Project Paranormal
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Project Paranormal

Season 4

Part 1

Author: Ares




Summary: Our heroes are running around in circles chasing an elusive and deadly foe. Can they unravel the mystery he brings them before he can do much harm?









Her eyebrows rose, but her voice was flat, belying the turmoil she was feeling inside. "You need my help. Why don't I believe you?"


She lifted her stake again, knowing the vampire before her could sense her hesitation. It was happening again. The vamp had a silver tongue and, using it effectively as he always did, with four words he had her attention. And he knew it.


"Slayer," he drawled, his hands palm up, a wicked smile crawling across his face like a spider after a fly. Well, she wasn't about to step into his sticky web.


"Talk fast," she ordered him. "My arm's getting tired."


"What's the rush?" he asked, and, as if he wasn't the one at the end of a stake, leaned back to rest his shoulders against the wall.


"How about I stake you now? You're the one who needs help, remember, or is this another one of your tricks?"


"No need to be so...threatening, Buff. It's true. I need your help, and it pains me to have to ask for it."


Angelus did not look pained. In fact, to the slayer he looked like the cat that had gotten the cream. She stepped back a pace. Buffy knew never to give Angelus a chance to get close to her. He was fast, and she hoped that she was still faster.


She narrowed her eyes.


"How did you get here?" She didn't know if he had arrived through the portal she had discovered earlier. Nor did she ask how he had managed that. There was no reason to show her hand, and if Angelus hadn't arrived by way of the portal, then she wasn't the slayer she thought she was. She would pretend she hadn't a clue.


"How did you?" he countered, the curl of his lip making her want to wipe it off with her fist.


"By car. And you?" she snapped back.


Calm down, she was thinking. Don't let him get to you. But it was impossible, she knew. Just looking at him looking so like her Angel made her heart ache, and at the same time made her blood run cold. Inside her love lurked the one standing before her. Nix that, Buffy amended. Inside that gorgeous body were two beings. The two were intertwined, the soul and the demon knitting together to produce Angel, the most gracious and gentle soul she had ever encountered. And with the heart of a warrior and a will of steel, he wasn't above pushing aside his gentleness to get the job done.


A hand lifted - what was that she could see peeking out from beneath his cuff? - and halted, pale against the wine-coloured shirt Angelus was wearing.


"Who's the lucky man?" he purred, his eyes on the hand not holding the stake.


Realising that Angelus had noticed her eternity ring, and resisting the urge to hide her hand behind her back, she said, "None of your business. And speaking of, what do you mean you need our help?"


Angelus was silent for a moment. He was pondering the intriguing concept of the slayer having a love life that didn't include Him.


"How long did you mourn Him?" he asked, surprising himself, but unable to resist. He was curious.


Confused, Buffy asked, "Who?"


"Soul Boy."


Knowing that Angelus was watching her every move, Buffy kept her face as straight as possible. She hoped the violent pounding of her heart was a given due to the circumstances.


"Can we get back to this supposed problem you have? And for one delusional moment, I thought I heard you say you need my help?"


In one fluid movement Angelus righted himself. Buffy stepped back quickly.


"It's one and the same to you, isn't it? Angel, Acathla, both a pain in the ass!" His hand disappeared into a pocket. Buffy tensed, ready to stake him. Withdrawing his hand, Angelus threw an object at her. "Catch!"


And Buffy did.


Angelus pushed past her, saying, "Don't call me, I'll call you," and was out the ruined window, past the ivy, and into the trees before she could see what he had thrown to her.


"Dammit!" she muttered. The vampire had kept her talking, and the evening had crept in while she had been distracted. She uncurled her fingers. In her hand sat a medallion. She could make out symbols when she squinted hard.


"Dammit!" she repeated, and the words that Angelus had uttered earlier began to sink in.


Angel and Acathla.


Buffy shivered, the chill in her bones turning to ice.


From his vantage point in a thicket of trees, Angelus watched the slayer approach a familiar figure, and both he and she climbed into the man's waiting vehicle and sat awhile. Angelus smiled when he saw the man rest his hand on Buffy Summers' shoulder. Rupert Giles was comforting the slayer. The vampire's smile widened. Knowing he had been responsible for the slayer's anguish made Angelus feel all warm inside. He waited until Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers had driven away before making a move. Humming a little, he left the shelter of the trees and headed towards civilization. Travelling always made him hungry, and there had been no in-flight refreshments.




It didn't take Angelus long to ferret out the address of a certain ex-watcher. The librarian had been very helpful with pointing him in the direction of the computer, and hence the internet. She had been very tasty too, he found, leaving her lying dead between rows of books in the back. It had been in the Help Yourself section, which he found terribly amusing.


A couple of days later he was in Trowbridge, having taken a room in a pub, The Rising Sun, just off the A363. Angelus chose it for the irony. He was careful not to kill - that would come later. He didn't want the police, and therefore the slayer and her watcher, to know that he was about. At least, not yet.


The vampire left the car he had stolen hidden off the road outside of Westbury. It was a fine evening for a walk. He kept to the shadows, away from the street lamps, watching everyone going about their business. Not that there was much in such a sleepy hollow. Westbury was exactly the sort of place he would have placed Rupert Giles. The man suited the town, it appeared. Sleepy, a little worn and very English. Old school, old boy!


The vampire was surprised, when, across the road, a lady of indeterminate age waved at him before disappearing round a corner. He reflected on that, hesitating a step while trying to decide if he should pursue her, before continuing on his way.


The house belonging to Rupert Giles stood a mile or two outside the village. Leaving the road, Angelus crossed a field to approach it unseen. The vampire circled the watcher's home to get a feel for it. He discovered a walkway running between the main house and what was presumably the garage, which had a dwelling above. Perhaps the housekeeper's, he thought. And, as if he had conjured her up, when he continued past the garage around the side of the house, there she was, hunched over a plant in the herb garden. The woman was picking off a few leaves. He could smell the aromatic odour of mint from where he stood. Clutching a handful of leaves the woman turned and went back inside, closing the door behind her. Angelus smiled. He could have taken the woman, drained her and left her, a gift the watcher couldn't ignore. But, he had to restrain himself. After all, they were unlikely to be of any assistance if he killed the help, now would they? He stirred himself and wandered back to the window that allowed a view of what appeared to be the man's study.


