Part Seven "Loveless"
breaking me apart like i'm made of glass
"Angel?" Lindsey said as he tentatively stepped into the room that was to be the master bedroom of the house once it was finished. He was surprised to see the large man slumped against the far wall gripping a bottle of whiskey. The floor was littered with shards of glass that appeared to be the remnants of a bottle matching the one he currently held.
"Lindsey," he slurred, "How ya doin' buddy?"
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Lindsey said as he entered the room. Glass crunched beneath his boots as he made his way over to Angel, "Buffy's in danger and you're here drunk?"
"She left me," he said, holding up the engagement ring for Lindsey to see and squinting into the afternoon sun as he took another swig.
"I'm sorry?" Lindsey said, clearly lost in a sea of confusion, "She left you?"
"Yep. So I thought I'd drink a little."
"Or a lot," Lindsey said as he crouched near the broken, drunk ex-fiancé of Buffy Summers, "She left you because of that fight?"
"Dunno," Angel said, shrugging his shoulders and wincing as he did, "She said she doesn't love me. She didn't even say anymore.' She doesn't love me at-fucking-all. That's what she said. Shoulda realized it long ago, she said."
"Do you believe that?" Lindsey asked. Actually, he wanted to believe it himself. He would love to believe it but he didn't - couldn't. She did love Angel. He was certain of it and all of this had to lead directly to one Billy Fordham.
"I can't believe it," he slurred, struggling to his feet, "It'll kill me if it's true. I just gotta kill Ford, that's all. Wanna come?"
"Whoa, buddy," Lindsey said, pushing Angel's shoulder and causing him to fall back against the wall.
"Right," Angel nodded, "I should sober up first. I can't hurt him a lot if there are three of him to aim at."
"This was gonna be our bedroom," Angel said matter of factly, thumping the floor with his bottle, "Our bed was gonna be right here. She liked the sun in this room. Said it was happy. It's really fucking happy, isn't it, Linds?"
"Yeah," Angel nodded and stared at him for a second, taking a drink and then a deep breath before continuing, "I don't know what to do. I called her. I went to the gallery and she made me leave. She was so cold. She wasn't my Buffy. He did somethin' to her. Went to Giles' house. I'm sure you heard of him. Rupert Giles? He's her uncle."
"Yeah," Lindsey said, "He's got a lot of pull with the city council-"
"That's the one," he said, "I like him. Good man. He told me to sod off." Angel laughed hysterically at the memory. He could remember clearly Giles' face as he told him that although he did like him, Buffy's decision was final. He was not welcome in his home or his property any longer. Lindsey stood nervously and planned his exit when Angel spoke again, "You're going to go after my girl, aren't you?"
"No," Lindsey lied, gulping air, "Of course not."
"I've seen the way you look at her. I know you want her," Angel countered. Lindsey froze as Angel slowly pulled himself to his feet. He was thankful that Angel was so drunk. It made it a lot easier for him to escape if he needed to.
"Better me, than Ford."
"That's true," Angel replied, stepping closer, "Listen to me very closely, McDonald. She's not well. Ford has taken advantage of her and fucked with her head. She needs help. I'm going help her...just as soon as I figure out how. Ford is a dead man, but you have a chance. I like you, but if you touch her I'll fucking kill you too. Got me?"
"What if she really doesn't want to be with you?" Lindsey asked coldly, "What if she really doesn't love you?"
"If that's true," Angel said, tears filling his eyes, "Then I'll walk away. I want her to be happy. That's all I ever wanted."
"You're going to need help."
"You're going to help me just so you can have a chance to be with her?" Angel asked angrily.
"Yeah," Lindsey answered. He couldn't believe he was being so honest about his motives. Maybe he was swayed by the shell of the man before him or maybe he just figured Angel wouldn't remember it tomorrow. Either way, he wanted her but only if it was really her. For the first time in a long time, he wanted to have a real relationship on the right terms. It was a slim chance, but it was worth it. Angel stared at him for a full minute before responding, "Okay."
"Need a ride home?"
"Yeah," Angel answered, "Oh and by the way, you're fired." He met Lindsey's eyes and took a deep breath, "Without Buffy, there's no house."
"You're not going to finish it?"
"I don't care if it burns to the ground," Angel said, stumbling toward the door, "It doesn't mean anything without her. Nothing does."
in my sleep, sweet child
During the first week without Angel, Buffy found that large gaps were missing from her memories. She remembered her childhood, times spent with friends and family. She remembered dating Riley and Ford and even Angel. She remembered everything but love. She couldn't feel it. She couldn't even wrap her mind around it. Love was such a foreign word in this past week even though she knew that she used to feel it. She just couldn't anymore. The missing love wasn't just for Angel, but Giles, Willow, Xander - she didn't love any of them. Not anymore. Their offered comfort didn't effect her one way or another. She was completely empty inside.
