This story is about the Buffy/Angel relationship, and Buffy's fight against The Big Bad of season 7.
Rating: PG, no sexual content
Spoilers: all of Buffy and ATS episodes "I Will Remember You" and "To Shanshu In L.A."
Notes: Angel arrives in Sunnydale to help Buffy and rehashes old issues.ForeplayBy Electrcspacegrl
Buffy sat on the cold gravestone with a stake in her hand, looking up at the stars. There was a freshly filled grave in front of her and she was waiting for the vampire to rise from it. She checked her watch. She had been waiting for an hour and there was no sign of Mr. Grr yet. No sign of anything, actually. The town seemed dead, as if everything in it had been frightened away. It didn't surprise her considering all the evil that had been stirring up lately.
She got up from the gravestone and walked toward the woods, past the cemetery gates and further away from the street. The moon was bright and full and looked down on her like a giant eye that wouldn’t quit watching. She wondered what it knew while watching the world every night from up in the sky.
Staring up at the moon, she didn’t notice the figure standing behind the tree she had just passed.
"You should be more careful, you never know what might be out lurking at night."
Buffy spun around, her stake at the ready. She saw the dark hair, the soft smile, and those eyes. "Angel," she whispered.
"Buffy," He gazed at her adoringly. "Any bad guys out tonight?"
She sighed, twirling the stake in her hand and slipping it back into her pocket. "Nope. They all seem to be sleeping. What brings you here?"
"I thought you might need some help." He stepped closer. "I might have some information."
She stared at him. She wanted to run into his arms and be safe there. His arms were so strong, his chest solid and muscular-"Yeah, um, information...sure! That would be great." She caught her breath. "Let's take a walk."
They started walking toward town, not saying anything for a while. She looked at Angel, at the face she had memorized a long time ago and would never forget. She didn’t know if she held onto the feelings because she had been so young and the pain of their breakup had been so deep, or because the love was so strong. She wasn’t sure if she would ever know.
"You look deep in thought," he said to her after several minutes.
"Yeah. Lots to think about. Lots to do. You know me, busy slayer."
He smiled and they continued walking in silence.
Finally Angel said, "You know, there's something I never told you."
"When Willow came to me with the news that you had..." Angel paused.
"Died," she finished for him.
"Yes. When she came, when I-I saw her eyes...I knew, Buffy. I knew you were gone and I fell apart inside. I had to go into seclusion. I wanted to set myself on sunlight. I couldn't imagine living...existing....in a world without you in it."
They stopped walking. Buffy looked into his eyes. Angel's eyes. The eyes she had never wanted to stop seeing from the moment they had first met...eyes that when she looked into them, they seemed like forever. She had always thought that there was never a time when she didn't want to see those eyes.
Angel leaned in. "Buffy, I had dreams...strange dreams," he looked away and shook his head. "I saw things that didn't even make sense. Everything was a metaphor, even-even her."
Buffy looked up at him "Her who?"
"This woman, a guide. She was full of light, she was light....sunlight. When I looked at her I started burning....but I couldn't look away. She taught me the reason why, no matter where you are, even if you aren't in the same world as me, you are always with me. Your strength, your heart, your perseverance, those are something you gave to me that live on in me, no matter if you live or..."
He started walking again. They were in downtown Sunnydale now, near The Bronze. They were near the alley where they had first met. There were no other people anywhere.
"Angel, why is the town so dead tonight?"
He ignored her question as if he didn’t hear her. "I just knew I had to go on. I knew I had to keep fighting." He stops talking and looks at her. "Have you ever heard about the Shanshu Prophecy?"
She shook her head. "No."
"It tells about a vampire with a soul who, after stopping several apocalypses, will earn his humanity, will become human again. This is what I exist for. To be human and....maybe finally be with you....the way we should be."
She stared at him, not knowing what to say. "Angel."
"I know, I know, it's presumptuous of me, and, well, who knows how long it could take. Who knows, it may be 300 years from now. Man, I can't even imagine another 300 years without..."
Buffy smiled up at him. "I know." She sighed. "Look, we can't even discuss something like this. Or even-why did you tell me about this, Angel? Do you think I need yet another reason to pine away for you, knowing I can never have you like I want?" She turned away from him and kicked the curb.
"I know. I'm sorry. Wait, you pine for me?"
She ignored his question. "We have only been together once like that, Angel. And it was a long time ago."
