The phone's ring sounded like a piercing scream to Cordelia Chase as she snapped her eyes open. She looked sideways and glared at the phone lazily. With a sigh, she picked it up.
"Angel Investigations, we hope the helpless... er, no... wait..." Never fall asleep on the job, she thought. Cordelia blinked her eyes open and forced herself to concentrate. The voice on the other line was enough to do that.
"Er, Cordelia, good morning."
"Yes, it's me. Is..." He hesitated slightly. "Is Angel there?"
Cordelia sighed. "Please don't tell me it has to do with the end of the world, or whatever, because I am just so sick and tired of..."
"Cordelia," Giles snapped. "Please put Angel on."
"Fine, jeez, hold on." She didn't even bother to cover the mouthpiece as she yelled for her boss to come to the phone. "Coming," she replied sweetly to Giles.
Angel appeared several moments later. "Who is it?" he asked.
Cordelia held out the phone wordlessly and waited for him to take it. As if he were afraid it would lash out and bite, Angel hesitantly took the phone from Cordelia and put it to his ear. "Hello?"
Angel took a sharp, unnecessary breath at the sound of Giles' voice. "Sunnydale," he replied, seeing as Cordelia rolled her eyes.
"Pardon?" Giles asked.
"Nothing," Angel answered. "Anything wrong?"
"Yes, well, I am not quite certain yet," Giles said, immediately seeming to take a professional tone. "It, um, appears that Buffy has had a dream that disturbed her to a degree and I have been researching on it. However, I can't seem to find anything that could be of any use..."
"And you wanna know if I can help," Angel finished.
"Well, yes, as a matter of fact. I know that you have many... resources to your disposal that would certainly help."
Angel snorted softly. "Yeah, you could say that. But you do have your share of resources too, you know."
Giles' helpless sigh was not lost on Angel. "I'm afraid Willy knows nothing on this. In fact, I'm quite sure that no one in Sunnydale knows about this. I could be overreacting of course. Buffy's dreams are not always prophetic, but..."
"I've had dreams, too, Giles," Angel interrupted softly.
"...it's good to be on the safe... pardon? Dreams?" Angel could almost picture Giles' raised eyebrows and trademark confused look.
He pursed his lips. "I was kinda hoping it was my imagination, but then Cordy had a vision..." He trailed off, not knowing what to conclude.
"What happened in your dream?" Giles asked.
Angel looked pensive for several moments, trying to remember the dream he had had only two nights ago in detail. "Um, the army of demons, the words 'more will come' were definitely a highlight..."
"Remarkable," Giles breathed.
"It's almost as if you and Buffy are... sharing dreams again."
Angel shook his head quickly, knowing that Giles couldn't really see. No, he knew it wasn't just a dream. If Buffy was seeing the same things in her sleep, it must've meant that the memories had simply been taken away from her immediate memory and had been resting in a far away place of her mind. They were there and somehow, they were being used to warn her of something to come. And if that was the case, then they were probably up against something big. "No, Giles," Angel replied. "I know what it is, but I can't explain it." He stopped and sighed reluctantly. "Do you want me to, uh, go back and help?" He chose to ignore the way Cordelia was wildly waving her hands and shaking her head no.
"That would be most appreciated, yes, thank you, Angel," Giles stated. "But this time... I believe you should inform Buffy of your presence."
Again, Angel sighed with some reluctance. "Yeah, I think so, too."
They said their goodbyes and hung up the phone. Angel glanced up to see Cordelia sigh and plop down on her chair. "Looks like it's back to Sunnydale for us," he told her.
"Why'd you go and do that for?" she asked.
"They need us, Cordy, and I can't just abandon them. Plus, if it's the end of the world, the world does include us..."
"Don't you mean 'abandon her?'"
Angel looked at Cordy and shook his head. "I won't deny that I still care for her. But she moved on, she has a nice, normal boyfriend that can give her everything I can't, and I am in no way expecting anything from her out of this visit."
With raised eyebrows, Cordelia stood up and walked around to feel his forehead. She nodded, as if it explained everything. "Yeah, that's it. You have a fever, because you have to be delusional to actually say you believe that."
