Title: Lay It On The Line
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the series
Characters: Buffy/Angel, Various others
Rating: MA (though this will be tamer than my previous fanfics)
Word Count Chapter 1: 982
Genre: Romance, het
Synopsis: Through the years, the pain, the tears, the life lessons, the other lovers and everything in between, Angel and Buffy have been bound together. Now, it's two years since Wolfram & Hart fell and Angel is dead. Though she grieves for Angel, Buffy has grown. After all this, she feels like she's finally moving on and coming into her own. So what would a presence from the past do to her now? Would her life unravel or would she embrace the past and merge it with her future? Can she learn to fit all the pieces of her Buffy-the-slayer and Buffy-the-girl puzzles together?
Type of Feedback preferred: any concrit is welcome and encouraged. open flaming is not.
Disclaimer: I have no rights to Buffy, Angel or anything else that is profitable. Joss Whedon is the genius with all the credit.
- this chapter is PG. I don't intend for this story to be smutty but knowing me it might get there, therefore I'm rating it MA to be on the safe side.
- this is my first Buffyverse fic and this will most likely contain other characters beside Buffy and Angel
- this is kind of an experiment meaning that I don't know where it's going. I'm taking it one chapter at a time and seeing what happens.
- there was an inspiration to kick start this experiment but I don't want to say just what it is yet. a few more chapters in and I will say.
- even if you're not a fan of the pairing, I'd appreciate reads of this first chapter because I'm wondering about the writing/tone
- PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leave feedback

1. Hearts Can Change

A round kick to the head sent the vampire flying backwards into a tombstone. A large corner chipped from the monument and crumbled dustily down to the ground. The vampire stood dazed shaking his head back and forth.

Buffy seized the opportunity to leap forward and pummel his abdomen with both fists in brutal repetitive succession. She let the frustration of her day drain from her body through her knuckles as they crunched into the walking corpse's ribs. Who needs therapy when you're a slayer?

With a roar the vampire's head suddenly snapped back then fell forward to connect with Buffy's. Pain sliced through her forehead and sent her stumbling back a few paces.

"Great. Now I'll have a raging headache."

"You're welcome." The vampire sneered an ugly toothy smile.

Buffy cocked her head to the side and gave him her most snotty look. "Did I say 'thank you'? I don't think so."

Stepping ahead, she prepared to lunge for him again when a tingling chill suddenly swept down her spine. Freezing, she glanced around the cemetery toward the line of trees shrouded in darkness. There was nothing visible but the feeling persisted. Buffy shivered slightly recalling a sensation she hadn't felt in years. For a brief moment, it might have only been two seconds, time was suspended and the chill transformed into warmth that spread throughout her body; warmth born from familiarity and emotions deeper than she could describe. It made her feel safe and loved and confused as hell.

Mr. Undead took advantage of Buffy's apparent lack of consciousness of the here-and-now. His large boot slammed into her chest and she felt the air whoosh out of her lungs. Again aware of the threat looming over her, she lay on the grass and gasped for breath.

Pleased with himself, the vampire jeered as he grabbed Buffy's shoulders and hauled her up and against him.

"I was always taught not to play with my food, but you're just so darn cute! I think I might have to have a little fun with you first." His dark eyes drifted down to sweep over her chest.

Disgust swelled in Buffy's stomach. "Dream on sleazy." Her knee jerked forward and smashed into his crotch with all the strength she could summon. With a howl of pain, the vampire's hands released her and he crumpled to the ground.

In one swift motion Buffy pulled her stake from her sleeve to grip it in her fist. Poised above the vampire she taunted him, "Oh, what's the matter? Don't feel like playing any more?"

The vampire's eyes widened as he watched her arm arch into the air and then swing down with a fatal blow to his heart. Buffy smiled in satisfaction as he dissolved into dust. "I have to admit. Sometimes I love my job."

Amazed by her admission, Buffy stayed squatted over the ashes and stared at them. Oh, how many things had changed and yet how many things remained unchanged in her life.

After ten years, she had finally come to appreciate the being that she was. Having spent the last two of the ten years learning and exploring the slayer history, she could now appreciate her legacy in a way she could not as a teen. There was a grace inside of her; a grace that she shared with a few select strong, courageous women. It was a grace that defied logic and gave her a purpose.

Purpose meant something to her now. On the most basic level it was similar to the purpose a dedicated law student has to become a lawyer and serve the community by setting wrongs right. On the most complex level, it was the power to change lives beyond anything other humans could dream about.

There were still days when Buffy would be glad to hang up her badge and let someone else do the work. The days when she came home battered and sore on the outside and the inside, for example. She would often see lovers walking past while holding hands and whispering intimately and she would watch them with a wistful heart. When frustrated by a day full of unsuccessful monster hunting she would pray fervently for an end to her sacred birthright.

But those days were less frequent now. Now, at almost twenty-five years old she was becoming happy with who she was, becoming comfortable in her own skin. She was learning to love herself as she loved those closest to her: flaws, superpowers and all.

Buffy sighed and straightened. Slipping the stake back into her sleeve she began walking towards the entrance of the cemetery. Thinking about the glass of wine and the hot bubble bath she was going to enjoy when she got home, the sudden tingling surprised her. It swept her spine as it had earlier and it gave her pause. Frozen once again, Buffy stared around the cemetery.

Her brows pulled together in a concentrated frown, she scanned the darkness. Her spine warmed as if fingertips barely trailed down her skin. Buffy shook her head and gazed at her shoes. The feeling unnerved her. It was so similar to how she had felt when Angel was close by. Thinking of him, always made her heart ache. That had never changed. Years couldn't make her love him less. The heartache was easier to live with but it was there.

But what was causing this sensation? It couldn't be Angel's proximity. Angel was dead. Forcing herself to acknowledge it once again, a sharp pain squeezed her chest. Buffy placed her fist against it and took a deep breath. Looking up at the stars, Buffy silently hoped for Angel to be at peace, as she did every day. And also as she knew existed.

With a sigh, Buffy's arms dropped to her sides and she strode out of the cemetery to head home.