Looking to the Future
Disclaimer: Characters and Premise are borrowed from the show "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
"Hi Angel, can we talk?" Xander asked, standing outside the door to Dawn's room.
Angel looked up from the book he was reading. "I suppose we need to," he said gesturing for Xander to pull up a chair.
"So how's Dawn taking being ousted from her room?" Xander asked.
"Badly, but not as badly as Joyce is taking having me as a guest in her home. Fortunately I should be up and walking in another day or so," Angel replied.
"You sure about that?" Xander asked gesturing to the numerous bandages Angel sported.
"Vampiric healing, remember," Angel said. "Now can we talk about what you really are here to talk about?"
"Sure," Xander said. "So are you mad at me about Chicago still? I mean I totally understand and I won't hold you to what you said before going into the Hellmouth. I should have told you about the curse, I'm really sorry. Plus I'm sorry about the way I always treated you before."
"I'm glad you didn't tell me about the curse back then," Angel said quietly. "There would have too much temptation to try to break it."
"So why'd you walk out that night if you weren't mad about the curse?" Xander asked.
"Do you know when I first recognized you?" Angel asked.
"I'd guess the first time Buffy said my name, Xander isn't exactly a common one. Why?" Xander answered.
"You never told me your name in Chicago," Angel said. "I realized the night the Master rose, while you were in the middle of telling me that all you saw me as was a vampire."
"Oh," Xander said, not knowing what else to say.
"But," Angel continued. "What I said at the school still holds, we became friends in Chicago and you've been true to that since then, at least from your time frame. I just needed time to adjust my views of you. For me, our friendship happened more than a life time ago, but the guy who told me off for letting Buffy force me to feed from her was here just last year."
"So we're okay?" Xander asked.
"Yeah. By the way, what did you tell them about me back then?"
"Nothing, that's why I did the "Here's your life" thing for the 1920's by myself," Xander replied. "I thought I'd let you decide what gets told."
Angel stared at Xander, absolutely stunned. "Thank you," he stammered after a pause. "I'd appreciate it if you just didn't tell them."
"That's fine," Xander replied.
"Hello Angel," Wesley said, taking the chair Xander had vacated a few hours earlier, while Cordelia seated herself on the edge of Dawn's bed.
After a moment's consideration, she gave Angel a quick hug. "I told you everything would work out," she said.
"You did," Angel replied with a half-smile, surprised at how glad he was that Cordelia had decided to continue treating him as a sibling despite the full return of his memory. "Good to see you Wesley."
"Yes, well, there is something we need to tell you," Wesley stated nervously.
"What's that?" Angel asked.
"During Buffy's last visit to LA, I learned that there is no clause in your curse. There hasn't been since Willow recast it."
"How? You didn't say anything," Angel said.
"We didn't think Liam's behavior needed encouragement," Cordelia said bluntly.
"Yes," Wesley agreed. "As to how… Giles told me."
"But how did he find that out?" Angel asked. "Why did they all come running to LA looking for my blood if they knew that the curse couldn't break? Why did I become Angelus when Rebecca drugged me?"
"As I said then, the curse didn't break due to Rebecca's drugs," Wesley said. "You merely believed it had, that allowed your demon to gain control for a time."
"Giles always knew," Cordelia said, anger touching her voice. "Ever since he examined Jenny's spell. He just didn't bother to tell you or anyone else. That's why everyone was so worked up. I guess Giles blames you for Jenny still."
Angel remained silent for several minutes, then he asked, "Could you ask Giles to talk to me? I'd go myself, but Buffy will kill me if I try walking before my feet heal."
"And I'll help her," Cordelia volunteered. "I so don't like the raw meat look on my family."
"I'll ask him," Wesley said.
"I suppose you want to know why I didn't tell you," Giles said after he shut the door to Dawn's room behind him.
"No, I can guess that," Angel replied. "I killed your love, hurt your surrogate daughter, tortured you, I'm hardly surprised that you wanted revenge. You could have written the clause back into the curse, Willow probably wouldn't have noticed the difference, but you're a lot brighter than the Kalderash elders. By letting me think that the clause still stood you got me to build and maintain my own torture chamber, without the risk of Angelus returning. My compliments Ripper, I doubt I could have thought up a more suitable revenge at my worst."
"So what did you want to see me about?" Giles asked coldly.
"How sure are you that the curse can't be broken?" Angel asked.
"You're asking me?" Giles said disbelievingly.
"If I think about it, my heightened senses are as effective as any lie detector," Angel replied. "If you lie, I'll know."
"It won't break," Giles said, turning to leave.
"Well guess what?" Buffy said, walking into Dawn's room. "Riley left me. He just called from Iowa to tell me that he was breaking up with me. He says he needs time to figure out who he is again. Apparently dating me screwed him up, major big time. So I just wanted to ask you, what's wrong with me that every guy I fall for leaves me? I figure you'd be an expert."
"Buffy, nothing is wrong with you!" Angel exclaimed. "I love you so much, I just wanted to do what was best for you, no matter how it hurt me."
"So you left me?" Buffy asked sarcastically.
"I didn't want to stand in the way of you having a normal life," Angel said.
"You should have asked me what I wanted if you really cared so much," Buffy said. "Or just remembered what I've told you: 'You're the one freaky thing in my freaky world that still makes sense to,' don't you remember that? 'When I look in the future all I see is you, all I want is you' didn't you believe me when I said that?"
"That was before the curse broke," Angel replied. "After I came back you told me that you needed someone you could count on, someone stable who could make you happy. Not me. How could I be that for you with the curse and its clause between us? Only things are different now, Wesley found a way to make my soul permanent. I guess the scare I gave everyone a few weeks ago motivated him. If you want to try again, I would consider it an honor to date you."
"I… wow… I don't know," Buffy said, nervously fiddling with the chain around her neck. "Oh, you probably want these back," she said, realizing she was still wearing the necklace with the claddah rings Angel had left with her.
Angel took the chain from Buffy and opened it to remove the rings. He slid his back on his left hand, the heart pointed inward. "The other's still yours, if you want it," Angel said.
"I read about these," Buffy said, accepting her ring and putting it on her right hand with the heart turned in. "This means I'm considering giving someone my heart, right?" she asked.
"It does," Angel said.
"If I decide no, I'll return the ring," Buffy said. "I gather they're pretty important to you. Maybe sometime you'll tell me why."
"I'd like that," Angel replied. "You know, no matter what you decide, I'll be there for you, whether you need a back-up in a fight or just someone to talk to, you can call on me, always."
"Thanks," Buffy said. As she left, she bumped into Giles, who was standing just outside the door. "Hi Giles, were you going to talk to Angel?" she asked.
"Yes, if you're finished," Giles said.
When Giles walked in Angel looked up at him calmly and waited.
"You didn't tell her," Giles said after shutting the door to see that their conversation would remain private.
"And I won't," Angel replied.
"Why not?" Giles asked.
"This cancer could cost Buffy her mother, she doesn't need to loose you too," Angel said. "You're the one she looks to as a father. Unlike her biological father, you're here to help her through this. I'm going to be here for Buffy too. She's going to need all the support she can get if the worst happens. I think we both love her enough to do the right thing."
"I agree, but if you hurt her again, I will kill you," Giles said.
"I won't hurt her," Angel promised firmly.