Title: Aurora

Author: Kim (kim.harmel@ntlworld.com)

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I don't want them, they make me cry too much. Joss and his people do the owning thing

Rating: P.G 13.

Timeline: Right after Restless.

Spoilers: Everything on both shows to be safe.

Author's Notes: A modern day fairy story.

Feedback: Yes please.

+ Prologue +

Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a beautiful princess with hair the color of sunshine.

+ Part One +


Buffy had often wondered what her death would be like; it wasn't morbid curiosity that brought out these thoughts. It was because, ever since she had learned she was the Slayer, Buffy had expected death to come early; she also expected it to be painful.

She was right on both counts.

Buffy pulled her broken body up onto her hands and knees, slowly adjusting her breathing to accommodate for the wave after wave of pain now flooding her whole system.

Turning her head slightly, she glanced at the defeated creature she had just fought to the death realizing, sadly, that it had also been her own death.

The pain in her head turned into a dull throbbing and a warm, sticky, flow of fresh blood now seeped through the light material of her trousers.

Buffy watched in fascination as the deep red stain slowly spread, snaking down the inside of her thigh.

She pulled herself to her feet and leaned heavily against the wall.

She would not die in a sewer no matter how much it hurt, Buffy was determined to get out of there. Sewers were bad places, nothing good ever happened in sewers.

Pulling herself along the dirty slimy walls, inch by painful inch, she finally reached the surface. Next, she made the grass verge; if only she could get home, she kept repeating to herself, get home to say goodbye. Just let her mother and her friends know what had happened to her.

Buffy tried, with what little strength she had left, to make it to the roadside - only a few more feet to go.... She felt her legs stumble and then it was as if she was traveling in slow motion.

Death was watching her, laughing at her, waiting for her.

"Here it comes", Buffy thought as the darkness wrapped its arms around her, she greeted it calmly. She was the Slayer after all she wouldn't panic.

As the coldness seeped in to her very soul she thought of Angel, his beautiful brown eyes, his soft tender mouth, the way she felt when he touched her. It wasn't her life that was flashing in front of her eyes it was all the memories she shared with Angel. She held on tightly to a picture of his eyes and death didn't frighten her any longer. She only felt sadness and loss.

With the last of her strength exhausted, she lay her head down on the cool damp grass and felt her eyes slowly close, her breath now reduced to short, sharp, gasps.

"I love you, Angel" she whispered as the darkness almost won its battle.

Then there was a bright light. Buffy's' last conscious thought was....

Is this heaven?

+ Part Two +

+ Two years later... +

With the *End of days* defeated and the hell mouth closed for ever Sunnydale had become a much quieter town.

The party.

"So good to see you again Mr. Giles and how is the new slayer working out?" Wesley held out his hand.

Giles shook it and smiled "Fine, she's working out just fine."

"I must say she looks a little young, then again that must be a blessing from what I remember, it's so much easier with the training " Wesley reminisced.

"Yes, yes indeed, although she is in fact leaving for England at the end of the month, seems a new hell mouth has opened, a new watcher has been assigned " Giles looked over at the young girl, she was still only fourteen and the responsibilities she held were truly frightening.

" A slayers' life is never easy"

Wesley agreed, he then carried on talking but Giles' thoughts had already turned away from the conversation. His eyes held that far away look that always appeared when he thought of the last slayer, the daughter he would never have, oh how he missed Buffy. He realized Wesley was still talking to him and he forced himself back to reality.

" Will Angel be attending the party? " Giles tried to change the subject.

" No, I'm afraid that Angel couldn't make it, so very busy at the moment, not fighting demons anymore of cause, lots of divorce cases and such"

The truth was that even after two years Angel still couldn't face returning to Sunnydale, it held too many memories for him.

"And how is he coping with his new found humanity?" Giles carried on with the conversation; at least they had stopped talking about Buffy.

"He seems to be adjusting........ quite well, he doesn't share very much, some things never change."

Wesley gave a small smile, then carried on "He still keeps a lot inside, especially since Buffy's death....." Wesley stopped, seeing the terrible look of grief appear in Rupert Giles face.

" I think we all suffer in our own way" Giles added quietly.

Wesley viewed the older man with understanding, then asked

" And Mrs. Summers how is she?"

Giles removed his glasses then rubbed the bridge of his nose slowly as he thought about Wesleys' question.

" Poor Joyce, I guess she felt it harder than anybody, it was never finding the body that hurt the most, then the police closed the case as just another runaway.

We all tore the town apart looking for her and even then we held onto the hope that Buffy was............. but, when the new slayer was called, we had to accept it was hopeless. With Faith still alive it could have only meant one thing, Buffy was never coming back." Giles glanced over at Joyce; the woman had aged ten years

" It was good of her to travel back for the party, she lives in N.Y these days, couldn't face living with the ghosts I expect" Giles eyes misted over.

" I think we both need a drink Rupert", this time it was Wesley that changed the subject.

Giles gave a weak smile "why not after all this is supposed to be a party, oh it looks like they're about to cut the cake......."

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you......."

A large circle of family and friends gathered around and sang happily, everybody joined in except the birthday girl and her closest friends.

"I still can't believe that Buffy's not here " Willow sighed sadly, as she leant over to blow out the candles.

"I think you're supposed to make a wish now " Oz softly kissed her head, he knew how much pain his lover was in. Willow hadn't wanted this party, none of the old Scooby gang had felt like celebrating their 21st birthdays, knowing their friend had never reached hers. But life had gone on and now, after two years, they were each making the best path forward they could.

" I don't believe in wishes anymore" Willow whispered sadly

Oz just nodded, he saw no reason to push the subject any further.

Later that night Willow stood saying goodbye to her quests. As parties go it had been a success, but she was relieved it was now over, she wanted to get back to her nice safe life as soon as possible. As much as she loved seeing all her old friends it was true to say that they had drifted apart this last year, without Buffy to hold them together they had all headed off on their own.

Now with her party over Willow and Oz would be going to Europe for six months.

She glanced over at Xander, her closest childhood friend, she now loved him like the brother she had never had. He was involved in a deep conversation with Cordelia; a sight unthinkable a few years earlier even more unthinkable was that Anya was more than happy to just leave them to it.

Xander and Anya were now so comfortable with their relationship that all, long ago, jealousies were forgotten.

Willow watched Cordelia laugh at one of Xander's lame jokes and she smiled.

To an outsider they both looked like they didn't have a care in the world. Only Willow knew the pain they still felt over the loss of their friend, because that same loss still haunted her.

"Are you ready to leave yet?" Oz's gentle voice broke into her thoughts "

The band had packed away and there was only a handful of guests lingering on.

"I just want to say goodbye to Cordelia and Wesley"

Her eyes caressed him with a gentle promise.

Oz didn't need anymore words to understand, he had always been able to read her every expression.

" So are you heading back to L.A tonight? Willow asked.

Cordelia looked at Wesley and he nodded his head.

"I'm afraid so, we really can't leave Angel on his own too long, research and all that you know............"

"He gets lonely " Cordelia replied more truthfully.

