Title: Circle in the Sand
Summary: Psychofilly‘s challenge number one.
Spoilers: Only for past seasons
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: NF, GTCA, anyplace else just ask
Thanks/Dedication: Dedicated to Psychofilly who posted the challenge and gave me some cool advice and Lilyana, my pardner-in-crime. Hope you all enjoy.
“So” Buffy started as she poured the hot water into her cup as she sat opposite Angel, “You’re human now” she stated the obvious as she didn’t have a clue where to begin. One minute she had been standing at the beach, the next a human Angel had her in his arms and was kissing her passionately.
The kiss had shaken her, it had been passionate, full of want and need but it hadn’t felt to her like the ones they had previously shared. His lips had been strangely warm which was a big difference to his cool ones when he had been a vampire.
“So it seems,” Angel responded just as awkwardly as he fidgeted, the rise and fall of chest feeling weird after 250 odd years of living without it. He couldn’t hear Buffy’s heart beating or her blood flowing beneath her skin, things seemed quiet without his extra hearing. Having no sound like that made him feel like he was in a soundproof room. He didn’t feel scared or strange without it but he missed hearing those sounds.
“Do you have any idea on what you’re going to do now that you’re human?” Buffy asked, keeping the polite tone they seemed to have agreed on. She took a sip of her tea, keeping her blue eyes on Angel across from her. Even though he was no longer a vampire, his face and eyes were as unreadable to her as ever.
Angel shook his head slightly, “I don’t know how long this is going to last. I keep expecting to wake up and this to be a dream” he told her honestly. “I don’t know”
“What about us?” Buffy asked, risking looking directly into his eyes, hoping to see what she wanted him to say reflecting in his.
A deep breath was inhaled, “I think we should take this cautiously, see how things work out. I mean I still don’t know if this is permanent” Angel replied truthfully.
“The mature plan” Buffy agreed softly, wondering how she was going to make it of the kitchen without falling into his arms. “Sounds good to me. I call you, you call me we stay in touch just not literally”
Angel nodded at her words, “I think that’s for the best, just until we know if this is real”
Buffy nodded in understanding, but the problem was she didn’t understand how could she? She had never lived without the sun, without a heartbeat or any of those things only to suddenly have them again. “Would you give any thought to returning to Sunnydale?” she asked, keeping hope purposely out of her voice and her expression neutral. Inside, her head was screaming for him to say yes and come home with her.
Angel looked at her, did she want him to go back to Sunnydale with her? Did he want to go back to Sunnydale with her? What else could he do now that he was human? It wasn’t like he had any living family or relatives and it wasn’t as if he could live with Doyle or Cordelia and take up room in their lives was it? “Do you want me to go back to Sunnydale?” he asked in a quiet voice that was filled with hope. He would give up everything he had to be with the girl he loved.
“Good luck to ya man” Doyle told Angel sincerely with a lewd but playful wink at Buffy as he shook Angel’s hand in congratulations on his new life.
“Yeah, go have fun in the Sun-nydale” Cordelia teased as she stood next to Doyle, blinking against the bright afternoon sun.
“I can do that now” Angel looked up at the sun pointedly, “Thanks both of you. I couldn’t have done this without you”
“We know” Cordelia sighed with a lop-sided smile, she linked arms with Doyle and squeezed his arm slightly and got a squeeze in return.
“Are you ready?” Buffy asked from her position at Angel’s car. “I want to get back in time to do some patrolling.” Angel was coming home with her and life would be good again.
Angel gave an apologetic look to both Cordelia and Doyle, “I guess this is it huh?” he asked, though he was smiling his tone and eyes were sad. “Don’t drink too much” he said to Doyle, “Stay out of trouble” he said to Cordelia firmly.
“Will do boss only you’re not the boss anymore so I’ll get in as much trouble as I want. So there” Cordelia stuck her tongue out at him in a show of childish defiance.
Angel stilled as he took her words to heart, “Angel don’t worry man” Doyle told him with a shake of his head, “I’ll take care of Princess just fine”
“That’s the part I’m worried about” Angel deadpanned.
“Angel, that was just crude” Cordelia said in mild disgust, “He’s way too short and poor”
“Angel” Buffy called again impatiently as she crossed her arms over her chest smiling happily at Cordelia and Doyle who stood just behind Angel.
“The mistress has spoken” Cordelia muttered to Doyle and earned a chastising look from Angel in response. “Sorry, geez. Go, shoo go play in some graveyards with little miss slay happy” she waved him away.
Angel gave a manly pat on Doyle’s back and gave Cordelia a quick hug goodbye. “Take care Angel,” she whispered softly in his ear.
