Title: My Favorite Time of the Year
Summary: Buffy's summer vacation. Timeline is future.
Rating: PG
Feedback: please!

"Buffy, you really should turn over. You're already turning red," Dawn says.

I groan and start to flip onto my back but it takes too much effort. "I'll be okay," I mumble.

"Okay, if you look all lobster-y don't blame me," Dawn says.

I open one eye and glance at her. Of course she's rubbing even more SPF 200 on her porcelain white skin. I knew she would be. This is the seventh summer Dawn and I have spent on vacation. It started after we cratered Sunnydale. We went to Rome for the summer. The next year was Barcelona, then South Africa, Australia, and Jamaica. Last year we went to visit Giles in England, not exactly vacation central I know but he was sick. He's okay now but we didn't know for a while if he would be.

It scared me. It made me realize that he's not going to be around forever which led me to Willow not being around forever and Xander and Dawn and so on. It just made me more aware of my family and the people in my life.

This year we're in St. Tropez. I think it's my favorite so far. We've got a little cottage. It's tiny, like two bedrooms. The Watcher's Council pays its slayers now. Giles made sure I got retroactive pay and a higher salary due to seniority. Truthfully, I don't do much slaying now. I consult, that's what Giles calls it. What it really means is that sometimes I lend an ear to whatever watcher is having a problem. I visit slayers, I give pep talks. I'm the council's spokesperson for their new motto, longevity in slayers.

I turned 30 years old in January. That was a big one. I never thought I'd make it to 30. I mean I remember it was quite the fan fare in the old Watcher's Council when I made it to 18. So 30 was unheard of.

"Are you sure you don't want some sunblock?" Dawn asks.

"Dawnie, the point of sunbathing is getting a tan. I know it's unhealthy, so is slaying," I mumble. I really am too relaxed to be bothered to speak up or to worry about potentially life threatening things.

I doze off sometime in the middle of Dawn's tangent about her boyfriend. I try to ignore Dawn's relationship with him as much as possible. He goes everywhere Dawn goes, so it's really hard to ignore. It's a skill I've acquired over the last three years. I know she has sex. Does she have to have sex with him? I mean yeah I did, but I was in a deeply disturbed place at the time. Dawn's not deeply disturbed, well she is obviously but it's not like she was torn out of Heaven and has a reason to be deeply disturbed. In any case, I don't want to hear about.

Twilight hangs heavy in the air. It always seems thicker, softer by the beach. The sand is still warm under my bare feet. The ocean breeze ruffles my hair and it's just a little bit cool. I shiver slightly and it's not entirely from the cold. I feel him. He's coming to me. He always comes to me after sunset.

His arms wrap around me and I sigh in contentment. I lean back against him and he places a kiss on the top of my head.

"Stay with me," I whisper.

"Always," he says.

It's the answer he gives me every night. It's the only answer he's ever been able to give me in my dreams.

The weight of his gaze wakes me up. My eyes open and I see him sitting on the sand, watching me sleep.

"I wondered when you were going to wake up. I've been watching you for a half hour," he says.

A smile spreads across my face.

"I was dreaming about you," I say.

"You always say that," he says.

"I always dream about you," I tell him.

"You're sun burnt," he says.

I grumble. "Yeah the brat said I would be but she doesn't exactly get the point of sunbathing."

"She's right. It's bad for you," he says.

"Says Mr. Burst-into-Flame besides I look better tanned," I say. I sit up and his arms go around me. I fit myself against his chest, wincing slightly at the contact of my burned skin against the rough texture of his tee shirt.

"Lean up," he says.

I lean forward and then after a moment he wraps his arms back around me and I lean against him with a smile. He's taken his shirt off and his cool skin soothes my sunburn.

"My own personal cooler, much better then gallons of sticky aloe vera gel," I say with a smile.

He grins against my cheek and kisses my neck.

"You've got to stop burning yourself like this, Love. I'm serious," he says.

"Relax. I'm thirty years old. I don't slay anymore. My life expectancy is roughly the same as any other woman," I say.

"And my life expectancy is an eternity," he says.

The pain in his voice is tangible. It lies unspoken between us that no matter how well I take care of myself, I will die and he will live, forever.

"I just want to keep you as long as I can," he says.

"Alright, I'll start using Dawn's sunscreen," I consent.

"Thank you. Are you hungry?" He asks.

"Not so much," I say.

"Dawn invited us to dinner if you want to go," he says.

I wrinkle my nose. "Is it a double date?" I ask.

He chuckles. "Buffy, they've been a couple for three years. I would have thought you had gotten used to it by now," he says.

"I am, sort of. He's just not what I had in mind for my little sister," I say.

"Well, I'm not his biggest fan but I think he loves her and he makes her happy. I've never seen Dawn laugh so much when he's around," he says.

"I know but can we skip dinner? I really just want to spend some time with you," I say. "Besides, sunburn, I don't really want to move from this spot right here." His skin is so cool against mine.

"We can stay here forever if that's what you like," he says.

"Quote me something pretty," I say.

He starts quoting from Shakespeare's A Mid Summer Night's Dream. I know that's what it is because it's one of his favorite plays.

Last year after we spent our vacation with Giles being sick, Angel was one of the people I contacted. I was a hysterical mess at the thought of Angel dying. In so many ways it's so much harder for him to die then it is for me or Giles or Dawn. But then again, it's so much easier. I could kill him right now without ever breaking a sweat. All it takes is a well placed splinter.

Angel flew to England and spent a few days with me. We talked, we fought, we did some high quality slaying. Willow bound his soul, a simple thing really. I mean at last count, she made 128 slayers, one soul is pie, or cake, maybe cookies. I don't know anyway, his soul got bound which I thought would take care of all the problems in our relationship. It went so much deeper then that though. Yeah the supernatural elements were there but we had the normal person problems too. He snores. He doesn't breathe, tell me how he can snore? He leaves his socks on the floor. He says I get crumbs in the bed. Can I help it if I get hungry at night? It's not like he would understand that, with the not eating and all. . We've contemplated getting married but he's afraid that will tie me to him further if I ever want to leave. He doesn't understand that I'm bound to him so tightly now I think it would literally kill me to leave him, like taking out my heart

A few months ago he told me about the Shoeshine, the human thing. He didn't want us to have secrets anymore. He told me he signed his sushi away. He thought he was going to die in that apocalypse. He didn't but I almost killed him when I found out he made the decision to crater LA without me. Sometimes I still dream about him turning human, mostly I'm just happy he's mine.

After a little while we stand up and walk along the beach. Angel stays with me year round now, but summers are still my favorite time of the year.