In Plain Sight
Written for IWRY Marathon2013.
Thank you, Dark Star, for hosting this again.
Characters: Angel, Buffy, Willow
Word count: 5728
Disclaimer: After all this time I don’t think Joss gives a toss. However, he still owns everything Angel and Buffy.
A huge thank you to Jo for a discussion that gave me the idea for this story, and also for her invaluable help.
Summary: Not everything is as it seems.
In Plain Sight
It’s his enemies who tell him the news. Not one of her friends calls. And why should they? They owe him nothing. He was nothing to her, and he knows this is what they say to themselves. As far as they are concerned they are correct. He hopes, with all his heart, that it was not true of her. A tiny part of him wants to believe that she still had fond memories of him but his head tells him that this was the way it had to be.
He left her so that it could be. And it was, years ago. And it seems that fate – that cruel mistress – had other ideas. For a while, for a few scant years, she had found love. His heart, if alive, would have died a little at that news. He had scolded himself. This was the reason for it all. So what was a little – a lot – of heart ache? This was the reason he had left her, so she could find love in a life that held little normalcy for her. He tells himself this every single day, despite the clause in his curse now a non-issue. Magic, ah, that fickle master. Spells and curses and witchcraft. The answer had lain in plain sight. Not that he had ever tested his curse since. Buffy had moved on. His love for her was still as deep as ever. He hadn’t found anyone else who made him feel the way she had made him feel. Perfect happiness was a rare thing. Buffy was his rare thing. People can love more than once, but perfect happiness? Now that was something else.
The vampire at the end of his stake has disintegrated into dust, leaving behind its terrible message.
Your slayer is gone.
Angel stares at the swirling ash the breeze is carrying away. His heart shrivels more. He hadn’t felt her passing. He has been holding on to the idea that he and she still have a connection.
He looks up and stares into the dark: into the heart of the city. He needs to kill something. A rage is building and it needs a release. Angel leaps high and scrabbles up the side of the nearest building. The wind up top is fierce. He snarls his defiance, daring it to snatch him away. It whips at him, not at all cowed, and the vampire with the face of an angel sprints away, across rooftops, looking to do his own violence.
He slips into the cool dark of his lair, filthy, torn, and bloody. The sun has been burning a hole in the sky for hours. Its deadly rays are no deterrent to a vampire on the prowl. Below the city, a warren of sewers and tunnels act like highways to the demons who shun the above-ground world. The underground offers safety to a sun-challenged vampire looking to do a world of hurt.
With the infinite care of a creature just holding onto his sanity, Angel lays down his gore encrusted sword. The leather coat, beyond repair, falls to the floor. His shirt follows, now a ribbon of silk and blood. Shoes that stink of the sewer and the things that float therein are pushed off one foot at a time. He steps out of his jeans, they are beyond saving too. The shower runs hot. He stands, motionless, under its scalding spray. The water on the floor runs red, then pink, then clear. The shower turns cold. He closes his eyes. A heavy sigh, almost a sob, tears free of his throat. After another long while, he reaches for the shampoo.
It’s been three months since, and he’s adjusted. It wasn’t like she was in his life, right? It wasn’t as if she still mattered. Who is he kidding? She was the centre of his universe, once upon a time. She was there for him when all hope was lost. The world is less now that she is no longer in it. So here he is, continuing on, doing the right thing, fighting the good fight. He recovered from the loss of the love of his life the first time round, he will get over Buffy’s death… again.
The hum of voices intrudes into his thoughts, pulling him back into the world. He is sitting in a diner, a coffee cup on the table in front of him. The sun is out, it is a beautiful day: he can see that from where he sits, in the one dark corner of the room. He’s taken to wearing sunglasses. They help with the glare, he tells himself, but really, what he’s doing is watching the humans. He’s been coming to Dino’s for a while now. He can’t help but think back to the days when the Flintstones were on television; and the owner’s name being Barney? Well it’s not hard to guess where the name of the diner originated. Ever since he saved Barney’s daughter from a vampire attack at the back of the premises he’s had an open invitation: free coffee and a seat at a table. There’s a manhole cover out the back and it’s in shade for most of the day. It’s perfect for access.
