Chapter 18: Couplet

The beginning of the Connor arc. Liam has something planned. What is it? What will this mean for the rest? So many questions. So little time. Two chapters after this. Possibly three. One might be a two parter. But read this one. Enjoy.

After the Buffy in a mental institution fiasco in Sunnydale, the family had returned to LA where they had a least some control over what happened to them in there 'normal' lives. Liam and Xander had gotten on good terms when they left, which was good. Buffy and Dawn loved each other more than ever having some quality sister time. Angel didn't mind, he like spending time with Connor. Liam was glad that his family was happy. He, however, wasn't as happy as they were. He was more worried about what he knew was going to happen next in the time line. He was glad that Delia was here. That way he had someone he could trust to confide in. He had a plan brewing, and it wasn't going to be a pretty one. Then again, when is a plan ever pretty?

Angel and Buffy came down the stairs into the lobby. Buffy as holding Connor in her arms. Wesley was moving about behind the reception counter.

"Hey." Angel said happily.

"Morning you two." Wes said.

"You're the only one here?" Buffy asked.

"So far. How's young Connor today?"

"He's good. Perfectly content like his mother. Actually, I think he's sleeping."

"Cordelia, she's usually in by now, isn't she?" Angel asked.

"It's early. I imagine she and Groosalug were up late. They have a lot of catching up to do."

"Right."

"Actually, I was hoping you and I could talk before the others got here."

"Sure. What is it?" Angel and Wes went into the office while Buffy went to get breakfast.

"Well it's the fact of him. I know his sudden arrival was something we all needed a moment to digest. Still, there are questions."

"You're suspicious."

"'Cautious' might be a better word."

"You think he's evil."

"Evil?"

"Okay, maybe not evil, but he's definitely hiding something. Does he seem shorter to you?"

"We are both talking about Connor, aren't we?"

"What about Connor?" Buffy asked, coming into the office with a cup of yogurt.

"He shouldn't exist."

"His birth was foretold. How many people can say that?"

"He has a role to play, that's true, but we still don't know what that role is. Liam refuses to divulge anything, believing that we should discover things on our own. But still, we can't be afraid to ask the questions, because your guy's enemies, his enemies, certainly won't be."

"You're right. We should be prepared." Angel said.

"I'm glad you agree. However, with the loss of the Nyazian Prophecies, our only other resource is your other son."

"But he says that he and Delia can't tell us anything." Buffy said. "They are only here to stop whatever apocalypse happens in their time and will allow us to help. Everything else that happens with us, we have to deal with on our own. Like we did in their time.

"Then I guess we'll probably have to look elsewhere for our answers." Wes sighed.

"Well, we both know where those prophecies went. Maybe it's time to make another assault on Wolfram and Hart." Angel suggested.

"That might not be necessary. Not yet, anyway. There should be other sources. Ancient works accumulate scholarship, commentary over the years."

"Huh. You think somebody else has already done the work for us."

"That's my hope. I've been looking into it. I just… I felt you should know."

"I wanna be involved, completely."

"Involved with who?" Cordy asked, coming in to the lobby. They all spun to see Cordy set some stuff on the counter. Buffy and Angel walked out to see her.

"You're here. And... so is he." Angel said, noticing Groo messing with Angel's weapons.

"Angel. Your weapons are most impressive." Groo said.

"Thanks. Thank you. Can you, uh, ask him not to handle my weapons?" Angel asked Cordy.

"Oh, relax. If there's one thing Groo knows, it's how to handle a weapon. Poor guy. Looks like that's about all he's gonna be handling." Cordy said.

"You mean, ah, you two didn't…"

"I got him home last night and we started... you know. But then I couldn't go through with it."

"You couldn't?" Buffy asked.

"No. Not after seeing that disgusting, spiny thing!"

"Spiny?"

"Right up in my face! That's what the visions are like now. No pain, less artsy, sometimes floaty, though not lately, and very often stinky."

"You had a vision?" Wes asked.

"Yeah. Big as life last night, while Groo and I were getting reacquainted. Kind of a mood killer, I got to say."

"You should have called one of us."

