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12 July 2006 @ 02:07 pm
Walking In My Shoes (18/?)  
Title: Walking In My Shoes (18/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Posted: 7/12/06
Rating: Chapters range from PG to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Eighteen rated PG-15
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: Violence, Angst, Friendship
Scenes include: Angel, Eve, Lilah, Cordelia, Wesley, Faith, Fred, Gunn, Cyvus Vail, Connor
Summary: Written for a challenge proposed on the Stranger Things message board. Challenge By rousedower. An AU/TT Challenge: Angel goes to another dimension, hence AU, somehow. And in this dimension he is married to Cordy and they have kids. But something happened to the other Angel (he's missing or dead), so there's mad tension and what not between this Angel and AU!Cordy. She knows he's not her Angel, but the kids (a boy and girl) are pretty young and think he's their father. I imagine a scene where their little daughter asks him to read her a bedtime story/tuck her in with Cordy trying to explain to her that he's not her father (really), and he does it.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution:
Notes: Cast List: Kelly writes for Cordelia, Gunn, Lorne, Lillian, Kat, Ian, Illyria/Fred, Lilah, Eve, Faith, Gwen, Harmony, Vail, random shop owners/demons. Mike writes for Angel(us), Connor, Wes, random filler chars.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!
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[Angel had left the hotel. He didn't even take a thing. After he and Wesley talked, he turned to the sewer access and left. He'd been holding up on Merl's old place. He'd taken out a couple nests while down here then he finally decided he couldn't do this. He found himself coming up in the garage level of Wolfram & Hart.

He made his way up, still having the charm. He was using Wolfram & Hart's own mojo against them. He paused before he stepped off the elevator. Glancing around, he saw Eve. She was back from the dead. Good ol' W&H did like to keep those employees. He walked on, heading for Lilah's office, not stopping to ask Eve a thing.

Eve saw Angel though and it was enough to send her into a panic. She had to wait for W&H to grow her a new eye so for now, she had on a rather stylish eye patch. She got up from her desk, backing away. For the rest of her existence, she would also bear a mark around her neck, fingerprints against her skin that had crushed her windpipe. She hit the button for the intercom, frantic now as she tried to contact Lilah.

Angel stopped and turned to Eve. "I'm sorry."

"Ms. Morgan...Ms. Morgan...Angelus...he's..." She barely got that out before he turned and spoke to her. She was so low on the ladder, no one bothered to tell her that Angel had his soul restored. She backed herself up against the wall. "Just please, leave me alone. You don't know what you have to go through for them to bring you back!"

"Eve," he said, stepping towards her, "Angelus is gone now. He's locked away. What happened to you...that's what Wolfram & Hart has been wanting to release for so long."

She reached into her desk drawer and she held up a cross. She kept it in front of her. She had no depth perception now so it was hard to tell how close he was to her. She held it out though. "Don't come near me." She shook the cross at him.

That cross caused him to stop and look away from her. Soul or not, the sight still pained the demon in him. "I need to talk to Lilah."

"She's...She's in her office." Eve stammered. She wasn't sure if this was some kind of trick or not. But Lilah could deal with him. Eve was taking her break starting now. She started to inch away from him, moving along the wall. She already had one eye patch because of him, she didn't want two.

He turned from her and headed on to the office. When there he entered. Did he knock? Nope. He never did before, why should he start now?

Lilah had gotten the heads up from the frantic intercom message from Eve. She was waiting for Angel to show up. Its not as if she didn't have oodles of reports about what he had been up to for the past week. Given that she was no longer completely human, all the damage from Angelus had been healed. Her office looked like nothing was wrong at all, except for the missing Orbs. "How is sewer life treating you, Angel? Kind of a change from being family man for a day?"

"Open the portal and send me back," he said to her, eyes not blinking. His expression was one chiseled from stone.

"What's wrong? You don't like it here?" Lilah sat back in her chair. There was a small part of her that hoped it would come down to this. She hadn't actually believed Angel was going to do it though.

"This isn't where I belong," he told her. "I belong back in my own world to suffer whatever fate that offers." He moved closer to her desk. "I would have thought this is what you'd want. Angel here dead and well, me gone since Angelus didn't work out too well for you."

Lilah turned back to her computer. Watching Angel in pain was like every birthday, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah rolled into one. She typed on her computer, sending out emails so it could be done. "You might be surprised what I want, Angel." She glanced up at him and then went back to typing. She was going to save this and goad him to the very edge. "Not sleeping to well I take it? What's wrong? You reach for her and she isn't there?"

"Don't push me, Lilah," he warned her. "Don't mistake on this side like your counter did that I won't kill a human...especially when she's not totally human. And yes, I know they'll bring you back but you could have some badly mangled parts to go along with the deal."

"Did you not see the title on the door? I won't end up like Eve if you decide to start removing body parts. You also must think I got stupider since the last time you were here. I have new...precautions." She was speaking to her computer though as she typed. "Why the change of heart?"

"I don't know," Angel said as he moved to look out the window of the office, "maybe because someone gave Wes some super edited files of my life as it was. They were more of a Reader's Digest version and sprinkling in a few things of Wolfram & Hart's own so that no one would believe me."

"Those were your choices. Can't blame us because they were the wrong ones. You think you are the only Angel to have gone that route? Granted, most of the time it doesn't end in Apocalypse but we are gaining the edge." She turned in her chair to look at him. She had expected him to fight, not just roll over and die. Then again, she only knew this Angel from his files. "How does next Tuesday sound?"

"I'm sure Wolfram & Hart didn't even want what happened," the vampire spoke still looking out at the city. "We did take out The Circle of the Black Thorn." He was silent for a long moment then turned and looked at her. "If that's my only choice."

She chuckled. He really was far stupider than the Angel that was here. "And you think there isn't another group of evil just waiting to take their place? Other groups in other cities? You think too small, that is your problem. As far as choices..." She shrugged her shoulders. "Ball is really in your court. Technically, you are still an employee of Wolfram and Hart. Our services are available to you. Oooh, I know, how about altering reality again? That seemed to go so well before."

"Oh, I know," he agreed. "But the mere fact they were taken out so easily by a group that was so far beneath their power and status."

