Disclaimer: Angel and his respective adversaries belong to Joss Whedon and Co., and all of 'Charmed' belongs to Constance M. Burge; I'm just using them for the moment
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Sent to the Witch
Even as he spoke, Paige couldn't quite bring herself to believe it.
It couldn't be true…
Angel couldn't be back; they hadn't had time to perfect the curse…
"Where are we?" Angel asked, looking uncertainly around himself as he slowly got to his feet, still staring shakily at her in a manner that made it clear he had no idea what was happening. "I-I don't remember."
As she silently stared at the vampire who had so recently been trying to kill her and suck the world into Hell- not necessarily in that order-, Paige realised she already believed him.
Not only was the confusion in his eyes too genuine to be any kind of deception- no matter how good an actor was, he wasn't that good-, but, more than that, his eyes…
The eyes that had for so long haunted her nightmares ever since Angelus had first looked at her with them, that dark night when she'd walked in on him threatening to kill Piper…
They were no longer filled with that horrific emptiness; they had regained the warm compassion that had drawn her to him all those months ago.
"A… Angel?" she whispered, lowering the sword as she looked at him.
"Paige…" Angel replied, as she stepped towards him and allowed him to wrap his arms around her, once again feeling the wonderful coolness of his body, soft and soothing after the sweat she'd worked herself into while fighting Angelus…
"I… I feel like I haven't seen you in months…" Angel continued, confusion still the dominant emotion in his voice as he tightened his grip on her. "Oh god… everything's so muddled… I…"
He sighed slightly, clearly trying to shake off his confusion, before he lowered his head slightly to softly kiss her shoulder.
"Oh, Paige…" he whispered.
For a moment, Paige felt like she could stand there forever, simply holding Angel- Angel!- in her arms once again, revelling in these moments when he didn't remember what he'd done to be in this position…
Then her eyes fell on the slightly-rumbling Alcathla, just a few steps behind him, and Paige knew that she couldn't do that.
Alcathla was about to wake up.
If she wanted to stop this before it got out of hand, she had to act now…
"What's happening?" Angel asked, stepping back slightly, confusion on his face as the rumbling continued; it couldn't be long before Alcathla awoke.
"Shh…" Paige whispered reassuringly, as she raised one hand to brush her finger over his lips.
If things had already reached the point of no return… if putting Alcathla back to sleep would require more blood…
She'd do it.
Not just because it was her duty as a Charmed One, but because Angel would never be able to forgive himself if his demon caused the end of the world.
No! Paige thought resolutely as she stepped back.
She wasn't a killer by nature; no matter how much combat training Angel had given her, she would not resort to killing something unless she was certain she had to do it.
Killing demons and vampires were one thing; they were killers by nature most- if not all of- the time, so it was a straightforward case of kill them before they could kill anyone else.
Killing someone who hadn't done anything wrong… when there might still be another way to save them…
Paige had to try it.
"Don't worry about it," she said, still looking up at Angel as she leaned in and kissed him, her very being feeling like it was on fire once again as Angel's familiar cool lips met hers, his own low body temperature cooling her as his lips and tongue massaged her own, her own tongue slipping around his mouth to find the familiar nooks and crannies that she'd been unable to explore since his curse was broken…
"I love you," she whispered softly as she pulled back.
"I love you too," Angel replied, briefly drawing Paige's memory back to the last time he'd said those four words to her, the moment before they'd finally consummated their relationship, granting Angel the perfect happiness that neither of them had known was his nemesis…
NO, Paige told herself harshly.
She was not going to reflect on that; the outcome to this encounter was going to be different…
"Close your eyes," she said simply.
As Angel closed his eyes, Paige tensed herself, took a hold of his hand, raised his arm, and then slashed at his sleeve- the shirt Angelus had been wearing was a simple black one that Angel had several of, so she doubted that he'd be that bothered about the damage-, raising her hand as soon as blood began to seep from the wound.
"Blood!" she yelled, watching as the blood from the cut turned into white light before she hurled it behind Angel onto Alcathla as the statue stood immobile, following it up by pushing aside as she thrust the sword- still stained with his blood from the scratch she'd just inflicted- into the statue. For a moment nothing happened, and then, after one last violent shudder- which briefly left Paige wondering if she'd failed-, the statue fell silent, the hideous stone face before her simply glaring silently at her once again, the sword in its chest and Angel's blood splattered over its face.
"P… Paige?" a voice said from off to the side, prompting Paige to turn around to look at Angel once again, her heart nearly breaking at the confusion on his face at what she had just done.
