Deep down in the cargo hold of a freighter heading across the Atlantic Ocean towards Europe, Angel sulked.
That Irish vampire had already completed his daily quota of thinking darkly about the latest unwelcome events, but he'd been pacing himself enough so that carrying out a few more days of moping inside his sealed packing crate wouldn't be all that difficult. Unconsciously bracing his undead body while the box tilted back as a result of the ship meeting a large ocean wave, Angel sent an angry glower towards the far end of his current cramped lodgings.
His bad temper wasn't necessarily due to his present means of transportation. When there was no genuine reason for any great rush, Angel far preferred traveling long distances overseas by ship rather than by plane. He instinctively distrusted those flying machines, anyway. At least seagoing vessels were something which was much more comprehensible to a being that had been born several centuries ago before becoming a blood-drinking demon. Besides, if things went really wrong, he could swim, and despite what the Stoker idiot had written in his stupid novel, vampires couldn't in truth change into a bat and flutter off while escaping from peril.
Even when facing such an extreme threat which at this moment lurked at the other end of the packing crate.
Angel warily eyed the locked steel chest braced there that he knew had inside this metal container a sealed paper envelope. This item had earlier been placed inside several dozen plastic see-through kitchen bags, all guaranteed to hold within these any possible malodorous odors from rotting food. Nevertheless, Angel still imagined he could see wavering air rising from the top of the chest, indicating exactly what vile malevolence awaited for the first careless person to open all those secured objects.
Feeling more than a bit put upon, Angel snarled to nobody in particular, "What'd he do, soak the papers in that repulsive cologne?"
Actually, a few days ago before the Scooby Gang confronted their latest Big Bad, Xander Harris had just sprayed upon several sheets of writing paper a single puff of the reeking contents of the small aerosol can marked on its front 'Stun Your Babe! Macho Men's Scent'.
That little canister itself had been brought earlier after being taken from the 99-cents-or-less shelf right inside the entrance of the Sunnydale Pricemart. Actually, that cost was negotiable; for the right discards, they'd pay you to leave with them. As illustrated by the twenty-dollar bill gripped tightly in the left fist of the snickering teenager striding through the parking lot of this discount department store. Happily holding the dangerously fizzing can in his other hand, Xander ignored how the Pricemart doors were immediately locked and barricaded behind himself lest he change his mind about his latest purchase and try to return it.
Inside his cobbled-up hazmat suit, a very cheerful Xander blinked away the tears overflowing from his eyes despite the World War II surplus gas mask he was also wearing. Putting down the aerosol can upon the decrepit factory table inside one of Sunnydale's most rundown warehouses which was at present completely deserted except for this young man, Xander proudly regarded the small stack of paper which had just been sprayed with a super-toxic men's cologne.
Grinning inside his gas mask, Xander mused to himself, *Wonder how long it'll take for him to sniff this out, even if Angel's - ahem - dead asleep in his coffin. Oh, well, let's finish the job."
Reaching forward with his protective gloves, Xander picked up both the papers and a large shipping envelope, and he got to work. All of this was part of his carefully-planned final message to a certain vampire if things went really wrong in the next couple of days during the Scooby Gang's upcoming desperate battle against the usual supernatural villain attempting to take over the Hellmouth. While still busily stuffing the papers inside the envelope, a suddenly-somber Xander shrugged inside his hazmat suit. No matter what'd come, at least he'd probably have a chance to console himself at the very last moment over what Captain Forehead was going to receive unless Xander managed to stay alive to cancel the whole thing. Even if this didn't happen, it was still a hell of a lot of fun to think about Angel's reaction to something, which even if it wasn't heavily smelling of an ultra-cheap cologne with a half-life longer than plutonium, was really going to spoil that vampire's whole night.
A week later inside his packing crate, Angel went into game face, and he cursed Xander Harris as long and viciously as a vampire could, without ever running out of breath in all the languages he'd learned in his wanderings. Every single loathsome obscenity, profanity, blasphemy and epithet he could think of came spewing from Angel's lips, finishing off in a wordless scream of sheer rage.
Then, the undead demon brooded for a couple of hours. Forefront in his mind during all this, every single word of the memorized note locked in the chest blazed themselves in letters of fire in his thoughts:
First things first. The instant I came across this hunka hunka burning love specimen of a masculine fragrance, I just KNEW it was meant for you, and nobody else.
Okay, have you finished your little-girl tantrum yet? Maybe this might distract you - how'd I get this letter in your place without you sensing anybody?
