Title: Gravity [1/1]

Series: The Slayer and her Demon

Author: Sonya (sonyajeb@swbell.net)

Rating: PG - 13

Category: Buffy/Doyle

Genre: Romance, AU

Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy or Doyle. Joss does. I’m just borrowing them and I’m not making any money off of this. Please don’t sue. I’m a college student and I’m very poor. You wouldn’t get much.

Summary: Sequel to Solace and Distance. What happens when Doyle arrives in Sunnydale and encounters a very irate Slayer?

Distribution: Regulars have unspoken permission; others just ask and I’ll probably say yes.

Feedback: Love it, want it, need it!

Spoilers: Up to Who Are You on BtVS and Parting Gifts on Angel, after that this branches off into its own Buffy-verse.

Author's note: The title comes from a Jewel song; I included a bit of the lyrics below.

"There is this hunger,
This restlessness inside of me.
And it knows that you're no stranger,
You're my gravity."



I love that sound. The sound of my fist connecting with a vampire's face. It's like a drug that I can't get enough of. I can't believe that I used to want to run away from this. I mean, yeah, sometimes my life really sucks beyond anything anyone could imagine, but there are other times - like when I'm fighting vampires - that it all just seems to come together perfectly.

There were a lot more vampires out tonight than I had expected. I had stumbled upon a nest of the bloodsuckers and was determined to clean them out before I left on my road trip to Nevada tomorrow. I had promised Giles that I'd do a really thorough sweep of all the un-dead hot spots tonight and I was definitely going to deliver.

A young vampire, wearing a torn up Metalica t-shirt and jeans, rushed me and I nailed it with a sidekick, sending the stupid creature flying into a stack of boxes near the wall. I rolled my eyes. You'd think they'd learn that trick doesn't work after trying it like a gazillion times.

Another vampire lunged at me from behind, but I could sense it coming and sidestepped easily. The vampire stumbled over its own feet and hit the ground hard. I pulled out Mr. Pointy, my only legacy from Kendra, and plunged the wooden stake through the vampire's heart. It exploded in a shower of dust, causing me to sneeze violently.

Suddenly, a hand grabbed my shoulder and threw me across the room, taking me totally by surprise. I hit the ground hard, knocking my head against the sharp corner of a heavy metal safe, and lay there for a minute, dazed, as I tried to regain my equilibrium. Get up! Get up! I commanded myself, rolling over and pushing myself to my feet. Half a dozen vampires were closing in on me, though I couldn't be sure of the exact number because my vision was all blurry. I felt something warm and sticky trickle into my eyes and used one hand to swipe at my face. My hand came back red with blood. I looked around on the ground for my stake, but it was nowhere to be seen. It must have rolled away during the fight. This was not good.

The first vampire rushed me, and I punched it, sending it staggering backwards, clutching its nose. Another attacked and got in a good hit before I swiped its legs out from under it. It hit the ground hard and I followed through with a swift kick to its side. It rolled away and began to pull itself to its feet slowly while one of its friends took its place.

As I continued to fight, my body growing more tired and sore with every hit they managed to land on me, I tried to think of a plan. I couldn't keep fighting like this for much longer. I was losing steam fast and there were so many of them. Coming in here without backup was looking like a bigger and bigger mistake with each passing second. I needed a weapon, something to even the odds.

One of the vampires, the one with the Metalica shirt, landed a punch on my jaw, sending my head snapping backwards with the force of the blow. I saw stars for a minute. And then, as I backpedaled, trying to clear my vision, I heard the distinctive poof of a vampire being dusted. A stake was thrust into my hand and I looked up to see Alan standing there, bleeding from a cut on his lip, and brandishing a crossbow. The Metalica loving vampire was no more.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" I demanded, forgetting for the moment that a gang of vampires surrounded us.

"Saving your arse," he responded, taking aim and letting a bolt fly from his crossbow. It sailed right into the heart of an advancing vampire, turning the unfortunate bloodsucker into dust. Out of bolts, Alan switched his grip on the crossbow and used it as a club to bash another vampire in the head. I watched, amazed, as he pulled a vial of holy water out of his jacket pocket and threw it at the vampire's face. Then he pulled a stake out and drove it through the steaming vampire's heart. More dust.

