Buffy wasn't having a very good day. Not at all.
It wasn't enough that professional assassins were after her. No, that alone wouldn't have been enough for the Slayer. She had to encounter a second Slayer on top of that, a girl so incredibly obnoxious and arrogant that it turned her stomach.
Giles wasn't helping things, what with being fascinated by how many books Kendra had eaten up in her childhood, seeing as she had been raised to be the Slayer from her birth. Seeing them laugh together about some kind of literary reference she had no hope of understanding had been more than she could bare.
Giles was her Watcher. She was the Slayer. Not this ... this ... she couldn't think of a word that really described how she felt about the other Slayer, but it was somewhere in the general vicinity of 'bitch'.
And to top it all off, she hadn't heard from Angela yet.
"Hey, you okay?" Willow asked her.
"Sure. Just ... not okay." Buffy said. "I know that didn't make much sense."
"It's Kendra, right?" The redhead said. "Don't worry, Buffy. She can't replace you. No one could."
Buffy looked at Kendra and Giles talking together and another thought came to her.
"But what if I want her to?"
"I mean, look at her! Kendra likes being the Slayer. Has never known anything else. If she likes this stupid job so much, why don't I let her take it? As soon as this thing with Spike is done with I'll tell Kendra she can take over and I'll go to Disney Land."
Willow looked at her, then shook her head.
"No, you can't." She just said.
"Okay, so maybe not Disney Land. But I hear New York is a pretty place."
"I mean you can't just quit being the Slayer because of Kendra. I can't imagine you quitting."
Buffy sighed. "Okay, maybe I won't. But ... maybe things will get easier. You know, with two Slayer around, maybe I can take some time off once in a while. Maybe me and Kendra can take turns guarding the Hellmouth or something. I could go on holiday."
Buffy babbled on about the possibilities of there being two Slayers, Willow nodding in all the right places. She could clearly see that Buffy was worried about something else. Something that was not Kendra.
With a bit of chagrin Willow realized what that something had to be.
"Nothing from Angela?"
Buffy stopped in her tracks, looking at Willow. Then her eyes went dark with worry.
"Nothing. I know she got out of that cage, Willow, but ... when I thought she might have died in there, died because I wasn't there ..."
"Buffy, Angela took care of herself centuries before you were born. She won't go down because of a second-class Slayer."
The two girls shared a chuckle, once again looking over at Kendra and Giles.
"You're probably right. Still, I worry about her. She isn't at her apartment, so where could she be?"
"She's probably just recuperating somewhere, safely out of the daylight. You'll see, the moment darkness falls she'll be here and scare us out of our wits by appearing from thin air."
They walked along the corridors, which were still very busy with Snyder's newest brain child. The career fare.
"I have to check out law enforcement now." Buffy said, scowling. "I don't know how they picked me for that. I'll never be a cop."
Willow just smiled. She would never say it out loud, but she was convinced Buffy would make a great cop.
Everything happened in a matter of seconds. Buffy's name had been called by the police officer present to demonstrate a career in law enforcement. She had raised her hand and moments later bullets were flying her way.
A Taraka assassin. Here. In her school. Oh, Spike would pay for that!
Students were screaming all around her. People simply vanishing in the dead of night, to be later found dead, that was nothing new for the students of Sunnydale High. But a shoot-out right in the middle of the day, they hadn't seen that yet.
"Get down!" Buffy screamed at the people present, moments later following her own advice. The police woman, or fake police woman, was shooting for all she was worth. Buffy was reminded of the time Darla had come after her with guns.
Only this time there was no Angela around to catch a bullet for her.
Buffy heard a scream. Willow! She saw the redhead go down, some guy on top of her. He had shoved her out of the way and caught a bullet himself.
"Enough is enough!" She yelled, jumping up from behind her cover.
Only to find herself looking right into the barrel of the gun.
"So much for the Slayer!" The assassin grinned. Buffy froze.
A kick came out of nowhere and knocked the weapon from the assassin's hand. Buffy reacted on instinct and threw a kick of her own, sending the woman flying. Kendra was by her side in a second and the two Slayers faced the downed assassin.
Buffy was still too shocked to come up with a good pun and Kendra wasn't really good at them, either. The silence was filled with tension.
The assassin took a moment to assess the situation, then bolted.
Kendra went after her. For a moment Buffy thought about doing the same thing, but then she heard Willow yell for a doctor and was by her friend's side in a moment. The guy that had shoved her aside was sitting up, staring in fascination at the wound in his shoulder.
"I'm shot." He murmured. "Wow!"
"We have to get him a doctor!" Willow cried.
Kendra came back in. "She got away." She said matter-of-factly.
"Don't worry. I'm sure she'll come around again." Buffy smiled up at Kendra. "Thanks by the way."
Kendra just nodded in that arrogant way she had. Buffy sighed.
With the chaos outside finally dying down, Buffy and Willow returned to library, where Kendra was already talking with Giles. Buffy still hated seeing her Watcher with the other Slayer, no matter that said Slayer had just saved her life.
"Ah, Buffy." Giles said, seeing her. "Are you all right? I heard ..."
