By Jack
Author's Notes


Buffy leaned against the cool, pale wall of her apartment and glared at the apparition standing, or maybe hovering in front of her. "I'm not nearly drunk enough for this," she complained, "or maybe I drank way more champagne at lunch that I thought, and right now I'm having some twisted alcoholic hallucination."

The apparition shrugged its glowing shoulders, "you're not drunk, well actually… if you're wearing your hair like that maybe you are."

"This cannot be happening," Buffy kicked off her Italian leather mules and debated throwing them.

Cordelia looked slightly sympathetic. "Yeah, I've been saying that on quite a regular basis for years now. It really never helps."

"Did you just stop by to insult my hair, or did you actually have a point?" Buffy asked in exasperation.

"Angel needs you."

Buffy blinked. "Uh, excuse me?"

"You heard." Cordelia said impatiently.

"Well yeah, but I've spent what feels like my whole life with people trying to keep me and Angel as far apart as possible, so excuse me if I find it weird that you now want us in the same place."

"Well, I'm dead, duh. Wesley, Fred and Gunn are all dead, Lorne skipped town, Nina doesn't understand, and really, Angel ate way too many people over the years for there to be a whole lot of people willing to go help him now he really needs it, so you're it."

"Nina?" Buffy latched onto the unfamiliar female name suspiciously even as she grieved for Angel who had lost all his friends.

"His girlfriend." Cordelia said sweetly.

Buffy blinked in surprise, "isn't that dangerous?" She asked, surprised to hear how harsh her voice sounded.

Cordelia shrugged and inspected her nails. "Not really. Actually, she's probably ex by now. He doesn't love her, and the state he's in, I don't think he remembers how to be happy with a girl. Really, what he needs right now is a smack upside the head, and you're ideal to give it."

Buffy tried not to show how much that piece of information was welcomed and headed for the bathroom.

"Well?" Cordelia demanded impatiently as Buffy began selecting toiletries.

"I'm packing."

"Pack faster. You need plane tickets yet."

Buffy growled and stomped out of her apartment and down the hall to pound vigorously on Andrew's door until he snatched it open.

"Andrew," she said with a sweetly toothy smile, "I need a little favour."

Andrew eyed her a little warily, "uh, sure, whatever you need."

"Can you book me a non-stop flight to Los Angeles, or as near to LA as you can get me as soon as possible? Hack something if you need to, but I want to be on that plane."

"I can do that," Andrew actually looked pleased to be asked, "but why the sudden yen for LA?"

"Oh, I just need a different place to shop," Buffy called as she hurried back to her own apartment.

By the time Buffy had filled a small suitcase and rooted out her passport, Andrew appeared clutching printouts. "I've got you a taxi waiting out front," he gasped, "you need to go now if you want to make the flight."

Buffy threw him a genuine smile and then hurried.

The driver seemed to catch her urgency and drove even faster than was normal for the average insane Italian taxi driver.

In her haste to get into the airport Buffy tipped the driver far too much, but couldn't be bothered to care.

She took calming breaths as she hurried in the entrance. No one in the airport would have guessed it, but Buffy's stomach was now housing a lot of butterflies, all apparently busy having a wild party. None of that showed outwardly though. She’d had years of practice hiding her real feelings now, and she’d gotten so good at it there were times when even she wasn't really sure of how she felt.

Buffy took another deep breath, accepted that she really was about to fly halfway round the world to see her unsuspecting ex boyfriend at the say so of an irritating ghost and began elbowing through the crowd, shoving her way to check in.

It was a Tuesday. No good ever came of Tuesdays. If the world ever got around to ending, it would end on a Tuesday, just out of spite when everyone had successfully navigated the Monday blues.

Therefore, knowing her luck she'd find herself sitting next to a talkative zombie or end up wrestling giant snakes in the cargo hold.

Buffy was fairly intent on her gloomy theory, and very intent on ignoring Cordelia flickering along above her, so when a tall bleached haired man swaggered past in the opposite direction Buffy pushed on a few paces before actually managing to stop and turn around, wondering if she'd just seen what she thought she had.

