Come To Play

Come To Play

by Starla

Disclaimer: These Characters belong to Joss Whedon, except Gorlock, Alana, Adrian Townsend, and anyone else you don't recognize.
Distribution: Take it, but let me know. If you have any of my other fics, go ahead.
Author's notes: It *will* be B/A I promise. I realise this part is a little depressing. Sorry. Season 4 did happen, Fish Boy did date Buffy, Angel went to LA, etc.
Spoilers: I dunno. Anything is possible, be warned.
Summary: 150 years after the Scooby Gang die, they return to Earth to help out the current Slayer and her Slayerettes.


Prologue

A Hundred and Fifty years had passed. Angel could scarcely believe it as he lifted the whiskey bottle to his lips, sculling down the fiery amber liquid.

A hundred and fifty years since his life had shattered.

A hundred and fifty years since everything he held dear in the world was ripped away from him in one foul swoop.

In the year 2001, they had been killed.

All of them.

They had been at the beach, battling Gorlock, a 600 year old vampire who had been a powerful sorcerer before he was turned.

Apparently, he still had the magic touch.

Anya had been the first to go, engulfed in a solid darkness, her life squeezed out of her by the shadow demons.

Wesley had been next, his neck broken by one of Gorlock's more enthusiastic minions.

Oz and Willow had gone together, drowning in the icy ocean waters.

Xander had been skewered by a magical spear, his body bursting into flames as soon as the weapon penetrated his skin.

Giles was crushed underneath a giant boulder, his pained screams lost amongst the sounds of battle.

Cordelia had fought valiantly, but eventually, exhaustion got the better of her and she was drained by a fledgling vampire.

And Buffy...

The hideous demon lord had used hypnosis on her, turning her own crossbow against her.

Angel and Spike had been the only survivors. They had killed Gorlock, working together, turning his magic against him as he had turned Buffy's weapon against her.

And now, they worked together to guard the hellmouth with a new slayer and her innocent young friends.

The Slayer.

Alana Fox was 17 years old, blonde, and feisty. On occasion, she reminded Angel of Buffy.

They were technically a couple.

Spike had encouraged Angel to date again not long after they returned to Sunnydale. So Angel did so, mainly to keep Spike off his back.

He enjoyed Alana's company. She was sweet, and Angel knew it would do him no good to wallow in his depression.

No good for him, and no good for the world.

He didn't love Alana, he doubted he ever would. But for now, like and attraction were enough.

He lifted the bottle to his lips again, taking a swig. He didn't often drink, but tonight, the memories were too much for him. A hundred and Fifty Years, to the day.

A hundred and fifty years....

****

Adrian Townsend flicked through a musty old book, searching for some clue as to what the hellmouth had in store for them next. Spike had gotten some information from a local informant, who said something big was going down. No details at all.

He frowned in frustration, his eyes falling on a paragraph written in curling, ancient script.

A hundred and fifty years after the fall, the Warriors will be called upon once again to rid the world of darkness.

Adrian pushed a hand through his curly dark hair, annoyed by the message. Who on Earth were the Warriors?

Allies, obviously.

But who, exactly?

He sighed and went back to combing through the books.


Part 1

2 Days Later

Adrian rested his finger on the page, shaking his head in wonder. Apparently, the Warriors were a group of demon hunters from the late 20th century, centering around a young, very powerful Slayer. He sighed, knowing that he would find no more information from these books.

He put the volume down, deep in thought. He knew that Angel and Spike had lived through the twentieth century. Perhaps they had heard of these Warrior people. It was a long shot, he supposed. But any information he could get his hands on would help.

He picked up the phone, dialing Angel's beeper number. The two vampires were at the local club with Alana and her friends, whom had somehow been dubbed as the Slayerettes. According to Alana, Spike had casually referred to them by the name one day, and it had stuck.

He put the phone down, knowing Angel would return to the library with the others as soon as possible.

****

Angel sat in the Bronze with Alana, his arm wrapped around her shoulders. She sighed happily and snuggled into his chest, stroking his arm lightly with her fingers.

"This place hasn't changed in a hundred and fifty years." He murmured, his eyes wandering over the dark club.

She cocked her head to the side and looked up at him. "You came here a hundred and fifty years ago?"

She was interested in Angel's past, the mysterious yesterday he never spoke of. She had asked him a few times about what his life had been like, but he tended to avoid the subject.

She knew the basics, of course. Sired in Ireland by a female vampire in 1753. Caused havoc in Europe before being cursed by a clan of Gypsies in the late 19th century, been in America ever since.

But the other stuff. His friends, his family. Had he had dreams for the future? Had he ever been in love?

As usual, he evaded her question, answering with a simple "Yes." A flicker of pain appeared in his eyes before he pushed it away, changing the subject, smiling at her.

"How was your day?"

She paused a moment before grinning. "Awful. I had a *huge* math test, which I totally failed, and then I had to do a little unscheduled slayage when a kid in my biology class grew a second head. But you know what???"

He smiled down at her, the shadows moving over his handsome face. "What?"

"It's better now that you're here." She replied, reaching up and kissing him softly.

Angel kissed her back, groaning when his beeper went off. "Not now......" He moaned, and Alana giggled.

He stood, taking her hand and pulling her up with him. "C'mon. Let's go see what Adrian wants."

****

Adrian shrieked as the library started to shake. From above, a white light appeared, blinding him for a moment. When it cleared, 9 strangers stood before him, their bodies seeming to shimmer for a moment before they dedicated themselves to this reality.

A beautiful brunette rolled her eyes as she looked around the musty library. "Some things never change. You'd think after 150 years they could get a decent colour scheme in here."

An older, lanky man stepped forward. "I assume you must be Mr. Townsend. It's lovely to meet you. I am Rupert Giles."

"Are...Are you the Warriors?" Adrian asked, looking from one person to the next.

A short boy with red tinged hair screwed up his nose. "It's a little formal, but it'll do."

The taller, dark haired boy held up his hands. "If you don't mind, we prefer the Scooby Gang. This isn't an episode of Xena."

Adrian looked confused.

A girl with brilliant blonde hair falling down her back smiled gently. "20th Century Pop Culture reference. Never Mind. I'm Buffy, and these are my Slayerettes."

Adrian was about to open his mouth and comment on the name, when the door swung open, revealing Angel and Alana, followed by Kressa and Lee, Spike and Kelly.

Angel stopped dead in his tracks, his throat going dry. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out.

It can't be... His mind whispered.

"Deadboy!!!" Xander exclaimed, clapping his hands. "Just the man we need to complete the party."

Wesley nodded. "Angel. It's good to see you."

Doyle grinned. ""Ello Old Man. Do you think Long Time no see covers it?"

Cordelia walked over and gave him a quick hug. "Hey Boss Man." She said when she pulled away.

Alana studied Angel, watching the expression on his face go from complete and utter disbelief to complete shock in a matter of seconds. A million questions raced through her mind, all of them centering on who the hell these people where.

The room fell silent, and for the first time Alana realized that Angel was staring intently at a blonde girl in the centre of the group, her eyes on the floor.