The only time she felt anything was in her dreams. Every night she fell asleep with no emotions and dreamed of what they used to be to her. The feelings were so thick they shed off her in droves of honey bees, stinging her memory again and again. Somewhere in her dreams, every night, Angel left her. His anguished face flashed before her eyes and she woke screaming and twisted in her sheets. As sleep covered her she always reached for him. In the middle of the night, she rose to find him before she remembered that she didn't remember. In the mornings she snuggled with the ghost of his love just before the sun rose.
She started dating Ford again several days later. He acted as if he expected her to feel for him. He wanted her body, mind and soul but it wasn't hers to give. It didn't seem like anything was hers anymore but time. The Friday following her break up with Angel, he took her out to dinner and then a walk through the park near the restaurant. He gently took her hand in his and she flinched from the contact.
"Are you okay, Buffy?" Ford asked, searching her eyes for the emotions that were supposed to be there. He didn't understand why she was having this reaction. She was supposed to stop loving Angel. She was supposed to be closed off from Angel, not him.
"Y-yes," she said uneasily, allowing her hand to be held but she didn't close her fingers around his. He led her to park bench and he caressed her hand as they chatted, allowing her to reacquaint herself with his touch. Finally, he slid closer and kissed her gently. She jerked away from him, surprising even herself from the reaction.
"I'm sorry," she said, bowing her head. The response was involuntary. She was attracted him and had wanted to kiss him, but his touch made her skin crawl.
"No," he said quickly, "I'm sorry. I'm rushing you. I just thought you said you were over him."
"I am," she said, rising to her feet, "It's just that...no one's touched me like that but Angel for a long time."
Lindsey held Angel back in the park, nearly unsuccessfully, as Ford started to kiss Buffy. They watched as Ford leaned in and kissed her full lips, one hand intertwined with hers and the other threading through her silky blonde hair.
"Angel," Lindsey whispered as the larger man prepared to charge in, "You have got to calm down."
"He's touching her," Angel growled.
"We're supposed to be gathering clues here. We have to find out what he's doing to her so we can help her, remember? Gunn offered to take care of this part. Maybe we should let him."
"No way," Angel said through gritted teeth, "I'm going to follow that bastard whenever he's with her. Once I find out what he's doing to her, I'm going to beat him until he stops moving."
"Maybe you should think about getting the police involved," Lindsey suggested quietly.
"How can I kill him if the police are watching?" Angel asked in a scarily serious tone, "Think, Lindsey."
i stop and kneel beside you, knowing i'll murder you again tonight
"You fucked this whole thing up!" Ford shouted as he stormed into Darla's bedroom. He was actually speaking to Penn who was lying casually in her bed, fully clothed, with his hands behind his head. Penn smiled at him as Darla cleared her throat.
"It seems to be working perfectly," Darla answered, "You're the one who is inept. All you have to do is sleep with her. It's been weeks and you haven't sealed the deal. How sad that you can't even fill your one small part in this. The sooner Angel knows she's gone, the sooner I can get him back."
"Shut up, Darla," he said, "All you ever do is talk shit! You both promised me that she wouldn't love Angel anymore, but every time I touch her she flinches. Her mind has forgotten but her skin remembers. She is supposed to love me! Do either of you recall that part of the bargain?"
"No one said anything about her loving you, but you," Penn said, rolling off the bed and landing confidently on his feet, "I told you she wouldn't love. Not you, not Angel, not at all. You just don't listen."
"You said you could make her love me!"
"No," Penn said, shaking his head sadly at the dense man before him, "You said that. I said I would keep her from loving Angel. I did that. You can brainwash the love out of the girl, but brainwashing it in is an entirely different story."
"When her and Angel are separated, then you can stop the drugs. When her emotions return and Angel is out of her life for good, then maybe she'll fall for your sorry ass," Penn said, smirking.
"I wouldn't hold my breath," Darla added, moving to stand next to Penn. Ford stared at them fuming for a moment before he started to cross the room. He wasn't sure what he planned to do once he reached them, but he wanted violence and revenge.
"Wait," Jhiera said, stepping into the bedroom and leaning against the door. Ford turned and faced her, still wanting blood.
"What? You have the solution?"
