Soulbound – Book 2: Chapter 12


The Connections Trilogy_Soulbound_2


Chapter 12

Cordelia slammed the office door, following Doyle down to Angel’s empty apartment. Not only had her date with Pierce been mind-numbingly boring, but he turned out to be a coward in the worst way. He couldn’t even take out one measly vampire that attacked them when he was dropping her off. It was left for Doyle to save her. Pierce screamed like a major sissy boy before driving off, deserting his date and leaving her to the vicious killer. Fortunately, Doyle arrived in the nick of time to dust the creature.

“So where is our tall, dark and broody boss?” Cordelia asked as she removed he shoes and curled up on the couch.

Sitting down on one of the living room chairs, Doyle gave her a look. Why did he have to be the one to tell her? “Out.”

“On a job— or a mission?” Cordelia’s implication was that one resulted in payment. The other didn’t.

“A mission,” he clarified. “Just don’t expect him back right away.”

Cordelia propped herself up on the couch pillows. “What’s that supposed to mean? He had better be back soon. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.”

“Thanksgiving?” Doyle had forgotten about that.

“Yeah! You know the meal where everyone sits down together and gives thanks for all the good things that have happened to them in the past year? Then everyone falls into an endorphin-induced turkey coma?”

Doyle glanced toward the stairs. Escape was the only way to get out of this, but he knew that he’d get it later if Cordelia found out that he had gotten out of telling her the truth.

“I think I remember hearing about that,” he joked.

“It’s our first major holiday together— you, me and Angel.” Cordelia didn’t count this past Halloween. “I have plans for us.”

He had to ask. “Who’s doing the cooking?”

“Well, duh!” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “I was gonna make Angel do it. He’s the only one who cooks around here, even if he doesn’t eat it himself.”

“I don’t know that scrambled eggs and toast qualify,” Doyle pointed out. “He just didn’t want you to starve while you were living here.”

“The turkey is already cooked,” she explained her genius. “Just needs to be heated. It’s all those other holiday goodies that I need help with.”

Doyle promised to help her. “If nothing else, we can have cold turkey sandwiches.”

Glowering at the idea, Cordelia demanded to know what vision had sent Angel off to fight the good fight. Suddenly curious to see her reaction, Doyle told her point blank. “Angel is in Sunnydale.”

“What?!”

“Angel is—”

“I heard you the first time,” Cordy sat up straight, placing her feet back on the floor with her hands gripping the couch cushions on either side of her. She felt like her whole body was stinging in reaction to the news. “He’s with Buffy— for Thanksgiving.”

“No. I told you, Cordy,” Doyle rushed to remind her. “There was a mission. Besides, I don’t think vampires celebrate human holidays, especially ones where the rituals involve gorging yourself of solid food.”

Cordelia stopped staring at her painted toenails to look at the seer. “Hah! Angel does so celebrate holidays— in his own, creepy vampire way. He celebrates Valentines Day a lot. Why should Thanksgiving be any different? Except for the maiming and killing part.”

That thought disturbed Doyle who had no clue what she was talking about. Sounded like something from the vampire’s days as Angelus.

“Why go to Sunnydale now?” Cordelia’s lower lip pooched out in just the slighted hint of a pout. “It wasn’t because of my date, was it?”

Doyle barely stopped himself from laughing. That would not have gone over too well. It always amazed him how she could take nearly any situation and twist it into this Cordy-centric version of itself. The whole world revolved around this girl. With an inner smile, Doyle admitted he felt that way too.

“I had a vision from the PTB. Buffy is in danger. She’s the victim, being attacked by some kind of evil.”

His lame description was noted. “First off, Buffy Summers is always in danger. Hello, Slayer! And— evil in Sunnydale? Pfft! No big surprise there. You get evil with your Cheerios in the morning.”

Growing up on a Hellmouth had given Cordelia a unique perspective on the world, he realized. That didn’t change the fact that he already knew what was driving this whole conversation. Cordy was jealous. It was gnawing at her, though Doyle doubted she knew what it was.

