DISCLAIMER:  It all belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.

When It Counts
By Rosie aka VT

Part 1

"Glaneur Hollandois translates to Gleaner... Dutch... Dreadful to cross-reference. hmm," Giles lifted the cup of tea from its saucer and continued to read the writings of vampire expert Mercure Galant.  Known for being 'pseudoscientific', as one unaware of the reality of the existence of vampires often referred to it in publications of 1732 regarding cases occurring in Eastern Europe,  "Vampire and vukodlak?  Clearly they were unaware that vukodlak, a werewolf, is not a demon as is a vampire.  Why must the facts and fic--"  Giles jumped with a start as the library doors flew open and he heard a rather hysterical Buffy calling him.

"GILES!  Giles."  The second more like a sob.  Giles, meeting a very distraught slayer at the door of his office, didn't bother to ask knowing full well that the story was on its way.

"Something's happened! It's Angel, I can't find him,"  Her tear-streaked face was dead white and she was violently shaking.

Giles removed his glasses, slipping the tip of one arm over his lip,  "Now... you know, Angel is still getting his life... ah.um.well... things back together... maybe."

She cut him off becoming quite frantic,  "No, no, you don't understand!  He was hurt and now I can't find him.  Willow was attacked and he..."

Utterly shocked that this part was withheld, it was his turn to interrupt,  "Willow! Dear God, Buffy, is she okay?  What happened?  Where is she... ah ... Y-you know where she is, right?   She is all right?"

"Um... ah, yeah. she's at the hospital. I figured she would be... you know.in good hands.  But, Giles, Angel!  He's gone!"

Picking up his jacket, he rushed out of the library and through the halls of the school.

"I-I need to find him, Giles,"  Buffy was running after him.

Spinning he glared at Buffy,  "Right now my concern is Willow.  I would have believed that to be yours as well," Giles continued out to his car and rushed to the hospital leaving a stunned and slightly angry Buffy standing in front of the school.

After a short debate and several surprisingly smooth lies the nurse gave Giles the information while she walked him to her room.

"You are her father, sir.?"

"Um, ah,  y-yes, yes, I am.  How is she?"  Luckily, the nervousness and worry for Willow came out sounding more the latter thus fooling the nurse quite well.

"She is stable.  None of her injuries are life- threatening or too serious,  however she did incur some mild head trauma . She'll be sore and we'll need to keep a close eye on her overnight, but I believe she'll recover nicely,"
She stopped at the door and placed her hand on his shoulder,  "Sir... she looks worse than she is and she seems a bit delusional,  but that is probably due to the sedatives we administered after the x-ray results came back. She
apparently has very strong faith."

"Er, faith...?  Ah . may I ask what you mean?"  Giles was taken aback by this due to her being Jewish and now Wiccan.

"She believes an angel saved her, which is common with this type of injury and a strong faith in God.  The only thing is that she was begging to see 'her angel' and becoming quite upset when we couldn't provide it,"  the nurse
smiled,  " That is why we sedated her."

"Oh, ohhh... ah... yes, I see,"  he cleared his throat,  "Her Angel.  May I go in and see her?"

The nurse opened the door for him and returned to her desk.

Willow was lying with the head of the bed slightly raised looking out the window through glossy eyes. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Her skin was nearly as white as the sheets she lay upon, and she was thoughtfully twirling a strand of her crimson hair through her fingers.

"W-Willow?"  Giles placed a hand on hers as he sat in the chair beside the bed,  "Are you okay?"

She nodded slightly.

"Would you like to tell me what happened tonight?"

Willow didn't respond for several minutes.  Then, never taking her eyes from the window that showed the quarter moon hanging in the night sky, she began so speak quietly.

"They grabbed me. vampires. two.  I heard a growl and then one was jerked away from me.  I saw his face... Angel." A couple of weak sobs escaped her and she took a deep breath.

"Angel attacked you?"  Giles was confused and spat the question out without thinking.

