THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE
(A Summoning of Shadows)
by Yseult deBreton
SUMMARY: Sometimes silence can be deafening.
TIMELINE: Alternate scenes during "Hush".
AUTHOR’S NOTE (1): Feeling the need to write some B/A non-fluff. Buffy’s thoughts are in italics. Thanks to David for the pertinent comments. It’s a much better story.
AUTHOR'S NOTE (2): Part of A Summoning of Shadows series.
DATE OF COMPLETION: 12 August 2003
DISTRIBUTION: List archives, Yseult’s Passion (http://yseultspassion.com), my permission.
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Not mine. Not mine. Not mine. (ad nauseum)
FEEDBACK: I’m starving here. Send it to email@example.com
As soon as Cordelia told Angel about the mysterious laryngitis, questionable flu vaccines, and the CDC quarantine, he formed a simple plan: get into Sunnydale. He attempted to call Giles but telephone service to the town was inexplicably unavailable. That disturbing information merely fueled his anxiety. Cordelia’s too. She begged him to take her, but Angel flatly refused. They had just lost Doyle. Whatever was happening in Sunnydale was a mystery. He wasn’t about to risk Cordelia’s life. Angel paced like a caged animal until it was dark enough to leave, then drove like a man possessed
The National Guard had created a brightly-lit perimeter around the town. Angel left his car on the outskirts of Sunnydale and entered via a sewer tunnel. Sometime after crossing the town’s boundaries, he lost his voice. For several minutes, Angel debated whether he should retrace his steps and try to pinpoint when (and where) his voice disappeared. Ultimately he decided against this. If it was important, he could always return. When he emerged from the subterranean tunnels, Angel proceeded directly to Giles’ apartment where the ex-Watcher provided the scant details he knew. It was more a pantomime than a conversation. However, the necessary information was conveyed, and a partial strategy was formulated.
Angel’s immediate mission was to quell whatever disruptive violence he found. Downtown Sunnydale resembled a war-torn city. Cars and garbage cans burned freely. Stores were either boarded over or vandalized. Broken glass formed a sparse carpet on the streets. There didn’t appear to be any police or military presence. It was as if the world had abandoned Sunnydale and its citizens to live or die solely on their ability to defend themselves. Angel was unsurprised by the mayhem, the looting, and the wanton destruction of property. He had seen this kind of behaviour all over Europe as wars or natural disasters overwhelmed the populace. There was always someone willing to take advantage of the resulting chaos. He knew that Angelus would relish this banquet of misery. It was an opportune situation for evil, depravity, and wickedness.
As he moved through the semi-deserted streets, he was thankful that Giles had outlined where Buffy was patrolling. With luck, Angel wouldn’t run into her and have to explain what he was doing in "her" town again. He knew it was cowardly, but he was hoping Giles would provide the explanation. Angel didn’t think he could stand to see Buffy again. Not after everything that had happened Thanksgiving weekend.
Then he turned a corner and saw her hugging Riley Finn.
As soon as Riley released Buffy, she felt the familiar tingle that was her personal vampire alert system. However, she was so relieved to see him unharmed, she ignored it. Vampires can damn well wait a minute. He was safe, he was here, he was hugging her. When Riley kissed her, she responded with equal fervour. This kiss had been building for weeks. Still, Buffy was surprised to discover that her heart wasn't madly racing when it ended. After they parted, her vampire alarm continued to clang incessantly. Back to work. She turned her gaze to the left and scanned the burning streetscape. Nothing there. Her eyes swept to the right and found Angel.
It hurt. More than he thought it would. He could handle Riley kissing Buffy. He didn’t like it, but it wasn’t too bad. It was the part where Buffy was kissing Riley that he was having trouble with. Angel’s feet froze in place. He stared -- dumbfounded -- as the couple kissed. Because he knew, with certainty, that the last person Buffy had kissed like that was him.
It can’t be Angel. Buffy closed her eyes and prayed that, when she opened them, he wouldn’t be standing there with that devastated expression still stamped on his features. She willed her eyes to open and glimpsed the swirl of Angel’s coat as he turned and hurried away.
