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 Angel's Secrets

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Waiting, Too

By Eliz
ealutz(at)hotmail.com

Summary: Should Buffy and Angel keep fighting?
Part of The Waiting Series
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all her friends belong to someone other than me. Despite the fact that I firmly believe that I would be much nicer to them than their *cough* actual owner. ;)
Author's Notes: This takes place in an alternate timeline, where none of that nasty Surprise/Innocence, Becoming stuff ever happened. Hurrah! This story is a sequel/ companion piece to my story "Waiting". Enjoy!
Special Thanks: Thanks for reading!

.

Buffy was trapped. This was not to her liking at all. As far as she was concerned, in fact, the entire day had been something of a loss. First there was the lovely lecture from Giles - that was always just a peachy way to start the morning. This time, he was fuming about her apparent lack of dedication to her duty. This time? Try every time. Buffy sighed, pressing a blood-soaked cloth more firmly against her forearm. Pain seared through her, making her gasp quietly.

So Giles had been in the midst of pontificating about duty and responsibility - when he'd suddenly accused her of being too distracted by Angel. Well _duh_. Of course, she'd tried to play it off - acting innocent and wide eyed at such an outlandish accusation. Giles hadn't been buying. He obviously wasn't quite as dim as she'd been assuming when it came to knowledge of hers and Angel's intimate relationship.

Angel. She wondered if he'd missed her, yet. She was supposed to show up at his apartment right after school... she glanced at her bare wrist. No watch, of course - and no clock in the tiny space she was currently in. Biting her lower lip, she shifted her weight again, the tiny, feral sounds coming from the other side of the door chilling her blood. What the hell was she going to do?

Moving slowly, carefully, she leaned back against the wall, tilting her head against the cool stone. She was safe in here... for now at least. She let her mind drift over the rest of the day leading up to this situation...

.

By the time she escaped from Giles, she was barely able to make it to her first class on time. She probably shouldn't have bothered, because the teacher promptly gave a pop quiz... for which Buffy was not prepared. After struggling through that, she spent the rest of class being bored, daydreaming happily about her after school rendezvous with Angel. He was sweet - so wonderful - so sexy. She'd apparently been grinning a little too widely over her thoughts, because it had prompted her chemistry teacher to call on her abruptly. Buffy had floundered around for a few moments before the bell rang, blessedly letting her off the hook. Who cared about chemistry anyway? When was she ever going to need that kind of useless knowledge?

As she wandered down the hallway flooded with high school students, searching for Willow and Xander, she noticed the basement door ajar. This was never good. The basement of Sunnydale High was the site of so many memorable situations in which she, or someone else, had been nearly killed. Frowning, she walked towards the door, hoping that a maintenance person had simply been lax in closing it fully. No such luck. As soon as she stepped through the door, into the cool blackness beyond, she could sense someone else near her. She squinted, trying to see anything in the darkness. There was a skittering noise... then breathing. It had a raspy, broken quality to it. Buffy backed away hastily, headed for the door. Surely there was a light switch...

With no warning at all, the door, which had been open just a crack, slammed shut. A small, startled sound escaping her throat, Buffy dove for the doorknob, her fingers scrambling against the metal. Something was plucking at her pant-leg, pulling her further down the stairs. She slipped, falling down a few steps, trying to regain her balance. When she was certain she was stable once more, she froze, listening.

The was an eerie sound rising, echoing off the metal furnace she knew was nearby. It was a chittering sound... like thousands of little teeth...

Shaking her head fiercely to clear that thought, she was suddenly hit in the small of her back by something. As it grasped her tank top, she realized with horror that it was alive...

.

Shuddering at the memory, Buffy finished winding the cloth securely around her arm. She'd spent what seemed like hours fighting her way through the creatures - finally diving for the perceived safety of the janitor's closet. Of course, now she was trapped... and those little creatures out there - whatever the hell they were - weren't going to wait around forever. Either they were going to try to get into the closet... or they were going to get out of the basement. If only she knew what time it was! She figured school must have ended by now. Giles wouldn't be wondering where she was - he'd generously given her the afternoon off, so she could spend some quality time with Angel.

Angel would be waiting for her, though. He'd get worried, wondering what was keeping her. He'd call Giles - or come himself - to look for her. Even if the sun hadn't gone down yet, there was the network of underground tunnels that Angel had used before to get to the school. He'd come and find her, find these... these THINGS that were with her. And then what? Would they overpower him, as they had her? Anguished at the thought, she moved to press herself against the door, trying to hear what the little beasties were up to. Things were awfully quiet outside her little refuge. Too quiet for them to be fighting a certain vampire she knew and loved... but she was worried nonetheless. Where before she had been impatient, waiting for Angel to arrive and help her out of the trap she was in, now she dreaded it. She had to get out of here before he walked right into the midst of those creatures!

Her gaze flew over the crowded shelves of the closet. There had to be a weapon in here... something... anything... her roving eyes finally fell on an aerosol canister. Hmmm. Aerosol... she grinned as she dug into her bag, quickly retrieving a small book of matches from the Bronze, and a travel-sized bottle of hair spray. Flammable liquid and fire... who knew chemistry could be so neat?