Willow continued,  "He was fighting, staked one, the other threw me against a steel door... my head."  She placed her hand on the bandage that covered the wound,  "He hurt Angel. like a movie ended... he was lying on the ground... didn't move... sirens... lights... then darkness,"  Finally, she rolled her head toward him, "What happens if paramedics find no pulse... no heartbeat?  Buffy came to see me.  She saw two ambulances leave the alley.  She asked where Angel was.  I didn't know... she left me in the emergency room."

"What are you saying, Willow. the paramedics looked after Angel?"  Giles eyes widened with the realization,  "Oh dear. oh dear... I-if that is the case, then."  He didn't finish, hoping Willow hadn't thought of this yet

"Morgue," was all she said,  "No way to explain. he is dead... Giles." She looked almost hopeful,  "Can you get him out of there?"

"Willow, I promise you I will do everything within my power.  Now, rest.  I'll be back to get you tomorrow."


"Yes, now, it is a very lovely morning.  Good work.  I must say this is very interesting, indeed,"  The mayor hung up the phone.  Moving from his chair to in front of his desk, he picked up his putter.  He bent and tapped the ball
easily, placing it in the hole,  "Well, that was enough to brighten the day.  Like sunshine and lollipops," He laughed out the words as if it were a childish nursery rhyme.  The office door opened and the new deputy mayor
entered the room.

"Y-you w-wanted t-t-to see me, sir?"

"I have a task for you to oversee.  It seems one of our happy little town's more troublesome members has passed again.  Would you be so kind as to make sure the documents on our 'John Doe' are in order and that the coroner has avoided any procedures that might make the community member in questing miss his funeral?"  Mayor Wilkins approached Bradley and straightened his tie rather snugly,  "Your tie was off by a hair. We just can't have that.  Now... off you go."

Giles sat at his desk yet again.  This time with his head in his hands. < No record of a second EMT vehicle. No record of anyone being brought to the morgue. Of course, no records, you idiot! > Mulling it over all night and
morning after picking Willow up, he had come up with nothing.  Not even a clue after sending an unwilling Xander and Cordelia to do a little morgue breaking and entering.  No sign of Angel.  Buffy had spent the night at the
mansion after checking all his haunts and still hadn't returned.

Willow hacked every office, record server, and police scanner and came up empty.  She felt Angel needed help.  She never really gave it much thought before.  The odd way she knew when he'd show, or the way they always figured or 'guessed' each other's moods.  It was usually chalked up to a "Wow, that was creepy" explanation.  Now, she was beginning to wonder if something hadn't happened during the curse. She vaguely remembered Jenny mentioning that the elder woman felt his pain lessening during her explanation as to who she was and why she was sent to Sunnydale. < Maybe the curse bound us... would explain the naughty thoughts. Oh, stop that. shesh. gotta help Angel >

On a whim, or maybe out of desperation, she went to Giles' office door and tried to explain this theory to him,  "Well ... at this juncture in time it couldn't hurt to try to use this.  H-how do you feel about me trying hypnosis
and i-if there is a, ah, link between you, it will help us find him, perhaps?"

"What?"  Buffy had entered the library just in time to hear what Giles had said,  "Uh, if anyone has a 'link' to Angel, it's me!  He's in love with me!"  Jealousy visibly became the drive behind this reaction.

"Ah, Buffy... you don't understand.  Willow performed the soul restoration.  She may, ah, very well be. um. linked mentally to Angel,"  Giles showed the bit of edge he held onto from the night before from Buffy's lack of concern
for Willow's well being.

"Well... isn't this just peachy?  My best friend is now mentally linked to my boyfriend all because I'm not a witch,"  Buffy turned and stormed from the library.

"Buffy?"  Willow started after her but Giles gently grasped her arm.

"Let her go.  We have work to do,"  he said.

Giles had Willow sit in a chair and began the hypnosis.  Almost instantly, Willow began to tremble.  Tears streamed down her face and her head lolled back.

"Willow... can you hear me?  What do you see?  Can you hear anything?"

Panicked, Willow blurted random phrases, "Darkness!  Smell pine, and earth...  Silence. OH MY GOD NOT AGAIN!"  Willow slumped in the chair in a semi-conscience state.

