Sequel to Christmas Means Angels



Angels and Demons


by
Shadith





You'd think after several hours of mind blowing sex I'd at least be tired. And believe me I am. But not enough to sleep. Cause I'm worried. Now, I've already run through the typical morning after list.

You know -- was it a one time thing, how will they act, how should I act etc. etc. Spike called me a wanker and Angel brooded at me, then they both told me not to worry. That lasted five minutes after they'd fallen asleep for the day.

Now I'm lying between two very attractive vampire... males. And O. K. here's the panic. I can't stay here.

Xander wiggled out from between the two bodies, pausing to watch as they snuggled together. He'd love to see the look on Spike's face when he realized he was cuddling up to Angel.

Sighing he slipped into the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later he was out the door with neither vampire the wiser. He could be heard humming 'Rudolph' as he headed towards his bench.

Shadow glanced up from her list as the first thought brushed her mind. Looking around at the assembled angels, she wondered who would notice if she slipped out.

SHE'S NOT HERE. NEITHER IS METATRON. ONLY ONES WHO'D NOTICE. NO ONE WANTS THE ANGEL OF DEATH AROUND... NOT EVEN OTHER ANGELS.

With a quick flutter of wings, she disappeared from the Heavens. Wondering what could possibly be bothering Loki after the night she was sure he had, she settled on the bench behind him to listen.

First off... Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Second. Please don't fuck me over. You've done it before-- so its not an unfair request. I finally have what I've wanted for so long. Whatever you want from me. I'll do it. Just please let this work I... I need them.

Shadow sighed watching the boy walk away. Moving to the bench, she flopped onto it listlessly. Pout firmly in place she began nibbling on the Hershey kisses he'd left behind.

HE REALLY IS HAPPY. AND HE DESERVES TO BE. I GUESS IT WOULDN'T BE FAIR TO TAKE THAT AWAY.

Sighing again the angel disappeared. Dark green eyes watched her leave.

Reappearing at the meeting she'd went AWOL from. No one noticed her entrance. Well--almost no one.

The Power looked at Metatron then at the silent Angel of Death. *SHE IS MISERABLE* Metatron glanced at Shadow then back at HER.

"SHE MISSES LOKI."

SHE cocked her head to the side appraising her Archangel. *PERHAPS A GAME OF SKEEBALL WOULD CHEER HER UP*

"ARE YOU CERTAIN THAT'S SUCH A GOOD IDEA AFTER THE LAST TIME?"

HER eyes narrowed then she grinned. *DEFINITELY.*

Early morning sunshine beamed through a tiny window. Shadow blinked twice, shifting away from the light that hurt her eyes.

Hold on... Hurt.

With a squeak the angel leapt from the bed. Stunned she could only stare dumbfounded.

"O.K. this is weird. Kinda cool though. So, no need to overreact." Confused she tried to remember the last thing she'd done. Nothing.

Beginning to worry, she moved around the room warily. There was nothing to tell her where she was or how she got there. It was empty except for the bed and some clothing on an otherwise bare dresser.

Staring at the clothes, she realized for the first time she was nude. Shrugging, she pulled the outfit on.

Time to go.

She gasped as she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Moving towards it she froze inches from it.

Looking back at her was a tall dark-skinned woman with high full breasts. Inky raven hair spilled around her scantily clad form, falling to her bottom.

Three things hit her one after another.

Long slender fingers flew to her shoulders. She reached desperately behind herself.

Gone... They were just... gone.

"Where the fuck are my wings!!" she screamed, eyes widening.

That's when she noticed she had no eyes. Which wasn't exactly true. Everything was simply a solid electric blue - cornea, pupil, iris, everything.

She scanned her body frantically for other changes. And found one very glaring change. One that beat out all the others.

She stared dazed at her new vagina. She dropped like a stone.

Time moved, things happened, plans were made and destroyed.

Waking slowly, she lay still.

God what a nightmare. No more chocolate.

As consciousness crept back so did awareness.

Why the hell am I lying on the floor?

Frantic she shot to her feet, eyes stretching wide like a panicked horse as she remembered. Tiny whimpers filled the small room. Biting back a sob she began to pace.

Ok. Ok... don't panic. You're not going to panic. Your over five thousand eons. You're not going to panic.

"Oh My God what happened?" Wringing her hands, she dropped to her knees.

"God. God. Answer me please. Metatron. Metatron. Why won't you answer? Michael. Michael. Please Lord."

The angel screamed and prayed until her voice died. Sobbing she collapsed onto the floor.

Please someone answer me. Why is this happening to me?

Whimpering, Shadow cried herself to sleep.

Night fell quickly or so it seemed to Xander as he made his way to the magic shop. He paused staring up at the night sky.

Can't blame this one on you. I fucked up this time.

Sighing he pushed his way into the store. Fighting the urge to puke, he watched as Buffy and Iowa played kissy face. Trying to escape the sugary overload his eyes feel on the witches and the ex demoness huddled together in a corner.

When he spotted Giles snuggling with Olivia by the counter--the urge to scream got harder to ignore.

You have no right to complain. You chose this. No matter how stupid or painful... or just plain wrong. Its what I chose but... gods please I didn't know it would hurt so much.

Forcing back a sob, he plastered on an engaging grin. "Hey is all good on the front lines?"

Buffy glanced up from her study of Riley's hands. "All is good. No Glory in sight. She just disappeared. Poof."

Xander looked worried. "Not to sound paranoid... but why? She almost had Dawn. Why just all of a sudden back off? It makes no sense."

Buffy shrugged, more interested in playing with solider boy's hair.

"Don't be so negative. I think the Powers finally decided I deserved a break. Especially since we had to come back here early and after that whole Angel, Spike thing we had to get you out of."

Anya looked up annoyed. "Xander you are spoiling our Solstice fun. It's bad enough your intruding on our holiday alone time. But to keep on worrying. Even death will take a break on Solstice."

"Well excuse me for being concerned about some big evil nameless thing suddenly deciding to spare us poor humans."

No one paid any attention to the sarcastic comment. Instead Giles peered curiously at Anya. "What exactly do you mean even death takes a break Anya?"

Anya grinned, happily. She loved knowing things the others didn't.

"A long time ago the catholic church decided to ease some peasants minds about death while trying to gain more pagan worshippers." She paused trying to remember it all.

"They created some dogma about the shadow of death being silent and the angel of death releasing its hold on Christmas eve or maybe it was at the end of Solstice. Whatever it worked, got a lot more worshippers too."

Distracted by Olivia, Giles simply nodded attention already gone. "That's nice. Interesting bit of history," he muttered.

Xander slouched in his chair, watching the others. Everyone had someone except him. His entire being cried out at the injustice.

Except it's not an injustice. Is it? You chose to give them up for your friends. Except that wasn't it either....

With a strangled cry Xander shot to his feet, shoving his chair back. Struggling to remain composed, he smiled sadly backing away.

"Since I'm not needed. I'll just be heading home."

Almost running Xander hurried from the store. Tears welled up as he made his way to the park.

Dropping to his knees, he stared up blindly into the stars.

Oh Gods. Please... please... I'm sorry. Oh gods... so sorry... I was scared... weak.... But I never meant to hurt them. Just give me another chance... I swear this time I'll prove myself worthy. Please!

Head bowed, he wept. Harsh choking sounds filled with regret and sorrow.

Sunlight danced over Shadow's eyes. Fighting back another crying jag, the ex angel stood shaking. Desperate she cried out again.

"God. Michael. Metatron."

Still there was no answer. With a loud wail she collapsed back onto the bed, curling in on herself.

Almost unable to handle the immense change in her status, panic began to creep back. Struggling to breathe--she shoved the fear away. She lay taking deep calming breaths.

O.K. Crying is not going to help. Lets think about this. SHE isn't answering neither is Michael or Metatron. That in itself means nothing. So we're not going to worry about it. First things first. I'm....

The ex angel began to pant, making high whining sounds deep in her throat.

No! No panicking. I'm human.

Shadow shuddered--stomach clenching as she paled.

What's next? Find out how and why this happened. How do I do that without HER or the other angels?

She bit back another wail. Standing, she paced.

