In A Position to Let Me Know

by Tango

Please feedback at Tangofic@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: All the characters are based on the television shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I do not own them, get money for writing about them and have no permission from Joss Whedon or anyone else who might care. Okey dokey?
Rating: This fiction is rated NC-17, so anyone who is too young, impressionable or otherwise easily offended, please read no further.
Spoiler: Up to S6

Moving right along. . . .

***

The Call

People crowded into The Bronze, swarming every inch of the dance floor, filling every table, taking up every bar stool. Buffy was feeling confident, having dusted three vamps, put Dawn to bed and now had time to hang with some of her friends. She strode into the bar, her head held high, feeling almost good for a second, for the first time since her mom died. She brushed away her thoughts of guilt. It seemed wrong to be out having fun, but it was just one evening to attempt to be normal, if only for a few hours.

She found Anya, Xander, Willow and Tara taking up a table, all holding plastic blue cups and seemed to be in a heated debate about something. Xander stood up when Buffy came, "Here Buff, sit here. There's no room for men folk to sit at this table anyway. These violent femmes are about to draw circles and call up D'Hoffryn with An."

Buffy sat down with a smile and shook her head, as Xander stalked off to get a chair.

Willow smiled at Buffy, "I think we're releasing a little more estrogen than usual tonight."

"Xander will appreciate my female wiles later tonight," Anya said with a dignified smile. Buffy still wanted to laugh at half of the things that Anya said. She made sex with Xander sound like the Olympics. Wow, bad visual place. Buffy shook off her thoughts of Anya and Xander in bed and let them drift to thoughts of Riley being gone, Angel being gone and her being all alone. Another thought to shake off.

"The Bronze is hoppin' tonight. What's up with that? I mean, it's Thursday," Buffy said, looking around at the abnormally large crowd - even for The Bronze.

"Cibo Matto is here tonight," Willow announced with a gleeful voice and the clapping of hands, to which Xander who had just pulled up a chair announced, "Oh goody, more women."

"They have a guy," Buffy retorted.

"A guy. One guy. Uno guy. All alone to be ganged up on by his female companions later," Xander whined.

"I would think you would like that idea," Anya said smiling.

"Okay," Xander said, holding up his hands, "I'm for having a new conversation."

"I second that," Willow said, turning her attentions to the stage as the band started their first song, quieting the din in the room. Buffy was lost in the music before they got to the chorus. It was the song that she danced to with Xander on her "bitca" night. The night that she blew off Angel and told him she didn't trust him, that she had moved on. What a lie that was.

She shot a glance at Xander who was currently sneaking a look at her and they noticed that Willow was looking at both of them. They all began to laugh in spite of themselves.

"I knew I'd never hear the end of this," Buffy muttered under her breath.

"But no one said anything," Willow said.

"Yet," added Xander with a grin.

"About what?" Anya asked, looking the three of them.

"Yes. What's so funny?" Tara asked.

"Don't you even," Buffy warned.

"Later," Willow and Xander said simultaneously to their significant others.

Buffy turned in a mock huff but was smiling a real smile for the first time in months. What a difference a non-demon (almost) night out with the Scooby Gang could make. But the music took her back to that dance, that "mating ritual," on that long ago night when she knew she loved Angel but had no idea how much. Her fear of demons and darkness and death came to a roaring head that night and much of the suffering fell upon Angel and her friends. Coming second to the fear she had of the control that the Master had over her was the fear of how much control Angel already had over her at that early point their relationship. The movements of her body that night were for Angel and Angel alone. She couldn't help but shudder when she thought of the pain she had caused Angel, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Giles and even Ms. Calendar that night. The thought of being without Angel at that time was frightening. She had no idea what was to come. She was glad she didn't know then what she knew now.

Her thoughts turned to him and her body began responding to a vampire who wasn't even there as she directed her eyes at the dark haired girl singing soothing words over a smooth beat. She went along with it, she let her body ache for him and she caressed him in her thoughts. For the first time in years, all of her being cried out for Angel. Even her memories reached their skeletal fingers for her lover. In her mind, she was already gone, on her way to him, begging him to take her in his arms, pleading for him to take her hurt away, the way only he knew how. Riley had tried. Maybe too hard. He wanted so badly for her to cry on his shoulder, confide in him and let him be the love of her life, her rock, but she couldn't give that to him. She couldn't give away what already belonged to someone else. The only man who had ever filled that role was brooding or fighting or curled up with an ancient book two hundred miles away.

Two hundred miles really isn't that far when you compare the miles Angel had traveled in his two and half centuries. Los Angeles was a little hop away. Sunnydale to the big city was a small jump, where completely focused on killing a Mucus Demon, Angel felt a twinge. His soul nudged a bit and after killing the beast, he walked slowly home. For the first time in a long time, he was entirely unaware of his surroundings. He was in Sunnydale with Buffy as he meandered towards the hotel. If he hadn't known better, he would have sworn that she was calling him home.

The closer he got to his home in the hotel, the closer his mind got to his home in Sunnydale with Buffy, which was the only true home he had ever known. Being in the arms of his lover, kissing the lips of The Slayer was far more home than Galway had ever been, more home than Master Liam had ever known.

Those two hundred miles seemed so far to the two soulmates. Driven by time and circumstance, they stood at separate poles, calling out to each other. That night when the two found their neatly made beds, they both ceremoniously removed each piece of clothing from their bodies, as if they were undressing for their beloved. In their separate beds, their thoughts intertwined with one another, so entangled that for a great portion of the night they both laid in their beds feeling the lips of their lover on their skin, feeling the tiny hairs rise on the back of their necks, hearing the soft whispers in their ears.

