disclaimer in part one
Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can't you understand
Oh my little girl
All I ever needed
All I ever wanted
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
-Enjoy the Silence
by: Rebecca Carefoot
Angel lay on the ground in the middle of the woods, the dirt beneath him hard against his back. There were some leaves piled on the ground, but they did little to cushion his body. He was underneath a group of bushes, their short leafy branches making a spiky canopy above him. He could see the stars through the branches. Spots of light in the vast darkness. He felt a surge of fear, an uneasiness which would not dissipate. Slowly he realized that something was wrong. The confusion of night noises which should have filled the forest were absent. The woods were completely silent.
He felt a weight against his chest and looked down. Time seemed slower than normal; his body moved sluggishly. A small golden head rested against his chest. He inhaled deeply, and her scent clung to his nostrils. He smiled.
He tightened his grip, realizing for the first time as he did so that his arms encircled her slim frame. She was so small in his grasp. She looked fragile. But he knew she was strong, stronger than anything he had seen before. One of her hands lay on his stomach, lax, slightly curled in on itself.
She was so still. Like a lump of flesh, drained. He shook the thought away. It was just the silence that made his stomach turn in sudden dread.
She was cold. He held her closer, though he knew he had no heat to give her. The forest air was humid, but it must have chilled her. She was not used to the wilderness the way he was. She thought and moved in more complicated patterns than the ones he followed.
Angel whined uncomfortably. Everything seemed wrong. The hair on the back of his neck rose up, and his body tensed. But how could anything be wrong? He was with her, his mate. His Buffy.
He inhaled again, needing her scent to calm him, to drive away his fears. But her scent only agitated him farther. She smelled of herself, of wildness and sweetness, of strength and light. But also of blood, and of decay. She smelled of death.
He sat up, denying the knowledge his mind was beginning to force upon him. His body did not want to let go. He pulled her to him, propping her form up against his chest so she sat with him. Her eyes were closed. He suddenly longed to see them, their mix of blue and green which shifted from one color to the other, never allowing him to capture the color in his mind and memorize it. He shook her gently, his teeth clenched as he willed her to open her eyes. They stayed closed.
She was so still, and so cold, and so small in his arms with her eyes closed.
He heard himself keening and began to panic. He shook her again, harder and harder. Her head lolled back and forth, her body moved limply with his motion. He smelled salt, and felt tears on his hands, saw through blurred eyes as his tears wet her hair.
A deep howl escaped his lips, and another grew in his throat to replace it. He threw his head back to the stars, his grief shrieking from him in deep, painful gasps. He gathered her up into his arms and held her tightly against his chest, howling his loss to the sky as he rocked her back and forth.
* * * * * * *
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!"
The shouted words jerked Buffy awake. She lay still, sorting out her confusion and felt Angel stir next to her. He cried out in his sleep and tightened his grip on her, then his eyes popped open; and he too was awake. She blinked uncertainly, shifted in Angel's arms and looked around for the source of the noise.
Xander stood near the door, his jaw clenched angrily, his knuckles white where he gripped a brown bag with fury-tightened fingers. Buffy pulled away from Angel's grasp, ignoring his growled protest, and stood up. She smoothed her hands over the sides of her skirt a little guiltily, then silently admonished herself for that guilt. She hadn't done anything wrong.
"I was sleeping," she said calmly, finally answering his shouted question.
"With a killer," he bit back, the words sharp and hard in his mouth.
"Angel isn't like that anymore," she countered, still attempting to remain calm. She could see Angel moving out of the corner of her eyes and hoped he would behave. He stalked restlessly back and forth, reaching the end of his chain each time before he turned. The links clinked against the floor, audibly snapping taut each time he reached the end of the slack.
"Uh huh," Xander said, unconvinced. "Let's just ignore the Tarzan imitation he's doing over there. And let me remind you of what caused him to lose his soul in the first place? Remember that? Remember how he killed a bunch of people?"
Buffy clenched her jaw, and her hands tightened into fists. The click of Angel's chain behind her tapped out an irregular rhythm of impatience and barely restrained violence. She could almost feel a similar chain around her own wrist, its links clinking together as she twisted her hand in the material of her skirt.
"I remember everything," she said, her voice dangerously soft.