"It would be nice if any of your covered your bases," she answered, "You've been so busy watching Buffy that no one has been watching Angel. Except, of course, for me."
the need to feel again
Three weeks later, Angel was crouched in another set of bushes outside of the Giles Estate. He had been waiting for over an hour for Buffy to leave. He was more than slightly nervous about talking to Giles, not to mention leaving the watching of his love to Gunn and Lindsey, but this was one task that only he could do. He was close to changing his mind when Buffy drove out. Inching toward the closing gates, he waited until she turned the corner before slipping through and jogging up to the front door. He knocked soundly until it opened and was surprised to meet Giles rather than his butler.
"Giles," Angel said to Buffy's uncle, speaking quickly, "Please. I need to speak to you."
A long pause was returned, before Giles responded, "She doesn't love you, Angel."
"She doesn't love me either," Giles said, interrupting, "She doesn't love anyone or anything. I'm afraid she's lost to us."
"She's being drugged," Angel answered, rushing through his words, "I've been following her and Billy Fordham for three weeks. Once a week he injects her with something." Angel held out a syringe which Giles took from him with a bit of trepidation. Angel continued, looking over his shoulder, "I was hoping either you or Willow would be able to find out what this is."
"Come in," Giles said, with a grateful smile.
pushing my face in the memory of you again
When the results came back from the drug, no one was surprised. The problem was that they all said that they should call the police and legally remove Ford from the situation. Growing up on the streets, Angel was certain that the police could not keep them from continuing the treatment. If not Ford, then someone else would administer it. Angel fought with them for hours, getting nowhere, while Buffy was on yet another date with her ex-boyfriend. He tried to reason with them, explain that the only way to handle this was personally, but they were all against it. Finally, he pretended to agree and left the house, telling them that he would continue to follow Buffy while they involved the proper authorities.
The truth was that he had no intention of sitting back while her mind was messed with for one more day. He doubled back later in the evening and watched as Ford kissed her goodbye at Giles' front door. The guy was getting further with every kiss. She was starting to become comfortable with the idea of his hands on her body and Angel was getting nauseous. He waited until the house quieted down and everyone was asleep before climbing to the second floor and peering through her window.
He knew her sleep patterns better than anyone alive. He also knew that every night she called his name in her nightmares. He waited until the call came and then for the first time he moved in, gathering her into his arms. She was crying in her sleep and as she came in contact with his hard body, she calmed.
"Angel," she sighed in her sleep. She molded herself against him and murmured in voice so quiet, he nearly missed it, "Love you."
He held her, tears slipping from his eyes as he realized what she had said. She was so beautiful, felt so perfect in his arms again. He waited several long minutes, relishing in the feel of her, until he was sure she was in a deep sleep and then gathered her into his arms. Sneaking through the dark house, he made his way downstairs and out the front door with his love against his chest. He tucked his stolen goods into his car and drove to the gate. Punching in the code to the electronic security gate that he had long ago memorized, he drove out with his headlights off until he hit the street. Buffy reached for him in her sleep and sleepily released her seatbelt before crawling across the seat to tuck her head in his lap. With a contented sigh, she slept there as he drove out of the city. He didn't pause at the state line but kept driving. Far behind him, another set of headlights followed unnoticed.
Part Eight "Remember Me"
FEEDBACK: Thank you to everyone who has give me such wonderful feedback on this fic! I will be going out of town for the weekend, so I won't be posting for several days. I will try to get one more part out before I leave if time permits.
don't struggle like that or i will only love you more
Angel knew she wouldn't sleep for the entire drive, but he pressed on the gas, trying to put as many miles between them and home before she woke. She laid for hours curled up in the seat, nuzzling her cheek contentedly against his thigh. Whenever she moved at all, he held his breath and sped up, knowing when she woke he would have one pissed off little blonde on his hands. Fortunately, she hadn't been sleeping well lately, tossing and turning, waking frequently from her nightmares, so she slept for a full twelve hours before blinking awake.
It was early afternoon when she sat up, looking around her in bewilderment. She scooted across the seat, pressing her shoulder against the door as she assessed the situation. Angel looked straight ahead and kept his foot on the gas, pretending not to notice her.
"You're kidnapping me?" she finally asked. He didn't need to look at her to know she was furious, so he didn't bother. He couldn't stand the lack of love in her eyes, that new deadness that had replaced the beauty that was once there.
"Yes," he answered simply, willing his destination to come to him more quickly.
"Because you think that I really love you and something's wrong with me?" she sneered.
"Yes," he repeated, gripping the steering wheel.
"Can you contemplate getting over yourself for a second?" she snapped, "I don't love you, Angel. There isn't some conspiracy here. Now pull over and let me out."
