A/N: Oh wow! I can't believe I finally made it here! Last chapter!
So of course, this is going to be a ridiculously long author's note, but it's the last chapter, so here goes…
Writing this story has been quite the journey for me, two years in the making, and it's been a great ride! I've often wondered to myself if I'd ever get to this moment, if I would ever get to the point where I could say this story was finished. And finally, it's here!
I want to take a moment to thank all of my readers. I'm not going to mention names here, because I'm sure I'll accidentally leave someone out, but just know that I'm extremely flattered by all of the reviews, alerts, favorites, etc. I truly did not expect the amount of reviews I received on this story. In fact, I was really nervous about posting, this being my first foray into the Buffy fandom and all, so the feedback I've received for this story has really been amazing! And as much as you have enjoyed reading this story, I have enjoyed writing it! :)
One more thing before I end this incredibly long author's note…this may be the final chapter of this story, but it's not the end of my Buffy/Angel stories. I do have a few more stories in the works, including a sequel of sorts to this story. I don't, however, have any plans to write any more insanely long 71-chapter fics for quite a while though, lol. I need a serious writing break.
If you want to know when I post the sequel to this, put this story on your story alert list and I'll update it with a sequel alert. (I've seen other authors do this and I think it's a good idea!) You could also put me on your author alert list, and you'll get an email whenever I post something new. :) Or just keep checking back here at FFNET. You'll be seeing more of me soon! (After I take a much needed writing break, that is!)
So until then…here is the last chapter. Enjoy it!
Three Days Later…
Buffy's head rested on Angel's chest, listening to the sound of his heartbeat. She reached for his hand, intertwining her fingers with his, and smiled.
"Tell me something," she said, breaking the comfortable silence which had settled upon them. "What we just did? Is it better as a human or a vampire?" Buffy looked at Angel, meeting his gaze.
Angel suddenly rolled over, his face inches from her. "I like feeling like my heart is about to explode out of my chest when I'm with you. It makes me feel so alive."
Buffy smiled. "You are."
"And I like how sometimes, it feels like your heart and mine are beating in time to each other."
"Yeah, that's a good feeling."
"I like how warm my skin feels, and how it feels when against yours." He pressed his lips against hers and kissed her while moving his hands down her body. "I have an idea." He gave her a smile and suddenly got out of bed.
"What are you—oh!"
Angel had picked her up and was heading to the bathroom.
"I think we should conserve water," Angel said. "Especially since I need it to live now."
He marched into the shower and placed Buffy down. Reaching for the tap, he turned the hot water on.
Angel stepped inside, wrapping his arms around her as the hot water fell onto their shoulders, soaking both of them.
"I think conserving water is a very good idea," Buffy said before kissing him.
Other than the occasional vending machine-run or saying hello to Jin Li, the Chinese takeout deliver guy, Faith hadn't seen the outside of her motel room in three days.
She had, however, seen every inch of Spike's body.
Faith stared at the ceiling, gasping for breath. "Wow. I think that's like…the best sex I've ever had in my life."
Spike propped his head up on his elbow and gazed at the woman beside him, amused. "Best ever? I thought you said you couldn't remember."
"I don't. But what we just did?" Faith gave him a wicked grin. "I think that's pretty hard to top."
"Oh I'm just warming up, luv," Spike said, and rolled over to her side of the bed.
"Vampires have a lot of stamina. You should know that by now."
"I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I need a break!" Faith sat up, threw the sheet off her, and headed to the bathroom.
"Did I wear you out, luv?"
Faith grinned at him wickedly before closing the bathroom door behind her.
Spike rolled back to his side of the bed and lay on his back, his arms behind his head. A few seconds later, he heard the sound of the shower running, and briefly entertained the idea of joining her.
It was at that moment when Spike realized the truth of the situation: He was falling in love with her.
Spike had to laugh to himself. Of all the people to fall in love with…a slayer! And that wasn't even the craziest truth. He didn't want to kill her either. Not that he could, anyway, but even if he didn't have the bloody chip in his head, he couldn't fathom turning Faith into what he was. He liked her just how she was: wild and adventurous. And she played by her own rules, just like himself.
