Landslide of Principle by Tango


DISCLAIMER: Don't own them. Wish I did. So much could be changed...
TIMELINE: Season Four
SPOILERS: What if Angel decided to get Buffy back instead of returning to
Sunnydale after fighting Riley? (Begins during The Yoko Factor)
DISTRIBUTION: Sure, just let me know.
FEEDBACK: It's a drug. I'm addicted. Please, please, please let me know what
you think!
LYRICS: All lyrics are from Tori Amos.



//cause it's cold cold cold in my hole hole hole//

From the second Angel told Buffy to leave all he wanted was for her to come
back. He wanted to follow her. More than anything else, he wanted the ache
inside him to go away. Every time he saw her beautiful face, it was like the
earth caved in beneath his feet. Nearly two and half centuries of living and
he couldn't face one small girl. He used to think of her as a child, then he
thought of her as a lover. Now he thought she was the embodiment of
redemption, a golden paved road to hell. He'd rather face an eternity of
darkness than to see pain in those green eyes again - pain that he caused.

He hung his head in shame. He wished for answers and came up with stabbing
regret. Her words kept echoing in his mind, over and over in a trumpet of

...someone that I love...I trust him...I know him.

Why hadn't she just staked him and gotten it over with? It would be so much
easier than sitting here in this cavern of guilt and pain. He wanted to run
barefoot to Sunnydale on a path made only of crosses and beg her
forgiveness, beg her to love him again. Somehow he just couldn't make
himself believe that she never trusted him, never loved him.

He left the clausterphobic confinement of his apartment and began wandering
around the dark streets of LA. He didn't want to fight, but ended up killing
three demons anyway. He didn't want to drink, but somehow ended up in a
seedy bar in the less classy part of town. He didn't want to ask for help,
but drunk and near tears, he ended up banging on Wesley's door like a lost

"Who is it?" Came a wary British voice through the wooden barrier.

"It's Angel."

Wesley opened the door, while slipping on his glasses. Angel thought he
looked odd in a matching set of pajamas and a blue silk robe. Wesley stepped
back and motioned the vampire in, only to get a stare in return.

"Need to be invited," Angel muttered, leaning heavily against the doorframe.
The needed invitation came quickly and was followed by an "of course" and
"how silly of me." Angel didn't care that Wesley forgot, he cared that the
words had to be spoken at all. It was another reminder of why he had to
leave Buffy and why the only woman he ever loved hated him, didn't trust him
and had malice behind her lovely eyes.

"Is something wrong?" Wesley said, scuttling around the kitchen, preparing

"Everything's wrong," Angel said, flopping in a blue armchair.

"You're inebriated."


"And you're talking about Buffy?"

"Yep. Glad we got that straight."

//with a demon and an englishman//

Wesley set the water over the stove and stared at the dark demon moping in
his living room. He still felt uneasy around Angel and when it came to The
Slayer, he was thoroughly ill at ease. He didn't like the idea of Buffy's
possible return to Los Angeles. He never would have admitted it to Angel but
he was glad they fought and that she left. It was safer that way. The world
was safer.

"She loves him," Angel finally said after a long silence, "And she's
probably going to marry him. Have children."

"Perhaps," Wesley said quietly, unsure of how to respond.

"She doesn't trust me. Never did," Angel said, his words starting to slur
less and less as he went along.

"I'm sure that's not true."

"Dunno," he muttered, looking at his hands, looking at the finger where he
used to wear his Claddaugh ring. He only took it off because he couldn't
stand to look at it anymore, but he still belonged to Buffy. He would always
belong to her. And she would belong to that big blonde oaf she trusted so
damn much.

"I need your help," Angel said, his voice almost too low for Wesley to hear.

"With what?"

"I want you to fix me...I mean, cure me," he said.

"Angel, I don't understand," Wesley said, as the tea pot began to squeal.

"The curse, Wes," he pleaded, "I need you to find out how to fix the curse."

"You're planning on trying to get Buffy back then?"

"No, I just need to be able to go on with my life and I can't like this."
Angel stood and stumbled to the door.

"Where are you going?" Wesley asked, feeling uneasy about both the request
and the vampire's rapid retreat.


"That's not a good idea."

"Need closure," he said, looking over his shoulder, "Gonna apologize for
yelling at her. That's all. Then I'm coming back."

Wesley watched the door click shut and stood for a long time thinking about
the curse. Should he help? If he did, then maybe he could redeem himself in
Angel's eyes and in Buffy's too. But what if he tried and failed? What if he
ended up unleashing the demon instead of containing it? Then they would all
see him in the same dim light they saw him now. Dimmer. He poured himself a
cup and tea and sank down in his couch, concentrating on his decision.


//building tumbling down
didn't know our love was so small
couldn't stand at all//

The only reason Buffy went hunting for Adam was because she needed something
else besides the pain to focus on. She had never seen Angel so angry, so
curt and cutting. It wasn't anything like Angelus. Angelus didn't care
enough to be that angry. He tried to hurt her. Angel wasn't trying and yet
he always succeeded. She knew that Riley would be upset when she didn't go
to him right away but she couldn't face him. She couldn't begin to think
about what he might read in her eyes, especially since he knew she was going
to see her ex. The Ex. The one who ran away and left her heart in tatters.

She knew it would be hard to see Angel. It had been much harder than she
thought. She felt like the world had just crumpled over her shoulders in
such small pieces that she couldn't even feel them pelting her anymore. She
felt as if she had stepped off the edge and begun to fall.

She had told him she was there to help him, but they both knew that was
bullshit. She wanted Faith by the balls. She wanted an excuse to be angry
and she got it. Walking down those steps and seeing her in Angel's arms was
enough to make her want to murder Faith in cold blood. That was blood that
she didn't think would feel sour on her hands. A river of bitterness ran
through her. She wasn't as angry with Riley for sleeping with Faith as she
was with Angel for hugging her. And damn him, he looked so good, soaking wet
from his shower, shirt open with a tearful, dark haired Slayer in his arms.

Then he hit her. To protect Faith.

Conundrum of the world: Angel hit her to protect Faith.

She had stared at him and he stared back, both unable to believe that he had
actually done it. She expected many things from Angel but she never would
have thought he could hit her like that. Her gentle Angel bruising her jaw
with his fist. Of course, that pain was nothing compared to what he had said
to her, how he had ordered her to leave. She knew she shouldn't have said
what she said to him. She didn't love Riley. Yes, she trusted him but she
trusted Angel too. She trusted the anger and pain behind his dark brown
eyes. She knew there had to be love in there somewhere. There had to be.

She was ashamed and lost inside her depression. She wanted nothing more than
to run back to LA and beg him to forget what she had said, beg him to come
home with her and never leave. But she went hunting for Adam instead. After
Forest's death, she drug her aching body back to her room. She felt like she
had the anti-Midas syndrom - everything she touched was destroyed.


//i wanna smash the faces of those beautiful boys//

Angel made his way toward Buffy's dorm, but didn't even make it onto campus
before a squad of military men attacked him in an alley. He swatted the men
off of him easily, wondering how the hell they had known he was a vampire in
the first place. Then Riley showed up. If jealousy was green, Angel would
have been an entire jungle of leafy bitterness.