Who else could help? Who else knows about me? Spike! One of mine... whom I've spoken to. He'll be able to help or if not him someone he knows.

Snatching the trench coat from the hook--she slid the sunglasses out of the pocket and onto her face.

A young guy with dark green eyes and a blonde woman in a red dress, watched the now human Shadow of Death leave the raggedy hotel in Los Angeles.

"I thought you said she'd be too traumatized to travel, Ben?"

Glory frowned, staring after the woman.

"She should have been. An angel forced into human form, even one as special as that one, should be a gibbering mess."

The dark blonde head shook in confusion.

"Then why isn't she a gibbering mess," screeched Glory hurling a shoe at him.

"I don't know but we won't be able to drag her back for the ritual."

Glory's eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Why not?" Her voice was a deadly hiss.

Ben winced at the barely contained fury.

"She's gonna take one look at us and freak. She's the Shadow of Death. We might have forced her into human form but she still has power. She'll see who... what you are and she'll fight."

Shrugging Glory turned back to the side walk vendor.

"I'll take these," she said pulling on the onyx jewelry.

"So we're going to sacrifice her anyway. I mean that is why we let that stupid slayer keep the Key. Why go back to Hell... when I can use her to take over Heaven."

Ben sighed, rubbing his forehead. If he'd explained the plan to Glory once he'd done it Her Father knows how many times.

"She has to be sacrificed by an agent of good on Christmas eve--Solstice's end in a Catholic church since it's their dogma. Otherwise it's useless. We get buptkiss."

Glory pouted then smiled at the trembling salesman. Reaching out she caressed his cheek and let the power flow. She laughed as the man fell to the floor.

"Then we simply have to make sure that happens."

She made good time. Walking all the way from Los Angeles to Sunnydale had only taken her half the day. Now she understood why Rufus had complained so much about all the walking they'd done.

"Spike'll help. You'll be fine. Just find Spike."

Mumbling softly to herself Shadow stood outside the apartment door. She'd been knocking for the last five minutes and if someone didn't answer soon she was going to kick the door in.

Startled, she jumped when a hand fell on her shoulder. Whirling she scrambled away from the irritated looking woman.

"What do you want?" Her voice was nervous, high pitched.

Jen eyed the dark-haired woman warily. She didn't want to speak to her but the banging was driving her up a wall.

"The guy who lives here isn't in. He left with some red head a few hours ago."

Shadow gave a shaky smile as she muttered thanks. Stumbling slightly she ran from the building. She had a pretty good idea where he'd be if he wasn't with Spike.

Either way someone would be able to tell her where the vampire was.

Xander sat alone watching the couples before him. Only two days till Christmas and he was resigned to his fate. He was pretty sure he deserved to be miserable--especially after letting them go.

He was also certain whoever had been listening felt the same way. Unlike before he'd felt nothing when he'd prayed last night.

Unaware of his dark thoughts, Willow crept toward the quiet young man.

"Hey, Xan mistletoe."

He smiled weakly, not even bothering to pretend. Not with the little green plant hovering in front of him. Mocking him.

Xander slowly backed away from the grinning vampire. Eyes tracking the sprig of mistletoe Spike had been tormenting him with since they'd awoke.

"Now, Spike I don't think that's how mistletoe's supposed to be used."

Blue eyes sparkled with mischief as a sly grin slid across the vampire's face.

"Well then, luv. Why don't you tell me 'ow it goes."

"It's supposed to be hung in one spot and when you stop under it then you kiss."

Xander stopped unable to go any further. His back pressed into a hard yet appealing wall like object, as Spike cornered him.

"Oi that's no fun. I think I like my way better but I guess we can try it your way."

Smiling as innocently as possible the vampire waved the mistletoe over Xander's head. Angel grinned over his shoulder.

"Oh look! It's in one place and we're under it. Guess that means we kiss. Right, pet?"

Before he could answer, Spike was pressing forward devouring his mouth. Sharp teeth nipped at warm full lips. Xander moaned as the vampire explored every inch of his mouth.

Leaning into the long arms that wrapped around his waist, Xander lay back against the brunette vampire. He whimpered as the taller man began to nuzzle at his throat.

Hissing with pleasure he thrust back against Angel when his cool tongue swept over the bite marks on his neck.

Spike pulled back slowly, watching Xander as he rubbed against Angel trying to get closer.

He smirked, waving the plant in front of the mortal's half-lidded gaze.

"Isn't this a better idea, luv?"

Tossing the mistletoe over his shoulder--the blonde dove back in.

Willow blinked confused at the low growl that seemed to be coming from Xander.

Without a word Xander reached out snatching the plant from Willow's unsuspecting grasp. Before she could stop him, he tossed the mistletoe into the trash.

"I'm allergic," was his sullen answer to her questioning gaze.

Willow pouted. "Since when?"

A frantic pounding at the front door, kept him from answering.

Los Angeles

Cordelia sat dazed. Staring at nothing as Wesley paced the floor.

"He fired us. I can't believe he fired us."

Wesley paused, glancing over at the ex-cheerleader.

"I think it's a little more serious than that Cordelia. He let Darla and Dru slaughter all those people."

Cordelia looked up from her inspection of the carpet.

"Oh yeah, great loss."

She held up a hand before Wesley could start.

"I know. I know. It's the reasoning behind it that's the problem. But our getting fired is just as serious."

She held up a finger. "First he did it so he wouldn't have to listen to what we have to say. And second..."

She closed her eyes weary.

"Second and most important he fired me. Vision girl. His link to The Powers. How can he still work for them if he ditches the connection? The answer is he can't."

Wesley frowned, not liking this new direction.

"Somehow... somehow this is Xander's fault. I know it."

Wesley sat, fingers tapping nervously on the arm of the couch.

"You don't think he..."

Cordelia stood taking up Wesley's pacing.

"Lost his soul... cause he got a leg over on Xan. No... at least not over that. More like something that happened after."

"What could..."

"I don't know... but Angel is here alone. NO Xan. No Spike and acting like Angelus. Xander's behind this somehow. It's his fault. I know this."

Spike sat watching the older vampire brood. He did nothing but brood or rant. It was either or. Sometimes both, since they'd left Sunnyhell. The brunette was losing it... not a little thought Spike. But a lot.

He had a bad feeling.

Angel stood abruptly, the movement so fast it should have startled the younger vampire. But he'd been expecting it. It had almost been a whole hour since the last rant.

"She couldn't stand to see me happy. None of them could. So, they turned him against us. He was happy. We made him happy. I know it."

Angel paced--steps heavy and angry.

"But that bitch slayer and her little lackeys made him feel guilty... evil for loving us."

Spike said nothing having heard this rant and many like it the entire trip back to Los Angeles.

'Ere we go again.

"I don't ask for much. I mean after the things I did - I really don't expect to get into Heaven. But is a little peace too much to ask for. Couldn't they give me that?"

Angel turned on Spike, pinning him to the chair.

"No. What they did was far more cruel than I've ever been. They give me a glimpse... a taste... Then fucking snatch it away."

Spike shifted uncomfortably beneath his sire's hands.

"Is that why you let Darla go?"

Angel moved back turning away.

"Why serve such a fickle master? Redemption is useless. Why waste my unlife knowing I can never be happy... never be saved."

His voice was low, deadly. Spike watched him cursing silently.

This is new... and... not liking it.

"Why serve a master who cares not for his servants? Why not be what I was meant to be..."

Spike stiffened as if an ill wind blew across his spine.

Bloody 'ell 'e sounds like....

"Sire maybe..." Spike froze - scenting danger.

Angel turned eyes glowing.

"Why not take what I want... and damn all else."

Drusilla leapt from the bed - dancing and spinning around the room.

"Daddy is coming. Daddy is coming home."

Darla peered sleepily from the warm bed; watching her grandchilde and dam whirl estasticlly.

"What is it Darling? Has something finally happened to that nasty soul?"

Drusilla stopped mid spin.

"Daddy is angry. So very angry. Someone took away his pretty toy... a sweet kitten. And now Daddy is restless."

Swaying, she moved her hands in a shoving motion back and forth. As if pushing something while still holding on.

