Disclaimer: See the first two parts.

Author's notes: As you can see by the date, I wrote this a long time ago. Thanks again to those who read it then and took the time to tell me how much you enjoyed it. I loved hearing from you all. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this story as much as I did writing it.

(c) October 1999, Eleri McCleod





The breeze was filled with the scent of damp earth as it moved through the trees, sending blonde hair fluttering briefly before settling back onto a pair of small shoulders. The night was calm, a welcome rest after the danger of the night before. The couple walking hand in hand had seen one lone vampire the entire night, but had fled as if it had just come across the Hounds of Hell when it saw them.

Angel glanced down at the young woman at his side. Her face was tilted down, hiding her features, but he knew there was something she was wanting to say by the set of her shoulders. He said nothing, letting her decide to begin on her own, gently stroking the tiny hand in his, giving comfort where he could.

Buffy stopped suddenly, turning to face the man she no longer considered a vampire. Meeting his eyes, she saw only concern and love warming the chocolate brown orbs. Shame filled her, tightening her gut and throat. "I'm so sorry."

Stepping close enough to feel the warmth from her body, he squeezed the delicate hand in his. "For what?"

"I hurt you."

"It doesn't matter," he assured her instantly, trying to make the darkness in her eyes disappear. The weekend had been hard, no doubt about it, but it was over and they had all made it out alive. That's all that really mattered. And he tried to tell her that before she could continue the self-flagellation, but she was determined.

"But it does matter. To me, I mean. It's not like I didn't know what was going on." Hand slipping free of his, she paced ahead of him, turning back without seeing the concrete before her. "I remember everything. It's like I was watching my life on a TV. I could see and hear, but I couldn't make the picture do what I wanted. I would scream at myself to do this or that and neither would happen." Finally, she halted in front of him, looking anywhere but in his eyes. "I had no control and no way to take control. And because of that I hurt you. Which is the last thing I ever wanted to do."

Stepping forward, he pulled her gently into his arms. "I told you it doesn't matter." He threaded his fingers through her hair, soothing them down its length. "I know you couldn't control what was happening just as I knew you'd get everything back if given a little bit of time." Placing his fingers under her chin, he raised her gaze to meet his. "You just had to have a little faith in yourself."

Smiling sheepishly, she placed her hand on his, still under her chin. "You seem to have enough faith for both of us."

"I have been around a bit longer." The unusual teasing reference to his age startled a chuckle out of her, filling the quiet night with sunshine.

Letting a smile spread over her features, she jumped up on tiptoe to give him a kiss. "Well, the next time I lose my memory, I'll know who to go to."

Angel let out a bark of laughter before taking her hand and pulling her back to a walk. "Come on. Let's get you home. Your mom is probably beginning to think you live at Willow's."

"Nah," she denied, once more pulling him to halt. "We've got a little time left."

The vampire with a soul smiled tenderly down into his natural enemy's eyes, still shaken by the emotion he read there. "I guess it's still early enough."

Sliding her arms over his chest to meet behind his neck, the Slayer leaned full against him. Angel's arms wrapped around her, tightening their connection. "We've got plenty of time." Their lips met, drawing shivers from both.

The vampire kept their kiss light, the warmth of her body the flaring like the sun on his skin. As her hair slid over his fingers, her words echoed through him once again. They had plenty of time indeed.