In the recent winter Support Stacie auctions, Ithilwen K-Bane won a Buffy/Angel 'verse crossover with Twilight. She pointed out some characteristics of Angel and Edward, both, and requested that I build a story around them.
Notes: In the Buffy & Angel 'verse, this takes place both during "The Prom" and before both shows. In the Twilight 'verse, this all goes down before the first book. In either case, it is firmly "could-be-canon-but is (alas) AU" in nature. Some of the dialogue is lifted directly from "Choices" and "The Prom" and I've denoted those with asterisks.
The title comes from the title of Deadwood episode 2 of season 3.
Disclaimer: All things Twilight are the property of Stephanie Meyers. All things Buffy & Angel are Joss Whedon's. I own nadda.
I Am Not The Fine Man You Take Me For
1999, Sunnydale, CA
"I spoke to her mother." His voice is back to how it was when they first met--flat, toneless, bleak. He can hear it when he speaks into the phone, knows his friend will worry, but can't bring himself to inject emotion into it. He's losing so much, making such a sacrifice for the greater good, and though he knows it is the right thing to do, the best choice, he can't pretend in his own head or with one of his only friends--after this, after what he will be telling Buffy, probably his only friend, once again--that it is a choice he is truly happy to make.
"She reiterated some things. Things you've told me. Things I've told myself and ignored."
There is a pause from the other end of the phone's connection, and then: "You two are too different. That whatever future she has, you will only get in the way." Angel can picture Edward's face perfectly: flawless marble-like face solemn, earnest, his belief in what he's saying--what he's been telling Angel since the older vampire spoke to him about Whistler's revelation of the petite blonde Slayer in L.A--shining though his gold-brown eyes. Edward has been warning him to keep his emotional distance from the girl he's supposed to help since before he made the move to Sunnydale two, nearly three, years ago.
"Yes. A reminder, too, that she's just a girl, and that as the adult, I need to be the one to care enough to make the right choice, the difficult choice, here."
"Angel, you shouldn't have gotten involved with her in the first place. Leaving is the best thing for her. She'll be able to move on--"
"And have a normal life? She's the Slayer. One of the best I've encountered, but still the Slayer. She will move on, yes, but don't try to lie to me, Edward, and tell me she will be able to marry and have children and a picket fence in suburbia. We both know that's not how it goes for these girls. She'd already be dead if not for her friends."
"If you think--ok, Angel, 'know'--that she won't have a normal life, then why leave?" Edward's voice has taken on a challenging tone, one that makes Angel roll his eyes like the teenagers he's spent so much time around the past two years. Edward does a poor job of playing Devil's advocate; he's too earnest. It's a role better left to his adoptive sister, Alice, or to Jasper.
I see skulking in the shadows, hiding from the sun,* the mayor's comment echoes in his mind. "Because if she is going to live, really live as a human should, I need to remove myself from her vision so she can see life in all its beauty. She already has darkness and death; she doesn't need me to add to that burden. I only hold her back, keep her from reaching her potential, both as a woman and a Slayer." Toward the end, he notices the annoyance creep into his voice, pushing aside the apathy that had previously saturated it.
"It's the right thing," Edward confirms.
Angel can hear a feminine snort from near Edward. "You're both idiots," Alice says from next to Edward. "You can't take choice away from someone like that." Even without facial expressions to judge, Angel can tell that Alice is talking about more than just his situation with Buffy. Apparently Edward thinks the same thing. When he speaks, Angel hears wary suspicion in his tone.
"What do you mean, Alice? What are you hiding from me?" The line goes silent, and Angel realizes that the other two vampires are probably doing their strange silent 'twin-speak.' "Stop blocking me with recitations of Milton," Edward says in irritation.
"No!" is the chirpy reply. "Just remember: unilateral decisions are nobody's friends, boys."
Edward makes a frustrated noise, and Angel is glad for the distance between them that hides his grin. The little firecracker of a vampire never fails to make him smile, and he cherishes her for that. "What was she doing?" he asks.
"Mentally reciting and translating Paradise Lost into every language she knows. Apparently she doesn't want me seeing these visions."
"Seeing the future is dangerous," Angel says, repeating an often offered, and often ignored, pearl of wisdom to his friend. "If Alice is blocking you, it's for a reason."
There is a non-committal huff from the other end of the line before Edward comes back to the subject at hand. "When will you talk to her?"
"Soon. She wants me to be her date to prom. I can't, I don't think..." He trails off, trying to gather his thoughts. "It's an important thing for high school kids, right? I shouldn't lead her on by being her date when I know I'll be leaving as soon as we stop the Ascension."
