Title: Guardians of the Light
Rating: Probably T just to play it safe. I'll tell you if it strays off into R territory.
Summary: The gang tries to recover from losing to the bad guys with a new adventure.
Pairings: Wesley/Faith, Angel/Cordy, etc., etc.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I can't make any money off of this, because it all belongs to someone else. He just lets writers play with them for a while. I'll put them back when I'm done.
Notes: Sequel to "Guardian Angel", "Guardians of the Gate", and "Guardians of Forever". If you want know what's happening, it might be a good idea to read the other three first, or you might be a little lost. Timeline wise, this story takes place approximately one year after "Not Fade Away", Angel season five. So if you haven't seen S5, there are spoilers.
Guardians of the Light
Chapter One—Starting Over, Again?
This was just not working, Faith thought. Really, really not working. As she squeezed by yet another teenager to go to the bathroom, Faith wanted to yell uncle. It had taken them a few weeks to settle all the girls, but they had done it. Many of them had returned to their homes instead of sticking it out in England. Giles didn't have any other choice in the matter since he could not feed, clothe, and house that many people. Fortunately, their watchers traveled with them. Until they could figure out why all their powers had disappeared, the girls would need protection, someone to look out for them.
A few of the baby slayers did not have homes to go back to, so they stayed. Those numbers were around twenty. Giles had managed to house that many people. It was the money that was in scarce supply. Pooling resources from lots of places, he managed it, for now.
Roger Wyndam-Pryce had taken over. Most of the council was on his side too. A few of them had sided with Giles, but that didn't matter. All Roger was in charge of were some buildings, records, and some black ops guys.
Faith was vulnerable. She knew that. Wesley had taken to carrying weapons with him wherever they went, which wasn't too many places lately. They kept a low profile, which was driving her nuts.
Giles had four bedrooms in his cozy, little cottage. They had converted his library into another one, bringing it to five. Wes had insisted that the two of them share a room, if just so he could protect her. Snuggling with him in a room smaller than a closet was alright in her book because the damn house was drafty as hell. As she slid in beside him, she heard him moan a little in his sleep as she put placed her cold feet next to his.
His mighty magicks were still around too, swirling at the crappiest moments, like when some guy delivered a package. Wes thought they were under attack. Poor guy was slammed up against the porch faster than she could snap her fingers.
Was this situation permanent? Would they ever regain control of the Watchers' Council? Heck, she'd settle for her slayer powers back. All they had going for them were Willow and Wesley's power, with a bonus of portal wielding Dawn and her insights. Now that was kind of freaky. No vampire strength, no slayer strength, just wards and portals and magic. Even Giles hadn't regained any of his power, which made him so grumpy.
Giles had turned his barn into a dormitory of sorts for the rest of the girls left in his charge. Everyone shared responsibilities, including cleaning, cooking, tending to Giles' horses. Whatever needed to be done, there was a schedule.
Stretching her arms over her head, Faith glanced at the small clock on the table beside her bed. It wasn't quite six in the morning. The sun was just starting to crest over the hill. As she looked out the window, she saw the morning fog lift as the sun touched the green fields off in the distance. It certainly was beautiful here.
Looking down at the sleeping form beside her, it could be said of him too. Wes looked so peaceful when he was sleeping, unlike when he was awake. Tense was the only word she could use to describe him. Hell, she had to tackle him at least twice a day to bring him out of his brooding. Tickles and/or sex did put him in a much better mood.
They were squeezed into a twin bed in a room tinier than her cell in prison. That didn't matter though. What mattered was they were together. Nothing was going to tear them apart this time. No fucking thing, especially good old daddy Pryce.
He had made overtures to Wes, but Wes had refused to even answer the inquiries. Good for him. His daddy really did suck. The frown that Wesley had on his face while sleeping worried her. His nightmares worried her more. He'd wake sometimes, screaming and thrashing. Once he'd screamed so loud, Giles and Angel had come running, thinking they were under attack. Angel's pained expression had scared her even more though. Angel had become broodier than Wes.
That was why she was glad that the kids were around. Dawn and Connor had caused a lot of mischief and a little happiness around the house. Angel and Buffy had tried to keep the two away from each other, but it just wasn't working. But hey, Angel was getting quality time with his kid, so all of that was good.