Part 2

< Darkness!  Pine?  Earth?  OH MY GOD NOT AGAIN NO! NO... > Angel found himself awake, living the same nightmare he lived over 240 years ago.  The smell of the earth was unforgettable.  Horror shot though every nerve in his body.  With the panic, his game face slid into place and he began to beat on the wood mere inches from his face.  He began clawing.  Splinters of wood gouged his hands and fell onto his face.  Memories of his last grave
hauntingly flooded his mind.  His rage, the anger, the ache in his head, and his hunger to feed.  Angel fought to keep the demon under control.  < Jesus. I've been buried.  Christ, I haven't fed!  Do I have the strength to dig my
way out?  Fuck.  What if I do and it's daylight?  No one knows where I am or what has happened.  WILLOW!!  What happened to Willow?  Oh my God, what if I didn't save her?  Oh, Willow. let her be okay.>

"I'm okay, Angel.  I'm okay,"  Willow, still slumped over the side of the chair, began to mumble.

"Willow, can you hear him?  Is it Angel?"  Giles was half-frantic and half-fascinated by the event.

< Willow. did you... ?  No. she couldn't have... Willow?  Where are you?  You're okay?  My sweet, sweet Willow, never mind me as long as you're safe. >

"No!  No, Angel, where are you?  What's happening?  Don't give up.  It's daytime.  Are you safe?"

<OH. My God, y-you can hear me. o-or know what I'm thinking.  Or whatever...  No sun h-here.  It's day, right?   I... I'm weak... I think I have a couple broken ribs. pain.  A grave. Willow, I've been buried.>

"Oh my God, a g-gr-grave. are you certain?  A g-grave?  Hold.just h-hold on, Angel.   I-I'll, we'll get you out."

"Grave?  Oh dear... How do we.?  But, of course.  Tell him after sunset we will come for him."  Giles told Willow.

"Angel, it's going to be sunset soon.  Giles and I will be there soon.  Hold on, okay?  I promise, you'll be okay. I won't give up. just like before. I believe in you and will not lose you again.  I can't lose you again."  < I
love you and I'm not going to let you go > Willow let the thought slither through her higher mind over and over.

Giles looked on as tears fell onto the sleeve of her fuzzy peach colored sweater, concerned for Willow's apparent emotions toward Angel.  < Could the restoration ritual have bonded her so closely to him? Poor, dear child has no
idea she feels so deeply for him.  Oh... Buffy... This will be kept to myself. >

"Willow, listen to the sound of my voice.  When I count backward from three, you will be calm and remember where Angel is and what we must do.  You will be calm and clearheaded.  Oh, and your head doesn't hurt,"  Giles figured the emotions she expressed may not be something she needed right now.  The latter was merely to ease her pain, he hoped.

< I promise I won't go anywhere until you get here. > Angel, hearing the end of her plea, attempted to joke, < Maybe not the time. for jokes.  But don't worry, Will, I'll be fine. I. >

"3. 2. 1."

Willow bolted upright in the chair and stared at Giles,  "Willow, are you w-well, all right?" Giles looked on squinting a bit in hope that the post-hypnotic suggestions took.

"Yeah... a bit on the weird side of creeped, but okay. and my head feels, ah... smaller.  Not so much with the ow!"  Giles smiled at her and stood from his chair, "What time is it and can the two of us dig him out alone?"

"It's nearly 6:00 and the sun is setting.  Well... ah, I believe Angel will do most of the digging.  We'll just need to be there for, ah... backup in case the party or parties responsible are lurking about."

"Yeee.  I wonder who, or what, did this and why?  I mean, I know the hospital called the dead thing but why no paper trail?"  Willow grabbed her jacket and she and Giles went over the possibilities as they exited the library,
"Shouldn't we try and find Buffy?  What if there are baddies . big slimy demon baddies and, oh God!"