A light illuminated the room within. The vampire could see the man himself perched in his chair, studying the medallion Angelus had given Buffy and trying to decipher the glyphs stamped there. A blonde head bobbed into view. It was the slayer; a heavy book was clutched to her breast. His gaze focussed there, and then she was gone, sat in a chair that he could see when he moved to his left. He stared at the blonde, wondering how she came to be living with Rupert Giles and not living back in good old Sunnydale. He wondered at her living, full stop!


Hearing the purr of a car, he melted back into the garden to see who had come calling. A man got out of the vehicle and, going round to open the passenger door, waited a minute or two until the housekeeper he had seen earlier exited the house. She hurried over to the waiting man and car.


Angelus heard them greet each other. It was the husband come to collect his wife. He found that interesting. The slayer and the watcher lived alone? The house was big enough for a large family. The vampire's thoughts drifted to another reason the slayer lived here. Perhaps Rupert Giles was the one the ring represented. His quiet chuckle was lost beneath the noise of the car's departure. He hadn't known that Giles had it in him. A loud hiss, followed by a growl, alerted him to the presence of a feline. The vampire turned. A large ginger cat, fur bristling and back arched, was challenging him. A low rumble in his chest had the cat fleeing his vicinity. He watched it as it charged away, disappearing round the side of the house. Leaving behind the house and its occupants, Angelus strolled back towards Westbury, planning a surprise or two for the watcher and his slayer.




Angelus was hungry. He was beginning to wonder if he should do away with his earlier decision not to kill, break his fast, and go find something to eat. The day had been a bright and sunny one and he had been forced to stay in his room. He found the television perched on a small table to be entertaining. The reality he had stepped into was very similar to the one he called home. At least, it had been similar until he called forth the demon Acathla. It was a move he deeply regretted now. For a brief moment he wondered how Drusilla was faring without him, and then dismissed the thought. She may be crazy but she knew how to take care of herself. Besides, it had been one of her visions that had sent him on this path, and her visions were not to be ignored, he had found. Otherwise he would be tempted to stay to hunt and feed in this world. Free to do as he wanted. Free, if not for the slayer. He could elude her indefinitely, he knew, but what was the fun in that?


Pulling up his sleeve, he frowned at the mark staining his wrist. There was only one way to be rid of it. And he was determined. He pulled his sleeve down, the wide cuffs and the new jacket would hide the disgusting reminder that he had a master.




Angelus once again hid his vehicle - the second one he had taken, having abandoned the other one back towards Trowbridge - and was enjoying the evening, walking towards the home of Rupert Giles and Buffy Summers. He refused to give into the bloodlust that was roiling at his senses. There would be plenty of time to satiate his needs once he was away from this place.


Strolling past a long low building - a hideous shade of pink, he thought - he happened to recognise a couple making their way from the carpark towards the pub's entrance. The sign announced it was The Boar's Head. Angelus decided he would the follow the two humans inside. He had promised himself a bit of fun and these two were giving him the opportunity. 


Perhaps if he greeted them...Before he had a chance to open his mouth, the couple turned and caught sight of him.


The woman, surprise written on her face, asked, "Are you following us? There's no need to, you know."


Angelus was perplexed. He stood still. Had Giles informed them of his presence? And why were they not afraid? There wasn't a hint of fear, only puzzlement coming from the pair. Three could play that game, he thought.


"I saw you arrive and wanted to say hello."


The husband had his hand on his wife's arm. He nodded to the vampire, smiled, and said, "Lovely evening, isn't it? Best to make the most of it now that winter is on the way."


Angelus kept the confusion from his face. It didn't appear as if they knew who he was. It looked like Giles hadn't told them. He thought that that was rather lax of the man. Were village folk in this reality friendlier to outsiders, then?


He nodded, and before he could reply, the housekeeper said, "John's given me the night off. He says I deserve a meal out, with Mr Giles not requiring my services tonight."


"Well done, John, I think your wife is a treasure." Angelus smiled. Maybe he should join the two and find out more about Giles and Buffy Summers.


Two men approached the pub just then, and the couple moved aside to let them pass. They glanced after the men, one having nodded at them, and then, turning their eyes back to the vampire, found he was nowhere to be seen.


Martha chuckled, and allowed John to guide her inside. They were used to Angel's comings and goings. Mind you, Martha found it odd that he hadn't said goodbye. Her laughter died away. Angel had given her such a scare a few days before, when he had surprised her coming out of the shadows the way he did, and she knew she had reacted stupidly. She shivered at the memory. She hoped that he hadn't taken it to heart. He would never hurt them, she knew, and she hoped he understood that she and John knew that.


Angelus had heard a whisper. The whisper said his name. In his peripheral vision he noticed a movement, a blur. It moved too fast to be human. He needed to investigate. Moving just as quickly, he hurried after it, tracking it down to a quiet and dark street corner, only to find himself face to face with...himself!


For once Angelus was dumbstruck. He stared at the other version of himself. He had thought that with Buffy alive she had had to kill his counterpart in this world. There would have been no other way for her to have survived. And when he had mentioned Acathla and Angel to her, the slayer had known what he had been talking about. However, she hadn't confirmed it either. He shook away the puzzle. Now wasn't the time.


Allowing his mouth to curl into a smirk, Angelus began to circle the figure.


"Well. What do we have here?"


Angel stared at his double, twin, whatever, and, keeping his distance, kept pace with the other's movements. Except for that weird drug-induced mind jaunt he had experienced back in L.A. where he had fought his inner demon, it had been several years since Angel had last seen a reflection of himself. It had been in Pylea where the usual vampire rules hadn't applied. He was just as fascinated now as he had been then. Did he look exactly the same? Was his hair the same length? Were his eyes as dark and his brows as straight? He resisted the urge to check his hair.


Angelus wasn't put off by the other's silence. "Is it Angelus or Angel standing before me?" His eyes raked the figure of the vampire before him. "Mmm...judging by the poor taste in clothes I'll venture it's Soul Boy I'm addressing."


Without having to glance down at his body, Angel knew to the button what he was wearing. What was wrong with the way he dressed? Except for the black leather trousers that Angelus wore, the midnight blue shirt could have come from his wardrobe, and the knee-length jacket was pretty close to his own. He wouldn't have worn the belt though. It was too big and garish for his taste. Besides, it drew the eye.


