Author's Note: I meant this to be a stand alone at first, but then all my disagreements concerning the season came back to the fore, as Angel began its first year on Five, whereupon it turned into a new series. So, take yourselves back to the end of Heartthrob, where Angel has just finished talking to Cordelia about how he feels. This continues from there. As for Charmed, its none cannon orientated, and has Paige in and Prue alive. At the moment I intend for this to be the only episode that it crosses into.
I have to say goodbye.
At least, that was what he said to Cordelia when he left. The closer he got however, Angel doubted he ever really could. James' words had made him realise how numb he had been feeling, even in the monastery where he was fighting demons and trying to mourn for her. Truth was, the reality still had not set in. He had only heard the news, not witnessed it set in concrete. He never attended the funeral, for reasons he still had yet to explain to his friends. To this day, he had not even seen her grave.
Now, he was standing in front of it, stunned at the surroundings. The area itself was deserted, but Angel could tell that a few minutes ago it had contained people. He could smell magic in the air. Along with fresh blood. He noted the broken ancient pot, and the remains of its ingredients scattered in the ground. As he dropped to his knees to examine the scene more closely, the earth suddenly shook. The grass shifted apart, as a hand, followed by another, crawled its way out the grave.
Angel was still in shock by the time the person had finished climbing out of the grave. He stared at her, his lips forming her name aloud. "Buffy?"
She seemed lost, as if the scene was unfamiliar to her. Then her eyes locked upon his form. A cry was wrenched from her mouth. "You? How could you?" She threw herself forward, pushing him to the floor, her fists pounding against him in anger. Crying over and over, as she poured out her grief at being brought back.
Angel let her pummel him, her strength preventing him from doing much else. When she paused, he rapidly took control, rolling her on to the ground. He wrapped his arms around hers, stopping the pounding.
"Buffy," he began. "Buffy," he repeated until she looked him in the eye. "I swear to you I didn't do this." He relaxed his grip a fraction. "I knew where you ended up. Willow, the others, they all believed you were trapped in some hell dimension."
"Then, why are you here?"
Angel made to reply, but chuckled, as he realised the irony. "I came to say goodbye."
She chuckled as well; a soft laugh, signalling to him her mood. He got up off her and gathered her into his arms as the tears started to fall. Without a word he let her lean into him, kissing her hair and softly stroking her skin until she was spent.
When she had been quiet for a while, he spoke, his voice quiet to the ear. "What do you want to do?" He hesitated then, reluctant to let her go, but knowing that he had to ask. "Do you want to see the others?" She shook her head in a resounding negative. "Do you want them to know that it worked?"
"No," she answered, fear in its tone, as though she thought he would make her. Clinging to him, she repeated, "No. Please Angel don't. I don't want them to know. I don't want to go back. Please don't take me back."
He was silent for a minute, which turned out to be his undoing. Her fragile calm shattered. She broke into tears again, begging him over and over to take her away from them, until he was powerless to resist.
"Where did he say he was going?"
Cordelia turned to the speaker, half irritated by their persistence by now. "I told you, he didn't say. He just wanted to say goodbye."
"And he didn't say how long he would be?" Gunn asked.
"No, he didn't," her fuse shorted out. "What am I, his messenger? He'll be a long time, so just be..."
"Oh my god." That was Wesley.
"Patient," Cordelia continued, turning to face the Hyperion doors, which he had been watching, before gasping in shock herself. "Buffy?"
The slayer made no reply, and neither did her knight in leather, as he quietly carried her to the circular chair that was in the foyer and laid her down upon it. Brushing her hair away from her closed eyes, he looked up and started to explain. "When I arrived, the place was deserted. I think they brought her back. I saw remains of a ritual, enough to see that it was a dark one."
"Are you sure?" Wesley queried. "Because if it was, it wouldn't have worked. She would not have come back."
"I know," Angel replied. "And we need to find out why."
"What's going on?"
Gunn looked up to see Fred at the top of the stairs, gazing down at the scene below. "Hey," he answered in greeting, "how are you doing?"
"Okay I guess." She tentatively came down the rest of the way. "What's happening?" She glanced over to where Angel was. "Who's that?"
