Buffy kicked the ancient door and it shattered inward. She entered stealthily, checking all points, listening. Nothing. He hadn't been here for some time.
Everything was thinly covered in dust. He had moved in a hurry, there were items strewn on the floor. She pushed something aside with her foot (a sock?) and uncovered a small area of clean floor. She pressed her lips together. Angel could never stand filth. He was so clean.
She drifted in thought, staring at the dusted mirror by the door.Mirrors to punish himself with. "It's not your fault you were changed, it's not your fault you did those things," she used to say to him. Didn't matter. Angel needed his little self-flagellations. He was addicted to them. "They keep me reminded," he'd said. As if he could ever forget. In a strange way, Buffy secretly thought, they might have comforted him.
She explored the small collection of rooms almost tenderly. Fridge, of course. Blacked-out windows, of course. An old lamp. He'd been weird about light, for a vampire; he'd liked it. Something on the floor beside the lamp. A box, on it's side. Wood, inlaid. She brushed it off and coughed. It was beautiful, and locked by an old-fashioned key lock. No key, though. Buffy pried it open quickly, and was engulfed in fluttering paper that scattered around her.
She sat on the floor and gathered up the pieces of paper, various scraps covered with that fine, curling style. In his day as a human, handwriting had been important. She glanced through some of them. Unlike him, to keep so disorganized a journal. They weren't dated, or in any sort of order. He must have been hunted out of town quickly, to leave these behind. Her heart contracted when she saw her name.
Buffy set the box down and sighed, drawing her arms closely around herself. She had come back to L.A. for this. She had needed to trace him. Now she wished achingly that she hadn't. All the old feelings welled up, the cravings and the pain. "Why can't I just let go of him?" She pressed her head back against the wall and began to cry. She would be brave in a minute or two. Right now, empty the tearducts.
After a time she gathered up the box and went out into the Hollywood sunshine. It was blinding. She crossed streets without looking, drove back to the hotel in a daze. In her room, she took a long, cool shower, put on a robe, sat on the edge of the bed looking at the box. She took a deep breath and began to pick up various pieces of Angel's writing.....
Seeing her the first time was like seeing my own death. She was fasinating, and she terrified me in a way that you probably knew about....so young, so powerful. Very intimidating. I'd never seen a Slayer with a vibe like that; she had an energy, a vitality that's dangerous and attractive. She'll have it as long as she lives. She reminded me about life, about the feeling of drinking down a fresh, warm life, about the feeling of being human and alive...so many old feelings.
Most unnerving of all, I liked her. She was sharp, secure in herself, direct, she had a natural cordiality, and her overwhelming vitality of spirit was coming off her in waves, like heat. She was prettier than I remembered any girl being. I always loved girls with big, dark eyes, revealing eyes. She had captured me, and even if she had known that she would not have exploited it. I was completely unworthy of her, and I wanted her so badly that I was shaking.
What a joke all of this would be to my old companions, me with a soul, me with a human hard-on for a Slayer.
I've had a lot of time to think. I've had a lot of time to become a comfy bedfellow with misery. It's not the anxious, amplified misery of a human...it's the low-grade, ever-present ache and defeat of regret in every moment. It brought me to such a low that my metabolism slowed; I was only feeding enough to keep from wasting away, and since I couldn't bear to kill human anymore, I was sentenced to inferior nourishment. Constant weakness, a dull ache in each moment of existence, and the knowledge of my own cowardice, that I was unable to walk out into the day and extinguish myself, end my misery.
Then I saw this girl, and she fed me without knowing she fed me. She nursed me from yards away with her intensity of joy in life; even when she's unhappy she radiates gladness in being, rich and bright like sunlight, like cool water and brilliant colors. She reminded me what ripe apples had tasted like, what the sun felt like on my back when I was walking up the moors, what it was like to sing. She woke me up.
I began to think like I did when I was alive and in love for the first time. She absorbed my daily thoughts and my dreams.I began to dream of making love to her, and I discovered a thing in my heart that made me feel lighter...I began to realize that I could make her happy in ways that a mortal could never conceive of. Humans are in a great hurry. We never are. In fact, the longer anything good lasts, the better. The voids between pleasure are so vast for the undead. Unlike a human, I don't need to own a woman. You can't. If you try, you just put her in a cage. Hunters, vampire and non-vampire alike, hate zoos.