“Couldn’t Angel have sent an email about your vision?” Cordy asked. “Or called? I’m almost certain we paid our telephone bill this month.”

“It’s not that simple. My vision was vague, not like the ones I get where I could tell you what color underwear people are wearing.”

Eew!

Doyle continued, interested in testing this jealousy theory. “Why are you so riled up?”

“I’m not riled up!” Hazel eyes flashed in his direction. Then admitting to herself that she was upset, Cordelia realized that she felt like scratching somebody’s eyes out. She’s just not certain whether Buffy or Angel would get it first. “Let Buffy have him tomorrow. Just as long as he comes back. You do think he’ll come back, don’t you, Doyle?”

A look of doubt flashed across her beautiful face. “Angel has made a life here in Los Angeles— with us and Angel Investigations. He has a calling, a mission from the Powers that Be.”

“You think that will matter if Buffy crooks her little finger at him?”

Shrugging, Doyle told her, “Would it matter to you? If Angel didn’t come back, would it matter?”

“Sure it would. I like working with you clowns.” She grinned at his grumpy response to her description. “Of course, I’ve just been biding my time here waiting for my big break. I almost had that last audition.”

Cordelia’s smile dimmed just a bit, “But I’d miss seeing you everyday— and Angel.”

“Angel?” The soft Irish brogue prompted for more.

“He’ll be back, Doyle. Buffy can have him for Thanksgiving, but if he deserts me— us again for Christmas, he gonna get his ass kicked.”

Our Champion’s return to the City of Angels smacks of the unresolved. The day of thanks comes to an end with the eyes of the Chosen One closed to his presence. The portents indicate danger and all signs show that our Champion will bring his quest for the crystal to us.

Winding up the old mantle clock, after setting it to the current time of 8:53, Angel placed it back on his desk. The angle looked off. He checked it with a pencil, watching it roll down the surface. He was oblivious to the pair watching him from the outer office.

Leaning forward onto the window ledge looking in, Cordelia asked Doyle, “When did he get back?”

It was the day after Thanksgiving. Despite the vampire’s absence, they had a terrific time without him. Yeah, Cordy thought. Great.

Doyle told her, “Late last night.”

“And?”

“Ah, he seemed fine.”

Nudging him with her elbow, Cordelia knew he was hedging. Fine? How was that even possible?

“He saw Buffy. He was in Sunnydale tracking her and that thingamajig you saw in your vision.”

Glancing back at Angel, she decided he looked less broody than usual. “Where is the crabby scowl, the morbid gloom?”

Doyle stared. The vamp didn’t look like he was rolling with laughter or floating on Cloud Nine either.

Cordelia turned to the seer who appeared less than impressed with her concern. “This means that it cut deeper than usual. Batten down the hatches, here comes Hurricane Buffy.”

Though he did not doubt that Angel had a dark and dreary walk down Memory Lane, Doyle figured that Cordy’s assessment of the situation was weighted by her own false memories. She had no idea about Angel’s history with Buffy, just a patched up romance pieced together by a spell.

Angel had told him he still had feelings for the Slayer, but Doyle doubted they compared to the love he had for his mate. Maybe Doyle was wrong about that, but he couldn’t imagine anyone choosing the little blonde over Cordelia. But then, Cordelia always said that Angel had a thing for blondes.

“You think?” Doyle was curious. After everything Angel had told him, he was hoping that he would resolve this whole Buffy and Cordy thing and stick to one girl for a change. “Maybe he’s over her.”

With a deep sigh, Cordelia patted him on the shoulder. “You have so much to learn little Irish man,”

Turning back toward the window where just moments ago Cordelia had surreptitiously been eyeing the way Angel’s black pants fit over his tight male bottom, her gaze turned to horror as she saw the vampire take a stake out his desk drawer testing its tip with his finger.

“Oh, my God!” Gasping, Cordy ran into the office with Doyle on her heels. “Don’t do it, Angel!”

