Bent by Tracy
Rating: NC 17, at the end.
Pairings: A little C/A, but B/A all the way
Feedback: I’m a feedback whore, you know it.
Spoilers: Starts right after Once More With Feeling, still one of the top ten most enjoyable hours on television, ever. Damn Emmy people.
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, never did. Love Angel though, give him to me, I’ll take good care of him.
Distribution: Ask first, then I’ll say yes
Summary: Buffy has had enough, and Lorne gets to play his part.
Author’s Note: This started out being called They’re Here, and was supposed to be angst. But I couldn’t leave it like that. So I get my big happy, and the rest is history.
Music: Song is from the Mad Season CD by Matchbox Twenty. Too good for words.
Right after Once More With Feeling.
Part One: Can You Help Me I’m Bent
Buffy was at the end of whatever rope she came back with. The people that loved her, that she loved, were sending her over the edge. It wasn’t a big edge. It wouldn’t take much to just jump, or hell, fall. Dealing with this, with life, with Dawn, with all of it, was more than she could cope with. And kissing Spike had proved to her that it wasn’t getting better. It was getting worse. She had to see him. He would save her. He had always saved her. Tears came to her eyes. *Except for the last time*.
Buffy went to her room and packed as many clothes as she could fit into her small suitcase. She never wanted to come back. These people wanted something from her that she couldn’t give. Damn it, she had given them everything, including her life, and it still wasn’t enough. If he didn’t want her, she would find someplace else. Somewhere where she would not have to be this *Slayer* anymore. She just wanted to be Buffy, if she could just remember who Buffy was.
Driving down the interstate in her mother’s SUV, Buffy began to feel guilty. How could she leave them, the people that needed her so much? The same people that dragged her out of Heaven, made her crawl her way through her own grave, and then patted themselves on the back for it? The same people who told her that Angel leaving was a blessing in disguise? *These people said they knew me. How could it be that none of them knew that Angel’s leaving was the catalyst? That once I lost him, I might as well have been dead.* She loved them. But she couldn’t be their be all and end all anymore. She had been there, and done that.
She was going to LA, to see him. It wasn’t going to be pleasant, she knew that. He wouldn’t want to see her. But right now she didn’t give a damn. She would say what she had to say, and then leave, unless he asked her to stay. And she was pretty sure that wouldn’t happen. It would be a simple thing, her and Angel’s reunion. They were over, but she couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. He needed to know that she wouldn’t be there anymore. And she needed to know that it was really over, even if she didn’t believe it.
Pulling up in front of the Hyperion, she was impressed with the hotel. It screamed Angel, just looked like somewhere he would live. Nerves getting the better of her, she turned off the ignition. Waiting to get her breath and her jitters under control, she sat in the car for a long time. She wanted to be calm before she confronted him.
Getting ready to jump out of the SUV, she noticed a man and a woman approaching the hotel. She got that really weird feeling, the one that said a vampire was nearby. But what was even weirder was she was feeling the same feeling she got when Angel was near. The soul recognition that had existed from the first time they had met. Ignoring the Angel vibes, she jumped out of the truck and hid herself behind the bumper. She didn’t want to overreact and she didn’t want to ignore a possible deadly situation. The couple got closer and her spidey sense was out of control. If it wasn’t Angel approaching, she would have to reevaluate her radar. Cause it sure felt like him.
The couple looked normal as they were approaching, like two people who were really close. They were laughing and hugging, while continuing to make forward progress. She still couldn’t make out their faces, so she just decided to watch and see. The man leaned into the woman, and planted a big kiss on her lips. The woman leaned into the kiss, deepening it. As he broke the kiss, Buffy could see his face in the streetlight.
Her feelings weren’t wrong. It was him. She would recognize that profile in her sleep. The nose, the chin, the ass in those tight pants. Her Angel was kissing another woman. Ignoring the roaring in her ears, she tried to calm herself. They weren’t together anymore, right? He was a free man, who couldn’t have sex. Right? Hell, no, it wasn’t right. He couldn’t kiss her anymore because of the damn curse. So he went out and found someone he could kiss? Someone who doesn’t make him ‘perfectly’ happy’, but happy enough? She had lived without him, had tried to find something else, but she never had. No one could take his place. But he had found someone to take her place.
Heartbroken but curious, she kept hidden behind the SUV. Who was this woman that he felt safe to kiss? What did she really look like? Dyed blond hair, and a nice body were the only things she could see. Her face was hidden from her due to the angle that she was facing. Then the woman turned around. It couldn’t be, this was not happening. Angel would not do this to her. Not the Angel that she loved. But when she looked again, she knew it was true.
‘Cordelia.’ Her Angel was kissing Cordelia. Her heart had been broken before, but now it was shattered. The pieces were bursting in her chest, making it hard to breathe. Tears wouldn’t even come. He had left her to go to Cordelia. Maybe that was always the reason he left. Maybe they even planned this. Rationally, she didn’t believe that, but emotionally, she wasn’t so sure. Her Angel wouldn’t do this to her, but he wasn’t her Angel anymore.
Angel took that moment to turn around. Not wanting to be caught, and realizing he probably knew she was there, Buffy knew she needed to get out of there. Buffy could see him approaching the car, and decided to make a quick exit. She ran around to the front of the car, and jumped into the driver’s seat. She started the ignition and gunned the pedal, wanting to be anywhere but on this street. Angel caught up with her, and pounded on the window. She just went faster, knowing she had to get away. She could hear him crying out her name as she sped up. She was sobbing now, so hard she could barely see the road. It was all over. Her life, her love, there was nothing left. He had always been there, but now he was gone too. It was all gone. Nothing left to go back to, no reason to stay.
Part Two: Shouldn’t Be So Complicated
Quite a while later, Buffy looked up at the street in front of her. She had pulled off as soon as she knew she wasn’t being followed, and sat in the car and cried until she was hoarse. Her eyes hurt, and her throat was dry, and, man, did she need a drink. Hell, it wasn’t like anyone was looking for her. She had time, and she needed to get drunk. Looking around the area, she saw a sign. Carita’s. Sounded like as good a place as any. Checking the rearview mirror, she saw her swollen red eyes and disheveled hair. She had looked better, that was for sure. She pulled a comb out of her purse and attempted to fix her hair, and then swiped a quick gloss of lipstick over her lips. She may be dead inside, but there was no reason to look like it. There wasn’t much she could do about her red eyes. She just hoped the place had dim lighting. With one last glance in the mirror, she realized that that was as good as she was going to get.
Buffy walked into the bar, but was stopped before she even got down the steps. “What do you want?” a normal looking small guy asked her. “Uh, I want a drink. Is there a problem? I got ID.”
The little man looked at her funny, and asked her “How did you find this place?”
“What are you, an idiot? I just followed the big sign you have posted. Isn’t that why it’s there? Cause if not, you need to take it down.”
“You can see it? But you’re human. You shouldn’t be able to see the sign.”
“Well, I can. What is this? A demon bar? Damn, this shit never leaves me alone. I can’t even have a drink without it haunting me.”
The little guy grabbed her around the arm, and propelled her forward. “Hey, where are we going? It’s not like you scare me, I’m just curious.”
“We are going to see the boss. We have never had a human just show up before. They usually have a demon with them, or at least know one.”
Buffy couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Oh, all I have to do is know a demon? How about Angelus? Ever heard of him, you lackey?”
The escort stopped in his tracks. “Angelus? How do you know him? He hasn’t been seen in 100 years.”
Feeling the smirk come over her face, she couldn’t help but rub this incorrect information in the guys face. “Wrong again. Take me too your boss. You are obviously a moron, and I need a drink now.”
Insulted, her little escort grabbed her arm hard. Buffy winced, but decided not to object. She *was* being rude, plus she was more than ready to see the ‘boss’. Continuing down the stairs, Buffy slowed down for a moment waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting. Looking around her, she noticed the décor. A little too cheesy for her taste, but clean none the less. The bar was straight from the seventies, with a disco ball included. She was escorted to the back of the bar, where an office door was hidden in the paneled wall. Knocking on the door, the little guy waited for a response. The door opened, “What? What can’t you handle now?”
The thing that answered the door was green. And he had horns. With red eyes. And a leisure suit, if you can believe that. No one wears leisure suits anymore. This had to be the same person who designed the club.
“Sorry, Boss, but this human showed up, and she could see the sign. Thought you would like to know.”
The being looked her up and down, and then motioned for her to enter. “Thank you, Lester, please go back to your post. As for you, Miss, please come in and take a seat.”
Buffy walked into the room and sat down on the leopard skin couch. Moving to his desk, the boss sat down and faced her. Her host continued, “Excuse my manners. My name is Lorne. And you must be Buffy, better known as the Slayer.”
“You know who I am? How?”
“The Slayer is legendary in the demon world. Plus only someone with supernatural powers or a demon can see the sign for the bar. You aren’t a demon or a witch, so that leaves Slayer. And I knew you would come. But what I don’t know is what took you so long?”
“Well, if you must know, I was kind of dead for a while there. But I’m better now. How did you know I would show up here?”
“Yeah, I heard about that dead thing. Nice to have you back. And how I knew you would come, sweet cakes, well, that’s a long story. How ‘bout I fix us a drink, and we can get to know each other better? Any friend of Angel’s is a friend of mine.”
“You know Angel?”
“Intimately.” Seeing her raised eyebrows, Lorne had to laugh. “No, not like that, but I consider him a friend. And there is something intimate about reading someone’s soul.” He finished making the drinks, and handed one to Buffy.
