A/N: Thanks to everyone who's reviewed and liked this story, so much. Please continue to read and review 'cause that's what keeps us writers alive. So enough of me rambling, on with the show.

Start of Something New

Standing at the side of the bed, he watched the innocent picture the boy made when fast asleep, wondering how anyone could do such a thing.

'You did the right thing, Angel. He wouldn't survive if we let him stay in that house,' Angelus spoke, deadly calm, as they both reminisced on the event that had happened a few hours ago.

Flashback

"Oh, well. Maybe next time you can come with us." Willow smiled sadly. Xander quickly nodded his head and said goodbye to the group. Angel quickly followed the young boy, staying in the shadows of the library. The smell of arousal mixed with fear surrounded the boy as he continued to follow and protect him.

"Everything always happens to me," Angel heard Xander mumble suddenly as he entered his house.

Angel opened his mouth, puzzled as to why Xander thought everything happened to him. He had been tempted to ignore the shouting of an older male from the house. But when he heard screaming, curiosity overcame him. He frowned angrily at the house, then the almost overpowering smell of sheer terror hit him and involuntarily he growled. The delicious aroma of fear and the sweet scent of terror had awakened his demon, but both he and Angelus were astonished to find it coming from the boy. Overcome with rage, Angel let Angelus out of his cage. Suddenly his foot crashed through the front door. He stood there in the doorway, a look of molten fury on his face.

"Xander, invite me!" he bellowed, the loudness of his voice seeming to shake the house's foundations.

"Come in," Xander muttered before sliding into unconsciousness.

Harris Sr. glared belligerently at the intruder standing in his hallway. "Who the hell are you?" he taunted. "My boy swing both ways, that it? You his queer boyfriend?"

Harris Sr. swung a right. Angelus caught the punch in his own hand, then with his free hand grabbed Xander's father around the throat, lifted him off the floor and slammed him into the nearest wall.

Angelus slowly tightened his grip on the man's throat, both the demon and the man inside him enjoying the bully's desperate struggle for air. Suddenly Angelus heard the sound of sobbing. He turned his head to see a woman who could only be Xander's mother standing on the stairs. "Please let him go," she wailed.

After letting out an inhuman growl, Angelus threw Harris Sr. to the floor at his wife's feet. The vampire strode over to the shaking woman. "Tell him when he wakes up that if he tries to touch what's mine again, I'll rip his throat out." Without waiting for a reply, the vampire turned, scooped up the still senseless Xander and left the house. Angelus returned control of his body to Angel, knowing that his role for the night was finished, and he walked in the shadows of the town, avoiding any more problems.

Angel took Xander to his apartment since he knew his friends were too far away and wouldn't be of much help.

He reached his door without incident, and fumbled to get his keys from his pocket, Xander still heavy and unconscious in his arms. He finally gained entrance, pushing the door closed behind them with his foot, and carried the boy to the couch. Angel frowned, not liking the fact that Xander hadn't yet regained consciousness, and not knowing how grave his other injuries were. He knelt beside the couch, stretching his senses for any information they could give.

Xander's breath was deep and even, and there was none of the distress to the sound that would indicate his lungs had been punctured. He remembered all too clearly the blood that had spilled from the boy's lips, but was sure now that it was from the assault to his mouth and not from an internal injury. Angel was relieved, knowing how Xander preferred to avoid the emergency room at all costs, and not eager to go there himself, especially with a comatose, underage, and clearly abused boy in his arms.

He needed to know how badly Xander's ribs had been hurt, though. Feeling slightly ashamed even though his intentions were honorable, Angel inched up the thin t-shirt that Xander wore, baring a long stretch of golden skin. As the injury came into view, that soft shade was corrupted, the area already bruising in a garish spill of color. Angel's hand covered the place, as if he could make the hurt disappear by simply hiding it from view. The boy's skin felt incredibly hot against his, and Angel wondered if it was a sign of fever or just the fact that Xander was human, alive, his heart beating with heated blood, flushing his body with life that called to his vampiric nature.

Angel pressed softly, testing the give of the ribs beneath the discolored flesh, glad that Xander wasn't awake for the pain that this necessary act must cause. The ribs held; bruised probably, but not broken. He let his hand caress the bruised area just once and then reluctantly but quickly removed it. Averting his eyes, Angel gently pulled the shirt back down, hiding Xander's body from sight once more.

He stood, unsure of what to do with himself until Xander woke. He finally made his way to the kitchen, intending to see if he had anything appropriate for humans around.

Xander swam up to wakefulness, his face buried in the bedding, reluctant to face the day. Bits and pieces of the night before drifted into his memory, and he stretched out an arm, groaning as pain raced up his sides.

