Surprise by SCWLC

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Distribution: Take it! Take it! Tell me where it went, but take it!

Rating: R

Spoilers: Uhh, has everyone seen Surprise and Innocence?

Notes: Yes I rewrote the original version of the rewrite. Still don’t ask for a sequel. I’m still not sure I can pull it off.

Feedback: Goes to

Summary: The title pretty much covers it.

Buffy bolted upright in bed. She couldn’t remember much about her nightmare, but she knew it had been a doozie. She turned on her bedside lamp and reached for her water glass. Finding it empty, Buffy got up and headed for the bathroom. There was some sort of presence behind her, but she ignored it.

As she walked through the door she suddenly found herself at the Bronze. *Huh, that’s different, where’d my cup go?* she thought, unconcerned. Willow was sitting at a table looking at Buffy with a huge cup of coffee in front of her. The other girl turned and addressed a monkey wearing a red hat and jacket on the table next to her.

“L'hippo a pique ses pantalons.” Willow said. When Buffy didn’t respond Willow smiled and waved eagerly. Buffy hesitantly smiled back and raised her hand in greeting wondering why Willow was talking to her in French. She shrugged as she turned away, deciding it had to be the coffee. Willow got weird with too much caffeine in her.

Continuing on Buffy found her mother holding another enormous cup and saucer. As Buffy approached, her mother looked at her seriously and said, “Do you really think you're ready, Buffy?”


Joyce dropped the saucer. Buffy watched as it slowly fell to the floor and shattered. The slow-motion movement cued something in Buffy’s head to realise that things weren’t quite right here. As she pondered her mother turned and vanished into the crowd. Buffy moved on and beamed happily when she saw Angel standing at the pool table. All thoughts of wrongness vanished at the sight of him as they always did. He smiled in response and started to walk toward her. Just as they got close enough to touch Drusilla suddenly appeared behind Angel. She thrust a stake into his back and pulled it out. He arched backward in pain, his dark eyes boring into her.

“ANGEL!” Buffy cried out. She reached out for him, but as their hands touched, his fingers turned to ashes, a silver ring falling through the cloud as it made its way to the floor. The rest of his body followed suit, leaving nothing of her boyfriend but a dusty area on the floor and a silver ring. Drusilla smiled at her, moving forward.

“Happy Birthday, Buffy.”

She woke up terrified, her only thought, *Is Angel okay?*


When Buffy got up at seven that morning, she headed out early and rushed to Angel’s. School and Giles and Willow be damned, she had to know if he was alright. She stood outside his door, impatiently and anxiously waiting for any word whatsoever that her boyfriend was still alive and well. There was no way to put into words the relief she felt when she heard him say “Hold on.”

Buffy carefully examined him for any sign of damage. “Hey. Is everything okay?” He asked, looking at her, worried by her actions.

“That's what I was gonna ask you. You're okay, right?” Buffy said still unconvinced Angel was alright.

“Sure. I-I'm fine.” he gestured for her to come in, “What's up?”

She came in and put her bag down. He closed the door and walked over to his dresser to grab a shirt. "Um. . . I-I had this... dream that Drusilla was alive,” she said, now starting to feel kind of dumb. She had come rushing here in a blind panic certain he needed rescuing and now he was standing in front of her just fine, and Buffy was having a hard time forgetting about five seconds earlier he hadn’t been wearing a shirt. And she was babbling in her head, which was worse than babbling out loud. Not that this meant she didn’t still have a major wiggins happening about the dream.

“What happened?” he asked. It made her feel a little better. At least he wouldn’t make fun of her like other brunette guys she could mention. The question brought back to mind the terror she’d felt as he just blew away in front of her though and Buffy was suddenly refocussed on that look of pain and desperation in his eyes as he was dusted.

She looked up at him, staring into his eyes for the reassurance that he was fine. “She killed you. Right in front of me.” It didn’t help. The fear lurked below the surface.

Angel saw and tried to calm her. “It was just a dream. It wasn't real.” he said. In spite of herself, Buffy could feel the sincerity in his voice and let it comfort her. A little.

The comfort wasn’t quite enough though. “But it felt *so* real.” Her voice was still tear-stained and emphatic. She kept looking at Angel unsure of whether this was another dream and he was about to vanish, or if it was really real.

She felt a flush of warmth and comfort flood her as he said with certainty, “It wasn’t. I’m right here.” He gently cupped her face in his hand, but she pulled away unable to shake the feeling something was wrong.

“Angel, th-this happened before,” she said, trying to make him understand her concern. “The dreams that I had about the Master, they came true.”

He looked at her with those deep brown eyes that always gave her shivers. *It’s like he’s looking at my soul and can see everything about me. God he’s gorgeous, those eyes, the way he’s so sensitive, and his hands are so sensitive . . .* Angel’s voice broke in on Buffy’s thoughts which were, in the calming influence of his presence, suddenly more focussed on other things.

“Still, not every dream you have comes true. I mean, what else did you dream last night? Can you remember?” His eyes were compassionate though she thought she could see a spark of amusement in them and definitely caught it in his voice. With the turn of the conversation from Angel dying to slightly lighter topics, Buffy’s mind strayed again. He hadn’t been wearing a shirt when she came in. He had been standing there in nothing but sweatpants with gorgeous, muscled, pale skin and a sexy tattoo adorning his shoulder.

Buffy looked down at the floor in embarrassment as she realised that she had stopped worrying about Angel and had started thinking very, well, intense, thoughts. “I dreamt... I dreamt that Giles and I opened an office supply warehouse in Vegas.” She just hoped he thought her embarrassment was over the dream rather than something else. Sometimes he just knew her too well.

“See my point?” his mouth quirked at the corner, his voice warming with affectionate laughter.

“Yeah, I-I do,” but it brought her fears right back to the surface. ”But... what if Drusilla is alive? We never saw her body.”

“She's not. But even if she was, we'd deal.” Angel was firm even as he smiled at her again the way he always did when he thought she was doing something cute. In spite of the fear, Buffy couldn’t help her mind as it thought more about how sexy that smirk was than how much in danger Angel was.

Buffy began to try to make him see reason, as well as get her mind off of Angel and thoughts of lust and sweat and . . . she had to stop reading the bodice ripper romance novels. “What if . . . what if she’s . . .”

And then Angel was kissing her. It began as a gentle meeting of lips. A kiss meant to calm and comfort. A spark caught somewhere and Buffy felt Angel’s tongue slide along her lips. She let it in and slid her own into his mouth in return. There was something new in the kiss that hadn’t been there just the night before. It was more intense somehow, and when Angel pulled away and spoke she was left breathless.

“What if what?” he said. Buffy felt hazy. She knew that they had been discussing something important, but she couldn’t remember what. A moment later she gave up on figuring out what in favour of getting Angel to kiss her more.

“I'm sorry. Were we talking?” she asked tilting her head in blatant invitation and praying that he wouldn’t say they had been. He didn’t. Instead he leaned over her and began to kiss her again. If the last one had been intense, this was the kind of kiss you read about in the romance novels Buffy was going to swear off as soon as she finished the latest one. That was her last thought that didn’t concern Angel and major kissage as his arms slipped around her waist and pulled her tightly against him. She slipped her arms around his neck to keep her balance and began to wriggle against the hard belt buckle that had somehow gotten into a slightly uncomfortable spot.

Then Buffy remembered he was wearing sweats. It wasn’t a belt buckle she was so shamelessly writhing into. “I'm sorry. I, um... I-I have to go to school.” she turned and quickly headed for the door.

“I know,” he said, his voice rough with emotions Buffy couldn’t identify. He grabbed her arm and swung her around to face him. Buffy found herself helplessly sliding her arms around his neck again and trying to get him closer somehow. They were pressed body-to-body again as their tongues duelled and explored each other’s mouths. Angel slid his hands downwards then back up again. It was as if he couldn’t stop touching her, and didn’t want to just have his hands on one limited area. Buffy was beginning to feel a slight throbbing sensation between her legs. This wasn’t the first time it had happened with Angel, but this time it was intense and much more defined. It was Angel who pulled away.

“Oh, God, you feel. . .” Buffy couldn’t even describe the ways that he turned her on. She helplessly pressed herself into him, wanting more. Some instinctive part of her knew that he was the key to dealing with the ache inside, but she didn’t know how.

He was still close to her as he said, “You have to go to school.” Angel started to manoeuvre her to the door.

“Right. I know. This is me.” She let herself be backed into the door, feeling Angel press against her, feeling his *ohmygod* erection, he had an erection because of Buffy Summers *ohmygod*, press into her despite the clothes between them. ”I'm going.” Angel slid his arms around her waist bending down his head to kiss her again. They were so close, Buffy could feel a slight rocking motion in Angel’s hips and felt herself responding in kind. She was a little disappointed they were the wrong heights to rock together (bad Buffy!). Then Angel’s lips left hers and started to trace a path of cool flame down her neck. Buffy gasped and started to return the gesture, wanting to feel and taste him.

Finally sanity returned, and they managed to pull enough apart to look at each other. “You still haven't told me what you wanted for your birthday,” Angel said. Buffy, in the course of the day’s events so far (and school hadn’t even started) had completely forgotten. She smiled and allowed the change of topic. If things had kept going the way they were there was no telling what would have happened.

“Surprise me,” she replied to the unarticulated question. Angel’s response was that slight upward turn of the lips that always took Buffy’s breath away. It started another response that Buffy was starting to associate utterly with Angel.

“Okay. I will.” They kissed. He pulled away too soon for her and Buffy resisted the urge to pout, not wanting to spoil the best moment in her life yet.

“This is nice. I like seeing you first thing in the morning.” Buffy looked up at him thinking, *Yeah, nice, more like absolutely amazing.*

“It's bedtime for me.” His smile widened ever so slightly.