"Push... push.... pushing against the Angel beast.... except e's not. E's holding it up cause something made it fall. Now it's letting Daddy lead."

Darla pulled Drusilla down beside her.

"What made it weak, Dru? And how do we keep it that way?"

Drusilla shot up whirling away.

"Find the Shadow make 'er bleed. Keep the Kitten make 'im feed. Find the Shadow make 'er bleed. Keep the Kitten make 'im feed."

She spun faster and faster chanting wildly until she fell to the floor laughing madly.

Shadow hit the door harder. She was damned if they were going to ignore her.

Reaching the door first Buffy yanked it open. Annoyed she simply glared at the trembling woman at Giles' door.

"Is Spike here? Can I speak to him? I need to speak to him."

Buffy stared at the woman. She shook like one of the washed out humans from the vampire's feeding nest. Disgusted she shook her head.

"He's not here," she said moving to close the door.

Shadow's hand shot out catching the door.

"Where is he? I need him."

"Look. I told you he's not here and I don't care where he is. Now leave," she snarled. Again she tried to shut the door.

Shadow didn't budge.

"Then is Xander here?"

Buffy looked back then shook her head.

Shadow's back snapped straight - the shakes disappearing. She hated being lied to.

"He is here. I will speak to him. NOW!"

For a moment her old authority raged through her as she pushed into the apartment. Buffy grumbled but backed away letting her in.

Just as suddenly as it had appeared, it disappeared. Frantic eyes searched the room until they locked on Xander. Hurrying to him, she clutched at his arm.

Stunned he couldn't look away. Something about her nagged at him... she seemed familiar.

"Xander where is Spike? Why isn't he here with you? I need him. Take me to him."

Her voice was a desperate whisper.

Xander turned away from her pleading eyes, pity and grief rising in waves.

"I can't. They left Sunnydale yesterday."

Stunned she could only stare stupefied at him. Watching the exchange curiously, the others remained silent.

She stopped clinging; spine stiffening as if her brain had just processed the information.

"What do you mean they left Sunnyhell? Why are you still here then? Your supposed to be together."

Xander paled. His throat tightening at her words. He answered voice barely audible.

"How.. It wouldn't have worked. Their too... I'm not... They deserve... I did what was best."

Panic forgotten her eyes narrowed dangerously.

"How the fuck could you let them go, Loki? You begged for someone and then you throw them away. What the hell? I thought I knew you. I can't believe you let them. I..."

A horrible thought occurred to her. Those conditions on his soul kept him from losing it by accident... not on purpose.

"Did you just let them leave or--"

Buffy interrupted blind to the tension radiating off the unnerved woman.

"Xander didn't have the guts to do it. So I told them after he'd gone. Their demons. One soulless the other tends to lose his."

Buffy smirked.

"Except with Xander of course but then we knew he couldn't have really loved Xander. I guess even vampire's need to get laid."

Willow nodded in agreement.

"Besides everyone knows Spike loves Drusilla. Xander was just a convenience especially since Harmony left."

Shadow's jaw clenched eyes moving back to Xander.

She watched him cringe, drawing in on himself. Irrational rage swept over her--making her shake almost as much as the panic had.

"You stupid fuck. You let that skinny bitch and the witch twat talk you out of being happy."

Her enraged screams rang through the apartment.

"Your fucked. Which as far as I can tell you deserve but it means I'm am too..." her voice trailed off, as screams gave away to sobs.

Anger abruptly drained away; once again replaced by the unending wave of loss, panic, and fear.

"Human... forever... never to feel HER presence again. It hurts. Oh My God how it hurts."

Keening she dropped to her knees, cowering at Xander's feet. No one moved.

A flood of emotions like he hadn't felt since leaving his lovers, poured through him. The urge to comfort being foremost. Crouching beside her he wrapped his arms around her.

Something ancient, powerful stirred at the back of his mind. A glimpse of things forgotten... of what had been or would be. Pushing it aside he cooed at her.

Burying her face in his shoulder she wept.

"I didn't do anything wrong," she wailed. "I just wanna go home."

Desperation and despair lived in those words. Xander held the heaving body, offering what he could.

"OK enough of this. Time for the loony to go back to the hospital."

Buffy moved forward reaching hand grasping Shadow's arm. Xander knocked it away.

"She's not going anywhere. We're going to help her."

Buffy sighed looking to the others for support.

"We can't help her, Xander. She obviously needs serious attention," said Giles quietly.

Xander shook his head.

"She's not going. That's it."

Turning back to her he brushed the tears from her cheeks. Reaching out he pulled the sunglasses off and gasped.

Stopping the impromptu meeting - everyone turned to see what was up. Moving quickly Buffy grabbed a stake as the others scrambled for weapons.

Xander moved fast; pushing the still crying woman behind him.

"Move, Xander."

His voice was quiet but steady.

"No slayer. She's done nothing wrong. I won't let you hurt her."

Buffy looked away lowering her arm.

"All right."

Xander relaxed. Too soon.

Riley dashed forward knocking him to the side as the slayer charged forward. Shadow stood uncertain until she saw the stake descending.

Her body moved in an ancient dance and Buffy went flying over the railing. She hit with a loud thud. Groaning she staggered to her feet.

Willow gasped unable to even utter a warning as Xander sent the ex-commando after her. Buffy yelped as Riley knocked her back on her ass.

Before the others could react, he shoved Shadow behind him again easing towards the door.

"Buffy... let it go," he growled, voice harsh and deadly.

He yanked open the door, pulling Shadow behind him as he hurried away. Slowing once he realized they weren't being followed--he glanced around. Noticing for the first time how quickly night was falling lately.

Reaching his apartment Xander dragged the woman, who was crying again, inside. Pushing her towards the couch, he turned to lock the door.

Moving to stand in front of her he watched a nervous excitement making him jumpy.

"I know you. I know you or I knew you. Long before you ever met Spike. Right?"

He paused in the middle of his contemplation of the still weeping woman.

"You never used to be so weak. I don't remember you being such a little bitch."

Eyes flaring, she glared at him murder in her eyes.

"You try being forced into humanity and see how you handle it. Oh wait you did... You spent the entire fifteen minutes drunk off your ass," she snarled.

Unclear about what she meant but certain she was right, Xander snickered. Somehow he knew he'd be dead if things were normal. Or as normal as they ever got.

Taking exception to the snicker, Shadow launched herself at him. Sharp white teeth latched onto a bare forearm.

When teeth snapped down on her shoulder, she leapt back with a startled cry.

"What did I tell you? You bite you get bit."

He froze staring at her. He'd never laid eyes on her yet he knew her. Knew what she liked, how she thought. Shaking himself from his thoughts, he looked up only to find her sunk back into her morose.

She looked broken as if nothing could be made right.

"I'm so sorry Loki. I understand now... about trying to get back. I'd do anything. Anything to go home..."

Memories and regrets swept over the slayerette. Somehow he knew whatever had happened she wasn't at fault. She didn't deserve her misery. Not like him.

Settling onto the floor beside her - he pulled her chin up gazing into the solid blue orbs.

"Shadow I will find Spike. I will get you home."

A shaky smile wavered on the ex-angel's face as she burrowed into his warm embrace.

Neither noticed he'd called her by name.

Xander paused in the middle of cursing the telephone and everyone else he could think of, to glance over at the sleeping woman. He'd been calling Angel Investigations for hours with no answer.

Giving up he moved to his desk to search for Cordelia's number. Hand hovering over the phone, he glanced over at the woman who even now whined softly in her sleep.

He could do this. After several rings he started to hang up prepared to try again when it was picked up.

"Aren't you going to answer that it could be important," said Wesley looking listlessly at the phone then Cordelia.

Cordelia shrugged then with an unladylike grunt pulled the phone from the air.

"Thank you, Dennis. Chase Residence."

"Cordelia?" The voice was tentative yet determined.

"Xander..."

Wesley shot up staring at the agitated brunette.

"Look I really need to talk to Spike or Angel. It's really..."

Cordelia let out a frustrated scream.

"You've got some never calling here after all the trouble you've caused," screeched the seer.

"I thought we agreed to let bygones be bygones, Cordy. I mean that was the past," said Xander, puzzled.

