By Samantha Gold
Disclaimer: All characters contained within are the property of Joss Whedon and FOX. I don't own them!
Spoilers: Up to
"A New Man" and "Expecting" Öin case you didnít guess itís
so that icky sex didnít happen
Feedback: My e-mail address is up there if thatís a hintÖ
Authorís Note: Doyleís
not dead because I love him. So there, Joss! For the sake of the fic, letís
just say that when Doyle got ready to jump and disconnect the Scourgeís device
that it suddenly shut off, some kind of malfunction or whatever and that
everyone lived as happily ever after as you can on TV land. So that also means
that Cordelia is still virginal because sheíd never sleep with some guy when
she has Doyle!
Second Authorís Note: Iím actually writing a special occasion fic! Amazing, huh? Here it is, the magic that is valentineís day.
Third Authorís Note: Getting sick of them yet? Okay, this starts slightly sad and angsty, but it gets better! And actually has quite a few fluffy parts.
Dedication: Iíll make it sentimental. This is for all those lovers out there who are sharing this special day. All together now, awwwÖ
Tomorrowís Valentineís day, so I should be happy. But Iím not. I just canít bring myself to look forward to it. Sure, this year Iíve actually got a boyfriend for the big event, knowing Riley heíll probably buy me something nice and maybe even take me out, but thereís a different man out there whom Iím more concerned about. Angel.
Valentineís Day is supposed to be about loveÖI donít love Riley. Maybe with time Iíll grow to, but I just donít see it happening. Besides, I donít think you should have to convince yourself to fall in love with someone.
The other thing is, I donít know what I want. I love Angel so much and I still canít help but wonder if he loves me too. What if he sends a gift? ÖWhat if he doesnít?
Another day, another innocent to help. Yeah, thatís me, the dark avenger. Baddies of the world beware or Iím going to get you. I roll my eyes at my own mental joking. Iíve been sounding a lot like Buffy lately. Of her too.
Buffy. Her name fills my heart with pain because I know that I donít deserve her no matter how much I care. I love her. I canít help but wonder if she still thinks of me. Part of me wants nothing more than for her to forget about me, so that she can stop hurting. The other part, Iím sorry to say, wants her to be sad without me, wants her to miss me, to love me stillÖbut thatís unfair. I didnít leave her so that she could be miserable.
I canít help but think that tomorrow is Valentineís DayÖThe patron day of lovers. She probably has a new boyfriend whom sheís planning on spending it with and I genuinely hope that she enjoys it. Even though my heart screams at the injustice. It should be our day.
I shake my head. Thinking about her and pitying myself wonít help me move on at all. Maybe I should just sleep through the rest of today and tomorrowÖ
I open the door to the room Buffy and I share only to find her curled up on her bed. Sheís crying. Again. I only wish I could understand why, but she just keeps on building these walls around herself and she wonít let anyone in. It doesnít matter how much I just want to help her.
I drop the bag I was carrying onto the floor, then make my way over to my bed. I pick up the book on my night table and start reading. I donít bother asking Buffy whatís the matter or even acknowledging that sheís so sad. Why bother? She wonít tell me and she just tries to cover it up and pretend that everythingís fine when itís so obvious that itís not.
As I begin settling into the third chapter of We the Living, I notice Buffy drying her eyes and straightening her clothing out of the corner of my eye. She mutters something about having taken a long nap, her cover story, I guess, and picks her bag off the floor and takes out her homework. Oops, I forgot about that.
With a sigh, I put down the book and get out my own homework. I start the second draft of my essay by dating it. Today isÖ FebruaryÖ thirteenth. With a start, I realize that tomorrow is Valentineís Day. I completely forgot!
And Iím going to spend it alone. Wonderful. I miss OzÖ I shake my head, putting on my resolve face. No moping for this young witch, no way! Itís just a stupid old holiday that makes people feel lonelyÖat least, thatís how itís making me feel.
Will came back from wherever she was off to, didnít even notice me. Big surprise there. Oh well, its not like I actually wanted to explain why the hell I was crying in the first place. She probably wouldnít understand how I feel anyway.
I look down at the textbook in my hands and the words on the page all blur together. I wonder what the technical psyche definition for loneliness is? I wonder if my pictureís next to itÖ
Or maybe Angelís is. Heís always been the person to talk to about that. "Loneliness is the scariest thing in the world," he told me once. I donít think I ever understood that as well as I do now. The killer is that itís his fault weíre lonely! And why canít I stop thinking about him?
I was supposed to have moved on. And Riley really is sweet, if not a slight bit of a dork at times. But heís good for me and he's stableÖor at least, I thought he was. Demon hunting isnít exactly the stuff dreams are made of, certainly not romantic ones.
Why does everything seem to come back full circle to the supernatural? I think being the Slayerís a bigger part of me then I would have wanted to admit back in high school, but itís true. I just seem to keep on attracting the darkness to myself. And is that really such a bad thing?
Iím bored. Xanderís gone out, so that means that we canít have intercourse. Thatís so unfair! I like sex. Heís been acting very strange lately. He keeps on sneaking out and he wonít tell me where heís going. Why not?
It makes me angry when he keeps secrets. I told him that too, but he just smiled that adorable Xander-smile of his and answered that I should trust him and that it would be worth it. Whatever that means. That little grin of his almost made me melt and forget that I was upset with him. Almost.
But Iím bored. I stand up and look around. Now where does he keep his Twinkies?
Doyle is so sweet! He keeps on growing on me like a Chia Pet. Except heís not green, more of a blueberry colour when heís in his grr face, actually. He just told me that he made reservations for us at Chez Francoise, a really trendy, swanky French restaurant, for tomorrow night.
Itís not like the places he usually frequents and itís not exactly in his price range. But thatís what makes it so special. Heís going out of his way to give me a fantastic Valentineís Day, which is really sweet of him. Of course, thereís no way on this earth that I will let him pay for it all. Thatís something that the old me would have done and it wouldnít be fair for him. After all, Valentineís Day is for guys too, right?
And, looking through my closet, I just realized that I have absolutely nothing to wear for the special day! I know, Iíll go see Angel. He has more money than heís letting on, maybe he could give me a special Valentineís Day bonus? Iíll have to go beg him.
