The days after Angel left again for LA passed quickly for Xander.
He still didn't feel as though he'd gotten any closure from the souled vampire, but with Spike to hold him as he slept every night, the nightmares were kept at bay.
Sometimes, the glimmer of a memory would rise and threaten to send Xander back into the old blind panic, but Spike was always there with his soothing hands and calming voice, holding him and reassuring him, and sometimes vice versa.
Barely anyone even blinked an eyelid when Xander informed them that Spike was staying with him again. Giles just handed over the remainder of the the blood he had in his fridge and Buffy made a offer to ash Spike if he put his feet up on the coffee table.
Only Willow's reaction had any weight. The little redhead took a long searching look between Spike and Xander, then her green eyes seemed to widen in realisation and she gave Xander a small, encouraging smile.
Xander wasn't sure what her reaction meant, but since she didn't seem to disapprove about anything, he didn't let it worry him.
As for him and Spike, things hadn't really progressed any further than a few kisses and a lot of cuddling.
Sometimes Xander wanted the blond vampire so badly that he felt as though his skin would burn off with the heat of his desire. And he knew very well that Spike felt exactly the same at times.
But neither of them were willing to make the step quite yet. They were both too afraid of ruining what they had. Or like a mirage in the desert, they believed it would all suddenly vanish the instant they tried to touch it and they'd wind up with nothing but a handful of hot sand.
They had wordlessly agreed to keep whatever it was that they had a secret from the Scooby Gang, but every so often while at a Scooby meeting or out patrolling, it would come out despite them both and there wasn't a damn thing either of them could do about it.
It came out in the unthinking touches, the banter and the wordless attraction that hung between them like a cloud, the tension so thick you could almost *smell* it.
Xander noticed Willow watching them curiously on occasion, and more than once, the redheaded witch had caught him with his hand on Spike's shoulder or Spike's hand on his back or in a similar gesture. Xander knew his lifelong friend was very close to figuring it out, if she hadn't worked it out already.
"Okay pick teams and we'll move out," Buffy told the scoobies gathered in the Magic Box, preparing for patrol.
Xander rolled his eyes. "Could you make it sound a little less like we're picking teams for Little League?" Xander replied. "I do have some dignity left, you know."
Buffy blinked at him in mock suprise. "You do?" she teased him. "We'll have to do something about that then."
Willow gave her friend an affectionate glance. "Xander never got picked when we chose teams, when we played in the summer," she informed the others. "He used to trip over the bases, so no one wanted him."
Xander feigned a glare at the redhead, before turning back to Buffy. "Relax," he told her. "Willow's already beaten you to it." He glanced around at the others invitingly. "Anyone else want to take a swing while I'm already down?" he asked.
"I'd pick you for my team, luv," Spike told him softly. The words were only meant for Xander, but his voice carried a little more than he had meant it to.
The Scooby Gang stared at Spike, collective jaws dropping.
"What?" Spike challenged them. "I figured I could use the whelp's hide for extra balls and the like," he explained rather lamely.
"Thanks," Xander told him dryly. "I'm touched, Bleachboy. Really."
Spike gave him a grin.
"I'll go with Spike," Willow chirped up immediately.
Xander gave his friend a quick look and caught the smug look in her eyes and the sly glance she threw in his direction.
Oh, yeah. She knew.
"Right," Buffy said, completely oblivious to what else might be going on. "Xander, you're with me. Giles?" she prompted the ex-librarian.
"What?" he glanced up from the book he was looking over with Tara. "Oh, er, no, I think I'll finish up here," he told her.
"I'll stay too," Tara spoke softly, after a knowing look at her girlfriend.
"Right then," Buffy ordered. "Let's move out then."
"Sir, yes, sir!" Xander retorted sarcastically, ducking the playful swing she took at him as they made their way out the door.
"I suppose you're going to threaten to do nasty things to my gizzards, if I ever hurt him," Spike drawled to the little redhead once they were well out of hearing of the others.