"You can't keep me prisoner!" she shouted, banging her fist on the dashboard in emphasis. He didn't answer her, which only infuriated her more. She swung, attempting to hit him but he caught her arm and twisted it, effectively wrenching her against the seat in a hold she couldn't break free of without dislocating her shoulder in the process. He winced at her yelp of pain but held her there for a moment until she stopped struggling.
"I don't want to hurt you, Buffy," Angel finally said quietly, "But I'm not letting you go, so please don't make this harder. We'll be there in an hour and then you'll have a week with me. If you don't love me by the end of the week, I'll let you go. It's as simple as that."
"You've got to be joking!" she screamed, "I am not staying anywhere with you for a week."
"I'm sorry, but you don't have a choice."
infectious sense of hopelessness
"They're both gone," Giles said once Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Doyle gathered at his house early the next evening. The search party had left them all exhausted and irritated and most importantly, empty handed, "Disappeared without a trace."
"Do you think Angel took her?" Willow asked, shifting nervously in her seat.
"Of course he took her!" Xander shouted, "Did you see how damn looney he was last night? He all but told us he was going to do it. We're just stupid."
"Speak for yourself," Cordelia said with a dainty snort.
"He'd never hurt the girl," Doyle added quietly. He never really felt like one of the team and he knew that Cordelia was only in the tight knit group when she chose to be. But he had to speak up for his friend, "He wants to wait until the drugs wear off. He thinks she'll be better then."
"Do you know where he's taken her?" Giles asked, his eyes pleading for an answer.
"I don't," Doyle started.
"But you know who does?" Willow asked.
"I know who might."
Buffy had tried everything to get Angel to stop the car, including the bathroom excuse, which he knew was probably true, but still wouldn't relent. She had one hour to wait and then they would be there. He had absolutely no intention of letting her out of the car in the freezing cold only to end up chasing her up a mountain for half the day. He felt horrible about it but he was doing what was necessary.
Angel pulled up a unpaved road that was barely wide enough for his car. They traveled along it for several miles, moving slowly as the car jutted in and out of the potholes that the dirt road provided every other foot. He gritted his teeth as the harsh bumps jarred them, knowing he would have to replace the shocks after this little trip. Hopefully, he would be laughing about it with Buffy when he did. Something deep inside him told him there was a strong possibility he would never laugh with her about anything again.
She rubbed her bare shoulders and shivered in the cold. He glanced over at her as he cranked up the heat. She was wearing the little white tank top and cotton pants that she had slept in. Her bare feet were curled underneath her and she huddled up, trying to get warm.
"What are you looking at?" she demanded, pressing harder against the door, "Do you enjoy watching me suffer?"
"No," he answered honestly and pulled his leather jacket from the backseat and handed it to her. She looked at it with disgust and turned up her nose.
"I'd rather freeze."
"No you wouldn't," he said, laying it across her lap, "You hate the cold, Buffy. Just put it on."
"If you know I hate the cold then why did you bring me here, Angel? Why are we in the middle of some god forsaken mountain where no living thing can survive because it's so damn cold here? You say you love me, then why are you doing this to me?"
"I do love you," Angel said as he pulled up in front of a small, rustic cabin that looked as if a light breeze would carry it away, "And even if you can't remember that you love me, I know you remember that I love you."
She didn't answer but looked out the window instead, eyeing the tiny cabin with disdain. A week in that tiny place with him alone? She would be insane before she could leave. She turned back around when she heard him get out of the car, his exit punctuated by a gust of freezing air. She couldn't walk bare foot to the cabin in this temperature, even if it was only ten feet. There was no way she would allow that brute of an ex-lover to carry her, so she had resigned to sit in the car until she came up with a better idea.
Angel, however, was not about to give her a choice. He pulled a bag from the trunk, slung it over his shoulder, yanked open her door and swept her into his arms. She kicked and screamed in protest all the way to the cabin, where he opened the door and stepped inside. He set her on her feet and closed the door before heading over to the fireplace to light a fire.
"Whose place is this?" she asked, moving to stand on a rug across the room rather than the planked wooden floor, so her feet weren't quite as cold.
"Lindsey's," he answered as he piled wood in the fireplace and lit a fire. He felt slightly guilty for making Lindsey an accomplice in this, but not enough to keep him from doing it. McDonald was a good guy, but he was also perfectly willing to steal Buffy at any time. That thought alone kept him from feeling too bad about it.
"I don't love you, Angel," she said, crossing her arms with determination. He stood slowly and faced her. The pain on his face was almost enough for her to feel something for him. It tugged a tiny bit at her heart and she had to listen closely as he said, "I know you don't, baby."
