I had such fun this winter break! So much fun, in fact, that I haven't written in this diary since before my 'mission.'
The mission went great! I went over to Angel's on Saturday night, as planned, and got toasted!! The Vampire's Delight that I mixed up worked wonders on Angel, too. He's got such a sexy smile. I never knew he had so many teeth! And his laughter, oh my. Sends shivers down my spine.
Xander says I have a thing for Angel. Do I? I mean, I like him lots. He's turning into one of my best friends and it's really easy to talk to him. Xander and I have grown apart since he started dating Cordelia. Not that I don't like her. Well, now anyway, since she came off her pedestal and got sloshed with us. She's a raunchy drunk.
The four of us have been getting together nightly, goofing around, patrolling, watching movies or shopping. You wouldn't believe how much of a kid Angel really is when he's at the mall. He's the one who came up with the idea to play commando. And I won! It was a Kodak moment when he came sloshing out of the fountain. Too bad he doesn't do pictures.
I'm going back over to his place tomorrow to check on his injuries. We had a rematch earlier and had a side order of vamps. It was a brutal fight, but we held our own. But only because of all the practice we've put in with Angel and the fact that we trust each other. Even Xander trusts Angel, which is saying a whole lot.
Well, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow school starts again! I can't wait!
Angel looked up from the book he was reading at the knock on his door. "Who's there?" he called.
Willow entered the apartment, noticing that Angel had cleaned. "Hi!"
"Hi, back," Angel said with a big smile. He set the book down on the bed next to him. "How was school?"
"Great! We started sin/cosin derivative graphing today in calculus," she said, removing her coat. "Did I just sound excited about that?" Angel laughed and Willow shot him a quick smile. "How are you feeling?"
"Good as new," Angel said, sitting up and moving to the edge of the bed. "You make a good nursemaid."
Willow went over to the shirtless vampire with a look of concentrated concern. "Turn," she instructed. When he complied, she examined the place where the gash was the night before. It was gone. "This nurse declares that you are healed."
Angel laughed, a rich, joyful sound that filled the small apartment. "Thank you, nurse Red."
Willow blushed and moved away, sitting on the couch. "What'cha reading?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Dante's Inferno," Angel told her with a wry grin.
Willow laughed. "You are terrible," she said between laughs. "Completely and utterly."
"I try," Angel responded. He stood and pulled a shirt on, buttoning it as he sat on the couch opposite Willow.
They began a lengthy conversation about everything and nothing at all. Before she knew it, Willow's eyelids were drooping. Glancing at her watch, she swore. "I have to go! My parents are going to kill me," Willow said, scrambling to her feet.
"I'll walk you home," Angel told her, standing and sliding on his leather jacket.
"Thanks," Willow said with a smile. "I'm in enough trouble as it is without worrying about being dinner for the undead."
With a chuckle, the two friends went out into the night.
With Buffy back in town, the Slayerettes work slaying vampires ceased and they were once again relegated to researchers. Angel was the only one to aid the Slayer on patrols.
Willow and Angel got together often, sharing stories of the past, both good and bad, and plans for the future. On weekends, the four Slayerettes would have bonding, not bondage as Xander put it, parties. Sometimes Buffy would join them, other times she would not. They tried to make the Slayer feel included, but Buffy felt like a fifth wheel. She missed out on the inside jokes and the closeness that was made over break between the four.
The semester was nearing an end and soon the teens would be heading off to college. They had defeated all that the Hellmouth threw their way during that time and had met the new Slayer that was called because Kendra was killed. With a second Slayer in town, the vampire population quickly dwindled, until it seemed there was nothing left to slay.
Which is why, when the attack came, it was very unusual.
"So, Giles," Buffy said, entering the library with Willow, Xander and Cordelia in tow. The second Slayer had returned to her hometown earlier in the week. "Anything on the Hellmouth agenda for tonight?"
"Not that I can see, no," Giles answered. He held up the Codex, which was the best source of Slayer prophecy, and gestured to it. "I can find nothing in the Codex which pertains to this particular evening."
"We're Bronzin' then," Xander said, doing an impromptu dance.
"See you tomorrow then, Giles," Buffy said, quickly leaving before she got stuck training. "Bye!"
"B-bye," Giles said, watching the quartet leave. He turned to go back into his office when he heard bells. "Angel?" he called up into the stacks.
"Hello, Giles," Angel said, moving from the darkness to be seen. He was standing behind one tall bookshelf in order to be hidden from the sun streaming through the side window.
"Wh-what brings you here?" Giles asked, closing the Codex and setting it on the table.
"Nothing good," Angel told him. "I heard from one of my sources that something was going to happen tonight."
"Do you know what?" Giles said.
"No. I tried to get more details, but I had no luck," Angel said. "Is there anything in the Codex?"
"N-no," Giles replied. "In f-fact, I just told Buffy and the others th-that they were free this evening."
"I'm going to try to get some more information," Angel said. "You should call and warn them."
