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 3

Polo Puppet, the leader of the group of demons running Smile Time, pressed his hands against the camera. He could feel the life energy of the children watching the show flowing through him and into the nest egg. It felt incredible. All that innocence and purity surging through him--not even sex came close to how blissful it felt.

"Oh! Ohh... let it go! Let it all go!" he moaned rapturously. "After's Smile Time!" he added as his puppet features took on a decidedly malevolent cast.

"No, it's not," a male voice declared from a few yards away.

Polo gasped and looked towards the speaker. He saw a dark-haired, heavy-browed puppet, holding a sword, glaring at him. He'd never seen this puppet before, but knew who it must be in an instant: Angel. Another puppet, this one female, stood beside him, brandishing a small battle-axe, and a tall dark-skinned human in a finely-tailored suit was standing behind them.

"'s time to kick your puppet ass all the way back to hell!" Puppet Buffy said.

Puppet Angel frowned and turned towards her. "I was gonna say that..." he said petulantly. Puppet Buffy just shrugged and launched herself forward with a battle yell, swinging her little battle-axe threateningly. "She always gets the best lines," Angel muttered as he followed her into battle.

"Get them!" Polo Puppet yelled to his comrades as Buffy, Angel, and Gunn attacked them.

Polo stepped back, away from Buffy's attack. Polo's fellow demon, the Puppet Girl with No Name, snarled, snatched up a large, brightly-painted lollipop set decoration, and ran forward to take on Buffy. Puppet Angel ducked past them in pursuit of Polo Puppet. Gunn stepped forward and was confronted by a growling, snarling Groofus, the dog puppet.

"You're ruining the show!" Groofus said.

"We're workin' on it," Gunn replied. As he raised his sword on a backswing, Groofus attacked, launching himself at Gunn and forcing the battle-ready lawyer to back-pedal.

Angel and Polo were now engaged in an all-out battle. Angel swung his sword at Polo, but the puppet demon ducked out of its way and threw himself at Angel's mid-section. The body-blow knocked the sword from Angel's grip, and Polo wound up on top of Angel and began to pummel him with his little felt fists.

"It's a full-scale attack!" Polo yelled to the others. "Ratio!" he shouted to the large, purple puppet who communicated entirely through a horn in his face. "The nest egg!" Ratio Hornblower jumped up with a panicked toot and quickly waddled out of the studio to protect the container of the children's life energy.

Polo returned his attention to Angel. He lifted the puppet champion and punched him, knocking Angel into the television set's dog house. Polo stepped towards the dog house just as Puppet Angel's hand reached out, grabbed Polo, and pulled him inside. The little house began to rock and shake as the battle continued inside it, the sound of the two puppet's blows and grunts escaping through the dog house's little door.

"Angel!" Buffy shouted, seeing her ex-boyfriend in trouble. Then Puppet Girl swung the lollipop at her, and Buffy barely leapt up out of the cheery decoration's path in time.

"Worry about yourself, missy!" Puppet Girl shouted, swinging the lollipop again. "I'm gonna knock you down and tear out those pretty eyes!"

"Now that's just rude," Buffy said. Buffy raised her axe and caught the lollipop as it swung towards her head. To her surprise, the set decoration did not break against the metal axe's sharp blade. "Wow," she said, "that's some lollipop."

"It's not a lollipop!" Puppet Girl said. "It's a jawbreaker!" she shouted, drawing the decoration-cum-weapon back and swinging it yet again.

Buffy stepped back from the swing, but the lollipop caught her battle-axe and knocked it from her hands. The axe spun through the air and clattered across the floor away from Buffy. Puppet Girl leered at her triumphantly.

"'Jawbreaker'? Hey, I'm the one with the lame puns, okay?" Buffy said as she warily backed away from her opponent.

Behind her, Gunn was rolling around on the floor, his hands tightly gripping Groofus, who was snarling and trying to tear his throat out.

"Just my luck," Gunn said through teeth clenched into a grimace, "I get the junk-yard puppet dog."

"I'm gonna bite your balls off!" Groofus snarled. Gunn's eyes went wide, then his face folded into an angry, determined frown as he renewed his struggle with the puppet canine.

