Part II, Ireland

Author’s Notes: Sequel to Buffy’s LA Adventure.

Thanks for all the great feedback and interest in continuing the story. I had wanted to have Buffy be a stronger more independent person – so the feedback re: her having to be ‘saved’ (and therefore not really fitting) in the first story was just what I needed. Thanks for keeping me in line!

Reminder: I took some liberties with the timeline. Buffy’s 24 or so in this story. There is no Dawn.

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox, et.al.

Pairing: B/A

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally posted: Mar 11, 2002

Buffy had been in Dublin for three very busy and hectic weeks. The University had a mix-up on her arrival date, but fortunately a room was available at Blackrock, the dorm where most the exchange students stayed. She’d be sharing a kitchen and living area with 3 others, but would have a single bedroom to herself. The following days had been a blur; meetings with faculty and counselors to get her courses scheduled, getting to know her roommates – Abby, Ingeborg and Carmen – and finally the onset of classes. And then there was Morgan Mullah.

Morgan was an old friend of Giles’s and had been somewhat of a mentor to a young Ripper. A friendly little man with white hair, now frail in body but with a mind still as sharp as ever. Giles had insisted that Buffy contact Morgan, wanting her to have an ally in Dublin so that she wouldn’t feel completely alone – and Morgan was a great researcher and translator, with ties to the Watchers Council that might be of some help to her if needed. Buffy had made the trip to his little cottage on the edge of Dublin a few days after her arrival and liked the little man immediately. Visitors were rare to the little cottage, so Morgan was appreciative for the company. He was alone in Dublin and his health didn’t allow him to get out much, so Buffy had been back to visit several times, each time helping to clean the cottage and organize the stacks and stacks of books and papers while listening as he told her stories of a young Giles, clearly proud of the man he considered somewhat of a protégé.

On her way back to her flat after her latest visit with Morgan, Buffy stopped at a phone booth outside a small pub in Dublin and dialed Angel’s number. She wanted complete privacy for this call – her roommates were nice but she wasn’t comfortable enough yet to reveal too many details of her private life. And explaining Angel and their ‘not-exactly-a-relationship’ relationship was just a little too complicated.

As the phone rang several times, Buffy checked the time – it would be almost 1 am in LA. No worries there, Angel should be up. Of course, he could be out working on a case.

“Hello.” When she heard the deep voice she almost jumped. It seemed like it been so long since she talked to him. During her wait at the airport in LA on her way to Ireland she had dialed Angel’s number several times, but was never brave enough to complete the call, so she hadn’t talked to him since he had left her in Sunnydale. She knew he was waiting for her to make the next move, which meant that any relationship of theirs would progress on her timetable for once – a thought that made her happy.

“Angel?” Buffy smiled slightly, a little nervous but glad to hear his voice.

“Buffy? I’m glad you called. I’ve been worried.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t called earlier. It’s just been so busy getting settled in here. My course schedule’s pretty intense too.”

“How are you?” Angel was relieved to hear from her. He wanted to give her the space she needed but was worried what that could mean.

They chatted for a while, Buffy telling him about school, her flat mates and what she had seen of Dublin so far. Angel mentioned the things about Dublin that he remembered and they compared the old to the new. Buffy told him about Morgan, the former watcher, and her visits with him. She asked about Connor and his current cases, and they spent awhile taking about the toddler’s latest activities and interests. It was the beginning of getting to know each other again after a 4-year separation.

“I’m sure this call is costing Giles a fortune, so I’d better go.” Buffy was reluctant to hang up, but knew she should. And she doubted the Giles intended for her to make long transatlantic calls to Angel with his phone card when he had given it to her. But it was nice to hear a warm, friendly and familiar voice after so many new faces and places. And this was Angel – which always meant so much more to her. He had been her strength when she was young and needed reassurance, and it was comforting to be able to talk with him again much as she had then. It was so easy to confide in him, to let him back into her life.

Angel too didn’t want to end the call, but knew that they should since they had been talking for over an hour. “Be careful. And Buffy, I miss you. Call or write when you can, ok?”

She gave him her mailing address and e-mail, then told him to give Connor a kiss for her. “You too. Be careful that is. It was really nice talking to you.”

Angel was just about to hang up the phone when he heard “Angel? I miss you too.” Then the dial tone as Buffy hung up the phone.

 * * * * *

It had been just over a week since Buffy had called Angel and already she wanted to talk to him again. She was having a particularly bad day. She’d gotten only mediocre marks on her first exams and had a run in with her flat mate Carmen. Carmen was complaining about Buffy’s odd hours, and had made some nasty insinuations about what she thought Buffy was doing on her nights out.

Abby handed Buffy a letter as she walked through the door, teasing her about the return address “Angel Investigations, huh? Are you in some kind of trouble?” Abby was an unflappable New Yorker, studying in Ireland to get away from her rich but difficult family and to spend time with the handsome Irish boy she had met when he was vacationing in New York. Which also meant that Abby spent most nights at his flat, rather than her own so Buffy saw her only occasionally. Buffy practically grabbed the letter out of her hand, recognizing the handwriting instantly.

“Oooh, from that expression I’d have to guess boyfriend? And I’ll even go out on a limb and say a really hottie. Great in the sack?” Abby laughed at Buffy’s huge grin.

“I’m not sure – probably, and yes, and oh, yes definitely.” Buffy’s expression was unchanged, although her cheeks were slightly pink as she took her letter and headed to her room.

Along with the letter, Angel included two pre-paid phone cards, a picture of Connor and a sketch of Buffy holding Connor that he had drawn. Buffy smiled as she studied the drawing – did she really look like that with the little toddler? For a brief moment, Buffy longed for a child of her own. What would their baby – her’s and Angel’s – look like? It was unlikely that another miracle would occur and hat would ever happen. On that thought, Buffy’s chest constricted with feelings of pain and loss. Knowing that it wouldn’t do any good to dwell on the impossible, she quickly pushed the thought away and picked up the letter.