"Oh, please! Like I'm gonna bother you guys in the middle of the night because I want sex and can't have it."

"Actually, I meant the vision." Wes said.

"Oh. That. Well, it's not rising up until sometime later today." Cordy said.

"What's not rising until later today?" Liam asked coming down the stairs with Delia behind him.

"I had a vision. You guys will be going out tonight to kill something."

"Sweet." Delia said smiling.

"Why can't you have sex?" Wes asked Cordy.

"Nice Wes. A very appropriate question to ask a girl." Delia deadpanned.

"I could lose my 'visionity.'"

"Now I'm confused." Liam informed them.

"Vision-ity! The visions. When that one hit my last night, it hit me. In Pylea the visions were supposed to pass to Groo if we ever did the royal com- shuck. How do I know that won't happen here?"

"Good point. You really don't." Angel said.

"But your recent transformation could have changed all that. It might be possible to..." Wes said.

"Still, you know, better safe than sorry. You're doing the right thing."

"I know. I know. I can't risk it. It's just... I'm so... And he's such a… Rrrr... Don't you think?" Cordy said.

"Yeah, sure." Angel said.

"Certainly." Wes said.

"Oh yeah." Buffy said.

"Totally." Delia said.

"Not a clue." Liam said. Everyone looked at him. "What?"

"I mean, there's gotta be other things we can do to relieve the tension!" Cordy said.

"Jogging could be the thing." Angel suggested.

"Perhaps some form of paranormal prophylactic..." Wes said.

"Because, you know, jogging..."

"I guess we could probably 'com' without actually 'shucking.'" Cordy said, looking at Groo.

"Now that sounded wrong." Liam said turning away a bit.

"Well, I don't know. That could be a slippery slope that once you're on, that you could slide." Angel said.

"At least I won't be upsetting the average around here. Nobody in this office is ever gonna get any." Cordy said. Buffy, Angel, Liam, and Delia all coughed. "Oh, 'cept Romeo and Juliet here and the couples of tomorrow."

"We've identified the demon from Cordelia's vision as a Senih'd. We believe it will rise in the mid-city area sometime before nightfall." Wesley said, handing Gunn an open book. Gunn and Fred had gotten to the Hyperion about two hours ago. Now they were all convened in Wes's office and talking about the latest baddy. "The Senih'd manifests in its physical form for one purpose only to feed." Wes continued.

"Seen it." Cordy said as Fred handed her the book after she had taken it from Gunn. Cordy gave the book to Groo who looked at it. Angel looked over Groo's shoulder while Groo showed it to Buffy. Angel stood on tiptoe and then dropped back down. He did it a couple times more before Buffy looked at him funny and smacked him on the arm. Liam watched with some amusement. "Angel and Buffy will take the sewer tunnels. The rest of us will go by car to Sorensen Park. We'll enter the underground from the water treatment plant there, double back. Hopefully by the time we meet up again..." Wes said.

"I know this creature. It resembles the Bleaucha, which nest in the scum pits of Ur. I've slain many." Groo said.

"Really?"

"Tracking it will be simple. Killing it, more difficult."

"Well, yeah." Angel said.

"Alright then. Groo, you go with Buffy and Angel. Let's move out."

"And where does that leave us?" Delia asked.

"Oh, well since you and Liam are here to thwart and apocalypse of your own, you might make considerable progress if you weren't….fighting our demons." Wes said trying to sound nice.

"He's got a point Del." Liam said. "We have word to do."

"Fine, but next demon I want in." Delia said before she and Liam left to go back upstairs. The rest started to leave and Angel pulled Buffy and Wes aside.

"I don't think this is such a good idea, me and Buffy and Groo. You know, we're more loners. Plus, he's so bulky. He could really slow us down!"

"He's an experienced warrior. He should be a great asset to you two." Wes said.

"Angel, we'll be fine. Groo is cool." Buffy said.

"Well…" Angel looked over at Groo and Cordy at the weapons cabinet. Cordy handed him a sword. "That's my favorite broadsword!"

"You'll be fine, Angel." Wes said.