"Past," yelped Cordelia. "It was just yesterday. Cause of you I'm out of a job."

Wesley coughed.

"So's Wes. And Angel's psycho.... Thanks to YOU!"

Before he could answer Cordelia hung up, slamming the phone into it's cradle.

"I can't believe him. He screws up our lives then acts like nothing happened," she cried hands waving around wildly.

Wesley looked pensive.

"I don't know Cordelia. Maybe we should have heard him out."

The ex-May queen shook her head.

"Nope... he'd just bring more trouble."

Dumbfounded he stared at the phone before hanging it back up.

What the hell? OK this is beyond weird.

Before he could get to caught up in his thoughts, Shadow stirred. He looked over to find her watching him. Eyes stretched wide, the panicked look beginning to creep back.

Hurrying over to her he pulled her into his arms.

"Hush its fine. We're just going to have to go to LA. It'll been fun, a little sight seeing then onto Angel's to talk to the bleached one. It'll be fine. You'll see."

Hugging her tight, he rocked her slowly. Trying not to worry about her incoherent mumblings.

Squealing with joy, Drusilla tossed the drained body aside.

"Soon. Soon. Soon."

Finishing her's more leisurely, Darla dropped the girl before glancing over at the brunette.

"Do you see them, Precious?"

Drusilla laughed as she spun.

"Shadow's coming make 'er bleed. Kitten's coming make 'im feed."

Hissing she clutched her head turning to Darla.

"All Mother's 'ere."

Stunned she reached out snatching Drusilla closer.

"The All Mother is here? Are you sure?"

The dark-eyed vampiress nodded slowly.

"Why is she here? Is it time to go home? Is that why she's here?"

Drusilla shook her head--whimpering as her grip tightened.

"She wants the pretty angel."

"She wants Angelus," asked Darla confused.

Drusilla giggled.

"No, grandmum. She wants the angel that slipped from Heaven's grasp."

Drusilla twisted in her arms.

"A pretty angel caught in a web. A spell... to trap 'er... All Mother wants the pretty angel who lost 'er wings. So she can't fly away."

Pushing the giggling woman away, Darla paced. Her thoughts racing.

"The Shadow is the angel. Has to be. Its too much of a coincidence," she muttered. "So who's the kitten?"

Drusilla stopped spinning, eyes wide and frightened.

"Daddy and the Angel beast's love. Dark eyes, wounded eyes. There's nothing there. Can't see past the dark... too dark... too dark... " she wailed yanking at her hair.

"Hush, Precious. I'll make the dark go away. Do you see where the Shadow and the Kitten are going?"

Dru nodded a grin lighting her face.

"To Daddy's."

Darla grinned.

"Good."

Spike watched impassively as Angel staked another vampire before stepping closer.

"Angel.."

The older vampire snarled.

"Sire..." he said quickly not wanting to provoke the brunette.

"Maybe we should think about this. We can't exactly trust, Slutty. Can we?"

The brunette grunted, slamming a stake through another vampire. Sighing, the blonde sidestepped the ever growing pile of dust.

"Xan was happy. Maybe he just needs a little time."

Angel turned face rippling between human and vampire.

"He walked away. He let her tell us what he really thought. How he always hated me... and how yer to be pitied. He was lonely and..."

Spike hissed shoving Angel away.

"Do you really believe that after what he said..."

Angel paused - remembering how happy Xander had seemed.

He lay head on Angel's lap staring at the tree.

"How did you get that in here?"

Spike smirked, dropping onto the floor by Angel's legs.

"Wouldn't you like to know."

"That's why I asked, Blondie." Xander pouted.

Angel grinned pulling Xander up until he sat partially on the vampire and partly on the couch.

"Let's just say we had a little angelic assistance."

"Very funny, Deadboy. " Xander snorted.

For awhile they sat enjoying the comfortable silence until Spike leapt up.

"Enough of this. I wanna open me gifts."

Angel shook his head; laughing he pulled an egg nog high Spike down beside them.

"Three days till Christmas, Childe. You can open your presents then."

Both looked over at the deep sigh from Xander. Worried they crowded close to the boy. Spike leaned forward wiping at a tear that slipped down his cheek.

"Xan-luv. What's wrong?" "Tell us what's wrong, kitten?"

Xander shook his head smiling shakily at his two vampire's.

"Nothing. It's just for the first time I feel good. I finally got a real Christmas. I love you, both... and even if this never happens again. I would die happy."

"First off luv this will be happening frequently for the foreseeable future. Secondly yer not going to be dying if we have anything to say about it. So that foreseeable future is gonna be a long one. Say an eternity."

Angel nodded a quick look between him and Spike told Xander how serious they were about that last statement. An almost giddy feeling of warmth spread through him.

A bright grin lit his face wiping away any fears or doubts.

"Angel, I think Spike and you should both open a gift. Seeing as how I've already got the best presents before Christmas."

Spike grinned preening slightly as Xander lay back against him. He glanced at Angel before nodding down at the boy.

Angel reached out unzipping his jeans as Spike unbuttoned his shirt. Xander looked up at Spike puzzled, not wanting to interrupt but curious.

"I thought you were going to open a present?'

"What better present to unwrap than you," said Angel leaning forward to capture his mouth.

He gasped as Angel caught his bottom lip, sucking it gently into his mouth. Eager to participate he reached up burying his fingers in the dark hair.

Never one to miss an opportunity, the blonde began to get rid of the bothersome clothing. Struggling to find a comfortable position on the couch, Spike cursed when a spring dug into his knee.

Without breaking the kiss Angel stood, carrying Xander into the bedroom. Grinning happily, Spike followed stopping only long enough to grab some more eggnog.

Panting for air, he frowned at the two vampires.

"You do know we keep this up and you two are going to kill me."

Leaning over he thrust his tongue between Spike's fangs.

"Can't think of a better way to go."

Shaking away the painful memory, Angel moved towards Spike.

Stopping to snap the neck of a demon who'd chosen the wrong alley to enter.

"Your right. But he's too frightened to fight them."

Moving too fast for the blonde to follow he pinned him to the wall.

"Well he won't have to. Not after I'm through."

Dropping his childe - Angel walked into the night.

Heaven

"UMM THIS IS NOT GOOD."

Michael looked at the Voice.

"YA THINK."

"NO NEED TO GET SNIPPY."

Michael began counting off on his fingers.

"FIRST THING IS FIND WHERE *SHE* IS. WE FIND HER THIS CAN ALL BE FIXED."

"YOU KNOW THESE SKEEBALL TRIPS ARE GETTING DOWN RIGHT HELLISH."

Michael glared then sighed.

"IF WE CAN'T FIND HER WELL.... DID SHE TELL YOU WHERE LOKI WAS?"

Metatron shook his head.

"YOU KNOW SHE WANTED HIM TO HAVE A FRESH START. AFTERWARDS *SHE* CLOSED HIM OFF TO EVERYONE BUT SHADOW. I WOULDN'T RECOGNIZE HIM NOW IF HE BIT ME."

Michael began counting off again.

"SO LET'S REVIEW. CAN'T FIND *HER*. CAN'T FIND SHADOW. WE DON'T KNOW WHERE LOKI IS. ANGEL IS REVERTING TO ANGELUS AND GLORY IS BEHIND IT ALL."

Metatron nodded face grim.

Michael froze deep in thought.

"THERE MAYBE A CHANCE. IF THOSE HELPERS OF HIS..."

"HOW..."

"WE COULD GIVE THEM THE LIBER DEO."

"WHAT IF THEY DON'T..."

"THEN WE'RE SCREWED."

Somewhere in Los Angeles

A dark-haired woman wondered aimlessly. There was something she was supposed to remember but the world was so foggy.

Xander cursed as he searched through Angel Investigations. Empty as if no one had ever been there. Hurrying he ran back to the lobby - worried about leaving Shadow alone.

He stopped staring at the woman standing mindlessly by the door. Tugging her gently--he pulled her to a couch.

"I want you to stay here. I'm going to go get Cordelia. Find out what's wrong. Ok?"

Unresponsive she rocked slowly back and forth. Her mind having withdrawn from reality.

