By April Flager <acflager@UDel.Edu>
Submitted February 2000
Summary: A crossover with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Buffy leaves Sunnydale, only to end up in the city of Metropolis, where she befriends the reporting team of Lois Lane and Clark Kent. And just when all she wants to do is forget what she left behind, she finds herself faced with a rash of mysterious murders, and a guy in blue tights…
DISCLAIMER: No one is mine! If they were, they never would have gone through half the angst that Joss has made them go through! And if Lois and Clark were mine, the show wouldn't have been canceled!
SUMMARY: Buffy leaves Sunnydale, only to end up in the city of Metropolis, where she befriends the reporting team of Lois Lane and Clark Kent. And just when all she wants to do is forget what she left behind, she finds herself faced with a rash of mysterious murders, and a guy in blue tights…
SPOILERS: Up to Becoming 2 for Buffyverse. None really for Lois and Clark. All you have to know is that they ARE married. (Editor's Note: This fanfic causes a divergence from the show Buffy at the end of Becoming 2, and therefore eliminates the need for Angel (The Series) entirely.)
RATING: If you can watch either show, you can read this.
NOTE: I know, I know, its a weird kinda crossover, but it does have Buffy and Angel, with NO mention of Riley, or Kate, which is SO a good thing, right?
FEEDBACK: Yes please? I'm becoming addicted.
NOTE2: For those unfamiliar with the Buffyverse, it's pretty simple. Buffy is what is called a Vampire Slayer. She Slays vampires and the forces of evil. Unfortunately she fell in love with a vampire with a soul,(Angel), and when they made love, he lost his soul, and turned evil. She sent him to hell just as he regained it. (The basics are pretty much outlined in the story…if you have questions, I'll be happy to answer)
Metropolis, New Troy
May 30, 1998
A small figure shivered in the chill of the springtime air of night on the east coast. Her bus had just pulled out, leaving her in a strange place, away from home, where she didn't know anyone. Which was exactly how she had wanted it. Pulling her black hoodie closer to her body, she stuffed her hands deep into the pockets. Head bowed she began to walk. Maybe she'd be able to find a safe place to sleep before she collapsed.
Daily Planet News Office:
A slender woman with dark hair that was stylishly cut reached for her mug, paying no attention to it as she brought it to her lips. Sipping it, she sputtered and spit it out as the cold brew touched her lips. Wearily, she leaned back into her chair, staring at her computer screen. Lois Lane, winner of 3 Kerths, star reporter, was drawing a blank. Her investigation was going no where. The past week there had been a rash of bodies found, all with trauma to the neck area. No prints, no clues, and to top it off, some of the bodies that hadn't been claimed and buried, had disappeared from the morgue.
Sighing, she saved her work on a disk to take home, and placed it in her bag. She wasn't getting any work done here. She might as well go home, change, and get comfortable while she got nothing done. Not for the first time that day did Lois wish that her husband and partner were there, but Perry, the chief editor had sent him to cover a conference in Gotham. He'd been gone for half the week, and she missed having him home, and not just because their house was rather lonely, but he always had a different angle with which to look into the story. And he'd be gone for at least 3 more days!
Giving a slight groan, she waved to the night guard and, keys in hand, she headed to the nearby parking structure. Approaching it, she was about to go in, when across the street, she saw some trouble. A big, burly man was attempting to grab a small figure's bag, but was unsuccessful as she turned and held on. A big hand came up, knocking the girl to the ground. Lois cried out, running across the empty street, chasing the attacker away.
Kneeling beside the girl, Lois checked for major injuries. The blonde moaned and made an attempt to get up. "Don't move," Lois ordered, reaching for her cell phone. "I'll call 911."
Buffy Summers blinked, trying to see past the lights swirling in front of her. She should have handled that guy, but four days of no food or sleep, topped with a load of emotional anguish, were beginning to take their toll, even on the Slayer. "No. Don't. I'll be fine." Sitting up, she clamped a hand to her head. "Just as soon as the damn birds stop circling my head."
"You might have a concussion…" The woman placed a hand on the her shoulder, but she flinched away.
Buffy gave a humorless chuckle. "I've had worse. I'll be fine." Stubbornly, Buffy clamored to her feet. "See? All bett…" Buffy stopped and reached out as the world spun and dipped at her feet. "Ooo. Not good."
The woman was there with a steady arm around her waist and bent slightly to put Buffy's arm around her shoulder. "Come on, we're checking you into a hospital."
Buffy stiffened. "NO! No, please. No hospital."
"Well you can't stay out on the street like this. Where do you live? Somewhere close?"
"No." Her answer was nearly inaudible, even to her own ears.
"Then you're going home with me."
The Kent's Brownstone
May 31, 1999
Lois sat at her laptop, dressed in sweat shorts and an old worn jersey of Clark's. She'd helped the girl in the night before, thankful that Clark wasn't home to question her judgment in bringing home a total stranger, but at the same time wishing he was here to help her bring the girl in, because by the time they'd gotten home, the girl was drifting in and out of the dream world. She hadn't even been able to find out the girl's name before she'd fallen asleep in the guest room. She had called in earlier, telling Perry she was going to work some angles at home. As soon as she'd replaced the handset, she'd heard noises from the room, and had gone up to offer the use of the shower.
She desperately had wanted to question the girl, but her sympathies and instincts had won out. Her sympathies because the girl had looked like death warmed over, and her instincts, because she'd recognized the guarded look to her eyes.
"Mornin'," said a voice from the landing.
"Good morning. Do you feel all right?"
An offhand shrug accompanied her answer. "A slight headache."
"Hungry? I'm not much of a cooker, but I could make some eggs and toast."
The blonde came somewhat closer, her head bowed, and hands playing with a silver ring on one of her fingers. "I'm not all that hungry. Maybe some toast? And coffee if you have any left?"
"Sure. Come into the kitchen." Lois brought her own mug to the kitchen, refilling that and pouring out a fresh mug, which she placed in front of the girl, who had sat down at the table. Placing some toast into the toaster, she turned to lean against the counter, arms crossed in front of her as she studied her young guest.
She seemed to be seventeen or so, but no older than eighteen. Her blonde hair was long, pulled into a simple ponytail that still left wisps of hair hanging in her face. A beautiful silver cross that shimmered in the sun, hung prominently around her neck. Baggy jeans and a black tank top clothed her small frame that was shorter than Lois', and seemed none the worse for wear from the escapade the night before. If it hadn't been for her posture, or mannerisms, she could have been any other happy teenager. However, dark shadows haunted dull hazel eyes that stared at nothing. Everything about the way she acted screamed that this girl had been through hell. And that reality wasn't much better.
"I'm Lois Lane by the way," she said as she brought the plate with the toast to the table with some butter and honey.
"Buffy, why were you out so late last night? Trouble at home?"
"You could say that. Social Services?"
"Even better," she murmured. "Figures. I just had no place to go. I've caused too much pain."
"I'm sure its not that bad."
"You don't know my home, Ms. Lane. Its better this way. Take my word on it."
"Well, did you have a place to go when you came here?"
Buffy shook her head dejectedly. "I hopped the first bus out of town."
Lois fixed a studious gaze on the girl sitting in her kitchen. What had been so bad that this young girl had just up and left her home? Normally, she probably shouldn't have even bothered to help the girl this far. This was more Clark's style; helping out those in need. "All right. I'm going to help you here. I think I can probably get you a job at the Planet, since I'm guessing you also don't have a lot of money?" When Buffy reddened slightly, Lois continued. "And until you get enough money to cover a place to live, you can stay here. BUT, and I mean but, I'm going to expect you to help out around here. Sound good?"
Buffy's head came up, a small smile on her face; the only one Lois had a feeling she was going to see.
June 3, 1999
Clark pushed open his front door wearily, wishing for his bed and his wife. He was confronted however, by a petite blonde wearing what looked to be one of his old shirts, folded up in his favorite armchair. "Who are you?" he asked her.
"I'm Buffy. Clark, right? Nice to meet you." With that, she got up and headed upstairs, passing Lois.
"Clark! You're home!"
"Lois," said Clark, after embracing her. "Who is that girl?"
"Buffy? Oh. Um, well. Clark she has no place to go, and she'd been mugged and she's such a nice girl who seems to have gone through the wringer so I told her she could stay here till she gets it a little more together. I convinced Perry to give her a job in research, and…"
"Lois. You're babbling. This doesn't seem like you. And what about…" He made a flying motion with his hand.
