Hard Choices

by Lizbetann
Copyright 1998

The son of a bitch saved me. Now what am I supposed to do?

I curled up on the window seat, a cup of tea in my hand, staring out into the night. These middle of the night brooding sessions had gotten very familiar in the past week. OK, middle of the night brooding and panicking sessions. Sometimes I'd wake up screaming from nightmares where I was locked in my own body, unable to control it as I worked hideous atrocities on those around me... and waking, knowing it had been true, was worse. Goddess, I'll never forget the look in Rupert's eyes. In his apartment when the devil that had taken hold revealed itself. In the shop, when he pushed Buffy aside and offered himself instead.

And at school the next day, demon-free and in control again, when I flinched back from his touch.

Sighing, I leaned my forehead against the glass, the vapors rising from my cup, fogging the window and tickling my nose. I'd always been a coffee girl, double-espresso-hold-the-foam. But the Earl Grey was a sensory link to Rupert. I couldn't -- *couldn't* -- let him get close, but I could sip his tea. And how pathetic did that make me?

I'm not good at being powerless. Understatement of the decade. And I've never been more helpless in my life than I had been with that demon inside of me -- except for right now, with it gone. There was no way to fight, no way to escape. My body, my life, my *being* had been taken over.

I guess that's what it feels like to become a vampire. But their souls don't remain, to look with horror on what their bodies were doing. They wing free, released with the body's death.

Except in one case.

The tea grew cold in my hand; I hadn't wanted to drink it, I only wanted to smell it. Firmly, I repressed a childish urge to pout. It wasn't fair. Surely this one thing should be straightforward and simple. Angelus was a vampire, a demon who had destroyed with mad glee. Restoring his soul to make him suffer was the perfect punishment. The demon would never consent to stop killing, but the soul could anguish with every life lost.

I pounded the heel of my hand against the windowpane. Who would have thought that Angelus -- Angel -- would have the strength of mind and will to control the demon within him? He certainly did it better than I had. I would have killed Rupert and I lo... the flash of pain made me back away from that thought.

And not only did Angel manage to not commit evil, he actually did active good. He'd saved Buffy's life more times than I knew of -- and he'd saved mine.

If he knew who I really was, he would have let the demon take me.

The first time I saw him, I had no clue who he was. So much for Gypsy intuition, huh? Some people are tone-deaf, I'm magick-deaf. But sometime after the Master had died and we left the library, I asked Rupert who was the dark-haired boy who hovered so protectively over Buffy.

"His name is Angel," Rupert began -- and I felt myself go cold. "He's a vampire," Rupert continued, but I didn't hear, couldn't believe that a vampire had fought his own kind to protect the Slayer. I had told Rupert the literal truth when I said I wasn't a witch, I didn't have that kind of power. I couldn't even sense a vampire.

Oh, Goddess, Rupert. If he ever found out -- if he knew who and what I was, what I'd been sent to do... He'd feel betrayed, and rightly so. He'd struggled to explain to me what vampires were, what the Slayer was. And aside from being floored that Willow's bouncy friend Buffy was the Slayer, he didn't have to tell me a thing. Faking shock and disbelief and slowly dawning understanding... Goddess, I *hate* lying! Deviousness is highly respected among my clan, but maybe I'd been among gorgios too long.

Or maybe I loved him too much. Look, that hardly hurt at all. Only cut out one small section of my heart. I loved him, but part of me flinched back from the pain that being near him had brought -- Eyghon. And part of me flinched back from the thought of those eyes looking at me with so much anger and disgust for the lying little Gypsy girl.

How could I stay true? To my clan, to Rupert, to Buffy and Angel, to myself? Everywhere I turned there were choices, swords ready to cut me. Angel was supposed to suffer. I'd never doubted the fairness of that. But every time he looked at Buffy, his soul shone from his eyes. To make him suffer was to make Buffy suffer, and she certainly didn't deserve it. And Rupert -- and me. Yet to betray my very *people* -- and the memory of all the ravaged dead Angelus had left in his path... how could I turn my back on them?

Oh, look. A sunrise. Again. Even when they heralded nights of broken sleep and horrific dreams, I cherished them. They were proof that I was human, mortal -- myself.

Even if the person I was didn't want to make the choices that she must.


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