"I'm okay. Thanks to Kendra." Buffy gave the girl a reluctant smile. "One of the students was shot, but it's just a flesh wound. He'll be fine."
Something in Giles' voice told Buffy that something else had come up. Something not good.
"What is it, Giles?"
Her Watcher took off his glasses to rub his eyes.
"I ... we think we have figured out what Spike needs the book and the Cross of DuLac for. It's not good."
"Not a recipe for French fries, DuLac style, I guess." Buffy tried to lighten the mood.
"Not exactly." Giles nodded. "The magic described in the book can be used, among other things, to restore an ailing Vampire back to full health."
"Someone like Drusilla?" Willow asked in a small voice, hoping for Giles to say it wasn't so.
Buffy remained calm, but inside she was anything but. Angela had told her some stories about Drusilla, the mad Vampire. She wasn't the strongest bloodsucker around, but she was a seer, gifted with some kind of prophecy power. There was no telling the carnage she would be able to cause.
"We have to stop Spike then." Buffy said. "I'd guess he'll need some rituals, talismans, and stuff, right? The usual boogaboo. Maybe we can find him that way."
There was a grave look on Giles' face, one that sent Buffy into deep worry.
"Giles, what is it you're not telling me?" She implored.
"This Spike needs the blood of Drusilla's Sire to restore her." Kendra said, confused as to why the Watcher was so distraught over this news. "It won't work otherwise."
Buffy paled, looking at Giles, desperately pleading with him to tell her that Kendra was joking, or making a mistake. The Watcher just nodded, though, not meeting his Slayer's eyes.
"Angela." Giles confirmed.
"No!" Buffy almost didn't recognize her own voice. Was this her voice? So full of fear?
"This Vampire you like so much?" Kendra asked.
"He needs Angela?" Buffy asked. "What ... what will he do to her? Will this ritual ... will it ...?"
"I'm afraid it will." Giles said.
Angela dead? No, that couldn't happen. Buffy couldn't imagine what her life would be like without her mysterious friend to watch her back. How often had Angela saved her life already? Helped her make sense of the all the weirdness. It would be like losing Giles. Or Willow. Or Xander. It mustn't happen!
"We have to find her!" Buffy said resolutely.
"But you said Spike didn't recognize Angela." Willow said. "Maybe ... maybe he doesn't know."
Yes, Buffy remembered. Spike hadn't known who Angela was the two times they had met so far. Which was strange, come to think of it. Angela had told her that Spike had taken over care for Drusilla when Angela tired of her, so how come Spike didn't know her? Angela had also hinted that she had abused Spike when he had been a fledgling. Were a hundred years enough to make the bleached wonder forget her?
She couldn't quite imagine that. Spike struck her as the kind who held a grudge. Something was missing here.
"We still have to find her." Buffy said. "Maybe Spike found out or maybe Drusilla told him. She certainly knows who her Sire is."
Xander picked up the phone and dialed the number of Angela's apartment, but no one picked up.
"She's still not home."
"Where is she, damn it!" Buffy swore. "We know she got out of that cage and ..."
A thought occurred to her. "Or maybe she didn't."
"What?" Kendra asked.
"We only have that sleazy barkeeper's word that she did. Maybe she didn't get out, but instead someone took her out of that cage."
"Someone like Spike?" Willow asked.
Angela's world had been reduced to pain. Exhaustion and thirst for blood had long since robbed her of the strength to even scream. The only things she still noticed were the agony inflicted upon her body by the cold hands and shaft of her tormentor and the beautiful voice laughing in the background.
"May I play, Spike?" She knew that voice from somewhere. Drusilla?
Someone grabbed her by the hair, roughly pulling back her head. She felt blood trail down her face, not able to tell where it was coming from. There was a pain in her neck where sharp fangs had entered in numerous spots. Her eyes refused to focus, but she saw the outlines of a pale face right in front of her.
"Of course, luv!" A deeper voice. Familiar as well. "Everyone should have fun while it lasts."
Angela's eyes fell shut again when she felt another hand touch her. A small, cold hand, one that seemed to know exactly where to touch and how to do it. A whimper escaped Angela's lips as a wave of unwanted pleasure swept through her abused body.
"Daddy always touched me here." Drusilla whispered into her ear. "He knew how to make me happy. But never for long."
The next thing Angela felt was some kind of liquid touching her skin. A burning pain tore through every inch of her body.
"He said it would make me clean and shiny!" Drusilla sang.
Angela screamed as the holy water poured down on her.
Angela knew what it was like to break people.
Break their bodies, break their minds, enjoy their pain like one would enjoy the taste of freshly spilled blood. Angelus had been quite the sadist. Had even gone so far as to read and memorize everything that men of that time knew about human anatomy. Just so he could hurt them more.
Oh yes, Angela knew what it felt like to break people. She just never had it done to her before.
Pain was nothing new to her. She had existed with little else these past hundred years. Thinking about it, she found that this was actually a better kind of pain. Because this pain could be cured with a drink of animal blood or a good long rest. The other, though, had been the kind of pain that never let her go, no matter how far she ran, because it came from the inside.
