Fearing These Days
by Angelina

Here we go again, another day at Sunnydale High. The thought does not fill me with joy. Most school kids wonder if they can get through the day without getting a detention. Me? I just hope to get through it without encountering some slime-oozing demon or other. And at the moment I try not to encounter Xander either. However, for some reason I'm not as distressed as usual at the thought of a day spent in SunnyD's infamous institute of learning. I'm actually quite happy. And quite proud of myself. I managed not to molest Faith as she lay sleeping last night. And she was practically lying right on top of me. With her breasts pressing against me in a very tempting way and her hair falling all over my chest, smelling just... intoxicating. So, it really is a wonder that I managed to keep my hands to myself. Well...there was that tiny little bit of touching... hey, I'm not a Saint.

Apparently I'm not going to be able to avoid Xander today as he's standing at my locker right now looking at me. From the look on his face I'd say there's something serious going down. He doesn't even smile as I approach him.


"Meeting in the library."

Straight to the point. How unlike him.




What can possibly be so important at this hour of the day? I've only had one cup of coffee for God's sake.


"What's up?"

"Angel's back."

And with that he turns and walks in the direction of the library, leaving me to experience a torrent of emotions. Angel. How strange that I should have been discussing him just last night. And now he's back. From Hell. That's got to be one nightmare trip. Oh my God, Angel was a mad raging monster before Buffy sent him to hell...what's he going to be like now that he's been associating with all the other bad things that are down there? At least it's daylight now, and I'm taking it he's still not too keen on that. So we're safe for a little while. And now Faith'll get to see for herself what the notorious Angel's like. Hey, I've got my own personal Slayer, I forgot about that. That means I can't leave her side until Angel's been dealt with. Oh the sacrifice.

I quickly stuff things into my locker and hurry off to the library so as not to miss what's being said. When I arrive a very sombre Giles greets me with a nod. Xander doesn't even look up. He never did like Angel, even before the whole soul-losing deal. Of course that was all to do with the fact that Angel had a certain slayer running after him like a little lap-dog. Why does it bother me that jealousy might still be factoring into his feelings towards Angel? It's totally hypocritical of me to be annoyed at him for being concerned about his friend after the stuff I've been up to with Faith. But it's not like I can control my irrational bouts of jealousy so why should he? I've confused myself now.

My teeth just started hurting, which is normally a sign that Willow and Oz have walked in. I take it no-one's told them about the new development because they're being typically hand-holdy and smiley. This should be interesting. As they approach Willow draws her attention away from Oz and glances around, taking in the serious demeanour of the room.

"What's wrong?"

That girl can put more panic into two words than I could into a paragraph.

"Where's Buffy?"

And of course that'd be the reason behind it. We're all sitting looking worried so that must mean that something's happened to Buffy. Like there'd be no other reason for it. Of course it is related to Buffy...but it might not have been.

"We're waiting for her to arrive. I'm assuming that you weren't privy to the fact that Angel has returned from wherever he was."

Oh, good one Giles. It never occurred to me that Willow might know. Maybe that's why she's been so uptight lately. I can't imagine her being a good liar. And if she doesn't know that's gonna be a blow to her 'I'm Buffy's bestest bud' ego. Either way it makes for interesting viewing. It's clear from her reaction that Buffy had not thought to inform her of Angel's unexpected homecoming. Her face just sort of collapsed and I actually feel very sorry for her. Betrayal's a bitch.

"Uh...no...no I didn't ...umm...he's uh...Angel's back?"

"Yep, saw them bumping gums last night myself."

Hey now, this was never mentioned before. She's back with him in that that way. Well that's just...disturbing. He's a monster, right? And Xander was perving on them? Eeeeew.

"So...uh...what are we...has anyone spoken to Buffy yet? I...I mean, we should, you know...let her explain before we jump down her throat."

Under normal circumstances that would probably be fair. But we're talking about a mad, psychotic vampire here who's killed God knows how many people in the past. I don't think tippy-toeing around the subject is the way to go here.

