Part 13

January 2006

Buffy stepped out of the shower and grabbed her pale blue satin barely-there robe from the hook on the back of the door. She entered her bedroom, toweling off her hair and could not help but spare a glance at the man sleeping on her bed. Instantly her dismay at only earning twenty-five dollars in tips that afternoon turned into a feeling of overwhelming warmth and happiness.

She had saved enough while stripping that she could take a twenty-five dollar day or two. Things like money did not seem to have as much importance to her as they did six months ago. Angel's presence in her life turned her attitude around. She knew no matter what he would stand beside her. For the first time since he had left Sunnydale, Buffy felt whole again, healed. She did not worry that she would lose the roof over her head or be stuck at a minimum wage job. She did not need Angel to make her feel whole, but without him a piece of her heart, her soul was missing.

Six months later she still could not believe that he was back in her life. It had happened so fast, almost as quickly as his leaving her years ago. Now that he was in her life again she did not feel as though she had to hold back from anyone again.

The thick draperies were one of a few changes made since he moved in. He had wanted black, which she agreed to for the bedroom. For the rest of the house they found a cream material that was thick enough to keep out the sun without making the rooms dark and depressing during the day.

The night they had made love at his house they both knew it would be stupid to keep two houses. Spike telling Angel he and Illyria were going to move out just set things in motion a little faster than they had planned. Instead of Spike and Illyria moving out, they remained at that house and Buffy's house was now a home. Their home. She loved the sound of that.

She returned her towel to the bathroom once her hair was sufficiently dry. She had studying to do so her intentions were to get dressed and go to the other room. She could not wait until the semester was done even if it had only just begun. She would have the whole summer off to be lazy and spend time with Angel without being so distracted all of the time. Studying could wait she decided and unfastened the robe letting it slide to her feet in a very small pile of blue satin.

"You're home already?" he said in a sleep-hazed voice.

She laughed lightly. "Already?" She pressed her body against his, loving the way they fit together. "It's after four o'clock, Angel."

"I guess I slept the day away."

She kissed his shoulder, tracing a light path along his spine with her fingertip. "Imagine that, it's like you're a vampire or something."

He rolled onto his back and she nestled herself into the crook of his arm, draping an arm over his chest. "What can I say? I was out late patrolling and then this nymph of a girlfriend I have wouldn't leave me alone until just before dawn."

"Faith was right."

"About?"

"Slaying. It makes me hungry."

"I don't recall you eating food last night," he said proudly.

"I didn't say what it made me hungry for."

"Hmm, I suppose you got me there." He kissed the top of her head, his fingers playing with strands of her hair. "You tired?"

"A little," she whispered.

"Well, our reservations aren't for a while. So why don't you get some sleep."

"Are you going to stay here?"

"For a little while, but then I have to get up."

"Okay," she whispered, a smile on her face. The fingers resting against his chest drawing odd shapes and patterns on his chest were growing listless. Her eyes were getting heavy now that she was lying down. They had come home from patrolling and been like bunnies in bed until the sun rose. Her last hour at work had especially dragged by, the lack of tips did not help, but she did not regret one minute spent with Angel.

Angel treated her like a princess, which was fitting since he was her prince. He showered her with little gifts and words of love all of the time. Some gifts were of the slayage equipment variety. Some were of the bedroom variety. And some were things she could actually wear and use in front of anybody. She cherished each and every one of them.

She woke as the sun set, almost as if she was the vampire. Since Angel had been living here she had become hyperaware of the times the sun rose and set. His side of the bed was empty, the sheets and blanket bundled around her with care. She stretched and decided it was time to get up and get ready for their evening. She slid out of bed and sat at her vanity to fix her hair.

"I love a girl who puts her make up on naked."

"This whole lack of reflection thing is so not fair. You're lucky I didn't poke my eye out," she said gesturing to the eyeliner pencil she could have been using. She gave him a once over, contemplating whether she had time to act on the thoughts going through her mind. "Have you heard of knocking?" she asked.

"Not to get into my own bedroom."

"Fine," she said, going back to her hair. "Just be careful next time."

"I came to wake you. Will you be ready in time?"

"I'll be ready in about ten minutes." He had made dinner reservations for them at some posh restaurant she had heard of when she lived here but it had been way out of her parents' league.

"Me, too," he said and left the room for the spare bedroom where his clothes were. She vowed one day to make room for his things in her closet. He did not seem to mind so much and there were just so many things she would rather do than clean out a closet.

She slid into the low cut, form fitting gown. It was black velvet and had silver sequin piping accenting the cleavage and the high slit at her leg. It had cost way too much and it showed more skin than Angel was probably comfortable with given they were going out in public. She only turned twenty-five once so she figured it was worth it. The last time she had spent a birthday with Angel she had been seventeen and things had not turned out so well. Tonight everything about their past that was bad would be replaced with good memories.

"From here on out," she whispered as she touched up her lipstick and eyeliner. "There will be no more badness on Buffy birthdays."

She walked downstairs surprised to find the living room full of roses of various colors and balloons. She started crying, overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness. Things like birthdays probably did not matter to him anymore. And as much as she tried to be casual about it this one was special to her because he was with her. He positively took her breath away when he stepped out from the kitchen clutching a white rose in between the palms of his hands.

"You're stunning," he whispered as his eyes raked not once, not twice but three times up and down her body. His eyes turned cloudy with desire and she heard a low growl come from him.

She swallowed, not sure she could walk the rest of the way to meet him. The look in his eyes suggested conquering and destroying right there and then. "So are you. Everything," she whispered.

"It's nowhere near what you deserve, Buffy. I can't possibly give you that."

"This is wonderful. Perfect." She walked to him and kissed him deeply before drawing away. "Is this for me?" she asked as she bent to take in the rose's scent.

"Yes."

"I swear you bought out an entire florist. It's going to smell like roses in here forever."

"That's the whole point, isn't it?"

"I can take forever." She took the rose from his hands and draped an arm around his shoulder. He lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her senseless as his kisses often did.

A low whistle could be heard outside of Buffy's house where a lone figure stood in the shadows. He ran his fingers along the rim of his hat and glanced up. "You were scaring me there for a while," the man said as he peered into the window once more. The couple was unaware he was there. The Powers That Be could do that sort of thing. Finally, what he had started nine years ago was back on track. "Now you got nothing left to lose," Whistler said. He walked into the night satisfyingly whistling a jaunty tune.

The End

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Story ┬ęSusan