"Aaaaangel!" The voice echoed through the alleys.
Drusilla, the mad Vampire, danced through the darkness, looking for her prey. It had to be here somewhere, she could feel the presence of the one who had given her this existence. The one whom she missed so much, whom she had almost thought lost forever.
Until Toth's gift.
"Where are you, my Angel?" She sang, looking into every shadow and creak, knowing that she was very close now.
Turning a corner, her face broke into a smile. A dark figure huddled on the wet pavement, the black coat glistening in the slowly ebbing rain. The clothing was ripped in quite a few places, as if the figure inside it had grown out of it from one minute to the next.
"My Angel!" Drusilla crooned, kneeling down next to the prone figure.
Chocolate brown eyes slowly opened.
"Drusilla?" The voice was deep, growling. Masculine.
"I am here. You have come back to me, just like the moon promised."
Angelus slowly rose to his feet, his clothing in tatters. Every seam had split, the buttons of his shirt nowhere to be found. The Vampire looked down his body, his eyes widening as he saw the spectacle of a flat chest, glistening from the rain. Trailing his hands down his flesh, relishing the feel, he reached the juncture of his legs and sighed in contentment as he found everything in its proper place.
"I'm back!" He growled. His face slipped into its demonic features as he looked up at Drusilla. "You brought me back, baby!"
Without further warning he grabbed her, drawing her against him until the hardness in what remained of his pants pressed against her groin. Drusilla melted into the cold, hard line of his body with a content purr, her hands exploring his wonderful flesh.
"Daddy's home!" She sang happily, her hand reaching down to cup his hardness. "And he's really daddy again."
"You bet, baby!" He purred into her ear, trailing kisses down her neck. "And as soon as we get home I'm gonna show it to you. Over and over again."
A sound made the two Vampires look up. Several shadows were coming closer down the alley, the sound of chattering voices filled the night.
"Told you we should've taken the other turn." One of the voices said. "The Bronze isn't that way."
"Sure is!" Another voice. "It has to be just around here."
Angelus grinned from ear to ear as he leaned down to kiss Drusilla once more. The world had to love him, he resolved, seeing as it delivered just what he needed right on time.
"Want to celebrate, Dru?" He asked her.
"You are hungry, daddy?" She asked him, grinning.
The three youths that walked down the alley never knew what hit them. They were new in town and no one had told them that going out after dark wasn't a good idea in Sunnydale. That wasn't a strange occurrence, of course, as Sunnydale's residents happily ignored everything that was strange about their town. Most of them just knew to stay home after dark, a survival instinct of which they were no more aware of than the habit of breathing.
These kids didn't have it.
And Angelus didn't have the patience for games, not tonight. After a hundred years he was free. Free of the female flesh, free of his conscience and soul. That awful place inside him, the one where the screams of his victims had tormented him for over a century, was blessedly empty now, nothing but soothing darkness inside him. He found himself shaking with a raw need that he had denied himself for so long.
When his fangs sank into living flesh again, when he felt the glorious ecstasy of blood pouring down his throat, Angelus knew he was really back and proclaimed it loudly for everyone to hear.
"I'M BACK!" His voice echoed down the alleys.
Drusilla watched him, the body of the youth she had taken for herself already cooling in her lethal embrace. Angelus had killed the other two kids within seconds, taking their lives with a hunger and desperation she had never seen in him. Drusilla liked it. She liked it very much.
"Oh, there is so much to do!" Angelus strolled toward her, bursting with energy. "So many things to catch up on. So many people I will have to introduce to my new self. Or should I say, my old self?"
Leaning into Dru, he caressed her face with the back of his hand, causing her to purr like a well-fed cat.
"You know your boy Spike has been bad, don't you?" Angelus whispered.
"My Spike looked out for me." She told him. "Took care of me for you."
"Yes, he did. But he has also done a few things he shouldn't have done, Dru. A few things that have made it clear the boy has lost the proper respect for his Sire."
They shared a bruising kiss, tasting the blood of their victims on each other's lips. Neither of them needed to breathe and they ravished each other for minutes before Angelus let go again.
"I can't really blame him." Angelus said thoughtfully. "I mean, the state I was in thanks to those Gypsies ... I think I might have done the same. Still, I think our Will enjoyed himself a little too much during all that."
"You gonna punish him?" Dru asked innocently, but with a gleam in her dark eyes.
Putting an arm around her shoulder, Angelus led her down the alley. "First thing first, my dear. Let's find some fitting clothes for daddy, shall we? Then you'll have to tell me how you accomplished this little miracle of yours."
Licking the last trace of blood from his lips, Angelus smiled. "And then Spike and I will chat about old times."
The two Vampires walked away, neither of them having noticed the presence of another body in the alley. One that slowly began to stir.
The downpour had stopped only shortly after Angela left, leaving a clear night sky.
Giles and the others had stayed up, waiting for Buffy and Angela to call. Relief had been evident in the Watcher's voice when he learned that his charge was safe and sound, yet it quickly vanished again after she told him of the night's events (minus a few of the words Angela had said to Buffy when she had pinned her to the bed).
Giles had gone into full research mode, while the others were on their way over to help Buffy look for Angela. She was not quite sure that it was a good idea to have the others here, seeing as Angela seemed nowhere near her right state of mind, yet finding her had to take priority.
Buffy didn't wait for the others to arrive. The phone had barely clicked dead after her talk to Giles when she went out into the night again, saying a quick thank you that the rain had stopped. She had to find Angela. She had to make sense of everything that had happened tonight. Including her own feelings.
