Stupid Things

By Sweetprincipale

Completely AU. There are people who get inside you. That you love, that you get angry with, but they're still your person. The person who, no matter what they ask, and how much you say no, you will end up doing anything for them. Buffy and William have that kind of relationship as they grow up. Is there anything that can change it?

Author's Note: This story is told in a series of moments, sometimes minutes apart, sometimes months apart. Page breaks denote the shift in time.

Dedicated to Illusera, Omslagspapper, Kitakana, AGriffinWriter, Rihannon, sgclevel28, The Darkness Befalls, TieDyeJackson, Sirius120, micmoc, Ginar369, and xxtheTwistedSisterxx.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part V

"You're a Watcher." Buffy announced her presence at Wesley's flat the next day with this obvious statement, then pushed past him into the apartment.

Wesley blinked. "Don't tell me you've finally noticed." He said, sarcasm in his clipped tones.

"You have contacts and stuff. You get info about demons and bad guys and where the 'vamps to watch' are."

"Yes. Yes, I do, but I have to report Sunnydale seems almost uncharacteristically quiet this summer."

Thank God, 'cause I'm too busy for slaying and doing the save-my-boyfriend program. "Great, great. So um- Angel? Angelus? You remember him?"

"Oh dear Lord, no. Please, no. Don't take up with that chap again. The Council has a very strict policy on dating demons. It's not allowed."

"Yeah, well, you work for the Council, not me. You don't date anyone evil and you're good to go." Buffy wiped her perspiring brow and helped herself to a glass of orange juice from his refrigerator as he stared at her with perplexed disapproval. " Look, I don't want to date him, but he's... we have a history. It's been a couple months, I thought I'd see how he was doing." And ask him to verify the Princess of Darkness actually wasn't making up a fairytale, actually explained the teeny little loophole that might let Will become a vampire, without becoming the demon's shell.

"I forbid it! I- I unequivocally forbid you from contacting him! Oh, I'm no stranger to this. You think it ended amicably enough, you'll meet for coffee, then you'll call her the next day... Before you know it you're having a row in a wine bar in the middle of Mayfair!"

Buffy crossed her arms and slowly shook her head. "Project much?"

Wesley coughed. "Hrm. Don't try to reconnect with an ex. It doesn't go well. I know you refuse to listen to me as a Watcher, but you might listen to me as someone who's been humiliated enough to be absolutely delighted about accepting a job in a different country." He gave her a rueful shrug.

"Right. Well..." Buffy wracked her brain for a plausible excuse. She failed. "He- uh- he has my favorite crossbow and some of my CDs. I just want to call him and ask him to send them back. Maybe say hi, make sure he didn't kick the bucket, but that's it." That's completely lame.

Wesley seemed to speak lameness. He grudgingly nodded. "Oh. Well, yes, I'm sure I can find out for something as simple as that. But I'll be watching you, Miss Summers. If you suddenly decide to go off on a trip to his location, I shall know of it."

We'll cross that bridge when we get there. Please don't let it be somewhere far away. Will's not supposed to fly now, and I'm broke. "Just a simple phone call." She lied with a winning smile.

When he called her the next day and gave her the address- no phone was listed, she didn't really feel bad about lying. It was for William.

"Buffy!" Angel almost grabbed her and kissed her. He almost slammed the door in her face. Unable to decide, he held onto the door and seemed to shield himself with it for a second before stepping forward. "Uh. Hi! Come in- no, no I'll come out." He hastily swung the door shut and met her in the basement foyer of his building. "This is a... surprise."

"Yeah, I know." She looked at her hands for a moment before plastering a tense smile on her face. "Sorry, I didn't call first. I didn't get a number."

"I don't have one yet. It's -" It wasn't exactly good to see her. It was painful to see her. She looked somehow pained as well. "Is something wrong?"