"I knew it." Angelus' smile was wide and white in the gloom. "How did you find me?"


"Please! I am you." Cordelia would have been proud of him, Angel thought for one second.


Earlier that evening Giles' cat Aristotle had fluffed his fur and bared his fangs at Angel, before calming down and hopping onto his lap. The vampire had an inkling the cat had encountered his alter ego and had recognised the difference. Angel had followed John and Martha to be sure that they were safe on their evening out. He had overheard John suggest that they eat out when he had arrived to escort his wife home earlier that evening.


"I am nothing like you!" Angelus drawled. "You failed in this dimension. I thought you were dusted with the slayer alive and all."


Angel refused to let Angelus' words chill him. "And you did so well. I hear you have a problem with Acathla. How's that turning out for you? Let me guess, you need Buffy's help."


Wide shoulders shrugged. "What can I say? I was hasty." Angelus stopped moving and faced him square on. "How did you get the soul back? We killed all her friends, Dru and I. No help there. Did the Kalderash come to the rescue? Did you not kill Jenny Calendar?"


Angel refused to show any pain at the mention of Jenny, and he pushed away the horror of learning that Angelus had mercilessly ended the lives of all of Buffy's friends.


His voice even, he said, "Why do you need Buffy's help? And why should we help you? Perhaps a stake is what you need." He produced one from inside a pocket.


Angelus held up his big hands in surrender. "Hold up a minute. Acathla plans to come through to your world..."


"I thought it was the other way round. The demon swallows the world."


"Semantics. Either way you're in his reality."


Angel wasn't buying it. "How's that going to work?"


The shoulders shrugged again. "What? Do I have to do everything myself? I don't know, but you and your slayer and that pet watcher of yours can find out."


"Why do you need Buffy?"


"I killed Buffy in my reality. We fought to the death. Swords, I recall." The look he gave Angel was one of pure delight. Angel's anguish deepened. Jaw clenched over gritted teeth, Angel resisted the urge to stake the demon.


Angelus continued, driving the knife home. "She wasn't strong enough. I really think she lost the will to live."


Angel's heart turned to stone, solidifying over the wound Angelus had inflicted. His voice could have turned the world to ice.


"There must be another slayer you can use."


"In every generation...yeah, I get it. Acathla has the world cowed. Demons rule the dimension. It is Hell, after all. New slayers don't last very long."


"Why a slayer?"


Angelus shook his head. "Nice try, Soul Boy."


Trying a different tack, Angel asked, "Why do you want to stop Acathla? Wasn't that what you wanted? The world of humans brought to its knees? Eternal torment for non-demons?"


Angelus sighed. "Never get what you wish for, isn't that the old adage?"


Comprehension dawned. Angel's smirk matched Angelus' own.


"You don't rule, do you? You're just Acathla's flunkey."


Angelus' brows drew together. The vampire glowered at Angel. The smirk had vanished.


"I want Buffy to stop Acathla coming across."


"I keep repeating myself. Why would you want to save our world?"


"I don't, but isn't that what you do?"


It didn't make sense to Angel. Angelus was hiding something and Angel wasn't surprised.


"Why can't she stop Acathla from this side? Why does she have to go to your world?"


Angelus shrugged again. Angel wondered if he shrugged as often, and was it that annoying.


"It's complicated."


"Enlighten me."


Angelus' gaze shifted to a point past Angel's shoulder. "Another time, perhaps."


Angel recognised the ruse. He did not take his eyes off the other vampire. When Angelus feinted to his left, Angel was ready for him. They traded blows, the stake tumbling from Angel's fist. He hadn't really been trying, he told himself as he and Angelus tried to pound each other into submission. They might need Angelus alive, at least until they found out what was really going on. Angel felt like he was fighting his reflection. His moves were countered before much damage could be inflicted. He got in a lucky punch and Angelus hit the wall hard. Several flakes of brick fell away. Angel moved in but Angelus twisted away and dealt him a blow that stunned. Head ringing, Angel leaned to his left, and with a sweep of his leg Angelus went flying.


Angelus rolled and was back on his feet quickly. Dancing back out of reach, grinning, he said, "It's been nice chatting to you, Angel. Tell Rupert Giles and that slayer of his I'll be seeing them."


In a blink of an eye he had launched himself to the roof of the nearest building. Leaning down, Angelus called, "Nice ring by the way," and he was gone.


For the briefest moment Angel considered whether he shouldn't give chase. He would catch Angelus and then what? Chain him to the bed? Build a cage and imprison him? And then have Martha serve him blood? The chains were tempting...No; the only way to keep the world safe was to dust him. But would it keep the world safe?


He had to ensure that Martha and John returned home safely. Pulling out his phone, he called Buffy to warn her Angelus was in the village and that John and Martha were at the Boar's Head for dinner. The slayer was on her way before he had time to finish the call. That done and knowing that Buffy would have warned Giles, Angel leapt to the rooftop and started after his alternate self.




There was a knock at the door. Giles frowned. He hadn't heard a car, and surely Angelus wouldn't be so bold as to knock on his door. Buffy had run out like a whirlwind, warning him that Angelus was about, and to be careful. Stopping to gather up his crossbow and a couple of stakes that went into his pockets, Giles approached the door.


"Who is it?" he called.


There was no reply. Giles called again. He heard a commotion outside, a crashing sound. He considered his options. If it was Angelus standing there, the demon would have no trouble smashing the door, or breaking a window, even if he couldn't come in. Summerdown House wasn't really much of a stronghold, and Giles would rather not have a costly repair on his hands. Better to gird one's loins, then, and see if this other version of Angel needed an invitation to enter. He was almost sure it did.


He leaned forward, unlocked the door and stood back as it yawned open. If there was an innocent bystander on his doorstep then he could explain away the weapon in his hands. There was nobody standing there. And then there was. It was the vampire, but which vampire?


"Giles," the vampire said looking at him with his dark eyes. "Sorry about that. I thought Angelus had come this way." The dark eyes focussed on the crossbow in the watcher's hands. "Good. I see you're not taking any chances."


Giles studied the vampire. It looked like Angel of course. It even dressed like him, and why wouldn't he? What had Angel been wearing tonight when he left the house? For the life of him he couldn't remember.


"Always be prepared," he smiled, but did not lower the bow. "Did something break?"