" I really wish he was here tonight, we all miss him so much "

Willows eyes misted

She felt as if she had lost two friends the night Buffy died.

Cordelia once again checked with Wesley before speaking.

"Maybe it's better he didn't......he's changed a lot. Not just the humanity, .........he had to let her go once and for all, the blame and grief was tearing him apart so now it's like Buffy never existed for him, he's even dating again," Cordelia stopped, seeing the look of horror in Willows' eyes.

" Yes, well, I think we better be going now, thank you again Willow" Wesley escorted Cordelia out of the room.

Xander walked over.

"You O.K Will?" he asked with concern, noticing the frown on his friends face.

" It's just something Cordy told me, took my breath away for a moment"

"You mean about ex deadboy dating? Bit of a shocker I agree but, then again, he has only just got his life back Will. How can you expect him to throw it all away again, nobody should grieve forever, should they? " Xander asked softly.

Willow stared at him as if seeing him for the very first time.

Xander was defending Angel; tonight it was one shock after another.

"Poor Buffy, she would have been devastated by all this"

Xander thought hard for a moment then replied.

" Then maybe things are better as they are, I mean how would Buffy have coped if she had still been dating Riley when Angel received his humanity? I'll tell you it would have torn her apart trying to do the right thing by both of them. I guess there really is a reason for everything, if nothing else it saved her all that pain and confusion."

He finished, hoping Willow understood what he was trying so hard to explain.

"When did you grow so wise?" she smiled and hugged him

Xander laughed.

"I used to be such a jerk, no don't agree to that" he laughed again and then continued

" I think I just stopped feeling so angry, I let it all go, maybe I just grew up full stop." He returned the hug.

"Oh! speaking of Riley, did you hear he got married, looks like he moved on pretty well too, looks like everyone just did the moving on thing."

Willow felt so sad, nothing was the same anymore, the hellmouth was closed, Riley married, Angel dating and Buffy dead. Her whole world had changed so much in such a short time.

"Life tends to do that, the moving thing, we can't stop it we just have to move along with it. There will never be another Buffy, not for any of us, but that was the past we have to think of the future now" he kissed her hair softly.

+ Part Three +

"ANGEL are you still in bed? You better get your sorry ass out of there, right this instant!"

Cordelia flew into the room like a mini tornado. Almost stumbling in the darkness, she made her way across the room and pulled open the drapes.

"God it stinks in here! Now that you're alive again it wouldn't hurt to let in a little sunlight....." she wrinkled up her nose, "and a lot of fresh air"

Turning back, she picked up a pair of discarded trousers followed by a wrinkled shirt, you *so* need to get yourself a clean......WHO ARE YOU?"

The girl lying by Angel's side slid one very long leg over the side of the bed; she lent down and gathered up the remnants of her clothing.

"Hi, I'm afraid he's still out for the count, had quiet a long night and he got a little bit.............."

"STINKING DRUNK?" Cordelia finished for her.

"Yep, stinking drunk will cover it." The girl laughed as she pulled, what could almost pass for, a dress over her shapely figure, Cordelia's' eyes never leaving her for a second.

Then finally repeating the question

"And you are? "

"Me, oh sorry didn't I say? No of course I didn't, I'm Candy, we met last night at the E club. What's his name again?" The girl turned and looked back at the unconscious, naked, body still lying in the bed she had just vacated.

Cordelia glared at her

"What's his name?" she muttered under her breath as her anger grew, the dumb bitch couldn't even remember his name.

"ANGEL, his name is Angel" she answered coldly.

Candy appeared to take no offence at Cordelia's manner, she just gave the same sickly smile.

"Yes that's it. Well, Angel honey asked me to stay over since he was too wasted to drive and how could I refuse, seeing as he is such a hottie and..... you're not his wife are you?"

The girl suddenly took a closer look at Cordelia; she saw the expression on her face and feared that this could turn nasty.

"No I'm not his wife, sometimes I feel like his mother." Cordelia raised her eyes, finally running out of patience.

"Mother? Yes, right, well I'll be on my way now." Picking up her shoes, the disheveled Candy headed towards the door.

"Maybe that's for the best" Cordelia replied sarcastically

On reaching the door the girl threw a backwards glance and, as an afterthought, asked "I left my number by the bed, tell him to give me a call sometime?"

She gave Cordelia one last sickly smile and walked out of the door.

"Sure, no problem" Cordelia muttered, then turned her attention to the still sleeping Angel, softly snoring happily in oblivion.

Angel gingerly opened his eyes, noticing how light the room was he pulled the sheet quickly over his head then lowered it again, remembering he was now human and that sunlight could no longer hurt him.

He was to be proven wrong. As the daylight passed behind his bloodshot eyes, pain attacked every nerve in his body.

"Good morning boss and how are you feeling?" Cordelia's voice was too loud and way too sweet. She then walked over and pulled the sheet off his head.

Angel squeezed his eyes closed tighter, trying desperately to keep out the deadly light.

Holding his head in his hands, he first made a few grumbling noises then finally turning them into English he moaned.

"I think I'm dead " self pity poured through each word.

" No Angel, you're hung over, that's the feeling that tells you you're not dead, so get your pathetic ass out of that bed NOW!"

Cordelia's last strand of patience snapped.

"Do you have to be so loud?" he pleaded as the new demons in his head danced without pity.

"Do you have to get so stinking drunk? Angel you missed that appointment again, there's no more work, there's no more money." Cordelia's anger slowly subsided.

"Oh...... Guess I better apologize, but later, now my head hurts"

Angel turned over, only then noticing how empty his bed was.

"When you first came in here was there......er....?" he stopped.

" A bimbo with a bad dye job and the I.Q of a daffodil? Sorry, she left. Asked you to call her... if you can remember her name that is?"

Cordelia finished the last part under her breath.

Angel's expression informed her that he'd heard, as if she cared.

"Right... er didn't leave her name by any chance?" he asked hopefully, casting her his little boy lost look. Hey, it had worked in the past.

This time it failed.

She shook her head and sighed. Pulling up a chair she sat down, her face filling with concern, she then looked right at him.

"Angel, we really need to talk about this, ever since you regained your humanity it's like..." she shook her head in bewilderment.

"What happened? You're granted something you always wanted and yet you seem hell bent on throwing it all away. You're burning the candle at both ends and you're still not happy."

Angel pulled himself up, ignoring his semi nakedness, he just shrugged his shoulders and hung his head.

"Just trying to catch up on all the things I've missed "

When he looked up at her again there was a forced smile on his handsome face.

"You have to slow down, all this clubbing and one night stands. It's too much too soon, what would Buffy think...?" Cordelia stopped immediately, realizing her mistake, as a flash of intense pain passed over his blood shot eyes, then just as quickly it was hidden.

" I don't want to talk about that, it's over, leave the past in the past Cordelia, I have." His voice was hardly more than a whisper.

" Angel I think you *so* need to talk about it but I will not push you. There would be no point, not when you're like this." She got up from the chair but she hadn't finished with him yet.

