Author: Lucinda

rating: pg, pg 13

story #1 in 'Bonds of Soul and Demon' series

mentions B/A, will be sorta W/Aus

begins with Innocence, season 2 BtVS

disclaimer: I do not own anyone.

distribution: Charity's site, others please ask

dedicated to Rose Mott, because she asked for something that was W/A

Angel was asleep, his body curled with Buffy on his bed. They had finally taken the next step in their relationship, and given in to their passion. He was dreaming.

He was in a dark forest, the trees looming and gnarled. Vines and briars grew in profusion, limiting the directions that he could go. There was a full moon, large and a deep orange that verged on red. Something hunted in the darkness, something dark and evil and hungry. Angel ran, his feet following a path that he could barely see. There were no sounds beyond the fall of his feat and his harsh, gasping breaths. No owls, no crickets... no other noise disturbed the darkness.

As he ran, fearing that the hungry something behind him would catch him, he began to hear something. It was the sound of many voices, all chanting words in a language he did not know. The chanting sounded like something he should recognize... it was important that he remember. He burst into a clearing, occupied by a circle of gypsy wagons, lit by three bonfires that crackled in the darkness, sending sparks into the sky. The eldest woman, the powerful sorceress turned, and he met her dark eyes...

Angel sat up in fear. He was awake, still gasping for unneeded breath. He had been dreaming of the night the gypsies had cursed him. He could still feel the dark and hungry presence, as if it was drawing closer to him... He had to get out of here!

Angel pulled on a pair of pants, and staggered out the door. Something bad was going to happen, he had to get as far from Buffy as he could before it happened. Angel staggered, feeling as if the fetid breath of something breathed down the back of his neck. He could smell blood, and fear and decay. He felt a sudden pain, as if sharp claws had slashed open his back, and he fell to the ground. He gasped once more, taking in air in a futile effort to prevent... Angel felt everything slip away, saw his body on the ground of the alley. A powerful force was pulling him away from his body.

Angel's last sight before the darkness closed over him was seeing his body stand up, the posture subtly different, more predatory. Angelus had returned to control...

end part 1.

Angelus pulled himself to his feet. The soul was gone... ripped away and banished to some place probably known only to the gypsies of the Kalderash clan. He was free, and hungry. Someone was asking if he was alright, he could remember collapsing.. She drew nearer, the scent of her blood and fear sweeter and more appealing than the finest perfume. He sank his fangs into her throat, drinking her life in a frantic rush. Hunger sated, warmed by the life of his latest victim, Angelus smiled.

He had a whole new opportunity ahead of him. He knew exactly what lay between this pathetic town and the dangers of the night. There was the watcher, immersed in his books and the pretty computer teacher. There was the slayer... he shuddered. What had that soul been thinking? Dating the slayer, saving her life, taking her into his very bed! The thought made his skin crawl. He could find better things to do than dance to the slayers strings. He could create terror and havoc the likes of which man could not have dreamed eighty years ago....

Wait. He was not a complete fool. Widespread creation of havoc and bloodshed had been his downfall before, when he had drawn the wrath of the Kalderash upon himself. Best if he learn from his mistakes, and not draw such obvious wrath again. No rampages of destruction, it would draw to much attention. Possibly kill the boy, Xander Harris. If he simply maimed him, he would know that Angel wasn't on the side of the good guys anymore... He suddenly remembered the last member of the Slayer's band. Willow.

She had a potential for passion that the boys in the school had never dreamed of. He had seen it, when she yelled at his souled self for not spending time with the Slayer. She also had a beauty about her, a delicate beauty like fragile flowers, instead of the bold sunlight of the slayer. He could tap that passion, claim her beauty for himself... yes, Willow would be his.

But first, he had to figure out a plan for dealing with the Slayer, and his Children, Spike and Drusilla.

end part 2.

Angelus meandered through Sunnydale, contemplating his options. He had no intention of being the Slayer's pet vampire, but he didn't want her hunting him down, intending to destroy the demon with her lover's face. She had a knack for the melodramatic gestures. How to enjoy the new chance he had without the Slayer going after him...

First, he needed to figure out a new place to stay. He had no desire to live somewhere that the Slayer would just drop in at anytime. Didn't she know about the concept of privacy? Just followed him right home after her and his souled self failed to get the arm away from Spike and Dru's minions.

He stopped in his tracks. The arm. The minions had grabbed the arm, they were trying to assemble the Judge. oh, shit... the giant blue nasty would ruin all his plans! The Judge was the Destroyer of Humanity, and what else was Willow but compassion and caring and love? He had to go stop his Children from assembling the Judge, otherwise, where would Sunnydale be? It would be a burned husk of a town, with nothing but demons inhabiting it. No humans to feed on, no stores to get nice things from. Thinking frantically, he began to run towards the abandoned factory his Children were using as a lair.

