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From Hell And Back.

Willow walked in after her last class to see Giles swamped in books as usual, but like hers his mind was somewhere else. All of them were just going through the motions. "Any news?" She asked nervously.

"None." Giles almost snapped back, making her jump. "I'm sorry Willow," he apologised instantly. "I'm just con........"

"Concerned," Willow cut in. "I know, we all are. Have you checked the mansion yet?"

"Yesterday night." And the night before and the night before that. "I'll make another call to it on my way to Mrs Summers. I've still got to explain all of this to her."


Giles pushed open the door of the giant mansion where, only four weeks ago, a vortex had opened that had almost sucked the world into hell. But the slayer had stopped that. And then she had disappeared. No note, nothing, just gone. He stood still, in watcher mode, listening for any sounds that might betray a person. But all he heard was....... crying. For a moment he stayed in his position, scarcely daring to believe it. "Buffy?" He called out, beginning to walk forward in the direction of the sound. The crying had not stopped. But as Giles got nearer, he realised that it could not be her, for his gaze fell on someone else, in the corner of the main room, curled in a ball, a blanket wrapped around for warmth. Angel.

"Angel, it's me, Giles, Rupert Giles." He looked up at the sound of the voice, his feral eyes glowing. Slowly he started to shake his head, "no, no, no, I'm no one, no one."

Seeing that until Angel gained his senses there was nothing he could do, Giles got up and went to see if there was a phone in the mansion. He found one, still working in the hall. Quickly he phoned Willow's. He was going to need someone to watch him, while he went to Mrs Summers.


"Buffy? Oh Mr Giles, I didn't expect to see you."

"I thought I should come. I had to, to tell you why Buffy has left."

"You know where she is?"

"I wish that I did."

Mrs Summers lead him inside to the living room and sat down. "What she tell you, before she left, Mrs Summers?"

"It was horrible, that night, I was just getting home when I met her. She was with a boy, Spike was his name and we were about to go inside when suddenly these people with strange faces came out. Suddenly she started kicking them off her, and that Spike fellow helped. Then she did the strangest thing. I'm sorry this must seem ridiculous to you."

"No please continue."

"She got out this stake and put it through them. Then they just disintegrated. Then she turned round and said she was a vampire slayer. Mr Giles what is the truth of this?"

"Mrs Summers, what your daughter told you is true."


"Er, how do I begin?"

"Start at the beginning."

"Okay, When Buffy was fifteen, at Emery, she encountered a countryman of mine, called Merrick. He like me had been acquainted with the legend. He began like others before him to other slayers, to tell her that the world is older than any of us know. And that it did not start with Adam and Eve. Hell ruled the earth, until humans began to evolve. The last demon to leave bit on a human, who became possessed by the demon's soul. He bit another and another, and so the vampires began." He paused and looked to see if she was getting this , before continuing.

"They were what you saw that night, Mrs Summers, including Spike, who I'll come to in a moment. As long as there have been vampires, there has been the slayer. One girl in all the world a chosen one, endowed with from birth abnormal strength and instinct with which to stop them. When one dies, another is called, usually by the only person that knows their secret. These people are sent to train her, to instruct her, to prepare her for the troubles to come. Myself and Merrick were of these people, what we called watchers.

"The reason why Buffy got expelled was not just because she blew up the gym, but because certain prophecies came to pass, that would call her to another place to fight the battle. There were vampires in that gym and she managed to defeat them, by blowing it up. You and her didn't just move here because Sunnydale was the only place willing to take her, but because of the forces that surround this place. You've heard about the countless missing or dead people of this town. All of them have been caused by vampires and other demons, who like Buffy are all drawn to this place. There are 44 churches here and for that very reason.

"When Buffy came here she wanted to forget, to be a normal girl. But she couldn't avoid it. I had been sent to be her watcher and not knowing her I pushed her into it once more. She resisted, until matters were taken out of our hands. Your daughter is a hero, Mrs Summers and the reason why she ran was................"

"Because I told her not to come back," Joyce Summers said, breaking down.


"Angel? Angel it's us. Do you remember where you are?"