"I know it doesn't seem like me, but I don't know, Clark. It's almost like I'm supposed to be helping her. Grrr! I don't know how to explain it! It's just…oh you won't understand. Just trust me?"
"You know I do. But what about the little super matter?"
"Clark, I barely see her. I only really see her when we eat and when we go into work. She slips out for walks a lot too."
Clark sighed, then nodded. A bright smile lit up Lois's face and she threw her arms around his neck. "Oh thank you, Clark!"
June 5, 1999 Daily Planet Office 1 pm.
"Hey, CK," said a young man with dark hair as he came up to Clark's desk.
"What's new, Jimmy?" Clark leaned back in his chair.
"Chief wanted me to give you these…Who is that??" Jimmy cut off as his gaze moved from the papers in his hands to the elevated area near the elevators.
Clark looked up and a small grin broke out over his face as he watched the girl in question survey the area and then move down into the reporter's pit. Almost unconsciously he realized that many of the men on the floor were also looking at her. She was in a black tank top and a pair of black pants, and her blond hair was down, framing tan face. As she approached Lois's desk, she seemed to feel his gaze and look at him, giving him a shy grin and a small wave.
"Do you and Lois know her?" asked Jimmy as she perched on the edge of Lois's desk as the two women began to talk.
"She's staying with us while she works out some family problems. Lois got her a job down in research. Her name is Buffy and she's at least five years younger than you are."
"So, she's a total babe."
Clark grinned at his friend's enthusiasm. "Jimmy, if you want I can introduce you, but I'm not promising anything."
Jimmy nodded and grinned, running his hand through his hair. "Do I look all right?"
Clark laughed and got up, moving over to his wife's desk. "Hey, Buffy, how's it going today?"
"Hey, Clark. They have me going through some majorly big books down there. Ugh. Lois and I were going to go out to lunch, were you going to come with us to?"
Clark shook his head. "I have a contact to meet, but you two go and enjoy yourselves. Oh, by the way, Buffy, this is a friend of ours, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy, this is Buffy Mckellan."
"Hi…" started Jimmy, but he trailed off as Buffy's half smile dimmed and she bowed her head.
"Uh, Lois, I'll meet you downstairs okay? I have to, um, be somewhere…it was nice to meet you, Jimmy…" With that the blonde had turned and left the room, almost running to where the elevators were.
Lois shot Clark a worried glance, and he nodded, sliding his glasses slightly down the bridge of his nose as he looked over them and focused on the just shut elevator door. He looked for only a moment, the sight he saw surprising him enough that he stopped concentrating. The young girl that had just fled their presence was leaning against the wall of the elevator as if it would support her, her entire body wracked with sobs.
June 5, 1999
Streets of Metropolis
Buffy walked the darkening streets of the new city she'd found herself days ago. It had been exactly eleven days since she had sent Angel to hell. The pain hadn't lessened any either. She still felt as if a part of her had died, and everyday, she felt a small piece of her soul and her sanity leaving her. She did miss her friends and everyone, especially Giles, and she was glad that they were all right, but there were times when she found herself wishing that she had let Acathla swallow the earth. At her saner times, she just found herself wishing that she had taken hold of Angel's outstretched hand. At least then they would have been together.
Wrapping her arms around herself she continued on her way, walking without any particular destination in mind. She'd felt bad earlier when she had just run from the copy room, but as the guy Jimmy had smiled at her, she'd felt the tears welling up and she'd had to get out of there. Lois, thankfully, hadn't said anything when the woman had joined her for lunch, but Buffy had felt the sympathetic glances the reporter had flashed at her when she thought she didn't notice. She felt bad not telling Lois and Clark more about why she left, but she was afraid that if she even tried, she'd go so deep into this depression of hers that she would never get out. She wasn't dumb, she knew the couple were worried about her…she'd been having nightmares lately, and had woken up calling out for Angel or in fitful sobs.
Suddenly a scream pierced the night air, and without even thinking, Buffy was running toward the sound.
Lois desperately scrambled backwards, only to slam straight into the dirty brick wall of the alley. Her dark eyes widened in fear as the horribly disfigured, leering faces of the muggers grew closer. Taking a deep breath, she screamed.
"That's right. Scream," snarled one. "You'll be dead before anyone comes."
"Or not. " A voice interrupted from the darkest shadows of the alley. It was a faintly familiar voice, as was the strange glint of silver shining in the filtered light coming in off the street. "I can't believe you started the party without me. I'm hurt."
To Lois's amazement, Buffy stepped from the shadows, hands on hips. Something in the way she stood seemed almost cold, predatory. Lois realized that the depressed girl that had been living in her home for the past week was gone, replaced with a person who was treating these muggers in a detached, almost business like-way; much the way Clark often dealt with theives as his alternate persona.
"Who do you think you are?"
"Okay, easy question. I'll take vampire slayers for 100, Alex," quipped Buffy.
"I'll have your head," growled the mugger with long hair pulled into a ponytail.
"Not very creative. Or likely. Do you know how many times I've heard that? Just once I'd like one of you to come up with something original." She fell into a defensive pose. And Lois squinted through the darkness to see what she held in her hands. Was that a length of wood? "I might need to dust you just for that."
One lunged for her, and just as she moved to counter it, a blue blur dove into the alley, grabbing her waist and carrying her to beside Lois. Blinking, she found herself behind a hot body in blue and red leotard.
His arms crossed against a sculpted chest. "I'd suggest leaving these ladies alone."
Ponytail sneered. "You think you're going to stop us? We'll suck you dry and have them for desert."
Buffy, along with Lois and the other vampire, watched as the costumed man and the other vampire grappled for an upper hand. The costumed guy seemed to be handling himself pretty well, so Buffy turned to the other one.
"Looks like its just us," she said as she turned, her leg going up into a vertical 180 degrees as it connected with his chin. Coming down, her right fist came up in a hook, smashing his ridged temple. She easily ducked his wild swing, placing her stake between his ribs as he left himself unprotected. She watched the other fight for a moment before yawning. Adrenaline was running through her veins now, and it felt good to not think, to just do something relatively normal. "All right, this is getting long." She gently shoved Capeboy away, and faced the vampire. "Let's play."
"Gladly. I've heard Slayer blood is the strongest. I'll enjoy finding out."
"Shut up and fight, fang boy."
They circled warily, watching each other's movements for any warning of attack. A shift in weight to his left told Buffy he'd come at her with his right. Sidestepping his movement, her knee slammed into his stomach, then her booted heel back kicked into his face.
Buffy barely even flinched as her head snapped back with the force of a hit. She matched his move, then somersaulted over him as he went low for her knees. She turned as soon as her feet touched, automatically bringing a leg into a roundhouse kick that would have made any fighter proud. The move ended with a stake to his heart.
Tucking the stake up her sleeve, she stood relaxed. "All right, Capeboy. What's the what?"
"Buffy, what were those things?" asked Lois, her eyes wide after what she'd just witnessed.
Buffy tilted her head as if saying 'you didn't know'. "Vampires. They're behind those serial killings you've been reporting. Good luck writing that by the way."
"And you are?" asked Capeboy.
"The Slayer. Aren't you a little old for tights?"
Buffy's eyebrows shot up. "Uh huh. Superman." She studied the figure. The face, the intense, worried gaze. She shook her head. "Whatever you say, Clark."
The couple exchanged worried glances. Amused, Buffy gave them a soft smile. "Don't worry. I know a little about keeping a secret identity."
Lois spoke. "Why in the world would you think Superman was Clark? I married him — Clark I mean — and this is definitely not him."
"Lois, you're rambling." Clark spoke, a hint of a smile on his serious face. "All right. You know my secret. Now you called yourself a Slayer. What is that? And those weren't really vampires. Right?"
"No, they were gang members on PCP." Buffy gave a dry laugh. "We'd better go someplace to talk."
The Kent's Brownstone
Buffy settled onto the armchair facing he sofa where Lois and Clark sat. To her amusement, he'd spun and changed from the Superman costume to jeans and a t-shirt. "So where'd you get your superpowers?" she asked, wanting to prolong her own explanation as long as possible. These two were reporters. She had a feeling they were going to want everything.
Clark leveled a gaze at her, and she knew that he realized what she was trying to do. For a second she wasn't sure he'd answer, but then he spoke. "I'm not human, Buffy. As a child, I was sent from my home planet of Krypton to Earth. For some reason, the yellow effects of the sun have an effect on my body."
"Cool. So you fly and have enough strength to give a vamp a fun for his money. Anything else?"
"Super hearing, heat and x-ray vision," replied Clark with an off hand shrug.
