tamibrandt (tamibrandt) wrote,
tamibrandt
tamibrandt

How to Treat Your Lover (A(us)/S, Buffy) NC-17 62/?

Title: How to Treat Your Lover (Book 4)
By Tami (tabrandt @ hotmail.com)
Disclaimer: The characters from ATS / BTVS are owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Fox studios. This story is not meant to infringe upon anyone's rights, only to entertain.
BETA: Myself, Morgan
Rating: NC-17
Pairing – M/M, Angelus/Spike, Angel/Spike
Timeline – ATS Season 4/BTVS Season 7-AU
Summary - With both Angel and Cordelia still missing, Fred and Gunn try to keep Angel Investigations running while they search for their friends. Ironically, the man everyone believes betrayed Angel is the one who finally comes to Angel's rescue. Then, as suddenly as she had vanished, Cordelia inexplicably reappears with no recollection of her life or her friends. Unbeknownst to the team, things aren’t always what they appear. Even as Cordelia regains her memory, she harbors a secret that will change their lives forever. Finally, Spike returns from his sojourn abroad with his gift to Angel that leaves him mentally unstable. Meanwhile, in Sunnydale, Dawn starts her sophomore year at the new Sunnydale High School with a mysterious new principal that may shake things up. Oh, and there's an apocalypse a'comin' on two fronts.
Feedback – It would be appreciated. My plot bunny has been lagging lately.
Author's Note - This story came to me after watching how Buffy treated Spike in SMASHED - AS YOU WERE (BTVS, Season 6). I wondered how Angel would truly feel, if he really knew how Buffy mistreated Spike. Yes, Spike is the Big Bad, and he and Angel normally don't see eye-to-eye, but they are family nonetheless
Word Count: 7,918 overall

How to Treat Your Lover Soundtrack (Feel free to suggest a song/scene)

( Book 1 )
( Book 2 )
( Book 3 )

( Previous Chapters for Book 4 )

**************************



Chapter 62: Step 4 – Reconciliation (Part 12)



Los Angeles, Occult Bookstore, Night

Without further warning, Angelus sank his fangs into Faith’s neck, causing her to cry out in pain. He took in gulps of her potent Slayer's blood that was a little different from Buffy’s. Buffy loved him when he drank from her, it was something he could taste in her blood and feel in her body. Faith, cared about Angel as a close friend, but her blood was only addictive on the same level as eating chocolate. And then – he tasted something different – wrong, and he released her, violently recoiling.

Angelus wiped furiously at his mouth, glaring at Faith. “What . . . did you do?”

**************************


Moments Earlier

While Angelus and Wesley were facing off, Faith took the time to plan ahead.

“Gotta do better than that, Wes,” Angelus laughed.

Faith grabbed a hypodermic syringe from her boot.

Wesley took another shot and missed. “Come on, I’ll give you one more.”

Faith stuck the needle in her arm and pressed the plunger until she injected the entire drug Wesley offered her earlier.

Wesley aimed at Angelus’s face, but Angelus grabbed the barrel as Wesley fired a round, managing to avoid being shot. “Strike three.” He grabbed Wesley, throwing him over the balcony ledge.

**************************


Now

Angelus staggered to stand, struggling to remain on his feet. “You – you sp— You spiked . . .” Angelus tried to say before he collapsed, passing out.

Spike rolled over on his back on the cardboard, blinking as he looked up and saw Wesley resting on the pile of scaffolding, momentarily thinking him dead until he saw that his eyes were open and blinking.

“Faith? You okay?” Spike asked, his voice rough from a combination of the hard landing and dust caught in his throat.

Faith panted, her words slurring as she replied, “Kicked his ass.” Then she passed out.

Spike reached into his jeans pocket, pulling out his cell phone. Miraculously, it wasn’t broken. He blindly hit the speed dial for the hotel.

“Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless,” Gunn answered.

Spike closed his eyes. He’d never been so happy to hear Gunn’s voice. Fred would freak out, Lorne wouldn’t be much help, and Cordelia was laid up with a leg injury. “Gunn, we’re at Maury’s Occult Bookstore. We’ve got Angelus. Need you to come get us.”

“Sure, man. I’m on my way,” Gunn said. Spike hung up.

**************************


Los Angeles, Hyperion Hotel, Lobby

Fred was researching at the reception desk when Gunn and a battered Spike came through the front door carrying an unconscious Angelus.

Fred looked up from her book when the doors opened. “Oh, my God! Angelus.”

Gunn and Spike carried Angelus down the stairs into the lobby, barely stopping to acknowledge Fred on the way to the basement.

“Pick up your tranq gun,” Gunn advised, in passing. “I don’t know how much time we have.”

“What happened?” Fred asked as she hurried over to them, gun in hand. “You just rushed out of here.”

“Spike called, I went,” Gunn shrugged. “I didn’t ask too many questions.”

“Where are Wesley and Faith?” Fred asked, looking between the two men.

Just then, Lorne walked in with a Sea Breeze he nearly dropped. “Well, what is all the – Aah! Angelus! He’s in the hotel!”

“Lorne, we need steel shackles,” Gunn ordered.

“There are shackles and leg irons from my tenure in the basement,” Spike informed him.

“Oh, uh, maybe we’re already aware of that,” Lorne said to himself.

“All I had was rope in the truck,” Gunn said, glaring at Spike.

“I told you we had Angelus. Is it my bloody fault you didn’t believe me?” Spike said defensively.

“Wesley and Faith,” Lorne interjected. “Where are they?”

“Get him downstairs,” Wesley barked.

“What happened to Faith?” Fred asked.

