Rating: PG-13 probably.
Summary: Future-fic, a stormy evening in the life of Angel, including snoopy-dances in the rain and the meaning of post-slayage life.
Disclaimer: Well, yes characters aren't mine obviously. But I have done with them what I will and if the producers don't like it… sticks out tongue
Dedication: I'm not quite sure how I ended up in the final, but to all ex-competitors and reviewers a big ole' thanks for the support. And thanks to the Writers Grace crew for correcting my appalling spelling on more than one occasion…
Author's Notes: Wow, this is the last fic for this last round of Buffy Survivor. It's the end, I feel quite sad… anyway challenge is at the end of this one as it's quite detailed. If you haven't heard of Survivor where have you been? Link is on my bio page.
If you want to know why it's called Life River it's because I'm finishing this very late at night and I wrote this fic listening to 'The River' by Breed 77, and 'Life' by Brides of Destruction.
Angel watched as the rain slammed against the window pane in big, fat drops that created a constant backbeat to the low murmur of conversation in the bar.
He tried not to think about the bar too much. Or touch it too much, if it came to it. If Willie's hadn't been decimated by his lover's attempts to save the world then Angel would've been quite confident Willie had set up here to serve an even slimier clientele.
He had no particular desire to be spending his evening anywhere near this pub-from-hell. He found himself quite sure his new boss was more trouble than she was worth. Smiling slightly to himself, he motioned for another drink and tuned his attention back to the group sitting in a huddle in one of the many cavernous dark corners of the room.
Two were certainly demons, the first, despite his jeans and cheque shirt, had wrinkled burnt skin and a sawn off horn in the centre of his forehead. The other was quiet and small, forked tongue and small green eyes. Probably the other demon's apprentice, Angel reasoned. Although seeming unthreatening now the smaller demon, an Alkriash, would grow to a hefty size in the next couple of years.
The third was much more difficult to place, small like the Alkriash, but shrouded in a black cloak that fell low over his brow so that it was difficult to see what he was. Angel's senses screamed at the presence of dark magic… but also of humanity.
"Taking's are down… if I didn't know better I'd say that Slayer bitch was in town." The man in the cloak huffed.
"Slayer?" The Alkriash echoed.
"Yeah, y'know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer… defeater of armies…" Angel's ears pricked, and he felt the muscles in his back tensing…
"Vampire Layer more like." The other demon joked. The glass Angel was holding shattered suddenly, and the other demons in the bar stopped their talk for a minute to watch him curiously. For a moment all Angel could hear was the patter of the rain on the glass and the burning rhythm of his blood in his ears.
The demon glanced around before continuing. "Spike was always at Willie's… pissed out of his tree because of the chit turning him out on his arse." The demons took a moment to reflect on this 'til the Alkarish slumped back in his chair, and splayed his hands out on the table in an open gesture.
"I thought she was back with Angelus now."
The hooded man just laughed. "Na, she's too skanktastic for him, last I heard she was hooked up with the Immort-" The man suddenly stopped talking and started scratching at the hand that was wrapped around his neck.
It took Angel a minute to realise it was he strangling the man. Shoving him away he growled at the two demons that scurried away from his furrowed brow and yellow eyes. The Alkarish stood his ground for a moment, arrogant youth enough to stay his flight.
"What's your problem?" He ground out, cheeks puffed out in false bravado.
Angel smirked. "There's this girl… what can I say, she makes me crazy…" Casually Angel reached across, and let his fingers hover over the man's face in a crazy imitation of the stunts Dru used to pull. Tucking one straggly hair behind the demon's ear he leaned in to whisper to him. "I bet you've heard all about Angelus, and how… upset he got when people touched his property."
The demon nodded, fear touching his green eyes as he very suddenly and vividly got the picture.
The man he'd dropped to the floor had managed to pull himself to his feet, and the elder demon was being deeply unsubtle in his attempts to signal the man to attack Angel.
Sighing under his breath, Angel spun around and pinned the man to the wall, grabbing his belt through the cloak he pulled sharply upward and the demon inside Angel had a moment of sadistic pride as the man curled over in agony. The movement shook the hood from it's place, so that Angel could see the man that hid beneath.
Andrew whimpered. "Angelus, c'mon… I didn't, it was just… evil superpower tough guy talk."
"I thought members of the Watchers Council were on my side." Angel hissed.
"Well, that's not how Buffy-"
Angel hit him. Then watched with quiet satisfaction as Andrew slumped down into the corner, one eye already colouring a purple-black.
Stepping out into the night a moment later he let the rain fall freely over his head and shoulders and smiled to himself. The undercover operation was completely ruined of course, but he suddenly found it very difficult to care. Squinting up into the sky for a moment he watched the clouds rushing above him and tasted the electric charge of the storm that was going to come. Smirking to himself he moved off into the darkness.
