Project Paranormal
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Project Paranormal

Author: Ares

Season 2

Part 8




Summary: Buffy and Giles investigate an unusual occurrence at a haunted mansion in a hidden valley in the Cotswolds. Angel haunts familiar ground in London.


A special Thank You to the magnificent Jo for her beta.







Buffy polishes off her Coke with one last swallow as she glances out at the day through the library window. She sighs, wishing she were back at the small flat with her sleeping boyfriend. Buffy smiles at the thought. Boyfriend! It has a nice ring to it, if you forget that the boyfriend is actually older than anyone alive.


"Buffy! Are you paying attention?" Giles has that wrinkle above his brow that says that he's only so patient, and is getting annoyed.


"What? Yes Giles, I heard you, but do we have to go now? Can't we wait until the sun...?"


"Buffy." Giles tries to be patient. This thing with Buffy and Angel - he is more accepting now, has called Angel friend and he knows how much Buffy appreciates it. Giles pinches his glasses off his nose, and begins to polish them with a handkerchief that is ever present in his pocket.


"It will take a while to get to our destination, and that is not allowing for any snarls in traffic. As it is the class will mostly likely be over when we arrive."


Buffy regrets having come to the house for a bite to eat. The flat she shares with Angel is now stocked with some food, but she hadn't wanted to disturb his sleep so had slipped over to the kitchen for lunch. Looking at her friend and Watcher, she knows that she is doomed no matter which way she pouts. She wonders when things had got back to normal. Adjusting the offending lips, she tries once more before giving in.


"Okay, but I still say that Angel would be handy to have with us. I mean ghosts and haunted castles, right up his alley. He is dead, and seems to have a natural *feel* for anything that goes *bump*."


Giles hides his smile and tries to look immune to her feminine wiles. "That's as may be, but the curator was rather insistent. The Mansion is not a castle, Buffy, it's a stately home."


"Yeah...whatever." Buffy stands and stretches. "I thought ghosts haunted places at night, so what's the big deal with daytime spooks?"


"We don't know that it is a *spook* Buffy, therein lies the problem. This is why I think it prudent that you come along to deal with anything that might prove dangerous."


Buffy knows he is right, although the thought of leaving Angel is not one she relishes. The very nature of their work dictates their days and nights, and Buffy thinks that even one night apart is one too many.


Giles begins to sort through the books on his desk as if dismissing her. He seems eager to be gone and Buffy grudgingly admits defeat. Maybe Giles just wants her company, he too has felt the bite of despair, grief and loss, and maybe a field trip with just the two of them will help. She hides her smile when she reflects on the field trips Giles has had with Angel recently. Men, no matter how old, how very old, were boys at heart sometimes.


She lifts an eyebrow. "So, weapons it is."


Giles stills his hand and watches Buffy leave the room. Giles is looking forward to sinking his teeth into this mystery, and having Buffy along will be like old times, the Slayer and her Watcher, struggling to solve a demonic mystery. He renews his efforts to gather his books, choosing two for the journey. Giles heads to the kitchen for the rest of his supplies.


Buffy crosses the open ground to the upstairs flat and lets herself into its darkened interior. As quietly as she can, Buffy tiptoes to the dresser, moving past the sleeping vampire on the bed. Giles has suggested that she bring along a change of clothes, just in case they end up staying a night.




Buffy starts, her heart in her throat. She turns to see Angel watching her.


"Afternoon," she corrects as she detours back to the bed to give her favourite vampire a kiss. Their lips meet and Buffy feels strong arms drag her onto the bed.


She sinks into his body and the kiss, enjoying the moment.


"Giles has a case up north and wants me along. Sorry, as it's daylight..." Buffy is a little breathless when her lips lose contact with his.


"You need clothes," he states. "Will you be gone long?"


"Hopefully not." Buffy kisses Angel quickly, reluctantly pulling away from his touch, and heads for the dresser. The lamp beside the bed clicks on and Buffy gives Angel a grateful smile, her stomach doing a flip when she looks over to see her very attractive, sleep-tousled lover. Darn. Leaving this room is not going to be easy. She turns her attention to the task at hand with much effort. 


"The Woodchester Mansion has a ghost, or several, according to Giles." She grabs a change of underwear and begins looking for another jumper.


"It's renowned for that." Angel's deep voice rumbles at her.


"Do I have to come over and hurt you?" she teases as she finishes rooting around.




Buffy shakes her head at the oddness that is Angel, and continues her task with a smile. She places her clothing atop the dresser, and steps into the bathroom.


"Yeah...Giles says," Buffy continues as if she hasn't just promised him bodily harm, "This particular whatever was conjured up, or called, or something." She reappears with toothpaste and brushes, trying to ignore the body in the bed.


The body, however, will not be ignored. "Conjured?"


Throwing her things into a bag that also contains a few handy slayer weapons, Buffy answers, "Yeah. Some idiot tourist or local is responsible. There's a class or something, so we have to leave now."


Buffy places the bag and her coat on the bed, and sits. "You go back to sleep, you got in late this morning."


Angel's large hand strokes her thigh, reminding her of the love-making they had enjoyed when Angel had finally come to bed. She alters her days somewhat trying to accommodate living with a vampire. It's not that hard, she is after all the slayer and night-time activities are pretty much a prerequisite. She feels guilty though, that he is confined to the flat during the day, not having the luxury of a tunnel network to enable excursions.


The light reflects in his eyes, making them glow as he looks at her.


"Take care," he whispers before pulling her head down for one last kiss.


Finding her breath, Buffy murmurs "unfair," and "always," before heading out the door.



Angel turns off the lamp but sleep eludes him. He lies there thinking of Buffy, and the wonder of their togetherness, for not the first; or hundredth time. Truth be told, he does feel confined here, isolated in the English countryside, unable to venture out until sunset. The confinement is less constraining now that he shares his days with Buffy. For now, the coiling unease within lies dormant, and Angel is happy to bide a while, making no demands on Buffy.


He reflects on the word, happy. How can he be happy after all that has happened? Why does he get a second or third or even fourth chance, when others he cared about didn't? Angel sighs and lies there, blinking up at the ceiling. 