You have no idea. "Actually, um, I'm working with the new Watcher. He's surprisingly human - at times." She chuckled uncomfortably and Angel allowed himself a half-grimace. "He heard something- just some rumors maybe, from a vampire, but a vampire would be the only one who could really tell us if those rumors are true, and it'd have to be a vampire with some actual knowledge, someone who's been around, someone who comes from a line, a long line, y'know, like the Master's line, and uh- well, I was thinking, who do I know that could help me get some answers?" Buffy finished her marathon sentence with a nervous

He unscrambled her sentence. "Oh. So you thought of me?" Angel blinked. It had been awhile since she just rambled away at him. He'd forgotten how utterly adorable he found it. He got a tender look in his eye- then replaced it with skepticism. "You don't research unless there's a major attack coming. That's Giles' department."

"I slay, he sends out the to-kill list, I know, but this thing Wesley mentioned was really interesting and worth checking out." Buffy hedged.

"Interesting enough for you to drive two hours to the not so great part of LA?" She's not over us, yet. I know how she feels. His hands curled into fists to prevent himself from clinging to her. We have to be strong. We have to end this, clean and quick. I tried that. Tried. "Buffy, I know it's hard to let go of someone you love, but sometimes it has to be done."

How'd he know? "Who told you?"

"Told me? Buffy, of course I know! Walking away from you was the hardest thing I've ever done." He clutched his heart. "And I battled my way out of hell. I would rather do that again, than let you go."

Her heart gave a nostalgic aching twist, and she tried not to be snared by the depths of his beseeching, soulful eyes. Familiar pain. Unsettling to realize that some part of her liked the bittersweet taste. "Wow. Angel, that's so-"

"But we can't get back together." He said in a rush.

Buffy jerked her words to a halt. "Huh? We?"

"Yes, us!"

"Why does everyone think I want to get back together with you?" Buffy cried, exasperated.

"Where's Buffy?" Wesley asked suspiciously, peering into the first Watcher's flat.

"Los Angeles." Giles grudgingly welcomed him in, handing him a thick, gilt-edged volume. "Here's the book you wanted. While you're here, do you happen to have a copy of-"

"Why did she go there?" Wesley demanded, and then didn't give Giles a chance to answer. "I warned her against it, you know! Oh, I warned her, but would she listen? She's headstrong, that's the trouble."

Giles raised an eyebrow slowly. "You warned her not to go see her father?"

"Of course I -Pardon?"

Giles spoke slowly. "Her father. Lives in Los Angeles. She goes there every summer." He snapped his fingers. "Oh, that's right. This is your first summer as her Watcher. And you haven't bothered to find out anything about her."

Wesley looked sulkily offended. "She didn't happen to mention her plans, that's all."

"She never does... to you." He was quite enjoying this. More than he should. He stole a small moment of pleasure in being the girl's favorite as he pretended to pick lint off his polo shirt.

"I think we're making headway. She did consult me about a little personal matter the other day." Wesley confided.

Giles found that odd in the extreme. Buffy had two settings with Wesley, ignore and aggravate. Confide was not on the list. "Really? What was that?"

His face turned red as he listened to the poorly concocted tale Buffy had spun for the naive new Watcher. "You fool! Are you blind?" He burst out at the end of the explanation.

Wesley's face fell. Clearly this was not simply a matter of rekindling a bad romance. "What? Why should I-"

"Don't you know when you're being used, you great idiot? William!" He bellowed. "William, get down here right now!"

"I thought he'd jump on you the second I left." Angel muttered, fussing at a small kettle and meager supply of tea, things he kept for his occasional visits from his lone friend-messenger, Doyle.

"Well, you were wrong. I jumped on him- kinda sorta after you dumped me. Without the actual jumping, but you know..."

Angel's reflexes saved him from dropping the mug- barely. "Oh. Right. I mean- you know, that's a good thing. Moving on." He nodded bravely, forcing some conviction into his words.

Buffy sighed. "I don't think I'm ever 'moving on' from you, Angel. You will alway be the first big love, first big loss, first - all the firsts. You're a good man. You're a noble man. With the sacrificial love and stuff like that."