The letter was fairly brief – Angel asked about her, her classes and her roommates. He mentioned a few of the cases the AI team was working on, including one particularly difficult one involving a child, and asked for her thoughts. And of course, he provided some detail about Connor’s latest exploits. He closed the letter by saying he missed her and thought of her often, particularly the night they made love. He wished it had been somewhere besides the cramped car but he wasn’t complaining – he just would have preferred something more romantic for her. He signed the letter “Always, A.” as he usually did.

Buffy re-read the letter twice before pulling out her iBook. She’d write Angel back in e-mail.

 * * * * *

Buffy had been in Ireland almost three months. She and Angel had established a routine of writing e-mails to each other once a week and talking on the phone every other week. They were getting to know each other again, sharing their daily lives and only lately had the conversation begun to drift to anything even remotely romantic. Buffy was in fact, currently daydreaming about Angel’s latest e-mail while she made the walk to Morgan’s cottage. He mentioned that he was making another sketch of her – one in which she was nude and said that he’d have to compare his sketch from memory to the real thing when she returned. The thought of posing nude for Angel, made Buffy feel warm and tingly.

Buffy heard a crash drawing her out of her reverie as she walked up the path to Morgan’s cottage just seconds before the figure sprinted by her. Her vampire senses kicked into overdrive, as she realized that the fleeing person was definitely one of the undead variety. She hesitated only a moment, indecisive, before she raced into the house to see if Morgan was all right. She found him on the floor next to his desk, alive and definitely cursing. “Morgan?! What happened? Are you okay?” Buffy helped him to sit in the chair next to the desk. “Damn vampires! Those cursed creatures seem to exist just to plague me.” Morgan rubbed at his head, a lump forming where the vampire had hit him. “Thieves, the lot of ’em.” “What? What did they take?” Buffy glanced out the window but knew that the vampire was long gone. “Another journal. One of the ones that you brought from Rupert.”

“Another? You mean they’ve taken stuff before?” Buffy was now really worried, her past experiences with vampires and stolen books meaning bad things on the horizon.

“Oh yea. Started about two years or so ago – they broke in and stole a few books. A couple of watchers journals, a harmless spell book or two, and a recipe for stew.” Morgan chuckled, then groaned at the pain shooting through his head. “Always wondered what they thought o’ that one.” Closing his eyes, the blow on the head making him slightly dizzy, Morgan continued, “They’ve been back a time or two – they seem mostly interested in the journals. That and maybe the vampire chronicles that I’ve been preparing for archive in the Watchers library.”

“Chronicles? Wasn’t that an Anne Rice thing already?”

“My chronicles are a historical chart o’ sorts that I’ve been preparing using data collected from the journals. It’s of the few known vampires that were considered the baddest of the lot, the masters. One theory says that if these master vampires are destroyed, the entire race of them will soon follow. Without leaders, the lesser vampires will have no one to teach them all the tricks they need to survive and grow into their full abilities and powers. They will be easy for a slayer – or even a mortal – to destroy. That or they’ll destroy themselves, fighting amongst their own for power.”

“Did they get this chronicle thingy?” Buffy picked up the books and papers that had been scattered when the thief searched through Morgan’s things and began straightening the desk.

“No. That document I’ve hidden away in the chest o’er there. Had to recreate it once when they stole an earlier version. I’ll no’ make that mistake again.”

“So who are these vampire thieves? Do you have any ideas?” Buffy’s voice could be now be heard from the small kitchen.

“Local hooligans are my guess.” Morgan glanced at the various volumes on his shelves. “They are na’ interested in the few books that I have that would truly be dangerous in the wrong hands. So, amateurs.”

“Then who are these master vampires in your chronicle? Would it be one of them?”

“Well, I believe that there are only 5 known vampires now that are strong enough to become masters. There’s Dracula of course, his reputation is widely known. Then there’s Donovan, rumored to be somewhere in Australia. Gabriel, last seen in Europe around the turn of the century but not since. He’s likely to be ash somewhere. Sebastian is probably in the US, and then of course,” Morgan paused, knowing some of Buffy’s history, wondering if there was any need to soften his next words “there’s Angelus.”

“Do you believe this? About killing off these masters?” Buffy returned from the kitchen and handed Morgan a cool damp cloth for his head. Her senses were on full alert now with the mention of Angel.

“Not really, lass, no.” Morgan studied Buffy’s worried expression. “The Council isna plannin’ to do anything with the information. They know about your Angel’s soul, his fight for good, for redemption. It wouldna’ be in their best interests to change things.”

Buffy tried to smile at Morgan, but needed to know more about this. She didn’t trust the council – especially when it came to Angel. “As for why other vampires might be interested? I have na’ a guess.”

 * * * * *

Morgan had been reading quietly at his desk when he heard the tapping on the door.

“Come in.” Morgan turned to the door, his health making it difficult for him to rise easily.

“Morgan Mullah.” Charles Barrington stepped into the tiny cottage, his height and bulk making the small place seem even smaller.

“Charles. What brings you to Ireland?” Morgan distrusted the young man, a relatively new member to the Watchers Council. Charles was brash and impulsive; two characteristics that Morgan felt did not make for a good watcher. But, he was the youngest son of a family that had long been watchers, a fact that guaranteed him a position.

“The Chronicles old man. I want them.” Charles never felt the need to be friendly, preferring to get straight to business. Rumors had been circulating about these chronicles that Morgan had supposedly been preparing for years. No one had seen them yet, but the rumor was that destroying the vampires on the list would rid the world of their heathen kind forever. Charles, a firm believer in vigilante justice, was arguing for the establishment of a team that would do just that. Especially since the current slayers could not be trusted to do so.

“They arena’ done. And besides, I wouldna’ turn them over to you anyhow. Please close the door on your way out.” Morgan turned back to his reading, dismissing the younger man.

