Divided We Die, Part 1 (#5 in Angelic Face Series)
by Philip S.
Summary: The Gypsies' curse has returned Angelus' soul and turned him into a woman. Now calling herself Angela, she is recruited by the Powers That Be to help the Slayer, Buffy Summers. Drusilla, looking for the return of her daddy, uses the magic of the demon Toth and splits Angela in two. Angelus is back, freed of his soul, while his human half, Angela, finally confesses to Buffy her true feelings. Now Buffy has to figure out her own feelings, at the same time protecting Angela from Angelus, who wants to rid himself of his human half.
Spoilers: General spoilers for the Buffy S2 episodes "Passion" and "Becoming", though this is an AU. You should have read the earlier stories in the Angelic Face series
Disclaimer: The Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon. Angela is mine, as is the story. No profit will be made from this.
Rating: PG-13, just like the show
There was something incredibly important she had to do. She remembered that much. Something so important that ... that ...
God, it hurt so much. Why did it hurt so much? Did she deserve this? All the lies over these many months, all the torture she had helped inflict on an innocent. Was this the payback then? To be in so much pain, to be a prisoner here in the darkness when there was something so very important that she had to do?
She had to tell them. Somehow she had to tell them.
Buffy softly knocked on the door to the hospital room, peeking through the gap. The scenery was unchanged from when she had been here just yesterday. The same as it had been all of the last three days. There she was, lying in her bed, looking so incredibly fragile and hurt. The many-colored bruises were beginning to heal, leaving her almost as pale as the sheets around her.
The constant beeping of the machines she was hooked up to was the only sound in the room.
Giles still sat next to her bed, clutching her limp hand. He wore the same clothes as yesterday, probably the day before that as well, his cheeks covered with beard stubble. There were dark rings under his eyes and it looked like he had been crying. A lot.
"How is she?" Buffy asked, walking over to put a hand on his shoulder.
It was sheer luck that Jenny was alive at all, they both knew that. They didn't know why she had been in the school so late, but Angelus had been there, too. Buffy still cringed whenever she even thought the name. To think that this vile creature was a part of Angela ...
No! No thinking of Angela right now! Too confusing! Much too confusing!
Buffy had swung by the school library that night to return Giles' book to him. He still had to ward his own apartment against Angelus' entry. That was when she had heard the screams. She had arrived just in time; the vampire had already had his fangs buried in Jenny's neck.
Fighting him off had been anything but easy, he seemed much stronger than Angela had ever been. He also knew how Buffy fought; they had sparred together more times than she could count. But in the end he had retreated, a smirk on his face, warning her that this was just the beginning.
Everything between his running off and arriving at the hospital was a blur for Buffy. She didn't remember calling the paramedics, but apparently she had. Jenny had barely been alive by the time they finally came. Buffy dimly recalled pressing her hands to the gaping wound in Jenny's neck, remembered trying to keep her broken body together by sheer force of will.
Giles had arrived only minutes after they had carted her off to the operating room, more frantic and worried than she had ever seen him. By that time Buffy herself had been pretty much in shock and the rest of the Scooby Gang had found them huddled together in the waiting room with no news on Jenny's condition.
They operated on her for nearly ten hours straight until her life was out of danger. Though whether she would ever regain consciousness was another matter. Apparently Angelus had beaten her within an inch of her life before he even started draining her.
"No change, I'm afraid." Giles sighed, putting his own hand on top of hers where it rested on his shoulder. "She ... they say she probably isn't feeling any pain right now."
Buffy nodded, knowing that Giles needed to believe that right now. The entire affair with Angelus and Angela had driven a wedge between Giles and Jenny; her keeping secrets from him had wounded him deeply. It didn't change the fact, though, that he loved her. Deeply.
Buffy wondered what it would be like to be that certain of her feelings.
"Giles, we ... the others and me, we've been talking. About Angelus. About what happened."
He barely gave a reaction, which didn't really encourage Buffy much. Wringing her hands, she went on. "We also ... well, I talked to Angela about it."
Now Giles did react. His eyes turned hard and cold as he looked up at her, almost making Buffy take a step back. She didn't know if she had ever seen him with so much cold rage inside of him.
He shook his head, visibly pushing his feelings aside.
"What ... what did she say?"
"You know this is not her doing, right?" Buffy said, deeply worried by the emotions she could see inside her Watcher. "Angela is blaming herself more than anyone else. She doesn't need any more from others."
"I ... I know, Buffy. Up here, I know." He pointed at his head. "But ..."
She understood. She understood him only too well. On the night Angelus had done this to Jenny he had also been at Buffy's house. She thanked every deity in existence that she had already warded it against his entry by that time, so her mother had been out of danger the moment she'd stepped across the threshold. It hadn't kept her safe from his ugly words, though.
Angelus had taunted her mother with intimate details about Buffy's life, things she had told her friend Angela in strict confidence. He delighted in telling Joyce about all the nights Buffy slipped out through the window to be with him (not mentioning, of course, that he had been a 'her' at that time). He even went so far as telling her that he had spent the night in Buffy's room on more than one occasion, describing the room in detail to prove his claim.
Joyce had sent him away and then turned a stern gaze toward Buffy.
