I'd previously uploaded this story in one chunk, but I'm re-uploading now by chapter to make the format more reader-friendly.

"A Thing Once Lost" is an attempt to merge season 5 of Buffy and season 2 of Angel. I've always thought it was strange that Angel's friends wouldn't think to call Buffy for help after Angel goes off the deep end and fires them. Here's what I think would have happened.

I'm now writing a continuation of this story that will merge seasons 6 and 3, so please help me make that story extra awesome by reviewing this one and pointing out anything I need to address.

Enjoy!


Prologue

The Gall'uth Dimension, Year 2 after the Deliverance

The morning had dawned gloomy and damp on the plains of Gall'uth. Tom Deary had left the house quietly before sunrise to go on the hunt without waking his wife. It had been a long time since their last meal of meat and he hoped to turn their luck today.

He had tried every hunting ground he remembered, but the winter had been hard on the animals as well as the people of Gall'uth. After long deliberations, Tom had made up his mind last night: He had no choice but to enter the Cantarthian forest.

No one had ventured there in many years – not since the day a portal had opened in the woods and brought forth the terrible Glorificus, who had enslaved generations of Tom's ancestors until her sudden disappearance two years ago, after the terrible war of the gods that took so many lives. The people of Gall'uth had lived scattered in the far reaches of the country for so long, they were only just beginning to remember how to build houses and live together in villages.

Everyone in Gall'uth knew the story of how Glorificus had been banished. For time immemorial, she had ruled over the dimension with two other gods. But Glorificus had far surpassed the others in both cruelty and resourcefulness. Not content with merely demanding unquestioning obedience from the humans and lesser demons inhabiting the dimension, she had massacred all who displeased her.

In the end, even the other gods grew afraid of her. They joined forces and waged a terrible war which decimated the population. Finally, they had contrived to banish her, using a portal in a forest clearing. No one knew where she had been sent, although the story was told that she had been forced into a body made of human flesh and exiled to another dimension.

Tom wanted desperately to believe that Glorificus would never return, but like the other inhabitants of Gall'uth, he had avoided the forest so as not to tempt fate.

Much sooner than he had hoped, Tom found himself at the entrance to the forest. He took a deep breath and gripped his spear tightly as he reminded himself that he had no choice but to enter if he wanted to provide for his young wife.

As Tom stepped under the canopy of the trees, he felt as though they were closing in around him, stretching their branches to entwine them over his head and lock him in this place forever for some evil purpose known only to them.

Tom steeled himself and continued to walk. With every minute, he could feel the forest grow denser. Almost instinctively, he knew that all the time he was drawing closer to the clearing – the place where Glorificus had first appeared and last been seen, and from which she would surely return if such was the will of fate. He had never set eyes on it himself, but he could still remember his mother's threats – "if you don't do as I say, we'll leave you in the clearing." It was the same threat that had terrified children across Gall'uth for many years.

And suddenly, there was a flash of the brightest light Tom had ever seen. For a second, he heard voices, screams that seemed to come from far away. Whoever these voices belonged to, they were shaken by terror and grief. Horrified, Tom stopped and hid behind a tall bush on the edge of the clearing. For one awful moment, he believed that his presumption in coming to the clearing had brought on the return of Glorificus.

But when his terror subsided, he realized that Glorificus had not stepped through the portal. There was no more light, and only one small, strangely familiar sound. In his confusion, it took Tom a long time to recognize it. It was the sound of a crying baby.

Carefully, Tom approached the clearing. Part of him still feared he was about to walk into some terrible trap.

But sure enough: in the middle of the clearing lay a small baby boy, naked and crying with the force of complete sadness and desolation.

Astonished, Tom reached out and touched the baby's hand. It was clear to him that this was not the child of one of his neighbors – no one had ventured here in years, not even to hide the shame of an illegitimate child; of this he was sure.

After only a moment's hesitation, Tom took off his overcoat and swaddled the baby in it.

"Don't cry now. We'll be home soon."