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Author's Note: Apart from a few lines taken from Lullaby, the episode continues from where Of Past Regret and Future Concern left off. And I included a nice B/A scene for you. Enjoy.

Negotiations.

The lights were turned up to dim, making all of them blink, then take in their surroundings, as their enemy stepped forward.

"Angelus," Holtz remarked. "I've been looking for you."

"Holtz," Angel murmured in surprise, as he and his team came to a halt. He took half a step forward, while Buffy stayed back, and whispered to the rest of the group. "Holtz was one of Angelus and Darla's enemies back in the late eighteenth to nineteenth centuries. They murdered his entire family, and turned his daughter, and left them for Holtz to find. In revenge, he made the rest of his life a mission to hunt them down and kill them."

"I must confess that I was surprised to learn that you have lived this long," Holtz remarked, "but I see now that you have acquired more helpers." He looked at the group of people behind his enemy, a slight puzzlement cresting his expression. "I see that there are a few new faces to this team, and a few which have disappeared. Where is Darla?"

"The Tro-clan - the prophecy - raised up from darkness to bring darkness. That's you," Angel concluded aloud. "My god."

"You have no god, demon. And as for you raised me, you did. You and your demon bitch. For two hundred years I slept. For two hundred years I dreamt of nothing but this moment."

"Which would explain why you look so well rested," Buffy remarked, stepping forward, coming to a halt at Angel's side.

Holtz turned to look at her. "You're new. Darla must hate you."

"Darla's dead," Buffy replied. "She died a long time ago," she added, which was not entirely true, but this was a negotiation for her soulmate's life; they did not have time for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. "As did Angelus."

"Then why do I see him standing before me?" Holtz countered.

"Because one lonely night in Rumania, in 1898, the vampire Angelus was cursed with a soul," Buffy replied. "For the next hundred years he learned to fight the good fight, and then was granted the gift of humanity."

"A soul?" Holtz queried. "That's impossible."

"As impossible as you, a man who was born in the eighteenth century, suddenly waking up in the twenty-first?" Buffy countered.

"Who brought you back?" Angel asked. "Was it a demon or something else? Did something come to you, or did you seek it out? What did you have to give up for this second chance?"

"Give up?" Holtz echoed. "I had nothing to give up. You saw to that."

"We took a lot from you, that's true," Angel admitted. "But we didn't get everything. We couldn't take your soul."

"What do you know of a soul?" Holtz asked. "And do not repeat that story of you being cursed. That is a lie you can tell to the woman who warms your bed, not me."

"I know yours will be destroyed if you allow yourself to be used in the service of evil. You're a good man, Holtz. A righteous man, and you're being used, for some purpose other than justice."

Holtz stepped forward, puzzled once more. "Could it be you really have changed? I don't remember you ever pleading so cravenly before."

"He has changed," Buffy replied, stepping forward, walking until she was standing in front of Holtz. "As has his team. For one thing, I'm not just the woman who warms his bed." She shot a glance at the lackeys behind him, "Why don't you ask your demons who I am."

Holtz did not turn, keeping his eyes on Buffy as he asked. "Who is she?"

"She is the vampire slayer, Captain," replied one of the demons. "It would be wise not to anger her, sir. She is very powerful."

Holtz looked at her, even more puzzled. "A vampire slayer? What kind of a vampire slayer has, whatever you are now, for a lover?"

"A vampire slayer, who encountered Angelus cursed with a soul over six years ago," Buffy replied. "Who fought beside her, until the time came for him to seek out his own mission to fight the good fight. Until the Powers that be rewarded him by granting humanity." She reached up to her neck, and undid the necklace she wearing. Slowly she handed the sliver cross to Holtz. "Angel gave me this six years ago. As you can see, it is a perfectly ordinary cross. Touch it."

Holtz obeyed, then Buffy raised her hand in the air. "A cross should burn a vampire, should it not?" She waited for the man to nod, then she turned her head to those behind her. "Angel, catch."

Angel deftly caught the cross which was flung at him with one hand. Understanding what his girlfriend was trying to do, he clasped the cross in his hand, careful not to crush the sliver. He then put it around his neck, the chain being big enough to let the cross rest on the same spot where it had burned him so many years ago, after Buffy had kissed him for the second time. Then he raised his hand and held it up palm open to Holtz, so he could see that it was completely unmarred by burns.

