He and Whistler finished their training for the day and Whistler had made himself scarce as the man seemed to do more often than not when their sessions came to an end. Angel had to admit after close to one hundred years of living in almost complete solitude, he missed Whistler when he was gone sometimes. Even if the man was annoying more often than not and dressed terribly.
The evening was still young and Angel was finding the confines of his motel room stifling. Without thought, he was in his car and driving in the direction of the home of the girl he was to help. The Slayer. As a vampire he had not concerned himself with what training the Slayer needed to prepare for her calling. If all Slayer's were called the way this one had been, Angel could understand why their life expectancy was so short.
He parked his car a few streets away and made the rest of the way to her house on foot. He saw the light go on in what he presumed was her bedroom, heard through the open window the conversation she had with her mother and the argument her parents had, and saw her clutch her bathroom sink and cry. His unbeating heart clenched at the sight of her tears.
He did not know her, Whistler had not told Angel what the Slayer's Christian name was, but Angel felt as if she had been a part of him all along lying dormant. He had assumed for the past century that what was missing from his unlife was the killing, the feeding, the mayhem and destruction he had caused. But Angel knew the moment he saw her outside of her high school, saw her standing there being informed of her calling, that she was what had been missing from his unlife.
He knew she was the girl Whistler had brought him to see instantly. How he had no idea, he just did. She looked so different that day than she did this evening. No doubt she had been out with her Watcher training or performing her duties. Hearing her parents argue probably did not help either. He wondered how she could go to school and put on such a false front to those around her. Did any of her friends know her parents argued like this? He doubted it, she did not strike Angel as the type to confide in people about such personal matters. In some ways she reminded him of himself because they were both rather alone.
He watched from the shadows a large tree in her front yard provided as she washed her face, brushed her teeth, ran a brush through her hair and realizing the next step in her nightly routine would be shedding her clothes for pajamas he left the yard. He wanted to go to her, would like nothing better than to comfort her, but that was not what he had been asked to do. He had been told the Slayer would not fulfill her calling here in Los Angeles, soon she would be elsewhere and that was where Angel would be called upon to offer her assistance.
Knowing this did not make it any easier for him to walk away from her tonight. He could still hear her sobs, could see her tear stained cheeks pink from the warmth crying caused in humans. He turned back one last time and saw her standing at her window, looking in his direction as if she knew he was there. "Good night," he whispered into the night.
Sunnydale, March 1996
So she had finally arrived, Angel thought as he watched the movers unpack the truck. He had been here for two months now at Whistler's orders, waiting impatiently to see her again. And she was here finally, now the product of a divorced home. He wondered if Whistler and whoever he worked for had seen that happening. Did they even care that she was obviously hurting over her parents splitting up? By now he was aware of her name, Buffy Anne Summers. What sort of a name was Buffy?
He watched her from the front yard as he had at her home in Los Angeles. Tonight she was unpacking, but she still looked sad. Angel hated seeing her look that way. He remembered again the day he had first seen her standing outside her high school. She had been walking with some other girls, with a sucker in between her lips while she talked to her friends. What they had been talking about Angel had no idea. He did not try to pretend he had any clue what sixteen year old girls discussed.
She had been a vision, sunlight and goodness, spunky and perky, her whole life ahead of her. Until that day, she probably had little more on her mind beyond where she would get her next dress or which boy she would go to the movies with the next weekend. How quickly her life had changed. They had that in common at any rate, even if it was night and day, light and dark difference.
He stepped further into the shadows when he saw her approach the window in her room that overlooked the front yard. She opened the window and peered outside as if looking for something in particular. Was she looking for him? She looked so sad, he could see that from where he stood and once again his unbeating heart constricted at the sight of her standing there, unhappy and on the verge of tears over something that was beyond her control.
He had left a white long stem rose he had bought on the back porch. The unsigned card simply had her name written on it in Angel's bold, old world style script handwriting, tied around the stem so that her mother would know it was for Buffy. He saw she was holding the rose in her hands, bringing it to her nose to smell its sweetly pungent odor.
He left the yard, walking in the direction of his apartment knowing somehow that he was in trouble. It had started the moment he saw her, the broody reclusive lifestyle he had grown proficient at the past century no longer seemed important once he realized that she would need his help. He still did not know what he, a vampire, had to offer the Slayer, but he had to believe whoever sent Whistler knew what they were doing.
