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Unexpected Magic

Project Paranormal

Author: Deb

Season 2

Part 11



Summary: Buffy is off to have a *normal* holiday with friends. But will she?  Martha whips up something that is a bit more potent than a dessert laced with Baileys. Angel raids the fridge with interesting results. Giles dons his cape, and rides to the rescue.




Unexpected Magic


He was paralyzed, not with fear, really paralyzed. Though fear would come later, he was sure. He grimaced and tried to move anything. There wasn't even a twitch, in his fingers or his toes. So this was how it was to really not feel, in the literal sense of the word. His thoughts ricocheted in all directions. He was totally disoriented. His head rolled from one side to another, back and forth, like a metronome. At least I can move my head.
His eyes were open but there was nothing to see. The darkness had enveloped him, its suffocating presence laid on him, obliterating all edges and light. He turned his head to the side once more and opened his mouth to scream for help. The cavity opened wide, as his tongue laid down flat. His pale lips began to quiver and he begged his vocal cords to move, yet there was no voice to shatter the silence. He repeated those same movements, with the same results. The room suddenly got lighter; a beam of light caught his eye. He couldn't tell if it were stationary or moving. He squinted as his eyes tried to focus. He blinked and willed his eyes to make it clearer, but it was as if he were looking through a veil of sorts. The light moved closer till finally it was upon him. He looked up. There was a semblance of a body, arms, a long neck, and a place for a face, but there were no features to speak of, just a circle of white swirling mist. Suddenly, it was as if someone turned on a projector, and the white blended into a montage of tragedy. There was death, horrific mayhem, and he was playing the lead. He tried to scream again. His eyes broke away and were drawn from the face, down to the neck. He could see two distinct punctures marks, which looked as if they had been drawn on by a child. Thick red crayon blood ran out of them and down the side in globs. His eyes followed the blood path as it trickled down its arms. Then he saw it, a sword. Where have I seen that before?
Whatever it was raised the curved sword above its head and then a face appeared. Shit, this can't be good. He stared and then mouthed a silent no. The next thing he knew he was sitting straight up in bed. He pulled his knees up close to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. It wasn't real.

This was the third guilt / death dream this week. He glanced down next to him, and saw the familiar blonde hair tangled up in the sheet. He could hear her soft sighs and gentle breaths. The nightmare plucked on that guilt cord that he played so well. As he inched off the bed, he felt her fingers scrape across his hand.

"Come back to bed," she pleaded.

Any other time he would have crawled back into bed, seizing her warmth to scare away the cold that had seeped into his soul.

"Go back to sleep," he said and reached over and kissed her on her cheek.

He felt like a captured wild animal. Desperate to escape, he slid the rest of the way out of bed. He glanced back at Buffy, but he wasn't sure that he could look at those eyes of her, and lie. He slid on his pants, grabbed his shirt and fled out of the door and into the early morning darkness.


Spring had started to seep through the cracks and crevices, with dots of color like sprinkles on an ice cream sundae. Martha squinted through the glass window out past the patio. She couldn't remember where she had left her glasses. A fleeting glimmer had caught her attention and she took a step closer and leaned across the counter. Beyond the patio she could see her husband. Earlier John had been clearing all those wayward tree limbs that laid around like bones in an unearthed graveyard. At that moment he was measuring the space between the stairs in the garage and the utility room. Giles had asked him to build a covered walkway between the garage apartment and the utility room, otherwise Angel would continue to be trapped in either the flat or the house during the day. The framing was almost done.

Martha liked watching him work. He exuded a quiet dignity. His looks hadn't really changed that much since the first day she saw him. She sighed to herself and took a short step back in time. Hadn't it just been yesterday when her mum had buttoned up her white lace wedding dress and placed the bouquet in her palm? She remembered it clearly. Her eyes had locked on John, a beacon calling her home, until she planted her foot on that blasted child's dummy. She had lost her balance and pitched forward, windmilling her arms frantically like a spastic tightrope walker. She remembered reaching out to grab at something, anything solid, for balance and instead her hand swept forward knocking Aunt Helen's hat straight up in the air. Fortunately, John had swooped in like a knight and rescued her and the damn oversized hat. All of a sudden, the teakettle whistled and Martha's eyes blinked. She found herself silently laughing at the memories. As she looked back toward the window, she caught her own reflection. Her short silvery bob swung forward and bounced across her cheek. Her eyes were a sharp blue and crinkled when she smiled. Not quite ready for pasture yet.

Yet she remembered overhearing the ladies down at the supermarket, talking about her husband. She was shocked. Of course they didn't realize that she was standing in the next aisle. Sarah Davis had commented that she had seen John outside at the garden centre. She went on to say that he was quite fit and then she giggled and whispered something to Helen Connor. Martha couldn't quite make out exactly what was said next, but it had her name, pudgy hedgehog, and how could he, and then more giggling. Martha had turned bright red, and found her eyes a bit watery. She put down the loaf of bread and wiped at the corners of her eyes. She waited for a moment and scurried down the aisle. As she was leaving, the headlines ‘Men and the Younger Woman' seemed to slap her in the face. She knew that she and John hadn't had much time to spend together with taking care of the house and such. He seemed preoccupied with all the projects at Summerdown. He was never one to talk someone's ear off, but lately he seemed quieter than ever. Just last night he took a phone call and when she asked him about it, he mumbled that it was something for work. Now that she thought about it, he seemed to be spending more time away. Her mind raced. Oh my, I need to fix this.

"Maybe we could take a small holiday on the coast, relax and enjoy ourselves," Martha murmured.

A voice from behind said, "So that's what you've been doing out here, chatting with yourself?"

Martha craned her neck around.

"And you're quite the cheeky one these days, aren't you?" she said, as she picked up the tray.

Giles just let the edges of his lips turn up.

"Here, just make yourself useful, will you?" she asked and held out the tray.

Giles raised an eyebrow, smiled and took the tea tray from her and made his way back into the study.

Buffy hung up the phone. She looked at Angel. God, that face, but boy could he still brood like it was his job. His eyes were closed and Buffy paused, hesitating to say anything. She still hadn't asked him where he had slithered off to early this morning.

"So are you going to tell me or make me beg?"

"Oh I am all about the begging, especially when it involves..." Buffy stopped suddenly.

