Everything belongs to Joss.

 

 

 

This is a quick fic, I wrote with Joyce's illness in mind. Slight spoilers for season five. Just a thought on how Buffy might miss Angel when so much is going on for her, please let me know what you think!!!!!!

 

And hopefully enjoy

 

 

 

 

Changes.

 

 

 

 

 

The child whimpered at his cold touch.

 

"Hush little one." The vampire reluctantly tugged his lips from her small face. Pulling her closer, he soothed her lovingly, "Sleep is near."

 

He watched a frenzied understanding engulf the small girl, her expression deepening with mortal terror. His grip tightening, Angel closed his eyes and revelled in the dark pleasure that rippled though his entire being as an agonising ecstasy threatened to overwhelm his senses. He quietened the rage and sat quietly, one finger stroking the length of her neck as he listened to the blood hurtling through her veins, the dark liquid driving his joy. It was time. Opening his eyes, he looked down at the seven-year old crouched in the crook of his arm.

 

"I'm hungry," he confided softly as he bent his head to her once more. His lips wandered from her tearstained cheek, tracing a wet path to her trembling neck. He caressed her carefully, tasting the impending release of life as deep within, the demon screamed to feed.

 

A sound screeched through the air, distracting him from his kill. His head snapped around, a penetrative stare revealing nothing dangerous in the fog enveloping them. There was ample time to feed. And yet the sound persisted, insisting he follow. The child's neck dropped from his hand, falling into the puddle beneath, wracked sobs drifting past him. As the sound echoed around him, he turned a now uncomprehending gaze to the child huddled at his feet.

 

What the hell?

 

 

 

Angel's eyes opened to the welcome darkness of his bedroom, the telephone's incessant ringing dragging him to full consciousness. Dream, he promised himself as he pulled his body into an upright position. Memory, Angelus murmured hauntingly. He banished the familiar whisper from his thoughts, painfully aware that he couldn't ever know the truth. There were far too many to remember, the child's face already lost amongst the others stolen by Angelus.

 

The vampire disentangled himself from the bedcovers, his hand snapping outward to tug the receiver free from the base. He pulled it to him, tilting it precariously on one shoulder as he stretched for the water tumbler upon his bedside cabinet.

 

"Angel here."

 

He prepared himself for a drunken re-rendition of 'There's no business like showbusiness,' Cordelia's song of the week. His youngest associate had a tendency to call after a late night party, usually requesting a ride home. Her calls were the vampire pondered as he awaited a response, becoming a peculiarly welcome weekend ritual.

 

"Cordelia?" Silence drifted down the phone-line. The water tumbler forgotten, Angel's hand stretched under the receiver, holding it closer to his ear.

 

"Cordelia, is that you?" A thousand terrifying possibilities tumbled through his mind, distracting him so that he almost missed the quiet sigh. Almost. Angel stiffened in instinctive recognition, a mixture of emotions assaulting his senses as his voice dropped to a low whisper.

 

"Buffy?"

 

An old grief slammed into him, surprising him with its intensity. I miss her. Christ I miss her.

 

 

 

In the quiet stillness of her room, her eyes fixed on the moon hanging in the star filled sky, Buffy Summers struggled to remember why she had called him. Words stuck in her throat, her mouth intolerably dry.

 

"It's me," she finally managed, her fingers aimlessly tugging on Mr Groucho's ear.

 

He leaned back on the smooth headboard of the bed, his back curved against it for support.

 

"Are you okay?"

 

Buffy smiled in the darkness. The question was achingly familiar, his quiet worry carved into every word. She watched the moon intently, remembering Oz's ability to derive strength from its light. "I just called to say hi. It's been a while."

 

"Yeah."

 

Her smile stretched a little. "You don't hear from me in all summer and you go all monosyllabic on me?"

 

"I'll have you know" he told her gravely, "Monosyllabic is considered cool in L.A."

 

"Gee. Someone should let Oz know. He'd be like…" a small frown buckled her features as she struggled to think of a suitably relevant trendsetter, "the Napoleon of Monosyllabic up there."

 

Angel grinned at the characteristically bizarre historical reference. "You are okay then?" he asked, mentally congratulated himself on the casual tone of his voice. Don't go all over-protective on her, Cordelia had advised him last time, you'll push her away.

 

 

 

Buffy moved toward the open window, her skin tingling in the cool night air. She leant outward and marvelled at how after all this time, she still couldn't quite lie to him."Oh you know," she settled for elusiveness, "Life in Sunnydale. Never simple, is it?"

 

"It used to be," there was a quiet defiance in his voice, daring her to challenge the past.

 

The Slayer gazed around her bedroom, echoes of the sixteen-year old she had been surrounding her. She glanced back at the window, half expecting to see him there. He used to appear out of nowhere and yet I sensed him, even in sleep.

 

"Yeah," she said softly, "I guess you're right."

