The angel chronicles vol.., p.13
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       The Angel Chronicles, Vol. 3, p.13

           Nancy Holder
 
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  He shut his eyes as Buffy moved past him and headed up the stairs. “Oh, man. Poor Giles.”

  Willow walked over to the empty weapons chest. “Look. All his weapons are gone.”

  Cordelia came up beside her and glanced inside as well. “But I thought he kept his weapons at the library?”

  “No. Those are his everyday weapons.” Xander looked up from the sketch. “These were his ‘good’ weapons. The ones he breaks out when company comes to visit.”

  Buffy came down the stairs and paused on the landing.

  Willow said, “So he’s not here?”

  “Well, then, where is he?” Cordelia asked.

  “He’ll go to wherever Angel is,” Buffy said flatly.

  Willow looked at Buffy. “That means the factory, right?”

  “So Giles is going to try to kill Angel, then,” Cordelia said.

  Xander’s voice was acid and bitter. “Well, it’s about time somebody did.”

  “Xander,” Willow said, shocked.

  “I’m sorry. But let’s not forget that I hated Angel long before you guys jumped on the bandwagon. So I think I deserve something for not saying ‘I told you so’ long before now. And if Giles wants to go after the fiend,” he turned to Buffy, as if he wanted to make sure she heard him use the word, “that murdered his girlfriend, I say, ‘Faster, pussycat. Kill. Kill.’ ”

  Buffy said simply, “You’re right.”

  Xander did not take the moment to garner credit. His voice was low and calm as he said, “Thank you.”

  Buffy came the rest of the way down the stairs. “There’s only one thing wrong with Giles’s little revenge scenario.”

  “And what’s that?” Xander asked, in a slightly challenging tone.

  Buffy’s face clouded with worry.

  “It’s going to get him killed.”

  * * *

  Angelus was loving the look of disbelief and anger on Spike’s face.

  “Are you insane? We’re supposed to kill the girl, not leave gag gifts in her friends’ beds.”

  With Sunshine under her arm, Dru leapt to Angelus’s defense. Carefully, diplomatically, she said, “But, Spike, the bad teacher was going to restore Angel’s soul.”

  “What if she did?” Spike shrugged. “If you ask me, I find myself preferring the old, Buffy-whipped Angelus. Because this new improved one is not playing with a full sack.”

  Spike pressed on, staring at Angelus while he spoke to Dru. “Hey, I love a good slaughter as much as the next bloke, but his little pranks will only leave us with one incredibly brassed-off Slayer.”

  “Don’t worry, Roller Boy,” Angelus bit off. He folded his arms across his chest. “I’ve got everything under control.”

  Almost before the words were out of his mouth, a Molotov cocktail hit the table and burst into roaring flame. Angelus and Dru ran past the table and the wooden high-back chairs, Spike wheeling up behind.

  As they fled, an arrow pierced Angelus’s shoulder. Gritting his teeth from the pain, he stopped to pull it out. He looked up to see Rupert Giles advancing calmly on him, a baseball bat in his hand. The human dipped the bat into the fire and kept advancing. Before Angelus had time to defend himself, the Watcher hit him square in the face with the flaming bat, then backhanded him the other way.

  “Geez, whatever happened to wooden stakes?” Angelus got out, grimacing as he hunched over in pain. Giles slammed the bat down on him yet again.

  Dru bolted forward to help, but Spike wrapped his hand around her forearm and said, “Ah-ahhh. No fair going into the ring unless he tags you first.”

  The Watcher got off a half-dozen more blows before Angelus got up to his feet, rose to his full height, and blocked the downward arc of the bat. He grabbed Giles by the throat and dangled him above the floor. The baseball bat clattered to the floor as Giles lost consciousness.

  “All right, you’ve had your fun,” Angelus raged. “But you know what it’s time for now?”

  Suddenly he was pulled away and thrown backward. Then, as Buffy kicked him brutally in the jaw, she shouted, “My fun.”

  Though their movements were masked by spreading fire, Angelus was aware that Dru and Spike were making their escape as the Slayer threw him to his knees. She got in one more strong kick before he recovered and flung her over his shoulder. While she steadied herself, he ran up the stairs. Grabbing a metal reinforcing rod, she tripped him and he began to slide back down the stairs.

  He kicked her and she fell backward. He got up the stairs and headed for the gangway. But she jumped up some wooden crates and met him on the catwalk.

  The fire was growing below them as he swung at her. Flames glowed on the walls. She dodged and clipped him behind his knee. He grunted and collapsed, and while he was down, she looped a rope around his neck and slammed him from side to side, battering him mercilessly. Then she slammed her foot into his midsection and rammed him backward. As he got to his feet, she leaped up, held on to a pipe, and kicked him in the chest again.

  He staggered and fell, taking barrels and pipes with him. The flames rose up, adding an interesting new dimension to their battle. She was most definitely gaining the upper hand.

  He charged her again and she threw him down again, and started whaling on him.

  Didn’t I remind Spike she’s the strongest Slayer we’ve ever faced? he thought. She’s going to kill me if I don’t get away from her.

  But she hasn’t been paying attention to the fire.

  He laughed as if it were all a big game and said, “Are you going to let your old man just burn?”

  * * *

  Buffy ticked her glance from Angel to the bottom level of the burning factory. The flames were rushing toward Giles, who lay unconscious on the floor.

  Oh, no, she thought. The decision was too horrible, too unfair: Angelus’s life for Giles’s. If she didn’t drag Giles out of the way, he would surely die.

