A/N Hello to those of you reading this because you have author alerts turned on... Also, hello to all of you reading this because you stumbled on it and thought it looked interesting. You all rock my world. I just wanted to apologise to the people waiting for the conclusion of Turn the Hourglass Over. I've been working on my novel for a while with only a few short forays back into Buffy-dom. This little one shot has been written for ages and aeons. It started as a request for somebody whose name I lost when my old PMs disappeared in a puff of upgrades. I apologise for the lack of credit; if it was your request, PM me, and I'll update this.
I just wanted to update to remind you I'm still breathing and that Hourglass won't be on hiatus forever. I hope you enjoy this very different little one-shot.
I still haven't started writing fan fiction because I'm bored of cashing cheques for my Buffy-related day job.
Angel started at the sound of Buffy's voice. The tone was right, but the rhythm was off; her usually rapid-fire speech given way to a slow, lazy drawl. He turned to the door she leaned against, watching in fascination as she stood and began to stroll across the room to him. Her strength and energy were gone, replace by a menacing feline grace. This creature looked like his beloved, but she exuded an air of lethal power that broke his heart. "What are you doing here?" he asked, his voice harsh.
"Not quite the greeting I'd hoped for, Angel." Buffy chastised him, absently running the fingers of her right hand across the tight leather of her pants, as though enjoying the feel of the slick material under her hands.
Angel tried not to think about how enticing she looked in the tight pants and the green shirt with far more buttons open than done up. "You killed Willow," he said, desperately trying to take his mind off the raw sensuality of the fledgling vampire.
Buffy shrugged, "Would you believe she was trying to restore my soul? I caught her orb-of-Thessla-handed."
"You should have let her. Everything would be different."
"Everything is different."
"We could have had forever, Buffy. This isn't what I'd have chosen for you, for us, but we could have faced it together."
"We still can, you know," Buffy pointed out, assuming an innocent expression, looking almost like the girl she'd once been.
"I can't live with what you've become. You wouldn't want me to, if you were still the woman I fell in love with."
Buffy dropped the expression of innocence, her eyes narrowing again in that feline expression Angel already disliked. "I had a feeling you'd probably say that, so I came armed with a back-up plan."
"We fight, of course. One of us wins, one of us dies."
Angel shook his head, "I know vampires, Buffy. I have a lot more experience than you do, remember? None of us are that willing to throw away immortality."
"Yeah, but most of us don't have ex-boyfriends that fight for The Powers, either. As long as you're alive, well, not alive per se… Does it take a long time to get over that figure of speech? Anyway, as long as you're moving, I'll just be waiting for you to try to end me anyway, so let's just see how it's going to play out now. I dust you, and there's not much else on this planet I have to worry about. You dust me, it'll destroy you, and I kind of win then, too."
"And if I refuse?" Angel asked, dropping into a chair, knowing she was right.
"You know how I never really got a say in anything between us when I was alive? That changed when I died. You don't get a say in how this goes, or I'll start with Wesley and just work my way through the payroll until you come around."
"You want a fight?" Angel rose, closing the distance between them. "Fine, let's go."
Buffy looked at him with a bored expression, and smile, "Slow down, lover. This is a big night for one of us. No need to rush." She brushed past him to the stocked mini-bar, and took stock of its contents. "Is it tacky to use blood for a toast?" she asked him, taking out two glasses and pouring a measure into each, "I mean, it seems odd to not use booze, but I've been hungry since I woke up."
"It fades." Angel told her soberly, his fury ebbing. "The hunger, I mean. It gets better."
"Thank god," she told him offering him a glass, with a sultry smile. "I don't want to be some sort of an undead bloodaholic."
Angel took his glass, staring into its depths as though it could give him the answers he wanted so badly. Wasn't there some way to tame the fledgling before him, to bind her to him? Willow had been his only hope, and it had died alongside the red-haired witch. "What are we drinking to?"
"All the moments we shared that brought us to this one." She trailed a finger up his arm, enjoying the shudder of his skin beneath her touch.
"To shared moments," he agreed, tossing the blood back in one long swallow.
Almost immediately, his vision began to sway, and blur. He sank to his knees, unable to keep his feet, and his eyes fluttered shut as he toppled over onto his side. In the last bare moments of consciousness, he heard Buffy speak, but the sound was distorted, as though she were on the other end of a bad transatlantic connection.
"Goodnight, lover," she told him, smiling ferally as sleep claimed him.
"Angel? Oh, god, Angel, you have to wake up?" he heard her before he saw her, and when he was able to force his eyes open, his heart soared.
"Buffy?" he rasped, trying to hold onto his slippery thoughts. "But, you're dead," he managed before the idea was lost to him.
