You Do Have a Friend Here (Sequel to „The One With the Angelic Face")
By Philip S.
Summary: In order to pay for his crimes against their clan, the Gypsies have cursed Angelus with a soul and transformed him into a woman. A hundred years later the Vampire now called Angela is recruited by Whistler to help protect the newly called Slayer. A friendship grows between the two, even after Buffy finds out that Angela is a Vampire. What she does not now is that, inside, Angela is still a man. A man who has very strong feelings for her.
Spoilers: General spoilers for Buffy Season 2, but basically its AU
Rating: PG-13 to begin with. Might get worse later
Disclaimer: All characters taken from the shows Buffy and Angel are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and others. No infringement is intended.
The Vampire called Angela stood at the edge of the dark water and gazed out onto the ocean. A small part of her remembered that the ocean's true color was a deep, sated blue, yet she had trouble picturing it inside her mind. The only ocean she knew was black. Black as night.
„You're brooding again." Buffy chided her.
The Slayer walked up next to her, happily twirling a stake in one hand. It sent a mild shudder down Angela's back, even though she knew that Buffy would never turn that stake upon her. Not after everything that had happened these past few months.
After the affair with Darla Angela had done her best to stay away from Buffy, or at least as far away as her mission to help and protect the Slayer allowed. She had stayed in the shadows, showing herself more to Buffy's Watcher, Rupert Giles, than to the girl herself.
Until that night Giles had decoded the Codex Angela had brought him and learned that Buffy would die fighting the Master.
Angela well remembered that night.
„Read me the signs!" Buffy yelled, throwing a book at Giles. „Tell me my fortune! You really are a big help!"
Tears were cascading down her face and Angela's dead heart clenched seeing her like this. Buffy had just learned that she was fated to die.
„I don't suppose I am." Giles admitted. The Watcher was tired, unshaven, wearing the same clothes he had worn these last two days in which he had tried nonstop to find a way around the prophecy of his Slayer's death.
Angela tried to calm Buffy down with words that were totally inadequate to soothe the ache Buffy had to feel. The Slayer lashed out at her, accusing her that she had no idea at all, seeing as she was never going to die.
„You think I want you to die?" Angela yelled back at her. „I want you to be safe!"
She had almost said more than she was prepared to say. Had almost said that she didn't want Buffy to die because of the feelings the man inside her felt for this young girl. She had long ago resolved that Buffy must never learn who she really was or what the man inside her felt for her. It would just destroy everything.
Buffy had noticed none of what was going on inside her, of course.
„Giles, I'm sixteen years old." She said in a voice that sounded incredibly young and fragile. „I don't want to die."
In the end she had accepted her destiny, though, just as Angela had suspected she would. Finding her in the Master's cave, face-down in the water, was something that would haunt Angela's nightmares for decades to come. By some kind of miracle Xander had managed to bring her back and the Master had died.
Buffy was alive.
„Hey, stop with the brooding already!" Buffy gently slapped Angela's shoulder.
„Sorry." She just said. „Old habit."
„Emphasis on the old part definitely." Buffy joked.
Angela managed half a smile, which seemed to make Buffy's day. When the Slayer had returned from her summer holidays she had still been haunted by her experiences. She had suffered from nightmares about the Master, about her death, and had tried to seal herself off from everyone around her.
It hadn't worked, thank God, and in the end Buffy had cried her heart out in the circle of her friends, which now included Angela. Against her will the Vampire had found herself drawn closer and closer to the blonde Slayer, unable to hold true to her conviction to stay away. By now they saw each other almost every night.
Buffy more than made up for Angela's reluctance to do much talking by keeping her up to date on everything that happened in her life. Angela was profoundly thankful that 'everything' didn't seem to include much in the way of boys. She still remembered that time she had encountered Buffy on a date with that Owen boy.
She wasn't sure if she was capable of listening to Buffy talk about the boys she adored while Angela herself was almost consumed with the feelings she must never, ever express. Buffy clearly considered Angela a good friend, someone she could confide in, and Angela didn't want to ruin that.
Even with all that impossible desire inside her, being close to Buffy was still better than being alone. She had spent a hundred years being alone and that was enough for a dozen lifetimes.
It was getting better even. Sometimes she found herself relaxing in Buffy's company. She had been a woman these last hundred years and sometimes, for short periods, she was almost able to forget that, deep inside, she was not and would never be one.
Then there were those moments like a few nights ago, when Buffy had dragged Angela along on what she called a 'Girl's Night'. She had died a hundred deaths or more, listening to Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia talk about boys. Cordelia's stare when Angela had simply refused to share her own 'experiences' with men with the girls had almost made her want to bolt.
She much preferred accompanying Buffy on patrol or talking about the latest supernatural threats. Those were things she could handle. Those were things she was almost comfortable with. And she had to admit that, after a century of neglect, her fighting ability had been brought back up to speed through sparring with the Slayer.
She still had trouble sometimes, though, as her center of gravity wasn't where it used to be the last time she had learned how to fight.
„Any news on the Annoying One?" Buffy asked.
„Not much," Angela said, almost chuckling about the nickname Buffy had found for the powerful leader of Sunnydale's Vampires, „except that he seems to be bringing in outside talent. Sunnydale's local Vampire population has shrunken considerably after the battle against the Master."
Mentioning the elder Vampire still caused Buffy to shiver now and then, but apparently she wasn't suffering bad memories tonight.
Angela wondered how that would be. Not feeling past regrets for a time.
„I think I met one of those talented ones tonight." Buffy said. „Watched me while I kicked the stuffing out of some other Vampire. Applauded when I dusted him even. Made some big words on how he would kill me come Saturday."
„The Night of St. Vigious." Angela said. „I feared that the Anointed One would plan something there. Did that new Vampire give you his name between boasts?"
She was familiar, too familiar, with the upper circles of the Vampire hierarchy. If this new Vampire wasn't just a bag of hot air, chances were Angela knew him and could help Buffy come up with a way to kill him.
