Sunnydale Elementary was in a sudden panic when their resident preschool teacher, who had been with them for the previous five years suddenly quit, just in time for the new school year to begin. While the district understood why she had to leave the position, and even wound up having to leave the state to go deal with the sudden losses her family was facing, it didn't exactly make their lives easy.
For the first few weeks the kids had to deal with a number of short term substitutes, when school was already a big enough adjustment for these kids just starting out, it was going just about as badly as they expected.
Buffy Summers was the giant beacon of hope from the moment her file crossed that desk.
By the end of the month she was trying to figure out how to uproot her life and move to the small Californian town she knew next to nothing about.
Of all the things she had tried to prepare herself when it came to this move, Angel Calendar had not been one of them.
It wasn't right for someone to be that gorgeous she had long since decided, and she found herself flustered more often than not when faced with him. Which, was something incredibly hard to avoid. Not only was Sunnydale a small town to begin with, but he was the nephew of the Principal, Jenny, and was basically a Jack Of All Trades at the school... and soon she realized for the whole town.
Angel was the bus driver for her class. Even with how amazing all the students learned she in fact was, he remained the highlight of every single one of those kids' day. He was funny and nice, he joked with them, he knew each of them already so well in the first few weeks. Buffy soon learned of many stories about his time as the pre-k driver and how so many kids wished to be held back just to stay on his bus. Angel had a treat for the kids every single day as they were taken back home, what it was would vary by the day. it could be sticker of their specific favorite character that of course he knew, a couple containers of Playdoh, a mixed media craft kit that would be almost as big as the kids, a book, candy bar...
He helped the crew of janitors as needed, the maintenance men, he had done at least a couple shifts watching in the cafeteria at lunch and at recesses. If anyone needed something he was usually the person to go to.
Everyone in the whole school, adults and children alike, seemed to just adore him. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He always seemed to have a smile on his face and lifted people's spirits at every chance given. He was well known to leave various teachers and staff members little gifts each Monday such as a joke on the secretary's desk, a flower on his aunts' desk, and started bringing her a weeks worth of her favorite candy starting on her second week at the new position. "If you get burnt on those now, you let me know, I'll switch it up," he had told her.
And it was well beyond school, if he found out someone had something broke in their house, she learned all about how he would work out a time around his time at the school to come try and figure out what was wrong... houses, cars, if a kid needed a frog for a local frog jumping contest and simply wasn't having luck finding one... well, he was to the rescue.
Too good to be true had never been more fitting to anything or anyone in her mind... but he could back it up, and did time and time again.
And that didn't help the butterflies that wound up going on a full blown attack inside of her every time she caught sight of him.
Buffy was watching the final little one climb on the bus, shared a smile and wave with Angel, then stepped back on the sidewalk to watch him slowly back out to take off. As if reading her mind, she heard a voice from behind her say, "His wife cheated on him and they divorced quickly. It was a big scandal at the time."
Buffy's eyes widened and she spun around, trying to not turn bright red as she came face to face with Willow Rosenberg.
"I'm sure the wondering how someone like Angel is running around out there in the world single crosses every female's mind at some point or another," she continued. "But that's basically how it goes. He and Darla married quickly, always had a bad feeling about her, but anyway... she wound up fooling around with a married man a couple towns over and as soon as he found out... it seemed like it was open and shut, done and over with. I almost feel like he hasn't really dated anyone seriously since."
"Maybe he was too in love with her and she really did him in?" Buffy offered.
Willow shrugged. "I think he likes you, though."
Buffy barked out a laugh at that idea. "I think he likes everyone."
Willow shrugged again, smiling, and saying she had better hurry up and get back inside.
When she came to Sunnydale, Buffy had borrowed her mother's giant fifth wheel camper. It wasn't exactly ideal but the best option she'd come up with in time. In passing, she had mentioned wanting to move into something bigger, not even to him, the weekend went by and Monday morning she'd walked into her classroom to find a handwritten list of houses, apartments, and such available in the area next to her candy stash. On her break, she'd even gotten calls from people she didn't know asking her if she was looking for a place and setting up times for her to come view properties.
Halfway through the month she had a more semi-permanent place to call home.
Her favorite house warming basket had been from Angel.
"What are you planning to dress up as for Halloween, Miss Summers?"
Buffy's eyes flitted to the side as she watched Angel perch on the very corner of her large desk. "The same thing I am every year. A vampire slayer."
His eyes sparkled a little, the corners of his mouth turning up some. "Do I even want to ask what the story there is?"
Buffy chuckled and shook her head. "Probably not. What about you, what daring costume are you going to be putting on?"
