"This one qualifies as being just plain weird," Cordelia
said when the vision faded.
"Weird how?" Wesley asked.
"In the no sense of imminent danger way," Cordelia
said. "No pain, no fear, nobody dying."
"So what do the PTB want me to do?" Angel asked.
"They want you and Buffy to go to Toronto, the one in
Canada. I've even got the security code
to get in the building," Cordelia said.
"Why?" Angel asked.
"I don't know," Cordelia said. " I get this sense that whatever you're being sent to fix, it's
sort of a long standing frustration to the PTB. Also, they think it will be good for you? "
"I'll start making arrangements." Angel said.
"You're sure you can't come?" Angel asked. "Cordelia said you were there in the
vision. LaCroix fully intends to keep
Glory in check, you don't have to worry about leaving her unmonitored."
"I can't" Buffy replied tiredly. "I'm not risking LaCroix deciding to 'protect' Dawn by making her
a vampire too."
"I thought you were okay with this," Angel said unhappily
gesturing toward himself.
Buffy sighed. "I am…
it wasn't like there was an alternative."
"LaCroix will protect Dawn for my sake," Angel said. "And he'll oppose Glory for his
pride's. Please come."
"I'm sorry but no," Buffy said regretfully handing the plane
ticket back to Angel.
"I understand… I'll see you when I get back," Angel replied.
"You're sure you're going to be alright flying?" Cordelia
asked for the dozenth time as Angel collected his carry-on bag from the airport
"I'm sure," Angel replied with a touch of exasperation.
"Look I'm just remembering a dismembered arm and a certain
vampire who said flying was out of the question," Cordelia reminded Angel.
"This is hardly the same thing," Angel protested. "I'm flying from one major airport to
another, I won't even have to switch planes and the walkways at both airports
are completely enclosed. I'll actually
be inside until I leave the airport in Toronto. Sunlight won't be a problem."
"And you're sure you don't want one of us to come along?"
Wesley asked. "There is the ticket you
got for Buffy."
"I'm sure," Angel replied.
"From the sound of Cordelia's vision I don't think this is anything
urgent. I'll check out the situation
then call you with an update. We'll decide
if I need back up then, but if things heat up with Glory I'd rather you were
here to help Buffy. I'm practically
afraid to leave her and LaCroix together without anyone to act as a buffer."
"All right Angel," Cordelia said, hugging him. "Practice flying a little while your there,
it's the coolest and maybe if you learn that LaCroix will back off about you
not wanting to learn how to whammy people.
Be sure to call when you get there."
"Have a good trip," Wesley offered as Angel boarded the
plane. Once it had lifted off Wesley
and Cordelia began the long trek back to the car. Just as they reached it Cordelia staggered, grabbing Wesley's arm
for support as a vision slammed through her mind.
Angel, the background was a blur, but the dark haired vampire
was clear. As Cordelia watched his
features shifted, becoming someone else.
"Another vision so soon?" Wesley worried when Cordelia
"More of an addendum," Cordelia said pushing her hair out of
her face. "Buffy has to go, without
her, Angel's in gonna be in trouble."
As she explained Cordelia dialed Buffy's number on her cell
phone. After a few rings the Slayer
"It's Cordelia. I
had another vision, you have to go to Toronto."
"Cordy, you know I can't," Buffy protested.
"Look, I can take care of Dawn for a while," Cordelia
insisted. "I swear, I'll protect her
with my life and you know your friends will do the same, but Angel needs you,
specifically, in Toronto."
There was a long pause then Buffy said. "When is Angel leaving?"
"His plane just took off," Cordelia replied. "We'll get you on the next flight. I'm not sure how, but we'll do it."
"Don't worry about it," Buffy said. "I can travel Kendra style, it's probably
Angel keyed open the converted warehouse on Greymalkin lane
and stepped inside. His skin was
practically humming. He couldn't
explain it, but the closer he'd gotten to this place the more pronounced the
Even before the plane had landed he'd felt the first hint of
resonance and now that he was standing here it was so strong it was practically
tangible. Whatever it was that the PTB
wanted him to deal with, it was definitely here.
