Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, Angel, or any associated characters; I just own this plot. Oh, and the villain.
Feedback: I wouldn't mind it in the least.
AN: When this story starts, it's set immediately after Buffy's sent Angel to Hell and is running away to LA. When it goes into the future, I'm setting it after 'Why we Fight'; so, Fred's still Fred (But she and Wesley aren't together), Gunn's legal powers seem to be failing, and Lindsay is currently stuck in a hell dimension after trying to kill Angel.
A Buffy from the PastSunnydale outskirts, 1998
Buffy stared listlessly out of the bus window as the countryside passed her by. The view was remarkable, in its own way, but she didn't care about that right now.
All she could think about was Angel.
Specifically, the look on his face when he'd fallen into Hell.
She couldn't get it out of her mind. Just as she'd finally gotten him back, after almost six months of having to fight the demon that wore his face, the demon that had terrorised most of Europe in his time, just after she'd kissed him so tenderly, just after he'd told her he loved her...
She drove a sword through his heart to save the world.
She still couldn't quite understand it. Why had Xander not told her that Willow was trying the curse again? Why? Didn't he know... didn't he care...
Buffy broke off that train of thought. It wouldn't get her anywhere. All she needed was to get away from Sunnydale... Get away from everything that reminded her of Angel.
She had to make a new life for herself.
She had to get away from everything that would remind her of the fact that Angel was gone forever.
She stopped herself there. No, I can't, she thought to herself. I can't move on. I'll never move on.
She'd never be the same girl she had been before last night after this.
But one thing would never change about her.
She would always be Angel's girl...
Los Angeles, Six years later...
Angel groaned as he stared at the files in front of him. He was really starting to find this job tedious; the paperwork was boring, he barely got out on the streets anymore, and as for some of his clients...
There were times he felt like handing in his resignation.
But, in the end, he was still doing some good; he had to acknowledge that. It just wasn't the kind of good he was used to.
"Angel?" a voice said from the door of his office.
Glancing back, Angel saw Harmony walk in holding a file, and groaned silently. He was trying to tolerate Harmony's presence, and he knew that she was, at least, trying to fit in- the fact that she'd risked everything to keep that demon conference under control spoke in her favour, if nothing else- but he still couldn't forget that, when she'd first arrived in LA, she'd tried to sell him and the others out to a vampire cult.
He never thought he'd say this, but he actually trusted Spike more than her these days; at least Spike wasn't exactly the same person who'd tortured him for the Gem of Amara in his first year in LA, thanks to his soul and that chip that had been in his head. Harmony... she was still the same person, even if she was trying to get over her past problems.
Shaking off that line of thought, he turned around to face Harmony completely, his expression as neutral as it had been when he first arrived in LA.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Just thought you should know, we've detected something... powerful, for lack of anything more specific... in the region of a university that Lorne tells me you and he visited once," Harmony said, passing Angel the file.
Angel took the file, his curiosity spiked instantly. He recalled the visit to the university that Lorne was referring to- the affair with the Lubber demons was one he was unlikely to ever forget. Although the experience with Darla had played its part, Angel also owed Lorne a great deal for helping him get out of his descent into darkness with that mission.
He scanned the file, noting the contents with a dread that grew and grew as he read on. It would appear that, even though he and Lorne had stopped Gene Rainy from freezing time throughout the world, the lab where he'd carried out his experiments was now the source of a slight tear in the fabric of reality, making it an obvious target for any demons attempting a spell to do with time.
And, if this information was accurate, someone was trying to do just that...
Angel glanced up at Harmony.
"Get Spike and Lorne," he said, putting the file down and standing up. "Tell them to meet me at the car as soon as possible."
"Check," Harmony said, as Angel swept past her and headed for the lift that led down to the garage.
"OK, I get what tall, fair and loony is doing here," Lorne said, indicating Spike as the two of them headed towards the university with Angel, "But what am I doing here? Why didn't you bring Gunn or Wesley?"
Angel glanced back at Lorne. "You've got an advantage over the others in that you already know the scale of the situation we might be facing," he explained. "Besides, if nothing else, your high notes might give Spike and me a better chance in a fight against superior numbers."
"Yeah, just so long as we don't forget about the bloody earplugs," Spike grumbled from the back seat. "I still don't get what the bloody problem is; I mean, you've got some guys trying to tap into the fabric of time? What makes you think they'll even succeed?"
"They're calling on Tempus," Angel stated simply.
Spike glanced up, his expression having gone from boredom to fear.
"Tempus?" he asked, shaken.
Angel nodded. "The one and only."