Wesley pushed through the entrance door carrying an unconscious Faith in his arms. “She captured Angelus.”

“I think it’s safe to say it was a group effort, Percy,” Spike put in.

“God, what did he do to her?” Fred asked with a grimace, looking at Faith’s body.

“Gunn?” Wesley prompted.

“We got it,” Gunn said, his tone dismissing Wesley as he and Spike headed downstairs to the basement.

“She looks not well,” Lorne observed.

“Help me with her,” Wesley said.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Hallway

Wesley carried Faith, her neck covered with a bloody bandage, down the hall to an empty room, Fred and Lorne accompanying them.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Gunn opened the cage door for Spike, who carried his Sire inside and laid him unceremoniously, but not rudely, on the floor.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Wesley lay Faith’s limp body down on the bed.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Gunn untied Angelus’ hands while Spike went to retrieve the set of shackles from the far wall on the opposite side of the room. He returned and fastened the steel shackles around Angelus’ wrists.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Lorne moved closer to get a better look at Faith, checking her eyes much as a doctor would, then he noticing her arm, where it was discolored from the self-administered injection of the drug Wesley had given her. Taken aback, Lorne turned to look at Wesley, who only stared straight ahead at Faith.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Spike and Gunn continued to secure Angelus in the cage, adding sturdy leg irons to the shackles.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Fred quietly entered the room carrying a bowl of water and a towel. She sat beside Faith and gently removed the bandage on the unconscious Slayer's neck, disturbed by the sight of the bloody gash left by Angelus. She silently congratulated herself on remaining calm and continued to dress the wound.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Spike and Gunn added heavy chains to the shackles and leg irons, exchanged a glance, then attached the chains to bolts mounted in the concrete wall.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Sitting beside Faith, Fred began cleaning Faith’s wounded neck then applied a fresh dressing.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Spike worked at assisting Gunn in fixing the last restraint on Angelus with a somewhat wistful expression on his face. It had been nostalgic to see his Sire in top form again, raising hell around the city, ranting at invisible entities aside.

Angelus twitched and mumbled, “Kill you . . . kill . . . you . . .”

Gunn and Spike both jumped to their feet in surprise, then stepped back, thankful to have gotten him restrained before he came around. Gunn pointed a tranq gun at Angelus anyway, just to be on the safe side.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

While Fred was attending to her wound, Faith twitched and mumbled, “Scratch you out—”

“She’s not making any sense,” Fred observed.

Lorne was normally a good-natured person who liked to think the best of every demon or human he encountered in his life, but right now he was infuriated at Wesley for what he had done to the poor girl lying comatose, for lack of a better term, on the bed.

Lorne stormed over to Wesley and, in a harsh whisper, demanded, “And speaking of sense, have you gone on permanent sabbatical from yours?! Tell me you did not shoot that girl full of junk, and then feed her to Angelus!”

“It was her choice. Faith knew the risks,” Wesley stated calmly, refusing to look the empathic demon in the eye.

“She couldn’t have!” Lorne debated angrily in a normal, louder voice. Fred glared at the two men for arguing so loudly that they would disturb Faith’s sleep, coma-like though it was. Lorne lowered his voice while he continued to read the riot act to the former Watcher. “Wesley, I know what that drug does to people, especially when they super-size the doses to make sure they really get the job done. And you damn well know it too.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Hallway

Hearing the commotion downstairs, Cordelia left her room to investigate, quietly moving through the hotel in slippers that barely made a whoosh-whoosh sound when they scuffed the threadbare carpet. She found the door to Faith’s room cracked open a little and stepped closer to eavesdrop.

“A coma?” Cordelia repeated disbelievingly. Faith had snagged Angelus? Now she was in a coma? From the commotion she heard earlier she gathered that Gunn and Spike took him to the cage in the basement, and she assumed they were probably standing guard. She couldn’t very well go sojourning to the basement to see for herself when she was supposedly partially incapacitated with a serious limp. She didn’t think anyone would believe her if she told them she managed to hobble down the basement steps to make sure he was locked up.

When she heard movement in the lobby echo through the cavernous hotel, she made her way as quickly and quietly as possible back to her room before someone saw her strolling about without a hint of a limp. If Angelus really was caught and caged, she was determined to find out for herself and plan accordingly.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Spike left Gunn, armed with a tranquilizer rifle, to guard Angelus as he went upstairs, intending to visit Faith’s room. He was sure he smelled a faint trace of Cordelia’s scent near the door, but she was nowhere to be seen. He shrugged it off and went into Faith's room, where there were more important things to worry about. Spike leaned in the doorway separating the suite from the bedroom and gazed at Faith’s inert body. Wesley sat in a corner holding an icepack – courtesy of Fred – to his bruised head. Fred and Lorne stood near the bed, watching over Faith.

“How much of the stuff did you give her, Percy?” Spike asked with a hard, accusatory edge to his voice. He’d seen the effects of that drug firsthand and could only imagine how much of it Faith had shot into her system.

Fred crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Wesley. “Actually, I’d like to start with what exactly was it, Wesley?”

“Orpheus,” Lorne softly answered for Wesley, who continued his silent vigil.

“Some kind of opiate?” Fred inquired.

“It’s a mystical drug,” Spike replied.

“Humans inject it, vampires feed off the humans and get high. Folks tried to deal it at Caritas – the only folks I ever banned from my club,” Lorne expounded.

“The ’vention,” Faith mumbled in her sleep.

“So, if ordinary humans do this junk and send vampires into orbit, Slayers jacked up on this must be like a rocket to Mars, right?” Fred asked as she looked between Spike and Lorne.