"No. We were together another time. You just can't remember."
Buffy spun around to look at him. "What? I'm sure I would remember something like that." She choked out a laugh. "You have some nerve, Angel, coming here, telling me these things, telling me..." She threw up her arms, "telling me about your little sexual fantasies when...when I don't even know if I would be with you even if I could!"
She turned around and let her hands fall to her hips. She looked down at the ground. "Angel, I am not the same person I was when I was sixteen. So much has happened. I sometimes don't even know who I am besides being The Slayer. Who am I?" She looked up at the sky. "All my life is spent fighting these big baddies and as long as I'm doing that, I can't ever have a normal life....or be a normal girl."
Angel stood behind her. "I don't want a normal girl. I want you. Maybe we could....maybe if you gave Faith the job, maybe we could run away together, just the two of us...."
"What about your curse? We can't even be together! You and I can't ever..." She turned to look into his eyes again. "I want you to sand shoe. I do."
"Angel, you are a fighter. You've done so much to help people. You are a good man and you deserve to be human again. If or when that ever happens, we can talk about it. But you have to stop fantasizing about our imaginary sex life, it's not healthy."
He laughed. "Yeah." He paused and looked at her, smirking. "Remember when you came to L.A. that first year, telling me to stop sneaking behind your back-"
"And we fought that demon?"
"Of course. You killed it and then I left."
"No. What really happened, what happened for me…we fought the demon and I got some of its blood mixed with mine and it made me human. I walked in the sunlight. We ate cookie dough mint chip in bed, and we spent the whole night making love. But the demon came back, and it was stronger. I couldn't fight it. It nearly killed me, and you. I went to The Oracles and they turned back time so that the day never happened. I was the only one who would remember it, so I could do it differently. When I told you this, you said you would never forget. But when the day turned back you did. You forgot."
She couldn’t speak. She stared at him with her mouth open, not believing.
Angel sighed, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have told you."
"You're sorry? You're sorry you told me? Why-why did you? Are you trying to mess with my head or am I-" She spun around and stormed off down the street and back toward home.
Angel was by her side in a second. "I'm sorry."
"You have no right to come here and tell me these things. I have work to do, a big bad to fight, and you aren't making this easier."
"I just wanted-"
"You just wanted to what, Angel, rattle me? Good work, you succeeded. Now go away and leave me alone. You just aren't helping."
They reached her house then. The lights were on.
"Buffy," Angel pleaded.
"I can't do this right now. I have to deal with other things."
She opened the door and walked into the foyer, seeing Willow, Dawn, Xander and Anya cleaning up the mess from the night before. "Hey guys." She moved past the living room and into the kitchen. Angel followed.
"I can't leave with you angry, Buffy." He looked at her with concern. "I can't leave you when you don't even know what you're up against."
She took a glass out of the cupboard and filled it with water from the faucet. "Oh, and you do?" She took a drink.
"That's why I came."
"Oh, so it wasn't to tell me we had sex that I don't remember?"
Just then Buffy noticed Xander in the doorway. "You had sex?" He asked with alarm. "Is he evil again?" He grabbed a stake from the kitchen counter. He turned to Angel. "Get back. I know how to use this!"
"No, he's not evil." Buffy put down the glass, then looked at Angel with sudden suspicion. "Wait, you're not evil, are you?"
Willow suddenly rushed into the kitchen, eyes big and worried. "Angel's evil again?"
Angel sighed. "I'm not evil, will you people stop saying that?"
Buffy turned to Xander and Willow. "Guys, this is a private conversation. Can you give us a minute?"
Xander looked defeated and put down the stake. "Yeah, sure."
"Ok," Willow said, leaving the room and pulling Xander with her.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Look, Angel, if you want to help, then help. But don't start bringing up all this-this stuff again while we are dealing with some evil ghost-thingy that pretends to be dead people. I just can't deal with this right now.”
Angel looked at her intensely. "I know. I won't bring it up again."
Buffy swallowed hard. "Good. Now, what do you know about this thing?"
"Well I know that it can't touch anything, and it can't-"
At that moment the telephone rang. "Just a minute." Buffy picked up the phone. "Hello?" There was silence at the other end. "Hello?" Then she heard the voice on the other line.
"Buffy." She knew that voice well.
She froze. "A-Angel?" she whispered.
"Buffy," Angel began. I need to talk to you about some big evil brewing. I don't have much time. Can we....Buffy, are you okay?"