"X-ray vision? Xander would lov…" Buffy broke off. "So other than me and Lois, who knows about your alter ego?"
"My adopted parents," Clark answered. "Okay, Buffy, maybe you'd like to answer some of our questions now?"
"I guess." Buffy pushed her hair out of her face. "Shoot."
"Were those really vampires?"
Buffy nodded. "Uh huh. The bloodsucking undead. Nasty habit of killing others. Gross teeth. Like the idea of bringing hell to earth."
"But how…vampires are just myths, legends…" Lois seemed lost.
"Well, it goes like this. Earth didn't start off as paradise like so many people want to believe. Demons ruled the planet until way was made for humans and they were sent back to hell. Certain evils still remain."
"Like vampires?" asked Clark.
"Among others. Pretty much everything that you've told yourself didn't exist. It all does. At least that's what my Watcher told me."
"Who?" asked Lois.
"My Watcher. He's the person with the knowledge that helps and trains me."
"And you're the Slayer." Both he and Lois looked as if they were trying to process all the information.
"Which is what exactly?" asked Lois.
"The one girl…" Buffy broke off looking suddenly uncomfortable. "Um one thing. I don't exactly mind answering, but I need to know you won't repeat what I say."
"Buffy, we're reporters, this is our job."
"Yeah I know. But this stuff is 100% real in your face danger. Why haven't you tattled on Clark? Other than that you're married to him?"
"That's different. Clark has an identity to protect. People are always after Superman."
"And how do you think I'm viewed?"
"We won't say anything, Buffy," interrupted Clark, his voice quiet and serious, his gaze steady. "Now what is a Slayer?"
"Well, in every generation there is one girl in all the world with the strength and skill to fight vampires, demons and the forces of darkness. The Chosen One. The Vampire Slayer."
"And you're her," said Lois. "How do you know for sure?"
"Other than the fact that I've fought those things for almost two years, and I'm still here? I don't know how the people— the Watchers—know, they just do. Plus I have these wiggy sensations for evil. That and the fact that every vampire tries to make a name for themselves by killing me. My life is so fun."
"And there's only one of these girls for the entire world?"
"Well, there's only supposed to be one. Technically, now there's two." At their silence she continued. "I've never been too big on playing by the book, and this prophecy came telling my death. Well, I drowned, but I came back. In the minute that I was gone, the next Slayer was called." Buffy shrugged, realizing somewhat sadly that Kendra's death had probably activated another girl.
"So why are you here? Why aren't you with the that Watcher you mentioned, Xander was it?" queried Lois. "Were those stories of family problems just stories?"
Buffy caught them off guard with a fit of giggles. They subsided quickly though, and her laughing eyes filled with tears.
"Hey, you don't have to say if you don't want to," said Clark at her side with a box of tissues in seconds.
Buffy shook her head and her eyes changed again, to a steely resolve reflected with pain. "No, no. Its all right. I've got to tell someone before I go absolutely wonky." She took a deep breath. "Xander's just a friend of mine. One of my best buds. My watcher is the librarian. Giles. He's cool for a stuffy Brit. If it wasn't for him, and the all the rest of them, I'd be dead right now. And all I did was hurt them. Willow, Giles, Kendra, my mom, Jenny, Angel…I had to leave. Too much pain, too many memories. So I hopped a bus."
"What happened?" asked Lois, steadily, almost afraid of all the pain reflected in her eyes. Had she lost them all?
"Lois," warned Clark.
"No, its okay." Buffy stared down at the coffee table, without really seeing it. It looked as if she was suddenly very far away. She was silent for a long while. The Kents thought she'd fallen asleep when she finally spoke.
"I'd figured on having a normal life when I moved with Mom after the divorce. Slaying had gotten me kicked out of school; I'd lost friends, and not just to death. I wanted to get back on track at my new school. Cheerleading again, maybe. Was I off. The powers that be weren't ready for my retirement just yet. I went to get my books for my classes, and Giles gave me a vampire book." She wasn't really talking to them anymore, she was just thinking out loud. "Then the damn body was found in the locker room. Two holes, no blood. I confronted Giles about it, telling him I'd quit the business and that he should fight the vampires. Wasn't going to happen; cuz the town wasn't your normal little quiet suburb. The Spanish settlers called the town the Boca del Inferno."
"The Mouth of Hell," translated Clark.
"Yup. The town had been built over a hellmouth, meaning any nasty creature of darkness was drawn to it like Disneyland. I was fine with my decision until a couple of people I'd met got into trouble. Willow, Xander and Jesse. That night was the first time I failed them, when Jesse died. It was also the first time I met Angel."
Her fingers unconsciously twisted a ring on her left ring finger, as she described her first meeting with Angel, and that first challenge she'd faced in her new home. She told them everything…finding out what Angel was, dying, Angel turning…everything that happened over the last 2 years. Giles, Willow, Xander, even Cordelia and Oz. Her tale spun out, her quick insights building up the whole gang. The whole while, her voice remained soft and detached.
"I finally told my mom that night. She didn't freak. She didn't know enough TO freak. All she knew was that a girl had died, another was in the hospital and that I was the suspect. She wanted me to explain, but I couldn't, I didn't have time. I know she didn't really mean it when she kicked me out. But it still hurt. At the time, I didn't care. I HAD to go. The world needed saving again, and I was its only hero now.
"I went to get the sword Kendra had brought, and Snyder found me. Expelled me for the second time. I was past caring at that point. I had a job to do, and that's all I could focus on." Tears had begun to stream down her cheeks, yet she continued, unseeing as her tale was retold. "I knew one of us was going to die that morning. Xander surprised me by showing up. Good thing too. I didn't want to have to worry about getting Giles out of there; I just wanted to focus on Angelus. So he got Giles out as I faced the demon that wore my boyfriend's face. He opened the portal before I could stop him."
The tears were falling harder now, and she'd wrapped her arms around her knees as they came to her chin, but her voice never wavered. "We fought for what seemed forever, though it wasn't more than five or ten minutes. I finally got the upperhand though, and was about to end it, when it happened. I could feel the change in the air, see it in his eyes. Angel was back. He didn't remember anything." Buffy's eyes closed as she remembered, recreating how his embrace had felt after so long with words. "It had been so long, and so hard for me to fight the demon who wore Angel's face. Angel was my strength, my joy. The one freaky thing in my freaky world that made sense to me. Being in his arms, it was like a homecoming. I was complete whenever he was near.
"He wasn't even worried about why I was standing over him with a sword. He was more concerned about a cut on my arm his body had inflicted minutes ago. As he held me, the portal suddenly appeared and grew. For a split second, I considered forgetting about the world, and just letting it grow. Yet I couldn't do it, no matter how much I wanted to. I think he felt me tense, and I told him to close his eyes. He trusted me enough to do that. I told him I loved him. Then I kissed him and killed him. My name was the last word off his lips before the portal swallowed him. The confusion, grief an betrayal in his eyes…it hurt. I decided then that I had to leave. I'd just sacrificed the one thing in my world that meant more to me than anything to save the world. I wouldn't be able to stay around there and survive without going crazy. So I snuck home and got some stuff. I left a note for my mom and told her to go to Giles. Then I left."
No one spoke. Clark was somber, and angry at a world that could do all that to such a young girl. She'd been through more than he'd thought when Lois had introduced them, or when they'd started the questions earlier. But it explained a lot. The haunted look in her eyes, the weariness, the increased wariness. She'd seen and done so much in less than three years, more than many people faced in a life time. He felt cheated for her. She should be at her house, dating, talking with friends. Worried about school. Not whether or not she'd face a demon one night and be killed.
He looked down at Lois. Her cheeks were tear-stained. She, who tried hard to never cry, the stubborn reporter. Calmly, he placed an arm around her shoulder and gently rubbed it. Bleary eyes looked up at him in a smile. If he had ever lost her…they'd come so close to it, but they always came back. He placed a gentle kiss on her lips before moving over to Buffy. The teenager still hadn't moved, and her thin body was shaking. Her perched on the arm rest beside her, and put an arm around her shoulders. He was only mildly surprised as she turned into his arm, holding on for dear life as she cried even harder.
They must have sat like that for at least half an hour before Buffy's sobs quieted and her breathing stilled to an even pace. Faintly, the heavy weight of her body clued Clark in that she had fallen asleep, and he looked to Lois, who had been quiet the entire time. "I think she's alseep."
"I don't blame her. Clark, she's only seventeen. How has she been able to handle all…that?" asked Lois as she followed her husband up the stairs as he carried Buffy to the guest room.