"I stumbled over a plant." The vampire shrugged in apology. "I hope it wasn't one of your favourites."


Giles backed up from the door a few more steps, his bow never wavering from its target. "I thought you could see in the dark?"


"Sorry, I wasn't looking where I put my feet."


Giles examined the vampire for any hint that he may be Angelus. He couldn't see any. Either this was Angel, or Angelus was the consummate actor.


The watcher backed away some more, hoping he had put enough distance between the vampire and himself. "I have work to do. Must get back."


When the vampire didn't move, Giles lowered his bow a little.


"Something wrong, Angel?" he asked. The vampire stood outside the doorway looking in.


"No." The vampire looked about.


"If you're looking for Buffy, she's not in. But then, Angel would already know that, wouldn't he...Angelus?"


The vampire showed his teeth, and Giles felt the pit of his stomach clench in fear. Old feelings came rushing back at the sight of that grin, and Giles brought the crossbow up.


"I can catch the bolt and throw it back before you have time to reload," Angelus taunted him.


"What do you want?" Giles demanded, feeling trapped.


"Is this any way to greet an old friend, Rupert?" the vampire drawled.


Giles' flesh crawled. "If you're not here to impart any measure of information then you're wasting my time. Good night to you."


Angelus did not take the hint. "Have you had any luck with the medallion?"


"What is so important about it?"


"If I knew that then I wouldn't need you, would I, Ripper?"


"Perhaps I will give up trying." Giles was just about at that point.


"But you won't."


Something had been bothering Giles and he decided to ask the monster at the door about it.


"Do you have a way to open the portal? I mean, if that is your intention..."


"I have that in hand..."Angelus cocked his head, his eyes never leaving the Englishman. "Company's arrived. Time to go."


Giles blinked and the vampire was gone. Knees suddenly wobbly, he leaned against the wall. When he glanced up again, the vampire was back.


The vampire asked, "Are you alright, Giles?"


Before he had a chance to open his mouth, he was gone. Angel, he presumed, in pursuit of Angelus. Giles shook his head to clear it. Bracing himself, he straightened up and went and closed the door. The brief meeting with Angelus had rattled him. All the old feelings he had harboured against Angel rose to the surface and yet he knew he was being unfair. This was not Angel or the Angelus he knew...and was. In his gut he knew it was. He had made his peace with the vampire. He called Angel friend. He couldn't, wouldn't forget that. But, looking into those dark eyes that had looked so soft and sincere at the door a moment ago, turning cruel and hard in an instant: old scars began to ache.


Giles had to warn Martha and John that there was a vampire out there who wore the face of Angel - someone they trusted with their lives - who was a killer and to beware they did not mistake one for the other. Oh, this was a tangled web, indeed. He'd thought with Angelus new to this world, the vampire was unlikely to look him up, and thus be a threat to any he knew. Sadly, he had underestimated the demon. Not the first time he had, and it would be his last, he swore.






Buffy sat watching Angel pace. The room wasn't all that large so it was only a step or two before he turned on his heel and paced back again. They were in London investigating yet another unexplained and gruesome murder. Buffy had thought that with all the miles of Underground and stations thereof, they would have been able to be on the spot any time of day, but no, that hadn't been the case. Where they needed to be was open ground. Not exactly the place for a vampire during daylight hours. To the police, the culprit and his motives were unknown. Buffy, Angel, and Giles knew full well who had committed those murders.


It had been weeks, a couple of months, since Buffy had first encountered Angelus in the deserted house in the Mendips. Their lives hadn't been the same since. All were affected by the arrival of Angelus.  Buffy knew that Giles had to remind himself that this wasn't the demon that had killed Jenny and tortured him. Buffy's mind screamed that this copy of Angelus was just that, a copy, and hadn't been responsible for all the mayhem and heartache she had suffered all those years ago. This wasn't the same demon she had fought and ended up running a sword through, saving the world and destroying hers. It didn't help the visceral feeling she felt when she had faced him though, and, feeling like a traitor, she had to admit a little of that remained when she had next set eyes upon her love. She had tried to compensate, but Angel had known and had retreated into an unsettling silence.


Angel couldn't describe the turmoil he was feeling with the advent of his alternate, alter ego. Buffy had tried to get him to open up, but it had been difficult for him, and he could see that she was upset by her confrontation and had not so reluctantly let it go. He wondered if Buffy had considered the ramifications of Acathla existing in the dimension in which Angelus resided. Did he have the heart to tell her? The similarities in both realities were uncanny. It made his head ache to think about alternate realities, or dimensions, whatever. His heart, already a dried up husk of a walnut, shrivelled more with guilt. Not only was he responsible for thousands of deaths in this world, he was an evil murdering bastard in another. How many more deaths were on his conscience? Were his sins so terrible -and he knew they were - that other realities were tainted, twisted, and in torment because of them?


Angel paced, trying to rein in his impatience. The day, reeling towards evening, thumbed its nose at him with the sun's slow progress towards the horizon. The days were drawing in but not fast enough for a vampire on a mission. He needed to be out there searching for the demon who wore his face. Angelus may need their help, if that was even true, but while he was on the loose he was killing, feeding off the population. Angel had had the opportunity to stop him once, had been unable to, and now the demon was killing people. Angel couldn't allow it to go on any longer, and part of him wondered why Angelus' victims were fewer than they could have been. There had been, in fact, a lull of a few weeks in the demon's killing.


Finally, Angel felt the sun release its hold on the land and, pivoting mid-step, he marched to the door. Buffy's hand was on the door knob before his. Concerned, her eyes searched his face.


"We'll stop him, Angel. Slow down."


Angel saw the tension and the worry in his girl's eyes. She had just as much reason to see Angelus captured, and, if not, dusted. Buffy was thinking about his state of mind, and here he was, focussed on the other vampire and not on her.


He attempted a smile. "'s just..."


"I know." She reached up, dragged his head down and kissed him on the lips. "Let's go kick some Angelus butt!"


