Written again by Razial and Hawklan
Note: This chapter isn't beta read again, so if we and Word missed a few things point them out nicely and we'll fix them. Also if you enjoy working as a beta we wouldn't mind some help.
(Summer's Residence, a few days later)
Buffy sat on her bed thinking about her final decision concerning Angel. It had taken her three more days to finally sort out her feelings, three long hard days of avoiding Angel whenever possible. He kept trying to corner her on patrols so she had asked Giles and Xander to always go with her and keep him away until she was ready. Giles was very relieved to see his Slayer finally begin to see the error of dating a cursed vampire, but of course Angel wasn't making things easy. His constant attempts to get Buffy on her own had annoyed her. So much that her temper was close to the surface and easy snapped. Willow had stayed away from the group even for patrols. Oz stated she needed to work through some things. Jenny Calendar had stepped up to fill the empty space, considering her own abilities with magic her presence was a welcome one.
As she looked out the window she wondered how Angel would take her breaking up with him. She had to admit, at least to herself, that she feared his reaction. She might have made out that she didn't know anything about his past and those bits she did she ignored, but she had done some deep research into Angels past as Angelus, a past that included his involvement in the group known as the Scourge of Europe. The kill rate of the group was beyond nearly any other she had ever heard about. His slaughter of the Gypsy camp that led to his ensoulment was even bloodier. It seemed there was nothing he wouldn't do. This worried her as he had refused to say anything about any of this to her. Either he didn't trust her fully or he wanted to forget his past as much as possible.
She worried how his response would affect the group as a whole. Would he become a threat to them? Would he just accept her choice and move on or would he attempt to fight for her and get her to change her mind? She just did not know. She also worried what Willow would do, once the redhead learned that she had finally realized she had feelings for Xander. She just didn't know how that was going to go. Her redheaded friend had been absent from the group for three days and all Oz would say was that she needed to work out some things. It might have been her imagination, but she sensed some tension between Oz and Xander since the big blow out with Willow. It made her wonder what exactly the redhead had said to him. It seemed the next couple of days were going to be even worse. She let out a sigh as she took note that night was finally beginning to fall.
"Are you going out tonight Buffy?" Joyce inquired from behind her, startling her somewhat.
"Yeah, I'm meeting up with Xander at the Bronze, but before that I'm going to breakup with my boyfriend," Buffy admitted with a small smile. "Your advice helped me make up my mind," she added.
"As long as it is what you want and by your own choice Buffy then I am sure it is the right thing to do," Joyce responded with her own smile, pleased to see her daughter seemed in a better mood than she'd seen to be in the last day or so. "Have you made up your mind whether you like Xander more than a friend?" she inquired.
"Yeah I do like him more than a friend," Buffy said, not surprised to see her mother asking that particular question after her confession to her three days ago. "But I'm not rushing into anything yet. First I have to break up with my boyfriend and deal with the backlash of that and then I have to confront Willow and hopefully get her to see she needs to back off and let me see if there is anything there between me and Xander," she explained.
"Wise choice," Joyce shot back, pleased to see her daughter had clearly thought this through. "But do you really believe Willow will be so troublesome?" she inquired, not liking the idea of the two being on the outs with each other over any boy, not even Xander.
"Sadly yes I do," Buffy said after releasing a sigh. "We had a blow out a couple of days ago between me, her and Xander. Since then she's stayed away from the group," she explained. "Oz also seems to be involved, as he seems to be very annoyed with Xander for reasons I don't understand yet," she continued as she ran a frustrated hand through her hair. "But I can take a guess, the whole thing is a powder keg waiting to explode," she stated, shaking her head as she thought about what would set it off.
"I'm sorry to hear that Buffy," Joyce said after thinking over everything she had been told. "I hope you manage to work it all out in time, please don't stay out too late, as I need to turn in early. I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow," she told her.
"Oh what is going on at the gallery?" Buffy asked, surprised to see her mother looking very eager and if she was not mistaken excited about something.
"The new wing opens tomorrow and it is far more than just an art gallery now. The new wing contains an entire room full of antiques," Joyce answered with a wide smile. "We have some very important people in the art and antique business coming to see it. I can't wait and hopefully, if it goes well, I may be at the gallery a lot more, and it will get a lot more business," she added.