Angela had said that she needed her. Had needed her ever since ... was that true? Or was it just something induced by that strange magic Drusilla had conjured up? Was her friend really in love with her? Just a few hours ago Buffy had asked her exactly that and never gotten an answer. Or maybe she had.
She shook her head. Feeling Angela like that, straddling her, her tongue and teeth on her neck, had scared her more than anything since she had faced the Master, yet at the same time ... she couldn't describe the other feelings she'd had that moment. It was as if a part of her had actually wanted ... no, she couldn't go there. Not right now. Angela's safety had to come first, everything else could wait.
Buffy was so distracted by her own churning thoughts that she almost missed the spectacle presenting itself to her in the alley ahead. Almost.
Three dead bodies, pale, bite marks on their skin. Buffy checked the surroundings, but there was no trace of that tingle in her belly that always announced the presence of Vampires. Kneeling down, she found the bodies still retained a bit of their warmth, yet were cooling rapidly. It hadn't been long, maybe just ten minutes or so, but apparently the Vampire or Vampires who had done this were long gone.
A Vampire, a thought intruded unbidden, that could very well have been ... no, she wouldn't believe that. Angela might have been confused, maybe even out of her mind, but she refused to think that ...
Someone groaned, causing Buffy to jump to her feet.
"Hello?" She called out, looking for the source of the sound. There, in the side alley to her right. Someone or something was moving in there. Carefully checking for the stake she always carried with her, Buffy made her way toward the figure that was half-hidden behind a lot of junk.
"B-Buffy?" The voice made her throw all caution to the wind. Buffy was by the prone figure's side instantly, turning her over to see Angela's face. It was smeared with dirt, her hair clinging to it in filthy strands, but the eyes that looked up at her were clear and human, holding none of the madness Buffy had seen there less than an hour ago. It was enough to dispel what remained of her earlier fear, at least for the moment.
"Angela, thank God!" Buffy breathed a huge sigh of relief. Angela was all right. She reached out to clasp the Vampire's hand, only to frown. Something felt odd about Angela's skin. Almost as if ... nah!
"Buffy, I ... what happened? I don't ..." Angela tried to struggle to her feet, Buffy instantly there to help her. Her black clothing was drenched and dirty, but none of that mattered to either of them right now.
"You ... you behaved ... really strangely." Buffy said, trying to explain. "I think it must have something to do with Drusilla's magic. Then you bolted out of your apartment and disappeared."
Angela shook her head. "I ... everything's so muddled, I ... this ... this pounding. God!" She leaned against the wall, clutching her head.
"We should get you back inside and cleaned up." Buffy said, carefully draping Angela's arm over her shoulder. "Besides, the sun will rise soon."
Reaching the safety of Angela's apartment just before sunrise, Buffy had a strong sense of déjà vu, carrying Angela over to her bed and setting her down. Yet something was different from that almost identical sense earlier that night. Though Angela was still confused, she seemed a lot clearer now.
"Something happened to me." Angela resolved, looking down at her hands. "I ... I could feel magic inside me, something changing and ..."
Her head snapped toward the thick curtains. A thin sliver of sunlight fell in through the side, a slice of morning intruding into the bedroom. It fell far away from the bed, banned into a corner where a sleeping Vampire would never run the risk of being exposed to it, yet Angela stared at it like a deer caught in the headlights of a speeding car.
"What is it?" Buffy asked, concerned.
"I ... I should feel it."
"The sunrise. I should have felt the sun go up. Vampires can always smell the sun long before it comes. I should have felt it the moment it came up."
Buffy sat down on the bed next to her, still a bit weary from Angela's earlier behavior, but seeing the avid confusion on her friend's face.
"You went through a lot tonight. Maybe you're just ..."
Without warning Angela snatched Buffy's hand. For a moment Buffy almost pulled away, fear lancing through her, but Angela just held her hand, clutching it hard in her own.
"Do you feel that?" Angela whispered. "This ... this pounding. Can you hear it?"
Buffy didn't feel anything except the touch of Angela's hand, something about which was feeling very strange. Like earlier, when she had helped the Vampire up, it felt ...
Vampire. Angela was a Vampire. And they were supposed to be cold. Room temperature at best. Yet Angela's hand didn't feel cold. It felt ... warm.
"This ... this can't be!" Buffy looked up to see that Angela's other hand was on her neck, fingers feeling for the spot where, in a living human, the pulse would be found. Buffy could feel her own pulse racing as she watched Angela's fingers glide over her skin and freeze.
Having one of Angela's hands in her own, Buffy slid her own fingers over the wrist.
And found something moving under the skin.
"You ... you are ..." Buffy couldn't finish.
Angela's eyes snapped back to the sliver of sunlight that penetrated past the thick curtains. It couldn't be. It wasn't possible. Was it?
Without wasting another thought Angela jumped to her feet and drew back the curtains.
"Angela, no!" Buffy screamed, on her feet in an instant to draw her friend back from the lethal sunlight. Any moment now Angela would begin to burn, flames devouring her flesh. The sunlight would kill her.
Any moment now.
Angela stood at the window, the light of the sun shining down on her, and she didn't burn. Her mouth hanging open, Buffy stared at her friend, framed by the light. This couldn't be. She was a Vampire. Vampires burned in the sun. Vampires didn't have a pulse. Vampire's weren't warm.
None of this was possible.