Buffy found herself needing to reach out for him and when she opened her eyes, she was almost surprised he wasn't there. He felt so close that she was sure he was right next to her. It was the same feeling that she used to have when she turned and found him near. Angel's aura wasn't as taciturn as he was. It was pronounced. It projected. It screamed some nights the same way his silence sometimes did. She remembered the hum of his hands on her body, his gentle kisses and his not so gentle ones. She smiled up at her ceiling, standing its post in the darkness, remembering the day before they made love when he spun her around and into his arms, showing his need for her, his predatory want of her body. She was sure that he was an inch from taking her to bed that sunny morning, from sweeping her off her feet and carrying her to his crimson sheets. Under the covers, beneath the light sheet, her naked body squirmed at the thought of his touch on her body. Decades of time passed with him inside her, exploring her insides. Just those moments of him filling her, taking the virginity that was rightfully his, she knew that no other man would make her feel the way that he did. With Angel she wasn't a freak, a slayer, a superhero and she didn't have to be brave or say the thing that made everyone else feel like everything was going to be okay. With Angel, she could be weak, she could cling to his strong muscular chest, bury herself in his arms and be a beautiful, normal girl. For everyone else, she was one with the night, she combed the streets and rid the world of evil so that during the day, people could pretend nothing was amiss. Only with Angel could she be light. For Angel she was the day wrapped in one small, strong, perfect form. With Angel she knew that someone else was part of the darkness. She didn't have to walk through it alone.

Reaching down and letting her hands move over her body, she felt like he was already inside her, claiming her for his mate. She thought of him making love to her and let her hands slide further down to touch that place where she burned for him. Her mind flashed postcards from the past, signed by Angelus and with those visions she ripped her hands away and out from underneath the covers. She jumped out of bed and dressed, leaving her house in search of the hunt. She had to get Angel out of her mind. She had to get away from Angelus. She knew those thoughts. She remembered the ache that took years to bury just an inch further beneath her skin. Rushing out in search of demons to kill, she tried to think of anything but his large hands on her body, the rustle of his clothes when he moved and the sound of his voice when he said her name- always completely, always "Buffy," never cutting it short. Just like everything else with Angel, he never did it half way. He either loved you or he didn't, he was either there or he wasn't, he either held you close to him forever or he walked away. Every thought came back to him and she was trapped in a maze of long narrow lanes, each twist in the labyrinth leading to him, each another dead end with memories of Angel.

Angel was making love to Buffy in his dreams as he had a million times before but tonight he was in union with her thoughts, he was caressing her body as she dreamed he was caressing it. His fingers were wrapped in the loops of her hair and his arms were guarding her from her fears. His mating dance with his love formed arcs of want and need and lust and love over the space between Los Angeles and Sunnydale. A rope of spiritual connection wove its way from vampire to slayer and back again, streaming past the couldn't have's, the never were's and the what if's. The vampire too found himself lost in memories of her in his arms, memories of being a real person, of being loved unconditionally in spite of his mistakes and imperfections, in spite of his evil, unredeemable past. He knew that he was a demon, a sub-human but he was lost in the heart of goodness and light. In her eyes, his vampire visage was a tool for a hero, not the mask of the undead. He was worthy in her eyes and when he was before her gaze he almost believed that he had the worth that projected from her love. He found himself dreaming of things that could never be; of children and diapers and martial bliss. He found himself dreaming of things that might be, things that gave him hope, things that were dangerous for him.

The exact moment that Buffy sat up in bed, consumed by Angel and trying to escape him, Angel rose with her and dressed as well. He was going to her, chasing her as she was running away. He climbed in his car and headed home, unable to turn from the deafening sound of his lover's call.

***

Sleeping Beauties

Buffy's search for violence was fruitful but only after a long search of the streets of Sunnydale. Most of the vampire population, which was plentiful, had already hunted and was back at the crypt with visions of fresh blood dancing in their heads. Buffy combed the streets in search of something to kill, something that would kill the ache inside her, something that would kill the ever growing feeling of Angel from wrapping itself through her body. Eyeballs to entrails, as Spike would say, she felt him coming. She knew he was answering her call, the call that she had long kept silent. The call that brought him back from hell was bringing him to the Hellmouth and quickly.

She smiled when she saw them. They were taunting a girl, teasing her with the blood of her already dead boyfriend, raising her fear to make the blood sweeter. She took the first quickly and by surprise, giving the girl an order to run and turned to face her distractions for the evening. The second and third flew at her at once and were easily dodged by the slayer. They were clumsy and not well trained as far as vampires go and she giggled thinking that were probably trained by Harmony. The second practically offered himself on a platter with his wide arched punches and unbalanced kicks. She toyed with him for a few moments, not wanting the distraction to end so quickly but took him almost as fast as the first. She almost felt cheap because they were so easy.

Buffy's roundhouse centered directly in the solar plexus of the third vamp. He flew back into the air, landing with a thud on his back as he slid several more feet down the alley behind The Bronze. Tossing her stake like a dagger, it sank into the third vampire's heart and exploded into dust with the demon. Slayer sense tingling, she felt another vampire behind her. Muscles tensed to turn and fight again, the realization hit her and she froze. Muscles still tensed, she held her breath.

He was there, standing behind her. If he had breath, it would be caressing her neck, but the feeling of him, his aura, painted her back with brutal strokes instead. His presence was almost violent after so long and she trembled. She could feel that familiar hum in his fingers as he threaded his large hand under her arm to smooth it over her tight stomach. She let out the breath she was holding when he pulled her back against him, wrapping his other arm around her. She closed her eyes, relishing in the feel of him.

He was damned from the moment he allowed himself to touch her. He pulled her back, lacing himself around her. No other woman fit into his arms like she did, no other creature fell against his frame and melded into him. There were no other women, no other memories, no other lovers but what he held here. Centuries of sex with other women could not compare to the way she released her breath, her hot life brushing his cold flesh. Her heart pounding in her strong little chest raised its rate for him and he knew he could stand there just like that for centuries holding her if it meant just a second of knowing she was his again.

She pivoted in his embrace until she faced him, her large green eyes digging into his deep brown ones. He bent to kiss her, allowing himself just that one little pleasure and she let own a tiny moan. He prayed to God that when she moaned that way it was only for him. Damn it, today it was. Today she was threading her fingers through his hair. Her lips were so soft and warm against him and he pulled her in tightly, more tightly than what would have been acceptable with a normal human. It should have cracked her ribs when he pulled her in, his large hand spanning the small of her back, pushing his tongue inside her sweet mouth, seeking access to the place he dreamed of at the dead of night when his world could safely turn back to her memory. She pulled at him with just as much aggression, diving into his cool mouth, delighting in the feel of his body responding hers as the kiss deepened.

She felt him begin to pull away and a small whine escaped her lips.

"Buffy, we shouldn't. . ."He began, with a shake of his head.

"No, Angel," she said, closing the distance between them, "Don't say that. Don't say anything. Just kiss me."

