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This ficlet is B/A friendship with a very Spuffy theme.
Rating: G
Season: 7 post Chosen.

Her face crumbled, tears brimming as she hiccupped out the last few words.

She had fought to make it through, to keep in place the stony façade that had protected her in the days since their last stand; the arduous days since she had watched her lover incinerated by his own soul in order to save a world that he’d had no real reason to care for—a world that for the most part cared not one iota for him. It was strange that it was in her former beaux’s presence that she was able to give in to the grief she had so fiercely held at bay, clutching it tightly to her as if to give it voice it would be to share a part of herself, a part of them that she was unwilling to entrust to those professed to be nearest to her heart. Tears so far unshed were given free rein in his trusted presence.

Angel moved quickly to close the gap between them, wrapping his arms tentatively around her as her head came to rest on his chest and her hands clutched desperately at the back of his jacket; tiny hands scrunching and twisting heedlessly at the costly material. Her body shuddered violently and he tightened his embrace, brushing kisses against her hair and mumbling nonsensical words of comfort as his mind spun in its attempt to process her words.


For some reason that disturbed him, in a way he never would have imagined.

The bane of his last hundred or so years was gone. That should make him happy. So why didn’t it? Why, instead of the relief or joy that this news should bring him, did it instead bring... grief? Is that what this was?

William, gone! The least of his childer, and yet somehow, despite all expectations to the contrary the one who had become the most renown. How had Drusilla’s poet-childe become the youngest Master vampire in known history? How had the tender fop gone on to kill two slayers? Two! No other vampire had ever fought and beaten two slayers. He supposed he should feel…what? Pride, that Angelus had managed to transform the least likely of candidates into one of the most feared and vicious of their kind? Disgust, that he had some part, however small it may be, in the creation of such a creature? Regret, that he could take a being so gentle and tender of heart, and mould it into a remorseless killer?

All that he did feel was loss. And sadness. He didn’t like his grandchilde, he never would, no matter how much time they may have had. In that moment, however, he realised that despite everything, he had, and did, love him.

He allowed the feelings to wash over him, to slowly permeate the long-erected barriers he had constructed in matters pertaining to his family. Family. Yes, that was what they were, no matter how much he tried to push them aside, to avoid the issue at all cost, they were his family. And now all but one was gone—dust!

Her voice continued to spiral in his mind, a heartbroken jumble of words. One word in particular whirled constantly to the fore.


What was that? How could his most despised get have changed so much? Buffy had said that Spike had changed; he hadn’t wanted to hear it. She’d also said that he had a soul now… how had that happened? So much that he didn’t know, didn’t understand. There had been so many changes in her life and for some reason he hadn’t been kept informed. Had he wanted to be kept informed? Had he kept her informed of the occurrences of his life? No. But then he had wanted to spare her. She’d had enough to deal with; she didn’t need his troubles too.

He looked down at the broken girl in his arms, her body trembling as she allowed the tears she had hung on to so tightly for the last several days to break free. Her grief was palpable, he could almost taste it as it hung thickly in the air and he pushed aside his own feelings as he gathered her in his arms, lifting her slight weight and carrying her to the couch. She was so thin, gaunt even. Was this a recent occurrence? Or had the ravages of recent years wrought this damage upon the girl he used to know? Sitting carefully so as not to disturb her, he rested her gently in his lap and was surprised when she shifted, her knees pulling up tightly as she curled into his embrace, her face buried against his chest, her tears continuing to soak his shirtfront as he quietly offered what consolation he could.

He wondered how they had come so far in little more than a handful of years. So much had happened; they had both lost so much, not the least of which was their innocence. He ran soothing circles across her back pulling her closer against his chest as he closed his eyes and fought the urge to give voice to the derisive snort sounding in his mind. Innocent? Him?

Well, when he thought about it… In a way, yes!

He had gone to Sunnydale, to the slayer, with new resolve, after a hundred years of torment and guilt. He had been filled with ideals, with the innocence of new-found principles. She had been his vision, his purpose. He had been, in effect, newly shriven, washed clean of a century of torpor and ambivalence, of wallowing hopelessly in self-pity with no effort made to redeem himself of the sins and cruelties of his former existence. That was until Whistler had dragged him out of the gutter, showing him the sweet vision of purity and innocence that was to change his life forever; setting his feet firmly on the road to redemption.

“I don’t know how to go on,” she mumbled against his chest, her words pulling him from his musings and back to the present and the deeply wounded girl in his arms. She lifted her eyes, to meet his; eyes that had once shone with life and innocence, were now bruised and haunted with the pain and grief of too many battles fought and too many loved ones lost. “There was always the fight, I had to be strong. Even after… after you...” She swallowed hard against the lump in her throat as she recalled the pain of having sent the man she loved to hell. “After Acathla,” she muttered quietly. “There was always the mission, I had a job to do and I had to be strong, people depended on me.” He nodded his encouragement, his hands stroking soothingly once more across her back as she continued, “Now, there are all the new slayers, and Faith. I’m done; I know that. I told Giles, I’m out. At least for now. I just can’t do it any more. I’m twenty-two years old and I feel like I’m a hundred. The trouble is I don’t know what else to do, or how to do it. I think about things I would like to do, and they all include him. They are all about the things I never really dreamed we would get the chance to do. And now we never will.”

She had heard about Cordelia, some mystical accident or something had put her in a coma and she wasn’t expected to wake up. Buffy offered him a watery smile before snuggling back against his chest, seeking comfort in the shelter of his embrace; allowing him to be strong for her, to be her rock. “How do you do it?” she asked quietly. “How do you get up and face each day?”

“One day at a time,” he ventured softly, running his fingers gently through her hair, his body rocking fractionally in an instinctive attempt to soothe. “It’s all any of us can do. And I’ll be here, if you need me... you know, if you need a friend. I’ll always be here for you, Buffy.”

Long minutes passed in silence, her breathing evened out and her heartbeat slowed until he was sure that she had drifted off. He was in the process of trying to work out how to get her upstairs and into the comfort of a bed without waking her when she stirred, lifting her face once more from his chest to brush a soft kiss against his cheek. “Thank you,” she murmured before climbing out of his lap. “I should be going. Dawn…”

“Of course,” he agreed. “I’ll walk you out.” He hurried across the room and after picking up the phone and quickly ordering a car and driver, gathered up her coat and purse from where they rested on his desk. “If ever you need anything…”

She nodded, offering him a sad, haunted smile as she slipped into the coat he held open for her. “I’ll remember.” She reached up, cupping his face tenderly. “You too, if you ever…”

He nodded silently, and resting his hand lightly against the small of her back he escorted her down to the waiting car.

Buffy paused, her hand still resting on his where he’d helped her into the car. “Angel,” she began, her eyes finding his. “Spike was wrong about something,” she commented quietly, her voice hitching slightly.

His brow creased as he looked at her inquiringly, waiting a moment as she composed herself before she continued, “We are friends, and I hope we always will be.”

He smiled at her words and, strangely, also at the memories they conjured. “Yeah, me too.” He waited until she was settled comfortably and closed the door, waving goodbye as the car disappeared out of sight. Me too he thought once more as he turned and made his way back inside the building.

the end