JONATHAN- You think I just want attention?
BUFFY- No, I think you’re just up in the clock tower with a high powered riffle cause you want to blend in. Believe it or not, Jonathan, I understand about the pain.
JONATHAN- Oh. Right. The burden of being athletic and beautiful. That’s a crippler.
BUFFY- You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life, on occasion, sucks beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it’s not just me. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own. Beautiful ones, popular ones, the guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quite down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.
The young woman crept quietly through the cemetery, her entire mind focused on tracking down the Vogarth demon. It was easier this way. She just let herself slip into Slayer mode and the rest of the world melted away. Being a Slayer was neat, tidy, manageable. It was all about instincts and the struggle between life and death. It was clean and simple. If you did your job right, you lived to fight another day. If you didn’t ...
Being Buffy Summers, college freshman, on the other hand, wasn’t neat. It was messy and painful. Being Buffy Summers often led her to wonder how she could experience so much pain without crumbling to dust like the creatures she hunted at night. Her life was in chaos. Her world was turned upside down and she had no way to set it to rights. She wasn’t even sure if that was what she really wanted anymore, and perhaps that was the scariest part of all.
She didn’t want to be Buffy Summers. Not any more. She didn’t have any desire to see that part of her life continue. So she merely closed down that section of her brain and allowed herself to be the finely tuned predator that nature had decided she should be. She was a hunter, one of the most efficient to ever prowl the streets of Sunnydale.
However, the creature shadowing her this eve had decade upon decade of experience that she lacked. Unbeknownst to her, she was being observed. He noted that while she possessed her usual, inherent grace, that her technique was sloppy. She wasn’t thinking about her actions, she was simply reacting or in some cases, not reacting. She’d been running off the adrenalin high that accompanied the kill for too long. She was being reckless, taking unnecessary chances. She was intentionally placing herself in harm’s way.
He’d watched her for several nights as she had scouted Sunny Rest Cemetery. It was obvious that she was aware that she was stumbling into an inordinately large nest of vampires. Yet, she did not slow as she rounded a large mausoleum. He watched in the shadows as she walked knowingly into their trap.
Vamps seemed to materialize directly from the shadows and Buffy smiled. Pulling a second stake from her waistband, she raised both wood filled fists towards her foes. They closed in on her at once, like a pack of hungry jackals. Buffy may have orchestrated her own death, but she had no intention of going down without a fight. They were going to have to earn their victory.
She managed to take out almost half of them before she was dragged to the ground by what remained of the nest. She struggled ineffectually against the multitude of hands, but suddenly, the vice like grips released her as the nest collectively turned towards some creature she couldn’t see. An ear shattering roar split the air around her and Buffy watched as the nest cowered. She felt nausea rising in her, but not from the fear of bodily harm that held the nest paralyzed.
How had she not noticed his presence? How had she let him catch her doing this?
Maybe she could still play it off. Springing to her feet, she managed to take out three vamps before they caught on to what she was doing, snapped out of their little spell, and fought back. Sometime during the skirmish, Buffy became aware of the fact that she wasn’t fighting alone. That realization did not make her feel any better.
When the dust finally cleared, Buffy stood stock still, blindly staring at the ground as she struggled to catch her breath. She didn’t turn around because she knew what she would see when she did. She laughed wryly to herself, the sound slightly hysterical in the still night air. His conscience would allow him to leave her to die a slow death from a broken heart, but letting her fall in battle, with the dignity of a warrior, was something he couldn’t do.
“What’s so goddamn funny?” he demanded, his enunciation muddied by his mouthful of fangs.
Slowly, she turned to face him. The look of rage on Angel’s face did nothing to soothe her roiling emotions. “What are you doing here?” she asked, her voice sounding dead in her own ears.
“Saving your ass,” he bit out, shaking with the desire to wring her neck.
Buffy’s expression turned cold. She’d been starved for his presence for months. She hadn’t heard anything out of him since he disappeared after graduation. For all she knew, he could have been dead. All of her months of frustration, of dealing with her sense of abandonment and betrayal came rushing to the fore. “For your information, I don’t need you to save my ass,” she replied coldly. “I’m the Slayer.”
