Slay Time

An Angel fanfic by Sisiutil

Joss and ME own the characters, I'm just playing with them.

This one is just for fun. This story is an alternate version of "Smile Time".

Part 1

"Stupid magic spells..."

Angel sat at his desk, trying to remain calm. He'd been through so much in nearly two hundred and fifty years on Earth. He'd brought terror, pain, and death to hundreds of people as one of the worst vampires in history. He'd spent nearly a hundred years brooding on the misery he'd caused once he'd been cursed with a soul. He'd spent the last several years trying to atone for those sins, first in Sunnydale, then in Los Angeles.

He'd known the glory and the pain of true love along the way, and had lost that love. He'd been to hell. In more ways than one. He'd taken over the source of most of the evil in L.A., the demonic law firm Wolfram and Hart, and was trying to use it to do some good.

And now? Now, after all that? Had he been forgiven? Had he Shanshued? Had he been cast back into the pits of hell?

No. Now he was a puppet.

Angel sat in his now over-sized chair and stared at his tiny, felt-covered, three-fingered hands. Had he really done that much damage, he wondered, to warrant this? Atonement was one thing, but abject humiliation was quite another. Fred had actually called him cute. Cute! And not in the way that a man likes to hear.

Then there was Spike, gleefully taking any advantage of any opportunity to mock him, and Angel had lost it--pretty easy to do, a short temper was a side-effect of the spell--and now the whole office knew. At least Nina didn't know. Not yet, anyway, but if this went on much longer... Angel shook his foam-rubber and felt head when he thought of how he'd actually hidden under his desk from her. Pathetic. But he could nothing except sit here and wait for his team to come up with a solution.

He decided he needed a distraction. The Rockies were playing the Devils tonight; it promised to be a good game. He reached for the remote control of his office entertainment center and awkwardly pulled it across the desk towards him. He concentrated, took careful aim, and slowly pressed his little felt finger towards the ON button. He missed, and the oak paneled doors that usually concealed his office television began to hum closed. He watched them close morosely, then his puppet brow folded downwards in a frown and he let out something halfway between a growl and a sigh.

"Stupid puppet hands..." he muttered.

Apparently, besides increasing his excitability, the spell also ensured he had as much coordination as if his limbs were being controlled second-hand, just like a normal puppet. Well, Angel thought, at least he wasn't walking around with some guy's arm stuck up his ass.

"Huh," Puppet Angel grumbled, "if I was, with my luck, it would probably be Spike's..."

Outside Angel's office, Harmony Kendall busied herself with a crucial task. It had been bothering her since she'd noticed it on the way to work that morning (before sunrise, of course) and she'd finally decided to take action.

She almost had the troublesome nail smoothed out now. Filing her nails had the added benefit of keeping her from thinking about how freaky it was to be working for a puppet all of a sudden. Harmony had never much liked thinking at the best of times. It took too much time and made her head hurt.

She'd thought being evil would have been easy, but no. There were malevolent plans to be laid, minions to recruit, and a lot of waiting in skanky back alleys and stuff for your hapless victims to bumble into you. Being on the senior prom committee back at Sunnydale High had been easier, especially since all the geeky kids wound up doing the work.

That was why she'd taken the job at Wolfram and Hart. She didn't have to think so hard anymore--just show up, answer the phones, and bingo! She had enough blood back in her fridge to see her through--well, tomorrow, anyway. She'd never been very good at planning ahead either. But it kept her out of trouble, and that was important these days. Thanks to that little busybody from her home town, there were tons of Vampire Slayers crawling around now. Harmony shuddered at the thought. Bad enough when there was just one...okay, technically, two. Now, she half-expected a platoon of the little bitches to come waltzing into the lobby and...

"Harmony Kendall," a familiar female voice said, "why am I not surprised to see you here?"

Harmony froze in mid-file. Her blue eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open as she looked up from her nails. Here she'd just been thinking of her, and now, there she was, standing right on the other side of her desk. Not just any Vampire Slayer, no, the Vampire Slayer.

"Buffy!" Harmony said, forcing a phony smile of delight on her face and rising from her chair. "What a surprise! Gosh, I haven't seen you since..."