I grab my jacket and head out the doorÖ
Being alone sort of sucks. Also, the three nights of the month Iím a werewolf? Not good. Banged up the van twice when I chained myself to it. I think I might go back to Sunnydale. I miss Willow. I love Willow.
Iím not exactly one for words, but I know that sheís the most precious thing in the world to me and I am amazingly sorry that I hurt her. I want to go back to her. Does she miss me like I miss her?
Tomorrowís Valentineís Day. Letís see if I can get back in time to find out.
Dear God, another one of these blasted things. Damn these books! All they ever seem to do in predict apocalypse, after catastrophe, after prophecy. And Iím bloody tired of it.
Poor Buffy, itís not fair that she should have to spend Valentineís Day worrying about impending doom and an age-old prediction instead of spending it with that new boyfriend of hers. Granted, I donít like him much, and I donít trust the Initiative, nor do I want Buffy to become involved with it. Professor Walsh is some kind of fishwife! I donít like her a bit.
Iíll have to call Buffy, whether I want to or not. Itís her birthright to not have any sacred days that are safe from evil. She is the Slayer and she needs to stop it.
I pick up the phoneÖ
Valentineís DayÖ It used to be called Lupercalia; a Roman holiday dedicated to the Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses, Juno. Juno was also the goddess of women and marriage.
Then Claudius the Cruel imprisoned the Saint Valentine long before I was even born. Valentine, a Christian priest in the Roman Empire, was marrying couples in love, despite Claudiusí order that all engagements and marriages be cancelled so that he could gather more men to the army for his war. Horrible, when you think about it. Apparently, Valentine died on the fourteenth of February in the year two hundred seventy AD.
Later on, when Christianity spread throughout Europe, including my homeland of Ireland, the Church abolished all pagan holidays. So the holiday was renamed for the Saint who was loversí best friend.
Perhaps he is whom I should be praying toÖ Too bad I donít pray. But did he not teach us that love is something to be fought for? That it is something that occasionally goes against and breaks the rules? It has never been said that traveling the road of love is a smooth journeyÖThe Roman god Cupid is also seen as one of the patrons of Valentineís Day. Heís also known as Amor or Eros in Greek Mythology. The ancient Greeks believed Eros to be the force of love; Amor actually means love. So if there were any day that would be perfect for me to let Buffy know just how much she means to me, tomorrow would be it.
But would it really be fair to her, to do that? Why didnít I do anything for her last year? I canít believe that I left her; canít believe that sheís gone from my life. The painÖitís incredible...
I walk into Angel Investigations and spot him immediately. Heís sitting in that chair of his, the lights are off and heís got Buffy-face. Heís brooding, again.
Stifling a sigh, I perkily sing out, "Hey Angel! You know, they say brooding can cause wrinkles, and since youíre going to be stuck with that face for a literal forever, you really shouldnít."
He groans, upset at being interrupted and probably at my teasing too. "What do you want, Cordelia?" He asks.
I smile, this is pretty much our routine and I love it. Lately Angelís been pretty much like an older brother to me and I love that. Despite what I want others to believe, it was pretty lonely being an only child.
"Do I have to want something every time I see you?" I ask innocently, knowing full well what he will say.
"Yes," he smiles.
I laugh and elicit a chuckle from him. "OkayÖ As you know, Valentineís Day is tomorrow," I start, setting him up. I donít really need to, but itís half the fun. "And since itís such an important day, I thought that a person, such as myself, should be well-dressed for a day with their honey, donít you?" I donít stop to let him answer, but assume that he would agree for the sake of argument. "Well, I donít have any clothing and I really need a new outfitÖ"
He sighs, but reaches into his wallet and pulls out his credit card, throwing it at me. "Donít knock yourself out too hard," he tells me.
I smile. "You know me."
"I know, thatís why I said it."
I would stick around, but stores are waiting and Iíve only got so much time! So, thanking him, I head for TiffanyísÖtheyíve got to have some great stuff!
Tomorrowís Valentineís Day and Iím determined that, for once, I will not mess it up. Okay, so Anya doesnít exactly get valentines and all that but it matters to me and I want it to be special. Special, meaning that I surprise her with gifts, we go out, and then we go back to my place and probably have lots of sex.
Only problem is, well, cash. Or should I say the lack thereof? Ugh, I swear, Giles is rubbing off on me. Iíve really got to stop spending so much time over there.
But back to the current problem, what to get Anya. Okay, the storeís got chocolates, which are good because Anya seems to like food as much as I do, but there are so many different kinds to chose from! How will I ever decide? There are milk chocolates, dark chocolates, white chocolates and all these other kinds of imported, but more importantly, expensive chocolates. And they come in red boxes, white boxes, pink boxes, blue boxes, black boxes, round boxes, heart-shaped boxesÖletís just say there are lots of different boxes. And donít get me started on sizes.
Okay, maybe not chocolates, maybe I should go for flowers. I walk over to the flower section. Is this supposed to be an improvement? There are carnations, violets, daisies, roses, tulips, and a bunch of other flowers that I canít even name! I eye one. Is that a flower or a new Barbie Doll accessory? Maybe I should go for the classic roseÖ Or not. There are red ones, white ones, pink ones, long-stemmed onesÖIím not liking this.
All right, can the flowers, letís check out the jewelleryÖ
Giles just called. Thereís a new prophecy for tomorrow, big surprise. Youíd think that for once, just once, I could have a special day without anything going wrong, wouldnít you? But fate and I just donít seem to be seeing eye to eye these days.
"In the new false millennium, on the loversí day, erroneous passions need be recognized and olden ardorís built anew. If those of omnipotence carry on the counterfeit, the earth shall be overrun with chaos," Giles told me the prophecy said.
Heís trying to figure out what it means and he wants me to go over to help him. I donít even know what half the words mean! How am I supposed to figure out what the whole thing is saying? Iím so not research girl. We should get Willow or someone for this.
I sigh. Duty calls and wrecks yet another special day for me. Sometimes destiny really sucks. Actually, lately itís been that destiny sucks all the time.
Okay, if I have to, I have to. Maybe if I go over right away, we may figure it out sooner. The sooner you start, the sooner youíre done, right? I roll my eyes. Yeah, right is more like it.
"Iím heading over to Gilesí," I tell Willow.
Giles just phoned about a new prophecy.
"Do you want me to come with?" I ask Buffy.
She shrugs. "Sure," she concedes. "Maybe youíll be able to make more sense of it than me."
I nod and stand up, murmuring, "Okay." As we head out the door I grab my laptop so that Iíll be able to do some searching on the net if need be.
I find myself humming "Date with an Angel". Now that was a great song. The best part, of course, is that I really do have a date with an angel. Or at least with a princess. I feel quite blessed to be with her, my Delia.
Weíve been dating for about a month and itís been wonderful. She still teases me mercilessly but I donít mind as itís part of what I love about her. Especially now because I know that she does care for me, and it is no longer a rejection.
So tomorrow is February fourteenth and weíre going to one of those fancy restaurants she loves. Iím still not sure exactly how Iím going to afford it, but it doesnít matter. Where thereís a will, thereís a way, right? So Iíll just have to find that way. Sheís worth it.
Now all Iíve got to do is get her a gift and weíll be all set. I think Iíll just go with the classic candy and flowers.
Oh my god! I have to buy this dress! Itís perfect! Itís long, violet and slinky. It just barely grazes the floor with heels on and itís strapless. Thereís a slit up the back, which reaches to about four inches above the back of my knee, making it sexy and easy to walk in. I just love it! And the best part? Itís on sale! Luck is with me today! Itís only fifty dollars; regular price is two hundred!
I head back into the change room after marveling at myself in the mirror for another few minutes, than change back into my clothing. I drape the dress over my arm. Now I just have to find a pair of matching shoes and jewelry to go with it.
I head to the shoe department and a pair of tiny black sandals with little amethysts embedded in the straps. I make a beeline for them, but when I look closer, I can tell that theyíre fakes. Thatís okay, though, because no one else will be able to tell and theyíll be cheaper. I look around until I find them in a size five and, after a fifteen minutes of looking, I find them.
I try them on and they fit perfectly. Theyíre pretty and they go with the dress really well, which is the most important thing. Lastly, I need jewelry, but Iím not going to look for it here. I have an amethyst necklace at home that the IRS didnít take, so I can wear that. I got it for my thirteenth birthday and it has matching earrings and everything. I canít believe how perfectly everything is going!
As Iím heading for the cash register to pay for everything, something in the menís section catches my eye. Itís a light purple dress shirt and the colour doesnít even look chintzy! Iíll bet itís in Doyleís size too and it would be really cute if we matched. I mean, if you match all the time, itís nauseating and pathetic, but just this onceÖ it is a special occasion, after all.
Thatís it, the decision is made and I grab the shirt too. Then I go to the register and pay with Angelís visa. I really owe him for all of this, thereís got to be something I can do. Iíll ask Doyle, he usually has good ideas.
I canít believe I actually thought it would be easier to shop for jewelry. Thereís so many different kinds! Necklaces, bracelets, anklets, rings, earrings, toe ringsÖand the list goes on. If you choose what type, then youíve got to decide on the metal! Thereís silver, gold, white gold, coloured silver, fakes and a bunch of other stuff. If you decide to go for the real stuff, thereís all these different karat amounts. Whatís a karat?! And I donít even want to think about all those different kinds of jewels and crystals.
Maybe jewelry isnít the answer. I glance around the department store. What about lingerie? But, the idea of talking to some woman about what kind of underwear I want to see my girlfriend in and trying to decide what size she needs and all that isnít really something that appeals to me. So scratch that.
Well, letís see. Iíve debated on chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and lingerie, and there are just too many options for all of them! I really wish I were better at this. What did I get for Cordelia when we were dating? Oh yeah, that heart-shaped necklace. How did I ever decide on that? Oh, remember that too. I had help, owed the Buffster big time for that one.
Maybe thatís what I need. I ought to get Buffy or Willow to help me out with this. Theyíd know what a girl wants a lot better than I would. Payphones are by the doors, Iíll call their dorm room and see if they can give me any advice.
I walk over, dial the number and let it ring. And it does. Rings a few times until I get their answering machine. Iím not really in the mood to leave a message, I always sound so stupid when I do that. Well, I sound stupid even when I donít, butÖ Hanging up I turn around and see the Slayerís boyfriend himself, Mr. I-am-a-GI Joe-demon-hunter Riley. If I canít get Anya a gift right away, maybe I should have some fun. My best ideas do come to me when Iím joking around, after all.
I never knew there were so many shortcuts in the US. Itís cool. Iím making good time. I might even be in Sunnydale by tomorrow morning. Willow would like that. Or would she? Is she mad at me? I did leave her, even though she begged me not to.
I didnít want to, but I didnít have a choice. I had to find myself. And now I have. I know who I am. Iím Oz. I love Willow. Thatís all that matters. Yeah, so Iím a werewolf three nights a month. So what? Willowís always assured me that it doesnít matter to her and I believe her.
Did Angel feel like I did when he left Buffy? Nah, those two are soul mates, it mustíve been ten times worse. Wow. Thatís a lot of pain. Thatís got to suck.
Damn! Iím just about to pay for the heart-shaped box of those little chocolates and a bouquet of mixed flowers when of those damned visions hits me like a ton of bricks! Feel sorry for the poor woman behind the counter, she must have thought I was having some kind of spastic attack.
As soon as it finished, I painfully paid for my purchases, trying to play down the whole thing, then found the nearest phone. I should call Angel, it must be important and seeing as Iím his contact to the Powers That BeÖ Yeah, I mustíve gotten the vision for a reason.
I pick up the telephone and dial the Angel Investigations number. He picks up on the second ring.
I wonder how much damage Cordeliaís doing to my credit card. Not too much, I hope. Of course, it is a special occasion, so I feel compelled to let her do whatever she wants. One of us should be happy at least. And in this case, two of us will.
Iím glad that sheís given Doyle a chance, he worships her and I think thatís something she needs right now. He treats her well, heís a good person. Of course, it took her almost forever to forgive him for not telling her that he was half-demon. And it took even longer than that for her to forgive him for trying to sacrifice himself to save everyone when the Scourge tried to wipe us out. But overall things have run pretty smoothly for them and Iím glad.
I only wish I could say the same for my life. I thought that with time the pain would lessen and I wouldnít hurt as much, but I was wrong. The pain only gets stronger every day, I just get better at hiding it. Itís been even worse since Thanksgiving, when Buffy visited and I was human. Of course, she doesnít remember and thatís the way itís supposed to be. What would the point of her remembering be? So that she could hurt over it like I do? So that she could long for something that we both know we can never have?
My train of though is interrupted by the telephone ringing. With a sigh, I dash over and pick it up. "Um, Angel Investigations, we help the helpless," I manage.
Doyleís familiar Irish accent greets me. "Angel man, I just had a vision," he tells me.
I swallow. Thatís not usually a good thing. "And?" I prod him. "What did you see?"
I can almost see him shaking his head as he answers me. "íTwas real blurry, but I kepí Ďton seeiní all these peopleÖcouples. They kepí Ďton beiní broken apart by this Ė this force. And I saw others beiní thrust together. ĎTwas maddening, I tell ya," he explains. His voice softens. "I saw your Slayer, man."
"Buffy? You saw Buffy?" I whisper.
"What Ė what was happening to her?" I ask. "Was she okay?"
"Well there was this light shininí outta her. She was in thí middle of it all. Aní it seemed to be all up ta her. Ya should call Ďer, man," he answers.
I shake my head. I canít call her, it would be too hard, open too many old wounds, hurt too much. "I canít," I tell him.
"Angel, ya have ta," he replies firmly.
"But Ė " I start.
"Angel," he cuts me off. "This is bout the world, if ya want your redemption, your going to have to put the world first. Ya need to call Ďer."
I sigh. Heís right. "Okay," I concede. Iíll call her."
"Good," he crows. "I got a date, too."
"Valentineís Day, tomorrow." And he hangs up.
Slowly, I put the phone back in its cradle. Then I stare at it.
Buffy and Willow arrived a few minutes ago, prepared to help combat this prophecy we face. God bless them, they work so hard for this world. Buffy, especially. She always seems to be sacrificing her special moments to her calling, always appears to be putting her life on the line. Hopefully that line wonít snap for a long while, I donít think Iíll ever be ready to lose her.
I pick up the volume I found the prediction in. It is opened to the proper page and I show it to the girls, who both read it over carefully a few times. After a few minutes, Willow reads it aloud, perhaps to help herself better comprehend it.
"In the new false millennium, on the loversí day, erroneous passions need be recognized and olden ardorís built anew. If those of omnipotence carry on the counterfeit, the earth shall be overrun with chaos," she reads.
I nod, acknowledging that that is indeed the correct prophecy.
Buffy asks, "So what does it mean?"
"New false millennium is this year, right?" Willow questions. "Because everyoneís calling it the new millennium but the new millennium doesnít actually start until next year."
"Yes, thatís true," I respond. "And the loversí day would be tomorrow, St. Valentineís Day."
"Okay, so far I understandÖWhat are Ďerroneous passionsí?" Buffy murmurs.
"Erroneous means false, mistaken, or untrue," Willow supplies. "And passions are emotions. So it must be talking about false emotions."
"Very good, Willow. Yes Ė " I would have gone on, only that blasted telephone started its annoying ringing so I had to go off and answer it.
Gilesí phone rang and he picked it up, barking "What?!" at whoever happened to have the bad luck of being the person to call him.
Buffy and I are being quiet, so that we can hear. His voice sounds grim and we canít figure out whoís on the other end, though Giles has calmed down a great deal.
"Hold on a second," he instructs the person on the other end. He covers the mouthpiece and looks at us. We exchange looks, than stare back at him expectantly.
"Angelís on the other end," he starts off and I look at Buffy. Her mouth makes a little "o" shape, but she manages to mask any other emotions she might be feeling. Iíd imagine that there are a lot of them.
"His friend, Doyle, has had a vision, which he feels would be quite important to us," Giles goes on.
"What was the vision?" Buffy asks quietly.
Giles looks pensive. "He wasnít able to tell me much because it wasnít his vision, so he was only able to tell me what he was told, but he Ė he says it was chaos. Utter and complete chaos," he tells us. He swallows. "Err, you were there, Buffy."
Buffy stands up. "Let me talk to him," she says and Giles hands her the phone. "Hi, Angel?" She questions immediately. "Yeah, long time no see and all thatÖ So I was in this vision your little friend hadÖ A light? ÖOkay, so weíre talking about people getting thrown apart and together and Iím just standing there looking all pretty? What am I doing? ÖSo he didnít sayÖ Okay, any idea when this might be?"
Why is her voice so harsh? Is she mad at him? Why? Well, I know why and I guess itís understandable, kind of. Why is she pushing everyone away? I just donít understand her anymore.
Her forehead crinkles up in concern. She whispers, "Tomorrow? As in Valentineís Day?" I canít hear his answer, but Iím guessing that it was "yes" because she looks at me and says, "Wills, get the Tenitian prophecy for me."
So I do. I rush off, get the book, and give it to her. She opens it to the marked page.
"Okay, I got it," she comments. Then she reads it to him. A few minutes pass in silence while he contemplates it. "Okay," she then says before hanging up. She looks at us. "Angelís coming here," she informs us softly.
I walk into Angel Investigations with my bags. I had decided to stop here on my way home and didnít expect to see Doyle already there, but there he was, talking with Angel Ė who has a duffel bag over his shoulder Ė quietly.
I look back and forth between the two of them. Theyíve got worried expressions on their faces. Whatís wrong?
"Doyle had a vision," Angel tells me, answering my silent question.
"And?" I prompt. I hate how he always makes me ask for every piece of information. Why doesnít he ever just tell me everything at once?
"íTwasnít pretty, princess," Doyle fills me in. I love his nickname for meÖbut now is really not the time to think about that. "íTwas tomorrow aní there were people beiní thrown about like mad."
"Chaos," Angel states.
"Thatís right," Doyle continues. "Aní Angelís Slayer was there."
"Buffy?" I murmur. They nod solemnly. "So? Sheís the Slayer. Dangerís nothing new for her, sheís always in the middle of these kinds of things." I look at Angel pointedly. "Iím sure sheíll be fine." I know how he worries about her. Sometimes I think sheís the only thing he ever thinks about. I want to comfort him.
"Iím going to Sunnydale," Angel tells me softly. "They found a related prophecy."
I nod slowly, digesting all of this. Angelís going back to Sunnydale? As in where Buffy is? Where all those hard memories were made? Oh, this is going to be good.
I walk back to Gilesí living room, away from their accusing glares. They follow me.
"Angel? Coming back here?" Giles inquires nervously. Why do they care? I fight back the urge to roll my eyes.
"Yeah, heís coming back here to help with the prophecy," I state.
Willow looks worried. "How do you feel about this, Buffy?" She asks in a soft, concerned voice. I feel like she is pitying me and I really donít care for that.
I shrug. "Why would I have a problem? Itís just business, nothing else." Yeah, right. Just keep telling yourself that.
They seem to be debating on whether or not to say something, but I guess they decide against it. Good.
"It sounds like this will be quite draining for you, Buffy," he says in a tired voice. "I suggest you go into the spare bedroom and lie down."
Slowly, I nod. Sleep is good. Besides, itíll give them a chance to talk about me behind my back. "Okay, Iíll do that," I mutter and I leave.
I lay down on the bed. HmmÖ I exhale sleepily. Bed softÖ I didnít realize I was so tired!
"Do you want us to come too?" I hear my princess ask. What? No! I mean, I understand that this is going to be bad for the world and all, but I really, really like Cordelia. And those reservations were damned impossible to get! I owe a near half dozen guys favors.
All of a sudden I realize that theyíre both looking at me expectantly, waiting to hear my input.
"Go?" I choke out. "As in leave for Valentineís Day? Ta Sunnydale?" I know that thereís a note of panic in my voice, but it canít be helped.
Delia bites her bottom lip, but doesnít say anything. Angel looks at me sympathetically.
Princess finally finds her voice and murmurs, "Looks that way." She sounds sad, even a little resigned. She lived on a Hellmouth though, I guess sheís used to this. "Angel?"
"You guys stay here, I donít want your first Valentineís Day together to be ruined," he says.
"Angel, you donít need to feel guilty," Delia breaks in. "If you need us, weíll come."
"Yeah," I agree. Princess is right. "If ya want us ta come with ya, weíll do that, man."
He shakes his head firmly. "You guys should stay here. Itís okay."
Cordy and I relent and he leaves, with us wishing him luck Ė heíll need it Ė and murmuring that weíll call him if I get another one of my visions.
I walk over to Riley and smile at him. "Hey Fish Boy!" I greet him with a grin. Fish boy is my nickname for him because his last name is Finn. FinnÖFishÖhe hates it. Thatís why itís perfect.
He looks up. "Oh hi, Xander." He doesnít even bother correcting me anymore. I love it.
"So what brings you here the day before Valentineís Day?" I joke. He takes me seriously.
"Iím going to get Buffy a Valentineís Day present," he tells me.
He holds up a card bearing a picture of a cartoon cow Ė I swear the guyís obsessed with the things Ė and he opens it up. It reads, "You moo-ve me, Valentine!" Gag me now.
"So what do you think?" He asks. Heís got to be kidding.
I crack up. I canít help it! Heís in College and heís giving his girlfriend the same kind of valentines that we gave out to every kid in the class back in grade school. Tell me again what Buffyís doing dating him?
"Yeah, isnít it funny?" He chuckles.
Okay, I know I used to complain about Dead boy, but right about now, I really miss him. He was never this bad. Ever. Not even when he was running in one of his brooding marathons! My god, I donít think I even hated him as much as I hate Riley when he bit Buffy. Besides, Dead boy made Buffy happy. And he loves her.
"Um, Riley, donít you think that you might want to give Buffy something that, I donít know, isnít at a pre-school level?" I ask.
He frowns. "What do you mean?"
Okay, how can I put this? Do I really need to spell it out? I think itís spelled L-O-S-E-RÖbut Iíve never been the best speller, so who knows.
"Willow, do you know what the problem with Buffy is?" I ask quietly.
She shakes her head sadly. "Sheís been like this for a while now. I used to ask her what the matter was, but she always brushed it off and told me that nothing was wrong even though I know something is," she answers. "Iíve given up asking her, but I havenít stopped noticingÖ When I came into our room this morning she was crying."
"I thought she was adjusting well," I murmur.
"To what? To college?" Willow inquires.
I shake my head. "To life without Angel," I state. I thought it was pretty obvious. Heís the only part of her life that has ever had the ability to throw her like this. At least of everything Iíve seen and thatís been quite a bit.
"Tomorrowís Valentineís Day," Willow whispers. "I guess I can see how that would be hard for herÖbut sheís got Riley now! She likes Riley a lot, doesnít she?"
Shrugging, I say, "I donít know, Iím not around them enough to have a sense of that. But heís not her soul mate, Willow. Iím sorry to say that sheís already found and lost that."
Willow frowns. "Why didnít I think of that? We should do something," she comments.
"Yes, we should," I agree. "But right now I feel that it is vital that we look into this prophecy."
"Okay." And we do.
Iíve got the top of the convertible up and Iím grateful that the windows are blackened. This way I should be able to get to Sunnydale by dark. Iíll be no help if I arrive just in time to watch chaos arrive.
Driving does not require too much thought, so when I drive my thoughts tend to wander. Usually to Her. Thatís what theyíre doing now.
I canít believe Iím going back to Sunnydale again. This is going to be incredibly hard, but Iíd never forgive myself if I didnít come and something happened to her.
Sheís everything to me. Even when Iím not around her, Iím still doing everything for her. Sheís the inspiration that leads me to my redemption. Sheís the one whose forgiveness means the most to me. I love her with all of my heart and all of my soul. But I donít deserve her.
I try to block out the memories because they hurt so much, but I canít and I really donít want to. Though theyíre painful, theyíre also all that sustain me.
I remember how her skin feels, always so soft and smooth. I remember the taste of her, how I could go insane and how I loved every minute of it. I remember the glorious pressure of her body pressed to mine and the equally wonderful feel of her lips against my own. Iíd kill to feel them again.
