Title: Destiny Doesn't Always Suck

Buffy smacked the alarm clock and winced as she heard the plastic clock crack. She'd been a slayer longer then she'd been just a girl, she still forgot to check the slayer strength sometimes. She crawled out of bed and into the shower. After all this time, she refused to see why Angel insisted she come to work before noon.

Once she'd had a shower, she felt more human. She dressed in a rush and jogged to the Angel Investigations business. It was 10:20. She was supposed to be at work no later then 10:00. Angel always stressed the no later part.

She walked into Angel's office and tossed herself into the chair opposite his desk.

"I know I'm late. I don't need it pointed out to me."

He put his book down and quirked an eyebrow at her. "I was here at eight."

"Yeah, you were also home last night at 2 in the morning. I, on the other hand, was chasing down Mr. Luftin's slimy demon."

"So you killed him?" Angel leaned forward across the desk.

"Yup sliced and diced. It was kind of gross actually, but Mr. Luftin should be demon free."

She and Angel had been working together for two years now. She'd helped Giles gather the new slayers for eight years. When Giles died, she'd lost the passion for that particular mission. She'd been pretty lost period. Angel Investigations had needed a new slayer. Buffy had signed on for the job. They'd tried the dating thing for a few months and it had gone in typical Buffy and Angel fashion. In other words, pain, more pain and can I have a side of pain with that.

They were good friends now. A year ago Angel had gotten the shanshu he thought he'd signed away to the Black Thorn. They'd briefly discussed trying the dating thing again. They had too much to lose now. That old don't want to ruin the friendship thing.

"I'll call Mr. Luftin later and let him know. Thank you."

She shrugged. "It's my job."

"Hey, guys, want some donuts?"

Buffy looked up as Gabe, Angel's current seer, walked in with a box of donuts. He reminded Angel of Doyle. He wasn't Irish. He didn't drink too much or gamble, but he was very laid back in a Doyle sort of way. He did dress very similar to Doyle. He had light brown, shaggy hair and golden brown eyes. Angel supposed he was handsome enough.

"Oooo," Buffy jumped up from her chair and met Gabe half way across the front office.

Gabe laughed. "I got extra jellies, just for you."

A smile broke across Buffy's face. She leaned forward and pecked Gabe on the cheek. "You're a sweetheart."

Gabe blushed and chuckled nervously. "You just like the free donuts."

She shrugged. "I'm easy…" she glanced up, realizing how that sounded. "To please, I'm easy to please."

Angel stood up slowly and ambled into the front office just in time to hear Buffy's comment. He smirked and reached into the donut box, finding a glazed one.

"How'd Mr. Luftin's slime demon go last night?" Gabe asked. He'd had a vision about it.

"Its slime bits now," Buffy said around a mouthful of jelly donut.

"I thought so. The headache was better when I woke up this morning. It could have been the Tylenol I took, but for the most part, the only thing that gives me pain relief is a big dose of Buffy slaying," Gabe rambled.

Buffy laughed. "It's good to know I work better then commercial pain reliever. Just don't tell Tylenol."

"It'll be our little secret," Gabe winked at her. "So what's on the schedule for today?"

"Unless you have a mind numbing vision, nothing." Angel flipped through the calendar on the desk. Gabe also acted as a secretary between visions.

"No thanks. I like having at least a forty eight hour period between those things, otherwise the hangovers are killer."

"Poor baby. Have you tried some of those hangover cures?" Buffy poked through the donut box for another jelly donut.

Gabe chuckled. "I'll be fine, destiny and all."

"Sucks," Buffy declared loudly.

Angel grinned. It was good to know Buffy's viewpoint on destiny hadn't changed. He sat down on the couch and watched as Buffy as she teased and laughed with Gabe. So many things about her had changed. He supposed it was normal for a human to change in the amount of time he'd known Buffy. She had turned thirty three a few months ago. It was hard to imagine. When he looked at Buffy he still saw the sixteen year old girl he'd fallen in love with. He shook his head and stood up.

"I'm going to read."

Angel walked into his office and shut the door behind him. He got a particular book off the bookshelf. Its cover was worn and shiny in places from his hands touching it countless times. The book was Sonnets From The Portuguese. He opened it to the middle of the book and caught the black and white photo before it fell to the desk. He wondered if the girl in the photo still had her copy of this book.

