There was an audible click as he hung up the phone. A frown of worry marring his features, Giles turned to Willow and said, "That was Wesley. Cordelia's had a vision; a bad one, Angel needs our help.
"You know, I still find the entire concept of that girl receiving visions from the Powers to be somewhat frightening. Anyway, where was I, oh yes, Angel. Those lawyers that tried to recruit Faith have done something far worse this time. Angel is the target - again - and he needs help."
Willow nervously fingered the book of spells that she had come to borrow. "I don't know, Giles. Things aren't exactly right between the two of them; I'm not sure how Buffy will feel about going back to LA, not after last time."
Nervously, Giles pushed his glasses back up from their precarious perch on the edge of his nose. "It's not just Buffy, Wesley wants you, me, and Xander there too. He says that Angel needs everybody."
A sarcastic voice interrupted their worried talk. "Surely, you jest. Mister tall, dark and broody needs somebody?."
Xander and Buffy stood in the doorway. He was wearing a scruffy T-shirt and jeans, having just finished helping Buffy retrieve some of Riley's gear from the ruins of the High School. Riley himself was still off being debriefed but he had been fully expectant before he left that the Army brass would let him come back to Sunnydale; just as long as he agreed to keep his mouth shut about the Initiative.
Buffy, an unreadable expression on her face, said, "He needs our help - why? Why did he call you?"
Giving Buffy one of his 'don't be dense, girl' looks, Giles said, "Angel doesn't know that Wesley called. Wesley says that Angel fully intends on dealing with Cordelia's vision - unaided by us."
Buffy spoke again. "Well then, he seems to want to stick to the arrangement. He looks after LA; we deal with Sunnydale. So why do Cordelia and Wesley want us to break the rules?"
Looking at Buffy, Giles said in a soft tone, "The lawyers have raised Darla. They're planning on sending Angel's sire after him."
He watched as all three of his self-imposed charges flinched. Buffy herself, had paled noticeably. She still had not forgotten what had almost happened to her mother at Darla's hands.
Xander and Willow met her gaze. Their eyes held their answer, they deferred to her judgement on this one. Buffy canted her head and gazed at Giles; he gave her an imperceptible nod.
Buffy said, "We go. Giles call Wesley and tell him we're on our way.
"We meet here in three hours, then we head out. Giles, you'll have supplies ready? Good."
With Buffy leading the way, she and the others made their way through the outer office of the newly renovated Angel Investigations. It had an unready appearance; cardboard boxes were piled, haphazardly to one side. Seeing that Cordelia's desk was deserted, as was Angel's office, Buffy continued on down into Angel's apartment.
Hearing people exit the lift, Cordelia glanced up from her curled position on the armchair. She lowered the glass of ice water that she had been resting on her forehead and said, in a pale imitation of her usual cheery self, "Hi Guys. Long time no see."
Buffy and co. mumbled some greetings back. Cordelia jumped unsteadily to her feet to offer her friends some refreshments. Giles, moving to assist her, said softly, "Where are Angel and Wesley? Why are you here alone?"
Distracted from her task, Cordelia mumbled, "Hmh? Oh, they'll be back in a bit. They're dealing with another Slime Demon, which makes the third this month. Angel thinks that this is the last one; I hope to God he's right. These visions are bad enough but when they come with smell-a-vision then I have to draw the line. I mean these Slime Demons - they reek! Personal cleanliness seems to be something that's eluded their entire race!"
Giles and Willow blinked slowly, emerging from their trip to the Cordy Zone. Xander grinned fondly, amazingly enough, he'd actually missed Cordelia's running commentaries about life.
Buffy frowned. "Enough! We're here for one reason only: Darla.
"Angel may have apologised for his attitude toward me the last time I was here and I may have admitted my share of culpability but that doesn't change the fact that we agreed to stay out of each other's way. Riley would have a fit if he knew we were here. I want this settled before he gets back."
Cordelia glared at Buffy. "He still doesn't know that we called for you and I can tell you now he's not gonna be happy about it!
"It takes days for him to get back to normal after your visits, so just shut up! You hurt him and I'll make you regret it if it's the last thing that I do."
Disbelief in her tone, Buffy said, "Me - hurt him? Cordelia have you gone crazy? You know our history..."
"...And you don't know all of it, so just take care, do you hear me?"
Buffy continued to mutter under her breath that Cordelia was crazy, that she didn't have time for this, that she had to get back to Sunnydale before Riley found out about their little trip. Cordelia listened and listened and, finally, she slapped the Slayer in the face.
Ignoring the astonished stares of Giles, Xander and Willow, she hissed, "He gave up everything for you!
"The only reason I've listened to you so far is because you can't remember it! I've had enough! You will hear this.
"The first time you came to see him the Mora Demon attacked. Do you remember?
"What you don't remember is what really happened next. Angel didn't kill it the first time - it got away. You and he went into the sewers to track it. There was a fight, some of its blood mixed with Angel's and it made him human."
With an unbelieving expression on her face, Buffy listened.
"You and he were together and happy for an entire day and night. If you don't believe me then tell me why Angel keeps chocolate and peanut butter in his cupboards but never touches them? He just says that Buffy was right; it's unfair now that he knows about the taste.
"Eventually, he realised that it couldn't be. How did Doyle say that he had put it? You didn't belong to each other; you belonged in the world fighting the coming darkness.
"He went to the Oracles and begged with them to turn him back. There was only one way for them to do that, they took back the day. The entire previous twenty-fours hours was wiped from memory; the only person that knew or remembered what had happened was Angel. It was the only way to prevent the same events repeating.
"He killed the demon before its blood mixed with his. You left remembering none of what you had shared. He can't forget it though. He copes with that burden every day, along with all his others. Wesley and I help him in any way we can. We help him help the lost souls here in LA, Wesley and I both know that our task is to take care of Angel's.
"You are here to help. That's all. Try not to hurt him any more than you already have. You'll go back to your new life. Angel will have to deal with your impact in his, again."
Buffy didn't say anything; she just wiped away the tear that had slowly made its way down her cheek.
Angel and Wesley returned a few minutes later. The vampire looked absolutely stunned to see his visitors. He turned to Wesley and murmured, "What have you two done?"
Wesley, looking him straight in the eye, said, "What we had to."
Buffy looked at Angel and gave a determinedly bright smile. "They told us about Darla, we're here to help."