Cats and Dogs

Author: Vatrixsta Cruden

Classification: Fluff, Angst, B/A Mush (All the good things in life.)

Rating: Oh, it straddles that VERY fine line between R and NC-17

Disclaimer: "Golly gee, Mr. Whedon, can't I just have 'em to play with for a minute?" "Well of course you can! I always said Buffy was a show fanfic was meant to be written about!" "Gosh, Mr. Whedon, no matter how evil you are, you're STILL the BEST!"

Spoilers: Um, in a very vague manner, every single episode that's been pivotal to Angel, the spin-off included?

Author's notes: This is sort of an experiment... it's written in the second person, a style I've never tried before... comments about whether I should ever attempt it again would be lovely < g> Also, it was written in about an hour late, late, late last night, and is supremely un-beta'd. I was in desperate need of a Bittersweet Legacy break. This fic helped me get my groove back on.

Dedication: To David Boreanaz for being so damned inspirational. Boy breaks my heart every time Angel tears up, and makes me giggle like an idiot whenever Angel does something silly. That's gotta count for something. (We won't mention how yummy I think he is. I really don't see how that's at all pertinent.)


It's raining cats and dogs, except you've never liked that expression so you refuse to think it. Instead, you compare the rain to how it had been that night, the one you still remember even though it's been nine years. Nine years since you've touched her, if you don't count a sunny day in November, and you don't.

You've been drinking a lot tonight, more than you have since the first time you were human. As you down another shot of tequila, you feel every single one of your two hundred and fifty-two years.

When you were young, you used to walk to the cliffs by the sea and stare out at Galway Bay. Out on those cliffs, you're free. After your sister was born, you'd flee the house, away from screaming babies and haggard mothers. Put as much distance as possible between you and the father who was already starting to look at you with disappointment in his eyes, despite the fact that you hadn't even had time to grow into a man yet.

After you'd disappointed him for the last time, you go out and you make something of your life. Only you've always been a spectacular fuckup, and you need a small blonde monster to change you into a new man. Except you're not a man, you're a monster too now, and you drank up your mother and your father and your baby sister who called you an angel. You drank up your whole town, the whole coastline, the whole of Europe.

With the most beautiful monster on earth by your side, you drank and drank until you'd left bloody footprints across the entire continent. And then you caught something in Romania, like the twelve step program from hell, and you admitted you had a problem as their screams echoed through your mind like the sound of the glass shattering in your palm as you remember the children, especially the children.

So suddenly you have a soul, and you're just supposed to stop, stop drinking, stop killing, stop existing the way you have for a hundred and forty-some odd years. And your beautiful monster sees you for the pathetic shell you've become, tells you you're a disappointment to her, throws you away just like dear old dad, and you're wandering now, the guilt is consuming you, and you want a drink worse than you can believe.

Then there were the years when you wondered why you bothered to stay alive at all. After being rejected the second time, you don't try to find her again, you realize you aren't like her, you can never be like her again, your monster, mother and lover. You can't kill, because each new death was a new face, a change in pitch to the endless screaming in your soul. You think of returning to Ireland, but you know that you left no one alive in your village, and you couldn't stand to see where your sister's grave doesn't lie.

Instead you go to America, someplace you'd never been but you always wanted to visit. You spend enough time in the old west, down in Mexico, in Hollywood, that you lose the Irish accent that sets you apart from the rest of the world. You don't want to be set apart, you want to blend in. Even though you want nothing as much as you want to drink them all up, you like humans, you wish you could be one again, but you don't say so, you don't even think it too loud because a monster should never dream such dreams.

Time passes again, whisper slow and lightning fast, all at the same time. After awhile it gets to be too much. You can't even remember what pushed you onto the streets, but here you are, New York, the city that never sleeps, and you're taking a bite of the big apple, only it tastes more like rats, and you're about out of tether. One more night out here and you're going to forget to find shelter and greet the dawn in the middle of Times Square.

Someone doesn't want you to, though, and they send you a bookie disguised as a balancing demon and he tells you you've got a chance to make up for it all, to be forgiven for drinking them all down, to maybe even gain redemption for still craving like you do.

He says he has something to show you, and you go with him, partly because you don't care anymore, and partly because you so badly want to believe you aren't hopeless. And he certainly shows you something worth fighting for. He shows you sunshine and your future all wrapped up in a wisp of a girl sucking on a lollypop. You have a moment of clarity, watching her bounce down the steps of her school.

You fall in love with her hard and fast, but that's not really the point, because anyone who looked at her with sunlight streaking through her hair would love her. You're different because she's not just love to you, she is salvation. There are a thousand different faces that you see when you look at hers, and you think that maybe, if you can help her, if you can save her, you've got a shot at being free.

So you tell the bookie you want to help her, and you watch her for a good long while. You train and drink again, but you don't cause more people to scream. The bookie shows you a better way to go about doing things, even though you already knew, because you hadn't been chasing rats for a century. Just the last year or so when the screams got too loud to close your eyes during the day.