Buffy patted her pockets for the feel of wood nestled there and picked up her bag waiting by the door. It was one of those long slim nylon bags used for carrying hockey sticks. It doubled as a sword and weapons bag. The legend Slazenger was emblazoned on the bag's side. A girl carrying a sports bag was ordinary, nothing to take notice of. The slayer envied Angel his height and the long coat he wore. In some mysterious fashion the coat harboured the vampire's sword without a hint of its presence, the sword appearing like magic in Angel's hand when needed. Angel opened the door for her and, as she stepped out, she felt him snag the bag from her hand. She smiled back at him. Okay, maybe she didn't have a cool coat and a disappearing sword but she had an Angel who would carry her weapons for her. That was even better.




It was hard to believe that they were in the middle of London. Primrose Hill to be exact. The Underground station that had served the area had been closed for many a year and they had had to ride to Chalk Farm and disembark there. Not for the first time did Buffy wonder at the strange names the English had. Primrose Hill displayed the most wonderful architecture, houses worth millions, Buffy wagered, and here and there were cafes and pubs ready to serve delicious food, judging by the aroma she inhaled as they walked on by. Angel offered to stop so that Buffy could sample some of the fine cuisine, but Buffy insisted on business first.


The slayer could see quite well, walking beside Angel. The grounds were well lit, with lights dotted here and there, the park designed for night-time visitors as well as the day crowd. Once, when she stopped to look back, the city was ablaze with light and colour. She could make out the London Eye along with other buildings she wasn't quite sure of. She was about to ask Angel, he always knew about these things, when he said, "Here."


Leading Buffy off the dirt trail they had wandered onto and into a small copse of trees, Angel discovered the tell-tale police tape warning people that this was a crime scene.


Buffy sighed, and looked at him. "This is beginning to be a habit."


Lifting the tape for Buffy to duck under, he nodded his reply, his eyes already hard at work scanning the area. Buffy squatted near where the body had laid, Angel on the other side.


"They say the body was drained of blood," she said, thinking to herself, of course it was.


Turning on the flashlight she had carried up with her, she illuminated the ground and the immediate area.


"No pools of blood, no evidence of a murder at all, except for the police tape."


Angel nodded, agreeing with her. There was no visible sign of foul play, not now that the body had been removed.


"There is blood. I can smell it." There was that faint odour of death, too, but he didn't tell her that.


"The report says the man was slashed with a knife. The wound hit his jugular and he bled to death." Buffy looked across at him. "Aren't the police getting tired of victims dying of blood loss and there is no blood soaking the ground?"


"You know how it is, Buffy." The vampire rose to his full height, waiting as Buffy followed suit.


"Yeah, the weird and not so wonderful are attributed to something mundane and ordinary. If you call murder ordinary. How many times was PCP mentioned in Sunnydale?"


Angel threw her a bemused look. "PCP?"


"Snyder thought that vampires' super strength was the result of students taking drugs."


Angel remembered a doctor asking him once if he and Buffy had been taking drugs. His mind sheered away from the memory, but too late, his memory sense flooded with the taste of Buffy's blood. He grunted, and moved away from her to examine the area further.


"Is this just another kill for Angelus," Buffy asked behind him, "or does he have some other reason?"


Angel thought hard about her question. It wasn't an idle one. Buffy knew that Angel had an insight to what made Angelus tick, after all, he had been...was, the demon himself.


"What do we know about the case so far?" he asked, turning away from his survey and back to her.


Buffy folded her arms, the wool of her jacket riding up a little above her thighs.


"The body was drained, that's one."


Angel said, "The young man had a tattoo on his wrist."


"And three," she said. "The victim's belongings were strewn around the body."


"Someone was looking for something."


Buffy's memory pricked at her. "I think Angelus has a tattoo."


"Of course he does."


"No, I mean he had a mark on his wrist. His cuff covered most of it. I couldn't see what it was. It could have been a trick of the light..." Buffy's eyes were huge in the light of her torch. "Why didn't I think of that before?"


"What did Ian's brief notes on the victim say? There was a tattoo on his arm. Did he say what the tattoo looked like?"


"A symbol."


Angel and Buffy looked at each other in dawning comprehension. Buffy rescued her phone from her jacket pocket. "I think Giles had better ask Ian what it was exactly."


She put the pink phone to her ear. Angel said, "Ask him if any of the other victims had tattoos."




Replacing the receiver on its cradle, Giles picked up the medallion Angelus had given Buffy. He was having trouble deciphering the symbols. Alice was having difficulty too, and he had half-hoped that she would have had better luck. The symbols were all jumbled, stamped twice or three times over making it hard to discern one from the other. Putting it back on his desk, he picked up the phone again and dialled Inspector Collins' number.


"Collins here."


Giles cleared his throat. "Hello, Ian. I'm afraid I have another favour to ask of you."


"I'm fine, thank you for asking. Now, what can I do for you?"


Giles was flummoxed for a moment. His mind on the job didn't allow him to think about the niceties of conversation, and here he was asking a favour of the man.


"Erm...sorry, Ian. That was rude of me."


Giles heard the policeman chuckle. "Don't be. Now, what is this favour?"


"We need to find out if any of the other victims had a mark, a tattoo anywhere on their body. And if they did, what was the design. I know that this is out of your jurisdiction, but can you...?"


"I'll see what I can do for you. The more detailed reports will have to come from London. The ones I sent you were rather spare with information, I agree. They were only a note, really, to me which I passed on to you. My contact can dig up more information if I ask."


"Thank you. You have been a big help, as always."


"I take it that this is significant to the case? How are Angel and Buffy doing?"


Giles hadn't disclosed all the facts of the case to Ian Collins. Ian had been told there was a vampire on the loose. A particularly vicious one and the Paranormal team were attempting to track it down. The name Angelus hadn't been raised, and Giles had no intention of doing so. He hoped it was a wise decision. He was worried about his friends' safety and he had told Ian, Lisa, and Nick to stay away from Summerdown and their occupants for the time being. Angelus had a reputation for going after the people closest to Angel, and he had first hand knowledge that this Angelus would be no different.


"They're getting close," was what he said.


Giles put down the telephone after terminating the call and massaged his pounding temples. The glasses came off next, fingers rubbed at dry and tired eyes before picking up the spectacles and giving them a polish with his ever-present handkerchief. He glanced over at the fax machine knowing he was being pre-emptive. Ian Collins had barely had time to hang up.


Ian had telephoned when a second body had turned up, drained, with wounds to the throat. This was the third in a week. Two the previous week. Heaven knew how many victims had been found before this and no connection made. Angelus was inventive to say the least, with his kills.