"Are you sure you're gonna be warm enough? The sewers are pretty damp." Cordy said to Groo.

"I shall be fine." Groo said.

"Okay." Cordy handed a weapon to Angel without even looking away from Gru. "Here" Angel looked at the axe with the small head on it and showed it to Buffy who had chosen a crossbow. She rolled her eyes at him.

"Let's go." Angel said

"I shall present this beast's head to my princess as a token." Groo said.

"Right... 'Cause she'll love that." Angel said. He, Buffy, and Groo were walking through the sewers looking for the demon from Cordy's vision.

"You sense anything?" Angel asked Buffy.

"A deep sadness." Groo who answered first. Buffy and Angel stopped and stared at him. "My princess. She is unhappy. I fear I am the cause."

"No. No, she's not unhappy you're here, Groo. She's thrilled." Buffy said.

"Then what keeps her from me? There is a distance as if her heart is not free."

"I... I think, that maybe she's afraid to get too close. She's, uh, scared if she does, she'll, uh, lose something." Angel said.

"But I would give myself to her." Suddenly, they were interrupted by a low growl. Buffy held her hand up to stop Groo. She didn't need to with Angel because they had fought together so long that they could literally synchronize their fights. Angel touched some liquid spots on the ground, and then rubbed his fingers together, looking at them. "It is wounded. It bleeds." Groo said.

"It's better than bread crumbs. Let's go." Buffy said. Angel, Buffy, and Groo entered what looked like the water treatment plant Wes was talking about. The Senih'd dropped off some pipes behind them. The three turned and attacked the demon together. The Senih'd managed to disarm both Angel and Groo fairly early into the fight, but neither Angel nor Groo let that slow them down. Buffy stepped in and shot the demon through the leg to try to slow it down. It hit her across the face hard enough to send her crashing into the wall. Angel took a bit more of a beating than Groo, but other than that they were doing about the same against the monster. Until it let out a scream and broke through the wall to escape into the sunny park outside. Angel scrambled back out of the sunlight streaming in through the opening. Groo picked up his dropped sword, and then held out a hand to help Angel up.

"Come." Groo said. Angel just looked at Gru, not moving. Screams sounded from outside, and Groo turned to run after the Senih'd. Buffy went to Angel as he was getting up. They turned and watched Groo rescue the young woman the Senih'd has grabbed. The demon tried to use the woman as a shield against Groo's sword, but Groo managed to knock them apart. Cordy, Wes, Gunn, and Fred came running over a rise in the park, just in time to see Groo catch the woman in one arm, while knocking the Senih'd down and stabbing it deep into the back of its neck. The demon dissolved into an oily black puddle that seeped away into the ground. The woman Groo had rescued clung to him as if her life depended on him.

"Well done." Wes said. "I must say, excellent work." People in the park gathered around Groo and the others and started to applaud. "Well done." Wes looked over at the hole in the wall and saw Buffy and Angel standing in the shadows watching. Buffy looked at Angel.

"Come on. Let's go home." She said.

"All right." Angel wrapped his arms around Buffy's waist and they walked back through the tunnels to the Hyperion.

Angel and buffy arrived at the Hyperion before anyone else had. Liam and Delia were sitting over at the reception table talking. They turned their heads to see Angel and Buffy enter. Liam saw the look on Angel's face.

"Oh great. Who'd kill this time a Angelus?" Liam asked trying to make a joke.

"Not funny." Angel said.

"Geez, sorry. I just wanna know what's bugging you." Liam said coming over.

"It's about you and Groo. I take it there is some definite tension there." Buffy said.

"No. No, there isn't." Angel said.

"I think there is." Liam said.

"Well there isn't." Buffy glared at him. "Ok, there is. There's just something really off putting about him. I know, I know… he has won Cordy's affections and I love Cordy like a sister. Maybe it's just me wanting to protect her, but there is something that I don't like about him."

"Get to know him. You haven't given him a chance."

"What if I don't want to give him a chance? He tried to kill me in Pylea."

"You tried to kill me." Buffy said.

"So?"