"I will get right on it," Giles said, moving towards his office. "Let me know if you find anything."
"I will," Angel said. He turned and went back into the stacks, jingling.
"Oh, dear," Giles said aloud. "Oh, dear."
"So, G-man, what's the big ta-do," Xander said, entering the library for the second time after school. "I thought we were free."
Willow was seated at her usual spot behind the computer, surfing the Internet. Cordelia was paging through one of a large pile of books. Buffy was whittling stakes, head bopping to the music coming from her walkman.
"Good, you're h-here," Giles said, handing the teen a book. "Angel came earlier and said that s-something was going to h-happen tonight."
"Let me guess," Xander said. "We don't know what it is."
"C-correct," Giles replied. "The others have done a, wh-what do you call it? Round robin?"
"Yeah, " Xander answered. "Ok. Serious time." He moved into Giles' office to use the phone.
"Aargh!" Willow made a frustrated noise from the computer. "Nothing! Not. A. Thing."
"Problems, Willow?" Cordelia asked, looking up from her book.
"I am getting absolutely nowhere," Willow told her, clicking the mouse rapidly. "No strange bodies at the coroners, nothing on the pagan sites or any of my other reliable sources."
"Did you try the non-reliable ones?" Xander asked, exiting the office.
"I'm going to do a general word search," Willow said. "See if anything comes up, but it's going to take time."
"We may not have time."
"Aah!" Xander yelled as the others, minus Buffy, jumped in surprise. They turned to see Angel coming out of the stacks. "Where's your bells, Deadboy? You just scared ten years off my life."
"Sorry," Angel said, walking down the stairs to join the group. Buffy noticed him and waved with her knife. "Had to take them off."
"Did you f-find out anything more?" Giles asked the vampire.
"No. And I used all my best techniques, too," Angel said with an evil smirk.
"R-right," Giles stammered, turning away. "So far, we have h-had no luck, either."
Angel walked over behind Willow and put his hand on her shoulder. He leaned down, looking at the screen and spoke to her. "How are you doing?"
"Not good. This is so frustrating," Willow told him between clenched teeth. "There is nothing."
Angel squeezed her shoulder consolingly, then moved over to the pile of books on the table. "Which ones haven't you gone through?" he asked Cordelia.
"These," she said, pointing to the stack on the left. Angel took a book from the top of the pile and began leafing through it.
Hours passed and the small group in the library still found nothing. Buffy had given up whittling stakes and was practicing on a punching bag. Willow was still focused on the computer, swearing every so often. Cordelia and Angel's pile of books had dwindled from twenty to three and Xander was off getting snacks.
Giles looked at the clock on the wall, surprised at how much time had passed. "I take it no one has had any luck," he said, closing yet another weighty tome.
"No," Cordelia said. "And my eyes are all blurry, my hair has got to be a mess, and I'm going to have permanent wrinkles in my skirt."
Angel smirked at her comments. "Don't worry, Cordy. We'll make the big, bad wrinkles go away."
"Ha, ha. You're killing me," Cordelia said sarcastically.
"Do you think I should go do a few rounds, Giles?" Buffy asked her Watcher.
"I-I'm not certain if that w-would be wise," Giles said, looking at Angel. "It may b-be better if all stay here until we ascertain wh-what the danger is."
"I have to agree with Giles on this one, Buffy," Angel said, facing the Slayer. "For now, at least."
"But what if while I'm stuck in here, it, whatever it is, is killing people out there?" Buffy said.
"I don't think that'll be a problem," Xander said, scurrying into the library, hands full of sodas and junkfood. "I think it's here."
"What is it, Xander?" Angel asked as the boy dumped his load on the counter.
"I was getting food when I heard something down the hall," Xander said, moving towards the weapons locker. "Of course, being the man I am, I peered around the corner, saw a couple of men dressed in suits, and took off running back here." He pulled out the radios and passed them around. They had bought an additional one for Giles, just in case of a time like this. "Whoever they were, they did not look like they belonged."
"It looks like you have a plan," Angel said, hooking the radio over his ear.
"I do. Recon mission," Xander told him. "They were near the front doors. I want Angel and Buffy to come with me to scope them out. Will - you, Cordelia and Giles shut down the library and get out of sight. We'll keep in touch over the radios."
The gang sprang into action. Xander led Angel and Buffy quietly out into the hallway, while those in the library started to grab books and put them in the cage for safe keeping.
Xander led his team down the hall towards the front doors.
Peering cautiously around the corner, the three saw the men Xander had spoken about. "Looks like a couple of MIBs," Xander commented.
"MIBs?" Angel asked softly.
"Men In Black," Buffy explained. "From the movie...never mind."
"Could be government," Xander said. They were watching as the men walked slowly, checking each door they passed.
"They do kinda look like those guys from Sophomore year," Buffy said. "The ones who took Marcie."
"The invisible chick?" Xander asked.
"One in the same," Buffy replied. "I wonder if they're the only ones here."
"I'll do a quick sweep of the school," Angel volunteered. "You two watch these guys."
