The Question Is…
Rating: PG-13 (I'm not sure.)
Feedback: Please. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with BtVS or AtS. (Characters, plots, and dialogue from the shows are borrowed with no infringement intent whatsoever.)
Distribution: Please ask and let me know where it's going.
Summary: Angel's soul is free, which means that Angelus is free and Buffy has a decision to make.
A/N1: Remember the episode 'Awakening' on Angel season 4 when the AI team had Angel's soul removed? Well in this story his soul didn't go into the Muo-Ping, it went to wherever souls go when a person dies. Most of this story is told in flashback of Buffy's thoughts as she remembers dream-sharing with Angelus.
A/N2: I have been watching AtS reruns and couldn't miss the A/C overtures. For this reason I seem to be on a B/Aus kick for a while. Hope you'll bear with me.
Buffy awakened from sharing another dream with Angel, no not Angel, Angelus; she knew the difference between the two and the vampire in her dreams was not Angel. This was Angelus. But this Angelus didn't feel like the monster that was released upon Sunnydale the night of her seventeenth birthday. This Angelus felt familiar, intimate, caring, loving. For months now they had been sharing dreams and he had become more Angel-like than Angel himself. At first Buffy did not believe it was Angelus, but whenever she tried to open the link between them and Angel had control, he shut her down, or refused to acknowledge her all together.
She had tried to reconcile the feelings that she had in her dreams with the reality that she remembered to be Angelus. But she couldn't.
She remembered the first time Angelus entered her dreams. It had been a long day and Buffy had crawled into bed tired and weary.
At first she thought she was still awake and Angel was in her bedroom.
"It's me, Angelus, I need to talk to you and I don't have much time. I'm only temporarily in control…"
With that he was gone and Buffy was instantly awake and completely shaken.
"What was that?" she thought out loud. "Since when do I share dreams with Angelus?"
She didn't know whether or not she should contact Angel, after all, she hadn't heard from him since he visited after her mother's funeral. She opted not to do so and a few nights later Angelus visited her again while she slept. This time he was able to keep control for a longer period and he had time to explain to her what was going on.
At first he started out as his old cocky self when he greeted her with "Hello lover, I'm back, but then you knew that."
"Yes, I knew. What is going on? You feel real. How did this happen?"
"Ever since Angel's friend Doyle died, I have been gradually gaining strength. In recent months I have even been able to take control of the body for brief periods of time, especially when he was physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted. He hasn't even notice."
"So now what?" Buffy asked with trepidation.
"I want you to know how sorry I am for my behavior when I was free in Sunnydale. Buffy, I had always gotten everything and everyone that I ever wanted; I couldn't bend you to my will and I wasn't used to being rejected. I didn't know how to react to rejection, so I behaved badly, very badly. The more things didn't work the way I wanted, the worse I behaved. Acathla was a last desperate act."
"I don't…" Buffy tried to reply.
"Buff, please, let me finish. I've had the past few years to consider my actions against you and I sorely regret them. I know that I can't make up for what I did, but I am willing to do anything to earn your forgiveness."
'How can this be?' Buffy thought to herself. 'Am I losing my mind? Angelus sounds sincere; he was never like this; he was always a monster.'
All the while he spoke he held her hands in his, lightly rubbing his thumbs over her knuckles. Suddenly he let go of her hands. Buffy looked up at him then, directly into his eyes; they were Angel's eyes briefly and then Angelus' eyes again.
"Angelus what is happening?"
"He's waking up and I'm losing control. I will contact you again soon."
With that the link was abruptly severed.
Over the next several months Buffy and Angelus met often in her pre-dawn dreams. He was loving and gentle in the dreams, nothing like she expected him to be. At times she could almost see Angel in him. It took a long time for him to convince her that he was sincere, but as time passed she started to accept him and they drew close.
Angelus brought her up to date on Angel and his life since he left Sunnydale; he told her about Doyle's death and his transferring the visions to Cordelia who became half-demon to accommodate them, about Wesley, Gunn and Fred, about Darla and Drusilla, Connor and Holtz, Cordelia as a higher being and most recently Angel's developing feelings for Cordelia. Angelus assured her that he did not share those feelings, that he was in love with her, Buffy, and only her.