“Well, then I like seeing you at bedtime.” Then she realized how that sounded. *Oh great, now he’s gonna think I’m easy or a slut or . . . something.* “Um... Um, heh... Y-you know what I mean.” she stammered trying to correct her verbal blunder before she got into further hot water. Although to be honest, that hot water was sounding pretty attractive if it involved a wet, naked Angel.

“I think so.” he frowned, “What do you mean?”

“I like seeing you. The part at the end of the night where we say good-bye... It's getting harder.” Buffy didn’t know where that blunt statement had come from, but it was true. It wasn’t just the dreams that had her waking up at nights aching for him either or the touches that were straying farther and farther from neutral territory. There was a part of her that felt torn when he wasn’t there. Something she didn’t dare tell her friends about because the feelings were so strong they were all scary and co-dependent. She needed him with her.

She was so caught up in her thoughts and ignoring the need that had her wanting to lose herself in him, she almost missed his soft response. ”Yeah. It is.”


“'I like you at bedtime?' You actually said that?” Willow could not believe her ears. Her best friend, walking next to her, had just said that she had practically propositioned Angel.

Buffy was looking really kinda uncomfortable about it. “I know, I know.” Willow began to try to think of something cool to say. Or something to say at all. Anything.

“Man, that's like... I-I dunno, that's moxie or something.” *Great going speech girl, what are you? The valley girl extraordinaire?*

“Totally unplanned. It just... came out.” said the Slayer. She was starting to really get into telling it, and Willow was not about to stop her. *It’s not like I’ll be talking about smoochies with my boyfriend anytime soon, not that I have a boyfriend, and this is way beyond smoochie-ville, anyway. I mean ‘bedtime’?!*

“And he was into it?” she responded with a slight giggle, “I mean, he wants to see you at bedtime, too?”

“Yeah, I . . . I . . . I think he does. Well, I . . . I mean he-he's cool about it.” Willow was feeling somewhat out of her depth with this response. It was so . . . incredible! They were talking about someone she knew, her age, doing *it*. Willow was so stunned she couldn’t even think the word. Then she realised she had to respond.

“Well, of course he is. 'Cause he's cool. I mean, he would never. . . you know. . .” *Great Will, dazzle her with your verbal skills again.* Clearly coherency was not going to be a hallmark of her conversation.

“Push.” Buffy finished for her.

“Right. H-he's not the type.”

“Will, what am I gonna do?” Willow was always startled when Buffy, ‘live-in-the-now- because-tomorrow-you-might-be-dead’ Buffy; her worldly, strong, demon-killing friend came to her for advice on things that Willow had yet to experience, and sometimes, even consider.

She said the only thing she could. “What do you wanna do?” Willow asked gently.

“I don't know. I... I mean,” they sat on a bench, “'want' isn't always the right thing *to* do. To act on want can be wrong.” Buffy was looking completely flustered by the situation, and Willow wished she knew more about this stuff for Buffy’s sake. Or that Buffy had talked to Ms Calendar.

“True,” was Willow’s noncommittal reply. She didn’t want to make Buffy jump into something she didn’t want just because she, super-smart-nerd-girl, had said Buffy should.

“But... to *not* act on want... What if I never feel this way again?” That question finally told Willow the problem. Buffy was looking for a reassurance, in a way, that Angel and her friends wouldn’t turn on her for it.

She smiled at the usually confident blonde. “Carpe diem. You told me that once.”

“'Fish of the day'?” Buffy was just confused and managed to mess up the dramatic impact of Willow’s advice.

“Not carp.” She smiled, amused at the way Buffy’s mind sometimes made connections. “Carpe. It means 'seize the day.'”

Buffy’s expression cleared when the meaning came clear. “Right. I. . . I think we're going to. Seize it. Once you get to a certain point, then seizing is sort of inevitable.”

Willow went wide-eyed, “Wow...” Buffy was actually going to go there, wow about summed it up.

Buffy smiled, “Yeah.”


The school bell rang.

Buffy leaped to her feet, taking off for class with a whined “Oh...” Willow followed.


After a long two periods, neither of which contained Buffy, Willow caught up with her. “Wow,” she said in a prompting tone of voice.

“Yeah.” said Buffy with a smile, not volunteering anything more. She looked over to the side and saw Oz sitting at a bench with his guitar. “Hey, speaking of 'wow' potential, there's Oz over there. What are we thinking, any sparkage?”

Willow smiled, “He's nice. Hey, I like his hands.” Willow was also all too happy to discuss her own love life, or lack thereof with Buffy.

“Mm. A fixation on insignificant detail is a definite crush sign.” Buffy said eagerly.

They talked a little while longer about Oz. Then Buffy left her with the words, “Well, you won't know until you try.” Buffy walked off then, leaving Willow to consider her next action. She looked at Oz, at Buffy walking away and back at Oz.


Giles came walking out of the lounge and saw Xander. The boy looked a little depressed, which was hardly unexpected, considering that he had just had a ‘what relationship?’ discussion with Cordelia by the lockers.

“Oh, good morning.” Giles was almost looking forward to the surprise party that evening. It was a chance for him to get some ‘alone time’ with Ms. Calendar as the children would say. “Is everything in order for the party?”

“Absolutely. You ready to get down, you funky party weasel?” Xander had, yet again, managed to make Giles sound about as interesting as a dust bunny, only with less personality. *How is it that he can rescue people in battle be an almost brilliant tactician, and still irritate everyone around him?* Still Buffy and her friends appreciated Xander’s jokes when things got nasty. When they helped to lighten the mood. Rupert noticed Jenny and Buffy heading down the stairs.

“Here comes Buffy. Now remember: discretion is the better part of valour," he said.

Xander, as always, responded with something utterly inappropriate, “You coulda just said, 'shh!' God, are all you Brits such drama queens?” he turned to Buffy, “Buffy, I feel a pre-birthday spanking coming on.”

“I'd curb that impulse if I were you, Xander.” said Ms. Calendar. She and Buffy sat at a table in the lounge. While Giles tried to remove all notions of Xander and ‘pre-birthday spankings’ from his poor abused psyche.

“Check, cancel spanking.” said Xander into his shirt.

Giles joined them at the table. “You alright, Buffy? You seem a little fatigued,” he noted.

“Rough night.” she said, “I had a dream that Drusilla was alive and she killed Angel. I-it just really freaked me out.” she shifted nervously. The Watcher could tell she was worried. Anything having to do with Angel always got her like this.

In an attempt to get more details from the girl he asked, “You fear it was more of a. . . a portent?”

“See, I don't know. I don't wanna start a big freakout over nothing.”

He sighed inwardly. Amazing how quickly he forgot the stress of world destroying phenomena. “Still, best to be, uh, on the alert. If Drusilla is alive, i-i-it could be a fairly... cataclysmic state of affairs.”

“Again, so many words! Couldn't you just say, 'we'd be in trouble'?” Giles was momentarily confused, then realised the boy was referring to their earlier conversation. He shot the young man a dark look, “Go to class, Xander.”

“Gone.” he got up and started away, but then paused, “Notice the economy of phrasing:” he simply wasn’t going to let it go, “'gone.' Simple. Direct.” he pointed at Giles and left. Rupert wondered whether he had ever been that obnoxious at Xander’s age and decided that he may have been misguided and lost in his rebellion, but he had never been that irritating.

“Maybe I should get 'gone', too.” said Buffy. She still looked nervous and tired. She stood and smiled slightly at him.

He immediately stood as well and tried to reassure her. “Uh, don't worry unduly, Buffy. I-I-I'm sure it's nothing.”

“I know. I should keep my Slayer cool, but... it's Angel, which automatically equals maxi-wig.” didn’t her Watcher know that all too well. He could clearly remember that Tarakan incident several weeks back in excruciating detail. ‘You can send assassins after me, but nobody tries to kill my boyfriend.’

“Hmm.” was all he said. He gave her a smile as she left.


The next morning, Buffy and her Mom were eating breakfast in the kitchen, while Buffy tried to get up the nerve to talk to her mother on an extremely important topic.

“Mall trip for your birthday on Saturday. Don't forget.” her mother said.

“Space on a mom-sponsored shopping opportunity? Not likely.” Buffy began to wonder how to get an opening to put out her idea. A good segue if you will.

“Hmm. So, does, um, 17 feel any different than 16?” *This is it! Perfect Mom!*

“It's funny you should ask that.” she began, “You know, I woke up feeling more responsible, mature and levelheaded.” *Come on, work with me here.* She carefully arranged her face into an expression of what she hoped was a combination of innocence and maturity.

“Really? Tch. It's uncanny.” said her mother. Obviously she didn’t want to agree to anything without knowing what it was.

“I now possess the qualities one looks for in a-- ” Buffy paused, then plunged on, “licensed driver.” she looked at her mom hopefully. After all, when she had a car, she would be able to drive herself places, she could drive Angel places, she and Angel could have a mobile Make-out unit. Heh. Mobile Make-out unit. That was one of those poetry things. Assonance. Or was it that other thing with the ‘a’ at the beginning?

“Buffy. . .”

“You said we could talk about it again when I was 17.” Buffy said hurriedly, trying to get in her points before she lost her nerve. The thought of herself and Angel in the back seat of a car doing back-seat-of-a-car stuff, suddenly had her . . . distracted.

“Do you really think you're ready, Buffy?” her mom asked. Buffy thought to herself, *Oh yeah, I’m ready. I’m all ready to do some serious seizing of cute and hard Angel . . .* Then her mother’s phrasing and inflection hit her. Just like . . .

Joyce dropped her plate. Buffy watched it fall and saw it shatter on the floor.

Just like the dream.


Buffy sat at the table while Giles paced behind her. “. . . and then my mom broke the plate. It was just like my dream. Every gesture, every word.” she looked up at him, “It was so creepy.”