Chloe brings over a fresh cup of coffee. She puts it down, picks up his empty cup, and lingers.
Angel knows she likes him. How can she not? He’s her champion. He saved her from the monsters. He doesn’t encourage her but neither is he unkind. She’s young. She’ll find someone else soon.
“How are you doing, Angel?” she asks.
He knows he should take off his sunglasses, it’s rude not to, but he doesn’t. She understands.
“I’m okay,” he answers.
He notices she has a new piece of metal adorning her pretty face.
It mars the line of her left eyebrow. There’s another slotted in the side of her nose. Steel gleams from below her bottom lip. Her earlobes each carry four earrings. Two of which are crosses dangling on a chain. A large silver cross nestles in the hollow of her throat. She is taking his advice very seriously.
He realises she is waiting for him to say something more.
“I see you have a new addition.” He points to her eyebrow.
Her smile is brilliant. “You like?”
He nods. Chloe likes the look so who is he to judge.
She beams and slides into a chair. “I can get you a discount if you want one.”
Angel thinks about it. His preternatural body heals his wounds and it would spit out any stud or ring. Although, he thinks, what about silver? No, that’s for werewolves, you idiot.
He smiles at her and shakes his head. “Thank you for the offer.”
At her crestfallen look, he adds, “It wouldn’t take.”
It takes her a moment to figure it out. “Oh. Well. Sucks to be you, right? You’d be wicked awesome with a piercing or two.”
Angel has had a piercing or two, and not the kind she is talking about. He smiles again.
Chloe gets to her feet. “I like it when you smile. You’ve been doing that a bit more lately.” And before he can think on what to say to that she’s gone, back behind the counter.
Two women are chatting furiously, both barely letting the other finish a sentence before butting in. They’ve been out shopping. He can see that by the bags they have on the seats beside them. A man in a suit and tie, briefcase on the floor by his feet, sits at the counter, eating pie. The man next to him is on his cell phone and everyone can hear the argument he is having with his partner. A couple who look to be in their twenties are holding hands, staring into each other’s eyes. They’re in love. It hurts to see them. He turns his eyes elsewhere. A mother is sharing her fries with her toddler. She looks tired. Through the window he catches a glimpse of blonde hair and almost rises from his seat.
This is the real reason he is here. Through the window, every now and again, and for the briefest of moments, he sees Buffy walk by. It’s only for a moment but what a moment. She’s alive again and all’s right with the world. Reality hits and he knows it’s not her. Angel doesn’t care. He’ll take what he can.
Angel is thinking about moving on. It’s time. He doesn’t want to get too attached to the people he’s met. He’s learned the hard way. People who become his friends wind up dead. The city is a lot safer for humans now: the demon population is down considerably due to his nights of patrol. He finds himself standing in the middle of his room and doesn’t quite know how many minutes have ticked on by. He feels like he’s fading from the world, growing insubstantial until his presence is like his reflection, non-existent. He shakes his head. He has to move on. It’s the battle, the good fight that keeps him grounded. A new city will provide plenty for him to do. Decision made, he stares at the things he will take with him: his weapons, clothing, and a few precious books. Objects can be replaced. People can’t. He starts to pack.
A knock on his door startles him and he’s not easily surprised. He berates himself for not paying enough attention. Angel uses his senses to determine who is at his door. Whoever it is is human. The rapid beating of her heart tells him she’s in trouble. Faster than humanly possible, he’s at the door and opening it…
Time stands still for him. He stares. She stares up at him.
“Can I come in?” she asks, breaking the awkward silence.
He’s frozen on the spot. It’s not possible.
“Yeah, it’s me,” she says, and sweeps by him and into his room.
Angel turns slowly and shuts the door behind him.
“Dead?” she finishes for him and spreads her arms wide. “Not really.”