All her thoughts about better and worse kinds of pain did not lessen what she felt right now, of course.
Pain all over. Every inch of her body was in agony. A part of her, the demon part, could not help but be proud of how much her boy William had learned at Angelus' feet. Yet that same demon was furious at the whelp for daring to do this to his elder.
The largest part of Angela did her best to try and feel nothing. Try not to flinch at the slightest sound, fearing that it meant more pain for her. Try not to shiver when hearing Spike and Drusilla moan on the bed beside her. Try not to voice the agony that still tore through her body, knowing it would only inspire Spike to more effort.
She was on her back, left lying on the cold stone floor, while her tormentors amused themselves on the bed. She was no longer tied up, but couldn't have moved or fought for the life of her. She had lost track of the injuries and pains, there were just too many to count.
One small part of her mind, though, the one not occupied with pain and fear of more pain, saw things with a surprising, almost crystal clarity. Spike and Dru were done with their games. She could feel the sun begin to set and then the ritual would start. The one that would kill her and restore Drusilla to full power.
And once that happened the two of them would no doubt go after Buffy.
Angela was broken in body, but not in mind. Yes, she was afraid. Yes, she was in more physical pain that she had ever believed existed, but all that paled beside the certain knowledge of what would happen to Buffy unless she managed to stop Spike.
And there was but one way for her to stop him now.
Spike felt better than he had in a long, long time. It was like an itch he had suffered from for a century and change, now finally able to scratch. Reclining on the large bed beside his beautiful black goddess, a satisfied smile spread across his face.
"You are not tidy, my Spike." Dru admonished him, leaning over to lick a few drops of blood from his cheek. Sire blood, he remembered with a shiver running down his spine. Dru's Sire and, for all intents and purposes, his own.
He remembered that night only too well. How Dru had bitten him in that alley, but had then been unable to finish the transformation. He remembered Darla and Angelus coming into the alley as well, remembered their annoyed glances as they saw what their mad companion had done.
Hovering between life and death he had witnessed Drusilla pleading with Angelus, begging him to finish the becoming of her white knight. How Angelus had finally relented, mostly to get Drusilla off his back, only to then subject his newly made childe to all kinds of hell.
Spike remembered. He remembered every last agonizing second of it as if it had been yesterday. Getting even was so sweet, he thought. So very sweet indeed.
Spike was ripped from his joyous thoughts by a pained chuckle hailing from the floor beside the bed. That sound offended him to no end.
"And what do you have to laugh about?" He asked, leaning over the side of the bed.
Angela was prone on the floor, staring up at him with one eye, the other swollen shut. Her black clothing had been ripped to shreds, leaving only a few tatters that hid nothing. Her pale skin was covered with bruises and cuts, holy water burns, and over a dozen fang marks, some of them still fresh and bleeding. She was bleeding from between her legs as well and the fingers of one hand stood off at odd angles, broken in a dozen places.
She was laughing at him.
"Spike, my boy." She whispered between chuckles. "What a big bad you have become."
Spike felt his blood run hot, anger surging through him. He had beaten Angelus, had reduced him to nothing but a victim. How come the bastard was still laughing at him? Laughing like he had done so often in the past? That disdainful, slightly amused laugh that had always chilled Spike to the bone.
"You are asking for it, aren't you?" Spike grimaced.
"I'm so very proud of you." Angela continued, oblivious to his rage. "Seems I managed to teach you some things after all. And here I thought you were beyond hope."
Spike jumped off the bed and wrenched her up by the hair, snarling in her face.
"Maybe you misunderstand your situation, 'teacher'. You will die before the sun rises tomorrow."
Angela winced with the pain, but her smile didn't waver.
"Didn't take good care of Dru, though, did you?" She chuckled. "Girl seems to be a bit unsatisfied. I could tell from her touching me. I remember it well."
Her hand rose, though shaking badly, and brushed over Spike's chest. "But then again, really satisfying a woman is a trick I never taught you. Didn't pick it up these last 100 years, either."
Spike's vision narrowed down to the bruised but smiling face in front of him, a red haze of fury falling across his thoughts. This face, so unfamiliar, yet now that he knew there was no mistaking it. The same eyes. The same smirk.
He wanted to tear it right off.
"Spike, no!" Drusilla's cold hand fell on his shoulder. "Playing head games, daddy is. Still does it so well."
Spike's hand had closed around Angela's neck, pressing down so hard that he could hear bones beginning to break. He needed every ounce of self-control to not simply tear off her head and be done with it.
Which would have been just what she wanted.
"Oh no, you don't!" Spike smiled, letting her drop from his grip. "You won't go out this easy."
He kicked her hard into the ribs, her moan of pain sending shivers of pleasure down his spine.
"You will die, bastard. Not now, though. Not before your blood restores Drusilla to full strength. And once that has happened we will go out and kill that girl you are so fond of."
He knelt down, wrenching up her head until they were face to face again.
"I think I'll do to her all I did to you tonight. How do you like that?"
