Alternate Universe: Unexpected
Story Title: I Run to You
Chapter Title:


The Long and Winding Road


Time line:

July, 2004



Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004

The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004

Annie turned five on February 14th (she was born in 1999)

Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)

Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.


All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.

Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.



Angel’s back in Sunnydale … how did he escape the sea?


Notes: Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta, PaganBaby, for her wonderful suggestions, much needed corrections and always appreciated encouragement!!  


Music Referenced:

The Long and Winding Road, by The Beatles



ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:


Rating / Warnings:

NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.

  The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way

Many times I've been alone
And many times I've cried
Anyway you'll never know
The many ways I've tried

And still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don't keep me waiting here
Lead me to your door
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah



Two Weeks Ago:


“What the hell?!” Joe exclaimed as the trawl net opened above the deck of the large ship, spilling its contents onto the heavy conveyors used for sorting of the various fish and prawns that were usually snared.


This time, in addition to the fish, a large, metal shark diving cage dropped out of the net and broke apart at the welds when it hit the conveyor and bounced off onto the hard deck below.  That wasn’t all that unusual, over his thirty years as a trawl boat fisherman, he’d seen many unusual things drop out of the net – what he’d never seen before was a man.


Joe hit the emergency shutoff and everything stopped immediately – all the conveyors stopped moving and the nets stopped lifting the catch from the sea up onto the deck.  Usually, when the emergency shutoff was engaged, that meant someone had been caught in the conveyor belt … or some part of someone, usually an arm or a hand – so everyone else on board converged on the area to see what had happened.


“What’s going on?” the captain asked as he hurried down from the bridge of the ship to assess the damage – every second the nets weren’t hauling up fish was costing him money.


As everyone gathered around, Joe indicated the broken shark cage and the man that had apparently been in it.


“Is he … dead?” the captain asked, moving forward toward the man.  He didn’t know how he couldn’t be dead … the water where they were trawling was over three hundred meters deep and cold as a witch’s tit – or so his father used to say.


Suddenly, the dead man moaned and rolled over – his hair was long and straggly as was his beard, what was left of his clothes, a white shirt and black trousers, were torn and tattered – he had no shoes on at all.


“HOLY SHIT!” Joe and the captain both exclaimed as they jumped back from the man.


Angel blinked against the bright sun and coughed the salt water from his lungs as he tried to get his brain to focus on what was happening. Was this another hallucination? He’d had so many, he couldn’t be sure.  Then he heard the men start yelling ... he covered his ears against the suddenly too loud noise and closed his eyes again, blocking out the bright sun that was blinding him.


When something touched him, Angel jumped back and scurried on hands and knees across the deck, slipping on the wet, fish-covered wood to get away. He scrambled behind a large, wooden crate and sat with his back against it and drew his knees up to his chest, covering his head with his hands and arms. Surely, this new dream would pass soon and he could go back to the quiet serenity and black abyss of the deep water that he called ‘home’ of late.


“Hey man … are you – okay?” Joe asked Angel as he approached him slowly and reached a hand out to touch him.


Angel growled and his game face came up when Joe touched him.  Suddenly, Angel could smell something other than salt water and fish … he could smell humans – the demon could smell food.  Joe flinched back from Angel when he growled, but Angel used every ounce of energy he had and pounced on the unsuspecting man, burying his fangs deep in Joe’s throat as he pinned him to the deck.


All the other men started yelling and came running to Joe’s aid, kicking and hitting and pulling at Angel until they ripped him off their friend and threw the vampire back against one of the safety rails on the edge of the deck.  Angel growled as he stood back up and faced his attackers. Blood ran down his chin into his beard and he swiped at it with his fingers, bringing every drop he could up to his mouth as he stood in a low crouch, ready to spring at the next human that got within reach.


The demon had forgotten what food was …how it smelled, how it tasted and that small amount he’d gotten from Joe only whet his appetite for more.


“What the hell is that thing?” one of the men asked as they surrounded him and watched Angel suck the blood from his beard and fingers into his mouth.