„He called himself Spike, if you can believe it. Ran around in a big leather coat and smoked all the while. What self-respecting Vampire would bleach his hair within and inch of ... Angela?"
If anything Angela had become even more pale upon Buffy's mentioning of the new Vampire's name.
Spike. William the Bloody.
Angelus' favored childe.
Even for Sunnydale this was one of the stranger nights, Xander thought. Not just because of the living nightmare called parent teacher night. Thankfully Xander's parents had, as usual, forgotten that he existed, so they weren't present to listen to the teachers telling them what a loser he was. Buffy was much worse off, of course, what with Snyder having made her number one on his 'Students Whose Lives I Have to Ruin' list.
The nightmare had gotten worse, though, with the appearance of Vampires. Xander had gotten but a brief glimpse of them, but that had sufficed. The bleach-blonde in the leather coat had led them in and after what Giles had learned, he didn't want that guy anywhere near Buffy. Or himself.
He had killed two Slayers in the past century and was going for triple crown tonight.
Xander had wanted to stay and help, but he had to admit that Giles' sending him away to get Angela was the more logical move. Angela was a Vampire and would be of much more use in a fight than he was. He was a little surprised at how little Angela's being one of the blood suckers bothered him these days.
Willow would probably say it had to do with her being drop dead gorgeous. She would probably have been right, too.
Xander had found Angela in her apartment and told her about the attack. When he had mentioned Spike's name he could have sworn he saw Angela hesitate, but that had lasted only a second or so. Then she had followed him and they had quickly made their way toward the school.
„What's the plan?" Xander asked as they approached the dark building.
Plan? Angela thought. She was supposed to come up with a plan? The only plan she did have was quite simple. Avoid meeting Spike if at all possible. He was her childe and there was a very strong chance that he would recognize her despite her changed appearance.
She knew Spike. If he learned her true identity then everyone else would soon know, too.
Best bet was to eliminate as many of the fledglings as possible, giving Buffy a free shot at Spike. She knew that William had managed to kill two other Slayers during the last century, but Buffy was strong and resourceful. And maybe Spike would retreat if he found himself all alone.
„What have we here?" A voice called out behind them.
Angela and Xander turned around to find three Vampires approaching them, all in game face. Acting on instinct, Angela vamped out as well and grabbed Xander by the neck, pulling him close.
„Back off!" She snarled at the other Vampires. „This one's mine!"
They stopped upon seeing her true face, confusion evident in their eyes.
„Sorry!" One of them said. „We thought everyone else was already inside."
„Thinking obviously isn't your strong point!" She approached them, baring her fangs in anger. The three took a step back, feeling her age and power. They were just fledglings. „Has Spike caught the Slayer yet?"
The three of them looked at each other, neither of them wanting to tell this old one that they didn't have a clue. Angela, still holding a struggling Xander, got into their faces.
„Unless I'm mistaken you are supposed to guard the perimeter here. So how come you are all hanging together, looking for easy meals?"
„We ... uh, we just ..." One of them stammered.
„You and you!" She pointed at two of them. „Go around to check the back of the school! People might have got out there. You," she pointed at the third one, „stay here and guard the front entrance! I will join you as soon as I finished this meal."
They hastily complied with her commands and Angela almost smiled. She hadn't commanded fledglings in over a hundred years, but apparently she hadn't lost her touch. The two she had sent to the back quickly vanished, the third turning toward the main entrance.
Only to be very surprised when he felt a sharp pain entering his back. Moments later he crumbled into dust.
„Sucker!" Xander laughed, rubbing his neck. „Though you might want to lessen the pressure a bit the next time."
„Had to look real." She just said.
„You almost had me fooled for a second." Xander replied, straightening up again.
Angela concentrated on the scents emanating from the building. At least half a dozen more Vampires, most of them fledglings. And Spike.
„We'll take out the two I sent to the back!" Angela told Xander. „Then we'll make our way inside and help Buffy deal with the rest."
She thrust a stake into Xander's hand.
„I hear you!" The boy said and followed her around the building.
Buffy slowly made her way through the dark corridors, thankful that her mother and most of the other adults were out by now. She just hoped that Willow, Xander, and Cordelia were all right, as she had seen neither of them since the attack began. Giles had told her that he had sent Xander to get Angela and Buffy hoped her friend would arrive soon, as she could need some reinforcements.
She had dusted two Vampires already, but there were at least three more running around here, one of them Spike. Seeing the way Angela had paled when she had heard his name just two nights earlier, he was probably dangerous.
Buffy didn't care about the danger. Nobody endangered her mother without answering to the business end of her stake.
The characteristic sound of a Vampire exploding into dust just around the corner drew her attention.
„What the ...?" She recognized the voice of the Vampire called Spike.
„Surprise, sucker!" That was Xander!
Throwing caution to the wind Buffy leaped around the corner and looked around the corridor she found herself in.
There was Spike, flanked by another Vampire, standing in the middle of the corridor like a Wild West gunfighter ready to draw. Amber demon eyes were fixed on something at the other end of the corridor.
Buffy turned her head and saw Angela standing there, flanked by Xander, game face on and staring at Spike, the dusty remains of a Vampire just settling in front of her. The black coat she wore hung loosely around her body like a shroud, everything but her glowing eyes was dark like a shadow that would vanish the moment you took your eyes away.
The two Vampires were staring at each other and the air between them seemed to vibrate with tension. Not just the air, Buffy thought, realizing that she was standing almost right between the two.
„Do I know you?" Spike said after a long moment passed between them, his demon face carrying an almost puzzled frown. He looked like a man - or not man - who was trying to grasp a memory just out of reach.
„I know you." Angela just said. „You won't kill any more people here tonight!"
„Why do you care?" Spike asked, still puzzled. „You're a Vampire. You should be joining me!"
Buffy was almost transfixed, standing caught between two incredibly intense stares, but shook off her paralysis and grasped the fire ax she carried harder.