"Who's begging?" Giles interrupted as he carried in the tea and biscuits.

"Begging? Who said anything about begging, Giles? It may have sounded like begging, but it could have been bagging; I'm bagging this place."

There were days, many of them as of late, when Giles often wondered if he should be drinking whiskey instead of tea. He glanced across at Angel and thought he looked like he needed a drink.

"Buffy, stop torturing the man," Angel said as he tried not to smile.

Giles cringed and sat down in his chair. "Am I supposed to follow this conversation, and is there some information you might want to part with?"

"Remember Giles, strangling is probably a crime here too," Angel chuckled

"I do love that 20 questions game," Buffy said as she leaned against Giles' desk.

"Buffy!" they both said in exasperation

"HA! mission accomplished, there's the frustration I was going for," Buffy said with a smirk.

Giles took his glasses off and murmured something that sounded like pain in the arse, and when she glanced at Angel, well he had a different look all together.

"Alright, you two are obviously into sucking all the fun out of me," as she rolled her eyes and then continued. "The phone call was from Lisa's friend, Carole, and they are planning some sort of Cluedo holiday at this castle in Wales. A girls' holiday."

"Cluedo? Castle?" Angel asked

Buffy paused. "I think she said Cluedo, but it could have been clued in or clueless, it was something involving getting a clue. And staying in a castle, did I mention that it's for my new friend Lisa's birthday? Birthdays usually involve any number of the following fun things: talking, eating, and drinking with new friends. I so need this. I am seriously girlfriend deprived."

Giles looked at Angel and said, "It actually is Cluedo, unless you're from the States and there I believe it's called the game of Clue."

Angel raised his eyebrows.

Giles continued, "The game Cluedo, or Clue, was as far as I remember invented by Anthony Pratt in 1943. Actually, I think the name Cluedo is a clever word play on the traditional game "Ludo" which is Latin for "I play". There were originally 10 suspects: Doctor Black, Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, The Rev. Mr. Green, Miss Grey, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Nurse White, Mrs. Silver and Colonel Yellow. Then these were changed to the well known six - Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, Reverend Green, Mrs. White, Miss Scarlett and Mrs. Peacock."

"Oh yes, Clue, Miss Scarlett in the library with the handcuffs," Buffy added with a wink.

"I don't believe there are handcuffs in this particular game," Giles said with a straight face.

"Angel," he continued, "it's basically a who-dunnit. The hotel guests are asked to become a specific character. A scenario is given and someone then is murdered. The guests must then ask clues to ascertain who the murderer might be."

"As long as there are no medusas, demons, or master vampires then I am game." Buffy paused for a moment, "I think I may have jinxed myself." She leaned over and tapped Giles' desk three times sharply. "There that should do it."

"The holiday sounds perfectly innocuous," Giles said.

"If you can wait till later, I can drive you over," Angel offered.

"Actually, I could do it, Angel. Harry called from the bookstore in Hay-on-Wye and said that the book I have been desperate to get my hands on finally came in. "Libris Spiritus," Giles said, reaching for another biscuit.

"Perfect Giles, as I'm supposed to be at Lisa's by 2:00."

"Then it's settled," Giles said.

"Yes, it seems settled," Angel said quietly.

She glanced at Angel's face, but he was looking out into the hall.

As Martha came down the stairs, she overheard Buffy and Giles bantering back and forth, like old friends. She smiled to herself and paused at the bottom of the stairs. Every once in awhile she would hear Angel's deep velvety voice, a voice that Martha decided could melt a frozen stick of butter. She knew she should check to see if they would be here for dinner.

Martha poked her head inside the study. A musky earthy smell permeated the room, as if there should be a dirt floor instead of the woven rug. She loved being in the study with all these books. As a matter of fact there was a whole new box of books next to his desk. Earlier he had told her that he was sure that there were a couple of old cookery books that she could keep for her collection. Cooking for her was a passion and she was especially fascinated by old recipes. Giles and Buffy were standing in front of the desk. A small cough brought his attention from the map to the door.

Giles fingered his glasses and asked Martha to come in. She politely refused, but asked the group if they were going to be eating dinner here at the house. If she was going to cook a full dinner, then she wanted to get started early. Giles shook his head, and stated that he was going to Hay-on-Wye. He then recounted that the shopkeeper had found one of the rare books for Giles that had been at the top of his must have list. But first he was delivering Buffy to Lisa's house to meet her friends.

"Would you like me to pack some crisps and such for your trip then?" Martha asked.

"Oh chips, would you stick in some of those wonderful cookies too," Buffy added.

"Buffy, you are only going down the road," Giles said as he bent down and lifted up the box of books.

"Yes, but there's the rather long trip to the hotel, and snacks take the edge off," Buffy pleaded with Martha.

Martha smiled and nodded at Buffy. She then glanced at Giles. A fine sheen of sweat had broken out across his forehead. Martha headed back toward the kitchen. Giles trudged along behind her as if he were a mule carrying supplies.

In Angel's mind, Martha was the true hero of the afternoon. She might as well have been wearing a cape as far as he was concerned. He had listened long enough to Buffy and Giles debate almost everything from which road to take, to what kind of clothes to pack. Angel pushed himself up out of the soft leather chair and walked over to the door. He smirked and then crooked his own finger at Buffy. She pursed her lips together, leaned back against the desk.

She leveled her gaze at him. Okay, I'm game.

Looking at him still made her feel like someone just punched her right in the stomach.

"I thought you might need some help with that suitcase of yours, Miss Buffy," Angel said, deadpan.

Buffy put her hand up to her forehead, and did her best Miss Scarlett imitation.

"Oh yes, kind sir, that would be so helpful, you know I feel faint just thinking about that big old suitcase. Matter of fact, I feel so faint now that I think I need to lie down. Could you help with that?"

Angel chuckled and then stopped.

Buffy's eyes signaled victory.

"It's one to big fat zero!" she said victoriously.

"I don't remember any official starting date."

Buffy ignored him and laughed, "Well you might as well face facts now, Chuckles, you are so losing this."