He began to open his mouth to speak again but she silenced him with a desperate kiss. He couldn't pull away again, he only had enough for that one time. It was like that every time. When it came down to fight or flight, Angel always flew away and Buffy did not follow. She tried so many times but she couldn't take the rejection he dealt – not rejection from Angel. But tonight, she did follow. If only she had known that all those years, that he could not have kept fighting, then she could have stopped him from leaving. He would not have been able to leave if she had held him like this one more time.

They melted into each other and that nagging feeling came again. It was the moments when they touched, when they were near each other that the true meaning of soulmate became a puffing giant, swallowing them up. The uncertainty of what was right and wrong disappeared in the new creature that they created and it knew that there was only one place these two souls could be whole and that was with its other half. This new Soul knew the only truth that Buffy and Angel could not logically accept; the pain would never stop if they continued to remain separated and broken. The magick the Soul wove around them was supernatural. The joining in love of vampire and slayer misted in the elements and became.

Buffy and Angel drained away the minutes in each other's arms, letting the Soul take control for just a little longer. When the kiss was broken, Buffy was the one to break it. She laid her head on his broad chest and listened to the heart inside, the one that wasn't beating. There were times in the past when he held her against him like this that she was sure she heard it beat, she knew it had, just once. She took his hand in hers and they walked in silence toward her house. Each step seemed to pull him away from her, each step was closer to the part when he would say goodbye and leave again. She held onto him more tightly as they neared the house.

He was glad that she hadn't asked why he had come even though they both knew why he was there and why he would have to leave again. Angel wasn't afraid of very many things but this woman terrified him. The Slayer had a control over him that made his free will a puppet and she an unknowing marionette. Her eyes told him more in seconds than entire nights with others could not reveal. He feared her love for him, her need to be with him and most of all his need and love for her. He couldn't stand the look on her face when he said he had to leave but that only came second to what he knew could happen should he choose to stay. The best case scenario was her living her life in the dark with no walks in the sun, no children, no grandchildren, just a demon lover to watch her whither and die. That was the best case scenario, the one where she lived past 25, the one where he didn't turn into Angelus, the one where the day didn't come that he had to watch her love for him turn to hate because he wasn't a human man that could give her everything she needed. The helplessness he felt when he had those thoughts were the kind that twisted inside him and created a vacuum of pain that no amount of brooding or helping the hopeless could tame.

"Buffy, I should–"

"Stay," she finished, "you should stay with me, just until I'm asleep." He looked into her eyes shining in her porch light and noticed for the first time the dark circles that rounded her eyes. She hadn't been able to sleep a whole night since her mom died. The world didn't feel safe anymore. Nothing felt safe. He knew he had to go in. He followed her into the house, where Spike had fallen asleep in the living room in front of the "telly" having had Dawn duty for the evening. Angel watched as Buffy turned off the television and turned out the light. A gnawing bit of jealousy began to eat at him as she covered Spike with a blanket and stopped to make sure the shades were closed tight so the morning sun would not harm him. Angel swallowed his thoughts, most of which involved killing Spike, brushed away his look of displeasure and followed her up the stairs. He didn't trust Spike but he liked that he was keeping Dawn safe and allowing Buffy to have that peace of mind.

After checking on Dawn, Buffy led him into her bedroom and quietly closed the door. She checked the shades just in case Angel should decide to stay and she sat on the bed while he watched her closely. She removed her socks and shoes and took off her sweater, leaving her only in a tank top that flashed her kissable belly button. He could see clearly her braless nipples pressing against the snug fabric. She left on her body hugging pants and looked up at him. He shrugged out of his leather jacket, lowered himself slowly to the bed and took off his boots, repeating a calming mantra in his mind. He took off his shirt, leaving on only the white tank top that covered his muscular chest. She crawled to her pillows and laid down, tugging him down with her. She snuggled into his large frame as he spooned her curves and a long drape of peace and calm wrapped around them both.

Angel looked at the clock. It was 3 AM. He made a mental note of what time he would have to leave to beat the sunrise back to L.A.. He didn't know if he would be able to when it was time to go but he laid there with her unspeaking, listening to her breathing.

"Stay with me," she whispered as she started to fall asleep. He didn't move, keeping his undead stillness in the comfort of her arms. He knew the second she felt asleep and didn't stir. He told himself that she had to be in a deep sleep before he moved so she wouldn't wake when he left. That of course, had nothing to do with why he didn't move. He knew her sleeping form better than anyone else alive or undead. Both as Angel and Angelus, he had spent a great deal of time studying her slumber. He knew her breathing when she was asleep, he knew when she had begun to dream and he knew what it took to wake her up. He knew damn well that he could leave and slam the door and she wouldn't wake. He also knew that he wouldn't have her in his arms like this for a long time and he would have to wait until the last possible moment before he would be able to tear himself from her. He wouldn't waste time that he had to link himself to the one living, breathing part of himself by trying to pry himself away too early.

He was memorizing her face again, the slight changes that had occurred in his absence. He was thinking about how perfect and beautiful she was when he started to doze. Years had passed since either one of them had been wrapped in that kind of safety, the kind of enveloping security that comes only from their true mate. Angel had planned all along to leave in the early morning hours when night still guarded him and brood his way back to L.A. but he didn't make it very far until the weariness of battle, the weariness of worry and the weariness of missing her overtook him and he fell asleep.

Perhaps the Soul-creature that Buffy and Angel created took over, maybe the Powers That Be felt it was time for a moment of redemption, maybe the wind's song put a spell on them or maybe all of those at once created a force that mere time could not hold onto, but somewhere inside that sleep an elixir was formed that bound them together more than they ever had been. Somewhere in the safety of their drowned sorrows and feelings of loss, there came a pact that morning could not break.

