Title: Forgiven
Author: Goldy
Disclaimer: Buffy and Angel belong to Joss, which is pretty much the reason I'm writing this fic.
Synopsis: My little version of the "talk" that Buffy and Angel had in 'Earshot' after she stopped the evil lunch lady. Actually, it isn't just a version-it's more like me changing their future for the better. I know that this idea is way over-used, but I wanted to write some fluff and this is the first thing I thought of.
Spoilers: I think the only spoiler is for 'Earshot' but who hasn't seen that one yet?
Feedback: Want. Give. Have.... Or something along those lines.

Buffy walked slowly if not reluctantly towards her destination. Part of her was anxious to get there. See Angel, and talk to him about what happened. Hopefully work things out so they get back to being... whatever they were. Buffy wasn't completely sure that Angel was her boyfriend. Well, he was in the sense that she didn't want to date anyone else and they were a couple, but it had been a long time since she had referred to him as that. Still, anything had to be better than completely avoiding him. She missed his light kisses and whispered I love yous.

But by pretending that everything was okay between them-or at least as okay as it could be-then Buffy would have to pretend that seeing her worst nightmare transpire was okay too. And it really wasn't. Seeing Angel and Faith was enough to send shivers down Buffy's spine, but she still couldn't get the pictures out of her mind. She saw them kissing while she was chained up helplessly to a wall. Saw Faith holding up one of the many torture instruments that were on the table. She saw Angelus with his trademark smirk that always set him apart from Angel. Most of all, the only thing that Buffy really saw and cared about was Faith and Angel groping.

Buffy did know that she was the only one that Angel loved. They were going to have to get past this. As they had gotten past everything else that had been in the way of them having a relationship of any kind.

Buffy picked up her pace slightly after realizing that maybe being out in the middle of Sunnydale's streets was not the safest thing. She was the slayer, but she was a tired slayer. Even the strongest person in the world got tired after hearing other people's thoughts, stopping a suicide, and preventing a crazy lunch lady from killing the schools population with rat poison.

She reached the mansion door and hesitated. She knew that he could feel her, and might be slightly hurt that she wasn't coming in, but Buffy needed some time to regroup before going in and facing things much better left unfaced... or something along those lines. Buffy squeezed her eyes shut, but that didn't help to dispel the trepidation she felt. Things were hard enough between Angel and her as it was-and now seeing him go further with her enemy than they had gone in the past year made Buffy sick to her stomach.

Buffy was afraid that she would run away if she didn't go into the mansion right away. Her hands were quivering slightly as she pulled away the sheet covering the doorway. As soon as she was inside where he lived, more images assaulted Buffy's brain. Some were from Angel's time as Angelus when she had to kill him and send him to hell. And, yet, others were of Faith and Angel. Faith and Angel. Buffy was still worried that he was attracted to her. They were a lot alike in so many ways...

Buffy immediately felt guilty and forced herself to look up and into Angel's chocolate brown eyes. His eyes showed his undying devotion and love for her and only helped to drive home what Buffy already knew. Angel loved her and only her. But Buffy was still far from accepting what she had seen.

"So," she started shakily..

Angel looked her up and down in concern. "Are you all right?"

Buffy self-conscientiously tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear. She held her hands tightly together as if that could stop them from shaking. "Fine," she answered trying to make her voice sound steady and strong.

Angel took a step towards her and reached out wanting to comfort her. Buffy immediately took a step back, and though Angel gave her a pleading look, he stayed where he was. "I have something I need to tell you."

Buffy groaned inwardly. 'How can this day get any worse?' "Something to tell me...?"

Angel nodded. "But not here. I want to take you out. Somewhere nice. A real... date."

Buffy gaped at him in surprise and then *really* gaped at him. He wasn't wearing typical Angel clothes. The usual black shirt and jeans were gone and in its place was a nice fancy suit. Buffy stared with her mouth hanging open. She had to admit that Angel in a suit and tie was nice. 'Not to mention the fact that he said the word "date." Now, that's big news,' Buffy thought a little dazed.

