Soul Vacation by Tango
FEEDBACK: I wrote this one awhile back and decided to share it with all of you. Please let me know what you think!
RATING: NC-17. dark & angsty
LYRICS: All lyrics are from Train
NOTE: Oh where, oh where have all the B/A Shippers gone? (Have you noticed that there are less and less of us out there?) Keep the faith with me guys, I just know Joss is make all this misery up to us sooner or later. Right? Right? Maybe I need a 12 step program...*g*
//Now all I need is one more chance to make you feel like hanging around//
Buffy told herself it was okay to love him. I mean, why not? She looked down on him sleeping. His dirty blonde hair was tousled against the pillow, his arm thrown over his eyes, he breathed deeply and smiled in his sleep. He smiled to the friend in his dreams, to the mountain he was climbing, to the pages of his life he was turning somewhere in the dark, buried deep in his REM.
He was a lie that she kept telling herself was true. He held her and stroked her hair, told her he loved her. He listened to everything she said as if her opinions were astronomically important. She loved the way he would come up behind her when she was brushing her teeth and watch like she was performing some difficult and talented task. But he didn't talk back. Of course, he talked but he didn't say anything. Buffy made him into what she wanted to see; she tried to make him true. And maybe he was true...for awhile.
When he left her, just as Angel had, she was sure that it was over. She had already slept with Spike half a dozen times when Riley stepped back into her life, carrying his wounded heart in his hands, covered in panicked remorse when he found out she had died. She thought back on the day she chose Riley over Spike. If she lived a hundred years from now, she would never forget the look on Spike's face when she told him she was going back to Riley. But Riley was acceptable, he was the one they all wanted her to be with and with the after effects of heaven still washing over her in soft, slow waves, she didn't care who she was with. Why should it matter?
Riley never knew about Buffy's liaisons with Spike and neither did her friends. He kept his undead silence and kept himself a step back from her after that. He barely spoke to her and only came around the Scoobies when big trouble was a-brewin'. He was evil. She knew that. And yet, she felt a twinge of pain for hurting him. Once again, Spike had made her feel...something.
When she couldn't be with Angel, Riley became the next best thing - a warmth in the darkness that enveloped her. But tonight, during the raging battle that she thought could have been the official "End of Days," she lost her Angel. And now, everything that she had ever lived for seemed to be a lie. Everything she had ever dreamed of, looming in the future, had died. She curled her legs up to her chest in bed and thought about the feelings that came over her when Angel rushed in to help with the battle. Feelings. Angel made her feel again. Without even touching her, he had made her whole body warm again. Spike had broken up the cold but Angel melted it, his brown eyes digging into her soul.
And now he was gone.
She wondered if she would feel differently, if only just slightly, if Cordelia and Wesley hadn't started raving about Shanshu. Angel's prize. He was supposed to become human. Only if he survived. If he had survived he would have been given his dream. She would have been given her dream. How was she supposed to go on with her life knowing what could have been?
She slid out of the bed and put on her clothes, quickly and quietly. She had thought about leaving Riley for months, but somehow being in a lie with Riley was better than being alone - until now. Somehow being with Riley, the acceptable one, rather than Spike had seemed like the best choice. Now there didn't seem to be a choice. She gathered the few things that she kept there in a trash bag, trying to move silently in the dark.
She was nearly finished packing when Riley finally woke up from her rustling around his room. As he stretched and opened his eyes, she kept moving, not looking at him.
"What the are you doing?" She turned around to see the expected incredulous look on his face. She shook her head and turned to pack again.
"Buffy, why are you packing?" He had stepped out of the bed, pushing away the tangled sheets and pulled on his jeans before crossing the distance between them in three large steps. He stood beside her, not touching her and waited, pressing his gaze on her.
"I'm sorry, Riley," she said turning around, facing him.
"Sorry for what?"
"I don't think this is going to work."
//i hopelessly, helplessly wonder why//
"So that's it? You're just leaving? Just like that? Were you even going to say goodbye if I hadn't woken up?"
"Yes," she said, staring at the dresser, "I was going to say goodbye. It's not like I was just going to leave without talking to you."
"Did something happen that I completely missed? What did I do? We saved the world tonight. We survived and now you're saying that somehow *we* didn't survive," He moved across the room and sank down on the bed, trying to decide if he was angry or upset.
"I just," she said, twisting the black garbage bag in her hands, "I just can't. Not anymore."
//she never compromises//
Riley was in a fog, watching Buffy's slight frame as she spoke. He heard the sound of her voice but he couldn't hear her words anymore. He didn't know how to save his future with her. He felt angry, upset, devastated. He felt abused and betrayed by the memory of the vampire who had sacrificed himself tonight. Angel's memory was always floating around their relationship, funny that his death would be the cause of him losing her completely.
When Riley heard that Angel had died in the battle, he was sure that after Buffy healed from the loss, she would finally be able to give herself to him fully. She would finally be able to take the next emotional step that he had been waiting for.
He couldn't have been more wrong.
He argued with her into late morning, begging her to stay, promising her the world if she wouldn't walk away. But she did.
//that pain, that stain seemed like forever//
The drive back to LA was very, very long. Wesley, Cordelia, Gunn and Fred all felt strange in Angel's car. Angel's car. The Angel that was now dead. Cordelia sat in the back with Gunn, sobbing uncontrollably. He pulled her into his arms and she rested her head on his muscular chest, trying to regain her composure. Everyone's eyes showed the weight of their feelings, all had silent tears falling. Angel was dead.
Gunn held onto to Cordy tightly, unable to speak. Wesley, behind the wheel of the black convertible Belvedere, blinked back tears, wondering how their group would fare without the vampire that held them together. Fred, curled in the front seat, cried for the man who had saved her life, the man she loved.
Shocked into sorrow and silence, they went back home.
//and all remember about those days is I would run around thinking about that you'd be alright, but you lost your light along the way.//
The rain was falling in needles, piercing her as she walked. She closed her eyes and turned her face to the sky, as if she was basking in the sun, enjoying the downpour. The rain seemed fitting. She moved along slowly, feeling her clothes stretch from the weight of the rain and hang from her body. She wanted nothing more than to keep walking until the storm had ended. For Buffy, few things made sense in her life but the rain was simple and although mother nature could never be trusted - she embraced and stung at once - there was an explanation for even her wildest mood swings.
//just come back to me so i am not alone//
She hadn't meant to be caught in the downpour; it wasn't intentional, but she was glad that she had chosen that moment to leave Riley's. She wanted to be baptized in her grief. She found her way to the park and crossed over the grass. In the gray, she found her way to the place near the center of the park where two trees sat, their branches interwoven. She dropped to the muddy grass in the cradle the trunks formed. It hadn't rained like that for years that she could remember.
//i get the feeling she won't forget//
The rain reminded her of Angel. The last time it rained like this was the night they made love. How had she lost him? Wasn't he the one who was supposed to live forever? Wasn't she the one who was supposed to die early? Her body still ached from the loss of him, from the feeling of the other half of her soul being ripped away. Maybe she was the one who died after all. Three times a charm.
This time she was completely broken.
//here we are again, back where we started//
They stopped at the hotel and all of them climbed out and went inside, not certain why, since only Fred lived there now. Kate sat on the red couch in the lobby, flipping through a magazine.
"Finally," Kate said, standing up, "I was wondering when you guys would get back. Angel said he thought you'd be here tonight and that he'd help me when he got back - where is Angel?"
The foursome looked at Kate and then at each other and back at Kate again with puffy eyes and broken hearts. Kate craned her head, looking for the vampire to come walking in.
"Didn't he come back with you?"
"No," Wesley said, speaking up.
"Is he...is he okay?"
"He...didn't...make it through the battle," Wesley said, taking a long time to get the words out.
"He's dead?" Kate asked, feeling a part of her heart break. Vampires were immortal. Angel wasn't supposed to die.
"I'm a afraid so," Wesley answered, looking at the floor in dismay.
"I don't understand," Kate said, sitting back down on the sofa.
"Me neither," Fred said, stifling a sob.
//sleepless nights and endless days//
Buffy woke up in the dark. It didn't occur to her to wonder what day it was or what time. She didn't know how long she had slept but she was sure it wasn't long. She rolled out of bed with a groan and contemplated a shower but decided to pass. Why ruin her running one week record?
