" Forgive me, beloved, for I have been a fool." said Angel as he stepped in from the window through the curtains billowing in the night air. "I left you in the sake of your future, but now I see that this was cruel to you, my darling, as well. My own pain is as nothing, but I have realised that your wound is as deep and ever bleeding as mine own. Forgive me, sweet Buffy, and let us know contentment once more. Come away with me, and leave this place forever."
Buffy looked deep into his eyes with a glance of lambent softness and unending pain. "Oh, my love, I cannot."
The ensoul'ed vampire recoiled in pain "Why? Do you love me no longer?"
"Never!" she replied, sadly defiant. "But I thought you dead and took another. I cannot betray him."
He clasped her hands to his chest and pleaded manfully. "Surely if he loves you, he shall set you free."
She turned from him sorrowfully, then looked back at him, eyes wet with tears. "I cannot dear Angel. The night has been kind to us, but it is no place for a child."
" A child?" He asked, amazed " How can this be?"
The radiant beauty, her nightdress glowing in the moon light, smiled at him sadly. "Children, light of my life. They are out tonight, visiting with their grandmother. I am no longer the young girl that you loved."
He stroked her hand featherlight, like the touch of silk. "You are as beautiful as ever."
She shook her head, her eyes gently knowing. " Not truly, dear. I belong to the world of time and death, beloved, and now my seeming is older than thine own"
"It matters not!" He declaimed with quiet passion.
"Ah, but it does." she sighed. "Leave me, Angel. Let me meet the years gracefully. I cannot bear to age in your eyes. Remember me as your young lover of so many years ago."
His head sank despondant, then he straightened himself and bowed, kissing her hand softly, before letting it go. "As you wish. Farewell, Buffy!" Angel said, despairing as he left through her window like a shadow.
A brown head faintly streaked with the first hints of silver popped out from under the pillow. Wary brown eyes looked up at her."Is he gone?" her husband whispered.
She laughed and swung herself lightly onto the bed by his side. "Yes," she said teasingly."We finally got rid of him."
The man beside her doubled over in silent laughter, attempting to speak between the muffled chortles."Oh my sweet Angel! Oh, my lost darling!" he mimicked in a falsetto. "What rot!" He lost it and the laughter came out, mingled with his wife's merry mirth.
"After fifteen years he has the nerve to come back to 'relieve my suffering' now. How kind. I'll bet Kate just left him and he isn't getting any." Buffy muttered darkly, trying to seem serious for a moment, and then joined her lover in his amusement.
"We are so *bad*!" he choked out between laughs. "We're probably going to rot in hell for this, you know."
"It was worth it." she said decisively. " It got rid of him didn't it?"
"Yeah ." said Xander, laughter finally over, grin spreading across his face, "It was."