TITLE: Comfort Food
SYNOPSIS: More badfic. Buffy reacts a little differently to Angel's departure than he had expected.
DISCLAIMER: Joss. Not me. I'm not deranged enough. Yet.
NOTES: I promise, I'll finish more real fic soon. But in the meantime, here's some badfic. :-> It gets a little angsty towards the end, but bear with me, okay? Also, as it is badfic, it has not been betaed, so any errors you find are mine alone, and not the responsibility of my crack beta reading team.
DEDICATED: To my far better half, who needs all the comfort she can get.
"Great thing about being a Slayer - kicking ass is comfort food."
--- Buffy, "The Prom"
With a loud sigh, Angel looked at the crowd gathered in front of his office. He was getting too damn old for this shit.
"Willy?" he questioned, addressing the man leading the mob of vampires, and other assorted demons.
"Hey, Angel. Listen, my man, we got something to ask you." Willy was clearly nervous, twisting his hands together. "Now I know, you're a little weirded out here, what with all the patrons of my fine establishment here and not in Sunnydale --"
"Fuck Sunnydale!" a voice from the back of the crowd called out, "I ain't ever goin' back to that damn hellhole ever again!"
The crowd hollered their agreement.
Angel was confused. "So you all left Sunnydale to come here and...?"
"We're begging you, Angel. Begging. Pleading. Throwing ourselves on your mercy. We'll do anything."
One of the vampires in the front of the line got down on his hands and knees in front of Angel, grasping the other man's jacket. "Please, Angelus, please return to Sunnydale."
Shaking his head, Angel peered down at the vampire. "You want me to go BACK to Sunnydale?"
The crowd nodded.
Willy smiled encouragingly. "That's what we're here to ask you, man. To go back. You need to stop her."
That got Angel's attention. "Stop who?"
"The Slayer!" the crowd chorused.
"Buffy?" Angel darted forward, grabbing Willy by the throat. "What happened to Buffy?" he rasped through a set of very sharp teeth.
"Air!" Willy wheezed, "Angel, buddy, I need air!"
With a snarl, Angel released his death grip on Willy's throat, instead grabbing the small man by his shirt. "Talk, now."
"The Slayer's lost it! Ever since you dumped her, she's been freaking out! Taking it out on the demons."
"That's her job, she's the Slayer."
"Not like this, man. She's possessed. Hey Chris, come here," Willy called out to a vampire standing near him. When Chris neared them, Angel noticed that he had scars all over his face.
Scars in the pattern of the claddagh. Almost as if someone had stamped it into his face.
Willy nodded. "Yeah. The Slayer dipped her hand in holy water and then stamped her fist all over his face. She's not taking the separation well, Angel. She's at my bar, every night. She gets lit, then she goes out --"
"--You're serving her? She's underage!"
"She's the Slayer. If I serve her, the cops'll fine me. If I don't serve her, she'll rip out my spleen and wear it as a hat. I'll take the fine."
"So she tortured some vampires?"
"More than a couple." Willy waved his hand, and a parade of demons walked in front of Angel. Some were missing limbs, some were badly disfigured, and most were scarred. They were all terrified.
"She's done all this?"
"I'm telling you, Angel, she's like a woman possessed. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and all that."
Angel shook his head. "I can't believe that she's done this."
"Tell him about Josh," one of the chaos demons called out.
"Who the hell is Josh," Angel asked, his head beginning to ache.
"Uh, well, Josh was a vamp...an all around nice guy, for a vamp...well, anyway, he had the misfortune to run into the Slayer, and she, well, she..."
"Tore him to shreds and danced on the pieces," the chaos demon supplied. "And all because he looked like you."
"He looked like me?"
"A dead -- uh, undead ringer, my man. She took one look at him, and he was toast. Big time. It took hours for her to be done with him. I had to call her Watcher, he came down and talked her into staking Josh, to take pity on him."
Rubbing his eyes, Angel looked out at the crowd of pathetic demons before him. Something had to be done. She was a loaded gun.
And it was all his fault.
He nodded at Willy. "All right. I'll go back to talk to her."
"You have to stay with her. We can't survive you leaving her again."