Pushing up off his desk until he was standing up right, "Well, now I gotta think about that..."
Angel had helped her, and many others, decorate the school for the upcoming holiday and over the course of it all had learned how going to his house for Halloween was quite a big deal in the small town. Apparently Angel was known to throw big bashes and always made a huge deal out of the trick or treating fun with the kids.
One passing of his house would convince you easily of that. She didn't even want to know how much time, money, energy went into the scene he managed to create - and he hadn't even finished yet.
She was sure the kids all had a blast.
The school carnival was the first time she saw him dressed to the nines as a vampire foe. She was sure she'd have the memory of the look on his face when he first saw her and she was taking him in engraved into her mind forever. In fact, she was sure she would always remember how much fun the whole evening had turned out to be.
He was certainly still a kid at heart. She had so much fun tagging along with him to various games and his role in the haunted house that took over most of the gym was endlessly entertaining.
While they'd talked many, many times over since her arrival, she felt like something did truly shift to where they were better friends after that night. Their conversations were grander after it, and more frequent. She still felt like the world would turn a little faster whenever he was around but the urge to faint or blush herself to death calmed down a little at the very least.
Hell, they'd even hung out outside of school a couple of times after that night.
The week of Halloween had included a field trip out to a pumpkin patch, Angel of course their driver.
Buffy hated being late, it was one of her biggest pet peeves, it seemed to make her anxiety want to hit the roof. And when her parent tag along hadn't shown up when they were ready to go, she was trying her best to calm down the son of said parent who was now in his own panic as to why his mom was late and whether they were going to leave without her.
Angel had shrugged and said it was fine. He called the small farm outside of town to let them know they were running a little behind, and when the little boy went to take a seat he tapped her on the hand and explained he had done this same song and dance with the woman with her other kids in the past.
"She'll be late, her hair a mess, she will apologize a hundred times. She will have a fresh cup of coffee from Starbucks in her hand, however," he warned, and had not been wrong. They shared a small smile when the curly haired brunette came stumbling up onto the bus.
The two of them had worked together to make sure every kid got a little painted pumpkin - even if their parents hadn't sent them with money for it, he tagged along to keep an extra eye on everyone as they wandered around the large field and took part in different games, did the corn maze, and just had the best time that they could.
Buffy had wound up sick enough to need to call out for several days close to when they were due to be out for Thanksgiving. Angel had came to her house for the second time, the first since dropping off her housewarming basket, to bring her a get well soon basket. He made sure to tell her he didn't get credit for it beyond bringing it over, that some of the girls at the diner in town had actually put it together when he asked.
He had sent her a video each day she was out of all of the kids telling her they missed her and hoped she would get to feeling better.
"I heard you're skipping out of town on us."
Angel spun around, crossing one ankle over the other as he leaned against the doorway of the small janitoral closet. "Just for the holiday."
"You sure Sunnydale can survive that long without you?"
Angel chuckled a little. "Let's hope. It's less than week, it can't crumble too much, can it?"
Buffy didn't know if it was all in her head or not, but the six days he was gone felt different to her anyway.
"Angel! Angel! Angel! What are you asking Santa for this year?"
Angel chewed his bright blue gum a few times before his twinkling eyes seemed to seek her out. "Miss Summers," came his answer, a shit eating smirk crossing his face.
The little girl laughed, Buffy couldn't even attempt to keep herself from resembling a tomato.
Every single time she'd heard someone asking him the "what do you want for Christmas" question, Angel answered it the same way each time. She decided to not acknowledge it outside of her racing mind but it was incredibly hard not to.
Before school let out again for the holiday break, Angel had helped organize a school wide movie marathon event for the kids. He'd gotten, she was almost convinced, every person in the school some sort of gift, spoiling the preschoolers the most on their last day before the break was to begin.
"You look a little blue over there," Angel said from the doorway when he had returned from dropping off all the kids and she was still working on cleaning things up.
Buffy shrugged. "Christmas break always feels a little daunting, it's longer, it's the end of the year and all, you know? And, I mean it'll be different in a small town I'm sure, but it's usually I don't see my kids the whole time and that kind of stinks. The leaving always gets me but I am sure I'll enjoy eating and sleeping and taking some time to be lazy over the next few weeks," she joked.
"Good morning," the conversation started two days later via text messages. "Want to get brunch with me?" he'd asked. "And, give or take, ten other favorite people?"
And about an hour later she was walking into the one diner in town to see almost all of her kids, some of their parents and other relatives, and already spending time together when she was missing them already so much.
"One of these days I'm going to find out something bad, or at least less than perfect about you, right?" Buffy asked when she found a moment alone with him.