He was alone. He groaned into the pillow. His spirits plummeting, he considered his options. He wasn't up to public transportation yet, but maybe Willow could come and get him. Opening weary eyes, he frowned as he realized he was not in his bedroom or his house.

'What the hell?' he thought as he studied the room for a minute, still dazed with sleep, eventually figuring out that he was in Angel's bed.

Before he could figure out whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, the door opened, and the vampire came in balancing a loaded tray.

Seeing Xander peering at him, he paused for a second. "You're awake." He set the tray down on the table by the bed, and then sat down on the mattress, looking concerned.

"Dead boy?"

Angel winced inwardly. "I'm sorry; I wanted to be back before you woke up."

Xander tried to gather his wits. "How come I'm in your room?"

Angel reached for the tray and settled it across Xander's lap. "Because this is where I could take you late last night without going to the hospital."

More nervous than he had been in two centuries, the vampire fussed about with the items on the breakfast tray. "I made you an omelet. Ham and mushrooms, with Swiss. And toast; white bread, lightly toasted, lots of butter. Oh, and orange juice. I didn't know what you like." The vampire swallowed, anxious. "That's why I wasn't here when you woke up. I was making you breakfast."

Finally, he raised his eyes to meet Xander's, big and brown, with a little gleam of hope starting. "You must be hungry, right?"

Xander paused, not really sure what to make of the situation. Okay, dealing. And he was hungry, actually. He picked up his fork and took a few bites-it was good, really good, but…"Angel, what's going on?"

A book slammed against the table of the library, shocking everyone in the library.

"Okay, we've been researching this whole prophecy thing this whole day, and the more I read and research it, the more I want to just forget the whole thing," Buffy whined.

"Well, we can't just forget about it. This is our job. Saving the world, fighting evil, and making old, weird, hard to understand prophecies come true and if Angel and one other person are the keys to saving it, then we've got to figure out what they have to do," Cordelia spoke as the surprising voice of reason. Everyone looked at her, shocked.

"What? Can't I be smart and reasonable for once?" Cordelia asked rhetorically.

"Well, you can, but usually we don't expect it." Oz answered.

"Yeah, well anyway, we looked through all these books for any kind of ritual that the prophecy is talking about that it could be anything. Even this Zhou-Wang person."

"You mean the Chinese god of Sodomy?" Wesley asked.

"Okay, maybe not him, but still, B has a point. We looked through all the books and not one matches up," Faith said.

"Well, we have to keep trying, the eclipse is only three weeks away and we have to figure it out soon or…" Giles began.

"We will have another apocalypse and the hell mouth will open." Everyone in the room spoke at once.

"Well," Giles began, flustered a bit. "I believe that the person the prophecy speaks of is someone that Angel knows that is currently alive, and by alive I mean human."

"What makes you say that?" Faith asked.

"Well, most of the ritual that involve a soul binding as the prophecy predicts involve a blood offering, and since most of the gods were and are worshiped mostly by humans, the ritual would need humans' blood to work."

"Well that narrows the search down to a few million people." Cordelia spoke sarcastically.

"Not necessarily. The prophecy, also, states that the person is, or more likely was, born in strife. So we need to study Angel's past and narrow it down to one whose family has had serious troubles, such as being on the streets, abuse, anything of that sorts," Wesley explained. As the word abuse came from his mouth, Cordelia remembered the bruises that were on Xander's body when they had dated. She quickly got out of her seat and started to leave the library.

"Ms. Chase, where are you going?" Giles asked.

"Oh, I forgot I something at home. I'll be back in a few minutes," she lied as she left the library. She quickly got into her car and made her way to Xander's house, hoping that she would find him there.

"Angel, what's going on?"

"Nothing is going on. I'm just watching to see if you are healing after what happened last night," Angel spoke, looking at the young teen.

"I'll be fine, Dead boy. It happened before and it will happen again, so it's nothing really different. He gets drunk, beats me up, I heal and the next month it happens again. A repeating cycle." Xander spoke solemnly as he continued to eat. Angel watched him.

"Your dad isn't that different than mine was," Angel said, surprising Xander. "He would beat me and throw me out of the house for anything. One day I had enough of it and left saying I wouldn't be coming back. That same night was the night I met Darla."

Xander stared at the vampire. Surprised at Angel's short, yet shocking story, and that he and Dead boy had anything in common.

"The difference between my story and yours is that you have a choice. You can choose to stay in that house and one day end up like me, or you can choose to go somewhere else away from the pain," Angel told Xander. The tension in the room was thick between the two. One awaiting the other's choice, the other thinking about a decision between his family and his own safety. Xander opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by a loud banging on his door.

"Angel! You get your undead ass over here and open this door before I try to break it down!" screamed the voice of one of Sunnydale's scariest cheerleaders ever.