He backpedaled taking the handful of steps to get back to the gymnasium entrance and paused in the doorway searching the large room for Buffy. There were at least a dozen girls ranging from short to tall, brunette to blonde, but all had their slender builds in common. They also all wore short skirts that barely covered their back sides and sweaters that did not seem to be designed with warmth in mind.
Just hearing her name made the heavy weight of his sins on his soul a little lighter. He caught a glimpse of blonde hair and a generous expanse of an extremely fit leg and knew that it was Buffy. If hearing her name eased his guilt somewhat, seeing her made Angel thankful in a perverse sort of way for being as horrible as he had been without his soul. If he had not been one to thrive and get off on torture and making a victim's death as gruesome as possible he would never have gotten cursed with his soul all those years ago. No soul would have meant never seeing Buffy, never having the chance to make a difference in this world. As much as he liked to delude himself, Angelus made no difference in the world, despite the havoc and pain he might have caused for his victims and their families.
Oh sure, he might have heard of this slayer. She was unconventional, this slayer was. Then again, he had never gotten up close and personal with one before now to know for sure, but he had certainly never heard of another slayer cheerleading before.
He was taken in by the scents and sounds in the gymnasium. His enhanced hearing picked up on every squeak a tennis shoe made against the wooden floor. His enhanced sense of smell picked up on the dozen or more different types of perfumes, shampoos, and hair sprays used by the girls in the room.
He had no claim to her, but the idea of dozens of hormonal, horny high school boys looking at her was enough to make him lose control. She was a slayer, damn it, not a cheerleader. The other slayers he had seen over the years were not the cheerleading type, but as he watched her move to the music and wave her poms Angel realized that she was most definitely the cheerleading type. He wondered what her Watcher thought of Buffy going out for cheerleading, chances were he was not happy about it either. His reasons would be quite different than Angel's were, of course, but it was nice to think her Watcher was on his side regarding this.
Buffy's name was called and Angel watched as her friends escorted her off the floor, almost coddling her. Something had gone wrong, Angel was not sure what it was but the girl's tone had been condescending and downright rude. Angel's thoughts of Buffy's cheerleading efforts were pushed aside when he saw her nearly faint. He could see that she was not well, and being that the sun was up for another hour or so he was helpless to do anything for her. He noticed another cheerleader pick herself up off the floor and scowl at Buffy, and Angel wondered just what he had missed.
He approached her two friends with caution, ignoring the rest of the girls, some still practicing their cheers as if nothing was wrong while others assisted the girl on the floor. He could smell there was something wrong as soon as he was close enough to her to take in her individual scent. She was not sick, he knew that much, but there was something off about her nevertheless.
"She shouldn't be walking," Angel said with a scowl in the direction of her two friends who were going to do just that, try to walk her somewhere.
"Who are you?" the boy asked.
"That's not important, she needs to be taken to her Watcher." The two friends exchanged a curious glance, probably wondering how Angel knew about Buffy having a Watcher. "Here, let me take her," he said.
"I think we can manage," the red headed friend said with false bravado. Were she dealing with anyone but a vampire, it might have worked but Angel could smell the fear and uncertainty on her.
"She's about to pass out," he said and used his non-human strength to take possession of the weakened slayer. He took her into his arms and could not help but stare at her for a moment. She felt so light in his arms. "Lead or get out of my way," he said with a low growl as he started walking from the gym.
"This way," the red head said, seeming to grasp that there was something wrong whereas the boy seemed pissed off that Angel held Buffy in his arms. Not that Angel could blame him necessarily, but he doubted the boy could have carried Buffy without a struggle.
Angel followed as the two led him toward the library and Buffy's Watcher. He had not really seen what happened, so he stood helplessly by while the three discussed what could be wrong with her.
When talk turned to witchcraft and going beyond the boundaries of the school to investigate the causes of Buffy's sudden illness, Angel knew it was time for him to leave. Buffy was suspicious enough of him as it was, coming to her with cryptic clues to things about to happen. He was quite certain she had shared some information with her Watcher and he would be equally suspicious, if not more so. There was a chance, too, that her Watcher might recognize him if he stayed too long.
Whistler had been rather vague about just how Angel was supposed to help the slayer, but Angel suspected she would balk at his help if she knew he was a vampire. Once he set her down and her Watcher and friends were distracted, Angel left the library without a word. He could not assist them if their quest took them outdoors when the sun was still shining, so there was little else he could do.
He heard a man's voice say, "Where did he run off to?" He would not have heard the question without being a vampire he was so far down the hallway. He would check on her later, after the sun had set to ensure that her Watcher had found whatever he was looking for. Witchcraft was out of Angel's realm of knowledge anyway. Now that he had gotten to know more about this slayer, what she was like and what she might come up against, Angel realized that some research into things beyond vampires might be necessary.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com