Thinking quickly she set down her case and climbed on top of it, completely oblivious to the glares of other travellers trying not to fall over her impromptu roadblock. She managed to pick the man out of the crowd. Was it Spike? It couldn't be, could it? Buffy watched open-mouthed as he moved quickly towards the doors, his leather jacket flapping behind him.

It was Spike! There couldn't be two people in the world with those cheekbones and that jacket. Not to mention the hair. Then the man pulled open the door and stepped out into the sunlight.

Buffy's mouth dropped open, and she wobbled, almost fell off the suitcase.

"The plane is going to leave without you!" Cordelia screeched.

Buffy fell off the suitcase.

"That was Spike?" She muttered, as she picked herself up.

"You saw Spike?" Cordelia said nervously.

"There's a Spike to see?" Buffy hissed angrily, suddenly aware that people were eyeing the crazy American woman who'd just fallen off her suitcase and now seemed to be conversing with it.

"He fought with Angel," Cordelia said uneasily, "alongside him I mean, not against him."

Buffy set her suitcase the right way up and waved her hand impatiently in a small circle, hoping Cordelia would take a hint and spill the whole story before men in white coats made her miss the flight.

"There was a prophecy that Angel found years ago, that said the Vampire with the soul was going to get a reward after some big fight."

"This is like pulling teeth," Buffy hissed as she trundled her small case closer to the desk.

"Fine! So we all thought Angel was going to get the reward of humanity after the big battle. But oh no. He-" Cordelia stabbed a sharp finger in the general direction of the exit "-he came off the bench at the last minute and stole the prize!"

Buffy closed her eyes, took a deep breath and handed over her ticket information.

Cordelia folded translucent arms and looked satisfied.

The flight proved to be pleasantly free of zombies and crazed snakes, but the child that had shrieked and kicked the back of her seat the whole way across America simply had to be a demon of some kind. If only she'd paid more attention to Giles when he bored on, then she might have had an excuse for slaying it.

Cordelia had disappeared with a grimace once the kid had started displaying the power of her lungs, and Buffy wondered despairingly just how long it was going to take her to track Angel down alone.

But Cordelia re-materialised just as Buffy was nearing the head of the taxi queue. "Wow, what a brat," she said breezily.

Buffy nodded and sent a malevolent glare at the howling demon child draped over her mother's shoulder a few places ahead of Buffy in the line. The child had to be evil. Buffy's death glares were famous for shutting normal people up, but the kid didn't even blink.

Cordelia made throat-clearing noises, apparently hoping to distract Buffy from her homicidal impulses. "You do realise the child is entirely human don't you?"  

Buffy nodded mechanically, shoving down disappointment. "Right."

A few minutes later Buffy was settled into a taxi, speeding towards the address Cordelia had given to her.

It wasn't a long ride, but Buffy had to scrabble around in her purse to discover enough American money to cover the fare and scrape together a small tip.

Cordelia drifted ahead and Buffy followed her. Then Cordelia stopped and waved a hand towards the door of Angel's cheap hotel room. "Well, good luck," she said perkily, before rolling her eyes, "because believe me, you'll need it."

"Gee, thanks a lot." Buffy muttered, but she was talking to empty air. Cordelia was gone again.

"Right." Buffy took a deep breath and tapped tentatively on the door.

"Get lost." Angel snarled through the cheap wood.

"Nice greeting Angel." Buffy called back.

There was a pause and then the door creaked open a few inches. Buffy tried to peer through the gap, but the room was shadowy after the bright light of outside and she couldn't pick him out of the gloom.

"Buffy. What are you doing here?"

Buffy sighed dramatically. "Well, hello Buffy, how are you? Hi Angel, I'm fine. You?"

There was silence from behind the door.

Buffy tapped her foot irritably and waited for the door to open a bit further. She'd just suffered the worst flight in living memory, and all she really wanted was to freshen up, sit down in peace and see if he was all right. She'd give him two minutes tops before she forced her way in and made sure he was all right.

"What are you doing here?" Angel reiterated.

Buffy exhaled loudly, "well, I have some fairly personal knowledge of apocalypses that blow up in your face and prophesies with a nasty habit of not doing quite what they advertise."

