***Part Ten***

So he had her at a cemetery and now did not know what to do with her. They had stopped at his apartment to pick up supplies. She obviously had none, or he assumed not anyway, so they had to weapon up somehow. On the way to his apartment and to the cemetery he saw the pain and insecurity in her eyes and face and felt for her. He wanted to make it stop, to make it right. He knew that bringing her back home and tucking her into her was not going to do that.

He wanted to be her friend, but was not sure that was possible. Could a vampire and a slayer be friends? He doubted she would ever trust him enough to allow that to happen. She only had his word for it that he had a soul. And once he got her to Sunnydale where she belonged he imagined his task would be done and Whistler would have something else for him to do. It was best not to get close to her.

"You're *not* friends. You'll never be friends. You'll be in love till it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other till it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brains, children, it's blood...blood screaming inside you to work its will. *I* may be love's bitch, but at least *I'm* man enough to admit it."

"Okay," he said as he handed her a stake. He had to shake that vision off. There was something so familiar about it, so true. He could hear the speaker's British accent and knew that what the man said was true. "Do you remember what to do?"

"Unfortunately," she murmured. She probably had not intended for him to hear her, but he did.

"I'll be right here, so if you run into trouble I'll step into help, but we've got to get you back to where you were before going to the hospital."

"Looney, you mean."

He placed his hands on either shoulder and met her gaze. She looked so vulnerable and frightened as if she was on the verge of jumping off a cliff with nothing to stop her from free falling to the bottom. He was forcing this on her and he hated it. He hated seeing her look so torn up. "You're not looney, Buff," he whispered.

"I'm just tryin' to protect you. This could get outta control."
"Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?"
"This isn't some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don't wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after."
"No. When you kiss me I wanna die."

He felt that way when he kissed her. Their kiss earlier tonight had awakened something in Angel he had not known existed. Love. It was crazy to think so because he hardly knew this girl but he loved her. This was no schoolboy crush either. This was the sacrifice your life for hers type of love and for some reason he knew he had done it. He had sacrificed everything for her once upon a time.

"I'm not going to say good-bye. If we get through this- I'm just going to go. You understand? There is just too much to-"

"Aren't I? Then explain to me why I'm here? What am I doing with you? Why do I believe you? Why do I want to believe you?"

"Because it's who you are. It's who we are," he said softly.

"Who we are?" She sounded so confused. Of course she would be. She was not getting the visions he was so had no idea what he was talking about.

"Yes," he murmured and bent to kiss her. Her lips were so warm and soft against his. He could easily forget where they were and for what purpose. He wanted her more than anything he had wanted in his life, and that was saying a lot. As Liam he took whatever he wanted regardless of the circumstances or what it would do to his family's reputation. As Angelus he did the same with no regard for anything but relishing in the death and destruction he left in his wake. But he had never wanted anything like he wanted her. His soul ached for her, his body ached for her.

He drew away, unwillingly, but knew they had to focus on the task at hand. He had to get her prepared to do her duties as guardian of the hellmouth. She had to get there, and soon from the way Whistler made it sound.

"You expect me to work after that?"

He smirked slightly, avoiding her gaze so she would not see how pleased he was that his kiss affected her to the point of distraction. This was one of the most active cemeteries in the area as far as vampire risings went. Angel was not sure why, but he had staked out plenty of cemeteries while waiting for her to come around.

They separated, distancing themselves from one another and the kiss and began walking through the cemetery. It should have seemed strange, off putting, but it was very natural to be here with her.

"So, what do you do when you're not stalking me?"

He laughed lightly. "I read a lot and draw."

"Sounds pretty exciting."

"Not much else to do. Don't go out during the day, I'm not a bar fly and I tend to be a bit of a recluse."

"A what?"

"I keep to myself."


"How did you know where to find me? How did you know I'd give in?"

"I was given some help on where to find you by the people who sent me to get you to Sunnydale where you belong. And I didn't know you'd give in. All I could do was hope that your calling and the instincts that come with it would overpower the brainwashing they'd done to you."

"This one looks fresh," she said, gesturing to a grave off to her side.

"Let's sit and wait then," he said. "If he doesn't show we'll come back tomorrow night and I'll scan the obits before coming to get you."

