New Way of Life

NOTE: I do not own these Angel and Buffy characters, but if you see anyone whom you do not recognize, he/she belongs to me.

A/N: This story takes place after Chosen, but before Conviction, meaning it's the summer in between. To put down a recap, Spike burned up, everyone (minus Anya) escaped on the school bus, Buffy and her friends haven't split up yet, and Angel Inc is preparing to move into W&H. On with the story…

CHAPTER 1

          Angel sat a large box on top of his desk in his soon to be former office at the Hyperion hotel. He began to pack random things into the box, mainly things that would be of little use at his new and much bigger office at Wolfram and Hart; small box of paper clips, old pencils and pens. The only things he considered of real value were the photos of his friends, including Cordelia, Fred, Gunn, Wesley, and even a few shots of Lorne with baby Connor. The photos were Angel's sole link to his son and no one was allowed to view them, especially since the gang was in most of the pictures.

          The vampire still couldn't believe it. Three years at the hotel and soon it would all be just a memory. He had asked himself the same question for the past four days, since Lilah had approached them with the offer of a lifetime, or the end of lifetime as members of Angel's team considered it. Was this the right thing to do? Should they just turn back? And if they did turn back, would Wolfram and Hart declare, "No backsies," then destroy them all?

          "Hello? Angel Investigations," Angel heard Fred's voice from his ajar office door. "Yes, the fliers are right. We'll be changing offices in a couple of days. What? OK, please calm down. A nest near your apartment? Sure, we can. Just give us your name and the location."

          Angel left his office and entered the lobby where more packing was going on. Gunn stood near the weapons cabinet, loading the weaponry into a trunk. Wesley, although he didn't have many items left at the hotel, had been over to help out and busily went through some old files. Fred leaned over the front desk, writing down the information of the person she was speaking to.

          "What's going on, Fred?" Angel asked the petite young woman when she was done writing.

          "A few vampires and demons have taken up residency in an abandoned building on Forest Drive," Fred explained. "A man on the phone is frantic. He thinks one of the vampires grabbed his daughter tonight, but he's powerless to do anything."

          "Cool," Gunn said, picking up an ax from the trunk. "Let's go. Love to do whatever last bit of good we can before we join forces with Evil Incorporated."

          Angel had to agree with the black man, even though he was sure Gunn was just looking forward to getting his hands dirty more than anything.

          "Is this everything we have to go on?" Angel asked, coming up to the desk.

          "Yes," Fred replied. "Did you want any help on this? Wes, Lorne, and I could—"

          "It's OK," Angel cut her off. "Gunn and I can handle this one."

          "Are you sure?" Wesley chimed in, walking up to the front desk. "We don't know what kind of demons we're dealing with. It could be dangerous."

          "We live in danger," Angel reminded him. "Gunn?"

          Gunn tossed him a crossbow before saying, "Let's do this."

          Meanwhile, in a large hotel in Rome, Buffy lay across a bed in a room she had occupied ever since she, Giles, and the others had escaped Sunnydale. She and Dawn were house hunting of course, but they'd also had little luck. It wasn't too bad, though. Their hotel was beautiful and their room was pretty spacious. A knock came at the door then, making Buffy glance up from the mindless doodles she had been doing.

          "Who is it?" Buffy asked, approaching the door, putting her hand to the knob.

          "A vicious, cold blooded killer," Dawn's voice replied.

          "What's your business?"

          "Hello! I've come to viciously kill you in cold blood."

          "Oh, OK." Buffy smiled and opened the door for Dawn. "Forgot your key again?"

          "I didn't forget it," Dawn said, stepping into the room. "I just didn't remember it."

          "Of course." Buffy glanced out into the hall before closing the door. She and her friends occupied most of the fourth floor. It felt like they were living in a dorm sometimes.

          "I love my bouncy bed," Dawn sighed, hugging a pillow against her. "We so have to move in here permanently."

          "Willow and Kennedy have been searching the net looking for apartments," Buffy reminded her. "Anyway, are you hungry? I called Xander up a couple minutes ago and put him in a very pizza mood. And I don't think they eat anything here that isn't smothered in sauce." Xander had slowly come around after Anya's death, which had hit him pretty hard.

          "Sure," Dawn smiled at her. "Oh, and we have to have wine."

          "You're not drinking wine," Buffy said automatically, grabbing her room key before heading out the door.

          "Come on. It's all juice here," Dawn said, going after her.

          "Good. We'll get you grape juice." Dawn just pouted a little as she and Buffy went across to Xander's room.

          Angel pulled up in front of the abandoned building Fred had been talking about. No matter what they were, demon, vampire, they all seemed to live somewhere that involved the word abandoned. He and Gunn climbed out of Angel's Plymouth and headed for the building, looking to see just how dilapidated it was. The building didn't look too old; in fact, it had probably just been abandoned for about a year.

          "Ready?" Angel asked the other man.

          "Should be asking you," Gunn said, walking ahead of Angel.

          Angel headed after him, caring less if Gunn took the lead. He had been right, though. They might as well get some good in before the evil that was Wolfram and Hart became one with them.

          The two of them knelt down and glanced into a small opening in the building. Inside, at least a dozen vampires were scattered along with a couple of demons, which were all either a shade of green or blue. A young girl, no older than fourteen, sat bound and gagged in a chair, looking so frightened her skin looked to be two tones paler than Angel's.

