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 Angel's Secrets

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Postmortem...

By Cryptic

Summary: Angel's back, with a bad case of amnesia.
Part of The Via Dolorosa Series
Disclaimer: Bla, bla, bla..Don't sue..bla, bla. Not mine..Die Joss die..
Author's Notes: NO such thing as Riley exists..At least not yet..but even if he did he would never be able to replace Angel..not bloody likely in this universe..This goes out to Sophie.. thanx for being an inspiration. This is my first song fic - I hope you enjoy it. The songs used are "I need you" Leann Rimes; "I belong to you", "Long way down" Lenny Kravitz, Sarah McLachlan...
Feedback: oh, pretty please or you won't get the next part. Mail it to vicious_blue(at)slayme.com

.

Her eyes flickered open. Where was she..she was so tired, so tired and pleasantly numb. All she wanted was to lie here protected, safe, almost happy and pretend she was in a strong, comfortable embrace... His embrace..

/I don't need a lot of things,
I can get by with nothing
Of all the blessings life can bring,
I've always needed something
But I've got all I want
When it comes to loving you
You're my only reason,
You're my only truth../

"Angel" -- first it was only a thought, then a whisper... Stronger, if she called stronger maybe he would come to her, rescue her, hold her in his arms till there was nobody and nothing that mattered anymore... Only he could do that, only he had the power to make everything else fade away.

"She's awake"

She heard voices, familiar voices calling her, reaching out to her. But none of them was the voice she needed to hear, the one she longed for..She sighed deeply.

"Where am I? What happened? Where is he, where is Angel?"

"Buffy, how do you feel?". Giles looked at her confused and truly frightened whether she would be able to take the truth or not. "Don't, don't try to get up, you're too weak."

"No, no..leave me alone..I'm fine..What happened? Where is Angel?" ... It was all so confusing, and this dull pain in her head, the feeling that there was something more to this, something they weren't telling her, something she couldn't remember..But maybe if she tried just a bit harder.

"Oh, my god!" -- it started to clear up... "He didn't remember, he didn't remember ME. Where is he, how ..is he feeling?"

"He's all right Buffy," Xander answered her. "He's in the hospital, the doctors are taking care of him now. They don't give any information yet, but at least his condition is stable."

"But is he.. is he..you know what!"

"Yes, Buffy -- he is human." Willow smiled at her reassuringly.

"Thank God" She broke down, sobbing in her mother's arms. Her mother still couldn't quite grasp this whole situation, but one thing was abundantly clear -- her daughter was in love, deeply in love with that Angel, and as much as she didn't like it -- there was no way to change that. And now, when he was human... well, maybe she could give it a try. At least she owed her daughter that much -- a piece of happiness in her hectic world, after all she might not live to turn thirty... No, stop that! She hugged Buffy closer, her little baby... Well, maybe not that little anymore, but still her baby.

"I want to go there... to the hospital." Buffy managed through sobs. "I must be with him, I've got to.. And there's no way any of you are stopping me."

"All right then," Giles sighed defeatedly, he knew better than to object to a slayer, a slayer in love, he corrected himself.

.

In the hospital...

"How is he Dr.Lewis, is he alright?" Buffy practically jumped the doctor as soon as he appeared from Angel's room. "Why can't we see him, is he conscious?" She was holding his jacket tightly and didn't notice that she was ripping it apart in the process.

"Buffy, please, you're slippin'" Cordelia whispered disgustedly. Actually she was afraid she might do something to the poor guy, who seemed so tiny and fragile compared to the raging slayer. Or maybe she was just concerned about Buffy, but she wouldn't admit that even to herself.

"His condition is stable," Dr.Lewis cleared out his throat, wondering how to break the news gently, without getting nice black and blue decorations from this seemingly fragile creature. "Although, I need to ask you some questions in order to be able to understand his condition more fully. I mean, well... I've never seen anything like it before.I guess it is rather... strange"

"You can say that again" Xander managed before getting a poke in the ribs by a not so patient Willow.

"I mean there are numerous signs of physical, as well as I'm afraid mental hmm torture, let's say... "

"W-what do you mean?" Buffy blinked confused... He was gone only a minute or so, and he was quite fine before that.

