The underworld. The demon dimension. The land of Hades. It was called many things. But no fancy name could lessen the harsh reality of the place. It was Hell.
Hell was a place for demons, for the ultimate sinners, for the Judas' of the mortal world. It was no place for anyone with a soul.
The devil sang with glee when he found the cursed vampire in his domain. Gathering his best minions, he brought unfathomable torture upon the once mighty Angelus. For hundreds of years, mental, emotional and physical anguish bombarded the one with a soul until he broke. Shut down. All memories of his past life on earth gone.
And because of this, the devil wanted him no more.
Angel opened his eyes. He was prone upon the cold floor of the old mansion. Blinking several times, he moved his head slowly, taking in his surroundings. Pain shot though his body. With a stifled cry, Angel froze, praying that it would stop.
Gritting his teeth, he pushed himself onto his knees. He shivered as the wind howled through the broken windows. Off to the left next to the fireplace he saw a room. Crawling slowly, he found a large bedchamber. He pulled himself onto the bed and under the covers, letting the pain send him into blissful unconsciousness.
Angel woke to find his surroundings the same. Hunger infused his body as he lay still, waiting for his mind to begin functioning. When it did, he had two distinct thoughts: *Where am I?*
*Who am I?*
Angel dressed in dark pants and a black, v-neck sweater he found in the closet. He shivered slightly and rubbed his arms to chase the chill away. For some reason, he felt perpetually cold. It was if he had lived his whole life at the equator and suddenly had to move to the Yukon.
His body still protesting in pain, Angel slowly made his way out of the mansion and into the night. As he walked, he examined his surroundings. Nothing looked familiar. He felt like a newborn babe entering the world for the first time. He knew nothing of himself, other than the fact that his body hurt, he was cold and he was hungry.
Angel saw the first signs of life as he entered the business district of the town he was in. Teens of all shapes and sizes were headed towards a large, warehouse type club. Angel read the words above the door, happy to find that he could. He followed a group into the Bronze and froze, a strange sense of deja vu coming over him.
Music and voices assaulted his ears as he looked around the dim interior of the club. He saw kids dancing, playing pool or sitting around chatting amicably to each other.
"Mind moving?" a voice said from behind him. "You're blockin' the door."
"S-sorry," Angel said. His own voice startled him as he stumbled over the word. It was deep, rough, as if unused for a long time. He moved, staying in the shadows of the walls, observing the people around him. His gaze alighted on a group sitting in a corner. For some reason unexplainable to him, Angel felt drawn to the teens.
Letting his feet guide him, Angel walked slowly towards them, his steps still sending jolts of pain up his legs. They were talking animatedly to one another as Angel drew near. Stepping out of the shadows, he spoke his second word in what he somehow knew was a very long time. "Ex…hel…h-hello."
Angel watched as the conversation stopped suddenly. Heads turned and it was all he could do not to stumble backwards at the expressions littering the teens' faces. Fear, hate and, strangely, curiosity reflected back at him.
"Angel?" the blond asked with a trembling voice, her large hazel eyes filling with tears. The others just stared at him.
"D-do you know m-me?" Angel stuttered, speaking carefully. He was unsure of his words, his mind slow to comprehend and respond.
The dark-headed boy stood swiftly, hate radiating from his body. Fists clenched at his sides, he swore. "Angelus. I had hoped you'd stay in Hell where you belonged."
"Xander," the blond stopped the boy. "Go call Giles."
"Now," she said with force. The boy named Xander glared at him and stalked past, presumably to use the telephone. She put out her hand as if to touch him, then pulled it back sharply.
Angel didn't know what to make of the teens. He was about to say something when a shiver ran down his spine, sending bolts of pain lancing through him. He inhaled sharply through his teeth at the sensation.
"Angel, what's wrong?" The blond asked quickly.
"N-need to si-sit," Angel responded, moving to the chair Xander had vacated. The brunette seated in the next chair over tensed as he sat. Closing his eyes to the pain, he listened to the strained silence around him.
"What's Deadboy doing in my seat?" Xander asked, returning to the table.
Angel opened his eyes and looked at him. "Who?"
"Buffy, I think he has amnesia," the redhead told the blond.
Buffy looked at her friend, then back at Angel. "Do you know who I am?" she asked. "Who any of us are?"
Angel took in each of their features carefully, searching his brain. He shook his head. "No," he answered. "Sh-should I?"
"This is just an act, Buffy," Xander said. "Stake him before he kills someone."
