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PoYW - NeXt

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Part 17

*********

  "Buffy! Lets go!" Giles screamed up the stairs. He walked to the hall mirror and checked his bow tie. Tonight, he wasnt Giles the dad, he was Giles the chaperone.

  "I'm coming!" Buffy yelled back down the stairs.

  Giles checked his hair and then looked down at his watch. "Hm, the little buggers late", he said out loud.

  "Daddy, whats a bugger?" James asked as he yanked on Giless pant leg.

  "Nothing a little boy needs to know about", Giles said as he kissed the young boy on his forehead.

  Giles looked at his watch again. "8:30 Buffy!" He screamed. "Scott is going to be here soon!"

  Buffy let out a groan. "Giles! Do you know how hard it is to dry your hair, apply mascara, and put on panty hose at the same time?"

  Giles opened his mouth to speak then closed it. "No, come to think of it."

  "Exactly!" Buffy yelled back down the stairs.

  About five minutes later, Scott arrived.

  "Hello, um, Scott, right?" Giles said as he offered his hand to the young man.

  "Yeah! You're Giles, right?" He said as he slapped Giless hand. Giles looked down at his hand and stared.

 " Um, right want to uh, come in?"

  "Sure!" Scott said as he walked in.

  Giles followed Scott into the living room and offered him a seat.

  "Nope", Scott said as he leaned against the doorway.

  Giles smiled politely and looked him over. Scott was good looking with his strawberry blond hair and clear blue eyes. He was wearing a black tux with a red cumberbun and he held a corsage.

  "Um, is that for Buffy?" Giles asked as he nodded toward the box.

  Scott looked down," Oh, yeah I almost forgot. It's kinda wilted because I forgot to put it in the fridge, but I figure, who's gonna be looking at her wrist?"

  Giles smiled again and then grabbed a hold of James. "James, do me a favor and entertain Scott while I go get Buffy", he said.

  James looked at Scott. "He isn't as tall or pretty as Angel", James said. "Do I have to stay with him?"

  Giles chuckled nervously and looked up at Scott. Scott obviously missed Jamess rude comment, and was looking at the ceiling.

  "Not the brightest one", Giles thought as he got up from his kneeling position and walked to the stairs.

  "Buffy! I'm not going to ask you a" He said. When he looked at Buffy, however, his jaw dropped.

  Buffy was wearing a light red dress with a criss-crossing back and a  plunging neck line that stopped right at the curve of her breast. It had a slit up the right leg, and a layer of see through shiny fabric over the bottom half. Buffys hair was pulled back into a half pony tail, only allowing 2 little strands of hair to hang loosely around her face. She wore enough make up to make her look astounding, and her face had a sort of glimmer to it. All in all, she was absolutely breath taking.

  Buffy smiled nervously. "Well?"

  Giles stopped gaping and smiled warmly. "Buffy, you look---look beautiful", Giles said.

  Buffy smiled brightly at him and proceeded down the stairs.

 " I look that bad, huh?" She asked.

  Giles's smile broadened. "Buffy, this is one of those moments when I am so proud to say that I am your guardian."

  Buffy stepped in and gave him a hug. "You're more than my guardian you're my dad", she said.

  Giles felt tears start to form behind his eyes, and he blinked them back. Never, in the 2 years Buffy had known him, had she once called him her dad. The feeling made his heart leap and his embrace tighten.

  "Hey, Buffy", Scott said as he leaned against the door. "You look great."

  Buffy smiled. "Thank you, Scott."

  Buffy walked toward Scott and looked down at the corsage. "Is that for me?"

  Scott drug his eyes away from her and looked down at the package. "Yeah here", he said as he handed it to Buffy. Although slightly wilted, the corsage was still beautiful. It was a single white rose with several tiny babys breaths surrounding it.

  Buffy smiled and put it on. Then, she turned to James and Giles. James approached her and smiled.

  "You look so prettiful", James said as he gave her a hug.

  Buffy smiled and hugged him back. "Thank you, sweetie."

  Buffy took Scott's offered arm and strolled out the open door toward his Neon.

  Although to the outside world Buffy looked happy, on the inside, her heart was falling to pieces.

 

******************

 

  "Quite the shindig", Oz commented as he took a drink of the punch. "The punch tastes like Trix cereal", he said. "All in all, this is a very productive way to spend my evening."

