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 Angel's Secrets

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Buffy and Angel: In Sunlight and Shadow

By N.C.

Page 1 of 4
Summary: Angel leaves L.A. to take care of some business in Sunnydale.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all.
Feedback: Send feedback to Scribble246[at]aol.com - thanks!
Dedicatiion: Dedicated to all the Buffy and Angel fans, especially Rachel, who introduced me to Buffy and all its charms.

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Chapter One

Spike was a replacement.

That's all he was, Buffy Summers reassured herself. What had happened was past now. He had put too much meaning into what they had.

Or did he? It was more than just a few kisses. Her smile was sad. But he's still a replacement.

With her ex boyfriend Riley Finn married and Angel, another... ex... in L.A. with his own company, there was no one left but Spike. Or rather, no one left. After a brief relationship, Spike had left.

That's not exactly how it went, she admitted. Another thought to avoid. She switched to more acid thoughts.

Even Xander isn't free anymore. I mean, he didn't marry Anya, but still, I don't think he likes me anymore. And I never liked him. Or wanted him.

The way she had wanted Spike. For no matter what she had told him, Buffy still wanted Spike. She didn't love him--had never loved him--but she wanted him. No, no I used him. To get back at Riley for marrying Sam, to replace Angel... as if that could ever happen. She snorted. I used him, and I shouldn't have. 'I'm not making any objections,' he had said when she walked in, dumped him, and walked out of the crypt where he lived. She remembered his heartbroken face staring at her almost like a bewildered child. 'I'm sorry, William,' she had said as she turned and left. The whole scene was etched in her memory-- just another painful thing to bear.

Why are they all leaving now? Why is everything falling apart?

Giles was gone to England. Tara and Willow had separated when Willow got addicted to magic. Because of a demon preying on Xander's doubts, he had dumped Anya on their wedding day. She had left not long after that. Cordelia, the rouge Slayer Faith, and Angel were all in L.A.

I miss him so. Then, No more Angel thoughts. He's not part of my life now, and he can't ever be again. Not with the curse on him. And everything... else...

As the vampire Angelus, Angel had fed on a dumb Gypsy girl of the Romany clan. The Elders of the clan had punished him by giving him back his soul and conscience. The curse also entailed that with one moment of true joy, his soul would be gone once more, and he would be transformed into an extremely brutal and malicious vampire once more.

It had already happened once, with disastrous results. It was then they knew that their ill-fated relationship would never last, and eventually Angel left. She hadn't seen him since a few months ago, when she had came to visit him and found he and Faith in some sort of relationship, and Angel had ordered her to go home. After that he came to Sunnydale to apologize, and that was it for months. No phone calls, no visits, no contact at all.

Now there was the further complication of Spike, who, upset and angry at her rejection, was gone, too. Horridly, she found herself kind of missing him, and all his sarcastic jabs. In that way, they had completely clicked--everything he said, she gave a witty answer. Is that what I miss? Talk? Or... the rest? Certainly not his puppy dog adoration, and the way he followed me around, goading me to fight. Which I did. She blushed to herself, remembering the end of that violent fistfight. They had kissed in an abandoned house as it fell down around them, and after they fell down on the floor she opted for better quarters.

Now Buffy was spending a quiet evening patrolling one of Sunnydale California's twelve graveyards. There were a lot of graveyards, since Sunnydale was on a Hellmouth, literally the mouth of Hell. Demons and vampires abounded here, which is why the Chosen One, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was here. Many were surprised that Buffy, blonde haired, blue eyed, California girl, was the Slayer. Thin and short, she looked no match for the creatures she killed every night, but she was. She was super strong, much stronger than humans, and had supernatural powers so that any injuries she got healed much, much faster than ordinary humans.

"One girl in every generation is Chosen... " Buffy muttered.

Ahead was the old abandoned mansion Angel had lived in, sadly empty now. Around her were deep shadows. She imagined a shadow moving, and for a minute she almost thought one did. But when most girls would've screamed or at least jumped, she only smiled, sadness welling up in her. The shadows no longer moved.

