DISCLAIMER: If I had S/.1.00 for every time I've wished they were mine....
SUMMARY: CS'verse. Buffy and Angelus find a way to be together in S2, and they end up in LA a year later. What happens in-between?
RATING: R. language warning!
FEEDBACK: Loved. Mentioning your favourite gives me an extra happy. :)

Written for open_on_sunday. Prompt: work.


THE HARD WAY IV
by Leni


301. Anne

Buffy said nothing when Angel pulled up next to the 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign. She wasn't mad at him. Being mad at him was like berating a hurricane for destroying your house, upsetting your life and pulling out the rose-colored glasses from your eyes.

She'd just liked those rose-colored glasses.

"Last chance to head back to LA."

She was tempted. Sunnydale's only bright spot were her friends, and the last days had taught her that a Slayer's work waited for her everywhere. But…. "I'm not running away, Angel."

He trailed a nail over her shoulder. "My hero." And he laughed.
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302. Dead Man's Party

"I gather you're moving." Giles pulled one sheet of paper and pointed to a line near the top. "Tell me why I had to ask Willow to, uh…."

"Hack," Buffy supplied cheerily, leaning to read what had upset Giles. Her new address. Figures. "You told Will to hack the school records?" she stalled, patting his shoulder. "I'm so proud you're joining in the new century's delinquency."

"I hardly think this -" He wouldn't let himself be sidetracked. "- is adequate for you."

"It's cheap, Giles." Which was true. "It's all my extracurricular job lets me pay."

"You don't work…."

Buffy sighed. "Exactly."
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303. Faith, Hope and Trick

Angel trapped her wrists and slid back up until they were face-to-face. Brown eyes wore a golden edge, arousal and anger equally present. "I'm not doing all the work here, Buffy." She tried to use her body to shove him, but he had her well pinned down. When she relaxed again, he leaned in. "So you're not fond of your friend's replacement. I have news for you, lover; you were never supposed to meet your replacement -" He nipped her ear. "- much less Kendra's."

"She's… different." Her eyes narrowed. "Sharper."

"Believe me. There's nothing there for you to be jealous about."
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304. Beauty & The Beasts

Buffy studied her best friend. Ever since they'd heard the news, Willow had glued herself to the computer, pulling the morgue records on Jeff Orkin. "You don't believe that Oz did it."

The redhead turned, looking pale and tired. "I don't. Oz is… was…."

"Your boyfriend."

Willow shook her head. "No, he's Oz. He'd never…. Of course, we thought the same about Angel." She laughed nervously. "And maybe it's Nancy. What do we know about her before…." A sigh. "Right. Oz bit her. But Buffy, just - don't go Slayer on him, okay?"

"I promise, Will. I'll only do my work."
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305. Homecoming

Angel watched her from the bed as she tried yet another hairstyle. "Explain this again."

Buffy's reflection looked surprised. She held her hair up with one hand while the other grabbed the pins from between her lips. "I thought you didn't care." Now with both hands, she did a complicated twist and considered the result, then shook her hair free and started again.

"I didn't," he agreed. "But this much work means it isn't another 'I'm not just the Slayer' cry. You really want to crush the other girls, don't you?"

"I only want to win."

"And the difference is…?"

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306. Band Candy

Buffy looked at Giles in disbelief, then waved the chocolate wrap in front of him. "I just ate. Chocolate."

Giles gave her a look. "I'm well aware of that. Now, can you check this tome while I work on the others?"

"I wish Xander were here to witness this," Buffy muttered, gingerly taking the offered book. "Giles. We mustn't handle the books until we've washed our hands, remember? You made it into a library rule last year."

"I…."

"We just added the 'no jello' thing. Really. Willow's got it noted down and everything."

Uncharacteristically, Giles rolled his eyes at her.
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307. Revelations

Every time Faith dropped by at the apartment, Buffy expected her to perceive Angel's residual presence. But either Faith's instincts were blunted, or the younger Slayer thought the sense of a vampire lair stemmed from Angel's living here long before…. Buffy clamped down on that thought. Just before.

Now Faith was rummaging through her weapons cabinet, making her sister Slayer grind her teeth as she handled Buffy's favorite crossbow from the wrong end. 'Niceness works wonders,' Giles had advised.

She'd be nice. And tomorrow, she'd nicely convince Ms. Post that every Slayer needed her own cozy Hellmouth to call home.