I thrust my stake in and then out of the heart of one of the last three remaining vamps and it exploded into dust. "Okay, who are you and what did you do with the cute Irish guy I met in Las Vegas?" I asked Alan, using the stake he'd given me to kill a vampire that was trying to sneak up on us from behind. As I watched Alan struggle with the last vampire for a moment, I couldn't help but mutter, "It's like an episode of the Twilight Zone or something."

The vampire Alan was fighting was strong, too strong for him. It had his arms pinned and was about to go for his neck when I walked up and tapped it on the shoulder. "In case you didn't notice, all your friends are dust." I grabbed Mr. Pointy off the floor, glad that I hadn't lost my favorite stake after all, and thrust it through the vampire's heart. "And now, so are you."

The vampire disappeared in a cloud of dust and Alan fell to the floor, finally free of the fiend's grip. He lay there for a minute, just trying to catch his breath, and then he began to push himself slowly to his feet. I reached out a hand to steady him, my emotions doing the loopty-loop as my fingers touched his arm. He was real. He was alive. He was here. And for some strange reason, he knew how to kill a vampire.

Pushing my emotions aside for the time being, I concentrated on business. Undead shop talk. "Okay, not that I'm not grateful for the save, but since when did you become a super hero?"

Alan sighed, suddenly looking as if he wanted to be anywhere but here. My heart constricted painfully in my chest at the mere thought that he might not be happy to see me again. Had what we shared meant nothing to him? Was it really just a one-night stand and nothing else? And how the hell did he know about vampires???

"Alan…" I started, but he interrupted me.

"Actually, my friends don't call me Alan."

That was the absolute last thing I expected to hear him say. Fighting hard to keep from totally wigging, I replied in an overly-calm voice, "Alright, then what do they call you?"

"Mostly, they call me Doyle."

That was when I made the connection.

Reacting on instinct, my fist flew out and caught him on the jaw, sending him flying backwards a few steps. Miraculously, he managed to stay on his feet, though he did look pretty stunned.

"You lied to me."

That was the first thought I had and it disturbed me. But it wasn't the last, not by a long shot. There were plenty more where that came from. Too many. It was like information overload. My thoughts were whirling around in my brain, trying to make some sense out this huge mess that I suddenly found myself in.

Doyle. Cordelia's Doyle. That sense of déjà vu the first time we met in the bar… no that wasn't the first time, was it? The first time we met had been in the LA offices so long ago. He'd barely gotten a word out before Cordelia had pulled him away so I could talk to Angel.


I hadn't thought about my first lover in a long time.

God, why was this happening? Did fate have it out for me? Did the Powers that Be enjoy watching me suffer? Was this all just some sick joke with my life as the punch line?

Almost as if he knew exactly what I was thinking, he spoke, "Buffy… please." His voice sounded so sad. Like a lost little boy. It still affected me. And that just made me even angrier.

"Why?" I demanded, fixing him with my hardest glare. "Why did you lie to me?"

He shrugged his shoulders helplessly, a defeated look in his eyes. "I don't know, lass."

"No, that's not gonna cut it, Mister! I want a real answer!" I knew that I was about to cry. I hated crying.

"I guess… I just wanted to know you. And you wouldn't have let me near you if you knew who I really was."

"So you thought that lying to me and then sleeping with me was the answer?"

He didn't have a response for that one. Not that I really expected him to.

"Okay, you wanted a little action and figured that, knowing my track record, I'd be an easy lay. And your little plan worked perfectly, didn't it? You got plenty of sex and no commitments to deal with in the morning. So, the question is: Why the hell did you come back? Did you think you could talk me into a repeat performance? Or maybe you were just planning to bring up Angel's name and then swoop in and take advantage of me while I was in a vulnerable state! What's your deal, Doyle?" I placed extra stress on the name Doyle, making it sound like an insult instead of a name. He flinched back and I was relieved. I wanted to hurt him in any way I could. Because I was afraid that if I didn't keep him distracted, he'd see right through me and know that underneath all my anger, I was aching for him in true, I-belong-in-a-cheesy-romance-novel fashion. "Do you get your jollies by screwing up other people's lives?"