  Willow smiled and smoothed out a wrinkle in her emerald green dress. She then instinctively reached up and felt her hair that was held in a claw.

  "Hey, all you party animals", Xander said as he walked over to them.

  "Hey, Xander", Will said. "Whats wrong? No date?"

  Xander smirked. "Oh, Ive got a date."

  "Now, remembe"r, Oz said, "cousins and inflatable dolls dont count."

  Xander sneered. "Laugh now my friends. Because when you see my date oh look, there she is!"

  Both Oz and Willow turned around to look at the girl Xander was motioning toward.

  What they saw surprised them both.

  "Xander! Someone stepped on my new Marina shoes!" Cordelia whined as she walked toward them.

  "Don't worry, Cordy, you still look beautiful", Xander said.

  Cordy smiled brightly. "Well, of course I do."

  "Hey, Cordelia", Willow said. Her shock was still evident on her face.

  "Hey, um, Willow?" Cordelia said.

 " I hope you don't mind me asking, but how did you two?" Oz asked.

  "Oh, weve been making out the entire school year. I didn't have a date, and he was begging to take me so I went", Cordelia said.

  Willow couldn't hide the smirk that crept over her face.

  "That would explain why you forgave me", Buffy said as she walked up behind Xander.

  "Hey, Buff!" Xander said. "You look wow", he said. He looked her up and down. "Why Elizabeth Summers, you look positively gorgeous."

  "Cordelia smacked him, Hey!"

  Xander back tracked. "Of course, you don't compare to the radiant beauty I have on my arm", he said.

  Buffy smiled knowingly." I get'cha."

  "Scott, hey", Willow said when she finally noticed him behind Buffy.

  "Oh, yeah, sorry. This is Scott", Buffy said.

  They all nodded and waved.

  "Hey, Im going to go get some punch", Buffy said to Scott.

  Scott nodded and said all right.

  Buffy sighed and walked over to the punch bowl.

  "Not the most lively boy", Giles said as Buffy approached him.

  Buffy gave him a look. "Why is it that youre chaperoning again?"

  "Because I am a respected man in the school system, even though I am no longer working, and they respect and admire me", Giles said.

  "They had no one else to chaperone" Buffy said.

  "That's right", Giles said as he took another drink of punch.

  "Hm, well, youre right. He isnt the liveliest person. At least he hasg ood hygiene", she said.

  "Right", Giles said as he smiled at her. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

  "Where is Angel?"

  "Well, I think I am going to go now", Giles said as he walked toward the dancing mob. "Have a nice evening!"

  "You too!" Buffy yelled back.

  "Hey, wanna dance? "Scott said as he approached her.

  Buffy looked around. "Um, why not."

  Scott led her out onto the dance floor.

  Buffy rested her head against his shoulder as the sound began.

  

 

 

  Never knew I could feel like this

  Like Ive never seen the sky before

  Want to vanish inside your kiss

  Everyday I love you more and more

 

  Buffy could feel tears begin to push past her eyelids and she pulled away quickly.

  "I'm sorryI-I have to go" She said as she walked away.

  She made it outside before she started crying.

  "This is all wrong!" She wailed as she walked outside of Sunnydale High. "Angel! Where are you?"

  "Right her"e, a voice said from the shadows.

  Buffy turned around. "Angel?" She asked.

  Angel's face was covered by a shadow, but it sounded like him, it looked like himit had to be him.

  Buffy ran toward Angel. "Angel! Angel! Im so glad youre here!"

  Roman opened his arms and waited, the knife poised in his hand.

  "I'm right here, love I'm right here"

Part 18

********

  "Angel!" Buffy cried happily. "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry!"

  Roman extended his arms in a gesture of a hug. "Shhh, baby, its okay everythings going to be fine. Wait and see", he said. He situated the knife so it sat in the crook of his hand. "I promise. Everything will be all right."

 

**********

 

  "Faith? Faith!" Angel yelled through the house. "Faith! Come on! You said you wanted to go to dinner over an hour ago! Whats your problem?"

  No answer. Angel sighed and smoothly ascended the stairway.

  "Faiiiith?" He asked. He walked from the kitchen to the bathroom and knocked.

  "Well, the lights on, and the water is running so I am going to guess she's in there", Angel thought.