"I gave you a chance. Where would we be if I hadn't given you a chance? You went to the Bronze to kill me five years ago and you were Angel. I told you to go ahead and you couldn't do it. I gave you a chance to love me and I wanted to get to know you better. You two could be friends if you just try. Just like what happened with Spike. Liam urged us to give him a chance and now I love Spike like a brother. And you two tolerate one another."

"A well put example." Delia commented.

"Thank you." Buffy said and turned back to Angel. "Will you try with Groo, for me?"

"Can I beat him up once?"

"Maybe. Depends on the circumstances."

"Ok."

"You think you know someone. You think your place is secure and that there's a future there." Ms. Frakes said. Buffy and Angel were sitting across from Ms. Frakes behind Wes' desk, watching Groo as he reenacted his fight with the demon for Liam, Delia, Cordy, Gunn, and Fred.

"And then something happens. No, strike that. Some ONE happens! They insinuate themselves, pushing you out, taking your place." Angel turned his attention back to Ms. Frakes.

"And what makes you think this other woman is a witch, Ms. Frakes?" Angel asked.

"Why else would Jerry cheat on me? We've been engaged for eight years! She had to have put some kind of a spell on him." Angel leaned back in his chair. Buffy sat on the edge of the desk. "Well, if you give me the woman's name I'll have someone check her out. See if we can find out if she's a witch."

"HotBlonde37159." Ms. Frakes handed Angel some papers. "I got these off the e-mails that I took from Jerry's computer."

"It's, ah, gonna.. uh, it's gonna be pretty difficult to find her based solely on this."

"Well, just follow Jerry! I'm sure he'll lead you right to her." Angel looked up at Wes as he entered the office.

"Ms. Frakes here wants us to stake out her fiancé. I was trying to explain to her that..."

"I think we can spare someone to keep an eye on Ms. Frakes' fiancé. Gunn!" Wes called. Gunn got up from the settee. "If witchcraft is involved we should probably look into it."

"What's up?" Gunn asked.

"Ah, Gunn, Ms. Frakes here needs some surveillance work. I thought, if you were free..."

"Yeah, not a problem."

"Good. She'll give you the details. I'll leave it in your hands."

"Sure thing." Fred came into the office and smiled.

"We won't let you down." She said. With that, the two left with Ms. Frakes. Wesley stared after Fred. Buffy lifted her head and looked at Wes.

"You ok?" Buffy asked.

"Hmm? Oh, yes."

"Who were you on the phone with?" Angel asked.

"Oh, a book store. A rare book store." Wes started to walk off, but turned around. "Would you like to come with me?"

"Sure." Buffy said.

"Let me get our coats and we'll go with you." Angel said.

"I don't know. Maybe they should just do it, you know? Get it over with." Angel was saying as they entered the shop.

"I'm sorry?" Wes asked.

"He means Cordy and Groo." Buffy clarified.

"She's being all noble for the good of the team. She should just make with the com-shuck. That's what she wants." Angel said.

"Oh." Wes said.

"May I help you?" the guy running the store asked.

"Yes. I phoned earlier about Grammaticus Third Century Greek Commentaries."

"Of course. The G.T.C.G.C. I'll be just one moment." The guy went to a back room and Angel continued talking.

"I mean, why not? You know, life is short. Okay, not mine, but, you know, most people's. And if Groo does it for her, she should go for it. Make him happy. Make her happy. Make everybody happy."

"But still office romance complicates things. What if they should have a row, or break up?" Wes asked.

"You see where this office romance ended up don't you?" Buffy asked sarcastically.

"All of us fight with each other at some point. I don't see it changing things much." Angel said.

"Well, she said it herself. It could risk the visions." Wes said.

"Okay. So the visions pass to Groo. He gets them instead of her. So what?"

"Are you suggesting Groosalug could replace Cordelia?"

"Maybe not Cordelia."

"I see. You think he could replace you."

"I don't know. Seems to me, here is a guy who can do everything I can and a few things I can't."

"Awe, sweetie, that's not true." Buffy said.

"You saw what happened this afternoon. If Groo hadn't been there..."

"I would have gone after it."