“You too Cordy. Keep Doyle out of trouble” he whispered back as he squeezed her a little tighter and a little longer than boss and secretary or friends should. Angel pulled back and Cordelia gave him a dazzling smile, taking his breath away and putting the sun to shame. “I better go before it gets late,” he said.
Angel walked backwards for a few steps, taking a long last look at his surroundings and the two people who had helped get this far. Doyle, the Irishman who had a strong fondness for a single malt and the brunette handful next to him Cordelia, said brunette, standing with both hands behind her back and her shoulders swinging back and forth as she chewed her lower lip. Her long hair flowing loose around face, catching the sun’s rays making it shine, her hazel eyes glinting with gold…
“Angel, we have to go now so I can patrol before I go to bed, I have an early start at college tomorrow and I don’t want to be late” Buffy’s voice interrupted his study of his friends.
“Sorry” Angel replied as he turned away from Doyle and Cordelia to face Buffy and his new life in Sunnydale.
“Bye Angel” Cordelia called out with a wave, “Bye Buffy keep in touch” she said with forced sweetness, doing her best not to make any comments.
“See ya man, don’t do anything I wouldn’t,” Doyle advised, and there wasn’t all that much he wouldn’t do.
“I won’t” Angel called back as he started the engine on his car, he gave them a wave before driving off back to Sunnydale
“Maybe now he won’t be Broody Boy” Cordelia said to herself, “Well it’s just you and me Doyle, we’re all we have now”
“Aye Princess. An we got our own business to run” Doyle replied as the turned back to their office.
Cordelia gave him a little surprised look, “You still want to run Angel Investigations?” she asked, hoping against hope that she would still have a job.
Doyle returned her look, “Ya didn’t think I’d run out on ya, did ya Princess?” he asked with a little smile. God, she was beautiful when she smiled like that, it was like her whole face lit up and that smile was contagious so Doyle found himself smiling back at her. “People need people like us, we can fight the good fight ourselves”
“And no vampire He-Man to do the fighting. Not that I’m totally helpless, but there’s only so much I can do with a book while screaming for help” Cordelia told him.
“I’ll have you know I’ve been known to knock a few heads together in my time” Doyle exaggerated a little bit.
“That was probably your head getting knocked off somebody else’s” Cordelia replied as she watched him automatically open the door for her and stepped inside. He could be so sweet sometimes and a complete bonehead at others.
“That hurt Princess” Doyle feigned a pained expression as he placed his hand over his heart. “That crackin sound is my heart breakin”
Cordelia gave him a look, “You are such a… I don’t know what you are” she brushed past him into Angel’s office and sat in the chair behind the desk. “Hello promotion” she said in an excited, breathy tone “You do realise that this means I have to have a raise?”
“How do you work that one out?”
“Easy” she replied simply, “If I’m going to be in charge of Angel Investigations now, then I need to look the part. And looking the part means I need new boss type clothes which takes money. In order to make money, you need to have a vision so get to it”
Doyle looked at a loss for a second, “I can’t just blink my eyes and have a vision”
“What about if I hit you over the head really hard, would you have a vision then?”
He was about to answer but the familiar tingle lanced through his brain as a vision hit. Cordelia immediately got out of her seat to fetch his usual glass of single malt to relieve his headache. Doyle shook a little as the vision subsided and he saw the mug placed on the desk in front of him, he raised his blue eyes gratefully to Cordelia who only smiled in response.
“Or I could just talk about you having visions and voila” she said with a beaming smile, “So, what have we got?”
Angel stood awkwardly in Buffy’s living room, shuffling under the weight of everybody’s intense study of him. Xander was just plain staring at him with ‘What did you ever do to deserve this?’ clearly written on his face, Willow was just sat still, her eyes flickering back and forth between Buffy and Angel.
“So” Xander was the first to speak, breaking the uncomfortable silence in the room, “I, uh, guess I can’t call you Deadboy anymore can I?”
“Xander!” Willow scolded before turning back to Buffy and Angel, “Well you look, uh, the same as you did the last time I saw you”
Angel only nodded in reply with a tiny, tight smile to the red head.
Giles rubbed his head and removed his glasses, “Well this has come as quite a shock I can tell you,” he told Angel. “I suspect it must be rather strange for yourself”
“You could say that” Angel replied curtly.
An awkward silence descended on the room until Buffy spoke up, “Angel, I have to go on patrol now. Will you be okay until I get back?” she asked lightly.
“I’ll go with you” he replied, wondering why she didn’t ask him if he wanted to go with her.
Buffy shared a look with the others, “Are you sure? I don’t mean to sound uppity or anything like that, but you’re human now. Do you think you could manage it?”
Angel frowned, but realised she was only being concerned about him, he nodded, “I’ll be fine, no problem” he replied.