Angel summoned the cargo elevator and let it take him
upstairs. As he stepped into the loft
the sense of déjà vu was enough to make him stagger. It was like seeing the room (his home) from two sets of eyes at
The humming on his skin sank deeper, becoming a powerful
resonance in his bones. Angel wondered
if it would shake him apart, like a bridge when a vibration matched it's
Slowly he walked into the loft that was part living space,
part museum, looking around curiously (noting what was out of place).
Angel prowled around the room, looking for a clue as to what
the Powers wanted him to do, trying to shake the nagging sense of familiarity
that cloaked this place.
Suddenly Angel froze, an inexplicable chill racing through
his body. Guilt, sorrow, remorse and
resignation swept through his mind in an unstoppable tidal wave.
With a choked cry he sank to his knees in front of the
Buffy slipped out of the cargo plane and into the long
evening shadows. She rolled her neck
and shoulders slowly, easing the kinks her chosen method of travel had caused.
"We're going back first class," she muttered ruefully.
Reminding herself that this wasn't Sunnydale and the cops
here might not be 'deeply stupid', Buffy took some care to avoid official
notice until she'd joined the hordes of people who'd made more conventional
Buffy breathed a sigh of relief once she'd become yet
another anonymous face in the crowd, rather than a stow-away.
Her confidence buoyed by the trouble-free trip, Buffy hailed
a cab and passed on the address Cordelia had supplied her with.
As the cab took off Buffy reviewed her plan: find Angel, do
whatever it took to convince him he needed to return to LA immediately, then
catch the next plane home before Glory even realized she'd left. Simple.
Angel sat up and looked around himself in confusion,
wondering how he'd come to be sleeping in the middle of the floor.
"I suppose this would explained the nightmares," he said to
Angel got up from the floor and started toward the
kitchen. He opened the refrigerator door
and uncorked one of the bottles stored there only to end up retching as he
poured the thick congealed liquid down the drain. "Even Nat's concoctions aren't this bad," he said in disgust. "How long has that been in here?"
Almost fearfully he returned to the spot before the
fireplace where he'd awoken and carefully examined the area. After several minute's fruitless searching
he sighed with relief, then hurried upstairs.
Angel opened the closet door and changed into a vivid blue
silk shirt and black jeans. He glanced
at the table by the bed then hurried back down stairs and checked the kitchen
counters then the coffee table, still not finding what he was looking for,
Angel muttered a brief expletive in French.
Rapidly he searched the whole loft, only to find himself back in the
bedroom staring at the nightstand accusingly.
He checked his wristwatch and swore again then opened the steel shutters
on the loft's huge windows and effortlessly took flight.
A few minutes after he left a disembodied yawn sounded from
the vicinity of the couch. A bit later
a woman with long curly auburn hair appeared.
She rolled to her feet and stretched.
"I guess we're still here Nick," She said rhetorically, not even
expecting an answer. She glanced toward
the fireplace. "Nick?" She asked her
voice suddenly filled with concern.
"This isn't funny Nick! Where
"Angel?" Buffy called stepping out of the cargo elevator.
She glanced around the cavernous room seeing it was empty of
all forms of life she headed upstairs.
"Angel?" she repeated a little less certainly.
"What the?" She exclaimed noticing Angel's discarded clothes
lying on the bed.
"Who are you?" A woman's voice demanded. "What are you doing here?"
Buffy turned to stare at the translucent form of the voice's
owner. "You're a ghost," she said
"Natalie Lambert, pleased to meet you too," The ghost
"Buffy Summers, I'm looking for my boyfriend, he was
supposed to be here."
"Why?" Natalie asked.
"You seem awfully calm about me being a ghost… What are you, some sort
of exorcist? Is that what happened to
"Ghosts and monsters are pretty much all in a night's work
for me." Buffy said. "All part of the
wonderful life of a vampire Slayer."
"Leave Nick alone!" Natalie exclaimed glaring defensively at
Buffy. "He's a good guy."
"Wait a sec, Nick and Natalie?" Buffy asked a light bulb
going off in her mind. "Dr. Natalie
Lambert and Detective Nicolas Knight of the Toronto PD, who is also a vampire,
and just happens to be my boyfriend's older brother in a really whacked out
sense of the word."
"LaCroix," Natalie said in disgust. "He did this somehow, even with Nick dead he
won't leave him alone."
"No, LaCroix doesn't have anything to do with this. Cordy had vision from the PTB, that's the
Powers that Be for those not initiated in Cordy-shorthand, telling her Angel
and I had to come here to rescue someone one or something. I'm late, I can't find Angel and he's gonna
be in trouble…"
"Visions from a higher power?" Natalie said skeptically.
