SPOILER WARNINGS: Buffy Season 5 - after 'Into The Woods', before 'The Body'. Angel Season 1 generally, including 'Hero'.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters, Joss and Fox do. The opening poem is Sonnet XL by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
SUMMARY: Angel visits Buffy in Sunnydale. Its a bittersweet little fic for all the B/A fans out there.

For Ever After
By Ezra


'And not so much
Will turn the thing called love aside to hate
Or else to oblivion. But thou art not such
A lover, my Beloved! thou canst wait
Through sorrow and sickness, to bring souls to touch
And think it soon when others cry 'Too Late'.'

Quickly, Buffy unlocked her front door - her Mom and Dawn wouldn't be back until tomorrow - and went in, turning around expectantly to look at the person with her.

"Come in." she said nervously, still not really believing he was here in Sunnydale, here with her. She had been fighting, as usual, in the cemetery, trying to work out some of her frustrations on the local vampire population. It was strange, but she had actually been thinking about him just before he had shown up. He had stepped out from the shadows, and she had felt her heart start to race. Even after all this time he still had that affect on her, making her feel like the naive sixteen year old she had been when she first fell in love with him. And now her mind was speeding, and she wasn't sure what to feel, or think. Angel was back in town.

Apparently, he was here on business, mostly. Cordelia had had a vision of a particularly nasty demon terrorizing citizens in Sunnydale of all places - what a surprise, she thought dryly. And so Angel had come to warn her. Has he never heard of a telephone? she wondered sarcastically, before shaking her head. No, she wasn't angry that he had come - at least he cared enough to make the trip to see if he could help her. It was just.....hard, seeing him again. And here she was, inviting her forbidden love who she had been trying to put behind her, into her home, more precisely her bedroom, at night. But she actually did have a good reason - Angel had been hurt fighting off a particularly strong vampire, it was perfectly reasonable to bring him to her place so she could help him clean up. Perfectly reasonable, she told herself. Perfectly reasonable, no problems here.

And while she tried to convince herself of that notion, Angel quietly followed his golden beloved up the stairs to her bedroom.

"Are you sure you're ok?" Buffy asked as she gently cleaned the wound on Angel's arm.

"Yeh" the tall vampire replied, his voice quiet. It wasn't easy, being so near her. To be here, in her room again - and sitting with her on her bed, no less - was like standing at the gates of paradise, unable to get in. He fought and he struggled everyday, when all he really wanted was to lose the pain and the guilt in her, like a drop in a glorious ocean. He tried hard to keep from trembling.

"This reminds me of -" Buffy halted mid-sentence, the small smile that had begun to form on her lips disappearing. He knew why she had stopped. Most of their good memories were overshadowed by hurtful ones.

"I think it's starting to heal already." she said as she examined his arm, changing the subject. Her words tore at his heart anew. They reminded him of something he had said to her, that first night. That last night. It was burned into his memory.

"So how are things in L.A?" she continued, trying to keep her tone casual.

"Ok," he answered. "Did you... get the last letter I wrote?"

Buffy nodded, the smile returning to her beautiful face. She pointed to her desk where Angel could see his old-fashioned scrawl on the pages that lay there. Buffy seemed to hesitate, then spoke.

"I love your letters," she said quietly. "When I read them, I can hear your voice saying the words." She paused, and gazed at him with honest eyes. "It makes me feel like I can still be close to you - not physically, but I know you don't really share things with anyone else. It's nice."she finished simply.

Angel's heart soared for this wonderful girl. He loved getting her letters too, though they were infrequent, they were tenderly written. They showed him she still cared.

"When I read your letters," he responded, his voice still quiet. "I sometimes close my eyes and imagine that you're right in front of me, talking." he felt embarrassed at the admission, a hint of a self-conscious smile drifting over his lips. She rewarded him with a grateful expression.

"So how do you read with your eyes closed?' she then asked playfully, lightening the moment.

"I memorise the words." he said simply.

A moment passed as Buffy appreciated the powerful statement. He still loved her. She blinked back the tears that were threatening to flood her eyes, and fell silent.

Angel also sat in silence, his emotions churning. Finally he looked up at her again.

"Buffy," he started, his voice husky. "I know things are different now. But I want you to know that no matter what happens, I'll still love you. You're the only one I'll ever love."

Buffy felt her stomach clench. The intensity of emotion in Angel's eyes almost overwhelmed her. They were the words her heart had ached to hear for so long, and she felt she would burst with joy at their sound. He loved her, and her alone. Forever.

Angel sat, his body taut, feeling both relief as he finally expressed his passion, and fear at how Buffy would respond. He lost a little of that fear, however, when he saw the happiness in her tear-filled eyes.

"Angel," she whispered, as she always had. "I feel the same."
And Angel's soul rejoiced, his face filled with wonder that this girl, this incredible girl, would love him still, after all that he had done.

Buffy took a deep breath. "And maybe we can't be together now. And I may not be around for long."
At that Angel looked pained and opened his mouth to speak but Buffy silenced him with a look as she gently reached out a small hand to touch his face. His cool skin tingled with her warm touch, and she continued, tears sliding slowly down her cheeks.

"I may not be around for long, but even if you're still here in five hundred years, or a thousand, when I'm just a tiny memory from long ago.....wherever I am, I'll still be loving you. Always. Nothing will ever change that." A sob escaped her as she expressed the love that had become so much a part of her being.

"Buffy," Angel gasped, cherishing her words, her heart. Trembling, he leaned to her and they clutched each other, holding on tightly, as though if they pressed close enough their hearts would join, and be as one.




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