"You can't leave it like this, there has to be closure before you can truly start your new life. You're not going to live forever any longer Angel and your running out of time"

She waited but he made no reply.

Cordelia knew the discussion was finished with for now, Angel pulled the sheet back over his head with a groan. Closing the drapes, she left Angel to his hangover and his pain.

+ Two hours later +

Wesley handed Angel his third mug of black coffee.

"Did you apologize to Hardcastle? Do we still have the case?"

Head hung over his coffee Angel muttered a simple "yes" to the first part of the question and "no" to the last"

"What did he say? " Wesley pushed on and waited for an answer.

Angel finally looked up at his friend and suddenly laughed. "You really don't want to know" he stopped when the pain hit his head.

" What are we going to do with you?" Wesley and Cordelia exchanged looks.

" I give up, what's the answer?" ignoring the pain, Angel laughed again.

+ Part Four +

A few miles away....

"Good morning and who do we have here" The young doctor picked up the notes at the end of the bed.

A nurse pulled open the floral curtains, letting a stream of warm sunlight fill the room and gently fall across the patient lying quietly in the only bed.

"Another Jane Doe" The doctor looked up from the notes then over at the girl for the first time.

"Poor little mite, she's been here two years now her condition never changes, she just sleeps. Sleeping Beauty the staff call her......Sleeping Beauty without a prince to wake her up" the woman's' eyes filled with pity.

"It says here that she actually died, her heart stopped, heavy blood loss, such horrific injuries" shaking his head in wonder he carried on reading.

" She must have been such a strong young woman to have survived all this or else she has a very important reason to fight, to cling on so hard to her life."

He put the notes back down.

The nurse moved the girls long blonde hair away from her face, smiling affectionately as she gently washed her.

"But, if she never wakes up, what's the point in fighting? And where are her family and friends, I ask you? A young girl like this why doesn't anybody miss her?" she asked sadly.

+ One week later +

"Angel you're not drinking again are you?"

Cordelia asked with concern seeing Angel sitting alone in the office, with a glass in his hand.

Angel looked up from his seat at the table.

"Yes, I'm having a drink and no, before you ask, I don't intend getting stinking drunk tonight. I'm just enjoying a quiet drink and evaluating my life, that is what you wanted wasn't it?" he asked quietly.

Pulling out a chair, Cordelia sat down at the table opposite him, hoping he was finally ready to talk.

"Don't you think it's rather ironic? I'm granted my humanity, given back my life but only after the only girl I ever wanted to share it with loses hers. I'm now human and she's…joined up with the angels" he smiled sadly.

Cordelia at once noticed the change in him, he was finally reaching out for closure.

"Nope I doubt that, not really seeing Buffy sitting on a cloud all day, playing a harp, she's most probably off kicking some heavenly ass" Cordelia smiled softly.

Angel looked at his friend; a single tear escaped and trickled down his cheek, he made no attempt to wipe it away. Then he smiled and Cordelia noticed a look of peace settle on his tortured face.

"Yes, she was always kicking someone's ass was Buffy " he whispered.

Then just as quickly the look was gone. Even as a human being, peace was a luxury that Angel wasn't allowed to keep.

Could this poor soul ever find real happiness again, Cordelia wondered sadly. She reached over and touched his hand.

"You need to get a job Angel, no more of this divorce crap, Wesley and I can run that side of the agency. Now that you no longer fight demons you need to get out into the real world, meet nice people, start living again. Will you try it please if not for you, if not even for me, will you try it for somebody we both know would want you to, and would get really pissed off if you didn't?"

She waited, her eyes never leaving his face.

Angel looked down at her hand, he appreciated her friendship so much and knew that she always had his best interest at heart. Cordelia was right, he lacked direction.

"You're right, I need to find some purpose again." He looked up, his eyes held hers as he smiled his thanks.

Cordelia sighed with relief.

"Only one problem"

"Now what" her eyes narrowed.

"What on earth can I do?" he asked simply but smiled.

"That’s not a problem there's a great big world out there just take your pick" she laughed.

At that precise moment....

"And how are you this beautiful evening my little sleeping beauty?" the nurse asked. She always spoke to the sleeping girl as she carried out her routine duties.

The girl softly moaned.

Within seconds the doctor came running in to answer the alarm.

"What is it Amy?" he asked, rushing to the side of his patient.

"Dr Andrews, it looks like she's stirring, I heard her moan. Look at her eyes, she's waking up, after all this time sleeping beauty is finally waking up" the nurse smiled brightly…

+ Part Five +

For the next three months the girl known only as Jane Doe 18763 struggled to remember her past with absolutely no success. In the beginning she had been frightened and confused. Those feelings then changed to anger, depression and finally acceptance.

Every treatment used to induce her memory had failed and every failure had left her in intense pain. Yet, despite all this, Jane Doe 18763 was slowly trying to adjust to her new life.

" I need a real name, I hate Jane Doe and I can't keep answering to sleeping beauty" Buffy frowned.

"You're still having trouble with your memory? " the nurse asked as she brushed the girl's hair.

" No, no trouble just no memory, heads a blank page still. All I can remember is waking up here and seeing you " Buffy smiled sadly

After three months she was physically a lot stronger but her memory had made no sign of returning.

"I really do need a name" she sighed.

The nurse looked to be deep in thought for a while then finally offered.

" All right, what about Aurora?"

"Aurora?..... I think I like that, what does it mean?"

"It's the name of sleeping beauty, silly "

The nurse laughed and Buffy joined in.

In the early hours of the following morning Buffy sat alone, staring out of the window, practising her new name. She was just happy to have an identity at last. No longer a Jane Doe, she was once again a person with a name, the fact it wasn't her real name didn't seem to matter, it was a start.

A new name, a new beginning and as the sun started to rise Aurora greeted the new dawn a much happier person.

"Dr Andrews its been five months now, will my memory ever return?" Buffy asked one afternoon. Every morning she awoke hoping that today would be the day she finally got her life back, only to retire each night sadly disappointed.

" Aurora, we just don't know the answer to that question, if only we knew what caused you to lose it in the first place. My guess is that you received a massive shock, something happened to you that your mind couldn't or wouldn't accept, so it just closed down".

The Doctor felt so sorry for this young woman; there was a sadness about her that touched his heart. They had tried every avenue to find some family, someone who knew her, but all to no avail.

" I just don't understand. I remember how to brush my teeth, plait my hair, hell, I even remembered who the president was. I just can't remember one single personal detail." She felt so frustrated and so helpless.

"In time Aurora, all in good time, there's a great big world out there just waiting to remind you." He smiled but saw the apprehension cross her eyes.

"I'm afraid, I won't know a soul in that world or at least I don't remember knowing a soul. Why didn't anybody miss me?" she suddenly looked like a frightened child.

"The only records we have for you state that you were found lying in the road late one night by a retired doctor. He realized there wasn’t time to waste and brought you straight to the hospital himself. There was no I.D on you, the police at the time believed you to be a runaway, possibly involved in a hit and run. They tried but they never came up with any family or friends. So, until your memory returns, I'm afraid we will never know."

"And if it never returns?" Buffy asked the question that had been haunting her for months.