"Yeah, actually," Willow smiled at him, angelically. "But I was going to go with eviscerating every single miniscule particle of you with a Descimation Spell," she informed the blond vampire, cheerily.
Spike resisted the urge to smirk at her and gave her a serious look. "Well, you needn't bother, Red," he told her honestly. "I'm not going to hurt him. I'm not going to let anyone hurt him." The last was spoken with quiet determination.
Willow gave him a long look. "Yes, I know," she replied softly. "That wasn't the only reason I came with you, though," she went on. She gave him a direct look. "I want to know what Angel did to Xander. He's the reason you beat Angel up, isn't he?"
"The big poof needed a beating, anyways," Spike answered evasively.
"But you had a reason this time," she pulled Spike back to the point. "And I want to know what it is. And I get the feeling that if I bring it up with Xander, all I'll get is a blank look."
"That's all you be getting from me too, Red," Spike replied, not meeting the witch's gaze.
Willow gave him exaspperated look and then went back to pondering aloud. "It can't have really been anything Angel has done," she mused. "He's hardly been anywhere near Xander with that soul of his. But Angelus..."
She saw Spike's jaw tighten immediately.
"But Angelus could've done something to him," she went on, keeping her eyes firmly fixed on Spike's for anymore tell-tale reactions. "But surely Xander would've told us, if not Buffy."
Spike's eyes darkened dangerously. "Some things aren't that easy to share, pet," Spike told her, without thinking. His expression tightened again as he realised his mistake.
"If he didn't turn him, and he didn't drain him," Willow continued her musing. "Which he didn't. Obviously. Then, what could be so bad that he..." she trailed off, her eyes widening. "Oh goddess," she gasped, her lower lip trembling and her eyes filling with tears. She turned to Spike for affirmation.
Spike's expression was filled with self-hatred. "I knew," he admitted. "Angelus would come home gloating about his cleverness. I knew," his voice dropped to a whisper. "And I did nothing," he finished, the self-loathing thickening in his throat.
Willow bit her lip and quickly wiped her eyes clean, swallowing the lump in her throat. "He wanted Angel dead so badly," she said to no one in particular. "We just thought he was jealous. The things we called him..." She looked at Spike, mortified. "And all that time he was...oh Goddess, how could he ever forgive us?"
Spike wrapped one arm around the witch and gave her a squeeze. "You know how, pet," Spike told her softly. "He's Xander. His friends always come first."
Willow shook her head, pulling away from the vampire, still caught up in her shock and mortification. "How can *I* ever forgive us? Oh, goddess..." she trailed off.
They walked in silence for a long while, both caught up in their thoughts. It was just as well it was a quiet night for the Hellmouth, and they didn't run in anything remotely Hellmouth-y. Neither of them were in any state of mind for a fight.
Eventually, they finished their rounds and returned to the Magic Box, where Xander was waiting for Spike outside. Buffy had thankfully already gone home, so she didn't witness Willow's headlong run into her friend's arms and ask questions.
"Oh god, Xander, I'm so sorry," Willow cried into Xander's hesitant embrace.
Xander's eyes widened as he realised what Willow was referring to, then rapidly filled with tears. His arms tightened around the little witch and he began to cry with her.
"Oh Wills," he sobbed. "I wanted so badly to tell you, but..." he trailed off.
Willow didn't answer, just hugged him closer to her, burying her face in his shoulder.
They stood there for a long time, arms wrapped around each other, just holding each other, while Spike stood guard of them a few feet away, his eyes dark and unreadable.
When they finally broke apart, Spike was at Xander's side instantly, sliding his arm around the boy and pressing a soft kiss to his temple as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Xander was not suprised that the blond vampire did not bother with discretion in front of the little redhead. Willow had probably known about them as long as they had.
"You won't tell the others, will you?" Xander asked of Willow.
