Disclaimer: Joss, ME, etc. own all. I own nothing.
Author's Notes: Set after "Not Fade Away".
Finished now for the IWRY 2013 marathon, but started years
ago for the very lovely Harri. Thank you for your friendship.
Distribution: My site, www.everysixseconds.com,
has roots in so many different languages. The most ancient source is the
Proto-Bantu and they consider life and death the same thing. It's part of a
cycle. Only a thing that's not alive never dies. It's - it's saying that you
get to live until you die. It's saying - it's saying... you become human.
the vampire with a soul, once he fulfills his destiny, will Shanshu. Become
human. It's his reward.
Buffy listened to the chatter around her
with mute indifference.
Several of the Slayers in training were
laughing at something Xander said, while Kennedy and Willow were regaling
others with tales of their adventures in Brazil. Dawn and Andrew were
bickering, as they tended to do more often than not, especially since they had
all been staying in the one apartment. Someone else was commenting on the
beautiful June weather and how it would be a perfect day to visit the Pantheon.
Only Giles was quiet, sipping tea and watching her almost covertly, his
But none of it mattered.
Nothing really mattered anymore.
Her life… the one she had hoped and dreamed
and imagined to have some day was over.
There would be no happily ever after for
her, not now, not anymore.
In the days and weeks following Giles' unexpected
visit with news of Angel's final battle, his defeat, and, more significantly,
his death, her friends feared for her sanity. She didn't eat, she barely slept,
and though she continued to work and to go out on her routine patrol, she
hardly seemed aware of her surroundings. Her detachment was so complete, that
her friends worried that she'd be taken unaware by some vampire or demon – but
they weren't able to convince her to stay in nor were they willing to keep pace
with her night after night.
Though she said very little, Buffy was
nearly overcome with grief. She couldn't believe that the love of her life was
truly gone forever, that he had met his final fate at the hands of a dragon
sent by the Senior Partners. It was beyond unfair that such evil triumph -
though life was never fair, and she knew that more than most.
Weeks slid into months, and finally,
Buffy's silent anguish turned to tears. She withdrew from the world completely
and cried, great wrenching sobs that tore through her until she became as pale
and drawn as a ghost. When the tears
finally stopped, she took to spending hours sitting on the small balcony and
staring off into the distance, as if watching for someone that they all knew
would never come.
Then one day without explanation and with little
more than two hour's notice, Buffy left for Ireland alone. There she spent days
wandering through the streets of Galway, and tried to imagine what it had been
like over 250 years ago. She attended
services at St. Brendan's Church and wondered as she watched the children file
quietly along the center aisle for communion, if young Liam had ever taken those
same steps to participate in the sacred ritual. She strolled for hours along the blissfully quiet country lanes
and through neighborhood streets, and reflected on Angel, his life before and
after the demon, and all he had meant to her.
After almost three weeks of searching she
finally found a sense of peace in Galway, and hoped that somehow, someway,
somewhere Angel had found a sense of peace as well. He deserved as much after all he had suffered, and all he had
When she finally returned to Rome, and
greeted everyone in a normal tone of voice, her friends breathed a collective
sigh of relief. Now that her recovery
seemed certain, those who had gathered in Rome and then stayed on to provide to
support during what they expected would be a difficult time, made plans to
return to their own lives. By the next
week, Kennedy and Willow left for Greece; Giles, and the few SITs that had
accompanied him, returned to London.
Xander, having nowhere else pressing to go, decided to stay on with
Buffy, Dawn, and Andrew in Rome.
In the days that followed, Buffy found a
new job waitressing at Osteria Marcello and resumed her nightly patrols. She
enrolled in a couple of classes at the American University, began training for
the Rome marathon, and took up knitting.
Her flat mates didn't seem to understand why she was taking so much on;
they simply rolled their eyes at the Slayer’s constant need for activity. They wouldn’t understand that it was her way
of keeping her own personal demons at bay.
And somehow, as fall turned to winter, life
in Rome returned to a semblance of normal, though the blonde Slayer's smiles
were still few and far between.
Buffy didn’t stop grieving for the love of
her life, although she took great care to do her mourning in private. Her friends and family had little
understanding or patience for her heartbreak, and she wanted to spare them all
from awkward explanations and excuses.