The week before, when Angel died, she had come home and pulled out the overnight bag he had brought with him. She had looked through it closely finding his Spartan packing disappointing. She wanted more of him to be in the bag but all she found was a couple changes of clothes, his toiletries and a picture of her in an ornate silver frame. She changed into one of his black silk shirts and a pair of his black silk boxers before laying down on her bed and crying herself to sleep.
Now, a week later, she was still in his shirt and boxers, the shirt, like a dress over her tiny frame, fell to mid-thigh and the boxers couldn't even been seen. She shuffled through the house to the kitchen. She made a pot of coffee, sat down to listen to the crackle and pop of the brewing and thought about how it used to smell sweet in the mornings when her mom was still alive...when Angel was still alive...when she was still alive.
//so you're tired of waking up on empty, left with something that ain't real.//
She ignored the knock on the door and shut her ears to the hallow footsteps echoing through the hall. She knew it was Xander and Willow by the gait their footsteps and by their hushed bickering whispers. She knew the difference between their footsteps and the annoying gait of Spike, Riley and Dawn - all of whom had already had their turn in pestering her to "snap out of it."
"Buffy, when are you going to start answering the door again?" Xander asked, pouring himself a cup of coffee and plopping down in one of stools at the island.
"When I feel like seeing someone."
"Well, hey, I'm glad you haven't cleaned the house. I like the freeness here." He smiled weakly at Willow. *Help me.*
"Buffy, we think you should go to The Bronze with us tonight," Willow said, in a voice Buffy knew to be forced cheeriness.
"What do you guys want?" Buffy asked, her words coming out in a tired sigh.
"I want you to get up and take a shower, change your clothes and get on with your life," Willow said, wearing her determined face, cocking her head to catch Buffy's eyes but missed them.
//thought i'd found the words to say, just to get you feeling fine//
"You aren't dead. You realize that, right? I mean, you know you survived, right?" Xander said, standing up to pace and shaking the floor with each step. "Why don't you snap out of it? You haven't been out of this house in a week. You have friends and a sister and a life."
"Buffy," Willow said, "Angel died. You lived."
//his life seemed like forever//
"I think I might have died," Buffy whispered, looking down at the coffee cup shaking in her hands, "I think I died this time too." Coffee flavored tears left their hiding spot again.
Willow had come to comfort her friend, but Xander had been prepared to fight with her. He had expected a fight and was planning on forcing her to doing something, anything. He was expecting her to argue and yell but all her spit and fire was sucked into the walls.
Xander made his way around the island that separated them, pulled her into his arms and let her wash him, reduced to praying that something would happen. Almost as soon as they started, her tears dried up and he returned to his chair and went back to exchanging worried glances with Willow.
"Look Buff, I know you feel like your life has fallen apart, but-" Willow started.
"But what? Why don't you leave me alone?" Buffy said in a lusterless voice.
//your best friend always sticking up for you even when i know you're wrong//
Willow stepped back as if she had been struck and then dove back in the fray, "I want you to let me be your friend. Remember me? Your best friend?" *Tough love*, she reminded herself, the reason for their visit.
"You look like shit. Those clothes you took from Angel's bag have become a damn uniform. The whole world didn't die last week, you know," Xander exclaimed, jumping in, "You saved the world. Again. Vampires die. People die. It sucks, I know, but it happens. We want to help you."
"What, you want to help me by coming here and making me feel like shit? You have no idea what I feel or what I'm going through. I've lived with death all my life, but I can't tell you how many days it's been or how many nightmares I've had. You think you can just stroll in here and stomp around, make me take a shower and life will be better? Angel's gone. My mom's gone. I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I need to be alone." She stood up to get more coffee. She moved at least, which gave them hope, as did the fact that she yelled at them.
"Let us help you," Willow urged
"I love you both. You've always been great friends, but I have nothing to get up and shower for. I just want to be alone." She leaned against the dusty counter and her hands trembled as she took a drink.
"You don't even know if he's dead," Willow whispered, almost afraid to say it out loud, "No one saw him die. Spike can't even say for sure."
"I felt him go. I saw ashes."
"Ashes. Results were inconclusive. Maybe it wasn't Angel. He wasn't the only vampire there, you know," Xander said, trying to sound convincing but he mumbled into his mug.
"Oh, okay. I see. Maybe it was the vampire Pillsbury Dough Boy. Angel is dead, Xander. He's dead and it's my fault!" She didn't throw her cup but it broke when it landed and she was already half way up the stairs. Willow and Xander were hot on her heels. She plopped down on the floor by the window in her room, Angel's window, and heaved as tears erupted once more.
"It's time," Willow said, her hands on her hips, her red hair leaving ragged shadows on her face.
"Time for what?"
"Time for you to leave this damn house, ducks," Spike said, sweeping in the room as if on cue. He grabbed her arms and hefted her from the floor.
"Come on, you're leaving," he said pulling her towards the door.
//well she wants to live her life and she thinks about her life. pulls her hair back as she screams, 'i don't really want to live this life. no, no.'//
"The hell I am!" she pulled back but he just picked her up. She wiggled away and tried to sit back down, but he tossed her over his shoulder. She kicked and screamed down the flight of stairs and out the front door. Spike was sure that Buffy had broken every bone in his back and both shoulder blades by the time he dropped her on her ass in the front lawn.
"Why the hell are we out here?" She screamed, enraged, while standing up. She punched him squarely in the nose, watching with icy pleasure as his cold blood trickle from his right nostril. Willow and Xander stood on the porch and watched the show.
"You need to patrol. Come on, love," he said gently, trying to remain calm. *This is all Angel's damn fault.*
"I don't *need* to do anything," she said, turning back toward the house.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her back, falling hard to the ground when she swept his legs out from under him. Flipping back to his feet, he squared off with her. He hoped to bloody heavens, she would actually fight him.
*I hope the crazy bint doesn't kill me*, he thought as he prepared for the onslaught of blows he hoped was coming.
//lay all you want on me, lay all you want on me, i'll be your whipping boy//
The Slayer engaged and Spike almost sighed in relief, along with Xander and Willow, as she began to fight. Exchanging wounding kicks and punches, the vampire and slayer fought for the same thing - her life.
Spike let loose, holding nothing back, he gave her all of his emotion, all of his jealousy and anger. Jealousy towards Riley who had taken her away from him, jealousy towards his Grande Sire who had her love - love that he couldn't achieve himself even after the Poof's death - anger that she would give up so easily, anger that she would not love him no matter what he did. Spike put all of his love in each strike and swing. This woman made him insane with emotions that he never wanted to feel and at the same time couldn't wait to feel.
Buffy felt her anger spark up in the first punch. How dare Angel leave her here to finish this life alone? How dare her friends gang up on her? How dare Spike try to force her to patrol?
Each swing that followed began a battle march toward sanity and healing. She stopped at the sound of Willow's screaming and turned to face her friend, who was gesturing wildly toward Spike, who was broken and bleeding on the ground before her. Anger and sorrow pulsing through her veins, she pulled Spike up to a sitting position and threw herself in his bloody embrace.
"I'm so sorry," she said, sobbing once again and harder than before, letting all of her grief flow into him.
"It's okay, pet," Spike whispered into her hair, "Everything is going to be alright now."
//but if you leave, it's gonna get a little easier to break down//
Seeing Kate break down the way she did was a big surprise to the group. They didn't know that she felt that strongly about Angel. He seemed to touch everyone deeply. For a taciturn guy, he sure made a big statement with a lot of people. They watched as she ran out, none of them having the energy to go after her.
"I'll take you home," Gunn said to a barely mobile Cordelia. She nodded silently clutching his arm. He was sure that he didn't want her to drive.
Wesley looked at the tiny, broken Fred, sitting on the stairs, "Are you going to be okay here by yourself? Shall I stay awhile?"
She looked up at him with her eyes brimming with tears, "Please stay. I don't think I can be here alone without Angel here."
"Of course," he said sitting down next to her on the stairs and joining her in the exciting task of staring at the floor. She leaned against him and he drew her close, waiting for the nightmare to end.
