Title: Blood To Dust

Email: thegoldoneb_a@hotmail.com

Author: Goldy

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss. I'm just doing better things with them for the time being. Or sort of anyway...

Timeline: After "The Body" and "The Epiphany" with slightly different endings. But this is a nice B/A fic. Or, will be, at least…

Feedback: oh please, please, please?

Author's notes: This is a re-write of a fic that I had written a long time ago that was fairly terrible. The feedback I got on it had been mostly negative. Going over it almost a year later, I quickly saw why. Despite being completely unbelievable, it was also badly written. So this is the re- do. Only the first page and a half is the same (with corrections) and the title.

Dedication: To trammie, cause it was her review that made me go 'Gee, Angel would NEVER do that. Hum, I wonder if maybe it would be a good idea to re- write this…'

Rating: PG13



As Buffy stood outside the entrance to the old hotel where Angel now lived, she vaguely wondered why she was there. Or perhaps maybe she did really know why she was there. Maybe it was all part of the big plan, the grand scheme of things. Or maybe there was no such thing as destiny and no big plan. Maybe the point of life was just to wait until the next one.

In any case, she didn't reflect on it too much. She didn't really reflect on anything anymore. The constant ache and hurt that forever gnawed its head in her stomach saw to that. She just knew she was here. Knew that he was inside waiting for her.

Him. Angel. Her Angel. She could feel him just as well as she ever could.

Buffy didn't know how long she'd been standing outside where he lived. She knew that it had been a while, and that at some point she would have to go in or leave. Except she didn't know where she would leave to. Home? Home wasn't really an option anymore. First her mother died by a cause that Buffy couldn't fight and couldn't understand. Then her sister was killed- was a meal- for a newborn vampire that Buffy didn't know about and couldn't stop.

Wasn't it ironic that her not-real-sister had died right beside her dead mother?

She'd ended up in car and had driven off into the night before anyone could stop her. She hadn't known where she was going until she got there, and even then she wasn't surprised. Anyway, she reasoned, wasn't Angel supposed to help the hopeless anyway?

She was definitely fairly hopeless at this point.

After a moment's hesitation, Buffy opened the door and walked in. The place reminded her of Angel in every way: dark, dank, and depressing. To Buffy, it was familiar and brought back memories of happier times.

He was there, sitting in a chair looking as calm as ever. Looking as if she hadn't been standing outside waiting for what seemed like an eternity. She realized now that she had been standing outside for so long waiting for him. She wanted to be shown that love still existed, and there was a reason for her to keep on going.

His calmness was infuriating. 'Move damn it, say something', she thought hysterically. Of course, he made no move to do or say anything.

"Angel," she finally whispered, holding back her tears.

He stood. He looked in her eyes and for the first time she saw the pain and loneliness that he was going through. Her heart broke for both of them. Was there ever a release form this world? Would she ever feel happy again?

"Buffy?" Angel got out his voice cracking slightly.

"Yeah. Hi?" she said.

He made no response to that. Just looked at her quizzically. He didn't even bother to ask what she was doing here. In fact, he didn't even seem to really care. Well, she wasn't going to accept that. Angel was going to hear her out one way or another.

"Whatever happened to helping the hopeless?" she asked trying not to show how hurt she really was.

Angel gave a short bitter laugh that chilled Buffy to the bone. She had never heard him laugh like that. "What's the point? No one really cares what we do, so why bother?"

She had no response to that. Frankly, she didn't know anymore. Why bother? Good question. Also one she had no answer to. In fact, she was tired of fighting. Fighting the darkness. She didn't even know the true extent of the darkness.

Dracula had said that she too, had a taste for blood like the vampires she sought out and killed night after night. Spike had said that all slayers had a death wish, even her. She had pretended not to believe it for so long… but now she wasn't sure. She wanted the man in front of her to change that so badly. She wanted him to give her a reason to go on living.

Carefully, and ever so slowly, she walked up to him until they were but centimeters apart.

Turning her head, she gave him a clear view of her neck, making her intention very clear.

Angel stared at her neck for a few minutes, seeming entranced by it. Then, as if coming back to himself, he raised his head and looked her straight in the eye, his gaze questioning.