"Be careful," Buffy told him. Angel nodded and faded from sight, blending into the darkness.
"How does he do that?" Xander said, shaking his head.
"Must be a vampire thing," Buffy replied. "How are you guys in the library?"
"All's quiet on the western front," Willow's voice came over the radio. "I'm doing a check of the FBI and CIA files."
"Good idea," Buffy said. "You might also want to hit the other agencies, too."
"I'm on it," Willow replied.
The two friends watched as the men came closer to their hiding place. "We need to move," Xander told Buffy. Buffy nodded and they crept away, taking up a new position in an adjoining hallway. "Buffy, stay here. I'm going to check for an open classroom and scope the parking lot."
Xander quietly moved away, heading down the hall and turning doorknobs. Buffy watched as the two men came into sight and paused. There were three ways the men could go - down the hall where towards Buffy, up the stairs or towards the library.
Buffy held her breath as the men choose to head toward the library. "They're coming your way, Giles," Buffy said. "Stay out of sight."
She could hear Willow's scrambling to shut down and get away from the computer. "Willow, get up here," Buffy heard Cordelia say.
"I'm hurrying," Willow answered.
"Willow, now," Giles said sternly. Buffy heard Willow squeak, then silence.
The two men had checked the door to the administration offices and were almost at the library. "Here they come," Buffy warned. She watched as they looked through the round windows into the dark room. They started speaking to each other and Buffy wished she could hear what they were saying.
The two suits pushed open the doors to the library. They paused, letting their eyes adjust to the dark. Cordelia, Willow and Giles watched the men from their various hiding positions in the stacks.
The men split up, one moving towards the computer, the other to Giles' office. Willow watched as her computer was violated. She was thankful that she'd taken the time to clear the screen.
The man at the computer, however, knew what he was doing. He quickly opened the history folders and read them. He swore and called softly to the other suit.
"Jackson, get over here," he said. Jackson exited the office with a few books in his hands.
"What is it, Murphy?" Jackson asked.
Murphy pointed to the screen. Jackson read it and whistled under his breath. "I found these in the office," he said, handing the books to Murphy.
"Looks like the file was correct," Murphy said. He pulled a small cell phone out of his jacket and dialed. "It's Murphy. Are the subjects on the move? No, we haven't. Give us five, then proceed."
Murphy disconnected and put the phone away. He motioned Jackson closer and whispered something in his ear. Nodding, he stepped back as Murphy stood and the two left the library.
Buffy watched as the two men came down the hall. At the intersection, they turned and headed back towards the front doors. "Giles?" Buffy said. "What happened?"
Xander came up behind Buffy, a strained look on his face. "Buffy, we have trouble."
"Buffy?" Willow said over the radio. "Xander's right. Those men accessed the history on the computer, then basically said something was going to happen in five minutes."
"There are several vans surrounding the school," Xander said. "I didn't see anyone, but I bet they're out there."
"Giles, I think we'd better clear out," Buffy said, carefully walking towards the library with Xander. After checking the intersection for the two men, they ran to join their friends.
Willow was back in front of the computer, Giles was at the weapons locker and Cordelia was looking panicked as they entered the room. "Giles, they're human," Buffy told her Watcher. "No need for the Slayer."
"I'd rather be safe than sorry," Giles said, loading the tranquilizer gun after handing her the crossbow. "I suggest we leave through the tunnels, seeing as Xander says the school is surrounded."
"Load up on stakes, then," Buffy instructed the others. "We may run into a few of our undead friends."
"Speaking of undead friends, where's Deadboy?" Xander asked. He tapped his earpiece. "Why haven't we heard from him?"
"Angel?" Buffy said, listening carefully. "Can you hear me?" Nothing.
"This is a status check, Angel," Xander said. Still nothing.
The friends looked worriedly at each other. "Should we go after him?" Buffy asked.
"He'd come after us," Willow said, loading the pockets of her overalls with crosses, holy water and stakes while her computer downloaded.
"I don't think we should risk it," Giles said. "He would want us to remove ourselves from harms way."
"Oh, shit," Willow said, looking at the screen.
"What language, Willow," Buffy told the hacker. "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?"
"I need you all to come here and look at this," Willow said. She waited while they read the information on the monitor.
"Crap," Buffy swore. "I was wrong, Giles. They're not human. We need to bail."
"They have a schematic of the school, Buffy," Xander said, pointing to the small icon on the screen. "Probably the tunnels, too. They may have them blocked off."
"But don't the tunnels branch off all over Sunnydale?" Cordelia asked. "How can they block them all?"
"Yeah, they do," Buffy answered. "And they probably can't block them all. Good thinking, Cordelia."
Cordelia smiled. Buffy turned to Xander. "We need a plan, Major Harris."
"Check," Xander said, snapping into military mode once again. "A plan. We have T minus two minutes before whatever is going to happen, does." He began to pace. "We're missing one team member, and have only one exit. I need to know, how many want to go find Angel?"