"Angel, wait," she called mutely. Right. No voice. What’s he doing here? Oh god, did he see me kiss Riley? Of course he did. That's why he's going in the other direction. But… it’s what he wanted. It’s why he left. Except Buffy didn’t want to hurt him like this. She ran after Angel and grabbed his arm. He pulled out of her grip and continued to stride away from her. She tried to walk beside him. Angel sped up and changed direction. Finally Buffy stood in front of him and waited for him to halt, collide, or veer away again.
Angel stopped and stared defiantly at the space above her head. She saw the muscles in his jaw pulse. If she hadn’t been standing so close to him, she would have missed the glimmer of tears. Oh, Angel. Her hand reached to gently cup his jaw. Angel closed his eyes but didn’t lean into her touch as he once did. Buffy felt the tears slide over the back of her hand. I’m so sorry.
He should not be here. Angel told his feet to move, told his eyes not to cry, told his heart not to break , but his body wasn’t listening. When Buffy touched his cheek, he forced himself not to move instead of folding her into his arms as his heart demanded. He reminded himself that he had no right to her. He had no reason to touch her. This was just Buffy being nice.
Angel closed his eyes. He could smell her: her shampoo, lotion, soap, the faint trace of Riley’s saliva. He could smell her, and she smelled like that day and night in his apartment. Her scent was still on the black silk shirt that he had refolded and buried in the bottom dresser drawer. In his mind he saw her naked on his bed, laughing, loving, teasing, tempting, making him remember why he loved her so much. One tear fell. Then another. And another. He couldn’t stop.
Don’t cry, Angel. It was only one kiss. Doesn’t mean I don’t love you. Buffy slipped her other hand around Angel’s neck and pulled his head down until his forehead rested on hers. She wiped the tears from his face, but they kept coming. Angel, please. Please stop crying. Please. By now, she was crying too. Angel wouldn’t let her comfort him. She could feel his resistance. He refused to look at her. His fists were tight knots of frustration. His jaw muscles continued to beat their own painful tattoo.
Buffy did the only thing she could to break the stalemate: she kissed him.
When her lips brushed his, Angel tried to pull away, but Buffy's strength held him in place. She moved her mouth over his again. He opened his lips and let his tongue taste her. It was enough. His arms pulled her flush against him and his mouth swallowed her whole. The kiss lasted forever and was over in seconds. When he released her, Buffy was breathless. She gazed at him and silently spoke his name.
It was a question, as in "Angel, why are you here?" and "Angel, should we be doing this? It was also a statement: "Angel, I love you". Buffy wasn’t sure which one she meant at this moment. All she knew was that Angel had kissed her, and it hadn’t felt anything like Riley’s kiss. She still wanted to die when Angel kissed her. Nothing could ever change that. Buffy reached for him again, and lost herself in the next kiss. She pushed her hands past his leather coat and ran them up and down his muscled back and chest. If Angel could inhale her, it wouldn’t be enough. She could never get enough of him.
So what happens when he leaves again? Buffy shoved the unbidden thought away. She would deal with that when it happened. Right now, Angel was here and he was kissing her. He was kissing her like he used to kiss her — before he became Angelus. She didn’t want him to stop.
Angel’s lips and tongue covered every part of Buffy’s face. They skimmed over the pulse in her throat and lingered at the scar on her neck. They tasted the sweet skin of her ears and eyelids. They drew intricate designs on her cheeks and found refuge in her mouth. His hands ran marathons over her body. He blocked out anything that was not Her: the burning cars, the breaking glass, the fights. Everything else ceased to exist. One hand unbuttoned her coat and slipped beneath her blouse. Within seconds, it was gliding over her warm skin, circling the bare area between her bra and pants. His hand dipped just below the waistband of her pants and brushed the lacy edges of her thong.
Angel’s face dipped lower as he muzzled Buffy’s collarbone and the exposed skin above her breasts. His hand cupped her breast and squeezed her forbidden flesh before he recalled that they were still standing on a downtown Sunnydale street. He skillfully maneuvered Buffy so his larger body was shielding her while he redid the buttons of her coat. Angel glanced at her face. A questioning look had replaced the rapture and contentment she’d worn seconds ago. He kissed her again, a deep needy kiss that conveyed his lust. Then he nodded at the street and general mayhem. At first, Buffy didn’t understand what he was doing. The minute she did, she blushed and looked away in embarrassment. He slid his hand into hers and tugged gently. They would patrol, then return to Giles.
