SPOILERS: not really...this is completely non-canon.
CONTENT:some kissing, angst, and mushy romantic stuff
SUMMARY:This story is what might have happened between Buffy and Angel on Valentine's Day if he hadn't lost his soul. (Since in this story Angel still has his soul, I guess assume that he and Buffy haven't had sex.)
DISCLAIMER:I don't own the characters. Joss Whedon, the WB and Fox do. I just play here.
DEDICATION: To HACKER...who suggested that I write this story and who desperately needs a Buffy/Angel romance fix.
and to DARE...for her loyalty to snot boy and for throwing roses when all I deserve is thorns.

Words enclosed in * * are thoughts.


by: Rebecca Carefoot

Buffy hesitated a moment before knocking on Angel's door. She stared down at her mud covered clothes. This was not part of the plan. It was Valentine's Day, and she had wanted to look perfect. Of course a little un-scheduled slayage had blown that to hell, and the fact that it had been raining all day had not helped. She had landed in one of the virtual lakes the rain had created and found herself covered in mud. Damn the vampires, they never left her alone for a second. She smothered a giggle as she realized that she was meeting her vampire boyfriend at the moment. *Ok...don't damn all of them,* she amended. *Damn all the ones without souls.*

She considered going home to change, but she was already late; and she figured she could change into some of Angel's clothes once she got inside. Summoning her resolve, she knocked on the door. There was no answer. She hesitated another moment. *Ok, what now?* After a small internal debate she tried the knob and found it was open. She wasn't sure what to expect as she cautiously opened the door to the apartment. *Why wouldn't he answer? He better not have forgotten Valentine's Day...our first Valentine's Day as a couple.*

Once she was inside all thoughts that he had forgotten vanished from her mind; and she let the bag in her hand drop gently to the floor. The whole room was lit by a myriad of candles, the golden yellow flames bobbing happily from their perches on every available surface. With an amazed smile on her face, Buffy walked farther into the apartment, still wondering where Angel was. As her eyes searched for the handsome vampire, her gaze settled on a trail of red rose petals. *What?* she wondered to herself. With a little bit of fear she followed the trail, expecting it to lead to the bed and not sure what would come of that.

To her surprise, it did not lead to the bed at all..but to the bathroom. Growing more curious by the second, Buffy cautiously pushed open the bathroom door. The bathtub was filled past the brim with bubbles. A small note was attached to the mirror. Written in Angel's handwriting, the message said, 'Relax. Take a hot bath.' Buffy approached the bath tub and stuck her hand into it past the bubbles to the water...it was the perfect temperature, nice and hot but not scalding.

Feeling a little foolish but knowing that a bath would feel amazing in her dirty, bedraggled state, Buffy closed the bathroom door, stripped, and stepped into the bath. With a soft sigh, she sank down in the water allowing it to soothe her aching muscles and drive the cold from her bones. As she lay in the comfort of the hot water and mounds of bubbles, she allowed her mind to wander. Of course, it returned to its usual subject of contemplation, Angel. A smile curved her lips as she thought of him, of the way his lips felt against hers, of the way his eyes seemed to see right into her heart, and of the way he listened to her when she talked as if each word from her mouth held the key to the universe. *He looks at me like I'm the most beautiful, important thing in the word,* she thought. He was definitely the most important thing in her world.

She realized after a while that her fingers were beginning to wrinkle, and the water was beginning to cool. So she stepped out of the bath languidly, feeling refreshed and lazily tired at the same time. After drying herself with one of the towels, she put on the thick, fluffy white robe that hung on the back of the door. She snuggled into it, glad to be out of her mud spattered clothes.

When she opened the door of the bathroom, there was a new trail of rose petals leading away from the bathroom door. *How did he do this without me noticing?* she wondered. *So much for those famous Slayer senses.* Eagerly she followed the trail to find herself heading to the bed. The trail stopped before reaching the bed; however, at a small coffee table adorned with two long white candles and a single rose in a vase.

Buffy read the small note attached to the rose. 'Sit down,' was all it said. Obligingly Buffy sat down at the end of the table, wondering where Angel was; and why he had yet to make an appearance.

