Title: Fighting

Author: Jude (Sk8erGurl24)

Disclaimer: I STILL don't own anything.

Summary:Set during Angel season 2 (during his obsession with Darla, after he fired the crew, but before he slept with her. Somewhere between Redefinition and Reprise). Angel finds something from his Sunnydale days and realizes he can make it through everything. BA Semi-fluff. I just need something to get me going again.

Note: This was written strictly out of writers block. I AM NOTstopping my Gealach Gorm series, which is currently on the second book, When the Sun Falls, chapter two. I've had serious writers block on that chapter, and think I may need something to get the creative juices flowing. Thus, this fic. Enjoy and please review!

* * * * * *

Angel paced the Hyperion, which felt extremely empty without his crew, his staff, his friends. It was noon, and the sun was high in the sky preventing him from going anywhere. The good news, however, was that it also trapped Darla and Drusilla in whatever make-shift shelter they were using. He wasn't sure how things had gotten this crazy. He knew it started around the time Darla began appearing in his dreams and he became more and more focused on her than he was on his friends, or his work.

Darla. She was the reason he was doing this, banishing himself from all human contact. She was evil, insane, he knew that first hand. She had to be stopped, one way or another, she had to be stopped. That's what he told himself as he made his way into the basement. It was time to train, to prepare. There was a battle, a war, coming and he was the one fighting.

Angel made his way across the room towards the weapon cabinet, peeling his shirt off as he went, remaining in a white tank top. He was about to grab his favorite broad sword, when a cardboard box caught his eye. Slowly, he pulled his hand away from the sword and knelt beside the box. It was plain, with no markings other than a coffee ring where someone, most likely Cordelia, had set a mug on it. He quirked an eyebrow; he didn't remember what it was from, and cautiously opened it.

Inside was two items. The first one, a folder, was filled with sketches he had made. Of friends, of family, of landscapes. It was a little bit of everything. The next thing was a book, a scrapbook to be exact. It was purple with white lace and Angel instantly remembered where it had come from. Buffy. He carefully opened the cover and was flooded with memories of when this was made.

* * * * * *

It was early, ten in the morning, when Buffy came bouncing into his apartment, her arms laden with three plastic bags and her cheeks flushed. It was late November, just before Thanksgiving, and despite the fall time atmosphere, the weather was as hot as mid July. Angel's tiny apartment was cool, though, just like it always was.

This was a happy time, before Angelus, before Faith. Before Ted, the psycho robot almost-step-dad, even. No, this was the perfect time for everything. Slaying was slow, give or take a few demons, Buffy's mother didn't seem to be on her back as much, her friends were happy, and, most importantly, things were heating up between she and Angel. A lot.

He had just finished getting dressed and was wandering aimlessly, as he had done so many days, around his space. When he registered her presence he turned to her, a rare smile gracing his face.

"Hi," was all she said.

"Hi. Gone shopping?" He asked as she sat her bags on the floor.

She blushed and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I...um...it's just...I-I thought we could, you know, do something together."

"Like what?"

Her blush depended. "I-I...it's a hobby of mine and I thought that maybe you would like to help, you know so that we have something to...remember us by."

He walked over to her and looked her square in the eye. "I'm not going anywhere. Ever."

She smiled slightly at this and said, "Yeah. But demons come and demons go. You never know." When she realized the topic was getting morbid, she shook her head and put on a lighter tone. "But anyway, it's daytime, which means you're kinda stuck here. And if I'm with you, then I'm kinda stuck here. Not that I'm complaining. But I thought we could make this." She pulled a purple and white scrapbook from one of the bags.

"A scrapbook?" He asked incredulously. He'd done a lot of things, scrap booking wasn't one of them.

"Yeah. You know, we put pictures and stuff in then ten years later come back and laugh at all the stupid stuff we did." She looked at him. He didn't look overly thrilled. "I-I...oh boy...I...it's stupid. Never mind. I'm sorry, I'll just..."

She turned to leave but he caught her by placing his hand over hers on the doorknob, then pulled her against him.