„Let's just finish this now!" She said, glaring at Spike.
Spike looked at the situation he found himself in and it was not to his liking. The Slayer, armed with an ax, aided by a Vampire that somehow suffered from a severe case of goodness or something and had just dusted his second-to-last minion.
Against any one of them, or any one plus the boy, he would have had no qualms to continue the fight. Two of them, though, with the added element of a boy who might not be able to fight, but was probably more than able to stake a distracted Vampire in the back ... he didn't like the chances.
William the Bloody had never been known as the most careful Vampire. No Vampire who regularly went after Slayers could possibly be called careful or level headed. Yet his old Sire Angelus had taught him a few things in his day. Angelus had never fought his opponents on anything but his own terms and while Spike had detested what he had initially perceived as cowardice, he had learned to appreciate the value of knowing your enemies before you faced them.
A large part of Spike wanted to stay. Wanted to throw himself into the fight against both these opponents and hear the Reaper howl in frustration when he beat the odds once more and slipped through death's cold fingers yet again.
Not tonight, though. Not until he knew more about that mystery Vampire.
„It's been fun, Slayer." He gave the girl a mock bow. „Let's do this again real soon!"
With that he grabbed his sole surviving minion by the arm and shoved him toward the Slayer, taking off in the other direction. He would get the girl in a one on one fight yet and then he would show her. Oh yes, he would.
Even as he made his way out of the school he couldn't shake the nagging feeling of familiarity that had overcome him upon seeing that female Vampire. He was certain that he knew her from somewhere, her blood seemed to call out to him. A member of the family maybe? Another of Angelus' crazed children?
He would find out. And once he knew he would show this broad what happened to care bear Vampires that got chummy with the food. She would regret having gotten into his way.
„So let me see if I got this family tree straight!" Xander said. „The Master made this Darla chick Angela dusted last year. Darla sired quite a few Vampires, Angela among them. One of her other children made this Spike, who makes a sport of going after Slayers. Did I get that correct so far?"
Giles nodded. „As far as we can put it together, yes."
"So I guess he'll be even more pissed when he finds out that we killed his grandma?" Xander asked.
Willow turned toward Angela, who sat in a darkened corner of the library, the shadows pooling around her like folded raven wings.
„And that makes you Spike's aunt then, right?" Willow said, which caused Angela to flinch.
Buffy hated seeing her like this, so removed and uncomfortable in the presence of other people. At the same time she was sore with Willow. The redhead had overcome most of her resentment for Angela after the business with the Master, but now and then her dislike still shone through.
Buffy walked to Angela and put her hand on the Vampire's shoulder. Angela felt like marble beneath her fingers, so unmoving and cold.
„Is that why you were so tense?" She asked her softly. „Because he is family?"
„It's hard to go up against family blood." Angela whispered, her face almost hidden behind a curtain of dark brown hair.
„By all indications Spike has taken over the leadership of Sunnydale's Vampires." Giles continued. „I don't know what happened to the Anointed, but I think it's safe to assume he won't be a problem again."
„Leadership changes hands but one way among Vampires." Angela said, not looking up.
„Angela, what else can you tell us about Spike?" Giles asked. „Anything we know about him might help Buffy deal with him."
Angela nodded hesitantly. Buffy wished she could do something to lift the Vampire's spirit a bit. What did Vampires do for fun? Except slaughter people, that was.
„William ... Spike, he is a hothead. Impulsive. He is quite intelligent, but easily enraged. He can play mind games with people, but doesn't really have the patience for it. He will probably go the straightest route possible, no fancy plans unless he sees no other way to achieve his goals. And he won't quit."
„So you think he will try again?" Xander asked.
„I know he will!" Angela just said, looking at Buffy with worry in her dark orbs.
„I love this place." Drusilla sang, dancing to a music only she could hear.
„I know you do, pet!" Spike said, waltzing her across the floor of the factory they had made their home. „The energies of the Hellmouth will soon restore you to strength and then this town will burn."
„Pretty flames, yes! I can see them in my head already."
She twisted out of Spike's embrace and faced her doll collection.
„We will make a nice tea party," she told the assembled toys, „and everyone will be invited. Some to drink, some to be drinks, pretty red drinks, yes!"
Spike smiled. Drusilla's antics had driven many a man alive or dead up the wall, but he loved her despite all that. Or maybe because of it. It was hard to tell sometimes.
Even as he watched her, though, watched her beautiful form spin across the floor, his thoughts returned to another dark-haired Vampire currently in town.
Drusilla stopped and looked at him.
„You are thinking wicked thoughts, my heart!" She whispered. „Things to do with people not me. Share with princess!"
He shook his head. „It's just that Vampire I told you about. The one that helped the Slayer. I just can't understand why ... hell, I don't want to understand it! Might be infectious or something. One of our kind helping the Slayer, it's bloody not right!"
Drusilla smiled and put her arms around his neck.
„Do not worry, my heart! Soon we will dance and play, have fun and sing. I can see it already."
Spike smiled and kissed her deeply.
Some hours later, when Spike was away making new plans with his minions to kill the Slayer, Drusilla slipped out of bed and walked into the night, her eyes wildly darting around for something she hoped to see.
„I know you're here!" She whispered to the night air around her. „I can feel you."
Something caught her eye, a figure slowly walking across the abandoned playground she had just entered. A child, no older than five or six, looking very lost and frightened in the dark of early evening.
"Hi, little one!" She whispered as she got closer.
"I want my mommy!" The child sobbed, clearly frightened.
"I had a mommy once, too." Darla said, smiling. "But then I got something much better. Do you want something better, too?"
"I ... I mustn't talk to strangers!" The child said, edging back from the scary woman.
"I'm not strange!" Drusilla pouted. "People always say I'm strange, but I'm not. I'm not."
The child was about to turn and run when another figure appeared in the dark playground. Another woman, dressed all in black, looking every bit as scary as the first one.