Fred had taken to playing house mother to the younger slayer girls, giving her lots of time away from Wes. Faith was glad for that. Although it seemed that Wes didn't care, sometimes she caught him gazing at the slim girl, with that far-away look on his face. Faith would try to laugh it off, but that worried her too. Crap, she was tired of having to worry about stuff.
Wes twisted in the sheets. She hoped that another nightmare wasn't going to happen. They seemed to be more frequent lately. Faith traced the frown lines on his forehead, then replacing her finger with her mouth, gently placing kisses along the worst of them. He relaxed in his sleep, snuggling up against her tighter. Faith had taken to actually wearing clothes to bed after accidentally flashing Spike one early morning. Spike had gotten a show and didn't mind, but she did.
Wes's scratchy beard rubbed against her neck, but she didn't mind one bit. His knee between her legs warmed her considerably. The hand traveling up her back made her realize that Wes was now awake, fully awake. She gave him just a little more access to her neck. His lips replaced the stubble, making her groan just a little.
"You've turned into a morning person, my dear," Wesley whispered in her ear as his hand made it down to her backside.
She had turned into a morning person. In her former life, she usually slayed until the sun came up. Not anymore. It was kind of nice to wake up to this. She let Wes explore a little more before she joined in. Nice way to wake up in the morning. They would just have to be really quiet.
Wes stifled her squeal that was building in her with a kiss. As he moved over top of her, she wondered why she deserved a man like him. But just sex couldn't keep him happy for long. He wasn't exactly that kind of guy, although she knew he certainly did enjoy their time in bed together. When would he get bored of her?
"Stop thinking," Wes whispered in her ear as he slowly moved over her.
Then he worked his magical hands and all was forgotten, making her get caught up in the moment, forgetting that the thing that made her special had been taken away. The bed creaked a little, the room smelled of old books, and the house was about to fall down around their ears, but right at that moment, she didn't care one bit. She had her man, would keep her man, and would fight anyone who tried to take away her man, even if it meant that the person she took down was a friend. Everyone better watch out. Wes was hers.
Angel had always enjoyed mornings in Ireland as a boy. The sweet smell of the flowers in the morning dew teased his senses, making him remember what it was like so long ago. The way the sun hit the ground, warming it, almost making it glow as the sun rose over the horizon. Angel had missed watching the sun rise. Vampires had to be wary of the sun because it had a way of burning one to ash. Sleeping with the window slightly ajar, Angel took a deep breath as he got up from his bed, raring to go.
He bet that everyone else was still asleep, until he heard noises from the next room. Figures. Faith had taken to being a morning person, which he thought was a little funny. Turns out he was on his way to being one also. With an early start, he could get all that he needed to get done during the day, leaving the night to relax, read, study, avoid Cordy, not all in that order.
Angel almost yelled at the two next door to keep it down, but he just couldn't. Not like he couldn't fault them for being happy, if you could call Wes happy. Sure, he was happy when he was around Faith. Otherwise, his attitude sucked just as much as Angel's did.
Faith made Wes sane. Cordy made Angel crazy. Her mood swings would challenge even the most patient man. Not that she wasn't like this when he first met her. He knew though that she was having a difficult time adjusting. There just wasn't much for her to do. Being a god-like creature had kept her busy. Now she was just human. As was he.
Angel did enjoy going out in the middle of the day, without protection of any sort. He'd actually gained some color on his cheeks and even once sunburned his back. Cordy insisted on buying him the strongest sunscreen she could find. Spike ignored the warning and was burned all over. That Angel got a kick out of. Spike luckily had found something to keep him busy, which was to help out Fred.
Angel had become a farmer. Helping Giles out around his farm, he tended to the horses, mended fences, occasionally built stuff, just like he did back home in Ireland, when he wasn't drunk and chasing women that is.
As he opened the door to his room, Cordy appeared directly in front of him, carrying a change of clothes and shoes. Her hair was tousled from sleep, no makeup to speak of, and eyes still heavy-lidded. She'd obviously not had any coffee as yet. He wondered if it would be safe to even say hello.
"Hey," he whispered.
"Hey," she answered back.
"Long day ahead. Giles actually has a project for me."
Angel thought that maybe Giles was losing his mind trying to run this place, but he didn't voice that opinion in front of Cordy. Anything to get her up out of bed and busy was good in his book.
"That's good," Angel hesitated.
"Totally. Really getting tired of sitting on my ass all day, if you know what I mean. Not like I can do much else."