It was Dawn who found Angel and Buffy entangled in each other's arms in the morning. When Buffy didn't get up to see her off to school, she waltzed in Buffy's room and found them there. She stood with an eery stillness as she inspected the lovers. She had seen her sister asleep with Riley, had seen her asleep alone but never with her true love. On both of their faces was the countenance of peace and contentment that she had never seen on her sister's face and certainly never on Angel's. For the first time, the girl saw their love for what it was - destiny. She saw the perfect way that their bodies seemed to fit together, the way their touch seemed natural and forgiving and appropriate. She saw that Buffy, a girl who did not understand the meaning of the word "relaxed," looked as if she had nothing to fear, nothing to fight and no cause for alarm. Dawn understood in that one moment what no one else seemed to get - they were meant to be. She looked on for a few moments more and then, not willing to interrupt both the sleep that Buffy hadn't been getting and the comfort of their brief reunion, Dawn headed off to school without waking them.
It was Spike who found them the second time, having woken up in the late afternoon on Buffy's couch, he headed upstairs to snoop in the room of his beloved. He was shocked when he opened her door and not only found her still in her room but with Angel. He stood looking on as his Grande Sire lay wrapped in the arms of the woman he loved.

*Lucky bloody bastard,* Spike thought with disgust, as he saw how she trusted him, how her body was a part of his. He wanted to close his eyes but he couldn't tear his gaze from the same thing that kept Dawn there - Buffy was at peace, actual peace, in his arms. The same held true for Angel, who he had never seen off guard for even a second in over a hundred years. Angel didn't know peace, he didn't know happiness and the reality of the curse was finally understood by Spike. It wasn't shagging the slayer that gave him the happiness that turned him back to his true demon form, it was being one with the woman he loved. Spike now understood the curse because he had never felt that kind of love and trust. Even Drusilla hadn't been able to make him feel that way. Sure he loved the crazy, beautiful vampire, but Drusilla was not his true love and he knew it. His true love was unrequited and lying in the arms of Angel, Grande Sire Poof. He had a glimpse at that moment what true happiness must be. Spike would have given up everything to know what Angel felt right then, close against Buffy's skin, feeling her breathe, knowing her love and trust without a doubt in his mind. He stared at her for a while more before the mixed feelings of love and hate slammed too hard against his chest. He grabbed the blanket that Buffy had covered him with the night before and ran out the front door to his crypt to escape the day.

When Dawn came home from school, she called out for Buffy but found no answer. She headed up to Buffy's room to check if they were there making googly eyes at each other but instead, much to her surprise, she found them just as she had left them. In fact, it didn't look like they had moved at all. In a panic, she cried out, "Buffy," from the doorway in her adolescent whine, "Buffy! Angel! BUFFY!!" Neither one of them even flinched. She ran over and tried to shake them but they didn't stir. Buffy was warm and breathing and she didn't know how to tell if Angel was alive.

Sobbing and panic-stricken, she called Giles. Within 15 minutes, Giles, along with Willow, Tara, Anya and Xander, stood by the bed as well, caught in the staring trap just as Spike and Dawn had done. It was a sight none of them could believe and none of them understood the soul-creature that was created in the union of Buffy and Angel, the creature that wound its way tightly around them and could not be broken by the arrival of day.

***

Waiting for You

Time has no meaning to a vampire. Not really. Nights blend into years and the same feelings that go unfelt in each passing day are lost in the night. Unless of course, you have a soul. Time then takes on almost human-like proportions, slowing down, taking its firm grip on your throat and making you believe that you cannot stand to live forever. Angel didn't want to be immortal. He didn't want to live forever with the guilt that stacked on top of him day after day, making his unbeating heart burn inside his chest. There could be no redemption for the things that he had done, there were no answers that would escape the darkness.

So then how did five years become so pivotal?

Well, it all started with a girl.

Over one hundred years of solitude and brooding could not make him real but the love of one girl could and did. The first thing he did was blurt out his fear and behind a mocking smirk, he knew that nothing would ever be the same. The brooding about his numerous acts of murder and mayhem as Angelus had to slide over and share the front seat with Buffy brooding. She was a sixteen year old, beautiful vampire Slayer who forgave him for being a vampire, for creating Drusilla, for being weak, for making love to her, for not being able to make love to her, for becoming Angelus, for loving her too much. She made him real the way over 240 years couldn't, the way his soul could not make him good enough until he found her.

Even when she loved him he couldn't berate himself enough for loving her, for being so weak and after Angelus came and went, a couple hundred years in hell passed by, all he knew was her name. His love for her, his absolute obsession with her could not be tamed. Even in LA, every day began and ended with thoughts of her. No torment could compare with the torment he fed himself. Knowing he could not be with her now, even if he wanted to, knowing that he could never make love to her, knowing that he could, knowing that she was in someone else's arms, that she was happy with someone else was a overflowing fountain of misery. Being glad that she found happiness and being tortured that her happiness was without him was a dichotomy that left his soul howling even in his undead vampire sleep.

Doyle had found the first hidden picture of Buffy in the current book Angel was reading that day when he had a vision of her. Doyle never really mentioned it again before he died but Angel suspected he knew that there was always a picture of her in the book he was reading. Cordelia found the second picture in an ancient text, the pages so yellowed that the title was barely legible. While looking up a demon, Buffy's visage marked the page of the Mohra demon. Cordy didn't mention it to Angel. She tried to not to mention Buffy at all if she could avoid it. She didn't find the demon she was looking for within the pages of that particular book but before reshelving it, she made sure the picture was nestled back in the pages where she found it. Barely knowing love in her short life, Cordelia didn't entirely understand that surrounded by beautiful women in the city of angels, he could only think of one and that every beautiful girl that passed him was just a shadow of his true love's perfect face. He couldn't even compare her to them and could hardly imagine her living here among these people as she once had before he was a part of her life.

The dreams of Buffy sometimes were so vivid he was sure that he would wake up as Angelus. Sometimes he dreamed of holding her and kissing her and would wake up alone with the memory of her warm mouth on his, her hot hands heating up his body. There were dreams of climbing in her window like he used to a million nights before and he would find her there in her pajamas, her hair fanned against her pillow. Unlike his Christmas dream, these had no fear of losing his soul and it always was the night before he left Sunnydale. In his dream, he rethought his decision to leave. The only fear that remained was a living creature beating at his dead chest, the fear of losing her forever. The thought of living eternity without her was more than he could stand. In his blissful sleep, he would reach down and touch her sleeping face, let his hand caress her silky skin. She would wake up when he kissed her and she would know he had returned to her, that he belonged to her again. She would return his kisses, pulling him on top of her, exulting in the feel of his weight again. Their dream kisses flew away like ravens carrying with them lonely nights filled with pain and despair. Crystallized tears exploded inside their bodies, escaping in the mist that surrounded them, healing every inch of their diseased flesh.

