The following is a work of fiction. I do not own these characters. They are strictly the property of Joss. This story takes place in an alternate universe where Angel did not turn into Angelus after his night of "perfect happiness" with Buffy. I always wanted to play around with the idea of a "morning after" for them. And them focusing on what they had shared instead of Buffy having to face what she'd lost. That following episode where Angelus turned away from Buffy turning what they'd had into something trivial made me so sad and I just wanted to see them having a happy moment. Reviews are always welcome. Thanks for reading.
It was morning. That was his first thought when he opened his eyes. Before any of his other senses took in his surroundings, he sensed the sun. The exact time he was unsure of, but knowing it was day brought a sadness. Their night was over.
He looked over to where she lay curled up along side him. Her petite frame wrapped up in his sheets and crimson bedspread. Her head lay in the crook where his neck met his shoulder. It was as if she couldn't get close enough to him. He knew he couldn't get close enough to her for his satisfaction.
The position was also so trusting. She trusted him with not only her well-being, but her heart. Last night she'd handed it to him and it had been the most precious thing he'd ever gotten. He hadn't received many gifts in his life. His parents had been generous with him, but he'd taken it all for granted. Looking back, he wished he'd said at least one thank you. He wasn't going to make the same mistakes again. This gift was too precious to him.
Looking down at this lovely girl who had found something in him he'd been missing, he smiled.
The night before had been…well…amazing. He'd been with women. Although he didn't like to admit it, there were a lot of women. Even before he was a vampire, there had been countless meaningless conquests. He'd used them. Their bodies, their breading, whatever they would give him and then he'd cut them off. Worse yet, he hadn't cared. No woman had had his heart. Not until now.
Looking back at the petite blonde lying next to him, he carefully brushed a strand of her silky hair away from her face. She didn't even stir and he smiled down at her. How could he have gone all these years on earth without feeling what he felt for her? If he hadn't had those vampire tendencies, he would have been sure his heart was still functional. He could feel pangs and joy and sorrow where his heart was all concerning Buffy.
Sorrow when she was sad or suffering. Joy when she smiled at him, kissed him, made love with him. Pangs of regret whenever they were apart. How as it possible he could feel these things?
At least when she was with him, his other thoughts receded to the back of his mind. He didn't think about all those other women. The ones he'd used for sex then sustenance. The vampire lovers he'd kept. Feeling nothing for them but a means to get what he wanted. Then all those people he'd tortured and killed. Sometimes in his dreams he could hear them pleading for their lives. There were days where he wondered how he could go on remembering it all.
Buffy stirred beside him rolling closer and snuggling up against him. He took a breath and closed his eyes. He didn't deserve this. There were so many reasons for them not to be together, but so many reasons he couldn't live without her. The battle between the two was unbearable at times. All he knew was Buffy made his lonely, solitary life tolerable. He hadn't smiled in decades. It felt good to laugh again. To talk to someone who understood him. That he'd never had. He owed her so much.
"Hmmm," she murmured and propped her head on his shoulder. "You awake?"
"Mmm Hmm," he murmured back while he wrapped his arms around her bringing her flush against his body. Her heat warmed his cooled skin. She didn't complain about his lack of body heat. Instead she snuggled closer lying half on top of him tucking her head beneath his chin. He took a deep breath as he smiled and inhaled the scent of her shampoo. It was some floral scent that he knew he'd always associate with her.
"What time is it?"
He didn't know. Not keeping clocks around except for the one on his desk. It was something he'd picked up while in Europe. Not seeing much need to keep time, that was all he had. "Don't know. Why?"
"Gotta get to school," she mumbled in obvious distaste of the idea.
"I suppose you'll want to go home first."
"I should. Mom will wonder," she said looking up at him.
Looking down at her, he couldn't get over how beautiful she was. Her hair was a little messy from sleep, but she looked so enticing. So much so that he wanted to repeat the activities of the night before. Could he talk her into skipping school?
She laid one hand across his chest and mindlessly stroked back and forth as if in thought. "Last night," she started. "Was I…okay?"
Angel laid a hand against her cheek and lightly stroked her there. This brought her gaze to lock with his. "Better than okay," he said with a warm smile. A blush colored her cheeks and he ran a finger along her lips. "You were perfect. I've never felt anything like that before."
