed the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign, "Think you could chill just a little? I mean, I know the sun is coming up, but you might kill us before that happens."

A low growl came from the vampire and his face turned demonic. Angel didn't look over at his co-pilot with his flashing yellow eyes, but Gunn knew they were there.

"Okay, sorry, man. Never mind." Gunn said, raising his hands.

"She's in pain," he snarled.

"How the hell do you know that?"

"I can feel her," Angel replied, through the constant unwavering growl coming from his chest that he could not control.

"Alrighty then," Gunn said, looking at the town flashing quickly by them outside of the car, "You know where to find her?"

Angel nodded wordlessly, focused on the road. He pulled in front of the mansion and leapt out of the car, landing in a run toward the door. Gunn scrambled in behind him and nearly collided with Angel's back when the vampire suddenly stopped.

"Buffy!" Angel screamed, looking around at the blood that painted the mansion's floor. He heard nothing and ran toward his bedroom where the trail went. There was more than a tiny path of blood to follow. His lover was leaking like sieve.

"Angel," a light voice answered and Faith walked sullenly from the bedroom and met the vampire at the door.

"Faith," he snarled, "Where's Buffy?"

She jerked her head over her shoulder, indicating that Buffy waited in the bedroom, "She's lost a lot of blood."

Angel nearly knocked the dark Slayer over trying to get to his bed where his whole life laid bleeding. He rushed to her side and was followed closely by Gunn & Faith.

"Oh God," Angel said, taking inventory of her wounds. He felt her wrist and found her pulse steady but weak and released a sigh of relief. He pulled back the blanket that Faith had covered her with and his eyes landed on the blade still protruding from her thigh. He took a much needed breath before yanking it out of her leg. She woke screaming from pain and swung, slamming her little fist into his jaw. He ignored her punch and ripped his shirt sleeve off, quickly tying the fabric around her leg to stop the bleeding.

"Angel," she moaned, shaking from her pain and blood loss, "I've been waiting for you. Felt you coming."

"I'm here now, love," he said, tracing the bloody lines of her face with his hand.

"Love you," she whispered through hard earned breaths.

"Sorry baby," he whispered, gathering her into his arms, "You're not dying. Quit acting like it."

"S-so cold," she whispered back, "Think I'm in trouble."

"Everything's going to be okay," he said, lifting her from the bed. He stood with his lover nestled in his arms and looked over at Gunn.

"Gunn, start the car and put the roof up. We need to get to the hospital now. Open the back door and let me know when you're ready."

Gunn moved quickly into motion and Faith jumped into action, following along. One thing was not missed in their two action ready minds - the look in Angel's eyes was like nothing they had ever seen. He was dangerously close to the place where love and despair turns into something else altogether. The cool, logical vampire was cracking.


so i guess i'll just stand here with my back against the wall

Angel's call sent the Sunnydale crew running toward the hospital. Riley headed them inside the hospital doors and they all stopped in shock as they laid eyes on Faith and standing next to her was a strong, handsome man none of them had ever seen before.

"Faith," Riley said, his eyes narrowing at her in anger. Her name was echoed on several other sets of lips as they all stood off against her. Streams of despise hit her like a train and she took a step back.

"I saved her," she said weakly, "I didn't hurt her."

"Yeah and we're going believe that because you're so trustworthy?" Xander sneered.

"She did save her," Gunn said, crossing his arms in the defiance he was so good at. Faith turned and looked at him with thankful eyes. She knew he was only protecting her because he had no idea who she was.

"Who the hell are you?" Riley demanded.

"Gunn," he said, "I'm on Angel's crew."

"Is Angel still here?" Giles asked.

"Yeah," Gunn said, looking over to the doorway to his right, "He's in there with her."

"Who's Angel?" Riley asked.

"Buffy's ex," Willow answered.

"I'm going to see her," Riley said, turning toward the door.

"They're still working on her," Gunn protested, "You can't go in there."

"The ex can, but I can't? I don't think so," he said, moving toward the door. The hospital staff turned the soldier away at the door and he looked back at the group in hostile anger. He turned back to the window and stared in at the tall man clad in all black, leaning against the wall with his arms folded overseeing the medical process. His eyes were sharply peeled on the doctors and nurses, watching every move that they made. He looked like an iron statue waiting to break free of gravity and spring forward.

Riley thought he looked dangerous. He felt threat shiver through his body as he watched through the small square window, waiting for his moment to get in that room.


she was shaking and talking louder and louder
each sentence was sifted to a very fine powder
her face was wet and tight, her grip was cold and light

Buffy woke and looked into Angel's eyes, which melted into hers. She was aware that the room was filled with her friends, but she didn't want to break away from his gaze. The resolve she had held onto so tightly for so long was broken. She squeezed his hand and smiled weakly.

"Angel," she breathed, giving his undead name life.

"Buffy," he returned, moving his hand to wipe the tears that escaped her eyes.

"Thought I was going to die. Faith...Faith saved me," she said and the room gasped collectively. None of them believed it until it came from Buffy and even then, they were having a hard time accepting the truth.

"Order of Taraka," Angel said, answering her unasked question.

"Oh God," she said. Weak with the drugs the doctors injected her with, she began to sob. Angel pulled her into his arms and she buried her face into his chest, crying harder. She was sure she wasn't going to make it through this. Faith had already told her there were more. Hundreds.

Knowing death was imminent, all that mattered was Angel now and the time she had in his arms. She didn't care what her friends thought or what Riley was witnessing.

He lowered her back to the pillow when her tears had subsided and she allowed herself a quick scan of the room for the first time. Her eyes landed on her boyfriend and she felt her indifference toward him soaking in.

"Buffy," he said, stepping forward, after forcing himself to remain in the background for a long time. She didn't reply, but her eyes moved to Angel with a plead, Save me. Riley kept stepping forward and he had almost reached the side of the bed, when Angel revealed his demon, snarling at the current boyfriend.

"If you want to live, then stop," Angel growled. Buffy's soft hand reached up and smoothed the rough lines of his face. With a jerk, he looked down at her and reverted to his human form. The room's collective gasps were becoming a pattern as they looked on at the display with wide eyes.

"It's okay," she whispered as her eyes began to droop.

"You're a vampire?" Riley asked incredulously.

"I'm the vampire that's going to kill you if you get anywhere near her."

"I'm sorry, maybe you're confused," he retorted, "You're a vampire. I'm the boyfriend."

"You're a new face," Angel answered, "For all I know you're one of them. I'm sorry, but I'm not taking any chances with her life. I don't know you and so you're an enemy to me until this is over."

"Buffy," Riley said looking at her with pleading in his eyes but she had already fallen back asleep. Angel smiled down at her, knowing he didn't need to protect her from Riley. He was well aware that Riley had been around long before this happened, but it was a good excuse to keep him away from her. As selfish as it was, he couldn't stop himself from wanting him away from his mate.


you can't hide behind social graces
so don't try to be all touchy feely

Once they got Buffy safely home, Angel left her sleeping and moved swiftly down the stairs, sweeping past the group. He was almost out of the door, when he stopped and slowly turned to see his Grand Childe standing there attempting to talk to Giles about the current situation. A coldness fell over Angel and a chilling growl sprang forth, "You saved me a trip across town, William."

"Angel," Spike said, holding his hands up in defense with his face covered in guilt, "Listen mate -"

"Now it's ‘mate'?" Angel growled, cutting off Spike's words when his large fist made contact with his nose. Everyone stepped back as Grand Sire and Grande Childe faced off, "This is all your damn fault."

"Listen," Spike croaked, before Angel's boot pounded into his chest, "That was a long time ago. Thought the little bint had beaten ‘em and it was over. Never even paid the bastards."

"Well, it's not over," Angel said, grabbing him from the floor and slamming him against the wall, "But you're going to make it stop now."

"I don't know how," Spike admitted.

"You're going to figure it out," Angel growled, "And I'll keep you alive just long enough to make it happen."

"I'll try," Spike managed to spit out as he listened to his own neck bones cracking as Angel's hand settled over his throat. The room winced at they heard the same abhorrent sound.

"You'll succeed or you're dust," Angel said, slamming him against the wall again. Angel dragged him across the room, opened the door and tossed him roughly out, "Make it stop." He said before slamming the door.


it is good, good to be back home. how i missed this

"It's very likely Spike will not be able to call them off," Giles said as Angel came back in the room.

"I know," Angel said nodding sadly, "But it's worth a shot.

"Perhaps," Giles replied, looking doubtful, "But I was flipping through The Codex to see if there was anything about this there. Something about what you and Faith said about the recent events rang familiar to me. And," Giles said, flipping through the volume, "There is mention here of an unstoppable force coming against The Slayer and opening the Hellmouth."

"Just one Slayer?" Faith asked.

"Well, it's a little unclear," Giles said, rereading what he had already read three times.

"That's new," Xander said sarcastically.

"Wesley called earlier and we have been comparing notes on our research. It appears that The Hellmouth will be opened within the next week. From what we can tell, The Order will attempt to kill Buffy between now and then."

"And we're all in danger," Angel said, looking around at his ex's loved ones.

"Quite right," Giles said nodding.

"We need a plan," Xander announced and received a roomful of "duhs," "Well, we do!"

"Willow, did you find anything about those demons?" Giles asked the redhead who was pouring intently behind a stack of books.

"Yes," she said, not looking up. Her finger caressed the page as she finished her current paragraph, "I think I know why those particular demons were the first to attack."

"Why?" Gunn asked, pipping up for the first time.

"Well," Willow started, "The knives that they used have a weakening poison stuff on them and the effects last for several days. It's supposed to weaken and disorient the foe."

"Makes sense," Angel said, nodding.

"Yeah," Faith said, "Those cuts looked wicked painful and B usually bounces back quicker than that."

"Yes, um, Faith," Giles said, still trying to trust the other Slayer, "She does seem a bit more out of it than usual."

"She is," Buffy said, moving slowly down the stairs in a pair of sweat pants and a tiny tank top. Riley and Angel both felt nervous by the cleavage that was visible from the shirt, which hugged perfectly round bare breasts. Her adorable belly button peaked out, making Angel want to cover her. Angel shot a look at Riley who was shooting a look back at him. Both men turned their attention back to the blonde coming down the stairs. One thing they did have in common was that they loved the way she looked when she was rumpled from bed. The crisscrossed cuts on her body had already started to fade but were still visible and each tiny line prickled over Angel's nerves.

"I'm completely drained," she said and even as she finished her words, she began to sink down. Angel, who was already on edge from her being there, sprang up the stairs and caught her in his arms.

"I can see that," he said with a gentle smile. He carried her the rest of the way down the stairs and sat down on the couch with her firmly in place on his lap.

"I think those demons did something to me," she said as she snuggled into his chest and closed her eyes.

"They did, love," Angel whispered, sweeping her hair off of her forehead. Riley's whole body jilted with the word "love" and he stayed twanging there as he realized that she was not moving away from him or his words. She was settling in to her ex-lover.

you know i really didn't intend to embrace you that long
but then again i noticed i wasn't the only one hanging on

Buffy's weakness was not only physical but mental. She wanted to turn from Angel but found that she just didn't have the strength to sacrifice the safety of him just then. She would talk to Riley later. She would deal later. Right now she just wanted to stay in his arms and be okay for once.

"What can we do?" Faith asked, astounding the room. Seemed like every time she opened her mouth, she shocked the room with a rather high voltage but she steeled herself against the road blocks. She expected this. Somehow she would get them to trust her again, even though in the back of her mind, she thought maybe they would never trust her. She worried that she would have to skip town to avoid the police before she earned it anyway.

"Willow," Giles answered, "I suggest you find a spell to protect the house so that we don't have to worry about possible assassins entering. Faith, Riley, and Gunn, you check around and see if you can find out how many of The Order are here and what they are planning."

"What about me?" Xander asked with a pout.

"Snacks," Buffy muffled into Angel's chest, "Hungry."

"Oh yeah, right," Xander said, heading for the door, "Always refreshment boy."