Willow and Buffy raised their hands. "Ok. Giles, you take Cordelia and head out. Willow, I need you to see if you can print out the schematic to the tunnels for them. As soon as you two get passed the school, surface and go to Giles' place."
"I d-do think you three should come with us," Giles said.
"No go, G-man," Xander said. "Our friend may need us. These radios only have a mile radius, keep that in mind if you need to contact us for any reason."
Willow gave Giles the printout, then went back to reading the files she found. "Cordelia, are you ready?" Giles asked.
"No, but I have no choice," she responded. She gave Xander a kiss on the cheek. "Good luck."
"Thanks," Xander smiled at her, and gave her a quick hug. "Now, you two go. If all goes right, we'll meet you at Giles' place."
Giles nodded and took Cordelia's hand, leading her to the second floor and into the tunnels. Xander turned to Buffy, who was loading up on weapons. "The three of us will split up. Will, you stay here in case Angel comes looking for us. Buffy, you take the second floor, I'll stay on first."
"Right," Buffy said. "Let's rock and roll."
Buffy and Xander split up at the intersection. "Keep in contact," Xander instructed as Buffy ran lightly up the stairs.
"Got it," Buffy responded. At the top, she looked both left and right, searching for the vampire. "Angel? Can you hear me?"
Buffy decided to go left first, and she quickly by carefully made her way down the empty school hall. She tried each door she passed, finding them all locked. When she reached the end, she started back, checking the doors on the opposite side of the hall.
Xander, meanwhile, was exploring the first floor. He checked the cafeteria, the pool and the gym before slowly moving down the main hall. "Anything?"
"Nothing here," Buffy said.
"Nada," Willow responded.
Xander crept low to the front doors, staying below the windows. Cautiously, lifted his head to survey the outside. "Incoming!" Xander shouted softly, turning on his heel and taking off down the hall.
The doors burst open as five men dressed in all black ran in, three of which were vampires, one demon and one human. Xander skidded at the intersection and ran down the hall to the left, away from the library. "Willow, disappear! I have five bogies on my tail."
"Right," Willow said. She flipped off the computer monitor and ran up into the stacks. She was glad they hadn't turned the library lights back on after the two men left.
"Xander, where are you headed?" Buffy asked over the radio. She was running down the hall back towards the stairs.
"Cafeteria," Xander told her. He took a quick look behind him and saw all five baring down on him. "They're catching up."
"There's a back access entry through the kitchen that leads to the gym," Buffy told him, running down the stairs. "Get out through that way, cut through the boys locker room and connect with me by the trophy case."
"If my legs hold out that long," Xander said. He sprinted around the tables littering the cafeteria floor. He heard one of the men chasing him crash into some chairs. Not turning, he burst through another door, past the serving line and into the chrome kitchen.
Buffy flew down the halls to her appointed meeting place with Xander. Suddenly, she heard a crash coming from the floor above her. It sounded as if someone broke a window.
"Will, you ok?" Buffy asked as she skidded to a halt by the trophy case.
"Yeah," Willow said. "No one came in here." She moved out of the stacks and went back to her computer to try to find some way to help.
"Buf-- Cordelia and I--ear. We'll tr-----elp," Giles' static voice came over the radio.
"You're not coming through, Giles," Buffy said. Giles didn't respond.
"Buffy! I'm almost there," Xander said, running through the locker room. "I lost one in the cafe." The teen pushed through the doors and around the corner to see the Slayer. She held her crossbow up.
The men chasing Xander wheeled around the corner and Buffy picked one vampire off with a bolt. Xander shot holy water from the super soaker, burning another while the Slayer reloaded. She took aim and fired, leaving a cloud of dust where the burned vampire stood.
One vampire and one demon stood facing the teens, growling. "I have the bloodsucker," Xander told Buffy, charging down the hall. Buffy immediately ran after him and leapt at the demon.
"Eek!" Willow squealed at the sound of battle. She was reading the files on the computer over and over, looking for anything that could help. The library door swung open, making a soft noise and Willow ducked. She watched as black clad legs crept towards Giles' office.
As soon as the legs were out of sight, Willow raced to the stairs. She grabbed the railing and pulled herself around, giving her a sling shot momentum as she raced up the carpeted stairs and into the stacks. Peering carefully between the shelves, she saw a man exit Giles' office and over to the cage. He shook the locked door twice, then let his eyes covered with some sort of binoculars, roam the entire library. Willow held her breath as she pressed her back flat against the side of the bookshelf, and tried to calm her heart which was racing in her chest.
Buffy grabbed and twisted the demon's head, hearing a resounding crack as its neck broke. Xander stood leaning against the wall, panting from his fight with the remaining vampire. "We need to find the other one," Xander told Buffy. "The human."
Buffy nodded, rubbing her arm where the demon scratched it with his claws. "I heard a crash from upstairs earlier. I'm going to check it out. Be careful."
"You, too," Xander said, following her down the hall. He broke off at the cafeteria with a jaunty salute.