Embarrassment took over again and she looked down at his chest. "I didn't know…I mean. I wasn't sure if…"
He stopped her when he laid a finger to her lips. "Last night we made love, Buffy. I've never made love. For me, there was never love in sex. It was just sex. With you, I feel so much. I love you so much I feel guilty for how I feel when I'm around you."
"And how do you feel?"
"Happy," he said with a smile. "Like I'm human again."
She smiled and for just a moment, Angel captured her lips with his and they shared a tender kiss. Angel brought his lips to her forehead and gently kissed her as she relaxed against him savoring the moment. "I know I haven't lived as long as you have," she said after a moment, "But I've never felt like this either. I never knew anyone could feel this way. It feels like my heart is going to burst. And all I want is to get closer to you."
Angel wrapped his arms more firmly around her which brought her closer to him. "We could start now?"
Buffy smiled at him and gave him a chaste kiss. "Trust me. I'd love nothing more than…that. But I do have school. And my mother. And Giles…" she trailed off in thought while a worried expression took over her face.
"What is it? Buffy?"
As if in another world, she said, "We never check in last night. Oh God, we didn't check in," she added panicked after a moment. She looked over at him and said, "They probably think something terrible happened! I've got to get to the library." And without flourish, she threw off the covers.
As soon as she did, she realized she was naked and grabbed for the sheet. It seemed ridiculous even to her considering what she and Angel had done the night before…and what they had nearly done moments before. But, she was still new to all this and it seemed appropriate to have a little modesty.
She looked back at the man she loved and he just smiled as he sat up. "I won't look if you want to get dressed."
Nerves on edge a little, she brushed her hair back from her face and said, "I know it seems stupid…"
"If that's what makes you comfortable, I won't look."
Buffy gave him a loving smile and watched as he turned his back and sat on the edge of the bed. She blew out a breath of air and started to get dressed.
A few minutes later, Buffy stood at Angel's bathroom sink. The absence of mirrors in his place was something she'd never get used to. She stood with her makeup compact trying to brush her hair. There was no time to do anything with it except make sure it wasn't sticking up. She'd checked the one clock Angel had before entering the bathroom and she had just enough time to go home and change before having to be at school.
With a sigh, she realized there was no where she wanted to be less today than at school. Why couldn't she just stay with Angel? Just stay and spend time with this man she'd just hours before shared something so intimate and meaningful? Because real life called.
"It's getting late," she heard Angel say from behind her.
She stared into the mirror at only her reflection staring back. There was something very sad about that. She closed it and turned to face him. He was wearing a pair of black lounge pants and no shirt. The sight of him was enough to make her want to ditch school completely. Curl up with him and never leave. How good that sounded. "I know," she said laying the brush Angel had let her use on the sink basin. "I have just enough time to go home before heading to school."
Angel looked down a moment and then back up at her. "I wish I could walk you home."
The reality of his words hit her hard. It was two-fold. She loved that he cared enough about her to want to walk her home even if it was daytime. They'd shared something very special and this just proved he was feeling the same way. But, the fact that he couldn't go out into the sunlight showed her how difficult this could be. She didn't want to think about any of that. None of the bad. She and Angel loved each other. That was enough. At least for now.
"I know you would," she said with a smile. "And it's okay. I need to go, but I'll see you."
"Yeah, tonight is good."
When Buffy got home, she was hoping to bypass her mother. No such luck. As soon as she hit the stairs, she was there.
"Buffy? Just getting home?"
"Yeah. I really need to get ready for school."
"Did you have a good time?"
Wow, the double meaning in that question was enough to make Buffy blush. She managed not to saying, "Yeah."
"What did you and Willow do?"
"Uh, Mom. Can't really talk now."
"Of course. I have to go too."
Buffy turned trying to get out without anymore questions. "Buffy?"
She cringed just before turning back around. "Yeah?"
"Your birthday. It was good?"
"Yeah," she smiled at her mom. "It was good. See you later."
Buffy hightailed it up the stairs thinking of the "good" that had been her birthday. Not just losing her virginity, but actually giving it away to the man she loved. Sharing something with him only they would know. Okay, that was pretty special. Which made it a pretty special birthday.