"Then you can start a brand new life, reinvent yourself, become anybody you want to ." He smiled and secretly hoped that she could start a new life and find some degree of happiness.

Buffy nodded but the thought filled her with such incredible loss.

"Look at the size of me I'm getting so fat, I don't want to get fat Xander" Anya sounded angry.

Xander just smiled. It had been a real shock at first learning about his girlfriends' pregnancy, but that had been three months ago. Today he was enjoying the prospect of fatherhood, he insisted on accompanying her to every hospital appointment.

Running his hand over the small swelling of her stomach Xander tried to pacify her.

" You're look beautiful fat and, besides, its only a little bump"

" There is no such thing as a little bump, fat is fat and I hate it" she whined.

" Honey didn’t you know the fat look is in this year, it says so in all the best women's magazines," Xander replied light-heartedly.

"Please explain what you were doing reading ……………."

Anya's voice drifted away as Xander's caught sight of the small blond girl waiting by the elevator with a young doctor.

His head automatically snapped back and he stopped dead in his tracks. But before he had a chance to take a closer look, she was gone. It didn't matter, he would have known that face anywhere she was the chosen one after all.

The one girl in all the world. yada,yada,yada.

Xander took a beep breath and tried to lower his heart beat.

He didn’t know how or why but he did know one thing for sure.

Buffy Anne Summers was back from the dead.

+ Part Six +

"And I'm telling you it was her, believe me Giles, Buffy is very much alive. I asked a few question, you're never going to believe what I found out."

Xander typed away at the keyboard while the older man stood and watched. Just a few minutes earlier Xander had almost broken down his door with this crazy story and now he was frantically trying to hack in to the hospital computer.

" Damn it, where's Willow when we need her?" he muttered.

" Xander, I know how much you want it to be true but it's not possible……."

" We're in " Xander cried.

"She has no memory at all?"

Giles was still stunned by the news.

After hacking in to the hospital files, Xander had managed to pull up Jane Doe's medical records.

"Look at the date, everything fits. The night this girl was admitted to hospital was the same night Buffy disappeared. All the time we thought she was dead………"

" Buffy was still alive " Giles whispered.

The two men looked at each other and finally allowed them selves to smile, the relief was overwhelming.

Xander looked back at the computer screen.

"Look it says here that her heart stopped, she was technically dead"

"Of course, and that would explain why the new slayer was called." Giles nodded, suddenly everything made complete sense.

"Right, now we know where she is all we have to do is get her and bring her home. I'll phone Joyce and Willow"

Xander was so excited he couldn’t wait to see Willows' face.

" No wait a moment!" Giles called out slowly. He was still reading the medical notes.

" We have a problem, a big problem."

The Hospital.

"We have carried out every test possible and, physically, there seems to be no permanent damage"

The doctor looked up from his notes. Giles saw the concern in his eyes as he continued.

"Personally, I believe this girl has suffered an event so traumatic that it caused her mind to literally shut down. It must have been so painful for her, she not only wiped out that memory, she erased every other personal memory as well. Now the problem with this is we have no idea what that event was, so we have to be very careful not to force her to relive it. She must be allowed to remember only in her own time. You must not tell her anything about her past, is that understood Mr. Giles?" Dr Andrews finally asked.

" I understand perfectly " Giles agreed.

Later that afternoon Giles phoned Xander with the news.

"Yes, I have spoken to the doctor, everything is going as well as can be expected. I need to get a new apartment though and quickly, somewhere between Sunnydale and LA I think. That way there is no possibility of Buffy running into anybody she knows." Giles removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes in an effort to remove some of the tension that was building.

"I'm afraid it's imperative that she has no contact with anybody from her past, that means no family and no friends. I'm not sure how she will take seeing me let alone her mother or best friends. We must take this very slowly."

+ One week later +

"Good morning Aurora, we have some really exciting news for you, it seems we have found a relative of yours. A cousin has come forward, he has been living in England for many years and has only just realized you were missing, you can finally go home."

Dr Andrews smiled happily at the girl. Buffy stood very still as this new information filtered through.

Eventually a small smile started at the corners of her mouth

"I'm going home" was all she could say.

"Hello, it's so nice to see you again " Giles fought back the incredible urge he felt to hug her, he struggled to keep his voice as normal as possible. Buffy just looked at the man standing in front of her. Giles held his breath and waited.

" I'm sorry, I don't remember you" she replied quietly with a deep disappointment in her voice.

Dr Andrews gently squeezed her shoulder.

"We spoke about this Aurora, we knew there was a strong possibility this could happen. So, one day at a time ok?" he smiled.

Buffy nodded and smiled back.

"Now remember, Mr.Giles will not be allowed to tell you any important details regarding your old life. Apart from the fact that he hasn't seen you in many years, it would be far too dangerous, you must allow your memory to return on its own. I hope that’s understood, now I want you to take care and keep in touch. " The doctor hugged her close.

He would miss the tiny girl he had come to care for deeply, there was a deep sadness about her, as if part of her very soul was missing. He doubted the loss of her memory was the only reason for such a sadness, his feeling was that it went much deeper than that.

"I'll miss you too" Buffy hugged him back.

"Big new world out there, just set your mind to start living in it " he whispered.

+ Part Seven +

"This feels a little awkward I know, but I really want you to feel comfortable, we just have to get used to one another"

Giles watched the girl he loved like a daughter walk around the apartment, he knew there was nothing in there that could possibly hurt her. He and Xander had spent all last week getting the place as *Buffy* friendly as possible, not a vampire book in sight.

He had tortured himself over the decision not to inform Joyce and Willow. He would, of course, let them know immediately there was any change but not until then. It was for the best he kept reminding himself.

"Can I ask a question?" Buffy waited.

Giles held her gaze with his own dreading the question and knowing that he most probably couldn't answer it.

"Are you the only person I have in this world? No, on second thoughts don’t answer, I don’t want to face that yet…" She chewed on her bottom lip before continuing. "What if I never remember? I don't want to spend the rest of my life alone" She broke down and cried like a frightened child.

The older mans' heart almost broke at the sound of her sobs, he held her as gently as any father would soothe his child.

"Everything will work out for the best believe me, I'll never let anything hurt you ever again " Giles reassured her.

Buffy didn't know why but she believed him with her whole heart.

+ Later that night +

"Wesley, it's Giles here, I really need to talk to you about a private matter. It's very important, can we meet up in town?" Giles spoke quietly into the phone.

"Yes, of course we can. Should I bring Angel and Cordelia along?" Wesley asked.

"NO!" Giles replied a little to quickly.

" Rupert, I don't keep secrets from my friends I do hope you understand that?" Wesley sounded suspicious.

" Wesley, I really cannot discuss this over the phone. I would never ask you to go against your better judgment, all I ask is that you hear all the details first, please" Giles sounded disturbed.

" Well, in that case you better come over first thing tomorrow"

"Thank you so much for agreeing to see me at such short notice" Giles shook Wesley's hand " Did you……..?"

"Did I tell Angel? No, I didn't tell him that you were in town, but I'm not promising anything." Wesley finished for him.