“Reading someone’s soul? What kind of demon are you?” Buffy sipped the fruity concoction, nodding her approval. Then she chugged it and handed the glass back to him for a refill.
“Honey, I doubt you could pronounce it, but let’s just say I have a gift. When people sing, I can read their souls.” He refilled her glass and sat down next to Buffy on the couch. “And you may want to go easy on this stuff. It’s a lot more potent than it looks.”
Deciding to take his advice, she sipped the next one. She was already lightheaded from the first one. Of course, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten either.
“So, you know Angel, and you read souls. Have you read his soul lately?” Buffy inquired.
Lorne took a drink, and weighed his answer. “Not lately, but having met you, I think I need to read him again. Even without the singing, darling, I am getting some serious *Angel* vibes just pouring off you. That Soulmate thing isn’t something to be played with. Though I can’t say I’ve ever actually seen a pair before. That might be why I missed it.”
“What do you mean, you missed it? I saw Angel tonight, and it looks like he found his *soulmate* somewhere else. But you probably already know that.” Buffy sniped at him.
“Oh, you must have seen him and Cordelia together. That’s partly my fault, you know.”
Buffy took another long, deep drink from her glass. The world was looking better already. OK, no it wasn’t. But the shit in this drink was making it feel that way. “How in the hell, Lorne, is Angel doing God knows what with Cordelia your fault?” Buffy was eyeing him with that *I’m the Slayer, let me slay you* look.
“Gee, Pumpkin. Call me to carpet, why don’t you? It’s not all my fault, you know.” Lorne stood up and refilled his drink. He was going to need a refill to tell this tale. Buffy was not going to be happy.
Part Three: Pick Me Up and Dust Me Off
Buffy stood and approached Lorne menacingly. Thinking that Angel had been affected by some sort of spell, she was angry. “What the hell did you do to him?”
Backing up, Lorne began to stutter. “Uh, Buffy, no, it’s not what you think. I didn’t *do* anything to Angel. I just got some vibes that I misinterpreted. I thought they were about Cordelia, but now I know they weren’t. They were about you.”
Buffy decided then that she wouldn’t kill him, at least not yet. “What vibes, Lorne? What could you possible find out about me from reading Angel that would make you think it was about Cordelia?”
Lorne was truly frightened. She was a formidable opponent, a true warrior. Holding his hands above his head in a position of surrender, he squawked, “Honey, things are getting a little tense in here. I know you are upset, but let’s sit and talk. I’ll answer as many questions as I can, but not while you look like you want to stick a stake in my heart. Not that it would kill me, but it sure would hurt.”
Taking a deep breath, Buffy realized she was thinking about killing the messenger. Stupid move, especially when you haven’t heard the message yet. Sitting back down, she patted the seat next to her. “Sorry, Lorne. Come and sit back down. I promise not to kill you.”
Lorne took a deep breath, and relaxed. “Thanks, Sweet Pea. Glad to see you are giving me a chance.” Sitting next to her, Lorne took a big drink from his glass. “Buffy, you need to understand some things. When I met Angel, he was a loner. Even with his friends, he was alone. Every time I’ve read him, it was always for another motive. I have never read him just for love.”
“OK, that makes sense. Angel never thought he deserved love, so it wouldn’t be tops on his list.”
Lorne laughed. “Ain’t that the truth. But each time I did, there were these undercurrents. They were so strong. They seemed to speak to me. They talked of his unfulfilled love for a champion. Of his dedication to a higher being. If you could see him and Cordelia together, you would know why I thought it was her. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Buffy had to laugh at that. “Lorne, so you told him he should be with Cordelia? Is that what you are saying?”
Surprised at her reaction, Lorne nodded. “Yes, but I was wrong. YOU are the one, the champion. He is meant to be with you.”
The laughter continued to pour from Buffy. She was laughing so hard now tears were rolling down her face. “Oh, please, Lorne. Stop it. You think you screwed this up? No, Angel screwed it up a long time ago. He left so I could have a better life, and my life got really bad. It got so bad I died, and I was glad about it. My friends, sweet as they are, pulled me out of heaven to bring me back to this hell. And now Angel is fucking Cordelia. Damn, I am so glad I didn’t just sit in that coffin until all the air was gone. I sure as hell didn’t want to miss this.”
Seeing the hysteria kicking in, Lorne grabbed Buffy by the shoulders and hugged her. He didn’t know what to say. “Please, Buffy. Don’t cry. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think Angel and Cordelia have gotten past the kissing stage. He still loves you, I can see it.”
Buffy continued to cry on Lorne’s shoulder for a long time. Finally realizing that she was soaking his jacket, she sat up and sniffed. “I’m sorry, Lorne. I didn’t mean to drench your coat. You know, I was coming here to tell him that I’m leaving, so I don’t know why I even care. I just didn’t want him to wonder what had happened to me. I thought he would want to know if I just went away. Wrong again, I guess.”
Lorne pulled back and looked at her strangely. “Buffy, you can’t leave. You’re the Slayer. Your destiny is here, in Sunnydale and in LA.”
Buffy finished off her drink in one swallow, stood up, and began pacing the floor in anger. “No, Lorne, it’s over. I have given everything, including my life, to this thing called destiny. And let me tell you, destiny sucks.”
Lorne stood up, and approached her. “Buffy, you don’t have a choice. It’s like me waking up one morning and deciding I won’t read souls anymore. You were born into this, and it’s what you are meant to be. Do you really think that an amateur witch would have been able to bring you back if it wasn’t meant to be?”
“You don’t get it, Lorne. I DON’T CARE anymore. All people do is take from me. Including the Powers. They took Merrick, then Angel, then my mom, and then my life.” Breaking down in fresh tears, Buffy collapsed back on the couch. “I don’t have anything else to give. Since I got back, it’s like my soul has been sucked out of me, and seeing Angel with Cordelia just sucked out what little was left.”
Lorne was truly worried about her frame of mind. Sitting back down next to her, he patted her leg. “Oh, Pumpkin, the fate you’ve been handed isn’t an easy one. Being the Slayer is a thankless job, I know. But it’s also an important one. Without a Slayer, the world would be lost. You can’t just leave it all behind, and hope it goes away. Cause no matter where you go, you’ll still be the Slayer.”
Sighing, Buffy closed her eyes. She was so tired, and feeling very little pain after chugging that last drink. “I know your right, Lorne, but I can’t find it in me to care. If I had my choice, I would just lay here until I died all over again.”
“Well, missy, that’s not an option. Besides, I don’t want you dying on my couch. So you know what we are going to do?”
“No, what? Find me somewhere else to die?”
“Very funny. No, we are going to go out to the bar, have another drink or two, and you are going to sing for me. I want to read you.” Lorne grabbed her hand and began hauling her off the couch.
Resisting him, Buffy said, “No, Lorne, I can’t sing. And even if I could, I don’t want to. You aren’t going to tell me anything I don’t already know. I’m pathetic, and that’s about it.”
“Sugar, after a couple more of those drinks, you are going to sing like a canary. I’m missing something when it comes to you, and I won’t be able to tell what it is until you sing. So march your cute little rear out to that bar, and have a seat. I need to tie up some loose ends and then I’ll join you. Tell the bartender to fix you one of my favorites, and I’ll be there in a few.”
Sighing, Buffy did as she was told. She didn’t have the energy to argue with him.
Lorne closed the office door behind him, and picked up the phone. He wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing, but that little girl needed help. And he was going to get it for her. Dialing the number, he waited for the phone to be picked up.
“Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless.” Damn, he was so hoping Cordelia wouldn’t be the one to pick up the phone.
“Cordelia, it’s Lorne. How are you, darling?”
“I’ve had better days. What can I do for you, Lorne?”
‘I kind of need to speak with Angel. Is he there?”
“No, the asshole isn’t. You wouldn’t believe it, Lorne. Just one little appearance by his precious *Buffy*, and he takes off after her. He just left me standing there on the street like a fool. I have never been so humiliated.”
Lorne winced, feeling a little (OK, a lot) guilty about being one of the people who kind of pushed Angel and Cordy into trying to take things to another level. “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, Cordy. I’m sure it will all work out for the best. So you say he’s out looking for Buffy?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m guessing. Not that I really care. He can go to hell as far as I’m concerned. But that’s a little redundant, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess it is. Cordy, do you know if he has his cell phone on him?”
“How the heck would I know, Lorne? What’s so important that you have to talk to him, like now?”
Not wanting Cordy to know why he needed to talk to Angel, he tried to downplay the situation. “Oh, doll, it’s nothing important. I’ll just call him back later, I guess. And Cordy, don’t get yourself all worked up. I have a feeling things will turn out like they were meant to be. Sometimes, fate knows what’s best, and we just need to go along for the ride.”
“Sure, Lorne. Fate, ride, I get it. But I have a feeling this ride is over. But for some reason, I’m not that upset by it. Why is that?”
Lorne breathed a big sigh of relief. “Honey, if you don’t know, I sure can’t tell you. But you’ll figure it out. I have to go. Take care, doll.”
Hanging up the phone, Lorne took a chance and dialed Angel’s cell phone number. After six rings, he started to hang up when he heard an exasperated “Hello.” Quickly pulling the phone back to his ear, Lorne barked “Angel? Is that you? It’s me, Lorne.”