Still, in the dark, quiet cemeteries on her patrol route, or in the peaceful,
solitude of her room, she would cry for all she had lost – her love, her
happiness, and hope for the future she had so often dreamt of.
It was a crisp January evening, and Buffy,
Dawn, and Xander were huddled together on their small balcony. They were
sipping cappuccinos and nibbling on slices on dark chocolate cake while idly
watching the people walking on the street below. The narrow lane was busy but not crowded, and the few golden-hued
lights along the way left the figures largely shadowed in darkness.
Dawn was rambling on about the wonderfulness
of her current boyfriend, Lucien, though only three weeks ago they were treated
to a similar discourse about her then boyfriend Paolo. Xander would chime in
with a joke or a comment every now and then, while Buffy only half-listened as
she studied her fingernails and thought about the route she'd take on her
patrol in a couple of hours.
When the conversation stopped abruptly with
Dawn making a strangled exclamation, Buffy glanced up questioningly. There were
very few things that would stop her sister from talking when she was on a roll.
Her eyes wide and her mouth agape, Dawn was staring at someone on the street
below. Curious, Buffy quickly followed
her line of sight.
A figure in the street below had paused and
was looking up in their direction.
Buffy's breath caught in her throat. The
man's tall form and dark hair, darker in the dim light and casually spiked in
disarray, struck a vivid chord in memory and for one wild moment, Buffy was absolutely
sure she was losing her mind. It wasn't…
It couldn't be… It just wasn't possible. She blinked to
clear the apparition, but her sister's continued silence and now her arm held
out and pointing in that direction as well Xander's dropped jaw assured her
that they saw what she was seeing too.
Buffy closed her eyes again and attempted
to order the chaotic jumble of her thoughts. Breath held she lifted her lashes
with excruciating slowness. She was
both afraid of what she would and would not see. He was still there. He wasn't
a ghost or a hallucination. He was
With her heart beating a wild tattoo, Buffy
rose slowly to her feet. She couldn't see his face clearly, but she knew
somehow that his eyes held hers. Time seemed to stand still as seconds ticked
by and neither of them moved.
Finally, his lips moved as he said her
name, and he took a hesitant step forward.
That simple gesture was all she needed.
Turning, Buffy raced through the apartment and out to the stairs, taking them
two at a time down to the street.
Exiting the building, she rounded the corner to reach the section of the
block they had been looking down on.
She shouted his name.
Buffy could almost feel his pain as he
began to walk toward her, his normally graceful movements stiff and awkward, a
noticeable limp in his stride. Her eyes filled with tears as she ran toward
him. He was hurt. He was here. He was
Reaching him, Buffy flung herself solidly into
Angel's arms. At the force of the impact, he sucked in a pained breath and
staggered back a few steps. In the next instant, he closed his arms around her
and buried his face in her hair.
They ignored the curious looks of everyone
that passed by them as they stood there on the street tightly clasped together,
hugging, crying, laughing, kissing, touching, murmuring love words, and feeling
giddy and elated and whole once again.
"You're here. You're alive," Buffy breathed joyfully at
last, her face warm against his neck, her eyes closed tightly. She didn't ask
where he'd been, or how he'd gotten here, or how it was possible that his heart
was beating strongly against her own, or any of the thousands of other
questions in her mind. It was enough for now that he was here; there would be
time for answers later.
"I am," he returned in a low,
emotion-filled voice. His eyes were still tightly closed as he savored the
moment, as well as the long missed sensation of the feel of her body pressed
"Tell me you're staying," she
demanded, tilting her head back to look up at him. It didn’t matter now what had happened or where he had been. It mattered only that he was here and he
He studied her face with a serious
expression for a moment before his lips curved up in a hint of a smile.
"Forever. Or as long as you'll have me." He kissed her then with
years of pent-up deprivation and longing. Her lips were as soft and sweet as he
remembered, and a savage need for her nearly overwhelmed him. In return, Buffy
clung to him as ferociously as a drowning person clings to life. He was her life, and he was here. It was
"Forever works for me," she
replied when he finally broke their kiss, both of them panting for air. She
laughed then, a triumphant, jubilant sound. It was a rare sound that reminded
him of their years in Sunnydale when things were new and simple. He smiled
fondly at the memory.
