Well. I had a lot of plans for this story, a lot of ideas that started in earlier chapters that will just have to be left as they are. I decided to not drag this one out any further, it's been unfinished for so long and as much as I love this one, I'm ready to move on. Maybe I'll write a similar one down the road, use those unused ideas. Who knows. But for now, this story is at a close. Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed.
Angel sat in the dark, just a dim lamp on close by, giving enough light for him to re-read a long letter Ethan had written and left for him.
His late employer had been laid to rest earlier in the day. Or given the time, he supposed you'd have to say yesterday technically now. And it hadn't been easy on anyone.
Buffy was upstairs, asleep in his bed. Some place she'd gotten familiar with since her father's passing.
He'd bedded her for the second time hours ago. He'd been sleeping in a chair in the room when she woke him, climbing on top of him, begging him to make her feel better, to help her forget for awhile. He couldn't deny her, those pleading eyes. He couldn't deny his selfish want, having craved such to happen again. And this time, to be able to do things right.
And he had done his best to. Their second coupling being much different than the first. He wasn't in a jealous fit of rage, it wasn't rushed. He took his time, made her feel loved, not just wanted. He was slow, tender.
He had fallen asleep after, but found it hard to stay under. So now here he was.
She'd shown up here after finding him. He'd held her, asking her what was wrong. When she finally got it out, he'd felt his heart break. Both for her and for himself. Ethan was a huge part of his life for so long, he'd always done right with him. Hell, he was sure Ethan had probably saved his life.
After that, Angel found himself by her side at almost all times. He'd taken care of her at his place, then taken her back when she felt ready to go. He'd been there through questioning, through family and friends coming to show their support for her in such a tragic time. He had her at his place more and more, she'd hated being in the house without Ethan. He took her wherever she need to go, got her anything she needed. He'd been with her at meetings she'd had to go to, things to deal with her father's estate, and he'd brought her along to his similar ones.
Angel had gone with her to make the final arrangements for her father. He'd put his input in a few times, but mostly agreed to whatever she thought was best. And when the time came, he sat beside her as the service ran on. He held her up as she had to say goodbye for the last time. He'd carried her from the cemetery, bringing her home and putting her to bed.
It'd been several hours later when she woke, undressed, and got him up.
Angel finished the letter then sighed. He rubbed his tired eyes with one hand, setting the pages to the side. He had no idea what he was going to do now.
Ethan had left him well taken care of, and given a way out of the life by it all. Though he didn't know what that meant for him from here on out. But he'd just have to see.
He knew he wanted away from here, from all of it. He didn't need this life anymore.
But what to do...
Buffy swallowed, stepping closer before taking a seat. She looked down for a moment. "He told me you'd avoided me until coming to Sunnydale."
"I did," he answered.
Angel shrugged, then took a sip of his ice water, grabbing a few more things to sort through.
"H...how long had you known of me?"
Again, a shrug. "Known of you? Pretty much since I'd started working for him. Not right off the bat but close enough. I hadn't seen you or really knew anything about you for awhile after that. It's been a number of years."
Buffy felt a little pitter-patter of her heart at the thought of him being there, even if at such of a distance. "Why come to Sunnydale, then?"
"What's with the questions, Buf?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at her for a moment.
Buffy looked down again. "Just trying to understand some things."
He sighed. "I don't know. I can give you a list of partial reasons but there's not one that just jumps out."
"Did you plan on being with me?"
Angel stilled at that for a moment. "No," he answered. Then, "I don't know," he added.
Her lips tugged a tiny bit behind him. She was silent for several moments, watching him. Then, "I heard you," she said. "With Dad. You told him you loved me."
Angel stilled again, his jaw setting in a hard clench.
"I don't know what surprised me more," she continued. "Hearing you say it, how it made me feel, or the fact he was okay with it. Hell, encouraging it."
Angel's hands fell down to rest on the large cardboard box in front of him. "Yeah," was all he could say.
Buffy swallowed again. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"When? And why would I? I was there to make sure you were okay and to watch over you. Yes, both me and Ethan might have thought of more than that, but that was what it came down to. I didn't need to be losing sight of that." Angel turned around slowly. "I was fine trying to keep things under control. Playing around was fine, but no good could come of anything going beyond that. I knew that."
"Things did happen. Nothing bad came of it."
He sighed. "You don't see it, but I do, Buffy. You have this idea in your head about me, about us now. Because of that."
"How is that a bad thing?"