I had read parts of the Kama Sutra when I was younger, and I remember that the very idea filled me with impatience. Why should I make such a ritual out of it? It's good, I want some, those were my sole and pathetic thoughts on the matter of love. My fear of women, as all mortal men have, numbed me to their importance and their exquisite possibilities. Like every man I knew, I believed that my pleasure was the only agenda, my pleasure and how to get it. But by the time I had been walking dead, and then walking dead with a soul, I knew much more. And I was no longer in a hurry.
I began to imagine that I could give her something worthy, a gift she deserved, that all women deserve but few ever receive. She deserved it, and I could give it to her. I knew that this was an impossible fantasy and I mocked myself for my arrogance, but like a human in love, I was deaf even to my own reason. I dared to hope that someday I might be able, not to have her, but to please her, truly give her pleasure and release and the knowledge of her own miraculous body...
Don't think I lied to myself flawlessly. I knew, deep down, that it was all about my love for her, and how dangerous that was to me.
Slayers are usually the athletic type. They have an exuberance about them. They love light and laughter and they treasure the innocent. They are, in short, every Vampire's nightmare. We find them obnoxious, annoying, repulsive,even a little embarrassing. They don't all have the dress sense that Buffy does, and in general they are a great deal less intelligent than Buffy. Buffy is "worse" than your garden-variety Slayer because she has more resources, more gifts. In the sense that a Renaissance man is a man who has mastered both sword and pen, who is expert in matters of battle and courtly love, Buffy is a Renaissance Slayer. First of all, she has a sense of humor. Many Slayers have met their ends because they took themselves too seriously; it's a trap you can't catch Buffy with. She never feels self-richeous and she takes responsibility for her mistakes. You can't trap Buffy with her own arrogance because she has none. Also, Buffy is not afraid to make connections with others. She hasn't chosen a life of lonely self-absorption that most Slayers take. She has friends, she confides, she protects others, in a personal way. This strengthens her, not only in the sense that she has backup, but also because she recovers from setbacks more quickly. Even in solo battles, she never fights alone. Every Slayer has a Watcher, but Buffy has the added advantage of a network of trusted friends. This reinforcement cannot be underestimated.
I was amused by her choice of confidants at first, and then I began to admire her instincts in the matter. Buffy is willing to take risks of the heart, and she has the ability to choose companions wisely. The "outcasts" of a society are usually the individuals who see that society most clearly, and who have learned to define themselves along unique lines. At first I thought she had chosen them out of compassion, but in a very short time I saw Willow's brilliance and Xander's courage. They were reflections of her, as companions will be. Buffy does not view Slayerhood as an exhaulted state; she chooses associates who understand this, and they treasure her all the more for it. These factors combined to create a strength of character that made Buffy the most formidable Slayer I had ever seen.
An unexpected pleasure of meeting her was the return of my own vanity. Humans denigrate it, but it really can be very beneficial. The first time I saw myself in her eyes I realized that she thought I was handsome; it brought back memories of that very specific thrill, the thrill of "she thinks I'm attractive,". All vampires are attractive in a sense, because we have that power, but we forget what it is to feel radiant and beautiful; that is really the realm of creatures that are alive from within rather than reflecting the glow of stolen life. I felt a sense of self return, a sweet knowledge of myself as a being. You can't tell humans about this because they fear vanity, but vanity, the experience of the love of the self, can be the very stuff of life. I was thought of as handsome, once. I never realized how much I had missed that feeling, and how potently erotic it was.
How long it had been since I had yearned to crush a woman gently in my arms, to protect her, to warm her, to give her safe haven! I recalled old longings with new flavor: gifts, to watch her eyes light up with the pleasure of knowing she was appreciated, safety, to make her feel protected and myself feel strong, and caresses, the intoxicating, shattering realm of giving joy to a woman, of tenderly coaxing her into ecstasy. I longed to give Buffy all these things; most of all, I longed to give her myself, even knowing the foolhardiness of it, even knowing somehow that it could be the end of me. It seemed quite a bargain.
The first time Buffy pressed herself against me I was rattled to the bone. She vibrates, even when standing still. Life is so strong in her...in vampire terms, she'd be like bingeing on prime rib; you'd feel like you could never eat again, you'd be overflowing with all that life, and it would taste of sunlight when you burped. For a vampire, that's acid indigestion. She would be rich, decadent fare.