“Everyone does.” She bites her bottom lip. “Sorry.”
Turning about, she looks over the room. It’s bare. It’s Spartan. It looks unlived in. She raises an eyebrow at him.
“Can you say lair, Angel?”
He reaches out a hand. “Buffy…”
She moves to the only chair in the room. Her eyes are pleading. “Can I sit down?”
He nods his assent, and for the first time in years, wishes he had another seat: a sofa where two people can sit side by side. He leans against the wall, instead. Buffy is nervous. Her heart hasn’t stopped its galloping. He swallows the questions he has for her. He allows her to gather herself.
Buffy looks down at her hands, sees that she is twisting her fingers about, takes a deep breath and begins.
“A few months ago something happened to me. I was in New York. I had been out on patrol. I was cleaning out a nest. It was only luck that I managed to dust the last vampire before something hit me.”
Angel moves close to where she sits. “What hit you, Buffy?”
She looks up at him, wide-eyed, tears shimmering at the edge of her eyelids.
“It wasn’t like someone punched me. There was a breath of wind and it was cold. It sliced through me like a blade made of ice. The upshot is I’m no longer the slayer.”
It takes a moment for her words to sink in.
“I don’t have slayer powers. I’m a normal girl. Ordinary.”
She attempts a smile, fails. “Truth.”
Angel can only think about the time Quentin Travers and Giles had robbed Buffy of her powers.
“Is dead. The Council is gone. Something else did this to me.”
Angel begins to pace. “Where have you been all this time? “
Buffy hangs her head. The fall of her hair hides her face.
“I ran away,” she mumbles. She picks at her nails. “I was tired, Angel. I was tired of it all. How many years has it been? I thought I had what I always wanted. I thought I was going to be a normal girl, live a normal life.”
He kneels down beside her. He takes her hands in his. “Oh, Buffy. It’s okay to want that.”
She sniffles, and he realises she’s crying. “I thought I wanted it. I tried, Angel, I tried.” She pulls a hand from his and wipes at her face. Green eyes stare at him.
“And then the monsters came. I tried to help Helen and the others. I did my best but it wasn’t good enough. I got hurt.” She pulls up her top for a moment. He sees a healing scar. “A slayer came but it was too late. I managed to slip away.”
Angel pulls Buffy into his arms.
“Shhh…it’s not your fault.”
She’s quiet for a moment. Angel closes his eyes at how wonderful Buffy feels in his arms.
“What does it say about me, Angel? Xander and Giles and Dawn and the others who have no supernatural powers manage to do it, why can’t I? What does that say about me?”
Angel is struck by a sense of déjà vu. His mind begins to spin.
“Dawn?” he manages to ask.
Pulling away from his arms, Buffy wipes at her face again. Angel thinks she has never looked more beautiful. “She knows. She’s the only one who knows I’m alive. I swore her to secrecy.”
Angel sits back and onto the floor.
“The others had you, Buffy. You inspired them and you protected them. You had nobody when you needed help.”
“Yeah.” She snorts. “Fat lot of good I did Xander.”
Because Angel knows what Buffy is going through, having been a normal boy once and having asked to be changed back into a demon because he couldn’t cut it as a human – it was so Buffy could live, he tells himself – and feeling like the world’s biggest hypocrite, he asks, “Is it so bad?”
A fleeting look of unease crosses her face. Getting to her feet, Buffy starts to pace. He stares up at her. He watches her as she paces two steps forward, turns, and then steps two back.
“I know the thing you want the most in the world is to be a real boy, Angel. I know that. You have a demon inside you. You live on a knife’s edge because of that demon. But imagine what it would feel like to be normal, to be without your strength, speed, and agility. Could you turn away from helping others? Could you be like Xander and Giles, fighting the good fight with only your wits to help you? Maybe you could. You’re a better person than I am.”
I’m not, he thinks, ashamed to correct her. His mind catches up with an earlier sentence.
“I thought we both wanted me to be a real boy,” he whispers, barely getting the words out. The conversation is an echo of one all those years ago.