"You're a ghost and you don't believe in weird?" Buffy
"You've got a point.
But why send him here? Nick and
I are the only ones here. We've been
stuck haunting this place ever since we died, until tonight anyway. I woke up the place was a mess and Nick was
"I guess we're both looking for a boyfriend," Buffy said.
"It's not that simple," Natalie said. "Nick and I can't leave. Hell, Nick hasn't even moved from the spot
where he died. As far as I can tell ghosts…
souls… whatever we are, we still need a physical anchor to this world. Instead of a body, we've got the place where
"What if Nick found another anchor?" Buffy speculated
angrily. "One that's more mobile, like
my boyfriend! That's what ghost do
isn't it, possess people?"
"No, Nick wouldn't hurt anyone!" Natalie said. "But you may be on to something. It could have done it by accident. There are connections, almost like
telepathy, between vampires of the same blood.
I don't pretend to understand it, but if one of those connections
existed between Nick and your Angel… I don't know how they would have been
affected by that."
Angel landed in a quiet spot near the precinct and hurried
in, still wondering how he was going to tell Captain Reece he'd lost both his
gun and his badge.
Even hypnotizing him wouldn't help. It might get him out of a lecture but the
problem would still exist. Nat would
undoubtedly hear about the Captain going ease on him and then he'd be in for an
even more unpleasant lecture from her about casual use of his vampiric
abilities and the "Did he really even want to be human?" guilt trip throw in
for good measure.
Angel sighed; there were no two ways about it, he was in
Already wearing an apologetic expression Angel strode into
the station, going straight to the Captain's office eager to just put the
necessary unpleasantness behind him.
"Um Captain… I can't imagine how, but … I … umm seem to have
misplaced my badge and gun," Angel stammered.
Reece looked up from his work and asked. "Who the hell are you?"
Angel just stared at the man.
"If you're a transfer this is hardly what I'd call getting
off on the right foot," Reece added a few moments later.
"What do you mean?" Angel asked. "You know me, I'm Nick Knight."
"What kind of a goddamn, idiot, stunt is this?" Reece
"I don't know what you mean," Angel repeated. "I'm…"
Reece held up a hand to stop him then entered something into
his computer. A few seconds later he
turned the monitor around to show the record he'd called up to Angel. "That is Nick Knight," he said. "Now who the hell are you?"
"Yes, that's me," Angel insisted feeling lost.
Reece got up from his desk and practically hauled Angel
through the precinct. Angel was so confused
he took no notice of where they were going until they were standing in front of
a one-way glass.
"That was Detective Knight," Reece barked, " You're…" Reece
trailed off into silence as he found himself gesturing to an empty mirror.
Angel stared sadly into the void where he should have been,
"Not so human today huh Nick," he sighed.
"What's going on?" Reece muttered.
Angel captured his mind with practiced ease and told
him. "Nothing unusual happened here."
"This is where he'd go?" Buffy asked speaking apparently to
"All vampires end up here sooner or later," Natalie's voice
said, echoing inside of the younger woman's head. "Of course if we're right and Nick's the one making decisions
it'll be quicker. He always comes here
when he needs help. We might have to
wait longer for Angel, but this is vamp central, he'll make an appearance."
"Angel isn't the type to enjoy vamp central," Buffy
"Doesn't matter, he'll still come, they all do." Natalie
said. "You'd think Nick would be the
last person to come here, seeing that he sworn up and down that he wanted out
of this life, but he couldn't stay away, even after Jenette was gone he still
came. To LaCroix, the person he
"So we're just going to wait?" Buffy asked. "Like this?"
She didn't have to explain what she meant; Natalie could
feel how unhappy Buffy was about sharing brain space, despite having agreed
that Natalie be invaluable in finding Angel.
"I couldn't leave the loft without you anymore than Nick could
leave without an intermediary," Natalie explained again. "There have to be rules, always. Even for ghosts. My mind, my soul, it can't exist in a vacuum. To leave the loft I had to trade it for
"So why don't you just make another exchange and haunt this
place?" Buffy demanded.
"The Raven? I think
not!" Natalie exclaimed. "It was hard
enough getting here in the first place, there is no way I'm risking getting
stuck here for eternity!"