"But you're so good at it," Willow said brightly.


i'm gonna roll you over. gonna peel you back.
expose your tender center, watch the juices flow from the cracks
gonna peel you out of your protective shell
or i might just have to break right in there and raise some hell

Willow stood outside of the house with Tara. They both circled, shaking a soft powder on the ground and reciting an incantation. Power was flowing freely through them, bouncing back and forth from witch to witch. The air hummed with pagan power, shaking the inner core of both young women as the barrier raised itself with a flash of brilliant purple light.

Willow smiled with accomplishment, "That was a rush. I think it's strong."

"Yeah, I think it is," Tara agreed. Her hands were trembling from the strength of the spell and once again was in awe of Willow's power. She knew that the spell needed her help, but the power that radiated off her girlfriend was incredible. She didn't have much time to mull it over however, because a sharp pain struck her and she faintly heard Willow's frightened scream.

Willow reach out her shaky hand and used magick to fling the vampire from Tara's smooth throat. Angel came bounding out of the house with her scream and ran toward the disoriented vampire that Willow had flung to the ground. After dispatching the vampire with one fluid motion, Angel turned toward the pair of Wiccans.

"Are you okay?" Angel asked, walking over.

"Y-yes, I'm okay," Tara said, "Thanks."

"Sure," he answered, helping her to her feet along with the Willow who clung to her.

"This is only going to get worse, isn't it?" Willow asked fearfully.

Angel nodded regretfully as he escorted them through the protective barrier and back to the house. At the door, he stopped, "Is Xander still out getting snacks?"

Willow's eyes widened as she nodded.

"Damn," Angel muttered as he turned to find the boy. There was nothing he wanted to do less than to go find Xander.


there's just a couple things i'd like to know

Gunn, Riley and Faith all headed off alone in separate directions but Riley circled back around and followed Gunn. Waiting for his moment, he caught him in an alley just outside of The Bronze. Riley pushed him against the wall and pointed his handgun at the newcomer.

"You're going to tell me everything you know about Angel," Riley commanded, cocking his weapon.

"I don't have to tell you shit," Gunn replied, staring directly into the barrel without so much of a flinch of fear in his eyes.

"Oh, I think you do," Riley said, taking a step closer.

Gunn laughed with a twinkle of mischief, "Jealous, huh?"

"Fuck you."

"I'll take that as a yes," Gunn said, leaning casually against the brick wall as if he were chatting with a friend.

"What happened with Buffy and Angel? How could she have dated a vampire and how is he not evil?"

"Lots of questions, soldier boy," Gunn said, pushing off of the wall, "that you're gonna have to ask your girl. Wait, is she still your girl?"

"She's mine," Riley said, "And stop moving before I put a bullet in your brain."

"I'm new here. Don't know much, not that I'd tell you anyway," Gunn said and then turned to walk away. Riley's finger itched on the trigger as he watched Angel's friend stroll away. Gunn didn't entertain the thought for one second that Buffy's boyfriend would shoot him and he was right. Riley lowered his pistol and pushed it back into the holster, swearing under his breath. That didn't help at all. Suddenly he realized where he could find the answers. Turning, he made his way down the alley and around The Bronze.


musta blown a fuse or something
it was so dark in my mind
she came up to me with the sweetest face
and she was holding a light of some kind

Angel dragged a very beaten Xander in the house and dropped him unceremoniously on the couch.

"Think you should order in," Angel said to the room before heading up the stairs to check on Buffy. He found her sitting against the wall in the hallway a few feet from the bathroom, leaning against the wall.

"Buffy, what are you doing?"

"Wanna take a bath," she said, looking longingly at the bathroom door.

"Didn't quite make it?" He asked try to cover his smile.

"Shut up," she muttered, holding her arms out to him, "and help me."

He picked her up and carried her to the bathroom. He set her on the edge of the tub and she teetered there, looking up at him. He stood there with his hands in his pockets, confused on what he should do next.

"Shut the door," she said and he obeyed. He turned back to her and she whispered, "Need you to help me, ‘kay?"

"Okay," he answered but the word stuck in his throat as she lifted her shirt off and dropped it to the floor. He tried not to stare, but her torso and beautiful breasts were made available to his eyes. He blinked as he looked over the angry cuts that covered her nubile flesh. He wanted to touch each gash, each mark that was painted on her body but found himself frozen against the wall.

"Angel," she said, snapping him out of his blank stare. She was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable by the eyes that burned into her and felt her skin flushing with his closeness.

"Sorry," he mumbled. He leaned over and turned on the water. His shoulder was touching hers as he adjusted the temperature. He stood again and looked at her, still fumbling with the situation. He was certain that he was hearing things when a little voice came from red lips, "Take off your clothes."

He stared at her for a long moment and she nodded gently, almost ashamed at her request. He couldn't help but notice her increased heartbeats and the equally increased breathing coming from the beautiful wounded woman as he shed his clothes. He helped her out of the rest of her clothes and ignored his bordering on painful erection as he picked her up and lowered her into the water. She tugged him in with her and he stepped in, settled in behind her. He was very aware that he did not need to be naked nor in the tub to help her, but he didn't care. He wanted, needed the closeness. He knew part of it was her current weakness but hers was nothing compared to his.

She leaned back against him and pulled his arms around her. Closing her eyes, she relished in the feel of him for a few moments. He reached cupped water in his hands and wet her hair before lathering it with fragrant shampoo. He knew the fragrance well because it was always what her hair smelled like. He massaged her scalp and then rinsed away the blood and dirt from her hair.

He could barely get through the conditioning process because her hand ran absently up and down his leg. He tried to focus as he lathered her body, washing each violent streak of pain individually. He made his way over her body, stroking the pain away. Finally, he reached her sex and as he washed her, found his fingers settling on her clit. She moaned and pushed back against the erection she felt behind her. His other hand moved over her breasts and she turned her head to accept the kiss waiting on his lips.

"God, I missed you," she moaned into his mouth. He grunted his agreement, not pausing in the kiss to agree with words. He plunged a finger inside her, allowing the water to buoy his movements. She rocked against his assault on her and closed her eyes as pleasure washed over her.

"I need you inside me," she moaned in the same timbre of his dream, "Don't wanna wait anymore." Fear washed over him as he imagined her disappearing again or dying.

"Buffy," he groaned, closing his eyes to the pain, "Maybe we shouldn't..."

"Angel, please," she whispered, pulling his face into her hands, "Make love to me."

Without another moment's delay, he lifted her onto his lap and lowered her slowly as he guided his cock into her warmth. With her back still against his chest, she anchored one leg on the side of tub and one on slick porcelain floor between his legs. Moving herself over him, he splayed his hands on her hips to accept most of her weight, pushing her up and down on him.

"I love you," Angel said, kissing the back of her neck, "I missed you."

"Me too," she whispered as the water splashed over the side of the tub with their movements, leaving puddles of love on the floor that refused to reflect the danger waiting outside.


i cannot name this. i cannot explain this and i really don't want to
just call me shameless. i can't even slow this down, let alone stop this
and i keep looking around but i cannot top this

"What happened to you?" Harmony asked as Spike ran into the crypt looking as if he had been beaten the entire time he was gone.

"Can't stop them," he said, "They won't fucking stop! I called the bastards and I never even paid them but they don't care!"

"Who?" she asked, her face scrunched up in confusion.

"What the hell am I going to do? If they don't kill me, Angel will and what if...Jesus bloody Christ!"

"Spike, what are you talking about?" Harmony asked, standing up and walking over to him.

"Don't touch me," he said, walking away from her, "I need to think."

"Yeah, I wanna touch him instead," Riley said, throwing a punch that knocked Spike on his ass.

"What the hell do you want," Spike said, standing and dusting himself off, "Shouldn't you be over at the Summer's house keeping your woman from shagging my Sire?"

"That's what I want to talk to you about."

"Shagging?" Spike asked, with a crooked grin, "No wonder she's ditched you for Peaches."

His smiled was wiped away with another punch, "Shut up, Spike."

"Calm down, soldier boy," Spike said, crossing the room and taking a swig of whiskey. The vampire was further away from calm than Riley was.

"Tell me what you know about your sire," Riley demanded, hoping he got a bit more out of Spike than he had gotten out of Gunn. He needed ammunition against Angel and could only hope that Spike would be evil enough to provide it.

"Tall, vampire, cursed with soul, in love with The Slayer, likes hair gel," Spike answered, "Not much else to tell."

Riley sighed into his third punch, wishing this could get a little easier, but was sure he was a long, long way from mental peace.


it just all slips away so slowly you don't even notice till you've lost a lot

Faith wasn't sure where else to look so she headed into the forest, moving silently through the thick trees. Something was pulling her in that direction and she felt her body buzzing with exhilaration. She picked up the pace as the magic led her on. Her feet could barely keep up her mind and her heartbeat raced as she pulled herself into a full out run.

Slayer sense purring, she continued, leaving the world behind her and responding to the call that yanked her along like a puppy on a leash. Somewhere deep inside her, her conscience warned her to stop, to turn around, but it could not overpower the need to keep running toward whatever was calling her.

She slammed into an invisible barrier of magick and turned to escape it but found she was boxed in four imaginary walls. She looked around her and felt her heart sink. Panic clawed at her as the glowing eyes around her became brighter and brighter, emitting a light that was blinding to human eyes.


Chapter Three

i used to be a superhero no one could hurt me not even myself
you are like a phone booth that i somehow stumbled into
and now look at me i am just like everybody else

Riley walked into the bathroom and had to catch his heart before it fell on the floor next to Buffy's clothes which were lying intimately next to Angel's clothes. He walked down the hall where two towels laid haphazardly on the floor outside of her door. His blonde hair was barely touching the door as he listened. Nothing came from the room - no sounds, no moans, no whispers.

Finally, his curiosity got the better of him and although he had serious moral issues with this, he went outside, scaled the tree outside of Buffy's window and perched on roof, looking into her window like a Peeping Tom. He immediately regretted his decision when he saw them sleeping.

He regretted it, not because he could see plainly that they were naked or that they had just had sex, but because she was snuggled into him and sleeping soundly. Actually, she was more at peace than he had ever seen her. She held on to Angel, clung to him almost. He hadn't realized it until just now, but she never held on to him like that, she simply allowed herself to be held. His heart sank as he realized that he had truly lost her and felt the bile rising in his throat as he watched her entangled with the vampire. Angel's mouth was not on her neck, but Riley felt as if it were. He could imagine the demon rebreaking the scar on her neck and feeding off her.

Suddenly he wondered if Angel was the one who left the scar there to begin with. His face twisted in anger as he realized that it had to be. There was no other possible explanation. He had half a mind to jump through the window and stake the bastard as he slept. But instead, he slowly turned and climbed back down and as he turned he missed Angel's eyes opening just in time to see his retreat. Angel held in his annoyed growl and pulled Buffy possessively closer to him. He closed his eyes and told himself he would allow just a few more hours of this luxury in her arms before he went on patrol.


rubbing elbows with the moon, a safe haven of sleepless

Gunn strolled as he did often when there was no immediate threat. He was intrigued by The Hellmouth. The thought that his sleepy little town contained as much evil as LA was laughable and yet he was sure that the rumors were true.

Then there was Angel. He thought he had seen Angel flip out before, but he was completely mistaken. Gunn was actually surprised that his soulful friend hadn't ripped the stupid blonde boyfriend's throat out. If he thought Angel was protective over Cordy, that was small potatoes compared to how he reacted toward his true love or soul mate or whatever. And what a little hottie Buffy turned out to be. No wonder Angel couldn't think straight. The girl was straight sex. Also, no big surprise that Riley was losing his marbles the way Angel hovered over her.