"You are amazing at rationalization." She merely shook her head. Even after Jasmine, he didn't realize that no matter what, he was just a puppet in his own world. He was so easy to manipulate. "Everything you touch gets destroyed. My advice, leave here before you end up putting your special brand of tinge on the people here."

Angel just glared at Lilah. He finally turned on his heels and headed for the door. He didn't want to even look at her any longer. She'd take anything he would say or any part of his history and twist it.

"Don't you want the address and time?" She just grinned. She got him so annoyed that he turned and left. That was definitely rewarding after what Angelus had done to her.

He stopped at the door and said over his shoulder, "I would have figured it could find me."

She wrote something down on the back of her business card and handed it to him. "This isn't like going to Magic Mountain. It takes time, preparation, and a whole lot of magic." She waited for him to take the card, looking up at him. "Truth hurts, doesn't it, Angel?"

Taking the card, he said no more. He just went on out to make his way back down to the sewers. Maybe this dimension would be better off without him and just maybe back in his own he could pick up the fight, even if he had to do it by himself.

----Next Tuesday----

Lilah waited patiently near the bridge for Angel. Lined on one side were three dark SUVs. She had brought back up in case Angel decided that he wanted to play around. Standing next to her was a Kobash demon, large and assuming as he hulked near her. She was on her cellphone, making sure that everything was set up. The scene should be all too familiar to Angel. She had picked it on purpose, the site where he lost Connor. Then again, mystical veils and rips in them were easier to find and use again in the same locations. She only hoped in the days that had elapsed between their meeting and now, he hadn't changed his mind.

She started to pace a bit as she spoke on her phone. Something wasn't right here and she knew it. He seemed to be too stupid to realize it wasn't this easy. Would he be smart enough to figure out that she had set him up? She wasn't sending him back to his dimension. He had brought forth Hell on Earth and the Senior Partners couldn't be more pleased. Angel was a thorn in Wolfram and Hart's side in any and all dimensions. She had her orders. Either send him to the surface of the sun or to a Hell dimension. She opted for the Hell dimension. An eternity of torture seemed far more gratifying than an instant death.

Angel came walking up that street after coming up from the sewer just a block away. As he walked his duster stirred in the wake of the breeze. He knew the place all to well. He stopped seeing the vehicles and what looked like a small army. He glanced from side to side as the security noted him and they leveled their weapons. They were still thinking firearms would stop him. He only shook his head at them as he stepped up to where Lilah stood.

Lilah hung the phone up when she saw Angel and slipped it back into her jacket pocket. "Just a little protection. Makes our contacts feel a little better when they are dealing with vampires." If the armed men shot him enough, he lost enough blood, wouldn't be too hard to get in to stake him. "This is one of our Shamans. Kobash demon. I am sure you know all about them. Shall we?" She was eager for this. Sending Angel to a Hell dimension made her tingle, in all the right places.

Angel looked over at the demon and said nothing. In fact, he said nothing to anybody. He just stepped past Lilah to the same spot that he had laid on the ground mourning the loss of his son. He was ready to go back to his world and face what had been wrought, good or bad.

Lilah tried to hide her grin and it came out as a small looking smile. She stood off to the side, watching this with a suppressed glee. At long last the Senior Partners were finally allowing a more hands on approach to Angel. She could not be happier about it.

The Kobash demon raised its huge tree like arms, chanting low to open the portal. His fingers moved through the air, manipulating the very fabric of reality. Slowly, a small portal began to form, like a whirlpool in the air. As it began to grow, the air around the demon, portal, and Angel stirred.

Concealed in the shadows and behind the SUVs of Wolfram and Hart, the Angel Investigations Team was crouched and ready for attack. They must have gone over the plan a thousand times. The armed guards would be left to Gunn, Faith, Gwen, and the Slayerettes. Connor would take care of the Kobash demon. Wes would close the portal. And Cordelia, as much as she hated this plan, would be charged with getting Angel out of the way so he wasn't sucked into the portal. Cordelia's hand flexed around her short sword. She hated it when they brought guns. It was just so...wrong. But they would be no match against the sneak attack of the team. The Slayers against a group of humans, even with guns, the humans were toast.

Angel stared at the opening portal. His coat tails whipped around him. A slight frown crossed his features. Something was out of place. Something...or things...that shouldn't be here. Then he started seeing what was on the other side of the portal.... And it wasn't Earth in any incarnation. He quickly looked at Lilah realizing what was going on. He had been betrayed. His features changed. His brows became thick, as well as cheekbones and his eyes turned yellow. His nose broadened and his teeth became lethal, sharp fangs.

Kobash opened the portal wider, stepping back and allowing the pull of the portal to drag Angel towards it. He had a job to do and ridding the world of a vampire was one he was more than happy to do.

Cordelia watched as the portal opened more. Her eyes were kept on Angel. She turned her head towards Wes, waiting for his signal. As soon as he started chanting to close it, that is when the entire group would come out. It was a shame Wes couldn't find a spell that would just close it. No, it had to expand it first before it contracted on itself. So that meant she still had to get Angel out of the damn way.

Wesley knelt and placed the crystal down in front of him. He looked at the portal trying to judge when it would be at its apex.

Angel's yellow eyes locked on Lilah. He let out a roar not unlike that of an angry tiger. He went to lunge for her but he felt like something had him and was pulling at him.

Cordelia saw that Wesley had started. She nodded to Gunn so that he and the girls could move around the SUVs to take care of the armed guards. She waited a moment more before gesturing to Connor next. She moved around behind Wes, giving him an encouraging pat on the back. She waited in the shadows for Wes to give the final signal so she could tackle Angel out of the way.

Connor moved as close as he could to the demon. He would just as soon let that bastard that was trying to be his father have his fate but he'd miss out on a good fight, one like he'd not had in a while. Running the school took up a lot of his demon killing time. Now the girls were going to see their headmaster in action first hand.

Angel reached out to grab Lilah. He felt, by god, if he was going to be sucked into this he wasn't going alone, but his fingers barely brushed her jacket. He was being drug backwards still by unseen hands.

Wesley pulled a small pouch that held bone dust. He started the chant and as he did he started making a triangle with the crystal in the center and the point of it pointed at the portal.

"Wes..." Cordelia's voice was barely a whisper. "How is that spell coming?" She could see how anxious Connor was. She could see how anxious the girls were. Nobody wanted anyone sucked into a portal though. The timing was everything with this and after so many years of working together, this team had it down.

