Summary: A meeting between the petite Vampire Slayer and the brooding vampire with a soul, six years after... everything.
Warning: This story is uber-mushy, so consider yourself warned. Lots of rambling about 'true love' and 'meant to be together' ahead. Beware.
Disclaimer: I don't own. Anything. Don't sue.
Pathetic request: Please, review.
Headed for the light
So here she was. In L.A. He had called her and she had gladly given in to his request. It had been six years and yet her heart had still skipped a beat when she had answered her phone and heard his familiar voice. She didn't know why she was here right now. She didn't know why she had decided to put herself through this once again, but at the same time she knew she didn't have a choice. He was Angel. How could she ever stay away from him? Even though they hadn't seen each other or talked to each other in over six years (except the annual birthday postcard), there had never been a doubt on Buffy's mind that they would eventually cross paths again. She had been right. Except they hadn't exactly cross paths in the literal sense. She had been right nonetheless, because here she was once again, nervously tapping her fingers on the whiter than white tablecloth, dressed in a simple, yet elegant, black dress, waiting for him to arrive. In her mind she had already thought out a picture perfect date with the fairtytale happily ever after-ending, although she was fully aware of the fact that she should know better by now. She still wasn't sure what to expect of this evening, hence the tapping of the fingers.
She threw a quick glance at the clock hanging on the wall and came to the conclusion that he was late. Not the kind of late that worried her, but the kind of late that made her even more anxious and nervous than she already was. She took a deep breath and sipped from the white wine that was standing in front of her. Wine. She hated wine. Yet, she was sitting here sipping from her glass of whine. It was crazy. Just like the whole situation was crazy. Why was she here? What did he want from her? Why had he called her in the first place? She knew she was probably going to get answers to those questions very soon. Besides, she didn't mind being here. She wanted to be here. She really wanted to see him and find out how he was doing. It had been a long time since they'd seen each other and she had really missed him.
The tone of the voice was surprised and Buffy immediately recognized it. She looked up and was greeted by the familiar features of the vampire in the long, black coat, looking as good as always. He really hadn't changed a bit, which of course was no surprise since he was a vampire and vampires didn't have to deal with aging issues, but it kind of made Buffy feel like she had gone back in time. Back to when she was still a naive teenager and her life had seemed that much easier. That wasn't true of course. Back then her life had been equally difficult, but at this moment they seemed like the good old days and now to see Angel standing there looking exactly like he had back then, caused a smile to appear on her face.
"Yeah. I'm still trying to figure out how that happened. I'm guessing temporary insanity is the most likely explanation."
Buffy told him as she put down her glass. Angel smiled as he sat down across from her.
"You still suffer from that?"
"It comes and goes. Some things just never change."
Angel didn't take off his coat and this didn't surprise Buffy. She was right: some things never change. Not even in six years.
"You look good." He told her.
Buffy smiled at his kind words. She wondered how much she had changed over the last six years. It was hard to remember what she had looked like the last time they had seen each other, so she had no idea how different she looked in Angel's eyes. She didn't think she had changed a lot though. Sure, instead of blonde, her hair was now a shade of brown and there were probably a couple of wrinkles that decorated her face and hadn't been there six years ago, but she was pretty sure that she was still the same old Buffster as Xander would put it.
"Thank you. So do you. You haven't changed a bit."
"Can't argue with you there."
They exchanged a smile and that was when the expected uncomfortable silence kicked in. There always had to be uncomfortable silences. However, Buffy knew the silence wouldn't last very long. They never did.
"You want something to drink?" she asked.
"No wine, that's for sure."
"Too bad." Buffy responded. "I was hoping you would drink mine so I could order myself a martini. This wine is way too...wine-y."
"You wouldn't say."
She smiled at his joke. Angel raised his hand at a waiter that was standing nearby. He walked up to them.
"What can I get you, sir?"
"Two martinis, please." Angel ordered.
"Coming right up."
Angel nodded and the waiter walked off.
"You just saved me from a terrible fate." Buffy thanked him.
"Yes. Finishing that glass of wine would have been a terrible fate." He agreed, smirking.
Terrible fate or not, Buffy gladly put the glass aside as she awaited her martini. That's when he noticed.
"Who's the lucky guy?"
Buffy frowned, but immediately knew what he was talking about when she saw what he was looking at: the silver ring on her finger.
"Oh...nobody." Buffy quickly said.
She hid her hand under the table, as if that would make the situation go away.
"So it's not a wedding ring?"
"It is a wedding ring. So that means there should've been a wedding at some point, but...It's in the past. I don't know why I'm still wearing it. I must have forgotten to take it off."
"He wasn't the one?"
"I thought he was the one, but...sometimes love is just impossible."
Buffy hadn't intended the double-meaning behind her words, but it was out there now and it was too late to take it back. Angel didn't react to it, although Buffy was sure he had noticed it too.
"I'm sorry I brought it up." Angel apologized. "It's none of my business."
Buffy gave him a reassuring smile.
"It's okay. It just isn't something I enjoy talking about."