Slowly, she raised them, locking gazes with Angel.

Finally, she spoke, her voice a throaty whisper.

"Hello Lover."


Part 2

They stared at each other for a few moments, drifting into their own universe. Angel was vaguely aware of Alana's hand tightening around his arm, but it seemed disconnected from him, faraway. His soul was already on the other side of the room, holding Buffy in his arms, raining kisses over her beautiful face.

But his body was frozen in place.

Spike broke the silence. "Slayer!" He exclaimed, weaving through the bodies blocking the doorway and strolling over to Buffy. "What brings you here?"

"Wait, you know them too?" Lee asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Oh, yeah. Me and the Slayer go way back. Course I spent most of my time kicking her arse..."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Whatever you say, Sit'n'Spin."

"You just couldn't let me show off in front of my friends, could you?" Spike grumbled.

Buffy shrugged, grinning, before pulling him into a quick hug.

Spike growled good naturedly when she pulled away. "I always knew you had a thing for me." He smirked.

She snorted. "Yeah. It's the Billy Idol look. It drives me wild."

Her eyes drifted back to Angel. "Are you just gonna stand there? Cos we've travelled the Ghost Roads to be here today. The least you could do is say hello."

He remained silent, having lost the ability of speech. She smiled understandingly, and turned to Alana.

"Alana. It's good to finally meet you." She said gently.

"He's not your lover." Alana said, her eyes flashing in defiance. "I don't know who you are, and I don't care. He's mine."

"Geez, Possessive much?" Cordelia exclaimed.

Buffy's eyes clouded over. "Yours. Ok." She shrugged. " I'll keep my hands to myself."

She stepped back, into the supportive semi-circle of her friends. "I'm here on business anyway." Her eyes fell to the floor, and she crossed her arms over her waist. When she looked up again, her eyes were steely.

"Our favourite psychotic Slayer has managed to escape from hell. "

This shocked a response from Angel. "Faith?" He asked quickly, his eyes widening. "Tell me this is some kind of sick joke."

Buffy's eyes floated back to him for a moment, her face softening. "Nice to see you still have a tongue."

"This is deadly serious I'm afraid." Giles said, pacing anxiously. "Faith has returned, along with several demon followers that she released from the pits of hell." He paused, rubbing his forehead. "Some of them are quite disgusting, I'm told."

Angel swallowed, his throat dry. "I remember." He whispered.

Alana's face registered confusion, highly contrasting with Buffy's own guilty expression. "Angel, what are-" She was cut off by Angel's hands coming to rest on her forearms.

"Later." He promised. "I'll explain it all later." He took his hands away, stepping toward his old friends.

"What's the plan?" He asked, his eyes resting on Buffy, pushing away the desire to wrap his arms around her and never let go.

"We take her. This is our battle. Angel, you can play if you really want to, but your friends are to stay out of this." Buffy warned, eyeing Alana.

"Hey! I'm the slayer now, and this is *my* town. You can't tell me what to do." Alana cried, angered.

Buffy set her jaw determinedly. "Wrong. This is *our* town." She said, gesturing to her friends, behind her. "You've just been minding it for us."

"Oh? You're town? Then where have you been? I don't believe I've ever seen you around here before." Kressa said, flicking her red and blonde streaked hair over her shoulders.

"Not for the past 150 years, anyway." Spike muttered. The new Slayerettes all turned to face him. "You didn't know? These guys have been dead for years." He waved a hand as if this were obvious.

They all fell silent. Finally, Buffy spoke. "We've been fending off as many nasties as we could before they could get to you. We've been binding and rebinding holes between the dimensions. We've been practising our skills because we knew that we'd be fighting the big battle." She glanced at Oz. "Show them."

Oz smiled slightly. "Check this out, Angel, it's cool." He held his hand up, balled it into a fist, then flicked his fingers out, as if releasing a handful of ashes into the air. Coarse fur began to grow on his fingers and hands, spreading down his arm quickly. He let it get as far as his elbow before revesrsing the process, his skin becoming smooth and human once again.

Angel raised an eyebrow. "Impressive."

"I told you." Oz smiled.

"Ok, that was strange." Kelly said, raising a hand to her chest. "Are you a werewolf?"

Oz frowned. "Sorta."

"A highly developed, specially trained werewolf." Willow added, stepping forward. "I'm Willow, and this is my boyfriend Oz. The woman you are being highly hostile towards is Buffy, and...." Willow went on to introduce the others, but Angel wasn't listening.

She looked exactly the same.

Every detail.

Her hair, still a bright, shiny blonde colour, hung loose around her shoulders, framing her tiny features. Her eyes were still wide and expressive, flickering through a million emotions a minute; Mischief, concentration, anxiousness, bravery, anger, jealousy....

Jealousy.

Alana.

A flash of guilt ran through him. He was with another woman.

A woman he cared about, and didn't want to see hurt. He didn't want Alana to suffer.

Besides. How long would Buffy be here? If it was a long term thing, he knew he'd never be able to stay away from her. Never be strong enough to resist those wide green eyes and soft pink lips.

Hell, he was surprised he'd made it this far.

Buffy stared right back at him, fighting her own internal battle.

Jealousy and understanding raged inside her, each emotion begging for her to let it dominate.

She'd known about Alana. Had seen him with her. Had seen him touch her. Had seen him kiss her.

She often spent hours watching Angel.

But it was one thing seeing the scenes in a floating light orb, and quite another when the person was a solid, real being who was glaring at her with a fiery intensity that Buffy admired.

That was the most annoying thing about this situation. She *liked* Alana. What she'd seen of her anyway. She was a good, sweet, strong person, and Buffy didn't want to hurt her.

And that meant staying away from Angel.

But staring into his chocolate eyes, she wasn't sure she'd be able to do that.

"I hate my life." She whispered under her breath, and she knew Angel heard her from the sympathetic half-smile he sent her.

Oh, god.... Her mind raced, with all the memories, overloading her senses. She put a hand out, steadying herself against the table.

Apparently not steadied enough, because she blacked out seconds later.


Part 3

Buffy drifted back into consciousness several minutes later, fuzzy voices seeping into her mind. She tried to open her eyes, but found them shut tightly, her lids unwilling to part and let the world in.

Part of her was relieved. She knew Angel was still nearby; Could feel his soul reaching out to hers in worry.

Problem was, she knew that when she opened her eyes, he would be on the other side of the room; Alana on his arm, living his new life.

She mentally growled at herself in anger, telling herself to get over it, to stop being such a big baby.

They weren't together. He was with Alana now.

Not her.

She forced her eyes open, bracing herself for the distance between herself and Angel.

And found herself staring into his concerned brown eyes. She smiled, letting herself fall into the chocolate depths for a moment before speaking.

"Hi." She mumbled, and he sighed in relief, standing up and offering her his hand. She stared at it a moment, dreading the electricity the would come with his touch...and also yearning for it so much that it was almost too much to bear. Finally, she slipped her small hand into his big one, letting him pull her up, closing her eyes and willing herself to ignore the tingle that spread through her body.

When she opened them again, she looked around this library, properly for the first time since their arrival.

