DreamLand V 2.0
Come Undone


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TITLE: Come Undone
E-MAIL: buffyased20@yahoo.com
DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything that I can be sued for, for saying I own! (does that make sense?)
TIMELINE: This takes place at the end of Dead Things after Buffy has told Tara about Spike...I also added my own little ending to Waiting in the Wings but it's kind of the same (kind of)
SPOILERS: See above!
SYNOPSIS: Buffy decides the only person to help her through her ordeal and problems with Spike is Angel and she heads to L.A. unaware of his feelings for Cordy.
RATING: er dunno..PG-13
Part 1

Tara finally realized what Buffy was saying....why do I let him do those things to me....? She and Spike have...oh dear.
"Oh, huh. Really." That's all you could say?, Tara thought to herself, smooth one, Tara!.
Buffy continued, disgusted with herself. "He's everything I hate. He's everything that ... I'm supposed to be against," she paused, realizing, "But the only time that I ever feel anything is when.... Don't tell anyone, please." she asked quickly, thinking about what would happen if Willow found out...if Xander...
"I won't." Tara promised, hurting for her friend.
Tears formed in Buffy's eyes. "The way they would look at me...I just couldn't." They would be disgusted with her! More disgusted than she is with herself. And what if Giles heard about it? Oh god...
Tara looked deep into Buffy's eyes. "I won't tell anyone. I wouldn't do that." she assured her.
"Why can't I stop? Why do I keep letting him in?" Buffy whispered, half to herself.
Growing more concerned, Tara questioned, "Do you love him?"
Knowing the answer was no, Buffy continued to stare at Tara, the tears rolling silently down her cheeks. Understanding, Tara nodded.
"I-It's okay if you do. He's done a lot of good, and, and he does love you. A-and Buffy, it's okay if you don't. You're going through a really hard time, and you're..."
Buffy interrupted her, "What? Using him? What's okay about that?"
"It's not that simple." Tara told her. Everyone has their own way of dealing with pain, this was Buffy's.
"It is! It's wrong. I'm wrong. Tell me that I'm wrong, please..." she sobbed, not wanting to think about it.
Not wanting to believe the things she's done was acceptable. She was the Slayer! How could she let this go this far? "Please don't forgive me, please, please don't." she continued to sob, sliding off the table onto the floor, placing her head in Tara's lap, her body racked with uncontrollable tears.
Tara stroked her hair until the sobs quieted down to barely audible sniffs.
Exhausted, and a little embarassed, Buffy lifted her head from Tara's lap, impatiently wiping the remaining tears from her cheeks.
"Buffy, I-."
Quickly Buffy shook her head. "It's okay Tara...I mean, thank you, for helping me, and for not telling anyone about this. I think...I think all the shame and the guilt, and the uncertainty...finally got to me. I needed to tell someone, and I'm glad it was you." Buffy told her, smiling a little. Tara smiled back, but her eyes still showed concern.
"Are you going to be okay?" she asked, wishing she could take away all of Buffy's pain. How much could one girl go through in a lifetime before it drove her insane?
Letting out a sigh, Buffy shrugged, "I don't know...maybe. I think I should talk to someone about this..." she glanced quickly at Tara, "I don't mean that talking to you wasn't enough! I mean, I..I need to see..." she struggled to find the words.
Tara smiled again and brushed Buffy's hair behind her ear. "You need to see Angel." She understood. Only Angel could truly get through to her. Tara knew what it felt like to have that everlasting bond with the person you love...she only hoped she could have it again with Willow.
"I need to talk to him, Tara. I need to tell him everything...if I don't, I might just go crazy from all of this..." her voiced trailed off and she lost herself in the thought of seeing him again. Would he even be there? Would he even care? What if he was so repulsed by her that...shaking off the uneasy feeling that was developing, she stood from the couch.
"I know Willow will be here, but she's still...recovering and..well, could you maybe check in on Dawn? I don't know how long I'll be gone but it would really help me out."
Tara rose, and stood next to her. "Of course...W-Willow won't mind will she?" she could feel her cheeks burning.
Buffy leaned forward to hug Tara tightly. "Tara, Willow will probably be estatic to see you...thank you again."
Tara nodded and watched as Buffy headed up the stairs to pack a small bag. She frowned a bit to herself, and silently hoped that her trip to L.A. wouldn't be too heartbreaking.