They had started this bet last night. Buffy had complained, among other things that Angel rarely laughed anymore and he countered with the same statement about her. Brown eyes had met darkened green ones, both a little annoyed and faintly challenging. Buffy knew that recent events, like those lovers turning into something resembling the Great Barrier Reef, tore at him like talons raking through flesh. The sores were still open and oozing. A game, she decided, was the kind of distraction that was needed. And the object of this newly thought up game, first and foremost, was to get Mr. Broody to laugh, snicker or chuckle, using whatever means necessary. The only rule was that there were no rules.

Buffy smiled coyly at Angel and sashayed up the stairs. They were temporarily staying upstairs in one of the bedrooms as John was still working on the stairs up to their flat above the garage. She reached the top step and pivoted. Angel had just started to make his way up. His muscles struggled in vain to free themselves from the confines of cotton and polyester. As he made his way up the stairs, Buffy took inventory. His face, in particular those lips, she thought were as scrumptious as those desserts Martha whipped up. He grabbed her at the top of the stairs and lifted her up. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her feet around his waist. He turned and nearly tripped over Ari. That damn cat showed up at the most inopportune times, probably on purpose. Angel grunted as he shifted his weight to keep from dropping Buffy. She snorted.

"You wouldn't be laughing, if I dropped you on that bottom of yours."

Her eyes still glistened with laugher as her hands nestled further into his hair.

He lay down on the bed, and dragged her on top. She closed her eyes.

It was at times like these that the complexity of their relationship melted away and things became very simple. She often thought of these moments as precious. In her mind they were a means to endure the evilness of a world that was thrust upon them. She felt his lips gently brush over hers, and all thoughts and worries vanished.


Giles plopped the box of books on the counter. He paused to catch his breath and then informed Martha that she could have whatever cookery books she happened to find. He went on to say that he would go through the rest of them whenever he got back from Hay-on-Wye.

"It's a shame that you're not staying tonight for dinner. I was planning a pepper steak with devon cream and a lovely chocolate crumble with vanilla ice cream for dessert."

"You're an evil woman, Martha," Giles said as he spun around and walked toward the door.

Martha's eyes followed Giles' back. She worried about him. His smile never quite reached his eyes these days. Though books were great companions, they probably weren't the warmest things to sleep with.

"Now let's see what treasures Giles has brought me," she said to herself as she peeled open the top of the box. The blanket of dust that lay over the books swirled upwards like a funnel right into her nose. Naturally, Martha sneezed immediately, clearing the rest of the offending dust off the top book. So that's why he had me opening the box first. See if I save him any dessert.

The echoes of laughter made their way down into the kitchen. A bit of envy crept through Martha as she thought about Buffy and Angel. It was obvious that she was his. Sometimes she would see Angel brush his fingers across the nape of Buffy's neck. Buffy would surrender to his touch, and lean back into his hand. Those simple gestures spoke volumes. She rubbed the back of her neck, as she tried to remember the last time that John had shown her that kind of affection.

Back to business. Her palm slid across the leather, which was smooth and cool to the touch. The book was obviously very old. Martha could see that the binding was stretched and pulled, like a pair of old leggings. She gently pried open the cover and opened the book up. There, staring up at her was some beastly creature, which looked somewhat like a bird and yet the bottom part was definitely horse-like. Well this will be one for Mr. Giles, then. She put the book aside and dug further into the box. She pulled out another leather bound book; the leather cover had some sort of symbol indented into it. The symbol was familiar; she had seen it on a book that Ella had brought over one day. Carefully she opened it up and peeked inside.


Angel lay back with his hands behind his head and watched. Buffy was flitting around the room, resembling an overactive hummingbird. If she stopped moving, Angel was sure that Buffy would collapse in a heap on the floor. Numerous pieces of clothing went in and some came back out of the suitcase. Then all frenetic movement stopped. Buffy paused and pulled at her lower lip with her teeth.

"Why are you looking so serious?"

"I'm having a debate," she said, holding her shoes.

"What, on how ugly that shoe is," he said with a grin.

Her eyes widened. She reached back and pitched her shoe. It bounced off the headboard next to his ear.

"Somebody hasn't been practicing," he chanted in an annoying sing-songy voice.

"You're just lucky it wasn't something longer and pointier and just for the record, I could've nailed you."

"You wound me so." Angel clutched at his chest.

But before she could throw the matching shoe, Giles called down from below.

"Buffy, please tell me that you are packed. It is at least a two and a half hour drive to Hay- on -Wye from here."

Buffy walked through the bedroom door and peered down the stairs. Giles was at the bottom, pacing like a caged animal.

"I think I heard him growl, guess I'd better get down there before he hurts himself," she said, rolling her eyes.

She turned back around. Angel was sitting on the edge of the bed. His ocean blue shirt gaped open right below his neck. For a split second, she couldn't remember where she was going or more importantly why she was leaving. Her hand instinctively went up and touched the doves that lay across her collar bone. She sighed. His cool hand slid over hers. One by one his fingers gently released her grasp on the suitcase's handle. Buffy ran the tip of her finger over his lips. She contemplated whether her soul would always feel the pull of his. Her voice slipped into his ear and whispered that she would miss him. Her mouth traveled across his cheek and melted onto his lips. Her tummy whimpered.

Giles thought the suitcase resembled a dead, bloated animal left for days on the side of the road. He dragged it out to the Discovery and hoisted it unceremoniously into the back seat. Buffy glanced back toward the house. She pushed a wayward strand of hair back behind her ear with one hand, and reached down and latched onto the bag of cookies with the tenacity of a pit bull terrier. The leather seats felt cool against her back. She whipped out her sunglasses and pronounced herself ready to go.

She looked over at Giles and said, "Maybe I should ride in the back seat, and it can be like driving Miss Buffy, you know instead of Driving Miss Daisy."

Giles pretended to glower at her. She laughed and waved out of the window as they pulled away from the house. It wasn't very far to Lisa's house, just a mile or so down the road. The wind was soft against her face and she could feel the warmth touch her skin. Buffy couldn't wait till the fields were painted with colors. She could see the horses out in the fields, as the Discovery made its way to Lisa's house. Giles spotted a car in the parking area, with all four doors and the trunk wide open. Suitcases and coolers surrounded the car, as if they were holding it hostage. The women were huddled around the bonnet of the car, gesturing and bobbing their heads up and down, as if they were birds performing some kind of mating ritual. They stepped away from the car and Giles could see that a map was spread open, secured by handbags on each opposing side. Lisa rolled her eyes and motioned for Buffy to come join in on the chaos. Giles yanked the suitcase out and half rolled and half dragged the beast to the other car. He gave Buffy a hug and told her to try and behave herself.