"You know that's not true, lass," he whispered, his voice full of a need so strong that it was almost tangible. It scared me to think that I might need him just as badly.

He reached out and brushed his fingers across my cheek. His feather light touch lingered against my skin and I shivered, my body betraying me by being overpowered by a sense of longing that I did not want to feel for him. His thumb slid across my lower lip, causing me to inhale sharply.

"Why are you really here?" I asked, in a voice barely louder than a whisper. I didn't trust myself to say more than that.

Alan - er, Doyle - sighed. And, right then and there, somehow I knew that he was going to tell me the truth. And I knew that I wasn't going to like it one bit. Not that I was particularly thrilled with anything else he'd told me tonight, but deep in my gut I knew that this was going to be really bad.

"Did Angel ever tell you about my visions?" he asked abruptly. The question caught me off guard, seeing as it was quite possibly the last thing I'd expected him to say. Well, it seemed that my one-time lover was just full of surprises tonight, wasn't he?

"He mentioned it, yeah."

"Did he ever tell you anything else about my more 'unique' qualities?"

"No, he didn't. Sorry to burst your bubble, but when Angel and I were in LA together that day, you weren't the primary thing on our minds. We were pretty busy riding the Buffy and Angel roller coaster of angst."

I took a step back from him, upset to realize that it didn't seem to make a difference whether he was two feet away or two hundred. He still affected me. Trying to ignore my emotions, I crossed my arms over my chest defensively and waited for him to drop the next bomb.

I didn't have to wait long.

Doyle's face suddenly started to transform before my very eyes. His skin color changed from a healthy peach to a sickly green. Spikes began to push their way through his skin, sprouting all over his face. His eyes turned blood red.

All in all, it looked very painful.

He watched me for a long moment, almost as if he was afraid to move. Afraid to breathe. Afraid that any sudden motion would send me screaming out into the night like a lunatic.

But he underestimated me. I'm the Slayer. I don't scare that easily.


She didn't run.

That was the first thought to penetrate the shock dulling my brain. I had been expecting her to run away. Or possibly stake me. But she didn't. When faced with my other face, she stood her ground.

Of course, she wasn't rushing over to give me a hug either. But give me a break. I was trying to be optimistic here. Not one to play the meek, silent type for long, Buffy began to ask questions. She started with the most obvious one, of course. "What are you?"

"Well, my ma was 100%, grade A, top quality human. But my da… he was something else entirely."

"A demon."

"Well, I prefer the term 'supernaturally enhanced' but…"

"This is serious, Alan."

I don't think she noticed how she'd unconsciously slipped back into the habit of using my first name. I wasn't about to point out her slip of the tongue.

"Trust me, lass. No one's more serious about all of this than me."

I was ready to have my human face back again. Letting the demon out just… bothered me. It always had. With an effort - ever since the Quintessa and my subsequent resurrection, it had been getting harder and harder to keep the demon under control - I forced the spikes back down and was glad to feel my human face reassert itself.

"I think we should go somewhere and talk about all of this, Buffy. It's a lot to deal with at once and I've still got more to tell you."

She raised one eyebrow. "More? You mean there's more than this?"

I shrugged helplessly. What was I supposed to say to that?

The truth seemed like a good place to start.


She sighed. "Nothing in my life is ever easy."

"Tell me about it," I replied with a hint of my old, carefree grin crossing my face. I began to make my way outside to my car. It was an old, pea- green Jetta with plenty of dents in the body and chips in the paint. It was the only car I could afford.

I slid into the driver's seat and put the key in the ignition. It took three tries before the blasted car would start, chugging to life with a loud bang. Buffy sat down in the passenger seat gingerly, almost as if she was afraid to sit there for very long, lest the car explode. I gave her my most charming grin, hoping to lighten the mood just a bit. "Hey, this baby and me, we've been through a lot together. She may not look like much, but she'll get us from point A to point B or my name isn't Alan Francis Doyle!"

