Disclaimer – I don’t own them; Joss and all the various other Powers That Be do. If I owned them, I’m pretty sure they'd be much, much happier.
Comments and feedback to Ralkana47@yahoo.com would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Author's Note – An episode addition to The Prom.
Author's Note II – My first B/A fic. Please, please, please tell me what you think! Thanks go to Maquis Leader, my Glorious Liege, mentor, and good friend, for all her help, including hosting this story, and for getting me into Buffy in the first place.
Spoilers – Um, everything up to The Prom, I guess, just to be safe. I nicked some dialogue. If you've seen the episode, you'll recognize it.
Angel wandered through his home, too uneasy to sleep. He hated the daylight, hated that he couldn’t just go outside and run off this excess energy. He closed his eyes, suppressing a bitter laugh. Who are you kidding? You want to go find her, hold her, never let her go. But you can’t. You’re not human. You’re not what she needs.
He sighed, hearing the words that had echoed through his mind for days. The mayor’s words, which seemed to get louder and louder inside his head every time he heard them. He pushed his thoughts away, wandering aimlessly for a few moments more. Something caught his eye, and he picked up a notebook. Her notebook, covered with the doodles that told him how bored she sometimes got in class. The largest one made him stop and stare. Buffy & Angel 4Ever.
There was a knock on the door. He answered it, careful to stay out of the way of the rays of sunlight that filtered in, and he was surprised when he saw who his visitor was.
“I'm sorry to, uh... Well, I would have called, but, you know,” she said, and Angel thought he could detect a bit of nervousness in her voice. She stepped into the mansion, taking the door from him and shutting it behind her.
“Please, you're always welcome.”
“My goodness, your place is amazing.”
He smiled slightly, trying not to take offence at the surprise in her voice. What’d she expect it to be, a crypt? “Yeah, I like a lot of space. I don't get out much during the day.”
“No, you wouldn't.” She continued into the room, idly investigating the furnishings.
“Can I get you something? I don't have any coffee.”
“Oh, no thank you, I, uh...” She paused, turning to look at him again. “You don't drink? Beverages, I mean?”
“No, I do. It's just the caffeine. It makes me jittery.”
“Oh.” She laughed nervously, and then her tone turned solemn. “I understand Buffy spent the night.”
“I'm sorry about that. We came back after patrol—”
She cut him off before he could go any further. “I'm not interested in the details. That's not why I'm here.”
Angel hesitated, unsure of the situation. “Okay,” he said, after a moment.
“I'm here because I'm worried about you two. In general.”
“What happened before, when I changed, it won't happen again.” His reassurance didn’t have the hoped for effect. She plowed on, obviously prepared to say something and not ready to stop until she’d said it.
“That's not all I'm concerned about. I don't have to tell you that you and Buffy are from different worlds.”
“No, you don't.” Believe me, I know we are. It’s all I can think about lately. He looked away from her, feeling the need to pace as the unease he’d been feeling returned, stronger than ever.
“She's had to deal with a lot. Grew up fast. Sometimes even I forget that she's still just a girl.”
“I'm old enough to be her ancestor,” he concurred softly.
“She's just starting out in life,” Joyce continued, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was agreeing with her every point.
“I know. I think about it more now that she's staying in Sunnydale.”
“Good. Because when it comes to you, Angel, she's just like any other young woman in love. You're all she can see of tomorrow. But I think we both know that there are some hard choices ahead. If she can't make them, you're gonna have to.” She paused, letting her words and her message sink in. “I know you care about her. I just hope you care enough.”
Before he could respond, there was a soft knock on the front door. Both Joyce and Angel turned to look at it, surprised. When it began to open slowly, Angel shoved Joyce behind him, prepared to fight whatever was daring to enter his home. Knew I should have locked the damn door.
A slim hand stole around the door, followed by a quietly creeping Slayer, who shut the door gently behind her. She turned around, jumping when she saw Angel watching her.
“Oh God! Angel, you scared me. When you didn’t answer, I thought you were asleep. I just came to get my history notebook. Open book quiz, you know, so I thought I’d come get the book so I could open it—Mom?” she asked confusedly. Angel had shifted position slightly, revealing Joyce behind his broad form.
“I thought that was your car. What are you doing here?” Buffy asked, and her voice was tinged with faint suspicion. “Why don’t I think you’re here for a friendly little chat?”