"Run along, child!" The other woman just said and the child didn't hesitate to follow the advice.
Drusilla just smiled.
"I had a mommy once." The mad Vampire sang. "But then she got taken away and I got a daddy instead. But then my daddy went away."
She walked closer to Angela and her smile grew so broad it threatened to split her face in two.
"But daddy is home, all dressed up in mommy's clothing."
It was what Angela had feared. Of course Spike hadn't come to Sunnydale alone. Far be it from him to move from Drusilla's side. The two of them had been infatuated since the moment Drusilla had convinced Angelus to sire the miserable young man who fancied himself a poet in his day.
Drusilla the mad. Drusilla the seer. Drusilla, who had apparently seen through her female flesh in an instant.
"I knew you would be here." Dru said as she slowly walked closer, the child she had been fixated on but a moment ago forgotten now. "The moon told me."
Angela just remained standing, not wanting to say or do anything that could maybe confirm what Drusilla apparently knew already.
"You've been gone so long, my Angel!" The mad Vampire now stood so close their bodies were almost touching. They were almost exactly the same height, something else Angela wasn't used to. Looking directly into Dru's midnight black eyes wasn't something that made her feel comfortable. The madness lurking in those depths was like a physical reminder of what she had been when this poor girl had first fallen prey to her.
"I am not your Angel!" Angela said through clenched teeth.
"Not in guise, not in thoughts, but still in blood." Dru sang to her. "Still my Angel in all the ways that matter. I am so glad you are back. I missed you so much."
A pale hand reached out to softly brush across Angela's chest, long red nails scraping across the fabric of her dark shirt. The feeling was so incredibly familiar that Angela had to bite back a moan. Those days were long past now. She wasn't Angelus anymore.
"Leave, Dru!" She said, forcing her voice to sound neutral. "Take Spike and leave this town. Or I will be forced to ..."
"What?" Dru asked, spinning away from her playfully. "Punish us? Spank me until my bottom is black and blue? You and the naughty Slayer will come for us? Will we play good games and have lots of fun?"
Angela shook her head sadly.
"No games, Dru. I don't want to kill you, but ..."
"You killed me once already." Dru reminded him. "Killed me and made it all better then. Made me pretty, made me strong."
"Take Spike and go, Dru!" Angela said once more. "Leave while you can! Otherwise you leave me no choice."
The mad Vampire walked closer once more, slender fingers brushing across Angela's cheek, her British-tinged voice incredibly soft and loving.
"Always choices, love. Always. My Spike doesn't see, but I do. He won't learn from me, but he will figure it out. I dread what will happen that day."
Dru pushed away from her, her moment of clarity lost again.
"All alone in the moonlight, does the Slayer know what you feel for her? Naughty, wicked thoughts for her young girl body? Does she know?"
Drusilla didn't wait for an answer, instead she just bounced away across the playground and vanished into the night. Angela watched her go, deeply disturbed by this nightly encounter. If it hadn't been for the child she wouldn't have come within a mile of Drusilla. As it was ...
"Damn!" She whispered to herself.
Buffy had planned to meet up with Angela for this night's patrol, but had been delayed by running across two Vampires out for some early evening snacks. Taking care of them had made her late and Angela hadn't been there when she finally got to her apartment.
Disappointed, Buffy had gone through her patrol alone, until she saw the two figures in the playground.
One was Angela. The other was clearly a Vampire.
Buffy had been about to run to them, help Angela fight his creature, but as her friend had made no move to attack, she had instead decided to wait and observe for the moment. Observe how the Vampire woman had said some things that Buffy was too far away to have heard, yet their effects on Angela were clearly visible.
And hauntingly familiar to her initial reaction to Spike.
'Another family member?' Buffy thought. Angela had gone off against quite a few of her family since coming here, Buffy realized. Darla, her very own Sire, whom she had staked to save Buffy's life. The Master, the Sire of Darla, whom Buffy had killed only after being brought back to life by Xander and Angela. Spike. And now this woman.
How long did they know each other, Buffy wondered. How many centuries connected them? Buffy knew that Angela was about 250 years old, give or take, and that was an awful lot of time compared to the mere year she had spent here in Sunnydale.
Buffy didn't hear the words, but she saw Angela's body language quite clearly and had gotten familiar with it these past few months. Her friend was struggling against herself, that much was clear. Buffy guessed that she was telling the Vampire to get the hell out of Dodge or something. The duty part of Buffy was a bit cross that Angela didn't immediately stake this dangerous creature, but that was the same part that wanted to stake Angela as well, so Buffy paid it little heed.
She watched as the Vampire woman reached out and touched Angela, the gesture screaming of familiarity and shared history. Something stirred inside Buffy, something that found it just plain wrong that Angela should be so familiar with this monster. Buffy shook it off. No matter how much closer she and Angela had grown these past few months, there was still a whole lot she didn't know about her mysterious ally. Too many layers she just couldn't penetrate yet.
Buffy was sometimes confused about her feelings for her Vampire friend. Like she had told Willow once, it felt incredibly good to have one of the monsters that ran around in her night life turn out to be on her side, yet at the same time she was intimidated by so many things about Angela.
Her age, her experience. All the things she knew and had lived through. The incredible weight of the guilt she carried around with her, guilt for something that wasn't really her fault. Her mysteriousness, the image of the shadow figure she still cultivated with such success. Even such comparatively mundane things as her beauty, the serene way she carried herself most of the times. Angela wasn't a girl, she was a woman.
Buffy wondered if Angela had noticed that the Slayer often watched her for clues on how to appear more like a grown woman herself.
She trusted Angela, yet at the same time she knew that there was a lot the Vampire didn't share. It wasn't surprising, seeing as how many things in her past Angela was deeply ashamed of. Buffy was managing to get her to open up more and more, but she was quite sure she had only seen a bit of the real Angela yet.