Buffy sits gazing out the window thinking about Angel. Her sunglasses hold back the brilliance of a surprisingly sunny winter's day. The sunlight stripes her body as they move through a tree-lined road, bringing warmth to her face and arms. She thinks how unfair that he can't enjoy this, bask in the sunshine, and sprawl about at picnics. Hell! He can't even enjoy the food on a picnic. Buffy shakes the thought away. Angel would have been dead centuries if he had never been turned; she would not have had the pleasure, or the pain, of loving him in this lifetime. Besides, being a vampire does have its advantages, speed, super senses, strength, stamina - she blushes - and eternal beauty. She is a slayer who lives a dangerous life. Angel is perfect for her. She thinks him perfect. She dozes, smiling dreamily about the vampire in her life.


Giles is quiet and content to let Buffy dream. Buffy, to all appearances, is happy and being with Angel makes this so. He is happy that she is happy; he sees the smile gracing her lips and welcomes this excursion.  The sun will do her some good, her tan has waned somewhat, Buffy is no longer the golden brown that befits a Roman sun. Giles does not want Buffy wan and pale, living the life of a vampire, although she does to a degree as she stalks the nights to slay such creatures. Giles wants Buffy to live as a young woman should, in the sun, carefree and without fear of demons or evil. Giles knows that this is not to be, but cannot help but try to do what little he can. He chuckles inwardly. That's why you're taking her to a haunted mansion to do what a slayer is born to do, old boy.


The trip is uneventful and the conversation mute. Buffy rouses from her doze to watch unfamiliar landscapes slide by. Some of the towns are quaint; she is sure that it's one of the words Giles would use; other towns were downright ugly. Most were English. The names are weird though. Take Gloucestershire. Buffy is sure there isn't a ‘C' present when Giles pronounces it. She giggles when she sees the sign, Nympsfield.


Giles turns his head. "What am I missing?"


Buffy chuckles again. "Nympsfield. The sign we just passed. Are there Nymps living there?" she asks, deliberately mispronouncing the word.


Giles shakes his head and smiles, pleased that Buffy is taking an interest. "It's not far now," he says as he follows the road until he finds the field he is looking for. He negotiates the Discovery until he is satisfied with the spot he has chosen, and parks.


"Is this is it? Coaley Peak?" Buffy asks, as she jumps down from the car.


Giles juggles their luggage from the back. "There is no access to the Mansion from Woodchester. There is a mini bus if you want."


Buffy eyes the group of tourists milling about after disembarking from the bus.


 "No thanks." She relieves Giles of her bag. "We walk?" She raises a brow.


Buffy is spending too much time with Angel, Giles thinks, as he leads the way to the wooded path. The walk is a pleasant one, winding through the remains of an 18th and 19th Century parkland. The wind is absent, and Buffy enjoys stretching her legs after being cooped up in the car. She takes in the bare beauty of the small lakes they skirt. This would be a lovely place in the spring, she thinks, grateful that on this cold bright day, it hasn't been snowing. She wonders if Angel has ever visited, then amends that thought to, Angelus. She shivers as goose bumps crawl up her arms. It may not be a good idea to ask him to bring her here on a romantic weekend; after all, recent events have had Angel facing the horrors of his actions, without bringing up more of his past.


Giles walks merrily along, chatting about the park and its history with Buffy barely managing to keep up, her stride being less than his. He had attended the Mansion in his younger days and knows which of the many crisscrossing paths to follow. Woodchester Mansion is one of the most haunted places in Britain and so has been invaluable as a teaching tool for young Watchers. He is busy imparting this information to Buffy when they come across their first view of the Mansion.




Both Buffy and Giles stop to admire the House.


"It's big and sorta creepy. Does anyone live there?" Buffy eyes up the imposing stone building. It is almost a cathedral she thinks, without the spires, although there appears to be a bell tower rearing its ugly head.


"Haven't you heard a word I've said?" Giles huffs at her.


The slayer rolls her eyes at him. "What haven't you been saying? You've said so many things, it's hard to keep track."


Giles pushes his glasses up his nose with a mock glare. "Come on, we've got an appointment to keep and no, the Mansion is not inhabited unless you count the spirits and haunts. The National Trust owns most of Woodchester Park but it is the Stroud District Council that owns The Mansion and its immediate surrounds. It is leased to the Woodchester Mansion Trust by the Council."


Buffy follows muttering, "Council huh?"


"Keep up Buffy," Giles orders, eager to be at the Mansion, doesn't see the salute that his slayer executes behind his back.


Buffy and her Watcher are finally before the grand old building. A man and woman stand there, waiting. Buffy's eyes, however, are on the gargoyles that hover in stone guarding the gothic building. Feeling as though the gargoyles are staring, her eyes go back to the odd couple before her.


"Ah! Mr. Giles?" says the middle-aged suit. He gestures to the woman beside him.


"This is Ms. Roundtree; she supervises The Wyrd Tree Occult class."


Giles shakes the man's hand. "Pleased to meet you, Warden. This is my associate, Miss Summers." Giles nods to Ms. Roundtree. "Miss Roundtree."


Ms. Roundtree's forehead furrows.


"Weird Tree?" Buffy asks.


"Wyrd spelt W Y R D, Miss Summers."


"Buffy." The slayer puts out her hand, and Ms Roundtree places her own slim hand in hers.


"Rebecca," she answers. "Wyrd in Nordic cosmology means Fate or ‘that which is'. We run a Centre for Spiritual Development and Esoteric Studies."


"Sounds school-like." Buffy scrutinizes the slender woman. Her long brown hair is braided to her waist. The long skirt and beaded shirt scream gypsy, as do her doe-eyes and dusky skin. Buffy is suddenly happy that Angel is not with them.


The Warden interrupts. "Well, I'll leave you to it. Not to worry about closing, you can stay on until needs be. The tearoom will be open for another half an hour." He hands a business card to Giles. "You can reach me at this number. I recommend The Horse and Groom if you need a place to stay; it's a quiet little inn and B & B, not far."


"Thank you sir, we'll consider it." Giles tucks the card away as the Warden disappears down the drive.


"I'm sorry, but you're too late. The class dispersed an hour ago. I couldn't persuade anyone to stay on," Ms Roundtree explains.


Giles is dismayed and thirsty. He resists the urge to detour to the tearoom for a welcome pot of tea.