Buffy told him about everything that had happened in her life as well, her affair with Riley, Dawn and her mother's death and how strained the meeting had been between Angel and herself when he had come to her the night of her mother's funeral.
"That's because he hadn't planned to come, but as soon as I managed to get control, I got into the car and headed for Sunnydale. I knew that you needed him, but he took over as soon as I touched your hand. Control was going back and forth between us. I was the one who started kissing you, but he took over and ended it. You can't really blame him though, at the time his head was so full of Darla, he couldn't think straight."
The information that had affected Angelus the most was regarding her own death, time in heaven and resurrection. He had held her so close, as if the mere mention of her death was more than he could bear. She had never expected such a reaction from him. She also had never seen him as angry as he was when she told him about her affair with Spike; she knew that he wouldn't harm her, but thankfully his anger was directed more at Spike than at her. More recently she had told him about the return of the First. He wanted to be there with her and promised to come to Sunnydale as soon as he could.
Then one evening just as Buffy was about to leave for patrol she cried out in pain and collapsed to the floor; her body shook with uncontrollable sobs.
Willow ran to her. "Buffy, what is it? What's wrong?"
After a long while and with much effort Buffy was able to get herself under control enough to tell her friend what had happened. "Angelus is gone, Will. I just felt him die."
"Are you sure he's dead, Buffy? Maybe Angel just lost his soul and Angelus is free."
Buffy raised her tear stained face to look at Willow but was unable to. She burst into almost hysterical laughter.
At that moment Xander and Anya entered the house through the front door. He rushed to Buffy's side. "Will, what happened? What's wrong with Buffy?"
"She thinks Angel is dead. She felt his soul leave."
"And she's happy about that?" Xander questioned.
"Well yeah," Willow replied before remembering that she was the only one that Buffy had told about her dreams and her feelings for Angelus.
Buffy abruptly stopped laughing and stared off into space seemingly unaware of anything around her.
"What's the matter with her now?" Anya asked. "Is she going catatonic again?"
"I hope not. Buffy." Willow tried to get her attention.
"Buffy, Buffy." Xander put his hands on her shoulders and shook her.
Buffy held up her hand to them indicating that she was okay and they should be quiet. She was conversing with Angelus.
Willow beckoned to Xander and Anya to follow her into the kitchen where she explained to them about Buffy's feelings for Angelus. At first they did not want to believe it, but as Willow continued her explanation of everything she knew about the situation, they seemed to become reconciled with the fact that the unsouled version of Angel might possibly soon become a permanent part of their lives.
In the meantime through their link Buffy continued her conversation with Angelus. "It nearly scared me to death. I felt the soul leave and I thought you were dead. How did it happen?"
"It was you of course."
"What are you talking about?"
"Those fools that Angel called friends had his soul removed by a Shaman who was supposed to confine it in some kind of mystical jar called a Muo-Ping. The spell was supposed to make him think he was having sex with Cordelia and that she was giving him a happy, but I cried out your name just as his soul was ripped from him. The soul escaped, I'm free and they can forget about ever restoring it again. The spell backfired and nobody knows where the soul is. It probably went to heaven or wherever the good guys go when they die."
"What caused the spell to backfire?"
"What? How were you able to do that?"
"As soon as I heard what they had planned to do, I knew that I had to get control. When I did I put a quick spell on the Muo-Ping causing it to reject the soul. It was as simple as that. I'm coming to you as soon as I get out of this cage."
"Can't wait to kill me, huh?" Buffy joked.
Angelus was very serious. "You know that's not true, lover. You and I have shared a lot in dreams over the past few months and I meant every word I said."
"You said a lot of things."
"I know and as recently as last night I told you that I love you. I meant that too."
Buffy didn't say anything so Angelus continued.
"The question is, Buff: 'Do you want me?' Tell me now because if you don't think you want to spend the rest of your life with me then as soon as I am out of this cage I am leaving the country, the continent, and I am never coming back. My only reason for staying here is to be with you."
Buffy knew the answer and without hesitating she replied "I want you."