"Did all you Scoobies pile in the mystery machine to visit me?" Spike said, inhaling deeply on his cigarette when he finished speaking. He sat in the center of his bar, legs propped up on an empty chair surveying the group of people standing before him.
"I want to know where he's taken my niece," Giles said firmly, stepping forward, "Do you have that information?"
"What if I did?" Spike asked. He knew the moment Doyle called this little meeting that they were going to interrogate him about Peaches' little loss of sanity. He'd be damned if he was going to let that wanker of an uncle intimidate him just because he had connections. "Why would I tell you losers?"
"Spike," Doyle urged, "They're just worried about the lass."
"She's outta her bloody mind," Spike answered, leaning back in his chair, "They both are. They deserve each other if you ask me. Location doesn't have shit to do with it. Anyway, I can't tell you where he took the bint. He didn't tell me."
"But you know something, right?" Willow asked timidly, "I mean, he told you that he was going to do it."
"Yeah, pet," Spike nodded, "He told me. Peaches knew you people would go nuts when he took her. He told me to tell you he'd come back in a week when the drugs wore off."
"And?" Doyle prodded, knowing his friend and employer better than anyone else in the room.
"Bloody hell, Doyle," Spike spat as he stood up, "Can't you just pick a fucking side? Fine, mate. Darla's in on this. So's Jhiera, Ford and my old buddy, Penn. They're all in on this master plan to split em apart. Angel has Gunn's guys keeping surveillance on all of them until he gets back - all of them except Ford."
"He's not having Ford watched?" Xander shouted, "Of all the people he should have under surveillance that nut job is rating pretty high on the list."
"He's not having Ford watched," Spike said, "because he has the fucker with him."
"Oh dear," Giles muttered, pulling off his glasses to clean them thoroughly.
"Yeah," Spike nodded with a grin, "The poof has lost his gob."
you're a fucking waste
Angel waited until Buffy got into the shower and then donned his jacket. He ran swiftly up the side of the mountain, stopping briefly to tuck his car keys into a box and lodge them inside a dead tree trunk. He couldn't have Buffy taking off in the middle of the night. He continued up the mountain, weaving through an almost nonexistent path, breathing heavily in the thinner air as he ran. Finally after five minutes, he stopped at another cabin not unlike the one he had just left. He burst through the door and slammed it shut behind him, leaving the cold air outside.
"You found it," Lindsey said from his comfy position on the couch.
"Yeah," Angel answered with a nod, "Helluva jog."
"Where's sleeping beauty?" Angel asked, glancing around.
"I thought about leaving the bastard in the trunk," Lindsey said with a grin, "But he's in here."
Angel followed him back into the small bedroom and found their very alert and awake prisoner, gagged and bound on the floor next to a sturdy four poster bed. Angel pulled the gag off and Ford heaved breaths for a moment before speaking, "You bastard."
"Oh, I'm the bastard?" Angel asked. Bending over, he punched him in the jaw, leaving a bloody lip behind for his efforts. "I don't give a shit what you think, boy. You'd better start praying you have the ability to walk upright when this is over."
"Where the hell are we and what am I doing here? Did you bring me all this way so you could beat me up? You could have done that in LA...where it's warm."
"No," Angel said, "I brought you here because I might need you if she doesn't get better. You have one week to wait. If she regains her memory and is okay, then I'll let you live. If a week passes and she isn't better, I'm going to break your fucking legs before we try again."
"The drug has a cumulative effect," Ford whined, "I can't guarantee she'll be better in a week or even in two weeks. I have no idea how long it'll last."
"Then I have no idea how long you'll walk," Angel said, turning and heading towards the door. He stopped and looked over at Lindsey who had a bit of sadism gleaming in his blue eyes, "By the way, this is Lindsey. He'll be your roommate for the duration of your stay."
Angel walked back out into the main room and waited as Lindsey joined him. Taking on a look of gratitude, he looked at his friend, "I owe you for this."
"Yes," Lindsey agreed, "You do."
"No matter what happens with Buffy. I won't forget this."
"If she chooses me," Lindsey said unsteadily, "You'll walk away?"
"I can't promise that."
"Where were you?" Buffy demanded as he walked back in the door. She was wearing blue jeans and a sweater that he had brought her. They were some of the clothes she had left behind at the apartment. She was grateful that he had thought of that. She just wished he had brought her shoes as well.
"Getting some fresh air," he said, tossing his jacket off. He laid down on the couch, crossed his arms over his chest and closed his eyes.
"You brought me all the way up here and now you're going to take a nap?" she shouted incredulously.
