Chapter 1: The End
“Buffy? What are you doing here?” Angel was shocked to see her on his doorstep, after not speaking to her for almost a year.
“Saving the world,” she answered with a smile. It was a cold, hesitant smile. She wasn’t sure how he would take her appearance. “Heard you were facing an apocalypse, and you know me—I can’t back down from a challenge.”
That was the Buffy he knew—and loved. Always loved... That was something he had learned would never change. He knew that he should never have left her; knew that he should have taken the chance they had to be together when it had been offered to him. He knew that he should have been stronger, should have been more confident in both his and her feelings, but it was too late now. He would just have to settle for embracing each day, each moment, spent with her as it came.
He smiled at her. “I’m glad that you are here.”
“So...where can I drop my bags, and how soon can you fill me in on all the details?”
“You can use the room adjoined to mine. It’s one of the only few that is livable in this hotel,” he said quietly, almost embarrassed to admit how little he had invested in the restoration of the building. “That is, if you don’t mind us being this close. I mean, um...the adjoining door can be locked.” He was stunned to realize that he was stammering. What was wrong with him? Had he really grown so uncertain of her?
“I don’t mind, Angel.”
She let the overnight bag she was carrying drop to the floor and walked confidently toward him. When she was standing as close as she could without actually touching him, she paused and looked up at him.
“Can I give you a hug?” she asked in a whisper.
His arms wrapped around her even before his lips could murmur, “Of course.”
It felt so good to hold her, basking in her scent and her warmth. Sometimes, when he held her tight, he could swear he felt his own heart beginning to beat. He buried his nose in her hair and breathed in deeply.
“I’ve missed you,” she whispered.
“I’ve missed you, too,” he answered.
They both knew and heard the words that neither one of them spoke aloud.
I love you.
I need you.
I want you.
He took her to her room, the one that was just one door away from his, and tried to quiet down his inner desires. He wanted to touch her, to kiss her, to caress her. He wanted to taste her in every way possible.
She saw the desire in his brown eyes and felt heat spread through her body. She had been so cold in the past year since she had last seen him, since she had last touched him. They rarely spoke, and Angel still hadn’t overcome his aversion to technology, so there had been no emails exchanged between the two either.
They looked at each other for several long moments, just taking in each other’s presence, and in the next heartbeat, they were locked in a desperate embrace, both aware that the world might very well end in less than a week. Neither wanted to waste what was probably their last chance to be together.
Their clothes almost fell off of their bodies of their own accord. Neither remembered undressing their partner, but as soon as their skin touched, they could not care less about it. Angel pulled her toward his room, his bed, all the while never breaking the kiss. No one kissed like Buffy. She put in all of her passionate nature, all of her hunger and lust, into the kiss. He moaned into her mouth as she caressed his tongue with hers, and he didn’t suppress his growl when she buried her fingers in his hair.
He was cold, especially against her overheated skin. She could feel her breasts growing painfully aroused as she pressed herself against his cold chest. Their movements were desperate, and it reminded her of the one night of passion she had been gifted with—the night of her seventeenth birthday. However, unlike that night, this time she was more confident, more familiar with both his body and hers. She took as much as she gave, and she didn’t even think about hiding how good he made her feel.
Angel lowered his head to her neck, nuzzling in the soft skin of her throat and licking just above her pulse. Her heart was beating frantically fast, and as she arched upwards, he could not hold his demon inside him. He was no longer ashamed of his demon; he no longer feared that she would reject him in his true face.
His name on her lips was no more than a sigh, a breath, but it was everything to him. He had cherished every moment he had ever had with her in his arms, and this night was no different. He forced himself away from the temptation of her throat and gave in to the temptation of her full breasts, suckling on each breast gently at first, and then more eagerly, before taking almost an entire globe into his mouth.
“That feels so...oh, God, Angel, right there...so good,” she moaned, holding him tightly against her and scraping his scalp slightly.
His mouth could always work magic on her body. Before their first and only night together, they had experimented, and she had learned that the vampire she loved was very gifted with both his mouth and his hands. Those very hands were now traveling down her body, caressing her sides and hitching her legs up, his long fingers teasing her every spot.
She loved everything he did to her, loved how he could play her like a fine-tuned violin played by the world’s most talented musician. Every pass of his tongue on her skin, every touch of his fingers, every press of his body was like a symphony played on her body, and that symphony was accompanied by their moans, by her whimpering, by his growling.
I love you. He spoke to her in his touches, silently asking her to say the same.
I love you. She answered him with her entire body arching, her head rolling to the side, offering him complete submission, pleading him for complete dominance.
“I want to taste you so much,” he murmured, kissing his way up to the neck that she was so freely offering him, “but I can’t wait any longer. I need to be inside you.”
“Yes,” she whispered. “I want you.” She wrapped her legs around him, pushing him to join their bodies. “I need you.”
He could never truly refuse her, not when this was something he wanted more than he wanted to see the sun rise the next morning. In one swift move, he entered her, sheathing himself in her heat and groaning her name.
“Angel,” she breathed.
It felt so good to have him inside her, filling the emptiness that had been a part of her life for every single moment since the day he had walked away from her.
“I love you,” he whispered as he began to rock between her parted thighs. “I love you so much.”
His mouth sought hers, and he drank every sound that escaped her lips—both her whimpers and her moans.
Moving in a dance as old as time itself, the two lovers forgot about everything around them. The world might end soon, but at that moment, Angel and Buffy were in the only place where either one had ever felt happy and complete—in each other’s embrace.
Hours passed, but they did not want to stop. The prospect of losing each other was enough to keep Angel’s soul bound in his body, and for the time being, his demon was content with being joined with its mate, not caring about taking control of his body.
Angel knelt behind Buffy, his arms holding her upright and flush against him, while his hips moved to fill her with his body over and over again. Her head lulled on his shoulder, her throat exposed to him as she voiced her pleasure with moans and whimpers. He raised one hand to cup her breast and tugged lightly at its hardened peak. The other hand dipped lower, moving across the plains of her stomach to the moist curls that protected her sex, and he began rubbing her just above the place where they connected.
“Oh, my...Angel!” Buffy screamed, as the added pressure of his fingers served to bring her so much closer to heaven.
She was panting, barely aware of the constant litany of his name on her lips. Her entire being was too focused on her lover moving inside her, bringing pleasure to her body.
“Yes, my love,” he whispered, enjoying the sound of his name coming from her in short breaths. He was getting close to what would be his third or fourth release that night, and he wanted to take her with him one more time before he let her sleep. “Come for me, my love. I want to feel your muscles tighten around my hard cock.”
Buffy placed her hands over his, encouraging both the tugs on her nipples and the sweet madness that was the movement of his fingers between her folds. The crude words were just as much of a turn on as his thrusting inside her. Dirty talking Angel was something that she had only been exposed to on those very rare occasions when he had allowed himself to let go before they consummated their bond, and that had been much too long ago.
“I love feeling your cock fill me,” she said with a trace of a smirk.
She arched her back slightly, pushing her breast into his hands and her pelvis harder against him.
His answering growl caused her to smile again.
“Being with you is the best feeling in the world,” she whispered. “I never want to leave, never want us to stop.”
“I don’t ever want to let you go,” he answered in a hoarse whisper.
Threading their fingers together, he moved them up and down, feeling himself entering her body. His mouth found her neck again, as well as the mark he had left there so long ago—the mark that told every other vampire in the world that she belonged to him, forever.
Buffy felt his face shift, and she leaned her head further to the side, offering herself to him completely. The movement of their fingers between her legs, the combined pleasure of his hand and hers on her breast, and the anticipation that was rising as he nibbled on the most sensitive part of her neck—his mark—nearly drove her crazy.
“Please,” she begged.
He didn’t argue. He wanted to taste her. He thought that he probably should have argued, resisted, but he didn’t. His demon wanted to lay claim on his mate once again, and everything inside him screamed at him to take what she was offering. At any other time, he would have resisted, but the knowledge that this might be their last chance, his last chance, rendered him without the will to deny himself.
“I love you,” he whispered. You’re mine, his demon added in his thoughts.
“I love you,” she answered. “I’m yours. Forever.”
With another deep thrust, one that would have been painful to any human but the Slayer, he sank his fangs into her neck, over the previous mark, and felt his world explode.
“Angel,” she groaned as she felt him enter her in a way that only he ever had—in a way only he was ever allowed to—and her body fell over the precipice that she had been teetering on for the past several minutes.
He held her in a tight hug, her back against his chest, his body still buried inside her. He drank slowly, savoring every drop of her essence. He only ever came this strong when he was with her—and when her blood was added, he could have sworn he was seeing the gods themselves before his eyes. He felt her inner muscles tighten around him with every pull of his mouth at her neck. He felt her shiver in desire, and he basked in the wonderful sounds of her pleasure. If there was heaven for a creature of the night, it was in the arms of its lover.
At some point during the night, they finally succumbed to sleep. Curled together between the silken sheets of his bed, they didn’t part even in their slumber.
And they dreamed.
On previous nights that they had spent together, they had often shared dreams, but tonight was different. The Powers That Be seemed to have taken mercy on the Slayer, allowing her peaceful dreams. Their Souled Champion, however, was not so lucky. Angel’s dream could have easily been considered a nightmare, but it felt too real to be anything but a prophetic warning.