“Yes, well, I-I-I'd imagine it would be. . . fairly unnerving.” he responded. Buffy wasn’t sure of how accurate unnerving was. Scary as all hell was a lot more accurate. He perched on the end of the table. Then Xander and Willow came bounding in, grinning cheerfully as though everything was of the good.

“Hey! It's the woman of the hour,” said Xander grinning.

“It's Happy Birthday Buffy!” Willow added with cheery excitement. She jumped over to the table, hugged Buffy's shoulders and gave her a big smile. Buffy just looked down and pulled her hair behind her ear. “Not Happy Birthday Buffy?” Willow asked plaintively, her expression immediately shifting from cheeriness to concern.

Giles’ response did a lot to cool their jets. “I-it's just that, um, part of the nightmare that Buffy had the other night actually transpired,”

“Which means Drusilla might still be alive,” Buffy added. Turning slightly to her watcher she said, “Giles, in my dream, I couldn't stop her. She blindsided me. A-Angel was gone before I knew what happened.” Buffy was beginning to panic the more she thought seriously about the possibilities. What if Drusilla did kill Angel? What if it wasn’t a metaphor type thingy and Angel was literally dusted? All chances at seizing would blow away in the wind. *Seizing? Angel could die and you’re thinking about *it*? Bad Buffy! Bad!*

Buffy dragged her attention back to Giles and away from naughty thoughts. “Even if she is alive, uh, we can still protect Angel.” Buffy looked slightly incredulous. “Dreams aren't prophecies, Buffy. Y-y-y-you dreamt that the Master had risen, but you stopped it from happening,” he pointed out reasonably.

“You ground his bones to make your bread,” Xander added, for once coming in at the right moment. Buffy started to feel better.

“That's true.” She paused and wrinkled her nose a little. “Except for the bread part.” *Yech* She turned to Giles, “Okay, so, fine. We're one step ahead, but I wanna stay that way.” Her voice was serious again, but without the edge of panic it had held minutes before.

If Giles was taken aback by her resolve he didn’t show it. “Absolutely. Let me read up on Drusilla, uh, see if she has any particular patterns. Why don't you meet me here at 7:00? We'll map out a strategy.”

“What am I supposed to do until then?” Buffy asked. For the first time ever, she had an urge to spend an afternoon training.

Giles seemed ever so slightly ironic as he replied. “Go to classes, do your homework, have supper. . .” H trailed off. Buffy got the picture and realised that she did have an essay due in a week that she hadn’t started.

“Right. Be *that* Buffy.” she got up from the table, grabbed her bag and headed out of the library.

The others watched her go.


At six-fifty-five Buffy was walking down the hall towards the library. If Giles hadn’t found anything on Drusilla she was going hunting. A voice from behind her startled the slayer. “Buffy.” She whirled around and saw it was just Ms Calendar.

“Oh, my God, I didn't see you there.” The teacher looked a little nervous. *And she should be for sneaking up a a Slayer. What, is everyone turning stalker on me now?* Thoughts of stalking led her to thoughts of Angel, and Buffy started thinking (again) about what patrols had inevitably led to of late. Funny how near-death situations made you think about stuff like that.

“Sorry.” Ms. Calendar’s voice broke through her thoughts, “Um, Giles wanted me to tell you that there's been a change of plans. Uh, he wants to meet you someplace near his house 'cause he had to run home and get a book or something.”

Buffy wondered at the nervousness in the other’s voice even as she rolled her eyes at Giles’ dedication to his research. “’Cause heaven knows there aren't enough books in the library.”

“Uh, he's... very thorough.” Buffy suddenly remembered, Giles, Ms. Calendar, adult item of the month.

“Oh, which is not to bag. It's kind of manly in an obsessive-compulsive kind of way, don't you think?” Buffy said making sure that the woman didn’t think she was dissing Giles. Buffy liked Jenny Calendar, she was good for Giles. It meant Giles was forced to spend some time in the twentieth century. Not to mention Ms Calendar had actually gotten Giles to do things unrelated to cross-indexing demon books.

“Mm-hm. Um, you know, my car's here. Why don't I drive you?” the teacher asked her. seemingly not noticing the foot now permanently lodged in Buffy’s throat.


Somehow, they wound up in the alley outside the Bronze. Jenny's Beetle rolling slowly along. Buffy, somewhat curious by now as Giles’ apartment was nowhere near there, asked, “Are we goin' to the Bronze?”

“I'm not sure,” came the cryptic answer, “Giles gave me an address. I'm just following his directions.” They rounded a corner, and Buffy saw a truck parked in an adjacent loading area. A man jumped off of the truck bed while another walked across the loading dock. Then Buffy’s spider sense went off.

“This looks funky. Stop for a sec,” she said, starting to get out.

Ms. Calendar began to caution her, “No, Buffy, maybe you shouldn't. . .”

The Slayer shrugged. “Sorry. Sacred duty, yadda yadda yadda.” she hopped out of the car to investigate. She walked up to the truck, stopping by the cab. She saw the bespectacled vampire from the DuLac crypt carrying a wooden box. “Every time I see you, you're stealing something.” Buffy paused paused as the vampire growled. “You really should speak with someone about this klepto issue.” Then the truck started and all hell broke loose.


Inside the Bronze Angel peeked out from behind a pillar and looked around. “Where is she?” he asked. He was getting worried. After all, with the dreams she’d been having lately and the fact that part of one had come true this morning, it was possible she had been captured by Drusilla. On the other hand, she could simply have gotten delayed trying on outfits for that evening. Angel smiled inwardly at the notion while the others poked their heads out from behind the pool table.

“Shhh! I think I hear her coming.” said Willow. Angel sighed and distracted himself from his worry and boredom by thinking about how good Buffy’s slender, muscular, feminine little body felt pressed against his own. It proved a very effective distraction.


Outside, Buffy was searching for something to stake with and finally found it. One of the wooden bed retainers. She broke off a piece and jammed it into one of the vampires' chests, and he burst into ashes. The other grabbed her from behind, lifting her onto the loading dock, and threw her at a door.


The gang heard the fighting going on outside and started to get to their feet. Buffy and the vampire came crashing through the window opposite the gang and hit the floor. She scrambled to her feet and kicked the vampire as he came for her. While he stumbled back a few steps. Buffy grabbed a drumstick from a drum set, spun around with it and thrust it into the vampire's chest. The vampire exploded into ashes. A beat later Cordelia jumped up from behind the pool table with her arms raised high.


The others all looked back at her blinking in bemusement. Except for Angel who had moved forward in the course of the fight and was now anxiously checking his girlfriend over for injuries. “Buffy, are you okay?” Angel asked when she hopped off the stage. His concern faded a little as he saw she wasn’t limping or wincing. He took the brief opportunity to marvel at just how beautiful, skilled and strong his lover was. Well, girlfriend anyhow. He wasn’t certain how Buffy would react if he were to propose the notion of them becoming lovers in the classic sense.

“Yes. W-what happened?” Giles’ voice broke through Angel’s internal debate.

“Uh, there were these vamps outs . . .” she started gesturing behind her. “W-what's going on?” She looked so cute and confused as she saw everyone standing around ready to enjoy the party with her, Angel just wanted to kiss her right then and there.

“Oh, um... A surprise party.” Giles sheepishly blew on a party favour.

Cordelia wryly added, “Happy Birthday.”

“You guys did all this for me?” Buffy asked, then turned to Angel, “That is so sweet.” She smiled happily at her boyfriend.

Angel was warmed by her response but he had to ask, “You sure you're okay?”

Buffy sounded exasperated as she assured him, “Yes, I'm fine.” dimly Angel could hear the new boy, what was his name - Oz or something, asking Willow about the vampire and an explanation. He was more concerned with the small blonde staring into his eyes however. He was about to suggest that Buffy go get some cake when Ms. Calendar came into the Bronze carrying a box.

“Hey, can somebody give me a hand here?” she asked, a touch irritably. Angel and Giles took it from her and set it on a table. “Those creeps left this behind.” she said as they began to examine the box.

“What is it?” asked Buffy.

“I have no idea.” responded her watcher, “Can . . . can it be opened?”

“Yeah. This looks like a release right here.” Jenny worked the latch and opened the box. Inside was an arm clad in armour. Buffy looked over at Giles in disgust and was startled when the arm suddenly leaped up, grabbed Buffy by the throat and began choking her. Buffy struggled with the arm while Angel tried to pull it off of her. Between them they got it off and Angel stuffed it back into the box while Buffy stepped back and tried to catch her breath. Giles slammed the lid shut.

“Well, clearly the Hellmouth's answer to 'what do you get the Slayer who has everything?'” said Xander. Angel suppressed an urge to open the box again and throw the arm at the boy. As he stood there, checking his coughing girlfriend over, Angel felt a memory working its way to the surface of his mind.

“Good heavens. Buffy, are you all right?” demanded Giles. His eyes were wide and Angel could hear the fear in the man’s voice.

“Man, that thing had major grip.” she responded, holding her throat. Angel tightened his grip on her shoulders.

Willow looked like she was in shock as she stammered “W-what was that?”

“It looked like an arm,” said the short guy whom Willow had invited. Then the surfacing memory reached his conscious mind and Angel went from concerned to downright frightened.

He started to mutter, “It can't be. She wouldn't.” He shook his head trying to move past the irrational fear that if he said it aloud it would happen. That if he didn’t it wouldn’t.

“What, uh, vamp's version of 'snakes in a can', or do you care to share?” Angel barely heard the brat as he tried not to grab Buffy and head for the hills to protect her.

Buffy’s voice brought him out of his stupor as she said his name. He had to tell them for everyone’s safety. “It-it's a legend. . . way before my time. . . of a demon brought forth to rid the Earth of the plague of humanity. . . separate the righteous from the wicked. . . and to burn the righteous down. They call him the Judge.”

Exuding that bizarre mixture of fascination, excitement, and fear he always exhibited with each new demon, disaster, or peril on the Hellmouth Giles demanded, “The Judge? This is he?”