"Xander, shut up," Buffy said sharply, glaring at him. Her gaze softened when it returned to Angel. "What's your name?"
"M-my name?" Angel stammered. "Did…did you n-not just call me Angel?"
"Yes, I did," Buffy replied.
"Is that…that my name?" Angel prayed that the blond would say yes because if she did, she must know him. She could tell him who he was.
"Yes," she said. "Your name is Angel."
Angel let out the breath he had been holding in relief. "You know m-me then," he said. "Good…good. I w-was afraid n-no one would."
"This is getting too wiggy for me," the brunette next to him said. "I'm bailing."
"Cordelia, wait," Buffy said, holding her hand up. "I think we all need to see Giles."
"I'm not letting him in my car," Cordelia said.
"We can take my van," the other boy at the table said.
"Thanks, Oz," Buffy said. "Angel, we're going to take a ride, ok?"
"Um…o-ok," Angel said. He stood with the others, body protesting. Buffy went to touch his arm again and hesitated. Angel looked down at her trembling hand, then back at her face. She stuck her hand in her pocket.
"C'mon," she said, leading at a quick pace. Oz and the redhead had left already, as did Cordelia and Xander. Angel tried to hurry, but found he could not.
"W-wait," he called to her. Buffy stopped and watched as he moved slowly, avoiding the other teens in the club. When he reached her, she adjusted her pace to his and they left the Bronze.
Angel looked nervously at the man in front of him. He was much older than the teens in the room, but he held their respect.
"Are you certain, Buffy?" the tweed-clad man asked.
"Pretty much," Buffy responded. "I mean, he didn't even know his own name."
"Angel, do you know who I am?" the man asked. Angel shook his head slowly. "My name is Giles…Rupert Giles. R-ring any bells?"
"I-I-I am s-sorry," Angel stuttered. "I-I am sorry I don't re-remem-member."
"I can't believe you're falling for this shit," Xander swore. "Remember Angelus likes to play mind games with his victims?"
"Xander," Giles warned. "It would seem that his amnesia is genuine. We can take him to a doctor and find out for-for certain."
"Sounds like a plan," Buffy said. "Angel? We're going to take you to the doctor, ok?"
Angel nodded. "O-ok. First, th-though, let…let me s-see if I-I-I have all you-your names," he said. "You a-are Buffy."
Buffy smiled, her face full of love. "That'd be me."
"And y-you are Giles. A-and Xander. And Cor-corde-delia. A-a-and Oz," he said. He looked at the redhead seated on Oz's lap.
"I'm Willow," she answered shyly.
"Hel-hello, Willow," Angel responded, smiling gently.
"Great. Now that the introductions are done, can I go?" Cordelia said. "I think I've had enough stimulation for one day."
"Go ahead, Cordy," Xander told her. "I'm gonna stick around and keep an eye on Angelus."
Cordelia left and the five others looked at Angel. "Well, then, shall we?" Buffy asked.
"He does, indeed, have amnesia," the doctor informed the group sitting in the waiting room at the hospital. "Along with numerous scars and other healing injuries. How long ago did you say you found him?"
"Just a few hours," Buffy answered.
"And when did you last see him before that?"
"June," Buffy said, her voice breaking slightly. Willow put her arm around the Slayer's shoulder in comfort. "Last June."
"It is possible that he had been abducted and physically abused," the doctor said. "That could be why he doesn't remember."
"Is there anything we can do?" Willow asked.
"Surround him with familiar things and people," the doctor advised. "He may gain his memory back, but he may not. I am recommending that he come in for psychological testing as soon as possible, and he'll need to return so we can redress his wounds."
"Thank you, doctor," Giles said. The doctor nodded and left.
"Now what?" Buffy asked, looking down the hall toward the room Angel was in.
"We will have, have to get him a place to-to stay for the day," Giles said. "A-a-and some blood."
"Do you think he remembers he's a vampire?" Oz asked the Watcher.
"I…I don't know," Giles responded.
Angel walked out of the examining room and down the hall to the waiting group. "Hi," he said to them.
"Hey, yourself," Buffy answered, standing. "How are you feeling?"
"Not…not t-to good," Angel answered truthfully.
"Well, let's get you home, then," Buffy said.
"Yeah, home. It'll be a little dusty, but it should be familiar." Buffy turned to Giles. "Giles, why don't you drive us in that thing you try to pass off as a car. Oz, would you and Willow scrounge up some...uh…nourishment for Angel here?"