The Slayer, however, found herself taking an involuntary step backwards as an expression of barely contained fury lit the dark vampire’s features. She was fairly certain the only time she’d seen that look on his face was when Angelus was in control. Angel didn’t speak for a long time, fighting for control, his vision locked on her. When he finally opened his mouth, he was more composed, but still a long way from calm. “What the hell do you think you were doing tonight?” he raged.
Buffy’s expression became contrite as she considered the question. The answer was obvious; she was doing her job. She was fighting vampires. But that was not what he had meant. She was out courting death and he seemed to be well aware of that fact. Hadn’t they been through all this before, only a year earlier? But the roles were reversed that cold December night. She gave him endless lectures on his weakness, on how selfish it was of him to give up. Yet, somehow in the last few months, she came to understand the allure behind being the one to leave. “I don’t know,” she said lamely, avoiding the unsaid accusations in his eyes.
“You. Don’t. Know.” he parroted incredulously, his disdain palpable.
Her head snapped up and she met his hard glare. Her lips formed a tight line as her anger rose to match his own. “I don’t owe you any answers,” she said, her voice deathly calm. “You walked away. I’m not your concern any more.” She turned quickly, walking away from him, feeling dead inside.
Angel stared after her retreating form, shocked into silence for several moments. As he watched her leave, something inside of him snapped. All of the terror he’d felt when he’d seen her attacked, transmuted to white hot rage in an instant. Storming after her, he yelled, “I’m not done with you!”
Stopping several yards ahead of him and turning, Buffy’s expression conveyed the righteous anger building inside of her. “That’s just too damn bad,” she retorted with a snort.
Angel regarded her in absolute disbelief. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. She was supposed to cower and shake and promise never to do anything so stupid again ... She was supposed to take the gift he’d given her, the gift of freedom, of the chance for a normal life. Didn’t she understand just how much of his own happiness he was sacrificing for her benefit? As he looked at her defiant expression, he saw her absolute lack of understanding behind his motives.
All Buffy knew was that he abandoned her.
Angel felt some of his anger recede. He caused her so much pain. It was evident from her posture how much agony she was in. Her normally straight spine was bent, her shoulders slightly hunched, like she was fighting the urge to curl into a little ball and weep. She was still so young, so innocent, so beautiful. Angel’s eyes raked over her form and he felt his body involuntarily tighten in response. But she wasn’t his anymore. “You could have been hurt,” he said quietly, noting that his voice had taken on an oddly hoarse undertone.
Buffy relaxed somewhat at his quietly voiced rebuke. “I’m fine,” she stated evenly.
Making a strangled noise, Angel gritted his teeth. Didn’t she have any understanding of the anguish she was causing him by putting herself in needless danger? "You’re fine because I was watching your back,” he bit out.
The Slayer narrowed her eyes and squared her jaw. All thoughts of a truce dissolved as she faced her former lover. “I don’t need you to drag me out of the fire,” she said, almost spitting in her vehemence. “I’m perfectly capable of covering my own ass. I’ve been doing just fine without you.”
It was a lie and they both knew it. With a growl, Angel stalked towards her, quickly closing the distance between them. “Do you know what would have happened if I hadn’t shown up?” he hissed. “Do you truly have any idea what those vamps would have done to you?”
Fixing him with a thoroughly condescending glance, Buffy replied, “Of course I know what they would have done.”
“Really?” he barked in growing rage.
Buffy startled slightly at his temper, but did her best to hide her reaction. She wasn’t going to let him intimidate her. And she wasn’t going to pretend, not any more. “Yes,” she explained easily, “they would have bitten me. They would have held me down and ripped out my throat while they glutted on my blood. A few of the more daring ones might have tried to fuck me before the body got cold.”
He blinked in shock at her callousness. Before she knew what was happening, Buffy found herself clasped firmly around the upper arms and hoisted off the ground until she was eye level with one very pissed off vamp. “Do you think this is a game?” Angel rasped through a mouth of fangs.
Buffy met his gaze without blinking. “I’m not scared of dying,” she said very quietly.
He stared into her eyes, terrified at the truth of her words he found reflected there. He would not accept that. She couldn’t be ready to die. He shook her once, violently, her body flopping bonelessly, like a rag doll. “You should be afraid,” he countered hoarsely.
The time they had spent apart had been hell on both of them. Even Angelus had been unable to stay away from the Slayer for as long as Angel had recently. Buffy’s bottom lip quivered and she blinked back tears as he held her, his fingers biting painfully into the flesh of her arms. “I’m not afraid,” she replied, her voice even softer than before.