Buffy shook off the memory. That hadn't been Angela, though it had hurt to hear all the things she had told her friend being turned into insults and taunts. It hadn't been Angela. And Buffy had gotten off pretty easy with her mother, all things considered. Thankfully Joyce hadn't noticed her sneaking out later that same night or Jenny would probably be dead by now.
"Angela said," Buffy forced her thoughts back to the topic at hand, "that what Angelus did to Jenny is rather ... well, untypical for him ... her ... whatever. When she was Angelus she ... I mean he ..."
"I know it's confusing, Buffy." Giles told her.
"Tell me about it! Anyway, Angelus, the old one, wasn't one for beating people up like ... that." She gestured helplessly toward Jenny. "He delighted in the more, well, subtle kinds of pain. Angela said that ... well, I didn't really want her to ... you know."
Hearing Angela tell them what she might have done to them ... they really didn't need that.
"It's just that this Angelus seems a lot different from the Angelus she was, or remembers being, or ... whatever."
Giles rubbed his eyes.
"He is not the Angelus she was." He said. "If the curse the Gypsies put on Angela had broken, then yes, she probably would have become the same creature she had been. But it hasn't. She was torn in two by magic. Magic we still don't fully understand. I'm afraid there is no telling exactly how this has affected Angelus. Or Angela."
It had been three months now since 'IT' had happened. They only ever referred to it that way. It. The day Angela had been split apart into a vicious, male monster and a living, female human. The day they had all learned the truth about Buffy's mysterious friend. The day Angela had confessed her true feelings for Buffy.
Angela had been a man. Still was underneath the flesh. And she loved Buffy.
She shook her head. No time for that now. No time for all the confused thoughts and feelings that never ceased to play havoc with her concentration. The matter at hand was Angelus. During those three months they had seen him but sparingly, but so far he had tried several times to get to Angela, apparently looking to kill her to make sure that his humanity would be gone for good. Buffy and the others had done their utmost to keep her safe and so far it had worked.
They hadn't managed to keep Jenny safe from him. Angelus had to be dealt with, and fast.
"Whatever he is," Buffy told Giles, squeezing his shoulders, "he will die for this, Giles. I will kill him for doing this to Jenny."
Someone had said that, she was sure. Someone had talked about killing Angelus. Someone close at hand. She had to tell them. Had to tell them that they mustn't kill Angelus!
She remembered researching the magic Drusilla had used. Remembered finding out the details of the spell and how it had interacted with the curse her people had put on the vampire. She knew what would happen.
They were still one. Angelus and Angela. Two in flesh, but one in essence. One could not exist without the other. If Angelus died, so would Angela. She had to tell them that. Had to tell them before they killed Angelus.
Jenny screamed into the darkness that had captured her, but no one heard.
Buffy was patrolling thoroughly every night now, though it was getting harder and harder to sneak past her mother. Talking with her, Buffy had managed to convince her that most of what Angelus had told her was lies. Yes, she knew the guy. Yes, they had been ... close, briefly. Yes, he had seen the inside of her room. Once. But she wanted no more part of him and all the lies about her sneaking out at night every night were just a result of his pettiness.
She hated lying to her mother this way, but it couldn't be helped.
She had to get Angelus. Once they were rid of him they could concentrate on the other, less life-threatening things. Like how to right things with her mother. How to figure out her feelings for Angela.
Angela. It was strange to think of her. Before the little revelation of two months ago Buffy had considered her something very much like a big sister. A close friend and confidant. Now? Now she wasn't sure.
Angela loved her. Loved her like the man she really was. And Buffy? She knew that she felt something for Angela in return. She just wasn't sure what it was. She was drawn to the vampire, or former vampire, that much was certain. She didn't think it was sexual, though being rather inexperienced in these matters she wasn't sure about that.
Buffy had never considered herself gay before. She liked hanging out with cute boys, didn't that mean she was straight? She certainly didn't check out other girls, that much she would have noticed. Angela, though ... she just didn't know. Being around Angela gave her a good feeling; a tingling somewhere inside she had never felt with anyone else before. If anything were to happen to her, Buffy wasn't sure she would survive it.
Was that love?
She now knew what Angela looked like as a man. Angelus was that man, in body at least. Looking at him she certainly didn't feel any kind of attraction, sexual or otherwise. Though that might just be because of what he was, what he did. Looking at it neutrally she had to admit that he was quite the looker.
She couldn't imagine Angela in that body, it just didn't work. She didn't know if she would feel anything for Angela if she were back in her male body, alive or undead. This whole split identity thing was confusing enough as it was without having to figure out her feelings for the two parts. Angelus was a hotty, but a monster. Angela was the best person she had ever met, but a woman.
God, why couldn't things ever be easy?
"Musing about your inner gayness?"
The voice made her freeze. She had heard it only a few times before, but it was etched into her memory already. Mocking, taunting, nothing at all like her friend, and not just because it was a male voice.
Turning around, she saw Angelus leaning against a tombstone behind her.
"How is sweet Jenny?" He asked nonchalantly. Just two old friends chatting the night away. Right! "I hear the little Gypsy bitch is still in a coma. I really have to visit her one of these days. You know, bring a few flowers, maybe a knife or two."
"You'll never get near her or any of my friends again!" Buffy growled at him, drawing the stake from inside her jacket.