"Will do," Oz said, taking Willow's hand.
"Thanks," Buffy said. "Xander, you can go home."
"Uh-uh," Xander answered. "No way. I'm not leaving you alone with fang face for one minute."
"Fine," Buffy sighed. "But any more rude comments out of your mouth and you'll find yourself on the pointy end of my stake."
Buffy opened the door to Angel's apartment with the key he'd given her long ago. "Home sweet home," she said as they went inside.
Angel looked around the studio curiously. He saw a bed in one corner, unmade. Art and sculptures adorned the room, along with a small kitchen, a silk screen, and a few other furnishings. Not a thing was familiar. Another shiver ran through his body as the coldness of the room hit him.
"C-can we…we turn on th-the heat?" Angel asked his companions. All three gave him a strange look.
"Heat?" Giles asked. "But it's…you're…"
"Sure, Angel," Buffy said, moving to the thermostat. She remembered the last time she was here and he'd told her he didn't feel the cold as she sat shivering on his bed.
"Th-thanks," Angel said. His whole body then slumped as the nights activities caught up with him. "I think I n-need to lie d-d-down."
"Here, let me help you," Buffy said, touching him for the first time. A jolt of awareness went through her as she led him to the bed. "Lay down. As soon as Oz and Willow get here with some…food, we'll be out of your hair."
"I don't m-mind that you are h-h-here," Angel told her softly.
Buffy was saved from answering by her friends arrival with the blood. "Good, you guys are here!"
"Liquid diet, at your service," Willow said, holding up the paper bag.
Buffy went over and took it from her. "Thanks. I'll see you tomorrow?"
Willow took the hint. "C'mon, Oz. You too, Xander. We'll give you a ride home."
"I'll stay, thank you," Xander said.
"No, Xander. Go ahead. I'm gonna do a sweep after I leave," Buffy said.
"Fine," Xander replied. "But if he hurts you, I'll rip his head off."
The trio went out the door, leaving Giles, Buffy and Angel alone. "Giles? Why don't you go home, too."
Giles gave her a measured look, then sighed. "Ok, Buffy. Be careful."
"I will," she answered, following her Watcher to the door. "And Giles? Thanks." With a nod, Giles left. Buffy closed her eyes, letting the emotions she'd been holding in check flow over her. Wearily, she turned to see Angel watching her from the bed. "Are you hungry?" she asked.
"Y-yes," Angel replied.
Buffy nodded and went over to the paper bag. She took out a container full of pig's blood. "Here," she handed it to him.
"What is it?"
"Bl…juice," Buffy answered. "It's good for you."
Angel accepted the container and lifted the lid, sniffing it. The hunger inside him intensified. He slowly drank the contents until there was nothing left. It tasted strange to him, but not bad. "Thanks," he told Buffy, handing her the empty Styrofoam.
"Do you want me to help you change?" Buffy said as Angel tiredly struggled to remove his shirt.
"Please?" Angel responded as his body fought against him.
Buffy stepped in front of him and removed his boots and socks. She gasped slightly at the scars on the bottom of his feet. It looked as though he had been walking on glass. Slowly, she pulled the v-neck sweater over his head. She was afraid she'd see more damage on his chest, but it was as sculptured and perfect as she remembered.
She unbuttoned his pants, then helped him stand in order to remove them. Nervously, she pulled them down and off, averting her eyes. Angel sat back on the bed as she took the pants over his feet, letting them join the pile of clothing on the floor. Buffy then sat down next to him.
That's when she saw his back.
With a muffled cry, she took in the network of scars and still healing injuries. The tattoo was no longer visible, hidden by puckered white lines that crisscrossed over Angel's back. One scar stood out in particular. It was more pronounced than any of the others, and ran from his hairline straight down his spine and under his boxers.
"Oh, Angel," she said, gently touching the scar line. "I'm so sorry."
"S-sorry?" Angel replied. "Why?"
Buffy debated whether to tell him or not, but ultimately decided against it. She didn't want to cause him any more pain than she already had. "I'm sorry that you got hurt," was what she answered.
Angel nodded and sagged wearily. "C'mon, let's put you to bed," Buffy said, standing so he could lay down. She pulled the sheet over him, then brushed her hand over his forehead. "Sleep."
"Will…will you st-stay?" Angel asked, hope in his voice. He had found someone who knew him and didn't want to let her go.
Buffy chewed on her bottom lip nervously, looking into his familiar brown eyes. "Ok. I'll stay."
