The rain was still pounding outside, the thunder was still booming, the lightning was still crackling in the sky... and the Slayer and her vampire were still sound asleep in his bed. Well, the Slayer was, anyway. Angel was watching her as she stirred slightly, her eyes moving under the closed eyelids, indicating that she was dreaming. She let out a soft moan and then her eyes snapped open.
"Whoa," she whispered.
Angel was watching her intently. "You okay?"
"Yeah," she answered softly. "I'm fine, just..." She suddenly looked at him with frightened eyes. "Oh. My. God. I have no idea what came over me..."
"I do," was his gentle reply. "I knew I recognized the scent in the air." He motioned to the book lying on the bedside table. "I did some reading while you slept. There's this demon..." He grabbed the book and opened it to the marked page. "You weren't the only one affected but..."
"What demon? What's going on?"
"Here." He switched on the lamp on the bedside table and pointed at the drawing.
"Klaraph," Buffy read. "That looks like that flying... bat... that attacked us."
"That's because it is," Angel replied. "It's a magical demon. Pretty short, actually, but it has a flying advantage, like you saw. It also has the ability to 'invoke magic that will influence a sentient being's emotions,'" he read.
"You mean that thing was working its mojo on me?" Buffy asked looking up at Angel with wide eyes.
"And me," Angel added. "Only since I'm a vampire, all it did was cloud my mind. I'm really sorry, I should stopped it--"
Buffy held up a hand suddenly. "Wait," she interrupted. "Shouldn't you be a little less... soulful?"
Angel blinked, not even having thought of that. "I should," he replied.
Setting her mouth in a straight line, Buffy's eyes went back to the book. She chose to ignore her personal emotions for the moment and try to concentrate on the situation. "Okay, End of Days, army of demons," she murmured. "There should be more of these guys, right? I mean, if there's a whole army of them--"
"There could be a whole army of them working their magic on us and who knows who else," Angel finished.
"Meaning we should go to Giles' and find a spell to stop it so we can kill 'em."
"Sounds good to me," Angel muttered, watching as she threw the covers off her and rolled on top of him, since he was between her and the edge of the bed. It was still raining outside, but the thunder and lightning had stopped. Angel figured that while they got dressed, the rain would stop as well.
Buffy hunted for her earlier outfit, which had fallen on the floor sometime during their romp earlier that night.
"Look," Angel said as he sat up and looked at her. "I really am sorry. For everything. I really have no right to come here and assume a place back in your life. And I really should have stopped this. You have a new life, a new lover..."
"Riley's not my lover," Buffy interrupted hotly. "I only make the same mistake twice."
While Angel wondered at her words, Buffy stood with her clothes gathered under her arms and made her way to the bathroom.
"We can talk about this later," Buffy called from the bathroom door. "There's more important things to worry about right now."
Riley paced back and forth back at Giles' place. "They should be back by now, right?" he asked anxiously. "I mean, what if he's evil or something? What if he's killed her while we all sit here and make small talk?"
Xander rolled his eyes. "Cork it, Captain Lilac," he said. "Patrolling takes time and it doesn't make it any easier on us when you're wearing a hole on the carpet from your pacing."
Cordelia raised an eyebrow. "'Captain Lilac?'"
"Well, pardon me for caring that my girlfriend is out with some psycho vampire killer with no one to protect her!" Riley replied.
"Protect her?" Anya spoke up for the first time that night, looking up from her nails. "Little Miss Slayer needs to be protected? That's new..." She went back to inspecting her nails.
"She's right," Xander answered. "Buffy can take perfectly good care of herself without you worrying your pansy ass off about her."
"Besides," Cordelia commented. "She didn't seem all that worried that he'd kill her when she jumped into his bed." She returned Riley's glare and smiled innocently. Five minutes in the same room with him and she already wished she could have superpowers so that she could kill him.
Just when Cordelia had been starting to praise Buffy for her taste in men(for Angel), Buffy had to go and ruin it by going out with Riley. What she saw in him was beyond her.
"Guys!" Willow cried. "This isn't the time for bickering! We have to figure what's going to happen so that we can stop it."
"Quite right," Giles spoke up. He and Wesley had been scanning the books for any mention of End of Days and had come up empty-handed so far. "Riley, Xander's right..."
"I am?" Xander asked.
"...Buffy can take perfectly good care of herself. We all trust Angel here and if you can't, you will just have to deal with it," Giles finished. "Now, if you're all quite finished, I think we can..."
He didn't get to finish as the door was thrown open and Buffy stormed in, Angel on her heels. Everyone looked up, surprised as Buffy stood in the middle of the room with her arms crossed across her chest; Angel was standing protectively next to her.
"I think you can stop the research now," she stated.
Giles blinked. "You found something?"
"Yeah!" Buffy cried suddenly. She uncrossed her arms and her expression suddenly became that of a frustrated five year old. "A flying demon! How come you never told me about a flying demon?"