Spike would be on his side for this, he remembered that William had always been one for asking what the point was of all the violence and bloodshed. Dru was the pretty one, with visions and secrets, but William, he was the smart one. William had always been smart, turning him had merely opened new worlds of possibility to him. William would be his ally in this, he would want the ease of hunting humans as well.

end part 3.

Angelus finally settled on a mansion. It was a bit on the dark and empty side, but that meant he could move in immediately. He stayed there through the day, thinking that not only did he have to find something to fill the daylight hours, but he had to get rid of the Judge's arm. Slowly, a plan began to take shape.

First, after making certain that the box was solidly shut, he would send it to the Council of Watchers. They would assume that Giles had shipped it to them. Angelus smiled wickedly at the mental image of the Watchers opening the box. He remembered how it had tried to strangle the scoobies, and that while it was just an arm. Maybe it would finish off some of the watchers. At any rate, it would be far from Sunnydale.

Secondly, he would have to make contact with William, see if he could prevent Dru from trying any other grand schemes like this. He would also tell him to make certain that Willow wasn't harmed. William could maintain the semblance of control over Sunnydale's vampires, he was his Sire, and therefore, William would have to obey him.

He would have to seduce Willow, win her over to him carefully. Things would be so much more interesting if she came willingly to his arms and bed. The direct blunt approach of killing everyone around her and taking her would attract too much attention. Besides, there might be some difficulty in finding her family to kill even if he were to try.

The next evening, having carefully placed the box inside the post office shipping area, he crept into the factory. It was far too easy. There were only a couple minions standing watch, one of them so badly that Angelus simply walked up and staked him. That finished, he walked into the main area, where the remnants of Dru's party were set up. There were long tables spread with red cloths and trailing ivy. Wooden chairs overturned, and empty wineglasses over the table and shattered on the floor. There was a single figure, a man in a wheelchair, positioned near a group of boxes.

"Hello William. Why in the world did she want that thing anyhow?" His voice carried to his childe's ears, but did nothing to dull the hollow emptiness of the factory. "He doesn't match the decor, I don't think he takes orders well, and if he destroys humanity, what will we have for dinner?"

The wheelchair spun around, revealing his childe. The blond looked startled, and suspicious. "Surprised you're here, mate. Where's the bloody Slayer?"

Angelus shuddered. "Please don't bring up the soul's idiocy." He looked his Childe over, noting the slow healing burns over his face, the chair, the unresponsive legs. "The gypsies must have left a few words out, or had a clause in their curse. Soul's gone, and now, I'm free. Now that I'm back, I wanted to talk to my Childe. I've had time to think, and one of my thoughts was that he," Angelus gestured at the partially assembled Judge. " would be nothing but trouble. I have a few goals, one of which is keeping a lower profile than I did before. Another... well... lets just say I have plans for someone, and they would be no fun at all if the Judge incinerated her before I get to play."

"So, you're soul free again. What's that gonna mean for us? Are you planning to take over the town, summon a big bad, what?" Spike was curious. He had missed his Sire, and if he was really back, it would be a wonderful thing. If this was all some sort of elaborate trick...

"My plans are simple. I don't need to take over Sunnydale, you have it, and as my Childe, I have you. The Hellmouth calls enough big bads without summoning any more, and as for my other plans... well, I thought we could be a family again. I also have my eye on someone, a fiery little redhead. You will do two things. First, spread the word that she's off limits. Second, get a better class of minion. We want to avoid the dramatic rampages that will draw attention and the Slayer." Angelus smiled, an expression without the bitter despair of his souled version.

"Obsessing over the redhead? Well... she the one with the Slayer? I saw her I think... wears a lot of fuzzy clothes? No self confidence? You planning on having her join the family or just keeping her to play with for a while?" His childe was smiling now, pleased to hear that his Sire had been thinking ahead.

"That's Willow. As for the possibility of turning her... I want to see how she deals with everything first. I want her, I just don't know if she's got what it takes for centuries." Angelus' smile held nothing of warmth, only a predatory anticipation.

end part 4.

Willow was walking home from the school library. She had been there since school had let out, researching first on the Judge, and secondly on Spike and Drusilla. Buffy had gone on patrol early, claiming that she wanted to slay things. Privately, Willow thought that Buffy mainly wanted to look for Angel. The souled vampire had disappeared the night he and Buffy had set out to get rid of the Judge's arm. The plan having been to put it on an outgoing ship. He had taken Buffy to get her arm bandaged after they had fought some of Spike's minions, and that was the last anyone knew about his location. Willow was fairly certain that Buffy was editing the story, she got this distant look after she said Angel had taken care of her arm...