“Yeah, it’s me, Lorne. Sorry it took me so long. I forgot how to answer the damn thing. You’d think I’d get the hang of these things by now. God, I hate technology.”
Now that he had Angel on the phone, he wasn’t sure what to say to him. After several moments of silence, his thoughts were interrupted by Angel’s voice. “Lorne, I assume you needed something, and it must be important if you called me on this contraption. I’m kind of in the middle of a crisis, so could you just spit it out?”
“Oh, sorry, Sugarlips, I got kind of wrapped up in the moment. I, uh, think I can help you with your ‘crisis’. At least if your crisis has blond hair, and a tight petite body.”
“You know where she is? How? Where?” Angel began to speak in fast tones.
“Calm down, Angel. Yes, I know where she is, but we have a problem. And I’m not going to let you come in here and make it worse. Seeing you right now could really make things a lot harder on her.”
“What’s wrong, Lorne? She’s OK, isn’t she? Did something happen?”
Hearing the fear in Angel’s voice, Lorne knew he had done the right thing. “She’s right here with me, Angel. And she’s as fine as she can get, considering she’s an emotional wreck. The girl is in the process of having a complete meltdown, and what happened tonight put the candles on her nuclear cake, if you get my meaning.”
“Oh, God, what the hell was I thinking? You know I care for Cordelia, but Buffy is the one I love. The only one I’ve ever loved. I can’t believe I hurt her like this. Again. She must hate me.”
Lorne giggled. “Well, no, you aren’t on her A list at the moment, but there’s more to it than that. I get the feeling things have been terribly wrong for her since she got back. And tonight was just another blow.”
Angel sighed. “But Lorne, I saw her when she came back. She was a little disoriented, but she said she was fine. She seemed to be fine.”
“Angel,” Lorne asked, “when was the last time you talked to the girl? Or even better, went to see her?”
Guilt oozed from his voice. “Well, actually, not since that one time after she came back. I thought it would be easier for her if-“
Not able to stand it, Lorne interrupted. “So, you left her for her own good again. Jeez, cupcake, that song’s getting a bit old. And the words don’t make anymore sense than they did the first time. How many times does she have to be hurt or die for you to see that you’re wrong?”
“Don’t lecture me, Lorne. Just tell me where she is. I need to see her.”
“OK, Sweetcakes, on one condition. When you get here, you come in the back and have me paged to the office. I don’t want her any more upset than she is already, and I have to talk to you before you see her. Seems you weren’t the only one wrong in this.”
“So she’s at the club? How did she wind up there?”
“Angel, I need your promise. She can’t take much more, and I won’t let you in if you don’t agree.”
“Fine, Lorne, whatever it takes. I just need to see her. I’ll be there in about 20 minutes.”
Hearing the line go dead, Lorne stood up and went to join his honored guest.
Part 4: Could You Paint Me Better Off
Lorne found Buffy sitting at the bar just like he told her to. She had a drink in front of her that was mostly empty, and she was swaying to the Creed song that a G’rbalt demon was singing. *Not bad* he thought. Vocals could be a little stronger, but the snake could carry a tune. I’ll have to remember to tell him to dump his wife, she’s definitely not the snake of his dreams.
Reaching the seat next to Buffy, Lorne sat down, signaling the bartender to get him a drink. Buffy signaled to him to refill her glass also. “Slayer, honey, are you sure you need any more? With everything that’s happened, you may want to slow down. There’s nothing more unattractive than a drunk, heart-broken woman. First comes the anger, then the tears, then, God help us, the country music. It’s just not a pretty sight, I can tell you.”
Buffy wasn’t feeling any real pain, but she wasn’t that drunk. She was feeling fuzzy, but not out of sorts. “Don’t worry, Lorne. My heart isn’t broken. Hell, I haven’t had one in over two years. So, no worries.”
Shocked at her words, Lorne wasn’t sure how to respond. “Uh, hon, that sounds like someone who’s given up. You don’t look like a quitter to me.”
Buffy laughed at that. “No, Lorne, I am a quitter. I stopped trying when Angel left me, and haven’t really done anything since but wait for death.” Chugging the rest of her drink, Buffy was feeling decidedly less like herself. Which, as far as she was concerned, wasn’t a bad thing. “And hell, I couldn’t even do that in peace. Yep, Lorne, I am a loser. No doubt about it.”
Lorne was just shocked and heartbroken at her comments. Placing a hand on her arm, he tried to reinforce his opinion. “No, sweetie, you are as far from a loser as a person can get. And there is a reason for your being back. You just have to trust in the powers, and realize that everything happens for a reason.”
Jumping off the barstool, Buffy swayed slightly before regaining her bearings. “Lorne, thanks for the pep talk, but the little girls room is calling my name. Whatever that stuff is, it goes right through you.” Buffy headed towards the bathroom, with the world swirling around her in odd, but beautiful, colors.
Lorne took a big swig from his glass, wondering when Angel would show up. He just hoped Angel would do what he asked. The man wasn’t known for following rules.
As if he had been summoned by Lorne’s thoughts, Angel appeared in the corner of the bar, hiding in the shadows. Lorne got up from his seat, and went to confront the obstinate man.
“Damn it, Angel. I asked you to have me paged to the office. What the hell are you trying to do, kill the girl? Or yourself?”
As Lorne approached Angel, he could see the anguish in his eyes. “Lorne, I needed to see her. Where did she go? She didn’t leave, did she?”
“Relax, hon, she didn’t leave. She just had a nature call. Come into the office. I don’t want her to see you, at least not until I fill you in. When she tries to kick your ass, I want you to know why.”
Lorne let his men know to tell Buffy that he had been called to his office for an emergency, and would be back soon. Along with a warning that they were not to let her leave, in case the urge would hit her. He knew they wouldn’t be able to stop her if she really wanted to leave, but he didn’t think it would be an issue. Buffy seemed to be having a good time, a virtual self created pity party. And that was the problem.
Angel was sitting on the same leopard skin couch that Buffy had been sitting in earlier. As Lorne entered the office, he noticed the gold in Angel’s eyes. “Angel, why in the hell are you having a demon moment?”
“Sorry, Lorne, I can’t help it. It’s been a while since I smelled her, and my demon is just rejoicing in the smell. God, she always smelled wonderful And her scent is all over this couch.”
“Oh, got you. Well, put him back where he goes. I need Angel right now. We have one really depressed Slayer on our hands, and she doesn’t need anymore stress right now.”
Taking a deep breath, Angel was able to get control back of all his senses. As his eyes returned back to their normal brown, Angel took another unneeded but relaxing breath. “Okay, Lorne, what is so damn wrong that you think you need to keep me from seeing Buffy?”
Taking a deep breath, Lorne sat next to Angel on the couch. “Hon, this woman is not the same woman you used to know. She is very possibly the unhappiest person I’ve ever met. And, jeez, her aura. I haven’t even read her yet, and I can sense her misery. Why in the hell would you leave her when she’s like this? I thought you loved her.”
Angel’s eyes glowed gold again. “Damn it, Lorne, I do love her. Don’t you ever say that I don’t. But I thought she was fine.” He stood up and began pacing the room. “She told me she was fine, and I believed her. I didn’t want to interfere with her life again. She was supposed to be moving on, enjoying a normal life. That was supposed to be her future. And none of it has gone the way it should have. I only wanted her to be happy.”
Lorne had to laugh at that. “Angel, hon, she’s the Slayer, not the girl next door. What made you think that normal was something she could have, or would even want? And as for happy, well, that didn’t work out so well either. Hell, she walks in here tonight, smarts off a couple of times, and cries all over my *expensive* suit.” Lorne stood up and joined Angel in his pacing. “And then, she talks about how she quit trying once you left, and how she hasn’t had a heart since you’ve been gone. But worst of all, she wants to leave, as in the Hellmouth and LA, and she can’t do that. She’s too important to it all. Man, the girl is at the bottom, and I can’t even begin to tell you what seeing you with Cordy did to her.”
Angel had stopped and leaned against the wall when Lorne started speaking. The tears had begun to flow again, and the more Lorne talked, the harder they flowed. *He had broken her heart, again. Damn, when it came to her, he couldn’t seem to do anything right*.
Placing his hands over his eyes, Angel began to sob. After a few minutes, he tried to speak through the tears. Lifting his head from his hands, he tried to justify his actions to Lorne. “Lorne, she’s the slayer. I’m a vampire, and not just any vampire. I’m the notorious Angelus, the Scourge of Europe. Even if it was possible, I don’t deserve her. I never did, even when I was human. She’s everything good in this world, and I’m everything evil. It’s just not right.”
Lorne stopped in his tracks, stunned at Angel’s confession. “Angel, you can’t possibly believe that. You aren’t anymore Angelus than Buffy is. Yeah, your body is the host for Angelus, but you didn’t do those things. It wasn’t you. She sees that, we see that, why can’t you?”
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Angel sat back down on the couch. “Intellectually, I would have to agree with you. But emotionally…Lorne, I can still see their faces, hear their cries, taste their blood. I was there, so it’s hard to separate myself from the death and destruction. I remember it all.”
Feeling Angel’s pain, Lorne sat next to him on the couch. “Angelcakes, I can’t even imagine what you go through everyday. But you need to focus a little more on all of the faces of the people you’ve saved. If you count all the ‘world ending’ stuff you’ve helped stop, I would say your saved pile is a lot bigger than your killed pile. And so would she. She loves you, like no other love I’ve ever seen. And that’s saying a lot.”