"Best lead on, Ms Roundtree," he says, and his disappointment emphasizes the Ms. He is of the old school and believes that a miss should be called miss, not this modern appellation that he finds distasteful.


Buffy follows the woman and steps into another world. The chill hits her causing her to shiver once more. Buffy sets her bag down and hugs herself, glad that she has worn her heavy coat, and she looks about in amazement. The inside is spectacular. Buffy cranes her neck at the high ceilings, feeling a rush of vertigo as she turns about. She brushes against something, Giles, as he waits for her to finish her spin.


"Sorry," she apologizes, picking up her bag once more.


Giles isn't unhappy at all. "This is magnificent as it is. Unfortunately it remains unfinished, imagine the grandeur if one were to view the completed work."


Giles sidesteps Buffy and advances to where Rebecca waits patiently. "It's her first time," he explains as they set off once more.


Buffy barely hears the woman's reply as she twists her neck to the ceiling again. The vaulted ceilings seem to press down and a fierce boss grimaces at her. Carved leaves and vines adorn the high ceiling, and stone runs skywards, keeping pace with arched windows and leads nowhere. Buffy is impressed. She hurries after the other two, traverses the foyer and walks past unfinished rooms, some of which have no floors. Buffy notices a fireplace high in a wall. The chill that seeps into her bones now feels more sinister, it isn't the cool of the air. Buffy feels it is something ‘other'.


"What's with all the stone?" The slayer wonders if the people who built this house had ever heard of trees.


Giles pounces with the eagerness of a teacher upon an inquisitive pupil.


"Mansions, castles and the like were bastions of the family seat. They were built to defend, endure and impress. Stonemasons come here to learn specifics of their craft. They run classes here, workshops if you will, for particular skills."




"These craftsmen can use these skills to renovate or preserve old stately homes, cathedrals, and churches."


Buffy mutters "uh huh," and Giles gives up. His slayer can only take so much information and he knows it's not because she is lacking in intelligence. Buffy has a keen mind and she uses it, her brain just works differently, more in line with her slayer-ness, she uses her intuition and at times can see through a puzzle with astonishing astuteness.


Finally they emerge into a room that once contained furniture, only now the furniture resembles matchwood.


"This is where it happened?" Giles says, stating the obvious. He steps over the debris carefully, still managing to roll his foot against a lone chair leg, wobbling a little as he loses his balance for a second or two. 


"This is where we hold the scrying class. It is surprising the number of people who are willing to open their minds to the possibility, and many wish to learn the art."


"Scrying? Isn't that witchcraft?" Buffy asks as she treads through the debris with slayer sure-footedness.


"No, although some may call it that. Scrying is used as a way of divination. We teach techniques and practice the art." Ms Roundtree, Rebecca, sounds a little put out.


"You use crystal balls, right?" Buffy spies shattered pieces of glass and is convinced that the woman is not all she seems.


Giles rummages about in his bag and produces his books.


"We do." Rebecca continues, "But we also teach our clients exercises to open them up to sensing the energies about"


"I imagine the spectral inhabitants of the Mansion offer a golden opportunity to test those theories." Giles places his books on top of his bag when he realises that there is nowhere else to put them. He begins to clear a space.


"Gypsies use crystal balls." Buffy can't get past the gypsy thing. She is defensive for Angel's sake and he isn't even here.


Rebecca's arms come across her chest in an angry gesture, her mouth sets in a thin line. "Gypsies! Child's play! We offer the real thing."


"You wouldn't say that if you knew the power the gypsies have," Buffy retorts.


Dumping her bag she begins to walk around the walls, the conversation finished, her body language tense. Okay, so she isn't a gypsy, Buffy still can't help but dislike her.


"Um..." Giles understands Buffy's fears and tries to ease the tension by asking, "Tell me what happened."


Buffy listens to Rebecca's account of the events leading to the destruction of the room.


It appears as if a member of the class has managed to tap into something very powerful, so powerful that it emerged from whatever realm it inhabits and entered theirs. Buffy snorts softly as she surveys the wreckage and the walls. Wait? Are those claw marks?


"Who was it?"




Buffy repeats her question, sure now that there is a demon involved. "Who was it, the person who did the scrying?"


"Well, we were all participating."


"Yeah, I get that but there must have been someone whom you thought had a stronger sense of something. You know; someone special or unusual?"


Rebecca looks at Buffy as she mentally reviews her clients.


"What are you getting at, Buffy?" Giles asks.


"There was a man, Mr. Witlow. Arthur Witlow, he was here because his wife had recently passed away and he wanted to know if there was any way of contacting her. His aura was unusual." Rebecca carefully moves to where Buffy stands and leans against the wall.


A space now available on the stone floor, Giles starts to lay out his majick supply. He looks up at the two women.


 "Surely he wasn't trying to contact his wife, here? This place has its own haunts; hers would not be one of them."


"He insisted that he wasn't, he was here to learn if it was possible."


After the last item is laid out, Rebecca adds, "You know you cannot perform an exorcism here. The Mansion has many spirits and the Trust would not be pleased if you exorcised them all."


"Yes, the Warden made that clear on the telephone. Perhaps you could go over the ritual in detail; it will help fill in the blanks." Giles pulls a ruined cushion over and gestures for the woman to sit. He grabs one for himself and awkwardly sits, his legs not quite crossed; he isn't as limber as he used to be.


Buffy tunes out Rebecca's voice and looks about again. She spies a dark figure lurking in the hallway and for a moment she thinks its Angel. She glances quickly out the window, the sun has set and evening is upon them. She glances back; the figure, she is sure it is that of a man, is sliding past the doorway. Buffy decides to follow, snatches up her flashlight and leaves. The other two, engrossed in their conversation, do not notice her departure.



The sun has set, finally releasing Angel from his four walls. He slips into the house to inform Martha that he is going out. It isn't that he needs to check in; he thinks it's polite to do so. Angel heads down the driveway, past the little Mini that Buffy calls her own. His precious car is in the shop; the radiator and grill a mangled mess after a close encounter with a demon that refused to die unless smashed against a brick wall with a very heavy object. Angel prefers not to fold his long legs into the small confines of the Mini, at least, not more than is necessary.