Obviously, I'd said the wrong thing, because Buffy's face fell. It took me a moment to realize why. By bringing up my real name again, I'd just unwittingly reminded her of the lie I'd told her and my former life with Angel.


Everything always went back to him. It was enough to drive any sane half- demon to drink. Of course, I already did that, so my options were starting to dwindle. If I wasn't careful, I'd start to take up smoking or some other mouldy habit.

Before I could sink into an even deeper state of depression, there was a loud pop and then a sputter as the car engine died.

Just great. This was all I needed right now!

I tried to get the car started again, but it was no use. My Jetta was dead. I'd have to call a tow-truck or something, not that I had the money for that.

"Well," Buffy spoke up, plastering an overly bright smile on her face. "Looks like we're on foot."


A Scooby meeting.

At 2 in the morning.

Have I mentioned yet that sometimes it sucks to be me?

"Okay, we're all here," I announced with my usual gusto. "Everyone's present and accounted for, even the undead bastard in the bathtub."

Spike's voice floated in from down the hallway. "Hey, I heard that, you know!"

When I said everyone, I meant everyone. We were sitting in Giles' living room as a fire crackled in the fireplace, casting a warm, orange glow about the place. Anya and I were on the couch, Willow and Tara were standing near the kitchen, Giles was in his favorite chair and Spike, as usual, was tied up in the bathroom. The only person missing from this little soirée was Riley. And judging from the way the dark haired man standing next to Buffy kept looking at her, I had a good idea why.

"So, what's the big deal, Buff? And who's the new guy?"

Hey, somebody had to get the ball rolling!

Buffy didn't say anything right away, so the man in question answered for her. "My name's Alan Francis Doyle. And I've come to warn you that you're all in danger."

"So, what else is new?" Spike yelled from down the hall. "With this crew, there's always a bit of danger involved!"

"Ignore Spike," I told Doyle with a friendly smile. "Everyone else does."

Spike was indignant. "I heard that as well! And you'd bloody well better hurry it up with your little meeting! I've got today's episode of Passions on tape and I want to watch it before I die of old age! Oh, wait… I'm immortal. Silly me."

I rolled my eyes.

Then Willow interrupted us. "Doyle… where have I heard that name before?"

Finally Buffy spoke up. "He used to work for Angel."

Well, that ended all the festivities right on the spot. Saying Dead Boy's name in a room full of Scoobies seemed to have that effect. They probably have his picture next to the word "downer" in the dictionary. Or at least, they would if vampires could be in photographs.

"So, why is he here?" Anya asked, not one to beat around the bush. "Didn't Angel want him around anymore?"

Buffy frowned. "Actually, I don't think you ever told me that part of the story, Alan."

I waited for Doyle's reply, just as curious as everyone else in the room.

"Well," the man in question replied softly, his gaze fixed firmly on his scuffed up boots, "I died."

That sure wasn't the answer I'd been expecting.

"Hey, is that Peaches' mick in there with you?" Spike yelled into the silence, a definite whining note entering his voice now. "Why do I always miss out on all the good stuff?"

Seven voices answered him in unison. "Shut up, Spike!"

Willow gave Doyle an odd look. "Aren't you a little too… um…. alive to be dead? I mean, usually we can spot the dead ones pretty quickly. That whole pale skin, no breathing thing tends to give it away."

"I'm not a vampire, if that's what you're thinking, lass. And I'm very much alive."

Giles looked puzzled. "I hope you don't mind my asking, but, if you died… how did you manage to… er… unshed your mortal coil, so to speak?"

Doyle shrugged. "That question, even I don't know the answer to. All I can figure is that the Powers that Be decided to keep me around for a bit longer. So they must've pulled a few strings here and there."

"Gee, do you think you can vague that up for us a bit?" I quipped, rolling my eyes.

Tara frowned, skipping over my comment and getting back to the issue at hand. "But, to bring someone back from the dead… they must've had a really good reason… that's not something to be done frivolously." She fixed Doyle with a slightly fearful gaze. "What could be so important that they'd go to the trouble to raise the dead?"