"Giles, you'd better keep that mobile phone of yours turned on," as she thumped him softly on the arm. It sounded like an or else should have followed that statement.

Giles pull out the offending device.

"See, the demon device is on and charged."

A hand grabbed Buffy's arm, and tugged her toward the rest of the women. When Giles glanced back, Buffy had been sucked into the head-bobbing huddle, which was randomly punctuated by laughter. Giles smiled and headed on his way.


Martha's eyes widened. Hmmm, this isn't just an ordinary run of the mill cookery book. She paged through a bit, and stumbled across what appeared to be a chapter on Magical Herbs. The words at the top were written in an old style of script, but she could make out To Maketh His Heart Thine Own. Directly under the title it read: Her finger paged down the left hand side and her eyes followed impatiently.
This is just a simple soup recipe, with some extra added ingredients. It calls for a pinch of this, and that, and a pig's heart, easy as pie. She quickly scribbled down the needed ingredients on a recipe card and stuck it in her pocket. She shoved the book in the top drawer and went outside to find John to see if he needed anything from their village. John's monosyllabic answers, along with the fact that he never even looked at her, only furthered Martha's resolve to fix this, this thing that was going on with them.

The pencil scratched across the paper as he sketched from memory. Outside a car engine sputtered and then died. Angel laid down his pencil. He could hear Martha's and John's voices followed then by continued hammering and a door shutting in the house. He looked back down at the face he had sketched. He frowned. Sad, blaming eyes stared right back at him, silently screaming it's your fault. His guilt was now like a swollen termite, gnawing up through his core, leaving the outer shell and only hints of what used to be inside. A crash followed by a loud crack echoed from downstairs. Martha must be preparing for a war of sorts out in the kitchen. Well this didn't bode well for sleeping.

The blood from the pig's heart had seeped through the white wrapping. Martha put the meat in a bowl. She rooted through the bags, and found the spices she had purchased. The book had called to flatten the heart and rub in the spices needed for the spell. Martha made a meat rub with a handful of basil, caraway, ginger root and cinnamon. Then it said the meat was to marinate overnight in its own blood and red wine. She was almost sure Giles had put some red wine in the cabinet. She swung the cabinet door open on the bottom and stuck her head in as far as it would go. She thought she saw the Merlot hiding in the back corner behind the flour.

The outside door opened.


"Yes, John?"

"Where in the devil are you?"

"Just a minute, will you."

"I'll just get it myself then."

"Right, you do that."

She tamped down her annoyance and determinedly set forth to stretch her fingers around the neck of the bottle.

"There you are my pretty," she cackled, holding the bottle close into her chest.

"What are you doing, Martha?"

"Well, I was going to make you some fresh soup, for lunch tomorrow. But now I'm not so sure."

There was an audible sigh. Then she heard the door shut just as she pulled herself up off the floor.

The door closed behind him. John turned around and stared at the window. Lately, it seemed he couldn't do or say anything right.

She found herself staring at the place where John was standing. She carefully studied the book again. Both pages were marked with a ribbon. Martha opened the drawer and found what she was searching for. The wooden mallet struck the heart several times. The tiniest bit of blood oozed out to the bottom of the bowl. Now this won't do. I believe I need more blood. Ahh, a smidgen out of Angel's container might work nicely.

The plastic container was a little less than half way full. The coldness of the container and the blood sloshing around, gave Martha a moment's hesitation.

"Well here goes nothing."

Fingers rolled and ground the spices into the pig's heart. She tipped the bottle and the blood splashed over the top, droplets bounced onto the counter. She poured herself a glass of Merlot, then continued drizzling a good portion of the wine over the meat. She then took out the homemade beef broth and poured it into the stainless steel pot, while she then added some more wine. Vegetables were added to the broth. The recipe from the book of spells said for her to then add a dash of cumin, dill, and cardamom and fennel seeds, along with a sprinkling of parsley.


The shrill double ring startled Angel. He reached across the night stand, his palm hit the side of the mobile and he watched it as it twisted in midair, did a one and a half flip and landed face down on the floor. It reminded him of those divers who screwed their dives up and ended up doing a belly flop.

He leaned over the edge of the bed and grabbed the phone, hitting the little green button. He groaned as he pulled himself back up into a sitting position.

"Angel?" Buffy paused, "Angel! I know you are there. I can hear you groaning."

"Buffy, wait a minute." Angel adjusted the phone. "How was your trip?"

"Angel, get this, we're staying in a castle. There are tapestries in the lobby. It used to be a real live castle, probably had knights, princesses, jokesters."

"Jesters. So how do you like your room?" he asked.

"Our room isn't as big as our flat, but we can look out of the window and see these gorgeous hills. And there are two rivers that surround the castle. This is going to be the best. Did you know they do bog diving here? Wait! You don't think there could be bog demons. Cuz we might actually get bogged down."

Buffy snorted and Angel smiled through the phone.

"Oh and by the way, I took a little walk around the hotel. Lots of people here for the murder mystery weekend. But no demony feelings, no hair-raising alarms screaming in my brain. None. Nada. Zip. So whaddya think my chances are of having a demon-free weekend?"

"Talk to me tomorrow."

"Ahhh yes, night and evil, kind of goes together like milk and cookies."

"And Buffy?" She heard the hesitation in his voice.

"Yeah, I know. Be safe."

"Not what I was going to say, but that too." Angel paused.

He heard the chorus of female voices in the background, and Buffy yelled that she would be right down.

"Angel, look gotta run, they are doing the Cluedo 101 intro. I'll call you tomorrow. Behave."

"Always," he said as he hung up the phone. He laid back and closed his eyes.

Martha sealed the stainless steel pot and slid it into the fridge, then tightly covered the dish with the marinating meat and set it next to the soup. The book found its way back into the drawer underneath the tea towels. She grabbed her coat and headed out the door. So mote it be.


