So, I'm still kind of shellshocked from issue 34 of the season eight comics, and I felt the need for some less, uh, R-rated Buffy/Angel stuff (because, holy CRAP), but I didn't feel up to drawing anything (yet), and this is the result. It's actually an idea I had probably around the first time I ever watched this episode, so I'm a little surprised it's taken me this long to write.

Disclaimer: They belong to Joss, and I'm definitely not him.

Update, as of 9/23/10: Okay, I've got a couple more Buffy/Angel one-shots now, and I'd rather have them all in one place than post them as separate fics, so I'm grouping them together with this one. So far, they're all set in the episode "Angel", but that could easily change in future.

Setting: At the Bronze, right after Buffy learns about Angel's soul. What if it had taken Darla a few minutes longer to get to the Bronze, giving Buffy and Angel more time alone? Slightly off-canon.

Inspiration: My irritation that there wasn't as much snogging in the episode as there could have been.

Perspective: Buffy's.

"I can walk like a man, but I'm not one," said Angel, and his gaze pierced Buffy far more deeply than it ever had before. "I wanted to kill you tonight."

Buffy's eyes flickered to her crossbow and then back to his face. After a second's hesitation, she set the crossbow on the floor and slowly walked forward. His confusion at her actions was obvious, but there was something soft in his dark eyes now. She stopped just within arm's reach of him and, without breaking eye contact, tilted her head to the side, exposing her neck. "Go ahead," she said.

He stared at her, not speaking. For a moment, his eyes moved down to focus on her throat. She couldn't identify their expression. Surprise? Fear? …Hunger? Before she could decide whether it had been one of those or none of the above, he had gone back to staring directly into her eyes. Her breath caught at the overwhelming tenderness on his face as he looked at her, and it was as if his soul had suddenly become visible to her. The last traces of her wariness and doubt vanished.

"Not as easy as it looks," she said with a slight smile. The corners of his mouth barely twitched, but she could see his answering smile sparkling in his eyes. He moved closer to her, and she was reminded irresistibly of their kiss the night before. Her heart skipped faster in anticipation. Wait—he was a vampire. Did she still want that? Her eyes still on his face—his handsome, angelic face with that unbearably tender expression that was all for her—it took less than a second to realize that the answer to that question was a resounding yes.

One of Angel's hands came up to caress the same side of her throat that she had just offered him. His touch was cool—of course. She couldn't believe she hadn't noticed that before. Her eyes drifted closed and she leaned into the pressure as his thumb traced the line of her jaw. Slowly, as though dealing with a frightened creature that might bolt if she made any sudden movements, she closed the little remaining distance between them and reached up to wrap her arms around his neck.

While their first kiss had rapidly progressed from tentative to passionate, this one remained slow and careful, yet it was somehow deeper for the improved understanding between them. Perhaps due to the more relaxed pace, Angel didn't lose control or pull away this time, but held her close and poured every ounce of the tenderness that had lit up his features so beautifully into the kiss. Buffy felt a surge of joy and warmth in her racing heart, and she wondered if this was what falling in love felt like.

"Looks like I underestimated her after all."

The cold, sneering—jealous?—voice sliced into their private world like a knife. They immediately jumped apart to face the intruder, feeling almost painfully bereft in the aftermath of their broken moment.