He woke up with a start shortly before dawn, panting and sweating. Had his heart been capable of beating, it would have been racing inside his chest. The world would not end in this apocalypse. Los Angeles would lie in ruins at the end of the battle, but the rest of the world would be none the wiser. The price would be one of the champions’ lives, and it was his choice which one it would be. It was cruel, leaving the decision in his hands, but when had the Powers been kind to him?
For Angel, there was no real choice. He would gladly sacrifice himself for her. He had done so in the past, and he would do it yet again. It would not be easy, but this time the price—Buffy’s life—was one that he could not afford to pay. He could die in peace, knowing that she continued on living. Her duties would not be a burden; Willow’s spell that had activated all of the potential Slayers in the world took care of that last year. More so, Buffy would have her friends to comfort her; she would not be alone
He wanted to scream. He wanted to hit something, to break something, to kill something—anything that might provide an outlet for the rage that was building inside of him. He wanted something that would ease the pain spreading through every cell in his body. He knew that he could easily find it outside in the streets, but he had no desire to shorten what was already not enough time with the other half of his soul, so he curled up closer to the only woman he had ever loved in his long life and committed everything about her to his memory.
Once, she had told him that death was her gift. Now, it was his turn to give her the gift of life.
“What do you mean you want me to leave?” she asked, stunned and hurt at his words.
“Buffy, do you remember what you told me when I came to see you a year ago?” He took her hand in his, looking into her pain-filled eyes.
“A second front,” she whispered.
“Yes, a second front.” He pulled her in for a hug, unable to maintain the distance between them, and she melted into his embrace, trying to hold in the coming tears. “You are the only one that I trust to have the strength...If I failed—” His voice cracked, and he feared he might not be strong enough to continue. After a long pause, he spoke again. “If I failed, you would be the only hope for this world.”
“I hate this,” she murmured into his chest, clutching the back of his shirt in her fists. “I hate this so much.”
“I know.” He held her in his arms, caressing her back gently in soothing, long passes. It was easier this way, not looking in her eyes, not giving her the chance to see the lie in his own.
Buffy stayed for several hours longer, helping him with preparing the weapons. Never one for research, it was the least she could do, the most would have been fighting alongside him, but she understood his reasoning—it was the same one she had used when he had come to help her defeat The First. When there was nothing more she could do, Angel walked her to her car and gave her one last kiss goodbye.
Neither spoke as they parted, looking into each other’s eyes instead.
I love you, they said to each other.
Stay safe, she pleaded with her gaze.
Goodbye. He could not say the word aloud, but he said it in his heart.
Buffy knew the very moment when Angel’s soul left this world. She was in the middle of a telephone conversation with Willow when her entire body froze, her stomach turned, and the most agonizing feeling of loss took over. It was as though her own soul was being torn from her body.
“Angel...” she choked, gasping for air. Her hand dropped the phone at the same time as her knees gave way and she crumbled to the floor. “No! No! No! Please no...Angel!”
Tears rolling down her cheeks, she curled into a ball on the cold floor. She could hardly breathe, couldn’t think, and when the darkness came, she welcomed it with open arms.
Chapter 2: Living After The End
Living After The End
When Buffy regained consciousness, she knew that nothing would ever be the same again. Angel had left before, but at least then she had known that he was still alive, still a part of this world, even if he wasn’t with her. This was different. This was final.
In the following days, Willow flew in from London, bringing Giles and Dawn with her, but no one could console Buffy or get her to talk. At first, she couldn’t stop crying. Then, she would go on for days without moving. Three weeks after the destruction of Los Angeles—and the death of Angel—Buffy finally spoke.
“I need to be alone,” she said to Dawn. “I know that you are the only one who can understand how I feel.”
“I think I do,” Dawn answered, watching as her big sister packed her clothes into a traveling bag. “I will miss you.”
Buffy paused and looked up at her little sister. She didn’t care that most of her memories of Dawn were planted; she loved her as a sister. Causing Dawn pain was the last thing Buffy wanted. She went over and hugged Dawn, and the two cried together.
“I loved him, Dawnie,” Buffy whispered, speaking about Angel for the first time in weeks.
“I loved him, too.”
There was very little said afterward as Dawn helped Buffy pack. Dawn would have Timothy, a brilliant and kind pre-med student in England, to turn to when she went back home. Buffy would have no one. It worried Dawn, but she understood her sister like no one else did. She knew that Buffy needed to handle some things on her own.
It was a sad but quiet goodbye as Dawn drove Buffy to the airport and watched her sister board a flight to Washington, DC. She wondered how long it would take Buffy to start dealing with Angel’s death. Unlike the rest of the Scooby Gang, Dawn knew that Buffy would love Angel forever and that there would never be any getting over him, just dealing with the reality of his absence. She would give Buffy a month, Dawn decided, and then she would come to see how she was doing, whether Buffy wanted her there or not. Dealing was one thing, but sinking into self-pity was another, and Dawn had no intention of allowing her sister to do that for long.
Buffy found a small cottage that she liked in one of the suburbs of Washington, DC. It was a small, two-story house with a gray-painted exterior and white shutters. It looked like many of the other houses on the street. It looked normal.
She felt uneasy at first, using money that Angel had left her to purchase the house, but after reading the letter he had left with his lawyer, she knew that she could not refuse him. She wanted to be angry with him for deceiving her, but she could not. He sacrificed himself to save her life, and she could not begrudge him for something that she would have done herself had she been in his shoes. He had wanted to take care of her, to allow him to give her this one last gift, and Buffy decided that she would not dishonor his memory by refusing to accept it.
Since the house was fully paid for, Buffy focused her thoughts toward decorating and furnishing it. It was easier to concentrate on small, mundane details than to allow herself to think about the gnawing pain that would rise to the surface each time she thought about Angel.
Washington was pleasantly calm in terms of the supernatural, and when Dawn came for a visit, both of them could relax for an entire week without having to mention the word vampire even once.
A month and a half after his death, Buffy felt that she might just survive being without him, but that would be all that her life would be: surviving. Buffy knew that the scar on her heart would never heal completely, but at least it was no longer a gaping hole in the middle of her chest.
She was on her way home from the store when she noticed that her quiet neighborhood was not so quiet anymore. Red and blue lights, sirens, and chatter filled the evening air as she walked to her front door. She heard the neighbors—all of whom she still didn’t know—saying something about a body that had been found and her ears perked up. Quickly unlocking the door and putting the groceries away, she stepped right back out into the street. A body was not something common in the quiet neighborhood, and after living for so long on the Hellmouth, every body found in her proximity immediately aroused her suspicion.
Buffy could see that there were a lot of FBI agents present, recognizing them easily by the three yellow letters written on the backs of their jackets. Something was up, she thought, as she watched a tall, thin woman, wearing what looked like a forensic plastic overall, and a man in a suit walk toward the house that was swarming with police.
She used the crowd to move closer to the scene of the crime—a house that was only five doors down from her own—without anyone stopping her. The police in DC proved to be much smarter than their colleagues in Sunnydale, so Buffy had to be careful in order to avoid being considered a suspect. Her sole interaction with the Sunnydale PD was enough to last her a lifetime or two, and she did not want a repeat performance.
Fifteen minutes later, all she had for her efforts was an overheard conversation stating that they had found a badly decomposed body in the basement of the house. It didn’t appear to be demon-related, and after hearing nothing pointing toward the supernatural, Buffy decided to let the police handle this one and went back to her house.
“So, Bones, what can you tell me about this guy?” Special Agent Seeley Booth turned to his partner, gesturing at the dead body that lay on the floor of the basement.
“Well, this ‘guy’ is a female, Booth.” Dr. Temperance Brennan was quick to correct him. Since she wasn’t looking up at him but at the body, she missed the eye roll that her words had earned her. “Late teens, early twenties,” she said as she examined the remains. “Level of decomp suggests that she’s been here for at least two years. Hodgins can be more definitive once he analyzes the insects.”
“Cause of death?”
“Undetermined at this point.” Brennan stood up and took off her latex gloves. “Send the body to—”
“The Jeffersonian,” he finished for her. “Already on it, Bones.” He used his charming smile on her, unable to resist the opportunity to tease her.
This time it was her turn to roll her eyes. “I told you not to call me ‘Bones’.”
“And I ignored you.” He smiled. “I’m going to go talk to the family that lives here. They moved in a few months ago, so your time of death crosses them off the list of potential suspects, but I still want to see what I can get from them. Would you like to join me?”
Brennan considered it for a moment, but then she decided that her presence was more valuable in the Medico-Legal lab in the Jeffersonian than in a routine conversation with the family that lived in the house where the body was found. “No, I’ll go with the body and see if I can give you some answers.”
“Okay, Bones. I’ll see you later.”
He tried his best to remain objective, but the loss of a life always touched a nerve, especially when it was someone so young.
Poor kid barely had a chance to live, he thought as he made his way toward the living room.
Booth was exhausted by the time he made it back to his apartment. There had been little progress made with the investigation. They were still unable to identify their victim, but at least Hodgins was able to confirm the time of death—two years, just like Bones had estimated. The cause of death was still undetermined, and the injuries the victim sustained were giving him a headache. She had a compound fracture to the left ulna and a green leaf fracture to the clavicle, both of which occurred perimortem—at the time of death. One could not work with Bones and not pick up a few terms, he thought with a faint smile. Allegedly, the victim’s death was a violent one—it would have taken great force to cause the injuries that she sustained—but there were no ligature marks, no defensive wounds, nothing. It was as though she was paralyzed or drugged at the time of her attack, but again—there was no evidence of either.