“Whatever it is … it needs to go,” another man said as a group of six men walked slowly towards Angel. Each man had picked up a weapon of some sort as they advanced on Angel – clubs, harpoons, spear guns. 


Angel growled again and sprang at the closest man, but the others began beating him and stabbing him with their weapons. Angel screamed in surprise and pain, despite the wounds healing almost as quickly as they were inflicted, the harpoons tearing his flesh and clubs breaking his bones were still painful.


He released the man he had attacked and retreated quickly away from the group as their assault on him escalated.  Angel ran full speed into the safety railing at the edge of the deck and flipped over it – falling several stories to the near freezing water below.


The men gathered at the railing and looked down. “Whatever it was – it’s definitely dead now …”




“Daddy’s gone on holiday to the seaside without inviting us, my Spike,” Dru pouted as she sat next to Angel on the white sand beach.


“Bloody wanker, reckon he never did have any manners,” Spike empathized as he sat cross-legged on the other side of Angel in the sand.


Angel shook his head and tried to sit up – his face and body were caked in sand and he spit to get the grit out of his mouth to no avail.  He heard water lapping against the shore behind him and crawled slowly back towards it … immersing his body in the water and rinsing the sand out of his mouth and eyes …


Angel opened his eyes and looked back at Spike and Dru, who were both in old-fashioned Victorian bathing suits sitting on the white sand beach.


“W-what’s going on?” he asked them as he blinked his eyes, trying to focus.


Spike rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I told ya’ – he’s gone sack a’ hammers, Dru … let’s just dust him and get on with our lives …”


“Now, Spike … that’s not polite.  It’s still Daddy – You are still Daddy … aren’t you?”


“Are you real?” Angel asked her as he struggled to stand up.


“Poor Daddy,” Dru pouted as she stood up and extended a hand to Spike.  “C’mon, my Spike … Daddy’s gone swimmin’ with the shiny fishes and they’ve nibbled off bits of his mushy, pink brain …”


Spike stood up and lunged at Angel with a stake. Angel leaned away from it and fell backwards into the water and the stake in Spike’s hand stabbed nothing but air.


“Bugger!” Spike exclaimed as Dru tugged on his arm.


“Bad doggie! There will be no strawberries n’ cream for you!” Dru scolded Spike as she pulled him away from Angel.


“Wait!” Angel called after them as he got up and started stumbling weakly after them. “Wait! Who are you?”


Suddenly, Spike and Dru were gone and Angel was standing alone on the beach.  He dropped to his knees and covered his face with his hands … he couldn’t figure out what was real and what wasn’t.


“What’s the matter, sweet boy?” Darla asked, kneeling down next to Angel in the sand.


Angel sighed and met her eyes with his. “I’m … I’m lost – I don’t know where I am.  I should get home, sister will be worried.  Can you show me?”


Darla shook her head sadly. “You must find your own way,” Darla told him softly before she too vanished.


Angel dropped the rest of the way down into the sand and laid on his side as he hugged his knees to his chest and closed his eyes, wishing for this latest nightmare to end.  The water lapped against his back as the sun beat down on him and, before long, his skin began turning red in the California sun.


If he could just figure out how to get home … then everything would be alright.




“Hey, dude! What’s the 411?”


Angel opened his eyes to see a young blond man standing over him with a surfboard under one arm.  Angel scrambled to stand up and move away from the man – despite the wonderful aroma of ‘food’ he was putting off, Angel’s less than successful encounter with the ‘food’ on the ship was still fresh in his mind.


“Dude … are you like shipwrecked?” the surfer asked him. “That would be totally awesome! Did you have any, like bales? That would be bitchin’ – I could soooo use some primo ganja!”


Angel looked at the surfer with confusion then started walking quickly away from the ocean, away from the confusing man, and up towards the road.  He looked back every few feet to make sure the man wasn’t following him as he hurried away as quickly as he could in the deep sand, stumbling often as he made his way across the wide expanse of beach.


