disclaimer in part 1

I say no earthly will may stop me
I say no earthly will may try
No earthly will may halt the spill of blood from wounds
and tears from grieving eyes

-The Waterboys

Three Doors
by: Rebecca Carefoot

Part Fifteen

Angel reached the church and looked in the direction of the house with the blue door just a few blocks away. His muscles tensed, but he fought the tight, pressing urge to follow, and ran inside the church. He grabbed the pastor who was talking to a congregate in the sanctuary. The pastor turned a startled face to him, and the person he'd pushed aside latched on to his shoulder, pulling him back.

"Phone?" he panted. "Emergency." The pastor studied him doubtfully then nodded his head. He led him to his office and pointed to the phone on the desk. "Thank you," Angel said, and quickly dialed, his heart pounding in his throat. The first ring seemed to jangle for an eternity, but the second ring cut off as the phone was picked up.

"Giles," he said. "It's me."


Buffy was moving. Always moving. Her foot slammed into a vampire's neck, and her ax whirled in a circle, sending a head briefly flying before it became a spray of dust. Her stake plunged into a chest, then out again before it could crumble with the vampire's body. She did not feel pain. Fists pounded her ribs, growls rumbled around her, kicks hit her and missed her. None of it reached past the shallow surface of her skin. Inside she was cold and untouched. She continued to move. Another fist, another chest, another fall of dust. Another gasp of air, another burst of impact, another drop of blood. Another shower of dust. She was surrounded, but nothing touched her. One by one they would fall. One by one she would take the blows that bounced off her flesh. Until she reached the last one. Him. And then it would end.

She heard Angelus bellow something, and found herself surrounded by nothing. The other vampires dropped away from her, leaving her exposed and alone. Fine. She spun against the emptiness, and kept a firm grip on her stake, still moving, this time toward Angelus without resistance. He waited for her with a smirk, his hand buried in Willow's hair. He kept his eyes on Buffy, but his hand moved from the top of Willow's head to the back of her neck. She shook her head against his touch, and he tightened his grip. Buffy hesitated.

"One twist," Angel said. Buffy stopped. The ax in her hand drooped.

"Just kill him," Willow spat, the words tinged with blood. She broke off when Angel's hand dug into her throat hard enough to make her gag.

"Let her go," Buffy said.

"You're not in a position to bargain," Angel pointed out.

"It's not her you want," Buffy said. Angel flicked his tongue against his teeth and bit his lower lip. He raked her body with his eyes, and her face heated despite everything. He chuckled, and she frowned, lifting the ax again.

"Why can't I have both?" he asked. Buffy hurled the ax at his head, but he anticipated her and moved to the side, catching the ax handle as it flew past him. "Thanks," he said with a grin, but dodging the ax had separated him from his hostage. Buffy launched herself at him, no other goal in mind but to keep him away from Willow. The ax clattered from his hand. They rolled across the floor, end over end, and scrabbled against each other. Hands clutching and grabbing for purchase, bodies squirming to gain an advantage.

Buffy snagged a handful of hair, and wrenched it as he clutched her shirt and his fingers dug into her back. She planted her knees on the ground and started to pull him up with her by the hair, but he used his grip on her back, to force her down on top of him. The breath whooshed out of her lungs as she slipped and fell against him. She slammed his head against the ground, but unfazed, he curled a leg between their bodies, flung her off and rolled backward. He raised himself to a crouch, and she flipped to her feet.

She circled cautiously, moving her stake from her left hand to her right.

Angel reached the door, which still gaped open, and poked his head carefully inside. The other vampires were distracted, standing just outside the radius of the fighting vampire and Slayer, one or two of them lounging by the TV as if unconcerned. There were only about five or six of them left. He debated whether he should wait for Giles and the others to get here. Willow sat tied to her chair, blood dribbling from her hair line down the side of her face. She rolled her eyes and craned her neck, trying to see what was happening just behind her. Buffy landed a kick to Angelus' chest and he stumbled backwards, banging into Willow's chair. With a curse, he grabbed the chair and swung it, with Willow in it, bodily in front of him. Buffy hesitated again. Angel lifted his crossbow, and took careful aim at Angelus' back with the final bolt. He pressed the trigger, but Angelus shifted and the arrow sunk into his chest just left of his heart.