Wesley held up a finger and kept chanting. The crystal started to glow yellow and shake. He kept up the chanting and then suddenly the crystal shot for the portal and at the same time he pointed at Cordelia.

Cordelia ran when he pointed at her, not taking the time to notice that at the same time, the group of Slayers and their leaders had busted out from behind their cover to fight the armed guards. She was just glad that she bought some new running shoes for this. She had the advantage with the element of surprise, tackling Angel to the dusty ground and away from the ever-expanding portal. "Stay down!" She yelled at him, just in case he tried to fight her.

Connor sprung at the Kobash. His foot made contact with the back of the demon's head just at the neck. It had been way too long since he had a party like this, playing the soft spoken school administrator wasn't fun, but it served a purpose.

Angel was knocked to the ground but it didn't stop him being drug towards the portal. His fingers dug for a hold to stop him. Cordelia tried holding him but in her effort, she too was being pulled. He caught hold on a small bush and his arm went protectively around Cordy. He held with all his vampiric strength.

Cordelia could feel herself moving as Angel was drug closer to the portal. Wes had warned her about this. The pull was less on the ground though than it would have been if Angel were standing up, buying them more time. Her head turned, she kept her eyes on Wes to make sure that portal was getting closed. She didn't really want to spend the best years of her life in a Hell dimension with a manpire she hated.

The crystal shot into the heart of the portal and then a rumble sounded from within. What sounded like a scream erupted and then the portal started closing in on itself, getting smaller and smaller.

The Slayers had their hands full as they fought off the armed guards. Lilah watched the scene for about a half second before she realized that it was a lost cause. She gestured with her chin towards two of the guards before she slipped back into one of the SUVs. She gave a final glance to the fight erupting before the SUV sped off into the night, leaving the other Wolfram and Hart employees to fend for themselves against the Angel Investigations Team.

The demon hurdled forward when Connor kicked it. It growled and turned around. Bringing one large arm up, it smacked the young man across the face and sent him flying towards the rows of vehicles. It turned back in time to see the portal starting to close. It growled deeply, raising its arm to try to force the portal open again.

Connor hit the fender of the closest SUV but came up. That one was going to need bodywork. He pulled out the crossbow pistol and fired for the base of the demon's head where the neck and skull meet in the back.

The demon turned and knocked away the crossbow bolt before it could connect with its neck. He roared and stalked towards Connor. Grabbing the grill from one of the SUVs, he yanked it off and swung it at the young man.

Angel pulled Cordelia up toward the shrub. "What the hell are you doing," he said to her over the roar of the portal.

When Wesley heard the sound of the crystal starting the implosion he stood, shouted on last phrase in a long dead demonic tongue. The portal swirled, clouded in the center. It actually gave off a sound that sounded like a dying beast and finally in one big light show it vanished. Wes looked at the place where it was. This particular portal would never open again. The crystal sealed it forever. This had been the major argument he gave to help Angel.

Cordelia kept her eyes on Wesley and the portal, going back and forth. She finally looked down at Angel. "I had a vision." That is all she said in matter of conversation. It had been a huge fight about it but at the end, it came down to keeping the mission, as Fred had pointed out. This Angel was helpless against being sucked into a Hell dimension. Plus, a fight with Wolfram and Hart was always welcome.

When the pull of the portal stopped Angel was pissed now. He got up and saw the demon advancing on Connor. Head on confrontation with a Kobash wasn't a good idea. He let out a growl then leaped for the creature landing on its back, grabbing its head to give it a twist to break his neck. This was Connor...it didn't matter what dimension he was still his son.

Connor fired another bolt just as Angel jumped the Kobash. It was one freaking' ugly thing as well as stank. This was one time he wished he had the thing of not having to breathe like a vampire.

Cordelia got up when Angel did and she watched him go for the demon. Connor was going to be pissed. That was his demon to kill. Most of the armed guards were taken care of and the Slayers were finishing with the few who had stayed to fight instead of running. She looked over to Wes with a frown. All of her inner thoughts were reflected with that one disapproving expression. "I told you this was a bad idea."

The demon felt the vampire land on its back. It turned its head to keep Angel from breaking its neck, making sure he didn't have a good hold. It stumbled back as the crossbow bolt hit it in the shoulder, causing it to drop the grill it was using as a weapon.

Angel hoped this Connor was as observant as the one he knew. That armored plating of the demon's stomach wasn't going to let a bolt get through. But Angel still had hold of the thing with all his strength and his knee went to the middle of its back forcing it to arch and exposing the tender flesh between the plating.

The demon did so as the vampire put a knee to its back. With no choice, it arched back. It pulled the crossbow bolt from its shoulder and reached back to stab Angel in the back, just below his shoulder blade.

Connor saw this and took aim. His bolt shooting for that soft flesh. Connor had never fought a Kobash and so little was written about them he hadn't found how to kill one.

Wesley looked to Cordy. "Maybe not," he told her. "We did succeed in closing the portal on one hell dimension."

Hidden under that plating was a small round spot, about the size of a quarter. It was almost like a target, white against the Kobash's gray skin. With Connor's aim, it hit directly. It was a power source. The demon crumpled, falling to its knees and then forward. But at least it had gotten one good blow in with the crossbow bolt to Angel's shoulder.

Angel clenched his fanged teeth when the bolt struck but he kept his hold. When he felt the demon crumple he let go and stumbled back. He looked down at the bolt that had been put through him. It had almost got its target, his heart. The tip of it was out his chest.

Cordelia moved to Wes, knowing that Connor could take care of the demon. She hadn't intended to tackle Angel that hard and it had made her hurt enough that she didn't want to fight. The Slayers were gathering around as well as the Kobash demon died. They were trading stories of the fight, different versions, and patching each other up. Cordelia watched the scene briefly before looking back to Wes. "You okay?"

Wesley looked at Cordy and nodded. "Tired. Takes a lot out of me when I do a spell of this magnitude." He looked it. His eyes showed bags under them and he leaned back on the nearest SUV.

Cordelia glanced at the scene from the corner of her eye. She saw Angel stumbling back, the bolt sticking out of his back. There was a part of her that wanted to go to him, pull the bolt out, and heal him. Her heart hurt because he did look like her dead husband. It only brought back all the pain and loss she felt. She looked back to Wes. "I'll drive you back home."