Part 2

Los Angeles, Hyperion

Angel watched as Cordelia silently examined her evening gown. How could he start? The awkward tension floated around them...almost as gracefully as the ballerinas that evening did. What could he say to her? Gathering up the courage, he opened his mouth.                                                                               "You think I can still return it 'cause otherwise we're gonna have to take a lot more cases." she told him quickly, cutting him off. Worry filled her eyes. Angel took a step towards her. "Cordy, uh..."                                                                                                                                                                                 "You know, we should probably just not talk about our little adventure." she suggested, clearing her dry throat. "Anything that might have been seen, anything that might have been, oh, perky.." she giggled nervously, searching Angel's eyes for his thoughts.
"I just wanna pretend it never happened." he agreed, trying to cover the disapointment in his eyes.                                                                                             "Exactly." "Wipe it from my memory." he added, knowing it wouldn't be forgotten anytime soon.       "Well, what, was it like disgusting?" she asked him, suddenly frowning and crossing her arms in defense. "No, I... I would just want, if we were to... I'd want it to be, um, new. Start at the beginning." Angel held his breath, studying her face. That was subtle, he thought, smooth.  A little aware of his meaning, Cordelia played dumb. "Lost me in the middle." Angel took a deep breath.  "Cordy, we've been working together a long time, and... I mean you've become... a truly extraordinary woman. I know we haven't always gotten along, but I really think we... you know-" Realizing what he was getting to, Cordelia smiled. "Grew."
Angel swallowed nervously, "Yes, we grew, uh, closer together, and I was..well, wondering if you would like to have dinner with me...or something...sometime." he exhaled loudly, almost afraid to look at her. Cordelia stood, silently. She was stunned! When had this happened? Angel had feelings for *her*? It was impossible. All those years in high school he had only wanted Bu- she shook her head of those bad memories.                                      "Angel, what are you saying? Besides you that you want to eat with me." she slowly began moving towards him."I guess I'm saying....I have feelings for you. More than friendly feelings actually, and I didn't know how to tell you...and tonight, when we kissed, it was...almost..well I don't know what it was...I wanted to keep kissing you...but I didn't know how you felt and..." he was interrupted by Cordelia's lips on his. She pulled him close, her hands slowly trailing through his hair. Surprised, Angel kissed her back, his hands resting on the small of her back. Something was different, he didn't know what. This time there is no spells, he told himself, this was Cordelia, no one else. Then why did he feel so weird? He shut his mind off and let himself go.
           Buffy walked up the steps of Hyperion slowly. She took a deep breath while she stood at the base of the door. God, what would he say to her?? Choking back tears, Buffy sighed. Was she doing the right thing? She couldn't keep running to Angel when life in Sunnydale was unbearable, could she? But she had to, he was her salvation. Reluctantly, she lifted her hand to knock when she noticed movement in the window. A wave of peace swam through her. It was Angel. She could feel him. She moved to the window to see him and stopped dead. Inside, she watched Cordelia walk over to Angel and kiss him. No...he was kissing her. No...they were kissing each other!             
           Buffy didn't feel anything. Her body went numb, and for a moment, she thought she may be physically ill.  Silently ,  and slowly, she turned on her heel, down the steps and into the night.

Part 3

Cordelia pulled away from Angel, running a hand through her dark hair. After staring at each other for a moment, they both broke into smiles.

"Are you thinking what I am?" she asked him, fighting the urge to wipe her lips.

Angel, grinning, shook his head. "I don't get it....when we kissed before...at the ballet, it was..magical."

"Well, yeah, we were possessed remember?"  she laughed.                       

Angel nodded, "Yeah, but, I'd been pining for you for weeks Cordelia! And now..."

"Hey, it's okay, " she assured him, "If you would have kissed me years ago, when I was still in high school, believe me, I would have been in heaven. But now, it was almost like kissing my...my...."

"Brother?" he finished for her. Cordelia smiled at him again, leaned forward and hugged him tightly. "You're my family, Angel. You, and Fred, Gunn, and Wesley...oh man! You're Wesley!" she said suddenly, stepping back to look at him.

Confused, Angel just stared.

"You know! Sunnydale? Senior year before the mayor went all snake like. When Wesley and I kissed and it was like...no sparkage at all! Just a dry, no chemistry kiss!"

Angel coughed lightly. "Well, I wouldn't say it was *dry*..." he told her, trying to salvage his ego.

"Oh, sorry. Hey! You know what else I just thought of. My visions! I still have them!" she said excitingly. "What's that about? I didn't even think about it. Oh man, I could have just given you my visions." realizing what consequences she could have brought herself, she slumped to the couch.

"But the good thing is, you didn't....I'll call Lorne, maybe he can find out what happened. This is big news." he told her, sitting next her on the leather sofa.

She looked up at him and smiled. "Yeah, now I can go around kissing anyone I want! Wow, does that sound slutty or what?" she giggled, standing again and walking to the counter where their cases were scattered about.

Angel sighed in relief. He had thought being with Cordelia would have been the best thing to happen to him in ages. She had grown so much, she was no longer "Queen C", but this remarkable, strong woman. Who would have thought one kiss would douse the flames burning inside him for her.  When he kissed her, he had to admit, there was no chemistry, not like when he kissed...

"You know," Cordelia called to him, "It's a good thing I didn't feel anything there. It would have never worked out."

Angel forced his mind to stop thinking about *her*, and focused back on Cordelia. "Huh?"

"It would have never worked!" she told him, signing a few invoices before glancing up at him. "With the curse and all. And I certaintly wouldn't want to be second best."

Angel crossed his arms and shrugged. "Second best to who?"

"Buffy, duh...oh..." she said quickly, looking up again, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say the "B" word. I wasn't thinking." Cordelia set the pen down and searched Angel's face for emotion.

His smile had fallen a bit, and his eyes had turned serious again.

"Oh. It's okay. You know, Buffy and I have been over for awhile and...well, it's time to move on...live my life...without her..." his voice trailed off, as he slipped deep in thought.

