Friendship Building

by Saber ShadowKitten
Abracadabra 1


Dear Diary,

It's Friday night...well, technically Saturday morning.

Buffy left for Mexico with her mother after school today for Winter break. It's hard to believe first semester of my senior year is over with! And so much has happened since the first day of school started.

First of all, Buffy returned to Sunnydale and that little Nazi troll was forced to allow her to re-enroll in school. That gave us all a happy. We were so worried about her, but, after she told us what had happened with the curse and Acathala, we immediately forgave her. Well, I immediately forgave her. Xander and Cordelia harped about it for about a week, then forgave her as well.

Second, I got Angel out of Hell. No small feat for a beginning Witch. I performed the ritual the weekend after Buffy returned. Once I had accessed all of Miss Calendar's files and found her Romany spell book which housed the curse, it was a cinch. Well, not really a cinch. More like the SATs.

Basically, the spell went like this: Burn a little incense, mark some symbols on the floor, and chant 'hey you, get your butt out of hell' over and over until it works. It worked all right. Angel, naked as the day he was born, appeared in a flash of light on the floor in front of me. Good thing my parents weren't home.

While he was still unconscious, I did a secondary spell. This one was to ensure that he would never lose his soul again. I wanted him to be happy. He deserved it after all he's been through.

Of course, when I told the others that Angel was back, they were less than thrilled. More like furious. Xander and Giles screamed at me for close to an hour, Buffy cried and Cordelia did her nails. They all forgave me as the semester went on, and everyone even forgave Angel.

Angel. He is still hurting deeply. His time spent as Angelus ripped him apart. Buffy and him were no longer together. They both knew that he'd never lose his soul again, but they could not forget the pain they caused one another. Instead, they're tentative friends. Angel went back to his cryptic guy routine and watching her back. He also watched out for the rest of us Slayerettes, too.

He even bought me new fish.

I've talked to him - Angel, that is - a bunch of times. He'll walk me home from the library some nights, or he'd just stop by my balcony to once again thank me. I haven't invited him in again, even though I want to. I mean, I trust him and all, but it's hard to forget Angelus.

Which is why I'm going over to Angel's apartment tonight.

It's time to move on.

Part One

Willow walked down the street, backpack slung over her shoulders. As she moved, clinking sounds could be heard from it. She glanced at the slowly darkening sky and shivered in the cool California winter air. Fingering the stake in her pocket, she sped up her pace towards her destination.

As she approached the apartment door, Willow began to hum the Mission: Impossible theme under her breath. *Willow, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to seek out the reluctant vampire and bring happiness into his life,* she thought to herself with a giggle. She was pretty bouncy from the large coffee she'd gulped down earlier to wash the last dregs of the late night spent at her computer and planning her 'mission.'

Willow forced herself to calm down and put on her resolve face. She raised a hand and rapped on the door.

Angel answered, dressed comfortably in a pair of loose black running pants and a white, v-neck T-shirt. He stayed cautiously away from the entrance in case of an attack as he opened the door. "Willow?"

"Hey, Angel. Can I come in?" Willow asked.

"Sure," Angel said, moving aside to allow the petite red-head into his dark apartment. He cocked his head at the sound of clinking coming from her backpack as she entered. "What brings you here?"

Willow faced the vampire, trying not to smile. "I'm here on a mission." The theme song was running through her head again, threatening to burst out in incessant humming.

Angel cocked an eyebrow. "What sort of mission?"

She lowered her backpack carefully to the floor, then shed her coat. Handing it to him, she knelt and opened the bag and pulled out two champagne glasses.

Angel watched with a puzzled expression as she set the glasses on the hard floor. It was followed by two large bottles of..."Champagne?"

Willow nodded, a smile starting to bloom on her face. She quickly stifled it . "My mission: to celebrate your return."

Angel's expression turned to shock, then pain. "Willow, I don't think..."

"You don't get to think, Angel," Willow said, picking up her booty and placing it on the small kitchen table. "See my resolve face?"

Angel looked at the young woman in surprise. She was standing near the table, hand on her overall clad hips, staring him down. *Oh, boy,* he thought. *I'm in trouble now.* "Listen, Willow..."

"Nope. I'm not listening," Willow said. She began to hum the Mission: Impossible theme once more as she reopened the two bottles she had uncorked earlier that day. One for her, and one specially made for Angel. She poured the pale yellow liquid into her glass, watching as the bubbles threatened to spill over the edges. With a small giggle, she set the bottle down and picked up the other. Red liquid filled the other champagne glass.

"Here you go," Willow said, handing Angel the glass.

Angel held it up to the dim light and frowned. "What's this?" He sniffed it, and was surprised he smelled blood. Human blood mixed with alcohol.

"I made it just for you," Willow said, smiling brightly. "I call it 'Vampire's Delight.'" She laughed cheerfully at his frown. "A toast! To Angel, who is the subject of tonight's mission. Welcome home, friend."

Angel's eyes widened at her toast. He watched as she raised her glass at him, then drank the bubbly alcohol. Not wanting to be rude, he tipped his own glass to his lips. The dark red liquid tumbled into his mouth and down his throat. The combination of blood and alcohol caused his taste buds to burst with the flavor. Unknowingly, he finished off his glass quickly.

