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29 June 2006 @ 04:33 pm
Walking In My Shoes (15/?)  
Title: Walking In My Shoes (15/?)
Author: Kelly and Mike (collaborative writing team)
Rating: Chapters range from PG-15 to NC-17
Chapter: Chapter Fifteen rated R
Email: jjsoapchat AT yahoo DOT com
Content: Violence, Action, Angst
Scenes include: Lorne, Angelus, Cordelia, Wesley, Lilah, Gunn
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.
Notes: Cast List: Kelly writes for Cordelia, Gunn, Lorne, Lillian, Kat, Ian, Illyria/Fred, Lilah, Eve, Faith, Gwen, Harmony, random shop owners/demons. Mike writes for Angel(us), Connor, Wes, random filler chars.
Feedback: Yes, please. Tell us how we are doing!

Lorne stepped down from his private plane onto the tarmac. He hated this plan. He hated it the first time they did it. He hated even more now. He didn't like the idea of himself or Cordelia being used for bait. Mostly he didn’t like himself being the bait, especially not for an unpredictable monster like Angelus. He had been briefed during flight of the entire situation. Then again, this Angelus' actions might differ from the actions of the one they had dealt with. This was the reason he left LA the first place. He hated being the sacrificial lamb. If he wanted violence, he could have stayed in Pylea. He just wanted to sing and entertain and have a good time. Despite the distance though, these people were family. So here he was, doing this last favor. He pulled the sunglasses from his face, giving his best sunny smile to the demon that was waiting there. "Angelbuns. How are you?"

Angelus smiled and stepped away from the GTX. Lorne’s customary limo was not in sight. Maybe it was because when the vampire got here, he intercepted it before it made it on the tarmac. Lorne had just as good taste here as he did in his own dimension. Inside the limo he found a sexy little female driver in a short skirt with two juicy, plump tatas. They were like a couple of nice ripe, sweet melons. It was so nice to find a girl so endowed by nature and not man made. "Lorne, man, been a long time," Angelus said as he stepped towards the green demon. "I hope you haven't forgot us little people in your star glittered fame."

This team was always putting him in bad situations. This one had to rank at the top of the worst. All those acting classes with Madame Stella were really going to pay off in this situation. "Well who can resist a woman like Cordelia when she tells me a hero sandwich like you is having more swiss cheese in your head than usual."

The vampire opened the door of the convertible for Lorne to get in. "Actually, it’s not as bad as it was," he said. "Hope you don't mind, got a call that your limo was broke down."

"Those limo companies...how do they expect anybody to get around LA?" He gave a bit of a nervous chuckle. He wanted to run, fast, and far away. He could be in St. Barts right now, not worried about if tonight was the night he was going to die. He got into the GTX. "I can have Raul send my luggage to the Hyperion. Can't wait to see the two little twinkies."

He closed the door then walked around and got in behind the wheel. "I'm sure they'll just love seeing their Uncle Lorne too," Angelus said glancing at the green demon with a smile. He pulled the car away from the jet and his right hand slipped into his pocket as he kept his eye on the road.

Lorne swallowed hard against the knot forming in his throat as he saw Angelus slip his hand into his coat. He knew that at least he wouldn't be getting a bullet in the head. Angelus was more the torture you until you break then kill you type. Not that he was looking forward to any of those options. "Been a couple of months, not that you remember that, Angelcakes."

Suddenly, Lorne's left wrist was handcuffed, followed by a second click. Angelus had cuffed him to a bar in the seat that was anchored behind it. "Now, we're going to have a talk, asshole," he said as he glanced over at Lorne.

"Seems like you have made some modifications to the Batmobile." He was handcuffed too quickly to react to it. He needed to talk to someone about getting some superpowers. He could blow Angelus' head up but then the dream team waiting at the demon bar would probably be pissed at him. They wanted a live capture. However, if Angelus tried to kill him, live capture wasn't going to be an option anymore.

"Okay, we can do this a couple ways," Angelus said taking a turn to head down to the warehouse district. "Want to hear them or can you guess?"

"How about you just go ahead and tell me my options. I hate to go into situations blind. Like the time I was performing at the Flamingo with no contract. Who knew they were going to pay me in shrimp and left over prime rib?" He was nervous but that was an understatement. He found himself babbling. He really should have been trying to figure out how to get out of the handcuffs. "So what is with the handcuffs and name calling, Cupcake?" He had to play dumb in order for this to be pulled off. If Angelus suspected that Lorne knew the truth, that this was all part of an elaborate scheme, he would never get Angelus to the capture location.

"You call me a pastry again and I'll reach up your ass and pull your still beating heart out, got that?” Angelus growled out.

"Taking a wild guess and either you are having another one of your muddy periods or something went wrong with your soul. As in, it’s missing." He already knew the facts. He was Angel from another dimension. Cordelia had given him the big happy, and thus Angelus. Angelus had already made his mark on LA since being let out. The bloodshed was too much to even put it into words.

"Give the horny guy a prize," Angelus said with a chuckle. He pulled the car in front of a warehouse, the alley dark and quiet. Cutting the engine, he turned to Lorne. "Now, why don't you tell me where certain objects are located? You know, pretty little Orbs that have a nasty magic of being able to draw souls from the Ether and contain them?" For encouragement he grabbed the little finger of Lorne's cuffed hand. He shoved it back hearing that wonderful popping sound as it broke.

Lorne let out a scream as Angelus broke his finger. At least he didn't play the piano during any of his shows now. Good thing Angelus was getting right to the point. There was a chance the torture would be minimal. "OW! I am not a fan of the torture. I had to sit through a Pat Boone doing metal concert. That was enough torture for ten lifetimes."