//nothing is real, this is how i feel.//
"I turned on the shower, Buff," Xander announced with a smirk, "Go make peace with water."
Xander stood there with his arms crossed, waiting for her to comply. She stared back at him, unable to think of how to comply. Spike, still covered in his own blood, took her hand and gently urged her up the stairs. Willow and Xander looked up after them, unsure of whether it was a great idea to leave her in Spike's hands.
Finally turning away from the empty stairwell, Willow moved through the house, opening every window and let the fall air take over. Xander flipped on the CD player and looked through her CDs looking for something that wouldn't have a death reference. Finally, he found something remotely cheery and hit play.
//well, this is just between us//
Spike led her to the bathroom and closed the bathroom door slowly, trapping the steam in the small room. He turned to look into the dead eyes of his love. With shaky hands, he began unbuttoning the black silk shirt she wore, knowing full well that it was Angel's. The shirt was covered with the soil of over a week of wear, with grass and dirt from the front lawn and Spike's blood. He undressed her like a child, trying not to notice her beautiful naked body.
He reached out to feel the water's temperature and then turned to look at her. A quick glance confirmed his worst fear - she was not okay. She stifled another sob and the small action was not lost on him. She watched as he deftly shed his clothes and was struck again by how much warmth and goodness radiated from a beast with no soul.
//are you strong enough to toe the line? are you gonna make me yours?//
As he stood proudly naked before her, his pale skin smeared with blood, for a moment she couldn't breathe. Her glassy eyes shot to the floor but she recovered quickly as he wrapped his arms around her, lifting her up and set her firmly in the center of the hot spray. He joined her, standing there for a moment before reaching out for the shampoo and massaging it into her scalp. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of his strong hands washing her hair. She gave into it, as he leaned her back into the spray. She always loved the feel of the soapy water flipping over her body. She kept her eyes closed as he worked in the conditioner and opened them when she longer felt his hands on her.
//wonder if i'm lost or found but i need your hands on me now//
If she had been more alive, she might have been amused to find Spike staring at the multicolored shower puffs that hung from the shower rack, confused on which one he should use.
"The green one's mine," she said, breaking the silence. She sounded vulnerable. Her shattered voice made him feel ultimate power and equally jarring sadness. Gingerly unhooking the green one, he poured soap onto it and began washing her body, his movements no less than worship over her skin.
He felt himself begin to harden as he washed her and tried to ignore his arousal as he glided over every inch of her skin. He washed all of her, leaving her sex for last, uncertain if he would be able to do it without making love to her. He knelt before her, washing her gently and couldn't resist lingering near her female heat longer than was necessary.
Months he had gone without her. Months he had been forced to watch her reunited with the Solider Boy, unable to touch her. He let the shower puff drop to the floor as he caressed her with his soapy fingers, possessed with the feel of her, the tide coming to take him.
//wonder if you're lost or found, but i got my hands on you//
"I still love you," he whispered, rubbing her sensitive folds. The comment was unexpected and cut deeply, slicing into her soul with deadly precision. She was overtaken by her own pain and as per usual, had forgotten his feelings entirely. Spike was the one person, besides Angel, who had made her feel even close to alive again and she had thrown him away. Suddenly hot tears filled her eyes again and she could not see through her pain. She wanted so much to crumble and join the dust Angel had left behind. She wanted to beg Spike's forgiveness for hurting him, for being unable to love him. Instead, she just looked down at him, tears sliding down her cheeks.
He bent forward, touching his lips to her skin as he moved his fingers inside of her. He placed one hand on the small of her back, relishing the feel of her warm skin before he dipped in to taste her, listening to her cry of pleasure as he began to tease her sensitive clit.
"Spike," she whispered, almost choking on her tears, "please."
"What, love?" he asked arching a brow and looking at her, unsure if she was asking him to go on or stop. She reached down and pulled him up to her, pressing against his lips.
"Make me forget," she whispered again.
Pulling her roughly against him, he entered her, growling loudly as the pleasure set off inside him. He pressed her against the slippery shower wall and she wrapped her legs around his waist, urging him deeper inside her. Looking into her eyes, he made love to her with her soul mate's memory eating away at her insides.
As she was subsiding from her orgasm, Spike still moving inside her, the door opened.
"Buffy, are you ok-" Willow said, her jaw dropping as she saw Spike moving inside her friend through the glass shower door.
"Oh my God," Willow stammered and back out, slamming the door behind her.
//isn't that the payback for being indiscreet?//
Spike turned off the water and helped Buffy out of the shower, drying her glistening body slowly.
"Oh my God," she echoed Willow's words.
"It's alright, pet," Spike whispered, wrapping the towel around her and kissing her forehead.
"How am I going to explain this?"
Spike wanted to shout for joy. They weren't a secret anymore and Buffy's concern for her friend's feelings was a gigantic step toward the living. He, on the other hand, didn't care what the bloody Scoobies thought
"You don't have to explain anything," he said, his jaw set in determination.
He wrapped a matching towel around his waist and gathered his clothes from the floor. Taking her hand and hearing her deep breath, he opened the door and led her from the bathroom to her room. She breathed a sigh of relief that they weren't waiting in the hallway, ready to fire. She was shocked that Xander hadn't stormed in the bathroom after them.
She let Spike coddle her. She stared into his hard, muscled stomach as he brushed her hair and thought about how she was going get out of the inevitable confrontation with Willow and Xander.
*Damn*, she thought, not even realizing that she had finally begun to wake up.
//more forgiveness, more time away from feeling like you do today. more forgiveness, more time away from feeling this way//
"Rise lower being," the oracles said in unison.
"I thought you were dead," Angel said, pulling himself to his feet, looking into their golden faces "I thought *I* was dead."
"Nothing is permanent."
"What am I doing here?"
"We have decided to give you another chance at redemption."
"Why?" Angel asked, feeling his skin still burning from the fire that took him, almost smelling his own burning flesh, "Shouldn't I be in hell?"
"We have brought you back to save The Slayer."
"Is she going to die again?" Angel asked, his face streaked with desperation, "Last time you promised me her life, it was taken from her. I gave my life this time so that she would live."
"We know. We have brought you here to offer you a chance at saving her again and in the process, finding your own redemption. The Slayer has been broken by your death and no longer sees the reason for life. If she fails to fight for her life, the world will suffer great death and destruction."
"What do I have to do?"
"In exchange for helping The Slayer avert another apocalypse, we will anchor your soul and once the danger is past you will be able to resume your path to achieve Shanshu."
"Why anchor my soul?" He asked, immediately wishing he hadn't. He couldn't think of a greater gift than not only being given life, but freedom to make love to Buffy.
"Because, lower being, you are weak. If you must have direct involvement in the life of The Slayer, we cannot risk Angelus being brought forth once more. It would have an adverse effect in the overturning of evil."
"I'll do it," he said, feeling hope settle inside his burning body.
"We do not promise that you will survive the battle or that you will do what is necessary to achieve Shanshu. We only promise you the chance."
"I understand," he answered, waiting for them to return him to his love's side.
"Farewell," they answered and he found himself back in the High School, inches from the Hellmouth, surrounded by the bodies of those demons who had not survived the battle - the stench of two week's rotting death attacking his senses. He scrambled to his feet, feeling intense pain shooting through his body. He looked down and saw that his flesh was burned all over and he was covered in smoldering smoke. He winced as he began to walk and hurried to find Buffy.
//stay in this place//
Gunn guided Cordelia into her apartment and stood there with her, both of them unmoving for long minutes.
"You going to be okay?" He asked, looking into her eyes for a sign of peace.
"No," she answered truthfully.
"What can I do for you before I go?"
"You can stay," she answered.
"Okay," he said and stood where he was, unsure of what he should do next. All he knew was that he was about to spend the night in the apartment of one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Seemed wrong to put a move on her when Angel's ashes had barely settled.
She tugged his hand and he followed her into the bedroom.
//tell me, did you fall for a shooting star one without a permanent scar and did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there//
Willow called Devon first, sure that he would know where to find Oz. He gave her the number and as she dialed, her hands were shaking so badly that she wasn't sure she would get all of the digits in correctly.