Gunn allowed his thoughts to slide on over to Faith, who was troubled, much like he used be and damn beautiful. She was rough around the edges, sure, but he wasn't as smooth as silk every day. From her provocative clothing to her flashing brown eyes, she kept Gunn on her every word. He had been warned that she couldn't be trusted by...let's see...every one at last count, but somewhere inside her he saw her trying to earn redemption. He was drawn to her and felt positive that somehow he could help. Which is a good thing because he heard her screaming from the woods ahead. Gunn moved into action, jogging cautiously toward the sound of her voice.


those assholes aren't worth dying for

"Let me outta here," Faith spat from inside her transparent cell. She pounded her hands at the invisible barrier which bounced her back like rubber. Slayer strength wasn't working here and she was beginning to panic.

"You will aid us in our search for knowledge before we dispose of you, Slayer," one of the demons announced in a gravelly voice.

"Screw you," she said, "I can't breathe in here. Let me out!"

"Information first," he repeated. Faith struggled to remain calm but the ten demons around her, all baring rings with The Order of Taraka insignia on them, were only interested in information and death. Assassins by nature and firm in their quest, she was sure that she was about to die. After all that time in jail, she was going to die to save Buffy and the super-frigging-friends? This was completely insane. Was the Scooby gang really worth her freedom or her life? It was one thing to be redeemed in their eyes and find some peace, it was quite another to die before she even chipped off a section of the ice.

She glanced around her and her eyes landed on Spike on one side and Gunn on the other. Both had action gleaming in their eyes. She felt calm return. She looked at the circle of stones that the main demon stood inside and realized that if Spike or Gunn broke the circle, she could be freed. Both men focused on the circle as well, coming to the same conclusion.

"You will tell us the weakness of the other Slayer," the demon demanded.

"Sure," Faith said nodding, "I'll tell you whatever you want, just as soon as I'm not trapped in here anymore."

"We do not trust you," he replied, "You are not even trusted by your sister Slayer. Weaknesses, please."

"Well," Faith started, trying not to look at Gunn and Spike as they crept closer to the demons, "Let me see..."

She paused thinking of Buffy's weaknesses. She was sure that she probably knew most of them. Angel would be the biggest one. If Angel was in danger, Buffy would give her life for his safety. Next were her friends, of course, who she would risk life and limb to save. If only she had that kind of friendship and trust all her life like Buffy had, maybe she wouldn't have to fight the darkness all the time. Buffy's mom, there was a weakness. Thank God she was out of town for all this or Buffy would have her barricaded in her room.

How does one person's life get so lucky and another's so damn unlucky? Faith would have given anything to have what Buffy had and all she did was take it for granted, play the woe-is-me girl and bitch. She had no idea what it was like to live how she lived - alone and constantly afraid she would die that way.

"Thank you," the demon said, causing Faith to jerk her head up.

"I didn't tell you anything yet!" Faith said with her eyes wide. She was thinking not speaking, right?

"We're telepathic, Slayer," he said, causing Faith to feel the cold grip of panic begin to strangle her, "Now we know what we have to do and we no longer need you."

The walls began squeezing in on her and she reached out to the sides, pressing them away with all her strength, but was unable to keep them at bay. She thought her arms were breaking as Gunn and Spike finally jumped in the clearing. Gunn went straight for the circle, while Spike tried to kill as many of them as he possibly could - which was exactly none. Both were flung immediately away by some unseen force and they scrambled to their feet to return to battle. Gunn ran full force at the circle and managed to get his hand on one of the stones and toss it away.

It was enough to free Faith and she fell forward, gasping for air. The demons clasped hands and as the three warriors ran toward them and they disappeared.


this is my skeleton. this is the skin it's in that is, according to light and gravity
i'll take off my disguise, the mask you met me in 'cuz i got something for you to see
just gimme your skeleton. give me the skin it's in.
yeah baby, this is you according to me

Angel woke to find Buffy smiling down at him. She was kneeling on the bed, with her head cocked to the side, a dreamy smile on her beautiful face.

"Hey," he said, coming fully awake at her distracting stare and even more distracting nakedness.

"Hey," she replied softly.

"What cha thinking about?" He asked, leaning up on his elbow, trying to disguise his inevitable arousal but as they were both uncovered, it wasn't hard for her to realize.

"Riley, actually," she answered. A scowl covered his handsome face but all he said was, "Really?"

"Calm down, baby," she said, pecking his scowled lips, "I'm thinking about how he's not right for me."

"Thank God," he said and plopping back on the bed, "You had me thinking you were going to choose him over me."

"Gimme a break," she said, rolling her eyes. He pulled her against him suddenly and smoothed his hands over her firm ass, "You wanted to see my reaction or you wouldn't have said you were thinking about him."

"Okay," she said squealing as he squeezed her bottom harder, "I confess!"

He kissed her soundly, smacking her rear and illicting another squeal, "Stop! Bully!"

He looked smoothed his hands over her body and felt that her wounds nearly healed, "You're better?"

"Yes," she said, pecking his irresistible lips again, "I think the demons' poison doesn't last as long on Slayers."

"I'm glad," he said, kissing her back.

"Could've been the sex," she whispered with a twinkle in her eyes. He smiled and nodded as he kissed her again.

"No doubt about it. But maybe we should test it, you know, just to be sure," he said as he reached between her legs to feel the rising heat.

"Definitely," she answered, lowering her hand to his fully erect cock.

Angel released a gurgling moan as Buffy kissed down his chest and wrapped her little hand around him.


between the asphalt and the sky, i am caught like bottled water

"Shit!" Faith yelled as her eyes welled with tears for the first time in a very long time. There was no way they were actually going to fall, but they were there and proof of her emotions.

"What did you think about ?" Gunn asked.

"About how she would risk her life for Angel and her friends and her mom. God! How was I supposed to know that they could read my mind?"

"Hey, it's okay. I saw it all. They're not going to blame you and now that we have a warning, it'll be okay," Gunn said gently.

"Yeah, right. They'll never believe me and my only proof is from a very unreliable Spike and someone they barely know. I might as well skip town now."

"Calm down," Gunn said, grabbing her shoulders, which for a Slayer, was a very dangerous thing to do, but Faith, much to her own surprise, allowed it, "Come on. We'll tell ‘em everything."

"Why are you being so nice to me?" She asked, narrowing her eyes. If Faith knew anything, she knew men.

"Yep," he said, nodding with a sexy grin and pulling her by the hand, "Just trying to get in your hot little pants."

She couldn't help but smile and walk along with him, allowing her hand to be held. When was the last time she had let that happen?

Spike stood there and watched the couple walk away without so much of a thank you or goodbye. They didn't even acknowledge that he was there and had helped. Bloody humans. He hated the whole stinking lot of them and wondered again why he was helping them.


there's the asshole who did this to me stripped me of my power, stripped me down

Riley watched Angel leave the house alone and tracked him for several blocks. Angel stopped and turned around, facing the boy.

"This is getting old, Finn," Angel sighed.

"Well, gee," Riley sneered, "I'm so very sorry,"

"You lost her. Get over it."

"Since she hasn't officially broken up with me yet," Riley retorted sarcastically, "I'll just pretend she's still my business."

"No need for that," Angel said, shaking his head, "Sorry, but I have things to do. I really don't have time for your petty bullshit."

"Petty? That's laugh," Riley said, his eyes glinting with hatred, "We'll see how petty you think it is when she leaves you. You're just a thing. Not even a person. It won't be long before she realizes which one of us can give her a life."

"You're right," Angel said, switching to game face, "I'm a demon. Take a good look, boy, because this is face she loves. She knows what I am. She knows what kind of life I offer her. Makes you wonder what you're lacking, doesn't it?"

Riley closed the distance quickly and was tossed away by Angel, who really didn't want to fight him. Well, he did want to beat him senseless, but he knew it would upset Buffy and she had enough to be upset about right now. Riley charged again and Angel's crescent kick flung him away again. Turning, Angel attempted to walk away, mostly so he could tell Buffy later that he did try.

Riley, didn't disappoint, however and attacked once more. Angel was grinning widely when he punched the boy's attractive face. He punched again, easily blocking Riley's first blow, but taking a sucker punch to the nose. Blood erupted from both of their faces as they pummeled each other brutally.

Any pain that Riley dealt him, was shrugged off by Angel, because it was worth it to hurt the boyish man that had slept with his mate. He had no claim on her then, but that was irrelevant. The fact remained that she was his mate and Riley had dared touch her. He wanted to make him bleed and took more than normal joy in hitting him. Angel finally flung him away again and smiled again as Riley came in contact with a nearby tree trunk.

"She's mine," Angel hissed, "Stay and help the fight if you like, but don't let me catch you anywhere near her."


now i'm a different person, different in so many ways
tell me what did you like about me and don't say my strength and daring
'cuz now i think i'm at your mercy and it's my first time for this kind of thing

Faith took a deep breath outside the Summer's home and Gunn squeezed her hand reassuringly.

"Ready, hot stuff?" He asked with a smile. She couldn't help but smile back. His easy going nature and silly humor reminded her of the Mayor - except for the old, evil part. He made her feel safe and it was a feeling she didn't often get.

"You're a freak," she said, shaking her head.

"Yeah, and?"

"Whatever. Let's go," she said with false confidence but she clung to his hand as they went inside, more than grateful that she had a hand to cling to for once. As she entered the house and faced the Scooby Gang, she donned her protective armor and prepared for a fight to the death.

"Faith, Gunn," Giles said, nodding at them. He noted that they were holding hands, but pretended he didn't, as was his style. He was actually glad to see them together. Faith needed a friend and after Gunn had protected her at the hospital, he was hoping that she would find a friend in him. With Faith, it was hard to say, but it looked like she might have, "Glad you see that you returned safely. Did you see anything of note?"

"Well," Faith started with a deep breath. She looked at Gunn and silently begged him not to make her tell them.

"Faith was caught by some crazy Taraka blue furry demons," Gunn said, puffing out his chest, "And they read her mind or something to get Buffy's weaknesses. Guess they got something outta her head cause they said they had what they needed and tried to kill her. That's when Spike & I jumped in and got her loose."

"Glad I got a little credit," Spike said, strolling in the house with a lit cigarette.

"Go outside if you're gonna smoke," Buffy said, from her position on the couch, "Faith are you okay? Did you get hurt?"

Spike flung his cigarette out the open door and slammed it shut in annoyance. He wanted to hear what happened next more than he wanted to smoke.

"What?" Faith asked in confusion and then, "Uh, no. Five by five."

Buffy smiled at Gunn quizzical look and added, "Interpret it as good."

Gunn nodded with a smile and looked around the room, "What now?"

Giles spoke up first, "We already assumed that The Order would be after the people close to Buffy, but I wonder what information they could have extracted from Faith's mind that would cause them to alter their actions. Faith," Giles said turning to her, "If you could tell us what Buffy's greatest weakness was, what would you say?"

"Angel," Faith answered truthfully and watched at Buffy stood up from the couch. She couldn't decipher the look on her face, but it was somewhere between anger and fear, "Sorry B, it' true."

"No," Buffy said, running for the door, "You're right. He is my biggest weakness and he's out there patrolling right now."

She grabbed Spike's arm and pushed him toward the door, "You're helping."

"Why me? I don't even like the bloody Poof," Spike protested.

"Make yourself useful before I remember that you were the one who caused all this. If Angel dies, you're going to be floating in the wind." Spike stomped toward the door in mock annoyance, but he was more than thankful that she hadn't staked him already.

Buffy cast a look over her shoulder at Faith, "Coming?"

Faith pulled Gunn along with her as she headed toward the door and tried to hide her smile. She was back in...almost. Buffy believed her. They all believed her. Well, they believed Gunn, but still, it was a start.


the sound of them strong. stalking, talking about their prey.

Angel walked along thinking of his victory over the boyfriend which lately had become a bad word in his mind. A word full of venom and threat. Buffy had chosen him and as happy as he was about that, he knew that Riley could offer Buffy ten times more than he could. He selfishly hoped that she never realized that, never wanted it because as much as he wanted her have all that and more, he couldn't walk away again. He couldn't lose her again. Once was enough for all eternity and then some.

His thoughts were halted as he realized he was being followed again and this time it was not Riley. He melted into the shadows and scanned the area, searching for what tracked him. He turned full circle and saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing but he was positive something was there. He waited, poised in the knowledge that in three seconds he had gone from predator to prey.