“I know, Lorne, just like I love her.” Taking a ragged breath, Angel continued. “Fate can be really cruel, sometimes. From the first time I saw her, I could hear her soul calling to mine. And it’s been calling ever since. And when the silence came, when she died, I wanted to die to. But I don’t have that luxury. She will die again someday, and I don’t think I can take it. I love her too much to do that again.”
Lorne sighed, part of him wanting to slap Angel. ‘Yes, Angel, she will die someday. And there is always the chance that the next demon you meet will win, and you’ll be gone too. It’s just a chance we all take. But you’re missing it. You are wasting the time you have with her, worrying about losing her. Don’t you see how idiotic that is?”
Angel looked Lorne in the eyes, pondering everything that had happened. “Wait a minute, Lorne. What about all this champions and kyrumption stuff you said about Cordelia and me? Why are you suddenly in Buffy’s corner?”
It was Lorne’s turn to pace. “Well, Doll, that’s the thing I wanted to talk about. You can’t possibly know how much this hurts me to say, but I was wrong about that.”
Angel had to laugh at the look on Lorne’s face. “How could you have been wrong? You said you read it.”
“And I did, read it, that is. Now remember, I’ve never read you for love, just when you needed to know something. And even then, I got this incredible vibe from you about an unfilled love for a champion and a higher being. With what happened to Cordelia, I assumed it was her. And don’t forget, I had never met Buffy before tonight. But now I see it. The champion isn’t Cordelia, it’s our little Slayer. She’s your higher being, honey, and she’s the one you are meant to love.”
“Are you sure, Lorne? Absolutely sure?” Angel asked.
Placing a hand on Angel’s shoulder, Lorne looked him deep in the eyes. “Oh, yes, Angel. I am sure. But are you sure?”
Angel looked at him strange for a moment, then loudly commented, “Hell, yes, I always knew I loved Buffy. But everyone else kept telling me otherwise, and with my track record of being wrong, well, you know… But I am sure.”
Lorne smiled at this, and dropped the other shoe. “There’s something else. I - sense - something with her, but I can’t tell what it is. She’s going to sing for me tonight, and I will hopefully find out what it is. Speaking of which, I need to get out there before she thinks I’ve deserted her, and leaves.”
Angel outwardly cringed at that statement, but nodded his agreement. “Can I come with you?”
“Oh, no, Muffin. You need to keep in the dark, at least until she’s done singing. Cause she ain’t going to do nothing with you watching except head for the nearest exit.”
Feeling the pain of Lorne’s words, Angel followed him out of the office and found a dark corner to sit in. With all the demons in the place, Buffy shouldn’t be able to pick him out of the crowd.
Part Five: I’m So Scared That I’ll Never Get Put Back Together
Lorne walked out of the office, and noticed that Buffy was sitting in the same seat she was in before he went to the office. With a big sigh of relief, he walked over to bar and took his seat next to her. “Sorry it took so long, Doll, but an owner’s job is never done. How are you doing?”
Buffy turned around so quickly in her seat, she almost fell off the stool. “Whoa, Nellie. This barstool has a mind of it’s own. Or it could be the several drinks I’ve had. I’m doing great, Lorne. Just great. Nice to see you could join me again. I was beginning to think I’d been dumped. Not like it’s a new experience or anything.”
Sighing, Lorne could see Angel take a seat in the back of the bar. He didn’t know how he was going to fix this, but he knew he was. Fate was screaming at him, telling him that things were wrong and needed to be made right.
“Buffy, being dumped is the least of your worries. Hell, the only person you ever really loved didn’t dump you in the true sense of the word. He loved you enough to let go, and wish you well. Not many people love someone else enough to do that. And everyone else, well, hon, they don’t really matter.”
Buffy scoffed at Lorne’s comments. “If you say so, Lorne. Hey, didn’t you say something about wanting me to sing? Hell, if I’m going to do it, now’s as good a time as any. Do you need to do some kind of ritual, or something?”
Marveling at her wit, Lorne snickered. “No, Buffy, all you need to do is pick a song, and go up and sing it. The rest comes naturally. Just pick a song, and the guy running the machine will put it on. And the rest just happens.”
Jumping up from her seat, Buffy swayed before getting her balance. Lorne could see Angel start to stand up, wanting to catch her. He shook his head at him, not wanting him to reveal his presence yet. Fortunately, Buffy managed to right herself before she fell on her face. “Jeez, Lorne, you were right. Those drinks had a real kick.” Giggling, Buffy leaned into Lorne, whispering in his ear. “Don’t worry, I know just what I’m going to sing. And the next time you see Angel, you can tell him I dedicated this song to him. The Bastard.”
Lorne recoiled from the animosity in her statement. “Buffy, you don’t mean that. You still love Angel, you know you do.”
“What’s your point, Lorne? I’ve always loved Angel. Nothing has ever changed that, and nothing ever will. He died, he came back, he left, I died, I came back, and still he’s the only one I’ve ever loved. So what the hell is your point? He’s in love with Cordelia now, and my life is crap. I guess he wins.”
Buffy turned away and sauntered toward the stage. At the same time, Angel, having heard every word she said, went to intercept her. Lorne stopped him before he caught up with her. “Damn it, Angel, I need to do this without you. Let me do this. Her soul has something to say, and I can’t hear it if you’re pissing her off. Go sit back down.”
Angel was heartbroken. “Lorne, you heard her. She thinks I don’t love her anymore. I told her forever, and I meant it. She thinks I love someone else, when I’ve never loved anyone but her. She needs to know.”
“Angel, she knows. She’s always known. But now is not the time to refresh her memory. Even though you were trying to do what was best for her, all she knows is you walked away. Let her work out some of her anger.”
Angel growled, not happy about it, but nodded his head in agreement. “Do what you need to do, Lorne. But then I am going to talk to her, even if I have to tie her down.” Sitting back down in his seat, Angel challenged Lorne.
“No problem, Angel. When I get what I need, you can reintroduce yourself to your love.”
Buffy walked to the stage, knowing exactly what song she was going to sing. It was her swan song to Angel, the last time she would give her heart to him, at least publicly. The rest of her pain was no one’s business. The guy running the show was standing in the corner of the dance floor, waiting for people to log their song. Buffy approached him, telling him the song she would like to sing. Surprisingly, he told her that she was next on the list. She could see numerous people’s names on the list, and didn’t understand why she would be next. Asking the question, the only answer she got was “The boss said that the slayer gets first dibs, so you’re next.”
Buffy leaned against the stage, trying to get her nerves under control. She had slayed demons, died for the world, but never sang in front of people. OK, demons, either. Her stomach had the jitters, and she was petrified of making a fool of herself. But, hell, she was leaving anyway, she might as well give it all she had. About that time, the DJ announced her name. Most of the demons recognized her, and the applause was mediocre at best.
Stepping to the stage, Buffy grabbed the microphone. Taking a deep breath, she let the music take over, closing her eyes and putting her heart into the song.
Her sweet voice managed to impress Lorne, and he sat back to listen and learn.
If I fall along the way
Pick me up and dust me off
And if I get too tired to make it
Be my breath so I can walk
//Angel used to do that. He was always there to watch my back and pick me up, when I needed it. I wonder if Cordelia needs him as much as I did.//
If I need some other love
Give me more than I can stand
And when my smile gets old and faded
Wait around I’ll smile again.
//Angel always knew to give me time, and my smile would return. Now he waits for Cordelia’s smile.//
Shouldn’t be so complicated
Just hold me and then
Just hold me again
//That’s all I ever wanted. To be held in his arms again. But now he’s holding Cordy.//
Can you help me I’m bent
I’m so scared that I’ll never
Get put back together
You’re breaking me in
And this is how we will end
With you and me bent
//This was my biggest fear. That it would end like this. That he really didn’t love me.//
If I couldn’t sleep could you sleep
Could you paint me better off
Could you sympathize with my needs
I know you think I need a lot
// I was always needy, but I tried to give him what he needed, too. //
I started out clean but I’m jaded
Just phoning it in
Just breaking the skin
Start bending me
It’s never enough
I feel all your pieces
Start bending me
Keep bending me until I’m completely broken in
Shouldn’t be so complicated
Just touch me and then
Just touch me again
// He’s never going to touch me again, and I don’t think I can take that. I wish I was still dead //
Buffy’s voice faded out with the music. And the tears flowed down her face. Sobbing out loud on the last note, she ran from the stage and headed to the bathroom. Lorne went to stop her, but decided she deserved some time alone. He had big news for her, but she wasn’t ready to hear it.
Lorne started to march to Angel’s table, when he realized Angel wasn’t there. Knowing him as well as he did, Lorne knew where he could find him. He had wanted to talk to her before Angel made his presence known, but it was too late now.
Part Six: Just Touch Me And Then
Buffy pushed open the door, and fell to the bathroom floor, wailing in her pain. It was just too much - she couldn’t do it anymore. Placing her head on the cool bathroom tile, she began to giggle hysterically along with the sobs. The really funny thing was that when she left Sunnydale, she’d thought she couldn’t feel anymore. Now that she knew she could, she wished she couldn’t.