Angel smiled and drifted off to sleep.
Buffy groaned and opened her eyes. Blinking, she noticed she wasn't in her bed. Or even in her house. Fully awake, she looked at Angel, sleeping peacefully on the bed. She quietly stood and went over to him.
She couldn't believe he was back. The tears started to fall unheeded as she stared down into his handsome face. Sniffing, she glanced at her watch. "Damn, I have barely enough time to get home, shower and get to school," Buffy said to herself. "Oh, man. I bet mom's having a fit."
After leaving a quick note for Angel, Buffy hurried out the door towards home. Her mom was waiting for her when she arrived. "Buffy, are you ok?"
"Yeah," Buffy said, hugging her mother. "I'm sorry I didn't come back last night."
"It's ok. Rupert called me and told me about Angel," Joyce said. She looked at her daughter's haggard features. "Are you sure you're ok?"
Buffy sighed. "No. But I will be. Seeing him again…it hurts. Knowing that it was my fault he has all those scars."
"Oh, mom. They're awful," Buffy said. "All over the bottom of his feet and back. The pain he must have gone through…" She started to cry. Joyce took her daughter into her arms once again, trying to give some comfort to the pain and guilt Buffy was feeling.
"Hey, guys," Buffy said with little enthusiasm as she entered the library. Willow and Giles were the only ones there.
"Buffy!" Willow stood and hugged her friend. "How are you? How's Angel?"
"I'm ok, he's ok," Buffy responded. "Well, not really, but I'm coping."
"Did he remember anything?" Willow asked.
"No. He didn't even realize he was drinking blood," Buffy told her. She turned to her Watcher. "Giles, can you make an appointment for that psychology testing?"
"Certainly," Giles said. "I gather nothing happened last night?"
"Nothing, Giles. I helped him undress and tucked him in, then fell asleep on the couch," Buffy explained. Her eyes welled up with tears. "I saw the scars the doctor told us about."
"Were they…extensive?" Giles asked.
"Understatement," Buffy said. "They were awful. None of us could even begin to imagine the pain he must have gone through."
"Hey, Will, Buffy, Giles," Xander said, entering the library. "How's the psycho?"
"Don't call him that, Xander," Buffy said fiercely.
"Why not? It's true," Xander replied.
Buffy took a swing, landing a left hook on the boy's jaw. His head snapped back with the impact. Holding his jaw, he stared at the Slayer with surprise and hurt. "Um…ow."
"Serves you right," Willow said, slapping him on the arm. "Just because you don't like Angel, it doesn't give you the right to say things like that. I think you'd better leave."
"Fine. Defend the murderer," Xander said, spinning on his heel. "Just don't come crawling to me when he drains you both dry."
Buffy turned to Giles. "Giles, I know that you don't like Angel either, but please take it out on me and not him," she said. "It was my fault that Angelus came back."
"Buffy, I am not going to lecture you on my feelings towards Angel," Giles said. "Nor am I going to forbid you to see him. However, I will warn you that the demon was released once, and it could happen again."
Buffy nodded solemnly. "I know. But do you think you can find out for sure? If he gets his memory back, I'd like to be able to give him somewhat of a reassurance that Angelus can't come back."
"Very well," Giles sighed. "You better get to class."
"Yeah, before the troll shows up and gives me detention again," Buffy said. "Coming Will?"
"No, you go ahead. I want to talk to Giles a minute," Willow told her.
"Ok. See you at lunch," Buffy said. She left the library.
"You wanted to speak with me?" Giles asked the hacker.
"Yeah. Do you want me to start researching the curse using the disk we found in Miss Calendar's classroom?" she asked.
"That would be very helpful, Willow," Giles said. "Thank you."
Willow smiled, pleased she could do something to help her friend.
"Hello, Angel," the psychiatrist greeted him at 7:00 the following evening. "I'm Dr. Jacobs."
"H-hi," Angel returned the greeting, shaking the doctor's hand. "Th-this is Buffy."
"Hey," Buffy said.
"Are you a relative?" Dr. Jacobs asked.
"No. An old friend," Buffy clarified.
"Ok. Angel, if you'd come with me. Buffy, if you'd please wait here," Dr. Jacobs said.
"Can…can't Buffy come w-with m-m-me?" Angel stammered.
"Would you be more comfortable if she did?"
"Yes," Angel said, smiling at Buffy. "I would."