"A flying demon?" Giles asked. He started mumbling and cursing under his breath as he turned around and started looking for a specific book. "A flying demon... there are many of those. It... it could be a Moshna, a- a Gyrup, or a Klaraph, a Hathra, perhaps even a..."
"Klaraph," Angel said.
"Yes, I said that," Giles replied distractedly as he kept sorting through his precious books. "Damn! Where is it?"
"Giles!" Buffy exclaimed as she walked over to him and put a restraining hand on his arm. "It's a Klaraph. Angel did the research already."
With a start, Giles looked up at Angel. "What did you find?"
Angel reached into his coat and brought out a medium-sized, leather bound, dust covered book and handed it to Giles. "This has some interesting information on a Klaraph. The most interesting being-" he stopped as he searched for the part in the book- "it can cast spells."
Giles narrowed his eyes as he examined the text. "It can, indeed," he murmured. "This is dangerous. If it casts a spell on you..."
Buffy blushed and looked down, hoping no one noticed. Suddenly, she felt uncomfortable being in the room with all her friends. "It already did," she said softly.
Giles didn't hear her as he continued to look through the text. "Emotion spells. Those are the most common, apparently. They, uh, affect a person's judgment, clouds their minds, or, well... it has the ability to bring out deeply buried feelings, dreams, thoughts, or memories a person might have." He glanced up at Buffy, suddenly realizing what she had said. "What was that?"
Buffy felt her friends'--and her boyfriend's-- stare on her and she shook her head. "No biggie, really. Is there a counter-spell or something? Will?" She turned to face her best friend.
Willow nodded. "Nothing I can think of right now, but I know there should be something."
Buffy smiled gratefully. "Thanks."
"And meanwhile," Xander spoke up suddenly, "I'll get the chocolate!"
While Willow was busy flipping through the pages of one of her magic books, Giles and Wesley were flipping through those of a couple of others. Xander sat in the loveseat with a book open on the table in front of him, Anya lying beside him and asleep on his chest. Though Xander was paying more attention to the Snickers bar with its caramel dripping on his chin than to the book.
Cordelia and Riley were each sitting on one end of the couch, reading the books on their laps. She had moved as far away as possible from him earlier and still tried to move some more every once in a while even though she was already at the edge.
On the other side of the room, each on a separate chair, sat Buffy and Angel. The books were open in front of them but as much as they tried to concentrate, neither was paying attention to the words. Buffy sighed and looked up in frustration.
"I'm never gonna find anything," she muttered to herself. "I suck at research."
"Would you rather go patrol?" Angel asked.
Startled, Buffy looked sideways at him. "And have another close encounter of the third kind with the bat-wannabe? No, thanks."
"Look, Buffy," Angel started, but she held up a hand.
"Don't," she replied. "Really, I know what you're gonna say." She stopped and glanced at him. "But before I make a complete fool out of myself, I'll hear you out first."
He smiled. "Probably what you thought. Look, I don't wanna to hurt you again. Though it seems that's all I can actually do in your life. I just, I want you to have everything you deserve and I stand in your way. I'm sorry about what happened..." At her hurt expression, he amended, "I'm sorry that it can't be anything else again. And, as soon as this is all over, I'll leave and let you go back to your normal life."
Buffy shook her head. "You always do that."
"The noble, self-sacrificing thing," she replied. "You're afraid and you dress it up to look like you're doing what's best. Then you come back, just as I'm starting to stop thinking about you for more than five minutes at a time and pretend I'm happy, you ruin it, and leave again with whole 'it's for the best' thing. At the end of the day, you're just being selfish."
"Don't 'Buffy' me!" she cried, standing up suddenly and knocking the chair back. Everyone looked up at them, startled. "'Buffy, this it what's best. Buffy, I'm doing this for your own good. Buffy, please don't do this. No, Buffy, you deserve someone better...'"
Realizing she was still under the influence of the spell, she shook her head and ran off in the direction of the guestroom. Deciding he would only make things worst by going after her, Angel picked up his book and headed to the couch to sit down next to Cordelia... and Riley.
"What happened?" Willow asked in a small voice.
Angel shook his head. "The spell... it clouds her judgment. She's not thinking clearly."
"Or maybe it's her buried feelings coming out," Cordelia countered.
Angel looked sharply at her, but didn't look angry for long. "Maybe..."
"No one's gonna go after her?" Xander asked.
"It would be best if we let her be," Giles said. "I don't think she was of much use in the research area, either way."
"He's right," said Angel. "We'll remove the spell, defeat the bad guys, I'll leave, and everything will go back to normal. Let's just keep searching."
No one said anything. Instead, they all obeyed and went back to flipping through the books. The answer was found where least expected for everyone except Angel and Cordelia, who had found the former Watcher to be a great help to them.
"Aha!" Wesley cried. "I believe I have found something."
Part 5 Back to Daala's fic