Doyle had no idea how right Cordelia was about this Hurricane Buffy phenomenon. Less than three days in her presence and the vampire was planning to stake himself. “Listen to me, man. It’s not worth it.”

“It’s not?”

Edging toward the desk, Cordy felt her breath catch in her throat. No, no, no. Better that Buffy keep him in Sunnydale than let this happen. “You can’t let her get to you like this.”

The stake was still at chest level. Doyle gulped down at the sight of it. He never imagined that the vampire could be so distraught over the Slayer. Holding out a hand, “Why don’t you let me have that?”

“Because I need it to level my desk.” Those two were acting very strangely. Angel bent down to stick the tip of the stake under one of the legs of the desk. “The floor is uneven.”

Smirking, Angel realized, “You two thought—”

“Doyle did,” Cordy piped in before Angel could finish. “You know how he jumps to conclusions. Just ‘cause you saw Buffy.”

She waved the idea off then returned her hand to her hips. Angel followed the path of the hand, noting that her tiny waist was bared by a midriff halter top and a low hip-hugging denim skirt. The sight of her navel made him want to sink onto his knees at her feet to delve his tongue into its winking center.

“It wasn’t a social call,” Doyle reminded her. Now that Angel was back and not planning to dust himself, he had to give the vamp a little male support.

Angel’s attention slipped back up to Cordelia’s face, pausing ever so slightly at the round curves of her breasts pressing against the top that left both shoulders and stomach bare. He loved that top. The fact that he was staring wasn’t entirely lost on Cordy, but she figured the vampire was just trying to weasel out of the conversation.

“Don’t tell me—,” she gave him an opening, “you were only there to protect her. You stayed out of sight like a good little vamp. Buffy with all of her powerful Slayer senses didn’t even know you were there.”

“Uh— right.” How did she know that? Sometimes, Cordelia ability to sense the obvious was beyond him.

Lifting her hand in the air, Cordy then slapped it back down on her hip. “So what’s the real deal?”

“That was it. I avoided her,” Angel admitted.

“Really?”

Angel nodded, but he had to be honest. “Buffy will always be a part of me and that will never change.”

“But she’s human,” Doyle brought up Angel’s old argument about Cordelia and turned it on him, just to bring up a point. “You’re not.”

Frowning, Angel looked down for an instant. Then he caught Cordelia’s gaze. “No, I’m not. And that’s never going to change. We said our goodbyes months ago, no need to stir any of this up.”

Cordelia really, really didn’t want to bring this up, but she was trying hard to be Angel’s friend. “You don’t want to ‘stir’, but if my ex came to town and was all stalking me in the shadows and then left and then didn’t even say ‘hello’ I’d be—”

From the open door, Buffy Summers finished, “A little upset. Wouldn’t you?”

Angel was agape at the sight of the Slayer standing in his office. How did she get in without him noticing? Moreover, how did she know to come? Had Willow broken her word— again?

Like him, Buffy was dressed completely in black, looking like his matched pair. Her blonde hair was long, light and shining against the soft, sun-kissed curve of her cheeks. God, she was so beautiful.

Beautiful and quiet in her anger, he realized. Angel supposed she had a right to that anger, finding out the truth this way.

“Buffy!” Gasping in shock, Cordelia couldn’t believe that she was seeing this. Though Cordelia never really liked the blonde, she never hated her either. “Buffy, you’re here in town. What brings you to—?”

Cutting her off, Buffy wasn’t talking to Cordelia when she gave her answer, but to Angel. “I came to see my father. Thought I’d stop by.”

Angel’s gaze darted over to Cordy and Doyle as he wondered what they were thinking of all this. His mate was looking— either jealous or angry. He couldn’t tell. Either one could be bad news. Giving Doyle a pointed stare, Angel hinted that it might be best to leave and take Cordy with him.

“Uh—,” Doyle finally got it. Moving closer to the door, he held out his hand. “Cordelia, why don’t we take in a movie? Say— the director’s cut of the Titanic? I think Buffy and Angel have some issues to resolve.”