"Man, this place looks exactly the same as it did before I blew it up." She muttered, subconsciously aware that she was just distracting herself and everybody else from the tension between her and Angel.

Kelly's mouth fell open. "You blew it up?" She squeaked.

Buffy glanced at her. "Yeah. The mayor turned into a big snake. We had to kill him somehow."

"I see." Adrian slowly. "Please refrain from destroying any school property during your stay here. I'd hate to have to explain to-"

Angel cut him off. "She'll be good." He promised.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Buffy muttered, for the first time noticing that half of her friends had disappeared.

Angel caught her confused look. "They've gone to the mansion." He explained. "I said we'd catch up."

Buffy spun around to face him fully. "We're staying at the mansion?" She asked, her eyes wide.

Angel shrugged. "It was Giles' idea."

"It's a bad idea!! Bad!!!" She cried.

Alana walked up next to Angel, hands on her hips. "Exactly what I said."

"See! Your girlfriend thinks it's a bad idea." Buffy said, pointing at Alana.

"Buffy, what's the big deal?" Xander asked, leaning back in his chair.

Buffy regained her composure. "No big deal. I'm just a little tired. Sorry."

She dropped into a chair, ignoring Angel's worried gaze and sinking into her thoughts.

Could she handle staying in the mansion with Angel? Could she deal, knowing that he was just a few metres away, yet still not hold him; touch him; kiss him?

She let her head fall into her hands.

She never should have come.


Part 4

Alana watched Angel closely as they sat in the Great Hall of the mansion, his face solemn and serious.

"Repeat that for me?" She said, bewildered.

He sighed and sat down. "I spent several hundred years in hell."

She gaped at him. "How?" She whispered, her heart wrenching at the thought of Angel- her Angel- in hell.

He looked away. "It's not her fault." He murmured, not meeting her eyes.

Alana frowned in confusion.. "Not who's fault?"

Angel didn't reply.

Adrian was skimming through Giles' old watcher diaries, something he'd never done before, as Angel had had them locked up in the mansion's safe. He froze suddenly, raising his eyes and staring at Angel. "Buffy." Adrian whispered. "Buffy sent you."

Alana felt her blood run cold, and then red hot with anger. "What?" She asked furiously.

Angel blinked and slowly raised her eyes to meet Alana's intense gaze. "It's not her fault." He repeated, his voice lowered.

"What? She just fell and *accidentally* pushed you into *hell*?"Alana sneered sarcastically.

Angel stood up, walking over to the fire, staring into it with his back to her.

"Buffy and I have a long and complicated history." He said, not turning around.

Alana waited for him to continue, although she was seriously considering hunting Buffy down in the bedroom she was occupying and beating the hell out of her. Of Course, she'd been considering that scenario *before* she found out about the hell issue, so she knew it could wait.

"In 1996 I was living in New York as a homeless person, feeding off rats and hiding in alleys during the daytime to survive." He knelt down in front of the fire, picking up a log and placing it carefully in the flames. He turned around to face them, though he was not really looking at him. "It was there that the Whistler found me."

"The Whistler?" Alana asked, screwing up her nose in confusion.

"Annoying little pimp demon." Cordelia said, startling them all as she walked through the doorway, settling on the rug in front of the fire.

They all stared at her for a moment. After a few moments she noticed their attention. "What?" She asked, annoyed. "I know the story. I lived through it, remember?"

Angel shrugged and continued with the story. "He made me an offer. Be someone, or be no-one." He leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. "He directed me to LA, where I saw Buffy. 16 years old and unaware of the darkness that was about to invade her life." He smiled sadly. "She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Innocent and open, smiling in the sunshine."

Cordelia lifted a finger and pointed at Angel's face. "See that? It's commonly termed as Buffy face."

Alana glared at her, suddenly terrified by an expression she had seen on Angel's face a million times.

"Anyway, I saw her called. I followed her around in LA for a few months, then she was expelled from school-"

"Why?" Alana asked. "Why was she expelled from school?"

"Ooh! I know this one!" Cordelia cried. "She burnt down the school gym."

Angel went on, explaining how they had met, their first kiss, the prophecy that predicted her death, and then described the timid beginnings of their relationship.

"On her 17th birthday, I lost my soul." He said. There was a long pause.

"How?" Adrian asked, not having read that volume of Giles' diaries.

"Happiness clause." Cordelia said, munching on a carrot stick. "Buffy and Angel go pelvic, Angel goes homicidal."

"Is that true?" Alana asked Angel.

He nodded. "As Angelus....I'm a monster. Cruel and Cold, vicious, sadistic." He looked down guiltily. "The morning after we...you know....I was horrible. She didn't know I wasn't me.... I taunted her, made her think that she wasn't...good...you know, in bed. Made her think I didn't love her..." He turned away from them again.

"It went on for months. I'd follow her around, threaten her and her friends. I'd sneak into her room at night, leaving sketches of her. Angelus' emotions... they're mine, just...perverted. She was my obsession. I wanted to break her before I turned her, but it proved a challenge. I killed her schoolmates, snapped Giles' girlfriends neck and left her in his bed.... but she survived. "

Alana watched the sorrow on Cordelia's face as Angel told his story, and found herself feeling, for the first time, sorry for the group of people who had been shoved into her life. To have your friend turn on you like that... it was a horrible thought.

"She couldn't kill him." Cordelia said quietly. "She tried, God, she tried, but at the last minute, she always faltered. Always looked into his eyes and for a moment, remembered Angel as he should've been, the loving, gentle, boyfriend who spent his time protecting her instead of destroying her."

"One day, the sarcophagus of Acathla was unearthed." Angel started speaking again. "We- Spike, Drusilla and I- stole the sarcophagus, planning to awaken Acathla." He shook his head. "The world would've been sucked into hell."

"Around this time, Buffy found the disk containing Angel's cure." Cordelia said. "Jenny had translated the curse, but never got the chance to tell anyone cos Angelus got a little snap-happy." She paused and turned to Angel. "She says hello by the way." She waved a perfectly manicured hand in the air. "Anyway, Willow decided she'd do it. The first time, she was sorta interrupted by Angel's vampire cronies, who kidnapped Giles. Willow ended up in hospital, and Buffy went to kill Angel." She grew solemn. "Willow decided to try the spell again."

"Buffy showed up at the Mansion just as I was about to complete the ritual to awaken Acathla. She was working with Spike, and apparently her mother had found out about Buffy being the Slayer." He paused. "She didn't react too well." He shook his head. "Anyway, Spike and Buffy were fighting off my minions, and didn't see me pull the sword from Acathla's chest. They finished with the minions, and Buffy came after me. She was about to stab me, when Willow completed the spell. My soul was returned."

"But it was too late..." Adrian whispered, catching on to where this was leading.

Angel nodded. "The porthole to hell had already been opened. My blood was sacrificed to open it, and my blood needed to be sacrificed to close it."

They sat in silence, Angel collecting his thoughts before continuing.

"I didn't know what was going on. I noticed she was hurt, and that's all that mattered. So I hugged her, and she kissed me, and told me she loved me, asked me to close my eyes.... and killed me."