"Fine," Buffy sighed.
"So how'd you two end up haunting that place anyway?"
For a long while Natalie didn't say anything. "We were stupid," She finally began,
deciding that Buffy had both a right and need to know this. "We made life altering… life ending
decisions, while we were both a mess… When I think back… we shouldn't have been
allowed to decide what to have for dinner that night, let alone…"
"So why were things so dire?" Buffy asked curiously.
"It wasn't one thing," Natalie protested. "Any one thing I think we could have
handled, but all at once and on top of the year we'd been having… It was too
much. Even before Lora's suicide and
Tracy getting shot we were stretched to the breaking point. I spent year trying to make Nick human and I
was starting to think he didn't even want it any more. Hell, I was starting to think he was better
off the way he was. I tried to get him
to stop relying on his vampire abilities, that was one of my oldest ideas. I never really thought it would cure him,
but what if I had cured him and he was still dependant on them?"
"He would have adapted, Angel did," Buffy said.
"Nick never could do it though," Natalie argued. "How could I really believe he wanted to be
a normal human being when he'd resort to vampire tricks for something so petty
as getting out of trouble for neglecting his paperwork? It made me so mad! Here I was throwing my whole life away to find a cure he'd
probably end up hating me for giving him."
Natalie paused for a moment. "Beyond that we lost so many people that year. Don, Captain Cohen, Calvin, Vashon, even
Jenette in a way. She didn't die, but
her relation with Nick was changed beyond recognition. Then Tracy and Lora one right on top of the
other… it was just too much."
"We were depressed and desperate and we hadn't really been
communicating for months. When I went
to Nick that night I didn't know what I wanted. All I really knew was that something had to change. I can hardly blame Nick for not dong what I
wanted under those circumstances. We
didn't even really talk about it then, we just did it, then I was laying on the
floor unconscious and Nick had an entirely new decision to make. We couldn't exactly debate the pros and cons
of vampirism right then," Natalie sighed.
"Nick had to choose for both of us, no doubt with LaCroix
taunting him all the while. No wonder
it got so screwed up. I guess LaCroix's
stupid little games at Nick's expense really backfired that time," Natalie said
bitterly. "He probably talked Nick into
"Then Nick killed himself?" Buffy said. "You're like the second murder/suicide
couple turned ghosts that I've had to deal with. Resolve your issues and move on already."
"Don't think I haven't tried!" Natalie exclaimed. "Nick is so fixated on having killed me he
can't even see me. He just sits there
like he can still see my body in his arms.
Do you have any idea what it's like, being trapped for better than a
year with no one to even talk to and the possibility that the situation will
never change as food for thought?"
The only explanation he could come up with was that LaCroix
had made everyone forget him. It didn't
make sense, even given LaCroix's sometimes-inexplicable sense of subtlety, but
how else could he explain the fact that no one at the precinct knew who he was?
He had to find Natalie, if anyone could shake off LaCroix's
suggestion it would be her. She had to
be able to remember him. He needed her.
"Hello? Is Natalie
around?" He asked Grace, not even wanting to know if she remembered him or not.
"Were you a friend of hers Mister…" Grace asked.
"Angel," Nick supplied, wondering where that name had come
from; normally he used some variant of his own name.
"Angel," Grace replied.
"I just don't know how to tell you this … sixteen months ago Nat
vanished. I try to believe that she and
her detective friend finally figured out how they felt about each other and ran
off together, but she would have called by now to let me know, or at least to
make sure Sydney was being looked after."
LaCroix would know what was happening, Nick thought
desperately as he pushed his way into the Raven. LaCroix always knew; was always the one he turned to when
everything lay in ruins around him.
Even when the older vampire was the primary architect of those ruins he
was still the one Nick relied on to put things to right.
And then she was there, right in front of him. There was a sense of not-rightness about her
but he pushed it aside and swept her into his arms.
"Natalie, you're alright," He exclaimed. "Oh, thank God, you're alright."
"The Hell I am Nick!" Natalie snapped breaking free of his
embrace. "You killed us!"
And in that second Nick remembered, he could see not only
Natalie but also the body of the younger woman she possessed.
"I just wanted to be with you. Was that so much to ask?" Natalie continued.
"I couldn't do that to you Natalie!" Nick protested.