God, I don't wanna leave her here. But Cordelia will probably freak if I bring her with me.

Stroking the hair from her face he peered into the glazed eyes.

"I'll be right back."

Sighing he left promising silently to be back with help.

She only whimpered softly when the doors swung back open.

The voice was soft, compelling.

"Hello, Shadow. I'm Lindsey."

She never stopped rocking.

"I'm here to take you home. Why don't you come with me," he said reaching out.

She watched the hand warily. Some part of her screamed at the wrongness. But for the most part too far gone to care.

She reached out tentatively clasping his hand.

"Just wanna go home," she whimpered.

Lindsey smiled gently.

"You will."

Xander hammered on the door.

"Cordelia, I know your here. Open up."

Snarling the seer yanked open the door.

"What do you want?"

He pushed by her - stalking into the apartment.

"There is no time for pettiness. Something’s seriously wrong."

"YOU HAVE NO IDEA."

With a loud squeal Cordelia snatched up the fire extinguisher smothering the wall of flames.

Choking coughs filled the room as the three stared slack jawed at the man in the drenched suit.

"I've got to quit doing this. That's the second time that's happened."

The other's continued to stare as something tried to click in Xander's head.

"You have been charged with a holy mission. You must..."

Cordelia shook her head, moving to yank open the door.

"NO! No no no. No more holy missions. That's what started this mess in the first place."

Metatron saw the stubborn set of Cordelia's face and sighed.

"You humans only concerned with what's in it for you or whether it's an inconvenience. Fine let the world be destroyed cause you got a grudge against your creator. I can't make you do anything but at least take this."

With that said he shoved the book into Wesley's hands and disappeared.

"What's that?" asked Cordelia, peering over Wesley's shoulder.

Awed the ex watcher simply gawked at the book in his hands.

"The Liber Deo."

"Yay and? Let's go. We'll figure it out on the way," said Xander shoving the others towards the door.

Wesley followed without complaint totally preoccupied with the Ancient book he holds. Cordelia however is a bit more reluctant.

"Where are we going? And why should we listen to you? And..."

"Shut up, Cordy."

Was the only thing Xander said before herding them into the cab.

The blonde vampire was not happy. In fact he was feeling distinctly pissed at Angel, Xander, Darla and the Universe in general.

Despite his protests his sire had answered Darla's call. Now the lot of them were sitting in an old church God knows where waiting for nightfall.

The chit's done it this time. We'll all be sucked into fuckin' 'ell if she 'as anything to say about.

Spike's eyes narrowed as he watched Darla conversing with the bint in the red dress. Something about that woman irritated him. She was much more than she seemed. Power radiated from her. He felt as if he should do obeisance and yet she repulsed him too.

Whatever she is its bad.

His gaze drifted over to Drusilla who alternately whirled around the room singing joyously or sat whimpering in fear.

Got Dru all freaked out. Maybe if....

Ignoring the other's and the fact that his sire hadn't made an appearance since they'd arrived he moved closer to Drusilla.

"You look lovely, Princess. Guess unlife's been good for you, Ducks."

Drusilla stopped dancing to stare uncertainly at her other daddy. The stars were very confused about him. They said he was whole again but he wasn't her daddy anymore.

"Hello, Spikey. Are you and Daddy family again?"

Spike nodded.

"That's good. When it's done we'll all be one happy family."

Spike slipped his arm around her--hugging her to him.

"When what's done, Princess?"

Drusilla stared at him unsure about what to tell him.

He smiled pulling at a long curl.

"C'mon, Ducks tell daddy."

Drusilla looked at him eyes wide. She couldn't sense the nasty slayer anymore but something else clung to him something dark. She couldn't tell what it was and it was driving her insane. More insane.

"We'll tell our secrets together."

Puzzled Spike just nodded in agreement..

"Glory's caught an angel."

Stunned it took the vampire a minute to reply.

"An angel... does the angel have a name, Dru baby?"

Drusilla nodded giggling softly. "It's a secret name. Glory doesn't know it, though. She just calls her little Shadow."

Spike's mind went blank then jump started again.

Bloody Fuckin' Hell!

He shoved the urge to destroy something . . . anything aside. Not wanting to alert Glory and Darla to his newly acquired knowledge.

"Now you tell me what's the wonderful darkness surrounding my Spikey."

The vampire's grin was unpleasant.

"That's for me to know and you to go insane over."

Ignoring the now pouting vampiress, he glanced up quickly planning to keep an eye on the two blondes only to find them gone. Worried he searched the room; eyes moving carefully over everything.

Lindsey and the green-eyed git lounged near the church doors while Drusilla danced between the pews. Apparently over her pique.

He hissed softly unable to figure out where the two had disappeared to.

Moving forward his gaze darted by the huge cross hung in front of the altar. Unable to look directly at the gleaming crucifix, his eyes focused on the plainness of the wall. Inching closer still averting his eyes from the cross, he spotted the shape of a door hidden behind the altar.

Hearing the thunder of power, he turned quickly from the door dropping into a pew facing away from the altar just as the two women stepped into the main room.

Glory grinned madly as she stared at the comatose ex-angel cowering in a corner of the little room--before pulling the door shut. Drusilla glided closer.

"Is Mother pleased? Does she like her prezzie?"

Glory's smile widened as she waved Darla away.

Laughing delightedly, she swept Drusilla into her arms. "Oh yes, little one. I am *pleased*." Swinging them into a dance, she almost howled with joy.

Trying to ignore the women Ben turned to question Lindsey. "Has the agent of good been secured?"

Lindsey nodded eyes following Glory. "Oh, Angel is good . . . Darla's handling it as we speak."

Spike groaned tuning out the men's conversation. Their little talk only made him more determined to do something before they all got a one way ticket to Hell.

He stood moving closer to the altar in one smooth stretch. Unnoticed, he slipped inside.

Darla slipped her arms around the lean hips, snuggling into his back.

"Tell me Angelus. What would you do to keep your beloved? And don't say anything. We all know that isn't true. If..."

He swung before she'd even finished. Snarling she shot to her feet; stopping only to wipe the blood from her lips.

"Well maybe you do have what it takes but... I could be mistaken. There was a time I thought you felt that way about me or your precious slayer."

Darla circled him slowly.

"But you never really cared about us did you? Not like you feel about him. Maybe you really will do anything *or* maybe your still all talk and no show."

Angelus turned to face her - eyes flashing.

"Oh right you'd like me to get to the point? Well how's this for a point. Your precious Powers," she hissed. "took your beloved Xander from you. They sent an angel to do it. You can never have him unless..."

Darla paused shrugging as if it was useless to continue.

"Unless."

She smiled sweetly easing closer. "Unless you get rid of the angel. Kill her and the boy's yours. No one will ever take him from you again."

"Kill an angel."

His voice was hesitant, uncertain.

Darla leaned against the balcony - briefly glancing at Angel before turning to look at the scene below.

"You couldn't... of course not. Your Angel the great warrior for the Powers That Be."

Venom soaked every word. "The same powers that deemed all your work, your suffering.... unworthy. Not even worth the love of one human male. Hardly seems like they think your worth anything."

She shrugged again, fingers trailing up his arm.

"Course it could be simpler than that... they could just simply not care."

At that moment soul and demon reached perfect agreement.

"How?" he purred.

Darla hid her grin leaning carelessly over the railing.

"It's easy really. A silver blade through the heart, at the last stroke of midnight, on the altar below us will take care of everything."

Angelus finally turned to face his sire. Brown eyes locked with blue.

"What's in it for you?"

Darla looked up silent for a moment.

"The Powers That Be lose one of their precious angels. Glory has her vengeance, and I gain a place in Hell's high court should I ever return home."

Angel nodded once before walking away.

Darla smirked. Half truths worked so much better than lies. She leaned out over the balcony, frowning as something caught her attention.

 

Spike ignored the unease digging at his nerves to crouch by the whimpering form.

Unsteady hands pulled the black hood away. Startled he fell on his ass, staring at the vision before him.

Liquid silver tears fell from glowing blue orbs as the woman began rocking frantically.

Unsure about what to do but certain he wanted her to stop crying; Spike reached out pulling her into his arms.