"I'm far from perfect, Buffy."
"I have yet to see a single thing to back that claim up."
"What do you mean you don't like hot chocolate? What's wrong with you?" Buffy asked, taking another sip of her hot beverage as she bounced on one foot to the other to try and keep warm.
Looking over his shoulder at her, "I told you that you can go inside and warm up if you want. Or, I am good out here, you don't have to be standing out here with me."
Buffy grumbled at him. She had thought the invitation to come set up some new decorations in Angel's already loaded yard sounded like fun when he had asked but the temps had dropped to way less than she was used to it seemed overnight and she wasn't here for it. "I said I would help!" she whined and he cocked an eyebrow at her. "I'm supervising!"
Buffy found herself talking to Angel for up to hours almost every day, seeing him most days at some point or another, matching up late in the evenings to watch movies together but in their respective houses. Sometimes they'd go shopping, out to eat, make some random meet up with some of the kids to do something small around town.
Days before Christmas, she took her turn at leaving town however, going back to see her mom and some extended family for a couple of days. She hadn't been sure on what she planned to do but gave them a heads up earlier in the month that she'd prefer to do all their celebrations a little early in case she needed to be back for Christmas morning back in Sunnydale.
She had nearly talked herself out of the little idea in her head half a dozen times, sure she'd be making a huge ass of herself and wouldn't be able to show her face anywhere ever again, but nevertheless she jumped in the car and trekked back home.
"How's your trip going?" came in just as she had pulled into his driveway.
Buffy reached over to grab her phone, her eyes flickering to the house and it's endless amount of dancing lights and figurines. "It was fine."
"What are you up to?"
Buffy swallowed hard before her fingers danced over the keys. "Sitting outside in your driveway."
She watched as he stood up from the sofa through the large window at the front of his house, how his head tilted to the side, eyes narrowing as he looked for her. She turned the vehicle off as he moved over to the front door, opening it and standing between it and the large glass screen door/
"Something wrong?" Angel asked as she stepped up onto the porch and he opened the second door for her.
Buffy shook her head, swallowing hard again as she stepped one more time up into his warm living room. Feeling his eyes on her, she tried to calm her nerves before spinning back around to face him. "Sorry it's so late."
"It's fine," he said slowly. "I was up, was trying to finish my movie then thought I might try to go to bed after that."
Buffy nodded, her eyes looking around the heavily decorated house, less confident in what she was here for by the second. "I, uh-" she started but suddenly Angel had crossed the space from the door to her, his dark eyes sending a shiver down her spine as they locked with hers. "I had a stupid idea that seemed ridiculous but right now seems far worse," she admitted.
Buffy felt like the wind had been knocked out of her as he took another step closer, fingertips reaching out to her, holding her at her waist. "Does it included a Christmas miracle?"
Buffy chuckled. "I don't think that's quite what it would fall under."
"You're here aren't you?"
"Well. You did say that is what you wanted..."
"Yeah," he agreed, "I just didn't think it'd actually happen," he said, his voice close to a whisper. "And with how hard I was praying for you to show up tonight, I think miracle fits."
"Ang-" was all she had managed to breathe out before she felt him pull her to him, his warm body easing almost all the tension radiating from her, his mouth covering hers.
"There's someone knocking on your door," Buffy whispered, all too well aware that she was laying naked underneath the blanket.
"Hmm?" he muttered but before she could answer, there was knocking again. "Angel? You awake?"
He rubbed a hand down his face. "That would be Jenny. And a number of other family members... here for breakfast I absolutely haven't cooked," he laughed.
"Oh, God," Buffy moaned, her hands going to her face before he pulled them away, kissing her. "I'll take care of it," he promised. "You can run off to my bedroom to get dressed if you want.. though in no way is that preferred," he said with a wink.
Rolling her eyes, she'd hurried to grab everything she could, barely remembering to leave him with any of his own items, and ran as fast as she could toward the hallway.
Buffy did her best to make herself presentable before daring to let Angel convince her to come out, linking his hand with hers as she went to face his family.
"I see Santa delivered."
Ringing in the new year included Buffy's chance at showing off her new relationship this time. It felt like the whole town of Sunnydale had gotten the news about her and Angel within a few days and his family had taken to her from the first moment Angel referred to her as his girlfriend - not that that had exactly been discussed, before or after really either, it just was,
So after basically being attached at the hip for most of the next week, when she mentioned she'd promised to back up to her mom's, he'd jumped at the offer to come along.
