Author: Dark Star
DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon owns all
TIMELINE: Late in Angel’s Season 1
The light from the full moon cast an eerie glow as Buffy made her way cautiously through the trees. She could hear the sound of chanting coming from ahead of her; she used the sound to guide her to a small clearing. The Latin incantation was loud in the still night air, and Buffy saw five hooded figures arranged into a circle. A sixth figure stood silently in the centre of the group, illuminated by the moon’s gift.
Transfixed, Buffy studied the scene, her skin tingling from the energy flowing all around her. The figure in the centre began to shimmer, slowly beginning to morph and change, until Angel stood in the centre, instead. He looked confused and disorientated; slowly he turned and surveyed the group. He saw her then, and his mouth opened but there was no sound. His hand rose slowly toward her, the plea in his eyes unmistakable. ‘Help me.’
She tried to go to him but she couldn’t move, couldn’t cry out. She could only watch as he covered his ears with his hands, trying to block out the relentless chant. Then he began to scream.
Buffy woke from her dream with a start, fear flooding her senses. This wasn’t good at all.
* * *
Cordelia cautiously opened the office door and peered inside.
“Is he up, yet?”
“Not yet,” Wesley confirmed, and Cordelia came in.
“Good. Let’s hope he’s not Mr Grouchy this morning.”
“Mr Who?” Angel’s voice was gruff, almost a growl as he strode into the room.
“Oops.” Cordelia made a wry face. “Just saying that you’ve been a little…well, preoccupied lately.”
“So?” Angel’s expression was surly and uncommunicative as he got his coffee.
“What’s your problem, anyway?” she blurted out.
“My problem,” he said slowly, his voice dropping dangerously low, “Is having staff that turn up when they feel like it and spend their time chatting, when they should be working.”
Cordelia opened her mouth to reply but thought better of it. As Angel passed her on his way into his office, he gave her a look that would have withered a lesser mortal. Cordelia, however, just shrugged it off with a small smile.
Definitely not amused, the vampire slammed the office door behind him, leaving Cordelia and Wesley to quietly go about their business.
After a while, they heard him go back downstairs.
“I’m worried about him, Wesley.” Cordelia murmured.
“Perhaps he has something on his mind,” Wesley offered.
“Maybe he’s ill.” Cordelia suggested. “Can vampires get the flu?”
* * *
Angel moved slowly through the darkness, fear twisting at his insides like a knife. He saw a shifting sea of faces, victims from his past that he had horrifically killed or injured. Demons and vampires loomed at every turn; his instinct told him to fight, but he felt weak, and frightened, and he couldn’t seam to remember how.
Somewhere deep down, he knew he was dreaming, but that didn’t make the experience any less frightening, or the darkness any less cloying as it closed in around him and he felt suffocated. The darkness should be his friend, the only place he felt truly safe. But here it was the enemy, an evil thing wrapping its tendrils menacingly around him, making him feel trapped and vulnerable.
He looked around frantically, trying to find a way out. The churning mass of faces swam before him, and among the multitude of anonymous humans, there passed many that he recognised. He saw Jenny, and Daniel; Drusilla and her family were there, as was his own parents among the melee. Little Kathy, too; Angel turned away from her, unable to stand her pain, He could almost hear her sweet voice, again asking him if he were an angel, if he’d come back for her. A howl ripped from Angel’s throat, and he fled the appalling carnage; the Hell of his own making.
A light shone up ahead and he instinctively stumbled toward it. He was dimly aware that he should be afraid of the light, that it would burn him, but he didn’t care.
A figure stood in the light, a girl, and even before the face formed, he knew it was Buffy.
She looked at him with sad eyes, and silently shook her head. The light, and Buffy, suddenly winked out and he was plunged back into darkness.
“No!” He screamed after her. “No.”
* * *
Wesley stood over Angel’s sleeping form, worry etched on his face. The vampire was obviously in a great deal of distress, writhing restlessly and giving the odd cry of fear or pain.
“I can’t wake him, Cordelia.”
“I gathered that,” she came to stand next to him. “He’d probably have had your head off if you had.”
“This isn’t funny,” he said sharply. “Something is very wrong.”
“So what do we do?”
“I’m going to phone Giles. He did a lot of research last year when Angel was poisoned, perhaps he’ll be able to help.”