"I'm alive!" Angela whispered, looking through her window at the sun and the blue sky, a tear running down her cheek.
To say that Jenny was worried was putting things very mildly. Her uncle's visit had not quieted the doubts she felt. If anything it had strengthened them. Angela wasn't Angelus, yet she suffered for his crimes. Suffered like no feeling creature should ever have to suffer and generations of Jenny's family had wasted their lives to make sure that her suffering continued.
If that wasn't enough, Buffy had phoned them saying that Angela had been hit by some kind of magical spell and behaved very strangely afterwards. She hadn't gone into details, which disturbed Jenny even more. Her uncle had said that the elder woman of their tribe had read the signs, that something was happening.
Jenny was afraid. Afraid that her secret would be unveiled. Afraid that something terrible had happened because she had been lax in her duties. Afraid that something terrible had happened because of her doing her duties.
Buffy's friends were assembled in the library. They had all been set to go help Buffy find Angela when the Slayer had called again, saying that she had found her friend and that they would be coming to the library soon. So they waited, none of them in the mood for talking. Xander was pacing, Giles was leafing through a book without reading anything. Cordelia was filing her nails as Willow nervously played with strands of her long hair.
To each their own attempt at nervous distraction.
Jenny hadn't really asked herself how Buffy was supposed to bring Angela here with the sun already up in the sky. Not until she saw the two of them walk in through the library doors.
"Buffy!" Giles was on his feet first. "Thank God you're all right."
"Just peachy." Buffy said, her voice strange in a way Jenny couldn't quite figure. She sounded confused, almost as if she couldn't decide between being insanely happy or deathly afraid.
"Angela?" Jenny was the first to acknowledge the Vampire, who seemed even more withdrawn than usual. She was looking right past them all and suddenly her eyes widened. Was there something behind them? Jenny turned around but saw nothing but the glass window to Giles' office, where Angela's reflection was staring back at her.
Wait a minute! Angela's reflection? How could she ...
"What is ...?" Giles began, falling silent when he, too, saw the impossible.
Angela walked past them slowly, her eyes transfixed on her own mirror image. It wasn't just the fact of seeing herself for the first time in over 250 years, Jenny realized. It was seeing herself for the first time. Period.
"I ... I never ..." Angela began, slowly reaching out with her hand and looking on in wonder as her image did the exact same thing.
"How come she has a reflection?" Cordelia asked. "Giles said Vampires don't have a reflection. You screwed up, Giles?"
Buffy's Watcher didn't pay any attention to Cordelia's confused ramble. He couldn't be seeing what he was seeing. Angela was a Vampire. Vampire's didn't have a reflection. He knew that. He had even once been scared nearly to death when Angela had appeared behind him, the glass door he had been standing in front of then having given him no warning of her presence.
And yet here it was.
"Something happened, guys." Buffy said.
"You don't say." Willow muttered.
"It's day outside." Xander suddenly realized. "How did you come in here without ...?"
"She's alive." Buffy told everyone. "When I found her about an hour ago she was alive. Pulse, breathing, non-combustion in sunlight, reflection, everything. She's human."
Jenny stopped closer until she could almost feel the warmth trailing off Angela's skin. The other woman was oblivious to her. Angela had never been able to see herself after the curse. Had never been able to find out what she looked like after being turned into a woman. Now, a century later, she saw what she had become for the first time.
"Is this me?" Jenny heard her whisper, so softly that she doubted anyone else heard her.
"She ... she's human?" Giles asked, still not able to believe it.
"Through and through." Buffy said. "Giles, Drusilla hit her with some kind of whammy and a few hours later she becomes human. Call me paranoid, but I kinda doubt that little Ms. Mad Vampire intended for that to happen."
Giles nodded, his mouth still hanging open. "Yes, I ... I doubt that Drusilla would want her Sire to be human. There must be something ... whatever spell she did must have gone wrong somehow."
Buffy began telling her Watcher all the details of last night's events, her worried eyes never straying far from the subject of her story. Jenny only caught the high points, too absorbed by the sight in front of her.
Angela was human. The Vampire she had been, the monster that had slaughtered her ancestors, was gone. Did that mean ... did that mean she was free?
She shook her head. They had to find out what had happened first. Something very strange, that much was for sure. Angela wasn't really a woman. She was a male Vampire who had been turned female through a curse. Jenny didn't know all the details of the curse, but she was pretty sure of one thing.
If the curse had been lifted, a possibility seeing as the creature it had been made for was effectively gone, Angela should have reverted to her male form.
"Angela?" She tried again
Slowly the former Vampire's head turned to look at Jenny, the dark eyes filled with complete confusion.
"How is this possible?" She asked, her voice shaking with the need to know.
"Can you describe this magical wand Drusilla used?" Giles voice cut across the library, reminding Jenny that they were not alone. Buffy gaze still rested on Angela.
"Long, metallic. Shoots fancy lightning."
"Anything more specific than that?"
Angela shook her head, trying to clear her mind.
"Give me that sketchpad!" She told Giles. "I'll try and draw it."
Jenny shuddered for a second, remembering the tales of how Angelus left beautiful paintings of his victims behind. Many a scholar had wondered how a demon as cruel and sadistic as him could have created such beautiful pieces of art. Angelus was gone, Jenny reminded himself. Gone for good, it seemed.
They all watched as Angela drew the wand Drusilla had wielded, creating the picture with smooth, confident lines. She seemed almost unaware of her hand's movements, her eyes turned inward, looking at a memory.