That was the way Angel found her. Broken, sobbing hysterically, with her head on a bathroom floor. Could this day get any worse? When she felt the hands on her back, Buffy jumped from the contact. She had been so lost in her own misery that she hadn’t even heard the door open. Raising her head, her eyes met his. And the laughter just came pouring out. The situation was too much for her fragile mind to handle, and she just couldn’t stop laughing. Crawling over to the wall, she leaned her back against the cool tile, and still she kept laughing. Just barely through her tears, she could see the look of panic on Angel’s face, but she couldn’t seem to stop. Bending her knees to her chest, she laid her face on her knees and tried to control the hysteria. Angel sat down on the floor in front of her, and placed his hands on her shoulders. That did the trick. The laughter died in her throat, and her mind seemed to snap back in place.
Lifting her head, Buffy wiped her eyes, and stared at Angel. God, why did she always forget how beautiful he was? “Angel, I would appreciate it if you would take your hands off of me. In the mood I’m in, your health would be better served if you just left me alone.”
Removing his hands, Angel placed them on his knees. “Not going to happen, Buffy. I figure I’ve left you alone enough, don’t you?”
This comment enraged Buffy. Unable to sit still any longer, she stood up and began pacing in front of the commodes. “You son of a bitch, how dare you come here and say that to me? I am tired of hearing your lies and your excuses. You think you have an answer to everything, when you don’t know shit about it, or me, or…or…or, well, anything.” By the time she got the sentence out, her voice was at a high pitch scream.
Angel sighed, inwardly agreeing with her. “Your right about that. I’ve been wrong about a lot of things in my long life. And I’ve made some really bad decisions, starting even before I went into an alley with a girl named Darla. But the worst things I’ve ever done were leaving you, and not being there when you needed me, especially when you came back. I fooled myself into thinking that you were OK, that I would just make things worse. So I get to add even more offenses to a never-ending list of things I have to atone for. But I will atone for them, all of them, if you give me a chance.”
Buffy was still furious. “How dare you come here and say these things to me?” She was pacing at a frantic rate now, making Angel dizzy. “I SAW you, with HER. God, Angel, Cordelia, of all people. How could you?” Stopping, Buffy looked at him, fresh tears trekking down her cheeks. “If you had to move on, how could you do it with someone like her - someone I knew, and, for that matter, don’t particularly like? What, did you have this planned all along? Just how long have you been seeing her? The way I see it, it probably started before you left. Hell, she’s probably why you left.”
Angel jumped up from the floor with vampire speed and grabbed her by the arms. It was his turn to be angry now. “Don’t you ever, ever say anything like that again. I love you, I’ve always loved you. You may never understand why I left, but Cordelia didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. And, whether you believe me or not, I don’t love Cordy.”
Buffy shook his arms off her. “You were kissing her, just like you used to kiss me-”
The next thing she knew, Angel was punishing her lips with his mouth. He kissed her so hard her head snapped back, and she loved it. She gave as good as she got, and opened herself to his assault. His tongue pushed past her lips, delving into her mouth, brutally tantalizing her with its sensuous presence. His hands grabbed her around the hips, pressing her into his obvious arousal. Unable to help herself, Buffy moaned.
Angel pulled back, much to Buffy’s dislike. “Is that what you saw tonight, Buffy? Did I kiss her like I kiss you?” Angel just stared at her face, noticing the dilated pupils, the wispy breathes coming from her beautiful mouth, and couldn’t resist kissing her again. This time he was not so brutal, but just as demanding. She tasted so good, so fresh, so much like the only place he wanted to be. His hands continued their journey down to her thighs, back up over her ass, and up to her back. He could smell her arousal, her breathy moans causing him an almost physical pain. Things were getting out of control, and he needed to stop before he couldn’t stop any more. Breaking the kiss, he leaned his forehead into hers. “You never did answer me. When you saw me kissing Cordelia tonight, was I kissing her like I kiss you?”
Panting, Buffy closed her eyes, letting the scene replay in her mind. Opening her eyes, she stared into his. “No, that was definitely not what I saw tonight. But it still hurts, Angel. I know you know about Riley, but at least you never had to see it.”
“Believe me, I have seen it in my mind a million times. And the pain never gets any better. But I will say I’m sorry, for a lot of things. Tonight is just one of them.” Sighing, Angel moved away, finally back in control of his emotions. Grabbing her hand, he entwined his fingers with hers. “How about you and I go and have a drink, and talk? I think we both have a lot to say. At least I know I do.”
Smiling up at him, Buffy nodded her agreement. Hand in hand, they finally left the women’s bathroom, much to the delight of the females being held at bay by the Carita’s staff.
Lorne approached the couple as they emerged from the lady’s room hand in hand. “Angel, honey, you don’t follow directions very well, do you? Are you both OK?”
Angel laughed at that. “You’re right, Lorne. I don’t follow directions well. Always been one of my faults. And yes, for now, we are OK. We’re just going to sit and have a drink and talk. Something we should have done a long time ago.”
Lorne was anxious, and blurted out, “But I need to talk to you both. It’s important.”
Angel pulled up, and turned to face Lorne, grabbing Buffy around the waist. “Lorne, is the world ending? If not, it can wait.”
Lorne stopped in his tracks. “Well, no, it’s not that important. It can wait, I guess.”
“That’s what I thought. But this can’t. We need to talk, and when were done, we’ll talk about what you have to say.” Taking Buffy’s hand again, Angel found a booth in the back of the club.
Buffy’s head was still fuzzy, so it didn’t even occur to her to object to his macho display. She just followed along, glad to be with him again.
Following Angel’s lead, Buffy took a seat in the booth. Realizing he was still holding her hand, she gently extracted her hand from his. “Angel, I…I don’t know where you expect this to go from here. Hell, I don’t know what I expect either.”
Sighing, Angel placed his hands on the table, trying to keep from touching her. “Buffy, I haven’t got a clue. I don’t expect anything. But I do know that if I die tonight, I don’t want it to be with you thinking I don’t love you. There hasn’t been a day gone by since I left that I haven’t thought about you, or missed you. When I saw you tonight….”
Buffy laughed sarcastically, “Yeah, it was one of MY high moments. You and Cordy make such a cute couple.”
“Damn it, Buffy, would you stop. I understand that you are hurt, and angry, but the sarcasm isn’t helping anything. Hell, I feel bad enough, without you rubbing it in. And I will admit, Cordelia and I have become close.” Seeing the dejected look on her face, he hurriedly continued, “But it only happened because we were both so lonely. I wanted something to fill the hole that leaving you left, but I didn’t find it. In some ways, it only made the hole bigger.”
Buffy couldn’t help it. The hurt was too raw. “Yeah, so glad you found someone to appease your pain. Can I assume it wasn’t perfect happiness, or is it just another slayer curse that causes you to loose your soul only when you’re with me?”
“I DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH HER.” Angel shouted. Buffy jumped at that. She had never heard Angel raise his voice before. He continued, “And if I had, I would guarantee that it wouldn’t have held a candle to what we had, even if it was for only one night.”
Buffy had more to say. “But, Angel - “
Angel interrupted her, “No, Buffy, it’s still my turn to talk. I love you, but I am going to finish this before you tell me to go to hell. Not that I blame you, but I am going to have my say. I told you earlier that I shouldn’t have left, and I meant it. But I don’t think I was ever really honest about why I left. I always told you sex had nothing to do with it, that I wanted you to have a normal life. Well, I did want you to have a normal life, but sex did have a lot to do with it.”
Buffy gasped, “You left because we couldn’t have sex? Cause there are a lot of things in this life I can’t have, and sex would just be another.”
“No, Buffy,” Angel sighed again, and took her hand in his, rubbing his thumb across her knuckles. “It wasn’t you. It was me. I love you, more than you will ever know. Being with you everyday, well, I just wasn’t that strong. I couldn’t risk what could happen. I wanted you, then and now, every minute, every moment, of every day. Angelus can’t be set free again, and being with you, it was just inevitable that it would happen. So I removed the temptation. No Buffy meant no Angelus - and no love. And it sucks.”
Tears filled Buffy’s eyes as Angel talked. He loved her so much, she could see that now. But it couldn’t surpass the love she felt for him. He was right, they weren’t strong enough to keep Angelus at bay. The passion was too great, the lust too strong, to keep them from making a fatal mistake. When she was younger, she had thought it could be done, but not anymore. Being together, while the curse was in the way, would eventually get someone killed. They could not allow that to happen. It was really over, and after three years, it was time to admit it. But she couldn’t seem to breath.
“Angel, I can’t breath.” Gasping, Buffy grabbed him by the arms. “I, I can’t do this. Please, don’t do this.” Angel stood up and walked to the other side of the table. Buffy jumped up and grabbed him around the neck, sobbing. “It’s over, and I can’t do this. It’s all gone, all of it. Please, make it not be real.” She was crying so hard now, her words were almost distorted. “I can’t breath, Angel. It was so much easier when I was dead. God, NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”
Lorne reacted to Buffy’s outburst immediately, and motioned for Angel to bring her into his office. Angel grabbed her under her legs and lifted, relying on her to continue her hold on his neck, and carried her to the office, her sobbing the whole time. Sitting on the couch, Buffy continued her death grip on Angel’s neck. Sometimes not needing to breath was a blessing.
Lorne had followed them in, fixing them all a drink. Hell, he needed one, even if Buffy and Angel didn’t. It wasn’t often that a Slayer imploded in your own club.
As Lorne looked on, the vampire made emotional love to the slayer. “Buffy, honey, it’s okay. I love you, baby.” Continuing to hold her on his lap, Angel touched her face, running his hands along her cheeks and over her lips, down her neck and back up. He continued his ministrations, trying to soothe the slayer, cooing words of love to her, while she refused to let go of him. Several minutes later, he managed to calm her tears, kissing her last ones from her cheeks. Lorne had seen a lot of heart wrenching things in his life, but this was definitely tops.