Giles nodded, he had been worried that Wesley would change his mind and that was the last thing he could have coped with.

" Well I have something to tell you and then I seriously need your advice."

"It's quiet unbelievable" Wesley handed Giles a large drink and then sat down.

" Her doctor has informed me that any large shock could do one of two things. Firstly, it could bring her memory forward once and for all" Giles took a deep breath and a large gulp of his drink

Wesley sat in complete silence just nodding.

"Or, secondly, it could cause a complete closedown." Giles finished his drink.

Wesley stood up and refilled the empty glass sensing that the older man probably needed it.

"What a dilemma " he replied quietly understanding the situation.

"The doctor knows nothing of Buffy's past of course. He believes traumatic means an accident of some kind, how could I possibly tell him about vampires, demons and slayers?" Giles rubbed his tired eyes and picked up his glass once more.

"And then, finally, there's the slight possibility that Buffy may never remember at all, so what good would it do to tell her about a past that never gave her a moments peace? There is a new slayer now, her mother and her friends have moved on with their lives and her lover is now married" Giles stopped seeing the look in Wesley's' eyes

" Her lover is here in LA and is now human" Wesley reminded him.

"And that's another problem, how will this effect Angel? If he has finally started to move on with his life, how will he deal with the knowledge that Buffy has no memory of him? Knowing she's alive, will he be able to stay away from her?"

Giles was desperate for answers.

Wesley finally understood the real reason the ex watcher had sought him out for help.

" I think it could destroy him, again" Wesley answered truthfully.

Angel had made a real improvement to his life and this would set him right back.

"So it's agreed, we keep Buffy's' new life a secret, for now at least?" Giles asked

"Agreed" Wesley accepted sadly.

+ Part Eight +

"I've decided to go back to school and finish off my education" Buffy informed Giles over breakfast one morning.

"That sounds like a good idea, what would you like to study?" He asked with interest.

The last few weeks had gone so much better then he could have hoped for.

"Art, I feel a strong passion towards the subject" Buffy smiled and finished her piece of toast.

Giles hid the look of amazement he felt, it was the first time he had ever heard of this new passion.

" Right, well I think that can be arranged " he finished with a smile.

+ Three months later +

"I'll be home late tonight, college has arranged a visit to the art gallery some new showing, should be really interesting" Buffy called as she left for school.

Giles opened the bathroom door.

"Sorry?" he asked, wiping the soap off his face.

But he only heard the sound of the front door slam shut.

"And have a nice day to you too" he laughed and returned to the bathroom.

Buffy ran quickly down the corridor, she had lingered too long over the last painting and the rest of her group had all moved on. As she ran to catch up her bag slipped off her shoulder, she turned her attention to it and crashed straight into a hard object sending her books and papers flying.

Extremely annoyed she looked up.

" Why don't you watch where you're going? " she demanded angrily.


Angel stood with his mouth open, his face a picture of pure shock and confusion

"Buffy bent down to retrieve her books then finally faced him again.

"What the hell is a *Buffy*?" she demanded, glaring at him.

How dare he insult her after almost knocking her flat. It didn't once occur to her that she might be the one in the wrong.

Angel just stood there watching her, he knew realistically that it couldn't be Buffy and yet, at the same time, he also knew in his heart that it was.

"Buffy" he repeated. It was the only word his brain could manage.

Buffy looked up at him and noticed that he was as good looking as hell.

**Why did all the good looking ones have to be either gay or retarded** she thought to herself **And how did I know that?** came the after thought.

" Excuse me" she tried to pass. Angel reached out a hand to stop her.

" I wouldn't do that if I was you" she replied dangerously.

Angel removed his hand. Then, finally found his voice.

"I'm sorry, I thought you were somebody else." he said quietly.

He could sense this girl wasn't lying, yet every nerve and fiber in his body now screamed that it was Buffy.

She looked up into his beautiful deep brown eyes and saw such incredible sadness that it made her shiver. She felt any anger towards him slip away.

"You thought I was *a* Buffy?" She asked her voice now softer.

"Buffy's a name and yes I thought you were h..…what's your name?" he asked desperately needing to know.

Everything in Buffy's head told her to walk away but a small-unexplained cry deep in her heart called out for her to stay.

Stay won.

"Aurora" she replied softly.

"Sleeping beauty?" Angel asked.

Buffy smiled

"How would you know a thing like that? " she looked impressed.

" I know a little about a lot of things" This time Angel smiled.

" I just bet you do" she returned his smile almost flirtatiously.

Then she went to walk away again.

"Coffee. Can I buy you a coffee, to make up for…." He trailed off, he was grabbing at straws anything to keep this girl talking.

"I can't, sorry, I need to catch up with the rest of my class but it was nice meeting you Mr.?" she waited still looking deeply into his eyes. He really was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.

"Doyle, Angel Doyle" he spoke softly.

"Angel" She ran his name over her tongue, "Pretty name"

**Angel pretty name. Angel pretty name**. **deja vou.**

Pain instantly filled Buffy's head causing her to cry out

"Are you all right?" Angel moved closer with concern.

Buffy nodded her head.

"Just a headache - it will pass, I really must go " she whispered

"Well, if you ever want a private tour of the gallery, I'm on the staff just ask" Angels' eyes never left her face.

Buffy gave one last quick smile and walked away.

Angel turned and watched the petite girl until she was completely out of sight. This was impossible he kept reminding himself.

But then again if he could return from hell….. his mind was racing with possibilities.

Oh dear God, could Buffy have returned from heaven.

Angel needed answers.

Giles carefully watched the ex vampire as he paced around the room; Wesley had called him earlier that day and warned him to expect a visit. He was now very uncomfortable with the emotions playing in Angels' troubled eyes.

"You've seen Buffy!" It was a statement not a question.

" I've seen Aurora if that’s who your talking about " Angel turned and looked straight at Giles. " You didn't see fit to inform me that my lover was back from the dead, real nice of you Rupert" Angels' voice was cold and sarcastic.

Giles shivered as he remembered traces of Angelus.

" You're EX lover if I remember correctly " Giles replied keeping his voice controlled.

Angels' face flashed darker as his anger grew. Giles was almost expecting a growl.

" Look, I understand what you must be feeling......... "

"You know nothing" Angel interrupted him, then continued

" Believe me Giles what I'm feeling hasn't been written down in any of your books. What could you possibly know about having your soul mate ripped away from you, thinking you'd lost her forever only to find her walking around alive and well, almost as good as new except for one small detail.."

He paused, as the horror of his next statement filtered through.

"She now has no knowledge that I ever existed....." his voice slowly died at seeing the flash of pain appear in the other mans' eyes, realizing too late his mistake.

"Oh, I think I understand a little of that grief Angel, I remember only too well what it feels like to lose ones' soul mate, to have her ripped away from you forever" Giles replied sadly.

"Of course you do. Rupert, I'm so sorry" Angel had an image of his demon snapping Jenny's neck

"It's just so hard seeing her like that and not being able to just hold her, kiss her. I love her so much" Angels voice almost broke.