Alana blinked back her tears. "So what did she do?"

Cordelia answered. "Her mother had told her not to come back if she left the house...Of course, Buffy had to leave the house, or the world would have gone to hell." She said , rolling her eyes. "You know, I never did like her Mom..." She said, drifting away for a moment before returning her concentration to the conversation. "Buffy disappeared for months. When she got back... we weren't all that understanding." Cordelia admitted. "We didn't know...."

They spent the next several hours telling their tale, needing for Alana to ease up on Buffy, just a little, if only for Angel's peace of mind.


Part 5

Alana stretched the covers up to her chin, settling into her bed in the lonely darkness.

She couldn't get the way Angel had looked when he spoke of Buffy out of her mind. The longing that filled his eyes as he spoke of seeing her called. The pain that had settled in when the subject of her 17th birthday and the months that followed was brought up. The deep sadness as he spoke of leaving her, of walking away after her graduation.

Alana sighed, hating that he had loved so deeply in his lifetime.

Hated even more that it was Buffy that he had loved.

She and Buffy were in competition for everything, it seemed.

Who Angel loved more. Who had the blondest hair. Who was the strongest slayer.

It hurt, a lot, that Angel had never mentioned these people to her before. These supposedly great warriors who he had worked with.

Who had been his friends.

It hurt that he hadn't mentioned that he had been heavily involved with a Slayer, who was, apparently, the strongest in history.

She knew why he hadn't, of course. It was obviously painful for him to talk about. She knew, also that maybe he had been trying to protect her from it. From his painful past with a woman he loved.

She closed her eyes, willing sleep to come and drag her away from her unsettling thoughts. Thoughts of Angel in hell. Thoughts of Angel without a soul. Thoughts of Angel leaving her.

If she was truthful, she didn't know which was the worst.

****

Angel leaned against the doorway, cocking his head to the side as he watched Buffy sleep, her nose screwing up occasionally as if in concentration. The action was so simple, so sweet that it filled him with a deep desire that he had trouble pushing away.

Sighing, he turned and walked out of the room, knowing that if he spent one more moment watching her in her peaceful slumber, his resolve would break.

****

Spike's eyes followed him as he walked into the main room, cocking his head to the side.

Angel glanced at him. "What?" He asked testily.

"Angel and the Slayer, sitting in a tree. K*I*S*S*I*N*G" He drawled.

Angel sat down heavily. "Shut the hell up, Spike." He growled. "Buffy and I are over. Of the past. Finite."

"Oh, Please, Soul Boy." Spike rolled his eyes. "Alana's not around now. You don't have to pretend that the mere sight of her doesn't make your head all light and tingly, your body go all jelly like, your skin start feeling too-" He cut himself off abruptly when Angel raised his eyebrows and gave him a funny look.

"You know what I'm saying. You still love her, and always will." Spike said.

Angel sighed. "It's too hard Spike. No matter how much I love her...."

"No matter how much she loves you?" Spike inquired.

Angel's eyes fell to the floor. "It doesn't matter. Too many people will get hurt."

"Alana?" Spike asked, watching the man he had come to think of as a friend nod.

"It'll hurt more the longer you leave it." Spike said wisely.

Angel raised his head. "Since when do you care?" He asked.

Spike shrugged. "You're all my friends. 'Sides, I don't know how much longer I can watch you two and your googly eyes."

Angel stared at him. Was he right?

Angel shook his head, needing time to find his answers.


Part 6

Buffy padded out of the guest room half an hour later, awakened by the miniscule sound of Angel moving around in one of the small storage rooms that the mansion contained. She tiptoed to the door, not wanting to wake the others.

Angel was kneeling in front of a large wooden chest, staring intently at Mr Gordo.

"What is your fascination with that pig?" Buffy asked, smiling when he jumped, startled.

He stood slowly, handing it to her and shrugging.

Her eyes fell on the open chest behind them. "Wow. It's like a shrine of all things me."

Angel would have blushed, had he the ability.

She grinned. "Don't suppose Mr Pointy is in there somewhere?"

He nodded, picking up the stake and tossing it to her. She caught it easily, slipping it in the waistband of her pants before settling on the floor, tugging on his arm. He sat down next to her.

"I can't believe you kept all this stuff, Achmed." She muttered, picking up a photo frame containing a picture of her, Xander and Willow in the park one day.

He gave her a sheepish half-smile. "I couldn't let it go."

"You missed us. Understandable." Buffy reassured him. "We missed you."

His brown eyes met her green ones.

"*I* missed you." Buffy whispered.

His face crumpled slightly for a moment. "I wanted to go with you." He said, his voice lowered.

Buffy shook her head sadly. "I didn't want to leave you."

"I know." Angel replied, looking down. There was a pause, and when he spoke again, his voice was careful, unsure. "What's it like?"

Buffy watched him for a moment, confused, before catching on. "Heaven?" She asked, studying him.

He nodded.

"It's strange." Buffy said, twisting her hands. "It's like....It creates places that your head, or your heart connects with happiness...with the better times in your life.A few details are different...Like, the library. It's one of our places, but it's sunnier, and the chairs are more comfortable. And there are always jelly donuts."

He chuckled.

"I...I also have my room, as it was when I was 16 years old...the butterflies, the soft toys...the window always open in case you decided to drop by..."

Angel smiled at the memory, reaching out to brush a piece of her hair from her eyes, knowing in his heart that the simple gesture was dangerous, but unable to ignore the compulsion to do so.

Her hair fascinated him; The way it shimmered even in the darkness, as if it generated it's own sunlight. The silky feel of it on his fingers, and the apple scent that always accompanied it's movement.

She smiled, tears welling in her eyes. "I watched you, you know."

He frowned in confusion. "Huh?"

"I watched you. All the time. I'd watch you until I couldn't bear to see you anymore because it hurt too much that you weren't there."

"Oh." He said, growing still. "That's why you weren't surprised by Alana."

She nodded slowly. "Yeah. She's nice."

Angel's face became pained. "She is."

"But?"

"She's not you."

Buffy stared at him, her lips trembling. "Now's not our time, Angel. We have to be strong...."

"I'm not strong." Angel replied.

"Me either. And this conversation isn't helping."

A heavy silence fell over them, each refusing to look at the other.

Buffy growled after a moment, and Angel glanced up at her quickly, confused.

"What's wrong?" He asked her, concerned.

She threw her hands up. "I need clothes."

Angel nearly chuckled at the rather obvious change of conversation.

He bit his lips. "Why?"

"Well, I didn't really pack a suitcase for this trip." She said, rolling her eyes. "And there is *no way* I'm wearing this every day." She gestured to the white tank top and black pants she wore.

He watched her for a moment, considering her dilemma. Finally, he smiled. "Couldn't have that." He murmured. "There's a 24 hour mall ten minutes away."

She grinned, clapping her hands. "Let's go."

He stood, extending his hand to help her up.

She took it, brushing away the rush of desire she felt at his touch


Part 7

Buffy smiled as they entered the mall, the bright lights contrasting with the early morning darkness. She grinned over at Angel and Spike.