When Bones began listing names of vertebrae that had sustained some kind of damage as well, Booth felt his eyes glaze over. He had to stop her flow of words and remind her he did not speak Vulcan and that he would appreciate plain English. Bones was a great partner and an asset to the FBI, but there were times when he could swear she was from another planet.
Finally, Hodgins took pity on him and explained, “It looks like something very sharp punctured her jugular and went so deep that it left a mark on the vertebrae.”
“Can you determine what kind of weapon was used?” Booth asked.
“Just give me time.” Hodgins smirked in confidence.
“Good. Are we any closer to identifying her?” Booth looked at Bones again.
“I made a sketch of the girl.” Angela handed him the portrait. “I ran it through the Missing Persons database, but so far, no luck.”
“There were no old injuries or existing medical conditions that we could check either,” Zack volunteered.
“What about dentals?”
Angela shook her head. “No hits.”
“So, basically, we don’t know Jack,” Booth summarized.
Angela sighed. She knew that he wasn’t being intentionally rude, but the young age of the victim was taking its toll on him. “We are not magicians, Booth. Give us the time, and we’ll give you the evidence you need to catch whoever did this.”
“Fine.” Booth sighed. “Let me know when you have anything new.”
“I will,” Brennan said.
I need to stop beating myself over this case, Booth thought as he tried to shake away the memories of the day’s events. He pondered watching something on TV to distract him, but eventually he decided on a hot shower and an early night.
Crawling under the cool sheets of his bed, he checked once again that his gun was in the nightstand and within reach if needed and then turned off the night lamp and closed his eyes. It took only minutes before he was plunged into a world of dreams.
Six hours later, Seeley Booth woke up with a start. His heart pounding in his chest and sweat coming down his forehead, he gasped for air. For the life of him, he could not remember what he had dreamed, only that it was very violent. Taking several deep breaths, he pulled the covers away and headed for the shower.
Buffy looked at the headline of the newspaper and felt a shiver go down her spine. Washington, DC, was not Sunnydale, and when the mortality rate of the local youth was on the rise, people noticed. She had been following the papers ever since the body had been found two weeks ago in the house down the street from her. Nothing in the reports gave her any reason to, yet she was sick with worry.
Actually, I’m probably just plain sick, Buffy thought as another chill went down her spine. She hated being sick, and luckily, she was generally healthy, but ever since Angel’s death, she had been feeling her strength waning and her body betraying her. At first, she had attributed it to stress—Lord knows she had had a lot on her shoulders during the past month and a half—but as time went by and she hadn’t gotten any better, she began to worry. A sick Slayer could easily mean a dead Slayer, and while Buffy was not the only one anymore, she knew that she still had a target painted on her back when it came to evil.
Now it seems like I have more than just the demon kind of evil to worry about, she thought as she finished reading the article about the serial killer who was terrorizing the young population in the nation’s capital. Now I have to worry about the human kind as well.
Buffy pushed the paper aside and opened her laptop. Ever since the destruction of Sunnydale and Giles’s appointment as the new head of the Watchers’ Council, she found herself with a lot of free time on her hands. There was a Hellmouth in Cleveland, but Faith had taken it upon herself to guide the local Slayer—a position Buffy was all too happy to avoid. After living for so long in a place that was the center of mythical convergence, she was happy to get away from it. However, that did leave her with plenty of time and very little plans, so for the first time in the six years since she had been called, Buffy had a future to think about that did not include an approaching apocalypse.
Later that day, just as Buffy was coming back from her evening run, she was once again greeted with the sight of police cars and emergency services. She saw that this time they were further down her street, but there were FBI agents all over the place once again. The whispered murmurs—and the overheard conversation of two patrol officers—told Buffy that this was yet another victim of the serial killer. This time it was the body of a young girl who had disappeared three months ago from the local college campus. The officers’ conversation revolved around how gruesome the body looked, with rats and other insects attacking it.
The description, and the image that it had brought up in her mind, sent Buffy to the nearest bush, where she threw up everything she had inside her stomach. When the nausea finally passed, she slowly made her way home. Stripping as soon as she made it to her bathroom, she stepped inside the shower to, hopefully, wash away not only the dirt and sweat but also the images her mind kept conjuring.
Booth was frustrated. It was their ninth victim, and there were still no leads. The victims were all young girls between the ages of nineteen and twenty-one, but that was the only commonality. Everything else—race, appearance, environment, social circles—was different. Two of the victims had gone to the same dentist; three others had graduated from the same high school but in different years. One was married and had lived with her husband, two had lived with their families, two had lived with a boyfriend, and the other four had lived alone. There were so many variables that it was maddening to try to make sense of it all.
This last discovery was the most recent out of the nine victims. Seeley had seen some terrible things in his life, but the sight of rats eating away at the flesh of the petite blonde was especially hard to stomach, and he wasn’t sure why that was.
“Can you give an estimate of how long she’s been here?” he asked the coroner crouching next to the body.
“I would say she’s been here for no more than two weeks,” the coroner replied.
“Two weeks?” Booth lifted his gaze from his notepad. “So she wasn’t killed here?”
“It would seem so. It’s still early to tell, Agent Booth.”
“Okay, I’ll go talk to the neighbors and see if anyone saw something,” Booth said. “Send me your report when you’re done.”
Booth was glad to be walking out of the basement and the horror that it held. Two weeks ago, when the first victim was found, it had been one of the patrol officers who did the questioning while Booth talked to the family who owned the house where the body was found. This time, he decided to do it himself.
However, after talking to several neighbors, he learned that there wasn’t much they could tell him, and that left him frustrated. He had just one house left to visit, the furthest one from the crime scene, and Booth assumed that its residents wouldn’t know anything new either.
He knocked on the door and held his badge in his hand, ready to show it.
“Evening, ma’am. I’m Special Agent Seeley Booth from the FBI,” he introduced himself to the woman who opened the door. He was about to continue, but the look of shock on her face halted the words before they left his mouth.
“Angel?” It was nothing louder than a whisper, and he barely caught it.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” he asked when he noticed that with each passing moment that she stared at him, her color was growing paler.
Buffy couldn’t speak. She couldn’t move. It was Angel. Standing at the front door of her house was her soulmate, and he was looking at her as though he didn’t know who she was. A thousand questions swirled around in her mind as she tried to keep herself standing. After a few moments, she realized that he was talking to her, asking her if she was feeling well.
“Is this some kind of a joke?” she asked, trying to keep her tone curt, but her voice broke on the last word.
“I beg your pardon?” Booth was taken aback at the mix of anger, hurt, and what appeared to be a fierce sense of betrayal in her eyes.
“I thought you were dead!”
He blinked several times, unsure of how to respond to that. “I think you might be confusing me with someone else.”
“Confusing?” Buffy hated how small she sounded. This can’t be happening. She had dreamed about Angel often, but never had she imagined him appearing on her doorstep, acting as though he didn’t know her at all.
Booth could see tears forming in her eyes and suddenly felt the urge to hold her. “Why don’t we go in so we can sit down and talk?” he suggested. The girl—no, woman—standing before him looked as though she was about to faint.
For a moment, he thought that she might slam the door in his face, but she stepped aside in a silent agreement, and something akin to a challenge appeared in her gaze. He stepped into the house and followed her into the living room, noticing that her eyes never left him.
Buffy could feel the familiar tingle moving through her body when he stepped closer and came inside the house. He didn’t need an invitation to enter, and when she brushed her hand against his, he felt warm.
Whoever he might be, he is human. That much I’m certain of.
Buffy answered the agent’s questions in monotone—there was little she could tell him anyway—but her eyes kept watch on every minute movement of his body. She felt her heart breaking all over again inside her chest, and when he stood to leave, she wanted to scream after him to not walk away from her again. She had to bite her tongue so that she wouldn’t beg him to stay.
“If you remember anything that could be of use, here is my card.”
He handed her a plain white business card with his name and number written on it. When they reached the door, he paused.
“Are you going to be okay?” he asked.
It was hard enough that everything about him reminded her of Angel, but the worry in his last question was almost her undoing.
She nodded, hiding behind a blank mask. “I’m okay,” she lied.
Buffy called Willow as soon as she heard Angel—no, Agent Booth, she reminded herself—step away from her house. The tears were running freely down her cheeks, and the lump in her throat was so large that she was barely able to say anything other than, “Willow, I need you.”
The Wiccan was immediately alarmed. Buffy sounded almost as bad as she was right after Angel’s death.
“I’ll be there as soon as I possibly can.”
As Buffy collapsed in a pile of sobs, on the other side of the ocean, Willow rushed to pack an overnight bag for herself. She scrawled a short note to her roommate, saying that she was going to visit a friend overseas, and flashed out of the door. Normal means of transportation were just too slow for the powerful Wiccan, so she turned to her coven sisters and asked for their assistance in teleporting her to the States.
An hour after receiving the call from her friend, Willow was knocking on Buffy’s front door. She thought about just going in, but both her manners and the fact that surprising a Slayer might cost you your life stopped her from reaching for the handle.
The tear-filled devastation on Buffy’s face was something Willow never wanted to see again. It was as though Angel had died all over again.
Buffy cried for what seemed like hours while Willow just held her, not really knowing what had brought on this sudden breakdown.
Finally, at the wee hours of the night, Buffy’s tears seemed to have dried and Willow decided to risk asking her, “Feel like telling me what happened?”
