A/N: This story takes place after the Buffy Season 7 finale and does not include the events of Angel Season 5.
Buffy had lived only 22 years, but the last eight of those years had felt like 800. She had died twice, and come back to life twice. She had had to kill her one true love, and care for him when he returned from the depths of hell. She had dated two vampires, she had staked too many vampires to count. A little sister had been placed into her life and integrated into her past. She had almost lost all her friends at one time or another, and had actually lost quite a few friends forever. She had lost her mother as well, whom she had loved so dearly. Most recently, she had helped to lead an attack on The First Evil that resulted in the complete destruction of Sunnydale and the Hellmouth. She had lost two good friends while making that happen though. One of which she might have even loved. One change she appreciated though was that with over 1500 slayers across the globe, she had definitely lost her feeling of loneliness.
Dawn, Buffy, Xander and Willow had spent that entire summer trying to figure out what to do next. While staying with Mr. Summers, Dawn took a class in L.A. that got her an early high school diploma. She figured that it was just a nuisance on the Scoobies if they had to find her a high school to go to. She had talked it over with Buffy, who didn't like the idea, and they eventually agreed. Buffy had realized that neither she nor Dawn would ever be normal. Even if Dawn wasn't a slayer, she was just as much a part of that world as any other slayer was. It was silly to think that either one of them could ever live a normal life when they themselves were not even remotely average.
Buffy had been making trips to every location that might have a slayer. She wanted to make sure that everything was the way it was supposed to be. She called Dawn almost every day to check on her and make sure she knew that she would be coming back to get her. Buffy was trying to put her feelings of losing Spike into perspective during this time. On the one hand, Spike had died a champion. He had pretty much destroyed the Hellmouth by himself. Buffy loved him for that. He understood her too. In some ways, he knew her better than anyone else ever could hope to. On the other hand, he had done some terrible things, and he was a monster. She also wasn't sure if she had really loved him enough for it to count in the long run.
Xander had accompanied Buffy on her trips around the world. He was grieving Anya while Buffy grieved Spike, so he needed the escape as well. Angel had funded their travels. Wolfram and Hart was looking to support the cause and the new generation of massive amounts of slayers. Xander had always felt like the average joe in the Scoobie gang, but now he felt like he had a greater purpose. Angel had sent a Wolfram and Hart representative to tell him how much they needed someone like him at the firm. Xander could never go back to a normal life after what happened to him over the past two years. Losing Anya had taught him that he wasn't meant to be some suburban dad with two kids and a white picket fence.
Willow and Kennedy were helping out in Cleveland, the location of another Hellmouth. Willow now was able to perform magic without turning into "Evil Willow." Kennedy was a great leader to the ten other slayers in Cleveland. Since she had grown up learning the ways of the slayer, she definitely had an upper hand. They were falling more and more in love every day. Willow had begun to really let go of the anguish from Tara's death. She was finally moving on, though there would always be a piece of Tara with her, no matter what.
Giles was doing his best to train a new crop of Watchers, though in America instead of England. He was living in New York, knowing he really didn't have any home or family to return to in England. Buffy, Dawn, Xander and Willow were more his family than anyone else, and that was enough to keep him in the States.
Today was Dawn's final day of high school though, and that meant that the Scoobies were going to reunite. Buffy and Xander were on a plane back from Cambodia, where they had met some really nasty looking frog demons. Willow and Kennedy were also flying home, and met up with Giles during his layover in the Cleveland airport.
"Giles!" Willow ran to the grey haired Englishman as soon as she caught sight of him. "I missed you!"
"Willow," Giles smiled fondly.
They embraced in a father daughter hug, though not an ounce of their blood was the same. They pulled back and examined each other from head to toe. Willow's red hair had grown lighter and she had cut it back up to her shoulders, but other than that she looked pretty much the same.
"You cut your hair," Giles remarked.
"You—are those new glasses?" Willow laughed.
"Well, uh, yes, actually they are," Giles took them off, cleaning the lenses. "Thank you for noticing."
They stood beaming at one another for a moment, and then were started by a loud thud next to them. Kennedy cleared her throat loudly after dropping her suitcase on the ground.
