"Would you like a glass of water?" Anne sat in a chair across from
Mary, smiling in what she hoped was her most reassuring way.
The young girl shook her head. She held her hands in her lap, picking
at her right thumbnail, staring intently at her fingers. She seemed to
be about to speak, then closed her mouth tight and bit her upper lip.
"Would it help if Richie were here?"
The nod was slight, the expression the same. Anne walked to her office
door and let him in. He knelt down in front of Mary. "Hello, luv.
Feel like talking about it?"
Her breath caught in her throat, but without speaking, she shook her
head again. Her eyes were wide now.
"Whatever happened to you, Mary, we'll believe you. Something happened,
didn't it?" He looked up at her with tender blue eyes, and she
nodded. "Something very bad?" She repeated the gesture.
"They killed them," she whispered. "I ran away."
"Vampires?" Anne asked gently.
Her nod was more deliberate. "Mom and Dad. Tommy. I got out when they
were killing them. I got out ..." She sniffed back tears, her eyes
blinking, but her cheeks were wet. "I should have stopped them. But
there aren't such things." She looked up at Anne, eyes wide. "Did I do
it? Was it my fault? Am I making it all up? It can't be real."
"Yes, sweetie." Anne handed her a tissue. "Yes, it can. I've seen
them. Whatever happened, it wasn't your fault. Vampires are killers.
Vicious killers. You couldn't have stopped it."
"No," he said. "You couldn't. Vicious they are." But his forehead
furrowed, frustrated by a memory he couldn't reach.
"No. NO!" He tossed on the sofa, screaming into the afternoon. "Kill
you. No. Kill me. Buffy, go!"
"Richie." Brian's voice was softer than anyone would have expected.
"Hey, pal." He held the other man by the shoulders, trying to wake him
gently. "Richie. Wake up."
"Evil. Everywhere. Blood. Oh, god, the blood." He gasped for air.
"Burning. I'm burning. Help me."
Brian looked at Ranna, her arms crossed as she stared at the older man
in the throes of a nightmare. "Geez, what is it? Something in the
"Just get Anne, okay?"
The girl sauntered out into the back yard. "Hey, Anne. Your handyman's
Anne dropped the end of the badminton net and hurried through the back
door into the living room. "What's wrong?" she asked Brian.
"Poor guy's freaking out." He stepped aside as Anne knelt beside the
sofa. "Richie? Shhh. It's okay." She stroked the hair from his eyes
and he calmed. "Wake up, okay? Please?"
His eyes started open as his hand clapped to his forehead. He rubbed
the skin and felt his eyebrows, seeming incredulous. His hand went to
his mouth, investigating the tips of his teeth. "Nothing," he sighed.
He looked at the woman beside him. "Anne?"
She took his hand and squeezed it. "I'm here. That must have been a
hell of a nap." She cupped his cheek with her other hand and looked into
his eyes. "What happened?"
"I don't know." He smiled with embarrassment and pushed himself to a
seated position. "Guess I was tired, what with last night's
interruption and the yardwork this morning. What did I do?"
"You said some pretty scary stuff." Brian stood behind Anne, still
watching him. "Blood and death stuff. Care to share?"
"I don't remember." He ran his fingers through his curls. "Wait. No,
"What?" Anne sat beside him on the couch. "Did you remember
"No." He tried to concentrate. "Yeah. I dreamt I was a vampire."
Anne took the girl's hand at the top of the stairs. "I'm glad you
called her. You're going to be okay."
Mary trembled in her grasp. "She won't believe me."
"That's okay." Anne gave her a comforting squeeze. "I do. And you can
call me any time you need to talk."
Slowly they descended the staircase, finally meeting the middle-aged
woman at the bottom. Looking at her, Mary lost all composure, and ran
into her arms. "Auntie Chris." She hugged her tight, tears flowing
down her cheeks.
"My poor girl. What you've been through." Christine Reynolds kissed
her niece's forehead, and looked towards Anne. "Thank you for taking
care of her. We were so frightened. Didn't know what to think. After
my sister ... after what happened ..."
Anne lay a hand on the older woman's shoulder. "We were just glad to
help." She smiled at Mary. "You ready to go, honey?"
Mary's eyes darted around the room. "Where's Richie? I want to say
"Right here, luv." He came out of the shadows. "Didn't want to
interrupt the reunion."
Christine turned to him. "You're the young man who helped my Mary,
aren't you? Miss Steele told me. Thank you both, so much."
"She's a good kid." He took Mary's hand in his. "You mind your auntie,
now. She'll take good care of you."
"I'll miss you, Richie."
"You too, pet."
"So, you really want to do this?" Anne proceeded him down the stairs.
"Think it's for the best." He stopped as they reached the basement
floor. "Don't really belong with the young ones. They're friendly
enough, an' all, but I think I'm cramping their style."