Angela gave no answer, just stared at him in an impotent fury that, to Spike, was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
Buffy tried to remember a time in her life when she had been more worried than she was right now. Of course there was the time she had gone to face the Master, knowing that she would die. She had been almost paralyzed with fear then. This, though, was a different kind of fear. A more terrible one by far.
She was afraid she would lose her friend.
Buffy found herself more and more confused about her feelings for the mysterious Vampire. She was a friend, a very good friend, yet completely different from Willow or Xander. With Angela she seemed to connect on a much deeper level than with the others. She couldn't quite put it into words, she only knew that the thought of losing Angela filled her with more dread than she had ever experienced.
She wouldn't allow it to happen.
"Where is she?" Buffy asked the moment they set foot into the sleazy bar.
The barkeeper, Willy, if she remembered right, turned around and looked at the two approaching Slayers with a look of stark fear, quickly replaced by a dazzling smile.
"How good to see you," he beamed, "what can I ...?"
He didn't get the chance to finish his sentence as Buffy grabbed him and unceremoniously pushed him into the nearest wall. She was all out of patience and made no effort to hide it.
"Where is Angela?" Buffy growled at the sleazy barkeeper, clenching her free hand into a fist.
"Angela? But ... but I already told you that ..."
"I remember what you told us." Buffy cut him off. "Now I want the truth. Where is she?"
"I really don't know ..."
"Just hit him." Kendra remarked in a bored tone of voice, once again wondering why they were going to all this effort on behalf of a Vampire. If this weren't about preventing the Vampire Drusilla from regaining her full power she wouldn't even have bothered.
This blonde Slayer was certainly not how her Watcher had told her a Slayer should be.
Buffy shrugged. "I guess hitting him might work."
She raised her fist, causing Willy to pale and struggle in her grip.
"Wait! I ... I think I remember something."
"Remember fast!" Buffy didn't lower her fist.
"I ... well, I didn't lie to you. Not exactly, mind you. I got her out of that cage, I did. Saved her from being fried by the sun. Doesn't that give me some points?"
"Depends on what happened next."
Willy avoided meeting her eyes, sweat breaking out on his brow.
"Oh, well, I ... well ..."
"Spill it!" Buffy moved her fist closer to his face.
"He will kill me." Willy whimpered. "Or worse."
"Spike." Buffy nodded, managing to keep the terror she felt away from her face. Spike had Angela. He was going to sacrifice her to make Drusilla strong again.
"Where did he take her?" Buffy screamed at Willy. "Where are they holding that ritual?"
From what Giles and Kendra had unearthed from the dusty books they knew that the ritual had to take place in a church. Willow was busy looking up all churches in Sunnydale, but there were quite a few of them in town. The redhead was a genius at finding things on the net, but Buffy was not willing to bet Angela's life on Willow being quick enough.
"Look, I really don't know." Willy struggled.
"Hit him!" Kendra said once again, still seeming bored.
"I'm starting to like her attitude." Buffy remarked.
"Wait! Wait, I think I remember. There was this ... yes, it's coming back to me. Spike said something about ... I can't remember the name, but I can lead you there."
Buffy regarded him suspiciously. Didn't remember the name, right. Could only lead her there. This whole thing stank of a trap. Still, leaving Willy here was the more dangerous alternative, as she didn't much doubt he would reach for the phone and call Spike to warn him the minute she left through the door.
"Okay, let's go!" She pulled him away from the wall and sent him stumbling toward the exit.
"Wait!" Kendra stood in Buffy's way. "We have to check back with the Watcher first."
"We don't have time for this!" Buffy brushed her off and started to go past her. Kendra's hand on her shoulder stopped her, though.
"It is the procedure!" The other Slayer said forcefully. "You can't break the rules every time you feel like it."
"Stuff your rules!" Buffy got in her face. "If we don't hurry Angela will die and Drusilla will be back to full power. That is a lot more important than your stupid rules."
"You're letting your personal feelings for this Vampire blind you." Kendra accused. "A Slayer can't allow herself to be distracted by emotions."
"You are doing the emotionless thing well enough for the both of us. If you want to go to Giles to wait for orders, feel free to do so. Now get out of my way or I will remove you!"
For a moment Buffy thought that Kendra might actually go to blows with her over this, but then the other Slayer sighed and stepped aside. Buffy pushed Willy through the door.
"Your emotions will get you killed!" She heard Kendra call after her, but paid no attention.
The church in question turned out to be a small abandoned building at the edge of town. A sign at the entrance warned people not to enter, as the structure was no longer safe and would soon undergo reconstruction.
The lights were on inside.
Willy led her through a side entrance into a lit corridor, constantly turning to look back at her. She couldn't quite figure out whether he was looking to see if she was finally gone or to make sure she was still following him.
"See?" He said, almost stuttering. "I told you I could lead you here. Don't ever say your good friend Willy lets you down!"
Buffy was about to reply something when they rounded a corner and suddenly found themselves face to face with three Vampires.
"Slayer!" They hissed at her.
