Junior year

Beginning

The first is a yellow rose during patrol.

"In the eighteen-When courting was supervised, people often used to exchange flowers, each having a different meaning, as hidden messages."

"What do these mean?"

"Look it up yourself." He pulls out a crumbling booklet: "The Mysterious Language of Flowers" by Hortensia Smith-Jones (Mrs.). She flips to 'roses, yellow' and smiles.

"Jealousy?"

His shoulders hunch sheepishly. "They're painted with glycerin so they'll last and if I get jealous..."

She touches his hand shyly.

"Let's hope you won't be seeing much of the roses."

He finally meets her eyes. "There are other kinds."

Dating

He shows up unexpectedly again, twice in one night. They patrol silently before he speaks.

"About coffee..."

She grins at him. "Didn't pushiness exist in the olden days?"

He looks like he would blush if he could. "I can't seem to get the pace right, can I?"

She twines their hands in answer. As they reach the gate, he bends to where the groundskeeper tried to spruce things up with flowers. He picks one and hands it to her.

"Daffodil?"

He nods.

"Uncertainty?"

"You've been studying."

She can blush. "Yeah."

He takes pity on her. "So, coffee soon?"

"Absolutely."

Admiring

The last time he slept in this room, it was on the floor. This time he is on the bed, although not under the covers. He is gone when she wakes up. She is disappointed until she sees a new flower on her beside table, one she doesn't recognize, blue-violet with layered petals. The note underneath identifies it as fennel.

It means strength, the note continues. You have so much of it, so many kinds, and you should treasure it. I do.

It is signed simply Angel, but it makes her feel loved. She goes to school on All Saints Day smiling.

Defending

She visits Ford's grave, pretending to patrol. Surprisingly, there's a small bouquet beside the one she left. She recognizes carnations-white ones-and knows who left them. They're not mourning flowers. She needs to see Angel.

His apartment is dark but he answers her knock.

"What were you telling him?"

His face is blank. "He betrayed you. They mean disdain."

"He's dead! Couldn't you leave him alone?"

He pulls a flower from the middle that doesn't fit: a dark pink rose. "This means gratitude." He looks at her seriously. "He made you happy for a while and I thank him for that."

Soothing

He sees her painted-on smile. "What happened?"

"Nothing. Brought you these." She hands him white mulberry flowers.

"Wisdom?" He examines her, not the plants.

"You were right about loneliness." She moves away, searching for a vase.

"Did Ted do something?"

The vase drops. "I've gotta go. Enjoy the flowers."

Much later, she finds a red carnation on her bed.

"My heart aches for you." I'm sorry you needed to do that.

His trust in her goodness takes her breath.

The next time she sees him, all she says is, "No more climbing while you're hurt." They don't mention it again.

Disappointing

She wakes up expecting flowers, maybe a white rose.

Well, she thinks, eyes still closed, that's not exactly appropriate anymore.

Well, maybe red- true love. Or a combination of the two, for unity.

She rolls over and sees an empty pillow. She scans the bed again because he's so romantic, he would never leave without at least a note, but there is nothing and the apartment is silent. Finally she wraps herself in his blanket and rises, revealing a rose of blood blooming accusingly on the sheet. She turns away, trying to pretend that today is as perfect as last night.

Stalking

The roses were not Angelus's first message. She climbs through her window one night and finds the frame decorated with flowers. She rips them down, shuddering. She takes them to the bathroom and flushes them down the toilet. She hopes he's watching.

The note is on her bed when she gets back.

That wasn't very polite, especially since I picked them out just for you: Baby's breath for innocence, mallow (that's the purplish one, honey) to show I'm consumed by love and lime blossom for fornication. I love that word. Sounds so dirty. Call if you need some loving, babe.

Strategic library books are missing. "The Name of the Rose," "Age of Innocence." One about virgin sacrifices is returned. Won't be needing this anymore.

She knows that things are getting worse when she wakes up with a pale pink rose between her breasts and picture of Willow dead in Angel's bed beside her head. She would be so sweet, curls across the bottom.

She opens her locker and rose petals explode out. The girl beside her looks over jealously. "You must have the greatest boyfriend."

Buffy stares at her for a minute before gathering the petals. "Yeah. I did."

Senior year

Returning

Mentions of Giles leave them with nothing to say.

"I should go," she hedges, unsure whether she wants him to ask her to stay or to let her go so she doesn't have to face him.

"Alright," he responds, just waiting.

As she walks to the door, she spots daisies mixed with purple bunches of heliotrope. She turns to question him, but he has already left the room.

Faith and devotion, her manual tells her when she looks them up. Her stomach clenches as she remembers when the flowers were romantic and subtle, not their only way to communicate.