"Is that right?" He asked, still smiling. "Damn! Here I thought I'd have myself a nice little serial killer spree. Jenny was supposed to be number one, but I think now I'll have to start with someone else. Oh yeah, I know! My sweet little other half. Angela."
"I'll kill you!" Buffy moved toward him, carefully watching his every move. She was as familiar with his style of fighting as he was with hers, but he was about ten inches taller than she was used to, maybe more. Still, Angela had taken great care to remind her of all the vulnerabilities and openings she had found in Buffy's fighting style, so she should be okay.
"No more puns?" Angelus asked, surprised. "Here I thought we would trade witty banter for a while. I never really had the opportunity to do that before. Too depressed."
They circled, Buffy refusing to be drawn into his taunting. Angela had told her all about it, though the memories had been anything but pleasant for her. She wouldn't fall for his attempts to provoke her.
"Okay," Angelus shrugged, seeing that she seemed uninterested in the banter part of the fight. "Let's dance!"
This was only the third time they did battle. The first time Buffy hadn't known who he was, except for a figure that had made a brief guest appearance in one of her dreams. The second time she had been almost with insane with worry over Jenny, who'd been slowly bleeding to death while they tangled.
This time there were no distractions. She knew who she was facing and she would kill him once and for all.
Angela had moved into a new apartment after that night when she had faced herself. There was no telling if Angelus would need an invitation to enter a home that was, in essence, occupied only by himself. Herself. Whatever. The best bet was to move someplace Angelus didn't know of.
She shook her head. This was so bizarre. She was trying to hide from herself. Thankfully Angelus had apparently been preoccupied with other things directly after their split, so Angela had managed to change the code words and PINs for all of her bank accounts. Angelus had amassed quite a fortune in his day and though she had barely spent a cent of it after the curse, being only too aware of the blood staining this money, she didn't want her demon self to get his hands on it, either.
It was hard to believe that, until three months ago, they had been the same person. She still had the memories of all the things she had done as a vampire, but now, with that vampire running around in the night as a separate entity, it was as if those memories were but a bad dream. A nightmare from which she had woken now.
Except for the part of her still being a woman.
Angela sighed. Before this had happened she had given up hope of ever regaining her true gender. There had been times when she had almost managed to forget that she was not a woman. Times when she had been almost comfortable inside her female skin.
Everything had changed, though. The few people she had actually started to consider friends now knew who and what she really was. Or had been. They knew she was really a man. Gender had never been that important among vampires. Angelus had been a lover of both men and women in his time. Among humans, though, it was very important. Whether they did so consciously or not, people interacted differently with a man than a woman.
Xander was the prime example. It almost made her smile. She had noticed that he had been eyeing her all the time, though she did not consider it very flattering. Now that he knew she was a man ... it was just about the only funny thing about this entire state of affairs.
She was human now. That was definitely an up. Able to go out into the sunlight, to taste food, to do all the things normal humans did every day. Except she couldn't really enjoy it. She had dreamed of becoming human again, though she knew it was a hopeless dream, but that human had been male. A male human being who might one day show Buffy how very much he loved her.
It seemed that would never happen. And all the sunlight in the world didn't make that simple fact any better.
It was night now and Angela stayed at home. It was ridiculous, her being afraid to go out at night, but as Angelus had made it more than clear that he was looking to kill her, there wasn't much of a choice. She understood him. He wanted to eradicate all that was left of his humanity. The demon she remembered being could do nothing else.
The attack on Jenny had been unexpected, though, especially the way he had done it. She didn't remember a single instance in her long life in which she had beaten someone into a pulp like that. The Angelus she had been would either have killed Jenny quickly and then used her body in some elaborate setup for Giles or Buffy, or he would have drawn out the experience as long as possible, doing as little actual damage to the body as he could.
Not this new Angelus. She wondered if she could really guess what he was thinking, now that the demon was removed, if not gone from her being.
Angela's train of thoughts was abruptly interrupted when a sharp pain lanced through her belly, causing her to collapse to her knees.
"What the ...?" She began, only to be cut off when some invisible fist collided with her face. It threw her halfway across the room, stars exploding in front of her eyes.
Dazed, Angela remained prone on the floor, but her thoughts were racing a mile a minute.
Angelus was fighting Buffy, it was the only explanation. She had experienced this once before, on the night Jenny had nearly died. More, during the last three months she had experienced a multitude of sensations that did not, could not hail from anywhere but Angelus.
Orgasms. The sweet rush of warm human blood. Other sensations no human language had words for. Somehow they were still connected, causing them to share feelings. This bond seemed to grow weaker, nowhere near as intense as it had been on that first day they had been separated, but it was still there. She didn't know whether Angelus felt the things she did. The taste of chocolate. The warmth of the sun on her skin. Maybe the demon didn't know how to experience these things. Maybe he did.
She hadn't told anyone about this. Not Buffy. Not Giles. Not even Jenny, before she had been attacked. Because she had thought things through to the end.
If she experienced everything Angelus did, there was a good chance she would die once Buffy dusted him. If Buffy knew that she would probably hold back against the vampire. That was something she couldn't afford, not against someone who knew her so well.