.

Buffy emerged from the basement - very sooty, very tired, and very close to being sick. She leaned gratefully against the lockers nearby, tempted to just collapse onto the floor. Glancing down the empty hallway, she saw that the sun was still lingering redly on the horizon. So little time had passed? She'd been sure it was way past dark. Sighing, she made her way towards the library, pushing through the swinging doors just as Giles was hanging up the telephone. "Buffy!" he exclaimed, relief obvious in his voice. "Where on earth have you been?"

"Basement. Creepy crawlies."

Giles paused in his controlled rush towards her. "I beg your pardon?"

Buffy cracked a smile at him. "There was a nest of demons in the basement, Giles. There isn't anymore. Although... you might consider calling a good cleaning service."

Stunned, the Watcher slumped into the nearest available seat. "A nest, you say? Extraordinary."

"Yeah, well, that's one word for it. What time is it?"

"Five thirty," Giles answered absently, his brow furrowed as he struggled to assimilate what she'd told him. "Er... why?"

Buffy was already stomping towards the doors, muttering something about "...two hours late! damnit!" that he didn't wholly catch and didn't think he wanted to. He had more important things to consider, at any rate. Buffy seemed fine - let her deal with whatever she needed to. He had a feeling from her 'cleaning service' remark, that he had work to do in the basement. Giving the Slayer a final, relieved glance, he set about his task.

.

As she covered the distance to Angel's apartment quickly, Buffy was grateful for the sliver of sunlight remaining in the western sky. At least she didn't have to worry about any vampires jumping her on the way. That was the last thing she needed... unscheduled slayage. She'd consciously avoided mirrors on her way out of school, knowing if she looked half as grimy as she felt, she wouldn't have the guts to go over to Angel's at all. She desperately wanted to see him... wanted to assure herself that he was fine, safe... and she wanted to know why he hadn't come to save her. Pouting suddenly at the thought, Buffy kicked an unoffending rock across the sidewalk, sending it skittering into the road. It wasn't like she actually needed saving, like some kind of damsel-in-distress, but she had to admit, if only to herself, that it was nice when it happened once in awhile. And Angel always seemed so willing to oblige.

Sighing at the thought of him, Buffy picked up her pace once more. She wouldn't ask him where he'd been... or if he'd been worried about her, she decided. She'd play it cool. If he brought up the subject, she might casually inquire as to where the hell he'd been. Maybe.

Her footsteps slowed again as she found herself in the dark, cool corridor that led to his apartment. She smoothed her hands over her loose, blond hair quickly, tucking it behind her ears. She tugged down on the soft hem of her shirt, trying to ignore the unidentifiable stains that were dimly visible on the fabric in the poor light. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door...

She jumped, startled, as the door was practically ripped off its hinges. Angel. Her eyes flew wide, her various aches and pains forgotten as she took in the sight of him standing - shirtless, vamped-out, and snarling - in his living room. They both just stood and stared for a moment. "Wow, Angel... switch to decaf," she suggested finally, when she'd recovered a bit from the shock.

"Buffy - where the hell have you been?" he practically growled, the words spit out with difficulty around his fangs. His golden eyes were glaring at her with an odd mixture of frustrated concern and relief.

Instantly taking offense at his tone, Buffy strode into the apartment, slamming the abused door behind her. "Where was I? Where were you!?" she yelled accusingly, feeling a strange sense of satisfaction when he looked taken aback. "I was fighting for my life, and you're sitting here in your apartment!"

"Fighting... for your... Buffy, what happened?" he whispered with suddenly aching concern, his vampire visage melting away quickly to reveal her handsome boyfriend. He moved to take her in his arms, and she let him, for the moment, the fatigue and fright of the entire ordeal coming back to her.

"There were little demons... lots of them... like that movie 'Gremlins', you know?" The words shook forth from her lips. She felt his strong arms around her, reassuring and supportive. She could feel him nod, his chin brushing the crown of her head, although she was pretty certain he'd never seen any movies from the eighties at all. "They had long teeth, like forks..."

"Are you hurt? Did they...?" Angel pushed her gently out of his arms, grabbing her forearm lightly. "Your arm - I'm sorry, I should've noticed when you came in, I can smell the blood, I was just so..."

"Wigged? Out of control?" Buffy suggested helpfully as he unwound her makeshift bandage, wincing as he pulled the fabric from the wound.

"It's not too bad," he assessed quickly, abruptly, already turning away to fetch medical supplies from the bathroom.

Her feelings a little hurt, Buffy cradled her arm and made her way over to the couch. She hadn't envisioned Angel being like this on her way over. She'd thought he would be concerned, yes, but not confrontational with her, or abrupt. He was back almost before she was settled, his large fingers featherlight on her arm as he cleaned the shallow wound with warm water, then soothed on antibiotic cream. Confused again by his gentle nursing juxtaposed with the set look of his face, Buffy finally pushed his hands away. "What's wrong? What's with you today?" Her voice had an edge to it that he couldn't fail to notice.

