Author's Notes: Ok, so this will be the first time I've ever written something that takes place in the comic's timeline. This mainly takes place after the final volume of Season 8, in which Buffy destroys the world's connection to magick. In that comic, Buffy and Angel pretty much had an event that you would think would be on the same scale as him turning in Angelus during Season 2. The comics (from what I've seen of Season 9) haven't really explained what happened between them afterwards, so I figured, what the heck, I'll write something that could have taken place during that period. So, for convenience, this will take place in an AU, and the events of Season 9 haven't happened.
So, this takes place with Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Dawn living in San Francisco after the final battle in the ruins of Sunnydale. Faith is still living in Giles' place in England, and the numerous Slayers from the army have been scattered across the globe again. Angel is just wandering from place to place.
If I get something wrong with what happened during Season 8, please forgive me, I only own the first volume, "The Long Way Home", and I borrowed the rest from the local library, so I don't have them to freely check. I'm at the mercy of what's on the internet. As for Angel Season 6, I'm not entirely caught up on it, so again, forgive me if this goes REALLY off the beaten track.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other Buffyverse characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
The night air of San Francisco was cool to the touch, a slight breeze only adding to the sensations it gave off. As she looked out across the city that had become illuminated with lights, Buffy stood with her hands folded across her chest, the wind whipping up her hair slightly. Everyone else in the apartment was asleep, the sounds of snoring and relaxed breathing echoing out to her ears as she stood on the balcony.
The city itself was a sight to behold, considering that the view from the apartment stretched across the entire city, finally ending with the famous Bay that someone had written about a long time ago. She vaguely recalled hearing the song from her mother at one time, but the melody and much of the words didn't come to her. Closing her eyes for a moment, she pulled the blanket around her shoulders tighter, repressing the urge to shiver from the cold. It was going to get colder, considering what the air was like coming in from the Bay. They had been here for a few months now, and the cold still took some getting used to.
The cold. The sensation of the feeling against her warm skin reminded her of Angel, just as it had for the past few months. Every time she felt something cool against her skin, it brought back memories of what it had felt to be with him again, for that single moment. Words couldn't describe how it had felt to make love to him after so many years of wasted time and fear of Angelus returning. For a single moment, they had been one in the same again, not the Slayer, not the vampire with the Angelic face, but simply two people in love. It had been something they had wanted ever since that night, but had been so afraid to have.
And then things had gone so wrong. Something had taken control of him, made him snap Giles neck in front of her. She had forgiven him, like she had done so many times before for the things he had done to both her and those around her that she loved. Forgiveness had always been such a simple thing to give out for, one of the many things she had been so full of that she had been unable to stop herself. As she had told Faith, she was 'all about forgiveness.' And she would always be like that.
It still hurt, to remember the sound Giles' neck had made when it had snapped, and how his body had hit the floor and refused to move another single inch. It hadn't been the first time she had seen someone close to her die without there being a single thing she could do, but it still hurt, even with all the lessons of pain and loss she had learned over her time on the Earth. It hurt just as bad as when she had walked through the front door and found her mother dead on the couch, her eyes staring blankly into nothing but the ceiling and the space around it. It had hurt because she had lost someone that had been as close to a father to her than she had ever felt before.
She thought for a single moment that maybe she would have learned that the risk of seeing those around her die would always be there, the same way that there was always the risk of dying before she had turned twenty-five. She had died twice before now, and the last time had nearly killed her, emotionally and physically. She could remember what it felt like to look at the world after you had experienced the peace and calm that only Heaven could provide.
She couldn't remember a night when she hadn't dreamed of being with Angel, of finally being able to be with him for the rest of their days. They had been nothing except dreams, but in a way they had comforted her in the darkest of days, in the hours of night where there had been nothing else she had wanted more in the entire world.
As he watched her from his 'perch' on the tree-limb, Angel couldn't help but feel guilty for spying on her like this. He wanted to be next to her, to be able to run his finger along her cheek and be able to smell the scent of her hair. To be next to her and know that single moment of peace and happiness that he longed for every moment of every day. It was something that would never be an obtainable thing, not like what had happened months ago. They had been totally at one, and now that moment lay scattered to the wind just like so many things that had happened between them.