And so Angela said nothing, only hissed in pain when she felt another impact.
If anything Angelus seemed even stronger than the last time. Buffy could hardly lay a hand on him, he moved so fast. The few hits she managed to get in did no visible damage while she had her hands full dodging blows that split tombstones in half. How had he gotten so strong?
Angelus forced Buffy back step by step, even as she felt tiredness seep into her bones from the prolonged battle.
"What's the matter, lover?" Angelus snarled. "Getting tired already?"
"Hardly!" The strain in her voice proved her wrong.
Angelus only laughed and swatted one of her blows aside, lashing out with his foot. Buffy was a heartbeat too slow. Moments later she found herself on her back with no clear idea how she had gotten there, feeling woozy. Angelus stood above her, fangs flashing as he grinned.
"This does not look good for our heroine." He mused. "Could this be the end of the Slayer?"
"Don't count on it, overbite!" Xander? What was Xander doing here?
Angelus flinched back as crosses were shoved into his face, giving Buffy the opportunity to rise to her feet on wobbly legs. Angelus glared at them, Xander, Willow, and Cordelia standing at Buffy's side with crosses and holy water in hand.
"We'll have to finish this another time, lover!" The vampire gave a mock bow. "Give my regards to Jenny and Angela."
With that he vanished into the night, leaving Buffy with an aching jaw and too many questions without answers.
Buffy stood in front of Angela's new apartment, trying to work up the courage to knock. It was shortly after sunrise. Buffy only ever went here during the daylight to make sure that neither Angelus nor any of his minions could follow her and find what he sought most.
She was still hurting from her furious battle against Angelus last night. There were questions she needed answered. Angelus was stronger than he should be, much stronger. Buffy had sparred against Angela a hundred times and, even taking into account her smaller size and the fact that she would hold back in a mock fight, she had been nowhere near that strong.
Giles was still furiously researching, she knew. Unfortunately they had found very little information on either Toth's spell or the Gypsy curse, much less how those two might interact. The only thing that was very clear was that Angelus retained no trace of Angela's kindness and compassion. He was a monster through and through.
A monster Buffy wasn't sure she could defeat.
Finally gathering enough courage to knock, she waited for a long moment for Angela to answer the door. When the former vampire didn't appear she took out her spare key and slipped inside, fearing the worst.
"Angela?" She called out.
The new apartment differed from the old in quite a few ways. Lots of windows for one thing. A kitchen that actually saw some use. They had rescued most of Angela's artwork and clothing from the old apartment during the daylight hours. There was little new in the way of decorations, though. So far Angela hadn't made much use of the fact that she could now go shopping during normal business hours.
The living room was empty, so Buffy went on into the bedroom. Maybe Angela was still sleeping. She was still getting used to needing so much sleep, plus she constantly overestimated her own strength. It tended to tire her out quite quickly.
Buffy breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Angela curled into her sheets. The relief didn't last long, though, as she saw the state her friend was in.
"Angela!" She quickly went over to the bed, trying to shake her awake. Angela was almost as pale as she had been as a vampire. There were dark rings under her eyes and her skin was clammy, covered with cold sweat. She looked almost gaunt.
It took Buffy almost a minute until Angela slowly opened her eyes. Eyes that were completely bloodshot. She looked like someone who had gone through one hell of an ordeal. Was she sick? It would figure that Angela was two centuries and change behind on immunities and stuff. Had she caught some kind of virus?
"Buffy?" Angela whispered, her eyes finally focusing.
"It's me. What's the matter with you? Are you ill?"
Angela shook her head, slowly rising into a sitting position.
"Nothing to worry about. Just a little under the weather. Still getting used to this whole being human thing."
Buffy didn't believe a word. By now she knew Angela good enough to know when she was trying to hide something. The human variant of her friend was nowhere near as good at faking nonchalance as her vampire self had been.
"We should get you to a doctor."
"And tell him what? The fake papers I have won't stand up closer scrutiny. And what am I going to tell him when he asks me about past sicknesses? Sorry, doctor, I was dead the last 250 years?"
It wasn't usual for Angela to be this flippant, either.
"Something is wrong with you," Buffy insisted, "and I don't just mean the fact that you were split into two people. You look like hell."
"Thanks a lot."
"I am worried about you."
They looked into each other's eyes, no more words coming forth. Angela saw the deep worry in Buffy's eyes, which only strengthened her resolve not to tell her anything about the bond she still shared with Angelus. Buffy was right, of course. Something was wrong. It wasn't just the aftereffects of the fight she had gotten echoes of last night. She had noticed it these past few days.
She was weakening. It got harder and harder to get up in the morning. Her strength, already much less than she was used to, was fading more and more. She had trouble holding down food and was rapidly losing what little color her skin had acquired these last few weeks.
Whatever might be happening to her, though, it was far less important than stopping Angelus. Studying the papers, she knew that her other self had already piled up a body count here in Sunnydale. Though his methods were quite different from the ones she remembered using herself, she could tell where he had been at work.
It helped (though that was definitely the wrong verb to use in this instance) that she could feel it when he killed. She tasted the blood on her tongue, felt the rush of draining a life.
Angelus had to be stopped, no matter the cost.
"Is there a particular reason you came by, Buffy?" She asked the Slayer.
