"Sickness is mankind's greatest defect." - Georg C. Lichtenberg


"I'm not gay!"

"I'm sure you don't think so," said Mirany, the smirk evident even in her voice.

I glanced up at the two of them as they came down the stairs. Connor was scowling and Mirany was, as predicted, smirking.

"Why are you so adamant about this? It's not as if it's a bad thing," said Mirany.

"I'm adamant because you're wrong."

"Connor, acceptance is the first step towards happiness."

"Oh piss off."

Mirany grinned at me as they parted at the bottom of the stairs, coming over to me.

"I think I'm getting there," she said happily.

"Yeah, looks like he's really ready to come out," I said sarcastically.

"Well, at least I'm trying," Mirany sighed, sitting down and curling up beside me.

"Are you alright? I've been shaky all day but I know there's nothing wrong with me."

"I think I'm coming down with something," Mirany groaned, cuddling closer to me. "I've got a temperature and everything. You really feel sick as well?"

"Yeah. You should lie down. Get some sleep."

"I'm fine," said Mirany, waving it aside. "It's just a cold or something. I probably caught it from Toni but I'm fine. If she was fine and she's like, seven, surely I'll be fine."

I frowned slightly.

"It doesn't quite work that way Mirany."

"It does if I say it does," Mirany muttered. "Come on. Let's go patrolling. Blow off some steam."

"When you faint and die-"

"You will not be held responsible, now let's go!"

I sighed and allowed her to pull me to my feet and out of the hotel.

...

"This is all your fault," Mirany groaned.

"I did warn you."

"But it's not possible! Some little seven-year-old snot-bag has a bit of a sniffle and suddenly I have every disease on the face of the earth? No. This will not stand!"

"Neither will you if you don't calm down," I pointed out.

Mirany huffed slightly and rolled over, burying her face in pillows. She was sweating bullets and could barely muster the energy to sit up, let alone stand. In her state, her eyes had yellowed and she'd developed claws and fang as her control slipped away.

"Being sick sucks," Mirany grunted into the pillow.

Maia jumped up onto the bed beside her and nuzzled under her arm.

"At least someone cares," said Mirany, removing her face from the pillow to glare pointedly at me.

"Mirany, I told you perfectly clearly that patrolling wouldn't help your condition. I told you to get some rest instead of try to take on five vampires at a time. I'm sorry if it appears that I don't care but I did warn you. You chose to do the stupid thing. Hardly my fault. And let me inform you that this isn't exactly a walk in the park for me either. I'm not sick but I'm certainly feeling some of the affects of whatever ti is that you've come down with. So for once in your life, do the right thing and just lie there. Luckily for you, you have a million people around you all the time so you have the facilities to do that."

"But I'll get so bored," Mirany complained.

"Go to sleep then," I said simply, getting to my feet.

"Wait."

Mirany caught my arm, holding on feebly.

"I need to drink," she said quietly.

I sighed and laid down beside her.

"We're going to need a better system," I told her as she ran a sharp claw down the length of my neck. "You're too unpredictable."

"I'm sick! I'm allowed to be more needy," Mirany objected, running her tongue along the cut before latching onto my neck and beginning to drink my blood.

Maia growled and got to her feet, climbing onto the pillows to try and paw Mirany's face away from me, whilst growling a very clear warning in my face. I knew what she was thinking. I was basically poisoning Mirany, and even the dog knew it. Mirany tried to wave her away with one hand while her other hand gripped at my hair, pulling me closer. The dog didn't budge, and continued to growl right until Mirany released me, eyes losing some of their yellow state for a short moment, a glazed, calm look on her face. Maia whimpered slightly and nuzzled against Mirany's face, giving me a warning look, if that were at all possible for a dog. I ruffled her fur and got to my feet.

"Maia's right Mirany. I'm no good for you," I said as I left the room.

...

"Where's Miss I'm-The-Centre-Of-The-Universe?" asked Connor.

"At home, sick as a dog," I said. "Speaking of, her dog wasn't very happy with her drinking from me. She tried to make Mirany stop and she kept snarling at me. It was weird."

"So Maia actually tried to stop you?" asked Connor.

"She was going to rip my face off," I confirmed fervently. "I think Mirany's the only person in the world who doesn't see that blood drinking isn't the usual practice for humans. Particularly if it's vampire blood that you're taking in by the quart."