“Why is she here? What did she tell you?” she asked, focusing on Angel. The vampire lowered his eyes, staring at the ground, and she knew that if he’d been human, his cheeks would have flushed. “What’s going on here? Somebody had better tell me before this room is full of seriously pissed-off Slayer!”
“It’s nothing, Buffy. Your mom just—“
“Don’t you dare lie to me, Angel.”
“I came to have an important discussion with Angel. To ask him to think seriously about what’s going on between the two,” Joyce said smoothly, ignoring Angel’s soft snort at her use of the word ask. Buffy noticed it, and her eyes narrowed.
“What do you mean, to think about the two of us… oh. You told him to stay away from me.”
“Well, I wouldn’t—“
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
“I’m your mother! I’m only concerned about what’s best for you, Buffy.”
“Right. You’re concerned about what’s best for me. You, the mother who’s always at your gallery, who’s never home, who barely knows my friends. The mother who assumed I was into drugs, in a gang but didn’t bother to ask me. The mother who never noticed when I was out all night, killing demons and saving the world and generally just getting my ass kicked. You’re completely clueless when it comes to my life for the last couple of years, but all of a sudden you’re concerned with what’s best for me?!”
“Don’t you dare—“
“Oh no. You don’t get to take that tone of voice with me anymore. Not after today. Not after this.”
“He’s a vampire!”
“Yes, he is. And I’m the Slayer—“ She noticed her mother look quickly away at her words. “See, that’s your problem. You don’t want to accept the truth. You think you get me away from ‘unwanted elements’ and poof! No more Slayer. Normal Buffy again. It doesn’t work like that, Mom.”
Buffy noticed Angel was standing uncomfortably to one side of them, and she sighed. “I’m sorry, Angel. We’ll go. Finish this somewhere else. You don’t need to see it.”
She stretched up to press a quick kiss to his lips and he fidgeted and took half a step back. She stared at him.
“Oh no. No. Do not tell me you believe her.”
“Buffy, maybe she’s right…”
“She’s not right, Angel, and you know it! You told me you loved me. Was that a lie?”
“Of course not.”
“Then how can she be right? How can being apart from each other be right if we both feel the same way?” She knew she was dangerously close to tears, and she fought to hold them back. She didn’t care if Angel saw her cry, he’d seen it before, but she’d be damned if she’d cry in front of her mother.
“Buffy…” He stepped closer to her, tossing a brief glance at Joyce before stepping forward and taking Buffy’s hands in his. “I love you. I do. You’re the only thing in this world that makes me happy. But you deserve so much more than I can give you. You should be with someone who can take you into the light. Someone who can make—“ He looked quickly at Joyce, regrouping. “Someone who can give you everything.”
“I want you, Angel. That’s all I want. I know what you mean, and that’s not important to me, okay? Don’t listen to my mother. She doesn’t understand. You still think this is just some sort of phase I’m going through, don’t you?” she hissed, whirling on her mother. “You think I’m going to graduate, go to college, marry a… a… banker or something and have 2.4 kids and a dog and forget all about going out and slaying the nasty vampires.”
“I’m the Slayer for life, Mom. It doesn’t ever end. Until I die, I slay.”
“Surely they can—“
“No, they can’t. There’s no application process, no interviewing prospective candidates. It’s a strictly don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you situation, and they called me. I’m not a normal girl. I’ll never be a normal girl, never have a normal life. Angel brings me closer to a normal life than I could get with anyone else. He knows everything about me, I don’t have to hide anything, don’t have to worry about whether or not my boyfriend will notice something’s wrong, whether he’ll be in danger, whether he’ll wonder if I’m out with another guy while I’m beating up a vampire. I can concentrate on my duty instead. Angel knows it all. He makes me happy, he loves me, and he protects me. Why can’t you see that?”
Her voice broke, and despite her best efforts, a tear slid down her cheek. Before she could angrily swipe at it, Angel was there. He stroked her cheek gently, removing the tear with his thumb, pulling her into his arms. He held her tightly, letting her tears subside, whispering soothing words into her ear. He looked up, over her head, and saw that Joyce was watching them, her expression unreadable. He stared back for a long moment, his deep brown eyes sad, and then he buried his face in Buffy’s hair.
“Don’t leave me, Angel,” she whispered. “Please. I can’t do this without you. I tried and it’s too hard. I can’t—“
“Shh. Shh, beloved. I’m here.”