Wrapping an arm around his waist and
looping his arm over her shoulder, Buffy led him inside. She moved slowly on
the stairs, conscious of the pain each step caused him.
"On my God. It is… You… You're…
you're… you…" Dawn stammered as they came through the apartment doorway,
her eyes wide with disbelief. She and Xander had been watching the reunion from
the balcony, only moving inside when the pair finally turned the corner toward
the apartment building entrance. Andrew
joined them in the living room, hearing a brief version of the events from Dawn
and Xander as Buffy and Angel made their way up the stairs.
"Alive! Er, not dead. No, wait.
Undead. You're undead. That's it, isn't it, undead?" Xander babbled, attempting
to finish the thought. He was equally shocked by the vampire's unexpected
"No, alive is right," Angel
"Alive? Alive as in human alive,
alive?" Andrew gaped, eyeing the former vampire incredulously.
"Heart beating, needs to breathe, no
longer can we call you dead-boy, alive?" Xander rambled, skeptically.
"That kind of alive?"
"Yes," Angel murmured, glancing
apprehensively at Buffy. They hadn't had a chance to talk about… well, any of
this. What was she going to say?
At the startling revelation, they were all
immediately full of questions. How had that happened? When had it
happened? How did he know? Was it
permanent? Was it because of the fight with the Wolfram & Hart Senior
Partners? Had there really been a dragon? What was the battle like? Where were Spike
and the others? Where had he been all this time? What was he doing here, now?
Angel answered the questions patiently with
as much information as he himself knew.
No one else survived the battle, at least as far as he was aware. He didn't know what happened exactly to make
him human; his last memory of the battle was of killing the flying dragon.
Afterwards he had fallen, severely injured, and destined, he was sure, to meet
his death. Instead, he woke several weeks later in a hospital with no memory of
who he was or what had happened. His
memory – most of it anyway – gradually returned over the next several weeks. As
for what he was doing here…
Sensing his uncertainty, as well as his
fatigue and the strain that the conversation was taking, Buffy declared an end
to the interrogation. Angel needed food and rest, in that order. Ushering the
others out with a promise to pick up the tab for whatever they ended up doing
that evening as long as they didn't return before two am, she led Angel to the
table. She poured him a glass of red wine and answered his questions about her
life in Rome while she reheated the leftover manicotti from her earlier dinner.
Refilling his glass and pouring one for herself, she sat next to him while he
She didn't speak. Instead, she watched him
quietly, mulling over all that he had said so far about what had happened to
him in the previous months. How incredibly blessed she was to have him here
with her now, after all that he had been through. How astonishing it was that,
despite everything, he still seemed to be the same man she knew and had fallen
in love with. Sensing her scrutiny, he
paused in his eating and looked up.
"I love you," he said simply
after a moment.
Something his in voice touched her, causing
a warmth to shiver down the length of her spine. "Me too," she
returned, smiling despite the tears in her eyes. The joy and love between them was palpable. Her heart was whole
It was just after midnight when Buffy led
Angel though the quiet flat to her bedroom.
"Have I told you how much I've missed
you?" he asked, pausing in the doorway to brush a strand of hair back from
"Not yet," she returned
affectionately, "but you can tell me tomorrow. Now, you will go to bed and get some rest. You look exhausted. And
you're still injured…" She frowned, wondering still at the extent of his
injuries since he hadn’t elaborated on details.
"I'm fine," he countered, inching
Buffy's brows rose infinitesimally. "You're not fine. You're in pain, I can tell."
"I am fine," he insisted with half smile as he leaned down to kiss
her. "Though I know how I could be better…"
"Absolutely not," she said,
holding up a hand as though to stop him. "You're barely on your feet. You
"I don't think so." After
escaping death and now finding her again, rest wasn't high on his list of
"A few days, Angel," Buffy said
gently, as though talking to a recalcitrant child. "Then we can… do
whatever you want to do."
“I feel like I have waited a lifetime for
this moment,” Angel murmured softly, reaching out and removing the clip that
had been holding her hair up then threading his fingers through the golden
strands. He had been aroused the moment
he had seen her, but he had not anticipated the physical impact touching her
would have on him now that he was human. He felt as though a hard jolt struck him in the center of his chest,
traveling down into his stomach and then lower. He was undeniably hard, hot and ready. He felt any semblance of
self-control melting away along with any reminder of his injuries. “I don’t
want to wait any more.”