“Not all of him.” Angel replied.

Buffy raised her hand, “Um, still needing backstory here.”

Her Watcher started, addressing Angel more than the rest of the group. “Um. . . He, he, he couldn't be killed, yes?” Angel could only shrug slightly in confirmation. “Um, a-an army was sent against him. Most of them died. . . but, uh, finally they were able to dismember him, but, uh. . . not kill him.”

“The pieces were scattered. . . buried in every corner of the Earth.” Angel continued.

Ms. Calendar said speculatively, “So all these parts are being brought here.”

“By Drusilla. The vamps outside were Spike's men.” Buffy stated.

Angel had gone past fright. He was terrified. It had taken an army to stop the Judge, and all they had was the gang, him and Buffy. His Buffy. The fact that he might very well die in the next couple of days didn’t frighten him him nearly as much as the concept of Buffy dying. “She's just crazy enough to do it,” he said to himself. He wondered if “Daddy” could convince Dru not to do it.

“Do what, reassemble the Judge?” asked Willow, having over heard his remark.

“And bring forth Armageddon,” he said.

“Is anybody else gonna have cake?” Cordelia asked. Angel heard the near ridiculous query after the baked goods and wondered how the girl could be so blind.

“We need to get this out of town.” Giles sounded a little desperate as he spoke.

Ms. Calendar turned to the vampire, “Angel.”

Buffy looked puzzled and worried responding for her boyfriend, “What?”

“You have to do it,” the computer teacher continued as though uninterrupted. “You're the only one that can protect this thing.”

“What about me?” Buffy demanded. Angel couldn’t blame her for taking offence. ‘What am I, chopped liver?’ was inherent to her tone of voice.

“What, you're just gonna skip town for a few months?” retorted the elder woman as Angel realized, *Months? Oh my God she’s right. I won’t see Buffy again for months.*

“'Months'?” his girlfriend unwittingly echoed the vampire’s thoughts.

“She's right.” Angel was already trying to plot the fastest route he knew to get that thing away from Buffy. “I gotta get this to the remotest region possible.”

“But that's not months,” she protested.

Angel barely heard her as he started planning aloud. “I gotta catch a cargo ship to Asia, maybe trek to Nepal. . .”

“You know, those newfangled flying machines really are much safer than they used to be.” His lover, *girlfriend*, said sarcastically.

“I can't fly. There's no sure way to guard against the daylight. I . . . I don't like this any more than you do, Buffy. But there's no other choice.” Angel was frantic to get the arm out of there if it meant Buffy’s safety.

“When?” she asked.

“Tonight. As soon as possible.” Angel said.

“But it's my birthday.” Those soft, pained words broke Angel’s heart. He wanted to stay here with her. Celebrate the day his true love had come into existence and eat birthday cake with her; dance with her and tell her he loved her. Ms. Calendar’s voice burst through his haze of sadness like a death knell.

“I'll drive you to the docks.”


Buffy and Angel made their way to the ship, Angel carrying the box on his shoulder as they walked arm in arm. When they reached the gangplank Angel set the box down. “I should go the rest of the way alone.” He tried not to look as depressed as he felt. It would be easier if they parted ways here. She was masterfully holding back tears, and Angel was not going to cry in front of her. Buffy was strong, she would still be there when he got back.

“Okay.” Buffy said. She could see Angel was busy being strong so that she could be strong too. *Dammit! I hate doing the right thing!*

“But I'll be back. I will.” Angel swore to himself he would be back. And he would be there for her even if she had found someone else. His heart twisted inside of him at the thought.

Her voice reflected every bit of the heartbreak she felt as she asked, “When? Six months, a year? You don't know how long it's gonna take or if we'll even...” Buffy just couldn’t say it. He had to survive to come back to her. He had to. She looked at the ground with the unshed tears pricking her eyes.

“Hey. . .” Angel reached forward to get her to meet his eyes. “If we'll even what?” Angel thought he had a pretty good idea of what she was going to say. Her answer surprised him.

“Well, if you haven't noticed, someone pretty much always wants us dead.” Buffy was not going to cry. He had always said he was proud of her for being strong, and she was not going to let him see her break down.

His denial was immediate. “Don't say that. We'll be fine.” Just the thought that she would be here with no one to protect her back made him feel sick.

Buffy tried to find a way to make him see reason, to stay, even though she knew it wasn’t reasonable, “We don't know that.”

“We can't know, Buffy. Nobody can. That's just the deal.” He paused for a moment. Drinking in the sight and scent of her. “I have something for you. For your birthday. I. . . I was gonna give it to you earlier, but. . . “ he trailed off and simply held out the ring. If she agreed to wear it they would be promised to one another. If she refused . . . Angel held his figurative breath.

“It's beautiful.” Buffy said. She had seen that design somewhere before. Where?

“My people -- before I was changed -- they exchanged this as a sign of devotion. It's a claddagh ring. The hands represent friendship, the crown represents loyalty. . . and the heart. . . Well, you know. . .” the moment was bittersweet. She was promising herself to him just as he was about to leave for God only knew how long. He wanted to tell her it was a betrothal ring, but it was a little unfair right before he left. “Wear it with the heart pointing towards you. It means you belong to somebody. Like this.” He showed her his own ring on his finger. She touched his hand, leaned over and kissed the ring. “Put it on.” He took the ring from her and slipped it onto her finger.

“I don't wanna do this,” Buffy said with a sob. She felt like someone was reaching into her chest pulling out her heart and stomping on it. Okay, not so poetic, but it was accurate.

Angel understood her pain and was resisting the urge to break down in tears himself. He settled for trying to let his voice and touch let her know how much he wanted to stay. “Me either.”

“So don't go,” she pleaded. He just looked at her as they leaned closer together, and let his eyes close as they kissed. For a moment the world fell away and he relaxed into the feelings her closeness inspired, the scent of her rising arousal and the way she fit so perfectly against him.

“Buffy. . . I. . .” *love you* his mind finished, but vampires were lunging out of nowhere and Angel was suddenly fighting for his life. He tried to focus on the vampire in front of him, but fear for Buffy had him distracted.

“Angel! The box!” Buffy’s cry cut through the air and Angel raced to reach it before the other vampires did.

Buffy tried to reach it as well, but in her distraction she suddenly found herself flying through the air, and hitting something dark and painful before she blacked out. She didn’t hear Angel’s anguished cry, “Buffy!” He jumped over the railing and into the water after her.


“You've thought way too much about this.” Buffy paused outside the library door hearing Willow’s voice. Then Xander’s.

“No, no. That's just the beginning. Have I told you the part where I fly into town in my private jet and take Buffy out for prime rib?” obviously in the middle of a really weird fantasy of his. *Oh well, time to break up the party.*

“Xander. . .” Willow saw her enter and tried to put a stop to Xander’s little dream world.

“And she cries?”

“What happened?” asked Giles.

“Dru's guys ambushed us. They got the box.” Buffy had never thought she would be grateful for an ambush, but in this case it meant that Angel wasn’t leaving. And despite everything she thought it was a good thing.

“Where's Jenny?” Giles asked, extremely anxious. After all, she was his honey. It was kinda cute in an it’s-old-people-romance-and-I-really-don’t-wanna-think-about-it kinda way.

“Uh, she took Angel to get clothing. I, I had some here.” Buffy’s fidgeted slightly at the thought of Ms. Calendar getting even the remotest chance of seeing her Angel sans clothing. Just the notion had Buffy abruptly thinking bad thoughts. Also bad thoughts about a very attractive teacher and Angel. Buffy shuddered inwardly and concentrated on the lusty bad thoughts rather than the wrong bad thoughts.

“And we needed clothes because. . .” Xander asked, obviously having thoughts of badness as well. Not that Angel needing new clothes because of her was necessarily bad, but . . . She forced her mind back to the task at hand

“We got wet,” she replied to discourage Xander from prying further. “Giles, what do we know?”

“The more I study the Judge, the less I like him.” Her watcher already looked exhausted and it hadn’t even been one day. “His touch can literally burn the humanity out of you. A true creature of evil can survive the process. No human ever has.” There was a quality of hopelessness Buffy had rarely seen before. She wished she hadn’t.

Xander’s cheerful voice cut the tension in the room. “What's the problem? We send Cordy to fight this guy, and we go for pizza.” Buffy ignored Xander’s remark more because the situation required it than that she wanted to. It had served its purpose though. There was a little less despair and a bit more determination in the library.

“Can this guy be stopped? Without an army?” she asked, hoping for a yes long winded though it might be.

Giles’ answer was not comforting. “Um, 'no weapon forged can kill him.'” He said. “Not very encouraging. If we could only stop them from assembling him,” Giles continued wryly.

When Angel and Ms. Calendar arrived, even Xander was buried in research. The usual one liners were still flying fast and furious, but they held the strained quality of barely contained panic in them.

“Angel? Any luck?” Angel came down out of the stacks. Giles held up his hand to silence Angel who’s gaze followed Giles' into the office. “Shhh.” Buffy had fallen asleep with her head on her watcher’s desk, and Angel paused to witness how innocent and beautiful, and . . . *Stop! you’re here to work, not to stare longingly at your girlfriend wondering what it would be like to hold her looking like that only naked.*

“Seems Buffy needed some rest.” Giles’ voice penetrated a reverie that Angel had been falling into far too often of late.

“Yeah. She hasn't been sleeping well. Tossing and turning.” Angel suddenly found himself the object of intense scrutiny. He realised they all thought he knew this firsthand. “She told me. Because of her dreams?” They all went back to their tasks exchanging amused and innuendo laden looks.


Buffy was in Spike’s warehouse, looking at the party decorations. All around candles on tall sticks had burned way down. She went to a table at the centre of the room and walked around it. On the other side she saw Jenny walking the other way. *What’s she got to do with this?* Then Buffy saw the boxes all over the floor. They looked like the box that held the arm. She knelt down to open one and see what was in it when a voice interrupted her.