"Know what you mean."
They both shook their heads yes, like they did know what each other meant and then just stood there looking at each other. This is where they usually fell down on the job. Small talk was one thing. Intimate talk just didn't exist for them, yet.
"I probably should get in there before everyone else wakes up."
Angel moved over slightly for Cordy to pass. They brushed arms, sending little sparks up and down Angel's side. Before Cordy could get too far away from him, Angel touched her shoulder, making her turn.
"Maybe I could help you with your little project. If it's not too much trouble."
"Maybe. Giles needs someone to take over the finances. Not like I've handled cash in any form for a while, but I do know how to count and pinch pennies."
Angel grimaced when he heard that. He never wanted to deal with money. It was always Cordy's responsibility, which probably wasn't the smartest thing that he ever did. She sure did keep herself in nice shoes. But they all had money to pay rent and for food, so she must have been doing something right.
He hadn't let go of her arm until she looked down at the contact between the two. Angel jerked his hand away, almost like he'd been shocked. Cordy turned her head slightly, in a gesture of trying to hide her emotions from him.
Before she could turn to make her getaway, her hands came up to the sides of her head, holding it in pain. Her pain was his pain because he really felt like doing the same damn thing. Angel was able to catch her before she fell over, taking the two of them to the ground hard. It took a few moments for Cordy to come back to herself. Breathing hard, she slumped over against him for support.
Oh no, he thought. This can't be happening. She's not half demon anymore. Those visions were supposed to be gone. She died for those visions. He had almost died for those visions. She raised her head, not quite focusing on him. It was then that he realized what she had seen. He had seen it too.
Angel had collapsed on the ground right along with her, but hadn't realized it at the time. His concern for Cordy's well-being was first and foremost in his mind. The flashes were just confusing. How was Cordelia ever able to figure out the visions and what they meant? Practice. Lots and lots of practice. Doyle hadn't ever been that good at it.
"Did you just feel that?" she asked as he heard noises off in the distance.
"What just happened? Vision?"
"Double vision. That was just too freaky."
Cordy still held on to him, anchored by him. Wesley poked his head out the door, sans shirt with Faith not far behind, with a sheet wrapped around her.
"Is everything alright?" Wes asked. "There was a noise."
Faith's eyebrows rose as she saw the two of them intertwined on the floor. Angel scowled back at her as he helped Cordy to her feet, not letting go just in case she wasn't steady. Of course, he couldn't ignore the fact that his legs were still a little shaky.
"Guy in a pub. Fighting this monstrous demon. We need to help."
Faith disappeared back into her room as Wesley came out to help him with Cordy. He always did that, helped out after Cordy's visions. Angel could handle it. Couldn't he?
"Where? Did you have any indication of where this might take place?"
"Where's Giles? Maybe I can describe it."
Angel didn't hesitate. He knew exactly where the attack was going to take place. He'd been there with Spike not two days before. Spike had convinced him that it would be good to get away from all those girls for a pint.
Faith was a quick dresser, running back to join the group. She slapped a shirt in Wesley's hand, which he quickly put on. Angel didn't want to press, but Wes still had bruises that hadn't faded. Had Faith noticed them too? Another thing to worry about.
"I know exactly where the demon will strike."
Wes and Faith looked at him pointedly, wanting more info. "How?"
"Now the PTBs decided that they'd torture both of us," Cordy explained as they headed down the hall to the first floor.
Doyle wanted her back in the worst way. Selfish, yes. Stupid, yes. Going to happen? Probably not ever. If Cordelia ever died again, he doubted they'd put her back here with him. He wondered if the Powers would catch on to what he did. Since Angel didn't have any powers to speak of and Cordelia regained her visions, why not let her share?
He still hadn't figured out a way around the fact that Cordelia was only a human now, no half demon. Eventually those visions would kill her, just like they almost did the last time. Figuring that they would, he had arranged for her to be half demon, fooling Skip. Doyle didn't think it would fly this time though.
"Look at Mr. Goody Two Shoes. Getting your jollies this morning?"
Oh crap. Not what he needed at the moment. Lilah had come back not too long ago. Who decided that she deserved another chance? He'd never gotten a vote, not that anyone would care what he thought.
He was in charge of this little group for now. An addition of Lilah would not make a difference. Having her closer, instead of working against him, might give him an advantage. She knew how the enemy thought, knew what might be some of the possible scenarios that they might pull. Having a woman who was a little bit evil might just come in handy.
