The Unchosen One
TITLE: The Unchosen One - Episode: 'Angel'
SUMMARY: AU S1. Merrick was wrong; Buffy is not the Slayer. She is a
Potential, but one who still has a destiny... on the Hellmouth.
A.N. Some dialogue has been taken from the episode
THANK YOU To Destiny for the mini-beta. To Maria,
Ashes and Courtney for the pre-read and suggestions. And to everybody on Facebook
who sympathized with my 'Dear ___' notes. :)
"This way!" Buffy yelled, veering down a smaller
Angel looked at her in confusion, half pointing straight
down the street even as he followed her. "But your house..."
"Your place's closer," she told him, not pausing
in her race.
For that matter, neither had he.
The two of them together could fight off the
run-off-the-mill demons and vampires, but these were the Three. The best
warriors the vampire world had created. He still couldn't believe that Buffy
had become enough of a thorn at Nest's side to have him sic his best hunting
dogs on her.
If he hadn't caught them by surprise, he doubted he and
Buffy would have gotten away. It had been too close, in his opinion. But if
they reached safety before the Three caught up…
Somehow, they managed it.
"Come on," Buffy said, pushing open the main glass
doors of the building and turning toward the basement stairs. She froze
mid-step, whirling around to throw a puzzled stare behind him. "Why aren't
Indeed, the vampires were watching them from the sidewalk,
their anger at having lost their prey so palpable that Angel repressed a
shudder. "People live here," he explained, nodding to the old
elevator that led to the apartments above ground. "A vampire can't come in
unless it's invited."
He didn't tell her that, if one of his neighbors invited
them in, then his apartment would be unprotected. Good thing that most people
in the building were retired with little taste for the nightlife. He'd made
sure of that when he chose this place.
"Oh." Relief coursed through Buffy as she realized
the worst part of the danger was over. "I've heard that before, but I've
never put it to the test." She caught sight of the blood on his shirt.
"Right. This time you better take care of it right away," she said,
her tone brooking no objections, as she led the way to his door and waited for
him to unlock it. "Good thing we came this way. You've got the better
first aid kit."
Only because she had claimed that large bottles of
disinfectant and packages of bandages would tip her mother off.
Once inside, Buffy moved straight to retrieve the kit from
the bathroom, talking as she did, "When you said you were going to keep an
eye on me, you have to admit it sounded a lot more like stalking than... you
know, saving my life." He could imagine her expression at that precise
moment, the fear of the last half hour giving way to reluctant acceptance that
he'd been right. Perhaps even a bit of contriteness at having accused him of
not trusting her to keep herself safe. "Now I'm feeling bad about yelling
Small noises announced her return to the main room.
"Perhaps you should-" Angel heard her say as he lifted his t-shirt
over his head, his jacket already draped on the back of the closest chair.
"-um, take off your clothes. Here." She showed him a clean shirt she
must have grabbed from his closet.
It was moments like this that made him realize how
comfortable they'd grown around each other.
Buffy hesitated a little where she was, subtly gazing over
his body, as she was prone to do when she thought he wouldn't notice. The spike
in her heartbeat gave her away every single time, though. Not that he intended
to enlighten her. It would only serve to embarrass both of them - not to
mention that he shouldn't be able to sense such minute changes in her.
She would know to change her behavior if she knew the truth,
and he wouldn't feel like a lying bastard every time. But how to tell her now?
Playing human had seemed necessary at the time. Vampires had
destroyed her life; she wouldn't want anything to do with another of them, no
matter how harmless, and why make it complicated? Whistler had explained that
Angel would only need to act when necessary; that Buffy wouldn't see much of
him. Why give her such a solid reason to distrust him? Her doubts had been
palpable enough when he’d been a stranger who had come to her aid unasked, with
only his word that he was on her side. Angel doubted that his word alone would
also have been proof enough that his soul had been given back.
And trust was essential.
Tonight he would never have been able to extract her from
the Three's grasp if Buffy had not believed without question that he would
fight on her side.
"Okay. Here we go," he heard Buffy say as she
started cleaning out the wound and wrapping the bandage around his torso.