Connor seemed to be chewing his tongue. I knew this was a touchy subject with him. It had been one of his main campaigns when he was trying to get Mirany to take him back. And that was exactly why I was talking to him and not to Cordelia or Wesley. He'd thought about this, for a long time, and he was slightly more removed from the situation than I was to see what was happening to Mirany in the long term. And he would see everything. That was Connor. If it involved Mirany's well-being, Connor would know about it. He was exactly the person I needed to talk to about this. Just my luck to have that person living under my roof.

"I don't actually believe it's the blood drinking that a dog would be opposed to," he said. "I mean, you've done it around Maia plenty of times before, right?"

"Well, yeah," I said.

"So that's not the problem. Maybe the problem is more to do with what's been happening. Because clearly, something's changed."

"Well, the only different thing about this time was that Mirany was sick," I said. "What, you think maybe Maia sensed Mirany was...weaker?"

"It's a possibility, but again, don't think so. When Mirany needs blood, she gets weak. I'm thinking it is something to do with the sickness, but not that she's weaker. How'd she get sick?"

"She reckons she caught it from Toni," I said. "Said she had a sniffle or something. Must have just blown up into bigger proportions for Mirany."

Connor considered me.

"What was our theory about Toni again?" he asked.

"She has Mirany's pre-Slayer soul," I said. "Haven't found a way to test that yet, Wesley's still working on it, but I'm pretty certain it's correct."

"Maybe it's something to do with Toni," Connor suggested.

"Like what?" I asked pointedly. "The only connection is that they have the same bug."

"Why don't I have it then?" asked Connor. "Why don't Cordy and Wesley? We've all been in contact with Mirany while she was still a carrier. What if this bug's a little more focused?"

"On Mirany?"

"No. Toni."

I closed my eyes, massaging my temples.

"I don't understand."

"Okay, say someone wants Toni to get sick, for some reason or another, doesn't really matter at this point. Toni and Mirany are connected, somehow, probably through their souls. Mirany get's Toni's illness because of this."

"How does that relate to Maia wanting to rip my head off?"

Connor paused, thinking.

"Alright," he said eventually. "Because the sickness was aimed for Toni, we can assume that however it was brought about, they needed something of Toni's, like a hair or some sort of DNA. Mirany gets the bug, she carries a bit of Toni with her. Maia senses the innocence, that pure weakness, and gets protective."

"As strange as that sounds because I can't think of a person on this planet that would want to harm Ton in any way, shape or form, that actually makes sense and is kinda smart," I said.

"Well, I do go to Stanford," said Connor, smirking.

I rolled my eyes.

"Okay, so assuming that this illness, for whatever reason, is supernatural of some kind, how do we fix it, because I gotta tell you, I haven't been sick in two-hundred years, and I don't enjoy this feeling," I said fervently.

Connor considered me.

"Go to the source," he said. "Toni."

...

"Toni! Some of Mirany's friends are here to see you! Where's the bitch?" asked Saria.

"Under the weather," I said. "She's got a bug. We just wanted to have a quick word with Toni. We want to surprise Mirany with something and thought we might be able to use her help."

"She's seven."

"Exactly. She has imagination. We are imaginationed out," said Connor fervently.

"Who are you again?" asked Saria.

"My brother. Sorry, he's an idiot," I said.

"Angel!"

Toni ran down the stairs and I scooped her up, swinging her around before placing her back on the ground, giggling.

"Hey Toni," I said. "This is Connor. We just wanted to have a little talk with you."

"Where's Mirany?"

"She's not feeling very well," I said.

"Toni, why don't you take Angel and Connor into the living room and I'll be there in a few minutes?" asked Saria, already losing interest and fiddling with her phone.

"Okay!"

Toni took my hand and I trailed after her into the living room. It was just as marble white as the rest of the mansion, and filled with red and gold couches and waxed red oak coffee tables. The entire Overwood mansion reminded me far too much of a medical ward. A really big, comfortable medical ward, but a medical ward all the same. It was all too white and pristine. Everything was completely spotless all the time, and it just didn't feel truly lived in. Except Toni's room. Toni's room was one big splash of pink and purple and white and couldn't have contrasted more with the rest of the mansion. It was always messy and just had that air of fun to it. But step outside her room and suddenly you feel like you need to completely decontaminate your entire body and walk on tiptoe and not say a word. It was one of those big empty mansions that wasn't empty.

"Mirany said you had been feeling a bit sick as well," I said.

"I have a cold," said Toni, pouting slightly. "Mummy says I can't go outside and play until I'm better."

"That's too bad," said Connor. "Before you were sick, did you play with anyone special?"