When you meet her face to face, and she doesn't like you on sight, you feel a surge of things you haven't felt in a long while; some of these things you've never felt. And it's right, it's perfect to feel everything because you're so in love with this tiny girl who's small and blonde, but not a monster, and has never reminded you of the one who came before her.

It's foolish and irresponsible and you told yourself you didn't love her, you only wanted to help her because you'd hurt so many in your life, but you don't believe it and every time you keep going back to kiss her 'one more time' you prove how full of shit you are.

The catch is, she was never supposed to love you back. You're a monster. Can't she see? Doesn't she know? The first time you kissed her, she screamed, and that's more like it, another scream to record with the multitude of them you still hear in your dreams. But no, you're telling her you love her and she's saying it back and asking you to kiss her, but she doesn't just want you to kiss her and you both know it.

Her skin is wet, and she's so cold, and all you want to do is warm her. All you've ever wanted was to keep her warm, to wrap her inside yourself until nothing can harm her. But you forget the monster that lives inside your skin, you forget it completely, and your lapse is all it takes to bring her world crashing down around her and it's still raining cats and dogs outside, and you say fuck it, because you can't think of a better expression to use.

But you're drifting, just like you always do when you're drunk, and you did have a point at the beginning of this.

A side trip to hell, an eternity of torture, and you're back, almost good as new. Your guilt isn't diminished in the slightest for all your suffering, and you privately believe that all your time in hell is solely reserved as penance for the wounds you inflicted on your love. There's still that pesky hundred and forty-some odd years of drinking to make up for, not to mention nearly a century of apathy.

You can't imagine leaving her again though, because how can you leave your salvation and still manage to find peace? Peace isn't something you're allowed to have, though, because peace leads to perfect happiness, and we all know what that leads to. But if you can't find peace, that means being with you won't bring her any, and if there was one thing she needed in her life, it was a little peace.

You want to give her the world, but all that's yours to give is a battered heart and a threadbare soul that barely clung to your skin. It wasn't nearly enough for her, nowhere near what she deserved, so you drive the final nail through your coffin and you leave, because it's best for her, and that's what you swore to give her, the best, and your absence is the purest thing you have left.

Before you leave, you have to drink from her, because she can't let you die anymore than you can kill her spirit by staying with her. And nothing has ever tasted as good as she does, and when you have rational thought again, you know drinking her dry will be on constant replay in your most erotic musings as well as your darkest nightmares.

Back in Los Angeles now, you try to walk the path set before you. The Powers That Be send you family in the form of people determined to love and annoy you for the rest of eternity. You hate them for it as much as you love them, and they keep you alive until you're allowed to live again.

Your love still lives in a small town, keeps it safe from the creatures of the night. She has lovers, more than you'd like, but to your delight and consternation, they never stay for more than a year. You wanted her to marry and have children and sunlight and instead she seems determined to walk in the night. You even confront her about it once, but she shuts you down. Not once does she beg you to come back, but you see it in her eyes anyway, and you make a silent vow that you will come back to her one day when your life is finally yours to give.

That's something you know she never quite understood. Your life was never yours, not from the moment you fell to your knees and drank deeply from a monster's chest. You couldn't give yourself to her until you'd earned the right, and it took you so long, years and battles and tears and blood, but you did it, you earned it, and now you're human and instead of being with her, you're in a bar, broken glass imbedded in your palm from where you shattered it with the force of your helpless rage and it's really starting to sting because it had been half full of tequila at the time.

Your heart had been thumping for all of fifteen minutes when you'd realized this was it, finally and at last. You feel like you're in the final moments of an epic war drama, and you want to shout, "Free at last! Free at last! God Almighty, I'm free at last!" but you don't. Instead, you hug the guys, kiss Cordelia, and race out to your black convertible. You drive balls out to Sunnydale, and it's daytime so you leave the top up because you find that you love the feel of sunlight on your face. You stop long enough to buy sunglasses, and the girl at the stand doesn't understand why you can't stop laughing as you put them on.

When you finally get to Sunnydale, you're more nervous than you've ever been in your life, and you don't want to be nervous, all you want is to see her, and hold her, and let her press her ear to your chest so she can hear your heartbeat, too. You want to make a perfect day, just like the one that came before, only this time, you'll die before you take it back.

The living heart you can't quite get used to shatters into a million pieces when you see what was once your salvation walking down the streets of Sunnydale at sunset. Her fingers are twined with those of a man you don't recognize, and her upturned face is smiling at him, because Buffy doesn't just smile with her mouth, she does it with her eyes and her cheeks and the little crinkles around her eyes.

Her little crinkles are grinning radiantly at this man, and you wonder how you could have been so selfish, so utterly stupid as to think that she wouldn't be with someone. Anyone who looked at her loved her, and you think for a moment how nice it would be to run across the street and rip the man who was kissing her strawberry lips into a thousand, bloody pieces. You want to drink him down, but then you remember that you don't drink anymore, and you decide it's time you start again.

Which his how you ended up here at Willy's, staring at your bloody hand, marveling at the fact that you feel nothing but nauseated looking at the sticky red liquid.

Pain is more effective than black coffee, and already you feel clearer. Luckily, though, you're not sober enough to know better, and here you are back at Revello Drive, staring up at the house you'd once made nightly sweeps by, just to make sure she was safe.