Angel ran his hands over her sleeping form in his dreams, gently caressing her over her clothes, urging her to wake. Tiny kisses along her smooth neck, stopping to lick the scar he marked her with and then finding his way to her delicate shoulder blade was a slow delicious process.

"I thought you left me," she whispered.

"I couldn't. I could never really leave," he whispered back before he leaned in to kiss her. In between that kiss and the next, he became unsure of why he was there, of why he was going to leave, of what he was supposed to be doing, where he was supposed to be going. She muddled his mind. So when she said, "Make love to me, Angel," in her sexy bed voice, he felt safe and he knew he could.

It was so simple to kiss that tiny bit of skin that showed between the bottom of her shirt and the top of her pants, so easy to slide the material of her camisole up to give his hands and lips access to her electric skin. Did other women taste this way, he asked himself as he took the erect nipple of her right breast into his mouth. He couldn't remember. Her fingers crawling along his back, pulling his shirt up, were heaven until she touched his bare skin. He almost lost control between the direct contact of her hands on his skin and the moan that came from her when he lost contact with her breast long enough to toss his shirt away. He immediately swooped back down to reciprocate with the left nipple.

Moving back up her body, he threw her shirt on the floor and was already connecting with her lips as it landed on top of his. His vampire senses could smell her arousal and she could feel his own arousal pressing against her. She ran her hand between them, allowing her tiny hand to trace the cut of his abs, to inch over the rim of his pants and finally finding his arousal and rubbing it through the material. It was his ragged moan that echoed through the room. With swift vampire prowess, in seconds they were both naked and gleaming with the heat of passion.

The smell of her arousal was more irresistible than blood as he settled between her muscular thighs and dipped in to taste her. Lapping up her honeyed juices, he sighed into her as she moaned and began raise her hips. Taking her swollen clit between his lips, he sucked her in and out of his mouth, concentrating on her responses. Her moans and cries, egged him on and led him through the contours of her. Her moans, rising into the ceiling and through the house, became louder as she bucked beneath his tongue and lips and teeth. She came with a violent scream of his name, shaking uncontrollably. When he looked up, he was astonished to find his love sobbing. He crawled up to take her in his arms.

"What's wrong, baby?" He said into her tousled dream hair.

"I love you," she said in a cracked voice, her eyes wide. "It's not right without you. There hasn't been one minute without you that has been right. Promise me you'll stay with me. Promise me forever, Angel."

"I promise, Buffy. I love you," he said.

"Make love to me," she said through her tears. He paused at her entrance, poised before his love, looking into her eyes for a sign that she wanted this, this action that always had consequences. Seeing none, he pressed into her, finding the key to perfect happiness nestled inside. Moving in and out of her hot depths, he moved faster and harder with the urging of her moans and cries, burying himself deeper with every thrust, they clung to each other, struggling to get closer, to somehow make it last, to join more completely. Finally inside her again, Angel would demolish his centuries of guilt and brooding, replacing his time with full hours, days, years more of happiness and freedom to love his Slayer.

Those were the dreams that threatened to destroy him. Those were the dreams that made him sleep less and less. He couldn't stop when it came to her. Shanshu was the one beam of light in the murky distance. The one slight hope that he could hold her again, but it was heavily eclipsed by the knowledge that his service was eternal, hers was not. Shanshu could be gifted to him on the day of her death for all he knew. She could get married, have children and grandchildren, die and be dust when he finally became human. He brushed away the thought that being human without her was almost as bad as remaining a vampire. How long would he have to wait and how could he be so ungrateful that he could even have these thoughts? Work was the only solution. More work and less sleep. More slaying and less of the Slayer. But then Spike came into town.

The hot pokers that Spike and his torture happy friend shoved in Angel's exhausted body were nothing compared to Spike's tale of Buffy and Parker. Spike wasn't that bright but he had listened when Angel said that you have to work from the inside to kill Buffy. It didn't take Spike long to figure out that the same held true for Angel. The thought of someone who didn't love her or appreciate her touching her made him shake with rage.

Spike made one mistake. When he told Angel of Buffy's suffering and that she had given herself to another, he thought it would break him but it didn't. The thought of someone unworthy touching her, using her and causing her pain made Angel want to live more than ever. The power his dreams of revenge gave him was almost tangible in the air. He wanted to kill that boy. He wanted to make him disappear from the face of the earth. He couldn't remember a time in his soul-having years that he wanted so badly to destroy a human life.

Angel waited and contemplated killing Parker for many weeks. He brooded about it, tried to calm himself down. He scared himself with his thoughts of destroying the little bastard that hurt his mate. Many times he tried to talk himself out of seeking retaliation for his love, many hours were spent deep in the columns of pros and cons. Logic and rational thought had no place in Buffy's pain and in the end, he could not let the deed go unpunished.

Weeks after Riley broke Parker's nose in the student lounge, Angel snuck away to Sunnydale at dusk. Claiming to be out on a case and casually remarking on the leads he planned to flesh out, he hopped in his car and headed toward the Hellmouth as if to avert the apocalypse. His animalistic love of the hunt took over as he lurked in the shadows of Parker Abram's dorm. He waited for him to leave the large brick building and then stalked him as Parker walked happily through the quad. Parker's light spirits and obvious carefree walk, made Angel shake with rage. How dare he be so happy and free of pain when he had hurt Buffy. Realizing Parker was about to pick up his latest conquest, Angel knew he had to get to him before there was another hurt and used young woman. Putting on his most charming smile, Angel approached Parker on a dark campus path.

"Excuse me," Angel said, smiling, "Are you Parker?"

"Um, yeah. What's up, man?" Parker said, looking nervous.

"I wanted to talk to you about Buffy Summers."

"You her boyfriend or something?" Parker asked, "Cause she said she wasn't dating anyone."

"I'm not her boyfriend," Angel growled. Angel's fist struck Parker's face so hard that they both heard his jaw snap. Angel crossed over to where Parker had landed and roughly pulled him to his feet.

"How dare you touch her! How dare you use her! You need to learn some manners boy," Angel said as he punched him again and let the enjoyment of the abuse cloak him.

"I'm sorry, man," he mumbled through his broken jaw and bloodied face. Angel picked him up again and held him dangling a foot off the ground. With his hand around Parker's throat, he had several enraged seconds where he didn't know if he would be able to spare the boy's life. Long, drawn out seconds passed as Angel tried to gain control of the rage that he never had to control anymore. Pictures of Buffy's pained face and tear stained cheeks tore at him but thoughts of her anger and hatred for this violence finally made him decide to walk away.

