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Title: In a Corner of My Soul - scene from chapter 7: I Robot; You Jane
Fandom
: BtVS
Prompt: 569 - Element(s)
Word Count: 968

Angel hated approaching Buffy in the Bronze. Seeing her there, in her element, surrounded by the warmth of her friends as she flashed that bright smile with the lights sparking off her hair, glowing like  a halo above her, only accentuated the gap between them. She was a daughter of the light; he, a son of the dark. He might watch from the shadows but could never join her, not even under artificial lights.

He left the Bronze to wait in the alley. Knowing she wouldn't leave her friends soon, he wondered if he should patrol in her place. The smarter demons would be out in force while she distracted herself. No, that wasn't fair. She wasn't distracting herself. Buffy deserved a normal life. Besides, it wasn't his place to comment. If anything, it should be her Watcher setting her a less predictable patrol schedule.

Her Watcher didn't trust him. That could be deadly, not for Angel but for Buffy. The Watcher, in rejecting his sketch of that demon-possessed man, had rejected his help. Angel had come to Sunnydale to help Buffy. How was he supposed to do that if the Watcher rejected that assistance? If he gave the sketch to Buffy, would the Watcher reject it, knowing the source? No, Buffy wouldn't allow it.

But then what? Buffy couldn't act against a human. The Council could. In fact, Angel knew of three mages who'd been locked up by the Council, never to be seen again.

Maybe he should have just gone up to her in the Bronze. Waiting in a dark alley, second guessing her Watcher's motives wasn't getting him anywhere, but Angel couldn't see himself, drink in hand, making small talk and pretending he blended in with the crowd. So he waited for more than two hours until she finally left the Bronze. She wasn't alone. He followed as she escorted Willow home, waiting until she was alone to step out of the shadows. “Buffy.”

“Angel.” She crossed her arms but didn't step away. What was wrong with her? Was it that guy she'd been seeing? She couldn't still be dating him. He was too ordinary. She must be upset he'd lost the possessed man the night before. With this tension between them, he couldn't tell her how strangely her Watcher had been acting. He handed her the sketch. She stared at it so hard and so long that he felt as if he should explain himself, but she knew what it was.

“So, this is the possessed man?”

“Maybe.”

Buffy looked up from the sketch, her eyes blazing fury. “This might not be the guy? I mean, yeah, he doesn't even look human so what good is it supposed to be?”

“No, no, this is the man. I just mean it might not be possession.” Angel could only hope he didn't look as gobsmacked as he felt. Why was he bringing up domination? Buffy would never run across a man dominated by a demon. In all his two hundred and fifty years, Angel had never met a dominated human. Even the Master had known only one. What had he said? In all my years, I've never faced so vicious an enemy. He'd claimed the man's soul, corrupted by the demon, had driven the man to heights of atrocities that not even a vampire could match. “The Council calls it domination. A demon can create a connection to a human mind, something like a chain that links them.”

“Chain? So the person would be bound?”

“No, it's not a physical connection. That would be possession. Domination is more like a threat, like a spider web connecting the demon to the person. The demon can't physically control the person but it can influence.”

“Sounds pretty tenuous.”

Damn, he shouldn't have used the spider web metaphor. Why did humans think of webs as fragile? “The demon isn't in the body; it's connected to the person's mind.”

“So? Why not just stand up to it?”

“Buffy didn't understand. He should be glad. A demon had never wormed it's way into her thoughts. She had no idea how difficult it was to face that pressure day after day. “What's important to understand is that it isn't the person's fault. Demons are trickier than you know. They can get a hold on the most innocent of victims.” Oh, that's why he'd brought up domination. He didn't want Buffy to think of him as a monster. He wanted her to see him as a hero, trapped but resisting, holding out against evil.

“But this guy killed a little girl. He's evil now. So what's the diff?”

Of course, Buffy was the Slayer. She looked at a demon and could only see evil. “Do you think the sketch will help?”

Buffy shrugged. “He doesn't look even close to human. How am I supposed to recognize him? Or am I supposed to wait until he sacrifices another child and then hunt him down?”

“There are rules for invoking demons: only under the light of a full moon, things like that. It's not true for every demon but your Watch … if you know what kind of demon it is, you might predict where and when it can be called again. Stop him ahead of time.”

She glanced at the sketch but was still glaring when she looked back up. “You've had this since last night and are only giving it to me now?”

Damn, if he said he hadn't wanted to spoil her evening, it'd sound as if he thought she was a lightweight, more concerned with partying than with Slaying. If he told her the Watcher had rejected his first sketch, it'd sound as if he was complaining. “You're welcome.” He turned on his heel and walked off, hoping she'd call him back.
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