“Now, now.” Buffy spun around to see Drusilla on the upper level holding Angel in front of her. ”Hands off my presents.” She put a sharp blade to Angel's neck.

“No!” Buffy woke from her nightmare with a start. “Angel!” *He’s not dead, he can’t be dead, oh God, Angel, don’t do this, you can’t leave me . . .*

“Buffy, it's okay.” Buffy looked over and saw him next to her. *He’s alive oh thank you thankyouthankyou* “I'm here.” Buffy dove into his comforting embrace with a sob of relief. “I'm right here.”


Buffy came striding out of the cage Angel following. Giles looked down at them from the stacks. “Buffy, what's happening?”

“She had another dream.” Angel responded. He was still very concerned. She was looking peaked, frantic and tense.

“I think I know where Spike and Drusilla are,” she said.

“That's very good, however, you, you do need a plan. I-I know you're concerned, Buffy, but you can't just go off half-cocked.” Giles said. Angel inwardly agreed with Giles and looked at Buffy hoping half-cocked wasn’t her plan.

“I have a plan. Angel and I go to the factory and do recon, figure out how far they've gotten assembling the Judge.” She turned away from him to address the others. “You guys check any places the boxes could be coming into town. Shipping yards, airports, anything. We need to stop them from getting all the boxes in one place.” Her voice had lost its earlier hesitancy and fear.

Giles stuttered, as surprised as Angel at how rational the plan was. “Yes. Yes, well, um, actually, that's quite a good plan.”

“This thing is nasty, and it's real Giles.” They were all reminded of the fact that she was the Slayer as she looked at her watcher. “We can't wait for it to come get us.”

“Right.” Giles said as Buffy grabbed her bag, and she and Angel made tracks for the door.


Buffy and Angel snuck quietly along the upper level and looked down at the party going on below. When the pair were noticed they tried to make a run for it, but there were vampires cutting them off on both sides so they let themselves be dragged down.

“Well, well. Look what we have here. Crashers.” Spike’s voice was full of malicious pleasure at his two enemies walking right into his home. He smiled at them from his wheelchair.

Buffy reached for her attitude, “I'm sure our invitations just got lost in the mail.” She was ignored.

“It's delicious.” Drusilla licked her fingers and continued, addressing Angel. “I only dreamed you'd come.” Her small smile was gleeful and she pretend growled.

“Leave her alone.” Angel demanded. He was trying not to panic. Panic would get Buffy killed. He needed to get her out of there somehow.

“Yeah, that'll work. Now say 'pretty please'.” Spike was smirking. The bastard was smirking. Actually grinning over the thought of Angel’s beautiful love being burned to death. It wasn’t surprising, but it was maddening.

The Judge spoke for the first time, “The girl.” He was easy to overlook in his stillness, despite being tall, blue and covered in scales and horns.

“Chilling, isn't it?” Dru queried sharply and with disgust. “She's so full of good intention.”

Angel threw himself forward, between Buffy and the Judge. “Take me!” he shouted. It was desperate, but he was hoping it would provide some means of escape for her.

Buffy saw this and her heart began to pound. Angel was going to die, her dream would come true and there was no way to stop it. “No!” she cried. *Angel don’t!*

He ignored her. “Take me instead of her!”

“Uh, you're not clear on the concept, pal,” Spike said, dashing Angel’s hopes. “There is no instead. Just first and second.” Spike spoke as though addressing a dimwit he was out of patience with.

“And if you go first,” Dru added happily, “You don't get to watch the Slayer die.”

As the Judge reached for Buffy Angel looked frantically for a way out. He saw Buffy preparing to kick the demon and shouted to her, “Don't touch him!” she, of course, kicked him anyhow. Angel’s gaze lead up to the ceiling and he saw an opportunity. He yanked on the chains leading to Spike’s video equipment as the Judge stumbled back, and sent the electronics crashing through the floor.

“This way!” Buffy shouted, and they dove into the hole. They ran through the sewers pausing only long enough to lose the vampires following them then climbed the nearest ladder back to the surface.

“Come on. We need to get inside.” Angel pulled her after him and they ran for his apartment. By the time they got there both were soaked through to the skin and Buffy was shaking so hard Angel wondered why her teeth weren’t falling out. “You're shaking like a leaf,” he said, concerned. He wanted to hold her, warm her with his nonexistent body heat, and regretted more than ever that he was a vampire.

Wanting nothing more than to snuggle into Angel’s arms and forget about the panic and fear Buffy shook her head to focus and simply said, “Cold.”

“Let me get you something.” He got some clothes from his armoire and handed them to her. “Put these on. Get under the covers, just to warm up.” Buffy walked over to his bed, sat down and looked up at him. For a moment Angel didn’t know what she wanted. Then he realised that she was waiting for him to give her some privacy. He turned away muttering, “Sorry.” Why he had been thinking she would let him watch her undress was beyond him although he knew why he hadn’t turned away. *Hope springs eternal,* he thought wryly.

Buffy took off her top shirt, winced and inhaled in pain. She was startled when Angel spoke. ”What?” he asked.

“Oh, um... It's okay. I just have a cut or something.” Buffy said, willing the pounding of her heart to stop. *He’s fine. We’re both fine. Why can’t I stop thinking about how sexy he looks when he’s wet? Or anytime for that matter?*

“Can I... Lemme see.” Buffy felt her heart move from double time to quadruple. She clutched her shirt to her chest. Thinking quickly, deciding what was appropriate. Her mouth disconnected from her brain and said what the non intellectual parts of her wanted to say.

”Okay.” Buffy felt her whisper was too loud in the moment. Then Angel sat down on the bed behind her. Buffy stopped thinking about whether Angel should be seeing her like this, and began thinking about the fact that he was seeing her like this. He gently touched her back and looked at the cut.

Angel was amazed that anyone, nevermind the Slayer trusted him enough to turn their backs on him and let him touch them that closely. “It's already closed. You're fine,” he told her softly. The fact that he had almost lost her less then an hour before made him treasure this moment all the more as he listened to her heart beat. Buffy leaned back into him and cuddled her face to his. He put his arms around her knowing she wanted to be held, and wanting himself to hold her after this terrible day. He wanted to know she was real.

“You almost went away today.” she said softly. Buffy suddenly realised that the time was now. They had almost lost each other and she didn’t want to go into battle against the Judge without Angel knowing how much she loved him.

Angel tightened his grip a little as he responded. “We both did.” He wanted her so badly right now. To make her forget that she was in danger. It seemed, too often of late, the only time she said his name was as a warning that there was something behind him. He wanted her to arch under him and cry out his name in pleasure.

Buffy let out a soft sob. “Angel. . . I feel like I lost you. . .” she sniffled and then continued her thought *Carpe diem* “You're right, though. We can't be sure of anything.”

Angel broke in he didn’t want her to think like that “Shhh. I...” he broke off. The words just weren’t coming. She turned around to look at him.

“You what?”

Suddenly it all came out in a rush, as though he was afraid she would stop him. “I love you. I try not to, but I can't stop.”

“Me, me, too. I can't either.” Buffy’s voice was full of tears as she said this. Then they were leaning together their lips touching, exploring as though for the first time. Before the kiss could get too involved Angel broke it off. This was going too far. *She’s young, she doesn’t know what she’s getting into. All she wants is comfort but if we keep on like this I don’t know if I can stop myself.*

“Buffy, maybe we shouldn't. . .” Angel’s voice cut through the soft warm haze that Buffy felt enveloping her. She knew he was trying to protect her, but she didn’t want that. She wanted him. She wanted to feel him against her, feel his love as more than just words and a funny warmth in her chest.

Buffy spoke staring deep into his eyes. Angel felt as though he were about to drown in those hazel pools, “Don't. Just kiss me.”

She was straddling his lap, and Angel could feel his hard-on as it strained from his need to be inside her. He could also smell her arousal and the soft plea of her voice was just too much for his fragile self-control. He leaned slightly forward and kissed her, letting her take the lead. No matter what, she would make all the decisions tonight. This was for her.

Buffy felt the moment he gave in to what they both wanted and gently pushed him down to the bed as they kissed. There was a bulge at the crotch of his pants again, and Buffy silently marvelled that she could do that to someone like Angel. They lay there kissing for several minute before Buffy realised they seemed to have hit their usual plateau. She pulled away to berate him, but when she looked into Angel’s eyes she realised he was letting her set the pace and her heart swelled a little more with love for this vampire.

She wasn’t sure what to do, so she just took a page from a bodice ripper she’d just finished reading, and picked up his hands, placing them over her breasts. They gasped together as he gently began to squeeze them. Buffy felt her head fall back as he gently massaged her tingling mounds and teased her nipples to hardness. Her awareness shrank down to the points of contact between them. Her hips also began to move of their own accord, and Buffy felt Angel rocking in time with her. She whimpered as heat speared through her on a well-timed thrust.

Angel was actually rather startled when Buffy so confidently placed his hands on her breasts, but she was in charge, so he began to play with them. He was immediately rewarded with a soft moan and the sight of her arching into his hands. He had never seen anything more erotic in all his years as this small, inexperienced, slayer undulating over him. His erection, which had been making his slacks fairly uncomfortably tight before, swelled as he took in the sight of Buffy’s wanton abandon at his touch. He also didn’t think he could be happier than at that moment, with her trust and love so clearly demonstrated for him, unworthy vampire that he was.

Almost as though she was reading his mind and his need for her, Angel was startled when he hips began to rock against his, providing too much temptation for him not to rock back. He could feel himself impossibly becoming harder with each sensual roll of her hips, and strove to meet her thrusts. They continued like that for a little longer, when suddenly she was urgently tugging him upright and trying to get all his clothes off at once. He knew exactly how she felt, but made no move to touch her without her permission.

