Disclaimer: None of the characters in Buffy belong to me (no matter how much I want them to), The entire slayage world belongs to Mutant Enemy and the WB.
This story takes place right after (and a little during) the episode "Angel." It contains some spoilers so beware. It's heavily romance oriented, and it's very introspective so if you like that kind of thing read on..no action at all.
by Rebecca Carefoot
Angel could hear himself speaking. The words seemed separate, unconnected to him. "You know this can't ever..." he trailed off trying to gather his strength.
"..be anything. I know." Buffy finished for him. He nodded wishing things could be different.
"I just have to walk away," he said. It sounded good, it sounded strong, it sounded like the right thing to do. So why did it have to hurt so much? Buffy nodded.
"One of us has to go here," she said. But neither of them could. Angel tried to walk away, his mind screamed that he had to turn away for both their sakes. But he couldn't help himself, his heart spoke louder. Without even realizing it the two were drawn together, attracted by a force stronger than common sense. Their lips met and the whole world dissappeared.
Angel knew that they were still in the Bronze, that the music was still playing, that she was still the slayer and he was still a vampire but in the span of that kiss nothing mattered;nothing but their love. Slowly eternity ticked by and the two separated.
"This is.." he started.
"Painful, I know," Buffy finished the thought. "I'll see you around," she said hopefully, a question in her voice. And then she left him standing there. Slowly the rest of the world came into focus. And it was painful, his chest was on fire from where her cross, the cross he had given her had burned its imprint into his chest. But that pain was nothing to the anguish he felt watching her walk away.
There had been other loves in his life. More than 200 years of loves. But there hadn't been anyone like this. Not since Darla had seduced him so long ago. Not since she had made him the monster he was. For the first time since he regained his soul Angel was actually happy to be a vampire. If he wasn't a vampire he could never have lived to meet Buffy. He almost chuckled at the bitter irony. The one thing that enabled him to live long enough to know her, to fall in love with her was the thing that kept them apart.
He watched her as she joined her friends at their table. He didn't belong here, he wasn't part of this world. With a sigh he turned and walked out of the Bronze. He'd see her around, he refused to let this thing die altogether. He just couldn't let go. He knew it was selfish, and it could end up being the death of both of them but he didn't care. *Oh yeah, I'll be around,* he thought. *You might never see me again but I'll be around.* Better to watch from a distance, to hide his love in the darkness that must always surround him. Better to watch from afar than to be the distraction that would doom her. The Master was coming, soon. He could feel it and if Buffy lost to the Master because she was too busy thinking about him he would never forgive himself.
Angel walked along the dark streets of Sunnydale, passing through an occasional spot of streetlamp created light. This was his world, the night. He did love the night with it's velvet darkness. He stared at the moon, so full it seemed impossible that it could hang under its own weight. He wanted to share this with her, to show her the beauty that was his world. But how could he? She was a creature of sunlight and laughter. She was light breezes and cool sunshowers. How could she understand the darkness? It was everything she hated.
He entered his small apartment, and stared a moment at the statue that sat calmly in its glass case. It was an ivory rendering of the Buddha. The calm meditative aura of the sculpture exuded peace, something Angel desperately needed. He collapsed with a groan onto his bed, covering his eyes with his hands. If only he could block out the world, block out the pain. If only he could stop feeling, stop loving. People say that love is the most wonderful feeling in the world. They had never been through anything like this. They had never felt a love like this. To love someone so much that it physically hurt not to be around them, and to be forced to stay away. He loved Buffy with every fiber of his being. He cared for nothing in the world the way he cared for her, but he couldn't be near her. If he was, he knew all his resolve would melt away, all his noble intentions, his self-sacrifice would fade under the light of her gaze.
He hadn't meant to fall in love. He had thought that all the love in him had long since dried up and disappeared, but he had been wrong. The moment he saw her he felt his heart stir, for the first time in forever. He had fallen, almost without realizing it. And he had lost himself in her eyes. He had known from the beginning that she could never love a vampire; he had tried to hide his feelings, to bury them deep within. But her face would pop unbidden into his mind, her voice would haunt his ears. He tired to stay away, but he was drawn to her like a moth to a bright burning flame. She was the sun that he could no longer see.
When he heard her accidental confession that she had feelings for him, his heart swelled. But that was before she found out the truth, before he had lost control and shown her his true face. Even then she didn't give up on their love. She had the chance to kill him, but she had listened to his story. She understood his curse, and pitied him for it. She had offered her life to him, trusting in his love enough to know that he could not harm her. Despite all that he writhed in doubt. She could not possibly love him. No one could love him for who he was. The beast was too much to accept and he would not ask it of her.
But, he couldn't leave it alone. He couldn't leave her alone. He had to see her, even if just for a second. He had to know she was alright. He had to follow her around, cloaked in friendly darkness, hidden by the night. He could not let her go, but he loved her too much to meet her face to face. He would protect her, love her from afar. And maybe someday, things would change...who knows what the future holds? All he had was the memory of love, a kiss enshrined in his heart forever, her eyes and the feelings he had seen reflected in them. He would hold onto a love, a longing he knew would last for centuries. All he had was hope, that one day they would find a way to be together.
Buffy&Angel // Rebecca Fic