"You never told me you could draw like that." Buffy said, marveling at the perfect replica of Drusilla's wand her friend had created in a matter of seconds.
Giles took the drawing from Angela's hands, looking at with a furrowed brow.
"I think I've seen this before somewhere." He mumbled to himself. "Where was that?"
He began to absently browse through a few books, which didn't do much for his very impatient Slayer.
"We should go back and ask Drusilla herself." Buffy resolved. "We know where she's holing up."
"Is that a good idea?" Willow asked with a small voice. "I mean, you said something about twenty Vampires being there. Aren't those ... well, many?"
"It's daylight, so we have the advantage. If we're careful ..."
A loud rumbling cut her off and everyone looked at Angela, who was holding her stomach.
"I ... I guess I'm hungry." She said, marveling at the feeling.
Spike was not a happy camper.
Drusilla's parties had the reputation of being anything but boring, yet last night's happenings had left him with a sour taste in his mouth. Plus lots of his blood on the floor and a severe case of hurting where the bitch had sliced him open.
Lying on the bed, his useless legs stretched out in front of him, he wondered why they hadn't left this stupid town yet. Drusilla was restored to full strength, if not full marbles, and his healing needed just blood, lots of it, which they could get just about anywhere in the world. Most of which didn't have a Slayer in it.
Dru didn't want to leave, though. Ever since she had dug him out of the ruined church she was different. Spike had become used to her being dependent on him, he realized. Now it was the other way around and he didn't like it. She was planning something, but wouldn't tell him what. That little trick with the magic wand had surprised him every bit as much as the Slayer and little Ms. Angelus.
Angelus! Or Angela, as the big poof called himself now. The fact that he was a woman now was a source of unending amusement for Spike, especially remembering that wonderful night when he'd had the opportunity to get some payback in.
Feeling her dig her claws into his chest while he was helpless was not amusing, though.
Dru had left after that little fiasco, disappearing into the night without another word. Spike had wanted to move out of the factory as soon as possible. The Slayer knew where they lived now and would no doubt mount a daylight attack soon. It was what Spike would have done. They had to get out of here, but for that Dru had to get back first.
It was already past sunrise.
The sound of the opening door drew Spike's attention and he sighed in relief when he saw Drusilla walk in, a serene smile on her face.
"Pet, finally you're back." He rose as much as he was able to, looking at her. "I was worried."
"Don't be worried, my heart." She sang. "Everything will be all right now."
"What do you ...?"
His voice trailed off as another figure entered through the door behind Drusilla. A tall man clad in black leather, a very familiar smile on his face. It had been a hundred years since Spike had seen that face, but the smile was all too familiar.
"Angelus!" He whispered.
"What's the matter, William?" Angelus walked to the side of the bed, his voice sending shivers down Spike's back. "Aren't you happy to see me?"
"This is impossible!"
"Daddy's home!" Drusilla said happily. "My present worked like a dream."
Spike could do nothing but stare at Angelus as the elder vampire leaned over him, his stare making him feel like a meal. He sat down on the bed with a sigh, Spike resisting the urge to back away.
"We have been talking, Dru and I." Angelus said, one hand clamping down on Spike's useless leg. "About what I bad boy you have been."
Spike bit back a comment. Angelus was back, the real deal, not the fuckable female version. He was right here, with him unable to even stand. They had never been on very good terms with one another and after what had happened ...
This was definitely not good. Not good at all.
"Like I said," Angelus continued in conversational tone, "I'm proud of you. Really. As far as torture goes, you really learned a lot from me. I think I couldn't have asked for a better student."
Spike wasn't fooled by his words. Angelus' dark eyes were filled with cold fury. He didn't think he'd ever seen him like that before. It wasn't the same rage he had always so happily ignited by ticking the elder vampire off. This was the kind of rage that could turn him into dust. Very slowly.
"But I fear there are some things you didn't learn, my boy." Angelus' hand traveled up Spike's legs until it came to rest on his hip, the fingers trailing uncomfortably close to his groin. Spike forced himself not to grab it and shove it away.
"You never learned to respect your Sire." There was a mocking sadness in his voice. "Maybe I should blame myself for that. Maybe I wasn't strict enough with you. Maybe I made mistakes in your upbringing."
He shook his head and wrenched Spike into a sitting position, bringing them face to face.
"Nah! I think I'd rather blame you!"
Drusilla looked on as her two boys started playing and Spike's screams made her sway happily.
Angela and Buffy were on their way out of the library when the former Vampire suddenly stopped, a strange feeling spreading through her body.
"Angela?" Buffy asked, concerned. "What is it?"
She wasn't sure. Warmth was spreading through her, centering low in her body. It was almost as if ... her knees gave out and she fell down as the climax thundered through her. A moan escaped from her lips before she could stop it and wetness trailed down her thigh.
"What happened?" Buffy was by her side in an instant, looking around for whatever might be trying to hurt her friend. Though Angela didn't really look like she'd been hurt. Just the opposite, actually.
"I … I don't know." Angela said, the feeling passing. She had just climaxed. Though she had not been human in over 250 years, and never a female human at that, she was quite sure that getting thrown into orgasm without any kind of external stimuli was not a normal happening.
Either that or she knew far less about women than she ever believed possible.
Angelus left the bedroom, licking blood from one of his hands, zipping up his pants with the other. Dru watched him, his very presence enough to make her so insanely happy that she didn't waste a thought on the fact that Spike had probably not enjoyed the last few hours very much.