She stops pacing and squats down before him. “Oh, Angel. I’ve dreamed a million dreams about you being human and me being with you. It will never be. I see that now. And if you can’t be a real boy then I don’t want to be a normal girl. I’m a slayer. It’s a part of me.” She smiles a little. “I have a little demon in me. Slayer,” she points to her chest, “or was. It’s what gives slayers their powers.”
“I thought you didn’t …” he stops.
He looks away, unable to meet her gaze. “You were in love with someone else. Seemed to me you were no longer my girl.”
The warmth of her hand on his cheek has him turning back to look at her. Buffy’s eyes are shining.
He had given up all hope. His heart feels as if it is about to burst. He dares…and leans forward and captures her lips. She kisses him back and all the years melt away. He’s the first to pull back.
“We need answers,” he says. “We need to get you back to where you belong.”
Shaking her head, she says, “I belong here. I know that now. And I’m not here just because I need your help.” She grins at him. “But help would be good too.” Rising to her feet, she puts out a hand. He takes it, smiling at her, and climbs to his feet.
“Do you have coffee?” she asks hopefully.
He has tea.
Over a cup of tea, she tells him where she had been living. It was in a small city on the east coast, south of New York. She’d been working in one of those large multi-national health stores, selling vitamins and eco-friendly creams and organic produce to the health conscious. It had a familiarity about it; it reminded her of the Magic Shop Giles had once owned. Apparently, the monsters in town thought it such a store and had come looking for magic supplies, and when they discovered they were out of luck, they took their frustration out on the staff. Buffy had barely gotten away with her life. The rest of the staff had been butchered.
Angel watches Buffy as her fingers clench about her cup. Once, that cup would have shattered with the strength of her grip. Now, the piece of crockery was safe in very human hands. His mind is reeling. The situation feels surreal. He wonders if there is still an entrance to the Oracles, below the post office back in L.A. and would they be there to answer his questions if he came knocking. And thinking of help…
“Yeah. I guess she’s my best chance. God! She’s going to be so pissed at me.” Her head hits the back of her chair and she closes her eyes.
“Was there anything unusual about the nest you were cleaning out?”
“Like a creepy artefact? Crystals? A pentagram drawn on the floor?” Buffy opens her eyes and sits up. “I’ve been racking my brains about it since I decided the normal life wasn’t for me.” She casts a rueful smile. “Up till then I didn’t want to think about the why and how. My bad, eh?”
“Someone or something wanted you out of the game.”
“And they succeeded, didn’t they. God, I’m stupid.”
He hesitates…“Not if it was a Higher Power.”
“Higher Power?” Buffy stares at him, puzzled. “You mean this could be meant to be? My duty is done? No! I’m not having it.”
Déjà vu is tramping up and down his spine in large hob-nailed boots. He resists the urge to shiver.
“First thing is to call Willow. She will want to examine you and check for any sign of a spell. Sometimes there’s residual evidence.”
“And if not?”
“We go back to New York, where it happened.”
Angel has another thought.
“How did you find me?”
“I found a Wiccan who used a locator spell.”
“You would have needed something of mine to…”
“Your claddagh ring.”
“I found it hiding in a crack of stone in the mansion on Crawford St. After you left Sunnydale I went back there a couple of times.”
He is lost for words.
“The Wicca pointed me in the right direction but I had to look for you all over the city. I had almost given up too.” She giggles. “There was me, running about during the day, looking for a vampire. How dumb is that?”
“And then it wasn’t. There’s this diner in town. I must have walked past it a hundred times. Dino’s. I called in there for a coffee today…Angel?”
Angel doesn’t believe in coincidences. The room tilts a little, or is he falling? Is it possible that all the blonde women he saw out of the corner of his eye when he sat in the diner had been Buffy? Had his mind tricked him into believing it hadn’t been she? A more sinister thought pops into his brain. Or had something prevented him from truly seeing Buffy?