Almost as if on cue, Doyle screamed and grabbed his head in both hands as a particularly powerful vision started to flash through his brain. In the midst of his thrashing, his foot got tangled in a throw rug and he fell backwards. Buffy's quick reflexes were the only thing that saved him from crashing into the fireplace and being engulfed in flames. She caught him and carefully lowered him to the ground, her slayer strength only barely able to control his violent movements.

My eyes grew wide. I'd never seen anyone in that much pain before in my life. And, since being a Slayerette involved witnessing plenty of pain and violence, that was saying a lot.

"What the bloody hell is going on in there? Did someone have a heart attack? And if they're dead, can I eat them?" Spike called from the bathroom, but no one even thought to answer. Everyone in the room was focused on Doyle, who had started to quiet down.

As his spasms finally stopped, Buffy placed a cool hand over his forehead and began to murmur soothing words into his ear. "Shh…. it's okay. I'm here. Everything is going to be all right. I promise."

I raised an eyebrow at this show of affection but didn't comment.

"D… does that h… happen often?" Tara asked worriedly, her eyes as big as saucers. Her stutter was always worse when her emotions were really unstable. "It must be h… horrible for h… him."

Willow reached out and took hold of her girlfriend's hand, giving it a comforting squeeze. Tara smiled at the redheaded witch gratefully.

Buffy looked up and met Giles' eyes, knowing without asking that he'd be intensely interested in the research aspect of all of this. "He has visions. They're like memos from God or something and they always warn him of dangerous stuff that's about to go down." Turning her attention back to Doyle, she added softly, "He never said anything about them being this painful…" She looked really worried.

My memories from when I was soldier boy included training as a field medic, so I decided to put them to good use. I walked over and knelt beside them, quickly checking Doyle's vitals. Everything seemed okay, or about as okay as one could be after having a mild seizure.

"I think he'll be all right," I told Buffy softly, giving her a small smile of encouragement.

She nodded once, silently thanking me, before turning her attention back to the unconscious man before her. She smoothed his dark hair back from his forehead, watching intently for any sign of movement on his part. When his eyes began to flutter open, she relaxed visibly and plastered an overly bright smile on her face, presumably for Doyle's benefit. "Hey, welcome back," she whispered, continuing to run her fingers through his hair soothingly.

Doyle looked up at her and his whole face lit up. It was a pretty dramatic transformation, especially from his previous "I've just suffered a mild heart attack" expression. "Is that concern I see, lass?" he replied with a crooked grin.

"Of course it is, you big doofus!" Buffy replied with an exasperated sigh, a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

"Well, well," Doyle replied softly, his grin growing wider in response to hers. "Will wonders never cease?"

Buffy mock-frowned at him. "Hey, if you're not careful, these wonders will start ceasing, buddy. So you'd just better watch it!"

He smirked, allowing the Slayer to take his hand and help him to his feet. "I'll try to remember that in the future."

I noticed that once they were both standing, Buffy still didn't let go of Doyle's hand. But I thought it wise not to comment. Anya, however, didn't have that level of tact. "Okay, can you two stop with the lovey-dovey eyes and focus here? We have way more important issues at stake than your sex lives."

I rolled my eyes. "My girlfriend, she certainly has a way with words, doesn't she?"

Buffy ignored us and focused on Doyle. And she continued to hold his hand. I didn't know if it was because she just wanted to or because she was trying to prove something and I didn't ask, either.

"What did you see?" she asked him, anxiety coloring her voice.

Doyle sighed with the look of a man who hates being the bearer of bad news. Something he probably had a lot of experience with. "There's a girl, brunette, strong, goes by the name of Faith."

Buffy's expression hardened, her lips thinning into a tight line. "We know her."

Doyle nodded. "I figured as much." He ran his free hand through his hair, a nervous habit from the looks of it. "Well, she's in LA making trouble. And Angel's in the middle of it."

"So what else is new?" I spoke up with a shrug. "After all, trouble and Angel, pretty much synonyms."

Buffy dropped Doyle's hand as she got into Slayer mode. "We'll have to go help him. A rogue slayer roaming around loose in LA might be too much for even Angel to handle alone."