Dru couldn't really imagine anyone not enjoying her daddy's closeness.
"I'm feeling a lot better." Angelus came toward her, smirking. "I really needed to work some kinks out."
She slid into his arms and pressed her body close to his, smiling up at him.
"Miss Edith says you have more fun planned for tonight, my Angel. She says you'll let me in on it if I ask real nicely."
Tightening his arms around her, Angelus smiled just the way she remembered it. The smile that said he was thinking wicked thoughts involving innocent humans, silk sheets, and blood. It surrounded him with an almost tangible aura of playful malevolence the likes of which Dru had never seen around anyone else.
She wanted to wrap that aura around herself and warm her cold flesh with it.
"There is a certain Slayer I need to visit." Angelus said dreamily. "She is really cute, though not very bright. I'm kinda curious to find out how she likes the new, improved 'Angela'."
"Will you hurt her?" Drusilla asked, whispering as if sharing a dirty secret. "Will you make her cry and weep and wail?"
"You know how I like to do things, Dru." He whispered back, grazing the side of her neck with his fangs. "You know how daddy plays."
The little blonde Slayer was in for so much fun.
Giles called for the gang to meet again a few hours before sundown. By then he hoped to have found some information on what exactly Drusilla had done to Angela and, if not, they would still have enough time to mount a daylight attack on the Vampires' hideout. He also wrote Buffy a note excusing her from classes. Neither she nor Angela had gotten any sleep last night, so he wanted them to rest before they proceeded.
Force of habit made Angela head for the school's basement, where she could get access to the sewers, only to be reminded that she no longer needed to hide from the daylight.
She was human now.
As Buffy refused to let her out of her sight after everything that had happened they decided to head back to Angela's apartment. It also gave them the kind of privacy Angela really didn't want right now.
"About last night ..." Buffy began.
Angela closed her eyes. She was dreading this talk. Last night had seen her voice things she had sworn to keep hidden, her confusion and pain bringing forth everything she had tried so hard to ignore. She had so hoped that Buffy would write off her words to the magical spell or something. That she'd forget them in the face of last night's more remarkable developments.
A very naive hope, she guessed.
"You said some things ..." Buffy continued.
"I don't remember much of last night." Angela said, much too quickly. "The spell and everything, I was so confused, I ..."
"Do you love me?"
Like once before Buffy's question stopped her cold. Even the sensation of feeling the sun on her skin couldn't distract her right now. The blonde girl looked at her with determination in her eyes and Angela knew she wouldn't let the topic drop.
"I may be a teenager, but I'm not blind." Buffy continued. "Last night you said something like me torturing you with my presence."
"I was ..."
"Confused, yes, so you said. But you ARE always uncomfortable in my presence, don't think I haven't noticed that. Sure, you're pretty much uncomfortable around humans in general, but at the same time you are always close to me. Always around, even when there's no big bad threat hanging over my head."
They were approaching Angela's apartment and the former Vampire felt the definite urge to run inside, lock the door, and stay safe. Not from the sunlight, not anymore, but from the expression on Buffy's face.
"I want an answer now!" She repeated. "Are you in love with me?"
The answer was obvious, of course, and suddenly Angela wondered why she didn't say it. She had felt unworthy of loving anyone, especially someone like Buffy, but now she was human. Did that change things? With the demon gone, was she now free of her past sins?
The other question was, of course, whether Buffy returned her feelings. Angela had no clue as to that. She was sure Buffy felt a certain attraction to her, but maybe that was all it was. Fascination with a strange creature, friendship for someone who had fought by her side, maybe some kind of sisterly feeling. All that would be destroyed should she voice her true feelings and find them not returned.
Plus there was the fact that she was still a woman. Even without the question of Buffy's feelings toward loving someone of the same gender, it made things still more complicated. A human woman she might be, but inside Angela was still a man. And while the thought of two woman loving each other might have been arousing for Liam, at least as long as he was right there with them, it made Angela very uneasy.
"I don't know how to answer that question." Angela said, knowing that this answer would solve nothing.
"Yes or no!" Buffy said. "It's not that hard."
"There is so much about me that you don't know, Buffy. So much that you can't understand. That I myself don't understand. I have no idea who I am, even before this happened. I can't deny that I do have feelings for you, but how am I supposed to figure them out if I don't even know who I am?"
Buffy looked at her, obviously not sure what to make of the words she had just heard.
"Does that mean yes?" She asked, looking up at Angela.
They were standing at the top of the stairs that led to Angela's basement apartment when they heard something from below. Angela's head immediately snapped around toward the sound, grateful for any kind of distraction. Her door stood slightly open.
"Someone's down there!" She said.
Reluctantly Buffy let go of their conversation. If someone had broken into Angela's apartment it was a good bet that it wasn't your average burglar. Maybe one or more of Drusilla's Vampires had followed them. There was a sewer access within easy reach of the door, so the daylight posed no hindrance.
"Don't think we're done yet!" She reminded her friend, then looked down the stairs. Angela was about to go down first when Buffy stepped in front of her.
"Oh no, you don't! You're human now, remember? Which means I go first!"
Without waiting for a reply Buffy went down ahead of Angela and peeked through the gap in the door. The apartment looked empty, there was no one in sight. But something made her Slayer sense tingle and it sure wasn't the former Vampire standing behind her.