He inhaled, smelling the air and continued to look around him, unmoving. Only his sharp eyes moved. Ten minutes passed and nothing happened. Angel was beginning to think he imagined the whole thing but waited another ten, straining to hear a footstep, smell a person or demon, hear a heartbeat. Finally he stepped out and continued walking, keeping his body tensed for a fight.

And he walked right into an invisible box.

The group of demons appeared, shimmering for a second before fully materializing before him.

"You are Angelus," they stated. Angel stared at the ten, feeling tangible hate radiate off of them.

When Hell Breaks Loose, Chapter Four

By Tango

there's a thousand shades of white and a thousand shades of black
but the same rule always applies: smile pretty and watch your back

Buffy raced through the streets of Sunnydale with Spike, Faith & Gunn close behind her. She followed her natural sense of her vampire, pulling on his invisible strings and he tugged back in turn. The others followed with a bit of bewilderment. Even Spike could not understand how she knew exactly where to go to find him.

But she did.

The made it to the park with relative ease and found Angel with the same simple steps. The ten blue demons looked like a flock of ducks, in a symmetrical V in front of the invisible box where they held him hostage. He struggled at the sides, pushing out at them and his hands looked as if they were fighting with rubber air. His eyes were flashing from golden to brown and back again as he fought himself and them at the same time. The roar of pain that he forced from his mouth, however, was in no way hindered. The beast within howled for release and screamed in anguish.

Buffy rasped his name as she ran toward the demons but was stopped cold against the invisible barrier that protected them. Time stood still and the mirrored screams of the soul mates were held in the thick air. Seconds blended into the aether, held in stasis, as the lover's melted into each other's pain. Desperation was unpenetrable and there was nothing to do but wait. As quickly as they appeared, they disappeared and set Angel free.

He fell hard to his knees as the barrier unfolded around him and Buffy threw herself into his arms. He held onto her, clutching her closely to his chest. He was heaving breaths, that although unnecessary to live, were necessary to regain his plane of being.

"Angel," Buffy whimpered in his arms, "You're breaking me."

"Sorry, love," he said into her hair and lessened his hold only slightly, "I almost lost you. I almost lost me."


we lie in our beds and our graves
unable to save ourselves from the quaint tragedies we invent
and undo from the stupid circumstances we slalom through

By the time Spike made it back to his crypt, he was filled with a kind of dread that he could not explain. If he had a conscience, it would have been begging him to feel ashamed but instead he felt helpless and that emotion more than any other made him mad with rage. Inside his dark hole, all he had was the beleaguering snivel of his girlfriend, whom he thought of staking every other day.

"I can't fucking think with your incessant chattering," Spike said, plopping into his bed. She crawled next to him and rubbed his groin with needy fingers.

"Doesn't my blondie bear wanna play?" She said as she began to kiss his neck.

"Something's wrong with this whole bloody picture," Spike said to the ceiling, ignoring her touch.

"With you having sex with me?"

"No, you bleeding moron, with The Order of Taraka and those damn fuzzy smurfs."

"Are you still trying to help The Slayer, Spikey, cause you know that she's just gonna stake you later," she said, "Pay attention to me."

"I gotta think this through, pet," he said, pushing her hand away, "Something's not right with this-"

Harmony's mouth on his cock, left his sentence unfinished along with his thought. He groaned half in ecstasy and half in frustration as he ripped the pink silk from her breasts.


i have been waiting for you to come and talk to me

Buffy was out on the back steps talking to Riley and Angel was painted on the kitchen door, eavesdropping. He wanted to have the confidence and self control to walk away and let her end it alone, but he couldn't. For every cocky word he'd fed to Riley, for every blow he'd dealt, a reciprocal of doubt and unease dug into him. He pressed his ear to the door, though he didn't need to - he could hear every whisper clearly as if her breath was at his ear, but the door was a stronghold and it was holding him up and back.

As soon as he was certain that Buffy was actually breaking up with Riley and not making up with him, he forced himself away from the door. He wandered into the living room, where the research session was in full force. Wesley and Cordelia had arrived that evening to help on the home front and they looked exhausted. Cordy was nodding off over her book, Willow's eyes were glassy as she read nonstop and Giles had his glasses cleaning ritual down to ten minute intervals.

"Ah, Angel," Wesley said, which caused Cordy to bolt awake, "Glad to see you're safe."

"Thanks Wes," he said, "Thanks for coming." He nodded his thanks toward Cordy as well, who flashed a sleepy smile back.

"We were looking into the demons that attempted to harm both you and Faith," Giles said, standing up and stretching, "Do you think they were attempting to dislodge your soul?"

Angel thought for a second and shook his head slowly, "No, I don't think that was their motive."

"What do you think they were trying to do, just kill you?" Xander asked, almost slightly hopefully. Although in his defense, it was because anything was better than Angelus.

"Not sure," Angel said, trying to pinpoint the feelings, "Whatever they were doing, it hurt like hell."

"Sounded like it," Gunn said from his comfy position on the couch.

"Yeah, well, it hurt a lot more than it sounded," Angel said truthfully, "Felt like they were peeling my skin away with a blowtorch."

"Great imagery," Cordy said, wrinkling her nose.

"Happy to oblige," Angel said with a crooked grin.

"Is that what it felt like to you, Faith?" Wesley asked, feeling a bit twitchy around the Slayer who had so recently tortured him.

"Not really," she answered, "Just felt trapped. Speaking of trapped, I'm going to patrol again. This standing around is too much for me."

Gunn stood, pretending to not be excited about joining her but since he had spent the last ten minutes staring at her ass in her leather pants, no one was surprised when he volunteered to join her.

Angel tried to join the research but he was having a hard time sitting still. Buffy had been outside with Riley way too long now and he was beginning to get nervous again. He didn't understand why he had so little confidence when it came to her, but she blew away a piece of his sanity every second she was gone. Finally, unable to sate his curiosity, he made his way back into the kitchen to replaster himself to the back door.


i got a big crush on you, it is crushing my mind.
can i follow you home and listen to you think?

Gunn and Faith strolled along the streets and back alleys of Sunnydale. Inches apart but not touching, they both itched for more than one kind of action. Just behind the burnt out shell of Sunnydale High, they stumbled upon three vampiric members of The Order.

"You know," Faith said with a smile playing on her lips, "I'm kinda insulted that all you boys want is the other Slayer. Maybe blondes do have more fun."

Gunn grinned and shook his head before launching at the undead Taraka members that attacked them. Misjudging the larger being, Gunn took a uppercut to the stomach, which caused him to groan loudly. A second to recover was too long and the vampire kicked him to the ground. The demon's fangs grazed his neck before he regrouped and staked him, coughing through the dust that settled on his face.

"Thought you were supposed to be tough," Faith called out to him as she took on the other two.

"Staked him, didn't I?" Gunn said as he hurried over to help her. Staking them both in rapid succession, Faith turned to him before he made it over to her.

"Damn that was good," she said, bending her neck to the side, causing a sensual arch in her neck, "Been out of the game for too long."

"Doesn't look like it slowed you down any," Gunn said, looking around at the ruins they stood in, "What's this place?"

"Use to be Sunnydale High School."

"What happened?"

"Buffy graduated," Faith said with a smile but her eyes were dark with the memory.



i know he's watching me. i can see him through the cracks
his eyes are small and shy on my back.

Riley had barely gotten out of the yard before Angel came bounding out the front door. Scooping Buffy into his arms he kissed her passionately and didn't pause to let her gather her bearings as he covered one breast with his large hand and began kissing down her neck.

"What's come over you?" She gasped.

"He was touching you," Angel said, sucking at her scar, "Made me crazy."

"I'm your girl," she said as he backed her against the side of the house and tucked a hand down the front of her pants, "And we should...oh God...um...go inside...."

Plunging a finger inside her and circling her clit with his thumb, he sucked her words into his mouth, pinching her nipple roughly with the other hand. Grunting in frustration, he tore her shirt away with one hand, taking her bra away with it and sucked her delicious flesh into his mouth. Plunging a second finger inside her heat, he moved down her stomach, dipping into her belly button.

"Angel..." she panted, moving against his hand as he moved back up her body, "Have... togoinsiderightnow..."

"I need to be inside you, love," he whispered against her neck, his cold breath causing shivers down her spine as his fingers created waves of pleasure all over her body. Taking her lips in his, his tongue battled with hers as he pressed her against the house, his fingers strumming her into a violent orgasm. She clamped her thighs over his hand as she convulsed against him.

Footsteps nearby caused Angel to pull his hand away and hug her to his chest so that her nakedness was not visible. He kissed her and checked out of the corner of his eye for the intruder. Seeing no one, he broke away and looked around them. Still nothing. Angel, completely focused on his Slayer, muttered something under his breath which Buffy did not hear but understood as sexual frustration.

She squealed as he scooped her into his arms, ran around the side of the house and leapt up to her window, not bothering with the tree. Ducking inside the open window, he ripped the rest of her clothes away with a growl that caused heat to flow freely through her body. Pressing her bare ass against the cool glass, he fumbled to free himself and pressed into her urgently.

She perched on the window sill and wrapped her legs around him as he moved inside her, a low growl rumbling in his chest and vibrating through her body as he made love to her. With the force of their movements, Buffy idly wondered if they would break the window and go tumbling into the yard below. Sheathed inside her, he moved them over to the bed and laid her down, as if he had read her thoughts.

When she came again, the force of her climax and the intensity of her heat was so great, Angel had to bite his lip to keep from changing into game face and sinking into her neck. As he came inside her, he contained the roar but not the growl.


i have her in me. i want to peel off my skin, let the water wash in

Riley moved away from the shadows when Angel pulled his naked ex-girlfriend from the window and his sight. He could hear her pants of pleasure plainly as he walked away, head bowed in defeat. He had tried everything to keep her and couldn't believe that he had lost her, that she would actually choose a demon over him. One thing was certain, the vampire made guttural sounds erupt from her full lips like none he had ever heard. The force of their lovemaking rang clearly through the night air as he wandered away.

Riley had made it far beyond earshot and was rambling aimlessly around half hoping some vampire would catch him off guard and take him out of his misery, when a vampire did happen along. He turned to face the vampire in question, who was in full game face and snarling wildly.

This vampire didn't just want any man's blood. He wanted Riley's. Riley moved into a defensive stance, preparing for the first blow when he was swept off his feet. A large black boot planted on his chest, crushing his sternum.

"What do you want?" Riley gasped.

"You...dead," the demon snarled.


i am a work in progress dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding
offering me intricate patterns of questions, rhythms that never come clean
and strengths that you still haven't seen

Spike laid next to Harmony in bed, recovering from mind blowing sex, when the realization hit him. He bolted upright in bed and scrambled to get back into his clothes.

"Where are you going Spikey?" She asked, laying unashamed and naked in his bed.

"It can't be," he said, rushing from the crypt, leaving his challenged lover with a confused look in her blue eyes.

Spike ran across town, through Sunnydale University campus and past it. The old building did not miss him and the weight of his steps caused the floor to groan in concession. He snuck inside, creeping along the wall.

The ten blue demons stood around their master.

"Has Angelus killed the Slayer yet?" He asked, his eyes demanding submission.

"No," they answered in unison.

"Why not?"

"He must first complete the cycle of insanity," Their voices answered together in a choir of harmonized English sounding slurs, "His love for The Slayer is too great for him to kill her. He must first betray her. When her fury for his betrayal arrives, he will not be able to stop himself."

"You're certain?"

"Love, you will find, does not conquer all."

"Let's hope you're right."


make them twitch around their eyes until they realize they just don't realize

Buffy sat up in bed, feeling the cold settle around her. The window sent a chilling breeze into the room and Angel's absence did nothing to abate the briskness. She closed the window and dressed quickly. Downstairs, Angel was nowhere to be found, but the team seemed to be discussing excitedly the most recent research.

"Hey Buffy," Willow said with a blush covered her fair face.