Buffy started to take a step back, only to realize someone was behind her as well. One of them was the assassin from school, still dressed up as a police woman. The other looked like a nerdy salesman, not at all dangerous, except for the glint in his spectacled eyes. She remembered Cordelia and Xander telling her about the worm guy who had attacked them at her home.
She was in trouble.
"See?" Willy addressed the Vampires and assassins. "I told you I would bring her to you. Don't ever say your good friend Willy lets you down!"
A Vampire held her on each side, dead hands like steel vises around her arms. The Taraka assassins were behind her, no doubt ready to kill her the moment she tried something. Willy was walking in front, leading the way deeper into the church. Buffy knew she was in a lot of trouble.
All thoughts for her own safety fled, though, the moment they entered the main chamber of the church.
"Angela!" She cried out, unable to keep silent.
Her friend was tied together with Drusilla, both of them kept upright by a rope trailing down from the ceiling. Their hands were tied together above their heads. A huge knife had been thrust clear through both their palms and a pale light was glowing, even as she saw blood trail down from the wounds.
Angela looked like she had been run over at least three times. Her clothing was all but gone, only tatters remained. Her pale skin was littered with bruises, cuts, and bite marks. Buffy couldn't see her face, it was hidden by dirty strands of her dark hair, but she did see the large, still-bleeding bite mark at her throat. And the blood trailing down from somewhere high up her thigh.
"What is she doing here?" Spike thundered as he saw the newcomers. Buffy's gaze went toward him and the bleached Vampire actually paused for a moment when he met the Slayer's eyes. If looks could kill he would have been six feet under right then and there.
"You'll die for this!" Buffy yelled at him, struggling in the grip of her captors.
"You wanted her, you said." Willy moved toward Spike. "Here she is."
"I wanted her dead, you idiot!" Spike slapped the sleazy barkeeper. "Dead. As in dead! Gone! You get the message?"
"You ... you didn't specify it quite like that."
Spike took a deep breath, mumbling something about being surrounded by idiots, then turned toward the Slayer with a big smile on his demon face.
"Well, since you happen to be here, why don't I show you around?"
He motioned for her Vampire captors to bring her forward, closer to the bound pair of Angela and Dru. Buffy had to bite back the tears that threatened to spill over with every new mark and wound she saw on Angela's abused body. Now she could see that her friend's eyes were closed and she could but hope that Angela was too far gone to feel pain right now.
Spike had done this to her. She would kill him for this.
"The ritual has already begun," Spike said casually, "just in case you wondered. I think it will take, oh, maybe another twenty minutes or so. Then Dru will be all restored and your little friend here will be dead. Permanently, this time."
Spike saw the hatred and deep concern in the Slayer's eyes, the almost physical pain she experienced upon seeing Angelus like that. It made him feel great to see her hurting this way, yet at the same time it made him wonder. The bastard's concern for the Slayer was probably the result of the Gypsy course that had fucked him up so beautifully, but how come the Slayer was so fond of the big poof?
A funny thought occurred to him. The Slayer obviously knew that her friend was a Vampire, but was it possible that she didn't really know much more than that? Did she know just who was imprisoned inside this female flesh? Did she know who she was feeling so strongly for?
Spike decided to put this to a little test. Just some entertainment to bridge the time until his dark goddess rose.
"How much fun we had." Spike sighed, regarding Angela's abused form. "It really brought up a lot of old memories for me, you know? The good, old days."
Buffy glared at him. "I know all about you, Spike. What was this? Your sick attempt at getting back at her for what she did to you? I bet she didn't have to tie you down for it."
Spike growled, but the explosion of temper Buffy had hoped for did not come.
"As a matter of fact I didn't tie her down." He mused. "Not the entire time, that is. I think I untied her the moment she started to beg me. Though I'm not quite sure whether she wanted me to stop or to go on."
Buffy wanted to rip him apart right then and there, but the odds were still too much against her. For the first time she was sorry that Kendra hadn't come along. Together the two of them could have torn up this ceremony but good.
Once again her eyes returned to Angela and burning rage seethed through her veins.
"He was quite the sadist, you know?" Spike asked her. "Never could get enough of seeing others suffer."
He? Who was Spike talking about now?
"But that is all in the past now." He continued. "Your friend here will soon be beyond pain. A pity, really. I could have shown her a good time if I had a few decades to spare."
"Yeah, I guess you would need that much time to figure out how to give someone a good time." Buffy shot back, confusion giving way to rage again. "I bet torturing Angela made Dru come a lot more often than you did the last fifty years."
Angela hadn't told Buffy much about the relationship between her, Drusilla, and Spike, but from what little Buffy had learned Spike had always sounded like the third wheel. Someone Dru took as a lover because Angela had grown tired of her. No matter how much the thought of Angela and Drusilla doing ... whatever ... disturbed her, she was sure that Spike didn't much care for having it mentioned, either.
The bleached Vampire growled again, louder. "You shouldn't talk about things you know nothing about, little virgin." He grinned. "Though maybe I'll remedy that situation before I'll kill you. I sort of promised the big poof here that everything I did to her I would also do to you. I hate to go back on my word."