"But you could do it for Jenette, Tracy and who knows how
many others?" Natalie demanded angrily.
"I didn't leave you," Nick defended himself.
"Right, you committed suicide! Well yippee for you!" Natalie yelled.
Irritable Buffy pushed to the fore of her
consciousness. "If this is going to be
taking a while could you two possible resolve things without using my boyfriend
and I as intermediaries?"
Buffy could instantly sense Natalie's remorse and Nick's was
even less ambiguously displayed in his expression.
"We should go back to the loft," Natalie suggested without
retaking control of Buffy's body.
"We're heading back to your place," Buffy relayed to Nick.
"We're here now, getting out!" Buffy ordered, as soon as
they walked into the loft.
Nick watched as the duel image of Buffy and Natalie shimmer,
went out of focus and parted.
"So you can still see me, right Nick?" Natalie asked. "No going back to acting like I'm not here?"
"I know you're here now.
I could never forget that," Nick promised.
"That's great and all, but out, now!" Buffy said
frowning. "You're home, haunt the
place, you don't need Angel anymore!"
"Of course," Nick replied.
"I'm just… I don't know how we got this way. I don't know how to undo it."
"You don't know!" Buffy growled, grabbing Nick, slamming him
back against the elevator door, then freezing an instant before she hit him
when she found herself glaring into Angel's eyes. "It's not fair, I can't even hit you!" She complained. "Not without hurting Angel."
"Look it's not hard," Natalie said to Nick. " Just turn control over to Angel and step
away. That's all I did."
"I don't feel like there's anyone else here," Nick said
"No, Angel has to be alright," Buffy said, the anger in her
voice not covering her fear and pain.
"Buffy?" he asked, the inflection in his voice slipping into
something infinitely familiar to Buffy.
"Angel?" she said hopefully.
"Oh, I understand now," Nick said and then Angel's form
shimmered and Nick, looking considerably more transparent than Natalie, stepped
away from him.
Angel fell to his knees.
"What happened?" he asked as Buffy helped him to his feet.
"Accidental possession," Buffy said. "You're okay?"
Angel shook himself, throwing off the last of the dazed
feeling. "I'm alright."
"Nick?" Natalie asked in concern.
"I'm good," he replied.
"We're too much alike and neither of us realized what was happening, we
didn't have our guard up. I think it
went deeper with us than what happened with you and Buffy. It hurt, coming apart again."
"So are you two going to be alright now?" Angel asked Nick
as he collected his things from the other vampire's room.
"We're together now.
We'll manage," Nick replied.
"I'm so sorry about what happened."
Angel shrugged uncomfortably. "You didn't mean to, just… don't do it again."
"I swear," Nick promised solemnly.
Unexpectedly Angel grinned.
"That's what Buffy's sister always says… when Buffy catches borrowing
her things without asking. I guess this
means we really are siblings."
"Speaking of family, you won't mention me to LaCroix?" Nick
"He'll know, eventually," Angel said. "You know that."
"Eventually," Nick said.
"But Natalie and I have enough to deal with, without adding LaCroix to
the mix. In time, I'll want to see,
tell him I'm sorry for what I asked from him, but not right now."
"Course," Angel replied.
"We'll come visit sometime. I'll
bring Cordy, she's family too."
"Why didn't I just apologize?" Natalie wondered to
Buffy. "I know I made mistakes too, but
the instant Nick's in front of me and aware, all I do is pick up the fight
right where we left off."
Buffy squirmed in embarrassment. "I'm awful about apologizing to Angel too," she admitted. "It's like I'm the Slayer and he's a vampire
so of course I'm right, but I don't really mean to treat Angel like that."
Natalie sighed. "I know what you mean. We should be equals, but it's so hard not to
use guilt against him, not when he makes it so easy."
"Not as easy as it used to be. At least not for me," Buffy said wryly. "But you know what, I think of like it. Now that I've had a chance to get used to it anyway."
Natalie nodded her agreement. "I'm obviously not the expert on successful human/vampire
romances," She said. "But one bit of
advice I can give is realize that the two of you can't stand between worlds
forever. Someday you'll have choose,
his world or yours, you'll both have stand together, or else you'll both just
have to give up and walk away from what you feel for the other. Don't fool yourself; it will come to
that. Be sure the two of you have
already made your choice when that day comes.
Nick and I didn't, that's how we ended up here."