Angelus had returned to the apartment, certain that the Slayer would either be there or make an appearance before long. She had to wonder what had happened to her little friend and, oh, did he have plans to reveal to her just what had become of beautiful, loving Angela.
Looking around the place he had lived in these last few years he was deeply disgusted. The closet full of female-sized clothing was just another reminder of what had been done to him. It was too bad the Gypsies who had done this were long dead. He knew that Darla had made them pay for casting their curse on him, but he was certain that it had been much too fast and merciful. His late Sire hadn't been the artist of torture that he was.
There were others he could punish for what had happened to him. Starting with the girl he could now sense coming down the stairs. There was someone with her, someone human. One of her friends? He didn't recognize the scent, though there was something familiar about it.
Reclining on the bed where he remembered pinning her down, grazing his fangs against her throat, he waited for her to find him.
"Someone's in here!" He heard Buffy whisper to her companion. "But I don't see ..."
She came into view around the corner and froze. Angelus looked directly at her, smiling. A shimmer of recognition went through her eyes. After all, he knew she had seen him before in one of her prophetic dreams. One in which he had killed Angela. He remembered how she had told her 'good friend' all about it.
"What's the matter, sweetheart?" He asked the frozen Slayer. "See someone you know?"
He was about to say more but then the other figure he had heard came into view and now it was Angelus' turn to freeze. His eyes widened as he saw the face of the woman standing by Buffy's side. It was a face he had never seen before, completely unfamiliar, except for the eyes. He knew those eyes.
"No!" The woman whispered.
Angelus growled. This was impossible. It couldn't be. This woman could not possible be ...
"Angela, get back!" Buffy said, taking a stake from her jacket.
"You can't be here!" Angela took a step back, shaking her head in denial. "You're gone! I'm rid of you!"
"Is this some kind of joke?" Angelus rose from the bed, vamping out. This couldn't be. Buffy was trying to play tricks on him. She had somehow found out about his reversal and wanted to confuse him by getting help from some woman who looked like he had. One who had his eyes, who moved exactly like he did, whose voice sounded ...
"NO!" Angelus screamed and leaped. Buffy tensed, but the Vampire wasn't aiming for her. He swept past her and barreled into Angela, the two of them going down in a tumble of arms and legs.
Angelus stared down at his disgusting female self and felt the pulse thundering in her neck.
"I won't allow this!" He growled, rearing back his head to sink his fangs into that inviting throat.
Buffy was there and tore him away, throwing him halfway across the room and into the wall. Angelus was back on his feet in an instant, barely aware of the Slayer, his eyes firmly fixed on the woman who was still on the floor, panting heavily. He could feel the adrenaline flowing through her, could her the heartbeat pounding in her chest. This couldn't be. He had to put a stop to that.
"No one is hurting my friends!" Buffy said, stake in hand, and attacked him. Instinct caused Angelus to duck, focusing his attention on the more immediate threat, and something very close to a smile bloomed on his face. He knew how the Slayer fought. He had trained with her for a hundred times and more. And she didn't know that.
Angelus ducked another three kicks and punches, then saw the opening Buffy still hadn't quite managed to work out of her technique. He remembered berating her on it a dozen times, working with her to close it. Most Vampires wouldn't have had time to see it, would have been dust by now.
He drove his fist deep into the Slayer's belly, causing her to double over as the breath was driven out of her. He wrenched her back up by the hair and twisted her arm around her back, exposing the long line of her neck to his view.
"I wanted this to last a little longer," he growled at her, "but this will do."
For the second time in as many minutes he reared back his head to strike and again he was torn away. Angela was back on her feet and pulled him away from Buffy. She knew that, being human now, her only chance was to fight dirty. Spinning him around, she delivered a kick directly between his legs.
The effect was unexpected.
Buffy recovered just in time to see both Angela and the mysterious Vampire that had attacked them doubled over in pain. Had she missed something? Whatever, she now had the opportunity to finish this.
Angelus recovered just in time to see the Slayer advancing, her stake raised, and wasted no time to grab Angela and shove her into his attacker. It bought him the few seconds he needed. He was out the door and into the sewer entrance before Buffy and Angela managed to separate again.
Something very strange was going on here and he had to find out what it was. He intended to ask Drusilla some very pointed questions once he got home.
"That was the guy from my dreams." Buffy said, helping Angela back to her feet. "You know him, right? Who is that?"
Angela looked at the open door through which the Vampire had vanished, sweat running down her face, her heart pounding as if it would burst free of her chest any second.
"Angelus!" She whispered. "That was Angelus!"
„Angelus?" Giles asked for confirmation.
"That's what Angela called him." Buffy said, looking over at her friend. Angela seemed to be in shock, sitting in the chair Buffy had sat her down on after coming here, looking straight ahead.
"I have read about a Vampire of that name." Giles said, rubbing his temples. "A member of the Aurelius family as well. A childe of Darla. From what I've found about him in the Watcher diaries he was, well, quite the sadist."
As Giles filled everyone in on what he had found out about Angelus, Jenny went over to Angela, who was still frozen in her chair. What Buffy had just told them wasn't possible, Jenny knew. Angelus and Angela were one and the same person.
"Are you all right?" Jenny put a hand on Angela's shoulder.
"No. I think I'm very far away from being all right."
Angela never looked at her, instead her eyes slowly traveled toward Buffy and Giles, slowly filling with resolve.
"I think it's time for the truth." She said.