"Umm...Mirany...and...Tommy...and...Mitch!" said Toni. "Do you wanna play a game?"

"Sure," I said. "Who's Mitch?"

"Mitch is funny," said Toni, handing me an armful of bears and other colourful stuffed animals. "He makes funny voices."

"I see," I said, raising an eyebrow at Connor. "He sounds funny."

Connor shrugged slightly, looking completely lost. Toni was looking at me expectantly.

"You're supposed to be playing," she said accusingly.

"Oh, sorry. What are we playing?" I asked.

As Toni began to talk me through the instructions of her game, Saria came back in.

"Sorry. Have you said what you needed to say? Only Toni's a little sick as well and I don't need her to be too excited. She doesn't seem to be getting any better."

"Oh, I think we're done," said Connor. "Just, one thing. She keeps talking about a 'Mitch'. I think I've heard Mirany talk about him. Who is he?"

"Mitchell? He's a business partner. He does some small trade with me. It doesn't surprise me that he trades with Mirany too. He's not really one to take sides."

"Sides?" I asked, looking up from Toni's toys.

"Don't you know? We're each other's number one competitors," said Saria.

"In life and in business," I muttered.

"Nobody said we had to be civil," said Saria coolly. "Look, Toni really does just need some quiet time so I think you should leave."

"Oh, of course," I said quickly, abandoning the toys at once and ruffling the girl's hair. "See you later Toni. Get better."

"Mitch," Connor muttered in my ear.

"Yeah, I'm on it."

...

"Where's Queen Yellsalot?" asked Jason as one of Mirany's staff keyed me into the lab.

"Sick," I said. I was noticing a pattern in Mirany's friends. None of them seemed to know her name. "I was wondering if you could help her."

"I'm a scientist, not a doctor," said Jason.

"I understand," I said quickly. "I don't need you to prescribe her anything, but it would be nice to know what it is that she has."

"I'll need blood."

I held up a vial.

"Of course you have that already," Jason muttered. "You're really quite disturbing, you know that son?"

"It has come up in conversation before, yeah," I said, ignoring his 'son'. To him I did look young enough. He had to be nearing his late forties. I was stuck on 21. "I don't deny it. I know I'm strange."

"Yeah, I said disturbing, not strange," said Jason, taking the vial from me. "Give me your number and I'll see what I can do."

...

"Hey."

Mirany was fast asleep, her head resting on Maia's belly. The dog in question was lying curled around Mirany, glaring silently at me. I scratched her ears as I shook Mirany gently awake. Maia noted my touching Mirany with a short growl, but then contented herself in rubbing up into my hand. Mirany groaned as she woke up and took a few moments to focus on me. She was still wolfy, and was in an even worse condition than she had been. I could feel the beginnings of a headache, and I knew that if I could feel it, Mirany's headache had to be seriously bad. I was more shaky than before, so it didn't surprise me that when Mirany tried to sit up, she failed miserably and collapsed back down onto her dog, who licked at her face gently.

"How do you feel?" I asked.

"Like I had fifty vodka shots last night and now I'm being hit by the hangover," Mirany muttered.

"I need to ask you something."

"Better do it soon before the delirium sets in," Mirany groaned. "I truly hate being sick."

"Everybody does," I said. "Do you know a Mitchell at all? Deals in small trade, and, as far as Toni's concerned, is really funny."

"Mitchell Hineman. He trades for me and Saria. He doesn't take sides. Which is unfortunate because he's amazing. He came round the same day I was with Toni. We sort of...ganged up on her a little."

"The same day?"

"Yeah. A week or two ago, before either of us were sick. Why?"

"Just wondering."

"Wait, did you say you talked to Toni?" asked Mirany. "Is she alright?"

"She's doing better than you," I said.

"Of course she is," Mirany yawned sarcastically.

"Go back to sleep hon. I shouldn't have woken you," I said, brushing her forehead.

Maia growled slightly. Mirany whacked her face lightly.

"Stop it Maia. What's gotten into you?"

Maia growled again before placing her head on her paws and settling with glaring at me.

"Keep up the good work," I told the dog as I moved away. "Someone's gotta protect her while I'm away."

...

"I think we need to rethink," I told Connor. "Something's not right. If Toni was the target, why is Mirany so sick while Toni's only a little sick? It doesn't make sense."

"Um...adults react differently?" Connor guessed.