"Angel, you must not tell her, its far too dangerous. Her mind is holding on by a thread, if she's forced to remember too soon that thread could break" Giles continued to explain Buffy's condition.

Angel just listened until Giles had finished the whole story

"Please Angel you have to stay away from her" Giles pleaded one last time.

Angel slowly shook his head

"Same old story, I'm no good for her. Well, I'm sick of it Giles. Believe me, I've played that hand before and I can't do it again. I'm the same as everybody else now. I am worthy of her and I'll be damned if I'll give her up again, don't ask me to do it because I won't. I can't." Angel looked shattered

" And if it all goes wrong?"

Giles looked straight at him. He knew that he had to get through to Angel and he feared he was failing.

"I won't hurt her, I'll never hurt her" Angel pleaded for Giles to understand.

"Angel, that was always your trouble in the past, you never wanted to hurt her yet, sadly, you always did" Giles finished, he walked away leaving Angel to think about everything that had just happened.

+ Part Nine +

Angel stood surrounded by a group of tourists, he was trying to focus on the history of the painting in front of him but his heart just wasn't in it.

As the tour ended he looked up and caught sight of her, he felt his stomach flip and couldn't help the large smile he sent in her direction. She just stood, looking over at him, and smiled right back.

The immense joy he experienced at seeing her was quickly replaced by despair.

It just wasn’t fair. TPTB had promised him a clean slate when they had restored his humanity and now here he was being forced into exactly the same choices as before. Stay, leave, love or? He just didn’t know how much stronger everybody expected him to be.

Buffy watched the last tourist leave, then quickly walked over to him,

" Hello again" she smiled sweetly.

" Hello again " his voice aimed for cool and distant but failed miserably.

" I was just passing" she lied.

Angel continued to smile, seeing right through her little white lie. Some things never changed, he could still read her like a book.

**How can I tell him I've been dreaming about his smile every night since we met** she thought to herself.

" I hope this is not too ….? Buffy's' face flushed red as her embarrassment grew.

Angel almost laughed but decided to save her any more distress.

"I was just going for my break, coffee?" he suggested

"Oh, I thought you would never ask" Buffy laughed with relief.

" So, are you married? " she asked as she stirred her coffee.

Angel watched her closely.

" What makes you think that?"

" You're wearing a ring, its pretty" she observed, looking at his hand.

Angel looked down to see the silver claddagh that he had replaced only a few days earlier. At the time he hadn't known why but he needed to feel the cool metal against his finger. The moment he slipped it on, his heart had confirmed that he would always belong to her.

"No, I'm not married," he replied carefully.

Buffy studying his hand made him feel slightly nervous.

He bitterly remembered Giles' warning.

" So, no college today? How are the lectures? " Angel quickly changed the subject.

Buffy took her eyes from the ring and met his, she smiled again. It took all Angels' strength not to lean forward and claim her mouth there and then, run his hands through her hair and kiss her until……………… His daydream ended as he realized she was talking. He brought his full attention back to her words.

".....so after I'd been in hospital for all that time, I woke up. Luckily for me a relative came forward. It's really strange..... But then I decided to go back to college, I decided on Art - I don't know what drew me to it ……..I guess I'm not that good yet" she finished.

"I think your perfect" he sighed softly.

Buffy's eyes widened in surprise.

Instantly realizing he had crossed the line Angel quickly looked down at his watch.

" Is that the time? My next tour should be starting" He stood up to leave.

" Can I see you again" her eyes sparkled with hope.

Every beat of his heart told him to say yes.

" I'm not sure that’s a good idea, I'm quite a bit older than you."

Angel thought fast, trying for a reason not to hurt her yet breaking his own heart with every word.

Buffy reached over and ever so gently touched his hand.

" Please ....I think there could be something between us…it's just…I feel…don't you feel it ?" her sweet voice went lower and lower, her eyes never leaving his.

Angel licked his lips; his heartbeat had trebled the moment she touched his hand, it suddenly felt as if all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room.

" I feel it " he replied in almost a whisper. He'd felt the spark of electricity pass between them, as their souls touched once more. Tearing his hand away he quickly walked off.

Buffy stood watching him leave, she didn’t understand.

There had been a real connection between them, it was like magnetism and yet he was holding back. No, he was pulling away. She hated that feeling because she really liked him, liked him a lot.

"How did you spend your day?"

Giles smiled as Buffy came crashing threw the door full of smiles and calling "I'm home."

" It was good thanks, I went by the art gallery again to check on some… stuff" she replied with a large grin.

" Oh I see, you didn't stay long I take it " Giles looked over at her trying to hide his concern.

" No, not long, did have coffee with Angel, you know the one I told you about before. Strange guy, I know he likes me I can see it in his eyes even when he's being Mr. *I'm too old for you * She laughed imitating Angel's voice.

Giles looked relieved it seemed that Angel had taken his advice after all. He was pleased and then he realized just a little sad.

"Guess I'll just have to show him I'm very mature for my age." Buffy laughed again and sank down into a chair.

The more she thought about him the more she knew they were so right for each other.

"Aurora, maybe he was right, why don’t you find a nice boy at college, somebody more your own age?" Giles asked carefully.

" Right a nice, normal boy" she pretended to actually give the idea more than two seconds of thought before continuing "No, not liking the sound of that. I want Angel, don't ask me why. I can feel it in my bones, my destiny " she dramatically emphasized the last two words throwing her arms into the air and collapsed into loud laughter. If she had looked up she would have seen Giles' face lose all of its color.

Giles waited for Buffy to retire to her room for the night before he called Dr Andrews to explain the new developments.

" I'm afraid Aurora has met somebody from her past, an old boyfriend, they had a bad break up. I am very worried and needed to talk to you." Giles spoke quietly.

The voice on the other end of the line was silent for a moment then.

"I'm glad you called, I've been giving Auroras' case a lot of thought lately for a paper I'm writing. I believe I understand it more now. I think when she was actually dying she relived memories of her past. You know the old saying *your life flashes in front of you*? Well, I happen to believe that's what happened in this case, at the actual point of death she remembered something so traumatic that she just didn't accept it. There's a memory in her head that is buried so deep everything else is stuck behind it. Am I making sense? " Dr Andrews took a deep breath.

Giles' head started to ache with the thought of it all, Buffy had seen and accepted so many terrible things. He had no idea what memory the doctor could be thinking of.

" Now, getting back to the boyfriend. I agree it would be safer to keep them apart but, after saying that, I don't think we should. You say she has already met him and nothing happened? Well it's safe then to assume this has nothing to do with the boy".

He took another deep breath " It's been months now and she hasn't recovered a single memory, chances are now she never will "

" But there is a slight chance that she might?" Giles interrupted.

He hadn't given up all hope of one day finding the real slayer trapped inside Auroras' shell.

" There will always be a small chance but if it happens, it happens. There's a trigger out there somewhere and Aurora might never hear it, she could live happily ever after or it could hit her just walking across the street. Let her find some happiness, let her see this boy if it makes her happy" the doctor finished and Giles replaced the phone.