She didn't have to wonder long because in just a few moments Angel approached the table with a plate in hand. The sight of him took Buffy's breath away as she absorbed the image of him decked out in a black tux. She could feel the hormones take over as her mind whispered, *Bond, James Bond.* Her eyes drank him in, staring him up and down. She swallowed a laugh when she saw he was bare-foot. He grinned at her as he sat the plate down on the table, then stood stiffly beside her.

"Would madam care for anything to drink?" he asked in his best Italian waiter voice. Buffy smothered a giggle.

"Madam would like you to join her," she said haughtily.

"It is most unseemly," Angel said, gasping in horror. "I am but a simple waiter." With quick jerk of her arm, Buffy forced the vampire to join her on the floor.

"It's no fun eating by myself," she explained. "I want you to be with me." Angel knew there was no way he could refuse that, so he settled himself more comfortably on the floor. As he tucked his feet underneath himself, Buffy couldn't help but giggle.

"What?" he asked.

"You're wearing a tux and no shoes," Buffy explained. "No shoes, no shirt, no service."

"I'm wearing a shirt..." Angel protested.

"Yes," Buffy agreed. "We'll have to do something about that." Angel raised an eyebrow at her. "At least take off the jacket," she said. "I'm in a robe, you're in a tux...there's something wrong with that."

"Behave...eat your dinner," he ordered, but he did take off the jacket and toss it over on to the bed.

As he undid his bow tie and the top few buttons of his shirt, Buffy turned her attention to the food for the first time. Her mouth dropped open in awe. She stared at it, then at her boyfriend.

"Where did you learn to cook like this?" she asked.

"Italy." he answered simply, motioning toward the manicotti as a signal that she should eat. "Don't get too excited until you taste it," he continued with a grin.

Shaking her head in amazement, Buffy took a small bite of the stuffed shell before her. A sigh escaped her lips as she swallowed the bite.

"You like it?" Angel asked.

"I have never tasted anything this good," Buffy said. "You're been keeping secrets again."

"Well..I don't really use it..." Angel explained.

"Of course. You don't eat...solid food." Buffy said understanding. "Then why did you learn to cook in the first place?" She continued to eat the manicotti, steadily filling her mouth.

"I was bored," he said nonchalantly. "I guess in the back of my mind I was hoping that one day I would have someone to cook for. Although I never thought I would find anyone who would accept me as I am." Buffy turned her attention from the food to Angel.

"But you did," she said firmly. She knew Angel's tendency to beat himself up, doubt himself, and she was determined to reassure him of her love at every turn.

"I did," he whispered, his eyes catching hers and holding them. She found herself leaning toward him, until her lips softly met his. She felt him shudder, throughout the length of his body, then reach out to run his hand down the side of her face. She moved her body closer to him and wrapped her arm around his neck. Their lips continued to meet, then part, then meet again with rising intensity.

Buffy was suddenly uncomfortably aware of the fact that she was naked under the huge white bathrobe. She drew back a little, placing one last kiss on the tip of Angel's nose and settled back down on the floor.

"You know this place is a fire hazard," she said with a smile, joking to lighten the mood.
Angel looked around at the candles slowly melting all over the apartment.

"Maybe I want a little overboard," he admitted sheepishly. "Do you want to finish your dinner?" he asked.

"Oh God,'" Buffy sighed. "I am so full."

"But I made chocolate mousse," Angel protested.

"Well that has possibilities," Buffy said, giving him a sly look.

"I don't know WHAT you're implying," Angel said, his eyes wide and innocent. Impulsively, Buffy leaned forward and licked his lips, then sat back down in one swift movement. Angel's eyes narrowed as he answered her challenge by grabbing her around the waist. His hands moved supernaturally fast, as he found her most ticklish spot and sent her spinning into fits of laughter.

She fought back, pushing him off of her, then pouncing on him with a predatory grin. With skilled fingers she tormented him, making him laugh until tears ran down his face. He struggled, but she continued to tickle.

"Say uncle," she demanded.

"Uncle," he answered obediently. Immediately she stopped her tickling and dropped a kiss on his lips, then she rolled off of him and settled herself next to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and he wrapped his arm around her, holding her close to him. They both lay still, while Buffy caught her breath, reveling in each other's nearness. There was no need for kissing or speaking; they both simply were. They allowed themselves to just exist, and it was perfection because they were existing together.

