Pairings: Buffy/Angel, Tara/Willow, Anya/Xander, Gunn/Fred.
Summary: Part Two, still flashbacks explaining the present.
A/N: Yes I know Tara is Buffy's best friend in this. It's not that I don't like Willow, I just wanted to give Tara more of a role and give Willow a rest. Come on, after S6 ending, Willow fics were everywhere…so she gets a 'Tara' part in this one.
Disclaimer: You know the drill. I own everything. Umm, I mean the talented Joss and that stupid woman that doesn't know what the hell she is talking about, Marti, and all that lot do.
Feedback: I'm begging you. Jade-Hamn@bushinternet.com
Dedication: To Tariq for telling it straight. *g*
Buffy neatly placed all the photographs back in the box. She glanced around for a clock, but couldn't see one. She picked up the phone lying at her feet.
"Gunn?" she whispered.
"Yeah." he answered.
"H…how long left?" she stammered.
"One minute by our clock. Are you sure there is no way out? Try a back door, a window? Anything?" He asked, knowing it was useless anyway.
"You don't think I've tried?" she snapped.
"Yeah, sorry." he muttered. A long pause. "10 seconds."
*Five months earlier*
"Spike!" Angel yelled, "I told you to sort the heating out a week ago."
Spike sauntered through the open door that was between Angel's office and everyone else's.
Spike regarded his older brother with slight distaste.
"Do it yourself you lazy wanker." He said, flicking his cigarette bud at him.
Angel glared at him until Spike put up his hands in mock protest.
"Fine, I'll sodding do it like the slave I am."
"Your pay really reflects that of a slave." Angel muttered sarcastically.
There was a quiet knock at the door and Angel looked up.
"Hello Fred." He greeted warmly.
"Why hello." Spike said, grinning flirtatiously and standing up from the heater. "How you doing?"
"I'm engaged." Fred informed him, showing him the diamond on her finger.
Spike rolled his eyes and knelt back down again.
"There's someone here to see you." she told Angel, "An important client."
"I wasn't expecting anyone…" Angel said shuffling through notes on his desk to see if he had missed something.
"He has a limousine and a guard." She added, "He screams 'I'm rich.'"
Angel smiled, "Show him in, Spike go away."
Spike threw down the spanner he was using, "Bloody ponce" he said, before stalking out of the plush office.
Angel sighed; Buffy had made him take his unemployed brother a week ago, on at 'Angel Investigations,' as she felt sorry for him. He didn't do much work, just sat smoking, reading magazines and flirting with clients. Fred and Gunn had just got back from a two week holiday.
Maybe I should book a surprise holiday for Buffy, Katie and I, he mused.
He glanced up, stood and smiled when he saw a man standing there. He stepped forward and held his hand out.
"Angel O'Connor." He introduced.
"Lindsey McDonald." He replied, taking Angel's hand and giving him a firm handshake.
"Pleased to meet you. What can I do for you?" Angel asked, taking a seat again and gesturing Lindsey to do the same.
"I need someone to be watched. A colleague of mine to be exact. She's up to no good, going behind my back." Lindsey explained.
"Well, we need as much information as possible. Anything you think is helpful." Angel told him.
"Her name is Lilah Morgan." Angel tensed; it was his second case with her. Only a year ago, her husband had suspected she was cheating on him. Angel had proved him right and they divorced. She had lost all her money in the divorce. He had also gone to school with her. She had been in love with Angel, but he had never returned her affections.
"I can get you address's, numbers, everything you need. I just want her watched and proof about what she's doing." Lindsey said. "I want the bitch to be taken down."
Angel nodded, always the professional. "Right, proof. It will cost you."
"I want the best, and you, O'Connor are the best. I will pay anything." Lindsey informed him. "I will fax you the details."
*A month later*
"I have everything you asked for." Angel said, dropping a thick file in front of Lindsey. "Pictures, video evidence and recordings. You have everything you need to take her down and then some."
Lindsey leaned back on the plush leather chair and smiled.
"Thank you." He said, picking it up. "The money will be paid immediately."
Lindsey walked back out of the office and into his limousine that was waiting. He didn't notice the woman standing just a few yards away behind a tree, pulling a long, black coat protectively around herself.
She stepped out as soon as the car sped off. She wasn't stupid, she knew exactly what Lindsey had been up to, but unfortunately found out to late. She grimaced at the evidence she knew he had in his grasp.
Angel O'Conner. How he disgusted her.
He had destroyed Lilah. Knocked her back, taken Wesley, her once loving husband away from her and now she had lost her job.
She would get her revenge on him, even if it killed her.
"Nobody takes me for a fool, Lilah." Lindsey snapped, "You have two options. You leave now, and nothing will happen. You stay, I will pass all the information to management and I will make your life a living hell."
Lilah glared at him, her face full of hatred. "Are you telling me you're a wholesome boy Lindsey? Everyone in this company is corrupted, and you know it."
"Which makes it ok?" he snapped, his hazel eyes boring into hers. "They would choose me over you Lilah and you know it."
