A/N: This is a sequel to "Healing" but can be read alone, everything is explained.
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters. The song Breathe Me is by Sia.
Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And, the worst part is there's no one else to blame
He took an unneeded breath to calm himself as he looked at her tiny frame and took another step closer to her. Why was he so nervous? Lord knows he had done this countless times before. But with her…it was so much more. He knew the real reason why he was so nervous and he tried to keep that out of his mind. That wasn't a problem now, not anymore. Her breath slightly hitched when he stepped closer to her. Her automatic reaction was to take a step back herself to keep the distance. That was what they were used to; distance. No touching allowed for them, until now.
"Buffy?" came a tentative voice from the open door. Buffy turned around from the suitcase she was unpacking and saw that Willow was in her doorway.
"Hey, what's up?" Buffy asked her with a smile. She noticed that Willow looked a little nervous and was wringing her hands – never a good sign for Willow.
"Um, I have something to tell – or, or show you. It's kind of big," Willow said to Buffy.
Buffy furrowed her brows together as she wondered what could be so big to get Willow so worked up like this. "Okay, let's go," she said, abandoning the open suitcase on the bed.
"What about your…" Willow asked, gesturing to the suitcase. They had gotten to New York City two days ago; did it really take that long for Buffy to unpack?
With barely a glance at the suitcase Buffy said, "Eh, it can wait some more." Willow just nodded and Buffy followed her out of the room.
Ever since Buffy the others had turned Sunnydale and the Hellmouth into a crater, they had been traveling the world, finding all of the slayers that seemed to be coming out of the woodwork. First had been Cleveland to see what was up with the Hellmouth there. Buffy had a few slayers, including Faith, settle there to keep things in check. Next came England and Scotland, picking up slayers there and along the way. Then came Rome, where everything changed for Buffy. She was really starting to like Rome and was thinking of staying there a while longer. Then Angel showed up at her door pulverized, but victorious from his fight in LA with the Senior Partners. He spent a week or so at her place getting better. Buffy knew that "the talk" was coming eventually, so to make a long conversation short, they both realized that they were still in love with each other and would make it work somehow. Angel just told her that he couldn't jump into a relationship right away after everything he had been through.
So Angel stuck around, helping them in Rome as needed with the slayers. As much as Buffy loved Rome, she knew she couldn't stay there forever, so from there they went to Spain and Paris and were now in New York City. At each location, they used Willow's contacts at the coven to locate the new slayers. Once found, Buffy would explain what was happening to them. She would tell them that they could be trained by Buffy and her friends and stay where they were living to fight vampires, or they could join their little caravan and help recruit new slayers. They could even be relocated somewhere else that needed a slayer or two if they wished. They could choose how much contact that Buffy and everyone else would have with them. They could choose to have a Watcher. They could even choose to just completely ignore the calling all together and carry on with their lives. Buffy gave the girls something she never had. Choices.
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small
Warm me up
And breathe me
He took the few short steps to close the distance between them and slowly brought his hand up to her face. He brushed away her blonde hair and looked into her hungry green eyes. He placed his other hand on her hip and gently pushed up the fabric of her light tank top to run his hands across her skin. As he was relishing in the feel of her warm skin beneath his fingertips he was vaguely aware that she was eagerly tugging his shirt up and over his head. When that was gone, she swallowed heavily as she took in the sight of his perfect bare chest. She brought a shaky hand up to rest where his heart should beat and spread her fingers across his skin, watching goose bumps rise in their wake. She wrapped her petit arms around his neck and he rested his forehead against hers. Her warm breath tickled his skin as she ran her fingers from the base of his neck up to tangle in his thick soft hair. It was little things like that that could drive him completely nuts. A tiny blonde slayer could drive the Scourge of Europe mad with a simple touch.
"Where's Angel? I kinda think he should be here," Willow said when they entered the small living room.