"Uh, hello? Am I the only one who remembers Angel's last stand...you know, where he tried to suck the world into hell? I say we get Faith and go stake him right now."

They're all looking at me like I just suggested torturing sick orphaned puppies or something. Are we all too genteel to kill vampires now?

"Uh...no. No I think it would be wise to speak to Buffy before any decisions are made as to how to proceed in this matter. And I don't want Faith involved."

That man has made an art form out of cleaning his glasses. What does he do to make them so dirty I wonder? But that's not the point is it?

"Why not involve Faith? I'd say having a Vampire Slayer who hasn't slept with the vampire in question might be a plus point."

Yet again they're all looking at me like I'm the anti-Christ. Of course, I'm insulting Saint Buffy, I shouldn't really be surprised that her fan club isn't exactly in agreement with me.

"Faith wasn't here last time...she doesn't know Angel...she'd...it'd be..."

Finish a sentence for God's sake, Willow.

"Faith is a little...impetuous...we need to think clearly right now. And before we do anything we need to talk to Buffy. There may be a perfectly good explanation for this."

Can we say 'clutching at straws' Giles? But, as ever, my opinion doesn't count for much at these meetings. The trinity of Buffy- worshippers make the decisions and we all live by them. This is maybe why Oz doesn't even bother to speak. I should try that sometime. And 'Faith's impetuous'? What's that supposed to mean? She doesn't like to get to know vamps before she stakes them? Unlike Buffy of course, who jumps into bed with them.

"When she comes...I don't want...I don't think we should accuse her of anything...we should maybe, you know, uh, tell her how this whole thing makes us feel...but not yell at her or anything."

Even in the face of betrayal Willow remains faithful to her little Buffy. It would be touching, if she wasn't so blind. Angel is back from hell and Buffy is sneaking away to meet him for face-friction. What more do we need to know? But no, we can't shout at Buffy for this in case she cries or runs away again. We couldn't have that, could we?

"I think Willow's right. We shall listen to what Buffy has to say without accusations. Agreed?"

"And...and we should, like, only use 'I statements'. So we say how the situation makes us feel. You know: 'I feel scared' That way we're not projecting anything onto Buffy and she won't feel threatened."

Why are we all talking about Buffy like she's some sort of China doll? I can think of a few 'I statements' I'd like to use.

'I think Buffy's flipped her lid' 'I feel like the only sensible person in this room' 'I wonder when the hell this world got so complicated' 'I want to bury my face in Faith's cleavage'

The 'I statements' proposal is passed into law, so I have to go along with it. But I am not happy at the general lack of enthusiasm for killing Angel in the room. If Buffy'd just offed him last time this wouldn't be an issue now. Now, I know that he's gorgeous and that it would be difficult to thrust a piece of wood into his manly and well- developed chest...but I think I could manage it given the opportunity. And she had the opportunity on many an occasion. And still she worried and got all angsty about killing her boyfriend. Boo-hoo. Of course, then he put Willow in the hospital and all bets were off. Buffy has a thing about that -- hurt Willow, you're going down. Still, seems she's forgiven him for that little mistake. Here comes Buffy now. The fun starts here.

"Lagos is out of luck. I got the magic mitten thingie. What's with all the tragedy masks?"

Hmmm, so she doesn't even suspect that she's been caught. This should be interesting. I can't wait to see how she defends herself against this charge. Let's hope it's not with violence. At least, not involving me.

"Better take a seat, Buffy."

Ugh, did Xander have to give her his chair? I think her standing would have been better. Like facing the firing squad. Which is no better than she deserves.

"What's going on?"

She probably just got a look at Willow's face. Well, none of us look particularly happy, but Willow is way beyond unhappy. And Buffy's Willow-Radar will have picked that up and will currently be planning to inflict pain on whoever caused it. Little does she know.