He clenched his fingers, balling them into his palm and then stretched them back out. The cold steel slab adhered to his back, grabbing each vertebra. His ankles and wrists were lashed down by strips of leather. Overhead a light pierced through the dark into his eyes. A flicker of steel caught his attention. A gloved hand brought the scalpel down into the center of his chest. The voice attached to the gloved hand screamed the soul, cut out the soul. He howled as the guilt gnawed away. He took in air and let it out.

Disoriented, Angel stumbled down the stairs and into the darkened kitchen. He was famished. He opened the fridge. The harsh light struck his eyes and he flinched. The smell of blood saturated the inside of his nose. He looked for the blood filled container, he was sure he had some left. These nightmares are making me mad.

He frowned down at the red flattened slab of meat floating in a sea of red. Angel stared at the dish. Maybe a bit of blood would let him sleep in peace. Anyway why would that meat need all that extra bloody liquid? It's not like Martha will be drinking it. Rationalization always works when one is hungry. He drained the liquid into a tall glass and punched in a minute on the microwave. The first sip splashed over his tongue. Ambrosia. The blood-laden spices filled his mouth and swirled down his throat. He chugged it. After the last drop dribbled slowly down his throat, he washed the glass and put it away. He looked at the raw meat lying in the dish, naked. His hands pressed down on the meat, squeezing out the last miniscule bits of the blood. The bottle of Merlot was almost empty. Angel added some water and poured the remains of the wine over the dried and overly squeezed meat. She will never know. Another familiar face flashed in his mind and he stared at the floor for a moment, while more memories washed over him. He needed to lie down; he needed to rest.


John walked into their tiny, airy kitchen. Her bag sat next to the door with a loaf of fresh baked bread peeking out over the top.


She walked into the middle of the kitchen.

"Yes?" she answered, still trying to comb out her hair.

"I'd like to get over there and finish that project."

"Right, I'll be out in a moment."

"I'll be out in the car, then."

As John made his way to the car, he shook his head. He wondered if Martha was doing that weird woman thing. Her constant fretting, seemingly inane questions, often watery eyes, along with the fact that he would look over and find her staring at him, made him afraid to say anything to her. He had been trying to plan their 25th anniversary holiday. A trip to Paris and he wanted to make it a surprise. However, with Martha lurking around every time the phone rang, it had become difficult. Thinking about it all made him tired.

Martha peered outside. It smelled of rain. She grabbed her bag and reached for her umbrella. The whole trip over to Summerdown, John kept making these odd noises. It was as if he was choking on words and couldn't get them completely out. At one point, Martha actually asked him if he wanted to say something because she couldn't read his mind. He claimed he just had to clear his throat.

Her shoes crunched across the slippery cement. The bag was lopsided so Martha shifted her weight onto her other leg. She reached in with one hand and procured a set of keys. The bag was balanced precariously against the wall. She slipped in the key, and turned the lock. Martha batted the door open with her foot. She walked over to the counter, and slung the bag up on top and unloaded her supplies. Then she pulled out her list and got busy.

The rag was covered with dust just from Giles' desk. She had tried to tidy up in the study, but loose papers and books were firmly in control. She then paused and listened, stealing a few moments of rest and letting her mind wander. Footsteps echoed from upstairs. Angel must be up and about. She glanced at her watch. Almost magical soup time, she thought and headed down the hall toward the kitchen. Cooking gave her a purpose and now she would put that purpose to use. She poured herself some tea and pulled out the book from underneath the tea towels. Opening the book, she found the words that would literally stir magic into her soup.
The soup sloshed about in the pot as she pulled it out of the refrigerator and placed it on top of the stove. She retrieved the marinating meat. She frowned at the dish. I thought there was more marinade than this? She shrugged and plucked the meat from the marinade, browned it the pan and added it to the soup.

A sigh slipped out of her mouth. Martha cast a wistful look in John's direction. She couldn't believe she was actually going through with this. But desperate times called for desperate measures, or something along those lines. The spell book wasn't big on procedural guidelines, so she improvised. Her plan was simple. She would take him out a mug of soup. He would drink it, and then she would say the incantation, from the safety of the kitchen. He would think she had lost her mind if all of a sudden she just started chanting. It was important for her to remember that she had to say his name for it to work.

The big mug of soup was steaming, as Martha placed it next to John's work table. She laid the plate with the freshly baked bread next to the soup. John was perched on a ladder nailing the cover into place. He watched as Martha brought out the food. She didn't even say a word. She had pointed to the soup and bread, waved and scurried back into the house, like a mouse running back to its hole. Women, he thought as he shook his head. After punching the last of the nails in John climbed down. John ripped off a piece of bread. He saw his screwdriver had fallen. He bent down to retrieve it off the ground. The hammer on his belt slammed into the mug. It went sliding across the bench and sailed over the edge. John reached out and grabbed in vain at the air. The mug hit the ground and shattered. Martha's soup splattered across the ground. He slid his hand through his hair. Then he grabbed a piece of bread, shoved it in his mouth and started picking up shards of the mug and lumps of meat.

Martha dug down in the bottom of her purse, grabbing the crumbled note paper. Earlier when she was cleaning in the library, she had discovered a ritual spell book. She had scribbled down notes for casting a circle. She double checked and proceeded to draw a circle with granules of salt.
"I cast this circle." she said slowly and added, "to protect me from all negative energies. I cast this Circle, to protect me from all forces that may come to do me harm. I cast this circle, to draw in energies to aid me in my craft."
She then walked three times in a counterclockwise direction asking for Branwyn's assistance.

She then tried to quiet her stomach as she looked at the words again. She pulled out a pink rose scented candle, and lit it. The scented air filled her lungs, and she exhaled. She closed her eyes and started. She knew she had to repeat it three times, and from what she could make of the text, she had to say John's name and then extinguish the flame.


She picked up the candle, the flame danced about. The candle's heat warmed her lips. Martha heard a slight creak behind her and she swung around.

"Angel!" she said in a whispery croak. His shoulders filled up the doorway.

The flame was no more, and she hadn't said the right name. Damn, well no harm no foul
He felt something whisper across his skin. Wide-opened eyes and trembling lips distracted him.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you. I thought I heard someone down here talking."

"Oh you know me, a bit of a babbling ninny, at times."

"I'll be in Giles' study if you need me." Angel turned and disappeared down the hall.

