Maybes by SCWLC

Disclaimer: The usual, I don’t own anything, don’t sue, yadda yadda yadda.

Distribution: Want. Take. Have. Just lemme know where it’s been took.

Summary: This happens just after TSILA. Angel comes to Sunnydale.

Rating: PG-13?

Feedback: It all goes to

Notes: I was listening to this song, “The Way It Really Is,” off Lisa Loeb’s newest album “Cake and Pie.” Anyhow, it struck me as very B/A, and voila! Songfic! There’s some really great stuff on this CD too so go buy it now!

Dedication: To everyone I never write feedback to even though I should, this is for you. Especially Gia to whom I actually owe some feedback. Also, thanks to whoever nominated me in the BA Pulitzers, I don’t know who you are, but thanks!


It was an evening just like any other at the Bronze. Buffy, Riley, Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya sat at one table, Spike sat at another in plain view to annoy, and Angel sat at a distance to watch unnoticed. Buffy noticed.

Riley followed her line of sight to the vampire trying to pretend he hadn’t been seen, then looked back at his girlfriend who was gazing longingly at the dark-haired and handsome demon in the corner. She had never looked at her current boyfriend that way. Hell, some days she didn’t even manage the same zip code as the way she looked at Angel. “Buffy, why don’t we dance?” Riley suggested as the music started.

//I kept talking to myself
I had to get the words out of my head//

“Sure,” she replied her eyes never leaving her ex-lover. They stayed fixed on him as Riley led her out onto the floor.

“And would it be too much to ask that you dance with me and not the memory of Angel?” he muttered. Buffy heard and her attention returned to Riley immediately.

“What are you talking about?” she asked staring at him in confusion.

He didn’t want to say anything. He didn’t want to hurt her, but it it was getting to be too much. Angel shadow hovered over them at every turn and twist their lives took. He gazed deeply into Buffy’s eyes and said, “I know Angel is over in that corner,” he gestured with his head, “I also know that you’ve been watching him since he came in.” Buffy began to deny it and he cut her off. “You’ve been watching him,” he repeated, “And not in an ‘I’m worried he’s going to cause trouble’ way.”

//(so I did)//

“What?” she stared at him and seemed honestly baffled by what he was saying. “Angel isn’t here. And even if he were, I’m with you, not with him, and everyone knows it.”

Her denial as he watched her eyes travel over his shoulder to a point somewhere behind him was infuriating. “Clearly you’re the only one who doesn’t!”

//You barely said a thing
you kind of heard me out and then you said//

“Riley-” she began, looking for all the world as though he were a child who didn’t understand why he couldn’t have his dessert before supper.

“Stop treating me as though I were stupid or a child!” he hissed at her, trying not to make a scene.

//(you said)//

She cupped his face, and when he looked into her eyes he nearly forgot why he was angry with her as he fell in love with this slayer all over again. “I am here with you,” she said firmly. “I’m not here with anyone else. What can I say to prove it?”

//“You’re crazy
why do you keep doing this?
Everything is fine.”//

He felt a little ashamed for suspecting her of cheating on him or whatever it was he’d thought. He didn’t even know now.

//Then I think I’m crazy
I do this all the time
Until I start to think that nothing’s even wrong//

He let her wrap her arms around his shoulders again and they began to sway gently to the music. It swelled around them carrying away his doubts. Riley could still feel her gaze drifting away from him, but he ignored it in favour of the kind fiction of her love.

//Maybe I am hiding in my own confusion
Maybe we’re just//

Unknowingly he whispered the words as they were sung. Buffy’s head snapped up and she focussed fully on him for the first time that evening. Riley smiled down at her with that puppydog schoolboy love shining out of his eyes at her. He did love her, she could feel it like the warmth of a candle. And perhaps that was the problem. She could feel a bonfire burning into her from across the room, and Riley’s gentle heat held nothing to the blazing passion of her dark angel.

//(Maybe we’re just)
a picture in my head//

She looked back at Riley again and tried to find that passion that moved through her life like a wildfire just a year ago. Instead of wild untamed need, all that met her was the control and calm of a campfire. The eye of the storm waited behind her now as they turned and she could feel herself reaching away from the domesticity everyone said was what she needed. It was what she needed. She needed him.