“Why do you want to believe her? Why do you want to leave me?”
“I don’t… Buffy, I don’t want to leave you. I love you, I want nothing more than to be with you every moment that I can. But… you’re so young, beloved. You’re so young and beautiful, and you deserve so much more than I can give you. I don’t want you to wake up one day and hate me for holding you back, keeping you from…” He laughed, harshly but quietly. “From true happiness. I couldn’t bear that.”
Staring into his eyes, she slowly brought one hand up to stroke over his pale, sculpted cheekbone before tangling her fingers in his hair. She rested her cheek on his shoulder, speaking into the cool skin of his neck. “This is true happiness. This is what I want.”
She turned from him, keeping his hand firmly in hers. “Do you hear me, Mom? This is what I want. I’m old enough to decide what’s best for me.”
“You’re not even out of high school yet, Buffy.”
“I think the whole fighting-for-my-life-every-night-for-several-years-now thing more than makes up for that fact, not to mention that I am now considered old enough to help pick the president! In fact, I think you’re the one who’s acted immaturely in this. You went behind my back without even talking to me about anything! You’re not going to change my mind, so you might as well give it up now. You should be thanking him. If it weren’t for him, I’d be insane. Or dead. But no, you come here and play this stupid little game.”
Without another word, Joyce brushed past them, stalking out of Angel’s house and shutting the door firmly behind her. Buffy sighed, sagging against Angel’s chest. His arms came up to hold her, one hand soothingly rubbing her back.
“Well, that went well.”
“She’s just trying to look out for you. She loves you. And she may—”
“If you say she may be right, you’re gonna end up on your butt, Angel.”
His lips quirked in a half-smile and the worry momentarily left his expressive eyes. “I’ll do my best not to antagonize the Slayer. What are you doing here, anyway? Not that I mind the company, but don’t you have school?”
Her eyes widened in alarm, and she glanced at her watch before grabbing the notebook Angel had picked up earlier. “Oh! I gotta go. I have a quiz, I just came back to pick up my notebook. I’ll see you tonight?”
He nodded, and she stretched up to kiss him. Her lips were soft as they brushed against his own, and they warmed him more than he’d ever thought possible. “Get some sleep. I don’t want you brooding about this all day, okay? I love you. I’m not gonna wake up one day and hate you. It’s not gonna happen. All right? So you’re not going anywhere.”
“I love you too.”
“I love you so much, it scares me. I can’t do this without you, I don’t want to do this without you. I lost you once, and I’ll be damned if it’s going to happen again.”
He said nothing, only holding her more closely to him, breathing in the scent of her shampoo and her perfume. After a moment more, she pulled away. She brought his hand to her lips, softly kissing the palm. Then, without another word, she turned and walked toward the front door. Just before she got there, she turned again to face him.
“If you leave, Angel, I will find you. I will follow you all over this world if I have to. Don’t think you’ll get rid of me that easily.”
She stared into his eyes for a moment, letting him see her determination and her resolve, and then she left. He stared at the door for a long time after her departure, before finally making his way to his bedroom. Those unyielding hazel eyes haunted him long after sleep claimed him, burning through his soul with the same effect as sunlight on his skin.
Angel strode into the Sunnydale High library shortly after sundown, surprised to see it well lit but empty. He looked carefully around, moving a few steps closer in, and he was just getting ready to turn around and leave when Giles stepped out of his office.
“Hello. Is… uh, is Buffy here? This place looks pretty quiet.”
He was doing his best to be friendly, but being around the serene librarian made him uncomfortable. Although Giles was no longer openly hostile to him, Angel still couldn’t fight the incredible rush of guilt that swamped him whenever he remembered what the demon within him had taken from Giles. He could not fathom how it was that Giles didn’t loathe him for what Angelus had done.
Giles smiled. “As a library should be, one would think. No, she’s not here. She and Willow went… went shopping for, uh, prom dresses I believe they said. They should return shortly. Are you all right, Angel?”
“I’m… I’m a little tired. I didn’t sleep well.” He leaned back on the counter, resting both elbows on it, closing his eyes as he remembered the nightmare that had ended his fitful slumber.
Giles copied his pose, leaning next to him, and his gaze slid sideways to take in the vampire’s weary face. “That wouldn’t be due to any visitors you may have had today, would it, by any chance?”
Angel’s eyes popped open. “Buffy told you?”