"And the rest of us would have. Angel, you're the reason we've all come together. It's your mission which animates us. We each contribute, it's true, but you… you're unique. You're like one of these rare volumes. One of a kind." Wes said. The guy running the store walked back out.

"I've got three of them." He said. Angel groaned and walked out to the car. Buffy looked at Wesley who nodded to tell her everything was going to be ok there.

Angel, Buffy, and Wes arrived back at the hotel and were walking through the garden.

"Well, ah, Wesley thanks for what you said before. You put things into perspective for me." Angel said.

"Glad I could. While I do believe having another warrior for good may be an asset in the coming days, truth is, you and the Groosalug are two totally different – people..." Wes trailed off as they opened the doors and found Groo standing there. His hair was cut short and he was wearing Angel's clothes.

"Uh, hello." Groo said.

"...who look exactly alike." Wes finished.

"He's wearing my clothes." Angel said under his breath.

"Good fit." Buffy said.

"Where's Cordelia?" Cordy came out of the office, a huge smile on her face and Liam and Delia came out with her.

"Oh, good. You're back." Cordy said.

"He's wearing my clothes."

"What? Oh, yeah. I… I didn't think you'd mind. Turns out you guys are about the same size. I think he's a little taller. Looks great though, doesn't he?"

"Welcome to the land of the looking badass my friend." Liam said putting his arm around Groo.

"Strange name for a land." Groo said. Liam patted Groo's chest.

"We'll work on that."

"Angel, I need your help." Cordy said.

"What happened? You had a vision?" Angel asked.

"What? Oh, no. No, it's nothing like that. Um. This is personal."

"What is it?"

"I wouldn't ask, except, ah, there's really no one else I can trust with this. It's something only you can do?" Angel led Cordy into the office and sat her down in the chair while Buffy took the desk.

"Tell me." Angel said.

"You've done so much for me already and... Well, this is just one more thing for the list, I guess."

"There is no list. You know that. Just... just tell me what I can do."

"I need you to help me have sex with Groo." Angel looked out the window at Groo who was talking to Wes, Buffy, Liam, and Delia. Liam and Delia seemed to like to talk to Groo. Cordy grinned at Groo behind Buffy's back and waved. Groo waved and smiled back. Angel lifted a hand, wiggled his fingers a little and raised his eyebrows, while trying to smile back.

"I realized something today. It's not the threat of losing the visions that's been keeping me from being close. It's me. The Visions are just an excuse. I mean there's always some excuse." Cordy said.

"Right." Angel said.

"I'm tired of being lonely."

"Yeah."

"So I worked it out."

"You did?"

"Yes! It was something Wesley said a paranormal prophylactic. And that got me thinking. I couldn't be the only woman on earth that had some supernatural gift that could be lost through physical intimacy."

"Stands to reason."

"So I started researching and anyway, I'm right. There is a potion, a protective potion. I take it and bang! I can."

"A potion?"

"Yeah. Anyway, this woman's name is Anita, and she's kind of in the business. Makes love potions, elixirs, things like that. She says she's got just the thing at this address." Cordy handed a slip of paper to Angel.

"You want me to get this for you?"

"I went to my ATM, got cash. Nearly cleaned me out, but I think it's worth it." Cordy handed Angel some money.

"So you and Groo can..."

"Com-shuck like bunnies. You betcha."

"Why don't you just send him?"

"I am sending him. He kind of insists on it, but that's why I need you."

"Huh?"

"He doesn't know this world. I can't send him into a demon brothel all by himself! I mean, I trust him, but I'm not crazy."

"Brothel?" Angel stepped back.

"You'd be safe there. No woman's gonna tempt you, right?"

"R... right."

"And for extra precaution, you could take Liam. You guys will be fine." Groo and Liam walked in.

"Are we ready?" Groo asked.

"I think so." Cordy said. "And just the person I wanted to see. Liam, I need you and Angel go with Groo to run an errand.

"I'm game." Liam said smiling

"We're most grateful for your help, Angel." Groo said throwing his arm around Angel's shoulder. "You've been a true friend to us both." Liam stood on Groo's other side. They all looked and dressed alike.