"She might only be seventeen, Lois, but I think she's a lot older than that, mentally. To go through all that, and not lose your childhood…its amazing she's still able to go out and enjoy herself."
June 6, 1999
Buffy moved slowly down the stairs, the shower she'd just taken not having a very waking effect. She'd woken up tired and exhausted from having cried herself to sleep. At the same time though, she felt somewhat better now that at least some one knew what she had gone through that morning.
Clark was sitting at the table in the kitchen when she walked in, sipping a mug of coffee, and reading the paper spread out in front of him. He looked up and smiled at her. "How are you feeling?"
Buffy shrugged as she got a mug and sat down, reaching for the coffee
pot set on the table. "I'm still exhausted. I'm used to it though." She took a sip and scowled at the mug.
"Uh huh." Buffy watched, amused, as Clark slid his glasses down his nose and focused on the mug, two rays of red aiming at the coffee. The cup warmed in her hands, and she grinned. "That must come in handy."
Clark grinned and shrugged.
"Thanks by the way. Not for the coffee, but for you guys listening to me last night. I think I needed to tell someone, anyone, before I exploded."
"Then I'm glad you trusted us enough to confide in us."
"Hey, didn't have much of a choice. You let me in on your secret. I figured I'd let you in on mine."
"Can I tell you something?" When Buffy nodded, he continued. "I have to admire you for everything you've done. You must have been raised well to have those morals."
"It wasn't my family, Clark. My home life basically sucked. My mom isn't a very perceptive woman, it took her almost three years to find out what I was doing every night. Its either deeply ingrained in me, or it's Giles. And Angel. But I'm the Slayer, Clark. It's not a choice, it's a destiny. You can escape being Superman. I'm always going to be the Slayer."
"For what its worth, you're a good one."
"You two ready?" Lois rushed into the kitchen, her suit jacket half on, half off, the top button of her blouse undone.
Clark grinned and got up, shaking his head. "Come on, ladies, time for work."
Daily Planet Office
"Buffy, maybe you should contact someone from home. I'm sure they're worried. Your mom and Giles especially."
"They know I survived."
"Buffy, they don't know if you're okay though. That you're safe."
"I know, it's just, I think it's better if they don't know where I am."
"Look, if that's all thats stopping you, Jimmy knows a lot about computers. Have him send a message to that Willow friend of yours to let her know. He could probably do it without having her trace it."
"You don't know Willow. But all right."
Jimmy Olsen, apparently red-faced, got up from his desk where he had been quietly watching the blonde girl that was staying with his best friends. "Yea, Lois?"
"You remember Buffy, right?"
Jimmy blushed and nodded. "Uh, yeah. Hi, Buffy."
"Heya. Listen, Lois says you're something of a computer genius?"
When he nodded, she continued. "Do you think you could do me a favor and help me get in touch with someone? Without them being able to find out where the messages are from?"
Sunnydale High School Library
"Oh my lord. Giles. Giles!" Willow yelled, her eyes never leaving the screen. Giles appeared in his office door, concern written across his face.
The others, Xander, Cordelia, and Oz, were camped out across the room, and all awoke at her yells. School had ended five days ago, and they congregated in the library everyday, in hopes of finding the errant Slayer. Joyce Summers had come to them the day that they'd last seen Buffy, a creased paper in her hands, and tears still apparent on her face, telling them that her daughter had left.
May 26, 1999
Sunnydale High School Library
"What the hell has been going on with my daughter for the past two years?"
The Slayerettes looked up in surprise at the intrusion. They'd all cut their classes and had assembled in the library, in hopes that Buffy would suddenly appear and their worries would be at ease. If not that, at least a call that she was safe with Angel. So when Joyce Summers entered the swinging doors, a majorly peeved expression on her face, they all stiffened.
Giles was the first to regain his speech. "Ah, Mrs. Summers. Um, what are you talking about?"
"This!" Joyce waved a piece of paper in his face. "My daughter has run away, telling me to come here, that you would be able to explain."
"E-explain what? And she ran away? Did she say why?"
"I don't know!" Joyce seemed to deflate in front of them, sinking into the wooden chair that Oz pulled out for her. "She came home late last night, saying something about being a vampire slayer. When she wouldn't explain, we began to fight, and she moved to leave. I told her to never come back if she did…"
"You did what!" Willow's outburst startled them all. "How could you! You're her mother! Do you even have any idea what she probably went through last night…If she left because of you…"
"Shh, baby, shh. It'll be okay. Come on, lets go get you some air." Oz calmly pulled his girlfriend away from the table, pushing the wheelchair out of the library.
Joyce seemed even more visibly shaken. "Mr. Giles? What has been going on with my daughter? What did she mean when she said she was a vampire slayer?
"Um, ah, well, I'll explain. But first, you said she told you to come here?"
Joyce handed the paper that she had waved at him. "In her note. I found it on her bed this morning. The outfit she had on last night was laying on the floor and a lot of her clothes were missing."
"She survived then. Thank the Lord." Giles looked to Cordelia and Xander who were being strangely quiet. "Xander, Cordelia? Could you go get Oz and Willow? Tell them that Buffy is alive."
Joyce turned to look at Xander, surprise on her face as she saw his arm. She turned back to Giles, suddenly seeing the beaten look on his face and the splints that his fingers were in. She then remembered that Willow had been in the hospital the night before and that she'd been in a wheelchair. Looking around the library, she saw the remains of what looked like a crime scene. "What happened to you? And Willow and Xander? And why wouldn't she have survived? What is going on with my daughter, Mr. Giles?"
"Ah, um, Mrs. Summers, you're daughter is in fact a Vampire Slayer. She wasn't lying when she told you this. It is nothing that she can change, or ignore," he said softly as he sat beside her, turning to face her. "In every generation there is a chosen one, the one with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, demons and forces of darkness…"
Joyce sent him an incredulous look. "You're surely not serious Mr. Giles."
"I'm afraid I am. This is a very serious matter. If Buffy hasn't told you before, it was in an effort to protect you. We have had some rough times these past few months, all starting back with Buffy's birthday." The teenagers reentered the room at that point, and Giles broke off. "Willow, get on the computer and look up flight records and such. Xander, Cordelia? Can you go check out the bus station. See if Buffy is there."
Joyce watched as her daughters friends nodded mutely, moving around the library with a practiced efficiency. All seemed to be taking this seriously. What had she stumbled into?
"Willow? What is it?" Oz moved to his girlfriend's side, peering at the computer screen.
"Buffy, its Buffy!" Her exclamation brought the gang rushing to behind her, all looking at the message that had popped up on the screen. Instantly Willow began a trace, even as she began to respond.
<Buffy!? Where are you? Are you all right?>
<I'm doing all right. I'm not good, but that can't be helped. I guess my mom came by…>
<She was here. Why Buffy? Why did you just leave, without saying goodbye. I'm sure it couldn't have been that bad.>
<I doubt that. You're spell worked Willow…it must have gotten delayed or something…Angel came back.?
<Is he there? Are you with him?>
There was a long pause and Willow thought that she had disconnected.
<I sent him to hell Willow. There wasn't any choice. Acathla was opening, and he was the only one to close it…>
<No. I just wanted to tell ya that I was safe. Thats it. I love you guys.>
With that, they got no more answer.
"Were you able to find out where she was?" asked Xander worriedly.
"Its still trying to figure out the path. Someone messed up the lines to try and stop a trace. Hopefully I'm better than them."
"Hope so, kid." An accented voice cut into the group, making all heads swivel toward the stacks, where a badly dressed man with a felt hat rounded the shelves and stood at the banister, looking down on them.
"Who are you? And why are you here?" asked Giles, who had gone wary at the sight of the man.
"Names Whistler. As to why I'm here, the kids got it rough." The man came down the stairs, watching the group. "It wasn't supposed to be like this, but no one exactly foresaw the gypsy clause. They always were pains. Eh, what's done is done, and I'm here to fix it."
"Do you know where Buffy is?" asked Xander.
"That's not for me to tell. You'll figure it out. If you don't, well, the balance isn't exactly going to be even."
"So why are you here? To tell us what we already know? That we need to get Buffy back? Well, duh." Cordelia scoffed at the man, almost cringing at his horrible outfit.
"Princess, do us all a favor and shut up." Whistler fixed the group with a look. "You know now that Buffy was forced to send Angel to hell. Only thing is, the computer witch fixed him with a soul, so he can't spend too long down there. You're going to need to find a way to get him out."
"Why should we save him? All he did was …" Xander cut off as Whistler approached him. Even though the man was a few good inches shorter, there was something about him that Xander really did not want to be messing with.
