Chapter Five--Angel's Confession
Sunnydale High School Library, 12:16 p.m.
"So, you gonna patrol tonight?"
Buffy looked up at Xander, a wariness on her face. Xander looked away and down back at his book, silently cursing himself for speaking to her.
"Uh, I, yeah. Yeah. Tonight, I'm gonna patrol," she smiled shakily and glanced over at Willow. Willow smiled back, then looked at Giles who was wincing.
"I could go with you, I mean, if you want company." Xander offered, still not looking at her.
"Well . . ." Buffy began and then trailed off, not knowing what to say.
"Buffy, you and Xander can't avoid each other forever," Willow said softly.
The two turned to her, speaking at the same time, "not!" They looked at each other and then away. "I mean," Buffy continued, "I'm not avoiding Xander. Why would I?"
"Yeah," Xander put in, "we're buds. The best of buds. We go way back and we're totally cool." He turned to Buffy, "right?"
She nodded, "yeah, totally. Cool." She smiled quickly and then stood up, pushing away from the table. "As for tonight, I don't think it would be a good idea."
"Yeah, I understand. Sure." Xander mumbled.
Willow and Giles locked gazes and the librarian sighed heavily, "uh, Buffy, Xander, I realize that the situation is a tad uh, uncomfortable, but the two of you can not continue --"
"-- Giles," Buffy interrupted, "Cordelia might be out there tonight, I don't want Xander to have to deal with her."
All three turned to her.
"Oh," Willow breathed softly.
"Yes, uh, well, I didn't think of that," Giles commented.
"Yeah, you didn't." Buffy retorted. She reached over and grabbed her book, "I gotta book."
"Buffy!" Willow called out.
"What?" she bit out impatiently.
"I don't think that Cordelia would be hanging out in the spots where you patrol, I mean, she would know where we, where you, patrol."
Buffy shifted slightly and sighed, "yeah, I guess so."
"Does it matter?" Xander offered softly.
"What?" asked Buffy, again looking at him with trepidation.
"It's not like she can kill me. I mean, not as long as you're alive." He turned to Giles, "right?"
Buffy took a deep breath and smiled broadly, falsely. She met Xander's gaze, "fine. We'll patrol. But not tonight. Angel is gonna be there tonight. Okay?" She turned and began moving towards the exit before he could answer.
"Yeah, sure. Tomorrow then," he paused, "Buffy."
As her name fell from his lips, she stopped and closed her eyes briefly, fighting the surge of warmth that swept through her. She turned back around and faced him, their eyes locked onto each other. "Xander," she said softly and he took a slight step towards her. She shook her head swiftly and turned away again, "I gotta go," she mumbled. "Bye."
Xander watched the swinging doors in silence. He ran a hand over his face and then turned back to look at Willow and Giles. "Tomorrow, I patrol. Gonna kick me some undead booty." Willow smiled weakly, "yeah."
"Well," he amended with a forced grin, "I'm gonna watch the Slayer kick some undead booty. Tomorrow." He paused and his attempt at nonchalance faltered, "tonight, she'll be with Angel." Giles nodded. "Yes."
"Yeah," Xander said beneath his breath and then fell heavily back into his seat. Willow reached out and laid a tentative hand on his. He looked up at her and she smiled softly.
Sunnydale, Buffy Summer's Bedroom, 4:26 a.m.
The room was dark, trailing inky blackness behind and before her. And yet, ignorant of what was ahead, she still kept moving.
A light -- a small, radiant orb of gold -- danced in the air and she was frozen for the silence of an eternity as it grew. Slowly, at first, the tiny circle swelled and rose, at last splashing upon two ornate chandeliers, made of golden teardrops and prisms reflecting the glow of the light.
Then into the darkness, two diaphanous shadows danced by and a hand reached out to her. A man appeared, clad in a tuxedo, creating a striking figure, but she could not see his face. The shadows about her became tangible and she could see couples -- one in pale 17th century garb, another in medieval green and red -- dancing past her. In the corner of the immense room, filled with soft lights and rich brocades, played a band. And then the sweetest music filled the air.
She stepped closer and reached out for the hand of the man standing before her, wanting to pull him into the light and see his face. She held out her hand and saw her arm encased in a white doeskin glove. Her fingers brushed against his and she felt the warmth of his hand through her glove, she took another step and looked up at him, but his face was in shadows.
