She has to let him go.
This is all the life she will get and she knows now, finally, that she has to live it.
God, she loves him.
When had she seen him last? Rome: when Dawn married that stupid beau-hunk. Angel hadn’t liked him either.
Dawn made a beautiful bride, all cascading ringlets and doe-eyes.
“I can hardly believe it,” Angel said.
“Believe what?” Buffy replied. “That she went through with it? Christ.”
“Well, I was thinking more: I can hardly believe she’s old enough.”
Buffy took another sip from her flute. It was very good champagne and this was her third glass. The bubbles tickled her nose, but it was the fact that Angel was standing so close to her that was making her light-headed.
“Do you want to get out of here?” She asked.
“Yeah,” Angel said. “Because if we don’t I may have to punch Caesar in the nose, even if he is married to her.”
London: after Giles died.
England could be so gloomy. She couldn’t even wring any irony out of the grey sky, the cold rain, the fresh grave.
Giles was gone. That was enough.
Angel’s hand felt good in hers, solid. Her hand in his made her think about her mother, but the memory of that loss was not as fresh as it had once been: the pain less immediate.
“I wish I had been able to see him,” he said.
“He asked after you,” Buffy lied.
Angel’s mouth quirked up and then down.
“Well,” Buffy amended, “he would have asked about you if he hadn’t been so doped up.”
“You’re a terrible liar,” Angel said.
Are you okay?
She stared at the message on her phone for a long time before she typed ‘yes’ and hit send.
“We shouldn’t be doing this.”
“What else is new?”
Angel’s mouth was cool and cautious, but his hand on her breast was hot and knowing.
Buffy’s back hit the wall and her head flooded with memory- nothing specific, just a knowing.
But then, when it comes to Angel, she’s always known.
“Do you see Spike?”
Buffy kept her face neutral and then asked:
“Do you see Faith?”
“It’s not a competition.”
“Of course not. Do you see what’s her name? The wolf?”
Angel’s face was less transparent.
“Do you see Xander?”
“All the time.”
Impossible to miss them despite the crowd in the disco. Spike’s blonde head was like a 100 watt bulb and Buffy could feel Angel’s scowl on the back of her neck. She swung her hair, creating a cascade of white light. Bet they saw that: the pale column of her neck, the curve of her breasts.
Buffy slept for 36 hours.
Buffy was the last off the bus. She was nervous about seeing him so soon after their little talk in the cemetery. Angel was waiting just inside the door of the Hyperion. Suddenly, Buffy was exhausted.
“Hi yourself. I hope you don’t mind, I brought a few friends.”
“I see that. Lucky for you, I own a hotel.” He paused and Buffy watched as he examined her with his eyes. “Are you okay?”
Buffy considered her stomach and then shook her head.
“Tired,” she replied.
Angel reached out his hand. “Come on,” he said and led her up the stairs.
She felt his kiss down to her toes. Her fingertips. Her scalp. Her belly and nipples and deep in her sex.
It wasn’t fair.
Outside the crypt, he asked her about Spike and she tried to be honest. After all, Spike had been here all this time and Angel had not.
It was comical, really, the two of them having this conversation on the eve of what might possibly be the end of the world.
She slugged him hard. Instinct, really. And jealousy, too.
There was Faith all hurt puppy.
Angel was just being Angel- what was it? Helping the hopeless.
Helping the pathologically insane more like it.
Later, at the police station she wanted to say she was sorry but all she could do was throw Riley in his face. Instinct really. Self preservation.
She just wanted out of there and away from him.
She just wanted him to hold her.
She doesn’t remember the day that wasn’t.
He can’t forget.
He skulks through Sunnydale like the thing of the night that he is. Keeping to the shadows- he’s good at that.
Buffy is in the light. She should be. It’s what he wanted. Why he left.
His gut aches.
Who’s that guy?
Angel’s hackles prickle and he has to remind himself that his possessiveness is unwelcome.
“Who’s that guy?” he asks Willow.
“I’m not going to say good-bye, I’m just going to go.”
Had those been the last words he’d said to her?
He needed to be sure that she was alive. Unharmed. Breathing.
And then there she was - across the parking lot, talking to Giles. So beautiful.
Still his girl.
Was that snow?
Buffy felt the flakes on her face, turned the moon of her cheek up to receive the wet kiss. Angel, too, was looking up. It wasn’t possible.
But then, neither was he.
I killed you.
I loved you and I killed you.
Maybe we shouldn’t.
That’s what he’d said.
But he loved her. She knew that. Knew it as certainly as she knew her name, knew her calling. She couldn’t deny it and neither could he.
Just kiss me. she said.
She would take that kiss to her grave.
And this memory: this holy thing they were making, this perfect union. The whisper of his fingers against her skin, his voice murmuring foreign words into the shell of her ear, his flesh pressed into hers.
It would have been so much easier if she’d just killed him that first time - in the Bronze.
Instead, she’d fallen in love with him.
Maybe I don’t want a friend.
I didn’t say I was yours.
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Summary: Sometimes you have no choice but to say goodbye.