He revealed his identity to the boy, allowing the acknowledgment to set in.
Angel couldn't help but be slightly pleased that Riley hated him so much. He
was a threat to their happy sunshiny relationship. Good. He hoped his
presence made the boy quake with fear. Every stinging word that came from
his cold lips made a imperturbable pleasure ease over him. Every molecule of
his body yearned to kill him, wanted to watch blood stain his mortal skin.
Maybe he was a good guy, maybe not, but the fact remained that Riley Finn
was sleeping with his mate.

Angel didn't feel one tiny ounce of regret for hurting Riley. Very much the
opposite. Every time his fist contacted with the boy he felt cruel delight.
A part of him knew that this little altercation would piss Buffy off, a part
of him knew that she would not forgive this trespass. He didn't care. He
wanted to beat the blonde boy toy until the asshole couldn't stand and then
he wanted to beat him some more.

A frightening amount of vengeance reared inside his undead body. He tossed
Riley around like a ragdoll with visions of his naked ex-lover in the boy's
arms. He was almost dizzy with the thoughts of her sleeping with him,
kissing him...doing other things with him. His beautiful Buffy. How could
she not see through this transparent simple minded dolt? Angel would have
kept beating him relentlessly if the calvary hadn't shown up. For a second,
he thought about taking them on too. He could have with the weeds of
discontent wrapping around his still heart, but he remembered why he was
there. He came to see Buffy, not play commando with clueless demon hunters.
He scaled the side of the building effortlessly and left the boyfriend there
with his compatriots. He was going to see an old girlfriend.


//i'll say it loud here upon your grave, those angels can't ever take my

Riley struggled to his feet and took off, trying to hide from his former
charges. One of the guys used to be under his command. He felt a twinge of
regret as he ran just far enough to get out of sight and then rested for a
minute, taking a mental inventory of his wounds. He was going to be stiff as
hell tomorrow, if he could move at all. That vampire was really strong.
Stronger than most.

And he was heading for Buffy.

After the evil Angelus stories that Buffy had told him, he was more than
just jealous, he was afraid for her life. He broke into a run thinking about
her being in danger. That thought book ended thoughts of her sleeping with
him. He felt a chill race through his body and twisting disgust as he
pictured her in the arms of that demon.

He picked up the pace. He couldn't lose her. Not now. Not when there was so
much future to be had. Even if she had slept with Angel, he could forgive
this one little transgression. She was too bright of a light in his life to
lose her now. He felt for his gun as he ran, making sure he had one method
of defense. Even if it didn't kill Angel, it would still slow him down.

Riley realized, of course, that Buffy was The Slayer and could defend
herself, but all evidence suggested that she couldn't handle Angelus. And
regrettably, he was sure that he couldn't handle the unnaturally virile
vampire either.

Please let her be okay, he thought as he sprinted across the quad to her


//he don't show much these days. it gets so fucking cold.
i loved his secret places but i can't go anymore//

When Buffy opened the door, she hadn't really given much thought to who
might be on the other side. She was sure that she didn't want to see anyone,
until she saw Angel standing there. She looked up at him, feeling love and
pain arrive simultaneously. Why was he so damn beautiful? Why did she love
him so much? Why couldn't she get over it already and why the hell was he

She reluctantly invited him in. Reluctance, not because she didn't trust
him, but because she just couldn't stand the thought of having another piece
of steel anger fly from his lips. She could handle hurtful things from other
people but not from Angel. He was always her refuge, her safety net and she
knew she would crumble under the pressure of his comments.

As normal, they drank each other in under the shroud of jabbing remarks. He
was injured, slightly. A small wound, of course, but she wanted to tend to
it and kiss it.

Angel noticed the angry slash across Buffy's brow and felt worry rise up in
him. Whatever did that to her was really strong. He wanted to kill it, if
she hadn't already. He wanted to take her in his arms and love it better. He
wanted to beg her for the right to do those things. He wanted to explain
everything and might have if the dork troop hadn't burst in.

//for a girl who couldn't choose//

Buffy took one look at Riley and knew exactly what had happened. She didn't
need an explanation. Angel had beat the holy shit out of her boyfriend and
his entire body was trembling in pain. He swayed on his feet, pointing a gun
at Angel.

Pointing a gun at her Angel.

Logically, she realized that Riley couldn't hurt Angel. He could shoot him
until he was Swiss cheese and her beloved demon would still be standing. But
anger filled her. Both of them were idiots. Buffy could only hope that Angel
wouldn't ask her to choose. She knew that Angel would win. Riley knew Angel
would win. Angel was the only one who wasn't certain.

"Testosterone poisoning" didn't even begin to cover the film of jealousy and
rage pouring over those two. Angel was confident that Riley wasn't capable
of loving Buffy the way she deserved to be loved. Riley was positive that
Angel was trying to kill her. Buffy was in a surreal world of chaotic
emotions while her rivaling lovers faced off again.

Riley knew when Buffy asked him to leave so she could talk to the demon that
he had lost. Somewhere in his subconscious he realized, at that moment, that
she didn't love him and never would. But his stubborn pride would not allow
him to walk away - not without her forcing him to. He could take a broken
heart but not in front of that bloodsucker. She would have to kick his ass
out with force if she expected him to leave. But she didn't use force, she
simply asked Angel to join her in the hall. The smug, shit-eating grin on
Angel's face as he followed her out was enough to make him want to unload
his entire clip in the fucker's head, but he kept his arms crossed and
waited - because there was nothing else to do.

Angel wasn't sure until Buffy asked to speak to him first that maybe she
still loved him. When they stepped out in the hall and she discharged sparks
of molten anger at him, then he was positive. Her tighten muscles, her
quickening breath, her increased heartbeat all announced in single file
accuracy that she loved him.

And that was the moment that he decided to get her back.


//sometimes I breathe you in
and I know you know
and sometimes you take a swim
found your writing on my wall
if my hearts soaking wet
boy your boots can leave a mess//

As Buffy walked back in to face Riley, she felt Angel's presence retreating.
She took a deep breath as the blow of his absence hit her like it always
did. She hated that he had that kind of power over her, even if he didn't
always realize it. In the ten minutes he was there, he had reduced her to a
shadow of the person she had become.

As she stood in front of Riley and prepared to tell him about Forest's
death, she realized how much she had changed since Angel left, how much of a
reduction had been made in who she was. It was as if he took a large portion
of her essence with him when he left. She looked into her boyfriend's eyes,
full of emotional and physical pain and she knew that soon she would hurt
him so much more. But not today and not for awhile...hopefully.


//i never seen a light move like yours can do to me//

Angel made it quickly out of the dorms and pulled his cell phone out of his
jacket pocket. Punching the numbers quickly, since he never learned to use
the speed dial, he called Wesley at the office. Two rings and the ex-Watcher
picked up the phone.

"Wesley, It's Angel."

"Hello, Angel. Are you still in Sunnydale?"

"Yes," he said, quickly walking to the side of the building where Buffy
would not see him if she came back out, "Have you found a cure yet?"

"Possibly," Wesley said hesitantly.

"Well? What is it?"

"It's dangerous."

"How dangerous?" Angel asked, knowing as well as Wesley that the spell was
never intended for him to move on with his life without Buffy in it.

"There is only a small chance of survival and there is no guarantee that it
will work even if you do survive."

"Typical odds," Angel said through a sigh, "What does it entail?"

Wesley stared at the ancient, yellowed page before him. The same page he had
been staring at for the last couple of hours. The same page that could spell
failure and death. "Your death."

