By Shakespeare's Girl
A/N: Okay, not written specifically for the Challenge, but I keep trying to save documents and discovering I've already written something by the title I'm trying to use. Probably my first serious Buffy/Angel piece. Set sometime in season two or three of Angel, season five or six of Buffy. No spoilers for those seasons. Vague enough that even I'm not sure when this is supposed to be. Now that I've read back over this, I think this was probably inspired/ripped off from Lucinda Williams' song "Are You All Right." So, yeah, not with the owning of that. Or of anything Joss Verse, yeah, yeah, heard this before.
"Hey," Buffy began slowly. "Are you all right?"
She didn't answer right away. "Are you all right?" she finally repeated. "Cordy called me, and said . . . no, that's a lie. I haven't heard from anyone in LA. Just, you left so fast, last time. All of a sudden you went away, and I was just worried."
"I'm fine, Buffy," Angel growled.
"I know we didn't exactly end up on civil terms the past couple times we've seen each other, but . . . I hope you come back to Sunnydale someday. I haven't seen you in so long."
"It's been two years, Buffy."
"Yeah," she agreed. "I know. I was feeling guilty. And worried. Usually word trickles back to me, through Cordy and Willow and Xander and Giles, even Spike occasionally. But there's been nothing for so long. Just . . . give me a sign or something. I feel like something's wrong, and I just want to be sure that you guys are okay."
"We're all fine, Buffy."
"Good," she said. "Cause it seemed like you'd disappeared, all of a sudden. I was a little scared . . . You're sure nothing's bothering you?"
"Not a thing."
"I wish--" Buffy stopped. "Come on Angel. Give me a clue, a hint, something. You're even less talkative than you normally are."
There was silence on Angel's end.
"Is-is there something you want to say?" she asked, hesitant and unsure.
"No," Angel said, drawing the word out to convey the meaning that there was plenty he wanted to say, but nothing he was actually going to vocalize.
"Okay then . . ." Buffy thought for a moment. "I--I know you're busy with world save-age over there, and--and--just tell me that you're okay, and I'll hang up. Cause, I mean, you just took off, and I wasn't sure . . . you just flew away, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. But if you say nothing's wrong, then nothing's wrong, and I'll just go back to my life and let you get back to yours."
"We're all fine, Buffy."
"Good. That's good. So, there's nothing I can do to help you guys out? Nothing you need from me?"
"No, Buffy, there's nothing. Everything's fine. Cordy's fine, Wesley's fine, Gunn's fine, Fred's fine, I'm fine."
"I just like to hear from you every now and then," Buffy explained. "I need to hear from you. Because I--I still care about you, Angel. As a friend."
"As a friend."
"Cause that's all we are."
"Right. We're friends."
"Good." Buffy bit her lip. He wanted her off the phone, that much was clear. "Um . . . so, you're sleeping well, then?"
"Yeah, I sleep fine."
"Oh, good. And . . . do you have a girlfriend yet?"
"Buffy, you know I don't do girlfriends."
"Of course, I just thought maybe . . ."
"No, there's no one special."
"That's too bad. Maybe you should . . . you know . . . date."
"Maybe. But there's that pesky gypsy curse to think about."
"But you have friends, right?"
"I have Cordy and Fred and Wes and Gunn," Angel told her.
"Are they your friends?"
"Yes, of course."
"Oh, good. So, you've got friends, but no girlfriend, and you're getting enough sleep, and . . . you have someone to give you a hug every now and then, just because?"
"And someone who'll give you kisses, and make sure you're getting enough protien in your diet, and someone to--"
"It's not that I really care, you know, except in the way that friends care about that type of thing, because that's all we are, of course, friends, and--"
"You're starting to sound like Willow."
They were both silent for a while, just sitting there neither wanting the phone call to continue, but not wanting to hang up on the other one either.
"I don't have any of those things."
"What?" It was Buffy's turn to be unsure of her footing.
"Friends. Lovers. People you hang out with. I have employees."
"I don't have . . ." Buffy stopped. She'd been about to say she didn't have that either, but she did. She had her friends, and her mom, and Giles and slaying. But there was one thing she didn't have. "I don't have you," she amended. "And it's hard."
"I know," Angel said. "But what else can we do?"
"I don't know. Maybe nothing."
"There are days I wish I never met you," Angel said quietly.
"Because then my heart wouldn't be breaking," Buffy murmured. "You're sure you're all right?"
"I'm sure you don't have to worry."
"Okay," Buffy agreed softly. "Goodbye, Angel."