Now that Angelís car was stopped in front of his apartment and Buffy was beside him with two suitcases full of her things in the backseat he wished he had taken the time to straighten up a bit before leaving the prior evening. He had no way of knowing he would come home at dawn with the slayer with him.
She had insisted what she packed were necessities. He knew very little about seventeen year old girls to question her, but two suitcases seemed excessive to him. Of course, he had worn the same coat for years before it literally fell apart.
He got out of the car and grabbed one of the suitcases from the backseat, noticing there was a smaller third bag there, too. How much stuff did she need?
"I just need this bag for now," Buffy said, pulling the smaller one out from the backseat.
"Okay," he said, putting the suitcase back and closing the driverís side door.
"So you have an apartment here and in Sunnydale?"
"This oneís nothing great. I just wasnít sure how long it would take and I needed to be sure I wouldnít wake up one morning to a maid opening the curtains and turning me into a big pile of dust."
"So you were pretty sure Iíd agree to come with you?"
"I didnít know, but I had to believe you would. I had no idea where you had been when I got here."
"Would you have come for me sooner had you known?"
"Yes," he said with a low growl. The idea of those doctors laying their hands on her, drugging her and experimenting on her made him crazy.
She seemed to think on that for a moment. He was not sure what he expected as her response but the soft "thanks" was not it. He expected more anger or statements of unfairness.
"You seem awful calm about all of this," he said as he walked to the backdoor which would lead them to his basement apartment.
"What can I do? I refuse to go back there again, and I canít pretend Iím fine to everyone else. Iíd go crazy for real I think."
"I think you would, too. I think the drive is in you and if you donít give into it thatís not good."
She smiled slightly as he pushed the door open with the toe of his boot, allowing her to go in first. "Do vampires really needed to be invited in?"
"So you couldnít have come into my house and gotten me without my asking you to."
"Oh," she said and seemed distraught about that for reasons Angel could not understand.
"Iíve only got the one bed. The sheets are clean, I just washed them yesterday. Iíll take the floor."
"No, really, I kind of forced myself here for the night."
"Iíve slept in worse places. All I need is a blanket."
"Are you sure? Iím going to be a few minutes in your bathroom anyway, so if you want the bed itís yours."
"Iíll be fine," he said, gathering two blankets. He rolled one to make it into a makeshift pillow and the other he set down on the floor where he intended to sleep. He was not sure he would get much sleep done with Buffy so nearby.
"Okay. Good night then," she said as she walked toward his bathroom, closing the door behind her. His last thoughts were wondering what exactly she needed to do in his bathroom.
"Do you snore?"
"I don't know. It's been a long time since anybody's been in a position to let me know."
"Let me say this as clearly as I can. You cannot beat me. I am a part of them. The Wolf, Ram, and Hart. Their strength flows through my veins. My blood is filled with their ancient power."
"Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn't have said?"
"You don't really think you're gonna win this, do you? You don't stand a chance. We are legion. We are forever."
"Then I guess forever..."
"...just got a hell of a lot shorter."
"They'll destroy you."
"As long as you're OK, they can't. Go."
"Wesley's dead. I'm feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it. I wish to do more violence."
"Well, wishes just happen to be horses today."
"Among other things."
Angel looked at those left in the alley. It took him a moment to realize he was really there. It seemed only moments ago he was back in Buffyís bedroom falling asleep on her floor all those years ago. And yet, here he was in the alley about to fight the last fight.
Gunn was on his last leg, he would be of little use. Illyria looked ready to go all night, he hoped that looks were not deceiving in this case. Spike, Spike was Spike. He was ready to die for the cause. Again. So was Angel. It was down to the four of them. Four versus the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart and all that they could unleash upon them. Angel held little hope for any of them to survive this.
He could question his actions for all of eternity and then some. He had damned himself to fighting this last battle alone. Had he not taken the job with Wolfram & Hart, Giles would not have been so certain Angel was working on evilís side again. But if he had not taken the job at Wolfram & Hart he would not be here now about to take on an army of demons and their henchmen. It did not seem to matter he had been the bearer of the amulet that saved their collective asses.
Either way, it no longer mattered. Help was not coming, the four - soon to be three - of them were on their own. He would fight until he had no life left in his body. He knew Gunn, Spike and Illyria would do the same. In fact, he banked on it. They would not go out without taking a chunk out of the Senior Partners army from hell.
"I hear you might be in need of some help."
Angel closed his eyes, certain he was hearing things. Was he already dying and hallucinating the only person he had every truly loved in two hundred fifty years? But it was not just him who turned to look behind him. Spike, Illyria and Gunn, clutching his gut as if willing his innards to stay put all looked too. Surely he was not sucking them into his hallucination.
"Well, Slayer, arenít you a sight for sore eyes. About time."
"How?" Angel asked.
She strode up to him, strong, confident, no longer burdened with being the only one in the world. She was beautiful and he wanted nothing more than to take her into his arms, kiss her and tell her just that. But there was no time. "We were in the neighborhood, passing through."
"We?" he asked, and as he did hundreds if not thousands of women stepped into the alley. "Thereís so many of them."
"No longer the only one."
"I get that now," he said, overwhelmed by the sheer number of them.
"Where do we start, Boss," she asked, her battle axe at the ready. The girls behind her seemed ready to die there in the alleyway for a cause they did not even understand. Buffy he could understand, but the others. He was overwhelmed with emotion, tears threatened to fall but he fought them back. Later, there would be time for that later.
"Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work." He suddenly felt a lot more confident about the outcome of this battle than he had moments ago. He gave Buffy one last glance before righting his sword and heading in the direction of the incoming dragon.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com