Willow smiled as she watched Angel down the drink. Not wanting to be left behind, she finished her own glass, then took his from his hands and refilled it.

"Why are you doing this, Willow?" Angel asked, accepting the proffered glass.

She shrugged. "I wanted to. It's Saturday night! First day of break! And I'm happy!" She bounced on her heels, the alcohol splashing out of her glass and onto her hand. "Oops!"

Angel frowned at her. "Are you drunk?"

"Nope. This is only my second glass," Willow answered, holding up the flute. "And now, I toast you again, Angel. For the fish!" She raised her glass to her lips and let the champagne into her mouth.

Angel drank as well, finishing off the mixture quickly. He was surprised once more when Willow took his glass and refilled it. He had a feeling he was in for a long night.

Willow took the two bottles and her own drink and sat on the couch. She set the bottles on the floor next to her and motioned for Angel. "Have a seat."

Angel complied, resting one bare foot and his knee. He cleared his throat, wondering how to stop Willow without hurting her feelings. He still wasn't up to company, the guilt weighing heavily on his soul. "Uh...Willow?"

"Angel. We're going to play a game," Willow said, interrupting him. She knew that getting Angel to relax and be happy was going to take lots of work, and she came prepared. "The toasting game. I already gave two, so now it's your turn. For each toast, we drink."

Angel just looked at her. "You want me to say a toast?"

"Yup. And then, we drink!" Willow replied with a large grin. The one glass of champagne she already drank was starting to affect her caffeine laden body. *Gonna have to let him catch up. Vampires take longer to be effected by the alcohol. Luckily, it's 100 proof, or we'd be here all night!*

Angel thought for a moment. He wanted to extract himself from this situation, and figured that he would soon be able to with her low tolerance for alcohol. "I toast to the pleasant evening ahead," Angel finally said.

Willow took as sip as Angel drained his glass. Grinning, she picked up the bottle and gave it to him. "Fill 'er up," she instructed. She raised her flute when his was full again. "My turn. To school being out for two weeks!"

Angel drank quickly, then refilled his glass without prompting. "To...uh..." He glanced around the room for inspiration. "To books." Willow snorted impolitely. Angel glared at her. "What?"

"Nothing, nothing. Drink up," Willow said. Angel downed his fifth glass of the blood/alcohol mixture. "Is it good?"

"Actually, yes," Angel said. "It's very good. What's in it?"

"B positive from the blood bank mixed with alcohol," Willow answered vaguely. *If I tell him, he might stop,* she thought as she raised her glass once more. "To the Charlie Brown Christmas Special."

"The what?"

"The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. It's on tomorrow night. I'm going to Xander's to watch it," Willow said. Angel's puzzled expression met her gaze. "You've never seen it?"

"No. I don't watch too much television," Angel confessed. "In fact, I don't even own one."

"Oh, you poor thing," Willow said. "How could you have survived all these years without one?"

Angel chuckled, surprising them both.

"Angel, you laughed!" Willow exclaimed, bouncing in her seat. "I toast to you laughing!"

Angel dutifully drank as he observed Willow's bright, shining eyes over the rim of her glass. The mixture was starting to have an effect on him. He poured his seventh glass, the bottle almost empty. "To you, for this wonderful mixture. Too bad it's almost gone."

Willow finished her glass off, then stood and hurried over to her backpack. She reached inside and pulled out a second bottle. "Voila!"

Angel laughed outright, the rich sound echoing in the room. Willow squealed in delight, handed him the bottle, then took her seat. She refilled her own glass and waited for him to do the same. "Hmm. Let's see. I toast..." she looked around the room frantically, trying to come up with something fun. She spotted her target and grinned. "To vampires who have sexy feet!"

Angel snorted and looked at Willow in shock at his own sound. Her laughter filled the silence that was constantly present in his apartment. Smiling, he downed his drink.

The alcohol was effecting both the vampire and the hacker thoroughly, lowering their inhibitions. They continued the toasting game, with Willow bringing out a third bottle for Angel when the second was empty. Her own bottle was down to the last few sips.

"Last toast, Willow," Angel purred. If he stopped to think he would have realized he was completely plastered. "Better make it a good one."

Willow scrunched her brows and put on an air of deep concentration. Angel laughed, tucking his legs under him again. They were sitting face to face on the couch, Indian style, bottles leaving rings on the floor.

"For my final toast...drumroll please," Willow giggled as Angel put his glass on the floor and began to make a drumroll on his leg with his hands. "To us! Friends forever!"

Angel's smile lit up the room at her toast. "Do you mean it?"

"Of course. That was the whole idea of tonight. To strengthen our friendship and to tell you how happy I am that you're back," Willow answered. "Now drink up! I wanna go out."

Part Two

Willow and Angel stumbled out of his apartment for the second time. The first time, Angel had forgotten to put on his shoes, which he didn't notice until he got a splinter on the bottom of his foot. After Willow had operated on the splinter, the reshod vampire and hacker went into the cool night.

Willow put out her arms and spun in circles. "What a beautiful night!" Dizzy, she stumbled. Angel caught her before she fell to the cement street.

