Part 2

"What were you going to say?" Angel asked with a smile.

"Oh, nothing important. I better start telling you some stuff though, cause if you're helping to research you might end up having to talk with the gang about stuff. So you better know what we all think happened these past four years."

Angel leaned back against the footboard of her bed, pulling his legs up with him. It reminded Buffy, strangely, of a small child sitting down to hear a story from their parents. She grinned inwardly at the image as she pulled one of her pillows out to place it on her lap. Leaning forward onto it, she asked. "So, where should we start?"

"Well, when did Dawn first find out that you were the Slayer? Was it when your mom found out?" Angel asked her.

"Oh, no. It was actually much earlier. Do you remember that night you slept on my floor?" Buffy asked, turning slightly red at the memory.

"When we faced The Three?" Angel smiled at the memory. It had been the first time they kissed, before she even knew he was a vampire.

"Yeah, well....."

"Angel?" Buffy called out softly as she entered her room that night after dinner. He faded out of the shadows and came closer to her. "I brought you some dinner. It's a little plateless, sorry."

Angel looked at it oddly, but didn't say anything.

"So, what did you do all day?"

"I read a little." Angel said, glancing at her dresser and then turning his attention back to her. "And I did some thinking. Buffy, I really..." Buffy looked at her dresser when he did, noticing not the Emily Dickinson book she still had from her disaster with Owen, but noticing her diary, which sat off to one side.

"You read my diary? A diary is a person's most private thing, how could you...."

"Buffy, I didn't..." Angel tried to stop her but she wasn't listening.

"Hunk can mean a lot of things, bad things. And when it says that your eyes are penetrating, I meant to write bulging. And "A" doesn't even stand for Angel for that matter, it stands for Achmed, a charming foreign exchange student, so that whole fantasy part has nothing to even do with you and...."

"Buffy!" Angel finally managed to catch her attention. "Your sister was trying to read your diary, but I don't think she could find the key. She just tossed the book there in disgust; I watched from the closet. I didn't read it, I swear."

"Oh." Buffy felt better, realizing he hadn't read it. Then she realized she had given him a pretty good Cliffs Notes version. "Oh...." Why couldn't the ground open and swallow you up when you really needed it to?

"Look, Buffy I've done a lot of thinking, and I really can't be around you anymore." Angel continued, trying to ignore what her confession had done for his heart.

"Hey, that's no big. Water over the bridge..." Buffy tried to pretend it didn't matter to her. Wait, she thought, that's not right.

"Because when I am..." Angel continued.

"Under the bridge, over the dam..." She corrected herself.

"All I can think about is how badly I want to kiss you."

"Kiss me?" She suddenly cut off her rambling as his words registered.

"I'm older than you, and this can't ever....I should go." Angel said softly, yet he made no move towards the door. He only stepped closer to her.

"How much older?" Buffy asked, slightly breathless, as she stood right in front of him.

He didn't answer, just leaned his head down and captured her lips in a gentle kiss. The kiss turned passionate very quickly, so passionate that neither of them heard the door opening, nor did they hear the startled gasp of a young girl.

"Angel, what's wrong?" Buffy asked a moment later, as Angel pulled back from her and averted his face. He turned to face her, his eyes yellow and his face deformed into that of a vampire. Buffy screamed. Behind her, she heard another scream and turned to see Dawn standing in the doorway. By the time she turned back to Angel, grabbing a stake from her dresser, he had vanished out the window.

Dawn still stood there in shock, unable to comprehend what she had seen.

Suddenly Joyce rushed into the room. "What happened?" She asked, gathering

Dawn to her and putting an arm around Buffy as well.

"Nothing." Buffy said with a glare at Dawn that told the younger girl to keep silent. "It was just a really, really big bug. I smashed it though, don't worry."

Joyce didn't look convinced, but she left the room nonetheless, after making sure that both girls planned to go to bed soon.

As soon as she left, Dawn pulled the door closed and locked it. "What was that?"

Buffy only sighed. "That was a guy I thought I could fall in love with."

"But, what was wrong with his face?" Dawn asked, still scared by it.

Buffy realized that there was no way out of this one. Her sister had seen a few vamps before, but never close enough that Buffy hadn't been able to reason her way out of it. Now she knew she had no choice.

"You can't tell Mom." Buffy said quietly.

"Tell her what?"

"What I'm about to tell you." She answered. "It has to do with that guy, but even more so it has to do with me. With who I am, and why I'm always getting into so much trouble."

"So, it's like a secret?" The ten-year-old looked impressed.

"It's such a big secret that Mom can never know. No matter what. Can you promise me that?"

Dawn held out her hand, pinkie out. "Pinkie-swear." She said, her face totally serious.

Buffy linked her pinkie with her sister's for a moment, then sat them both down on the bed.

"Well, it's kinda like this...."

"That's actually pretty close to how it happened." Angel said with a small smile.

"Well, I obviously didn't talk with Dawn afterwards, but..."

"But pretty much everything we said was the same. I said that your mother had moved your diary when she was straightening up, but that's about the only thing that's different."

Buffy let a small grin come to her face. "I'm glad. It really bothers me to know how much my memory could be messed up. But I'm happy that part really happened at least." She admitted.

"So am I." Angel reached out to take her hand, and just held it for a second. Then he quickly dropped it as they both averted their eyes. And they had been doing so well so far at not bringing up that kind of stuff, they were keeping it strictly business.

"So, um, let's see. What else could affect you..." Buffy brought the conversation back around to the topic at hand. "When I came back for Junior year after my summer in L.A., remember that night at the Bronze? Well...

"Buffy?" Dawn asked as she sat at the table with her sister and her older friends.

"What?" Buffy really hadn't wanted to bring her, but with her mom out of town for a few days she couldn't leave her home alone.

"Aren't you going to say hi to Angel?" Dawn asked with a grin. "I mean, after he came to your room last night to welcome you back, I would think that..."

"Xander, let's dance." Buffy suddenly stood up and cut her sister off.

Dawn looked crushed as the boy she liked followed the Slayer out onto the floor. Buffy grinned maliciously, knowing she was making both Dawn and Angel upset.

Buffy saw her sister walk over to where Angel lurked in the shadows, and was trying valiantly to pretend that her display wasn't affecting him. She watched as they exchanged a few words, Dawn no doubt commenting on how much her sister had changed since she came back from L.A.

"Did I ever thank you for saving my life?" Buffy tried her best to ignore everyone's stares and she slid up behind Xander, breathing into his ear.

"Don't you wish I would?" She quipped as she walked away from him, grabbed her bag from the table, and marched out the door.

She had just finished her run in with Cordelia when Dawn marched up behind her, Angel in tow.

"What is the matter with you?" Dawn yelled at her sister. Angel looked very much like he wished he could be somewhere else. Buffy wondered how Dawn had gotten him to come.

"Nothing." Buffy burst out. "I'm fine, just fine."

"Buffy..." Angel started out softly.

"I'm FINE!" Buffy yelled as she took a step away. She turned to Dawn. "Get one of my friends to take you home. I need to patrol." And with that, she marched away.

"It's like she's not even my sister anymore." She heard Dawn say as she was leaving.

"No, she is." Angel's soft voice could be heard to say. "It's just that she's the Slayer too. And that's a huge burden for a girl her age to have to carry."

Buffy almost paused in her stride as she realized he understood what she was going though, but then shook her head and continued walking. She was so afraid of being close to any of them, knowing that she could die at any moment. If she didn't have friends they couldn't be hurt by her dying.

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