Aurelia shot awake from the memories that rushed over her and gasped. She looked around the small apartment and didn't see Angel laying beside her. Why had it taken her seventeen years to remember who she was? Why had it taken almost 100 years for her to be reincarnated? Where was Cassius?
Buffy clasped the sheets around her body and stood up. It was still raining hard outside and lightning struck. She looked around the room again, but Cassius was nowhere to be seen. "Cassius?"
Aurelia was quiet as she walked into her mother's house. She looked around the kitchen, but everything was quiet. She kept an eye out for her mother as she went around to the stairs. Once there she started up, trying to keep quiet. She just wanted to get in, pack a bag, and leave to find Cassius. They had a lot to discuss.
Unfortunately, her mother heard her. "Morning."
Buffy stopped her ascent and came back down a few steps. Joyce came over to the base of the staircase. "Morning." Buffy said.
"So, did you have fun last night?"
"Yeah. Yeah, fun at Willow's. You know, she's fun."
"No. I'm just going to…. Take a shower."
"Well, if you hurry, I'll run you to school."
"School?" Aurelia shook her head. "Right. Thanks."
Joyce folded her arms and looked up at Buffy curiously. "Is something wrong?"
"No. What would be wrong?" Aurelia cursed this century. It was so much easier when you were considered an adult at fourteen or fifteen.
"I don't know. You just look…." Joyce shook her head with a smile and went into the dining room.
Aurelia made her way through the hallways and walked into the library. To her surprise, she was almost ran down by Xander and Willow.
"Buffy!" Willow cried.
"We were just going to rescue you." Xander said.
"Rescue me?" Buffy asked.
"Well, some of us were." Willow shot at Giles.
"Well, I-I would have." Giles said.
"Where's Angel?" Jenny asked.
"I was hoping one of you would know." Buffy said.
"No." Giles said.
"What happened?" Cordelia asked as she slid down off the counter.
"The Judge, i-is he…."
That's right. She and Angel had been after the Judge and…. Spike and Drusilla. "He is active."
"Oh, damn it." Giles said.
"He nearly killed us."
"Why didn't you call? We, we, we thought…."
"It is none of your business why I didn't call. But I must speak with you, Watcher."
Giles looked at Buffy with a look she couldn't discern. "Yes. All right.
"Has no one heard from Cas…. Angel?"
"I'm sure he'll come by." Willow said.
"Buffy, the Judge. We have to stop him." Xander said. "Can you tell us anything?"
"Not much. I kicked him. It was just like a sudden fever. I was afraid that if he had gotten his hands on me…."
"In time, he won't need to." Giles said. "The stronger he gets, he'll be able to reduce us to charcoal with a look. I better continue researching, must look for a weak spot. The rest of you should get to your classes."
"Yeah, I better go, too." Jenny said. Aurelia recognized something in Jenny. She would ask about that later. "I'll, uh, go on the 'Net and search for anything on the Judge."
"After classes I'll come back and help you research." Xander said.
"Yeah, you might find something useful if it's in an 'I Can Read' book." Cordelia said. Xander looked like he was ready to kill her.
Once everyone was gone, Aurelia turned to look at Giles. "You got your memories back." Giles said.
"You knew?" Aurelia asked.
"Yes. The Council knew. They had hoped you wouldn't be called as a Slayer. When you were, they assigned Merrick to your case. He was an expert on the lives you've led."
Aurelia shook her head. "It is poetic irony, is it not? My soulmate is a vampire and I am destined to be his doom."
"When did you get your memories back?"
"Last night. Just after Cassius and I escaped my sister and her minions."
"Were you with Cassius?"
"I was with him all night. Well, until I woke up and he wasn't there. I need to find him."
"Are you sure you're ready to see him? After all, he has been the cause of your death for many lifetimes."
"Watcher, I have been around for many, many centuries and most of those lifetimes I was with Cassius. I know that demon wearing Liam's face was not Cassius that did those horrible things to me."
"You have an enlightened outlook."
"Of course I do." Aurelia looked at Giles. "I will not neglect my duty as the Slayer. The Judge is too great a threat to ignore. I will find Cassius and you should continue to research any methods to stop the Judge short of an army."
Giles nodded. "It's an honor to finally meet you. I have read a lot about you."
"Thank you." Aurelia turned on her heel and walked out of the library.
After searching every place she could think Cassius would be, Aurelia finally returned to Angel's apartment. She opened the door and walked in, closing it gently behind her. She walked over to the newly made bed where one of his shirts was laid out on it. Behind her, Angel stepped over to a statue and picked up a necklace hanging from it, putting it on.
Aurelia turned. "Cassius!" She ran to him and threw herself in his arms. She kissed him passionately, clinging to him like a drowning woman. "Oh, my Cassius! I was so worried!"
Angel hugged her tightly. "I didn't mean to frighten you."
"Where did you go?"
"Oh, I was so worried! You just disappeared."
"What? I took off." Angel went to his bed for the shirt.
"You didn't say anything. You just left me here.
"Yeah. Like I really wanted to stick around after that."
Aurelia was taken aback by his tone. "What?"
"Let's not make an issue out of it, ok? In fact, let's not talk about it at all. It happened."
"I don't understand. Cassius…. It's me. Aurelia. Finally! I'm back."
"I know. It doesn't mean like we have to make a big deal."
"It is 'a big deal'! It took me seventeen years to regain myself! And it's been…. What? Over eighty years since my last reincarnation? Something has been wrong."