Meanwhile, Puppet Girl was swinging her lollipop at Buffy, who was desperately, if nimbly, doing her best to avoid getting struck by the brightly-painted and surprisingly solid set decoration.

"I'm gonna tear you apart, little girl!" Puppet Girl snarled.

"I'll settle for knocking the stuffing out of you," Buffy said, then leapt away from another swing of the lollipop. "Get it?" she asked. "Puppet? Stuffing?" Puppet Girl only growled at her. "You know, you're never going to get ahead in children's entertainment if you don't have a sense of humor."

Puppet Girl swung the lollipop at Buffy, but the Vampire Slayer anticipated the attack. She threw herself forward and somersaulted beneath the lollipop and past Puppet Girl, towards her fallen battle-axe. Buffy rolled to a sitting position, grabbed the axe, then lay back to avoid another swing of Puppet Girl's lollipop. Buffy drew her little puppet legs up to her chest, then flung them forward, allowing her legs' momentum to throw her to her feet. Before her opponent could swing her lollipop again, Buffy deftly struck with her battle-axe, swinging it in a deadly arc. The blade cut cleanly through Puppet Girl's neck and sent her little round head flying through the air. It landed and bounced once on the studio floor, then Puppet Girl's body dropped the lollipop, teetered one way, then the other, and finally toppled over.

"Guess you'll never get ahead now. Heh, 'a head', get it?" Buffy said. She glanced around, but Gunn and Angel were busy with their own battles. "Hrmph. If a pun falls in the forest, and there's no one paying ANY ATTENTION...?"

Angel and Polo burst out of the dog house and rolled to a stop on the studio floor. Angel landed on top of Polo, pressing him down and choking him.

"So," Polo said, noticing Angel's enhanced strength, "you got a little demon in ya!"

"I got a lot of demon in me," Angel declared. Suddenly, his puppet forehead contorted and two fangs emerged from his mouth. His eyes turned red and feral. Polo puppet gasped in fear at the sight of Angel's puppet vampire face. "Now come on!"

Angel lifted Polo from the ground and threw him towards the treehouse. The demon puppet flew through the air and smashed into the treehouse railing. The railing broke, Polo fell, and then the treehouse collapsed on top of him. The lead puppet demon lay limp beneath it.

Angel glared at Polo for a moment. Seeing his opponent did not stir, he turned to check on his fellow combatants. Puppet Buffy was standing over the decapitated body of Puppet Girl, while Gunn was pushing himself to his feet and brushing the dismembered remnants of Groofus' stuffing from his finely-tailored suit.

"Gunn?" Angel said.

"Think I'm good," Gunn said as he glanced at two of Groofus' torn, furry limbs, and threw them aside.

Puppet Buffy walked up to Angel. She was staring at him.

"What?" Angel said to her.

"You have...puppet vamp face," Buffy said.

"Oh. Yeah," Angel replied morosely. "I bet it's cute and adorable too..."

"Actually," Buffy said, "it's giving me a major-league wiggins."

"Oh," Angel said. He gave his head a shake, and it returned to normal. Puppet normal, anyway. "That better?"

"Marginally," Buffy said as she examined his heavy-browed puppet features.

They turned their heads as Wesley and Fred entered the studio. Fred was carrying a scroll in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Wesley was busy wiping away what looked like popcorn Styrofoam packing material from his clothing.

"The nest egg...?" Angel asked them.

"Taken care of," Wesley answered, and continued to pick stuffing from his shirt. "We had a slight problem with the big puppet...'Ratio Hornblower'..."

"...but I blew him away," Fred said, patting her shotgun, then giggling girlishly.

Wesley turned and beamed at her. "That's very clever," he commented. Fred blushed and smiled.

"Oh sure," Buffy muttered. "Everybody loves her puns..."

"Uh, guys," Angel said, glancing at his little felt hands, then at Buffy. "Good work, but, uh...why are we still puppets?"

Wesley and Fred stopped smiling at one another to look at Angel and Buffy, who remained in puppet form. "Oh, uh," Fred stammered, "it, might, you know, take a little while to wear off." She shrugged apologetically.