Angelus broke another finger broke. "Start with the war stories and I'll break off your dick and feed it to you. You can brag how you gave yourself a blow job."

This was just more proof that someone didn’t do their research before going headlong into a situation. Sometimes Angel was too much like Angelus. "There are dealers all over town. A little shop on Aldondra. Another place over on Olympic."

"And they were all fresh out. Sold to Wolfram & Hart," he said. "Found them. Broke them. I got word there is one more out there."

Lorne now had two broken fingers, which were two broken fingers, too many. He had hope he might get out of this situation relatively unscathed. Cordelia was healing those fingers. He was panting somewhat now though, from the pain. "In West Hollywood, there is a bar. Owned by a guy named Nickels. He has one in the back room but he will only sell it to me."

"You do know what I'm going to do to you if you lied to me and this is a trick, right," Angelus reached over and grabbed Lorne's hooked nose in his hand. He twisted his hand to the side with a hard, sharp movement until the green demon’s nose was broke now as well.

He lets out another cry of pain as his nose broke. He nose began to bleed, red blood pouring out over his lips and down his chin. It was going to get on his suit. He was just happy he had worn one of the cheaper knock-offs. You could tell because the colors just weren’t as bright and the silk wasn’t quite as soft. It was still quality but it was bought off the back of a truck quality as opposed to a nice French boutique. Lorne would rather be in either place than where he was now.

Lorne’s eyes watered as he yanked his head back. He took his scarf off from around his neck with his free hand and put it up to his nose. "What else do you want to know to prove I am not lying? He keeps it in a mystical safe in the back. I gave it to him for safekeeping, just in case. Only my voice and his voice will break the spell on the safe." This was the gang had guaranteed his safety the time before and now. He was no good to Angelus if he was dead.

The vampire sat there for a moment. He started the car and pulled out to head for this bar. "Don't bleed all over the interior."

"Kind of hard since...SOMEONE BROKE MY NOSE!" Lorne’s voice was slightly muffled from the scarf and thick sounding as the blood started to drain down back into his throat.

"You know you always were a pantywaist," Angelus commented as he drove. "How do you get a girl like Lydia to work for you?" Angelus was talking about Lorne’s limo driver. He knew how Lorne could be swayed by the threat of lives. After all, that was how he was kept in check in Vegas. But wait, maybe this Lorne wasn't since it was another dimension. However, Angelus knew it was one and the same demon. The same plea for lives that worked on Lorne in Vegas in his world would work on Lorne in this world.

Lorne knew then that Lydia was dead. His head bowed just slightly. He should have kept his head up to help with the blood flow but he seemed meaningless now. He was probably going to end up dead. He was quiet as he thought about that. He was going to have to send Lydia’s family some flowers if he lived through this. Or maybe see if he could pull some strings to bring her back to life or even himself. He knew enough people.

"Hmmm, she was sweeeeeet," Angelus said, making a bit of a smile as he said it. "Literally. And my god, her rack. Oh, by the way, I got them in a bag in back. They were all natural, you know that? No artificial flavoring added."

He looked greener than usually. He wasn't about to look into the back. He wanted to pretend that this was just one of Angelus' tricks to throw him off. He closed his eyes. Lydia didn't deserve to be dragged into this. The team was going to hear about this. They were going to hear about a lot of things if he lived through this. At this point, that was shaping up to be a pretty big if.

He pulled the GTX into the parking of the bar. All the demons knew the different spots around L.A. to hang out. He got out of the car and went back to the trunk. He opened it. He pushed aside a few trophies that he had taken from others during his little spree. "Now we're going in and you're opening that box. After that, you just might breathe a while longer...though it’s highly over rated.”

Lorne turned around as best as he could in the seat. Angelus had parked in a dark spot. He doubted that anyone would care if he screamed. He just kept telling himself that Angelus had to keep him alive. That was the only thing that was keeping him from screaming out and ruining everything. He pulled the scarf from his nose. "Uh...Angelus? Peaches?" He said no pastries! He said nothing about fruit.

Closing the trunk, Angelus came up the passenger side. He swung the large sword, taking off Lorne's head with ease. Lorne’s head went flying, landing on the asphalt of the parking lot. He looked down at it on the ground. "I forgot to tell you that I hate fruit too."

He looked up at Angelus and just blinked. There was not much more he could do since his torso was now sitting in the car. "Can you at least pick me up? My hair is in a dirty puddle. You know how much this haircut costs." He had a feeling this was coming but he was still alive. The Angelus of this world didn’t cut off his head. He just roughed Lorne up. He was starting to like the Angelus they had here a lot better. He only hoped the group was in the alley, cloaked under Wesley’s spell, and ready to attack.

With his foot, Angelus kicked Lorne's head up then caught it by the hair. "Want to borrow my phone so you can call someone who cares? Wait a sec, you can't call. You have no body." He headed into the bar.

Lorne winced as his head was treated like a soccer ball. He refrained from telling Angelus he needed some new material and new writers. He was worried he was going to get a Three Stooges poke in the eye for his trouble. He had no hand to stop Moe here from really hurting his peepers.

"I ever tell you I'm pretty good at hacky sack?" He said as he glanced around the apparently empty bar. He didn’t see the bartender even at first glance through the smoky haze. But he smelled something, or more importantly, someone, which brought a sadistic smile to his features.

Cordelia was already in the bar, past the haze and the smoke that seemed to be a perma-fixture here. She was drinking but only ginger ale. Alcohol always seemed to get her in trouble and she needed to be alert for this. She already had created enough trouble. She was starting to feel the guilt from incredibly selfish act. She wanted that guy to be Angel. She wanted it so badly in fact, she had put them all in danger.