If only she could prolong this moment when he didn't know what his demon had been doing since they'd last been together…
But she knew all too well that it wouldn't last; Angel had told her that it had taken him a few minutes to remember Angelus's crimes after he'd regained his soul the last time, and there was no reason to presume that wouldn't be the case now.
"Angel…" she said, taking a deep breath as she looked at him, "it's… well, a lot of stuff's been happening lately…"
"What?" Angel asked, his tone sounding more assertive as he walked towards her, confusion still clear in his eyes even as he managed to regain his old composure. "What's been 'happening' lately, Paige? What are we doing here? The last thing I remember…"
His voice trailed off mid-sentence, his eyes widening in horror as he stared up at something that only he could see.
"Oh God…" Paige whispered, hurrying over to crouch down beside Angel as he fell to his knees, hands clutching his forehead as tears began to from his eyes once again. "Angel, you have to listen to me, it was a clause in your curse, it wasn't your fault, you couldn't have known that would happen-"
"Don't touch me!" Angel yelled, shooting back to his feet as he looked at Paige in horror; Paige was almost certain that she saw Angel looking at her hands as though he thought she was carrying a stake. "How can you… I tried to kill you, Paige! I tortured Leo… I threatened Piper… Hell, I was working with the Source… How can you just… sit there and act like it never happened?"
After a moment's silence, Paige got back to her feet as she looked Angel directly in the eyes.
"You're right," she said simply. "I can't forgive you."
As Angel turned around as though he was about to leave, Paige grabbed his arm, turning Angel around to look at her once again, a confused expression on the face of the once-again ensouled vampire as he stared back at her.
"I can't forgive you for doing all those things, because you didn't do them," the half-Whitelighter elaborated, looking at Angel with a slight smile on her face. "Angelus isn't you, Angel; doesn't the fact that you're feeling sorry about what he did prove that? You share a body and a memory; that's the be-all and end-all of what you two have in common."
Walking forward slightly, Paige reached up to gently touch Angel's cheek with the palm of her hand, subtly forcing him to look back up at her as she stared resolutely at him, allowing all the love she felt for him to shine through as she.
"And I don't care about what you did as him, Angel," she continued, smiling softly at him as she spoke. "All I care about is what you do as you… and I know that you would never do anything like that to me or my family."
Once again, there was a brief silence, the two of them simply staring into each other's eyes, until, finally, Angel smiled slightly at her.
"You're perfect, you know that?" he asked her, his eyes finally devoid of the cold malice that had always tainted Angelus's when he had smiled at Paige during their various confrontations.
Paige chuckled in an embarrassed manner.
"I try," she said simply, before another thought occurred to her and she looked sternly at her restored boyfriend. "Oh, and before you go all 'We're finished because I can't let all that crap happen to us again', I'd like to point out that we had some help while casting this; we called a member of the tribe who cursed you and she helped us 'tweak' the curse before we cast it to get rid of that little loophole."
"Wh… what?" he said, looking at her incredulously. "You… you fixed the curse?"
"Well, it's not like there's no catch whatsoever- you need to consciously remember that the curse is there when you… y'know, get into that situation… otherwise it's the same as it was before-, but that aside…" Paige explained, shrugging casually as she looked up at her boyfriend with a broad smile. "Your soul's permanent now."
Angel looked at her for a moment as though he couldn't believe what he was hearing, before he suddenly lowered his head and pressed his lips against Paige's once again. Paige didn't even flinch slightly at the feel of Angel's cool lips once again pressed against hers; she just reached up and clasped her arms tightly around his neck, unable to stop herself from smiling slightly as she felt his arms wrap around her once again.
It hadn't been an easy few months, but she was finally back in Angel's arms after thinking she'd never experience them again except when his body wanted to break her neck.
She'd stopped the world from going to Hell, and saved the soul of the most wonderful, caring, compassionate, tortured, courageous guy she'd ever met.
At last… something had gone right in her witch-related life after all the crap she'd been through the last few months…
"So," Piper said, as she looked uncertainly over at Jenny, "what was all that about?"
After Jenny had regained consciousness shortly after Paige's departure, the three women had set themselves up around the Romany woman's bed in order to prepare the curse once again, Darryl collecting the necessary resources for them from the apartment, subsequently positioning himself outside the room to make sure that nobody came in to find them as they cast the spell. There'd been this rather weird moment when something seemed to try to… possess Jenny in order to cast the curse, but with Piper and Phoebe acting as conduits, the spirit had been able to exert complete influence over Jenny, and the ritual had proceeded just as she'd originally written it.
"The… spirit?" Jenny asked, shrugging uncertainly as she looked over at the other two women. "I… I really don't know, I'm sorry; I mean, it seemed malevolent- from what little I was able to sense while you two held it back-, but beyond that…"
She shrugged. "I really just… I don't know what it was after."