Behind him the door to the bar fell to the ground with a slap and the landlord crawled out from around the bar and cursed his shadow.
He could sense her before he saw her though the rain was heavier now and his fingers and toes were protesting at his light clothing… rain had been pouring down the back of his neck for the past hour as he ignored his car in favour of walking to his house. But the rain was so… refreshing… feeling each cool drop pounding against his skin, being cold and wet and uncomfortable… everything about it was glorious to his newly awakened senses.
The gate creaked as Angel passed through it, and as his eyes met hers he felt guilty for walking through the rain. She would worry now that he would be ill, catch a cold… Angel smiled, he hadn't had a cold in such a very long time…
She was half inside and half outside their house, leaning on the doorframe in the shelter of the porch. For a moment he wondered if she had been waiting for him but he noticed Willow a moment later sitting on the swing seat, just close enough to the house to stay dry, but leaning forward as much as she could, her attention fixed on the garden in front of her, a giddy happiness seemed to wrap around her and Angel as reminded of the shy girl she had been when they had first met - before all the problems with magic.
It took Xander yelling "Dead boy!" At him for Angel to notice his presence. His gaze flickered to Buffy whose eyes had flashed darkly at Xander's nickname, before grinning wickedly. Angel nodded at the group before turning his attention curiously to Xander.
He was standing in the rain like Angel was, a little out from the porch, his thin shirt and slacks already soaked through.
"C'mon Xand…" Willow chided, but Angel kept his eyes on Buffy as she stepped away from the door to beckon him to her. Obediently he headed up the path. "… you gotta do the dance!"
Surprised Angel's eyes locked with Xander's, and he felt a moment of compassion for the man. He wondered what game the three had been playing that Xander now had to dance in the rain.
Seeing his chance, Xander fixed his puppy-eyed expression on Angel. "Angel… you have to save me!"
"Dead boy, please!"
And swiftly changed his mind again. Shrugging he moved the last few feet to Buffy's side, pressing a kiss to her cheek, she touched his side only to pull away as she felt how wet his clothes were.
"Angel how far have you been…" He cut her off with a kiss.
"I like the rain." He reassured her.
"I remain unconvinced." Shrugging she she ran a hand through his wet hair and shrugged, a smile playing on the corners on her lips as she took in the way his wet clothes clung to him like a second skin. "Giles called."
"Okay." Shaking some of the excess water off his hair, Buffy laughed as he splattered her with water before ducking inside the house. "Don't let the party start without me."
When he returned a few minutes later Xander was getting desperate and a playful fight had broken out between him and Buffy. Announcing his newly dry presence by wrapping his arms around Buffy from behind, Angel pressed a kiss to her neck. Her hands fluttered to rest on his arms and she twisted to face him. "Angel?"
"What's going on?"
"Xander neglected to mention something to us about wanting to house sit last night."
"It's true," Willow chimed in. "But we promised to keep his little secret…"
"If you're going to use that phrase," Xander objected motioning abjectly to the ground. "Can't it be a big secret?"
Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Urk, that was way too guy-ish for me."
Xander shrugged. "Back me up Angel…"
"Not unless you tell me your little secret." Angel shot back.
Xander sighed, and throwing his hands up in the air he sighed. "Fine!" Turning around he bowed to the street and the neighbouring gardens, before turning back to face them. "Xander Harris proudly presents - the Snoopy Dance on Rain-Soaked-Grass." Willow started humming the theme and Xander performed his routine… Angel cocked his head to one side and watched as the boy jumped up and down, performing excited small steps. Willow was near dancing with glee on the porch, almost subconsciously she started mimicking his movements and seeing her reaction Xander's distress at his punishment faded a little, keeping up the jumps and kicks for nearly five minutes before a lightning bolt shot through the sky quickly followed by a wrenching crack of thunder.
All four of them jumped at the sudden disturbance to their little world. "Xand," Willow squeaked and he quickly hurried up the porch steps to shelter from the thunderstorm. Glancing down at his rain sodden, and now neatly mud-streaked clothes, Xander sighed.
Buffy nudged him, and obligingly Angel stepped back to usher them all inside. "I'll get you a shirt from upstairs." Angel offered and Xander nodded gratefully, before hugging Willow and Buffy thoroughly in an attempt to get as much mud on them as possible. Their shrieking laughs followed Angel up the stairs as he strode of in search for a shirt he didn't like very much to lend to Xander. Grabbing a stripy pink shirt Spike had once given him, he decided being charitable wouldn't kill him and grabbed some slacks before starting to dig through his drawers in search of some socks and underwear he could donate as well.
Pushing aside the Polaroid camera, he wondered briefly how it had ended up in his underwear drawer before his fingers brushed against the stiff plastic of a picture, frowning he pulled it out and felt his pulse freeze in shock before he burst out laughing.
