DISCLAIMER:I don't own any of the characters from the buffyverse. Sometimes I steal them like I am doing now but I always return them as good as new. And I never make any money off them. (That would make me a pimp if I did wouldn't it?) They belong to the nice people at Fox, the WB and of course to Joss Whedon.
Lily is mine, mine I tell you!!

Thoughts are enclosed in * *

This part contains a violent torture scene.

Part 6

When the bell rang, the three teenagers were forced to go to class. Listening to a history lecture seemed extremely insignificant at a time like this. But they agreed to check back with Giles as soon as possible and left for an hour of forced learning. Once again alone in the library, Giles called Angel in hopes that they could come up with a new angle on the situation.

As soon as school was over Buffy, Willow and Xander met once more in the dark confines of the library.

"Giles?" Buffy called into the silent room.

"Ah, you're here," was Giles' answer as he popped up from behind one of the shelves.

"So what's the word?" asked Xander anxiously.

"Well, we may have the beginnings of a plan," answered Giles.

"Tell," said Buffy.

"I was talking to Angel, and we've decided that we have to figure out how the Anointed One is controlling Lily."

"Um, great plan, Giles," said Xander sarcastically. "We already knew that. Any idea on how you're going to figure this out."

"We have one possibility. Angel has apprehended a vampire he found lurking in his house," continued Giles. "We all have to head over there and see if we can get any information from the beast."

"Is this any particular vamp, or is it just one of the miscellaneous loiterers?" asked Buffy.

"It's the other half of the pair that invaded Angel's home before. It's name is Daniel I believe."

"So what are we waiting around here for?" asked Willow. "Let's go kick some ass." Every eye in the room settled on her, and she squirmed under the scrutiny. "Well we are going to aren't we?" she asked. Buffy grinned at her, and Xander gave her a high five.

"Let's go." said Buffy as she breezed through the library doors with the other three close behind.

Angel met them at the door of his apartment. He stood behind the door, hidden in shadows. Heavy blinds were closed tight against the painful light of the sun, creating an artificial night.

"He's over there," he said nodding in the direction of a large figure slumped against the wall. "He came after me, said I had shamed him. So I knocked him out and chained him up." Xander approached the still unconscious vampire cautiously. He resisted the urge to poke the man's body.

"So how are we going to get him to tell us anything. I seriously doubt that he's just going to spill his guts. He looks pretty tough."

"There are ways," said Angel ominously, flashing a fang filled grin. He strolled over to the unconscious vampire and grabbed a handful of the man's long hair. He casually slapped Daniel's face. The vampire's head rocked slightly with the force of the blow, but Angel's hold on his hair kept his neck from snapping backwards. He came to with a low growl and pulled against his chains. Keeping his face completely calm, Angel bent Daniel's pinkie back until the brittle bone snapped. Daniel screamed in pain, and Willow’s face paled.

"Don't worry," said Angel. "He'll heal." He turned his attention back to the vampire before him. "We need a little information," he said politely. "You can either cooperate, or you can be tortured until you cooperate." Daniel only hissed in response and spit in Angel's face. "I was hoping you'd say that," Angel said, and licked his lips in anticipation. "But with less spit." He turned to look at the four humans, who seemed less than thrilled at the show. "It's necessary," he said. "His Master will punish him if he tells, so we have to make him more afraid of us than he is of his Master." Their heads nodded, but their faces evidenced their horror at the proceedings. "You don't have to watch," Angel offered. Willow nodded once and left the room. Xander glanced after her, but decided to stay.

"I think it's best I stay, to hear what he says," said Giles nervously. Buffy stared at the sullen vampire before her, the two slightly queasy humans and finally at Angel. She could stand the gore, she'd seen worse. But she wasn't sure she wanted to witness the brutality Angel was capable of. Finally she decided that it would be cowardly to try to pretend this wasn't happening. She stood her ground, and Angel turned back to his victim.

"We want to know why Lily follows the Anointed One," he hissed. His leg flashed out so quickly that Buffy almost didn't notice it move. A dry crunch filled the room as Daniel's knee broke. He choked back a scream. Angel shrugged and stalked from one side of the vampire to the other. His fist flashed out and when he pulled it back Daniel's nose was smashed, streaming blood. Xander silently turned away and walked out of the apartment to join Willow. "If you tell us what we want to know, we'll let you go free," Angel said tantalizingly.

"You don't understand," said Daniel, choking on the blood streaming from his nose. "She'll kill me."

"So will we," said Angel, "if you don't tell." He reached in to his pocket and brought out a blue jewelry box. He popped it open and showed the contents to Daniel who's eyes jumped suddenly with fear. Angel pulled the cross out of the box by it's chain. He swung it gently in front of Daniel's face. The big vampire began whimpering with panic. "Tell us why Lily is following the Anointed One. We know she's powerful enough to kill him." Angel brought the cross closer to Daniel's face and lightly touched his forehead with it. The flesh sizzled where it touched the vampire, and he opened his mouth to scream. Angel grabbed the cross itself, ignoring the pain as it ate into his hand. He pressed the cross firmly to Daniel's mouth, until the vampire's lips were black and his screams had devolved into frantic, futile cowering. Then he grabbed the chain again.