"How mature of you." He tried not to sound huffy, really quite mollified by the 'good man, noble man' reference.

I'm only being mature because there's something bigger at stake. "Actually, I'm looking for less maturity. Go figure. Someone in my age range." He'll be twenty when he dies- no, turns. Twenty going on twenty five, with the way his face got so hard, so fast, sharper planes, deeper shadows- such a good guy, with a bad boy face. "I think I like my guys a little big bad, too." She admitted with a shrug. "Maybe there's only room for one fateful, destiny-sucks warrior in my life, and that's me."

"Yeah. Could be." Angel put the tea in front of her. "So this is 'rumor Wesley heard' is actually stuff Drusilla told William when she captured him?"

"Yes." Buffy was relieved to get to the purpose of her visit, as well as not to keep spinning out a pretty unbelievable lie. Sad that Angel and I as used to keeping back information as we are sharing it...

"Then you don't have to waste your time 'researching'. I wouldn't believe anything she said about vampires, Buffy. Or anything he heard, anything he told you." Angel started off dismissively.

"Why's that? You still think he's 'dangerous'?" She snorted into the steamy cup.

"No, I think Drusilla has thrall and that he had massive blood loss. When a demon has thrall, they can distort anything you hear or see. Add in some bleeding-out, near death experience, maybe a couple visions, and you have a lot of bad information."

Worry gnawed at her. Momentarily. "She didn't have to thrall him, Angel. Will knew everything she was doing. Yeah. Everything." Angel appeared to be gearing up for a protest and she prevented it. "I mean everything. We don't keep secrets."

So she knew about the moments in the tunnel. Did William know everything about her, as well? "He knows you're here?"

"Duh." Buffy rolled his eyes. "No secrets. I just said that."

"Oh." He never realized how much she could annoy him, under all the petite, innocent blondness. "Fine," he gave in grudgingly, "what do you want to check?"

"If a person were to get bit by a vampire, get turned, when does the demon take over them?"

"When they wake up. Rise." He frowned. That was basic slayer knowledge. What was going on here?

"What happens?"

"When you rise?" He gave her a baffled, "I can't believe I have to explain this to you" look. "Well, in my experience, you wake up in your best suit and stiffest pair of shoes, buried in a little Irish churchyard reserved for the landed gentry, and you claw your way out, starving and out of your mind, drunk on a rush of superhuman power, and of course, looking for your sire."

"Sire? Darla."

"In my case. My demon is her demon's offspring, or mate, they're related, however you want to work it out. Your demon has one need- kill and drink a life force before you go raving mad with hunger. Your sire keeps you from eating a random passerby and getting set ablaze by the townsfolk." His Irish brogue appeared, ever so briefly.

"Your sire tells you who to kill?"

"Not specifically- usually." He looked deeply pained. "Darla knew me too well. She sent me straight home to feed. The demon goes that route anyway, once it's calmer, once it's not starving. It'll kill everything that reminds you that you were ever human."

Buffy listened to him speak, watching him go farther away, into a black place that scared her for multiple reasons, imagining Angel as Angelus, and imagining William coming after the people he loved best. Giles. Her mother. Willow and Oz. Her. "I meet a lot of recently turned vamps in my line of work." Buffy broke into his bleak recollections. "I don't typically see sires waiting around graves with little 'welcome to the afterlife' balloons."

"Those aren't real sires." Angel scoffed. "Those are fledges who drank too much and remember their own deaths, making new vamps and wandering off, leaving them to do the same thing in a day or two." He shook his head in disgust. "Amateurs."

Buffy sorted the aggravated master vamp out from the information. "Got it. Sire is a big deal, no sire equals stupidity and chaos." She licked her lips. "What happens- if they don't kill anyone? At all?"

"You mean anyone they know?"

"No. Anyone. Drusilla said a vampire can't help it. They have to 'pay the demon its due'. Give it a life, for the life it gives."