          Gunn and Angel swarmed into the building then, letting off their usual puns before going to work. Gunn used his ax to both knock out and chop off the heads of a couple of demons, feeling the usual sensation that came with destroying evil flow through him. Angel took out a few vampires with the crossbow then tossed it aside in impatience before pulling a stake out of his pocket, which seemed to do quicker damage.

          "Gunn," Angel directed. "Get the girl out of here. Take her to her father."

          "On it," Gunn said. He went around and cut the girl's ropes with his ax then removed the gag from her face. She immediately threw her arms around his neck, hugging him, thanking him, and sobbing into his shirt. "Easy. Come on now." He led her out of the building while Angel continued to fight.

          "Stop this," a voice echoed as soon as Angel was gone. A woman stepped out and glanced down at the fight, which had immediately halted at her command. "What is this?"

          Angel glanced up at her in surprise. The woman looked to be in her late twenties. She had long, brown hair and either hazel or green eyes; Angel couldn't tell.

          "Why are they always pretty?" he asked himself.

          "What matter of beast are you?" the woman asked him.

          "They call me Angel," he replied. "Sorry to break up your party, but the neighbors were complaining."

          The woman glanced down in horror at the empty chair. "Where is my sacrifice?" she demanded.

          "What? The little girl?" Angel asked. "Yeah, I think we need to go over the laws of child abduction."

          The woman's eyes seemed to flare up as she said in rage, "You have stolen my sacrifice." Her eyes actually flamed up as she said, "How dare you?"

          "It was pretty easy," Angel said, looking around at the few vampires and one demon that were left. "You didn't hire a very good staff here. I'd consider cutting their pension."

          "You dare to mock me?" the woman put a hand to her chest in insult then she pointed a finger at him. "What matter of man are you?"

          "Not exactly what you call a man, lady."

          "An immortal…" she formed a look as if to get an idea. Then she smiled wickedly, but it was from joy. "From this moment on your strength, your powers… are mine."

          Angel gasped out in pain as something, like a gun shot, seemed to go through him. He got to his knees, unable to stop groaning as the pain continued, going from a shot to a stabbing ache.

          Gunn stepped back into the building then, horrified at the sight. Some kind of dark energy seemed to be floating right out of Angel. "Angel!" he exclaimed, running up as the darkness faded. "Angel?" Gunn turned him over, seeing even more paleness in his face than ever before. He wasn't moving, but still alive. Gunn noticed that he was really alive; he had a pulse.

          Gunn didn't really have time to question it as he noticed the leftover vampires heading his way. Normally he'd just take them all out one by one, but he couldn't risk them getting to Angel. Gunn lifted Angel up, draping one of the man's arms over him then carried him out. He propped Angel up in the passenger's seat of the Plymouth then drove off at mad speed.

          Back at the hotel, Fred flipped through an old photo album. A photo album that was clearly before her time because it featured pictures of Cordelia with her hair long, brown, and straight. Wesley still wore glasses and an enthusiastic smile on his face. There were a few pictures of Gunn as well, some that were taken when he wasn't looking, as he wore a very dissatisfied look on his face.

          Wesley looked up to see Gunn carrying Angel, who was still out, into the lobby. "Gunn?" Wesley said in surprised.

          "Oh, my God." Fred went around the front desk and headed up to Gunn. "Charles, what happened?"

          "I don't even know," Gunn replied. "Help me with him."

          Wesley went up and put Angel's other arm over his shoulders and he and Gunn proceeded to carry the older man up the stairs, Fred following behind them. Gunn and Wesley gently lay Angel on the bed in his room.

          "What happened?" Fred repeated her earlier question, never taking her worried eyes off of Angel.

          "I left for a hot minute to take the little girl back to her father and I come back and some broad is sucking the juices out of Angel," Gunn attempted to explain.

          "Did you get a good look at her?" Wesley asked.

          "Didn't get a real chance," Gunn replied.

          "Hey, what's all the—?" Lorne stopped in his tracks, spotting Angel. "Oh, no. Angel down. I repeat, Angel down."

          "He's got a pulse," Gunn suddenly remembered, wondering how he could have forgotten.

          "Who?" Fred and Wesley asked in unison.

          "Him. Angel."

          "This Angel?" Lorne asked, pointing.

          Fred sat next to Angel on the bed and reached towards his throat. "That can't be… right." Her fingers touched down on where his heartbeat was its strongest. "Oh, my God."

          "Got to be old girl's mojo," said Gunn.

          "This is impossible," Wesley said.

          "We can't even worry about this," said Fred, the same concern in her voice. "He has a heartbeat, but it's a slow one. Angel is not well. I feel chills over him." She reached out to touch his forehead. "He has a fever, too. It's scorching."

          "Damn, she hit him hard," Gunn said.

          "Wesley, time the pull up the books," said Lorne to the former watcher.

          "Right," Wesley agreed, getting up. "We have to find out what's happened to him."

          "You have to hurry," Fred said, almost desperately. "He's sick and fading… fast."

A/N: There's more to come where this came from. I don't know if there's confusion with the timeline or anything, but if there are any questions ask. Please review!