Connor looked up at the vampire. There was no emotion on his face. He did approach him. He stepped around and pulled hard taking that bolt out but not being gentle about it either. He tossed it aside then he walked off calling to the slayers.

Cordelia's concern was for Connor. She had seen him tossed into that SUV. She reached out to touch his shoulder when he finally came back over to the group. "Didn't get too banged up, did you?" She gave him a smile. "You still have to take the girls out to that demon bar tomorrow to teach them how to get information."

Connor stopped and looked at Cordelia. "I'm fine," he said. "I still don't see why we can't dust his ass." He looked back to Angel who now stood alone over what was left of the body of the Kobash as it liquified into what looked like an oil puddle.

"You know why, Connor. We already talked about this." Her voice was low. The suggestion had come up along with the one of just letting this Angel rot in the Hell dimension. They had all run options until they were blue in the face. For some reason, The Powers wanted him saved so they saved him. She looked to the girls, who were too excited from their fight to settle down for a bit. She looked back to Connor. "How about we swing by, get Lillian and the twins, and everyone can out for breakfast? Chicken and waffles?" She bumped her hip gently against Connor's. This was a success, they deserved breakfast. "We have to drop old man Wyndam-Pryce off though. He can't keep up with us big dogs anymore."

"Old," Wesley spoke up. "I am not old. The fact that it takes so much energy to direct magic such as this..." He paused looking at Cordelia and Connor's face. Connor had managed a slight smirk.

"Are you saying that you are up for some Roscoe's with the rest of us then? Maybe some of that sludge they call coffee would do you good. Fred can meet us there. We can have a little victory party for once again kicking Wolfram and Hart's ass." Cordelia cupped her hands around her mouth, shouting towards Gunn, Faith, and the gathered Slayers. "Roscoe's! Victory celebration!" She lowered her hands just in time to see Gunn nod his head and Faith start to eagerly load the girls into the van. Faith was like a horse with a carrot sometimes. They could motivate her to do anything with the promise of food.

Wesley looked to Angel now then back to Cordy and Connor. "What about him," he asked.

Connor headed for his vehicle. "Leave him. I'll meet you guys there."

Wesley looked to Cordelia. "You know we might not have killed that Kobash had it not been for him. We've never faced one and it seems that in his dimension he has."

Cordelia looked at Angel for a moment and then back to Wesley with a frown. "I am not inviting him out to our victory celebration..." She looked back to Angel again. She didn't approach him though, but merely called out. "Hey..." She didn't want to say his name. Angel was a name reserved for her husband, not this imposter.

Angel looked up when he realized that somebody directed their voice to him and not about him. Either they forgot, as often they did in his dimension, about his vampire hearing or they just didn't care.

"Uh...thanks for helping with the demon." Cordelia looked back to Wes, a questioning expression on her features. Was that going to be good enough for Wes? She said thanks so could they please leave now?

"You're welcome," Angel replied. "Just, well, Kobash demons are not really common and I didn't know if any of you had faced one before." He didn't want to have Wes speak up now to invite him to this breakfast so he added. "I'm going to wait here at least until close to dawn, make sure he doesn't pull himself back together. They can sometimes do that. But he was expending a lot of his energy on that portal so he probably is done for. But just to be safe."

Cordelia frowned. He could have said anything at that moment and she would have frowned. She didn't hear the one thing she wanted and that was a thank you from him for saving his ass. She just looked to Wes, her tone flat and cold as ice. "Let's go. I don't need a demonology lesson." She started walking for her own vehicle, waiting for Wes to follow.

Wesley frowned slightly also. "We just also saved you from a Hell dimension. You might wish to show a little more gratitude." With that he turned and followed Cordelia back to his Cherokee.

---One week later----

Angel leapt over the wall that surrounded the grounds that was Cyvus Vail's estate. He paused a moment, trying to sense anything that might be around. He was determined he was going to help Cordy, Wes, and the others to find out who it is that is heading this group targeting the school and the slayers. The vampire started moving towards the old mansion.

The symbol in the sewer he'd found matched one he had seen on Wes’ desk. He was going to find out what it meant and when he did, then he'd find the group. But he needed something first and the old wizard he knew could help, if the old git was so inclined.

Angel had come close to spending eternity someplace he really didn't wish to vacation in, Hell dimensions. He'd been there, done that already. But the team had shown up and saved him. He hadn't expected that. He decided he owed them now and he was going to pay his debt.

With the wall breached, the first round of guards came at Angel. They were coming at Angel with guns drawn. It seemed that Wolfram and Hart wasn't the only evil in this dimension that preferred firearms. Most of these guards were human, some vampire though. Angel was going to be in for a fight if he wanted to see Cyvus Vail.

Angel paused on seeing the threat. He assessed his situation. "I knocked but nobody answered," he said, not making a threatening move yet.

"Master Vail has been waiting for you, sir." One of the guards replied, standing stiffly next to his other counterparts. They were military trained but not by any military of this world. The guards waited in a defensive arch around Angel to see how he would react.

Angel looked at each of them in turn then to the one that spoke. "Then let's not keep the old fella waiting any longer."

Turning on his heel, one of the guards broke away from the group. Once Angel started moving, they all fell into a formation around him, surrounding him. They had very strict orders on how to deal with the vampire. The guard that had spoken opened the door while one in the behind Angel muttered to himself. "He ain't so tough. Don't know why we all had to be here. There was a game on tonight."

Angel heard this but he just kept walking. He'd been here before several times in his own dimension and it seemed it was still the same here as there. He could smell the old wizard. His medicines both mystical and medical keeping him going, his decaying body. As always there he was in his large parlor, so like a throne room.

Cyvus Vail sat in his large, elegant throne, alone in the empty room save for his IV stand and oxygen tank. He was the same here as any other dimension, red skinned with straggly, thin white hairs covering his head. He was wheezing, even though he had yet to speak. He raised his hand feebly, the guards parting into a U-shape to allow Angel to step forward. The one behind Angel muttered to his companion again. "Maybe we can kill him when he leaves."