Angel looked at her, fighting the overpowering urge to wrap his arms around her and comfort her. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her and hold her and tell her that he would stay with her always.
It was as if she could read his mind, see all of the urges he refused to act upon. It seemed to defeat her just a little more, to know that he wanted her but that he wouldn’t allow them to be together. She was tired, like she’d never been in her entire life. She just wanted to rest. She looked at him with huge eyes, welling with tears. She cocked her head to the side, baring the vulnerable column of her neck. “Please,” she said quietly, looking deeply into his still yellow eyes.
He stared at her, unmoving for a long moment, knowing she was speaking, not to him, but to the demon that resided deep within him. Her gaze never faltered from his own, but she somehow seemed weaker, needier than he’d ever seen her. Abruptly, Angel broke the spell that held them both transfixed. “You have no idea what you’re asking,” he said, releasing her quickly, and giving her a rough push away.
“Maybe you’re the one who’s afraid,” she stated slowly, stumbling to regain her footing as she fought the urge to burst into tears. “I do know what I want, and you just can’t deal with it.”
Angel was terrified by the raw truth of her words. “What do you think it will be like, Buffy?” he spat, closing in on her again and forcing her to backpedal, lest he run right over her. “Do you think you can just summon death at will? Do you think you can just decide you’re done with your destiny and that’s that? You’re a Slayer and even if you wanted to die, you wouldn’t be able to just give yourself up to a vamp. It’s part of what you are. You would react whether you wanted to or not.”
Buffy’s retreat was halted abruptly when her back collided with one of the many marble mausoleums that decorated Sunnydale’s cemeteries. Angel halted his advance, his face only inches from hers, fangs still to the fore.
“Then try me,” she goaded recklessly. “You say I couldn’t accept death, I don’t believe you. I should have died that night at the mansion. You should have finished the job. I’m sick of living. If you’re so certain you’re right, then prove me wrong.”
Buffy punctuated this last outburst by throwing her long tresses over her shoulder and baring her neck again, making sure his brand was visible. Angel was lost in a sea of warring emotions. He was angry at Buffy for being so careless, terrified that she could have come to harm, and overwhelmed with relief that she hadn’t been hurt. He knew that it was her pain talking, her sense of betrayal that flavored her emotions. She didn’t have any idea what she was asking for. She didn’t understand what death truly meant. He knew Buffy well. He knew that despite whatever hopelessness she might have been feeling, that underneath it all, she was a fighter. He knew that she did not truly want to die. Maybe he needed to remind her just how much she wanted to live.
He reached for her with singularity of purpose. She wanted to know what it felt like to tempt death, by gods she was going to learn. After this, she would not play it off like it was nothing. She wouldn’t treat her existence so lightly. Angel pulled her hard against his chest, his mouth quickly finding the exposed flesh of her neck, rooting for the raised scar of his brand. Buffy gasped as his cool tongue laved the tender area where her shoulder met her neck, where he had fed from her before. It was not the violent attack she had been expecting. It was not like before.
To his own shock, he found himself unable to hurt her. Instead of tearing into the flesh, he sucked tenderly on the spot, listening as her angry pants turned to breathy sighs. She realized he definitely had a point when he said she wouldn’t be able to keep herself from reacting. Though most of Buffy’s attention was riveted to the spot where his mouth teased her vulnerable flesh, she could not ignore the rest of his body ... or her own. Buffy pressed herself more tightly against him. Angel groaned around his ministrations on her neck and pressed her back against the cool marble of the mausoleum, instinctively grinding his lower body against hers.
Buffy’s head lolled to the side, her mouth falling open as he pressed against her insistently. He was hard and hungry for her, rubbing against her in a sinfully delightful manner that held none of the tenderness he’d shown her on her birthday. How many nights had Buffy craved this in her darkest fantasies? She couldn’t begin to count. And here it was, the reality of him claiming her, touching her with a hunger to match her own.
She whimpered, moving her hands from his shoulders to her own waist where she impatiently fought with the drawstring of her loose cotton pants, breaking it in her hurry. To her surprise, Angel frantically assisted her, working the material down her legs far enough for her to get a foot free. Immediately, she lifted one leg and wrapped it around his hip, cradling him against her softness.