"Willow, I assure you that right now Buffy is not in any state of mind to be around you.  She's angry and it's best she calm down.  I think with this new found, um. connection you have to, ah. Angel, that you may need to discuss, um, things.  Yes, things,"  He tried desperately to avoid giving Willow any clue to his newly acquired knowledge,  "Let's just go, and I am sure that once Angel is unearthed,"  he cleared his throat at his own poor choice of words,  "We will be fine."

Growing very edgy, Angel let the anger of the demon begin tearing at the wood.  Soon his face and torso were covered in fresh earth.  Once again, horrid memories flooded his mind.  Flashes of his original grave, the feel of
the first of many moonlit night's air hitting his cool flesh.

The first time that he pulled fresh graveyard earth onto his body was a memory he shared with the demon he also shared his body with.  Then it was not the fear, guilt or sorrow that he now felt remembering his awaking.
Fragments of trees whizzing past him, the branches scratching and opening his skin.  The beat of the peasant girl's heart as it rapidly pumped her sweet metallic-tinged blood through her frail body.  She was young, a farm hand
finishing a task left undone to avoid her master's wrath.  The scent of her fear of the darkness settling in.  Her knowing the myth of the dearg-due (the Irish vampire) and her only desires to fulfill her duties and quickly get

Newborn to his nocturnal existence, Angelus wasted no time. Like a panther, he coveted his prey, pounced and ripped at the throat of the girl until the jugular split spurting the warm fluid of sustenance.  That which Angelus
would crave, hunt and acquire for the next hundred years.

Angel continued to dig, blood-tinged tears leaving trails through the dirt as they slid down his temples. Existing so many years, yet never before this night did the 'first kill' spring to life in his tormented mind.

< Nearly out ... Damn it! > Angel's hands came in contact with metal. < They, whoever they are, entombed me in steel > He froze.  Shock, fear, thoughts of starving here for eternity overcame him.

Part 3

"Oh, Giles. this one is fresh but there is no marker.  Could this be where Angel is?"  Willow stopped in front of a new grave larger than most,  "Why is it so big?"

"Yes, it could very well be.  It is rather large," Giles placed the shovel he had brought along upright and stomped it into the earth. 'CLINK'  "Oh my... This can't be." He turned to Willow who looked very alarmed,  "I do believe
I've hit some sort of metal,"  Giles continued to jet the shovel into the ground looking for where the steel ended,  "I-It seems our opponent has gone to great lengths to keep Angel right where he is."


Angel heard the shovel hit.  After a few seconds, the disturbing sound of hope came again. 'Clink', then another.  Soon, they were coming in regular intervals from different areas.  < Must be Giles and Willow. Must be after
sundown. >  The pang of hunger hit him quite hard.  A spinning sensation filled his head with images of the kills of his demon.  All of his astute vampire senses kicked into over-drive.  He could hear not only the shovel
hitting but also murmurs of voices.  The faintest sound of the human hearts beating just inches above him.  His nostrils flared taking in the smallest scent of their blood.  < What am I thinking? Clearly, I am NOT thinking. I
have to get out of here and feed. > Angel, now becoming more frantic, began to dig more dirt away from the barrier that prevented his escape.

Willow, now on her knees, noticed the slight hint of a glare.  One of Giles' jolts with the shovel had opened the ground enough for her to see the street lamp reflecting off of the steel,  "Giles, could you dig some of this dirt
away so we can see what we're up against?"  Standing, she moved back.

"Y-yes yes, of course,"  Giles began to remove the dirt, stopping and setting the shovel down once he cleared a 4 x 4-foot area.

Willow knelt down and ran her hand over the steel,  "Oh God... Giles, they knew that we'd do this."

Standing in the pine box with his hands against his tomb, with no more than enough room to turn in his burrow, Angel felt dirt fall onto his head and hands.  Beams of light no more than an inch in diameter began to fall upon
him,  "Willow, please say that is you?"  The hunger and desperation in his voice was clear,  "Willow?  Willow?"  Angel's voice grew harsher as the smell of the humans, his friends, filled his hungered being.

"Angel!"  Barely audible, she sobbed his name,  "Are you okay?  Can you get out?"