Buffy silently motioned him to come forward. Angel joined her, lowering his hand as he did so. He came to a halt by her, facing the still startled Holtz, and stood still as Buffy opened his shirt to reveal his bare chest, then took Holtz's hand and placed it on Angel's chest, on the patch of skin which covered his heart. "There," she remarked, "can you feel it beating, Holtz? The Angelus you knew, was vanquished by the gypsies a long time ago. The Angel you see before you, carries his memories, inhabits his body, but his soul is Liam O'Connor's soul, and his humanity was a redemption from the Powers that be."

Holtz rested his hand on Angel's chest, felt the beating of his heart beneath the skin, and began to believe.


"And his humanity was a redemption from the Powers that be," the slayer finished, before a hand came out and stopped the surveillance tape from recording.

Lilah Morgan ejected the tape and rapidly inserted a blank one, thankful that only herself was in the basement, home of Parks' 'little project' and thus the only one to discover this new piece of new information. Suddenly all her plans, as well of those of her colleagues at Wolfram and Hart, were all gone to hell.

She had arrived early, long before her colleague Gavin Parks, and had come down to the basement to see how Sahjhan's minion Holtz would deal with Angel and the slayer and the team, hoping to see all her problems taken care of. However, the slayer had managed to talk Holtz down, and reveal an interesting, if rather annoying fact about Angel.

He was human. Human. How on earth had they missed that? When had he ceased to be the cursed vampire that was so useful to all of them, bar herself, who wished for him to simply be killed now?

Lilah locked the basement door, then took the chair in front of the surveillance cameras, viewing the next footage, though her mind was no longer listening to the conversation. Instead she was trying to figure out exactly when this change had taken place.

It had to be out of town, she concluded. The surveillance had begun shortly after the Hyperion was swept for insect infestation, and none of the team had been out of the city since then. So it must have been in the summer, when Lilah had heard about the death of the slayer from their contacts in Sunnydale.

Suddenly she had a few more pieces of the puzzle. The slayer's witch friend, must have raised her from the dead. She had the power to do that. But Angel's humanity, and the slayer's cleansing from all the dark magic which was used to raise a dead person- the only such magic which could be used for such a spell -must have done by much more powerful and much more knowledgeable about good magic, witches.

The Charmed Ones. Lilah had heard about them through Wolfram and Hart's San Francisco office. They had managed to cost that branch's once most powerful asset; Assistant District Attorney Cole Turner, into ally for good. And now they were responsible for giving Los Angeles a human Angel, and the return of the most powerful slayer.

Lilah had no idea what would happen next. None of this the psychics or mind readers had seen this coming. A human Angel was not part of their plans or agendas.

A human Angel was useless to all of them. Along with Sahjhan and Holtz.

Lilah smiled, and took out her cellphone.

Well, at least she could take care of two of them.


The demons were sent out of the Hyperion after that. At first they had objected to Holtz's order, but then Buffy had offered to fight one of them and any objection was done away with.

Holtz was then introduced to the rest of the group, by Wesley stepping forward and telling him of his background and his present status as leader of this group, in which Buffy and Angel were the most powerful warriors for the good fight. He also came to learn of other things.

"So you killed Darla?" Holtz asked Angel, a part of him still startled to believe that he was sitting across from the person who was once his greatest enemy.

"Yes I did," Angel replied. "Twice."

"Twice?"

"Darla was first killed by Angel about six years ago," Buffy explained. "In killing her then, Angel saved my life. But recently, a powerful law firm here, Wolfram and Hart, brought Darla back from the underworld and turned her, then sent her after Angel once more. She was killed again by him just a few months ago."

"But you were her companion for so long."

"Angelus was," Angel replied. "And he knew nothing of love. When I was given my soul, I left Darla, and wandered the world. When I met Buffy, that is when I knew what love was." He looked at Holtz. "I wish I could bring back your family. I wish what happened to them, hadn't happened. But I can't and it did."

"I know that now," Holtz replied. "Perhaps I should not have accepted him."

"Who?" Buffy asked.

"Oh, it doesn't matter, I'll take care of him. Then may be, I can begin to mourn their deaths, something I never did in my desire for revenge."

"You're welcome to join us," Wesley offered. "I know Angel would have no objection. We could use someone like you."

Holtz shook his head. "I don't think so. I have very little idea of how to live in this new world. No, I have something to do, and then perhaps I shall join a monastery. You still have those?"

"Yes," Angel replied. "Catholic, still?" Holtz nodded. "We'll look up the nearest one in that faith and give you the directions."

"Thank you," Holtz replied, before chuckling. "Though I never thought I would say that to you, of all people."

"I never thought I would see you again," Angel remarked. "Or be redeemed, for that matter."

