Buffy woke up from the intense erotic dream about Angel she had forgetting for a moment where she was. She had left the house without telling Dawn or Willow she was leaving, but they would figure out she was gone and she did not need to tell them her every move. They brought her back, they could deal with her being melancholy now and again. Her walk had brought her to Restfield Cemetery which led her to Crawford Street and almost automatically to the mansion.

She had walked through the first floor, pulling open the heavy drapes from the windows that did not look out over the street. No sense alerting anyone that someone was inside, but this house deserved to see some light. Had Angel given her the chance she could have made this place a home for them and for Dawn. Plenty of rooms would have gone unused, they would never have filled it with children but they would have had the chance to fill it with love and memories. There would have been plenty of room for nightwalkers and daywalkers alike. Even though she had time to prepare for his leaving it still hurt, had torn her up inside. He took a part of her with him, the ability to love, to let someone into her life and her heart.

Riley had paid the price, eventually leaving Buffy because she was unable to give him what he not only wanted but deserved. Buffy would never love someone as completely as she loved Angel. Even when he had lost his soul and was Angelus, a demon controlling the body and mind of her angelic faced lover she had still loved him. He had been gone for over two years now, they had seen one another a few times during those two years and things had changed.

The only time it had been close to the same was after her mom had died and they had talked at the cemetery. He had made her feel not so alone, no one else could have done that and she needed it. She needed to know that he would be there for her when it truly mattered. And that day had truly mattered. She knew he would always watch her back if she asked and he knew the same, but they had grown apart. They had moved on. Had he never left or come back to Sunnydale to stay who knows what would have happened, but he had not and even if he were to now things were too different for them to go back to what they had. She was not the naïve seventeen year old anymore and as much as she hated to admit it, she could not settle for just kissing for the rest of her life.

They did not call one another, they did not write, and if his friends were anything like hers no one talked about her to him. It was too painful, the pain still too fresh and raw. She had gone into his bedroom and opened the drapes surprised that no one had figured out yet that it was empty once again. The king sized mattress was still there and did not look as though it had been touched since Angel left graduation day. The room smelled stale from lack of use so she opened a window, letting some fresh air in. She curled up on the bed, remembering her last time in this room, which is probably when she had dozed off.

He had been dying and she had offered him her blood when she failed to bring Faith to him. He had looked so helpless and she had been more than willing to die for him, to die in his place for the second time. This time, unlike with Acathla, she was able to offer herself in place of him. Her blood had been the answer that day not Angel's.

She remembered, too, her first time coming to this mansion. She had come to fight Angelus, to stop him from destroying the world and sending it to a hell dimension. Spike had helped her. He had offered a proverbial olive branch calling a temporary truce with the Slayer, his nemesis. He wanted his dark princess, Drusilla, back and Buffy knew as he had pointed out she needed the help. She might have found Angelus in time to save the world from being sucked into Acathla's hell dimension, but she doubted Giles would still be alive today if not for Spike.

Then there were the times they had spent here after he had come back. They had spent their time together training, talking, kissing, just sitting saying nothing and even arguing. There were some who probably thought Buffy was living in some sort of dream world, fantasizing about a happily ever after ending between the Slayer and the vampire with a soul. The truth was their relationship had been difficult from the beginning. How exactly love had developed between them she did not know and doubted Angel knew either, but it had and it had changed their lives forever. Angel had told her towards the beginning that it was not a fairy tale, there was not going to be a happily ever after for the two of them. Theirs was not a relationship dreams were made of.

Her mind drifted to the night they had made love, the night of her seventeenth birthday, the night she had lost Angel for months only to have to send him to a hell dimension when he came back to her. She liked to believe that one event made her stronger, made her not just a better Slayer but a better person, but in truth just as she had done with Dawn if she had been able to sacrifice herself she would have done it.

Spike was right, she had a death wish. She had died twice already and come close the night she took it upon herself to offer Angel the anecdote for the poison running through his system killing him. The only problem was no one would let her die. So whether she had a death wish or not did not seem to matter. At the rate she was going, she would live forever.