Cordelia was talking to Nickels at the end of the bar, their voices low. She had dressed for the occasion. The skintight red dress left nothing to the imagination as it hugged her every curve. Her breasts threatened to spill out from the low cut neckline as the hem of the dress rode higher to barely reveal a peek at the bottom of her ass. It was a carefully planned trap. She was the bait.

Lorne was looking around as well when he saw Cordelia at the end of the bar. Good was all he thought. He was worried that he might actually have to produce an Orb that didn’t exist. That meant Wesley, Connor, Gunn, Faith, Gwen, and a few of the female slayers were hiding out in the alley under the cloaking spell.

Angelus' gaze stopped when he saw Cordelia in the flesh. He was right; it was her scent cutting through the reek of smoke, alcohol, and desperation. He felt her thanks to the mark at her neck before he set his eyes on her. He brought Lorne's head up and looked him in the eye. "I warned you about tricks."

Lorne had to think fast in these situations. Lucky for him, Cordelia seemed to know they were here. Lorne watched as she produced a tape recorder out of her purse. "What? No tricks? I had no idea she was here. Don't you think she wants to get a hold of the Orb too? The way she is pouring it on for Nickels, I would say so. She probably has a tape recording of my voice!" The demon tried desperately to explain. He didn’t want to this to fall apart and they all end up dead.

Cordelia set the tape recorder on the bar and then reached into her purse to produce some money. She didn't need to have good acting skills for this. They had run this EXACT same scene before. Apparently this Angelus was none the wiser than the one they had dealt with. She put the bills on the counter, shoving them towards Nickels. She leaned so far over the bar, her feet rose up from the ground. It only made her long legs seem even longer.

As Nickels reached for the money with one hand, a sword came down and cut it off. Angelus was really starting to like this hand cutting off thing he was doing to the bartenders in town. Angelus stood there looking at Cordelia but he spoke to the bartender. "Give me the Orb and you get to keep your other hand for jerking off."

Cordelia barely watched from the corner of her eye as Nickels scrambled away from Angelus. Nickels had the bar between him and the monster known as Angelus. His hand was a lost cause because he didn’t want to get close enough to retrieve it.

Cordelia turned fully to look at Angelus, no hint of fear in her eyes. "Excuse me...I believe that belongs to me." She pointed at Lorne's head. All she had to do was get Angelus out to the alley. Hopefully playing on Angelus' eternal lust, adoration of torture, and want to destroy anything good in Angel’s life was going to be the thing to do it.

Lorne shot Cordelia a look. "Hey! I don't belong to anyone!" This was neither the time nor the place for the outburst but something about that rubbed him the wrong way. Then again, he lost his head! He wasn’t in the best mood. Fact was, she hadn’t said that the first time. Stick to the plan, Cordy, was all he could think.

"Finders keepers," Angelus told her. "I was thinking of maybe poking the eyeballs out, cutting the nose off, and making it a bowling ball."

"I am surprised you didn't think about using it as some kind of athletic supporter or a makeshift sex toy. Must really hurt when your own hand falls asleep on those lonely nights." She was trying to provoke him. It was a dangerously thin patch of ice that she was walking on since Angelus had a sword. She wanted to get him to drop Lorne and come after her. Lorne couldn't defend himself as just a head. She could.

"How about you just set me on the bar for now? Not going anyplace. Not looking forward to either the bowling ball or...” Lorne's voice trailed as he heard what Cordy said. "Cordelia!" His voice was panicked now. She shouldn't go putting ideas in Angelus' head.

"Oh, baby, my hands never fall asleep," he said as he took the point of the sword and slipped it under the strap of her dress. "And I don't have to use them to pleasure myself. Too many willing ladies out there to do that for me. Vampire and human alike."

Cordelia knew that if she moved, she would end up cut from that sword. But she stood her ground. "None of them are willing, Angelus. I think you are starting to believe your own hype."

"How would you know?" he said still holding Lorne's head, not paying his protest any attention. He stepped closer to Cordelia. "Despite it all, you couldn't keep your hands to yourself, now, could you?"

The words stung her and cut her deeper than any sword of his could. It was just a momentary flash in her eyes before it faded. She was too strong to let this asshole break her. "Thing was...I wanted Angel. Not you. You don't even register on my radar. Just a stain I have to wash out with club soda and a bit of magic."

"Maybe you two could continue this conversation outside? Just put me on the bar and let Nickels pour me a last drink? Granted, it will end up all on the bar but at least I can still taste it." Lorne didn't care for the fact that Angelus was still swinging his head around like a cat in a sack here.

"Unlike your friend here when I take off your head with this sword you won't live," he said. He saw that flash in her eyes and it was delicious. He wanted more. He turned that blade for her neck. "Afterward I'll have my prize." His eyes roamed her body. He had to admit that she looked good in that red dress. It was as if she was covered in blood, painted in it from head to toe. He only hoped he could recreate the effect later before she died in agony.

Cordelia just grinned at that. "You so sure about that? Half demon after all. Things work a little different here than they do in your dimension. Besides, you don't want to kill me too fast. You want me to suffer. Because that would hurt Angel the most. He wouldn't have lied to himself if this wasn't the life he really wanted." She was calling his bluff. She didn't want the kids to be without two parents. She grabbed her purse off the bar and when she did, her hand squeezed the middle. It was enough to press the send button on a call already programmed in. The cellphone inside her purse dialed to Connor's so the group could hear this entire conversation. They could hear when she was in trouble and gave the code word to come rescue her. She had to get him to take her outside. This place was protected from violence and the stealth spell wouldn't work. Angelus would know in an instant and be out the door.

"You have one flaw in your little theory, babe. That flaw is the only way it would hurt Angel is if he came back. He. Ain't. Comin'. Back. He suffers and bitches and moans about all the sins because he remembers. News Flash, when the soul is gone, he is too. Unlike me. I have to sit and watch all this do-gooder shit. He saved a goddamn puppy from getting hit by a car and I couldn’t freakin' stop it!"