Hoping

He drives to a specialty florist for the cherry blossoms. The extensive store in Sunnydale hasn't failed him before, but these are rare. They're for good education, something he wants for her. He also gets amaranth, spiky, magenta flowers usually used for dyeing, but meaning eternal love. He'll love her no matter where she goes to college. He just wants the best for her.

He ties the flowers with twine, preparing for when she comes. He hears her at the door and picks up a book, pretending to read. He wants tonight to be the night they start talking again.

Staying

She gets home after midnight. As she hangs up her coat, a flower falls from the pocket: a twig of bi-layered lavender flowers. He must have picked it up when they stopped in the grocery store for cocoa.

(She tosses marshmallows to him over the aisle divider, loving hearing his laugh for the first time in forever.)

She twirls the branch in her fingers as she walks upstairs. She pages through her guide, matching up pictures to flowers. They're Canterbury bells and they mean gratitude. She sleeps with them in her hand to assure herself that he's thankful for his life.

Fearing

For the first time, she doesn't want flowers. She's afraid that they'll be carnations- yellow one that mean disappointment.

She slinks to the mansion, forces herself to think only of helping Faith. She paces outside, letting Faiths brash voice and Angel's soft one bury her. They are talking about murder and she wishes this weren't mundane.

Once upon a time, it was easy to forget that Angel had experience with killing. But since last year...

As she listens, a new fear rises in her: that he will give her elderflowers, for kinship. She doesn't want to be part of their club.

Adoring

They sit silently before she speaks. "You once said you admired my strength."

He nods. "And last night I said I love you without it."

He fetches something from the table and settles it between her hands. "Red daisy. 'Qualities unknown to the possessor.' You inspire loyalty from everyone, even if you don't notice. Like Giles. He turned his back on everything he's ever known for you. That's not from being the Slayer, Buffy. It's you."

She wants to kiss him, but is afraid of what could happen. Instead she lets the flower warm her, a symbol of his love.

Sharing

He's waiting in her room when she returns from school. She collapses onto the bed. "The day is saved. Hail the Slayer." She stares at the ceiling. "Angel?"

"Mmmm?"

"If I asked you something about yourself, would you really answer?"

He looks a little hurt. "Of course."

"Okay." She searches for something non-intrusive. "What's your favorite flower?"

He considers. "I guess sunflowers."

"Why?"

"I'm not sure."

"I thought they'd have special meaning."

He ponders. "I just think they're cheerful."

"Okay." She resumes staring. "Angel?"

"Mmmm?"

"Where were you born?"

He gifts her with a smile. "Galway, Ireland. My name was Liam."

Deserting

The flower in his buttonhole is a lily, just the standard flower they give out free at the tux store. She wishes it were lavender or forget-me-not, something that means devotion and always and forever love, that he's not leaving and she'll wake up with him tomorrow.

She tries to calm herself, looking at the corsages elasticed around her classmates' wrists and thinking of how many flowers she's gotten and with how much more depth and love they were given.

She doesn't feel better.

She says she understands, and she tries, but she's eighteen, it's prom night and he's leaving.

Breaking

She enters her room to an explosion of flowers on her bed: red chrysanthemums (love), hibiscus (beauty), stars of Bethlehem (hope), peach blossoms (longevity).

She is blinded with rage. He takes her virginity, nearly destroys the world, breaks up with her right before prom and he's wishing her a long life?!

She storms to the kitchen, takes her mom's biggest cleaver and chops, starting from the stems. She's about to get to the buds when she stops.

It hits her then that he's really gone, that he might never give her another flower. Tears hold her under.

College

Uplifting

She checks for Riley in her room and finds a flower there.

She should have known that she lied about not loving Angel when she never considered that it could have been from her boyfriend. It's a sunflower, meaning pure and lofty thoughts. For the first time, the meaning doesn't fit.

She takes the book- even more ancient than when she first got it- out of the closet. (She had silently hoped she would still need it.) A note falls out.

You looked like you needed some cheering up.

It works. She smiles. Even without her friends, Adam had better watch out.

Life

Saving

The flowers are on her bed when she returns, still out of breath from chasing Riley. They're anemones, palest pink, nearly white. She's not sure what the color means, but the flowers symbolize being sick or forsaken. There's a note stashed hastily in the middle. Help me.

She's almost gone when she sees the sink full of dirty dishes and the pill bottles on the counter, hears Dawn tossing wildly.

She takes her jacket off and starts the dishes. Balancing the phone on her shoulder, she dials 1-800-FLOWERS. She hopes he can hold off whatever he's fighting until she can help.

Comforting

They sit far longer than they should. Walking back to the mansion, she tucks her hand into his jacket pocket, and feels the waxiness of petals. It's a marigold, an unlikely mourning flower,.

