Title: Learning Love

Author: badly-knitted

Characters: Buffy, Angel, Owen Thurman, Billy 'Ford' Fordham.

Rating: PG

Word Count: 819

Spoilers/Setting: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, Lie to Me. Set mid-season two.

Summary: Buffy is a typical teen, she's had crushes on lots of boys, but this is different.

Content Notes: None needed.

Written For: Challenge 290: Crush at fan_flashworks.

Disclaimer: I don't own BTVS, or the characters.

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Being the Slayer doesn't make Buffy any less a teenage girl, and just like any young teen, she's developed countless crushes, since before she hit puberty. At one time or another actors, singers with boy bands, fellow students, even a couple of teachers, have all set her heart racing, filling her head with pleasurable fantasies, accompanied by tingles in other places. All that just from thinking about the latest object of her adoration; it's scary! Hormones have a lot to answer for; it's a miracle any teenager can think straight for more than thirty seconds at a time.

Back at her old school in L.A. Buffy had daydreamed her way through most of her classes, imagining meeting the latest pop heartthrob and having him fall head over heels for her, or picturing herself on a date with the boy sitting at the desk in front of hers, the one with the thick, dark hair and smoky grey eyes. She can't even remember now what his name had been; he'd never given her a second look anyway, too busy two-timing his homeroom girlfriend with a cheerleader in the year above.

She's had her share of crushes since coming to Sunnydale too, the delectable Owen Thurman and her old friend Ford among them. Now there were a couple of disasters she could've done without; Owen had developed a romanticised death wish following their one and only date, probably from reading too much Emily Dickenson, and Ford had been perfectly willing to sacrifice her life so he could beat death by becoming a vampire.

He'd never understood what that would really mean, that he wouldn't be himself anymore, that it would just be his body inhabited by a demon. Maybe he just hadn't wanted to understand, clinging to what he saw as his only chance at extending his life. Whatever. She'd crushed on both of them, only to have her heart crushed, once because she'd realised being with her would only get Owen killed, and he was way too nice to deserve that fate, and once because someone she'd thought she could trust completely had betrayed her. Of the two, the betrayal had been by far the worst, hurting her in ways she'd never imagined. Another painful lesson in growing up.

Angel is different, and not just in the 'I'm a vampire with a soul' way. He's older than she is, was already older even before he got turned, and now he's got her beat by several centuries, but that's beside the point. He's not some teenage boy with acne and raging hormones, he's more mature, more worldly, more experienced, more everything! He's not just interested in her body either, he likes her for everything she is, and she likes him the same way, not just for his warm, brown eyes like melted chocolate, or his broad shoulders and long legs and dazzling smile.

She likes him for the way he respects her, the way his eyes crinkle at the corners when she tells him about her day, the way he really seriously listens when she's complaining about her mom, or school, or being the Slayer. The way he always knows exactly what to say to put things into perspective and make her feel better, or sometimes worse when his patient words let her see how naïve and childish she's being. He never talks down to her though; he talks to her like they're both adults, like she's not a teenage girl wearing her heart on her sleeve.

Buffy's pretty sure what she's feeling isn't just another crush. Everything about the way Angel makes her feel is deeper somehow, and so much stronger; she knows she can count on him to be there for her, to help and protect her, to support her, and to make her laugh when she's feeling down. He's like a part of her she never knew she was missing until the first time he held her in his arms, and when they kiss… If it was possible to die from a kiss she would have done so a thousand times over by now, it's so… intense. Time stops, the world and all her problems disappear, and there's only Angel, his arms, his lips, the strength of his body pressing against hers. Buffy lives for those moments and would brave anything to be by his side.

Could this be how it feels to be in love? Every crush she's ever had pales in comparison; none of those other boys matter now, she can scarcely remember their faces, or why she thought they were so wonderful. They were no more than stepping-stones leading her to this point in her life. Buffy would die for Angel without a second thought, but she'd far rather live for him, and share every second of her life with him, for as long as she can. If that's not true love, then what is?

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The End