Cordelia sighed to herself. Well, it looks like all you have to do is mention little Buffy's name and Angel shifts into brooding mood.

"Angel? Are you okay?" she questioned, moving around the counter to him. He snapped his head around to look at her.

"Oh, oh yeah! I'm great! I'm a little tired actually, so I may just go upstairs and rest for awhile." he told her, standing and starting for the steps.

"Okay, if you're su-" Suddenly Cordelia grabbed her head between her hands and fell to her knees. Angel ran to her side,  kneeling beside her. He had gotten used to waiting until the visions had past before he tried to speak to her. The pain was sometimes so intense she couldn't hear him anyway.

Cordelia gasped for breath, her eyes shut tightly. The girl in her vision was familiar...honey blonde hair, except it was shorter than usual...she could feel her pain, it was loud, unbearable. It was Buffy. She was crying, alone in her room. The vision coursed through her and suddenly she saw Spike! Except he wasn't trying to kill her...he was...they were...oh god..., her vision changed again to Buffy, standing alone on a flight of stairs, the front of the building was familiar, and heartache was in her eyes.

The vision faded, and slowly her eyesight cleared. The pain was already dulling and she breathed deeply, staring at the floor.

"Cordelia? Are you okay? What was it?" Angel asked, pushing for an answer. He took her hands and helped her off of the floor, smoothing the hair away from her eyes.

Cordelia took a few more deep breaths. How was she supposed to tell Angel that the love of his life was involved with his nemesis?? He would lose it completely.

"Angel...I think maybe you should be sitting down for this..." she began, motioning towards the couch.

Panic began to rise in his stomach. He saw worry and fear in her eyes. "What is it? Is it Connor? Is he in trouble?" he hurried toward the steps. The last time he checked, Connor was sleeping safely in Fred's room.

"No, Connor's fine!" she called after him, "It's Buffy!"

He stopped dead on the first step, and turned slowly to look at her. His insides went numb, and he forced his shaking hands still.

"What is it? Is she okay? Is she..." she had already died once...and came back. If she was gone again, he didn't know what he would do, he didn't know how he would react.

"No, she's not...gone. Angel, I saw her...and Spike." She watched Angel step off the stairs and move towards her.

"Spike? In Sunnydale? What's going on, is he trying to kill her?" he asked her urgently, already thinking of all the ways he would torture and kill him if he laid one finger on Buffy.

Cordelia swallowed, clutching her hands nervously. "Not necessarily..."

"Then what? Cordelia?"

"Okay! Okay. I saw Buffy....crying....she's in real pain Angel, I could feel in bubbling deep inside her, about to burst."

His unbeating heart began to ache for her. When they had met, after she was came back, she had seemed different...a little off. He had just figured it was time that had changed her. But it was worse...something was wrong.

"I should go see her...before she gets hurt somehow...dammit I should have *known* something was wrong with her. But the whole thing with Darla, and Connor, I was too busy worrying about myself..." he curse silently and headed back towards the stairs. He would leave to Sunnydale tonight, talk to Buffy, and if all went well, he could be back by tomorrow morning.

"Angel, there's more." she said silently. "Spike..."

"Yeah, I'll take care of him too." he promised.

"No! I saw them sleeping together."  she blurted. There, she had said it. Whatever happens now was not her responsibility.

Letting out a laugh, Angel stared at her. "What? That's impossible."

"No, Angel. I saw it. Well, they weren't really 'sleeping' you know...they were...well, let's just say there was a house...and it crumbled because of the weight of..." she trailed off, noticing the pain in Angel's eyes. "Look," she began again, slowly, "what I saw...I could feel Buffy's emotions. There's no romance involved here. It's something else. It wasn't healthy. Something's wrong with her, and Spike's feeding off of it. She needs help..."

Angel couldn't see past the blind rage. Spike was touching her...smelling her. *Spike*. And what's worse, Buffy was letting him.

"I'm going to Sunnydale tonight, Cordelia. I don't know when I'll be back. If *anything* happens, call me on my cell phone."

She nodded, almost afraid to tell him the last part. "There's one more thing...Angel..."

Sighing, he grabbed his duster from the coat tree Fred had so proudly placed by the door. "I'm almost afraid to ask."

"She saw us...you and I."

Confused, Angel slid his arms into his jacket. "What do you mean?"

"In my vision...I guess Buffy was here...she saw us kissing through the window. At least, I think she did. I didn't see much but she was standing on some stairs and the front of the building looked like Hyperion...I'm pretty sure it had to have been tonight..."

Angel swung  open the door and headed down the stairs. Cordelia raced to the entrance.

"Where is she?" he called back to her, not bothering to look over his shoulder.

"I don't know! Angel, be careful..." but he had already disappeared into the night.

Part 4

Sunnydale, CA

Angel arrived in Sunnydale around midnight. He had a couple hours before the sun would rise, and he hoped that would be all he needed. The streets were deserted and quiet, except for a few couples walking home from a late show at the Cineplex.

Memories washed through him. He remembered when he and Buffy had been like them, leaving the movie theatre hand in hand. Almost like a real couple. Almost...normal. And only a few days later he had left her, and Sunnydale.

