A/N: Previously in Chapter 3
Buffy once again drew her sword from its scabbard; she placed it in front of herself, holding the approaching vampire at a sword's distance away.
"You wouldn't actually kill me, would you, lover?"
With a smirk of her own, Buffy asked, "What kept you?"
A/N: Starting here and for the rest of the story, double equals (== ==) will indicate Angelus' silent communication with Buffy and double back slashes (\\ \\) will indicate Buffy's silent communication with Angelus. I hope this is not too confusing.
Buffy's words stopped Angelus cold.
==You knew? How did you know? I never contacted you – not once.==
\\You didn't have to contact me, not directly. On the rare occasions when you and I were awake and Angel was asleep, I could hear your thoughts. Not clearly at first, but I could still hear them.
\\When I first started hearing you, soon after I was brought back, I thought I was losing my mind. I would hear what sounded like Angel's voice, but I knew it couldn't be him, because when we met after I came back, he said he wasn't going to contact me again, that he was moving on with his life; that told me one thing - it had to be you.
\\Since he left Sunnydale, he always kept the link between us closed, but not you. It was some time before I realized it was you I was hearing. I could feel your grieving and your thoughts of love for me, but I couldn't get through to you because of Angel's block. Even when he was was asleep, I couldn't get through.\\
Angelus could barely believe what he was hearing. There were times when he had almost given up hope of some kind of future for the two of them. Now she was standing right in front of him saying that she had tried to reach him.
==I thought you heard and just ignored me.==
\\No. I would never ignore you. While I was upstairs, I heard and saw a lot that I never would have known down here. I...\\
The others in the room could not hear the communication between Buffy and (what they assumed to be) Angel. All they knew was that something was happening between the two of them, they just didn't know what.
Buffy's words were interrupted by Giles' voice. "Buffy, what is going on? I thought you and Angel were over; why are you just staring at each other?"
She looked at Giles without answering, held up a hand to him asking for a moment and turned back to Angelus.
==We have to tell them everything, love; they have a right to know and we need to start with a clean slate between you and me as well as between us and them.==
\\I won't lose you over this. I mean it.\\
==You won't lose me; whether the others accept me or not, I will never leave you. Never!==
By now the sword that she had been holding was back in its scabbard and she and Angelus were nearly nose to nose.
"Buffy, we're still waiting."
Before she could reply, Angelus spoke up and said, "Why don't all of you get some refreshments before we begin, then join me in the office? This will take a while."
Without even asking him what he meant, everyone headed to the bar where Lorne stood, got their beverages and found seats in (what was) Angel's office.
Angelus sat at the desk with Buffy next to him. The first words he spoke were probably the last ones his audience expected to hear from him. He began a tale that all of the listeners (other than Buffy) found so impossible to believe.
He started with, "My name is Angelus and I am a demon, but I am not the monster you assume that I am. The essence and the soul of the human named Liam O'Rourke have been released; neither will ever return to this body."
Before he could continue he was interrupted by Giles who still had nightmares from being tortured by Angelus years before. "What do you mean by "the essence of the human named Liam O'Rourke"? Are you telling us that a portion of the man has survived for two and a half centuries?"
"That is exactly what I'm telling you. It is because of the surviving essence of Liam O'Rourke that the being you know as Angelus was so violent."
"I don't believe that. How can even a portion of a human being exist without a soul, without a conscience, and for two and a half centuries? That is impossible."
"If his soul is a man's conscience as you seem to believe, that would imply that many humans exist without a soul, otherwise, how would you explain the truly evil acts that some humans commit?
"Look, I am not versed in your religious beliefs and I do not judge what a man believes in his heart; what I do know is that, once the soul was gone, I was the only conscience here. Without me and the soul you have Liam O'Rourke, the worst good for nothing womanizing, murdering scoundrel I've ever met. He truly is a monster."
"If I am understanding you correctly," Wesley interjected, "when we removed Angel's soul, that still left you, Angelus, and the human essence."
"That is correct."
"Why didn't you let us know then?"
"I had no control over Liam. Without the soul, my influence on him is minimal."
Giles was getting more and more incensed. "I don't believe a word you're saying. If you are such a good little demon, then why were you such a monster when you were released in Sunnydale? You murdered dozens of people, stalked Buffy and her friends and tortured me for hours."
Angelus raised his voice, not liking the fact that Giles refused to believe him. "Haven't you heard anything I've said? That wasn't me; that was Liam. Without a soul he is more powerful than I am. I was still there and could only minimally influence him as far as Buffy was concerned, I couldn't keep him from killing the others, or," he looked at Giles and lowered his voice, "from torturing you.
"I have much more influence over the soul than I do over Liam without a soul; that is why with a soul, he thinks he loves Buffy, he doesn't; those are my thoughts and the soul can't tell the difference.
"I am the one that is in love with Buffy, not Liam, and Buffy knows it. Why do you think she couldn't kill me when the soul was lost before; because she loves me; she is just afraid to admit it, afraid she'll lose you and her friends, afraid you'll look at her differently for loving a demon.
"You have no idea the things that he wants to do to her, even with the soul, and I won't let him. I have a greater influence on the soul than I have ever had on Liam himself."