As she expected, Buffy arrived to school late. Her English teacher gave her a disapproving look, but said nothing. Buffy slid into her seat next to Willow who slid a note onto her desk before she'd even pulled out her books.
It read: All okay?
Buffy turned to her friend and nodded.
To say Buffy's mind wasn't on the topic of the class, the previous night's reading of As I Lay Dying, was an understatement. Her mind was elsewhere. Mostly Angel.
She ran through the events of the previous night back and forth. She'd made love with Angel. It had been wonderful. She didn't know it could be like that. And it hadn't all been the physical. They'd connected on a level that had nothing to do with their bodies. It made her so happy she wondered if it was normal to be that happy.
If you added in Angel's gentleness, she knew there could never be another man. He'd held her so lovingly that there had been no doubt in her mind of his feelings for her. She doubted she could ever feel that for someone else.
It had never been spoken between them, but she knew there had been other women. Living for 200 years, she guessed quite a few. Okay, that thought didn't make her feel so good. In fact, it made her jealous. She would even go as far to say it filled her with the green-eyed monster. That Angel had touched other women the way he touched her made her want to kick some serious ass.
"Buffy. Buffy. Miss Summers, care to join the rest of the class?" Buffy looked up at her teacher's scowling face. "Would you read the next passage?"
Panic set in as she grabbed her unopened book and flipped through the book completely clueless as to what passage she was talking about. She slid a look at Willow who tilted her book toward Buffy and pointed at the page number and then the passage.
Buffy followed her teacher's orders and read the assigned passage. Then the room went back into discussion mode and Buffy relaxed. Willow slid another note onto Buffy's desk.
She turned and smiled at her friend and then wrote below Willow's question, "Stuff on my mind." She carefully slid it onto Willow's desk. After she read it, she looked back at Buffy and acted as if she was going to ask something, but something caught her eye.
Buffy looked down at her desk and the notebook she'd had open during class. Instead of class notes, she'd been doodling. The page was littered with Angel's name. Some in cursive scrip that flowed into her name some that stood alone as stoutly as the man himself. She looked back at Willow who already had her head bent writing another note.
She slipped it back to Buffy and it read, "Last night? At A's?"
Buffy looked back at her friend's hopeful face and she nodded with a shy smile. Willow tore a piece of notebook paper and scrawled something and passed it to her.
Buffy smiled at her curiosity and mouthed, "Later."
After class adjourned, Willow was quick to catch up with Buffy in the hall. "What happened? Tell me," she pleaded.
Buffy wanted nothing more than to share probably the greatest experience of her life with her best friend, but she really needed to check in with Giles. It was her free period and her usual check in time. Besides, they were in the middle of a crowded hall. Not the place to talk about her and her boyfriend's escapades.
"Not now," and she headed on down the hallway.
"You don't have to say anything. Just nod. Did you two…you know…"
Willow kept right at her friend's side as they headed toward the library. Buffy smiled and gave a slight nod and gave Willow a look that told her everything she wanted to know.
Well, almost everything.
"Oh, wow! And was it…I mean…how…uh…"
"I promise we'll talk later. I have to check in with Giles."
They pushed through the double doors of the library to a small group gathered around. As soon as Giles saw Buffy, he seemed noticeably relieved. "Buffy. How'd it go last night?"
"We're okay, but the other news isn't so great."
"Yes. He came after me and Angel."
"But you're both okay?"
"Yeah, we got away."
"I was concerned when you didn't check in."
"I'm sorry. We got carried away with the escape and all. Then we got caught in the rain. Anyway, we'll catch this guy."
"I suppose now we should come up with some sort of strategy."
As Giles went on about what they needed to do next, Buffy took a seat and let Giles drone on.
Flashes of memory flitted in front of him. Hands touching bare skin. Mouths tasting. Limbs entwined. Heavy panting. Soft-spoken words of love. Then suddenly he saw fangs plunging into tender flesh. A scream and he sat straight up in bed.
He was covered in sweat and lying in his bed. After Buffy left, Angel had returned to bed. If the truth were told, he hadn't slept much the previous night. Not because he'd been making love to the woman he loved, but because his mind had been turning so much he couldn't sleep.
Not to mention that had been his daytime.
But he'd so wanted to fall asleep in the arms of his love.