"We'll drop it then. I just...I don't know if this guy has hurt you in any way, but...whatever he did...you did kick his ass for it, right?"
Buffy smiled at Angel's choice of words.
"Oh yeah." She told him, nodding,
The waiter arrived and placed the martinis on the table.
"Would you like to order dinner?"
Angel threw Buffy a questioning look.
"Uh...I'm honestly not very hungry. My stomach feels all...weird."
"We'll order dinner in a while if that's okay." Angel told the waiter, who simply nodded and walked off.
Angel turned to Buffy with a sly smile on his face.
"Your stomach feels weird?"
"Yes." Buffy said. "All...tied-up."
"No...this situation's fault."
"I know the feeling. It's strange to be sitting here together." He admitted, investigating the face of the woman sitting across from him. There was something about her.
"Strange, yes...but nice too."
"You still live in England?"
"Most of the time. It's what I call home nowadays, but I'm away a lot."
"Recruiting new Slayers?"
"Yeah. And I take them on missions and stuff. I travel all over the world really. I can finally say I'm officially a world traveler."
"You like it?"
"Being a world traveler?"
"Training the new Slayers." Angel clarified.
"That doesn't sound very convincing."
"Well, I do mean it. I get to teach the new generation. All of them are young girls and in every single one of them I recognize a bit of myself."
"It brings responsibility."
"I've always had responsibility. Before, it was just Dawn and Giles and Xander and Willow. Now there a just a few more people that I feel responsible for. It doesn't really change much."
"You never get tired of it?"
Buffy thought about that for a second as she sipped her martini.
"Of course. But it's what I do. It's my life."
"And you're happy?"
Buffy looked up at Angel with a semi amused look on her face.
"What's with all the questions?"
Angel returned the amused look and shrugged.
"Well, when do I get to ask questions?"
"You haven't answered my last one yet."
Buffy looked at Angel, before answering.
"I'm not unhappy."
"And that's enough?"
"I don't know...How should I know? What is happy? How do you know if you are?"
"You just do."
"Well, I don't." Buffy simply said. "Do you know? Are you happy?"
Angel's quick and simple answer surprised Buffy. That sure wasn't the answer she expected.
"How come?" she asked, looking at him.
Angel just looked at woman in front of him. The woman he loved so much. The one person in his life that he completely trusted. The one person that would never give up on him and would accept his undivided love for her and even return it. Just thinking about her already brought a smile to his face. He'd never been able to forget about her and the look in her eyes told him she'd never been able to forget about him either. It made what he was about to do a bit easier.
He reached out to Buffy's hand that was still holding the glass. She frowned at this gesture, but the second his fingertips touched her hand, the expression on her face changed and she dropped her glass. Out of surprise probably. Hopefully. Her eyes that were wideopen with surprise, met his and then she suddenly looked away. At the same time she let go of his hand and looked down at the mess she'd made.
"Wow...look at this. I'm so clumsy." Buffy said, her voice shaky as she got up.
She grabbed her napkin and started cleaning up the mess.
Angel noticed how she avoided his look and suddenly seemed to be incredibly uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than usual.
"Buffy..." he started.
"Can you believe this? I'm telling you, the older I get, the more clumsy I get. It's unbelievable."
He watched how she nervously and desperately tried to dry the wet spot on the tablecloth. Of course it didn't work. Yet, she didn't stop.
"The waiter will take care of it." Angel tried to assure her.
"I know...but I feel bad..."
Angel then reached out to her hand again and grabbed her wrist.
She obeyed as she looked down at her wrist and saw how perfectly his hand fitted around it. She slowly let go of the napkin. Her head shot up and their eyes met once again. It was then that Angel noticed the tears in her eyes.
"...How?..." she softly asked.
"I'm not sure. There was a prophecy and...I didn't think it was true and then all of a sudden..."
Buffy barely listened to him. Her gaze moved to her hand again. She grabbed his hand with her other one and looked at it. The warm touch of his hand was the most unbelievable feeling ever. It felt familiar, although Buffy knew it wasn't possible that she'd ever felt this before.
"I can't believe it..." she whispered.
"You're not there alone." Angel assured her.
Buffy let go of his hand, but she kept looking at it. As if by looking at it, she could feel the same warmth that she felt when she touched him.
"Why are you doing this?" Buffy suddenly spoke up.
"Doing what?" Angel asked, not quite following.
"Why did you tell me this?"
She looked up.
"Because I thought you deserved to know."
"Is that all?"
"What do you mean?"
"Is that all?" she repeated. "Is that the only reason? We don't talk for six years and all of a sudden..."
"I love you, Buffy." Angel interrupted her. "I love you. I've always loved you. I felt like you needed to know."
Buffy just stared at him, trying to comprehend everything that had happened, was still happening and was about to happen.
"You wanna get out of here?" she asked him.
The unusual couple walked down the dark streets, holding hands. The streetlights lit up certain parts of the street, but it was mostly just dark. The two didn't mind though. They were used to it. Just like they were used to the silence that came with the darkness. They were both almost afraid to break it. Almost.
"What are we doing?" Buffy asked, looking up at Angel who returned a rather confused look.