 

Her quiet despair disturbed him. "Buffy, what is it?"

 

She shook her head slightly, stirring herself from her reverie. Moping won't help. It's not fair to call him like this. You can't turn to him like this anymore.

 

"I'm sorry Angel, I shouldn't have…" she paused and fought to articulate the logic for calling, " I just wanted to hear your voice."

 

Angel's jaw tightened as the familiar urge to protect her flooded him, "Tell me," there was a calm insistence in his tone.

 

Buffy brushed a rogue tear away with impatience. "Everything's changing Angel. It feels like everything is different and I can't do anything about it." She moved to her bed and settled herself amongst the crumpled blankets. "I feel helpless. I can't fight what's happening here."

 

"What’s happening?" he asked softly.

 

Her eyes drifted back to the moon. "My mother…" she began falteringly, "My mother…"

 

My mother may be dying.

 

"I don't want to get into it Angel. It's just nice to hear your voice."

 

Her distress wrapped itself around his still heart and he felt it tighten with fear.

 

"Buffy."

 

"Its all right Angel. Honestly." She forced optimism into her voice. "I've got to go out on patrol so I'd better go. But I'll call soon."

 

He closed his eyes, savouring the sound of her voice, "Buffy?"

 

"Yes?"

 

"Be careful."

 

Silence reigned for a half breath before her low voice whispered "Thank you."

 

Buffy placed the receiver down and took a long slow breath. Rising to her feet, she padded silently toward her mother's bedroom. Standing in the open doorway, Buffy watched Joyce as she lay in peaceful sleep. She looks so healthy, the Slayer raged, as she breathed in synchrony with her mother, She looks so damn healthy.

 

In L.A., the vampire sat perfectly still, eyes closed.

 

 

 

 

 

Cordelia hung up the phone and turned to her employer with a bright smile.

 

"All right, Giles says she's on patrol in Sunnydale cemetery tonight, so I guess you’re all set to go. He won't say anything."

 

She reached for his hand. "Angel, I know you've talked to Willow earlier," she began diplomatically, Buffy wasn't an easy subject to broach with the vampire, "And I know it's none of my business but..,"

 

"She'll think I'm a hovering overcrowding ex if I land down there checking on her?"

 

Cordelia grimaced, "Pretty much." Sympathy settled in her hazel eyes as she watched his expression tighten defensively. Since he ran into Reilly, literally, Angel found it increasingly difficult to talk about his feelings for Buffy. Seeing old pain settle in his eyes, Cordelia impulsively threw protective arms around her friend.

 

"Go," she whispered, "Just go find her."

 

 

 

 

 

He watched her from the safety of half-shadows as she fought with flawless grace, each attack executed beautifully, each move taken with a quiet confidence. She's better than ever, Angel realised with pride as he watched Buffy flip the vampire over in one deft movement.

 

She killed the vampire quickly, her thoughts elsewhere. She could sense someone close by, someone… The Slayer straightened abruptly, knowing he was near. She spun around to find him emerging from the shadows, a small smile resting on his lips, his eyes searching her own for a response. Any response.

 

"Angel" she said flatly.

 

He moved closer. "Buffy, I'm sorry, I know we agreed I had to stop this dropping by stuff but…"

 

"No, I'm glad you're here." The words surprised her almost as much as the realisation that she meant them. She dropped down, perching on a headstone, a wave of her hand inviting him closer, "It's good to see you."

 

He moved forward, his hands resting on the headstone, on either side of her.

 

"Buffy, I was worried."

 

She looked up, her wistful smile silencing him.

 

"Brings back memories huh? You and me in a cemetery?"

 

He nodded, concern etching itself onto his face. His eyes roved over her restlessly, seeking answers to silent questions. He found a haunting sadness in her eyes, a pensiveness weighing her down. A shadow, he decided, she was a mere shadow of herself.

 

"Buffy?"

 

Her expression grew reflective. "Remembering," she said softly.

 

He cocked his head slightly, "Remembering?"

 

"Remembering, I've been doing a lot of that recently." Angel lowered his head, his eyes demanding her attention. She ducked away, her own gaze falling to the ground.

 

"You know us being here, it's like I'm seventeen years old again. Waiting for a vamp to rise. You come along, acting like you happened to be walking this way when really we both know you just worry about me. We dust the vamp, you walk me home, clamber up to my bedroom once I check Mom is asleep." She smiled up at him, her eyes glistening. "Remember?"

 

"I remember," he said softly.

 

Buffy nodded, unable to speak as a sudden sorrow overwhelming her. She rested her head against him, and gulped.

 

"I'm sorry" she whispered.

 

He wrapped strong arms around her. "Willow told me about Joyce. I'm sorry Buffy."

 

Buffy stiffened and slowly pulled away from him, her eyes darkened with anger as she slid from the headstone to her feet. "Willow told you."

