Conversations and Arrivals
Disclaimer: As always, Joss owns Buffy and Kripke owns Supernatural. Beautiful fan art by the lovely sarbear. Lots of love for that!
Warning, not a lot happens in this chapter. Originally, I wanted to include her scene with the Scoobies, but I was having a huge case of writers block (obviously, as I have not updated this story in like A YEAR) and wanted to get something out for you guys. Hope you enjoy and that my muse kicks it into gear and churns out another chapter ASAP!
Love to loopy (x2!), Nuala, Bunney, angmclure, bradsan, SilverMidnight, Dootzbugg, nightshadowlife, pureevil, JeanClaudeslover, GypsyWitch, clarityfades, kiwi, and Valeee for all of your wonderful, wonderful reviews and for sticking by me even though all of the writer's block! Kisses!
She was half way to the door before she realized that she was completely naked.
Though the haze that was her racing mind, she remembered that she had not dressed before getting into bed before her nap. Quickly pulling on a robe that was draped over a nearby chair, she crossed the distance between her and the door and grasped its handle, yanking it open with a quick tug. The loud bang of the shiny metal doorknob hitting the wall behind it barely registered, and in the blink of an eye, she found herself staring at the smooth polished wood of Angel's door.
The blonde was shaking with anger and silent sobs, tears streaking down her flushed cheeks as she raised a tight fist to knock on the door in front of her. Her hand connected with the dark wood, but instead of the soft thud she had been expecting, the door flew off of its hinges and into the pitch-black room. The fury and sorrow she was feeling rushed from her body, leaving her in stunned silence as a thunderous crash echoed through the room and into the hallway. The ringing in her ears from the sound disoriented her, and she stood motionless, her hand still raised and clutched into a fist.
He didn't scream or shout in surprise, but he did let out a barely-audible gasp. He had always been a quiet one.
It only took a second for the Slayer's eyes to adjust to the darkness they had been plunged into. Beyond the blackness caused by the tightly closed curtains, she could see him sitting up in bed, clad in only a pair of boxers, having thrown the sheets off of him in surprise. At the sight of her, Angel let out a small sigh of relief, and she could practically feel the tension slipping from his body. All she could do was stare as the vampire gracefully slid out from under his black silk sheets, and strode toward where she was standing in the doorway, her petite frame silhouetted against the soft glow of the hallway lamps. Buffy let her raised hand fall loosely to her side while her eyes tracked his almost-predatory movements as he crossed the room and stopped a less than a foot in front of her.
“I, uh...” In her shocked state, the Slayer couldn't seem to wrangle her thoughts, and she continued to stare up at him as he loomed over her. The tears in her eyes had dried instantly at the shockingly aggressive burst of strength that had knocked the door off of its hinges, but she could still feel the moisture coating her flushed cheeks.
“What? What is it?” The surprise and alertness had had previously been clouding his features slipped away, leaving confusion and worry in their wake. Angel was looking at her with those soulful brown eyes of his, and she sucked in a breath, her tongue worming its its way out of her open mouth to moisten her now parched lips. “Have you been crying?”
Getting no response from her, the vampire grasped the despondent Slayer by the shoulders, shaking her slightly in an attempt to rouse her from her startled state. The action finally shocked Buffy out of her thoughts, and she instinctively stepped back, remembering the dream that had landed her in front of her former lover's door. Before she realized what was happening, her hand had formed into a fist at her side and had propelled itself upwards and outwards straight into the side of Angel's face. He swore loudly as the punch connected, staggering backwards at the blow.
“You knew?” the Slayer screamed, the pain and sorrow she had been feeling turning to anger in less than a second. “All of this time. You knew?” Her voice was shrill and loud, the volume and raw emotion behind it shocking them both. She made no move to enter the room, her feet firmly planted on the soft carpet and her arms shaking at her sides.
“What are you doing?” Angel roared, still reeling from the blow, and through the haziness of her anger, Buffy could see that he had transformed. In the dim lighting, she could make out the bright yellow glisten of his eyes, and she stared, transfixed, at the small stream of blood that tricked out of his nose and into his snarling mouth. In a second, it was gone, his features once again rearranging into those of the man she loved. “What was that for?” The volume of his voice had also returned to normal, but there was something about the way he stalked toward her that had Buffy's muscles tensing.