"Whoa, there," he said. Willow neighed at him as she regained her equilibrium. Angel chuckled and began to bounce on his toes. "So, where to, Miss Rosenberg?"

"Lesse," she slurred slightly. Willow looked at her watch. "It's 7ish, I didn't know it was that early," she said, shaking her wrist in case the watch was broken. The second hand continued to move. "Let's go to the Bronze."

"Sounds like a plan," Angel said. "Turn around," he instructed, waiting for the red-head to comply. When she did, he bent and hoisted her onto his shoulders.

"Whee!" Willow squealed. She was now straddling his head, one leg on each side, holding onto his hair. He started to walk to the Bronze. "This is so cool! I feel like a basketball player."

"Which one?"

"Wayne Gretzsky."

Angel laughed. "He's a hockey player, Willow."

"Oh. My bad," Willow said with a giggle. "Um...Joe Namath?"


"Babe Ruth."

"Baseball...wait, you had to know that!"

Willow laughed again and Angel joined her. Their merriment echoed in the deserted streets. "How 'bout Arnold Palmer?"

"Golf," Angel replied.

"Mark Hammil."

"Wasn't he in Star Wars?"

Her face suddenly appeared in front of him, and Angel stumbled slightly at the upside down grin. "Oops. I meant Scott Hammil. The ice skater."

"If you already knew he was an ice skater, why did you say him?" Angel asked, his eyes alight with happiness.

"I forgot what sport we started with," Willow answered, her hair swinging like a red curtain.

"Me, too," Angel admitted. He grinned at her. "I think you got me snookered, my fair maiden."

Willow giggled. "Well, I have quite the happy, too. This is so fun. I knew there was a happy vamp hiding under all that brooding."

"For tonight, my brooding is on hold," Angle declared. He let go of her legs and put his arms straight out to his sides. "I'm the king of the world!"

Willow squealed again, clutching Angel's hair, and sat up quickly. Angel stumbled once more, latching back onto her lets to prevent Willow from tumbling to the ground.

"Well, what do we have here?" A voice said from the darkness.

Angel turned with Willow atop him and peered into the darkness. "Whosat?" he slurred.

"It's a baddie!" Willow exclaimed quietly, with a hiccup and giggle.

"Show yourself!" Angel demanded, stomping his foot. Willow giggled again and pulled a stake out of her pocket. In her other pocket, she uncapped a small vial of holy water.

The vampire literally swaggered out of the darkness, intent on his prey. He was new to the area, and didn't know who or what Angel really was. He only saw two obviously drunken humans out for a stroll.

"Ooh. He's ugly," Willow commented, wrinkling her nose. "Smelly, too."

"Terrible taste in clothing, too," Angel added, surveying the foe. "I think we should call the fashion police."

"You've heard of the fashion police?" Willow said in a astonished voice. "I thought you didn't have a TV?"

"Buffy influence," Angel said offhandedly. "She blamed me for the same thing once. That's why now I got style. I got pizzazz. I got rhythm..." Angel began to sing, dancing lightly on his feet with Willow bouncing on his shoulders.

The other vampire looked at the two in disgust. It was time to kill them. Especially the terrible dancer. He took two steps closer, latching onto Angel's leather coat lapels, his face becoming the demon.

Angel stopped dancing and cocked his head to one side, as if baring his neck. "Do you really want to bite me?" he asked in a low voice. "Do you really want to incur Angelus' wrath?"

The vampire sneered. "What can you do, pitiful human?"

Angel smiled mockingly. "That's where you are mistaken. Who said I was human?" Angel let his game face come forth.

The other vampire's eyes widened in complete shock. Willow raised her hand and poured the open bottle of holy water over his head. He screamed in pain, skin burning, as Angel took the stake from Willow's other hand and plunged it into his chest. He burst into ashes, coating the drunken duo.

Willow's face appeared in front of Angel's again. "That was fun," she told her still vamped out friend. "I think he peed his pants."

Angel started to laugh, his face melting back into its human mask. "Come on, let's get to the Bronze where my dancing will be appreciated."

The two entered the Bronze after paying the cover charge. Although Angel was technically the owner of the site, he still felt obligated to pay. Willow peered over the crowd, looking for anyone they knew. She smacked Angel's head in excitement.

"Ow! Watch it up there," Angel said to the red-head still perched on his shoulders. They had given the excuse that Willow had twisted her ankle and therefore needed to be carried to the bouncer at the door.

"There's Xander and Cordelia! C'mon, let's go say hi!" Willow said over the music. She kicked her heels into his chest. "Giddyap."

Angel whinnied loudly, causing the patrons around him to look at the strange couple. Willow laughed in delight and they wove their way to the table where the other Slayerettes sat. "Hey guys!"

Xander and Cordelia stopped their argument when they heard Willow's voice. Expecting to see her standing across from them, Xander cried out in shock when he saw Angel's face instead. "Angel! I thought I heard Willow."

"You did," Willow said, wiggling her legs against the vampire's chest. "I'm up here, playing basketball."

"That's what sport it was!" Angel exclaimed loudly. People turned to stare again. "Basketball!"

Xander looked at the two in front of him, who were laughing like mad. He turned his puzzled face to Cordelia. "What's up with them?" He looked back at the duo. "What's up with you?"