"No," she replied immediately. "Not if you don't want me to. But," Willow regarded her friend seriously, "you're going to have to tell them sometime."
Xander shook his head in denial. "No, I..." he trailed off briefly. "I can't," he whispered. Spike instinctively pulled him closer. "I couldn't stand their disappointment," he finished finally in a barely audible voice.
Willow looked as though she had been punched in the stomach. "It isn't your fault, Xander," Willow stared at her friend. "Oh, goddess, you didn't think...Xander, they'd never be disappointed in you." She gave him her resolve face. "*I'd* never be disappointed in you. Ever. And especially not for this." She held his gaze for a long moment, making sure he got the message.
Xander didn't answer, just dropped his gaze to his feet. Spike immediately pulled him into a half-embrace from the side.
Willow reached out and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "It's up to you, Xander," she told him softly. "But you have to know that we'd never be disappointed in you."
Xander glanced and up and nodded a little reluctantly. It seemed to satisfy Willow.
The little redhead made her way to the door of the Magic Box, then suddenly stopped unexpectedly and rose up on her tiptoes to give Spike a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thanks for looking after him," she told the vampire, before disappearing inside.
Xander looked after in amazement. "She kissed you," he observed. His expression fell into a familar grin. "I wonder if I should be jealous," he pondered, his humour once again bouncing back, regardless of the situation.
Spike smirked at him. "Think we can talk her into a threesome, pet?" he asked as they began to make their way down the darkened streets of Sunnydale, arms still firmly wrapped around each other.
"She has a girlfriend, Spike," Xander pointed out.
"Foursome, then?" Spike shot back with a grin. "We could...work spells together."
Xander gave the vampire a searching look. "What if I don't want to share?" he asked seriously.
Spike's grin turned to a gentle smile. "Then, that's fine by me, luv," he told Xander seriously.
They walked a little further.
Spike's grin turned sly. "You can just watch instead," he said.
Buffy cursed as she turned the handle on the front door and found it wouldn't budge. Dawn was in LA, staying with their father and her mother was staying overnight at the hospital to have some tests done.
And Buffy, defender of the world, one of the best vampire Slayers in history, and general superhero, had left her keys beside the till in the Magic Box.
"Damnit!" she swore. There was no way she could break into the house without breaking something.
Buffy had insisted that her sister and her mother make sure the house was unpenetrable, even when no one was home. They all knew very well, that while vampires needed to be invited, there were plenty of other nasties that didn't need an invitation who were just as deadly.
And while Buffy could easily smash a window, she doubted very much that her mother would be impressed with her, if she did.
With a sigh, the petite blond Slayer began the walk back to the Magic Box.
She was about halfway there when she heard two very familar voices echo down the darkened streets.
Normally, Buffy would never hide from her friend and sometime ally, but something about their exchange, or perhaps something deeper, told her that maybe now would be a good time to start. After all, there was no harm in a little eavesdropping, was there?
Buffy slipped quietly into an alley and listened carefully as the blond vampire and dark-haired slayerette approached.
"That wasn't very funny," she heard Xander's voice. He sounded like he was almost...pouting?
Spike chuckled. "I thought it was," the vampire replied.
"You also think ripping the heads of puppies is amusing," Xander pointed out. "But I'm guessing that if you slipped that into a stand-up routine, the audience wouldn't be too impressed."
"You've obviously never seen a headless puppy," Spike said knowingly.
"No, I haven't," Xander answered. "And for future reference, I don't particularly want to, so if you're planning on giving me one for my birthday, forget it."
Buffy frowned. They sounded as if they were...joking around. They almost seemed friendly. Usually, the two of them only ever exchanged insults. What had changed?
"All I suggested was a little bit of play with the witches," Spike defended himself. "No need to get so defensive about it."