“You will give them to me. Now or later, makes no matter. I’ll come back later to see if you’ve changed your mind.” Charles stormed out of the cottage, needing to make some plans if the old man insisted on being obstinate.

 * * * * *

Buffy started patrolling regularly after the vampire theft from Morgan’s house, hoping to find a clue as to the identity of the thief. All she had found so far were rumors about something very bad in Galway. But the thing that disturbed her most was the name she had heard of that very bad something: Angelus.

 * * * * *

Buffy was working on her laptop in the library a few days later when suddenly her IM window popped up, asking her to accept a message from “Angel250”. Angel? Her Angel? Using Instant Messenger?

Angel250: Buffy?

Bsummers: Angel! You have IM?

Angel250: Yes. Cordy set it up.

Buffy smiled. Well, that would explain the 250. Probably Cordy’s sense of humor using his almost age.

Bsummers: Yea!

Angel250: How’s Ireland? School?

Bsummers: Ok. Busy. I’m worried about Morgan.

Angel250: Giles friend?

Bsummers: Yes. He’s missing.

Angel250: Clues?

Bsummers: Not really – missing books. Stuff turned over. Rumors.

Morgan’s disappearance two days ago really bothered Buffy, especially after the earlier vampire book theft. The chronicles were missing, his chair was turned over and his favorite jacket was still hanging on the peg by the wall. She really liked Morgan and hoped sincerely that nothing bad had happened, although she suspected the worse. She had stepped up her patrol both nights since he disappeared, but had yet to find anything.

Angel250: What books?

Bsummers: Watchers journals.

Angel250: Specific ones?

Bsummers: Don’t know for sure.

Angel scanned her message again.

Angel250: Rumors?

Buffy hesitated, unsure of how much to share with Angel regarding the rumors of “Angelus”.

Bsummers: Few vamps I staked mentioned a big bad in Galway.

Angel250: Vampire?

Buffy took a deep breath. Well, here goes.

Bsummers: Think so. Name of Angelus.

Angel250: WHAT?

Buffy smiled at the capitalization. Angel really did get this whole electronic communication thing.

Bsummers: That’s the rumor.

Angel250: You know it’s not me. Right?

Bsummers: Yes, unless you’re IM’ing me from somewhere close by.

Buffy couldn’t help but shiver as she thought back to the days when Angel was Angelus, and some of the devious tricks he had played on her. Suddenly, she wondered if she should trust him.

Angel250: Can I help?

Bsummers: Don’t know how.

Angel250: Let me know, okay?

Bsummers: Ok. Gotta go. Paper due.

Angel250: Talk soon?

Bsummers: Yes.

Buffy packed up her things and headed out, her feelings confused and uncertain. Was Angel here? Could he have lost his soul again? No, he said that wasn’t possible anymore. Then why the name Angelus?

Preoccupied, Buffy crashed into the tall figure standing at the library door, knocking the books out of his hand.

“Oh. I’m so sorry.” Buffy stepped back and looked down at the man’s face as he knelt to pick up his books.

“It’s not a problem. I’d been trying to work up the courage to come say hello anyway. You just saved me the trip. I’m Patrick. And you are.?” Patrick stood and offered his hand.

Buffy stared at him stupidly before catching herself and holding out her hand. “Buffy. Buffy Summers.” Patrick was tall with dark, unruly hair and dark brown eyes. In any other life, Buffy would have sworn that he was Angel’s brother or at least a cousin. “I’m sorry. You just look so like someone that I know.”

Patrick smiled. “In a good way, I hope. Say, can I buy you a cup of coffee or a pint? Or at least walk you somewhere?”

Buffy returned the smile, “Thanks, but no. It was nice to meet you.”

Patrick stared at her retreating back. Buffy Summers. She was beautiful, all sunny and golden. Watching her behind, he added firm and well built to the list of adjectives. He hadn’t been so affected by a girl since high school. She had said no, but he was willing to try again. He whistled a little tune as he left the library – he was known to be persistent.

 * * * * *

Angel paced around the offices in LA. He didn’t understand why some other vampire would be using the name Angelus. Unless it was just a freaky coincidence that they shared the same name? No, Galway – hell, Ireland – was a small place. Angelus – he – was well known there. This had to be something else. But what could he do from here to help?

 * * * * *

Buffy decided to stay in Ireland over the Christmas break and continue her search for Morgan. It’d had been almost three weeks since he had disappeared and she was still without any additional clues. And recently, she had begun to feel like some one or some thing was watching her. She was a little bit on edge and wishing she had one of the Scoobs with her on patrol. Giles knew she wasn’t coming home as planned, but she had yet to tell Angel. Not that she and Angel had discussed plans of any sort, but she wasn’t sure what he was thinking. Now there’s a new thought, Buffy. You don’t know what Angel’s thinking. Guess that means that she and Angel are right back on track with their relationship. She laughed softly at the thought before turning the corner in the quiet cemetery.

Buffy looked around, hoping she’d get lucky tonight and find a vamp with information. Her vampire senses kicking in, she crept slowly around the headstones before leaping out and punching the figure standing nearby. Two quick kicks and another punch, and she had the vampire on the ground and held the stake to his heart. “What do you know?”

“Hello, pet. Is this anyway to greet an old chum?” Spike smiled from his position beneath her, before squirming slightly and leering at her. “Or actually, maybe it is.”

Buffy pushed off him, snorting with disgust. “You could say hello or something, not just stalk me in the dark.”

Dusting off his jacket as he stood. “Pet, I know better than to sneak up on a slayer. I was following the bloke that had been following you.”

“What? Huh?” Buffy looked around, not seeing anyone.

“He’s gone now.” Spike glanced over to where he had last seen the man.

Buffy hugged Spike quickly, glad to see a familiar – and helpful – face. Just what she had been wishing for earlier. “What are you doing here?”

“I couldn’t let you spend the holiday here alone. Besides, I said I would come. Show you Prague and all that. From the looks of you though, I’d say you might need some help.”