"Very well," Dr. Jacobs said. He escorted the two into his large office. He motioned for Buffy to sit on the couch near the door and Angel into a chair by the desk. "Alright, Angel. I've been instructed to give you a series of tests by the doctor who examined you. The tests are relatively simple. All you have to do is give my your honest answers."
"O-ok," Angel responded. He looked back at Buffy, who nodded her head in encouragement.
"Super, then let's get started," Dr. Jacobs said. "First, what is the furthest back you can remember?"
"A c-couple of days a-ago," Angel told him. "I re-remem-remember waking up on-on-on the floor in a big m-mansion."
"Anything previous to that?" the doctor asked.
"No," Angel answered.
"How do you know your name?"
"Buffy t-told me," Angel said. He looked over at her again and smiled.
"Do you know how old you are?" Buffy stifled a laugh, earning a glare from the doctor.
"Sorry," she said.
Angel concentrated, trying to answer the man's question. "No."
"How about family? Or friends? Do you remember any of them?"
"I…I don't have any f-f-friends," Angel said. "Th-that's what Buffy asked m-me."
"At the cemetery. I went to warn her," Angel said, letting the words flow out of his mouth without thought.
Buffy gasped. "Buffy? Would you like to say something?" The doctor asked.
"That happened over two years ago," Buffy told him, staring at Angel.
"Hmm," Dr. Jacobs said. "Angel, did Buffy ask or tell you anything else that day?"
Angel frowned in thought. "I don't know."
"Let's switch gears here," Dr. Jacobs said. He pulled his chair around the desk, holding a pile of drawings in his lap. "I'm going to hold up a picture. I want you to tell me what it's about."
"O-ok." Dr. Jacobs held up the first drawing. It depicted a family of four having a picnic, the sun shining brightly in the sky. "Um…eat-eating?"
With a nod, the doctor held up the second. It showed a woman sitting on her bed, crying. "She's sad because she thinks she's alone," Angel said without stuttering. "But she's not."
"Why is she not alone?" the doctor asked.
"Because someone is outside the window, watching her," Angel stated, pointing to the window in the drawing.
Buffy gasped again and the doctor shot her a puzzled look. She made a gesture, telling the psychiatrist it was a memory. Dr. Jacobs looked at the picture, then added it to the discard pile. He held up another. It was a father and son fishing.
"I….I d-don't know," Angel confessed after a moment.
"That's ok," Dr. Jacobs said. He held up another. This one showed a room filled with flames, a young man standing terrified in the middle.
Angel's whole body tensed. He pushed with his feet away from the picture, the chair moving back with a loud scrape. "C-c-c-close y-y-y-you-your eyes," he said, his own features reflecting the terror of the boy's in the picture.
Buffy let out a strangled cry at his words. Tears started to fall as she went back to that terrible morning so long ago.
Buffy raised her sword, preparing to deliver the final blow ending Angelus' life. Suddenly, he cried out, his eyes glowing an unnatural yellow.
"Buffy?" Angel said, looking up at her. "What's going on?"
She stared down at him, confused.
Angel slowly got to his feet. "Where are we? I-I don't remember."
Buffy realized that Willow tried the curse again. She slowly lowered her sword, looking into her love's eyes. "Angel?"
"You're hurt," Angel said, taking her arm. He looked into her eyes, then stepped to her, embracing Buffy tightly. "Oh, Buffy…god, I…I feel like I haven't seen you in months." He bent his head and kissed her on the shoulder. "Oh, Buffy…"
Buffy started to cry, holding him to her. *Oh, Angel,* she thought. She heard a slight rumbling sound and opened her eyes, looking over his shoulder. Acathala's mouth was open. She could see a red glow start to grow in front of the statue. Eyes wide, Buffy let go of Angel and looked into his face.
"What's happening?" Angel said, concerned.
"Shh. Don't worry about it." Buffy brushed her fingers over his lips and across his cheek. She leaned over and kissed him softly. After too short of a time, Buffy broke the kiss and looked deep into his eyes. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you," Angel whispered in return.
Buffy touched his lips when he went to say something more. "Close your eyes."
Angel paused and at Buffy's nod, closed his eyes. She kissed him gently, stepped back and thrust her sword into his chest.
"It's ok, Angel," Dr. Jacobs said, putting the pile of pictures down. "We'll stop now."
Angel nodded, his hands gripping the arms of the chair. He took a few, deep breaths to calm himself. "I…I'm ok."
