Instant Rewind: Chapter 12
"I think I found a way to get us out of this!" Gunn declared as he entered Fred's office. Fred looked up from the book she was reading, her feet on the chair opposite her. She took off her glasses and smiled.
"I hope this is better than my suggestion." She said. Gunn smiled and sat next to her.
"It is." He handed her a piece of paper and she read the highlighted portion. She smiled at him and abruptly stood.
"I can't believe you found this! How did you find this? I mean, we read through these contracts from front to back and this wasn't here the last time…"
"I know, its weird, but it's all there."
"This is perfect! Have you told Angel yet?" She asked him.
"Not yet, I wanted to make sure there was nothing funky about it. Thought I'd show you then head to Wes to find out if there were any enchantments on it." Gunn suggested. Fred headed towards the door and Gunn followed.
"Great idea. Wesley will want to see this right away." Together they headed towards Wesley's office.
Angel looked at Spike with hatred in his eyes. He would be damned if Spike got to Buffy before he could. Angel knew that Spike loved Buffy, but in his world he had already taken care of that problem. Unfortunately, in this world Spike was still around and there was nothing he could do about it. There was no way he could solve the problem the way he had before, he would have to approach this in a different manner. Angel had managed to talk to Buffy for a few hours. She had told him where she was and how she would be able to find him. She told she would be waiting, so they could talk more in person. Angel had no intention of letting Spike come with him, but how to get rid of him without killing him? Angel softened his features and decided he would simply propose an alternative for him.
"Spike. I have a proposition for you." He said.
"The answer is no." Spike replied, "I know what this is about and there is no way you are going to do anything to keep me from…"
"Her?" Angel offered.
"The only way you are keeping me from her you pompous poof is if you…"
"I want you to take this envelope," Angel threw it on his desk, "and disappear."
"Like hell I will." Spike said.
"You haven't even opened it." Angel said slowly.
"Don't think I don't know what you are doing. You want her all to yourself. I love her just as much as you do." Angel smirked and crossed his arms.
"You love her? Lust maybe, an infatuation if you will, but its not love."
"Says you! She loved me."
"She used you and you know it. Maybe you should cut your losses before you get hurt."
"At least I had her more than you did!"
"Why are you arguing about this?" Angel asked, "You know she doesn't love you like she does me. Why not save yourself the pain, hurt and humiliation? Take the envelope." Spike lowered his gaze. Buffy did love him but Angel was right, it wasn't the same. Spike moved towards the desk and picked up the envelope. He sat down in front of his grand-sire and put his feet up on the table. He played with the envelope as he continued to stare into Angel's eyes. Spike finally let his eyes fall and decided to open the envelope. Inside was money and a plane ticket, to Rome.
"I don't understand. Why are you sending me to…" Angel cut him off.
"I may be done with Wolfram & Hart, but your not. Spike I really believe you can do great things. I've talked with Hamilton, they could use someone like you to help out in their branch in Rome." Angel knew that Spike thought she was there, but he knew better.
"They are offering me a job? To stay on with Evil Incorporated?"
"They are." Angel confirmed. "My suggestion, take it. I might be done with it, but you, I know your not. I know you, Spike. You thrive in dangerous situations never knowing if you are going to survive. That is what you are good at."
"There was a time when you were the same." Spike offered.
"True, but not anymore." Angel knew that Spike would do it. He knew Spike better than Spike knew himself. He was a simple vampire who wanted nothing more than to make a name for himself and if he thought Buffy was in Rome, he would definitely do it. Angel knew he was being selfish by not telling Spike the truth but at this particular moment, he didn't care. Angel wanted to make sure that when he went back to his world, this Angel had something, someone, to come back to. They had both made the same mistake all those years ago leaving her and they both knew that if they had the opportunity to take it all back they would. Spike leafed through the money and played with the edge of the ticket.
"What do you know that I don't?" Spike asked.
"Do you think I'm keeping something from you? This is all the truth. They want you to work for them in a completely freelance capacity."
"There is something you are not telling me. Somehow I'll figure it out."
