When Buffy had been gone for two months, Angel was worried. By four months--when Xander went after her--he was angry. By six months, when Willow and Giles were gone too, he was completely out of ideas and ready to tear open the world.
Unfortunately, when he heard through the grapevine, without any fuss, that the Slayer was back, he didn't really have any idea what to do.
Would she be glad that he was worried? Angry that he hadn't found her? He'd been researching, but...
He waited three weeks before going to Sunnydale, and even then he wasn't sure what to do. It wasn't as if he could just knock, like he was anybody else, or climb in her window, like he was still someone important.
But she couldn't hold patroling against him, right?
"Well," he muttered, "she couldn't if I was moving."
Lurking in the cemetary hoping she'd show up was, he had to admit, a little creepy. But he was out of options. Other than going up and talking to her like a normal person.
That was obviously out.
He wondered what she'd be like after six months in another dimension. She'd probably be angry at him for not finding her. She might still be angry at him for leaving. It had been a long time since he was a teenager--how long would she take to move on? Part of him--a lot of him, if he was honest--was hoping some day, when she was older, and better prepared, the two of them could reconcile. Of course, both of them would change and grow and be with other people, but in the end, Angel guessed there were parts of him that were still romantic.
Or parts of him that still loved her. That was a lot of him.
He would just tell her he'd been in town and didn't want to bother her.
From his left, he heard a man talking. Didn't sound like a vampire, but could be a likely victim. He hunkered down to wait when--
Buffy giggling. She sounded happy, for someone who'd just been stuck in a terrible dimension for months.
As they came into view, the boy--not old enough to be a man, no--had his arm around Buffy's shoulder, and Buffy was leaning on him and smiling. If she hadn't had a stake sticking out of her purse, Angel would have thought it was a date.
"Dork," he heard Buffy comment, and the boy grinned and kissed her.
It obviously wasn't the first time.
Angel didn't notice he'd growled until he saw Buffy and the boy stop kissing and lock eyes on his hiding spot. Buffy had pulled out her stake, but still hadn't left the boy's arms.
Angel guessed there was nothing to do but say hello.
It hurt the way her whole body stiffened, obviously, as he came out, and the way it was that boy who tightened his arms around her. Of course, that was how breaking up was, but...
"Hi," he said, waving slightly. "I was in the neighborhood."
"I guess you heard about the gone thing," said Buffy, obviously forcing herself to relax.
"This is Kon," said Buffy, having noticed Angel looking at the boy. "My husband."
Angel spluttered. "What?"
"Sup," said the boy. He sounded a little smug.
"I was gone for a while."
"You don't look."
"Two and a half years," she said.
"And you got married."
"I heard," she said, "I needed someone who could bring me into the light."
That was mean. "But..."
"Yeah, that's basically what my mom said."
"Your mom didn't know?"
"I would've told her if I could've."
"Can I...talk to you alone?"
He could see the boy's arm tighten marginally, but Buffy talked to him softly and then kissed him and walked over.
"What were you thinking?" he asked, grabbing her shoulders. She grabbed his wrist and twisted it off.
"What the hell kind of question is that?"
"It's something people do. It's not my fault if you don't get people any more."
"And I was nineteen when I got married."
"You--how? Did you even know him for a year?"
"Like I knew you that much longer before we did pledges of eternal affection. This one is going a lot better."
"Stop comparing this to us."
"Why? I bet you are."
"That's not the point."
"No, it's not. The point is I love him."
"I do. I love you too, but. We're over. You ended it. And I'm not...it's not like I'm taking him because I can't have you. He's...he's what I want. More than anything. Even," she faltered, but kept on, "even more than you."
"Then why are you justifying to me?"
"Gee, it couldn't be because you dragged me away and asked."
Angel had to concede this point. "I'm just worried about you."
"If you were worried about me you'd be grilling him to make sure he was good enough. Or to make sure he wasn't a demon. There are a thousand plausible things you could've come up with to be worried about me. You're just hurt."
"He isn't a demon, right?"
"No. He's half-alien, but not a demon."
"And you're married to him."
She held up her hand to show him a ring. "Going on two years."
"I know it's weird. But it's not...me pretending or me settling or any of that. It's me. In love with him. And wanting to be with him forever."
Angel didn't say anything.
She kissed him on the cheek, and her lips were dry, warm, and unfamilar. "Thanks for coming to check on me. But I'm doing fine."
"Hey, Kon. Get over here," she said.
Angel wasn't going to comment on the fact that the boy hovered. Or that he hovered right back to touching Buffy.
"Hey," he commented.
"This is Angel. He's just visiting."
The boy extends a hand, and Angel shakes. He's really strong. "Buffy seems very fond of you."
"We are married."
Angel still couldn't quite wrap his brain around this. "Right."
"We should get going," said Buffy. "Patrol to finish."
Angel knew it would be hypocritical to point out that they didn't look like they were being that attentive on patrol.
"Yeah, I should get back," he said instead.
"Nice to meet you," said the boy, obviously not feeling it.
"Bye, Angel," said Buffy.
He knew it wasn't a mistake that it sounded so final.
He guessed he didn't really have anyone to blame but himself, but that wasn't exactly a comforting thought.