"Hardly seems like there's a chance there," Angel said, his frown deepening.
Maybe there was never a chance, even a slim one. Out of the corner of his
eye, he saw Riley Finn leaving the building. He moved to follow, looking
around cautiously before stepping out the shadows and into the moonlit quad.

"When you were cursed, your soul was summoned from the aether by the Orb of
Thesala. When this spell is performed," Wesley started, "It is essentially a
recursing. But in order to counteract the previous curse, your soul is
dynamically reinserted into the aether and altered, which causes a base
molecular disintegration and reformation of the same particles, only formed
again as was the original human elemental structure. It's not exactly
tailored for your situation. It was meant for Scheloth demons but a couple
of modifications and the spell should-"

"Wes? In layman's terms?" Angel said quietly, "And quickly, I'm about to go
into a cave."

"A cave?"

"Wes," Angel warned urgently.

"You turn to dust and then are reformed as a whole soul."

"How soon can you perform the spell? Do I have to physically be with you?"

"Angel, there is a strong possibility that once you turn to dust that you
will not become whole again if something goes wrong."

"Wesley, please answer the question."

"I can do it as soon as tomorrow night, perhaps. And no, you do not need to
be here with me."

"Then do it," Angel said, urgently as he neared the mouth of the cave.

"Angel," Wesley said weakly, never fearing the death of a vampire until this
very day.

"Wesley please, I can't live in this limbo anymore...please."


//i walked into your dream
and now i've forgotten how to dream my own dream
you are the clever one aren't you//

Riley walked along, being pulled by an irresistible force. He wanted to turn
back and talk to Buffy, make certain that his future with her was there, but
he couldn't even weave from the course he was forced to take, let alone go
back. He thought about screaming for help, but for some reason he could not
remember how.

Even as he was walking, he couldn't get Buffy and Angel out of his mind. He
was torn between grieving for the loss of his friend and the possible loss
of his girl. He couldn't stop thinking about how Angel hadn't actually been
evil. That was a good day. What the hell was he like when he was evil?
Thinking back, Angel never once attempted to kill him while they were
fighting as he should have if he was evil. Not that the mercy made Riley
trust him. He would never trust him. He hated the bastard.

He saw a shadow trailing him out of his peripheral vision but could not turn
his head to identify his tail. As he stepped into the cave, he realized
where he was going and who he was going to. He begged for mercy in his mind
as he walked, pleaded for a future with The Slayer, prayed to see another


//in the springtime of his voodoo, he was going to show me spring//

Buffy went out on patrol, trying to purge her conflicting thoughts of Angel
and Riley. She went to her favorite part of the park where the trees grew so
thick that all you could see was tree trunks, leaves and branches. It's
almost like trunk to trunk is how she got where she was going. She knew that
vampires didn't usually hide in this thicket of woods, but she didn't care.
The trees shielded her from the world and leaves brushed against her like
the tender caresses.

She took her time as she traveled through, trying to rid her mind of Angel.
She tried to think of Riley - her sweet, kind Riley, who held her and tried
to be her closest friend but she kept coming back to Angel. She didn't want
this - this backing up, rushing headlong into the storm of the past. She was
backing up and he was gaining on her, quickly closing the distance between
what she used to call "us."

But the decision was already made, she reminded herself. He was already gone
but the violence of his presence was not retreating. She tried to banish all
of the memories of what she had with him, of what she felt like when all the
world was right, but he just had to look at her once and it came back. And
it was as if it was never gone.

No, she scolded herself inwardly, That's not my world anymore. He's not my
world anymore.

//i'm trying not to move. it's just your ghost passing through//

But he was her world. He would always be her world. The black and white
sphere of her reasoning was quickly fading to gray and she was unable to
focus on where she was walking. All she could see was the memories of true
love flashing across her eyes in brilliant bloom, in irrational goblins of a
life long past. She had spent so much time since he left telling herself
that someday she would be able to make the memories of him, the sound of his
voice, the feel of his touch go away that she had somehow convinced herself
that she had done it. But when she was with him, she lost her voice, her
sense of what everyone else thought was right and the only thing she knew
for sure was that she needed to be with him again. For forever this time.

Buffy stepped out into a clearing and readjusted her eyes just in time to
see the vampire's attack on her. She swept into motion, feeling the hook of
the underworld fishing at her subconscious.


//sometimes i think you want me to touch you
how can i when you build a great wall around you
in your eyes i saw a future together//

Angel stalked back toward Buffy's dorm with fury behind his dark eyes. That
traitorous little bastard! Not only was Riley sleeping with his mate but he
was in league with her greatest enemy! He had looked on in the dark as Riley
casually walked up to Adam and began to chat with him about their plans.
Even with vampiric hearing, Angel didn't catch most of the conversation, but
he did hear Adam call Riley "brother" and he didn't see the jerk do anything
to fight, walk away or even disagree!

When you're in love, the vision of a woman in the arms of another man
arouses astonishment and aggravating horror. When you know the man is
betraying her, the horror manipulates itself into a new creature that cannot
be tamed with anything but action - quick, uncautious, cruel action. The
truth was, in his state of jealousy and fury, he could no longer remember
why he left her. He asked himself the question over and over again and could
come up with no answers.

The time that had passed without her was a blur to him - a useless waste of
days, while he was not in her arms. In the past few months, he rarely had
"Buffy face" anymore. He hardly brooded for her - or at least not a daily
basis. She was slipping from his memory in slow, wide strides. He didn't
remember what it was like to hold her anymore, to be worshiped in her green
eyes. He couldn't recall what it was like to be circling around her dazzling
smile. She used to blind him with the light she emitted and now she was no
more a part of him than his tattoo - just a beautiful scar that he sometimes
forgot was there. Being around her, even briefly in the last few days,
reminded him of all the love he had begun to forget. Once he felt it again,
his body needed more.

Millions of romantic metaphors floated in his head as he headed toward her,
his body steering itself away from her dorm and toward her real location. He
needed to bathe in her, needed to be with her and for a few precious,
perfect moments, he forgot that he was a demon who couldn't make love to
her, give her children or anything resembling a normal life. All he knew was
he was a man in love and he was suffering a horrible torment while he was
forced to live without her.

He turned into the graveyard and found her, flying through the air in a
perfect kick. The force coming from her tiny body knocked the vampire, who
was at least three times her size, on his back. Pulling a stake from the
inside pocket of her leather jacket - of his leather jacket- she bent at the
knee, staking him with one efficient plunge. She barely noticed his body
exploding into dust because she was looking up, looking around to see Angel.
She stood, absently touching the jacket, not taking her eyes off of him.
Busted wearing her ex-lover's generous gift.

When she dragged the jacket out of the closet, she never would have thought
he would have caught her wearing it again. But there she was and there he
was and the jacket was a loud, blinking indicator of where the truth lay
hidden. She gravitated towards him, allowing her body to move on its own

"You're beautiful," he said, meeting her eyes, stepping in to trace the
delicate line of her jaw. Without thinking of the consequences, he leaned
and covered her lips with his own, pulling her tighter against him as the
kiss deepened. She went slack against him, lost in the confusion caused by
his cool, pressing mouth.

Angel didn't care about Riley anymore. Any respectful distance that he had
kept - if what he had done so far was considered respectful distance - was
no longer needed. The boy didn't deserve to be in the same room with his
beloved and he didn't give a god damn if he came strolling up while she was
in his arms. He wanted him to lose her in the most painful way possible and
then he wanted to twist the blade of betrayal and make it hurt just a little
bit more.