Giles nodded. "That seems like the prudent course of action, Buffy. And perhaps you'd best take Mr. Doyle along with you. He already knows the area and I'm sure that Angel will want to know that his friend is alive and well."

Buffy nodded decisively. "Sounds like a plan."

"What about the rest of us?" I asked. I didn't really want to go to LA and watch some more of the Buffy/Angel angst parade, but I had to at least offer. As slayerette and best friend, it was my job. "Should we tag along for moral support and research duty?"

Giles shook his head. "No, Faith is not an unknown quantity. I'm sure Buffy and Angel will be able to handle her, with Mr. Doyle's assistance, of course. And since we still have Adam and the Initiative to worry about, we'll have our hands full here in their absence."

Willow nodded, an excited look crossing her features. She leaned forward in her seat eagerly, almost bouncing in place with pent up energy. "Tara and I actually have a spell that we've been working on that might help us stop Adam…"

As Buffy, Giles and the others moved in closer to listen to what Willow had to say, I noticed Doyle looking extremely uncomfortable. He shifted back and forth from foot to foot for a while before finally speaking up. "I think I'm gonna go feor a walk; clear my head a bit." That said, he slipped out the door.

"What's his problem?" Anya wondered aloud, frowning after him.

I had a pretty good idea, but I kept my mouth shut. After all, I'd done the "living in Angel's shadow" thing for almost two years and I knew exactly how much it sucked. (No pun intended.) Sometimes you just needed to be alone to think things over.

"I'll be right back," Buffy said suddenly, turning and following Doyle outside. That, in and of itself, floored me. Here we were, faced with a situation that could be potentially deadly to the almighty Angel, and Buffy was more concerned with the new guy's well being? That was a level of emotion that both Riley and myself had tried to get out of her, but we'd both failed time and again.

Looking over at Willow, I saw that she was watching Buffy's retreating figure with a similar thoughtful expression on her face. She saw it, too. "Well," I said aloud, when I was sure that Buffy was out of earshot. "Looks like the third time really was the charm."

Willow only smiled in agreement.


I heard the crunch of footsteps on gravel and I knew without turning around to look that she'd followed me. Her hand on my arm a moment later only confirmed it. I pulled away from her. "I don't need your pity, Buffy," I hissed, trying to keep from exploding.

"What?" she asked, actually managing to sound confused. And the academy award for best actress goes to…

"You know what I mean, so don't try to deny it," I replied, stubbornly refusing to turn around and look her in the eyes.

"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean, so you'd better start explaining yourself, mister." I could actually hear the animosity brewing in her voice. I could just imagine her standing there, all righteous anger, her hands placed firmly on her hips as the sparks burned in her eyes. That was my Buffy, full of spunk to the last. Even when she was just coming out here to let me down gently before we made the long trek to LA and the vampire of her dreams.

I sighed, shoving my hands in my jacket pockets and finally turning around to face her. I wanted to be looking in her eyes when she admitted everything. I wanted to be strong. Of course, it didn't help that she looked like a vision, standing there with her long, golden curls - I assumed she'd had that done recently. Her hair had been straight when we'd met in Las Vegas - and perfect lips. What I really wanted to do was grab her and kiss her breathless while I still had the chance. But I didn't. I wasn't going to let her know how much she got to me. Not when she was about to stomp all over what was left of my heart. "You and Angel and the Romeo and Juliet/true love never dies thing you got going on between you."

"What does my relationship with Angel have to do with you?"

Could she really be this dense? Or did she just think of me as that guy she had a fling with once? Someone unimportant. Someone easily brushed off at a moment's notice. Somehow, that was even worse than the pity scenario. "You're about to go running back to tall, dark and broody and I don't wanna stick around to watch you both kiss and make up, all right?" I demanded. I was starting to lose control of what little calm I had left. This was not good.

"Why?" There was something in her voice. I couldn't describe it, but it sounded… hopeful? I must have been imagining things. After all, my mum always did say that I had an over-active imagination. I used to think it was a blessing. But right now, it was being particularly cruel to me.