"You can do that?"

"Sure, you look for people who died unexpectedly and the way things are worded can tip you off. Your watcher didn't teach you that?"

"No. I mean, we hadn't gotten to that point I guess."

They stood in silence, both leaning against a headstone waiting to see if a vampire would rise from the fresh grave in front of them. Angel had no idea what to say to her. One hundred years of seclusion did not leave him with knowledge on what girls her age were interested in.



"Have there always been slayers?"

"As far as I know. Vampires were here first, slayers were created to help combat them, stop them from spreading."


"I guess. I don't know."


"Vampires aren't told much about the slayer other than to avoid her. I ran with someone who's killed two of them."

"What?" She sounded genuinely horrified. He had not meant to upset her, had not even thought about it beyond wanting to make conversation with her. "You say that as if it's no big deal."

"Well, it's what vampires do, kill people."

"But you don't."

"Not anymore. I did."

She looked at him then, her eyes piercing. She was searching for something, he had no idea what. If she just asked him he would answer, but he doubted that would suffice. "Do you miss it?"

"I did for a while. I mean, I still craved the blood, but I'd look at a potential victim and couldn't do it. For over one hundred years I handed down my own version of justice to those I thought deserved a death sentence."

"You're so kind and gentle, I can't picture it."

"I'm glad," he whispered. "I'm ashamed of the way I was, the man I was before I became a vampire and the monster I turned into."

"Is helping me some sort of punishment then?"

"I don't think so. I think they were trying to help me."

"Help you?"

"I can do a lot of good. I've got strength and speed on top of being difficult to kill and super healing."

"I guess I'm not difficult to kill but I've got the other things going for me. Slayers are disposable, right? Like razors and paper plates and stuff."

The ground of the grave started moving and Angel was glad for the distraction. Slayers were disposable, she was right. He was not sure how long they lived, but he knew they did not live to be grandmothers or anything like that. They were chosen young and died young as far as he knew.

"Looks like it's show time." She straightened up, pulling the stake out of her pocket and holding it at the ready.

She looked like she had done this before and Angel was glad to see that it was coming back to her. He thought it might but was not sure. She was pretty deep into the denial and depending on the medications she was on. Her memories could have been messed with or suppressed while in the hospital and kept that way with meds.

"This isn't some weird test, right? I mean, you're not going to leave me to fend for myself as soon as he makes his appearance?"

"No," he whispered. "I'm not going anywhere." He suspected she would not need his help. It would not matter how long she had been out of the game, she was not helpless.

"Good, because we don't even know if I can still do this. Maybe it went away, or maybe I forgot."

"You lived a long time without it. You can do it again."
"I guess. But what if I can't? I've seen too much. I know what goes bump in the night. Not being able to fight it... What if I just hide under my bed, all scared and helpless? Or what if I just become pathetic? Hanging out at the old Slayer's home, talking people's ears off about my glory days, showing them Mr. Pointy, the stake I had bronzed."

She was genuinely concerned she would no longer be the slayer. What had caused that? He wished he knew, wished the visions or memories or whatever they were would just show him everything he was supposed to know. If he had all of the information it would be easier to help her. Ease was probably not what Whistler or his bosses had in mind.

The vamp was almost completely out of the grave now. He gave her points for not staking him before he had fully emerged. That would have been too easy and would not have helped prepare her for what she might face. Vampires were not always found in cemeteries rising for the first time. They walked, talked and fed among the humans that Buffy had been chosen to protect.

She was clumsy, uncertain, missed more than a handful of times before actually getting the stake to make contact with the vampire. It took another handful of times for her to get the heart, but she finally did it. The fight took longer than he thought, the vampire got some good licks in but not bad enough that Angel felt the need to step in. And she had not asked him to either.

The vamp dust had cleared and Angel found that he had enjoyed watching her fight. She was rusty but he could see when instinct and the desire to survive kicked in over knowledge. There were times when she blocked the vampire's attempted punch by throwing up her arm. It was so quick that it was clear she did it without thinking.

He had never been up close and personal with a slayer before to appreciate what they did. With a little bit of training, honing of her skills he suspected she would be flawless eventually and a force to be reckoned with. He wondered if he would be around to see it or have moved on by that point.