"You don't understand," whispered Daniel.

"Then help us understand," threatened Angel, "or I will burn out your tongue."

"She's not following him!" Daniel screamed. "She's just using him," he began to laugh hysterically. "Using him as a figurehead." He dropped his voice to a whisper. "Sometimes, she feeds off him. She thinks it's funny. The other vampires are too afraid to do anything. Eventually she'll tire of him, then she's going to kill him." Angel looked at Giles, who nodded carefully. It was possible, more than possible. With a quick motion, Angel unchained his prisoner. The ravaged vampire ran at Buffy, attacking in an impossible situation. Her instinct took over, and she staked him before she even realized what was happening.

"Ooops," she said, looking down at the stake in her hand.

"He wanted to die," said Angel. "He betrayed his Master, Lily." Angel turned to Giles. "So now we know who's pulling the strings, does that help us at all?"

"It may," said Giles. "There's only one thing I can think of to do. It may not work, but it's better than facing all the vampires in the city at once. The sun's gone down, let's get out of here." He walked out of the room to tell Willow and Xander what they had found out.

"Are you okay?" asked Angel, lightly touching Buffy on the shoulder. She jumped a little at his touch.

"How can you be so gentle with me, and still be able to brutally torture that vampire?" she asked.

"If one of your friends was in trouble and the only way you could save them was to torture your enemy, would you do it?" he asked.

"Yes, I would" she answered. *But I don't think I would enjoy it as much as you did,* she thought to herself. Some of her thought must have shown on her face, because Angel's face hardened. She could tell that her disgust hurt him, deepened his own self-hatred.

"Buffy, the beast is part of who I am. But believe me, if there had been any other way, I wouldn't have tortured him."

"I know," said Buffy. She understood the reason for what had been done. In his place she would have done the same thing. But watching him do it was something she wished she hadn't seen. She was suddenly very glad that Angel was on their side and that he was strong enough to keep his demons in check. She grabbed his hand, and together they went to look for the rest of the group.

* * * * * * * *

Part 7

"So Giles, what's this great idea you have?" asked Buffy as they settled into chairs at Giles' house. Giles stared at the four different pairs of eyes that were turned trustingly to him for help. Buffy and Angel sat together on the couch, holding hands. Again. *They seem to be physically unable to separate themselves,* he thought uncharitably. Willow sitting in one of the overstuffed armchairs was joined by Xander who had hurled several cushions on the floor near her feet, and then flung himself down on top of them. He wished he had more to give them, a plan that would give them confidence. What he did have was risky at best.

"W..well," he stammered to a start. "Within the vampire community there are several very sacred rituals. They are like laws, only if one of the vampires breaks a law they are hunted, burned alive and then their ashes are scattered to the winds."

"In other words: you break the law, you get fried," said Xander.

"To put it plainly. But that's not what I'm getting at. My point is that one of these rituals is the right to challenge a fellow vampire to a duel." Angel nodded at Giles' explanation.

"That's true," said Angel. "The custom isn't used much anymore. But it is still valid. No vampire can lawfully resist a challenge."

"So you're saying that I should challenge Lily to hand to hand combat?" asked Buffy.

"Actually, no," answered Giles.

"What are you talking about? I'm the Slayer remember. I slay the vampires," said Buffy. "Is this ringing any bells Giles?"

"Buffy, you can't fight Lily. You aren't strong enough," said Giles placatingly.

"Gee, thanks Mr. I'm a big help to your self esteem," answered Buffy.

"Well if Buffy's not going to do it, who is?" asked Willow.

"Yeah, I mean I've been working out...but I don't think any of us are as powerful as she is," quipped Xander.

"You've been working out?" asked Willow. "I thought you were looking a lot more buff."

"Really? I wasn't sure it was helping that much," Xander trailed off under Giles' reproving stare. "Okay, we'll talk about my muscles later."

"If we could focus on what's important right now," chided Giles. "I was actually thinking that Angel would challenge her." Buffy's eyes widened in surprise.

"Angel?" she asked. "Giles, you've been inhaling too much newsprint. Angel isn't any more powerful than I am."

"I'm willing to try," said Angel. The announcement had caught him by surprise as well, but he would much rather fight Lily himself than watch Buffy get slaughtered.

"That's a noble gesture, but there is more to my plan," said Giles exasperated by all the interruptions. "If everybody would just shut up for three bloody minutes until I could finish telling you the WHOLE plan, then maybe you would understand." The teenagers snapped their mouths closed and put their questions on hold. "Thank you, as I was trying to say...you're right Buffy, right now Angel is only as powerful as you are. However, he can become more powerful. Whereas you can't."

"I don't understand," said Buffy. She glanced at Angel, who was beginning to get a sneaking suspicion of what Giles was driving at.

"If he drinks of your blood, Buffy, his power will increase until it is almost equal with Lily. It will only be a temporary increase in power, but because it is Slayer blood it may be enough to give Angel the edge he will need to beat her," explained Giles. Angel shook his head as Giles' words confirmed his suspicions. He rose from the couch and turned his back to the room.