The rocking motion felt really good, but suddenly it wasn’t enough, and Buffy wanted to feel Angel’s bare skin. She also knew that the whole sex thing involved not wearing clothes, and the throbbing inside her intensified at the thought of seeing Angel with nothing on. That decided her next course of action which was to get Angel out of his wet sweater. It was moulded appealingly over his sculptured torso, but she wanted to see the torso and not wet wool.

Feverishly she tugged the shirt off and, seized be a moment of boldness reached for his slacks. There was a momentary struggle to undo the button and zipper, then they were being pulled down his legs. Shoes! She’d forgotten to take off his shoes and now his pants were all bunched up at his feet, and she felt like a complete moron. She began to blush as she thought about her behaviour and started to wonder what Angel thought. She looked up, blushing, expecting to see him laughing at her.

When she stopped and turned a lovely shade of pink, Angel was sure she had lost her nerve. She stopped tugging at his pants and looked up at him. Angel ignored his nudity and cupped her face in his hands and said, “Buffy. Buffy, if you don’t want to do this you don’t have to.” He grimly ignored the nearly painful erection he had, and boy was it encouraging that he listen it and not to Buffy, and added, “This is about what you want.”

There was a pause, during which Angel prepared himself to get dressed again, and it ended when Buffy pounced on him again and finished getting his clothes off. This time there was no hesitation when Buffy reached out and gently squeezed his cock in her hand. Angel hadn’t quite expected things to get this far. Not really. His hips bucked up at that gentle touch and he moaned, “Buffy.” She was leaning over him so closely that it became too much and Angel pulled her head down to kiss him.

Buffy wasn’t quite certain what happened. One second she’s on top and touching him, the next, Angel had rolled them over and he was taking her pants and shoes off. When he forgot about the shoes too, and even made a cranky growly noise about it, Buffy stopped feeling like a goof. Then his mouth went somewhere she didn’t think mouths ever went and stopped thinking period.

He licked her and Buffy could only whimper and buck with the most amazing sensations she had ever felt. She wasn’t quite sure what he was doing down there, only that it involved his mouth and hands and rapidly increasing waves of mind-numbing pleasure. They just kept building and building, until suddenly, they all came crashing down on her and Buffy helplessly surrendered to them.

Angel smiled as he watched Buffy writhing in her orgasm. She was shrieking his name and was simply the most sensuous thing he had ever seen. As she came down, he moved overtop her. Then she took the initiative again and rolled them so that she was on top. She smiled at him and, with a nearly undetectable quaver in her voice, said, “I think it’s my turn.” Angel was about to tell her that she didn’t have to and that she shouldn’t try to keep score or pay him back. However, that was when she started to gently suck on the head of his cock, and Angel lost his ability to coherently verbalise.

“Buff- I- Oh God!” She was clearly inexperienced, but it didn’t matter because it felt so damned good. Angel just lay there, whimpering and trying not to thrust into Buffy’s mouth and choke her. He was even too late as he gasped, “Buffy! Buffy I’m going to-”

Buffy heard him start to say something, but her mouth was abruptly full of a viscous fluid. Reflexively she swallowed, and heard Angel groan. “Angel?”

“God Buffy. You didn’t have to,” he said. His voice sent shivers down her spine, and Buffy felt herself becoming aroused again. She lay down beside him putting her head on his chest, and let Angel wrap his arms around her. It felt nice.

“I wanted to,” she responded once they’d settled. “I still wanna . . . I mean, I you want to.” Buffy left it hanging, still too shy to say the words out loud.

He looked her in the eye and asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she replied, “I just don’t know how . . .”

Angel shushed her with a kiss and took the lead again. This time he moved slowly as he positioned himself. He asked her again, “Are you sure, Buffy?” She just nodded in response and Angel slowly slid into her. She was tight and hot and wet and everything he had ever fantasised about his slayer. Angel began taking short thrusts into her. Small ones, driving himself insane, that reached her hymen and no further. He felt himself press against it and started to ask one last time.

Buffy felt him pause and glared. “If you ask one more time if I’m sure, when we’re finished here I’m putting you in the hospital.” Angel reached between them and, with a few deft movements of his hand, sent her over the edge again. As Buffy shrieked his name, he pushed through to seat himself fully inside her.

Buffy felt a really unbelievable pain shoot through her and realised that Angel must have gone the rest of the way in. He lay completely still inside her and Buffy held still waiting for the pain to subside. When it did, she started to wriggle. Angel felt so good, a solid, cool length inside her, she started to move enjoying the way every motion shifted him around. He still refused to move. Finally Buffy looked up to see Angel, his jaw clenched as though he was in pain, and his eyes closed. “Angel.”

He had been concentrating with all his might on not moving until she was ready. He was concentrating so hard that when she said his name and twisted sharply beneath him, he was startled. The movement broke the spell and Angel slowly slid back until just the tip was inside her. Buffy gasped at the delicious feelings it evoked and whined when he didn’t move fast enough for her.

Every motion was languid and carefully angled to touch every sensitive part of her. Angel clung to his self-control and revelled in the perfection that was Buffy. The way she was clinging to him, her gasps of pleasure and the heat of her as she clenched around him. Finally, even his iron control broke and Angel sped up the pace, feeling his climax approaching rapidly. He reached between them and pinched her clit, sending Buffy spiralling into her orgasm. Angel relaxed into his own at the same moment and dimly realised he had been wrong before. He had thought he couldn’t be any happier when Buffy had asked him to make love to her, but he was lying in bed with a - no, his, dishevelled slayer, and in the afterglow of lovemaking and with her falling asleep in his arms . . . It was perfection.


Angel woke with a start and gasped for air as he sat up. He had been having a bizarre nightmare in which he was fighting the demon in himself in hand to hand combat. For a brief moment the demon struggled, far more strongly than he could recall it having done before. Then it subsided and Angel remembered what had happened earlier that night. If it weren’t for the fact that Buffy was still pressed tightly against him he would have thought he had just had the best wet dream in the history of erotic fantasies. Angel didn’t know how long he sat there comfortably stroking Buffy, assuring himself of her reality.

It was a while however, and the only thing that finally got Angel up was that someone had to check in with Giles. Angel walked over to the phone he had had installed after the third time Giles had bothered him with an obscure prophecy. Only two people ever called anyhow. Giles, who only called when Angel was sleeping, and Buffy, who only called when she couldn’t sleep.

He sighed, got up, and dialled the library’s number. On the fourth ring he heard Giles’ tired voice answer. “Hello?”

“Giles, it’s me, Angel. We’re alright. I’m sorry we didn’t call sooner but we got into a situation.”

“The Judge, i-is he. . .” Giles asked sounding extremely concerned.

“No assembly required. He's active.” Angel responded.

“Oh, damn it.” the watcher’s voice was very soft and told of the strain the last several hours had placed on him.

“He nearly killed us.” Angel continued, “I managed to get us out of there, but Buffy touched the Judge. She’s fine though. Right now she’s asleep. Like I said before, I’m sorry I didn’t check in sooner, but I was so worried about Buffy it slipped my mind. When she’s awake I’ll send her over, okay?” Angel didn’t think it would be taken the best way by all concerned if the latest step his and Buffy’s relationship had taken was to come out in the open at that moment.

“Of course.” The two hung up.

While Angel was on the phone, Buffy stirred in his bed and reached over for him. When she didn't find him there she sat up in bed. Outside it was still raining hard, and lightning flashed. She looked around the room again, but Angel was nowhere to be seen. “Angel?” She called softly. There was no response, and Buffy began to feel worried. Just as she was about to get dressed and hunt for him in the rain he appeared.

“Hey, how do you feel?” He asked with that sideways smile of his.

“Wonderful.” she said with a smile, and then hit him with a pillow. “Don’t you ever do that to me again! I was so scared you’d gone out to kill the Judge on your own! If you ever make me scared like that I’ll make sure that you can’t walk for a week!” Buffy exclaimed, punctuating the sentence with blows from the pillow. “And what’s more . . .” she never got to finish the sentence as Angel’s mouth closed over hers.


Buffy quietly opened the kitchen door, looked around, came in and carefully closed it behind her. She kept an eye out for her mother as she headed for the stairs. Once there she started up, stomping rather loudly. Her mother, hearing her, came to the base of the stairs. ”Morning.” Buffy stopped and came back down a few steps.

“Morning,” Buffy responded, hoping her mother wouldn’t notice that her daughter had just had sex that morning with the most gorgeous man, in Buffy’s humble opinion, on the face of the earth.

“So, did you have fun last night?” her mom asked. Buffy couldn’t remember where she was supposed to have been last night.

“Fun?” *Fun doesn’t even begin to explain how good last night was despite Mr. I’m-gonna-burn-the-world-to-death guy*

“At Willow's.” Joyce prompted. *Oh yeah, for my birthday, sleepover at Willow’s, round robin, right*

“Yeah.” Buffy smiled. "Willow" was fun last night. “Yeah, fun at Willow's. You know, she's a fun machine.”

“You hungry?” her mom asked.

“No.” *Not for food* came the irreverent thought, “Uh, no, I-I'm, uh, just gonna go take a shower.”

Her mother smiled slightly, “Well, if you hurry, I'll run you to school.”

“Thanks.” Buffy paused as Joyce folded her arms and looked up at her daughter curiously.

“Is something wrong?” she asked. Buffy's eyes went wide, but she quickly regained her composure. Her mother couldn't possibly tell just by looking at her that she had just slept with somebody could she? It wasn’t as if sex made you break out in spots. Well, sometimes it did, but that was different, and it didn’t happen overnight and...

“No. What would be wrong?” *Don’t guess, don’t guess, please don’t guess.*

“I don't know. You just look. . .” the woman shook her head, smiled, and went into the dining room. Buffy breathed a deep sigh of relief and headed up the stairs.