The psychiatrist looked over to Buffy, silently crying on the couch. She quickly wiped her eyes with her sleeve, pushing her emotions deep into her. She had no doubt the doctor would ask her about this later.
"Why don't we do something else," the doctor said. He picked up a notebook and a pen from his desk. "A word association game. I'll say a word, and you say the first thing that comes to your mind."
"Al-alright," Angel responded, relaxing his body.
"On," Dr. Jacob's said.
"Off," Angel answered.
When the last word came out of his mouth, Angel blinked in shock. He had been responding without thinking to the words the doctor presented. He turned his head to see Buffy staring at him, surprise clearly written on her features.
"Angel, I think that's enough for today," Dr. Jacobs said, breaking the former lovers' gazes. "If you don't mind, I'd like to speak to Buffy a moment."
Angel nodded. "Th-thank you," Angel said, standing. He looked at Buffy. "I…I'll be out th-there."
"Ok," Buffy said. She watched as he left the office, closing the door behind him. When she looked back at the doctor, she sighed. "What's up, doc?"
"It's obvious from Angel's reaction to the picture of the fire that something happened in the past," Dr. Jacobs said. "And it is also obvious that you know what occurred. Tell me about it."
Buffy closed her eyes briefly, trying to come up with a story. It's not like she could tell him the truth. Tell him that Angel was sent to Hell on the tip of her sword. She opened her mouth, snapped it closed, then opened it again. "That's what I said to him the last time I saw him in June," Buffy said. "We had a big fight, and I told him to close his eyes, then left."
"And you didn't see him after that?"
"No. I left town for the summer," Buffy said, sticking as close to the truth as she could. "I thought he had left, too. That is, until he showed up at the Bronze the other night."
"You do realize that he still loves you," Dr. Jacobs said. Buffy nodded. "How do you feel about him?"
"I love him. I always have loved Angel," Buffy said honestly.
"Thank you, Buffy," the doctor said, standing. "Please be sure to make an appointment for Angel for next week."
"Will do," Buffy replied. She moved to leave the office.
"One more thing, Buffy. Be careful. Angel's amnesia has been caused by a severe trauma. You never know when those memories will return."
"I-is it ok?" Angel asked Buffy as they walked in companionable silence down the streets of Sunnydale. "Th-that I love you?"
Buffy smiled slightly, the corners of her mouth turning up perceptively. "Yeah. It's ok."
They continued for another few blocks before Buffy brought up the psychological tests. "Angel, did you learn anything talking to Dr. Jacobs? Or remember anything?"
"The…the word g-game was fun," Angel answered her. He smiled brightly. "A-a-and that I l-love you."
"Um…n-no," Angel said. "Sh-should I?"
"No," Buffy said, laying a hand on his arm. He looked down at her hand, face still plastered with a large smile. "Why are you smiling so big?"
"I'm happy," Angel confessed. "Happy…happy that I-I-I feel safe w-with you. It doesn't m-matter that I-I can't re-remember my life. Al-although you c-could tell me about it."
Buffy's smile turned sad as she went over his words in her mind. *How can he feel safe with me when I'm the one who caused him all his pain?* she asked herself.
The two arrived at Angel's apartment and went inside. Buffy immediately noted that it was like a sauna. "Hot much?"
Angel, dressed in another sweater, faced her. "N-no. I-I am still c-cold."
"You are nuts," Buffy said, then immediately clamped a horrified hand over her mouth. "Sorry."
Angel smiled, then looked around the room. If Buffy left, he'd be all alone with no memories. He tried to think of something to keep her there. "Would you tell me a-about, well, m-me?" He asked her, making a small joke.
"Uh…I don't think that's a good idea. Wouldn't you rather wait until your own memories come back?"
Buffy could never resist his puppy dog eyes. She sighed. "Ok. Have a sit down and I'll fill you in on The Wonderful World of Angel."
"Giles, look at this," Willow said from her seat at the library table. In front of her lay two printouts written in Romany. Giles looked over Willow's shoulder. "See, here," she told him, underlining some words on one of the sheets, then the other. "They're different. The curses are not the same. Whatever I cast was not the original vengeance spell."
"Good work, Willow," Giles told the red head. "Now we can concentrate on deciphering the meaning behind the one you cast."
"Buffy will be so happy," Willow said.
"Angel, I am not happy," Buffy told her companion.
"Wh-what did I do?" Angel asked her, sitting back on the bed. Buffy was seated on the couch, telling him stories about their times together in the past.