The sound of the slap ricochets around the room like a gunshot. Willow’s eyes are narrow slits. Willow’s best friend stands there, her cheek flaring red. Angel leans against a wall, keeping well out of the way. Willow had knocked on the door of Angel’s room within minutes of Buffy’s phone call. She had materialised nearby in the street above and made her way down.
Angel can hear Willow’s teeth grinding together.
“I thought you were dead. How could you do that to us, to Dawn?”
Buffy finds the sight of her feet very interesting.
Willow’s eyes widen. “Dawn knew? She knew and she didn’t tell us? Wait until I see that girl!”
“I’m sorry, Will.”
Buffy gets another slap but it’s on her arm.
“Come here.” Willow flings her arms about her best friend and squeezes her tight.
Muffled voice. “Never, ever do a disappearing act on us again.”
Both girls are crying. Angel hears Buffy ask, “We’re good?”
“If you don’t tell me Angel knew you were alive all this time and I don’t have to kill him for not letting on, then yes, we’re good.”
When they pull apart, both women are grinning at each other.
“God, I’ve missed you!” they both say.
Once Willow understands Buffy’s dilemma, she immediately sets about investigating. Gone are the rituals Willow once used. Incense, candles, salt, herbs, are no longer a necessary prop. Willow is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful witch in the world. Her power lies in her determination, in her will. She mutters a word and stares into Buffy’s eyes. A frown forms on Willow’s brow. The red-head slowly walks around her friend, peering at something only she can see.
A tiny ball of light appears in the witch’s hand. Willow releases it and it drifts across to her friend. It fades away as it makes contact with her.
“Mmm…” Willow doesn’t answer. She begins a chant. Angel tenses. There’s danger in the room. He can feel it. Before he can react, Willow cuts the air with her hand, and the feeling dissipates.
Buffy can’t stand the suspense. “Willow.”
“It’s not black magic.”
“You can tell this how?”
“The light I conjured up would have flared up if it had come in contact with dark magic.”
“Oh. What does that mean?”
“And the spell I wove seeks out demonic presences. It ignored you and…”
Angel understands. “It went for me.”
The witch nods.
“Which means?” The slowness of the explanation is killing Buffy.
“Which means something else has done this to you.”
“Are you saying that white magic did this to me? Why would anyone use a ‘good’ spell on me, Will? That’s ridiculous.”
Angel asks, “Can you tell if there’s any kind of spell on Buffy?” The déjà vu is back.
“I can, Angel, and no, there isn’t,” Willow says.
Buffy stamps her feet. “Something has done this to me. I want to be back the way I was.”
“Can you tell if the Powers have done this?” Angel says.
“The Powers That Be? Why would you think that?” Willow asks.
“Perhaps they think Buffy has earned her rest. Perhaps they have given her her reward.” Angel feels a sweat coming on, and it takes a lot for a vampire to sweat, being dead and all.
“As I said before, Angel, if it is the Powers then they can take their reward and stick it up…”
“I would be careful what you say, Buffy,” Willow says. “They could be listening.”
Buffy raises her head and shouts up at the ceiling. “I hope they are listening. Listen up, Powers. Take this back! Right now! I don’t want it. Give it to someone else!”
No one moves for a moment. Suddenly, Buffy leans over and attempts to pick up the chair with one hand. She fails. She kicks the chair and hurts her foot. She scowls at the chair while rubbing her foot.
“I think we need to go see the Oracles.”
Both women stare at Angel. Buffy is the first to speak.
“Who are the Oracles?”
“What do you know about the Oracles?” Willow asks.
“The Oracles are beings who work for the Powers That Be. I came across them the first year I started up Angel Investigations.”
Willow has a look on her face that doesn’t bode well for Angel.
The witch asks, “You actually spoke to the Oracles? The Oracles never speak to lower beings.”
Angel licks his lips. He’s nervous and trying not to show it. “The Oracles were killed by a demon. I killed it back.”
Buffy is confused. “If they’re dead how can we speak to them?”
He shrugs. “Dead is never the end in our world, Buffy.”