"Make it a clean break," Edward offers. "They heal better."
"I know." Angel's answer is more heavy sigh than actual words, but he knows his friend understands.
"Come live with us when you leave. Esme needs someone new to mother, and I could use someone to distract Alice from her plans of world domination."
"I might." They both know he won't. He's never accepted the Cullen offer to live with them.
Angel cringes at the sympathetic tone. Pity isn't why he called.
"Thanks." He hangs up, and sits with his head in his hands. How is he going to break this to Buffy?
He's well into brooding when his phone rings. "Hello?"
"You're an idiot," Alice reiterates. "You do know taking love and break-up advice from Edward is stupid, don't you? He's never been in love. He doesn't understand what either of you are going through."
"Hello to you, too, Alice."
"Don't change the subject."
Angel grimaces. "It doesn't make Edward less right." Or the Mayor, he adds silently.
"Yes, it does."
"You aren't in this particular situation, either, Alice. Don't pass judgment. All I can offer Buffy is shadows and death, two things she already has in spades. She needs someone who can walk in the sunlight with her, have--have Sunday picnics in the park. I can never do that."
"Call me crazy, but I don't think that's what Buffy wants."
"She's eighteen. She doesn't know what she wants." She's so young, his living flame of hope. How can she possibly understand the life she won't have with him?
"She's more adult in many ways than people twice her age. She's had to be." Her voice softens, then. "But you're convinced it's for the best, aren't you?"
"I am. I'm holding her back, Alice. I'm not good for her. In the end, she'll come to see that I'm right. There will be immediate hurt, but she'll understand eventually." She has to.
"Men." The disgust is heavy as she says it. "Just do me one favor, oh dark and broody one. Don't make her go to prom by herself. Girls should only go alone if they choose to. Don't take that choice away from her, too."
"I don't know, Alice..."
"Well, fortunately for you, I do know. Trust me. At least one dance. And wear a tux. Promise me."
He huffs out a breath in defeat. "Fine. One dance. If she hurts more because of it, I'll--"
"I'm hanging up now, Alice."
"One more thing!"
"What?" Any attempts at keeping the exasperation from his voice are gone. He just wants to--to skulk in the shadows--sulk and psych himself up for the coming conversation with Buffy. Why can't Alice just leave him alone?
"You were wrong about cutting yourself out of Edward's life, about taking that choice away from him all those years ago. What makes you think you're right about this?"
His response is immediate. "That was different. Edward was different."
Her voice is sad when she replies. "You still haven't learned in almost seventy years, have you?"
He starts to reply, but is cut off by her brisk "Remember: Tux. Dance." There is a click as she hangs up.
Edward was different, he repeats in his mind.
1931, eastern MN (about 20 miles west of Minneapolis)
They followed, on foot, the newly completed state highway 12 until they reached the small village called Maple Plain. Angel led his friend past Miller's General Store, past Styner Hardware, past the two electric street lights, and out the other side of the village. There wasn't much to see, after sunset. It seemed that most of the population was inside. Edward seemed content to leave Minneapolis and the sea of mind-crushing voices he always found in a city of any size. The smaller settlements like this one offered fewer chances for him to find a vigilante-approved meal, but Angel found the local wildlife more tasty than street rats and stray dogs, so as far as he was concerned, being in the countryside was a good thing.
Of course, he had an ulterior purpose, coming here. One he'd carefully hidden from his telepathic companion. As they turned to walk up the pocked dirt road, Angel saw Edward's lips compress into a thin line, saw the younger vampire shoot him a furious glare as he caught the scents of the people they were coming to visit. He pretended, though, that he hadn't noticed, filled his mind with self-flagellating memories of twisting and tormenting a young Drusilla before he changed her; he'd learned over the past year that Edward particularly hated to see the more vicious memories of Angelus. However, as much as the redheaded kid loathed himself and what he was, Angel thought that perhaps having some perspective--a true monster to compare against--would be good for the younger vampire. It had the added bonus of keeping the kid away from his true intentions, which he was fairly sure wouldn't be appreciated.
Which, frankly, was just tough. He was older, wiser, more (dare he think it) damaged. He knew a damn sight more than some sullen, over dramatic, 30-year-old who thought he had it much worse than he actually did.
His mental recitation of Drusilla-centric memories got them to the the lane that ran up to the snug-looking farm house set back behind towering hardwoods, but it is there that Edward decided to dig in his heels and refuse to move forward. "I'm not ready."
Angel answered firmly, surely. He knew better. His friend had been ready to come back to his father figure for some time, he'd just been scared of the judgment he thought he'd face. "You are."