"Ah. This one of those things you have to finish yourself?"
"Really kinda is."
"You are so gonna lose."
"God, I've missed watching this."

"Buffy?" he asked. She had not moved for quite a while after staking the vamp and he wondered if she was hurt worse than he thought. He noticed as he stepped toward her that her body was shaking, not convulsions but it was still visible. "Are you all right?"

"No," she blurted out her voice thick from tears. She was crying. Was she hurt?

"Where does it hurt?"


He had a sudden moment of complete and utter panic, not sure what to do to help her. "I don't see where you're hurt," he said as he took in her appearance. She looked all right. Her face had some bruises on it, which he imagined would be difficult to explain to her parents. He slid his hand to her face, cupping her cheek and pushing her hair away from her face with his upturned thumb.

"Don't you get it?" She batted his hand away and stepped away from him.

"Get what?"

"The past year, all of it, the drugs, the shrinks, the other loonies that looked at me like I was the nuttiest of them all. It was all for nothing. Why?"

She started pounding on his chest with her fists, which he caught and secured with one of his hands. He had not taken the time to realize how tiny she was until now. Both of her hands fit in the grip of one of his. "Buffy, stop it."

"No, I won't stop it. I won't pretend this is okay. Where in the hell were you? Why didn't you come six months ago? A year ago? A month ago? Why now? Why when I was doing okay with my life did you decide to come and screw it up some more?"

He released her hand and stepped away, rubbing his chest where she had stricken him. She sure knew how to punch a guy and he doubted she even realized how hard she had been pounding on him. "I told you. I don't know what happened, something did, though. I waited for you in Sunnydale, no one told me to come here until recently. I had no idea. I just assumed they forgot about me when you didn't show up."

"Now what the hell am I supposed to do? My parents will take one look at me in the morning and know what I've been doing tonight. They are never going to believe me, Angel. They'll send me back there. I can't do it again. I can't go back there. I don't even know if I can go home and face them. They're going to be so disappointed, Angel."

"You can come with me."


"I have an apartment in Sunnydale. It's not big, but we could find something else for the two of us to share."

"You want me to live with you?" She sounded as surprised by his offer as he was. He did not want someone else sharing his space but the offer had been made, he could not renege on it. He had to get her to Sunnydale, whatever the cost.

"Until we find you something of your own."

"Like I could afford that."

"You should have a watcher, too. I'm surprised one hasn't contacted you honestly."

"I don't know that I'd know if one did."

"Just don't think about it, Buffy. Come with me. You said yourself you can't go home looking like this."

"I," she was thinking, he could tell. "My stuff. What about all my stuff?"

"I'll take you home tonight. Pack what you need tomorrow and I'll pick you up tomorrow night."

"But my friends, my parents, my stuff. You want me to leave it all behind for what? To battle vampires and demons? To get sucked back into all that death. What if I don't want to?"

"You have to, Buffy."

"I do not. I could walk away from this cemetery tonight and never do it again."

"Do you really believe that after having that stake in your hand again tonight? After watching that vampire turn to dust? You could hang it up and not slay vampires knowing this one tonight would have been out feeding on a human had you not stopped it?"

"Stop it! Okay, you're right. I'll go with you. I'll go, I can't do this anymore. I can't lie to everybody."

"As long as you're not lying to yourself."

"Just stop with the philosophizing, all right? I said I'll go. But we leave tonight. I can't let my parents see me like this. They'll think I'm fighting again and lock me in my room."

"They can do that?"

"Yes," Buffy whispered. "They put a lock on my door as security, in case I was not as better as the doctors thought I was."

"Dear God," he whispered, unable to wrap his mind around a child's parents doing that.

"So, you take me with you tonight or the deal's off."

"There's too little time before sunrise, we can't go tonight."

"Then take me home with you. We can go by my house and I'll pack some clothes and pray my parents haven't woken up and discovered I'm gone."

"Are you going to leave them a note?"

"I'll mail one. I don't want to waste time and risk them catching me. I can't, Angel, I won't be locked up again."

"You don't have to be ever again." He just hoped she believed in him as much as he believed in her.

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