Angel walked into the Summers' house without knocking, like he had done for the past ten years. He called for Spike, but didn't get an answer. He walked through the house, thinking that perhaps Joyce would be in. Seeing that the back door was open he stepped outside and saw Buffy sitting down on the patio, her knees drawn up to her chest and a baseball cap on her head.
Angel had been best friends with Spike since he moved to Sunnydale, eleven years ago. He was only ten, he'd just lost his mother and his father was a drunken mess. His sister Kathy was Spike's cousin, Buffy's age. Joyce had become a surrogate mother to the Farren children, having them to stay over practically every night and taking care of them when their father didn't. Eventually she'd gotten in touch with their uncle Rupert Giles, their last living relative, in England and explained the situation. He'd flown over to take custody of his late sister's children, settling in Sunnydale with them.
Joyce's sister had married an English man and had William, now known as Spike. When the two were killed, she and her husband took Spike in. Buffy was five at the time, Spike was nine. Despite living in Sunnydale for practically his whole life, Spike never lost his British accent.
Buffy didn't turn around or show any sign of hearing Angel so he tapped her on the top of her hat, "Hey kiddo."
She replied with a barely audible "Hey", and Angel could hear that her voice was husky with tears. He settled down next to her and gently took her cap off, letting him see her red, puffy face. He was silent for a few moments, waiting for her to speak.
"I'm fine Angel."
He placed a hand on her knee comfortingly, "You don't cry if you're fine." She repeated her previous words but he shook her head, not believing her for a second, "What's going on?"
A few more tears slid down her face and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her into his chest and sifting his fingers through her hair. It made him ache to see her so sad. She was like a second sister to him, she always had been. She pulled away after a little while.
"It's nothing…I'm sorry, I didn't mean to have an emotional breakdown on you."
"It's obviously something Buffy."
She looked into his deep brown eyes, then spoke in a whisper, "It's embarrassing." Angel's mind went into overdrive. Embarrassing? Girl problems? That really wasn't his area of expertise, but she clearly needed someone to talk to, he couldn't leave her in the state she was in.
"What do you mean?" She didn't answer and he lifted her chin to meet her eyes. "I can't help you if you don't tell me what it is."
"You'll probably hear about it from Kathy anyway."
"I'd rather hear about it from you." She sighed in resignation and wiped her eyes one last time before taking a shaky breath. She had to be sure she wasn't going to start wailing again.
"Abrams? Your boyfriend?"
Buffy looked down and let out a small snort. "Make that ex-boyfriend…well, you know he's a freshman in college and…well we'd only been going out for a few weeks but he…he said he really liked me and, and I thought if I didn't…he'd go find someone else…"
Angel's heart dropped as he realised what she was trying to say, and a sick feeling began to grow in his stomach.
"Anyway we…we…two nights ago. I told mom I was sleeping over at Willow's and I stayed with him, on campus. We…slept together and everything seemed fine yesterday when I woke up. He said he'd call me, but he never did. I figured something had happened…I was gonna go to see him after school. But when I got there today, I heard some guys talking…about me and Parker…"
She took a deep breath and looked down, not wanting to see Angel's face.
"One of them said Parker told him I'd fi-finally given it up…I didn't want to believe…I didn't think…I left school at lunch and took a bus to the campus. I went up to his room a-and he wouldn't let me in…then I heard her voice…"
She covered her face with her hands and bent over, sobbing loudly. Angel's fists tightened in anger, but he reached for her and cradled her against him, his eyes dark with rage. Hurting Buffy was like hurting his sister. And Parker would pay for that. "Ssh, it's okay. It's gonna be okay."
She stayed in his arms for a few more minutes, then pulled away and wiped her eyes. "Why did he do that? Was it me…was I…"
"Buffy, Parker Abrams is a womaniser. You did nothing wrong, none of this was your fault."
"I was so stupid. Everyone told me to stay away from him, Kathy, Willow, you, Spike, Xander. And I thought I knew best. It's just…he was my…first and I wanted it to be special and then he…"
Suddenly there was a sound from in the house. Spike. Buffy quickly grabbed her baseball cap from the floor and shoved it back on her head, wiping the last remnants of tears from her face.
"Angel, I went round yours looking for you. What are you doing here?"
"Came to see you of course. Buffy was keeping me company."
Spike frowned slightly and looked at Buffy, who kept her face down to the ground. "Why aren't you in school?"
"Erm health-ed was cancelled." He seemed to accept the explanation, much to Buffy's relief. Angel and Spike had finished college that year in the summer and now had to get jobs. Angel majored in Art, due to his great talent, and was starting work at Joyce's art gallery the next week, she was even selling off some of his drawings and paintings there. Spike had majored in Engineering and wanted to open his own garage, but hadn't got the money or the place yet.
The two left, after Angel squeezed Buffy's shoulder. She had no doubt Spike would find out what had happened between her and Parker, but she wasn't ready to tell him, not yet