Angel rolled his eyes. "The Master or The Immortal probably told her that, even Darla. I never paid attention to the rules. The kill happens, and it's how you lead up to it that matters."

"Well, I killed the Master, you killed Darla, and I have no idea who the hell the Immortal is, so try to help me out here." Buffy said tensely.

"Why does it matter? A vampire kills. You kill them first, you're the Slayer, you save innocent people." Angel shook his head at her adamancy.

"I'm asking what happens if you don't feed the demon!" Buffy slammed her mug down so hard it cracked.

He shouted back. "You have to! There's no choice, Buffy! Vampires need blood. If they don't feed, they wither up, but never die. No one can resist it. I have a soul and I still fed!"

"Not feeding! Killing! Taking a life! If the demon doesn't get offered the life-" she calmed down slightly, lowering her voice, "but the demon gets fed, has enough to 'live' on... what happens?"

Angel answered her question with a question, a wave of foreboding drenching him. "Who's been turned, Buffy? Is it Willow? Giles?"

"No one." No one yet.

"Drusilla told him the truth. The demon gets its due. That's the end of the story. There isn't another outcome. You can't make a 'tame' vampire, that you keep on a chain and give it regular feedings." Their glances locked, then hurriedly parted, unwilling to remember the week she had done exactly that, for him. "I had a soul." He whispered quietly.

"I know you did. I'm just wondering- when does it leave? When you die? Because- you drink before you die. The demon enters your body, before your heart stops, or else you couldn't drink your sire's blood. You have to be alive enough to swallow." She and Will sat up all night, many nights, arguing this, reading Vampyre and everything else they could borrow from Giles, making lists, diagrams, even charts Willow would've been proud of. They all ended up with questions left unanswered. "So." She breathed in deeply, then let it out slowly, trying not to shake. "There's a point where the person is still alive- and has the demon in them. They die- but they're already 'undead', just waiting to rise. When does the soul go? When does the demon take over?"

"And the real question is, why does it matter, Buffy?"

No. No, you can't say, he told me not to say, I told me not to say, this is a bad idea. "William's dying."

"You're scared. I am too." Giles said earnestly. William didn't reply. "And you watched your mother pass. This isn't fair to you, but then again... life isn't fair." He recited hollow platitudes to his scowling nephew now that the two of them were alone. "You aren't making it easier, however."

"How'm I gonna do that, then, Bertie?" Will struck a match off the edge of his shoe.

"For one thing, stop speaking like some thug, and stop smoking." He grabbed the cigarette, hot end first, barely wincing as he squashed it out between thumb and forefinger.

Tough old bugger. Will rolled his eyes, "I'm not Oxford educated, like you."

"You could've been, but you wouldn't put in the application." Giles reminded him.

"And looks like it doesn't mean a bloody thing, now, does it?"

Silence. "What you're trying to do... is something I considered trying to do. For your father. For your mother. Do you know why I didn't?"

"You've seen vamps most of your life and you know they're evil murderin' demons?"

"That's most of it. You recall the little incident we had with Eyghon?"

"The cool tattoo turned out not so cool, yeah, I remember that." William snorted.

"I've been inhabited by a demon. I've watched what I brought forth kill people. People I loved. The only saving grace in that whole ordeal was at least it didn't look like me at the time. Mind you, seeing my old college friends turn up, decaying, trying to infect me, watching a demon rip through their skins was nearly as bad." He spoke so calmly, reflectively. It belied all the passion in his eyes, all the entreaty and warning he gave the boy that had become a son to him. "Do you ever think what it'll be like for me, for Buffy, when those beautiful blue eyes- Anna's eyes, turn yellow and you try to bite us?"