Feeling that she was calm enough to talk, Angel wanted to know what caused her to loose it. Pushing her hair out of her eyes, Angel smiled into her face. “Baby, what in the world brought that on?”
Sitting up, Buffy removed herself from his arms. “I just got it, Angel. I didn’t get it before. Before I always had hope, but now, I don’t even have that. Hope was the only thing that kept me going, but now it’s gone too.”
Angel stood up, grabbing her gently by the arms, pulling her up to him. “Honey, why would you just give up? You have so much to live for. So much to do, and so many people who need you.”
Buffy’s tears had slowed to a trickle, but her misery was still apparent in her demeanor. Hanging her head, she whispered so low that Angel would not have heard her if he hadn’t been a vampire. “Before, I didn’t know. At least, I didn’t admit it. I always thought we could be together, someday. I thought sex wasn’t important, and eventually you would realize that and come back to me. But now, I know that you were right. We can never be together. It’s really over, and I don’t think I can go on knowing that."
Angel engulfed her small body in his arms, holding her for all she was worth. Tears were flowing down his cheeks, and he realized that everything she had said, and he had said, was the truth. It was as over as it would ever be. Love wasn’t going to be enough. They were both too dedicated to their callings to do something that could possibly cause something tragic to happen. But it didn’t make it any easier.
Part Seven: Just Touch Me Again
Lorne had watched it all unfold before his eyes - his tear filled eyes at that. He couldn’t hear all of what was said between Buffy and Angel, but he’d heard enough. “Uh, guys, I hate to interrupt your pity party, but I have something to say. And you need to hear this, so take a seat, and don’t worry, be happy.”
Both Buffy and Angel jumped at his comment. They had forgotten he was there. Angel apologized, “Uh, sorry, Lorne, we were kind of busy, forgot you were here.”
Lorne smirked, “Dolls, don’t worry. With all the angst and heartbreak in this room, I’m not surprised. You two trying to break my heart by osmosis or what?”
Separating from each other, Buffy and Angel sat on the couch, as far apart from each other as they could be. They were trying to come to grips with the end, and just wanted it to be over.
Lorne shook his head in disgust. “Well, nothing like giving up. The defeat in this room is like a living entity, feeding off you both. So, that’s it. You both give up.”
Buffy had had enough. Her heart hurt too badly, and she really didn’t care what *great profound prophecy* that Lorne had found for her. It wouldn’t give her Angel back, so the rest was just details. “No, Lorne, I thought I’d fuck Angel’s brains out, so Angelus could return, then he’d turn me and we could just take this town out. How’s that sound?”
Lorne laughed. “Sounds great, Slayer. A good lay is just what Angel needs.”
Buffy jumped up and grabbed Lorne by the throat. “I AM AT THE END OF MY ROPE.” Taking a deep breath, and relaxing her hold on Lorne’s throat, she finished. “Don’t screw with me, I don’t think it’s funny.”
Realizing that Angel was right behind her, with the same look on his face, Lorne decided the direct approach was best. “Well, if you let go of my throat, I think I can solve some of your problems. But I can’t help with this quick to anger thing.”
Angel placed his hand on her arm, causing Buffy to relax. Deciding that the sooner he got to talk the sooner she could go somewhere and die, Buffy took a step back. “Sorry, Lorne, but it’s been a long day. Let me sit down, and you can regal us with your insight, and I’ll pretend I care.”
Lorne adjusted his clothing, trying to undo some of the damage the pissed off Slayer had caused to his suit. Taking a well-deserved breath, he waited until Buffy and Angel had both taken their seats again on his couch. “Kids, I sure wish you had let me talk earlier. We might have been able to avoid all of this.”
Walking over and refilling his glass, he handed both Buffy and Angel their drink. Chugging his, he took a deep breath, still trying to recover from his near fatal mistake. He needed to add to his list of things to remember - #1: never tease a heartbroken slayer. Not good for your health. Noticing the expectant and impatient look of both on their faces, Lorne decided he’d better get on with it. “Buffy, from the minute you walked in tonight, I could tell there was something ‘different’ about you. I assumed it was because you were the slayer, but it just didn’t add up. I actually met a slayer a couple of decades ago, and though I never had the pleasure of reading her, I remember the vibes that she gave off. And you felt like that, sort of. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something else. Something different about you, besides the slayer thing.”
Buffy snorted. “Oh, joy, Lorne. Are you telling me that something else is wrong with me?” Angel rolled his eyes at her, at the same time squeezing her hand in reassurance.
“No, Buffy,” Lorne continued, “I didn’t say wrong, I just said different. And, boy, did I get a mind full when I read you. You are one interesting read.”
Even Angel was getting impatient at this point. Starting to stand up, he said, “Lorne, what is it you are trying to say? Damn, man, you have been going on and on, and still haven’t said anything of importance.”
“Angel, you better sit back down for this. Buffy, when you came back, you brought all your parts with you.”
“Do you see anything missing, Lorne? Of course, I have all my parts.” Buffy snapped.
“Yes, though it isn’t physical parts I’m talking about. But you also brought back a few other things. Buffy, I really hope you don’t take this the wrong way, and if you do, remember that I didn’t do it. But, hon, you aren’t completely human anymore.”
Reflexes kicking in, Lorne took a big step back waiting for the explosion. But it never happened. Both of them sat there for several minutes, speechless. Angel was the first to speak. “Lorne, what do you mean, she’s not completely human? I can feel her, and she’s the same. Her soul is the same.”
“You’re right, Angel, her soul is the same. But her body has been slightly altered, if you know what I mean. She has everything she left with, but now she has more.”
“More? Like what kind of more? More cholesterol? Come on, Lorne, just spit it out.”
“OK, gee, you people just don’t care much for drama, do you?”
Exasperated, Buffy sighed, “Lorne, the two of us have had enough drama to last a life time. And damn it, I’m still young. So spill it, now.”
“OK, here goes. It’s your blood. It’s somehow altered. It is mostly human, but it has some really special qualities to it. It’s not quite magic, but it’s damn close.”
Angel sat up, the word blood getting his attention. After all, he was still a vampire. “Her blood? What’s wrong with it?”
Lorne laughed. “Nothing wrong with it, my boy. As a matter of fact, it’s all for the good. It’s got healing powers, and most of all, it’s got soul saving powers. Seems she was sent back with the power to finally get what she really wants. Even the powers know when they’ve screwed up, it seems.”
Buffy stood up and approached Lorne, but not threateningly this time. “What do you mean, Lorne? I don’t understand.”
Smiling at her, he continued. “I’m sure you don’t, sugar. But it’s meant to be, you and Angel. It was always meant to be, and some really ignorant, meddling Gypsies decided to change the fate of the world by putting in the clause. The curse was planned, but the clause was not. Angelus was supposed to be banned and never allowed to return. And now, Slayer, you have the means and the power to make things right.”
By this time, Angel was standing beside Buffy, his arm draped around her waist. “How, Lorne? How can she make this mess right?”
“When they sent her back, and make no mistake, it wasn’t Willow that brought her back, they gave her a little gift. All you have to do is accept it.”
Buffy sucked in her breath. She could feel it, could feel the possibility of her and Angel. “How, Lorne? What do we need to do?”
“That’s the easy part, honey. All you have to do is the wild thing with Angel, and at the, well, you know, the high point so to say, Angel needs to drink you.”
Angel spun away from Buffy, and began to pace. “No, Lorne, I won’t do it. I can’t do that to her again. Last time almost cost her her life, and I won’t take that chance again.”
Buffy had something to say about it as well. She marched on Angel, all cylinders firing. “Angel, it’s our chance. Don’t you see, we can finally be together? And even better, make sure that Angelus can never come back. We have to do this.”
“NO, BUFFY!” Angel turned on her. “I will not do that to you again. I could kill you.”
Angry that he was yelling at her, she reacted. “ANGEL, yes, you can. The last time, you were sick and delirious. This time, you’ll be in control. I trust you, why can’t you trust yourself? Or is there more to this? Is it Cordelia?”
Sighing, Angel leaned against the wall, and bent over, placing his arms on his thighs. “No, Buffy, it’s not Cordelia.”
Before he could finish, she was on a tirade. “Cause if it is,” she continued, having not heard his reply, “at least I can make sure it’s safe for you to do the wild thing with her. It’s not want I would want, but at least my ‘duty’ would be done.”
Angel strode to her and grabbed her by the arms. Looking into her eyes, he responded. “It’s not Cordelia. Whether we do this or not, my soul would never be at risk with her. I am not now, nor have I ever really been in love with Cordelia. I care deeply for her, but that’s it. She’s not you, and that’s all I’m going to say on this.”
Shocked, Buffy looked deep into his eyes, seeing the truth in his statement. “Oh, well, that’s good, I guess. So, what do you think? Can you do this, cause even if we don’t wind up together, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to take Angelus off the market.”
Swaying towards her, he could feel her soul calling to him. Unable to stop himself, he roughly kissed her, plunging her mouth in his desperation. After several minutes, he broke the kiss. “If you can do it, Buffy, so can I. But we are going to do it here, so Lorne can be here to call an ambulance if needed. I will not let you die, and last time was too close for comfort.”
Buffy’s mouth was dry, and her crotch was wet. She was going to have sex, with Angel. It was almost more than her heart could take. “OK, but where would you like to do it? I don’t think I really want to do it on a zebra striped couch, no offense, Lorne.”