"Spike, I'm not keeping anything from you. But if you think I am, you are more than welcome to become obsessed with it to try and figure it out." Angel said not letting his face betray his secrets, "Think about it."
"Where will you go?" Spike asked.
"Home. It's been a while since I've seen Ireland. Thought I'd go back." Angel replied straight-faced.
"Will they go with you?"
"Not sure, I'll offer it to them, once we find a way out of this of course."
"When does this offer expire?" Spike asked.
"Never." Spike stood and stared down at the envelope with his future inside it. For once in his life, Spike had the opportunity to control his own future. He straightened his jacket and extended his hand. Angel stood and accepted it. He shook Spike's hand and then let it go.
"It's been good working with you." Spike said, "You have taught me more than you know. I will never forget what you've done for me all these years."
"I'll never forget either. Thank you, Spike. Really, I mean it." Spike nodded and headed for the door. He hesitated only a moment, then pulled open the door and walked out of Angel's life forever.
Moments later, Gunn, Fred and Wesley entered the office. They all had smiles on their faces when the stood in front of Angel. Angel's smile was wider.
"Why are you so happy?" Gunn asked.
"It doesn't matter. The question is, why are you smiling?" Fred handed Angel a piece of paper.
"We found a way out, and it's legitimate." Angel read through the contract and smiled.
"So what's the plan then?"
"Gunn, can you get me up into the white room?" Gunn nodded, "That's the plan. We need to propose it to the Senior Partners and see if they'll take it."
"Why don't we just lay waste to this place and blow it up? That'll get their attention." Gunn suggested.
"NO!" Angel and Wesley said together, "That won't solve anything. We have to do this in a calm manner, a sneaky manner."
"In a lawyer type manner." Gunn said. Angel nodded and smiled.
"Work on it." Angel said, "Wes, get Lindsay ready. He's not going to go along with this, not right away at least."
"What do you want me to do?" Fred asked.
"Just don't open any boxes or get into any trouble." Angel said. Fred frowned and watched as the team dispersed and headed off to save themselves from the Devil.
"Do you really expect me to believe you?" Lindsay demanded.
"No, not really but this is your only option." Wesley stated firmly. Lindsay's hands were tied behind his back and he was sitting uncomfortably on a metal chair in Wesley's office. The only reason that the Senior Partners haven't found him was because of the wards Wesley had erected around his office. Wesley and Lindsay stared at each other, neither wavering, until Lindsay sighed heavily.
"Listen, you have absolutely no choices. This is your only choice. Its what you've always wanted, isn't it?" Wesley asked standing and circling, "Even when you left and went rouge you were always trying to find your way back to Wolfram & Hart. It must kill you that they gave it to Angel over you."
"You don't know what you're talking about."
"Sure I do. Getting passed over for someone else, sucks doesn't it? Always coming in second, we are giving you a chance to come in first. All you have to do is take it."
"What's the catch?" Lindsay demanded. Wesley stopped behind him and cut the rope that was holding Lindsay's hands behind his back. Lindsay rubbed his wrists and watched as Wesley moved to stand in front of him.
"No catch. All you have to do is say yes."
"What makes you think I still want it after what they did to me in that place?"
"Because you can't help yourself. You have always wanted power and we are more than willing to give it to you." Wesley said.
"You're just going to hand everything over?"
"Yes." Wesley arched an eye and smiled.
"One condition…ya'll have to leave. For good."
"Don't worry we will." Lindsay smiled and watched as Wesley left the room and locked the door.
For the last time, the Wolfram & Hart team gathered in Angel's office. Angel leaned against a chair with his friends in a circle around him. Angel was so close to finishing this and getting back to his life he could taste it. He wanted nothing more than to return home to his family, to his wife. Angel sighed heavily moving away from the chair. Fred looked around and frowned.
"Where's Spike?" She asked. Angel smiled.
"He won't be joining us."
"Why not?" She inquired.
"He has decided to go to Rome and continue to work for Wolfram & Hart."
"How much did you have to do with that?" She asked him accusingly.
"I simply laid their offer out."
"Sure." She said crossing her arms and rolling her eyes.