After a moment's silence as the three women looked between each other, Piper shrugged.
"Well, what's done on that front is done; all that matters is, did we get that soul back to where we wanted it to go, or didn't we?" she said, as she looked over at the other two.
"Well…" Jenny began, looking uncertainly around at the two sisters before she spoke again. "Really, with something like this, the only way we can really know whether or not it worked is if-"
The familiar sound of orbing suddenly filled the room, swiftly followed by the familiar white lights as Paige appeared, a broad grin on her face that neither Piper or Phoebe had seen since Angel had lost his soul, the familiar form of the vampire in question beside her, his eyes filled with the same warm glow that they hadn't seen him possess since that night that he and Paige had left the mansion to stop Spike and Drusilla from assembling the Judge.
It was over.
Angel was back.
"Uh… hi," the vampire in question said after a moment's silence, looking uncomfortably around at the people who his alter ego had so recently sent to the hospital (Just because Angelus hadn't actually attacked them himself didn't mean they didn't know he'd ordered it done). "I… I'm back."
For a moment, Piper, Phoebe and Jenny stared silently back at the vampire before them, before Piper stepped forward.
"Good to have you back, Angel," she said simply, as she held out a hand towards the vampire who'd- even if only or a few months- become one of the best bartenders P3 had ever had. "Seriously, we really could have used your kind of help these last few months; your soulless counterpart is not an easy guy to get along with."
"What she said," Phoebe added, smiling slightly at Angel even as she kept her arms folded as she stood alongside the bed where Jenny still lay, the gypsy woman looking uncertainly at the vampire before her. For a moment Piper thought about criticising her sister's attitude- couldn't she see how much happier Paige was now, with Angel's arm wrapped around her shoulders as the two of them stole a brief look into each other's eyes before Angel turned to talk to Jenny?-…
But, at the same time, with Cole's 'death' (Or whatever state he was in now; that bit where he'd switched Phoebe and Jackman around so that Jackman shot himself still confused her) still a fresh wound, she supposed it was only natural that Phoebe might feel a bit… uncomfortable…
"Jenny Calendar?" Angel's voice said, breaking into Piper's train of thought as he stepped away from Paige to walk towards the bed where the dark-haired young woman lay. "I… I understand I have you to thank for my soul."
"Well, when you get a call from the Charmed Ones to work on a curse, you don't exactly say 'no'," Jenny replied, smiling slightly back at Angel before she winced and raised a hand to her head. "Sorry, I'm still a little dazed; casting that kind of thing can take a lot out of you…"
"I know," Angel said as he stepped forward, reaching out to place a hand on Jenny's shoulder. "Which is why I want to thank you for being willing to do it for me, even after what I did to your people-"
"What Angelus did to my people was unforgivable, yes, but you're not Angelus," Jenny interjected, looking pointedly back at Angel as she indicated where Paige was current standing behind him. "Your girlfriend over there made… well, let's just say that she made a convincing argument for you and your demon being separate people."
Angel could only shrug slightly at that as he turned back to smile at Paige.
"Yeah… she has a way of convincing you to do stuff," he said, sharing a brief grin with Paige as he spoke (Piper had little doubt that he was remembering how Paige had convinced him to give 'them' a shot all those months ago; if Paige hadn't been so insistent that she didn't care about the vampire thing Piper sometimes wondered how long Angel would have stuck around after they learned his secret), before he turned back to look solemnly at Jenny. "So… what are you going to do now?"
"Well…" Jenny said, pausing thoughtfully for a moment before she continued. "I've already managed to convince most of my clan that this new curse does what we wanted to with the original one; now I just need to convince them to leave you alone, and everything should be fine."
"Hold on; why would they need convincing to leave Angel alone?" Paige cut in, looking pointedly at Jenny. "He wasn't in control when Angelus killed those people; how often do I have to-"
"Let's just say some people can be very… stubborn… and leave it at that," Jenny said, looking apologetically at Paige as she shrugged slightly. "I managed to convince who I needed to convince in order to find the curse and make the necessary modifications to it, but there are still a few elders of my people who might need a bit more… time… to accept that Angel's not the same person he was before…"
"Just say the world and we'll be right down there to back you up," Piper said, nodding resolutely at Jenny as she looked back at Angel. "Hey, you may brood way too much for your own good at times, but you make my sister happy; that's good enough for me."
