Part 3

A fortnight after his initial meeting with the blond goddess of his dreams, Angel felt that he was becoming exaggeratedly infatuated. His obsession was not over school, his friends or even his settling of scores against the evil undead of Sunnydale; it was basically over Buffy - the mystery girl who had captured his every thought.

He had searched all over Sunnydale - from the good side to the bad side - for some indication of her existence, but as of yet he had not found such a thing. He was beginning to doubt that he had even met her in the first place, that she was just some figment of his subconscious. So instead of fighting the good fight or doing his homework, Angel simply lay on his lumpy old bed and did what he does best, he brooded.

In due course - after almost a month - he put her to the back of his mind and began to once again concentrate on his other commitments. For example the deal that Giles had made on his behalf with that malevolent bastard, Principal Snyder, which was enabling him to finish up his senor year at Sunnydale High with Xander and Willow. So between studying, hanging out with the gang and destroying the undead he managed to keep thoughts of her at bay - by and large.

To the run of the mill by-stander Angel looked and acted like the archetypal American male pubescent, only he - and a privileged few - knew that this was not exclusively true. There was a lot more to him than many guessed, that he had been through so much more than the average eighteen year old had. His entire family had been murdered, brutally and sadistically, from his elderly grandfather to his little sister and even though he had been at home with them that night, he was the only one who had survived the nightmare.

The horrifying truth was that he had bared witness to it all, that he had seen the creatures - not gang members like the Sunnydale Police Department had proclaimed to the media - they had been vampires. Creatures that were not believed to be real, that were merely a product of some drunken Irishman's imagination, killed his family.

Angel could not help but sometimes still feel a raging guilt over what had occurred, the shrink that had been assigned to his case by the county had simply informed him that it was what they termed survivor's guilt and that it would go away in due course. However Angel knew that it was more than that, that it was that he had survived because of his own dim-witted spinelessness.

When one of the many vampires' had come after him, he was for the most part mortified to admit it now; he had run away from the massacre caring only for his own survival. Regrettably during his run for freedom he had tripped over his father's unresponsive cadaver and fallen straight onto the tiled floor of the family's kitchenette area. Reaching out in a blind panic - and drowning out the screams of his mother and sister - he grabbed the closest object to him, providentially for him it had been a broken leg off of one of the kitchen chairs.

As the vampire leaped towards him, Angel had held up his makeshift wooden dagger and closed his eyes in preparation for joining the members of his family in their perpetual slumber. After a few moments when nothing had happened, Angel had opened his eyes and found that there were no vampires in sight, merely an unfathomable cloud of dust and lifeless bodies of his loved ones lying in an assortment of positions around the tiny house.

The rest of that night was pretty much a blur to him; he could vaguely recall dialing 911 and Giles. Both parties arrived within seconds of each other at the residence and after an elongated and distressing questioning by the police he had been patched up at the local hospital and sent home with Giles.

Sighing roughly, Angel flipped over onto his side and stared out of his window into the surrounding darkness, wondering how and why it had to be his life that was so problematical. Surely he deserved a break now and then, a little diversion? With those stray thoughts his mind returned to the proscribed, Buffy, causing him to once again shift; this time to try and relieve a different kind of discomfort.

For the millionth time that very night Buffy cursed herself for her unbridled lack of common sense. Almost every night for the last two weeks she had pursued Angel around Sunnydale's abundant cemeteries and then back to his home, where she would stand outside staring at his window until she either felt the approach of the dawn or the pangs of hunger signalled the approach of something akin to blood lust. What was it about that boy - young man - that attracted her so?

If she were to be genuinely candid with herself she would have to acknowledge that Angel bore an uncanny similitude to the man she used to dream about before she had been turned into the creature that she was - and of course after. The man that her one time best friend Emmeline had teased her unmercifully about.

Unfortunately that was no more than part of it, from that individual epigrammatic meeting with Angel; she had seen into his very soul. One transient look into those deep brown eyes of his, that were the colour of the sweetest chocolate and she had been able to see all of the love, kindness and as you would expect the fear and hatred that he held within his young self.

On the other hand she had to stop kidding herself and start thinking with her brain and not her undead hormones. It could under no circumstances be. She was an abomination against The Powers That Be - a soulful one, but an abhorrence none the less - and Angel was a flesh and blood living being; somebody so above her that she would never be able to bridge the gap.

