Touch of Evil

Part 19

** Daylight licked me into shape 
I must have been asleep for days 
And moving lips to breathe her name 
I opened up my eyes 
And found myself alone alone 
Alone above a raging sea 
That stole the only girl I loved 
And drowned her deep inside of me**

**"Just Like Heaven"- The Cure**

	A thin shaft of artificial orange light penetrated the oppressive darkness
surrounding Angel.  As quickly as it came, it was gone, and the darkness
enfolded Angel once again with its velvet wings.  A sound like a dull thump
accompanied the brief appearance and disappearance of the light.  He
thought it might be a door closing but he couldn't be sure.  Over the past
few days his hearing had been off, as if his body was submerged under water
and every sound had to be filtered through the viscous liquid to reach his
ears.  He was sure if he survived this he'd be left with permanent hearing

	Though the sounds were diffused, he could sense another presence in the
room.  Cursing internally, he braced himself for the figures of either
Buffy or Angelus.  Inside, he felt like crying.  He'd only been alone for…
well he wasn't quite sure how long it was exactly.  Time had begun to lose
all meaning during his captivity.  It could be anywhere from 15 minutes to
15 hours.  All he knew was his body hadn't recovered yet from their last
visit.  He could still feel the blood leaking from his numerous wounds.  If
they picked up the torture again, he knew with certainty he wouldn't make
it through the night.

	But it wasn't Buffy or Angelus that filled his field of vision.  With the
flip of a switch, cold artificial light flooded the room, chasing away the
darkness.  When his eyes had adjusted to the sudden brightness, he found
himself staring at the red haired beauty that dominated his every waking
and sleeping thoughts.  She stood before him staring, words dying in her
throat as she took in the broken remains of his body.  Angel hadn't looked
in a mirror for over a week so he could only imagine what he looked like.
Pretty bad, judging by the horror in her eyes.

	She, in contrast, looked amazing.  It was probably the best he had seen
her look, but his perception was probably tainted by the fatalistic slant
to his thoughts.  Her hair hung down her back, in intricate plaits, framing
the sides of her face.  Her makeup and the lush pale green of the Victorian
dress she sported highlighted her natural coloring, making her eyes appear
even brighter.  Even her usual gilt and porcelain complexion seemed
brighter; as if aglow with some emotion he didn't want to contemplate.
Happiness, most probably.

	Angel lowered his eyes against the raiment of her beauty; sure this vision
was just another hallucination.  He'd taken to having them since he'd last
seen her.  Whenever he was alone she'd appear.  Sometimes she'd merely sit
on the bed, watching him with sad, faraway eyes.  Sometimes she'd scream at
him, pounding his chest, making the blood splatter, as she berated him for
lying to her, blaming him for all that had happened to them.  Other times
he'd envision her walking in while Angelus was there.  Her entire aura
would exude a cold detachment as she'd stop Angelus from his torture and
pull him to the bed.  He would be helpless to stop the vision, unable to
look away as she fucked him right in front of him.  Once or twice he'd
dream of her forgiveness, of her coming to him as she was now, and cradling
him in her arms.  She'd call him Angel and whisper over and over how much
she loved and forgave him.  Those hallucinations didn't come too often, and
for that he was grateful.  It always made reality all the more painful when
it came crashing back in.

	She was speaking now, and he wondered which vision this one would be.
"Angel," she whispered tentatively, her anguish evident in both her face
and her voice, "Angel, please answer me.  Goddess, please don't let me be
too late."  Her hand lightly caressed his forehead, pushing damp strands of
hair away from his eyes so she could stare into them, probing for signs of

	Angel felt himself relaxing at her touch.  Despite the fact that every
inch of his body felt like it was on fire, his skin as sensitive to touch
as raw nerve endings, her hands managed to soothe him like those of a
mystical healer.  It was as if her hands were a direct conduit for the love
she felt for him, the depth of her emotions acting as a balm to both his
physical and emotional wounds.