Buffy gave her a scowl.
"Don't think I don't notice the change of topic. Still, yes, I came by for a particular reason. I need your help figuring out why Angelus is getting so strong. I fought him last night and barely got away with my life. He was stronger even than when I stopped him from killing Jenny."
That was news. Buffy had told her that Angelus had been quite strong when she fought him over Jenny, but Angela had written it off to Buffy's worry over her friend and Angelus' familiarity with her fighting style.
But what if it was something else? Was Angelus really getting stronger? Maybe it was in some way connected to her growing weaker? Was he somehow drawing away her lifeforce or something? No, that couldn't be it. Even at full strength Angelus should not be so much stronger than a normal vampire that Buffy would worry about it. Something was going on here that she didn't quite understand yet.
"Angelus... I was a skilled fighter in my days and being of the Master's bloodline made me stronger than your average vampire. Are you sure it's more than just that?"
"Very sure." Buffy pointed at her swollen jaw. Why hadn't she noticed that before? Was she so busy with her own misery that she didn't even notice when the girl she loved was injured? God, Buffy had said that she had barely gotten away with her life last night.
"Did he hurt you?" Angela asked, full of concern.
"Not my finest hour." Buffy admitted. "Xander and the others drove him away with crosses, otherwise... he is a lot stronger than he should be. Don't you have any idea what turned him into Super-Vampire?"
"No!" Angela said honestly. "Doesn't Giles have a theory?"
"A few dozen, but none that make any sense. He thinks it might be connected with the spell in some way. Too bad that we don't know anything about that, either."
"Don't come near him until we figure it out!" Angela urged Buffy. "I... I know what he wants to do to you. If you can't beat him, stay far away from him!"
"You know I can't do that." Buffy reminded her. "I have to stop him."
Angela did know that. She wanted Buffy to stop him, even if the price was her own life. Not Buffy's life, though. It wasn't worth that.
"Just promise me to be careful!" Angela took Buffy's hand.
Buffy looked at their joint hands, still weirded out by the feelings it invoked in her. Since Angela had revealed her true feelings (and the fact that she was really a man) to her the former vampire had become much more open with her shows of affection. Not comfortable, though, certainly not that. Buffy could guess that Angela, being in reality an 18th century male, was even more weirded out by the idea of a woman loving another woman than she was.
Add to that the fact that one woman wasn't really a woman... no, Buffy refused to go there again. This whole thing was already a lot more confusing than she could deal with. She didn't need to tie her brain into more knots.
"I promise." Buffy awkwardly patted Angela's hand. "But only if you promise to get yourself checked out. I bet Giles can find a doctor that won't mind the paperwork so much. Please, Angela! I don't want to see you hurt."
She didn't know whether she loved the other woman (or not-woman), but she was certain that she didn't want her hurt. Or killed.
Sighing deeply, Angela nodded.
"Okay. Let Giles look into it. I promise I'll go."
Buffy smiles, satisfied. "Good. We'll be meeting after school, around four pm. More research. You'll be there?"
Buffy turned, heading for the exit. Two steps later she stopped, looking over her shoulder.
"I... I'm sorry that I can't figure out my own feelings about this. After you came out and told me how you feel about me..."
"Buffy..." Angela began, wanting to tell her not to worry about it.
"No, please let me finish! I... I care for you, Angela. Deeply. It's just... I never had these kinds of feelings for anyone else before. I don't know what to do about them. Especially as I don't know which of you I am supposed to feel something for. The Angela I knew, the man you really are... I just can't wrap my mind around all that."
"I understand." Angela said softly. "How could you when I can't make sense of it myself?"
"I just want you to know that, once we get this Angelus thing over with and done, I'll figure it out. WE will figure it out!"
Angela looked at her, remembering her suspicions about what would happen to her should Buffy kill Angelus.
"We will." She just said, giving the Slayer a fake smile.
Angelus stared into the mirror in front of him, his eyes tracing the contours of the room reflected there. Vampires had no reflection, everyone knew that. A vampire could stand right in front of a mirror, could touch the smooth surface with his fingers, and still it would show him nothing. Only the same emptiness he carried around inside him where his soul once was.
Angelus stared into the mirror and saw the emptiness marred by the phantom image of a dark-haired female.
"This won't do!" He yelled, shattering the mirror with his fist.
"What troubles you, my Angel?" Drusilla crooned, coming up behind him.
He turned around to look at her, his demon eyes blazing with rage and frustration. Three months! Three months since he had been freed of his humanity, freed of the burden of a human soul, freed from the female flesh that had held him prisoner for a century.
Yet he wasn't free. He would never be free until that human woman who was everything that should have died 250 years ago was dead herself. Only he couldn't get his hands on her.
"I am getting tired of this game, Dru." He told his childe. "Something needs to be down about this state of affairs and soon."
"Something will happen." Drusilla sang, swaying back and forth. "Something that will put an end to everything. Something terrible and beautiful."
Angelus almost smiled as he saw her caught in the throes of a vision once more. He used to love it when that happened, especially since it would normally provide him with some new means to rain down fear and terror on the humans.
Things had changed, though. More and more he found himself disgusted with his childe's insane behavior, found himself repulsed by the human fancies she still carried around. Her dolls, her tea parties, the pretty dresses. She wasn't human! She shouldn't be acting like she was.
