Author's Notes: Set in an alternate Season 5 of Angel. All you need to know is: Angel's soul is permanent, and Buffy is living at Wolfram & Hart with him.
Originally written based on the prompt: "It's your birthday!" We all know about Buffy's birthdays...

Characters: Buffy; Angel
Pairing: Buffy/Angel
Wordcount: 1,706
Status: One-shot; complete

Please tell me what you think! Enjoy!

Buffy was awake. She didn't want to be, but she was. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed she could go back to sleep. That she could sleep for the next -- well, 24 hours would be great.

A moment later, her eyes snapped open as the room was bathed in light. She jerked up in bed to find that Angel had opened the blinds and was standing in front of the vampire-proofed window of their suite. "What are you doing?!" Buffy cried in shock.

Angel glanced over his shoulder, and when he saw her sitting up, turned to smile at her. "Good morning!" His cheerful demeanor rapidly turned to confusion when Buffy bolted out of bed and, wearing nothing but her underwear, darted over to the blinds control and snapped them shut, cloaking the room in twilight again. "Buffy...?" he trailed off as she turned to glare at him.

"Are you insane?!" she screeched. "Do you know what today is?!"

Angel still looked confused; he knew the answer, or at least thought he knew what she was talking about, but her behavior was completely throwing him. "It's... your birthday."

"Exactly!" Buffy cried emphatically. When she saw Angel still looked confused, she threw up her hands. "My birthday," she began explaining in a deceptively calm voice, "has a curse on it. If something bad can happen, or if something can go wrong, it. will."

"So I can't open the curtains?" Angel asked skeptically. Buffy puckered her lips and gave him a severe look. Angel held up his hands and shrugged his shoulders defensively. "Hey! I get it! You don't like your birthday--"

"Don't like?" Buffy's voice was incredulous. "Don't like?" She started to stalk toward him. Angel actually found himself backing away from her, his deep-seated sense of self-preservation kicking in. "Do you know what's happened on my birthday in the last decade? Where should I begin? How about the time we all got stuck in my house with a crazy demon because of a wish. Or the time my sister almost killed herself because she found out she wasn't real? Or, what about when I almost killed Giles 'cause Ethan turned him into a demon? Or the time I was almost killed by a psychotic vampire because the Watcher's Council was keen on taking my powers and making me a helpless little girl? Oh, I know! What about the time I lost my virginity and my boyfriend turned into a homicidal, sociopathic maniac!!"

Angel kept his face completely impassive. He'd known about the Cruciamentium, and since he'd been the boyfriend, he knew about her 17th birthday. He hadn't realized the theme had continued on subsequent birthdays, though. He'd let Buffy yell and vent her frustration, and once she'd calmed down a little, they'd talk about it. It wasn't the first time she'd gotten worked up over something, although it might be the most worked up he'd seen her in quite some time.

Buffy shook her head agitatedly. "Oh, but I know which one is my personal favorite. The first one, my sixteenth birthday." She smiled, but it was dark and angry and nothing more than a baring of teeth. "I'd just been Called a couple weeks before, and I was stupid enough to tell my parents what was happening. You know what they did for my birthday?" Angel remained quiet, simply watching her, which upset her. She tried to hold on to her anger, but could already feel the hot sting of tears behind her eyes. "They locked me in a mental hospital. They thought I was delusional. I don't--" She shook her head angrily as her voice cracked with tears, which started flowing soon after. "I don't know--"

She tried to ward Angel off as he stepped toward her, but he just pushed her hands aside and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. After a few token shoves against him, Buffy grabbed his shirt and clung to him. She buried her face against his neck and inhaled his unique scent, trying to calm down. Angel started making shushing noises, stroking her hair and back and rubbing his cheek over the top of her head.

Buffy's voice came soft and slightly muffled, her breath hitting Angel's neck in hot puffs with each word. "I don't know what could happen today. But I want you to be careful. I don't want you using those windows, today, okay?"

Angel's movements paused at her unusual request. "What?" he asked softly. Buffy pressed herself more tightly against him, her nose brushing his throat. "They seem great," she murmured, "and any other day, I'd say stand there as long as you want and bask. But... today is bad, and we really don't know anything about that glass. What if it can be switched off, or what if it breaks, o-or something else that I haven't even thought of-- and you suddenly aren't protected, and--"

"Shh, shh," Angel soothed, rubbing her back once more. He kissed the top of her head, to help soothe himself as well as Buffy. "I won't open the blinds today. I promise."