"Just the woman I wanted to speak with. I have a plan."
"The Cylons also had a plan and that didn't work out so well for them, now did it?"
Doyle laughed. "Watching too much television there darling."
Lilah smirked a little too. He knew she was pulling his chain, thinking he wouldn't know what on earth she was talking about. He saw what the damn watcher saw in her. Sex in heels, skirt slit up her thigh, shirt unbuttoned just to show a hint of what was underneath. She sure did play the role well. But he wouldn't fall for it.
"Oh, now that you asked, I have a plan to solve all this nonsense."
Lilah sauntered over to where he stood beside his new desk, which happened to once belong to Cordelia. He had left everything where she had left it. Her scent still lingered. Oh how he missed her. In heels, Lilah was as tall as he was. Looking at her eye to eye, he wondered if he should bring her in on this job.
One finger traced down his cheek, slid over his chin, down his throat. He caught it before it could go any further.
"You don't have to prostitute yourself for the job, sweetheart. It's yours if you just would ask."
Lilah didn't take kindly to his statement. From what he knew of her history, he probably wasn't far off from some of the things she had done while alive. She'd do anything to make it to the top. Or to get out of a hell dimension for good. The crack against his face sent him into a half-spin. She really did pack a good wallop. He was lucky she hadn't used her fist.
"Don't ever…" she started, only to be stopped by his hand.
She had started to take another swing at him, only he caught the offending arm before it made contact.
"I'm sorry. That was uncalled for. Just remember this, Lilah. I'm in charge here. You work hard, not get into any trouble, then we'll be square. Try anything evil, then it's back to that hell dimension you called home. Got it?"
"Clear, boss." Lilah jerked her arm out of his grasp.
"Now that we've cleared the air, let's get down to business."
Shit, Doyle felt awful. He had figuratively hit her when she was down, not that she didn't have it coming, if just a little. He knew though that she'd test the boundaries more than once with him in charge. He didn't know her as well as Cordelia had. Keeping her close would be the best idea.
"I have a job for you."
"Oh, double vision. That doesn't sound good," Dawn pointed out as they loaded up Giles's SUV.
Cordy didn't want to have visions at all, much less share them with Angel now. Who in hell thought that was a great idea? Doyle better not be involved, she thought. She'd reach through the dimensions and strangle him if he was. The funny thing was it didn't hurt as much. Sure, ouch with the headache still. Angel was still not too steady on his feet. He'd learn being Vision Boy that it wasn't so much fun. Probably already knew that, she thought. That vision she threw his way when he was at Wolfram and Hart was bad enough. She didn't want to be responsible for almost getting him killed with actually getting him killed for real this time.
So here they all were, all human (well, mostly all because she still didn't know what was wrong with Wes), going off to save some guy in a pub. She didn't like the fact that Wes was their only wild card, emphasis on wild. They never did know what would set him off. Giles just scratched his head and sighed. Willow kept to herself mostly, chanting a little, but not saying much to her at all. Buffy was nice, but not very talky. Dawn was way too talkative, so much so that Cordy had actually yelled at her to be quiet once or twice. Or three times. She'd lost count. Then there was Angel and Spike. Spike was enjoyable to be around mostly, but he spent a lot of time helping Fred, who spent a lot of time out of the house, avoiding Wes and Faith. And good old Faith, who much like her, didn't know what in hell to do with the rest of them. Faith was definitely not a hanger, as the case may be. She and Wes were joined at the hip.
That left Angel. Geez, if he touched her one more time and shocked her, she'd scream. It was like he was electrically charged or something. Sure, the vision thing was brand new. Blowing up a balloon one day, Cordy managed to place it on his head just to see if it stuck permanently. He had to pop the thing just to get rid of it. She could tell that it annoyed the crap out of him, but she had to get her fun from somewhere.
She wanted to spend time with him, talk to him like they used to talk. The words mostly would just not come. Then she'd yell and they'd fight and go off to neutral corners. Something had to give. She had nowhere else to go. No apartment, no clothes, no money, no job. Nothing. She was royally stuck. Those visions couldn't have come at a worse time.
So Faith, Wes, Angel, Spike, Giles, Buffy and herself all piled into Giles's old van, hoping against hope that they could stop one demon. Seven against one. She didn't like those odds one bit.