With a pained hiss he dropped her; growling he clutched at his skull fighting the visions crowding his mind.

As they finally faded - he stood slowly eyes focused on the woman.

"Shadow." The name was half exclamation half prayer.

When he got no answer, other than her continued whines he crouched beside her again yanking her bindings loose.

"I've got you. We'll be gone before they even know it."

The vampire was so focused on the angel he never noticed he wasn't alone anymore.

"Isn't this sweet."

Spike froze the cold voice assuring him of his death if he was lucky.

Turning he stood slowly unable to avoid the blazing red eyes.

"You should be on your knees worshipping at my feet. Instead you betray me your Mother. My own child."

Glory shook her head sadly, "Ahh... sharper than a serpent's tooth... an ungrateful child."

"Never was one for gratitude. Peaches, coulda told ya that," he said eyes desperately searching the room.

Glory snickered. "Nothing in here is going to stop me. Least of all you. I really don't want to hurt you but.... bad children must be punished."

Her hands are locked around his temples before he'd even realized she'd moved.

Glory sighed gone before his body hits the floor.

"I didn't know!" he said, voice strained but quiet.

"But how could you leave her here?"

The ex-cheerleader's voice is nowhere near quiet. Not even in the same state.

"Cordy, really. He had no way of knowing Angel has become.... a little off balance," said Wesley, trying to get her to see reason.

"Off balance? Off Balance!" Her sputtering is barely below the level of a police siren.

"Look this is not helping. We have to find her. What's in the book, Wes?"

"We're all in agreement that the woman Xander's helping is the Angel of Death and Xander was... is Loki?"

Everyone nodded.

"We can find her. The book is very clear on that and... what'll happen if we don't."

Pausing he stood abruptly as if what he had to say couldn't be done sitting.

If we don't find her.... If the Angel of Death is destroyed - all hell will literally break loose."

"Why? I mean no more death is of the good. Right?" Cordelia asked puzzled.

Wesley paused, taking his glasses off to polish them before realizing how Giles-esque the movement is.

"No, Cordy. Not good. One of Heaven's most powerful warrior's will have been lost. According to the Liber Deo, she has dominion over all souled demons as well as those souls sent to hell or lost. Without her--control reverts to the ruler of Hell and with that much power...."

"He doesn't have to stay in hell. Heavens defenses will have been devastated by the loss of Shadow and the souls she guards. SHE won't interfere because it would make HER a liar," finished Xander.

Wesley stared at him in amazement. Xander shook his head, stopping any questions he couldn'tve answered anyway.

"Why?" asked as still confused Cordelia.

"Whatever is written in church doctrine is upheld in heaven. No matter what. Dogma." said Wesley, softly.

"But..."

Xander interrupted before Cordelia could start.

"It's what gives us free will, Cordy... If she went back on her word..." Xander froze mid-pace.

"We wouldn't have been given the book if there was nothing."

Xander glanced up in time to see the look of pity and guilt flash through Wesley's eyes.

"Just say it."

Wesley sighed dropping the book onto the counter.

"The book is not just prophesies. It's a history as well."

Before Xander could ask what that meant Wesley took up his pacing.

"It tells of a bond between the Shadow of Death and the Angel of Death. If both accept the bond it joins them. Each is totally aware of the other. You'd be able to track her anywhere."

Cordelia yelped as Xander swung her in a relieved hug.

"Finally something good. So let's do this..." Xander paused in the middle of his excited ramble. "and why do I get the feeling there's a huge but."

Wesley looked away. "If you accept this bond.... You'll die - I think."

"You think!" screeched the seer.

Wesley glared at her.

"It's very fucking vague. OK."

The ex-watcher took a deep breath then continued. "Plus I'm translating from a language I only have the barest knowledge of. This is as close to an accurate translation as I can get."

"He shall open to Death. This cycle ends as it begins. Death shall claim him something, something, no more."

"Well that's not vague at all," sarcasm dripped from her tongue.

"I'm sorry Xander. If I had more time..."

"No. It's not your fault and we have no more time. I can't..." he stopped struggling to regain his calm. "Let's just do this."

"Are you..."

"Sure? Hell no! But hey I always said I wanted to be more than donut boy."

The quirky grin such much apart of him barely in evidence.

"Xander..." Cordelia whispered.

He said nothing as she bolted into his arms. They sat that way until the brunette fell asleep. Settling the seer onto the couch he turned to Wesley.

"Do it."

Church of The Lost Souls

Angelus lounged against the pew watching Drusilla tease Lindsey. He intended to give the lawyer to Spike as a gift after he'd punished him for leaving without permission.

Straightening he ignored the niggling suspicion in his mind that said Spike hadn't left... that something was wrong. He growled shoving his worries away. Everything would be fine once this was over.

"How long do we have to wait?" he snarled - prowling back and forth.

"Not long, darling. Not even an hour. In fact, Lindsey why don't you get the angel now," said Darla.

Lindsey eased away from Drusilla then hurried to the hidden door disappearing inside.

Heaven

"SOMETIMES I CAN'T STAND HUMANS."

"THEY CAN BE RATHER NOXIOUS AT TIMES."

Metatron nodded at Michael watching with worried eyes.

With HER non-interference and free will policy things were going to be fucked if something wasn't done. Sometimes he really hated that SHE played by the rules. But that was what made HER good.

"THIS COULD BE BAD."

Michael’s reply was simple.

"YES."

Somewhere in Los Angeles

She stood staring up at the night sky. Thoughts slowly made their way through a gray fog. Something important was about to happen.

Somewhere outside LA

"Hurry, Wes. Hurry."

Wesley glanced over once then smashed the pedal into the floor.

Cordelia cradled the sobbing young man as she watched the road fly by; unable to hold the strange blue gaze.

Glory chanted voice raised in ecstasy.

The blade gleamed dully as orange flames danced over its surface reflecting the fire from thousands of burning candles.

Darla held Drusilla close as the brunette vampiress mewled eagerly.

Angelus stared down at the shivering woman on the altar. Raven hair matted--blue orbs seeing nothing.

"Stop! Stop!" Xander snatched frantically at the wheel.

Wesley slammed on the brakes as the younger man scrambled to the back of the van. Cordelia stared around the empty stretch of desert.

"There's nothing here Xan. Xander? Xander?"

Cursing the two brunettes climbed out of the van, just in time to see Xander disappear over a low rise.

L. A.

The petite brunette rushed through the streets. A sense of urgency prodding her onwards as more memories cleared. Shadow. Loki. Something was terribly wrong.

Outside the Church of The Lost Souls

Scrambling to keep up Cordelia and Wesley froze at the sight of the old missionary church. It sat in the middle of nowhere as if waiting.

"Probably unearthed this damn thing too," muttered Cordelia sliding down the rocks with Wesley's help.

Catching up with Xander; they looked at each other then him.

"Hurry."

Glory's eyes snapped to Drusilla then back. She never stopped chanting.

"Come we have visitors. Mother says."

Cordelia eyed the trio and the new guy.

"Lindsey, why am I not surprised?"

"Probably because if its something Angel related our boy's got a hard on for it," muttered Wesley.

Cordelia and Xander blinked.

"What? I'm not blind or a prude."

Cordelia snickered.

"Could've fooled me."

Darla growled. "You should not be so foolishly sure. You can not stand against us."

Cordelia grinned.

"Oh us," she waved at her and Wesley.

"We're not going to do anything. Well... except watch you get your asses kicked."

Hissing the brunette vampiress launched herself at Xander.

He could feel Shadow's terror pounding through his veins as Angelus and Angel's rage beat at him. He was barely aware of the bodies he thrust aside as he rushed to stop his lover.

The watcher and the seer looked on awed. Left to move through the carnage left in Xander's wake.

"Is he?"

Wesley crouched beside Lindsey--who lay still and silent. "Yes."

"He glowed, Wes. I mean really glowed. It was... nimbusy type glowing."

Wesley nodded silently.

They watched as the piles of ash drifted off. Both remembering how Drusilla had wailed in pain after her hands had come in contact with the ivory flesh. Darla had seen too late to stop her own leap.

She too began to burn until nothing remained.

