Here on Earth

Here on Earth

After Buffy leaves, Angel drinks the blood she’s brought. It’s fresh: not straight from the body fresh, but butcher-fresh. It’s adequate. It’s more than he deserves.

The afternoon stretches ahead of him, a long lonely highway. He doesn’t know when Buffy will come back.

Or even if.

*

Hell isn’t the place people imagine. It’s not fire and brimstone or frigid cold. It’s not like that. It’s worse.

For Angel, it was day after day of Buffy in the sunshine, his arm - extended to touch the halo of her hair - bursting into flame, healing only to burn again. It was reliving their one and only night together, Buffy petal-soft beneath him, her eyes wide with trust, her mouth candy-sweet. In hell, at the moment Angel thrusts into her, Buffy’s face changes, her eyes gleam golden and her fangs pierce his shoulder. He screams his throat raw.

He is all too aware of what he is capable of and worse, he knows Buffy knows it, too.

*

She does come back.

Angel looks up from the book he is reading and finds her standing just inside the door, her head tilted a little to the left, her bottom lip between her teeth. Angel is hard in an instant.

“Buffy,” he says.

“Sorry, I was in the neighbourhood,” she laughs.

Angel puts the book down and stands. “You don’t need an excuse to come see me. You’re welcome here any time.”

“It’s just--” Buffy hesitates. “I can’t stop thinking about you. I know what I said before, about Scott and moving on but--”

He can’t help himself. “It’s not what I want either.”

It’s the wrong thing to say. Angel knows it; he knows that the best thing all around is for Buffy to take her remarkable SAT scores and her new boyfriend and get as far away from this hell hole (and him) as she can. But he’s selfish.

He crosses the floor and reaches out a hand to hook a finger in hers, drawing her closer. She smells like honey.

“So.” She looks up at him with those endless eyes, “What are we going to do?”

It’s at times like this that Angel forgets he’s supposed to be the adult. He can see that she is waiting for some carefully considered response, proof that he will look after her, that everything will be alright. But all Angel can think about is her mouth and how if he kisses her, right now, she’ll moan around his tongue and press against him unconsciously.

He lifts her hand to his mouth and kisses her moist palm.

“That isn’t exactly helpful,” she murmurs.

Angel lifts his lashes and looks down at her. Goddamn it, she’s so young.

“Sorry,” he says.

Without letting go, he guides her across the room to the couch and then pulls her down to sit beside him. She twists so she can look at him, pulling one leg up under her.

“Buffy,” he says.

“Don’t say something I don’t want to hear,” she says, a fake smile on her face.

“Someone has to say it,” Angel says.

“Why?”

He strokes her hand where it sits, curled in his much larger palm.

“Because even though the truth is I love you,” Angel says, “there’s a larger truth to consider here.”

“More important than ‘I love you’?” Buffy says.

“Okay, maybe not more important,” Angel concedes. “I love you, but the truth is we--”

That’s when Buffy leans in and kisses him, her small hands framing his face, pulling him closer, drinking him deeper. And this is when the bigger picture always dims. She’s touching him and that’s all that matters.

Before he’s even had a chance to consider the consequence of his actions, Buffy is beneath him and he has his hand on her breast. If he could actually remember what it felt like to be a horny teenager, Angel is certain that this particular maneuver could be accomplished with more finesse than he’s just exhibited.

But it doesn’t matter. Her heart is racing under his palm and that means her adrenaline is spiking her blood, making what he imagines already to be sweet, sweeter still.

Jesus.

Angel sits up.

“I’m sorry, Buffy. I--”

Buffy sits up, too.

“It’s not your fault,” she says.

Angel drags his hands through his already messy hair. “You should go,” he says without looking at her.

“Angel,” she says, putting her hand on his knee. “It’s not just you.”

He slants his gaze over at her. “But it is just me who has to be the adult. I have to--”

“What? Look after me?” Buffy says incredulously. “I’m the Slayer. I can look after myself.”

“Until a couple years ago you didn’t even know monsters existed, Buffy,” Angel says. “I’m no fairy tale prince.”

“I had a fairy tale Ken doll once,” Buffy says, smiling. “Barbie decapitated him.”

Angel looks at her quizzically.

“Never mind,” Buffy says. “The point is that I am not fragile; I won’t break. You are not in this alone.”

“In what? What is it that we’re doing?” Angel asks.

That stops Buffy. It’s at the very heart of the matter. What are they doing?

*

Angel wakes up with a hard on. He resists the gnawing heat in the pit of his belly, resists wrapping his hand around himself and jacking off to the remembered feeling of Buffy’s velvet cunt, resists rolling over and dry humping the mattress.

It’s better to suffer, he thinks, than to succumb.