“Buffy,” he hissed against the flesh of her neck, thrusting his erection against her decadently wet sex which was covered only by the flimsy barrier of her panties.
“Make me want to live,” she said against the shell of his ear, before turning her head and searching out his mouth with her own, mindless of his vampiric features.
Angel moaned as her tongue coiled around his own. He countered feverishly, his tongue delving past her teeth in wild abandonment. She opened eagerly, allowing him the freedom to do anything he pleased. He ran with the power. Tightening his grip at the back of her head, he held her still as he broke off the kiss, licking and nipping his way back down her neck, his hips moving against hers in a timeless rhythm.
Impatiently, he tore at her panties, exposing her flesh to the humid night air. As he worked to bare her sex, she did the same for him, releasing the fly of his black denim jeans, doing her best to inch them down his hips. With a growl he pushed roughly at the material, freeing his erection. He grabbed her other leg, urging it around his hip as he hoisted her up against the monument. She whimpered as the weeping tip of his erection slowly probed between her nether lips, biting down deeply into her bottom lip to keep from moaning aloud. He thrust up against her at the same time he pulled down on her hips and in one fluid motion he was inside her, buried to the root as her sheath rippled around him.
“Yes,” Buffy whimpered as she twined her fingers through his hair, urging him to her neck as her legs tightened around his waist.
Any semblance of rational thought fled at her breathy plea. Angel bared his fangs and sank them firmly, but gently into the warm, welcoming flesh at the hollow of Buffy’s shoulder. The Slayer’s body corded in pain at the invasion. However, as he took his first long draught, the pain disappeared as a torrent of unbearable pleasure overtook her.
He rocked into her as he fed and she did her best to meet his thrusts considering her precarious position. This wasn’t like before. It wasn’t caring and gentle and loving. It was hot, hungry and mindless. It was exactly what both of the heartbroken sleepwalkers needed to bring them back to the world of the living. Buffy arched against him, meeting his brutally pounding thrusts as he continued to drink in deep draughts. Abruptly, he tore his fangs from her throat, throwing his head back as he roared in release, his fingers biting painfully into the flesh of her hips. Weak from blood loss, and overwhelmed by the vicious pleasure of the situation, Buffy joined him in release just before her world went black.
Slowly, she opened her eyes. Some part of her had expected to wake alone again. But she wasn’t alone. She was sitting astride Angel, cuddled against his chest as he purred into her hair, nuzzling against her as he waited for her to wake. With a yawn, she turned her face into his neck and took a deep breath of his fragrant skin. He smelled like her. She liked that.
“Are you okay?” he asked quietly, his voice slightly rumbly from the fact that he was still purring.
She nodded and proceeded to wrap her limbs tightly around him, lest he think that leaving was even an option. They remained like that for several long minutes. “You’re still here,” she mused idly.
He nodded, knowing she wasn’t referring to the fact that he hadn’t yet headed back to L.A. “Let’s just say that trying to convince the woman that you love that death isn’t an option isn’t exactly conducive to perfect happiness.”
She pulled back and looked at him. “You didn’t ... “ she said, trailing off as her cheeks burned with shame.
He looked at her like she’d just said the stupidest thing ever uttered by a human being. “I didn’t say that I didn’t enjoy it,” he clarified. “I did. A lot. It just wasn’t ... it wasn’t perfect.”
She frowned and once again laid her head against his chest. “I suppose in our case that’s a good thing,” she said, her voice muffled by his shirt.
“I love you, Buffy,” he said. “Never doubt that.”
“Yeah,” she said with a snort. “Why would you abandoning me make me think something silly like that?”
He frowned, contrite.
“Are you leaving me again?” she asked, nearly choking on the words.
“I’m going back to L.A.,” he said, “but no. I’m not leaving you again.”
“So,” she ventured carefully, “we’re back together.”
He sighed. “Yes, Buffy, we’re back together.”
They were both silent for a long time.
“Just so you know,” she said. “If you leave me again, you don’t need to worry about me hurting myself.”
“I don’t?” he asked, wary of her abrupt change in mood.
“Nope,” she explained, “I’ll be fine, but you’re dust.”
He laughed. “I’ll take that on advisement.”
“You better,” she said, “because I’m not kidding.”
He wrapped his arms around her
tightly, holding her. “I’ll never leave you again,” he said softly.
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