“You knew,” she repeated, her voice, like his, returning to its normal volume. He reached out to her, but her slight flinch had him stopping in his tracks. “That day. The Mohra demon. You knew all this time.” The memories of the vision that Castiel had shown her flooded her mind, and her throat started to close up as the hurt and sorrow once again started to overtake her. “The park. The sewers. Those last few moments in your apartment.” She was starting to get hysterical again and backed up a few more paces, feeling her back hit the smooth wall of the hallway. Buffy flung her arms to the side, desperately trying to find something to grasp onto but finding none as her knees grew week and her vision blurred with tears. All of the strength that her adrenaline and anger had given her bled from her body, leaving her weak and vulnerable.
“Buffy.” The tension in his muscles from her earlier attack had disappeared, and she could see the defeat in his eyes. “How did you find out?” His voice was now quiet and raw, something that she rarely heard from him. It was reminiscent of the pain present in her vision, and it only served to quicken to flow of tears down her cheeks.
“Does it matter?” she managed to choke out before she felt her legs give way, and she slid to the ground. Before she could reach the plush carpet, Angel had crossed the short distance between them and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into his lap and making soft shushing noises. She both hated and loved him for that.. “Why didn't you tell me?” Buffy started to calm at the contact, her sobs turning into sniffles as she burrowed her face into his neck. She rarely allowed herself to get emotional, Slayer strength and all that, but this had thrown her for a loop, and she had always felt the most vulnerable in his arms.
“I didn't want you to know,” he started, and paused, clearly waiting for an argument. When none came, he continued. “You have no idea what it's like, living with the memory of that day. I finally had everything I wanted. I had you.” The vampire sighed and shifted their combined form so that he could lean up against the wall with his former lover cradled between his outstretched legs.
“Why'd you give it up?” Of course she knew why, but she needed to hear him say it. The tears had stopped as she sat unmoving in his arms, willing the moment never to end. When he held her, it was like she was sixteen again, the two of them cuddled up under a tree in one of Sunnydale's numerous cemeteries when she was supposed to be patrolling. Everything faded away, and it was like the last four years hadn't even happened. But listening to him reliving that day made it painfully obvious that they had.
“I knew we couldn't be together if the cost of your life, or the lives of others.” Hearing him utter something so similar to what that he had said that day had her heart breaking all over again, and the tears were back, threatening to overtake her vision. Buffy closed her eyes, allowing them to drop onto his bare chest, barely listening as he continued. “I didn't want you to have to live with it. It's the hardest thing that I've ever had to do. Each and every day, I relive those moments with you.” His grip on her tightened at her renewed tears, but she still couldn't bring herself to say anything. “I wanted to you be able to move on. You know that we'd never work. It's why I left you in the first place. I wanted you to find love, even if it wasn't with me. And it looks like you have.” The last part was spoken so softly that she might not have been able to hear it if it wasn't for her Slayer hearing.
“It's not-...” she started, looking up at him, but he interrupted her.
“You know it is.” He was right, of course he was, but the look of sorrow in his eyes was too much for her to bear. She looked away, guiltily focusing her gaze on the carpet beneath them. “I'm happy for you.” He wasn't. “It's what I wanted.” It was.
“I'm sorry.” Buffy knew that the apology would mean little to him, but she felt the need to explain herself anyways.
“Don't be,” Angel replied, sliding a finger under her chin and tilting it up so that she was looking him straight in the eye. “You've moved on. It's what I wanted.”
“I haven't!” She was starting to panic now, the emotions coursing through her making her nearly hysterical. “I love you. I will always love you just as much as I did when I was sixteen, but you left, Angel. You left me, and I had to learn to live without you. It was horrible.”
“No, Angel!” Buffy interrupted. She had never been able to say these things to him, and it felt like a huge weight was being lifted from her already over-burdened chest. “You left, and I never got to say this. But, dammit, I'm going to say it now!” He wisely stayed silent at her outburst. Satisfied, she continued. “Learning to live without you was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I did it. You were gone, and I had to figure out who I was without you.” She paused. He was still staring at her with rapt attention. “So yes, I found someone else. He's sweet, and stable, and yes, it might be love. But that doesn't mean that I've stopped loving you. I will always love you.”
And with that, their moment was over. There was nothing else to be said.
With a small cough, Buffy struggled to regain her motor functions and extracted herself from his arms, standing and offering him a hand up that he easily took. As he stared down at her, she started to fidget slightly, scuffing her bare foot against the soft carpet.