Things would be better if she merely did the job that she had been sent there to do and then get the hell off of the hellmouth. Who knew, maybe she would at long last go and visit the mother-country for the first time in over a century, a place that was far, far away from Angel.

Looking attentively up just once again at Angel's darkened bedroom window, she heaved a sigh and wandered unhurriedly away. Mentally she began to list the errands that she needed to complete before she headed out to do an additional sweep of Sunnydale's twelve cemeteries and hunting down her so-called brethren.

Top of her list was the butcher's shop for a fresh supply of blood - a necessary evil - and last was to collect some extra wood to shave into stakes. Sighing once more she kept herself walking away from him and setting herself a brand new task. This time it was a damned near impossible one, to banish Angel from her thoughts permanently.

Angel could candidly say he was having a bad day, or more accurately a really, really bad day. Firstly he had overslept - only because he'd spent he night tossing and turning over a certain blond - and arrived more than twenty minutes late for his first class.

Ordinarily he wouldn't care what time he showed up, but it was one of the small amount of classes he shared with both Willow and Xander and in addition to this fact his teacher was the born again Nazi, Mrs Wilson. After an elongated and tedious lecture from Mrs Wilson - the teacher from hell - and then another one from Giles about his lack of household chore completion, he was running late up until lunch time.

Sitting in the shad of a large tree in the park across from the high school with his childhood best friends, he could more or less believe that his day would improve. Unfortunately on his way back to them after a quick bathroom break he saw the two of them kissing and although he had suspected that something might be going on between the two of them, it was so much different seeing them.

Slipping back into school Angel found that he had left each and every one of his outstanding assignments at home and once again he was verbally raked over the proverbial coals. The day simply went from bad to worse from then on, more than ever when he was designated a new lab partner in chemistry, Harmony Kendall. That particular bimbo had been after him since junior high and since his taste did not as a rule run to moronic bimbos, he had kept clear of her until then.

Returning to the house as soon as school was over for the day, Angel concluded the chores that Giles had paid him out over and forced himself to do some mind-numbing homework. Just as darkness began to descend over the small town, he jumped into the shower and after rinsing himself clean of the day, he dressed in his standard outfit - a black shirt and black leather pants. Leaving before Giles returned from the teacher's meeting, he headed towards The Bronze hoping to catch Willow and Xander there and hang out before he went about his hobby.

And there he sat forty-five minutes later all alone - even though Harmony had certainly done her best to change that - because for once Xander and Willow had failed to show. Angel was just about to give up on them and head of towards the nearby cemetery when he spotted his mystery girl.

Buffy was hanging out adjacent to the entrance, next to the wall and looking exceedingly uncomfortable in the crammed full environment of the tiny club. Leisurely - more or less stalking - he headed towards her position, his heart beating more rapidly when he saw her ephemeral smile.

"Long time, no see."

"Angel," she whispered, his name crossing her lips as though she spoke it every day.

Angel moved in as close as he humanly could get to her, backing her up against the wall. Leaning into her he spoke, "So what have you been doing with yourself?"

"I've been - uh - keeping busy," she responded apprehensively as a lump formed in her throat and a diminutive segment of her long lost British accent slipped into her speech pattern. "You know - settling in and - uh - stuff."

Angel round about groaned in frustration when in her apprehension and after her little conversational piece she bit down on her lower lip. "If you'd have called me, I would have been happy to help you - uh - settle in." He wanted to add that he would of liked to help her with a lot more, but he some how managed to find the strength to restrain himself.

"I don't have y-your number," she stuttered nervously. "I have to go now."

Angel barely managed to keep up with her as he followed her out of The Bronze and as she took a shortcut through Restfield Cemetery. Then he got two major shocks, the first was the two vampires attacking form out of nowhere and the second was as he watched his latest obsession dust them with no effort.

He just stood there in silence as she walked away from the fight as composed as ever and he suddenly realized something, that Buffy must be one of the slayer's he had read about in those old musty books of Giles'. The delicious irony of this discovered fact amused him to no end, how more perfect could they be for each other?

Whistling a happy little Irish tune to himself, Angel forgot all about his hunt and headed for home suddenly unconcerned with any of the days problems. As far as he was concerned his dark little world had suddenly become a little lighter and he knew who had been responsible and could hardly wait for their next encounter.