Angel surveyed the occupants of the main room with a carefully neutral expression on his face.
He was clean after an exceedingly-quick shower and once again dressed in the clothes he'd been
wearing earlier. Buffy was currently cleaning up herself and Spike was left lounging in the
bedroom with a satisfied smirk on his face that Angel would have to wipe off later.
"Where's Buffy?" Riley asked. Angel noted the tension that radiated from him, could smell the
sandy-haired man's anger and fear, but was impressed by the way Riley didn't let any of his
emotions cross his face.
"Buffy will be out in a second," Angel replied, moving to stand in front of the fireplace. Cordelia
walked over and stood beside him, and he was touched by her obvious taking sides.
"And the hostile?" Riley questioned.
Angel's eyes narrowed slightly. "Spike is no longer any of your concern."
"Are you really taking him back to LA with you?" Willow asked from her seat on the couch. She
and Anya were the only two seated and who seemed to be relaxed. Xander was standing behind
the couch wearing his normal expression of contempt for the vampire.
"Yes, I am," Angel replied.
"I can't let you do that," Riley said. "Hostile 17 is property of the US Government under section
"Hostile 17 no longer exists to you," Angel interrupted, his voice hard. "And shouldn't you be
worried about Buffy rather than a vampire who can't harm humans?"
"I know Buffy can take care of herself," Riley said, his own voice unwavering and unemotional,
as if he were making a report. "I also know that if she doesn't come out here in the next five
minutes, I will rip your heart out of your chest with my bare hands. The only reason I haven't
done so already is because I've been told you're a different type of bloodsucking scum and
Buffy would be hurt if I used your eyeballs to play ping-pong."
"I like him," Cordelia abruptly stated. "Not too many humans have the cajones to stand up to
Angel when he's all growly. Most just wet their shorts and act like Xander."
"Hey!" Xander exclaimed, affronted.
Angel hated, hated, hated to admit it, but Riley's answer was exactly what he would have
answered in a similar situation... although he would have gone with using the eyeballs for golf.
The kid was human, too, so he couldn't kill him on the pretense of evil. And why couldn't
Buffy pick someone who was butt-ugly instead of actually being cute, in a wholesome, clean-cut,
white bread kind of way? If he didn't like his men lean and hard, Riley wouldn't be that awful
of a choice in partners.
Oh god, what was he thinking? Cordelia had to have slipped him some Viagra in his blood.
Angel swallowed the bitter pill of honesty and took a step towards Riley with his hand extended.
"You'll do," he practically choked out.
Riley looked at Angel's hand warily for a moment, then accepted the handshake. "I know I will."
And the little bugger's a cocky one, too, Angel thought, then mentally grimaced. Great, not even
two full days spent in Spike's company and he was already thinking in cockney slang. The
younger vampire was going to have to be smacked around a bit for that.
"Hi, uh, guys," Buffy said as she entered the room. She looked between Riley, Angel and their
clasped hands, a questioning look on her face.
"Buffy, are you okay?" Riley asked, immediately pulling his hand from Angel's and moving
quickly to her side.
Buffy smiled up at him. "I'm fine, Riley."
Angel felt a hand encircle his wrist and he looked over to see Cordelia at his side. "Just checking
for stakes," she whispered to him. "I can't afford to have my paycheck go poof because your ex
found herself a hottie."
Angel's lips turned up in a genuine smile and he pulled her hand from his wrist only to entwine
his fingers with hers instead. "We don't want that," his eyes crinkled with humor, "because then
Wesley would be in charge."
Cordelia visibly shuddered, but did not pull her hand from his. "Thanks a lot. Now I'm going to
have nightmares for weeks."
The dark-haired vampire chuckled softly and squeezed her fingers, then looked back over at
Buffy. An ache filled his heart at how she looked as she spoke with Riley -- happy.
Buffy turned her eyes to him and Angel could see that she wanted to leave, but wouldn't unless
things were going to be okay with him. Angel nodded slightly, ignoring the tightness in his throat
and the burning behind his eyes.
"Well, gang, we'd better go," Buffy said, addressing her friends. "I know Angel wants to leave
for LA before the sun comes up and he still has to hogtie Spike for the trip."
Angel held fast to Cordelia's hand as their former friends said goodbye and made their way out
of the mansion. He closed his eyes as the door closed behind them, the sound the door made a
punctuation to the finality of his time in Sunnydale.
He felt her before he heard her footsteps. He reopened his eyes, turned to the broken garden
windows and released Cordelia's hand as Buffy came rushing back into the mansion.
Angel caught Buffy up in a tight hug, purposely inhaling her unique scent underlined with the
faint smell of sex. He could feel her heart pounding against his chest and feel the wetness of her
tears against his cheek... or were those his own?
"Goodbye, Angel," Buffy whispered in a choked voice.
Angel released her enough to look down at her beautiful, tear-streaked face. "Be careful with this
Initiative, okay?" he said, brushing his thumb over her cheek. "There's too much still unknown
about them to label them as good guys."
"I will," Buffy said. "You be careful, too. And don't forget Spike can still hurt demons."
"I won't," Angel said. He leaned forward and pressed a brief kiss on her forehead. "Goodbye,
Buffy gave him a trembling smile after he released her, then turned and headed back towards the
garden doors. She paused just past the threshold and looked back at him. "I'll never forget," she
Then, she was gone.
Angel didn't move until he smelled the blood caused by his fingernails digging into his palms.
There was no way Buffy could have known her words meant more to him than an 'I love you.'
He took a deep, shaky, purposeful breath and let it out slowly, wondering if he was really as
stupid as he felt for letting her go.
