Takes place very early season 2, BtVS

Rating: R

Notes at the end

Betas do it with good grammar. Thanks to cornerofmadness and carlyinrome.

Brickbats and bouquets always welcome. I don't own. Do I look like a balding, overweight middle aged man? (don't answer that).

White Light

She was exhausted when she went to bed, her limbs sore and her muscles fatigued. Her mind was still racing and even though her body was demanding it; she found it impossible to surrender to dreams. Patrol had been uneventful, two easy dustings but it had also been uneventful because Angel had once again avoided seeing her. She knew all his arguments; the age difference, the fact that she was a slayer and he was a vampire, his unshakeable belief that he wasn't good enough for her. She didn't care. There was an emotional connection that she wasn't willing to deny. She got up and paced, drank some water, got back into bed, stared at the ceiling. She tried to empty her mind, but it proved impossible. Finally she rolled out of bed and yanked on a shirt and sweatpants, grabbed some stakes and snuck out the window.

She actually wasn't in the mood to kill anything, so instead she just wandered the streets, paying no real attention to where she was going. One foot in front of the other, a steady pace until she looked up and realized where her traitorous legs had taken her. She was in front of his apartment. Her first urge was to run away, her second to let anger overtake her. She did neither; instead, she turned the handle and finding it open, walked in.

He was standing in the middle of the room, motionless as if he had been waiting for her. They stood, just staring at each other. Buffy had no idea what to say. I Why are you avoiding me/I . It was pointless to ask. She knew why.

"Do you trust me?"

"Yes". She didn't even think about the answer. She couldn't imagine not trusting him with her life, her heart, her soul.

He gave her a small, sad smile. "You shouldn't." He took a step toward her. "Take off your clothes." His voice was soft, even a bit apologetic, but it wasn't a request.

"What?" She yelped the word, her voice going up an octave.

"Thought you trusted me." He smirked at her. "Don't worry, nothing improper will happen" he said, after noting her continued hesitation. "I need to explain certain things to you; it will be easier this way." She nodded, although she didn't understand how that could be possible. She saw that his Japanese screen, separating his sleeping area from the rest of the room seemed to have disappeared. She wondered about where it went to, as she stood there embarrassed and confused. "If you're too shy, I understand, Buffy. Maybe you should go home." He stood motionless, arms crossed over his chest. Something about his words and posture irritated her. She shucked off her socks and shoes, shirt and pants, dumping each article of clothing unceremoniously on the floor and then lay back on his red, red sheets.

She blushed as he drank her in, his gaze moving over her slowly, committing every inch of exposed skin to memory. "Take off your underwear also." His voice was seductive, a whispered caress. This was madness, she thought. She hasn't been able to convince him to kiss her over the last few days, and in fact she hadn't even been able to find him the last two nights no matter how hard she looked and now he was asking her to strip. As he turned his back to her and rummaged through his bottom desk drawer, she removed the rest of her clothing. They both know that in the end, she would never deny him.

When he turned back to her, he had several small bottles in his hand. Paint bottles, she suddenly realized. She was so surprised by this that she didn't say anything when he chose one, shook it vigorously for a few seconds and unscrewed the lid. He carefully dipped a brush into the jar. "Lie back", he whispered. She sunk backwards into the pillows, twisting her head to keep him in sight. He painted a large yellow circle on her belly and then methodically started filling it in.

"Yellow. Like the sun, like life. That's what you are to me, Buffy, life itself. You come to me, laughing and telling me about your friends and your day and the things you see and the things you do. You give me all the things that I can't have any more, you make me remember all of it."

He picked up another small container and began painting green lines on her leg. "Green, the color of spring. The first time I saw you I could smell the new grass, hear the new born field mice skittering." Buffy thought that was peculiar. The first time he had seen her had been in a garbage-strewn alley, but she decided not to interrupt his musings. "I think I loved you a little almost from the first. You were so brave, so fierce. But when you spared me, when you saw good in me that I couldn't see myself, that's when I fell in love with you. Because of you I was reborn." She was completely speechless. She had no idea that he felt that his life had changed solely because of her. She didn't think she was special enough to inspire anyone to change his or her life.

He had been standing at the side of the bed while he spoke; her nude body laid out straight. He was near her right hip, but his eyes never left her face. Suddenly, he was at the foot of the bed. Before she had time to register what was happening, he had painted a wide stripe, encasing her private flesh in blue.

"Blue. Innocence Purity." he whispered. He was staring at the blue swath, and raised his hand as if to touch her. After a moment, his hand dropped back to his side and Buffy wasn't sure whether she was glad about that or not. "Even before I was turned, I seduced a lot of women. It was a game for me. And then after, it was just one more way to hurt my victims, one more thing to steal from them." She could see his face darken with shame. "You. You're so young, so naive about so many things."