Angel came over to where she was standing and offered his arm. This time Buffy didn't back away. She took it graciously and allowed Angel to lead her outside. After Buffy recovered from her initial shock she managed to find her voice. "Where," Buffy swallowed wondering if she was dreaming, "where are we going?"

"It's a surprise," Angel said mysteriously leading her over to his car.

Then, it hit Buffy-Angel didn't have a car. Although, he obviously rented one for the occasion. The car was a beautiful sleek black mazda convertible. Angel opened the passenger door for Buffy and she slid in still not totally processing all of the information that was going through her brain.

She did notice, though, that upon entering the car her hands had stopped shaking. Angel climbed in next to her and popped the key into the ignition. He looked at her through the rearview mirror. Buffy could see her eyes in the mirror, but not his and that reminded her of the fact that even though she felt like a princess, her prince was still a vampire, and she was still going to have to take a cold shower when she got home.

"Are you okay with this?" Angel asked quietly, wondering if he had made a big mistake to go this far.

Buffy shook her head and covered one of his large hands with hers. "It's the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me. And I'm guessing that the news you need to tell me is good."

Angel smiled, but didn't give anything away. He started the car and expertly drove it out of the driveway and along the streets of Sunnydale. Buffy leaned down against the leather seat and closed her eyes. Things were still far from being perfect between the two of them, but she had to admit that the evening so far had definitely given him a few points.

"Where did you get the car?" she finally asked after a minute.

"I have my ways," Angel replied mysteriously with another small smile.

Buffy shook her head and glanced at him sideways. "You and your cryptic messages."

Angel kept his eyes firmly on the road-once again not giving anything away. Buffy gave an exasperated sigh. She hated surprises and she knew that Angel knew she hated surprises. Still, she was more than a little impressed with him. She was having a lot of trouble not staring at him openly. While Angel always looked good, he looked particularly handsome tonight, and Buffy was having trouble keeping control over herself.

Buffy looked down and frowned. She was wearing what she had been wearing to school that afternoon. She had stopped a suicide *and* a psycho lunch lady in these clothes and they were more than a little wrinkled. Not to mention the jello stain on the bottom of her shirt off to the left... and her hair could really use a brush. "Angel, I think I'm a little underdressed."

Angel took one quick glance at her before turning back to the road. "You look beautiful."

Buffy smiled softly to herself. Angel always managed to say the right things. "How do you know? You barely even looked at me!"

"You always look beautiful, Buffy, no matter what you're wearing."

Buffy rolled her eyes and chalked it up to those 18th century manners. She looked at Angel again, but then quickly turned her head to look out the window. She had come to the mansion to talk about the whole Faith thing and to put it behind them. Instead, she was in a fancy black convertible with leather seats out in the middle of who knew where. She did like the car and she did like Angel's suit, but Buffy still wanted to talk about the Faith incident and she really really wanted to put it behind her. The only problem was that Angel seemed to be talking about anything but that little problem. In fact, Angel wasn't really saying anything at all.

Buffy gave another annoyed sigh and settled down to watch the night flash by beside and around her. She was going to talk about Faith with Angel if it was the last thing that she did. But she'd wait until Angel took her to the "surprise" place.

Buffy didn't have to wait all that long. Angel soon drove into a fancy Greek restaurant. Buffy chewed on her lip nervously as she got out of the car. 'What is going on here? Angel and I really are having a real date. And he really did take me somewhere nice...' she thought nervously as Angel locked up the car and came around offering his elbow again.

Buffy had to admit that Angel was a real gentleman. He opened all doors for her and pulled out her chair. As the slayer and a girl from the 20th century Buffy tended to think that she could do her own door opening and chair pulling, but it was incredibly romantic for Angel to do it for her. Although, it wasn't incredibly romantic when he had to tell her in detail what everything in the menu was. In the end, Buffy settled on a hamburger and french fries from the children's menu and Angel ordered something that Buffy had never heard of and didn't ever plan on knowing.

"Whatever happened to your iron rich diet?" Buffy asked amazed at the chance to actually see Angel eat food.

"I can eat. It just doesn't do anything for me, and I can't really taste it," Angel replied nonchalantly as if Buffy was asking him an everyday thing.