“That’s what makes it so dangerous. Orpheus isn’t entirely physical. It’s an enchanted drug,” Lorne told her.

“That, plus the attraction of biting, makes for some serious psychic psychedelia. And the more you take, the deeper you sink,” Spike added.

“It leads you down to hell,” Wesley said without emotion. “And abandons you there, screaming.”

“The Beastmaster has been blocking my access to Angelus’ mind of late, but now that he’s out for the count, maybe it’s backed off from trying to control him long enough for me to slip in and see what’s going on from his side,” Spike spoke aloud, to himself more than to anyone in the room.

“Bless your silent heart, carrotcake,” Lorne said, relieved.

Spike arched a scarred brow at him. “As long as you never call me pastry names ever again.”

“No promises,” Lorne said, giving him the Boy Scout salute.

Spike went into the suite and sat in the arm chair, relaxing and closing his eyes. He gently felt along the edges of Angelus’ mind and was surprised to discover no barrier of any kind. He could still faintly sense Faith’s presence, but since he wasn’t tied to her like he was to his Sire, it was akin to her being out of his peripheral vision; similar to knowing someone was in the room without being able to see them. Spike saw Angelus’ memories with a bird’s-eye view.

**************************


A ship pulled into the harbor, passing the Statue of Liberty. A sign read: UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION, ELLIS ISLAND, N.Y.

“When was this?” Spike asked.

“It looks like New York, 1902,” Angel replied.

Spike mentally jumped out of his skin. “Bloody hell, Angel! Where’d you come from?”

“I’m still in the Muo-Ping jar I guess,” Angel postulated.

“Why haven’t you spoken up ’til now, ponce?” Spike asked in agitation.

“Being in a state of swirling smoke tends to be disorienting. I’ve tried to stay focused with little success. I don’t even know where my soul physically is at the moment,” Angel explained.

“I thought you just said it was in the Muo-Ping?” Spike inquired.

“That’s not what I meant, smart ass,” Angel growled.

Spike shut up and watched the scene play out before him.

Huddled masses of men, women, and children poured off of the ship. A long-haired Angel walked through the crowd which parted around him, leaving him a wide birth. Except Angelus – Angelus just stood there, facing Angel, not intending to move for him, but Angel walked right through him.

“Hey!” Angelus yelled indignantly as he turned to watch Angel walk away. “What is that about?”

“You tell me,” Faith appeared beside him. “It’s your flashback.” Angelus charged at Faith, but passed through her as if she were composed of light and shadow. Faith chuckled. “You know what the definition of insanity is, baby? Performing the same task over and over and expecting different results. I learned that in murder rehab.”

Spike could see and hear Faith now from his vantage point of the scene. It was like watching a movie in the most amazing 3-D IMAX ever invented.

“All right, Miss Blow-It-All. This is my flashback. Why are you in it?” Angelus snapped as he stalked away.

Faith followed him. “I don’t know. Must be the magical side effects of my incredibly simple ruse.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Fred had gone down to the lobby to immerse herself in research. She’d run across the Orb of Thesulah a lot, and Angel once told her in Pylea that Willow Rosenberg restored his soul in Sunnydale. She was beginning to believe it was the only option they had left. After finding a number in Angel’s rolodex, she picked up the reception desk phone and dialed.

“Hello?” a hyper teenage male voice answered.

“Hello? Is Willow Rosenberg there?” Fred asked.

“She’s busy right now,” the teenager told her.

“Can you get her please? We have an emergency down here, in L.A.” Fred insisted.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

“Are you getting anything, Spike?” Fred asked hesitantly.

“Angelus and Faith are bantering back and forth as they relive Angel’s good deeds. So far they’ve gone through 1902, and the 1920s. Oh, bloody hell, Peaches saved a soddin’ puppy from getting run over. Ponce.”

Lorne sat on the bed beside Faith, watching over her.

“There’s only one thing we can do for Faith now –” Wesley spoke up from his corner of the room.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Lobby

“We have to finish what she started,” Wesley declared.

“You mean, re-ensoul Angel?” Fred clarified.

“That’s all well and good, Percy, but the jar is missing. Angel’s voice popped into my head while I was in Angelus’ mind, so he’s still around, but he doesn’t know where the jar is.”

“That’s why I called in reinforcements,” Fred started to say.

At that moment, Willow walked in through the front entrance of the lobby. Sensing a human presence, Spike turned around and saw Willow standing on the entrance stairs with her well-remembered, endearing somewhat awkward stance.

“Did someone call for a witch?” Willow smiled hesitantly.

Wesley, Fred and Spike stared at Willow. She crossed the lobby to the reception desk and laid her purse, and an assortment of magical items, on the desk. “Did I come at a bad time?”

“Willow,” Wesley greeted with surprise.

“Hullo, Red,” Spike's salutation was filled with warmth.

“Hi, Willow,” Fred said, blushing beet red.

Willow walked up to Fred and smiled. “Hey Fred. It’s good to see you.” She glanced at Wesley. “Oh, and it’s the Marlboro Man, or at least his extra stubbly, mentally unstable, insomniac, first cousin of – for the love of Hecate, somebody stop me.”

Fred smiled. “It’s okay. I’m a yammerer from way back.”

“Fred called you?” Wesley asked--and then it hit him. “Of course, bring in the only living person to ever re-ensoul Angel.”

“She has a fresh brain and I thought she might see something we missed,” Fred explained.

“Oh, hearing the thoroughness of your research methodology,” Willow smiled at Fred. “I don’t think that’s possible.”

“Aw. Go on,” Fred giggled flirtatiously.

