Angel was pulled out of his gloom—literally--by Wesley, Fred and Gunn, who had stormed into his suite and dragged his body out. They, of course, only managed to do this because Angel had been refusing to drink, therefore his body was weakened. But each time he thought about drinking, he thought of her; he thought of the night of her graduation and the sweet taste of her blood as it filled his mouth. Somehow he thought that drinking blood—any blood—would somehow be tarnishing her memory.

An hour after their rescue, Angel sat in silence as they each presented their arguments. Yes, it was horrible what had happened. Yes, it had to hurt. Yes, there was no quick fix or cure for the grief. But he still had a mission to complete. He still had a responsibility to innocents…Although after hearing this, Angel finally broke.

"What does it matter? A large part of me was doing it so that one day, I may get my soul and even possibly become human again. But what the hell does that matter now that she's gone?"

"Angel, I…we can only imagine what this must feel like, but—"

"I know you all are worried about me, I get that and even am thankful for it. But you can't possibly know how this feels. I just need more time."

"But Angel, you don't have any more time. I know I didn't know Buffy, but everyday you're crying in your room, someone else's 'Buffy' dies."

"Don't--"

"Don't what? Tell the truth? Angel…I—"

"You have NO CLUE what it feels like to love someone with your entire soul. After 245 + years…you—"

"No, we don't. Angel, we have no way of knowing; however, there is a greater purpose here."

"I know all about the so-called 'greater purpose', Wes. I left her initially for that reason alone. But this…she's dead. She's dead and I couldn't save her."

Angel took a look around at the three faces that surrounded him. Sighing, he took note that these were also the people who he had grown to care about like family. Taking a deep breath, he gave in.

"Look, I know you all care. And all I can say is that…I'll try, ok?"

"That's all we ask, Angel."

"Good, because that's all I can give. Goodnight."

Fred, Gunn, and Wesley watched as Angel retreated back to his room, somewhat comforted by the fact that he agreed to try once again. Though they all knew it was going to be a long time before he felt "normal".

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Bored now!"

"'Ello princess."

"Doyle! Thank god, I am soooo bored."

"Been thinking about our last talk much?"

"Our last talk? What do you mean?"

Doyle just shook his head, obviously she wasn't getting it.

"Buffy, before you can return, the Powers That Be need to know you'll be able to handle everything. There's a lot of stuff coming up. Stuff you've got to be ready for."

"What's the big? I've faced badies before, not to mention several apocalypses."

"I'll be back when you're really ready to talk—"

"No! I mean, fine. You win."

She strolled over to a table and hopped up, allowing her legs to swing as she watched him.

"Whatcha wanna talk about?"

"Why don't you start."

"Where?"

"Where else? The beginning."

"Ok, I see where you're going with this. Fine…when a man and a woman feel attracted to one-another—"

"Buffy!"

"What beginning, Doyle?"

He watched as she tried to remain unfazed by his request. He knew this was going to be hard, but come on!

"Look, Buf, we've got some work to do. So you've gotta quit playing dumb with me."

"First of all, don't call me that. Secondly, I'm not playing dumb. What do you want to know, huh? You wanna know how I felt Angel watching me with Whistler that day I was called? You want to know that the moment I met him that I knew my soul wasn't mine anymore? Or what it felt like watching as I knew I had to send him to hell? What, Doyle? What do you want to fucking know?!"

"That's a start, kid."

"Well, I can see this is going to be loads of fun. Fine. Day one…"

Buffy felt as if she was suddenly buried underneath multiple feet of dirt (no pun intended). She knew she would be forced one day to discuss her life since being called, but never imagined it was going to be like this. Some things she had once shared with Angel. A few she had told Willow. But never before had she been forced/asked to go into detail about everything.

"I was waiting for my Mom to pick me up from school when this old man came rushing up to me, yammering on about some calling. I thought he was nuts at first. The whole time he was talking to me, I felt this…tightening, I guess is the best word for it, inside of me. Not really any place in particular, almost like it was a part of me that had no name or that couldn't be physically seen. A year or so later, I would feel it again…"

She had never told that to anyone before. She went on and told Doyle how she could sense someone was staring at her as she cried her last tears of innocence away that same night. How it felt to watch her first Watcher die in front of her, feeling helpless. She described her reluctance to move to Sunnydale; how starting high school at a new school was awkward enough let alone carrying a secret like she had. She mentioned meeting Giles and soon after Willow and Xander. How for the first time in her life she felt as if she maybe didn't have to be all alone.