There was no hesitation in her whatsoever. She rolled her eyes. "Oh, not the damn puppy thing again." She shoved the sword down from her neck now. This was taking too damn long. She knew Angelus hated Angel. She knew he wanted to destroy his life. Even Angelus knew that these trips out were temporary. He knew that someone would eventually put his soul back. "Are you done with your speech now? And you said I talked a lot?"

He lifted his hand holding Lorne’s head and pointed at her with a finger. That head jerked in his grasp, probably pulling hair. "I'm done talking." Angelus tossed Lorne's head and it hit the jukebox. Some old Reba McIntyre song started playing. He grabbed Cordy and pulled her to him, his face changing to the demon.

At least Lorne was now out of Angelus' hand. He winced as he hit the jukebox and rolled across the floor into the corner. "I am not sure which is worse. The head injury or the country music." He was stuck there sadly. Until this was over and someone could put his head with his body.

Cordelia didn't fight him as he grabbed her and pulled her against him. That was going to leave a mark in the morning. She would have to heal the bruise he left. She had no doubt that they were going to come out on top. They always did. She frowned and made sure to keep her head and neck just far enough away from him. "You are a lousy dancer too. And you know what they say about how a guy is on the dance floor."

The door burst open thanks to a meaty hand on the other end. It was something unexpected as a group of about a dozen demons came filing in. They were all dressed in leather and biker jackets, helmets still on. They had rings and other piercings threaded through their face. They sat down at the bar, lining up all along it. The leader pounded his fist against the bar. "Nickels! Where are you, you scrawny sonovabitch. We want some beer."

The last demon to arrive turned his head as he heard voices. He scented the air with his piglike snout. He was starving. It was a vampire and something that smelled human. He elbowed the companion next to him, who turned as well. Upon noticing the two, slowly each of the demons in turn looked at them. The one who was yelling for Nickels ran a thick pink tongue over one of his protruding teeth.

Still holding onto Cordy, Angelus looked up, seeing the demons. He wasn’t about to share this with anyone, least of all demons. He growled in an effort to show his dominance, baring his teeth. In the demon world, vampires were the lowest of the low but even he had made and gained respect from the full bloods. He wasn't in the mood now. He wanted that Orb and he wanted it now. He knew if Cordy got it what would happen. The vampire pulled her to the back door then out.

Cordelia nearly stumbled over her own feet as she was pulled towards the back. They were finally in the alley though. It wouldn’t be much longer until Angelus was no more. Her heel broke, twisting her ankle as well. It was the second time her ankle twisted when facing down Angelus. What was with her and her ankles when Angelus was involved? She put up a struggle to try to get away from him, only to make it more believable. They were so close that she couldn’t have him suspecting anything now.

Angelus came out that door and flung Cordelia away. He came for her quickly, so confident. "Where's the love now, Cordy?" he asked. "That night in bed when you offered your neck?" He grabbed her and forced her further back.

She couldn’t catch her body or her footing as she was flung. She stumbled as he forced her back. All she could hear in the alley was the sound of her heels and her own heavy breathing. The spell was still working then. She looked at him, still trying to free herself. "Jealous much, Angelus?"

He pulled off that leather duster, tossing it to the side. He grabbed her and forced her back on a crate. He came down over her to pin her down. He sniffed at her neck in a long, broad movement. He ripped the strap of her dress and pulled that low cut neckline down to expose her breasts. His hand grasped at her breast, kneading it roughly.

Suddenly, Angelus froze. "Sonuvabitch," he said as he got up. He staggered somewhat and his hand came up to his throat. He crumpled to the alley floor, a dart sticking out of his ass cheek and one sticking out in his neck. From the shadows came Wesley, carrying the tranq gun.

Cordelia was still against the crate, her legs had fallen every which way like a Cordy-rag doll. She sat up, pulling the strap of her dress up to cover her exposed breasts. She was going to need a very long, very hot shower thanks to him. She looked at Wesley. "What took you so long?" She slowly got up, feeling the pain from being tossed around tonight. "Lorne's head is inside. Not sure where the body is."

"Its in Angel's car," Wesley said to her. He knelt down and started to bind Angelus. "He does so look like our Angel, doesn't he?"

She moved over to look down at the body as Wes bound it. She pulled her uninjured foot back and kicked the unconscious vampire hard in the ribs. She really hoped she broke a few of them. "That is for ruining my dress.” Cordelia pulled herself together quickly. She couldn’t afford to lose it now. “Take it that Gunn and the girls are getting the body and then will be back to help you carry this sack of shit?"

Wes nodded. "They are loading it in the back of Gunn's truck then they'll back up the alley and we'll load him up." He looked up at Cordy. "Now you sure this is what you want to do?"

She looked down at Angelus' body. She really wanted to kick him again. She wanted to kick him a lot, a broken rib for every victim, a broken bone for every scream, an injury for every injury he caused. Then though, she would be no better than he was. "What other choice to have? We can't keep him as Angelus. Its not his fault I slept with Angel and let him loose. He deserves to get sent back to where he came the way that he came. Isn't that what we do?" She looked up at Wesley. She was asking him if this was the right thing to do. There was a part of her just wanted to dust the bastard now. She wanted to use a piece of that crate and drive it through his chest. A larger part of her desperately wanted answers.

Before he could answer, the truck was backing up. He stood to help guide Gunn. When the truck stopped, he looked at Cordy. "Are you going to drive his car home or you want me to?"

"You can. I...just call me when it’s done. I need to go take care of something." She tied the strap of her dress back together and then took off her broken heels. She threw them in the trash before she walked out to where she had parked her car.