Buffy widened her eyes, "No, I'm not. Xander and Willow didn't lie, or anything. They really thought I was dead, but there's still plenty of Energizer in this bunny." She rolled her eyes and smiled, the innocent girl he remembered. "I came here as soon as they told me they told you," she continued, "'Cause I knew you'd be all broody about it. Didn't expect to find you with a couple bottles of whiskey under your belt, though. I thought that was Spike's domain."
"You're alive?" he asked, feeling broken and confused, and admittedly drunk. Before she could answer, he grabbed her, and pulled her to him, crushing his mouth against hers.
"Yes," she spoke between kisses, "I'm alive. I'm here, and I'm never letting you leave my side again."
"I have no intention of it," he smiled at her, winding his arms around her waist and pulling her closer, so they were pressed together. She fit into his arms so perfectly, and he smiled against her mouth, rolling so that she lay beneath him.
He didn't know if minutes had past, or hours since he'd started kissing her, but their clothes had fallen away, and it seemed like there was a choice to make, but he couldn't remember it, and then, at her urging, they were one.
Bliss overtook him as Buffy, his Buffy, writhed beneath him, gasping against his mouth, a stream of words more beautiful than any poetry falling from her lips, "I love you, Angel. I've never really loved anybody else. I never will."
The words, the sight of his beloved, the relief that the past few days had been nothing more than a nightmare… It filled his heart with hope, until it was so full it felt like it would burst. He shuddered his release, happier than he could ever remember being, and rolled onto his back, cradling her head against his chest, and stroking her hair as the haze reclaimed him.
It was like a knife, like a thousand of them, ripping through his soul. Funny how clearly he could feel every corner of it when it was being ripped away, and he gasped against the pain as he staggered to his feet. "Buffy?" he gasped, turning to see her sprawled lazily in his bed, her fingers running absently over the length of her thigh.
"Don't fight it Angel," she told him, her green eyes glittering in triumph, "it'll all be over soon."
"Dead as a doornail. Common ground… Finally." She held out an arm, "Come back to bed, and I'll kiss it and make it all better. Then, you can kiss me and make everything all better."
He looked at her in horror, but a tiny part of him was relieved, you wanted to be together forever, in chided him, you should have been more specific.
With a groan of agony, he fell onto the bed. "You know, I should probably thank you for that, but I'm still kind of pissed off that you drugged me," Angelus raised his head, a smile playing on his lips, "And don't think you won't be paying for that little act for a very long time."
Buffy snorted, "Oh, please. That 'little act' was the last chance you had to ditch the soul this century, and probably the next. You'll be paying me back for a very long time."
"I'd offer you my firstborn son, but I already killed him, and you killed my only grandchilde." Angelus told her, busying himself with biting a trail across Buffy's collarbone.
"Spike was trying to keep me from killing Willow, and the last thing I wanted was to spend an eternity brooding with Angel," she gasped in pain, as Angelus's hand tightened in her hair, pulling her head back, forcing her to look into his eyes.
"That's the last time his name crosses your lips," he told her roughly. "And you will show respect for Spike's memory. He was twice the vampire you are, up until he met you."
Buffy smiled, as he let go of her hair, and settled back onto the pillows, a feline smile curling her lips, "Give me a few days, and Spike won't be a memory. Didn't I tell you? We're getting the band back together."
"The band?" Angel asked her, wondering if he'd gotten stuck with another psychotic playmate, only this time without the pleasure of breaking her first.
"You know, the Blues Brothers? We're on a mission from God?" she tried again, but gave up at his blank look, "Fine. We're raising Spike, and I have a bead on Dru. We might even raise Darla if I'm feeling particularly malicious that day. I always hated her, and watching her play fifth wheel might be fun."
"And you think it will be that simple?" he asked her.
"Not a chance. Spike will try to seduce me away from you, Darla will try every way in the world to have me dusted, and Drusilla will be comic relief, except when you're using her to make me jealous, or she's trying to get us all killed by a torch-wielding mob. Sounds fun, doesn't it?"
"Sounds like you've put some thought into this little plan."
"Not really, except for stealing the scroll with the un-dusting spell. I'm just following my instincts." She told him, running her fingernails roughly across his side.
"Good instincts," he approved.
"Maybe not. My instincts are also telling me to hunt the Slayers."
"You and Spike have fun with that. I've done the Slayer thing. You might remember some of it." Angelus gave her a wicked smile.
"I might be a little foggy on that," she told him. "You want to refresh my memory?"
"Sure," he purred into her ear, making her shiver, while ever-moving hands danced across her skin, "but you know what works really good for that?"
"What?" she whimpered.
Angelus gave her a smile that must have been the birthplace of sin, and Buffy shivered with anticipation. He drew the moment out, skillfully, until he knew she was aching to hear his suggestion. It wasn't the only pain he had planned for the evening, and he thought he might even let her enjoy some of it.
Without breaking eye contact, he began to reach for the top drawer of his nightstand. "Handcuffs."