Her touch was careful, yet decisive. She was getting a lot
of practice at first aid care, and only some of it on him. Her healing rate was
accelerated, for a human, but nowhere near a Slayer's. If Sunnydale's hellmouth
had been meant to have a warrior stand against its evil, Angel still couldn't
understand why it couldn't have been the current Chosen One. He heard through
the grapevine of her deeds in Cleveland, in Portland, even a couple hours away
in Los Angeles. Didn't someone realize how much they needed her here?
...or how much they would have, had Buffy not stepped up.
It had been impossible not to follow her lead, even as she insisted
that she was no leader and kept pushing him into the role instead. Act only
when necessary? Obviously, nobody in Whistler's sphere had taken into account
the very active and very temperamental hellmouth that seemed to delight in
making a single girl face everything from giant bugs to Darla's sire.
It had taken him a couple weeks to realize that to keep his
distance was to sign her death warrant. She was good, but she still needed
training... and someone she could trust to cover her back. How had he been
supposed to reveal then that he was not human, that he had deliberately misled
her during that first meeting? (For, what vampire would carry a cross?) Like
every lie, it had grown with every encounter. Now, two months later, they met
at least three time a week to practice together - without counting their joint
patrols at the most dangerous spots - and every time he surrendered to his
fears and kept his silence.
A hundred years ago, a woman had cut him off from everything
he knew for the great crime of not being what she demanded of him. Angel was
aware that Buffy was as different from Darla as day was from night. He told
himself that Darla throwing him away had been the greatest favor his sire could
have done for him. That he had chosen- inasmuch as he'd been able to
choose anything in those days - to walk away.
Despite his self-assurances, the fact remained: every time
he thought of Buffy's reaction, of the contempt that she was sure to show,
something very akin to terror gripped him. He refused to slide back to that
useless life he'd led before being brought to Buffy; but he was sincere enough
to himself to admit that, without her, that would be his likeliest choice.
"There," Buffy's voice brought him back to
reality. She tapped his side right below the bandage and looked with obvious
pride at her work - and with barely less obvious curiosity at the rest of him.
"You're full of surprises, aren't you?" At his confused look, she
pointed vaguely at the area below his right shoulder. "The big 'A' kind of
explains itself, but what kind of freaky bird is on top of it?"
He chuckled. This was Buffy. While he was probing deep into
his worst nightmares, she was puzzled about his tattoo. It should worry him
that she wouldn't recognize a mythical creature unless it was attacking her,
but why should she? Until last year, she'd been another Californian high school
girl without a single care for the supernatural. "A griffin."
The space between her eyebrows crinkled a little. "Is
it like some protection spell? Because Amy says she can make one work."
Angel shook his head. "No. It's..." A joke. That
was the truth of it. The griffin had stood front and center on countless coats
of arms, a symbol of strength and courage. How proud he had been of his own version
of it, how the girls had praised him, even William had thrown in a begrudging
compliment. "It's just a drawing I made," he finally said. "Some
friends insisted it became me."
"Good friends," Buffy approved, moving on to tuck
back the antibacterial cream, medical tape, and leftover bandage strip in the
He barked a laugh, then shrugged on the t-shirt she had
brought over in order to block her curious glance. “Never mind,” he mumbled
from beneath the fabric.
"Aaaaanyway," she started after a somewhat awkward
pause. "Back to opening that bag of surprises doubling as my favorite
punching bag - that is, you." He gave her the eye roll her comment
deserved; she knew as well as he did that they were pretty even on the training
mat. She closed the lid and started her way to take it back to the bathroom.
"I didn't know there was an artist in you. Color me..." Mid-step, she
halted in the middle of the room and looked around his place, this time taking
in the variety of pictures hanging on the walls, the stylised statue in its
display cabinet. A grin appeared on her face as she looked back at him.
"No. Wait. Somehow I'm not that shocked."
He smiled back.
It hadn't been until recently that he'd felt inspiration tug
his fingers to grab pencil and paper. Nothing redeemable had come out of it,
not yet. But as this precise moment, as he watched Buffy in the middle of his
apartment with the talk of mythical beings fresh in his mind, he could picture
in clear relief the one that would match this girl: a young phoenix shooting
out of her nest, wings extended as it soared toward the highest skies.
Buffy's smile dimmed and turned a little uncertain - a
Angel realized that he'd been staring.
The moment broke when she stepped forward.