"I thought you were the smartest man I ever met." William pushed back his chair, limbs shaking just enough to be noticeable. "You think I'm heartless, and selfish, scared to die? Well... yeah, fine, I can be all those things. I can also be brave, an' sick of death beatin' up my family, whittlin' us down one by one. Sick of it beatin' up my best friend, the girl I loved since the day I watched her eyes light up when she read my poems. That's right. She liked my writing. My singin', too." He said wonderingly. Then the voice turned harsh again. "That girl who had to kill her first boyfriend, first true love-and what about you? You buried your grandparents, your parents, almost every friend you've ever had, your sister and your brother-in-law. You got some kind of urge for pain, Rupes? You so keen to put me in a box?"

"If I did not love you so much, I would punch you, flat out, for that." Giles seethed, standing as well. Two proud men, so different but so alike in many ways, both near breaking points, circled slowly, eyes locked.

"Look, here's the bottom line. I'm gonna try this, because it's a long shot, but it's the only shot I've got. If- if it doesn't work- you have a Slayer, a Witch, an' a Watcher who've killed a lot better than a scrawny fledge like I'll be. I figure, if you do love me- like you say you do... you can give me this. If I'm a monster, then you're killin' a monster, no matter that it looks like me, I won't blame you, an' eventually you'll stop blamin' yourselves. you'll know you all told me not to, but I wouldn't listen. But what if I'm able to hold onto myself? Then you'll have me for years, not just a few more weeks. I figure- you could give me two days on a gamble for another couple years, maybe more."

Giles' knuckles were white in tightly balled fists. "That's what you figure, is it?"

"I'm gonna die either way. I gotta long shot chance to come back. Say you'll bet on me?"

His uncle seemed to deflate, knees buckled, hands unclenched, spine rubberized and he sank onto the couch, catching his weary head in his hands. "This is the most dangerous, most asinine, riskiest thing I've ever heard you say- and I've known you your entire life."

"Buffy's behind me."

Giles laughed with a note of hysteria in his voice. "That doesn't surprise me. She'd follow you through fire and water."

"I'd do the same thing for her."

"I can't condone this."

"You don't have to. You just have to promise not to stop me from tryin'."

"I don't think I could." The broken man held out his hand to the dying one. "I hope, for all our sakes, that this works."

"You can't do it. Even if there was a way to keep him from becoming ruled by the demon, who would do it? You'd have to find a vamp who's looking to turn, not to kill. Most vamps are pretty picky about that, Buffy. You're making someone you wouldn't mind having around for a couple centuries, in your pack, and they'll be backing you up. Loyalty can go both ways, though it's definitely more one-sided. Sire loyalty will always win, but we still feel protective of our- of the ones we make." He hastily glossed over that thought, the memory of a thousand misplaced instincts that had caused him to let Drusilla go time after time. "Unless of course it's just a stupid fledge, turning because he thinks it's what you do. It'd have to be someone who wouldn't hurt him too much beforehand. How would you know that the vamp you picked was safe enough? Are you going to sit down with random vamps in Sunnydale before you stake them? Give them little interviews? 'How would you like a job? Say no and I'll kill you.'"

Though the information he provided was already something she'd considered, it was certainly spelled out more clearly and frighteningly than ever as he hectored on and on at her. Buffy hesitated before answering the bombastic brunette. "It would have to be a vampire we know."

Her tentative wording didn't matter. He caught the unasked question in her pause. "No! No, I am not going to do this!"

"It's not killing, it's- transforming!"

"It's taking a human life and I'm not doing it! I will not create a monster, not one more. I know you think William is some super special guy, that he might be the one person in the history of the world who could get turned but not change- but you're wrong. He won't be someone you love anymore- and he won't love you back." Angel said heavily. He reached out to grip her shoulder. "You have to have a soul to love. Vampires. Can't. Love. Without. A. Soul." He ground out.

She shrugged off his hand. Sometimes the truth doesn't matter as much as the person you'd lie yourself into hell for. "Then someone with a soul, who is supposed to love me, should help me save my best friend." Buffy argued fiercely.

