Chapter 5: Showdown at the Hyperion
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. The Sentinel characters belong to UPN, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
A/N: In response to Challenge 398: Oz and the Sentinel by tals and Challenge 934: Buffy/Oz by SlayerandWereLeopard.
A/N2: Thanks to my betas…zigpal, RevDorothyL, Dianasis, tvbuff and Ailsam.
Hyperion Hotel, LA
As soon as they stepped through the door, a quiet little girl welcomed them and inquired what they needed help with. Buffy told Fred – the girl – that she was a friend of Angel's from Sunnydale and needed to talk to him. Fred started babbling about how the 'handsome man' just got bad news from that town and she hoped it wasn't anything like that.
Before it got any further, Wesley walked into the room to see who Fred was talking to and declared, "Buffy! We heard that you were dead!"
Buffy gave a sardonic chuckle before she answered, "Yeah, except the gang decided to bring me back. I'd rather only go through it once, so if you could get Angel in here, please?"
The ex-Watcher nodded thoughtfully, "Of course. Just a moment." As he made his way from the room, his mind was racing with the possibilities of what had happened…most of them not pleasant.
Within minutes, the lobby was filled with the whole team, including Lorne, who was just checking in before going to his recently re-opened club, Caritas. Angel rushed to Buffy's side when he saw her, sweeping her into his arms and murmuring sweet declarations in her ear that he thought only she could hear. Only when Oz coughed discreetly did he notice her small entourage.
"Who are your new friends?"Angel asked with a tinge of annoyance.
Turning to her guys, Buffy started the introductions: "Well, you know Oz, of course. These are new friends of his that he met when he was learning to handle his wolfy side. This is Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. Guys, this is Angel, and that's Cordelia, Wesley, and some other people I don't know…and a demon of some kind."
The Host stepped forward in a non-threatening fashion to address the heaven-torn Slayer, "Name's Lorne, sweetness. I'm strictly a non-fighter variety demon. In fact, my specialty is in reading people. It's easiest for me if they sing, but you are projecting like a neon sign. How are you coping?" he inquired gently.
She gave him an uneasy look, trying to decide if he was being sincere. In the end, Buffy figured she'd have to tell the group anyway so she shrugged, "As well as can be expected, I guess. So I take it you can see where I was?" she asked softly.
"Can practically see the clouds, darling," the green demon responded with a sad smile.
Angel straightened up at the exchange, realizing that there was more not being said between the two. "What do you mean? Where were you?" he demanded.
As Buffy started her story, she pulled away from Angel and sat down between Oz and Jim, staying on the edge of the couch. The more she told about the spell and what happened afterwards, the more she unconsciously leaned into Oz for comfort – to the point of him needing to put his arm around her shoulders just to stay comfortable.
What really surprised everyone in the room was when she reached for Jim's hand and held onto it like it was a lifeline. Buffy felt instantly at ease, and Jim was more than happy to help her out. Especially at the expense of the vampire. He knew from Oz that this Angel guy was on their side, but those things he heard the vamp whispering to Buffy made his senses go on full alert. Even the green demon didn't bother him as much Buffy's ex did.
Angel supposedly let Buffy go a couple years ago so she could have a normal life – whatever that meant to a Slayer – but it was clear that he still saw her as his. If she was to heal properly, they would have to keep this vamp far away from her, as he would only confuse her with his continued mixed signals.
He noticed that Oz had a similar look of satisfaction in being one of the people Buffy turned to for comfort instead of her first love. Now all he had to do was find out what Blair thought – although he had a pretty good guess. It would take a lot for anyone to break through her new line of protectors, and if this vampire with a soul tried it, he would suddenly find himself in an ashtray.
Angel was still stinging from Buffy pulling away from his embrace before. When he saw her hand grasp the tall man's, his demon pushed forward and he let out a low, possessive growl. To make matters worse, Buffy only gave him a vague look, then continued her story without even considering his feelings. Plus, he didn't miss the smirk on Jim's face.