He shook off the feeling of longing, and headed towards the cemetary. He didn't know if Buffy had returned yet. If Cordelia was right, and Buffy had been in L.A., she may have arrived home thirty or so minutes ago. If she came home at all. Angel cringed at the thought of Buffy seeing he and Cordy kiss. What was he thinking? It made sense at the time...he and Cordelia worked closely together everyday. Their job was an intense one. It was only natural for him to develop feelings for her. And it still surprised him that kissing her was not what he thought it would be. There were no fireworks, no soul's intertwining. It had just been like kissing...well Cordelia. She wasn't Buffy. She could never be Buffy.

Maybe in some sick way, I was using Cordy as a substitute, Angel thought to himself, glancing around him, observing the foggy cemetary for any sign of Buffy...or Spike. Afterall, Cordy was almost like a warrior now. She was his seer. She and Buffy were strong, independent women...who fought demons. Geez, how could he be so *stupid*?

Sighing, Angel hurried through the cemetary and headed towards the Summers home.

- - - -

"Where did she go?" Spike asked Tara, who was busy flipping through a magazine at the Summers' home. Willow and Xander were researching the nerd trio at the Magic Box, so Tara volunteered to keep an  eye on Dawn...as she promised Buffy.

"Look, Spike. Buffy is doing a lot of soul searching. She needs to be alone." Well, not exactly, Tara thought, but it wouldn't be wise to tell the vampire she is sleeping with that she went to visit her soulmate.

"Soul searching? Blech. Look, if this has to do with us...I mean...me...being able to... 'attack' her, I think I should know."

Tara studied Spike's face for a moment, and shut her magazine. "Look, Spike. I know about you and Buffy and your...er...activities..." she hurried on before Spike could say anything, "And I'm not passing judgement on either of you. But not everything she does is about you. You need to give her some space to clear her head and think. When you're constantly around her, she gets confused. So just let it go okay?"

Spike pursed his lips, thinking of something smart to say.

"Yeah well....fine." he gave in, sighing. "So...did she say anything about me? You know...stamina wise?"

In the bathroom, Dawn finished brushing her hair and headed towards the stairs. Tara and Spike sat in the living room, talking quietly, and stopped altogether when they noticed her standing in the doorway.

"You don't have to stop talking on my account." she said quietly, crossing her arms.

"Er, we were just discussing...your birthday party." Spike stuttered. "You're *surprise* birthday party!" he told her proudly, looking at Tara, who only rolled her eyes.

"Oh really? That's amazing that it takes you 6 months to  plan a 'surprise' party. My birthday isn't until the fall, remember?" Dawn told him, satisifed that she actually managed to fluster Spike. "Why are you here anyway?" she asked him, "Buffy's not home."

Spike glanced at Tara again. "He's bored." she said quickly, "You know Spike. Can't eat anyone, and demons hate him. We're all he's got, poor guy."

This time Spike rolled his eyes, but decided against saying anything.

"Oh. Well, whatever." Dawn muttered and entered the room, flopping down on the couch, and resting her head on Tara's shoulder. "When is she coming back?"

"I don't know, Dawn. Soon. I promise." Tara assured her, stroking her hair.

Spike stood up from the coffee table, yearning for nicotine. "I need a cigarette."

What the hell does she think she's doing, clearing her bloody head,  Spike thought bitterly, I'm all she's got and she knows it...

Shaking his head, Spike threw open the door. Angel stood on the doorstep, his hand lifted in mid air to knock. Spike quickly overcame his shock and fury.

"Well if it isn't nancy boy with to much hair ge-..." Spike's words were cut off in mid sentence as Angel's fist plummeled into his stomach and he fell hard onto the Summers'  wood floor.

"Nice to see you too Spike," Angel said happily, with underlying fury threatening to bubble over, "I think it's time we had a heart to heart chat, don't you?"

Part 5

Sunnydale, CA

Angel walked into the Summers' home and bent down, grasping Spike by the lapels of his jacket. He lifted him up effortlessly and shoved him up against the wall.

"Just what kind of game do you think you're playing?" he asked him through gritted teeth.

Spike pushed the pain in his stomach to the back of his mind. Angel could always kick his ass physically...but he had something that would hurt him more than any punch could.

"Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about mate." Spike said simply, fighting back a smirk.

Angel turned and threw Spike into the living room, across the coffee table.

"Angel!" Dawn shrieked. "Don't hurt him!"

Angel looked over at the two girls huddling in the corner. "Dawn? What the hell is *he* doing here? Are you girls crazy?"

"He's not evil anymore, Angel...he's got a chip, kind of like your soul thing..." she explained, taking a small step towards him. Angel looked down at her.

"What are you talking about? What chip? Trust me, this guy is..." Angel was interrupted as Spike grabbed his shoulder, turning him around and punching him square in the jaw. Angel fell back a few feet and somewhere in the distance, heard Dawn shrieking again. The blonde girl Dawn was with was pleading with Spike to stop.

It was Spike's turn to throw Angel into the wall, causing pictures to fall and crash to the floor.