He didn't even notice that it had gotten dark until there was a soft knock on his office door. He looked up just as Gabe poked his head inside. "Hey, Boss, you gonna sit there and read all night?"

Angel shook his head. "I lost track of time, I guess."

Gabe walked in and sat down in the chair across from Angel's desk. "That Buffy, man she's something."

Angel nodded, his throat thick with denial over what Gabe was about to say.

"I-I know you and she used to have a thing. I mean she told me, you used to have a thing. High school sweethearts and all, well her high school. I was wondering, I mean you're friends. It'd be okay if I asked her out, wouldn't it?"

Inhuman raged bristled up inside of Angel's very human body. Snap his neck like a twig for even considering touching our mate, he thought. He had to mentally remind himself Angelus wasn't with him anymore. He only imagined his voice nowadays.

Angel wasn't sure how many minutes had passed, but Gabe was still sitting there waiting for an answer. Angel shook his head. "I'm tired," he said shoving himself away from his desk and stalking out of the office. He stopped by and bought a bottle of Irish whiskey on his way home.

Buffy sat in front of him twisting her hands. He knew she wanted to ask him something. Considering Gabe's question a few days ago, Angel was pretty sure it had something to do with that. He wasn't sure what he'd tell Buffy; after all they had agreed to be friends. He didn't, technically, have any say in her personal life anymore. That didn't mean he wanted to watch her get cuddly with the office staff.

"Uhm, I kind of wondered if I could have this weekend off. I mean barring an apocalypse because we all know I work overtime for those."

Angel quirked an eyebrow at her. "I guess so. Just take your cell phone so I can call you if something happens." He stopped and found he couldn't resist. "Are you going to see Dawn?"

Dawn lived in San Francisco with her very human husband William "Spike" Smythe.

"No, I-uhm-I kind of wanted to talk to you about that," she cast her eyes down toward her hands. He could see that she'd been biting her nails sometime recently, something Buffy had always done when she got nervous. She took a deep breath and looked up at him, a smile painting her face.

"Gabe is house sitting this weekend for a friend. The friend has a beach house in Malibu and a yacht. He asked if I wanted to go with him. I trust Gabe-I mean even if he could hurt me, I don't think he would, but I kind of feel funny about going with by myself. He said I could bring someone, a friend, if I wanted."

Angel smirked. He was pretty sure Gabe had intended for it to be a strictly solo weekend. He'd only offered the friend option to make Buffy more comfortable.

"You don't want to take someone else?"

Dumb, dumb, dumb. I'm not even there and I –still- have to do all the thinking for you, Soulboy. Our Buffy in a bikini at a beach with someone else? I don't think so. She's giving you a prime chance here, Soulboy. Do. Not. Screw. This. Up.

"I-you don't have to go. You know, never mind. Really, it's silly." Buffy started to stand up.

"I'll go. When do we leave?"

Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. "Tomorrow afternoon. Remember, it's a weekend at the beach. No black," she teased.

He tried to grin and nodded. "I'll try."

The look on Gabe's face when Angel walked out to the car with his bag was almost worth the torture Angel knew the weekend would be.

"Hey, Angel, man…" Gabe trailed off.

Buffy smiled sweetly and laid a hand on Gabe's forearm. "I hope you don't mind. I invited Angel. You said I could invite friends."

"N-no, th-that's fine. It just surprised me. I didn't realize you were a beach lover, Angel."

Angel shrugged and smirked. "I love all sorts of things now that I'm human."

Buffy gave him a look that said Be Nice and got into the SUV Gabe was driving. Angel tossed his bag in the backseat and climbed in.

The ride to Malibu was spent largely in silence. They discussed Mr. Luftin's slime demon to the point that Buffy was describing the slime. Running out of things to talk about was an understatement. Angel wondered if the entire weekend was going to be like this.

No, you dumb ass, it's going to be worse. He's going to be macking on our girl.

Angel mentally backhanded the Angelus that wasn't in his head anymore.

She's not our girl anymore, Dumb ass.