Buffy looped her arm through Spikes and steered them toward the cemetery exit. “Ever been to Galway?”

* * * * *

Buffy checked the time again before dialing Angel’s number. It was almost dawn in LA, their usual call time. She had completed her finals earlier in the day, and was now officially on holiday break. Spike was meeting up with her later, and the two of them were heading to Galway to check things out.

“Buffy?” Angel knew it was Buffy on the phone the minute it started to ring. Besides, who else called him just before dawn?

“Angel. How’s LA?” Buffy was a little nervous, she was going to tell him about not coming home for break and she was going to tell him about Spike. Specifically, about her previous relationship with Spike.

“Fine. Busy. How’s Ireland?” Angel glanced at the calendar, then at the small stack of Christmas gifts that he had bought for her.

“Ok. I’ve got a lead on the Angelus thingy – god that sounds weird saying that to you. Spike and I are leaving tonight for Galway.” Buffy took a deep breath waiting for Angel’s reaction.

“Spike? Spike’s there? With you?” Angel knew about the chip in Spike’s head, but still didn’t trust his child. Especially with Buffy.

“Yes. Listen, Angel. I need to tell you something.”

At her words, Angel stopped all movement and closed his eyes. If she told him now that it was over between them, he deserved it, he knew. He should never have left her in the first place. He should have called her when he found out about Connor, when he got his soul back, or a hundred other times in the last four years. He waited.

“Angel. A few years ago I was pretty messed up. You had turned on me after the whole Faith thing. Riley left me. Willow had Tara, Xander had Anya. I felt so alone. So different from everyone else. I closed off – emotionally – from my friends.” Buffy stopped and waited. When Angel didn’t say anything, she continued. “I-I got involved with Spike. Sexually involved.”

“What?” Angel’s eyes flew open at her words. He didn’t believe that Buffy, his Buffy would get mixed up with Spike. Spike, of all – things. Angel couldn’t even call him a person.

“It wasn’t about love. It wasn’t even a relationship really. I needed someone to want me. I needed someone to make me feel something, anything. It didn’t even have to be love. Angel, I was so scared that I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I was so afraid to be hurt again, to be left behind again. And it was easy to be involved with Spike. He was there. He wanted me. He made me feel – I’m not sure what exactly – probably mostly bad stuff. But, I felt *something*.” A tear slid down Buffy’s cheek as she remembered that time, how difficult things had seemed then, how distant she had felt from her friends.

“Buffy. Sweetheart.” Angel knew all about the feelings that Buffy was describing, about being alone and just wanting to feel something. Connor was proof of that. “I understand. Completely. I’m sorry that you went through that. I wish I would have been there for you.”

Buffy took a deep breath. “Spike and I both realized that it wasn’t love not long after it started. And we stopped, uh.having sex, but we talked a lot. He patrolled with me and we hung out. He understood my world – my not normal life – like so many people don’t. It was a lot like being with you, you know, when we first met. But without maybe the sexual tension part.” Buffy chuckled, hoping to break the tension.

Angel sorted through his thoughts. He was angry and disappointed that Buffy had turned to Spike. But could he blame her? No. He still didn’t trust Spike, but he had to trust Buffy. If nothing else, Buffy had always been direct and honest with him.

When several minutes had passed and Angel hadn’t said anything, Buffy ventured “Angel. Are you mad?”

“No. Buffy, no.” Angel hadn’t realized that he had been thinking for so long until her heard Buffy’s voice. “How could I be?”

“I dunno. If we’re going to try this – us – again – and I hope we are – I think we need to be honest with each other. I mean, Spike’s here now, but only as a friend.”

“Buffy. I trust you. I don’t trust Spike, and if he hurts you – in any way – I will find him and deal with him. Make sure he knows that.” Angel had learned how to deal with pain and disappointment – had in fact become a master in the last 80 years or so. He’d sort out his feelings about Buffy and Spike later, alone. He was very relieved that Buffy still wanted to try to make things work between them, which brought his thoughts back to the upcoming holiday. “When are you coming home?”

“That’s the other thing I needed to tell you. I’m not.” Buffy cringed, her words coming out much more harshly than she intended. “Not for Christmas anyway. I’ve got to use this time off to find Morgan. The longer I wait, the less chance there is that he is still alive.”

Angel was disappointed, but he understood. He knew that she had other obligations and rarely, if ever, did she shirk her responsibilities. “I had hoped to see you, but I understand.”

Buffy breathed a sigh of relief, now that the difficult parts of the conversation were over. Angel hadn’t freaked out on her. Had in fact, seemed to understand. “Really? I can’t wait to see you. I have something for you – a Christmas gift.”

“I guess I should get something for your too then.” Angel teased, looking again at the stack of presents on the dresser. Perhaps he had gone a little overboard.

“Hmm, well I can think of one thing that you can just wrap up and give me. Or maybe you can *unwrap* it and give it to me.” Buffy’s voice had dropped to a deep purr.

They teased each other with suggestive comments for a while longer, then they covered the usual topics of work, school and Connor before finally hanging up with the promise to call or write soon.

* * * * *

It had only taken two days in Galway before Buffy and Spike tracked down the vampire lair. Buffy peeked into the small window of the crypt, trying to determine how many vampires were inside. She’d already dusted two of the sentries that had been standing by the cemetery gates. Moving quickly, she staked the one vampire that stood by the door then moved back by the window. She only saw three left – none of which looked very big or intimidating. Opening the door, Buffy nodded to Spike then stepped inside.

“Slayer.” The tallest of the three stepped forward. “Rumor had it that you were in Ireland.”

“You got it. And you would be-?” Buffy stood ready for action, a stake in her hand, another tucked in the waistband of her pants, and a bag with additional stakes and a few other choice weapons hidden in the shrubs just outside.

“The name’s Angelus.”

