Author: Yseult deBreton
SPOILERS: Everything up to "Chosen" (BtVS) and "Home" (Angel)
SUMMARY: Futurefic. "Love is not a victory march… it's a broken hallelujah".
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The lyrics are from Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and are in italics.
DEDICATION: To Alley. It's not the B/A fluffy smut I promised but I hope you like it anyway. DATE OF COMPLETION: 13 June 2003
DISTRIBUTION: Yseult's Passion. If you're interested, just ask.
DISCLAIMER: Pfffft. Yeah. Right. Next?
FEEDBACK: Way better than cookie dough (but not as good as sex). Send it to Yseult
Well, baby, I've been here before I've seen this room and I've walked this floor. You know I used to live alone before I knew you.
"Where are you?"
"Ireland." There was sadness in her voice. She sounded lonely. "We've been here for five days. I tried to call, but you weren't there."
Angel had been working a case. Faith had given him the messages, but Buffy hadn't left a phone number.
The long stretch of crinkling silence was broken by Angel's yearning question. "How does she look?"
"Beautiful, Angel. You never told me how beautiful it was. And green. Everything's green here. Green hills, green fields, even the cemeteries look green. But they've got this problem with rain. It keeps falling."
Angel smiled. Trust Buffy to inspect the graveyards no matter where she went. "If you were looking for cemeteries, there are plenty around here. You didn't need to go so far away." He glanced at her latest postcard. It was a picture of the Tower of London. "Why are you in Ireland anyway? Aren't you supposed to be shopping at Harrod's with my credit card?"
Buffy's giggled like the teenager she used to be. "Please. Shopping with Wesley is not my idea of shopping. Besides," she added quietly, "I wanted to see where you grew up. I asked him to show me."
"Oh." Angel set the postcard on his desk. "So, you're in Galway?"
He turned off the desk light and sat in the darkened room. "Tell me where you went, what you saw." From across the ocean Angel heard the sound of a cup clinking against a saucer and the crackle of a fire. "Tell me where you're staying. What can you see outside the window?"
Buffy described the inn in detail. She told him about the shops, the taverns, the farms, the roads, the people, the music, and the smells of his homeland.
Angel let Buffy's voice wash over him. Occasionally he asked her a question or commented on something she said. He was content just to listen to her. He had tried very hard not to think about her, to concentrate on his job. But each postcard had been another knife wound. She had left to find other Slayers, to rebuild the Council with Giles and Wesley, to find herself. She had been gone four long years. He missed her.
He interrupted her awed description of Irish lacework. "Buffy, when are you coming home?"
"Not yet." It was the answer she always gave him.
Well, there was a time when you let me know What's really going on below But now you never show that to me do you
She called two weeks later just after daybreak. Angel was dragging himself to bed after a long and filthy fight with a sewer-dwelling demon. He almost didn't answer the phone.
"Where are you?"
"Still in Ireland. I think I maxed out your credit card. Hope that's okay." Her soft laughter erased any anger he might have felt.
"Ireland's not that big, Buffy. What's left to see? Or buy for that matter?" Angel had nearly choked when he'd opened the latest Visa bill. How one woman could spend that much on clothes was beyond him. Cordy had been only too happy to explain. She'd even offered to demonstrate with one of his other credit cards.
"All kinds of stuff, Angel. I had to get something for Dawnie and Willow and Cordy and Faith…" He could hear paper bags rustling as she rifled through her purchases.
"Tell me you got something for yourself." Angel settled against the headboard and yawned into the phone. "I'm sorry. I had a long night."
"Faith beat you at poker again? I don't know why you let her play. She cleans you out every time. Wait. There's someone at the door. Don't go anywhere." Angel listened as the murmur of sounds swelled until he could recognize Wesley's voice.
"Hello, Angel. How are you?" Wesley sounded the same. It had also been four years since Angel had seen him "Wes, why are you still in Ireland?" the vampire demanded testily.
"I'm fine. Thank you for asking." It took more than a grumpy vampire to rattle the former Watcher. "We've been looking for something. Which we found. So now, I think, we can go home?" Angel assumed that Wesley was checking with Buffy. "Well, I'm going home. Is everyone well there?"
There was more idle chitchat before Wesley handed the phone back to Buffy. By that point, Angel's eyes were closing and he was seconds away from a deep sleep.
"Aren't you going to ask me?" Buffy's voice pulled him back from the brink.
"Ask you what?" Angel opened his eyes. He had no idea what she was talking about. He tried to remember what he and Wesley had been discussing but was equally unsuccessful.
"What you always ask me."
He shrugged although he knew she couldn't see it. "When are you coming home?"
"Tonight, Angel. My flight arrives at 8:06 P.M. Pick me up?"
Maybe there is a God above But all I've ever learned from love Is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
Buffy's flight was delayed by thunderstorms. By the time the plane landed, Angel had already consumed two large cups of coffee. He was about to drink his third cup when it literally disappeared from his hands. He glanced around and was rebuked by Willow's glare.
"Guess I'm a little nervous," he volunteered. Willow shook her head in exasperation and returned to her novel.