Taking a deep breath, I decided to be honest. After all the lies I'd told, I couldn't stand adding another to the list. I knew I'd probably regret it in the morning, but at the moment I could care less about how pathetic I sounded. Buffy deserved the truth, even if she was about to leave me for Angel.

"Because I love you too much to watch you throw yourself at another guy. If I saw you and Angel together, I'd probably have to punch him. An since we both know that he can pretty much kick my butt any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, that wouldn't be a very smart thing for me to do." I was proud of myself. My voice only faltered once during that speech.

Buffy was silent for a long moment while I waited for her to respond. After a while, I began to panic. Did she hate me now? Was she totally disgusted? Or was she just trying really hard not to laugh in my face? Then a smile appeared on her face like a ray of sunshine parting the rain clouds. I was guessing it was going to be option C. I prepared myself to be laughed at. But the mocking laughter never came. Instead, she reached out a hand and touched my cheek tenderly.

"Has anyone ever told you that you're an idiot?"

Wait, she was going to insult me now? My day just kept getting worse and worse. And it didn't help that her hand touching my skin was extremely distracting. My eyes moved to her lips against my will. All I could manage at this point was a really intelligent, "Huh?"

She chuckled to herself, which made me wonder what the joke was. I had a sinking suspicion that it was me. "You're a cute idiot, but an idiot all the same."

Then she did something totally unexpected. Her hand slid from my cheek back around to the nape of my neck and she pulled me forward into a mind- blowing kiss. It started off as a light brush of her lips against mine, but then she sucked gently on my lower lip, causing me to moan softly. Taking advantage of my now open mouth, she slipped her tongue inside, stroking my tongue with hers. Forgetting all of my earlier plans for "being strong" in a heartbeat, I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her against me, quickly burying my hands in her hair and tilting her head back to deepen the kiss.

We were standing on the gravel driveway outside of Giles' apartment where anyone could just walk by and see us, but I didn't care. All I cared about was the woman in my arms and how good it felt when she slipped her hands underneath my shirt and began to rake her nails down the skin of my back as our mouths remained fused together. Of course, eventually breathing became an issue, so we had to break apart. We stood there, arms wrapped around each other, foreheads touching, trying to breathe regularly for a long moment.

She was the first to speak. "Wow."

I smiled, kissing the tip of her nose lightly. "Wow yourself, princess."

She smiled in return, her hands lightly stroking up and down my back, soothing the scratches her nails had left moments earlier. "So, still worried about Angel?"

I still had a few lingering doubts. After all, I'd seen how intense their relationship was first hand through the visions. And something like that can't just be forgotten. In the end, Buffy Summers was probably going to break my heart... if Angel didn't break my face when he found out about us. But I was willing to chance it.

Giving my slayer one of those crooked grins I'm so famous for, I replied, "I don't know… if I say yes, will I get another kiss like the last one?"

"Maybe… depends on if you say please." She gave me a playful grin and I knew then that I'd made the right choice. But I still had to ask her one more question before I could feel completely at ease.

"Why aren't you still mad at me for lying to you about who I really am?"

She shrugged, wrapping her arms around my neck and resting her head on my shoulder. "Too many people I care about have died or left. It hurts, Alan. And, back in there, when you told us about how you'd died and I thought about how I'd feel if I lost you again… I just couldn't handle it. So, I decided that I can't afford to hold a grudge. Life's too short. That's my motto."

"Um… what about, you know, the whole demon thing?" I wanted to kick myself. Couldn't I just stop when I was ahead? Why did I have to bring up more troubling questions? I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment. That's me: Doyle the masochist.

My thoughts were interrupted when Buffy laughed, the first real laugh I'd ever heard from her. It was a good laugh. "Hey, my past loves were a vampire and a super soldier! I think I can handle one half demon." She paused, giving me a long look. "Unless there's something else you haven't told me…?"

I shook my head quickly. "Nope, the demon thing, that was pretty much my big secret." I was reminded briefly of saying similar words to my 'Delia once, though that seemed like a lifetime ago.

"Good," she replied, looping her arms around my neck. "Cuz I've had enough surprises for one night."

I nodded, pulling her close and resting my cheek against hers. "Me, too, lass."

Continued in Warmth, part four of the series…