	He tried to lift his head further, tried to speak but couldn't.  To her
the only visible movement was the occasional blinking of his eyelids and
the faint rise and fall of his chest.  He could sense the panic welling up
inside of her as he continued to remain silent, unable to speak no matter
how hard he tried.  He knew she was on the verge of hysteria and there was
nothing he could do to reassure her.  It hurt too much to even try.  Even
though she was just another hallucination, he didn't want anything he did
to hurt her.

	She was crying now.  He couldn't see because the muscles in his neck had
given out, his head slumping like a broken flower stem.  But he felt her
tears as she fell to her knees before him, cradling his body against hers,
her chin resting lightly on the top of his head.  Even though all he wanted
was to hold and be held by her, he wished he could push her away.  He hated
the idea of his blood staining her skin and dress, tainting her innocent

	Willow didn't seem to mind.  She kept on holding him, oblivious to the
blood though trying to be careful around his wounds.  She didn't want to
end up hurting him by reopening wounds that weren't totally healed.  Hoping
he could hear her, Willow began to unburden her soul, offering up
explanations she felt he needed to know.  "Angel, I'm sorry, this is all my
fault.  I know that.  I just… I couldn't think of any other way out of this
mess.  I had to trick Angelus into trusting me enough that he wouldn't
hesitate to leave me alone in the house with you; only it took a week for
him and Buffy to leave at the same time.  That's why I couldn't come to you
before today.  And now it's too late… please, please, please don't be too
late.  Please say something Angel."  Willow paused, waiting in vain for a
sign she knew wasn't coming.  She could feel his body moving with each
labored breath.  Each exhalation sounded as if it was his last- as if his
life force was being pushed out of his throat on a breathe of air.
Fearful, Willow rushed on.

	"I'm sorry if I hurt you with the whole catatonic/amnesia act.  When
Angelus was going on about who you really were it was the only plan I could
think of.  I needed to get him to let his guard down so that I'd have a
chance to rescue you."  Willow began to cry harder, as if realizing how
futile her rescue attempt had become.  "Please don't leave me, Angel… not
so soon; not when we've just found each other.  Goddess, it's not fair.  I
love you, Angel.  I love you."

	As Willow sobbed, desperately clutching his broken body to hers as if she
could mend him with the strength of her body and will, Angel felt his own
desperation slip away.  He knew now that this was no hallucination, no
feverish last attempt by his brain to cling to some vestiges of sanity.
His body had been holding on, waiting for this moment so that his heart and
soul could hear what it needed to before being able to move on.  As she
confessed her love for him- not for Adrian, but for Angel- he felt his
entire being, weary from its harsh journey, begin to shrug off its mortal
coil.  He had held on for so long, hoping for this moment and now he could
finally slip the surly bonds of earth and move on.  

	With a last rallying of strength, Angel managed to whisper, "I love you
too, Willow.  Always."

	Willow pulled back, desperate hope at his words washing over her,
banishing her tears.  She searched his face, her own crumpling once again
as she took in the peaceful expression on his face.  She swept his now
motionless body in her arms, holding him to her for dear life because she
knew the moment she let go- accepting his death- she would cease to exist.

Part 20

**Hey you out there in the cold
Getting naked, getting old can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles can you feel me?
Hey you, don't help them to bury the light
Don't give in without a fight**

**"Hey You"- Pink Floyd**

Los Angeles
Two Weeks Later

	Willow had always loved Los Angeles in the summertime.  Sometimes, when
she was younger, her father had let her accompany him on business trips to
LA.  She remembered how awed she would be by the huge, fancy hotels and the
crowded beaches with their never-ending stretches of golden sand and the
glistening jewel of the ocean.  But things were different now.  Willow was
grown up, and the city no longer held any mythical beauty for her.  As she
walked the streets, shopping for new clothes on Angelus' dime, all Willow
felt was the crushing weight of despair.  Like an automaton, she went
through the motions of life without really experiencing anything.