"Just try it, you bastard!" Buffy strained against the arms holding her back. "If you're so manly, why don't you show me? Or did you need another five guys to hold down Angela as well?"
She could see Spike's temper flaring. If only he would lose his cool, then she'd have a chance. She didn't dare turn her eyes away from him to look at Angela, to check if she was even still alive. How could you tell if a Vampire was still alive? Or as alive as a Vampire ever was? She didn't know. She just didn't know.
Spike looked ready to explode, but he wasn't the one to suddenly burst into dust. Everyone stopped to look at the expanding dust cloud where a Vampire had just stood, only to see a dark-skinned girl standing there instead.
"Let her go!" Kendra warned, a stake in hand.
Buffy didn't wait for the confusion to pass and utilized her captor's momentary lapse of attention. One of them died, impaled by the reserve stake Buffy carried in her boot.
The two Slayers stood shoulder to shoulder, glaring at Spike.
"Now let's take this from the top again!" Buffy growled at the Vampire.
"Oh, by all means." He growled back. "Let's!"
The sound of battle slowly drew Angela back to consciousness. It was not a place she wanted to go, as it was full of pain and humiliation. If she just stayed in the dark place the pain wouldn't reach her. She was safe here. Safe from the pain. Safe from the memories.
Fangs sinking into flesh. Endless nights through the centuries filled with blood and the screams of the innocent. No, she didn't want to have these memories anymore. Didn't want all this pain. She knew if she just let herself go then death would finally come and claim her, as it should have done over two centuries ago.
Only she couldn't. Something held her back from taking the Reaper's offered hand.
"Oh no, you don't!" Someone yelled right beside her.
It took more strength than she thought she'd have left, but Angela managed to open her eyes. Awareness returned, and with it the pain. Every fiber of her body was screaming in agony, dead flesh abused beyond even demonic endurance.
She opened her eyes and saw that a battle was going on all around her.
"That's for sending assassins after me!" Buffy yelled, throwing a roundhouse kick into Spike's demon face. "And that's for that Halloween stunt you pulled!"
Kendra was there with her, Angela saw, fighting with a woman in a police uniform. One of the Taraka assassins? Other people were there as well. She saw Giles and Willow, armed with crossbow and holy water, trying to finish off a Vampire in the other corner of the church. She saw Cordelia and Xander, fleeing from a mass of worms crawling after them.
The mixture of fright and disgust on Cordelia's face was a very funny thing to see, Angela thought.
Almost as a side note she noticed that she was tied together with Drusilla. The other Vampire's cheeks seemed less pale than she remembered from just a few hours ago. There was something very close to a sparkle playing across her skin and her sensuous mouth was spread in a warm smile.
A part of her remembered how much that smile had fascinated her ... him. How he had done everything to wipe it from that face forever.
Angela managed to look up and saw the knife that had been rammed through both their hands. She could feel her life's blood run through that wound, out of her body and into Drusilla's. This had to be the ritual, Angela thought with an almost amused detachment. No doubt it was killing her right now, even as it restored Drusilla's strength.
She knew she had to get out of here. But how? How?
"I'm going to make you eat those words!" Spike snarled, driving Buffy back with a flurry of kicks and punches. "That will be Spike three, Slayers zero!"
"In your dreams!" Buffy countered his blow and landed one of her own. Just a few steps away Kendra tore into the female assassin, throwing punch after punch, kick after kick. Strange, Angela thought, Kendra hadn't struck her as the emotional type. Maybe it had something to do with her shirt getting slashed open.
The blood loss was making her dizzy, Angela realized. She suppressed the urge to giggle like a madwoman. If only it didn't hurt so much.
A loud crash brought her attention back to the fight, just in time to see Spike collide with a wall. One of the torches the Vampires had put up fell down and set the wall hanging ablaze. Spike got back to his feet, quickly batting out his burning coat sleeve.
The flames were spreading quickly and Angela watched with morbid fascination as they made their way toward her. Maybe that was her way out of this nightmare that was her life. Maybe she could touch it like she had almost touched the sunlight.
If only she had reached out to the sunlight, then all this pain wouldn't have happened.
"Oh no!" Spike yelled, swatting Buffy aside. He came running toward them and Angela would have flinched back, had she been able to. What Spike had done to her ... no, stay away! She didn't want him anywhere near her.
Spike quickly cut Drusilla loose, letting Angela drop to the floor without so much as a second thought.
"Just hope it was enough, baby!" He whispered to her. "We have to get out of here!"
The fire had already cut the church in half, filling it with smoke. Angela's eyes were heavy, threatening to fall shut. As if through a haze she saw Buffy throw something at Spike's retreating figure, causing the Vampire and the limp form he carried to fall and crash into the church's organ.
Moments later it came tumbling down on them, even as Angela drowned in darkness.
"That's for messing with my friends, you pig!" Buffy yelled at the rubble, then quickly made her way through the burning church toward the altar. Angela had crumbled into a bloody heap, not moving. Seeing her like this tore out Buffy's heart all over again.
"Angela!" She yelled, kneeling down beside the prone Vampire. Wiping away strands of hair sticky with blood she cradled Angela's face in her hands and tried to get any kind of reaction.