"I was hoping you'd fill that gap for me. Where he was and who did that to him, or why does he heal so incredibly fast, or maybe we should start with something easy like who he is for example?"

"W-w-ho he is?" Giles almost choked. "He is Angel, Angel... Giles" The gang stared at him in disbelief, even if a bomb had dropped in that very moment it wouldn't have had that much of an impact. Buffy just gaped. "He, he is my... nephew, from England."

"Then maybe you could explain why your nephew is afraid of sunlight, I mean it is rather unusual even for victims of abuse to hide in the darkest corner of the room whenever the blinds are up.."

Buffy wondered whether to laugh or cry at this. He didn't remember, yet he had the instincts of a true vampire and the indispensable 250 years of practice. All of a sudden she felt nauseous and her knees started shaking. Giles, who apparently noticed that decided that it was time for her to take a long rest and ignoring her protests sent her home with Willow and her mom, promising to let her know if Angel's condition changed.

.

The next day. In the library.

Buffy hurried in to meet Giles and the gang. He had called five minutes earlier to say that Angel was out of the coma and had insisted she met him and the rest in none other place than Sunnydale's High-school library. Quite surprisingly so, she would have placed her bets on the hospital, still her watcher had been very rigid in that aspect.

All of a sudden she froze dead in her tracks. There it was again that feeling -- her heart fluttered, her breath became ragged, her head began swirling. There was only one person who could do that to her and he was supposedly still lying half-dead in the hospital.

/You are the flame in my heart
You light my way in the dark
You are the ultimate star
You lift me from up above
Your unconditional love
Takes me to paradise
I belong to you
And you
You belong to me too/

She ignored Giles, Trajan, Whistler and all her friends, as her mind concentrated on another person, dressed in leather pants and white t-shirt who still hadn't noticed her arrival. Though the clothes were strange, the figure and the aura were all Angel's, but it couldn't be, she was probably dreaming.

"God, please don't let me wake up" she thought, "He looks so gorgeous in leather."

Suddenly he turned around as if he had sensed something, her maybe. Oh, she prayed that it were so.

"Buffy" he whispered, unable to take his eyes off of her. He was drowning, losing himself in this girl's eyes, but it felt so right, it felt like home, though he didn't know where that was.

"O.K"- he was forced back to reality by Xander's voice. "SO, let me sum up. You, don't remember anything or anyone here. But you remember Buffy?"- he cast a glance around. "I believe I am speaking for all present here when I say: Dead Boy's back!... Hey, exactly how well do you remember Buffy, if you get what I mean... Ouch" he got an angry shove from Cordelia, meant to silence him.

"I don't understand you, uhh... Fender."

"Xander man, Xander"

"Whatever, of course I remember Buffy, she's the slayer and all, the Chosen One in every generation and stuff. Why should I not remember her?", it suddenly dawned on him. "Oh, yes, memory loss, I remember... yes, I must say it is strange."

He couldn't peel his eyes off of her. Stop it, he forced himself, it is not as if you really know her, plus such a beautiful girl surely has a boyfriend nearby.

"W-why is he out of the hospital?" Great Buffy, stutter, you're making a nice impression here, the hell with it, as if you could ever control your mouth before him.

"Well," Giles decided he should be the one to break the heavy silence that ensued before the slayer and her Angel ended right where this madness had begun in the first place -- that is, in bed. "The doctor didn't see any reason to keep him in the hospital since he had made an almost miraculous recovery overnight. And having in mind his particular dislike for daylight, we had to get him out at sunrise and get him new clothes... Hhhm, actually Xander helped there a lot." He of course failed to mention how hard it had been to explain to the doctors why they abducted a patient at sunrise, and how they had to beg Angel half an hour not to put black on and to dress like a normal teenager, not that he was one actually.

"Oh, I see." She didn't see anything but his eyes, chocolate-brown and so soft, she could drown in them. Gladly.

"Now, Angel. What exactly do you remember about Buffy?" Giles placed his glasses on his nose and examined the audience carefully. "I mean do you remember what she does? Or what you had to do with her?"