	Sometimes it amazed her that she was even able to carry on the masquerade.
 Perhaps it was because she no longer felt alive.  In essence, her soul had
fled her body the second Angel's had, leaving her a pale husk of the woman
she had been.  Only survival instinct and the burning desire to avenge
Angel's death had kept her from remaining by the side of her dead lover's
body.  Angelus had never suspected a thing, and so her cover had not been
blown.  She'd even managed to somehow act happy when Angelus told her the
news of Angel's demise.  They'd left the next day for Los Angeles and had
been staying there while Angelus took care of some business or another.
Willow wasn't quite sure and didn't really care.  It infuriated her how
life went on around her as if nothing had changed- as if the only man she
could ever loved wasn't dead, as if she wasn't dead inside.  

She remained with Angelus, under the guise of her amnesiac state, barely
tolerating his attempts to woo her into giving up her virginity to him.
She knew he was losing patience with her pleas for more time to get used to
him again, and it wouldn't be long before he forced the issue.  Time was
running out and if she wanted to get her revenge, however she decided to do
that, she would have to act soon.

	Willow stopped in front of a trendy boutique, starring with unseeing eyes
at the mannequins in the window as her heart and mind tried to work up the
courage it would take for her to complete the one thing that kept her
alive.  It wasn't that she didn't hate Angelus enough to actually kill him-
it was that she couldn't imagine looking at the face of the man she loved
and watch it disintegrate into dust.  True, the face of the man she had
fallen in love with had been that of Adrian's, but she couldn't help but
associate her lost love with the body he had inhabited for two and a half
centuries.  She wasn't sure she'd be able to actually kill him when it came
down to the crunch.  One look into those eyes and she feared she'd crumble
under her regret.  If only she'd known who he was earlier, if only they had
found each other sooner, if only she'd gotten to him a few days earlier.
If only, if only, if only- her heart was bruised from them.

	It would have to be tonight- if she waited any longer she would risk her
entire charade blowing up in her face.  Angelus would fully claim her as
his and she didn't think she could maintain her façade if things went too
far.  Already she was fighting her body's revulsion at his touch, trying
hard to keep her inner feelings from taking on an externality.  Tonight
Buffy's prophecy would come true- one way or another it would all be over

	Startled out of her thoughts by the sound of someone rather obnoxiously
clearing their throat, Willow turned to find a short, badly dressed man
standing beside her.  It was evident from the way his hands fidgeted with
the brass buttons of his jungle print shirt that he'd been there for
awhile, waiting for her to notice him.  With cold, disinterested eyes,
which she hoped conveyed how much she wanted to be left alone with her
misery, Willow gave him a once over.  Besides the fact that he was
inappropriately dressed for the typical mid-80's California summer day,
complete with a checkered wool jacket and clashing black hat, Willow was
surprised to see that he was watching her with warm, friendly eyes.  Not
only was there recognition in the depths of his eyes, but also a touch of
sadness and sympathy.  They gave her the sense that he knew everything
about her and her losses and was mourning them with her.

	He waited for her to finish her once over before speaking.  It also gave
him the time to completely absorb the vast emptiness he saw in her eyes.
It wasn't as if he'd never seen it before; many humans had experienced
losses such as hers, killing off all semblance of life within them before
their natural deaths.  However, seeing what had become of this young witch
was especially hard, especially since he shared in her loss.

	Pushing aside his own emotions with an ease born of long practice, he
introduced himself.  "I'm Whistler."

	The name was vaguely familiar to Willow, and she found herself trying to
place it.  She thought perhaps Angel had mentioned something about a friend
named Whistler but she couldn't remember specifics.  Of course, Angel had
often shied away from going into detail with a lot of his stories.  When
Willow had thought it was Adrian, the cryptic nature of his personality had
always annoyed her.  Now that she knew the man she had fallen in love with
had been Angel, it all fit: Angel was the King of Cryptic Guys.  Add to
that his Clark Kent/Superman like duality and his preference of minimalist
conversation techniques made perfect sense, though no less annoying.  Of
course, it also made Willow wonder just how much she actually knew about
the man she loved.