"We know that Angel is alive. Xander saw you with him. It would appear that you've been hiding him and that you lied to us."

Well, she knows now. I must say I'm impressed at Giles. He totally laid his cards on the table with that one. Got in the bit about the lying and everything. And Giles has this way of being really cutting without being obvious about it. He plays 'betrayed' very well.

"Nobody's here to blame you Buffy. But this is serious. You need help."

Well, no-one's gonna dispute that one, Will. The girl is dating a 240 year old vampire, she's in need of serious help.

"It's not what you think."

There she goes, appealing to bestest friend Willow's forgiving nature. For 'forgiving' read 'gullible'. Yeah right. It's not what we think. What the hell is it then?

"Hope not. Coz I think you're harbouring a vicious killer."

Colour me thrilled! My boyfriend, for once, didn't jump on the Lust- Train heading for Buffyville. He actually directed a real accusation at her. I'm quite attracted to him right now. It's a shame I have to dump him.

"This isn't about attacking Buffy. Remember, 'I statements' only. 'I feel angry'. 'I feel worried'."

And of course Willow jumps to Buffy's defence, spoiling the whole 'Let's get Buffy' we had going there. Oh well, I'm not gonna sit here with my mouth shut and let them all cave in and have a group hug or something.

"Fine. Here's one. I feel worried...about me. Last time around Angel barely laid a hand on Buffy, he was way more interested in killing her friends."

I think it's only fair to point out that we are more at risk than Buffy. I mean, it's all very well for her to be getting hot vampire action of an evening but what about us? I could hardly drive a block last time he was here without having a panic attack. It got slightly better when I swapped cars with my grandma. But even then I was still nervous. I've seen vampire films -- they go for beautiful young virgins and hello? All of the above here! Well, not so much a virgin any more. But I was then and it was worrying me almost to the point of sleeping with Xander. Thankfully Angel was sucked into hell before it came to that.

"But he's better now."

Better now. Excuse me while I scoff. Apparently there's a cure for vampirism that nobody happened to mention before now. OK, surely I'm not the only one who sees how far gone Buffy is? She's going to be of no use whatsoever in 'Operation Stake Angel'. We should give up now, go find Faith and get it done while it's light. And then Faith and I can head back to her place to check on her injuries. And stuff.

"Better for how long Buffy? I mean, did you even think about that?"

I'm really seeing Xander in a whole new light here. Maybe it's not all jealousy. I mean, I'm sharing quite a number of his sentiments and I'm not jealous of Buffy. Or Angel. So it doesn't necessarily follow that he wants Angel dead because he's been in Buffy's panties.

"What is this? Demons Anonymous? I don't need an intervention here."

You can tell when Buffy's nervous. Her punning is worse than usual. 'Demons Anonymous'? That's just plain lame.

"Oh don't you? You must've known it was wrong seeing Angel or you wouldn't have hidden it from all of us."

If Giles were a girl he'd make a great bitch. He knows just how to twist the knife. He doesn't yell or scream and rant but he gets those little pointed comments in that cut to the bone. And that Buffy can't really come back at because she knows fine well he's right. But let's observe her trying.

"I was going to tell you...I was. It was just that I..I didn't know why he came back. I just wanted to...wait."

For how long? Long enough to be tempted by the contents of his boxers again and send him on another rampage?

"For what? For Angel to go psycho again the next time you give him a happy?"

OK, that was scary. Xander and I were on the same wavelength. Oh God, that can't be good.

"Look I'm not going t...we're not... together like that."

So now she's just telling us barefaced lies? Shouldn't that be against some Slayer code? 'Rule number 417: A Slayer shall not lie to any friends she may have acquired as to the nature of the relationship between herself and anyone of the vampire persuasion'. Lying about illicit lesbian lovers would be OK though. Cuz, you know, it's not like they're likely to kill people. Unless they're really pissed off.

"But you were kissing him."