Their night together had been so perfect. So beautiful. He'd wanted to end it with blissful slumber after glorious lovemaking. He'd never actually experienced that, but he'd read about it. Wanted to know what that was like. At least he now had the first part. But, oh, how he wanted to feel that again. And again. And, he had to face it, he wanted that forever.
Being with Buffy in all aspects was unlike anything he'd ever experienced. He'd never been in love. He'd read poems and listened to songs that told him sex was better when you were in love. He hadn't believed it fully until last night.
He leaned back against his pillow and smiled. He had no doubt he'd never get enough of Buffy Summers. Although his doubts about their relationship's sustainability were there, he wanted her as long as he could have her. Whatever way that was and for however long, he would take it.
Lunch was the soonest Buffy and Willow could have a few moments to talk alone. They'd gathered under a tree in the courtyard and Buffy had let the previous night's events spill out to her friend.
"And it was," Willow finally asked.
Buffy smiled in sheer happiness, "Wonderful. Heaven."
"Kind of ironic, isn't it. He being a demon and all."
Her smile faded and she said, "You know. For those moments in his arms, that didn't even enter my mind. It was just us. Nothing else mattered."
"Wow. And Angel. He was…"
"Loving. And Kind. Gentle. He told me he loved me."
"Before. During. After."
"Wow! Was it romantic? I mean, was it like in those songs?"
"Will, you know me. I'm not sappy, but…it was better."
"Wow," Willow exclaimed. "So, then what?"
"You mean before we fell asleep?"
Willow didn't get a chance to answer when Xander sat down on the grass with them. "Hey, guys. What are you talking about?"
Buffy and Willow exchanged a look and then turned back to Xander. Willow said, "Biology."
"Do we have a test I don't know about?"
"No," Willow replied. "We're just discussing the highlights."
Buffy ducked her head to hide her amusement and then looked over to see Willow smiling at her.
After school, Buffy had to stay after and talk with Giles. That had turned out to take longer than she'd thought. Which caused her to get home just after the sun had gone down. She was supposed to meet Angel, but he hadn't been specific on the time. Nor had he said where they would meet.
So imagine her surprise when she arrived home to find Angel and her mother in the living room. She almost dropped her book bag in the hallway.
Angel sensed her immediately and his eyes darted to hers. There was an apology there at the awkwardness of the situation. Her mother stopped in mid-sentence and looked over at Buffy.
"Buffy. You're home late."
"Yeah, sorry. Got held up with some class project. What's going on?"
"I came home and found him standing outside. He said he was waiting for you. You were supposed to study tonight."
Buffy gave Angel a thankful look that he'd come up with a good cover. "Oh," she said in feigned remembrance. "I totally forgot. I'm sorry."
Angel shrugged and said, "No problem. Maybe some other time."
"Oh, you two shouldn't have to cancel. It's not that late. Besides, I invited him to dinner."
Buffy's eyes opened wide in shock. "Mom…"
"It's okay," Angel offered. "I can't impose. We'll just reschedule," and he stood.
Joyce stood too and smiled kindly saying, "Nonsense. It's not an imposition. I was just going to make spaghetti. I'll just put out another plate. I won't take no for an answer. Buffy's friends rarely stay for dinner." She started out the door and turned to her daughter saying, "Why is that?"
Buffy shrugged. "Don't know."
Her mom patted her on the shoulder and retreated to the kitchen. As soon as she was gone, Angel walked over to her and said in a lowered voice, "I'm sorry, Buffy. I couldn't wait to see you. Came as soon as the sun went down. I didn't mean…"
Buffy stopped his rambling by placing a finger to his lips. "It's fine. My mother seems to buy the tutor thing. But we've got to get you out of dinner."
He nodded in silence for a moment and then turned back to her. "Why?"
"Why? Have you forgotten you don't eat?"
"I can fake it well enough. I want to get to know your mom."
"Are you sure?"
"About which? Staying or meeting your mom?"
"Yes to both," he said with a smile. "I know now isn't the right time, but I want her to know about us."
Buffy looked down and said, "I don't know…"
"Not today," he cut in. "But, someday."
She looked into his eyes and smiled. "I really want that too."
He smiled and cupped her face with his hand saying, "I missed you today."
She smiled back and answered, "Missed you too."
Gently they kissed and pulled away just in time for Joyce to enter again to say, "It'll be about ten minutes."