He was about to answer, but the doors opened, and another voice did that for him. "Well, I'll be blue suede shoed. What's the slayer doing here?"
"That's what we hoped you could find out," Wesley answered, moving from his post at the other end of the sofa, so the host could do his work.
Lorne looked northwards. "Will he move?"
The trio glanced at their namesake for their firm, who had not moved since he arrived at the place. In response he removed his eyes from her and looked up at the Host. "Help her," he half commanded, half pleaded, before relinquishing his guard.
They moved away from the sofa back to the desk. "I thought she was in a hell dimension?" Cordelia began.
"She wasn't," Angel replied. "She felt at peace." He paused, casting a worried glance back to her. "I felt her happiness."
"How?" Gunn asked.
Angel gestured to Wesley, who took over the explanation. "When vampires fall in love, they form a bond with their mate, through which they can feel their emotions, know when they are in trouble, and when they die."
"If she was at peace then, why did Willow bring her back?" Cordelia queried.
"Because they believed she was suffering."
"Couldn't you tell them, Angel?" Fred asked.
"I tried, and Willow assured me they wouldn't do this," Angel leant against the surface of the reception desk. "But Giles phoned a few weeks back with the suspicion that they might be trying something like this." He sighed. "I still don't understand why it worked."
"Well, she's a champion for the good isn't she?" Fred offered.
"Yes, but there's one slayer in every generation," Wesley commented. "When one dies the next is called. And the way magic works in this world, is due to the balance of good and bad, and the will of the Powers That Be. The only way for a ritual using dark magic to work, is if it is the will of the Powers to grant it. Which means that she wasn't meant to die."
"Wesley's right," Lorne had come back into the reception area. "She wasn't meant to die, Dawn was. With the right intent, a key can both open and close a doorway between dimensions. Of course the PTB forgot to remind the monks of that."
"How is she?" Angel asked.
"Considering she's been down the harsh stairway from heaven, not bad. Her healing will require more skill than I have though."
"So who can?"
"The Charmed Ones."
There was a mixed reaction. Wesley and Angel uttered a quiet gasp of awe. Cordelia, Fred and Gunn looked mystified. The latter was the first to speak. "Okay I'll bite. Who are the Charmed Ones?"
"Four extremely powerful witches," Wesley explained, the wonder still in his voice. "Their coming from the Warren line has long been prophesied."
"Well they go by the name Halliwell now," Lorne continued. "You'll need to go to San Francisco. Take Cordelia with you, their contact from the Powers will recognise her. The slayer's in no condition to explain anything."
Seven hours and a morning later, a black convertible drew up outside one of the old style streets that the city was famous for. Darkness had hit some hours ago, so after a bit of manoeuvring, the doorbell of thirteen twenty-nine Prescott Street was pressed.
A minute or so passed before the door was opened by a dark haired woman. She looked at them with the usual expression one deals to a total stranger calling in the middle of the night. "Yes?"
"Is this the Halliwells?"
Another expression came over her; one that Cordelia was used to seeing on Angel or Buffy. The kind reserved for suspicious demons. "Yes, why?"
Cordelia dropped the usual protective response. Truth was best in this case. "I was told you could help us. And that your contact with those above would recognise me, and assure you that we could be trusted."
The woman hesitated, looking her over, then stepped back. "Leo," she called out, her eyes not moving from their previous position.
A fair haired man came out of the room to her right. He took a look at her and then turned to the woman. "Its all right, Prue, you can let them in."
"I'm Cordelia," she explained, stepping inside. "And you have to verbally invite him," she added, gesturing to the man behind her.
"Why?" Prue asked, her suspicions back up.
"Don't worry, he's one of the good guys," Leo replied.
"Alright. Come in."
"Thank you," Angel said, gently carrying his mate inside. They followed the two into the lounge, where three other dark haired women, two of whom made space so he could lay her on a sofa.
Prue and Leo followed him, the latter expressing a surprised breath as he recognised the girl. "Of course, I understand."
"Understand what?" One of the women asked.