He was going to miss her when she was gone.
The bathroom door opened a few minutes later, and Faith emerged from the steam wearing a towel.
"You're not getting dressed are you?"
"What would be the point in that?" she said with a laugh, throwing the towel on the floor before joining him back in bed. "Your turn to be on top, Stallion."
"Let's get out this bloody stink hole."
"Well first of all, it's like ten in the morning, so we're not going anywhere. And second, no offence, but your crypt has no running water. A girl likes running water, you know."
"No, I meant let's get out of Sunnydale. We should run away together."
Faith laughed. "Sure. We'll take a bus to Mexico tonight and live off pig's blood and tequila." She gazed at Spike, but he wasn't laughing. She sat up, wrapping the sheet around her. "Oh my god. You're serious."
"We don't have to stop at Mexico you know. We could see the whole world. South America. Europe. Asia's quite nice too. We could go anywhere you want, luv."
"Spike…I can't leave."
"Sure you can."
"No, I can't. My trial is in a couple of months and if I skip town…you know this thing between us isn't long-term, right?"
"It could be."
"Look, Spike, I like you. You're the only one that's really been there for me through this whole thing. And you're great in the sack too, as you demonstrated over the past three days. But this thing between us can't last. I'm probably going to jail. And from the looks of it, I'll be there for a long time."
Spike leaned closer to her. "Listen, luv, you've got a second chance here. Do you really want to start off your new life behind bars in an orange jumpsuit? Who cares what you did in the past? You can't change it. And unlike me, you won't live forever. If I were you, I'd take life by the horns and live for the day. Come on, run away with me. The vampires and big bads aren't just here in Sunnydale. They're everywhere. And I know how much you love to fight. You're a slayer, and what good is being a slayer if you can't fight?"
"Are the jumpsuits really orange?"
"Afraid so, and it's not really your color."
"And there's no chance of me getting those conjugal visits or whatever in prison, is there?"
The corner of Spike's mouth lifted. "Don't think so, luv."
Faith paused for a moment, considering his idea, then smiled. "Then let's blow this popsicle stand."
"Make it bigger," Anya said as she looked over Willow's shoulder.
Willow clicked on the picture with the mouse and enlarged it. "Like that?"
"How about just a little bigger?"
"If I make the picture any bigger, it's going to take the website longer to load."
Xander peered over the counter and took a look at the computer screen. "Hey, An, why do you have a picture of yourself on the Magic Box's home page?"
"Because I work here, of course," Anya said, as if the answer was obvious.
"I know, but shouldn't you have like, a logo or maybe a picture of the magic shop?"
"Well I am a part of the magic shop," Anya said, growing defensive. "And I'm the most important part of it. I'm the one who takes their money and give them goods in return."
"What are you working on?" Giles asked as he walked over to the group.
Anya turned around and gave Giles a big smile. "Willow's helping me design a website for the Magic Box. Isn't that great?"
"We have a website?" He smiled. "May I see?"
"It's still a work in progress," Willow warned as she moved aside to let Giles take a gander at the screen.
Giles straightened his glasses. "This just seems to be a rather large picture of Anya."
"I know. Because I work here!" Anya continued to grin.
"Where's my picture?"
"Oh, don't worry! You're on there too!" Anya pointed to the bottom of the screen. "You see there? That picture? That's you!"
Giles had to squint his eyes to see it. "Oh right, I suppose that is me."
"I'll keep working on it," Willow said, turning her attention back to the computer.
The bell on the door jingled, and a delivery man walked inside. "Rupert Giles?"
Giles rushed over to the man dressed in brown. "Yes, I'm Rupert Giles."
Giles signed the man's clipboard, then took the box from his hands.
"Have a nice day."
"Yes, you do the same." Giles stared at the box in his hands, feeling as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. "It's here! I can't believe it's finally here!"
"What's here?" Wesley asked as he walked into the shop, passing the delivery man on his way out.
"An ancient Egyptian mummy hand."
Xander threw Willow and Anya a look. "Is Giles serious?"
"Make the picture larger, Willow," Anya said, neither of them paying Xander any mind.