“Oh, bloody hell! Somebody put a stake in me! Can you two flirt another time? I don’t think Faith can stand to be in Angelus’ company for much longer. The way you two are going on, Faith will be dead from boredom running around Angelus’ mind reliving Angel’s good deeds,” Spike ranted.

“He’s right. We should probably start the debriefing,” Willow looked around. There was someone missing. “Where’s Cordelia?”

“Angelus shot her with a crossbow. She’s upstairs in her room,” Spike told her.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Cordelia was sitting in bed when Fred knocked on her door before escorting Willow into the room. Cordelia barely had time enough to hide the crystal she used in getting Angelus’ attention, although that had been a bust just recently.

“Hi there,” Willow said perkily.

Cordelia gave her a tight smile. “Long time, no see.”

Fred turned and left them in the room together. Willow sat on the bed beside Cordelia. “How’ve you been?”

“Higher power,” Cordelia answered flippantly. “You?”

“Oh, Ultimate evil,” Willow replied with more enthusiasm than Cordelia preferred. “But I got better.”

“Have you heard about Faith?” Cordelia asked, as if she were clueless.

Willow nodded. “Coma again. Some people seem destined for do-overs.”

“What about Angelus? Did you go down to see him?” Cordelia asked with genuine curiosity. It grated on her nerves, his obstinate refusal to answer her – or the Beastmaster’s summons.

“I’m way avoidy. Too many memories, and all of them lacking in the warm and fuzzy.” Willow shuddered exaggeratedly. “I’m just glad I don’t have to be in the same room as he is when I re-ensoul him.”

“Oh, do you really think you can pull it off?” Cordelia asked as she blindly searched under her blanket with as minimal movement as possible.

“Soul-in-the-body? It’s the first spell I ever learned,” Willow grinned. “I’m not about to forget that.”

Cordelia finally located and gripped the knife she had concealed beneath the blanket. “What about the Muo-Ping?”

“The jar holding Angel’s soul?” Willow sighed. “Therein lies our actual problem.”

“Stolen right out of our safe,” Cordelia remarked with faux regret. “And if we can’t get the soul out of the jar, we can’t put it back in Angel.”

“Yeah, question is: how do we get the soul out if we don’t know where the jar is?” Willow pondered.

“And apparently the thing is impervious to magic,” Cordelia told her.

“Yeah, I know. When Fred called, I tried a standard locator spell using a map and got nothing,” Willow admitted sadly.

“Right.” Cordelia eased up on the death grip she had on the knife under the blanket. “Plus, Wesley’s shaman says there’s no way to extract the soul from a distance.”

“Soul trapped in a glass jar, impervious to magic. It’s complicated,” Willow commented even as her brain was coming up with solutions.

"Like a Gordian Knot," Cordelia agreed.

Willow suddenly brightened at that. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Cordelia grabbed the knife under the blanket again. “I doubt it.”

Willow jumped to her feet in excitement. “We use the simplest solution; we just break the jar!”

Cordelia gestured at the nightstand farthest from her. “Can you hand me that drink?” she asked, hoping to distract the redhead.

Willow walked backwards toward the door. “That way we don’t have to magic the soul out. We can just break the glass around it!”

“Great idea,” Cordelia said impatiently. “I’m really thirsty.”

“And then Angel’s soul is still released into the ether, and – and there’s something called Delothrian’s Arrow. We don’t even need to know where the target is.” Willow opened the door and grinned excitedly. “Cordy, this is fantastic! We’re gonna get him back!” and with that cheery proclamation, Willow fairly bounced out of the room.

Cordelia threw the knife just as Willow left the room. The blade embedded in the wooden panel where Willow's head had been just a few seconds before.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Lorne sat on the bed looking after Faith, who was still essentially unconscious and unresponsive.

“Don’t you worry, princess. It’ll all be over soon,” Lorne said aloud, mostly trying to reassure himself. “I-I’ve seen lots of girls go through just what you’re going through now.” After a moment, he started to sing, “There’ll be another song for me / and I will sing it / Oh, there’ll be another dream for me / someone will bring it.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Cordelia held the glowing crystal in her hand, trying to contact Angelus.

“Hear me, Angelus, heed my warning. Awake at once and return from the darkness.” When she received no answer to any of her orders, she grew impatient and huffed, “Or just lay there and let that redheaded meddler put your soul back. Whichever."

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Wesley and Willow were preparing a spell. There was a bubbling jar in front of Willow.

“Look, it’s working,” Willow observed with a smile.

“I thought Delothrian’s Arrow was used to protect good magicks,” Wesley remarked thoughtfully.

“It is,” Willow confirmed.

“So, how can you use it to break the jar? The Muo-Ping is a sacred object. It’s holy,” Wesley pointed out.

“It’s glass, therefore crunchable,” Willow explained. “The sacred’s what’s inside. ‘All life a container –’”

“‘–For the heart of all life.’” Wesley finished. “You’ve studied the Daharim.”

“Well, it would have to be something specific. There’s lots of jars in the world – can’t shatter them all. I mean, you could, but good things come in jars; peanut butter, jelly, those two-headed fetal pigs at the natural history museum.” Wesley just looked at her. “Come on, everybody loves fetal pigs,” she teased, trying to get a rise out of him.

Wesley leaned forward, his forearms on the reception desk. “Sorry. I think my sense of humor is trapped in a jar somewhere.”

“It does seem like you’ve given in to the grumpy side of the force,” Willow acknowledged.

“A lot’s happened, and I don't just mean Angelus. I’ve been – I’ve changed. I’ve seen a darkness in myself. I’m not sure you’d even begin to understand –”

“I flayed a guy alive and tried to destroy the world,” Willow told him frankly.