"Yeah, well then what the hell were you doing sleeping in his arms?" Xander exploded. He advanced toward her, but stopped short when Angel hunched his back and began to snarl, his slitted eyes glittering with violent promise.
"He needs me," Buffy said, keeping her voice steady through an effort of will.
"Oh, is that it?" Xander asked, his voice lowering insidiously. "So we're just supposed to stand aside and let you sleep with a killer because 'he needs you'?"
"You're supposed to trust me!" Buffy exclaimed, her voice beginning to rise. "I'm not an idiot! I would never put you guys in danger. All I did was lie down next to him and fall asleep. Since when is that a crime?"
"Ever since killing Miss. Calendar and who knows how many others was a crime," Xander snapped.
"And here you go, bringing up Miss. Calendar again." Buffy took a step closer to the dark haired boy. "Every chance you get, mention her death. Never mind the fact that you weren't even close to her. Never mind the fact that Willow and Giles lost a hundred times more than you did when she died. Never mind that it hurts them every time you mention her name or her murder. No, none of that matters because you are Xander, the avenger of all wrongs Angelus committed. Xander, the self-righteous. Xander the completely insensitive and most selfish person I've ever known!" Buffy ended her volley of words screaming, her fists tight by her side. Dimly she heard Angel pulling at his chain behind her, agitated by her outburst. Constant, low growling rumbled from his throat.
"You're calling me selfish?" Xander asked in disbelief. He stepped closer to Buffy, his face closer to hers than necessary. "You're the one who put us in danger every night he roamed free." He pointed at Angel, and Angel snapped at the air in his direction, still pulling at his chain. "You're the one who cared more about your own feelings than about the lives of everyone you were supposed to care about. You're the one who ran away and left us because you were so wrapped up in your own pain, your own little world, that you didn't even think what it would mean to us if you left."
"You've never felt what I have, Xander," Buffy hissed, resisting the urge to grab him by the collar and shake him until his teeth rattled in his head. "You have no IDEA how much pain I've felt. You've never had to go through anything even remotely like what I have. You've never died. You've never put the world before yourself every night. You've never had to kill the person you love most because of your duty. Until you do those things, you have no right to judge me."
"No, I've never been the Slayer," Xander agreed. He narrowed his eyes, then continued in a hiss. "But at least I've also never been a vampire's whore."
Buffy felt white hot rage explode behind her eyes and a load roaring filled her ears. She wasn't sure how much of it was in her head and how much came from Angel, who snarled and roared like an enraged animal. Before she had time to think, her fist flew up and slammed into Xander's nose. He fell backwards with the force of the blow, landing hard on his backside, blood streaming from his nostrils. His eyes were wide with shock, and he dropped the bag he held, using the hand instead to clutch his damaged nose. He glared at Buffy from his place on the floor, and Angel pulled harder at his chain.
"Great, Buffy," Xander muttered. "You're the Slayer, and I'm not. Want to hit me again to make sure? Break my nose in another place? It's not going to change the fact that you're protecting a murderer and sleeping with a demon."
"If you call me a whore, I'll break your face," she answered coldly. "That's the new rule. So shut the hell up."
"Look at him for God's sake," Xander demanded in exasperation. Buffy turned and saw that Angel had vamped out some time during the fight. His eyes gleamed yellow under a heavy lidded glare, and his lips curled back from bared fangs. If she had to make a guess, she'd say the change had occurred when her own anger had driven her to attack.
"He was just trying to protect me," she said. "And I'm sure the smell of the blood isn't helping."
"Damn it," Xander said weakly, tilting his head back to try to stop the blood flow from his nose. "Is he looking at my neck?" Buffy shook her head, no. But when she glanced again at Angel she hesitated. The look his dark eyes held as he watched Xander seemed full of barely hidden images of blood and torn flesh.
"I'm just trying to keep you from making a huge mistake. Why can't you see that?" Xander asked, taking a deep breath.
"And I'm trying to tell you that you can't run my life," Buffy said more gently. "I'm a big girl, Xander. I can take care of myself, and I can make my own decisions. Angel is my responsibility, and I am going to deal with it."
"His being here affects all of us," Xander argued. "It's not just your decision."