“Angel...” Buffy whispered, digging her fingers into the pillow that she was holding. “I think...I don’t know what to think anymore.”
Willow stayed silent, allowing Buffy to get everything off her chest.
“There was a crime...a, uh, a murder in the neighborhood.” Buffy stared into space, seemingly lost in her memories. “This FBI guy came to my house to ask if I saw anything. Will,” she turned to look at her friend, “this guy could be Angel’s twin brother.”
Buffy nodded. “He looked so much like him that I thought it was him.” She sighed and leaned on Willow’s shoulder. “It wasn’t him. He didn’t even know me. Oh, Will, when he looked at me,” Buffy lifted her eyes to look at her friend, “it was like he had never seen me before. He kept calling me ‘ma’am’.” She laughed bitterly. “I was a complete stranger, and he was wearing the face of my soulmate.” She broke down in tears again, amazed that she still had more. “He even left a card...Oh, God, Angel...why did you leave me?”
It took another hour for Willow to convince Buffy to go to bed and get some sleep. Once her breathing leveled, Willow went back to the living room and picked up the business card lying there. So, Mister FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, it’s time to find out who you really are.
Seeley Booth was staring at the computer screen with a look of complete concentration on his face, but it wasn’t the serial killer’s case that had him sitting in his office until late in the day—it was one Buffy A. Summers. He couldn’t help but feel shaken to the core by her behavior. The betrayal and the desperation he had seen in her eyes amazed him, almost making him feel guilty about not being the person she thought he was, and if he were to be honest with himself, the glimpse of love and absolute devotion he had seen in her eyes when she spoke of Angel made him slightly envious. He had no doubt that whoever this Angel was—she loved him very much.
“But why did she think I was him?” he asked, only half-aware that he had done so aloud.
He debated with himself for several hours, pondering whether he should do a background check on her or not. She wasn’t a suspect; he didn’t really have a reason to look into her affairs.
There’s just something about her...
Eventually, his curiosity won, and he pulled out everything he could on her. There was not much to find, though. She was born in LA and moved to a small town by the name of Sunnydale after—
Burning down her high school gym?
He laughed, shaking his head as he read the details of that incident. He couldn’t fathom what had caused her to do such a thing, but he figured that everyone had their quirks when they were in high school.
He continued on to read the details of her time at Sunnydale High. She seemed to have been an average student; nothing popped out. There was the occasional skipping of a class, but that was pretty much that. He was skimming through the information when he came across a line that stated that her school had been destroyed after her graduation, and he found himself laughing again.
This girl really doesn’t have any luck when it comes to school, does she?
The reports continued to state that she went through one year of college at Sunnydale University before dropped out due to her mother’s illness. Upon her mother’s death, she was appointed sole custodian of her younger sister and took a position as a youth consultant at her old high school, which had been rebuilt by then.
There wasn’t much information after both girls left Sunnydale and moved abroad. The sister, Dawn Summers, was currently living in England and attending university. Buffy Summers first lived in Rome for several months, but a few weeks ago, she had bought a small house in Washington, DC, where she currently resided.
That was all that the initial check had told him, but his gut was telling him that there was more, so he dug a little further. He found that Sunnydale was destroyed in some kind of freak accident when a crater opened up just beneath the city and swallowed it whole. There were tons of conspiracy theories revolving around this event, and Booth had no doubt that if he were to ask Hodgins, he would hear plenty more. However, while most of the time he would have ignored the stories as those told by people who would believe in anything as long as they could blame it on the government, this time something didn’t sit well with him.
When every search he made brought up more and more conspiracy theories—each more outrageous than the last—he decided it was time to call in a favor, and he knew just the right people to ask.
The following day, he approached them in her office.
“I need a favor,” he said in a quiet tone to the two people standing there. “It’s something that’s completely off the record and possibly not very legal.”
“I’m in.” Hodgins was quick to agree.
“What is it, Booth?” asked Angela.
“I need your computer skills, Angela.” He handed her a piece of paper with the name Buffy Summers printed at the top. “Can you find everything there is to know about this person?”
“A woman?” Angela had a devilish smile on her face.
“Yes. It’s something that came up during a neighborhood sweep. Something about her doesn’t add up.”
“I smell conspiracy!” Hodgins announced, rubbing his hands together.
Booth chuckled. “I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy, Hodgins, only that something doesn’t smell right.” He handed Hodgins another note and said, “See if you can find out what happened here.”
“Sunnydale?” Hodgins frowned. There was something familiar about the name, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint where he had heard it before.
“Yes.” Booth nodded.
Angela looked up the woman in all the regular databases first. She knew that any information that she would have found there, Booth would have already seen, but she was nothing if not thorough, so she dug deeper.
“Hodgins?” she called when things started getting a little too weird for her.
Hodgins leaned over and peeked at the information showing on the screen. “Of course! Sunnydale!”
He was immediately shushed by both Angela and Booth.
“Sorry,” he said in a much quieter tone. “Sunnydale was said to be the place of a failed government experiment, and that whole crater story? Cover up! Allow me?” he asked Angela as he reached for the keyboard.
Loading up a web page, he said, “The story is that there were a lot of unexplained disappearances throughout the history of Sunnydale. Demons, werewolves, vampires...” He grinned at the screen, completely missing the eye roll that was exchanged between the two other people in the room. “...you name it. The government tried to get the supernatural creatures to work for them, but after an experiment went wrong, the operation was shut down and they disposed of anyone who knew anything about it.”
“Then how come you know something about it?” Booth asked, not even bothering to hide the sarcastic tone of his question.
“Well, it is the government.” Hodgins huffed. He scrolled down the site to a part that was titled “The Slayer” and paused there. “Personally, I think it’s a hoax, but some people claim that there’s one woman, called the Slayer, who, along with two powerful witches, stopped the experiment and killed the demon that the government created in an attempt to build the ultimate soldier.”
Hodgins turned, only to see Booth and Angela exchanging a doubtful glance.
“How much of this can actually be proven?” asked Booth. He was never one for conspiracy theories, but even he couldn’t deny that there was more to the whole issue than what the official version stated.
“Plenty!” Hodgins turned back to the website and loaded several sketches of something that appeared to be a cross between a man and a machine, with a lot of fantasy thrown in for good measure. “Their super soldier was reportedly called Adam. This,” he pointed at the sketches, “is what he looked like before the Slayer and her friends killed him. Apparently, there wasn’t much left after they were done with it.”
“So, you think this Slayer is real?” Angela asked, confused.
“Nah, like I said—hoax. I think it’s another cover story by the government. They never wanted to admit that one of their experiments had gone wrong and that they had to destroy it.”
Booth looked at the information on the screen and had to shake himself when he found himself wondering how much of it was true. Damn, Hodgins is getting to me!
“Well, it looks like your girl was somehow involved.” Angela closed the site that Hodgins had loaded and brought up her own search. “There isn’t much that I can access at the moment, but it looks like this person,” she loaded a picture of a young man, “Riley Finn, gave this report.”
Angela loaded an official-looking document, which Booth was certain she should not have been able to access—hell, he wasn’t sure if he had the clearance to access that information—and read it aloud.
“Miss Summers was a fundamental part in many of the team’s operations. Her actions served to save many lives, including my own, on more than one occasion.”
“That’s one hell of a report,” Hodgins noted.
Booth agreed but said nothing.
“Hey, Hodgins?” Angela called.
“Does this guy remind you of anyone?” She sent a pointed look toward Booth before looking back at Hodgins.
Hodgins looked at the photo on the screen and then at the FBI Agent. He had to admit that there were some similarities. “A little...”
“What? No way,” Booth objected. “I’m way hotter than he is.” He smirked, and Angela and Hodgins laughed.
“What’s so funny?” The question came from behind them, causing all three to jump and turn to see Dr. Goodman standing in the doorway.
“Oh, nothing, just a private joke,” Angela was quick to assure, swiftly closing the window with Riley Finn’s photo.
“Good. Do we have any progress on those test results, Dr. Hodgins?”
Booth tuned Hodgins and Goodman out as they spoke and leaned over to Angela. “Can you continue to dig and send me all the info to my personal email when you’re done?”
“Sure,” she answered quietly. “Will you tell me why you need it?”
“I...” He hesitated. “I’m not really sure why I need it myself, Angela.”
“Okay, Studly.” She grinned at him as his cheeks colored a bit. He was very cute when he was all flustered, and she couldn’t help teasing him sometimes. “You’ll have it in your mailbox by this evening.”
Later that evening, when he got back to his apartment, Booth opened the email that Angela had sent him. She was able to find reports from Riley Finn, who turned out to be a Staff Sergeant, and as he read through them, he could discern that there was more to the man’s relationship with Buffy Summers than a strictly professional liaison. He didn’t know why, but he found that the idea annoyed him.
The reports he was reading now were much less vague than the ones Angela had found earlier that day. They spoke of things that Booth couldn’t really believe were true, but it seemed that they were. The reports contained a mass of photos, as well as witness accounts that he could not just dismiss as the overworked imaginations of conspiracy fanatics.
In the privacy of his home office, he could admit that there was some resemblance between Finn and himself—they were the same height, similar build, and both had dark hair and brown eyes. There was no mention of Angel anywhere in the reports, which ended just shortly before the destruction of Sunnydale, but since a year had passed since then, Booth could not conclude whether Buffy’s relationship with Angel had been before or after she met Riley.