He wasn't half as brave. Straightened and in three long
steps reached the nearest closet. Luckily, it was the one that held what he
needed for the night. He heard her back away, and at her return he'd already
finished building a makeshift bed on the floor with his extra blankets.
"Oh." Buffy spoke up guiltily. "Two of us,
one bed. I didn't think that through when I trapped the both of us here."
"We would have been just as trapped at your
place," he answered. "The Three won't give up until dawn."
She gave him the look she reserved for when he was
underestimating her. "I kind of got that from the snarling at us from
outside the building."
It was more than that. If the Three had gone hunting on
their Master's request, they couldn't go back without their prey. Their very
existence depended on it.
"That makes no sense," Buffy said after he
explained. "Not that I'm against the wasting of strong vampires - in fact,
it saves me a stake - but wouldn't it be smarter to keep them around?"
How to explain a process that went down hundreds of years?
The Three existed to serve their Master, their strength was one more weapon at
the disposal of the Order of Aurelius - and what was the good of a failing
weapon? Without their reputation, the Three were useless, less than nothing,
just broken tools to be eventually replaced. They wouldn't even try to escape
their fate. "It's tradition," he tried, knowing it was a lame
It was more than that. So much more. It was in their blood
to bend their knee before their maker, to put his wishes above their own. He
still considered himself lucky to have held so much sway over Darla's passions
that she'd left Heinrich for him. Even in his worst moments, he'd never wished
to have ducked the curse by staying in the Master's court.
If he had to lose himself, better to have done it as a
consequence of his own actions.
"Well, tradition sucks," Buffy retorted, moving to
sit on his couch. Realizing that she would have to step over the laid out
blankets, she changed direction to the chair where his jacket still rested. She
sat sideways, her shoulder against the back of the chair, and traced the edge
of a sleeve absently as she continued, "Okay. I guess we're not the ones
stuck with it this time, so"-her grin came as suddenly as his
foreboding-"I am just going to make the best out of it."
The time spent with her easily translated that into
Interviewing Angel Time.
He took a step backwards.
She followed his move with her eyes.
"I'm taking a shower," he answered her unasked
question. "Then I'm going straight to sleep. Long day." He made a
show out of yawning, even though he'd been up since shortly before sundown.
"I guess..." Buffy sounded disappointed, but she
would have to live with it. The last thing he needed was to slip somehow, and
have a Potential feel trapped between the Three outside and the lying vampire
in the apartment. He didn't think his furniture - and probably the building -
would survive her exit maneuvers.
"Guess I'll be heading to bed too. Thanks for making
it." She nodded to the pile at the floor.
Angel gave her a look. "That's for me. You take the
"But you're wounded." Buffy looked surprised.
"...and it's your bed."
"I noticed." He didn't bother to insist. She might
grumble at his old-fashioned ways, but she let him open doors, place himself
between her and danger (all right, she might do more than grumble then), and
had never mentioned giving back his other jacket. "Just toss a pillow over
here and we'll be even."
She nodded. "At least we're not sharing a room,
technically speaking. My mom would --- My mom!" It was almost comical, the
way her eyes widened. Then she was rushing past him on her way to the phone,
and moments later he could hear Amy's voice on the other side of the line,
promising that she'd call Buffy's mother and tell her that Buffy was spending
the night at her place after the Fumigation Party - and was already too dead to
the world to pick up the phone.
"Hope that's not literal, little one," Amy added, not
sounding worried in the slightest. "I'd hate to use you as a target."
Buffy scowled at the receiver. "Just try, you old
Angel would have warned her not to antagonize the mentally
unbalanced witch, but Amy's laugh crackled down the telephone line.
"Sleep well, dearest," said the voice of the
sixteen-year-old in the tone of a mother well into her thirties. Angel often
wondered whether another reason Amy kept in touch with Buffy was because that
meant there was one person for whom she could drop the teenager act. He didn’t
doubt she could throw a spell that erased the memory of her real identity.
"Tell hi to Angel," Amy added a little too gleefully, "and do
try to get that boy to stop being a gentleman."
Buffy blushed and hurried to hang up. "She's
creepy," she muttered to herself, and then louder, "Amy said
He nodded in acknowledgement. "Shouldn't you be calling
your mother yourself?"
"I suck at lying to her."
Angel gave her a disbelieving look. He'd been present when
she claimed that Willow, Xander, and Jesse were in her living room because of
an emergency study meeting for a History test the next morning, and that Angel
was - of all things - their tutor from the local college.