"I'm up!" Willow said. "Pass me the ball, Xander. I'll dunk it like Michael Jordan."

"I thought you didn't know any basketball players," Angel said, thwacking the leg he was holding.

Willow's face shot down in front of his once more. "Do, too. I just couldn't think of any."


"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not."

"Liar, liar, pants on fire," Angel taunted the red-head. She scowled at him, her upside down face scrunching up in distaste. Angel started to laugh so hard, he lost his balance, knocking into the table.

Xander and Cordelia looked on in awe. This was the fearsome Angelus? The brooding, guilt plagued Angel?

"They're drunk!" Cordelia said, snapping her fingers.

Angel removed Willow from his shoulders. When he righted himself, his hair was standing straight up in the back. Willow pointed at him and laughed. "What are you pointing at, Red?" Angel asked, grabbing her finger.

"Your hair! It's sticking up! You look...look..." Willow sputtered. She gave up and plopped down in a chair, Angel still holding her finger. "Hi guys!"

"Hi, Willow," Xander said tentatively. He watched as Angel changed his grasp on Willow's hand and began to thumb wrestle with her. He turned to Cordelia. "You're right. They're smashed."

"Hey, no fair cheating!" Willow smacked the vampire on the arm. Her thumb was pinned firmly under his.

"Moi? I never cheat!" Angel said. "I am the epitome of honesty."

"Yeah, I pity you, alright," Willow replied. Angel stuck out his lower lip at her taunt, pouting. She rolled her eyes and snorted. "Let's boogie."

The two drunk friends went out onto the dance floor, still wearing their winter coats, and began to gyrate to the loud music. Xander's dancing looked normal compared to what they were doing.

They flopped around the dance floor for half an hour before returning to the dazed spectators. When they got to the table, Willow excused herself to use the restroom. Cordelia followed.

"So, Xander. How's tricks?" Angel asked, taking a seat. He thumped his fingers to the beat of the music.

"Uh...f-fine," Xander stammered. He couldn't believe Angel. Or Willow. "Y-you?"

"Wonderful. Super. Supreme. With extra cheese," Angel replied. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old leather flask. "Wanna sip?" Xander shook is head. Angel shrugged, opened the cap and took a long drink.

Xander's eyes bulged as he watched the vampire. *Now I'm having a wiggins,* he thought as Willow bounded up to the table, Cordelia in tow.

"Hey! Wassat?" Willow asked, snatching the flask from Angel. She smelled it. "Oh. You're stuff. Where's mine?"

"Probably in your pocket," Angel said, pointing to the inner lining of her open coat. "That's where you put it, at least, before you ripped the bottom of my foot off."

"I did not rip the bottom of your foot off," Willow said, as if she were speaking to a child. She pulled out a medium sized aluminum flask and unscrewed the cap.

"Did, too. First with your finger nails, then with the pin, then with a knife!" Angel complained, his voice rising higher with each item. He recapped his own drink and put it back into his pocket.

Cordelia and Xander exchanged looks again, clearly fascinated by the strange circumstances. They watched as Willow took a drink, then continued to argue with the vampire.

"Dr. Willow made it all better," Willow said, patting Angel's cheek. "It wouldn't have hurt if you would have hold still."

"It wouldn't have hurt if you didn't try to dig a hole the size of Russia in my foot!"

"Well, if you would have remembered to put your shoes on, like a good vampire, I wouldn't have had to operate."

"What happened?" Cordelia finally said. She was irritated that these two obviously drunken fools were interrupting her evening with Xander.

"He got a splinter," Willow explained patiently. She put her flask away and began to gesture with her hands. "And he made such a big deal about it. 'Ow! I'm dying! It hurts! I'll never survive!'"

"I did not do that," Angel said, covering his ears. "You're so lying."

Willow burst out laughing at his use of teen slang. Angel glared at her. Cordelia looked angry. Xander looked confused.

"Why are you two drunk?" Xander finally asked when Willow calmed down.

"We're celebrating," Willow said.

"Celebrating what?" Xander prompted his friend.

"Sexy bare feet!" Willow exclaimed. She started to laugh again. Angel sputtered a few times, trying to say something, but couldn't.

"I think it's time we took you home, Willow," Xander said, standing.

"Don't wanna," Willow said.

"What do you want to do now, Red?" Angel asked, reaching over to button up the hacker's coat.

"Let's go to the mall! They're open 'til midnight cuz of Christmas," Willow said, watching Angel's hands with deep concentration. He had missed a hole, and the coat ended up lopsided. "That don't look right."

Angel furrowed his brow and examined the problem. He shrugged. "Oh, well. As long as it's buttoned," he said, standing. He looked over to the other couple. "Shall we go to the mall?"

Xander raised his eyebrow at Cordelia in question. "Oh, all right," Cordelia said. "But only because they're having a sale on shoes. We'll take my car. Try not to puke in it."

Part Three

Angel and Willow sang loudly from the back of the appropriately licensed 'Queen C's' car. Xander winced as they went into the next verse, which was the same verse as the previous fifteen. He was surprised Cordelia hadn't thrown them out of the car yet. *Must be great shoes,* he thought.