Even though she half expected it, the name still took Buffy by surprise. She scanned the skinny vampire again, taking in the dark, longish hair and ponytail, the black leather pants and crimson velvet shirt. He certainly dressed like Angelus. Only this Angelus – if that was his name – was definitely not the attractive, sexy Angelus she knew. This one was tall, very thin with small beady eyes and a weak chin. His pale cheeks were pitted with scars. What little of his fangs showed between his thin lips when he talked appeared to be yellowed and far from straight.

“Angelus, huh? Would that be the Scourge of Europe?” Buffy’s was amused and curious, trying not to smile.

“So you *have* heard of me.” The vampire looked smugly at his two companions.

“Well, let me think. Last time I saw you, your hair was shorter. Sorta spiky. It’s a much better look for you, more current. This style – well it’s so 1800’s. Oh, and besides which, I’d have to say you looked – how should I put this – *completely*, *totally* different.”

The vampire calling himself Angelus quickly covered his surprise. He hadn’t gotten this far in his charade without a fair amount of confidence and the ability to bluff. “Amusing slayer, but a lie.”

“Ok. First off, name’s Buffy. Second. No lie. You are not Angelus. I know Angelus – let’s just say, um, how should I put this? Quite personally.” Buffy was now smiling broadly. Was this vampire really an Angelus wanna-be? As if! Wait until Angel hears about this.

“She’s got you there, mate.” Spike stepped out of the shadow of the doorway and crushed his cigarette out under his toe. Glancing around at the three remaining vampires, Spike was in no way intimidated.

“I AM Angelus. So, we’ve met before. Clearly it wasn’t memorable.” The vampire was smug. He had several of the watcher’s journals on Angelus and had studied them. Assuming that Angelus had been killed or at the very least, was long gone, he had taken on Angelus’s identity. Angelus’s reputation along had scared off demons and vampires alike, and so the imposter had been able to run his section of Ireland unchallenged. The vampire then looked to his minions who were watching the exchange with the slayer nervously, before returning his gaze to Spike who had strolled casually into the crypt and was flipping through the boxes stacked to the side. “Who are you?”

“I’m hurt that you don’t remember your own child, *Angelus*.” Spike glanced over his shoulder before lifting a book out of the box and flipping through the pages.

“I knew it was only a matter of time before you would go running to your lover. I was smart to follow you.” The stranger’s voice echoed throughout the crypt as he stepped into the doorway that Spike had just vacated. He held a lethal looking crossbow in his hand that was pointed straight at the Angelus imposter.

“What?” Buffy turned slightly, keeping her guard up and not wanting either vampire or unknown person behind her back. “Who are you?”

“Charles Barrington, Watcher, at your service. Of course, if you weren’t such a bad example of a slayer, one that consorts with vampires, you would know that. I repeatedly warned the council that they should have you exterminated. You and that awful girl, Faith. But, now I can take care of you myself. And of course, I get the bonus prize – your vampire lover.”

Buffy realized that this Charles person thought that this Angelus was the real Angelus. Well, that’s fine with her if he wants to take him out, but she wasn’t planning on going along.

Suddenly, the vampire calling himself Angelus thrust one of his minions in front of him. Charles, startled at the movement, released the catch of the crossbow catching the minion right in the chest. Spike jumped in, grabbing Charles around the chest and wrestling him to the ground. Buffy exchanged blows with the vampires, but both the Angelus imposter and his cohorts managed to escape through a tiny window at the back of the crypt. Buffy then helped Spike subdue the burly watcher.

“Figures that you would let your lover go. Bet you can’t wait to spread your legs for that monstrosity again.” Charles, now tied, spewed his venomous thoughts.

Buffy ignored him while she searched through Charles pockets and found several papers that were in Morgan’s handwriting, including the chronicles that he had put together so far. “How did you get these?”

“They were given to me, you dumb bitch.”

Buffy rolled her eyes, in no way intimidated by the brawny man. “These were Morgan’s papers. He would not have given them to you.”

“Yeah? Well, the old man finally saw things my way.” Charles attempted to spit on Buffy, but she moved out of the way before slugging him in the head.

“I’m not above torture. And if you know anything about my *lover*, you’ll know that I learned from the best.” Buffy punched him hard in the face again, breaking his nose.

“The old man’s dead, ya dumb bint. He was worthless anyway. I dumped his body in the Corrib.”

Spike, tired of listening to the arrogant watcher, cuffed him on the head with a wooden beam that had been lying on the floor, knocking him unconscious. “Well, now what?”

“This is worse that we thought. We need to call Giles. He needs to find out what’s going on with the Watchers council.” Buffy’s eyes were shiny with tears. She had really hoped to find Morgan alive. “Do you think he’s telling the truth about Morgan? That he killed him?”

“A bloke like that?” Spike nodded toward the unconscious man. “He’d probably kill a man for less. Sorry, pet.”

Buffy looked away, knowing that Spike was probably right.

“What about these?” Spike pointed to the boxes of books, some of which were clearly the stolen watchers journals.

“We’ll return them to Morgan’s when we go back to Dublin. For now, they’re safe here.” Buffy carefully gathered up all of the papers that were part of Morgan’s chronicle, then she and Spike headed out.

 * * * * *

Giles called his contacts at the Watchers Council immediately after Buffy had called. They were going to send a team to collect Charles Barrington and deal with him themselves. Morgan Mullah had been liked and respected, whereas Charles had been tolerated due to his family connections. His punishment would be swift and severe.

Giles also found out that the Council knew the theory about destroying the master vampires, and they knew that Morgan was compiling a chronicle on master vampires. But they had not seen any of it, and had no idea about the contents. They were however, anxious to get their hands on it. Did Buffy find it?

Buffy told Giles that she had it, but begged him to tell the Council that she hadn’t found it yet. She wanted to know what they planned to do with it before turning it over.