"I don't want you bursting into flames," Buffy mumbled. "Losing you..." her voice cracked again as fresh tears began to flow. "It was so hard the first time. But I got you back." She rubbed her hand over his chest reassuringly. "I got you back. But I don't think even Willow can fix it if you go 'poof'."

Angel sighed softly. "No, probably not. Come here. Com'ere," he coaxed, pulling her with him as he walked around the bed. He sat down on his side, away from the windows, and drew her down beside him. He reached for the phone and dialed an inside line.

He still had one arm wrapped around Buffy's shoulders, and he began rubbing her arm soothingly. "Wesley? Yeah, it's me. Listen... I'm not gonna be available today." He barely glanced at Buffy when she sat up straight to stare at him. "No, well, not really come up as... I'm taking a personal day, that's all. I'm gonna call Harmony, tell her to reschedule as much as she can, but a few things she probably won't be able to. D'you think you and the others can handle that stuff? ...Yeah," he said softly, turning his eyes toward Buffy, "it's important. I'll explain later, but... Yeah? Okay, thank you. Thanks a lot, Wes. Yeah, see ya later." He hung up the phone, but didn't get much farther than that, because Buffy had her arms wrapped around his neck and began kissing him. "I love you, so much," she gasped when she finally pulled away. "Thank you."

Angel gave a slow blink as his mind turned back on after the kiss. He shook his head and gave a small lopsided smile. "Well, it was either this, or have you following me around everywhere all day, and I figured you'd rather stay in bed." He'd tried making it a joke, but knew he hadn't succeeded when Buffy glanced down and ducked her head, so he couldn't see her eyes. "Hey," he said softly, "it's not a big deal, Buffy. I mean, it is, but, I'm happy to do it if it makes you feel better."

Buffy shook her head. "No. I know I'm seriously wigged, and... just... thank you for, for taking this seriously." She looked back up at him, and Angel was relieved to see that she was much calmer than she had been... well, since waking up this morning. "You could have just told me everything would be fine and not to worry, and probably gotten me to agree to leave you alone. But you didn't, you took me seriously, and..." she looked down again. "That means a lot," she finally whispered.

Angel took a deep breath. "I hadn't realized that was an option, actually." He made sure he was smiling when Buffy looked back up. "I'm teasing." He kissed the tip of her nose. "I meant it, that I'm happy to do it if it makes you feel better. I--" it was his turn to look away for a brief moment. "I couldn't do anything after-- for your other birthdays," he amended himself, deciding not to bring up the one he felt directly responsible for. "But I can help you with this one. I know your birthday freaks you out, and for good reason, better than I knew, actually." He cupped her cheek. "I just wanna see you happy."

Buffy smiled, and covered his hand with her own. "You're doin' a good job." Her smile turned mischievous. "If you wanna make me really happy," she leaned over until her body was pressed against Angel as much as possible, stretched her neck and whispered in his ear, "you'd get out of those clothes and get back in bed."

Angel swallowed convulsively. It didn't matter how long they'd been together, Buffy could always affect him. "I-I- gotta call Harmony, first," he stuttered.

Buffy nodded in understanding. "Absolutely." She scooted over to her side of the bed and climbed under the covers. "We don't want her storming up here, wondering why you're not in your office, and interrupting us." She wiggled around to get comfortable. "But you better make it fast," she advised. She withdrew one arm from the covers, revealing her bra and panties dangling from her fingers. She smiled again. "Don't wanna keep the birthday girl waiting."

Angel nearly ripped the cord off the phone in his haste, and he was pretty sure Harmony didn't understand half of what he said, but he figured Wesley would talk to her anyway, so he didn't worry about it. He undid the top two buttons of his shirt, then yanked it over his head. He pushed his pants down and nearly fell face-first onto the bed when he tried to step out of them and realized his shoes were still on.

Buffy was laughing at him. "A little eager, are we?" Not that she couldn't see just how eager he was. Her eyes widened as Angel finally disentangled himself and dove into bed with her. She shrieked with laughter as he tackled her.

It turned out to be the best birthday she'd had so far.