So, finally she was here. His life was about to change and all because he had known the instant he saw her that he could help her, even if he did not know how. She was here now, prepared to perform her duties on the hellmouth. He wondered if she even knew what that meant, if she understood that her life from this day forward would be in constant danger. The hellmouth was not conducive to longevity, particularly for Slayers. Hopefully, though with his help she would beat those odds.
He stopped at the local demon bar to get himself some blood to last him for the night before returning to his apartment. The bartender, a human named Willy, knew Angel well by now. Angel came in here night after night, the only vampire Willy knew of that ordered blood to drink regularly.
"Hey Angel," the weasely Willy said from behind the bar. "How's it going tonight?"
"Good, Willy, I'll have some pig tonight if you have any."
"You bet, Angel, nothing but the best for you." Angel grimaced and took a seat at the bar. Willy would serve orangutan blood if he thought he could get away with it. Angel had become a blood connoisseur over the years, though, and knew the real deal from the rest. So, Willy had by now learned not to try and fool Angel. "So, Angel, my buddy, what's with the long face?"
"She's here," Angel said simply. Angel had talked to Willy more than he had talked to any human the past couple of months, he did not know why exactly Angel was here but knew it had something to do with the Slayer and the fact she was due to arrive in Sunnydale.
"The new Slayer is here," Willy said with a whisper, resting his elbows on the top of the bar after he had set Angel's mug of blood in front of him.
"Yes, she is."
"You must have done something really bad before that soul thing, my friend, to be stuck having to babysit the Slayer."
"I'm not stuck doing it, I volunteered."
"Well, Willy, it goes like this," Angel said taking a long pull off the blood. "Do you believe in love at first sight?"
"Sure, Angel, buddy ol' pal, I believe in whatever my customers want me to believe in. I can't say I've ever experienced it though."
Angel grimaced slightly at that, sensing somehow that Willy probably had very little experience with the opposite sex with love involved or not. "Well, that's why I'm doing it."
"I don't get it. She's just a kid."
"I wish I could explain it, Willy. I saw her standing there and I just knew this was what I was supposed to be doing. I was chosen for a reason."
"You'd best be careful, she's jailbait you know."
Angel grabbed Willy by his shirt front, refraining from punching the little weasel's face into a bloody pulp. "I'm not going to touch her. She'll never even know who I am or what I feel for her."
Willy's brow furrowed at that. "I don't get it then," he said and Angel released the bartender, barely even noticing the stench of fear the human was putting off.
"I'll help her when I can without her knowing it, I'll help her when I have to with her knowing it, but it's going to be purely business. She's never going to know a damned thing, and she sure as hell wouldn't have feelings for a vampire."
"Maybe if you told her about your deal, the curse and all."
"No," Angel said gruffly. "She will know nothing about me beyond the fact I'll be there to help her when she needs it."
"I don't get it, buddy, but you know what's best. Just be careful."
"I think it's too late for that, Willy, but thanks." He laid some money down on the top of the bar after he finished the mug of blood.
"Good night, Angel. Don't forget I serve the hard stuff too if you need it."
"I don't want to drink these feelings away, Willy, they're sort of," Angel shrugged. "It's foreign and new, but I like it. I've never been concerned for anyone but me, even when I was human. I guess maybe this is my penance."
"I've never heard of a vamp being able to do penance before, Angel, but if they can I imagine you would be able to."
"Right," Angel said and strode out of the bar toward his apartment, determined to put thoughts of admitting anything to Buffy about himself or his feelings for her out of his mind for good. Nothing good could come out of it. He could love her from afar, it would be no big deal. Sooner or later, she would be gone as all of the humans he had known over the last couple of centuries had done. Some, of course, he had been responsible for taking the lives of.
He paused on the sidewalk, Willy's offer of hard liquor to get Buffy off his mind repeating itself in his head. He debated briefly about walking back to Willy's and drowning his sorrows, but decided against it. He had spent too much of the last century drowning his sorrows, it was time to live again - live in the way a vampire could live that was. So long as she never found out about his feelings for her they should be all right. "All this because I saw her standing there," he mused to himself about the unfamiliar feelings and conflict he had experienced since he first saw her.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com