Here's the secret: Ain't telling.
Nope, I don't think I'll fess up at all. That forehead of yours needs another frown line. I hear the Grand Canyon's looking for a new job. You guys should get together. So, is your lower lip quivering now?
Damn, I'd like to be there. Unfortunately, the whole point of this letter that's just been sneakily delivered to you as per my instructions, with its lovely bouquet that'll send all the skunks around in heat, means that I can't be around in person, enjoying your increasing facial tics.
Uh-huh. I'll be gone for good, having the last dirt nap, playing the harp in heaven with Jesse, and sneaking out with him to the secret skinny-dipping spot there for the Hollywood movie sex symbols, and learning if Marilyn Monroe was an actual blonde.
Actually, I'm kinda glad that I'm not there to watch you. Seeing you strap on a ballet tutu and ecstatically dance the last number from Swan Lake would've surely made me claw my eyes out.
Okay, gone off to chug a bottle of whiskey in celebration? Wipe your lips and keep reading.
Unlike you, I actually make plans, and this letter's part of it. It'll be delivered if some certain things happen. Like if I'm the only one who didn't make it in our fight, but the rest of the Scoobies survived. By the way, they don't know anything about this letter or even more important, what I did with the stuff I've learned lately about demons and the other Hellmouth crap. Which means no matter how much your ears are burning (yay me!), let's get down to the important things.
Angel, I don't like you.
No, let me be more specific.
I detest you.
Among the uncountable reasons for this are the two biggest:
1. You're a vampire. (Yes, you have a soul. Big fucking deal.)
2. Whatever you are, you're old enough to know better.
No man of any time or any species, of ANY nature, takes advantage of a sixteen-year-old girl who's been told she'll die before her eighteenth birthday. Even worse is passing yourself off anyway to this young lady not in her right mind and raised on tales of Prince Charming and zillions of romantic novels of the mysterious, darkly-handsome stranger with a tragic past who finds her totally fascinating.
You know you could've damn well picked your nose every time you met Buffy, until she finally paid attention to her "Ewwws!" and went in search of someone with a heartbeat.
Ah-hah! You've got it on your face, don't you? That scornful smirk perfectly delivered by those hanging on with one finger the first step into the upper classes, all while sneering downwards at the rest of the unwashed masses.
Hey, I'd be the first one to admit the Harrises, one and all of our lovely family, they came to America after the Civil War in the lowest level of steerage of the immigration ships. According to the stories, they went two falls out of three with the cockroaches in the bilges for the last putrefying crumb of food. Plus since then, we've proudly stayed the wretched refuse of the teeming shore. Right up to the current upholder of the latest degenerate generation. Who's telling you right now, you're such an idiot that you REALLY think I'm jealous of you and Buffy.
Cue raucous laughter, going on and on and on…
Apparently, the ego actually does grow after death. Me, jealous? Of YOU?
You should be jealous of ME.
Because I have what you don't.
I have the memory of warm lips on mine, with someone else also having the vaguest recollection of equally-warm lips on hers, and the breath of life being tenderly given to her.
I have all the seconds and minutes and hours and days and weeks and months of Buffy Summers with sunlight in her hair.
I have the experience of being best friends with the Slayer, someone who can say any stupid thing in the world to her, and she'll just laugh and give me such a punch on the shoulder so that I can't lift up my arm for the rest of the day.
I have a sister living her fantasy which can't end in any way but heartbreak, and I love her enough to just make brotherly smart-aleck cracks and send her goofy grins while she sighs about her true love. And I hide behind my mask every single moment the fact that I know exactly where you live, what your weaknesses are (including how you consider me a totally harmless doofus), and which of your enemies to pin upon your sudden dusting.
We're now getting to the serious part of this letter, so PAY ATTENTION!
You better get busy, because the clock's ticking, right from the instant the letter showed up at your Crawford Street mansion. Forty-eight hours from when you first started reading this, you'll be anywhere else but Sunnydale, or you're gonna be residing inside a Hoover vacuum bag.
Yup. I set up things so that you'll either have to move out into the wide, wide world, or things will start which'll end up with the stocks of several hair-product companies dropping like crazy. There's no other choice. You leave, or you die. (Well, you know what I mean, you walking cadaver.)
If you think I'm bluffing, let me say a couple of words: The Order of Taraka.