The departing sun has daubed the countryside with its rosy glow. It enables him to enjoy the beauty of his surroundings before true darkness falls. His long woollen coat flaps about his ankles as he heads towards the village to see what is happening. Hopefully there will be trouble that needs sorting. He is in the mood for a bit of violence, a demon or two, a brawl at the very least, although with a slayer living near by, he doubts he will be rewarded. His stride lengthens and it feels good to be moving. He doesn't like to be cooped up, it's one of the reasons he usually chooses accommodations that are more spacious.


The village is quiet as he expects, and nothing untoward is happening at the small pub. Angel continues his stroll looking for signs of trouble. A little disappointed, he walks along the main road that leads out of town doing what he does best, brooding. In particular, Angel is thinking about his son, and it is weighing heavy upon his soul. He doesn't know the specifics of what has happened to Connor and the coven was not exactly free with any information. The letter he had from Connor doesn't sit well with him and it only raises more questions. He knows he should be back in Los Angeles looking into the matter, trying to solve the mystery, hopefully finding his son alive. Angel knows why he is not; he is afraid of finding what he fears most of all. That Connor has died bringing him back to this world. The coven had insisted that it was their doing, their majicks that had enabled the resurrection. Angel is not so sure. He is never one to take anything at face value at least not since Wesley had kidnapped...


"Want a lift?"


Angel has been so lost in thought, he hasn't heard the rumble of the truck until it stops level with him, the driver asking if he needs a ride.


He peers at the dark head looking back at him. "Where are you headed?"




London. A lot of dark memories surface and he hesitates.


The driver leans over. "Son?"


That word almost undoes him. He reaches up, opens the door and pulls his long body into the cab. The truck driver throws him a smile; his worn face friendly and welcoming.


"Name's Henry." He shifts the gears, and gets the vehicle moving while looking inquiringly at his passenger.


"Angel." He smiles back sensing the warmth of character from Henry. Angel relaxes against his seat.


"You American?" Henry asks. "You sound American. Are you on holiday?"


Angel wonders if he has made a mistake. "No... I'm not, although I have lived in America for a long time..." he gestures at his mouth, "I picked up the accent."


"Never been to America. Never been anywhere much. I drive my truck to and from London, so home looks pretty good when I've got the chance."


"Home?" Angel is happy to steer the conversation away from his sorry life.


Henry, pleased to have company, is willing to talk about his wife Caroline, who, it turns out, is a member of the church choir. Included in his ramblings are his brother, who owns the local pub, and Henry's love of fishing where and when he can put out to sea. Angel listens to the life story of this average man, reacquainting himself with the sort of person for whom he sometimes saves the world. Content to listen, he asks very few questions. The man cannot stop talking.



Buffy quietly follows the dark figure through the house. She thinks she spies it near a doorway only to find it isn't there, and she hurries down a long hallway chasing shadows. Nearly running now, Buffy enters a room to find it empty. She stands confused for a moment until she hears someone tapping nearby.


"Hello?" she calls as she runs into the next room. It too is empty. The knocking echoes behind her and huffing in exasperation Buffy races out. There is nothing in the hall and she is getting pretty ticked. Buffy continues down the hall, opening a door that leads, unexpectedly, into an internal courtyard. Surprised, Buffy steps out into the jumbled gloom searching for anything unusual. The exercise proves fruitless and she steps back into the house closing the door behind her. This is getting ridiculous. The slayer leans up against a wall and jumps when she dislodges a tool that has been left atop the partially finished wall. It clatters loudly to the ground. Good one, Buffy thinks, announce your whereabouts to the spooks.


A knock echoes eerily from one of the distant rooms and she heads off in that direction. Buffy enters a room that surprises her in its completeness. She switches on her flashlight to read the sign, Drawing Room. Keeping the light on, the advantage of stealth lost, Buffy continues her hunt for the male figure she believes is deliberately trying to drive her crazy. Buffy is soon lost and is ready to give up when she hears the oddest sound. At first she thinks it is someone dragging a heavy box across the stone floors when another sound not unlike that of a train joins the first. The noise is travelling towards her and it is moving fast. Buffy puts a hand on a wall to brace herself when the floor begins to vibrate. Beneath her palm the wall starts to tremor, and just when she imagines an actual train is about to crush her, the sounds stops. Buffy pants into the sudden silence, her heart thudding loudly in her ears.




She hears Giles' call from another part of the house. Her eyes wide, she trots down the dark passageways to an anxious Giles.


"Thank heavens," he says, relief evident when she emerges from the darkness. Buffy looks about the now lit room. A large fluorescent lamp sits on the floor emitting cold white light, a small gas heater is burning but of Ms Roundtree there is no sign.


"Where did she go?"


"It *is* getting late...Buffy," Giles peers behind her into the gloom, "did you hear something earlier?"


Buffy flicks off her torch, her hand not quite steady. "Something as in a freight train about to run me over? And let's not forget someone playing games by knocking on walls, and hey! There was a man lurking about. Is that what you mean?" She throws herself down on one of the spare cushions, barely keeping from knocking over a jar of something that looks like sand. Buffy pushes the jar away before noticing a paper-wrapped packet sitting on top of one of Giles' bags.


"Is that food? You brought food, Giles?" Buffy stretches out an arm and makes to grab the package but her Watcher gets there first. His larger hand curls about the paper and lifts it up before settling on his lap as he joins her on the floor.


"I had Martha make up some sandwiches. I hope you like egg?"


Buffy nods and accepts the offered sandwich. "Is there juice?" she asks hopefully.


Giles reaches into his bag and pulls out a thermos. "I brought coffee. It'll help us stay alert." Giles wishes it were tea from a pot and fresh, with buttered scones, but needs must.


"You watchers really come prepared don't you?" Buffy says as she accepts her plastic cup and a sachet of sugar. A plastic spoon appears and Buffy says, "Uh-huh."


Giles takes a welcome bite of his sandwich. "What you experienced is normal for the Mansion. It's been well documented. In fact there have been several televised programmes made here. What isn't normal is that everything you have described usually happens at a much later hour and never simultaneously. Something is definitely amiss."


"You think?" Buffy mumbles around a mouthful of egg and bread.


"We have to examine the area to..."


"Already found something."


Giles finishes chewing before saying, "Where did you...?"


