Coming Home 1/12 (Angelic Face #7)
by Philip S.
Summary: Angela returns to Earth, filled with the need to help Buffy and figure out her own identity. There is another Slayer in town, though, and the wounds Angelus inflicted are still fresh.
Spoilers: General spoilers for S3 episodes "Revelations", but very much AU. You should have read the preceding episodes of Angelic Face in order to get the most from this story.
Disclaimer: Buffy and associated characters belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement intended. The storyline and original characters are copyright Philip S.
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
The Gypsies' curse has returned Angelus' soul and turned him into a woman. Now calling herself Angela, she is recruited by the Powers That Be to help the Slayer, Buffy Summers. Drusilla, looking for the return of her daddy, uses the magic of the demon Toth and splits Angela in two. Angelus is back, freed of his soul, while his human half, Angela, finally confesses to Buffy her true feelings. Angelus, looking to rid himself of his human half, unleashes the demon Akathler.
At the climax of the battle Angela is forced to reunite with the vampire to save Buffy's life. Angelus has already unleashed the demon, though, so Angela does the only thing she can and sacrifices herself. The Powers That Be intervene, though, bringing Angela to heaven instead of hell. There she is given the choice between eternal peace or returning to help Buffy. Angela chooses to return, but in the process she learns that she is not who she thought she was.
Willow looked up as the library doors flew open, three weary figures limping through them.
"I almost had him," Xander complained, the right side of his face looking like someone's had made repeated and very solid contact with it.
"He looked scared," Oz said, cradling his right arm close to his chest. "Especially when you stumbled and nearly staked him through the thigh."
Giles said nothing, just followed the two youths inside and sat down heavily at the library table. He was tired, incredibly so, and things were not likely to get easier any time soon. The vampires in Sunnydale had multiplied despite the absence of a strong leader and the situation was getting hairy.
Especially with the Slayer out of commission.
"You guys okay?" Willow looked at them, worried. She had wanted to go with them on patrol, but Giles had insisted that she had more important things to take care of. One thing in particular, on which he would no doubt want a status report very soon.
"Just bumps and bruises," Xander groaned, sitting down as well. "We're getting better."
"Yeah, we're getting three out of ten," Oz deadpanned.
"When we started out it was barely one out of ten."
"By that logic this town should be vampire-free in another few months."
Willow shook her head, smiling despite herself. Her friends were risking their lives every night, going out to do something none of them was really able to do. Keep Sunnydale's vampire population under control in the absence of the one who was destined to do this.
"Willow," Giles shook her from her thoughts. "How is Buffy?"
Willow looked down, not sure how to answer that question. How was Buffy? Physically she was fine. The many wounds she had sustained from her battle against Angelus a month ago were all gone, even the one where the evil vampire had stabbed her right through the shoulder and then twisted the blade. Not even scars remained and Buffy was as healthy as a newborn baby.
As for the rest, well, Willow could not help but remember something that had happened only a few days ago. Something she had yet to tell the gang about.
Willow unlocked the door to the dark apartment and stepped inside, calling out for Buffy as she did so. Willow did not like this place at all, it gave her the creeps. It was always dark, the only windows set high into the wall and heavily curtained, not a single ray of sunlight coming through.
It was place built for a creature of the night.
"Buffy?" Willow called out again, looking around to find her friend. Buffy had to be here, she had barely left the place ever since moving in here. Willow still had trouble thinking of this as Buffy's home, but seeing as the Slayer refused to go anywhere else pretty much qualified it as that, she guessed.
This was Angela's apartment, the place where she had lived as a vampire. During her few short months as a human being she had lived elsewhere, a place with many windows and a fully stocked fridge, but the apartment building had been burned to the ground the same night Angela had been captured by Angelus, the demon's effort to eradicate all proof that he had ever had a human half.
Leaving this as the only place in Sunnydale that held any traces of the woman who had sacrificed her life to save the world.
After searching the living room and having no luck Willow stepped into the bathroom, hoping that Buffy might be there. She froze halfway through the door.
"Buffy," she whispered, not believing what she saw.
The Slayer was sitting on the ground, her back against the bathtub, and looked up at Willow with hazel eyes blurry with tears. She wore nothing but underwear, her skin almost as white as the tiles she sat on.