** But could Angel really make Buffy/Aurora happy? That was the question Giles had to decide.

Angel finally picked up the phone.

"It's Giles here, I know you saw Buffy again " he spoke calmly.

Angel closed his eyes this was all he needed, after ripping out his own heart this bastard was now going to jump on it.

"You don't have to worry, I made it clear that I'm too old for her" Angel didn't try to keep the anger from his voice.

The pain of walking away once again from all of his dreams still hurt him too deeply.

"Yes Angel, I heard and I'm grateful, but I'm not calling about that. Well, actually I am" Giles sounded unsure of himself.

"Get on with it Giles I haven't got all night" Angel knew his voice was bitter but he didn’t care, he had to take his frustration out on somebody.

"I've spoken to Buffy's' doctor, he thinks it will be alright for you to see her as long as you never tell her anything about the past…….."

Giles voice faded, Angel didn't hear the rest of the conversation. He had already restarted his daydreams of kissing Buffy. Finally he managed a quick thank you and hung up the phone.

Tomorrow he would phone her, agree that she was right and they should meet again.

Laying back in his bed a small smile started to grow and Angel felt pure happiness for the first time in years.

+ Part Ten +

Two days later +

Angel stood nervously outside Giles' apartment, dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans. He caught his reflection in the glass and almost smiled, he finally looked every inch the normal boyfriend Buffy had long ago dreamed he would be. He took a deep breath and prayed that after today he really could be that boyfriend for a second time, only this time nothing would part them, not ever.

Buffy almost flew to the door. He was late, a whole four minutes. It had felt like a lifetime.

It seemed so strange that only a few short weeks ago this beautiful man hadn't even been in her life, now she couldn't imagine life without him.

**Calm down girl, don't scare him off** she kept repeating as she flung open the door.

" Angel" she smiled brightly.

"Hey, are you ready to go?" he asked softly.

"Oh, I think you're supposed to meet my cousin" she winked

Buffy knew that Giles was watching their every movement.

Angel slowly entered the room and stared over at Giles, waiting for the older man to react first.

Giles quietly cleared his throat.

"So you must be Angel? I've heard a lot about you…..it's nice to meet you" he offered his hand.

Angel realized that this was a peace offering and also a slight warning, he shook it.

"You too sir." Both sets of eyes met and then relaxed.

"Right all finished, let's go" Buffy sweetly smiled at Giles and turned her attention back to Angel. She almost pulled him out of the door.

"Right, where are we going?" She asked as Angel opened the door of his car and she climbed in.

He found he couldn't take his eyes off her face; it had been so long since he had seen her in sunlight.

Even at the gallery they had been indoors. Now, with the sunlight catching all the colors of her hair, he knew without a doubt that he had made his amends, he had been forgiven. Being with this wonderful girl again was like finding a little piece of heaven, a place once so forbidden but now his for the asking.

Realizing she was waiting for an answer he smiled as the car moved away.

"You'll see."

They drove for about an hour. When he was happy that he'd found the most perfect spot he stopped.

"A picnic?" Buffy looked over at the food hamper.

Angel looked apprehensive.

"You don't mind do you?" he waited.

" No, it's perfect. You, me, food." She laughed softly, her eyes sparkling in the sunlight. Angel watched in wonder, she was alive, she was here with him. He then noticed she was waiting for him to continue.

" I thought it would be nice to get to know each other properly, without any distractions"

He could feel the heat from her body; the smell of her perfume was driving him crazy. He searched her eyes again for approval.

" That’s a lovely idea and yet I feel…" she thought for a moment then continued "I feel as if I've known you all my life" she sighed deeply.

"I know the feeling." Angel moved slowly towards her, he placed his mouth softly over her lips, slipping his arms around her tiny waist, he pulled her gently towards him.

Buffy moved into him without a moments hesitation, her hands automatically moved up to caress his face and then slid into his spiky hair.

She sighed again into his mouth as she answered his kiss and pulled his body closer.

After a few minutes, Angel reluctantly broke away before the last fragment of restraint left him. He looked in to her flushed face and breathed heavily.

"I think we should eat," he asked finally finding his voice.

"Food, yes, eat" Buffy whispered never once taking her eyes off his.

+ Part Eleven +

They ended their day back at Angels' apartment. When Buffy had asked to see where he lived, he had happily invited her in for coffee, safe in the knowledge that Cordelia and Wesley were both out for the night and there would be no interruptions.

" I should take you home, it's late" he kissed her softly

"You should, Giles will worry" she returned his kiss with one of her own, her mouth clinging to his.

Angels' arms tightened around her small body, pulling her up closer to him. He breathed in deeply the smell of her skin, her hair. He felt her moan against his mouth as he closed his eyes.

"Just" * kiss * "five" * kiss * " more" * kiss* "minutes," * more kissing*

His hands moved swiftly up her back, caressing the soft skin at the nape of her neck. He couldn't get enough of this girl; he would never get enough of her.

" Angel" Buffy pulled away slightly.

He slowly opened his eyes already missing the softness of her mouth. He was amazed by the look of pure longing on her face. She caressed his face with her finger.

" Make love to me, please?" she whispered so softly.

Angel was stunned for a second; it was the last thing he had expected.

"Are you sure you want this?" his heartbeat raced in his chest. His whole body was begging that she did but he couldn't be the one to ask. He had to take it slowly. Giles had warned him………. But, dear God, he wanted her so much.

"From the first moment I saw you, I knew that I'd never want anything more in my whole life. Even without my memories I'm sure of that" Her smile grew.

She touched his face again, tracing her finger over his cheekbone then slipping her hand into his hair. She pressed her body closer to his, realizing what she was doing to him, she smiled.

He gently placed a finger to her lips.

"I don't want to hurt you" he pleaded softly.

She looked slightly confused.

"How could you ever hurt me Angel? I can't tell you if there was ever anybody else in my life, forgotten lovers?…..I just feel like this is my first time. I want you to be my first, my last" she pulled his mouth back onto hers.

Angel wanted to scream

"I was, I will be"

But he just kept kissing her; he couldn't stop now. Not even if the hell mouth itself reopened.

Lifting her up gently into his arms he carried her over to his bed, gently lowering her down, never once breaking their kiss.

They removed each others' clothes slowly, their eyes never losing contact. Fingers holding, caressing, touching.

Angel kissed her eyelids, her nose, the soft warm flesh behind her ear. Moving to her neck, then lower covering every inch of skin he could find.

Once more returning to her mouth, he licked softly around her top lip then slipped his tongue into the warm haven of her mouth. Simply stroking the soft skin he found inside, Buffy's' tongue soon fought to join his.

Angel heard her sigh, then moan as an unbelievable feeling of warmth spread through her body, intensifying with each touch.

He caught her hands and laced his fingers between hers; he looked deeply into her eyes. He needed to be as close to this girl as was humanly possible, he needed to be a part of her. One body, one soul just as she had always been a part of him, truly the other side of his soul.

Her eyes begged him to continue.