Wesley watched the drama unfolding and decided to interrupt before anything could happen between the two large men. "We kind of missed part of the introductions earlier. This is Winifred – or Fred – Burkle and Charles Gunn. He goes by Gunn, though. Can we do anything to help, Buffy?" he inquired earnestly.
Buffy shook her head slightly, knowing how he meant it and knowing that they couldn't. "Just help Giles get Faith out so she can take over slaying. I know that he'll have to be her Watcher after what she did to you, Wes. And he can't go to the Council and request another Watcher or they will probably just kill her to get a new Slayer," she explained. Wes gave her a grateful look that she wasn't asking him to be near Faith – rehabilitated or not.
Cordelia – who was getting jealous of the looks Angel was shooting Buffy – said snidely, "So where are you going to go while psycho girl is doing your job?"
Not sure of why Queen C was making an appearance, but not really caring either, Buffy just remarked, "First of all, it's her job and has been since Kendra died. Secondly, Whistler said I couldn't stay on the Hellmouth anymore; just the energies coming from it would poison my soul. So the PTB decided to send Oz to take me away to recover after being yanked out of heaven."
Oz gave her a comforting squeeze and glared at Cordelia. Buffy gave him a smile and continued, "I assume that once I can get up in the morning without wanting to go back there, they'll want me to start slaying somewhere else in the world. You guys prove that not all demonic evil is on the Hellmouth. I'm sure that I'll find my own place to fight the good fight somewhere…after I can handle the simple task of living again."
"She'll be coming back with us, and we'll help her with that. Jim and Blair have done wonders for me, and I think that between the three of us, she'll have all the support she needs," Oz said before Angel could interrupt. He had never said much in the past, but he didn't believe the ensouled vampire was good for his friend.
Blair – who wasn't completely oblivious to the power struggle going on in the room over the blonde Slayer – added his opinion with a cheerful smile, "Yeah, I can already see that Jim feels at ease with her – which is interesting, since they normally would be fighting for dominance. We'll take good care of her," he promised the group.
"Maybe we could help you, Buffy," Angel offered with a pleading tone. He hated the idea that someone else would help her heal. That was his job – even if they had their own baggage to deal with.
Buffy recognized the possessive attitude her ex was sporting and decided to squash it gently, "No, you were right the last time I was in LA; this is your town. It's better if I have a fresh start. Besides, there's too much demonic energy here, and I'd just get sucked back into slaying before I was ready for it. Oz said the small demon community in their town is mostly non-violent. That would be a huge weight off my shoulders."
She gave the group a small grin before suggesting, "But if you really want to help me, please help Faith. Without the Scoobies to help her and Giles out, she could really use some back-up until she feels more confident about herself."
As they were leaving the hotel, Blair saw the glare on Angel's face and felt a perverse need to tweak the vampire a bit. He casually put his arm around Buffy's waist and pulled her closer to his side. He caught the amused expression on Jim's face when he noticed Buffy respond by returning the gesture and leaning her head on his shoulder.
Once they got to the van, Buffy turned to her men and asked with a smirk, "So, are you three done marking me as your territory?" When they hung their heads in shame, she laughed to let them know she wasn't upset. "Don't worry, I'll let it go this time. Angel had to learn the lesson that I'm not his concern anymore. I only hope that you weren't doing it just to bug him."
Oz chuckled lightly, "Nah, that was just a perk."
"What Oz said," Blair agreed sheepishly.
Putting his hands on her shoulders to get her attention, Jim looked her straight in the eye. "I hope this doesn't come out too chauvinistic, but you are ours to protect and help. And if we thought that he could actually do you any good, we would be alright with his assistance. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that he would only tear you in two directions with his possessive, yet distant act." The other two nodded their agreement.
Buffy slapped him playfully on the chest before getting in the vehicle. "Normally, I'd smack you – hard – for the attitude, but unfortunately you're right this time. I need help, and Angel isn't the right one to give it to me. Guess you three will have to do. So, what's there to do in Cascade for fun?" she asked with a hint of excitement as she buckled up.
A/N: Next…The sequel, set in Cascade, Washington.