Rating: PG-13, but with a severely dark theme, you are warned.
Setting: AU, or post-NFA
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Joss.
Notes: Okay, Cat Stevens fan, show yourself! I was tempted to pick "Father and Son", but didn't because I have already used it in a fanfic! What are the chances, huh?
Sorry for the weirdness of this one. I probably shouldn't admit this, but it was a rush job, and I kinda may have forgotten some of the rules of the challenge. Anyone can demand I revise, and I'll do it, because given the unemployment I'm just dying to follow some orders right now.
He knew he was biased. He had adored her from the very first moment he saw her, watched her mature from a naïve child to a dangerous woman, lost his soul to her bare love. Before she came into his life he had never known that the loveliness of a female could touch so much more than his body; after they were parted, he had never even attempted to find her equal in another. He was hers. She was his. No effect of time or change could ever diminish her beauty in his eyes.
Still, Angelus thought, even an impartial observer would have to admit that Buffy made quite an attractive corpse.
He had dressed her for the occasion in a long silk dress, and arranged her on his bed in a pose she had been prone to taking in her sleep. He himself sat beside her, toying with her hair and examining her features, unwilling to release her to the traditional burial that her people would have wanted for her. Tradition be damned; he had waited a long time for this, and he wasn’t going to miss any minute of it.
Drusilla would have laughed if she saw him now. Darla would have hidden her jealousy with haughtiness. Vampires as a rule had little use for a dead body unless it was a food source—the practice of burying the body of a human who had just been sired had as much to do with practicality as ritual. It was easier to make the neonate crawl his way out of the grave than it was to sit around waiting for him to wake up. Angelus, as far as he knew, was unique in his fascination with his new progeny, but that was because he was careful about selecting them. Anyone could sire a vampire; only he would be the one to sire Buffy Summers.
Moonlight struck her jaw line and spilled down her neck, and he rearranged a lock of her hair to better reflect it. She looked so perfect and peaceful that he kept expecting her to sigh or stretch out a limb, maybe to wake and yawn, maybe to fall into a deeper sleep. Despite his clear memory of bringing her here with every conscious intention of it, despite the smell of death about her and the silence of her lungs and heart, despite the hour or more that he had been watching her without any sign of movement, his eyes could still deceive him. It was all to the best, he thought. If she could enthrall him this much in her lifeless state, there was no telling what an eternity with them together could hold.
“Why do you sleep so still?” he murmured, and then, enjoying the illusion that she could hear him, continued to speak to her. “I couldn’t believe I caught you that way, you know. I thought you must have known by now. It’s been six months, Buff. I left Los Angeles as soon as it happened, but I wasn’t exactly laying low.” He chuckled. “I went on a road trip. No particular reason, I just needed to relax after finally getting rid of that damnable soul again, and the first thing that came to mind was being the first vampire to kill someone in every state of the continental US. Well, I got to thirty-four. Once I got into the Deep South, everyone started to taste the same. Just wasn’t worth it.
“I wish you had been there. I’ll tell you all about it one day.” Buffy, of course, had no response, but Angelus shook his head ruefully as he remembered. “You must have heard reports. There were enough survivors to get some kind of physical description of me, and after you hadn’t heard from me in so long...it’s not that complicated, Buff. I almost started sending you postcards with hints, but I’m glad I didn’t. Things worked out just fine this way, didn’t they?”
He touched her cheek, smooth cold skin beneath his smooth cold fingertips. Just as she had been giving the false impression of life, now he could almost imagine that her expressionless face had taken on a tinge of regret. “Don’t worry,” he soothed her. “We’ll laugh about this someday.”
She hadn’t been laughing when she saw him. She was deeply distraught and he had sensed it from a distance and knew instantly that this was the perfect opportunity, possibly the only one he would ever get, to make her his forever. For just a few more minutes he watched her listless meandering through the graveyard, twiddling her stake and rubbing her bare arms as if she didn’t have the sense to put on a jacket when she went out on a cool night. Then he stepped out from the shadows of the trees along the border, and was rewarded by the most emotional, tearful look of recognition that she had ever given him. He had made her vulnerable to him long ago and quite by accident; finding her at a low point already was an additional stroke of luck. He supposed it should hardly be a surprise that she had failed to understand who she was truly seeing.