“Slayer, hon, none taken. Come with me, you can use my place. It’s above the bar. And don’t worry, I have a guest room. Sorry, but no one does the wacky in my bed but me.”
Angel grinned, following both Lorne and Buffy out of the office. “Lorne, somehow that makes me feel better. The thought of sharing a bed with you is just, well, not good.”
Lorne laughed. “Hey, Angelcakes, don’t knock it till you try it. And that goes for you too, Slayer. Don’t think I can’t hear you laughing.”
Unable to contain herself anymore, she broke out in laughter. “Sorry, Lorne, I’m sure it’s just nerves. But the image in my brain of you and Angel, well, it just won’t go away.”
Angel grabbed her around the waist, and pushed her into his obvious arousal as they continued to walk towards the back of the club. “Does this feel like a man that wants Lorne in his bed?” he whispered in her ear.
Catching her breath, she stopped in her tracks, pushing herself back against his obvious arousal. “That would be a definite No.”
Angel placed his hands on her ass and gently pushed. “Walk, woman, before we don’t make it to this bedroom.”
Finally reaching a set of stairs, the trio marched up and entered Lorne’s apartment. It was decorated just like the club, seventies and eighties cheese. It fit Lorne to a tee. Continuing to walk Lorne came to a door and stopped. “Well, kids, this is where I get off. This room had it’s own bathroom and refrigerator. Angel, there isn’t any blood in it, but you got all the blood you need right there in your little slayer.”
“But, Lorne, how little is enough? How will I know when I’ve taken as much as I need to seal the deal?”
“Trust me, Angel, you’ll know. I don’t know how, but you will. Well, it’s time. Have fun, kids, and don’t worry. I’ll be here, even though you won’t need me. But just in case, so Angel feels better.”
They both silently nod at him, and Angel opens the door. It’s a really nice room, complete with a queen size bed. Angel stepped through first and stepped back and beckoned Buffy to enter. He was petrified, and excited beyond his wildest imagination. He was going to make love to Buffy, tonight, after so long. And, god help him, he was going to taste her blood again. Just the thought of both was almost enough to release Angelus. The only thing keeping him in check was the fear that Angel had that he might lose it and kill Buffy.
Buffy was facing the same turmoil, but she didn’t fear that Angel would kill her. She had always trusted him. Even when he was sick out of his mind, she knew he would regain enough of his senses to make sure she wouldn’t die. The bloodletting would be the easy part for her. And if it was as good as it was last time, it could almost be the best part. But not really. The best part was going to be touching him without the fear. Something she hadn’t been allowed to do in four years.
Walking into the room, she stopped short of the bed, and slowly began to pull her tank top over her head. Angel stood by the door, and just watched. Fascinated by her, he couldn’t seem to move a muscle as she slowly pulled the thin scrap of material over her head. When she was done, she was left wearing only a thin, sheer lacy piece of cloth over her breasts. He could clearly see her nipples through the cloth, and his cock throbbed at the picture. Knowing he should go to her, he started to, until she began to slide her skirt off her hips. Again, he found himself standing and staring. She slowly slid the thin piece of cloth down her firm, tight thighs, and revealed to him that she was only wearing a thong. As the piece of cloth hit the floor, Angel lost whatever grip he had on his lust. Taking a good long look at her, he could see not only her nipples through the lace, but her hair through her underwear. Growling, he rushed towards her and harshly kissed her.
Continuing his attack, he grabbed her by her bare ass exposed by the thong and wrapped her around his waist. She was moaning, and he could smell her. Hell, he could smell her downstairs, but that was just a tease compared to the lust that now filled his senses. She was hot, hot for him. And he was losing it, and it scared him to death. Abruptly pulling himself away, he backed up until he hit the wall.
“No, I can’t do this. Buffy, he’s there. He wants you, I can feel it. I can’t let you do this, it’s too dangerous.”
Buffy ran to him, melding her body against his. “Yes, Angel, you can. WE can do this. Do you want me?”
Breathing heavily, he closed his eyes, trying to block her out, in all her sensual glory. “Buffy, please don’t. You know I want you, every second of everyday, whether we’re together or not.”
Angry now, Buffy grabbed him by the chin, all the while keeping her body as close to his as humanly possible. “Open your eyes, Angel. Now. Don’t you dare turn away from me, not this time.”
Angel was lost, and he knew it. Opening his eyes, he looked into hers. He’d dreamed of this so many times, the reality was almost overwhelming. “Buffy, what if it doesn’t work? What if Lorne is wrong? I can’t lose you again, I don’t think I can take it. Damn it, you died and left me here, alone. I couldn’t stand it if you went away again.” Tears were now trekking down his cheeks, leaving rivers that seemed to symbolize all the pain and sorry that they had gone through, just to get to this moment.
Placing her hands on either side of his head, she pulled his head down to her lips. Placing a gentle kiss against his lips, she then wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tight. “I promise, Angel, I’m not going anywhere. I’ve waited a long time, and did a lot of things to get to this point. They owe me, damn it. And I demand payment. You are my payment, my reward. So let’s do this. Trust me. You know I have these funny feelings, and I know that this is right. Lorne is not wrong. This is the way it’s supposed to be. So, please, make love to me, drink me. Make us whole. I love you, and I won’t lose you again.”
Giving up, Angel grabbed her by the waist and carried her to the bed. Placing her gently down, he quickly removed his clothing. Stretching his body out next to hers, he reached out and touched her cheek. Buffy sighed, and began touching him all over. “Angel, I have wanted to do this so many times. I’ve missed seeing you, touching you. You’re beautiful, you know that?”
“No, you’re the on that beautiful. I love you, Buffy. Please, don’t leave me, I don’t think I could take it again.” He began to kiss her, not just on her mouth, but all over. He slowly licked down her throat, growling as he found his mark on her neck. Laving it with his tongue, Buffy felt the pull, crying out in response, arching her back in lust.
Angel continued his exploration, taking his time, getting to know her body again. She felt good, and tasted even better. Continuing to taste her, he moved to her breasts. Kissing her nipple through the lace, he decided it wasn’t enough. Reaching behind her with one hand, he unclasped it, sucking in his breath as her breasts sprang free of the restraining material. Bringing his hands up, he removed the offensive device from her arms, causing her to pant in response. He could tell she was ready now, but he was just getting started. Still not sure, he knew this may be the last time he would be with her, at least as himself, so he was going to make sure it was memorable. He was very afraid that after tonight, one of them was going to be really dead.
Placing his doubts aside - and his faith in Buffy - he continued to make love to her with his mouth. He gently sucked her nipple into his mouth, his tongue swirling around it. Buffy arched into him, moaning, pulling his head closer to her. He sucked harder, answering her body, and Buffy screamed in pleasure. She was older now, wiser, and much more responsive. Feeling the anger that someone else had touched her, he bit down on her nipple. She jerked in response, but not in pain like he would of thought, but in pleasure. Running her fingers through his hair, her hips began begging for attention. She was beside herself, and Angel could feel the blood pumping in her veins, the pleasure emerging to the top, looking for release.
Moving down, Angel kissed her stomach, and slowly worked his way down to her downy covering. Buffy was writhing on the bed, pushing and pulling him, not sure what it was she wanted. But Angel knew what he wanted. He wanted to taste her. He hadn’t been allowed to do this the first night, and the other time, she didn’t remember. But he did. She was everything to him, and this was just one of the many things that he loved about her. The way she tasted. Settling himself between her legs, Buffy lifted her head, looking at him with such love that he almost lost it just at that. Smiling into her eyes, he held her gaze with his eyes, while he dipped his head and took a long, slow taste of her. She arched off of the bed, and screamed in release, neither of them breaking eye contact. She was exquisite in her pleasure, and she was his. That’s all he needed to know.
After she had come down, Angel began to again taste her, lightly and gently, conscious of the sensitivity of her tissue. As he continued his gentle assault, Buffy started to meet his mouth with her hips. Sensing that she was ready for more, he increased the pressure and pace of his tongue. Before he knew it, she was moving against his mouth, panting his name, on the verge of another release. Wanting to see her go there again, Angel slowly inserted one finger inside her, while continuing to lick and suck her clit. “Oh, yes, Angel. Fuck me with your fingers, please.” She begged.
Angel was beside himself, but was determined to make this a night to remember. Slowing down, he came to an almost complete stop, only keeping his finger inside her. Lightly he ran his tongue over her every few seconds, slowly moving his finger in and out. Buffy began to beg, literally. “Angel, please, I need you. I need something. Please.”
After a few minutes of this, Angel figured she’d had enough. Plus he didn’t know how much longer he had before he lost it. Her begging was making the demon scream, as well as the man. Slowly, he inserted another finger inside of her, and lowered his mouth to her, engulfing her. As his fingers sped up, he increased the pressure of his mouth on her clit. After less than a minute, she was coming again, grabbing the back of his head, pushing him into her, literally fucking his face. That did it for him. With vampire speed, he removed himself from her, and joined her face to face.
Grabbing her wrists, he held them in one hand above her head. As his cock rubbed back and forth against her thigh, he smothered her lips with his, sucking her tongue into his mouth. In one fluid motion, he rammed himself home, causing Buffy to moan in both pleasure and pain. Holding himself still, he gave her a few moments to adjust to his size, continuing to kiss her, alternating between gentle passion and uncontrolled lust. After a few minutes, Buffy began to move, needing more from him. Taking his cue, Angel slowly began to move inside of her. Gently pulling out, he began to slowly reenter her, closing his eyes, trying to get a grip on his raging passion.