“Oh,” Wesley was at a momentary loss for words. “So–” He stood up straight, avoiding direct eye contact.

“Darkness,” Willow nodded. “Been there.”

“Yeah. Well, I never flayed–” Wesley grimaced, sickened by the image of a flayed man brought to mind. “I did have a woman chained in a closet,” he admitted weakly.

“Hey,” Willow acknowledged as if they were in some kind of ‘Formerly Evil Support Group’.

Wesley shook his head. “That doesn’t compare.”

“No,” Willow disagreed. “That’s dark. You’ve been to a place.”

“You seem exactly the same as when I left. No other major changes I’m not up on?” Wesley asked.

Willow shrugged. “Just little things.” After a moment of awkward silence, she said, “So, uh, Fred. What’s her story?”

**************************


Angel crouched next to the donut shop clerk.

“God, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Angel apologized profusely.

The clerk died from the blood loss, and Angel stood up, backing away, staring at the clerk.

“So who’s your big hero now?” Angelus taunted.

“Wasn’t even his fault. God, does the guy gotta pay for everything?” Faith wondered out loud.

“Choices, little girl. The ones you make with your heart of hearts.” They watched Angel move to the door, but he stopped and locked it instead. Angelus grinned. “Uh-oh. What’s gonna happen?”

“He won’t,” Faith denied what she thought she was about to witness.

Angel walked slowly back to the clerk as if his feet were making the decision to return against his will.

“I’m deep in, Faith,” Angelus whispered near her ear. “Soul or no soul.”

Angel slipped into his demon visage and lifted the clerk.

“Angel!” Faith yelled to stop what he was about to do, but Angel sank his fangs into the clerk’s neck. Faith grimaced. “Ugh.” She felt something drip down her neck and reached up. When she pulled her hand away, she saw blood on her fingers. “He was going to save him.”

“Or, did he choose to be a little slow on the draw?” Angelus countered. “Whoops! Dinner by armed robbery. Look at him, Faith. You’re a murderer. You know just how good that blurry line tastes.” He watched her expression as his words sank in. “You didn’t think my hell was private, did ya?”

Angel screamed.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Spike was watching Wesley and Willow preparing their spell when he suddenly heard Angel scream. He looked around reflexively, but saw nothing.

Angel?

I’m fine. Have you been watching the memory tour?

I’ve been popping in on it every so often. I can’t believe you really like Barry Manilow. You are such a ponce.

So, you didn’t see me kill the clerk at the doughnut shop?

One of your better acts while having a soul if you ask me.

Figures you would approve of that. I was really distraught about what I did back then.

Of course you were. Big on the whole self-flagellation gig, you are.

Spike silently left the lobby, going upstairs.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Lorne dabbed away the tears from Faith’s face as Spike walked into the room and leaned against the doorjamb between the ensuite and the bedroom.

Lorne didn’t look up, but he heard Spike enter the room. “She’s in the barrens now. They cry for a while. Quiet mostly. Like they’re letting go of everything that meant something.”

“Angelus showed her what Angel was capable of, even with a soul. How long ’til she – ?”

“Not long,” Lorne replied.

Hearing footsteps, Spike turned his head to see Wesley entering the room.

“Took a gamble on her, Percy,” Spike observed. “Now she’s pretty much at Angelus’ mercy. He’s giving her the grand tour of Angel’s greatest hits.”

Wesley stared at Faith with an expression that could be labeled as guilt. “It’s time.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Wesley and Spike descended the steps to find Fred walking around the lobby in a circle bearing a lit candle and ringing a bell.

“Did Fred go sack of hammers again?” Spike asked casually.

Willow touched Fred’s chin, lifting it higher, and smiled. “You’re good. Good bells.” She turned and moved back to the reception desk where Gunn leaned, watching the spectacle. “Okay,” Willow said more to herself than him. “Now, all I got to do is contact the spirit world, harness the Delothrian ebb, and focus it through my little marble of doom here.” She held out a small metal ball. “And we’ll restore the Muo-Ping’s entropic equilibrium.”

“The jar goes smash?” Gunn translated.

“Smash-o-crash,” Willow confirmed.

“I’ll be downstairs in case Angelus wakes up,” Spike announced as he left the room.

“Okay,” Willow acknowledged the departing figure.

Wesley approached Willow. “Are you ready?”

Willow nodded. “Should be a snap.”

Suddenly, a bolt of orange energy impacted Willow, sending her sliding across the floor. Gunn drew his weapon and looked around for the culprit, but found nothing.

“Stay your hand, witch! You will not interfere with what must come to pass,” a mysterious voice boomed.

Willow got to her feet and covered her ears with her hands. “Invadoria disparu!”

“You think to banish me?” the mysterious voice laughed evilly.

“There’s somebody in my head,” Willow announced.

“As long as the soul is under my protection, it will never be freed,” the mysterious voice proclaimed.

Willow looked up and yelled, “Vetsche invadoria disparu!”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Willow’s counter-spell caused Cordelia to rear back.

“I’th bid my thongue,” a shocked Cordelia exclaimed to herself.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

“It’s the dead Beast’s master,” Wesley explained. “He’s enormously powerful. He contacted Angelus the same way.”

“He wants to stop us from getting the soul,” Fred added.

Willow suddenly looked up, revealing obsidian-black eyes. She held out her hand and the metal marble floated before her, beginning to glow. “Open the window. Fill this stone. Inside, outside. Two made one.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Cordelia’s brows furrowed in anger. “You want to go, Glinda? We’ll go.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Willow was knocked down by another bolt of energy from the Beastmaster.