He tended to lean toward before. Buffy’s reaction to seeing him—who she had said looked very much like Angel—and the look she had had in her eyes, made him think that Riley was probably no more than a replacement, and a poor one at that, judging from their short term involvement.
The information in Booth’s hands also stated that Riley had married since leaving Sunnydale and had had no contact with Buffy ever since parting ways with her. While Riley could have lied to his commanders and kept in touch, the phone records Angela had attached to the email clearly showed that there were no phone calls exchanged between the two.
No matter how much he looked, there was no mention of Angel in the information Angela sent him, and he was growing frustrated. Finally, when the time grew closer to morning, Booth decided that he had no other option but to talk to Buffy herself. He needed answers, and she was the only one who had them.
Chapter 3: Laying Down the Cards
Laying Down the Cards
Willow sighed as she turned off Buffy’s laptop. There was plenty of information on FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, and everything about him looked rock solid. She understood Buffy’s reaction the moment she saw his photo. Had she not known otherwise, she would have sworn he was Angel.
The next day, Willow woke up to the sound of Buffy throwing up in the bathroom. She could feel her own heart clench at the suffering of her friend. This whole ordeal was taking a great toll on the Slayer, and there was nothing she could think of that might help her.
At first, Willow thought that what Buffy and Angel had had could be akin to a high school crush, but now, in hindsight, she understood that what those two shared was a connection many never had a chance to have in their lifetimes.
Willow waited until Buffy was out of the bathroom before asking, “How are you feeling?”
Buffy looked terrible, pale and puffy-eyed from crying, but she gave Willow a small smile. “I’m not really sure,” she said as they walked toward the kitchen. “I think I might be catching the flu again.” Buffy made such a disgusted face that Willow couldn’t hold back her chuckle.
“Then I think some tea is in order.”
“Tea? England is really getting to you, isn’t it?” Buffy asked with a smile.
Willow blushed. “I think Giles might be rubbing off on me.”
Buffy nibbled on some crackers while Willow handled the making of the tea. She found that lately the crackers were the only thing that she could stomach first thing in the morning. She listened to Willow’s chattering about Giles and her Wicca coven only half-heartedly. Buffy’s mind was still reeling with the events of the previous day. That is, until she heard Willow mention that she had done a background check on the FBI agent that had been haunting her thoughts since the moment he had knocked on her door.
“I looked him up.” Willow looked down at the cup of tea she was holding in her hands. “He could be Angel’s identical twin.”
Buffy hung her head. “I know.” She took a deep breath and then looked up at Willow. “Is he legit?”
“Looks like it.” Willow hated to say it, but she had found nothing that could suggest otherwise. “I checked everything I could think of. His background is solid.”
Buffy sighed and felt herself getting dizzy. “I can’t do it again, Will,” she whispered. “It was so hard the first time...and now...God, now I feel like I am losing him all over again.”
Willow looked at Buffy’s tearing eyes and felt like crying herself. She wished she could have done something to help her feel better, but she had learned from experience that magic could not solve everything.
“I never thanked you for coming.”
Willow smiled. “You don’t have to. I’m your friend, Buffy. I’ll always be here for you.”
Buffy smiled weakly. She was getting dizzier by the minute, and everything was suddenly going out of focus. She thought that she had heard Willow call her, but she could not be sure, because the next thing she knew, everything went dark.
Willow saw Buffy sliding to the floor, and she didn’t think twice before using her magic to catch her. She knew she would not have been able to catch Buffy on her own, not before she hit the floor.
Willow was slightly panicked. The last time Buffy was sick was years ago, and it had led her to be hospitalized. She was just picking up the phone to call Giles—Buffy’s ex-Watcher and surrogate father—when Buffy began to stir.
Blinking a few times, the world slowly began to focus again. She groaned when her stomach turned inside out again. “I hate being sick,” she murmured.
“How long have you been sick?” Willow asked as she kneeled next to Buffy, who was now lying on her living room couch.
“I’ve been feeling off for a while, but I only started getting this sick in the past couple of days.”
“Nausea, fatigue, dizziness?” Willow asked.
Buffy stared at her. “What are you getting at, Will?”
Willow blushed and stammered, “Um, Buffy, are you...I mean, eh...”
Buffy sat up, ignoring the shot of nausea that went through her at the quick movement. “What?”
“Is it possible that you’re, you know, late?” Willow finally asked.
Buffy stared at her, her eyes growing wider with each second. She wanted to brush it off, laugh, blame it on the flu, but for some crazy reason, Willow’s insinuation made sense. “No, Will, how...I haven’t...but—” Buffy couldn’t get a single coherent sentence out of her mouth. “There was only...but he’s...and that’s...impossible, isn’t it?”
“There’s one way to find out,” Willow said quietly. “I’ll be right back.”
Buffy barely registered that Willow said anything, let alone that she left her side. Her hands dropped to her stomach as she lay back on the couch, her eyes staring into space, unseeing. It had been just a little over two months since she had last seen Angel, touched him, kissed him...Her life had been in such a turmoil that she had really neglected to notice anything that might have given her a clue as to her condition—a condition that should have been obvious to her a month ago!
She didn’t know how long she lay there, thinking about this amazing yet impossible possibility, but she was suddenly pulled out of her reverie by the shutting of the door and Willow’s reappearance by her side.
“Here.” She handed her a small blue and white box. “It’s not as accurate as going to the doctor’s, but it’s faster.”
Buffy looked at the pregnancy test and swallowed the lump in her throat. “Willow, it’s impossible. I’ve only been with one man during the past year or so, and that was Angel.”
“Stranger things have happened, Buffy,” Willow replied.
“You’re right.” Buffy could easily name a few herself—starting with Dawn and followed by her own resurrection. She slowly got up from the couch and went to the bathroom.
Reading the instructions, she felt like laughing at herself. This was one test that she never thought she would have to take in her life; she never thought she’d live long enough to be concerned about something like this! And with a vampire? A vampire?
She did end up giggling when she waited for the test result, but it came out as a borderline hysterical sound, and Buffy thought that she was finally cracking.
“Buffy? Are you okay?” Willow asked through the closed door.
“Just peachy,” she answered as she opened the door and held out the white stick for Willow to see, “and apparently pregnant.” Buffy tried to laugh again, but it turned into a sob. “Pregnant with a vampire’s baby, no less.”
She made it to her bedroom before collapsing again. It was just too much to take. It was the only thing she had accepted that she could never have. It was the reason Angel left—to give her a chance to have children—and now that he was gone...Now he’s gone, and I’m having his baby.
Willow stared at the positive test in amazement for several seconds before she got on the phone. She didn’t know if Buffy would want anyone else finding out just yet, so she called her sisters in the coven. The first thing, and in Willow’s mind, the most important thing, was to see if this was a real pregnancy or if it was something brought about in a supernatural way. She thought that Buffy didn’t have time to worry about that, and she wanted to at least be able to take it off her shoulders.
After talking to several of her coven-sisters, Willow had the right text in front of her. Luckily, the ingredients were common enough for her to have them packed with her. She mixed the ingredients, heated everything up in a small pot, added a few strands of Buffy’s hair from her hairbrush, and waited for the mixture to cool down. She would allow Buffy to sleep as much as she wanted. The past two months had been hard enough, and Willow knew that she would sometimes go for days on end with very little sleep.
Buffy woke up a few hours later, feeling a lot more refreshed. She was grateful to have Willow there with her. She was also grateful for her friend’s thinking ahead. “I can’t believe I didn’t think about it myself.”
“You had a lot to deal with, Buffy. It’s okay.” Willow took out the concoction she had prepared earlier and said, “We want your skin to turn purple after this is applied.”
“Purple?” Buffy raised a brow. “Never thought I’d be happy to see my skin turn that color.” She smirked.
A few seconds later, both of them sighed in relief when Buffy’s skin glowed in a bright tone of purple.
“So what do we do now?” Willow asked.
Buffy chuckled. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving!”
Willow began to giggle as well, and in no time, the two were laughing to the point of tears.
Booth barely slept that night. In fact, it had been two weeks since he had been able to get a good night’s sleep. Dreams—nightmares, really—haunted him each night. At first, he would not remember anything when he woke up, but this time the nightmare was too vivid to be forgotten. He was dreaming about a dragon, of all things. He saw several people, whom he had never met, fighting alongside him against what could only be described as an army of demons. He attributed his latest dream to the reports he had been reading the night before, but it was still unnerving.
After a long, hot shower, he dressed in his usual suit and dialed Buffy Summers’s number.
“Miss Summers? It’s Special Agent Booth speaking.”
There was a small pause before she answered, “What can I do for you, Agent?”
“I was wondering if I could talk to you in person today. I have a few questions for you.”
“I don’t have anything new to tell you about the murders, Agent Booth,” she was quick to reply.
“It’s not about the case.” He hesitated, but decided to go with the truth. “I’m not really sure what it’s about, but I have some questions that I think only you can answer.”
Buffy paused, seeming to think his request over. “Fine, when and where?”
“Will it be possible for me to meet you at your house in thirty minutes?”
“All right.” He picked up his car keys and walked to the door. “I’ll see you in half an hour.”
“Sure. I’ll see you then, Agent Booth.”
He felt nervous when he knocked on her door. When the door opened, he found himself face to face with a pretty redhead that was obviously not Buffy.
“You must be Agent Booth,” she said. “Please, come in. I’m Willow, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Willow,” he said as he walked in.