Buffy entered the library with a bounce in her step. She had been feeling that she was definitely going to lose Angel, but now, things just felt brighter. Especially after she and Angel had their fun that morning.

“Buffy!” Willow’s voice held relief. Buffy smiled at her, “Are you okay?”

“Fine Will,” she replied.

Ms Calendar broke in. “Where's Angel?”

Buffy looked at her in surprise, “At home, that’s where he spends his days.” The teacher seemed about to say something else but Giles broke in.

“Buffy, the Judge, we, we must stop him.” he said, bringing all of the worries of the previous night back.

“I know.” she said quietly. Giles was right about one thing, they had to focus. Angel still could die, and Buffy wanted to prevent the annihilation of the human race.

“What can you tell us?” he asked.

Buffy shivered to think of it. “Not much. I, um. . . I kicked him. It was just like a sudden fever. If he'd got his hands on me. . .” This was the first opponent she had run into she couldn’t fight hand to hand. All the others had always been difficult yes, but she could touch them. *Not in the bad way though, not like Angel-type touching.* She amended mentally.

Giles looked concerned. “In time, he won't need to. The stronger he gets, he'll be able to reduce us to charcoal with a look.” *Not good,* she thought, *What if he does that to Angel?*

“Also, not the prettiest man in town,” she said to cover up her nervousness

Giles didn’t even note her flippancy. “I had better continue researching, must look for a weak spot. The rest of you should get to your classes.” With little other choice they left him to his work.

“Yeah, I better go, too.” said Ms Calendar. Buffy was the first one out the door. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Xander standing, holding the door open and muttering to himself. She shrugged and ignored it.

“Buffy, wait up!” Buffy saw Willow coming after her and slowed her pace slightly. She was about to go up the stairs when Willow caught up and stopped her. ”You don't think Angel would have gone after the Judge himself, do you?”

“No, he'd know better than that. Besides, I just saw him this morning. He is not going after the Judge alone. Least of all without me,” Buffy said definitely. “We have a whole new ‘no going after the baddies alone without backup’ rule.” The two headed to class and the discussion was halted.


Cordelia walked by the counter looking through a book. She had joined in wholeheartedly, saying that if the Judge wasn’t killed all the stores in town would shut down and she wasn’t going to deal with that. So, she had been relatively quiet except for her frequent insults of Xander who was lying on top of the counter, also studying a book. Giles was in his office reading through some large, dusty non-English tome. Buffy had settled herself on the stairs and was flipping through a large volume actually entitled “The Idiot’s Guide to Demons and Demonology”. Ms. Calendar had stepped out for coffee and food.

Suddenly Xander slammed his book shut and jumped off of the counter. “Nada,” he said by way of explanation, and wandered off to reshelve the book. It was a short while later when Willow decided the book she was reading wasn’t being of any use either and went to shelve it as well. Moments later she emerged from the stacks running. She ran out the door with Xander going after her, and everyone in the library heard the sounds of shouting voices. Xander arrived back a couple of minutes later without Willow. The look on his face prevented any questions.

Buffy went to the phone and, in the privacy of the office, told Angel that Willow was probably out and that he should keep an eye out for her when he came out later that evening.


Angel was heading to the school when he saw Willow standing outside looking depressed. “Hey, you okay?” he asked.

“Xander decided he likes a girl he hates more than he likes me, his best friend.” Willow said. “I mean Cordelia! He was treasurer of the ‘We Hate Cordelia Club’! And he knew how I felt about him! I know ‘cause when he was a hyena he told me that he didn’t want to be around me and stuff, and I know he liked Buffy better, ‘cause of that whole thing where he tried to get her to do stuff with him and Buffy had to knock him out-”

“Woah Willow, slow down. I think - Stuff? What kind of stuff?” Angel demanded, distracted by the notion of that . . . child touching his lover. Then he focussed. “Nevermind. Willow, Xander is, despite his good qualities, occasionally a bit thick. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, and Xander can’t possibly be happy about falling for Cordelia.” Angel started to head up the stairs and Willow followed. “If they dislike each other as much as they appear to then they may very well break up. Don’t let it bother you. I was a lot like that at Xander’s age, loathe though I am to admit it, It’ll take Xander a while to see past the bustle and corset. Or miniskirt and push up bra.”

Willow looked at Angel and smiled hopefully “You really think so?” Angel looked down at the girl who was the only person he knew besides Buffy who had unconditionally accepted him. He hoped she would find someone who made her happy, because he considered her a friend. ”’Cause if Cordelia doesn’t look like that naturally then there may be hope for me!”

Angel laughed. “Maybe. You coming?”

“Yeah I gotta face him sometime,” Willow said with a shrug.

They headed down the hall in companionable silence. Partway to the library, the door to the boy’s bathroom swung open and Xander stepped out. Angel promptly faded into the background when Xander saw them and headed over. “Will.” she hugged her arms around herself and turned to face him.


“Where'd you go?” The anxiety on Xander’s face was evident, and Angel admitted to himself that, whatever Xander’s faults were, he was a loyal friend and Willow needed to remember that.

“Home,” she said laconically.

Xander seemed as uncomfortable as Willow. “I'm glad you came back. We can't do this without you.”

“Let's get this straight. I don't understand it, I don't wanna understand it, you have gross emotional problems, and things are not okay between us.” Willow paused as she saw the crestfallen look on Xander’s face, “But what's happening right now is more important than that.”

“Okay.” Angel was surprised, he hadn’t expected that level of maturity out of the boy.

“What about the Judge? Where do we stand?” Willow asked.

“On a pile of really boring books that say exactly the same thing.” Xander responded.

“Lemme guess: 'no weapon forged.'” Angel cut in.

Xander leaped nearly five feet off the floor. “How the hell do you do that? A guy could have a heart attack!” He took a calming breath and continued. “But yeah, that and 'It took an army.'”

“Yeah, where's an army when you need one?” Willow said, with a slight smile. “What?” Angel looked at Xander, and saw that the boy’s face had a thoughtful expression on it. *Now there’s something I never thought I would hear in the same sentence with Xander’s name, thoughtful.*

“Whoa. Whoa! I think I'm having a thought.” *Must be a first, otherwise he’d recognize it* “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's a thought. Now I'm having a plan.”

Ms. Calendar appeared in the hall opposite Angel holding up a cross. ”Willow, get away from him,” she said. Willow and Xander looked pretty confused.

“What?” Willow said. Xander began peering into the darkness behind Angel to see what he was missing.

“Walk to me.” Ms. Calendar insisted.

“What are you talking about? It's Angel,” Willow said, starting to get what Ms. Calendar was talking about.

Angel was simply confused. “Ms. Calendar, really, I’m not going to hurt anyone.”

“Get away from her. I know what happened to you, now move.” Angel was startled as Jenny Calendar ran at him with the cross extended and nearly gave him a third degree burn in the process. Then Xander tackled her and together they managed to disarm her.


Giles paced back and forth, while Angel quietly talked to Jenny Calendar. Xander stood to the side while Willow and Cordelia sat at the table. Jenny was leaning against the shelves in the weapons cage. Buffy stood in the middle of the floor, watching the computer teacher, her nerves completely shot. Suddenly Angel reached over grabbed the keys and let Jenny Calendar out. “Angel,” Buffy started, “Are you sure she won’t try to kill you again?”

“I won’t Buffy,” said Ms. Calendar, “It was a misunderstanding, that’s all.”

“Great,” Cordelia said, “We have an unkillable demon in town, Ms. Calendar’s a basket case,” The dirty look Ms. Calendar sent in Cordy’s direction didn’t even phase her, “I’d say we’ve hit rock bottom.”

“I have a plan,” Xander said.

“Oh, no, here's a lower place.” Cordelia’s voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard grating on already frazzled nerves.

Xander ignored his kinda-sorta-almost-maybe girlfriend. “I think I may have a way to deal with this Judge guy.” He sat on the table by Cordelia.

“What do we do?” asked Willow.

Xander looked a little hesitant. “I think, um. . .” He glanced between the two girls before he spoke. “I think I may need Cordelia for this one.” Willow lowered her eyes for just an instant. “Or Buffy.” Angel’s head shot up simultaneously with Willow’s and he stared at Xander intently. Buffy found herself wondering what sort of plan would make her and Cordelia interchangeable. ”And we may need wheels.” Xander continued, apparently oblivious to that particular byplay.

“Well, my car is-” Cordelia began.

Xander cut her off. “It might have to be bigger.”

“No problem. I'll get Oz. He has a van.” Willow sounded very smug with her contribution.

Xander nodded then turned to Buffy and Cordelia. “Good. Okay. Which of you lovely ladies wants to help me out with phase one?”

“Why do you want Buffy or Cordelia?” Angel demanded belligerently. “What do they have that no one else here has that you need so much help with?”

“Well, if you want Cordelia and Buffy can come with, and so can you, but then you guys’ll need to keep quiet no matter what. Got it?”

“Fine.” Angel said. He didn’t trust the little weasel alone with Buffy for one second, in spite the fact that Xander had saved everyone’s lives on more than one occasion.

“Care to let me in on the plan I'm a part of?” Cordelia demanded of her kinda-sorta-almost-maybe boyfriend.

“No.” Xander said.

“Why not?”

“Because if I tell you, then you won't do it. And if you won’t do it, then I have to go alone with Buffy, and Angel won’t let me do that, and then we’ll have to come up with a new plan, and by then all the employees of Gap will be an ashy memory.” He took a deep breath and stared her down. “Just meet me at Willow's house in half an hour. And wear something trashy. . .” he looked over her outfit. “. . . er." Cordelia was incensed and stormed out.

Angel and Buffy followed more sedately. Xander rapidly explained to them, without Cordelia, what the plan was. Angel and Xander were to pretend to be a couple of soldiers at the local army base. They would sneak in, and if caught would say that Cordelia and Buffy were local girls being used for a one night stand.

