***Part Eight***

"The Cliff Notes version? I want a normal life. Like I had before."
"Before me."
"No, Angel, it's not you. You're the one freaky thing in my freaky world that still makes sense to me. I just get messed sometimes. I wish we could be regular kids."
"Yeah. I'll never be a kid."
"Okay, then a regular kid and her cradle robbing, creature-of-the-night boyfriend."

He placed his hands at her shoulders and let his head rest against the top of hers, hoping she would find it comforting. He had the desire to comfort and protect her at all costs. "I don't know. I don't know how it works. Honestly, until recently I'd never given much thought on how it worked. I was just told to help you."

"Why?" she asked, turning in his arms to face him. He embraced her. It was so natural as if he had done it a hundred times before. A part of him believed he had held her before, but another part rebelled at the idea of the images he was seeing being true memories and not just mind tricks of some sort.

"I asked them to turn me back."
"What?! Why?"
"Because more than ever, I know how much I love you."

"Why what?" he asked, shaking off that last image. Some of the images were just that, images. Some sucked him in and he could feel the emotion surrounding the memory. This most recent one was intense.

"Why would a vampire help me?"

He knew how hard it was for her to say that aloud and he was proud of her. She was coming around. "Do you really want to know?" he asked as he ran his hand through her hair. It was so soft and smelled so good. He could stand here holding her forever.

"Uh huh," she said, sniffling. She wiped her nose on the sleeve of her sweatshirt and looked up at him, her eyes reddened and puffy from the tears. He wanted to make her feel better, whatever that took. He lowered his mouth to hers unable to resist. She protested briefly, but he knew what to do and she grew quiet and kissed him back. Her arms wrapped around his neck and he deepened the kiss. He remembered how she tasted, how warm she always felt to the touch as if he had been in this position a hundred times before.

In his mind he saw a bedroom that was not hers, but it was at the same time. It was confusing. They stood near a window, bathed in the moon's rays. That was their first kiss. He had vamped out on her then and drew away from her suddenly, ashamed he had so little control of himself.

Nothing had changed, he still had no control over himself where Buffy was concerned and he drew away from her, ashamed that he had vamped out in front of her over something as simple as a kiss. "I'm sorry," he whispered though he was not sorry in the least.

"I'm not," she whispered her head against his chest. "Why don't you bite or kill me?"

"What?" he asked with a low laugh.

She sighed heavily. "You're a vampire, why don't you feed off me or kill me?"

"I don't feed, I don't kill."

She drew away, both hands against his chest. "Why not?"

His eyes fell closed. She was looking at him with such trust in her eyes. If he blew this he sensed there was not going to be another chance. This was his chance to make things right once and for all. It was all or nothing.

"I was cursed about one hundred years ago. I fed on a girl about your age. She was beautiful, dumb as a post, but a favorite among her clan."

"Her clan?"

"Romany. Gypsies. The elders conjured the perfect punishment for me. They restored my soul. I've spent the last one hundred years living in seclusion, hiding from myself as well as humanity."

"What changed?"

"You," he whispered.


"Things weren't supposed to happen this way. I don't know what happened. I was there, at your school, the day you got your calling."

"It was in the middle of the day. You couldn't have been."

"I was in a car with the windows completely blacked out. I was told to go to Sunnydale and wait for you. You never came."

"Mom was talking about moving there. My parents were having a bad spell there and the word divorce came up at least ten times a day if not more."

"What happened?"

"I got put in the hospital and apparently their problems were solved. They couldn't handle having a delinquent for a daughter."

"You're not a delinquent."

"They didn't believe me. I tried to tell them," she said, fresh tears forming in her eyes. He wanted to kiss each and every one of them away. "I tried to explain it but they wouldn't believe me. They sent me to that place. They had me locked away because they wouldn't believe me, Angel."

"It's over now."

"No, it's not. I'll never get it back. All of that time spent locked in a room, having drugs forced fed to me. They got me believing I was nuts. They have me on so much medicine that I don't have dreams anymore."

"Stop taking it."

"I don't want the dreams."

"You have to have them, Buffy. It's part of what makes you who you are. You can't ignore it and you can't close yourself off to who you are anymore. If you do you will go crazy and you'll get violent towards anyone."

"Don't you get it? I just want to be a normal girl."

"But you're not, Buffy, you're not. Something's wrong. I don't know what it is, but something happened. You were supposed to be in Sunnydale, you didn't come and things got skewed somehow. I don't know how or why, but I just know it. You need to admit to yourself what and who you are. I'll help you train, I'll help you patrol, but you have to start performing your duties again." He had not meant to say that, he was not sure if it was true, but it was the only explanation he had for the visions he kept having. He believed he was remembering actual events, but they were not events he had experienced.

"I can't, Angel. My parents."

"You were supposed to be in Sunnydale, Buffy. I don't know if it was with just your mom or not, but you aren't supposed to be here. You can't mess with things like this."

"I'm messing with things?"

"Whose idea was it to put you in the hospital?"

"All of us decided it was the best thing. I didn't want to believe all of those things, Angel. It's craziness."

"Come with me tonight."


"I want to show you who you are."

"I can't."

"You can," he whispered as he tilted her head up so he could look directly into her eyes. "Please come with me."

"My parents will check on me."

"I'll have you back before sunrise."

"Of course you will, don't want you burning up into a pile of dust."

"You remember?"

She closed her eyes as if trying to force the images out of her mind. He knew he was pushing it but he had to get her out in the field or there would be no convincing her. "Yes, I remember," she said, looking into his eyes once again.

"I'll have you home in plenty of time."

She looked back at her house and shook her head. "I'm nuts to be doing this. They're going to find me gone and send me right back to the hospital."

"I won't let them," he said with a low growl in his throat. The idea of someone harming her again, drugging her was enough to set him into a rage. "No one will touch you again. I promise," he whispered and leaned in to kiss her again.

Her hands pressed against his chest as she rose on her tip toes to make it easier for them. His arms slid along the small of her back, slightly lower so his fingertips touched the top of her bottom. He remembered what she felt like, how she responded to his touch.

"We shouldn't," he whispered as he drew away.

"I know, but it's nice," she murmured her head against his chest again.

"It is," he agreed hesitantly. He was not here to have a romantic relationship with the girl. He was just here to get her to the hellmouth in Sunnydale where she belonged. Emotions would just get him in trouble. "It won't happen again."

"That's real flattering," she said as she drew away from him and walked toward the gate in the fence which would lead them away from her house.

"I didn't mean it like that. It's just, this is a work thing."

"Work thing?"

"I was sent to change things. To make things right."

"You think I'm just going to leave my parents, friends and LA behind and come to Sunnydale with you?"

"Why not?"

She scoffed at him, briefly looking incredulously at him. "Men," she murmured as she brushed past him, out of the yard.

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