This was why I was a little late in getting home," Leo explained as he rested on the arm of the sofa. "The Elders were telling me about this. She's a chosen warrior for fate. They wanted her brought back, as her death was not meant to be, but the only way was through dark magic, so we need to heal her."
"Yes, there should be something in the Book of Shadows."
"I'll go and get it." Prue left the room.
Leo turned to the newcomers. "I guess I should make the introductions. Piper, Phoebe and Paige, these are Cordelia Chase; a seer, Angel a vampire and Buffy the vampire slayer."
"You're a vampire?" Paige repeated, staring at Angel.
"He was cursed with a soul by Gypsies over a hundred years ago," Cordelia answered for him. "Now he helps the helpless."
"I was sent to watch over her." Angel gestured to the girl lying in his arms.
"But they fell in love," Leo added.
"And the rest is a long story," Cordelia finished.
Prue returned with the Book. She laid it on the table. The ancient heirloom opened instantly, its pages flicking in search of the required spell. "Here it is," she answered.
Her sisters rose up to stand or sit by her so they could read the incantation. Leo stood over Buffy's form, his hands raised to heal. "Internal wounds hear our prayer. We call upon the Powers That Be. Allow us to heal this warrior of her scare. Let her be forever free, of the dark magic that has surrounded thee. Clothe her in the power of the light, and put to death the night. By the Power of Four, no evil is to be within her ever more."
A glowing aura, generated by Leo's hand rose around Buffy, and upon the completion of the spell, went inside her. A small dark cloud came out and rose to the ceiling, where it disappeared.
The slayer opened her eyes. She saw a room she did not recognise, with its curtains closed against the light of day, and lit lamps. "Where am I?" She asked.
A face came into view; Angel's. "In San Francisco."
"Why do I feel normal?" She asked, sitting up. "Well," she elaborated, "normal for me, that is."
Slowly, Angel explained. When he had finished, Buffy turned to the four witches in the room. "Thank you." She paused. "Do you know what I am meant to do now?"
A cloud of light sprinkles appeared as Leo entered the room. He kissed his wife in greeting, then sat next to her, opposite Angel, Buffy and Cordelia. "The Elders informed me of their change in your destinies. They were also able to get a few things fixed at last." He rose up and stood in front of Cordelia, his hands over her head. They glowed for a few seconds, then he removed them.
"What did you do?" Angel asked.
"I've given her the ability to experience the visions without it killing her."
"They were killing you?"
"I didn't want to tell you," Cordelia replied. "But I'm fine now, so don't brood over the matter."
"And now for you," Leo announced standing over him. His hands came over Angel's head, glowed and then he removed them and went to sit back down. "He's like you now," he remarked to Buffy. "A chosen human warrior."
When darkness came again to San Francisco, the black convertible made its way back to the City of Angels. Its driver turned his head to face the front passenger. "What do you want to do now?"
"I don't want to go back to Sunnydale," Buffy replied, speaking in a low tone for Cordelia who was sleeping in the back. "That last year there was hell." she sighed. "I can't forgive them for what they did to me. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to." She turned to face him properly. "If you'll have me, I'm offering my services to Angel Investigations."
"I can't speak for Wesley," Angel replied, "but..." he drifted off, pulling the car to a halt for a stop sign. Silently he shook his head. "I can't. I'd be too arrogant even to ask."
"Angel," Buffy smiled at him. "Ask away."
"Alright," He turned to face her. "Buffy, I know we have been apart for two years. I know things have changed for both of us during that time. But I still love you. And I would be honoured if you stayed. Not just for the job, but for me. If you'll have me."
"My answer was decided the moment Leo healed you." She leant forward and kissed him, claiming an instant and passionate response.
Angel pulled slightly away after a few moments. "There are some things that have happened to me that you won't like," he cautioned.
"I know," Buffy replied with calm surety. "I felt a lot of that through our bond. I would have come to help, but, after the last, I wasn't sure that I'd be welcome."
"It was better that you didn't. I wasn't in a very good place then. Things might have got out of hand."
"Well, we have a long drive ahead of us," Buffy smiled. "Lets exchange details. About everything. No secrets."
"Agreed." Angel took off the breaks, and the black convertible made its way back to Los Angeles.
To Be Continued In: