When You Wish Upon a Hellmouth
Summary: Angel has lost his soul, Buffy is a woman scorned, guess who shows up?  

********************

Buffy Summers pressed a hand over her eyes and tried to choke back the sobs that threatened to overwhelm her. She was so tired. Tired of the looks, the murmers and the general coupleyness that had descended over Sunnydale High. Sure it was almost Valentine's Day but still, there should be some limits.

*Xander has Cordelia, Willow has Oz, God, even Giles is getting some from the Gypsy bitch. Everybody but me.* How could they be so happy around her when she felt so miserable. It just wasn't fair.

"Bad breakup?"

The slayer lert out an undignified eep and spun around. She had been so busy wallowing that she had failed to notice she was no longer alone in the girl's restroom.

"Um yeah." Buffy answered rather sheepishly. She studied the girl in front of her. "I don't think I've seen you around before. Are you new?"

"Yeah, I just moved here. My name's Anya."

"Buffy."

"Nice to meet you."

"Likewise."

"So, who's the jerk? Does he go to this school?"

"What?"

Anya began to critically study herself in one of teh mirrors. "Your ex. Does he go here?"

"Oh, no he's older." Buffy fleetingly wondered shy she was even talking to this new girl.

Anya idly reapplied her lip gloss. "huh, you'd think men would mature as they got older."

"Yeah." Buffyreplied weakly.

"Don't you just wish . . ."

"Wish what?"

Anya sighed impatiently. "Wish . . ." She waved her hands in the air while the slayer stared blankly at her.

Anya sighed again. "Mortals." She muttered under her breath. "Don't you wish he could feel the same kind of pain you do over this?" She said louder.

"Yeah, I do."

"They say it."

"Say what?"

The demon stared in disbelief at the blonde girl. *Yea Gods, this is the slayer?*

"Oh." Realization dawned in Buffy's eyes. "You think I should make a wish." She paused. "What good will that do?"

Anya smiled. *Almost got her.* "It'll be cathartic."

"Well, okay. I wish . . . Hmmm."

"Get on with it!"

"God, give me a minute." Buffy took a deep breath. "Okay, I wish that Angel would fall completely in love with someone he truly detests so that he could know how I feel."

Buffy gasped as she watched Anya's features twist into a demonic countenance.

Anyanka chuckled. "Done."

* * * * *

Somewhere across town in an old, supposedly abandoned warehouse, a centuries old vampire suddenly sat straight up in his bed. He stared blankly at the black sild sheets that had pooled around his waist. He tried desperatly to remeber where he was and how he had gotten there and why he was sleeping in the nude. *I haven't done that since . . . oh shit.* Since he regained his soul.

The memories of the past few weeks came flooding back to him. He remembered sleeping with Buffy and losing his soul. Somewhere in his mind he knew something was wrong. He could remember every single sin he had committed yet he felt very little guilt from it all. Something else occupied the space usually reserved for brooding, well actually someone.

Angel checked the clock on the nightstand. "Five hours 'til sunset." He whispered. "Five hours and we'll be together again, my love, my Xander."

**********

When Wishes Come True. . .kinda
Summary: Angel’s back, but he’s not interested in Buffy  

*********************

"Um Giles."

Rupert Giles looked up from the tome he was translating to see Buffy standing in the doorway to his office.

"Buffy?"

"I think I might have done something."

Giles closed the book and turned his full attention to the girl. With one eyebrow raised he patiently waited for her to continue.

"Okay, see I was in the bathroom and this girl came in and I’d never seen her before and she said she was new and that her name was Anya and she asked if I had had a bad breakup ‘cause I was kinda crying and I said yes and she asked me if I had ever wished that Angel would feel as bad as I do and I said yes so she said I should say my wish out loud and I did and her face got all eww and she said done and I think she was evil and do you think this was bad?" Buffy paused and took a badly needed breath.

The watcher simple stared at his charge for a few moments. Finally he gathered himself enough to speak. "Pardon?"

After Buffy explained it to Giles again, and almost passed out from lack of oxygen, he leapt into action and began to consult his books.

Buffy sat nervously at the table wondering what she had started. She was still figiting uselessly when Willow entered the library.

"Hey ev. . . Ohhh, research!" Willow's eyes lit up. "What are we looking for? Prophecy? Demon?"

"The latter." Giles said absently. "It would appear that Buffy met some sort of Wish Demon today."

"Wish Demon?" Willow looked at the slayer.

Buffy took a deep breath and launched into her story for the third time.

"Wow." The redhead said when she finished. "Do you think your wish came true?"

"That is a distinct possibility." Giles said. "Buffy, what did you say she called herself?"

"Anya."

"Aha."

"Find something?"

"I believe I have."

Buffy stood up. "Okay, so who is she and how do I slay her?"

"Her name is Anyanka and you don’t."

"Huh?"

"She’s gone Buffy. She leaves after her work is completed."

"Her work?" Willow asked.

"Yes, Anyanka is the Patron Saint of Scorned Women. I imagine that’s why she wanted your wish to center around Angel. Um, what exactly did you wish for?"

"Something painful?" Willow's eyes had a strange glint in them.

The slayer scrunched her face and thought. "Uh, I think I wished that Angel would fall in love with someone he totally detests so he would know what it feels like to love a jerk." She sniffed delicately.

Giles’s eyebrow raised again. "Detests?"

"It was on a vocab test last week." Buffy said defensively. "What? I can't absorb the knowledge?"

"Yes, well, um . . ."

"Oh Buffy!" Willow practically squealed. "This could be good. Who does Angel hate?"

Buffy’s face lit up. "Me, he hates me!"

"Exactly." The hacker looked quite proud of herself.

"No."

The two girls looked at the watcher in surprise.

"Angelus hates you Buffy, not Angel."

The blonde frowned. "Your point?"

The watcher sighed, he could feel a headache coming on. "Angel and Angelus are two separate people that happen to occasionally share the same body. If what you said just then is indeed what you wished . . ."

"Then the spell is going to be on Angel." Willow finished.

"Well, how do we break it?" Buffy’s voice contained a hint of desperation. She didn’t want to think of her boyfriend, the sweet, souled vampire, in love with someone else.

"I’m not so certain that we should." Giles said carefully.

"What do you mean? Angel has to love me. We have to break the spell."

"Buffy, I understand how you feel, but if what we hypothesize is correct then Angel has most likely regained his soul and will keep it as long as this spell is in effect." Giles paused. "I propose that we leave Anyanka’s spell in place until we can find the original curse."

Buffy thought about this carefully. What Giles had said did make sense. Angelus was dangerous and she had enough trouble dealing with Spike and Dru. "I guess you're right." She tried to cheer herself. "It’s not like anythings gonna happen anyway. I mean whoever he hates probably hates him right back and the spell only effects Angel. Right?"

Giles returned to his text for a moment. "Yes."

"Then there you go. We’ll work extra hard to find the curse and then everything will be fine." Buffy said, more to reassure herself then anything else.

"I wonder who it is." Willow said pensively.

Giles glanced out the window at the rapidly setting sun. "I expect we should know soon."

Buffy followed his gaze. "Do you think we should go out and look for him. He might be confused and most of the people he doesn’t like are pretty gruesome."

Willow nodded. "Yeah, except for Xander. . .Oh my God. You don’t think. . ."

Buffy stared at her friend in horror while Giles cleared his throat and summed up their feelings with two simple words.

"Oh dear."

* * * * *

Xander Harris morosely sipped his mocha as he wondered for the umpteenth time why he had bothered coming to the Bronze that night.

*Oh yeah, 'cause I’m whipped* He looked at his supposed girlfriend, sitting at the other side of the room. Cordelia was once again surrounded by her snobby group of friends. Every once and awhile she would glance over at him to make sure he was still there, like he would ever leave. She had told him of a certain signal he should look for and the closet they would meet at if he saw it. *Yep, Xander the boytoy, that’s me* That thought used to fill him with excitement but this time he felt rage spreading through him instead. Filled with self righteous anger he grabbed his jacket and got up to leave.

Cordelia chose that moment to look at him and a frown passed over her features. *Where the hell does he think he’s going?* Giving her friends a quick excuse she hurried after Xander.

He had made it outside and to the corner of the building when she caught up with him.

"Where are you going? I’m not ready to leave yet." Cordelia stood with her hands on her hips. *This had better be good or I’m not getting into any confined spaces with him for a . . . day at least.*

"Oh, you're not ready to leave." Xander's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Well, I am."

"Xander," She was beginning to get annoyed. "Come back inside. It’s still early, you can go later."

"So you're saying I can’t go now?" Anger had made his eyes hard and dark. They glittered in the moonlight. "Lets make this perfectly clear. You don’t own me. I am not the personal property of Cordelia Chase."

"I didn't mean. . ."

"Shut up. For once in your life you are going to shut your mouth and listen to me."

Cordelia's mouth snapped shut. She had never seen Xander this angry before.

"I want more Cordelia. More than just an occasional grope in a closet or the backseat of your car. I want to hold your hand in public. I want to go on an actual date with you and not have to worry who's going to see us together." He paused and took a deep breath, trying to regain control of his emotions. "But that’s not gonna happen." He took a step toward Cordelia and stared into her shocked face. "I don’t know what kind of thrill you get from slumming, but you can find it elsewhere. We’re over." He turned on his heel, preparing to stalk off when a sound made him freeze.

Someone was clapping from the shadows. "Bravo Xander. I must say the backbone look suits you."

The two teenagers instantly recognized the voice. Fear gripped them as Angel stepped out into the light of a streetlamp.

Xander produced a cross from one of his pockets and held it out towards the vampire. "Run." He said to Cordelia between gritted teeth. "Get Buffy."

Cordelia wavered for an instant. She did care for Xander and didn’t want to leave him alone with the monster but she also realized that neither one of them would have much of a chance without the slayer. She ran from the alley, moving faster then she ever thought she could.

Xander was shaking but he held his ground. He needed to give Cordelia as much time as he could.

"What do you want Deadboy?"

Angel cocked his head to the side. "You." He said softly.

Xander tightened his grip on the cross. "Buffy’s right inside, she's gonna be out here any second."

"Buffy’s not inside Xander. Cordelia ran off towards the high school." Angel's eyes stayed firmly fixed on the mortal's face. "You can put the cross down, I'm not going to hurt you."

"Well excuse me if I don't trust the word of a soulless demon."

"I’m not soulless anymore. I got it back."

"And I’m supposed to believe you because?"

In a split second Angel transversed the space between them, knocked the cross from Xander’s hand and pinned the boy against the brick wall. "Because," His voice was low and husky. "If I was still Angelus you’d be dead by now." Xander had never been this close to Angel before, only a few inches separated their faces. His body was trapped between the vampire’s and the wall. Suddenly the phrase caught between a rock and a hard place entered his head and nervous laughter bubbled up from inside him.

Angel curiously watched the boy, entranced by the look on his face. Without really realizing it Angel pressed his body closer to the mortal’s.

Xander immediately sobered. "Okay, I'm still breathing. Your Soulboy again. I believe you. Now can you let me go?"

"No." The combination of Xander’s fear, sweat and aftershave made for a heady scent. Angel’s attention was drawn to Xander's lips and to the pink tongue that darted out to nervously wet them.

"Uh, Deadboy. You gonna let me go or what?"

Angel smiled. "What." He whispered before he captured the mortal’s lips with his own.

Xander’s body tensed at the contact, his mind screamed at him to do something. He began to struggle, not that it did much good against the vampire’s strength.

Angel ran his tongue over the boy’s lips, taking notice of the shudder he produced. He delved back into the kiss, this time using his tongue to part Xander’s lips and teeth to gain access to his hot, wet mouth. Angel called on his centuries of experience and slowly, seductively began to explore.