He closes his eyes and tries to think about something else. Hell. The blast of heat, then cold, then heat he traveled through before he was deposited in some dimension that was without linear time or tangible space. He just was.

But then there is the one thing that torments him: Buffy floats, a mirage, in front of him.

Now he can’t get her out of his head: the pale column of her throat, the curve of her breasts, the narrow rib bones and the triangle of her pelvis, the satin slit protecting her virginity- she’s always a virgin in Hell. Every time he fucks her he steals that innocence from her.

In Hell his cock is huge and perpetually hard. And Buffy is always tied up or struggling, her mouth a pained ‘O’. She chokes on him as he pumps into her. And even after he comes, he wants more and he takes more. The beautiful passage to her womb painted with her blood and…

Angel comes, thick spurts over his belly and chest. There’s no relief in it, just more guilt.

There’s always lots of that to go around.

*

Buffy brings more blood. It’s never enough, but he doesn’t tell her. He can’t imagine what it must be like for her- to go to the butcher and ask. But she does it. Delivers it with a tentative smile, her fingers brushing against his when she hands him the bag.

“Thank you,” Angel says.

Buffy nods.

She’s wearing doe-coloured suede pants and a white sweater, cut low enough that Angel can see the swell of her teenaged breasts. Even though it’s warm out, Angel can see her puffy nipples: not quite hard.

He places the bag on a table and turns back to Buffy.

“Can you stay?” he asks.

“Should I?”

That’s a good question. The answer in no, but Angel says: “Yes.”

Buffy smiles and steps further into the room.

“I brought my homework,” she says, shrugging one shoulder to indicate the bag. “I have to write an essay on Caesar. You knew him, right?”

*

She is asleep on his couch. For a long time, Angel is content to watch her slow, even breath, the dark crescents of her eyelashes still against the tender space beneath her eyes, the dip of her waist before the flare of her hip.

Angel closes his eyes.

Is there any truth to the saying ‘you always want what you can’t have’? Is that why he’s always aching to touch her? Because he knows he shouldn’t.

Buffy moans and Angel opens his eyes. She’s twisted on the couch and Angel can see the plump curve of her breast; its smooth, milky skin. He slides silently across the room and kneels beside her.

Her pulse jumps in her throat. Slayer blood. Angel has a horrible flash of memory: Spike standing in the middle of the riot in China, his chin smeared with Slayer blood, his eyes lit up with its borrowed (and temporary) power. When the memory fades he discovers Buffy awake and watching him.

“Angel?” she says.

“I’m okay.”

But he’s not.

*

They patrol at night. This used to be their time. They’d cram so much into a single night: dust a few vamps, share a few secrets, kiss each other as though kissing was enough.

And it might have been enough. Once. But not anymore.

Now when Angel kisses Buffy he thinks about the way she hesitated just before she touched his cock the very first time, the way her eyes asked is this all right, the way her hands curled around the blankets on the bed when he pressed his mouth to her cunt- the sweet, mossy heat of her. He thinks about her breasts, the flat disks of her nipples, so pale and perfect, knotting with pleasure against his palms and tongue. He thinks about waiting, poised, and her face, hopeful and afraid and ready and her lips, moist where she licks them and the snap of her muscles around him when he pushes inside of her for the first (and only) time.

Every kiss they share now is weighted with memory.

“Quiet,” she says, breaking the silence.

“What?” he replies.

“I just said it was quiet. All the vamps must be on that bus tour to Transylvania.”

“That tour’s a rip off,” Angel says, his mouth quirking.

“Aha,” Buffy smiles. “You were paying attention.”

“To you? Always.”

“You’re sweet. A lousy liar but--”

Buffy stops and turns to face him.

“Everything’s different, isn’t it?”

Angel looks at the ground.

“Angel.” She whispers his name and it guts him.

“Not the way I feel about you,” he says. That’s the truth.

“Usually about now though, we’d be leaning up against ol’ Mr. Tuttle over there,” Buffy says.

“I know.”

“You don’t want to?”

Angel lifts his hand and touches Buffy’s cheek.

“More than anything,” he says.

*

Every time Buffy is near, Angel is overwhelmed with the urge to break her, to cut himself on her bones, to mix his blood with hers and keep her close forever.

He gets stronger every day, drinks what she brings and trains with her and patrols and tries to pretend that this second chance is meant for them as much as it is meant for him.

It was bad enough before, now it is excruciating.

*

She comes to the mansion again. This time she snuggles under his arm and the smell of her, something sweet and powdery, drifts up.

She tells him about school and graduation and what she dreams of and he thinks, suddenly, of the notebook she’d left behind one day, the lopsided heart with their names written inside: Buffy and Angel 4eva.

He will break her heart.

He pulls her closer, presses his lips to the crown of her head.

Hell, it turns out, is right here on earth.

The End

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