|Primary Characters:||Pretty much everyone, but as always, especially Angel.|
|Warning:||m/m sex implied|
|Description:||A number of our favorite vampires get their souls back, and one favorite character comes back to life.|
The vigil at the graveyard this time was far worse than ever before. They were all there, Giles, Buffy, Willow, Oz, Xander and Cordelia. Somehow, Xander’s and Cordelia’s presence didn’t help much. Miss Callender’s death cast a pall over the night’s work. Not that they expected her to rise again. Angel, no Angelus, had broken her neck. Midnight approached, and Buffy started to say to Giles that he could go home. They were alright. Sad, but alright.
She broke off in mid-sentence. Was she imagining things? No. Something was moving inside miss Callender’s grave. It wasn’t possible. How had Angelus managed that? Was this part of his plan to hurt them? But Buffy knew that miss Callender hadn’t had a bite mark anywhere. Or had she? Or did there really need to be a bite mark? She didn’t know, and this wasn’t the time to ask the Watcher. And most important of all, would she be able to kill miss Callender?
Yes, there was no mistaking her. She had dirt in her hair, and she was wearing some kind of shroud. It wasn’t fair. Hadn’t Angel caused them enough suffering? But it was too late to think. Miss Callender was gone. This was just her body being used by some vile demon. Buffy’s Slayer’s instincts took over. She moved into position, brandishing the pike.
The rising corpse raised a hand to her face and brushed away some of the dirt from her eyes. A cruel smile moved her pale features.
“Oh, how appropriate. Here we all are. Isn’t that nice. A reunion for old friends. Rupert? Want me to taste you first? Oh, Buffy, you’re not going to kill me again, are you? Not me. Not that we met in class. Somehow you always seemed to miss all the classes you were supposed to go to, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I’m going to kill you. You’re not miss Callender. Her soul is gone. You’re just using her body. Don’t think the resemblance is going to save you.
Again, Buffy raised the slaying pike. Suddenly she felt a hand grab her arm. Who? Drusilla? Angel? Spike?”
No. It was Giles. What was he thinking? He could get all of them killed.
“No. Buffy, I can’t let you do it. It’s Jenny. Don’t you see it’s her. She’s back. Let her bite me. What do I have left to live for anyway without her?”
“Giles, it’s not Jenny. You know better than that. Let me finish this.”
“No. I can’t let you do it. She’s been hurt enough.”
By then Willow and the others had moved in, waving their crosses in miss Callender’s face. If Buffy wasn’t allowed to kill the apparition wearing a familiar yet strange face, at least the vampire couldn’t be allowed to kill them all. With a last screech and a hiss, the vampire using miss Callender’s body turned and fled into the night. Soon there was silence, except for the helpless sobbing of the Watcher. Giles had sunk down on his knees and was openly crying. The sight chilled Buffy to the bone. She had never seen Giles this distraught.
Her words of reproach died unsaid on her lips. Instead she turned to embrace the Watcher, but she was forestalled by someone she hardly would have expected to feel so much empathy. Xander. He kneeled down beside Giles and put his arm around the older man’s shoulders. For a long time it was as if Xander hadn’t been there at all.
But finally the sensation of touch filtered through to Giles’ anguished mind and he was reminded of the situation. He coughed, embarrassed, and struggled back to his feet. At first it seemed he wouldn’t acknowledge Xander’s support, but finally he held out a hand tentatively and squeezed the boy’s shoulder. Then he made himself busy, cleaning his glasses.
“Uh. Buffy. I’m sorry. Can’t think what got into my mind. Unforgiveable.”
“No. I understand. It’s tough to see the one you love all changed and evil. Believe me, I understand. I think we can pack it in for tonight. False alarm in that other case. Go home and get some rest. Do you want one of us to come with you?”
“That won’t be necessary. Appreciate the thought, though. Thank you. I think I shall – uh – go now. See you all tomorrow.”
They all stood watching the retreating form, stunned. Now, what? Willow voiced the thought all of them shared, except possibly Cordelia, who seemed absorbed in the task of holding her hair down against the stray wind that had arisen in the minutes after midnight.
“What do we do now? I guess we can’t let her run around free?”
“No. I must find her and finish this. No matter how horrible it is. But it’s not miss Callender.”
“What if it could be again?”
“No, Wills. Not again. We don’t want you to end up the same way she did.”
“Alright, I was only thinking. It’s not as we know how to restore her soul. But still… If I could find out how to -“
“Willow is right. If the gypsies could give Angel back his soul once, surely someone should be able to discover that curse again?”
“You don’t understand this Oz.”
“Yes, he does, Xander. That’s exactly what I was thinking. Oh, well. I’ll have to think some more.”
“I’m feeling a lot better now. And I was thinking -“
“Oh, Oz, if it worked for Angel, maybe we could use the same curse for miss Callender, maybe adapt it a bit and get her back? I think it’s getting too hard for her to be locked into that storage room for this long.”
“You don’t need to tell me. I only need to be tied up for a day or two and now it’s been what? A couple of weeks?”
For once, Willow wasn’t really listening to Oz. Ever since Buffy had managed to capture miss Callender and bind her that thought had been on Willow’s mind. What if they could get her back? In the end, Buffy hadn’t been able to bring herself to kill miss Callender. But they hadn’t been able to tell Giles either. The problem still hung over them.
Willow thought that if they could work the curse on miss Callender, then at least she would only have killed once or twice. Less for her to feel guilty about later. And as always when Willow’s brilliant mind set to work, she found the solution in the end. Once she had started working spells, the technique came more and more easily, until she thought she might have been born to work magic. For good, naturally.
And she had even asked grandma Rosenberg about it. To her surprise, she found that Jewish women had been working white magic for centuries, maybe even millennia. Not that grandma Rosenberg knew how to. But her own grandmother had and many of their neighbors in the old country.