 " Faith?" He hollered into the bathroom. "Come on, we gotta go! I'm starved!"

  Angel waited a few seconds for a reply. No answer.

  The crease in his forehead became deeper. "Faith?"

  He knocked once and then went to open the door. It was locked.

  Immediately, Angel became panicked. No one in their house locked the door. No one.

  So why was the door locked?

  Angel didn't wait for his subconcious to answer. He stepped back from the door and kicked in. The door split under his boot, and allowed him some entrance.

  "Faith!" He yelled through the crack that was now much bigger. "FAITH!?"

  He stepped back and kicked again. This time, the door didn't just creak and split, it came off the hinges.

  The door flew off its hinges and lied on the ground in front of Angel.

  Thats when he saw her.

 

*********

 

  "Angel!" Buffy repeated as if it was too good to be true.

  "Yes, love. I'm right here. Come and get me, Buff", he said.

  Buffy froze in mid step. "What did you say?"

  "I said come here", Roman replied.

  "No, you called me, Buff. You never call me Buff", she said. Her brow started to twitch. "Angel, whats going on? Angel?"

  Roman stepped out of the shadows." Actually, its Roman."

  Buffy stepped back in shock. Horrified shock.

  "Aww, whats the matter, Buff? Disappointed?" Roman taunted.

  Buffy opened her mouth, but no words came out.

  "Oh, come on, Buff. Thought youd be happy to see me. After all, we have so many things to talk about", Roman said.

  Buffy finally squeaked a response. "R-Roman"

  Roman shook his head. "I thought youd catch on faster than that."

  Buffy must have tapped into her courage box, because her brow furrowed and she placed her hands on her hips. "What the hell do you want?"

  "Oh, come now, Buff. Don't be mean. I thought we could havea nice chat", he said. Roman smirked as he looked Buffy over. Small frame, blond hair, small shapely figure, pretty face. Well, except for the scowl.

  Roman smiled. Buffy noticed just how much Roman favored. They looked almost identical. That is, if it weren't for the scar creeping down his face.

  Buffy raised her eye brow in disgust. "WHAT are you staring at?"

  Roman made a move toward her, but Buffy took a step back." Easy there, tiger. If I wanted you dead, I'd have done it already."

  Buffy considered this for a moment, while Roman continued on.

  "No, you see, I was just mentally complimenting my brothers taste in women. Always did love a blond", Roman said. He could see Buffy's nose flare for a moment, but if he were to have blinked he would have missed it. "Jealous are we?" He inquired.

  Buffy mentally kicked herself for even reacting to that comment, but the thought of Angel with other girls kicked her into jealous mode.

  Youre the only woman Ive ever been withI love you.

  "No, because I know Angel loves me. He LOVES me", Buffy said. She saw

a murderous look pass Romans features for a split second, but in that split second, Buffy had enough to fight back with. "Oh, whats the matter, Roman? Jealous that Angel actually felt something besides the cold?"

  Roman didnt glare like Buffy had intended. Instead, he smirked and looked her over for a second. Buffy was fighting the urge to run as far away as possible.

  "No, I have to stay. If he wants to fight then well fight", Buffy thought.

  But as Roman continued to look at her with a glint of something Buffy couldnt identify in his eyes, she caught herself thinking something different.

 

  "Angel where are you?"

 

*********

 

  "Faith"! Angel screamed as he ran in the bathroom and toward the bathtub.

  Faith was lying unconcious in the bathtub, still clothed, and bruised badly around her temple area, her hands tied above her head and connected to the spiggat.. She was in water up to past her nose, and the water was slowly but surely rising steadily.

  "Faith! Wake up!" Angel yelled as he turned the off the water and yanked his sister out of the water.

  Nothing.

  Angel bent his head and listened for a heartbeat.

  Nothing.

  Angel took Faith by the shoulders and shook her.

 " Faith! STOP PLAYING AROUND! FAITH! FAITH!?!" He yelled. His voice echoed through the bathroom. Angel held onto his sister as he cried.

  "Oh, Faith Faith Faith"

 

********

 

  "Now, what in God's name are you staring at?" Buffy asked.

  Roman didnt answer for a second, but when he did, she could barely hear him.

  "Another Kayleigh another one"

  Buffy was confused. "Who the hell is Kayleigh?"