What she hadn't yet figured out was why Angela did what she did. Guilt? Surely. A quest for atonement? Something like that. But why Buffy? Why concentrate all her energies on helping the Slayer? Why stay even when Buffy had been out to hunt her down and slay her for what she was?
She didn't know yet. But she intended to find out.
Finally the Vampire woman walked away from Angela, or jumped away actually, and Buffy decided to walk on over and pretend like she had only just arrived and seen nothing of what just happened. At least for tonight. Angela had been grilled enough about her past these last few days with everyone interrogating her about Spike. No need to put her through that all over again just now.
She would, though. Buffy was determined to learn everything there was to learn about her mysterious friend.
Angela and Buffy were sparring in the middle of the library, Giles watching his charge, making the occasional comment on how to improve her technique. Xander was sitting on the library steps, watching the fight with a bowl of popcorn in his lap.
"You're moving your shoulder!" Giles admonished as Buffy threw a blow that Angela ducked easily.
"Did not!" Buffy complained, throwing another punch the Vampire ducked, only to respond with a leg sweep that knocked Buffy off her feet, causing her to land on her butt.
"Did, too!" Xander commented, enjoying the view of Buffy in exercise clothing. He just wished Angela would consider the summer temperatures and wear a little less. She certainly had no need to be ashamed of that body he did his best to catch glimpses off.
Buffy looked up at Angela, who offered her a hand back to her feet, and found it disturbing that the Vampire didn't sweat while fighting. Somehow it gave her a big psychological advantage in a fight with someone who did.
It also didn't help that Buffy was still finding herself distracted, trying to figure out her mysterious friend and her twisted family connections.
They sparred for another half hour and Buffy managed to win about two thirds of their rounds, throwing her shoulder or not. Angela was by far the more experienced and trickier of the two, but Buffy was stronger and in better shape. Though Angela had improved tremendously since they had started sparring, making good a century of neglecting her body and fighting ability.
"I'm gonna hit the showers before we go patrolling!" Buffy announced, wiping the sweat from her brow, at the same time giving Angela's sweat-free face a glare. The Vampire just shrugged with the barest hint of a smile.
"You got the coolest job, Giles." Xander announced once both Angela and Buffy had left, one toward the showers, the other toward the sewers. "Some people pay money to see two beauties like these beat up each other."
Giles gave him a look which Xander happily ignored.
Neither of them noticed the Vampire sneaking through the stacks, disappearing with a book in her hands.
"What do you think I should wear for Halloween?" Buffy asked Angela as they crossed through the cemetery.
"I'm not an expert on that, I'm afraid." The Vampire replied. "Like most demons I always stayed clear of Halloween whenever I could."
"Giles said the same." Buffy's forehead creased. "Why is that? I mean, wouldn't Halloween be the perfect day for you guys? You could run around in the open and no one would notice."
"I can't speak for everyone, but most Vampires I know find the entire thing much to crass."
Buffy dropped the topic, instead trying to think of a way to get around to the much more interesting one of Angela's past. Especially her past with some of the Vampires currently running around Sunnydale. Her friend had skillfully deflected any and all attempts to start a conversation about this Spike and the female Vampire from the other night, so a more indirect approach was called for.
"Maybe something from the past." Buffy mused out loud. "What did women wear in your time? I mean, when you were human."
Angela stopped, looking Buffy up and down. For a moment Buffy felt almost naked under the Vampire's intense gaze. A strange sparkle showed in Angela's eyes for a moment, only to disappear as fast as it had come.
"I really can't imagine you in a corset and a hoop skirt." She finally said. "Wouldn't be you."
"But that's the whole point of Halloween!" Buffy replied. "To be someone you're not. So, take the Slayer, big heap demon fighter. If we have a demon-free night, why not transform her into a 18th century lady?"
Angela sighed and Buffy smiled.
"And we have to pick a good costume for you, too." She added.
"No!" Angela said categorically. "Remember what I said about demons and Halloween?"
"So, you're gonna be a not-demon for one night. Be what you're not, remember?"
"I'm not gonna dress up!" Angela refused.
"You could wear white." Buffy said, trying to imagine Angela in anything but black clothing. "That would be so radical a change I'd count it as a costume."
Angela shook her head again.
"You should enjoy a demon-free night." She said, trying to change the topic. "Go to a party or something."
"Snyder volunteered us for trick or treating with the kids." Buffy said with a sour face. "After that, though, there is a big party at the Bronze. Xander asked me for a friendship-knitting dance."
Angela said nothing about that, yet Buffy had gotten to the point where the Vampire's total lack of response counted as a response all its own.
It had been a mistake to accept Xander's invitation to go to Spring Fling together. Of course by the time they had all actually gone there the world had almost ended, Buffy had died and come back, and the Hellmouth had opened and closed again. So it really hadn't been your average dance.
She had accepted mostly because she had really wanted to go to the dance, do something normal for a change, and, quite frankly, there had been no one else. Ever since Owen she had pretty much sworn off dating. Xander was her friend and she had thought going to the dance with him would be nice.
Xander obviously saw her as more than a friend and that one evening, especially with Buffy still distraught over her battle against the Master, had done severe damage to their friendship. When she came back from her summer holidays things had not improved much. She had been so intent on letting no one see how hurt and scared she was, that she had almost lost all her friends.
Thank God Angela and Cordelia - of all people - had knocked some sense back into her.
She was mostly back on even keel again as far as Xander was concerned, who seemed to distract himself from his crush on her by concentrating on his crush on Angela. Maybe the Vampire had noticed that and that was the reason she seemed less than fond of Xander most of the times. Never unfriendly, yet never really warm, either.
"You have to come." Buffy said to break her own mood. "And you'll either wear all-white or a costume. Your pick!"
Angela sighed and Buffy knew that she had won.
They met some Vampires shortly afterward and Angela was able to work off some of the frustration that the topics of Spike, Drusilla, and Xander Harris had built up inside of her.