"Yeah." Angel said.

"So where are we going?" Liam asked.

"A brothel."

"What!?" Liam said sounding surprised and worried.

"Oh, I love your outfits." Anita said. Liam, Angel, and Groo followed her through the mansion that wasn't exactly what ANYONE would imagine a brothel would be like. This one had demons as their whores! Liam looked at the demon whores with discomfort.

"Well, I really wouldn't call them 'outfits.'" Angel said.

"But you are together?" Groo put his arms around Liam and Angel.

"Yes! Three champions here together." Liam and Angel pushed Groo's arms off.

"Not 'together' together. Just 'get the potion' together." Angel clarified. "I have a wife."

"So I may com-shuck my princess."

"Just to reiterate," Angel pointed at himself, "NOT..." Angel got distracted by the sound of laughter, "the princess..." Anita looked to Liam.

"One thought and I burn this place down." Liam threatened. Liam and Angel stopped to stare into a room where a couple was having a pillow fight.

"The room is enchanted. Everything that happens in there, every touch, every emotion, every desire is extended for maximum pleasure. I can check the schedule if you and your wife would like." Anita said to Angel as she led Groo down the corridor. Liam lingered looking into the room with more discomfort. After a moment, he followed Groo and Anita. "Just right in here." Anita led Groo into a big bedroom. A man wearing dress pants and a shirt was manacled to one of the walls.

"Oh, hello!" the man said.

"Fear not, friend. We are here to save you!" Groo said, rushing over to the man, trying to pull him out of the manacles.

"Hey! Get off!" the man cried. Liam walked in and he went and pulled Groo away.

"Groo! Groo, he's happy there." Liam said.

"As a slave?"

"Don't judge me." The man said.

"Come on." Liam looked at the man. "Sorry." Then back at Anita. "If you'll just give us the potion, we'll be..."

"You brought cash?" Anita asked. Angel pulled out the wad of cash that Cordy had given him and she handed it to Anita. Anita took it then lifted one hand up into the air. There was a little tinkling sound and her hand was enveloped in a deep blue light. As she brought her hand back down she was holding a small metal bottle.

"Make sure to tell your princess to drink it all at once." Anita said to Groo. Groo took and it and Anita turned to Liam and Angel. "I know why your earnest friend is here, but why are you two here? What's in it for you?"

"Apparently a horrible trip down memory lane." Liam muttered looking around. Angel looked to his son. Liam looked at his father. "Don't judge me." Liam repeated the tied up guys words. "It's a long story." Angel was a little too distracted with what Liam said he didn't notice the ringing cell phone.

"Angel, your coat is singing." Groo said. Angel took the cell phone out of his pocket and opened it.

"Hello. What? Gunn? I can barely hear you."

"Yeah, reception's not so great, is it?" Gunn asked.

"Where are you?"

"Under Plummer Park."

"Under it?"

"Pretty much. We were tailing that woman's fiancé..."

"Jerry." Fred said in the background.

"…and we kind of lost him."

"But then we found him sort of."

"Him and his date. Some root-crazy, tree-like demony thing."

"With what looks like a DSL connection. We're pretty sure he chats up lonely hearts online, and then sucks them down here for food. Or maybe it gets its power that way."

"Monster's got a big, old, leathery joint jammed up into the guy. I think it's sucking the life out of him."

"What… have you called Wesley yet?" Angel asked.

"We were kind of hoping we wouldn't have to." Gunn said.

"I don't understand."

"We just didn't want to bother him with this."

"Bother him?"

"Look. Nothing against Wes, but I'm not sure he can help us out at the moment. What we really need is Groo and you and Liam. Can I talk to Groo?"

"Oh, uh..," Angel handed Groo the cell phone. "It's for you."

Groo led the way through the sewers.

"I am honored they requested the Groosalug to save them." Groo said.

"I wouldn't say requested, more like included. Hang on. Here. Here. Did you feel it?" Angel asked.

"Something evil."

"Whoa, easy. Slow down, Champ! We have to be very careful here." Liam said.

"You're right. Will you keep this safe?" Groo asked Liam, handing him the bottle with the potion in it.