There had followed a long embrace, and what Buffy probably thought was a heartwarming reunion scene. She might not have even realized that her words harked back to another reunion, one that mirrored this precisely if she had only known it. “Where were you? I was so worried. You just disappeared!”
Once again, she was full of fear and doubt and bruised love, and he savored it just as much as he had the first time. This time, though, instead of adding to her slow torment, he was ready for her with the answers she wanted. He held her and didn’t let go as he piled on the apologies and the vague lies about where he had been and how much he had wanted to come back to her. Gradually she relaxed in his grip and began to tell him what she had been through while he was gone.
It was a lot, he had to give her that. There were even a few persistent troubles that he would have to take care of now that the Scooby Gang was about to be deprived of its leading member. He listened for as long as he thought was needed to get the full rundown of the town’s situation, and then he turned her attention back to himself.
Nonverbal interruptions were a special trick he had, with or without a soul, although Angel was less willing to manipulate anyone even in that small way. He had been watching Buffy’s face intently; now he dropped his eyes and took a tiny step back while she was in the middle of a run-on sentence. She noticed immediately. “What is it? Are you okay?”
He made himself sound ashamed. “Yeah, I just...I came as fast as I could, and…I’m so hungry, Buffy. I need to get to a butcher’s.”
She had the idea herself, of course—-or she thought she did, which was all he needed. For a few seconds she stared up at him with those deep, trusting green eyes, and then she was offering him her neck in such a deliberate way that words were needless. It was hard to force himself to hesitate the way that Angel would have, but she was so determined to provide for him that he didn’t have to hesitate for long. With a thrill he had seldom felt, dead or alive, he bit down on her scar.
Plan B had been to fight her, but if he had won, he wouldn’t have celebrated by draining her. Making a new vampire was an art form, and with a personality as strong as Buffy’s, the timing had to be exact. If she died while raging at him, the rage would still be there when she woke with no soul. Turning her love for him against her would leave some variables, to be sure, but it was very unlikely that she would retain enough animosity toward him to ruin their relationship. She had barely even had the chance to realize that he was taking too much blood before she started to lose consciousness, the poor fool girl.
He smiled down at her, pretending that her visage was now reflecting the innocence that she had never successfully lost. Suddenly noticing that he might not have much time left, he reached into a drawer beside the bed and pulled out some drawing supplies. Buffy’s rebirth had to be recorded, especially when she was looking so beautiful.
It was near dawn when her eyes fluttered open and her head turned to face him. “Angel?” she said faintly. It was the exact same tone she had used to greet him in the graveyard. His heart soared with the new certainty that everything he loved about her would be preserved for eternity.
“You bit me,” she said. She touched her neck, looked at her fingers, and then returned her gaze to him. “You made me a vampire.” There was no accusation in the words, only wonder.
He nodded. “This time, my love, when I say I’ll stay with you forever...”
“Forever. I’m immortal. I’m gonna live forever.”
Angelus couldn’t hide his excitement. He grinned broadly. “That’s right. Are you hungry, Buff? We’re still near your home. We’ve got Dawn, Willow, Xander...who do you want to kill?”
Her only response was to turn away from him and sit up straight, her legs hanging off the side of the bed. He leaned back against the cushions and waited. She would want him as soon as she began to adjust to unlife.
Buffy stood up and took a few paces across the room, and when she whirled around again, the vulnerability of her last incarnation was gone. “You tricked me. You murdered—-you let me murder myself!” Without warning she reached out to the closest piece of furniture, a heavy wooden wardrobe, and lifted it off the floor and almost over her head. Angelus jumped as it came crashing down into splinters and heaps of clothing. “You TRICKED me!”
It was just a streak of madness, he told himself grimly as he made his way across the room to her, a temporary phase of disorientation. Some called it ‘siring sickness’. All he had to do was restrain her until it passed.
No sooner had he laid a hand on her than she was grappling him to the ground with a strength that surpassed that of any Slayer or any vampire he had ever known. When he was on his back in the wreckage of the wardrobe and she reached for a pointed wooden shard, he suddenly knew exactly how she had felt when she told him to let go and he started sucking harder. He grabbed her wrist, but she was already kneeling over him with his other hand pinned under hers, and the stake was inching toward his heart.
A tear fell onto his face. “I held onto mine,” she whispered. “I felt it being ripped out of me but I wouldn’t let it go. Why couldn’t you hold onto yours?”