"No, I can't do it," he said with only a slight tremor in his voice. "I'll fight her on my own."

"But you'll die, and Buffy will be next," argued Giles. "This is our only chance."

"You don't understand, there is a reason I haven't fed on a live human in almost a century. It goes beyond guilt. I have no idea if I'll be able to control myself once I get a taste of warm blood."

"I think I see the problem," said Giles thoughtfully.

"Do you?" asked Angel, as he turned to face the group. "I don't trust myself to do this. I would rather fight and die, than take the chance that I might kill Buffy because I couldn't control myself." His voice began to rise as he continued to talk. "None of you know what it's like to feel the blood lust, none of you know how hard I have to fight to keep the demon in check, pray God none of you ever know."

"Angel," whispered Buffy as she joined him standing in front of the group. She reached to touch his face but he shied away. "My sweet Angelus." She reached out again and lightly touched his chest. "You're right, none of us know what it's like. None of us have any idea. But none of that matters to me. You may not trust yourself, but I do. I trust you with my life, my heart, my soul." Her arm slid around his body and he tensed at her touch, relaxing only a little as she continued to speak. "You are my Angel, and I will not lose you because we were too afraid to try. You think I'm not afraid too? Well I am, I am more scared than I have ever been in my life. But I can stand fear, I cannot stand by and watch you go into a battle that you can't win by yourself. You need my blood. I understand the risks, and I am willing to take them. You have to do the same. This is our only chance." She rested her head gently on his chest, holding him in her arms, wishing with all her heart that she could take him away from all this. Wishing that she could take some of his pain into herself.

"It's too much to ask," he whispered. "If I lose control once, I may never regain control again."

"I know, but I ask it anyway. For us," she whispered back. He nodded silently, grimly.

"I'll do it." He wrapped Buffy in his arms, hanging onto her body like a life-line, as if she was the last thing in the world. As if only she could keep him sane. God, he hoped she was enough.

Xander glanced up at Willow, then at Giles. His eyes traveled the room, resting on anything but the pair of them in each other's arms. It wasn't just the jealousy either, really it wasn't! He felt like he was intruding on them, or spying on their most intimate moment. Willow's uncomfortable expression proved that she felt the same way. They didn't belong here. This was private, and there was nothing they could do to help plan at the moment. They looked at each other, and as one they crept over to Giles. Tomorrow was Saturday, the moment of truth was tomorrow night. They would be there as Buffy and Angel prepared. Even if they couldn't help, they wanted to show their support. Besides, if Angel did go out of control...there was no way Giles could stop him by himself. He would probably faint, if Angel touched him with a feather. Neither of them wanted to think about that much. If Angel did lose control, there really wasn't much any of them could do about it. But they would be there none the less.

Buffy heard them say their good-byes and go as if she was in a haze. All she wanted right now was to stay here in Angel's arms. To never let go, to never see the sun rise and then set on them. She could feel his fear, though he controlled it well. *He was right, it was too much to ask. But there was too much at stake not to ask. If we lose, we lose each other.* Buffy refused to let that happen. *If it means being a blood donor, well that's what it means.*

Angel sighed softly, loving the feel of her body in his hands. The heat of her arms as they encircled his waist. He would rather die, than risk killing her. But he had agreed. He had agreed to feed on a living human. Even as he dreaded the moment, he could feel anticipation well inside him. It had been more than eighty years. He fought the hunger as it rose. Tomorrow, he would face the ultimate test. He would face his biggest fear. And he wasn't at all sure he would win.

They decided it would be safer for Angel to walk Buffy home, so they told Giles they were leaving and began to stroll the streets of Sunnydale, heading towards Buffy's house.

"I meant to tell you earlier that you're re-invited into my house," said Buffy. "It just sort of slipped my mind." Angel's lips stretched into a smile.

"Buffy," he said soberly. "I'm very scared."

"I think we all are," she answered.

"I don't think any of you are as scared as I am."

"Probably not, you win the prize for having the most to worry about."

"Thanks," he said wryly as another grin threatened to break his grim facade.

"I think I saw a quarter smile," said Buffy triumphantly. "Besides, you know if this doesn't work Lily will kill us, so it's not you I'm worried is going to go homicidal." She stopped walking and looked him directly in the eye. "I know you're going out of your skull with worry, I am too. I know you don't feel like laughing. I don't much either. But it's either laugh, cry or go insane so for now I'll laugh."

"You are so amazing," said Angel leaning closer to her face. Buffy stood on her toes to help him reach her lips.

"Oh SHIT!" she suddenly exclaimed.


"Ohmigod, Ohmigod." Buffy said, beginning to hyperventilate. "I totally forgot that I'm grounded, and I was supposed to go home right after school. My mom is going to be beyond pissed, I'm probably grounded for three lifetimes. I really have to go." Her words ran together in her panic, and she turned to run to her house. Then she turned back, gave Angel a hard kiss on the lips. He watched as she ran down the street with a bemused expression on his face.

"She is the strangest girl."