By Eleri McCleod
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the way the words are arranged. Thanks to Joss Whedon for creating this wonderful world and allowing me to play in it.
Summary: The night Angel kills the Mohra demon Buffy has a disturbing dream, sending her back to confront him.
Author's Note: I usually acknowledge the episodes as gospel, but I needed to break away for this one. This is an addition to the 'Angel' episode "I Will Remember You." It's not a direct change, just a day later.
I have to say thanks, yet again to my mom, who keeps giving all these wonderful suggestions.
(c) Feb 2000, Eleri McCleod
Buffy woke with a jerk, gasping for air. Her eyes burned, cheeks wet with tears. The same tears she'd shed in her dream. Wiping them slowly, she tried to piece together what had happened.
It hadn't been a prophetic dream. She'd had enough of them to recognize the way they felt. No, this was more like an old memory that would flash into conscious thought for no reason. Slowly, the images came to her, sporadic and out of sequence, but nothing she could remember actually having happened.
Still drying the remnants of her tears, she got out of bed, hastily pulling on jeans and a shirt. L.A. was warm enough, even before dawn, to not warrant a sweater. A light jacket and the ever-present stake in her hands, she quietly moved down the stairs of her dad's place. There was a bus stop a couple blocks away. The same one she'd used the day before. With any luck, she'd make it just as the sun was coming up.
"Look, you guys go home," Angel told the bleary-eyed Cordelia and Doyle. "It was a really long night. I can finish this up." He noted with a tiny smile that they didn't argue too profusely as they gathered up coats and purse. Carefully cleaning the demon grime off the blade of the sword in his hands, he called, "Get some sleep. Good work tonight."
And it had been. They'd found the tracks of a demon not long after sundown. After following it over most of L.A., they'd cornered and killed it. But not before it had managed to rip apart three people. Angel frowned, hands pausing on the sword. It had been a hard day. Well, days for him. At the thought, his eyes closed with a wince. Buffy, the name echoed through his soul. One day was all they'd had. One glorious, unimaginable day. His heart soared and bled at the same time. The feel of her lying next to him, the feel of her tears on his finger... The Oracles had asked if he could handle the burden of knowing. He had thought it would be hard, just like his last year with Buffy. But this day had been excruciating. Only one thing had kept him from breaking: the small hope that one day it would be forever.
Lost in memory, hands motionless on the sword, he didn't hear the almost silent opening of the front door, didn't hear the gentle footfalls moving toward the office. But he felt her, deep inside, as she'd said she could feel him the day before. Trying to convince his suddenly tight chest that she wouldn't have come back, that she knew they needed the distance, he slowly opened his eyes.
Buffy could only stare at him, her dream crashing around inside her, heart beating furiously. I've gone insane, she decided, turning away from his beautiful gaze to hide the suspicious brightness in her eyes. "Don't say anything until I've finished," she requested quietly, almost pleading. Staring blindly into the outer office, the dream snapped into focus, suddenly having the order it had been missing before. "I know I said we needed distance until we forgot..."
Angel drank in the sight of her, storing it for the eternity until they were together again. He placed the sword carefully on the desk, then firmly stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans, out of temptation's way. As her pause grew longer, a thread of uneasiness wormed its way into his chest. There were moments when he knew exactly what she was going to say and others where he had no idea what was going to come out of her mouth. This was one of the latter. She held herself very still, never a good sign, arms wrapped around her stomach.
"Last night, I had a dream that wasn't a dream. It wasn't a Slayer dream. I mean, I'm not sure what it was." In the glass she could see her reflection, her face mirroring her inner turmoil. But it was just her in the glass even though she knew Angel was standing behind her. Swallowing hard, she tried to take the shakiness out of her voice. "In my dream, it was yesterday. But it wasn't. It was a different yesterday. I didn't leave here and go back to my dad's. The demon you killed? Well, it escaped and we chased it. Angel, I know this sounds really out there." Abruptly, she turned to face him, needing to see his expression. It was blank, Cryptic Guy at his best, except for one thing: his eyes. There was knowledge in them. "You believe me."
He stared at her, incredulous. How did she know this? The Oracles had said he would be the only one that remembered. Her eyes brimmed with tears that she somehow kept from falling. His heart begged him to go to her, comfort her, but that road was too dangerous for them. Trying to keep from moving closer, he leaned back against the desk, firmly planting his butt on the wood. How much had she seen? "What else was in your dream?" His voice was a little shaky, but not too bad.
Watching him silently for a moment, she seemed to come to a decision. He tensed as she moved toward him, almost standing. Stopping close enough he could feel the heat off her body, a solitary tear slipped down her cheek. She slowly raised her right hand, eyes on his chest. Fighting to remain still, he shuddered when her hand rested lightly over his motionless heart. "I felt your heart beat."
With a groan, he pulled her into his arms, eyes squeezed tight with human emotion. "Oh, Buffy. They said it would just be me. They said you wouldn't remember."
"It really happened?" her voice was small, barely sounding. She buried her face in his chest, fingers curling into his back. On her closed lids, Angel walking to her in the sun, hair shining brilliantly. Angel felt her hot tears through his shirt, wetting his cold chest. Her almost desperate grip was equally matched by his. Hand cupping her head, fingers tangled in the silk of her hair, other arm molding her to him, he couldn't speak, couldn't do anything but hold his love and wonder if he'd survive the emotions thundering through him.
"We walked in the sun," her voice muffled by his body, he could still hear the amazement and desperate sadness in the words. "We were together. We made love." The broken whisper trailed off, leaving her harsh breathing the only sound in the room.
