Buried Alive has won a 2001 Halo Award :)

RATING: R, because there will be violence and some adult themes.
SPOILERS: anything up to All Men are Beasts
SUMMARY: Angel is back from Hell, but he didn't come back alone. I'm setting this right after All Men are Beasts...and I'm going to go off onto my own little timeline...so forget all you know about 3rd season post-All Men for the purposes of the story.
DISCLAIMER: I'm just playing with Joss Whedon, the WB and Fox's toys. I promise not to sell them, or break them.
Oh...lyrics by Billy Idol (otherwise known as the sexiest man alive :).
THANKS: Dare and Amy for being beta-goddesses.  NikitaB26 for refusing to let me procrastinate as much as I wanted to.

Don't you fear it
if that spirit
falls between the cracks
we'll go downward
but I'm no coward
you know I've been to hell and back

I don't know why
I feel I could cry
If you can't kill me I won't die
I'm buried alive

Buried Alive
-Billy Idol

Buried Alive

by: Rebecca Carefoot

Part One

Angel dropped to a crouch, a soft growl rumbling in his throat as he tried to figure out where he was. Trees surrounded him, crowding, leaves rustling. He tried to listen to the night, for noises in the dark. Noises meant fighting, or eating. He was hungry. The darkness was thick; it pushed against his eyelids when he closed them. He tried to keep his eyes open, but they felt heavy, as though the dark weighed them down.

Someone was coming. Someone always came. And there would be blood. Sometimes they hurt him. And sometimes he drank.

He rubbed his chin with the back of his hand, shifting his weight to the balls of his feet. His skin prickled. Someone was here.

He whirled, rising up out of his crouch with a snarl. Facing the intruder, his agitation calmed. His snarl turned into a satisfied rumble, almost a purr.


Her scent filled his nostrils, sweet and pure and powerful. Her body filled his vision, golden, soft and hard all at once. He cocked his head to the side, watching her quizzically. He wanted to bury his nose in her hair, touch her, claim her as his own. But he waited. At one time she had belonged to him. He remembered every curve of her body, every tone of her voice. She was burned in his memory.

But he didn't know if she was still his. He knew there was something he had done...or she had done. But he couldn't remember.

So he waited for her to make the first move, to claim him.

"Angel," she said, her eyes bright in the moonlight. He paused, brushing the side of his head against his shoulder in agitation, his eyes darting frantically from the ground to her face to the sky.

"Buffy," he finally said, as if it were the only word he knew. It was the only word that mattered. With a flurry of movement, she was in his arms. Her hands crept around his waist as he held her. She turned her head up, and he met her lips with his, claiming her with an urgent kiss. He inhaled her scent and gently nipped her lip with his teeth. Her hands roamed over his back, tracing patterns on the bare skin. He closed his eyes, feeling as though he were frozen. Having her with him felt so good it hurt. And then he winced as she tugged his lip into her mouth and bit down on it. The blood filled both their mouths, and Angel growled against her lips, feeling his face shift as his hunger roared. He yelped as her fingernails dug into his back, viciously tearing the skin.

He tried to break her hold on him, struggling against her deceptively slim arms. But she continued to hold him, squeezing him tightly. Too tightly. His arms were trapped; he could only move them helplessly against his sides or encircle her with them. He wrapped his arms around her and began to squeeze back, rage and fear battling within him. She hurt him; he would hurt her.

They sank to the ground, both refusing to let go, each squirming against the others grip. Then Angel jerked as he felt a sharp pain at his throat and realized her teeth were buried in his flesh. He screamed once and everything was black.

* * * * * *

Buffy sat on the stone floor with her back braced against the wall. She had been sitting there a long time. Exactly how long she wasn't sure, but the feeling had gone out of her legs. She should have been patrolling, or sleeping in her bed, or hanging out with her friends at the Bronze. Hanging out with Scott. She suppressed a groan. She should have been anywhere but here. And yet she had been sitting for hours, watching him.

He lay sprawled on the floor, dressed only in a pair of dirty greenish gray pants and an old, unlaced pair of brown boots. He moved in his sleep; little jerks shook his body. Sometimes she could hear him whimper. His agitation increased. She could tell that the dream which gripped him was not a pleasant one.

She wanted to go to him, crouch down next to his body or even lie on the floor beside him, fitting her body to his. She wanted to brush her hand over his shoulders, through his hair, touch his lips. She wanted to assure herself that he was real. And it had been so long since she last held him in her arms. She wanted to wake him and to comfort him. But she continued to sit with her back against the wall and her arms tightly crossed over her chest. She continued to watch him, weariness clutching at her but never drawing her into sleep.