When I held her I could feel myself heating up without needing to feed. The first time I kissed her the hunger came up on me too swiftly, prematurely. It was an instinctive hunger for the joy she carries inside her like a furnace. Buffy's heart is strong and clean, and her blood moves like a symphony. It would sing to me when she was near, I could feel the rhythm and pressure of it throbbing in the air that surrounded her. It's so much more than the blood rhythm of a healthy young girl; it's the life inside a pure being singing it's own song, a song of life.
I can hear Spike now.
But from being around her, I grew healthier. I ate from blood banks during that period, but I didn't miss the warmth of the kill when I could be holding her, reliving my youth with the benefit of so much appreciation. Long, dark years of numb misery, suddenly lightened by a Slayer, of all humans. A young woman so full of life was one who needed a service I could provide, one much harder to come by then protection or gifts. Her lust for life, her strength, her gentle nature, all were clues to me that she was an intensely sensual being. In this, at least, I was her match; no, more...I was her Watcher. I was worthy to initiate her. On her terms, but with my knowledge.
I had spent eternity on the dark side of passion, so I knew how to negotiate by better light.
At first, it must have looked like I was trying a little too hard to win her trust, but I was compelled by something more than your prophecy. I loved her when I saw her; I was driven by that. I protected her by giving her information, by watching her hunt, by showing up occasionally for the unique problem-solving situation. After she finally began to trust me, I knew she felt something for me, too. It wasn't just the fact that she kissed me that first night we spent together, or her confessions about her diary. I could feel that she cared about me, which is something only a human can understand.
Later on, we began meeting when she went out to hunt; she would show up at the mosoleum around 11 o'clock and take out vampires, and it got to be a habit to watch and see how she was doing. It was a bit of a conflict at first; in a sense, all vampires are family members, but it's a cutthroat brotherhood, and I was no longer welcome in it anyway. After a few hunts I got more used to the idea and to her, and I no longer felt a shivering hesitation. Imagine being in the arms of a vampire; it's the same terrifying thought for a vampire to be in the arms of a Slayer.
It had to be love. That was even scarier.
Soon when I stepped in to say hello, it was no longer a short conversation full of regret. We consented to our attraction. Our talks became more personal. Buffy is caring. If she asks about you, she really wants to know. She stares deeply into your eyes, hearing every nuance in every word, and beneath the words. She misses nothing. Her hunter's instincts make her formidable in more than battle. She's not the kind of girl you lie to. She's the kind you tell everything to, things you never thought you'd tell anyone.
I found myself telling her about things I hadn't known myself, until I said them out loud. I found out that my heart, my ancient selfish heart that had soaked up stolen blood for 200 years, my heart that had been reduced to lead in the last years by grief and loneliness and shame, my heart was still alive, because it responded to Buffy.
How can I express the feeling of seeing Buffy's eyes fill with light when she saw me? The feeling of craving her touch and knowing I wasn't alone? A new feeling began to grow between us, the feeling of companionship. In proportion, the passion grew with it.
Mortals are in such a hurry that they never really see the moon. Looking a the moon, for a mortal, is a slight break in the action; it's like a dream, and then on to the business of making the world more complicated. To the undead, life is exquisitely simple. It has an elegance, it teaches simplicity. Kill, feed, live to kill and feed again. All the rest of life is a side dish, although some of us like our side dishes. Some of us know the moon's paths and changing shapes, her subtle range of color, her different rings or clarity, like a young man knows the dresses and moods of a girl he admires.
It does make some sense that mortals rush through everything; they have so little time, but they loose so much. Human males, for instance, rarely achieve enough finesse to make love to a woman properly. They poke and prod, they play like children with a woman's incredibly sensitive nerves, jangling them, jangling her, like a tuneless child assaulting a harpsichord. No wonder human men are so afraid of their women; they know on some level that they have little understanding of them. In many ways human women are more wild than the males. They are strongly instinctual, capable of ferocity, and fearlessly passionate. They are truly alive. Most vampires, male and female undead alike, prefer female kills. They are not only tasty, they are energizing. They are warmer, richer, and leave the hunter with a comforting tingle.
Being next to Buffy was always like having a kill for free, without having to slaughter. She'd heat me up just by looking at me. Impossible, but true.