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308. Lover's Walk

Change was in the air.

Not the Mayor's well-guarded plans. It wasn't the tiny doubt that she'd win that final battle. It wasn't the seldom acknowledged thought that Angel would stop believing that she'd win that final battle, and Buffy knew he'd never side with the losers.

It was something closer to her heart.

Xander's smiles. Willow's blush.

Willow and Xander.

Buffy wondered whether it should surprise her more. Destiny seemed to work itself out, after all. "We've been here before." She grinned. "You pining after Xand'; me, after…."

Willow glanced at her pityingly. "I'm sorry."

"No need to be."
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309. The Wish

She woke up laughing, the memory-feeling of his fangs buried into the right side of her neck, working through muscle and nerves and she laughed.

Silence came with a gasp.

"No." She brought tentative fingers to her collarbone but couldn't dare to take them higher. There was no wetness dripping down her skin, no dry sensation of caked blood against a memory-wound. With her other hand she felt around for Angel, and she almost cried out in relief when she found nothing.

"A dream," she comforted herself.

And chose to ignore that a Slayer's dream was no comfort at all.

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310. Amends

Angelus calmly studied the city map. "Come, Rupert. No staking tonight's ally just because I know my way around the sewer system better." The crossbow mechanism didn't disengage. "Priorities, boy," Angelus sighed. "Saving your Slayer should rate higher than vendetta. Of course, the Slayer supply is steady, while I killed your one love." He grinned when he looked up. "Is Buffy so unimportant?"

The crossbow wavered.

"After all," Angelus continued, "Faith can do Buffy's work, can't she?"

Giles lowered his weapon.

"I'm curious." Angelus chuckled. "Am I off the hook because you love Buffy, or because nobody can replace her?"
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311. Gingerbread

Buffy stared at the papers in her hand. Read the first lines again, skipped down to the signature at the bottom. Joyce Roberts. It took her a second to realize it was her mother's maiden name. "Oh." She really was cutting all ties.

It wasn't a surprise.

It wasn't.

"I'm liquidating the house." Joyce's voice sounded tired. Not unexpected after following Sheila Rosenberg through a witch hunt. "I'll make sure you receive your half of the money on your birthday. It should be enough until you start to work."

Buffy nodded. And there she'd thought being eighteen looked grim enough.

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312. Helpless

The last time she'd felt so detached, she'd been standing at Jenny's grave with a mix of guilt and accusation in her thoughts.

"You need to understand, Buffy," Giles was saying.

Months of knowing the truth hadn't prepared her. Angel would laugh at her current distress. But not even the shame at her childish reaction touched her. "I do understand." And because she did, she knew that Giles shouldn't look relieved at her words.

A soulless vampire had broken all rules for her.

But her Watcher hadn't.

Nice to finally have proof which kind of love worked the real miracles.
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313. The Zeppo

Buffy smiled when she spotted her two best friends. They still hadn't seen her, or they'd pull apart and pretend not to want to continue kissing.

At least they never mentioned why romance was delegated around Buffy. After Ryan's death, they'd understood her disinterest in dating. ("Doesn't mean we shove our love life in her face when she's…" Willow's 'haunted by her evil ex-boyfriend' had been loud even from the library corner where she and her boyfriend were working. "Love-lifeless?" Xander had suggested.)

Love-lifeless.

Yes and no, Buffy wanted to answer.

Instead she turned around and let her friends be.
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314. Bad Girls

"I know you're there." Buffy ignored Faith's surprised sweep around the clearing and past the demon corpses around them. While the brunette brandished her weapon against the newcomer, Buffy fingered her scythe. "You came for a therapy session?"

Angel rumbled a laugh as he stepped away from the darkness. "Why would I do that?" He petted Faith's hair on his way to Buffy, more amused when both Slayers growled at him. "You're working just fine through your anger issues." He swept a finger down the scythe handle, smirking knowingly at her shudder. "Now am I forgiven?"

Buffy stepped backwards. "No."
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315. Consequences

"Did I push Faith into this choice?" Buffy wondered as she took out a clean shirt from Angel's closet. At his silence, she buttoned up and turned around - to find him working at a large stain of Mayor's minion's blood on his jacket. She had to laugh. Such a mundane sight, one she'd seen a dozen times when Angel had insisted to dress her wounds and she'd found some excuse to stay longer. "That jacket won't make it."

Frustrated, Angel tossed it on top of their other ruined clothes. "Wilkins is dead."