When Tara left her, Willow wasn't sure what she wanted anymore. She loved Tara and felt like a part of her had been torn away. She wanted nothing more to beg her forgiveness, renounce magic forever and be with her love again. When Angel died, an icy fear filled Willow like she had never known. She spent several days thinking about how she would feel if Oz died, if she had to spend the rest of her life without him. Angel had been Buffy's soul mate. Willow knew it all along. The werewolf was Willow's. She knew that all along too. Somewhere inside her, she always knew.
"Hello," Oz's smooth voice flowed through the phone line.
"Oz?" Willow asked timidly.
"Willow," Oz said, his voice warm and cold at once.
"I..." she whispered, trying to form the right words in her mind. Oz waited, holding his breath through the long pause, "I need you," she whispered.
"On my way," he answered and hung up, saying nothing more. Willow listened to the dial tone for several minutes before hanging up the phone. He was coming.
//i stopped feeling good, somehow i just knew i would//
Everything had sharp edges. The night sky was clear and bright, each star having it's own spotlight and the moon was neon in its glow. The air was cold - cold for Sunnydale anyway- almost crisp. Buffy took a deep breath and almost felt...less broken.
She loved it when the air was so straight, it nearly crackled down her throat, the pointy ends of the wind making it necessary to break out Angel's leather jacket. She liked actually having an excuse to wear it.
The weather always effected her mood, as if the degree difference could sway her either way. She wished she could enjoy it as much as she used to, once. She closed her eyes against the grinning night air, strolling through the cemetery, remembering how she used to feel giddy with the arrival of Fall, cheered that it was not the typical, hot sunny day she had come to expect.
The cemetery wasn't creepy at all tonight. No fog hovering over the gravestones, no mysterious empty graves, no rumbling beneath the earth, no screams for help echoing off the pine trees. It was a perfect night. She was finally left alone. No Spike making her feel guilty for not loving him, no Riley begging her to come back, no Xander reprimanding her for sleeping with Spike, no Dawn begging her to be herself again, no Willow aching to be her confidante again.
//everybody needs a little time//
But beneath the tidy residential streets, beneath the neat California houses with their carefully manicured lawns, laid a nest of sewers, which besides being infested by rats and other sort of normal, everyday vermin, were infested with vampire crypts stacked ten high, looming around every corner.
Buffy hated the sewers - even before she had her heartbreaking sewer talk with Angel, she had hated them. They were a trap, a place where escapes were less likely, where screams were never heard and the walls absorbed the blood of the innocent like a giant starving coral reef.
She was forced to follow her first vampire of the night down there and she was not pleased. This was one of those nights when she actually had been enjoying her patrol and would have been thrilled to fight them all above ground, out in the open, where Mother Nature could shimmy and shake her groove thang, wild and free. She had been as close to happy as she had been since Angel died two weeks before. She was starting to get used to the damp, empty feeling that she couldn't sense him anymore.
//feels like i'm wasting my time, hanging on this same old line. got to get you off of my mind. there's nothing left for me to find.//
She headed down to the sewers to follow the vampire, wondering idly if was a trap. Angel would admonish her for going down there alone, where there was surely a nest of demons waiting to pounce. But Angel wasn't there. She forced her mind to think about the other vampires - the ones who weren't dead...yet.
She groaned as the rotting, pestilent smell of the sewers hit her. Why anything with a sense of smell would want to live down there, was beyond her. She understood the whole wanting to be out of the light and away from the yucky humans thing, but there was just too much muck down here for anything to be comfortable, even a creature of the night wouldn't want to kick off her shoes and cuddle.
The smell down in the sewers was even more intolerable tonight than the last time she'd paid them a visit and she wrinkled her nose at the smell as she began traveling through the twisting mazes to find the one that had gotten away. She was tempted to let him stay AWOL when she stumbled upon him...and twenty of his closest friends.
"Slayer," the leader snarled with the typical challenge in his voice.
"Vampire," she retorted with a snort. Probably should have brought Spike.
//i just opened up my eyes and let it world come climbing in. it's all better now. things are gonna work somehow//
Willow sat in the park, on a bench, looking up at the moon. It wasn't full tonight. She wondered if Oz still had control over the wolf, but realized that she didn't care. Not really. That part was really only important to Oz. It had been three days since she called him and he still hadn't come. She didn't know where he was. Devon just gave her a number. The only thing that she was sure of was that he wasn't in the United States. She thought about looking up the country code online to see where he had been but somehow it seemed like intrusion. She would rather hear him tell her.
He sat down next to her on the bench, sitting a foot from her. His body humming with the feel of her, uncertain why he was there.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey. I was wondering when you'd come."
"As soon as I could," he answered, "Why am I here?"
She slid across the bench and took his hand, "I'm sorry."
"The part where I let you go."
"Thank God," he said, pulling her into his arms and smoothing his hand over her hair. Finally. He thought he was going to wait his entire life and never love again.
//mother nature shakes - what then, what then?//
They swarmed around her, filling in each crack that could have been a possible escape. Buffy knew that she would not be able to take them all on at once. She wanted to protest, to beg them not to kill her, but something deep inside wanted it. She ached for the heaven she was cast from and with Angel no longer on the earth, what was the sense of staying? She was looking around the room, trying to decide her next move, when Angel's re-emergence to the world sank inside her soul.
"Angel," she gasped as she felt him and dropped to her knees, heaving for breath.
"Don't bother to rise," the leader intoned commandingly, as Buffy opened her eyes in extreme horror and slowly closed them again with the certainty of her fate. She was going to die and Angel was alive.
"You know," he said pausing for effect as he walked closer to her, "We thought you would put up more of a fight. Look at you trembling in fear! Is this The Slayer we have so long feared?"
He was bathed in the joyful shouts and cries of his fellow vampires. Today was his day of glory. They would kill The Slayer and after that, no one would question his leadership. He would be revered and praised for eternity!
Buffy jumped to her feet. She had to fight her way out. If she could just kill enough of them to escape, she would be able to find Angel. She felt exposed and vulnerable and couldn't believe that she had allowed herself to risk her life. She stood tensed and determined with her stake planted firmly in her hand, waiting for one or all of them to charge her.
The first group of vampires charged and she fought as they struggled to get a hold of her, growling and digging their feet into the sewer muck below. She kicked and punched them, knocking them away from her and managed to stake two before another charge came forth. A large vampire circled her, growling as he passed behind her. She spun to stake him but he grabbed her and pulled her in, his arms wrapped around her, pinning her with his amazing strength. His grip was like steel and his big chest rested heavily against her back. She kicked out at the vampires coming towards her, knocking a few of them away. She felt him lowering to her neck, ready to feed.
"Angel!" she screamed, the word sounding helpless, as she felt his fangs graze her neck. She struggled to get away more urgently than before but his grip was amazingly strong. She couldn't breathe as he crushed his arms around her. She braced herself for a moment, her mind racing for the solution as she felt him prepare to break into her skin.
The vampire disappeared around her in a pile of scattering ashes and she turned to face Angel. She gasped at his appearance as he stood swaying before her with a stake in his burned hand. The whole left side of his face was badly burned as were his hands and arms, torso and legs. His clothes were crisp tatters around him, the acrid smell of burning flesh permeated from him and his face was painted with love and anger.
//the rumor has it you've been looking for me//
"Angelus," the leader whined, "We heard that you were dead."
"I was," he growled, his burnt face revealing his demon. He pulled Buffy's hand into his as he backed down the sewers with her.
"Stop them!" the leader cried, pointing in vain to Buffy and Angel's retreating forms.
"But sire," one of the lesser vamps said, "Angelus *and* The Slayer?"
Buffy and Angel ran quickly down the sewer, the water splashing up on their feet and legs as they went. Finding the first exit, they climbed back to the open. They ran toward Buffy's house to escape the cadre of vampires trailing them.
//i don't know if i'm gonna have to redesign my mind. but tonight and i sure hope it comes true because it's been too long without you, it's been too long.//
They made it inside the door and slammed it shut. Buffy didn't look outside to see if they were coming, she turned to the vampire who held her hand and was struck dumb, fascinated by what she was seeing, unable to make herself believe he was really there.
Her body trembled at the force of her sobs as she pulled his large, burnt frame into her arms, her knees threatening to give way beneath her. He paused for a moment, feeling her tears land on his skin.
