He stared at the door long after Dana
had closed it behind her, with a casual wave and the rustling of skirts.
None of the last few hours seemed real to him in any way... which only stood to reason, considering the break in the continuity of his existence the last five *years* had been. The first time he set eyes on the Slayer, he had known his life would never be the same, but he had had no *idea* at the time how radically she would change him.
And now this... all of what Dana had just told him... these prophecies involved Buffy, too. It seemed that no matter how far away he went from her, no matter how much time passed between their meetings, their destinies were bound together by a power he could scarcely begin to understand. She was in his blood, after all... their souls and essence were one. He wondered what Buffy had to do with this Souled Council Dana spoke of. What was the prominent role the two of them were to play in the destiny of these creatures? He felt dizzy from the implications... there was too much he just didn't understand.
But he bet that Dana did. If she had been studying him and Buffy for a *thousand years*, then he was willing to wager she knew a *lot* more than she was telling him about a *lot* of things. After two thousand years as a Witch, it was more than likely she knew a little bit of everything.
He needed to know more. He needed to find out if she was what she said she was and if any what she was telling him was true.
That many thousands of years... hell, ANY thousands of years... was impossible for him to fathom. What must it be like, to watch a thousand generations born, live, and die? What must it feel like to watch entire cultures, entire peoples, entire civilizations, rise and fall and turn to dust?
He moved around the room, touching his things, staring at sketches he'd made... of Buffy, of Sunnydale, of her friends... their eyes were full of life and hope, their faces smiling, glowing with the sheer joy of youth.
Angel couldn't remember what being "young" felt like, anymore. He always associated youth with being carefree -- having the freedom to make mistakes, to be stupid and silly and impetuous -- but despite his apparent youth, it had been many ages since he had been without care... or had much freedom at all. It was ultimately what kept he and Buffy apart... his *difference*... his inability to even *pretend* to have a normal life, which he knew was exactly what Buffy longed for. Every particle of his being longed for her, and he felt the cleaving pain that often came upon him when he considered their being apart.
But, he was cursed, after all. No reason to believe that could ever allow for anything positive to happen to him. Each moment of his life was haunted by some regret or another -- some sin from which he could never escape; never find forgiveness or absolution -- the ones who could offer it were all dead by his hand. When he had a soul, it was tortured, as it should be... he longed for the pain, cultivated it, nurtured it, knew he deserved that and more. When he didn't have a soul, well...
He just didn't care.
He sat down on the couch and swung his legs up to recline, picking his glass up again. He sipped on it slowly, relishing the warm rush he felt as the blood oozed down his throat. There were little pleasures, he had to admit... even if they were ones that reminded him of the animal at his core. Those pleasures were few and far between, but they kept from stepping out into the sunrise every day. Buffy had been one of those things... the greatest pleasure of all his existence. She had *literally* kept him from stepping into daylight, more than a few times. Even now, when most thoughts of her made him wince from the pain of her absence, still she was what kept him going. Maybe he couldn't be by her side, but he could still fight to keep her and those that she loved safe and alive.
`Dana kept mentioning me and "My Slayer"...' The thought interrupted his brooding... He couldn't help but wonder in what direction knowing Dana could lead him. He originally had thought his destiny would be to give his life fighting by the Slayer's side... for a while, he thought loving her, as well. Over the past two years his focus had again shifted -- he knew that after all they had been through, their love was simply not meant to be... there was no way to get beyond all that had passed between them -- he had betrayed her again and again... killed her, essentially... stolen from her, tortured her. And realistically, she had wounded him, too... he realized that resentment was irrational... Buffy would never have hurt him if she didn't have to. There was too much about their lives, about their destinies, about their natures, that just didn't match.
What it all boiled down to was that there was so much standing between them, even their love couldn't seem to overcome it.
But now, he was beginning to feel unsure, again. He began second-guessing his decision to leave Sunnydale -- to leave her behind. Dana had somehow made his life with Buffy seem possible again, with her talk of their entwined destinies. The love he had for Buffy, his devotion and adoration for all that she was surged through him, pulsing with her essence through every cell of his being... if he had a living heart to pump her blood through his veins, he had no doubt they would be pounding. If he was a mortal man, an ordinary man, he would spend his whole life drowning in this joy, this perfect contentment.
But his spirit plunged again as he remembered... the last time he touched her, he'd almost killed her. She sacrificed herself to save his life, and he had almost taken hers in return. He remembered her face when he'd turned and walked away... he remembered crying all the way home, and for days afterward...
He was no mortal man... he was the walking damned. His perfect joy, when he'd had it, had caused more pain than a being could possibly atone for.
He choked back an unexpected sob. His contentment killed. His love brought horror and abject sorrow to those he felt it for. He cried out, falling once again, for the millionth time, to his knees. The room filled with the echoes of his agonized keening.
"God, I'm sorry!!!" he cried, "I'm so sorry!"
The feelings of his soul were a weapon. He could never hope to love Buffy the way he wanted to... in all the ways a mortal could love... they could never share an existence... a life, together.