“Are you sure she can handle it?” Gunn asked skeptically.

Willow, still sporting black eyes, focused on the ball in front of her. “Alesh ashtoreth!”

The ground began to shake violently.

“I think she can hold her own,” Wesley observed, striving to keep his balance on the bucking floor.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Lorne looked around when the building shook, but continued speaking to Faith. “It’s okay, Faith. It’s okay. You just wait and see. They’ll get Angel back and –” It was like he was trying to convince himself of the assurance. “It’ll all be worth it. It’ll all –”

He was cut off when Faith gasped and sat bolt upright.

**************************


Faith found herself in a dark alley full of trash.

“It’ll all be worth it. Is that what you try to tell yourself, Faithy?” Angelus taunted. “Is that the nasty little lie that kept those thighs nice and warm in your prison bunk?”

Faith looked around, searching for Angelus. She could still hear him, but she couldn't see him. “You kiss your mama with that mouth?”

Angelus appeared behind her, lying on the ground. “No, but I ate her with it.” He suddenly rose to his feet without bending his body. “And now for a poem. ‘Faith goes gently into that good night.’ You’re fading fast, baby. I can feel it.”

“All the same, I hear this holler in the distance,” Faith smirked.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Defying the Beastmaster, Willow continued to the cast the spell. “Semsa nahl eresh a’lahm!”

**************************


“Tells me you’re about to get what’s coming to you,” Faith told Angelus.

“Or not. I’ve got friends in high places.” A sound caught their attention and they looked to see Angel stumble around, knocking over garbage cans. Angelus growled. “Him not being one of them.”

Angel tracked something scuttling through the trash, lunged and snatched up a rat, hungrily sinking his fangs into it and draining it dry in a moment.

“Ugh,” Faith grimaced. “When is this?”

“When isn’t it?” Angelus replied with annoyance. “Twenty years after that stupid doughnut shop, and his fingers never smelled of anything but rat! ‘I’m so sorry. I give up. I’m going to live in a sewer!’”

“He’s paying for what he did,” Faith defended Angel.

“He’s hiding from what he is – which may be a big Psych 101 revelation for you, cupcake, but I already know this crap, so why do I have to go through it again?”

“Maybe ’cause it’s not about you,” Angel finally acknowledged them. He stood up. “Jackass.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

The ground shook in the hotel. Wesley, Gunn, Fred and Willow stood in the lobby.

“Do you feel that?” Wesley asked rhetorically.

“There’s something evil in the hotel,” Gunn replied.

"You think?" Willow commented.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Cordelia's eyes were rolled over, white showing as she chanted in front of the Muo-Ping.

“Seiza jai n’hast engai . . . Seiza jai n’hast engai . . .”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Spike opened the door to the cage and slipped inside, cautiously closing the door behind him. He stood still, glancing at the ceiling and wondering how well constructed the Hyperion was, when the ground shook under his feet.

“That's a lot of fireworks just to restore your soul, Angel,” Spike remarked to himself as he leaned against the bars, gazing at Angelus, who was still restrained on the cot against the wall.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

An apparition of a huge demonic head floated above the group, growling and shrieking.

“What the hell is that?” Gunn asked anxiously.

“Ignore it,” Willow ordered, her voice strained as she concentrated on her spell. Addressing the glowing metal ball in front of her, she told it, “Find your target. Leave my side.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Cordelia still sat in front of the Muo-Ping jar, speaking to herself.

“Okay then. Huge floaty head not enough to scare you? Then why don’t we try –”

In an instant, the glowing metal ball Willow sent on an errand of destruction dove straight for the Muo-Ping, but Cordelia threw up a hand to stop it, concentrating intensely. “Now she is on my last nerve!”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

“Geth na haroth castellum tol,” Willow chanted.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Cordelia devoted her entire attention to keeping Willow’s magic marble from getting to the jar.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

“Break the glass,” Willow instructed the marble. “Let loose the soul!”

Fred looked around. “Where’s Gunn?”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Gunn grabbed the door knob to Cordelia's room, intending to make sure she was okay, but the knob refused to turn and the door held fast against his shoulder, as if it was barricaded from the other side.

Pounding on the door, Gunn shouted, “Cordelia! Are you okay?”

The tumult of noise startled Cordelia out of her concentration. “Ah!” she shouted in angry dismay as the marble broke the Muo-Ping, releasing Angel’s soul into the ether. Cordelia grimaced when she heard glass shatter. “Oh, shit.”

**************************


Angel, Angelus and Faith were still in the alley. Angel was filthy, covered in dirt and grime, with a seventies, Meat Loaf hairstyle he did not wear well.

“I don’t believe this!" Angelus was incredulous. “You’re the one behind this whole true-Hollywood sob-story?”

“Angel, it’s good to see you,” Faith greeted with relief. “Hating the hair,” she added, and he chuckled.

“Faith, why are you still here?” Angel asked.

“Just waiting to see this pervert get stuffed back into the deep, crazy ground he came from,” she explained.

“Then what? After that, what happens?” Angel asked.

Angelus interrupted their exchange with a kick to Faith's middle, knocking her down.

“Probably something like that,” Angelus inserted flippantly. “I have a feeling the rules changed.”

“She’s not the one you’re after,” Angel countered, glaring at his demonic alter-ego.

“No kidding, rat-boy. The Slayer will just be gravy once I finish you off,” Angelus said.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Angel and Angelus simultaneously said to each other. And after a moment of tension-filled glaring – they attacked.

Between flurried punches and kicks, Angel yelled, “Faith, get up! Are you listening?”