At least that's what he thought before he made it to her lips. Once he had
her back in his arms, he forgot about Riley and curses and pain. He forgot
he was supposed to be unhappy and brooding. He delved into her mouth a
little further and pulled her closer, taking possession of his mate, pouring
his entire being into the love the kiss represented. He wanted her to feel
him on every inch of her skin.

And she did. She felt Angel inside and out. She reached up and ran her
fingers over his hair. She melted into him and felt him molding himself
against her in the way only Angel could. He sucked every bit of hesitation
and doubt from her body as he covered her lips with his own.

//cutting my hands up every time i touch you//

The kiss was reluctantly broken with heavy panting on both sides. Angel
covered her sweet lips again briefly before exhaling unneeded breath with
the words, "I love you, Buffy."

"I love you too," she said and felt reality crush against her shoulders. A
mountain range of regret filled her eyes as she said, "But we both know it's
not that simple. We...we can't be together."

Her words made sense in her head but when she said it out loud, it just came
out wrong. The slumped shoulders of her ex-lover told her that she was
breaking his heart. She immediately wanted to take her words back but knew
she couldn't.

Angel was consumed with guilt for all that he had done to her, how he had
walked away. He couldn't very well ask her to take him back. At least he did
understand that it wasn't fair to ask her to leave the normal life he had
left her to start. But he couldn't stand to hear her say the words she was
saying; couldn't stand that some worthless prick and a traitor on top of
that, was the someone else holding her, kissing her. Riley Finn was the man
worthy of her love, but he wasn't?

"Make it that damn simple," Angel exclaimed, in a very unAngelic fashion,
"If you love me, then you should be with me."

"Normal life, remember?" she asked, stepping a full stride away from him in
an attempt to control the situation, "And your soul..."

"Buffy, I know we have some things to talk about," Angel started, "My soul

"Don't talk to me about Riley," she said, raising her voice, "You have no

"I know, Buffy, but-"

"Angel, don't. I don't want to talk about my current boyfriend with my ex.
You left. You were right," she said and with tears filling her eyes, she
turned away, "It's over, Angel. You said you'd leave."

"Buffy," Angel said, stepping behind her and clasping her shoulders, "You
have to listen to me at least - hear what I have to say. We can make this

Buffy turned back to him, making him release her as she moved. With large
eyes streaming large tears she whispered, "Angel please...go."


//sit in the chair and be good now
and become all that they told you
the white coats enter//

Riley couldn't make his body move. Even his mouth wasn't cooperating. He
only movement he could do of his own free will was look around at what was
about to happen to him. Forest's death was upsetting but his reanimation was
a thousand times worse. His friend was working with Adam and they were going
to make him into what they were.

When Buffy entered the room, storming through, blonde hair flying as she
rushed to his side, he tried to make his lips move, tried to respond to her
voice, but couldn't. He gathered every ounce of love, hate and passion
inside himself as he watched her fight in the laboratory. He knew if he
didn't move, she would die and so would he. The thought of her death,
created enough adrenalized momentum to allow him to slide his fingers over
to the broken glass on the table. That small movement gave him confidence
for the next and the next until he was carving into his own chest to remove
the chip from his Central Nervous System.

The cut was no more painful than the thought of her death or his own. No
longer helpless, he stood and went to save his love. Riley Finn had no
greater talent than determination. The force had propelled him through his
entire life. Once the goal was set, he had the ability to bend the world to
accept his ideal resolution. This night was no different. He fought to free
Buffy, he killed his robotic, demonized friend and then he went to save The
Slayer from Adam's invincible clutches.

He wasn't sure what was more surprising - the sight of Adam laying on the
floor slain (or is it slayed?) by The Slayer, the sight of his power core
levitating over her small hand or the possession taking over her lovely
eyes. Time was on their side as she regained her humanity and back with her
friends, she charged into battle. The phenomenal woman that he loved was
more invincible than Adam and more beautiful that words could describe. He
carried her strength inside his wounded chest as he jumped into the fray at
her side. He was sure all the world would be right.

Until he saw Angel.


//why do i feel so threatened
that somebody else will take what's mine
babe it's only rented
no one really owns the merchandise//

Angel did leave Sunnydale just as Buffy asked him to. He went back to LA and
talked to Wesley about the spell, brooded for a short time and when night
fell again he headed back to his love. He did as she asked. He left. But she
never said anything about coming back.

He knew it was over. He knew that every drop of love and happiness he had
dreamed about was gone forever. He also knew that she was in grave danger
and the supposed ally at her side was a traitor. After so many years
stalking the earth, Angel was still unsure of many things, but he knew that
he could not let her die. He told Wesley to go ahead with the spell. He
wanted to be free of the magical tether that had chained him for so long. If
he died, either by the spell or at battle, at least he would be close to

//so many dreams on the shelf
you say i wanted you to be proud of me
i always wanted that myself//

For the final time, Angel knew he was giving her up and maybe his life along
with it. As he entered the pandemonium that Adam had created inside The
Initiative, he was sure that he would not make it back home. He tossed his
thoughts aside as he began killing demons and knocking soldiers off of him.
He killed his way toward the magical waves coming from the place where Buffy
was. He had made it halfway to her, when she emerged with her friends,
boyfriend and Spike behind her.

She began fighting immediately, creating a path of broken demons for her
friends to pass through. With each demon she killed and each bone she
snapped, she became increasingly aware of Angel. Distracted, she looked
anxiously around the room and found him vigorously snapping demon necks,
leaving piles of grisly bodies in his wake. He felt her eyes on him and met

//the soul-quake happened here in a glass world
particle by particle she slowly changes//

"Buffy," he whispered across the room before he exploded into dust.

The entire complex shuddered as The Slayer screamed "Angel" at a quickly
dissipating cloud of ash.


//and now i speak to you are you in there
you have her face and her eyes
but you are not her//

Battling The First Slayer in the same night as killing Adam and witnessing
Angel's death, took every ounce of strength Buffy had left. Riley came by
after his debriefing, crawled into bed with her and took her in his arms.
She remained still, unmoving...wrecked. It took a full two days before he
could get her to answer him, say anything at all. And then her words were
more disturbing than her silence.

"I can feel him," she whispered against her pillow with Riley against her
back, "He's not dead. I can still feel him."

"He's dead," Riley whispered, "We saw him turn to dust. Honey, he's gone."

"No," she said, shaking her head, creating more tangles in her blonde hair
than before, "He's not. If he was dead, then I wouldn't be able to feel him.
Why do I still feel him?"

//even still you're calling me//

She began sobbing, her narrow shoulders jabbing at him as he gathered her in
closer. He was losing her and wasn't sure how to get her back. Before he
didn't know how he could compete with Angel and now how the hell was he
supposed to compete with his death? He couldn't pull her from the world of
depression that she had sunk into and he couldn't stop the itchy fear that
the vampire, somehow, some way, had managed to survive.


//dripping with blood and with time and with your advice
poison me against the moon//

The particles of what was once Angel laid unmoving on the hard Initiative
floor. The empty compound had been prepped for total annihilation and was
just awaiting the final order, so there was no one there to witness the
miracle of Angel's body reforming itself among the littered demon corpses.
The mutation took hours but once it started, it began increasing in speed
and accuracy. At 9:15 PM, two days after he lost his shape, he regained it
with his soul anchored and intact. Angel stood on shaky legs, moving his
naked body cautiously.