John opened the door, balancing parts of the mug in his hand. Martha opened her mouth and then closed it. She didn't even want to know. The broom bristles gathered up the salt in a couple of swipes across the tile floor.

"Sorry the soup got knocked over, but the bread was good," he said as he threw the mug away.

"Would you like some more soup?" she ventured.

"Nope, just some tea, but I can get it," John replied.

Her fingers and rubbed the space between her eyes, as if trying to erase the crease in her skin. Doesn't anything ever go right?


Angel had just slumped down in the leather chair, when the phone rang. He cradled the phone next to his ear. He didn't even have time to say hello.

"Angel, is that you?" Buffy sounded as though she was talking in a fish bowl.

"Where are you?" Angel asked.

"I'm supposed to be verbally sleuthing, but to me, it's more like mingling."

"So any demons mingling about?"

"Not a one. Let's just say we are here sans demons. But every once in awhile I've felt tingly skin."

"Maybe the castle has a resident ghost."

"I don't think so, this is different."


"Could be, it feels like power."

"Could be power from old magic."

"Old magic?" Buffy questioned and then paused for a second, "So a stake's probably not the weapon of choice?"

"Just be, as Giles would say, vigilant."

Buffy chattered on for a bit longer and then she said she had to get back. Angel hung up the phone. He sat there for a moment and stretched his long legs out. Footsteps echoed down the stairs, and Martha's singing floated through the room. He smiled as he thought of earlier and how he had startled Martha and the expression that crossed her face. How vulnerable and exposed she looked.

"Martha," he whispered out loud.

That is such a pretty name. She is rather pretty in a handsome sort of way. How her short thick hair lies softly against her face, her bright eyes wide open, and those pouting lips.

He pulled out his sketch pad and went to work.

Dusters were popping out from underneath her arm, as she made her way back into the kitchen. As she walked by the island, a familiar face caught her eye. She set things down and looked again. It was a picture of her, leaning over the counter. She was kneading bread. Her lips were curved up at edges, as if she had just been thoroughly kissed. The artist had captured her soul. Heat crept up her face. Oh my. Angel had to have done this. Is this how I really look?
The book straddled his leg. He found the perfect poem and it suited her.

Martha moved toward the door of the study, she craned her neck around the doorframe. The black sweater clung to his body, like honey dripping on warm bread. Her fingers tapped out some little ditty on the door frame. It hid her nervousness.

His voice broke through the silence.

"Come in. Sit down. Keep me company."

"Sit down?" Martha said, squeaking the two words out. Her face flushed.

Angel just smiled. The tea towel slipped between her fingers. She thought someone shouldn't look that beautiful. When she stood back up her face was so pale it was almost translucent. Angel thought she was going to bolt any minute, as if a vampire was chasing her.

"I want you to listen to this. Come here," he said quietly.

"Soup. I promised John. Yes, I promised John I would get him some more soup."


"Alright, but just for a minute," she said, as Giles' chair creaked under her weight.


John opened the kitchen door. He looked around and listened. A low-pitched stream of words trickled through the hall and right down to where he stood.

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
"I love her for her smile her look her way
Of speaking gently, for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of ease on such a day"
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee, and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheek dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!

"Martha are you in there?" His voice broke the lyrical recitation as he stepped into the study.

"Ohh John, uhm, A..Angel was just reading me this lovely poem."

John frowned. He turned to look at Martha. Her unwavering eyes met his and he hesitated for a moment.

"Angel," he said in acknowledgement.

"Time to go?"

"Yep, seems like it."

"Thank you Angel, the poem was beautiful." Martha said, watching Angel look at her.

But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity." Angel finished

She hurried to catch up to John.

Angel waited until the light slipped away and then he left the house.


Between the person upstairs snoring, and the whistling of the heating pipes, there was no way she was going to be dreaming any time soon. One thing she did know was that she couldn't lie in this so-called double bed for a second longer. It was like every nerve in her body was on high alert and ready to fire. She felt claustrophobic. The mattress strained and moaned as she rolled off and onto the floor. After she reached under the bed to get her shoes, Buffy crawled to her suitcase and grabbed her flashlight. She snatched her coat off the chair and slowly opened the door. The light from the hall snuck into the darkened room outlining the edges of Lisa's bed. Please don't let her wake up, she prayed silently.

Buffy wedged herself between the door and the wall and scooted out. She closed the wooden door behind her. Her hands reached down into her coat pocket. She pulled the stake out as if she were a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. A stake was a beautiful thing. Never leave home without one.

A little further down in her pocket, she retrieved a rubber band and threw her hair back into a ponytail. She walked briskly down the stairs and out into main entry way. Only a few stragglers were in the lobby and the desk was deserted. She made her way outside. The cold air slapped her face, and she jammed her hands in the pockets.

The pregnant moon hung heavily in the sky. Beneath its quiet watch the unsettled fog swirled impatiently through the trees near the stream. Buffy moved a bit further away from the hotel and walked cautiously towards the water's edge. She stopped for a moment. She thought she heard singing. Buffy twisted around but the fog seemed to have wrapped around her and for a moment she couldn't see a thing. The beam from her flashlight only shone a few feet ahead, unable to penetrate the white murkiness. Then an old wooden bridge slipped in and out of view. She blinked. Someone is standing there. As she made her way toward the bridge, the fog quietly faded away. The moon's rays silently floated down and danced across the tiny ripples. In the moonlight, Buffy realized it was a woman. She seemed to be looking into the river, her amber hair hanging down past her shoulders. She stood up and turned in Buffy's direction.

"Hi there," Buffy said, walking up on the bridge.

"It's quite lovely out here tonight, isn't it?" the woman asked.

"In an eerie sort of way. Oh, I'm Buffy. And you are?"

"Me? Uhm... Gwyn..Gwyneth."

"I couldn't sleep, so I thought a walk might help."

"Ahh, walks do help clear the mind. The water always seems to be able to calm me."

"So did you lose something?" Buffy asked, as she looked over the railing.

"No, but I thought I saw something sparkling over there near the edge," Gwyneth said, as she pointed toward the flat rock.

"I think I see it," Buffy said as she pointed her light in the direction of Gwyneth's finger.