Once upon a time they did. Toward me, with me, and by my side. She almost thought she saw, again, Angel's dark figure slipping out from behind a tombstone, walking in agreeable silence with her. Walking with the light steps of a ready warrior and the softness of a predator. She remembered the times she would be close to death, cornered and with a vampire's fangs coming toward her neck. Suddenly he would be there, springing out of hiding to stake the vamp as though it was nothing. Angel watching her in the Bronze; Angel stalking her as she walked home; Angel, kissing her for the first time in the moonlight of her room. That thought led to another: memories of his crushing, passionate kisses in dark corners, when he was her world and she was his.

Her memory passed briefly over Riley Finn, in his shell-like armor and gadgets she had often compared to James Bonds' outfit. She remembered Riley helping her fight and trying to match her strength. Riley, always a soldier first and boyfriend later, was a man she had fancied she had loved. But it didn't take him too long to realize that she didn't.

Now Buffy thought of Spike, in his trademark black leather jacket, white blond hair, and strangely attractive high cheekbones, suddenly appearing nearby and casually joining her on her patrol, or stepping provocatively in front of her, forcing her to stop or stand too close for comfort. Spike and Drusilla, his vampire lover; and then images of Spike when Dru left, when he turned crazy, drunk, and depressed. That was not a good time for any of them.

Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris, her two best friends since high school, would sometimes fight alongside her, clumsy but well meaning. Xander, with a joke for every moment to cover his fears, was laid-back and fun. Willow was a little more uptight, but she had a sweet sense of humor and a likable nerdy-ness that Buffy loved.

Last, fond memories of Rupert Giles, Buffy's Watcher, seeped into her mind. She remembered his soft smile when he was happy with her, the funny look he wore while thinking hard about something, his habit of taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. She remembered his sad face when Angelus had killed his girlfriend, Jenny Calendar; the angry scowl he wore when she got into mischief, or joined the "cult" that was cheerleading.

She had walked into the library of Sunnydale High, holding her horridly clashing pom-poms and wearing her hair in a high ponytail. He was absolutely horrified, insisting that she could not disgrace herself so, that she was chosen to fight evil, not participate in some 'cult'!

She imagined Giles, sitting behind a tombstone reading and drinking tea while she fought a vampire, then, when all was safe, popping up to critique her, and the time when she had first met him. Buffy walked into the library for the library for the first time, ready to shyly ask if she could get a textbook for one of her classes. Instead Giles had handed her a hugely thick book with the word 'VAMPYR' in large gold letters on the front. She had run, knowing with deep certainty that that was not what she wanted.

Vampires had attacked her old school in L.A., and she had had no other choice but to burn down her school gym. She was then, of course, expelled from school, and they had had to move to Sunnydale to find a school that would take her. But that was not the only reason she had moved here. The other was less obvious: trouble was brewing, and she was needed, as Slayer, to help fight the forces of evil.

She got back to the subject of her beloved mentor, and more and more images circled around in her head.

Giles was more than just my Watcher. He was my father and my friend. And I really, really wish that he were here.

But he had was convinced that she had to learn to do things on her own, and find strength in herself. So he was back in England. Permanently.

She sighed deeply as a red-Irish vampire jumped onto her back. As she jammed her elbows back to dislodge him and rolled on the ground, she said calmly,

"You must be a new one! I haven't seen many Irish vampires, except maybe my old friend Angel, and he's long gone." Besides, his hair isn't red like yours. It's brown, almost black, and stiff and kind of spiked, not curly at all. "In point of fact, I haven't seen too many vamps, just a lot of dust. Strange, isn't it?"

But though her lips smiled, her eyes were cold, and her body coiled into a spring as she slipped into Slayer mode automatically. The fight wasn't hard: a roundhouse kick, a few well-aimed punches and her Slayer strength, and she staked him quickly through the heart with the ease of long practice, continuing as he dusted,

"Yeah, just a lot of dust." Her laugh was brittle and choked as she stopped sudden sobs, her mind on other things than Slaying.

They're all gone now, she thought sadly, doubling back to Angel's mansion. She sat down on his dusty blue couch in the dim living room, remembering moments here, of quiet peace, romance, tears, humor, anger... and pain. Too much pain.

It would never have worked. I mean, there's the touchy 'Vampire + Slayer = Dead Vampire' thing, the fact that he's 240+ years old, and the curse.

The words to an old Beatles song her mother had loved floated through her mind...