"Not if it's supernatural. It wouldn't work like that. Mirany said that she and this guy were playing with Toni on the same day. Could he have gotten the wrong DNA?"

"It's possible. Taking a hair off someone's clothes doesn't necessarily guarantee that it's their hair," said Connor. "But then, isn't it more likely that the target was Mirany and it's Toni that caught it from her?"

"That doesn't explain Maia's reaction to me."

"Oh right."

"We need to find Mitch," I said. "Simple as that. Doesn't matter who the target was, just who chose the target."

"Mirany?"

"No, don't want to disturb her."

"Saria?"

"Won't talk to us."

"Toni?"

"Gotta talk to Saria."

"You're not helping," said Connor.

"I have his name, maybe we can look him up."

"Well you could've said so," said Connor exasperatedly, turning on the computer.

"Mitchell Hineman," I told him as my phone rang. "Just a sec. Angel."

"Angel. Jason here."

"That was fast," I commented.

"Yeah well, when there's no disease in the blood, it's pretty easy," said Jason pointedly.

"What? Nothing?"

"Not a thing. Is this some sort of test that Mirany's running. Trying to see whether I'm still up to scratch or something?"

"No, Jason, go up and see her, she's seriously ill. How can here not be anything in the blood?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, but might I suggest that it's got something to do with the supernatural? After all, isn't it always supernatural when it involves you lot?"

"You know about the supernatural?"

"Angel, I have three doctorates. One of them is pure chemistry, one of them is pure biology, and one of them is demonology. I know my stuff."

"Then, do you think you could point us in some sort of direction here?"

"Definitely a spell. If it were demon, there would be some trace of it in the blood. There's nothing in here but your usual wolfed out, human DNA."

"Right. Well, thanks."

Connor looked up at me.

"So?"

"He reckons it's definitely a spell," I said, leaning over him to watch the computer screen. "That him?"

The man on the screen was older, maybe fifty, with salt and pepper hair and a gently aged face. He had startlingly green eyes and looked fairly well off as far as small-traders went.

"I reckon so. We gonna pay him a visit?"

"Absolutely."

...

"Consultation hours are between ten and four every other Tuesday. Come back then."

"We're representatives of Mirany Hunter's," I said to the receptionist.

"They say they're representatives of Mirany Hunter's," said the girl into the intercom.

There was a pause.

"Send them in."

"Well if that doesn't prove she's influential, what does?" asked Connor in my ear.

"The fact that she got you into Stanford."

"...That works too," said Connor, opening the door.

Hineman was sitting at a huge mahogany desk, smiling, somewhat sadistically, at us as we entered. He looked less like a trader, more like a lawyer.

"How can I help you?" he asked. "What does Mirany need today?"

"For you to tell us why you cast a spell on Toni Overwood," I said.

The smile slid of his face like quicksand.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

"I have to wonder, what did you think you would gain, making a little kid sick?" I asked. "And in turn, making Mirany sick. Do you know what Mirany will do to you if she finds out that you're the one that cast the spell to make her bed ridden?"

I winced.

"That's not gonna be pretty."

"Oh, remember the time she hung that guy upside down from the flagpole down the road?" asked Connor.

"Oh yeah. And that time she hooked up that guy to the car battery?" I asked.

Connor chuckled.

"That was such a classic."

Hineman was turning very pale.

"Look, I never meant for her to get sick," he said quickly. "It was supposed to be the girl that was bed ridden. I needed Overwood preoccupied for a few days. I thought the spell was just for the girl. I even got her DNA. How did Hunter get sick?"

"Doesn't matter," I said. "What matters now is whether or not you're smart enough to reverse the spell."

"And if you're not smart enough...well..."

Connor rolled up his sleeve to reveal the knife he had holstered at his wrist.

"...you might wish had Mirany had gotten to you instead," he finished.

Hineman stared from him to me, before getting to his feet and pulling a book from his drawer.

"Everything you need is in here," he said shakily.

"No, Mitch, you don't understand," I said. "We want you to reverse it."

"But I didn't ever perform the spell!"

Connor and I stared at him.

"What?" I demanded.

"I was just told to get the ingredients and the spell and he'd do it all for me. He said we'd both benefit. The whole thing wasn't even my idea. It just worked for me as well. It was his idea."

"Who?" asked Connor.

Hineman swallowed.

"Who was it?" I growled, grabbing hold of his collar.

"Andrew Walter."

...

"So now we have to look up this other guy?"

"Well, we need to look up where he lives, but I already know him," I said. "He should fold pretty easily. Nice idea, the flagpole thing."