Cursing under his breath, the words bloody idiot and stupid pillock found their way to sensitive feline ears. Those ears twitched, causing their owners' eyes to slide open to stare at him. They closed again, safe in the knowledge that their present owner was being his usual irascible self.


Tattoos. Of course! Giles' thoughts were whirling inside his head. Angel, and therefore Angelus, had a tattoo, and now it was likely that Angelus had gained a new mark.


Picking up the policeman's report that was scant in detail, he read the words tattoo, lower arm, right wrist, and New Age; Goth. Not as devoid of details as the previous reports, then.


It may be nothing, he surmised, but with Angelus involved, there was no such thing as coincidence. If other victims had a similar mark then it was something else altogether. Aristotle's and Zillah's ears twitched again when words incomprehensible to their feline brains filled the air. They ignored him and went back to sleep.




Buffy kept pace with Angel as he strode across the kept grass of the park. She was quiet. Angel was tracking Angelus and she didn't want to distract him. He, however, was the one who spoke.


"The Martians landed here once."


Buffy's head snapped up to look at him. "What? What are you talking about?"


"Primrose Hill was one of their landing sites."


Had her boyfriend gone mad?


"Uh...if you say so." She wondered if Angelus had laid a spell on him.


"H.G. Wells. War of the Worlds," he said to clarify his statement. 


Oh. War of the Worlds. She had seen that movie. "I thought Tom Cruise's character lived in New Jersey?"


Angel paused to look at her. She stopped too. "Tom Cruise? I'm talking about the book."


"Of course you are," she said with a grin, patting his arm. "Was the movie anything like the book?"


"I don't know. I haven't seen it."


"The Martians did some disgusting things to people."


"Yeah. Blood transfusions."


"Excuse me?"


"It's how they ate."


Buffy made a face. "Is that why you remember the book?" She regretted that the minute she saw his face. She hastily added, "In the movie they netted the people up and after munching on them, they sprayed the land with blood." Good one, Buffy. Not helping!


His gaze pierced hers, and she saw that he had dismissed her earlier comment and was focussing on their present problem. "It's always about blood."


She nodded in understanding. Giving him an encouraging smile, she said, "Come on, we've got work to do."


Their work didn't continue far. Buffy and Angel stood on the footpath. They had tracked Angelus to the road and the trail had run cold.


"He must have caught a taxi, and paid," she offered.


Angel lifted a brow. "Paid?"


"You don't see any dead cab drivers about, do you?"


"He, or she, may not have been found yet," Angel countered.


"And London has a lot of sewers and underground to hide a body," she agreed. "Come on. We can patrol. See what we can scare out of the demon population. Somebody must know something. We just haven't asked the right demons yet."


"I should have used more force last night," Angel said wistfully, thinking of the demons they had interrogated.


"They didn't know anything, Angel. You broke a few bones, and I think you ruptured that Wiiysl's knee."


Angel admitted he had been a little heavy-handed and so had Buffy. "The St'tch demon you beat up will have bruises for months."


"See me not caring," she shot back before grabbing at his hand and pulling him back along the footpath.


"Come on. We passed some pretty good restaurants back there. Food now, and then we can go kick some demon ass!"


Angel smiled at his love. Only she could help make him feel better about this situation.


"Sounds like a plan."





Buffy polished off the last of her beef Bresaola, the green of rocket leaves and buttery parmesan left glistening on her plate. She hadn't finished chewing, when those, too, were between her teeth being mangled with the last of the meat. The last crumb of her bread roll followed.


"Mmm," she murmured appreciatively.


"You like?" her escort asked with an elegant lift of his brow.


"This is delicious. It's a shame you can't enjoy the flavour, Angel. die for." Her eyes twinkled with mischief. "Well, not die...but you get my meaning." She dabbed her lips with the napkin provided.


He nodded that he understood. "Would you like dessert?" he asked her with a smile.


Buffy patted her stomach. Buffy had opted for a light meal, an appetiser, really because she had seen what was on offer for dessert. "The chocolate tart has my name on it, Angel. Do you think I'll be able to slay with that under my belt?"


"I thought chocolate was energy food?"


Eyes twinkling, she quickly agreed. When Angel ordered her dessert, he asked for two cups of coffee as well.


Swallowing her last drop of coffee, Buffy reluctantly got to her feet. The tart had lived up to its name and she hadn't left a scrap on her plate. She had even tempted Angel into having a bite. She could see that he couldn't appreciate the chocolate like she could, and she felt saddened at the thought. Chocolate was one of God's gifts, in her mind. Angel finished off his coffee, and they left The Lansdowne in search of demons to interrogate. The pub was situated in Gloucester Avenue just off Regent's Park Road, and as usual, the street was busy with people going about their business. Most were looking for a meal out, some were meeting a friend for a quiet drink, and the area offered a multitude of establishments for that very purpose. Amongst the throng, Angel placed his arm about Buffy's shoulders and she leaned in, a normal girl out with her regular boyfriend. She smiled up at him and she was pleased to see him smile back. His eyes had been shadowed since Angelus had thrown his spanner in the works. She hoped that that particular demon would soon be behind them.


Angel led her past magnificent Victorian apartments, shops, a church, and down Fitzroy Road. They had just passed a street, Chalcot Road, when Angel paused and pointed out an address on Fitzroy Road. A wrought iron fence paraded along the road and up the short flight of steps that led one to the door. The door was dark, set between white stone, two floors above were of a different tone. A plaque announced that William Butler Yeats had once lived there.


Angel murmured,


"Put off that mask of burning gold with emerald eyes.

O no, my dear, you make so bold to find if hearts be wild and wise, And yet not cold.


I would but find what's there to find, Love or deceit. It was the mask engaged your mind, And after set your heart to beat, Not what's behind.


But lest you are my enemy, I must enquire. O no, my dear, let all that be. What matter, so there is but fire

In you, in me?"


A shiver went through Buffy. The long dead poet had captured the essence of their circumstance, and that creeped her out.


Clutching his hand, Buffy said, "What was that?"


"The Mask. William Butler Yeats won the Nobel Prize for his written works. He also had a fascination with the occult."


"A fellow Irishman, I believe," she said, tugging on his arm, wanting to be away. She added, "He was buried in France, wasn't he?"


