"Are you just going to ignore him forever?"
"That's what I was planning on doing, Lucas," I replied, tying my hair up into a ponytail as we approached the school entrance.
"I don't understand girls... they make my brain hurt," he muttered, rubbing his temples.
"You have a brain?"
He stuck his tongue out at me and gave me a playful shove. I enjoyed his company, much to Angel's displeasure, because it reminded me of the bond Angel and I used to share, before I got us into this stupid mess. I just hoped my feelings for Lucas would remain platonic. The last thing I needed was to fall in love with my other best friend and risk losing him as well as Angel. Well, at least I could always rely on Spike; the probability of falling in love with him is extremely slim, which I find extremely comforting for some reason.
"You both remind me of a crap soap opera. You're clearly meant to be but you just won't admit it. You bunch of idiots."
I wanted to remind Lucas that Angel had labelled me as a 'mistake' and, even though it was weeks ago, the pain in my heart was only just recovering from his cruel words. I didn't know how much power Angel possessed over my emotions and how easily he could break my heart with such few words.
"I'll see you at lunch, yeah?" Lucas said, giving me a heavy-handed pat on the shoulder before disappearing through the sea of students.
Before I could even take another step, Faith and Spike swooped in on either side of me. I tried my hardest to look pleased at the sight of them, though I was in no mood for their patronizing words of wisdom today. I knew Spike just wanted to see me happy again, which he decided to do by replacing Angel as the dominant male role in my life, but, despite how grateful I was, his attempts were extremely exhausting now.
"How are you today, pet?" he questioned, casually placing his arm around my shoulder and stroking my arm.
As much as Spike had proved himself as being a good friend, there was something in tone that made me question his motives instantly.
"What's going on?" I said, choosing to ignore his attempts at buttering me up.
"Nothing's going on, love. Just wanted to see how my favourite girl-"
"I know something has gone on, Spike, so don't play dumb with me. Spill!" I interrupted, pulling away from his grasp.
I stared him firmly in the eye, watching for any flicker of emotion that could give me some sort of hint to what was going on. His face remained impassive though.
"Everything's five by five, B," Faith replied.
There was something in her tone that told me she was lying. It's almost as if she had to force the words out, as though they had been scripted and she had no other option but to go with it. Faith wasn't usually one to hide the truth, in fact she enjoyed being blunt and to the point, no matter how much she made others feel uncomfortable by her brutal honesty. But why was she lying now? What made her turn her back on her brutally honest charm?
"Please, Spike, please," I said, locking my eyes on his.
We stared at each other for a few moments. I begged him with my eyes, refusing to embarrass myself by pleading with him in the middle of a busy corridor. I could see the battle playing in his eyes. It was evident that he was torn between two sides, weighing each side equally, yet he never took his eyes off mine through this battle. Eventually, with a strong sigh, he made his decision.
"Who?" I asked, cocking my head to the side as I puzzled over his words.
"Angel. He's leaving with Alyssa, Buffy, and he's not coming back."
Angel wasn't leaving. He couldn't be. How could he just pack up and leave? His family and friends were here. I was here. Surely he couldn't actually be leaving… for good.
Apparently, from what Spike had told me, Alyssa's parents had decided against their daughter permanently living at Angel's house, even though they were good friends with Angel's Grandmother. After a huge argument between Alyssa and her parents, it was decided that she was to move back home, whether she wanted to or not. By the time Angel had found out, Alyssa had already spoken to his parents and suggested Angel move in with his Grandmother, who only lived five minutes away from her parents' house. Alyssa's argument was clearly affective because Tara and Wesley, despite their reluctance, decided to leave the decision up to Angel.
I could help but wonder, as I paced up and down my room, what Alyssa had said to them. Why had Tara and Wesley let Angel decide whether to leave or not? Surely they could force him to stay, whether he was old enough to make the decision himself or not. Would my Mom let me move to my Grandmother's and leave behind my old life? I don't think I could leave her whether she wanted me to or not.
I couldn't make sense of the whole thing.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Mom asked, leaning against the doorframe.
"Have you heard about Angel?" I said.
She sighed. "I have. I spoke to Tara this morning."
I was relieved that my Mom knew as I hoped she would now be able to help me understand the whole thing.
"I don't understand," I said, flopping down onto my bed. "Why isn't Tara stopping him?"
"She thinks it will be good for him," she replied, taking a seat next to me and wrapping her arm around my shoulder.
"How? How will taking him away from his friends and family be good for him?"
I couldn't hide the anger in my voice.
"She's not taking him away, honey. He's leaving. It was his choice. Tara and Wesley have decided to see how it goes and, if everything goes smoothly, they are going to move up there as well."
"Permanently?" I questioned, trying to control the steadiness of my voice.
"Permanently," Mom echoed, sighing sadly. "They think it would be nice to have a fresh start… for their new baby."
I couldn't help but smile. Tara was pregnant. Despite the news with Angel, I couldn't contain my excitement for Tara and Wesley, who were such amazing parents, and the new baby who was growing inside her stomach. And then I remembered how Angel expressed once how he craved a sibling to protect and cherish. I guess he was finally getting his wish.
"You should go speak to him, Buffy, before it's too late," Mom advised, giving me a gentle pat on the shoulder.
"And say what?" I asked, unsure about how to approach Angel after everything we've been through lately.
I paced up and down the front porch. I couldn't seem to muster up the courage to go over and knock on his door. The butterflies flapping around my stomach were unbearable and I was just about to go back inside when his front door opened.
Angel stepped out, clearly oblivious to my pacing and distress, and headed towards his car, twirling his keys around his fingers. I noticed how muscular he looked and felt the sudden urge to run my fingertips across his body.
"Snap out of it!" I scolded myself.
He clearly heard me talking to myself because he looked up, his eyebrows knitted together in confusion. I was relieved he already knew what a strange individual I was, although it didn't make the situation any less awkward.
"Hey," he said, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.
I chose to ignore his greeting and cut straight to the chase. "You're leaving?"
A range of emotions flashed across his face; surprise, frustration, pain.
I stepped closer to him, deciding that I preferred the conversation to remain private rather than discussed over the garden where everyone could hear. He mirrored my actions and also stepped closer, clearing his face of any emotion that previously lingered there.
"I am," he said, refusing to break the eye contact.
"Why?" I blurted out.
He broke the eye contact and looked down to the floor, shuffling his feet awkwardly. He didn't answer immediately and I started to wonder if he even knew the answer himself. Though, before I could voice my opinion out loud, he suddenly looked up.
"Because I don't have anything to stay for anymore, do I?"
It was a question rather than a statement. He was relying on my answer to guide him in the right direction. If I told him to stay, he would. If I told him to go, he would. It all came down to the next few words out of my mouth. I suddenly felt the pressure creeping up on me, choking me with its claws as they wrapped around my throat. Maybe it was better for Angel to go and have a fresh start, make some new friends, try new experiences. How could I hold him back, especially knowing that his departure could result in a better future for his unborn sibling? Or was it possible to be selfish and force him to stay? I could finally get Alyssa out of the picture and pursue a relationship with Angel.
"Do I have a reason to stay, Buffy?" he asked.
Minutes ticked by. I knew my time was running out. I had to give an answer.
I bet you couldn't believe your eyes when you saw an update!
I'm back. For good this time.
I want to say thank you so much for your support with this story. It is quite wacky but life is boring without a bit of quirkiness and drama!
Take care xxx