"I drove all night, love," he said, "So yes, I thought I'd try to get a little sleep."
"What if I do something to you while you're sleeping?" she asked, "What if I leave?"
"You won't do anything to me, Buffy. You're not that kind of person. The car keys are hidden," he said, yawning, "And it's below freezing out there. I think you'll be here when I wake up."
"What if I'm not?" she countered.
"Then I'll go look for you," he said, keeping his eyes closed.
"I hate you," she swore, "I'll never love you."
"I hope that's not true, Buffy."
Part Nine "Help Me"
i'm losing control
The first four days passed so slowly that both Buffy and Angel were convinced they were the longest days of their lives. Angel spent his time pretending not to watch her and she pretended she didn't notice. They ate in silence, read in silence and looked out the windows with the same deadly silence.
Buffy was confused. She didn't love him. She was certain of it and yet, for reasons she couldn't begin to explain, she thought she should. The nights were the only time she was able to feel anything. She dreamed of him, cried out his name in her sleep and woke up gasping for breath, reaching for him and coming back empty handed. In her sleep she loved him, so much in fact, that she couldn't think straight.
And she was happy - ecstatically, insanely joyful. Before he kidnaped her, the dreams were there but not nearly as vivid as they had become now that she spent every waking second near this beautifully kind and loving man. Those chocolate brown eyes stared at her in the day filled with concern, sorrow and fear but at night they danced with lust, love and happiness. When she was awake she couldn't tap those feelings and the knowledge was eating her alive. The only emotions she could muster were anger and frustration.
Angel spent those nights trying to sleep and desperately trying to block out the sounds of her whimpers and screams. The first night he actually had to put on his shoes and leave the cabin to keep himself from running to her side and holding her. The second night as she writhed and wept in her sleep, Angel ran out of the cabin again, taking that trail up the mountain. He burst into the cabin and found Lindsey sleeping soundly in the bed and Ford bound on the floor.
He flipped on the light, waking them both up in the process, and glared at the man tied up on the floor. He crossed the room in two broad steps and kicked up, making contact with Ford's shocked face. He bent over, picked him up and slammed him against the wall several times, enjoying the sound of skull against wood.
"She cries in her sleep, did you know that?" he growled, looking over his captive's surprised and bleeding face. Ford didn't speak at first, he just stared at the lunatic holding him against the wall. Angel tossed him to the floor with disgust.
"Smart thinking," Angel said, "You should keep your mouth shut because there is no correct answer here. If you say yes, that tells me you've been with her when she's sleeping and that alone is enough to kill you. If you say no, then that tells me that you have no fucking idea what you're doing to her."
"Angel," Lindsey said calmly from where he now stood next to the bed, prepared to save Ford's worthless life if he needed to, "Maybe you should..."
"Stay out of this, Lindsey," Angel said, shooting him a warning look before turning back to Ford, "This is between me and my lover's rapist."
"Wait a minute," Ford objected, speaking for the first time, "I never-"
A boot to the chest not only silenced him, but made him cough up blood. Angel's lips were curled in a sneer as he continued, "You raped her mind. You violated her! And now she cries in her sleep every night. She sobs and screams and writhes in bed like she's being attacked. She calls for help, but I can't help her, can I? CAN I?"
A sharp kick to the ribs forced a strangled, "No," to come from him.
"No," Angel said nodding, "I can't. But let me leave you with this little thought. When she calls for help, she calls my name. She still loves me. When her memory comes back, I'm going to spend the rest of my life with her just like I planned and the only thing that keeps you alive is that I can't be with her if I'm in jail."
i'm getting so low and all i want is to be with you again
Angel kept thinking that he would be able to handle being so close to her, that it would get easier to be with her and not touch her. He was wrong. It was aching torment. Every second of every day was like a year in hell. She was cold and distant. She didn't speak and when she did he wished she hadn't because her words were harsh and even mean. He would have done anything to go back a month and half to the day he first laid eyes on Billy Fordham. He could have stopped it all from happening.
Now he spent his days with the woman he loved more than anything, watching her hate him. He kept himself from going up the mountain and killing Ford every day. At night when her sobs of pain filled the small wooden building, he felt a kind of rage that made him want to keep Ford alive just so that he could hurt him again and again. He knew, however, that torturing him would serve no purpose whatsoever except for revenge. The damage was done and all he had left was time to wait.