The plan went over fine, despite Angel’s trademark stealthiness and catlike grace vanishing. This was caused by the indecently low skirt Buffy wore which actually showed more than it covered. His evening was spent being poked by Buffy at each phase of the plan and not throwing her against the wall to perform acts of carnal depravity.


Xander and Oz lifted the long crate onto Giles’ desk. ”Happy Birthday, Buffy. I hope you like the colour," Xander said. Buffy looked down at the box while Giles positioned a crowbar on the lock and started to work it off.

“Giles, we go to the factory first, but they might not be there. They're on the offensive. We need to figure out where they'd go.” Buffy said when Giles broke the clasp.

“Agreed.” was the response, and he opened the box.

“This is good,” Buffy said, looking at the large tube shaped thing which lay in the box. A bazooka or something. Buffy hadn’t been paying attention to Xander’s enthusiastic description of the weapon’s capabilities. She had been looking at Angel as he bent over to pick up a stake Buffy had dropped. The view had been very nice indeed.

“Do you, uh. . .” Ms. Calendar stood in the doorway. “Is there something I can do?”

Buffy smiled at the woman, she was good for Giles, and Angel had assured her that the misunderstanding had been entirely his fault. “Yeah, you can come with when we blow up Big Blue. But right now you should probably get some rest.” She glanced around the room. “That applies to everyone.”

“Do you want me to show you how to use it?” Xander asked.

“Yes, I do.” Buffy smiled inwardly. This was going to be nice. She didn’t get to blow stuff up very often.


Spike's warehouse was deserted. “I knew it,” Buffy hissed in annoyance.

“We haven't a bead on where they would go?” Giles said. Buffy tried to think.

“I don't know, uh. . . somewhere crowded, I guess. I mean, the Judge needs bodies, right?” she suggested, hoping someone would bail her out.

“The Bronze?” Willow suggested

Xander scrapped that idea. “It's closed tonight.”

“There's not a lot of choices in Sunnydale. It's not like people are gonna line up to get massacred.” Cordelia put in.

“Uh, guys?” Oz held up his hand for attention, “If I were gonna line up, I know where I'd go.”


The elevator doors opened and Buffy strode out. Giles and Xander followed carrying the crate on their shoulders, the others brought up the rear. ”Everybody keep back. Damage control only. Take out any lesser vamps if you can. I'll handle the Smurf.” Angel watched as Buffy strode forward, her shoulders set. She looked beautiful. A slayer in her element.

The group arrived at the main doors to the mall and they stared as the Judge reached out and sent a crackling red lightning through the people near him. Dru was practically bouncing with glee, clapping her hands, “Oh, goody!” she giggled.

Buffy was on top of the snack counter now, and fired off a shot from her crossbow. The arcs of energy disappeared, leaving the people relatively unharmed. The Judge grabbed the bolt and pulled it from his chest. ”Who dares?”

“Think I got his attention.” Buffy’s cheeky voice cut through the silence.

“You're a fool,” The Judge said, smug and self assured. “No weapon forged can stop me.”

Off to the side, Angel saw a couple of teenagers beginning to panic. They started to run for an exit, and were stopped by a couple of vampires. The vampires were obviously about to feed, so Angel went and joined in the fray.

Back at the centerstage standoff, Buffy was lowering her crossbow. “That was then.” Xander handed her the weapon from the box, and she raised the anti-tank rocket launcher to her shoulder. ”This is now.” She powered it on, set her sights and opened the trigger guard. The rest of the team took cover behind the snack counter. Drusilla began to run, obviously familiar enough with the weaponry to recognise it as a danger. The Judge, on the other hand, just looked at her. Drusilla leaped over the stair railing as Buffy took aim.

“What's that do?” were the last words from the Judge’s mouth. Buffy pulled the trigger and the rocket flew straight into the Judge's chest. As Drusilla went over the railing the Judge disappeared in an explosion of flame and smoke. The vampiress hit the floor below, freaked, and took off. Bits of charred Judge fell all around them. Buffy looked up from the rocket launcher's sights in time to see a blazing chunk of Judge fall and hit Angel. He went down, and Buffy saw a puff of dust come up from where he had been standing behind the makeup counter.

“Angel!” Buffy’s panicked voice cut across the building. She ran for the counter and saw a pile of ash. She saw a claddagh ring in the pile of dust. “Oh God, Angel. No,” Buffy whispered. Angel’s death had been an accident. Drusilla hadn’t killed him, he had died from sheer carelessness. Buffy shook herself from her stupor as Willow touched her shoulder gently.

“Do you think he's dead?” Willow asked. Buffy was furious for a moment. *What did she mean do I think he’s dead! Of course he’s dead! He’s a pile of ash, and it’s my fault!* Then it hit her that Willow meant the Judge. Buffy pulled herself together. When she got home tonight, she would cry. Right now she needed to focus.

“We can't be sure. Pick up the pieces and keep them separate.” They all started over to collect what was left of the Judge.

In the background, Buffy heard Cordelia’s voice. “Pieces? We get the pieces. Our job sucks!” Buffy smiled a bit through her grief and then bent over to help. Parts of the Judge lay everywhere and were still burning. The smoke reached the sprinklers and they turned on everywhere. *Just what we need,* thought Buffy sourly. *Angel’s dead and I have to go home looking like a drowned rat.*

Oz’s voice brought her back to reality “Uh. . . Arm.”


Buffy sat in Giles’ car and just reflected how her life had taken such a nosedive in the past three days. They stopped outside Buffy’s house. She started to get out when Giles stopped her. “Buffy, I know I haven’t always said your judgment was the best. But Angel was a good man. I know that we will all miss him.”

“Even Xander?” Buffy said, trying to put on a brave face. She wanted to crawl into a hole and die right then, but to let Giles know that just wasn’t in the cards. Maybe she would talk to Willow in a few days.

“Even Xander.” Giles smiled gently. “He’ll miss having a convenient scapegoat around, but he’s too good of a friend to you to make you suffer right now. He also liked Angel despite his posturing.”

This last bit was too much for Buffy and she flung herself into her watcher’s arms, sobbing. She cried for the fact that she had just lost the one man who understood her and didn’t treat her as though she was some kind of freak. Her watcher just held her, but the difference between his arms and Angel’s only underscored her grief. Her love was gone.


Buffy stared at the T.V. not really seeing the black and white images moving across it. She was remembering her and Angel’s only night together. . .

Her mother came in holding a plate with two cupcakes, one with a candle, and a large coffee mug.

. . . The way he had let her take the lead in their night. The way he had been so startled when she touched him. . .

“Did I miss anything?” her mom asked.

“Um. . . just some singing and some running around.”

Her mother set down the plate and mug and looked around for the matches. “Mm. I'm sorry I didn't have time to make you a real cake.”

Her guardian angel.

“No. This is good.” Buffy responded dully.

Joyce sat back on the couch with her feet up. ”But we're still going shopping on Saturday. So what'd you do for your birthday? Did you have fun?” She leaned back to the table and struck a match to light the candle. The wick started to burn and she blew out the match. She set the matchbook and spent match on the table and leaned back on the couch again facing her daughter. ”Happy Birthday. I don't have to sing, do I?”

“No.” Buffy felt dead, or maybe comatose.

“Well, go on, make a wish.” her mother gestured at the candle.

Buffy stared at it for a long moment. Then someone knocked on the door, and Buffy was desperate to get away from this woman who didn’t know anything about her life. Who was acting as though Buffy should be happy, “I’ll get it.” she said launching herself away from the couch, her mother, the love story on T.V. Maybe someone could distract her from the pain Willow, Xander, hell right now she’d be willing to see Cordelia. . .

Angel was waiting behind the door. “Angel? You . . . You’re . . . you’re dead.” Buffy wasn’t sure whether she would be able to take Angel’s ghost haunting her.

“Actually, I’m alive. Or as alive as I ever get,” he said with his usual slight smile.

“How?” she gasped.

“The vampire who got dusted was the one I was fighting. When I fell behind the counter I managed to put out the fire and get away. I went after Drusilla. I thought I could catch up to her, but by the time I reached the warehouse Spike and Dru had already left. I ran into Giles about ten minutes ago and he told me you thought I was dead.”

Buffy stared at him her brain short-circuiting. Then something clicked on in her head and she realised that Angel was still alive.


Joyce heard a squeal of joy out by the door, and walked over to find out what had made her daughter so happy. When she looked she saw her daughter and a dark haired man (who seemed very familiar) kissing in the front hall. Kissing, of course, very loosely describing the activity the pair was engaging in. Suddenly her daughter stepped away from the young man and slapped him. He looked very confused and Joyce couldn’t exactly blame him. Her daughter soon resolved that confusion.

“Don’t you ever do that to me again!” she shouted. “I thought you were dead! I was going to spend a year wearing black over you! Do you have any idea what that does to my complexion? The things that little troll Snyder would do if he saw that? If you ever pull anything like that I’ll-” she was cut off as the young man grabbed her and kissed her, long and hard. They broke apart a minute later and they both were panting.

“I’m still mad,” her daughter said, but her voice lacked much of her earlier conviction.

“Let’s see if I can’t change that,” replied the man, whom Joyce abruptly recalled was a college student Buffy had claimed was her history tutor. *What was his name? Oh yeah, Angel.* He leaned forward and kissed Buffy again. This time Joyce could have sworn she saw his hands slide up and under her daughter’s skirt. When they stopped he asked, “Are you still mad at me?”

“Why would I be mad at you?” Buffy sounded surprised. The couple smiled at each other and kissed again. Joyce felt it was now time to intervene. She had wondered why her daughter had been so depressed all evening and now she knew. Now it was time to meet Prince Charming there.

“Sweetie, would you introduce me to your boyfriend?”


The End