//(a picture in my head)//

The other him stood by the stairs and beckoned without a single movement or word for her to run away. He could do that to her and she struggled to drive the image from her mind even as the concept of her and Riley failed to take root.

//Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was//

Buffy didn’t know what she wanted, not from Riley, not from Angel, not from or for herself. She wanted to be with Riley. Well, she wanted to want to be with Riley. It was the same thing, really. She had said it before too, that she wished she could wish Angel gone, hated, anything but the flame she was drawn to, so beautiful and dangerous.

//(the way it was)//

She wanted things to go back to the way they were before he left, before it all came crashing down. She wanted things to be the way they were before everything became so impossible to comprehend and she was who she seemed to be.

//Maybe I don’t want to see it the way it really is//

Helplessly her roving gaze landed on Angel again. It meant nothing. It had to.

//(the way it really is)//

Angel saw her stare at him with the same longing he felt every day. Looking back with an intensity that matched hers he felt like a man in the desert seeing a pool of water just out of his reach. She was everything he wanted, her touch and presence so soothing, easing the torments that burned always in his consciousness.

//Sometimes your intentions are totally impossible to read.//

But sometimes she lashed out, the calming ease she inspired replaced by a raging torrent of pain, both his and hers. It was almost as though when she hurt he did too, and when he hurt she did equally so. His heart torn out by simply watching her on the dance floor with Riley he could see her pain rising like the tide. She would be coming over later to call him out and strike him with all the hurt she felt at their separation. Bitterly saying she loved him as she pounded him against the rocks of her agony.

//(What does that mean?)//

He circled as she tore her eyes away and buried her head in Riley’s shoulder. Then she was staring up at the blonde commando with the same smile she used to give him. He moved closer, angry at the betrayal, until he remembered he left her just so that she could do just what she was doing now. It was killing him and he still came to watch as though he had any right to, as though it was right that they be together.

//Sometimes even I have no idea what I need
(I wish I did)//

He’d thought it wouldn’t hurt quite so much to leave her. He’d thought it was exactly what she needed. He’d even thought it would be best for him if he was as far away as possible from the woman who consumed his dreams and his waking thoughts. Since he left all he could think was that it hurt to be away from her, and it was far worse than the unrequited passions they had between them. Instead of coming back to grovel and plead his way back into her life he had taken to stalking her of an evening.

//I’m crazy
Why do I keep doing this?//

He crept closer and watched his soulmate move against her boyfriend in ways that she had only ever done for him. That one time with Xander aside. The dark-haired boy was watching from the sidelines with Willow and her girlfriend Tara and his girlfriend Anya. They had spotted him when he entered the dance floor, moving toward Buffy.

//Everything is fine.//

Willow waved at Angel and Xander stared at her in disbelief. “Why are you waving at him? He’s just here to hurt her again.”

“What are you talking about?” the redhead replied in confusion, “He’s probably just here to tell her about some evil . . . thingy.” She turned to level a look at her longstanding friend, “Besides Xander, Angel is a really nice guy and she’s with Riley. Y’know, if he tries anything she’ll just tell him she loves Riley now,” she finished confidently

//then you think I’m crazy,
I do it all the time//

Xander glared at her, then at the vampire clearly in an argument with the couple on the floor. “Yeah right.” All he could think was that everyone was so clearly in denial about what scum Angel was. All that vampire did was hurt her. He strung her along pretending to love her and making her think she was in love with him. Then he went ahead and lost his soul and hurt her some more. Finally he had the gall to come back from Hell where he belonged and drank her blood to save his own damn life and corrupted her into trying to kill someone.

The vampire was now making a scene and the two men who wanted Buffy were having a tug-of-war with her. Angel had one arm and Riley had the other. Xander’s eyes narrowed as Buffy seemed to lean into Angel as the fight wore on. He had to be wrong.

//Until I start to think that something’s really wrong//

Buffy felt like a rag between two cranky beagles. “I just have to speak with her for a minute,” Angel snarled at Riley. He had approached them and had tried to get her to talk to him in private. Before she could do or say anything either way her idiot boyfriend had let his jealousy get the better of him and had tugged her back.