"That's great mom," Buffy responded pleased for her mother. "I'll make sure that I'm back by ten," she assured her.
"Thank you and good night Buffy," Joyce said in response before she headed for her own room.
Buffy watched her mother leave before she began to get ready for the night ahead. She hoped Angel would accept her choice and not attempt to change her mind. It was past time she took a long hard look at her life and now she was making some changes and this was a major one that needed to be done. Just because she was a Slayer didn't mean she had to wallow in the dark. She needed a partner that while walking her path could show her the better side of life during the day and she was beginning to believe Xander could do that. With a smile she finished getting ready and headed out. Whatever came next she was certain she could deal with it.
Xander listened as Giles explained some of the theory behind the more advanced spells he had in his head. Dumbledore may have not been the greatest wizard in the world no matter what he liked people to think, but the man had known a lot of spells. He had a long list of things he wanted to try out, but he had taken Giles's warning not to rush things. Jenny Calendar sat next to the watcher listening and even adding in a few things here and there, this again raised Xander's sudden feeling she knew a hell of a lot more than she had told them.
They were disturbed as Angel stalked into the library looking annoyed, but then Xander supposed considering Buffy's wary stance around him lately that should not be a surprise. He had to admit, while he was pleased to see a sudden thawing between Buffy and Angel, he was shocked to see her pulling away from the souled vampire. He had been certain she would stick with him no matter what, but something had made her change her mind. He just couldn't put his finger on what. Not even having the memories of a man who was an expert at manipulating people, as well as seeing such manipulations like Dumbledore had done in his life helped him here.
"Where's Buffy?" Angel all but demanded to know. He really needed to find out why she was acting so odd around him lately. He needed to talk to her somewhere away from the others, especially Xander. He didn't like the sudden renewed closeness he saw between him and the blond Slayer.
"She is not here yet and I would thank you to moderate your tone when speaking to me," Giles responded with a slight glare. "At this moment in time you may be an ally, but if you give me any reason to think you are a threat I will deal with you, is that clear?" he asked in a dark tone.
"Yeah I got it Giles," Angel mumbled in response. "I'm sorry, I've just got a lot on my mind," he stated.
"Yeah like an obscene amount of hair gel," Xander couldn't help but add at that. "You know if you are not careful Deadboy, you are going to end up a human torch if you get too close to a fire," he sarcastically warned, causing Jenny to giggle and even Giles cracked a smile.
Angel growled at the boy who continued to take pot shots at him, another giggle made them all turn and take note Buffy had arrived. She had not meant to laugh, but she'd caught what Xander had said and found it amusing. She quickly regained control as laughing at Angel would not help matters.
"Are we ready to go?" she inquired, hoping Angel wouldn't start anything just yet.
"I believe so," Giles responded as he grabbed a bag he had prepared for the patrol ahead of time. "I've packed some stakes, a few bottles of holy water and a sword and crossbow," he informed her. "I thought we might test your skills with different weapons for a change," he added as an afterthought.
"No problem," Buffy agreed with a nod of her head. "Sounds like a plan," she added.
"You sound eager to start," Jenny noted aloud as she got up and prepared to leave.
"I guess I am," Buffy responded. "Patrol is a great way to get rid of stress," she stated with a smile. "Considering you have to teach so many crazy kids I am sure you understand what I mean by stress," she pointed out.
"Oh I know what you mean Buffy and believe me, teaching is much harder than you or any of your fellow students realize," Jenny shot back. "I guess dusting vampires can be therapeutic," she agreed much to Angel's annoyance.
"Don't you think we should wait for Willow and Oz?" Angel inquired as Cordelia walked in. She had attended patrols without fail for the three days while Willow and Oz had been missing.
"They are not coming," Xander replied with a sad and resigned shake of his head. "Until Willow gets her head straight I doubt we'll see much of her at all," he concluded.
"Then let's get going," Buffy decided as the others finished getting ready, before she turned and led them out.