Buffy eyed her best friend suspiciously as she said, "I think he and Xander are helping Dawn move around her room, I can get him though." Buffy left Willow alone in the living room as she went to get Angel. When she came back with not only Angel trailing after her but also Xander, Willow gulped. Great, an even bigger audience.
"Okay Will, what's up?" Buffy asked as Angel stood next to her. She noticed how they struggled to keep their distance, which reminded her of why she was here in the first place.
"Okay, so ever since Angel…joined us in Rome, I-I've been doing some research in my free time about your…soul," Willow said, looking at Angel. When he just raised an eyebrow at her, she continued. "I found something, but it was so complex and in a dialect that I had never even heard of and oh god the footnotes-" Willow stopped herself when she realized that everyone was looking at her a little strangely, wanting her to get to the point. "Anyway, I sent it to someone I knew here in New York City who could maybe untangle the mess a little and give me back something I could work with. Well I called him this morning to tell him we were in town and he said that he had something that I could pull off, and he wanted to set up a meeting-"
"Willow," Buffy said, cutting her off. "What did you find?" she asked anxiously.
Willow took a deep breath. "I can bind Angel's soul to him." At everyone's blank looks she went on. "Make it permanent? No happiness clause?"
"Yeah I think we got it Will," Xander said, looking at Buffy and Angel for a reaction. Buffy was staring at Willow with her mouth slightly open and Angel had switched his gaze from Willow to Buffy and was now staring at her like he was seeing her for the first time.
"All I need is the okay from you guys, and then I can confirm the meeting with the guy and we could probably do the spell tonight. I don't think it will take that long, I might need to do a little shop-"
"I vote yes," Buffy said quickly, cutting Willow off again.
"Okay, didn't know we were voting…" Willow muttered under her breath. She then looked at Angel to see what he would say and saw that he was still looking at Buffy.
"What she said," he said, never taking his eyes off Buffy.
"Alright then, I'll call Rob back and we're good to go," Willow said with a smile.
Buffy quickly took a step closer to her and said, "Willow, I want to go with you to meet this guy. What if he turns out to be a phony or something…" Buffy trailed off, not wanting to think that he might be a fake.
Willow nodded and said, "Yeah, that might be a good idea. Come on, let's get ready." And with that the two girls were gone, leaving Xander and Angel alone in the living room.
"Hey Angel?" Xander said cautiously. Angel tore his eyes from the door where the two girls just exited to and looked at Xander with an odd expression on his face. He was definitely not used to Xander calling him by his actual name. Nope it was usually just Dead Boy. "I know that I don't really like you that much, but I do know when my best friend is happy, and I know enough by now not to mess that up for her. I don't know if you noticed or not, but she's really changed since you showed up. She looks a lot better; healthier. Like she's actually eating something. Sometimes I even see the Buffy I remember from high school. Now I know that there were times when it royally sucked then, like when you tried to kill us all, but when it was good…those were the greatest times of her life. I may have brought her back to life twice, but as much as I hate to admit it, you made her live again."
Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe
As he moved his head down to kiss the hollow of her throat somewhere in the back of her mind someone was screaming at her that this was wrong, this had to stop. But they had no reason to stop now. He ran his hand up her back, taking her shirt with it and pulling it over her head. She pressed herself closer into his bare chest as he continued to kiss her neck. She ran her hands over his back, feeling his muscles move under his skin. When she told herself for the hundredth time that this was no longer forbidden territory, she pushed his head up from her neck and brought his lips to hers. She kissed him hungrily and he kissed her back possessively. One of his hands was tangled up in her hair and the other was gently caressing her bare lower back. Her tiny hand was resting on his side and she raked the other though his soft hair. All nervousness and worry was long gone as he walked her towards the bed, never breaking contact with her as she fell back onto it and he covered her body. All that mattered to him now was having as much skin to skin contact as humanly possible and having her as close to him as he could.