She bit her lip as his whole body convulsed. A scream scraped its way out of his throat, raw and pained. She winced. He opened his eyes, panting instinctively in a physical reaction to his terror, though he did not need the breath. He swallowed hard, and his eyes darted around the room. In fear, confusion, she wasn't sure which, perhaps a little of both. They settled on her.

She wanted to look away, but she couldn't. She was trapped in his gaze, in the dark brown irises, in the past, in the fear and confusion. She felt her breath catch and realized suddenly that as her panic increased, his had stopped. He seemed to find some comfort in looking at her, and she was glad. She owed him that much.

"Angel," she said, when the silence between them was too much for her. His unbroken stare, filled with both fear of her and love for her at once, scared her with its intensity. It was a stare that spoke of his devotion to her despite her betrayal of him. She had saved the world, but she thought of it only as betrayal. He scared her. Because he meant remembering the past when she had started to let it go. He meant that the safe life she had been trying to live, with a sweet boyfriend and an untouched heart, would never be enough. He meant that already she felt herself almost consumed by the need she had always felt for him, the love she could never kill.

She didn't know how it was possible, how he could be here in front of her. When you sent a person to hell they usually stayed there. But he hadn't. He had come back. And she was so glad to see him, it made her want to scream or vomit and retch until the past was purged from her body. And she was so disrupted by his presence that she wanted him to leave. She had dealt with the pain of losing him, barely. She had shut him out, shut the pain out. But the pain of having him back was something she had never expected. Having him back only meant that she might have to do it all again. If she let herself love him, only to lose him again, she didn't think she would be able to stand it this time. Not again.

He sat up, crouching. His head was bowed, and the backs of his hands swiped at his chin, his ear. Still watching her. She wondered what he was thinking.

"Angel, can you understand me?" she asked quietly. She didn't know why he was the way he was. He was like an animal. Not like the intelligent, sensitive, strong man he used to be. And yet, he was like that man. Underneath.

Or maybe she was fooling herself. Maybe they were false hopes that would only lead to the ruin of everyone she loved. Maybe she was clinging to this stupid hope, when the truth was her Angel was gone forever. Maybe she should admit to herself that she would never get him back, and that the longer she deluded herself, the more likely it was that he would run off and kill one of her friends.

She looked away from him, down at her hands, and saw that she had broken the skin of her right palm with her fingernails. It was bleeding just enough to smear her hands with red.

She heard movement. He was crawling toward her, hunger in his eyes. A low growl built in his throat, but his face remained human. Buffy forced herself to sit still. Of course he was hungry. She hadn't thought to bring him any blood. She ordered herself to stop at the butcher's before she came by the next time. And she suddenly knew there would be a next time and a next, and as many times as it took for him to remember who he was.

She hesitated for a moment over what to do. Run to the butcher's now? Chain him up again? He had crawled to her side and was now squatting in front of her. Waiting. Almost against her own will, she extended her bloody hand to him. He sniffed at it, then gently licked it with a soft stroke of his tongue. She shivered, closing her eyes against the longing for his touch and the fear that coursed through her when she heard his growls. His tongue lapped at her hand again, drawing a wet trail from her finger tips to her wrist. After two more licks, he stopped. She opened her eyes.

The blood was gone, leaving only four semicircular marks which were already healing. And he was squatting on his heels. Still waiting.

For what? she wondered. And then it registered that she had not been bitten. She stretched out her hand and cautiously touched the side of his face, hovering near trust. She ran her fingertips over the familiar cheekbones and jawline. He moved his head, brushing his face against her hand like a cat. He was purring, sort of, in a contented growl sort of way. She smiled a little at the thought of a giant hairless kitten with fangs.

He nuzzled at her hand again and inched closer to her. She kept from withdrawing her hand, and even moved forward a little herself. His hand snaked out, and his fingers ran over her forehead, her lips, her cheeks. She closed her eyes, and his touch ran lightly over her eyelids. And then his fingers were in her hair, twining. She felt him move closer, but kept her eyes closed. It was easier to just feel. Just this once. She moved her hand from his face and blindly reached for him. Her fingers came in contact with his shoulder, and she ran her hand over his chest and around his back. He shuddered, and then his face was in her hair, and his hands glided over her arms.

She brought her other arm up and held him, just enjoying the feel of him next to her. His shoulder was wet where she rested her head. She was crying. The taste of brine was on her lips, on his shoulder. She was crying, and it didn't even hurt to do it. Not when she was holding on to him, not when she had him in her arms so he couldn't get away. His arms encircled her, and she curled herself within them.

She wanted to look at him. But she didn't want to open her eyes. If she did, she was afraid she might find it wasn't real. Or maybe she was afraid that it was.