He remembered the day that the Oracles had taken back. There wasn't a day go by that he didn't remember how happy she had been when he had been human. There had been that chance of perfect happiness for them, and in order to save her, he had taken it back. Regrets were something that he felt every day, but he knew that he wouldn't change a single thing when it came to what had happened that day. It had been the happiest day of his life, to feel her body next to him, their two hearts beating as one.
Closing his eyes for the faintest moment, he opened them to find her still where she had been standing for the past hour now. The cold obviously didn't bother her, but he could almost see the goosebumps that ran up and down her skin as a result of it. A memory came to his mind, of when she had stood before him, cold, and he had given her his jacket, in the process exposing a wound that he suffered.
So many years ago, a different time, a different world.
His world had changed so many times now that he had stopped counting or expecting to know when that change would come again. He remembered every single individual thing that had ever come and made an impact on him. Darla siring him, the gypsies restoring his soul, Whistler coming to him, seeing Buffy for that first time walking down the steps of her high school, Darla coming back to him, Hearing that Buffy had sacrificed herself to save the world, Connor being born, Cordelia leaving, Buffy telling him that there still might be a chance for them.
It all came down to her. Just like it always would.
She didn't know why, but she opened her eyes and looked towards one of the closest trees, the leaves and branches of it effectively hidden in the shadows that the night air offered. And yet, she could sense someone else's eyes on her, watching her silently. But it wasn't anything threatening, she would have known the first second she realized someone was watching her. In a way it reminded her of…
As he said her name, the vampire felt a wave of shock flow through his mind. But in a way, he wasn't surprised that she had noticed him. He hadn't been trying to remain hidden, part of him wanted her to see him. They hadn't spoken since that final battle in the ruins of Sunnydale, mainly for the reason of the guilt he had felt for killing Giles. He wasn't surprised that the rest of Buffy's friends had gone into a period of despising him, and he deserved every single shred of it.
But he couldn't stop loving her. It had been that way since he had seen her that single day that she had been called. When the day came to pass that her light was extinguished from the world, he would never know a single moment of joy again. Repressing the urge to sigh, he made his way down from the tree.
"Ok, Angel, come out. You're not hiding from me." She said, her voice echoing out to his ears. Watching the spot where the vampire was perched, she waited, every second that he didn't show himself encouraging her to let the anger inside her boil. To think that after all these years of the two of them being somewhat open with each other, that he would resort to the same trick he had pulled the night she had met him was somewhat laughable.
"How'd you know?" He said, almost instantly appearing on the balcony next to her.
"You're not very good at hiding." She answered, something similar to a chuckle running through her voice as she spoke. "I figured that you would learn that after all these years."
"I figured that I would get better at it." The joke was dry, and as she looked into his eyes, Buffy could see the grief and regret that lined the vampire's face.
"What are you doing here? I figured you would still be in England with Faith."
"I was. I had to come, I couldn't leave what happened between us like that."
"Angel, what you did…it wasn't you. You were possessed."
"The fact remains that it was my hands that killed Giles. No-one else's." Looking away, Angel could see the city of lights that Buffy had been so enthralled with only minutes before.
"Angel." She answered him, stepping forward in order to pull his head towards hers. As they locked eyes, she stared back at him with nothing but pure resolve adorning her face. "Don't you shut yourself out from me. I'm talking to you." As the words passed from her lips, the vampire actually felt something akin to fear begin to cycle through his mind.
"What you did wasn't your fault. You didn't kill Giles, Twilight killed Giles. You were simply the vessel for it to act out. Do you think that the two of you are the same thing?"
"And that's the right answer. You did nothing wrong. Why do you think I forgave you, and didn't just stake you, God knows how much I wanted to? Because I knew that I would be killing the wrong person. Twilight is gone, it disappeared when I severed the connection with the magick."
"Do the others think like that?" He asked, gesturing towards the open door that led to the rest of the apartment. "Do they pity me or tell themselves that they could have saved him if they had been fast enough?"
