Standing in the In-Between

Standing in the In-Between

By Lilian
Author's Notes

It’s funny the things she will sometimes remember.

She’ll be sitting in Rome, in that little gelatto shop she enjoys so much in Via dei Coronari, and she’ll think that sunshine makes Angel’s skin look beautiful. Then, of course, she’ll remember she couldn’t have actually seen Angel standing in sunlight, because hey, fires of doom and all, but still. She has this strikingly clear picture of him practically running towards her, black shirt rippling in the sea breeze and eyes burning with lust.

“So, I'm gonna go - start forgetting."

Or she’ll be strolling down Via Frattina, shopping bags in one hand and sunglasses in the other, and she’ll catch her reflection in one of the tall windows and just stop. She’ll look at her image and develop a sudden craving for cookie-dough-fudge-mint-chip ice-cream – the crunchy kind – and wonder if Angel would like it. And then a stray thought will pop into her head ‘Of course he’ll like it, silly, especially if you’re licking it off his chest’, and she'll blush, because even after sharing a bed – and various other places, but that’s neither here nor there – with sex gods like Spike and the Immortal, it is the memory of her one night with Angel that will still bring shivers to her spine.

It hurts - every day.  But I live with it.”

Of course, that single night of teenage passion didn’t involve any kind of ice-cream, so Buffy will wonder just where did she get that idea that the only thing that could make cookie dough ice-cream better is serving it with a side of Angel. She’ll shake her head, and walk away, but the sensory image is strong enough to make her stop and buy ice-cream on her way home.

I'm not saying I don't want you.  You know how much…

The whispers come at the strangest of times. Day or night, asleep or awake—it doesn’t make a difference. They echo inside her head, things she has never said, words she had never heard… Angel, always Angel, looking at her, touching her, saving her… his voice makes things inside of her quiver, and she arches in desire when the not-memories come at night. What is this feeling, this heartbreak that floods her whenever this whispers come? And why now? Why now, after all these years?

"No, I-I can't give you a life, or a future or anything a real girl would want."

She can’t go into a sewer without getting tingles – not that she has gone into many sewers since her arrival in Rome: she’s a strictly topside Slayer nowadays, on the account of her very expensive Prada heels – so she avoids it as much as she can. But the last time she went, when the vampire had insulted her recently acquired Versacce jacket and she was just pissed enough to follow him into the stinking tunnels running underneath Rome, well, her heart ached. So she avoids it now, letting the younger, more eager Slayers take down the smelly nasties that dwell underneath.

"Okay, mortal coordination leaving something to be desired."

Sometimes, she will wake up in the middle of the night, sheets tangled around her nicely curved body – can’t be living off pasta and wine and Rome without gaining a few pounds: Dawn says she finally looks healthy – and she’ll be crying. There will be this deep sense of loss inside of her, the certainty that she has lost something too precious to name, something she doesn’t even remember. And it kills her to feel like that, to be mourning for the unknown.

I'm spent.  Pleasantly numb even.”

That is why she immerses herself in the Immortal. She allows him to take her to fancy restaurants and fancier clubs. She lets him buy her clothes and gives him access to her body, hoping his skilled touch will drive away the whispers that keep her awake at night. Most of the time, he succeeds… most of the time, she is too spent to think about anything after they are done, and she falls into a dreamless sleep. But some nights he will not satisfy her enough, not tire her enough, and she’ll lay awake in bed, staring at the high ceiling above them, counting the striations of the paint. And it will come for her, that silent longing, and she’ll picture Angel’s face in the darkness and remember the one night they had.

"How am I supposed to go on with my life knowing what we had?  What we could have had?"

Her heart will ache, and she’ll clutch at her breast, trying to recover some lost feeling she can’t even name. She’ll rise, careful not to wake him. She’ll go out, stroll through the streets of Rome at night, and ask herself where it all went wrong.

I felt your heart beat."

When she receives the news of the LA debacle, the whispers stop.

The End

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Author's Notes:
Rating: PG
Summary: In Rome, Buffy is remembering things that never happened.

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