* * *
Buffy arrived at Angel Investigations and found Wesley and Cordelia in Angel’s bedroom.
“Hello, Buffy,” Wesley said. “Giles said you were on your way.”
“How is he?” Buffy asked, without preamble.
As if in answer, Angel, already restless, screamed. Buffy went instantly to his side. Holding onto his arms, she had to use all her strength to hold him down.
“Angel!” She called to him as she struggled to hold him, to calm him. Slowly, he stopped struggling, stopped moaning and gradually grew quiet. After a while, his body seemed to relax and grow calmer.
“Will you look at that,” Cordelia murmured in awe. “He knows she’s there.”
When Angel was resting quietly, Buffy looked up at Wesley.
“I’ve been dreaming of him. I think someone’s working the mojo on him”
“Do you know who?”
“Well, I’ve been getting something, I think it was Wolf’s Heart.”
“Wolf’s Heart?” Wesley repeated frowning. “Could it have been Wolfram and Hart?”
“Yeah, that’s it. Demons?”
“So what’s the deal?”
“Wolfram and Hart specialise in representing demons; Angel’s been causing them a lot of bother.”
“I sort of guessed that, for them to go to all this trouble.” Buffy pulled a glass phial from her pocket. “Willow’s given me a potion to try and determine if he’s under a spell; maybe try and reverse it.”
Buffy spread a small amount of the white potion on Angel’s forearm, and they watched as the colour changed to blue.
“Definitely a spell, then,” Buffy confirmed. She phoned Willow with the results of the test, and answered specific questions on Angel’s general condition. Willow went into research mode, and phoned back shortly with her recommendations.
“Willow says that it sounds as though Angel’s caught in a dream state where he can’t wake up. In effect, he’s trapped in his own mind.”
“Euw,” Cordelia muttered. “Trapped in his mind? I wouldn’t want to be in there.”
Buffy glanced at Cordelia, surprised, then carried on, “Willow said it would have to be powerful magic to hold anyone-let alone a vampire- prisoner like that. She suggests that if you and Giles read the Reversal Spell together, she’ll try to guide him out. If I can keep him calm, that would also help.”
“What can I do?” Cordelia asked, eagerly.
“Co-ordinate our efforts by phone,” Buffy told her. “It’s important that the spells all work at exactly the same time.”
“Well then,” said Wesley in his best official tone. “Let’s get the show on the road.”
* * *
Pain and fear became Angel’s world. He raced through the darkness, not knowing or caring where he was going. No longer capable of rational thought, he ran blindly; his body running on pure instinct.
A voice, soft at first, slowly began filtering through the fire that seared his mind.
“Angel.” The voice repeated itself, over and over, a woman’s soft chant in the darkness. Angel was vaguely aware that the voice sounded like Willow. Part of him acknowledged that she had never hurt him but she couldn’t really be here…it must be some kind of trick.
But the chant was insistent and he was drawn to it in spite of himself. The voice began to recede, and he stumbled after it, afraid to let go of the only human voice he’d heard since he’d been here.
Unseen hands clawed at him in the darkness, unwilling to let him escape, and they ripped at his clothes and skin with their nails and claws. He tried to tear himself away from the unwanted invasion, but the contact just grew stronger.
He cried out, and warm hands instantly grabbed him. He turned and saw Buffy looking at him. A lifeline. He grabbed at her roughly, like a drowning man. Before he could stop himself, he kissed her, fiercely, passionately; trying to regain his sanity through her. He held her tightly, savouring the taste of her; she smelt wonderful, and he marvelled at how real she felt in his arms.
He released her abruptly, opened his eyes and looked up into Buffy’s smiling face.
“This isn’t a dream, is it?” he asked sheepishly.
“No.” She smiled down at him. “Nice greeting, though.”
Buffy’s smile grew wider at Angel’s embarrassment and she leant forward and kissed his forehead. “Welcome back.”
Angel was aware that he still had his arm round Buffy’s waist. He knew he should release her, move back into the polite restraints that they’d imposed on themselves. But he couldn’t, not yet. He needed to feel her close.
He looked past Buffy and saw Cordelia and Wesley standing just behind her. Cordelia was smiling and crying at the same time, and Wesley’s stiff upper lip was… quivering.
Angel’s face suddenly split into a huge grin, and for once he didn’t care. He looked at his friends, the three people who meant the most to him, and he sighed. It was good to be back.
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