Becoming II

"This is personal. You don't need to be here."

Buffy stared at Angel as if he'd suddenly grown horns and a tail. Of course it'd be personal; everything regarding Drusilla or Spike was always personal to him. She'd just believed that his 'personal' included her. Hers included him; she was all for a shared 'personal' between them, even when it included fretting because Drusilla had been abducted by... a really kind, not tortured by the past, good guy?

Angel didn't think so. He kept saying that time was running out. What for? He wouldn't tell.

For weeks he'd worked with her to get rid of the couple; but as soon as a badly hurt Spike had dropped through the apartment door – literally – her boyfriend had gotten that look on his face. The look that sent her home and accepted no arguments; the one that made Cordelia back down and convinced Giles that they needed to change plans.

Buffy respected that look. If Angel really wanted to get up and rush out into God knew what, even after the ordeal of the day before, Buffy knew better than to try to stop him. Okay, she didn't. But if her efforts had fallen on deaf ears, then she had no option but to follow him.

Even when all she wanted was to scream at the injustice of it. She'd rather relax and celebrate the news, not trail after him through sewers and abandoned places.

But she was here, and he was sending her away? "I'm staying."

He passed a hand through his hair, a sure sign of his anxiety. "That wasn't what I…. Look. I know you don't want to be here. I can handle this on my own, Buffy."

That she'd had the exact thought just a second ago made Buffy feel guilty. "Nuh-uh." She even crossed her arms over her chest. She meant business, damnit. "You're sticking with me. I'm sticking with you. It'll be a whole sticky thing until this mess is over."

His eyes lost the obsessed look for a second; they grew soft and a small smile appeared on his face.

She smiled back, though she still wasn't sure whether this was right. He'd been seriously hurt. And… It was Drusilla! They'd been trying to kill each other for months. Of course, that didn't change the fact that Angel had travelled with her for decades, and that soul or no soul, he still felt that the vampiress was his responsibility, and…

…she'd brood about that fact later, when they were home.

She followed him deeper into the warehouse. In the next minutes it was obvious that this was just another dead end. The place looked as deserted as the others they'd been to.

"Angel?" He didn't answer; but she knew that he was listening. "What do we do when we find her? Call the others?"

He shrugged, kept forward. Buffy readied herself to go after him; but at last moment he halted, looked backwards and extended his hand towards her. "Thank you," he told her, before rounding and leading her into their next destination. Whatever that was.

Buffy sighed. Yes, this was the right choice. So what if all her instincts screamed that she held back? So what if Angel didn't have a sound plan for when they reached their objective? At least she'd gotten into his head that there was a 'they' and a 'their' to this.

For now, that was enough.