  If she didn’t kill Angelus now, she might never get another chance. And more people would definitely die. He had already threatened everyone she loved. And keep-out spells in houses were not enough. Any time any of them went outside in the dark, he might attack. Buffy couldn’t be everywhere, protecting everybody. Sooner or later, he’ll kill someone.

  But Giles is going to die now, if I don’t save him . . .

  Angelus took advantage of her distraction to toss her over the side. She caught herself, then jumped the rest of the way down. As Angelus got away, she forced Giles to his feet and half-carried, half-dragged him out of the building.

  The fresh air roused him. “Why did you come here?” he shouted at her, pushing her away. “This wasn’t your fight!”

  Her answer was a solid roundhouse to his jaw. He collapsed facedown on the ground. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” she screamed at him.

  The hard tears came. She fell down beside him, clinging to him as they both wept. He shook with his grief and rage; she with her desperation, hopelessness, and fear.

  And sorrow for him.

  Her very deep sorrow.

  “You can’t leave me.” It was a plea. “I can’t do this alone.”

  Together, they wept.

  * * *

  Much later, Giles slowly climbed the steps to his apartment. He paused at the door, and pulled away the yellow police tape.

  Angelus watched, and thought, It hurts sometimes, more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow . . . empty rooms . . . shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.

  * * *

  It was a cold, gray day. In the cemetery, leaves floated on a small pond of gray water not far from Jenny Calendar’s gravestone. Leaves had fluttered down on it as well, like the butterfly kisses Giles had once dreamed of brushing against her temples and cheeks.

  He knelt on one knee, as one might when proposing marriage, and laid roses on the rectangle of sod newly draped over the freshly dug grave. For a moment, he stayed there,
and there was something noble in his grief. Something strong.

  It communicated itself to Buffy.

  He rose and put his hand in the pocket of his raincoat. “In my years as Watcher, I’ve buried too many people. Jenny was the first one I loved.”

  Beside him, in her gray raincoat and boots, Buffy said with all her heart, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t kill him for you . . . for her . . . when I had the chance.”

  They both looked down at the simple headstone. Jennifer Calendar, was all it said. Nothing of Janna. Nothing of curses and betrayals.

  Nothing of passion.

  “I wasn’t ready,” Buffy admitted, “but I think I finally am.”

  * * *

  Miss Calendar’s computer science students were utterly silent when Willow walked in, her notebook and text in her arms. She said, a bit shyly, “Hi. Principal Snyder has asked me to fill in for Miss Calendar until the new computer science teacher arrives. So I’m just going to stick to the lesson plan she left.”

  She walked around the desk and put down her things.

  * * *

  At the gravesite, Buffy said to Giles, “I can’t hold on to the past any more. Angel is gone. Nothing’s ever going to bring him back.”

  * * *

  And in Willow’s computer science classroom, she unknowingly knocked a yellow diskette off the desk. Sliding between the desk and the portable storage cart Miss Calendar had drawn up beside it, the disk clattered to the floor.

  It rested there, at an angle.

  Waiting.

  THE CHRONICLES: EPILOGUE

  Hands in the pockets of his black duster, Angelus studied the darkened window of the Slayer’s bedroom on the second floor of the house on Revello Drive. The moon glowed on his pale face and made hollows in his cheeks and around his eyes.

  “Buffy,” he whispered. “I will taunt and torment you. I will spend my nights hounding you. I will make your life a living hell, and you’ll wish I had killed you to put you out of your misery.”

  In the dark night, he smiled, wondering if she was actually able to sleep any more. If her fear and anger kept her up nights. Her eyes open, staring into the dark, her heart thudding thickly. Tears building, spilling. Because of him.

  His mind swam with vivid, detailed images of the Chosen One. Buffy, smiling at him. Buffy, weeping.

  Buffy.

  I will break her, he thought, clenching his fists, savoring the times that were to come. Drawing out her torment. Hurting her beyond bearing, over and over again. Making sure she never stopped thinking about what he could do, what he would do, to everyone she loved.

  To her.

  That was far more sublime than simply snuffing out her existence. Destruction versus a quick, clean death, such as he had given Jenny Calendar.

  Spike didn’t understand. Spike couldn’t understand. What did a weakling like Roller Boy know about hatred?

  About passion?

  Angelus stared at the window. He stood there for hours, until the sun threatened him.

  Even then, he almost stayed, seething, unable to stop staring at the window of her bedroom.

  That’s how much I hate her—

  With a passion.

  That’s what he told himself, as he whirled on his heel and vanished into the darkness.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Four-time Bram Stoker Award winner Nancy Holder has sold forty novels and over two hundred short stories, articles, and essays. Her work has appeared on the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Amazon.com bestseller lists. Alone and with her frequent collaborator, Christopher Golden, she has written a dozen Buffy the Vampire Slayer projects, including The Watcher’s Guide and Immortal, the first Buffy hardcover novel, due out for Halloween 1999. She has also written several short stories with Golden, and appears in two of the anthologies he edited, including the award-winning CUT!: Horror Writers on Horror Film.

  Holder’s work has been translated into two dozen languages, and she has also written comic books, game fiction, and television commercials. She is currently completing the last volume of a science fiction trilogy called Gambler’s Star for Avon Books.

  A graduate of the University of California at San Diego, she lives in San Diego with her husband, Wayne, and their daughter, Belle.

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  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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  Nancy Holder, The Angel Chronicles, Vol. 3

 


 

 
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