Lilah held his gaze for a beat before turning to face the door. "I will leave then." She said, the tone one of defeat.
As the door closed behind her, Lindsey felt a prickle of regret. He did feel sorry for her, in a way. She was a lying bitch but she had just lost something that was a huge part of her. Working where they did was a full time job. She had become bitter after her divorce. Nobody could take away the fact that she wasn't a pleasant woman and she never had been. But at least she used to be bearable until Wesley left her.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" Riley Finn queried the woman who was pacing his office.
"Yes." She said, "Angel will pay."
"You remember Riley?" Buffy asked Tara, over a cappuccino
"Riley Finn? Completely in love with you in high school?" Tara said.
"That's the one. Well, I've been seeing him a lot recently. Following me in his car, walking in the street behind me."
"Have you told Angel?" Tara queried immediately.
"No, not yet. I will do though." She said, stirring the froth. "He's creeping me out."
"Riley's an idiot. You know that." Tara commented.
"Yeah, but he changed after he asked me out. He became almost bitter when I said no. He never really became the same again. I mean, it was probably nothing to do with me, but it was around that time."
"Are you kidding?" Tara exclaimed, "He was completely in love with you. You hurt him bad."
"I feel guilty." Riley told Lilah. "I mean, she's innocent."
"Remember how you felt? When she embarrassed you. She took your heart and stomped on it. Now is your time for payback." Lilah answered.
"But the kid is nothing to do with that."
"Look, I want Angel to pay. And the way to do that is to do what I tell you!'" Lilah yelled.
Riley looked down.
Lilah fixed him a level stare. "You agreed to do this job and you signed a contract. You don't want to drop out now do you?"
Riley almost shook at the amount of hatred in her cold eyes, "It just doesn't seem fair."
"Fair? I lost my home, husband and job because of him. I don't see fair entering the equation. If you drop out now, I can make life very difficult for you Mr Finn. Understand?"
The sandy haired man nodded fearfully.
"Tara!" Buffy called, an excited tone to her voice. "That's it."
The brunette walked to where Buffy was standing.
She looked to where Buffy's vision was trained and gasped.
A long, pale blue dress met her wide eyes.
"It's exactly what I had in mind." She muttered.
"It's perfect!" Buffy exclaimed. Tara was getting married to Willow in a few months and they were having a girly shopping day.
Katie's cries filled the large clothes shop they were in and Buffy disappeared into the bathroom to change her.
"Can I try it on please?" Tara asked a passing shop lady.
"It's new in," she informed Tara taking it off of the hanger, "Hand made."
It was everything Tara dreamed of. Getting married to the woman she loved in a moonlit beach, with only Buffy and Angel as witnesses.
Buffy emerged with her now contended daughter and went to find Tara in the changing rooms.
"Well?" Buffy asked through the curtain.
"It's slightly too long, but it can be adjusted." Tara called back. Buffy smiled and turned to lay her daughter back in the stroller.
"Can you help unzip me please?" Tara asked.
Buffy stepped through the curtain to assist her best friend.
"Do you think Willow will like it?" Tara said nervously.
"She will love it!" Buffy said, stepping back out.
There a sound behind her and as she turned something heavy hit her on the head. She stumbled and fell onto the floor. She saw Katie being lifted out of the stroller and screamed.
Tara came running out and saw what was happening. She kicked the man hard in the shin. Buffy leapt back up and threw herself at him.
He shoved Buffy hard into Tara and sprinted off.
Tara put the small child back in the stroller and ran after him, calling for the police. Buffy tried to get back up, but her head was spinning. Her last conscious thought was for Angel to be here.
"How is she?"
"I've been better." A pause. "Angel thinks it wasn't just a random attack."
"Why would they go for Buffy?"
"I don't know. Angel is completely freaking over it. He ordered the windows at there house to be bolted and Gunn and the rest of the staff to follow Buffy twenty-four-seven." Tara informed Xander.
"I don't blame him."
"Me neither. I hope it was a one off attack. I couldn't stand it if anyone got hurt." Tara said, her eyes filling with tears. "He got away! It was all set up; they even clipped the cameras so there is no evidence."
Xander pulled his friend into his arms. "It's ok, they will get him." He calmed, as reassuringly as he could.
"You failed?" Riley asked calmly.
Forrest nodded. "I can try again."
"Are you stupid? They are going to have protection now. They aren't just going to be walking about with her now!" Lilah snapped, "We will have to do it another way."
"Like how?" Riley asked.
"You want your revenge, I want mine."
"Yeah…" Doubt crossing his face.
"Now we go for the kill." Lilah said, an insane smile crossing her face.
"Look, I wanted that bitch dead for a very long time. But now? No way. Keeping her kid hostage is one thing…but no one is dying. Try anything and I'm going straight to the police."
"Yes." Riley said, courage building up. Lilah nodded to Forrest who stepped forward.
"I'm sorry man, but you really are stupid." He said, before pulling out a gun.
Riley stared at him in shock, "No…wait."
His body crumpled on the floor.
"Get rid of him, before the blood stains the floor." Demanded Lilah, "Cleaning bills are a bitch."