“Buffy will be right here,” Willow said as she led him to the same living room where he had spoken with Buffy two days ago. “Can I get you anything?”
“Water will be great.”
There is something familiar about her, he thought as he watched her go into the kitchen. He knew that he had never met her in his life, but there was a faint voice in his mind telling him that he did know her.
“Agent Booth,” Buffy greeted him as she entered the living room.
“Good morning, Miss Summers.”
“Please, call me Buffy. I’m not old enough to be a Miss Summers.” She smiled.
He was surprised to note that he loved her smile and the way it lightened up her face. She wasn’t as pale as she had been the last time he had seen her.
“Buffy,” he said and returned her smile.
Her breath caught in her throat as the full force of his smile hit her. It was so unlike the smile she was used to seeing from Angel—small, just a tug on his lips—or Angelus—a cruel smirk. Agent Booth’s smile oozed charm, and she could feel the butterflies awaken inside her—butterflies that only Angel had ever been able to awaken. She sat down on the couch opposite of him just as Willow walked in with two glasses of water.
“Thanks, Will,” Buffy said as she accepted one of the glasses.
“Are you feeling better?” Willow asked.
“Have you been ill?” Booth asked, unprepared for the assault of worry that came over him at the prospect of her not being well. What on earth is going on with me?
“No, I’m not ill.” Buffy smiled and glanced at Willow.
A sudden thought struck him, and he was unable to stop himself from asking, “Are you two together?” He wanted to kick himself as soon as the words left his mouth.
Buffy and Willow looked at him, then at each other, and only barely suppressed a laugh. “No,” Buffy replied with a smile. “We’re just friends.”
“Oh, I apologize.” Booth could feel the heat spread in his cheeks and cursed himself in his thoughts.
Buffy watched him, hypnotized. She had never seen Angel blush—such a feat was impossible for a vampire—but seeing Agent Booth, who was practically an exact copy of Angel, flustered was something that definitely stirred urges that had been dormant for the past two months.
“It’s okay. You said you had some questions?”
“Yes,” he said and paused. He wasn’t sure how to approach the subject. Part of him thought that she would call him crazy.
“Willow and I have no secrets, so you can speak freely,” Buffy said, misinterpreting his hesitation.
“Thank you.” He took a deep breath and decided that he should just start at the beginning. “When I first met you and you thought that I was someone else, it got me curious.”
Buffy felt her heart jump to her throat but held on to a blank expression. Curious FBI agents were not a good thing.
“I did a background check, which didn’t tell me much,” he continued, “and then I decided to dig deeper. I found reports that were made by Staff Sergeant Riley Finn about an experiment called ‘The Initiative’.” He paused, giving her a chance to respond. Her face revealed nothing, but her eyes showed worry that deepened with each word he spoke.
“So, he has a rank now,” Buffy murmured. “I didn’t hear a question yet,” she said louder, staring at him with a challenge in her eyes.
“How much of what he reported is true?”
Buffy didn’t look away as she answered, “I don’t know what he reported, so I can’t answer you.”
Willow glanced at the couple with worry. She and Buffy had talked about his visit while he was on his way over. Neither one knew why he was coming over, but Buffy speculated—correctly, apparently—that he had run a check on her and had come across Riley’s reports. They decided not to give anything away until they could ascertain what Agent Booth already knew, but Willow now felt that he knew much more than either one gave him credit for.
“I was able to verify that The Initiative was a real project, and that officially they were attempting to create a super soldier. The prototype was called Adam.”
“The project was shut down.”
“Yes,” Buffy repeated.
“Finn wrote that it was mostly thanks to you that they were able to defeat Adam, thanks to you and several of your friends?” Riley Finn never mentioned the names of her friends, only listing them as civilians. Now, Booth wondered if Willow was one of them. The girls looked pretty tight, and he assumed that they went back a long way. It was not impossible that Willow had known and participated in the events.
“It was a joint effort,” Buffy replied. “Adam was something that should never have been attempted in the first place. I was only setting the record straight.”
“As well as averting an apocalypse?” The concept was so foreign to him that the comment came out as a question, rather than the statement he had meant it to be.
“She saved the world, a lot,” Willow said quietly. “I’m sorry,” she added quickly, glancing at Buffy. “I didn’t mean to bring up...”
“It’s okay, Will,” Buffy assured her. “It’s been two years now, and you did what you thought was right. You couldn’t know that I wasn’t in hell.”
Booth was quiet during the exchange, focusing on examining the body language of the two girls as they spoke, but the last comment confused him too much for him to be able to stop himself from asking, “What do you mean ‘hell’?”
“The literal meaning,” Willow answered him but kept looking at Buffy with a concerned expression.
“Willow, please, stop feeling guilty.” Buffy’s tone was quiet and soothing. “If you hadn’t brought me back...well, I don’t really want to think about what would have happened then.” She lowered her gaze to her lap and seemed to take a few breaths to compose herself before she turned to look at Booth. “I will tell you everything you want to know, but I will give you a warning first.” She paused, raising her eyebrow in a challenge.
“What you read in Riley’s reports is only the very tip of the iceberg. Are you sure you want to hear everything?”
Willow appeared as though she wanted to object, but she remained quiet.
“I’m sure,” Booth said.
He was unprepared for the story she began to tell him—a story where there were greater evils than he had ever imagined existed, a story in which the beautiful, green-eyed blonde that sat before him accepted her own imminent death as part of her destiny. He found it hard to wrap his mind around the picture forming in his mind as she spoke, of her fighting vampires, witches, spirits, and things that he always thought existed only in the land of fantasy.
There was pain in her eyes as she began telling him about Angel, a mysterious guy that developed a habit of showing up with cryptic warnings about impending doom, and Booth had to put some effort into keeping himself in place and not reaching out to comfort her.
The sudden ringing of the phone cut Buffy’s flow of words, and she was about to stand up when a wave of dizziness washed over her. “Willow, could you get that?” she asked, swallowing hard against the bile rising in her throat.
“Sure.” Willow stood and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
Booth watched Buffy close her eyes and grow paler by the second. “Are you sure you’re feeling well?” he asked.
She couldn’t answer his question. Instead, Buffy shot up and ran to the bathroom.
Alarmed, Booth jumped to his feet, gazing after her and fighting the urge to go after her.
Willow finished up the call and turned to look at Agent Booth. It still amazed her how similar he was to Angel and how much he seemed to care about her best friend. Whether he was aware of that or not, Willow sensed that the emotions rising inside him were much more serious than those he should feel toward a woman he had met only once before.
“She’s fine, Agent Booth,” Willow said as she walked into the kitchen. She took out some crackers, made a cup of tea for Buffy, and carried everything to the living room.
“Thank you,” Buffy murmured when Willow came back, reaching for the tea.
Booth was sitting across the two girls again, his eyes lingering over Buffy. She was a little less pale, he decided.
“Buffy.” Willow turned to her. “That was Giles on the phone—”
“You didn’t tell him, did you?” Buffy asked in a rush, and Booth wondered what exactly he was missing.
Willow shook her head. “No, but he said that they need my help there...”
“Go,” Buffy told her.
“But, what about...” Willow trailed off, intensely aware that they were not alone in the room.
“Go,” Buffy repeated. “I will be okay.”
“Fine, then I’ll go pack.” Willow stood up again. “Call me?”
“Of course,” Buffy said as she stood up. She hugged Willow tightly and whispered, “Thank you...for everything.”
“Any time,” Willow replied with a smile.
It didn’t take her long to pack what little clothes she had brought with her, and in a matter of ten minutes, she was getting ready to leave.
“Tell Dawn I said hi,” Buffy asked Willow as she walked her to the door, “and give Giles and Xander a hug for me.”
“I will,” Willow promised before going through the front door and closing it behind her.
Buffy returned to the living room, where Agent Booth was waiting for her patiently, and sat on the couch again. She took a deep breath before continuing her story. It was hard, returning to the events that had led Angel to losing his soul, and she appreciated Booth for not interrupting her. He seemed to be able to read her moods just as well as Angel had. She tried to hold back the tears when she spoke of their breakup after graduation and the following lonely months. Deciding to skip the events with Parker, she told Booth how she met Riley in college, which led to her discovering The Initiative.
“I’m sure Riley was very thorough in his report, so I won’t repeat the story of how we defeated Adam,” Buffy said, and Booth nodded.
As she spoke, Buffy raised her feet to the couch and pulled a blanket over her lap. Booth lost his jacket and loosened his tie. To an outsider, they might look like a couple enjoying the early hours of the day together.
Booth was amazed when she told him how her sister was created from her own body and how memories were planted in the minds of everyone around her. He winced when Buffy recited her battle with Glory and stared at her in shock when she told him of her death.
It was noon by the time she finished telling him of the events that had led to Sunnydale’s destruction, and Booth suggested that they go for lunch.
“Are you asking me on a date?” Buffy asked teasingly.
Booth wanted to curse aloud as he felt himself blush. “I kept you talking for almost two hours,” he said. “The least I can do is take you out to lunch.” He offered her his most charming smile, well aware that he was playing dirty, and said, “I would also like to know what happened after you left Sunnydale.”
Buffy couldn’t resist his smile, and she found that she was enjoying his company very much. His face was so easy to read that she could sense everything that was going through his mind as she told him her story. She was glad that she saw no pity in his eyes—shock, amazement, doubts, and much more, yes, but never pity.
“All right, but you’ll have to choose the venue since I don’t really know anything around here,” she said.