I also remember that I hurt her. More than once. I remember having to struggle for control at times, barely holding my head above the water, so to speak. If I hurt her again, I think I may have to stake myself.
Iíll be in Sunnydale by noon tomorrow. I might have been sooner except for that detour and the couple of pit stops I had to take. But Iíll be there by tomorrow. Iím glad.
I hope I donít have to make any more stops.
I turn on the radio. I like this song. Cool. I drum my hand casually on the steering wheel with the beat. Yeah, this is very cool.
"In the new false millennium, on the loversí day, erroneous passions need be recognized and olden ardorís built anew. If those of omnipotence carry on the counterfeit, the earth shall be overrun with chaos," I read the prophecy for what feels like the millionth time.
"All right, weíve already established that the prophecy is talking of the Valentineís Day tomorrow," Giles states. I nod. "And the second sentence is saying that we need to recognize false emotions, correct?"
I nod again. "ĎOlden ardorís built anewíÖIím having trouble making sense of that one," I murmur.
"As am I, perhaps we should skip ahead to the next part?"
"We could do that."
"If those of omnipotence carry on the counterfeit," I read. "Well, omnipotence means all-powerful, almighty, and god-likeÖ"
"So it must be talking about those who are powerful," Giles concludes.
"But who are they?" I question.
"Perhaps it refers to the Slayer? Angel did say that she was in the center of the vision and it wouldnít be the first time that the prophecy has focused on her," he suggests.
"That could be it," I allow. "So the Slayer Ďcarries on the counterfeitíÖ Buffyís manufacturing fake money?" This is really confusing.
"Well, since weíre both already here, I guess I should show this to you now," Delia suggests.
I look at her, suddenly very curious. "Show what ta me?"
She reaches in her bag and pulls out a purple shirt. A menís purple shirt. Uh-oh. "Purple?" I ask.
"It matches my dress," she tells me. She looks at me with pleading eyes and I know sheís going to get her way. "I thought it would be really nice ifÖ I mean, it is Valentineís Day tomorrow and all."
With a sigh, I nod, sealing my fate. On the positive side, I donít have to worry about wearing something that would offend her and now I know what kind of flowers to buy her.
"Buffyís not an eight-year old, sheís going to want something thatís actually got feeling behind it," Xander states.
Thereís lots of feeling behind this! It was really hard to choose this card! And cows are very special things. I couldnít have chosen a more special animal to have on the card. I know sheíll love it!
Oh well, Xander doesnít know what heís talking about. Besides, he doesnít even go to College, so what does he know? Yeah, Buffy will love it. Now I need to find a card for Professor Walsh, should I get her flowers too? I think the professor would like flowers. Iím already getting Buffy one of those hearts that are full of skittlesÖ
"Hello? Earth to RileyÖ" Xanderís waving his hand in my face. I blink. I hadnít even realized that Iíd zoned out there!
"Sorry," I murmur.
He sighs. "Iíve got to get Anya her present, you just do whatever you want." He walks off and I shrug. Now, what kind of flowers to get Walsh?
Finally, I get there. Just as I thought, itís just after dark, so I can step out of my car without fitting into a dust buster. Thatís always good to know. I walk up Gilesí steps and knock on the front door.
Giles answers it. "Angel, youíre here quite soon," he comments.
"I left as soon as I could," I reply. "What have you got so far?"
He moves out of the way and I go in. I see Willow in the family room, but looking around, donít see anyone else. Whereís Buffy?
"Sheís lying down to conserve her strength," Giles tells me. Am I that transparent?
"Okay," I pick up the book of Tenitian Prophecies, Iím pretty sure thatís the one Buffy said it was in. I open it up and, sure enough, the prophecy all but jumps out at me. I read it in my head, then put it down.
"What do you make of it?" Giles asks.
"Does it make any sense to you?" Willow inquires. "We figured out that itís tomorrow, that we need to recognize false emotions, and that it probably revolves around Buffy."
"Okay, so tomorrow false emotions need to be seen for what they are and old passions or loves need to be re-established and renewed. Then, if Buffy and other people who are powerful continue to pretend things that they donít really feel, weíre going to see chaos similar to what Doyle saw in his vision," I attempt a surmise.
"That could quite possibly be true," Giles agreed.
"What could?" I turn around. My love is awake.
The second he arrived, I felt him and I was wide-awake. Even after all that time apart, I can still feel him inside when heís near. Is that good or bad? Iím not sure.
I get up, smooth my hair and clothing, then head to the living room, where I know they are. I arrive just in time to hear Giles agreeing with something that Angel said. Iím not sure what though, so I ask.
Angelís really knowledgeable, I wonder if he cracked the prophecy already? Well, even if he found out what it means, weíd still have a lot of work to do.
"Angel may have discovered the meaning of the prophecy," Giles informed me.
I force a smile. "Great," I murmur. I spare a glance at Angel. He doesnít seem to be very comfortable. Is it the situation or is it me? Probably a combination of both, I realize.
"As far as I can tell, the prophecy is saying that unless those with powers realize that they are faking certain emotions, are honest, and renew old loves, weíre in for chaos," Angel surmises what I guess they covered earlier.
"Okay, so who are those with powers?" I ask.
"We think that itís you, Buffy," Willow tells me.
"But it says Ďthose of omnipotence,í" I point out. "Itís not talking about just me, thereíve got to be others. Guys?"
"Maybe by omnipotent they mean warriors," Angel suggests.
"Warriors?" I echo, frowning and making a face.
Angel appears to falter for a second before covering it up. "It just means the people who fight for good and the Powers That Be," he answers.
"So people like you and Buffy, then," Willow states.
"Yeah," Angel murmurs.
"How do you know if someoneís a warrior?" Buffy questions.
Angel shrugs. "Itís up to the Powers That Be, Iím not too sure," he replies.
"Well, letís say that this omnipotence is referring to your ĎWarriorsí, what does this mean? And how do we prevent the overrunning of chaos in our world?" I inquire.
"I think thatís what we need to figure out," Buffy says softly.
I nod. "All right then," I reply. Thatís when the phone rings. With a sigh, I get up to answer it. That contraption is getting right annoying.
"Hello?" I question gruffly as I pick up the phone.