"Ok, this is something I never thought I'd do.? '´ She laughed.

Spike looked at her strangely. "Huh? ´

"Go midnight shopping with two of the world's most infamous vampires. '´

Spike shrugged. "³What, did you think we'd go during the day? '´

She thought about this for a moment.

Spike grinned and gave her a satisfied nod. "See? '´

She giggled.

They all knew Spike was official chaperon. It was dangerous for Angel and Buffy to be alone.

They all knew it.

Stuff happened.

Passions rose.

Desire roared.

And it killed them to ignore it.

Even now, with Spike standing firmly in between them, Buffy could feel Angel.

It was torture.

****

Angel gazed at Buffy through the corner of his eye as she rummaged through the rack of clothing.

She picked up a red tank top, holding it up to get his approval.

He groaned in his mind. If she was going to be walking around in these outfits, it was definitely going to be hard to keep his mind off the sweet, warm flesh that lay beneath.

She noticed that he had drifted off into imagination land and cocked an eyebrow.

"Having fun? '´ She asked, amused.

He snapped back to reality. "No. '´ He muttered.

She took his irritation to be in relation to the shopping. "Oh, come on. Shopping ain 't that bad! '´

He shrugged. "I guess. '´

"That's the spirit. '´ She said dryly.

He chuckled. "Sorry. It's been a long day. '´

"I'll bet. '´

"Hey Slayer! '´ Spike called. She turned and walked over to him. He held up a spiked leather collar. "How bout this? '´

She smiled. "Sure. '´ She took it from him. "If I was an extra in an S&M movie. '´

She threw it away and he shrugged. "Worth a try. '´

The trio strolled out of the shop.

"It 's amazing how many people are here in the middle of the night.'´ Buffy commented.

Spike shrugged. "Half of em are probably vampires, or demons of some sort. '´

:Yay. '´ Buffy muttered. "I'm in full 'see no evil ' mode. '´

"You sure about that? '´ Angel asked, cocking his head in the direction of a small jewelry cart not far away from them.

"Faith. '´ Buffy murmured, anger flaring up in her as she watched the brunette flirting with some poor defenseless kid.

Angel's eyes darkened, and the three of them stalked up to where she stood.

They stood behind her, arms crossing their arms.

Buffy cleared her throat when Faith didn't notice their presence.

Faith groaned. "You always gotta poop the party, huh B? '´ She said, turning around.

"It s an addiction. '´ Buffy replied.

"I was just playing nice with the other boys and girls. '´

"Save it Faith. '´ Buffy said. "If you disappear right now, I won't kick your ass to an unrecognizable pulp. '´

Faith smiled coldly. "You 'll get yours. '´ She promised, before turning and heading for the exit.

Buffy frowned after her, annoyed that her pleasant night of shopping had been interrupted.

"Angel, man, I liked her! '´ The boy Faith had been talking to cried.

Angel shook his head. "See how much you like her when she's pulling your intestines out with a with a switchblade. '´

"She's evil? '´ The kid asked.

"Extremely. '´ Buffy replied.

The kid stared at her. "Who are you? '´

"This is the Slayer, Rosso. '´ Spike replied. "Ok'´ Ross replied, thoroughly confused.

"It's a long story. '´ Angel told the kid, a rather new addition to the current Slayerettes. "Let's go get something to eat and I'll tell you there. '´

As they walked off in the direction of the food court, Buffy lagged behind a little, still uneasy from her encounter with Faith


Part 8

Faith walked across the parking lot, her scowl darkening with each passing second.

Things could have been different.

She knew that.

If she'd just played along, been the good little slayer, followed the rules.

Buffy followed them.

Ok, so maybe not all of them.

Screwing a vamp? I'm thinking that's gotta be pretty much No 1 on bad things list. Even if he did have a soul, and was lusciously fuckable.

"But did anyone ever say she was bad? No! But the second I kill a few people, I'm like this big villain." She muttered to herself.

A cold smile spread across her lips. No mind. I like being a villain. There was a dark power that accompanied being evil; A new form of adrenaline that made you feel as if you could do anything at all.

Sometimes, when her knife was sliding through flesh- any flesh, good, bad, human or demon- it felt like she was flying. Like she had separated from her body, and left all her problems, all her pain, behind.

Other people's pain was the best anesthetic.

****

Ross stared at Buffy. "Wow." He glanced at Angel. "This little girl did all that?"

Buffy glared at him. "Watch who you're calling a little girl."

"You've seen Alana kick some demon derriere." Spike rolled his eyes. "She's as tiny as Blondie."

"You'd think after a hundred and fifty years that he'd learn my name." Buffy commented.

Angel smirked. "He hasn't got many brain cells left."

"Eh! I resent that!" Spike cried.

Buffy snickered.

"Ok. This is one of the weirdest situations I've ever been in." Ross said.

"Really?" Buffy said. She glanced at Angel. "Is he kidding?"

"He's new." Angel replied, nodding slightly.

"Ahh." She studied Ross for a minute. "Well, kid: You ain't seen nothin' yet."

****

Alana jolted awake as she felt the presence of another person in her bedroom. Slowly, she opened her eyes to see an older girl with curly chestnut blonde hair falling over her shoulders, a tiny black tank top showing off her ample cleavage. A pair of black leather pants completed the look, but it was the eyes that wigged Alana.

They were dark, and tainted with only the slightest hint of human emotion.

Pity the emotion was malice.

Instinctively, Alana knew this was Faith.

She sat up slowly. "What do you want?"

"To see what your insides look like." Faith said in an overly dramatic villains whisper before snickering.

"Funny." Alana rolled her eyes.

"Sorry. Always wanted to use one of those cliched movie lines." Faith replied, with false friendliness. She circled Alana's bed, gazing at her, evaluating her.

"God, it's like Buffy the second." Faith said in disgust. "Shoulda known Angel would go for a mirror image of her."

"Buffy and I don't look that much alike!" Alana protested.

Faith sneered. "It's the eyes. So innocent....what do they look like when you're going in for the kill, though?" She shook her head and snorted. "Innocence is lost, and you're just like me."

"I'm not like you." Alana replied icily.

"That's what B said. Course, a few weeks later she was shoving a knife in my stomach to keep her boy alive, so I think maybe she was wrong."

"If that's true, it was for a reason. Buffy wouldn't kill for no reason."

"God, she's been here two minutes and you're already on the Buffy Brigade."

Alana ignored her. "If you want to survive, I suggest you get out of my room right now."

"You're not ready." Faith replied, walking to the window, looking back. "Yet."

In moments, all that remained where Faith had been was an empty window, the blinds blowing softly in the wind.

****

Buffy removed a black silk shirt from her bag, holding it up for Willow's approval.

Willow grinned. "I like."

Cordelia looked over from where she was filing her nails. "I can't believe you didn't wake me."

Buffy shrugged. "Didn't think you guys'd be up for a 3am shopping spree. Sorry."

"So did you and Angel make with the smoochies yet?" Cordy asked, throwing the file down and leaned forward, ready for Buffy to dish.