  Roman smirked. "Angels ex-love. They had something sweet and innocent. Something true. That is until she died. Know how?"

  Buffy felt her body go rigid. "How."

  Roman didnt answer. Instead, he lunged at her, knife in hand.

  Buffy just had time to duck out of the way and roll into a fighting stance, which was in no way easy because she was still wearing a formal dress.

  "Ohh, Buff is going to try to hurt me. Okay then, lets go", Roman said as he pulled out his knife.

  Buffy made the first move this time. She went in and faked a left jab, and instead bent forward and kicked him in the nose. But Roman wasnt one to fall with just one hit. He quickly retaliated and grabbed her oncoming fist and bent it sideways, causing Buffy to groan in pain. She tried to free herself by kicking him in the midsection, but Roman easily blocked her kick with his free hand.

  "Whats the matter, Buff? That all you got?" Roman taunted as he threw Buffy mercilessly to the ground.

  Buffy grunted as she hit the hard ground and looked up at his massive form. "Nope. Just getting started", she said as she launched herself from the ground. She managed to land a solid roundhouse kick to his left side, quickly following with four solidly planted punches to his midsection. As he instinctively bent over to protect his abdomen, Buffy drew her elbow up and elbowed him in the small of his back, making him stumble a little. The last solid kick she got in was a booted kick that brought him down to his knees. She brought her leg swiftly up to kick him in the side, when he retaliated and grabbed her foot. He pulled her leg down, making her legs collapse beneath her. Roman quickly scaled her body until they were face to face, and he was straddling her thighs.

  "Well, well, well, Ms. Summers. Interesting predicament you're in. Out of fight?" Roman taunted.

  Instead of answering, Buffy brought her knee up and pushed it forcefully against his groin.

  "Not quite", she said. She pushed him off and climbed back to her feet.

  "Play nice now, Buff," Roman said as he yanked her forward into a punch that sent her sprawling. He kicked her in the midsection. Buffy whirled around to give him a roundhouse followed by a high jump kick, but Roman caught her leg effortlessly and kicked her again in the stomach. Then, as she fell back, he jumped and kicked her in the chin hard enough to send her falling onto her back.

  "Come on, Buff, thought you wanted a fight", Roman said. Buffy staggered to her feet and took a shaky fighting stance. The last blow made her vision get blurry and her head quake.

  "I'm I-'Im ready", she managed to choke out. Roman smiled and advanced.

 " Good."

 

*********

 

  "Oh, Faith". Angel cried. "I'm so sorry."

  Angel fingered her wet hair.

  "Ug-h-hggh", Faith said as she spit up water.

  "Faith!" Angel cried happily as she choked.

  Faith choked on water and spit it out. "R-Roman."

  Angel shushed her. "No, shh, not now."

  Faith pushed him off. "NO! ROMAN DID THIS! HE DID IT BECAUSE I FOUND OUT!"

  Angel shook his head in confusement. "FOUND OUT WHAT? WHAT DID YOU FIND OUT?"

  Faith sat up. "He's going to Sunnydale High. He's going to kill Buffy", she said.

  The next few moments were a blur for Faith. She saw her brother get up. She heard him tell her to go to bed.

  "Go to bed, Faith", Angel said as he grabbed his duster and ran out of the house.

   "Buffy. Please hold on", he thought as he ran in the direction of his car. When he got to the docks, however, his car was gone.

  "Where the hell did it go? Roman", he said. He didnt even think about it twice. Instead, he made his way down the docks and ran the one and a half miles to Sunnydale High.

  "Please Buffy. Please be okay."

 

*********

 

  "If it wasn't for you, we'd still be a family! We'd still be a whole!" Roman said as he punched Buffy in the abs. Her hair was disheveled and her perfect red dress was now brown with mud, and her face was caked with blood and dirt.

  "Yeah, and if it weren't for you, Angel wouldn't be so lost. He wouldnt have his mothe'rs blood on his soul," Buffy retorted wearily. She was barely fighting back. She felt so tired. All she wanted to do was sleep. But she knew, that if she slept, she'd be as good as dead.

  Buffy attempted a weak punch and missed by half a mile.

  "Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. Stop fighting it. Your'e going to lose", Roman said.

  "No", Buffy said firmly as she kicked him rightly in the stomach.

