She doesn't look directly into his eyes, and at first he's annoyed by that. He's hardly a talker and even less so a sharer, and his halting descriptions of the hell dimension are taking a lot out of him. But she doesn't meet his eyes, doesn't acknowledge his words, and he's going to give up and make an excuse to leave when she finally speaks.

"I was in heaven," she whispers, and he feels like an idiot for not realizing it before. Of course she was. She's good and pure, and the Powers would never have let her be punished like he had been, like he'd deserved.

And suddenly he can't identify at all, and there's an awkward silence. He'll never know heaven. Buffy…she's something greater now, ethereal, separated from this mortal plane and so far beyond him that he can never sully her with a demon's touch, can only love her from beneath this new pedestal.

"Don't look at me like that," she says, turning away again.

"Like what?"

"Like I'm…" She flushes.

"An angel," he finishes, and there's a wry smile in his tone. "But you are, aren't you?"

"I'm nothing," she murmurs, and then she's kissing him to her, harder and more desperate than ever before, seeking something in his kisses he can't quite grasp.

Something he's certain will destroy her.

He gently disengages himself from her grasp, and his heart aches to see the blank look on her face, the disappointment at her failure to find whatever she's longing for. But he remains strong. He's left her once before for her own good, and now he knows that he has no choice but to do it again.

He leans over to brush a soft kiss against her forehead. "Call me if you need me," he says softly, but it doesn't lessen the hurt he's feeling and the naked emptiness on her face. "I'm going to head back now."

She doesn't say anything as he leaves, and he swallows the usual declaration of love.

Love, he senses, is the last thing she needs right now.