"Hey," Buffy answered, recognizing the blush for what it was, "Have you guys seen Angel?"

"From the sound of it," Xander said with a grin, "I thought he was with you."

"He was but he's gone," she said, ignoring his comment.

"He didn't come through here, Buffy," Giles said, trying to forget both the sounds and Xander's mention of them, "However, we have found the key to the ten demons that have been attacking."

"What are they?" She asked, jumping to attention and momentarily forgetting her embarrassment.

"It appears that they are not ten but one," Giles said, cleaning his glasses and peering through them before placing them back on his face, "Much like the Sequoia grove, they share the same, ah, root structure of sorts."


"I'd like to second that ‘huh,'" Xander added.

"They appear to be ten, but are so psychically connected they are actually one being."

"Oh," Buffy said, settling on the couch next to Xander, which seemed to be the confusion zone, "What were they trying to do to Angel?"

Giles shifted uncomfortably and began to open his mouth, but found that Wesley jumped to the rescue, "They have the ability to partially possess a soul and we think that they may have done that to Angel. The effects are not immediate."

"Partially. How do you kinda possess someone?"

"It's akin to hypnotic suggestion," Giles explained, "They can urge like a conscience but not control."

"So he might be out having urges to do bad stuff, like Angelus-type stuff?" Xander asked, worried.

"Perhaps," Wesley answered.

"Perhaps, I need to find him," Buffy said, rising from her seat, "Where's Faith?"

"Out hunting with Gunn," Willow answered.

"Don't tell her Angel might not be so good," she said, her eyes dead serious, "I don't want him staked before we get to the bottom of this."

"I thought you trusted her now," Tara said.

"I'm working on that," Buffy said, heading towards the door, "But I'm not taking any chances."


i never avert my eyes, i never compromise, so never mind the poetry

Riley woke to find himself chained to the wall in what looked to be a small apartment and in front of him was a very large vampire, leaning casually back in an armchair.

"Where are we?" Riley asked, groaning at the sound of his own voice slamming bullets into his pounding head.

"My old apartment," Angel answered, wiping dust of the arm of his chair, "Been gone for awhile."

"What are you planning to do? Kill me? Torture me? Buffy may not love me, but I don't think she'd be okay with this."

"You might have been The Slayer's lapdog, God knows you don't have a mind of your own, but me - I'm just fine with doing things my way," Angel said, lazily hauling himself from the chair.

"I knew you were evil. Great acting job, by the way," Riley sneered.

"Oh, I think you're confused," Angel said, pulling a knife from his pocket and twirling the blade on his index finger, "I'm not evil. I'm just getting revenge on the fucker who touched my mate."

"Your mate?" Riley asked incredulously, "You've got to be kidding me! You talk like she belongs to you."

"She does belong to me boy," Angel said, taking a step closer, "And by the end of the night, you'll understand that."

Riley watched Angel's eyes closely. A soldier taught to observe all things in a battle situation, he knew lucidity could be easily ascertained by the eyes. That worked well for humans - demons, however, were a completely different story. Angel's eyes were dilating and undilating so slowly, it was almost too subtle to notice. Almost. What wasn't subtle was the color of them. They were shifting from brown to gold to blue and back again like slides in a projector. Anger and possessiveness shot out from them and nowhere inside his glare was mercy or sanity. Riley slowly realized that he was going to die.

"She...she doesn't belong to you, Angel," Riley said, "You're crazy. Look at yourself. Do you really think this won't upset Buffy?"

"She'll get over you," Angel whispered cruelly, "I'll wipe her tears away. Won't take long for her to forget about you completely."

"She'll never forgive you," Riley warned, feeling his hands begin to shake.

"You'd be surprised of what Buffy is capable of forgiving me for," Angel said, stepping closer once more until he was foot away from him. He took the knife and made one sweeping, shallow slice down Riley's face, watching the blood jump to the surface with pleasure.

"So you're going to torture me first, huh?" Riley asked with mock bravado.

"Of course. Guess she didn't tell you quite enough about me."

"I know what I need to know."


"Yes," Riley said, with hate streaming from his eyes at the vampire who took his love and was about to take his life, "Whether I live or die, we both lose her."


but there's nothing like looking at your own history in the faces of your friends

"Spike," the leader said, pivoting at the blonde vampire who dissolved from the shadows at the sound of his name, "We've been waiting for you to join us."

"I didn't come to join you," he said with a set jaw and even more settled anger.

"Yes, you did," came a purr from the corner. Spike turned his head and froze. A familiar mix of hate, love and fear crept over his muscular body. He didn't move or speak. He couldn't.



Chapter Five

i wake up in the darkness and i don't have the will anymore to wonder
everyone has a skeleton and a closet to keep it in and you're mine

"Drusilla," Spike gasped, staring in the mad eyes of his true mate. Her red dress floated around her as she crossed the room, its color betraying her plans, her madness, her true self. He stood, planting his feet solidly in the rotting floor beneath him as she came closer and closer.

"Spike, I'm so glad you're finally here," she said, as she closed the distance between them. Her delicate beauty beckoned his heart to release its fear. For all her conniving evil, she was still the most precious childe of darkness, glittering like a lost jewel in a world of murky shadows.

"I didn't know you were here," he stuttered as she wrapped her arms around him.

"I knew you would

come," she said, leaning her head to the side in an attempt to make his blues eyes sharpen in her churlish gaze. She straightened again and whispered, "We going to make everything all right again. The Hellmouth, it sings for us. It prepares to dance for you and me."

Dru's red lips were plump apples of the future and Spike took a bite. He crushed his fingers into her narrow back and delved into her mouth, feeling as if she really could make everything right again. He felt her manicured nails lightly tracing his neck as she returned the kiss.

"You've forgotten who you are," she whispered as she broke from him, "I'm going to remind you."

"Much has changed," a familiar voice rang out, reminding Spike that there were others in the room.


we discovered we are both pleasantly furious half of the time when we're not just toeing the line

Gunn and Faith headed back to the Summers' home, nestled on tree lined Revello Drive.

"I used to dream of living on a street like this," Faith said wistfully, not really noticing that she was voicing dreams to someone who was nearly a complete stranger, "in a house like Buffy's with a mom like hers."

"Me too," Gunn said, smiling at her surprised look, "What? You think I grew up with the Brady Bunch?"

"I don't know," Faith said, her brow wrinkling with thought, "I guess I kinda figured you were from a good home. You act like...you were loved."

"I was," he said, pain creeping into his voice, "My sister, Alanna and I were orphans. She loved me."


"She was killed."

"By...by who? Vampires? Is that why you're in this gig?" she asked, slightly tightening her grip on his hand without realizing it as she waited for his answer.

"First by vampires, then by me," he answered, hanging his head in shame, as if there was something to be ashamed of. Deep in his heart, he would never forgive himself for what happened to his little sister. It was his job to protect her and keep her safe and he failed. Utter failure was achieved with her death unlike any that he had ever experienced before and he knew that no other pain would affect him that way again. He smiled sadly at The Slayer by his side and watched her lean forward as they walked to catch his eyes. He couldn't help but feel guilty even for staking his sister. She was a demon, yes, but no matter her constitution, she was still his family. And he reduced her to a pile of ashes.

"You realize that wasn't your fault, right?" Faith asked, being the local expert, next to Angel, on self blame. She felt guilt for a million things. So many, in fact, that she had almost begun categorizing her pain and placing priority on her guilt. Some things were simply unavoidable and she had to learn that the hard way.

"Yeah," he lied, not meeting her eyes. Faith stopped cold and yanked on his hand, forcing him to turn and face her.

"It wasn't your fault," she repeated forcefully, "Some things are just not possible to control. She was killed by a demon. You can blame yourself for not being there but you can't be everywhere at once. The thing you killed was the demon who killed her, not your sister."

"I know," he said nodding, meeting her eyes, even though he wanted nothing more to shrug her off and run away.

"No, you don't," she said angrily, finding more eloquence than she had ever been able to muster. Something in Gunn made her stronger and weaker, less afraid and terrified, "I know blame and you're it. You a walking heap of blame."

"She was my sister," he muttered, lost in the big brown eyes of the ex-rogue Slayer.

"She became a demon," Faith said coldly, her chest heaving as she forced out the words, as if in saving Gunn, she could somehow save herself, "You have nothing to atone for...unlike me. You're good. Don't talk yourself out of it."

"Someday..." he started.

"I can see why you hide this part of yourself," she snapped, "You're helpless here in this state of mind. I could break you...and a year ago I would have. Right now I just feel like breaking your nose."

"Then break it Slayer," he said, rising to a grin and thankful for the change in tempo of the conversation.

"I might," she said, smiling back, "But I'll wait until you're not expecting it."

She leaned forward the few inches it took to kiss his lips and felt like a giddy, timid school girl, flirting with the popular boy. She hadn't actually liked someone like this in a very long time. His lips were soft and sweet and he slid his hands to her hips. Just the weight of his large hands lingering over her hips was more intimate than most of the sex she had had. This beautiful man made her feel like maybe, just maybe, she was worth something.

"Well that was unexpected," he said against her lips before taking a long pull on them again.

"I'm just full of surprises," she said with a smile against his mouth. His skin was warm and inviting underneath her fingers. She pressed against him as they kissed, not knowing what to do next. He drove and she sat shotgun. For the first time in her life, she allowed a man control.

"I like it," he said, thanking his lucky stars for the Slayer molding herself around him. He sucked in her energy and began to sizzle with it as he pulled her tighter in his arms. He wasn't only attracted to her, he felt like he had finally found what he had been looking for.


gravity is nothing to me. i'm moving at the speed of sound.
i'm just gonna get my feet wet until i drown.

Buffy felt dizzy and her thoughts were murky as she ran toward Angel's old apartment. She knew that's where he was. She remembered the pull that place used to have. The apartment, which rested in the basement of an old building across town, was like a treasure of pain waiting to be cracked open. Every step that took her closer to the place where she lost her virginity in Angel's arms, where she released the demon that killed Jenny Calendar, was regret in motion.

Tears began blurring her vision as she went, thinking about the sanity that was unraveling inside her lover as she went. She knew that this too was her fault. The Order of Taraka was doing this to make her weaker and it was working. Angel, once again, was suffering because of her and soon, she knew, others would suffer for it as well. Angel was capable of things that made her skin crawl and even though she knew it wasn't Angelus that was being unleashed, she had no idea what this new side of him could do.

Her mind began to slowly uncoil inside itself as well as she stumbled forward. She knew that she would drown in her own dementia if something happened to him. She wouldn't be able to stand the pain that he would create inside her. She picked up the pace as she thought about the impending danger. Her Angel was slipping. She could feel it well up inside her and came back with a burning terror that was cropping away her wits.


you can't get through it. you can't get over it.
you can't get around. just like in a dream
you'll open your mouth to scream and you won't make a sound

Riley watched Angel's movements closely as he felt the blood dripping from his cheek. He knew next to nothing about Angel and Spike was not very helpful in his descriptions of the vampire, but Spike did tell briefly about Angel being "The Scourge of Europe." He wasn't sure how much of what the peroxide vampire said was true, but his words about how darkly evil and vicious he had been before he regained his soul, made Riley begin to quake with fear. He did not want to die today, not by the hands of Buffy's lover. He would rather be killed by Spike than Angel.

In spite of his better judgement, he couldn't help but keep his mind to running back to Buffy. She wouldn't be able to handle it if the demon she loved killed him. Riley knew Buffy well enough to know that.

Meanwhile, Angel was trying to clear the mental clutter that was attacking his mind, but he could only come up with the same thing - Riley had to be punished. The thought had first come to him when he was making love to Buffy after she broke up with the soldier. The thought of her lying naked beneath the boy, accepting him inside her, admitting him access, made Angel furious. Somewhere inside his mind, the rational, peaceable thoughts tried to break in but they were turned away, forlorned.