Something very strange was going on in Sunnydale, Angela thought. Okay, that in itself wasn't unusual. This town had a lot more than its share of strange happenings, sitting right on top of a Hellmouth that attracted the supernatural from all over the continent.
Still, this was Halloween. Nothing ever happened on Halloween. Only now it did.
Everything had started harmless, as it always did. People running around in garish costumes, pretending to the big bad monsters they stubbornly refused to believe in on any other night of the year, no matter how many people died mysterious deaths. Demons, goblins, monsters, all just masks. The real things stayed in on this night.
Except her. Because Buffy wanted her there at the Bronze Halloween party and Angela had yet to learn to say no to this girl. So she had even dressed up. Faced with the choices Buffy had offered her, Angela had chosen the less obscene of the two and exchanged her trademark black against white.
One of her few white shirts, a white pair of pants she had bought the night before, and a white leather jacket Buffy had given her as a present a few months earlier. One she had worn exactly once to show proper appreciation and then never touched again. White just wasn't her color.
She had stubbornly refused Buffy's attempt to make her bleach her hair.
She had been supposed to meet Buffy at six, after trick or treating was done, but strangeness had started happening much earlier than that. Suddenly all the funny masks and garish costumes were gone, replaced by monsters and demons that seemed all too real.
What had happened here? Angela had seen a few kids transform into monsters right in front of her eyes. Their masks had molded into their skin, children's laughter turned into growls and snarls, and four feet tall goblins and Vampires were hunting the few people without costumes around today.
Everyone had become their costumes, it seemed.
That sparked another thought in Angela's head. Buffy had told her she would dress as an 18th century lady. Angela had no idea whether the Slayer had actually gone through with that, but if she had ... Angela remembered the 18th century ladies, oh did she ever. Angelus had preyed on quite a lot of them, as had Liam before him, though in a different way.
If Buffy had turned into an 18th century lady, she was completely helpless.
Without another thought Angela took off running toward Buffy's house.
"This is just ... neat!" Spike said, taking in the chaos on the streets of Sunnydale. Drusilla had been right once again, it seemed. Someone or something had turned the usually quiet night of Halloween into every demon's dream.
Now, if only she was right about the whole Slayer being weak thing ...
Instinct made Spike duck into the shadow of a tree when a figure dashed down the street in a blur of white. A feeling spread through his belly and he knew what it was. Family blood. This time he was sure. He watched as the female Vampire that helped the Slayer ran down the street, her beautiful face marked by worry.
Something was very off about her, more than just the whole helping the Slayer stuff. A Vampire had no business looking this worried and concerned unless an angry crowd with torches and crosses was right behind it. Something felt extremely wrong about this one.
Spike shook his head. Time enough to learn more about this mystery Vamp that somehow shared his bloodline once he had taken care of the Slayer. No telling how long this strange spell would hold. He had to take advantage of it while he could.
He stepped out on the street and approached a small band of demons. Most of them were too short to be the real thing and all of them smelled wrong, but they would do.
"Hey there, kiddies!" He greeted them, slipping into game face. "You want to play a funny game?"
Angela arrived at Buffy's house just in time to see a demon enter through the kitchen door. Not one of the transformed children, either. A glance sufficed to let her know that this was the real deal. Apparently the supernatural population of Sunnydale thought that, since everyone else was already out partying on this very strange Halloween, there was no reason not to join the fun.
A scream sounded from inside. A very high-pitched female scream. The few times Angela had heard Buffy scream, like the time the Slayer had learned about her being a Vampire, she had sounded nothing like this. So ... weak. The predator inside Angela smiled at that sound. So familiar.
She was through the kitchen door and into the dark house in a flash, seeing the demon slowly approach a figure in a wide pink dress. Buffy?
"Get away! Get away!" The Slayer was batting at the creature, her face a mask of fear, looking like she would faint any second now. Without hesitating Angela barreled into the creature from behind, taking both of them down to the floor.
Two hard punches and a harder twist of the neck finished off the creature and Angela rose again, looking at Buffy. The Slayer, or not-Slayer right now, stood with her back against the wall, panting from fear, and stared at her with wide eyes.
"You ... you killed it!" She said, her voice a mixture of disbelief and outrage.
"Are you all right?" Angela asked, moving closer.
"I don't understand what is going on here." Only now did Angela realize that Buffy spoke English with a strange accent. French? "What are all these monsters doing here? Why are you all dressed so strangely? Why does a woman fight a monster?"
Old habit almost made Angela say that she was not a woman. Of course she was one, had been one for a century now. Only she would never quite get used to it.
"Front door is secure!" Xander came into the kitchen and Angela needed but a moment to realize that he, too, was under the spell. He wore army garb and carried a very real M16 combat rifle like he knew how to use it. His face held nothing of his usual good humor, looking all business.
"Who is she?" He motioned toward Angela.
"Oh, she's a friend." Cordelia announced, coming into the kitchen as well. She wore a cat suit, complete with a tail. Strangely enough she behaved nothing like a cat. She still behaved like Cordelia. "You don't happen to know how everyone got turned into their costumes?"
"Not everyone, it seems." Angela nodded toward her.
"Right. I like the look, by the way." Cordelia added. "You should wear more white. Though I'd have to see you by daylight for once to be sure."
For a moment Angela wondered whether Cordelia actually meant that comment. Didn't she know that Angela was a Vampire?
A growl from the kitchen door drew everyone's attention. A small group of demons, real and transformed both, stood outside, glaring at them.
"Let's play the funny game!" A very familiar voice called out from behind the gathered monsters.
"Get out!" Angela yelled and went to meet the first demon entering the house head-on. Without Buffy by their side the odds didn't look too good, even though Xander might just be able to be a bigger help than usual.
"We have to hide!" She heard Buffy cry out behind her. All this was definitely too big a reminder of the bad old days for her.
More demons spilled into the kitchen, Spike standing just outside and grinning all over his demon face. The call of family blood and the heat of battle brought Angela's demon to the surface. She vamped out and growled as she threw the creature she had been fighting into the approaching horde, buying them a few seconds.