Each step was excruciating but he continued through the complex, using sheer
force of will to continue. He walked slowly but steadily, managing to skirt
around the demon flesh and blood that painted the floor, walls and what
equipment remained. After longer than he expected, he reached the outside,
taking the in night. The fresh air jogged his memory and came up with
nothing. He looked around for a direction in which to travel but could not
decide which one would lead him to where he should be. He began walking
again, aimless but alive.


//where are those angels when you need them//

Buffy stood up from bed and slipped on shoes. Riley still slept and she
didn't wake him. She found she could no longer lay in wait. She knew Angel
was alive with every fiber of her being. She left the house quietly and made
her way toward the feeling of him.

The night contorted to her will, shifted in her way and carried her to her
lost lover. She found him walking - sauntering really. His body was naked,
silver and moon-lined in the dark. She stopped, awestruck by his beauty and
by his solid shape - not ashes and dust, but solid...alive...undead.

//he moved like the sunset. god, who painted that?//

She yelled his name and ran to him. He turned and looked over at the female
approaching and was confused by the emotions on her face - happiness, shock
and an underlying sadness. She didn't stop and collided with him at full
momentum. He was surprised when he fell back from the force of her small
body slamming into his. She showered kisses on his face, repeating,

He allowed her molestation and tried to place her face in his memory but
could not. He looked up at her and finally, after long moments she met his
stare. The grass was soft and damp against his skin, pillowing his head and
her body was flushed and warm against him. He looked into her eyes, trapped
inside the shimmering pools of shifting green. His body screamed from the
pain that had not yet begun to calm inside him, but he couldn't pay
attention to those feelings and look into her eyes at the same time. He was
forced to revert his state of mind to The Slayer who had tackled him.


"Angel?" he repeated, confusion clear on his face.

"Do you know who you are?" He shook his head, signifying that he didn't. She
took a deep breath, searching his eyes harder. "Do you know who I am?"

"No," he answered truthfully and saw the expected hurt in her eyes, "but..."

"But what?"

"I think...I'm not sure why, but I think I love you," he said, blinking as
her tears hit his face.

"You do," she whispered confidently.

"I do?" He asked, touching her face, trying to remember it.

"Yes," she whispered again.

"And you love me?" He asked.

"Always," she whispered, "I've always loved you."


//fire on the side
purple sunset, orange moon
i'm alone again without you
i knew someone had to lose//

Riley woke up to find Buffy gone and moved through the house in a thorough
military fashion, only to find her gone. Picking up the phone, he called
Giles first, then Willow, finally Xander - all of them unaware of her
location. He clicked into a professional form of panic and walked out the
door to sweep the streets. Starting first in the places he knew she
patrolled often, he branched out methodically to places he thought she
sometimes went and found himself searching places he was certain she would
never go.

He began again when he completed his first sweep, searching more closely.
His professional panic was turning into hysteria and he was tempted to start
overturning rocks. He couldn't find her anywhere. She wasn't well. She had
barely slept or eaten since Angel died and she could already be dinner to
some demon or vampire.

Each step he took that didn't reveal her alive, made him believe more that
she was dead. Each thought of her possible death propelled him to move
faster and faster in his search. He had to find her. They couldn't go
through all this and then die. It wasn't possible.


//in a bath of glitter and tiny shiver she crawls through your java sea
black sahara
i'm stepping in to your space oddity//

Buffy led Angel to the dusty, crippled mansion on Crawford street. She
looked carefully around her as they walked, making sure that no one saw
them. In fact, she tried not to look at him at all but couldn't stop herself
from taking in his perfect flesh. Rippling muscles danced in plain view as
he walked beside her, holding her hand and looking around him for a clue, a
memory, a flash of familiarity, but couldn't reach the spark that would make
him remember.

She clutched his cold hand so tightly that warmth spread through the rest of
him. He looked over at her often, taking in her incredible beauty. She was
rumpled as if she had just gotten up from bed, but the dark circles under
eyes betrayed the fact that she had not slept while she was there. Her body
flushed as they neared the building where she was taking him and he could
tell that her blood pressure was rising as if there was something there that
he too should remember.

Even with her dirty clothes, tangled hair and dark circles, he knew, without
any memory of the fact, that she was the most beautiful thing he had ever
seen. Love filled his heart as they walked. The only things he was certain
of was that he could trust her and love her without any fear or doubt. He
squeezed the tiny hand in his as they entered the mansion.

"What's your name?" He asked as they stepped inside.

"Buffy," she answered as if she kept expecting him to know it inside. He
couldn't remember but he knew the name was right. It fit her and it fit
inside his mind - another lost piece settling into place.

"Buffy," he repeated. He may not remember her name but he said it like Angel
always said it - like it was a vow of everything he was, everything he meant
to be.


//so i show you some more and i learn what black magic can do//

Wesley dialed Giles' number carefully, trying to hush Cordelia's yelling.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Cordelia shouted as he dialed, "Angel
could be dead! Deader than he already was anyway."

"I know Corde- Giles. Yes, hello, this is Wesley."

"Wesley," Giles repeated, "This is a surprise."

"Yes, well, I won't keep you. I was just wondering if perhaps you had seen

The crushing realization sank over Giles. None of them had even thought to
call LA and inform Angel's employees and their own former friends that the
vampire had died. "Oh dear, I'm so sorry. We didn't even think to call
you...Angel is...dead."

"You saw him die?" Wesley asked.

"Yes, we witnessed his...death."

"Where was he when he died?" Wesley asked excitedly and nervously.

"We were in the Initiative," Giles answered, a bit confused at Wesley's

"Has anyone been back there since then?"

"No...what is going on?"

Wesley launched into a detailed description of the spell to his former
co-worker, who, despite his experience on the Hellmouth, found that he had
to sit down.


//sweet love
make a slave of me
i should have more control//

Angel was kissing Buffy with the passion of a man who had just been dead and
did not want to let anything stand in the way of restarting life. He was
eating away at her sweet resistence, sipping away two days of tense fear,
drinking her tears to sate the hunger inside himself. Her lips carried
memory on them and the recollection was delicious. He couldn't get enough of
the feelings she caused inside his cold skin, bubbling in his long unused
organs, simmering in his anchored soul.

He allowed his hands the freedom to reacquaint themselves with her lithe
frame, pausing over random inches of golden flesh. She was beautiful,
perfect, a vision of what was, what could be, as he kissed his way down her
neck. His lips remembered her scar and he found himself suckling the mark he
had left on her neck. He made short work of the pearl buttons on her sweater
and pulled it open to reveal more velvet flesh. He took his time, reminding
himself of the delineations of her.

He slipped the sweater from her shoulders and walked around her to kiss the
nape of her neck, trace the gentle lines of her back, kiss away the tension
that lay hidden in her remarkable muscles. He made his way around and
captured her lips again, reminding himself. He slid his large hands down her
smooth sides and landed against her hips. Folding his fingers into her waist
band, he nudged the covering away.

Buffy spent every second staring at him, running her hands over any part of
him she could reach, assuring and reassuring herself that he was real. His
touch felt more genuine than she could remember. So much time away from his
actual touch, memory did no justice to the authentic feel of him. She
squeezed her eyes shut and tried to push away the thoughts of making him
stop touching her. She was a willing accomplice in her undressing as she
stepped out of her pants, allowing him to slip them off her body and away.
He kissed along her legs and thighs, leaving no place free of his hands and

He stood and lifted her in his arms, just as she was sure her legs were
going to give and he carried her to the bed. He laid her down like silk,
watching her flutter against the dusty bedclothes. He settled against her,
feeling an ache rise up in him that felt more familiar than he wanted to
believe. Intrinsically, he knew that he had not made love to this woman in a
very long time. He was aware, not of the memories, but of the emotions,
making him believe that this was more than just a carnal act, but of soul
mates rejoining.

