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She'd already been awake twice that night. Each time felt as though she'd only just closed her eyes, and she would turn again, trying futily to rest. The clouds outside her window would move across the light of the moon, bathing her room alternately in faint light and then shadow.
Morning was still hours away when she opened her eyes this time, and as she blinked in the dimness she saw it wasn't much later than the last time she had woken. But this time when she turned she saw she wasn't alone in her room.
He sat at the edge of her bed, his tall frame bent, in thought. At the sound of her voice he didn't move, only let his head dip still lower. It was as though he'd been hoping not to be noticed.
She shifted the covers away, reaching a hand out towards him. Her hand rested on his shoulder and found that he was trembling ever so slightly, and her heart began to race.
"Angel, what is it?" Panic started to rise in her. He wouldn't have come so suddenly for no reason.
"I...I needed to see you," he said finally, although his gaze still did not meet hers.
"Oh..." Her breath left her in a shallow sigh. "Okay," she answered. She moved next to him, slipping her other hand along his arm and into his empty palm.
After a moment he clasped his hand back around hers, letting his gaze come to rest on their pair of hands. The persistent silence only strengthened her curiosity, and she turned to look at him.
"Tell me," she asked simply. Her free hand moved from his shoulder, moving gently along the line of his hair. She saw his eyes close for a moment as he took in a breath.
"You were in my dreams," he told her, opening his eyes again.
She felt her cheeks flush briefly. "Oh, I see..." she said simply, looking down at their hands.
"No," he said quickly, finally looking towards her. "It wasn't like that." He was abrupt, and the warmth she had felt for a moment quickly faded.
"What was it like?"
"We were..." he started to say, and then began again. "You were fighting. I tried to help you, but you wouldn't let me. You went to fight them by yourself. There were so many..."
Buffy felt something begin to weaken inside of her. His words were spoken so quietly but were underwritten with such fear.
"What happened?" she asked, although she was starting to guess the answer. Her free hand came to rest next to their others.
"I tried to find you," he said. "I fought for so long, there were so many of them...I was trying to find you, trying to find out why it was all happening, and all I could do was keep fighting. When I found you..." he continued, and stopped for a moment, remembering the dream. "When I found you there was no one else around. You were bleeding..."
"Oh, Angel..." she said, reacting without further thought.
"You were bleeding so much, and there was nothing I could do." He took both of her hands in his, now. "You died in my arms." His voice was shaking, barely above a whisper.
She let their hands go, only to wrap her own arms around him, pulling him closer to her. He leaned into her, burying his head against her shoulder and his hands around the folds of her nightgown.
"I'm right here," she said finally. "I'm here." He held on to her so tightly she thought she might break. There was nothing else she could say or do, and so she brought him into her arms and held him as he shook.
"I just needed to see you," he said once more. "To know you were safe."
Her breath faltered as she listened, knowing she couldn't erase his fear. It was the same fear that kept her awake so many nights, wondering what would happen if he were to fall; if she could do nothing to prevent it.
"Stay," she said then, no other response in her mind.
He lifted his head, meeting her gaze. "Buffy, we can't-"
"I know," she finished for him. She needed no reminder. "I just meant, stay. Morning isn't for hours," she added. As she lifted a hand to his cheek, she could feel him begin to steady himself in her embrace.
"All right," he nodded, and the corners of his mouth turned ever so briefly, lightening his expression in the faintest moment of relief.
Buffy shifted again, moving back beneath the covers. He waited, hesitant, before reaching again for her hand. His head came to rest on her shoulder as he lay with her, and she began to breathe easier again. When she pressed her lips against his forehead she felt his arm tighten around her. She swallowed against the knot in her throat, and wished in the moonlight.
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