A short time later, the three of them were all seated around the kitchen table. Buffy's gaze kept darting from her mother to her boyfriend and back again. She hadn't taken a single bite of her dinner while she just moved the food around on her plate.
She noticed Angel was very good at making it look like he was eating. Somehow he acted as if he was taking bites when he wasn't. Then he'd cut up the food and move it around on his plate. She was so intrigued by this that her mother snapped her out of her trance.
"So, tell me. How did you two meet?"
Buffy looked at Angel and then her mother. "I told you, Mom. He's been tutoring me. History."
"And you're a student," she asked ignoring Buffy and looking right at Angel.
He cleared his throat in nervousness and said, "Yeah. That's right."
"How did you two connect?"
Buffy stepped in, "It was my history teacher. He wasn't happy with my last test." She looked at her mother's disapproving look and said, "Which was pretty much the consensus all the way around. Anyway, he suggested the tutor."
"So, you have a real grasp for history, Angel?"
"I suppose so," Angel answered while Buffy tried not to think of the irony.
"Is your major in history?"
"Art history, actually."
This surprised Buffy, but she continued to listen without interruption.
"Really? Art? I work at an art gallery."
"Buffy mentioned that," he said slighting her a smile along with a message. He knew what he was doing.
For the next half hour, Angel and Buffy's mother engaged in conversation spanning all areas of the art world. Buffy knew Angel must have great knowledge of things that had come over the years. Living for so long, one would have to. She just had no idea of his vast knowledge of the more cultured world. This was a side of him she hadn't seen. Another part of him uncovered. And another part to love.
After dinner, Buffy began to get nervous. As her mom was clearing the table, Angel stood to help. "That's okay," she said stopping him. "You two should get started on your studying. Don't you have a test this week, Buffy?"
How does she remember these things?! "Yeah," Buffy said with a groan.
"I'll just be in the kitchen," she added and Buffy was sure it sounded like a warning.
"I'll get my books," Buffy mumbled with a frown. This was not the way she'd wanted to spend her evening with Angel. Sitting over a history book. She'd wanted something romantic. This had been her constant subject of her daydreams throughout the day. She hated to think the only thing planned was to go in search of the newly assembled Judge.
When she returned to the table, Angel was already seated where he'd sat at dinner. Buffy pulled her chair up next to him and sat. She began to whisper, "You know, we don't have to do this…"
Angel put a finger to his mouth to silence her and said in a regular volume, "Where did we leave off?"
He pointed behind him toward the kitchen and Buffy understood. He could sense her mother was listening. "Was it the Civil War," he asked.
"Um, yeah. I think that's right."
She opened her book to the chapter they were covering in class not really looking at anything on the page. Turning back to him, she scanned his face for something. Something that would tell her what her mind had been churning over all day.
He gave her a lopsided killer smile and said, "Don't worry. It will go okay." Then his expression became serious. "We'll have time."
She got the double meaning and smiled.
They spent the next hour going over her history. Doing so long after Angel knew her mother had left hearing range. They'd just covered one section that Buffy was having a hard time with when she said, "I'm never going to get this."
"Sure you will." He flipped the page they'd just finished and then looked back at her. "You could have asked for help long before this." She looked over at him a little surprised. "Before you were in danger of failing." Since this was a tidbit she hadn't shared with him, her expression became even more surprised. He answered before she asked anything, "I knew something was bothering you after your last test. I didn't know what it was. Did a little research."
She didn't want to know exactly what kind of research that was, so she didn't ask. "It never occurred to me to ask you for help. Although, it's pretty obvious you'd be the perfect person to ask."
"Anytime you need anything. You know you can ask." She nodded and looked back down at her book. Then she looked back up at him and asked, "Exactly how close to failing am I?"
"You don't need to worry because you aren't going to," and then he turned his attention back to the book in front of them.
It was a couple of hours later when Joyce returned to the dining room to find Buffy and Angel exactly where she'd left them. Moments before, though, Angel had had his arm draped along the back of Buffy's chair. Every now and then while taking her through the history he was so familiar with, he'd idly touch her shoulder or trace invisible designs along her arm. She'd been so lost in the feel of his touch that often he'd have to remind her to pay attention.