“Well. We should get going.” Looking over her shoulder into her room, the blonde saw that the sun had set sometime during the course of their discussion and nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, I guess we should. Are you still okay with driving me?” Angel nodded, and though the shimmer of sadness was still present in his eyes, he had arranged his features into an impassive mask. Damn, he really was good at that.
“Yeah. I am.” And with that, the two disappeared into their rooms to freshen up and get dressed, closing their doors and leaving the moment far behind them.
The two hour drive had been made in almost complete silence, both champions thinking over to the conversation that had happened in the hallway and Buffy feeling especially guilty about it. After seeing the raw emotions that the memories had brought up in her former lover, she regretted bringing them up, as they had inevitably led to the discussion of her new love. Castiel's vision still fresh in her mind, she spent the majority of the drive mulling over her relationship with Dean and the decision to leave him. Sure, they hadn't been together for nearly as long as she and Angel had, but he already that all of those abandonment issues from his and Sam's childhood. Had she made the right decision? Castiel's appearance in her dreams and dire warnings had made her start to second guess herself. Would he and Sam be alright without her? Of course they would. They'd been hunting for years. Even longer than she had, in fact.
“We're here.” His soft comment startled Buffy out of her contemplative state, and she looked up to see that they were parked in front of her old house.
“So we are.” From the car, everything seemed calm, the complete opposite of how she had left it. The light through the windows cast soft shadows onto the lawn in front of the house, and she could see the curtains blowing slightly from an open window in one of the second floor rooms. Her room. “Looks the same.” A wave of nostalgia swept over her, but it passed quickly as the blonde moved to exit the car. “Will you round everyone up and have them meet at the Magic Box in an hour? There's something I have to do.” Angel nodded before turning away from her. He had barely said two words to her since they had left Los Angeles, but Buffy couldn't really blame him. They had both been through a lot. “Alright. See you in a bit.” In one swift motion, she had swung open the door of the black convertible and effortlessly slid off the leather seats. Slamming the door behind her, the Slayer turned her back on the vampire and disappeared down the street, her heels clicking against the all-too-familiar pavement.
Her hand shook slightly as her fist hovered less than an inch from the dark wood of the door. She coughed and took a step back, desperately trying to stop herself from fleeing the scene. Her large hazel eyes darted around the almost-too-familiar courtyard, taking in the weathered stone fountain and abundant amount of semi-wilted house plants.
“Come on, Buffy. You can do this,” the blonde muttered, her gaze once again zeroing in on the clover-shaped pattern surrounding the black door knocker. “Slayers are known for their courage.”
They were also known for their early expiration date, but that hadn't really stuck either.
With another nervous cough, she grasped the cool metal and slammed it against the door twice. It's task complete, Buffy's hand fell back to her side where it immediately slipped into the pocket of her jeans. After a few seconds of anxiety-ridden silence, the door whipped open, causing her to jump slightly. She felt a slight prickling in the corner of her eyes at the sight of him. She had never been much of a crier, but apparently the last couple of days had changed that.
Clad in jeans and a light gray sweater with just a hint of his white undershirt peaking out from beneath his collar, he looked at her somewhat dismissively before waving her in and turning away, leaving the door ajar.
“Come in.” Shocked at his flippancy, Buffy followed him through the entry way and into the living room, giving the door a small push to close it as she passed. His back was turned to her, and around his tensed frame, she could see him reaching for a glass of scotch that was settled amongst a disheveled pile of papers on the wooden desk in the corner of the room. He barely spared her a second glance before shuffling about the space, busying himself with anything he could get his hands on. He never once looked her in the eyes. “How was patrol?” The lack of emotion in his voice startled the Slayer, and she blinked in confusion a few times before her voice box reactivated itself.
“Wh-what?” Her voice hitched in her throat, and she coughed, trying to rid it of its sudden parched feeling.
“How was patrol?” He finally turned toward her, slowing his words dramatically as if he was talking to a small child. His expression was arranged in an odd mix of exasperation and indifference, an expression he had never directed at her. Usually it was one or the other.
“I...” And then it clicked. The bot. He thought she was the bot. Willow must have fixed it after the fight in the alley. “Giles.” The emotion in her voice caused him to peel his gaze away from the chair in the corner and settle on her. “It's me.” There was a moment of stillness before he reacted.