Darkness invaded every light thought of his lover and he found his anger beginning to turn on her as well. Here lies the dark contradiction, the terrible conflict of the love he had for her and the anger he felt toward her actions. He could not remember that he left her for a normal life or that Riley was just an innocent bystander in his hurricane of emotions. He would force the accused to confess to his crimes and Angel couldn't wait to step into the role of the torturer. He wanted so badly to punish and punish...

And punish.

"You know," Angel said smoothly, his voice betraying no tremble of unbalance and yet, the words themselves divulged the fact, "Two thousand years ago, the Chinese acupuncture needles were made of stone."

"Oh really?" Riley spat sarcastically, looking around the room for a possible escape and pulling roughly on the chains that kept him braced against the wall.

"Yes," Angel smoothed, ignoring the tone of his victim's tone of voice. He lifted the glass incasement that held one of his most precious possessions, an ancient marble statue, and wondered why he had left it behind. Resting at the bottom of the case were a group of long stone needles. Angel scooped them up gently and held them up for Riley to see.

"These are called bion stones," Angel explained, as if he were talking to a history class, "There was no iron casting in ancient times, as I'm sure you know. Rather exquisite craftsmanship, wouldn't you say? I found them on my travels in China just after The Opium War."

Angel sighed in the memory, "That was some serious chaos."

"Acupuncture was used for medical reasons," Riley tried to reason, looking at the long needles with fear, "They were used to heal, not hurt people."

"Aye," Angel said, falling into his old brogue as his mind slipped away a little further and crossed the room, pushing one of the implements into and through Riley's shoulder. He kept talking as Riley screamed, ignoring the grating shouts of pain, "They are when used correctly but I forget the procedures exactly. It was such a long time ago. Maybe you'll remind me."

"You can't kill me," Riley gasped, heaving for breath to calm the pain. He looked over at the thin piece of stone protruding through his shoulder and touching the wall behind him.

"The colonials," Angel explained, his Irish accent becoming thicker as he spoke, "Were idiots. They thought bion stones were weapons and used them as such after the fall of the Qing Dynasty. Many innocent Chinese people were harmed with these fun little sticks."

Angel pushed another all the way through Riley's other shoulder and shuddered with pleasure. He pinned one of the boy's hands into the wall behind him.

"Buffy won't understand this," Riley said, attempting once again to get at the source of the vampire's unbeating heart, "She's going to find us soon and she'll not forgive this."

Angel cocked his head as if listening but was actually feeling. He was feeling her approach, "She's already on her way."

"How would you know?" Riley said, hoping to God that he was right.

"I feel her," Angel whispered, pushing another bion stone through the boy's other hand, "We're connected."

"She feels you too?" Riley asked.

"Yes," Angel mused, watching the blood drip from the boy hungrily, "Interesting, isn't it? She probably already knows I'm not behaving. She can feel me scratching at her mind. But we're off track aren't we? I have a lot to accomplish before my love arrives and breaks up the fun."

"She's not yours," Riley repeated, hoping to break sense into the psychosis that the vampire was trapped in, "or she won't be after she sees this."

Angel pushed another needle through Riley's upper arm, loving the give of flesh against stone, "Oh, I don't know. I think I make her forget eventually. See you misunderstand. This isn't just plain evil or sadism, this is punishment. Torture just isn't about pain or my banal amusement, which is abundant, I can assure you, it's about a masterful recreation of history, it's about transforming old techniques into new art. This isn't about Buffy. This is about you. You touched something that was mine. You need to be punished. It's that simple."

"It is about Buffy," Riley groaned as another needle pierced his thigh. His head was beginning to swim as the pain took over and he found himself forcing the words out, "It's about your crazy possession of her. I think you forgot that you left her a long time ago. I was what she needed."

"Not anymore," Angel said, sitting back in his chair to admire his work. Buffy would be here soon and he had to think about how he wanted to proceed. Should he kill Riley before she was able to save him or should he make her watch while he performed the deed? Tough decisions were definitely on the way.


there's a changing constellation

"Giles," Willow said lightly, beckoning the Watcher to her side to look at the book before her, "I think we have a problem."

"What is it, Willow?" Giles said, leaning to look over her shoulder at the text opened on the dining room table before her.

"Those demons might not have just caused Angel to go insane," Willow said, clouding with worry as she spoke.

"Oh dear," Giles admitted as his eyes quickly scanned the small type.

"What?" Xander asked, making his way to the pair of book worms, while munching nervously on a twinkie.

"It appears that since the demons are psychically connected, their spells are too," Giles explained, still skimming the page.

"So, since Angel and Wesley are connected," Willow said, "Buffy might be infected by the spell as well."

"Precisely," Giles said, "Which means-"

"We gotta find Buffy before she teams up with Angel," Xander finished

"Can you imagine what will happen if they are both essentially..insane?" Giles asked, finally looking over the nervous group.

"The strongest Slayer in history and the Scourge of Europe side by side reeking havoc on a Hellmouth that is about to open..." Wesley mused, staring wide eyed at his fellow British Watcher who nodded with emphasis.

"We gotta find Buffy right now," Xander said, crossing the room to find the weapons trunk.

"Oh yeah," Cordy said standing and following him over.

"Willow and Tara," Giles said, over his shoulder as he headed to join the couple at the weapon's trunk, "look for a spell to reverse this and please hurry."

Faith and Gunn entered the house as the commotion was beginning. Coralled into the forthcoming fray, they grabbed weapons and followed the group back into the night.


yeah, i would like to perfect the art of being studiously aloof
like life is just a boring chore and i am living proof

Spike turned at the voice, and tossed an arm around Dru, that appeared aloof and casual.

"Penn," Spike said, "Thought you were dust, mate."

"Wolfram and Hart are remarkably talented at raising the dead."

"Grandmummy's next," Dru announced excitedly beside him, clapping her hands like a child.

"Right then," Spike said, holding Dru tightly, as if her strength could be borrowed through her skin, "What are you crazies up to now?"

"Well that depends," Penn said, his hands templed like Angelus and his eyes cold as ever.

"On what?"

"You, Spike," Penn said, "You have a choice. We can remove your chip and you can rejoin our ranks or you can hang on The Slayer's coat tails and die with her, Angelus and their little friends."

"You can remove the bloody chip?" Spike nearly yelled.

"Our friends can," He answered, his hand fluttering to The Ten at his right side.

"We can be together again," Drusilla droned in a light tranced voice, "We can play and hunt again. And when we kill The Slayer, you will be mine again."

Spike stood, pausing before his family and the ten. He chased his mind around in his head as he thought about his love for Buffy and his love for Drusilla and more importantly, the kill. Everything could be as it was. He met his brother's eyes with seriousness and dedication, "Get the damn chip out of my head and we'll get to business."

Penn looked intently at Spike for a long moment before looking over at the ten and nodding. Dru stepped away from him as the ten approached. The power streaming off of them was making Spike's entrails shift inside his gut. They surrounded him and their minds crushed into his. He released a blood curdling scream as they ripped inside his brain.


it's half an inch from here to the other side

Buffy was out of breath and covered with a fine sheen of sweat when she made it into the old building and to Angel's door. She didn't bother knocking but turned the knob and finding it unlocked, walked inside. Angel was waiting on the other side of the threshold and pulled her roughly into his arms. His kisses were crazed and urgent and she responded with just as much imprudent compulsion.

She heard a muffled cry coming from the side of the room and tried to turn her head to look, but Angel turned her away and pressed her harder against him. Pulling her back into a kiss, she was momentarily lost in him. Her thoughts were so muddled, bouncing back and forth between Angel's hard body demanding hers to respond and the cries growing louder and more frequent behind her. Finally, she ripped herself away and turned to see the bloody body of her ex-boyfriend, artfully tortured and weak by her current one.

"Oh my God, Riley," Buffy wheezed as she looked over his body, which was sagging against the wall and shaking in constant pain.

"I was just having a little chat with your ex-lover," Angel said, settling back into his arm chair, "But I think I've made my point."

"I can see that," Buffy blurted as she hurried across the room to him. She stopped cold in front of him, meeting his anguished eyes, thinking about how to handle the situation.

"Don't keep me waiting, lover," Angel crooned, inspecting her actions closely, "The sooner this is over, the sooner I can make love to you again."

"Keep you waiting for what?" Buffy asked, casting her hazel eyes over at him.

"I wanna see you pull the stones out," he answered, "It's half the fun and you're entitled to half, baby."

Buffy looked back at Riley and knew that the stones had to be removed either way. "This is gonna hurt...a lot." Buffy said, biting her lip as she reached out for the first one, still deliberating on how she was going to get Angel out of this without killing him.

"No shit," Riley sneered and then screamed as she pulled out the first.

Angel came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Mmmm..." he hummed as he kissed her neck, "You look so hot doing that...course you usually do."

Buffy took a deep breath, trying to focus on Riley but was swayed toward her demon as she pulled out the second stone.

"Angel," she moaned briefly closing her eyes, allowing the two priceless stones to slip from her hands and break on the floor, as he cupped her breasts, kissed her neck and pressed his arousal into her round ass. Riley looked on in shock as the worry disappeared from her face and was replaced by a more exact madness, matching her lover's.

"Buffy," Riley pleaded, causing her to look up at him, "He's making you crazy. Look what he's done to me! Help me, set me free and I'll get you away from here."

Angel's eyes narrowed in anger and he pulled the other two stones out roughly, making sure they made a larger, twisting hole with their exit. He then reached down, moving his hands over her hips and pulled her back, harder against him.

"She's wet for me," Angel said, nibbling on her neck, but not moving his eyes from her ex-lover, "Strange that she doesn't even care what I did to you. All she wants is to be fucked...by me."

Buffy felt dizzy and could barely make Angel's words coherent in her mind. All she did want was to be fucked. She couldn't see the bloody commando before her. All she could feel was Angel, blanketing her back, pressing his need into her, holding on to her.

"Buffy," Angel said, turning her away from the victim and towards him. He kissed her deeply, growling at her earnest response and smelling the arousal erupting from her slight body.

"Fuck me, lover," he growled.

"Yes," she whispered as he led her to his bed. He pulled her down, settling over her clothed body and between her still covered legs. She fumbled in her pocket as he ground between her legs, claiming her lips with animalistic growls that were making her wetter with each sound. She wanted him so badly, she could barely think straight and for a second she forgot about what was n her pocket, but as her fingers felt the wooden stake, she remembered. She pulled it out, whispering her undying devotion as she pressed back up against him.

Angel pulled her shirt and bra up, so he could suckle her breasts. He nibbled on them and making her forget again for long minutes. She clutched the wood as pleasure took over her body and remembered her mission once more.

"You really going to stake me, love?" He asked, not looking up from her breasts or stopping his giving of pleasure. Riley looked on wide eyed, begging the gods to give her strength.


i make a pot of coffee while catastrophe awaits me out on the lawn

Tara made it her job to refill Willow's coffee cup every time she took a sip because she was so nervous she could barely see the words on the page of her book. Willow was nearly hyperventilating as she searched for a spell that would reverse the effects The Ten had on Angel and possibly Buffy.

Wesley and Tara, who were the only ones left in the house, were very aware that Willow was the most brilliant in the Scooby core and probably all of Sunnydale, as well as a great bulk of Los Angeles, but they had yet to see her this focused, channeling every bit of her mind into her task. Her eyes flipped over the words on the page at a lightning speed and she magickcally turned the pages with her mind. She used magick again when she finished another fruitless volume, sending each book aside atop a neat pile to her side.

Neither of the two onlookers found that they could research with the redheaded witch in the room. The lights began to flicker as nervous power leaked from her very skin. Her hair was nearly standing on end and she stood, unable to sit any longer. The book floated up to her acceptable eye level and she continued reading. Her eyes turned an inky black and Tara began to fear her girlfriend's mental health until Willow sank back to her chair and pointed limply at a passage on the page.

"This is it," she mumbled weakly, "Need supplies."

Tara and Wesley congregated around her and looked at the spell. It was perfect and consequently required supplies that were attainable across town at The Magic Box. All except for one, which was not so easily accessible.