Her right hand clutched a kitchen knife, holding it close to her left wrist.
"Suicide is supposed to send you to hell, right?"
Willow needed several seconds to realize that this was Buffy's voice she was hearing. It sounded nothing like the girl she knew, sounded more like that of a broken child.
"I ... I don't know, Buffy," Willow said carefully, reluctant to do anything that might cause Buffy to lower the knife any further. "Jewish, remember?"
Buffy looked down at the knife in her hand and a tear was rolling down her cheek.
"They say if you kill yourself that's a deadly sin and then you go to Hell. Just like ... just like ..."
Her voice broke and the knife slipped from her fingers as she curled into a ball, sobbing. Willow quickly hid the blade in her rucksack, making a mental note to remove all other knives from the kitchen later on, then knelt down beside Buffy and wrapped her arms around her best friend.
"I miss her so much, Will," Buffy sobbed. "Why did she have to die? Why did she have to die before I could tell her that I love her?"
Willow knew no good answer to that question, so she just proceeded to hold her friend and pray to whatever god or gods might be listening to give her some peace for a change.
"No change," Willow told the others, shoving the memory away. "She refused to leave the apartment and ... well, pretty much everything else, too. I can barely get her to eat."
It had fallen to Willow to take care of Buffy. They all hoped that, as some more time passed, Buffy would get better or at least agree to go back to her mother, who deeply regretted her actions on the day of Angela's death. No luck so far. The only thing the Slayer seemed interested in was to sleep and be miserable.
Giles sighed deeply. Things were getting worse out there. Vampires and demons were not generally among the great thinkers of our time, but they had started to notice that the Slayer was not patrolling at night. The Hellmouth was without a guardian and that was a potentially fatal situation, both for them and the world at large.
All of which meant that Giles was running out of options.
"I will make a call to the Council," he told the others. "I will ... I will ask them to send the new Slayer here."
Everyone gasped, not believing what they heard. Oh, they all knew that there was a new Slayer. Kendra had died, here in this very room, and when one Slayer died another was called. They had all heard that story more often than they cared to remember.
Xander was the first to regain his voice. "What do you mean, call the new Slayer? We already have a Slayer here."
"A Slayer who is unable to do her duty," Giles said sadly.
"That's not fair," Willow positively exploded. "She went through so much, she just needs ..."
"I know what she went through," Giles interrupted her, tired and edgy himself. "I was there, remember?"
Unlike Buffy Giles still had the scars to prove that he had been at Angelus' tender mercies for a time. Scars of the physical and the emotional kind. The latter were getting a bit better, though, seeing as the doctors were getting a bit more hopeful regarding Jenny Calendar's condition. She was still not awake, but all her physical wounds were well on the way toward healing. Giles clung to that ember of hope.
"I know what Buffy has gone through," Giles repeated. "In no way do I blame her, Willow. What she was forced to endure could have broken a dozen men."
He looked at those brave children surrounding him, bruised and tired, yet no doubt willing to go out again as soon as the sun went down tomorrow, putting their lives on the line once more.
Something he could not tolerate any longer.
"It does not change the simple fact that, currently, Buffy is unable to fulfill her duty as the Slayer. The Hellmouth needs protection, more protection than we are able to give it. I am praying for Buffy's recovery every night, just like you, but what we need is a functioning Slayer. As soon as possible."
There was silence for a long time, then Xander nodded, deep sadness in his eyes. "I guess he's right."
"What?" Willow looked at him with outrage. "How can you say that? Buffy will get better, I know she will. She just needs ..."
"Time? How much time, Willow? How many more nights? The world can come to an end in a single night, we've both seen that it's possible. Big G is right, we need some help."
"But ... but Buffy is ..." Willow began, only to fall silent when Oz wordlessly put his hand on her shoulder, squeezing. Giles knew what was going through Willow's head, it had gone through his own more than once.
"Buffy will always be our Slayer, Willow," he told her. "Nothing can change that."
Finally Willow nodded, sinking into the embrace of her boyfriend. Giles looked at her for another long moment, then rose to go into his office and make a long-distance call to England.
TO BE CONTINUED