“Buffy doesn’t have to go anywhere with you. She’s here with me.” Riley had then wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him.

Angel grabbed her arm then and here she was being pulled back and forth between two testosterone-driven jealous men. As Angel pulled on her arm and Riley tugged at her waist she found herself pulled off her feet and falling into Angel’s arms as he prevented her from banging her head against a nearby table. “Are you okay?” he asked her. He gently set her back on her feet and brushed her hair out of her face and ran his hand down to briefly cup her cheek.

//Maybe I am hiding in my own confusion
Maybe we’re just//

She felt a small thrill at his touch and she unknowingly leaned into that loving caress. For a second that stretched into infinity there was nothing but the two of them and one point of contact between them.

//(Maybe we’re just)
a picture in my head//

When Riley reached out, grabbing her waist again and making her feel like some prize instead of a person, she made a decision and pulled away from her boyfriend. “Riley, let go,” she said. “I will talk with Angel, *in private*, and then I’ll come back to dance with you.” Buffy turned to leave with Angel.


“And if you ever decide to play tug-of-war with me,” she paused to glare at Angel, “Again, I will castrate the both of you to be sure you won’t suffer from testosterone poisoning.”

//(a picture in my head)//

As she allowed Angel to pull her off the dance floor and outside she looked back at Riley. He was standing in the middle of the floor with a hangdog expression on his face that turned to a sulky sort of anger when he looked at Angel. He wasn’t the sort to sulk she thought, but was too angry at being treated as an object to think on it any further.

//Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was//

They passed Buffy’s friends sitting at their table, Xander glaring angrily, Willow gesturing urgently at her friend, Anya completely uncaring and Tara confused. Angel noted the hostility aimed at him and, for the first time, completely ignored it in favour of getting Buffy alone to talk. He knew he was acting as though he had the right to treat her as his property (and didn’t he know how anachronistic that notion was)

The problem was that he wanted to pretend she was his again. The part of him that was demonic was twitching at her proximity and he knew that if they were truly alone he would forget what was and as though things were as they used to be.

//(the way it was)//

They made it to a couch at the far end of the room from the others’ hostility and sat down together. “What is it?” she asked him.

Angel sighed and prepared himself to admit the truth to her. “I miss you.”

//Maybe I don’t want to see it the way it really is//

Her eyes were suspiciously shiny as she said, “I’ve missed you too, but I thought we’ve been over this. As long as we’re apart it’s too hard to see each other like this.” She laid her hand over his and Angel felt the warmth of her skin on his and remembered how it had felt to feel that warmth everywhere against himself. He hastily trained his attention back on her. “Besides, I’m with Riley now,” she finished.

//(the way it really is)//

“I know, I know,” he replied miserably, “But I can’t stand this anymore. I left, I’ll admit this is my doing, but I can’t take being part from you.” Angel watched as she slowly stood and turned to him her face reflecting her incredulity at his utter gall. She stood there just staring for several seconds her mouth working.

“You can’t stand being apart?” Her voice was low and threatening and Angel shifted uncomfortably under her furious gaze. “You left me, you came back, you left again and you’ve come back again just to tell me that now that I’m starting to get over you, you want to get back together!” Not once raising her voice above conversational volume she still carried the same intensity as if she had shouted. He winced, knowing how it looked.

//Looking through my window at the big, blue sky
The lazy sun is shining, so I run outside//

“I can’t make any excuses,” he said pleadingly, “All I can say is that I dream every night of you and sunlight and I want to have the chance to see you in sunlight.” He gave her a look of complete sincerity, which only seemed to make her furious.

//To look for you, I look for you
and then it starts to rain//

Buffy turned away for a moment then turned back tears starting to make their way down her cheeks. “I waited for you! I waited for you to come back and you didn’t!” She wrapped her arms around herself and held back a sob. “You dream of me and sunlight? Who do you think you are!? I dreamt of us and all it gave me was you running scared because you can’t face being with me!”