 

He cocked his head. "Don't be mad with her."

 

"She shouldn't have…" Buffy's voice trailed away, anguish ripping through anger. Mom may die.

 

She looked up at him in mute desperation.

 

"Angel" her voice was strangled with barely contained grief "I am so scared for her. It hurts."

 

Hot tears fell, burning her eyes. She swayed, her knees buckling beneath her. Angel caught her as she fell, and slowly pulled her to him. There he stood, whispering comfort as in his arms, the Slayer wept.

 

 

 

Buffy leaned against him, a strange peace settling within her. She turned to Angel with a small smile.

 

"Thank you."

 

His eyes conveyed a deep affection, as he answered firmly "You don't have to ask. Ever."

 

"I know." Buffy moved forward and sat up regarding him with reflective warmth. "I mean I know it's been tough between us since Faith, Reilly." She paused for a moment, the right words eluding her.

 

"Angel" she tried again, looking at him, honesty shining in her eyes. "Mom's illness has thrown me. I keep thinking about the good old days when all we had to worry about was slaying the odd vamp here and there."

 

"And your dying, my dying, and all hellmouth activity." Angel interjected wryly.

 

She grimaced, "I remember." Wistfulness swept across her face, as memories flooded her mind.

 

"It's just that despite all of that, I felt in control. I could fight those demons. Now I'm in university, the Scooby gang seem out of it, I have a long lost sister and now Mom." She smiled bitterly. "Everything's changed. Everything's different now."

 

"It's part of life Buffy." Angel reminded her gently, "Everything changes. People move on."

 

Buffy looked at him thoughtfully."Do they?"

 

He shifted uneasily. "They try."

 

She watched him struggle to maintain his calm exterior. Angel rarely cracked. That’s probably why people find him so intimidating, she reflected as he mustered up a smile for her. I never found him intimidating. I just found him.

 

"I still love you." She spoke without thinking and strangely couldn't quite regret it.

 

She caught the flicker of pain in his eyes. "Buffy…"

 

Buffy reached for his hand. "I know," a bittersweet ache settled in her chest as she found a brave smile.

 

"It's just that since you left, I've never told you. I want you to know. And I know, we have to move on. And I am. I've learned to love Reilly in my own way. But with you," her free hand stretched out and brushed against his cheek. Catching it, Angel held it there, his eyes locking her own, willing her to speak.

 

"With you," she whispered softly, "I didn't have to learn. I loved you from the very first time I met you. I always will. Always Angel."

 

His eyes felt damp. "That’s all I ever need to know. That's enough."

 

"Don't ever doubt it" She moved closer and with arduous intensity kissed him. Life burst in him as he pulled her to him, old passions renewed.

 

 

 

 

 

Angel finally drew back, amusement sparking in his eyes. "You've convinced me."

 

Buffy grinned back, enjoying the affectionate banter "We shouldn't have done that," she said with conviction, "Really we shouldn't."

 

"I know" Angel murmured as he pulled tangled hair free from her face "I have to get back before dawn."

 

She groaned and rested her head on his chest. "Back to our real lives huh?"

 

Angel nodded. "That’s the way we have to…"

 

"I know" Buffy held up a hand to hush him with a teasing tone, "Been there, had the Sewer talk."

 

The vampire smiled and looping an arm around her waist, he pulled Buffy to her feet. "You have tough times ahead, but just remember not everything has changed. I'm here for you," he planted a kiss on her head and pulling away told her "I want to be here for you."

 

Buffy wrapped her arms around him and they stood in a silent embrace until the Slayer whispered "You always are."

 

He tightened his grip. "Come on" he murmured "I'll walk you home"

 

 

 

 

 

Cordelia cautiously peered around the office door

 

"You okay?"

 

Angel glanced up from his book with a smile. "Yeah, I caught up with Buffy and we talked."

 

"Talked?" Cordelia raised a speculative eyebrow as she stepped inside. "So there was no fighting or smooching, just talking?"

 

"There was no fighting" Angel confirmed.

 

"You kissed her?" Cordelia rolled her eyes, "Angel, we talked about this. How if you say move on, she has to move on and you can't just…"

 

"She is moving on" Angel interrupted. "She has Reilly and I have L.A. Last night was just us remembering what we mean to each other. That’s all."

 

"For now anyway." Cordelia said dismissively as she walked toward the outer office. "Until the next time you two hook up."

 

Angel nodded slowly. "Yeah" he echoed, "For now, anyway."

 

 

 

Buffy greeted Reilly with an enthusiastic hug.

 

"Sorry I didn't call last night."

 

He dropped beside her on the couch, his expression troubled. "I was kinda worried. You okay?"

 

"Yeah" her smile felt brighter today "I met someone I used to know. We talked about some stuff."

 

"And?" Reilly prompted curiously.

 

"And" Buffy elaborated, "I found out I still know him."

 


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