"Yes, I suppose you do. But why are you here?"

"What are you, a stuck record now? Why am I here?" Buffy slid her shoulder into the gap in the door and insistently pushed, but Angel didn't try very hard to keep her out.

She marched past him, leaving him lurking behind her and threw her case onto the rumpled bed.

"Right," she turned to face him and sucked in a sharp breath.

Angel leaned awkwardly against the wall, just out of reach of the sun. He was barely clad in a pair of crumpled black pants and rips in the fabric revealed the bloodied flesh of his hip and thigh peeking through. Bruises bloomed on his starkly pale chest, like tattoos of strange dark flowers. Blood was still smeared here and there, flaking rusty patches on a broken body.

"I guess I'm here to patch you up then," she said decisively.

Angel stood looking as if he'd like to bolt.

Buffy opened her bag and rummaged for her first aid kit and went into the bathroom for water, fairly confident that Angel wouldn't run away, not with sunlight to contend with.

"Well, now I know why she insisted on first aid stuff," she muttered as she soaked a fairly clean looking hand towel in the basin. "I'm doing physical repair as well as mental help. Why do I sign up for this stuff?"

"I don't need your help," Angel quietly interrupted her monologue, "you don't need to be here."

Buffy turned and met his stubborn glare as he weaved in the doorway, "no, I don't need to be here, but strangely I want to be here," she took a quick swipe at his belly with the damp cloth and he jerked back as if she'd attacked him before blinking at the now gory cloth in her hand as if just realising that he was a mess.

Buffy pointed sternly at the toilet seat and after a moment of hesitation Angel obediently slunk into the room where he collapsed slowly, a puppet with cut strings.

Buffy scrubbed away dried blood and what might have been brain fragments and ignored his winces as she pressed on his bruises. She cleaned open wounds more carefully.

"Have you eaten?" She questioned him suddenly, deciding that the wounds were too healed to be new, but not healed enough for him to have been feeding.




"Breakfast huh? Breakfast on which day?" She pushed; familiar enough with the sly evasions she frequently got from Dawn to prod him a little more.

Angel was silent, and that was all the answer Buffy needed.

"Well, I guess I'll finish cleaning you up, and then finding you some dinner will be my next mission."

"You don't have to do this." Angel whispered, trying to take the cloth from her hand and Buffy wondered if he was ashamed to need help, or if he was just ashamed to need her help.

"Okay, you finish up here and I'll find a butcher," she didn't wait for a response, just grabbed her purse, took his door key and left.

Buffy soon discovered a bank, and then a butcher who was willing to accept a substantial sum of money and her story of being a art student with a strange yen to paint with blood, so it wasn't long before Buffy was jogging back to Angel's with the reassuring slosh of cartons of blood in a large paper sack.

Then irritatingly, Angel wouldn't open the bathroom door even though she knew he could damn well hear her over the pitiful trickle of the hotel shower. So she was forced to waft the blood around outside it and then loudly retreat so he would open the door, snatch up the blood and lock himself in again.

Buffy turned to the bed. The sheets were relatively clean, but the coverlet really wasn't. She pulled a face at it and cautiously picked it up by her fingertips to throw onto the floor in disgust before sitting down to wait.  

Angel was taking forever in the bathroom, so Buffy turned the pillows over and settled back onto the clean side. Might as well be comfortable if she was going to have to wait out the most stubborn guy she'd ever met.

She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew Angel was standing right beside the bed looking down at her, he'd pulled his pants back on, but his body was still wet from the shower.  

"I missed you," he admitted softly, but the deeper pitch to his voice shook Buffy, she could feel the need and desperation all but rolling off him. Everything about Angel had always been intense, but this rawness was new.

Even Angel's pale face had been cast into unreadable shades of grey by the dimness of the room, so Buffy reached over and snapped on the bedside lamp, needing to see him.  

The hungry look in his eyes made her jolt back against the pillows, the longing she could see there making her reel more than any physical blow could. Something was about to happen here, Buffy thought a little hysterically, afraid to say anything, because she just knew that whatever words managed to crawl out of her mouth would be the wrong ones.