He dipped between her thighs to taste her and he found his body
instinctively knew her. He journeyed into her pleasure, rediscovering what
was long lost and long passed. As she climaxed beneath his lips and tongue,
he felt ecstasy with her. He made his way back to her open lips and kissed
her panting breaths, taking her moans into himself.

//is that what i taste
your supernova juice//

As she felt him enter her, she opened her eyes with shock and held him still
inside her. His question was in his eyes and she erupted into desperate
sobs. He wiped at the overflow of tears on her face and choked back his own.

"Buffy," he said as if he remembered her name, "What's wrong, love?"

"We can't," she gagged into her weep.

"Why not?" He asked, innocence in his forgetful eyes.

"You'll lose your soul."

"I don't understand," he said, kissing her tears, "How can I lose my soul by
loving you?"

Her tears increased with his words and her sobs became more violent. Every
day she had spent without him, every moment of pain that had been caused by
their being together and apart, was flooding from her eyes as they lay
together. Still throbbing inside her, Angel began murmuring soft words of
comfort, although he wasn't sure what pain he was comforting. He knew,
however, that somehow this was his fault.

"Buffy," he whispered, "It's okay. It'll be alright."

"No, Angel," she replied, "It will never be alright."

"Let me make love you," he whispered, kissing her softly.

"We can't," she said, struggling for control of her tears, "I know you don't
remember why but we can't."

"Yes, we can," he whispered, pressing harder against her core, "I won't lose
my soul."

"You don't know that. You don't even remember what will happen if you do."

"I don't remember," he whispered, kissing her neck, "But I know."

"You know?"

//love is touching souls. surely you touched mine
'cause part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time//

"I know I'm safe in your arms," he said, looking deeply in her eyes. He
began moving slowly inside her, feeling his mate respond to his movements.


"And you're safe in my arms," he said, undeterred in his movement, "You're
always safe with me."

Heat boiled inside her and the strength she might have had to make it stop
disappeared. She lost herself in his deep brown eyes and the love that
siphoned from him. She wanted so badly to believe that he was right. And
even though she was certain he wasn't, she could not turn away and she could
not make him stop.


//maybe i ain't used to maybes smashing in a cold room//

Riley searched Sunnydale all over several times, before he made his way to
Giles' flat with his tail tucked between his legs. He knocked on the door,
hoping that she would be there now but sure that she wasn't. Giles opened
the door, slack jawed with shock over his recent conversation with Wesley.
He absently nodded at Riley and stood back for him to enter, while his face
was buried in an dusty text.

"Have you seen Buffy?" Riley asked and looked around the room at the
Scoobies, who had only just arrived themselves.

"No," Willow said, "We haven't."

"And we're not really sure if we should be worried or not," Xander added.

"What's going on?" Riley asked, looking at each blank face in turn and
finally settled on Giles who was still looking in his book. He had picked up
an apple and was munching on it as his eyes flew over the words on the page.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, sorry," Giles said, holding his apple in the air, the gesture
asking that Riley wait just a moment more. Riley stared at Giles, looked
around the room at everyone else looking at Giles. Finally after several
drawn out minutes, Giles looked up, "It looks like Wesley was right. This
could have worked."

"What could have worked? Is Buffy in danger?" Riley said with a jittery edge
to his voice.

"No," Giles said, settling in the chair behind his desk, "We don't think so.
It appears that Angel might not be dead."

If Riley could think of one sentence he didn't want to hear, it was "Angel
might not be dead." That ranked slightly below "Angel is not dead," which
fell just under "Buffy is dead." He hated the idea of her ex-lover being
alive, which led him immediately to the conclusion that the reason she was
missing was that she was with him. From the sympathetic glances pointing at
him from all of the members of the room, he understood that they had already
jumped to that conclusion.

"Well..." Riley said after several moments had been taken to digest the news
of Angel's possible survival, "How can we find out for sure?"

"Buffy's missing and Angel might be alive," Xander summed up, "So I think
someone should check the mansion."

"Quite right," Giles said, saluting Xander's suggestion with his half eaten

"The mansion?" Riley asked, feeling as if he were more than just out of the

"Angel used to live in a mansion on Crawford Street," Willow answered,
looking quickly around the room, as if she thought she had given too much

"I want to go," Riley said, hopping to his feet, "Where is it exactly?"

"I'll go with you," Xander said volunteering and rising slowly to his feet
with a sigh.

"If Angel's all fangy," Anya said, "You could die. I think someone else
should go."

"From this spell," Giles said, "I think that if he is actually alive that
his soul would be intact. I don't think there's anything to fear, Anya."
Giles said, opening his weapons trunk and pulling out two crossbows and
handing them to Riley and Xander, "But just in case."

The two men left quietly and walked urgently toward the mansion. Silence
bonded them. They were both terrified of what they might find. Neither
wanted to see the lovers reunited. Xander spent his whole friendship with
Buffy dreading that she would end up spending her life with a vampire. He
hated the whole species, but he reserved a different kind of hatred for
Angel. Angel had everything that Xander always wanted - Buffy's love and
affection. Riley feared what Xander already knew to be true. He saw the way
she looked at Angel. Even through her anger, he could tell that she loved


//i'm such a lush for your love//

Buffy watched the sleeping form of her lover. She watched his soul remain
intact, watched it not slip away. His face was not serene, however. He
moaned and winced from the pain that still coursed through his veins. She
found it interesting that he could hide his reaction to the pain while he
was awake but in sleep, his barrier lowered and he could not hide it. She
woke him after awhile, whispering his name and sliding her hand up and down
the smooth skin of his arm.

"Angel," she whispered, "Wake up."

"Buffy?" he said, opening his eyes slowly.

"Yes," she whispered, "You're not healing fast enough. You need to feed."

"Okay," he said, looking at her strangely, "I think I need clothes if we're
going to go out to eat."

"Angel," she said, touching his face, "You do remember that you're a
vampire, right?"

His eyes widened momentarily, but he quickly recovered, "Um...sure...of
course...I'm a vampire?"

She nodded silently and waited for the realization to sink in. It took
several moments, but he sat up in bed, lunging forward and reached for the
scar on her neck. She flinched voluntarily as his fingers hit one of the
most sensitive spots on her body.

"I did that?"

She nodded again and calmly waited for him to react. He looked down at his
own arm and felt his wrist, finding no pulse there. Buffy waited, watching
his face closely. He sat very still for several moments and then moved into
game face. He reached up slowly and felt his face, groaning in
disappointment at what he felt. Testing her, he looked up at her through his
golden eyes, expecting another flinch. She didn't and she wasn't afraid.
Only love could be found in her eyes. She reached out to touch him and he
performed the missing flinch, moving away from her touch.

"Angel," she said, "I really wish you remembered the many conversations we
had about this. I'll sum it up for you: I love you. All of you."

"Even this?" He said, gesturing to his own disfigured face.

"Even that," she said, leaning in to kiss him. He moved away but she
followed until he was back against the pillows and her lips were on his. He
was terrified his fangs would cut her, but she wasn't. She was expert at
dodging fangs. She teased her tongue into his mouth and his vampire face
disappeared as he lost himself in her kisses.