“Buffy?” The gaze of wonderment directed at her was so intense that she had to look away, instead studying a potted plant in the corner. Giles rarely showed any overt emotion, and whenever he did, it often overwhelmed her. “Good lord, is it really you?”
“It's me, Giles,” she assured him, once again attaching her eyes to his. “Buffy Summers, Slayer extraordinaire, back from the dead and reporting for duty.”
“Oh, Buffy.” With more speed and grace than she thought capable of him, he crossed the distance between them in a few long strides and wrapped his arms around her, clinging to her as if he couldn't believe that she was really standing in front of him. A few long moments later, he stepped back, looking red, flustered, and extremely embarrassed. “I'm sorry.” He coughed awkwardly, and for the first time, she noticed that he wasn't wearing his usual round-framed glasses.
“Don't worry. I won't tell anyone,” Buffy promised, the corners of her mouth turning up in amusement. She really had missed him. Not that that was surprising. “What's happening there with your lack of glasses?” she added, pointedly waving her hand around in front of his face. He stood, stunned, for a moment but then chucked, the sound bouncing off the walls and going straight for her heart.
“Contacts,” her mentor and former Watcher answered, bringing a hand up to rub lightly at his eyes. “Still getting used to them.”
“They suit you.”
With that, they smiled at each other, and it was like she had never left.
“Oh God. I don't think I can do this.”
Pseudo father and daughter stood side by side staring up at the obnoxiously bright blue awning of The Magic Box. After Buffy had arrived, Giles had bombarded her with questions in his typical freakishly-efficient and emotionally-restrained way, but she hadn't answered, not wanting to have to explain where she had been more than once. She could see the annoyance behind his now spectacle-free eyes, but he merely nodded, accepting her decision.
He wasn't angry with her. She was surprised at that. After being gone for the better part of a year, she had expected a repeat of one of his “shirking her duties” speeches but received none. She guessed it was because he was so surprised and overjoyed to see her alive. The speech would come later, that she was sure of. That would be fun.
“You can.” The confidence in his voice did nothing to quell the over-active butterflies in her stomach. She had no idea how long they had been standing here, making no move to enter the shop. It couldn't have been that long, but to her, it felt like hours.
“Giles, they're going to hate me.” The Slayer was staring straight ahead, her gaze never wavering from the slightly faded sign, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw him turn his head toward her.
“They could never hate you.” If only that was true. With a deep sigh, Buffy nodded.
“Okay. Here we go.” Pause. “Any second now. Yeah, I'm totally moving.” But before she could take one step, there was a screeching of tires, and she looked up to see a shiny black Impala barreling around the corner. The blonde was momentarily blinded as the headlights hit her straight in the eyes, and she brought up a hand in an attempt to shield them. The car stopped five feet away from them against the sidewalk, and the driver killed the engine. Her eyes now fixed on the two silhouettes in the front seat, her heart sank, the previously fluttering butterflies turning to lead and dropping in her stomach. “Giles, go inside. I'll be right there.”
He cast her a worried glance, but her tone of voice left no room for argument, so he slowly left her side and headed toward the shop. The second the door closed behind him, the passenger's side door opened, and a pair of impossibly long legs slid out. Before she could even process what was happening, Sam was standing in front of her, his eyes wide and a genuine smile plastered on his face. His heartbeat pounded rapidly in her ears, making her dizzy.
“Sam...” Her voice sounded distant, and she struggled with what to say next, but the tall brunet cut her off before she could make it any further.
“Thank God!” Relief and eagerness showed on his face, and he was still smiling. “You didn't answer your phone, and I knew you'd be here. I knew you'd be here, and I knew we had to go after you. And you are! You're here!”
“Sam, I-...” the blonde started, but he interrupted her again. His elated expression disappeared only to be replaced by a sorrowful, kicked-puppy one. It was sweet and endearing and she loved him to death for it, but his prattling on and on really just made her want him to shhhhh.
“I'm so sorry for what I said. I didn't mean any of it. And you know I would never do or say anything to hurt you. Things between Dean and I have been strained over all of that stuff with Dad, and when I was possessed, I took it out on you. I didn't mean it. I didn't want you to go. I love having you with us and I-...” The words were pouring out of his mouth so fast that she was sure he'd pass out soon if he didn't slow down.
