Part 3

"You still have this?" Buffy asked Angel as he removed his heavy coat.

He shrugged. "I own it," he replied.

Seeing that he wasn't too talkative on the subject, Buffy decided to drop it and concentrate on more immediate problems. "What the hell was that thing?"

"Something you couldn't fight on your own."

"It flew," she stated. "A demon that flies. A giant bat..." She shook her head. "A dinosaur?"

"A Klaraph."

"I don't care about its name," Buffy replied. "It flew! I mean, I've seen some strange things, but... flying?"

Angel took her hands gently, trying to calm her, then withdrew and walked to the other side of the room. He started to rummage through some of the drawers. "I know I must've left something around here..." he muttered.

As Buffy looked around at their situation, she realized it looked familiar. "Deja vý..." she commented.

Angel stopped going through the drawers and glanced at her. He held her eyes for several more moments until, abruptly, she sneezed. He blinked and removed his stare from her to go back to the drawers. "Ha!" he cried. "Here."

Buffy smiled gratefully as he brought over to her a pair of old boxers and a T-shirt. "They've been here for some time, but if you don't mind..." Angel started.

"As long as I can get out of these," she gestured to her outfit, "I'm fine."

"Okay," Angel said softly, once again lost in her gaze. The sound of thunder from outside tore his eyes away from hers and he walked to the window. "It's getting pretty heavy out there," he commented.

"It is," Buffy replied. "Do you have a phone?" She walked over the bed and set the clothes down. "We have to let them know we're okay."

"I haven't exactly been paying the bill," Angel said apologetically. "No phone, sorry." He turned around to face her again and noticed she was now shirtless. Reluctantly averting his eyes, he muttered again, "Sorry."

Buffy shrugged as she pulled the T-shirt on. "Not like you've never seen me naked before, anyway," she replied. She leaned over and began to remove her pants so that she could pull on the boxers. "This apartment sure has some memories..."

For the second time that night, Angel found himself wondering where the statement had come from and was reminded of the scent he had felt at the park before. Could it be possible that she was being affected by some sort of spell? She was saying things that she would normally never say...

"Doesn't it?" Her voice brought him back from his thoughts.

"Are you okay?" he asked her.

"What?" Buffy asked, now once again fully dressed. "Of course I am."

Angel shook his head. "You don't seem okay. Maybe you should get some sleep..."

"Right," Buffy said sarcastically. "Sleep. Anything else you want me to do? Is everyone done giving orders now?"

"Buffy, what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong!" Buffy cried. "I'm sorry, okay? But I don't like it when everyone's telling me what to do. No one has a right to do it. Not my mother, not Giles, not my friends, and least of all you! You gave up that right when you decided you weren't good enough for me." The last sentence was whispered as she uttered a sob. "And you left me..."

Angel stood shocked at her words. "I was only trying to do what I thought was right..."

"Right," Buffy sobbed. "Right, right, right. Always trying to do the noble thing. Always trying to be the mature one, the one in control, the one to do the right thing. Well, news flash! You weren't right! Okay? You weren't..."

Angel was by her side in an instant, gathering her up in his arms and letting her sob against his chest. Slowly, he sat down on the bed, holding her to him. She continued her speech, now muffled against his chest. "Riley's a nice guy. He can fight... kinda. And he's thoughtful and human. He knows who I am and he accepts it and helps out. But he's not you. And I am so tired of people pressuring me into doing stuff I don't want to do. He's not you! He's thoughtful, but no one can be more thoughtful than you. He can accept who I am, but he'll never know what's it like. He'll never understand me like you do..."

Bowing his head, Angel pressed a kiss against her head. "Shhh," he whispered. "Don't talk, just..."

"I have to!" Buffy pulled away from his chest and looked into his eyes. Even with tear stained cheeks and red-eyes, she still looked beautiful. "I have to," she whispered. "And anyway, what kind of a name is Buffy Finn?"

Angel laughed.

"I love that sound," Buffy said. "I don't hear it too often."

He held her gaze for several more moments and then sighed, looking away. "So," Angel began, "did you say all you had to say?"

Buffy lowered her head again. "Yeah, and boy did I say. I'm sorry, I have no idea where all of that came from."

"So you didn't mean it?"

"No, I definitely meant it," Buffy told him. "I just hadn't realized I was feeling all that until now."

"I think I know what it might've been," Angel answered. "I should talk to Giles about it..."

Outside lightning crackled the sky, lighting up the room, and thunder boomed.

"We won't get to do that until later," Buffy said, grabbing his chin and pulling his head toward her. "Kiss me."

Feeling powerless against the tiny Slayer, he complied, lowering his head down to capture her lips with his own. After several moments, he realized where they were and what their situation was, and found himself acting out an earlier, similar situation from their lives. "Buffy, we really shouldn't..."

"Angel," she whispered against his lips.

The sound of his name coming from her lips was enough to make him forget what was happening. He pushed her back against the pillows and continued to kiss a trail down her neck...

******

"Damn it! It isn't working!"

Christian shoved the table against the wall in anger. Some of those around him cowered in fear as his vampire visage surfaced. He growled. "Angelus' soul remains intact. It wasn't supposed to be like this."

No one dared to answer him as he continued his tirade, though the pacing back and forth angrily was beginning to make them dizzy. Abruptly, the door swung open to reveal a small, winged demon. It's brown, scaly skin glistened in the glare of the lamps in the high ceiling. Barely three feet tall, the demon looked intimidating as it stood waiting for Christian to cease his pacing.

"What?" Christian bellowed as he glared at the Klaraph.

Not even flinching, the Klaraph simply cocked his head to the side. "I did what you asked," it rasped. It's strange, seemingly synthetic voice was enough to make anyone's skin crawl. "I chased them away just as the rain started."

Christian narrowed his eyes at the demon. "And it didn't even work. His soul is intact."

The Klaraph spread his wings as a sign of surprise. "Perhaps the curse takes some time to work it's effect..."

Christian snorted. "Right. Time." He laughed, the sound resembling that which a maniac would make. Immediately, he sobered again. "We have no time. Time is not on our side, and if Angelus does not lose his soul, the Slayer has one more being on her side."

"It is not of my fault," the demon replied, "that the curse is no longer in effect. I will still get my payment..."

"You will get nothing if the job is not done!" Christian said sharply, cutting the Klaraph off. "You're lucky I'm letting you live. Go. Do something useful. And don't... fail me... again." He spoke the words slowly, making sure to emphasize they're meaning.

"I did not fail. I did what you--" the demon trailed off as Christian took a menacing step forward. "My apologies." It bowed it's head and took a step back. "I shall not fail again, Master."


Part 4

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