"I don't know, I'm not them. I'm just me." Turning away, the vampire rested his hands on the metal railing, the temperature almost matching his perfectly. Sighing angrily, the Slayer walked towards him, finally resting her hand on his shoulder and forcing him to turn around. As she effectively pinned him between the railing and her body, she looked up at him, the expression on her face having changed very little. "And no matter what you try to do or say otherwise, you're the same vampire you always have been. You've done horrible things, but you've saved the world more times than anyone could have guessed, least of all me."
"Your record's bigger than mine."
"We're keeping score now?" She asked, perking up her eyebrow to add to her tone of voice. "Didn't realize that."
"Look, the fact remains, you've given more to this fight than anyone one else here. I don't deserve any of the sympathy you give me."
"Buffy? Is someone here?" Turning her head towards the closed bedroom door, the Slayer could hear Dawn's voice echoing out to where she and Angel stood in the midst of their conversation.
"No, Dawnie, just go back to sleep!" She yelled back, her answer being met with no other response. Turning back to where the vampire was still standing between herself and the rail, she sighed before moving back a few steps.
"You want to take a walk?"
As they continued down the street amidst the bright lights of San Francisco's night-life, the Slayer and vampire continued the conversation, trying not to focus on the events of only months ago. They brought up numerous memories of things seemingly long forgotten by either of them. The sound of their laughter echoed down the street with their steps, and to look on the exterior, one would think them to be simply another love-stricken couple out for a walk through the city on the Bay.
"So, you're telling me you were in charge of a large evil Law corporation?" She repeated, barely able to get the sentence out without laughing. "You were practically a CEO?"
"I was. It wasn't a half-decent job, if you avoid that the fact that I had everyone talking up to me like I was a God."
"Seems like something that would be up Spike's alley." She said, the laugh again escaping from her lips. As he heard the sound, Angel smiled. He had forgotten how heavenly her laughter sounded like. As he looked at her, he took in how much she had changed from that seventeen-year old girl that he fallen in love with so long ago. She had grown, her features having changed very little, but all for the better. The sense of beauty that she had held before had only grown, and it amazed how he hadn't noticed it before now.
"It was, a little bit. He's not a very good person to work with."
"Oh, and you think I don't know that from personal experience?" She asked, smiling at him as he realized what she meant. "I can't tell you how many times I wanted to stake him."
"But you didn't." He knew that she picked up on the hidden meaning of the sentence, and as they stopped at the corner, she looked at him.
"Angel, I loved him once. But it wasn't the kind of love that I had with you. With him, it gave me something to feel. With you, it made me feel alive."
"I know." Was all that he could muster to say, unsure of what he was supposed to feel inside knowing that after everything that they had suffered through, the love she felt for him inside was still there, as much as they had tried to deny over the years since he had left Sunnydale.
"Do…do you still love me?"
"How can you even ask me that?" He replied, actually shocked at the question. "In over a hundred years, there was never anyone that was as important as you were to me."
"I…I heard about Cordelia."
"She wasn't you." The answer is short and to the point, just as he hoped that it would sound. He had loved Cordelia in his own way, but was the same love that he had always felt for the Slayer in front of him. Even when things had been at their worst in his life in L.A., he had turned to the memories of her that he cherished, and had been able to pull through.
"Nice to know that I'm not replaceable." She said, smiling at him again before she looked up at the blinking light that hung suspended in the air above them.
"It's almost Christmas, and there's no snow. Seems weird after what we had in England." She said, smiling as the billboard advertised some store having a last minute Christmas sale. "It's not like that one Christmas eve, when the snow fell?"
"I remember." His gaze never once faltering from her face. Noticing that she alone was staring at the blinking lights, she looked at him and caught the look in his eyes.
"Just kiss me, you know you want to." The words had barely left her mouth before he pressed his lips against hers, the sensations prickling through his body almost making feel at peace before he clamped down on the feeling, something he had grown so good at doing ever since he had left Sunnydale. As she returned the kiss, Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck, her fingers locking together just slightly below his hairline.
As the lights above them continued to illuminate their fingers, the Slayer and the vampire forgot about their roles for only a moment, and were simply two souls together amidst a storm that stretched out across the entire world.