"Let me make myself very clear. If you ever cause her a second's more pain, I will come back and I will kill you. And I will enjoy it." Dropping him to the ground and leaving him there broken and bleeding, Angel made his way off of campus and back to his car. He made his way swiftly. He knew that he could not risk seeing Buffy or her seeing him. He knew that if he got too close she would feel him. If he got too close, he might not be able to go. He had already let himself lose enough control for the evening.

His dreams of Buffy had returned with a sweltering heat after he had paid Parker that little visit but he had been able to deal with those. They were nothing to the dreams that came after Buffy came to LA and the Mohra demon made him mortal. Those hours of making love to her, the guilt-free happiness were memories that scraped at his insides.

***

Still Needing Back Story Here

When Angel traded his humanity for Buffy's life, the Oracles were right, he did give up every drop of human happiness and love that he had ever known. He gave everything up for her life but he knew there was no other decision. She was his life.

Memories of her listening to his heart beat, enjoying food and sunshine with her, making love to her again and again, were tormenting him. The dreams of her were back and were getting worse, night after night. Each evening, Angel laid wide awake in bed thinking of her, trying not to think of her and failing. Eventually, his body won over the fight and he fell asleep, entering a dream world spun with webs of memories mixed with fantasies of his beloved, tormented and filled with pleasure at the same time, his sleep was the one thing he looked forward to and the one thing he dreaded. The main difference was in the past, his dreams were about his leaving and what might have happened if he had chosen to stay. These new dreams were about his return and what would happen should he choose to return to Sunnydale.

During waking hours, he knew he needed to stay away from her, keep from talking to her and it all would have worked out if Faith hadn't come to LA. If Faith had continued to lay in her coma, peaceful and away from him, then Buffy wouldn't have followed Faith to Angel's house. He wouldn't have known that Buffy had fallen in love with Riley, she wouldn't have seen Faith in Angel's arms, he wouldn't have hit her, yelled at her and he would have had more time to heal. But all that did happen and he had to go to Sunnydale once more. The hurt look on her face was more than he could stand and he came a millimeter from falling to his knees and begging her forgiveness, begging her to take him back, to love him again. But Riley's intrusion broke him from those heartsick thoughts and he was flung headlong into male pride, a testicular showdown.

Returning again for her mother's death, she kissed him with a passion and need that left him in a tumultuous whirlwind of questions and answers, actions and consequences. He spent several days carrying her kiss on his lips and her need in his mind. He might have been able to stay away if she hadn't been calling him that night. Her silent pleas reaching across the miles were more than he could resist. Being without her was the kind of torture he could endure but he was powerless to her calls so within weeks of her mother's funeral, he was in Sunnydale again. This time to reclaim his mate.

He felt Sunnydale before he reached it. The Hellmouth and Buffy were a beacon calling to him, a mixture of darkness and light becoming a more irresistible lure even when he was miles outside of town. Memories of their time together bombarded him as he drove into town. His car seemed wrong there somehow, as if he could sink in more memories and feeling if he was on foot. So he parked his car about a mile from The Bronze and began to walk. He knew she was there near the club but he wanted to walk the rest of the way, mentally preparing himself for her assault on his senses. If his heart could beat, it would have been thumping wildy in his chest as he came closer and closer to his mate. She was there and alive and his feet following the sound of her screaming presence, starting to pick up the pace with each step that led him closer to her. He was at an undead, silent run when he reached her and ground to a halt before his love and the demons she was battling.

He rested against the wall in the shadows watching her move. Her skills had improved greatly from the last time he had seen her fight. Her movements were poised, fluid and rhythmic. She was poetic. A swift blind verse stanza. God, she was beautiful. He watched, forcing himself to stand back rather than jumping in the fray, as she fought the three of them, taking them in rapid succession. They were young, that he could see clearly. Without question all three of them didn't add up to him. Another piece of immortality floating in the wind.

*Stupid children,* he thought. If they were members of his gang, when he had one, he would have taught them better than that. Even Spike could have told them that flanking a Slayer was a craft and that it takes more than mere numbers to take her. Watching her fight the young idiots, gave him a chance to watch her without fearing for her safety. He could plainly see that they were no match for her. He took in her body, allowed himself to study her. Her movements were too perfect, too trained. She was in pain. Riley left her, her mom died and now Dawn was in danger. Was he what she needed? He mulled it over as she killed the second childe of darkness. If he turned away now, if she needed him and he wasn't here, he knew he wouldn't be able to forgive himself, but if his presence hurt her even more, would there be forgiveness then?

She had killed the third. There was no more decision to be made now because she had felt him at last. She knew he was there. With his presence known, there was no other action but to do what he had come to do - offer himself to her, beg for her mercy, let it be known that he still belonged to her and would forever be her soulmate. At the same time, he wasn't sure was he was going to do. He had to return to LA that night, he had obligations there. At the same time, he knew he wouldn't be able to leave. He crept up behind her even though he knew she already sensed him. He stood behind her for a second, letting her absorb his closeness as he absorbed hers. Then without another moment's hesitation, he reached out and wrapped his arms around her. How did he plan to stay with her when he knew he had to leave? How could he beg her to take him back so that he could leave without making love to her, without holding her through the night, without being by her side? He lost those thoughts in her arms. LA and his life there seemed a lifetime away.

The despair and anguish left him so quickly, it was almost disturbing. It was a soundboard of reality, reminding him how he had lost his soul in the first place. He thought about taking a deep breath of unneeded air, he thought about keeping her fused against him forever, he thought about asking her to kill him now. Instead she turned and kissed him.

***

Controlled Circumstances

Giles' brow knitted as he looked over Buffy and Angel. It didn't seem right for everyone to be standing around the sleeping lovers, seeing them as no one should see them. He thought about how Buffy might react if she were to wake up and find them all standing over them and yet he couldn't turn away. He removed his glasses, cleaned them and returned them to his face, as was the custom when things were out of control. His sight hadn't improved, Buffy and Angel were still lying there.