What really surprised Willow was the fact that her grandmother seemed to understand without needing to ask any awkward questions. Even the crosses Willow had kept hidden away in her room to bar the new and evil Angel didn’t seem to faze the old lady.
“Just do what you need to do, my girl. I know you. You will do the right thing.”
So Willow got to work and was finally able to find the right turn of phrase to adapt the curse to restore miss Callender’s soul. The real problem would be to convince the others to help out. With Angel there had been the threat of hell opening to swallow up the whole world. This time there was only their caring for miss Callender that motivated them.
Willow knew she already had Oz’s vote, but what about the others? Buffy might still hate miss Callender, even though Willow personally didn’t think it was her fault at all, what had befallen Angel. And Giles didn’t even know they held miss Callender. Xander and Cordelia would oppose her, she knew that. But if she could convince Buffy, she and Oz would be enough.
To Willow’s surprise, Buffy was easy enough to talk into trying the procedure again. The Slayer was changed after the incidents that had led to her having to kill Angel. Or at least to banish him down into hell. The fact that he was now back and safe, didn’t change the horror she had felt, having to plunge the sword into his chest, when he was once again filled with love for her.
“Say no more. What do I need to do? I’m in.”
“Good. We’ll do it right outside the room where we’re keeping her. That way we can tell right away if it works. Then we can tell Giles. Won’t it be neat to be able to tell him Jenny is back?”
“Yes, Willow, it will. Ok. Let’s do it.”
As the last time, it was frightening to watch Willow’s transformation. She didn’t look like Willow anymore, and her body went all rigid, as she recited the long incantation in Latin. But as the last time, it worked right away. When they opened the door into the tiny room where they kept miss Callender they noticed at once that something had changed.
Normally, she would speak evilly to them or twist and turn on the floor, like a drug addict suffering withdrawal symtoms. Which in a way she must be. They had tossed down a few units of blood, in plastic bottles, and at first she had torn the plastic and splashed the interior of the cubicle, but eventually she had pounced on them as a cat on its prey. Now she was crouched on the floor, shaking with sobs. Hearing the door open, she loooked up, dark eyes filled with pain.
“Willow? Buffy? What’s happening to me?”
Willow ran up to the bars keeping the vampire at bay, but Buffy held her back.
“Wait. It could be a trap. Let me go.”
“She’s right, Willow. Stay here with me, and let Buffy check on miss Callender.”
“I feel so strange. It’s like I haven’t seen any of you for months. But didn’t I see you in school this morning?”
“Don’t you remember anything?”
“No. Yes. I was trying to finish the spell to get Angel’s soul back and he – Did he kill me?”
“Then what am I doing here?”
“It’s her, Buffy. Let’s all go in. She needs us now.”
“Willow? Tell me everything.”
“Alright. Miss Callender. When Angel was k- I mean, when he attacked you did anything happen that you can remember?”
“I tried to fight him, but he was too strong. I knew I was going to die, so I – I bit him. Am I a vampire now? No. No. No. I don’t want this. Make it stop. Kill me, Buffy. Please. If you care about me, kill me. Now.”
Willow had unlocked the padlock and was on the floor beside miss Callender. She put her arms around her former teacher and held her. It was hard to hold her still. Miss Callender might not want it, but she was definitely a vampire now, with a vampire’s strength.
“There, there. Don’t cry. You were too young to die. At least now you have some kind of life. And think about Giles.”
“Rupert? He still loves me? Where is he?”
“Why didn’t you kill me right away?”
“I was going to, but Giles stopped me. He still loves you alright. But he doesn’t know you’re here. We caught you and we’ve been keeping you here for weeks. Willow wanted to try and restore you if she could.”
At first that didn’t get through. Jenny’s mind was too busy grasping the implications of her transformation.
“How many people have I killed?”
“We don’t know. Not many. We got you very soon. Maybe only one or two. It wasn’t your fault.”
Again, miss Callender’s voice subsided into sobs, but this time she let Willow comfort her. All this was too much for her. It was a long time, maybe an hour or more before she had composed herself enough to leave the cramped little room where she had spent so much time lately.
Her apartment was gone, and just in case, they thought they would bring her to the library rather than Giles’ place. He would need time to get used to the new situation. Everything was changed, and it was better that he realized that from the start. His Jenny was gone, even if she was still apparently around. Willow and Oz kept miss Callender company, while Buffy called Giles.
When he came into the room, he stopped and stared. It was as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Jenny? Is it really you?”
“What’s left of me. Not your Jenny, but I guess you could say that it’s me.”
“This is wonderful. How did you – Willow? I suppose I have you to thank for this?”
“Don’t mention it. I’m just glad I was able to help. Come on Oz, I think we need to do some work in the computer lab.”
“We do? Oh, yes, that thing we need to do.”
“Are you coming, Buffy? I can show you that site with the cute guys. Oops, I mean the cool shopping sites. You didn’t hear that, did you, miss Callender?”
No, miss Callender really hadn’t heard a word they’d said. She only had eyes for Giles.
“Rupert. I can’t believe this is happening to me. Is Angel -?”
“What? Sorry, I was just looking at you.”
“Angel. Is he still Angelus?”
“No. Long story. He’s back and everything’s fine. Everything’s really fine now. I promise.”
“Willow did this? That girl is amazing. She should be somewhere other than the hellmouth, and definitely go to some other school than Sunnydale high. Her talents are wasted here.”
“Ah, yes. But let’s not discuss the children now. Let me look at you. You are really here again. I can’t get over it. Now I will never let you go. Never.”
Jenny smiled sadly. What Rupert was hoping for was impossible. Quite impossible. But right now she didn’t have the strength to push him away. She needed the warmth the mortal man could give her. Right now that was all that was keeping her sane. Time enough in the morning to tell him they could never love each other the way they were meant to.