"I wouldn't be talking like that if I were you. You were the one who neglected to tell the kid that your friend was performing the spell. That was our attempt to try and fix things, but no, you had to go screw everything up and make my work load even heavier. Like I don't have enough to do trying to balance the world of good and evil.
"Let me tell you this, if my boy isn't brought back, the kid isn't going to make it. Ever. And I'm not talking one life here. She'll die and move on, and he'll be stuck down there for eternity." Whistler looked at Giles. "I suggest you put aside whatever differences you have and help if you want your Slayer back."
And with that, he was gone, leaving the Scooby gang with their mouths open. Willow was the first to break the silence, nearly lunging for Xander before Oz and Cordelia held her back. "What did he mean, you never told her? You promised Xander. This is all your fault! All your fault!"
"Wills, I'm sorry, its just, I thought if she knew then she might make a mistake."
"That wasn't your decision, Xander. Buffy would have handled the news." Cordelia looked at her boyfriend with contempt in her eyes.
"Cordelia is right. What you did was unforgivable, but we have more important things to deal with. We must find a way to get Angel back." Giles looked like he was barely holding the Ripper back. "No matter how much I want to yell at you right now for acting like the immature child I'd thought you'd grown out of, Buffy is more important. Willow, start looking for anything on getting a body out of hell. Cordelia, Oz, I should have some books with references to such a thing. Xander, stay out of my way."
The Kent Brownstone
"Guys, I'll be fine. I can take care of myself." Buffy crossed her arms across her chest as she stood in the living room. "I've been going out every night, but now that you find out I'm a Slayer, you go parental. Why weren't you worried when I was going out before and you didn't know I could take care of myself?"
"That was before we knew what was out there," said Lois. "At least let Clark go with you. He needs to patrol the city anyway."
Buffy crossed her arms, "Fine, but the only reason I'm doing this is because I need to get some of this adrenaline out of my system." She produced a length of wood, a stake, offered it to Clark. "I know this doesn't measure to your strengths, but just in case."
Streets of Metropolis
"Do you like doing what you do?" came the quiet question, startling Clark. The two of them had been walking for most of the uneventful night, without speaking.
"I like helping people. I have the ability to do so."
"Doesn't it just get tiring after awhile though? Don't you just want to be able to live your normal life without having all that responsibility?"
"It gets tiring at times, yes. But I didn't start my role until I moved here to Metropolis. I lived my life beforehand. I wasn't stripped of my childhood…This was a conscious decision on my part."
Buffy sighed. "I envy you for that. I wasn't given a choice. One day, it was like, pop quiz. The next, rain of toads. I've tried to quit you know. The time I died. It doesn't work."
"Maybe its because of who you are, Buffy. There's a part of you that won't allow you to just sit by and let other people be hurt."
"But maybe it's that part of me because of what I am."
"Maybe you're who you are because of that part of it."
"You're awfully good at that you know. Lois is lucky to have you."
"We've been through a lot together. She's my…"
"World? Even when you're away from her, you constantly think of her, to the point that its almost hurts to be away?"
"Do you believe in soulmates?"
Clark gave a smile that was hidden in the shadows of the night. "Definitely. Lois is mine."
"Angel is mine. Oh, Clark, I miss him so much, I feel like I'm dying everyday when I wake up and remember. He's even in my dreams, haunting me, blaming me…"
"I don't think he would blame you, Buffy. He'd be proud of you I think." Clark pulled the now crying girl into his arms, gently stroking her hair.
They stood like that for a long moment before a scream pierced the night, and Buffy pulled away, suddenly very composed. "Someone is so getting wailed on."
June 8, 1998
Crawford Street Mansion
"I think its working!" yelled Cordelia over the loud wind that had picked up inside the circle.
The group had been researching for two days straight until they had come upon a ritual to bring a soul back from the hell dimension. They had gone to the mansion that morning to set things up, and had begun the ritual eleven minutes ago. Willow and Giles had created a four circles of the elements around the stone demon, a pentagram drawn in the middle. The five of them stood on each of the points, Willow was the one who had worked the spell, although they each contributed their energy to help Angel escape. Xander, had been the one to contribute the blood that had been needed for the ritual to be done correctly, and even though slightly pale from the loss, had insisted on performing in the ceremony.
Joyce was pressed into the corner of the room, watching wide eyed as the five people that had shared in her daughter's secret began something that she had never comprehended. She had watched, unbelieving as Mr. Giles and Willow had drawn a circle of salt, then one of sprinkled water, another of simple air blown, and finally, one of candles—fire. They had said that the four circles were for protection, to make sure that anything that they called would not be able to leave without them wanting it to. The grotesque stone sculpture stood in the middle, bathed in the blood that Xander had given by cutting his palm, and adorned with a wreath of herbs and charms.
Then the five had taken places at each point in the circle and Willow had begun a chant, eyes closed. The remaining four had spoken different phrases at particular points, each one focused on the thing in the center of the circle. She had watched as a wind had suddenly picked up when Willow had stopped, both hands outstretched toward the demon. Half of her mind was telling her that she was dreaming, that this wasn't happening, but her awake part told her that this was real, this was true. This was the sort of thing that her daughter and her friends had dealt with for two years.
A portal of swirling colors suddenly swallowed the stone figure up. Joyce blinked, unsure of what was happening as a tall black figure stepped from the portal, glowing red eyes focused on Willow.
"Who summons me here?"
"We do. We wish for a soul to be released."
"Angelus. I know of this. Two of you have held contempt for him. Why should I release him? The master enjoys having him here. He is a monster, this is where he belongs."
"He belongs here. He has a soul. The Powers that Be still have a need for him," replied Willow.
"It wasn't Angel who did those deeds, it was the demon Angelus. They are two different beings."
"Your pledge is acknowledged. The demon will stay here. But more power is needed. The Higher Ones wish him to remain below."
"Use mine." Xander's voice was loud and clear, and for once in his life, not demeaning or sarcastic or joking. "I helped put him where he is, I should help get him out."
The demon suddenly was gone, and five bursts of light shot from the portal, each connecting with the five humans offering their power. After a few seconds, all but one disappeared as Xander's body convulsed with the power that was being drained from him. A few seconds after that, that light disappeared as well, and a nude body suddenly fell from the portal, scorching the floor black around his body as it shook and shivered.
The wind disappeared and Xander fell to the ground. With that, everyone seemed to move at once. Cordelia screamed and lunged for him, cradling his head in her lap. Willow unabashedly moved to the figure in the center of the circle, mumbling a few lines to dispel the protection circles. Oz went to the couch where a blanket was folded and brought it over to his girlfriend, who blushed as she covered the nude form.
Joyce moved to her daughter's best friend. "Is he okay?"
"The time spent in hell would have been very traumatic for him. He should be fine, as he wasn't in there very long, but he will need our help," replied Giles. "Cordelia, how is Xander?"
"I don't…he's coming around!" exclaimed the dark haired girl as her boyfriend's eyes fluttered open. "You stupid moron! Why did you do that! You could have been killed!"
"I love you too, Cordy. How's Angel, Wills?"
"He's breathing! Giles! He's breathing!"
"Buffy?" Angels words were labored and seemed painful. His eyes opened slightly, and looked at each of their faces as they looked down at him. "Where's Buffy?"
June 10, 1999
Daily Planet Office
Jimmy looked across the press room to the elevators. Seven strangers he'd never seen before in his life stood there looking around the room. Crossing over to them, he approached the oldest guy, a man dressed in a tweed suit, even though it had to be 90 degrees outside. "I'm Olson. Can I help you?"
"Um yes, quite. We're looking for a young girl, blonde hair…"
"She used your name and server," added a redheaded girl who seemed to have noticed his puzzled expression.
"Buffy? Why are you looking for her?"
"Jimmy, what's going on?" asked Lois, having heard her young friend's name.
"They're looking for Buffy." Lois's eyes went wide and she lowered her coffee cup.
"Who are you?"
The oldest woman spoke. "I'm her mother. Now where the hell is my daughter?"
"I think we'd better talk. Follow me." Lois moved to the conference room, calling for Clark as they passed his desk. Shutting the doors behind her, she turned to study the group. The woman claiming to be Buffy's mother was taller than her daughter, and thin, with shoulder length curls. The older man was tall, dressed in a tweed jacket. Wire frames perched on his nose. That had to be Giles. A tiny girl with shoulder length red hair, clung to a boy's hand whose nails were painted blue and had blueish hair. The last girl was tall, with long dark hair and standing next to a dark haired boy. The last stranger was tall and handsome, with thick, spiky dark hair. He looked about five years older than the other teens, and his face held a touch of sadness and pain. They all looked worried.