"Can I help it if he looks good when he's brooding?" Paige asked, shrugging slightly as she leaned over to give Angel a brief kiss before she stepped back to look contemplatively at him. "OK, so he looks good with pretty much any expression…"
Before Angel could make any kind of response to that- although Piper had little doubt that it would be an embarrassed one; she wasn't sure if the fact that he hadn't been able to look in a mirror for the last two centuries or so contributed to it, but Angel had never taken comments about his physical appearance that well-, he and Jenny suddenly froze mid-motion.
Given that Piper had been keeping her hands folded throughout this current conversation, it didn't take much effort to realise who was responsible for this latest turn of events.
"You always having to drop in like that?" Paige asked, looking over at the newly-arrived Angel of Destiny with a raised eyebrow as he stood casually in one corner of the hospital room.
"Well," the Angel of Destiny said as he looked casually around at the Charmed Ones, a nonchalant smile on his face as though he hadn't heard Paige's comment (Paige had a sneaking suspicion he'd heard her and had just decided not to respond to it), "still ready to retire?"
"Actually…" Phoebe said, looking briefly around the room before she finally shook her head, "I don't think so any more. We saved an innocent woman- and simultaneously shut down a ruthless killer while giving … kinda decent guy a second shot-, and… it felt good."
Glancing over at Paige, Piper wasn't surprised to see her youngest sister smiling at that; even if Phoebe's evident discomfort in his presence made it clear that she still didn't quite accept Angel, she acknowledged that he wasn't a bad guy.
It wasn't great, but that was clearly enough for Paige right now.
"Besides," Phoebe added, shrugging as though she was trying to be casual about this, "I got a little taste of what life would be like without my powers and I didn't like it at all."
"What about you?" the Angel asked, turning to look at Piper; evidently he had gathered that Paige still had no interest in sacrificing her powers.
Looking over at where the vampire her baby sister loved stood in one corner of the room, Piper shook her head with a wistful smile.
"Majority rules, right?" she said, as she turned back to the Angel. "Might as well make it unanimous; what can I say, we're masochists."
"Falling for a vampire?" Paige said, a slight grin her face as she looked over at your sister. "You've got to have at least some inclinations towards that kind of thing…"
Noting Piper and Phoebe's sudden stares, Paige sighed. "He's a bit of a biter when we're involved, what did you think I meant? Didn't you ever notice I always wore shirts that didn't advertise my assets after my dates?"
"Uh… OK, moving on from that issue," Piper said, fighting to stop herself from blushing as she looked back at the Angel, "the fact is, Phoebe's right when she said that this isn't a choice we have to make; it's who we are.
"You realise you won't get this opportunity again?" the Angel asked.
"We understand," Phoebe confirmed with a nod.
"Very well," the Angel said, nodding briefly at them before he turned to walk towards the door. For a moment, he paused as he walked past Angel, nodding thoughtfully as he studied the vampire, before he turned around again to look at Paige. "You two have a very fascinating destiny ahead of you, you know…"
"Should I be worried?" Paige asked, raising an eyebrow as she looked at the Angel with a slightly uncertain smile.
"I can't say," the Angel replied, even as he gave Paige a soft, small smile. "Just remember this; your feelings for him are very genuine, just as his are for you."
With that said, the Angel turned to look at Piper. "On the topic of destinies, you might like to know, keeping or losing your powers doesn't affect yours and Leo's personal one."
"What?" Piper asked, looking in confusion at the Angel.
"You'll find out soon," the Angel replied, glancing down at Piper's stomach before he turned around to head for the door of their hospital room.
"Oh my God…" Phoebe whispered, as she looked at Piper's stomach.
"What?" Piper asked.
"Don't you get it?" Phoebe said, indicating Piper's stomach with a broad grin. "You're pregnant!"
Piper barely even had time to blink before Paige and Phoebe had wrapped their arms around her, Phoebe all but shouting 'Hellos' into her chest while Paige simply squealed for joy (Not, Piper freely admitted, that she was making that much sense right now).
Oh my God… she mused to herself, barely even registering the Angel's disappearance as Angel and Jenny turned to look in confusion at the three sisters (Who, from their perspective, the part of Piper's mind that wasn't completely shell-shocked noted, had just moved several feet without anyone seeing them moving). I'm pregnant… I'm pregnant… I'm pregnant…
Angel was back to normal, Angelus was gone, her sister was no longer the Queen of Evil, the world hadn't been sucked into Hell, and she was pregnant…
It was official; life had finally decided to cut them a break.
AN: Well, that's the first part of this series over, but I assure you, that is NOT the end of the series itself; coming up, the events of "A Witch's Tail", as Angel tries to encourage the Charmed Ones to give Cole another chance, followed by the arrival of another half-demon as some very disturbing murders begin to take place…
Keep your eyes peeled; things are only going to get more interesting from here on in!