"Yes, no. I mean I remember that she kills things, supernatural stuff like demons, vampires." He paused to find all staring at him intently. "But, I don't remember what I "had to do with her", I guess it was something very important since I remember only her... I mean, I feel that she is important to me, very important," he risked a glance in her direction to find her watching him with tears in her eyes. " God, I don't even remember my own name, and I definitely remember more about Buffy's life than my own."

"Not necessary a bad thing" Buffy couldn't help but think.

"So, Angel," Willow stood right in front of him, trying to deviate his attention from Buffy for a second. "What do you feel when you look at Buffy?"

"Will, please," Buffy felt so embarrassed, her cheeks turned bright red.

"Oh, no, I didn't mean that..It's just that Dr. Lewis said Angel should talk about how he feels in order to bring back his memories and all, and he shouldn't rush.."

"I see... " Buffy wondered silently whether it wouldn't be best for Angel not to regain any of his memories, and have years of guilt burdened upon his shoulders.

"Well, when I look at Buffy I feel, I feel. Can I just say the first words that come to mind -- it's easier that way. Well, Buffy -- beauty, strength, peace, light, home, love... " He froze and cursed himself mentally -- how could have it slipped his tongue so easily. He just declared his love for a strange girl to a whole congregation of people. Great.

Buffy, on the other hand was soaring high in cloud number nine. "He loves me, he still loves me... God, he's cute when he's blushing..Wow, Angel -- blushing, that's better than chocolate ice-cream and sunrise on the Bahamas."

"I am sorry." He still wouldn't raise his eyes and look at her, or any of the others for that matter. He was so ashamed he didn't notice the winks and giggles that followed his little manifesto.

"It's all right", she heard her voice in his ear and felt her arms wrap around his neck gently, forcing him to look in her eyes. "We were together."

"Were?" he let out one of his irresistible half-smiles.

"Are, we are together." She corrected herself and erased all his doubts with a passionate kiss.

"This is heaven." He thought. Kissing this girl felt so right, he was once and for all convinced that was his true destiny. To always kiss the girl. But there was something else he felt he wanted to do, he was finally ready to do. "Uhh, Buffy, this might sound strange but there's something I feel I've always wanted to do. It kinda includes you... "

"I hope it's not sex-related" Xander murmured. "Cause we all know what happened last time... " Before he could finish he got another poke in the ribs by an outraged Cordelia.

"Is that all you ever think about." She left in a fury, slamming the door behind her.

"Cordy, wait please, I didn't mean that, seriously." He rushed towards the doors, trying to get her.

Angel and Buffy, however, noticed none of that, as they were too much wrapped in themselves.

"Would you do me that honour. Please." He looked like a puppy dog, begging his master to take him for a stroll.

"For you, anything!"

He took her hand in his and proceeded to leave the library. He wanted to see the sun for the first time in a hundred years, and even though he didn't know any of it, he wanted to share it with her. The woman he loved -- he suddenly felt a rush of strength and courage just because she was by his side.

She felt silent tears gliding down her cheeks as she watched his handsome features enveloped in sunlight. Yet the smile on her lips didn't fade, it grew wider as he leaned down and planted a kiss on those rosy lips that trembled deliciously only for him. He was truly happy, she made him happy. He sighed contentedly -- this was all he wanted to do ever from the moment he first laid eyes on her: see her in the sunlight. Marvel at her beauty, sure that even the sun didn't shine as brightly as her eyes, the way they sparkled now, for him.

.

A few days afterwards... In the Bronze.

"Hey Willow, Oz", Xander greeted. "Where's Buffy?"

"With Angel" Oz replied simply.

"I bet I can easily guess what they're doing in this very moment."

"Gee, Xander, spare us the visuals" Willow giggled.

"At least they're having fun." Cordelia sneered at him. "I bet Angel hasn't forgotten that much when it comes to you know what!"

"I wonder what will happen when he remembers." Willow thought out loud. "I mean seriously, it's been what five, six weeks since Trajan and Whistler left and he still doesn't have a clue about who he is or what his life used to be."

