"Buffy, we have to talk."
It was Angel. Of course, it was Angel. Who else would be following her into the cemetery?
"There's nothing to talk about."
She knew what he wanted to talk about. The Anointed One had tried to bring the Master back. She'd freaked out and didn't think. It was what she had dreamt of time and time again over the summer. The Master coming back and killing her for good this time. Her not thinking almost led to her friends and her watcher dying. Did he not realize how much that bothered her? She'd already lost one watcher. That aside, after she'd crushed the Master's bones into little more than dust she'd sought Angel and the comfort of his embrace. She'd clutched him to her as if she was drowning and he was her life preserver. She had wept, he had comforted, and she had relished in his gentleness.
It didn't mean a thing. It changed absolutely nothing! He was still making with the "guess my feelings" game. He'd been broodier than usual since the night he saw her with Lindsey at The Bronze. Not that she could blame him. She had done it on purpose. Danced a little sluttier, kissed him on the dance floor. She knew it would drive Angel crazy, and drive home the point that she was over him. She'd moved onto the living as she'd told him already since she came back.
"You can't pretend it didn't happen."
"Oh my God, Angel, I was upset. I needed comfort, you gave it. There's nothing to pretend. If you think it was more than that, you're living in a fantasy world. I have a boyfriend. I've moved on."
"You say that. You didn't act like it, though."
"Do you have any idea what I went through this summer?"
"No, because you haven't exactly been talking to me."
"There's a shock. You should try talking to people, then they might talk to you back. Unfortunately, I don't feel like being in share mode with you."
"What was this summer like?"
"The only time I felt good, normal, was with Lindsey."
"The guy at The Bronze?"
"Yes, I met him this summer."
He nodded, she could tell that he was putting that information somewhere in his mind.
"Anyway, that was the only time that I didn't dwell on what had happened. The fact that I'd died. The fact that if you and Xander hadn't found me the Master would be roaming free doing who knows what."
"No. You listen to me. You asked, now shut up and listen. I have a chance for something good here. He's a good guy. A good human guy. He likes me."
"I'm sure he does. You're probably a tiger in bed."
"Oh my God. Why does everyone think I'm having sex with him?"
"As if that's any of your business, but no. I'm not like that. Did I have sex with you?"
"That should tell you something about me."
"So what then?"
"We spent time together. He took me on dates. He took me to baseball games. He called me when he'd had a bad day at work and talked to me. He took me to dinner. He took me to the beach. He helped me shove it in my ex's face that he wasn't all that. Most importantly, I could see him during the day. Anytime I wanted to. There are no restrictions or rules. He met my dad. He bought me a computer. Knowing my dad would be bothered by such an expensive present, he smoothed things over with him. I like him. A lot. I might actually love him. I don't know. He's willing to come here when he can, and I'm willing to let him."
"Buffy, you can't love someone you have to hide from."
"That's just it. I don't have to hide. He's in LA. I can do my patrolling. He comes to town for an evening or something, I see him and don't patrol. No big deal."
"You tried the social life thing."
"Yeah, I did. And I tried it with someone who I don't have to hide from and that didn't work too well either."
"Now, that's not fair. I was trying to do right by you. There's a lot of years between us."
"Yeah, and they're always going to be there. Lindsey's older than me. Not as old as you, I grant you that, but he's twenty-five. And you know, he's never once indicated that was a problem to him. He's been nothing but respectful and nice to me. He's the one who's put the stop to things when our kissing felt like it was going too far."
"I don't need to hear this."
"I did not ask about your love life. I came to talk to you about us."
"There is no us, Angel. I like you. I want you here. I'm grateful for your help and your information, but whatever it is between us it's not healthy. It's not right. I'm a vampire slayer. You're a vampire. Does that not tell you right off we're not meant to be in love?"
"Did you love me?"
"I'm sure I always will, Angel. I just can't do it. I can't handle the drama. I can't handle you being cool toward me one minute and warm the next. I need more than that."
"And this guy in LA is going to give that to you?"
"Yes! It's not a physical thing, Angel. It's the emotional, too. I need to know that I have all of somebody. I never got that with you."
"So that's it?"
"We had a few months together, Angel. They were good months, other than my dying. I don't deny that, but it's not like that's a lot of time to you. Can we get past this, please?"
"Your friend, Cordelia?"
"Yeah, I'm sorry if she's been bothering you. She saw me with Lindsey at the mall and took that as an indication you were on the market."
"Thanks a lot."
"Hey, I didn't do anything. You're a good looking guy, she's going to go after you."
They were both quiet for a while. Angel walked beside her. She sensed there was more he wanted to say, but he didn't.
"Can we be friends, Angel?"
"I'm not sure, I guess we can try."
"Good, I'm glad, because there is one thing I do know."
"I can't do this without you. You saved my life."
"Xander did it."
"You led him to me. I would have died without you. That earns some loyalty, some respect. I just can't be your girlfriend, something a monster of the week movie is made based off."
"He is kind of jealous of you."
"Oh? Well, that's good."
"I think it bothers him that you're here. He knows you slept on my floor that night."
"You told him that?"
"No! What am I stupid? Xander did."
"Of course. Maybe he's not so dumb after all."
"I'll tell him you said so. Anyway. We're okay?"
"Want some company for the rest of your rounds?"
"Sure. You haven't told me about your summer yet."
"Well, there isn't much to tell, but I'll try and make it sound more exciting than it was."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com