Buffy was squirming under him now, trying to wrench her wrists from his hold. “Please, Angel, I want to touch you. I need to touch you. It’s been so long.” Unable to deny her anything, he complied with her request. Her hands automatically went to touch his back, rubbing his skin, sighing in the joy of finally being able to touch him again. “Oh, God. Angel, please, faster. I love you so much. Please, baby, make love to me.”
Unable to control himself, Angel grabbed her head and looked into his eyes. “Buffy, no matter what happens, I love you. Don’t ever, ever doubt that.” Angel began to pump into her furiously. She felt like Heaven, and he could feel his climax approaching quickly. Buffy wasn’t far off either. She met him thrust for thrust, reaching down to grab him by the ass, begging for all he had.
Knowing he was almost there, he gave her one last chance to back out. “Buffy, we don’t have to do this. We can stop now, if you want.” Not knowing if he would be able to comply with that request, he loved her enough to ask anyway.
Panting, Buffy grabbed him by the neck and brought his face to hers. Putting all she had into the kiss, they were both panting and she was breathless by the time the kiss ended. “Angel, this is right, I know it is.” Arching toward him, taking all of him in, she moaned, “And if you stop now, I’ll stake you myself. Now please, don’t stop.”
Chuckling, Angel replied, “Your wish is my command, my lady.” And with that, he again began to pump into her, increasing the pressure, bringing them both back to the brink. Buffy was close, so close that she instinctively bared her throat to him. “Drink, baby. Make me yours again.”
Her invitation brought Angel’s gameface out. God, he loved this woman. Reaching down, he licked her throat, rejoicing in the taste of her. With one last unneeded breath, he sank his teeth into her throat, instantly reaching his peak with the first taste of her blood. He could feel Buffy’s muscles tighten around him as she too lost it with the insertion of his fangs in her throat. Groaning, he continued to drink, close to losing control over the demon that had been denied for so long the taste of human blood. And there was nothing as rich as slayer blood.
Continuing to drink, he could feel the power of her blood causing his veins to sing. All of a sudden, Angel was overcome with pain. He felt like he was burning from the inside out. Pulling back, he sat up, gasping not for air, but from the pain. Buffy quickly sat up next to him, grabbing him by the shoulders. “Angel, are you OK?”
Standing up, Angel fell to the floor. Through the pain, he managed to say, “Run, Buffy, please, run now. It’s like before. He’s coming, I can feel him.” Angel gasped.
“No, Angel, he’s not.” Walking towards him, Buffy knelt in front of him and placed her hands on his back. Grabbing him by the head, she lifted his face to hers, kissing him hard. “I know he’s not. I won’t leave you like this. Hold on, baby, it’s working. When this is over, we can be together again. And no more Angelus.”
Realizing the pain wasn’t getting any worse, but wasn’t really subsiding either, Angel took unnecessary breaths to help control the pain. After several minutes, the pain began to recede, and he was able to again focus on the woman kneeling in front of him. She was petrified he could tell, but sure in her belief that Angelus was not coming back to kill her.
Realizing it was over, Angel sat back on his knees. “It’s over, Buffy. I’m not sure what happened, but I think it worked. I can feel him, but he’s so buried now, I’m can barely tell he’s there. And I didn’t kill you.” Angel began to cry. Grabbing her around the shoulders, he hugged her so tight she could barely breath. “I didn’t kill you. Thank God, I was so afraid. I couldn’t live with myself if something bad had happened to you.”
Crying too, Buffy finally had to extract herself from his grip in order to take a much-needed breath. Inhaling deeply, Buffy smiled up at him, tears of joy streaking down her cheeks. “There was never any doubt, Angel. I knew you wouldn’t hurt me. You love me too much to ever hurt me physically.”
“I do love you, so very much. But how can we know for sure this worked?”
She nodded towards the bed, giving her a come hither look. “We could, you know, test it out.”
Smiling down at her, he grabbed her by waist and held her close. “Yes, we could, but I think I’d rather make sure before we, you know, test it. I think we need to go and check with Lorne first.”
Sighing, Buffy nodded. “You’re probably right, but where’s the fun in that? Don’t you have any sense of adventure?”
Angel laughed, and smacked her on the ass. “I’ll have you know I have an incredible sense of adventure. And if Lorne tells us it worked, I’m going to show it to you.”
Kissing her one last time, he removed himself from her embarrass and stood up. Grabbing her outstretched hand, he pulled her up as well. “Come on, the sooner we talk to Lorne, the sooner we’ll know. Let’s see if we can find our clothes in all this chaos.”
After helping each other dress, kissing, laughing and touching all the while, they left their little sanctuary in search of Lorne. They found him right where he said he would be, sitting on the couch, listening to 80s love ballads on his large and impressive sound system. Noticing them, he stood up and threw his arms open wide in a welcoming gesture. “Kids, I see everyone made it out alive. So, did it work?”
Angel looked at him and smirked. “Well, something happened, but I need to know if you can tell. What kind of vibes are you getting from me? I can sing if you want me to.”
“NO, Angel. That won’t be necessary. I don’t think I could take that again. No offense, but you, well, you stink.”
Buffy had to laugh at that. “So, if you don’t want him to sing, how are you going to tell?”
“That’s the easy part. All I have to do is touch him. Before, the demon was always there, right under the surface. I could feel him every time I touched Angel.” He turned his attention towards Angel. “If it worked, he should be so well hidden that even I can’t tell he’s there.”
Taking a deep breath, Angel silently held out his arm, waiting for Lorne to do it. Looking into his eyes, Lorne asked him, “Are you ready for this, Angel? From now on, your life is going to be a lot different. No more loophole, no more Angelus, you’ll be as free as you can be, considering you’re a vampire. Any plans on what you’re going to do now?” Smiling at Buffy, he then turned and winked at Angel.
Growling, Angel shoved his arm at Lorne. “Lorne, have I ever told you that you talk too much? Just do it, damn it. Before I lose my patience.”
“Alright, dollface. Don’t get testy. Let’s just do this, and see what we can find.” Placing his hand on Angel’s outstretched arm, Lorne closed his eyes. After several tense minutes, he opened his eyes and looked at Angel, who found himself silently praying. Buffy was holding her breath, silently praying right along with him.
Lorne cleared his throat, and walked over to his drink and drained the glass. “No, Angel.”
“NO, what do you mean no??” Angel yelled. But he couldn’t be heard over Buffy’s screeching.
“LORNE, YOU HAVE TO BE WRONG!” Tears were running down her face. He was wrong - she just knew it.
Lorne just stood there, trying to figure out what was wrong. “Wait a minute,” he said, but couldn’t be heard over the din. “WAIT A MINUTE!” He yelled. “What is all the uproar about? I thought this was going to be a good thing. Why are you yelling at me?”
Angel grabbed Lorne by the jacket and lifted him up in the air. “You told us it would work. You let me drink Buffy, we risked her life, we risked releasing Angelus back into the world, all because you said it would work. Why, Lorne? Why’d you do it?”
Realizing what had happened, Lorne began to laugh out loud. He was laughing so hard, he couldn’t even talk. Seeing Angel’s gameface though, brought the urge to laugh to a complete halt. Holding his hands up in surrender, he said, “No, you don’t understand. You asked me to see if Angelus was still on the surface. And that’s the question I answered. I said “No, Angel’. Meaning he’s not. I didn’t mean it didn’t work.”
Sighing, Angel put Lorne down, and hugged him. “It worked. It really did. I’m free. Thank you, Lorne. Thank you so much.”
“Angel, honey, don’t thank me. I think you need to thank the little lady who provided the elixir.” Grabbing Angel by the shoulders, he turned him around to face Buffy. The Slayer was sobbing uncontrollably, laughing at the same time. She was chanting, “It worked. It worked.” over and over again.
Going over to her, he hugged her tight, tears coming to his eyes. “Baby, it worked. We’re free. We can be together, in every sense of the word. I can’t believe this.” Raising his head, he tilted her face up to his. “Buffy Anne Summers,” he said, looking deep into her eyes, brushing the tears from her cheeks, “I swear to you, and to anyone or any God who will listen, that I will never, ever leave your side again. Where you go, I will follow. When you need me, from now on I WILL be there. I love you, more than my life, more than anyone or anything.”
Crying even harder, Buffy grabbed him around the neck, and squeezed him in a bear hug. “Angel, I love you so much. I’ve never stopped, and I never will. This is like a dream come true.”
Lorne took the opportunity to discretely leave the room. He knew when he wasn’t needed. It was days like these that made it all worthwhile. Sighing, wiping the tears from his eyes, he went back to work.
Pulling back, Buffy reached up and grabbed Angel’s head, pulling his lips down to hers. She kissed him, and kissed him, until she had to come up for air. “But what about Cordelia?”
“Yeah, I’ll have to tell her. But not right now. I think we need to go home, cause I really have some, uh, things, you know, to say to you.” Leaning down in her ears, he whispered. “If you know what I mean.”
“Why, Angel, are you propositioning me?”
“You better believe it. We have a lot of time to make up for. And I believe someone here said something about my sense of adventure?? I think I can rise to that challenge.”
Pulling away, she entwined her arm with his, and propelled him to the front door. Slyly looking up at him, she smiled. “Yes, Angel, I just bet you can.”