The mansion is lit only by the flickering glow from the firelight. Angel sits himself down on the floor in front of it, on one of the two cushions that sit like sentries, one each side of the hearth. Buffy has gone home, and before he starts to miss her, Angel has something he wants to do.
In one hand is a sketchbook and pencil, and in the other hand is a large folder. He puts the sketchbook down on top of the folder and crosses his legs so that he is comfortable. He folds the cover back over the spiral of the sketchpad to bring up a fresh page and tries to clear his thoughts. He has an image that he wants to create, and he needs to do it while it is still fresh in his mind.
He starts to draw.
The lines flow easily; the image is so clear that it takes only moments to transfer it from his head to the blank page. He sits back to look critically at his creation. Buffy smiles back at him from the emblazoned page but the image isn't right. Her smile is too narrow, and the slant of her shoulders is wrong. He makes the changes needed and looks again. Her hair is too short, and he adds some extra length to it before checking again. This time the face that looks back is perfect. Her eyes, her smile, and the way she holds her headů it all looks exactly as she had only half an hour ago. Satisfied, he pulls the folder closer, opens it up and spreads it out in front of him.
The folder is stuffed full of images. Angel lays them out over the floor so that he can see them better. Every picture is a sketch; and every sketch is a captive image of Buffy. He selects one and holds it up.
Smiling Buffy, wearing her new sundress and twirling round to show him what it looks like from every angle. She is glowing in the picture, just as she had been on that bright summery day. He puts the sketch down and picks up another picture, and another, and keeps looking until he has temporarily sated his thirst.
The Bronze. She is laughing and dancing with her friends. She looks happy with her arm round Willow's shoulders and the girls are leaning slightly toward each other. Behind them, the boy is a shadowy figure lurking somewhere in the background.
Frozen in mid-strike, the next sketch shows Buffy locked in combat with an adversary far bigger than she was. Her style was beautiful, the execution of her moves flawless. She clearly loved what she did, and he loved to immortalise her in pencil.
He has recorded her expression from one of her meetings in the library with Giles, and pauses to remember the affection reflected on the Watcher's face. He has a record of her helping her mother carry in a large cardboard box from the electrical store. She lifts it as though it is nothing, and Joyce's pride shows through in the drawing on his lap.
An old image is next. She looks very young, and very innocent. This was before they had consummated their relationship and she looks so new in the likeness on the paper. She holds a school textbook in her hand and her expression betrays her anxiety over her forthcoming History test. He'd sat with her for two hours helping her to get the facts clear in her head.
The next image is an important one for many reasons. Her face is flushed, and her eyes shine, and this image is as accurate as he can make it, but it was done much later than the night in question. This is the very night that he takes her virginity, and her face holds utter awe at the experience. This picture should hold sadness for him too, but he doesn't see the future when he looks at her; he sees only the woman he loves, and the expression of pure love and trust in her eyes that he will never see again.
There is a whole series of detailed sketches from outside her window. It's where he has been able to sketch her from his concealment in the tree, and he has managed to capture every emotion. He has tears while she has been watching some old movie, and he has laughter when she has a sleepover with Willow. He draws love in her expression, but not for him; this is for her mother and he sketches her earnest expression after a meeting with Giles. He draws her when she returns from the hunt, or when she tries to make sense of her homework and he shows elation and defeat, exuberance and weariness.
He crept into her room to capture her while she sleeps and he marvels at how relaxed she becomes in slumber. He draws her when she paces the room unable to sleep, or twisting restlessly when she returns to bed. He draws her with hands moving under the covers and her back arched as she calls his name, and he wishes he could see her face and add the flushed skin he knows is there to his image. But he draws only what he has seen; good and bad, he wants a record of everything.
The last one is his favourite. They had returned to the mansion after a night's slayage and Buffy was hot and tired, and she asked to use his shower. He heard the water run, and he couldn't help himself - he wanted to see her. He slipped into the bathroom; she hadn't quite pulled the curtain closed and he could see her reflection in the mirror. Mesmerised, he watched. The water cascaded down on her head, creating glistening droplets in the air. She raised her arms to wash her hair and the lifting of her naked breast instantly caught his eye. The soapy water drizzled down her back and over her chest, and he was transfixed by the way the water ran round her breast to find the lowest point, where it dripped off. This is the image on his paper. She has her eyes shut, mouth slightly open and her head stretched back. Her neck is long and enticing, and the water runs down over her shiny wet skin. This image captivates him every time; she is beautiful, and it's how he likes to think of her when he's alone.
She doesn't know about his folder, and she doesn't know that he draws her. He wonders how she would feel if she knew. He has never liked to mention this to her, because he thinks that it will remind her of the drawings Angelus used to leave her. This is his. This way he can have her whenever he wants her, and relive every one of precious moments that have been frozen in time forever.
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Summary: One who lives forever must find a way to remember.