"Angel." Cordelia walked over to the dark-haired vampire and took his hand again, despite the
blood. She met his eyes, and Angel could see the concern and familial love shining in her dark
gaze. "Let's go home."
"Yeah," Angel agreed. "Let's go home."
"It does not!" Spike jabbed his finger at the line in the book on the desk. "This word right here
means we have to decapitate the bugger, not caffeinate 'im!"
Angel looked up from the sword his was sharpening with a frown. "We kill the Tolosh with
"I suppose if it were a cup of Cordelia's coffee," Wesley said, not looking up from the language
text in his hands.
Angel burst out laughing at the deadpanned comment and Spike chuckled as well. It was a good
thing Cordelia had an audition, or Wesley would have joined the ranks of the dead in the room.
"Here, Spike, look." Wesley stood close to the blond vampire as he pointed to the book on the
desk. "The word has a subjective attached to it. It is specifically telling us not to decapitate the
"Hey, which one of us speaks Toli and which one doesn't?" Spike slapped his hand down on the
book beside Wesley's pointing finger. "We cut off his head, he dies, and then I can go back to
watching The Young Ones."
"If you cut off his head, he's going to be rather upset with you," Wesley said.
"I'd be upset, too, if someone cut my head off," Angel commented as he stood and twirled the
sword in his hand. He slid it into the sheath and looked expectantly at the other two. "So, are we
going to kill this demon or not?"
"Your impatience is showing, mate," Spike said. "What happened to my Sire who planned
everything to death?"
"You happened,"Angel replied simply. The broad, cocky grin he received from the blond
vampire made him roll his eyes. "Can we just go kill something?"
"Why haven't you three left to go kill that demon yet?" Cordelia asked with irritation as she
sailed into the office, leaving the door open behind her. "My mind-numbing visions are not just
for entertainment, people."
"We're working on it," Angel said. "How was the audition?"
"Don't even get me started," Cordelia said, dropping down onto the couch. She flipped through
the mail as she went on. "There were only, like, five hundred other people and the casting
director only showed interest in the sluts with their boobs popping out of their tops..."
"Sounds like my kind of bloke," Spike commented.
"I thought Angel was your kind of guy."
Angel's eyes shot to the open doorway and he felt his heart swell to bursting proportions.
Buffy, wearing the same yellow dress she'd worn that day all those years ago, smiled lovingly at
him. "Hello, Angel. Hi, guys."
"Hello, Buffy," Wesley greeted cordially. "How are you?"
"I'll be better after I get a hug," Buffy replied with a wink to Angel.
"How about after a fu-"
"Shut up, Spike," Angel growled as he moved towards Buffy. Without pause, he scooped Buffy
up over his shoulder and walked out of the offices into the lobby of the building.
Buffy was laughing as he set her on her feet again. "Still using the cavevamp routine, I see."
"Best way to pick up women," Angel said, deadpan. Buffy giggled again and he smiled. "What
are you doing here?"
"Riley has an interview at Newby Lewis," Buffy replied. "I thought I'd come by and say hello
while we were here."
'Well, I'm glad you did," Angel said honestly, even though the green-eyed monster was rearing
its ugly head inside of him. He'd long ago learned to live with the jealousy and the ache that
came because Buffy wasn't only his, and he would stake himself before he'd begrudge her the
happiness that she'd found with Riley.
Being cursed with a conscious really sucked. Being cursed sucked, period.
"So, big demon on the warpath?" Buffy asked, gesturing towards the office.
"Tolosh demon," Angel answered, glancing through the windows into the office. Spike was
pacing and gesturing wildly while Wesley continually shook his head. "We haven't quite figured
out how to kill it yet."
"Do you need some help?"
"No, that's okay, we can handle it. Spike's been spoiling for a good fight," Angel said. He
didn't mention that the reminder that Buffy belonged to someone else would make himself into a
veritable killing machine.
"Buffy." Riley entered the building and Angel found himself straightening to his full height. The
sandy-haired man nodded politely to the vampire, but his attention was on Buffy. "If we're
going to meet your father for dinner, we have to get going."
"Okay," Buffy said. She reached out and took Angel's hand, squeezing it warmly. "We're
staying at the Hilton on Broadway if you need any help."
Angel nodded. "Enjoy your dinner."
"We will," Buffy said. She gave him a final smile, released his hand and walked back out of his
life once again.
Angel stood in the lobby for several long moments before he sighed and returned to the office.
Cordelia gave him a concerned look and he shook his head, indicating he was all right -- which he
would be, once he kicked some demon ass, as his unruly Childe was fond of saying.
"You know, I would like to kill this demon sometime before the sun comes up," Angel said,
picking up his sword from where he laid it when Buffy arrived.
"Don't blame me, blame the ponce," Spike said, gesturing to Wesley. "He's got a stick shoved
so far up his arse, it pierced the part of his brain that knows I'm right."
"Did you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Angel asked the blond vampire.
"Nope," Spike shot him a lascivious grin, "only you, mate."
"Ah. Aha." Wesley drew the two immortals' attention. "You have to decapitate the demon
"He's got two heads?" Spike asked. He quickly flipped through the demon text on the desk until
he found an etching. "It looks like he's only got one to me, pet."
Wesley cleared his throat as a blush stole over his cheeks. "The, er, second one is in his-his
"Well, we'll leave that bit of choppin' to Angel," Spike said, picking up a sword and putting it on
his shoulder. "He can pretend it's solderboy's prick."
"You know, Spike," Angel said, as he lead the way out the door. "I think I really, really like that