Buffy ran up the stairs and straight into a world of trouble.
Willow waited nervously for the man to make a move. She watched as he slowly walked over to the stairs to the second floor, pausing to listen with every few steps. She ducked as he started to climb, watching him through the lower shelves and out of his line of sight. As he moved through the stacks, she crept in the opposite direction, heading back towards the main floor.
She heard him swear, and assumed he found the entrance to the tunnels. Suddenly, she heard the static of another radio.
"This is Charlie one," the man in the stacks said. "It looks like some of them escaped through the tunnels."
"Roger that, Charlie one," a woman's voice said through the static. "We have confirmation of only six heat sources in the school, two of which are you and Alpha six."
*Heat sources!* Willow thought to herself. *That means they can see us no matter where we hide.* She crept over to her backpack which was on the floor near the computer and pulled out her spellbook.
"Send a team to the houses to see who escaped. Remember, we are only interested in the one," he said. "Charlie one out."
Quickly, before he could return, Willow ran into Giles' office and hid behind the door. She quickly flipped through the book, looking for the incantation now vital to escape.
Buffy's eyes practically sprang from her head at the sight of ten men dressed in black with goggles over their eyes.
"There's one!" one of the men shouted. Buffy screeched and turned on her heel, running back down the stairs at full speed.
"Xander! Willow!" Buffy yelled. "I'm in big trouble! We need to bail!"
"Where are you?" Xander called over the radio.
"Going to the library!" Buffy answered, turning at the bottom of the steps and charging towards the double doors. She burst into the darkened room. "Willow?"
Willow didn't say anything. She was still behind the door, deep in concentration as she wove the spell.
"What have we here?" Charlie one's voice came from the second floor. He looked down at Buffy through his heat seeking goggles.
"Who are you?" Buffy asked, frantically searching with her eyes for the hacker. "And what have you done with Willow?"
"Who I am is none of your concern, Slayer," Charlie one answered. "As to the red-head, why don't you tell me where she is?"
Buffy filed the fact that he didn't have Willow into her brain. "How do you know I'm the Slayer?"
"Please. I've done my homework," he answered.
"Buffy, he's wearing heat vision goggles," Willow's voice came over the radio in a whisper. "If I did this spell right, he shouldn't be able to see me."
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Willow leave Giles' office. She waited, her body tense, for the man to notice the hacker. He didn't.
Buffy heard a commotion in the hall behind her and knew that the fight was headed to the library. Whirling, she ran back out the doors, ignoring the man's shouts for her to stop.
Willow quickly followed the Slayer.
In the hall, Xander was taking a beating. He had sprayed several vampires with holy water across the lower parts of their faces, and, from the dust on the floor, had staked at least two. Buffy jumped into the fray, kicking and punching the nearest vamps.
Willow stood watching a moment, afraid. When no one turned to capture her, her brow furrowed in bewilderment. That's when she realized the spell worked perfectly. None of the men in the hall with their goggles on could see her.
Buffy managed to get Xander free from his attackers and they started running down the hall. "Run!" She shouted to Willow as the men took up the chase, leaving Willow behind. As soon as the men were out of hearing range, Willow began to speak.
"Buffy, Xander, you two need to get out of here. They can see you, but not me. Double back to the library and get out through the tunnels. I'll close the door behind you."
"Are you sure?" Buffy asked over the radio. They were heading through the cafeteria in the same ploy Xander used earlier.
"I'm sure. Just hurry," Willow said. She turned and peered into the library for Charlie one. He was heading her way.
Quickly, she pressed her back against the wall as he exited the library. Taking advantage of the swinging door, Willow scampered inside and ran up to the entrance to the tunnels. "I'm in position," she whispered to her friends.
"We're coming," Xander told her. They burst into the library and ran up the stairs to the back of the stacks.
"Hurry, hurry," Willow instructed. "Find Giles and Cordy and tell them that they need to cancel the operation. I'll send the instructions via e-mail to my computer at home. Do you remember the password?"
"Yeah," Xander said. "But you're coming with us."
"No, I'm not. I'll distract them to give you enough time to leave," Willow said. She heard the sound of the doors to the library and gave Xander a push. "Go!"
Xander nodded and ran through the door with Buffy close behind. Willow pushed the heavy, metal door shut and quickly moved to the far end of the stacks. She saw men creeping slowly up the aisles, their heat goggles sweeping back and forth.
Gathering her courage, Willow quietly ran down the row and out into the main portion of the library. She saw the man known as Charlie one standing near the doors. She picked up a book and threw it at the cage.
The noise clearly startled the men, because they came running back up the rows. Willow hurried down the stairs and straight for Charlie one. Without stopping, she crashed into him, knocking them both to the floor. She hurriedly got to her feet and ran out of the library.
And crashed right into Angel.
"General!" Willow practically shouted in surprise. Angel wrapped his arms around the hacker in a quick hug. "We need to move," she said, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the stairs.
"Where are the others?" Angel asked.