"I love you so. I'm the one who wants you. Yes, I'm the one who wants you," she sang quietly. Buffy looked around, feeling as if the old house was listening. To the emptiness, she said loudly,

"OK, I've been shirking my duty. Time to go." She had successfully pushed the tears and old memories away. Now the Slayer stood up, hefted her stake, and left.

.

Willow had short, straight red hair, a small nose, and an optimistic outlook. She was a computer genius and therefore shunned by most, but she and Buffy had instantly clicked. At the moment, she had just knocked and barged in on her best friend since forever, Xander Harris. He was moping and watching TV in his "house," also known as his parents' basement. Xander's thick dark brown hair flopped into his face and he half reached up to brush it away, but then stopped and his hand fell back down limply.

"Xander, let's go out."

"Don't wanna."

Stop sulking like a baby she wanted to say. Instead she said, "Are you sure? "

"Yeah," he answered with no enthusiasm. Self-pity showed plainly in Xander's face.

"We've been over this, Xander. It's not that bad. You just made a... mistake." The voice was Buffy's as she stood at the door.

"Yeah, a really big one." He didn't turn around.

"Look at me, Xander! Look at all the mistakes I've made! Spike, for example. That was one hell of a mistake."

"You're the Slayer--"

"Exactly! I'm the Slayer! And I still make mistakes, but I get over them and move on. Like you should."

"Oh, stop it, Buff. It's no use."

"Xander... " Willow began.

"God, why did Giles have to leave? He would know what to do with you! There has to be something that can occupy you for more than five minutes. Come on patrol with me, or come to the Bronze one night, or date!"

"I'll definitely date. So not."

She ignored his last few words, saying, "Good, just find a girl."

"I have a friend. I'll call her," Willow offered, rushing over to Xander's phone.

"Great, then, I'll be going back to work. Lunch hour's over."

"Ok," Xander said, slumping back down in her seat.

Buffy patted his arm in sympathy and went home.

.

It was just another summer day for most people. Not for Dawn, though. Today was special. As Buffy left her room and headed for work, she finished brushing her long, tawny light brown hair. It fell down her back in shining waves. In the mirror, she assessed herself:

Tight, form fitting black jeans and T-shirt, ankle-length black boots, black nail polish, purple lipstick, dark eye shadow, and thick stripes of washout, bright purple dye in her hair. Gothic. It was so in, as her friends put it. Good thing she had been under the covers in bed when Buffy came in. Dawn's blue eyes were filled with mischief as she slipped down the stairs and out the door.

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Sitting in the semi-darkness of the living room of the small apartment she'd just moved into, Willow's ex girlfriend Tara was listening to Dingoes Ate My Baby, her favorite band, and painting black blobs around a misshapen red heart on the right half of the canvas. On the top she wrote in fancy letters:

'Now: black is the sorrow around my heart.'

On the other half of the paper was another red heart, around it she painted bright gold, and wrote at the top,

'Before: Golden and precious is the love we shared.' On the bottom edge of the paper, she wrote one more phrase.

'Tell me--should there be gold around the second heart, too? I don't know.'

On the back the wrote, 'Willow,' then for the first time in four days, she left her apartment and delivered the painting to 1630 Revello Drive.

.

It was late at night. Standing at the window of his room in Cordelia Chase's apartment, Angel resisted the urge to slap the woman behind him and leave. That was not what a 'champion' did. In the other room, Cordelia was recovering from another one of her visions. Gunn and the others of Angel Investigations were going where she had said the trouble was. That's what the visions were: visions of trouble about to occur that Cordy warned them of so they could help. But this time Angel was sitting out on the work. He had just been in to see Cordelia. She was fine.

Staring out the window at the busy city scene below him, he thought of freedom. He was, of course, free in the literal sense--he could walk out of here any time he wanted--but not free in the sense of responsibilities. He had his company, Angel Investigations, to oversee, and people who depended on him, like Drusilla, Gunn, and Cordy. He could leave them all, but who would keep everything together? Who would be Cordelia's support, Gunn's friend, and the head of Angel Investigations? Who would watch out for Drusilla and put up with her strangeness? And, lastly and most important to him, in the back of his mind, who would be there for Buffy when she was in too much trouble to handle on her own? Not that it ever really happened often for the oh-so-competent Slayer, but she needed to know he was around, ready to help. Just as he needed to know she was. But she always was.