A large part of Jenny wanted to shut her up right then and there. Not just because she didn't really want her own secret to be uncovered, as it would be if Angela unveiled the truth about what and who she was. She also knew that it would make everything infinitely more complicated. Angelus would no doubt be back and she wondered if Buffy could fight against him, knowing he was, in some twisted way, the same person as her friend.
Still, if they wanted to find out what was happening here, how it was possible that Angela and Angelus were now two different people, they would need help from Giles and the others. And for them to help they had to know the truth.
She really didn't want to do this, but nodded.
"Do you want me to tell them?"
"Tell us what?" Buffy asked, having picked up part of their conversation. Angela rose from her chair, pushing her own confusion and fear away behind a shield of determination.
"The truth." She just said, looking at Giles. "Giles, I assume you might have wondered why you found quite a bit of material on the other members of my 'family' in your books, but nothing on me."
Giles nodded. "Yes, I ... I wondered about that, actually."
"There is a simple reason for it." Angela looked down, not wanting to meet their eyes. "Until a hundred years ago there was no Vampire called Angela."
"You ... you changed your name?" Buffy asked, confused.
"Among other things."
"It was Angelus who killed the daughters of the Gypsy tribe." Jenny said, intervening. "He was a monster, a sadist, and they wanted to punish him."
"Jenny?" Now it was Giles' turn to be confused.
"I'm sorry, Rupert." Jenny sighed. "I should have told you sooner. I ... I'm a member of the Gypsy tribe Angelus' ravaged. I was sent to Sunnydale to ... to keep an eye on ... him."
"What?" Giles took off his glasses, staring at the woman he loved.
"I don't understand this." Willow looked from Jenny to Angela and back. "Angelus did it? I mean, if Angelus committed those murders, then why was Angela cursed? And ... and what do you mean you're here to watch him? Was he here the whole time?"
"Angela?" Buffy asked, taking a step toward her.
"Angelus killed those Gypsies, yes." She nodded, never looking up. "And so they punished him. They restored his soul, so that his conscience would plague him for all time. But that wasn't enough for them. Not nearly enough."
Giles' eyes widened as he suddenly understood. It made sense. It explained why there was not a single record of a Vampire called Angela. It explained why all records of Angelus stopped about a hundred years ago, at the time the Gypsies cast their curse.
"I don't understand?" Buffy said. "Angela, what is going on?"
She reached to touch her, but Angela flinched back, hugging herself. She refused to meet Buffy's gaze, not seeing the hurt playing across the girl's features. Angela looked up briefly, meeting eyes with Jenny.
"The curse did more than restore his soul." Jenny said sadly. "They wanted Angelus to suffer as so many of his victims had. Most of them were women. So they ... so they turned him into a woman as well."
Stunned silence spread through the library.
"You ... you're a man?" Xander said after a few minutes, his mouth hanging open.
"Not for the last hundred years." Angela mumbled.
"But ... but Angelus is here!" Willow said, frantic. "I mean, you said you saw him. How can you have seen him if he's her? I mean, if he's a 'her' now?"
Buffy didn't even hear the words; her eyes were fixed on Angela. For the longest time she had seen the other woman as a friend, something like a big sister, one she could turn to for advice and help. Recently her feelings seemed to have changed as she came to doubt what exactly Angela was feeling for her in return. The Vampire, or former Vampire, had more or less confessed that she did have romantic feelings for her, something Buffy had no idea how to handle.
And she was a man.
"It must have been the spell." Giles said, trying to overplay his confusion by concentrating on the matter at hand. He was also avoiding looking at Jenny. "Somehow it must have caused her to split in two."
"You're a man?" Xander asked again.
"Hearing impaired much?" Cordelia said dryly, though she seemed as shocked as everyone else.
"You're not a real teacher?" Willow suddenly looked at Jenny. "You're just here to watch him ... her ... Angela?"
The rest of the people in the room might as well not have been there as Buffy looked at Angela. She remembered the man she had seen in Angela's apartment earlier. Remembered his cruel smile. His dark brown eyes.
The same eyes Angela had.
Dozens of memories flooded her mind. Angela hesitating before giving her name, almost as if she had to think it up on the spot. She remembered asking her what women did for fun when she was alive and it seemed as if Angela didn't have a clue. There was that extreme awkwardness Angela had displayed when Buffy had undressed in front of her, growing even worse when she invited her to sleep in the same bed after escaping from the Three.
A hundred more strange moments played through her mind, things Angela had done or said that she had written off to her being a Vampire and really old. How could she ever have suspected that ...
Angela looked up and their eyes met for a moment.
Looking down again, her arms wrapped tightly around herself, Angela turned around and walked out of the library.
"You are a man?" Xander called after her.
Buffy found Angela sitting outside the school, looking up at the sunlit sky. She had taken off her jacket, allowing the sun to shine on her arms and shoulders. Seeing her in the light like this, Buffy realized for the first time how pale she was. It never quite came out that strong in the dark.
"Are you all right?" Buffy asked, sitting down beside her. With a certain space between them.
"A lot of people seem to be asking me that as of late." Angela replied without turning her head. "Do you really expect me to say yes?"
Not really, Buffy had to admit. She didn't know what to say, wasn't quite sure why she had left the others to go after Angela.
A cold had settled between Giles and Jenny. Xander was apparently still in shock that the woman he'd crushed on was actually a man. Willow seemed more heartbroken about Jenny's lying to them than anything else.
Buffy didn't really give much of a damn about any of that right now.