"Fantastic," Wesley muttered in dismay. He wandered to the phone and stood over it, thinking of who to call and how to get the key ingredient.


tell me what you gonna do now that you're free

Spike felt like a pin ball in a machine, bouncing in the air, attacked by ten blue minds, surrounding him. He wasn't sure if he should trust them but knew it was too late as they crushed him and dug into him like starved vultures. He was certain after twenty minutes of pure torture that his head was no longer attached to his body or at least the top of his skull wasn't.

Finally, after a century of pain, they stepped away and he slammed to the floor in a crumpled heap of undead misery. He laid there in the fetal position, groaning and was pulled to his feet by Dru, who held him by the scruff as if he were a kitten. She held him so his feet weren't touching the ground and looked into his eyes, with her innocent evil inquisitiveness he used to love so much, "Spike? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, baby," he said and felt her lower him to his feet, "But I think those bastards hurt me just a little more than they needed to."

"They want to have some fun too," Penn said, leaning against the wall with a smile. He nodded at the dark figure at the doorway.

"We got a victim here for you to kill," Penn said, casually, "You know, to see if it worked."

His minion dragged a resisting form into the room and Spike's eyes settled on Xander. It was the moment of truth.



Chapter Six

see how long our swan song can last

Angel ignored the stake hanging in the air behind his back and continued a trail down Buffy's stomach, making a brief pit stop at her delicious navel and continued to the waist band of her jeans. His confidence hummed through his body as he bathed in her glow. He knew she wouldn't stake him. He never had a single doubt of her ability to kill him - or lack thereof.

She couldn't see his eyes flashing from brown to gold to blue, but she did see the blue illumination reflecting off of her skin periodically. His hands and tongue were torturous pleasure on her flesh and she breathed deeply. Raising her stake, she lifted her head and looked down at the greatest love she had ever known.

"I love you, Angel," she whispered. He stopped unbuttoning her jeans and looked up at her, eyes widening with the realization of her next action.

"Buffy," he whispered through tearful eyes, "I love you, please don't-"

His words were stopped with the downswing of the stake, thumping the back of his head and knocking him unconscious. She slipped out from under him and tried to control the tremors in her body. She kissed him gently and whispered a brief apology as she straightened her clothes. Turning, she hurried to Riley's side and set about releasing him from his chains.

"I thought you were going to kill him," Riley said, sagging against her once he was released.

"So did he for a second," she said, pulling his arm over her shoulder to support him.

"He seemed so sure you wouldn't," Riley said with confusion, "Why did he realize it when you said you loved him?"

"Because," she whispered, blinking back the blue in her eyes, trying to control the insanity that was trying to take over and the tears that were closer to winning, "That was what I said the last time I killed him."

"Oh," Riley said, as they made their way out of the building, "I thought he was almost unstoppable. For a second there, I thought we both were going to die."

"Well," Buffy sighed, "When it comes right down to it, Angel's only true weakness is me."


we subdivide into sexes and shades
this side, that side

Spike caught Xander as he was tossed at him and held the dark haired friend of The Slayer in his hands. Knowing he could finally taste warm blood spurting from the neck of a live human turned his face and elongated his fangs. He was still weighing the ups and downs of his actions as he bit into Xander's throat and tasted the red delicious delicacy.

Spike, a voice echoed in his head. He stopped drinking and waited, holding onto Xander's terrified body, which no longer struggled. Xander breathed shaky breaths, daring to hope that he would live and walk out of this building.

Spike, the voice repeated, this time Spike identified it as Red's, so he waited for her to continue, We need you to save Buffy and Angel. There's an ingredient to a spell we are missing. We need you to get it.

"Bloody hell," Spike muttered under his breath and looked down at the treat in his hands, a warm bloody treat that held a stake in his hand. Spike yanked the stake from Xander's hand, roughly pushed him aside and flung it across the room. It burrowed in Penn's heart and he exploded to dust. "Traitor," Penn said as he quickly dissipated.

The Ten shivered and stepped forward, causing Spike to stop cold and stare at them in terror. He knew all too well what they could do to him. They seemed to bend in an imaginary wind, sway in a false tornado and finally spun into nothing.

"What the hell was that, pet?" He asked, turning to a very pissed off vampiress.

"You killed him," she whispered, swaying in the aftershock of the Penn's disappearance and The Ten's recent vacation.

"He was going to hurt you," Spike said, stepping forward, trying to talk her into a calm.

"You'll never remember, will you Spike? Will you?" She whispered, eyes large with pain.

"I'll remember, love," he said, pulling a dazed Xander to his feet, "I promise."

With that he ran from the room, dragging Xander along with him.


my whole life blew up and now it's all coming down

Buffy hurried toward the hospital with Riley, who refused the trip.

"Just take me to your house," he said, "I'll be fine if I can bandage these wounds. We have a Hellmouth to keep from opening."

Reluctantly, she nodded and changed direction, which revealed a group of her friends running in her direction with weapons ready. Giles, Cordelia, Faith and Gunn stopped in front of them and looked at the couple with confusion.

"Where's Angel?" Gunn asked, looking over the bloody ex-boyfriend.

"At his old apartment," Buffy said, "Knocked out cold."

As she finished her last word, she felt The Ten's removal from her mind and she moaned with their dismissal. She leaned against the soldier she was holding up and they both nearly fell over. Giles stepped forward quickly and steadied them.

"Are you okay?" The Watcher asked, searching his Slayer's eyes.

"I think The Ten," she said and then stopped to think, "I don't know. Somehow they got in my head too but I think they just went away."

She shook her head in confusion and looked over at Riley, whose blood was dripping onto her.

"Um, where's Xander?" Cordy asked, looking around when he offered no sarcastic comment at the situation.


i didn't really notice when everything else disappeared
but as far as i'm concerned if it isn't her it isn't here

Spike pulled a stumbling Xander towards Buffy's house. His mind zig zagged from Drusilla to Buffy and when Xander pulled roughly away from him, he stopped lost in his thoughts. He could have had an eternity with his dark queen, reigning in blood by her side. He could have gone back to the time when he was truly happy. Now he wasn't sure that happiness was even remotely possible. He couldn't have Buffy and now he lost Dru, again.

"You fucking asshole," Xander swore, holding his neck.

"I didn't kill you," Spike said, rolling his eyes at the boy's human weakness, "so stop your bloody blubbering."

"You bit me," Xander shouted, announcing the obvious as they headed side by side to Buffy's house.

"I saved your soddin' hide, is what I did."

"You could have done that without taking a little taste. I always knew you thought I was a nummy treat!"

"You're human," Spike answered, "All humans are nummy damn treats. But in this case, I needed the element of surprise and besides being a bleedin' happy meal with legs, you gave me the chance to kill Angel's other Childe."

"Angel was that guy's Sire?"

"Couldn't you tell just by looking at the hack? All he needed was a little more hair gel and he would've become Angelus."

Xander shuddered at the memory of other blonde vampire, whose absence had recently blessed the earth.


you can try to train me like a pet
you can try to teach me to behave
but i'll tell you, if i haven't learned it yet
i ain't gonna sit, i ain't gonna stay

Angel sat up in bed and shook the daze from his pounding head. If he had a reflection he would seen that his eyes were completely blue, glowing indigo and casting a bright light around him. If he had an inkling of sanity left, a tiny shred of himself, he would have realized that Buffy just did what she had to do. But since none of himself remained, he stood and headed for the door. A low snarl escaped him as he went.

Find the bitch. Kill the bitch. Find her kill her. Find kill find kill.

He found the night waiting. It seemed as if it had been night forever. It seemed like the day would never come. He had eternity to find her. Infinity to kill her. He stood still and tried to feel her, to sense her, but he couldn't. None of the love was left that could lead him to her.

Growling in frustration, his wild eyes brightened the path to her house.


you know life has been cruel so wipe that smile off your face baby and try to be cool

One moment they were looking around for Xander and the next they were fighting an army from The Order of Taraka. Buffy couldn't help but wonder where all these demons came from. Where the hell did the Order find them? She found less slimey, smelly things living beneath rocks. She longed for more vampires, who exploded into dust, rather than sludge when killed. Concentrating on the kill, fighting alongside her friends, she forgot to be angry that they had brought Faith along for the Angel-Buffy save-age. The demons seemed to be multiplying or simply appearing out of nowhere. As soon as they killed one, another took his place.

"They're not dying!" Faith yelled as she swung her sword, decapitating another demon and turning her head at the slime that exploded from it. Trying an old favorite, Buffy plunged her sword into the demon's heart and she nearly cried with relief as he died and another did not appear in his place.

"Heart!" Buffy screamed over the din of clashing metal, "You gotta get them in the heart!"

When it all ended, Buffy was slowly realizing that it always came down to the heart. Later while showering off the slime of battle, she cried dirty tears of nothing less than flawless pathos. Riley was covered in wounds, she had recently bandaged. Xander was sporting a scar not unlike her own. The Hellmouth was going to open tonight and it was more than she could take. Angel was alone in his apartment, still insane. She wished that she could harbor the belief that he was okay, that he was Angel lying in his bed but she felt him inside her. She felt in crooked sensations and near caresses of what remained of him, that he was far from right.

She wanted to go after Angel and tie him up or something, but everyone disagreed. Spike was on his way to the Caverns to find the missing Jada root, since only vampires could handle so little oxygen long enough to gather it. The group was carefully planning the evening's activities and she was a spoonful of distilled misery. She stepped from the shower and once in her room, stood in front of the mirror, looking over her naked body. Almost all of her cuts had faded away completely. She never scarred. The only scar that had ever remained was Angel's.

She stepped closer and tipped her head to the side and inspect the mark on her neck. The Master's had faded, but Angel's never did. It was almost as if his love had seared it permanently there. She never told anyone that she was almost proud of it as if the little imperfection was an announcement of her love for him, as if she had chosen for it to remain. She would never admit to it to anyone but Angel and she wasn't even sure that she would make that admission. She would never tell how more than one vampire had seen it and nearly run away in fear. They ran not from her but from Angelus. The Scourge of Europe's mark was a shield of armor against the undead on long nights when her weakness started to show. They all wanted to kill The Slayer and they all were afraid of the master who had marked her.

She turned to her closet and began to slowly dress. Angel was an interesting variable in every situation. He marked her to save himself and in turn saved her. The memory of her life flooding into his mouth was sensual and real. She knew that she would give it again if that was what he needed to go on. She would rather die again than lose him. She would rather die a thousand deaths than feel his loss even for a second.


i am waiting, waiting, waiting

Day came and Angel was wrapped in distinct confusion. He ducked into an abandoned building to await the return of night. Insane, yes, but stupid, no. His body instinctively knew the difference between not being in tune with reality and dying at the sun's dangerous rays.

He growled at the presence of another and turned in the room at the vampiress standing in the shadows.

"My Angel," she whispered, "You're missing."

He growled at her, staring at her delicate neck. This wasn't his chosen prey. He moved toward her, feeling the sensations of his Childe rise up in him. Time to play.


just when you think that you've got enough
enough grows and everywhere that you go in life
enough knows

Every nightmare that Willow had ever had, that didn't include school or public attention, contained the beast that was about to push up from the charred ground of Sunnydale High. She thought about the other times they had faced this thing and wondered how many more times they would survive it, if they would survive it this time, if they would actually kill it this time before they sent it back below to the depths of hell.

She tried to focus over the clanging of weapons around her, outside of the room and inside it. Everyone was brandishing a weapon and engaged in the fight except for herself and Tara. Kneeling side by side at the mouth of hell, they prepared to perform their third spell of the evening. The first was the restoration of Angel's sanity and breaking of The Ten's spell. Well, that was the idea, but it failed miserably, becoming nothing more than green soup and fizzling less than a dying match. She wanted to crawl inside herself and forget the look on Buffy's face when they said they couldn't break the spell. The second was a demon weakening spell on The Hellmouth, which seemed to have slightly more effect, but not a whole lot more. Third times a charm, she hoped, with the spell they were going to perform on the beast that prepared to rise, making the reign of hell on earth...again. The spell was supposed to close the Hellmouth, if they succeeded and even though she had performed it once before, doubt was stronger than experience.