They began to move, slowly dancing to the strains of the music filling the air. Something soft fell upon her shoulder and she looked up. A shower of sparks flew from the chandelier, raining softly down, the fiery shoots blossoming into red rose petals as they fell. She glanced back at him and moved closer as they danced into the light and she saw the dark waves of his hair --
Buffy opened her eyes and blinked rapidly. Dark hair, he had dark hair. "Oh, God," she whispered softly, suddenly. "It's so not Angel." She closed her eyes and refused to even think his name -- even though she was sure it was her Erosean, as sure as she'd ever been about anything in her life.
But she would not think his name.
Sunnydale High School, outer yard, 11:45 a.m.
"I was thinking we could use the spell that restored Angel's soul and maybe try and restore Cordelia's." Willow offered excitedly to Buffy.
"Yeah," Buffy looked at her, a smile blooming on her face. "Yes! Why wouldn't it work? Totally, all we have to do is do the spell and then Cordelia will be Cordelia again," she paused and frowned slightly, "of course she'll still be dead."
"Yeah," Willow agreed, "and she'll still be a vampire -- but she won't be evil and she won't kill anymore."
"Willow, we don't know for sure that Cordelia has done anyone yet. And until we do, I'm going to believe that she hasn't. She's still so young, right? That makes sense."
"Yeah, Buffy, okay. So, we'll work on the spell, tomorrow because, we have to get the stuff we need and of course, clear it with Giles, but I don't think he'd mind and so we'll do it tomorrow."
"It's a plan."
Willow smile, and then changed the subject, "you're patrolling with Xander tonight, right?" Willow questioned cautiously.
Buffy pasted on a happy smile, "yeah. It's gonna be cool. Fine. Yeah, no problem." "Did you tell Angel?"
"What? About this Erosean thing?"
Willow nodded. "No, I tried to. I mean, I was going to last night, but he was so moody and I didn't want to bug him," she explained.
"Oh," Willow commented, "are you gonna tell him?"
"Yeah, yeah. Today, after school. Do some homework, go to his place around 6:30, tell him, go patrol with Xander. Yeah, that's the plan."
"It's a good plan."
"Yeah." Buffy smiled and glanced away, the smile dying slowly as she thought of the upcoming evening.
Angel's Apartment, 6:48 p.m.
Angel lay on the bed when the knock came at his door.
"Angel?" Buffy called out and he rose from the bed and went to let her in. "Buffy," he smiled and leaned down, giving her a kiss. She stiffened slightly and Angel pulled back, "what's wrong?"
Buffy opened her mouth and then stopped. She moved around him and sat gingerly in the chair. "I have to tell you something. It's stupid really and I don't know why I'm even telling you. It's no big deal, but I just thought you should know."
"Oh, Willow's gonna try and restore Cordelia's soul. Tomorrow. Wanna come?" She smiled and laughed slightly, nervously.
"That's what you wanted to tell me?" He asked with a slight frown.
"No, no. I just remembered that and thought you should know," she paused and looked away. "Buffy?"
She took a deep breath and then said quickly, "it's about Xander."
His face darkened and he smiled without mirth. "What about Xander?" The name was bitten out.
"It's, you see -- Xander was with Cordelia when Spike and Dru made her."
"What? I don't understand, how --" he broke off and then said incredulously, "oh, God, Buffy, he's a vampire. I'm so sorry. I know we didn't get along, but I know he was your friend."
Even as she shook her head, he knelt down before her, taking her hands in his.
"No, Angel. Xander's not. That's the thing."
"He got away?"
"Not exactly. I rescued him, but they tried."
"They tried to make him a vampire?" he all but whispered.
"Yes." She shifted slightly and pulled at her hands slightly. Angel looked down at the movement and then slowly released them. He stood up cautiously and turned his back on her. His voice was soft, with the hint of disbelief and bitterness in its depths.
"They tried to make him a vampire, but they failed." He turned back to her. "Is that what you're saying?"
"Yes, and Giles said there was this thing that every Slayer, well, a person that every Slayer has, but only a few --"
"-- Her Erosean," he interrupted.
"You know?" she whispered softly.