"...sixteenth verse, same as the first! I'm 'Enery, the eighth I am. 'Enery, the eighth I am, I am. I got married to the widow next-door. She's been married seven times before and everyone was an 'Enery ('Enery!). She couldn't have a Willy or a Sam (no Sam!). I'm her eighth old man, I'm 'Enery ('Enery!). 'Enery, the eighth I am!"

Angel and Willow started to chuckle as they pulled into the mall's parking lot. Cordelia soon found a spot and shut off the engine. She turned and faced the smashed pair. "Ok, you two. Enough! If you do anything to embarrass me in this mall, I will slowly tear out your intestines through your nose and use it to decorate my Christmas tree, got it?"

The two friends eyes widened at the threat. They quieted down immediately and had the decency to look shamed. "Sorry, Cordelia," Willow muttered.

"Me, too. Sorry," Angel echoed.

"Good. Now, let's go," Cordelia said, exiting the car.

Xander walked up to his girlfriend and put his arm around her waist. "Thanks, Cordy. You really know how to get people to shut up."

"Years of practice with you, Xander," Cordelia said, smiling at the young man. "You and the rest of the losers."

"Hey, I resemble that remark," Xander chided as the foursome entered the mall. He glanced over at the somber Willow and Angel walking slightly behind them. Their heads were down and they were shuffling their feet, acting like punished children.

"Where to first?" he asked, looking around the crowded mall. *Great place for a vamp picnic,* he thought, checking his coat pockets for supplies. The Slayerettes had picked up when Buffy left town, becoming rather good at dusting vamps.

"Let's use my system," Cordelia said, gearing up for shopping mode. Xander groaned. "We keep right, hitting all the stores in order on the ground floor, then the second."

Xander turned to look at the two behind them once more as they began to walk the mall, and found Willow whispering to Angel conspiratorially. Angel had his head bent, listening intently. He nodded as she spoke, and Xander wondered what was going on in their liquor addled brains.

"Uh...Xander, Cordelia?" Willow said, falling into step with the couple. "We're gonna go get some food. We'll meet up with you in a little while."

"And who are you gonna snack on, Deadboy?" Xander asked the vampire snidely.

Angel chuckled. "I thought maybe a little Chinese. Or possibly Italian."

Xander's eyes bugged at the offhand joke. He'd never heard Angel joke about his undead state before, and it was definitely giving him the wiggins. "Right. Got ya. See ya."

Angel and Willow watched their friends walk off, then turned and went in the opposite direction towards the food court. Willow decided on a Cinnabon, which Angel paid for, and they sat at one of the few empty tables in the packed mall.

"Wanna bite?" Willow asked with a wink, holding up a forkful of the sticky substance.

Angel grimaced and reached into his pocket for another drink. *Blood was blood,* he thought as he quickly downed Willow's mixture. *Vampire's Delight, she called it. And, boy this is delightful.*

Willow started to bounce in her seat as her ears caught the Christmas music over the din. Even thought she was Jewish, she knew many carols from the years spent at Xander's house. Her hand slipped into her own pocket for a nip of the liquor she had filled it with. The combination of cinnamon and champagne was interesting on her tongue.

When she finished her food, they both stood, pitched the trash, and wound their way to the fountain in the center of the mall. Willow saw Angel's soft expression as he watched children splash or throw coins into it. She pulled a few pennies out of her pocket and handed one to him. "Make a wish."

Angel looked down at the coin, then back at Willow. He smiled brightly, closed his eyes, then tossed the penny into the fountain. Willow did the same.

"What did you wish for?" She asked him.

"Can't tell ya," Angel answered. "It won't come true, then."

"Oh, come on, Angel. I'll tell you mine," Willow begged.

"Nope. Ain't gonna happen," Angel said, grinning. He bent down and scooped some water into his hand, then splashed it onto Willow.

Willow shrieked as the cold water hit her face. "Angel!" She yelled, lunging past the vampire to splash him back. A quick water fight ensued, before Angel caught a security guard coming from the corner of his eye. He snatched up Willow into his arms and ran in the opposite direction, his vampire speed easily making them disappear into the crowd.

He set Willow down on a bench, then plopped next to her with a sigh. "Boy, that food sure does fill you up."

Willow smacked his arm. "That's not nice."

Angel chuckled at her expression, then gave her puppy dog eyes. "I'm sorry, my friend. I'll be good."

"You'd better. Or else!"

"Or else what?"

"Or else...or else...or else...well, when I think of it, you'll be sorry," Willow sputtered. Angel and she turned away pouting. A store across the hall caught her eye, causing them to light up in mischief. "Angel, toy store!"

Willow pulled Angel to his feet, then practically dragged him into the foray of toys and shoppers. When he saw all the gadgets and other children's things, his face lit up with glee. The two friends made their way up and down each aisle, picking up and playing with various toys that caught their fancy. When they reached the last row, Angel grinned evilly.

"Hey, Red," he whispered, pointing to the toys in front of him. "I have an idea."

Part Four

Xander walked next to Cordelia. They finally made it to the other side of the first floor, after stopping in every single shop on the way. The shopping queen hadn't purchased anything yet, so he counted his blessings. "Hey, Cordy. You haven't seen Willow or Deadboy, have you?"