Allowing himself to be led, he remarked, "You're not just a pretty face."


Buffy stopped and turned her face so he could see her eyes. "You're not either. And..." she held up a hand when his lips parted to speak, "I love all of you."




"All, Angel. I know you think your human face is just a façade that you show the world, and maybe you're right, but it's not the whole truth. I think beauty comes from within, and game face or not, your soul is beautiful. I can see it shining through your eyes, no matter the colour."


Angel stared at her. "I love you," he whispered when he could speak.


Going tiptoe, she kissed him full on the lips, felt his arms go round her, and she relaxed into his embrace. Angelus was going to pay for the anguish he was causing, she promised herself.




Giles sat huddled over his desk. His back was starting to protest keenly at the long hours of strain. He had been hours reading up on Acathla. Unfortunately, he no longer had access to the Council's vast library but he did have a few volumes that offered up scraps of information. None of it helped him with his attempt at deciphering the medallion though. If the medallion had anything to do with Acathla, he couldn't see it. Giles rose from his chair, threw his glasses on to the pile of books in front of him, and stretched out the kinks in his back.


What did he know so far? Acathla had turned to stone, a sword driven into the demon's heart before the monster could suck the world into Hell with his breath. The sword had belonged to a virtuous knight. Giles' forehead wrinkled as he tried to recall the events surrounding Angelus and Acathla in Sunnydale. Didn't Kendra have a sword? Turning about, Giles began to pace. Angel's blood closed the pathway, didn't Buffy say? He wondered how anything that had transpired could help release a universe that was trapped in Hell.


Giles halted in his tracks. An idea began to germinate. There was something he could do. The jangle of the phone startled him out of his reverie. He snatched it up hoping it was Collins.


It was Kevin Langford. The young man was helping the business set up a website. Kevin had finished his degree in Computer Science and was the perfect choice for the job, and Giles insisted on paying the boy for his trouble. It was time they expanded their horizons and thrust their business into the twenty-first century. At least Buffy had thought so, with Angel agreeing with her. Although they were kept busy enough with clients finding them through conventional advertising, one couldn't dismiss the fact that people were using the internet more and more to search for help. And from what Giles had seen in all his years working for the Council and beyond, demonic activity would never cease. Giles pondered the whys and wherefores of there being only one slayer, well, two, when the world held such a wealth of evil.


Giles answered the young man's queries the best he could, his mind not really focussed there, and said goodnight. He decided to open his safe and check on the contents there. The idea he had earlier was now sprouting growth.


The phone rang again. It was Ian.




Buffy and Angel exited the young man's one bedroom flat with nothing to show for their illicit search. The police had been and gone. The young man had lived alone. His bookshelves had held the usual array of mystery, fantasy, and thriller novels, and there had been a couple of volumes of legend and folklore alluding to demons and the like. Those, Angel had been interested in. They were a disappointment when he skimmed through them. There was nothing to link the boy to Acathla or any Hell dimension. Angel had a hunch that the dead man had kept whatever it was Angelus was looking for somewhere else. He placed the books in Buffy's bag, ignoring her raised eyebrows at his obvious display of theft.


They were half a mile away before Buffy said, "Angelus could have gotten there first."


"I don't think so, Buffy. I couldn't sense that he had been there."


"There was something off with that place," Buffy said.


Angel nodded. "The lack of photographs."


She sighed. "Imagine being that lonely. No family, no friends staring at you from the walls."


Angel felt a pang of guilt. There were no photographs of the two of them. His only photograph of Buffy had gone up in flames along with most of his other possessions back in Los Angeles. He pondered the startling fact that he did leave an image on photo paper. How was that possible? Cameras used...


Buffy interrupted his thoughts. "What are you thinking?"


"We should have photographs."


Buffy laughed, and his heart swelled. "We should. I think Giles has a camera around somewhere."


"Probably a Box Brownie," he teased.


Her forehead crinkled. "Is that an ancient box-like camera that requires taking the cap off for long minutes and has a plate that you slide out?" She laughed again. "I think we should buy a digital camera. I mean, we may need to take pictures, don't you think?"


"What about the camera on our new phones?"


"They don't take very good pictures. Not for portraits, anyway," Buffy was quick to say.


"Of us?"


"It'll mean a trip to the beauty parlour." She fiddled with her hair.


"You don't need that," he assured her.


"Wanna bet? Come on." Buffy's light mood vanished. "I think we're in business."


She had spied the sharp turn of a head, and her slayer instincts had screamed the head hadn't been quite human, before the body that carried it scurried away. They hurried after, and followed it down an alley and into a deserted lane. They were near the rail yards. Their prey had disappeared. Buffy's nose crinkled in disgust.


"Does every demon low-life inhabit deserted factories and warehouses? What's up with that?"


Angel looked about. "It's not so bad. Plenty of room to breathe..."


"If they breathe."


"Room for improvement..."


"A Picasso, perhaps, on the wall?"


"Space for holding a party..."


"Chains and whips, then?"


"If you say so, Buffy."


Angel moved away from her not realising she stood there with her mouth open. She snapped it shut and tripped after him. Nudging his elbow, she held out her hand. Angel had been carrying her weapons bag. He rescued her sword, handed it over, and slipped the bag up high on a ledge. Giving him a calculating look, she led the way into the warehouse. Angel slipped to one side, his sword now in his hand, and disappeared into the gloom. The search of the building yielded nothing. They continued on down the lane looking for the demon that had eluded them. The last building at the end, and down in a dank, cold, basement - pipes running along the sides and disappearing through a cavernous hole in the wall - they found their quarry. Several species of demon looked up, startled, when Buffy and Angel descended the stairs.


"You brought him here?" a demon cried, spit flying from a mouth full of jagged teeth.


"I didn't, I swear!" squeaked the one they had been tracking. To Angel, he looked like a rodent, his nose was too pointed to be human, and the whiskers around the mouth were a dead give-away.


Buffy glanced quickly at her boyfriend. "It seems you have a fan club."


Two figures stood with axes held in ash-coloured hands, ready to defend themselves. Brown woollen robes covered most of their bodies, and cowls obscured faces. Buffy thought of monks, and the experiences she had had with monks never ended well.


The fifth figure was imposing. The creature must have stood seven feet. It towered over Angel. Its hands were empty, but the fists were huge and could deliver a devastating blow.