Just as I have to always be here, making amends for the centuries of trouble I caused, the tragedies, the deaths. I was--I am--Angelus. That means something. I am not an ordinary man. Not an ordinary creature of the night. I am on, but not of, this world. Isolated, like all vampires. He took a breath, turned around, listened to the very much insane and beautiful vampire he had sired.

"Look at the bright light, the bright light!" she cried, delighted when the overhead light flashed on and off when she moved the switch. He hadn't really noticed before, lost in his thoughts as he was.

"Yes, the light is very bright, isn't it, Dru?" He spoke in the condescending tone of an adult to a child, then quickly stopped himself and adjusted his attitude. Drusilla was an adult, no matter her problems.

The only reason she has any problems in the first place is me. I was the one who killed everyone she knew and drove her insane before I turned her into a vampire. I was the one who fell in love, like the idiot I am!

Fell in love--again. He had loved three women with all of his heart, and in a way he still loved them all. His sire, and Conner's mother, Darla, was beautiful but cruel. Before Buffy had killed him, Darla had worked for Master, her sire. Angel hadn't. Pointedly. Darla still loved him, but he couldn't bring himself to really love her. Even though she had been his first love--always a precious thing--and the woman who had introduced him to the life of a vampire. One without a soul, of course. One where the heart is gone, and the demon has completely taken over the human. Vampires are, essentially, demons. Though they look like humans and can act somewhat like them, their natural instincts are only three: Hunt, kill, and feed. For years, Angelus and Darla had been 'the scourge of Europe,' and many other places around the world, wrecking, killing, feeding off human after human, and leaving a wreck in their paths.

Then Angel had met Drusilla. She was a beautiful woman, with dark brown hair that looked almost black. It curled prettily at the ends. Her face was pale, her eyes deep brown. They often shone golden, making her even more gorgeous. Her lips were exquisitely rosé red. She was beautiful in the classic sense of the word, as Darla had been when she had sired Angel. She was also strange, being quite mad, and few but Angel and Spike, a vampire who Drusilla had sired, and who was currently and had always been in love with her, could deal with that madness. But Dru's fickleness had ended up betraying her in the end; she had chosen other demons over Spike, and eventually he had chosen another over her. That 'other' was Buffy.

The third woman Angel had loved, and still loved, and would always love, was Buffy Summers, the Slayer. Their relationship had started with his doom-filled warnings of trouble before he would disappear once more. It had grown into friendship, and gradually into love. The warnings came with kisses, and he stayed longer than it took to tell her of bad news. They would spend hours together, happy to forget everything else. It been wonderful and full of happy times, but the whole thing was a gradual up-down process. The amazing rapport that had began with kisses and climaxed to passion gradually declined into a forbidden thing, a 'no touching,' zone.

When Angel had turned evil, Buffy had sent him to hell to save the world, knowing that if she didn't save it, he would kill it. Just at the moment of his death, Willow had cured him, but Buffy still sent him to Hell to close it's gates. After a few months--which were really, to him, one hundred painful years--with the help of Buffy's love, he had come back, with his soul restored. Once he had recovered from his trip down under, however, their attempt at avoiding love and cultivating a friendship failed. Unable to bear this 'together but apart,' situation, Angel took a painful leave-taking of his love.

Drusilla had come wandering in four months before, babbling about how Spike had fallen for Buffy and so had rejected her. That sent Angel into a pained, unresponsive silence for one of the longest weeks of his life. He hadn't known the love for one mortal woman could affect him this much.

I knew, had to have known, that their relationship wouldn't last, since I also know full well that Buffy still loves me, but she did take what Spike had to offer for a little while, and that hurt. Hurt so much he didn't want to think about it. Of course, she deserves other relationships; she even needs them. It's been too long for something like this not to happen. Months, now. But still...

Spike... and Buffy.

Buffy... and Spike.

Ouch. Now his thoughts drew back to the here-and-now, away from Sunnydale and everyone there.

"Please turn the light off, Drusilla," he requested quietly, calm and patient, as always. Drusilla pouted.

"No."