“You must find your own way …” the blonde woman had told him … Okay, he could do this – he’d just find something that was familiar – a landmark or something, then he’d know how to get home.


When Angel reached the road he stopped and looked up and down, but didn’t see anything that seemed familiar.  Then he saw them – the pair from the beach earlier – he could just see them on the horizon as they walked down the road to the right.  Since nothing else looked familiar, he turned to the right and began walking in that direction, as well, but kept his distance; he didn’t like that man at all and the woman, although nice enough, seemed peculiar.


After walking for nearly an hour he stopped and studied a large green sign that stood next to the road.


Oceanside … 1 mile

Sunnydale … 20 miles

San Diego … 50 miles


Angel read the sign over and over again … Sunnydale, Sunnydale … he needed to go to Sunnydale.  He didn’t know why, but something inside him told him that he needed to go to Sunnydale. It was the first time since starting this … whatever it was … journey? dream? … that he felt the least bit certain of what he should do.


“Hey Dude!” came from a station wagon with a surfboard on top of it that pulled up next to Angel on the road. “You like, need a ride, man?”


Angel looked in the car – it was the same blond guy that thought he was shipwrecked.


“Uh … Sunnydale?” Angel answered him cautiously.


“Dude! You don’t wanna go there! That’s one zombie-fest on crank! That is one seriously fucked up E-ticket ride!” the surfer informed him.


Angel tried to figure out what the guy was talking about … but gave up quickly.


“Sunnydale,” he said again.


The surfer just shook his head before speeding away, leaving Angel standing alone on the side of the road.  Angel looked at the sign one more time before he started walking again … Sunnydale was definitely where he needed to go.




Angel trudged along the side of the road, stopping to rest frequently in the underbrush off to the side or in culverts that ran under the road. He met a few other people as he walked, and even though they mostly smelled like food, he avoided them, unsure of what might happen if he dared another taste.  He assured himself that he could get food when he got home … when he got to Sunnydale.


Dru and Darla walked with him from time to time during his journey … he still didn’t know their names, but was happy for the company and happy that the blond man that had tried to stab him never came with the peculiar brunette again.


Angel wasn’t sure how long he’d walked – days? weeks? – when he finally made it to the colorful sign that said, “Welcome to Sunnydale”. It was after dark as Angel walked through the quiet neighborhood streets towards downtown. Anyone else that was out on the sidewalk crossed to the other side of the street away from him. Angel was glad for that … it meant he didn’t have to spend the extra energy to avoid the people – they were avoiding him. He kept his eyes averted from them – only hazarding quick glances around just to make sure no one was approaching. 


Before he got downtown, he came to Restfield Cemetery and stopped at the entrance – this was starting to look familiar.  Surely he wasn’t too far from home, now.  When he saw the sign for Revello Drive he turned and continued walking past houses, parks, and cemeteries – it all looked familiar now, but nothing looked exactly like home.


He stopped short as he came to 1630 Revello Drive … this was it! This must be what he was looking for! Angel approached the house slowly … there were lights on inside and he could hear voices. He slipped around to the side of the house and climbed up the tree there to the roof – he wasn’t sure why he did that, it just seemed like the thing to do.  He tried to lift the window, but it wouldn’t budge. He pushed on it harder, but couldn’t get the window to open. 


As he stood there trying to figure out what to do next, a light came on in the room and Angel moved to the side of the window, out of the light.


“Here we go, big boy,” Xander said as he laid JJ down in his crib and covered him with his blanket.


“Once upon a time, there was a boy named JJ that lived in Sunnydale. The boy grew up to be strong and smart and a great middle linebacker,” Xander spoke softly as he stroked his son’s dark hair and looked down at him with love and a certain amount of wonder. They had created this beautiful child … he and Anya; it was still a mystery to Xander how he got so lucky to have both a gorgeous and loving wife and such a handsome son.


“He got a scholarship to college, where he got all “A’s” in Rocket Science, and he broke all the records at the school for most tackles, most sacks, and most interceptions run back for touchdowns,” Xander continued with a smile.