Buffy leans over and snags another sandwich. Opening the bread she discovers cheese, pickle and ham. She gets up to show Giles the claw marks she had discovered earlier.


"Here," she points, still munching on her sandwich.


Giles groans softly as he manoeuvres his legs about and gets to his knees. "I'm getting too old for this," he mutters as he manages to stagger upright.


Buffy rescues her torch from her pocket and shines the light onto the mark. Giles lifts his glasses off his nose, and peers at the indentation before popping them back to take another look.




"Mmmm, what?"


"Mmmm, why didn't you mention this earlier?" He straightens, looking down at his blonde slayer.


Buffy shrugs off his peeved face. "I was off chasing shadows. Besides, you and Ms Roundtree were bonding." She abruptly sits on her cushion and finishes off her sandwich, peeved because he is peeved.


Giles joins her and picks up the last sandwich before Buffy decides she is going to have it too.


"Whatever the group, or rather Arthur Witlow, summoned, has claws." Giles glares his ownership of the sandwich to which Buffy smiles sweetly.


"So, we wait for it to come back?"


"We wait."


Buffy's spirits slump, her smile slips, and her shoulders follow suit. This is going to be a long night. Buffy wonders what Angel is doing without her.


Giles just sits and chews, a hint of a smile on his lips.



"Here I am, talking you to death," says Henry, looking over with a sorry smile. "I'm sorry son, it gets lonely driving to and fro and my mouth tends to run away with me."


Angel rouses from his semi doze. He hasn't been ignoring the constant chatter; in fact he has listened intently, letting the man's life wash over him, a warm blanket wrapping him in its pleasant dream.


"'s very interesting. Please...continue"


Henry shakes his head. "Now you're just being kind. What do you want to talk about? Family, politics, football?"


Angel blinks. He definitely does not want to talk about family, or politics, and football? No, he'd rather not talk at all. Sighing, he spies the man watching him with something like hope, so he takes a stab at something, anything.




"Field hockey? Didn't pick you for that game, you look more like a rugby player."


"Ice hockey. They play ice hockey in the States and I kinda got hooked on it...the last year or so..." Angel pauses not knowing what to say next.


"Yeah? Never skated myself." Pride swells his chest and Angel can hear the blood rushing through the man's heart. "I played rugby at school, was quite good at it too, so they said. I remember once, we had to play away..." Henry is off reminiscing, for which the vampire is grateful. He relaxes with images of brawny teenagers scrumming in the mud.



Buffy jerks awake. She had fallen asleep and looking across at Giles sees that he has too, his open book providing a pillow for his face. The faint glow of the rescued heater barely warms the room from its winter chill. She clutches at the blanket Giles has placed over her, and listens. There it is again, a faint tapping. Buffy leans back to glance up at the ceiling; the sound is coming from above. She hasn't made it to the next floor and she really doesn't want to go there now. Still, when the knock sounds again, Buffy quietly shifts herself and creeps out of the room, leaving Giles to his dreams. A normal girl or boy would not have been creeping about in the middle of the night but Buffy is no ordinary girl. Keeping her tread light, Buffy ascends the stairs. At the top, the sound ceases. Buffy doesn't move another step and stops breathing in an effort to hear anything at all. Not being a vampire, Buffy sucks in air less than a minute later in a shuddering gasp. She starts moving again, her light casting eerie shadows around her. A tap sounds at the end of the corridor and Buffy heads towards it. It stops again, forcing Buffy to stop too. A minute passes before it sounds again, and she is getting pretty annoyed with it all. Buffy shines her torch into the inky blackness and sees nothing but walls and doors. She turns around thinking; this is ridiculous, she won't be able to find anything in this empty husk of a building, especially at night. Meeting the stairs at the top of the landing, Buffy hears the tapping again. Squaring her shoulders and wishing she had more than a stake in her pocket, Buffy switches off the light. Blinking away the bright spots behind her eyelids, she waits in the darkness. The tap comes again and this time Buffy can hear that it comes from above. She is patient, she is prepared to stand in this spot and not go haring off again in the gloom, when suddenly she hears a loud creak and groan as the stone ceiling collapses. She yells in trepidation and leaps down the stairs in a bid to escape. Breathing hard at the bottom, Buffy stares back up the stairs, unable to see and thanking the Powers that she didn't break a leg in her hurried flight. When she turns on her light, the stairs are clear and the ceiling is intact.


"What the...?"




Giles' voice makes her jump. Heart in her throat she whirls to see her Watcher stumbling up the hall.


"I'm alright, Giles. I thought the ceiling was falling but I was mistaken." She directs her light towards the roof.


"See! Nothing," she babbles, "this place has some serious spooks."


Giles peers up at the high ceiling, his hair in disarray and his clothes rumpled. Buffy knows that she must look a sight too.


"The sound you heard; you're not the only one to have experienced that. We don't know what it all means, this paranormal activity. The Mansion has attracted spirits and haunts that may have died here or have been drawn here for some unfathomable reason."


"Yeah, well, I want something solid to hit, I don't like this scare-you-to-death with spooky sounds. Give me a demon of some sort and I'm there."


Giles leads the way back to their room, a wry smile acknowledging Buffy's solution to the problem. "Apparently, twenty American soldiers drowned in the ponds in the War. It's some distance, maybe a mile down in the valley, and it's passing strange that after all these years the Mansion keeps welcoming spirits of the dead."


"Maybe this Witlow woman, you know, the dead wife, maybe her ghost did end up here."


Buffy peers into the dark corners and crevices, expecting something to jump out at them, hoping that something will, just so that she can hit it and be done with this whole thing.


Giles stops in the doorway to their temporary room. The flashlight reflects off his watch as he runs a hand through his hair.


"Except for the claw mark on the wall, I would agree with you. Something demonic is at work here, and we may have to wait until daybreak to track it."


"Oh joy!" Buffy steps up to her friend, forcing him inside. "Just what we need, another day in this dump. And how come we wait, huh? Demons love the dark, it's what they do, lurk in the dark. Why hasn't it come out to play?"


Giles chuckles at his slayer's little rant. "I'll have to remember to ask it that when we see it."