"Aside from Spike this will be the last time we are all together. Thanks to what we found, we will no longer have to live in the shadow of Wolfram & Hart ever again. What I wanted to talk to you all about is where you want to go now that you are free."
"I've given that a lot of thought," Fred began as she moved towards Wesley, "And I think Wesley and I have decided to go to London. Get jobs over there, besides, I've never been there."
"That sounds great. Gunn, what about you?" Angel asked.
"To be honest, I got nowhere to go. Everything I know is Los Angeles. Thought maybe I'd hook up with my old crew, if they'll still take me."
"Well, Gunn if you are interested I'm going to go back to Ireland. You are more than welcome to join me. Lorne, you too. I'm sure there are lots of lost demon souls who need some guidance in Galway…Dublin even." Angel offered.
"I'll think on it."
"Angelcakes, that sounds like a fantastic idea. You could even help me open up." Angel laughed and smiled at his old friend.
"I think that would be…fun."
"Well, I guess this is it." Fred said as she hugged Wesley. Angel turned towards his desk and picked up several envelopes. He handed one to each of them.
"Inside those is your new life. I wish you all well." Fred moved towards Angel and wrapped her arms around him. She hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek.
"Please, stay in touch." Angel hugged her back, "Promise." She let him go and allowed Gunn to move forward. He held his hand out and Angel took it. They hugged for a moment and then separated.
"Good luck man." Gunn said.
"You as well."
"I don't need to say goodbye because you are my new business partner. I'll see you on the plane." Lorne turned from the group and hugged Fred tightly and shook Gunn and Wesley's hand. He left the room with his head held high. They watched as he pushed the button to the elevator. The bell chimed the doors opened and Lorne stepped in.
"Hold the elevator!" Gunn yelled. Lorne pushed the hold button. Gunn moved towards Fred and hugged her close.
"Thank you for everything you have done. I will never forget you and will always love you." Gunn closed his eyes and took in her scent one more time.
"I love you too, Gunn." Fred said letting him go. Gunn left the office and ran to the elevator. He stepped in and watched as the doors closed. Remaining in Angel's office was Wesley and Fred. The stood in awkward silence for a moment until Fred spoke up.
"Well, I'm going to go and get ready for our flight out of here. Good luck with the Senior Partners." She left Angel and Wesley alone. Angel moved towards the door and Wesley followed. Lindsay stood in the lobby with Hamilton by his side.
"You ready for this?" He asked.
"More than you know." Angel replied. Together the foursome moved towards the elevator and once inside hit the button that would take them to the White Room. Slowly the elevator moved up and then they were enveloped in white light.
The elevator disappeared and the foursome stood in the middle of the White Room. Before them was the Black Panther they were all so used to seeing. With the panther was a tall woman they had never seen before. She smiled at them and placed a hand on the large cats head. Angel recognized the woman but said nothing. The panther must be what this world deals with when they speak with the Senior Partners, where he deals with the woman. The panther growled and sat down next to her.
"You have done so well." The woman said. Wesley didn't say anything as they all stood there, "And because you have accomplished exactly what we wanted," the files that Wesley had brought up flew out of his hands and laid to rest in the woman's. She held them a moment then with the snap of a finger they burst into flames.
"Don't you want to here what we have to say?" Wesley asked. Lindsay obviously was unaware of what was going on. He crossed his arms and waited. The woman laughed.
"No. Those files you brought up where your contracts with Wolfram & Hart, now they are null and void."
"No buts. You are now free. You have done what we asked you and now you are no longer needed at this company. All we ask is that you leave and never come back."
"That won't be hard." Wesley commented. The large cat circled around and walked towards Lindsay. It stood before him and locked eyes with it. For a moment, Lindsay swayed on his feet not able to take his eyes off the cat. The cat released its stare from Lindsay and walked back towards the woman. The cat growled loudly then disappeared. The woman laughed and walked towards Lindsay. Slowly a piece of paper materialized in her hand and she held it out to him.
"The panther is happy with the choice of you replacing Angel. If you want?" She held the contract in front of Lindsay and waited. Lindsay smiled and took the pen from Hamilton, pricked his finger then signed the paper. She smiled when he finished then the contract disappeared. She walked back towards Angel and held out her hand.