“Then, after graduating early and with honors, he was drafted number one overall by the worst team in the NFL.  In his rookie year, he broke all NFL records, just like he had in college, and his team won the Superbowl after he recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown in the last seconds of the game,” Xander continued.


“He got all kinds of endorsement deals, his picture was on every billboard and magazine imaginable – he was even on the Wheaties box. He was on the Today Show and ESPN and even Oprah … He got his old man an invitation to the Playboy mansion … but he couldn’t go, ‘cause, well – bunnies,” Xander laughed lightly and rolled his eyes.


“He bought his mom a new car for every day of the week and a beach house up on a hill overlooking the ocean in Malibu – far away from the Hellmouth. The star football player met a beautiful girl and fell madly in love and she adored him and his family, who were now retired and living full time at the beach house.


“The football player and his girl got married in a beautiful ceremony at a castle in Monaco, which her parents loved, ‘cause they didn’t have to pay for it, and his parents loved because – duh! they got to go to Monaco … and they all lived happily ever after,” Xander concluded as JJ’s eyes closed.


“Sleep tight … sweet dreams,” Xander whispered, dropping a kiss on his son’s head. 


As Xander turned to leave JJ’s room, he thought he heard something move outside the window.  Xander walked over and looked out.  “HEY!” Xander yelled in surprise as he saw a shadowy figure on the roof outside.


Xander quickly grabbed JJ up and headed out of the room. Anya had come out of their room when she heard Xander yell and he handed JJ to her as he barreled down the stairs, grabbed his trusty wooden baseball bat, which had the handle end sharpened into a stake (it was his multipurpose bat – it worked equally well for humans or vampires), from behind the front door, and headed outside.


When the light came on, Angel pressed against the side of the house and stood as still as he could while he listened to the man talk.  His voice seemed familiar, but something was wrong – he just couldn’t figure out what it was. As Xander finished, Angel started to move back off the roof, but his foot slipped and he nearly fell.  When he heard Xander yell, he jumped down off the roof, but in his weakened state, he didn’t land on his feet, instead he bounced and rolled onto his back.


Angel was trying to get up as Xander rounded the side of the house with the bat. “HEY!!” Xander yelled again. “The cops are on the way!” Xander told him, which may or may not have been true – the Sunnydale cops were notoriously and purposely late to any call.


Angel scrambled back to his feet and climbed up and over the neighbor’s fence before Xander could get to him with the bat.  On the other side of the fence, two feist dogs growled and barked and latched onto his ankles.  Angel kicked and swatted at them as he made his way across the yard, finally kicking the dogs off as he clambered up the fence on the other side and away from them. 


He could hear Xander coming from the front and Angel turned and began running away from him, through backyards, over fences, trampling flowerbeds, and crashing through shrubbery until he finally came to another road and ran with all his strength until he was sure he was no longer being pursued. 


Angel collapsed behind a dumpster; pulling cardboard boxes over himself in case anyone happened by.  That hadn’t worked out as he thought it would … he was sure that was the right house – but that wasn’t his family in it.  Exhaustion finally overcame him and Angel fell into a fitful sleep as he tried to piece together all the confusing bits and bobs of the last days.


Angel stayed hidden behind the dumpster the whole next day, waiting until it was dark before venturing out again.  He wasn’t sure which way to go … other than not back the way he came, so he walked down back roads and alleys, avoiding as many people as possible – he wasn’t too keen on meeting more people, they all wanted to hurt him, it seemed.


He was able to catch an unsuspecting rat in one of the alleys as it fed on some Chinese food in a dumpster.  The taste of the rat’s blood wasn’t as good as that of the man’s on the ship, but it was food and it made him hungry for more.  He spent most of that night hunting rats in the alleys … his quest for home temporarily forgotten.


After sleeping behind another dumpster the next day, Angel began walking again the following night, trying to find anything familiar.  He came to a sign that read, “Crawford Street” and turned on it heading away from the center of town.