Xander’s movements had stilled at the addition of this new sensation. He could feel Angel’s slightly cold tongue stroking against his, drawing him into the contact. *Cordy never kissed like this.* The thought of his girlfriend snapped him harshly back to reality. He couldn’t be enjoying this. He was NOT gay! Xander resumed struggling, desperate to get away from the conflicting emotions rushing through his mind. His efforts accomplished something this time. Angel started to get hard.

When he felt Angel’s erection press against his hip, A strange sound came out of his occupied mouth. Even he wasn’t sure what it meant. He did know that unless this ended soon he was going to find himself in a similar situation and that thought scared him. He couldn’t be getting turned on by this. Not him.

Then it was over. Angel pulled away from Xander’s mouth. The vampire had heard the others enter the alley. He hadn’t wanted to stop the kiss but he was sure the Watcher would have questions for him. Angel turned and faced the openmouthed stares of the other members of the Scooby Gang.

**********

Be Careful What You Wish For
Summary: The gang finds out about Angel’s new obsession.

********************

“Oh. . . my. . . God. . .”

Buffy had witnessed many shocking things since becoming a vampire slayer but nothing could have prepared her for what she had just seen. Her boyfriend had been kissing another man, no, correction, her boyfriend had been sticking his tongue down another man’s throat.

“Angel?”

The vampire smiled complacently. “Hi Buffy, Willow, Rupert. . . Cordelia.” He added a bit of venom to that last name. The thought of his Xander with that bitch made his borrowed blood boil.

The May Queen was undaunted by the vampire. “What the hell do you think you’re doing with my boyfriend!?”

“He’s not your boyfriend.” Angel said defensively. “If I remember correctly he dumped you, right here, not more then ten minutes ago.”

Fury marred Cordelia’s features as she tried to sputter out a response.

Giles, having decided that it might be prudent to intervene, said, “I’m sure we all have a lot to. . . discuss, so, why don’t we move this. . . conversation to the library.”

Willow numbly nodded while Cordelia continued to fume.

“I agree.” Angel said. “What do you think shmoopie?” He asked Xander.

“Shmoopie! He never called me shmoopie!” Buffy said shrilly.

Giles allowed himself a non-American, completely British eye roll and waited for the boy’s answer.

When uncustomary silence was all that followed five pairs of eyes turned to the dark haired teenager.

Xander was doing a fairly decent impersonation of Oz. He simply blinked at his fellow Slayerettes

“Uh, right. Perhaps we should go now.” Giles was concerned by the boy’s unXanderlike behavior. He had been expecting yelling, screaming, and at least one pointy wooden thing aimed at Angel’s chest.

The walk back to the high school was nothing if not tense. Angel refused to leave Xander’s side which made Cordelia all the more petulant. Buffy was stealing little glances at her boyfriend while trying to maintain her brave slayer image, which was increasingly hard to do with her constantly breaking down into tears.

Giles wasn’t the only one worried about Xander’s behavior. Willow was keeping a close eye on her childhood friend. She absently patted the Slayer’s back while trying to figure out how many ho-hos Xander was going to need in the morning.

Giles brought up the rear, dividing his attention equally among the vampire and the four teenagers. No matter what happened, one thing was sure. This was going to be an interesting night.

**********

Wishing and Hoping. . . and Crying and Screaming  

********************

“So you’re saying I don’t really love Xander.”

“Correct.”

“And the only reason I think I love him is because some demon put a spell on me.”

“Right.”

“And in actuality Xander and I can’t stand to be around each other.”

“I think that just about sums it up.” Giles nervously adjusted his glasses. “Do you have any questions Angel?”

The vampire thought for a moment. “Just one. Is this some kind of a joke?”

Giles looked confused. “I don’t follow.”

“Because if it is, it really isn’t funny. Now, where did Xander go? I miss my little blood muffin.”

“Blood muff. . .” Giles sighed. “I think we need to go over the whole demon-spell thing again.

**********

Willow and Xander were sitting in an unlocked classroom, far away from the library. Giles had said it might be best to keep Xander separate from Angel for the time being so Willow volunteered to stay with her friend. Cordelia had decided to go home, muttering something about what did she expect to happen when she hung out with losers.

Buffy had wanted to stay in the library but Giles suggested she patrol instead. Willow felt extreme pity for any vampire the pissed off slayer might encounter.

Willow turned her attention back to Xander. He still hadn’t spoken, or eaten for that matter. As soon as they got to the school she had raided the vending machines. The fact that Xander hadn’t even tried to get at the chocolate before him worried her immensely.

“He kissed me.”

Xander’s voice startled Willow out of her thoughts.

“I know.” She said.

“He put his tongue in my mouth.”

Willow tried to choose her words carefully. “I know it must have been a horrible. . .”

“I liked it.”

“. . . Experience, but in time you’ll forget all about it and I’m sorry but what did you just say?”

Xander looked his oldest friend in the eye. “I liked it.”

Willow stared at him for a moment. “That’s nice.” She said finally.

“That’s nice!”

“Well, I’m sorry! I’m still kinda reeling here.”

“Yeah, well I’m not exactly ‘Mr. mental stability’ right now myself.” He ran a hand through his short dark hair. “God Wills, what’s wrong with me?”

Willow sighed. “Nothing’s wrong with you Xander.”

Xander let out a sharp, humorless laugh. “Willow, did you hear what I said? I liked kissing Angel. A guy, a vampire guy who until a few weeks ago was dating one of my best friends and until a few hours ago was a remorseless killer. I mean the whole being gay, which I am NOT by the way, thing aside. . . it’s like some kind of wierd-ass Halloween episode of Melrose Place. Not that I watch Melrose Place!”

**********

“It’s not true.”

“Angel, I assure you, it is very true. Do you want me to show you the text again?”

“No.” The vampire rose from his chair and began to pace.

Giles watched him carefully. “I understand how confusing this must be for you.”

Angel stopped and stared at the watcher. “Do you? You might be able to sympathize but you don’t understand.” He sank back into his chair. “You’re telling me that every single feeling, every impusle, every memory even, concerning Xander is false. Logistically I understand, but I can’t deny what I feel.”

“Those feelings aren’t real.”

“Yes they are. Twisted reality is still reality, and this is real, whether you or. . . Buffy want to admit it.”

Giles stared at the far wall, mulling over what the vampire had said. "Maybe you’re right, and I’m sure to you your feelings are very real, but you can’t let yourself be ruled by them.” He focused his attention back to the vampire. “If this thing only affected you I’d say bugger off and do what you’d like. But, this doesn’t just affect you. The object of your current obsession is only a seveteen-year-old boy, and if he wasn’t already unsure about his sexuality, as most adolescent males are, then he sure as hell is now.”

“But I. . .”

“What? Love him? If you truly love him Angel, then you will respect his wishes and leave him alone.”

**********

“Maybe this is a good thing.”

“Good thing!? Willow, have you been paying attention? I’ve spent the last five minutes rattling off why this is so not a good thing.”

Willow leaned forward and gently touched Xander’s cheek. “I’ve been paying attention, just not to your words.” She paused for a moment. “How long have you been attracted to Angel?”

Xander’s chocolatey eyes widened. “What?”

Willow let out a small laugh. “Xander, I’ve known you since kindergarten. I can tell when you like somebody. I just can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”

“I do not like Deadboy!” Xander said impudently.

Willow gave him a little smile and squeezed his hand. “The only way you are going to get through this or move beyond it or whatever is to confront what you feel and what happened and the only way to do that is to talk to Angel.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Give me one good reason.”

Xander stared morosely at her. “I’m afraid.”

**********

“Are you sure that’s what he wants?”

Giles frowned. “What?”

“For me to leave him alone. Are you sure that’s what Xander wants?”

“Well of course it is.”

“Then prove it.”

Giles frown deepened as confusion set in. “What do you mean?”

“Bring him here.” Angel raised his hand to silence Giles before he could object. “If he can look me in the eye and tell me to my face that he doesn’t reciprocate any of my feelings, then I’ll leave him alone. I won’t go within twenty feet of him until the spell is broken.”

“All right.” Giles stood. “I’ll get Xander.”

******

Wish you Weren’t Here
Summary: Willow shares a secret, Xander shares a big secret, Giles has a solution and Xander makes a decision  

********************

Willow took both of Xander’s hands into her own and looked deep into his eyes. “I know it was a big thing for you to tell me that you liked the kiss. So, I’ve decided to share one of my secrets with you.”

Xander waited patiently as Willow took a deep breath. “When I saw you and Angel. . . kissing. I, um, well I got a tingly feeling in my stomach.”

“It made you want to barf?”

“No! A good tingle.”

“Huh?”

“I liked it Xander.”

“Oh.” Xander’s brow was furrowed in confusion. Slowly he realized her implication. “Oh.” He said again.

Willow gave him a small, shy smile. “Just the idea of two cute guys together. . . well, it kinda turns me on.”

Xander stared at her in partial shock. He couldn’t believe his Willow had been thinking about things like that, let alone that she had actually been able to say it out loud.

“How long have you. . .?” He asked.

Her cheeks were already bright red but somehow she managed to blush more. “Well, one day while I was surfing the web I found this slash fan fiction site. I started reading it and I realized I really liked it.”

“Slash?”

“Male and male.”

“Oh.”

Willow squeezed his hands. “That doesn’t make me a pervert or a bad person Xander. Okay, so I don't fit into the mold of conventional society, but is that so bad? I don’t mind being different and neither should you.”

Xander smiled wanly at her. “I appreciate you telling me, I know it probably wasn’t easy for you.”

Willow shrugged. “So, did it work? Do you feel any better?”

“Well, it’s definitely reassuring to know that to the world at large I’m not the only freak in this room.” He smiled to let her know he was joking.

“And what about Angel?”

Xander’s smile disappeared.

Willow sighed. “This isn’t just going to go away Xander. As long as this spell is in place Angel is going to be head over heels in love with you. And, the spell is going to be in place until we can find the original curse. Now, you have two choices. You can either ignore your feelings and spend the foreseeable future in abject misery or you can confront both your feelings and Angel and figure out what the hell is going on.”

“Abject misery doesn't sound that bad.”

“Xander!”

“I can’t talk to him.”

“He’s not going to hurt you Xander.”

“Yes he will.”

“Xander, he’s totally in love with you. In fact I shudder to think what he might do to someone who did threaten you.”

Xander shook his head. “I know he’s not going to physically hurt me Willow. I wasn’t talking about that.” He got up and began to move around the room. “Okay, I guess it’s truth time. I mean an English classroom is just as good a place to bear you’re soul as any, right?”

He stopped beside the blackboard and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I am attracted to Angel. I have been for a long time. It scared me. I wanted to be normal, and having wet dreams about a male vampire is definitely not normal, I don’t care how liberal you are. Besides, he belonged to Buffy.

So I repressed, or some kind of fancy psychology term. I ignored my feelings, buried them, and fully devoted myself to my growing Playboy collection. I don't’ know, I guess I thought if I looked at enough naked women I could push out the memory of Angel in a tank top.

And it’s not like my three-dimensional love life was much better. Every girl I found myself really attracted to turned out to be a monster. Let’s not forget Praying Mantis lady and Mummy girl.”

“Not every girl, there’s Cordelia.” Willow said.

“Same difference.”

Willow frowned. “Okay, so you like Angel. I’m still not seeing the bad in the current situation.”

Xander sighed. “Why is Angel in love with me Willow?”

“I already told you, Buffy made a wish and a demon granted it.”

“And what did Buffy wish for.”

“That Angel would fall in love with someone he. . .” Willow trailed off.

“With someone he detests, right.” Xander finished. “This isn’t going to last forever Willow. Ms. Calender is going to find the curse, Buffy’s going to break the spell and everything is going to go back to normal including Angel’s feelings towards me.”

“Oh Xander.” Willow went to her friend and wrapped him into a hug.