Being more pragmatic at the moment, Wesley wanted more information. "Tell us more about Angelus, the demon."
Angelus stared at him for long moments before deciding to speak. He turned to look at Buffy who nodded, indicating that he should go ahead.
The more he spoke, the more emotional some of those listening became. The females in the room, Buffy, Willow and Fred along with Lorne were openingly weeping. Buffy knew bits and pieces of the story from hearing Angelus' thoughts for more than a year and a half, but to hear Angelus tell his story was heartbreaking.
According to him, he is descendent from a race of human-like demons whose only weaknesses were a wooden stake through the heart and the need for blood, not necessarily human blood, to sustain them.
His ancestors lived off the blood of animals which they raised and never killed unless the animal was old and suffering. To the outside world they looked like large families of humans who bred animals. What the outside world did not know was that the food that was bought and prepared was for the animals, not the people.
His ancestors fell on the wrong side of a powerful and evil sorcerer and alchemist who wanted their queen for his bride. When her father refused to give up his daughter to this monster, he cursed Angelus' ancestors, making them and their descendants allergic to sunlight, fire and holy objects, condemning them to be incorporeal beings living in darkness.
His ancestors were intelligent, strong and impervious to human diseases and they eventually found a way to pass their unborn off-spring on to humans, but in doing so had to eject the human soul in order to retain control of the body. Without a soul a human body dies, but is sustained and animated by the presence of the demon.
New vampires are by nature initially violent, particularly if there is a human being nearby when they rise. Afterward, their disposition is greatly determined by the influence of their sire. If there is significant residual human essence left after the joining of the human and the demon, then that plays greatly on the kind of vampire it will be.
If, as in Liam's case, the human was completely lacking in moral decency, so will the vampire be. Couple that with the kind of sire Darla was and you get what you know as Angelus.
If the body which is inhabited is damaged beyond the demon's ability to repair it, then the demon dies when the body does. The demon cannot just transfer to another human body.
When asked whether or not the demons can inhabit the bodies of animals as well as humans, Angelus' reply was simple. "We can, but what self respecting demon would want to live as a being that much lower than itself? It is bad enough having to live in the body of a human."
Wesley and those in the room from Sunnydale recalled with clear details the impact of certain poisons on Angel. Angelus let them know that there were a few other rare drugs that would kill him, but he did not go into specifics.
It was at this point that Angelus told them a bit about the history of the slayer.
"Contrary to what your Watchers' Council teaches, or taught," Angelus told Giles and Wesley, "my race created the first slayer. Her purpose was to kill destructive beings such as Liam, not to kill all demon/human hybrids, called vampires by humans."
From the way Angelus spoke the word "vampire", it was obvious to those listening that he resented the term.
The blood of the slayer was meant to be the only drug needed to heal a sick or badly injured vampire. When it was realized that the blood of the slayer not only healed, but strengthened as well, some of the vampires got greedy and started hunting the slayers.
It was then that humans took control of the slayer line. They changed the purpose of the slayer and how she was called to the current day process.
Originally a slayer could be male or female, was chosen and trained at age 18 and called at age 21 to be a slayer for one year with another year's commitment to help the next slayer and then returned to their normal life. Overall the slayer's commitment was at most 5 years; almost no slayers died then. All of that changed when the Watchers' Council took over.
The two watchers and the slayer present thought how much better it would be if that process continued today. Being called to be a slayer would not be seen as a death sentence; the slayer could look forward to a life after her commitment to her slayer duties.
After hearing Angelus' story, Giles regretted his harsh words earlier. "What was the name of the sorcerer who cursed you? Maybe we can look him up, find out how he cursed you, and reverse it."
"We have tried. For millennia we have tried. The day after he cursed us, he destroyed all evidence of his work and burned down his house, with himself inside. He left nothing. His hatred of us was complete, as was his vengeance."
"What are your plans for now, Angelus?"
"I'm not sure, Wes. We could continue Angel Investigations, but there would have to be some changes in the way we operate. There is no redemption for me since I did not commit the crimes that Liam did, and as a demon I don't expect that the Powers would be interested in having me as one of their warriors. Besides, I will not stay away from Buffy again. She has died twice and I wasn't there to help; I won't let that happen again if I can at all prevent it."
"Why did you say that the Powers would not be interested in having you as one of their warriors?" Willow wanted to know. "After all, they knew what you were before they chose you."
"Yes," Buffy supplied, "but they also knew that he had a soul which they could manipulate as they wished, dangle the paradise carrot or the Shanshu carrot in front of him to keep him in line."
Angelus smiled at Buffy. She never ceased to amaze him.
"She is right; that is how the Powers have been controlling the soul for years. Whenever the soul strayed, they just dangled something else in front of him."
Gunn spoke up then. "There are still people in LA that need help and I'm sure that we can find some of them even without a seer."
"He's right, Angelus." Buffy took his hand interlacing her fingers with his. "Just remember what I said."
He flashed his little half smile that quickly became a smirk as he raised their hands and bent to place a kiss on the back of her hand that was still interlaced with his own. Then, looking directly into her eyes, he said,
==Just make sure you remember what's ahead for you and my grand-childe.==
Buffy's face turned beet-red.