"Maybe it's better this way" Buffy scared them all appearing from behind.

"Gee, Buffster, you seem to have learned a few things from Dead Boy."

"Don't call him that, Xander"

"So where is the No-longer-dead-boy?"

"He's meeting me outside in five minutes. We're patrolling tonight. It's been kinda low on the vampire activity lately. Which is not that bad actually, cause I get to spend more time with Angel. He has taken up drawing again and he already has several offers from big Hollywood galleries that want to buy his works but he has a thing against commercial gigs... and it's not like he doesn't have money I mean he was pretty ingenious in financial matters a couple of hundred years ago. Anyway, I gotta go.Bye, see you later."

"Bye Buffy, Have a nice hunt..uh..time I mean." Willow smiled and waved goodbye. "Don't you think Buffy looks much better since Angel's back. I haven't seen her smile for ages. I am really glad for her." Willow smiled again and hugged Oz tightly.

.

Outside... In the meantime.

Angel was getting impatient outside the Bronze waiting for his love. He had insisted on going on patrol with her tonight. He just didn't feel right, waiting for her at home and worrying sick with every stroke of the clock, with every minute passed. He cast a glance at his watch again. Where was she?

"Well, well if this isn't our boy Angel" a group of vampires approached with a red haired block who seemed to be their leader. "Waiting for the slayer I suppose? What a shame, you were the greatest once and now you're nothing but the slayer's lapdog."

Angel looked at him bewildered: who was this guy, and how come he knew his name and what the hell did he mean. This was probably another tactic to divert his attention in the fight.

"I don't know you and frankly I don't give a damn about what you say. And I certainly don't need Buffy to dust you in the blink of an eye." He reinforced his words with a round house kick and a pointed stake that dusted two of the vampires.

"I can't believe it. You've really switched sides -- you're no longer one of us, Angelus but you'll never be one of them either. They'll never accept you, they'll never.." He didn't have time to finish as a stake went right through him and left Buffy standing in the dust right where the vampire used to be.

"Angel, are you all right? You're pale and look weird." Buffy's voice trembled fearing that she had been too late to shield him from the vampire's haunting presence. "Angel, answer me. Angel, you're scaring me!"

"I'm fine Buffy really, I just need to do something. Please forgive me, I won't be able to patrol with you tonight." He could see the distress so clearly written on her expressive face. She always wore her heart upon her sleeve, his Buffy. He didn't want to worry her, but he had been having this wicked feeling for days, the feeling they were all hiding something from him. And what that vampire said didn't make any sense and the way he called him "Angelus" seemed strange and yet so familiar. He had to do some research on his own. "I'm sorry, something unexpected came up, I was just about to tell you when I got a little sidetracked. I really have to go. I love you." He gave her a quick kiss before heading off towards the library and leaving her dumbfounded.

.

In a while... The library.

Buffy rushed in, silently hoping to find Angel there. Which she did by the way -- he was bent over a table, probably researching some prophecy for Giles, she thought. She should have known better, should have felt it before he flinched and jerked away from her touch. She should have listened to it, the gut feeling that had been screaming inside her all night, the breath-taking notion that something big was about to happen, something that would change her life completely.

She knew it once she looked in his eyes - dark pools of sorrow, self-loathing and disgust, brimming with tears, already red and swollen.

"I know" he whispered softly. "I know all that you hid from me... I know what I did, the people I killed, the people I hurt."

He looked at her broken-heartedly.

"NO, oh God, no..You can't ..How?"

He smiled through tears -- a cynical smile that cut to her heart even worse than his tear-struck face.

"Watchers' Council", he stepped back to reveal the heavy tomes that he had been reading. "They seem to pertain a certain fascination for the wicked. And their recording is rather accurate. ... too accurate." He winced in pain, all the memories flowing freely. He shook his head. "Why? Why didn't you tell me, did you expect I would not find out, that I'd never remember and we'd have the happily ever after?"

"Yes, yes, why not, Angel you're not responsible for what the demon did, you were so happy I didn't have the heart to break it, this happiness."