“At least now I know how he really feels.” He said softly. “I don’t have to waste anymore time hoping that he might. . .”

A sharp knock made them break apart. Willow opened the door to reveal a very tired looking Giles.

“How are things in here.” He asked them.

Willow glanced at Xander. “We’re okay.”

“Good, good.” He turned to the boy. “And you, are you alright?”

“I’m fine Giles.” He said. “I was just a little shaken, that’s all.”

“Good.” He said again. “I think I may have a way to resolve this, at least where you’re concerned.”

“Oh?” Xander somehow managed to keep his face impassive.

“Angel is still completely convinced of his feelings toward you, so much so that he is willing to respect your wishes. He has said that if you tell him, to his face, that you don’t have any romantic feelings for him then he will leave you alone.”

Willow, who had been very closely watching her friend, suddenly grabbed Giles’s arm and herded him back through the door. “Go on back to the library. We’ll be there in a few minutes.” She reentered the room and found Xander gently beating his head against the blackboard. He looked at her.

“Oh God, I don’t know if I can do this.” He said, his brown eyes shinning.

“Yes you can.” Willow said firmly. “You are going to go down to the library, march right up to Angel, look him in the eye. . .”

“And lie.” Xander said simply.

**********

A Dream is a Wish Your Demon Makes
Summary: Angel and Xander work things out

*********************

Xander and Willow stood side by side looking down the long hall to the library. On the other side of the double doors a souled vampire anxiously waited for the boy.

“I can’t do this.” Xander said nervously clenching and unclenching his fists. After a second he turned to his friend. “Well?”

“Well what?”

“I say I can’t do this then you say, sure you can Xander.”

“Oh, okay. Sure you can Xander.”

“Gee Will, you’re bowling me over with your confidence.”

Willow looked up seriously at her friend. “You know how I feel about the situation.”

“You think I should be honest with him.”

She sighed and squeezed her friend’s hand. “It doesn’t really matter what I think.”

“It does to me.”

“Okay, then yes. I do.”

“But honesty can lead to pain. Pain is bad.”

“So is living a lie. So is subjecting yourself to unwarranted torment.” She gave Xander a tiny smile. “I know how cliched this is gonna sound but, life is short. . . And considering where we live and the extra curricular activities we normally take part in ours will probably be shorter then most.”

Xander rolled his eyes. “Way to plunge me into suicidal depression, Will.”

The redhead blushed. “Sorry, but you know what I mean.”

“Okay, but there’s still one thing, or more like one person. Me and Cordy are pretty much over, but Buffy and Angel. . .”

“I really think the whole him-losing-his-soul-after-sleeping-with-her-thing put a damper on their relationship.”

“Yeah, but you saw how she was. She still loves him.”

Willow frowned. “You know how clingy she can be, besides, this isn’t about Buffy. This is about you. If you want I’ll talk to her. I really think this is for the best anyhow. I mean a relationship between a vampire and a slayer, that sounds like something a crackwhore would dream up.”

Xander looked at his friend in shock. “Willow! I didn’t know you even knew words like that.”

The hacker gave him a knowing smile and said. “I guess we’re all learning new things tonight.”

**********

“I don’t know if this is the wisest thing to do.” Giles said violently cleaning his glasses.

Angel sighed, or at least tried to, it had been several weeks since he had properly brooded and he was out of practice. “Am I going to have to explain this to you again?”

“N-no no, I understand the logic and this may be the best option for you but there are many, many extenuating circumstances involved here.”

“I’m aware of all of them.”

Giles stopped polishing his lenses for a moment and gave the vampire a hard stare. “I will not allow you to hurt him. Do you understand?”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you Rupert.” Angel said giving the Watcher a tiny nod.

At that moment the double doors swung open admitting the two teens to the library. For a few seconds the four of them just stood there staring at each other. Finally Giles cleared his throat.

“Um yes, well. . . Willow, I think we have some place to be.”

She nodded emphatically. “Right, somewhere. . . that’s not here.” She squeezed Xander’s hand one more time before following Giles out into the hall.

