CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT?
by Debbie Nockels
(May 2000)

RATING: G
SPOILERS: BtVS: "TheYoko Factor" A:TS: "Sanctuary"
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters from BTVS or ANGEL. They're owned by Joss Whedon (who ought to treat them nicer), MutantEnemy, the WB, etc.
SUMMARY: A reworking of some moments from "The Yoko Factor"
NOTES: I started this with the idea of expanding just slightly on the farewell scene between Buffy and Angel in that ep, and as usual it took on a life of its own as unadressed issues demanded to be - well, addressed. The lyrics are from "Can You Feel The Love Tonight", by Elton John & Tim Rice, from the movie THE LION KING
.

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Can you feel the love tonight
It is where we are
It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer
That we got this far

<><><><><><><><>



 "What?" Riley couldn't believe what he was hearing. Buffy wanted time alone with that . . . vampire?

 "Riley, please."

He stared at her, dumbfounded. She had to be kidding. Did she really think he'd leave her alone with her ex, a vampire who had lost his soul and thereby any goodness that might have been attached to it? Regardless that the reason Angel had lost his soul was because Buffy had once again slept with him (and how that thought stabbed), he still didn't want her to get hurt.

  "I am not leaving this room," he stated distinctly, folding his arms and staring at her. "I mean it."

 Buffy gazed at him for a moment, obviously gauging his determination, then turned and caught Angel's eye. The vampire rose and followed her out of the room. That slight swagger and the cocky smirk on his face made Riley's fist itch. Defeated, he muttered as the door shut behind them, "Not moving a muscle."

 Then he heard voices, not muffled as they would be through a closed door, but clearly. Looking over his shoulder, he spied the reason: the door hadn't caught when it was closed. A hairline crack of light showed between it and the jamb. Silently he stole over and listened.

 "Okay, I come to see you - to help you - and you treat me like I'm just . . . your ex."

 "Well, technically - " began Angel in a quiet, even reasonable, voice - a voice completely different from the tone he'd used up to this point. At least when talking to Riley.

 "Shut up!"

 Whew! Riley raised his eyebrows. Buffy was good and mad. Well, that was fine with him. Riley did some smirking of his own at the mental image of the big bad vampire being told off by this little slip of a girl, Slayer though she was.

 "And then you order me out of ‘your' city - and then you come here and start pounding on my boyfriend! I would really like to know: what the hell are you trying to do?" Her voice rose to a near shout; Riley smiled happily.

 "I was trying to make things better."

 There was silence. Riley lost his jaw. Man, he couldn't wait for Buffy's reaction to that inane remark. Wait a minute, what exactly was Angel trying to make better? That didn't sound as if he and Buffy had exactly had a happy reunion in L.A. The jealousy that had been gnawing at Riley since he first encountered Angel lessened. Then, to his disbelief and considerable dismay, he heard a familiar chuckle: Buffy's. And then a deeper, baritone chuckle: Angel's. A few seconds later:

 "It's, uh . . . going pretty good, don't you think?" Another soft, rueful laugh from Angel.

 "Swell." Buffy's voice was rich in sardonic humor.

 Riley gritted his teeth. He had to see her face, try to understand what she was feeling. Carefully he eased the door open about half an inch, holding his breath that it wouldn't squeak or creak or anything. It didn't, and he was rewarded with the sight of Buffy and Angel confronting each other with at least eight feet of space between them. Buffy more or less faced him; all he could see of Angel was his back. His broad, muscular back, tapering to a trim waist and firm butt. Buffy appreciated firm butts, he knew. He yanked his thoughts back to the scene he was spying on.

 Suddenly growing serious, Angel continued, "I couldn't leave it like that, Buffy. The way I spoke to you . . . I came to apologize. I had no right." Even Riley couldn't deny his sincerity; it was evident.

 "You said I was nobody." Riley frowned at the hurt in her voice and expression.

 "I know; I'm sorry." There came a sigh. "Buffy, the mood Kate was in I just didn't know what she might do. I didn't want her to start in on you too."

 "Kate?"

 "The detective who arrested me."

 Riley blinked. Angel had been arrested? Just what in hell had happened down there?

 "Oh. The blonde cop. How do you know her?" Buffy casually asked.

 Too casually? Riley scowled even harder.

 "We've . . . sort of worked together a few times, on cases." Angel's explanation came slowly. "It's a . . . pretty long story."

 "She was a friend?" Buffy regarded him steadily.

 "She was, yes." Angel's voice was heavy. "Then she found out I'm a vampire. She - didn't handle the knowledge well, especially after her father was killed by vamps."

 Buffy's eyes fell. "I'm sorry." After a second she looked up again. "And Riley? Why did you beat up on him?"

 "I got jumped by some soldiers," Angel told her. "He came in in the middle of it, and he wasn't exactly forthcoming with the benefit of the doubt."

 Riley bit his lip, wishing he could refute that statement. But he couldn't. True, he hadn't seen the beginning of the fight between Angel and the Initiative team, but that didn't matter. When it came to HSTs the Initiative acted first and asked questions - well, they didn't. He knew Angel's story was probably true. Certainly it was as far as his own part in it was concerned. Of course, on the other hand -

 Buffy also nodded in acceptance then said, gently, "And of course you did everything you could to clear up the misunderstanding."

 Angel shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Then he sighed and said, sheepishly, "Uh, not exactly; no."

 Buffy continued. "Try to put yourself in his place."

 "I was in his place; remember?" Angel said quietly, his voice taut with pain. He took a step toward her. Riley stiffened, ready to come to Buffy's aid if necessary.