"Define 'a little while'," Buffy said sharply, crossing her little puppet arms across her chest.

"A few hours," Wes answered, then coughed and glanced uncertainly at Fred. "Or...days...?"

"DAYS?!?" Buffy snapped. She sighed angrily. "GOD, I hate L.A."

Puppet Angel sat atop several phone books he'd placed on his office chair so he could see over the top of his desk. Puppet Buffy was sitting on top of the desk, her little legs hanging over the edge and swinging idly as Angel finished debriefing his team.

"Well, I guess that's it," Angel said. "Once this mystical mojo wears off and Buffy and I are back in human form, we can consider this case closed. That's all for now."

Wes, Fred, Gunn, and Lorne rose from their chairs, all of them still casting glances back at the two puppets.

"I still say it's weird takin' orders from a puppet," Gunn muttered once they'd left Angel's office.

"It's watching the two of them together that I find most disturbing," Wesley said quietly.

"Awww, I think they're kind of cute together!" Fred declared. Gunn just rolled his eyes and walked away. Fred glanced at Wesley. "Could to you about something in your office?" she asked. Wesley nodded, and Fred smiled.

Meanwhile, in Angel's office, the two puppets sat in an awkward silence for a moment after the others had left. Puppet Angel's heavy brow rose, and he sighed. He pushed himself off of the phone books and jumped down to the floor.

"Well," he said to Buffy, "you're...welcome to stay here until this wears off."

"I wouldn't want to be a burden," Buffy said as she pushed herself off the desk and landed on the floor next to him.

"You're not a burden," Angel declared softly. "You could never be a burden, Buffy. Not to me..."

"Angel," Buffy said, interrupting him. "Look, I came here to say something to you, and I want to say it. Now seems like a good time." Angel nodded. Buffy sighed, turned, and slowly walked away from him. "Andrew told me what he said to you. About none of us trusting you anymore."

Angel nodded. "Was that true?"

"It was," Buffy said sadly. She turned around to face Angel. "You have to understand. We heard you were running the L.A. branch of Demons R Us," she said, glancing around and waving her arms at the office and the building in which they found themselves. She looked at Angel again. "And you didn't call me to explain why," she added reproachfully.

"I know," Angel admitted, glancing down at the carpet. "I have enough on your plate," he said with a shrug. How could he have possibly explained it to her? How could he have told her about the son he'd had, and given up, that no one else now remembered?

"Maybe," Buffy said. She began to slowly walk back towards him. "Regardless, I thought about it, comes down to one thing. I believe in you, Angel." Angel's head rose, and he regarded Buffy with surprised appreciation. "Always have, always will. So, I realized, whatever you're doing here, you have a reason. And a plan. You don't have to tell me about them, though. Because...I do trust you."

Angel could only stare at her in silence at first. "Thanks," he eventually managed to mutter. "That means...a lot, you saying that." He did not add, however, that while he certainly had a reason--one that a mystical spell had ensured that everyone had forgotten about, save him--he didn't really have a plan. But first Cordelia, and now Buffy, were making him realize that he needed one.

Buffy nodded. "I thought it might, and that it would mean more if I said it in puppet, as it were. Anyway, that's what I came here to say." She turned and took a step towards the office door.

"Buffy, wait," Angel said, stepping towards her quickly; Buffy stopped. "There's...I want to..." He sighed. "Look, seeing you again, you have to know, it does things to me, and..."

"Angel," Buffy said, her voice sad but firm as she interrupted him again, "there's...something else I came here to tell you. Something that I think it's better to tell you myself, in person. You deserve that much." Angel watched her expectantly. "I'm...seeing someone."

Angel stared at her, in silent shock, for several moments. "Oh," he finally said. "Well. Good," he added, unconvincingly. "I mean, you know, as long as you're happy..."

"I'm not perfectly happy," Buffy said with a sad smile.

Angel's mouth curled slightly. "That's supposed to be my problem," he said.

"It's not the only one," Buffy said. "Please, don't pretend you don't have a problem with this. I know you better than that."