Oh, that's rich. You're the one imagining this entire conversation in your head. I don't think you're really a candidate for sound judging of what's reality and what's not. She'll always be our girl.

Shut the hell up, when did you start using words like macking?

About the time you started to imagine conversations we aren't having because I don't freaking exist anymore.

"So, Angel have you ever been sailing?" Gabe asked, interrupting Angel's internal monologue.

"What? No, not on a yacht anyhow. I took a merchant ship a time or two before they had steam power."

"I planned on taking Buffy sailing one day," Gabe caught his eye in the rearview mirror.

Angel didn't miss that he hadn't been included in those plans. He didn't care. He was here by Buffy's invitation and until she told him to back off, he was going to stick close. "Yeah? That sounds like fun. I can't wait."

The beach house was averaged sized, three bedrooms, two baths. It was built in the same style as most of the other houses, lots of glass and bleached wood. Gabe graciously gave Buffy the master bedroom, the only bedroom with its own adjoining bath.

"One more glass of wine?" Gabe asked.

"Oh, Lord, I shouldn't. I'm not so good with alcohol," Buffy started to protest.

Angel grinned. "I can promise you there will be no giant snake demons here to get you or frat boys to use you in a ritual."

Buffy giggled. "In that case," she held out her wine glass.

"Okay, I'm missing something here," Gabe said pouring some more red wine into Buffy's glass.

"Yeah, uhm—back in Sunnydale, I went to this frat party with Cordelia, Angel's second seer long story how that happened. Anyway we drank. It was drugged. I woke up chained and part of a ritual sacrifice to a giant snake demon. Angel swooped in and saved me."

Angel laughed. "Hardly. I swooped in just in time to watch you make snake bites out of the demon."

Buffy giggled again. "Yeah, I don't damsel very well."

"Never did," Angel gave her a fond smile.

"Okay so one bad experience does not a non drinker make," Gabe said, feeling the need to disrupt the nostalgic moment.

"Oh, there wasn't just one time. After that there was the magic beer, I didn't know it was magic, turned me into Cave Buffy."

"Cave Buffy?" Angel cocked an eyebrow at her.

"Oh yeah, you were already in LA for that one. It was during college. Trust me when I say not a pretty experience. The hair alone…" Buffy shuddered. "Then there were the shots with Spike. Never again do I trade shots with a vampire. I actually fell on my ass trying to kick a demon's ass. Of course it turned out the demon was really Jonathan with a glamour, but the lesson remains."

Gabe chuckled. "Okay, so I can see why you might choose to be a non drinker, but I swear I won't cast a glamour or try and sacrifice you in a ritual."

Angel growled low in his throat at the mention of using Buffy in a ritual.

I'm pretty sure we could still snap his neck. You wanna try? It'll be fun.

Maybe he should consider some medication, the kind they give schizophrenics, Angel pondered and sipped at his wine.

Buffy lay on the upper deck of the yacht in a pale blue bikini. She had sunglasses, a wide floppy hat and headphones on. That left Gabe and Angel plenty of time to talk, too much in Angel's opinion.

"So, you've known Buffy a long time."

"Over half her life," Angel commented dryly.

"Wow, then you probably know her pretty well," Gabe said, never taking his eyes off the horizon.

"Better then anyone, maybe with the exception of Willow."

"Willow, that's her friend in England, the witch?" Gabe questioned.

Angel had forgotten Gabe had never met the redhead. Willow had taken over the reformed Watcher's Council when Giles died. "Yup, that's her."

Gabe nodded, the silence between them was a like a brick wall. Things had never been this uncomfortable between him and Angel at work. Of course he'd never expressed his desire to date Buffy before.

"I'm sorry if you've got a problem with me dating Buffy."

"Does she realize you're 'dating'? As far as I know, she thinks this is just a friendly weekend." Angel realized it was a bit of a lie, but this was Buffy dating someone else. A bit of a lie was acceptable.

I'm telling you, Soulboy. Murder is perfectly acceptable in this situation.

Would you shut up? You are not in my head anymore!

Further conversation was interrupted by Buffy coming down to their deck, a pair of loose, white cargo pants over her bikini bottoms. "Hey, guys, what's going on?"