"That Vampire in the apartment," she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper, "that was you? That was what you looked like as a man?"
"You were quite the looker."
Her attempt to lighten the mood failed completely. Angela didn't even show the shadow of a smile. She was staring out at the sunlit street before the school, deserted during the weekend, like it was the most fascinating thing in the world.
"What was it like?" Buffy continued, desperate to fill the silence. "Suddenly becoming a woman?"
Angela didn't answer immediately and Buffy almost thought she wouldn't at all, but then she spoke, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Becoming a woman was the easy part. The return of my memories, of everything I had done as a demon, was much worse."
Buffy nodded. They had never talked much about it, but she had heard the pain in Angela's voice during the few times they had.
"It actually made things a bit easier, I think." Angela continued. "It ... somehow it separated me from the demon I'd been, the fact that I didn't even look like him anymore. I remember killing people with my bare hands, but those hands looked different than the ones I have now."
She gave a bitter laugh. "Until today I never even knew what I looked like as a woman."
Buffy remained silent for a while, just looking at the person beside her on the bench. Angela was a beautiful woman. Buffy had watched her more than once, looking for clues on how to appear more like a grown woman herself. It truly had been like having a big sister. Only she was quite sure that a sister could never have invoked the confused feelings she had about Angela.
Even before she found out that she was really a man.
"Seeing him ... myself ... today," Angela told her, "was like a nightmare come alive. Everything I've been, everything I've done ... I thought it was over. That part of my life ... the darkness ... I thought it was gone."
She balled her fists and pressed them to her face.
"I never wanted you to see me like that. The real me."
"Is he?" Buffy asked. "Is he the real you?"
"He always will be." She said, resignedly. "I can feel it even now, when he's gone. Everything I want ... everything I long for ... I could fool you, I could fool all of your friends, but I could never fool myself. I've been a woman for a century, Buffy. Sometimes I even started to think of myself as 'her', not 'him'. But inside, under the flesh ..."
Her voice trailed off.
"You ... you still feel like a man?" Buffy continued, not sure that it was a good idea to ask that question.
Angela turned her head and looked at her, her dark eyes shimmering with emotions.
She sighed, looking away again.
"I am a man, Buffy. I always will be, no matter the flesh. The monster that's still inside me wants you. It wants your flesh. It wants your blood. And the man I am, still am, ...", she hesitated, but only for a second, "... that man has been in love with you from the very first moment I saw you."
Neither of them said anything for a long time, then Angela looked up at her once more.
"Does that answer your question, Buffy?"
Buffy stared into the dark eyes of the woman, or not woman, who had been her best friend and closest ally for over a year now. There was no mistaking the sincerity in those eyes and the intensity of emotions, no longer hidden behind a poker face perfected by over two centuries of practice, almost scared her.
"Yes." She said. It did answer her question. It left her with a new one, though.
Angela loved her. A man imprisoned in a female body, who had somehow been split apart from the evil Vampire she had once been, was in love with her.
The question was, of course, what did that mean for her?
"I AM NOT AMUSED!" Angelus thundered as he threw Dru into the nearest wall. The plaster cracked with the force of the impact and the mad Vampire slid to the ground, bleeding from a cut over her eye.
Her smile never wavered.
"Your stupid magic didn't turn me back!" He wrenched her off the ground, one hand constricting around her throat. "It split me in two! There is another me out there. Human! Female! Alive! What did you do to me you stupid bitch?"
One of her hands came up to caress his chest, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was about two seconds away from tearing her head off in his anger.
"My present brought you back, my Angel!" She whispered, giggling.
"Tell me about your present, Dru!" He growled. "Tell me what it did to me or you won't be around to see nightfall!"
She cocked her head to one side, looking at him as if she could see his insides. Sometimes the empty look in her eyes managed to scare even Angelus. Not now, though. He was too furious.
He had thought he was finally rid of the thing they had cursed him with. Having been forced to exist like that, with a soul, in the flesh of a woman, for over a century. It was a miracle he hadn't gone to meet the sunrise a hundred times over during those years. He had been reduced to a pitiful creature that lived in the dirt. Worse, to a goody two-show Vampire that aided the Slayer to destroy his own kind.
He had thought he was free. And now this.
"The human is gone." Drusilla sang, moving her hand over his chest. "All gone, nothing left. Just like Toth promised me."
She looked to the side, pouting. "He didn't say anything about the bad human living on after being scraped out of you, my Angel."
Angelus' eyes narrowed.
"Just let me check if I got things straight, Dru! This little boogedy boo of yours removed everything human from inside me. Everything. The soul, the feelings, all those pesky human weaknesses. It's all in that other one, Angela, now. Is that correct?"
"Everything gone." She nodded eagerly. "Bad human things all gone."
Throwing her to the ground, Angelus broke into a laugh.
"THIS IS GREAT!" He bellowed. "This is so great, Dru! I'm rid of it all! Rid of everything that held me back."
He closed his eyes, remembering the moment when he had pinned his human self to the ground, had seen the pulse hammering in her throat, had felt the sweet fear spicing up her blood. Had seen his own human eyes look up at him with the certain knowledge of what was to come.
He would finish it, oh yes. Eradicate his humanity once and for all.
"Eat your heart out, Freud!" He chuckled, seeing it happen in his minds eye. Saw himself as he killed his human half, the beautiful Angela, and loved every minute of it.
Then he would be free forever.
ANGELIC FACE WILL CONTINUE IN
"DIVIDED WE DIE"