	"I see from your lack of recognition over my name that Angel still hasn't
lost that cheeky mystique those who know him love to hate," Whistler added
wryly.  Willow surprised herself by actually giving a small smile of
acknowledgement.  There was something about his blunt honesty that appealed
to her, and she found herself warming to the man, her entire demeanor
softening and becoming less guarded.  "Not that I like speaking ill of the
dead, though in this case since he's not really dead I suppose I can get
away with it, huh.  Which brings me around to my reason for being here,
though I don't think a crowded daytime LA street is really the place for
this conversation.  How about you let me buy you a drink.  I know a great
bar right off Sunset- not too far from here.  The bartenders a cousin of
Willie's so maybe you won't be too homesick there- but don't worry."  He
added at the panicked look on her face.  "He doesn't tolerate the sunlight
intolerant clientele, if you catch my drift.  Only demons, which is why
it's one of my favorite hideouts."

	To his delight, Willow nodded her agreement without any protestations.  He
couldn't help but wonder if she was always this agreeable or if it was a
side effect of her grief.  Whatever it was, it was gonna make his mission a
lot easier if she took everything he said with minimal disagreements.

	They walked to the bar in silence, but it wasn't an uncomfortable one.
There seemed to be an unspoken agreement between them to refrain from
conversation till they arrived at their destination.  Willow chose a corner
booth in the darkened bar as Whistler ordered them some drinks from the
bartender- something tropical he had promised.  The only other clientele
were a pair of red faced, multi-horned demons sitting at the bar.  Willow
might have feared them if she'd come across them in some darkened alley in
the dead of night, but their present conversation was anything but scary.
Ironically, they were in the middle of a heated debate over the next
presidential election, arguing the merits and demerits of each respective
candidate.  They had even raised their glasses to her in cheers as she
first entered the bar.  Bewildered, Willow turned her attention away from
the pair as Whistler joined her, two glasses of what looked to Willow like
frozen strawberry margaritas, complete with baby umbrellas, in his hand.
Amused, Willow watched as Whistler sipped the frothy liquid through the
tiny red straw, her own drink remaining untouched.  She never had been much
of a drinker.

	When he had sucked the entire drink up in one long sip, Whistler sat back
with a contented sigh.  "Nobody makes 'em quite like Lenny."  He nodded
towards her drink.  "Try it, you don't want to miss out on a taste like
this.  The fruit explodes in your mouth- you can barely taste the alcohol.
Oh it's there, but you'd never know it."  He pushed the glass towards
Willow and waited for her to take a sip before continuing.  "Now, you
probably have a few questions, though how I know that, considering how you
haven't said word one since I met you, is a mystery even to me.  But I can
only assume since Angel told you nothing about me.  Oh where to start,
where to start… I suppose the cliched explanation of who and what exactly I
am should come first.  In case you're slow and couldn't pick up on the
hints I've been throwing out, I'm a demon.  I'm not a bad guy though.
Considering how you've only been schooled in Watcher Ideology, or as I like
to think of it- propaganda- you should know that not all demons are bent on
the destruction of all things good and living.  Basically, I'm one of the
good demons."

	Willow looked skeptical, so Whistler amended his usual explanation.  "This
would make more sense to you if you're education in the supernatural hadn't
been so one sided.  The Watcher's need to keep the good/evil line clearly
demarcated for the Slayers so they don't find themselves questioning their
duty in the middle of a life or death fight.  To them, all the slayer needs
to know is that Demon=Bad, and don't even get me started on the whole all
vampires are evil thing.  We've tried to reason with them over the years,
make them realize that their old fashioned ideology was becoming more of a
hindrance to the Slayer in the Modern Era, but they're very stubborn.
We're hoping they'll come around soon.  It's not like we don't have the
time to wait them out."

	Willow couldn't help but interrupt.  "Who's we?  The Good Demons?"

	Whistler smirked.  "Yeah, sort of.  When I say we I'm talking about
everyone on the side of Good.  That includes the good demons, The Powers
That Be, the Oracles, The Council of Elders, and all the other leaders in
the wonderful political machine running things.  Oh, I'm a member of the
Council, by the way, but we don't really have time to get into my rather
long list of credentials.  I've been trying to get the Council to invest in
some badges- it would save a lot of lengthy conversation."  Whistler broke
off as Willow snorted in her attempt to smother her laughter.  Smiling,
Whistler gave Willow another once over.  "You know, you're pretty sexy when
you smile like that.  I can see why Angel picked you over the slayer.  Not
that she's not a cute piece of ass herself, especially now that she's all
vampy- black leather is definitely the right look for her.  Have you ever
considered it- I think it could bring out a whole new side of your
personality you've never considered.  Or not."  Whistler quickly changed
directions as Willow glared at him.  "Don't get me wrong, I'd choose you
over her any day.  You've got that timeless, mystical beauty, what with
your red hair and all that raw, untapped power.  Everyone on the Council
agrees- that Angel is one lucky guy."