"I commend you Angel. You did the impossible. You allowed the past to be fixed and as a result you are all free. Well done. I'm sure the Powers that Be would be proud." Angel shook her hand and smirked. They released and she walked away from them. Laughing, she waved her hand and Angel and Wesley found themselves on the street outside the Wolfram & Hart building. Though it was dark out, Angel was sure the Senior Partners would have dropped them there even if it were sunny. Looking up, Angel managed to see Lindsay looking down at them. He raised his hand and waved once. Angel nodded and turned his back on the building that had been his home for years. Wesley followed stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"What now?" Wesley asked.
"We get the hell out of Los Angeles."
"Amen to that." Wesley replied. Together the pair walked away from the shining lights of Wolfram & Hart and Los Angeles forever.
At the airport, Angel and Lorne said their final goodbye to Wesley and Fred. They watched as the couple boarded their plane and headed off to their new life in London, England. Moving away from Gate 19, the duo headed towards their own Gate and their new life. Angel's phone shrilled in his pocket. He dug it out and smiled. He answered it as he stood looking out the window. Luckily they had managed to get a Red Eye flight.
"What do you want?" The voice demanded.
"Have you checked your mail lately?" He asked. He could hear rustling and then a sigh.
"I have now. What is this?" The voice asked.
"A open invite to join me in the country with rolling green hills and numerous villas and wineries." He said as he heard the call for his flight to board.
"What makes you think I'll take you up on the offer?"
"Because I know you. I know you'll do it and I know I love you and I want you to be with me. Is that so hard to believe?" He asked. Lorne waved at him and he nodded.
"Look, the ticket won't expire. I will be expecting you though…so don't keep me waiting to long. I might get old on you." He said with a laugh. He hung up the phone and turned it off. Throwing it back into his pocket, Angel boarded the plane with Lorne. He had scored them first class seats and as he leaned back in his chair and placed the pillow behind his head, he thought of his wife and when he would be getting back to her. His job in this reality was done; all he wanted was to go back to his real life. For a split second, Angel thought about what the other Angel had done to his world. Shaking his head Angel closed his eyes and allowed his mind to wander, his wife's image floating into his head.
Angel woke in his chair but no one else was around him. Every passenger was missing except one. One that looked exactly like him. The other Angel stood and walked towards him lowering himself into the seat next to him. He crossed his arms and leaned back. Angel let the pillow fall from behind his head and sat forward looking into his own face.
"If this isn't reason for therapy then I don't know what is." He said.
"Tell me about it. Do I really sleep like that?"
"I don't know you were the one watching me." Angel laughed and let his head fall back onto the seat.
"So what now?" Angel asked himself.
"I suppose I tell you what I did and you tell me what you did. Then we move on with our lives like nothing ever happened." Angel replied.
"Well, you first."
"Basically, I finished your negotiations and now the clans have no reason to war with each other and Wolfram & Hart is in control of both orders, gave the entire company over to Lindsay McDonald, promised your children that they would go onto a long extended vacation and bridged the gap between you and your estranged son, Connor. Oh and I think I fixed things between you and your wife." After he said that, Angel brought a hand up and slapped himself upside the head, "That is for cheating on your wife. You really are an idiot."
"I suppose I deserve that."
"Yes you do." Angel lowered his hand and waited.
"Well, my turn. Okay, I managed to turn Los Angeles from a burning hell inferno back to a normal city of assholes, saved Fred from being turned into a demon – which by the way was really dumb on your part – I also handed the company over to Lindsay McDonald, and made sure that Spike would never get in the way of you being with Buffy ever again."
"Yeah, that is something extra just for you. We were such idiots leaving her in the first place, so I figured since I get to have her in my reality why not make sure you had the same opportunity in yours. I sent her a one-way ticket to Ireland to be with you. Don't screw it up, not like I did." The other Angel smiled.
"No problem." Angel picked up his pillow and placed it behind his head. He settled back and closed his eyes.
"What about Connor?" Angel asked.