Angel tried to say something else, but only a whisper made it, no words forming, just the thought of her name.

Suddenly Buffy knew what she could give him and reached out to him, taking his big hand in her small one, pulling him off-balance so he'd fall on the bed.

Then she was drowning in skin, cool flesh all around her, and Angel shuddering against her, bunching her clothing into his big fists, clutching her close as he ravaged her mouth. His tongue gliding into her mouth and swiping across her lips, his thumb following the slick progress of his tongue

This wasn't going to be happiness or love. This was need, and comfort was something she could offer him right now.

Buffy clamped her arms tight around him and just held on as he popped the buttons off her blouse, mangled her bra and closed his blunt human teeth over her nipple, letting her arch mindlessly into his mouth as his fingers tugged at the hem of her skirt, yanking it up, before fumbling and dragging the elastic edge of her panties aside.

Buffy panted with excitement as Angel knelt between her splayed legs, shoved his own pants over his lean hips and then gasped as a blunt pressure began nudging her.Buffy sank her fingers into Angel's thick wet hair and yanked his mouth back to hers, biting Angel's lip at the burning stretch as he as he crammed himself inside her. Buffy found herself frantically clutching at his shoulders, her fingers pressing deep into his bruises as her body struggled to adjust to the steady deep punches of his body in hers.

Buffy squirmed, hands and mouth everywhere, unable to touch him enough.

Angel pulled her closer, cold hands branding themselves into her bare legs, holding her open for him.

"Buffy," Angel murmured against her lips.

"Angel," she gasped as he lowered his mouth to her throat, sucking at her thundering pulse as she came in slow throbbing bursts, the pull of her body dragging him deeper. Shaking him. The shudder of mutual relief and easing of hurts.

Angel lowered her gently and collapsed on top of her, tumbling them both against the pillows, waves of it still shuddering through his every muscle.

They lay for a moment, locked together. Buffy pleasantly crushed under Angel's big body and it made her smile for what felt like the first time in years. How long had it been since she'd felt free to smile at Angel like this? It hurt. It felt good. "We can do this Angel," she whispered. "It can't be what it was, and it can't be what you hoped for. But it can be something."

Angel's gaze was blank.

"See, I have this friend," Buffy babbled on, "and I can't believe I didn't think of this before, but Willow is like the uberest-witch of the West, I mean, she raises the dead and zaps hellgods and makes mini-slayers like popcorn and almost ends the world, so just how hard could it be for her to give one vampire his soul without a stupid loophole?"

Buffy waited hopefully for Angel to respond. He didn't. Instead he slipped out of her arms and swung his legs out of bed.

Buffy's heart sank as he turned away from her, and suddenly the fucked open wetness between her legs and the cool damp trickle on her thigh didn't feel good anymore.

"Spike went to Rome looking for you." Angel said suddenly.

"And?" Buffy blinked at the non-sequiter.

"Well, he's human now, that prophecy didn't refer to me at all," Angel choked, "so he can give you all the stuff you ever wanted."

"Which was?"

"Well, you were with him before," Angel said bitterly, "and he's human now, so he can give you all the daylight and human stuff that you wanted and he already understands about the slayer."

"You know, if I was a less confident woman, I'd think you were trying to get rid of me." Buffy said a little uneasily.

"No, I'm not," Angel was vehement in his denial. "I'm just saying-" Angel trailed off in confusion.

"No, keep talking. You might start making sense eventually." Buffy teased, more assured of her welcome now.

"You're not surprised are you? You knew he was in Rome? That he was human now?" Angel said slowly, some of the tension leaving his shoulders.

"I saw him. I knew."

"But you're here."

"I'm in the right place." Buffy said gently.

The bed shifted, the world shifted. And suddenly Angel was looming over her, smiling down at her with hope in his eyes, "you're here," he said in wonder.

The End

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Author's Notes:
Rating: R
Summary: Sometimes a second chance is the only thing you need, and sometimes it's the only thing you aren't going to get. Unless of course you're lucky enough to have a big hearted, higher being meddling on your behalf.

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