“Ah, no. I, too, received a… a visit from Mrs. Summers.”
“Oh,” Angel replied noncommittally, and Giles noted that Angel’s features betrayed no emotion as he carefully looked into the empty library before them.
“She wanted me to, um, ‘talk some sense into Buffy and keep her away from that Angel.’”
“Oh,” Angel repeated, and his voice was downcast this time. He looked down, a conscious effort to avoid the librarian’s gaze.
“She’s intent on Buffy having what she refers to as ‘a normal life,’ and apparently, this includes ‘a boyfriend who breathes.’”
Angel scowled at the floor. “I breathe,” he muttered.
”Only when you remember to. I don’t think that’s quite what she had in mind. Mrs. Summers seems to be under the impression that Buffy is going to wake up one day and be a normal child with a normal child’s worries. According to her, you are what’s preventing Buffy from doing this.”
Angel looked at Giles for the first time since the conversation had begun, and the librarian could see fear in the vampire’s dark eyes.
“What… what did you tell her?”
Giles removed his glasses, reaching into his pocket to retrieve his handkerchief. He watched Angel as he polished the lenses, and he had a fleeting thought of how strange it was that this powerful creature of the night, who could kill him with one movement, was afraid of him, of his words.
“I informed her that Buffy’s relationship with you is a strength, and that if you are gone, she will be weakened. I advised her that Slayers don’t have normal lives. That they don’t live long enough to worry about college, let alone marriage and children, and I offered to show her several dozen documents which would verify my assertions.”
Angel’s eyes widened at the blunt nature of Giles’ words, but he said nothing.
“It seems to me that she is so concerned—as are you, Angel—about Buffy’s loss of a ‘normal life’ due to your presence, that you fail to realize that she will not likely live to reach her twentieth birthday, and certainly not much beyond that. In fact, if you are not by her side, it’s doubtful that she will survive that long.”
“How?” Angel whispered. “How can you be so cold about it?”
Giles sighed. “I am her Watcher. I have been told from the first moment of my duties to prepare for the death of my Slayer.”
“And just how do you… prepare yourself for that?”
Angel’s voice held more than a hint of anger, and Giles turned to face him, looking directly into the vampire’s eyes.
“It's quite simple. You tell yourself, ‘She will die. It will happen. This is most likely how it will happen.’ You read books and diaries, and you show yourself pictures. And then you meet her and you find yourself wrapped around her little finger, and you know that nothing you saw or read or told yourself will ever prepare you for it. But you know that with enough practice, you can say the words without trembling.”
He steadily held Angel’s gaze for a moment longer before Angel blinked and looked away. The quick flash of dawning comprehension in Angel’s eyes left no doubt in Giles’ mind that Angel was beginning to realize that the Watcher’s love for Buffy was equal to his own. It was merely different.
Giles cleared his throat. “Well. Mrs. Summers was shocked by my candor, and she was no less unsettled when I informed her that it was your presence that has kept her daughter alive this long, recounting to her various instances in which this proved to be true. She soon realized she would not find an ally in me, and she left.”
“You are… you approve then.”
The librarian smiled briefly, and then his face settled into a somber expression. “I’m not sure it’s my place to offer approval, Angel. As her Watcher, I most strenuously object to the Slayer being involved with a vampire. But I know Buffy, and I know you, and I cannot keep her from her love, especially when it is her love that keeps her strong.”
Angel closed his eyes, grateful beyond measure for Giles’ support, and surprised by his own gratitude. The other man’s voice quickly brought him back.
“However, I cannot say that this… relationship has my all-embracing approval. It scares me, Angel. You know, more than any of us ever could, of the dark half of your love for her. You know the consequences.”
Angel turned away, unable to face him. “I’m sorry,” he whispered hoarsely, visions of Jenny, living and dead, filling his mind. A hand on his shoulder turned him back around.
“You are not her killer, Angel. The demon is. You are not he.”
“It’s taken me a rather long time to come to terms with that concept. Don’t take it from me,” Giles said softly, and Angel subsided, guilt still stamped on his handsome features.
“Buffy is intelligent and strong, as are you, and you are both acutely aware of the possible consequences of your love. You must be the strong one, Angel. You must be prepared to deny that love if the danger becomes too great. If you aren’t strong enough, then by all means, leave here. But do not leave simply because you think it would be best for her.”