"What about him? Isn't he with a good family and going to university? Now he won't get interrupted with your stupid idea to bring down Hell Incorporated. Contact him when you get there, maybe he'll come visit." Angel closed his eyes and let his mind drift. The other Angel knew that their conversation was over. Smiling he leaned back as well and shut his own eyes. Within moments they were both in dreamless sleep waiting to wake up.
Angel stepped out of the truck he was in and stretched. They had been driving for hours and it was time for a stop. The door to the camper opened and two small heads bounded out. They both screamed as they raced towards the park. The second door to the truck opened and slowly a beautiful blonde emerged holding her belly. Angel moved around to the other side and held out his hand. Smiling, she took it and balanced on her husbands shoulder. Angel put his arm around her waist and held her close.
"So, what do you think of the trip so far?" He asked.
"It's been great. But you do know that this baby is due relatively soon, which means we need to at least find a hospital at some point." Buffy said. Angel laughed and activated the lock on the truck. Together they walked towards their children, Liam and Isabella.
"I know. We will. The baby is due in two weeks, we still have time to at least drive a bit more." Angel replied. The sun beat down on them as they sat down on a bench. Angel was lucky that Wolfram & Hart had given him the ability to walk in the sun, or this trip would have been very difficult.
"Fine, but if I give birth in that camper I'll kick your ass." She leaned her head on his shoulder and watched her children play. Angel kissed the top of her head and held her close. He had to admit, what the other Angel had done was great work. If it weren't for him, Angel wouldn't be here right now with his family. He had no idea where they were going but all he knew was that he never wanted it to end.
Angel picked up his glass and watched as customers came and went. Angel had to hand it to Lorne; this place was ten times better than the original bar he'd opened in Los Angeles. The profit from this place was huge and with its no violence atmosphere, they were able to accommodate more than your average customer. Angel smiled at yet another woman who was giving him the eye and turned back to the bartender.
"Want another one boss?" He asked.
"Why not, its not like I have an early morning tomorrow."
"True enough." He poured another beer for his boss and moved onto the next customer. Angel leaned on the bar holding the glass between his fingers. Lorne had done exactly what he'd promised to do. Angel felt a tap on his shoulder and he turned his head. No one was there. Angel shook his head and turned back to his drink, which had miraculously disappeared. Angel frowned and looked to his right, nothing, then to his left. Angel did a double take as a beautiful blonde took a sip from his cup.
"So this is what you are doing now? Running a bar?"
"Its good money and I get to work nights."
"Nights. Who would have thought?" She said.
"I'm glad you decided to come." Angel said.
"Well its not like you gave me much choice. A first class ticket to Ireland, all expenses paid just so I can come down and look you in the face to make sure you know for sure that I…" She looked into his eyes and forgot what she was going to say. It had been so long since she'd looked into those brown eyes that she'd forgotten how easy it was to get lost in them.
"You what?" Angel asked breaking her concentration.
"That…this is going to take more work than you realize." Angel leaned towards her and smiled. He trailed a hand down her bare shoulder and down her arm. She leaned into him bringing her face within inches of his.
"I love a challenge." He replied moving closer.
"You might not like this one, I have a tendency to get exactly what I want." She said closing the gap further.
"And what is it that you want?" Angel was teasing, he knew exactly where this conversation was headed.
"Still, I've had a long night. You should probably tell me." She laughed remembering this same conversation all those years ago.
"You're right, I should." She finally closed the gap locking lips with the man whom she had loved all her life. Buffy wrapped her arms around Angel's neck and leaned into him. The glass she was holding dropped from her hands and hit the floor shattering. Heads turned in the bar to find out where the noise had come from. Most of the patrons smiled then turned their attention back to Lorne on the stage. Angel's arms slipped around her small waist as he pulled her into him. Buffy sighed in Angel's arms and reluctantly broke away. She leaned her forehead against his and smiled.
"I love you." She said.
"Not as much as I love you." Angel replied. She smiled and kissed him again never wanting to let him go again. Angel clung to her, responding to her need for him as his need for her exploded. This was the image of perfection and he never intended to let it go.The End