	"Has anyone ever told you that you talk to much?"  Willow couldn't keep
her annoyance out of the quip.

	"Ouch, you wound me.  Angel used to say it all the time but coming from a
man of such few words as himself I never took it to heart. Since I'm
supposed to be doing the explaining thing, I wouldn't be complaining if I
were you. Then there's the fact that you've just spent months not having
things explained to you and look where it's gotten you.  I'd think you'd be
refreshed by the change."

	"Alright, I see your point, but could we just move on to the part where
you tell me why you're here?  I kind of have a limit to the amount of time
I can spend away from Angelus, or don't you know that?"

	"Touché.  Now where was I?  Oh right, so anyway, I'm the man who saved
your love Angel from a desolate and lonely life of living on the streets,
whining and moping over how cruel fate was to curse him with a soul and a
demon.  Man, you wouldn't have believed what he looked like when I found
him in Manhattan all those years ago- and the smell!  You don't even want
to know about the smell.  Let's just say it wasn't pretty.  He was a far
far cry from the mysterious, suave loverboy you and the slayer fell in love
with.  You can thank me for that.  I cleaned him up and taught him
everything I know."  Willow eyed Whistler with a look that could only be
described as outright disbelieving.  She gave the demon a once over, her
eyes lingering on the florescent green tie that clashed horribly with the
rest of his outfit.  

Prickling defensively, Whistler muttered, "What is it with creatures from
Earth and their boring taste in fashion.  Anyway, I was sent to enlist him
as a warrior for the forces of good.  We gave him the special job of
protecting the slayer.  We all saw potential in him- he could become
somebody if he had the right help, i.e. me.  Besides, he had a lot to make
up for as his years as Angelus.  True, it wasn't his soul that did any of
it, but the taint was still there.  So instead of letting him waste away
and contribute nothing to the world, we decided he could be of some use.  I
trained him and sent him on his mission.  Can I help it if he had to go and
get all head over heels infatuated with the slayer.  It wasn't supposed to
happen that way, but that boy's been doing things ass backward since the
day he was born.  If he'd just recognized you as the one he was supposed to
be with from the beginning, so many of this could have been avoided.  Now
everything's off track and my ass is on the line with the PTB's.  I've
gotta fix things so they're the way they're supposed to be or else we're
gonna have a lot more problems than a renegade Apocalypse loving vampire on
our hands."

	"Wait a minute, wait a minute?  Are you saying Angel and I were supposed
to fall in love three years ago?  That it was fated by the PTB's?  Why?
And what exactly is off track now?  What's gonna happen that a quick stake
to the heart wouldn't avoid?"

	"Yes to the first part, and as for the second part, I can't answer that,
yet."  Willow opened her mouth to complain but Whistler rushed on, cutting
her off.  "Look, it's not time for you to know yet.  It would make things
even more fucked up than they already are.  Just take my word for things.
Everything will be revealed in due time just as soon as I put things right."

	Willow grudgingly let the issue drop, but picked up on something else she
was curious about.  "What exactly are you gonna do to put things back on
track.  I mean, isn't it a little late for damage control?"  Willow began
to squirm under Whistler's gaze.  The look in his eyes told her he had
expected better of her.

	"If I didn't know better Id wonder about that huge intellect of yours.
Don't play the naïve, innocent with me, as if you still had the wool pulled
over your eyes and had no idea about the real big bad world out there.  You
know as well as I do that staking Angelus isn't the only way to get rid of

	"If you're referring to the soul restoration spell then I think we're a
few centuries late.  Ms. Calender told us the spell was lost even to the
gypsies, and they're the ones who did the original curse."