 * * * * *

Angelus, or Sean as he used to be known, could not get the blond slayer out of his mind. Was she really Angelus’s lover? Angelus had a mortal *slayer* lover? It’s true that Angelus had been know to fear nothing and would willingly dance with the devil – what then could be more dangerous for a vampire than sex with a slayer? Well, maybe sex in sunlight, but that was beside the point.

The more he thought about her, the more he wanted her for himself. It would secure his position as Angelus. And, if the real Angelus *was* alive somewhere, he could use her to find and destroy him. After all, Sean was enjoying his reign as Angelus – he didn’t want anything to screw it up.

Sean had read the journal that mentioned that Angelus had his soul (not to mention, that he went by Angel) but not being particularly bright or familiar with any vampires that had souls, he had no idea that it changed Angelus in any way.

Sean and the few minions that he could round up in short notice crept quietly back to the crypt where the slayer had discovered them earlier. They had gone there with the intent to try to track the slayer and the watcher. Since no one appeared to be around, they entered the crypt and were pleasantly surprised to find the watcher, Charles Barrington, tied up inside.

Imposter Angelus smiled evilly and told that others that clearly his ‘lover’ had left a present for him. Even Charles Barrington was convinced, as those were the last words that he heard.

Taking the few journals that were still needed for information about the real Angelus, and the vampires then fled into the night.

When the team sent by the Watcher’s Council arrived in the morning, they found the remaining books and a dead, drained Charles Barrington.

 * * * * *

Buffy toured part of Galway during the day, looking thoughtfully across the river at the village of Claddagh, the area where the famous rings were supposed to have originated. It brought back with vivid clarity the moment when Angel had given her the ring on her 17th birthday. She felt close to him, strolling through the streets where he had grown up, trying to picture what it must have been like through his eyes before he was changed.

On impulse, she stopped in a small shop and bought a Claddagh ring for Angel. The ring was an antique, the shop proprietor said that it had come from the estate of a local family and was about, in his guess, 200 years old. As Buffy rolled the shiny silver ring in her hand, she thought that it was perfect. A new ring that came from her and from Ireland, maybe even a symbol of their new relationship.

She stopped by a pay phone after leaving the shop and dialed Angel’s number, suddenly wanting to hear his voice. She sighed when the machine picked up, and left a message. It was just as well – she’d probably only blurt out her surprise gift. Besides, she and Spike needed to get back to Dublin.

 * * * * *

When Buffy returned to her room at Blackrock, Carmen informed her snidely that her boyfriends had been by to visit and that she didn’t appreciate Buffy having them over to the flat in the middle of the night. Buffy stared at Carmen, sure that she didn’t hear the girl correctly – boyfriends? Oh, and Buffy had a couple of messages – someone name Giles called and someone named Angel called.

Buffy asked Carmen for the names of these boyfriends that had stopped by and Carmen only shrugged. Any details? What they looked like? Both tall, one good looking, one not. She invited them both in, both left notes – she thought – in Buffy’s room.

Buffy headed into her room, looking around cautiously. On her bed, she spotted two notes and a small bouquet of flowers. The first note was from Patrick. He still wanted to take her out – maybe to see a local Irish band. Could she please call him? The second note was a drawing of sorts, sort of a sketch of her – she guessed – but only not a very good one. It was signed with an A. But it was not the script that she was used to seeing. Buffy knew that it was from the Angelus imposter, that somehow he knew about the notes the real Angelus had left her in Sunnydale those years ago. And now he knew where she lived. Even worse, he had been invited in. Buffy thought of her roommates – just how far would this Angelus imposter take things?

Buffy immediately left the flat, heading for a payphone on campus to call Giles.

Giles told Buffy about Charles Barrington’s death. She was a little surprised and felt a little guilty about not staying to protect the malicious Watcher. The team from the Watchers Council had also recovered Morgan’s body – which they returned to the small village of Cornwall to be buried next to his long dead wife. They had also been to Morgan’s house looking for the chronicles, but found nothing. For now, they assumed the document was still missing.

Buffy glanced at her bag, which contained all the documents that Morgan had ever shown her. “Tell them I haven’t found it.” She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with the papers yet. If she wanted to turn them in, they could always tell them that she found then later. She asked Giles again to find out what the Council knew about it – maybe under the guise of giving her some idea of what to look for. And, could he – discreetly – find out what they knew about Angel now?

Buffy then called Angel. She told him about the events of the last few days, about Charles Barrington, about Morgan’s death and about meeting the Angelus imposter. As was so often the case when she talked to him, he made her feel better about everything. He listened quietly while she filled him in, then talked to her in that rich, calming voice, soothing her fears and giving her strength.

Before they hung up, Angel asked Buffy to tell Spike to call him. Buffy was leery, but agreed after making Angel promise that he wasn’t going to blame Spike for his involvement with her.

Though he didn’t say so to Buffy, Angel was worried about his namesake imposter, especially now that he knew where Buffy lived. He had asked Wesley and Cordelia to do some research, hoping that they might turn up something that could help. And despite his words to the contrary, Angel was feeling impotent and frustrated, far away and unable to help the one other person in the world that he cared most about.

 * * * * *

Almost a month had passed since Buffy and Spike had made the trip to Galway. Ever since their return, the Angelus imposter had been stalking Buffy from afar. He had been in her room several times, leaving notes and rifling through her things, stealing the occasional piece of lingerie or picture. She even suspected that he had masturbated on her bed, a thought that made her shudder with revulsion.

Spike had taken up patrolling around the flat at night if Buffy was home, sticking close to her otherwise when she was out at night. Angel had made it clear to Spike that he would hold him responsible if anything should happen to Buffy – detailing specifics of several things that he would happily do to the blond vampire should he fail to take care of her. Spike knew from Angel’s tone of voice that he should take his Sire seriously. And, he also knew that he was likely to still get a beating from the larger vampire when they next saw each other. Spike had broken an unwritten rule between vampires when he had gotten involved with Buffy several years ago. Angel had marked her as his, Spike should have heeded the warning. Ah well, Spike was never one to follow the rules. And it had been worth it.