"It just took a while, that's all. You're back now and we can have some fun." He reached out to touch her, but she drew back quickly, slapping his hand away.
Angel chuckled at her and Aurelia shook her head. "I don't understand. Have you met someone else? No, that's impossible. There's been no one else but me for you."
"Listen, I've got things to do. I'll call you."
"Angel, stop. Cassius?" He stopped and faced her. "Cassius, I still love you. I forgive you for the things the demon did with your hands. It wasn't your fault. I love you, my Cassius."
Angel pointed coolly at her. "Love you, too, babe. We'll talk soon." He casually walked out the door.
Aurelia could only watch him go, extremely upset and confused. She sat down on the bed and shook her head. After long moments of teary confusion, it hit her. This wasn't Cassius any longer. He was back. Angelus. He was Angelus again. But how? She had to find out.
Aurelia used the Slayer's senses to track Angelus. He had gone to the high school. She quietly crept into the hallways and found Jenny and Xander facing Angelus. The demon was holding Willow tightly by the throat with his back to Buffy.
"He's not Angel anymore. Are you?" Jenny said.
"Wrong. I am Angel. At last!" Angelus said.
"Oh, my God." Xander said.
"I got a message for Aurelia."
"Why don't you give it to me yourself?" Aurelia said behind him.
Angelus spun around with Willow to face her. "Well, it's not really the kind of message you tell. It sort of involves finding the bodies of all your Slayer's friends." He tightened his grip on Willow even more and she let out a pained yelp.
"How did this happen?"
Angelus smiled cruelly. "Does it matter? Your Cassius is dead once again and our games are gonna start all over again."
"Leave Willow alone, and deal with me."
"But she's so cute and helpless. Really a turn-on."
Xander, who had been sneaking up on Angelus, shoved the cross into his face from behind. Angelus reeled back and dropped Willow. She cried out as she fell backward into Xander and they collapsed against the wall.
Angelus turned to Jenny and warded her off with a hand as he started to back down the hall. When he reached Aurelia, he grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her close to him. She inhaled in fright as the horrible memories of everything he'd ever done to her floated to the surface. "Things are about to get very interesting, my love." He kissed her harshly before shoving her into the wall and backing out the door.
Aurelia began to shake as she sat on the floor. This couldn't be happening. He had been back. They'd shared mere hours together before he'd reverted to him. How could this be happening?
Willow and Xander rushed over to Aurelia. "Buffy, are you ok?" Xander asked. Aurelia just stared at the door. "Buffy."
Everyone was convened in the library. Giles was pacing, Xander was standing, Willow and Cordelia were sitting at the table, Jenny was leaning against the shelves behind them, and Aurelia was curled up in a chair, lost in her memories of the things Angelus was capable of.
"And we're absolutely certain that…. that Angel has reverted to his former self?" Giles asked.
"Yeah, uh, we're all certain. Anyone not feeling certain here?" Xander asked.
"Giles, you wouldn't have believed him." Willow said. "He was so…. He came here to kill us."
"What are we gonna do?" Cordelia asked.
"I'm leaning towards blind panic myself." Giles said.
"Rupert, don't talk like that." Jenny said. "The kids."
"He's right." Aurelia said. "Blind panic is most logical."
"Hey, who's Aurelia?" Xander asked. "He said he had a message for Aurelia and then he told it to Buffy like she was the Aurelia chick."
"Because she is." Giles said.
"Huh?" Cordelia asked.
"I second that 'huh'." Xander said.
"Buffy is the reincarnated soul of one half of the Eternal Lovers created by the Roman goddess of love."
"Venus." Aurelia said sadly. "That was so long ago."
"Wait…. Huh?" Xander asked.
"Angelus used to be Cassius. I am his soulmate, Aurelia. We have been reincarnated lifetime after lifetime. We always found each other."
"What happened?" Jenny asked.
"We were celebrating our first child in all our centuries together in 1753 as Liam and Elizabeth. Liam went out to celebrate with his friends and Darla took him from me that night. The demon Liam became…. He made it his mission to seek me out each lifetime and make a mockery of what Cassius and I were. He has been the death of me in every lifetime since. I doubt this one will be much different."
"You're a Slayer now." Giles said.
"I don't think that will make a difference. He's…. Creative."
"Buff…. Aurelia." Willow said. "Is there anything I can do?"
Aurelia stood up. "I should've known. When I saw him at his apartment, he was different. The things he said…."
"What things?" Giles asked.
Aurelia waved him away. "I should've known before that."
"You didn't know he had turned bad?" Jenny asked.
"I should have. Cassius would never have left me alone like that after getting me back after all those years."
"How did you?" Willow asked, looking at Jenny.
"What?" Jenny asked.
"Well, you knew he was bad. You told me to get away from him."
"Well, I saw his face."
Aurelia looked at Jenny hard. She still sensed a familiarity in the woman.
"If only we knew how it happened." Giles said, drawing Aurelia's attention to him.
"What do you mean?" Aurelia asked.
"Well, something set it off. Some, some, uh, event must've triggered his transformation. Well, if anyone would know, Buff…. Aurelia, it should be you."
"Well, did anything happen last night that, that might…."
"I…. I don't know."
"I'm sorry, but we can't afford to…."
"Silence. Please! I will have no more of this." Aurelia turned on her heels. "It is all a little too much to bear at the moment." She walked out of the library, slamming the doors open in frustration and anger.