Following him into the church, Cordelia buried her face in Wesley's shoulder. Eyes avoiding the still quivering mass of whatever the green-eyed man had been.

L. A.

Her eyes flew open as the gray fog lifted completely. She had to get out of this human shell.

Lighting bathed the altar making the knife look like liquid death.

"I win," screamed Glory.

Xander flung open the doors - mouth open to scream.

Too late.

Horrified he watched the unstoppable descent of the blade.

Glory howled staring down at the knife buried in her chest.

"You ungrateful bastard!"

Angelus smirked. "I don't like being manipulated. Find someone else to be your bitch."

Glory shrieked snatching the weapon out.

"You think you've won? Not fucking likely."

The blade made an eerie whistling sound as it sliced through the air.

Angelus screamed as the blade hurtled towards Xander's heart.

The three brunettes stared in shock as Xander snatched the blade from the air. All eyes focused on Glory who clapped her hands, laughing wildly.

Nausea rolled over him and suddenly he swayed. Xander glanced down at the knife clutched in his hand. Fingers uncurling he watched as the blood seeped into the wound from the blade.

A wave of darkness swept over him as he collapsed. Despite the distance Angel reached him first. Cordelia and Wesley stood beside the couple as Glory continued to laugh. Angel and Angelus howled in grief.

"Now I might not get into Heaven with her death but I'll certainly get home. It was fun killing time... among other things with you."

Glory reached down claws wrapping around... nothing.

Eyes wide she stumbled back from the brunette woman cradling the raven haired angel in her arms.

"NO!"

Glass shattered as her scream blasted through the church.

"You weren't supposed to remember. Ever. You..."

The brunette woman simply stared at the yelling harpy.

"SHE can do anything, Glory."

The blonde shot a hate filled glare at Metatron.

"Did you really think your little amnesia spell was going to last? It only worked because of the human shell in the first place. It was only a matter of time before HER presence in the shell obliterated it."

SHE nodded decisively. HER eye's flickered shut then open. Michael appeared holding out his arms for the quivering form. After she was settled in the Archangel's arms--SHE leaned forward kissing her forehead gently.

All eyes locked onto the woman who suddenly began jerking in the Archangel's grasp except Angel's.

Inky black wings spread down the limp form's back. Michael smiled and disappeared.

"You actually thought this would work. Your father will never be allowed back in. And you Lucifia... you will be forever separated from your father's side."

Brown eyes turned glacial as SHE looked away from the devastation before HER.

Metatron hurried forward.

"Everyone not from another plane of existence or dead had better cover their ears."

Angel covered Xander, Cordelia covered Angel, Wesley covered Cordelia, and Metatron covered them all.

The brown-eyed woman threw her head back - mouth open wide. Lighting burst across the desert sky and a soundless roar filled the air.

Glory screamed as her entire being was ripped apart from the inside. Leaving nothing but a smoldering pile of ashes.

Metatron stood glancing at the mess. "Well at least it didn't get on my suit this time."

SHE snorted then disappeared.

Angel rocked the still body of his lover, lost in the silence. Cordelia sobbed in Wesley's arms.

Metatron sighed softly. "Sometimes the best ones are martyred."

Then he too disappeared.

"He hasn't moved."

Wesley glanced up briefly then went back to staring at his cup of coffee.

"He won't."

"What if..." Cordelia couldn't finish. Turning away she wandered into the living room.

Wesley sighed moving to follow her. Coffee forgotten.

"I pray they wake up. The doctor's couldn't find anything wrong with Xander."

"Maybe if we had left him there," she said half-heartedly.

"No. Angel didn't want him to spend Christmas in the hospital. Alone. Without him and... Spike."

Wesley paused shaking away the image of the two deathly still men.

"Anyway I never thought they would."

Cordelia sat up turning to him.

"Why?"

Wesley shrugged.

"Think about. If a demon is struck with a holy object - it's often hurt or even killed. Hitting something holy with blood from something as evil as Glory well..."

Cordelia nodded sadly. She got the idea.

"Somehow I feel guilty," her voice is soft, hesitant.

"Me too. But we saw The Power as well as an Archangel and a Seraphim. We can't help but feel awed and joyous even if..."

"Even if we lost, Xan." Cordelia fought back sobs.

"Loki is fine."

Cordelia screeched as she and Wesley leapt off the couch.

Gaping the ex watcher stared at the cloaked figure before him. Cordelia's mouth was closed but she wasn't much more coherent.

Shadow grinned within the confines of her formal robes. She loved humans. They were so amusing.

"W-w-who.." stuttered Wesley.

"I am the Angel of Death," she intoned while fighting the urge to giggle.

Cordelia slipped behind Wesley whose eyes threatened to fall out of his head.

"Introductions are over. Where is the brooding one?"

Cordelia pointed towards the bedroom finger shaking.

Shadow turned to go pausing before she opened the door.

"Yes, Dennis your request to be free of these grounds is granted but... Of course, you're doing well."

Entering the room she closed the door behind her quietly.

"Angelus," her voice is gentle, soothing.

Angel's eyes widened. Panicked he placed himself between his lovers and the hooded figure.

"NO! You're not taking them from me!" He lunged forward fangs dropping.

"I will kill you," he roared.

Confused she froze the enraged vampire. Brow wrinkled in thought it took her a moment to realize what the vampire saw. The Angel of Death in official gear. Blood red robes, midnight black hood complete with flaming sword.

"Oh! Oh! No no no. Angelus I'm not taking them. Loki is fine. Glory's blood damaged him but... well it's complicated. Suffice it to say SHE's using the time to talk with Loki."

Pushing away from the door she moved to Spike's side of the bed.

"Glory fucked with Spike's demon but couldn't touch his soul. That's mine. Since the two are entwined I control them both."

Leaning forward she placed her hands on the blonde's temples. Black lighting danced between her fingers.

Spike's body arched off the bed as he howled.

Angelus vamped out again growling.

"Hush, child."

The voice slid out of the hood half-scolding, half-amused.

Pulling back she stroked gently down the vampire's body. Her touch calming the now sleeping male. Moving away she placed her hands at Xander's temples as well.

"Up and at 'em, Sleepy."

Backing away she settled on the bed to wait.

Angelus alternated between growling at Shadow and cooing at his lovers.

Slowly the two men began to stir.

Cordelia and Wesley hovered outside the bedroom door. Wanting to go in but not wanting to.

Shadow grinned watching the happy reunion as the three males kissed, petted, and whispered their love.

"All right enough of this crap. I got things to do." She was on official business after all.

She paused, head tilted. "You two get in here."

Wesley and Cordelia stared at the door before timidly slipping in.

"This is how it works. I shall continue to do Loki's job while the bum stays on earth finishing his second life. Upon its end - he will resume his job as the Angel of Death. Because of the overwhelming work load he will be assigned two assistants. Namely one Spike and one Angelus."

Stunned everyone stared at the Archangel.

"The demons have been granted forgiveness. Their selfless and whole-hearted rescue of a kidnapped angel did not escape HER attention. So no returning to Hell for them. They are now permanently fixed to the souls."

Shadow shrugged.

"I on the other hand will be getting a much needed vacation while my two assistants one Cordy and one Wes take over. Not that I'm leaving Heaven because that just sucks. Toddles."

With a wave and a bright grin only Xander saw the angel disappeared.

The sat in stunned silence until Cordelia let lose a high-pitched squeal of joy. For a while nothing but screams, yells, and shouts of happiness can be heard. The happy gang soon collapsed in one large heap on Cordelia's bed.

Smiling happily, Xander snuggled between his two vampires. Spike sat up slowly, glancing down at Cordy and Wes snuggled at the bottom of the bed.

"Does anyone else think this is odd?"

His question is met with a round of nods.

"Does anyone not care?" muttered Angel.

Which was met with even more enthusiastic nods.

"Well I'd like to be clued in seein' as 'ow I missed a bit bein' skull fucked."

Xander smirked sliding up the pouting vampire.

"Ahhh.... Does 'em brain hurt?" he said leaning forward to brush a kiss across the vampire's forehead.

Spike cocked his head as if thinking.

"If I say yes does it get me more kisses or bed rest?"

Xander leaned in nipping at his earlobe.