"This future is very strange," Holtz agreed. "I shall be glad when I can shut myself away from it, and grieve."


"So, you think it really was just Holtz?"

Buffy looked up at her soulmate, and there was a small pause as her mind returned from the afterglow of their loving making session, which they had begun since darkness had struck the city of angels, which was some hours ago. "What was?"

"That the Nyazian scroll foretold the birth of," Angel added, repeating the conclusion which Wesley had formed after looking at the scroll once more when Holtz had left them.

"Him, and whoever or whatever it was that called him," Buffy decided, as she rested her hair against his chest, listening the beating of his heart, which was but a short distance from her ear. "Was that all that you were thinking about?" She asked coyly.

Angel drew his arms around her more securely. "No, of course not. I was also remembering our first time. Just before we fell asleep, listening to the sound of the rain pounding on the window." He bent his head and kissed her blond locks. "Holding you in my arms, and feeling alive for the first time in over two hundred years." He dealt another kiss. "I'm just sorry that the morning after ruined your first time."

"It didn't," Buffy replied.

"It didn't?" Angel echoed.

"No," Buffy assured him, turning over in his arms so she could she see him better. "True, I was upset after I visited your place and saw him, but when I thought I had lost you forever, I learned to focus on the night itself, and the act. And how you made me feel." She paused to smile at him. "And I realised that I could not have had a better first time. You made me feel safe, protected, beautiful, precious and loved. I couldn't have asked for anything more."

"I meant what I said to you when I withdrew," Angel said softly, looking her, with the expression that Buffy could swear was the same one which had appeared on his face that fateful night. "That being inside you made me feel like I belonged, for the first time in my entire existence."

"And I meant what I said to you. That I can never love anyone else the same way." Silently she moved forward and sealed the declaration with a kiss.

"Turn round," Angel uttered softly when they parted, "it time I returned this to you," he added by way of explanation, as temporarily withdrew his arms to reach behind his neck with his hands and undo the clasp on the cross' chain. Then he moved and put it back around her neck.

Buffy leaned forward, sitting up so he could fasten the clasp, shivering a little as the cold metal touched her skin once more. It had been pure luck that she was wearing the cross today, although she often wore it of late, she also wore other crosses which she had been given or had brought over time. But this one was special.

Angel's hands gently clasped her bare shoulders when he was done, and bent his head to kiss her skin across the blades. Buffy sighed in pleasure and tilted her head, giving him access to her neck, which he obligingly began to kiss a few seconds later. His hands slid down her arms to caress her breasts, making her shiver once more, but this time for an entirely different reason.

Buffy closed her eyes, relishing the feel of his hands on her nipples and his mouth on her neck, until the pleasurable torture became unbearable and she began to crave a deeper connection. Then she turned round and caught his lips with hers.

Angel ran his fingers down her spine, and put his tongue to duel with hers. He groaned when she parted her legs to wrap her hips around his abdomen, grinding her sex against his own. Without separating from her lips, he drew them down back on to the silk sheet covered mattress, and gently entered her.

The rain outside soon became inaudible to the chosen warriors once more, as they grew accustomed to hearing nothing but the pounding of their hearts, as they made love, reaffirming their connection to each other's souls once more.


"You knew. You knew and you didn't tell me."

Sahjhan backed away from his once ready to do his bidding colleague. When he reached the wall, he admitted the truth. "Okay! So I left out one teeny weeny little detail. It didn't seem all that important."

"Not important? Angelus with a soul?"

"It doesn't mean anything!" Sahjhan protested.

"It means everything," Holtz countered.

"See? This is why I didn't mention it. So Angel has a soul. Big whoop! So did Attila the Hun! Not to mention a heart as big as all outdoors when it came to gift giving. He is still a vampire! Angel, not Attila."

"He's not the same vampire."

"Of course he is! His hair is a little shorter, a little spikier. He's using product. But it's the same guy."

"No. He's changed. He's different."

"Look. I don't know what kind of moral mind games you've been torturing yourself with, but you can't let this soul thing get in the way of what you swore to do."

"Get in the way?"

"That's what this is about, right? You find out Angel has a soul, now you're wondering if things are a little murkier, ethically speaking."

Holtz took out his sword and pressed its point against Sahjhan's neck. "Things have never been clearer."

He gripped his sword and readied himself to push the point home.

Which was exactly when Lilah's clean up crew decided to strike. They took the two enemies by surprise. They went about their jobs efficiently, taking care of both of them for good. And leaving no trace that any of them had ever been there.

The End.
To Be Continued In

DISCLOSURE.