When Buffy and I could no longer avoid each other and began to give way to our feelings for each other, I took great care from the very beginning. When kissing began to stir other cravings in her, I held off. Not coldly, but almost shyly. I confessed that it had been a long time, I let her sense my worry. Always be straight with a woman. She will sense it, and she will be able to open to you, but most importantly, to herself. My shyness was a reflection of hers.
The kisses were sweet beyond sweetness, like a perfect feed, and like I remembered sunlit colors, the daylit blue of the sky in my youth. I had a chance once to read the Talmud. One of the verses reads,"her pleasure is more important than yours". Yet still, human males act like idiots, stop to poke their fingers at the moon, and then lope off to their jobs and games and machines. I, however, have had time to think.
After weeks of hot nights full of kisses that left us both with swollen lips, she began to press herself against me, longing to be touched, and having no experience in asking for it. It was adorable...and so tempting, but an important time for her. Rushing her now would ruin her growing sensuality like scaring the kill away. I held off, but I let her know what she was doing to me by responding honestly.
One night our kisses were especially urgent, and very soon she took her arms from around my neck and slid them around my waist. She looked up at me with those eyes, those doe-like, glimmering eyes and whispered, "Angel, touch me?"
I proceeded cautiously, but with great deliberateness. I touched a fingertip to her lower lip, stroked it, slid down to her little chin, along her jawline to her throat, down her throat, slowly, lingeringly, worshipping her. I traced her collarbone, pushed back her jacket from her shoulders, and traced her shoulder. I cupped my other hand around the back of her head now, and traced the line of the little top she was wearing. It was barely a halter kind of thing, very thin, silky matirial. I traced a v down and back up, down and back up. She was breathing more raggedly, beginning to soften; she was approaching a delightful stage, a stage in which you can almost make a woman feel drugged. It's half sleepy, half hot. Keep her there as long as you can, because it's not always easy to get her there.
I slipped my arm around her back, and slowed my finger, lingering now on the inside curve of her breast in the shadow of cloth, tracing the half-circle. She whispered my name. I felt a rush of heat, and calmed myself. I let two more fingers fall on this sweet curve and stroked around the underside of her breast, daring to touch. I kept clear of her nipples. If possible, it would be better to make her wait for that. I pulled her closer to me and slid my hand up her chest and under her chin. I kissed her.
"Angel," she said again, but now it was plaintive, almost a whine. I continued, stroking the outside line of her breasts admiringly, warmly. I wasn't trying to mash them, but to gently waken them.
Her tongue slipped into my mouth; she held my head with both hands and ravaged my mouth with kisses. It was going well; she was beginning to know her own want. My self-control hinged on the knowledge that the longer she waited, the better. The longer the heat could build up, the more spectacular the explosion; the more familiar she became with what she desired before she was given it, the more her sensuality would strengthen. It's a delicate thing in a young woman, and should be coaxed and nurtured, so that the world may receive the full bloom of it. It's a strength that makes life worth living.
Her body was against me now, so tight I could feel that her nipples were aroused and standing up; they pressed against my chest. She grabbed my belt and crushed her pelvis into me. I was thrown a little off balance and stepped back, losing contact. I stood there, trying to calm my breathing.
"W-What?" she asked, fear flooding her eyes. Not fear of my "game face". A much more damaging fear. I scooped her into my arms quickly.
"I'm sorry. You almost knocked me over," I said, into her hair.
"Angel," she looked up at me, her eyes wide, "Do you not-"
"Buffy," I interrupted her, "I want you more than I ever wanted anyone, in 241 years I've never wanted anyone like this. Never." I let her see it in my eyes. I gripped her shoulders. "I want to make you happy. Really happy."
Her eyes softened. "You do make me happy,"
"I don't want to rush anything. I want to make it all count for you,"
"It does all count, every touch-"
I crushed her to me, I whispered, "Let me worship you. Let's take our time. I want to make love to every cell of you." She squeezed me in her arms. "I can just barely stand it," she said, with a little half-laugh, still breathless.
I looked down at her.
I felt myself smile. "Good," I said.
The next evening brought a surprise. Women are wonderfully unpredictable, and Buffy is especially so. She stalked into the graveyard purposefully, and I knew I was in for something.
She saw me, and took a stance.