After walking for some ways, he suddenly felt a tingling down his spine. It was like nothing he could remember feeling before – at once frightening and exhilarating. When he heard voices coming from the house he was standing in front of, he moved across the street and ducked behind some bushes of the empty lot. 


A pair of blondes ascended from the garden of the house to the street and began walking in the direction that Angel had just come from.  Angel recognized the man from the beach – it was the same man that had tried to stab him.  But he knew as surely as he knew his name was ‘Liam’ that the tingling on his spine was coming from the woman with him … that must mean something important. 


Angel decided he would wait for the blonde woman to be alone before approaching her … he wasn’t sure how many more attacks he could endure.  Surely she would be able to tell him how to get home.


Back to current, Thursday, July 22nd, 2004


“Angel!?” Buffy exclaimed again as Angel huddled behind the tombstone.  He wanted to see her … this was what he’d been waiting for the last few days, but now that he was face to face with her, he wasn’t so sure this was a good idea, after all.


Buffy moved towards him slowly … her senses told her it was Angel … but her eyes weren’t so sure. Why hadn’t she recognized that feeling earlier? Perhaps because he was supposed to be twenty thousand leagues under the sea … not in Sunnydale stalking her … again.


Buffy studied him, his normally well kept hair was long and ratty, hanging past his shoulders, and his features were hidden by a thick, unkempt, dark beard, his brown eyes were sunken and his once well-muscled body was barely more than skin and bone. He looked like a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps that she’d seen in history books; barely more than a walking skeleton.


Angel pulled his knees to his chest and covered his head with his arms and hands as he cowered against the tombstone. When her hand touched his arm he flinched and started to scramble away on all fours, but Buffy grabbed his arm and held him firm. 


“Angel! Stop!” Buffy commanded as he struggled against her grasp.  “Stop!”


Angel finally stopped pulling against her and he lifted his confused and weary eyes up to hers. “Liam …” he said softly.


“What?” Buffy asked as she released her hold on him.


“My name is … Liam,” Angel told her, his voice still barely above a whisper.


“Liam … right,” Buffy agreed, looking at him with confusion. “What’s my name?”


Angel looked at her, searching her face with his eyes, before shaking his head. He didn’t know.


“How did you find me?” Buffy asked him as she went down to her knees next to him.


“Walked … a long way … not sure now,” Angel told her. “Can you help me get home? I’m sure my sister is worried – I’ve been gone a long while …”


“Your sister …” Buffy repeated, her brow creased in confusion. Angel killed his sister – along with the rest of his family, long ago.


“Yeah … ummm, well, maybe in a little while …” Buffy started to say when a vamp came up behind her.  Buffy felt him at the last moment and swung her stake around, catching him in the chest and raining dust down on her head as he disintegrated.


When she turned back around, Angel was scrambling away … just getting to his feet to take off running again.


“Ang … Liam! Wait!” Buffy called as she jumped up and rushed after him. She grabbed his wrist and pulled him to a stop, but he kept pulling against her and started swinging his free arm at her face. “Liam! Stop!” Buffy yelled at him as she ducked his punch.


“No … bad – bad men everywhere!” Angel informed her, still trying to get free and swinging his other fist at her.


“Angel … Liam, please stop and listen!” Buffy grabbed his other wrist as he swung at her and pulled him back to face her.


“No … bad men,” Angel repeated, looking at her with frightened eyes and trying to pull away.


“Ok … it’s ok. Bad man go ‘poof’,” Buffy told him, releasing one of his wrists to make a motion with one hand as if tossing sand in the air.


“Poof …” Angel repeated slowly as he stopped struggling, looking from her hand back to where the vamp had been.


“Yeah, ‘poof’ … as in exactly what Spike is gonna do to you when he sees you …” Buffy muttered to herself as she tried to think what to do now.  She could call Cordy … but if Angel decided to bolt from them or fight them, they’d never be able to hold him. Even in his weakened state, he was still a vampire and still had vampire strength – although certainly not as much as he’d had before.