Cordelia looked at Buffy’s rigid posture and Angel’s uncomfortable expression. Lifting his dark brown eyes to hers, he waited in silence. The vampire kept looking deep, so deep he seemed to be staring into her soul. Angel said nothing, obviously intending to let Doyle take her away.

Feeling strangely angry by the sudden arrival of the Slayer just when Cordelia started to think Angel might have used this visit to say goodbye, she realized that it would never be over. Unless—

“Doyle is right. You have issues. Good luck with that.” Cordelia took hold of Doyle’s hand and let her lead him from the building.

Left alone, Buffy and Angel suffered through a few awkward seconds before the vampire remembered his manners. “Can I get you anything?”

“An explanation,” countered Buffy still standing stiff. “Who do you think you are coming to my town and following me around behind my back?”

“I’m— sorry?”

“Angel, is this some new torture you’ve cooked up for me?”

He never wanted that. Angelus had provided Buffy enough mental grief to last her a lifetime. “No, I don’t want to torment you.”

“What is it? You can see me, but I can’t see you? What are we playing here?”

Buffy was obviously incensed at his failure to come and see her. Frankly, this was just the kind of thing Angel had been avoiding. Not to mention the likelihood of having to meet up with her hulking lover-boy.

“We’re not playing at anything,” Angel paced around to sit back on the edge of the desk, his long legs extended out in front of him. “I wrestled with this decision.”

Huffing, Buffy commented accusingly, “Which you made without me.”

“I tried to do what I thought was right,” he crossed his arms over his chest. “You don’t understand. It’s complicated how this all happened. It’s kind of a very long story.”

He’d always told Buffy the truth. Could he do it now?

Buffy never gave him the chance to tell her. She pointedly told him how, “Your new sidekick had a vision, I was in it, you came to Sunnydale.”

Nope. Couldn’t tell her the truth just yet. She made it so easy to back out of it by giving him the perfect opening. “Okay. So I guess it’s a short story.”

Shaking her blond head in disbelief at his lame attempt at humor during this serious discussion, Buffy added, “You didn’t feel I was important enough to even tell me you were there.”

Giving her a look he hoped conveyed his feelings Angel felt an accompanying tightness in his chest. This whole conversation was uncomfortable. “I’m trying to explain. It’s because I feel you’re important that I didn’t tell you.”

The logic did not compute. “I’m a big girl now, Angel. I’m not in High School anymore. A lot has happened in my life since you left.”

Big hulking off-the-farm boyfriend, Angel tried to quell his rising jealousy at the thought. No matter his feelings. No matter his future with Buffy— or without her, it would always be the same. He was a vampire, her first lover, and she was his first love.

“I know.” Angel tried to be fair. “I respect that.”

“And I don’t need you skulking around trying to protect me,” Buffy added for good measure. Then said, “Unless, of course, I’m in some gigantic fight to the death, which—
I was last night. That was you helping me, wasn’t it?”

With a one-sided curl of his mouth, Angel admitted dryly. “I was in the neighborhood— skulking.”

Without warning an armored demon broke through the glass window shattering it and sending pieces flying across the room. The window blinds were tossed upward in a wide arc, but settled back over the open hole to block the sun. Both Slayer and vampire instantly readied themselves for battle.

“Friend of yours?” Buffy quipped.

Dodging the green demon’s sword thrusts, she spotted the stake Angel had used to prop up his desk. Buffy acrobatically and snapped it into her hand. The monster wasn’t a vampire, but stake wounds could still do serious damage in a pinch. When Angel’s kick sent the samurai-garbed demon backpedaling into the wall, it dropped its long sword to the ground.

“Never— saw it before.”

Rolling, Angel picked up the sword thrusting it deeply into the creature’s belly, evoking a cry from its throat. Florescent green blood dripped down the surface of the sword. Still not done, the demon made one last effort by swiping a second sword at Buffy. With amazing speed, the Slayer avoided the attack as she flipped over and landed on Angel who was still on the floor.