"Fine." Liam took it and stuck it in his coat pocket.

"But we've just got to be, you know, a little bit more…" Angel began but Groo took off at a dead run. "...patient." Groo started to slash at the roots as he entered the cave.

"It's Groo!" Fred cried.

"Over here!" Gunn called. Groo let out another battle cry. The face in the trunk roared back. A root shot out and buried itself in the middle of Groo's chest. Groo dropped the sword as he was pulled up beside the now released Jerry, who was lying motionless on the ground.

"What are we gonna do now?" Fred asked. Angel came running in through the roots.

"That's my shirt!" he said.

"Dad?" Liam asked. Angel turned to find Liam's leg tangled in a root that had decided to grab him and hold him hostage. He started to untangle his son.

"This thing is not actually made out of wood, is it?" Angel asked.

"No, it's flesh." Fred said.

"Good." Angel finished helping Liam out of the roots and went to pick up Groo's dropped sword. "Flesh I can deal with. Flesh I can kill."

"But I don't think hacking it is going to do any good. It doesn't seem to have any vital organs. It uses people as batteries. It draws its power from its victims." Angel looked from the root-demon's snarling face to Groo, who was groaning and straining against the root buried in his chest.

"And it's been getting stronger since it tapped into Groo." Gunn said.

"Really? Stronger? Come on! He can't be that great." Angel said.

"Dad, not the time now." Liam said.

"He is the Groosalug." Fred said. Gunn looked at Fred as Angel dropped the sword and walked to the face in the tree.

"What do you think? Honestly. Does he seem really 'better' than other men?" Angel asked.

"He's magnificent." The tree thing said.

"Really? I'd say more like magnificently stupid. Because him with the beer tap in his chest and me with the, you know, just walking around." Angel walked up to Groo. "And I'm really getting tired of the 'Groosa- worship' thing." Angel slugged Groo in the face. The root-demon let out a roar. "Nothing personal, champ. Oh! Everyone makes such a big deal about the Groosalug." He slugged Groo again. The root-demon roared. "He's such a champion." Slug. Roar. "He's so rugged." Slug. Roar. "He's so emotionally available." Slug. Roar. "Look at him in the daylight." Slug. Roar. "But you know what? I'm smarter, and I'm stronger, and I pick out my own clothes!" Angel kicked Groo. The demon roared, withdrew its tap-root from Groo, and buried it in Angel's chest instead.

"Dad!" Liam cried. Angel dropped to his knees, catching himself on his left hand, while his right wrapped around the taproot.

"Okay. Oh, jeez. Well, it's okay. You know, no one is using my heart at the moment anyway."

"Kill you." the tree thing said.

"Sorry. Already dead."

"Vampire!"

"Yeah. Did I mention that?"

"Cold. Cold."

"Oh, yeah. It's kinda cold in there. But, hey, don't let that stop you." The tree demon moaned. The root bindings around Gunn and Fred shriveled and dropped away. Liam jumped up, grabbed Groo's dropped sword.

"So cold!" The tree said.

"So dead!" Liam roared at the tree. He buried the sword in the root- demon's face. A yellowish green liquid poured out. "That's for my father." Fred and Gunn went to check on Groo, while Liam checked on Angel.

"How is he?" Angel asked.

"Pretty beat up. Still alive thanks to you." Fred said.

"Beat up huh?"

"You got what you wanted. Are you happy now?" Liam asked.

"Oh yeah. This chest sucking business, this is the stuff." Liam laughed and helped Angel to his feet.

"Yes, Ms. Frakes. We are, too. You're welcome. Good bye." Wesley hung up phone. "Well, Ms. Frakes is very happy. You saved her fiancé's life."

"So he's gonna be okay?" Fred asked.

"Yes."

"That's good." Gunn said.

"Well, good work. You should probably get cleaned up, then."

"Yeah. Good idea." Fred said, getting up.

"Uh, Charles… A word?" Gunn and Wes stared at each other for a moment.

"Well, good night." Fred said.

"Good night. What is it?" Gunn asked Wes.

"When you knew this was more than just a tryst you should have told me." Wes said.