Buffy's eyes widened. Spike had suggested what? Oh, she was going to dust him for that. Well, at least scare him a bit. Buffy slipped her hand in her jacket to grasp her stake and was about to step out of the alleyway when she heard Xander speak again:
"But you weren't going to let me play, too," he said in the pouty little voice.
Buffy froze, trying not to choke on her suprise. This wasn't what it sounded like. It couldn't be.
Just then, the two of them walked past her alleyway and she saw that their arms were wrapped firmly around each other and at the moment Spike was looking at Xander with what appeared to be a leer on his face.
Buffy stood very, very still and continued to watch them.
"What can I say, pet?" Spike drawled. "*I* don't like to share, either." The blond vampire began to nuzzle Xander's neck. Buffy watched as his tongue slipped out between his lips and began to trace designs on Xander's neck.
Xander gasped and they stopped walking entirely. Xander tugged Spike's face towards his own and captured the vampire's lips in a passionate kiss. Their bodies pressed together, tightly. Buffy watched on in shocked amazement.
Eventually, they pulled apart. "We should go home," Xander suggested a little breathlessly. "Now." His voice rang with needy demand.
Spike's eyes darkened. "Are you sure, pet?" the blond vampire asked Xander seriously.
"Ohh, yeah," Xander replied, rocking his hips against the vampire's.
"I just mean..." Spike trailed off, giving Xander a significant look. Buffy felt certain that she was missing something under the innuendo.
Xander nodded immediately. "Angel's back in LA," he said. "I never have to see the bastard again. And I *want* you so badly, that..." he trailed off, becoming rapidly distracted by Spike licking his lips. Xander leant forward and kisssed him again.
"I'll never let him hurt you again," the blond vampire declared, when they broke apart again. "I'll never let anyone hurt you again. You're *mine*." They kissed again. Even more feverently this time.
"Home," Xander ordered. "Now." And with that the two of them began to half-walk, half-run all towards Xander's apartment.
Once they were a safe distance away, Buffy stepped out of the shadows of the alley and stared after them in confusion.
Angel had hurt Xander? And Spike was protecting Xander as well as...no, she didn't want to go down that train of thought just yet. Was that why Spike had beaten up Angel?
A pang of guilt shot through Buffy. If Angel really had hurt Xander, she should've been the one to beat Angel to a bloody pulp. Instead she had accused Xander's defender and threatened to stake him. And what had Angel done to Xander? And what kind of friend was she if she didn't even know?
Buffy had very few moments of clarity in her life. One was when she first accepted her duty as the Slayer, another was the moment before she sent Angel to Hell, the moment when she stabbed Faith, the moment she defeated Adam, and those few minutes before Riley had left in the helicopter.
This moment would have to be the latest one.
Memories flashed through her mind:
//Giles apartment. Miss Calender dead. Giles missing.
"So Giles is gonna try to kill Angel then?" Cordelia asks.
"Well, it's about time somebody did." Xander replied.
"Xander!" Willow chided her friend.
"I'm sorry," Xander apologised, "but let's not forget that I hated Angel long before you guys jumped on the bandwagon. So I think I deserve a little something for not saying 'I told you so' long before now. And if Giles wants to go after the, uh," he meets Buffy's gaze. "Fiend that murdered his girlfriend, I say, 'Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!'"//
//The cemetry. A sick Buffy fights off Angel.
He punches her in the gut, then grabs her by the neck and shoves her around and into a corner column of the small mausoleum. She is dazed and tries to regain her balance, but doesn't get a chance because Angelus wastes no time punching her in the face and knocking her flat on her back. He gets on top of her and pins her arms down.
Angelus leers over her. "Uh-oh. This does *not* look good for our heroine," he drawls derisively.
He starts to bend down to bite her, but just then Willow throws Xander's jacket over Angelus' head. As she backs away, Xander grabs his head under the jacket, punches him and knees him twice in the face.