"Listen, Angel, don't know know why you're here, and frankly I don't care. You don't belong here anymore." he told him, punching him in the face again. Blood began to trickle down Angel's nose.

"Where is she?" Angel asked angrily, recovering from the blow quickly.

"She's not here!" Dawn told him urgently, pulling Spike away from him. "She left...somewhere...she hasn't come home yet."

Worried, Angel glanced at Dawn. "She's not home yet...?"

"Why do you care where she is? You gave up the right to care a long time ago..." Spike muttered, heading towards the door. Angel quickly grabbed his arm. "We're not done yet." he said, glaring.

"She went to L.A. to see you." the blonde girl said softly. Angel let go of Spike's arm to turn and look at her.

"What!?" Spike asked in astonishment, turning around back into the room.

Angel nodded, "I know...a friend of mine had a vision...it's a long story, but we didn't talk, she left before I knew she was there...I need to know where she is."

Tara frowned, "I don't know...she hasn't called..."

"Hey, wait a minute. If anyone needs to know where she is, it's me." Spike demanded. Angel turned to glare at him again.

"I think you've done enough."

Spike headed for the door once again. At the entrance he turned to face Angel, "Actually, if I had done enough, she wouldn't be coming back for more now would she?" he smiled smugly.

In a few mere seconds, Angel threw himself at Spike and they went flying onto the porch and down the stairs onto the lawn. Dawn and Tara ran to the doorway, too afraid to try to stop the two vampires.

"What's he talking about?" Dawn asked, cringing as she watched Angel plummel his fist into Spike's face.

"I-I d-don't know..." Tara lied, closing her eyes. Angel knows too....this won't be getting any better.

Angel picked Spike off the ground and threw him into a tree. "You're nothing but a monster Spike..."

Spike laughed, bracing himself for the next blow. "Oh yeah? If that were so, wouldn't you think the Slayer would be a little more hesistant to open her knees for me?" The punch to his stomach had Spike gasping for air, but he refused to back down.

"You had your chance nancy boy. You blew it. It's my turn now..." the next blow brought him to his knees.

"You're so pathetic," Angel told him, kicking him hard in the ribs, "Buffy's going through something, and you're taking advantage of that. She'll never love you. You'll never have what I had...what I *have*."

Grinning, Spike rolled over onto his back, bruises beginning to form on his chiseled features.

"That's where you're wrong...she does love me."

Angel stopped for a moment, taking in deep breaths. "She told you that?"

Spike slowly got to his feet, watching Angel carefully. "She didn't have too...I don't think she would let me do the things I do to her, " he paused for a moment, smiling widely, "if she didn't love me..."

Angel's vamp-face quickly formed as he grabbed Spike. Growling he through him hard onto the Summers' steps, causing Tara to push Dawn behind her for safety.

"She'll never love you Spike, " Angel told him, walking slowly to where Spike lay, gasping for breath, "You see, she and I...we have something you can never touch. But if you're satisfied with knowing she'll always be seeing another man's face when she's with you...then so be it."

Breathing slowly, Angel's normal features returned. Spike was clutching his ribcage, glowering at him in the dark. Angel glanced at Tara and Dawn. "If you knew what was best, you'd stay far away from him," he motioned towards Spike.

Turning on his heel, Angel started into the night, ignoring Dawn's pleas for him to return. Good God, what was this world coming too? It seemed they were treating Spike like he was part of the gang! Like..he used to be...and if it were true...if somehow Spike had managed to worm his way into Buffy's heart- No he didn't want to think about it. Buffy was smart. She would never...Angel shook his head. He had to find her. If Buffy wasn't here...there was one more place he knew she would be. It wasn't in Sunnydale, and it wasn't in Los Angeles....it was in between. And if he knew Buffy...she would be there.

Part 6

Somewhere in the middle....

Buffy sat on the wooden bench, silently, gazing out into the dark night. The warm breeze ruffled her hair away from her face and caused the water in the lake to ripple. She felt like she was in a trance. She couldn't feel anymore, her body had gone numb hours ago. She closed her eyes briefly to hold back the threatening tears. God, hadn't she cried enough on her way over here? She had to have been empty by now...at least that's how she felt.

Although she tried not to, Buffy couldn't help but replay that scene in her head. Cordelia and Angel...holding each other, kissing each other. She wondered how long this had been going on. How many times have they kissed? How many times have Angel's hands wandered over her body, filled with affection?

Because her stomach began to turn, Buffy quickly blocked the thought from her mind. It makes sense, she thought to herself bitterly, Cordelia's with him almost every moment of the day...they work side by side. Jealousy struck her unexpectedly. It wasn't fair. Why did the bitch of Sunnydale get to share Angel's time? Angel's life? It should have been hers!

Buffy let go a hysteric laugh. God, but wasn't that water under the bridge? How many years ago had Angel left? Three? Was it only three years? It seemed like eternity. You would think I would be over it by now, she thought. She had been through too much for pine over love lost. She had Riley...well for a brief moment she had Riley. But even when she had him, she could never fully give herself to him. Not when her soul still belonged to Angel. And then she had lost her mother...and yes, even then, she prayed and wished everyday that Angel will come to comfort her. And when he did, it was only for a little while. But it was enough to re-open the locked up space in her heart she set aside only for him. Then she had died...she remembered that his face had been the last thing she thought of before the portal of energy took her life away. And he had been the first thing she thought of when she realized she was alive again.