Angel watches the lights of London draw near, although the vast sprawling entity has invaded the countryside long before the lights of the city proper did. The place has changed but people are still the same, no matter what the century. He gazes in fascination at Henry's reflection as it bounces off the windscreen, and sometimes it stares at him from the side window. Angel hopes the man hasn't noticed his lack; he hasn't smelled fear in the cab.


"Anywhere do you, son?"


"Yes, thank you."


"Planning on staying long?"




"Visiting folks?"


Angel no longer has folks. Anyone else he has known is long dead. "No."


Henry chuckles. "You don't say much."


"I get that," and he manages the barest of smiles.


By now the truck is rattling through the city and manages to get caught up with late traffic. They stop at an intersection, which gives Angel a chance to read the street names. He doesn't recognize many, though a few catch his attention.


"Are we near All Soul's Cemetery?"


"Do you mean the Kensal Green Cemetery?"


Angel nods in agreement.


"Do you wish to get off there?" Henry raises his eyebrows. "The place will be closed by now." Henry is now looking at him with sympathy and Angel squirms. He doesn't deserve his good wishes.


"Yeah, it'll do." Another cemetery, just what he needs. Angel knows that vampires, at least newly turned vampires, can always be found in cemeteries. It is a good place to start his visit to London.


Henry pulls over on Old Oak Lane. This is his regular route through to Park Royal where he offloads and picks up his return freight. Wormwood Scrubs Park is nearby. Now that is a name one never forgets.


As he opens the door, Henry offers, "I'll be coming through here at seven tomorrow night if you need a lift back."


Henry's generosity touches him deeply. The monster in him would have eaten the man.


Instead he thanks him, yes, and lets him go. The truck rumbles off midst the blare of an indignant horn, leaving the ensouled vampire alone in London. Angel sticks his hands in his pockets, feels the stakes there before striding off down the street. A little busy work is just what he needs. He knows that London has more than its fair share of vampires; he is looking forward to meeting a few. Killing vampires was how he started his new life in Los Angeles; killing vampires may be the way he finishes it.


Angel's long legs devour the pavement and before long he is walking the Old Oak Common Lane which leads him to Old Oak Common at the end of the Park. He stares at the winding steel that covers the ground to the left of him. The locomotives are staring back, some are grunting with their efforts, others are silent and waiting. He is walking on the precipice that divides nature and machine. Angel feels he is constantly teetering on his own precipice. Man and monster.


The St Mary's RC Cemetery looms to his right, the imposing gates closed. Angel is not deterred. He crouches and leaps gracefully over the wall and lands silently in the vast burial ground. Angelus was responsible for not a few headstones and Angel swallows as he remembers every one. All Souls Cemetery is an apt title for the graveyard founded in 1832. He travels slowly through the woodland, a haunt himself, a lost soul, his eyes scanning the odd and varied sculptures that mark tombs and graves. A group of winged angels catches his attention, causing him to stop and linger. He knew the woman buried here.


Mary Eleanor Gibson, born 1854; died 1872.


She had been eighteen when she met her untimely end. Mary had been obsessed with Angelus; thought him an Angel. She must have babbled her obsession to her family before her Angel killed her. He swallows again, and the taint of remembered blood surfaces. He moves on, remembering why he likes the New World so. At least there he has no reminders of the halcyon days of the demon he was.


A muffled curse and the scent of fresh blood give Angel direction. He sprints across grass and stone, spying two dark shapes near the trees. Without a sound Angel attacks, knocking a vampire flying. Its victim falls to the ground and it is then that Angel notices the other vampire kneeling next to a woman, her skirt up around her waist.


With a growl, both vampires surge to their feet, attacking Angel from both sides. He ducks, and sends a fist into a face, and kicks out with one long leg and hits the other in the gut. The fight is brutal. Angel feels his teeth elongate as both vampires attack again. Fists and fangs, the ballet of death unfolds as Angel ducks and weaves. They trade blows and all three grunt as blood is drawn. The ensouled vampire is determined and the others are not as old. His experience and strength win out and Angel's stake thuds home, twice.


The dust is still airborne as Angel goes down on bended knee to see to both victims. He breathes a sigh of relief to find that both are alive, the male has been bitten and is bleeding from the neck. He draws back as the tantalizing aroma of hot blood reaches his nose. He jerks away in revulsion, a growl rumbling deep in his chest as his desire to lap at the life force surges within. Angel sprints across the cemetery to a phone box he had spied earlier on in the street, his self-loathing spurring him on. The phone works and he is surprised. He makes the call, and stays to watch over his charges until he hears the sirens sounding in the distance.


Distancing himself from the graveyard, Angel wanders down Harrow Road without any particular destination in mind. It is liberating to be back in a large city, free to move about where one is unrecognized, blending in with the mass of humanity. The night is late and the air chill, and yet there are still people out, braving the elements. He gazes at the shops and houses he passes, avoiding eye contact with the people going about their business. He turns a corner and finds a group of people milling about on the footpath. Angel looks up to see a sign that indicates he is outside a nightclub, the hours never too late for such a venue. A man and woman, arms about each other, trail a group of young men out for an evening of fun. Angel mingles and slips unnoticed into the club, the bouncer at the door not even aware.


Inside the noise is horrendous and Angel wishes he were without preternatural hearing. He flinches and blinks at the laser lights stabbing the smoky interior. The music, and he wouldn't call it that, pounds out over a packed dance floor. However, the vampire keeps the couple in his sight and he follows, weaving through the crowd. Hands clutch at him, hips gyrate and still he manages to slip through. The couple split up and Angel decides to follow the woman.


She approaches one of the young men, but before she can speak, Angel has his arm around her waist and pulls her away.


"What?" She glares at him sensing what he is. "Go find your own kill," she hisses.


Angel's steps carry them away and they bump up against a wall, her body flush with his. He risks a quick glance; they are relatively alone in a dark corner.


"I will," he hisses back and dusts her, his eyes flat and emotionless.


The boyfriend is next and he has targeted a young girl seated at the bar. Angel moves to the counter and deliberately bumps into the other vampire.


"Sorry," he mutters, not sorry at all.


The good-looking vamp, glares at him and turns his attention back to the girl. Angel resists the urge to stake him then and there; instead he orders a drink for the both of them.


"Have a drink...on me" he says to the turned back.