“Angel is right. The Powers will have reinstated the Oracles. It’s the way things work in their world.”
“The lady Oracle was a ghost when I last visited. She may still be there,” Angel says.
“Why did you need to speak to the Oracles?” Willow asks.
“It was a long time ago. It all came to nothing.”
“If you think the Powers have anything to do with my change of status then we had better go visit. Where did you say they hang out?” Buffy says.
“Under the post office.”
“You have a car, right?”
Willow snaps her fingers at them. “Hello! Witch standing right here. I can teleport us to where we need to go. Or near to where we need to go, because I’m not coming out beneath the city. That way could lead to terrible things. What’s the address?”
Angel recites the address. Willow pulls her cell phone from her bag and Googles a map of the area.
“What?” she asks, looking at their raised eyebrows. “You don’t want to teleport inside the walls of a building do you?” She fiddles with her phone, ignoring them for the moment.
Buffy steps close to Angel. She grabs his hand. “What if they have taken away my slayerness and won’t give it back? What will I do then?”
“What you’ve always done, Buffy. You’re the strongest person I know.”
“Will you still want me when I’m just a normal person?”
“I will always want you. Buffy, I’ve never stopped loving you.”
Their faces are close, their lips almost touch. Willow lets out a sigh. It draws them apart. Willow has a smirk on her face. “Uh huh,” she says. “I see I don’t need to tell you to hold hands.” She takes Buffy’s and Angel’s free hands. “Let’s rock.”
The next breath Buffy takes she finds herself and her companions on the streets of L. A.
“Wow! I never get used to that.”
Angel blinks. He turns about. He recognises the street they are standing on. “Mmm…”
Buffy giggles. “Angel’s way of saying he’s impressed. Where to, buckaroo?”
He leads them to the underground cavern where Doyle had first taken him. Buffy eyes the inscription set in a curved stone.
“What does it say?”
“It’s the Gateway for Lost Souls.”
She snorts. “They got that right.”
Angel lights the oil that is floating in the urn. A flash of bright light blinds them.
“Oh…” Angel holds his hand out to Willow. “I need your phone.”
She hands it over, a puzzled look on her face. The three step towards the light. When the girls can see again, Angel is gone.
The room Angel is in is a familiar one. It doesn’t have high ceilings and archways made of marble, with the room seeming to disappear into eternity. Neither are there two beings clad in togas, their skin golden and blue. Instead, Angel sees a man and a woman sitting on a comfortable sofa, and the place they appear to be is Cordelia’s sitting room. At least it looks like Cordelia’s living room. Both Doyle and Cordelia smile at him.
“Is that for me?” the person who looks like Cordelia says as she reaches out a hand.
Angel stares at her. He looks down at the forgotten cell phone in his hand. It flies out of his grasp and into the woman’s.
Cordelia fiddles with the phone. She pulls a face at something she finds there.
“It took you long enough,” the Doyle clone says.
Angel stares at the two of them.
It’s then he realises he’s come alone.
Cordelia notices him noticing.
“Pfft! Never mind Buffy. Come here and give us a hug.” Getting to her feet, she opens her arms.
Doyle beats her to a hug with Angel.
“Look, Cordy. He’s lost for words.” The Irishman is grinning when he releases the vampire.
Cordelia pushes Doyle aside and crushes Angel to her. She kisses him on the mouth and steps away, her teeth gleam the biggest smile he has ever seen on her.
“I said I was assigned a different road.”
Angel stares from one to the other. “You’re the Oracles now?”
“You got it, big guy.”
“Sit.” A chair moves of its own accord and hits the back of his knees. Angel collapses in the chair.
Cordelia nods. “Thank you, Dennis.”
“Phantom Dennis is here too?”
“Well I couldn’t leave him behind now could I?”
The surprises keep on coming. Never in his wildest dreams…
“There was a job vacancy,” Cordelia begins.
“And because we had already worked for the Powers as Messengers…” Doyle says.