Giles fell to his knees next to her and took over as Willow burst into tears,  "Angel, whoever is responsible for this has made it, well... quite difficult for us to get you out of there.   It is evident they expected us to try to
release you.  I assume the holes here were meant more for, ah. sunshine rather than communication."

"Yeah, I'm thinking that was the backup plan," Angel fought for control,  "I don't think I am strong enough to get through this on my own."

"Giles!"  Willow jumped to her feet,  "I am going to ask you to go get some things for me.  You're going to be very, well, unhappy with me, but I promise you can tell me how bad I am later and I will listen astutely and be a good
little witch from now on but right now..."

Giles glared at her,  "Willow... what is it that you need and, yes, this will be discussed at a later date?"

"Um.ah. Okay, I need candle... some herbs... the usual barrier breaking stuff... and a blowtorch... just in case,"  she grinned hoping by the time this was over that Giles would have forgotten she'd been casting again.

"I will be right back.  However, we will be dealing with this subject,"  Giles handed Willow a stake,  "Ah... For unwanted visitors. or, ah. um. I will be back as soon as possible."

Willow sat cross-legged by the opening leaning down on her elbows and held her head in her hands,  "So, ah, how ya doin'?  I'm gonna keep you company till the old cranky guy gets back... Oh, sorry 'bout the old crack... Are you sensitive about your age, Angel?"   She was babbling but it reminded him of who she was and who he was now.  He smiled to himself and kind of chuckled.

"No, it's okay.  I've been around long enough to get over it.  Not aging helps so it's a bit easier.  I don't think I look 240 plus years,"  The babbling, silly Willow-like conversation was helping him cope.

"NO!  You're beautiful, er... ah... I, uh, meant you don't look 243 at all.  Nope, not one little tiny, itsy bitsy bit.  Nope!  You have aged very, um... okay,"  < Nice cover, Willow.  Maybe he didn't catch that.  Oh my God, I hope
he didn't. >

Angel was stunned at her first remark.  He didn't respond or know how to respond.  Proud to think she saw him that way, maybe.  He always figured he was attractive to some extent, but beautiful?  Angel chuckled again thinking of her nervousness and the poor attempt at covering the meaning of what she said.

"I'm sorry, Angel. I didn't, ah... Wow, do I feel stupid.  But, hey, you are laughing.at me. but still, laughing.  That's better than being upset, right?  Right.   Okay, new subject,"  < He laughed at me... Oh stop being such a... a
whatever I'm being. just help Angel. >

"Wait, Willow,"  Angel's voice held concern,  "I'm not laughing at you because of what you said.  It was just cute when you got all nervous and well I'm flattered that you think I'm attractive.  I have never been told I was
beautiful before. You know... fangs. ridges on the forehead. yellow eyes usually not a big factor in beauty and certainly not a turn on."

"Turn on?  I never said you turned me on.  I'm, in fact, ah. not.  Nope, not at all. not one bit.  Ah, um, ick,"  She was a little freaked having this kind of conversation with Buffy's man,  "I just meant that you are a
beautiful, ah, person. not that you are gorgeous, or that you have great bone structure and deep penetrating eyes or that when you smile. or your bod. Oh, God, can we not talk?"

"Willow, it's okay. don't be... When I smile what?"  All of her words set in rather slowly.

"Oh my God, can we please not do this?  I really don't have it in me to take this right now.  I, uh. I'm sure you've heard all of this before from Buffy, who loves you and who you love and you so don't need to hear it from me, in
fact, I have no idea what I was saying.  I think it's the head injury.  What.? Where am I...?" She knew he wasn't buying this but she had to think of a way to get herself out of this mess.

Angel felt this incredible pain in his gut and slumped as far as the tight grave would allow.  Willow heard him moan,  "Angel?  Angel?  Are you okay?  Angel?"

"Willow, I think they did something to me.  I-I am in a lot of pain."

" No more talking then, Angel.  Just rest, ah, or whatever you can do stuck in there, okay?  Giles will be here soon,"  Willow instantly forgot all about her feelings and focused on Angel.