"Gone through the tunnels," Willow told him as they ran up the steps.
"And they left you here?" Angel's voice had turned cold.
"No, no, no. I'm the distraction," Willow explained. "They're wearing heat vision goggles. I cast a spell on myself so I couldn't be detected. They wonít be able to see you, either." She paused at the top of the stairs and threw another book. It clamored in the empty stairwell.
"Now, where have you been?" Willow demanded, hands on hips. "We've been trying to reach you."
"I lost my radio," Angel said. "I was on the roof, fighting off a rather large group of bad guys."
"Are you ok?"
"I'll live," Angel replied with a wry grin. They heard footsteps running up the stairs. "C'mon, let's go."
"I have a few stakes and other implements of death," Willow informed him. "I figure I'd sneak up behind a few, since they couldn't see me, and stake 'em."
"Good plan," Angel said. "Here they come."
Angel and Willow flattened themselves against the second floor walls and watched as the men ran up the stairs. They split into two groups, five going left and five heading directly towards the two Slayerettes.
As soon as they were within range, Willow ran up behind one and shoved a stake through his back. He exploded into a cloud of dust, lightly covering her. Angel did the same with another vamp, and the other three shouted in surprise.
Angel grabbed one of the vamps by the collar and flung him into the lockers. Willow withdrew a vial of holy water and threw it at one of the men's faces. He screamed as it started to burn.
Willow turned to see the other five run down the hall towards them. "Ut-oh, incoming," she said to herself. She grabbed another stake and shoved it in the burned vampire's back, dusting him. Angel took care of the other two.
"Angel, I need to get back to the library and use the computer. Can you hold them off?" Willow asked.
"Ok," Angel said, wincing. His whole body hurt from the continual abuse. "Be careful."
"I will. Oh, and one of these guys is human," Willow said over her shoulder as she ran for the stairs. She ducked into a doorway as the five others ran past towards their dusty comrades.
Running as fast as her petite legs could carry her, Willow flew into the library and back to her computer. She opened the new message page and started typing, her fingers like lightening over the keyboard. Attaching the files she had copied, she moved her mouse and pressed the send icon. Now, all she had to do was hope the others received it.
"So, little girl, you think you're on to something?" the voice she'd come to know as Charlie one's asked.
Willow spun, searching the stacks for the man. He stepped forward, goggles no longer in place. "What do you want?" She began to back away from the table to the doors.
"What do I want? Simple," he said. "You."
Willow's eyes widened in fright. "M-me?"
"Yes, my petite. You," Charlie one told her. He catapulted himself over the railing and onto the table, landing in a crouch.
Willow shrieked and whirled, running for the library doors. The man laughed and gave chase. He snagged the back of her shirt just as she hit the stairs. Willow screamed and began struggling against her captor. He pulled his radio out of his pocket.
"Subject acquired. Call off the men," Charlie one said.
"Roger that," a female's voice responded.
Charlie one dragged the kicking and fighting Willow towards the front doors. "Hold still, or I'll knock you out," he said, shaking her.
Willow stopped struggling. She quickly changed tactics, pulled a stake out of her pocket and shoved it into the man's hand with all her strength.
With a yell, Charlie one let go of her, grabbing his hand in pain. Willow didn't waste a moment. She took off running back down the halls to the library. Her only thought was to get out through the tunnels.
Charlie one pulled the hunk of wood out of his hand and threw it against the lockers. Snarling, he stormed after her, deadly intent in his eyes.
Willow hit the wall as she turned the corner, and she screamed out in pain as the joint was torn out of the socket. Tears streaming down her face, she continued to run, the brown doors of the library beckoning. With a burst of speed, she shoved the door open with her uninjured shoulder and towards the stairs that led to safety.
She got to the heavy, metal door that led to the tunnels. Willow grabbed the handle with and pulled, but the door wouldn't move. She tried to use her other hand, but it only made her cry out as waves of pain wracked her body. "Oh, please, oh, please," she chanted over and over, yanking on the door. "Help me."
Willow screamed as a hand clamped over her injured shoulder. Charlie one spun her around, then smacked her head against the metal door. Willow saw stars, then the world started to fade to black.
She fought against the darkness, knowing if she gave in, she'd be as good as dead. Going limp, she fell bonelessly to the floor and out of Charlie one's grasp. She saw him bend over to pick her up when she heard a low growl coming from behind the man.
Charlie one froze as the growl continued. Low, deep and full of menace the growl became words. "Leave her alone."
Reaching for his weapon, Charlie one spun and ducked low, firing into the darkness. He heard the bullets hitting flesh and grinned. "I don't think so," he said as he heard a body fall to the floor. Pocketing his gun, he turned back to Willow.
That was his fatal mistake. Arms shot out and grabbed him around the neck, pulling him back against someone. Charlie one felt a stabbing pain in his neck and screamed. The scream faded into silence as he was dropped dead to the floor, the blood drained from his body.
Angel bent and picked the still form of Willow into his arms, his vampiric features twisted in pain. Cradling the red-head to his chest, Angel pulled open the metal door and stepped into the tunnels.