"What do you mean?"
"I'm serious. What are we doing? Walking down the street like this...holding hands. We've been here before. Many times even. No good can come from this."
She sounded nervous and panicked in a way. Angel understood that.
"Don't you think things are different now?"
"Of course...You're human now, but...That doesn't guarantee that things will work out this time. That us being together will work."
"Nothing can guarantee that, Buffy."
"I know that, but..."
"The time seems right. You're no longer the Slayer. Not the only Slayer anyway. You're no longer responsible for the world and neither am I. Having a heartbeat kind of made sure that."
"Right." Buffy agreed. "No more vampire-strength."
"And I don't care." Angel assured her. "I really don't. Because now I know that I can have the one thing I've always wanted. Now I know that I can be with the only person I've always wanted to be with."
Buffy smiled a sad smile as she looked down at her feet.
"That is, if that person still wants to be with me." He softly added.
"You don't even have to ask that, you know that." Buffy assured him.
"So why are you so hesitant?"
Buffy stopped walking and let go of Angel's hand as she turned toward him. Angel looked at her expectantly.
"Because it's not as easy as you make it sound. This is all so sudden and I never thought in a million years that this moment would come and you had time to think this through, but I'm just surprised. You have no idea how much I didn't expect this tonight. I expected a lot of things, but not this. I never even dared to dream about this."
"About spending the rest of my life with you. About growing old with you. About living in a house near the beach with you. A house with a white picket fence and two brown puppy's in the yard and us sitting on the porch with the sun on our faces, drinking tea and eating homemade cookies...It all seemed impossible."
"It sounds like you dared to dream a little." Angel said. "A white picket fence? Homemade cookies?"
"2.5 children." Buffy added, smiling.
"We can have all of that. Even more."
"Like three brown puppy's?" Buffy softly asked, looking up at him.
"Or four. Maybe even three children instead of 2.5."
Buffy grinned while slowly shaking her head. Even having this conversation with Angel right now seemed totally crazy and inappropriate. Like her mind refused to believe that none of this was impossible. Like she should burst into laughter for even thinking this, but...she didn't have to. Talking about this wasn't crazy anymore. It actually made sense. And it sounded like a dream come true. It was a dream come true. Angel had been right, she had dared to dream about this on more than one occassion. And now...
"Marry me, Buffy."
Buffy's head shot up in surprise. More surprise. Her head was spinning and for a second she was afraid she was going to faint. She got herself together though and the look on Angel's face told her he was serious. More than serious. Buffy wasn't sure how to respond and he noticed.
"I know you still have to get rid of that ring on your finger and I know you still have a lot of things to take care of, but...marry me. You don't have to today or tomorrow, but...someday. Someday soon."
Buffy stared at Angel in amazement as he reached in a pocket of his leather coat and took out a jewellery-box. He slowly opened it and showed Buffy the ring inside. It was the most beautiful ring she'd ever seen and she knew it would look beautiful on her finger. She also knew that wearing it would make her the happiest woman alive. Not because of the ring, but because of the man giving it to her.
Before she even knew what she was doing, her gaze moved to her hand and the ring that was currently decorating her finger. She rubbed it softly with the thumb of her other hand, but didn't hesitate when she took the ring off in one smooth movement. She stared at it for one last second, paying special attention to the inscription.
Angel. Everlasting love.
She knew the ring she was about to replace this one with was so much more special. For one thing, because it was real. It wasn't a pathetic attempt of pretending to be in love with someone who wasn't even there. This ring had been on her finger for over five years and it was the reason she had dared to dream. She had bought the ring as a memory and maybe as a sign for the future. As something she was longing for. And now this ring was going to be replaced with a better one. One that held the same meaning, but was given to her by the man who had taught her to love in the first place instead of being bought in his memory.
A few seconds later the ring disappeared in the black purse she was holding and she looked up at Angel again.
"Are you sure?" he asked, nodding at her purse.
"That was my past. This is my future."
This was real. Not a dream like the ring she had just taken off. She held out her hand and Angel took the ring out of the box.
"Just so we're clear." Angel started. "When I put this ring on your finger, it means you're gonna marry me, right?"
Buffy smiled at his uncertainty.
"That's the idea." She told him.
Angel smiled and Buffy loved it. Like she loved him. Her hand was trembling as Angel slowly put the ring on her finger. His hand didn't leave hers when he was done and their fingers entwined. Buffy looked up at him.
"Who would've thought..."
Angel cut her off with a kiss. A soft and more importantly, warm kiss that felt too good to be real, except that it was. Their hands seperated as Buffy brought her hand to Angel's face, like she always used to. His arms were wrapped around her waist and he tried to pull her even closer. It felt like nothing around them mattered any longer. It felt like they had finally reached the place they were supposed to be at. Like everything finally made sense and all the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place.
It must have been an odd sight to see two people so in love in the middle of a dark street. The darkness was kind of ironic, but irony was the last thing on the couple's mind right now. The darkness was in their past and maybe in some parts of their future, but right now they were headed for the light and it was the best feeling in the world.