Angel was a lot nervous. Four years ago Buffy had battled The First. She had sent him away from Sunnydale, but not before telling him about Spike. Then she had shown up in LA with Slayers (plural), Giles, Willow, Xander, and Faith. When Angel had asked about Spike, Buffy had answered, "He did what he was supposed to do."
Buffy had stayed in LA long enough to work out the logistics of training, feeding, and housing the Slayers. She maintained a guarded distance from Angel. He respected her silent request. One night she found him in the courtyard tearing out the night-blooming jasmine. She had placed a hand on his arm and said, "Tell me." They sat on the roof of the Hyperion until the sky began to lighten. Just before dawn, they had kissed passionately. Angel had told her that he loved her. "Forever?" she had asked. She had left LA that day and joined Giles in London. Angel had thought his heart was going to break again.
The first year that she was gone, she sent him postcards from every place she visited. She called and spoke to Dawn or Willow or Faith or Xander. She never asked for or about him.
The second year, on Buffy's birthday, Angel tried to bribe Dawn with a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive. Dawn let him go through his entire spiel before calmly pulling a piece of paper out of her pocket. "It's her birthday, Angel. Just because she's stubborn doesn't mean I am too. All you had to do was ask me for the phone number. I would've given it to you."
During the third year, there were several phone calls. The conversations were mostly stilted and awkward. She sent him pictures of her in different places. Buffy at the Pyramids. Buffy at the Acropolis. Buffy at the Kremlin.
Now, Angel's long distance bill was horrendous. His credit card bill wasn't far behind either.
Dawn patted Angel's arm and pointed to a blonde woman with a luggage cart. He stood and watched her glide towards them. Willow and Dawn squealed and ran into Buffy's open arms. There was a tangle of hugs and kisses as the women said "Hello." When it seemed safe, Angel stepped closer.
Buffy released Dawn and looked into Angel's face. "I'm here," she said and smiled.
"I can see that," he said. Angel didn't know what to do. He would have done nothing except Dawn shoved him at Buffy.
"Geez, Angel, give her a hug already."
"We've been trying to work on his people skills, Buffy. Really. He's not usually this slow." Willow chimed in.
Angel gave Buffy what he thought was a "friend" type of hug.
She raised one eyebrow and said, "I came all the way back here for a wimpy hug? I could've gotten that from Wesley." Buffy cupped her palm to Angel's face. "I'm here," she repeated softly. "I'm not going anywhere."
Angel covered her hand with his and felt the familiar outline of a claddagh ring. He gave Buffy a quizzical look.
"I found what I was looking for. It was time to come home."
Remember when I moved in you And the holy dove was moving too And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
"So," said Angel as he watched Buffy unpack. "Did you like Ireland?"
Buffy tucked several sweaters in a drawer. "Yes. I think I would have liked it even more if it had quit raining for five minutes." She closed the drawer and sat next to him on the bed. "I'm glad I went. Wesley took me to all the places you'd told him about."
"Before or after I became a vampire?" asked Angel bitterly.
She laced her fingers with his. "Both. I wanted to know where you came from, what you saw, the places you went to. I know I'm like 250 years late, but… Angel, you know all about me. You were there for all the important parts of me. I wanted to know about you."
"Buffy, why didn't you ask me? I would've told you."
"Like you told me about Connor and Jasmine and Cordy? If I hadn't gone out in the garden that night, I still wouldn't know about them, would I?"
Angel bent his head. It was the truth. Lying wouldn't change it. His fingers played with her claddagh ring. "Why this?"
Buffy leaned against his arm. "I lost everything when Sunnydale got sucked into the Hellmouth. All I had of you was my memories."
"But I'm right-"
She shushed him. "Poor Wes. I must have dragged him into every jewelry store in Ireland before I found one that looked just like the one you gave me." Buffy kissed his fingertips. "I know I told you that I needed to find me, but I think I needed to find you too."
"Buffy, I've always been right here. You know that." Angel lay back on the bed and pulled her with him. Buffy's head rested on his chest. Her fingers traced his collarbone.
"Angel, tell me what's changed with us."
He twirled her hair in his fingers. "Changed? I don't understand the question."
"What's changed? I'm still a Slayer. You're still a vampire. One of us can't do happiness." Buffy sat up. "One of us is not doing happiness, right?"
Angel grimaced. "You say that like it's a bad thing if we can be happy."
Buffy sighed dramatically. "Okay which part of 'happy Angel equals evil Angelus' do you not remember?"
Angel swiftly rolled them so that Buffy was pinned beneath him. "I remember all of it. Do you really think I can ever be perfectly happy again?" He caught the distressed look in her eyes. "Wait. That didn't come out right. What I meant to say is, you make me happy. You do. Just being with you is… I'm happy. But perfect happiness? Without Connor, perfect happiness is elusive. It doesn't exist for me. Not anymore."
He scanned her face for signs of acceptance. When he found it, he relaxed his suddenly tense body.
"So you're saying what exactly?" Her smile was just a little flirtatious.
"I'm saying," answered Angel. He watched her smile get bigger and bigger. "I'm saying this." He kissed her as if she was 17 again and the world could never hurt them. When they broke apart, Angel's grin matched hers.
"I like how you said that. Could you say it again?"
And love is not a victory march It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
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