By the way, please stay! Please stay! Please! Please! Pretty please with a shiny cherry on top! I really want to get my money's worth, especially since I ordered the "as painful as possible" option regarding your eradication.
You're no fun at all, you know that?
Anyway, before you leave Sunnydale to safeguard your precious undead ass, you'll have to do a couple of things first. You're going to talk with Buffy.
No, no, not about me. Remember how I said in this letter that the gang doesn't know about this? So, don't bother trying to get any information from them about that bunch of assassins and bounty hunters, who were willing to cut me a deal having to do with returning their prized identity rings we kept as souvenirs. Which means you can't buy off the contract I put on you if you're stupid enough to stay in my hometown.
Of course, it's remotely possible you just spotted a loophole there. Unlikely, considering your limited intellect, buy, hey, there's always a once-in-a-lifetime chance! It might've occurred to you during your little chat with Buffy to mention this letter with my threat in it against you, or even produce it to her during your meeting, all to get her on your side against the Tarakans.
Sorry, black-and-broody (actually, I'm not sorry at all, you betcha), but there's two main reasons NOT to do this. First, what with her Slayer senses, including having a nose that's as good as yours, Buffy's really not gonna enjoy being in the same block with this perfumed message. It sure as hell won't endear you to her for bringing along something that'll make all the wallpaper in her house start peeling off.
About that, you might be wondering now how to get rid of the smell from your fingers after reading this. I suggest hydrochloric acid, or a blowtorch. Whichever will hurt the worse is fine with me.
Getting back to the second reason - If you're still dumb enough to give Buffy the letter with what I just told you, all in my handwriting she knows on sight, you're gonna have to give her ALL of it. Yeah, if you haven't already noticed, try to separate the pages, or destroy them.
You finished? Without having the slightest bit of luck in doing this, I bet. How, you might ask?
Magic, of course. And you can't break that spell, not in any way, since I got my money's worth on that, too.
So, just forget about showing Buffy this letter with only the parts you want her to read. Like, say, this part where I'm telling her I was the one to give her CPR in the Master's cave, while you were painting a yellow stripe the width of a football field down your back.
Hmmm. That still might not be enough to do it. Okay, then.
Buffy, if you're there, I want to also tell you this:
1. You've always been the hottest girl I've ever seen, right from the moment I went head-over-heels on my skateboard at Sunnydale High after spotting you coming to school there. You're also brave, funny, stubborn, and an all-around good friend that I've been proud to know.
2. Your relationship judgment is TERRIBLE! Consider the dimwit in his "Oh-I'm-so-sexy" black clothes next to you, and just THINK about a couple of things:
He's a vampire! What you're SUPPOSED to Slay! A dead body, a corpse, an actual demon! No breathing, no heartbeat, no blood running through his cold, clammy veins! That little fact of unlife should be kept in mind, as you remember your hygiene class which we all had to take back in junior high. Yeah, the one everybody giggled about, while wondering what the other guys and gals got told.
Well, from my own personal experience, both from that class and what goes on in my underwear, let me assure you, there is NO possible way that Angel's little soldier is going to stand up and salute!
Ooookay. Still going to show her this letter, Deadboy? Didn't think so.
Now. You're talking with Buffy, so you start lying right away. Oh, get real, like you haven't done it before! Make up whatever story you want. Come to think of it, why am I giving advice to a world-class liar? But, during that talk, there's a couple of things you WILL tell Buffy. Or else.
You're leaving Sunnydale.
You WON'T come back. Not for any apocalypse, not if Buffy asks you to, not even if you somehow brood yourself into thinking it's a good idea. 'Cause if you need a reason not to, you should keep in mind that if you ever show up here again, you'll be dusted before you even get a block past the city limits sign.
You damned well better be convincing in persuading the Buffster your relationship's over. Yeah, fine, be noble and self-sacrificing about it, if you want. Just make sure you let her down easy, and give her a chance for happiness with someone else who has an actual pulse, for sure.
Got all that? Once it's done, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.
Well, that's about it- Oh, right, one last thing. As a bon voyage present (for me, anyway), the instant you touched this letter, part of the magic on it started working. Twelve hours from now, you'll always have to keep the letter within twenty feet of you at all times. If you get rid of it, or somehow lose it, your hair will permanently smell like the cologne I put on the letter. At least, until you shave your head - forever.
Better arrange for that talk with Buffy as soon as possible, don't you think?
With lots of hugs and kisses for my good buddy Angel,
Xander Harris (deceased, and going to stay that way!)