The conference door opened and Clark came in. "Lois?"
"They're looking for Buffy."
"So she is here. Where is she? Is she okay?" asked the red head.
"Shh, baby, they'll tell us."
"Or not," added the dark haired girl.
"Hold on everyone," interrupted Clark. "Buffy is fine. Now do you mind telling us who you are?"
"My name is Rupert Giles, " said Tweed Guy. "This is Buffy's mother, Joyce Summers and her friends, Willow, Oz, Cordelia and Xander."
"And Angel," added Willow, placing a hand on the guy's arm.
"I'm Clark Kent. This is my wife, Lois Lane. Its nice to meet you all, but I don't think Buffy wants to see you."
"Guilt, pain, memories. She's been having nightmares, when she sleeps anyway. We've gotten her to talk to us about some of it, but it doesn't seem that whatever we say is working."
"I take it you know of her night job," said Giles."
Clark nodded. "She rescued Lois. And she's staying at our house."
"We want to see her."
"She's working right now, I got her a job in the research department. She gets off soon, so why don't we head back to our house, and you can confront her there. It might be a little easier on her." Lois suddenly turned a look to Angel. "Aren't you supposed to be in hell?"
The man looked somewhat grim. "I was."
"We got him back," said Xander, placing a hand on the ex-vampire's shoulder.
"Weren't you…I'm not going to ask."
"Lois, Clark, I'm home," called out Buffy, tiredly entering the Kent's home. She had been out late the night before, and when she had gotten back in, sleep had not wanted to visit her.
She stood shocked as her mother embraced her, not sure if it was a dream or not. She looked around the room. Giles, Willow, Oz, Xander, even Cordelia were standing there, with Lois and Clark holding onto each other. "Mom? Guys? How did …" Buffy broke off as a figure in the back of the group caught her eye. And he was standing in the late afternoon sun that was filtering through the open window. "Angel," she said before weariness, pain, guilt and shock overrode her senses and she fainted in her mother's arms.
Buffy waded through the darkness, listening to those around her, unable to speak.
"Is she okay?" asked a girl's voice.
"She'll be fine. She fainted," said another. Willow.
"I imagine the events of the past weeks and our appearance today has taken quite a toll on her." Giles, Buffy decided.
"She was fine until she saw Deadboy, er … Angel. We should have broken it to her easy."
"Xander, she probably would have still fainted."
"Angel…" Buffy moaned, managing to finally get it out. Had it been her imagination? She missed him so much. She'd finally gotten him back and had turned around and betrayed him for the second time. Tears streamed from closed eyes. "Angel, I'm so sorry."
"Angel, I think she needs you," said a soft voice. Willow. He must have balked because Willow suddenly went off. "Damn it, Angel. I don't care if you think she's better off without you. She loves you and if I'm right, she feels guilty for the whole thing."
Buffy slowly awoke, her eyes staying closed, hoping that he really was there, as she pulled herself up and tried to disappear into the corner of the couch, softly calling for Angel. Strong arms embraced her, holding her tightly to a familiar chest. A head rested gently on her shoulder, murmuring soft words into her ear. She became more aware of him, and began to cry harder. "Angel? Oh God. How? I'm so, so, so sorry. I didn't know. I had to…"
"Buffy, shh. Its all right. Its not your fault. I understand."
Her arms came around his neck, pressing her body against his, every cell screaming to be touched after so long. "Oh Angel, if we hadn't…if I hadn't…I'm so sorry."
Angel seemed to understand instantly. "Buffy, don't. That night…I wouldn't change that night if I could. It was everything I had dreamed about since you knocked me on my back the first time we met. I only wish I could have been there for you the next morning."
Buffy pulled away, resting her forehead against his, and looked at him. She placed a wondering hand against his sunshine-lit cheek. "How?"
"The gang." His hand covered her own, and he turned to place a kiss in her palm. "Are you all right."
Buffy nodded weakly. "Give me a little time to absorb all this, and I will be." She seemed to forget anyone else was there as she spoke her next words. "I love you."
"Buffy, " he paused, then sighed deeply, his breath coming out warm on her cheek. "I love you." Slowly, softly, their lips met, clinging sweetly to each other. Both still hurting, they broke it off, and Angel pressed a kiss to her forehead as she shifted to lean on his shoulder.
Finally, their audience broke their silence. The couples had drawn closer to one another, and Giles had shifted uncomfortably, while Joyce had begun to understand that her little girl was no longer little.
"We've missed you, Buffy," said Willow. "Its been hard without you."
Buffy gave her friends a weak smile. "I'm sorry, guys. I just couldn't deal."
"You're coming home now right?" asked Cordelia. "Not that I care, but trying to take your place slaying was killing my social life."
"Of course she is," said Xander. "You are, right, Buff?"
"Buffy, I'm sorry about what I said," apologized her mother.
Buffy looked at her mom, knowing that the woman had to deal with a lot in the past couple of weeks. And for a brief moment, she and her mother were on the same level. "I know, Mom. I would like to come home. Its just, I don't know why you'd want me. I've caused so much pain. And I've been through so much, I don't know how I'm going to deal."
Giles moved to stand near the couple, and he place a hand on her shoulder. "We want you to come home, Buffy."
Willow nodded and sat beside her best friend, placing a slim hand on Buffy's. "And we'll help you deal with whatever you need to deal with. You've been cleared of all charges, and Giles made Snyder change his mind about that expulsion, so all you need to do now is decide to come home."
Buffy gave them a grim smile and looked to Angel. "Are you coming with us?"
"Nothing could stop me."
"Then I'm going home."
Buffy awoke that night sharing a bed with her mom. Laying there for a moment, she listened to the steady breaths of her mom and Cordelia and Willow, who were sharing the floor. She vaguely remembered her dream, it was one of the ones that she'd been having ever since Angel had been sent to hell, and she knew that sleep was not going to come easily to her if she just laid there. As quietly as possible, she pulled back the covers and slipped from the bed, carefully tiptoeing around her friends on the floor. Soundlessly, she made her way downstairs to where the boys had set up for the night. Xander was snoring, sprawled in one of the armchairs, and Oz was curled up on the floor, using an arm for a pillow. Angel was stretched out on the couch, his face relaxed in sleep.
"Angel?" she whispered his name quietly as she stood beside him, careful not to startle him.
Dark, bleary eyes looked up at her in concern. He made a move to get up, but she shook her head, pushing him back down as she perched on the couch beside him. The thin blanket that he was using did not do much to hide the well sculpted chest that was clothed in a tight black wife beater. "Buffy, are you all right? Why aren't you asleep?"
"I'm fine. Do you think you could make room for me? I had a nightmare, and I think I just need to be with you right now."
Angel nodded and lifted the blanket away from his chest. He felt the same way. He moved so that she could lay with her back against the back of the couch, allowing his shoulder for a pillow as he covered them both more fully with the blanket. One of her arms hesitantly came to rest on his chest as she got comfortable. Angel's arm automatically tightened his hold of her.
"You have a heartbeat," she whispered, her fingers lightly tracing his chest where the resounding thump thump was proof of his humanity.
"I know. I have your friends to thank for it. After everything that I did to them, they were able to look past everything."
"It wasn't you, Angel. That was the only way I survived. It wasn't you who did those things. It was Angelus, the demon and he's gone for good now."
"Buffy, I'm so proud of you. You went through so much and managed to survive."
"You survived," he murmured into her hair, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. "That's the important thing. And I have to tell you, I'm not completely human. Think of it as a mortal vampire. I have all of their strengths, but none of their weaknesses. I'm going to be able to fight with you still."
"Angel…that isn't important to me. It never was. Sure it was nice to have someone along who could fight just as well as I could and I didn't have to worry about it…but it isn't what made me fall in love with you. But I'm so very happy for you." She was quiet for a moment as she rested on his chest, listening to the steady sound of his heartbeat as she watched his chest rise and fall with each breath he took. "I love you."
"I love you too, my love."
Joyce Summers awoke by herself in an unfamiliar bed. Yawning, she turned over, wanting to be able to look at her daughter and reassure herself that she had really found her. But as she focused on her daughter's side of the bed, she saw that Buffy was missing. Climbing from the bed, she was careful to not wake up the two girls asleep on the floor in sleeping bags. She'd probably just gotten up to go to the bathroom, but after being gone for two weeks, Joyce wanted to make sure. She felt the panic rising in her as she found the bathroom empty. As quickly as possible, she went to Giles' room, thinking that her daughter had gone to speak with the man that had seemed to take the place of the father that Buffy seemed to need.