Angel stood and gently laid his hands on her shoulders and when she didn’t pull away, ignoring the grim looks from Buffy’s friends, pulled her to him and rocked her. “Shhh. It’s alright Buffy.”

Her voice was muffled by his shirt, but he heard her nonetheless. “At least Riley never lied to me like you did. I can trust he won’t leave me because he’s scared.” Angel growled, causing her to giggle. “You’re so possessive of someone who hasn’t even said whether or not she’s gonna get back with you.”

The vampire stilled and deliberately pulled away to look down at her and asked, “Will you give me another chance?”

//Maybe I am //

“I’ll consider it if you answer one question for me.” She looked at him with calm, serious eyes. Angel breathed deeply and nodded. “When you said you wanted a chance to see me in sunlight what did you mean?”

He took another deep breath well aware of the irony but needing the calming motion. “There’s this prophecy,” he began.

//(Maybe I am)//

On the other side of the room Riley watched with Buffy’s friends as the Slayer talked with her ex-boyfriend. She got angry, then began to cry and Riley gritted his teeth when that vampire began to hug *his* girlfriend. His eyes then widened when her mood took a complete 180 and she leapt into Angel’s arms and began to kiss a man who was not her boyfriend

//Is that the way it really is?//

“What the hell is going on!?” he demanded of her friends, but Xander and Willow both seemed equally puzzled. Only Anya was unaffected by the scene before her.

“Apparently Buffy has decided to move on back to tall dark and sexy over there,” said the ex-demon.

//Maybe we’re just//

Riley felt as though the floor was falling out from beneath him as he watched Buffy with another man. She had told him they were together and he hadn’t believed her, not really. But it was one thing to know on some level that she was lying to him, quite another to watch her look more alive with a dead man than she ever had with him.

//(Maybe we’re just)
a picture//

He heard Willow saying something about how all her hard work had fallen apart and she had worked hard to get Buffy to go out with Riley. Even as he made his way to the door he could still hear her talking about how he and Buffy were so perfect -looking together and Willow didn’t know why Buffy didn’t appreciate being handed the perfect relationship on a silver platter.

//in my head//

He had been lying to himself, and it seemed so had everyone else. It was a tough pill to swallow but he had and he wasn’t going to stay to watch.

//Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was
Maybe I don’t want to see it the way it really is//

He still had his dignity even if Willow and Xander couldn’t leave well enough alone.

//Maybe I am hiding in my own confusion//

Willow was indeed upset at this turn of events. She thought Buffy was over Angel and had moved on to someone better. She got up and began to march over to the oblivious couple to give them a piece of her mind. Xander was on her other side fuming angrily. The couple turned in time to see the two storming toward them.

//Maybe we’re just//

Willow beat Xander to the punch and said, “What are you doing Buffy? What about Riley?” She settle her hands on her hips and looked expectantly at the two. Xander wasn’t nearly as kind.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing here Dead Boy? I thought you were done screwing up everyone’s lives!” Xander glared furiously at Angel as her spoke. “Here you are to manipulate Buffy and everyone again!” Willow put a hand on his arm to get him to calm down but he ignored her. “Maybe you think no one can see through your scheme, but I can!”

Through this rant Buffy simply cuddled up to her no-longer-ex-boyfriend who stared at the young man with a flawless poker face. The only thing that gave his feelings away was his arm around Buffy tightening slightly.

//(Maybe we’re just)
a picture in my head//

Willow noticed that slight motion and wondered briefly if perhaps her attempts to find Buffy the perfect boyfriend and make sure her best friend was happy were slightly misguided. Xander simply continued to rant loudly at the two.

“That’s right, I know you’re trying to convince everyone that you aren’t a vampire or something but just because Buffy can’t see past a pretty face doesn’t mean I can’t, and it doesn’t mean that I won’t show everyone the truth!” Xander was getting pretty wound up Willow noted absently.

“Xander-” Buffy started.

He smiled at her condescendingly and said, “Now Buffy let me handle this. I know Angel has this whole dark bad boy thing going for him but Riley’s a one in a million guy.” At this statement Buffy just blinked while Angel made a soft growling noise. Willow was promptly reminded of why Buffy needed someone to make sure she didn’t pine away after Angel.