"Your car battery was better."

"Well...I might have used it before," I said, avoiding his gaze.

"Of course you did," Connor muttered. "Why don't I go there myself? You should go look after Mirany."

"Maia won't let me anywhere near her," I sighed.

"I'll go then. I can stay with her, and you're probably more threatening than I am anyway," said Connor. "Just drop me off."

"Alright. You'll call if anything drastically changes right?"

"Course."

...

CONNOR

Mirany was asleep when I entered her bedroom, face buried in Maia's fur, hugging the dog close to her. Maia looked up as I came in and growled for a moment as she tried to figure out if I was friend or foe, before seemingly becoming content and laying back down.

"How is she?" I asked the dog, sitting down on the other side of Mirany's bed.

The dog nuzzled into Mirany's head.

"That bad huh?" I asked.

...

ANGEL

"Am I interrupting something?"

Walter looked up, startled, from the candles he was chanting over.

"Tell me Andrew, do you value your life?" I asked.

"I know you."

"Yeah. I'm Mirany Hunter's protector. You pulled quite the scam, didn't you? Bet you didn't realise you'd make the kid sick too. What happened Andrew? Mirany turn down one of your offers? Were you sick of being trodden on by some stupid girl who's only in the business for the cruel amusement of ruining other people's lives?"

"What kid?" Walter growled.

"Toni," I said. "Yeah, you didn't see that coming, did you? See, Mirany and Toni are connected. You do something to one of them, the other gets affected, not as severely, but still affected. When Hineman came to you, you thought he was talking about Mirany as well. You thought, 'hey, I can frame this fool and finally get one over on Hunter at the same time'. Well guess what? I'm not putting up with it. So you better bloody well reverse it, or I'll have to take the more direct approach."

Walter glared at me.

"Andrew, this is one of those situations when you should really move fast if you don't want to be dismembered," I growled.

...

CONNOR

"Mmm...Angel?"

I looked over at Mirany as she woke up.

"No. Connor," I said quietly.

"Oh. Hey Connor."

"Hey," I said, smiling slightly. "How do you feel?"

"Bad," Mirany groaned.

Maia shifted slightly to allow me to shuffle closer to Mirany, who laid her head in my lap. She was boiling.

"Oh man Mirany. You're really hot," I said worriedly. "Do you want a drink or something?"

"I'm alright," Mirany sighed. "What are you doing here?"

"I was worried," I said. "I sent Angel off to do the threatening and I stayed here."

"Oh. That's really sweet. And kinda gay."

"I'm not gay."

Mirany chuckled slightly.

"You must be getting tired of taking care of me when I'm sick," she said.

"Hey, you're not dying this time," I said, shrugging. "I figure I can deal."

"What? Not as needy?" Mirany asked.

"Don't care as much," I said, smirking.

"Of course not," Mirany muttered, scowling.

"Aww, you're alright. The only reason you're so dramatic is because your dog's encouraging you," I said.

"I'm sick, I'm allowed to be dramatic."

"Yeah well- Hey, you're not hot any more."

Mirany blinked and shook her head.

"My headache's gone. I'm not shaky."

I grinned.

"He fixed it. Angel got him to reverse the spell."

"Who put this spell on me?" Mirany growled.

"Is it really a good idea to tell you that?" I asked. "Aren't you kinda likely to kill him?"

Mirany considered me.

"You're probably right," she said, biting her lip. "But tell me anyway."

...

ANGEL

"Where's Mirany?"

"Cutting off Andrew's testicles," said Connor, shrugging. "I thought it was probably one of those things she could alone."

I smirked.

"So?" asked Connor. "What was it?"

"He didn't like Mirany. Plain and simple. Just wanted to...make her remember that she was human too. Little ironic."

"Yeah, since she's actually not," Connor muttered. "But that doesn't explain Maia. If he was really after Mirany, why did Maia do that?"

"Maybe because of the spell," I suggested. "She sensed it. That same sort of weakness you were talking about but not because of Toni, just because of this spell. It made her weak and Maia didn't like it."

"Plausible," said Connor. "That would explain why she hung around even when you were gone."

Connor scrutinized me.

"You don't think so?" he asked.

"I think to a point, that's what it was," I said. "But I think there's something else too. I just don't know what. Maybe because they're getting closer, their souls are starting to meld or something? I'm sure there's something of Toni in Mirany now. Something that was brought forwards because of the spell, so Maia got a hold of it."