"You keep looking at me like you want to gobble me up," Buffy said. "Stop it."
"Huh?" Angel said.
"Are you hungry?"
"N-no," Angel replied.
"Then what's with the staring game?" Buffy asked.
"I…I like l-looking at you," Angel told her. "You-you're beautiful."
Buffy blushed a very interesting shade of red. "Oh…sorry. My bad." She stood and stretched. "I gotta bail," she told him. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"O-ok," Angel said, standing as well. He walked her to the door. "'N-night."
"Goodnight," Buffy replied. She stood on her toes and kissed his cheek, then left.
Angel closed the door, then put one hand to the cheek that was just kissed. He smiled at closed the door.
Angel woke the next day, his body not aching for once. Standing, he went over to the kitchen table. A container was sitting out with a note taped to it.
"Drink me," Angel read aloud. He laughed. "I wonder if I'll shrink." After swallowing it's contents, he took a shower, dressed and decided to head over to the library.
Buffy had told him the night before that he was a part of a mythology club at the high school. She said that someone would come up with strange 'symptoms' and the group would research and try to find out what the particular mythological creature caused the occurrence and how to dispatch it. For some reason, this did not seem odd in Angel's mind.
Angel locked the door behind him and headed down the short hall to the access door to his lower level apartment. He opened it and was surprised to see Buffy standing on the opposite side, bathed in sunlight.
"Angel! What are you doing!" Buffy yelled, pushing him back and shutting the metal door.
"I was g-going to the lib-library," Angel explained as Buffy herded him back to the apartment.
"During the day? You would have gotten yourself fried…oh!" Buffy stopped what she was saying and turned to the vampire. "You don't know! Of course he doesn't know, idiot, you didn't tell him," Buffy the second part to herself.
"D-don't know wh-what?" Angel asked.
"I'm sorry. I forgot to tell you. You're…um… allergic to the sun," Buffy said. "You can only go out at night."
"Then what d-do I do all d-day?"
"Usually sleep," Buffy responded. "There is a sewer system that runs all over town, but without your memories, you probably shouldn't go down there."
"Ok," Angel said, removing his leather jacket. "Would you…like to keep me com-company?"
"I can for a little while," Buffy said, dropping her bag. "I have a big test tomorrow on top of patrolling."
"Work. I meant work," Buffy corrected quickly. "I work."
"Where d-do you work at?"
"Where do I work at? Um…at…at the mall! I work at the mall."
"Oh. Ok," Angel said. He watched as Buffy nervously chewed on her lip. "Tell…tell me more about us?"
Buffy smiled, glad for the reprieve. "Sure! Have a sit down. I left off last night at the skating rink, didn't I?"
"Hello, Willow," Angel said in greeting to the young hacker sitting behind the computer. Angel had decided to go to the high school after the sun set, per his allergy. He was getting bored staying home all the time, and since Buffy was busy, he figured the more he involved himself in his old life, the better.
"Aah!" Willow screeched, pushing back in her chair and whipping out a cross from her pocket. She held it out in his direction, her hand shaking.
Angel stepped closer. "Wh-what's wrong?"
"You scared me!" Willow said, lowering the holy object slowly.
"I'm s-sorry," Angel said.
Willow nodded and calmed herself. She pulled her chair back over to the computer and sat down. "What are you doing here?" she finally asked, composed once more.
"I…I wanted to h-help," Angel told her. "L-like Buffy said I-I used to d-do."
"She did?" Willow asked. "Um…ok. Can you read Romany?"
"I-I don't know," Angel said, sitting in an empty seat. Willow observed that Angel was wearing way too many clothes for the still hot California weather.
"Here," Willow handed him a printout of the curse she cast. "We're trying to translate this, to get to the meaning behind it."
Angel accepted the paper and looked down at it. He was amazed to find he could easily read it without stuttering. "Not of the dead, nor not of the living, spirits of the interregnum I call. Gods, bind him. Cast his heart from the demon realm. I implore you, Lord, do not ignore this supplication. Let this Orb be the vessel that will carry his soul to him. It is written, this power is my people's right to wield. Let it be so."
"You can read that?" Willow asked in a awed voice.
"I g-guess so," Angel replied, setting the paper down on the table. "Now, wh-what are w-w-we trying to do?"
Willow shook herself, getting back to the task at hand. "We're trying to figure out the meaning behind the curse and if it can be broken or not."
"The…the m-meaning is easy," Angel said, pushing the paper to her. "It g-gives someone b-back their s-s-soul."