She was probably not safe, walking home by herself. Sunnydale was full of dangers, vampires, demons, who knew what could be hiding in any given shadow? Willow shivered, having the oddest sensation that somthing was watching her. She glanced around, but there were too many shadows. She walked a bit faster on her way home, hoping that if there was something out there, the solid doors of her house would stop it from getting her. Finally, she got to her house, and darted inside, shutting the door behind her and firmly locking it.

Willow was very tired as she went to her room, the long hours of research and her recent nerves wearing her down a bit. Thankfully, she had finished all her homework in study hall, so that wasn't an issue. She froze, having just turned on the light of her room. There was a rectangular box on her bed, the sort that clothing gets packaged in, and it was wrapped with a dark green ribbon. There was also a small vase, swirled with green and gold streaks on her desk, holding a bright bouquet of flowers. Tiger-lilies and daisies and little bright flowers that she couldn't name. Her backpack dropped to the floor as she started in surprise.

She slowly walked over to the bed, and opened the box. She was at the same time curious and nervous about what might be inside. There was a deep green silk nightgown, with loose sleeves gathered at the wrist, and a lace trimmed neckline that fell along her collarbone. There was a robe in the same deep green silk, with panels of lace over the front and the edges of the full sleeves. The items were exactly her size and very lovely. Who would be giving her flowers and a silken nightgown?

Willow sat on he edge of her bed, deep in her thoughts. She had an admirer. This someone had gone into her room to leave her these presents, and he, was it actually a he? her admirer had excellent taste in gifts. he had a sudden thought, was the person that had left her these still nearby? Were they watching her to see how she reacted to her presents? Just to be safe, Willow went into the bathroom before changing into the silk nightgown.

Outside, Angelus smiled as Willow admired his gifts. She had felt the minion following her, that was probably good that she paid attention to her surroundings. She had smiled at the flowers. He had wanted to give her something special, not the traditional roses, something as bright and lovely as Willow herself was. She came out wearing the nightgown. It clung to her curves, encasing her figure in a tantalizing show of grace and shimmering silk. She was breathtaking. He was well aware of her beauty... and with time, he would have her.

end part 5.

Jenny Calender sat at home, reviewing her lesson plans for her computer class. What nobody in Sunnydale knew was that her life as Jenny Calender was all created by her family, to better enable her to fulfill her mission. She was in fact Janna Kalderash, of an old family of gypsies. There was power in her family, she was actually a descendant of the most powerful Gypsy sorceress in the recent centuries. Her great, great grandmother had been the focus of the casting circle that had cursed the vampire Angelus with his soul. The spell had been intended to make him suffer for the rest of eternity. Ever since, members of the Kalderash family had tried to monitor him. To make certain that the spell held. That his existence remained one of suffering and misery.

Janna had only inherited a fraction of her ancestress' power. She was a fairly skilled caster, but not powerful. She had also had a few glimpses of the future. Mostly, her trickle of sight was useful to give her an indication when she should look into something. She would have a feeling that here was something important here, and she should investigate. She had been having dreams. She couldn't remember them clearly, but she seemed to be living in a horse drawn caravan. There had been a terrible tragedy... Once awake, she could never remember the details. Prompted by her dreams, she had called her uncle, asking him to look into the curse that was cast on Angelus. She had the feeling that there was something important that she didn't know about it.

Her uncle had laughed a bit, although he had been nervous. He had promised to look into the matter, simply because Angelus had been so dangerous. That had been a week ago. Her dreams had only been getting worse. Whatever was going to happen, it was here, and she had to find a way to contain it.

The phone rang, and it turned out to be her uncle. He sounded very worried, and he wanted her to meet him at one of the small hotels near Sunnydale. She agreed, and made plans to meet him well before sunset. Whatever had shaken him this badly had to be serious.

"Janna. I looked into the curse as you requested. There was a clause in the phrasing. Perhaps our ancestress felt it to be of no concern, perhaps it was needful to properly form the spell. If ever he knows a moment of happiness, a moment when his soul and past no longer torment him, the curse will be broken, and then his soul will leave him. Angelus will walk free once more. You said that this girl, Buffy is involved with the vampire. Do you think..." His voice trailed off, unwilling to give voice his fear.

"Maybe. She's a seventeen year old girl. Whatever else he may be, the vampire has a handsome face and good muscles. He's attractive looking, and I don't know... they might do something to endanger the curse. Just as a precaution, could you get me the information to attempt to recast it if the worst happens?" She was terrified by the implications. She knew what terrible things Angelus had done. There were the stories of the wrongs done to her family, and Rupert's Watcher diaries.

"I think it would be safest if I warn them that there might be a weakness in the curse that gave him back his soul. Maybe that will be enough to give us the time we need." Her voice held no confidence. Janna feared that her dreams were giving her a warning, that the spell was coming undone in the near future, or perhaps it had already happened.

end part 6.

