My Beaten Heart
Disclaimer: the author does not claim ownership to the characters or plot development mentioned from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or "Angel". These properties expressly belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Greenwolf Corporation, 20th Century Fox Television, WB Network, etc. Any other characters contained in the original story are the author's.

Historical Note: The action in this story takes place after during the BtVS episode, "Forever".

Author's note: Is it possible? Evan Como writing B/A? Incredulous, Wiseblood read, then graciously did the Beta thing. e.c. 25 Apr 01.

06 Jun 01: Cree Summer's song, "Still Heart", accompanies.

by Evan Como

The Comfort Snugglies. Not long after locking hands with him, she'd figured out a way to make her rational mind ignore the affliction. CosmoGirl or Glamour or Seventeen -- God! 17 -- was where she'd read all about it. So, it wasn't like she was the first person to ever glom onto the security found in an old lover's arms.

The irony conundrum was that he had always been old, but she hadn't become an adult until crowned into womanhood by succession.

She had yet to stop staring at the site in front of her; she wasn't sure she'd been blinking. How many times she'd sat by a grave not much different than her Mother's and waited for some un-earthly-wanted creature to rise. The damp, sweet scent of freshly-turned soil had a much different odor than ash blonde waves laundered in Herbal Essences and inside wrists spritzed with Cabochard.

She wanted to scrape back the sod, pry open the casket, and get to spooning. Rest her head upon a silent breast and pull that lifeless arm around her way burdened shoulders. She'd chosen that particular time capsule not for its pretty lacquered surface but because it looked the comfiest. Dawn and Giles had interrupted before she could test and make sure. That obviously proved she was a grown-up; as a child, her cousin Celia's coffin had heebied her geebies to the point she couldn't approach the kitchen appliances for months.

The plot was situated in a pretty spot during the daytime, shaded at moments by the palm tree they sat up against. She shifted position a little; one of the large plastic buttons down the front of Angel's coat annoyed a nerve along her spine.

It was good, really good, that someone had invented buttons all those long eons ago; but in the modern world wouldn't it be easier if everything could be retrofitted with Velcro? There'd be a whole lot less discomfort if rip-and-schmush technology was applied to everything. But then, she was still ripping and schmushing and she considered herself a very modern girl -- (Woman!). It's just that someone -- oh, say, a century or nine ago -- should have rounded up all the monsters and remanded them to the custody of folklore.

She reached back awkwardly and grappled the front of Angel's coat from behind her back. Resettling, her fingernail ran the seam down the side of his leg. He slouched his perfect slouch.

There. Comfy. Again.

His voice. Speaking softly, that hypnotic tone of his murmured little reassurances -- "... strong ... time ... heal ... better ..." She held her breath in anticipation, but she was "... smart ..." enough to know he'd be careful not to utter ... *that*.

Not while he was saying such Dad things, at least.

Riley would have said the same words but they would have bored her. Riley would have stayed after the funeral, but he would have just been in the way. Riley would have taken care of the world if she'd just stepped aside long enough for him to gain some footing. Riley would have embraced her but his arms never knew when to let go.

Angel knew to let her make her own decisions. He knew when to side-step even though that was no guarantee that he wouldn't get side-slayed. He'd taken the abuse and he'd come back for more and ... He was reliable, and trustworthy, and there, and ... and Angel. She'd hesitated, then looked into those soulful eyes of his.

She wanted his taste in her mouth again.

"... Needy ..." She'd warned him. He'd been willing. The kiss? Simple at first. Friendly. Hyper-jumping to lethal on one breath, it was coolly reassuring. She still owned him, the part of him, at least, that had brought him to her side. When she pulled back, he'd accepted her decision.

It had always decreased the ick-factor of their situation with her as the predator.

He was beautiful to look at, but it was best not to stare. Their connection went all fritzy as pre-dawn crescendoed on their reunion. She'd told him "... forever ..." and she'd meant it, deep inside. Although she'd repressed the memories -- those feelings of Angel connected to her in every physical way -- they'd been as constant as her pulse. The forever she wanted wouldn't have limits. The forever she wanted would leave both of them sated. Forever this time, with his cheek coronating her head.

For always and a night.

Her alive, his unlife had been their undoing; her undead, his human soul would be their demise.

He'd nuzzled her hair and she'd let him. She'd cupped his hand to her cheek, kissed the heel of his palm. Long before that, she'd thanked him for coming the exact way she would have written it on a note card. He didn't hear how fake her words were; he didn't know how to listen to the meaning in her voice anymore. They did their chatty thing like the bestest of buds speaking someone else's sentiments.

Maturity had sanded the edgy off their drama.

They stood together, his hand curled around hers. He'd swept her hair from her ear and whispered something endearing. She smiled. She nodded. And then he departed as silently as he'd arrived.

With tears in her eyes, she considered her Mother's grave and took a hugely needed breath. Forever was either walking away or stretching beyond the brightening horizon or resting beneath her feet. But until she was finished saving her sister and the universe, whichever it was would just have to wait.

Angel's Journal