"You procured an ancient Egyptian mummy hand?" Wesley asked Giles, astonished.
"I had to special order it. Would you like to see?"
"Would I?" Wesley grinned from ear to ear, then followed Giles to the storeroom.
"Never a dull moment here at the Magic Box," Xander quipped.
"I'm sorry, did you say something, Xander?" Anya asked.
"I was just—never mind."
The bell on the door jingled again, and Tara walked in. "Hey, guys."
Willow grinned. "Hey, sweetie."
"Hey, Xander, I have something for you." Tara placed a flyer on the counter. "There's an apartment for rent not too far from campus. I thought if that apartment you wanted didn't work out, you might be interested in this one."
Anya gave Xander a confused look. "You didn't tell them yet?"
"Tell us what?" Tara asked.
Xander smiled. "I got the apartment."
"Oh that's great news!" Tara said.
"Xander! That's great! Why didn't you tell us?" Willow asked.
"Well, I wanted to wait until the whole group is here, but whole group is never here anymore, so I'm telling you guys now. You girls want to help me pack up the basement?"
"He can move in as soon as next week!" Anya said. "This is going to be so great. No more parents upstairs fighting. No more folding laundry for Xander's mother. And no more unexpected visits from Uncle Rory! He always tends to interrupt us when we're having sex."
Xander laughed, choosing not to tell Anya that his Uncle Rory mentioned wanting to check out his new place sometime.
"Well since you guys obviously don't need it, Willow, do you want to check it out this afternoon?" Tara handed the flyer to Willow.
"Sure," Willow said as she looked over the flyer. "Oh wait, does it allow pets?"
"Cats are okay. We might not want to mention Amy though."
"And the rent?"
"It's not too bad, especially if we split it two ways. And if we get a third roommate for the second bedroom it'll be even cheaper. Do you think Cordelia might be interested?"
"Maybe. Let's see if she wants to check it out with us."
"So wait, you two are moving out of Casa Summers?" Xander asked, looking from Willow to Tara.
Tara nodded. "Buffy and Angel really need their own place."
"Did they kick you out?" Anya asked.
Tara glanced briefly at Willow. "No, it's just that we haven't been getting much sleep lately. Buffy decided to move into her mother's old bedroom because it's bigger, but unfortunately it's closer to our room."
"And we hear everything," Willow added.
"Plus it has a bigger bed."
"Which they've been using. A lot."
"Not to mention the shower." Tara turned to Willow. "Oh my god, did you hear them this morning?"
"I think everyone in Sunnydale heard them."
Anya looked from Willow to Tara. "Oh, so you mean they've been having a lot of sex?"
Willow nodded. "Yeah. They've pretty much been going at it like bunnies for three days now."
"Thanks for that visual, Will," Xander said sarcastically.
"Yeah, really. Why did you have to bring bunnies into it?" Anya complained.
"Anya, why do bunnies terrify you so badly?" Tara asked out of curiosity.
"I had a traumatic experience with a bunny, and I don't want to talk about it!" With that, Anya left the counter and headed to the back room.
Xander watched as she left the room and couldn't help but smile. "God I love that woman."
Cordelia was on her way to the Magic Box when the building next door caught her eye. Inside, a woman was placing a sign in the window.
A smile came to Cordelia's face as an idea came to her. She peered inside, noting that it appeared to be an empty office space, and a rather large one too. As the woman, probably from the realtor's office, stepped outside and began locking up, Cordelia got her attention. "Excuse me?"
The woman locking the door turned around. "Yes?"
"I couldn't help but notice that 'For Lease' sign you just put in the window."
The woman smiled brightly. "Are you interested?"
"Yeah, maybe. Is there any way I could take a little peek inside?"
"Sure, I don't see why not." The woman unlocked the door and allowed Cordelia to go through. "If you're thinking about opening a small business, this place would be great for just about anything. It has a lot of space as you can see."
A quick glance around was all Cordelia needed to know this place had potential. "Can this place accommodate multiple phone lines and computers?"
"Yes, absolutely. This place used to be some kind of ad agency, and before that, I think it was an insurance office. There's also a storeroom in the back. I can show you."