Willow looked over at Tara. Her life was preparing to flash before her eyes and at their dangerous vicinity of the opening of hell, she thought about her decisions in life. She thought about her choice of Tara over Oz. She thought about the sound of his voice when he left, the hoarseness that signified more pain than she ever wanted to cause him or anyone else. What if Tara died tonight? What if it was Oz that was about to die here? What if she died here without her true love by her side?

Her true love.

Oh God. Her eyes widened with a streak of veracity as the ground began to rumble.


i may not be able to change the whole fucking world

Buffy wished that the opening of the Hellmouth was her biggest worry, but since she was flanked on all sides by an eclectic mixture of demons and Angel was still missing in action, she was far from the peace of mind that one impending danger provided. Strange how a Slayer's life puts such an interesting twist on peace. She swung her heavy sword around her, slicing down demons, desperately trying to keep up with the oncoming attacks. Somewhere scattered around the scalded remains of her alma mater, Giles, Wesley, Cordelia, Gunn, Faith, Xander, Riley and Spike all fought to protect the witches who would hopefully close the portal that would suck them all into hell.

The truth was, she thought as her side was impaled by a demon's claws from behind, if there was no saving Angel, what was the point of all this? If she couldn't have a normal life with a normal boy, if she couldn't have Angel, if she couldn't find anything remotely resembling happiness, what was she fighting for? Where was justice and hope, god dammit? Where was her dark lover in his world of infirmity?

The ground began to rumble as she dislodged the demon from her skin and kicked him away. Blood seeped through her white shirt, but she had to ignore it as she continued in the battle. Time was beginning to melt, love was freezing over and hell was about to leap up on earth.


i never seen one of your lovers do you so much harm. i loved you first.

Drusilla was laying on the floor, bleeding but not crying as Angel stood and walked toward the door. Her madness had never been so completely rivaled as it had been today by her Sire. He was lovely in his torment and she had no choice but to continue loving him, worshiping him. Darkness fell and Angel had to return to his hunt, find his prey and kill her.

"The Hellmouth," she moaned at the ceiling as Angel made his way to the exit, "it's going to sing tonight. It whispers, psst, psst, psst, it's opening."

Angel smiled in the darkness at his mad Childe and left her bleeding there on the floor. If the Hellmouth sung, he was more than prepared to dance.


life just keeps getting harder and it just keeps getting harder to hide
the darker it is around me the easier it is to see inside

The longer Spike fought with the Scooby gang, the more he wondered why he was bothering. The only reason to fight was to get Buffy and the only reason he thought he might have a chance was because Angel was gone. Of course, since Angel was back, even if it was as a raving lunatic, he knew that the slim chance had been shaved away to nothing. He snapped the neck of a demon and watched him fall in a lifeless heap to the floor.

The hell with this bloody crap, he thought with disgust, the bint and all her wanker friends could fight their own fucking battles.

Spike turned and made his way through the school, down burned hallways he had learned long before. He killed the demons that blocked his path, leaving a trail of scattered bodies behind him, unwittingly helping even as he had decided he no longer would. He was evil, damn it. He had no business trying to keep the Hellmouth from opening. There was a day when he would have rejoiced at the thought of The Slayer's death. All of the whispers in town about him being neutered were right.

What had happened to him? He was drooling over The Slayer, sleeping with Harmony and he didn't even kill the helpless human before when he had a chance. He left Drusilla alone in that broken down building when he should have taken her with him and gone far away from there.

He made his way to where she lay bleeding and in pain and he smiled at her. She was more beautiful when tortured than any other time.

"I remember, baby," he said, looking down at her. Smiling, he picked her up and turned back toward the door.

"Just like you promised," she answered in a child-like voice.

"Yeah, pet," he said, "I'm finally back to where I belong."

"Let's go to Prague," she whispered, "Remember Spike? The mob?"

"Yeah, baby," he crooned, "I remember everything...finally."


if i had any sense i guess i'd fear this

Faith watched Gunn out of the corner of her eye as she fought the rampage of demons around her. The Order of Taraka really outdid itself this time. She hadn't been around for the last time, but she knew from the stories that the others told that it was not even a ripple in their day compared to this.

Gunn was holding his own and in fact, was kinda cute with his face masked in concentration and a cocky grin as he killed the enemy one at a time. She found herself fearing for his life, instead of her own as they were both flanked by demonic members of The Order. The feeling was strange and new, and almost comfortable.

Oh humanity, how she missed you.


i'm at the end of my little rope and i am swinging back and forth about you

Angel's presence threw off Buffy's concentration more than the screaming beast that was emerging from the Hellmouth, more than the demons that were dashing to take her life, more that sounds of skirmish that mimicked off the collapsing walls. She wanted desperately to look around but there was no time.

As her sword clanged to the floor, having been knocked from her hand, she wasn't certain that there was time for anything again. She dove for the weapon, to find that a hoofed foot kicked it away and the leg swung back and busted into her mouth. The force knocked her onto her back. Flipping to her feet, she stood on the ground for a few seconds before three demons took her back down.

Angel was making his way to his love, killing the demons in his way, just as Spike had, intending on finding her and killing her. Somewhere between the doorway and the interruption of her pain, his mind clicked in another insane direction altogether. He howled in anger as her wounds dug into his confused mind. They were killing HIS mate.

His black booted feet moved into a jog, then a run and finally a sprint. He rushed past demons, not feeling their attacks on him or the streams of blood that started to pour from his cold skin. Snatching a sword from one demon's scaley grip, he beheaded him and picked up his run. Over two centuries of honing the skill of battle, 14 wars and countless more fights, Angel did not need to pause while he took down the enemy, which had so quickly changed in the past two minutes.

He mowed them like grass and didn't notice the look on Buffy's friends faces as he breezed past them. They stared at his departure from them, shocked to find the demons they had been fighting lying at their feet in death. Angel made his way to the demons that Buffy was still trying to weakly bat away. She had killed 30 of them already and found it mildly humorous that three would take her life now.

She knew Angel was coming, felt his approach, but had mixed emotions on his intent. Everything was so fuzzy. He was still unbalanced, that was certain, but somewhere in the blood that restained the High School floor, she thought maybe he remembered that he loved her.

And he did. He remembered with a fucking vengeance. He remembered with a kind of ultimate violence that leaves everything in its wake annihilated. All that he could manage to think clearly was that his mate was in danger. All he knew was that if he didn't save her, the muddled thing that he had become would remain forever.

He killed the three demons over his love easily, swiping their heads off one at a time. The ground was shaking so strongly now that it was difficult to stand but he pulled her to her feet and crushed her into his arms.

"Angel," she whispered, sagging against him and weeping with confusion and relief. Demons began moving in around them and Angel growled menacingly. They were trying to take her and he was not going to give up what was his.

"Mine," he growled and raised his sword. Tucking her in behind his muscular back, he began killing them with a vampiric speed and strength that was accelerated by pain, fear and lunacy. The ground stopped trembling and the incensed magick in the air began to float away, but the part that had sank into Angel seemed to stay and grow. The Order of Taraka, knowing that they had failed, were trying to rectify the situation by completing a job that they knew to be fruitless. It didn't matter because Angel was not going to let any of them leave. Everyone who threatened his mate would die here. The Order of Taraka would be decimated tonight by the edge of one of their own swords, held in the undead hands of one very pissed off and crazy vampire.

The Scooby Gang all but stopped their fighting and watched as Angel faced off with The Order. They all knew he was the arch enemy that had to be defeated before they could kill The Slayer. He had already taken out too many of their brethren. None cared about the humans who stood watching on the side with disbelieving eyes. They all faced the vampire and attacked at once. Moments were all that were needed for Angel to kill them all. The Scooby Gang had never seen such fierceness and strength. Slack jawed they watched, along with Buffy who was standing in his wake, as he killed every single one of them, destroying what was left of The Order.

He turned and faced her, meeting her eyes, the blue faded away to the gentle brown she loved so much. Tears sprung into his eyes as his mind snapped clearly back. He pulled her into his arms and began to sob, repeating her name in the same desperate timbre that he had voiced one other time - upon his return from hell.


dig deeper, dig deeper this time down beneath the impossible pain of our history

The group limped back toward Buffy's covered in dirt, soot, blood and slime. Halfway there, Faith & Gunn decided to shower at Angel's mansion, since there was likely to be a fight over the bathroom at Buffy's, Riley went home, Giles went home and Xander went home. Everyone raised a single eyebrow in surprise when Xander silently held out his hand, which was taken by Cordelia.

Willow stood on the doorstep of Buffy's house and looked at Tara. Both witch's eyes filled with tears as they stood looking at each other in silence.

"Tara, I..."

"It's okay," Tara said, brushing the tears from her lover's face, "I knew it would only be a matter of time."

"I'm so sorry," Willow said, pulling her girlfriend into her arms, "I do love you, it's just..."

"I know, honey," Tara said, "It's okay."

Pulling away, Tara looked into Willow's eyes one more time before she turned away, "Go find him."

Willow watched her walk away and waited until she was out of sight, before she too, stepped off of the porch and made her way down the path.


have you ever been bent or pulled
have you ever been played like strings
if i could see you, i could strum you
i could break you, make you sing

Angel and Buffy made their way up the stairs and into the bathroom that was left vacant since everyone else had left. Wesley had decided to go back to LA and check on things, since he was the odd man out. Inside the bathroom, behind the shut door, Angel stared at his love. His whole body ached as if he had spent days being beaten into submission and she looked as if she had been by his side for every swing.

"Do you want me to go?" He asked finally, after saying nothing for a long time.

"Go?" She asked, breaking her dazed stare back into the eyes, which were now safely brown.

"Home. To LA. Away from you," He whispered, almost afraid to ask but more afraid she would answer.

"Are you stupid?"

"Huh?" He asked, tempted to smile because Buffy always accused him of the cryptic and there were times she was far more confusing than he.

"After everything we've been through you still don't get it, do you?"

"Get what?" He asked, wondering if he was going to spend the entire night asking questions.

"Love saved us Angel," she said, pounding a fist into his arm, which didn't cause him to flinch, "Don't you get it? Love always saves us because we have something so much greater than the evil that repeatedly tries to kill it. Why do you always feel the need to tuck tail and run from me! I know you love me damn it, so why are you so fucking thick?"

"I'm sorry Buffy," Angel said, ignoring the ache in his arm from her repeated punches, "I just hurt you more every time. I don't want to hurt you anymore. I can't stand the thought."

"The only thing that hurts me is when you leave," she said, "The only thing that kills me inside is being without you. I can handle everything else."

"You're sure you want me to stay?" He asked again, just to be sure.

"God, you're a moron," she said as she pulled him in for a kiss. She pulled his tattered shirt away from his chest and ran her hands over his broad, muscle bound chest with a smile, "But you're my moron."

He smiled and pulled her in for a deeper kiss, "Forever, love."

"It's about damn time," she said and squealed as he ripped her shirt away in turn. Pivoting, he pressed her against the door and ripped her already ruined pants away as well as his. He pulled her leg over his hip as he buried himself inside the heaven of her.

"I feel like I've been aching for you for weeks," he groaned as he thrust inside her.

"It's been longer than that," she whispered, into the lips that met hers.

"Promise me, Angel," she panted in between his strokes.

"I promise," he panted back.

"Good," she purred which turned into a moan as he reached between her thighs to touch the swollen clit that begged for his touch. The door slammed downstairs but their movements went unhindered as they cracked violently against the bathroom door.

"Buffy? Are you home?" Joyce called up the stairs.

"Yes," Buffy yelled hoarsely, as Angel froze inside her, "Taking...a...shower."

She looked at Angel and said through gritted teeth, "Don't stop, baby, please."

Angel oscillated still inside her and turned on the water of the shower. Pressing her against the cold tiles, with water spraying over them and over the floor, since they never closed the curtain, Angel and Buffy made love for the first time in this forever.

i think that your body is something i understand.
i think that i'm happy, i think that i'm blessed.

The End!