By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: set immediately after Helpless. As always, Angelus’ thoughts are in monotype corsiva, which you can download from the main page.
“I was here. No… here…” Buffy walked slowly. “Or here?” Shining her flashlight along the ground and under the shrubs, she ground her teeth in frustration. “Where are you?”
“I ran through there…” She bit her lip. “I think.” Scanning the area, Buffy looked for something familiar. “Where would I hide if I were Portuguese?”
Walking slowly, she played the flashlight’s beam over the ground. “Here, Portuguese. Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Finding herself at the playground, she sighed and shut the
flashlight off. She couldn’t remember if she’d run through here or not. She’d
been scared out of her mind, screaming like the dumb blonde in every scary
movie ever made. For all she knew, she’d run screaming through
A figure sitting on one of the swings caught her attention. The shape told her who it was even before the familiar tingle ran through her. Powerful body, long legs, the dark head bowed. Angel.
He didn’t look up as she approached. “Angel.” His shoulders were slumped and he pushed listlessly at the ground, rocking the swing slightly.
“What’s wrong?” Kneeling beside him, Buffy laid a hand on his leg. The muscles tensed under her fingers. The snow on Christmas Day had seemed to shake him out of his depression, but he was still fragile. “Angel?”
The chocolate eyes flicked up to lock with hers. The sadness there was a living thing. Slowly, Angel reached into his coat pocket and pulled something out.
It took a moment for Buffy to recognize what it was. The book had been ripped apart, the leather cover shredded. “Oh, no! No!” Tears poured down her cheeks and she snatched it out of his hands. “My Portuguese book!”
“I found it.” He said softly.
“I dropped it.” The pages were crumpled and stained. The page where Angel had signed ‘Always’ was ripped. “I was scared – and they chased me – I lost it – “
Angel looked down at Buffy clutching the torn book of poetry and crying over the pieces. He hadn’t wanted to believe she would destroy his gift. When he’d spotted it on the ground, he’d felt as if his own heart were ripped and torn on the ground.
“It’s all broken.” She sobbed. “My book – my life – all broken!”
Lifting her up onto his lap, Angel held her against his chest. “Shh… don’t cry.”
“Why?” She held the book tightly. “Because it’ll be better? It’ll never be better, Angel.”
He couldn’t lie to her. With a sigh he pushed against the ground, setting the swing into a gentle motion.
Why not? Tell her it’ll all be sunshine and kisses.
Shut up. Wrapping his arms around Buffy, he kissed her forehead. She buried her face in his cool throat and cried harder. Cried over the last piece of her childhood. Giles was the one person she had believed would never betray her. But he had.
Angel wished he could take her pain away. Buffy deserved so much more than this hopeless life she’d been forced into.
So, turn her and let’s all run away and live happily ever after.
Pushing away the images of making love to Buffy that the demon offered up, Angel stopped the swing and stood up. Cradling her in his arms, he walked out of the playground and into the darkness.
“My eyes hurt and my nose feels huge.”
“You’re beautiful.” Angel kissed the end of Buffy's nose.
You’re a lousy liar.
“You’re a lousy liar.” She lay down and let Angel pull the covers up over her.
“Sorry, I spent most of my time working on my brooding skills.” He stretched out on her bed next to her.
“God, I’m still so weak.” She rubbed her eyes again.
“Giles said you’ll be fine in a few days.” Brushing back the honey blond hair from her forehead, he laid his hand over her eyes.
“That feels good. Who needs wet washcloths?” She pressed his cool hand against her face. “Dr. Angel.”
Let me take your temperature, lover. Angelus purred seductively.
A smile lifted the corner of Angel’s mouth. “Playing doctor would only get us into trouble.”
“Um… no doubt.” She frowned suddenly. “You talked to Giles?”
“Yes.” Growled and snarled at him was more accurate. “We talked about what happened.”
“You talked?” Pulling his fingers apart, Buffy peeked up at him. “Why does that sound like the Made For TV version?”
“We talked.” The Watcher – former Watcher – had been quite remorseful over his part in the debacle and surprisingly unintimidated by the very large and very angry vampire glaring down at him. “He’s sorry.”
“He should be.” She pouted.
“Buffy, he’s dedicated to the Council and to protecting people. He believed he was doing something that needed to be done, something that would make you stronger.” Her bottom lip stuck out further. “He didn’t realize that the Council doesn’t see you as a person. That’s why he warned you, and that’s why he quit.”
“They fired him, you mean.”
“It’s all the same.” Leaning over, Angel kissed her, unable to resist the pouty lips any longer.
Buffy sighed as his cool lips brushed hers. When he pulled away, she whimpered. “More?”
“Only if you’re good.”
“Oh, I’m good.” Her nose crinkled as she grinned impishly.
Oh, yes… she is… umm…..
“Close your eyes.” Angel ordered as he picked the battered book up from the bedside table. “Rest.”
She closed her eyes and gave him an exaggerated pout. “Bully.”
“Shh…” He leaned down and nipped at her bottom lip. Sorting through the pages, he found one of his favorites and began to read.
thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby !
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.”
Joyce paused in the hallway. She could hear Angel’s rich voice drifting out through Buffy's open door. Leaning on the edge of the doorframe, she watched as he brushed a lock of hair from Buffy's face, resting his palm briefly against her cheek. Buffy sighed and snuggled closer to him.
He was much too old for Buffy, would be even if he wasn’t a vampire, but she couldn’t deny that he adored her daughter. For once, his handsome face was open and unguarded, and love shone through the layer of sadness that always hooded the dark eyes.
Joyce blinked as she realized those eyes were now fixed on her. The gates had slammed shut and they were once again impenetrable. “Uh, I heard you. That was lovely.”
“Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Angel said softly.
I like limericks better. There was a young lady from –
“Buffy's asleep now. You should go.”
Should have killed the bitch when I had the chance. Angelus snarled.
Angel tilted his head to one side and she felt a rush of guilt. “She’ll be fine.” She rushed to explain.
Setting the book aside, he brushed a kiss across Buffy's forehead. She stirred restlessly and whispered his name as he got up from the bed.
Stepping back so he could leave Buffy's room, Joyce was struck suddenly by Angel’s size and power. He moved like a big cat down the hallway.
He paused at the top of the stairs. “I’ll stay close. The word is out that the Slayer is weak. Don’t let anyone in.” Before she could answer, he was gone.
Buffy blinked at the sunlight in her eyes. The blinds were wide open and the morning sun shone through. “Angel?” Panicked, she sat up and scanned the room. There was no sign of him. And thankfully no big pile of dust anywhere in sight. Angel must have left before sunrise.
Lying back, she felt something brush her cheek. On her pillow was a red rose and a book. Lifting the book, she saw that it was a new copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets From The Portuguese. Opening the book she recognized Angel’s bold handwriting.
Try to hang on to this one.
lifted the rose and inhaled the delicate scent. Smiling, she laid back and
hugged the book to herself.
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