 "Look." Buffy paused, glancing away from Angel, and he stopped. She went on, slowly, with difficulty, as if the words were painful to get out. "Angel - you weren't entirely wrong with what you said in L.A. We don't - "

 She stopped and swallowed, then raised pain-filled eyes to his. "We don't live in each other's worlds anymore. I had no right to burst in on yours and start making judgments. It's just - when I saw you with Faith, like that, I . . . I guess I went a little crazy."

 After a second the vampire said, "I understand. Buffy, I don't blame you for being upset. Faith has caused you more pain than anyone - " He stopped abruptly. "Than almost anyone."

 Riley knew he was remembering the hell he'd put Buffy through two years ago. For the first time he put himself in Angel's place, albeit unwillingly. What must it feel like, to suddenly wake up and find out that the night of your greatest happiness had been the beginning of horror for the girl you loved? That something evil had taken over your body so that you had no control over it, and it had been responsible for inflicting months of pain and terror on her and her friends? That it had killed a woman close to them? That it had come damn close to ending the world?

 And what must it be like to know that never again could you make love to the girl you loved, because to do so would unleash the horror all over again? He swallowed hard.

 "You almost died last year because of Faith," Buffy whispered. "I'll never forgive her for that." In the dim lighting of the hallway her shadowed eyes looked huge. "Never."

 "And two nights ago she was pleading with me to kill her."

 "What?" Buffy stared at Angel.

 "We were fighting." Angel gave a little laugh. "Actually, she was kicking the hell out of me. But I knew what she was really trying to do, and I told her that I wouldn't make it easy for her."

 Buffy moistened her lips. "What do you mean? I don't understand."

 "She was trying to goad me." Angel paused. "When I wouldn't play her game, she broke down completely. She begged me to kill her."

 Buffy inhaled sharply; her eyes got a faraway look in them. She whispered, "When Faith and I were fighting . . . she was hitting me. And she was yelling . . . things. She said I was bad and evil . . . that I didn't deserve to live." Then she focused again on Angel.

 "I was still in her body. She was talking about herself, wasn't she? Beating up on herself."

 Angel nodded slowly. "It sounds that way. Buffy, she hates herself more than you possibly could."

 Buffy also nodded. "I should have trusted you, Angel. I don't blame you for getting angry at me."

 "I'm still sorry for yelling at you."

 She smiled, a bit tremulously, and moved a few steps closer. "Thank you."

 Quietly Riley closed the door. It was obvious to him that there was still strong feeling between Buffy and her ex, and he had no desire to find out just how strong that emotion was. He walked to the center of the room and stared out the window.

 Or what, exactly, the emotion was.

<><><><><><>



"And next time," added Angel, trying to lighten the mood. "I'll apologize by phone."

 Even as she smiled, Buffy recognized the truth of his words. Next time. Of course there would be a next time. Despite physical separation and the bitter fact that they were no longer a part of each other's daily lives, despite her involvement with Riley, Buffy knew her feelings for Angel remained the same. She loved him, and she would continue to love him until the day she died. What she desperately needed to know was whether Angel's feelings had changed.

 Which was why, following her return from Los Angeles, she'd spent most of the day in bed. Surprisingly, only a few tears had fallen; she'd been in such shock and guilt that the greater portion of time had been spent in staring unseeing at Willow's empty bed - or at the wall.

 How, she'd wondered bleakly over and over again, how could he have said those hurtful things to her? Even more bleakly she'd wondered how she could have said the things she did to him. How in God's name could she have thrown Riley in his face like that? She couldn't rid herself of the memory of the look in his eyes or the emotion in his voice as he'd reminded her that he couldn't move on the way she had.

 The way she'd pretended she had.

 "Things are pretty tense around here," Angel continued, breaking into her thoughts.

 Buffy leaned against the wall, sighing. "They really are." Her voice sounded too weary for a nineteen-year-old. Too burdened. But then, it always had - at least in the four years that he'd known her.

 "Can I do anything?" Angel's brown eyes showed his concern - and below that, his love.

 "Honestly?" She looked away for a second, hating what she had to say. "I think the best thing you can do right now is - "

 She didn't have to finish; he understood. The best thing he could do right now - for her - was to leave. Again. Leave her to her new life and her new boyfriend, without adding more complications to her already stress-filled situation.

 "Okay." His assent was almost a whisper. It was all he could manage at the moment.

 "It means a lot to me that you came." Buffy's eyes glistened with a thin film of tears as they met his. He drew closer, holding her gaze, until only about a foot separated them.

 "Are you happy?"

 For a moment her mask slipped and naked yearning showed in her eyes. Then she took a deep breath and glanced away, blinking. When she looked back at him the pain was once more veiled. "Most of the time, yes, I'm happy enough."

 Angel gave a slight nod, then forced himself to walk past her, only to stop once more. He turned. "Oh, and - Riley?" He gestured toward her dorm room.

 "Yes?"

 "I don't like him."

 She smiled faintly, even though her lips trembled. "Thank you."

 Again their eyes caught, and this time the seconds ticked by unnoticed. Memory stretched between them in unspoken words:

 "In two-hundred and forty-three years, I've loved exactly one person."

 "Angel, when I look at the future all I see is you - all I want is you."

 "Are you still my girl?"

 "Always."

 Finally Angel turned and left. Buffy waited until his figure disappeared around the corner, then returned to her room - and Riley.

<><><><><>



And can you feel the love tonight
How it's laid to rest
It's enough to make kings and vagabonds
Believe the very best


THE END



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