Just as the one guard finished his outspoken, wishful thought he found a stake in his heart and just the bare glimpse of the vampire with a soul holding it. The guard exploded into a cloud of dust. Angel turned away and back to the old wizard. He stepped towards him. "Vail," he said keeping his eyes on the wizard almost like nothing had just occurred.

The rest of the guards grabbed their weapons and stayed in formation around Angel. The old demon kept his eyes on Angel's before he dismissed the guards with a wave of his hand. When he spoke, he wheezed his words out. "I was wondering...when you would arrive. I am pleased to see you only killed one of my guards in this world." He hinted that he had the knowledge of what had occurred in Angel's home dimension.

"The night is still young," Angel said. "Besides, I didn't come here to fight." He glanced around a moment then back to Vail. "Seems some things don't change no matter where one goes...Well, except that you're still alive."

Vail rasped out a chuckle with Angel's assessment of the situation. "I may still yet be alive in your world too. There are always...measures in place...my dear boy."

"How about we keep the checks and balances going then," the vampire stepped over and picked up a very unassuming little capped vase. "How goes it with Sahjhan here since, well, Connor hasn't took care of him for you?" He looked back over to Vail. He was trying to test the waters to see what bargaining chips he had.

It was a good thing that little vase was not the one that housed Sahjhan. It was too small. However, Vail understood what the vampire was getting at. He reached over to adjust a knob on his IV. "You must want something then. And you know my price. Shall we skip formalities?"

"Probably," he agreed. "Well, there's that problem and the pesky one of me knowing all about the Circle...And for some reason, somebody is still wanting me alive. This leads me to believe, now that I've thought, there's a bigger forest here."

Vail struggled to get up from his throne. His whole body shook as he tried to rise. "To make the same mistakes you did in your world. There is more to lose here, though." Vail lifted his hand, his palm laid flat and open. "I can show you, what has happened because you wanted to go on a suicide mission."

"Actually I'm sure there's more use to the information of the who's who of evil society then the threat of my killing you all," Angel said. "Otherwise why all the secret enclave stuff. I mean, why not just be a Mason then?" When Vail put out that hand he looked at it, ancient and gnarled. He wasn't quite ready to trust Vail until they had boundries laid down. It would be his luck he'd turn his back and Cyvus would throw some Hellfire at him.

"I told you once before. I am not the sort of man you want as an enemy. You have so much more to lose here." Vail moved slowly across the room, pulling his IV stand with him. Each of his breaths was labored, wheezing as he moved with a great degree of difficulty. "Now why do you want in exchange for your...son helping me take care of my little problem?"

Angel moved just a step behind Vail. It was a good thing vampires didn't have to breathe. When was the last time this old fart ever showered? "I want the memories of the Angel from this dimension," he said.

Vail turned to regard Angel now. "That is quite a feat you are asking. Building memories is one thing." Vail paused. It wouldn't be hard considering how powerful he was. He knew also now that Angel had undergone the little spell to merge demon and soul forever. He was weighing the risks with the rewards.

"I've studied up on it a bit, Vail," the vampire said. "The mechanics isn't that difficult, especially since they come from an identical me."

"You bring me the boy and he takes care of that nasty cur and you will have your memories." Vail replied.

"That's not going to be easy," Angel admitted. "Right now, he'd just as soon stake me as to look at me." He was trying to think what he could do to convince Connor to come to the old wizard.

"That isn't my problem." The old demon wheezed out once more. He had forgotten why he got up in the first place so he made his way slowly back to his chair.

Angel started for the door to leave. "I didn't say I couldn't get him here, just its going to be hard." He got to thinking that maybe this Connor would accept the challenge openly to kill Sahjhan. He hated prophecies. He'd gladly taken on the demon himself.

Vail lowered himself back into that throne-like chair once he got to it. "And within the week if you could." Vail gave another wheezing chuckle as Angel departed from his estate.

Angel didn't pause as he found his way out of the house. He was heading for the same section of wall where he had come over. Why not? The GTX was parked closer there. He was trying to think how he could approach Connor about this so that the young man would listen.

----Near dawn----

Fred sat in the little diner all alone. If the gang knew that she had been communicating with Angel, they weren't going to like it. The general consensus was to let him rot. Or rather, the most vocal consensus was that. Cordelia and Connor had made their feelings perfectly clear. Fred had a feeling that Wesley was waffling though. She smiled at the thought of him. She could sway him yet if she could just get enough evidence. She could win him over with logic. She looked down into her coffee, wondering why she even bothered to order it. She was too nervous to eat or drink. With Fred, that meant she was really nervous.

The vampire was there at her table looking down at her. He cleared his throat. Fred was a good soul. Kind and well, as corny as it sounded, an old soul. It was nice seeing her still alive and, well, not blue.

Fred jumped when he was upon her and clearing his throat. He could be a sneaky one, that was for sure. She looked up at him. "Angel, gosh, scared me. Need to go about announcing yourself a little better. I almost spilled my coffee all over." Fred pointed down to the full mug and the spill over from her jolting that was now on the table. She reached for the napkins so she could clean the mess up.

"Sorry," he said as he slipped into the seat across from her. It was the very early morning, not many in the place. It was littered with bums that had just enough for the price of a cup of coffee or truck drivers waiting for the dispatcher to call, typical creatures of the night that weren't necessarily of the supernatural kind.

Fred started to clean up the little mess that her jolting had made. "Its okay. It’s just coffee. And they have free refills here. I can spill all I want all over the table and they will just keep filling it up. Though, don't think they would much like people pouring coffee all over the tables." She looked thoughtful for the moment, as if she was contemplating that.

"No, probably not," he said as he folded his hands on the table and looked down at them. The waitress came over with a cup of coffee and placed it down in front of him. When she asked if he wanted to order, he looked up and shook his head. "No thanks. Coffee is fine." He looked to Fred to see if she wanted anything.

Fred had to admit she was pretty hungry. She was less nervous now that Angel had arrived. She ordered some pancakes and bacon for now. She would probably put away the three pancakes that came and order yet another stack. For a girl so small, it was amazing where she put all that food. She waited for the waitress to leave before she spoke again. "Thanks for meeting me here. I am sure you have your own thing going on now." Fred reached into a bag in the seat next to her. She was rummaging around for something.