//(a picture in my head)//

“Buffy, I know you love Angel but you guys can’t be together,” Willow said reasonably, “Look, I don’t know what just happened here, and no one is judging you,” she glanced at her furiously vibrating friend, “Except Xander. But you have to think this through.” She took Buffy’s hand and looked the Slayer in the eye. “You’re my best friend and I want you to be happy. That’s why I’m telling you, go after Riley, apologise, and don’t lose a great boyfriend just because of Angel.”

Buffy yanked her hand away from Willow and turned to Angel. “Why don’t we go dance?” He smiled and took her out onto the floor walking past the Slayerettes as though they didn’t exist. Willow and Xander were left behind, Xander spluttering in fury.

When they got to the centre of the dance floor, they stood and swayed to the music. Angel felt Buffy’s breath hitch and looked down to see she was crying. “What’s wrong?” he asked her, worried she was regretting her choice to be with him and not Riley.

//Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was
(the way it was)//

“Why can’t they be happy for me? Willow used to . . . she used to be so supportive, but now I can’t date anybody but the people she’s vetted, and I don’t know,” she finished. She leaned heavily against the vampire she loved.

Angel sighed. “Willow’s just trying to be a good friend. She doesn’t realise that she’s pushing you around. As for Xander-” Buffy cut him off, smiling now.

“You and Xander never liked each other and you never will, so I’m not even going to consider trying to ask you why he can’t be supportive.” He raised an eyebrow at her.

“Is this because you already know the answer or because I'm biased?” he asked leaning close, and thrilling to the way she heartbeat sped up when he did.

“A little of both, I think,” she replied, then giggled. They both knew they were being watched from the table where Buffy’s friends sat. They also knew that there was a long battle ahead for both acceptance from both their groups of friends and their own self-control. But for tonight they were both going to ignore that and enjoy being close.

//Maybe I don’t want to see it the way it really is
(the way it really is)//

Sitting at the table, there was silence. Xander having long since given up his attempts to explain why Angel was evil, Willow having given her attempts to explain why Buffy ought to be dating Riley, and Anya and Tara having given either convincing the two friends to give up or even accept the pairing of Angel with Buffy, there was no one there to talk. Two sat and marvelled at how right the pair, one light one dark, on the floor looked together. Two sat and marvelled at how wrong the two on the floor were together all talk of aesthetics aside.

//Maybe I am hiding in my own confusion
Maybe we’re just a picture in my head
Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was
(the way it was)//

Buffy and Angel ignored them in favour of each other and began to kiss. Buffy wishing her friends could be happy for her, even though she knew they would deny being unsupportive. Angel wishing he could stop hurting her just by being there. He knew she would deny it, but his presence was one of the things that alienated her from her friends. They both wished things could be returned to the way they were before things had fallen apart.

//Maybe I don’t want to see it//

Riley strode quickly home. He knew Buffy would never love him, but he was damned if he was going to stand there and watch her as she reunited with her vampire boyfriend. Ironically, he knew that he wished them both well. He hoped Buffy would be happy and he knew that this was the first time he had seen Buffy that happy. Angel had made her that way, and as long as the vampire did he wished Angel well.

But he didn’t want to watch.

//Maybe I don’t want to see it//

Willow and Xander resolutely turned from the floor. Both silently resolved that if neither of them watched the couple dancing it meant nothing was happening. It also meant that they could easily ignore the mistake they both felt Buffy was making by hooking up with Angel again. It was wrong, but she was ignoring them, and they didn’t have to see Titanic to know how the movie ended.

//Maybe I don’t want to see it
The way it really is//

Xander turned his back on the lovers for the evening. They could argue things out later. He might as well just try to enjoy the night. Maybe they would come to their senses.

//The way it really is//

Willow watched Buffy and Angel remembering when everything had felt possible and wondering if maybe that true love soulmate kind of bond was enough for the pair.

//The way it really is//

Riley felt tears in his eyes and began to pack. Maybe he could stay in Sunnydale to continue demon fighting, but he could do that anywhere.

//The way it really is//

Buffy and Angel let the world float away. For them there were no maybes. Just each other.

//The way it really is//

The End