Angel had not been successful getting to the slayer to talk to her. He had gone to her house only to find her bedroom window locked from both sides. He did not know the layout of her house to chance entering through another window, but if it came to that he would.
It was Friday night and the slayer had been back for two weeks now. From what he saw and heard while eavesdropping outside her window she was talking to a few friends on the telephone. This is how he came by the information that she was going to a club and had a strict curfew of eleven o'clock.
As soon as his watch indicated it was seven o'clock he was on the way to her house. He did not know what time she was getting picked up but he had to follow her since he had no idea where the club was. Tonight might be the only chance he was going to get to see her face to face.
On the way to her house he passed an old building that was familiar to him. He had been having the weirdest cases of déjà vu the past couple of weeks. Places he knew he had never been seemed eerily familiar. This hotel was one of them. He was too pressed for time to get out and look. "Weird," he said as he continued onto the slayer's house. He would check it out later when he had time.
He pulled his Impala along the curb three houses away from the slayer's house. He could see her coming or going from here and would be able to follow without being obvious. If she left for the club on foot, he would have to rethink his plan of following her.
He turned the radio on, shaking his head slightly when the Rolling Stones' "Anybody Seen My Baby" was on a classic rock station. When music from less than a year ago was considered classic there was a problem.
He almost missed the car because it pulled up to her house heading towards him and did not pull onto her driveway. The honking of the horn got his attention. He squinted but the glare from the headlights prevented him from seeing who was in the car.
And then he saw her.
Her blonde hair was neatly styled and he could tell she had gotten it cut since being home. She was not as pale either, so apparently had managed to get some sun. She wore a pair of black boots that coordinated well with the black and white sleeveless mini-dress, which looked nice on her despite it looking slightly large on her.
She looked much better than the night he saw her two weeks ago. He had been unable to get a look at her through her windows. The only window that offered him an unobstructed view was one that looked into her bathroom. He drew the line at being a Peeping Tom.
She waved and ran her fingers through her hair, tucking some of it behind her ear. She was wearing dangly earrings, but Angel could not tell what they were from this distance. She slid into the front passenger seat and with a screech of tires the car was on its way down the street, passing Angel in his Impala.
As he pulled up to the house next to the slayer's to turn around he noticed her mother standing on the driveway watching the car drive away. She did not look pleased and he wondered why. From what he had observed and overheard the past couple of weeks she had obeyed their rules. He hoped it was just concern and nothing else or he was going to have a harder time than he thought convincing the slayer of what she was.
Teenagers were not looking for a car tailing them so he followed them with ease to the club. He found a parking space away from the other cars. The Impala was not in the greatest shape but it had taken him a long time to get the windows blacked out just enough to block the sun yet still enabling him to see out.
He paid the five dollar cover charge to enter the all-ages club. Those of legal drinking age did not get their hand stamped because they let him pass through without marking him in any way. He squinted as he walked through the doors that led to the actual club, taking in the scene before him. It was mostly young people from high school to college to just out of college age. He felt old at that moment not even counting his years spent as a vampire.
He looked for the slayer and thought for a fleeting moment he spotted her, but it turned out to be another blonde. He knew she could not have gotten far, though so he walked further into the club.
She wore a brown dress that showed off plenty of skin, her hair was glorious in the colored lights of the dance floor. She was dancing with Xander. Angel disliked the guy and hated he could spend time with her when Angel could not. He hated, too, that she had gone to them first, her friends not him, after coming home from her summer at her dad's. She was all over Xander, pressing against him suggestively, flirting, and Angel felt his unbeating heart break as he stood there watching. She knew he was there, knew he was watching and that hurt more than anything.
He looked forward to her coming back since he watched her father pack her bags into the trunk of his car and take her away from him for the summer. He missed her and she repaid him for it by flirting with Harris. Was he a fool for thinking she would spend the summer wishing she was back in Sunnydale with him?
He shook his head to clear it of the hurtful images. Harris. He mulled it over in his head, but he could not come up with anyone he knew by that name. It was clear he did not like the guy, though. Oddly, he was getting used to the strange images of events that had not really happened.
He spotted her at a table. She was with another girl and a guy. From the way the guy was fawning over the other girl he imagined the slayer was by herself even if she was here with the other couple. Being the odd man out was never fun.
He stopped at the bar and ordered a drink, keeping his eyes on her table to ensure another guy was not with them. A waitress came to take their drink order and it was still just the three of them when he had his beer in hand. He was not much of a drinker, but beer seemed to be what most of the guys in the club were drinking.