His arms falling uselessly to his sides, he stared at her, surprised. "Nothing. I'm trying to take care of you."

"Why are you so angry about it? I can do it myself!" Buffy snatched the gauze bandage out of the box next to him, unwrapping it awkwardly.

"Let me... please," Angel said softly, his hands stilling her movements. "I... I'm sorry. The blood is... bothering me, and I -"

"Oh." Buffy let him take over once more without protest, feeling bad for having attacked him for something he obviously couldn't control. "Um... sorry?"

Angel finished bandaging her arm and sat back with a sigh. "There's nothing to be sorry for, Buffy. I've just been worried sick about you, and it made me a little crazy, I guess. Forgive me?"

"Sure," Buffy agreed with a smile, kissing him lightly before resting her head against his chest. The smile dimmed gradually as she remembered her thoughts on the way over to his apartment. "Uh, Angel... if you were so worried, why didn't you come to find me? I was at school."

"I thought about it, believe me. It would've taken forever to me to get to the school through the sewers, dodging vampires and sunlight, and I didn't want leave in case you showed up... and I wasn't sure where you were. Giles called, and Willow and Xander hadn't seen you in hours, so..."

"Well, where else would I have been?"

"You could have been cutting class to shop."

His quiet words seemed to echo unnaturally loudly in the room. It took a moment for them to register with Buffy, whose eyes had drifted shut while Angel stroked her hair. When the meaning of his words hit her, she sat up abruptly, pushing away from him. "You..." too angry to finish speaking, tears suddenly stinging her eyes, she fled to the bathroom, hoping he wouldn't follow. Swiping angrily at her eyes, trying to clear them, she fought against the urge to cry at his insensitive remark. Staring at her grubby reflection in the mirror, she turned on the faucet, letting the water warm a bit before cupping her hands under the cleansing flow, smoothing it over her face. That done, she stared hard into the mirror again, her eyes shimmering with sadness.

"Oh Buffy..." The words were a quiet, low whisper, right next to her ear, and Buffy flinched in surprise before realizing that Angel had followed her after all, and was standing directly behind her, the mirror stubbornly refusing to yield a reflection for him. Not looking away from her own face staring back at her, she felt his palm curve around her upper arm, caressing and calming.

"Is... is that what you really... think of me?" Buffy asked her reflection, noticing with some detachment that the girl in the mirror looked as tired as she felt.

"No... no, never. Buffy, it was a joke... or, it was meant to be joke." The disembodied voice murmured in her ear, distress so thick it was unmistakable.

"Yeah... well, you need some work on your delivery," Buffy smiled weakly, then decided that it looked nice, so she grinned more widely. Angel's arms came around her lightly, his hands linking in front at her waist, hugging her.

"I guess I do. I'm still out of practice."

"Well, when you haven't cracked a smile in ninety years, I'm guessing joking is pretty much out of the question, huh?" Buffy replied with a beautiful smile of her own. She still didn't look away from the mirror, deciding that for the girl in the mirror, the happiness that lifted her face was making all the difference in her appearance. She no longer looked tired, miserable, beaten. She looked like a girl who'd had a rough day - but was wrapped in her lover's arms, surrounded by his comfort. She tilted her head to the side, feeling Angel's lips move in a delightfully soft dance along her flesh.

"I love you," he whispered solemnly, his lips returning to press against her temple as his arms tightening across her belly.

Reaching back to caress his rough cheek with one hand, she sighed happily. "I love you, too. I'm just in kind of a stressful line of work, I guess... and so are you. We just need to learn to leave it all at the door when we get home."

"You make it sound like we're... normal." The words didn't carry the usual heavy regret, but rather a gentle amusement at such a mundane thought.

With a sassy smile, she replied, "We are, kinda... okay, not really. But who wants to be normal?" Realizing what his instinctive response to _that_ loaded question would be, Buffy hurried on. "I mean, if we were a normal guy and a normal girl, we'd never have met, right?"

She felt him chuckle a little bit. "Right." He nudged the curve of her jaw with his nose, tilting her head more, allowing him further access to the soft skin of her shoulder.

It occurred to her that once she might have worried about him being so close to her neck... but they were so far beyond that now..."I'm glad we got all this sorted out," she said softly, her breath catching as he nibbled a bit, then soothed the tiny hurt with his cool lips.

"Oh yeah?" Angel drawled in that low, husky voice that always made her tremble. "Why's that?"

Spinning around to face him, Buffy quickly backed him into the wall next to the vanity, pinning him lightly there with her own body. Surprised, he let her have her way, peering down at her with questioning, dark brown eyes. She pushed herself against him, feeling the slow, drugging sensation of arousal start to creep over her as the horrors of this afternoon faded from her mind. Raising her hand to trail her fingers teasingly over his chest... heading on an intriguing path further south, she purred, "Because I'm tired of waiting."

The End

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