"I've always got time," he said. "One of the advantages to being immortal." He just gave a sad bit of a smile. He picked up the cup of coffee and took a drink of the hot, steaming liquid. Coffee was one of the few normal things he could taste. Maybe it was the acid or something, who knows.

Fred came back out with a small photo book. She knew that he was lonely. If it were up to her, she would have welcomed him right back with open arms. They had lost their own Angel but here was another one. It wasn't the same, no and it never would be but still, it could be good. "I thought maybe you could use some pictures to put up where you are staying. Since you came here with nothing but the clothes on your back. I brought you some clothes too! Had to wait for everyone to be gone so I could sneak up and get them."

Angel took the photos then started looking at them. Sometimes he wondered if letting so many people in his life or unlife had been a good thing. "Fred...thanks," He didn't know what else to say.

Fred watched him for a moment. She saw the expression on his face. What she said next was blurted out in a typical fashion. "Charles doesn't believe the files. I heard him talking to Faith about it at the school. He thinks this is...well...he said bullshit. He and Faith don't see why you can't just come and help." She had to do it. She had to give him that hope. He looked so utterly crushed and it was killing her.

"I have been," he said to her. "I've just been in the shadows. Those vamps last night...There were twice as many as you guys could see."

"I think Faith knows you have been shadowing her when she takes the Slayerettes out." Fred smiled. "That is what we call them, the Slayerettes. Most of them are in their twenties though so doesn't really fit. And it’s always sad when the Council assigns them someplace else after they graduate. Faith is so good with them, like their big sister. Maybe...maybe you should go talk to Charles and Faith. Charles is still upset about his truck though so I don't know if that is a good idea."

Angel shook his head. "I can't, Fred," he said. "I can't as long as Connor and Cordelia.... What happened happened because of emotions running crazy and..." He took another drink. "But...I do know a way I can help."

Fred sighed because Angel really could be stubborn sometimes. She grabbed the bag up and put it on the table between them. She brought him enough clothes for a week. "I put their address in there. They don't live at the hotel. They have a nice place near the Academy. Gwen's gone to Japan for the rest of the month but she isn't around much anyway. I think it would be good if you just talked to them. You aren't going to get anybody besides me on your side if you wait around for Connor and Cordy."

"Look," Angel shifted in his seat, "I need to talk to Wes. I know once I've explained things to him he'll understand. I don't know if Gunn could reason with Connor on what we need the way Wes could." The vampire looked to the bag. He pulled it over and sat it down from the table. It was so strange...they were his clothes but they weren't. And it hadn't slipped him that the hotel could easily be his and he would no longer have to live in the sewers...but Angel would never put them out.

"Charles won't be able to reason with Connor but Wes isn't going to listen to you unless someone besides me talks to him about it. Right now, it’s two against one in that hotel. I don't want to gang up on Cordy cause she is hurting. A lot. Nobody wants to say anything to her about it. But it would be lot easier for me to get Wes to talk to you if I could get some of the others behind him. I am doing this alone." She was too. She seemed to be the only one defending him outright. If only he had any idea of the emotional plea she gave to them after Cordy's vision.

"Okay, I'll talk to Faith," he said giving in. He knew what Fred was doing. She wanted her family back together. If she was anything like his Fred, if something in the misfit family went wrong she was all about fixing it to keep the constant in her life after leaving Pylea.

"Might want to think about getting Charles some new headlights too." She gave Angel a bit of a grin. She was happy that he was at least going to try. He was right. Their Angel might be gone and it did break her heart. But after all her calculations, all the experiments she had been doing, this Angel was here for a reason. She just seemed to be the only one who could see that.

"I'm lucky I don't have to replace the whole truck," he replied to that. Angelus could have done so much more but the evil vampire always considered himself an artist at what he did and sometimes just a little damage delivered a better message then total destruction.

"Don't know how your Charles was but that truck...If he had to pick between that truck and his women, he would be sleeping in the truck." Fred laughed as she made a joke. It was a shame that the joke was the truth. Her pancakes arrived, as she was mid-laugh so it was cut short so she could eat.

"Yeah, well, it’s a guy thing," Angel intoned. Well, who was he to say different to how Gunn felt about his truck? That GTX...But the car sat over in the hotel garage. He felt if he tried to take it, Cordelia would have staked him on site.

Fred was too busy stuffing her mouth with pancakes to speak anymore. She finally swallowed a big bite and looked at him. "If you want to see the kids, I take them some nights to watch them. Used to be a lot more but if Cordy wants to go out and fight, someone has to watch them so we always alternate. I can tell her I want to take them to give her some time to herself."

"I'd like that, but I don't want to get you in the middle of all this." He finished his coffee and picked up the bill the waitress had left.

"I am already in the middle of it. I made my choice. There is a reason we can't send you back and there was a reason that you were sent here. I was doing the calculations, figuring it all out. You came here the instant that our Angel...died." Fred still had a hard time saying it. It would always hurt her.

Angel looked over at her. "I know," he said in a hushed tone. "The Powers have reasons they do things. I doubt those files Wolfram & Hart turned over were the whole truth. Just enough truth to make it all seem possible. I did get side tracked but Cordelia was sent back to me to put me back to what I needed to do and that was to take down Evil, Inc. from the inside, which I did."

He didn't have to convince her. Fred knew that Angel could never do anything as bad as those files said. She trusted him here and in any other dimension. He had saved her after all. "I should go before Wes wonders where I got off to. I told him I was going to pick up some new physics books from a friend of mine. Now I just got to find some physics books." Fred giggled softly.

Getting a napkin, he wrote down an address and handed it to her. "Tell Elijah I sent you," he said. "Retired magician and now runs a new and used book store."

She took the napkin from him with that trademark Fred smile. "I will call you when I can get the twins so you can see them." Fred slipped out of the booth and made her way quickly out of the diner.

---Several days later----

Faith sat next to Gunn in the small house that they shared. It was a good location. It was right near the Academy and it gave them enough room to just chill out. With Gwen's substantial fortune to help them out, they always had the latest and greatest when it came to toys. Right now, they were busy playing a game system that had yet to be released on the domestic market. Gwen had picked it up during one of her trips to Japan. Faith nudged Gunn, not too hard, but just enough to get him to screw up so his racing car would spin off the track and into a group of spectators. "Ha! Beat you again. You suck at this, admit it."