"Maybe not," Angel said.


"I thought you had found what you are looking for, vampire." The voice was a deep bass, coming from within an enormous chest. It reverberated through the air, settling in eardrums, sending them humming.


"What have we been looking for?" Buffy asked, gripping her sword a little tighter.


Pale eyes stared down at her. She was aware that everyone had her in their sights.


"Who is this?" one of the robed figures hissed.


Buffy struck a pose. "Buffy, the vampire slayer. And you are?"


"A vampire slayer? Why would a slayer help a vampire?" monk boy hissed back.


"More to the point, what does Angelus want with a slayer?" the big demon asked.


"What do you know?" Angel asked it.


"Are you going to kill us all? I don't think so," the demon said.


"Want to bet?" Buffy raised her sword.


Angel moved a little, and, as he hoped, demon eyes followed. "You said Angelus had what he was searching for? He was killing humans. Why should you care?"


Huge fists relaxed slightly. The large demon craned his neck to scrutinize Angel.


"You are he, are you not?"


Angel did not reply. Buffy jumped in, however.


"Of course not."


Rat Face's voice was high and thin in the gloom. "We heard demons were being tortured for information by a vampire that looks like you."


Buffy snorted. "A lot of men look like him." She glanced over at Angel. Sure they do!


The demon in charge, and it looked like it was the big guy, pondered out loud. "The vampire looking for answers was accompanied by a woman." His eyes shifted to Buffy, "a blonde." His eyes slid back to the vampire. "It was you who were seeking answers about Angelus. You could be his twin."


Angel stared at the large face. "Have you seen him?"


"I have. From a distance only. The resemblance is remarkable."


"What did he find?"


"Something small. Something the humans had. Humans, they dabble in things they do not understand. No wonder they die."


"Only humans?" Buffy asked keeping her gaze on the demon monks. She didn't trust them.


"There were demons that played a part, I agree. They are dead now. No great loss."


The police files hadn't mentioned demons, but then, why would they?


"Why are you here?" Angel asked, wary of the demon sidling round to the right of him. Its jagged teeth and boil-like pustules were a thing of beauty. For another of its kind, Angel was sure.


"None of your business, vampire. A simple transaction. Nothing more."






"Do we kill them?"


"What do you think?" he asked the demons surrounding them. "Do I let her kill you?"


"We offer no harm," rumbled the deep bass voice.


"To humans?"


Angel's smile was thin. "She has a thing about humans. You understand."


"Gilbert, I say we kill them," hissed the demon Angel was keeping his eye on.


Buffy's eyebrows rose. "Gilbert?"


The big demon frowned at her. "What's so funny?"


Buffy fought her laughter, and lost. "It's...look at you. I mean, Gilbert? Your mother must have a great sense of humour."


Apparently, Gilbert didn't.






"Did you have to say that, Buffy?" Angel said, trying to straighten his coat, which was torn in several places. His face was bruised, wet with blood, and he knew that he had bits of demon brain in his hair. His left arm didn't work properly, and he was trying not to limp.


"How was I to know he didn't have a sense of humour," she muttered, wincing a little because her neck hurt when she moved her head. Her jacket was a mess, and there was a slash in her jeans. Her knee wobbled a bit when she put her weight on it, a kick in the kneecap generally made that happen, but basically she was okay. Buffy knew her hair was a total mess, and she wasn't about to check. Demon gore wasn't meant to be used as hair gel. And she smelled.


"We still don't know what it was that Angelus found."


"We were going to kill them anyway," she insisted.


"When we had our answers."


Buffy was tired, hurting, and wasn't in the mood. "Fine! Next time I won't say a word."




She held up her hand and, hobbling over to a discarded crate, sat down, pulling her phone from her pocket. It was set to vibrate when they were hunting.


Angel limped over and slid down the wall to sit on the pavement beside her. He leaned back and closed his eyes.


"Giles? What is it?"


"Are you all right? You sound..."


"We're fine. Sorry." Buffy was looking down at Angel when she said that. He wasn't looking at her though. She put a bloody hand on his shoulder and squeezed. His hand came up and covered hers in reply. "It's been a tough night," she finished.


"Ian faxed me a drawing of the tattoo on the young man's arm. It's the symbol for anarchy."


Angel said without opening his eyes, "An A inside the letter O."


"A inside the letter O?" Buffy repeated.


She heard the surprise in Giles' voice. "You know it?"


Buffy grinned.


Catching on, Angel said, "O stands for Order."


Buffy repeated Angel's words.


"Damn Angel and his acute hearing."


"He heard that," Buffy chuckled.


"Anarchy is Order," the vampire said.


Buffy said, "Anarchy is Order? That doesn't sound right."


"It fits when you think about it."


"It does?" she asked. ‘What part?"


"Whoever these people are, they want anarchy to rule. Whatever it is that Angelus is looking for must be connected."


"Are they evil? Because if they are, can I let Angelus have at them?"


"I don't know, Buffy. We don't go round killing humans, even if they are evil, and we can't let Angelus kill them either."


"I think the killing will stop, at least, for tattoo guys. Angelus has found what he is looking for."


"He has? Do you know what it is?"


Buffy did not want to go into the why of their not knowing. She ignored Angel's pointed sigh. "Big ugly demon didn't go into that, but it appears as if our boy will lay low again." She hoped.






The pale arm twisted this way and that. Elegant fingers curled, and muscles well-defined, flexed. The arm moved again, and was lax. Dark eyes stared at the symbol marring marble-like skin. He lifted the glass again, the symbol disappearing for a moment from his sight as he poured the whiskey into his mouth. Angelus put the glass down and the tattoo was back in view.


The mark of Acathla. It was the symbol the demon had chosen as his. Anarchy is Order. He had to admit, life in his world was certainly that. Chaos ruled. Acathla reigned. Angelus didn't. But with the artefact he had stolen from Acathla's acolytes, he would. There was just one more thing he needed.






Special thanks as always to Jo for her expert eye for detail and beta skills. Hugs.


For a view of London from Primrose Hill go here.


The book War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.


More about William Butler Yeats. He lived for a time at 23 Fitzroy Road.

The poem quoted was The Mask.


Beef Bresaola. There is a pub called the Lansdowne in Primrose Hill and they do serve this dish.


Anarchy, the symbol and meaning.



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