Doyle listened to everything she told him; taking in all the emotions she wasn't making clear. He watched as a small part of the blackness that had taken hold of her, drifted away as she recounted the first year of her Slayer life.

"Then I met Angel—in person. I remember thinking he was the most gorgeous human I had ever seen in my life. I guess looking back now, I admit I knew something was different about him. But not then…no, I was ignorant to that possibility at that point. I probably didn't want to know that the things I had been told that it was my duty to kill could be like him. I hid him in my closet for a little over a day; he had helped me escape a fight and I owed him. To be honest, some small part of me wishes that he never would have come out of the shadows that night. That he would have just kept watching me from afar."

"Why's that?"

"Because then I wouldn't know what it was like to feel completely loved and to have found your soul mate only to have it ripped from you, over and over again."

He watched her face fall from happier memories to recounting the heartache that was theirs.

"The night of my seventeenth birthday, that was when things began to go horribly wrong. I loved him so much, I trusted him and then…well, you know. Hell, everyone else does."

"You two made love."

"Yeah. And then I woke up alone, not knowing where he was or when he had left me. When I finally found him, well he wasn't my Angel anymore. He was Angelus, hell-bent on destroying the world. Poor Giles, he really deserved to find happiness; however, Angelus began torturing me through my friends and soon he killed Ms. Calendar. Laid her on Giles' bed for him to find…it was really awful. Everyone blamed me, hell I blamed me. But I didn't know, no one did. Except for the damn gypsy tribe that cursed him in the first place. That's really why Angelus killed her, you know. Because she was trying to re-curse him. Anyway, to make a long, heart-wrenching story short, Willow re-cursed him. But of course, not before it was too late and I had to--"

Doyle's heart went out to the small blonde in front of him. So much sadness had occurred in her short life. She tried so hard, everyday to make life better for everyone else; yet no one did the same for her.

"Well, you know."

"No, Angel never told me. What happened then?"

"Isn't this Buffy-and-Angel 101? I mean seriously, I thought you all knew everything about my life!"

"…"

"Ugh! Fine! Angelus woke up this bad demon; Spike and Dru took off, leaving me to fight him alone. While Xander rescued Giles, Angelus and I played with swords. I tried to stop him, to delay him so Will could do the spell. But he was quick and played on my emotions. Later I found out that Willow had already begun the curse, if I could had just delayed him for another two minutes…But anyway, Acathala was up and ready to swallow the world. Whistler had told me I had one more thing to lose, I knew then. I knew what I had to do. Back then I was all about saving the world. Even if it cost me everything. I told Giles before we went to get Dawn back that somewhere along the line I've lost that. Anyway, he got his soul back just as I was going to plunge my sword into Angelus. He looked so confused, he asked me what was happening. I couldn't answer him. So, I kissed him, told him I loved him and then I killed him. The last word he said was my name as he was pulled—with a soul—into hell. I've never forgotten that.

Everything was too much for me, you know? My mom had kicked me out, my friends were all hurt because I fell in love, I was--; so I left, or rather ran from it all. I tried to start over, but that's the great thing about being me…the duty follows you no matter where you try to hide. Eventually I came back, only to have to regain everyone's trust in me. Still trying to do that, I tried dating a "normal" guy, but my heart wasn't in it. One night while I was out patrolling, something slammed into me, knocking me over. And for the first time in four months I felt that pull in my soul. Angel had somehow made it back. We gave things a try…kinda; but in the end he left me. Walked away after nearly draining me dry, and leaving me his mark."

"He bit you?"

"Yeah, it still hurts sometimes. Not hurts in a traditional sense, but…it's like its connected to some sort of string that can tug at my soul—kinda like how I feel whenever he's around—and when it decides to, it yanks and I almost double over. The sensations are just so strong."

"He shouldn't have left you after doing that. That doesn't make sense. When a vampire marks a mate, he--"

"Wait, what? Argh! I knew there had to be some sort of mystical thing about this damn thing! Tell me."

"I shouldn't have said anything, it's nothing."

"TELL ME!"

"When a vampire marks a mate, his life then becomes tied to hers. He literally and physically shouldn't have been able to leave you."