Buffy catches a glance of Xander's face as he belts into Angel. There is a sick kind of satisfaction in his expression, mixed with a fierce anger and hatred, and an intense fear.//
//The library. The air is thick with tension. She and Willow have just announced that they have the curse to restore Angel's humanity.
Xander meets her gaze angrily. "Hi! For those of you who have just tuned in, everyone here is a crazy person," his gaze becomes a glare. "So this spell might restore Angel's humanity? Well, here's an interesting angle," Xander's voice becomes harsh. "Who cares?" he demands.
"I care," Buffy answers softly.
Xander's glare does not falter. "Is that right?" he replies coldly.
"Let's not lose our perspective here, Xander," Giles interjects before things become too heated.
Willow stares at Xander in angry disbelief.
Xander does not budge. "I'm Perspective Guy," he answers. "Angel's a killer."
"Xander..." Willow warns her friend.
"It's not that simple," Buffy insists.
Xander's look becomes sickly disgusted. There is a tinge of fear there. "What? All is forgiven? I can't believe you people!" he exclaims, a slight hint of desperation in his voice.//
//The morning before Buffy sends Angel to Hell. Outside the mansion with Xander. The light is almost painfully bright.
"Willow..." Xander begins. "Uh, she told me to tell you..." he trails off, his eyes darkening with barely repressed fear and hatred.
"Tell me what?" Buffy prompts him.
Xander's voice is stone cold when he replies. "Kick his ass."//
//The library. The day after the Valentine's Day dance at the Bronze. Running through Angel's history with Giles.
"Here's one," Giles tells her. His face grows tense as he reads.
Buffy becomes concerned. "What is it?" she asks.
Giles sighs and looks down, refusing to meet her gaze. "Angel," he begins. "He, uh...he," he glances up and catches her gaze, a sick expression in his eyes. "He rapes the close friend of his victim and carves 'Love Angel' into her back."//
//In the cafeteria line with Xander, the day after the debacle with the love spell.
"So you and Cordy an item again?" Buffy asks Xander.
He smiles a little sheepishly. "Yeah, maybe that spell worked after all," he muses.
"Xander," Buffy chides him. "You don't need a spell to be wanted," she tells him, poking his back, teasingly.
He flinches. Hard. He winces briefly in pain, but his expression clears so quickly Buffy isn't sure of what she saw.
He looks a little sick as they eat their lunch.//
//Xander hastily backing away from Angel in the Magic Box. The relief and anger that washes over his face when Angel is called away.
"Would someone remind me again why we need Deadboy here?" he demands.
"Xander, you know why," Willow begina placatingly.
"No," he replies. "I don't. I don't understand why he's even welcome here after..." he trails off, breathing becoming uneven and the sweat beginning to flow off him. "I can't deal with this," he mutters and pushes open the door and runs out into the night.
A few minutes later Spike follows him.//
Buffy leant heavily against the brick wall, shaking with anger as she realised the truth. "Oh god, oh god," she chanted under her breath.
What Xander must have been through. What he must have had to deal with all by himself. Not willing to let them help him. Not willing to let them have to suffer too. Protecting them. Protecting *her*.
The rage surged in Buffy's veins. And Angel. How could he have let Xander continue to suffer to the extent where two years later, he was still shaking in fear at the sight of his rapist's body?
Without even realising her own intentions, Buffy raced to the Magic Box and stormed inside.
Giles, Tara and Willow looked up in suprise at the raging Slayer.
She turned to Giles. "Give me the keys to your car," she demanded.
Giles frowned. "Buffy, I.." he broke off and began to clean his glasses nervously. "I don't understand. Has something come up?"
"I need to go to LA," she told him. "There's something I have to take care of. Right now."
Willow's eyes widened. They were still slightly blood-shot from her teary session with Xander, but not so much that it was noticeable. The tears threatened to rise again.
"You know," the redheaded witch breathed.
Buffy turned on her. "You mean you've known about this and you didn't bother to tell me what was going on?" she demanded, angrily.