Spike swore. Even lower-level demons knew something about Tempus, a pure- blood demon who was said to be capable of resetting time and manipulating it for his own ends. The only catch was that you had to give him something in exchange, otherwise he'd work in some annoying little problem is the new history that you wouldn't appreciate, which led to all sorts of problems.
Wolfram & Hart had never called on Tempus themselves, but they had detailed information on him, which included the last time he'd been called upon; by the Charmed Ones, three powerful witches destined to protect the world from evil. They'd required Tempus' aid after they'd been exposed on live TV, but he'd only helped them when one of them had agreed to go to the underworld. Fortunately, she'd been pulled out of Hell by her half-demon boyfriend, and, as punishment, Tempus had changed history so one of the other sisters had died.
If it hadn't been for the discovery of an unknown half-sister, the Charmed Ones would have ended then and there.
Angel wouldn't allow something like Tempus to be called upon if he could help it.
"We're here," he said, stopping the car in front of the university. It was still sunny outside, but the car was parked in the shade of the university, so he and Spike would be all right getting into the building.
He pulled out a sword from under his seat and slipped it under his coat. Glancing back, he saw Spike grab a couple of daggers, and Lorne grabbed a crossbow from the seat behind him.
"OK, remember the plan," Angel said, looking around at his friends. "We go in there, head for the basement under Gene's old lab, take out whoever's performing the spell, and leave. We don't have the time for explanations to any civilians, and we can worry about what they were trying to pull off later. Is that clear?"
"Crystal," Lorne smiled.
"Got it, Peaches," Spike nodded.
"Good," Angel said, as he opened his door. "Let's go."
The three of them jumped out the car and ran towards the nearest door, which was a small side door normally used by the university cleaning staff that led to the basement. It wasn't used that often, which was why their current target was using it; any demons trying something on this floor wouldn't be disturbed by a curious human who'd seen something interesting.
Angel kicked the door open and walked in, Spike and Lorne immediately behind him. Lorne shut the door as well as he could, and then followed on after the two vampires, looking around himself as he did so. Although there were lights down here, they weren't on; either the demons they were tracking had night vision, or they had bought their own lighting source with them.
Either way, Lorne was grateful that vampires had excellent night visions; he'd never have managed to find his way around here by himself.
"This way," Angel whispered, turning to the left and walking deeper into the darkness...
Except now it wasn't dark; at least, not totally. There was a dim golden glow down at the end of the corridor they were currently walking down, apparently coming from a door off to one side.
Spike looked around at Lorne and Angel. "That it?" he asked them.
Angel nodded. "That's it," he said. He looked over at the other two. "Spike, get your earplugs in. Lorne, as soon as they see us, hit them with your high-pitched scream. Once they're down, Spike and I'll handle the demons; you see if you can find what's causing the distortions and put a stop to it. If you can't, just hold them down until Spike or I get there, OK?"
The two of them nodded in confirmation. They turned back to face the door, Angel and Spike slipping their earplugs in as they did so. Slowly walking towards the door, the three of them leaned forward to see inside.
The creatures in the room, it turned out, weren't that threatening. Their apparent opponents for the night consisted of four vampires and one demon, and only the demon might be any real threat; Angel, Spike and Lorne knew they could handle vampires easily enough if the need arose.
It was the demon that was the real problem. It was wearing a long, ornately-patterned red robe, and was covered in scales of a similar colour. Its hands and face were the only parts of it that weren't covered by the robe, and they didn't look all that pleasant.
Its head was thin and high, reminding the three people looking at it of Christopher Lee as Count Dooku, except for its long, pointed nose and ears, and its mouth full of long sharp pointed teeth. Its hands appeared vaguely human, baring the creature's scales and its long black nails.
In its left hand, it was holding a long wooden staff with a golden serpent wrapped around it, reminding Angel of some wizard's staffs he'd seen in the Lord of the Rings films. However, the thing in the creature's right hand was of more immediate interest to the observers; it was a large cup, tipped up to pour its contents onto a large symbol carved into a stone circle in front of the demon. Angel didn't recognise the symbol, but he was prepared it couldn't be for anything good.
Then he caught the scent of the liquid in the cup, and he became even more convinced that the demon was up to no good.
It was human blood in that cup.
Angel glanced over at Lorne, and jerked his thumb towards the vampires.
Nodding, Lorne stepped forward, his crossbow raised in front of him. As the vampires turned towards him, Lorne opened his mouth, and (Angel and Spike assumed) let out his trademark high note; the only offensive capability he had.
