The last twenty-four hours had been perfect. Beyond even her wildest dreams. She had spent the entire time with Angel. And now because of a misguided attempt to save her in the long run, she stood locked in his embrace, waiting to say goodbye once again. She prayed to whatever deity that might be listening to heed her plea. All she had ever wanted in her life was in this room. Angel.
Buffy clung to Angel as tears streamed down her face. She didn't want to give him up, didn't want to forget all that had happened between the two of them but Angel had made that choice for her. She really wanted to hate him for that but hate would have to come later right now she was just trying to survive the next minute.
Buffy glanced at the clock that was ticking the minute away and with it her reason for being. "No! Oh God. It's not enough time."
Angel wrapped his arms tighter around her in the only comforting way he had to offer as she promised that she'd never forget. Although he knew she meant it, she would have no choice the Oracles would see to that.
He would have given anything to be able to stay human so he could be with Buffy but he couldn't, wouldn't allow her to die an earlier death just because of him. He could bear the loneliness as long as he knew that Buffy was alive and well, even if he never got to hold her again.
A sudden white light flashed in the room and Angel leaned against his desk as Buffy walked into the room. Just looking at her and remembering hurt. This is what the Oracle had meant when she’d asked if he could carry the burden. He had spent twenty-four glorious hours with Buffy and he was the only one to remember it.
The Oracles had said that he alone would have to carry that burden. But it wasn't a burden. Not really. It was painful. Oh hell yeah, it was painful beyond belief but he at least could remember loving Buffy without the horror of having turned into Angelus afterwards. And he wouldn’t trade that memory for anything in the world.
One glance at the look on Buffy's face and Cordelia grabbed Doyle by the hand and led him out of the room. No one needed to witness what was about to happen.
"Buffy." It was the only thing he could think to say.
"Angel." A secretive smile teased at the corners of her mouth as she walked slowly to him.
Angel didn't know what to think. He watched greedily as her hips swung back and forth as she moved closer to him. She was teasing, tempting and it was all he could do not to grab her and bring her closer.
His palms itched to touch her, to caress every inch of her as he'd done numerous times in the last twenty-four hours. As a matter of fact there was still a half-pint of cookie-dough-fudge-mint-chip ice cream left in the freezer and he could think of all kinds of ways to use it.
He shook his head to clear it just as she stopped in front of him. Without a word she stood on her tiptoes and pulled his head down to hers. Her lips caressed his before she leaned back and whispered in his ear. "I told you I wouldn't forget."
What the....? With those words Angel pushed her away and looked deep into her eyes. "You told me that you wouldn't forget what? What exactly do you think you remember?" How could this be happening? The Oracles had promised that he would be the only one to carry the memory.
Buffy teased his lips with hers. "Oh I remember all kinds of things. Things like kissing in the sunshine, having tea, making love on the kitchen table, you raiding the fridge naked, feeding each other bites of chocolate and peanut butter, oh yeah and that cookie-dough-fudge-mint-chip ice cream tastes a hell of a lot better when I'm licking it off you. Do I need to go on?"
Angel would have sworn that the temperature had went up in the room by about fifty degrees. As a vampire, temperature changes usually meant little to him but her words had brought back a multitude of memories, each one hotter than the last.
"I.....umm....I...ummm..." He was completely at a loss for words. Buffy could remember everything they had said to each other, everything that they had done to each other. How could this be? It was too cruel for words. Why could she remember the day that never was when he had already returned to being a vampire? Wasn't the deal supposed to be that he became a vampire again and Buffy left never having to remember the day they spent together? Was this some kind of cosmic joke that the Oracles were playing?
"I don't know what's going on but I need to see the Oracles and find out."
"If you're going to see the Oracles then so am I." There was no way that she was letting him out of her sight again. Especially not to see something as powerful as the Oracles. He had already made the decision to become a vampire again without even talking to her. She wasn't about to let him make the decision to take away her memories of the day too. Even though that would have been the outcome had the Oracles swallowed the day like they were supposed to apparently something had went wrong. But she didn't want to think about the deal Angel had made because she really wanted to hate him for it but at this point, she was just too happy with the not forgetting part.
"Buffy. I don't think...."
