Angel's in the Outfield
Lyrically searching for "their blonde friend," Lorne played the tape of Spike singing. Before it was quite over Lorne clicked it off and sat silently musing. Buffy jazzed her hands at him, eager for his thoughts.
Lorne clucked his tongue and said, "He wanted to stop your relationship and felt he was causing a lot of your pain."
Buffy exhaled quietly. She couldn't deny it. Both of them hurt each other, yet Lorne's dry take sent a lashing of guilt through her.
Lorne continued, "He hates himself. I saw ... some of the stuff that happened." He cleared his throat. "I-I think he's harkening back to the beginning of, um, what you guys had."
Buffy looked at her hands. "Okay, good to know. Tell me again why we can't just break Halfrek's necklace? Seems like an easy solution."
Angel sighed. "I told you Buffy, Wolfram and Hart represents D'Hoffyrn. Since Halfrek works for him, she's under our protection too."
Buffy stood and gave Halfrek a poison glance. "I don't care if you represent the Pope. Besides, I know you kill clients all the time. You don't have any respect for the rules, what's one more demerit going to matter? Besides, I'm not saying kill her, just break the damn necklace! You don't represent the friggin' necklace, do you? Halfrek will become human, so represent her then."
Angel said, "D'Hoffyrn's been around too long. He's way too powerful. I make an enemy out of him, and ..." he shook his head.
Halfrek nodded agreement, eyes flitting warily from Angel to Buffy.
Buffy closed her eyes, holding her temper. "Would breaking the necklace bring Spike back?"
Angel reluctantly nodded, and seeing Buffy's closed eyes, said "Yeah. I suppose it would. You see, that's another bad result."Buffy crossed her arms and let her eyes flicker onto Angel's. "I miss the Angel who wasn't afraid of some dusty old demon. I don't give a damn if he gets ticked at me."
Angel's expression hardened. "Maybe Spike doesn't even want you back, you ever think of that? Maybe he's happy right where he is."
Buffy leaned across the desk and gripped Angel's coat lapels. She hauled him toward her. "Get over your jealousy, Angel. I'm not giving up on him, and I'm getting him back with or without your help. Besides, Lorne could tell he loves me."
Angel looked down at the clenched fist that wrinkled his coat. Buffy withdrew her hand, and he sat back. "You want me to sing for Lorne?"
"Betcha you'd be disappointed if I sang for him right now."
Angel stood up and pointed to the door. "I want you out of my office. Get out of my building, get out of my life. I won't help you find that - bleached menace. By all means get him back, get your champion. But get him without my help."
Buffy stared at him levelly. She turned for the door.
"And if you do find him and he takes you, tell him -"
She looked back.
He sighed and sat down. "Tell him the better man won."
Buffy closed the door behind her.
Lorne expected Angel to order him out, too. He waited for a moment, watching his boss untense his neck muscles.
"What are you waiting for?" Angel said. "Get Wesley and go with her. Figure out where that annoying little grandchilde of mine is."
Lorne took Halfrek's arm and headed out. He gave his boss a beaming smile that Angel didn't see. In the street outside Buffy climbed into her rental car and rested her head against the steering wheel. The horn bleated, and she pulled back. She sagged against the headrest and watched the play of reddish light against her inner lids, resolving just to rest her eyes, and not let sleep overtake her.
After a few moments a knock on her window startled her from her reverie. Lorne stood by with Wesley and Halfrek in tow, smiling enthusiastically. Buffy turned the key and rolled the electric window down.
"What is it?"
Lorne explained that Angel wanted them to help her, but that necklace smashing was out of the question.
"But come with us to my club and we can help you find our blondie bear. We better hurry though, or pretty soon our bird on a wire will get her fazing ability back and skip out on us before you can say 'Do Re Mi.' Whaddaya say?"
Buffy nodded. "I'd love your help, but we're taking my car. Get in."
Lorne frowned. "Sweetheart, we have luxury sedans, limos. This is a compact."
Buffy turned on the engine.
"You realize, we're helping you."
She gunned the motor.
They squeezed in and the Nissan Sentra lurched away from the curb. Buffy apologized for her poor driving skills.
"I'm still learning," she explained.
"How delightful," Wesley remarked, trying to find an agreeable situation for his feet.
Lorne gave her directions. Buffy didn't speak until they were headed into the club. "Caritas," she read on the sign above the door. "So, what is it we're going to do here?"
"Uh," Lorne replied. He hurriedly activated all the club's lights, then set some bottles up on the bar. "I'm going to mix a Sea Breeze for myself, and since Hallie here is going to favor us with a nice tune, would anyone else like a cocktail?"
They said no thanks.
Halfrek scanned the karaoke playlist and chose Paper Moon. Buffy listened to her hit the soft notes and asked Lorne for a sip of his Seabreeze.
He held up a finger, concentrating on Halfrek's performance.
Yes, it's only a canvas sky,
hanging over a muslin tree
but it wouldn't be make-believe if you believed in me ...
Lorne took his drink back from Buffy and sipped long, then said, "I don't know a heck of a lot about dimensions, even if I am from a different one. If I had someone who could astral-project through dimensions, I could feel it out. Know anybody?"
Buffy rooted around her pants pockets and grinned as she produced her cellphone. "I can have someone here in a minute."
Wesley and Lorne exchanged surprised looks.
"And who would this be?" Wesley asked. "How far away is this person right now?"
Buffy finished typing a text message and set down her phone. "Willow. You remember? She can be here by ... how long does it take a text to reach someone? She's in England."
Wesley winced. "She'll need to catch a plane. From England to Los Angeles is a long flight, about-"
"About now." Buffy cried with a dramatic gesture. They looked around expectantly, but no one miraculously appeard.
"Ah, give it a second, maybe she didn't read it yet." Buffy watched the screen of her phone. "Just another second, I'm sure."
Wesley pursed his lips pessimistically. "I'm certain your friend has great magical abilities, but we should press on and find -"
A bright light flashed and Willow puffed into being a few feet away.
"You're right," Buffy told Wesley. "What do I know?"
"Buffy!" Willow squealed. The two ran into a hug and jumped up and down together.
"So good to see you! Me and Xander miss you so much."
"How is Xander?"
"Same as always. But he's such a cool watcher. Not like the total geeks the Council used to appoint."
Wesley looked pained.
"Wesley's here," Buffy pointed out.
"Oh," Willow said, and waved. "Hi, Wesley."
Wesley waved back sheepishly.
"I didn't mean all the Council's Watchers were geeks," Willow allowed.
Buffy cocked her eyebrows.
"Giles is really cool."
Wesley flushed. "Yes, well. Could we get on with it, then?"
Buffy pulled Willow to the table. "Let me tell you everything."