Cordeliaís voice greets me. "Hi, Giles," she responds, ignoring my tone. "Look, Doyle just had another vision."
"He had another vision? What did he see?" I ask.
"He says that thereís some kind of box. Itís called theÖthe Valour of Virtue and it responds only to the truth. You need to get the PTBís two strongest warriors to correct all false emotions or something to the box and then itíll emit some kind of light that will save us. Go figure," she informs me.
"And who are the two strongest warriors?"
"Iím pretty sure itís Buffy and AngelÖtogether anyway," she answers. I hear a hiss of pain in the background and I can almost feel Cordelia withdraw. "Iíve got to go, that one really banged Doyle up. You guys can call if you need anything else."
I tell her, "I understand." She hangs up and then, so do I.
I walk back into the living room. "Your friend, Doyle, just had another vision," I tell them. "Come on now, weíve got to research the Valour of Virtue."
Valour of VirtueÖthat sounds so familiar. I know Iíve heard of it before, I think itís some kind of truth box, isnít it? But where would we find it? I pick up my laptop, hook it up and turn it on. I wait the few seconds it takes for it to boot, and then I log onto the net. I begin searching and soon Iíve found a match.
The Sunnydale Museum, how convenient. But how will we get this? I guess we could send some kind of team to get it or something. It wouldnít be the first time Buffyís broken the law to save the world.
"Guys," I murmur. "I found it. Itís at the Sunnydale Museum."
Buffy nods. "Okay, Angel and I will go for it then, you and Giles should keep on researching."
"Okay," I reply. "Itís a golden colour box and itís in the west wing, all right?"
"Got it," she smiles. "Angel?"
"Ready," he states, standing up.
"Be careful," Giles murmurs. And theyíre gone.
We get to the museum in good time. I swear the security in Sunnydale has got to be some kind of joke. LAís a lot harder to sneak around in. Of course, we both work well, especially in the dark. Itís our calling.
I think Iím going crazy. I must be imagining. Itís not possible that weíre really moving in sync as much as we appear to be to me. Thereís just no way. I glance over at Buffy, trying to read her eyes, but I canít. Theyíre too guarded. She seems to have changed a bit, or maybe thatís just her defenses.
We slip around from hall to hall, trying to find the box. Finally, we find it on display. The caption reads "Valour of Virtue" and itís a golden colour just like Willow said. Itís got to be the right one.
"Do you sense any hidden security measures or anything?" Buffy whispers.
"No," I whisper back. "I donít think there are any."
"Letís hope not." And she grabs the box. We freeze for a second. Nothing. Breathing small sighs of relief, we take off together.
Somehow, I guess the same way we managed to get in; we manage to get out. We arrive at Gilesí doorway and not even thirty minutes have passed since we left.
I spare a glance at Buffy. Every time I see her sheís more beautiful than she was the last time I saw her. Sheís got the box under her arm and her cheeks are slightly flushed from running. It makes her look incredibly sexy.
She feels my stare on her and meets my eyes. I try to avert my gaze, but I canít bring myself to turn myself from her. Her eyes are captivating and they bind me where I am.
She blinks and I find myself counting her eyelashes, the strands of hair that surround her face, the specks in her eyes. Everything. I could lose myself in her. This is crazy; Iíve got to stop.
Get back to my house at about eleven. Anya looks ready to kill me. Iím just glad that I hid the packages in the car. She wonít find them this way. I canít believe I actually found something for her. And I think I chose well! Iím so proud of myself.
"Where were you?" She asks, hands on hips.
"I Ė I had things I needed to do," I stutter.
"Things? What things? Why couldnít I come?" She demands.
"Donít worry about it," I tell her.
"No! I will worry. Because thatís what women do," she informs me. "Are you cheating on me?"
I choke back a laugh. "Not at all," I assure her. "Look, youíll find out tomorrow, okay?"
She sighs. "Okay," she relents. She smiles at me, then. "I missed you."
I smile back. "Me too," I murmur. Then we kiss. I really like Anya. A lot.
Wow. I can feel my breathing quickening and I will it to calm, but it doesnít seem to be listening to me. Angel has the most amazing eyes Iíve ever seen. Staring into them, I can feel myself slipping back in timeÖ No, stop that, I order myself. He left me. He doesnít want to be with me. Last time he was down here he didnít even let me know he was here and when I went to LA he barely said two words to me.
But I canít seem to stop myself. I love him so much, but I canít let anyone know. Besides, Iím with Riley now. It would be wrong to hurt him. Hell, how would I hurt him? This is Angel. Weíre talking about Mr. Noble himself. Heíd never let us go anywhere with it anyway.
"We Ė we should go inside now," I murmur. He blinks and he looks like he was just snapped out of some kind of trance. Did I do that to him? No, probably not. I only wish I could.
"Um, yeah," he slowly agrees. He reaches for the door handle and opens the door. Then he holds it for me. He always was the gentleman. I walk in, shifting the boxís weight to my other arm as he closes the door. He notices and takes it from me, giving my arms a bit of a rest.
"Thanks," I murmur. He gives me one of his half-smiles by way of a response. I manage one in return and we enter the living room, baring the Valour of VirtueÖor is it Virtue of Valour? I canít remember and I donít care. Weíll just use the stupid box and be done with it.
"We got the box," I announce.
"Thank heavens," Giles whispers. I frown.
Willow explains, "It needs to be done before midnight. Oh and Giles was telling me about the vision that Doyle had, the second one. Apparently you and Buffy are the two strongest warriors for the Powers That Be right now, so itíll need your confessions."
Hold on a minute. Confessions? As in, I need to confess everything thatís in my heart to some box? And probably all the people in the room too? Why am I not loving this?
And Angelís too? What if he ends up confessing that he doesnít love me? That he found someone else in LA? Please tell me he didnít find someone else in LA. I donít know if I could stand it.
It needs us to tell our secrets. To tell the truth. It sounds almost like confession in Church, only instead of confessing to a priest, weíll be confessing to a box. And not in an empty room.
What if Buffy tells that sheís moved on? And itís the truth? I know that I left, but it would break my heart to hear it. Not so soonÖ No, if the world needs it, then I have to. Doyle told me that I might need to make some big sacrifices while trying to earn my redemption and this is nothing compared to sacrificing my humanity. I can do this.