Buffy shook her head. "No. And we're not going to."

"Oh, please. You're telling me, that after 150 years of not seeing each other, not touching each other, you're not gonna do anything? Even though you know his soul is permanent?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying." She turned around and started folding up her new clothing. "What Angel and I have now is purely platonic." She threw her shirt down and spun around to face Cordy. "Was I convincing?" She asked in a small voice.

"Not in the slightest bit." Oz said, looking up from the magazine he was reading. "Sorry Buff."

Buffy sighed. "What am I gonna do, guys?"

Her only answer was silence.


Part 9

Alana ran a hand through her blonde hair as she stalked into the Mansion at 10am. It had taken her an hour to get back to sleep after Faith had dropped in for a little chat the night before.

There was something so...unbalanced about Faith. She was creepy.

Ok, she was scary.

Terrifying.

The cold friendliness she displayed. The angry glint in her eye. The twisted smile.

Alana shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself.

She walked into the great hall, repressing a scowl when she saw the others lazing around on Angel's furniture.

Buffy and Angel were sparring in front of the fireplace, and Alana had to take a moment to watch Buffy's fluid movements and powerful strikes.

It killed her to admit it, but she had to admire Buffy. As a fighter, anyway.

She grabbed Angel's shoulders, flipping him over, and jumping on him, straddling his waist.

Alana wasn't sure she liked her in that position.

It didn't matter, because they weren't in it long. Buffy brought her hand downward, as if she were holding a stake, and then smiled.

"Loser." She grinned, jumping off Angel.

He glared at her. "I think you broke my ribs."

She winced, and gave him an apologetic smile, shrugging. "You'll heal."

He nodded. "I think I already did."

He was the first to notice Alana's presence in the doorway. "Alana. Hi." He said, walking over to stand near her.

She gave him a small smile. "Hi Angel." She looked around at the group. "I don't remember all your names, but hi."

A few of them gave small waves.

"Hey, Alana." Buffy said, a not entirely forced half smile on her face.

They studied each other, a silent agreement passing between them.

In that moment, Alana trusted Buffy. She wasn't sure what Buffy and Angel felt for each other now, though their was no doubt in her mind that they still felt *something*.

But she knew that Buffy wasn't out to destroy her.

Knew that if something did happen between her and Angel, that it was out of passion, rather than a desire to hurt Alana. To beat Alana.

Alana smiled and nodded back, signaling that she knew they weren't in competition

Then she looked back at Angel, who was watching the pair uneasily.

"I had a little visit from Faith." She announced.

Angel groaned.

"Nice girl. Little Psychotic." She went on.

"You're telling us." Xander muttered.

"What did she say?" Willow asked, frowning.

Alana's eyes darkened. "Compared me to Buffy." She met Buffy's eyes. "She says we're just like her."

"We're not." Buffy said angrily. "Never forget that."

"What else?" Angel asked, placing a hand on Alana's shoulder.

Buffy looked away from the simple gesture.

"She said...she said I wasn't ready yet."

Giles shook his head. "It's her that's not ready."

"She's not done playing her little mind games." Willow agreed.

Buffy watched them for a moment before turning back to Alana. "It look's like you've just been called into play." She cocked her head to the side. "You up to it?"

Alana stared back at her, lips twitching into a smile.

"I'm game."


Part 10

Buffy watched from the doorway as Angel practiced Tai-Chi, the muscles in his back rippling in time with his movements. He raised his hands, slowly moving them outward, his great concentration rendering him oblivious to her watchful gaze.

She closed her eyes, silently remembering him teaching her, not long after he returned from hell. He had covered her hands with his own, his arms around her smaller body, guiding her movements.

They had almost kissed that time.

Almost lost control.

Buffy had hated that they needed control.

She found it unfair that two people, so utterly in love, couldn't share a simple kiss, but someone could pick someone up in a bar and sleep with them so easily, with so little consequences.

They had been punished for feeling so deeply.

Where was the justice in that?

Buffy almost laughed at herself, then.

There was no real justice in their world.

Where was the justice when an Eight Year Old boy went hungry because his mother lost all their money gambling? Where was the justice when a beautiful young woman was hired for her looks, rather than her ability? Where was the justice when a innocent soul was punished for the wrongs of the demon which killed him?

In Buffy's eyes, justice no longer existed.

****

Adrian jumped as he heard Alana's voice ring out through the library, his movement sending papers flying onto the floor.

"You startled me." He said, raising a hand to his chest, feeling the rapid heartbeat.

She gave him an apologetic smile.

"I was going through Giles' Watcher's Diaries." He told her, placing it down. "Interesting reading."

"How so?" She asked lightly, perching on the admissions counter.

"Well, they've shed some light on the characters of our preternatural friends, for one thing."

"Angel and Spike?" Kressa asked, leaning her chin on her hand.

Adrian gave an absentminded nod. "It seems Spike was quite the villain until...1999. He was captured by a highly secretive operation called the Initiative after that, and can't hurt anyone anymore. They never found out exactly why."

"We know all that." Lee said, rolling his eyes. "We want some *real* dirt."

"Real Dirt???" Adrian asked, glancing down at the book. There were a fair few little fact in these books about Angel and Buffy that he was sure Alana *never* wanted to know.

Like the fact that Angel and Buffy had made a habit of sharing dreams...

Like the fact that Buffy had forced Angel to feed from her when Faith had attempted to poison him...

Like the fact that Angel had given up his humanity for her.

Alana had been stunned enough by the story that Angel had told them the night before....

Had it only been a night??? To Adrian it felt like much, much, more.

He had spent all his time since 'The Scooby Gang' had shown up researching them, and he had to admit, found what he read largely impressive.

Now, almost twenty four hours later, he was still on a slight 'watchers-high' from the rush of information he had absorbed. He was itching to speak to them about the afterlife, and the ghost roads that Buffy had briefly mentioned.

"Yeah. Come on, Dish." Kelly leaned forward.

He sighed and turned away from them, hiding his eyes from Alana. "The Watcher's Diaries are an important source of knowledge. They are not here for your amusement.

He felt Alana's hand on his arm, and slowly lifted his eyes to hers.

"It talks about them, doesn't it?" She asked quietly, referring to Buffy and Angel.

He bit his lip and nodded.

"That bad, huh?" Kressa winced.

Adrian dropped his eyes to the floor. "If she wants him back...."

Alana smiled sadly, accepting the truth she had known since the moment that Buffy spoke.

"I'm pretty much out of the picture."


Part 11

Angel slowly opened his eyes, realizing that he was being watched.

Buffy....

He turned around, and sure enough, there she was, smiling sadly at him. They stood there a moment, not speaking, but somehow communicating on a different level.

Angel reached out a hand, smoothing her blonde hair away from her face. She moaned at his touch, the icy chill of his hand contrasting nicely with her own warm skin.

"I think it's just sinking in that you're actually here." He murmured, and she opened her eyes.

Unconsciously, they were moving closer and closer to each other, until there was a gap of but a few centimeters between them.

"We're doing it again." Buffy whispered, blinking her green eyes at him.