"Oh," Buffy squeaked with a nod. Things were still rather forced between them rather than the usual comfortable atmosphere that surrounded her and Angel. She wanted to start the whole moving on thing, but wasn't sure how. Buffy knew that she was really jumpy and part of it was from the fact that she looked very out of place in the restaurant. First of all, she was the youngest in the room, and though Angel didn't look all that much older than her-he seemed older. Everyone else in the room was in a suit or a fancy dress, while Buffy was stuck with jello.

The waitress brought the two of them their drinks and Buffy could swear that she saw the waitress frown at her. She looked longingly at the beer Angel had and then not so longingly down at her coke. Even though Buffy had never drunk before in her life, she really wanted some alcohol.

The waitress, Sarah, gave an appreciative glance at Angel and another glare in Buffy's direction before walking away. Buffy was tempted to stick out her tongue, but as a mature levelheaded young adult, she squelched that desire as quick as possible.

"She seems nice," Angel commented with a nod at the Sarah's back.

"Really?" Buffy snapped sarcastically, "maybe you should go and make-out with her. Grope a feel while you're at it. Even better, why not chain up your girlfriend so she can watch?"

Angel stared at her with his mouth half-open and his eyes wide searching Buffy's face frantically trying to figure out what had caused this outburst. Finally, Angel stood up and glared down at her. This was the first time, he realized, that he'd ever been truly angry with her. "What do you want from me, Buffy? I told you I was sorry. I told you that I never wanted to take it that far. And do I really need to remind you who it was that told me to do that in the first place? You, Buffy. You told me to pretend to be Angelus. I knew that something like this was going to happen, but I did it anyway because *you* told me to!"

Buffy stood up, too. She stared at Angel like he was more her enemy than her lover. He had *never* yelled at her like that before. "So, now it's my fault?" Buffy yelled not bothering to keep her voice down like Angel had, "I saw my worst nightmare come true and your telling me it was *my* fault? Well, I'm sorry, Angel, next time I see you and Faith groping I'll try and handle it better."

"Look, Buffy, I'm not saying that you should be fine after seeing that," Angel cried his voice rising now, too, "but I'm part of this relationship too, damn it! And you can't keep me out of your life because you always need time-"

Sarah came over with a man that Buffy figured to be the manager. They both scowled at the couple. "Ma'am, sir, would you please sit down? You're making a scene. Keep this up, and I'll have to kick you out, " the man said politely but firmly.

Buffy blushed and sat down guiltily when she noticed that everyone in the restaurant was staring at her and Angel. Angel looked rather frazzled himself and quickly muttered an apology before sitting down. The man nodded once and walked away. Sarah, on the other hand, lingered a little longer tugging down her shirt and giving Angel another sexy smile before walking away. Buffy, too emotionally wrung out didn't even have the energy to give her a glare.

Angel opened his mouth as if to say something but then quickly close it. Buffy felt hot helpless tears sting the back of her eyes. With everything that they had been through together was Faith going to be the thing that would finally tear them apart? It almost seemed to be that way. Buffy wasn't ready to say sorry and apparently neither was Angel. She concentrated very hard on her coke and clenched her fist together so hard that her wrist started to bleed. The evening had seemed so nice and romantic at first and now Buffy couldn't wait for it to be over so she could go home and cry.

Finally, the food arrived and Buffy was thankful for the distraction. Sarah, of course, took that moment to get out a piece of paper and a pen. She wrote down something and handed it to Angel. "Here's my number... call me," she said seductively.

When Angel picked up the paper and actually put it in his pocket Buffy had had enough. She got up and ran to the ladies room. Once there she locked herself in a stall and leaned against the wall for support resisting the urge to fall to her knees and cry. She knew that a lot of what Angel had said was true. She was the one who had told him to pretend to be Angelus. She was the one who always insisted on taking "breaks" and expected Angel to go along with it. She was surprised that he *hadn't* decided to try it with someone else.

She shut her eyes tightly and realized that the only thing she could do was go out and apologize. If she didn't-she wasn't sure what would happen. Buffy, glad that she now had a purpose, walked with her head high and shoulders back to her table, aware that most of the people in the restaurant were staring at her.