A little reluctantly, Angel broke the silence.

"Buffy?" he said softly, asking for her permission to speak.

"Hmmm?" she answered, turning her head to look at him.

"Do you ever wish you could have a normal boyfriend?" he asked hesitantly. "One without fangs..."

"Never," she answered firmly. He looked at her disbelievingly, and she modified her statement. "I'll admit...in the beginning I would have given anything to have a normal guy. I would have loved to find some magical spell that made you human...or some way to fall out of love with you so that I could fall for someone from my own species. It would have been easier." Angel nodded, understanding. Buffy turned over on her side, propping her head up on a bent arm. "But that was just in the beginning." Angel turned himself so that he faced her, his eyes searching her face. "I don't want you to be a normal guy," she said. "Then you wouldn't be you. I love you the way you are...a vampire. That's part of who you are, and I wouldn't want it any other way."

"But.." Angel protested. "To have someone who could see you in the sunlight...who could walk down the street with you at noon. Someone who didn't drink blood, or have a demon inside them."

"There are hard things to deal with in every relationship," Buffy answered. "Ours may be a little harder than most." Angel smiled at the understatement. "But think about it. If I had a normal boyfriend, how could he watch my back in a fight? He'd be dead in two seconds. If you weren't what you are, then you wouldn't understand me the way you do. You know what it's like to be different. To be something other than mortal. I would never want you to change." Angel stretched out a tentative hand and softly stroked the side of Buffy's face, pushing loose strands of her hair out of her eyes.

"Thank you," he said.

"It's the truth, Angel," she said matter-of-factly. "You don't have to thank me."

"I don't have to...but I do anyway," he answered with a smile. Buffy scooted her body closer to him, and wrapped her arm around him, holding him close to her.

"Angel, my world is a very tough place. I could never have a normal boyfriend. Only you can survive it. Only you are strong enough to actually help me through scrapes. That's part of why I love you. I know I can lean on you, and you're strong enough to keep me up-right. Anyone else would topple over." Angel chuckled softly.

"You don't weigh THAT much," he said with an evil grin. Gasping in mock anger, Buffy pummeled him with her fist until he rolled over, shaking her loose.

"I'll make ya take dem words back," Buffy snarled, trying to make herself sound like an extra from _Taxi Driver_.

"Are you talkin' to me?" Angel asked, pointing towards himself with his thumb. "I think you is..der's nobody else around. You must be talkin' ta me."

"Ya wanna make sumtin of it?" Buffy asked belligerently. "Maybe wees should take dis outside." She tried to glare angrily at Angel but couldn't keep her smile hidden. "I love you," she confessed, suddenly serious. Angel felt his heart leap the way it did every time he heard her say those words.

"I love you too," Angel answered sincerely. "More than anything else in this world." He thought for a moment. "I know I don't say it enough. But if I said it every second of every day it could never be enough to express how much I love you. You are everything to me, Buffy." His lips covered hers, and she felt herself shiver as his tongue slipped past her lips. Her body felt hot, both from his touch and his words. Her hand crept up his back, to rest for a moment on the back of his neck. When he broke the kiss, Buffy touched his lips gently with the tips of her fingers, then pulled his chin close for another kiss.

Angel allowed himself to forget everything else for a while as he drank in the feel of her skin beneath his hands, the feel of her silky hair in his fingers, the feel of her lips on his. Having her near him was something he never really got used to. It felt as exciting and wonderful each time as it had felt the first time they had kissed. Beautiful Buffy. He still couldn't understand why she would want to be with him. But that didn't matter. It was enough that she was here in his arms. Angel almost gasped as her warm hands ran across his cold skin. Warmth to cold. Dark to light. Day to night. *No matter how different we are...I guess we do fit together,* Angel decided. She was his other half, and he would have it no other way.

Buffy smiled up at the vampire that lay in her arms when he paused in kissing her. She couldn't explain it, but being with him made her happy. It wasn't something she could control. It just was. Whether they were kissing, or just talking. Whether he stood across the room or held her hand, he made her smile. She rested her head gently under his chin, loving the feel of his arms around her. *It was the safest feeling in the world,* she decided.

"Want me to give you your present now?" