Mid August 2002
He'd only been away from her for a week. It felt like a lifetime. And for someone who'd lived a few lifetimes that was saying a lot. He'd called her every day, desperate to hear her voice and be assured she was okay.
She seemed to need the same thing because she sounded relieved whenever he called. Her voice had a calming effect on him. He had no idea what was going on, but accepted the fact that something had changed. Instead of losing his soul while making love to her, he seemed to have bonded them in a way he hadn't thought existed. Mentally and physically he craved her like an addict needing his next fix.
They were sharing dreams again. Some were of the prophetic variety, pictures that weren't very pretty. Some were of the erotic variety, vivid images that left him aroused long after the dream had drifted into the recesses of his mind. It was after those dreams that his calls to Sunnydale increased to an almost dizzying pace. He had to hear her voice, to know that she was all right.
Connor and knowing if he was going to get answers from The Powers That Be he had to remain in LA were the only things that kept him from going to her. The urge to see with his own eyes that she was all right, safe, and alive was frustratingly strong.
He had an appointment with someone Wesley knew who claimed he could be a conduit to The Powers That Be. Angel wasn't sure he trusted this person, but he had to try something. His efforts at contacting them directly had netted him no results.
He had found a suitable offering and hoped that after tonight he would have some answers. He and Connor were on the way to an understanding. Enough that Angel felt if he had answers he could leave LA, possibly for good depending on the answers.
If they told him after what had happened between them that he had to stay away he would walk into the sun tomorrow and end the torment for both of them. He didn't think they could deal with another separation. He realized that no one had ever told him to stay away from Buffy. That choice had been his and he stood by it being the right decision. They needed the time away to be sure about their feelings. Buffy in particular because she was so young.
He looked up at the sound of footsteps in the entryway of the Hyperion. Gunn was out with Fred so it was either Wesley or Connor. Cordelia was still missing. He had turned up nothing on her whereabouts and he was beginning to suspect she was gone for good.
"Hey, you ready?" It was Connor.
"Yeah," he said simply and stood from behind his desk. He grabbed the offering he hoped to make in exchange for some answers. "You don't have to come with."
"And miss finding out what's going on. You're crazy."
"I didn't realize you cared so much," Angel said dryly. He knew Connor's reasons were primarily selfish. He was probably hoping to be able to tell Dawn information before Angel could get there to tell Buffy. There was some hope in finding out once and for all he was human. Angel didn't bother telling him The Powers That Be wouldn't waste their time on that. The important thing was what side you fought for not what was inside of you. Otherwise, he would have been out of the running a long time ago.
"I'm curious is all. It's not every day I see stuff like this. So, is Xander talking to Buffy again yet?"
"I don't think so."
"Didn't you ask?"
"It hasn't come up."
Connor rolled his eyes.
Angel shrugged. "What? Xander is not high on my topics to talk with Buffy about. He'll come around eventually. He always does. He just wasn't expecting to walk in on us in bed together."
"Way too much information."
"Like you didn't know already."
"Yeah, well, hearing it from Dawn and hearing it from you is different."
"Let's go," Angel said. Wesley was waiting for them in the lobby. He and Angel were on the way to repairing their relationship. It was going to take time, but if Connor could try and get to know him then Angel could do the same for Wesley. He needed an answer man on his side when his life was currently riddled with so many unknowns.
They were in a run down building in an area of LA that Angel knew little about. The building appeared vacant but for the group of suites occupied by the man seated behind an ornate desk.
Lucius was his name. Whether it was his given name or one he'd taken on Angel had no idea. He was a large man, almost seven feet tall and built like a tank. Angel sensed he wasn't human but saw no evidence of what kind of demon he might be. He knew he wasn't a vampire.
"Ah, Angelus, we meet at last. I was wondering when you would finally realize you needed my assistance."
Angel glanced from Lucius to Wesley and back to Lucius again. How was he supposed to know he could come to him when he didn't know he existed?
"Have some tea."
"I don't want tea," Angel said until he saw the look of warning on Wesley's face. He hadn't come here for a tea party, but he'd drink the damned tea if it meant getting answers.
Without waiting for Angel to change his mind, someone brought Angel a large cup of steaming hot tea. The person was androgynous. Angel was not sure if they were supposed to appear that way or if it was a plight they suffered in life.
"Thank you," he said politely, letting the tea sit.
"Now, Wesley says you have some questions."
"About the Slayer."
Lucius grew quiet. He clasped his hands together in front of him. His eyes rolled back into his head so that all Angel could see was the whites. It was a little disturbing, but he'd seen more disgusting things so he could handle it. Time seemed to stand still. Angel wasn't sure what was going on but the air crackled and popped with energy. Magic maybe. He wasn't sure.
"And your relationship with her?" The man finally spoke again. Angel was beginning to wonder if he'd gone into some sort of trance and forgot about him.
"That's secondary. My main concern is what's going on with her. Is she in danger from these changes?"
"Of course, always thinking of her well being before even your own." His eyes returned to their rightful position but were covered in a white gooey looking substance, making his eyes look really bizarre. And kind of gross.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You were assigned to be with her, were you not?"
"I wouldn't call it an assignment. I was made an offer and I took it."
"But you left her and after you left is when she faced her most difficult trials and tribulations."
"I know. She died. I understand that. I just want to know she's going to be okay."
"You have to understand, Angelus, you were meant to be with her. The Powers never dreamed the two of you would fall in love. They sent you to her for a reason. Together you are strong. But add the love emanating from you for one another and you are a force to be reckoned with. Separated you are weaker, both of you."
"So you're saying that my leaving Sunnydale makes her weaker?"
"As well as yourself."
"Is that why I need to talk to her all the time?"
"Yes. You feed off one another, physiologically of course. Distance, an absence from one another, will make you vulnerable."
"I'm speaking of both of you, Angelus. Without you there is no longer a Buffy without Buffy Summers you are no longer."
"How can that be?"
"You sealed your fates, Angelus. You declared your love for one another."
"But I've always loved her."
"It was the sincerity in the declaration by both of you. You were both of the mind to do whatever you needed to do to be together again."
So something had changed in them and it was because of their night together. Would they ever be able to have sex without something happening? "If I can't be any longer without her what happens when she dies?"
"Do you really care?"
"No," he said and meant it. He was not living for Buffy, but there would be a terrible void in his life without her. If she was gone he really didn't care what happened, so long as his soul remained intact.
"That is the correct answer, Angelus and why you both have been bestowed this gift. You were finally willing to look past the fact she would grow old and you'd have to suffer through watching her die."
"Drink your tea, Angelus."
"I don't want any tea, Lucius."
His eyes suddenly became clear, the substance gone. "I highly recommend it."
"Fine," Angel said, sipping the tea. It was good. It reminded him of his mother's tea. He could smell the peppermint and taste the honey. He could see his mother, her hands smooth and delicate. She was wiping his forehead, her brow creased with concern.
"Drink the tea, Liam, it will make you feel better," she said. And it always did. He smiled. His mother's image was as clear as if he had just seen her only today instead of over two centuries ago.
Angel had no idea how much time had passed. Two hundred fifty years worth of memories had been called up. The good and the bad. He saw the faces of his victims most of whom he could not name nor would he want to at this point.
He saw his time in Sunnydale, the fateful and sad day he left. He had left for the right reasons. He was confident of that. He could not watch her grow old and die. Or watch her body become riddled with a disease modern medicine did not yet have a cure for.
He experienced his time in LA, searching to replicate what he had found with Buffy. He had never come close. He lived again the day he came back to find Willow seated in the lobby of the Hyperion. He relived the day she had returned to him and saved his life.
Distantly, he was aware these were memories. That he was not actually experiencing these moments. They were in his past. But soon events started playing out that were not the past and were unfamiliar to him.
Dawn with children and grandchildren while he and Buffy looked on, appearing the same as they did now. How was that possible? He witnessed a world where despite being unable to walk in the sun his existence was filled with light and hope and love through Buffy. She was the light to his darkness. Yin to his yang. She completed him, the other half of him he never knew existed until the first time he saw her.
He knew losing his soul was no longer an issue because her soul was as much a part of him as his was her. She would be his anchor and she would be by his side forever. She was so beautiful and she looked so happy. And peaceful.
"Why? How?" he asked, not sure if he even spoke aloud. He saw them then, The Powers That Be and he knew he was not being misguided. It was something he feared, someone using his love for Buffy to weaken him. To tempt him into going back to her for the wrong reasons.
They did not answer except with images of their night at the mansion. Something had happened, he understood that now. They were finally ready for what The Powers had in store for them. They had not anticipated the two of them falling in love so they had to wait for them to be ready to accept that love before they could set their plan in motion. Whatever the plan was it was progressing forward and he and Buffy were now connected.
He held Buffy in his arms. They were looking into the sky, pointing out constellations to one another. Angel could detect a sadness in her, but did not know the cause. He knew he was a comforting presence to her, she fed on his ability to stay calm. She looked at him, her eyes full of love and trust. His heart swelled with the idea he could possibly have done anything to deserve her.
Slowly the image faded. He returned to the room he had begun his journey in, the tea cup clutched in the palm of his hand. Had it been a hallucination? His eyes met Lucius' who merely nodded with a shrug.
"You know what you must do, Angelus."
"Should you walk away from the gift The Powers That Be are presenting you with there will be no second chance offers."
"Use it well, Angelus."
"Is this my Shanshu?"
Lucius smiled then and shrugged his palms in the air. "That, Angelus, is not for me to answer."
Either he didn't know or just wouldn't tell him. Angelus couldn't blame him and knew he was getting no more information out of the man. Prophecies were tricky things. An inflection here or there made the wrong way and the meaning got twisted. It was possible that he was never set to become human but instead to be so completely connected to a human that he got to experience human thoughts and feelings again. Now he just had to figure out how to tell Buffy what he had learned.
"She said she felt my heart beat."
"It is possible. As both your bodies continue to go through the process of changing, acclimating to being tied to one another so intimately."
"So, it was really her heart beating through mine."
"You catch on very well, Angelus."
"Will she crave blood?"
"No, but she will experience the lust you feel if you go too long in between feedings. You, too, will feel when her body requires something. It works both ways."
"Huh," was all he said.
"You may for the time being find yourself hungrier more often than normal. She may find herself going much longer without requiring sustenance. Your bodies will adjust in time."
"Do you know that for certain?"
"There are no absolutes."
"Is there anything more you can tell me?"
"Other than go to her, no, I'm afraid not."
Angel stood then, glancing into the tea cup and sniffing it before setting it on the desk. He did not smell any residual odors indicative of a drug, but knew there were some that were odorless.
"Thank you for your time."
"My pleasure. Your predicament has been heavy on my mind for sometime now."
"Yeah, I know the feeling."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com