***Part Seven***

Buffy had no idea why she had done it. She stepped into a pair of sweatpants and went to her bathroom and brushed her hair, pulling it into a ponytail. She glanced at the basket full of her makeup and contemplated putting some blush and eyeliner on. "This is not a date," she chided herself as she grabbed her toothbrush.

She was acting like it was a date and that bothered her. She was glad to be home, glad to be back into the fold at school, but it grew frustrating having to lie and keep track of the lies. The fact that Angel might be a raving lunatic was not lost on her, but at least she did not have to watch what she said around him.

There was more to it then that, though. Sure, he was a nice looking guy but she needed to talk to him. She had felt him outside and knew that she could not put it off forever. The sooner she gave in and talked to him the sooner he would go about his business and leave Buffy alone. She was not sure it was as simple as that, but it was worth a try. She could not have him hanging around or her parents would find out and ask questions. Buffy did not think her parents, her dad especially, would be too keen on an older guy hanging around.

She opened her bedroom door and listened for a minute. All was quiet. She glanced in the direction of her parents' bedroom. No light came out from under the door so she assumed they were asleep. If she got caught she would just say she was going to get something to drink from the kitchen. She would have to hope that Angel would figure out she got caught and leave.

She opened the backdoor and walked outside. "Angel?" she whispered and started slightly when he walked out of the shadows. She was expecting him so she did not know why she was jumpy. "Hi," she said.

"Hi," he said, his hands clasped together in front of him.

"We have to be quiet."

"That's fine. I'm mostly a quiet guy anyway."

"I get that," she said with a slight smile and closed the distance between them.

"I'm glad you agreed to meet me."

"I realized there is no other way of getting rid of you."

"Come on, that's not fair."

"You've been following me for weeks."

"I have not been following you. You'd have to leave your house on occasion for me to actually be following you."

"I do leave me house."


"Yeah. I go to school and do stuff."

"I haven't seen you do stuff since that night at the club."

"Excuse me that I really don't want to go out if it means someone's going to try to convince me I'm insane."

"You are not insane, Buffy."

"Normal people do not think the things I do or believe in them."

"What things?" he asked. He seemed to really want to know.

"Why are you doing this to me? I mean, why does this keep happening to me? I didn't ask for it."

"You were chosen, it's a gift."

"A gift? Why don't you try out the gig for a while and see what a gift it is?"

"I can't."

"Thanks a lot," she said with a roll of her eyes. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her hooded UCLA sweatshirt and walked toward the corner of the yard furthest from view from the patio area.

"I can help you. If you let me."

"How? By sucking me back into a life that caused me to lose everything I had?"

"It doesn't have to be that way."

"Doesn't it?" He scowled and she could tell he was trying to think of what to say. "I can't go back there, Angel. I can't. I don't think I'd survive it a second time."

"Why do you assume you're crazy?"

"Vampires, demons, watchers and slayers it's all make-believe. It's craziness and I'm so not going back there."

"Have any dreams lately?"

She stared at him wide-eyed, unable to answer him for a moment. "How do you know about my dreams?"

"Because it comes with being the slayer."

"How do you know so much about it? Aren't you," she paused unable to say it out loud. She knew what he was. With every fiber of her being she knew it and had since the first night she sensed him. He obviously was not here to hurt her or he would have by now. So what did he want? "What do you want?"

"To help you."

"Why would you want to help me?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Because you're," she frowned. She would not say it. If she said it out loud it would be like admitting that she had been in that hospital for no reason at all. She would not do it. She had been poked, prodded, drugged, confined and analyzed. It had not been for nothing.

"I'm what?"

"Stop it."

"I'm not doing anything," he said, sounding entirely too amused.

"You are. You know what I think you are and you're trying to make me say it."

"Why won't you?"

She did not want him to see her cry so she turned her back to him and walked toward the fence. She felt the tears forming fast and did not want him to see her cry. "Because I can't."

"This would be so much easier if you would just talk to me."

"For you."

"No, not for me, for you. If you would just admit it we could go from here. Until you admit who you are, what you are you're never going to get better."

"I am better."

He was behind her, his hands on her shoulders so quickly she had no time to react. "Are you really?" he asked softly.

Her eyes fell closed at the contact. His hands were gentle in no way threatening, which was strange. If he was what she thought he should want to kill her not comfort her. She began to cry then, deep shuddering sobs that rocked her body. She had not let herself cry during this whole ordeal. She had not been able to and her parents had offered her little comfort or sympathy. They had been more concerned with their image and how a crazy daughter might effect her father's position at work.

The fact that this guy who was a virtual stranger offered her more comfort than her parents had sent her over the edge. "It's not fair," she whispered.

"No one said it was."

"Why? Why me?"

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