Buffy laid down and stretched her fingers. As her fingers plunged into the chilly stream, she let out a little gasp. Buffy grimaced slightly as she plucked the object out of the water in one swoop. She held what appeared to be some sort of a brooch or maybe a pendant. It was a beautifully shaped S, with red and blue stones inlaid in its body.

"How beautiful is this? Well, here you go," Buffy said, as she held the brooch out for Gwyneth.

For the moment Gwyneth ignored the fact that Buffy's hand was outstretched.

"It looks very old, and I believe that is a dragon." Then she continued, "Celts believed that dragons were guardians of the gates of heaven and the underworld."

Buffy nodded and immediately thought that Giles would want to adopt this woman.

Then Gwyneth took her own hand and curled Buffy's fingers around the brooch. Buffy's eyes signaled protest, but Gwyneth shook her head.

"I want you to keep this. Just a small token for this lovely chat."

"Are you sure?" Buffy asked.

Gwyneth nodded and said, "Maybe you will be able to sleep now."

"Sleep would be a good thing. And thank you so much for this awesome dragon."

Crystal blue eyes followed the blonde ponytail. Gwyneth smiled to herself and started home.

Martha squinted and looked at the clock. It was only one in the morning. She felt the heat wave radiate from her core, roll up her neck and across her face. She threw the covers off and flipped over on her stomach.
She couldn't get comfortable and if she kept flailing around like wet sheets on a line, she would wake John. She decided to get up and make a cup of chamomile tea. Maybe that would help her finally get to sleep.
She slipped on her robe and worn slippers. Martha then padded down the hall into the lounge. As she walked by the front window, a flicker of movement caught her eye. The watery moonlight seemed to stream down from above, splashing bits of light around. Suddenly Martha felt anxious, as if she was ready to launch out of her skin. Her feet steadied as she peered out, there was nothing outside, just a cat sauntering across the road. Shrugging she headed into the kitchen. She found her favorite tea cup and started to fill up the tea kettle. She glanced out of the window.
"Oh my dear lord!" she gasped, her hand flying up to her mouth.
She swallowed hard. There was a man standing in her garden. He seemed to be bent over fingering her plants. Somehow he must have sensed that she was staring at him, because he started to turn around. Martha dropped down to the floor and pushed her back flat against the cabinets. Her trembling fingers pulled her robe closer to her body. What was that man doing in her garden?
She crept back up, lifting her head above the window sill. He was still there, but this time the man was facing sideways. The moonlight edged the lines of his face.


He was looking directly at her now. She rushed to open the door.

"Angel what's wrong, is it Giles? Buffy?" Her pitch was rising with every syllable.

His eyes smiled at her tenderly. "No, they are fine, it's just that I couldn't sleep."

Confusion crept into Martha's eyes.

"They're fine? So what are you doing here?"

"I needed to be near you."

She heard the individual words but they didn't seem to make any sense.

"Near me? Angel, What are you talking about? Remember you and Buffy?"

Martha stepped back, her heel bumping against the bottom of the door. Angel reached out and took her hand to steady her. The coolness of his skin belied the look in his eyes.

"Martha," he crooned as he started to move in closer.
She was stunned for a moment. He said her name. It was as if there was a longing attached to each letter. Oh my! He couldn't have, could he? Dread crept up her spine. Martha's mind frantically clicked backwards on the time continuum.
Circle. Spell. Angel. Candle blown out. Bloody hell.

"Angel, by the way, did you happen to have any of the blood that my meat was marinating in?"

"A wee little bit," he replied as he held up his fingers to show how much.

"Oh my goodness, I am such a twit! How am I going to explain this? What to do? Giles! I've got to reach Giles," she said in one single breath.

"Martha, I can't help the way I feel inside."

The blood drained away from her face. She turned and fled into the house.

Giles wondered who was playing the piano. Whomever it was needed to stop banging on the keys. Then the real world penetrated the sleep one, and he realized it wasn't a piano after all. He opened his eyes and looked at the mobile ringing and vibrating on the nightstand. He groped around and found his glasses. He flipped open the phone.

"Buffy, this had better not be you calling me in the middle of the night."

"Giles. This is Martha. I'm so sorry to be calling you, but I think I've quite done it."

"Done it?" He paused. "Done what?"

Her voice quivered and she hesitated before she spoke again.

"Well the long and short of it is, that I may have cast a love spell on Angel."

Giles rubbed his eyes.

"Martha, why on earth do you think Angel is under a love spell."

"Erhm Giles, Angel's outside my house as we speak."

Martha went through the details of the spell and what had taken place that day. Giles held his tongue. After she had finished he wanted to shake her and rant and rave that spells are not something to be trifled with.

"I am coming home tomorrow, and we shall sort this all out, Martha. Don't fret."

"Don't fret? Easy for you to say! What about Angel? He's still outside my house."

"I say that eventually the dawn will be upon us and Angel will have to seek shelter. I have some research to do between now and then, so I shall say goodnight."

Martha bade Giles goodnight, locked the backdoor and went back to her room. As she slid back into her bed, John stirred and instinctively wrapped his arm around her waist. Her eyes stared into the darkness, and her mind journeyed down the road of what if. She couldn't believe she just thought she could whip up a spell and have everything go swimmingly. She was a certified nutter. She closed her eyes and tried to forget about the vampire in her garden.


As the sun began its ritualistic travel across the sky, Giles packed his books up in the back of the Discovery. Though, he kept his new found treasure right next to him. As the miles faded away on the motorway, Giles worked through how they could possibly reverse the spell on Angel. He needed to get to that book Martha used, but first he needed to get home.

The wheels crunched to a stop, and Martha just sat in the car. The worry and guilt made it difficult for her to think of anything else. John came around and opened the door. He placed his hand on top of hers and gently pulled. The crease that had burrowed into her forehead, had relaxed somewhat. Concern covered John's face and he asked if she was feeling okay. She nodded and asked if he would like a cup of tea. Though as she made her way to the kitchen, she worried about what might be lying ahead. She cautiously opened the door. Her sanctuary looked the same. No lurking vampire, as she breathed a sigh of relief. She listened for any sign of Angel, and wondered briefly if he had made it back from his midnight escapades.