"Seeing as how I know Shadow healed everything.... kisses and maybe more..."

"Oi me poor 'ead," cried Spike wrapping his arms around Xander.

Wesley and Cordelia looked at each other. "And that's our cue."

With a little 'ewww', the seer and watcher made their way out of the bedroom. Wesley paused at the front door.

"How about dinner, Cordy?"

Cordelia looked over at him.

"Not still with Ms. High society?"

Wesley shook his head.

"Found someone I like better. Even if she's a sarcastic little bint."

Snatching up her purse Cordelia walked past him in a huff. She paused looking over her shoulder.

"Someone has to take the starch outta you."

Wesley laughed shutting the door.

"You certainly do that."

Dennis hovered outside the door uncertain in his new freedom. Then with a low swoosh he swept off into the night.

Xander looked up from his inspection of Angel's abs.

"They're gone."

Both vampires nodded.

Spike and Xander both turned to Angel. "How? Why?"

Angel sighed.

"I never left. I just let Angelus lead. We were both all for getting rid of whoever... whatever stood between us and you. Until we looked into the angel's eyes. We couldn't do it."

Angel shrugged sheepishly.

"Normally, Angelus would have reveled in destroying such innocence. But after you... he... we couldn't."

The three sat contemplating what that meant.

"Bloody 'ell! Enough of this. So what else 'appened? Seein' as 'ow I missed the finale."

"The Power... you know that sounds so funny after seeing HER. Anyway SHE destroyed Glory. I found you in the room behind the altar and Xan wiped out Ben, Darla, Dru, and Lindsey. It seems..."

Angel smirked.

"It seems our boy here is a holy object."

Spike leered. "Always knew he had a body that ought to be worshipped."

Angel sat up yanking Xander onto his lap.

"What say... we pay homage."

Xander watched the two vampires staring at him as if he were the last chocolate bar at a meeting for Chocoholics Anonymous.

With an odd yelp, Xander found himself pinned beneath the heavier brunette vampire.

He groaned feeling the long wet slide of Angel's tongue down his throat, moaning when Spike mimicked the motion on the other side. Clothes melted away.

Large hands held him still, pressing him down while tongues darted over him. Taunting, teasing. A cool mouth tormented his nipples. Punishing them with sharp bites then soothing with a sweep of a tongue. Slender fingers found his leaking cock.

A cool grip tightened over his straining member, tugging gently as he bucked into the hand. Xander writhed between the two; his hips lifting and rolling in a rhythm old as time. He hissed feeling a large blunt finger pushing into him. He spread his legs unconsciously giving the invader greater freedom.

Angel thrust one then two large fingers in brushing his prostate. Xander mewled, wildly pushing back against the fingers. Spike eased up the undulating body; drunk with the scent of his mate's warm aroused body. He nuzzled gently at his throat. Biting, nipping then licking gently to soothe the sting.

Xander tilted his head back offering his throat. Spike growled sinking his fangs into the long length of neck, just as Angel plunged into the hot channel before him. All three males whimpered as pleasure shot through them.

Angel moved slowly, Xander's flesh tight around his hard cock. Fighting the need to bury himself deep inside the boy.

Spike pulled back after only a few sips, tongue teasing the bite, lapping eagerly at the sluggish flow of blood. Xander sobbed low in his throat reaching out he clutched at the blonde head pulling him back in.

"Please... please..."

Spike whined softly before sinking back in, his hands drifting down to grasp the slick cock. Giving in to the need to possess his lover, Angel uttered a low growl then hooked his arms under the younger man's legs.

Leaning forward, he braced himself on both hands forcing Xander's legs high and wide over his arms. He paused staring at the body of his lover. Xander lay open and vulnerable beneath him, unable to limit the depth of his thrusts and he intended to take full advantage of it.

Xander writhed. His pleas incoherent.

Spike finally pulled away from the intoxicating flow of Xander’s blood to stare up at his sire. Wet, red liquid coating his lips. Xander cried out at the loss of Spike's mouth and Angel's stillness.

Angel gave one quick nod.

Spike scrambled up and behind his sire. Angel groaned feeling the slick tongue pushing against the tight ring of muscle until it slid in. Spike thrust eagerly into his sire's ass, coating the inside with his saliva and what remained of Xander's blood.

Grunting the brunette rocked into the movements, making Xander whine at the loss. Smug, he watched his young lover twist beneath him trying uselessly to force his cock in deeper.

Giving one last lick, he plunged into his sire. Angel roared, slamming into the boy hard, and deep. Shoulders tense and straining as he hammered into him. Pleasure whipped through the vampire.

Xander shrieked... body thrashing beneath the assault. Waves of pleasure hit him making bright spots of light dance across his vision. He reached out clawing at Angel's back desperately, howling. Yanking his lover closer, he sank blunt teeth into the base of Angel's throat as Spike bit deeply into the curve of his sire's neck.

Spike tore his fangs away howling as his sire clenched tight around him ripping his orgasm from him. Angel screamed... giving one last punishing thrust as he exploded inside Xander.

Angel moaned the spasms going on and on as he emptied himself into the heat of his lover beneath him. Xander fought for air, his heart thundering wildly, collapsing as the pleasure dragged him under.

A satiated silence filled the room. All else still excepting for the beating of the human heart, the blonde's panting breath and the larger brunette's contented purring.

Spike lay boneless across Angel's back unable to move. All energy having been wiped out by the overwhelming bout of ecstasy he'd just experienced.

Angel wasn't much better but concern for his human lover gave him the strength to shift to the side before dropping to the bed in an exhausted heap.

Gentle fingers traced the still spasming hole as he sniffed for fresh blood. Pulling his finger away, he sighed in relief finding them only wet with semen. Spike caught his hands sucking the fingers clean then snuggling into the broad back.

"Xanny, ok?"

Angel nodded unable to answer as he licked softly at the fang marks.

"Oookay," Spike sighed falling asleep against his sire's back.

Angel stared down at his two young lover's then pulled Xander even closer.

Thank you. Shadow.

Epilogue:

GOOD GRIEF.

Shadow squirmed slightly.

Michael snickered.

"THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR PEEKING."

Later

Xander sat up slowly body aching in places he didn't know he had. Glancing down at the pale forms of his immortal beloveds. He grinned... he wouldn't have it any other way.

He slipped form the bed. A pair of gray sweatpants appeared hanging low on his hips as he left the bedroom.

Hey, Sha'd.

The angel smirked at her partner.

Xander shook his head.

Peeking is very naughty.

She rolled her eyes.

What you did was very naughty.

A musical giggle disturbed the silence.

Is everything...

Shadow sighed dropping onto the couch.

Just wanted to see you unofficially. Ya know?

I'm glad. So how's tricks?/

He settled on the couch beside her.

Those powers of your's didn't just disappear.

Duh.

Ha. Ha. Just watch it. SHE only gave you some of your powers back at least on earth.

Xander nodded, looking carefully at her knowing something was wrong but not what.

What about you?

Shadow shrugged.

SHE thinks I wouldn't get into so much trouble if I found someone to expend my energy on.

She pouted bottom lip sticking out invitingly.

I wasn't the one who suggested the skeeball trip.

Xander laughed quietly, not wanting to make too much noise. Neither noticed the silent entrance of his lovers.

Got plans?

She grinned wickedly.

Got plans for those goody-goody scoobies and definitely for that family of yours. Then... well... I'll see you around kay?

A hint of uncertainty ran through the statement.

Xander grinned as Shadow's eyes met his. Her body rocked with the impact of the heavier male's. Foreheads resting against each others, eyes shut, fingers laced together. The two vampires watched the silent communion.

Eventually the two parted. Shadow and Xander wearing matching grins.

Later, Loki.

Later, Sha'd.

Shadow disappeared as quietly as she'd appeared.

Angel stared at the silent male.

"You all right?"

Xander nodded peering up at him from beneath thick lashes.

"And up for round two."

Angel leered.

Spike didn't say anything, just dragged Xander back to the bedroom.

The door swung shut quietly as the scrambled onto the bed.

For a while there is nothing but the sound of flesh on flesh. Then....

"I still say this is the way to go."







The End








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