Janna had talked to her uncle, and the only thing she could think of was to gather the scoobies together and warn them. Hopefully, she could do this without shattering their trust in her. She hurried towards the school library, where they were all supposed to be meeting. Rupert and Buffy were already in the library. Buffy looked upset, like she had been crying about something. Willow and Xander weren't there yet.

Janna, no, she reminded herself that they knew her as Jenny, accepted a cup of tea and joined the other two in waiting for Xander and Willow. Buffy mentioned that she hadn't seen Angel for the past few days, and she was really starting to worry about him. Jenny got a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. Best tell them now.

"I have some news for you. I did a bit of research on Angel's curse, and it has a loophole. There's a clause that if he ever knows a moment where his soul isn't a torment, he'll lose it. We could be facing Angelus in the future."

Meanwhile, Xander and Willow were now in the school, headed or the library. Xander was complaining that he already spent more than enough time at school, what had come up that was so important that they had to be summoned back to school again... A dark figure stepped out into the hallway.

"Deadboy! you scared me half... what are you doing here? Any clues as to what the urgent meeting is about?" Xander was not pleased to see the vampire. He had never liked Angel, never understood why Buffy always thought he was so impressive.

"Something's come up. There's a new danger in Sunnydale." He restrained a smile, trying to imitate his cryptic souled version. "I need you to come with me."

Xander moved towards the water fountain, reluctant to leave with the vampire. "I really think I should go see what's up in the library." He eyed the vampire. Something seemed a bit off.

"What's the matter? Is it a new demon in Sunnydale? Maybe a new master vampire? Is Buffy in grave danger again?" Willow stood in place, looking at Angel as she asked her questions. He seemed different to her, and he didn't get that little twitch at the mention of Buffy in danger that he'd always gotten before.

Angelus took a few steps, closing the distance between himself and Willow. He reached out, his hand gently brushing over her throat, pausing slightly over the soft flutter of her pulse. She looked up at him, her eyes bright with intelligence, curious and unafraid. He pulled her close to him, and Willow gasped slightly, surprised.

He leaned down, his words a bare whisper into her ear. "I didn't come here for Buffy. There are others far more interesting, and more lovely. The veils been lifted from my eyes, Willow. I don't want the Slayer anymore. I have someone much more interesting in mind."

Willow froze, her eyes going wide as he whispered into her ear. Angel never spoke like that. That could only mean...

Xander rushed off down the hall, yelling for Buffy. As Buffy came running from the library, she saw him half carrying a shocked Willow towards the door, and attacked him. In the brief fight, Willow was released, and sank to the floor. Willow remained crouched by the wall, watching the fight with wide eyes.

In the end, the vampire got away. Buffy escorted Willow into the library, where Ms. Calender again explained that she had found a clause in his curse, and feared that Angel might lose his soul. Buffy was getting paler as the explanation continued.

end part 7.

Willow watched as Buffy got paler and quieter. That didn't seem normal for Buffy, well neither was charging down the hallway and beating up your boyfriend. Except... Angel hadn't been acting like himself either. Something was adding up oddly here... "Buffy? Is there anything you can add to this?"

Buffy fidgeted, and twisted a thread on her sleeve. When she eventually spoke, she didn't look any of them in the eye, and her voice was barely over a whisper. "I think it may be my fault. After we left with the arm, we were attacked by some of Spike's minions. He took me back to his apartment to bandage my arm and then we... I think it might be because of me that the curse was broken."

Pandemonium broke loose in the library. Everyone had managed to fill in the bits that Buffy didn't say, of what had followed the bandaging of her arm. Xander was stuck on the point of 'how could Buffy do THAT with a vampire'. Giles was concerned for the possible repercussions, and how this was upsetting Buffy, while Jenny was worried about the curse.

Willow was still sitting there, quietly trying to make sense of it all. Buffy had slept with Angel. His soul had a clause where if he was ever free of his guilt and pain, he would end up soulless again. What sort of craziness put a clause like that in a spell to punish a soulless vampire? Anyhow, after he and Buffy.. he probably hadn't been dwelling on his guilt. Now, they had Angelus in Sunnydale.

Willow made her way home, unescorted by Buffy. She felt like someone was watching her, but nothing attacked her on the trip home. In her room, there was a dark gray vase, with a dozen blood red roses in it. Sitting by her computer was a small box. Opening it, she found a gold chain with a pendant. It was shaped like the sun, with a piece of polished black stone in the center of the sun. There was a brief inscription on the back, possibly in Latin.

She spent a long time holding the pendant and pondering the implications before sleep finally came that night. Her dreams were filled with vampires.

end part 8. End A Darker Night.