The head swings back and looks him over. The eyes gild for a brief instant. "Leave me alone."


"Come on...I won't bite." Angel paints his face with Angelus' smirk and the other vampire reconsiders.


He freezes the girl out and he swivels around to Angel. "What's the deal?" he asks as the barman places two whiskeys on the counter. Angel waits while the girl flounces away. She isn't happy but he doesn't care about that, she is alive and that is all that matters.


Angel raises his glass and downs the drink. "Your girlfriend over there," he jerks his head in the direction of the dance floor, "wanted me to give you a message."


The other vampire looks into the crowd but can't see his girlfriend. He picks up his glass and takes a sip.


"Yeah and why don't I believe you?"


Angel has his full attention. The former Scourge of Europe makes a face and straightens his upper body indicating he is going to leave. "Do you want the message or not?"


"Okay." The other vampire holds up a hand, finishes his drink and asks, "What is it?"


The barman has his back turned - their reflections are not in the mirror - patrons are not looking their way and Angel leans close. The other leans forward to hear. Angel pats the vampire's chest as he whispers, "she said she'll see you in hell," and his stake slides smoothly into its heart. He sits back, brushing dust off his sleeves. He looks at his empty place in the mirror and wonders if there is blood on his face, the smell tickles his nostrils. His fingers stray to his cheek and -


 - The barman returns, glancing at his glass. "Another" he starts to ask, and something in Angel's eyes makes him retreat, hastily.


He sits for a long while, staring at, but not seeing the room behind him in the mirror. The barman leaves him alone, but he is never ignored. He is calm when he heads for the bathroom to wash up, disturbing the nefarious business taking place in the dingy corner. The two men exit quickly thinking he is undercover. Angel certainly looks mean enough, even with his head in the basin, and as he leaves, he scans the crowd for vampires and senses none. Angel is glad to be out of the club, all that noise and humanity, writhing within, waiting to be tasted.



To Buffy's mind, the wee small hours of the morning had been a drag, literally. She had dozed but the floor was uncomfortable, and the moans of the old building and those of the ghouls are not conducive to a fitful sleep.


"What about this Horse and Donkey place, Giles? Can't we go there and come back when it's daylight?" she says suddenly, startling the Englishman into wakefulness.


"Huh? Buffy? You...woke me!" Giles knuckles his eyes before picking up his glasses; he squints at his slayer as he places them on the bridge of his nose.


"What about it, Giles? A clean, cosy, bed and breakfast at the Horse and Donkey?"


"Horse and Groom, Buffy." He turns his wrist to see the face of his watch. "It's too late or too early to go knocking on doors. We're stuck here for now. Besides, the demon may show itself at any moment."


"Well, it better show up soon," Buffy grumbles behind a yawn "Did you have any luck with your books?"


Giles starts to shake his head, glancing at his books, open on the floor. A page lifts as if carried on a breeze and slowly settles again.




He holds up a hand as again the paper rises. Buffy tenses. She sees the movement and although the mansion is draughty, she doesn't think that a natural breeze is the cause. Her hand reaches for a stake. Another page lifts, and then another, until the pages are a flurry of paper, flicking rapidly through the text. The Englishman eases to his knees and crawls carefully towards his bag. Buffy stands, ready to strike. The scattered remnants from the scrying class rise and, as if a mini whirlwind has sucked them up, they begin to spin. Buffy's skin prickles into gooseflesh as an eerie scream reverberates. Giles has in his hands a small net when he comes to his feet. She raises a brow but says nothing; her eyes are on the debris that is now hurtling towards them. Buffy and her Watcher do their best to avoid the stinging blows but cannot avoid them all. Giles' glasses receive a hit, sending them askew, bruising the delicate skin under his eye. Buffy bats away wood from a chair that comes perilously close to her head, and sees a shadow dart low against the wall. The knocking she heard earlier begins anew, as do the tremors beneath her feet.


"Good Lord!" she hears Giles whisper as she creeps forward. He moves to her side as she follows the shadow scuttling into a corner. The light from the lantern illuminates the hunched figure when Buffy snares the lamp for a closer look.


"It's..." she does not know what it is. "It's not all there," she finishes before the thing launches itself at her.


Buffy drops the lantern in a hurry and Giles manages to stop it from teetering over as she defends herself. The demon has large teeth and clawed hands, and the claws are within inches of her face before her fist slams it away. She smiles at the satisfying crunch of flesh against flesh. It scrambles to attack again.


"What are those? Ghost tentacles?" she asks when her foot slides through the spectral gut of the creature, allowing it to gash her leg as she swings clumsily through the kick.


Giles is ready with his net, hoping to capture the demon. Buffy only wants it dead.


"These pants cost money," she complains as she slams her fist into its jaws and the demon lets out a howl and hits the floor with a thump.


Giles throws the net as she races for her bag and snatches up a wicked-looking knife. The demon is caught for only a moment because its body dissolves, allowing it to slide through the nylon.


Giles backs up giving his slayer room.


"I don't think this demon is the cause of all this paranormal activity. I think the haunts in this place have been trying to catch our attention."


"They certainly got it didn't they?" she pants as she thrusts and cuts at the snarling creature.


"You can only kill it in its solid form. Ignore the ‘ghostly' parts."


"You think?"


The demon springs at her, jaws open wide. Buffy waits and jams her knife into its mouth at the last possible moment. She feels the knife slide up and into its brain. It hangs grotesquely on her knife, its form materializing whole and dead. She flicks her knife and it flies off, thudding in a wet mess on the floor. The room is still, the howls, and groans, and detritus, inert and silent. Buffy relaxes at last, not unhappy that the demon is now a cooling dead thing. She moves away to find something soft to clean her knife.


Giles comes forward and kneels for a closer examination. 


"I think the spirits of this place were terrified of this demon."


"Spooks terrified of demons? I thought that they did the haunting, the spooks, I mean," she says wiping her blade with a rag.


He pokes a finger at the tentacles and prods the suckers there.


"This demon is both corporeal and incorporeal. The suckers here would only be able to attach to a thing that was in the same state: incorporeal. This may be a demon that eats the energies of the spirit world."


"So, what are you saying? That this thing eats ghosts? Sucks the life out of a spirit, if you can call it life?"