"I'm sorry," she said upon sitting down at the exact same time that Angel apologized.

They smiled nervously at each other and Buffy felt relieved that they were both on the same page.

"Look, Buffy, I want you to know that-"

"Angel, I want you to know that I-"

"I only love you and I've never been so sorry for anything in my life-"

"Love you and I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time before-"

Buffy chuckled when she realized that Angel hadn't heard anything that she had said and she hadn't heard anything that he said. "Me first," she interrupted quickly. Angel looked like he wanted to say something anyway, but Buffy plowed on before he could get the words out. "You were right when you said that I was the one who had told you to pretend to be Angelus. It wasn't fair for me to give you as a hard a time as I did. I know that you understand, and I know that you love me. I'm not saying that I'm completely over what happened, but rather than taking a break I'll try to talk to you instead of pushing you away." Buffy settled back in her chair trying not to look at Angel. Apologies weren't the easiest thing for her, and Buffy tried to be as honest as possible. She hoped that Angel saw that. When Angel didn't say anything Buffy wondered if she had made a terrible mistake. "I love you," she whispered finally daring to look him in the eye.

Angel was looking at her with so much love that Buffy almost felt undeserving of it all. There was also pain written on it and Buffy figured that was all that access guilt he insisted on carrying around. Giving her one of his half-smiles he simply said, "I love you too, Buffy." Buffy knew that his eyes told her everything else that she needed to know about how sorry he was, but he'd already told her, and Buffy knew that it had been her turn to apologize.

Buffy smiled back at Angel feeling the tension that had surrounded them both melt off at her confession. Relieved that things were almost as normal as they were ever going to get between the two of them, she started on her mostly cold fries. She knew that Angel was still starring at her. Buffy could feel his eyes boring into her like she was a very unique and confusing painting that needed to be studied to be understood, but Buffy didn't mind-it made her feel safe.

"How is everything going?" Sarah asked overly politely, ruining the comfortable atmosphere.

"Fine, thank you," Angel answered quickly with one more lingering glance at Buffy. "And I won't be needing this." Angel fished Sarah's number out of his pocket and handed it to her managing to look at Buffy fondly all at the same time.

Sarah glared at Buffy as if she was daring her to say something, but when it was clear that she wasn't going to say anything, Sarah shrugged and left managing to brush by Angel at the same time. Buffy's cheeks burned with anger and jealousy. Of course, Angel was rather oblivious to it all and he started on his whatyoumecallit without another thought.

Finally, he looked at Buffy thoughtfully. "I still need to tell you something."

Buffy bit her lip nervously. "What?" she asked managing to keep her voice steady.

Angel took one of her hands in his. "This whole fiasco does have a plus side."

"It does?" she muttered skeptically, but made no move to remove her hand.

Angel nodded, "The whole 'true moment of happiness clause' was taken out of the curse."

"Oh," Buffy said with a nod, "That's nice." Then her eyes widened when she realized what he told her, "Oh. My. God."

Angel smiled lightly. "I realize that there are a lot of things that we still need to work through and this doesn't change the fact that I'm still a vampire. Still, I think that this does change everything for us, but I don't want to rush into things too fast-"

"Angel, *shut up,*" Buffy cried not even realizing that the entire restaurant was once again starring at her. She shut her eyes tightly as if that would help her figure things out. She hadn't heard anything that he had been saying and frankly if it was the whole 'let's not rush into things' speech than she was glad that she missed it.

Angel stared at her in surprise. Of all the ways that he imagined she would take the news. This wasn't one of them, "Buffy..."

Suddenly Buffy's eyes flew open. She looked at him hungrily knowing exactly what she wanted, no-what she needed. "Kiss me," she demanded.

Angel didn't hesitate. Aware that all eyes were on him, but not caring, Angel came around to Buffy's side of the table and took her face in his hands. He lowered her mouth down to his and met her lips in a sweet kiss. Buffy sighed happily and ran her fingers through his hair and down his neck and chest. Angel ran his tongue over her lips and into her mouth where their tongues danced and dueled sweetly together.