He hurried to follow Buffy through the darkened cemetery, realizing that he had almost lost her in his musing.

“Hello Lover.” The vampire calling himself Angelus stepped out from behind the small shed.

Buffy rolled her eyes at the ridiculous notion, but at the same time wondered just how much detail was really documented in those Watchers journals. Did they actually write down conversation dialog? Or how did this loser know what the real Angelus had called her?

“I’ve been waiting for you. You know that I am not the real Angelus, but I know that he left you. I would never leave you. Turn you, perhaps, but not leave you.” The vampire stepped forward, the grin on his face making him look like an evil clown. “Become my lover and I will help you destroy Angelus for what he did to you.” Sean, of course, wanted the real Angelus destroyed. He liked the unlife he had been living – he wasn’t about to give it up without a fight. And having the real Angelus out of the picture would greatly ensure that he, Sean, could continue to use the alias.

Buffy resisted the urge to shudder with disgust. “Ewwww. No thanks.”

“Guess those journals aren’t completely up to date, eh Pet?” Spike strolled casually up behind the Angelus imposter, smoking a cigarette as usual. “You see, *Angelus*, you’ve already reconciled somewhat with little Fluffy here. Shagged and all that.”

“Whoever you are – your days of Angelus impersonation are over.” Buffy moved forward, stake in hand.

“Join me or die. It’s your choice.” Looking her up and down once again, “Unless you can convince me to turn you, slayer.”

“No, not a good idea. You see the real Angelus wouldn’t like that at all. Not with his slayer at any rate. He’d hunt you down.” Spike stepped from behind Angelus, in full game face, and staked the vampire minion closest to him who had been inching away. “And, as much as it pains me to say this, the poof really does have way with torture. It’s an art really, and he was the best.”

Buffy seized the opportunity to grab the Angelus imposter while Spike neatly took care of the other remaining vampire.

The imposter broke down relatively quickly once Buffy had brought out the crosses and holy water. He confessed all – saying his name was Sean and that he had been impersonating Angelus for the last two years. It made for an easy living for him – most of the other vampires and demons staying out of his way thanks to Angelus’ reputation. He was only interested in the journals for the information he needed to impersonate Angelus. He had seen some document called a chronicle that one of his minions had stolen long ago, but it wasn’t really of interest to him. He said that he had never harmed the old man – they had needed him for information, so he was off limits. He knew though, that Charles Barrington had killed him. Sean mistakenly assumed that Buffy would let him go once he confessed all, but soon realized he was mistaken.

“Can you believe that guy? As if he could pass as Angelus?” Buffy shook the vampire’s dust from her hands as she turned to Spike. “I can’t believe anyone even fell for it.”

 * * * * *

When Buffy next talked to Giles, he told her that the Council was still debating what to do with the information in Morgan’s Chronicles – assuming it ever surfaced. Those who believed the theory that destroying these few master would eventually destroy the entire vampire race were arguing for assembling a team to do just that. It seemed to be a very small contingent, but they existed nonetheless. As for Angel, they did know that his soul had been restored and they knew about the possibility of Shanshu.

Buffy hadn’t trusted the council since her involvement with then during high school. They let her down when she needed them to help Angel then and she doubted that he would be protected from an assassination squad if they assembled one. His soul, the possibility of Shanshu, the fact that he was a warrior for the Powers that Be, that he fought for good – none of it would matter – to them, he was still a vampire.

“Tell them that we never found them, Giles. Not a trace.”

Later that night, Buffy watched as the documents burned in the small fireplace. She’d risked her life to protect Angel several times – her instincts in this instance were no different.

 * * * * *

The last couple of months in Ireland were quiet for Buffy and she was able to concentrate on her studies. Spike had left a couple of weeks ago, planning to tour parts of Europe before heading back to Sunnydale. They never did make it to Prague.

Buffy was happily surprised when she opened her e-mail and found a new message from Angel. Things were definitely heating up for them – although that was never their problem – it was all the other relationshipy-type things that were the problem for them. That and Angel’s obsession that she have a “normal” life.

The beginning of Angel’s message was much the same as the others. He asked about school, her time in Ireland. He was glad to hear Spike had left – he didn’t say so in so many words, but Buffy could tell. This time, Angel had ventured a little farther into new territory. Buffy smiled as she read:

I’ve been having this dream about you. Night after night. I thought maybe if I shared it with you, you could help me understand what it means.

Buffy could almost see the slight smile on Angel’s face as he wrote those words.

You’re standing at the large window of a suite at a hotel here in LA looking out. The lights of the city are behind you and are creating the only light in the room. You’re wearing a long black strapless gown with high heels. Your hair is up, only a few tendrils loose around your face. Did I ever tell you how beautiful, how gorgeous you look with your hair up?

Back to the dream – I walk up behind you and slide my arms around your waist, enjoying the view with you. You tilt your head to the side for me and I kiss your neck, taking my time to caress every inch of your throat with my lips and tongue. Eventually I slide my hands up your arms to your shoulders, then around to your magnificent breasts. It’s not enough, so I pull your dress down so that I can see them. Your beautiful nipples are hard. I touch them and you moan, your head resting back against my chest. I caress you until I need more. I unzip your dress and slide it off. You’re wearing nothing but small black lace panties and your sexy heels. I push you back against the window to kiss you. The window feels cool on your back and you shiver. I kiss my way down your body, paying special attention to your nipples before kneeling in front you of. I can smell your arousal. When I part your legs, I see the wetness on your thighs. You’re so wet and ready for me. I pull your panties down your legs then lift one leg over my shoulder. You’re so beautiful, open and exposed to me. I lick your sweet sticky fluid from your thighs before sliding my tongue between your legs. I keep you there, bringing you to orgasm after orgasm until you can barely stand.

