Sandwiches, Angel had decided long ago, were the world's best invention, immediately followed by prepackaged portions of chips, pretzels and cookies. When he had been fighting demons, vampires, ghosts, evil lawyers and other assorted hell beasts, he never would have expected that food products would be his salvation, especially food products with ingredients he often couldn't pronounce.
Then again, when he had been battling said hell beasts as well his own demons, he often hadn't believed he would live to eat food. There had been times when he had had sunk so low that he truly thought he was going to die, that he would be unable to get up in the morning or when he was convinced that if he just didn't move quickly enough in a battle, he could simply end everything. He would like to say that now this is unimaginable to him, that he is always so happy that he can't even remember thinking or feeling that hopeless. He is truly happy most of the time and so busy that he doesn't really have time to remember the old times- the good ones or the bad ones- but sometimes in the silent darkness of the night when he can't sleep, he can feel that old dread in his bones. He gets suddenly nervous that this is just one of those brief pauses in the fighting (he remembers going to Cordelia's plays, watching movies at the Hyperion, times when there was only the occasional case to keep them occupied and in shape) and that there will be a new challenge for him to face. He is terrified that he will be facing it alone. In these moments, twenty years of breathing (again) are forgotten and the room grows tiny and squeezed before his eyes. And then his wife rolls over beside him, her toes brushing his shin as she settles into a more comfortable position and everything moves back into focus. He breathes slowly and carefully, thinking about the things that make him sure that God exists, that the Powers will keep their promise of a thousand years of peace: the sunrise he saw the other morning, swimming in the pool they have in the backyard, sweating when he goes on his morning jog, the gray hairs he found, eating hamburgers at the Fourth of July barbecue, the laughter of his children. Simple things that make him feel grateful, that make him feel calm and safe and forget the things he's seen and done and felt.
The other thing that comforts him is coming out of the bedroom of their youngest son.
"Hey," she says simply. In the eating-bathing-going to bed chaos of the past few hours, her hair has come out of the simple ponytail she put it up in, her makeup was left behind with the bath and she looks worn out. Still, she takes a moment to wrap her arms around him from behind, laying her cheek on his back. He takes a truly deep breath, his fists clenching and unclenching around the knife he holds. She picks her head up so her chin is pressing against his back. "What's wrong?"
He shakes his head. "Nothing."
She knows he's lying, but they celebrated their nineteenth anniversary last June and she also knows that he needs to keep this to himself at least for a while and that he will share with her when he is ready. Instead she gestures to the sandwiches he has made.
"Yeah." He moves, putting the knife into the dishwasher, closing the jar of strawberry jelly. Buffy comes around to stand beside him at the counter. She picks up the jar of peanut butter.
"What was the peanut butter for?"
"Peanut butter and jelly for Alyssa," he tells her, taking the two jars and going to put them in the fridge.
"Uh uh." She shakes her head at him. "Apparently Karen Marcus has ruled that PB&J is no longer cool for seventh graders."
He rolls his eyes, reaching for the can opener and going to the cabinet for a can of tuna. "That girl must have some demon blood in her. She can't be that evil and be pure human." He freezes with his right hand on the handle to the cabinet, remembering how pure humans can sometimes be worse than anything.
Buffy touches his wrist. "Angel," she starts. He looks at her, taking comfort in the same eyes that saved him twenty-eight years ago. She nods a little at whatever she sees in his gaze. "Give me that," she says. "You always put in too much mayonnaise."
"Okay," he agrees and goes to cut carrot sticks.
A/N: Written over at LJ for the prompt B/A, peanut butter. Decided not to go with the obvious IWRY tie-in.