"Only since tonight," Willow replied quickly. "Spike and I talked, and I..um, guessed."
"Would someone please inform *me* of what's going on?" Giles interuppted, annoyance evident in his voice. "Especially, since it's my car which is playing a vital role in...well, in whatever this is."
Before Willow could tell Buffy not to, she turned to the Watcher and replied.
"Remember how we thought Angelus had settled on flowers for Valentine's Day?" she reminded him. "Well, it turns out he sent me another gift, only it got...lost in the mail."
Giles eyes darkened. Mention of Angelus could never be good. "What do you mean?" he demanded.
"I mean," she replied, her voice thick with anger. "That I'm almost a hundred percent certain that Xander has a scar on his back that reads 'Love Angel'."
If Willow and Buffy had never seen Ripper before, they certainly got acquainted with him now. Giles' eyes darkened to almost completely black orbs and his face was set in tense, determined, and angry lines. He went around the shop collecting weapons. Not long distance ones, but close contact ones like clubs and staffs.
"I'm coming with you," he told Buffy matter-of-factly.
"Giles--" Buffy began, but the Watcher cut her off.
"Xander's may as well be my son," he said frankly. "I'm coming with you," he repeated. He packed the weapons into a sportsbag and looked at her inquiringly. "Shall we?"
Willow closed her book and stood. "I'm coming as well," she told them.
Buffy nodded. "Let's go, then" she instructed them.
"I'll stay here until you get back," Tara offered immediately. "I can sleep out back."
Willow gave Tara a quick thank-you kiss on the lips and then the three of them marched out of the shop.
Giles had never been happier that he had finally gotten rid of the Citoren, than when he was speeding at almost full speed down the stretch of highway between Sunnydale and LA. The rate in which they had covered the distance would probably rival most professional racers.
Protective rage was one hell of a driving force.
It was a little past two in the morning when Buffy, flanked by Willow and Giles stormed into the Hyperion Hotel, weapons in hand and faces blank of anything except pure rage.
Cordelia blinked as they arrived. Working for a vampire meant keeping unusual hours, which meant two in the morning was a fairly usual time for her to be at work.
Wesley and Gunn were out checking a lead, and Angel was in his room, brooding, like he had been since he had gotten back from Sunnydale covered from tip to toe in bruises and refusing to tell her anything about it.
Thanks to his rapid vampiric healining, the bruises had cleared up, but from the look of the angry scoobies that had just stormed in, Cordelia got the feeling that was a purely temporary arrangement.
"What the--?" she began to ask, but Willow cut her off, by tossing her a metal rod which appeared to be some sort of baton.
"Trust me, Cordelia," she told the ex-cheerleader. "You're going to want in on this."
Cordelia wavered for a moment, but her old loyalty to the Scooby Gang clicked in, overriding her current loyalty to Angel.
Besides, something huge must be going down if cup-of-tea-and-a-book- night-in-Giles was weilding a big hunk of wood wearing a look that could kill.
She caught the baton and followed suit. "He's upstairs," she told them.
As a group, they marched upstairs, Cordy leading the way to his room. Instead of knocking, Buffy casually kicked the door down.
Angel glanced up in suprise to see the collective Scooby Gang bearing down on him. The suprise quickly gave way to recognition, and Angel closed the book he was reading and waited for the first blow.
Buffy punched upside of the face, sending him tumbling off his chair and sprawling to the floor. "Payback time," she told him, giving him a smooth kick to his ribs, making him double over.
"You mess with one of us," Willow began, bringing her club down heavily across Angel's head with a loud thud.
"You mess with all of us," Giles finished for her. The flustering librarian was gone. In that moment, Giles was Ripper to the core. He belted Angel across his shoulder, neck and jaw with his weapon, making the vampire curl up and hiss in pain.