Buffy clenched her legs together and blinked, finding it hard to believe that his few words aroused her so much, so quickly.

I always wake up right after I carry you to the bed. How do you think it ends? Do you think it means anything?

Angel ended the letter there, telling her that he missed her and to write soon. Buffy smiled to herself, knowing that once again he gave her just enough to tease her so that she’d be thinking of him.

 * * * * *

Buffy had spent nearly all of her free time in the last three weeks in the library. Well, except for the dinner and pub visit with Patrick. He had been so persistent, and he was so nice that she finally gave in and went out with him. She also wanted to conduct a little test – if she wasn’t interested in someone like Patrick, who was extremely good-looking and very nice and sweet, if he didn’t make her tingle just a little bit, if his kisses didn’t set her on fire – then it really was just Angel that did it for her. And, she was right. When Patrick kissed her goodnight, she felt like she was kissing Xander. Well, better than Xander, maybe more like Riley. It was nice, it was sweet, but the world didn’t drop away, there was no roaring in her ears, no fire racing through her veins. None of the same sensations that she experienced just by thinking of Angel. Whoa Buffy. Slow down there. At this rate, Angel would need to fear for his undead life. Next time she saw him, she was likely to attack him.

Deciding that she wanted a little break in studying and a fun, Buffy opened up her iBook and checked the time. And lucky for her, it also showed that Angel was online – which was a somewhat rare occurrence.

Bsummers: Hello? Angel.

Angel250: Hi.

Bsummers: This is Angel, right? NOT Cordy or Wes or Fred?

Angel250: Yes. It’s me.

Buffy hesitated. Cordy would probably lie. She wanted more proof. What could she ask that only Angel would know. Hmm. What had they talked about that only the two of them would know? Ah yes, the dream he had written to her about.

Bsummers: Still having the same dream?

Angel250: Yes.

Bsummers: Does it get any farther?

Angel250: Yes.

Bsummers: What happens next?

Angel250: Made it to the bed.

Bsummers: And then?

Angel250: Want to show you.

Buffy smiled. Yep, this was Angel.

Bsummers: Promise?

Angel250: Yes.

Bsummers: Where are you?

Angel250: My apt.

Bsummers: Where’s Connor?

Angel250: Sleeping.

Bsummers: Same room? His room?

Angel250: His. Why?

Bsummers: Are you alone?

Angel250: Yes. ?

Bsummers: Play with me?

Angel wasn’t sure where she was going with this, but decided to play along.

Angel250: ?

Bsummers: I’m going to tell you what to do. You don’t need to reply – just hit return. Ok?

Angel250: ok.

Bsummers: You’ll do what I say right?

Angel smiled. This should be interesting.

Angel250: Ok.

Bsummers: Are you thinking about me?

Angel250: yes.

Bsummers: Just hit return.

Angel250:

Bsummers: I’m thinking of you. Of touching you. Touching your cock

Bsummers: Touch yourself for me. Slowly. Imagine it’s my hand.

Angel reclined back in the chair and separated his legs slightly. He’d had a lot of sexual experiences in his long life, but never with a computer. Always a first time for everything. Besides, this was Buffy – just thinking about her was usually all he needed to get uncomfortably aroused.

Angel250:

Bsummers: Are you getting hard?

Angel250:

Bsummers: Stroke it hard baby. Don’t stop.

Angel250:

Bsummers: Unzip your pants. Are you wearing boxers? Your black silk boxers?

Angel 250:

Bsummers: Did I ever tell you how hot you look in those? How I love to touch you through them – the soft silk rubbing your hard cock.

Angel250:

Bsummers: Stroke yourself through the boxers baby. Run your hand up and down, slowly. Grip harder. Um. Wish I was there.

Angel250: Buffy shifted on the chair feeling herself become aroused as she thought of Angel and what he was doing. She looked around the quiet library, hoping that no one could eavesdrop on her conversation or see the screen of her iBook.

Bsummers: Now pull out your cock but don’t stop stroking it. Feel good?

Angel250:

Bsummers: Harder now. Faster. When you get close to coming let me know.

Buffy waited, imagining Angel’s hand moving up and down over his cock, stroking and pulling. She closed her eyes and licked her lips, wishing she could be there. Wanting to wrap her lips around his erection and caress his balls until he begged her to stop. A few minutes later, another message popped up on the screen.

Angel250:

Bsummers: Come for me baby. I wish I were there to lick it up. To touch you. Kiss you.

Angel closed his eyes, Buffy’s words on the screen driving him on. He stroked his erection harder then faster, picturing her hands and mouth on him. Angel came, spurting his seed on his hand and lower part of his stomach. Grabbing the nearest towel – oops, he’d have to wash Connor’s blanket asap – Angel cleaned himself up and zipped his pants.

Angel250: 😀

Buffy laughed at the big smiley. Angel was really getting the hang of this online communication.

Angel250: Now you?

Bsummers: Sorry. Library.

Angel250: Later? Tomorrow?

Bsummers: Don’t know how/where. Only have Internet connection in library.

Angel250: Phone?

Bsummers: Shared phone in living room. Or public pay phone in pub. Can you imagine what a sight that would be? Ha ha

Angel250: Maybe not then.

Angel shifted in the chair in frustration.

Bsummers: Gotta go. Paper to write. Theology no less. Finals next week.

Angel250: Ok. Talk soon?

Bsummers: Definitely. Bye.

Angel250. Bye sweetheart.

 * * * * *

On the flight home, Buffy thought back to her time in Ireland. It was a beautiful place, no doubt about it. She hoped that maybe some day she and Angel would get to visit there together.

She knew too, that the time away had been good for her. For them. She and Angel had spent time getting to know each other again – without physical intimacy getting in the way or complicating things. Buffy was happier now than she had been in a long while. She’d have her degree in one more year and now she’d have Angel too. Yep. Things were looking really good.

And she was more than ready to work on the next step in their relationship, the physical intimacy.