There Xander was in all his human glory doing something very questionable with strawberries and good God was that Harmony?
Taking a moment to compose himself Angel straightened up and carefully arranged the pile of clothes and placed the photo neatly atop them.
Handing them to Xander a moment later he watched as Xander's face went from jovial to an odd shade of red… then very white as he saw the picture.
"So… I'm gunna go now." He choked out. "If I fail to die of shame… euthanise me please…"
Biting her lip to suppress her grin, Willow patted him on the shoulder comfortingly. "I'll give you a lift back."
Hours later Buffy was curled up on the sofa with Angel watching the fire roar in the hearth. As another peal of thunder crashed Buffy buried herself further into his arms. The power had gone out an hour before and they sat surrounded by candles, free from the distractions of the phone ringing and the game on TV, it would have been romantic if Buffy had been less afraid of thunderstorms.
Sensibly he understood why, on a night very much like this one she had given herself to him and in return for her love he had lost his soul and terrorised her for months. Time had passed… ten years worth, and everything had changed. The town they had fallen in love in was now a large crater in the desert. Angel was no longer a vampire, but human. And Buffy was no longer the only Slayer, tied to her destiny to save the world. Things weren't necessarily any easier, but they had still changed.
So much so that he almost forgot their troubled past, forgot how hard it had been for them. Until lightning split the sky and everything came back.
Kissing the top of Buffy's hair, he took in her appearance, casual but beautiful like she always was in jeans and one of his shirts, hair still wet from their fun in the shower earlier… all traces of the lipstick and suit of her daily wear were gone. Her eyes met hers and he was surprised how naked she seemed, emotionally, when she was in her home clothes.
"What are you thinking?"
She shrugged dismissively. "Just stuff." She turned away from his a little, and he followed her, determined to keep her eye contact.
"I'm not convinced."
She smiled at him. "I never can fool you can I?" Sighing heavily she ran one hand through her hair. "I'm just feeling a bit destiny-less." His eyebrow quirked in response. "They told me death was my gift… but apparently I've been there and done that. So now I'm thinking, hey, what's next? Jedi? I don't think the force is exactly with me."
"You really think that?" He asked surprised.
"I guess… I mean." She huffed at her own inarticulacy. Pulling herself out of his grasp she stood up, and started to pace across the room. Watching her form slip across the room he was once again taken aback by how beautiful she was, bathed in the candle-light she seemed to almost glow. "I just always had a reason for being here… the first fifteen years of my life my purpose was to be at the height of fashion - meet Luke Perry," Angel frowned, "marry him and live happily ever… then I was the Slayer, and I had to save the world from demons and darkness…" She shrugged hoplessly. "By the time I was in a position where I could leave the slaying to others Mom had died and I had to look after Dawnie, then there was the business with Rome and London… and Spike…" Stopping her pacing she turned back to face Angel and he met her eyes calmly. "Now there's nothing…" Knowing what he would say before he said it, she held up one hand. "I know – I'm still head of Slayers Inc. But they don't-"
"Need you?" Angel suggested and her eyes shot up to his. He could feel her surprise, could feel her thinking that even with her horrible explanations he understood her feelings. Knew them. And she knew why… because he felt the same.
Moving back to curl up by his side she watched their reflections flicker in the mirror above the fireplace. "I guess you know how that feels."
"When everything you've done has been for other people's benefit… I understand that the idea of doing things because you want to can be confusing." Suddenly sweeping her into his lap he seized her lips in a fast furious kiss before grinning wolfishly at her. "I'm willing to learn if you are."
Fingers already furiously unworking his shirt buttons she smiled against his lips. "I thought you'd learnt everything there was to know with two hundred and fifty years and all those dusty books."
"Even old dogs are willing to learn new tricks…" He replied, hastily divesting her of the red shirt her curves where drowning in, taking a moment to savour to feel on her warm flesh pressed against his and pressed a row of soft kisses down her jaw-line to her neck, lapping at the raised flesh of the scar there he whispered, "I heard the hands on approach is the best way to learn…"
Eyes rolling back as Angel's hand moved to less erogenous zones Buffy laughed huskily under her breath. "Funny. Then you really should be an expert by now."
"I'm a funny guy."
1. Fic should range between 1000 (min) and 3000 (max).
2. Fic due on Tuesday.
3. It must include these words: candle light, thunderstorm, strawberries, lipstick, belt, camera
Along w/ your words you must also incorporate into the fic:
1. A Big Secret
2. Dancing in the Rain
3. Quote: "They told me death was my gift...but apparently I've been there and done that. So now I'm thinking, hey, what's next? Jedi? I don't think the force is exactly with me."
4. Angel kicking some ass to defend Buffy's 'honor'
5. The phrase "Skanktastic"