Now that he was able to really look at her, she still looked pale. She had gotten sun but it was not enough to make up for over a year of no sun. She had dark circles under her eyes that she had tried to hide with makeup. He wondered how bad they looked without the makeup. He had caught little more than glimpses of her through her windows and had only seen her once before outside her high school that he had no idea what to compare her present appearance to.
Somehow he knew that she had the ability to be beautiful enough to take his breath away. She did that day outside Hemry High School and it had changed his life forever. She could not know that, though. His job was pretty clear, get her to Sunnydale.
He took a sip of the beer and walked toward her table.
"Did you see that sweater Heather was wearing at school today?"
"Yes," the slayer said as she took a sip of her drink through a straw.
"Talk about so last year. It was probably even two years ago old."
"I know," the slayer said.
"There's a guy walking towards our table."
She glanced in his direction, smiled slightly and turned away. "I don't know him," she said with a shrug.
Angel approached the table, pretending he had not picked up on the last bits of their conversation. "Hi," he said, offering her a smile.
"Hi," the slayer's friend said. "I'm Amber. This is Buffy. And this is Jack."
"Buffy," he murmured. He had not known her name until now, but the odd name did not surprise him.
"I'm Angel. Do you mind if I join you?"
"Not at all," Amber said. "Are you from LA? Because you need to get out more if you are."
"Excuse me?" Had he heard her right?
"Well, he looks like he hasn't been out in the sun for weeks. What's the point in living in California if you don't go outside?"
"Amber," Buffy murmured, shooting a glance at her friend.
"What? It's true."
"Just ignore her, she hasn't taken her medication tonight," Jake said, placing an arm around Amber. "Let's go dance."
"How are you?" he asked Buffy. He caught the way she had drawn away at the mention of medication. Was she still taking medication now that she was home? He decided ignoring her friends was probably the better course of action for now.
"I'm fine." She sounded short, impatient, as if she did not want to be bothered with him.
"You look it." He took a sip of his beer and closed his eyes, realizing how stupid he probably sounded. He normally did not care how he sounded to anyone. He did not stick around long enough to get close to the humans he did cross paths with. His was a lonely lot, a vampire with a soul.
Xander: How can I say this clearly? I don't like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you're a vampire. But Buffy's got this big old yen for you. She thinks you're a real person. And right now I need you to prove her right.
Angel: You're in love with her.
Xander: Aren't you?
"Yes," he whispered and knew that it was true. He loved her, this girl he had until tonight never spoken to.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, sorry, long day."
"Tell me about it."
"I haven't seen you here before."
"I've been out of town," she said, her eyes darting away from his gaze.
"Is it good to be back?"
She looked at him then, her hazel eyes intense. He saw her pain there, her fear. Did she really believe she was crazy? "I don't know yet," she whispered.
"You'll be back to normal in no time." She winced at his words and he regretted them instantly. He was not so sure things would ever return to normal for her. There was a reason he was supposed to get her to Sunnydale. Something had happened and Angel did not believe it was good.
Buffy's gaze found her friends on the dance floor and stayed there for a moment before she returned her attention back to him. "What makes you think I'm not normal?"
"I just meant, you know adjusting to being back."
"Well," she said, tucking some hair behind her ear and smiling at him. The beer he had just taken a sip of went down wrong when he saw that and it was directed at him. She had the most glorious smile. "Things sure are looking up."
He glanced at the table for a moment. She was flirting with him. It had been hundreds of years since a woman had flirted with him, and he was not sure at all how to respond. "I know who you are," he said simply. He could not risk her thinking that he was a potential boyfriend or something. He was here to get her to Sunnydale, nothing else.
Angel: I just wanted to see if you were okay. And your mother.
Buffy: We're both good. You?
Angel: If I can go a little while without getting shot or stabbed I'll be alright. Look, this can't...
Buffy: ...ever be anything. I know. For one thing, you're, like two hundred and twenty-four years older than I am.
Angel: I just gotta... I gotta walk away from this.
"You what? Excuse me?"
"I know who you are. Or, I guess, what you are."
"I'm not anything," she said, taking a sip of her drink through the straw. "I'm just a girl."
He leaned forward, arms on the table and held her gaze for a moment. She looked so defiant just then, not unsure of herself at all. "No, you're not. You know as well as I do that are you are far more than just a girl."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com