Angel stared back at her, swallowing. He could smell her in the air. Her scent hadn't changed over time. It was still exactly the same as it was when he first saw her, a comforting blend of sugar and spice, laced with the aroma of her blood; Strong, warm and sensual. He could feel her hot breath on his cold face, and he slipped his arms around her waist, leaning his face close to hers.

"I'm really supposed to care, I know..." He replied softly before capturing her lips in a heated kiss, running his hands up her back, caressing her neck, luxuriating in the feel of her flesh....

Buffy smiled against Angel's mouth, biting down softly on his lower lips, nibbling at the sweet flesh. She twined her arms around his neck, and felt his strong hands supporting her back as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

He spun them around, pushing her against the wall, moving his mouth down her neck, taking tiny nips at the skin, licking the vein that pulsed behind her ear.

Buffy sighed in pleasure, digging her fingers into his back.

Suddenly, she couldn't remember why they hadn't done this before.

****

The rest of the group sat in the great hall, lounging around together, flicking through magazines or going over new spells.

They all looked up quickly when a loud BANG sounded from the other room.

They stared at the wall for a moment.

"Finally." They muttered in unison.

Cordelia held a hand out. "Pay Up."

****

Buffy joined them 45 minutes later, straightening her shirt and blushing. She sat down, pretending not to notice the amused stares directed at her.

Finally, she growled, and looked up petulantly. "What?"

"Have Fun?" Cordy asked, counting her money with an enormous smile on her face.

"Why, Miss Chase, I have no idea what you're talking about." Buffy said innocently.

Doyle raised an eyebrow. "Uh huh." He leaned in close to her. "Your hickey is showing."

She tugged at her collar. "Better?"

He gave a small nod, and she leaned against him, resting her head on her friend's shoulder, murmuring to herself.

"We just crossed the line." A slow, wicked grin settled onto her face. "But it was worth it."

****

When Angel joined the group, Buffy was fast asleep on Doyle's shoulder. He did his best not to let his gaze linger on her, sitting down next to Willow and picking up a magick book from her pile.

He flicked the page open, scanning the words but not comprehending them.

He could still feel Buffy's touch on his skin, the ghost of her kisses lingering on his neck. He growled quietly to himself, blinking, attempting once again to focus on the binding spell in front of him.

"Dead Boy got lucky, Dead Boy got lucky...." Xander chanted quietly, not looking up from his stake sharpening.

Angel groaned and buried his head in his hands. "You all know?"

"We heard." Cordelia told him, smiling mischievously. "You guys really like to break stuff, huh?"

Willow patted Angel on the back. "Your secrets safe with us."

"What secret???" Alana asked, appearing in the doorway.

All fell silent, except Xander, who grinned casually. "Angel shot JFK."

Angel stared at him for a moment. "I don't think Alana knows who JFK is, Xander."

"So she won't care that you shot him then, will she?" Xander teased.

Angel rolled his eyes, but Alana stared at them all in confusion.

"Who the hell is JFK?"

****

Buffy blinked her eyes open groggily, raising her head to smile at Doyle.

He glanced down at her. "Evenin, Sleepy." He drawled, his Irish accent lilting and comforting to her tired ears.

"I hope I didn't drool on you." She murmured.

He studied his sleeve. "Nope. Drool free."

She nodded, turning to gaze at the mismatched group of people around her.

Cordelia, Kressa, and Anya were discussing the fashion in a modern issue of Cosmo, Cordelia picking out the faults in certain outfits, and Kressa agreeing wholeheartedly.

Lee, Willow, Wesley, Adrian and Giles were poring through magick books, taking notes on spells that they could use against Faith.

Oz was explaining to Ross the intricacies of a complicated guitar riff, and Spike was half heartedly listening to that.

Kelly and Xander were discussing Comics over a bowl of M&Ms, occasionally offering the bowl around.

But it wasn't any of them that caught her attention.
It was Angel and Alana, sitting on the sofa together.

They were going through a crusty old book, and Alana was smiling, her hand resting on Angel's leg.

Doyle followed her gaze, noting the mix of jealousy and shame that flickered in her eyes, before settling on an emotion.

Hurt.

She was in serious pain, and he watched as her whole body tensed up. She stood slowly.

"Excuse me." She said briskly, looking away from his grey eyes. "I need to go kill something."

"Now, Buffy..." He murmured, but she was already out of the room, moving at lightning speed.

Angel raised his head, for the first time noticing that Buffy had woken.

His eyes rested on the door for a moment, and then at Alana, sitting so close to him.

He swallowed guiltily.

What had he gotten himself into?


Part 12

Buffy wiped furiously at her eyes as she walked through the cemetery, biting her lip.

It had hurt so badly to see Angel so cozy with Alana so soon after they had made love.

It felt like she was dying.

Hadn't it meant anything to him??

She knew it had.She knew he still loved her...just maybe not enough.

She took a deep, hitching breath, attempting to calm herself.

If Angel wanted Alana....let him have her. She hoped they were very happy.

She let out a high pitched laugh that sounded foreign to her own ears. She sounded bitter, and a little hysterical. She made a face, but couldn't stop laughing, even when she felt the presence behind her.

"Wow, B." Faith said casually, raising an eyebrow and leaning against a tree. "You've gone insane."

Buffy held a hand to her stomach, finally calming herself.

"Pot, Kettle." She replied, her lips twitching.

Faith snorted. "I'm very much sane, thank you." She circled Buffy. "In that I'm not standing in the middle of a graveyard laughing like a hyena on acid."

"Yeah, well, excuse me if for once I just wanna let go." Buffy muttered angrily. "What do you care. anyway?"

"Really, B. I'm concerned." Faith said in mock sympathy.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Just leave me alone, Faith."

"What happened, B? Angel and Alana get a little groiny?"

Buffy glared at her. "No."

"But it is to do with Alana, though. Don't lie to me, B." She smiled coldly. "It's gotta be torture for you, huh? Seeing him with her...seeing him touch her....seeing her touch him..." Faith whispered breathily.

Buffy set her mouth in an emotionless line. "No."

"No what?" Faith repeated. "Like I'm gonna believe that you're perfectly fine with this. You've got a nasty jealous streak, B. You nearly killed me after I touched your man."

Buffy shook her head. "Slightly different circumstances, Faith." She sighed. "You're not gonna go away 'til I admit it are you? And you aren't going to attack me...."

Faith shrugged. "Well, you never know. If you sound whiny enough I might just have to throw a punch."

"Fine." Buffy said angrily. "It feels like I'm drowning again, ok? I can't breathe. I'm being torn apart from the inside out, and there ain't nothing I can do about it." She was yelling now, her arms thrown out wide.

Faith studied her. "Sure there is. Go back and claim what's yours." She smiled wickedly. "Want, take, have, B. Want, take, have."

She turned and stalked into the shadows, leaving Buffy standing alone.

"I already did." She whispered. "It didn't work."

****

Alana watched Angel as he stared at the doorway forlornly.

She knew what he was struggling with. She could see it in his eyes when he looked at her.

He was trying to work out a nice way to break up with her.