The demon pulled itself off the sword impaling it and after turning it ran back to the broken window and jumped through. There was no instantaneous effort to follow as Buffy and Angel realized that their firm bodies were flush against each other. Both were staring into the other’s eyes with a surprised reaction.

Untangling themselves, they got up. Buffy felt a little awkward, but it was obvious that they just couldn’t let the creature escape after it interrupted their conversation. “It was rude. We should go kill it.”

Angel nodded. “I’m free.”

The vampire tracked the demon through the sewers it had entered from the sidewalk. Concluding that it was headed toward the ocean, Angel led her down one of two tunnels that branched off. Buffy scrunched her nose at the thought that he could track the beast just by scenting its blood.

“Great. That’s a handy skill.”

He had momentarily forgotten that Buffy’s memories would have changed too. The fact of the matter was, only after she got closer to Cordelia did Buffy really bother to get to know him as a vampire.

Buffy failed to notice that he had stopped to stare at her. “Maybe if your crack staff hadn’t run off at the first sign of trouble they could have helped us research. Find out what this thing is and why it wants to kill us.”

Crack staff? They were so much more than that, not that Buffy seemed to care. Angel was about to tell her as much when a scampering rat crossed their paths, distracting them.

They continued to hunt the demon. Angel ran his hand along a corner, touching the substance on the wall to verify its nature. The demon’s blood.

Continuing to talk, Buffy and Angel moved further down the tunnel, but did not spot their quarry. The vampire was falling back a bit looking a little dizzy. “I feel weird.”

He shook it off. Upon reaching a ladder leading up to the surface, Buffy suggested that the demon warrior might have headed above ground.

“Into the light?” Angel couldn’t go there.

Taking hold of the ladder and moving up two steps, Buffy look down at him with a puzzled expression. A quick glance at his hands confirmed her suspicions. No ring. “Where is the Gem of Amarra?”

“Destroyed it,” Angel sent her a shrug.

Buffy gaped at him in blinking astonishment. “What?!”

“Yeah. That was pretty much Cordy’s reaction too.”

“For once, I have to agree with her.” Buffy sounded almost amused by the irony. Agree with Cordelia? “Never thought that would happen.”

“Well my decision— that’s another long story.”

“Huh. We’ll talk about it later.”

Agreeing to split up, Angel gave Buffy directions to The Lone Bar, a demon haunt located at Second near Beach. “Demons go there sometimes when they need to get patched up.”

It wasn’t long after the Slayer’s departure that Angel came face to face with his prey. The demon attacked, apparently not wounded as direly as it initially appeared. Its first move cut a deep slice through Angel’s right hand leaving dark pooling blood welling to the surface.

Using his battle-axe, Angel fought the demon. In a furious battle, each struggled for supremacy. Finally, the vampire grabbed the demon’s sword hand turning it to stab in in the heart with its own sword. The creature shrieked, glaring at it with its dark eyes. As the demon fell back, Angel noted that its glowing blood now covered the cut on his right hand.

As he watched, the green blood swirled into the deep gash instantly healing it. Then an instant later, the glow raced up the length of his arm and swept through the rest of his body. Collapsing after a choked cry, Angel struggled to his knees gasping for air as the sound of his own heartbeat thumped in his ears.

In disbelief at what he was sensing, Angel stared down at his palm. He moved it to the left side of his chest where an odd thump began a rhythmic beat. It couldn’t be, but it was unmistakable. Daring to speak his thoughts, wonder sounded in his voice as he uttered, “I’m alive.”

Doyle and Cordelia entered Angel’s office to discover the destruction. The seer assumed there had been an attack, but Cordy cautioned him against that line of thinking.

“These are the usual aftermath of the Angel and Buffy Show,” Cordy explained as though she had lots of experience in the matter. “Destructo Girl strikes again! First they talk out their differences and then they punch them out.”

Doyle had seen no sign of either of them since returning. They’d opted for cappuccino instead of the movie. He wondered just how violent these little lover’s spats got when he caught sight of a large pile of dust on the floor. Pointing it out to Cordelia, he asked, “Is that what I think it is?”