"And, of course, you remember Kennedy?" Willow said.
"Ah, yes. Kennedy, how are you?"
"I'm great," Kennedy chuckled. "How about we get on this plane before it takes off without us, though?"
"Yes, we wouldn't want to miss Dawn's graduation," Giles quickly agreed, picking up his bags.
The trio stepped up to the gate and boarded the plane, catching up with each other's activities from over the summer.
"…it was the most revolting smell I've ever gotten from a demon, Giles," Willow was laughing. "I don't know how Kennedy and I made it out of there alive. The smell alone nearly killed us."
Meanwhile, Xander and Buffy had gotten off their plane at LAX. They searched for a rental car agency, but found a person holding up a piece of paper that said "Summers and Harris" on it outside of their gate. Buffy grabbed Xander before he could meet the person.
"Xander!" Buffy hissed. "He could be dangerous. We don't know if he's even human."
"Buffy, since when do we ever deal with anyone who is actually human?" Xander retorted. "He's wearing the Wolfram and Hart logo on his jacket."
"Oh, well better safe than sorry," Buffy sighed sheepishly.
"Even if he is dangerous, I am sure we could take him."
They approached the man holding the sign with more apprehension than caution.
"I am Buffy Summers and this is Xander Harris," Buffy spoke confidently.
"Great to meet you," he shook both their hands with a great big smile and enthusiasism. "My name is Paul. I will be your driver for today."
After having spent months of living in third world countries, riding in a limo sparked a bit of excitement among Buffy and Xander. They popped open a bottle of champagne, celebrating their return.
"Where are we headed first, Paul?" Buffy called up to the driver.
"Wolfram and Hart," he smiled as he replied. "The CEO would like to extend his gratitude for your efforts this summer."
Buffy knew Angel would be there, but she didn't know what position he was in at the firm. She wasn't sure if she was ready to see him yet. She definitely had strong feelings for him, but he was so much a part of her future, the future that she hadn't been ready for not too long ago... It was a big firm though, so she doubted that they would run into one another.
"Cool," she and Xander grinned at one another, clinking their flutes together.
They reached the CEO's office, chatting with Wesley the whole way.
"Alright, you two should enter," Wes directed. "He'll be expecting you."
As Buffy opened the door, laughing at a one liner Xander had said, she was not prepared for the appearance of the tortured, brown haired man behind the desk. She wasn't expecting to come face to face with the man, well vampire more accurately, whom she had kissed and loved with such passion, and just last Spring had shared a kiss with once again.
"Angel," she said simply, in a voice that summed up their entire history with that one word.
The human girl and the vampire man stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity, completely forgetting the third person in the room.
"Well, this is a surprise," Xander said, too shocked to come up with a good joke.
The sound of Xander's voice broke the trance between Buffy and Angel and they averted their eyes away from one another.
"So, uh, I just wanted to say thank you for your work this Summer," Angel began, clearing his throat. "And offer you both positions here at the firm if you so choose to be a part of Wolfram and Hart."
"Can I have a secretary?" Xander quickly asked.
"Wha-Yes, I guess…" Angel had not been around Xander in a long time and had forgotten what he was like.
"And an office?" Xander asked. "And how does a vampire have an office with windows? Are you a work at night kind of CEO?"
"Xander," Buffy said warningly.
"What?" Xander asked, then realizing that Angel and Buffy probably needed to talk, he cleared his throat. "You know what, I am just going to work out that whole secretary situation with good ol' Wes out here. You kids play nice now."
There was an awkward moment of silence after the door shut behind Xander, and then Buffy began to talk.
"So you're the CEO, huh?" she smiled.
"Yeah, it's kind of new to me too," Angel smiled back, knowing almost exactly what she was thinking.
"Angel, I know that I told you I needed time to shape myself still, but… I think I've shaped enough. I destroyed the town that was not only the center for things from hell, but my home for seven years. After spending the past few months finding myself, I figured out what I want."
"What do you want, Buffy?" Angel asked with a half smile on his face.
"Willow," she said with the utmost conviction.