"Can you hear me?" She yelled, tears bursting from her eyes. "Don't you dare die on me, you hear? I won't let you!"
The crash of a burning support beam tumbling down from the church's ceiling brought Buffy back to reality. She had to get Angela out of here and fast, otherwise it wouldn't matter if she was still alive or not. She pulled the larger woman to her feet, awkwardly trying to lift her without adding any more pain.
Another pair of arms suddenly went around the dark-haired Vampire and Buffy looked up to see Kendra at her side.
"Let's get her out of here!" The other Slayer said.
Buffy gave her a thankful smile and together the two of them carried Angela's limp form out of the burning building. It seemed to take an eternity until they reached the street, but when they finally did the cool night air welcomed them like a long-lost friend.
Slowly the two Slayers lowered the Vampire to the ground, Buffy drawing Angela's head into her lap. Willow was by her side a second later, her eyes wide upon seeing the sorry state their friend was in.
"Is she ...?" Willow asked, unable to reach out and touch Angela, afraid of somehow making things worse no matter what she did.
"Giles?" Buffy looked up at her Watcher, pleading with him to tell her something positive. Giles took off his tweed jacket and quickly spread it over Angela's exposed body.
"She isn't dust, Buffy." He told his Slayer. "It will take time, but she will survive. I'm sure."
As if on cue Angela's eyes fluttered open, the chocolate orbs looking up to see Buffy's face above her.
"Buffy?" She asked, as if unable to believe what she saw.
"I'm here!" Buffy said, brushing her hand softly across Angela's bruised cheeks. "I'm here and you're safe. I promise you."
Tears trailed down Buffy's cheeks as Angela's eyes closed again.
"Is she going to be all right?" Kendra asked Buffy.
"I hope so," the blonde Slayer said somberly, "though I guess it's too early to say. I mean, the wounds and stuff, they will heal. As far as the rest goes, though, ..."
Kendra nodded, understanding. Human woman or Vampire, in this case it didn't really make much of a difference. What Angela had gone through was enough to shatter many a person. To her own astonishment Kendra found herself saying a prayer for the dark-haired Vampire to get well again.
"Thanks again for your help." Buffy said as they walked toward the waiting cab. "I'm not sure I could have done this without you."
"You couldn't have." Kendra said simply. For a moment Buffy's eyes widened and the blonde was on the verge of an outburst, when Kendra's lips spread in a smile. "Or maybe."
"You almost had me there." Buffy complained, playfully smacking Kendra's shoulder. "Go on, get out of here! And remember what I told you about traveling!"
"No hiding among the freight." Kendra repeated dutifully. "I will buy a ticket and take a seat just like a normal passenger."
"Good. I hope you won't get into trouble with your Watcher over this."
"Oh, I'll think I'll leave out the parts about helping you save a Vampire. Then everything will be fine."
Buffy gave her a grin. "Bending the sacred rules, are we?"
"Maybe a little." Kendra shrugged. "But I guess it isn't always about the rules."
Buffy smiled and stepped forward with her arms spread out, but Kendra stepped back.
"I don't hug!" The other Slayer simply said.
Kendra got into the car and lowered the window to look at Buffy again.
"Good luck to you and your Vampire friend. I hope she gets well again."
"I will take care of her. At least as much as this job allows me to." She sighed.
"You are again referring to it as a job." Kendra admonished her. "It's not. It's who you are."
"Did your books teach you that?" Buffy asked sarcastically.
"No. You did."
They shared another smile, each of them secretly glad of not being alone anymore, and then Kendra was gone. Buffy looked after her for a moment, then walked back to the school.
"Ah, Buffy!" Giles greeted her when she entered the library. "Good. According to my information it seems that the Order of Taraka will not send anymore assassins here. With Spike dead there is no more bounty to be had."
"And good riddance to those swell guys." Xander remarked. "I'm just glad to got to stomp on worm guy."
"Don't remind me!" Cordelia said, making a face.
Buffy was just glad that the assassins were gone. No longer on anyone's hit list, or at least not on a professional one. She could handle the Vampires and run-of-the-mill critters the Hellmouth threw at her daily.
Speaking of Vampires ...
"Any progress?" She asked Giles.
The Watcher grew somber quickly.
"Not much, I fear. None of my books holds much information about ways to restore a Vampire back to health. Well, except the book of DuLac, of course, but with Angela having staked her own Sire ..."
"I get the picture." Buffy said, not really wanting to remember that night. "So I guess we can do nothing but feed her blood and hope for the best."
She tried to sound casual about it, but was fooling no one.
"Jenny is with Angela right now." Giles said. "She will keep watch until you go by after school."
Buffy nodded. She had convinced the gang to take turns watching over the ailing Vampire. She was taking no more risks until Angela was back to full strength, no matter how long that might take.
Her mother thought she was doing sleep-overs at Willow's while Buffy was spending the nights watching her friend.
"I think I'll get back to class now." She said, looking for a way to distract herself. Then she remembered something else. "Giles, when Spike had me prisoner, he was talking about the ... the things he had done to Angela ... you know. He ... he also said something about 'Him' having been quite the sadist."