"Since you and Spike held a doctor hostage and tried to kill me and my boyfriend?" Buffy said. Her honey-blond hair was loose and long, cascading down each side of her slender face with the slightest of waves. She was dressed in a short, brown leather jacket, white blouse, and tight black pants--elegant and stylish, but ready for battle as well, Harmony noted nervously. She was sure she could make out the bulge of a wooden stake--maybe two--in that leather jacket.

"Oh," Harmony said, shrugging apologetically, "hey, bygones under the bridge, right?" she said, laughing nervously.

"Whatever," Buffy said. "Relax, if I was here to take out the most inept vampire in demonic history, you'd be dust already. I'm here to see Angel."

"Oh!" Harmony said, brightening. "Well, that's okay then. Except you can't," she added as Buffy turned and started to walk towards Angel's office. "Oh, and, hey!" she added, suddenly realizing she should object to Buffy's insult.

"And why not?" Buffy asked, her head slowly turning towards Harmony.

"He's...indisposed?" Harmony said weakly, her brows raising and her lips twisting uncertainly.

"Indisposed," Buffy repeated as she crossed her arms and rolled her eyes towards the ceiling. An unpleasant smile appeared on her lips. "That's the term the secretary uses when the wife shows up and the boss is busy banging the secretary on his desk and, okay, I didn't quite think that scenario through all the way, but the point is I'm going in there, and you can't stop me."

"But...!" Harmony interjected as Buffy turned and walked towards Angel's door.

"Don't use that word with me unless you want me to knock you on it," the Vampire Slayer said threateningly.

Angel sat at his desk, his puppet brow creased into a deep, frustrated frown. He'd been trying, for the last few minutes, to use his phone, but he couldn't pick up the receiver, and couldn't even manage to hit the hands-free button. His puppet jaw was skewed to one side of his face in frustration.

"Stupid phone...this just can't get any worse..." he muttered.

His head popped up when the door to his office suddenly opened. He watched with growing horror as the one person he'd rather die than have see him in this condition walked through it. He saw the slender frame, the stylish clothes, the blond hair that was the closest thing to sunlight he'd encountered that wouldn't kill him, not literally anyway, and if he'd had a heart in his puppet body and if it had been capable of beating it would have skipped one.

"Angel?" Buffy said. She had turned to look away from his desk, at the other end of his office. It gave him the merest of moments to decide what to do. In the end, he knew, there was only one thing he could do.

A puzzled frown crossed Buffy's lovely face when she heard a soft thumping noise from her right. She turned and saw a large mahogany desk with a wall filled with weapons behind it. One corner of her mouth tugged into a slight grin as she thought how the decor--CEO meets medieval crusader--told her that this just had to be Angel's office. But she didn't see him anywhere. She took a step towards the desk and heard a soft scuffling noise coming from the desk--no, from beneath the desk, she suddenly realized.

"Angel?" she said again. "Are you there?"

"No, I'm not!" Angel replied, then silently cursed. Now the puppet spell was making him participate in stupid jokes against his will!

"Very funny," Buffy said, her forced smile belying the words. "Are you...hiding under your desk?" she asked, incredulous.

"Uh, I dropped something," Angel said.

"Well, would you pick it up and get you undead butt out here?" Buffy said. She crossed her arms and cocked her head slightly; had Angel seen her, he would have known she was annoyed. Then again, he didn't need to see her to know that; it was obvious from her tone of voice. "We need to talk."

"Great," Angel muttered from beneath his desk. "Just the words a man longs to hear..."

"What was that?" Buffy asked sharply.

"Nothing!" Angel responded. "Uh, we can talk while I'm under here, can't we? I can hear you just fine."

"No we can't!" Buffy insisted, her annoyance growing. "What are you, six years old? Huh. Last time I thought you were twelve. You're regressing! Look, Andrew told me what he said to you when you guys brought Dana in, and...well, I just didn't want to leave things like that between us. So I flew all the way from Italy to talk to you in person. To you, not to a piece of furniture, no matter how elegant, manly, and finely crafted it is. So will you please start acting like a grown vampire and GET OUT FROM UNDER THAT STUPID DESK?!"

"All right..." Angel grumbled. It was no use. If he delayed any longer, Buffy would just pick the desk up and hurl it across the office. And he kind of liked the desk. And the office, too, as a matter of fact. He slowly forced himself to his little puppet feet, then shuffled reluctantly around the desk and into view.

