02: Fate Plays its Hand
Chapter 2: Fate Plays It’s Hand
“Buffy!” Angel finally caught up with the Slayer after tracking her through two of Sunnydale’s cemeteries. By the looks of the dust piles, she’d been having a busy night.
Lowering the stake in her hand before tucking it away, Buffy turned to him with a sunny smile lighting her features. “I haven’t seen you for a few days. Where have you been?”
“Following up on a little research,” Angel told her leaving out the fact that Cordelia had really given him an idea.
Almost giddy at the news, “So my motivational spiel actually worked?”
Angel leaned down to press a lingering kiss to her mouth. Afterward, he explained, “You challenged me to take up the task of securing my soul and now I’ve found a way to do it.”
Standing agape, Buffy started to look a little teary-eyed at the prospect. “Really?”
“It’s definitely real,” Angel held onto one of her hands. “Just a little dangerous.”
Buffy’s smile dipped. “How dangerous is dangerous?”
Cutting no corners, he answered honestly, “Deadly.”
Shaken by that unwavering truth, Buffy told him that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Angel clasped her hand tighter, bringing it up to his chest. “Maybe I’d better start at the beginning. Otherwise you’ll just try to talk me out of it.”
Buffy wanted his soul intact. It was the only way they were ever going to get to be close physically and neither of them seemed to do well under the constraints of a celibate life. This was all new to Buffy, but her Slayer instincts apparently included a robust sexual appetite. Now that she knew what she was missing, having Angel around was too much of a temptation.
“Deadly as in we face this kinda thing all the time,” she asked, “or deadly as in there is a high percentage chance that you won’t survive this? Because I’d rather suffer through this torture of being without you than not having you at all.”
Angel revealed, “As the Slayer, you’ve seen so much of the dark nature of this world as it concentrates here at the Hellmouth. This is only a cornerstone when it comes to evil in the universe. The demons we fight are nothing compared to other creatures that come into contact with us, those higher beings who have influence over life and death, either bound to our reality or interconnecting dimensions.”
The frown marring her face deepened. “What do these bigwigs have to do with your soul?”
“I actually know some of them,” Angel confessed, “the Fates and the Furies.”
“Sounds like a band from the Bronze.” Deciding to take Angel at his word, Buffy tried to forget about the dangerous part and focused on the good news. “So they can get rid of the curse?”
“I contacted the Fates and they’re willing to make my soul permanent,” Angel told her, watching the gleam of hope enter her eyes. It died just as quickly as her scowl reappeared.
Asking hesitantly, “What’s the catch?” Buffy suspected there was more to it than he was telling her.
“This isn’t just about securing my soul,” Angel walked her over to a small bench. “It is also about my getting rid of Angelus.”
Buffy was confused. She sank down onto the bench and folded her hands together in her lap before speaking. Confusion clouded her expression as she queried, “If your soul is permanent, doesn’t that end Angelus’ threat?”
“I won’t ever be Angelus again, but his influence is still right beneath the surface. There are times when I hardly know what I’m doing,” Angel confessed as he thought back to his detestable behavior in the library.
“So what’s the plan?”
Angel attempted to stick to the highlights. The Fates were mistaken by the Greco-Roman culture in the ancient Mediterranean as goddesses. For all intents and purposes, that was how they presented themselves to the human culture at the time. Now they were part of a group of higher beings known as The Powers that Be.
“They are the Moirae,” Angel told Buffy who was looking at him in shock, “charged with influencing life from its beginnings to its endings. You can also imagine their amusement in dealing with vampires. We are born as humans, exist separately as demons, die and then live again as a hybrid being until we become dust.”
“So how do you know these Fates, again?”
“Long story.” One he had no intention of telling her. Angel really didn’t want to get into it, especially as he reluctantly paid the usual price. It was the main reason Buffy hadn’t seen him. He had spent the last seventy-two hours sequestered with them.
With a pout, Buffy realized he wasn’t going to share the details.
Angel got to the part the Slayer really wasn’t going to like. “There is only one way the Fates’ powers can work to fulfill my request. They have agreed to spilt the thread of my existence into two separate beings.”
“No way!” Buffy jumped off of the bench and whirled around to face him. “They’re gonna split you apart?”
“The result will be me with a permanent soul— and also Angelus.”
Surely she hadn’t heard that correctly. Blinking in shock, she asked, “What?”
“Angelus will have his own existence.”
Stunned, Buffy paled to a ghostly white. “You can’t do that.”
“It’s the only way.”
“I-I can’t think,” Buffy felt her head spinning. She could have what she wanted with Angel, but only if Angelus was allowed to run free. She couldn’t think. “This is a lot, Angel. Too much. I have to go.”
“Buffy, wait!” Angel called after her, but the Slayer was already running at full speed into the depths of the cemetery. There was more to tell her. Much more.
The deal with the Fates was a complex one. There was never anything simple when these higher beings entered the mix. His sojourn into the other dimensional realm where the Moirae existed provided Angel the opportunity for a face-to-face chat with his evil half thanks to some temporary magick. This interview allowed the Fates to decide how they would handle Angel’s request.
The Moirae were neutral beings, aligned neither to good nor evil. Their life tapestries were woven from the threads of both. Because of that, Angel’s very existence was a delight to them as he embodied disparate counterpoints. In truth, they were all too eager to take the vampire up on his request simply to see what would happen. They created and apportioned the threads of life, but free will often changed the course of their weaving making a different picture than the one set out.
Angel was well aware of the risks by the time the three women finished creating the plan.
While Angelus fought against the stipulations placed upon him, in the end the evil vampire agreed to the deal. He wanted nothing more than to be free of the soul that bound him. It influenced his behavior and basically denied him every vampiric need. This arrangement wouldn’t be much better, but at least the soul would be gone.
Now Angel headed back to the mansion alone. He had hoped Buffy would accompany him in order to stand watch while he activated the mystical device given to him by the Fates. Though Angelus would be bound by his side of the bargain, there was no absolute guarantee that he wouldn’t try to break it.
There was no possibility of waiting. The Fates’ deal came with a time limit. Angel had to do this tonight.