On the fourth night when Buffy woke screaming Angel's name, she reached for him just as she always did and as usual she came back with nothing but blankets and sheets. That night she slipped out of bed and went into the living room where he slept on the couch. She looked over him for a second, lying on his side, muscular chest peeking out from the blanket that covered him. Taking a shaky breath, she crossed the room, gently moved his arm aside, lifted the blanket and crawled underneath it, pressing her back against his chest. She covered them up again and squeezed her eyes shut. Emotions from her dreams were still washing over her and as painful as they were, they felt real - twisted and broken and real. Nothing felt real anymore but those dreams, those memories. She admitted to herself for the first time that night that something was wrong with her. There had to be.
"You're awake aren't you?" she asked quietly.
"Yes," he said, releasing the breath he had been holding. He was afraid to move, that if he did she would leave. Instead, she pulled his arm around her waist and rubbed the hand that now spanned her belly.
"I loved you, didn't I?" she asked after a long moment of listening to his ragged breathing.
"Yes," he croaked, trying to hold on to whatever strength he might have had left.
"Every night," she whispered, "I dream of you and in my dreams I love you. I love you so much that it hurts inside and then in the morning, it slips away."
"Please don't," she whispered, "I need you to know. I can't feel anything, Angel. I don't love anything or anyone. I'm can't even remember loving at all. I can't remember my mom. Why can't I remember her, Angel?"
She started to cry, shuddering violently against him. He whispered soothing words in her ear and held her more tightly as she sobbed. She turned over and pressed her face against his chest as her petite frame convulsed in sorrow. When she finally calmed, she stayed there nestled against him.
Every time Ford had touched her, she flinched but when Angel touched her she didn't. She wanted more of him. With her face against his chest, it was so easy to kiss the bare skin there, so she did. The taste of him was familiar, sweet and addictive. She kissed him again and again, sweeping her soft lips over him, licking the salt from his skin. He laid there frozen with indecision while she moved against him, allowing her hands to move over him. Her mind couldn't remember loving him but her body did.
"Please. Don't," he said, forcing the words out of his mouth.
"I thought you loved me," she said, raising her head to look at his face. She could barely see him in the dark, but she didn't need to with the pain coming through in his words, "I thought you wanted me."
"I do," he said, "I can't make love to you if you aren't making love to me, Buffy. I can't do this knowing it means nothing to you."
"It means something," she answered, "I...want to love you, Angel, I just don't know how. Help me to remember. "
He didn't speak, but laid there in silence, trying to make out the expression on her face in the dark. Finally, when he didn't respond, she stood and stumbled toward the bedroom, ashamed and hurt. She made it halfway across the room before he flung the blanket aside and caught her, crushing his lips to hers. She opened her mouth and sighed into his kiss as their tongues dueled in each other's mouths.
It had been so long since he touched her and she felt like heaven, like everything he had ever wanted. When he told Lindsey that nothing mattered without her, he had been telling the truth. Nothing mattered after she left. He tried to paint but couldn't. He tried to sketch but ended up tearing the sheets from his sketchbook. He couldn't get through a meal without wanting to vomit. He couldn't sleep without her tucked by his side and he didn't want to live one more second without her in his arms. He wanted to be noble and tell himself that he wouldn't be with her if she didn't love him, but the truth was that any part of her was better than nothing at all.
He backed her toward the bedroom, pulling her clothes off as he went. When they reached the bed, they were free of the material obstructions and he was finally able to move his hands over her bare skin again. One would think that a month wouldn't make that much difference, but he felt like it had been much longer. Her skin was just as soft as he remembered and it tasted just as sweet - honey infused with vanilla, sunshine painted over flesh. He brushed aside the twisted blankets and sheets and lowered her to the bed. He took his time as he kissed every inch of her, reacquainting himself with her flushed skin. He moved over her neck, clavicle, breasts and the valley in between. Each rib was given its own moment of adoration.
She moved her hands over him, arching against his touch. He pressed back up against her moving hands, silently begging her not to stop caressing him. His hands were shaking as he moved down her inner thighs. She opened easily for him just as she always had, unfolding for his touch. As he positioned himself at her dripping opening, he forced himself not to stop, not to think about it. He entered her fully and felt pain and joy exploding in his chest at the same time. It was wonderful and completely horrible as he moved smoothly inside her. She rose to meet his thrusts and finally wrapped her legs around him, pulling him in deeper.
When she came, he buried his face in her neck, breathing hard against the column of her throat. He let go as well, losing himself in his lover. He collapsed against her, resting his head at her breast, puffing air over her skin. Finally, he slipped out of her and rolled over on his back. He stared at the ceiling in the dark, waiting. She moved over and laid her head on his chest. Listening to his heartbeat, she fingered the long chain around his neck. When she reached the bottom, where it lay against his chest she felt the charm there. After a moment, she realized it wasn't a charm at all. It was her engagement ring. Holding it there, she tried to remember loving him, being engaged to him, living with him - all those memories were lost somewhere inside her mind.