Angel ignored her. "She has a nice, normal boyfriend who can give her everything I never could..." he repeated. Everything I could've...
Her feet were taken from under her and she dropped gracefully to the ground. Immediately, she stood up and faced her opponent again. The stake she carefully held on her right hand created a reassuring sense of belonging. This was what she did. This was what she was good that. And in this, no one could easily beat her.
She twirled the stake around a few times as she lashed out with a kick, a punch, and drove the stake home. She looked on with satisfaction as the vampire turned to dust right before her eyes. She jumped slightly and whirled around as she heard clapping.
"Riley, what are you doing here?"
"Just came to enjoy the show," he said with a smile. "They don't stand a chance against you. Why do they insist?"
Buffy shrugged and glanced around to make sure there were no more. She definitely sensed something, but she couldn't put her finger on it. "They all think they're better than the Master or something, if they think they're gonna do what he couldn't," she replied. "And anyway, what are you doing here? I thought I told you not to come patrolling unless you have weapons or at least something to defend yourself with."
Riley shrugged and walked over to her to place a gently kiss on her lips. "I didn't come here to fight."
"Yeah, well, I did," Buffy answered, feeling a sudden sense of deja vý. Where had she heard that before? "And unless you wanna be on the other end, I strongly suggest you don't sneak up on me like that."
"I'll keep that in mind," Riley replied with a grin.
Returning the grin, she asked softly, "Walk me over to Giles'? I need to talk to him."
Riley nodded. "Sure."
Angel watched carefully as Buffy and her new boyfriend talked for a few moments. They turned around and walked off together, her arm around his waist and his arm around her shoulders. It pained him to see her with someone else, but it was for the best.
And maybe if he said that enough times, he might've actually believed it, too.
Before he could let himself start brooding and pitying himself again, he snapped out of it and looked around, trying to see if there was anything Buffy had missed. He was really in the need to pummel something. As he started walking out to the cemetery, passing by some fresh and older graves, some that he even recognized as some of his own victims from his "bad days" two years back, he started to feel a presence. Faint, but there.
He glanced around warily, like a predator watching for his prey, turning around and trying to pinpoint the location of his would be assailant... only he felt like the prey, instead. Sensing a sound from some nearby bushes, he whirled around just in time to see a pair of eyes retreat back into the shadows. He was about to follow when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Reacting solely on instinct, he jumped back and brought his fist, fully prepared to slam it into his opponent's face.
He caught himself just in time. "Cordy," he breathed.
"You slam that thing into my face and I swear, Slayer or not, demon or not, I will kick your ass all the way into next week," Cordelia replied in a dangerous voice. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to..."
"Sorry," Angel said, not wanting to listen to her babble on about make up and plastic surgery. He turned around again, searching for his earlier target. "You should know by now not to sneak up on me like that."
She shrugged. "Whatever. I just saw Buffy and her new boytoy walking away. Aren't you gonna talk to her?"
Angel shook his head. "I'm going to Giles' first." He turned to face her again. "Where's Wesley?"
"With Giles," she answered. "Actually, I just came from there. Giles wants to talk to you about some dream or something. He already drilled me for my vision. Believe me, no fun."
"Let's go," Angel murmured.
With one last look, Cordelia and Angel walked away from the cemetery... and from the pair of eyes still watching from the shadows.
Buffy opened the door to see both of her former Watchers talking eagerly and comparing notes. She raised her eyebrows at the amusing sight.
"There is something seriously wrong with this picture," she muttered, stepping aside and letting Riley in.
"Oh, Buffy, good, you're here," Giles noted. "Um, Wesley, this is Buffy's boyfriend Riley Finn." Both men exchanged nods of acknowledgement.
"So, what's the up? And what's Wesley doing here? Didn't you go back to England or something?"
"Yes, well," Wesley began, "I decided to leave the Council and become a rogue demon hunter."
"A what?" Buffy asked, puzzled.
"A rogue demon hunter," Wesley repeated. "It's..."
"Complete with leather and all," a new, familiar voice said from behind her.
Buffy grinned and turned around. "Cordy!" she exclaimed, only to notice that Cordelia wasn't alone.
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