After assuring Mrs Summers that it was not her fault, and acquainting her with the rest of the details, Giles, along with her, had gone back to the mansion where Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Oz were waiting for him, watching Angel, to see if he regain his senses. His soul had returned, they had gathered that by his intense fear of everyone. Now, he was dressed and sitting on one of the sofas.

"I'm in Spike's mansion. What's happened Giles, I feel like I haven't been here for weeks."

"What was the last thing you remember?"

Angel shuddered at that and looked down at his hands. "Being tortured." He looked up and then around the room. "Where's Buffy?" He asked, concern written all over his face.

"She's been missing ever since the vortex closed," Willow told him as she came back in the room, a mug of fresh butcher's blood in her hand to calm Angel down with.


"You don't remember?" Giles looked at him puzzled.

"All I remember is where I've been for the past.........." suddenly his eyes turned yellow, startling everyone, who all began to panic for a second. Willow quickly put the mug down in front of him, waiting for him to calm down and take it. "This is a trick."

"No, it isn't Angel. You lost your soul, remember?" at Giles' words the suspicious expression went to be replaced by shock. He had sworn to himself to make sure he never lost it. He never wanted Buffy to see Angelus. Suddenly he began to shake as memories came flooding back. He put his hands to his head, crying "Oh my god, what I have done?"


"God, Giles I am so, so sorry," Angel said when he had stopped. By now the apology could have been left unsaid, his breakdown had drawn everybody to his side. Especially when Oz mentioned the bruises that littered his body, the evidence that he went to hell as Angel and not his evil other half. That was nothing, though, compared to the pain of Buffy's disappearance.

Willow handed him the mug of blood and Angel took it gratefully, drinking straight away, his face unchanged from his good soul. Which was odd in itself. It got even more odd when Angel suddenly spat out the blood he had just taken in, back into the mug and looked at Willow. "What was that?"

"Blood. You remember blood, Deadboy?" Xander quipped.

"Oh, I forgot to say. They took him away from me, Angelus."

"How?" Giles looked at him puzzled.

"They wanted me to suffer, but survive until they had finished with me. They took the demon away, leaving his strength inside me. But to be honest, Buffy was the only thing that kept me from dying."

The Slayerettes gazed at him in new shock. They had only just got used to him being back and now he was human. His wish had been granted but at the moment he did not care.

"Did she leave a note? Any clue?" Angel asked Mrs Summers. She shook her head. "I've got to find her," he said, standing up. His body disagreed with him as he collapsed back on the sofa, breathing heavily.

"What you need to do is gain back your strength," Giles said firmly.

"Giles, Buffy left because she felt she had no one left. I need to find her to tell her that she does, before it's too late."

"You don't think she'll do something, do you?" Willow asked.

"I think she might just give up. I can't let that happen, she's not meant to die, not yet." Angel looked at Giles, resolution on his face. "I'm the only one that can go Giles. You're not just her watcher, you're the librarian. If you go, Snyder will get suspicious. I know all the places to look. If she wants to be found, I'll find her."

"Okay, but first you need to eat," Giles said, getting up to get the phone. "You haven't eaten in how long?"

"Two hundred and forty-three years."


It was a week after the fight in hell. Instead of returning to Sunnydale Buffy had found somewhere else to sleep. She had nothing to go back to, she had known that the day she left.

She still fought vampires, although sometimes she wondered if she was doing the right thing. There seemed to be no point now.

She sensed another group behind her. "Okay, where's the party?" She asked rhetorically, turning round to face them. There were ten of them, about the most she had to face. As usual she began to fight, her slayer mode kicking in instantly. After she staked six of them, another twelve joined the group. She realised that this was it. Her last battle. She dropped her stake and offered herself to nearest one. He chuckled, hardly believing his luck. The blood of a slayer. Buffy prayed it would be quick. The vampire grabbed her neck and prepared to sink his teeth into it.
However before he could he was turned to dust.


Buffy struggled from the stranger's grasp, but he stopped her instantly, sweeping her into his arms and taking her away from the graveyard. When they reached the motel he was staying at he carried her to his room and laid her down on the bed.