  Roman got mad this time. "Buffy, why bother?!"

  "Because I love him", she said as she charged at him.

  Romans eyes flashed angrly as she came closer. In the last second, he moved out of the way and caught her moving body by the hair. He held her so she was bent backwards and her neck was exposed.

  He then pulled out the knife he had cradled in his pocket the entire time. Buffy looked up at the reddish brown stains on the glistening metal.

  "I'm sorry I have to do this but you've left me no choice", he said as he ran the metal edge madly along her delicate throat. "Goodbye, Buffy Summers."

  Buffy didnt feel the knife cutting through her skin. She didnt hear her own screams.

  She did hear the sound of her mothers voice when she was alive, and the smell of her sweet perfume. She could recall the day James was born, and the smell of his soft baby fresh hair. She remembered Giles and how he had been more like a father than any other man could. Oh, how she loved him. And she remembered Angel

  Angel

  Angel

 

**********

 

  Angel charged through the grass at top speed.

 " I'm sorry I have to do this but you've left me no choice," Roman said as he looked gleefully down at Buffy.

  Angel ran as fast as he could. He saw Roman raise the knife.

  After that, it all happened in slow motion. He saw the knife get closer and closer to the milky skin of Buffys throat. He felt his legs grow jello-y from exhaustion of running a full mile and a half at top speed, but he made them move forward.

  "Roman!! STOP!" Angel yelled at Roman. Roman looked up at Angel in surprise.

  "Why, brother how nice to see you" Roman said. Angel quickly kicked his arm and sent the knife flying. Then, he kicked Roman in the stomach and grabbed Buffy before Roman took her down with him.

  "What the fuck are you doing?!" Roman demanded. He stood up straight and looked down at his brother.

  "Don't do this, Roman. Don't do this", Angel said as he sat Buffy down beneath a tree.

  "The little whore stole you from me!" Roman yelled.

  Angel whipped out and punched him in the jaw so hard, Roman went crashing into the side of Sunnydale High.

  "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NEVER TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HER AGAIN!" Angel said as he stood his ground.

  Roman stood up and looked at Angel madly. "Are you sure you wanna do this?"

  Angel nodded. "Last time I ignored your threats, it cost me my brother. The time before that, it was my mother. I will not let you touch the love of my life", he said.

  Roman lunged at Angel. He sent out his right foot and delievered a strong right kick to Angels side. Before Angel had time to retaliate, Roman grabbed Angel's arm and wrenched it behind his back. Angel took his other free hand and side punched Roman until he loosened his grip enough for Angel to slide out.

  "Ugh", Angel grunted as Roman kicked his chest. Although Angel was strong and swift, Roman was older and had a slight advantage over Angel.

  Roman punched Angel in the face until Angel felt his jaw pop. Roman then, grabbed Angel and hauled him over his shoulder and drop kicked him into the ground. Angel lied on the ground.

  "Come on, Angel", Roman taunted. He kicked Angel in the side a couple of times. When Angel spit up blood, he stopped and bent down.

  "You're not going to tell me you are fighting for this bitch "When Roman didnt get the response he was looking for, he added, "she is even bitchier than my whore of mother."

  In an instant, Angel was on his feet and throwing punches so hard and so fast, Roman was rendered helpless. Finally, Angel hauled back and punched Roman so hard, he landed on the ground. Roman coughed and spit out a tooth.

  Angel was panting heavily as Roman lied on the ground. Suddenly, Roman saw something glittering in the moonlight.

  His knife.

  He cautiously crawled over toward the knife. Angel must have noticed too, because he was following Romans pursuit.

  Angel bent down to get the handle, when Roman reached up and knocked his legs from under him.

  Roman grabbed the knife and brought Angel to his feet. He punched Angel a few times in the face, then he raised the knife above his head.

It was at that moment that both Angel and Buffy had epiphanies.

  As Angel watched Roman raise the knife above his head, he realized for the first time that he had been protecting Roman all this time. He honestly believed that Roman was a good person underneath all that turmoil. He honestly believed that. But as he watched Roman raise the knife over his head, he looked deep into Roman's eyes. And what he saw frightened him more than anything. It was the same look he had on his face the night he killed his mom.

  Pure emptiness.

  Nothingness.

  An empty heart.

  Angel closed his eyes and waited for it. However, he didnt feel the knife slicing through his chest.