“And they owed us big time, we landed the gig. My best audition, ever.” Cordelia grins. “Not bad, eh? Better than the alternative…”
Angel raises an eyebrow. “You chose your old apartment to hang out in?”
“No, doofus. This is for your benefit. We have a huge, gleaming, penthouse with all the mod cons.”
“You and Doyle. Doyle and you?”
“Yes, Mister State-the-obvious.”
A glass appears in Doyle’s hand. He hands it to Angel. “Drink this. It’ll settle your nerves.”
He takes a sip. It’s whisky. And it’s an excellent drop.
“Not bad eh? Better than that awful stuff you kept in the office,” Doyle says as he hands Cordelia a glass of wine. As he sits down beside her, a glass appears in his hand. He raises his glass.
They sit, staring at each other. Angel’s smile has lit up his face.
“You should do that more often,” his best friend says.
“So…back to business.” Doyle finishes his drink and his hand is suddenly empty.
“You’re here about Buffy,” Cordelia says, sipping her wine.
“You want to know if the Powers made her into an ordinary girl,” Doyle says.
“And Buffy wants to be a slayer again.”
Doyle is staring at him. “Does any of this ring a bell, big guy?”
Cordelia says, “The day you had the other Oracles take back?”
He’s surprised. “You know about that?”
“Doyle told me after the fact.”
Angel’s shoulders slump. “A few years later I signed away my Shanshu.”
“Pfft! You can’t sign away a prophecy, Angel. You of all people should know that. If it were possible then every prophecy would be dripping in blood, all those signatures.”
“Your Shanshu is a long way off, Angel. The Powers have work for you still. They can’t afford to lose you just yet.”
“Again, I ask…”
Cordelia heaves a sigh. She rolls her eyes at him. Thumps Doyle on the arm. “Tell him.”
“The curse. You think fixing the clause was easy? No way, man. It was the Powers who managed that little trick. You finding the spell in one of your dusty books wasn’t an accident.”
“You can get groiny with Buffy again,” Cordelia interrupts. “And what did you do? No, you didn’t tell her. You didn’t even go racing off to see her and tell her that you two can be together.”
“I thought she had moved on.”
It was Doyle’s turn to roll his eyes. “You didn’t give her a chance. So…”
“We decided to take matters into our own hands. We gave Buffy a chance of a normal life. We watched and waited for her to realise that the ordinary life for her wasn’t what she wanted. And we were right. Buffy can never walk away from her calling. It’s who she is. And who did she turn to?” Cordelia nudges Doyle’s arm.
He picks up the tale. “We wanted her to realise that what she wished for when she was eighteen wasn’t what she needed today.”
“And it worked. Buffy needs a partner who is her equal. And you are that man.”
Cordelia narrows her eyes at him. “Do I have to come over there and beat you about the head? No buts. Vampire. Slayer. Okay, that sounded wrong. But you know what I mean. Both of you deserve some happiness. There are dark days ahead, Angel. Enjoy while you can.”
He sits there, stunned. After a few moments, he manages to drum up one word.
“It’s done, already. Go!”
Angel gets to his feet. His mind is reeling. He stares at his friends, suddenly saddened to leave their company.
“Will I see you again?”
Cordelia gives him another hug. Her eyes are bright with tears.
“You better believe it, bubba. Come visit.”
Doyle shakes his hand. “Don’t be a stranger.”
As Angel turns away, he hears Doyle say, “That coat, Cordy. There’s still an attraction.”
His keen hearing catches Cordelia’s whisper, in the act of leaving.
Willow and Buffy blink at him as he emerges from wherever it is that the Oracles inhabit.
“I guess that’s a dead end then,” Buffy says, her spirits plummeting. “They didn’t want to know.”
She is surprised when Angel plants a huge kiss on her lips, picks her up and spins her about.
“What?” she gasps, catching her breath. “What happened?”
Willow lays a hand on his arm. “You were only gone moments. Did something happen in that short a time?”
Angel is beaming at them. He has a gleam in his eye.
“You’re never gonna believe this.”