“I know just the place.”
Chapter 4: Leave it in the Past
Leave it in the Past
Booth took her to Sid’s. She seemed to be somewhat suspicious when he told her to let Sid, himself, bring her something, but she was willing to take the chance.
He found himself talking to her about unrelated issues, even telling her about his military past—something he was unwilling to share with most people after knowing them for years, let alone someone he had only met twice. It felt so natural talking to her, being with her, that he didn’t dwell upon that for long.
“How come you don’t have to be at work today?” she asked him at some point during the meal.
“Took a sick day,” he said with a shrug.
They went back to their conversation after that, and Buffy told him how she settled in Rome and then in London. She was just getting to the part when she got Angel’s phone call, requesting help, and she could already feel the tears choking her.
“Do you mind if we go back to my place?” she asked quietly.
“Of course, let me just get the check.” This time he did reach for her, gently caressing her knuckles with the tips of his fingers. He was surprised to feel the sudden hum that passed through his body at the first contact with her skin, but it was a pleasant sensation that he did not mind experiencing over and over again.
Buffy marveled at the feel of his warm touch on her hand. It was causing a wonderful sensation to spread through her body. It was so similar to the one Angel’s touch would cause, and yet too warm to be an exact clone of her lover’s caress.
They kept the chat friendly as Booth drove them back to her house, but as soon as they were both back in her living room, the atmosphere changed. Even before she began to speak, Buffy could feel herself holding back tears.
Booth saw the sadness seep into her eyes, and he wanted to tell her that it didn’t matter, but he couldn’t. There was something inside him that was telling him that he needed to hear this, that this part was important. He had no doubt that even in the short time he had spent with her, he was beginning to develop feelings for her. It was not something rational—feelings never were—but everything inside him was in full agreement. It was as though some part of him knew her and cared for her already.
“The last time I saw Angel was just a little over two months ago,” Buffy began, keeping her gaze down on her lap. “He telephoned me in what was the first contact I had with him in almost a year. He spoke to Giles and asked him if we could help.” She paused, taking a deep breath. “It didn’t take long for me to get to Los Angeles. He had been there for me whenever I needed help, and I knew that I would always be there for him as well. We didn’t talk much that evening...” Buffy felt herself blushing as she remembered how starved they were for each other. “Actually, we almost didn’t talk at all.” She smiled.
Booth felt an irrational wave of jealousy rise in his stomach. He understood what she was leaving out; she didn’t have to spell it out for him.
“I didn’t have time to be worried about him losing his soul,” she said. “I felt cold for so long...I just needed him, and I think that in some way, he needed me just as much.”
I’m sure he did, Booth thought.
“The next morning, he told me that he wanted me to leave.”
“Leave?” Booth was shocked. “Why? And why call you in the first place?”
“He said that he got a warning in his dream,” she answered. “Both of us had had prophetic dreams before, so I knew what he meant. He said that he needed me to be the second front in case he failed. I had told him almost those same words a year before...” Buffy knew she was crying, but she could no longer care. “I left later that day. Two days later, Angel and his team won the battle, but...” Her voice broke.
Booth pulled her into his arms, no longer wanting or able to let her suffer alone, and kissed her gently on the crown of her head.
“I knew the exact moment he died. I felt it,” she whispered into his chest. “I felt as though someone had shoved a knife into my heart and twisted it so it would inflict the maximum amount of pain. It was only later that I found out the truth.”
“What truth?” he asked in a whisper, still holding her close to him.
Buffy’s head lay against his chest, and the steady beating of his heart was both familiar and foreign to her. “Angel left a letter for me with his attorney. He said that he had lied that morning about the warning. It wasn’t a second front that he had to take care of; it was me. The Powers That Be had told him that one of us had to die. He chose to sacrifice himself so that I could live. Oh, God,” she whimpered, fisting her fingers in his white dress shirt, “he died so that I could live, but I can’t live without him. I don’t know how.”
Booth was amazed at the amount of pain he could see and feel coming from her. He felt himself hurting for her. It was an unexplained need inside him—to hold her, to comfort her, to do everything he could so that she would feel better.
“And when you showed up on my doorstep...”
“You thought that I was him,” Booth finished for her in a murmur.
Buffy lifted her head to look at him. “Yes,” she breathed, looking into his deep brown eyes. She tried to see the differences between the man that was holding her and the vampire whom she loved but couldn’t. She knew that she might regret it later, but she needed to feel something other than the pain and the cold.
Booth looked down at her green eyes, shimmering with tears, and the world around him disappeared. He saw her closing the distance between them slowly, hesitantly, and that was all the confirmation that he needed.
He leaned down, closing the remaining few inches between them, and captured her mouth with his. Her taste was heavenly, and he let out a soft moan of approval. He could not find words to describe it; all he could think was that she tasted like pure heaven. He didn’t even think to hold back as he parted her lips with his and took her tongue into his mouth.
Buffy moaned. She brought her hand up to thread her fingers into his short hair, holding his face close to her as she kissed him. He was warm and so very skilled with his tongue. She wanted more. She needed more.
Booth leaned back into the couch and helped her straddle him. She held his head between her hands as she pressed her body as close to his as she could while still being dressed. She felt his reaction to her and moaned again. “Oh, God, that feels so good.”
“Yes...” he groaned and dropped his hands to her behind, pressing her tighter against the straining hardness confined in his slacks.
She was so soft, despite her muscular build, and he wanted to touch every single part of her body, lavish it with kisses and caresses. Suddenly, Booth felt that tugging sensation he had been having in the back of his mind for the past two weeks—the one that made him feel as though he was trying to remember something but couldn’t—disappear. It was replaced with several lifetimes’ worth of memories. The most prominent amongst them were those that revolved around the woman he held in his arms.
Buffy felt him freeze beneath her lips and pulled back, her eyes flying open. It was like the proverbial bucket of cold water being dumped on her head. Her breath hitched, and she stared into the unseeing eyes of the man before her. Realizing that she was straddling him, she tried to move away, but his arms held her to him with surprising strength.
Booth blinked a few times, his eyes coming into focus, and he watched Buffy with a new emotion swirling inside him. Buffy gasped when she noticed the change in his eyes. It was the same way that Angel used to look at her—with reverence, love, and lust—before either of them knew what the consequences of them consummating their relationship would be. She could not speak, could not move. Her eyes were filled with tears once again, and there was nothing she could do to stop them from rolling down her face.
Booth felt himself smile as he gazed upon the beauty in his lap. He brought up one hand to cup her cheek and breathed her name, not really aware that he was speaking aloud. He was amazed at everything he had just...learned? Remembered? Remembered, he decided.
“You are so beautiful,” he whispered, looking at her as though he had not seen her in months. He pressed her harder into his embrace, and she complied willingly.
“What...who...” Buffy stammered, a thousand questions swirling around in her mind. His words were Angel’s, his touch was Angel’s, but his warmth was Booth’s; the heartbeat that she could feel against her chest was Booth’s.
“I’m not sure myself about the how,” he replied, still holding her close, and nuzzled her neck softly. He inhaled her scent and placed his mouth on the mark on her neck—his mark, he was aware of it now—sucking gently at the spot.
Buffy shivered. She could never resist Angel’s kisses, and when his tongue touched the scar at the base of her throat, it was even more maddening. She didn’t notice that she had begun rocking into him again, her movements small but rhythmic. With each pass of his tongue, she pressed against him, her head falling to the side as she allowed him better access to her neck.
Her warm breath on his neck and the friction of her heat over his hardness created a fast-growing fire in the pit of his stomach. Booth felt his need for her skyrocket. He was fighting with all his might not to throw her on the floor and take her right then and there. They needed to talk, and they couldn’t do it if his mouth was busy tasting her skin. With almost a Herculean effort, he pulled away from her, but only far enough to be able to look into her eyes. “I love you,” he said.
Buffy just stared at him, too shocked to speak, too afraid to believe what her heart was telling her.
“I’m not sure what happened. I feel like I suddenly have two people in my head,” he said slowly, still trying to sort through the memories that were cluttering his mind.
Buffy brought her hand up to cover her mouth, fruitlessly trying to hold back the sobs. Could she truly believe it? Had the Powers That Be finally given her a gift that did not come with the heaviest price tag they could think of?
Booth looked up at her again, seeing her with so many new emotions that were the same emotions he had already begun developing for her, just stronger. It was hard to wrap his mind around the images—the memories—that were swirling in his mind, but he was happy to realize that one thing was easy to accept: there was one person that his subconscious recognized even without the memories.
His gaze was so intense as he took in the sight of her in his arms that she almost felt it as a physical caress.
“There is something that he...that I didn’t tell you, Buffy,” he said. The memories and emotions were slowly setting in, and the feeling of having another person in his mind was gradually fading away.
He then told her the story of a prophecy that Angel’s—his—team had found a long time ago. A prophecy they had all thought to have been signed off as part of the team’s attempt to fight evil. A prophecy that seemed to have come true.
Buffy was crying by the time he finished his story, but it was no longer in pain. It was in relief. She was amazed to realize that they could finally be together without fearing that the world would come to an end or that he would lose his soul.
“I love you so much,” she whispered, and then she chuckled, shaking her head.
“What?” he asked, smiling at the sound of her laughter.
“I don’t know what I should call you,” she answered. “You seemed to have gained yet another name.”