"Him? Who did he mean?" Giles asked.
"I was hoping you could tell me. It came completely out of the blue and he didn't mention any names, but considering the topic he was talking about at that time ..."
"You think maybe Spike had help in ... harming Angela the way he did? Someone who is still around?"
"Maybe. Could you look it up?"
The Watcher nodded thoughtfully. "I will look some more into Angela's tangled family history, maybe turn up someone who has a history with them. Though I had hoped that, with most of that Vampire family now dead, I could file these books away for good. Some of the stories are ... quite disturbing."
Buffy nodded. Angela had hinted at a lot of things she had done while being without a soul and it was enough so that Buffy didn't want any details. But if someone else from her or Spike's past had helped the late bleached wonder in torturing her than Buffy wanted that mysterious 'he' and she wanted him bad.
"I will let you know if I find something." Giles said. "You should get to class now."
Buffy nodded and left, while Giles looked through his books. He remembered something from when he had read up on this very tangled Vampire bloodline the first time. The Master, Luke, Darla, Spike, Drusilla, all of them were now dead. There had been another, though, he remembered, someone the books had described as quite sadistic and cruel. Giles leafed through the pages, looking for the reference he half remembered.
Angelus, yes. That had been the name. Giles began to read.
Jenny Calendar looked around the dark apartment she was in. Most of the damage from Buffy fighting Kendra had been removed by a combined effort of Buffy and her friends, though some of the priceless artwork was irrevocably lost.
Glancing over at the bed in the corner, Jenny thought that the owner of said artwork probably didn't much care right now.
Seeing as they could not exactly take Angela to a doctor they had been forced to do the examining and treating themselves. Jenny was horrified at the extent of the injuries, no human being could possibly have survived even a fraction of that.
But Angela was not a human being, was she?
Jenny shook her head. What was she doing here? It was not her job to help Vampires, especially this Vampire. She was here to watch her. To make sure that Angelus' suffering continued. She felt that she should rejoice seeing this, the once terrible and frightening monster that had haunted the bedtime stories of her childhood reduced to this.
Yet how could she take joy in this kind of suffering? How could she be happy about seeing a thinking, feeling being hurting like this? Whatever the demon inside this woman had done to her tribe, did it really justify this?
"I ... I know you." The words were a whisper, so soft that Jenny almost didn't hear them. She saw that Angela's eyes had opened and were looking at her. Grabbing a cup of blood she made her way over to the bed, hoping that the Vampire would drink it this time.
"Of course you know me." Jenny said, sitting down. "We've met several times now."
"No, I know ... know the real you." The barest shimmer of a smile played across Angela's lips. "Do you like what you see, Gypsy?"
Jenny recoiled from the bed, dropping the cup of blood.
"You ... you know?" She asked.
"One of your clan has been following me ever since that night in Romania." Angela said, closing her eyes again. "It was not hard to figure out that you were my current tail."
"Then why ... why didn't you ever say anything? To Buffy? To Giles?"
"I could have." She said, eyes still closed. "But to what avail? Giles loves you. Willow looks up to you as a role model. Why ruin all that for no reason whatsoever?"
Jenny didn't know what to say.
"I heard Darla almost exterminated your tribe after you cursed me." Angela continued. "There is but a handful of you left now and you spend all your lives making sure that my suffering continues."
Her eyes opened again, capturing Jenny's own.
"I hope you find it all worth it, Gypsy. I really hope you do."
Jenny opened her mouth to say something, not really sure what, but was saved from an answer by Buffy's noisy arrival. The blonde Slayer strolled into the apartment, immediately noticing the broken cup of blood on the floor.
"What happened?" She asked, worry clouding her face. "Is Angela all right?"
"Don't worry." The Vampire said softy, Buffy immediately hurrying to her side. "Just ... just being a difficult patient, I guess."
"I'll ... I'll get a new cup." Jenny said, wringing her hands. Buffy barely heard her, only looking at Angela.
On her short way to the kitchen Jenny realized a few things in her mind. Buffy might not be aware of it, but Angela loved the blonde girl. And the Slayer held very strong feelings in return, though she seemed confused about them for the most part.
It should have been repulsing, especially since Jenny knew who and what Angela really was. And yet ... the only thing she could think of right now were Angela's words from earlier.
"I hope you find it all worth it, Gypsy." The words echoed inside her head. "I really hope you do."
Jenny gave the cup of blood to Buffy and then fled from the dark apartment, feeling the need to do something, anything, that was not connected with revenge and darkness.
In the blackened ruins of a church Drusilla rose from the ashes, radiating with strength. Quickly digging an unconscious and injured Spike out of the rubble, she easily lifted his larger form into her arms and smiled down at him.
"Do not worry, my heart." She cooed. "Soon you will be well again. Just like me."
Thinking wicked thoughts about Spike, her beautiful daddy, and the bad Slayer Drusilla made her way out of the church.
"I have a surprise for you." She sang happily.
TO BE CONTINUED IN "SURPRISE TIMES TWO"