"Hey. No, no. It's fine. I've just never...you know...done this sort of thing. But I'll try, okay? Now. Show me what you've got."

Buffy smiled a little, but didn't quite meet his eyes. She proceeded to show him the shoe box of pictures she had, mostly ones of her, and the stickers she had to decorate everything with. Then she pulled out an old camera, the kind that spat the pictures out as soon as you took them.

"I don't have any pictures of you," she explained. "And I doubt you do." A confused look crossed over her face. "Can you photograph?"

"I think. I mean, I'm pretty sure."

She held up the camera and snapped one. After waving it in the air for a moment, she closely examined it. He showed up!

"Hey. Look at that. It's you!"

She turned the picture and Angel examined it. He was amazed. It had been so long sinse he'd seen his reflection, much less a photograph of himself. After a minute, Buffy pulled the picture away.

"Okay, handsome. Enough staring at yourself."

Hours later, Buffy lay on his bed on her stomach with her head at the foot and all the pictures spread out in front of her. Angel sat beside her, deftly playing with a lock of her hair. After close examination, she began arranging the photos on the crisp, white pages of the book, adding little stickers in the white spaces, mostly of hearts and flowers, and putting captions under each photo in bright purple pen. She kept asking his opinion on things, but he'd agree and say it looked wonderful no matter what. Eventually, there was only one page and one picture left. It was one of the two of them together. They were sitting on the bed, side by side. Angel had his arm around her slender shoulders and Buffy was nestled against his side. She had twined her fingers with those of his free hand, and they were both smiling. Not the fake 'I'm getting my picture taken' smiles, but real, genuine, 'I'm truly in love with this person' smiles.

Buffy grinned and taped it into the center of the page. She didn't add any stickers this time, though. Instead, she grabbed a black pen and handed it to Angel.

"Will you write the caption, please?" she asked softly.

"Why me?"

"You have better handwriting. It's prettier than mine."

He smiled and took the pen from her. "What do you want me to write?"

She whispered it into his ear, as if saying it out loud would spoil the magic. He beamed when she told him and wrote the words in his neatest, most elagent script. Then he pulled his hand back and Buffy gathered up the book. Together, they examined the final project. When they got to the last page, Buffy smiled and gently touched the familiar writing.

'Buffy Summers and Angel. Forever, that's the whole point.'

"Forever," she whispered.

"Forever," he agreed before his lips claimed hers.

* * * * * *

Angel had tears in his eyes and his hand was trembling when he turned to the final page. There, clear as day was the picture of him and a sixteen-year-old Buffy above his beautiful handwriting. He reached out and ran his finger tips over the words, just as Buffy had done so long ago. Forever. He had promised her that, hadn't he? Yet here he was, miles away in a dark basement obsessing over another woman. How stupid had he been? He'd been so wrapped up in Darla that he hadn't just forgotten his friends, he forgotten Buffy. That was a new level of low, a level he never knew was possible.

He looked down at the picture of his beautiful girl--he refused to think of her as not his--and something deep within him clicked. He was going to make it. It may not be easy, and it may not be soon, but he was going to make it. He was going to make his way out of this dark place and he was going to be himself again.

Angel blew off training for the rest of the day, all thoughts of Darla fleeing his mind. Instead, he locked himself in his room and thought about everything he had done with Buffy, every movement, every kiss. Every time she had saved him, just like she had now. If he hadn't have found that scrapbook... He shuddered at the thought. Would he have ever remembered Buffy? Or would it always be Darla obscuring his thoughts? Truthfully, he didn't want to know. He was afraid of the truth.

Angel closed his eyes and leaned his head back, silently thanking Buffy, wherever she may be, for the idea of a scrapbook so long ago. And on it's own accord, words floated into his mind from long ago.

"Strong is fighting! It's hard, and it's painful, and it's every day. It's what we have to do. And we can do it together."

It was hard, and it was painful, and it was every day. But one way or another, they were going to do it together.

End.

A/N: So. Review and tell me what you think please!