"I'm sorry," he said, when they finally broke apart.

"For what?" She asked, absently sliding her hand over his bare chest.

"Being a vampire," he said, the words coming out as if the answer should
have been obvious.

"I'm not sorry," she said. She stared into his eyes, with cold seriousness,
"If you weren't a vampire, you would have died, like two hundred years ago.
We never would have met and I would never have known love like this. I'm not
sorry you're a vampire. I'll never be sorry you're a vampire."

"Have you always been this perfect?" He asked, smiling broadly at her.

"Pretty much all my life," she said smugly, "But you know what would be even
more perfect?"


"A shower," she said, "a long hot shower."

"Think the plumbing still works here?" He asked, sitting up.

"Well it used to when you lived here," she answered.

"Let's go see," he said, tugging her little hand as he rose from the bed.
His wince from pain wasn't audible, but she could see it fly across his face
before he hid the pain from her.

"Are you okay, honey?" she said, looking up at him.

"Yeah," he said, with a smile, "Only hurts when I'm conscious."

Besides being a little dusty and abandoned, the bathroom was clean and in
working order. Angel had even left towels behind in the closet when he left.
He fingered the black terrycloth as Buffy turned on the water, feeling for
and frankly begging, hot water to come out.

"I didn't want to leave you," he said as the memory of feeling came back to
him suddenly, "I left these things here because I didn't want to leave. A
part of me hoped I would be able to come back. I thought if I didn't take
everything with me, then maybe I wasn't really gone."

He blinked from the memory and looked over at her. She was perched on the
edge of the claw foot, porcelain tub, feeling the water that shot out from
the overhanging shower spout. She was a fantastic miracle, hand paused under
the spray, looking at him with tears in her eyes. He crossed the room
quickly and pulled her into his arms.

//and there's something believing in her voice again
said there's something believing
instead of just leaving//

"I wanted to come back here a thousand times," she said against his hard
chest, "But I wouldn't let myself. If I came back here, I knew that I would

"Lose what, love?" He asked, brushing her hair back from her forehead as she
turned to look up at him.

"Lose the fight with myself. The one that kept me going every day without
you. I guarded my thoughts and actions, steering myself away from you," she
paused under his stare, "It was the only way I could live when you left."

He crushed her against him and held her for a long time, before stepping in
the blissfully hot water and pulling her in with him.


//know, know too well
know the chill
know she breaks
my siren//

Riley and Xander snuck in the mansion, two ex-soldiers moving in the
camouflage of the dark. Tension rode high on their shoulders as they moved
closely to the wall, keeping their ears wired for sound. Muffled voices
drifted in from another room.

The two looked at each other and nodded silently in agreement. Riley led the
mission, taking the first step through the atrium, moving quietly around the
overgrown and neglected flowerbeds. Ahead was a heavy maroon drape and they
moved toward it, eyes focused on the material barrier.

Both were positive that Buffy and Angel had to be on the other side. Afraid
of what they would see when they pulled it aside and peered into the
mansion's Great Room, they held their breath. Time moved in slow motion and
the doorway seemed to be getting further away but at the same time appeared
to arrive too soon.

Riley stood in front of the curtain, gathering his strength, and he reached
out slowly to touch the cumbersome fabric. Slowly sliding his fate aside, he
peered into the next room.


//i guess i'm an underwater thing
so i guess i can't take it personally
i guess i'm an underwater thing
liquid running
there's a sea secret in me
it's plain to see that it is rising
but i must be flowing liquid diamonds//

Buffy felt like a pampered princess as she and Angel went into the living
room. They found that Angel had left a bit of clothing behind. They shared
an outfit - he slipped on the pants and she wore one of his old shirts. She
recognized it right away and knew why he had left it behind. It used to be
one of his favorites. It was the same a deep royal blue shirt he wore when
he gave her the ring on her seventeenth birthday. She didn't realize until
now, but he never wore it again after that day.

She curled up on the couch and watched him stoke the fire in the fireplace.
He joined her on the couch and she laid her head on his chest. She was
completely relaxed, not allowing thoughts of her friends or Riley ruin the
moment. But another thought interrupted - Angel had to feed if he was going
to be healed.

Buffy had to argue furiously with Angel before he consented to drink her
blood. Starving and in pain, he finally gave in and nodded slowly with shame
in his eyes. She crawled into his lap and tilted her head to the side. He
stared at the scar there, wishing he could remember what happened last time,
wishing he could remember if it was a mistake.

//in my blood like holy wine
you taste so bitter and so sweet
well, i could drink a case of you, darling
and i would still be on my feet
i would still be on my feet//

Finally, after several minutes, Angel morphed into his vampiric visage and
sunk his teeth into the mark he left behind. Her blood was so potent, so
strong and sweet, he was surprised his heart hadn't started to beat. Pain
leaked from his pores, scrambling to escape The Slayer's essence. As he
drank, she leaned back against the couch and he moved with her, covering
half of her body with half of his.

Lost in the gratification of her blood and the healing of his body, he was
unaware of his surroundings. Rooted into her and feeding off the elixir from
her throat, he was surprised when she shifted violently in his arms. Slayer
strength rising to the surface she slammed her lover onto his back on the
couch. Angel's fangs slipped out of her neck as she moved and he looked up
just in time to see the arrow intended for him, slipping into her flawless
skin like butter.

//they say that girl lost her sway
the say that girl lost her sway that day//

Her name bounced off of the walls in the large room, as three men screamed
it at once. Riley dropped the crossbow and stepped back in shock at what he
had done. In an attempt to save her, he had hurt her even more.

Angel could not shed his game face with the fear and anger filling him. He
reached around and touched the arrow, identifying where it had struck her.
He slipped easily out from under her and he lifted her in his arms. Not
bothering to look at the two intruders, he ran shirtless and barefooted from
the mansion. They followed closely but could not keep up with Angel's
accelerated vampiric speed.


//all over my dreams
i got lizards and snakes running through my body
funny how they all have my face//

Riley was panting as he ran into the emergency room. Xander followed closely
behind. They streaked past the other patients, passing the lady behind the
window, who was yelling her objections. Twisting through the maze of
hospital corridors, they didn't stop running until they nearly smashed into
the angry vampire pacing in the halls.

Angel had taken on his human guise but his eyes remained yellow. He turned
on the two men, growling loud enough for them to hear.

"Get the hell out of here, Riley," Angel snarled, not even realizing that
Buffy's blood had returned his memory, "Before I fucking kill you."

Angel glared at Xander but said nothing to him. Riley stood his ground. He
wasn't going to leave her there, especially when it was all his fault. Dread
and fear kept him rooted to the hospital floor. Angel took a step toward the
soldier and Xander stepped between them.

"Yeah," Xander said, hiding his apprehension behind sarcasm, "Killing each
other is gonna do a lot to save Buffy. Riley, why don't you call Giles and
tell him what's up?"

Xander stared at Riley until he turned and moved down the hallway. He knew
he should be the one to tell the Watcher that he may have killed The Slayer
but he couldn't figure out how to word it exactly. He slipped change into
the payphone and dialed the number slowly, willing the words to come. He had
to hang up before he completed the number because his body was racked with
sobs. He leaned his head against the cool metal of the telephone. He knew
that if he hadn't lost her before, he had now. If she lived, if she survived
this, she would never forgive him.