She tried to stay calm as that idea was fruitless and she made her way downstairs, almost falling when she halted as she spotted her daughter. Buffy was resting in Angel's arms, a blanket covering the pair as they slept peacefully. She approached the pair tentatively, half filled with the desire to rip her from his embrace. It was also the look on their faces though— Buffy's most of all—that decided against such an action. Both looked calm, and happy. More than she'd seen Angel since he'd gotten out of the portal, calling out for Buffy. And more than she'd seen Buffy in years, since she'd become the Slayer, she guessed. The man was holding her daughter possessively, and Buffy seemed content to be where she was. Joyce watched as Buffy unconsciously snuggled deeper into her lover's embrace, and Angel in return, holding on tighter to her.
"Joyce?" Angel's eyes opened sleepily as he whispered softly. "Is everything all right?"
"I'd offer to move her back upstairs if there wasn't a chance she'd wake up."
"No, let her sleep. I have a feeling she hasn't gotten much." She moved to cover them both with another blanket as Angel shifted under Buffy. "Thank you, Angel."
"For loving her. I didn't want to admit it at first, but I can tell that you love her. More than life itself. She's young, but she has this destiny that I can barely understand, even after what I've seen in the past couple days. What kind of people force this kind of life on such a young girl?"
"I don't know, Joyce, but Buffy is strong. Strongest I've seen, or known of."
"She still needs you in her life even though she might have these superpowers."
"I've just caused her pain."
"She loves you. I don't think it matters."
"But it doesn't ." Joyce bent to smooth her daughter's hair away from her face, and then moved to do the same to Angel. She knew it was ridiculous, Angel was old enough to be her great grandfather times four, but she blamed it on her motherly instincts. "All I ask is that you keep on loving her."
Angel nodded and then rested his chin on Buffy's head as he closed his eyes. She had slept through their entire conversation. "Night, Joyce."
"Good night, Angel."
"Buffy." Angel's voice called out to her, rousing her from her dream. They'd been on a beach, standing in the surf, Angel standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her. "Come on, Buffy, you'd better get up."
Slightly annoyed at whomever was daring to wake her from such a wonderful dream, she opened her eyes slowly, wanting to savor the memories of her dreams. But as her hazel eyes caught a pair of dark chocolate ones that were close to her own, all thoughts of the dream flew from her mind. "What time is it?" she asked groggily, giving a groan of protest as he shifted from underneath her cheek, moving to sit up, his back pressed against the armrest of the sofa, but a soft purr as he pulled her to nestle in beside him.
"Just after five. I didn't think you'd want everyone to wake up and find you down here with me."
Buffy's sleepy eyes turned a reproachful look at him. "You woke me because you were worried about what they would think if they found out I'd slept with you, as in sleeping, last night, when they all know we've had sex? Why are you up so early anyway?"
"I heard something upstairs."
"A whoosh-y sound? It was Clark. Something must have happened. You get used to it. Can we go back to sleep now?"
"If you want, but you should probably go back upstairs."
"What are you going to do?"
He gave a slight shrug. "Read maybe, or watch the sun come up. You can go back to sleep if you really want to."
"Uh uh. You're up, I'm up." She looked up at him, tears springing up behind her eyes as she looked at the face that she thought she'd never see again.
Angel looked down at her, his gaze relaxed, and she could almost feel his caress in his eyes. Relaxed from both sleep and happiness, Buffy closed her eyes as she nuzzled into his chest, his heart beating beneath her ear. She gave a slight gasp as one of his big hands came up, touching her cheek softly, but her eyes didn't open. Tension and anticipation began to throb through her bloodstream as she became aware of his lips drawing near to her. Then his lips were on hers, and the passion inflamed them as Buffy gave a soft sigh and Angel took the advantage by slipping his tongue into her mouth. The kiss was nothing like the one they'd shared the night before. It was full of the want and the passion of not truly touching for months.
They shifted on the couch, Buffy's arms going around his neck, pressing his head closer, as his arms gripped her waist, eventually moving her to straddle his lap. As their tongues dueled, tasting, touching, their hands wandered, getting reacquainted with each other's bodies. Finally, they broke the kiss, both needing the air, and they looked at each other, their eye's dark and clouded with passion, their breathing heavy.
"Oh god, Angel…"
"Shh…" he whispered, a hand caressing her cheek again, as his forehead leaned against hers. "I know. But I think we should talk; don't you?"
Buffy gave him a confused look, then reluctantly nodded, climbing off of him to stand up. "I hate it when you're right. All right. But lets get out of here, all right?"
"I'll go get changed."
Buffy snuck into the bedroom that the girls were using, and went to the dresser, quietly discarding her sleep shorts and top for a pair of jeans and a tank top. Grabbing her sneakers, she was balancing, attempting to pull them on without untying them, when Willow woke up.
"Buffy? What's going on? What time is it?"
"Shh. It's about quarter after five. I'm going for a walk."
"Do you want me to go with you?" Willow made to get up.
"Angel is going with me. We're going to talk. Tell my mom and Giles for me?"
"Thanks. I've missed you."
Willow's returning smile was broken by a yawn. "Missed you too."
"We'll talk later all right?"
The steps of the Brownstone.
Buffy shivered, wrapping her arms around herself as she stepped into the damp morning air, glad she'd thought to grab her hoodie. The door closed behind her, and she turned her head slightly as Angel came to stand behind her, his arms finding a place on her upper arms, gently rubbing them for warmth. Giving a small smile, Buffy leaned back to the hard plane of his chest. They stood like that, at first content to just be together again, but after an extended moment, it began to get awkward. Sighing, Buffy pulled away from him and turned. "Is it me, or is this weird?"
Angel cracked a small grin, grateful for her attempt to lighten the mood. "Buffy, I know you think that you have all the blame in this, but you don't. None of it was your fault. If the blame is going to fall to anyone, it should be me." He sighed, his gaze heavy with emotion. "I don't know how you can touch me after everything I've done to you."
Buffy's emotional response was both angry and full of sympathy. "Angel, I don't know what I'm going to have to do to convince you that it was neither your fault not you doing those things to me. It was Angelus! And he might have shared the same body as you, but it wasn't you!" Her voice levels rose as the words poured from her mouth, and she moved down the stairs, to pace on the sidewalk. "He was none of things that you are! He was an evil monster that enjoyed tormenting me! Do you realize what I went through, knowing that it wasn't you? Knowing that to end the pain of my friends and to safe the world, I was going to have to kill him? When I was still haunted of images of your eyes looking at me, your body holding me, protecting me. Your voice, reasuring me that I'm not as alone as I once thought? Hoping that if I waited long enough, you would find a way back to me?
"My heart broke the day you lost your soul Angel. But I managed to survive. I was actually doing better, but then you were back…" Buffy's voice broke. "A-and I had to kill you. My heart shattered forever in that moment Angel, and I knew without you, I wasn't going to survive a second time. I've been having these dreams, since I sent you to hell, where you blame me for everything. And I know you told me it wasn't my fault, but there's a part of me that still believes those dreams! That you hate me for what I put you through!"
By this time the tears were falling freely, and Angel descended the last step to stand in front of her on the sidewalk, reaching out to wipe away the tears with one hand, and drawing her to him with the another. Her arms wrapped around his waist as he gently smoothed her golden hair, waiting until her breathing was calmer and her tears had turned to sniffles. When they had, he pulled away only enough to tilt her face up to look at him. "I could never hate you, my love." Angel paused, as if considering his next words, which were insightful and showed the wisdom of his years. "I think that if we continue to just keep blaming ourselves, trying to take the blame for things we had no control over, we're never going to heal."
"So what now?" asked Buffy, raising a hand to hastily wipe at her cheeks in a gesture that made her seem almost like a child.
"Now," replied Angel, taking her hand and moving to sit on one of the steps, giving her hand a tug to position her on the step below, between his legs, wrapping his arms around her midsection and resting her against his chest, "I want to learn what its like to be a full part of your life, not just your one at night. I want to go on dates with you, take you to picnics, to the beach. But right now, I want to watch the sun rise with you."
Down the street from the Brownstone.
Clark Kent turned the corner onto his street, minutes after the sun had risen bright and pink into the grey morning sky, changing the inky sky into a myriad of purples and pinks, then finally a hint of blue as the sun rose more fully over the buildings in the city. He paused as he spotted two figures sitting on the door stoop, both seemingly caught up in watching the sky.
