AN: Little one shot. I'm trying to get back into my old fics, I promise. No copyright infringement intended, I doubt they'd be threatened by my ideas/writing anyway.
O o o o o o O
Hesitant fingers touched the numbers that he had looked at so many times he had them memorized. One ring, and then a pleasant British voice speaks, "Thank you for calling Summers Academy, nurturing the potential of young girls since 2005. Please listen closely as our options have changed. If you would like an information packet, please press one. If you…" Angel frowned in annoyance and hit the '0' button, cutting off the speech and hoping to get to a person more quickly.
"Summers Academy, this is Hailey, how may I direct your call?" a clipped accented voice came across the line.
"Uh. Hello. Buffy Summers please." He hadn't spoken to her in years and there wasn't a protocol set up for contact.
The woman on the other end chuckled softly, "I'm sorry sir, but Mrs. Summers is not available for phone calls."
The casual use of the term 'Mrs.' made his heart stop in its chest. "She's married?" he asked unsteadily.
Now the voice cooled slightly, "Sir, I do not discuss the personal lives of the staff here, and especially not the headmistress."
Angel's mind raced; the receptionist didn't exactly answer the question. In a moment, he decided to continue as planned. Even if she was married, it was news she deserved to hear from him. "Well, I need to speak with Buffy. It's urgent."
"What is this regarding, sir? We have other staff that could help you rather efficiently, if you would allow." Hailey kept steering the conversation from Buffy, or at least making an attempt to do so.
Another pause from Angel, "It's personal. I just need to speak with her."
Now the woman sounded almost bored. "If you would like to leave a name and number, I will put it in her box."
"Please, just hand it to her, soon. I'm Angel and she can call me at 1-461-555-3882. Anytime, day or night. Please just tell her that." His voice took on a pleading cast.
"Yes, sir. I'll do my best. Have a lovely afternoon."
And with that, the line went dead and Angel was left to stand, staring at his phone, wondering if the message would reach her.
O o o o o o o O
"What was that all about?" a young woman asked as she entered the office where Hailey was seated.
Hailey chuckled and shook her head, holding the slip of paper up. "Some crackpot. Said he was an angel and he needed to speak to the headmistress on an important personal matter." She laughed in amusement, until she realized the woman across from her was looking horror-struck.
"Angel called?" Dawn knew that Angel and Buffy rarely were in contact, but if one was trying to reach the other, it must be important.
Now Hailey looked concerned, "Oh my, you know him?" Hailey was just an administrative assistant, she wasn't part of the inner circle of the school by any means.
Dawn nodded as she pulled out her cell. "He's Buffy's …" She trailed off, not sure how exactly to phrase it. "He and Buffy have known each other for a long time."
There was a pause and then she spoke into the phone, "Hey Buffy. Angel called," she blurted it out gracelessly, anxiousness and indecision on how to phrase it causing her to speak in the most blunt way possible. "Um. Maybe? Hold on." She looked to Hailey, "Did he leave a number?"
"Uh, y-y-yes," she stammered, unnerved by the reaction of all involved. She handed the slip of paper with the phone number on it to Dawn.
Dawn recited the phone number and said a quick goodbye, a slight frown on her face as she ended the call. "God, I hope the world isn't ending…again."
O o o o o o o o O
"Buffy," he stated, before she could say a word, knowing from the international notification on his caller id that it had to be her.
"Angel," she replied simply. This was part of their ritual. It was silly perhaps, but that was how they greeted each other, no matter how much time had gone by. "What's wrong?" She cut to the chase quickly, sure it wasn't a social call.
Angel paused, then took a deep breath and spoke, "Nothing's wrong. Exactly."
He paused again, which gave her a foothold to butt in. "What is that supposed to mean? Is something trying to rise? Is Wolfram and Heart reforming?" Her tone was worried and yet business-like.
This was by far one of the most awkward conversations he had ever had. He didn't know how to say it, he just knew he knew he needed to tell her. One word escaped his lips in a whisper. "Shanshu."
He heard a sharp intake of air from her. "Angel?" she said unsteadily, knowing what he meant immediately.
"I – I had to tell you. Myself. It just… wouldn't be right any other way." It was true, the thought of Buffy hearing that he was now human from Wesley or Giles or Willow seemed almost cruel.
There was silence on the other end of the line. Angel would have been lying if he said that his heart didn't break a bit at that. She was the cause of so much joy and pain over the years. She was his soul-mate.
He remembered back to a time when he, and everyone else, assumed that it had just been sex that caused him to lose his soul so many years ago. But it wasn't just sex. He slept with Darla, and other girlfriends throughout the years. It was Buffy. She was the only one who had that power over him, the only one that allowed him to experience pure, unadulterated happiness.
His voice sounded thick to his ears as he spoke to fill the hole. "I don't expect anything from you Buffy," he said, though internally he at least would have liked her to express some happiness for him. "I hear you are a Mrs. now." He tried to give her an out. He didn't want her to feel like he wanted her to drop everything and run to him. A long time had passed, he understood that.
"What?" The last sentence broke her out of her silence, correcting him quickly, "No, they just call me that at the school." She spoke rapidly, despite all the pain and time between them, she didn't want him to think she had gotten married without telling him. A shorter pause, then, "Human? You're human?"
He chuckled uneasily. "Heart beating, food eating human." He sighed, "I'm sorry, I just didn't want you to hear it from anyone else. Are you doing ok?" He tried to move on like he had just said that he had gotten a new car or some other form of banal news.
"Ok. Ok? Angel, you're…human!" she nearly yelled into the phone. "When did this happen? How? Why? I mean…I know why. But why now? I thought that you couldn't…And Spike? And who? And what does this mean?" Her questions came out in a jumbled hurry, as her mouth tried to keep up with her brain.
"This morning, when I woke up." There was a smile on his face as he spoke; he liked it when she got flustered and started talking a mile a minute. "I woke up and I felt it beating." His mind instantly flashed back to the lost day with her, the day that got taken back, her with her head on his chest, listening to his heart beat. "The Powers said that everything is a test and that…" his voice cracked as he spoke, "that my penance was done and I had earned my happiness."
"Oh Angel…" she breathed.
Angel continued after a moment of composing himself, not lingering on the dream in which the conversation had happened, trying to keep his demeanor in check. "Spike…He's different than I was. He chose his path and he can be happy without consequence even as a vampire, plus he's pretty new on the road to redemption."
"Congratulations seems like the understatement of the year for this sort of thing," Buffy quipped, coughing a small laugh.
Angel smiled again. "Well, I just wanted to tell you." He took a deep breath and continued, "And to see if maybe…Maybe you would like to go for a cup of coffee?" He still remembered so many years ago, her wish to go out for coffee; he hoped this would tip the scales in his favor.
Buffy was silent for a moment, dumbstruck at the situation and the question. "Coffee." A silly grin rose on her face that Angel could almost hear over the phone. "I think coffee could work."