Willow lay on her bed and was staring angrily at the wall. She had been like this for the last couple of days when she wasn't in school. She had avoided Buffy and the others as much as possible and basically quit patrols as well. She had so much on her mind and choices to make. Hard ones she was sure, but she could find no easy way to make them. By all rights she should just get over Xander already. She had Oz as a boyfriend and he was great and really wonderful. He always put her wants and desires first, but she was not ready to cut her feelings for her oldest friend off completely, not yet. She had put so much effort into trying to win his attention and she guessed she would have to try harder.
(One of the many graveyards around Sunnydale)
Xander watched as Buffy seemed to glide through the three vampires that had attacked them with ease. Every movement seemed to be out of a dance only she knew the moves to. He shook his head as he suddenly noted two more vampires storming out of the trees. He raised his wand and fired off two Incendio curses, just as Angel was about to jump into the fight. The spells hit their targets as Buffy turned to face them. Angel barely stopped himself in time to avoid being barbecued as well.
"Good reflexes Xander," Giles stated from behind him as he watched the fight. "You knew where your targets were as well as your allies before you fired your spells," he continued. "You'll need to work on that a bit to ensure you never hit a friendly target," he told him to which Xander nodded.
"What do you mean he did almost hit a friendly target," Angel spat. "Are you blind Giles?" Angel asked darkly. "He almost got me," he growled with a pointed look at Xander.
"You are a vampire Angel and have superior reflexes than a human does and thus can get out of way in time. Buffy would probably be able to avoid it as well, but I will not be putting it to the test," Giles shot back.
"He's right Angel. We are fast enough to get out of the way in time," Buffy jumped in, hoping to cut off a bigger argument that would only make what she had to tell the souled vampire all the harder. "If Xander wanted to kill you, he would have done it and nothing we could have done would have stopped him," she pointed out. "The fact he hasn't tried to barbecue you earns him some trust," she added, gaining a glare from Angel who could hardly believe she had said that.
"Come on Deadboy," Xander chimed in with a smile. "Would I really try and dust you?" he asked in his best innocent tone, which made Jenny giggle madly. Buffy almost smirked, but managed to control herself. Cordelia quickly joined Jenny in laughing at the look on Xander and Angel's faces.
Angel let out another growl before walking off and doing his best to control his urge to rip the annoying human's head off. He knew the brief satisfaction he would get from such an action would not last long and Buffy would quickly stake him no matter how she felt about him. Even if she did not, Giles, Jenny and Cordelia would ensure he ended up dust if he gave in to his urge.
"That was nicely done dweeb," Cordelia said with a smile. "Maybe next time you can amp it up a bit. Seeing his reaction to you taking the mick is very amusing," she admitted.
"It is, isn't it?" Jenny agreed with her own smile. "It makes these patrols a bit more fun," she pointed out as Buffy quickly spun and staked a vampire that was trying to sneak up on her.
"You know I've come to the conclusion these vampires must have a death wish," Buffy told them. "Trying to sneak up on me is the most ridiculous idea ever. You'd think instead of trying solo attacks or small groups they would try an attack on mass," she continued.
"Buffy please don't say things like that," Giles replied after a short sigh. "The universe has a way of trying to accommodate such things and the last thing we need is an army of vampires trying to kill you," he concluded as he removed his glasses and cleaned them before putting them back on.
"Yeah yeah Giles I know," Buffy shot back with a teasing smile. "Anyway I'm going to have to cut this patrol short as my mom wants me back early, but before I go I need to talk to Angel in private, so I'll see you guys tomorrow," she informed them, her smile instantly melted away.
"Very well Buffy, I think we can call it a night," Giles agreed before he turned and started to head home with the others right behind him, bar Xander who paused and looked back at Buffy.
Buffy met his stare and noted the slight worry in his eyes as they slid to glance at where Angel stood behind her. She wanted to say something to reassure him, but found she couldn't think of anything. Instead all she could do was to give him a small smile before she turned to face Angel. Xander let out a sigh as his shoulder slumped before he ran to catch up to the others. Angel couldn't help, but to smirk as he heard Buffy wanted to talk to him alone, which would be the first time in at least four days. He hoped to get some answers as to why she had been avoiding him. However when he noted the serious look in her eyes the smirk vanished and he began to suspect he wasn't going to like what he was going to be told.
"Buffy," he started to say, but she quickly stopped him with a raised hand.