"Were you going to give me this?"

"Sometimes flowers can't say everything."

When they arrive, all she can think of is her mother, freezing in the ground.

"Will I ever wake up and suddenly not hurt anymore, Angel?"

He kisses her forehead. "No, sweetheart. It comes in pieces. But I promise, one day it won't hurt so much."

Maybe he's right, but it doesn't make it better.

Death

Mourning

He digs the holes himself, holding himself back from digging up her body. He knows it's insane: she's dead and the fact that he loves her doesn't make her any less so.

The moon is rising as he drops the second bush into its hole. Its light shows the profusion of cigarette butts surrounding the grave. Spike. He's glad that someone is watching other than the gorse bushes he has planted to stand vigil in all seasons.

He stands and turns. He cannot bring himself to say goodbye.

There's just enough time to board a freighter before the sun rises.

Life

Hurting

"I was afraid," she admits from his lap. "I thought you'd be happy I was back."

"Too happy?"

"Just happy. Like at home. They're happy that they stole my gift."

"I won't pretend that I haven't wanted you back since you...left. But you're hurting. This," he closes his hand around the one of hers that holds a white rose, "means that I love you and will always hurt for you."

He fears how she looks at the cliff edge nearby: like it's her salvation."If it gets to be too much, call."

She promises, but he doesn't let go until dawn.

Celebrating

He calls her first, explaining about law firms and sires, hunters and sons.

"He's the best thing I've ever done," he grins. She congratulates him quickly, hangs up and goes to find Spike.

An envelope turns up a few weeks later containing a picture labeled Connor, February 2002. She melts with her first glimpse of Angel's baby.

Buffy-

I realize that I was insensitive. How would I feel if you had a child with Spike?

I'll apologize for breaking it to you so abruptly, but not for loving my son. You made me seek redemption, but being a part of something so perfect tells me I have succeeded.

Surrendering

The next call couldn't be more different.

"Connor is gone," he says, crying. It shakes her. Angel is usually the strong one.

"If you gave me flowers right now, what would they be?" She demands, hating that she is hoping for something that means anger or loss.

"Love lies bleeding," he whispers eventually.

Hopelessness.

She is terrified.

"You have to keep fighting, Angel. Promise me."

Silence.

"We never give up. Remember the snow?"

"You're right. I can't just stay here, grieving. I have to open the portal."

"You don't know what's in there!"

"I know my son is in there," he hisses and hangs up.

Winning

She felt Angel slip something into her pocket earlier, but she doesn't see it until she's bantering with the First. It's using her form as it jabbers, which is amazingly creepy. In the meantime, she looks down at yellow poppy Angel gave her, for success.

She thinks of Angel and Spike, champions although they know how much easier evil is. For a long time she fought the Big Bads only because she was supposed to. But it suddenly occurs to her how strong their side is. Good has changed the people who fight with her and they're gonna win.

Losing

They find everyone, including Spike (in the form of a torn duster), before they find Angel.

Even when Faith thinks to look in the Hyperion, they do not find him immediately. They finally see him, curled in a corner of the jasmine-scented courtyard. He is quiet and still. Some trinkets sit next to him: a scarf with Cordelia's initials, a pair of glasses, a physics book.

"Angel," Buffy says quietly. He ignores her.

She and Faith drag him inside and into bed. They sleep in chairs, soundly enough that they don't hear him sneak out. He leaves behind only a note

Thank you.

Acquiescing

His flowers- yellow olive blossoms together with bells of Ireland- stick out among the regular bouquets the gang sent.

It's been five years since she saw him in LA. She gets reports of bands of demon killers being formed all over the world, and it reassures her that he's still alive. She's still not surprised that he heard of her engagement.

The bells are for luck, the olive is for peace. Congratulations. Be happy, Buffy.

Hidden in the back is one oxeye daisy. Technically, it means patience. She knows he means he's waiting. She decides that it's lucky he doesn't age.

Future

Loving

She and Willow stayed up til 3 AM, giggling and removing petals from the millions of flowers they ordered until a multicolored snowdrift covered the living room.

Now the petals cover the church and walking over them is like a summary of her life. She made sure to get every flower he's ever gotten her, a reminder. She hasn't gotten any new ones in a long time. They talk now, no intermediaries.

Or they usually do.

Arriving beside him, she crushes rosemary into his hand.

"For remembrance," she quotes.

He smiles and gives her an iris. "Hope for the future."

They kiss before the priest directs them.

Ending

Written for the wonder-fabulous IWRY ficathon '09. Thanks to Beanut, beta extraordinaire and Kairos, cheerleader and present giver. Title comes from this quote: "Flowers are love's truest language."- Park Benjamin Flower meanings mostly taken from wikipedia.