"It isn't helping you, Buffy, it's hurting you more, later. Love means doing what's best for you. You're-" He echoed Joyce's words, "You're like any other young woman in love. You have such a good heart, and you think this is what you have to do. To make it work, even if-"

"You already did this speech when you broke up with me. Will and I are aren't quitting, so save it." She hissed, cutting him off.

He flung his hands up in angry exasperation. "Buffy, you this is just- just stupid!" For lack of any better term... He had no idea why she should suddenly laugh like that, a heart wrenching sound, a "can't tell whether to laugh or cry" sound.

"You know, I suddenly get my life." She put a hand to her temple as revelation suddenly dawned. "I get why he's the one. My whole life? Is stupid. Take a teenager who can use a curling iron better than a crossbow and make her a slayer. Stupid choice. Give me a Watcher so stiff I couldn't even think of him as a person for half a year, but tell me to trust my life to him. Stupid." Her words gained strength, her legs began to move, backing him into a corner with small, angry steps, but the steps kept coming. "Let me trust him, let him love me, and then- fire him, because he's not some sub-human advisor anymore. So stupid."


"Fall in love with a vampire with a soul, but who can lose it if you ever make him truly happy? Stupid. Funny, the heart does a lot of stupid things. Love that vamp when he's evil, try to save him, fail, try to mourn him, start to move on- and he shows up again? Maybe not stupid, but boy was it hard. Then let him break your heart a second time?"

"Stupid?" He supplied, wincing away from her torrent of words.

"You're actually listening to me. Good. Wanna know the one person who never, ever questions what I decide to do, whether it's a good idea or not? William. I owe him the same thing. He believes in me. I believe in him. Maybe that's stupid, too. I don't care. It fits this life I'm living, and I- really don't think I can live it without him."

Angel was pressed into the kitchen wall by that point, her chin definitely pointed at him as her eyes threw sparks. Her finger jabbed into his chest, and her words rang in his ears. In the silence she left, he could feel all sorts of old emotions, emotions he'd never really parted with, scratching at him. His head bent towards her, remembering how much he had loved this about her- the defiance, the sudden bursts of eloquence, the refusal to give up, even when she had nothing left. She'd bested him like that, and now she might best him again. His head lowered further, hands reaching for her- "What the hell are you doing?" Buffy backed up, wide eyed.

If vampires could blush, he would have been the world's tallest lobster. "I- uh, nothing."

"Right. Nothing." Buffy ignored the ache in her chest, in favor of the much greater ache that seemed to never leave her these days. "You wouldn't hurt him. He's- he's stopped treatments pretty much because they were actually making him weaker and they weren't helping it get better, just slowing the growth. He doesn't want to spend eternity in a body that's all -hrm- shriveled and messed up. So. I... think we need to do this, soon. Please?"

Angel sadly shook his head. "Buffy, if he loved you, he wouldn't ask you to do this. He wouldn't ask you to do something this painful and risky. If you do this, you're tied to him forever, protecting him, protecting everyone else from him, keeping him on track, not letting him feed, or, what will probably happen, killing him when he tries to kill you. He should- let you go. Let you be happy, after you grieve, after you move on. Enjoy the time you have left. Believe me- he doesn't want to live like this." Angel gestured to the dim, empty apartment, the strange city he'd gone to so he'd be apart from her, the city of strangers. "Living forever with an empty life."

Buffy stared at him. "Of course you'd say that. That's what you did. You think it's the right thing to do."

"It is!"

"You know, Angel..." she stepped slowly away, "not everything you did was actually so great for the people involved."

"I know I hurt you, I know it and I'm sorry, but-"

"I would rather risk the greatest pain in the world on a less than one percent long shot chance for making it, making him okay, than live with the pain of knowing I never tried. That pain would never go away." Buffy whispered. "You don't get that. You don't think like that." You stopped trying when you thought it hurt too much...

"Maybe it's because I know pain, Buffy. I lived it. I inflicted it. I know about suffering, and I know about causing it."