"Angel?" Willow's voice cracked as she regained consciousness.
"Shh. We're almost there," Angel practically growled. Blood flowed freely from his multiple wounds, the most severe being from the three bullet holes in his leg and abdomen.
He pushed open the grate in the low ceiling with one hand. It creaked in protest, but fell back against the wall on its hinges. "Up you go," Angel said, pushing her halfway through the hole.
Willow had to use only one arm to pull herself through. She rolled out of the way and took in her surroundings. They were in the hallway outside of Angel's apartment.
Angel joined her, closing the grate, before picking her up once more.
Inside the apartment, Angel gently laid Willow on the bed. She looked up into his game face and winced. "Are you ok?"
"Don't worry about me," he said. "Are you hurt?"
"I think my shoulder is dislocated," Willow told him, indicating her limp arm.
Angel nodded and put on hand on her forearm, the other on her side. "This is going to hurt," he warned. Willow nodded and bit her lip. Angel took a purposeful breath and pulled.
Willow screamed out in pain, shattering the silence of the apartment. The bone slipped back into place and Angel quickly let go, hurrying over to the refrigerator for an ice pack.
"Here," Angel said, handing it to her. "Put this on your shoulder."
Willow nodded, wiping the tears from her face. Angel winced and sat heavily on the edge of the bed as the pain overtook him. That's when she noticed a large knife wound on the side of his face, running from his temple down below the collar of his shirt. Ignoring her own wounds, she quickly sat up and moved the shirt to see better.
"What..." Angel said, startled.
"You're cut," Willow said. "Take off your shirt. I'll get the First Aid kit."
"No. I don't want you to move," Angel protested.
"Too bad," Willow said, scrambling to her feet. "Strip."
Angel couldn't help but chuckle at her choice of words, which turned into a groan as the bullet in his abdomen shifted. Removing his leather jacket and blood soaked shirt, Angel allowed himself to fall back on the bed in pain.
Willow gasped in shock when she saw his bruised and bloodied chest. She tossed the First Aid kit on the bed and ran into the bathroom, returning with a wet washcloth and towels. She began to clean off the blood. "Is this a bullet hole?"
"Yes," Angel said through clenched teeth. "The bullet is still in me. I think the other ones are, too."
"Other ones? You mean, more bullets?"
"Yes." Angel hissed when Willow wiped over the wound. "You're going to have to dig them out."
"Me?" Willow squeaked. She took a deep, calming breath. "Of course, me." She took the tweezers out of the box, made a few gestures with hand and a flame appeared on her fingertips, heating the metal for sterilization. She smiled at Angel's puzzled look. With a word, the flames disappeared.
"This is gonna hurt," Willow told the vampire, repeating his words from earlier. Angel nodded and grabbed the sheets with his hands. Willow took one more swipe at the bleeding hole with the now bloodied washcloth then stuck the tweezers in.
Angelís cry was a cross between a growl and a scream. He ripped the bed sheets with his hands, trying not to move. Willow worked as fast as she could and with a breath of relief, pulled the bullet from his abdomen.
"Voila!" She said, holding the offending metal up. Willow looked at Angelís face. He was openly weeping in pain. "Now, where are the other ones?"
"In my leg," Angel ground out. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to relax.
"In your leg, check," Willow said, standing. She bent and removed his boots as Angel undid the button and zipper. Blushing furiously, she reached up and pulled his pants off. "Oh my," she gasped when she saw the blood soaked boxers. Pushing the thought of seeing him naked out of her mind, she quickly removed them as well.
Two bullet holes sat close together high on his leg, one in the hip bone and the other on his inner thigh. Picking up the tweezers once more, she tackled the bullet in his hip bone.
"Aah!" Angel screamed as Willow dug the impacted bullet out of the bone, his head thrown back in pain. She finally got that one out, dropping it onto the lid of the First Aid kit, then pushed his leg.
"Bend your leg," Willow instructed, helping him move. *If someone were to walk in right now,* she thought as she bent close to see better. *Oh, boy.* Concentrating on the wound, she maneuvered the tweezers in the hole and extracted the last bullet. "All done," she announced proudly.
But the vampire had passed out from the pain.
Willow stood and returned to the washroom, rinsing out the rag. She came back and began to gently wash the wounds once more. Satisfied that they were as clean as they were going to get, she bandaged him using the tape and gauze from the medicine kit.
"-low, can you heó" she heard over the radio still in her ear.
"Xander, is that you?" Willow said.
"óliaís car. Where a--."
"Iím at Angelís," Willow told them, assuming that was the question.
"Weíll be the--tes."
"Ok. Iím taking off the radio," Willow said. She removed the earpiece and put it in her pocket. Standing, she removed the various blood stained objects from the bed onto the table. Then carefully, so as not to jolt the vampire too much, Willow folded the sheet over Angelís lower half.