Buffy made a discouraged noise in the back of her throat and shrugged off her frustration. "Stay here," she ordered. She hurried into the other room and found a dress in Drusilla's trunk. She tore a few long strips from the black satin material, then returned to Xander and Angel. Xander was eyeing the vampire warily, anger and fear playing over his face as he watched the vampire attempting to escape his bonds. Buffy hurried to Xander and helped him use the cloth to stop the blood flow from his nose. Angel rumbled jealously, ran his tongue over his teeth and snapped at the air in Xander's direction.
Buffy pulled away once Xander had the cloth in place. "I'm sorry I hit you," she said after a moment of hesitation.
"Well, I shouldn't have called you a whore," Xander grudgingly acknowledged.
"What are you even doing here?" Buffy asked abruptly.
"Well, I was trying to bring the blood you asked for," Xander answered, emphasizing the word trying.
"I guess you know better than to try that again," Buffy said with a small smile.
"I'm a slow learner," Xander answered, his own lips curving up as well. Buffy picked up the bag, and pulled a large plastic cup full of blood from inside. She stared at the dark liquid for a moment, then looked at Xander questioningly.
"Are you going to stay?"
"You mean to watch him...eat?"
"Yeah, because you don't have to if it's too weird." Buffy paused, then continued when she heard Angel shift behind her. "Anyway it's kind of personal."
"I'm staying," Xander declared, his eyes hardening. Buffy shrugged and studied the cup in her hands.
She approached Angel slowly, not sure how he would react to the smell of blood, especially since he was already agitated. He watched her, his head tilted slightly. His eyes were curious and eager. When she was close enough she extended the cup. Immediately, he snatched it from her hands and retreated until his back was against the wall. He glowered at Xander defensively, hunching himself over the blood protectively.
Too late, Buffy realized she should have taken the plastic cap off the cup before she gave it to him. Then his teeth bit into the top and side of the container. He tore a chunk of Styrofoam and plastic from the cup and spat it to the side. She forced herself to watch as he sucked at the liquid, gulping and swallowing noisily. He drank as if starving, which he probably was. And as if he was afraid someone would snatch the cup from his hand or challenge his right to it, which he also probably was. Somehow the sight of him feeding became less disgusting and more sad while she watched. She wondered how long it had been since he had eaten.
When the cup was empty, Angel studied it carefully for any missed drops. Then he looked hopefully around the room for more. He still growled over the empty container, clutching it with both hands and eyeing Xander with suspicion. But slowly his growling lessened, and he threw the cup on the floor carelessly. His back humped, his head thrust outward, and he crouched against the wall.
"That was certainly educational," Xander said flippantly. "He definitely seems more like a human being to me now."
"Xander, shut up," Buffy said, too tired to deal with his sarcasm. He studied her silently for a moment, his gaze softer and more serious than normal.
"Look, you know how I feel about this," he said finally. "And I know you're never going to listen to me. So I'm going to try to trust you with him, because I need to not miss my physics test." He hesitated, catching Buffy's eyes with his own. "Just...try not to sleep with him, okay? And find him a shirt or something." Buffy smiled, and he returned the smile cautiously.
"You can yell at me more later," she promised.
"Yeah, I will," he agreed. "Just as long as you don't get to hit me again." He touched the side of his swollen nose gingerly. He smiled again to show her he was joking and hurried outside, not wanting to see how tenderly she looked at the vampire who was chained to the wall like a dog. He didn't understand it, and he doubted he ever would.
Buffy heard the door shut, but her attention had already returned to Angel. It only took a little while for him to begin moving away from the wall towards her. Like a magnet, he yearned for physical contact with his other half. He was drawn to her as if the connection between them was a law of nature, impossible to resist, ridiculous to deny. She noticed that his wrist was bleeding again. The manacle had scraped it raw from the strength of his desire to free himself. She walked toward him, holding one hand out to calm him and clutching a strip of fabric in the other.
He remained still, not even flinching when she twisted the cloth over the raw, scraped skin. He only watched as she tied the bandage firmly in place, her fingertips lingering a moment too long on his skin. He drew in a breath of her scent. And then she pulled away. He whined deep in his throat, but she did not come any closer.
She needed to be more careful around him. She wasn't afraid that he would hurt her. She trusted him completely. But she didn't trust herself around him. It was too easy to be close to him, to touch him and hold him. It was too easy for closeness to lead to...other things. She backed up until she reached the wall directly opposite his crouching form, and then she sat with her back pressed against the stone and watched him.