Buffy nodded, “Okay let’s go. It’ll be just like old times”
“Oh the romance of smooching between vamp dusting” Xander blurted out, “Oww!” he said when Willow stood on his foot.
Willow smiled encouragingly at the Slayer and Angel, “Okay, we won’t wait up have fun” she said.
“Right, bye guys” Buffy replied as she led Angel out of her front door, eager to leave the stares and unspoken thoughts behind as she shut the door after Angel.
After they left, the conversation immediately began. “Whoa, can I just say that I so did not expect that” Xander breathed out.
“It’s a shocker all right,” Willow agreed as she turned her wide eyes to Giles, “What do you think?” she asked.
“What do I think about what?” Giles asked in return, determined not to share his thoughts about Angel with any of them.
“The Fonze” Xander replied as he rolled his eyes, “About not-so-dead-Deadboy and his remarkable return to the human race”
“I am not at liberty to say at this particular moment” Giles replied, “Suffice to say I only want what is best for Buffy and if Angel is best for her then I shall support her”
“But you don’t, do you?” Willow asked.
“Again, I am not at liberty to say Willow, I have to know what Angel’s intentions are before I go jumping to any rash conclusions” Giles replied in the same none-judgemental, even tone.
“I thought he was Cordelia’s boss on some kind of soul-saving mission in L.A” Xander pointed out. “If he’s here and she’s not, wouldn’t that make Cordy by herself in L.A?”
Willow shook her head, “From what Buffy told me, there’s a man working for him too called Doyle who’s stayed in L.A with Cordy”
“Poor guy” Xander commented with a chuckle.
“That’s not very nice Xander” Willow chastised, “You weren’t exactly the world’s greatest boyfriend you know”
Xander’s face went from laughing one minute to guilty the next as he remembered Cordelia falling through the stairs and being impaled on a rebar. “Thanks for reminding me Will, one massive guilt trip coming up”
“I was there too,” Willow reminded him lightly as her own face became a little guilt-ridden. “She may have changed Xander, we have changed why couldn’t Cordy?”
“I know Cordy changed better than anyone here Will,” Xander replied, “But charging people for saving their lives just seems a little…” he shook a hand from side to side. “You know?”
“We all have to make money to survive in some way Xander, it wasn’t just the helpless who got charged you know. It is-was-is a fully working detective agency,” Willow told him.
“All I’m saying is Cordy can’t be that much different from senior year at high school. It took her three years to stop calling us losers, how much could half a year change her?”
“Maybe, but I doubt we’ll ever find out because I’m sure the words ‘I would rather have my skin peeled off by a potato peeler than come back here again’ came from her mouth” Willow told him.
“We can be thankful for small mercies then” Xander responded, not wanting to admit he still had leftover feelings for Cordelia Chase, his first real girlfriend.
Buffy slammed her stake through the heart of the last vampire before hurrying to help Angel off the ground where he was lying breathlessly. She held her hand out to help him up, “You okay?” she asked with a frown on her face as she looked at his bruised face.
Angel dusted down his coat and ran a hand through his hair, wincing when he felt a lump forming on his hairline. He nodded, “Yeah, just wasn’t really expecting to, you know, get beaten to a bloody pulp”
Biting her lip Buffy looked up at him, “We should get home, get you patched up”
“What about you? Are you hurt?”
Buffy shook her head, “Slayer here, super strength remember?”
“Yeah” Angel replied as they started walking, or rather Buffy walked while Angel kind of hobbled after her. He looked around the graveyard, it hadn’t changed from the last time he saw it before he left Sunnydale for L.A.
A soft smile tugged at his lips as he thought of Cordelia and Doyle still there, wondering if they were going to keep the business open or close it. “What are you smiling about?” Buffy asked as she awkwardly laced her fingers through his and felt him squeeze her hand back.
“Doyle and Cordy” Angel replied, “I was just wondering if they were going to keep the business open or close it”
Buffy shrugged, not really caring what would happen to his old business. “Oh. Don’t get me wrong Angel, but why would they keep it open? You’re not there to fight anymore”
He wasn’t a vampire anymore and if he was breathless from a fight with a few dimwitted vampires, then Buffy doubted he would be able to hold his own with some of the demons on the Hellmouth. Granted he had fought better than Riley or the others who worked at the Initiative, but that was only due to the fact of his experience in martial arts.
“Doyle gets visions from the Powers, I doubt Cordy or Doyle would let the hopeless save their own lives” Angel told her. He had only been in Sunnydale for a short amount of time but he already missed the noise of the traffic and people, Sunnydale seemed too… quiet without it. The familiar feeling of guilt crept in as he thought about leaving Doyle and Cordelia by themselves, fighting what was his fight.
But it wasn’t his fight anymore was it? He was human now and with Buffy so how could it be his fight?