Buffy left Willow and Oz walking back to the Rosenberg house, hand in hand, a dreamy look on their faces. She had been wearing that face, too. So long ago. What was left now? How could Angel really forgive her for killing him? Or rather flinging him down into hell. That she had been forced to choose between him and the future of the entire world couldn’t change the simple fact that he had loved her and trusted her. When she had told him to close his eyes, he had trusted her. And she had buried a sword in his chest.
She made a useless gesture in the air above her eyes as if wanting to physically remove that sight, that kept playing over over in her mind, whenever she wasn’t concentrating hard on her slaying. Her feet had been doing their own walking, without her mind’s control.
Suddenly, she realized that she was outside Angel’s place. Would he still be here? She knew he had disappeared for a while after returning. But she was hoping he might be back now. Her hand moved to knock on the door, but she was forestalled by the door swinging silently open.
“We need to talk. I know it was over between us long before what happened, but I would like to talk to you.”
“Of course. I want to talk too. And do you think Willow would like to talk to me too?”
“That’s one of the things I need to discuss with you.”
They talked all through the night, until Angel had to sleep, and Buffy woke up to the realization that she hadn’t been home all night, and she hadn’t thought to call her mom. Willow and Angel… That took some getting used to. As she was leaving, she remembered to tell Angel the news about miss Callender. Did he remember turning her into a vampire?
“Oh, I almost forgot. Miss Callender -“
“Yes. I must go to Giles and try to tell him how sorry I am about that.”
“Don’t think about that. It wasn’t you. But do you remember turning her into a vampire?”
“Did I? I mean, did Angelus? No. I had no idea.”
“But if you didn’t, how did it happen?”
“I remember the demon playing with her, almost letting her get away, then breaking her neck. Wait a minute.”
Angel stared down at his wrist as if he’d never seen it before. Buffy looked at it too, but couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
“She bit me.”
“And she got some of your blood into her mouth? That must be it.”
“So she’s come back? Did you -“
“Did you have to kill her?”
“No. And what I was going to tell you is that Willow got her soul back too. Just like yours.”
“At least that’s something. I still need to talk to them and say how sorry I am.”
“I’m sorry, I have to go now. Mom will kill me. And you need your sleep.”
“What? Oh. Yes. See you later.”
Angel had a faraway look on his face, as if he was dreaming. Did vampires dream? Buffy didn’t think this was the right moment to ask. She just gave him a quick peck on the cheek and she was gone into the rapidly receding darkness.
When she approached her house, she stopped and looked up at the dark windows. Wasn’t mom awake worrying? Or had something happened to her? Drusilla. What if the vampire had sent one of her minions over? Buffy hurriedly unlocked the door and went upstairs, breathlessly searching for her mother.
In the bedroom, she found her. Asleep, comfortable stretched out on her bed as if nothing had happened. Had she dozed off after worrying all night? Now she could see her mother’s eyes flickering under the eyelids.
“Buffy? Are you back so soon? Did you and Willow have a fight?”
“Willow called and said you were staying over. I didn’t expect you back this early.”
“Oh. I just worried about you. Never mind. Go back to sleep.”
Thank you, Willow. I owe you one.
After last night, she hardly expected to see Angel so soon again. But later that night, the vampire showed up again, outside Willow’s house, where they were discussing last night’s event. Giles had called and told them miss Callender was staying with him for a while. When the doorbell rang, they broke off their conversation and Willow ran down the stairs to get the door.
“Oh, Angel. Come in.”
Angel looked as if he still expected to be barred from Willow’s home, but as usual, the invitation did the trick.
“Did you want to talk to me?”
“What? Oh, yes. But right now I need to ask you all a big favor. Can we talk later?”
“Sure. But about me and Oz -“
“Yes. I know about that. It’s alright. I understand. And I’d love to talk soon. We have a lot to discuss.”
“Alright. Come on up. We’re all here, except Giles and miss Callender.”
In Willow’s room there was a stunned silence when Angel walked in. Everyone stared at him. Not all faces were friendly. Only one person got up to greet him.
“Hello. I’m Oz. You must be Angel. I heard a lot about you.”
“Hi. Pleased to meet you. I know you mean a lot to Willow.”
Oz smiled shyly, but apparently felt he had contributed enough. Buffy smiled weakly at Angel but felt unable to say anything just then. So Angel forced himself to go on.
“I know I have no right to ask this, after all the pain I’ve caused all of you, but please, restore Drusilla’s and Spike’s souls too. If you could do it for Jenny, please do it for them too.”
“Why? So you can feel less guilty about what you did?”
“Xander. It wasn’t Angel who did those things. You know that.
“Do I, Wills?”
“I agree with Xander. Why would we help the creature who opened the gates of hell? Oooh. What a mess that would have been.”
“Thanks, Cordy. You always know what to say.”
“What do you say, Willow, can it be done again?”
“I’m not sure. It worked with miss Callender, but then she was the one who worked the first spell, I mean the second one. I could try. Angel, if it can be done, I’ll do it, I swear.”
“Are you sure it’s safe for you to meddle with things like that?”
“Yes. Don’t worry about me, Oz. I know what I’m doing. The worst thing that could happen is that it won’t work. I think I’ll start with Spike. He’s more human. The way he loves Drusilla “-
“I know. After all the suffering I’ve caused, I would at least like to know that I brought them back.”
“I understand. I’ll get to work on it right away.”
Angel opened the door, as always wondering who it would be who sought him out in his lonely room. This time it was a most welcome visitor. Willow. He wasn’t jealous of Oz, but he missed her so much. But it was wrong of him to be so selfish. He couldn’t risk another human life just because he felt lonely.
“Willow? Come in.”
“I did it. I have the new spell. We could try to get Drusilla and Spike back.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not completely sure. I can’t be until I’ve tried, but I think so.”
“That’s great news.”
“Yes. Angel, about Oz -“
“Yes. You love him don’t you?”
Willow smiled. The look in her eyes told Angel the answer to his question. To his surprise it still hurt. But he was determined not to make this any harder on Willow. So he forced himself to smile back.
“Yes. I didn’t think anyone would want to date. Especially after you -“
“I’m very sorry about that. But you’re right. You should be with another human -“
“Oh, Oz isn’t exactly human, not all human anyway.”
“He’s kind of a werewolf.”
“Oh, I see. I haven’t run into a werewolf for a long time. But I guess he won’t be a werewolf all the time.”
“No. Just a few days a months around the full moon.”
“Willow, I want you to know, I’ll always love you. But you can’t be with me. It’s too dangerous. It’s better if I’m alone in this.”
“I still love you too, but Oz is making me so happy, and -“
“That’s ok. All I want is for you to be happy.”
“We’re still friends?”
“Always. If you ever need me, come to me. And I’ll do whatever it takes to help you.”
“And you must come to me, if there’s anything I can do. Like now. We can get started now if you want.”
“Yes. I’d feel a lot better if I could restore Drusilla. And Spike. They’re my responsibility. Everything they do, all the evil they cause, it’s my fault.”
“No. Not your fault. Angelus did all that.”
“I know. But still -“
“I understand. Try not to think about it.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You can come along. If something goes wrong, we’ll need your strength to protect us.”
“Xander’s got his mother’s car downstairs, and they’re all there, except Giles and miss Callender. She needs more time to get used to being a vampire. Otherwise, I could have used her help.”
“Yes. If she needs any help from me, I’ll do what I can to show her what it’s like to live as a vampire.”
“A vampire with a soul, don’t forget.”
There was no talking in the car, except a few words of hello as they drove out the the place Spike and Drusilla were hanging out these days. Spike had kept his word. He wasn’t giving Buffy any trouble. If they fed on a few humans now and then, no word of it reached Buffy or the Watcher. Things were very quiet on the vampire front nowadays.
Outside the beautiful manor house fallen into disrepair, Willow took some time to place all the necessary utensils around her. Then the others formed a circle around her. She kept looking at her notes, but finally she nodded. It was time. Now she broke into the circle, holding Oz’s hand on one side, and Angel’s on the other. For once, even Cordelia wasn’t fussing with her hair or make-up. Everything was quiet.
“I’m going to start with Spike. If it seems to work alright, I’ll try with Drusilla, alright?”
“Alright. If you think this is a good idea.”
“Yes, Xander, I do.”
“And that Drusilla, she’s a creepy one. How does she manage to get her hair to stay so wavy and shiny with her kind of lifestyle?”
“Not now, Cordy.”
“Oh, alright, but why do people always tell me to shut up? You never say that to Willow or Buffy, do you?”
“I’m ready to begin.”
“Fine. I won’t say another word.”
Cordelia let go of Xander’s and Buffy’s hands and made a childish gesture, hinting that she was locking her mouth and throwing away the key. Then she remembered to form the circle again.
Willow began to recite the words in Latin, haltingly at first, but with a growing certainty as she approached the central part of the incantation. Angel looked at her worriedly. If he got Drusilla and Spike back at the price of Willow’s soul, it wouldn’t be worth it. He considered the possibility of telling her to stop.
After all, both vampires were long dead. Was he doing anyone a favor by returning them? But it was too late. Now Willow’s body convulsed and her eyes rolled back into her head. Then she shook uncontrollably for a few seconds and the spasms subsided. When she looked up, she was the normal Willow again.
“I think it worked. I felt something.”
“Me too. Was that Spike getting his soul back?”
“I hope so. Now I’ll get to work on the other spell.”
“Are you sure you have the strength to go on?”
“Yes, Oz, I do. Somehow, holding your hands like this is giving me some of your strength. Don’t you feel it too?”
“Yes. But I just thought that was nerves.”
“If you think you can do it, let’s go on. Drusilla is a dangerous enemy to have lurking about your backyard. I have strength enough to give you.”
“Me too. As much as you need.”
“I guess I do too.”
“Why is everyone looking at me? I have strength too. What? Xander, tell them.”
“Don’t go picking on Cordy. She’s strong too.”
“Ok. Then we’ll go on. We’d better hurry. If Drusilla notices something strange about Spike he could be in danger. We all could.”
This time, Willow stumbled over the words. At first Angel thought it might be because she was nervous, or tired, then he realized that the spell was fighting her somehow. That worried him. Something was not going the way it should. Wouldn’t he get Drusilla back, after all?
He had a bad feeling about the whole thing now. But he knew better than to try and stop Willow now that she was right in the middle of the incantation. The curse had to work, it just had to.
The spell took longer to finish, and this time they could all feel the drainage of strength from all of them. When it was finally done, Willow slumped down, leaving Oz and Angel frantically trying to hold her up. Embarrassed, Angel pulled back and let Oz try to revive his girlfriend.
“Willow? Wake up.”
“Oz? I’m ok. We should go inside and check on Spike and Drusilla.”
Supporting Willow between them, Angel and Oz followed Buffy inside. Xander and Cordelia followed reluctantly behind them. Inside, they found Spike and Drusilla writhing on the floor not a yard apart.
The soft moans from Spike sounded subdued and numbed. Drusilla, however seemed to be about to launch herself into a fit of hysterics. She was wailing at the top of her voice, beseeching someone, anyone to help her. That girl had always had a temperament. Angel reached Spike first, and held out a hand to raise the vampire to his feet.
“What’s happening to me? I feel so strange.”
He looked up and caught sight of Angel standing over him, still with his hand out. But Spike kept ignoring that, intent only on the inner turmoil.
“You. I remember – What did you and that strange girl do to me?”
“Here, let me help you up. It’s going to be alright. I promise.”
Hesitantly, Spike took the hand and got up on his feet, shakily.
“Drusilla? Where is Dru?”
“You remember. I’ll explain everything later, now we have to check on Drusilla. Come on.”
“I’m here, lover. Come and get me.”
Drusilla’s voice sounded strangely like the old Drusilla. But she was smiling and holding out both arms to Spike, so everything seemed ok. Spike rushed to her side and fell to his knees, about to embrace her. But something in her eyes alerted Angel to her real purpose.
“No. Spike, get away from her. It’s the same Drusilla.”
“It didn’t work? I’m sorry. Something was working against me all the time. But I was hoping -“
Lightning quick, Drusilla’s features changed and she was about to plunge her fangs into Spike’s exposed neck. He was already a vampire, but if she drained him of too much blood he could still die. Again. But Angel was quicker. He grabbed Spike and pulled him away. Buffy sprang into position, hands and feet ready to fight, to slay. Drusilla hissed like an angered cat.
“What’s the matter, Angelface? Can’t a girl have a little snack in peace? Spike never grudges me a little something at this time of night. What do you say, Spikey?”
“What’s wrong? Who’s Spike? Oh, it’s me, isn’t it? She wanted to bite me again?”
“Angel, get the others out of here, then come back and help me. We need to lock her up or something.”
Buffy realized she might have a problem with Spike, or whatever name he would now choose to go by, if she openly admitted to her plan of killing Drusilla. But she thought Angel might understand.
Angel herded the group of mortals out to the car again. He had to physically drag Spike away from the woman he had loved for so long. Loved like a human, or like a vampire. Angel didn’t know what to make of the strange passion Spike had for Drusilla. He didn’t know what he still felt about the strange girl. But Buffy needed his help in there and he couldn’t let her down.
“Willow, Oz, please try to calm Spike down while I help Buffy.”
“I’ll go with you. I don’t suppose you can handle a cross by any chance, Angel?”
“No, Xander. Don’t leave me here. This place is creepy.”
“I’ll be right back, Cordy. I’ll just give Buffy a hand. Dead boy here won’t touch a cross, now will you?”
“Give me that.”
Xander took some perverse pleasure in seeing and hearing how the cross seared Angel’s hand. But the vampire didn’t let the pain stop him. He rushed back inside, and bravely held out the object that was eating into his skin. Drusilla saw him and backed off. The Slayer and Angel together on one night, especially on a night when she seemed to have lost Spike, was proving too much for her. She was backing away.
“Alright. You win. Until some other night. Go. This is my place. And tell that red-headed witch of yours that this isn’t over. First you take my Angel from me, and now Spikey too. It’s personal now.”
“You stay away from Willow or I’ll -“
“Yes, lover, what would you do? We both know you won’t kill me.”
“I will kill you. I made you a vampire and I can kill you.”
“Or I will. Stay away from us. Or we will really kill you. That’s a promise.”
Drusilla wasn’t coherent anymore. Her screeches were hurting Buffy’s ears, and she decided to call it a night. They had brought one vampire back, that was a good night’s work. Drusilla would have to wait. Buffy wouldn’t kill her tonight. On the way out, she noticed the pain Angel was in.
“Why are you holding a cross?”
“Xander gave it to me.”
“Give it to me. Look at your hand.”
“It’s nothing. It will heal in moments. But of course I’m glad to be rid of it.”
“Xander should have come along himself. Besides, you and me can take on Drusilla easily enough. Were you serious though? Would you have killed her?”
“If anything happened to you or Willow, or one of the others. Yes. It’s not her anymore. I couldn’t do it in the past, but now that I’ve seen Spike restored, I know that Drusilla’s soul is beyond help. I think I could do it.”
“You won’t have to. I’ll do it. If she gives us any more trouble. Now let’s see about Spike.”
Angel sighed. Spike was one more responsibility. But he owed the boy that much. If it hadn’t been for him, or rather the demon using his body, Spike would have been dead and gone by now.
“Leave Spike to me. I’ll take care of him. I owe him.”
During the drive back to town, Spike was shaken but more collected. It seemed he was aware of his audience and even now, he fought to appear the same posturing Spike they had known for so long. But he was failing. His thick dark lashes were wet with tears, and he was happy to lean into Angel’s comforting arms.
“Drop me off at my place. I’ll explain everything to Spike. Thank you, all of you. Even if Drusilla was beyond our help.”
“Don’t mention it, Angel. I’m only sorry it didn’t work with Drusilla.”
“You tried. That’s all I asked.”
Xander dropped Angel and Spike off without another biting remark. He was almost touched by the vampire’s grief. And the way Angel had accepted his spiteful action, without comment almost made Xander feel a little guilty.
“Yes, Xander what it is it?”
“Sorry about – well, the cross and Drusilla and everything.”
“Oh. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for your help.”
The door shut the sounds of the disappearing car out, and Angel led Spike into his apartment. He had no idea how he was going to get through to the distraught vampire, but he knew he had to try. Spike wouldn’t let go of him, and now he pressed even harder into Angel. He sighed and forced himself not to move away.
The other vampire was still too vulnerable from the sensation of getting his soul back, and most of all from the shock of realizing that his beloved Drusilla hadn’t been possible to save, after all. It would have been cruel to push the younger man away now that he needed him the most.
All the posturing, all the boyish bravado was gone. There was none of the provocative attitude left. Again, Spike was just a young man who had been forced to grow up too soon, and when he’d barely reached true adulthood, two ruthless demons had found him and used him as a plaything.
There had never been any choice. Angel had to atone for that, as well as for everything else. But Spike had to know that the real Angel, not the creature known as Angelus wasn’t into men. Not seriously. But who was he kidding? In all the years as the only vampire with a soul, he had learned to take his comfort and his pleasure anywhere he could find it.
The truth was, being with Buffy and then Willow had spoiled him. But he wasn’t foolish enough to grieve what had never really been his to enjoy in the first place. He tried hard to recapture the attraction he had felt towards the young man. No, not him, Angelus. But the memories were there if he could bear to access them.
“Are you going to leave me too, Angel?”
“Of course not, how could I?”
“But I know you don’t love me. Or do you?”
There didn’t seem to be any coquetry or flirtatiousness in the remark as might have been expected. This Spike was very different from the one Angel had fought for the past year or so. Those eyes watched him, with a trace of hope, from under the thick, dark lashes. After all, would it be so hard to fake it, this time too? And he needed someone too. He couldn’t expect Willow to – No. Remembering Willow right now wouldn’t be a good idea.
Instead of replying to Spike’s question with words, Angel began tracing the exquisite line of Spike’s cheekbone. He could feel the younger man relaxing slightly, slumping down a little inside the shelter of Angel’s strong arms. That was it.
Angel smiled sarcastically at himself. Always the seducer, always the liar with a smile on his lips. Even now, when he used his strength for good, it came so easily to him. He had no doubts as to what his father would call him. After all, he had heard that said many times before. But it didn’t bother him anymore. His fingers went on to brush a stray strand of hair away from Spike’s forehead.
“That’s not my name.”
“Don’t worry about anything. I’ll take care of you. I owe you.”
“You know why.”
“No, I don’t. You didn’t turn me into a vampire, Angelus did.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yes, I do. But you don’t owe me anything. Is that why you -“
So Spike, no, Will had already picked up on his pretence. He would have to make his performance much better if he wanted to fool him. With two fingers pressed against Will’s lips, he silenced the anxious question. And since nothing else would do now, he dipped his head down to cover Will’s mouth with his. Those lips tasted nothing like Willow’s – But the train of thought was forced down. Yes, of course, the lips of a mortal felt so much more invigorating.
Will’s cool lips met his with more ardor than Angel had expected this soon after the separation from Drusilla. But he knew that Will had always had a fondness for him. Another one of his sins. Taking advantage of Will’s attraction for him. There had always been that partiality for strong women and weak men.
If Will considered Angel weak. Perhaps he did. It was going to take poor Will a long time to adjust to the loss of the hunt. Drinking from plastic bottles was hardly the same as sipping the real thing straight from the veins of the struggling, weakening prey.
Angel gently disentangled himself from Will’s arms and stepped out on to the floor. Absently, he pulled the sheet up over the serene form stretched out so languidly in his bed. But he hardly paid attention. All he wanted now was a shower, some clean clothes and – But before he had finished that thought, the door to his apartment swung open.
Angel’s vampire reflexes were way ahead of him, and he crouched ready to defend himself against whoever this might be. One of Drusilla’s minions? But the low, bitter laughter froze him to the spot. Another one of his unforgiveable sins. Or rather another one of Angelus’. Jenny. Those gypsies needn’t worry. There was no way he could ever feel a shred of happiness after what he had done to her.
“Are you going to kill me again, Angel? Once is quite enough if you ask me.”
“No. I’m sorry. Come in.”
As if she had never expected not to be invited in, Jenny entered his apartment. Angel winced as he felt her dark gaze travel over his naked torso, no doubt taking in the scent of sex, the presence of Will in his bed. Why? But naturally Jenny couldn’t move about during the day.
“I see you and Spike didn’t waste any time.”
“Look, Jenny -“
“Jenny? Jenny is dead. Don’t you dare mention her name to me.”
“What do you want me to call you?”
“Jana. Jana, the vampire – how does that sound? It has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?”
“Jana, I’m -“
“What? Sorry? You’re sorry you killed me? Sorry you turned me into this?”
Remembering Will’s words earlier that evening, Angel tried to seek comfort in the fact that though the demon wearing his face had used his body to commit that atrocity, he was somewhere else at the time. It didn’t help at all, but he decided to try that thought on Jana.
“Angelus did all that. But I’m still sorry. More sorry than I can say. I wouldn’t have wished this on anyone. And that’s why I have to try to make it up to Spike – Will – any way I can.”
To his astonishment, Jana seemed to consider his words. Not knowing the gypsy well enough to read her impassive face, Angel waited silently, hoping against all hope for what he could never ever have – absolution, forgiveness.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. Now that I know what it’s like to carry that demon inside, I should have known better than to accuse you. I tried to kill Rupert, Willow, all my friends, before they were able to restore my soul.”
“You didn’t. The demon did. Try not to think about it, Jana. It’s better not to.”
Now Jana was smiling. Angel recognized that smile. There wasn’t a trace of happiness in it, and he knew he was wearing that same smile himself, even though he could never see it.
“Can I stay here, Angel? I don’t seem to have anywhere else to go.”
“Of course. And if there’s anything I can do, anything, just tell me.”
Again that smile, but this time it held something else that Angel couldn’t read. Some kind of amusement? But it was gone almost as soon as it had appeared.
“I might hold you to that.”
Following her own train of thought, Jana appeared to jump to another topic in a way that quite bewildered Angel. He had known Jenny or Jana for a while before her transformation, but he was still struck by her unpredictability. And that gypsy temperament reminded him painfully of Lydia.
But he refused to dwell on the bitter memories. Turning from his guest, Angel went into the bathroom, to finish what he’d started when his unexpected guest had interrupted him. Before he’d entered the bathroom, Jana’s next words froze him in the middle of the movement.
“That bed looks large enough. Do you mind?”
What? Was she seriously suggesting -? Or was this just her sense of humor?
“I’ll get another bed as soon as possible. But I’m afraid there’s only one other room and that’s rather small.”
“Are you saying that I’m not welcome in your bed but he is?”
“You find him attractive but not me?”
“Are you serious?”
“Do you or do you not find me attractive?”
“Yes. I do.”
Angel had no idea whether he was meant to take her statement seriously, so he decided to just go into the bathroom. Feeling her eyes travel across his skin unnerved him. But perhaps she was right. If he could bring himself to give Will this kind of comfort, surely he could do the same for Jana? It would be so much easier.
But he had never been intimate with her, and what about Giles? Did the Watcher still expect to continue the relationship? Jana couldn’t expect him to throw himself into her arms within minutes of meeting her as a vampire with a soul just like himself, and Will. He would need time, and he knew that she would too.
When he returned from the bathroom, he half expected to find that Jana had crawled under the covers with Will, but he was surprised to find her standing in exactly the same spot he had left her. Her eyes seemed to be staring into the distance, but he doubted that she was seeing anything at all.
All the toughness, all the attitude he associated with her was gone. Now she looked like a scared little girl, and he was amazed that he hadn’t realized that before. This was a totally disorienting experience. How could he expect her to go through this alone?
Gently he held out a hand to guide her to the nearest chair. At first she didn’t appear to have noticed, something highly uncharacteristic of a vampire. If she had been the average vampire, demon and all, he wouldn’t have given her more than two nights at the most, before the Slayer had finished her off.
“Come on, Jana. Sit down. It’s ok, you’ll get the hang of this vampire thing soon. There’s nothing to it really. Everything’s going to be fine.”
Oh, yeah? How can you promise her anything of the kind? Her problems had only just begun, and he wasn’t going to insult her intelligence by pretending otherwise. Not when the first shock was over. But for now, he would do anything to calm her fears. Anything.
Suddenly, Will was there. That was typical of him. There he was, stark naked, but it didn’t concern him. It never had. And his silent movements had fooled even Angel’s vampire reactions.
What was he up to? Trying to read Will’s look, Angel came to the conclusion that although there was a little jealousy present, the predominant emotion seemed to be concern for the other new vampire. What a beautiful soul he and Drusilla had warped and twisted for their own amusement. Not a day went by when he didn’t dwell on that heartbreaking fact and others just like it.
“Hello, dear. Welcome to the club. It all seems strange and scary, doesn’t it? Don’t worry about. Angel will take care of us. And we’ll learn together, won’t we? Now cheer up, pet.”
And Angel could see how those slender hands were smoothing the lovely black hair back from Jana’s face. He hated himself for thinking the thought, but he was hoping that if Will could find comfort with Jana, he would no longer be required to offer the same kind of favors.
As if Will had read his mind, he looked up and his eyes met Angel’s. No, Will wouldn’t want to do without him. That much was plain. But the three of them together, well, it would be almost like old times. Without the murder spree. Reassuringly, he squeezed Will’s shoulder, to make up for the unworthy thought. Then he kneeled beside Jana.
“Let’s go to bed now. It’s almost dawn and we need our rest. We’ll talk tomorrow night.”
As if she hadn’t heard him, Jana began talking in a voice he had never imagined he would hear coming from her. So filled with despair.
“How do you get used to the craving for blood? It’s revolting. I don’t want to. But I know I have to have it.”
Glad to be able to reassure her, Angel spoke more confidently than he really felt.
“But you do get used to it. I swear. You’ll hardly think about it in a while. Now come on. It’s time to rest. Everything will feel better later.”
“Come on, pet. Listen to Angel. He knows what he’s talking about. And we’ll be right beside you. Nothing will happen to you here.”
Unsteadily, as if she was drunk, Jana finally tried to stand. Angel and Will supported her over to the bed.
“I don’t have anything. My clothes, my -“
“You’ll have to sleep in your clothes.”
“Or without them, sweetie.”
“Will. Look, Jana, I’m sure we can get you something later. Don’t worry about it.”
Angel watched Jana peeling off her dress and panty hose with mixed feelings. Obviously, Will’s lighthearted advice was the one she settled on. Tonight wasn’t a time for sex. He would have to make that clear to Will. Jana was in no state for anything like that.
If Will refused to listen, Angel would have to pull rank on him, and he didn’t want to do that. They weren’t common vampires. At least their souls were human and he wanted to act as human as he possibly could. Although it would be agony lying next to a beautiful woman without being able to do anything about it, he didn’t think he could prevail upon Will the importance of letting Jana take her time.
To his surprise, though Will’s eyes travelled appreciatively over Jana’s body, he didn’t seem to be in the mood for anything else. Soon both his “children” were stretched out comfortably beside him. Jana had been right, the bed was large enough. Perhaps it would be unnecessary to get another one after all.
Not being alone anymore was comforting. Even if Drusilla hadn’t been possible to save, this was more than he had ever hoped for. Surely the gypsies couldn’t object to this? But if they did, he knew that Willow and the others would protect them. On that reassuring thought, he let his mind go to wherever vampires’ minds go to find the rest their bodies needed. Even without the sound of breathing or the warmth of living flesh, lying close to someone else was pleasant.
“And where are you going, lover?”
Angel swore softly. Why did Will have to rub that in? But if Will and Jana wanted to come, he didn’t think it would be fair to stop them. And anyway, what if Drusilla sent some of her minions or even came for them herself? He had vowed to himself to protect them.
“I’m going to see Willow and the others. If I can find them awake. I want to thank them for all they did for us.”
“Then I’m coming too. What about you, pet?”
Jana’s eyes didn’t give anything away, but she appeared to be giving the matter some thought. Would she be able to bear seeing Giles and the others again?
“Yes. Why not? I could always give Willow a few tips about teaching my classes.”
“Then let’s all go.”
Angel thought this visit would be painful in more ways than one. Cordelia might be the only person either one of them could face without feeling a stab of pain. Willow and he still hadn’t been able to talk properly about all that had happened since he lost his soul again. And during that time she had met this boy Oz.
But that was as it should be. Mortals belonged together. He understood, and didn’t hold it against her. The happiness he had known with her if only briefly was too good to be true, he had always known that.
Just as with Buffy. Just as he understood and forgave Buffy for sending him to hell. Even if it was Angelus who had opened those gates, it was his crime to atone for just like everything else.
And Xander? How in the world had he been so confused? Now that he was with Will again, he realized how foolish the madness with Xander had been. What had he ever seen in that boy? But he had been lonely and desperate. Even if you’re more than 200 years old, there are still times when you don’t use your brains.
“I don’t like the look on your face when you mention that name, Angel.”
“You’re not over her, are you?”
“No. And I’m still in love with Buffy too, and Lydia. Just like you still love Drusilla.”
“And I love Rupert.”
“Oh, alright. I suppose we all have some emotional baggage. But let’s not let that stop the three of us from having fun. Alright, love?”
“Alright. I talked things through with Rupert before going over here. He knows that we can’t be together. What about you, Angel?”
“It’s no use talking to him when he’s like this, pet. He doesn’t have time for you and me.”
“Oh, I’ve talked to Willow too. She understands.”
“Let him brood over his little redhead. But don’t be sad, my love, you still have me.”
“Yes, I do, don’t I? But I must say that Spike had more style than you, Will.”
“What? That hurts. Where do you think Spike got his style from?”
“Not from you. Angel told me about how you looked back then. What was it you said, Angel? A street urchin. A scruffy little ragamuffin.”
“No. That’s not what he said to me.”
“Alright. A street urchin but not the rest of it.”
“A street urchin with style. Besides, if you don’t like my style, why don’t you teach me how you want me to be? You’re a teacher, aren’t you? Jenny -“
“Don’t call me that. Jenny’s dead. I’m Jana.”
“Jana? I don’t like that much, pet. Sorry. How does Jen sound to you?”
“Jen? Oh, alright. Jana reminds me too much of the gypsies anyway. Jen it is. Angel?”
“What are you thinking about? You can’t drive while you’re that distracted. Move over. Let me drive.”
“No. I’m alright. I’m just worried about Willow and the others. What if Drusilla was serious about wanting revenge for losing me and Will?”
“Oh, alright. I worry about them too.”
“I don’t like how you’re always thinking about those girls first. What about me? And Jen here?”
“After all the suffering I’ve caused them, I have to do what I can to repay them.”
Something in the way Jenny was looking at him, finally got through to Angel.
“I know. I’ve caused you suffering too. And I’m going to spend eternity trying to make it up to you. But we have to protect the mortals.”
“You’re right. If anything happened to them, I’d never forgive myself. We must make something good come from all this.”
“You’re both being so noble and good all of a sudden, I’m feeling left out. But I’m in. Buffy helped me out once, so I guess I owe her one. And Willow restored my soul and she tried to save Dru as well, so I owe her too. Alright. You’ve talked me into it. Let’s be good little vampires from now on.”
They eventually found their mortal friends over at the library. Even this late they were hard at work studying the vampire situation. Drusilla had made no move against them, and nothing had been heard from her in other ways. Could it be that she was weakened by losing both her lovers?
Reassured, the vampires returned to Angel’s place, which would now be Will’s and Jenny’s home too. Towards morning, Will dozed off, but Angel had much on his mind, and Jenny was occupied trying to figure out her new situation. She was officially dead and buried so how could she return to her work?
But being a techno-pagan didn’t require an official status as a mortal, not as far as she knew. She knew her friends there would welcome her back. Some of them would most likely like her even better as a vampire. They were that sort of people.
There was nothing preventing her from continuing her fight against evil even now. But Angel’s brooding was beginning to unnerve her and she reached out her hand and touched his shoulder. His smile surprised and stunned her. He really was aptly named.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing in particular. Just brooding. What about you?”
“The same, I guess. Can I ask you something?”
“I can tell Spike is a bit of an omnivore when it comes to sex, but you don’t strike me as being the same. So why are you sleeping with him?”
“He needs me, and I owe him.”
“As simple as that?”
“Ok. But the way things are going between me and him, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t have to for much longer.”
“You think so?”
“He loved Drusilla for all these years. And she never loved him, am I right?”
“Yes. She never loved anyone after I turned her into a vampire.”
“You didn’t. Angelus did.”
“I know. But you know what I mean.”
“I think I could learn to love him. He’s so different from Spike. And you -“
“I think I could learn to love you too. If you’ll let me. But not because you owe me. Ok?”
“Ok. I think maybe I’m beginning to feel something for you too. You remind me so of my first love, Lydia. I killed her too.”
“Yes, I can see that that might remind you of her.”
“No. I meant, you look a lot like she did. She was part gypsy and the loveliest girl in the entire county.”
“I see. Well, you’re nothing like poor Rupert, but still -“
“But we mustn’t hurry into anything. We all love other people and it’s not easy to start over in just one night.”
“Will’s clinging to what he sees as his only comfort. He was very young when Drusilla and I turned him into a vampire. But he’ll learn. There’s all the time in the world. And we have more important things on our minds than sex.”
“Yes. I agree. More important than love even. But I promise you this, if I can distract Will, I will. That almost sounded like a little poem. Oh, well. I’m no poet. Do you have anything against computers?”
“But you seem to have a lot to learn about them. Angelus thought he had destroyed the information about the curse by breaking my computer. He’d never heard of floppies.”
“Neither have I.”
“You see. This is a new world. And I can teach you all about it. And more.”
“I’m looking forward to it. And I’m grateful if you can make Will happy. That’s all I want.”
“Now do you think you can sleep?”
“I’ll try. Right now, my life or whatever it is that I’m experiencing is quite good. As long as we can keep a close watch over Buffy and Willow and the rest of them, I think we’re ahead of the bad guys right now. Come to bed with me.”
“Alright. But I’m going to sleep.”
“That’s what I meant.”
Trying not to disturb Will, they got in beside him. It wasn’t long before Jenny and Angel settled down and found the rest they had been needing for so long. Angel’s last thought was of how lucky he was despite everything. He wasn’t alone anymore. Even if Willow was lost to him, these two would be with him through eternity. Could a vampire ask for more?