Cordelia followed the woman to the back where she led her to a huge storage area.
"Wow. This room would be great for storing all of Angel and Wesley's wea—" weapons. She almost said weapons. "Books!" she said instead. "Wesley and Angel have a lot of books."
"Are you and your friends thinking about opening a book store?" the woman asked out of curiosity.
"No. It's a detective agency." Among other things.
"Well, if you're seriously thinking about it, I feel I should warn you. Business on this side of town has been going downhill lately. About the only place that seems to have any kind of success is that magic shop next door. And unfortunately, there's all kinds of questionable characters that hang around that place after hours. Are you sure you're still interested?"
Cordelia smiled. "Actually, I think that's right up our alley. How much is rent?"
There were times when Angel momentarily forgot he was human.
He'd grab his cover blanket before heading out in broad daylight. Simply a force of habit, until he reminded himself that the sunlight wouldn't kill him anymore.
He was still getting used to seeing his reflection in the mirror, for it had been over two hundred years when seeing nothing had been the norm.
During patrol last night, he attempted to put on his vampire face to startle an enemy, only to realize a moment later that his face wasn't changing at all. It wasn't that he missed being a vampire, but old habits were hard to break.
"Are you about ready to go?"
Buffy's voice pulled him away from his thoughts. He turned around, seeing her come down the stairs. She wore some flowery wrap-around skirt with a matching bikini top.
Angel looked her over, feeling his breath catch in his throat. The feeling of his heart accelerating was another reminder. You're human now. "Wow, you look….wow."
Buffy laughed as she sauntered over to him. "It's amazing this power I have."
Angel wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "What?"
"You see a Durslar demon at Haagen-Dazs and you beat it to a bloody pulp and rip its head off in the process, but the sight of me in a bikini and you nearly lose it. Look, you can barely catch your breath. It's amazing this power I have over you."
"Yeah…amazing," he whispered as he leaned down to kiss her lips.
"We're never going to get to the beach if we keep doing this," Buffy said, reluctantly pulling away.
"Let's skip the beach," Angel said, pulling her back. "The ocean's not going anywhere, and we have the house to ourselves."
"No. We're going to have a good time, I promise. Believe it or not, there are actually ways to have fun that involve us keeping our clothes on."
"Alright, if you say so."
"Have you put on sunscreen yet?"
Angel smiled at her. "No, I forgot. Do I really need it?"
Buffy had to laugh. "You? Yeah, you really do. You won't exactly burst into flames, but you will get burned. You'll go from pale to lobster in no time."
Angel picked up the bottle of sunscreen from the coffee table. "How much of this stuff do I put on?" he asked.
Buffy laughed again. "Here, let me. Turn around."
Angel handed her the bottle and turned around.
"This might be cold," she said before rubbing the lotion onto his back. Angel jumped at the touch, making Buffy laugh again. "I warned you."
"I get to do this to you next, right?" he asked.
"Twenty minutes later, the two had finally made it to the beach. Summer was winding down, and fortunately for them, it wasn't too crowded today.
Angel had only seen the ocean in the daylight once; the day he wore the Gem of Amarra. He paused for a moment, taking in the beauty of the Pacific. He'd never take something like this for granted.
"Let's sit by the water," Buffy said, taking his hand and practically running to the spot she saw.
Angel sat down in his beach chair, sinking his toes into the sand, marveling at how wonderful it felt, and Buffy did the same.
"Whoa, déjà vu," Buffy said.
"I think I had a dream about us doing this. Does that ever happen to you sometimes? You're just sitting there and all of a sudden, you feel like you've seen this scene before?"
Angel gave her a smile. "Sometimes. Were we…kissing in this dream?"
"I don't remember." Buffy stood up and moved to sit in his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a smile. "But I'm thinking about kissing you now."
Thanks again for reading, everyone! Reviews are much loved! :)
SEQUEL ALERT: Check out my profile to read more of my Buffy/Angel stories, including the story that follows this one. It's called "Life in Nine Months". It's pretty much just an 11-chapter fluff piece...ha! Enjoy! :)