“Angel, I’m dying,” Faith apologized weakly.

“Yeah,” Angel remarked as he continued battling his alter ego. “It’s a lot easier than redemption, huh?” He kicked Angelus.

Angelus caught hold of Angel by the neck. “Always so concerned with the human condition.” He hurled Angel down the alley. “It’s no big mystery, man. They suffer, they die. That’s what they’re here for.”

Angel jumped to his feet and lunged at Angelus. “I’m not perfect Faith.” He punched Angelus several times. “Even with a soul, I’ve done things I wished a thousand times over I could take back.”

“Yeah, like those Manilow concerts,” Angelus snarled and flung Angel across the alley, into a cluster of trash cans that crashed and clattered to the pavement under the impact. “Son of a bitch!”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Cordelia’s Suite

Gunn finally burst into the room, pushing away the barricade of furniture from the door.

“Cordelia?!” Gunn inquired with obvious worry.

Cordelia smashed Gunn over the head with a ceramic vase from behind, shattering the vase.

When Gunn turned around sporting an annoyed expression rather than a crushed skull, she dissolved into apologies. “Oh, Gunn! I’m so sorry. I thought it came back!” Cordelia burst into crocodile tears. “That horrible floaty head!”

“Did it hurt you?” Gunn asked suspiciously.

“I was nearly killed!” Cordelia shrieked melodramatically.

Gunn looked her over. “Physically, you seem just fine to me.”

Cordelia’s expression changed to that of infuriated frustration at being unable to manipulate him.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Fred, Wesley, and Willow were lighting more candles and incense in the lobby.

Fred looked around as if she were searching for something. “So, now Angel’s soul is just floating around out there?”

“Yeah, until I can channel it into the Orb of Thesulah,” Willow explained.

“I wonder where Charles disappeared to,” Fred wondered.

“I’m sure he only went to check on Cordelia,” Wesley assured her.

“Gunn is fine,” Willow agreed as she handed Fred an open book. “Here.” She grabbed her book off of the reception desk and turned back to the triangle their bodies created around the Orb of Thesulah. Addressing Fred, she said, “Ready when you are.”

Fred read the passage Willow had highlighted in yellow. “Quod perditum est invenietur.”

Willow read her passage next. “Nisi mort. Nisi al finitei. Te invoc, spirit al trecerii.”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Spike stood guard over Angelus’ unconscious body.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Lorne stood sentry beside an unconscious Faith.

**************************


While Angel and Angelus fought, Faith lay unconscious against the alley wall.

“Faith, wake up!” Angel yelled between punches.

Faith awoke, groggy. “I’ve rolled the bones. You for me.”

Angel punched Angelus, knocking him down, then walked toward Faith. “I used to think that way. That there’d be a point when I’d paid my dues.”

Angelus lunged out of nowhere, knocking down Angel from behind. “Does anybody notice a battle with your alter ego going on here?!”

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

In the lobby, Willow continued the spell intended to re-ensoul Angel. “Te implore doamne. Nu ignore accasta rugaminte lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-I va transporta sufletul la el.”

**************************


Angel and Angelus continued fighting in the alley. Angel knocked Angelus into a pile of garbage then hastened over to Faith, holding her in his arms.

“Faith, listen to me, you saw me drink. It doesn’t get much lower than that, and I thought I could make up for it by disappearing.”

“I did my time,” Faith said weakly.

“Our time is never up, Faith. We pay for everything,” Angel declared with conviction.

“It hurts,” Faith admitted softly.

“I know. I know,” Angel acknowledged sympathetically.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

Willow continued to chant over the Orb of Thesulah. “Este scris aceasta putere este dreptul poporuil meu de a conduce.”

**************************


“Get up!” Angel ordered. “You have to get up now, Faith. You have to fight. I need you to fight! Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Angelus slipped up behind Angel, smashing him across the back of his head with a metal pipe, rendering him unconscious.

“What won’t I miss?” Angelus asked aloud. “The moralizing? Soul’s already in the ether, boyo. I can smell it. How about I send it off to that big puppy rescue in the sky?”

“Arf arf, psycho,” Faith interrupted his bravado.

Angelus spun around and found Faith standing behind him. “Faith,” he acknowledged with a chuckle. “Getting back in the game?”

“I guess I am,” Faith replied.

Angelus snarled and swung the pipe at Faith, but she disappeared before he made contact. “Hey!” he yelled indignantly.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Faith’s Suite

Faith’s eyes snapped open and, without missing a beat, she sprang off of the bed and ran out of the room.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Lobby

“Asa sa fie, acum,” Willow chanted.

**************************


Angelus and Angel began to glow, and as the glow around each grew larger, they melded and began to combine into a single being.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel Basement

Spike perked up when he heard Angel mumbling tiredly. “I need you to fight.”

Spike crossed the cell in two steps and sat on the edge of the cot. “Angel. Wake up, ponce.”

Spike looked up when he heard someone running down the stairs. Faith rushed over and threw herself against the cage door almost falling through the door when it opened.

“What’s going on with you?” Spike asked, brows furrowed in confusion.

“Willow put his soul back. Angel told me to wake up and fight,” Faith explained.

“I think he meant to get out of your coma and continue to live your life fighting the good fight. Not break your fool neck, running down here like hellhounds are chasing you.”

They both turned to look when they heard rushed footsteps on the stairs. Lorne appeared, closely followed by Fred and Wesley. “She’s alive. It’s a miracle!” Lorne exclaimed.

Suddenly Angel woke up with a start that nearly tumbled Spike off of the cot and onto the floor.

“Angel?” Faith inquired.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Angel groaned.