"I think you still like to." Buffy sniffed in suddenly, and pushed her shoulders back as they'd been bowing under the weight of his words as they crushed her hopes, belittled her efforts.

"What? No! I'm trying to help you, help you never go through that kind of pain again!" He swallowed. "Don't you think once was enough?" He pressed his palm to his heart, surely broken, where she'd been forced to stab him, forced to kill the demon wearing his face.

"Well, Angel, I guess that's what makes me the Slayer, and you the guy who ran away. It's my job to keep getting beat down, until I die young and alone. Or," she turned away, so done with this conversation now, "until I find the guy who makes all the pain stop, and who keeps on fighting, just as hard as I do."

"Not a great meeting." Buffy announced angrily. "How was your night?"

William sighed and rubbed the dark patches under his sinking eyes. "Bertie found out about your recon mission, and he's downstairs bashin' the pain away with the best scotch in the house."

"Is he gonna kill me when I show up tomorrow?" Buffy twirled the phone cord around her finger and laid back on the bed in her father's house.

"Nah. He's in numbed mode. He knows short of killin' me first, he can't stop me. Think he's just revvin' up for killin' me after." Will laughed painfully, and then coughed for thirty seconds before he could get his wind back.

"Don't talk like that." Buffy whispered finally.

"It's the truth, Luv. And you. You gearin' up for the same?" He asked in a voice that said he was already dreading the answer.

"No! I'm- I'm not." Really not. Because... There was that weird permanency in their relationship. Parts of her hinted, whispered persistently enough to make her stop listening to screaming logic, You'll never hurt him. Whatever he is, or becomes. William is just- my Will. "We have enough other stuff to worry about, so stop- stop worrying about me and you."

His heart expanded, much wider than his lungs currently could manage. "That's my girl. I love you."

Such simple honesty and so absolute. Always been like that. And what did I want? Mr. Mystery who's idea of a date was stalking you to dinner and a movie. "I love you. I love you a lot, and right now I'm really wishing fifteen year old me had done better at throwing myself at you."

"I'm wishin' the same, only about me wastin' less time bein' too worried to lose my best friend."

"Yeah. Yeah, there was that. A lot of that." She would have died without him that first year. She needed the solid friend to deal with everything else, the divorce, the slaying, the new house, school, cliques and losing everything she'd been in LA. "I was selfish. I needed a friend so much that I-"

"I did the same thing. A girlfriend you might date and break up with- and I couldn't loose one more person." He cut her off, blunt yet soothing. "Needed you, Buffy."



We can make that happen. We have to make that happen. "He said Drusilla's crazy, and you probably didn't know what she was saying. With the bleeding to death and the creepy making out."

"But he didn't flat out say it's not true?"

Buffy hesitated. "Well, yeah. He did kinda say that. But he also said he didn't pay attention to anything Darla and Drusilla might have learned from the Master or this other guy, some Immortal someone." She licked her lips. "He said- said your demon listens to its sire. Depends on it. Like- like they'll train you when you first wake up, make sure you make a kill." Her mouth felt sour. Will killing anyone was an unfathomable picture. Will punching someone in the throat with a guitar? Totally believable. Will murdering innocent people? Her stomach tried to eject itself.

"So what if you kill the sire as soon as you wake up? Then it can't control you? Or what if someone else does it?" In his own bed, wheels never stopped turning in his desperate mind. Has to be a way, has to be a way...

"You get bit, you get turned, then I slay your sire?" She struggled to say what he said so easily. Words like this should not have any connection with her William.

"Somethin' like that." He shrugged in his pillow.

"That's another thing. Will... who are we going to get to do this? I was hoping Angel- I mean, I know you're not president of his fan club, but you know he tried to do the right thing-"

"An' this is the wrong thing. Accordin' to him. I figured you'd ask. Figured he'd shoot you down." Bastard doesn't care about what matters to her. 'Specially if it's me. "Don't worry about who, this place is a Hellmouth. Gotta find one someplace."