Booth smiled. “I guess you’re right. I think I am more comfortable with Seeley Booth.” He paused, thinking for a moment, and then he said, “I think Angel belongs to the past.” He hoped that his words wouldn’t be hurtful to her, but he did feel more comfortable in his own—albeit new—skin.
Buffy looked at him for a long moment, staring at the beautiful smile that was so much like Angel’s and yet not quite his. This was a different man before her, she realized. His past might have been Angel’s, but his present—and probably his future—were Booth’s. She raised her hands to cup his face. The warmth beneath her fingers was a new feeling, but it wasn’t an unpleasant one. She had to let go of the past, let it go so that she could accept the future, and everything inside her was screaming that he—Booth—was her future. She only had to accept it.
Booth watched the play of emotions on her face with worry mixed with hope. However, he could see that she was coming to terms with what had happened. He didn’t speak, letting her think things through instead. He let his mind wander, thinking about all of the new “old” memories that revolved around her.
“I think...” It was hard for her to say the words, but it wasn’t as hard as when she had first learned of his death. She had accepted his death, so to accept putting the past where it belonged—in the past—was not as hard. She would not be alone in the world anymore. She took a deep breath and, looking into his eyes, said, “I think he does. I think Seeley Booth belongs in the present and, hopefully...” She couldn’t finish the sentence, her courage suddenly deserting her.
“In the future,” he completed her sentence.
They looked into each other’s eyes for several long seconds, and then, as if of their own volition, their bodies leaned toward each other, allowing their lips to meet again.
The kiss grew heated within moments. His lips were soft and pliant beneath hers. The heat of his mouth caused her to gasp, and he used that moment to plunge his tongue into her mouth and taste her. As it had always been between them, passion quickly took over, and they were both aching for more.
Pausing to take a breath, Buffy looked into his eyes. Dark with passion and need, they were absolutely beautiful. She deliberately rocked her hips once, causing him to hiss in pleasure, and smirked. “I think there is nothing wrong with where we are now...” she emphasized her words with another deliberate thrust of her hips, and she didn’t bother to stifle the moan of pleasure that escaped her lips, “...but I think we might be more comfortable in my bedroom.”
“We’ll get there. Eventually.”
He captured her mouth in another kiss, parting his lips to let her tongue slide in and caress his. His hands palmed her behind again and pressed her harder against him. He wanted her so much; felt starved for her, in fact. The newfound memories of their two nights together served to fuel his hunger, and he raised his hands to the sides of her body, taking her shirt off in one smooth motion.
Buffy nearly tore his shirt away in an attempt to get him naked as soon as possible. She was really glad that she had chosen to wear a skirt that morning, even if it was a long one, because Seeley was able to pull it over her head without separating their bodies for too long.
Her breasts were so much more sensitive after their first round of kisses, and she nearly screamed when his mouth wrapped around one nipple, his very skillful tongue flicking at the hardened tip. His other hand was massaging her other breast, alternating between cupping and caressing the whole globe and pinching its peak gently.
Seeley could not get enough of her. Her skin was just as soft as his newfound memories told him it was, but they did not do her justice. Everything about her was calling to him, and he began thrusting upwards in time with her movements. But soon it was not enough. He wanted to feel her without the layers of fabric that were nearly offending in their interruption. He wanted to have more than distant memories that still felt a little foreign. He wanted to learn the feeling of being inside her on his own.
Buffy seemed to read his mind as her hands moved between them and began unbuckling his belt. Her swift fingers pushed the zipper down, and he raised his hips slightly to help her push his slacks and boxers down. Her fingers wrapped around him, and he groaned at the sweet torture that was both too good and not good enough.
Seeley reached down to the wet heat between her legs. Moving the flimsy fabric of her panties aside, he plunged two fingers inside her.
“Yes!” she screamed, and her hands’ movements on his hard length were halted momentarily as she was lost in the jolts of pleasure his moving fingers inside her brought. She was too sensitive, too deprived of his presence, to hold back for long, and when he attached his mouth to his scar, biting down with blunt human teeth, she felt the release course through her body.
Seeley felt her inner muscles clench around his fingers and slowed down his movements, slowly bringing her down from her peak. His own need for her was throbbing almost painfully, but he wanted to give her pleasure before taking his own.
Buffy nuzzled his neck, slowly coming down from the orgasm-induced haze. She instinctively began to kiss the skin of his throat and shoulder, nibbling gently as she came to the point where the two connected.
“I want you,” she whispered between kisses, her hand beginning to rub him again. “I want to feel all this wonderful length inside me.”
Seeley moaned at her words and quickly obliged. It was like diving into a pool of heat, he thought as he slowly joined their bodies together. “Buffy,” he groaned. “You feel so good...”
Seeley was amazed. He felt as though a piece of his soul—a piece he wasn’t even aware was missing—had been returned to him. The memories were comforting, but they soothed only one part of his inner turmoil. Now that he was sheathed in her warmth, now that they were joined together in the most pleasurable of ways, his inner storm calmed. He was made whole.
“I’ve never felt so complete before,” she breathed, unaware that she was echoing his inner thoughts.
Neither could hold back any longer, and both began moving as a single body, touching each other as much as possible, never wanting to part again.
Soon both were beyond words, and the only sounds filling the room were their heavy breathing, his groans and her moans, and the slight creaking of the couch beneath the two lovers. Each thrust brought them closer to that elusive peak, and their movements were becoming erratic.
“Oh, God...Yes, yes, yes!” Buffy chanted breathlessly when she felt the coil inside her tightening in a familiar way.
“Yes, baby,” Seeley panted. He gasped for breath when her muscles were holding him inside her so tightly that it was almost painful. “I love being inside you.”
“Yes...yes...oh, God, YES!” She threw her head back as wave after wave she was washed with pleasure. It was so powerful that she felt tears rolling down her cheeks again. Her emotions were running so high that the climax was ten times more pleasurable than anything she had ever experienced in her life.
Seeley’s cry of release was muffled by her skin as he bit down on her neck—subconsciously placing the bite over the mark his past persona had left there—and let himself go. She continued to pulse around him, turned on even more by his bite, lengthening both of their orgasms.
It was only a few moments later that something occurred to Seeley, and he wanted to curse himself. All of the bliss that had previously filled his mind and the fog and drowsiness that had spread through his body were gone in an instant.
Buffy was slumped against his chest, their bodies still connected. Her eyes were closed and her soul was at peace. There wasn’t a worry in the world as far as she was concerned because, at that moment, her world was confined to the small space that was his embrace.
“Buffy?” Seeley murmured, drawing her attention.
“Hmm?” She was too spent to offer him more than a grunt in response.
“We didn’t...” He took a deep breath. “We didn’t use...anything. I’m sorry, Buffy. I didn’t think—” Her fingers stopped the flow of words from his mouth. She raised her head from his shoulder and looked up at his beautiful face. He was confused by her smile at first but took it as a good sign.
“We didn’t use anything on that last night either,” she said, her eyes shining with mischief again, but this time there was softness to her features as well. She didn’t say anything more, waiting for him catch on.
Seeley stared at her. That’s impossible, his thoughts screamed at the same time as a huge grin spread on his lips, his eyes widening with surprise, pleasure, and joy. “Buffy, are...are we...?” The words came out in a jumble.
“Yes, we are,” she answered with a beautiful smile. The happiness she saw in his eyes chased away any doubt she might have had in regards to his response.
“Thank you,” he breathed. “Oh, my God, Buffy, thank you.” He tightened his hold around her waist.
She giggled. “What are you thanking me for? I didn’t do this on my own.”
“I guess I did have a part in the making.”
The almost child-like delight in his eyes and the joking tone to his words was the best cure for Buffy’s bruised heart.
They giggled like two children as they showered, each of them lavishing as much attention as they could on the other while washing their bodies. Buffy noticed that he was ever so gentler with her, but he seemed to remember that she was also stronger than any other human was. The playful banter and the soft touches made the flames of their passions—that always burned in the background—rise to the surface again, and as soon as they dried themselves, they were all over each other once more.
Now, several hours later, they lay on her bed in a tangle of limbs, neither wanting to let go of the other after finally finding each other.
Seeley protectively caressed her still flat stomach as Buffy pressed to his side, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
“I never want to move,” she murmured, absentmindedly drawing abstract shapes on his naked chest.
“I don’t think I can stand you moving any time soon. You wore me out.” He chuckled when his remark earned him a pinch from her. “What? You did!”
Buffy smiled. It was a new experience for her to see Angel so carefree, so happy. But he’s not Angel, her mind reminded her, and she was surprised that there wasn’t a pang of hurt to come with that thought. He’s Seeley. Seeley Booth.
“How are you feeling?” he asked in a slightly more serious tone.
“Pleasantly spent,” she answered with a smile. “You did some wearing out of your own.”
“I love you, Buffy.” He looked into her eyes, unable to stop himself from wondering if she understood what he was saying—he loved her, not Angel.
Buffy heard the sadness in his voice, and it took her a moment to understand the reason behind it. “I love you, Seeley.”
The smile that suddenly broke on his face reached his eyes, and she could feel her own answering grin spread on her lips. The past had been laid to rest.
“We still have a case to solve,” she reminded him after several minutes spent in silence.
Booth chuckled. “We have tomorrow for that.” He was well aware that she would be involved whether he liked her to be or not, so he decided not to waste time on trying to talk her out of it. “I think we are both entitled to a day spent in bed.”
“Tomorrow it is,” Buffy agreed with a smile.