If he hadn't been too busy staring the two possessed boys
into reluctant submission, he'd have rolled his eyes at her dubious creativity.
"Okay, okay. I do fine," she admitted now.
"But Amy does it so much better, and mom adores her." She gave
a little shudder. "Must be some kind of subconscious mommy-bonding thing.
“Creepy,” he echoed.
"Very." She moved to stand up, but stopped herself
and looked around her, apparently taking in that she was sitting on his bed
already. He saw her consider her options, and finally sit back down and bend to
take off her shoes. "Okay, that's better." She looked down at her
ensemble and winced. "If I'd known I would get jumped by the bump-faced
Stooges, I wouldn't have bothered to dress up." She tried to straighten
her rumpled blouse. "Who dresses up to stomp on cockroaches, anyway? Small
towns are so strange... no wonder this is where hell takes a vacation."
He said nothing, having learned enough to understand that
when Buffy rambled it was because she was building up to something.
Indeed, she let out a long sigh and finally asked in a rush,
"I don't think you've got something I could borrow to sleep in?"
He was tempted to offer one of his t-shirts, but the sight
of her swallowed in his clothes would be a treasure better left undiscovered.
"No need." He pointed at the lower drawer in his stand. "There's
a set of workout clothes. Your size"
Buffy gave him an amused look. "You seem awfully ready
for our little sleepover."
"I like being ready," he responded, then felt his
lips curl into a teasing smirk. "After you forgot bringing an extra set
"Right." She stopped him quickly, her face
flushing. "What about we forget about that and let my pride survive?"
Angel chuckled. Few times had it been clearer that he was
dealing with a sixteen-year-old than when she was throwing a tantrum in the
middle of his living room after realizing she would be forced to wear her
sweaty clothes back home.
It had been... an enlightening experience.
"You're laughing," Buffy accused him, her cheeks
slowly returning back to their normal hue.
He sucked in his shoulders, unwilling to tell her that he
was more amused tonight at her reaction than that other evening at her
behavior. "Can you blame me?"
She made an affronted sound and whirled around, keeping her
back turned to him as she scooted across the bed to get the clothes. He turned
on his heel, heading toward the bathroom door, but her cold shoulder thawed
enough to let her say, "Make sure to save me some hot water."
His snort went ignored.
"Here. Before I forget."
He grabbed the pillow inches before it hit the back of his
head, and turned around.
Buffy was now sitting up against the wall that doubled as
his headboard, her bundle on her lap. Her eyes were a picture of complete
innocence. "You said to give you a pillow."
He laughed aloud this time, and tossed her latest weapon
onto the center of his makeshift bed. "You're such a brat."
"But I'm a brat who can recognize an evasive when I see
it," she answered easily. "I'll still be here when you come back.
We'll talk then."
Angel looked over her, at the way her legs flexed a little
closer to her body and she sank into the remaining pillow. It wasn't every day
that she escaped a death sentence; he doubted she'd remain awake longer than a
few minutes. "Of course," he agreed.
Buffy's eyes peered at him. "Seriously?"
What was one more lie between them? "Sure."
She smiled. "Okay."
But she was already arranging herself across the mattress,
her fresh clothes now a limp bundle at her hip. In fact, as he tiptoed back into
the main room a little later, he did it to the sound of her even breathing in
the background. Angel glanced at her, and not for the first time wondered how
he'd managed to earn this girl's trust when she trusted so little else.
"Good dreams," he whispered, aware that he would
remain awake through the night.
He should have used the hours ahead in a more productive
manner. Not only would Nest retaliate in the near future, but this time he
would send forces less likely to rely on their own fame and underestimate
Buffy. Angel knew that their escape tonight was owed in great part to the
Three's utter certainty that a mere Potential would be no real challenge, and
their inability to adapt when they realized their error.
Whatever Nest's next move would be, he and Buffy needed to
But not tonight.
Tonight, he indulged in the heartbeat across the room,
learning its cadences and the rhythms of her body.
Just for one night, he gave in to the pretense that Buffy
was staying under his roof with full knowledge of his history, that his chapter
as the Scourge of Europe had been closed with her blessing.
Even without falling asleep, Angel decided, that was the
best dream he could get.
End of scene.