Gunn purposely moved too far to the side with the nudge so that he would go off the track. Faith was competitive. She wasn't that bad with the racing games but he knew better than to go winning any shooters any time soon. "I let you win, girl. You want to go another round or you ready to order that pizza?"

"No... Not hungry for pizza." Faith grinned at him and tossed the controller aside. She moved on the couch so that she was straddling him now. "I don't have to share you, you don't have to share me. How about we just enjoy our alone time?" Faith leaned down so that she could capture Gunn's lips in a kiss. Something about winning these video games always put her in a mood for sex. It was just like slaying. She either wanted to have sex or put an All You Can buffet out of business.

Angel stood at the front door. Fred had said she'd talked to Gunn and that she thought he would be open to any ideas, especially to end the attacks on the slayers and the school. He rang the doorbell.

Faith paused when she heard the doorbell. She groaned as she started to move off Gunn's lap. "So much for a hot time in the old city tonight." She reached down to grab the controller up again and playfully pushed Gunn in the side to go get the door.

Gunn groaned too as Faith left his lap. He was going to need a couple of seconds to recover from her attack on his mouth. Only girl he knew that could get him from zero to rock in three seconds flat. He called out, "Give us a minute. We're naked up in here."

"Really more information then I needed," Angel said. That vampire hearing sometimes not so much a plus, or the other senses. The smell of sex was light but then when Faith was around there was always that lingering in the air.

Gunn was halfway through getting up from the couch when he heard the voice. He glanced to Faith, who merely shrugged her shoulders before going back to her game. She wasn't going to be any help in this. She was too much like Fred in regards to Angel. He saved her and so she thought that maybe they needed to save him too. Gunn made it to the door finally and pulled it open. "Hey..." He gave Angel a nod of his head, not sure what else to do.

"Hey," he said thinking how awkward this was. "Fred wanted me to come by and talk to you and Faith. But if this isn't a good time..."

"Fred told me." Gunn stopped as he looked back over at Faith. She was pretty much involved in her game now so it was as good at time as any. He looked back to Angel. "What you need?" He wasn't about the invite the vampire in. He leaned against the frame of the door, arms crossed, as he looked at Angel.

"I need your help with Connor if you want to beat this group attacking the school and slayers." Angel said.

"Thing about that is, can't really go anywhere and help with anything cause someone busted out my headlights." It was going to take a lot more than Angel showing up and telling them he needed their help if he wanted to get it.

"I'm sorry," the vampire said. He could go into the argument that that wasn't him but what would be the point. His Gunn always knew to separate Angelus from Angel though he knew it was hard for the human to do it. "I'll get you some new headlights."

Well, like Angel always said, atonement is a bitch. He was atoning for Angelus' other crimes, why not some property damage too? "She could use a wash and a wax too. Right, Faith?" He turned so that he could look at his woman.

Faith knew what Gunn was up to. She put the controller on the couch and got up. She sauntered over to the door, standing a bit behind Gunn. "Wash and wax sounds good. I also lost my favorite crossbow rifle waiting on Angelus in that alley."

"Gunn, since when did you start waxing that truck," he asked. He'd never seen The Girl all shiny and slick. Then, he understood and he nodded. "Okay, wash and wax," he said and now Faith was in on it. Two headlights that would normally cost about $20 was turning into something nearing over $500.

Gunn grinned. "Never did until now. But I think she deserves to feel beautiful after what happened." Gunn slung his arm over Faith, still looking at Angel. "And either finding Faith's crossbow, which would be prefer cause we got superstitions with it or getting her a new one."

Faith leaned into Gunn when he threw his arm over her. She was grinning right on back to Angel. "Yeah, old man. I killed a master vampire with that thing. Took him down, right in the heart. Never missed a shot with it since. It’s got...sentimental value."

"Okay, I'll see if I can find it," the old man replied. "Shouldn't be that hard." He was starting to get the feeling that even with all this, these two were enjoying what they were doing here. How often did they get to see Angel give in to demands and plead to them for help?

Gunn glanced to Faith for a moment, reading something in her eyes. They both stepped aside. "You coming in or what?" Gunn asked. He wasn't sure if that was a good enough invitation or what. The intention was there and that seemed to work in the past. "You want a beer or something? Faith always keeps some in the fridge."

Angel stepped on in. "Beer sounds good," he said as he waited for them to show him to wherever they want to talk.

Faith went back to the living room, pulling up some couch while Gunn went off to the kitchen to get a beer. Faith called out to Angel, "We aren't paying for air conditioning for the whole outside, Angel. Shut the door."

Closing the door, he then followed Faith in. He found a chair and sat. He was a bit nervous here. He knew he was on thin ice around these people that were once his friends. The only real friends he'd ever had in his life or unlife. He glanced around at the place then looked to Faith. "Nice place." And yes, he took note of the weapons on the wall. Most of them designed to kill vampires. Sort of made him as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full on rocking chairs. "Homey feeling."

Faith watched him look around and she saw that his eyes settled on the weapons. She laid out on the couch, watching him. "You can chill out. If we wanted you dead, we wouldn't have saved your ass. Or you know, would have staked you as soon as Gunn opened the door. Only ones you got to worry about killing you are the Three Stooges back at the hotel."

Angel nodded. Normally the weapons wouldn't have had the affect on him, but with what had happened lately, who knows what could take place. "I'm hoping I can sort of change their minds about that."

"Hey, Wes can forgive me for torturing the hell out of him and almost killing him, think he can do it for you to. Can't speak for the kid or Cordy though. Connor seems to be hating everyone but the blonde he shacked up with right now."

Gunn came back out with three beers in hand. He handed the first to Faith and then one to Angel. He moved around the couch, lifting Faith's legs up. He sat down and then put her legs in his lap. "Never thought the kid would turn on Barbie but looks like he has. Think everyone is feeling a bit of the blame but her the most."

He looked at the bottle handed him a moment. "I'm hoping with what I want to do all this blaming can stop and a focus on what needs to be done can get done. As long as things are like they are its not going to happen."

Gunn just shrugged his shoulders. Good luck with getting Cordelia to stop blaming herself. Gunn knew that Hell would freeze over first. He took a pull from the beer bottle and brought it down, resting it on the arm of the couch. "So what do you need us for?"