So few words. But the right ones. If it hadn't been Oz who said that I think Willow would have objected, coz that would probably be seen as an accusation through her eyes. Through mine it's a statement of fact. So now Will's loyalties are all divided: boyfriend or best friend. You know, if Buffy had any common decency she'd be contrite and ashamed right now. But no, not our girl, she goes for indignant and wronged. Could she be more up her own ass? I'm surprised there's room, what with Willow and Xander up there too.

"You were spying on me? What gives you the right..."

Yeah, coz the spying's the salient issue here, Buff. I cannot listen to any more of her whining.

"What gives you the right to suck face with your demon lover again?"

A totally valid question. I also thought I'd get the 'demon' bit in there, just in case everyone's forgotten what we're dealing with here.

"It was an accident!"

And the award for the poorest excuse for an explanation ever in the history of the world goes to...Miss Buffy Summers!

"What? You just tripped and fell on his lips?"

Hmmm, I would give him points for that joke, if I hadn't heard it on 'Friends' like, four seasons ago.

"It was wrong OK? I know that, and I know that it can't happen again. But you guys have to believe me I would never put you in any danger. If I thought for a second Angel was going to hurt anyone..."

Funny, when she said 'anyone' she was looking at Willow. If he hurt Willow he'd be toast. If he hurt anyone else she'd just act all tormented for a while and then decide that he could probably still be saved. Can we say double standards?

"You'd stop him. Like you did last time with Ms Calendar."

Ooooh! Low blow, Xander. I like it. It goes without saying that Willow doesn't.

"Buffy, I feel...that when it comes to Angel, you can't see straight and that's why we're, we're all going to help you face this."

Help her face this. That includes staking Angel, right? Right?

"But he's better now, I swear. Look you guys, he's the one that found the Glove of Myhnegon. He's keeping it safe for us in the mansion."

The wounded-puppy look isn't going to work on us Buffy. Well, maybe on Willow. And why can I not equate the word 'safe' with Angel?

"Right! Great plan. Leave tons of firepower with the scary guy. And then leave us to clean up the mess."

Xander makes like he's going to leave but Buffy catches him. For a moment I am truly worried that she's going to deck him. He's quite impressively brave in the face of this possibility.

"You'd just love an excuse to hurt him wouldn't you?"

Oh I'm sure it doesn't hurt them much. Stake to the heart, poof, all gone. It maybe hurts for like a second, he'll hardly feel it. And if it really makes her feel better we could knock him out first. If we were really horrid we could lower him slowly into a vat of Holy water while setting his fingers alight and dropping crosses onto him from above. Or something. Not that I've thought about it in any great detail or anything.

"I don't need an excuse. I think lots of dead people actually constitutes a reason."

Another good point from Xander. I feel quite light-headed at this sudden change.

"Right, this is all nobility. It has nothing to do with jealousy."

But not quite light-headed enough to miss the meaning of that statement. Bitch.

"Hello? Miss Not-over-yourself-yet?"

She turns to look at me and shakes her head in warning.

"Don't you start with me."

Was that a threat? Was she threatening me? Oh I am so going to kick her skinny blonde ass now. Or, at the very least, I'm going to get Faith to beat her up later. There's something very wrong with the world when a Slayer is kissing vampires and threatening civilians with bodily violence.

"Giles, no-one's doing the 'I statements'"

Fuck the 'I statements'. This is way beyond 'I statements' now.

"That's enough. Everybody. Now Buffy knows our concerns, and her actions however ill-advised can be understood."

No way, Giles, I will never understand. And frankly I can't believe he even said that. He was doing so well earlier with the thinly veiled accusations.

"Our priority right now is to retrieve the Glove of Myhnegon and try to destroy it. Now all of you back to your classes."

With pleasure. I'm not sitting here any longer listening to Miss Self-Absorption tell us that her vampiric honey is no threat to society. I put up with a lot of things, living on a hellmouth, but I will not stand by and wait for Angel to wreak bloody havoc here again. I need to talk to Faith. Now.