Angel stood outside of Buffy's house watching the warm glow from the windows. She had asked him to keep an eye on Willow and Xander, to keep them safe. He hadn't bothered. There wasn't much left that Willow couldn't defend against and Xander was always with her. He had spent the time staring at the floor of his mansion. Two of the sigils burned into the wood had evaporated leaving an unmarred floor behind. The spell was failing. He wasn't surprised to see Oz's van parked on the street. He fought the urge to walk away, to bury his head in the sand a little longer.
He had never really understood how Buffy had gone to Nest, gone forward to her certain death. He was shamed by his own failures. He had watched her suffer, hoping that things would right themselves. Now he knew the price of his folly. He closed his eyes, hoping that she would kill him again. Existing without her was too painful. Going on, continuing the battle for redemption was a fool's errand. He'd had his golden moment. It was more than he deserved.
He crossed the street and climbed the steps, remembering the first time she had brought him here. He stood outside the door lost to the memory of the sweet press of her innocent mouth on his. He shuddered. This house held thousands of memories for him. He knocked.
The door swung open and an unfamiliar brunette woman stared at him. She stepped back, but said nothing. He stepped over the threshold feeling the tingle of its power move across his skin.
"I need to see Buffy." He looked down at the floor. Another unfamiliar man walked out of the dining room.
"Oh, dear lord," the older man exclaimed as the mug slipped through his fingers and shattered on the floor. Buffy poked her head out of the dining room and rolled her eyes.
"Angel, please quit scaring the new watchers," she said with a quick grin. "What's going on? We haven't heard from Xander or Willow. Are they okay?"
He swallowed and stared at her in the revealing top. He'd grown accustomed to the bulky ones. She wasn't hiding anything anymore. Her pregnancy was bared to the eye as well as his other senses. He swallowed and tried to look away, but she was so beautiful in the golden glow of the electric light.
"I'm sorry, Angel. I should have come and talked to you," She wrung her hands in front of her. "You shouldn't have to find out this way."
"It's okay, Buffy. I'm the one who should be apologizing. I need to talk to you, Oz, and Giles."
"Okay," she looked at him oddly. "This is Luckenbill and Emma. They've joined the team. Play nice."
Angel nodded, a strained smile on his face. He stepped toward the living room and the watchers both shifted, keeping their eyes on him.
"I'm not like Kralik," He smiled. "You needn't worry. You're safe enough from me."
Buffy bustled back in and all but shoved Luckenbill and Emma back into the dining room. They went easily enough, but when Buffy bent to pick up the broken pieces of ceramic scattered on the floor, Joyce came out and took over the task. Giles came behind Joyce and stared at Angel steadily, the wary look still present. Oz merely nodded and moved easily to Buffy's side.
"Let your Mom pick up the mess," he pulled her away from it. "Angel needs to tell us something."
"Sorry, I'm pregnant, not an invalid." Buffy crossed her hands over her chest and set her jaw.
"Buffy," Giles nodded toward Angel. "This might be important."
"I'm sorry. I'm just stressed. I need to know what's been done to us." Buffy ran a hand through her hair and grimaced. "So, let's go to the living room and Angel can tell us what's important enough to make him visit."
Angel watched as the wolf slid his arm over her shoulder. He fought down the urge to rip into Oz. This wasn't the werewolf's fault. He watched them all settle. Giles never truly relaxed in his presence anymore. He didn't blame him or any of them.
"I know what happened to you while you were in the rift, and I know why you can't remember." Angel stared at the ground in front of the couch. "You seem to have figured out that you belong together. That's good. I don't know what else you know."
"How do you know all of this?" Giles sat back and pulled his glasses off.
"I helped Willow do the spell that erased everything after the rift from your memories. It was wrong, I was wrong, but it has done something to Willow. She isn't the same. I think she needs your help. She's doing something to Xander and some others. I don't know what."
"You knew?" Buffy tilted her head. "All this time and you knew. I was half insane, but I helped you fight against the first evil. I helped you."
Oz grabbed her as she sprang. He managed to keep her on the couch, but his eyes, usually so calm, blazed with fury. He rubbed one hand on her back as she relaxed against him.
"I want to dust him more than you do, Buffy," Oz said quietly. "But he knows things that might be useful. We need to let him talk."
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I couldn't face losing you, not like that. I acted on an insane impulse." Angel stared at her.
"Call the others in. My personal life is fodder for all." Her eyes narrowed. On Angel as Giles slipped away to summon the others. "We were friends, just friends before the rift. You didn't lose anything."
"I lost the hope that someday there would be a chance." Angel closed his eyes.
"So, you helped Willow do this, helped her hurt us both. Really everyone got hurt. All that memory tampering, how long did she have to wipe out?" Buffy eased back into the couch clutching Oz's hand.
"Willow is a real threat now. Magic users have been disappearing, I think she's consuming their power." He stiffened as Emma, Joyce, Luckenbill, and Giles slipped into the room. "I think she may have found a way to break the bond."
"Could that have been what happened earlier? Could she have tried to break the bond?" Joyce asked.
"I need to know more about the original spell." Emma said. "I might be able to figure out a way to stop this with enough information."
"I can sketch it for you, also a picture of what Willow looks like without her glamour." Emma nodded and tossed him a pad and then a pencil. He sketched quickly. The room fell quiet; the only sound was the pencil scratching the paper. Emma stepped closer to Angel and looked over his shoulder.
"You did blood magic of this type with a neophyte witch? Are you demented or merely insane?" Emma rocked back and looked around the room with a panicked expression. "Your Willow is turning herself into a succubus, and not an innocuous one." "What do you mean?" Oz asked.
"The initial spell started her down the path, but if she's killed anyone it may be too late." Emma shook her head before turning back to Angel. "How are you even here?"
"I wanted to come and tell you for so long." Angel looked at Buffy. "Today two of the sigils evaporated and I knew I had to come tell you."
"If the sigils are evaporating then Buffy and Oz are reversing the spell. There's a chance that reversing the spell completely would stop her. If not, there are things that can be done to redeem her, but we need to act quickly."
"How can Buffy and Oz reverse the spell?" Joyce asked.
"The spell disrupted their bond. Every time they reassert it, it weakens the spell." Luckenbill shrugged. "The question becomes how they can reaffirm it next."
"Can we do a spell to restore our memories?" Buffy asked.
"Not without risking yourselves." Giles said.
"Their things are in my attic. The things they brought back from the rift. Could they help?" Angel asked.
"Go get them, now." Buffy glared at him. "Even if they don't help. I want them."
"I need to see the sigils in person. I have a little talent. I might be able to lift them." Emma said.
"Then I should accompany you," Giles said and turned to look at Buffy. "Try thinking about your future. I think that's the key."
Buffy nodded and watched as Giles and Emma departed with Angel. She grimaced. Her hand rubbed her belly.
"I hate him having to go back there." Buffy said. Oz rubbed her shoulder.
"He loves you," Joyce said softly. "He had to go. He has more than a little talent. He might be able to do more to help then Emma."
"He knows the dangers that vampire poses better than most. He is a good man." Luckenbill smiled. "Let him do what he must."
Oz pushed off the couch arm to get up and it pulled free of the couch and tumbled to the floor. Buffy sprang up to avoid sliding. Everyone stared at it. Luckenbill pulled a knife and sent it hurtling towards Oz. Oz flipped around and snatched it.
"Oh, dear lord, he has slayer strengths." Luckenbill said in awe.