"I'd rather learned it from you, instead from a vampire. And this so-called happiness -- it was an illusion Buffy, it was never real, it was a bubble that was doomed from the start."

"But you were so happy and I've never been happier in my life. Can't we just once do something for ourselves? Can't we Angel, why does it always have to be so hard with us? Why?"

"God, Buffy, don't you get it!" he cried in exasperation. "It was never me. That's why you were happy -- it wasn't me. It was a nice polished guiltless version. "He finished in a whisper.

"And what is so wrong with that?" She screamed at him. "That you for once didn't brood over the past that you had nothing to do with? That you for once thought of a future with me? Well, forgive me for wanting THAT perfect happiness for both of us. You obviously don't!" She finished, turning away from him, convinced that nothing he could say could make it worse. She was about to learn otherwise.

"No I don't." He repeated softly.

"What?" She looked at him incredulously. "Angel, you can't mean that? I love you; I want my life to be with you.."

"Well, I don't."

She froze momentarily, time and space seemed to collapse and shrink to the volume of two little words: "I don't". The ground began swirling in a wild tempo. This, this wasn't happening she kept saying to herself, this wasn't real. It was some weird spell, a dream, a nightmare and if she really really wanted to wake up. NOW. She closed her eyes, hoping that this would all vanish once she opened them again.

It didn't.

"But why, why are you doing this to me, to us? Now that the you are human and that the demon is gone" She tried to reason with him, all the while knowing how pointless it was.

"He isn't gone Buffy. He is still here -- there at the gates of Hell, I had to choose. He was too strong, there was no way one of us could have won. But it's not about winning, I know that now, to emerge victorious over the demon you must accept him in your heart, live with him, feed him and smolder him. He'll never leave Buffy, and I must learn to live with it. I can't ask that of you, to share the life and bed of a monster... I'll leave. Today."

"Don't you think I have some say in this, Angel, you're not a monster." She pleaded trying to get him to look in her eyes, but he wouldn't comply. He kept his gaze to the ground, afraid what he'd see in her eyes would shaken his determination and shatter his defenses. He was doing this for both of them, he had to be the strong one.

"Oh here you are, there's nothing left to say.
You're not supposed to be that way
Did they push you out, did they throw you away?
Touch me now and I don't care. When you take me I'm not there.
Almost human, but I'll never be the same.
Long way down, I don't think I'll make it on my own.
Long way down, I don't want to live in here alone.
Long way down, I don't think I'll make it on my own.
I never put you down, I never pushed you away.
You're not supposed to be that way.
And anything you want, there's nothing I could say.
Is there anything to feel? Is it pain that makes you real? Cut me off
before it kills me.
"

"Don't... Please" He asked softly, gently pushing her away. He knew his next words would break both of their hearts. "What we had was wrong, it was sick. It has to end. You have to move on, find someone who'll be good and suitable for you. Don't lament someone long dead, Buffy." With these words he left, leaving her as shattered and broken as her old school's gym, but feeling equally barren and devastated inside.

"Through this world I've stumbled
so many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
to find the truth enslaved,
Oh you speak to me in riddles and
you speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath,
your words keep me alive"

.

The next day they found her lying there at the foot of the table staring into the nothingness. They tried talking to her, shouting, shaking, nothing seemed to move her, or take her out of the catatonic state she was in.

"It's his fault, I bet it is" Xander hissed. "Angel's fault" he spat angrily.

Once it escaped his lips she stirred, jumping almost instantly, repeating it in a mindless litany.

"Angel, Angel, where is he? Angel" She broke in tears once again. "I, I thought he came back."

"Buffy, what happened?" Giles inquired fearfully.

"He remembered," they all exchanged terrified glances, "and he left, he left for good"

She broke in tears once again into Willow's welcoming arms.

"Shh, shh, It'll be all right Buffy, shh" Willow tried to assuage her pain, and keeping her own tears from falling down, unsuccessfully.

"No he won't, he won't. I lost him Wills, it hurts so much. I I can't breathe Wills, I can't breathe.." With that she finally gave in to the comfort of the darkness as she slumped in Willow's arms, senseless.

The End

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