"It happened so fast. The thing just grabbed the guy and he was gone."

"That's... That's not what I meant."

"Oh. You mean..." Gunn pointed a thumb back over his shoulder. "Well... I'm not so sure that's any of your business."

"No. You're probably right. Still... She could get hurt. I trust that won't happen?"

"What are you, her brother?"

"Apparently."

"Wesley, I..."

"She chose. It's just important to me that she's taken care of."

"She will be."

"Good." Wes picked up his pen and went back to working on translating the open book in front of him. Gunn watched him for a moment then turned to go. Halfway to the door he turned back and opened his mouth, but closed it again without speaking and left. Wes looked up.

Angel scrunched up his face, as buttons rained to the floor.

"Sorry." Cordy said.

"It's, uh... it's okay. It, uh… was already ruined." Angel said.

"Well, if it's any consolation, I planned to rip it off him later anyway. You did get the potion, didn't you?" Liam reached into his coat that was hanging on a coat rack and pulled out the little bottle.

"Yeah. We got it." He said.

"Good. Now I need to talk to you." Delia said crossing her arms.

"A bout what?"

"About you going to a brothel and going after a demon when we weren't supposed to and you didn't invite me." She looked at him sternly. She grabbed Liam's hand and led him away. Liam handed the potion to Buffy as he was pulled away, apparently in trouble.

"Well. This isn't so bad. You heal almost as fast as he does." Cordy said to Groo.

"Princess, I... I have a confession to make." Groo said.

"Groo." Angel said. Groo looked over at Angel, who silently shook his head 'no' at him. Cordy pulled his face back around to look at her.

"A confession? What... what confession? Did something happen at the brothel? Angel and Liam was supposed to look after him!" Cordy said.

"Nothing happened! Except your boyfriend here was very brave, and saved the day." Angel said.

"You did? You big hero!"

"No. I was reckless! I put everyone in grave peril. Angel is the true champion. He saved us all." Groo said.

"Did you hear that?"

"Yeah, but..." Angel said.

"How many guys would just give away the credit like that? That is just so noble." Cordy held out her hand. "The potion." Buffy put the flask into her outstretched hand. Cordy took it then grabbed Groo by his shirt and pulled him up off the settee. "Let's get out of here! See ya!" They practically ran towards the exit.

"Cordelia." Angel said. Cordy stopped and looked back at Angel.

"What?" When Angel only stood there, Cordy held up a finger to Groo then walked back to Angel. "What is it?" Cordy asked. Angel took one of her hands and put a roll off dollar bills tied with a string into it. "What's this?"

"Just some money I saved up." Angel said.

"Why? What for?"

"I did something for you tonight. Now I want you to do something for me. Don't come in tomorrow. In fact, don't come in for a couple of weeks. Take Groo some place nice. Somewhere where there is sun. He'd like that."

"Angel..."

"Promise me." Cordy shook her head a little as she looked down at the money.

"Okay." Cordy turned to leave, then turned back and touched the hole in Angel's shirt where the tentacle went into his heart. "You sure you don't need some patching up yourself?" Angel looked down at his chest. "No, I... I'm good. Didn't hurt a bit. Besides, I've got Buffy." Cordy looked at him for a moment.

"Take care of her Angel." Angel nodded and she turned and walked out with Groo. As the door closed Wes came out of his office. Angel looked at him then turned towards the stairs.

A little while later, Angel walked into Wes' office carrying Connor in his arms

"Working late?" Angel asked.

"Yes. - You startled me." We said noticing Angel and Connor

"Oh, we didn't mean to."

"I thought I was alone."

"Yeah." Angel looked at Connor with a smile. "So did I." Wes watched as Angel kissed Connor's cheek and walked back out of the office. Wes let out a sigh and looked back down at his notepad where it read

The father - will kill - the son.

Wes stared at the writing in front of him. There was knock and Wes looked up.

End of chapter. Can anybody still guess Liam's plan? Who was at the door to Wes' office at the end? Guess. Comment. Review. Please do all three. Next chapter and the one after will have a lot more in store. Stay tuned.