"O.K.", she said,"So you know how to make me swoon. That is good. But you don't get to manipulate me with it. You are not calling all the shots here," she paused, gulped down air, and continued," What I want had better count, too. Because if we are going to have a relationship or anything resembling it, then my decisions have to hold as much importance as yours,"
I lifted her in my arms and carried her to the stone wall, hip height to me, and sat her on it.
"O.K." I said, "What do you want?"
She gazed at me, and I was overpowered. I would do anything she wanted. She was right. I hadn't meant to lord anything over her. And with Buffy, you'd better not.
"I want-" she went speechless for a moment, "I want, I want you to really touch me,"
"Show me,"I whispered, slipping my hands into her hair and kissing her, "show me," I slid my hands over her shoulders, down her back, around her little waist, cupped her breasts gently, once again carefully avoiding nipples, I kissed her throat, I allowed my fingers and thumb to trace wide circles on her breasts, and slowed my motions, caressing her everywhere, carefully building heat. I kept my hands in constant motion. I kissed her long and deep. I slowed again, kissing her cheeks, the tip of her nose, each lip. When the heat had built in her, I began caressing her breasts through her thin blouse more aggressively, light and harder caresses that spiraled gradually closer and closer around her nipples. Soon I was tracing them with little waving lines. She was breathing harshly. I was standing between her legs and she drew me nearer. I kissed the hollow of her throat, then a little lower, small kisses that lingered, and continued teasing the edges of her nipples, which were now hard with longing. I refused to make the move until she asked for it, one way or the other.
A rush of breath escaped her, she rocked her hips foreword on the wall in a little jerk, she blurted my name.
I kissed her very softly, and simultaneously moved the ball of each thumb in a long, delicate stroke over the tip of each of her nipples. She gasped. I took them in my fingers and stroked them, tickled them, slowly and meticulously finding her tiny points of heat there. I became so absorbed in this, keeping myself in check with attention to detail, that it actually surprised me when she went off like a little firecracker, crying out and bucking her hips against me , gripping handfuls of my hair and my shirt with her killer strength. Her hands were all over me, mauling me. Her legs were locked around my hips. We both had to stop kissing to breathe; we were both gleaming a little with perspiration. For long moments we leaned against each other in the darkness, recovering. How long had it been since I had felt dizzy? Hundreds of years.
Finally she looked up at me, and I saw her vulnerability, her absolute helplessness in the moment. It's a very crucial moment in a woman's life. She's afraid of all manner of things: Was she good enough? Would I laugh at her? Would I shame her? Would I turn cold on her? Did I feel the same way she did? There is a Greek myth about a half-human goddess named Persephone, who was left out on death rock when she was very young, left as a sacrifice. You can see this in a woman's eyes at times, and when you do, never exploit it. Step in and unchain her from the rock. If you leave her there, her heart will grow calluses. It is so easy to destroy a woman in these moments, and it's every bit as criminal as shooting a faun. It's a tragic and stupid waste. Remember that you may need her strength someday, you may need her heart whole.
I lifted her in my arms and set her down under a tree in a particularly soft patch of grass, gathered her to me tightly and planted kisses all over her face. I told her how incredible she was, how beautiful, how she reminded me about being alive, that she made me feel alive again. It was all true, and she had to be reassured right away. She submitted quietly, soaking it in like a child soaking in a bedtime story. Knowing her needs, being able to meet them, to nourish her like she nourished me, flooded me with something like happiness.
Buffy laid back on the hotel bed, legs dangling over the edge, bits of paper scattered around her and clutched in her hand. The detail! Amazing. He really had remembered everything. But who were these written to? They were more like letters than diary entries. At first she flushed at the thought that he would relate these things to someone else...but she realized that someone, in all likelihood, would not be human. Somehow that made it easier. Anyway, the letters belonged to her now, like a cruel joke from the past, painful reminders of what she missed. There was an entire box full of them...tortures o'plenty. She craned her head to glance at the clock on the bedside table. It would be dark in two hours and fifteen minutes, roughly. It was an automatic calculation, a habit.
Where had he gone? Ireland? China? Eating rats for weeks, sleeping in filth?
Buffy rolled over on the bed, mashing her face into the pillow. Loneliness crawled over her like a cold fog. She felt her heart descending again. This was supposed to be closure, not a re-opening of wounds.
But Buffy wasn't done hunting, not yet.......