"I thought I had lost you forever," she muffled into his chest.
"You almost did," he whispered, "But I came back. I came back for you."
"I love you," she whispered, sobbing harder, allowing the time without him to pour out from her body.
//since then i've never felt helpless//
"Shhh...it's okay. I love you and I'm alive again," he whispered back. She was shaking so badly he wondered if she would collapse. The pain etched through his entire body and he wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to stand but couldn't force himself from her arms.
"Buffy," he whispered, wincing in pain from her tight clutch on his seared body, "I think I have to lay down."
"I'm sorry...I just," she trying stifle her sobs and turning to lead him to the stairs.
"It's okay, love. I'm just a little crispy right now," he answered with a crooked smile.
//there's a time that all we deserve to lose our minds, so i lost my mind. now i'm ready to find my way back home,
today, to stay. the way you wished i was.//
Buffy laid Angel on her bed and went to run a bath. He wasn't going to like it, but she had to wash his wounds while they were still fresh. Why were they still fresh, by the way?
She went back in her room and helped him up, ignoring his protests, as she led him to the bathroom. She undressed him much like Spike had undressed her the week before, in worship, in disbelief that it was really happening. His clothes were destroyed almost completely and he winced as she pulled the material away from his cindered skin.
In the tub, he reverted to his demon form from the pain. The water on his skin felt like acid. She gently began to wash him as he growled and apologized simultaneously. She brushed away his apologies, rinsing him clean with overwhelming happiness, barely able to see his naked body through her tears. She felt happy, warm and aroused.
Strange, that even while his body was covered in red, angry wounds that she would find him beautiful, but she did. He was the most beautiful thing that she had ever seen. He was alive - well, mostly, anyway and here where she could touch and see him. He smelled her arousal immediately and couldn't help his own involuntary arousal. He looked away in embarrassment as her hands washed his body and forced his face to return to human.
"I can do this," he said, wincing from her touch and moving it towards it at the same time.
"I don't mind," she said, flicking her eyes towards his arousal and then back to his face, "I want to help you."
"Thank you," he said quietly and felt his dead heart leap his chest as she leaned forward to kiss him. Starting out sweet and gentle, the kiss transformed itself into pure lust and desperation. Angel pulled her tiny form over the side of the tub and on top of him, ignoring the pain that shot through him from her contact with his wounds. He held her more tightly against him, crazed by the smell of her arousal and her weight against him.
"I'm probably hurting you," she whispered as he kissed her jaw line and delicate throat.
"I probably don't care," he whispered back, settling his sucking mouth on her scar.
"We shouldn't," she whispered again, feeling his arousal pressing insistently against her.
"My soul is anchored. Part of my gift," he said, reaching up to touch her breasts.
"How?" She asked, pulling away to look into his deep chocolate eyes.
"Want me to explain that now?" He asked, pinching her nipple lightly.
"Guess not," she said, smiling brightly at him and shifting to tug off her shirt. It landed on the floor with a loud, wet thop as did the rest of her clothes when she stood to remove them. Angel groaned in pain as he sat up to pull her hips towards him, kissing her sex as she stood over him. He thanked the Powers That Be in his head repeatedly as he focused on her.
Buffy felt her knees weaken with Angel's contact and after a few moments, lowered herself to his lap once more. Her skin was hot with illustrious heat as she placed her tiny hand around him and guided him in, positioning him inside her. As she slid down, she made contact with several of his burns and he reverted to his vampire visage while he hissed in pain.
"Sorry," she said weakly, "Maybe this isn't such a good idea." She hoped to the heavens he disagreed because she was sure she couldn't move off him while he was seated so perfectly inside her.
"No, it's still a great idea," he said, taking a couple unnecessary breaths to calm him, "Just hurts a little." His hands rested on her hips and he guided her as she began to move again.
"Sorry about the vampire thing," he whispered.
"Don't care about the vampire thing," she moaned as she moved slowly in the water with him, "I love all of you."
It hadn't occurred to her until then that he probably was starving and made a mental note to get him some blood later. That was the last coherent thought that floated into her head as his cold body moved against her, buoyed by the warm bath. Angel reached between them, making contact with her sensitive nub. He was so mesmerized by the scene before him, as her face twisted in passion, he forgot about his pain and concentrated on pleasing her. As she came, he thrust more deeply into her, completely absorbed by the feel of her muscles tightening around him.
She pressed her wet chest against his as he moaned in pleasure and pain. She kissed him deeply as she slid back and forth. Baring her throat without comment, she moved above him, waiting for him to break the skin. She was kept waiting for long moments while he entertained the thought of tasting her blood again. Starved, weak with pain and pleasure, he bit in as he released his cold seed inside her. Her blood was an elixir of life as it flowed down his throat and he felt her body shake with her climax once more as he drank her.
He licked her wound gently as he felt his begin to heal almost automatically. She stayed perched over him, loving the feel of him inside her and watched as his face shifted back to human. She splayed her hands over his chest, watching it partially heal before her eyes.
"Slayer blood," he said to her unasked question.
"Breakfast of Champions," she said with a grin.
Stepping out of the tub, Angel carefully dried his body, moving slowly over the parts of him that were still burned.
"I don't suppose you still have my bag," he asked her, wondering if he was going to have anything to wear.
"Yes," she said, wrapping her towel around her body, "But you aren't going to be needing your clothes for awhile."
"No?" he asked, feeling his arousal take over his exhausted body once more.
"No. Guess you're my prisoner until I decide to relinquish your clothes."
"That's upsetting," he said, pulling her into his arms.
Pressing her hips against his growing arousal, she smiled, "I can tell you're heartbroken."
"Oh yeah," he said huskily before capturing her lips with his.
//tell me, did you sail across the sun did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded and that heaven is overrated//
Cordy and Gunn had barely left her bed for days when Angel called. When it rang, Dennis brought it in. Cordy was used to his helpfulness but it still gave Gunn the creeps. He shook his head as the phone floated into the room and was placed in Cordy's hand.
"Weird," he said, "No offense, Dennis."
"Thanks Dennis," Cordy said, swatting Gunn's arm, "You'll hurt his feelings."
"Hello," she said into the phone.
"Hi Cordy," Angel said.
"Angel? Is that really you?" Cordy asked. Gunn's eyes widened in surprise and a wide grin spread over his handsome features.
"Yes," he said, his voice showing his smile.
"You asshole! We thought you were dead," Cordelia yelled into the phone, "Why didn't you call sooner?"
"Because I was dead."
"Oh," she said, holding Gunn's hand so tightly, he thought she might break his fingers, "Then how are you alive again?"
"Powers brought me back."
"I'm...I'm really glad."
"Me too. Can you spread the news? I'll check back in a couple of days. Buffy needs me here right now. There's some trouble brewing."
"I really missed you."
"Thanks, Cordy. I missed you too."
//this ain't about the things i've done, where i've been or what i've won. stand on your corner a thousand times. lose what i got, keep what i find. it's about you, it's about you.//
Spike stood at the doorway of Buffy's room and growled in anger, seeing her naked body wrapped up with some other man.
"Who the hell are you?" He snarled. Buffy and Angel awoke, startled, and both turned to look at Spike.
"Holy shit, Angel. You're alive," Spike said, taking a step back, feeling his heart sink to his feet.
"Yeah," Angel said, "I am now. What the hell are you doing storming into Buffy's room like that? She could have been naked...Well, actually, she is naked."
"Sorry, mate," Spike mumbled, turning to leave.
"Wait a second. You didn't answer my question," Angel said, looking over at Buffy who couldn't hide the alarmed look on her face. Spike stood there, not speaking, looking directly at Buffy. Angel followed Spike's gaze to his lover.
"Spike...I...I'm..." Buffy started, looking anxiously from Angel to Spike and back again.
"No, pet, it's alright. At least this time you're leaving me for someone you actually love," he said, unable to hide the pain on his face. He left the room, slamming the door hard enough the splinter the door frame.
"This time? Leaving him?" Angel asked, looking for her ashamed face, "Please tell me you didn't sleep with Spike."
"I can't," she said, looking in her love's eyes, "He saved me. Again and again. I needed him and he was there."
"Do you love him?" Angel asked, trying to overcome his anguish at the mental picture of Buffy in Spike's arms.