"I think you're being silly, but whatever you want." She pointed to a
Japanese screen. "That should give you a little privacy. I hope the
laundry doesn't bother you. They promised not to do it when you're
"More afraid of disturbing their sleep, really. What with my little
nightmare in the living room." He took her hand. "I just want to thank
you for giving me this space. Taking me in. Everything."
She led him to the screen. "It's not the Hilton, but hopefully it's
When she pulled the screen aside, his jaw dropped. "What a beautiful
bed. Antique, isn't it? Where's the cot?"
"Can't have you sleeping on a stinky old cot."
"But this." He sat on the edge of the bed. "You didn't go and spend
money on this, did you?"
"No. It was in storage. Came with the house. The guys helped me set it
up while you were at the hardware store." She sat down beside him.
"I thought you might." She ran her hand across the comforter. "You
need privacy." Cupped his cheek with her hand. "We need privacy."
She undid the top button of his shirt. "I hope you feel what I feel."
"Anne." He took her in his arms and kissed her, as they fell back onto
Brian opened the front door to the insistent knocking. "Look, I told
you she doesn't want to see you. And knocking isn't going to do any
more than ringing the bell did, except to piss me off."
Angel gave him an angry glare. "Look. You know and I know that you
couldn't take me in a fight. But I don't want to fight. I just need to
"And she doesn't need to see you."
Angel's eyes flashed yellow. "I can help her. You want the
neighbourhood association to shut this place down? Because I don't."
"It's okay, Brian." He stepped away from the door, and a woman's hand
opened it wide.
Angel took a step forward, then paused at the threshold.
"Oh, for goodness' sake, I didn't disinvite you. Come in." Anne crossed
her arms and stood in the vestibule. "What do you want?"
"I want to help you. I know you don't trust Wolfram and Hart, but
things have changed." He looked towards the living room, but she didn't
"Things have changed. You went to bed with the enemy. You are Wolfram
and Hart." She sighed. "I don't think there's anything else to say."
"But you need a lawyer."
"I have a lawyer." Anne stared him in the eyes. "I have a legitimate
lawyer who is going to see that we don't have to move. Aunt of one of
my kids arranged it. She was very grateful we're here. So you can
relax, stop worrying, and leave."
"I do worry. You're a friend. An old friend. How do I know this lawyer
is any good?"
"Good being the operative word. We'll be fine." She gestured towards
the door. "If that's everything ..."
"Lorne says you brought some guy into the house. Not a kid. What do
you know about him?"
Her teeth and fists clenched. "I know it's none of your business. I
know you aren't jealous, so this is what? Control freak Angel?"
"Like I said," he kept his voice even, "I worry about you."
"Stop. Worrying." Her voice grew louder. "It's not. Your. Concern."
"Problem, love?" He came into the foyer, and put an arm around her
shoulder. "You want this bloke to leave?"
Angel stared. "You're dead."
Anne's voice dropped fifty degrees. "If you're going to make threats
"No." The vampire's eyes narrowed. "He's dead. I mean, I heard he was
"You know me." He let go of Anne and stepped to the taller man. "You
know who I am. I can see it. Please. Who am I?"
"Who are ..." Angel took a closer look at the other man. His hair was
darker and curly, like it was when Dru first brought him home. But his
skin was tanned. And his heart was beating. "I thought ... I'm not
"Angel?" Anne's heart was in her throat. "If you know Richie ..."
"Richie? No." He almost said Spike, but that seemed wrong too.
"William. I think his name is William."
"How do you know him? Angel. Angel?" But the vampire had ducked out
the door and into the night.
"William." He put his arms around Anne and pulled her close, smiling.
"She called again, you know." Wes sat on the edge of his boss' desk.
"Well, now she knows how it feels." Angel shifted the papers into a
straight pile. Again.
"So, why don't you talk to her?"
"And say what?" Angel dropped the papers on the desk, not noticing them
scatter. He stood and walked over to the window. "Tell her that her
boyfriend and I used to slaughter the innocent together? Tell her that
if he gets his memory back he'll drop her like a hot potato and start
sniffing after my ex again? Who, I now know, would let him." He pushed
back the blind and looked down onto the street. "If it is Spike. Maybe
some long lost descendant, though I'd bet the farm human William hadn't
"He looks like Spike, though."
"Sounds like Spike. Looks like William." He turned to stare at Wes.
"Buffy told me what happened. When she left, he was starting to burn.
The whole town caved in on top of him. How could it possibly be Spike?"
"There is the prophesy. Shanshu."
"Right." Angel walked back to the window. "And he had a soul. Vampire
with a soul, champion of the apocalypse."
"Which you believe should have been you."
"It was my amulet." Spinning on his heels, he turned to Wes again. "I
should have worn it. I should have been the one to become human."
"If he did."
Angel nodded. "If he did. Could all be a big coincidence. Some guy
who looks just like him. But I tell you Wes, I swear it was Spike. I
swear he's alive."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
They both turned to see her. Her face was drained of all colour. Her
eyes wide with shock.
"Oh, god," Angel said. "Buffy."
Continued in Chapter 4