Angelus moaned as he raised his hand to his head. He felt something heavy around his wrists. He slowly opened his eyes to look at them. They were bound. He assessed the rest of his situation. He was chained and shackled along with a collar. He assumed that several hours had passed since the alley and now. Sitting up, he found he was in the cage, in the basement of the Hyperion. "You people could be creative," he said. "I've been here done this." He knew they could hear him. He could see the little camera with its annoying blinking red light in the corner.

Wesley stood watching the monitor, his arms were crossed in front of him. "I've always felt Angelus would be a worthy study. Why is or rather, was, he worse then any others? Is it the demon or did the human he was bode that much evil?"

Gunn came up from behind Wesley. He had just walked through the front doors of the Hyperion. He had to drop the girls off before he stopped by. Faith wanted to come by and beat on Angelus. She missed that. But you remind a woman that she has other shit in LA to kill, she generally goes off to take care of that. "He ain't for studying, Wes." He gestured with his chin towards the office. Lorne was on the phone, sitting at the desk, still rubbing his neck. "Lorne making the calls?"

He glanced back at Gunn. "He's not our Angel," he reminded Gunn. "Angelus is the worse of the lot. He never killed just to feed like other vampires. He killed for the shear enjoyment of it. Often without feeding. He also left his mark on his victims in the form of a cross on their left cheek. What other vampire in recorded history has done this?"

"You said it yourself, man. He is not our Angel. So get this shit on the road and send him back where he belongs." He paused for a moment. He knew all about Angel being dead. He looked directly at Wes. "She's suffering enough. Don't keep that monster around for a reminder. Either soul him and send him back or I will go down there and shoot him with a crossbow. Your choice."

"You know, I like this bondage thing as much as the next guy," Angelus called, "But its not as fun when I only have myself to play with. I'm sure you both know that since you both had the same minxy little wild cat, Fred...rwerow...Oooo...but now Gunn is with Faith and Gwen," he added. "Angel almost had him some of both of them. The idiot."

Wes paused for just a moment when he heard the insults Angelus was throwing out. He took a deep breath then gathered all the items. He started arranging them on the floor around the Orb. He had gotten distracted in the car and almost gotten into an accident. That was when he decided it was best to just wait until he was back at the hotel to retrieve Angel’s soul.

"Fred still recovering at your place from the attack?" Gunn meant the one that had taken Angel's life but he wouldn't come out to say it by name. When you said stuff like that out loud, it makes it even more true.

"Once his soul is in the Orb, we will keep the containment spell on it so the Orb doesn't go seek him out. That way we can do to him what was done to our Angel." Wesley paused and looked down a moment. "Yes. I think Fred was hurt more emotionally then physically."

"Shame Red is in Thailand. Would have been nice to see that little witch curse his soul. All we got is the permanent solution." He looked at the monitors when Wes mentioned Fred. Part of him would always love her. There was something so special about her. It just wasn't meant to be. He was happy with his little Gwen and Faith situation. With Fred though, she felt deeply and she showed it. Cordelia could play strong all she wanted but they all knew. With Fred, it was so much more raw and obvious.

When things were ready, Wes took up the book and opened the marked page. "I'm going to start. Hopefully in a few moments we'll have his soul."

"Didn't work in the car?" He knew Wes. He knew that he would have started the ritual as soon as he got his hands on the Orb. He crossed his arms over his chest and stepped back. He was still iffy on magics. All the hoodoo just didn't sit well with him. He was in agreement with Connor about that.

"I managed to place a containment spell on the Orb in the car," the Englishman said. "Now I just need to put out the locator to find the soul we are looking for to draw it to this side of the Veil."

"I don't need to know the hows or whys, English. You need me, I am going to be playing Playstation 3 in the break room." Gunn figured that he wasn't needed for this sort of thing. Wes could handle it on his own. Lorne was still on the phone to call in the big guns. Even Wes wasn't powerful enough to go putting souls back, not yet anyway.

"Hey! Room service! This ain't a way to get listed in the travel guides," the vampire called out. "I mean, call Hookers To Go. Or better yet send one of your ladies down. We know how they all secretly lusted after Angel...well, some not so secret. I can role-play and pretend to be good," he continued. "Really. Well, fact is, I am good...Go ask Lilah how I drilled her in the ass last night! So, be careful with that Orb there, 'cause I busted the others."

"I've had better." An all too familiar voice came from behind Gunn and Wes. There stood Lilah Morgan in all her glory. Her hand was bandaged up and she had some bruising around her face. She was standing just inside the lobby. At her side was a creature of sorts. Wrapped in purple and gold robes like some sort of king, it was almost transparent as it faded between this realm and others. The hood of the robe hid its face. "Wes, you remember Bernie."

Wesley turned to see his former lover when he heard her voice. Then he saw the creature next to her. He gaze though, went back to Lilah. "Lilah," he said in a soft tone.

"Senior Partners decided that dead Angel here is better than Angelus here." That was only partly the truth. The real story was that she didn't much care for Angelus killing her receptionist and then sodomizing her. She put up with a lot working for Wolfram and Hart but forced anal sex was not in her contract. Convincing the Senior Partners was a little bit harder though. In the end, the deal she had to make, she wasn't looking forward to the consequences. But if it kept Angel dead and Angelus away from her, she could live with it. It would be nice not to be beaten for information on a weekly basis.

Gunn frowned as he turned to see Lilah. He looked back at Wes. He caught that soft tone that Wes was suddenly plagued with. He shook his head. This was English's mess. He didn’t deal with Wes’ ex-girlfriends. He headed off for the break room to leave the two former lovebirds alone to talk or plot or whatever.

"I had thought they wanted Angelus on the loose," he said as he stepped towards her.