"No. I love you," she answered, tears swimming in her large hazel eyes.
"I don't know how to react to this."
"Don't," she whispered, laying her head against his chest, "It's over. We're together now."
Angel leaned against back against the pillows and held Buffy, trying to push the picture of her and Spike together from his head. *She doesn't love him. She loves me.*
//hey by the way, i fell to your wayside. did i crash or just slide?//
Spike stormed outside the room, outside the house and slammed his fist into the large oak tree in front of her house. The pain was cleansing and he hit it again, relishing in feel of the blood seeping out of the broken skin in his knuckles. This time he knew he had lost her forever and he beat his frustration out on the rough tree bark, chipping it away and his skin at the same time.
"What the hell are you doing?" Riley asked, standing in Buffy's walkway, staring at Spike.
"Sod off," Spike snapped at him and turned to walk away.
"Is something wrong with Buffy?" Riley asked, his handsome face covered with worry.
"No," he said and continued walking. He hoped Riley walked in on them too. He hoped Angel ripped the boy's insipid neck out. That would definitely brighten his day.
//now she's back from that soul vacation//
"Buffy, we need to talk about why I was brought back," Angel said, holding her against him, loving the feeling of warm breath caressing his chest.
"You did die, right?" She asked, sitting up to look at him, "I felt you leave."
"Yes, I died," he said, looking deep in her eyes, "I was dead...until the Oracles brought me back. They said...they said I was needed here."
"Why? What's going to happen?"
"They said that you had lost the will to live without me and that another apocalypse was coming. They said you would die unless I came back. So I did."
"Were you...in hell again?"
"I'm not sure. It was more like waiting. I think they held me until they had made their decision. How long was I gone?"
"14 days," she said, tears filling her eyes, "14 horrible days."
"What happened after I died, love? How does Spike fit in the picture?" he asked, holding her hand tightly.
She took a deep, shaky breath and looked into his intense gaze before she began her story. She loved the way he didn't judge her, the way he listened. He was almost impartial, as if his feelings didn't matter. He was just there for her. She took another deep breath, while he waited, patient.
She laid her head back on his chest as she finished telling him all that had happened since she died and he felt her tears land on his skin as he held her.
"I'm sorry," he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
"Promise me you won't leave me this time," she whispered, each breath striking his skin, each syllable beating the life from him, "I lost my mom. Giles left me. Please tell me you'll stay this time."
"I promise," he whispered, "I promise, love."
"Good," she said, sitting up again, "Cause I'm not putting up with anymore of this ‘leaving for your own good' bullshit. I've had about enough of that."
"I don't think you'd let me get away anyway," he said, smiling.
"Damn right." She slipped from bed and walked across the room to her closet and pulled his bag out, tossing it to him, "Then I temporarily relinquish your clothing."
"Temporarily, huh?" He said, staring at her naked form, standing before him, one hand on her slender hip.
"Yes, until such time that I decide I want the sexiest vampire in the world naked again."
Grinning, he stood and slipped into his black silk boxers, "I'll be happy to oblige milady."
"That's what I thought," she answered, turning to her dresser to get some clothes herself.
//they call me free, but i call me a fool//
Riley stood outside on the lawn for a long time, thinking about going in Buffy's house. He wasn't sure that he could handle another heartbreaking rejection. And what if something was really wrong? Why would Spike be so upset? There were lights on in the house and he was sure that Dawn was spending the night at her friend's house tonight. Buffy was in there. At home.
He continued to stand there thinking for quite some time until he saw another light flip on downstairs. He took a deep breath and went up to the porch. He didn't bother to knock. If Dawn wasn't home, she probably wouldn't answer the door. She hadn't in over two weeks.
//she doesn't care a thing about that, hey, she thinks i'm beautiful//
Angel stepped into his pants as he watched Buffy pull a pair of thong panties from her drawer. He looked on with incredible lust as she slipped them on. She turned, braless and smiled at his stare.
"You're looking at me like you haven't seen me naked before," she said, swinging her hips generously as she headed over to her closet.
"I haven't seen anything as beautiful as you before," he said hoarsely as he continued to watch her like a man possessed.
She put on her sexiest sundress - a shimmery red dress that cut low and showed off more cleavage than she usually allowed. He gulped for unnecessary air, as he watched her. She smiled as she crossed the room and slid her arms around him, pressing herself against his arousal.
"If you don't stop getting all hot and bothered, you're going to starve to death," she said, nibbling on his lips.
"Your fault," he said, kissing her back.
"Come on, baby," she said, pulling him towards the door. He scooped up his shirt, following her down the stairs to the kitchen. She opened the fridge and pulled out a plastic container of blood.
"Bingo," she said, handing it to him with a smile, trying not to think about how it belonged to Spike, "I was hoping we wouldn't have to go out for refreshments tonight."
"Thanks," he said with a wink, also trying not to think about how it belonged to Spike and that he spent so much time with Buffy that he kept blood in her fridge, "I was hoping we wouldn't have to leave either."
She watched him lift the plastic lid and look at her with embarrassment. He was starving but he didn't want to drink in front of her. The few swallows he had of her blood earlier left him with a greater bloodlust than he had before.
"‘s okay, honey," she said, hopping onto the counter, "You don't have to be embarrassed. I know what you are." She touched her neck and smiled at him.
He felt his face change as he began to drink. Even though he had drank her blood twice, this was the first time had drank blood in front of her and he reddened with embarrassment, turning his back to her. He tossed the empty container in her trash can and changed back to his human face.
"Don't know why you make it such a big deal," she said, smiling at his shyness, "Do you think I haven't figured it out yet? I do know you're a vampire, you know."
He walked over and stood between her legs, against the counter, wrapping his arms around her, while she wrapped her legs around him. "I'm not proud that I'm a vampire, Buffy. There isn't anything attractive about drinking blood," he said, touching her scar, "Okay, there is for me, but not for you."
"How do you know?" She said coyly, leaning to bite on his neck, "Did you feel how hard I came when you were feeding off me?"
He hardened at the memory of her orgasm around him as her blood flowed into his mouth.
"Y-yes, I remember," he said, pressing against her and sucking on her neck, "God, I love you."
"Mmm," she moaned as he bit at her neck with his blunt teeth and then pulled back to capture her lips, "I love you too, Angel."
"Probably should round up the Scoobies to see if we can predict anything about the newest apocalypse," he said against her lips. She groaned in annoyance, "Always business as usual? Can't we wait one day? I'm sure the newest big bad is planning on waiting until tomorrow." She reached between them and caressed his arousal.
"Well, if you're absolutely sure," he mumbled as he kissed the rise of her breast.
"Oh, I'm sure," she whispered, running her fingers through his hair.
"What the hell?" Buffy looked up to meet with Riley's angry glare, letting her legs drop from Angel's waist. Angel turned around to look into the eyes of Buffy's ex.
"Angel," Riley stammered, "I thought you were dead."
"I was," he said, leaning back against the counter and crossing his arms over his burned shirtless chest, his hips still resting between Buffy's legs.
"Okay," Riley said, unsure if he should be heartbroken or happy, since he knew he wasn't going to get her back either way, "Obviously I missed something."
"I died. Powers brought me back," Angel answered simply.
"Why?" Riley asked, feeling overcome with jealousy. They were certainly back together and by the look of them, had already had sex. He could feel the anger rising in his belly. *What about the damn curse?*
"To save me," Buffy answered, speaking to him for the first time.
"Myself," she answered almost whispering, caressing Angel's back, "And the upcoming apocalypse."
"Again?" Riley said, exasperated.
"Yep," Angel and Buffy answered simultaneously.
"Great," he said, running a hand through his hair, "Don't meant to pry here, but -"
"Then don't," Angel said, resting a hand defensively on Buffy's thigh. He knew it was over, but couldn't keep himself from being jealous and protective.
"What about the curse? Should I be worried that your better half is going to be partnering up with the newest trouble in town?"
"Not that it's your business, but my soul is anchored."
"And it's not," Buffy added, shooting icebergs at him from over Angel's shoulder.
"Fine," Riley said, turning on his heel.
"See ya," Angel called out at his retreating form with a winner's smile across his face.
"Whatever," Riley answered as he slammed the door behind him.