	Whistler fought to keep the bite out of his answer.  "Ms. Calender was
telling the truth as far as she knew it.  The spell is lost- to humans.
But I'm not human, and we're not exactly hindered by a little something
such as a dead human language.  For us there's no such thing as a dead
language- we know them all.  Hell, even if that language really was dead,
there are a million other restoration spells we could use, and if the PTB's
wanted they could restore Angel's soul in a blink of an eye.  The point is,
Angel's soul can be restored, this time by a non-vengeful friend, and
that's exactly what's gonna happen.  I don't usually interfere this
directly but time is of an issue.  I'm going to have to get my hands dirty
to accomplish what I want.  Willow."  Whistler snapped his fingers in front
of the shocked witch's face.  "Come on, snap out of it.  I know it's a lot
to absorb but we don't have time for such indulgences."  Whistler wondered
if maybe he'd pushed the girl too far, too fast with his information.  She
wasn't moving or saying anything and as the minutes dragged on he began to
get worried.  Relief washed over him as tears began to run from her eyes,
though it quickly turned into sympathy as her face became animated once
again, her small body hunching over as sobs racked her.

	Moving to the other side of the booth, Whistler wrapped an arm around
Willow, pulling her against his body so she could pillow her face against
his shoulder and cry comfortably.  Despite what he'd just said, he couldn't
bring himself to stop her from giving in to her tears.  With all the girl
had been through she deserved the indulgence, and he wasn't going to deny
her it.

	Long after Willow's tears had run dry her body was plagued with dry,
heaving sobs.  When those finally left her, leaving her body still against
Whistler's, Willow lifted her flushed, tear stained cheek off his shoulder
and gave him a tentative smile.  She hadn't meant to break down so
completely in front of the demon but, amazingly, she didn't feel
embarrassed, despite the huge wet spot that now stained his shirt, visible
evidence of her lack of control.  She knew he understood her need for
emotional release, and the fact that he'd offered her the silent comfort of
a shoulder to cry on endeared the demon to her immensely.  Within the short
span of an hour she already counted him as one of her cherished friends,
and if he really did what he said he had planned, she would love him
forever, even offering up her first born in gratitude.

	Whistler laughed good-naturedly.  "Are you always so hyperbolic with your
thanks.  Don't worry, you'll end up repaying me in the future, and not in
some Godfather kind of way, and it definitely won't be anything as severe
as that.  You'll understand what I mean when the time comes.  Although, if
you feel the need to do something a little extra, I know a motel not far
from here that… Ow."  Whistler rubbed the side of his abdomen recently
vacated by Willow's elbow.  "Jeez, I was only kidding.  I'd better
apologize for the reading your thoughts thing.  I try not to but that last
thought was broadcast so loud I couldn't help but catch it.  Now, if you're
done bruising me for my help, let's get a move on.  We've got a lot of work
to do before dark; or at least I do- you really only need to sit around and
look pretty."  

Whistler took Willow by the hand and began to lead her out of the bar.  She
stopped him as they reached the door.  "Thank you, Whistler."  The depth of
emotion evident in her voice made the simple thanks heavy with meaning.
Blushing, Whistler ducked his head.  "Yeah well, just remember you wanted
this the next time Angel gets all broody and cryptic and refuses to tell
you something important. I can't be responsible for all his actions."
Willow swatted him on the arm playfully.  As they made their way through
the streets of LA, Willow felt lighter and more alive than she had in
weeks.  The demon had given her back something she had been positive she'd
lost forever- hope.

Part 21

**Peace is what they tell me
Love am I unholy
Lies are what they tell me
Despise you that control me

The peace is dead in my soul
I have blamed the reason for
my intentions poor
Yes I'm the one who
the only one who
Would carry on this far

Torn, I'm filthy
Born in my own misery
Stole all that you gave me
Control you claim you save me**

**"Torn"- by Creed**

	Angelus was worried.