"I'd sooner take a walk in the afternoon than go back and face her! She's a crazy bitch, man!" a vampire shouted.
"Uh, he didn't mean crazy bitch in a bad way, Angel. Really." Willy smiled his most endearing smile.
"I'm going back. Right now. I'll put an end to this rampage. I promise."
With his promise, every demon looked instantly relieved.
It took Angel nearly an hour to drive back to Sunnydale, the whole time wondering just what the hell he was going to do. For lack of a better idea, he parked his car at Willy's bar, and walked over to the nearest cemetery, keeping his eyes peeled for sight of her.
Luck was with him that night, for he soon heard the sounds of whimpering, and flesh striking flesh. He hurried over towards the sound, crawling through the underbrush.
Buffy had a young vampire tied spreadeagled to four stakes stuck in the ground. His shirt had been ripped off, and she was painting on his chest with a paintbrush.
From the looks of his raw skin, she was being artistic with holy water.
"Buffy?" Angel whispered as he approached her, his hands outstretched and pleading.
Her head jerked up, and for a second, her eyes lit up with such love, his heart was warmed. Then her eyes dimmed as the pain resurfaced. "Shouldn't you be in LA?"
"What's going on, baby?"
Her eyes spit fire. "Don't call me that, EVER AGAIN."
The vampire beneath her whimpered as she dug the brush into his skin.
"Okay, okay, just calm down."
"You want me to CALM DOWN?"
"Fuck you, Angel."
He was taken aback by the anger in her tone. "Buffy, please, can we just talk?"
"No, we can't." She turned back to the vamp, looking down on him in disgust, then produced a stake and stabbed it through his heart. "I wonder if you would make that little poof! noise if you were dusted, Angel." She turned back around, a unholy gleam in her eyes.
For the first time in his unlife, he felt what other vampires felt facing this particular Slayer. Sheer, unadulterated terror. He did the only thing he could do.
He turned and ran.
Buffy chased him.
That was certainly a new sight for Sunnydale, the town that had seen everything. The Slayer, chasing her vampire ex-boyfriend through the town square. Not an everyday occurence, that.
Angel ran, not even glancing over his shoulder to see if she was gaining on him. They were evenly matched in strength and endurance, but Angel was still nearly a foot taller than she was, with the correspondingly longer legs. He ran faster than he could remember running before, heading swiftly to Giles' flat. Since the library was no more, Angel assumed that the Watcher's home had become the new base of operations for TeamBuffy.
He leapt up the steps leading to the door, and banged loudly on the wood. "Giles!" he bellowed, "GILES!!!"
Just when Angel could make out Buffy's tiny form speeding through the street, Giles wrenched open the door. "Angel? Good God, man, what's wrong?"
"Buffy. She's chasing me."
"For a particular reason?"
"She's gone 'round the bend, Giles. Now let me in before she stakes me!"
With a sigh, Giles stepped out of the way. "Come in, Angel."
Angel dove into the flat, pulling Giles in behind him and slamming the door just as Buffy reached the front porch.
"Coward!" she shrieked, pounding on the door. "You goddamn coward!"
Giles looked at the door in wide eyed horror. "She's finally gone over the edge, hasn't she?" he asked Angel.
Angel was shaken. "A bunch of demons, led by Willy, came to LA tonight to tell me what was going on and to beg me to come back."
Sighing deeply, Giles covered his eyes with his hands. "She's been getting progressively worse since you left."
"And you didn't think I should be told?" Angel hissed. "This wasn't --" He broke off as the pounding on the front door ceased. Buffy wasn't thinking clearly, because if she had been, she would have realized that she could have kicked the door in easily and walked right on in.
The sudden silence was eerie.
Giles looked at the door for a moment, then turned back to Angel. Just then, the sound of shattering glass filled the night. From where she had flung herself through the window to enter, Buffy sprung to her feet, advancing quickly on Angel.
If it were possible, Angel would have paled.
"Buffy," Giles said, "Buffy, explain your behavior to me this minute!" His tone reeked of authority.
She was unmoved.
Suddenly, she turned to Giles. "Why should he be happy when I'm miserable?" She snarled the words, pain written across her face. "Why should he be HAPPY and in love with someone else when all I want to do is die?"