"Well," Angel said, turning back to her, "Should we be expecting everyone to be that happy that I'm alive again? I don't think your doors can take all this slamming."
"Who cares?" Buffy said, kissing him, "I'd rather have you to myself anyway."
"My sentiments exactly," he said, weaving his hand in her silky hair.
//your smile is changing//
The next night the Scooby gang assembled at Buffy's to be filled in on Angel's return to the land of the living dead and the upcoming End of Days Part II. Dawn saw him first, coming home from school and nearly knocked him over when she rushed into his arms.
"Angel!" she squealed, hugging him tight in her tiny teenaged arms, "You're alive!"
He smiled and rested his chin on top of her redhead, "Yep, kiddo. I'm back."
"I'm so glad," she said quietly, still clinging to him. Dawn had always seen Angel as her big brother and the guy that she was sure that Buffy should be with. She never liked any of the other guys Buffy dated. She adored Spike, but she wasn't quite sure if he and Buffy actually were together or not. She suspected that they were for awhile, but couldn't prove it. She thought it was kinda amusing that considering her sister was The Slayer, she had more than one vampire fall in love with her.
"Me too, little one, me too."
"Okay," Buffy said, walking into the room, "Hands off my man."
Dawn turned and ran, pulling Buffy in a hug too. Dawn clung to her sister and they both knew that Angel's living meant so much more than anyone knew. The truest part of their family had been returned.
Xander strolled in with Anya on his arm an hour later, while Buffy and Angel were curled up on the couch snuggling and chatting with Dawn.
"Okay, what's all the ruckus all about?" Xander said, and seeing Angel, he stopped and his jaw dropped before saying, "Holy shit, you're alive."
"I seem to be getting that reaction a lot lately," Angel said, smiling.
"I hate to admit it, but I think I'm glad to see ya," Xander said.
"I won't hold it over your head later," Angel replied.
"Appreciate it, man. I might even stop calling you ‘Dead boy' now."
"That would be nice."
"Hello Angel. I'm glad that you aren't dead anymore. Wait, but you are dead," Anya said, her burrow furrowed in thought, "I'm glad that you are undead again...or whatever."
"Um, thanks, I think."
//i don't know why treated you so cold. wish i had those times again. something that you said keeps ringing in my head. someday you're gonna wanna come back and you're gonna wanna treat me fine.//
Angel strolled in Spike's crypt, finding it easily from Buffy's directions. He found Spike wallowing in self pity and whiskey.
"Get the hell out," Spike said, from his corner in the dark. Vampiric eyesight allowed Angel to see him clearly and he strolled over, leaning against the stone wall a few feet from his Grande Childe.
"I need to talk to you," Angel said calmly.
"You got ‘er," Spike said between swigs, "What else do you want from me?"
"I wanted to thank you," Angel said, pausing to let it sink it, "For taking care of her. I hate the idea of your sleeping with her, but I'm glad you were there when she needed you and I appreciate it."
"Go to bloody hell. I don't want your appreciation, mate."
"I'm sorry, Spike."
"What that she loves you, ya big Poof? That she always loved you? You'll never know what it's like to be the runner up to the woman you love. Now, sod off."
//for you, for you, for you//
"She needs your help again," Angel said, quietly, "I need your help."
"Jesus, you people just keep it coming, don't you? Maybe I don't want to help you! *I'm fucking evil.* Why does everyone forget that?"
"I know you love her, Spike. We have an apocalypse problem and I need you to help."
"Fuck you, mate."
"Think about it," Angel turning to leave, "But think fast, I'm heading to LA tonight and I need a hand with a little crime before the big day."
"When is the big damn day?" Spike asked, taking a swig angrily, "Not that I care."
"Three days," Angel answered over his shoulder as he walked out of the door. Spike threw his bottle across the room, watching it explode against the wall.
*That stupid bitch,* he thought angrily, rising to find his coat, *I hope she dies. Not that I will let it happen, damn it.*
//well, here she is again//
"Hi, Riley," Buffy said, standing in the doorway of his room, feeling like an interloper, not daring to cross the threshold.
"Why are you here?"
"I need your help," she said, cursing Angel for making her ask him for his help.
"What? You don't think your precious Angel will be able to help you?"
"Look, we have a huge problem. A group of ambitious vamps are going to try to open the Hellmouth in three days. I need everyone on board here."
"I'm not sure I can be around you right now, Buffy," he answered truthfully, feeling guilty for his comment immediately.
"I understand, Riley," she said, her eyes digging into his heart, "Think about it, okay?"
"Yeah," he answered to her back as she walked away. He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He had to help her and he knew that every second would be hell.
//just come back to me and i am not alone//
"You're coming right back, right?" Buffy asked, concern covering her face.
"Yes, I promise. Tomorrow night at the latest, but hopefully tonight," Angel answered.
"Why can't I come along? You might need me."
"Committing crime here. I don't want you to be a part of it. You're needed here to get things ready while we're gone."
"So you think that Spike will go?"
"Yeah, he will," Angel answered.
"You're sure? I'm not sure I feel comfortable about this anyway, but I definitely don't like the idea of you going alone," Buffy said, her voice quivering with worry.
"No worries, pet," Spike said, leaning against the doorway, nearly sober, "I won't let anything happen to the Poof."
//cradled by the hands of faith, the faith that sometimes wraps around too tight//
The prison was dark and all the cell mates were silent, except for the occasional snore or murmur in their sleep. Angel nodded at Spike. They both put on game faces and together they silently scaled the tall wall of the building, hopping onto the roof. They ran along, finding the entrance exactly where Willow's computer files said it would be. Heartbeats later, they had breached the prison and had found the cell.
On the count of three, Angel and Spike pulled on the bars together, ripping it from it's hinges. The alarms went off as the door came off and the inmates all sat up in bed.
"What are you doing?" Faith asked, her face covered with shock.
"Breaking you out," Angel answered, "Come on."
"But Angel," Faith said, feeling uneasy.
"You're needed. It's important. Come on," he said, holding out his hand. She grabbed his hand and ran out with the vampires, helping them take out the guards.
They made it out to the car and Angel drove dangerously fast back to the hotel. Spike looked over the body of the other Slayer. *Damn,* he thought, *are all Slayers that bloody beautiful?* He looked away quickly, trying not to show her that he was already attracted. But Faith knew men and she knew vampires and she knew that Spike wanted her, even as unattractive as she felt in her prison garb. Yep, she still had it. She slid down in her seat and smiled. If she was going to spend the rest of her life in prison anyway, she might as well have a little fun while she was out.
//reminds me that there's room to grow//
The whole group assembled at Buffy's the next night: Buffy, Angel, Dawn, Willow, Oz, Riley, Spike, Anya, Xander, Wesley, Gunn, Faith and Cordelia.
Buffy felt strange taking on this campaign without Giles there. She felt like a large piece of her was missing without him. She seemed to be having that feeling a lot lately. She took a deep breath and holding Angel's hand, she began explaining everyone's role in the mission. Tonight would be recon, tomorrow would be the actual battle.
"I want to thank you all for coming tonight," Buffy said, after taking a deep breath, "I know most of you have taken risks to be here." Buffy directed her eyes at Faith and looked at her kindly - feeling good about her presence for the first time in a very long time. She let her eyes fall on Riley and Spike, both of which sacrificed quite a bit of pride to help.
Seemed like everyone was paired off except for Spike, Riley and Faith. Wesley and Fred seemed kinda cuddly as did Cordy and Gunn. Spike was sneaking glances at Faith's scantily clad body and she felt a slight twinge of jealousy. Riley looked depressed but he was there, ready to help.
Buffy took a deep breath before launching into her plan. Angel stood by her side and she glowed from his support and strength. No one missed it. Even Riley was forced to admit the horrible truth. They were meant to be together.
//she's on fire, she's on fire//
Buffy and Angel walked upstairs after everyone had been put in a place to sleep for the night. Buffy smiled at the couples and wondered how many of them were going to try and have silent sex in a house overflowing with people. Angel closed the door silently behind him and leaned against it, watching Buffy's graceful form move across the room. She walked to the window and he watched her outlined by the moonlight, thinking of the first night he was in this room, seeing her in the this same light.