"All right," I whisper, my throat suddenly dry. I glance at the clock on Gilesí table. It is eleven thirty. We havenít got much time. "What do we still need?"
"Just the spell to activate it whichÖIíve got right here," Willow answers, pointing to her computer screen. I see her plug in her printer and soon the noisiness of a poor quality, portable printer fills the room.
"Okay," Buffy agrees apprehensively.
"Printed," Willow announces. She holds it up as though to prove it. "Do you want me to do the spell now?"
Giles nods. "Please."
Willow begins chanting in a language Iím not too familiar with. I canít understand the spell exactly, but I figure that it must have worked because the box, which I had placed on the table earlier, begins to glow and floats a few inches in the air.
Unconsciously, we all seem to gather around it, mesmerized.
"Iíd suggest that you do this now," Giles whispers, glancing at the clock. Itís ten to. Time seems to be just flying by.
"Buffy, you go first," Willow tells my Slayer.
Slowly, Buffy nods and looks at the box. She swallows, then begins to speak.
Working night shifts can get pretty boring, but I donít mind too much because I get to talk with Professor Walsh.
"Riley," sheís saying. "That demon you killed tonight makes eighteen! Iím so proud of you!"
I beam. "I love you," I blurt out. Hold on, where did that come from? Suddenly, I feel different, like I canít lie. I think for a few seconds and then I realize that itís true. I love Professor Walsh.
Who is looking at me strangely right now. Uh-oh. "I thought you were in love with Buffy," she whispers.
I shake my head. "Itís been you all along," I murmur. "Itís always been you."
Then Maggie does something that you donít see too often. She breaks into a wide grin. "Well," she says slowly. "I love you too."
I smile and give her my hand, which she accepts. We walk out of the Initiative hand-in-hand. Weíll be back, of course, but right now, I think we need some quality alone time.
"Um, I love Riley," Buffy tries. Why is she still pretending? Of course, she quickly sees that itís not going to work because the boxís aura turns red. She sighs. "Okay, I donít love Riley." The aura returns to its original colour. She looks up and her eyes meet Angelís. "Angel, I love you," she whispers. The box gets brighter. "I always have, I always will. Angel, Iím never going to get over you." Her eyes are shimmering. Tears, I realize. "And I donít want to pretend anymore." She glares at the box. "There are you happy now?" Her voice is full of contempt.
"Um, okay, you go now, Angel," I try to ease the tension in the room.
He looks at the box, then without any hesitation, he declares, "I love you, Buffy Summers, with all my heart and with all my soul. I will never love another as long as I should live."
Buffy looks up at him. By now there are tears in both their eyes. Theyíve both been lying, I realize. To themselves, each other, everybody. I think Iím going to cry; this is so beautiful.
I glance over at the box. It appears to be humming almost, the light is vibrating so strongly, and then the light explodes in an ťclair of golden light. I can feel it flowing through me and itís extremely calming. I love Oz.
Itís Valentineís Day morning. Buffy and Angel have gotten back together and Iím happy for them. Buffy finally seems to be happy again, the girl she used to be. Thereís no better Valentineís day gift for me.
Willow is back at her dorm and my heart goes out to her. Itís a shame that one so young should have to spend a day of love alone.
I like Xander. He bought me presents. I didnít even remember that it was Valentineís Day. As a vengeance demon it wasnít exactly one of the holidays I celebrated.
Iím out at a little restaurant with my Xander. And he finally lets me open them. He got me a heart full of red skittles, a box of chocolates, and a silver pinky ring with my name engraved into it. It was very sweet of him. I feel bad that I donít have a gift for him.
I guess weíll just have to have lots of sex to make up for it.
I pull up at UC Sunnydale at one oíclock. I get out of the van and head straight for my Willow. I love her and I can smell her. Sheís here and sheís sad. I hope I can make her feel better.
I reach the dorm room and I knock on the door.
"Whoís there?" I hear her voice call out.
"Itís me," I answer.
Suddenly I hear her dash up and throw the door open. "Oz?" She questions disbelieving me.
I nod. "Itís me," I reply.
She throws her arms around me and I hug her tight. "I love you," I whisper. "Iím sorry I left, I canít live without you."
She smiles back at me. "I love you too and Iím glad you came back."
She lets me into her room and then she closes the door behind us. I love Valentineís Day.
This has been the best Valentineís Day ever. The worlds not in complete chaos and me and Doyle are eating in Chez Francoise together. He gave me orchids. I love them! They go with my dress perfectly. We match nicely.
I smile across the table at him. Then he does something I hadnít expected. He pulls out a jewelry box. He canít possibly have been able to afford all of this! Slowly, gingerly, he opens it. Inside is a small anklet with the words "Doyleís Princess" on the inside. He looks at me tentatively.
My smile grows even wider. "I love it," I whisper, taking it from him. "Okay, thatís it, youíre going to let me pay for dinner."
He opens his mouth to protest. "Delia Ė "
"Forget it, Doyle. I know youíre not made of money and I donít expect you to be. I love you just the way you are," I tell him. Hold it. Love, I just said the L-word. Do I love him? My heart tells me I do.
He seems just as surprised as I am. "Thatís right, Doyle. I love you," I whisper.
He smiles. "Iíve loved you since I met you, Delia."
She loves me. Even after everything Iíve done, she still loves me. Iíd better be careful. Iím so happy I could lose my soul.
Weíre in that spare room of Gilesí. Heís at Jennyís grave. Heíll probably be there all night. Weíre not at her dorm because Oz got back and she wants to give Willow sometime alone with him, which I can understand.
I hug her close to me and she relaxes in my arms. Itís like she was made to fit into my arms. Or perhaps my arms were made to embrace her. It doesnít matter, all that matters is weíre a perfect fit. I press a kiss to her forehead.
"Spend the night, Angel," she whispers.
"Okay," I whisper.
We lay down on the bed together. The curse is still there, thereís nothing we can do about that. But that doesnít mean that I canít love her. And never underestimate cuddling.
I hold her in my arms and I feel truly loved. As we fall asleep, I reflect back on the day. This has certainly been the best Valentineís Day ever.