Buffy shrugged and a small smile played across her lips. "You said it yourself, there's no point in fighting it."

Angel let out a deep bitter chuckle, and turned away from her. Calmly, he sat down in his chair again, his hands folded across his lap, watching her wearily. "If you're from Wolfram & Hart go away. Whatever you're doing won't work."

Buffy flinched, hurt at being rejected. "Whose Wolfram & Hart?"

"If you were really Buffy, *nothing* would have made you beg me to turn you into a vampire." Satisfied with her bewildered expression, Angel nodded. Purposely, he ignored the feeling in his gut that screamed his soulmate was only meters away from him. All he could think was that the world was put out to get him.

Taking a trembling step forward, Buffy managed to glare down at him. "Yeah, *nothing* would make me beg you to turn you? Obviously, you don't know me as well as you'd like to think."

Angel shook his head. "I know, Buffy. She was bright and pure. Even after everything that had been done to her, she was still good. I destroyed her, hurt her and she still bounced back. She would never give up."

"Maybe I used to be that way," Buffy managed to get out, her words sounding funny to her ears. "Maybe I used to care." She stared at him straight in the eyes with a challenging gaze that he didn't back away from. "A lot of things have happened since you left, Angel. How would you know if things got so bad that I began to think death was the only escape?"

Pausing, Angel thought a minute. "I wouldn't," he finally admitted.

Eyes flashing, Buffy hissed, "No you wouldn't. Because, god knows, it's so hard to pick up a phone nowadays."

Angel looked pained. "Go away, you're not her."

"Yes, I am!" Buffy cried in frustration. Lowering her voice, she felt tears prick in her eyes. "You know it's me. You do. You're just ignoring the feeling."

Swallowing hard, Angel closed his eyes. He did feel, he did know it was her. "What are you doing here?" he finally asked.

Buffy shook her head, turning towards the door. "It doesn't matter."

Angel sighed as he watched her walk away. "Buffy… stop."

She turned without any enthusiasm. "You're not Angel," she whispered. "The Angel that I knew would have helped me without thinking about it. He would have done anything for me. He wouldn't tell me to stop just because somewhere inside him he felt it was his duty to."

Angel looked away from her, feeling the first resemblance of guilt at her words. "Look, the past months haven't exactly been a picnic for me, either."

"So?" Buffy yelled. "That gives you the right to treat me like I'm nothing?"

"I didn't ask you to come here!" Angel shouted. "I don't want you to whine about how your boyfriend dumped you."

Hurt, Buffy recoiled. "How can you say that to me?" she whispered, pain dripping off her words.

Angel groaned and rubbed his hands wearily over his eyes. "You're right. I'm sorry," he apologized, not sounding like he meant it.

Shaking her head in disbelief, Buffy sank to her knees. "What happened to you?"

"Darkness. Pain. Betrayal." Angel answered simply.

Curling smaller onto herself, Buffy continued to shake her head. "I *need* you," she protested, letting him see how vulnerable she was, "I need you so much right now."

Angel didn't say anything, but he stiffened. His soul ached with the pain that she carried, and it begged him to help its mate. "No one needs me," he managed, letting her see part of his pain.

"I need you," Buffy whimpered. "I need your love."

Still in denial Angel shook his head. "No."

"YES!" she shrieked. "I do… I do… please help me Angel."

Buckling under the pain that Buffy was sending off in waves, Angel slid down to the floor and crawled slowly towards her. She began to shake, feeling him come closer to her. "I don't know if I can help you. I don't know if I can help anyone," Angel said, his voice thick with unshed tears.

Crying, Buffy had no more energy left to do anything but nod. Closer, Angel stuck out a hand, gently tucking Buffy's hand in his. He closed his eyes, overwhelmed at what it felt like to hold her tiny hand in his again.

To be able to keep her safe.

His eyes flew open because he knew that he couldn't keep anyone safe. Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn had all died at the hands of those demons, because he hadn't gotten to the house fast enough. Darla had been turned into a vampire because he hadn't been fast enough to stop Drusilla.

How could he help Buffy?

He took his hand away from hers again. "No. I can't keep you safe."