"Yes, that is exactly what I am saying, Buffy. That is why the spirits here attracted our attention."


"By destroying this place and trying to hurt us? Some attention...and why did I kill this demon again? Other than it was trying to kill me, it was getting rid of the spooks in this place, isn't that a good thing?"


Giles stands and moves back to Buffy who is now picking up their gear and packing it away. He helps her and explains further.


"The demon was eating spirits; maybe it lives that way, feeding on their energies."




"And think about it, would you want to be devoured, swallowed into the stomach of a demon, gone forever? Digested into heavens knows what?"


"Ghosts are ghosts aren't they? They are already dead; wouldn't they be glad to be gone from this world?"


The two blankets are stuffed into a bag, as are the books. Giles rescues the tomes and his bag from Buffy's irreverent hands and places them with more care into the bag.


"Not necessarily. They still have a presence; a part of them exists on this plane." He peers over at her and adds, "Because one is dead doesn't mean to say that you don't have a role to play in this world."


Buffy stops sorting through her bag and gazes into her friend's eyes. "Angel."


He nods and continues. "Imagine if a creature such as this were to suck out his *life* force or maybe in Angel's case, his soul."


The unspoken name hangs between them, more frightening than anything they have encountered here.


A shiver snakes up her spine, and she really is grateful that Angel is safe and away from here. The demon is small and would not have been a threat - probably - but Buffy cannot help but think that bad things always happen when you least expect it. She is relieved that the opportunity did not arise.


She misses him and wonders what Angel is doing.



Angel is nursing his second drink of the night.


He had stumbled across the demon bar, or rather, stumbled into a vampire that was leaving the bar during his foray about the city. After lurking outside and dusting another three, he decided to venture inside and see for himself. The establishment was dark and seedy - no surprise there - and was populated by an assortment of demons that were enjoying a quiet drink and even quieter conversation. The demon barman offered him blood as soon as he glanced in his direction. Angel's gaze scanned the obligatory mirror before he declined.


He asked for whiskey instead, and now here he sits at the end of the bar, his back to the wall, his glass half full. The trinket in his coat pocket reminds him of his ride home. He has a small gift for Henry's wife. An inexpensive bauble found in a dozen places, important, all the same. He remembers giving his first, in an alley, to a girl. Hers was costly silver. He sighs and wonders if he is to spend the day in the sewers.


The threesome playing cards in the corner raise their voices and he watches from under lowered lids. The cards spin through the air as one of the demons roars out a protest in a spray of saliva, his tusks curved and glistening. The other two find their feet, the pus demon - and that is what it reminds Angel of - flashes a knife. Demon three is backing away, its long ears hanging back in fear. The few patrons that are left back away as the fight ensues.


Angel sighs, rests his drink and slides off his seat. The demon lunges with his knife; his hand meets an immovable object, the vampire's fist. Angel twists the wrist, hears the bone snap, and pushes the ugly son of a bitch out of his way. Tusk demon attacks and Angel kicks him in the knee and stomach, and finishes him by slamming him into the wall. Paint and plaster flake to cover the crumpled form as the vampire turns and punches the screaming, though determined, demon hard in the head, and throws him towards the door.


He shrugs his shoulders and brushes at his coat and resumes his seat. A door opens at the back and a huge demon enters, one hundred pounds at a time. Angel downs his drink and waits. The other drinkers quietly shuffle back to their seats, ignoring the bulk of the newcomer and the senseless riff-raff on the floor.


The demon lowers its head and eyes the bodies.


"What happened?" his deep voice rumbles and Angel wonders who his tailor is. The material stretches across acres of back, a tent would be made of less.


The barman growls a reply. "A fine time to visit the john, Vinnie. This gentleman took care of it."


Vinnie's head turns and his red eyes glower at Angel.


"It's a vamp!" he grumbles at the lack of Angel's reflection.


"Dispose of these two, will ya? Go on! Be quick about it." The barman shoos the bouncer away and sidles over to Angel.


"Thank you, sir," he says and taps the counter. "Are you sure I cannot interest you in a glass of blood?"


Angel declines to answer.


Sensing something - and he doesn't know what it is, other than this vampire had stopped a fight and not started one - makes him offer, "We have animal."


The vampire looks hard at the barman, and considers.


"The name is Morty, and I do apologise for Vinnie's lack of manners."


Angel is tired and hungry. He gives in and inclines his head.


Morty scurries to the cooler and pours a long glass of blood. He places it before the vampire and catches the flare of nostrils.


"It's fresh."


"You get a lot of vamps in here?" Angel asks before he swallows the cold, lifeless, but welcome food.


"I don't sell human, if that's what you're thinking."


They both ignore the grunt of pain that emerges from tusk boy as he is expelled into the early morning gloom.


Angel doesn't bother to inform Morty that he has four less customers and finishes his meal.


"Do you need a bed this morning? I know a place, run by a demon woman, name of Kim. It's in the next street, not far; you'll make it before dawn."


Angel is surprised at the offer. His face doesn't show it, and he watches Morty pull a card from the rag-tag collage tacked to the wall. He slides the dog-eared scrap across to the vampire.


Angel memorizes the legend inked there and slides it back. Leathery fingers pinch up the paper, and return it to its spot on the wall.


"Thanks." Angel's hand searches his pocket and Morty smiles, his small fangs more comical than threatening.


"Put your money away. It's on the house."


The vampire stares at Morty, and thinks the demon should be a shade of green. The thought brings melancholy, and suddenly, he wishes he were away from here. He wonders how Buffy is doing.


The return of Vinnie and his animosity, spurs him into action, and he rises from his stool.


He hasn't taken two steps when Morty calls after him. "Tell Kim that Morty sent you. She'll see you right, mister...?"


He smiles for the first time in hours.


"It's Angel."


And he's gone in a whirl of black wool.



The End.



Author's Notes.

The Woodchester Mansion is situated in Woodchester Park, in Stroud. The events I have described have actually been recorded.


There is a grave in Kensal Green Cemetery that belongs to

Mary Eleanor Gibson, born 1854; died 1872. She is an unknown person so I used her shamelessly. To see her monument go here:


More information on All Souls Cemetery, Kensal Green can be found here:


Information about The Wyrd Tree scrying classes.


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