He crossed the distance and pulled in her into his arms, pressing her against the cool glass of the window. He had only been alive for a few days and had finally been allowed to make love to her again. He knew he would be insatiable for her but had no idea to this extent. He felt like he was aroused 24 hours a day, dreaming of her naked body, undressing her with his eyes. He hadn't been this horny when he was eighteen.
He growled against her lips when he smelled her arousal. He undressed her quickly and threw off his own clothes, lifting her legs up and around him, he entered her, standing there at the window. Her eyes closed and he listened to her moans as he moved inside of her, letting her cries wash over him at being so taken. As he pressed slowly into her, she was shivering and whispering his name.
He pivoted, holding her to him and took her to bed.
"My love," he whispered as she bared her throat for him. Sinking in, he sipped at her life's blood, letting the sensations of her, the taste and feel of her bath him in goodness and light. She was unlike any other lover he had ever known. He had no doubt why Riley and Spike were in love with her and why he would never let her go.
In the aftermath of sex, Angel kissed slow trails down her neck, licking her wound and was making his way to her perfect breasts when she whispered, "We're going to make it this time, right? Both of us? Did the Powers tell you that we would live if they brought you back?"
"The Powers never say anything that makes sense," he whispered between kisses, inching down her tight stomach, "But we will. I plan on spending the rest of your life pleasing you."
"My life? What about Shanshu?"
"They said there's still a chance for Shanshu," he answered, kissing her inner thighs.
"I want you to have it," she said, "You deserve it. Maybe you shouldn't risk yourself with me tomorrow night. What if you die again? I don't think I could make it."
"They brought me back so I could help you, love, not so I could sit around and be safe. Don't worry. I have a rule. I don't die more than once in the same month, okay? I'll be careful and so will you. We all will. We'll beat this and live."
With that, he dipped inside her dripping folds, to taste the perfection that waited there for him.
//it's time that will tell this tale//
Night fell and the group assembled at Buffy's. A quick check over supplies and the game plan and they hiked over to the High School. Willow, Anya, Fred and Oz gathered on the east side and set up the barrier spell. Whatever happened, nothing was leaving the school grounds as long as the spell held.
The rest of the team went inside, splitting up in teams, armed with weapons - Angel & Buffy, Spike & Faith, Gunn & Cordy, Wesley and Riley made up the teams - using the buddy system for once. Riley & Wes stood in the front, Cordy & Gunn at the back, watching for fleeing demons, with the intention of taking them out before they reached the magickal barrier, just in case it didn't hold.
Angel, Buffy, Faith and Spike crept to the Hellmouth and looked over the swarm of vampires that stood near the place where hell was about to break loose.
"Tonight is the Convergence," shouted the lead vampire that tried to kill Buffy a few nights before. Now she knew why he was trying to take her out early - so she couldn't stop this. Their numbers had increased to the point that the area was overflowing with the undead. Convergence indeed, "Tonight the Hellmouth will be opened! The gateway will open and hell will reign on earth once more!"
Buffy turned to Faith, Angel and Spike, "Okay, first we'll take out as many vamps as possible. We need to find out which one is the sacrifice and dust him before he jumps in. Take out the leader if you can. I'm going to get the amulet on the altar. They can't complete the ritual without it. You guys cover me with the crossbows."
Angel started to protest as she stood to leave, "Buffy, I still don't think this is a good idea."
"Angel, I have to do this. You'll be protecting me. I'll be okay." She turned and ran before he could stop her. He felt a cold feeling blanket him as he watched her go.
"She'll be alright, mate," Spike said, nodding at the retreating blonde, "We've got her back."
Angel nodded and waited for her to reemerge below. She appeared, running silently behind the horde of vampires. He watched with a smile as she plunged her stake in half a dozen of them as she ran past, causing a wave of outrage to start in the group. Spike, Angel and Faith raised their crossbows and began firing, taking out the undead one by one.
"Kill her!" The leader shouted, causing the group to turn on The Slayer as he began the ritual, hurriedly.
Faith and Spike fired at will while Angel watched Buffy intently, dusting any vampire that touched her; reloading quickly and firing with dead on accuracy. He watched her skillfully take a large number of them out, moving in between their cold bodies, leaving a fire wall of heat and ashes behind her.
She reached the table and almost had her hand on the amulet when a vampire struck her, knocking her to the ground. Angel panicked when he could no longer see her through the congregation.
"Take out the leader," Angel growled before jumping down into the melee.
Spike centered his attention on the place where he thought Buffy was, taking out the vampires there. He couldn't see her, but he did see the ruckus that signaled that she was still alive.
Buffy's head slammed against the broken stone floor and felt blood trickle from the wound. Kicking out, she knocked the vampire over her away but more were coming. She struggled to get to her feet, but the army of vampires kept coming just as quickly as they were taken out. Their numbers were down to less than 30 but that was about 20 too many for one Slayer to take out alone.
"Buffy!" Angel screamed as he whipped around punching, kicking and staking.
"Angel!" She screamed back as her head slammed against a broken rock. Spike's arrow soared through the chest of the vampire shadowing over her. His dust landed on top of her and she rolled over, crawling toward the table, her blood leaving a trail after her.
She heard the roars of the vampires around her dying but they still were against her, pulling at her, trying to sink their teeth in. She kicked and fought, reaching up to the table. Clasping the amulet, hands fell on her ankles, dragging her back down.
She crushed the metal in her hand, trying to destroy it but managing to cut herself and only bend it in the process. She kicked back at the fiend holding her legs, sending him flying back into other bodies. She slammed the amulet into the floor, breaking the center jewel, as Faith's arrow struck the leader, sending his dust fluttering into the Hellmouth.
Vampires were coming at the other two teams in a steady pace. They were so plentiful, Wesley, Riley, Cordelia and Gunn were almost convinced that they were materializing from the very walls. Cordy was thankful that Buffy insisted everyone carry a crossbow - otherwise there would a serious human casualty rate by now.
Buffy was dizzy from the loss of blood but she kept fighting, each vampire taking her a step closer to abyss that was threatening to take her.
*Just a few more,* she thought, clawing at her consciousness to hold on, *just a few more. They can't open the Hellmouth now.*
She knew that Angel was fighting on the other side and that Faith and Spike were still taking them out a steady rate. Buffy's vision was blurred and she wasn't sure how many were left now.
She kicked the vampire in front of her as hard as she could knocking him back and twisted to sink her stake in the one at her right. A flying kick landed in the hand of the vampire in front of her. Grabbing her leg, he slammed her to the ground and she succumbed to the darkness.
//when i get this feeling, it's hard for me to come back down, when i get this feeling, it's hard for me to come back down//
Angel screamed her name as he saw her fall again and furiously beat his way to her.
Spike's itchy trigger finger was popping off any vamp that neared his love.
"Die, you bloody bastards," he growled as he took their immortal lives with a greater distaste in his mouth for his kind that he had ever felt.
Faith's face was glowing with the battle as she shot at the them overhead. How had she stayed in jail so long and missed this? There was no way she was going back.
Minutes after she fell, Angel made it to her side, lifting her into his arms and roaring at the few vampires left in his path. By the time he made it to the door, Spike and Faith had taken each and every one of them out.
//tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day//
The weary team made their way back to Buffy's house, nearly stumbling with tiredness. Angel walked slowly with Buffy in his arms, listening to her heart beat - her strong heartbeat.
At the house, Dawn rushed over to inspect her sister as Angel laid her on the couch. Spike hovered, as did Riley, waiting for her to come back to consciousness. Long minutes were suffered as they waited.
Angel knelt at her side and tried to rouse her, shaking her gently and repeating her name, "Buffy, wake up, love. Buffy, please wake up." She opened her eyes and looked into Angel's distraught face.
"Did we win?" She asked sleepily.
"Damn right," Spike growled, trying to hide his relief.
"Good," she said, squeezing Angel's hand and closing her eyes again.
"Buffy, stay awake," he said, pulling her to a sitting position, "You might have a concussion."
"Kay," she said, leaning against him and closing her eyes again. He smiled at her stubbornness and pulled her to her feet. He would just have to figure out a more exciting way to keep her awake.
//if I knew better, i wouldn't change a thing.//
//ain't that beautiful//