She quickly interrupted before he could try to explain what he thought was his nobler actions. "Angel, don't think. I'm not going to be left here alone waiting like the good soldier while you go and try to get the Oracles to fix their mistake. I'm not losing my memories of you and the last twenty-four hours. I'm not!"
"Don't you get it, Buffy? Knowing what happened between us won't change anything. It will only bring you pain."
"Because knowing about it doesn't change what it is, Buffy. I'm back to being a vampire..." He ignored Buffy's indignant snort and continued. "and you're still the slayer. Nothing is going to change that. No matter how much we might wish otherwise."
"Is that what you believe? Do you honestly think I would want us to change who we are? That I'd prefer human you to vampire you?"
She glared at him as he nodded his head. "Of all the dumbest, pigheaded things to believe. When I fell in love with you, I knew you were a vampire. That didn’t seem to stop me from falling for you did it? And yes I loved you as human. You already knew that, but there's one thing you don't know. I love every aspect of you. Vampire, human and even evil vampire."
Angel eyes widened in disbelief. "What?"
Buffy's mouth curved into a smile. "Yes, I loved you even as Angelus. I couldn’t help myself. Even knowing all the things that Angelus was doing couldn’t stop me from loving you. And nothing you will ever do can change that. No matter how much you might wish otherwise."
Angel glared as she threw his own words back at him. He couldn't deny that he wished he could have stayed human. The thought of loving Buffy the way he had for the last twenty-four hours was torture, the kind that he really wanted to repeat. Over and over again. But he couldn't. A vampire had no right loving someone and especially not Buffy. Buffy was meant for the sunshine and he was meant for the shadows. But now to find out that she had even loved Angelus.... Angel shook his head it shouldn't matter... He wouldn't let it matter.
"There's not one thing about you that I would change. Not one. It's me. I just wish that I could've stayed human for you, Buffy. It tore me up inside to ask the Oracles to make me a vampire again but I didn’t have a choice.”
Buffy bit her lip to keep from saying anything.
Angel ran his hand down the smooth skin of her cheek. “I would give anything to give you the life that you deserve. But I can’t."
The man was so dense sometimes that Buffy wanted to smack him. "What gives you the right to decide who or what I deserve? Did you once ever ask me what I wanted? No you just get to decide that we can't be together anymore because I deserve so much more than what you can give me." She stomped her foot in anger as she poked his chest with her finger. "Well let me tell you something. The only thing I've ever wanted in my whole life is you. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just you. I'll take you in whatever form you're in. Human or Vampire. Vampire or Human it makes no difference to me as long as I have you." Tears glistened in her eyes as she finished speaking.
“But there are things that you need that I can’t give you.”
“Like what? Name one thing.”
Angel gave her a heated look.
Buffy stared at Angel. “Please tell me that all this wasn’t about sex.”
“Ummmm…..not only about sex. No. But face it, Buffy. It is a big part of any relationship.”
“Angel, maybe there’s a way, a loophole around your curse, but until then, there are other ways.” Buffy blushed to the roots of her hair. Even after all of the things she and Angel had done talking about sex still made her uncomfortable.
Angel opened his mouth but quickly closed it. After all she did have a point. The only worry keeping them apart was Angelus. And if they could find a way to work around the curse then maybe, just maybe, it would work out between them this time. He ignored the thought in his head that if only he’d have talked to her then maybe things would have worked out between them in the beginning. At least she was giving him a second chance.
"There are no guaranties it'll work." Angel whispered so low she almost didn't hear him.
"But there's no guaranties that it won't work either. Besides we'll never know until we try."
"Technically we did try." Angel couldn't resist reminding her.
Buffy's mouth opened in shock. "That was so not trying. Please, one little bitty talk with my mother and you were running away like a frightened rabbit."
How the hell had she heard about that? Wait. Rabbit? He couldn’t believe that she had called him a frightened rabbit. "I didn't run away. I left to save you from..."
Once again Buffy interrupted. "....from the big bad vampire. Yeah, yeah. Oh my, what big fangs you have..." Her voice dripped with sarcasm.
Without warning Angel scooped her up in his arms and walked quickly towards the elevator. "The better to eat you with my dear."
Buffy squealed in mock terror. "That's bite, Angel. Vampires bite."
"I like my way better."
Those were the last words the two lovers said for a long, long time.
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Summary: An alternate ending to I Will Remember You. Buffy doesn't forget.