TITLE: The Morning After and Other Fairytales (1-10/10)
AUTHOR: Leni
DISCLAIMER: Dude. Feel the happiness? I'm not sure they are Joss's!
SUMMARY: Alternate BtVS2. Let's admit it, we all have a 'What If...?' pet bunny. I have two: Courting Sin (Buffy/Angelus) and this one. It's about Angel never losing his soul. Yeah, I can hear the groaning. I'd ask you to have some faith in me, but these ficlets? Cute, cuter, sweet and one that is downright tooth-ache fluffy. pets them The plot will come later, when I finally find the time to 1) TYPE, and 2) Figure out what I want for the alternate finale. pokes bunny
THANK YOU: to Sharon. For going over this and not minding when I practically jumped on her with the archive. To Kristi. For telling me that I wasn't crazy (I'm still not sure, sweetheart, but I'll take your word on it). And to Matt, because he said he'd go over the long version and that SO makes me breathe more freely! HUGS
DEDICATION: To B/A fans, even when they don't like the fluff in their B/A. smooches Flist
FEEDBACK: I'll beg. I'll plead. I'll be reaaaaally nice with it. grins

Written for the 'Time' challenge at ficvariations

Surprise

Thunder clashed outside again, making it impossible for Angel to fall asleep.

The body beside him shifted a little, her hands clenching around the sheet's edge as her sleeping face crunched in instinctive apprehension of the weather's fury; but no sooner had she moved, then Buffy went back to her easy sleep. She didn't even seem to register his presence, never being fully awake.

But he still reached for her, stroked her cheek, and he had to smile when her features smoothed slightly at the contact. For a Slayer, she was sleeping soundly tonight. It made sense, since for the last nights her dreams had haunted her. Right now it seemed as if nothing could disturb her, and how he envied that serenity!

Thunderstorms were always the worst for him. Instead of drowning the accusations of past times, thunder seemed to make the ghosts louder. For decades, Angel had stayed wide awake through nights like this.

But tonight….

Tonight Buffy seemed to pull him into her dreams, just by laying as quietly as she did. Just by being there, maybe. That small smile in her face didn't let him remember the screams for long.

All the things she did and never noticed. Like giving storms a new meaning. Like turning his life upside down for a third time, and making him think that there really existed charms in threes. Like… the last months, the good and the bad and the ugly and whatever as long as she was there. Like the fact that she'd only smile indulgently if he told her.

All those things, and she never noticed how much they meant.

Innocence

"So…"

"So…"

"You killed the Judge."

"And got a shiny rocket launcher in the same day!" Her grin fell as she noticed that he hadn't caught the joke.

Uncomfortable silence fell again.

Buffy told herself that she shouldn't have brought up Drusilla and Spike's survival at the mall. Of course Angel wouldn't feel as frustrated as her by that outcome. What had she been thinking? Things had been strained enough during the walk to her home to add that. She was such a dork!

She heaved a sigh. In retrospective, the whole day had been a wild roller coaster. Waking up at Angel's apartment, and all the fears that everything she did would be misconstrued as something she shouldn't have done. Being around Angel had never been so stressful, and even now Buffy could feel the tension between them.

It was a good tension, she had to remind herself. A thousand steps forward in what had to be the right direction. Right? Sure, kinda rushed steps. And with horrible timing. But here they were, and that they'd done and, if it weren't for that call back to reality courtesy of Scoobies Co., she'd be quite willing for a repeat. But…

…they'd gotten to her street already.

"That's my house."

Angel nodded.

"Guess I should…."

He nodded again.

Buffy looked at her shoes. They didn't offer any help. She took another deep breath and bravely smiled up at him, as if nothing could be wrong. "You're coming by tomorrow, right?"

He didn't nod this time.

That was so wrong. She felt her heart drop to her feet. "I mean, I know. Vamps won't like having a Slayer with military weaponry in town, until the next Apocalypses comes by. Or earlier. This is the Hellmouth, after all." She was babbling. She didn't care. As long as she talked, he didn't have to answer. Therefore, his lack of answer couldn't hurt her. "So, patrol will be kind of slow. But slow patrols are good." Weren't they? Now their usual patrols looked colourless. Like preparing a sandwich when a buffet was held in the next room. Still, she liked sandwiches. Would he still like them? Would he still like her when he discovered that she used food metaphors?

"Sure," he finally answered.

"Good," she said, trying not to sigh in relief. She didn't want to be that obvious.

That done, she really could find nothing else to say. He'd leave now, and she'd go greet her mom, and everything else would stay as strained between them. She didn't like it. She preferred this morning's tension, when she was naked and he was smiling and she wasn't quite sure why he was smiling. But right now…. And just when things had gone so well! Tense, but good tense. She couldn't fool herself. This wasn't good tense. "I'm sorry," she rushed out. "Tonight sucked. You were right; we shouldn't have gone back to the library. But I didn't think…. Which really should stay like that. I didn't think. Period."

"Buffy."

She bit her inner lip before raising her gaze to meet his.

He smiled thinly, shrugged. "It's okay. They love you; that's what matters."

"But…."

"See you tomorrow?"

Helplessly, she nodded. What else could she do? But she breathed more easily when he moved forward to kiss her good night.