“Yes! Yes … this is the girl!” Angel suddenly turned to the side and started talking to an invisible person. 


“Yes, I’m sure.  No … no, you’re wrong,” Angel told his unseen friend, shaking his head adamantly.


“Liam, who are you talking to?” Buffy asked, waving her arm in the air in the direction he was facing, just to make sure there wasn’t an actual invisible person there.


“My friend … she walked with me …” Angel told Buffy.


“Ahhhh…good – imaginary friends are good …” Buffy said, rolling her eyes and sighing deeply.  She had to get him somewhere safe until she could figure out what to do next.  Maybe if he had some blood, he’d get a little more lucid.


“Okay, we’re gonna go to the school … you remember the high school, don’t you, Liam?  We had big fun there before … fighting The First and all with that pretty necklace you gave me,” Buffy told him as she took him by the elbow and began guiding him towards the high school.  “No one will bother you down in the basement … no one ever goes down there anymore.”


“I need to get home,” Angel protested lightly as he let her guide him out of the cemetery and down the sidewalk towards the school.


“I know … I’ll work on that. But right now, you need to get some of your strength back, ok?” Buffy told him and Angel nodded his agreement.


What the fuck am I going to do now?! Buffy thought as she guided him down the sidewalk towards the high school.  Spike will kill him and probably me too if he finds out I helped him …


The Slayer dream with Angel saving Annie and JJ from the unseen shooter flooded Buffy’s mind … then morphed into Cordy on her knees begging Buffy to help her find Angel. After all these years living in Sunnydale, Buffy knew there were no coincidences on the Hellmouth … she had to help Angel now so he could help Annie and JJ later – of that one thing, she was now sure.  How she would convince Spike of that remained a mystery to her, however.


She thought about calling Cordy again … maybe … maybe if Buffy helped them get him up to L.A., they could lock him in that cage in the basement at the Hyperion until he got better.


Suddenly, Angel pulled away from her and ducked in behind a large bush next to the sidewalk. Buffy rounded the back side of the shrub to find him cowering behind it, curled up into as small a ball as he could get.


“Ang … Liam, what’s wrong?” Buffy asked as she knelt beside him.


“People ... bad.”


“People?” Buffy questioned, looking back towards the sidewalk.  There was a young woman walking down the sidewalk towards them – that was the only ‘people’ Buffy could see.


“You’re afraid of people?” Buffy asked him, her brow furrowed in confusion again.


“People hurt … don’t let them see me, that’s best,” Angel answered quietly, his eyes full of fear as they met hers.


“But you’re not afraid of me …” Buffy pointed out.


“You’ll help me get home … I can feel it here,” Angel told her running his hand to the back of his neck.


Buffy sighed.  “Ok … the people, uh, person, is gone.  C’mon, it’s not far – I won’t let anyone hurt you, ok?” she asked him as she stood up and offered him her hand.


Angel looked at her, unsure. “Are you sure?” he asked her, still hiding behind the bush.


“Yes … I’m very sure. Trust me …” Buffy told him. 


She felt like a hypocrite saying that to him … she was the one that dumped him to the bottom of the ocean, she was the one that made him this way in the first place … now she wanted him to trust her. 


She tried to remind herself of all the stuff he did that drove her to do that – suddenly Spike’s voice rang in her head listing all of Angel’s offenses … removing his soul, breaking their bond, driving a wedge between them with that videotape which made it easier for Marcus to kidnap Annie and Lorne … It wasn’t like she hadn’t warned Angel before...


Then she heard Cordy telling her that if she’d have given Angel a little friendship instead of just turning away from him – if she had worked with him, helped him out, then he wouldn’t have been driven to do those things just to get her attention …  He didn’t love Spike, he loved you … he gave you all the money …


Buffy closed her eyes as she felt tears threaten, but all she could see when she closed her eyes was Angel’s gaunt face; his confused and frightened eyes staring back at her.