When school came back into session, Buffy and Angel found themselves falling into a slightly modified routine with one another. It came together easy enough and had been a simple flow of things as far as she was concerned. She either spent each night over at Angel's place or he'd be over at her rental, they saw each other as usual - though a bit more than before - throughout the day at school, a couple days a week she would stay later and do what she needed around the room or finish whatever paperwork she had planned and normally would just do at home and wait for him to get back from his route and finish up his own self and then she'd follow him somewhere to go eat out together.
It wasn't uncommon for Angel to run a little late on the days she went on home, offering to go help someone replace a water tank or helping a neighbor work on their car, or other times for him to take off to one task or another. That was something he mentioned he was worried about and had been an issue in the past with women he had dated but Buffy wasn't phased by it.
He was a fixer, a helper, a doer. She couldn't find fault in that.
And she loved the stories he carried with it. Sometimes he'd go out to grab something from the store and come back saying he got caught up for thirty minutes helping a little girl catch a lizard off in the small field beside the grocery store, or how he went to go mow an elderly ladies' yard and how she made the best lemonade he'd ever had as a way to thank him.
Every now and then she'd offer to come along if he had pre-made plans to do something, or if someone called asking for help. She was sure she'd racked up some good stories to pass along over the course of those trips by now her own self.
Buffy hadn't seen him leave the house dressed as he was, but she still didn't find herself a bit surprised to see Angel walking around with a large bow that had heart shaped arrows and looking like a wild Cupid come Valentine's Day. Nor was she surprised he seemed to have a piece of candy for every person roaming the halls, the little flower vases and cards on the teachers' desks.
If anything about the day surprised her, it might have been he didn't go bigger.
Over Spring Break, Buffy found herself taking a giant leap and moving in with him. He had asked and by the end of that week he'd helped her load everything up after having broken her short term lease agreement with the place she'd been staying.
Maybe it was crazy and they were moving fast, but they were basically together all day every day as it were and something about just being with him felt like time wasn't an issue, it was just how it was supposed to be.
"You hid eggs all over the school didn't you?"
Angel smirked, pushing a mop across the floor. "Maybe," he drawled.
Rolling her eyes, she already spotted three of them from where she was standing. 'This was bound to be an interesting day,' she thought. And wasn't wrong... when she got to her classroom she found a bunny costume awaiting her on her desk, extra decorations than she'd left just yesterday, each spot for the kids having a basket filled with goodies.
The bunny costume wasn't a one time thing either, she would learn. Sunnydale held a few events for the Easter holiday and Angel happily signed them up to assist in the festivities. She thought it might have been her favorite city wide event she'd been to thus far when she got to watch everything happening around the large park.
Face paintings, carnival games, a huge egg hunt, Angel dressed up like the big ol' Easter Bunny and taking pictures with everyone.
She loved the craft show off to the side, how everyone seemed to come together to make sure all the kids had magic and fun again.
The end of the school year felt like it came far too had a graduation ceremony for her kids, spent a lot of time so proud of them and a lot of time crying because she would miss them. Endings were never her strong suit.
On their last day she did all she could to make it special and meaningful. She'd taken a million pictures, done time capsule videos, gotten them each gifts. She rode the bus with them for their last drop off and thought watching Angel hop off each time to take a final picture with the kids was what really did her in.
He took a picture with each kid, stopped and spoke with the parents, grandparents, whoever normally was there to get the littles, and gave his own basket to each one of them with various summer toys for them to enjoy over the next few months.
The two weeks between the final day of the school year and when summer school was to start, they went on a proper vacation. She had been the one to surprise him for once on that, but he had one upped her in the end when one morning she woke up in the cabin and found him proposing, telling her he knew that he'd wanted to marry her from the first moment he even laid eyes on her.
She'd nearly knocked them both into the ground when she launched herself at him, nearly making the chair he was in topple over as he caught her. Her lips crashed into his as she mumbled "yes" about a dozen times against him.
While Angel had signed up to continue his saintly roles at the school over the summer, she had opted to use the extra few weeks of break to refresh and relax.
Truth be told, she wound up at the school anyway finding she missed him and could always find something to help out with out there.
Somehow the plans to marry in a year or so had shifted to "Oh, let's get married this summer," so a lot of July felt like it turned into a blur trying to get everything to come together.
Angel made sure she still had time for fun though, seeming to surprise her with a day trip every other day, dragging her off to some museum, or water park, or hiking trail.
"I want to see the whole world with you," she breathed, looking down at a particularly beautiful sunset view.
Angel wrapped his arms around her from behind, pulling her against him. "Mmm, retirement plans?"
Days before the new school year was to start, the whole town of Sunnydale gathered, plus some out of towner friends and family members, to watch Angel and Miss Summers become husband and wife.