"No, I have to worry about it!" Ever since Angel pointed out how enormous that piece of the equation was, it was weighing heavily on her mind. "We're talking about a demon without any reason to help us, especially if they find out one of us wants to slay them right afterwards. They could -" her voice seemed to come out in chunks, difficult words caught in her throat, "could run off before letting you drink. They could say they're turning you, but instead, drink you dry. There's not a lot of difference between dead and dying with enough energy to swallow."

"They could rip my bloody throat right out of m'neck, and in the shape I'm in-" she could practically hear the "sod it all" shrug in his voice, "wouldn't be much point rushin' me to the hospital, now would there?"

"So what the heck are we going to do?"

What she'd told him he would do, all along, a black angel, death's angel, arriving too early, with a date to keep later. "I know who's gonna do it, Slayer. I know who'd be glad to do it. I just have to find her."


Neither spoke the name out loud, but since they just about shared a brain these days, it didn't matter.

"Be careful." Buffy whispered finally.

"You'll be with me, makin' sure I stay careful." He replied automatically.

It left her cold, but gave her a warm rush at the same time. Just knowing they'd be together, facing whatever. Another reason she'd do anything to save this. Save him.

The silence meant she was thinking. He could tell what. Could tell because he was thinking the same thing.

The closer it gets to the curtain, the more we want the encore. No, not even the main show for us, that hasn't even started yet. All this was just the introduction.

"You comin' home tonight? No, you said tomorrow."

"I'll come now if you want me to." Buffy's ribs double timed, trying to keep up with her heart.

Will craned his neck to look at the clock above his doorway. After midnight. A couple hour drive from LA. Getting late, even for her, his night owl, and his energy was less all the time. "No... No, it's late. Stay at your dad's place. How is he?"

"I don't know. I let myself in with my key. He's hardly ever home, I guess. Hardly calls, hardly around. It works out for now."

"Wish you were here, all the same."

"Me, too. Or you were here."

"Missin' you, baby."

"I'll see you in the morning."

"Countin' on it. Only, think I can come to you?"

"What?" Buffy abruptly lost the burning warmth and hazy, sleepy feeling she had gotten while listening to Will talking about them being together. "Here?"

"Unless you think your dad will mind. Or you-"

"No! No, I don't think he will, even if he shows up. But I wasn't planning to stay. I really only came to see if Angel could ... help. Visiting Dad, or at least my old house, was just an add on since it got so late. I only planned to stay overnight at the most."

"I think you might wanna stay anyway, since I'm plannin' to head over regardless."


William took a deep breath, and felt it catch. Air felt thick, sucking it in and pushing it out actually hurt. He watched the taut peaks of his abs heave as his lungs struggled to grab another breath. "Remember how they said three to six months back in June?"

Buffy swallowed. "Yes."

"It's August."

Two months. One month left at the worst, four at the most.

That was if he'd kept getting rigorous treatments. He hadn't.

When she spoke again, her voice sounded wet. "Stay there. G-get back on the treatment plan. Call your doctor, the oncologist, the radiologist and -"

"That shit makes me feel worse. Don't need to spend the next couple days sleepin' and hurlin'. Wanna spend it with you. Wide awake. Not trapped in the loo."

"I can sleep next to you. I can wait outside the door. Please, Will? At least let them check and-"

"See if it's grown?" His smile twisted, so bitter, something cruel under it, mirroring the hand life was dealing him. "It has, Buffy. I don't need a scan for that. It hurts a little more each day. Each day feels like I walk a little slower, breathe a bit harder. I'm gonna need all the strength I can to track her down."

"Exactly, we need to figure out where she is! You have some time to get checked."

"I know where she is. She's always there. Waitin'."

Chills slowly crept down her spine. "Waiting for you?"

"No. Not just me. Waitin' for Angelus." Will groaned softly as he shifted in his bed. "If Angel's in LA, she's somewhere nearby. All we have to do is get her to come out and play."

To be continued...