When he suddenly withdrew his arm completely, she knew their night had come to an end. A minute later, her mother stepped into the doorway and announced it was getting late.
Buffy walked him to the door and played up the casual factor until her mom disappeared up the stairs to her room. She stepped out onto the front porch with him where she knew her mother couldn't hear.
"I had a good time tonight," Angel said with a smile.
Buffy folded her arms across her chest and said, "Sure. A dinner you couldn't eat followed by a walk down memory lane."
"I'm serious," he said. "I really wanted to meet your mom. And it doesn't matter to me how we spend our time together."
"Well, this wasn't exactly how I'd planned to spend the evening."
"It wasn't all bad," he said with a grin. As if they held a secret. Buffy smiled back thinking of how they'd stolen a few kisses at the table. Held hands. Shared a touch. "All that Civil War talk really took me back."
He slighted a smile at her and she rolled her eyes. Lightly, she smacked him on the arm and said, "Very funny."
Angel laughed a moment and then all too fast sobered and said, "No patrol tonight?"
"Giles suggested staying out of the way for the evening. He wasn't sure what to expect."
"So, he went to investigate."
"He wouldn't tell me. Said he was 'looking into it.' That could mean anything."
"I hate to say not to worry but…at least not tonight."
"Not until tomorrow."
Angel placed both hands on Buffy's shoulders and said, "Hey. We'll get this thing. Even if I have to do it myself." She nodded seeming satisfied enough for the time being. He hugged her to his chest. "I won't let anything happen to you."
"I know," she whispered.
He kissed the top of her head and lingered smelling her hair. It still smelled like flowers. The smell had haunted him all day while he had tried to sleep. It lingered on the pillow she'd slept on. "Are you going to be okay?"
She nodded as he pulled away and she said, "Will I see you…later?"
He looked up toward the second story and her bedroom window. "Is that wise?"
"She won't know a thing. Her room is at the end of the hall."
"Don't tell me you don't feel it. Just standing here. That you don't want it as bad as I do."
He closed his eyes as if he was in pain and said, "Buffy, don't…I…"
"You're my weakness. I can't resist you."
"Then don't. Stay with me tonight."
He opened his eyes and looked into her pleading gaze. "I'll see you in a bit."
She smiled then stood up on her tip-toes to give him a kiss. Without another word, she slipped into the house and shut the door.
Angel backed off the porch not letting the house out of his sight. He knew this was a bad idea, but he didn't see any other way. He couldn't be without her. Not after spending one night with her. How would it all work in the future? He didn't know. All he knew is he needed to be with her tonight.
He took a quick look around. Up and down the street. No one was around. Despite his being able to sense a presence, he liked to be thorough. One last check and then with little effort, he leaped onto the roof. Landing next to the dormer that was Buffy's bedroom window.
Being a vampire, he could not enter a house without first being invited. Buffy had already extended that invitation long ago, but he refused to abuse it. On occasion, he would wait in her bedroom for her, but if she was home, he waited. Just like tonight. He crouched by her window where the shades were pulled and waited for her to invite him inside.
A few seconds later, the shades were pulled aside and the window slid open. Buffy poked her head out to where she knew he'd be and said, "Come in."
Angel climbed into her bedroom and suddenly felt very uncomfortable in a room he'd spent, already, a lot of time in. He looked to Buffy who wore the usual silky pink pajamas. His eyes seemed to drift by themselves down to her bare legs - from the hem of her pajama shorts all the way to her feet and back. He swallowed hard. It wasn't like he'd never seen her this way before. Now it meant something different…after having made love the night before. He'd seen all of her and now he couldn't seem to get enough of that.
He was so lost in thought that he didn't even realize Buffy was helping him off with his jacket until she had it in her arms. "Are you okay?"
Snapping out of it, he looked back at her face that was now covered in worry and confusion. "Yeah," and he smiled to reassure her. "Are you sure this is a good idea? You're mom…"
"She's at the other end of the hall. She won't know anything. You've stayed here late before."
"I know, but we've never…"
"She has a real thing about privacy. She'd knock first. Or…wouldn't you sense she was near?"
He hoped that was true. He'd never actually tested that particular vampire ability in this kind of situation. "I suppose."
"Don't worry," she said laying his jacket on a nearby chair. "All that matters is we're together. Right?"
