Welcome to Denial of Destiny!
by Mark Jones
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Joss Whedon and the WB network. Angel and Buffy forever. Amen.
"... I just need some time apart." she said. Angel could say nothing, and just nodded softly as she turned to walk away.
"Are you still my girl?" he had asked. She looked back at him in that 'Buffy' way, smiling a seemingly fake smile.
"Wouldn't have it any other way." Then he watched her leave the mansion. Once she left, he broke down. She was gone.
Three weeks had passed with no sign of Buffy. Angel had thought long and hard about what had happened. Collaborating with Buffy and Giles, they had set a trap to expose Faith as a turncoat. It had worked. Faith and the mayor worked through a secretive power to 'turn' Angel back to Angelus, only it was Angel playing himself. He thought he was rather convincing, almost smiling at his own interpretation of himself as a soul-less beast.
But he knew it had taken it's toll on Buffy. Reverting to his beastial form had caused him to speak, act and even attack her as 'Angelus'. It was too much like when he had lost his soul. She told him once that she did know what evil he could do. Because he had done all those evil and hateful things to her. But she still loved him. And now, because of the plan to bring Faith out, she had shunned him.
But what could he expect? He was a monster. He was a beast at heart, and ever shall be. Part of him thought that he should have been destroyed on that overlook at Christmas time. But someone else thought he shouldn't. Someone else had brought him back. Someone else... why always someone else? Am I just a pawn? he thought. Why am I here still?
Especially when the reason for living, aka Buffy Summers, was nowhere around. He had went out one night last week, spotted her in the park. She was busy pummeling two vampire at the same time. He managed to control his impulse to go over and help her. She wanted time apart, and this would not bring them back together any faster. But he did want her. With him.
"Angel?" a voice said, startling him out of his reverie, looking in the fireplace. He looked up to see Willow, her red hair tousled and a look of almost panic on her face.
"Willow?" he said quietly. "What are you..."
"Angel. You'd better come quickly." She took a few tentative steps towards him, then paused. He noticed she was shaking.
Buffy was in the hospital bed, a resuscitator in her mouth, several tubes in her arms laid across the pristine white sheets on the bed. Her face was bruised, cuts apparent where she had been bleeding before the hospital cleaned her up. Her right arm was in a make-shift cast, bent at mid-elbow, suspended as to not put any additional pressure on her broken ribs. Angel looked at Willow, shocked.
"There were three of them, we think." She said softly. She had been crying constantly since they got back, and Oz's comforts could not quell the onslaught of tears that she was experiencing. "She had taken down two of them, when the third apparently broke something over the back of her... her head." She sobbed again, and Angel could only look lost and remorseful as she cried a little more.
"The... the doc said they think that she'll be okay..." Oz said quietly. But Angel read the look on his face. Angel cast his eyes down to Buffy. Why? Why had she done this? Why didn't she let him in, to be with her, to protect her? But she was the slayer, as an emotion rippled through him. Denial? Anger? Or just plain pain for her.
"Giles went to get her mom." Oz informed him. "But we don't know if she'll..." His voice dropped off, as Angel's heart dropped out from inside him. Buffy Summers could die. Unable to contain himself anymore, he moved over to the hospital window. There, in the light of the moon, Angel shed his tears for his Buffy.
A few tears later, a moment of clarity came to him. He half-turned his head.
"Willow?" he called to her. She approached him, and he spoke to her.
Willow and Oz had left, Willow agreeing to wait at the library until Angel called to tell her what to do next. He sat at Buffy's bedside, noticing her beeping heartbeat was slowing. He knew there wasn't much time left. He pulled the chair closer to the bed, and took her warm hand in his, and held it tight.
"Buffy." he said quietly. "Please hear me. I need you. I need you to tell me how to help you." He searched her face desperately for a sign of movement. Tears now began to fill his eyes, a drop gently splashing on her hand.
Internally Angel's conflict raged. She was everything to him. How can this happen? How can he chance to lose her? He always pictured himself perishing before her. He always saw her... he always saw her in the light, and some dim, far part of him, pictured himself there with her. Standing on the beach. In the light overlooking the ocean as the sun set. Angel's tears were renewed as the vision of that which may never come true overtook him.
"Pleaaaaseeee..." he cried to her, leaning even closer to her unconscious form. "Please don't leave me alone. I've been alone for so long. Buffy..." he sobbed. "Buffy, I let myself love you. Don't leave me this way." His crying subsided for a minute to look at the still slowing heartbeat monitor. He sniffled, then looked at her with a lost look in his eyes. He leaned over until he was whispering in her ear.
"Please. Tell me... what to do. Stay with me?" he half-pleaded to her. "Go? Or stay?" Angel laid his head by hers, a tear rolling on her cheek.
Then it happened.
He almost didn't feel it. But then he did. She squeezed his hand, ever so weakly. Angel's head jerked up abruptly, looking at her in almost amazement.
"Buffy?" he asked. He got no other response, but a smaller, weaker squeeze. Angel looked at her, sighed and knew she was going to die.
Buffy Summers, the slayer, the chosen one, died away at 9:55pm. Angel knew that she would be sorely missed.
Her eyes opened almost automatically. Looking around with her green eyes, she looked up from where she laid and realized she was in the mansion. She sat up, slowly, but not painfully, brushing the fine blond hair from her face. She looked over and saw Angel sitting with his back to her, looking into the fire.
"Angel?" he turned, somewhat startled, and looked at her. But in an almost guilty move, his eyes quickly avoided looking directly at her.
"Buffy. How do you feel?" he asked, taking a few tentative steps closer to her. She shook her head, brushing her hair back again. She must look a mess.
"All right, I..." she paused, looking at the arm she was moving her hair with. The last thing she remembered was that arm broken, pain shooting through it like a rocket. She looked at Angel, perplexed.
"How long have I been out? Days? It would have taken days for this to heal, even with my powers." She paused, noticing she wasn't feeling quite right. Her powers were... different, she felt.
Angel almost seemed to crawl within his own skin, looking even more guilty. "You've been out for about 5 hours." Buffy looked at him, a look of total amazement on her face.
"...How?" was all she could manage.
"Buffy, you were dying." He looked back up, very seriously. "There wasn't any time... I mean, I tried... I mean, the doctors tried..." Angel bowed his head, a pained look on his face. Buffy realized he was crying.
"Angel, what is it?" He looked up, tears streaming down his face.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I couldn't lose you. I would do anything for you..." Buffy suddenly pulled him tight and hugged Angel, comforting him, wanting him in her arms. Something was strange... he didn't feel as cold as he usually did.
A moment later he straightened up. With a determined look on his face, he took her shoulders, turning her to face the mirror. What she saw froze her heart. If it still beat, it would have frozen.
Buffy saw herself in the mirror. The ridges on her forehead, the yellow eyes, the fangs... she was a vampire.
-TO BE CONTINUED IN-