"Please Angel, let me go first," Buffy told him. "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my life and where I want it to go," she admitted. "I've come to the conclusion I don't want my role as the Slayer to take over my life. I need someone by my side who can remind me of the better things in life," she continued and now he had an idea where this was heading. "I need someone who can go out in the sun with me. On dates at anytime I want to go on one and not only at night," she pressed on, almost chickening out but she forced herself to go on. "I believe it is best if we break up Angel. You've been a good boyfriend, but at the end of the day when I look at my life I realized you are the fantasy most girls my age fall for," she stated and noted the angry look that suddenly ignited in his eyes at her words. "I'm sorry. I know this must hurt, but it is what I need," she told him. "We are through," she concluded before she turned and ran off.
Angel could only stare at the space where she used to be as his anger at her words continued to grow. The most annoying thing she'd said was that he was nothing but a fantasy. ‘Did she think he was just going to accept this?' he thought bitterly. No he would change her mind and reclaim what was his. He spun around and stalked out of the graveyard beating a vampire to pulp as it jumped him.
Harry Potter looked down from the tree branch he was sitting on as Dudley and his gang passed. They were clearly looking for him to bully again. ‘Have they nothing better to do?' he thought annoyed, as he watched them pass. Finally he relaxed as they went out of view. He let his head drop against the tree and wondered what he would have to put up with next. His entire life had never been easy, but lately the pressure of what he had to deal with was beginning to get to him. It seemed he was destined to be thrown again and again against things no one in their right mind would want to fight and he was tired of it all. ‘Why me?' he asked himself. ‘What did I do to deserve this life?' he added silently and watched as Dudley and his gang disappeared around the next corner.
He sighed and then climbed down. There was still time for him to get to the ‘date' he had with Hermione. He still was surprised about the phone call he had gotten from her this morning. She had demanded to know why the hell he wasn't answering the letters she had sent him in the last three weeks. He had been surprised at this and was quiet for a moment, but then told her he hadn't gotten any mail since he was back with his Aunt and Uncle.
They had talked a bit more, but then he had seen his Aunt coming through the garden door. They quickly said their goodbyes and agreed to meet in a few hours to talk more about this and maybe to find out what was happening and now after the small detour because of Dudley he hurried to the meeting with his friend.
(Sunnydale, near the graveyard)
Xander quickly caught up to Giles and Jenny. "I'm heading home. I'll see you in the morning for a bit more training?"
As Giles nodded he quickly said, "Good night," and after he was out of their sight he disillusioned himself and apparated not far away from where Buffy and Angel should still be.
He listened to what Buffy told Angel and he had to smile at seeing Angel's face as Buffy finished and then let Angel stand there in his misery.
He enjoyed the anger he could read on the vampires face and then, as he saw the determination cross over Angel's face, he decided to follow him and make sure he didn't do anything stupid.
(Sunnydale, Summer's Residence)
Buffy sighed in relief as she reached her home. She was surprised about herself. She really had done it and had broken up with Angel, now she ‘only' needed to talk with Willow and then see if she still had a chance with Xander. She really hoped that, but after all that had happened she wasn't too sure about that.
She looked at her watch and noted that she was right on time as her watch just showed 10. She opened the door and went into the house. In the kitchen she found her mother who seemed to have waited for her. She had to smile as she saw the hot chocolate and small snack her mother had prepared for her. "Mum, you are the best," she said and gave her mother a long hug.
They talked a bit about what happened with her now ex boyfriend while Buffy ate her snack and then went to bed, because Joyce had to get up early for the event in her gallery and Buffy had promised to help her out. After all it was a Saturday and so there was no school.
(Still with the Summers)
Joyce cursed her alarm clock and unwillingly got out of her bed. She dragged herself into the shower and then went down to the kitchen where to her surprise Buffy had already prepared a breakfast for them.
Joyce smiled. "I should encourage you to breakup with boyfriends more often if I get a nice breakfast in the morning," she teased her daughter.
"Of course, mock the poor innocent young girl for wanting to help her mother," Buffy complained with a smile. "Eat up mum, we have to hurry. I can't wait to see Uncle Henry again."
Joyce smiled and then enjoyed the breakfast her daughter had made for her.