Angel groaned and pulled Buffy onto the floor. Buffy smiled sneakily then wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him on top of her. She ground her hips against his seductively causing Angel to moan again.

He kissed her neck with cool lips nipping at Buffy's skin and then trailing his tongue over the tiny hurts. This time, Buffy groaned in pleasure, and lifted Angel's chin so she could ravish his mouth with hers. She nipped at his lips caressing his back and shoulders with her hands reveling in the feeling of him after so long. Buffy wanted to let go and lose herself in the feel of Angel's mouth against hers, his weight pressing on top of her, and so much more than that.

But, once again, they were loudly interrupted by a loud, "Ahem."

Angel looked up with wide eyes to find the manager glaring down at him. Buffy blushed uncontrollably, and when Angel rolled off her, got up and self-consciously smoothed down her shirt. "Perhaps," the manager started crisply, "this isn't the best place for the two of you to work on your relationship."

Angel nodded, "You're absolutely right. It won't happen again."

Buffy gulped wondering if that was a promise they would be able to keep. "I'm sorry," she squeaked.

The manager looked at her suspiciously and Buffy tried to give him her best "who me?" look. Finally, he walked away and Buffy sighed in relief. She plopped down in her chair feeling rather unsatisfied. She picked diligently at her cold fries, but she felt Angel's eyes boring into her. Buffy looked up at him and burst out laughing. It was either laugh or cry at this point and Buffy went with the former.

Soon, Angel joined in. His laugh was deep and rich-a sound that Buffy was unaccustomed to.

"A real date, huh?" Buffy smirked when she had herself under control again.

Angel shrugged, "Things were always different when it came to us."

Buffy rolled her eyes, "No kidding."

"This is the best date I've ever been on," Angel said quietly.

Buffy nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I give it ten. Although, I still have one little problem..."

"What's that?"

"I'm still hungry."

Angel gave a confused glance at her plate clearly *not* getting it. "Well, you barely ate anything."

Buffy licked her lips and sighed, "Not really that kind of hungry."

Angel's eyes dawned with understanding. "Buffy we can't... the manager..."

Buffy smiled at him. "Screw the manager," she said plaintively.

"Okay," Angel acknowledged and Buffy's eyes nearly popped out of her head. She hadn't really expected him to go along with it.

"Did you just say what I think you said?" Buffy asked hopefully.

With one quick sweep of his hand Angel knocked their plates on to the floor. Buffy laughed and lay down on the table. Angel's hands went around her tiny waist and Buffy wrapped hers around his neck. "You heard right," Angel mumbled as he bent down to kiss her. He brushed over her lips gently, but Buffy soon made the kiss deeper. She nipped and tasted, running her tongue over Angel's fangs making sure to draw blood. Angel let out a deep growl and Buffy smiled against his mouth glad that she had that power over him.

Angel ran his hands up her sides caressing her skin as he went. He could hear Buffy's heart beating harder with every touch. Angel tangled his hands in her hair amazed at the way it seemed to flow through his fingers like silk. He peppered kisses along her face, over her eyebrows, cheeks and nose. Angel sucked gently on her earlobes knowing it was one of her most sensitive spots. Buffy shivered under him in pleasure, and with a triumphant smile, Angel moved back to her swollen lips.

"SIR, MA'AM, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE???" Buffy vaguely heard the scream, but she was too lost in the feel of Angel after so long. She kept kissing him wanting to loose herself and pretend that for once she could have the normal relationship that she had dreamed about for so long.

"THAT'S IT! I'M CALLING THE POLICE." Angel, always the more mature of the two, registered some of the words and with great strength managed to look up and see who was speaking. For not the first time that day, Angel looked up into the angry face of the restaurant's manager.

Angel's eyes widened and he quickly hastened to say something *before* the manager called the authorities. "Wait, sir! I'm so sorry about this. Before you call the police why don't Buffy and I just pay and leave?"

The manager turned around and tried very hard to look mad, but he was a nice old man and against his better judgment actually found himself liking the couple in front of him. Never in his 30 years at this restaurant had he ever seen anything like the show they had put on tonight. He smiled a little despite himself, "Very well."