"Xander is your Erosean? Is that what Giles said? Is he?" His voice grew louder with each question.
"Yes, but it's nothing, it's no big deal . . . " her voice trailed off and she looked away.
"It's a big deal, Buffy. It's a very big deal. If it's true -- then he is yours and you are his. Nothing can separate you two except your death. It's starting, isn't it? You want him? You want to be with him? God, it's happening."
"No! I --," she broke off and stood up, wringing her hands. "I don't know." She looked at him. "It's confusing. I don't know what I'm feeling. And I don't know what this is. I just know that everything about Xander affects me differently now and it's getting --"
"-- stronger," he finished softly for her.
"Angel," she began, her voice breaking, "I love you."
"But Xander is your Erosean!" he yelled.
"I didn't choose him! I chose you!" She cried back.
'It doesn't matter! It doesn't matter, Buffy. You don't get to choose -- in every generation there is a Slayer -- you didn't choose that, and every Slayer has an Erosean -- you can't choose that, either. Fate, destiny, whatever, makes the choice for you.
"He is yours. And you are his. And we," his voice lowered and he stepped closer to her, reaching out a hand to cup her face, "we are nothing. I've felt it, it's been here, it's been growing, this distance between us and I didn't understand. I thought it was Hell. I thought it was what happened, but it was this."
"I didn't know," she whispered, her voice thick with tears.
"I know," he muttered softly and lowered his head, his mouth brushing against her hair. "I know, you couldn't have."
She pulled away suddenly, wiping the tears from her eyes. "We don't have to choose this. Do this, I mean. If I don't accept it. I don't love Xander. Not like that, not like you. You either have a thing or you don't. And I don't. We don't. Me and Xander. But *we* do. You and I. And I will not let some stupid fate or destiny take away what we have! I won't!"
"-- no, I won't." She repeated firmly.
"Buffy, I don't know all of the facts, but what I do know, is that it's not gonna change. You can't fight it. You may think you don't love him, but it's gonna happen. It's written. If Giles is sure, if you're sure and you seem sure -- he is your Erosean and there is nothing we can do about it."
"You know about this Erosean thing, obviously. Maybe you know something Giles doesn't. He even said that the fact that I'm with you changes things. Has changed things!" Her voice rose in excitement, "so maybe you and Giles can put what you know together and come up with an alternative," she suggested.
He shook his head.
"Buffy, all I know about Eroseans and their Slayers is how strong the love, the connection is. And how when the Slayer dies, the Erosean experiences the most painful emotion known to man."
"How do you --"
"Because I knew a Slayer and Erosean. It was about a hundred and seventy years ago." He paused and looked at her, his eyes boring into hers. His voice was emotionless when he spoke -- as dead as he was -- as dead as her love for him would soon be.
"I killed the Slayer, Jeannine, and made her Erosean watch. He was dead within hours. He'd willed himself to death, because life without her was unbearable. Once she died, their connection was broken and he was broken. He was a dry shell. After he died, I cut them both into pieces and separated them in death, as I had done in life."
Buffy shook her head solemnly. "You killed a Slayer?"
He bowed his head, "yes."
"You never told me that you killed a Slayer," her voice was thick with unshed tears and pain filled her words.
"I didn't want to." He looked up at her. "Buffy," he reached out a hand, but she jerked away. "No, don't touch me. You tortured this Slayer, Jeannine. You tortured Jeannine's Erosean. Did you know what he was?"
"I heard the term, mentioned it to the one who made me. She knew enough about them to let me know," he paused, "what I knew."
"Which was?" she demanded bitterly.
He didn't speak.
"Which was?" she repeated angrily.
"That to capture him, torture him, would bring her to me. That to separate them in cages, so close, but unable to touch would wear them down. That to torture her and kill her before his eyes would break and destroy them. That to separate them in death as I did would doom them to an eternity apart."
She nodded her head, once again wiping at the tears in her eyes, "I have to go."
"Buffy, you know what I was like, but that's not me now," he entreated, hoping that their love was stronger than the Slayer's code.
"I know," but she couldn't look at him. "I know, but I just can't deal right now. I have to go, I'm patrolling tonight."
She walked to the door and opened it, as she stepped out, she paused and added softly, "with Xander," and then she shut the door, leaving Angel alone, staring at an empty space.