She had kissed Spike for the second time last night. She could not use the excuse of a spell as she had been able to do the night of Sweet's singing and dancing spell. Spike apparently sensed her kissing him was something to make her feel anything but depressed and after walking her back to her house had left Buffy at the door. Willow had needed her anyway because Tara left, so it was for the best. Now the next day she had to try and put her feelings in order, but there were too many to deal with. Giles had left, he had really done it. She had not even gotten to say goodbye to him.

She had wanted to hunt, but it had been broad daylight so there was nothing to hunt. She could have visited Spike at his crypt, but she sensed that was the last thing she should do today. Going to his crypt still sort of freaked her out. She still smelled death on her, causing her to take more showers than were really necessary on a daily basis. So, going to a building that housed the dead was not where she needed to be.

Spike. Thoughts of him made her cringe and made her smile at the same time. He had protected Dawn, had stuck around despite knowing the rest of them probably would have preferred he left. He had done it because he not only loved Buffy but loved Dawn. He had made a promise and kept it. Buffy could no longer live in the world of denial she had lived in last year and claim that Spike's feelings were not genuine.

How, honestly, could she argue with a man about what he could and could not feel who had stayed with Drusilla for over one hundred years? A man who had bargained with the Slayer for her life even though she had gone from his bed to Angelus' bed when her daddy returned. If that was not love, what was? It was certainly better than she had gotten from any man in her life. Her father, Angel, Scott, Parker, Riley and even Giles all left her. Yet, Spike was still here and his kisses made her feel alive in a way she had not felt since Angel. It was different than with Riley, things with him had always been forced. She had wanted so much to be what he wanted and to have something normal but it just never worked.

True, the chip prevented Spike from physically harming people, but it did not stop him from surrounding himself with minions and orchestrating them to do his dirty work. Buffy had no doubt that he had more than enough evil thoughts in that brain of his to keep her on her toes for the rest of her life and on into the next Slayer's life and the Slayer after that. Yet he chose to stay in Sunnydale with her. She would never forget the look on his face when he saw her on the stairs after she had come back. No one else had thought to tend to her, comfort her and clean her up. He even seemed to understand her desire not to tell her friends where she had truly been.

She was torn between the two vampires, the confusion was strange but oddly understandable. Did she want to bother going down that road again? If Spike were to find out a way to get his chip removed then what? He would leave her just as they all did. She had not enjoyed having to kill Angelus, she would like having to kill Spike even less if only because Spike with or without chip was capable of doing good on occasion. She and Spike had established a friendship of sorts over the past two years.

"What the," she whispered as images of Angel that Buffy knew had never happened. She could not remember dreaming about making love to him so vividly, and these images were clear, real. She would certainly remember ice cream being a part of her dream; Riley was boring when it came to sex so she would remember dreaming about something like that. She tried to see more of it, tried to pan out but she was so incredibly focused on Angel that her eyes looked nowhere but at him. What disturbed Buffy most was the look of not just amazement on Angel's face, but the feeling of happiness that washed over her. They had been happy, a happiness Buffy could not remember having felt.

Confused and dazed not sure if being back at the mansion had caused the dreams and visions, she left the mansion and walked to the site of the new Sunnydale High School campus where Xander and his crew was busy working. The fools were building it right over the old high school. Apparently, the school system enjoyed playing Russian roulette with its student mortality rate.

She saw Xander and waved when he spotted her. "Hey, you," she said with faux cheeriness. The images she had seen earlier had left her a little shaken with their realism. She wished she could have dismissed them as a dream, one that she and Angel were sharing. They had done that in the past, but it had been a while. Long enough that she knew the images she had seen were not fragments of a dream. They were intense enough to actually make her blush if she thought about them too much. The dream she had back at the mansion had been erotic, but it was not so different than any dream she had about Angel.

"Hey, Buff, what brings you by?"

"I was just taking a stroll and thought I'd pay a visit to my favoritist construction worker."

"Well, gosh, I'd be flattered if I wasn't the only construction worker you knew, Buff." He removed his safety goggles and led her out of the way. "So, is there something wrong? Some badness a-brewing?"

"No, there's nothing wrong, no new baddie's come to town. I was honestly just out for a walk."

"Okay. I was going to grab something to drink from the catering truck, can I buy you something?"