"Nope. And if we're lucky, we won't," Cordelia answered as they exited out of another store. They joined the crowds and continued slowly towards the next one. "This one coming up after the hallway to the restrooms has some earrings in it that I want to check out."

Xander nodded absently and turned his head, scanning the crowds for the familiar red head or the irritating vampire. He didn't see the hands that snatched out and grabbed Cordelia, pulling her into the same hallway she just mentioned.

Cordelia felt the hand clamp over her mouth and she tried to scream as she was dragged away from Xander. She found herself being spun into the hallway and into Willow's waiting arms. "Shh!" Willow said, holding her hand over Cordelia's mouth as Angel released her. Cordelia's eyes narrowed in anger as the red-head removed her hand. "How dare you scare me like that," she hissed.

"Cordy?" Xander's voice could be heard over the crowd of people, slightly panicked.

Angel looked over at the two women and smirked. "I'd watch out ladies. I'm about to bring in Xander."

Willow giggled and grabbed Cordelia's arm, dragging her down the short hall to the lounge area set up outside of the restrooms. Cordelia tried to remove her arm from Willow's grasp, but found that she couldn't.

"Willow, let go! You're hurting my arm," Cordelia said.

"Just come on, Cordelia. We have a plan," Willow said with a whisper. She began to hum the Mission: Impossible theme again.

Xander looked around furtively for his girlfriend. "Cordy? Where are you?" He didn't like getting split up from her, especially since this was a good night for vamps to be roaming the mall. He didn't see the arms that shot out from the hall and grabbed him, one covering his mouth.

Xander started to struggle against whoever held him. He knew it had to be a vamp because of the strength behind the grip. "Xander, quit squirming," Angel's voice whispered in his ear. "You're only giving me a hard on."

Xander stopped moving in an instant, his eyes growing wide. Angel removed his hands and the teen spun and face him. Angel grinned maliciously, then leaned closer and licked Xander's cheek. "Mmm. Salty."

Xander paled and began to stammer, backing away from the drunk vampire. He held up his hands in protection. "C'mon, Angel. Don't talk like that. What about Buffy?"

Angel chuckled, and grabbed the boy by the arm. "Let's go, Xander. We don't have time for that now. We have a plan to execute!"

Angel pulled Xander down the hall until they met up with the girls. Xander looked with relief at seeing Cordelia safe and sound, then shot a murderous glare at Angel. "What's this about, Deadboy? You're really starting to tick me off."

"Like I care," Angel said with a lopsided grin. Willow extended the large toy store bag she was holding to Angel and cleared her throat. "What? Oh, right. The plan."

Angel paced a few times in front of the trio, then turned on his heel and snapped his feet together. "Ten hut!"

Startled, Xander straightened to attention, his military memories coming forth from Halloween past. Cordelia had gasped, her back going ramrod straight as well. Willow still held out the bag, big smile plastered on her face. She began to hum the Mission: Impossible theme for the fourth time that night.

"Listen up, troops. We have a plan," Angel began. He reached into the bag and pulled out two over the ear radios. "You will be armed with two things. These communicators and," Angel put his hands in the bag again and came out with small super soakers. "These guns. You may work with a partner or on your own. The object. Seek and soak your enemy."

After Angel hooked his own earpiece over his ear, Willow took hers out of the bag and stuffed it in the garbage. "You will have five minutes to head in opposite directions before the game commences. Any questions?"

Xander and Cordelia still stood stunned by Angel's military like demeanor. "Um...Will? You mind telling me what's going on?"

"You heard the General, Major Harris," Willow said, holding up her super soaker. She had filled them to capacity and put the batteries into the radios as Angel had instructed. "We're going to have a little game. Winner is the driest at closing time. Only rules are: Don't leave the building and don't get caught by security or other baddies."

"Thank you, Sergeant Red," Angel nodded towards her. Willow saluted him. "Corporal Chase, anything you have to say?"

"You guys are plastered! I can't believe you want to ruin my $200 skirt playing commando!" Cordelia complained.

Angel lowered his squirtgun and fired at the brunette. "I'll buy you a new one," he said with a smirk.

"Ooh! You are so going down, vampire," Cordelia hissed. She dug into her purse, grabbed some change, then threw it into a locker along with her coat. "Anyone else want to stow their stuff in here?"

Xander, Willow and Angel shrugged off their coats and stuffed them into the locker as well. Willow didn't carry a purse, having tucked her wallet into her backpack, which was at Angel's apartment. Both the vampire and the red-head removed their drinks before Cordelia closed the locker.

Willow offered hers to her friends. "Anyone?"

Xander's hand closed on it, and he took a long swig of the champagne. Cordelia passed.

"The time is now 9:39. You have five minutes to get as far away from the others as possible," Angel said. "Let the games begin!"

Part Five

Angel could hear Willow's giggle in his earpiece. They had been playing for roughly two hours and he had yet to find her. They only had fifteen minutes to play, and he wanted to get her.

Xander and him had gotten into a huge water fight on the second floor near the escalators, which only ended when they saw security heading their way.

Cordelia had managed to catch him unawares. She had literally walked right up behind him and stuck her watergun to his neck. "Hands up." Angel complied, holding his hands high. He felt the watergun traced down his wet T-shirt along his spine, causing him to shiver.