"They'll hate me."
"From what you've told me, this Carlisle is incapable of hating anyone. In fact, it sounds like he loves you." A foreign concept to Angel, true. But it had been clear from the kid's descriptions of his sire that the elder vampire had truly cared for his childe, and had been pained to see him leave their little family unit. Pained but understanding. Angel did not know what that was like, personally. Darla had been furious, she had been condescending, petulant, and raging by turns, but she had not been sad, really, to see him leave. Only unhappy that her protégé in terror, her pretty Angelus, dared leave her. Territory and control, not love and nurturing. The kid refused to acknowledge what he was missing, so Angel felt it was his duty as the elder in this friendship to set the younger vampire straight.
"Esme won't want me here. Carlisle is her mate; I shouldn't burden them with a murderer."
"How are you a burden? You're self-sufficient, an adult. Besides, from what you've told me, Esme was born to mother. She'll want you back, too."
"But I'm a murderer. The stain on my soul will drag them down."
I told you you have a soul! Angel mentally crowed. Yes, taking those lives is something you'll have to deal with for the rest of your existence. It does not mean, however, that you need to avoid your family. "Stop pretending you know how he'll react, Edward. Go, talk to him. Give him a chance." Carlisle is the closest thing you have to a father; something I never really experienced, even as a human.
"You had a father," Edward replies, irritation clear in his voice, "when you were human. You remember him clearly."
"Do you see my memories of slaughtering him and my family right after Darla turned me, too? I keep telling you, calling yourself a monster is exaggeration on your part." Trust me, I know. It is an old argument, one they have gone back and forth on ad nauseum. As Angelus, he had spent a hundred and forty-five years killing thousands across Europe and Asia indiscriminately, ending lives and drinking blood with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. To his mind, Edward's short stint, starting four years ago, of satisfying his bloodlust by killing the murderers, rapists, and the violent dregs of society was barely dabbling. He understood, though, the torment his younger friend was putting himself through. He just thought that perhaps that Edward was being rather over dramatic about it. What had the younger vampire told him when he'd confessed to being one quarter of the Scourge of Europe? That it was his choices now that defined how others should treat him? That past sins, if the person truly repented as Angel did, could not be what he, Edward, used as a guide stick in choosing friends? Angel saw no reason his friend could not, would not, apply that same idea to himself.
It was clear that Edward no longer believed in killing humans, even if they were terrible examples of their species and a danger to others. It was also clear, Angel thought, that he was not a positive influence on the kid. He was too damaged himself, his soul too distraught by the actions of the demon, for him to properly help and support the younger vampire. It was time for Edward to come home, whether he admitted it or not.
Edward turned fully to face Angel and give them the full weight of his glare. Angel had found upon their meeting that after Darla, after The Master, after The Immortal, after Spike, the 'ruby glare,' as he called it, had zero effect on him. It might intimidate humans, maybe even other vampires, but Angel had seen, had delivered, worse. He returned the glare and smirked at the flicker of irritation he saw on the other man's face. Angel had to be quite depressed to not get some joy out of nettling Edward.
"I spent nine years in Carlisle's head, Angel. I think I know how he'll react to me. He was, is, adamant in his preservation of human life. He won't accept what I've become."
"You told me he spent time with the Volturi in his past. Even though he didn't partake in their diet, he did live there for a time, and left on, you said, friendly terms. I know from my time in Europe that they had a ruthless, bloody reputation that was both different from and similar to my family's." Angel felt his expression sharpen, and he made sure that his thoughts echoed his words to reinforce them for the telepath before him. "In that alone, you sire demonstrated himself to be non-judgmental of others' decisions. He loves you. Talk to him. I think he'll surprise you."
What would it be like, Angel wondered not for the first time, to have a sire who would take you back regardless? His failure to kill that infant during the Boxer Rebellion had meant there could be no return to Darla's side, where he'd spent the entirety of his life as a vampire. He'd been cast out, denied, set adrift in a world he did not know how to relate to without power, violence, and blood.
He shoved Edward's shoulder in an attempt to jolt him into walking up the lane to the house. "One foot before the other. Left first, then right." Keeping the emotion out of his voice was harder than he had thought it would be. He knew that once Edward had his support system back, it would be time to strike out on his own. Angel had already decided that once he dropped Edward off with his family, once the young ginger-haired vampire saw that he really did belong with Carlisle and Esme, that he'd remove himself from Edward, maybe spend some time in a large city he could get lost in, perhaps Chicago or New York.