Giles walked slowly from one side of the bed to other and back again, inspecting them closely, looking for clues to the current mystery that daunted him. No one mentioned the fact that they were fully clothed but all took note and were relieved. Giles looked over the skin that was exposed for any sign of struggle or markings made for spells and found none. He noticed little things that were of no help at all: that they had very obviously taken off part of their clothes in a deliberate manner. He could see by the way things were carefully set aside and the neatness of the bedclothes, that they had simply laid down on the bed to sleep.
Angel's arms were wrapped around his slayer, one of his large hands spanning her tight, bare belly and her hand was on top of his. She held on to him and he to her in a tight embrace, trying to keep the other from slipping away in the night. Buffy's blonde hair fanned the pillow and Angel's face was against her hair, as if taking in the smell of her. They were cocooned together in such a way that there was no space between them, no place where their bodies weren't touching. Most importantly, there were no damn clues.

Giles turned impatiently to announce to the group that he would need to consult his books, that this was unprecedented, that the watcher's diaries might have some inkling of something of this nature happening, but before he could utter the words, Dawn cleared her throat, breaking the silence and causing the group to look over at her. Dawn pointed at Buffy & Angel. "A-a-are they glowing?" Heads turned back to the bed, where, sure enough, a soft golden light circled around their recumbent forms.

"Yes," Willow said, reaching out to touch the light, "They're glowing and the light is warm," and then turning to Tara, she said, "Do you feel that?"

"The room is charged with magick," Tara said, turning around in the room with her arms out before her.

"It feels like... um..." Willow whispered, grasping for a description, "well... it feels like Love." They all stared in awe as Buffy and Angel glowed a golden light. They all stumbled from the room feeling intoxicated by the power of the light emitting from them. The feeling the light gave them, the lightness and peace it projected, stayed with them long after they had left the room.

As Dawn sat keeping a vigil over her sister and Angel, they headed across town to Giles' apartment where the Scooby gang went into full research mode. Xander went for refreshments with Anya and they returned disheveled and grinning with more donuts than were needed.

Flipping through random texts, they all searched for something that could explain the phenomena. Willow stood up and set down her book, "I should call Wesley and Cordelia and tell them what's going on." She picked up the phone and dialed, listening to it ring. After the third ring, Cordy picked up the phone, "Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless."

"Cordy, it's Willow."

"Hey, Willow. What's up?"

"Well, it's kinda hard to explain but did you know that Angel was coming to Sunnydale?"

"He's there! Thank God, we have been calling and calling but he hasn't answered his cell phone and I'm so glad – oh wait.... Oh God, did something happen? Is everyone ok? Did they get pelvic again? Is Angelus back? Oh–"

"Cordelia..." Willow said, "wait... no, it's nothing like that– Cordelia, Angelus is not back. Calm down."

"Well, tell me what happened then!" Cordelia shouted into the phone with Wesley and Gunn congregated around her trying to hear what was being said on the other end of the line.

"Well, we're not sure what happened but we came over cause Dawn found Buffy and Angel asleep in Buffy's room and we can't wake them up... and they're glowing. We're researching now to try and find out what happened."

"Are they naked?" Cordelia asked, shuddering at the thought.

"No, they're dressed. They're just sleeping. It's weird. We'll keep you posted on what we find out. I just wanted to let you know that he was here and that we're not sure when he'll be back."

"Well, keep some freshly sharpened stakes around for when he wakes up and tries to kill you."

"He's NOT Angelus, Cordy."

"Well, whatever. If you wake up in the morning and find yourself dead, just remember that I told you so." Willow hung up the phone, shaking her head and sat back down to the pile of books that the gang was buried in.

"What the hell are we looking for anyway?" Xander complained into his book, "Spontaneous Sleeping or better yet, Spontaneous Glowing? Or do you people think it would be better to look under coma?"

"Xander, do shut up," Giles muttered without looking up from his book, "Your sarcasm is not helping the situation."

"I'm just tired of the whole world falling apart whenever Dead Boy walks into a room. I don't know about you people but I'm going to look under Sleeping Beauty and the Beast," Xander muttered into his own text. The rest of the group continued to ignore him as they searched through the texts for anything remotely connected with the odd occurrences. Calls to Dawn and Spike back at the house, announced that Buffy & Angel continued their odd slumber without any movement.

Twenty four hours passed and no one was any closer to finding the cure. Giles went over to the Summers' house and all was quiet on Revello Drive. Buffy slept as fitfully as Giles' suspected she ever had. Angel's undead slumber, however, would have been unnerving if it weren't from the tireless glow that surrounded the two. And somehow, Angel's large hand spanning the whole of Buffy's tiny womb made her seem safer somehow. The light was effecting him, he knew, but the erupting calm and warmth was nearly as unbearable as it was beautiful. Only Dawn seemed to be able to handle it for long periods of time. Spike could only stick his head in now and again to check on the Nibblet and then he was forced to retreat to safer parts of the house. The contentment coming from the pair was enough to make him crumble.

Back at his flat, the Scoobies were in full study swing, somehow untired by the sessions this time. Willow and Tara were huddled in a corner poring excitedly over a thick ancient text. Giles' made his way to them and took off his glasses to clean them, "Have you girls found anything?"

"We think we might have," Tara said in her low, sweet voice. The heads of the rest of the gang, snapped up and over to the two witches, wide eyed and attentive.

"Well, by all means," Giles said with a flutter of his hand, still holding his glasses.

"There's a fairly well known prophecy in the Wiccan history of two who are wakened by slumber," Willow announced, "It never really made sense. How can someone be wakened by slumber? Anyway, as I was flipping through this book as sort of a last ditch effort, I stumbled upon it and I remembered the vague references to it."

"We gathered a couple of other texts," Tara continued, "And it seems to fit with the situation."

"I remember hearing of it before I even became a demon," Anya said from across the room, "Strange that I didn't think of it except that I never met a witch that really understood what it was about or what it was for." Anya, for once, seemed to understand entirely what was happening. The severity of the happenings were made apparent, but Xander was still very confused. He stood and walked over to them, as if he would understand if he were closer, "So what's the deal? How do we wake them up?"

"It took awhile to piece it all together from various sources," Willow began, "But what we came up with is..." she said, reading from the book, "Two of matching souls, kindred mates of the flesh and spirit, who cannot find their way are sealed in slumber that no light or darkness can break and in them is formed the bond that makes the broken healed and the torn mended. With the force of bared teeth and the will of the forgotten base, they will force away that which has been unable to be claimed."