"What is it, Dru?" He asked, impatient. "What do you see?"
"Something has arrived at the museum." She sang. "A big rock with a surprise inside."
"What is inside, baby?" He caressed her cheek. When had his nails grown so much? "What kind of surprise is waiting inside?"
"One that will drown the world in fire." Dru mumbled, sinking to her knees with a smile of pure rapture on her face. "I can hear it roar."
"Does it have a name?" He went on his knees beside her, intending his voice to sound soothing and loving. It came out more like a growl. "Tell it to daddy!"
Spike cowered on the floor in the next room, needing all his strength just to prop himself up against the wall. The first few weeks after his return Angelus had kept him chained to the wall all the time. Now it wasn't really necessary any longer. Three months of torture with barely a drop of blood to sustain him made sure that he wasn't going anywhere.
Spike had believed that he had hated Angelus before. But compared to what he felt now his earlier animosity paled like a glowworm beside the sun. He would see the bastard dead if it was the last thing he ever did.
He heard Angelus and Dru talking, heard Dru sing about something terrible that was coming. Something that would drown the world in fire? Wasn't that just the thing for this new, improved Angelus. He had always been a sick bastard, but he had never been insane before. This wasn't the Angelus Spike knew. Spike had always walked a fine line between love and hatred with that one. No, this new Angelus was completely bonkers. And perfectly capable of destroying the whole world.
It would accomplish his goal. Destroying that human half of his that was still walking around out there. Destroying the Slayer that had filled him with human feelings. Angelus had talked in length about all these things while he had spent time with Spike in his little torture chamber. The bastard really liked the sound of his own voice and there was nothing more important to talk about than his own obsessions, of course.
Angela and Buffy had to die. And if the rest of the world went to hell along with them, fine and dandy.
Spike leaned against the wall, forcing himself to remain calm. Angelus hadn't visited him in several days now, long enough for Spike to gather some strength again. Not much. The mansion was infested with rats and their blood had barely been enough to heal his wounds. He wouldn't be able to harm a fly right now, much less the big poof.
No, he had to bide his time. Though it really irked him it was obvious that he wouldn't be able to kill Angelus all by his lonesome. The bastard wouldn't let him get strong enough for that, no matter how far gone he might be. Spike would have loved to tear him to pieces with his own hands, but if that wasn't possible...
He just needed his strength. Needed to gather enough strength to get out of this locked room and reach a phone. Call a certain someone who would love to dust the poof for him.
Until then he had to listen carefully.
"Akathler." Angelus hissed, a feeling of joyful anticipation spreading inside of him. Akathler, the demon created to swallow the world. If he awoke it would be the end for everyone. Especially pesky Slayers and a certain dark-haired human being that had no business being alive at all.
"Will we go visit him?" Dru asked. "He feels lonely, entombed in stone, not able to take a breath in so many years."
Angelus smiled, his fangs scraping across his bottom lip until they drew blood.
"The museum, you say." He mused. "I think we should do something about our cultural education."
He closed his eyes, imagining how it would be. The human race would die screaming, the world would burn to ash. Sweet, innocent Buffy would fight until her last breath, but it would avail her nothing. He would watch as she was sucked into hell and laugh all the way.
And Angela! Sweet human Angela, combining all the good and fluffy things he had been forced to carry around for so long. No matter where she hid, no matter how hard they tried to protect her from him, she, too, would find her end. And then he would be free. Finally, completely free. Standing atop the ashes of this human world.
"Let's go!" He told the attending minions.
Pulling on his duster he paused for a moment, realizing that he still had his demon face on. For the moment, however fleeting, they still needed to blend when they went outside. He concentrated, calling on the mask that would fool the stupid humans into thinking him one of them. Would allow him to walk among them unnoticed until it was too late for them.
He frowned. His features refused to shift. Concentrating harder he finally felt the bones rearrange themselves, felt the demon slide beneath the skin as the human mask settled into place.
When had that gotten to be so difficult?
Classes were over for today, though Buffy found that she didn't remember much of anything she had heard today. It was still an hour until they were scheduled to meet in the library for their latest research party and Willow insisted on doing something that Buffy, though she knew it was necessary, really didn't want to do.
Willow was telling her something about chemistry, but Buffy found it impossible to listen. Her thoughts kept spinning, taking her back to Angela's pale face, Angelus' cruel grin, the two faces overlapping until they were indistinguishable from each other.
Angela. Angelus. Back and forth the faces went inside her head until she found herself dizzy. Willow's voice didn't help. The redhead always went rather monotone when she was in study-mode and it was beginning to put Buffy to sleep.
"Are you listening to a word I say?" Willow asked her out of the blue.
"What?" Buffy started, realizing that her forehead had come very close to the table in front of her. They were sitting at Ms. Calendar's desk in the computer science lab, as Willow was filling in until Jenny was released from the hospital. If she was ever released, that was. They still didn't know if she would ever wake from her coma.
"You are miles away." Willow chided softly.
"Sorry. It's just... how am I supposed to concentrate on the composition of natural sugars or whatever with everything that has been happening?"