She rolled her eyes and huffed. "I'm the slayer. I kill things for a living. I'm not exactly Miss Head-In-The-Sand."

He laughed, a short, mirthless sound. "You can't to begin to imagine the things I've done. Your worst nightmares couldn't come close."

"Angel, you didn't have a soul then. Things are different now. You act like being near you is going to corrupt me or something."

He ignored her response and chose another paint bottle.

He covered the bottoms of her feet. "That tickles," she said laughing. He gave her a small smile and then proceeded to paint her palms with purple paint also.

"Violet. The color of royalty. The color of power. Vampires come to you because we can smell the slayer power rolling off of you. Even if we don't understand what it is, it calls us. We want that power for ourselves. Don't ever doubt yourself. You're stronger than any vampire. You'll persevere in the end."

She frowned, but quickly forced her face into neutral. Not soon enough, it appeared, since he tenderly brushed a lock of hair back. "I know you didn't ask to be the slayer, but the power is inside of you now. Don't be afraid to use it, even against me."

He grabbed a medium brush and didn't move for a long time. Finally, he painted an orange circle around one breast, then the other. Each pass he painted a slightly smaller circle. He worked slowly, methodically. It took only a minute for Buffy to start writhing, trying to force more from him. Each time, he pulled back, waiting until her movements ceased before carefully continuing. She was moaning now, begging him. When her breasts were completely covered except for the small center area, he painted her nipples, moving back and forth between each breast, going quicker and quicker until finally she arched beneath him, crying out his name as her body spun out of control. He took a step back from her, the brush gripped tightly in his hand. "Orange. The color of fire. The color of passion. I've been with hundreds of others, but it was always empty desire or a prelude to ugliness. When I kiss you, I'm not thinking about games or how to hurt you. I'm thinking about what I could make you feel, the pleasure I could give you."

"Then why are you avoiding me?" She doesn't mean to, but she couldn't quite keep the little girl whine out of her voice.

"I'm a dead thing, Buffy. I'm an abomination, an affront to the living. Nothing good can come from me trying to be a man because in the end, I'm a demon."

"I don't believe that."

"Just because we don't like the truth, doesn't mean it isn't a fact."

He bent over her and told her to close her eyes. She could feel him painting her forehead, her nose, around her eyes. "You can open your eyes again." He showed her the brush filled with dark blue paint. "Indigo. The color of the sky before it fades to black. The dividing line between your world and mine. I'm a vampire. I'll never be able to live in your world. Sometime I think about making you part of mine. Your skin would glow like the finest porcelain in the moonlight." Buffy shivered at his quiet confession. She didn't want to have to acknowledge these feelings. "I wouldn't no matter how much I'm tempted. In those final moments, you'd hate me and I could never bear that, even if it was only for an instant. You're already too much a part of my world. It isn't fair to you. Just don't forget that you belong in the sunlight."

"There's only one color left." He picked up a small brush that appeared to only contain two or three hairs. He began to delicately paint a spider web of thin red lines on her right arm. "Red. The color of blood. If I needed it, would you give me your blood?" Before she could say anything, he answered for her. "I know you would. You shouldn't though. I don't deserve it. It will forever bind us in ways we can't imagine. Your blood will run in my veins. You'll forever carry a scar, a permanent reminder of me. We'll never be able to move on, not really."

"Why would I want to move on?" There was fear in her voice. "Angel, what are you trying to tell me? Why have you turned me into some kind of funky paint-by-numbers deal?"

He didn't smile, just examined her with a grave expression. "These colors represent you", he said pointing to her multi-colored body. "Yellow, green, blue, violet, orange, indigo, red. Every color of the rainbow, all a part of you. When you put all the colors together, you get pure light. That's deadly to vampires. You're deadly to vampires. This thing…these feelings between us. It can't possibly end well. I should leave and spare you. If I don't, I only see pain for both of us."

"No!", she shouted….

And sat bolt upright in her bed. The whole thing had seemed so real. It was only when she woke that she knew they were dreams. The specifics were already slipping away, her memory as ephemeral as soap bubbles. She vaguely remembered colors. And Angel talking about their relationship but the words were already gone.

She frowned, positive that the dream was trying to tell her something important. They were alike in so many ways. Both different from every other creature in the world. He was the only one who could fight at her side as an equal. The only person who understood exactly what it meant to be a slayer.

She opened up her curtains and let the white light of day wash over her. Tonight she would track him down and make him see that running away from each other was not an option.

Author's notes: I asked Ms. Smith to give one the first line of one of her stories as a starting point. She chose It was only when she woke that she knew they were dreams. This is what came to me, an odd fever dream.