"Are there still the prophecies here," Angel said after he took a drink. "In my dimension there was a passage in them that told of the son of two vampires will vanquish the mighty one called Sahjhan."

Faith just chuckled at that. "You are asking the wrong people about prophecies. That is Wes' department." Faith chugged down her beer and put the empty bottle on the table.

"I know Sahjhan does exist here and Cyvus Vail is damn scared of him," Angel said. "Those prophecies are what caused the fight with Wes and the rest of the team. He tried to kidnap Connor to protect him because Sahjhan altered the prophecies to read like I was going to kill my son."

"Same thing happened here. Wes did kidnap Connor or did you fail to notice that he is grown up here?" Gunn raised a brow. If Angel was going to talk to them like they didn't know what was what, then he was going to find himself out the door, headlights or not.

"I know," he nodded. "I just wasn't sure that the same prophecies were what did it...well, until I talked to Cyvus earlier this week." He waited to see their reaction to him going to see the old wizard.

Gunn looked at Faith and then Faith looked at Angel. "Uh...are we suppose to know who this guy is?" It was clear by the expressions on their faces that neither of them had any clue who this Cyvus Vail was. In their world, Connor was never attacked with his fake family, thus sending them to Wolfram and Hart, thus sending Angel to Cyvus.

Looking from one to the other, he took another drink. Swallowing, he answered. "Vail is a very powerful old warlock," Angel said. "The only thing he feared was the demon Sahjhan. Right now Sahjhan is contained in a special urn in Vail's possession. The old buzzard is afraid the demon will find a way out and according to the correct prophecy only Connor can kill Sahjhan.

Another look passed between the couple. "What is the problem then?" Faith said as she looked back to Angel. "Just give us the address, we will send Connor over there to kill them both. No big deal."

"I don't want Vail killed," he told them. "I'm certain that your Angel knew quite a bit about your attackers...possibly more then he told any of you. Vail can give me those memories in exchange for Connor killing Sahjhan."

Gunn held his hand up, still holding his beer, holding up one finger along with it. "Wait, so you are telling me that you are going to trust some warlock to go playing around in your head. Your version stupider than our version or something?"

"Cyvus is a lot of things, evil being at the top," Angel agreed. "But he also has honor. When he makes a deal and receives payment for that deal he goes by it unless he's double crossed."

Faith sat up a little bit now, looking at Angel. "You are going to have to count me out. Making deals with evil isn't exactly on my list. And I don't really like the idea of you having the memories of our Angel." Faith swung her legs off Gunn's lap. She leaned over to kiss him quickly. "I got to hit the head. That beer went right through me and I need to break the seal."

He watched Faith leave then he looked to Gunn. "Gunn, how many more attacks? How many more of the girls are going to die if this isn't stopped?" He was hoping that would hit home with Gunn. "There are other reasons not to take out Vail. What happened to my dimension is an example."

Gunn leaned forward once Faith left, resting his elbows against his knees. "You are never going to get Faith to agree to go along with this. Hell, I can't get her to agree to go along with this. And she is right about the memories thing. That is just straight up weird. You getting all the memories?"

"I know its weird," he agreed. "From what I know it has to be all or none, especially since it’s after death thing. If I could think of any other way, Gunn.... But with them knowing they took The Champion out, they aren't going to be sitting on their thumbs waiting for anybody to go through all the investigating again. They've probably closed the information net your Angel used to get what he had on them." He meant closed as in killing the sources.

"This ain't exactly going to help you with Cordy. She isn't going to like it that some dude is running around with her husband and best friend's memories. I sure as hell wouldn't want the Faith from your world coming here, trying to replace my girl. I am just putting it all out there for you. And you really think you are going to be able to live with the memories of another man's life all up in your head?"

"I've always had another man's memories in my head," Angel said referring to Angelus. "I'm looking at the greater need here. More girls dying and probably the academy itself is being destroyed. That is a small price to pay when you put the outcome on the scales with it."

Gunn looked long and hard at Angel. "You tell me the truth, straight up now. And I will know if you are lying to me...its not just for the girls or the Academy, is it?"

The vampire gave Gunn that expressionless look of his. "I will admit other thoughts did cross my mind, Gunn. But I'm also not lying that first and foremost in this is the slayers and the Academy."

"There is nothing wrong in saying that you want a happy life. Or that you want to remember a happy life. Just uh...be prepared is all I am saying. Angel...after Wes took care of the curse, Angel changed." Gunn wasn't sure exactly how to put it. Especially since he was sitting here, talking to Angel.

"I think I know that," he said as he looked back at that beer bottle. "It’s a finer line to walk now that my soul is anchored. It’s actually more so then before." He remembers when he took care of the vampire lookouts for the gang the other night. His demon took full charge of it and when done he had to have some serious downtime to be able to put the demon back.

"I don't know how you were but here, Angel got kind of waffley sometimes when it came to things. But man, after that, it was like he knew what to do, wasn't afraid of anything. And well..." Gunn voice trailed and he just gave Angel a look. "Let's just say don't go eating off any surfaces in the hotel without bleaching them down first. Got me?"

"I, yeah, its call vampire sex drive," Angel commented. Oh, that he knew all too well and now that he could have happy moments without worry...his dreams when he slept were about Cordelia. Probably a good thing he was living in concrete cubicle that was basically sound proof.

Gunn paused and then called back to Faith. "Babygirl, you okay in there or did you fall in?" He shook his head and then looked back at Angel. "Did you already talk to Wes and Connor?"

Shaking his head he replied, "No. I probably can't get within ten feet of Connor without him trying to stake me. Wesley...I don't know how he'd take this."

Gunn got up from the couch when he didn't hear a response from Faith. "She probably fell asleep in the tub or something. I will talk to them for you. You got a phone or anything?"

"No. Just leave word with Fred," he told Gunn. "She...well, she knows how to get in touch with me." He stood up also. "Thanks for the beer. Probably best if I get along. I'm sure you and Faith want to get some sleep."

"Yeah...sleep." Gunn chuckled when Angel said that. He should know Faith better than that. Gunn started to head back towards the bathroom, where he knew he would find Faith waiting for him. Angel could see himself out.

The vampire turned and headed on out the door. He had several hours before dawn so might as well put them to good use keeping the streets safe for the people of LA.

-TBC-