Angel frowned. "You're damn right I'm not okay with this," he said. He turned from her, and his hands tightened into fists. "The thought of you with anyone else...I mean, Spike was bad enough, and let's not even start with Riley Do-Right, but...anyone..."

"I know," Buffy said sadly. "I wish....well. Anyway. I just preferred that you hear it from me."

She turned to go once again. Angel spun around, walked towards her, and caught her arm. "Buffy..." he said.

"Please, Angel, don't say anything," Buffy said, her voice cracking with emotion. "It'll be easier for both of us if you don't."

"I won't say a word," Angel declared ardently.

He gently took hold of Buffy's arms, then turned her to face him. They stared into one another's eyes for a moment. Then Angel pulled her body against his own and wrapped his arms around her. Buffy gasped softly and placed her hands upon his chest. But she didn't push him away. Angel leaned towards her. He pressed his lips against hers, softly at first, then passionately. Buffy sighed softly and threw her arms around his neck. They kissed, their mouths pressed together, dry felt rubbing against dry felt, the polyester stuffing compressing beneath it...

Angel and Buffy broke the kiss and released one another. They each took a step back.

"Well," Puppet Angel said, somewhat embarrassed, "that was...different."

"Yeah," Puppet Buffy said. "Might have been better if we weren't, you know, puppets."

"I guess."

"A for effort, though, Romeo," she teased him.

"Thanks," Angel said. "I just...kind of got carried away. Which, I know, is dangerous with you and me, but hey, we're puppets, right? It's not like we were going to...well, you know..."

The two puppets stared at one another for a very long moment.

"Okay," Puppet Buffy said, "did you just go to a scary visual place?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Right. Me too. Time to go," she said and turned towards the door yet again. "Tell Spike..." she began to say, then paused, and shrugged her puppet shoulders helplessly. "Tell him good-bye for me," she said sadly.

"Call me when you get back?" Angel said.

"Of course," Buffy replied softly.

She then walked out of his door, and out of his life, yet again. Angel sighed, then turned and walked back to his desk. He jumped up into his chair to stare morosely at the desktop for several minutes. After a while, he reached for one of his pens, just so his hands would have something to do while he engaged in some heavy-duty brooding. As he grasped the pen, he suddenly noticed that his hand was back to its usual, five-fingered, flesh-and-bone self. He glanced down and realized he was sitting about a foot higher than normal. The spell had worn off. He should have felt elated, but he didn't. With a sigh, he stood up and removed the phone books from his chair.

As he sat down again, his office door opened and Spike walked in. The blond vampire stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted Angel sitting behind his desk.

"Well," Spike said, "look at you. All flesh and otter blood, eh?"

"Yeah," Angel muttered. "Everything's back to normal..." he added bitterly.

Spike's eyes widened in sudden realization. "So...Buffy must be herself again too!"

"I guess," Angel said morosely. He glanced at Spike and caught the vampire's quizzical expression. "She's gone. Left a few minutes ago."

"SHE'S GONE?!?" Spike exclaimed. "And wot, you just let 'er go?" Spike turned and began to walk towards the office door. "Well, sod you, broody boy," he said over his shoulder, "I'm not gonna sit on my arse and give up on the best thing..."

"Spike," Angel said. There was something in the tone of Angel's voice--an absence of the usual anger and contempt with which he usually uttered that name, and a hint of...sympathy?--that made Spike stop dead, turn, and look back at his fellow ensouled vampire.

"Wot?" Spike asked.

"She's...seeing someone," Angel told him.

Spike stared at him, as if the statement made no sense whatsoever. Then realization slowly dawned on Spike's features, especially when he heard the undeclared addendum in his head: someone who isn't us.

"Oh," Spike said. He took a step back into the office, then stopped. "Well." He glanced down at the carpet and, not knowing what else to do, simply stood there.

"Yeah..." Angel murmured and cast his eyes down to stare at the surface of his desk.

The two vampires remained that way for some time, each lost in his own thoughts. They did not part company, apparently taking whatever cold comfort could be found in one another's presence. Outside, on the other side of the specially-treated glass that protected them from its rays, the sun sank behind the towering spires of downtown Los Angeles. The sky gradually grew dark with the onset of night.

The End