  For Buffy had an epiphany too. At that moment, she realized that more than anything, she loved this man. More than life itself. And if watching him live his life meant sacrificing her own, then so be it.

  Buffy stood up and kicked the knife straight out of Romans hand

  And into Angel's.

  Roman turned around and shoved Buffy back down to the ground. S"TAY OUTTA THIS, BITCH! "

  When Roman turned back around, Angel was holding the knife. Angel smirked. "Games over."

  Roman let out a yell and grabbed the knife back out of Angel's unprepared hands. He stabbed wildly at Angel in pure rage. Angel dodged each blow easily. Then, when Roman struck, Angel moved out of the way and turned his arm upward. The knife struck Roman in the chest and drove all the way through.

  Angel grabbed a hold of the knife and pulled it out. Roman laughed insanely then gave Angel a look that made his heart wrench. 

  "Brother?" Roman said as he fell to his knees. He looked deep into Angel's eyes. Angel finally saw the innocent little boy that had been corrupted so long ago.

  "No we stopped being brothers a long time ago. I'm sorry. Forgive me." Angel whimpered a little, but pulled himself together. He grabbed Romans hand and held it, as Roman squeezed it in pain.

  "I always did love you," Roman said.

  Angel felt a tear leak out of his eye. "I love you too."

  Then, Roman died.

  Angel held onto his brothers hand for a long time until Buffy finally spoke up.

  "Angel?" She asked quietly as if one word would break the silence into little shards of glass.

  Angel turned around and gave her a sad smile. "It's okay. Everythings going to be okay now", he said. Then, he turned and walked back home.

  Buffy stared after him until he disappeared and the events of the night got the best of her.

  Buffy sat down and cried.

  She didn't stop crying when the ambulance arrived two hours later.

Part 19

********

  "Wow, Buffy" Willow said later that week while they were sitting in front of the school. Word of Buffy's attack had circulated throughout the school until it was manipulated into a psycho clown attacking her with a chainsaw. Buffy made them none the wiser.

 " I'm sorry I wasnt there for you. I mean, I would have called the cops or something."

  Buffy smiled sadly. "It's okay. I'm fine. A couple cuts. A few bruises. A fractured wrist."

  Willow smiled. "Yeah. I guess youre pretty lucky when you think about how he almost killed you."

  Buffy winced. "Yeah. I guess so. I never thought anyone could be that sick. He wanted to kill me because I caused Angel happiness."

  "What kind of psycho goes nutty because their brother is happy" Willow said. "Oh wait, the psycho thing really covers that one"

  "I know, its just that When he looked at me all I saw was malice and hate in his eyes. I didn't think anyone could hate me that much. For no real reason," Buffy said.

  "Yeah So have you heard from Angel?" Will asked.

  Buffy bit her lip. "No not  yet Will, I came out of there with a couple knicks. Angel he came out with more than a bruise. He killed his own brother."

  Willow sighed. "I can't even begin to imagine how bad he must feel"

  Buffy sighed too. "I'm positive I don't want to find out."

  Willow smiled. "Hopefully you never will."

  Buffy smiled sadly. "Hopefully."

 

*****************

  "Hey, guys! Lets go"! Xander yelled through Buffys house. Gile's was out of town, so the gang decided to take Buffy out to cheer her up.

  "Yeah, really. I mean, my hair is going to look AWFUL by the time we get there if we dont leave now!" Cordelia said.

  "Don't worry honey, it looks wonderful", Xander said. Cordelia flashed him a bright smile.

  "We're here", Will said as she trotted down the stairs with Oz. "All ready to go."

  "Where's Buffy"? Xander asked. Willow shrugged.

  "I'm not going", Buffy said as she walked down the stairs. She was wearing sweats and a pair of ADIDAS sandals. Not exactly Bronze clothes.

  "Ugh, why not?" Xander asked.

  "I don't know I just need some time alone", she said.

  Xander opened his mouth to reply. "But Buffy"

 " Go ahead. Enjoy yourself", Willow finished. "Wel'l talk to you later."

  "Bye guys", Buffy said as she headed back upstairs.

  Willow herded them outside and closed the door.

  "Okay, I was only talking, Will. What gives?" Xander asked.

  "Look, Buffy has been through a lot lately. I think she needs time to think and be alone", she replied.