Buffy watched Willow closely as she read calmly from the piece of paper. Buffy, Willow, Xander and Dawn were standing around Angel in a loose circle, each of them holding a lit candle. Willow held up her candle as she read the last phrase of the spell with force and then gestured to the others to blow out their candles. When they did, Willow said one last phrase and then blew out her own candle. As soon as she did Buffy's eyes snapped to Angel to watch for a reaction. He visibly tensed and winced as if something was twisting inside of him. And then it was over.
Angel looked around him, the slightest hint of confusion on his face. "Is that it?" he asked no one in particular.
"I think it worked," Willow said in wonder. "I can really feel it now; his soul. It feels more…solid. Before it was kind of unstable…almost floaty."
"Well, there's only one way to find out…" Xander muttered as he looked at Buffy and Angel who were looking at each other like they were the only ones in the room. "Dawn! You feel like dinner? How 'bout Antonio's?" Xander asked Dawn enthusiastically as he moved to her side and started to usher her out of the room.
Dawn stopped him and asked, "Antonio's? Isn't that kind of far…"
"I can drive," Willow piped up; coming to Dawn's other side to help push her towards the door. "And then we can watch a movie at my place. Maybe Gone With the Wind?"
Dawn stared at her incredulously. "That's like four hours long!"
"Your point?" Xander muttered to her as he finally got her out the door and Willow paused to grab her purse.
"Wait, Willow…" Buffy called before the redhead could leave.
"Don't worry Buffy; I have everything prepared for a Restoration spell, just in case. But I have a good feeling about this. So go on; be happy. You guys deserve it," Willow said with a smile.
Buffy smiled back at her. "Thank you Will, for everything."
"What are friends for?" Willow said before leaving the room and shutting the door behind her.
With everyone gone, the silence seemed deafening. Buffy slowly turned to face Angel and was momentarily stunned to see that he was standing right in front of her. She fidgeted a little under his intense gaze. "So…"
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
I am small
Warm me up
And breathe me
Hours later she lay half on top of him, tracing lazy patterns onto his bare chest as he trailed his fingers slowly up and down her arm and rested his eyes shut.
"How do you feel?" she whispered suddenly. He momentarily paused moving his fingers up her arm before answering her.
"Mmm, perfectly content," he said, keeping his eyes closed.
Buffy let out a breath of laughter and said quietly, "It's pretty amazing. Did you ever think we'd be here?"
Angel opened his eyes and kissed the top of her head. "I had hoped, but honestly? No."
"Yeah," Buffy replied, letting him know that she agreed. "Well, maybe fate doesn't hate us as much as we thought."
Angel chuckled and said, "Yeah, maybe." She wrapped her arm tighter around his chest and he breathed in her scent, still not believing that he was lying here, in her arms, and he didn't want to destroy the world after what they had done last night. If his soul wasn't bound to him, he would have become Angelus a very long time ago.
Angel suddenly remembered something that he had brought with him but was just waiting for the right moment to give it to her. He sat up with a little protest from Buffy and reached over to open the drawer on the nightstand. He took a tiny object out and held it in his closed hand. He propped himself up on the pillows and Buffy did the same, clutching the sheet to her chest.
"Angel, what-" she asked in confusion.
"Hang on, I want to get it right this time," he said cutting her off. She just continued to look at him with confusion across her features. He slowly opened his hand to reveal what was in his palm as he said, "You still my girl?"
Buffy felt as if the wind was knocked out of her as she saw what he was holding and when she heard what he said. It seemed like an eternity ago he said the same words to her under different circumstances. How simple and yet how complicated things seemed back then. How much had changed since then. How much each of them had changed, and at the same time nothing had changed between them.
She knew how this played out. She knew what she was going to say.
"Always," she breathed. Angel cracked an earth-shattering smile at her and picked up the silver claddagh ring sitting in his palm and took her right hand and slid it on her ring finger with the heart pointing in. He continued to hold her hand and ran his thumb back and forth over the ring as she looked up at him and into his warm brown eyes. She brought up her other hand to cup his cheek and repeated, "Always."
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