	He wasn't scared because Angelus didn't get scared.  That sort of weakness
belonged to his soulful counterpart, and as far as he was concerned, it was
best left with him.  Once a man, or vampire for that matter, was weakened
then he was an easy target for fate to come and kick your ass back down
with the rest of the pussys who gave in to weakness.  Angelus prided
himself in being a pillar of strength, a master of destroying all seeds of
potential weakness before they had a chance to take root; any embers were
extinguished before their flames could span out of control, becoming an
unstoppable blaze that would burn him alive.  Kill, main, destroy- whatever
it took to remain on top, he would do it.

	Only now he was beginning to worry, and the feeling was incompatible with
his innate cockiness.  He wasn't quite sure what to do now that he wasn't
completely in control of a situation.  This was unfamiliar territory for
the Master Vampire, and it was making him feel ineffectual for the first
time ever (not including his wimpy soul infested days, but he didn't count
that part of his life as himself anyway).

	He glanced at the digital alarm clock on the nightstand for the tenth time
in as many minutes.  Cursing under his breath, Angelus resumed his restless
pacing.  He'd been on his feet trying to burn off his nervous energy for
the past hour but it wasn't doing any good.  Never before had he been so
physically aggravated by his forced captivity during daylight hours, and
Buffy's incessant chattering was literally driving him up the wall.  As in
life, it seemed the only time the bitch shut up was when he was in the
midst of slamming himself in to her mouth.  That was one thing you couldn't
take away from the Slayer.  She had a mouth like a vacuum, almost as if she
had been born to perform that particular act.

	Even now, the bitch was trying to get his attention, laying spread eagle
on the bed as she ran her hands over her naked flesh, hoping to tantalize
him enough to forget the fact that the Witch was over an hour late.  The
stupid twit didn't seem to realize that he wasn't in the mood.  Not for
her- especially when he was stuck indoors without any idea where Willow,
the only woman he did want, was.

	Immediately he regretted allowing her to go out by herself during the day.
 He had figured it was safe enough.  At least during the day there was no
chance of some idiot Fledging mistaking her for an easy target, especially
since he hadn't completely established his dominance in this city yet.
Besides, she had shown no signs of being even close to regaining her
memories.  He figured that if the news of Angel's death hadn't been enough
to disrupt her repression then he was safe from losing his new, compliant
Willow, for the time being anyway.  Plus, not allowing her to go anywhere
without his company when he was supposed to be playing the good boyfriend
didn't seem like the greatest idea.  Now he wished he'd been more strict in
keeping her close to him at all times.  Before today it hadn't been a
problem.  Willow had never been more than a minute late in returning home.
Now she was an hour and fifteen minutes late and he was stuck here for
another half-hour before sundown.  Until then he would be unable to do
anything but sit here and come up with a million different scenarios for
her absence.

	The three most likely explanations he'd come up with were all equally
disturbing, though none were unfixable.  First, Willow could have been
kidnapped by some unwitting serial killer/rapist who had no clue as to just
whose property he was messing with.  If that was the case then the
unsuspecting bastard was in for quite a surprise.  Even if he hadn't
touched Willow, he wouldn't live to see another sunrise.  Angelus was
already reveling in the pleasure he'd receive from making the bone
splinter's fly as he beat the life out of the guy.

	The second possibility was that one of those hapless friends of hers from
Sunnydale had somehow tracked them down and made off with his woman while
she was safely away from him.  If it was anyone then he figured it was that
stuttering fool of a Watcher or that hormonal boy who was too dumb to
recognize that he was in love with her.  He should have killed those two
bumbling idiots when he had the chance, but if it turned out they were the
ones interfering with his plans then he'd track them down and rectify his
previous slight.

	The third and least frightening possibility (Oh God, did he just think
that.  Fuck, if he was beginning to get frightened over this then he was
really in trouble), was that somehow, something had triggered Willow's
memory while she was out and she now knew the truth.  If that was the case
then she had probably headed out of LA as soon as she'd remembered
everything.  If her memories had returned then he'd be back where he'd
started, but that scenario was the most preferable.  After all, he loved a
challenge.  It was just too bad he hadn't fucked her before her escape.
Man, he would have loved to watch her eat herself up with guilt at having
been deflowered by the man she hated most in the world.