Unconsciously, he stopped, studying them. He'd studied the both of them enough by themselves; the simple fact that she was a vampire slayer and that he was an ex vampire fresh from hell, was enough to make anyone want to study them, but this was the first time he'd really had a chance to focus on them simply being together. They were quite a pair, their contrasting looks complimenting them. Buffy was slight and blonde, and he knew that she wasn't usually as dour as she'd been since he'd met her.. Angel was her exact opposite, tall, broad and dark, with a serious aura to him.
Shifting slightly, he realized that both of their attention had been drawn from the sky to where he was standing. Feeling a twinge of guilt, he continued down the street, stopping at the bottom of the steps leading to the front door. "How'd you know I was standing back there?" He'd only been able to see them clearly because of his super sight, the corner was a decent enough length away for solitude.
The two exchanged almost laughing grins.
"Slayer," was Buffy's one word reply.
"Ex-vampire," added Angel.
"Ah. Why are you two up so early?"
"You woke Angel when you left this morning and since he wasn't planning on going back to sleep, neither was I. So we watched the sunrise. What was the emergency?"
Clark decided not to pursue the topic of why Buffy had been with Angel this morning, knowing that she had retreated to her room last night with her mom and her friends. "There was an train accident."
"Is everyone all right?"
"Mostly. There were some serious injuries, but I got there early enough that no one died. I decided to get donuts on the way home," he said, changing the subject as he lifted the two boxes he balanced in his hand.
"Jelly?" asked Buffy.
"A few, you want one now?"
"Eww no. But careful. Xander is liable to attack you when you enter that door, sleeping or not."
"I'll remember that," grinned Clark as he started up the stairs. "You guys coming in soon?"
"In a while," answered Angel, as he pressed a kiss to Buffy's head.
Clark paused at the top of the stairs, turning slightly as he called Buffy's name. "Is everything going to be all right?"
A small smile graced her lips, and she nodded at him. "Yea, I think it is. Thanks, Clark."
Clark shrugged. "We super heroes have to look out for each other. I'm going to go make some coffee."
The kitchen was rowdy with noise, most of the house having woken after Xander had nearly toppled Clark in a dive for the donuts. Lois, Joyce and Giles were seated at the benches surrounding the island, all three of them trying to ignore the ruckus around them as they sipped tea. The teenagers, plus Clark, and Angel for that matter, were clustered at the small table, the remnants of the breakfast apparent on the table.
Willow, who was sitting on Oz's lap, was holding an animate conversation with Cordelia, something about hitting the stores before leaving, as Xander and Oz entertained Clark with stories of the Hellmouth sort. Angel was sitting quietly on his side of the table, his large fingers cupping a mug, his gaze serious as he gazed out the window.
Buffy sighed and leaned into the doorway, tilting her head to rest on the door jamb as she studied him. He was back, and human, and he didn't blame her. As if he knew that she was there, he turned, his soulful chocolate eyes catching hers, instantly brightening. He awarded her a warm half smile, the one that she loved because he always looked so damn sexy, and she involuntary smiled back, moving across the room, slipping into his lap.
His arms tightened around her waist, and she looked slightly down at him. "I love you so much."
His voice was soft in reply as he pressed a kiss to her jawbone. "I love you too."
"We're going to be okay right? 'Cuz I love you so much…and I…I want this to be…"
"Forever, Buffy. That's the whole point. I'm never going to leave you."
Buffy felt the tension leave her body, and she smiled, one of the first unguarded, true smiles. Snuggling more into his lap, she turned to the girls, jumping into the conversation.
Everything was going to be all right.
September 10, 1998
"Lois?" Clark's voice called from upstairs, where the tell-tale whoosh of Superman had just entered through their bedroom window.
Sitting on the couch, dressed in jeans and a sweater, her legs tucked up under her, she looked up as her husband descended the stairs, making his way to her. "Are you all right? I saw the news…"
Clark nodded sadly, sitting down beside her. "A couple of kids were killed instantly in the explosion. We were able to rescue most of the tenants."
"You did your best," reassured Lois, knowing how hard it was for Clark. An apartment building on the outskirts of Metropolis had been victim to the results of a fire and unfortunately, a gas line had been struck, turning the scene into an inferno. She sat there with him, knowing he needed time, before breaking the silence. "We got a package from Buffy today."
Clark perked up somewhat. "Really? What did she have to say?"
Lois shrugged, reaching for the mini tape recorder that was sitting on the coffee table. "I don't know. There was a tape and a note that just said 'Play me'. I was about to listen to it, when I heard you come home."
Clark grinned and pulled Lois to him. "Well then, what are you waiting for? Let's hear it."
Lois nodded, and put the volume to full, pushing play before setting it on the couch beside her.
"Lois, Clark. Hey! I figured I'd try this instead of a boring letter…can't say the idea was mine, let's just say I watch too much TV," Buffy's voice came over the speakers, a happy, upbeat sound. "I just wanted to let you two know what was going on here in good ole Sunnyhell since we left. Can I ever really thank you for what you two did for me? What you put up with while I was in that depressing place?
"Shoot, I told myself I wouldn't talk about that stuff…I'm really trying to move past the I-sent-my-love-to-hell thing. It helps that he's back, and that everything, for once, seems to be going really well…and I just jinxed it didn't I?" There was an audible groan, and Clark chuckled slightly. "Anyway…as for what has happened since we left you two…well we came back, and I'm back at home with Mom, who's scaring me with how well she's taking this my-daughter-slays- vampires-in-her-spare-time deal. It might have something to do with the fact that I think she and Giles have a thing going…its not a sure thing, but me and Wills have our suspicions.
"Where was I? Oh yeah…well everyone is still pretty much the same, although Oz's hair is purple at the moment, but we're Bronzing it tonight, so it could be different by now for all I know. School started about two weeks ago. Its going okay, although I sorta wish that Giles hadn't threatened Snyder into letting me back in. Will's getting pretty good at those spells of hers, I caught her floating a pencil in the middle of study hall last week. Xander and Cordy are the same…and Faith…well you haven't met her. She's the newest slayer to come to town. She seems a little too into the whole 'Chosen One, kill them all mentality", but I'm hoping that she'll calm down, she seems nice enough.
"And yeah, Angel is still with me…I think I'd end up either staking him, or dying if he left, but its going pretty well. He trains with me and Faith, and helps us slay, which kinda helps alleviate the pressure that rests on our shoulders, ya know? He's a whole different person now that, well, he has a pulse, not in a bad way or anything, he just seems, I dunno, lighter, more carefree. He's even gotten a job, helping my mom run her gallery. I have no idea where he stores all that art info in that cute head of his, but he's really good at it. My mom loves him, I think its those eighteenth century manners of his. Though its slightly scary considering that she actually lets me stay at his apartment, I mean, she fully knows what were doing, but she doesn't seem to care TOO much. She had that lovely mother — daughter talk with me…eeks, I'm really sure you want to be hearing about that…sorry.
"And lately we've been talking about the future. I mean, we're totally getting married, but we're just not sure when. We want to as soon as possible, and I think its going to be next summer, before I start college, that is if I get in any. We've already started looking at houses and stuff…cuz no matter what we're moving in together after my birthday in January, so we figure, we should probably get a house or something…did I mention that he's loaded? Not that it matters to me…I mean, I'd love him if he was dirt poor, jeez…I've loved him as a vampire…but good lord, he's wealthy…it has to do with all those years as a vamp…portfolio up the wazoo."
There was a loud pause on the tape, filled with background noise that Clark was able to pick up. There was a doorbell ringing…then a bunch of familiar voices filling the air…calling up to Buffy.
"Ooops, the guys are here…boy am I glad that I got ready before doing this, they'd kill me if we were late…some big band from L.A. is playing at the Bronze…so it's going to be crowded tonight. Hope I didn't bore you too much…You guys will come when we set the date right? I mean…you won't even need the airfare!"
"Buffster! Come on!" Xander's voice was somewhat muted.
"I'm coming Xan!" Buffy yelled, then her voice softened. "All right…I'm going to go…love you both. And Clark, if you ever need anything…you know the number…hell…you know my address…us superheroes have to look out for each other. I'll write…or talk…to you guys later."
The tape fell dead, and Lois switched it off. "She sounds happy."
"A change from how she was when she was here … wouldn't you say?"
"Definitely. Her and Angel sound like they're really happy. We're going to go right?"
"Of course. You heard what she said about superheroes. We need to stick together."