"Spiders?" Angel says.
Kate shakes her head, smiling. "No. I thought they were kind of neat, actually. So self-contained. And generally I wasn't scared of insects, snakes, all the things girls are supposed to be scared of." She pauses, then takes a guess. "Were you scared of the dark?"
"Terrified," Angel says. "Somewhat ironic, considering my later life. But I was embarrassingly old before I'd go into the cellar by myself."
She hands him her flask, and he drinks from it. The bourbon won't warm him the way it does her, but he seems to like the taste, and it's companionable, a little bit of camaraderie as they sit in the lobby of the Hyperion, one of the few buildings left standing in LA, and wait for sundown.
"Apocalypses," Angel says.
Kate can't help a laugh. "I suppose if I'd had an inkling they were something to be scared of, I would have been. But I tended to think those guys on Hollywood Boulevard holding up 'the end is near' signs were straight-up nuts."
"Just because they're crazy," Angel starts.
"Doesn't mean they're wrong," Kate finishes.
Angel's phone rings. There aren't cell towers for a hundred miles, but Buffy got them satellite phones and has managed to keep them connected, so they have a way to stay in touch with the outside world and, more important, with one another.
"Gunn," Angel says, and continues in monosyllables as they make plans to meet. He clicks the phone shut and tells Kate, "Wilshire and Alvarado."
She glances outside. "Another twenty minutes, you think?"
"Fifteen," says Angel.
She raises an eyebrow.
"Maybe twenty," he amends.
He passes the flask back to her, but she shakes her head. "I'll need a clear head for this. Not everybody has your tolerance." She screws the cap on tightly, then puts the flask into a pocket of her cargo pants, no longer outdated fashion but simple practical necessity.
They suit up: stakes on hips, throwing knives on chests, Kalashnikov rifles across backs. There's a unornamented gold crucifix, the same one she's had since her First Communion, around Kate's neck. She slides her hand underneath the strap across Angel's chest, inside the open collar of his shirt, and rests her palm over his most recent tattoo, the black outlines of a scarab beetle. He covers her hand with his, lifts it to kiss her knuckles and fingertips with lips that are gentle and cool.
The hotel's light is a beacon behind them as they drive into the dusk.