For a moment, you consider climbing up to her bedroom window, but you decide against it. If you fell, you'd probably break your neck, and she wasn't going to be happy to see you healthy and whole -- if you got yourself killed, she'd probably yell.

So instead you ring the doorbell, and you feel ridiculous ringing the doorbell to this house. Had you ever done so before? You can't recall, and you think that you really had had an odd relationship with your soulmate. Odd in a wonderful way, and you're starting to remember why you got drunk in the first place now, and you think that maybe you should just run away before she catches you out here. You don't think you'll be able to survive it if HE comes to the door, or worse, if THEY come to the door together.

But your reflexes are sluggish, and by the time your legs process your brain's screams to turn around, the door has opened and she's looking at you in that way she always has that makes you feel gutted and happy at the same time.

The really strange thing is, she looks like she's been crying, and you want to take her in your arms, but your hand's still bleeding, and she catches sight of it at the same time you remember it, and she gasps. Then her hand is on your wrist and she's pulling you inside and your fuzzy mind notes that pale pink terrycloth is a very good look for her.

It takes you a minute, but you realize you've been staring at her cleavage visible where her robe gapes slightly. If she notices you looking, she doesn't comment, because she's somehow managed to bring you up to her room, and she's very carefully picking the glass out of your hand with a pair of tweezers.

Her room is bright, and you squint at it, then use it to your advantage as you go back to staring down her robe. Soon, though, her words begin penetrating the drunken fog you find yourself in, and damn, she's pissed at you. So pissed she gets a little rough with the tweezers, but when you hiss, she apologizes and is gentle again.

Why is she so mad at you? You must have asked out loud, because she huffs and starts reeling off a list of your sins. You're drunk, you got drunk instead of telling her that you're human, you assume too much about her, or too little about yourself, or something like that, you're not really sure, because she's crying again and the alcohol she's swiping your hand with stings like hell and you're starting to get a headache.

You take the bottle of rubbing alcohol from her hands and toss it aside as she starts to tell you about Cordelia calling. You are unsurprised by this development, but you still don't understand why she's crying until she explains that the man she was with was just another man, not the one she loves, and didn't you want her anymore?

Well, damn, of course you want her, you've never wanted anything else, and your good-as-new hand is pulling her head towards you as your press your lips over her eyelids, and her cheeks, and her gradually re-appearing crinkles.

She's smiling at you now, with her whole face at that, and suddenly you aren't straining to see down her robe because your hands somehow undo the tie and she shrugs it off without being prompted. Your hands are full of her warm skin and she's a fast study, your love, because you quickly discover you're as naked as she is.

Her bed is soft, but not as soft as her flesh, and you're not drunk at all now, you're seven years in the past only this time you're the one who's shaking like a leaf from the cold and from her, and she's warming you with her skin, lying back and pulling you on top of her, inside of her so you can keep each other warm and safe the way you'd wanted to from that very first moment.

It's slow and sweet, and you're bumping your nose with hers, sliding your tongue inside the endlessly lush warmth of her mouth, and her lips really do taste like ripe, plump strawberries. You feel like you haven't kissed her in centuries, and you haven't, because the only time you'd ever kissed her as a man was on a day that never really happened.

Fingers are stroking up and down your back and you're taking mouthfuls of her flesh as she whispers into your ear. She tells you that you're loved, and wanted, and that if you ever try to leave her again, she'll hunt you to the ends of the earth. You think that nothing has ever made you happier than hearing that, and you tell her so as you go back for another taste of the scar tissue on the side of her neck.

At that she's arching into you, pulling you closer and deeper and harder and oh, yes, right there, just like that, it's been so long, too long, and you feel like you might die right there in her arms, and you're okay with that, you really are, because you've been alive for over six hours now, you've felt the sun on your face and made love to your other half, and life really doesn't have much more than that to offer you.

Then again, you'd kind of like to do it all over again for the next fifty or sixty years, and you must have said that out loud, too, because she's laughing, giggling really as she comes apart in your arms, and you're so damned happy that you're laughing with her, your bodies vibrating in perfect harmony with one another.

And then you're there, you're flying and falling and screaming and bursting. You're suddenly all those words they use to try and fail to describe how goddamned good it really feels. Except those words couldn't possibly contain in them the depth of emotion you feel in your heart to be buried in and surrounded by the girl who'd made your pathetic existence a life you could take pride in.

While you're panting in her ear, you think you might like to sleep, and she obviously endorses this idea a hundred percent because she's already snoring. You're still inside her and on top of her, and you briefly contemplate moving, but ultimately decide against it. There's nowhere else in the world you'd rather be, so you press your cheek to her breast and fall asleep listening to her heartbeat.

When you wake up you're in the same position, except her fingers are stroking through your hair and you haven't felt this free since the last time you stood out on that cliff in Galway Bay, and you think that you'd like to take her there someday. But not today, because it was still raining cats and dogs, and you think someone really ought to think up a better expression than that, but you can't be bothered to try because your mouth is an inch away from her nipple and you've got two hundred and fifty-two years of living without her to make up for.


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