Angel blinked. Someone else? There was no someone else. There would never be someone else. Who could compete with his one true love?
Giles' voice was firm. "So you wish unhappiness on him? Is your love for him that weak, that shallow, that you can't wish him well?"
The carefully chosen words took her aback. "I...I..."
"You what? You love him enough to sacrifice yourself for him, but only if he loves you back? I thought your love for him was true and forever, Buffy, the love of a woman for a man. But now I see it was the love of an infatuated child."
All the color drained from her face. "That's not true, Giles! I love him more than I love anything else on this earth. Whether he's with me or not. You know that."
"Do I? You're not behaving that way, running around like a madwoman, chasing him through the streets, trying to kill him."
Horrified tears filled her eyes as she looked first at the stake clutched in her hand, and then at her ex-lover huddled against the staircase. "Oh, Angel," she breathed, "Oh, god, Angel, I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."
His terror receded a bit. "Buffy --"
She held up her hand for him to be quiet. Misery was apparent on every inch of her face as tears gathered and spilled over her cheeks. "When I heard that you had found someone new...I wanted to die all over again. Had I meant that little to you? But then I decided that I was going to move on too. Because if you could do it, so could I. So I did. And I met Riley. Riley Finn. God, could he have a stupider name?"
Angel didn't know what the appropriate response was, and he looked at Giles for help. The Watcher lifted his shoulders helplessly.
Buffy continued her diatribe. "So I met his guy, and I go out with him like everyone wants me to but me. I don't want to go out with him. Because he's not you. No one else will ever be you." She dropped the stake, and ran a shaky hand through her hair. Her eyes took on a lost look as she whispered, "How can I move on, when all I want is you?"
The tears ran freely down her face, and she looked so forlorn that Giles' heart broke at the sight of her.
Angel found his voice past the lump in his throat. "There's no one else, Buffy. No matter how long I live, there never will be. We were meant to be together. We were meant *for* each other, and only a cruel twist of fate could change that."
"But...but what about Kate?" Her tone was pitiful.
"Kate is nothing to me. She means nothing. She's just someone I helped."
"But...but I called your apartment...and she picked up. It was during the day, Angel. You never let anyone you don't trust near you when you sleep."
His eyes closing, Angel slumped back against the stairs. All this chaos because he had crashed at the office one day? "Buffy, I let Kate use my apartment to shower and sleep. I stayed at the office that day."
Hope raged in Buffy's eyes. "Really?" she whispered.
He nodded. "I wouldn't lie to you."
"You left me," she said gravely. "You walked away from me."
"I want you to have a real life."
"I don't want it if it doesn't involve you."
Giles looked on in fascination. It was rather like a car wreck. You knew you shouldn't be watching, but you were unable to help yourself from doing just that.
"I have a job, responsibilities," Angel pointed out desperately. "So do you."
She nodded. "I know. You have to work in LA. I have to work here. So we live halfway between Sunnydale and LA and we each have a half hour commute."
Her solution brought him up short. It was so simple. But it couldn't be that easy. It just couldn't be. "What about the sun?"
"What about it? It rises and sets each day with no help from me. Besides, I work the night shift. I don't see much of it anyway."
"I can't father your children."
"Real fatherhood has nothing to do with sperm," she said, looking at Giles, who smiled fondly at her. "We can adopt."
"I can't make love to you."
"I have a vibrator."
Giles clapped his hands over his ears. He did NOT need to hear this part. Quickly, he turned on his heel and fled into the other room They needed privacy for this reunion.
"I'm not going to look any older," Angel pointed out for the millionth time.
"If it bothers you so much that I'm going to age, I'm sure you can afford to hire me the best plastic surgeons."
Angel's mouth fell open as he searched for another issue to throw in her face. When he realized he lacked one, he closed his mouth. She was right. It really was simple, after all. Speechless, he did the only thing left for him to do. He opened his arms.
With a stifled sob, she walked into his embrace, burrowing her face into the familiar comfort of his chest. "Are you done being stupid?" she muttered, the sound muffled against the muscled wall.
He tightened his arms around her and let out a low laugh. "Yes, my love, I guess I am.
And then, for the first time in what seemed like forever, Buffy Summers smiled.