Angel sighed in relief and helped Buffy off the table. She smiled apologetically at him, "Do you want me to tell him it was my fault?" she said only half-joking.

Angel smiled and took her hand; "Somehow I think he already knows."

Angel paid the bill and led Buffy out into the parking lot towards the car. She pressed herself against him trying to get as close as possible. "I love you," she said softly.

Angel pressed his chin to the top of her head. "I love you more," he said and kissed the top of her head, "but, I don't want to-"

"Rush into things too fast?" Buffy finished tiredly. "Don't even start with me on that speech, Angel. I love you so much... and now I have the chance to show you how much I love you." Buffy took a deep breath, "I want you to make love to me."

Angel smiled tenderly down at her and even though Buffy didn't see it she could feel it. "I want that, too."

The drive home was one of the longest that Buffy had ever sat through even though it couldn't have been more than 15 minutes. Buffy was pretty sure that if Angel were 200 or so years younger-or anyone else-they would have just done it in the back seat. But, as it was, Angel was a gentleman, and she knew that he wouldn't want it to be in the back seat of a car. So, Buffy waited.

When they pulled up at the mansion, Buffy didn't bother to wait for Angel to open the door for her. She practically jumped out of the car and into his ready arms. Angel carried her tightly against him, bending down every few seconds to give her a light kiss, over the threshold and into his house. Angel carried her through the rooms until he stopped and lay Buffy down on a large king sized bed.

Angel leaned over her and brushed a light kiss over her lips. When he pulled away he noticed that Buffy was trembling slightly and that her cheeks were flushed. "Are you sure about this?" He asked softly.

Buffy closed her eyes, "I'm scared," she finally admitted, "I remember what happened the last time. What Angelus said to me..."

Angel took her hands in his, "You gave me a true moment of happiness, Buffy. Nothing Angelus said was true."

Buffy nodded, "I know... it's just you have so much more experience than me, and..."

Angel cut Buffy off by giving her a long deep passionate kiss. "Do you trust me?"

"More than anything," Buffy whispered.

"Then, don't be scared," Angel said firmly.

Buffy smiled weakly and led his hands down to the buckle of her pants, "Okay."

The morning after:

Buffy's eyes fluttered open and for one terrible moment she felt a year younger, waking up in bed without her lover. Then she felt him against her, and she realized that she was still pressed against his chest where they had fallen asleep. Buffy gave a sigh of relief and turned around to look lovingly at her still unconscious vampire.

She ran her hand against his cheek and felt him stir. Angel opened his eyes and smiled lazily at her. Buffy smiled, too, and not being able to resist, bent down and kissed him. "Morning, honey," she mumbled against his lips. He gave a little groan and Buffy giggled softly.

When she pulled away to breathe, Angel wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her on top of him so she was lying on his chest. Buffy loved the way that they felt skin to skin-him, so cold and she, so warm.

Angel's fingers traced lazy patterns across her back and Buffy leaned her head over where his heart would have been beating if he were mortal. Angel moved to running his fingers through her silky blond hair and said, "Good-morning, beautiful."

"Mmm, we should move in together," Buffy mumbled sleepily. Then, she sprang up in shock, "Oh, God! Did I just say that out loud?"

Angel kissed her forehead. "There isn't anything I want more."

Buffy sighed in relief and settled back down against him, "What am I going to tell my mother?"

Angel cringed, "She's going to stake me."

"Probably." Buffy nipped playfully at Angel's shoulder, "Don't worry I'll protect you."

Angel cupped Buffy's cheeks and pulled her head down for yet another sweet kiss. "You have to go to school," he said finally, knowing that she was already late.

Buffy groaned, "I want to stay here with you."

Angel just looked at her until she sighed and got up. Out of habit Buffy stretched languidly until she remembered the other person in the room. She turned around to find Angel staring at her with *very* wide eyes. "Sorry," he muttered and turned around.

"Angel, we just slept together, for god's sake." Buffy cried.

Angel turned around and looked up and down her body with such a look of worship that Buffy blushed. "You're so beautiful," he said in awe.

Buffy raised her eyebrows and moved to put on her clothes, "You're a little biased."