"How do you plan on figuring out what it is?" asked Connor.

I sighed.

"Wait," I said, "till it becomes so pronounced that everyone else can see it as well."

"That could end kinda bad," said Connor.

"Yeah, well, I don't have any other choice. There's nothing I can do about it until I know what it is and I'm not going to tie her up and dissect her to try to find out what."

"Good call."

...

"So. You and I need to have a talk."

I looked down at Mirany, who was sitting cross-legged on the floor, stroking Maia.

"What did I do?" I asked.

Mirany raised an eyebrow at me as she rubbed Maia's cheeks.

"Not you," she said.

"Oh. So you and your dog are going to have a talk?" I asked.

"Yes," said Mirany simply.

"Okay then," I muttered. "Well, don't let me keep you two."

"You need to apologise to Angel," Mirany told the dog, touching noses with her. "You haven't been treating him very nicely at all."

Maia made some sort of groaning noise in her throat, most likely an objection to her face being squashed.

"We don't growl at people who has done nothing wrong," Mirany said seriously. "Angel was trying to help."

"Mirany, really, I don't need your dog to apologise to me," I said, smirking.

"Nonsense, of course you do," said Mirany simply, patting Maia's side.

Maia slunk up to me and nuzzled my leg.

"Look at that. I did not expect that to work," said Mirany. "Good girl."

"She's crazy, isn't she?" I asked the dog. "Talking to a dog."

Mirany grinned and climbed up onto the couch beside me, lying down with her head in my lap.

"Can I ask you something?"

"No," said Mirany simply.

I smiled slightly.

"You don't want to hear it?"

"When people precede a question by saying that they need to ask a question, it's going to be big and a difficult decision to make, so I don't want to hear it."

"You don't think that sometimes you have to make difficult decisions?" I asked.

"I have. Most recently I had a choice between staying with you or not," said Mirany. "I don't need any more. So if I can avoid them, I do."

"Humor me," I said.

Mirany sighed.

"The moment you open your mouth, I'm going to have to make some sort of choice. Can't we just stick with post-'adventure' happiness?"

"No."

Mirany scowled.

"Fine," she said curtly. "What is it?"

"Do you ever think about getting married, settling down, having kids?" I asked. "Just...leaving this whole thing behind?"

Mirany ran a hand over her face and through her hair.

"Angel, please don't go there," she whispered. "Please."

"Why not?"

"Because that was exactly what I gave up, choosing you," said Mirany, turning onto her side to avoid looking at me.

...

MIRANY

He went there. Of course he went there. Two hundred plus years, eventually you had to start thinking about retiring from a life of fighting evil. And of course it was now. We'd both been spending time with Toni, he'd just spent the past few days looking after me. Connor was going off to college, was finding a way to get out of just hunting all the time. Angel was in 'father' mode. Until Toni, I hadn't even considered kids, maybe a normal life. But Toni and that one day in the life of 'normal Mirany' had made me a little...more inclined towards the idea. But I had given it up. I had chosen Angel over that life.

I felt Angel's hand ghost over my cheek before he cupped my face and turned it up until I had to close my eyes tight to avoid looking at him.

"Mirany."

"I can't talk about this Angel, I can't."

"Why not Mirany? We're just talking."

I sat up, back to him.

"Because I don't want to change my mind," I said quietly.

Angel's arms wrapped tightly around me.

"We don't have to," he whispered in my ear. "I was just...thinking."

"Why? Thinking never leads to anything good," I said, relaxing into his touch. That was not a smart idea.

I knew when Angel sensed me let down my barriers because a moment later I felt him in my head. I shuddered slightly and tried to put my defenses back up but it was too late.

"Angel, you bastard, you don't want to know!"

"Yes I do."

Well if that was the case...If he really wanted to know what I was thinking, what I had been thinking for months, that was his problem. Let him deal with it. At least I didn't have to voice it. It took him a total of five seconds before his grip around me loosened and he pulled away slightly. I got to my feet and stepped out of his reach, turning to look at him, somewhat pleadingly.

"I did warn you," I said.

Angel was staring at a spot on the floor near his feet. It took a moment for him to reply.

"I didn't realise how much you hated you decision," he said, looking up at me with a sort of accusing yet vulnerable stare. "How much you wished you had chosen Connor."

"Angel, I...it doesn't mean I don't love you," I said timidly.

"Forget it," he said shortly, leaving without another word.

"Angel..."

Nothing. He was gone.

"...You only saw the bad," I finished quietly.