Well...okay, so maybe she shouldn't be over it. How could she when Angel factored into everything in her life? Even if he wasn't around. And even so, it wasn't fair. Why was he allowed to move on? Did everything they share mean nothing to him? Why is it so easy for him and so hard for her??

Buffy clenched her hands together tightly, painfully. He's found someone new. Buffy wiped the tear falling down her cheek in frustration. But *why*? She could ask herself that question over and over. But no answer came.

Buffy glanced up at the full moon and sighed. This was the perfect ending to the perfect day. She had a nerd troika giving her migraines, Dawn was pissed at her and according to Tara, nothing was wrong with her. Yup, and the big bad Slayer is just a slut who didn't realize her fetish for handcuffs and neutered vampires. To tired to do anything else, Buffy let out a small laugh. Wasn't her life perfect? Screw heaven...this is paradise! And to top it off...Angel and *Cordelia* were having a hot steamy love affair.

Suddenly Buffy was on the defense. She felt a presence standing a few feet behind her. She knew who it was without asking. Taking a deep breath, almost afraid to look, she slowly turned around to face the visitor.

"Angel." she whispered.

Part 7

Somewhere in the middle....

Angel walked slowly up behind her. She was sitting on the same bench that she had been at when the met a few months ago. Her shoulders were slumped slightly, and the wind was blowing her hair softly. She cut it, he noticed, smiling a bit. He took another step towards her and saw her back and shoulders tense up.

He stopped and held his breath. Slowly she turned towards him.

"Angel." she whispered. Her eyes were red and bloodshot, her face pale and tired. Angel swallowed and walked slowly towards her. They didn't say a word as she rounded the bench and sat next to her.

It was a balmy evening for February in California. Angel watched the moon reflect off the lake. Was it this peaceful the last time they met here? His head had been filled with so much emotion. Buffy, Darla, Connor. It almost seemed chaotic. But tonight...it was almost serene. But he knew of the conversation to come...and it frightened him.

He glanced over at Buffy, who studied the sky for a moment before turning to look back at him.

"How did you know I would be here?" she asked quietly. She wondered if he knew she had seen he and Cordelia in their embrace. Or maybe he heard her heart crying for him....it was probably the first one.

"I went to Sunnydale...you weren't there. I figured this is where you would be." he said simply, turning his head away, pretending to observe the wooded area.

"Sunnydale? What for? Is something wrong?" she asked, playing dumb. If they were going to discuss this, she wasn't going to be the one to start it.

He smiled a bit, he knew the way the game was played.

"Sort of. I went looking for you...Buffy, I know you were in L.A., I know you saw Cordy and I..." he didn't know how to end the sentence. He felt her tense up beside him again. He looked down to where their knees touched...it burned his soul to see her inch away.

"Hey no big." she said quickly, jealousy burning inside, "I mean, Cordelia's beautiful. She once told me she was the slayer at dating." Buffy told him, laughing at the memory, "I guess she was right."

"Look Buffy, it didn't mean anything..." Angel said, frowning. He didn't want her to be upset but it irked him a little that she could so easily blow it off.

"Right. Sure it didn't. Angel, it wasn't a peck on the cheek. You two were practically eating each other's face off!" she snapped, suddenly angry that she let herself show emotion. But leave it to Angel to bring it out of her.

Angel gripped his hands together tightly. "Fine. I admit it, for the past few weeks, these feelings had been developing for her."

Buffy shut her eyes tightly. She wasn't hearing this. She just wasn't! "For Cordelia??" baffled she turned to him, "Why? Don't you remember? She was the bitch of Sunnydale! I mean, has she changed *that* much?"

Angel jumped quickly to her defense. "Yes she has. She's caring, strong and a hard worker." He continued, ignoring Buffy's snort. "We became close. I figured it was only natural to care for her like I did."

Buffy stood quickly off the bench. She didn't think she could sit next to him for another moment. She wanted to kiss him so badly...and at the same time pummel him for breaking her heart...again.

Angel grabbed her arm to prevent her from walking away. "It didn't add up to anything Buffy. We kissed...and it was then I realized that I loved her....as a friend." he added quickly before she could jerk away.

"You expect me to believe that?" she asked stubbornly, but doubt began to run through her. Maybe he was telling the truth. But she couldn't find it in herself to let him off the hook so easily.

Angel stood next to her, sliding his hands into his jacket pockets. His fingers itched to touch her...just once. But he couldn't...not yet. Not when there were still so many questions left unanswered. He quickly pulled off his jacket and draped it around her shoulders when he noticed her shiver.

His hands seemed to burn into her skin as they both remembered another time...ages ago...when he had given her his jacket...

*You're cold....*

*You can take it...*

*No, I mean you look cold*

They were silent for a moment before Buffy cleared her throat. "It just baffles my mind Angel...how you could feel something for her...after what we had...maybe I'm being selfish..."

"Yeah well I think you are." he blurted out. She turned and looked at him. Her eyes widened in surprise.