"Get out! Now!" She yelled at the others.
Cordelia gasped upon seeing her true face. Buffy screamed and started running as if the devil itself were behind her.
Definitely too familiar!
Everything inside Angela screamed for her to just tear these creatures apart. They stood between her and the girl she had sworn to protect. The girl who was helpless now, unable to defend herself against a monster that Angela herself had created.
Spike had tracked them down. Aided by a dozen children-turned-demons and a few real ones he had tracked them down and now they were caught. Angela and a surprisingly strong Xander had tried to fight them, but how could they harm these innocents that had somehow been made into monsters?
It had been their undoing. Three Vampires, real ones, held Angela back, pinning her against the wall until she could do nothing but watch. Watch as Spike closed in on his prey.
"Gotta love this!" The bleached Vampire smirked. "The Slayer, the big bad Slayer, the girl who poofed the Master himself, crying and helpless."
Buffy tried to edge back from him, tears streaking down her cheeks, her tiny form shivering from the terror. Spike quickly grabbed her by the throat and slowly, oh so slowly, bent her backward, bringing his own face closer to hers.
"I should be disappointed." He whispered to her. "No fight, no sport. But this is just too good to pass up, luv! So, since I didn't get my jollies kicking the crap out of you, I will instead enjoy this."
"No!" Angela yelled, struggling against the arms that held her.
"Leave her alone!" Xander shouted, fighting against the four child-demons that held him back.
"You I'll kill later, don't worry!" Spike smirked at Xander, then threw a grim glare at Angela. "And you, my dear, I need to have words with. Something involving a Vampire's loyalties to her bloodline and probably a few barbed chains or something. Maybe a railroad spike or two."
Angela's blood froze. Spike knew. Not everything, it seemed, but he knew that they were family. Small wonder actually. Even a Vampire as disinterested in most of the more arcane areas of Vampirism as Spike could not miss the pull of the blood between them.
For the first time Angela felt a pang of fear for herself. Spike had never liked Angelus. He also despised this female Vampire who was helping the Slayer. If he figured out that the two were one and the same ...
"First thing first, though." Spike's lips spread into a smile once more and he bent over Buffy.
"Please!" The girl whimpered, which only served to heighten Spike's pleasure.
"Yes, Slayer!" He growled when his fangs were but inches from her neck. "Beg me!"
Angela suddenly felt the hold the Vampires had on her lessen, the young fledglings enthralled by the imminent death of the Slayer. With a burst of strength Angela was free and barreled past the surprised demons.
Moments later she slammed into Spike like a missile.
"Not on your life, William!" She snarled at him, her demon face coming to the surface, as she rained punches down on him.
Spike threw her off, surging back to his feet to face her.
"You know my name?" He hissed. "Who are you? Why do you betray your own blood? Tell me!"
The two Vampires collided again, throwing punches and kicks at each other in a blur of motion. Angela's anger worked against the edge Spike held in size and strength. She remembered being larger than him, dominating him when he was little more than a fledgling. It had been but a decade between her ... his making him as Dru's playmate and falling victim to the Gypsy curse, but in those years Angelus had shown him who was the master in the family.
Only she wasn't that master any longer. She wasn't Angelus.
Angela still wasn't back to her full fighting strength. Angelus had been a vicious combatant. She wasn't. A hundred years of neglect, unused to fighting in this smaller female body, she couldn't match Spike for long. With a growl the younger Vampire blocked one of her punches and threw one of his own that knocked Angela off her feet and onto the floor, stunned.
"Family or not," Spike advanced toward her, "you will die for betraying your kind to the Slayer!"
Angela tried to get back up, but her body refused to obey. Spike picked her up by the throat and threw her into the nearest wall, his other hand grabbing a wooden broomstick that stood nearby. Figures, Angela thought, never a piece of wood around when she needed it, but the moment Spike had her against the wall ...
Suddenly something changed. It was as if a great pressure fell away from the air around them. The snarling and growling of the demons ceased, to be replaced by the confused noises of children.
"What the ...?" Spike asked, confused by the sudden change in his 'henchmen'.
"Hi honey!" A voice came from behind him. "I'm back!"
Spike was ripped away from Angela and thrown across the room like a toy. He crashed to the floor in a heap and looked up just in time to see a smiling Slayer stalk toward him.
"No one messes with my friends!" Buffy warned him, twirling the captured broomstick in her hand.
For the second time in a row Spike saw the odds turn against him. He had been looking forward to kill a weak, crying Slayer. Now he was facing a pissed-off, full-strength one.
He should have known. It just didn't pay to go out on Halloween.
"Bitch!" Spike jumped back up and made a run for it. Buffy tried to give chase, but the confused children got between her and the running Vampire, buying him the few precious seconds he needed to disappear into the night.
"This is getting to be a habit." She murmured to herself. "The guy always runs when things start to go my way."
She shook her head. Spike would come back another night, she was sure of that by now. Right now there was a horde of frightened children they had to take care of. And a friend to whom she owed her life. Again.
"Are you okay?" Buffy asked Angela, who was massaging her sore throat.
"Only my pride is hurt." She said. "I need to get back into shape more quickly. That I would live to see the day that Spike would take me down ..."
The moment she said it Angela seemed to chide herself for doing it. It got Buffy thinking. From what she had told them before it had sounded like Angela did know Spike, but only as a distant member of the same family. Now, though ...
The sound of children crying reminded her of her more immediate duty.
"Let's get you home then!" She told the children, giving them a positive smile. Behind that smile she was making a promise to herself, though.
She would find out what Angela was all about. And soon.
Once again they met at the waterfront and Buffy found Angela already there, staring out at the black surface of the ocean, her eyes filled with the memories of a life so much longer than Buffy could even imagine.
A life she wanted to know about.
"You know Spike a lot better than you let on, right?" Buffy asked without preamble.
