!See part 1 for disclaimer!

Chapter 4:

Angela walked down the dark street, approaching a certain house that held a lot of bittersweet memories. She remembered the night it had given Buffy and her refugee from the Three. She had spent the night in the girl's room, had been forced to hide out during the day, only to reveal her true face to Buffy when the foolish girl had been so naive as to believe that they could be friends.

There had been other times, the tree outside Buffy's window giving her easy access at times when her mother was home. Many hours were spent talking as they both sat cross-legged on her bed, Buffy sharing all her secrets with the mysterious woman who fought by her side against her own kind, all the while unaware of the feelings that Angela had tried her best to hide.

So many reasons, she mused. Buffy's youth and inexperience, that purity and innocence that had drawn her like a moth to the flame even as the demon inside her was repulsed. The disgust that something like her, a filthy monster and murderer, would even consider tainting that wonderful purity. The Irish Catholic boy she had believed was inside of her, who found the notion of two women loving each other too disgusting to believe (unless, of course, he just happened to lie between the two at that time).

How much of that still held true? She carried a demon inside of her, that was true, yet she had been shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that she was separate from it. Two beings who just happened to share a single body. Neither was she a man trapped in a woman's body, no matter her memories. She had been born a woman and would always be one. Maybe it was time she got used to it.

For a moment she stopped walking, imagining things that would probably never happen. She remembered those few short months when Buffy, knowing what kind of feelings Angela held for her, had tried to figure out her own emotions. Angela did not doubt that Buffy held feelings for her in return, but the chance that those feelings could ever be ... she shook her head. This was not the time to think about that. The only important thing now was to find Buffy and help her in whatever way she could. Everything else could wait.

Finally arriving outside Buffy's house Angela was burning with impatience and anticipation. How would Buffy react? Would she be glad to see her? Would she remember the demon that was back inside of her, how much he had hurt her and her friends? She shivered for a moment, remembering how it had felt to run Buffy through with the sword, twist the blade to hear her scream.

She had not yet found an answer when she realized that Buffy was not here. The only light in the house burned in the living room and only the scent of Buffy's mother filled her nostrils, interlaced with the stench of alcohol, quite a bit of it. Sneaking closer she found traces of Buffy's scent underneath all that, but those were old and almost faded.

Buffy had not been here in weeks.

Dread filled her upon realizing this. What had happened to her? Earlier she had gone by the library, but seeing that Giles had visitors she had decided against revealing herself. Things would be awkward enough between them, considering the fact that Angela vividly remembered torturing the Watcher within in an inch of his life. They certainly did not need an audience for it. Buffy had not been there, which had resolved the matter for her. Giles could wait.

If Buffy was not there, though, and had not been home for weeks, where could she be?

She was still in Sunnydale. Angela did not know why she was so certain about that, she just knew. Maybe she did not live at home anymore, for whatever reason. If she was still in Sunnydale, though, then this time of night would probably see her patrolling.

Breaking off a branch from a nearby tree to make an improvised stake Angela headed for the nearest cemetery.

Saying that Ashley was confused would be putting things mildly.

The shadow she had seen through the library window had turned out to be a woman, dressed all in black. If there had been any doubt about her being a vampire it had vanished when she had seen the woman visit the butcher shop, hungrily gulping down a large bag of blood.

That was strange enough in itself, though. Why should a vampire visit the butcher for blood? Why not take it from a handy human victim? Even though every instinct she had was screaming at Ashley to attack and stake the vampire on the spot she decided to follow it instead. This was as good a chance as any to get a feel for the vampires running around here. The Watchers had taught her about the value of good reconnaissance.

The black-clad woman did not behave the way Ashley had been taught by those some Watchers, though. She walked the streets like a normal human instead of prowling in the shadows, had ignored at least half a dozen easy victims on the way toward a house where she had spent at least five minutes just standing around, looking at a dark window.

Just when Ashley had been about to stake her out of sheer boredom the vampire moved on, snatching a tree branch on the way. What did a vampire need a tree branch for?

About ten minutes later she found out, which only served to confuse her more. The vampire headed directly toward a cemetery (how come this one little town had so many cemeteries?) and when she came upon a band of other vampires she used that same tree branch to stake them. Just like that. A few kicks, a few punches, then poof. No more vampires. Well, except her.

What was going on here? The Watchers had never said anything about vampires staking other vampires. She had expected there to be rivalries, maybe even fights, but one vampire just walking up to three others, beating them up, then staking them? There was something terribly wrong about that picture.

Mostly because she did not know what else to do Ashley continued trailing that very strange and confusing vampire.

Angela was getting desperate. She had checked out three cemeteries and no trace of Buffy, not even the barest hint of her scent. On the positive side she had found that her fighting abilities were still up to par, as was evident by six heaps of dust she had left in her wake. The demon inside her growled with every single death she brought to her own kind, but with fresh blood coursing through her veins it was getting easier to ignore its howl.

On the other hand the presence of so many vampires was definitely something that should worry her. During the time Buffy and her had gone on patrol together there had seldom been more than two or three vampires around per night. Why were there so many of them now?

The only explanation she could come up with ended up worrying her even more.

In the end Angela decided that blindly searching around Sunnydale would avail her little, even though there were quite a few hours left until sunrise. No, the best way would be to consult Buffy's friends, they had to know where she was. Best starting point would probably be Giles. For a moment she considered going by the library again, but there was no telling whether the librarian would be alone by now.

She could call him on the phone, though. Her old apartment should still be there, considering that, upon coming to Sunnydale, she had used Angelus' amassed riches to buy the entire building in order to keep herself safe from snoopy neighbors. Spending no time debating with herself she quickly made her way toward her old home.

Thirty feet in front of her door she caught the scent she had been searching for all night. Buffy! She was here, behind that door. Why was she here? She could not know that Angela was back, could she?

Angela quickly found that she did not care in the least. Buffy was here, the rest was detail to be sorted out later. She reached the door at a run, taking no time to even knock or check whether it was locked. It was not. Angela simply barreled right through and into the living room.


Her scent permeated the entire apartment, her presence was almost touchable. She had been here a while. Angela looked around, her eyes finally finding the bed tucked away in a separated part of the large living room. Someone was lying there, someone moaning in the throes of what had to be a nightmare.

Angela knelt beside the bed, frozen into inaction by the vision before her. Buffy was lying in her old bed, the black silk sheet the only thing covering her body, her blonde hair spread out across the pillows. She was so very beautiful, though the look of pain on her young face broke her heart.

Softly brushing her fingers over Buffy's cheek she wished she could just take the nightmares away. The Slayer grew still, the nightmares seeming to fade, and leaned into the touch of the cold fingers. Angela could not help but smile.

"Buffy, wake up," she whispered.

The blonde Slayer stirred, but at the same time Angela realized that someone else was in the apartment, someone who was right behind her. Instinct made her move, throwing herself to the side and rolling across the floor. A wooden stake whipped through the air where she had been but moments before.

"Get away from her, demon," the white-haired girl he had seen at the library snarled at him.