Instantly, the other vampires bent over double, clutching their ears in agony. The demon apparently tried to fight off the effects, but failed; not only did he mimic the vampires by falling over in pain, but his instinctive reaction to the pain included him clenching his hands, which crushed the cup in his right hand and spilled the blood that had been in it all over the symbol.
Lorne stopped screaming, pointed his crossbow at the nearest vampire, and fired. He struck it directly in the heart, and it had turned to dust in a few seconds.
As soon as the first vampire was down, Angel and Spike ran into the room, the three of them tackling one vampire each. Meanwhile, the demon stared at the blood trickling through the stone symbol, apparently too horrified at what had happened to focus on his attackers.
Then again, it would appear he hadn't been anticipating much resistance while performing the spell; the vampires appeared to be freshly sired, and Angel and Spike managed to dispatch with relative ease. Spike stabbed the first one in the heart fairly soon after the fight had started, and Angel followed up with a swordblow that cleanly severed his opponent's neck. As for Lorne, his opponent was still dazed by the hypersonic scream, so all he had to do was take an arrow from his crossbow and drive it through the creature's heart.
It wasn't even really a fight.
Angel glanced over at Spike, his expression a silent apology for bringing the pale-haired vampire here; he knew how much Spike enjoyed a good fight, and he hadn't had the chance to get involved in one lately.
Spike noticed the expression on his grandsire's face, and shook his head reassuringly; he didn't mind about the shortness of the fight, just that he'd had a fight.
Lorne tapped them both on the shoulder and indicated the robed demon kneeling on the ground behind them. Realising what he meant, the vampires pulled out the earplugs and walked over to stand behind the demon, Lorne standing a foot or two behind them.
"So, red, now that your henchmen have snuffed it, care to fill us in on what the point was behind all this?" Spike asked, beating Angel to the question.
The demon turned to look at the three people behind him, as though he'd only just realised they were still there.
"You..." he half-whispered as he looked at them. "The vampires with souls, and the Anagogic demon. I was wondering if you'd show up in time... After all, you both have a personal motive in preventing this plan." One corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. "Well, more personal than most, anyway."
"What?" Angel asked, looking at the demon. "What are you talking about?"
"Look at the stone," the demon said simply, standing up and stepping to one side.
Angel glanced over at Spike. "Keep him covered," he said, indicating the demon. "If he tries anything, I want you to cut his throat."
"Naturally," Spike said, pulling his daggers out and walking to stand facing the demon. No matter how fast it was in a fight, Spike would still get in a strike or two before it got past him.
Leaning forward, Angel looked at the stone in front of him...
And stared in surprise at the sight.
Although the liquid in the stone carving still smelled the same to Angel- the rich, tantalising smell of human blood, a temptation he'd resisted for so long- the actual liquid had completely changed. It was no longer red; now it was transparent, and appeared to be showing a picture that he couldn't quite make out. If he squinted, however, he could just make out what appeared to be a bus, the picture focusing on a young blonde-haired woman in one seat...
Then a brilliant light burst from the stone, hitting Angel directly in the eyes, knocking him back from the sheer shock of it. Lorne and Spike took the light to their eyes as well, but the demon didn't even appear to notice the light.
"NO!" he yelled, as a large golden portal began to form above the stone. "You've RUINED everything! It's TOO EARLY!"
"Too early for what?!" Angel cried over the sound of the portal. "Would you mind explaining what the hell we just did?!"
"It's too late!" the demon cried, sounding like it was almost laughing now. "No matter what happens now, you're finished!"
A loud whooshing sound was heard over the portal, and suddenly the demon was gone.
As soon as he vanished, something flew out of the portal and landed on top of Angel, just before the portal closed.
Looking at the something that had fallen on top of him, Angel realised that it was in fact a someone; the blonde-haired woman he'd vaguely seen in the stone carving through the blood, holding her head as though she had a headache. She was wearing a black top with elbow-length sleeves, black trousers and boots, and...
Angel's breath stopped as he saw the necklace hanging down below her head, just in front of her breasts.
A crucifix he recognised.
Now that he thought about it, he recognised the outfit she was wearing, too...
Buffy blinked a little as the light died down, her right hand to her forehead as she desperately blinked her eyes, trying to get her sight back.
What had just happened? One minute she was on a bus, heading out of Sunnydale for L.A., then a brilliant light had surrounded her, and now she was lying on top of a man dressed in black trousers, a dark blue shirt, a black leather duster...
Her heart stopped.
No... It couldn't be him... She'd seen him fall into Hell, staked by her hand, only a few hours before...
She looked up, and there he was.
The love of her life... lying beneath her.
As alive as a vampire could ever be.
"Angel?" she whispered, unable to believe what she was seeing.