The ticking of the kitchen clock was simultaneously pounding away in her skull. Every sound or noise inside brought Martha's adrenaline up a notch. She had been cooking to try and keep her mind off of Angel, the spell, and if Giles would be able to reverse her brief walk down insanity lane.
The crunch of the tires heralded Giles' arrival home. Martha flew out of the door like a pony out of a racing gate. Giles opened the door and pulled his overnight bag. As he turned around Martha was standing right behind him, wringing her worried hands.

"So you have made a mess of it, have you?" Giles chided her softly.

"A bloody mess," Martha said quietly, still wringing her hands.

"Well let's see what we can do, shall we? Do you have the cookery book?" Giles asked.

Martha nodded and turned toward the house. Giles walked next to her and tried to reassure her that it would all work out. He and Martha waved to John who had almost finished the covered walkway. Inside the kitchen Giles dropped his bag and walked over to the island. Martha had dug out the book and found the so-called recipe that she had meant to use on John. He had Martha go through the exact steps. Giles read through it and then paged to the back of the book looking for anything remotely resembling a reversal spell. Martha peered over Giles' shoulder and asked if he had found it yet.

Voices had floated into his room. Angel rested his arms behind his head. He couldn't believe that he had made it through the last several hours of sleep without someone trying to rip out his heart. A familiar scent made him sit straight up. He knew she was here.

Giles carefully paged through the book again. The binding was pulled and tattered. There were bits of paper stuck at the end of the book, as if pages had been ripped out of the binding. He could only assume that the last pages were lost to them.

Giles suggested that Martha find the ingredients she added. He knew he needed to make her feel useful. He couldn't have her following him around and staring at him as if she were a lost dog.

Giles then told her that he had to do a bit of research and started down the hall. His mind was elsewhere when he ran smack into Angel.

"Angel! Good you're here, I need to see you."

"I was just going to the kitchen," he said, looking past Giles down the hall.

"I could use your assistance."

Giles thought for a moment that he might actually refuse. Angel's face was unreadable, but he turned and walked a couple steps behind. Angel followed him into his study. Giles closed the door and headed toward the shelves of books.

"First, we must talk."

Giles could have sworn he heard Angel snort. He turned and leveled his gaze in the vampire's direction.

"Angel, you remember that blood you poached out of the meat dish."

"Poached is such a harsh word, Giles," Angel said without even a hint of a smile. "Seriously, I didn't think Martha would even notice."

"Yes, well," Giles paused.

"And I thought it would help get rid ..." Angel trailed off.

Giles grabbed the book he was searching for and walked it over toward him.

"Angel, listen. I need your help in finding a way to reverse a love spell."


"Yes, Angel, like in undo it."

"Is it for you?"

"No. You."

"No, I mean who is it for?"

Giles handed him a book on Celtic magic.

"It's for you. Start looking."


Buffy took one last look at the Castle of Brecon Hotel, as they threw the suitcases in the back of the car. Doors flew open and the sleuthing contingent piled into Lisa's car. Laughter filled the car as tales of the weekend were bantered about with much ribbing and teasing spread in between.


Giles thought if someone had looked up incredulous in the dictionary, Angel's face would be right next to the word. He then asked Angel if he had been thinking about Buffy. Angel thought for a moment and shook his head in a silent no. Giles went on to ask him who had been on his mind as of late.

"How?" he questioned. His face clouded with confusion.

"It was never meant for you, Angel. Oh and Buffy won't be home until later this afternoon," Giles said, as if he had read his mind.

Hours later, papers and books were scattered about the study. Giles smacked his hand down on the desk. Angel raised his head.

"Just tell me you found something," Angel muttered.

"I think I might have done just that," Giles said as he got up and left the room.

The clock had now become the enemy. Angel finally went up and covered its face. He figured Buffy would be home soon. Giles had been gone forever. He couldn't imagine where he had taken off to. Then, just as Angel thought about prying himself out of the chair to go search for him, Giles appeared with an edgy Martha in tow. She could barely look at Angel as she stuttered out some unintelligible jumble of words. Angel had to fight the urge to pull her close. Instead he grabbed her hand and told her to try not to worry.

Giles explained with this kind of love spell, one needed to use the caster's blood, Martha's as well as Angel's blood, to in fact reverse it. He also explained that as part of the ritual they would both need to focus on a crystal. He had Angel and Martha sit across from each other. He pulled out the velvet bag from the box. He then lifted out the pale blue crystal he had used during Buffy's cruciamentum. He placed it in between the two most unlikely love birds. He wasn't sure that he could even hypnotize demons. But maybe this would in fact serve more than one purpose. Giles told them both to concentrate and started to recite an incantation. He waved his hand in front of her eyes, no response. He did the same to Angel, again no response. The needle and tube quivered in his hands, as he drew a vial of her blood. Then he did the same to Angel. He combined the two vials, and then added the ingredients Martha had used in the first spell. When he directed them into the kitchen, they followed him as if they were a pair of zombies. Giles formed a circle with salt, around Angel and Martha. He then lit the candles, and said the spell he had found in a treasured book he actually received as a gift from Ella. He told Martha to pour the blood over the page that held the original love spell. As she poured the blood mixed with the herbs, the words on the page dissolved. Giles blew out the candles. So mote it be.

Before he released them from their trance, he made a hypnotic suggestion that Martha not allow herself to perform any magickal spells. Giles then turned to Angel and said that he should be able to forgive himself and he should allow himself to be happy.

Giles held Martha's and Angel's hand and said, "The only thing you will remember concerning the last days is that you are happy, relaxed and calm. You will feel safe here and will awaken when I count backwards to one. Three, two, one and awake."

They both blinked their eyes. Martha shook her head and turned and asked Giles if he wanted a cup of tea. She glanced at Angel and asked if he knew when Buffy was coming home.

"Hopefully soon," he answered.

Angel looked at Giles and knew why Buffy loved him so. The fact that he would even attempt to make a hypnotic suggestion for him to have peace of mind and happiness was something Angel never would have expected. So, as he heard the car pull up in the driveway, he thought the words expect the unexpected fit this group quite well.

The end

Author's Notes:
The Love Spell Martha performed actually was a combination of several spells, mixed together from the book I found. Do not try at home. The Wicca Spellbook by Gerina Dunwich
The Sonnet that Angel recited to Martha: Sonnet XIV by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Information concerning Brecon Castle where Buffy stayed, it looks so beautiful.


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