"How many times did you do it?" Buffy demanded, taking the oppurtunity to lay into Angel with her boots. He groaned and tried to roll away from her attack, but only managed to roll into Ripper's club, which met him with a frightful force.
"How many times did you rape Xander?" Buffy demanded angrily, her attack becoming much more vicious. She was now aiming for the sensitive areas, and holding nothing back in her kicks.
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Cordelia saw red. The ex-cheerleader had never been angrier in her life. Despite everything, she still thought of Xander as her friend and to find out that Angel, the man she'd trusted wholly for the past year had harmed him...it filled her with a rage she'd never before experienced.
Cordelia launched herself at the vampire, scratching deep lines across his face with her nails. She dug her fingernails into his scalp painfully and slammed his head down into the floor repeatedly, only satisfied when blood began to flow across his face.
"I..." Angel began but trailed off.
"How many times?" Willow demanded, uncharacteristically fierce, as she kicked him in the groin hard.
The vampire doubled over in pain. He was half-afraid to stay silent, because he knew they would not stop until he did. And he was half-afraid to answer because he knew full well, that his answer may get him dusted or sent to Hell for a second time.
That was the secret of the Scooby Gang. What made them so strong was their fierce loyalty to each other, not their loyalty to the good fight.
Mostly, they played the defensive card. Reacting to evil, instead of acting before evil had a chance. But when one of their own was hurt, they immediately became the predators they always had the potential to become. They hunted the guilty and they made them pay.
It was a mistake to believe that they were only goody-goody fighters and nothing more. They had the ability to be ruthless, thorough and deadly. Their dedication to the good fight fell short of their dedication to each other.
And Angel knew that all the good deeds in the world weren't going to save him if they decided what he'd done warranted death as a punishment.
"Eight," he finally managed to gasp out.
Everything was still for a moment as they processed what he had said. The silence hung thick in the air like pure tension.
But then, the moment passed and all hell broke loose.
All four members of the Scooby Gang let go of any kind of control and pounced on him at once, each attacking in their own vicious way.
Cordelia went for the face, resorting to pulling huge chunks of his hair out and scratching her nails down his face in deep lines.
Willow, lacking physical strength, concentrated on the vulnerable areas and threw everything she had behind every hit.
Ripper was fiercely pounding his back and his shoulders with his club, leaving the crack of bones breaking in his wake.
And Buffy went at him from the front, beating his chest and rib area, alternating between her boots and her fists.
Spike's attack had been vicious and even the combined forces of the Scooby Gang couldn't top the blond vampire's vehement attack, but they were doing a damn good job of matching it.
Angel howled with pain and tried desperately to flinch away from the constant barrage of blows, but everywhere he moved, there was another scooby, desperate for a pound of his flesh.
Just when the pain reached the point where Angel thought he might finally pass out into sweet oblivion, the Scooby Gang somehow came to a silent decision and rolled him over so that he was lying on his stomach.
He felt rough hands push up the back of his shirt and then the sharp prick of a a knife cutting deeply into his skin.
He didn't need a reflection to know what they were carving into him. The severe lines that sent jolts of pain through to every nerve and the intent behind them indented the message onto his mind.
Angel silently thanked his lucky stars that Spike mustn't have known about the little message he left on Xander's back, or the blond vampire would've surely written whole tomes into him with his happy blade.
The Scooby Gang were vicious, but they didn't have the palate for revenge that his Childe did.
Once the message was finished, they dropped him to the floor and left him there, striding out of the room and down the stairs.
Angel listened as the Scooby Gang drove away and Cordelia followed suit, no doubt taking his car back to her apartment. It would be a few days before he saw his employee again, Angel knew. Though that might be a good thing, considering how furious she must be with him right now.
In his last few moments of consciousness, Angel could only muse that he deserved much worse than this, but ironically, the only person vicious enough to hand out what he deserved, was Angelus.
Wesley and Gunn found him in that same position six hours later and moved him to safety, just before the sunlight from the window reached him.
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