	There was a fourth possibility- one that he didn't even want to consider,
perhaps because the more the thought tugged at the back of his mind, the
more likely it seemed to be the correct explanation.  His pride couldn't
handle believing it.  If it was true then it meant the Witch had fooled him
and he didn't like to consider the possibility that anyone had pulled one
over on Angelus.  He was the cunning one, the one who tricked people in to
believing that whatever face he showed them was his true face.  If the
Witch had really pulled off such a deception then he had grossly
underestimated her.  Of course, he'd be too busy dolling out some
punishment to express any admiration over her near impossible accomplishment.

	Without realizing it, Angelus' pacing was now being accompanied by a
growling that emanated from deep within his throat, aural evidence of his
growing fury.  An hour and thirty minutes late and 15 minutes before he
could safely venture outside.  If took every ounce of his survival instinct
not to tear down the door right that second and hunt down his prey.

	The closer it got to sundown, the more positive Angelus was his red-haired
temptress had been faking the entire time, just waiting for her opportunity
to escape.  Each step he took as he paced acted as an external barometer
for the murderous rage that was gaining strength within him, burning his
insides with the heat of a full blown fire.  His mind became flooded with
pictures of the lessons he would have to teach her.  He'd taken it easy on
her in the past.  He'd allowed her to be insolent, but he'd show her who
was Master.  So far she'd been protected from the full-blown rage the demon
nursed inside him when things didn't go his way.  Not even when he'd first
returned and been battling with Buffy had he let his demon slip back into
the old patterns of utter hatred and destruction it had followed in the
past.  She might have read about it in those stupid Watcher's Diaries, but
she had no idea just how very bad it could be.  Now she'd witness it- live,
uncensored, and completely up close and personal.  She'd learn the hard but
oh so fun way.  He'd have her begging with her very soul for mercy.

	Weakness.  He could feel it rotting away his strength like a disease,
infecting him with the need and desire he felt for her.  She had made him
weak, but he wasn't going to allow it to continue.  If he had to cut
himself open to remove her from his system he'd do it.  Or maybe he'd just
cut into her.  Either way she was going to pay.  Tonight.  He would become
her weakness, not the other way around, and then things would be as they
should again.  The demon would be sated.

	One minute left.  Impatient, Angelus stalked towards the door, ready to
fling it open and begin the hunt.  He never made it halfway there.

	Pain exploded behind his eyeballs.  Searingly hot, blinding the vampire as
he fell to his knees.  His vision disappeared in a burst of white light
that was inescapable in its brilliance.  The pain rushed through his body,
travelling the path of veins and musculature with deliberate purpose,
feeding into the core of his heart before imploding.  Every crevice of his
body felt as if it was being torn from the inside out, doubling him over as
he lost control of all motor functions.  Buffy screamed as her sire began
to jerk and twitch uncontrollably, as if a live wire had been placed in
direct correspondence with the bundle of nerves in his lower spine.  The
picture he made was incomparable to the actual raw agony he was in.
Nothing earthly could ever be the cause of what he was undergoing.

	The demon screamed in denial, recognizing with a dreaded familiarity the
pain it had experienced only once before.  If it could have fought it would
have, but there was no fighting this.  Before long every rational thought
had been emptied from his head.  All he could do was feel, and soon enough
he stopped doing even that.  A power forged from the heavens itself
traveled through Angelus' body with immeasurable speed and devastating
effects.  Golden lightening flashed within the unfathomable depths of his
eyes and with a quickness that matched how it had begun, it was over.  An
eternity that added up to only a minute of human time.

	As his body lay prone on the floor with a stillness reserved only for the
truly dead, Buffy rushed to his side.  One look at her sire's face,
transformed by an all too human guilt and suffering, told her all she
needed to know.  Crying out her denial, Buffy turned and ran, unable to
deal with the impossible that had suddenly become reality.  She left Angel
alone, crying out with his very soul as his mind, body, heart and soul
became one again.  

In the wake of the memories, he cried out for the one woman who could share
the burden of his pain and lead him down the path of recovery.  "Willow!
God no!  No, please no.  Willoooooooooooooooooooooooooooow."

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