She looked down at herself, wincing when she saw Angelís blood covering her. She went over to his dresser and took out a shirt and boxers. Moving to the bathroom, Willow washed up and changed into the clean garments.
There was a quick rap on the door before it opened to reveal Xander and Cordelia. Willow went over to the two and hugged them. "Are you ok?" Xander asked.
"Sore, but Iíll survive," Willow told him, putting the ice pack she was carrying back on her shoulder.
"Whatís wrong with him?" Cordelia asked, motioning to the unconscious vampire.
"Severe trauma to the abdomen and upper leg due to bullets," Willow said. "Hey, I sound pretty professional."
"I can just see it now," Xander joked. "Dr. Willow."
"Whereís Buffy and Giles?"
"After we followed the e-mail you sent us, they went back to the school in that death trap Giles calls a car," Xander said. "We started driving until around until we were able to get you on the radio."
Xander cocked his head as Buffyís voice came over the radio he was still wearing. "Weíre at Angelís, BuffyÖ.Ok, see you in a few." He turned back to Willow. "Theyíre on their way."
"I donít know about you guys," Willow said. "But Iím in desperate need of some caffeine." She went over to the refrigerator and pulled out a can of Mountain Dew. "Anyone else?"
"Hit me," Xander replied. Cordelia passed.
Willow took a long sip of the cold beverage. She turned when she heard a groan from the bed. "Hey," she said, sitting next to Angel, casually holding the sheet so he wouldnít move.
"I take it you were successful," Angel said, his face human once more.
"All three," Willow nodded. "Donít get up," she whispered. "Xander and Cordy are here."
Angel nodded and put one arm over his eyes. "Hi guys," he called out.
"Hey, Deadboy," Xander said, walking closer to the prone figure. "What happened to you?"
"I was on the receiving end of some flying metal," Angel joked. "Not something Iíd care to repeat."
"I hear ya," Xander commented. He sat down on the couch, pulling Cordelia with him. "Buffy and Giles should be here any minute. They went over to check out the school."
They heard a knock at the door.
"Speak of the devils," Xander said, standing. He opened the door. "Hey guys."
"Hey," Buffy said, entering with the Watcher. She went over to where Willow was sitting and gave her a hug. "Theyíre gone. Guess your planned worked, Willow."
"Good," Willow said.
"Whatís up with him," she asked the hacker, pointing to the still prone vampire.
"Iím dead," Angel said, not moving his arm from over his eyes. The occupants in the room laughed at his terrible pun. "Oh, sure. Laugh at the dead guy."
Giles cleared his throat. "I th-think we need to discuss what h-happened tonight," he said. "And any theories w-we might have as to wh-why."
Buffy went and sat on the couch next to Xander and Cordelia and gestured to the chair. "Have a seat, Giles, this may take awhile."
The group began to fill each other in on what happened earlier that night. Angel was silent through the whole litany, conserving his strength.
"Tomorrow, Iíll try to find out more," Willow concluded. "And we can decide on what to do from there."
"Very good," Giles said. He stood. "May I offer anyone a ride home?"
"Iíll ride with you in that poor excuse you call a car," Buffy told him. "Anyone else?"
"Iíll let Queen C here take me home," Xander said.
"Willow?" Buffy asked.
"Sheís staying here," Angel spoke for the first time in an hour.
"Iím what?" Willow asked, facing the vampire.
"Staying here. I donít want you unprotected," Angel told her, moving his arm so he could look in her eyes. "And I donít have the strength to do that at your house."
"Heís got a point, Will," Xander said. "Plus, I donít think these guys knew about Angel. Youíll be safest here."
Willow nodded. "O-ok," she said.
"Somebody call her off of school tomorrow," Angel instructed. "After sunset, Iíll get her home."
The group agreed and said their good-byes, leaving Willow alone with Angel. She swallowed heavily.
Angel groaned, moving for the first time since he passed out. "I feel like Iíve been hit by a truck," he told her, sitting up.
Willow held her breath, her posture ram rod straight. "You were pretty hurt."
"Thatís an understatement," Angel said. He slowly stood, letting the sheet fall away. "Ow, ow, ow."
Willowís eyes widened when she saw his fully nude body. She quickly turned her head, blushing fiercely. Angel stumbled over to the dresser, and Willow had the perfect view of his sculptured backside.
Angel pulled on a pair of boxers before facing the red-head. "I have to feed," he told her. "Why donít you change the sheets. Theyíre in the drawer under the bed."
Willow nodded and went to do as asked. By the time she was done, Angel had joined her. "Hop in," he instructed.
"B-but youíre more injured," she stammered. "I should t-take the couch."
"Neither of us are taking the couch," he said. "Now, get in."
Willow climbed under the sheets, pulling them up to her neck. Angel turned off the lights, then joined the petite woman.
"Ooh. Youíre cold," she said, shivering as his leg brushed hers.
"Sorry," Angel apologized.
"íS-ok," Willow murmured, the nights activities catching up with her. "I donít mind."
Angel chuckled softly. "Goodnight, Red."