She arched a brow and parted her lips, no
doubt to offer another reason for waiting but he didn’t give her a chance.
Bending his head, he kissed her. He
shifted closer, holding her head tipped up to his and did what he had thought
of often for the last months… he kissed her, deeply, slowly, thoroughly.
As had always been the case between them in
the past, passion erupted in a flash of searing heat. Unlike the past however, he made no attempt to rein it in this
time, instead letting all lucid thought recede in the some distant part of his
brain while the burning desire took over.
Buffy’s hands slid up his chest, relishing
the feel of the solid muscle beneath, his size and strength reassuring despite
his injuries. She kissed him back
wantonly, with no more thought of delay. Rather, she wanted only to celebrate
finally laying her hands once more on the magnificence of his body.
When he finally lifted his head, she rose
up on her toes and wrapped her arms around his neck. She touched her lips to the pulse that now beat in his
Her movements caused her breasts to press
provocatively into his chest, fanning his desire into a savage, hungry
need. His hands grasped her waist and he pulled her closer. His lips found hers again, parting them with
his tongue. She welcomed him in without
hesitation, wanting only to return the pleasure he was offering.
When Angel finally released her lips, he
bent his head to press hot kisses along her throat, pausing briefly to lave and
nip at the scar he had marked her with so many years ago.
She sank her fingers in his hair and fought
for breath as his hand slipped up along her ribs under her shirt to cover her
breast. He squeezed, and she bit back a
moan at the blatantly possessive caress. When his fingers pushed under her bra
to tweak her nipple, her knees turned weak, and she would have fallen if he
hadn’t been holding her so tightly.
Angel’s lips found hers again, his kiss
greedy, ravenous. His tongue slipped
between her lips to stroke, plunder and claim her… a kiss Buffy eagerly
returned, her tongue dueling with his.
His blood thundering through his veins, demanding
appeasement, Angel broke the kiss as he grasped the hem of her shirt and tugged
it over her head. Buffy dropped her
hands to the lapels of his jacket and yanked it back and down, pushing it along
his arms. He dropped it to the floor.
“I’m sorry,” he ground out at the sound of
fabric wrenching as her bra gave way, the clasp uncooperative in his current
state of mind.
“I don’t care,” Buffy returned, making fast
work of the buttons on his shirt. Once
it had followed the path of his jacket, she wrapped her arms around his neck
and lifted herself up again to capture his lips.
Angel looped one arm around her bottom and
lifted her up; she immediately wrapped her legs around his waist and pressed
closer to feel his naked chest against her own. His hand slid into her hair, holding her head as he claimed her
lips with unrestrained hunger, his tongue thrusting in evocative rhythm.
Buffy wriggled and levered herself against
him, enjoying the feel of her hard, pebbled nipples against his chest. Rotating his head, he opened his eyes and
walked toward the bed.
Bending forward, he broke the kiss and
lowered her on the mattress. He kicked
off his shoes as he looked down at her, his eyes drinking in the tantalizing
view of her naked skin and rounded breasts. She was, and always had been,
flawless in his view.
Buffy bent her knees so she could reach
down and pull off her boots. She tossed them to the side without thought. She looked up again, her gaze finding
Putting one knee on the bed, he leaned over
and claimed her mouth again in a kiss. Buffy shifted beneath him as the heated,
restless impatience took over. She
craved his touch, his body over hers, in hers… she wanted relief from the
urgency clamoring in her skin, her blood.
She wanted his kisses, but it wasn’t enough… she wanted so much
more. She touched his chest, her hands
sliding lightly down along his abdomen to find the clasp on his pants. Her
fingertips grazed the bulge of his erection.
Breaking their kiss, Angel took her hands
in his, his fingers interlacing with hers as he pressed them back against the
mattress. Her simple touch fractured
his concentration… threatened his control. He sucked in a breath, trying to
rein in his ardent desire.
Breathless, Buffy tilted her head back as
his lips skated down her throat, lingering at her pulse before moving lower.
She could feel his warm breath on her exposed skin, an unusual yet startlingly
welcome and intimate sensation. She
arched her back in invitation as he moved lower, expectation and anticipation
creating a swell of heat in her belly, a giddy jump in her pulse.
