BDecember 25, 1998/B

She woke with a start, both aroused and frightened. She reached for him, found him there as he always was. She would never grow tired of waking up from one of her dreams knowing there was someone to seek comfort from. She never told him about her dreams and he didn't push. She assumed he thought they were nightmares.

These dreams lately, though, weren't nightmares. Well, they were sort of. She had been dreaming about Angel a lot lately. Vivid and real, she woke in various emotional states. Sometimes she was sad, sometimes she was ready for a fight, and sometimes, like now, she was turned on.

He was already awake and welcomed her without question when she moved on top of him. His hands at her hips, he let her set the pace as she needed to at times like this. She had to push the dreams away. She had to remind herself this was her reality now. Angel was gone. Buffy was gone. There was no Buffy without Angel. There was only Anne.

Anne's life wasn't so bad. She had gotten work at a diner and an okay apartment. She had existed, minding her own business and living the life of a recluse until he came along. She waited on him one day. He was cute and charming. He made her laugh. She'd gotten hit on many times, but for some reason when he asked her to a movie, she accepted.

That was six months ago, and they were getting married next month. As soon as she turned eighteen. He knew her age. She suspected he knew she was a runaway. He just had no idea what she was running from. He seemed concerned with his image, enough so that she was surprised their relationship had gotten this far.

A lawyer. Wouldn't her parents be excited at the prospect of having a successful lawyer for a son-in-law? Too bad they'd never know him. It was strange being this close to her father and not seeing him. She'd driven past her old house a couple of times, but it wasn't the same. He didn't live there anymore and the people who did had painted it a different color.

Nothing stayed the same. She had forced change in her life. Leaving Sunnydale was the smartest thing she could have done. It was too bad she hadn't thought of it before having to spear Angel with a sword. Of course, if she had done that she probably wouldn't be alive right now. No one would. She'd done what she had to do.

Lindsey's mouth on her breasts brought her out of her thoughts. He knew exactly what she liked, sometimes even before she did. If he realized he was only getting the shell of a woman he didn't complain. She put on a good act, and she did genuinely care for him. She was just fresh out of love.

She fell on top of him once they'd both reached their climax. One thing she didn't have to worry about with him was being unsatisfied. And, hey, he didn't turn evil on her. Bonus points for the lawyer. Her lawyer. She caressed his face with the palm of her hand. She'd do the best she could by him.

The dreams were getting worse. She wished she understood what they were about. There were times she'd reached for the phone to call Giles. Once or twice, she'd actually gone so far as to dial his number. He didn't have caller ID, but there was no saying he didn't get it once she'd disappeared. She couldn't risk being found. She just wanted the dreams to stop.

"Another dream?"

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry."

"It's okay. You're here, that's all that matters."

He smoothed his hand along her hair and she sighed like a content cat. Sex with him did that to her. Made her all cuddly-like. It had all happened so fast. She'd thought after her experience with Angel earlier that year that she'd never have sex again. She had sort of fallen into it with Lindsey. He had been patient and kind, not rushing her. She probably would have seemed like an easy mark to some, but she had been able to tell from the beginning he wanted more from her.

She'd made love to him for the first time just before Halloween. She'd had a terrible run in with her boss. He'd invited her over and had gone out of his way to make the day perfect. She had known then this guy was for real. She could grab a hold of him and do what she could not to lose him. Or she could push him away and remain alone. She'd chosen to go for it. She wanted to live. She wanted to feel. She wanted the hopelessness and despair to be a distant memory.

It hadn't happened yet, but she was working on it. She had the run of Lindsey's house. He was working on getting her a job. He had contacts and had no qualms about using them to help her. What was more, he wanted her to be successful. It would be a good reflection on him. She knew that was only part of it, though. He seemed to understand what it was like to have nothing.

Sleeping had gotten easier the past month or so, spending her nights here with him. She'd gone back to her apartment the day after Halloween to collect her meager belongings. Lindsey had pulled some legal strings to get her out of having to pay an extra month's rent. She wasn't sure how he'd managed it, but her pocketbook was as appreciative as she was.

Since sleeping with Lindsey, the dreams starring Angel had subsided to the point she'd thought she was done with them. These were different, though. She was seeing things, almost as if she was viewing them through Angel's eyes. But it was also like she was really there. It was intense and, as much as she hated to admit it, very intimate. She could taste his thirst for blood, feel his body prepare for the hunt. He was a ruthless killer and once he set his mind on something couldn't be stopped. But Willow had stopped him. She had restored his soul, a moment too late. And Buffy had sealed the deal by killing him.

"Hey, hey, honey. Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. She hadn't realized she was crying that hard.

"They're just dreams, Anne."

"I know."

"Dreams can't hurt you."

"I know," she said again. Though she wasn't so sure that was true anymore.

It wasn't until later that day when they were watching television and saw a clip during a newsbreak about the freak snowstorm in Sunnydale. She tried not to show any interest. Snow? It never snowed this far south in California. She bit her lower lip, wondering what it meant. The pictures were from last night. Here in LA, they were experiencing a heat wave. It seemed strange. Too strange. Then again, life in Sunnydale was never normal.