  "I agree", Cordelia said. Everyone turned to look at her.

  "You do?" Xander asked.

  "Yeah, because the sooner we leave and stop arguing, the sooner we get to the Bronze", she replied.

  Xander sighed. "Tact, Cordy. Tact."

 

*****************

 

  Buffy watched them get into Oz's van from the window.

  "So much for fun today", she said to herself.

  Buffy plopped down on her bed and turned on the T.V. Hmm.... Maury.... Oprah... Disney Channel... she said. She suddenly stopped flipping.

  Forrest Gump She felt the longing she had tried to push aside for the last week resurface. Buffy blinked hard and stopped the tears that were forming from spilling down her cheeks.

  "There's no use crying. Angel isnt here. Angel left town for all you know", Buffy thought.

  But as hard as she tried to convince herself, Buffy couldnt ignore the part of her heart that still ached for Angel.

  "Angel where are you?" She wondered aloud.

  She was about to indulge herself in yet another cry-fest when the doorbell rang.

  Buffy quickly blew her nose and wiped her eyes. "The last thing I need is for some stranger to see me shit-faced."

  She flipped the T.V. off and ran down the steps. "Coming"

  Buffy reached for the handle and stopped. Something was weird. She felt the familiar pang in her stomach. Her toes were tingling, and her hands were sweating uncontrollably. "Gees, Buffy calm down", she said to herself as she turned the knob.

  "Can I help you" she said. Buffy stared in shock. Her big green eyes had become wide and teary, and her palms felt like she dipped them in water.

 " Hi", Angel said as he shuffled his feet a bit.

  Buffy felt her heart start hammering in her chest." Hi."

  "Um, how are you doing?" Angel asked.

  "UTTERLY  HOPELESS COMPLETELY LOST WITHOUT YOU!!" Her heart screamed.

 " I'm doing okay. You?" Buffy answered instead. "Good stick with the automated answers", she thought. No need to make this more complicated than it already is.

  "Better", he answered with a little apologetic tone to his voice. "Much better."

  "You're looking good", Buffy said. Good Buffy. Automated. Automated. Stick with automated

  "Look, Im sorr" Angel started.

  "Damn, so much for easy". Buffy thought.

  Buffy held up her hand to stop him. "I know it's just it's been rough."

  Angel looked back down at his feet. "Oh okay."

  They stood there in awkward silence for a moment. Angel continuously shuffled his feet nervously. His sincerity almost made Buffy want to smile

  Almost.

  She could still feel the torturous feeling of longing and passion in her belly. She was pretty sure that if she had been watching this from another point of view, she would be laughing it was so pathetic.

  Angel broke the silence. "Do you want to talk about it?"

  Buffy sighed deeply.

  "NO! NO TALKING! KISS ME! NOW!"

I don't know I mean, it feels"

 "Like someone pouring salt into an already open wound?" Angel asked. He looked up at her. Still beautiful. Still perfect.

  "Still hurt". He thought.

  Even though he loved her more than she knew, he knew that she was still upset, and she was still hurt. More emotionally than physically.

  "Then again, those are the worst kinds of wounds", Angel thought.

  Buffy stared into his deep brown eyes.

  "Oh, God I love him so much", she thought. "Even now after all this. I love him. There's no one else."

  Buffy closed her eyes. She didnt stop the tears from spilling silently down her face, nor the gentle hand that brushed the tears away.

  Buffy bit her lip.

  "Buffy say something", Angel said softly, as he caressed her face and gently toyed with a strand of honey hair.

  Buffy sighed. "Forrest Gump?"

  "Huh?" Angel asked." Oh great. Very articulate of you."

  "Would you like to come in and watch Forest Gump?" Buffy replied as her eyes fluttered open.

  Angel smiled. "I thought you said that it made you depressed to watch it because she dies in the end."

  "Yeah, well, a friend once told me, that as long as you've lived a life worth living, death is really nothing more, than living in a memory", Buffy said.

  Angel looked into Buffy's mossy green eyes.

  "I love you", he said as he pulled her closer.

  Buffy let out a happy sob. "Oh, God! Shut up and kiss me!"

  Angel laughed. "My pleasure."

 

  I love thee with the breath,

   Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,

   I shall love thee better after death.

           ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

The End...Beautiful, right? *G*