She closed her eyes, knowing that he cared for her.

But he loved Buffy, it was clear.

She took a deep breath, knowing that what she was about to do would possibly be one of the hardest things, like, ever.

If you love somebody, set them free;

"Angel, I think we should talk." She said determinedly.


Part 13

Alana swallowed as she saw Buffy sitting on a swing in the park, gently rocking back and forth. She steadied herself, slowly approaching the older Slayer.

Buffy lifted her head slightly, meeting Alana's eyes.

"You've been crying." Buffy said, worry evident in her voice.

"So have you." Alana replied.

Buffy watched her, and Alana sighed, sinking into the swing next to Buffy's.

"I broke up with Angel." Alana told her, scuffing the toe of her sneaker in the dirt.

Buffy looked up quickly. "Why?"

Alana snorted. "I like Angel Buffy. But he loves you. And there ain't no way I'm gonna be in a relationship where I'm constantly in the shadow of his ex-girlfriend. Uh-uh. No way. I have some self esteem, thankyou very much!"

Buffy smiled at her slightly. "Good to hear."

Alana grinned at her easily. "Especially cos it leaves him open to you, huh?"

Buffy eyed her suspiciously. "You're handling this *way* too well."

Alana shrugged. "The way I figure it, there ain't time to worry about it. It wasn't meant to be for Angel and I." She smiled faintly. "There'll be other guys."

"Wow. I was never that mature."

Alana laughed, the happy sound rapidly turning into a sob.

"Oh, Alana...." Buffy said quietly, unable to find the words to comfort her sister slayer.

Instead, she knelt in front of the girl, wrapping her arms around her and rocking back and forth.

Never should have come....

****

Buffy strode into the mansion an hour later.

Alana had cried in her arms for what seemed like an eternity before giving Buffy a watery smile, advising her not to waste a precious second of the time she had with Angel.

Buffy planned on following her advice.

She found him alone in his bedroom, asleep with a book in his hands. She smiled softly, watching in fascination as his face twitched in his sleep. Her eyes swept over his bare chest, admiring the creamy flesh.

She took a step towards the bed, kicking off her shoes and unbuttoning her silk blouse before slipping under the covers with him, snuggling up to his chest. An arm slipped around her waist, pulling her closer, but he didn't stir.

She grinned, kissing his Adams Apple before sinking into a deep sleep.

****

Angel woke slowly when the weight on his chest shifted.

He blinked an eye open to see Buffy, burrowing her tiny head into his chest, on of her small hands lying palm down over his abdomen.

Okaaay....

He didn't remember her joining him, but shrugged that fact off, kissing her forehead and leaning his cheek against her hair.

He felt her hand move on his stomach, her thumb moving back and forth as she drifted back to awareness.

She lifted her head, staring at him through a veil of silken blonde hair.

"Come here often?" She murmured, grinning.

He chuckled. "How long have you been here?"

She shrugged. "Few Hours I guess."

"I can't believe I didn't wake up."

"Hey! You're not the only one who can be stealthy." Buffy responded. propping herself up on her elbows.

Angel grinned, grabbing her and rolling over. He sat above her, a mischeivous grin adorning his dark features. He moved his hands in frenzied circles across her abdomen, smiling when he felt her start to wriggle.

Finally, she couldn't stand it anymore, erupting in giggles. She caught his hands.

"Stop. Please Stop!" She begged through her laughter.

Finally, he showed some mercy and grew still, gazing down at her with a small smile.

"You still my girl?" He asked in a whisper.

A radiant smile broke out on her face. "Always." She leaned up, touching her lips to hers softly at first, then increasingly more passionately.

She giggled against his lips. "Always."


Part 14

Buffy stretched and strolled out to the main hall, careful not to wake her sleeping lover. She sang softly under her breath, walking to the window and peeking out the blinds. It was a stunning day outside, the world alive with colour and sound. She smiled softly to herself, knowing that she'd rather be living in a monochrome world than a world without Angel.

A voice behind her startled her, making her jump in fright.

"Mornin' Buffy. Sleep Well?" Doyle smiled, handing her a cup of coffee.

"Sleep? I was supposed to sleep?" Buffy replied with a grin. "Where are the others?"

"Out and About. They're giving our young new friends the tour of Sunnydale."

"Tour?" She raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Haven't they lived here their entire lives?"

"It's more of a what demon did what where tour." Doyle rolled his eyes. "They were comparing stories this morning. You missed it."

Buffy closed her eyes, remembering Angel's soft kisses and whispered words. She opened one eyes, grinning lazily at Doyle. "Yet somehow I'll find the courage to live on."

Doyle chuckled. "I take it you and Angel had fun, then."

"Oh yeah. A whole lotta happiness goin' on there."

"Ahh. Good to know." He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "Have you thought about what's gonna happen when we have to go back?"

Her shoulders slumped, and she sighed. "I've been trying not to." She glanced at him. "Denial makes the world go round."

He put a hand on his shoulder. "You have to tell him, Buffy. He has to be able to prepare."

She looked at him with sad eyes. "You can't prepare for heartbreak, Doyle."

"I know, love."

They sat in companionable silence, working out the situations in their heads.

****

Faith smiled as her knife slid through the young man's flesh, catching on bone before slicing evenly through. There was nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of taking a life. Nothing like the tortured screams, the feeling of warm blood coating her small hands.

She dropped the body limply to the ground, staring down at her work in satisfaction.

This was what she excelled at.

Faith had never felt special in her life, before that night. That night that had supposedly changed everything.

It hadn't.

The evil was inside of her, just waiting to be fired upon the world, oozing over it like a blanket of darkness. The events of that night had just given it the strength to free itself.

As a girl, Faith had been pretty enough. She had blossomed into a beautiful teen.But she never had the funds, or the motivation, to keep up with the fashions. To stand out. She blended into the crowd, her face blurring so that she was just like everyone else.

When she had been called, she had harboured a secret pleasure at being different from everyone else.

Special.

And then her watcher had started going on and on about *the* Buffy Summers.

The Other Slayer.

The one who had prevented apocalypse after apocalypse.

The one who rendered William the Bloody a cripple and reduced the Master to a pile of ashes.

The one who always shone just a little brighter than Faith.

Faith had gone to Sunnydale expecting to find a rigid, personality challenged butch of a girl.

And then Buffy showed up in the alley, with her laugh and her friends, and her... life.

There was a spark in Buffy that Faith hadn't expected. It unsettled her. She had expected to at least be able to outcool Buffy.

But no, this Slayer had street smarts.

And then she found out about Angel.

She had been more than a little shocked. This slayer, this legendary, respected slayer was in love with a vampire.

Not just a vampire. Angelus, Scourge of Europe. A Master Vampire.

Faith rotated her hands as she delved through her memories.

She had found herself having... thoughts about Buffy. She still couldn't define if those were sexual thoughts, or romantic, or friendly, or just an overwhelming need to be...needed.

Wanted.

Loved.

But Buffy never noticed. Never Knew.

Faith had tried to bring Buffy out of her shell.

When that had failed, she shut down almost completely.

And a killer was born.