“Welcome back to the land of here and now, mate,” Spike grinned cheekily, busily fussing with the locks of Angel's bonds. The second Spike released his wrists from the shackles, Angel grabbed Spike and kissed him as if he hadn’t seen Spike in centuries.

Spike chuckled. “As great as that was, Angel, I don’t think your pets wanna see us shag right here, even if we've got the party favors.” He jingled the chains to illustrate his point.

Angel smiled, taking the key from Spike and using it to free his ankles.

**************************


Hyperion Hotel, Courtyard

Angel and Spike leaned against the wrought iron railing of the terrace, enjoying the night air. It smelled like freedom to Angel, who’d been locked in a cage, for all he could remember, weeks.

“I know we haven’t seen much of each other for a while, but from what Willow told me, they need all the support they can get on the Hellmouth,” Angel told him.

“Screw the Hellmouth. I heard what Willow said, too. They have a bunch of wannabe Slayers up there. They don’t need a vampire in their chix-mix. Besides what about the Beastmaster? You can’t expect me to bow out of fighting whatever that is to help a bunch of little girls learn how to be Slayers,” Spike argued.

“As far all we know is that the Beastmaster is incorporeal,” Angel countered. “Until we can get it to manifest, the best place for you is helping in Sunnydale. I know you, Spike. You need something physical you can fight.”

“You invite me to move here permanently then skidaddle when the Big Bad comes a knocking, leaving me to babysit my insane Sire, and when we get you back for a happy ending, innuendo intended, you tell me to sod off again?”

“I do still want you to live here permanently. If you remember, I said you ought to close up the mansion back in Sunnydale and move here. Now is your opportunity to do that. Go back to Sunnydale, pack up all of your stuff, and send it down here. Meanwhile, help out Buffy when you can,” Angel elucidated.

They both turned to look when the door opened and Faith walked outside.

“Hey,” Faith greeted. She leaned forward on the railing on the other side of Angel.

“How are you feeling?” Angel asked.

“Like I did mushrooms and got eaten by a bear,” Faith smirked. "Bad mushrooms and a worse bear."

“That about sums it up,” Angel acknowledged.

“Yep,” Faith nodded.

“And now you’re going to Sunnydale,” Angel said.

“I think I prefer the bear, but the way Willow talks it up, that’s where I’m needed,” Faith rationalized.

“Never stop fighting,” Angel reiterated his earlier comment.

“Hey,” Faith smiled and she bumped his shoulder. “I was going to, but someone got all pep-talky on me.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you – our little brain tour notwithstanding,” Angel said regretfully.

Faith smiled. “Another time.”

Angel stood up. “I have a lot to thank you for.” He looked over at Spike. “Both of you.”

“Well, that vice is plenty versa,” Faith said, speaking for herself. “Don't get me started, it’s only going to lead to hugging and warm, snuggly feelings. Next, you'll be asking me for relationship advice –” she shrugged and smiled.

“Right,” Angel agreed. “We can’t have that.”

The three of them walked back inside the hotel.

Gunn perked up when he saw Faith. “You headed out?”

“Yeah, no tears, big guy,” Faith quipped, and gave Gunn a high five.

“Nah, I’m good. Cordelia had a little scare upstairs and I missed out on the big man here getting his soul back,” Gunn said gesturing to Angel.

Faith turned to the former Watcher. “Wes.”

“Faith,” Wesley nodded.

“See. Brits know how to say goodbye,” Faith observed. “Angel here wanted a hug.”

“Yeah, but I figured it'd go from a hug to a kiss, and then – who knows?” Angel added, getting a grin and shake of the head from Faith and making Spike snicker as he went upstairs.

“That’s pretty much it,” Wesley confirmed.

Fred walked out of Angel’s office with Willow, who had a book in her hands. “I think that volume’s outdated,” Fred was saying. “You’d know better than me, but there’s some interesting stuff about Hellmouths. It might help.”

“This is great,” Willow said as she flipped through the book.

Everyone had a knowing look on their faces as Fred blushed. “I have to say, someday I’d love to bend your ear about the Pergamum Codex. I-I think some of the really obscure passages are actually Latin, translated from a demonic tongue, and they’re kind of a hoot.” She giggled. “All this stuff about Bacchanals and spells and – actually, I think it’s probably funnier in Latin. You know how that is sometimes.”

Willow gave her an uncomfortable smile. “I’m seeing someone.”

“Time goes by, Will,” Faith prompted the witch.

Spike came downstairs with a duffel bag of clothes. “Are you two ready to go, yet?”

Willow glanced at Spike and then said, “Yeah, okay, Good. Wagons west. See you guys.”

“Willow –” Angel trailed off.

Faith smirked. “He’s going to tell you how much he owes you.”

“Aw, don’t mention it. I got a Slayer out of the deal, so we’re even-Steven.” She hugged Angel. “I’ll tell Buffy you said hi.” She looked back at Spike. “Why is he going with us, again?”

“He’s going up to close up the mansion and move down here permanently, after he’s done helping you out with the latest crisis on the Hellmouth,” Angel explained.

Willow nodded and followed Spike and Faith to the front door of the hotel where she stopped and turned around, “Oh, um, next time you guys resurrect Angelus, call me first, okay?”

They watched Willow, Faith, and Spike walk out the front door. Angel sighed and turned to face the group.

“So, we’re back,” Angel announced.

“It would seem,” Wesley agreed.

“Look, I know things have been –” Angel started to say.

He was cut off as the mysterious voice that tormented Angelus echoed through the hotel, “If this is the speech about how the worst is behind you, you are dead wrong.”
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