"This is for my skirt," she whispered evilly. He felt her hands on his waist band and before he knew it, she dumped ice down the back of his pants.

Angel howled when the wetness touched his backside. He spun around in time to see Cordelia sprinting away, laughing in his earpiece. Xander and Willow's laughter soon joined in as Cordelia told them, in detail, what she just did to the vamp over the radios.

"Sergeant Reeeeed? Where are yoooooou?" Angel drew out over the radio. He heard Willow chuckle softly in his ear. She had proved to be allusive, and not only to him. The others had gotten ambushed by the young, tipsy woman and yet, they didn't get her in return. They only got wet.

Angel was highly amused when he heard Xander and Cordelia find each other and the battle that ensued until all communication was cut. He could imagine what they were doing quite vividly, his drunken state arousing him with the two lovers in his mind. If they were lovers, that is.

"General Angel," Willow's low whisper in his ear caused his brain to slow perceptively. "I see yoooou."

Angel's head shot around as he tried to find the red-head in the late night thinning crowd. He was standing in front of the fountain where they had made their wishes earlier in the night. So far, his wish was coming true.

He could hear her chuckle softly. "Trying to find me? Won't do you any gooooood."

Angel looked up to the second floor, scanning it for his new found friend. "Where are you, Red? I know you're close. I'm gonna get you, you know. Might as well give up now."

"No. I think it's you that better give up, General. If you put down your gun, I won't have to soak you," Willow said.

Angel laughed. "You really think you have me, don't you?"

"Oh, I know I do."

Angel continued to look around for the young woman. He saw Cordelia and Xander leaning over the balcony, almost directly above, watching him. They raised their hands and waved. He concentrated a minute and was able to pick out their breathing over the radio. They were listening intently.

"Do you see her?" Angel asked, still facing the two. They both shook their heads no. He glanced at his watch. "You only have two minutes, Red."

"More than I need, General," her voice was low, dangerous. Angel tensed and began to scan more earnestly.

She laughed at him over the radio. "You aren't going to find me. Drop your gun, and this will all be over."


"Well, it's your wet hide," Willow chuckled into the radio. "Are you ready for me?"

"Just try it," Angel answered, frantically searching. He heard a loud splash behind him and spun on his heels, peering around the fountain.

He never knew what hit him.

One second he was poised and ready, then next he was face down in the fountain.

Angel stood up sputtering, soaked to the skin, and saw his attacker. Willow stood there, her telltale hair covered in a ski cap and body in an oversized jacket, holding a baby in her arms. At least, he thought it was a baby when he saw this woman sitting innocently on a bench near the fountain, playing with it.

Willow laughed loudly as a voice came over the speakers announcing that the mall was closing. Those surrounding the fountain were clapping and laughing as well.

Angel glared at her happy face and climbed out of the water, leaving puddles as he stomped up to the petite girl. Xander and Cordelia joined them from the escalator in the center of the mall, holding hands and laughing. They were both rather wet themselves.

"Looks like Willow is the grand champion," Xander said, as they came up to their friends. "I have to hand it to ya, Will. I didn't see you coming until it was too late."

Angel continued to glare at her. "That was unfair," he said in a low voice.

"You're wet. I'm not. Hence, I win," she said sweetly. Her eyes suddenly widened. "Ooh! I didn't ruin your flask, did I?"

Angel pulled the sodden leather from his pocket, it's contents emptied over an hour ago. "It'll dry."

"Hey, you kids!" A security guard scurried up to them. Angel quickly shoved his gun down Willow's jacket and tugged off the ear piece. Willow, Xander and Cordelia hid their own equipment.

"Yes, sir?" Angel asked, turning his wet body towards the man.

"What happened here? Why are you all wet?" the man said, hand on his own radio.

"A young boy was running and I dodged out of his way and fell into the fountain," Angel explained. If he could blush, he'd be redder than Santa's suit.

"Oh. Ok. I thought maybe you were the kids from earlier, chasing each other with waterguns. But, now that I see how old you are..." The guard trailed off as he noticed some other teens heading up the escalator. "Hey, you kids!"

The foursome watched as the man ran off, then broke out laughing. "C'mon, let's get our stuff and go home. Angel, you don't mind riding in the trunk, do you? I don't want to get my leather interior all wet," Cordelia said.

"How 'bout if I just take it all off, then you won't have to worry," Angel said with a sexy grin. All three teens blushed.

Part Six

The foursome decided to go to Angel's apartment, seeing as how he was the wettest of the group. They talked animatedly about the game, with Angel and Willow both quizzing the couple in the front seat about what they were doing when they cut communications.

Angel escorted his entourage into the apartment. Remnants of his and Willow's evening were still sitting on the floor, next to the couch. "Sit, stay, drink, enjoy," Angel said, heading towards the privacy screen to change out of his wet clothing. He was still rather drunk, but was slowly coming down after all the excitement of the game. He'd never know he could have such fun.

Cordelia had brought a portable radio in from her trunk and put some music on. After Angel emerged with a dry pair of jeans and black T-shirt on, he handed Xander a change of clothes. "Here. These should fit ok."