"Let me fight them!" She cried out, but the stranger seemed oblivious to her want of death, instead he put the bedclothes over her thin body and gave her a glass of whiskey to calm her down. She stopped struggling and instead did the thing she had not done in weeks, fallen asleep.


Buffy woke, to found herself in someone's arms. They were familiar arms, ones she had not felt in a long while. She looked up, saw her beloved's face and gasped. "You're dead."

Angel smiled lovingly at her. "I was, but I came back."


"For you."

"No," she whispered, hardly able to believe him. He caressed her face and then kissed her tenderly. At first she resisted, unwilling to believe, but then her feelings overcame the fight and she kissed him back. "Is this a dream?" She asked. Angel drew her hand to his beating heart and replied, "what do you think?"


"Rupert Giles."

"It's me, Angel. I've found her."

"Thank god. Excuse me for a moment." Giles looked up at Willow. "Get Mrs Summers. Angel's found her." Then he turned back to the phone. "How is she?"

"A wreck. She's so thin, she looks like she hasn't had food in weeks."

"Can I speak to her?"

"She's asleep at the moment, although it took me a long while to get her there. When I found her, she was surrounded by a group of vampires. They must have heard she was coming somehow. Giles, if I had been five seconds later......."

"What, couldn't she fight them?"

"Worse than that. She gave up. She suddenly dropped her stake and offered herself to one of them. He was chuckling when I staked him." Angel paused and looked briefly at his beloved, who was struggling in her sleep. "I better get back to her."

"When are you coming back?"

"When she's well. I can't bring her now, she's far too weak."

"Have you told her?"

"I tried, but I don't think she took it in. I call you before we leave." Angel put the phone down and walked back towards the motel bed where Buffy was fighting whatever demons lay in her troubled sleep. She looked so helpless. Angel hated to see her like this. Slowly he put the blankets over her and seeing she was still shivering, got into bed and gently pulled her into his arms. Memories came flooding into his head of the times he had held her like this before. Including that fateful night when he had lost his soul. Until the change he had never felt so content. He had wanted her so much but had fought it, waiting until she was ready. If he had known it would end in tragedy, he would have resisted her. But now he was human and they were free to do it again, without consequences. As long as she wanted to. Slowly he fingered his claddagh ring, smiling. He hoped he was still hers.


Buffy fought and won her dream demons. Slowly she opened her eyes and acquainted herself with her surroundings. It was a motel room, not hers. She tried to sit up and then let out a groan of pain.

"Buffy?" Angel turned round at the sound and then walked to the bed, carrying a mug of soup in his hands. She looked at him in shock.

"Angel? You're alive?"

"I certainly hope so. Here drink this, you need to eat." He sat down in front of her and gently put the mug to her lips. After she had drunk a little she took it in her hands. "Where are we?"

"In my motel room. Do you remember anything that happened?"

"There was a group of vamps around me. I killed six of them, then......... your motel room? But how did you rent it?"

Angel didn't answer her, instead he took her hand to his heart. She felt it beating and gasped. "But how?"

"It's a long story. I don't want to tell you it until I know you're better. Then we can go back to Sunnydale, together."

"I can't, I can't go back."

"Yes you can. You've been cleared of Kendra's murder and everyone is missing you. Especially your mother."

"But she told me never to come back if I walked out."

"Giles explained it all to her. You've been gone for five weeks. She's too worried to be angry with you." Angel paused to take the mug out of her shaking hands. He took them in his and continued. "Buffy, you're going to get through this, and I'm going to be here to help you. I'm never gonna leave you again. I love you."

"This can't be real."

"It is, trust me." He leant forward and kissed her gently. "Did that feel real?"

"No, you'll have to convince me a bit more." She replied with a smile. Angel looked at her carefully. "I didn't expect you to get used to it this quickly. Believe me, I want to. But I also want you to get better. So drink your soup and then get some sleep again." Buffy shook her head. "All I see when I go to sleep is nightmares. I don't want to sleep, I want to prove that this world is true." Then she pulled him to her.

The moment Angel touched her lips, his hesitation went. There was a journey ahead of them, to be followed by explanations to family and friends, and then a return to a relatively normal life. But for now, she needed curing. In a sense they both did.

And this perhaps, was the best cure for both of them.