That night a UC Sunnydale student and a teenaged girl were murdered in their beds and their hearts were removed. The following morning Olivia sketched a drawing of one of the "men" she’d seen floating past the window the previous night. Giles connected the dots between the reported murders and the ghastly illustration and realized that Sunnydale was caught in the midst of a nightmarish fairy tale. In an empty lecture hall, Giles presented his theory to Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Anya and parceled out assignments.
In the afternoon Giles updated Angel on the Gentlemen and their objectives. The ex-Watcher brought Olivia's sketch and did a modified version of the classroom presentation (without the music) in the mansion’s great room. Buffy accompanied him. Together they poured over a map of Sunnydale and tried to identify patterns to the collection of hearts. Lastly, they decided on a plan for that night’s patrol. When Giles left, Buffy stayed at the mansion.
From behind her cup, she watched Angel straighten the room and stoke the fire. When he was done, he sat on the opposite end of the couch and stared at his hands. Buffy placed her cup on the table, walked to the fire, and crouched before it. Okay, this is awkward. Last night had seemed like a dream including the part where Angel had kissed her good night in front of her dorm. However, this morning when she’d awoken, her lips were still swollen and sore from Angel’s attention. That part was definitely real. Willow had subtly asked if it was Riley’s handiwork. Buffy had nodded "yes" then "no". Her best friend had arched her eyebrows and looked pointedly at her until Buffy had finally admitted it was Angel. Then Willow had written "What are you going to do?" It was a question Buffy couldn’t answer then. Or now.
She heard a muffled noise as Angel rose from the couch, but she didn’t acknowledge it. Buffy had been sure that they were going to spend the rest of the day getting reacquainted. But Giles had been gone for 20 minutes, and Angel didn’t seem to be as willing as she was. Maybe he’s changed his mind. Maybe he’s decided that we shouldn’t do this. Whatever "this" is. The fire was making her hot; she needed to move. Slowly she stood and stretched her cramped muscles. Angel’s arms hesitantly circled her waist. When she relaxed into his embrace, Angel pulled her to his chest and rubbed his groin against her body. He nuzzled her hair and neck and nibbled her ear until she silently giggled. Buffy looked up into Angel’s dark eyes. He wouldn’t do this if he was leaving. Angel mouthed "I love you" before lightly kissing her lips.
They stood before the fire, slowly kissing and caressing, until Angel’s hands found the buttons on Buffy’s blouse. This time there was no reason to stop.
They lay naked on the floor. Angel’s hands smoothed Buffy’s limbs. His mouth left tortuous kisses that turned her into a virtual puddle. When his lips reached her breasts, she gladly pulled his head to her aching nipples. He murmured something against her skin, but there was no sound. Her silent screams heralded her orgasms as Angel’s fingers and tongue worked their magic on her body. When Buffy lay exhausted on the floor, Angel rested his head on her belly and let his fingers twirl in the curly hair at the apex of her thighs. It wasn’t how they had spent that forgotten day (there was no ice cream, no heartbeat in his body, no shattered kitchen table), but this was still unique for them. And, most importantly for Angel, Buffy would remember.
When she felt as if she could breathe again, Buffy rolled onto her stomach and stared into the dying fire. Angel dozed beside her. Things had suddenly happened. One minute they had been contentedly smiling at each other; the next minute, Angel had somehow been hovering over Buffy, his erection stroking deeper into her pliant body. She had come, hard and furious like a wild untamed horse. Then she had looked knowingly into his eyes, pressed her fingers into the firm flesh of his buttocks, and urged him deeper and harder into her core. Angel had come too, in silent heaving gasps, before he collapsed on Buffy. The force of his sobs had reverberated through her body for long minutes. She had stroked his back until he quieted. He had rolled off her, then away from her.