Buffy whimpered at the loss of contact. "I don't care," she said, her voice raw. "I need to touch you."

Angel shook his head and dragged himself further away from her. "I can't…"

"My mom died."

Angel stopped moving and stared at Buffy in shock. She didn't notice him looking at her as her eyes filled with tears and her head began to pound with the memory. Her voice shaky she went on, "I found her on the couch. She was so cold. I didn't… I didn't even start CPR until the meds told me to."

"Buffy…"

Her eyes were wide with fear, and Angel knew that she hadn't heard him. "Later, at the morgue…" choking up, Buffy paused for breath before continuing. "Dawn said she was going to the bathroom. I should have known then, but I was too caught up in my pain." Swallowing, Buffy looked up into Angel's shocked eyes, and took comfort in the pain that he was showing. Pain for her. "She went to see Mom. When I realized… it was too late. A vampire was lying on the table next to her," a loud wail made its way out of Buffy's mouth. "He drained Dawn. I arrived in time to see the last breath of life escape from her. She died next to my mother."

Feeling utterly helpless, Angel moved forward enough until he could pull the trembling girl into his arms. Shaking, he held her and she gripped his arms like he was a lifeline. "Why are they gone and I'm left? Why can't I go too?" she murmured, her face wide showing the pain of her helplessness.

Hugging her close, Angel shook his head, not knowing what to tell her. "Don't leave me," he pleaded, not being able to stop the words.

Buffy managed to give a small weak smile, as she curled again his chest. Relief went through her body, as she accepted the comfort only his embrace could hold. "Do you love me?"

Staring at her, Angel was quiet as he contemplated how to answer her. He knew he loved her. He loved her with every fiber of his being. It was a shock to see her. The long months he had spent chasing Darla had driven a lot of humanity out of him. Buffy had been pushed to a small corner of his mind where she would remain untainted by the cold man he had become.

He didn't want to hurt her now. He didn't want to put her in the danger that seemed to go along with all the people that he loved. But, maybe, she needed him. Holding her in his arms, helped him remember how much he needed love and human contact. Being able to provide the little comfort he could for her, helped him.

Voice strong, Angel didn't answer her question, but told her of his ordeal with Darla. He explained the utter despair that he had felt, and his decision to fire his employees in order to keep them safe. Devoid of emotion, Angel told her about his one night stand with Darla, and his epiphany. His voice only began to crack when he came to the part about having to rescue Cordelia, and how Lindsey had held him up. Tears streamed down his face as when he said that he had been too late to save them… too late to save anyone.

Buffy, too, was crying when he had finished his whole painful story. Holding her tightly, Angel buried his face against her neck and Buffy held him as he cried. Their tears mingled together, as their pain was shared.

"It's not fair," she said, her throat dry and patched, and her nose blocked because of her tears. "We're expected to go out and save the world, while everyone that's important to us is taken away."

Squeezing his eyes shut, Angel didn't answer but continued to feed off the strength that he got from being in her arms. "Angel… I don't know… I don't know what to do anymore," Buffy confessed brokenly. "I can't go on, I can't watch everyone I love go and leave me."

Angel's heart sank, as he realized that she also meant him. She also had to watch him turn his back and leave her. Lifting his head, he looked at her closely. She was still beautiful in only the way that Buffy could be. But her eyes were haggard with dark smudges and swollen from tears. Her face was darker, and she looked older… like the last of her innocence had been drained from her.

With a shaky hand, he gently pushed a lock of her blonde hair behind her ear, watching closely as she closed her eyes, and turned her head to lean into his palm. Despite his pain and grief, Angel still felt a shock at being able to touch her. Betrayal, pain, and darkness may have fallen on their lives, but that hadn't changed the way that Angel felt about the slayer.

His slayer.

"I love you," he whispered, his voice deep and husky, hoarse with emotion and feeling.

Her eyes flew open, and immediately made contact with his. Her eyes filled with tears again, and she moved her forehead against his, still staring deeply into his eyes. "See, I knew that you were still in there somewhere," she murmured, quietly.

Angel rewarded her with a tentative smile. "I need you."