Buffy was looking at the desk, obviously expecting her ex-lover to pop up from beneath the middle of it, in front of his chair. She hadn't even noticed Puppet Angel, standing beside the desk in front of her.

"Well...?" Angel prompted her.

Buffy's head turned, startled by the way the voice she knew so well originated so close to the floor. Then she spotted him. Her eyes went wide, and her mouth dropped open. Angel's brow twitched, then he looked down abashedly and idly kicked at a piece of lint on the carpet.

"Angel?!" Buffy exclaimed. "You''re..."

"Yeah, I know," Puppet Angel grumbled. "I was trying to track down the source of this weird phenomenon, and got hit by some magic whammy, and now I'm..."

"ADORABLE!!" Buffy cried.

Puppet Angel looked up at her, his brow elevated, and did a surprised double-take. Her face was alight with an expression of child-like delight that normally would have brought tears of joy to his eyes. Instead, he was horrified. Buffy extended both arms towards him, stepped forward, and bent down. The instinct to scuttle away hit Angel a moment too late. In a flash, Buffy had lifted him from the floor and up into the air, her arms raised and fully extended, a broad smile on her face.

No, no, NO! Puppet Angel thought. Not this, ANYTHING but this! Please, somebody, anybody, just send me back to hell!

"Aren't you just the cutest little thing!" Buffy exclaimed. She giggled like the schoolgirl she had been when Angel first saw her. It did nothing to endear her to him at this moment.

"Buffy, no, please!" Angel begged. His little legs were swinging uselessly beneath him. "Don't do this!"

But Buffy didn't seem to hear him. With a delighted squeal, she pulled his little body close to hers and hugged him against her. "Ooooh!" she cooed. "You're so soft and squeezy!"

"!" Angel groaned. She was squeezing him with all her Slayer strength. He could feel his stuffing compressing. It got him angry, and he began to press against her, trying desperately to escape. "Buffy, knock it off!"

Buffy pulled Puppet Angel away from her body and once again held him at arm's length. She saw his puppet brow creased in anger and his wide slash of a mouth pressed together and laughed. "Now, now!" she said in a condescending tone, pushing her lower lip out in a mock pout, "who's the stern widdle puppet?"

"Okay, that's enough!" Angel declared angrily. He raised his little arms and chopped down at Buffy's wrists.

"Ow!" she cried, releasing him. Angel dropped to the floor. He landed on his feet, and scuttled back from her.

"All right," he said, pointing one little felt finger at her, "no hugs, no boo-boo lips, and no baby-talk!" Buffy frowned petulantly at him. "Have a little respect, will you? You think I'm enjoying this?"

"Sorry," Buffy said abashedly, then sighed. "You're right, I shouldn't have gotten carried away."

"Darn tootin'", Angel said, crossing his little arms and fixing his puppet glare upon her.

A repressed snort of laughter escaped Buffy's lips at the sight. "You are really cute, though."

Angel growled angrily, then shook his head. "Look, Buffy, now isn't the best time to have a little talk," he said. "I've got everyone working on this, and maybe when Wes or somebody finds a way to break the spell, we can..."

"Who did this to you?" Buffy said. She was over the initial shock and was rapidly regaining her composure, not to mention her battle instincts.

"There's this kid's show in town called Smile Time," Angel told her. "Looks like there might be demonic activity involved, sucking energy out of kids and leaving them in comas."

"That's horrible!" Buffy declared, her eyes widening in shock.

"Oh, and being turned into a puppet is okay?" Angel said sharply.

"No, of course not," Buffy said, shaking her head. "So, you went down to where they produce this show, and...?"

"This happened," Angel admitted.

"Okay," Buffy said, slipping back into command mode. "You stay here where you're protected. If any of your enemies find out you're in this condition, they're sure to come after you."

"Uh, most of my enemies work for me now," Angel told her.

"Oh," Buffy said, frowning. "Right. Well, still, stay here. Does Harmony have the address of this place?"

"Well, yeah, but..."

"Okay then. I'll see you shortly," Buffy said. She turned on her heel and marched out the door. After a brief visit to Harmony's desk, she walked through the lobby towards the building's entrance.

Puppet Angel watched her go in shock and admiration. She was so brave, so in command. No wonder he'd fallen in love with her so powerfully. What man wouldn't? Actually, he reflected, being hugged like that hadn't been all bad. Maybe when she got back from the Smile Time studio...