Finally joined and moving in a perfect rhythm he felt her grip grow tighter, her breath came in short sharp gasps, her eyes closed and her head rolled back. Angel buried his face deeply into the side of her neck, sucking the sweet skin into his mouth. When at last he heard Buffy cry out his name he surrendered to his own release. At that very moment he knew he was truly alive.

As Buffy returned to earth she swore she heard Angel whisper

"I love you"

She closed her eyes, breathed deeply and thought

** I love you too**

She knew at once with all her heart and soul that this was true.

** I love you too**

She lay in his arms just content to he held, resting her head on his chest she listened as his heartbeat slowed

" What are you thinking?" he asked softly kissing the top of her head

"I never believed it was possible to feel this happy. I'm almost too afraid to sleep in case I wake up and find it's all been a dream and you're gone." She smiled up at him

He caught her lips for the softest kiss.

"Sleep, I'll still be here when you wake, I promise" Angel lay his head next to hers as sleep started to claim him, the last thing he heard was Buffy sigh.

" Perfect"

Buffy shot up in bed. The most incredible pain was building up inside of her head. She staggered out of bed and knelt on the floor, taking deep breaths and waiting for the pain to go.

** I need air** she tried to reason. Grabbing Angels' shirt she pulled it over her head as the pain started to rise once more.

It increased with intensity; she opened her mouth to scream but found she couldn't make a sound as wave after wave of memory crashed into her mind. The floodgates had opened and were now threatening to drown her. They started with visions of Angel in his office, Cordelia and Doyle.

More pain, more memories, she felt dizzy then sick. Gripping first a chair she staggered and crashed into the table sending everything flying. More visions flashed before her eyes, a different tabletop, Angel kissing her. Pain, pure, raw pain crushed her head.

Angel finally woke up, seeing her kneeling on the floor, holding her head in her hands. Panic gripped his heart.

"BUFFY" he cried realizing his mistake too late.

She stared at him with dark empty eyes. Panting with fear she pushed away from him.

** I need to get away ** her brain screamed. The visions now flashing through her mind were too terrifying to be true. Vampires and monsters, she stumbled back.

Angel tried to grab her but she was too strong, she sent him flying across the room

** Get away** was the only rational thought her brain allowed.

She ran crying from Angels' apartment. More visions, more confusion and so much more pain.

Memories now came in rapid flashes

Sewer…Pier…Tabletop…. Clock ticking down…sobbing "I'll never forget".

Pain, so much pain and the words " I'll never forget, I'll never forget" crying in her heart.

Buffy made her way onto the streets. She saw the face of every demon she had ever known laugh at her. Finally, she screamed from her very soul.

She continued to run blindly, she couldn't see anything but the memories her mind was replaying. She couldn’t see the approaching traffic; she didn’t even feel the increased pain as the car struck her.

Once more Buffy saw the darkness coming, once more she thought only of Angel and once more she saw a light

+ Part Twelve +

"Mr. Giles, nice to see you again I'm sorry it's under such sad circumstances." Dr Andrews walked along the corridor.

" How is she, have you heard anything yet?" Giles crossed over to meet him, he was frantic for news.

" What ever that girl is made of its amazing stuff, once again she's fighting so hard"

" Will she recover?" Giles asked as calmly as his voice would allow.

" She is responding really well to the treatment we have given her. Once again, her physical injuries are not our main concern. It's her mind again, she's still unconscious. The trigger we hoped she would never find, well it looks like she found it, big time. It must have been much worse then we imagined, we have no idea what is going on in that young ladies head. Until she wakes up your guess is as good as mine" Dr Andrews finished sadly.

Giles glared at Angel.

Angel sat by Buffy's' bedside refusing to move for any reason whatsoever. He had been there for twelve hours, watching her take every breath. He had never known fear like he was feeling now.

Confusion tore him apart, fighting with himself to understand what could have happened. One moment they were falling asleep and the next, all hell had broken loose. If he closed his eyes, he imagined he could still hear the screeching of the brakes, the sick thud of her body hitting the ground.

"Angel please, you haven't eaten all day, you must get some rest" Cordelia sat by his side.

Her eyes filled with concern. Angel didn't even hear her; she reached over and touched his shoulder. He looked up, his face seemed to have aged overnight and his eyes had taken on a haunted look like never before.

" I'll watch her for you" Cordelia offered gently.

" I can't leave her Cordelia, I'm too afraid to move " He cried softly still holding on to Buffy's tiny hand.

" Angel your human now, you have to take care of your self, please" Cordelia begged.

But Angel just turned back to Buffy; he would never leave her again, not for a single moment.

Cordelia sat with him for an hour in complete silence. She then softly slipped away; Angel didn’t notice her leave, his every thought was occupied with his love. She was his whole world, she always had been, ever since that very first day.

He wouldn't lose her again, he just couldn't.

Hours passed but Angel didn't move, he patiently watched and waited.

She looked so peaceful; finally, he rose from his chair and put his mouth close to her ear.

" Please wake up baby, I need you" he whispered

He trailed his lips over to her mouth and softly kissed her.

" I love you" He sighed in to her mouth.

Buffy made a whimpering sound.

For a split second Angel forgot how to breath.

He watched her eyelids flicker once, twice and then finally she opened her eyes

She looked around and then focused on Angel.

At first her eyes were blank with no indication that she recognized anything. Then slowly the blank expression lifted.

" Hi" her first word came out as no more then a whisper.

" Aurora?" Angel asked softly.

A paralyzing fear gripped him, he knew her next words would be the most important she had ever spoken. How much would she remember, if anything at all.

She just carried on staring at him, confusion growing in her eyes by the second.

Suddenly Angels' expression changed. His eyes opening in wonder.

" Buffy?" he asked hardly daring to believe.

She lifted her tiny hand to his face, then touched her fingers to his lips, feeling the warmth of his mouth.

"You're still alive" she whispered.

Angel just nodded, tears streamed down his face. Buffy felt the warm liquid flow on to her fingers.

"So are you" he sighed softly.

Her next question almost broke his heart

"What happened?" Her eyes held his, begging for answers he didn't know.

"What do you remember?" he softly kissed her fingers. Again he held his breath as Buffy struggled for a moment.

"Not much, everything is so jumbled up, but there was a bright white light, so much pain I thought I was dying, your eyes..........then a mohra demon... sunshine... kitchen table.... peanut butter" Buffy's' voice was so quiet Angel moved closer to hear.

" I promised I'd never forget and I didn't did I?" she closed her eyes again.

The effort of just a few words had completely drained what little strength she had.

She drifted back to sleep

"No beloved, you didn't forget" Angel kissed her hand again, he closed his eyes and sighed.

Buffy might never regain all of her memory but what she had just remembered brought real joy to Angels' heart. If she could remember their lost day, a day she was never supposed to know, then there was hope, hope that she would one day remember it all.

As Angel watched the love of his life sleep peacefully by his side, he knew their life together had just started.

Aurora was no more; this time sleeping beauty had really woken up.

Angel was now the happiest man alive.

"Welcome back Buffy, welcome home"

+ Epilogue +

And as with all good fairy stories they of course lived happily..... ever ....after.