How could she drop this on Cordelia?  It wasn’t Cordy that did this to him, it was her. He didn’t even remember her … he most certainly wouldn’t remember Cordelia.  Buffy remembered how she felt when Spike was under Dru’s thrall and didn’t remember her … it might break Cordelia’s heart if Angel not only didn’t remember her, but was actually frightened of her.


Buffy wondered what would happen when Angel remembered it was her he had to thank for his current situation; that little revelation could send everything spiraling from bad to worse.  Until then that happened, she felt it was her duty to keep him safe and help him recover – it was up to her.


Angel pulled Buffy out of her thoughts as he took her hand.  She opened her eyes and pulled to help him stand up, giving him a small smile as he got back to his feet.


She led Angel to the high school, down the sewer entrance and into the basement. They passed a few more people along the way, but Buffy put herself between them and Angel, and Angel didn’t try to bolt on her again. Buffy led Angel into one of the small storage rooms in the basement of the high school and rummaged around until she found some old cushions and blankets for him to make a bed out of. 


“Ok – I’m gonna go get you some blood, ok? Sit down and stay here until I get back,” Buffy instructed him.


“Do you understand? STAY!” Buffy said, holding her hand out flat like she was training a dog.


“Sit. Stay,” Angel repeated and nodded as he sat down on the makeshift bed on the floor.


“Good,” Buffy told him, as she resisted the urge to add “boy” to it. She turned and left the room, closing the door behind her.  “This is sooo not good…” she muttered as she took off for the butcher shop to get some blood.


Buffy stopped in the school library on her way back and grabbed some books … hopefully Liam liked to read as much as Angel used to.  At least it would give him something to do until she could get back here again and hopefully keep him from roaming.


Angel morphed into game face involuntarily when Buffy entered with the blood – the smell of fresh food overwhelming him. He jumped up from the makeshift bed and grabbed the bag from her hand, spilling some of the blood on the floor, as he raised the first container to his mouth and drank ravenously.  Blood ran out the sides of his mouth, down his chin and beard and stained his chest and what was left of his shirt.


“Okay then …” Buffy started as she sat the books down on a table. “I guess that hit the spot …” she said as he opened the second container and drained it, as well.  Buffy brought three quarts … she thought that would hold him until she could get back again, but apparently Angel had other plans, as he opened the third and quickly gulped it down, as well.


When Angel finished, Buffy gathered up the empty containers and put them back in the bag.  Buffy took Angel’s left hand in hers and looked at the ring on his finger – the one that held the Gem of Amarra.  She thought about taking it off him – taking it back home with her.  The ring twirled loosely on his bony finger, and Angel began to pull it off.


“You’re gonna help me get back home, you can have it,” Angel told her.


Buffy stopped him from sliding the ring off. What if that was the only thing keeping him the least bit lucid … or even the only thing keeping him un-dusty? 


“No, you keep it. Don’t take it off, ok? It’s important that you keep it on,” Buffy told him as she dropped his hand.


“Is it like ruby slippers?” Angel asked her, looking at the ring with awe.


“Ruby slippers …” Buffy pondered that a moment … The Wizard of Oz. “Yeah, something like that – you need it to get home,” she agreed, hoping that would convince him to keep it on.


Angel nodded slowly and closed his fist to make sure the ring didn’t move off his finger.


“Ok – now you stay here. I’ll be a while, but I’ll be back, ok?” she asked Angel and he nodded slowly.


“I brought you some books … you remember how to read, right?” Angel looked at the books on the table and nodded slowly again.


“Ok, good. You stay here and rest and read, but whatever you do, do not leave this room,” Buffy told him sternly and Angel nodded firmly.


“When I come back, I’ll bring some clothes and we’ll see if we can’t get some of that fishiness off you … Ok?” Buffy asked again, crinkling up her nose.


Angel looked down at his tattered and now blood-stained clothes and nodded again.  Despite what the brunette woman told him about this girl being trouble, he was right to trust her – she was going to help him get home.


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