"Nice to see you're finally 100% on board."
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316. Doppelgängland

He'd thought they mixed sex and violence before. What a joke. "Stop," he roared, nerves protesting her nails' frenzied work. Dozens of deep and bloody scratches - fuck.

"Admit you love me!"

He laughed, earning another slash. "I'll kill for you, you crazy bitch. That's not new." He hauled her away, enjoying her gasp when she hit the opposite wall. "I'll bear with your moods, your pets, even your idiotic savior complex. And when hell comes to reclaim me, I'll drag you with me before letting go."

Their eyes met. Hers looked… relieved.

"You are crazy," he spat, and stalked away.
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317. Enemies

"I don't understand," Faith whispered again. But this time there was less anger in her voice, replaced by alarm.

So the girl had some working Slayer instincts after all.

Angelus sat in a corner, satisfied that the chains that had held Buffy didn't even budge at this Slayer's struggle. "You delivered the Troy horse to Wilkins' office," he explained. "Buffy didn't think that your pride would take the bait, but you aren't much different than old Pryamus."

"Keep it to the twentieth century, honey," Buffy piped up. Then, to Faith, "Don't you hate when he starts with the historical referencing?"
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318. Earshot

Decision made, Buffy walked into Giles' office. His worried Is everything okay? rushed through her, and she tried to smile. "I have a question."

Not another demon. There's enough work researching Wilkins' plans. "Yes?"

"What happens to a rogue Slayer when the Council catches up?"

They die. "It depends." Or worse. "They might try to reprogram Faith." Drugs. Loss of self. A girl-puppet. I should never have….

Buffy wasn't interested in his regrets. "Oh. Doesn't sound so bad."

I betrayed her in their name. How blind could….

"Sorry! Gotta go, Giles." And faking a grin, she fled the library.
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319. Choices

"Thank you," Buffy acknowledged reluctantly. Faith had slowed her arrival until Xander carried Willow into safety, timed it so only Buffy remained in the room.

The brunette shrugged. "I like the little witch. And who knows, maybe I'll save her boyfriend for when I'm feeling picky." She took out her new knife and winked at her sister Slayer. "God knows he could use a good, long work out."

"Careful, Faith. The 'little witch' might turn you into a rat if she hears that." Buffy laughed.

"Why hasn't she?"

"Doesn't know the reverse spell."

"Softie."

Buffy agreed, but didn't say so.

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320. The Prom

Angel worked the tiny hooks at the back of her dress. His reflection was absent, so she could pretend his touch was gentle instead of possessive, could picture a fond smile instead of the smirk their last interview with Wilkins had left.

If for nothing else, she'd kill Wilkins for forcing her hand.

"Ready," he breathed against her hair, turning her so they'd face each other. He lowered his hands, until he was brushing the pulse points at her wrists with his thumbs. Real gentleness. "Don't be scared, my dear." He kissed her brow. "It will only hurt like hell."
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321. Graduation I

Willow's nervous eyes jumped to Buffy, then back to the unconscious vampire that shifted against the chains holding him to the headboard. "He called for you," she said, looking at Buffy in open wonder.

No surprise in Buffy's reaction. Instead she reached out to soothe his raw wrists. "You were right." She kissed his fingers, pressed them against her forehead. "Working through a Watcher's stubbornness is hard. But I'm not saving anything without you, and if they want another Slayer -" Her laugh terrified Willow. "They can try."

"You love him," the redhead whispered. "I don't understand."

"Don't worry. Nobody does."

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322. Graduation II

A girl should always wake up to a soft, insistent touch wandering up her ribs. "Good," he murmured, nipping her shoulder delicately, trailing higher to swipe his tongue against a still tender spot on her neck. "I was thinking to take drastic measures to wake you up."

Her brain didn't want to work past slow sex. And a longer nap afterwards. "Don't wanna."

"Graduation beckons, Buff." But his hands spelled different intentions.

Intentions she approved.

"Hellmouth opening, yada yad-" She moaned. "Oh."

"And you get to take Richard's head." He kissed her, hard. "Can't wait for my first row seat."


The End
13-24/09/09


Note: I'm slowly moving all my drabbles to kitd_drabbles (dreamwidth dot org). Courting Sin has its own tag (ar: courting sin) and can even be searched by season, cs2(btvs2)-cs8(ats5). I haven't finished posting, though. Be patient. I'll get there.