But Dana's story offered him another hope, as well. Perhaps he couldn't live with the love of his life, but at least he could *have* a life... with people who were like him -- perhaps, understood him -- all around. At least he didn't have to suffer alone, in silence.
Again, though, he remembered that he had no evidence that any of what the Witch was telling him was true. To find out more, he would have to let down his defenses; climb out of his solitary lair and play along with her.
She was whispering in his ear...
"I love you... my Angel..." she gasped.
He pulled her closer to him, let her warmth fill him... he could smell the living blood pounding through her veins... his hunger felt like ecstasy.
He sank his fangs into her throat... she cried out. Then she screamed.
He woke early that evening, the dream fading quickly as he regained consciousness. It wasn't unusual for him to have nightmares about the moment he drank Buffy... but more often than not they were nightmarish, inconsistent, muddled and confused with other moments in their relationship.
He found, that he was more excited than he had expected, or was prepared to be, considering the last few days' lack of good sleep. It wasn't healthy to have hope, when you were him. He slid into some baggy, soft silk slacks and a snug black tee shirt and stretched out on the couch where so much had transpired last night.
And now, today, there was a letter from Buffy in the post. He
tore it carefully with a brass, sword-shaped letter opener. The
paper matched the envelope -- a pale pink parchment with a border
of darker roses & thorns, silver moons and stars-- and at
the top, a golden foil sun with "BAS" stamped in it.
He traced the letters gently, imagining, almost, that what he
caressed was the fair, soft rose of her cheek...
Angel... still your name is the most beautiful sound I ever hear...
How are you? Things are sameold-sameold, here... school, slay,
It was the same letter she always wrote, saying the same things. Twice a month, like clockwork, he got to feel alive again -- close to her -- if only for a few minutes... for a moment, he got to be part of her life.
She always followed the same pattern: a greeting, a brief statement of the depth of her love for him, then a rundown of the latest school project, demon slayage, or Scooby Gang happenings. Every now and again, a photocopy of some piece of poetry or literature she had discovered accompanied the letter... sometimes a photograph, or a cassette tape of songs. Angel and Cordelia would meet on occasion in that Italian place on Third she liked so much, and Angel would read her the middle bits -- especially the ones about Xander. He did it for Cordelia's comfort, knowing she still missed him... despite the fact that thinking about Xander made him grumble.
And at the end? At the end was always a little something, a line or a reminder that he was not alone in his pain:
`I think about you every time I see a sunrise. I think that the same way that you will never see another sunrise is the same way that I will never hold you close to me again. They both tear me up inside. My heart shatters with the thought of it. But... it doesn't matter... mine is already broken, I guess...
The letters had stopped automatically making him cry a long time ago, but the rending pain that came at the end was always the same. He missed her.
After that initial shock of hurt, though, he would sometimes smile. He was still alive, and it was still because of Buffy.
There was a firm, but hesitant, knock on his door. He approached with caution, but less tension than he had felt in days.
He opened the door to find a small, fat vampire
standing there, arms filled with bags and cases.
"Hello, uh, sir, uh... Mr. Angelus..." the short man said, bowing as if to royalty. Angel flinched at the gesture, "I'm her honor's tailor, sir...Brinks. My Lady sent me to fit you for the Spring Ball."
Angel motioned him in. The vamp followed the sweep of his hand, taking in the roomful of antiques with reverence and interest as he moved into the sunken living room.
"I understand you have opted for a contemporary classic look." He check out Angel's build and facial structure, "Shame-- I place you in the 18th century, sometime, yes? Irish. Kilts and blouses, maybe? Mm. Mmhm," he nodded.
Angel cringed under the scrutiny. "I prefer something a little more subtle." He said, meaning both the tux and the treatment.
The vamp was unruffled... his initial nervousness seemed to fade quickly... what was the hoopla about? This was just a boy, not the King of the Prophecies... not some horrible mass murderer... and certainly not the father of a new universe for all of them!
"Of course, my lord." Brinks said, bowing again, disappointed.
Angel sighed, and settled in for a long evening.
When the little vamp was done and safely on his way, Angel took his new tux to hang in his bedroom.
The last time he had worn a tux had been to Buffy's prom...
He could hear "Wild Horses" in his head. He could smell the shampoo in her hair, the salt of sweat on her skin, the musk of a hundred living, breathing, seething teenagers in all their glory...
He flinched, snatching his hand away from the tux as if it had bitten him.
He shook his head in disbelief -- what was he DOING? Why was he getting all dressed up to go out to a party, for chrissake? What was the point? Even if there were people like those that Dana described, what would make him think they would welcome him? His lover and he were murderers of their kind -- they didn't work to reclaim vampire souls, they only destroyed vampire demons. Why should this society accept him when it was clear nothing but pain followed him wherever he walked?
He saw Buffy's face again... her face the first time they met, the first time he told her he loved her... her face when they made love... when she saved him from final death...during their last dance and their last glance, on Graduation Day.
He set his jaw. Any chance that existed for he and Buffy would be found at the Vampire Ball.
Story and Mangled Graphics by Ducks, ©1999. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org