"Gabe and I were just talking about how long I've known you," Angel was quick to say.

Buffy smiled. It made her eyes twinkle. "Gosh, forever and a day."

"That's what he said," Gabe smiled at her. Angel noticed the smile didn't quite reach his eyes.

Heh, didn't realize you had competition did you, Vision boy.

We are not competition. Buffy's already made it clear she wants to be friends. We tried the dating thing.

No, you gave up on the dating thing. It's Buffy. We don't give up on Buffy.

Oh just shut the hell up.

The deck looked silver in the moonlight and she looked like a Goddess. It formed a knot in Angel's throat, one he couldn't swallow past. The reason for the knot was standing next to the Goddess. His arm was wrapped around her and their heads were close together.

He was such an idiot. She had been working with him for two years. He'd had all that time to figure out how to make it work with her.

Dumb ass. You've had 17 years to figure out how to make it work with her. If you'd listened to me-

If I'd listened to you, you would have wanted to whack her over the head with something and drag her by her hair.

What's wrong with that? And why the hell weren't we there for Cave Buffy? She probably would have liked that.

What's wrong with that is I want Buffy to want to be with me. I don't want her there by force.

You never minded using force before.

Oh shut up. You're not even here.

He couldn't sleep. He couldn't get the image of Gabe and Buffy out of his head. His very active imagination added fuel to the fire and wrote whole sappy love scenes between them, love scenes he had to bear witness to since he worked with them both.

Angel growled and got out of bed. He threw on a pair of sweat pants and a sweater. He padded barefoot through the house and onto the back deck. It looked out onto the ocean. The ocean was supposed to be calming. If all else failed, he could go for a night run.

He wasn't surprised to see her leaning on the railing, looking out into the ocean.

"Buffy." Saying her name and only her name was still a habit he couldn't seem to get rid of. It annoyed him, but he hadn't been able to break it.

She turned and smiled at him. "Angel."

Apparently it was a habit she hadn't broken either.

"What are you doing out here?" He leaned on the railing next to her.

She shrugged. "Needed to think. It's easier to do that out here without all the walls."

He nodded. He understood her reasoning. "Anything in particular?"

She groaned and lay over the railing. "I don't know. You know how bad I suck at having a love life."

Angel threw up steel walls and shut water tight doors on emotions he couldn't deal with right now. By sheer force of will he kept his voice from cracking when he asked "So you love him?"

"Oh! God! No, I mean yeah as a friend." She sighed and straightened back up. "I don't know. I mean I know he likes me and he's a sweet, sweet guy, but…"

Angel swallowed past the lump in his throat. "But what?"

Do not screw this up, Soulboy

You shut up. I am not listening to an imaginary friend.

Buffy shook her head. "I don't know. I mean-it just-I think maybe some people just aren't built for relationships. It's like a destiny thing and we both know destiny sucks."

Angel stood unsure of what to do, what to say. Imaginary Angelus was right, this was a pivotal moment. He could screw things up for the rest of his life or he could possibly fix them. He cleared his throat.

"Destiny doesn't always suck."

Brilliant, I'm going to start calling you the Idiot Child. Xander made better speeches then you do.

"When, Angel? When does Destiny not suck?"

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He hadn't need this much courage to face the demon army that'd taken Gunn, Wes and Illyria from him.

"When it puts me with you."

Buffy laughed. "No, that's when it sucks the most."

If he hadn't been privy to their past, the comment would have hurt, but he understood where Buffy was coming from.

"I'm human now, Buffy. None of the past problems apply. I'm sick and tired of being your friend. I love you. I've never, for one breath, stopped loving you. Can we give destiny another shot? I know the timing sucks. You're here on a semi first date with Gabe and I'm asking you to let me have another chance, but I can't stand the thought of never touching you the way I want to. I can't stand the idea of watching someone else touch the woman I love the way I want to. Neither of us are immortal anymore and I don't want to waste anymore time."

She watched the waves roll in, the way the moonlight made the ocean molten silver and washed the sand the same color. She took a deep breath and wrapped her hands around the railing. He had almost decided she wasn't going to answer when she looked up at him, tears making her green eyes bright.

"How do you think Gabe will take it?"