Giles was already leafing through the other texts scattered around Willow and Tara as she read, "Very nice translation Willow," he said when she had finished, "But what does it say about them waking up?"

"That's the problem, Giles, it doesn't," Willow said and looked to Tara who nodded in agreement.

"Both the Druidic and the Wiccan prophecies mention it and neither," Tara said, handing Giles another text, "say how it ends."

"Damn," Giles said, "With Glory after Dawn and all her minions sniffing around us, it is only a matter of time before they find out that something is wrong with the Slayer. Keep looking," he ordered them and they all refocused their energy on the new prophecy.

***

Inside their sleep, Buffy and Angel felt like they were moving and living. It never occurred to them to try to wake up because they didn't know that they were asleep. Inside their sleep, they dreamt that they woke up. Buffy was the first to wake up inside their dream, still laying in the bedroom in Angel's arms. His hand held her snugly against him and she had a maneuver quite a bit to turn around and face him. She sighed and touched his sculpted face and traced the firm line of his jaw. She had forgotten just how beautiful he was... the one with the angelic face. She leaned into him and gently kissed his cool lips. She smiled into his room temperature embrace and kissed him again. He fluttered awake and smiled back, capturing her lips and slipping his tongue inside her warm mouth.

"You stayed," she whispered into his kisses.

"I couldn't leave," he whispered hoarsely back.

"Good," she said, snuggling into him. He pulled her closer, held her tighter, wanting to pull her inside himself so that she could never escape or rather, so he couldn't.

"It's day," she moaned into his neck, "You can't escape."

"I don't want to," he said, kissing the top of her tousled head.

"I know," she answered, "but eventually night will come again and you will."

"I don't know if I can," he said, pulling back enough to look into her eyes. A nagging part of him knew that there wasn't enough pain here for this to be real. It didn't hurt enough for him to be awake but God, he could see her and touch her and smell her all at once. She was here in his arms and real. There was no pain here just the knowledge of what was to come.

"You know you will," she said, while she began to trail tiny kisses on the marble column of his neck.

"Maybe night will never come," he answered, allowing his hand and slide down her back and up again.

"Can we keep it at bay forever, Angel?"

"We can do anything, love."

"Can you make love to me?"

"Yes."

***

"AHA!" Willow yelled, causing each person to jump up, "Sorry that I yelled but I needed to say AHA!"

"What's up, Will?" Xander said anxiously, "Please tell me you have found something before we have to get Buffy an IV."

"There's a ritual that can be performed," She answered, gleefully.

"But..." Tara said.

"But," Willow said, "it's difficult and requires...um....'four who have loved the two who are bound, witnesses to the past.'"

"So," Tara continued, "Willow, Xander and Giles can help but there is one person missing. In order to complete the ritual, we have to have one more person who know their love."

"Cordy," Xander said, matter of factly, and then looked at Willow, "Or Oz."

"Or Pryce," Giles added and headed for the phone.

"No," Willow said, "for the balance to be right, it has to be Cordelia." Giles nodded and picked up the phone.

***

Four hours later, Giles, Willow, Xander and Cordelia were gathered in the room. The rest of the gang congregated outside of the bedroom door, having been told not to cross the threshold of the room until the spell was completed. Everything had been pushed out of the way and the bed was pulled to the center of the room. Willow and Tara very carefully drew the pentagram over and around the lovers with the mixture they had prepared with the top of the star covered the couple to represent the fifth element - love. Each sat at the other tips of the star forming the other elements: earth, wind, water and fire.

With each having memorized their part of the incantation, the group paused with heads bowed and eyes closed, reaching emotional focus. The golden glow that filled the room wove it's way around their bodies, threading its way inside each of them. The focus that was required took many moments to capture but finally sensing everyone's balance, Willow began by speaking her section of the Latin passage. The words moved smoothly around the star leaving only the tip of love unspoken for. Concentrating all of their energies on Buffy and Angel, the group spoke as one for the final passage.

***

"It's time to go, love," Angel whispered.

"I know," Buffy answered, holding onto him more tightly, "I thought we could keep them at bay."

"It's not them, baby, it's us."

"When I open my eyes, you will still be here."

"Yes."

"You can't escape now, you know."

"I don't want to escape. I want to stay."

"Then stay with me."

"Forever."

"Yes," Buffy whispered, "forever."

*** The group outside of the door watched as intently as the group inside. Focused on vampire and slayer, they all gasped when Buffy spoke her first words in 48 hours.

"When I open my eyes, you will still be here," she whispered to him. With breath sucked in, they all strained to hear his whispered reply.

"Yes."

"You can't escape now, you know," Buffy whispered again, floating closer towards consciousness. The golden light swirled around them in a magnificent display.

" I don't want to escape. I want to stay."

"Then stay with me."

"Forever," Angel whispered into her hair. She turned to face him and as they kissed, the golden light broke silently away.

"Yes," Buffy whispered into his lips, "Forever." Giles, Willow, Xander and Cordelia stood up simultaneously and towered over the bed. With tear stained cheeks, Buffy & Angel looked around them.

"Welcome back," Cordy said, smiling.

"Thought we lost you there for a moment," Giles added. Unbidden, the rest of the group filed into the room.
***

Poetic in a Maudlin Sort of Way

Buffy and Angel sat up and looked around the room. They noticed the signs of the ritual and the aches in their bodies, announcing that they had been prone for a much longer time that usual.

"I feel...different," Buffy said, searching his eyes for recognition.

"Me too," he replied as she gasped a breath of relief.

"Tell me," Buffy said, silently begging him to release all the words she had dreamed of hearing.

"I don't think leaving was a mistake, Buffy, if that's what you want me to say," he said looking intently in her eyes until she dropped her gaze to the bed, "But," he said, lifting her chin, "I do think it would be a mistake not to come back. We needed to know what would be lost and gained by being apart. We needed to experience being without each other before we could truly be together."

"You're an asshole," she said, tears welling in her eyes.

"But you love me," he said, grinning.

"Yeah. I do," she said, placing a gentle kiss on his lips even as the tears slipped down her cheeks, "You can't escape now, you know."

"I don't want to escape. I want to stay."

"Finally!" she shouted.

***

THE END - Yes, sappy, but it was my first fanfiction, you know.