Angel shrugged, "You're beautiful," he repeated.

Buffy smiled tenderly at him; "You make me feel beautiful."

"Oh, my god? You what? And then you did what? Three times!" Willow gaped at Buffy with a mixture of awe and horror on her face.

Buffy nodded and smiled dreamily, "Yeah," she said simply.

Willow shook her head in amazement. She'd just heard the whole story from Buffy and she had to admit that she didn't know what to make of it. But from the look on Buffy's face, she'd never been happier, and Willow was suddenly very glad that things seemed to be working out for her and Angel. "So, what are you guys gonna do with you going away to college and everything?"

Buffy made a face, "Try as hard as I can not to think about it."


"I know, Will, it's just that everything is going so great now. I mean, I now it's really only been, like, one day, but in reality Angel and I have been waiting for this for almost three years. All I can do is think about the last few minutes we were together and the next time we will be together." Buffy sighed, missing Angel already.

Willow smiled half sympathetically and half longingly at Buffy. To be in the kind of relationship where you weren't complete unless the other person was around seemed like a dream. Then, Willow thought of all the things that Buffy and Angel had been through along the way and she was suddenly very grateful for the relationship she had with Oz. "I'm glad that things are finally working out for you guys."

Buffy smiled happily, "I think we're actually going to move in together."

This time Willow stopped in surprise, "Buffy are you sure? Moving in... that's like... a big step. A really big step... that's what adults do and stuff. Don't take this the wrong way, but he just learned that his soul was bound... don't you think you're going a little fast?"

Buffy shrugged a little dejected. She really wanted Willow to be supportive about it. She knew that no one else would be. "It just feel right," she said after a minute.

Willow's expression softened and she gave her friend a hug; "You guys deserve it."

"Thanks, Will," Buffy said appreciatively.

Summer's house, dinner:

"Buffy, you never came home last night."

Buffy sighed and averted her eyes from her mother's probing stare. She had called her at school to say that she was fine, but at the time she had forgotten to give a good excuse and now it was coming back to haunt her. She *really* did not want to have to explain to her mother what was going on with Angel. Still, she figured that she was going to have to mention it at some point, and you know what they said 'there's no time like the present.'

"I know, mom."

Joyce looked at her daughter worriedly, "Did something happen while you were slaying?" She pressed.

Buffy looked at her mother and took a deep breath. "Mom, I'm 18 now. Which means I'm at the legal age to make my own decisions."

Joyce frowned, and when she spoke, Buffy could tell that she was getting angry. "You're not answering my question."

"I didn't slay last night mom... I went on a date."

Her mom's eyes lit up, "Really, Buffy? I'm so glad that you're going to try normal-"

"With, Angel," Buffy interrupted stoically, "he told me something and I... I mean we... I mean," Buffy closed her eyes. How was she supposed to say this gently? "I spent the night."

"What are you saying Buffy?" Joyce asked sounding angry, and Buffy almost felt like saying that she was joking.

"We slept together," she blurted quickly.

Joyce stared at her and for once it seemed like she had nothing to say. She rubbed her eyes tiredly and Buffy could almost feel how disappointed she was in her. "Is he going to turn evil?" Joyce finally questioned in a small voice.

"No, mom, his soul is bound," Buffy answered tiredly. She wanted so badly for her mother to see how much she loved this man.

"Were you careful, Buffy?"

For not the fist time that day Buffy felt as if she had been transported back in time. She could have sworn that her mother had said that last time that she had found out Buffy and had had sex. "Mother, he's dead," Buffy said knowing she wasn't putting it the nicest way she could, but she wanted to drive her point home. "There isn't any point in being careful."

Joyce's eyes widened and she looked almost as if she was going to faint, "Oh, this really is a lot to take in."

Buffy sighed painfully, "Mom, what exactly is it that bugs you about this?"

"Honey, Angel's a vampire," her mom stated as if that explained everything.

Buffy stood up beginning to get angry, "Really? He's a vampire? Gee, I hadn't noticed. Thank you for telling me! I guess I'll go and break up with him now, because loving and trusting him more than anything really doesn't compare to the fact that, oh no, he's a vampire. Don't worry, mom, I'll break up with the guy who I know would do anything for me because he can't go out in sunlight."