"I know, Buffy, but it won't help anyone if you drive yourself crazy over it. Plus you have the finals to consider. If you fail them it's a victory for Angelus. I guess. You think he would be happy if you fail your finals?"
Despite herself Buffy smiled.
"I don't know. I'll ask him when I see him the next time."
"We'll figure out a way to beat him. We always do."
Buffy nodded. They always did, didn't they? They had beaten the Master, Spike, all the other assorted demon rabble. Of course 'they' had always included Angela. The female vampire that was helping them for reasons Buffy couldn't quite figure out.
Now she knew. Angela was human. Her evil half was piling up bodies. And Buffy didn't know if things would ever be the same again.
"Let's give it another try." Buffy resolved, pushing the thoughts away. "We have one more hour to kill until the meeting. Maybe something will stick."
"Okay," Willow nodded, "if you combine these molecules in this way..."
Buffy was playing with her pencil when it slipped from her fingers and rolled into the gap between the two desks.
"Hold that thought!" She told Willow, bending down, fingers searching for the lost pencil. Instead they found something else.
"Look at that!" Buffy said, producing a computer disk from between the desks. "You must have dropped that one."
Willow took it, looking at the disk.
"That's not one of mine. Must belong to Ms. Calendar."
Buffy suddenly realized that Jenny had probably been sitting at this very desk, working late, when Angelus had come after her. It sent a shiver down her spine, despite the comforting daylight that fell in through the windows.
Willow inserted the disk into the PC and looked at the contents.
"It's some kind of notes. Parts of it are in a language I can't make much sense of, but..."
Willow fell silent as an image appeared on the screen. It was a picture of the magic wand Drusilla had used on Angela just hours before she had been split into two people.
"The Wand of Toth," Buffy read, wide-eyed, "its magic splits a person in two, giving one half all the positive attributes, the other all the negative ones."
"It's the spell!" Willow whispered, not believing what she saw. "This is what happened to Angela."
"Jenny knew." Buffy realized. "She found out what had happened and that's why Angelus tried to kill her."
"We have to get this to Giles!"
Angela arrived last, having made her way here from her apartment. The short route had tired her out more than she believed possible and she dropped into the nearest chair, closing her eyes to get her rapid breathing back under control.
"So what's the big news?" Xander asked, looking curiously at the disheveled woman sitting beside him.
Giles had come in from the hospital, though it appeared like he had taken the time to shower and change clothes sometime since Buffy had last seen him. He was still unshaven, though, and looked in desperate need of sleep.
Cordelia was sitting beside Xander on the table, looking serious for a change. What had happened to Ms. Calendar had managed to break even her normally impenetrable façade.
"We found a disk of Ms. Calendar." Willow announced, rearranging the printouts she had made from said disk for the hundredth time. "It appears that she had done quite a bit of research on her own."
"A lot more successful than ours, too." Buffy added, casting worried glances at Angela. She had read what Jenny had written in her files and it had done nothing to soothe her fears. Quite the opposite, actually.
"What did she find out?" Giles asked, looking more alive now than he had since Jenny had been brought into the hospital. "Did she learn anything about the spell that was used?"
"Yes." Willow explained. "The Wand of Toth apparently has the power to split a person in two. Sort of like that old Star Trek episode, you know? The one where Captain Kirk got split in two by the transporter system. One good, one evil."
Angela and Giles looked rather clueless, but Xander nodded, understanding.
"Does that mean we have to put them back together somehow?" He asked. "I mean, in the episode they had to put both Kirks back into the transporter and..."
"We are not talking TV here!" Giles interrupted them rather forcefully. "Did Jenny write anything more about this magic?"
"Yes! Apparently Toth used this wand against his enemies. After the split the two halves would either kill each other, being completely opposed morally, or would be easy pickings for him to kill."
Giles nodded, understanding. "So Drusilla somehow acquired this wand from Toth and it split Angela into her vampire half and her human half. The question remains, though, what now? Can they stay like this forever?"
Willow shook her head, not really knowing how to broach this subject.
"Jenny wrote something about the nature of the split as well. Apparently she found it in some kind of online database about spells and such. I took a look at it, it's quite complete. I bookmarked it for the next time we might need to research..."
"The spell, Willow!" Giles reminded her.
"Oh, sorry. The spell. It appears that the split isn't complete. They're not really two people, just two halves of the same whole. They remain connected, though that bond will fade more and more with time."
Angela closed her eyes. She had suspected as much. The echoes she received from Angelus, be they of pain or pleasure, had gotten a lot weaker over the last months.
"They will never be two separate individuals, though." Willow continued. "They're like... like two halves of a brain. One can not live without the other."
Buffy was looking at Angela with an intensity that almost made the former vampire flinch. She had read all this before. She knew what it meant.
"So if we kill Angelus..." Xander said, figuring it out.
"... Angela will die as well." Willow said. "And there is more. As I said, the bond between them is fading the longer they stay apart. Neither is able to live without the other, though."
"What are you saying, Willow?" Angela asked the redhead, though she suspected that she already knew the horrible answer.
"Unless we find a way to merge you back together," Willow was avoiding Angela's gaze, "you will both die. And soon."
For a long moment there was nothing but shocked silence in the library.