Running to the spot, Cordy was on the floor in a flash examining what she feared might be Angel’s dusty remains. “Oh. My bad! I forgot to dust under the carpet.”

Heading out of the back office, Cordy and Doyle were just in time to see Angel walking in through the front door looking dazed. Cordelia saw that he was alone. “Angel. Are you okay?”

It was Doyle that noticed first. “It’s daylight, Cordelia. He came through the front door. Angel is alive!”

“Alive?”

There was a sound of wonder in her voice as she watched Angel walk over to the open windows to stare up at the sun. This was ten times— no, a thousand times better than seeing him stand in the sunshine with the Ring of Amarra on his finger.

Omigod! Angel was human!

Doyle asked, “What the hell happened, man? This is— wonderful.”

Angel slowly explained about the demon attack. “I tracked it— and killed it. Some of its blood mixed with mine.”

“So you wound up with a pulse,” Doyle actually checked it.

“Yeah. I’m mortal now,” Angel perked up at the idea now that the initial shock was over. Then, staring toward Cordelia, he added, “I have a mortal body.”

Angel lunged— at the mini-fridge behind Cordy. He nibbled and gnawed his way through bits of everything in sight. With his mouth full, he was still at it, delighting in the way the food tasted on his tongue. Vampire taste buds were so different than human ones.

“Oh my God! Food— this is so unbelievable.”

Gaping at him, Doyle and Cordelia could only wonder at his feelings. They were far too focused on their own joy at seeing his. “I forgot how good it all tastes when you’re alive.”

Cordelia’s smile was gathering power, now showing hints of glinting teeth. “Yeah. And they didn’t even have cookie-dough-fudge-mint-chip when you were alive.”

That was one of Cordy’s favorites. She used to like to eat that in bed. Said he helped to stop it from melting so fast when she wanted to lick it off him. “Mmm, I want some! Can you get that?”

“It’ll go straight to your thighs,” she warned merrily.

Doyle wasn’t certain what was going on with the look on Angel’s face, but he had to remind the vamp— no— former-vampire that there was more to becoming human than a food binge. “We have to figure out what happened. There has to be something in one of those books of yours on this demon and how its blood made you human again.”

They were already pulling out research material when Cordelia asked, “Where is Buffy?”

Angel had forgotten about her in his haze. “She’s in Santa Monica near the Lone Star.”

Further explanation did not come as Angel gripped his stomach in pain. “Cordy, would you find Buffy? Tell her I killed the demon.”

Cordelia glanced at Doyle for a second, before telling Angel, “Okay.”

That was all she said despite the questions about what might happen next. Maybe that was obvious. He sent her to find Buffy.

“Wait!” Angel called out to her and Cordy turned in the doorway looking back. “Don’t tell her that I’m human. Not until we know what this means. We really don’t know if this is permanent.”

With her hand on the doorframe, Cordelia quietly agreed. No arguments from her. “All right.”

Soon, Angel and Doyle had discovered the identity of the assailant— a Mohra demon, one of a clan of powerful assassins raised to take out the forces of Order. “Hmm! Their ‘veins run with the blood of eternity’,” Doyle quoted. “Guess the regenerative properties made you human.”

Moaning in frustration, Angel pointed out that the text explained what happened to him without explaining the reason for it. Doyle put a halt to his friend’s automatic descent into brood mode. “What difference does it make, man? The demon is dead and you’re alive to enjoy it.”

Constantly suspicious of taking the easy path, Angel spun around to demand of Doyle, “What is going on here?”

“I-I don’t know, Angel,” his seer admitted. “I thought the only way for you to become human was if the Powers-That-Be stepped in to make it happen.”

“What?!” Angel’s surprise equaled Doyle’s unwillingness to say too much. He told Angel that they were both on a need-to-know basis.”

Demanding that Doyle let him speak to the Powers-That-Be, Angel’s look of fury was akin to his dark days as a vampire. The Irish half-demon held up his hands to caution him. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! That’s easier said than done. You have to approach them through channels. Dangerous channels.”