He grunted in pain, clutched the wooden shaft and whirled to see Angel in the door. He cocked his head as he drew the bolt from his chest, Willow forgotten, and studied the human version of himself, now reaching for a stake. He saw Buffy move toward him out of the corner of his eye and deflected her punch with his hand. The other vampires looked from their leader to the other Angel in confusion.

"Kill him," Angelus said. And they closed in around Angel. He firmed his grip on his stake, and steadied his fighting stance.

"Too afraid to face yourself?" Buffy sneered.

"Unlike you," Angelus answered, "I don't go soft for a pretty face. I know who I am, and he's not me."

She faked a move to the left, then darted to the right, attempting to drive past Angelus to the circle of vampires closing in on Angel. Angelus wrapped his arms around her waist as she passed, yanking her backwards. She stumbled and twisted, setting them both off balance. They knocked into Willow's chair as they fell, and it teetered on two legs before clattering onto its side. Buffy cried out as Willow's head cracked against the floor, and then she was landing on her back, her fall cushioned by the familiar length of Angelus' body. His hands continued to clutch at her abdomen and hips, possessive and bruisingly tight. She dug her elbow into his stomach when they hit the ground, but he did not let go.

She struggled against his grip, and broke free when she saw Angel disappear under the gang of vampires that surrounded him. She pulled herself to her feet, and took two running steps toward him before she felt teeth sink into the meat of her shoulder. Her mouth opened with the tearing pain, and she kicked backward, detaching Angelus from her body. She could hear him behind her, and knew she wouldn't be able to help Angel until she put him out of commission. And Angel wouldn't last that long under the four vampires he was flailing against. She whirled and attacked Angelus with precise determination, her blows powered by barely controlled panic.

"Forget him," Angelus said. "It's already too late."

One of the vampires surrounding Angel suddenly disappeared in a puff of dust, and Giles entered the room, crossbow in hand. Xander followed with an ax, and Oz rushed to Willow's side, sword in hand. A quick slash freed her hands from the chair, and another split the rope that bound her feet. Her freed arms fell motionless against the tiles, and Oz's throat tightened. He put a finger to her pulse and let out a shaky breath when he heard the soft but steady beat of her heart. He carefully pulled her away from the tangle of chair and rope, and lay her body on its back, his shaky hand moving through her knotted, blood matted hair.

Xander winced as one of the vampires landed a punch to his jaw, then he retaliated with a fist to the vampire's gut. Giles was attempting to get a female vampire off his back, and Angel lay curled on the blood smeared floor. The third remaining vampire advanced on Oz and the still unconscious Willow.

"Oz!" Xander yelled. Oz looked up, eyes bright with tears, a snarl twisting his lips, and clutched the sword in his hand. Buffy flew across the room and crashed against the floor, sliding several feet. She skidded to a stop near Angel, and spared him a fearful look, before regaining her footing. Angelus advanced on her but she ducked under his attack. Angel stirred, opening his eyes and noticing Buffy locked tight against Angelus. He moved, uncurling himself painfully slowly, and rose to his feet. He launched himself at Angelus, attempting to break his hold on Buffy. But when his hand grabbed Angelus' arm, the ground began to shake. The three of them, still hooked together by punishing touch and breathless squeezing grasps exchanged a look of surprise as the ground beneath them split and crumbled away. The humans and vampires left behind watched in amazement as the trio plummeted into the sudden hole in the ground and disappeared from sight.

None of them released what their clinging hands grasped as they fell for what seemed an eternity. Angel's fingers sank in a handful of Angelus' arm, and tugged at the shirt on Buffy's back. Angelus pulled Buffy against his body, his hands locked on his own arms to create a vise around her waist. Buffy fell with one hand digging into Angelus' hand where she had tried to loosen his grip, and one reaching between Angelus and Angel to pull on a handful of Angel's bloodstained shirt. The looked at each other as they fell, rock walls whipping past them. Each of them knew death, had died, and each of them knew where this would end. Murder turned to shared fear as they continued downward, wanting the fall to end, and not wanting to ever hit the ground.

And then the fall stopped and they broke apart, each slamming backwards to the hard earth.