Buffy had pulled him back to her side and run her fingers through his hair until he fell asleep. She waited until nightfall, but Angelus never appeared. That was when she realized Angel’s demon wasn’t coming out. Either Angel’s soul is fixed, or I’m not perfect happiness anymore. The only way to know was to make love again. Buffy didn’t know if they could afford to take that chance. What if she was wrong? What if Angel’s soul wasn’t fixed and this time had been a fluke? Without a voice, Willow couldn’t do the restoration spell. Buffy would have to kill Angel. On the other hand, if his soul wasn’t permanent and he hadn’t had a moment of perfect happiness with her, what did that say about her? The third possibility, the one of Angel’s soul being fixed… that suggested that he’d done it after leaving Sunnydale and never bothered to tell her. Buffy didn’t much care for any of the possible realities.
She gazed at him. She loved Angel so much. These last hours hadn’t changed that, but assuming that they found the Gentlemen tonight and she regained her voice, where did that leave them? Why didn’t I just walk away like I did in LA?
The last person that Buffy expected to see in the clock tower was Riley Finn. But there he was, fighting just as fiercely as she was. From what she observed, Riley had some formal instruction in hand to hand combat. His clothing suggested that he was part of the mysterious group of soldiers that had neutered Spike. Clearly he was more than just a farm boy from Iowa.
When Riley smashed the box, Buffy’s voice returned. Her high-pitched scream effectively demolished the Gentleman. In the ensuing silence, she and Riley stared at each other. Eventually he picked up his discarded weapons and left without saying a word.
Riley is one of those army guys. That’s all Buffy could think as she walked back to Giles’ apartment. Well, that and Angel and I made love. It was a toss up which was more important. She opened the door and found Angel standing by Giles’ desk.
"Buffy." Angel spoke her name in that same heart-stopping manner he’d always used.
"Buffy, there you are. I see you found the Gentlemen." Giles’ questions and comments guided the conversation towards safe territory. By the time they were finished, there were three hours left before sunrise. Giles shepherded Buffy and Angel out of his home and tiredly closed the door behind them.
"I’ll walk you back to your dorm," Angel offered.
They walked quietly hand in hand. Just before they reached Stevenson Hall, Buffy halted.
"Angel, we need to… There’s something… About what happened at the mansion…" Buffy didn’t know what to say next. She had been thinking about it earlier, when she was still trying to track the Gentlemen. She had worked it all out in her head. Now the words were jumbled like pieces of a puzzle. She needed to start somewhere. "Are you staying?"
Angel slipped his arms around her waist and kissed her forehead. "I have a business now. It won’t run by itself. Not with Cordelia, at any rate." He smiled at the thought.
That was not the answer Buffy wanted. "So you’re going back to LA." I’m not enough to make you stay. "Where Cordelia is. And your friend, Doyle."
Angel looked at their twined hands. "Doyle is dead," he said quietly.
Buffy hadn’t expected that. "I’m sorry."
"I think you would have liked him. He liked you." Angel tilted her head so he could kiss her.
"Angel, wait." He paused. His lips hovered tantalizingly above hers. "What about us? I mean, all those reasons you left, they’re still there, aren’t they? All of them?"
Buffy waited for Angel’s denials. She heard only silence. Oh god. That means his curse still has that loophole. And I didn’t make him happy.
Angel kissed her. He suckled her lips as if they were her breasts. His tongue massaged and stroked hers until she moaned. "Doesn’t mean I don’t love you," he finally whispered. No, Buffy thought, it means I can’t make you totally happy. I just suck at this sex thing.
She took two steps back from Angel. "I know that, Angel. I know you never stopped loving me. But I can’t do this again."
"You can’t do what again?" Buffy caught the flash of fear that crossed Angel’s eyes.
I can’t survive you leaving me again. I can’t wake up one day and discover Angelus in my bed. I can’t kill you again. She couldn’t tell him what she was thinking, so she said nothing. There was really only one choice here.
Buffy gave him a last kiss, a feathery touch of warm lips against his cool cheek. Then she stepped from his embrace and out of his reach. "Go home, Angel," she said gently. "Go home and don’t come back." With that, she turned and walked through the doors of Stevenson Hall. When Buffy reached her room, she sat on her bed and watched him linger in the shade of the trees until the sky turned pink.
Later that morning, when Willow awoke and asked about Angel, Buffy’s reply was silence.
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