Suddenly, Puppet Angel's wide mouth dropped open and his heavy brow raised in alarm. He ran out of his office as quickly as his little legs could carry him, out into the lobby, where everyone stopped to stare at him again like they had earlier, but that wasn't important, nowhere near as important as...

"BUFFY!" Angel shouted, but she was nowhere to be seen. She'd already left.

Some time later, Buffy was walking through an abandoned corridor at the Smile Time studios. She walked cautiously, her narrow, fair brows creased in a slight frown. All her senses were on alert, as they always were when she was heading into a potentially dangerous situation. She knew she probably wouldn't be encountering vampires, but not for the first time, her fingers touched her jacket, feeling the shape of the wooden stake that was in her inside coat pocket.

She rounded a corridor and spotted a file cabinet that was askew, pushed away from what looked like its normal resting place against the wall, revealing a large hole. Buffy stared at the hole for a moment. She could hear a low, throbbing rumble coming from it.

"Now I know why kids' shows gave me the creeps once I hit puberty," Buffy muttered. She walked up to the hole and through it.

She entered a dark hallway illuminated only by a buzzing overhead light. She looked down the corridor and saw a doorway, labeled only with a simple red and white sign that said "DON'T". Her brows raised.

"Talk about your reverse psychology," she said as she walked towards the door.

The room was normally padlocked, but Buffy could see the lock had been torn off. By Angel, perhaps? She pulled the door open and walked through.

Inside was a nondescript room in gun-metal grey. In its center, an obese man sat in a chair; a towel over his head obscuring his features. Above him was a large metallic egg that was glowing and humming. Buffy stepped towards the man.

"You...shouldn't be here...either," the man suddenly said, his voice weak.

"Yeah, I got that impression from the welcome sign you hung out there, not to mention the X-Files atmosphere," Buffy replied. "Listen, tubby, I'm here because a friend of mine..."

Suddenly, the egg hovering above the man hummed louder. A section of it opened in the shape of an ersatz smile, revealing a brightly glowing interior. Buffy frowned and stared at it.


Angel sat in his office, waiting anxiously. He felt so useless, so...impotent. He reflected bitterly that the term was doubly appropriate since he wasn't anatomically correct. Just another aggravation about being a G-rated, family-friendly puppet.

He silently cursed the spell which had changed him into a puppet for the umpteenth time since it had happened. Once he'd realized that Buffy was heading for the Smile Time studios, his puppet excitability had gotten him so agitated that it had taken him nearly a quarter of an hour to convey what had happened to Gunn, Wes, Fred, and Lorne. Spike, as usual, was nowhere to be found any time he might actually be useful, not that Angel minded with Buffy around. But precious minutes had been lost. Now all he could do was sit and wait for the tactical team to report in.

Suddenly, the door to his office opened. He looked up hopefully. Wes walked in, his steps slow and heavy, his face more troubled than usual, and that was saying something. He walked into the office, leaving the door open behind him, and approached Angel's desk. The ex-Watcher's dark eyes did not stop gazing at the carpet until he came to a stop in front of Angel's desk.

"The tactical team...?" Angel asked.

Wes took a deep breath before answering. "I'm...sorry, Angel," he said quietly in his cultured British accent. "They...didn't get there in time."

"You mean..."

Suddenly, Angel heard several soft, rapid footfalls from behind Wesley, as if some tiny creature was running towards his desk. The footfalls stopped and Wesley took a surprised step back as a small figure jumped from the floor to the top of Angel's desk.

Angel's broad puppet mouth dropped open in shock. His small, beady black eyes slowly looked the figure standing on his desk up and down. The small, oval-shaped felt head was draped by long blond hair. Thick black lashes were atop the button-shaped eyes, which were set into a flesh-colored felt face, and sat above a wide mouth with two tiny red lips embossed in its middle like little butterfly wings. A tiny brown leather coat over a white blouse covered the torso of a slender puppet body that was subtly feminine, and black pants and tiny black leather boots clad her short puppet legs. Though her features now made it difficult to convey, Angel could see that she was glaring at him. When she crossed her little arms over her chest and cocked her head to one side, it just confirmed it.

"I hope you realize," Puppet Buffy said testily, "that this is ALL YOUR FAULT!!"

To be continued...