Shortly after, Giles returned carrying a box with a large case under his arm.  He set the things down, "Willow, what are you planning. I mean, I understand the torch, but what can you cast?"  Giles was removing the torch from the
case and preparing it.

"Well, I was thinking if they know that Angel is a vampire, then they also have an idea of the black arts and I want to do a casting to break any kind of barrier they may have put up. There is something here or something they've
done that is causing Angel to be very weak and in a lot of pain,"  She looked hard at Giles expecting some kind of argument.  When it didn't come she set up for her ritual.  She encircled the opening in the earth with candles and
charms sat facing east and called her corners.  Giles sat in awe with the new revelation that his little hacker was a more developed witch than he ever imagined.

"Angel, I want you to get as low in the hole as you can to prevent the torch from hitting you, while I try to cut through this,"  Angel did as Giles told him and crouched in the very bottom atop of the earth he had dug through only hours before.

Willow closed her eyes and began chanting repetitious phrases that Giles couldn't make out.  Soon, she was repeating them so fast the words became one. just then a faint circular mist of light appeared in the center of the
circle Willow had cast.  With her words, it increased in size until it met the candles and dissipated. Willow fell forward and fainted.  Giles rushed over to her and lifted her shoulders up and slightly shook her, "Willow!
Willow!" He shouted her name.

"Giles, is she okay?  What's going on?"  Angel was beating on the steel.

"Huh?  What?  Oh, hi, Giles.  Did it work?"  Willow opened her eyes and smiled,  "What?  Why are you looking at me like that. did I faint again?  Shesh, I hate when that happens.  Everyone freaks out.  I'm fine. Now, did it

"Ah... I don't know... what. ah. there was a mist of light in the circle... uh... this happens often?"  She nodded, jumped to her feet and pointed sternly at the torch.

"Your turn... Come on, it's going to be daylight soon,"  she grinned.

Giles told Angel to get down again and he complied.  He picked up the torch, lit it and started to work at the steel.  After an hour or so he had managed to nearly complete a circular cut.

"Now, ah, Angel, do you have the strength to open this?  If I continue at this, it will fall in on you, so you have to try."

Angel stood again and pushed with everything he had.  The steel was beginning to give.  There was now a crack wide enough for Giles to get the tip of the shovel in and help by prying.  After a lengthy struggle, they managed to get the opening ajar enough for Angel to get his upper body out.  Willow scrambled across the ground, bracing her feet on the steel, and helped pull Angel out.  Thoroughly exhausted and very weak, Angel landed on top of Willow with his head on her chest.

Willow threw her arms around him.  Angel sighed and tried to get up managing to barely make it to a sitting position.  Willow sat and he leaned into her.  She pulled him closer, stroked his hair and looked up at Giles,  "We have to get him home before the sun rises,"  Again her words came more in the form of sobs.

"Yes, yes, we must.  I'll pull the car..."

"What the Hell is this?"  Buffy came running up and stood beside Giles,  "Okay, okay this is just too much. Willow, you wanna get your drool off my boyfriend?"

"Buffy!"  Giles snapped at her,  "Now is not the time.  If you are going to be of no help, then go home. if you stay, we don't need your snide remarks.  We don't have much time,"  He turned and took her with him by a gripping her
arm firmly.  As they went for the car, he explained the events of the night.

"But, Giles, if you knew Angel was in trouble, why didn't you get me to help you?  Why didn't you tell me?  Did you ever stop to consider how this would effect me or how I felt about this whole connection thing?"

"Buffy, you clearly have more concern right now for your own feelings.  This was never, and is not, about you or your boyfriend, as you so shallowly put it.  We, Willow and I, did what we had to in order to save Angel.  We didn't have the time to deal with your poor attitude or your jealously,"  Giles got into the car and waited to see if she was going to join him.  Buffy stood outside of the car with her arms crossed over her chest fuming.  She dropped her arms, spun and walked off.  < Oh, this is just bloody lovely.  When will she learn? > He pulled the old car up onto the grass as close as he could to where Angel and Willow sat.