//just watch it
just watch it slip through my hands, boy
watch it go//

Tears flowed steadily and without pause as he realized that he had destroyed
his entire future with one strike. Somewhere deep inside himself he knew
that if the arrow had landed where he had originally intended, their
relationship would be just as over as it is now. She would never forgive
him. Never.


//stare but i can taste you're still alive below the waste
ripples come and ripples go
and ripple back to me, back to me//

Angel, recently clothed thanks to Willow, stepped over the threshold to
Buffy's room and looked over her sleeping face. She would be okay. Slayer
strength saved her and her healing abilities would have her on active patrol
in no time. The knowledge of that only sated one of the raging emotions
inside him.

He touched her face, whispering to her in a low murmuring voice, willing her
to wake up. He knew that one look in her eyes would calm the fierce
sensations clambering in his brain. But he wouldn't be okay until he could
see her eyes, open and alert. Guilt for taking her blood in the first place
was not the highest feeling he was having but was near the forefront of his
recent brood. He sat down on the edge of her bed, alarmed at how pale she
looked against the sterile hospital sheets.

He jerked his head up at Giles entered the room and made his way to her
bedside in fatherly concern. Angel moved away from the bed and looked out
the window. He felt he was generously giving Giles respective distance, but
refused to leave the room. He wasn't going to leave her side until she
opened her eyes and even then he might never leave. He no longer cared about
keeping her in the darkness, as long as she was alive while in it.

Giles nodded silently at Angel as he turned to leave. Angel moved back to
her bedside and nodded back at Giles. There was no need for words. They both
knew what had happened, both knew that Riley was not the only one to blame.
Giles wordlessly went back into the hallway, joining the assembled Scooby

//your time slips away
raining blood from a lacerated sky
bleeding its horror
creating my structure
now i shall reign in blood//

Angel didn't look up from her face again until another set of footsteps
entered the room. Angel growled and stood.

"Don't take another step."

"I have a right to see her," Riley said, returning Angel's cold glare.

"You lost all your rights when you tried to kill her."

"I was trying to kill you," Riley admitted without remorse.

"I know," Angel snarled, "Doesn't matter. The arrow hit her."

Riley nodded silently and took another step toward his girlfriend, causing
Angel to circle her bed and approach Riley.

"Get out," he snarled, the two words carrying murder in them.

"You think Buffy would forgive you if you killed me?" Riley asked, raising
his hands to show he was unarmed.

"I think she would get over it," Angel answered through a golden-eyed glare.

Angel paused to gather himself, knowing Buffy would not forgive him if he
did kill the asshole, no matter what he had done. Angel took a deep breath,
letting the unnecessary oxygen soothe his fury and then repeated, "Get out.
If she wants to see you when she wakes up then I'll stand aside, but you
need to leave now before I kill you...and I really want to kill you."


//i'm aware what the rules are. but you know that i will run. you know that
i will follow you.//

Angel left Buffy's room reluctantly, at her request, so she could talk to
Riley. She promised him that she was breaking up with Riley, but he couldn't
help but feel nervous in the hallway. He felt like he was outside of a
courtroom, waiting for the jurors to return. All of his life led up to this
moment, all of his eternal days would stack up to this one.

It wasn't right and he knew it. He knew that he had no right to expect from
her what he expected. He wanted her to leave her normal life and remain
hiding in the shadows with him. He both loved and hated the idea of her
spending the rest of her life with him. He thought about her loses and
mourned them. At the same time, he rejoiced at the happiness in the days to
come. Torn apart in the hallway, he didn't notice the Scooby eyes on him. He
couldn't notice them. He couldn't even notice his own lingering pain as he
waited for her to call him back in. He begged the gods that she was going to
call him back in her room.

An anchored soul is not a future. Sex alone did not build a happy
relationship. He knew that he was ruining her life but couldn't keep himself
from looking forward to every despicable moment of it. Maybe someday a real
life would be possible for them. Maybe at some point he would stop hating
himself for loving her. Perhaps a day would come when he would not be buried
under his own nature, he would be able to overcome the landslide of


//here we are again under the same sky
as the gypsy crystal slowly dies//

Buffy insisted Angel take her back to the mansion instead of taking her
home. She would face her mother tomorrow. She would go back to real life the
next day but tonight she just wanted to be with him. He carried her into the
house, even though she was nearly healed already. He wouldn't allow her to
walk or move, if he could avoid it.

"I'm not hurt that badly," she whined, wrinkling her nose at him as he
waited on her hand and foot.

"You're going to rest and heal," he answered, smiling down at her. She
pulled his hand, urging him to climb in bed with her. He pulled back.

"I'm not sleeping in the bed with you," he informed her and was greeted with
a scowl.

"Yes, you are," she commanded.

"I could hurt you."

"Don't be ridiculous Angel, it hardly even hurts anymore, which is more than
I can say for you," she said, looking him over. He returned her gaze in
surprise, "What? You thought I couldn't tell you weren't healed all the way.
Oh how you vampires always underestimate The Slayer."

He growled at her and then laughed as he climbed in bed with her. She sighed
in contentment as she laid her head on his chest. Absently, he stroked her
hair, grinning happily. His smile faded as her wandering hands got the
better of him.

"Buffy," he warned, snatching her hands and pressing them against his chest.


"You're not healed," he complained, "And you could pull your stitches out or

"What you think I'm spending the night here instead of home because I wanna
snuggle?" She asked with a wicked grin. She slipped her hands from under his
and allow them to go back on their previous tantalizing course. He groaned
in pleasure from her feather light touches over his quickly hardening groin.

They undressed each other urgently, pressing passionate kisses on recently
bared flesh. He tried to make his mind work as she touched him, considering
the best way to make love without worrying her wound. They understood the
solution in unison and she moved over him. Sliding inside her heated depths,
Angel struggled to remain still, deathly afraid he would hurt her.

She smiled at his worry and smoothed a small hand over his face, reassuring
him as she began to move slowly, rising up and sliding back down. He filled
her completely with each rise and fall of her body. Their lovemaking was a
completion of the promises they had made and a reconnection of the shattered
remnants from every pain caused before.

Despite the pain that they both still felt, in their minds and bodies, it
could not keep perfect happiness from blocking everything else. As Angel
found release, in perfect unison with his soul mate, a broken cry filled his
throat and shuddered through her body. Perched over him, filled by him, she
looked down at her lover in surprise.

//however far away, i will always love you,
however long i stay, i will always love you,
whatever words i say, you know i will always love you,
i will always love you//

At 9:15 PM, two days after he regained his shape and soul, Angel cried out
beneath the heated movements of his mate. Pain shot through his body, ebbing
out through each extremity and flowing into Buffy, who gasped loudly at the
intrusion. Angel arched against her, holding onto her with dear life.

"Buffy," he whispered, momentarily confused. Meeting her frightened eyes, he
remained motionless for longer than she could stand.

"Angel?" She whispered back, feeling the ache of all of her fears filling
her to overflowing. He pulled her hands into his and met her frightened
gaze. The heat between them was rising, even though neither moved any

"Angel?" she repeated, simply because she couldn't make the whole question
form in her mind. He pulled her to him and held her tightly against her
chest. In the midst of the fear and pain, it took exactly 30 seconds for her
to feel the faint beat of his heart against her naked chest.

Wesley's words came floating back to Angel as he met her shocked stare.

...formed again as was the original human elemental structure....

...original human elemental structure...


//show me once how to tango//


The End.

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