Joyce looked more than a little surprised. Buffy noticed that she was frantically dabbing at her eyes with a napkin. Feeling a tad guilty, Buffy sat down. "Buffy," Joyce began, but then she stopped and gulped a couple of times forcing back tears, "I know that was a little unjustified..."

"A little?" Buffy huffed.

Joyce sighed, "Very unjustified, but what you need to understand, Buffy, is that I'm your mother. I brought you into this world. I want you to have what's best and only what's best. I hate the fact that you're the slayer and you have to put yourself in danger every single night. I know that you'll never have a normal life because of that, but I want it to be as normal as possible. I want you to have someone that you'll grow old with. I want you to have someone that can give you children. I want you to have the world, Buffy, because I love *you* more than anything."

Buffy bit her lip fighting down tears herself. Her heart broke that she couldn't be that daughter her mother wanted her to be, but right now she knew that her heart would break even more if she gave up Angel. "Mom, I'm happier right now than I have been in a long time. You don't have any idea what it was like for me being with someone who I love so much and not be able to show them that. If I had to leave Angel, mom, I would never have a real relationship because all of them would be compared to my first and *only* love."

"Buffy, are you sure? I mean couldn't you just try-"

"Mom, NO!" Buffy cried, "Did you not hear anything I just said?"

"Look, Buffy, all I'm saying is that there are plenty of people out there. Couldn't you just try dating one of them? I'm sure Angel would understand. If he loves you as much as you say he does than I'm sure he would give you the time to figure out what you really want," Joyce said reasonably.

Buffy was way past reasonable. She got up and glared down at her mom not even bothering to wipe away the tears streaming down her face, "I can't believe I'm even hearing this," she whispered in disbelief right before running into the kitchen and out the door.

She vaguely heard her mother yell after her, but Buffy was gone and wouldn't have gone back into that house for anything. She knew where she had to go. Knew where she would get comfort and reassurance. Buffy didn't want to admit it, but her mother had opened some deep wounds that Buffy liked to leave closed. She knew that Angel being a vampire was going to be a big problem. It wasn't that she had any problem with it.

But she knew that Angel did.

She hoped with all her might that Angel was home. Buffy needed him now. She needed that blanket of security and love. But most of all she just needed reassurance that the two of them were forever.

Buffy burst into the mansion not even bothering to knock first. Angel was there, and immediately came over to where she was standing and sobbing pathetically. He looked at her in concern and gently wiped away one of her tears. She smiled despite herself; the look of worry in his eyes was almost enough to drive away the pain in her heart.

"Buffy..." Angel questioned softly, looking at her for some sort of an explanation.

Buffy launched herself in his arms and sobbed hard against him. Angel held her and rubbed her back until she had calmed down. "I told my mother," she finally hiccuped.

Angel pulled away just enough to look her in the eye, "What did she say?" He asked soothingly.

"She was mad... and she said some things that really cut deep," Buffy whispered somewhat soothed by the deep chocolate brown eyes in front of her.

"What kinds of things?"

"About us. You..." Buffy stopped and felt her throat clog up again.

Angel pressed a light kiss to her forehead, "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

Buffy let out another strangled sob and pressed herself against him again. "You'll never leave me, right?" she asked desperately.

Buffy felt him hesitate and that deep fear of losing him cut through her sharply. She pulled away and walked backwards slowly, shaking her head in denial. "I can't believe this..." she mumbled.

Angel looked pained, "Buffy, it isn't fair to you."

Buffy held up her hand, "DON'T," she took three deep calming breaths resisting the urge to cry again. "Not now. Not what with we have... what we can have."

"I know," he gave her a slight smile. "I was thinking about it. But then I got my soul bound and spent one night with you...."

Buffy collapsed against him in relief. "Stay with me forever?"

"Forever and ever," he promised.

Buffy let out a deep relieved sigh and snuggled against Angel. Even though his skin was cold, he warmed her in a way that she knew no one else could. He was hers, now, and forever.