He took a long look at Buffy. Her blonde hair hung loose around her shoulders. Her face was scrubbed clean of make up. She looked unbelievably beautiful. Now, though, she looked to be assessing him. Concerned…and he was quick to rectify that. "You think I don't want to be with you?"
She shrugged and turned way from him. In one stride he was right behind her and he turned her to face him again. "Nothing could be further from the truth, Buffy. I want to be with you. I want you so bad sometimes I think it will destroy me. I'm only afraid for you. What this will all do to you."
"Don't worry about me," she began.
"But I do. I love you. I couldn't stand it if anything we did put you in any kind of danger."
"What kind of danger?"
"Buffy, just me being who I am puts you in danger. Don't you realize that?"
She was silent as she looked down at the floor considering this. Then she looked back at him with conviction in her eyes and said, "And I don't care. Because I love you. And I'd do anything to be with you, to protect you, to stand by you. And I will, Angel. I can't imagine my life without you." Her voice broke on the word "without" and she looked down at his chest.
"Buffy," he said to get her attention. She didn't look up, so he tilted her chin up to meet his eyes. "I've never felt this way before, so I don't know what to expect. It terrifies me that I don't know because you could get hurt. I'd die a second death if anything happened to you." He tenderly cupped her cheek and she leaned into him. Closing her eyes to focus only on his touch. "I don't want to be without you, but I'd rather you were safe."
She opened her eyes and looked up at him. His hand still against her cheek. "I love you," she whispered. "Can't that be enough? For now?"
Angel looked down at her. His Buffy. The only girl he'd ever loved. Yes, she was still a girl, but her soul seemed almost as old as his. He didn't even want to try to live without her. He carefully gathered her in his arms and held her close to him. Laying his head against the top of her head. Buffy wrapped her arms around him and held tight as if she thought she'd lose him if she didn't. That just made him hold onto her even tighter. "For now," he whispered.
It was around 2 am and Angel had yet to fall asleep. Buffy was lying against him asleep. He'd been listening to her breathing for the last couple of hours just enjoying the deep, rhythmic sound. He'd also been keeping tabs on her mother listening for any change in her breathing that would signal a midnight check-in.
Although the possibilities of the future never strayed far from his mind, all he could think of now was what he and Buffy had just shared. Was it possible it only got better each time? He couldn't help but smile at that. And feel elated because for the first time since he'd become a vampire, he felt warmth in the place where his heart had once beat. It was still silent, but when he was with Buffy this way, he swore he could almost feel it wanting to beat.
It had been another unforgettable evening. They'd made love twice that night. The first time had been frenzied and emotional. While the second they'd taken their time. Then it hadn't been long before Buffy had fallen into an apparent deep sleep. Now all he could think about was how perfect they were together. In every way.
"What are you thinking about," Buffy asked sleepily.
He looked down to where her head was resting against his shoulder and smiled. "What do you think?"
"Hmmm," she murmured and pulled herself closer to him resting her forehead against his neck. "I was having a dream."
"You," she said smiling at the memory. "Well, us."
He smiled and ran his fingers through her hair. "It was a good dream?"
"Very good, but I like the real thing."
Angel snaked his arm around her waist and rested his hand on her hip. "So do I."
The room became quiet again. When Buffy spoke, she was serious, "Angel?"
"What we were talking about before…" She paused to consider her question. "Did you mean what you said?"
"All of it. But, mostly, that you would leave?"
Angel sighed and leaned his head back on the pillow. He knew she'd ask this at some point. He should have known of all the things he'd said, that would be what she'd focus on. "If it was a matter of life and death for you, yes I would. But, Buffy, I also said nothing is in jeopardy now. I love you so much it hurts to even think that one day I might have to leave. For now, our love is enough."
Buffy wrapped an arm across his chest and squeezed. Her head bent down to rest against his chest. He felt a tear hit his cold skin and he fought against his own emotion. "I love you, Angel," she whispered.
"I love you," and he kissed the top of her head.
"If you have to…," she trailed off unable to say it. "You'll tell me first?"
"Of course." He cradled her head against his chest and said, "Regardless of what happens in the future, Buffy, you will always be my girl."
Buffy closed her eyes and was able to drift back to sleep with Angel's promise drifting through her mind…
Always my girl.