"Willow," Giles began, cleaning his glasses, "are you sure... I mean, are you sure that Jenny reached the correct conclusions in her research? Something like this..."
"It's all correct as far as I can see." Willow said sadly. "Ms. Calendar researched this quite thoroughly. She also explained that, as the bond between the two halves fades, they will both go through changes."
"What kind of changes?" Buffy asked. She hadn't read that far. Everything after the fact that Angela would soon die unless they found a way to reunite her with Angelus had seemed very unimportant to her.
"Essentially the wand split the human from the demon." Willow explained. "For the human it means that, as she is essentially ... well ... you know ... dead." She cringed at saying the word. "It means that, as the demon magic that animates her body fades..."
"I am dying." Angela concluded, seeming strangely untouched by it all. "My body will return to its true state. Dead."
"Yes." Willow continued, wringing the printouts between her hands until the paper started to tear. "And Angelus, he ... well, he will get more ... demony. Without the human half to limit him he will grow stronger and stronger, losing all human traits along the way."
"He is turning into a pure vampire demon." Giles said, taking off his glasses. "But such an entity can not exist in this dimension for any length of time without a human host."
"That's what Jenny theorized, too." Willow nodded. "Angelus will grow ever stronger, but eventually he will fade as he loses his hold on this plain."
"Meaning he will die, too." Angela said calmly. A strange kind of peace seemed to settle over her features.
"Is there anything else in there?" Buffy asked, jumping to her feet, filled with the need to do something. "Did Jenny find a way to reunite Angela and Angelus?"
Willow opened her mouth, but was cut off by Angela.
"That will never happen, Buffy!" She said resolutely. "I won't become one with Angelus again. Under no circumstances."
Buffy looked at her, aghast.
"But... but didn't you listen? If we don't reunite you..."
"He will die. As will I. Something that should have happened 250 years ago."
"Don't talk like that!" Buffy yelled at her. "I won't allow you to..."
"It's not your choice, Buffy!" Angela cut her off again. "It's mine. I will not let that monster back inside me. He will die, nothing else matters. The world will be a much better place without him."
"But not without you!" Buffy shook her head, her eyes brimming with tears. "How can you expect me to just watch you wither away in front of me, knowing that there is a way to safe you?"
"You won't have to." Angela resolved. "I am sorry, Buffy, but this is my life. My choice. I will do what is necessary."
With that she began to turn away.
"What is necessary?" Buffy ran after her, grabbing her by the shoulder. "You mean kill yourself? Commit suicide only to take that bastard with you? Is that what you plan on doing? Stab a knife into your heart? Or maybe throw yourself off a building?"
"Let me go, Buffy!" Angela said without looking at the Slayer. If she looked into her eyes Buffy would see how much this was hurting her, too.
"I won't! I won't just let you go away and kill yourself! We'll find a way to beat Angelus! Maybe we'll find a way to save you without keeping him alive, but I won't just let you do this!"
"Buffy..." Angela began again.
"Shut up!" The Slayer yelled. "I'll knock you out if I have to. You're not a vampire any longer, you can't match strength with me. I'll keep you here by force!"
Shaking her head Angela finally turned to look at her, tears shimmering in her own eyes.
"You think I want to do this?" She asked with a shaky voice. "You think I want to give up this human life after it was returned to me? But I can't become one with him again! I just can't! You don't know what it is like to live with something like that inside of you, hearing it whisper to you night after night. Telling me of all the things it would like to do. To you. To your friends. I can't shut it out, I can't make it stop! There is this terrible darkness inside me and it hurts so much."
Swallowing back the tears she gathered her resolve again.
"Angelus has to die, Buffy! There is no other way."
Buffy refused to be shaken.
"He will die if we do nothing." She reminded Angela. "We don't know how long you have, but probably not a long time. If we don't find a way to ... I don't know, transfer his magic to you without taking the demon or... I don't know how this will work, but I know that he, and you, will die if we leave things as they are. So please give us that time to look for another way! Don't just give up on yourself, Angela! Please!"
Seeing the desperation on Buffy's face caused tears to trail down Angela's cheeks. God, why did this have to happen? Why did she have to fall for this beautiful girl? Why did Buffy have to have such strong feelings for her in return, whatever they might be? Why hadn't the Gypsies just killed her all these years ago?
Everything inside her was screaming to end it here and now. Put an end to her miserable existence and thereby rid the world of Angelus forever. Only she saw that it would rip out Buffy's heart as well. God, for so long had she hoped, though never believed it possible, that Buffy would return her feelings. How often had she prayed for some miracle that would turn her back to her true self, a man, so she could give Buffy all the love she so richly deserved.
Now it seemed that part of her hopes and dreams had come true. Why now? Why just now?
"Buffy, please..." She began, knowing that she was losing this battle.
"Promise me!" The Slayer insisted. "Promise that you will give us the chance to look for some way to save you! You owe me that much, damn it!"
Finally Angela nodded, resigning. "Very well. Whatever time I have left. But I will not allow you to put yourself in deadly danger to save me, Buffy. I'm not worth your life."
Buffy was about to answer that when the doors of the library flew open and admitted a newcomer to the scene. One who stopped in her tracks, seeing the many people gathered in the library.
"Is this a bad time?" Kendra asked.
TO BE CONTINUED