Less Than Second Best
Rating: G. Sorry.
Of course I noticed the--direction my thoughts were taking. It was rather difficult to miss. Especially when we caught him...in the shower...
Perhaps it's best if I don't think of that.
So. I knew. But I didn't believe it was serious. Purely a, a physical attraction, compounded by gratitude. And loneliness. And--yes, all right, it's been a considerable amount of time since...anything. Some...fantasies were perhaps inevitable, that's what I told myself. One might wonder why I didn't fix on Cordelia as my object of fancy, as I had before--I've certainly asked myself. Perhaps it's to do with that last, disappointing kiss--or her complete dismissal of me when I showed up on their doorstep--or perhaps I've only come to realize that she can be extraordinarily annoying... In any case, it's not her that my eyes lit on.
It was uncomfortable, yes. To be attracted to a man was bad enough--but to be attracted to a *vampire*? One of the beings I was bred and trained to exterminate? And *this* vampire--I'd been through the records, I knew the details--including some that had inspired a quick, green-faced rush to the bathroom. What he'd done--what he'd tried to do--"monster" is a wholly inadequate description.
That's Angelus. It has nothing to do with Angel.
I began to learn on that first day, when he broke in to rescue me and Giles from fates that made death sound appealing. And when I read the *other* records, the ones that flatly contradicted everything I knew about the universe. A vampire? Caring? Noble? Self-sacrificing? Nonsense. But the longer I stayed, the more I came to learn that it wasn't. And nothing I've seen in Los Angeles has contradicted that--on the contrary, it's confirmed without doubt that the man is--a hero. One who fights for the innocent, who watches over his friends, who is left as sick as I was by the memories of what his demonself has done--
Who took in a failed Watcher who had never said two kind words to him, and casually gave him a job, a purpose, and a home.
Oh, yes. I know what he's done for me. Fertile ground for a crush. That's what I told myself, when his approving words made me glow inside, when my skin warmed at his touch, when my eyes lingered on his face at odd moments... A crush. The man had given me my *life* back, it wasn't unreasonable for me to feel a bit attached, was it? And I had been so very lonely...I didn't fight it. Couldn't fight it. The best I could do was hope he didn't notice...
But still, I didn't understand, didn't realize the depth of my feelings. It wasn't until I heard that--damnable--voice and snapped--
It wasn't my father that broke my control. Wasn't the taunting of my uselessness. But that I would hurt Angel--that I was plotting to kill him--it, it *enraged* me. The anger filled me, choked me--all I could think was to silence those words, destroy the being that had dared to voice them--
--and so I failed. A not unfamiliar state. Leaving me with an aching neck, the knowledge that Angel had done what I had been unable to, and an unexpected revelation.
I am--in love. With a vampire.
I can hear my father's voice, if I was such a fool as to tell him--"Never thought you'd amount to much, but this is a new low even for you, boy..."
Of all the ways for a Watcher to fail in his duty--I don't believe they *have* a rule to cover this...
Well. I'm not a Watcher anymore. That constraint at least is removed from me. And the Council--and my father!--can go--
--I can't say it. Even now.
Even as a rebel I'm a failure. I can only imagine the language Buffy might have used to describe the Council--of course, Buffy left of her own volition. Unlike me.
There. I've said her name.
Buffy. The one he loves. His bright shining light, the love so true it survived everything the universe had to throw at it...yes, of course I know. I may be a fool--no, I am most definitely a fool--but I'm hardly blind. One has only to spend five minutes in the same room with them to see it...
He loves her still, I know that. He left only to protect her. If he had the chance he would go to her and never leave her side, ever again...
I would take him, on those terms. I would accept a place as second-best--why not?
It's only the truth, after all.
It wouldn't even endanger his soul--I don't delude myself that I could provide anything approaching perfect happiness.
Oh, yes, I'd offer myself, if I thought I had a hope in hell that the offer would be accepted.
But why would he? He loves the *Slayer*--strong and beautiful and unafraid, someone who can go forth and do battle with the world without flinching, and *win*, and joke about it afterward, who took on the Council for his sake--who took *him* on when she had to...
That's what he wants, what he needs. A partner, an equal. A *hero*. Not a "rogue demon hunter" who stammers and grovels and can't even get his facts straight before he makes an idiot of himself over useless demon-killing knives. Not someone he has to save from his own mistakes time and again.
No, I'll keep my feelings to myself.
A pity I couldn't keep my heart...