"Plans change." This was personal. She had killed Billy in the end and Angelus was going to get what was coming to him. She was going to do the worst thing possible and get rid of him forever. "Like I said. Dead Angel, preferred. You and the gang here re-soul him, send him back home. Better for us in the big picture."

Lorne stepped out of the office, not noticing Lilah there yet. He was rubbing at his temple, Sea Breeze in his hand already. "Bad news, crumpet. My..." Lorne stopped as he saw who was in the lobby. "What is the Queen of the Damned doing here? If she is here to break out the Soulless Wonder, I suggest you shoot her now."

Looking to Lorne, Wes shook his head. "No. Seems the Senior Partners want the Soulless Wonder resouled."

"Oh, yeah, I knew Lilah would be back for more," From the monitor came Angelus’ voice. He could sense that Lilah was up there and hear her all the way down in the basement. "C'me on DOWN, Lilah, babe." He started to undo his leather pants.

"Don't tell me you..." Lorne stopped again. He was easily distracted. Hours ago, he did have his head chopped off. "Bernie! Strudel! No wonder I couldn't get a hold of you." Lorne moved over to the creature, which was now more invisible than he was visible. He put an arm around him, leading him away from Lilah. These two had a lot to catch up on. "Did you see Junior's act at the Gardens? Fabulous."

Lilah glanced to the monitor when Angelus started talking and then she looked back to Wes. She was ignoring Lorne and the comments. She kept her eyes on Wes now. "Deal is done. Bernie is all yours."

"Lilah," he spoke, "thank you...and I'm sorry for what happened to you."

"I don't need your thanks, Wesley. I didn't do this for you." At least Lilah had the ability to lie well. Let him believe that it was all a selfish move on her part. That it was revenge against Angelus. That was only a small fraction of why she was doing this. She didn't say anything else. She just kept her eyes trained on Wesley.

Wesley only nodded. "I'll just finish then what I was doing so that Bernie can do what it is he needs too."

She was done here. She called out though, loud enough for a certain asshole downstairs to hear her. "Enjoy your last few hours of freedom, Angelus. I'm screwing you like you screwed me." With that final comment, she turned. She was having a great degree of difficulty walking but there was no way that she would accept any help.

"I would have split you in two, Lilah," he said, "if I'd been given the chance. You were such a tight fit too."

She didn't even hesitate or show a reaction to what Angelus had shouted over the monitors. He would be gone within the week. That is, if the forces of stupid could figure out how to send him back. If not, she had a feeling she would be paying another visit here. She wanted him gone and she had a knack at getting her way. She shut the door behind her as she left.

"Damn, you mean I got this hard-on for nothing!" Angelus whined.

Wesley started the incantation and as he did the air in the lobby seemed to stir. He continued and then finally the Orb burst with an inner glow. He opened his eyes to gaze down at the Orb. A soul in such a state was a beautiful thing. So beautiful that words could not describe it.

Cordelia had every intention of walking through the lobby doors when she got back from her personal trip. But she had seen Lilah there. She chose instead to go around and come up through the basement. She wanted to make sure Angelus was caged and chained. She just looked at him, her bag still on her shoulder. This was all her fault.

"Mmmm...mmmm..." he said as he stepped up to the bars. "You didn't play fair, Cordy. How can we build a relationship where trust is an issue?"

"Not planning on a relationship with you. I am planning to send you back to whatever Hell you are from." She gingerly put the bag down on the chair in the basement. "You owe me a new dress."

"Can't very well pay that debt while chained up in here, now can I?" Angelus held up the chain that was connected to his collar to emphasize his point.

"Oh yeah, that is really going to make me want to let you go. Oh here, let me just come unchain and uncollar and uncage you. Yeah...how about no." Cordelia said flatly. How stupid did he take her for? They had him right where they wanted him. There was no escaping now.

He leaned on the bars and just looked at her. He wasn’t going to take his eyes from her. "If you think about it, I need to thank you for releasing me," he said, "because I think Angel tried telling you a couple times about his memory thing that wasn't really brain fucking...but you just had to convince him it was." He knew that would hurt her. He had seen the flash in her eyes at the bar. He wanted to cause her pain, even if he was chained and caged. He continued. "You know, where I'm from you hurt him...oh goddamn, how you hurt him," Angelus lowered his voice and chuckled. "I couldn't have done it any better. You and the kid...man, fucking your own son. Well, maybe not by flesh, though you both got really fleshy and Angel...he saw the whole thing."

She already knew that this whole thing was her fault. She wanted so badly to believe that it was Angel. Perhaps, deep down, she knew her husband was dead and she was desperately clinging to something to keep that from being true. She knew that and she blamed herself for everything that had happened. She would blame herself every day for the rest of her life for it. She knew Connor blamed her too. "I found the Wolfram and Hart files about your dimension. I read them. Recap all you like. But pretty soon, you will be back to that twisted sick reality that a monster like you thrives on."

"Reading it just isn't the same as living it." He paused and looked her up and down. "Why don't you come on in here and I can take you to the dark side. It’s so much more fun, and babe, that body of yours was built for fun."

"Do any of these lines ever really work? Or are you just so used to hanging around idiots like Spike and Dru that you think everyone has the IQ of a sea monkey?" She paused for a moment to pick her bag up. She was getting ready to leave. "You know, part of me is hoping that Wes can't put your soul back. I would really enjoy watching Connor dust you. Especially after what I read."

Angelus rolled his eyes. "Spike is an insecure bastard who turned his own mother thinking he’d heal her and she only wanted to rape him after." He looked back at her, grinning. "I could drive you just as insane as Dru. I'd tie you in a chair and then I'd bring the babies in... Oh, yeah...I'd start with their cute little toes. One at a time...joint at a time...popping them off..."