"Thanks," Xander said, moving to change. Cordelia soon followed suit, having brought her own clothes from her stash in the trunk.

Willow dug into her bag and pulled out three more bottles of champagne, two small flasks of rum and a handful of cocktail drinks. "General? Do you have any more glasses or cups?"

Angel looked in surprise in all the stuff she had in that one backpack. Seven champagne bottles? And all the other stuff, too?

Xander had noticed as well. "Willow? Are you Mary Poppins?"

"No, why?"

"How did you get all this stuff in your bag."

"Um...magick," Willow answered shyly. Her liquid courage was wearing off as well.

Angel retrieved two more glasses from his only cabinet and sat down on the hard floor next to the hacker. She expertly poured herself more champagne and offered choices to the others. Then, she handed Angel the other two bottles. This time, he picked one up and read the label. 'Vampire's Delight. Created especially for Angel.'

Chuckling, he filled his glass with the red liquid and downed it in one gulp, before refilling it and doing the same. On his third glass, he noticed Xander and Cordelia staring at him from the couch. "What? Do I have a mustache?"

"I didn't think you could...I mean..." Xander said.

Angel handed him the bottle. Xander read the label with his girlfriend. "Vampire's Delight? They sell stuff just for vamps?"

"No, Red here made it," Angel said, putting his arm around the young girls shoulders and squeezing affectionately. Willow blushed and downed the rest of her drink.

"Let's play another game," Willow said, changing the subject. "A drinking game," she continued, wiggling her eyebrows. The others laughed.

"How about I Never?" Cordelia suggested. "That's a fun, fast game."

"How do you play?" Angel asked, leaning back on one arm. He stretched his long legs out in front of him.

"It's simple. I'll go first. I never played I Never," Cordelia said. All three looked at Angel. "Now, because you have never done this, you take a drink."

Angel nodded and took a swallow. The glass was half empty. At the rate he drank, he'd be done with the two remaining bottles before the game really got going. "Um...Red? Could you make some more of this stuff?"

"Sure. In fact, with this rum, all I need to do is raid your fridge," Willow said, holding up a bottle. "One of these is for all five bottles."

"That's barely any alcohol at all," Angel commented, taking the drink from her. "So, how come I'm drunk as a skunk after three mixed ones."

"Magick," Willow whispered suggestively. She waved a pattern in the air and confetti floated down from the ceiling.

"Wow, Will. That was great!" Xander said, bouncing slightly on his seat. "When did you learn to do that?"

"Over the summer. It was something to keep me busy while Buffy was...on vacation," Willow answered with a quick glance to Angel. She didn't know if Buffy had told him about her running away.

"Be careful, Red," Angel said. "Magick can be dangerous."

"I know. And I will be. Now, who's turn is it?" Willow said, looking directly at the vampire.

"Mine, I guess. Hmm," Angel thought for a moment, then smirked. "I never drank human blood."

His three guests made disgusted faces at him and drank. Angel laughed.

"Really sick, Deadboy," Xander commented after drinking. "You are just the life of the party."

"I try. Really, I do," Angel answered with a humorous grin on his face. "Your turn, Red."

"Um...I a frog!" Willow said. She looked around the room at the others. Xander and Angel drank, but Cordelia didn't.

"What? It was a dare," Cordelia said at their looks. "I never spent $300 on one article of clothing," she said with an evil grin.

This time, Xander and Willow were the only two to drink. Willow raised an eyebrow at Angel. He shrugged. "My velvet coat cost $500."

Even Cordelia's eyes widened at that one.

"My turn," Xander said. "I never..."

The game continued, and the four friends became more and more sloshed. And the subjects became more and more personal.

"...kissed a vamp or have one kiss me," Xander said. Cordelia took a drink, but no one else.

"We all know that I've kissed other vampires," Angel said. "But what about you two?"

"Yeah," Cordelia chimed in. She looked at her beau suspiciously. "When?"

"Drusilla kissed me the night of that wacko spell," Xander answered. "Remember?"

"Oh, yeah. I remember that," Angel said. "Boy, was I furious."

No one commented on the fact that he was referring to what Angelus had to done. They had forgiven Angel for the demon he had no control over.

"But what about you, Will?" Xander asked.

"I mssd ka dsloladl," Willow mumbled into her chest, head down.

"What was that, Red?" Angel asked.

Willow raised her head and looked at him. "I kissed you, General," she answered softly.

Angel cocked his head and gave her a puzzled look. "When? I don't remember..."

"You were still unconscious," Willow explained. "It was right after I brought you back and anchored your soul. As I covered you up, I kissed you. I was just so happy that you were home."

Angel became choked up at what she said. He cleared his throat a couple of times, then took a long drink. Willow had made him more Vampire's Delight, and he was on his third bottle of the second batch. They were all completely bombed.

"I never had a better friend than Willow," Angel said with a small smile. Three out of the four occupants raised their glasses to the red-head and drank.

"Guys, your making me blush," Willow said, hiding her face behind her hair. Everyone laughed, releasing the somber mood. "Ok. My turn. I never had sex."

Willow, Xander and Cordelia all drank. Angel stuck out his lip. "That's not a fair question! I'm 243 years old!"

Laughter filled the apartment and spilled out into the night. It was the sound of friendship building.