"What? I'm being selfish for holding onto what we had? You only loved one woman in *how many* years? And suddenly you're over it?" she asked harshly. Unable to control his anger, Angel whirled on her.

"And you're so saintly Buffy? I'm standing here, telling you that what happened with Cordelia meant *nothing*! And you have the gall to accuse me of being over what we had when you're busy 'shagging' Spike!" He didn't want to go about that issue the way he had...but he couldn't help the jealously and anger inside. There was obviously going to be no calm conversation....but was there ever with Buffy?

Her face had gone pale...her mouth opened slightly in shock. Suddenly she was speechless.

Riding on the wave of fury, Angel continued. "Yeah, I know all about it. I went to Sunnydale looking for you Buffy, and who do I find cozing up in your living room? What the hell are you thinking?"

Tears formed behind her eyes again. She didn't know anyway to defend herself but to strike back. "What the hell was I thinking? I should have asked myself that when I met you!" she began to stomp away towards her mother's jeep.

"Dammit Buffy, don't walk away." he demanded, quickly blocking her path.

"Look...I can't tell you why I let Spike do those things..." she sobbed, the tears finally spilling over, "All I know is I'm alive when he's with me. He understands me when no one else does!"

Hurt filled Angel's eyes as he tried to make sense of what she was telling him. "*Spike* understands you? Buffy don't you remember what he did to me? To you? I mean, what does he suddenly have a soul or is everyone in Sunnydale living in a Spike-rules alternate universe?"

Buffy shook her head. "He has a chip...the Initiative planted it awhile ago...it restricts Spike from killing or hurting anything human...lately he has been helping us because the chip allows him to cause pain to demons."

Angel laughed in disbelief, "So you're telling me that you hang out with Spike because he's got a CHIP? What do you think he'll do once the chip is gone?" Angel tried to focus on the arguement at hand, but the images of Spike touching Buffy made him sick to his stomach...he almost couldn't bear it.

Defensive, Buffy shrugged, "I try not to think about it! All I know is, he's been helpful to me..to Dawn, to everyone."

"So you're paying him back by sleeping with him?" Angel questioned coldly. The blow to his face had him stepping back a few feet. Angrily, Buffy marched up to Angel and pushed him hard in the chest.

"You don't own me anymore, Angel. I'm free to do whatever I want!"

"Oh really? And it's such a crime for me to kiss Cordelia? You're so one sided Buffy." he accused, rubbing the pain from his jaw.

Frustrated, Buffy ran her hands through her short hair. "God! You know, I came to L.A. to talk to the one person I thought I could really trust. I needed you Angel! I should have known better thought, because look at where we are now." She opened the door to the jeep, glancing back at him. He stood in the moonlight, staring at her with hurt and angry eyes. Her heart ached for just a moment to run to him, ask him to hold her forever and make everything go away. She quickly shook it off. "You were right," she called to him, pausing for a moment, "we live in different worlds. We can never be together, and I'm childish for holding onto something that can't exsist. Goodbye Angel."

Before he could say a word, or even walk to her, Buffy started the jeep and drove off into the night and out of his life...again. Angel turned and threw his fist into the nearest tree, and yelped in pain. Dammit, this didn't work out like he planned. He couldn't leave it like that. He never could. Sighing, Angel headed towards his car. At least it got good gas mileage, he thought, and headed off to Sunnydale once again.

Part 8

Sunnydale, CA

Angel arrived at the Summers' home again, probably no more than 30 minutes behind Buffy. He looked up at the sky, calculating. He didn't have much more time before the sun would begin to rise. Moving quickly he walked over the lawn and up the stairs to her porch. He prayed that Spike was gone, but secretly didn't mind another round of kicking his ass.

He took a breath and knocked. A few minutes passed before Dawn opened the door, observing him closely. "What do *you* want?" she asked snottily. Dawn didn't really mind Angel, she never did, but when she was younger, Xander despised him, and of course, back then Xander was God to her, so she despised Angel too....however, Buffy had come home upset, which put Dawn on the edge.

"I need to talk to Buffy..." he told her, nodding inside. He swallowed audibly as Dawn glared at him for a moment...

"I don't think she wants to talk to you-"

"Dawn, it's okay..." Buffy told her, walking down the stairs. Rolling her eyes, Dawn turned and headed for the kitchen. That way she could hear everything that went on...when Buffy and Angel were around each other, it always made for an interesting show.

Buffy crossed her arms, leaning on the door. "Why are you here?" she asked.

The breeze ruffled through his hair and Buffy bit back the urge to run her fingers through it.

"I couldn't leave it that way Buffy..." he said, pain filling his voice. Why did he always feel like this when he was apologizing to her? Because I'm always afraid of the way she'll respond, he thought to himself.

"Angel, it's okay. I meant what I said....you're in L.A. and I'm here...I can't always be running to you when I'm in trouble..." she admitted, "It's just, sometimes when things are too much, I don't know what else to do but run to you. You're the first thing my brain thinks of."

