Title: The Slayer's Hunter
Author: Robyn the Snowshoe Hare
E-mail: snowshoe16@hotmail.com
Part: 5/?
Disclaimer: See prologue


Angel walked down the silent streets, lugging the deadweight of his son. As he had done a dozen times, he looked down at the boy's face, peaceful in his present state of unconciousness. Looking closely at the boy, Angel could clearly see the stamp of his own features. The boy had his face, his build, his height, and even the lock of hair that was hanging down into the boy's eyes was the same shade of brown as his own. Arriving at the address, Angel looked at the small house with a pain in his heart. His traitorous memory summoned up hundreds of images of this house, remembered from the time when the demon had been in control. Angelus had lurked here often, looking through the windows at Buffy and Xander, watching them, waiting for a chance to hurt Buffy. The memories passed quickly through his mind, as though delighting in the pain they caused him....

....Xander and Buffy, soon after their wedding, trying to put together a baby crib, without much sucess....

....Xander, his hand on Buffy's stomach, his face lighting up in delight after feeling the baby kick....

....A few days after they returned from the hospital. Lying on the floor with the baby, the two exhausted parents had fallen asleep, while their child tried to focus his eyes on his tiny fist....

....Buffy and Xander, holding each other close. Not the hug of people who are just friends, but the hug of two people deeply in love....

Angel shook these memories off with a great effort. But as he stepped onto the porch of the house his mind flew back to the last time he had stood there, the night his soul had been restored. But at such a price....

....Angel looked at the people gathered on the porch. Giles' face was haggard, and he seemed to have aged ten years in just a few hours. Willow and Oz leaned against each other, gaining strength and comfort from the contact. A large bandage covered Willow's forehead and most of her right eye, and Oz's arm was in a cast. All three watched him with sorrow, pity, and more than a little wariness. But none of them were vindictive by nature, and they clearly saw his grief and self-loathing. For them, he was suffering enough with having to live with the knowledge that he had killed the only person who had loved him, and whom he had loved in return. Angel didn't look at the fourth person on the porch, and he finished his narrative, his voice thick with pain.

"I tore at her throat, making the wound far wider than necessary, enjoying her agony. I drained her blood, gulping it down. Then, when it was coursing through me...it was as if she pushed the demon back, and I was back in control."

A sharp noise of disgust stopped him, and for the first time, he looked over at Xander.

What he saw stunned him. Xander's eyes were empty, lit only by a deep hatred that was directed at Angel. He hadn't changed or showered since the attack, and dried blood covered his hands and arms, his own blood mingled with that of his wife. Tears had left tracks on his face, and in one hand he clutched a piece of bloodstained cloth as though it were a lifeline.

When Xander spoke, it was in a low, hoarse voice, that nevertheless cut straight to the bone, and to the heart.

"You couldn't go around sucking the blood of normal people, could you? You just had to come after everyone and everything near and dear to her, didn't you? Well, I don't know how you can say that you even had a soul after you destroyed the only things in this world that even tied you to humanity in the first place! You broke her heart when you lost your soul, and I say you lost your soul when you killed your son!"

With those words, Xander threw himself forward, holding a stake that he had been concealing in his sleeve. Giles, Oz, and Willow managed to restrain him, but Xander was out of control, desperately trying to reach the killer of his wife and son.

Angel could only back away, his mind filled with images of the small brown-haired child who Buffy had been carrying when he had ambushed her. The child whose neck he had snapped with a quick jerk of his hands, while Buffy could do nothing but watch. And worse yet, the memory of Angelus' joy at that heart-broken expression, and at the crunch of bones.

Horror filled him. He had killed Buffy's son right in front of her.

His son.

Angel turned and fled into the night....

Angel pulled himself free of recolections of that awful night, and resolutely turned his mind to the problem at hand. But his thoughts mocked him, returning time and again to the questions that had tormented him all along the walk to the Harris residence. Why had Xander lied to him, telling him that Hunter had died at his hand? And what brown-haired child had he killed that night, if it hadn't been Hunter? And yet another question, what had Buffy meant in her choice of name?

< Later >, he told himself firmly. Gathering his strength, he knocked three times on the door. The sound of the knocks fell upon the door like the three dread notes that represented the hammer-blows of Fate that opened Verdi's opera, 'La Forza del Destino'.

The Forces of Destiny.

Part 6