Buffy stood there silent and stunned, the wheels in her head turning. "Can you....listen....tell me it's really you. I know this sounds strange, but just....prove to me right now that it's really you."
There was a long pause at the other end of the line. "I would never trick you Buffy. Whatever is happening, just remember that I would never say or do anything to hurt you."
She took a deep breath. "Thank you. I'll have to call you back. Now is not a good time."
Buffy hung up the phone and turned to the vampire standing in her kitchen.
"Who was that?" He asked.
She gave him an icy stare. "That was you. Or, I should say, it was the person you are pretending to be. Who are you?”
He gave her a puzzled look. "You know me, Buffy."
"No. I don't. You're not Angel. Who are you?" She grabbed the stake off the counter and pointed it at him. "I don't know what you are but you are not Angel."
Willow, Xander, Anya and Dawn rushed into the room, having overheard the conversation.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" Xander glared at Angel suspiciously.
Buffy stared at the thing pretending to be her ex-boyfriend with a look of steel. "This is not Angel. It's someone pretending to be Angel. I don't know who this is, but it's not a friend."
Anya piped up. "It's like the thing that Willow talked to the other night."
Dawn's eyes grew wide. "What is it?"
Buffy never took her eyes off Angel. "I don't know but I'm going to find out." She ran toward him and kicked at his chest. Her foot went right through him. "What the-"
Angel laughed. He started to speak to her in sweet tones which raised the hair on the back of her neck. "If we were alone right now I would tell you all the things I wanted to do to you after our one night of...oh, shall I say, perfect happiness
Buffy felt a cold chill come over her. "Angelus?"
"I'm Angel, I'm Angelus, I'm John F. Kennedy." A thoughtful look crossed his face. "Oh wait, that was last week's job." Angel laughed. "All this dressing up is just so much fun! Now, who is it that you really want me to be? Ah, yes," he said as he suddenly morphed into Joyce. "Her."
Her mother looked more beautiful than Buffy had remembered, or maybe it was just because it had been so long since she had seen her. She glowed like something from Heaven and smiled at her daughter with sweet affection.
"Buffy," her own name from her mother's lips was a melody. It was the only thing she ever wanted to hear.
Dawn gasped and stood there frozen. "Mom."
Buffy walked toward Joyce. "Mommy?"
Willow ran to Buffy. "Buffy, Dawn, it's not your mother. It's-it's some evil shape shifting demon." She looked at the woman with worry and horror.
"And don't forget its go-through-able-ness." Xander added.
"Yes, don't forget that," Anya eagerly chimed in.
"Is this the same thing I saw last night?" Dawn said, in tears. "Was that not Mom?
Buffy stared into her mother's eyes, wanting this so badly to be true. Her mother stared back at Buffy, loving her, her eyes full of pride. But this was not her mother.
"What do you want to tell me, Mother
?" Buffy spat out the last word as if it was poison.
Joyce smiled. "You won't win. You will die. All your friends will die. This whole town will fall into hell and everyone in it will be destroyed. Your only chance is to get out while you still can."
"Are you are telling me that because it's true or because you don't want me here in this fight?"
Her mother was still smiling. The smile cut clean through Buffy’s heart, and all Buffy could feel was the years of feeling lost without Joyce. "From beneath you," she said, and as quick as a blink she disappeared.
Buffy stood there not moving. After a moment she walked past her friends and past her sister. She moved around their questions and comments, not listening. She walked to the stairs and climbed the steps. The hallway above was quiet like she needed it to be. Her room upstairs was cool and clean. She shut the door behind her. Lying down on her bed, she counted the colors on her bedspread, and in her head she organized the pattern they made. A soft cool breeze from the open window caressed her face as she closed her eyes.
The one thing Buffy wanted more than anything, more than a normal life, more than all the evil to just stop coming; the one thing she wanted that would make everything else bearable again, was to be with her mother once again. She wanted to talk to her, to tell her that she loved her, and let her know that she had kept Dawn safe like she promised and everything was just fine.
For a second she wanted it to be true. She wanted everything the Angel imposter had told her to be true. Then there was Joyce Summers, her mom....tears fell from her eyes and she let them come, succumbing to the richness of the sadness. If someone could have tasted her heart just then, it would have tasted as sour as lemon drops.
Buffy closed her wet eyes against the world. She saw the dark behind her eyelids and she needed it. Just for a moment, and just for right now.