Aware of their less than conventional position on the floor, Buffy backed away from the intimate hold that she and Angel were sharing. Shakily she stood up, and tried not to run back to him when he looked betrayed by her leaving him. Shaking her head, she held out one hand and Angel grasped it in relief. When he stood, she quickly closed the gap between them, and they tumbled into the chair that Angel had been sitting in when Buffy had arrived.

Once they were seated comfortably on the chair, Buffy sitting on top of Angel with her chin tucked neatly under his neck, she started talking. "I love you, too. And all your reasons for leaving don't matter anymore. I just need love. I need to heal… I've never hurt so much, and only *you* can make me feel better."

Nodding Angel closed his eyes and breathed in her pure scent. Even after he had told her all about Darla, she was still here. She wasn't disgusted by what he did, nor mad about his sleeping with her. She understood. She understood his pain. And she helped to lessen it. "I know."

"But, Angel… I'm so scared." Shifting, she turned so she could stare into his face. His face… so filled with pain, haggard almost, but it still held that special glint and love that she knew was only for her. "I can't lose you, either."

"You won't." Holding her close, Angel pressed a kiss to her forehead, then to her nose, and, finally, to her sweet lips. They kissed desperately, reassuring themselves that the other was there. When Angel pulled away, he was breathless even though he didn't need to breathe. "You can't leave me."

Sniffling, Buffy linked her hand behind his head, and pulled him towards her for another sweet kiss. When they parted a ghost of a smile crept across her lips. "There's a reason that it's just a slayer and her watcher. Not the slayer, her watcher, her friends, and her boyfriend."

Fear ignited in Angel's eyes. "Buffy… please… don't do this."

"I'm not," she said quickly. "I don't think I could even if I wanted. I know that *you* can take care of yourself. That won't make me less scared, though, every time we separate." Picking up his hand, she brushed her lips over Angel's knuckles. "Besides, I would worry more if I wasn't here to keep you from falling on a stake."

Relieved, Angel traced the curve of Buffy's mouth. "I sense a but."

Not being able to help herself, Buffy pressed gentle kisses to the tips of each of his fingers. It was so good to feel him after so long, so good to know what it was like to feel love like only they shared. "But I can't go back to Sunnydale. I can't ever see Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, or Giles again. When I'm around them, I only put them in danger. It's our job to help people, not theirs."

Angel nodded in understanding, thinking with a pang of Cordelia, Gunn, and Wesley. "Let's go somewhere," he decided.

"Where?"

"Anywhere. I have money. We can go anywhere we want. I can't stay here anymore. I don't even know if I have the heart left to help anyone… I don't know if I have enough left to fight for redemption."

Although it saddened Buffy to hear Angel talk like that, she knew why. "What about the curse?"

Angel blinked and thought about it, taking in the sweet contours of Buffy's face. Looking her deep in the eye, he regretted the words even before they left his mouth. "I don't think that even you could bring me true happiness now."

Buffy swallowed painfully. She didn't want it to, but the admission stung. "You're right," she finally said thinking of her mom and Dawn. "I don't think that it will be possible for a long time."

Taking both her hands in his, Angel lifted her off the chair and led her towards the door. "Don't bother packing. It's time to start over."

Squeezing his hands, Buffy let one drop so they could walk comfortably around. "Start over," she repeated. "I can do that… with you."

Angel and Buffy walked out of the Hyperion and Angel didn't even give it a backwards glance. "Buffy?"

"Hmmm?"

"I'm really glad that you showed up."

Buffy smiled faintly, and held his hand tighter. She was glad that she came tonight, too. It was time for them to move on together, they had a lot of pain and angst to work through. But they had each other.

They would heal together.

End

A/N: Yeah, so it doesn't mesh with the rest of S5/S2. But it wasn't supposed to. The way I figure it is if Dawn died then Buffy needn't worry about stopping Glory, and if Cordy's dead, Angel can't go to Pylea. Oh, and I know some B/Aers that have been getting some nasty reviews from other ships. I try to make my stories fairly obvious that they're B/A, I don't go around trashing other ships, and I ask for the same consideration. Although, if you leave me a nice review or constructive criticism, I'll love you forever!