Angel forced a deep breath in and out, marshalling his thoughts. “I… you’re right. We both know what we can’t have, that our relationship can never be… complete. I want nothing more than to take Buffy in my arms and—“ He saw Giles’ jaw muscle twitch, and he wisely stopped. “Well. You know. But I’m happy to just hold her. Holding her is so much more than I ever thought I’d have. And she seems to feel the same way. But she shouldn’t! She shouldn't have to! She deserves—“
“Yes, she deserves everything. But she’s not going to get it, Angel. She’s going to die young. And she can do it with you at her side or on her own. It’s your choice. Know that if you leave now, her death will happen sooner, and it would not surprise me if she welcomed it.”
He looked up, relieved to see that Angel was listening to his words. He had been worried by Joyce Summers’ visit, knowing what effect a similar visit would have had on Angel. He wasn’t apprehensive for Angel’s sake, but rather for Buffy’s, as he knew how closely the couple’s moods were tied into each other.
“You do realize that each time you state that she deserves more than you, you are belittling her choices.”
Angel looked up, surprised, and Giles continued. “She loves you, and she has decided that you are best for her. Who are you to say—“
He was interrupted by a familiar laugh from the hallway. Just before the door opened, Giles said, “Don’t leave, Angel, unless you mean to break her heart.”
The door swung open, bringing in the two girls in the midst of a conversation.
“…I did like the green one though.”
“Really? You think I should have got that one instead? We can go back! Let’s go back. I’ll return this one and get the green one instead—”
“Will, no!” Buffy said with a laugh. “The one you got is—oh. Hello.”
“Hi, Angel!” Willow smiled at him, somewhat adoringly, and he couldn’t help but smile back.
“Hi, Willow. How are you?”
“I’m fine, thanks. We went to the mall to look for a prom dress for me, and I think the one we found is really nice, but Buffy says she liked this other green one that we saw. She already has a dress and it’s, um, gonna shut up now,” she murmured, catching Buffy’s quick glare. She turned to Giles, quickly engaging him in a conversation about which the Watcher looked bewildered, and Buffy stepped closer to Angel.
“Hey,” she murmured, reaching up to press a kiss to his lips. He rested his forehead against hers, the warmth of her body acting like a soothing balm to his troubled mind.
“You okay? Did you spend the day brooding?”
He gazed into her eyes. “Yes. I did. I won’t lie to you. And then I came over here and I brooded at Giles.”
“And?” she murmured, the slight tremble in her voice completely failing to hide her apprehension. He sighed, still unsure of everything.
“I love you, Buffy. I’m happiest at your side. If… if that’s where you want me, then that’s where I’ll stay.”
She sagged against him, her breath leaving her in a shuddering rush. Then, she punched him in the side. Not hard, but not lightly either.
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again!” she warned, throwing her arms around him and squeezing him until he grunted. “God, Angel. I can’t lose you again.”
“You won’t. I’m here. I’m staying here.”
They held each other for a moment more, and she raised her head to gaze into his eyes. With a mischievous smile she asked, “Ready to go patrol?” He nodded, his lips quirking up in a tiny smile; from the expression on her face it was clear she was far more interested in spending some private time with him—even if it was in a graveyard—than she was in chasing creatures of the night. She turned, clasping his hand in hers. “Hey, Giles, we’re gonna go out and stake us some vamps. Come on, Will, we’ll walk you home first.”
“That’s okay, but thanks, I don’t need it. Xander and Oz are meeting me here after they get back from the tux shop.”
Buffy turned to Angel. “You need a tux. Come on, we’ll stop by the tux shop on our way out. Bye!” she called, turning briefly to wave to Giles and Willow as she dragged Angel toward the library doors.
“For the prom.”
“Oh yes, the prom.”
“What do you mean, ‘oh yes, the prom.’ Don’t you wanna go? Don’t you wanna take me?”
Just before the door closed behind them, Angel glanced over his shoulder back into the library, a clear and heartfelt plea for help on his face. They could clearly hear Buffy’s voice, fading as the couple headed for the school’s main doors.
“Okay, ‘um’ is not the answer I’m looking for here, Angel…”
Willow turned to Giles. “Wow. I haven’t seen him look that scared since the last time he had a cross in his face!” she giggled. Giles smiled, but his smile faded when she asked, “Have you got your tux yet, Giles? Oh… that’s the same look Angel had!”
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