Angela had discarded her white clothes the minute Halloween had gone and was back in her trademark black, her form almost fading into the night where she stood. Only her pale face stood out, white skin almost shining in the light of the few street lamps around.
"I know him." Angela just said, not turning to look at Buffy.
So many questions and not just about Angela, Buffy thought. Willow had told her that Giles had dealt with whomever had caused all this wackiness with the costumes, but she had no clue how. Giles offered no information whatsoever and flat out refused to even talk about it.
A behavior she was becoming all too familiar with among the people close to her. Was it contagious?
"And that Vampire woman you met the other night?" Buffy continued. "You looked quite familiar with her as well."
Angela remained quiet for a long time, then shook her head and gave Buffy a tired glance.
"What do you want, Buffy?" She asked, her voice almost lifeless.
"I want to know about you." Buffy stated. "I happen to think of you as a friend, Angela. You know pretty much all there is to know about me, but I know almost squat about you."
Angela closed her eyes, shaking her head again.
"Most of my life is not worth sharing with others."
"Why don't you let me be the judge of that?" Buffy asked. "Look, I figured a few things on my own. I figure you are pretty new at this having a friend thing. You may have tons of experience in lots of other things, but as far as friendship goes, you can still learn quite a few things from me."
Buffy walked closer and put her hand on Angela's arm, her fingers closing around the cool black leather of the Vampire's coat. There was no warmth beneath the fabric, nothing to show that something was alive under there. Somehow Buffy found that very sad.
"Friends share!" Buffy said. "Not just the good stuff, either. You have listened to me for so long now, Angela. Listened to me mope about how I don't have a life, how being the Slayer puts a strain on all the other stuff. Just for a change I would like to listen to you as well."
Angela looked at Buffy's hand on her arm as if it was a very strange and discomforting thing. A flicker of emotions briefly played across her pale features before the marble poker face reasserted itself.
"Maybe I don't want to talk." Angela just said after a while.
"I don't believe that." Buffy said. "I think you've just forgotten how. I can't imagine how these last hundred years since the return of your soul must have been for you, but I think you have forgotten what it is like to talk to people. To share. You're hiding behind that black coat and shadow creature thing."
Buffy was trying to see anything behind that poker face, trying to see whether she was getting through. Damn it, she wasn't cut out for this. She was a sixteen-year-old teenager, not a psychiatrist, yet here she was, trying to figure out a 250-year-old Vampire's issues.
The Buffy of a year ago would never have recognized her, that much was for sure.
"You can't understand." Angela said quietly. "How can you expect to understand?"
"Maybe I can't." Buffy admitted. "But then again, maybe I can. Maybe I know what it feels like when you're life suddenly turns upside down without warning. Maybe I know what it's like when you don't know who you are some mornings, when you look at your face in the mirror and have no clue who that girl is. Maybe I know what it's like to be stuck between two worlds, not really belonging to either. Not to be able to share your life with anyone because they can't understand."
Angela just looked at her.
"When we first met," Buffy continued, "I thought that I'd finally found someone who did understand. I have a few wonderful friends in my day world, Angela, but here in the night I have no one. No one who understands. No one except you."
For a long time they just looked at each other, neither of them blinking. Buffy found herself wondering whether Vampires needed to blink, found herself thinking of a hundred important and unimportant things that she could talk about with her friend, things that friends talked about.
"Her name," Angela said after what seemed like an eternity, "is Drusilla."
"What?" Buffy asked, confused.
"The Vampire I met the other night. Her name is Drusilla. A hundred and fifty years ago I took a young, innocent girl. I took away her family. I took away all her friends. I drove her mad. Then I cursed her with eternal life so that her pain would last forever. She is my masterpiece. The ultimate expression of my artistry. A living, walking sculpture of human suffering."
Buffy was unable to reply anything, so Angela just went on.
"Fifty years later I grew weary of her. Drusilla needs someone to take care of her. Spike gladly took the job. Back then he was still a fledgling, nothing more than a plaything, and I took advantage of that. Full advantage."
Once she had finished Angela looked at a staring Buffy for a long time.
"Is that what you wanted to hear, Buffy?" She asked finally.
Not expecting an answer she turned away from the Slayer, walked away to vanish into the darkness, only to be held back when said answer unexpectedly rang out.
"Yes." Buffy just said.
Angela turned around again and found the Slayer walk up to her.
"I want to hear all that." Buffy added, looking Angela in the eyes.
The Vampire just shook her head, not believing what she heard.
"I have deciphered the book."
Spike looked up from where he brooded about lost opportunities and traitorous Vampires.
Spike jumped to his feet, excitement dispelling the gloom.
"Tell me, then! Tell me how to heal my love from her wounds! Tell me how to make her well again so we can burn this town to the ground!"
The minion flinched back from Spike's violent enthusiasm, adjusting his glasses.
"The ... the ritual is not that difficult. But ..."
"But what?" Spike got into his face.
"In order for Drusilla to be restored, we need the blood ... the blood of her Sire."
For a minute or so Spike seemed to have transformed into the marble statue he sometimes appeared to be, not moving, not reacting, his blue eyes just nailing his trembling minion to the spot without hope of escape.
"Her Sire." He finally stated.
"Drusilla's Sire. The one who gave her eternal life. He who drank from her when she was a mortal and then fed her his blood, is that the Sire you are talking about?"
Spike closed his eyes, slowly counting to ten. "Angelus!" He murmured under his breath.
With a wave he dismissed his minion, who gladly took the opportunity to make himself scarce. Spike dropped back into his chair, eyes closed, shaking his head.
"Angelus." He murmured again, then chuckled. Angelus. Dru's Sire. His Sire, too, more or less. Not the one who had drunken from him in that dark alley all these years ago, but the one who had fed him his blood, who had taught him everything he needed to know about life among the undead.
Angelus. Who had disappeared without a trace a century ago.
"Angelus." Spike chuckled without humor. "Bloody terrific."
In need of a Sire, Spike mused. Where to find one, though?