Shamelessly, he preyed on her love for him as the flashing lights began to give him a headache. "For me?" He made his eyes as he looked at her both pleading and asking. She did, then half surprised him as she launched her self at him, pushing him to the bed, playfully biting his neck, both lover and predator. He let her kiss him, tease his earlobe with her sharp fangs--they had both morphed into vampire form--and wrestle with him on the bed. Finally they lay side my side. She was tired. He was not. She rested her head on his chest.

Why am I letting her do this? He asked himself. The answer came quickly, sadly. Because I pity her. And... He was almost ashamed to say it, even to himself, but ruthlessly he did. Admit it. You feed on her love like she does on Spike's. You want to be loved. It's a purely human quality. How weak. But it's true.

.

It was smoggy with industrial smoke, and the bright sun of the summer day couldn't pierce that. In the midst of her crowd, Dawn felt safe and right. Devin, Tim, Jack, and Ted were smoking and skateboarding, while Amanda, Julie, Ashley and Dawn were arm in arm, discussing their latest disobediences. Amanda was grounded for a year, but she snuck out every night.

"It's too easy! They never lock the windows, you know?" They all laughed. Julie was next.

"My mom caught me and this other guy--you know Ben?" They all did. "Anyway, she caught me and Ben making out in the front yard the other night and she was pissed!!! After like an hour, she forbade me to see him again. But he climbs up to my room every night and we make out in there. Mom even comes in, and she never checks the closet! Parents are so easy to fool!"

This got another all-'round laugh. It was true; their parents were pretty easy to fool.

Or else they let them get away with anything, Dawn thought. Ashley was talking now.

"So I was smoking in the bathroom and my dad smelled the smoke. He came rushing in, and hello I was in the tub, and I totally got him out of there, but not before he took away my cigarette, and then my mom like ransacked my room and took all the packs out of there, so I had to buy a new stock and hide it all at Devin's house. What'd you do, Dawn?"

Uh, let's see... stayed out and didn't get caught because Buffy was out Slaying... refused to smoke...

"I got past my sister a bunch of times, but she's not around that much," (too busy saving the world every night,) " so I'm pretty free."

"Lucky," squealed Julie enviously. The others agreed.

Dawn was not so sure she was lucky at all, but she wisely kept those thoughts to herself.

.

Onstage at Sunnydale's most popular hang out spot, a club called the Bronze, a tall, thin woman with a high voice and very straight black hair to her shoulders sang,

"Baby, I'm lost__________________, you know, because you're so, so, strong..."

Buffy knew the words well. She hummed along with the woman and laughed as Willow joined in and sung the high notes along with her.

"This is kind of sad," Willow admitted with a grin. "We've listened to this music for years now, ever since freshman year! God, you'd think they'd bring someone new in." She was half joking.

Now even Xander smiled. Knowing it would cheer him up, Buffy asked, "Come dance?"

"Sure." Xander and Buffy walked out among the dancers. Set on having fun, she wiggled to the beat, watching him bumbling along in his hilarious goofy way. In the position of long-time best friend, Buffy matched his silly style. They laughed and danced and had more fun than Xander remembered having since Anya had left. He was glad he had gotten out of the basement. This was too much fun to miss.

When Buffy finally went to sit down, tired, a tiny young woman with very wavy short black hair stylishly cut to just above her shoulders squirmed between the other dancers to appear in front of Xander.

"Hey, I'm Emily! You look fun to dance with! May I?"

"Cautious but willing, Xander said, "Sure. I'm Xander Harris." They danced together for a while. By the time they made their way back to their table, Buffy was gone, but Willow still sat there.

"Hey Will, this is--"

"Oh hey Em!"

"So you and Xander are friends, huh? Small world!"

"Yeah... Xand, Em and I know each other from college. She's the friend I was calling, but she wasn't there. Anyway, want a soda, Emily? Xander will get you one!" She flashed a suggestive smile at Xander, and he rolled his eyes but left to get drinks. Willow and Emily traded looks and burst out laughing.

When Willow finally got home to the house that had once belonged to Buffy's mother, Joyce Summers, before she died, she saw that there was mail. Opening the mailbox, she found Tara's painting. An incredulous smile spread over her face as she read what was there and ran into the house to get paper and a pen...

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