"I'll take a Snapple mint tea if they have any."

"One Snapple coming right up," Xander said walking toward the food truck. "Is peach all right?"

"Sure, thanks," she said taking the bottle and twisting off the top.

"My pleasure, it's not often I get visited on the site by a pretty girl."

"You mean Anya doesn't visit?"

"No, she's usually at work."

"Oh, well, they're not going to think I'm her, are they," she said gesturing to his crew.

"No, they've seen her, but I'm sure I'll get asked about you. See anyone you're interested in?"

Buffy scanned the group of construction workers. If she were in another place in her life maybe, but she just was not ready for that yet. If kissing Spike and these images of Angel proved anything, it was that she was not ready. She was honestly beginning to suspect Spike was right, that she needed a bit of monster in her man. "No," she said simply with a shrug. "I'm not in dating mode right now."

"Well, if you change your mind," he said with a smile, waggling his eyebrows.

"You'll be the first to know."

Xander chugged down his own iced tea. "Well, Buffster, that's it for me, I've got to get back to the grind."

"That's fine, I really wasn't expecting you to stop and talk. Thanks for the Snapple."

"Nothing but the stuff made from the best stuff on earth for Buffy."

"Thanks, I'd hug you, but," she shrugged gesturing to his clothes.

"No worries, I'll collect that hug another time. I'll see you later Anya and I are coming by to take Dawnie out for pizza tonight."

"Okay. See ya," she said with a wave, tossing the glass drink bottle into a nearby garbage container.

Feeling refreshed from the drink but no more at ease about the things she had been thinking about earlier, she walked toward home in somewhat of a daze. It must have been going to the mansion that caused it, being so close to the memories, so close to where their last intimate act had occurred. And his feeding off of her had been intimate. She would never admit that to anyone, but it had been more intimate than making love on some level.

There was a note from Willow saying that she had gone out, not saying where so Buffy took that to mean she was not invited to tag along. Probably just as well, Buffy had something she needed to do. If she and Angel were sharing dreams again she needed to know why.

"Dawn," she called upstairs.

"Yeah Buffy."

She went upstairs and walked into Dawn's room. "Do you think you'd mind spending the night with Xander and Anya?"

"Uh, no, what about Willow?"

"Well, I don't know if Willow is going to be home tonight."

"Okay, yeah, no problem. What's up? An all-night patrol or something?"

"No, I'm going to go to LA to talk to Angel."

"Angel? Wow, okay, I didn't expect that."

"Yeah, I need to talk to him. In person."

"But you just saw him."

"Yeah, I had just come out of my grave, things weren't exactly clear for me. I need to talk to him. You have the number there if you need me, right?"

"Yeah, no problem. I'll call Anya right now and make sure it's okay with her."

"Thanks, I just saw Xander, but that was before I thought of going so I didn't ask him. Sorry."

"No problem, I doubt they'll mind, we're going out for pizza tonight anyway. Maybe they'll just stay here."

"That'd work," she said going to her own room to pack her bag. She was not sure how long she was going to be gone, but she packed enough for a few days. She could always go shopping if she needed more. "Did she say it was okay," she asked on her way to the bathroom to collect her toiletries.

"Yeah, she said it's fine. Either me over there or them over here."

"Great, tell them both I said thanks. Do you need anything before I go? I'll give you some money, so you can at least offer to pay for your part of the pizza."

"They never let me."

"I know, but you should at least have money to offer," she said putting some cash out of her wallet. "Here's a twenty, I expect change," she said handing it to Dawn. She kissed her on the cheek. "Be good, listen to Anya and Xander, and I'll call you when I get there."


"Yeah," she said, mentally making sure she had everything she needed.

"Is everything all right?"

"Everything's fine, Dawnie, I just need to see Angel, okay?"

"Okay, just making sure. I mean, you'd tell me if something was really wrong, right?"

Buffy smiled slightly. "If there was something you could do about it, yeah. In this case, I just need Angel. I've been having dreams," she said realizing it was not the truth.

"Oh, why didn't you just say so? I mean, with Giles gone, it makes sense, what with Wesley up there and all."

"Thanks. I'll see you in a day or two. And have fun tonight, lay off the anchovies."