Xander took a deep breath and faced the vampire. “Deadboy.”

“Xander.”

“So.”

“So.” Angel nervously played with the hem of his velvet shirt. “Um, h-how have you been?”

“Uh. . . okay. . . And you?”

“Pretty good. . . Well, except for that whole soul-losing thing.”

“Yeah, that must’ve sucked.” Xander’s eyes widened as he realized what he had said. “Uh, I mean that must have been really bad.”

“Actually you pretty much nailed it the first time.” Angel allowed himself a small smile.

Xander blinked at him a few times. “Yeah. . . Anyway, I’m here to tell you I don’t like you, so, I don’t like you. Okay, bye.” He turned on his heel wanting nothing else then to get the hell out of there.

“Why are you lying?”

“What?” Xander stopped fast, and faced the vampire.

“You’re lying.” Angel’s face was as passive as every but his eyes were searching.

“Am not.” Xander mentally slapped himself for regressing into a ten-year-old.

“Xander, I can tell when a person’s lying. Your heart rate and breathing changes.” He pointed to himself. “Vampire, remember? We’re like lie detectors with fangs.”

“I’m not lying.”

“Then tell me you didn’t like that kiss.”

“I didn’t.” Xander said emphatically.

“See, lie.”

“You are really annoying me Deadboy.”

“You did like that kiss Xander, I could feel it. Why are you refusing to tell me the truth?” Angel thought for a moment. “Or maybe you’re not just lying to me, maybe you’re lying to yourself.”

“That’s it. I’m outta here.”

“Do you hate me that much?”

“What?” Xander spun back around and found Angel watching him with an unreadable expression.

“I’d really like to know.”

Xander had to take a few steadying breaths before he dared answer. “I don’t hate you Angel.” He said softly. “But you hate me.”

“I don’t usually kiss people I hate Xander.” The vampire scoffed.

“Okay maybe this you doesn’t hate me.” The teen consented. “But the real you does.”

“This *is* the real me.”

The mortal shook his head. “No, this is the spelled version of you. As soon as they find your curse the spell will be broken and you’ll be back to normal.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be normal, and maybe I’ve decided I don’t want the spell to be broken.”

“That’s not your decision to make.”

Angel arched an eyebrow. “I’m a big vampire, Xander. I can make my own choices in life, and since this spell only effects me it is ultimately my choice. I’ve already discussed it with Giles. He’s not overly happy but I think a lot of that is because he feels so protective of you.”

“But this isn’t real.” Xander desperately tried to ignore the tiny glimmer of hope that had manifested itself in his heart.

“God, there’s that word again!” The normally stoic vampire threw his hands up in desperation. “Real, what’s real?”

“Real is you being madly in love with Buffy and cringing every time I come within ten feet of you.”

“Wrong, that used to be real.” Angel unconsciously moved closer to the boy. “I learned a long time ago that reality is what you make of it. When I was your age my reality was being the lazy, pompous son of an Irish nobleman and that’s the way it stayed until the night I was turned. After that, reality for me became being a soulless monster, then I came across a particular band of Gypsies and it changed again. You can’t live life on pause Xander, you know, pick one moment in time and spend your entire existence in it with nothing changing. Life doesn’t work that way. You adjust. You adapt. You move on.”

“But Buffy?” Xander had to say her name.

“Will have to learn that.” Sadness flashed over his face as he thought of his former love, but all his guilt vanished under the brown eyed gaze of the boy in front of him. “I’m not incompetent. I’m completely aware of my faculties and of what I’m saying. I want the spell to stay.”

“Even if it means staying in love with me?” The mortal could feel the beginnings of a smile tugging at the corner’s of his mouth.

“It’s not *that* bad.” Angel gave him a small smile which quickly disappeared. “Unless you’d rather. . .”

Xander pressed his lips against those of the vampire effectively ending the conversation. They both fell into the kiss, letting everything else in the world melt away. Their minds so clouded by the sweet acceptance of their mutual passion that neither man noticed the tiny blonde slayer watching them from the stacks.

**********
The End.


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