When Edward put his left foot forward to begin a slow walk, as reluctant and uncomfortable as a sentenced man being led to the gallows, Angel knew he'd won. He kept his distance but followed the stiff gait and bowed red head to the front stoop, where Edward, with great deliberation, knocked on the front door. Angel found his natural place in the deepest part of the moon-cast shadows among the trees and watched the door swing open to reveal a beautiful woman with the same ethereal good looks and marble skin as Edward.
For a moment, she paused, clearly surprised, as she took in the mud-caked shoes, plain trousers and threadbare shirt worn by the man on her doorstep. She stopped her assessment when she reached his eyes, which were bright red. Edward tensed, obviously ready for flight at the first sign of disappointment or rejection. Angel breathed a sigh of relief as he watched her threw her arms around the younger man's neck and pull him into a fierce hug. "Oh, Edward," he heard. "We missed you so much." Her voice warbled a bit toward the end, and Angel knew that if their kind of vampire could cry, she would be. She stepped back to beam up at him, but kept her grip firmly on his upper arms. "Come in, please!"
"Yes," came a melodious voice from behind her. From his position, Angel couldn't see the vampire who had to be Carlisle. "Edward, do come in. We have missed you, son."
He watched Edward's shoulder's sag in what he imagined was relief. All was good. He was right in his estimation of how Edward's family would receive him. It is time for me to leave, he broadcast to Edward. You have your home, your safe port in the storm. I need to find mine. That last part was a lie; he knew he would find no home, no safe port. He did not deserve such consideration.
Edward paused in his hug with Carlisle and pulled away to look out over the tree-shadowed lawn. Angel held very still, knowing that even as good as the other vampire's eyesight was, his demon was made for hiding in the darkness. Angel would not be seen unless he wanted to be. "Angel," Edward spoke into the night. "You don't have to leave. Come and meet Carlisle and Esme, at least."
The other two were scanning the shadows, too. They exchanged a rapid, hissing conversation that the hiding vampire could not understand from his distance. "Any friend of Edward's is welcome here," Carlisle announced into the night air.
Angel felt a tug, a longing for a family, but shook it off. Whereas Edward had been wrong in the idea that his crimes would taint this family, Angel knew that his own horrible and dark past, far worse than anything Edward had contemplated, would inevitably be a dark cloud over the Cullen household. It was not the place for him. He needed to atone for his past, somehow, and he could not do that in the arms of a loving family. No, he sent Edward. I appreciate the invitation--which you should revoke, just in case--but here is not where I need to be. My redemption leads elsewhere, I think.
"Are you sure?" Edward answered back. "You'll check in from time to time?"
I'm sure, he answered. Of course, he lied. You'll hear from me from time to time.
1999, Sunnydale, CA
The sun is down, and Angel is free to leave the mansion. As he heads out into the night to meet Buffy in the nearby cemetery to patrol, he mulls over the words and phrases he'll use to break his decision gently. He knows he needs to be honest, but he doesn't want to be cruel. Whatever else, he loves her, and wants this to hurt as little as possible. He should tell her tonight, he decides, when they've finished the patrol, so that she isn't distracted while she fights.
They chase the vampire into sewers, and Angel can feel the need to clear the air, to come clean with her, pressing on his chest, twisting his stomach in knots. It is ridiculous, the analytical part of his mind acknowledges, that he would be so nervous, so unlike Angel or Angelus, in the face of a tiny slip of a girl, but he is.
"Every time I say the word 'prom', you get grouchy,"* she tells him.
Because I don't want to hurt you, he thinks. But what he says out loud is "I'm sorry. I'm just worried that you're getting too...invested in this whole thing."* He knows before the last syllable is out of his mouth that it's the wrong thing to say. But he's said it, now, and will stand by it.
Her expression as they talk, the way her face crumbles when she realizes that he's breaking things off with her, chills the borrowed blood in his veins. All he wants to do is gather her into his arms and hold her as she cries, to wipe the tears from her cheeks and then bask in the flame of light she brings with her into the darkness. What he does is tell her that after the Ascension, once they've survived (if they've survived) he is leaving town.
Leaving is the right thing to do, he tells himself. He holds onto the words of Joyce and Edward, telling him that making this choice, the hard choice, was his responsibility to Buffy. He carefully, very carefully, buries Alice's warning against unilateral decisions. He knows that she means well, but there are times when you do whatever is in your power to make the lives of those you love better, no matter the cost or what they may think. It's what you do for those you love.
a/n: Thanks to EZRocksAngel and tkmoon712 for pre-reading this and helping me out. Hugs, y'all!