Angel kind of blinked for a minute to process the information, and then Buffy burst out laughing.
"I am totally joking," she smiled at him. "I want to try us again."
"Oh, thank god," Angel sighed with relief. "That was turning out to be a very awkward conversation."
They both laughed and looked at each other.
"How about we go get some coffee some time?" Buffy laughed, reminding Angel of a little inside joke they had shared what felt like ages ago.
"That sounds great," Angel replied.
"I want to accept your job offer as well," Buffy replied with a smile. "However, I need a couple weeks to spend time with Dawn and get all set up with an apartment and everything."
"Of course, I understand," Angel smiled. "Take all the time you need."
He was close to her now. Her human body heat was mixing with his cool temperature, creating a tingling storm in the small space between them. They were looking into one another's eyes, their faces inching closer together. Buffy wanted to kiss him. She needed to feel the ice on his lips matching the fire of her own. They were so close, but then Buffy pulled away, looking down.
"So how about coffee tomorrow night?" she laughed nervously. "There's a cute coffee house by my dad's place."
"I know the place," Angel smiled, taking a much needed step backward. "Sunset is at 7:36 tomorrow, so how about 8:00?"
"Sounds good," Buffy grinned at him, before walking out the door.
"Buffy?" Angel called after her.
"Yeah?" Buffy reappeared.
"It really is great to see you," Angel smiled.
Buffy smiled back and walked out of his office.
"Wait a minute," Dawn interrupted Buffy's retelling of what happened in Angel's office. "Are you telling me that you two didn't kiss?!"
"Yes, Dawn," Buffy shook her head.
"You, Buffy Summers, and he, Angel- what is his last name anyways?- did not kiss?!" Dawn asked incredulously.
"You got it," Buffy smiled.
"Buffy, WHY NOT?!" Dawn whined.
"Because, we are being grownups about this," Buffy replied. "We're trying to do this the mature way."
"Buffy, no offense, but when has that ever worked out for either one of you?" Willow asked pointedly.
"You really have a type, don't you, Buff?" Kennedy snorted. After spending two weeks with Willow and Kennedy in Cleveland, Buffy had grown used to Kennedy's snide remarks. They kind of reminded her of Cordelia.
"Well I for one, am glad to know that Buffy has learned a bit of self-control," Xander stated.
Buffy rolled her eyes at him. They had celebrated most of the night away, already having mushy reunion hours ago. They were definitely back to being comfortable enough to tell each other exactly what they thought and felt without reservations. Giles and her dad had gone to bed hours ago. It was nice being able to depend on her dad to look after Dawn all summer, and she liked to think that it had not been mostly Dawn taking care of him for the summer. Though that was probably just wishful thinking. Hank had provided guardianship legally of Dawn for the summer. That was all it meant to him or Dawn, honestly. Dawn had always blamed him in the divorce and sided with her mother. Buffy had had her issues with both parents, but felt her mother had actually been around when she needed her, so she was the one who had parented Buffy as well. Dawn would be 18 very soon though and then they wouldn't need to worry about the legal guardian issues anymore.
"Dawn we should go apartment shopping tomorrow," Buffy told her.
"WOAH! You can't just change the subject," Dawn interjected. "When are you going to see him again? When do the rest of us get to see him?"
"The rest of us get to see him is a loosely used phrase there, Dawnie," Xander quipped.
"We are going out for coffee tomorrow," Buffy replied.
Willow and Buffy looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"What? What did I miss?" cried Dawn and Xander over the giggling.
"The first time I asked Angel out on a date, it was to coffee, and he freaked," Buffy responded. "Then, after he agreed, Cordelia intercepted him and had coffee with him before I got there."
"I guess you had to be there," Dawn said sourly as Willow and Buffy continued to laugh.
"Don't worry, Dawnie," Xander gave her a quick squeeze. "I was there, and I still don't get what's so funny about it."
"My god, I am so jet lagged," Buffy stated as soon as the laughter stopped. "I think I am going to sleep now."
"Agreed," said Xander.
"Night, guys," Willow said. "It's good to be together again."
Buffy smiled as they walked to their designated bedrooms, thinking exactly the same thing.