"Because you're not looking past these feelings you developed all because of the wrong damn reasons. Because of how this all went down, and how life has been for you, I come along and am the first person to give you any sort of freedom and experience in anything and that clouds your judgement."
Buffy glared at him. "You really think that this is what all this is about? Really? That I'm just clinging to you because you were there, the first thing that came along?"
Angel sighed again. "In a way, yes."
Buffy stood up, clearly angry.
Angel didn't see her for days after that conversation. She'd stormed out like a bat out of hell after cursing at him. He felt bad, in many different ways, for many reasons, but he just looked at maybe it was all for the best this way.
Fate wasn't seemingly on the same team though.
When she'd come around again, she was still angry. He'd opened the door to his home, almost all packed up now, and brushed past him. He'd barely had time to shut the door when she spun around on him. "Ethan Rayne ran a drug business," she said. "He sold guns and weapons. God knows what else. I'm fairly certain he'd murdered or had quite a few people killed. But you know what? He loved me, he loved my mother. He was a good husband and a good father."
Angel held up his hands in surrender at her tone. "I'm not saying any different."
She took a step forward. "And yet you can't see any similarity there? You can't see that hey, maybe you had some bad things go down in your life, made some choices you're not all that proud of, but hey, maybe there's something good in you? Maybe you can become something better?"
Buffy stepped forward again, her hand cocking back and she slapped him. "Stop doing that!"
Angel's eyes flashed in hot anger. This girl had a hell of a history of doing that.
Buffy was unnerved by the look he shot her, but that was about it. "I was grateful for the bits of freedom you offered, Angel. I was curious about a lot of things. That is true. But you know what? I liked you. I was scared of you, but I was also insanely attracted to you. I wanted you. You felt right to me. You made me feel safe, you made me feel normal. You made me laugh, made me want to do anything to make you laugh. I loved seeing you look at me like I was some magically being almost. When I found you that night, almost bleeding to death down on the sofa, my heart hurt at the thought of losing you. And when I kissed you before they took you off, I'm pretty sure I knew then that I was done for when it came to you."
Angel's hand went to rub the spot absent mindedly.
"And after... these feelings just kept growing. And I didn't understand them, and maybe in some ways I still don't, but they're real, Angel."
Angel sighed, stepping forward this time. He pulled the small girl into his arms.
"Tell me," she whispered.
Angel kissed the top of her head. "I love you," he whispered. "I have for a long while."
He felt her body shudder a little. "I love you, too," he got in response. She snuggled in closer to him. "Please don't leave me here."
Angel sighed, closing his eyes.
"I don't have anything here anymore, Angel. And I don't want it. I just want to be with you."
"I'm leaving the country, Buf. Starting fresh."
"Take me with you. Hell, Angel. If nothing else, you know it's safer for me than being here now. Being anywhere just about."
He knew that. He was sure that Buffy could handle life on her own. It was just her ties to her family that were an issue. Not that that was going to be the main reason he'd agree to this.
"Please take me with you. Be with me. Stay with me."
"That's a tall order, Buffy. And I don't know what the hell I'd do if you up and change your mind if I give in here."
Buffy's face tilted up so she could look at him. "I'm not going to. Never. This is a new chapter, for both of us, our lives. And I want to see it play out, you and me, from here til the end."
Angel bent his head, tasting her softly. "If you disobey me, can I still threaten to tie you up?"
Buffy smiled against his mouth. "Still think you're in charge of me, do you?"
"Knowing you, Buffy Summers, somebody has to be."
She smiled again at that. "Well, as long as you promise to go through with it if I do. The idea isn't quite as scary as it was at first," she told him.
"Mmm. I guess we'll just have to work on that then?"
"Does that mean a yes?"
He was silent for a long time. Then, kissed her again. "I'm done fighting you. Fighting myself. If this is a bad idea, I don't want to care about it."
Buffy smiled brightly. "That's as good of an answer as any."
Buffy stepped further inside what was to be her new home. She was carrying a stack of light boxes in her hands as she looked around.
Angel followed behind her about a minute later. He slipped his sunglasses off, folding them and tucking them into the neckline of his shirt. He leaned in the door frame and watched her look around. "Seem familiar?" he called out.
Buffy spun around, not having heard him. She smiled at the sight of him after the shock though. "It's very... Sunnydale-ish."
He smiled. It was. Not exactly by any means, but it had some of the same features, and more so the feel. "What can I say? I'm not ready to give up on all the memories of my sorted past just yet."
She chewed on her bottom lip, her face still in a smile. "It's perfect."