When his tongue rasped over her nipple, she
gasped as a wave of escalating pleasure sparked and flared. He drew it into his mouth and suckled hard.
She panted beneath him, her hips lifting, seeking his. She raised one leg, gliding her thigh along
Angel released his grip on her hands as he
kissed a path across her chest to find her other nipple. Her hands found the nape of his neck as he
suckled and licked.
Pulling back, he reached for the buttons on
her pants. Meeting his gaze, Buffy
reached down to help him as he tugged the jeans down and off her legs. With one hand under each thigh, he parted
her legs as he drew her toward the edge of the bed. He dropped down to his knees and planted kisses along her inner
thigh until he reached her center.
“Angel,” she whispered on a hitched breath,
expectation gripping her. She closed her eyes as she sank her fingers in his
He smiled at the sound, at the sight of her
naked wet beauty, and the tight grip she had on him as if he might go
away. He kissed her then, delighting in
the taste and feel of her swollen pink cleft.
He licked and laved with slow deliberation, savoring what he had missed
while making her frantic with desire, driving her wild with expertise perfected
over the 200 plus years of his life.
The intensely erotic intimate pleasure
built as his fingers joined his lips and tongue, slipping inside her, stroking
in a sensual caress. She panted and
writhed, her head tossing back and forth until she sank her nails into his
nape… and finally shattered. Release
washed over her in ripples as she clutched at him, a soft squeak escaping her
lips… moments passed before the tension
eased from her body and her hands slipped from his neck to his shoulders. For a
long moment she knew nothing other than the drumming, pulsing sensation racing
As Angel stood, he reached for the buttons
on his trousers and slid them free. A raw primitive passion, not unlike that he had known as a demon, was
clamoring inside him to take her, to claim her his mate. His blood was raging
with a desire more primal, more ravenous, more powerful than he had ever
known. Perhaps it was something about
As he eased her up in the bed and slid
between her thighs, Buffy’s eyelashes fluttered, and she opened her eyes. She felt his erection nudge her entry, and
she tilted her hips and reached between them to guide him home. She looked at his face. Angel’s eyes were closed, a look of
concentration etched on his features.
He shifted, braced his arms and slid
forward. She was so hot, so tight… he
had forgotten by half how glorious it felt to be inside her.
Buffy sighed and closed her eyes, wanting
to make the moment last, wanting to absorb the incredible sensation of him, hot
and hard, pushing deep inside her. She
ran her hands over his shoulders, along his back.
He pressed home and paused, completely
ensconced in the hot, wet wonder of her body. A sound escaped him, one of inexpressible pleasure. When his lips brushed across hers, she stretched up, seeking his
He moved, flexed his spine, withdrew then
surged forward again. He set a slow
deliberate pace, their bodies rocking together, their mouths fused in hunger,
in need. His hands slid under her
bottom, lifting and holding her to meet his every thrust as he moved with
increasingly forceful possession.
She clung to him as the raging hunger took
over, as they moved with increasing urgency and force, chasing that elusive
peak of pleasure. Only feeling
mattered, hot, ungovernable longing. It
felt as though the top of his head were lifting away… With a grunt, he tipped
over the edge , pulling her close and releasing into her body with unrestrained
zeal, and she met him with a violence that surprised them both.
Angel placed soft kisses on her eyes, her
cheeks. “I’ve missed you,” he murmured
on a deep exhale, his now welcome breath warm and soft against her skin. He buried his face in her neck, deeply
gratified to be here with her.
Buffy slid her fingers into his hair,
holding his head as a feeling of deep contentment that only he had ever been
able to bring settled over her. She
marveled at the beating of his heart against her own.
Angel rolled to the side, drawing her to
snuggle against him.
"I still can’t believe you’re
here," she whispered, a wealth of emotion in her voice. She wanted nothing more than to lay here and
feel the beating of his heart, to feel the lazy caress of his hand on her
hair. She now understood the true
meaning of bliss.
Angel smiled. "Miracles do
happen," he whispered, his eyes still closed as he drifted to sleep.
Buffy’s heart was whole again, her
happiness very nearly overwhelming. She
had often wondered if the fates would let them have this moment. Angel was here, he was hers, and they would
make this work now and forever. After
all, that was the whole point, wasn’t it?