Since when had that ever stopped him? “Start approaching.”

Doyle reluctantly agreed. There was only one shot at this and it was not guaranteed that they would let Angel access their realm.

“All right, already. Maybe we can try the Oracles. But hey, if they turn you into a toad— don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Our Champion seeks entry and we grant it. For the Oracles can no more stop the turn of fate than we can easily dissolve the connections linking him to our Seer-to-Be. This human comes with questions— daring even to bring demands to the altar of the Powers. Demands of the heart.

Angel fell into the room as if he had been hurtled from a great distance. Two beings stood on white marble steps leading to an arched corridor filled by bright light. He wondered if they truly looked as they appeared to him, these higher beings framed in human form. Their glittery golden skin was darted with traces of blue and their eyes held vast depths of knowledge. A matched pair— a man and a woman, both dressed in equally gilded togas, looked on him with knowing eyes.

The male Oracle addressed Angel. Come before us, lower being.”

“What have you brought us?” With a curious look of interest, the woman awaited his offering. Her counterpart sounded upset at the lack of one— until Angel pulled his watch from his wrist and held it out.

This delighted the female, whose powers whisked the watch into her palm. I like time. There is so little and so much of it.”

When Angel did not immediately state his purpose, the male Oracle again appeared to be irritated by his presence. Angel got the feeling he was taking up their valuable time. He asked them about his humanity. Was this permanent? Did the Powers-that-Be interfere?”

Tinkling amusement sounded in the Oracle’s response. Do you hear, brother? This lower being believes the Powers granted him humanity.”

Then addressing Angel directly, the woman asked, What have you done? Did you save humanity? Avert the Apocalype?”

“So, this isn’t just poison or magic? I’m going to stay human? What will happen?”

The female was the more communicative of the two. So many questions, lower being. The Auguries say neither poison nor magick has brought about your condition. As for your future as a human— I cannot reveal it.”

“What? What good is being an Oracle if you won’t foretell the future?”

“Your future lies within you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You will. Lower being, I can tell you that you are at a crossroads. Choose wisely, for the End of Days draws near. We must summon another Champion to our cause as your humanity now curtails us.”

Suddenly, the white glow of the room enveloped Angel and he was thrust back into the ante-chamber. Doyle was surprised to see him back, for he had only been gone an instant.

“So, what happened in there?”

Angel confirmed that his humanity was permanent. “It’s real. I’m free.”

“I can’t believe this,” Doyle shook his head in wonderment.

“I-I can’t either,” Angel confessed that he did not know what to do next. “I have this whole human existence spread out before me. Doyle, I don’t know where to begin.”

Then Doyle saw a light in Angel’s eyes, a burst of knowledge that clearly told him what he needed to do and where he needed to be.

Buffy Summers strolled up to the railing separating the park from the sandy white beach below. Her blonde hair blew around her face in wild wisps with the wind. “It’s beautiful here,” she sighed deeply.

Then she caught a glimpse of movement from the periphery of her eye— Angel stepping through a hedge formed into a shadowed arch. Gasping at the sight of Angel approaching under the direct sunlight, Buffy was agog.

Angel caught a glimpse of her as he rounded the hedge. Somehow he knew she would be at this place. They had been here before— at night of course. A night off away from Sunnydale, just the two of them. Closer, he caught her surprised look and held her gaze with an intensity that told her exactly why he was here.

Determined strides carried him forward despite the startled audience of one. And then he was pulling her close and into his arms.

“Cordelia,” her name emerged as a deep-throated sound.

Dropping the plastic cup with its flavored icey to the ground, Cordy wrapped her arms around Angel’s shoulders as he bent his head to capture her mouth in a kiss. Her hands moved up to clutch at the back of his head while his moved down the bare curve of her back to settle at her hips. Angel tasted cherries on her breath as his lips greedily moved over hers.


SOULBOUND – BOOK TWO – THE NEXT CONNECTION: CHAPTER LINKS

Book Two Chapter 11                    Book Two Home                    Book Two Chapter 13


 

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