“Sam!” Buffy finally managed to blurt out, shocking him into silence. “Breathe! Seriously!” His big, brown eyes stared down at her, and she sighed, shaking her head. “Look, I know that part of you meant what you said.” His mouth opened, but she raised a hand, effectively quieting his impending denial. He still looked like he wanted to argue but wisely stayed quiet. “No, you did. And I understand why. It's been you and Dean for so long, and all of a sudden, here I am, 24/7, all up in your personal bubble. I get it. No biggie.” When she was sure he wasn't going to say anything, she let her arm drop back to her side. “But you didn't hurt me. I didn't leave because of what you said.” Sam gave her a look. “Alright, that's a lie. Of course I did. What I meant was that I didn't leave because I was hurt. Or angry. Or whatever. I left because what you said was true. I do have a family and friends here. It was selfish of me to leave them. To go on with my life without checking on them.”
The next few seconds of silence stretched on for what seemed like hours. Sam didn't say anything. She knew that he agreed with what she was saying, but he was too much of a gentleman to say anything about it.
“But you and I? We're good. Peachy with a side of keen. Promise.” She could tell that he was hesitant to believe her after her lies in the diner, but after a second, he smiled at her and nodded. Before she knew what was happening, he had reached down and enveloped her in his mile-long arms, a hug that she easily returned.
“What are you going to do?” She sighed, pulling back and tucking a stray strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “Are you going to stay?”
“I haven't quite figured that out yet.” Buffy gestured toward The Magic Box, and his eyes flitted toward it before snapping back to hers. “I have... some things to tell the gang. Did you want to... I mean it might help...”
“Yeah. Of course.” The Slayer hesitated before glancing at the black Impala a few feet away. She had felt Dean's gaze on them the whole time, but as soon as she turned his way, his head snapped to the side as he feigned interest in a tree across the street.
“Wait here for a second?” At Sam's nod, she cautiously walked toward the car, watching through the front window how Dean was pretending not to see her approaching figure. When she reached the driver's side door, a good five seconds passed before he sighed and rolled down the window. “Hey.” Buffy inwardly winced at the casual greeting. So lame.
“Hey,” came his curt response. He still wasn't looking at her.
“Dean... I'm so-...”
“It's all good.” His eyes finally met hers, and she was shocked at the lack of warmth reflected in him. Gone was the adoration and amusement, replaced instead by bitterness and barely-concealed pain. She shouldn't have been surprised; she had expected it. He was hurt and rightfully so.
“But, Dean, I-”
“I said, it's all good,” he cut her off again and turned away, gathering up some supplies before yanking the keys from the ignition and shoving open the door. Buffy jumped back slightly, her Slayer reflexes the only thing keeping her from being hit by the hard black metal. With her effectively out of the way, Dean exited the car, slamming the door shut behind her.
“Looks like there's some sort of party going on.,” he observed, looking toward the Magic Box. “We wouldn't want to miss that.” His voice was emotionless and clipped, an unwelcome change from his normally playfully sarcastic tone. Without another glance at her, he sauntered toward the shop, his gun now tucked into the back of his jeans and his car keys slipped safely into his front pocket. A frown on her face, the blonde followed after him, feeling Sam easily fall into stride with her as she passed him.
“He'll come around,” came his helpful observation, and she nodded, though she wasn't sure he would. And he had every right not to.
“Yeah, sure.” As they drew closer to the shop, Buffy's Slayer hearing kicked in, filling her ears with a medley of voices that she had been so sure she would never hear again.
“Seriously, G-man. What's going on? Why's Deadboy here?”
“Xander! Be nice!”
“What? He never comes. Something's gotta be wrong. Apocalypse-wrong. Did you go evil again and find another statue to suck us all into Hell?”
“Seriously, Giles. What's the what? Why are you being all avoidy?”
“Yes, what's going on? All of this standing around and doing nothing is cutting into my orgasm time.”
Dean came to a dead stop in front of the door, forcing Buffy to call on all of her Slayer reflexes in order to keep from walking right into him. Sam had no such luck. The older Winchester shot him a glare before stepping to the side and giving Buffy a clear shot of the door. As her heartbeat pounded in her chest, she took a step forward and placed her hand on the slightly-weathered doorknob.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
Hope you liked it! Again, I will try to get the next chapter out as soon as I can. Hopefully it won't be another year...
Reviews are always appreciated!