"Not helping your case here. Must be forgetting that I am not stupid enough to go 'oh, he's so dreamy' and forget the fact that you are a soulless killing machine. You are the same as any other vampire out there. A problem that needs to be taken care. You think I fell in love with Angel for his body and in some strange way, that gives you an in, you are wrong. I look at you and all I see is the people you've killed, the lives you've destroyed. Hardly makes me want to let you out."

"Hey, I'm an artist, thank you very much. And I take my art seriously." He gave her a sour look. "Please, I'm far removed from other vampires. Most are just worthless pieces of shit..and not half as good looking as I am."

"Angelus...news flash...you ARE a worthless piece of shit." She started for the stairs. She had no idea why she let him run his mouth for as long as he did. Sometimes, she thought he liked the sound of his own voice better than actually killing people. He just liked to talk them to death.

"Oh, and while you're up there, babe, find me something in O+. I'm a little hungry. Be a good wife there." He holds up his left hand with the ring on it. His face held a shit-eating grin as he locked his eyes with hers.

"You're not my husband, soul or not." That was the last she said as she got to the top of the stairs. She pushed the door open and came out. She saw Wes in the lobby. Lorne was talking to something in the corner. She paused as she saw the Orb though.

Wesley looked to Cordelia. "You shouldn't have stayed down there, you know." The soul in the Orb glowed with the same patterns as Angel's had before. The shift in the colors seemed unreal.

"I have done so much this week I shouldn't have done, Wes. What was one more thing?" She sounded tired. Dealing with Angelus took all of her strength. She would never let him break her. She kept her eyes on that Orb though. "How could they be so alike and so different?" She looked back up to Wes for a moment. "I took those Wolfram and Hart files from your office. I read them all. I know what Angel is like in that world. CEO of Wolfram and Hart. Are we...are we making the right decision here?" She had no way of knowing that the files were not complete nor they were altered. She only had that to go on.

Wesley sighed. "I don't know, Cordelia," he said. "You got to know him better then we did."

Her eyes went to the monitor. She watched Angelus. She got to know Angel all right. She got to know him so well that she unleashed Angelus on this world. She closed her eyes for a moment, pulling herself together. "He felt like Angel." That was all she said. She opened her eyes and moved to put her bag at her desk. "Just do it. I want this over with. I want to get my answers and I want him sent back to where ever he is from."

Wesley nodded and he walked over to Lorne and Bernie so they could get started. Wesley came down with the things that Bernie had instructed. This was the second time at this so Wesley was certain he had everything. He made a binding circle on the table then pulled the Orb from the cloth bag. He placed it in the center.

Angelus came to the bars and watched the Englishman. Then he saw the Orb and it wasn't void. He shifted and swallowed hard. These bastards were really planning on doing this. This wasn’t going to be a little curse where some woman could release him. This was permanent containment.

"This will be over shortly," Wes said in that quiet tone of his as he continued to work. "Seems like you pissed off the wrong people, Angelus. A talent you seem to have across dimensions."

"It’s a gift, what can I say?" the vampire replied. "You know you can take that bauble and cram it up your ass. On second thought, you'd probably enjoy that." Angelus leaned on the bars. "You know, Wes, I could answer all the questions you have about me that Angel would never talk about because of that damn moral thing he has. I'm always a part of him, you know, no matter what you do. I'm always there, unlike him who is well...a floaty thing in a big glass marble."

"What can you tell me," he said as he turned to face the cage. "That you are ruthless? One of the biggest mass murderers in history? That you loved to torture your victims before the kill, put the fear in them because it made them taste sweeter?"

"Oh, he reads. Yeah, well, I know you spent long hours studying about me in books, but do books do the real thing justice?" Angelus looked up at nothing. "Why are you so in a rush to do this since, you know, for you Angel is dead. Why not leave him that way?" He looked back to Wesley. "C'me on now, Wes, you've tasted that darkness. You've experienced how erotic it is to be in its embrace," his voice was a whisper, but loud enough for the other to hear. "We could be a team, you and I. I'd help you kill whole nests and in turn..."

"In turn what? You'd talk him to death?" Cordelia was coming down the stairs now with her arms loaded down. Bernie floating behind her, his form still fading in and out of this realm. She got to the bottom of the stairs and looked to Wes. "Lorne went to check on Connor and Lillian upstairs." She set the rest of the materials down on the table. She moved to start setting up the candles around the cage.

Angelus rolled his eyes and turned to lean his back on the bars.

"Good," Wes quickly said. Angelus was right, though. He had tasted that darkness and it was such a temptation and always would be. "Good. I don't think it would be good to have him down here."

"Because Mr. Cruise here chopped his head off? I think not." She saw how quickly Wesley spoke. She moved over to him, touching his shoulder softly. She leaned to him, lowering her voice. "Don't let him get to you. That is what he wants."

"What I want is out of this cage and chains so I can make mad, passionate, never ending love to you, Cordelia." Angelus tried, in that moment to sound sincere. As with most of his words though, it was tinged with sadistic venom. The word love was not one he held in his vocabulary.

Wes just took a deep breath as he looked over to Bernie. The breath was partly caused from what Cordelia had said and partly from the never-ending commentary from the vampire in the cage.

Bernie hovered near the bars of the cage. He was close enough that Angelus could grab him, if he could take any sort of corporeal form in this realm. He had no visible eyes but the gaze he held bored into the soulless creature in the cage.

Angelus saw the thing and a chill ran through him. Few things scared him but this thing.... this thing was damn creepy. The thought that he would be locked up forever was also a very real fear.