Buffy caught Angel watching behind her and she quickly turned and caught the sight of Dawn's hair whipping back into the kitchen. Annoyed and amused, Buffy stepped out onto the porch and shut the door firmly behind her. "Sorry," she said sheepishly. Angel smiled, glad that she hadn't slammed the door in his face in the first place. "It's okay, younger siblings...pain in the butt huh?"

"Tell me about it." she agreed, motioning him to sit on the porch steps with her.

"Look Buffy, I want you to always be able to come to me. It kills me sometimes that you don't."

"What do you mean? I figured you would want me to stay away." she whispered, staring inquisitevly into his eyes.

Angel sighed softly, looking up into the sky before he looked at her. "After you...died...I beat myself up everyday about it. I knew everything could have been prevented if you had come to me for help...I pictured myself saving you time and time again." he told her, remembering the nightmares, the tears he had cried for weeks after her death.

Her heart melting, Buffy lifted a hand to stroke his cold cheek. "You couldn't have saved me Angel...death was...my gift. It was going to happen whether you were there or not."

"And then this whole thing with Spike..."

"Can we not go there?" she sighed, not wanting to remember.

"Do you love him?" the question was soft...simple, but urgent. Bufy gazed up at her former lover, noticing the intensity that filled his brown eyes.

"No." she said simply, looking away and into the dark night. She half expected Spike to jump out from behind the bushes, ranting and raving. But there was no sound except for the leaves rustling along the street, and the distance sound of the TV sitcom Dawn was watching inside. Or pretending to watch. No doubt she had her eyes stuck to the window.

Though relief coursed through his body, Angel had to ask. "Do you have romantic feelings for him at all?"

A little smug inside that Angel was so obviously jealous, Buffy took her time answering. "I don't know Angel. I mean, a part of me can't understand what attracts me to him...and another part of me doesn't care. At first I thought I had come back from Heaven wrong. That Willow's spell got screwed up and left me...almost soulless," she felt comfort as Angel grasped her hand tightly,"But Tara...a friend of mine, she checked it out and I'm fine...nothing's wrong...that's why I came to see you."

She breathed deeply. How many times in one night can a girl cry? Angel lifted his free hand to touch her hair, stroking it softly. "If nothing was wrong, why did you need me?"

"I needed you to reassure me that I was still a good person," her voice cracked with emotion, "I don't know why. But I needed to just see you. You're everything that's good and right and he's everything that's wrong...it doesn't make any sense."

Angel pulled her close to him, breathing in the scent of her hair, moved that he could still be a huge part of her life, even when he wasn't around. "You are a good person Buffy. You're just going through something. I know it's dark and painful, but you'll pull through it. You need to turn to your friends. Willow...even Xander. Trying to make your problems go away by sleeping with Spike is only going to make it worse."

"You're just jealous." she stated, smiling through her tears. She leaned and looked intently at him when he said nothing.

"Buffy, I just want you to be careful. I know Spike and he will not make everything okay. If anything, he'll pull you deeper into this depression."  Okay, so he was jealous. And he wanted to do everything in his power to make sure Spike never laid a finger on her again.

Buffy nodded and sat up again. She smiled a little as she looked at him. "Thank you, for coming back here...and talking."

They stared at each other for a moment and before he could stop himself, he leaned forward and kissed her.

Emotions swam through the both of them. Their souls mated and sighed before Angel pulled back, cursing himself.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that...." he began but stopped when she held her finger up to his lips.

"Don't. Don't apologize because I won't forgive you for it. I needed it...things will work out here. I'll be okay..." she said, hoping to herself that it was true. "Seeing you again...it's affected me in ways you'll never know."

But he did know, because it always threw him when she was near. He looked up at the sky, then back to her. "I have to go."

"I know." He always had to go. You think she would be used to it by now, but it still cut deep and it still hurt.

He stood, staring down at her for a moment. He wanted to tell her badly about his prophecy, his shansu, his son. But it wasn't the time. He had to say it this once, because he didn't know when he would be able to say it again. If ever.

"I love you Buffy. I'll never stop. Nothing will change that...."

*Not even death*

She smiled as a tear fell down her cheek onto her top. "I know."

Sighing inwardly, he turned and headed to his car. He looked back once to see she had stood up, watching him leave with a mixture of pain, happiness and regret.

He pulled away from the curb, trying to resist the urge to watch her in his rearview mirror and failing. She didn't move as she watched him drive away. The taste of her still burned his lips and he felt his soul die a little. She always took a piece of him with her. He knew she would come to him in his dreams, as she did every night. And he would have to be content with that.

Buffy watched until his car vanish from view. She could still feel the pressure of his lips on hers, his hands caressing her hair. No, not even three years apart could change what she felt for Angel. Or what he felt for her. Lovers may come and go between them, but in the end, their roads would always lead back to each other.

Slowly she walked back up the porch stairs and entered the house. She smiled at Dawn, who smiled back knowingly. Buffy turned to shut the door and shrieked a bit.

"Dammit, Spike. What do you want?" she asked the blonde vampire. He grinned suggestively and Buffy wondered who had given him the bruised jaw before realizing with a small smile.

"You know what I want luv...maybe we could head back over to my-"

"Goodbye Spike." Buffy stated aggresively and slammed the door. It was time to start over.