"I already knew that," Willow said. Angel quieted her with a look. "Sorry. Go on."
"This l-line here," he said, pointing to the paper. "'C-cast his heart from the d-demon realm.' Th-that's re-removing all evil from th-the person."
"Really!" Willow squealed. "That's great! Wait, you'd better translate this line from the other curse." She gave him the original curse and pointed to the underlined phrases which were the only differences between the two curses.
"It-it says: Restore to the corporal vessel that which separates us from beast. Use this orb as your guide," Angel translated. "I w-wonder why I-I-I did not st-stutter when I r-read them."
"Probably because you're not thinking," Willow told him. "Just reading." She stood and ran over to the phone. "I'm gonna call Giles and tell him the news. This is so great!"
"Glad I-I could help," Angel told her, pulling an open book that was on the table to him. He began to read the Latin text as Willow talked excitedly into the phone.
"Giles will be here as soon as he can," Willow told Angel. She hugged him. "Welcome back."
Angel was surprised. No one, other than Buffy, had touched him at all. He hugged the small girl back. "Thank y-you," Angel replied.
"Get your hands off her, Deadboy!" Xander's voice yelled at the two from the doorway.
Willow quickly turned. "Xander! It was a hug!"
"That's what he wants you to believe, Will," Xander said, storming over to pull her away from Angel's reach. "Just before he sucks your life away."
"Xander, this is Angel. Angel not Angelus. That demon is gone for good," Willow told her friend.
"How do you know?" Xander said, snidely. "Last time, all Buffy had to do was give him a happy and wham-o! Instant killer."
"The curse I cast," Willow said. "It was different than the original curse. It doesn't matter if he's happy or not, it can't be broken."
Angel watched the fight between to two friends. Xander was a coil of restrained hatred, while Willow radiated happiness. "I c-can go," he interrupted them.
"No," Willow said, moving to keep the vampire in his seat.
Xander grabbed her arm. "Get lost, fang face," he said. "And stay lost."
"Xander, that's enough!" Willow yelled, extracting her arm from his grip. "One more comment out of you, and I won't be held responsible for what I do."
"It's not gonna happen, Will. This guy is bad news and he needs to…"
Xander's sentence was interrupted by a fist in his face. It was not as powerful as Buffy's hit, but it had more meaning behind it.
"Get out," Willow hissed, her voice deadly. "And don't ever come near me or Angel again."
"Willow…" Xander said, rubbing his eye. She turned her back to him. Angel watched the fight with sad eyes. Spinning, Xander left the library.
Willow seemed to droop and Angel stood quickly, engulfing her in a hug as she began to sob. "It'll be ok," Angel cooed. "Y-you'll see."
Giles entered the library. "What's wrong?" he asked sharply. "Xander stormed past me and now I f-find Willow crying."
"I…I'm not s-sure," Angel replied. "It h-had something to d-do with curses, de-demons and me."
"Giles," Willow said, wiping her face with her sleeve. "The curse can't be broken. Ever. That's all that is important."
"Are you certain?" Giles said.
"As certain as anyone can be living on the Hellmouth," Willow responded. "Thanks, Angel." She told the vampire, moving out of his arms.
Angel nodded and smiled affectionately at her.
"Hey, Giles! I bagged a biggie tonight," Buffy said, coming through the doors of the library. "Woah. What's going on here?" she asked, seeing Willow's red eyes and Giles' worried face.
"Oh, um, Buffy," Giles said. "Good news. It w-would seem the curse is permanent."
"Really?" Buffy said, hope in her voice. "No 'You made me happy so now I'm gonna kill off all your friends?'"
"Er…no," Giles replied.
"Angel translated those different lines and one of them meant that all the evil was gone from the person," Willow informed Giles and the Slayer. "He didn't even stutter when he read them."
Buffy stood still, an expression of pain and joy on her face. She let out a choked sob and launched herself at Angel, holding him close and raining kisses on his face.
"H-hey," Angel said. "Wh-what is this for? N-not that I don't l-like it, be-because I do."
"I'm happy!" Buffy exclaimed, continuing her ministrations. "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!"
Angel looked at the other two in the room with embarrassment. "Uh…Buffy. W-we have an aud-audience."
"Oh," Buffy said, blushing. She turned to Giles and Willow. "Sorry, guys."
Willow smiled largely at the Slayer. "It's ok. I've been waiting for what seems like forever to see you so happy."