Bernie's hand passed through the bars of the cage, going right through the steel. His fingers were unnaturally long and dark as pitch. He was reaching for Angelus. His arm seemed to grow and stretch out as he reached. He was a conduit. Much like others in this realm but his existence was everywhere.

Angelus moved back and he stumbled on his chains. "Stay away from me you fuckin' creep," he said as he caught his balance. He kept backing until he couldn't. His back was to the concrete wall behind him.

Cordelia tightened for a moment as she heard not only Angelus’ false wants but also his protests in regards to Bernie. She took in a breath and then moved over to light the candles. "Wes, you burn off that sage yet? I really think we have enough problems right now without more angry spirits or energies or whatever coming to this party."

"I'll take care of it as you finish," he told Cordy. "I wanted it to be fresh." He started preparing it to light. The sage would smoke a protective barrier to keep anything else away as they did this.

They had done this before, with Bernie. Cordelia moved through the motions as she drew the necessary symbols on the concrete. Restoring a soul was not an easy task. Restoring one without a curse was even harder. She stepped back up and looked to Wes. She nodded her head. All they had to do was hand the Orb to Bernie and this would be done.

"We can say we did this not for us but for where he came from," Wes commented. "From those files, his dimension suffered enough without having Angelus loose in it again."

"Yeah and from those files, he let you, me, Fred, and Gunn die. Some Angel." She stood back, leaning against the table. She looked to the Orb and then to Wes. "You ready?"

"Somehow, Cordy, I have trouble believing that," he said, and Wesley did have trouble believing it. He knew better than to blindly trust Wolfram and Hart files. He wasn’t dealing with the same level of guilt and betrayal that Cordelia was so he kept quiet about that for now. He nodded to indicate he was ready. "I think the sooner the better, for all of us."

Bernie moved his other hand towards the duo now standing near the table. His first hand was merely centimeters from Angelus. His fingers were reaching for the Orb, waiting for one of the two to hand it to him. His hand took on a more solid appearance so that he could hold the Orb in this dimension.

Wesley picked it up then handed it to Cordelia. He felt it was only her right to do this. It was her decision now. If she smashed the Orb, he would be more than ready with a stake to take care of Angelus. No matter what, this would be the end of Angelus.

Cordelia took in another breath. She couldn't believe they were doing this. A voice in her was screaming to just stake the lying bastard, especially after reading those files. Her heart was telling her that no, it was wrong. He might have made bad decisions in his world and she wanted answers as to why. She made her choice. She put the Orb into Bernie's hand and waited for the inevitable.

Angelus tried to duck past that hand. The chains were making his movement more cumbersome. Why the hell did they always have to ruin his unlife? Why couldn't they just let him be the demon he was meant to be?

Bernie's long fingers curled around the Orb as he brought it back to him. His arm seemed to fold it on itself as he touched the Orb to his chest. Angelus had no where to go as the hand he tried so hard to duck past shot into his chest and took a solid form, locking it into place.

The vampire froze in place, his hand coming up to grab the arm of the thing that was violating him. His chest felt like it was going to explode. If he could have paled, he would have. He was being lifted now, his feet not touching solid ground.

Bernie drew the soul out of the Orb, letting the swirling, multi-chromatic essence travel through his chest and then slipped down his arm. It curled around, moving like a snake as it moved towards its proper host. It slithered along, leaving behind faint traces of electric looking energy.

Angelus watched that cursed thing creeping toward him. He shook his head. "Noo..." he actually sounded like he was pleading with them. "You don't know what its like...you don't know..." his voice was hoarse. He didn’t want to be locked away forever, having to experience Angel's atoning, his nobleness, his fighting for good. The worst was Angelus not being able to do a damn thing about it. Hell was a resort compared to that.

Cordelia watched in rapt attention at what was going on. The first time, she was here but she couldn't look. She didn't want Angel, her Angel to suffer any pain, even as Angelus. But now, she wanted revenge. She wanted to see his face and watch the suffering on it. It was selfish but she wanted that hint of revenge. She crossed her arms over her chest, pleas falling on deaf ears.

The essence paused for a moment before plunging itself into Angelus' chest. Bernie's voice crept out, slinking along like the soul had done moments earlier. An old demonic tongue to secure Angel's soul into the body. It was meant to merge demon and man to one for now and forever.

Angelus screamed, the sound was both demon and human. His body convulsed on the end of Bernie’s arm. He passed out, held up by the arm sticking out of his chest.

Wesley stepped up from beside Cordelia to Bernie as he waited for the...well, whatever Bernie was to finish.

Bernie withdrew his arm from the vampire's chest, letting him drop to the floor like a bag of cement. He looked back to the two standing by the table. He nodded at Wes. It was done. His form started to flicker once more. He was having trouble staying in a solid form in this realm after the magic expenditure. He nodded at Wes as the man approached him.

"Thank you, once again, Bernie for your help," Wes told the being. "You must stop by for a spot of tea, it has been awhile. I just got an excellent blend in from England."

Bernie allowed his hand to once more take on a more bodily form. He touched Wes' shoulder. His body pitched forward, something whispered passing from the being to the former Watcher. With that final statement, Bernie's form flickered once more as he left this dimension.

: "I am going to bed, Wes. I have to pick the twins up tomorrow at Xander's." Cordelia said after Bernie disappeared. She didn't even look at the form of Angel on the floor. Her eyes were on Wes. "Don't let him out. I don't care if he has a soul now. He stays in the cage until we can send him back."

Wes watched Cordelia leave. He turned and grabbed a few things: a camping cot, some pillows, and a blanket. Unlocking the cell, he entered. He set the cot up and placed the pillow and blankets on it. He turned to the still form on the floor and set about unlocking his bonds. With that done, he stepped out and locked the door of the cage. He need to get back to Fred so that they could figure out how to send this Angel back to where he belonged.