"Buffy, I-" his throat closed on the words, unable to force them out. Holding her tight to him, he wondered what had happened. The Oracles weren't fools, and neither were the Powers. Something had to have gone wrong. But the feel of her in his arms was more right than anything he could have imagined. What were they going to do?
Buffy swallowed tightly, pulling away just enough to see his eyes. "What are we going to do?" she asked finally. Watching him as he turned the possibilities in his head, she realized that he didn't even know he was caressing her neck. It was an unconscious movement meant to soothe them both. She could also see when he knew what he was going to say and the fact that he didn't really like saying it.
"We go back to the Oracles."
"The Oracles?" she repeated slowly, searching through the memory/dream for references. And didn't like what she came up with. "They were the ones that screwed it up the first time." As she delicately dried her eyes on his already wet shirt, a disquieting thought occurred to her. "Why did you ask to be turned back anyway? What could they have said to change your mind?"
"They said you would die."
She paused, struck by the terse words. "Okay, well, there is that. But what makes you think they can do it right the second time?"
Angel stared at her, full of fire and life and instinctively knew what had gone wrong the day before. "They just didn't know who they were dealing with."
"The Slayer," she decided after thinking about it for a quick second, although unsure how beings powerful enough to turn the clocks back a whole day could have missed the tiny fact that she was the Chosen One.
"No," he murmured, the hand at her neck moving to cup her cheek. "Buffy Summers."
A delicious warmth flowed through her at his words. There had always been the tiniest part of her that had wondered if it had been the Slayer, not her, that Angel had been drawn to. His words and the seriousness of his expression stopped that bit cold. Then the full meaning of his plan sunk into her head, shattering the warmth.
She stepped back, head shaking slowly at first, then gathering momentum. "No. No, we can't go back."
"What are you saying?" he asked, letting her slip out of his embrace. "You told me yourself that you couldn't go on, knowing what we'd had." His voice broke on the last words.
She cradled his cheek with her hand, palm warm against his skin. "I was wrong," she told him softly, the slightest hint of a smile crossing her features. "I've had time to think about it now. I want to know." Her eyes stressed the words more than her inflection.
He stared at his love, trying to decide if this was better or worse for them. "Are you sure?"
"Since you left, I've had no reserve, nothing to dig deeper for. I just haven't been able to get my heart into slaying. Maybe that means I'm not really that great of a Slayer." With a gently placed hand, she stopped his instant denial of the self-deprecation. "But I know now that I need that strength. The strength that my love for you gives me. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
For once, he knew exactly what was in her heart. "Then that's how we do it." Cupping her cheek, he softly kissed her forehead. Pulling back to meet her eyes once more, he felt his non-beating heart contract. "My beautiful Slayer. I love you." He just couldn't stop the words. They had been begging, pleading to be released since she'd walked back into his office. Selfish or not, there it was.
"And I you." A bittersweet smile gently lifted her lips. "I make you this vow," she whispered, unable to raise her voice any higher, heart trembling as hard as her hands. "I will wait for you, through the Hells we live, until we know we can find the Mohra and be together."
"I make you this vow," he returned, hands holding hers tightly. "I will never forget. And we will be together one day." Kissing her gently, he stored the moment, every moment, for his dim, lonely future.
Buffy unsuccessfully tried to swallow back her newest lump of tears. A long, desolate road seemed to stretch before her, barren and cold without the warmth of Angel's eyes. But if they were going to do this, maybe that lonely life was the price each had to pay. "So that's it then."
He nodded slowly, trying to think of anything to keep her with him longer. And knew, in the back of his mind, that this was the way it had to be. Things were too passionate, too volatile between them to be near each other for any length of time. "That's it." His heart cried out at the words, wanting to pull them back the instant they were out. His love's beautiful eyes held understanding. She didn't want to leave either.
Forcing a smile, she squeezed his hands tightly for a timeless moment. She honestly tried to simply leave, but her feet seemed cemented to the floor. She felt like she was back in the mansion, Angel and Acathla before her, sword burning her hand. Sending her love to Hell had been the worst moment in her life, even harder than letting Angel walk away on Graduation Day. She'd thought that would be the hardest thing she'd ever have to do. What else could the world find to throw at her? Well, it had managed to create yet another torture, an exile into limbo that stretched into the future as far as she could see.
Sliding her hands slowly from the shelter of his, she leaned up on tiptoe, not quite matching his height. "I love you." Their lips met gently, chastely, a mere brush of a touch. "Don't watch me leave," she whispered, remembering the gut-wrenching pain she'd felt when he'd disappeared through the smoke. There was no way she wanted him to go through that.
"I'll be here. Waiting," he answered, instead of the affirmative she was expecting. He couldn't lie to her, not now. In her eyes, he saw that she knew what he'd really meant. Heart shuddering as she stepped slowly away, it screamed for him to grab her and run, to not let her leave. But he plunged his hands once more into his pockets, fists tight against his legs.
"See you around?"
Her words hit him hard, sending him back to the Bronze, mere weeks after they'd met, only a day after they'd tried to kill each other because of Darla. Her eyes were blurred with tears, like that night, as she backed farther and farther away from him, towards the door.
They stood frozen, him still at the desk, her a step away from the door, closer than the mere feet implied, yet farther away than ever. Finally, she turned, swiftly striding to the front door, forcing her feet to move steadily. The sun blinded her as she went down the steps, tears flowing freely. She didn't bother to try and stop them. They would flow for a long time to come. As long as the ache stayed in her chest, where a gaping hole now resided.
One day we'll be together, Angel vowed once more silently, ears straining to catch the last sound of her footfalls on the concrete. Even that was distinctive about her. A hollow silence fell in the office, not even the ticking of the clock to break it since he'd destroyed it the day before to kill the Mohra. His eyes slid closed, his final vision of his love imprinted there.