"I didn't sleep with him," Buffy finally said quietly, "In case you were wondering."
He stayed silent but gripped her more tightly as she spoke, "Whenever he touched me, I flinched. He felt wrong. I thought you might want to know."
"W-where...did he touch you?" he finally asked, thinking of those nights when he stayed outside Giles' house or Ford's, when she was in there with him where he couldn't see. Most of the nights he had stayed awake thinking of her had been filled with the possibilities of what had happened between them. Finally, he convinced himself that she hadn't allowed him to touch her at all. It was the only way he could sleep at all.
"Here," she said, pulling his hand to her lips, "And here," she whispered, moving his hand over her neck. She took him on a painful journey of where Ford had touched her, moving his hand over her back and down to cup her ass. As she moved his hand around to the front of her, he stiffened and closed his eyes. He didn't want to know, but he had to know. Gritting his teeth, he allowed her to move his hand over her abdomen. She slid up to her breasts but just as his fingertips brushed the soft underside, she stopped and dropped his hand.
"I don't think I can live without you, Buffy," he admitted as she settled back against his chest, "and I'm sure I don't want to."
"Do you think this drug will wear off?" she asked, fingering her diamond ring, "Do you think I'll be me again?"
"Yes," he said, "I can't believe anything else."
then the heat disappears and the mirage fades away
The week came to a close and Buffy wasn't any closer to remembering love. The last few days were better for both of them, though. They stayed in each others arms, receiving comfort from one another, although it was stilted and strange. On the seventh day, Angel left the cabin and trudged up the hill again, grabbing his keys from the stump on the way up and shoving them into his pocket. He knocked on the door sharply before entering and found Lindsey reading a book on the couch.
"Time's up," Angel said sullenly.
"And?" Lindsey said, "Is she better cause I'm getting a little stir crazy in here."
"No," he said, "She's not. Ford in the bedroom?"
"Yep," Lindsey said as Angel went in that direction. Angel stopped just inside the room and looked over him for a full minute before taking another step inside the room.
"What are you going to do with him?" Lindsey asked, leaning against the doorframe.
"I don't know," Angel said, "Maybe we should leave him here to starve to death."
"Nah," Lindsey said, "I'm not going to come up here for hunting season to find his mangled corpse in my bedroom."
"Good point," Angel said, grabbing Ford and dragging him out to the truck. As he tossed him to the ground near the passenger door, he caught sight of a figure a few paces away. He looked up to find that Buffy had not gotten in the shower after all, but had followed him up the mountain. He looked down at her sock clad feet covered in dirt and leaves with regret.
"Oh my God," she whispered, moving forward, looking from Angel to Lindsey to Ford and back again, "What are you doing? Are you insane?"
"Yes," Angel said quietly. Behind him, Lindsey nodded his head emphatically. Angel was definitely not playing with a full deck since Buffy left him.
"Buffy," Ford croaked, "Please help me. He's crazy. He thinks I did something to you, but you know I would never hurt you."
"Baby, listen," Angel said, taking a step towards her, "I didn't tell you they were up here because I knew it would upset you. I just needed him to be here in case you didn't get better."
"I'm not better, Angel!" Buffy shouted, "What are you going to do now? Kill him?"
"No," Angel said, "I wouldn't kill anyone. You have to believe me."
"I don't know what to believe. All three of you are...God, I don't even know what you are! You're sick."
"Buffy, please," Angel said, taking another step towards her.
"No," she said, stepping back. He moved toward her swiftly and she turned ran up the mountain, winding around the trees. She tried to watch her step and keep moving forward but the lack of shoes and the cold severely hindered her speed. She could hear his large feet pounding in the ground behind her and she knew he was going to catch up any second. She wasn't even sure why she was running. She wished she could run away from it all, make all this uncertainty and pain disappear.
His footsteps were just a few feet behind her and she turned to check his location. As she turned back around, she tripped on a rock in the path and fell forward. She hit the ground and felt a sharp pain in her side as she landed.
"Buffy!" Angel shouted. He fell to his knees beside her, "Are you okay?"
She stood and winced with pain, pushing him away from her. "Don't touch me," she said through gritted teeth, "Just take me home."
"Buffy," Angel pleaded, "I'm sorry, love. I didn't do this to upset you."
"Just take me home," she repeated, moving back down the mountain, holding her side. He fell into step behind her, cursing underneath his breath.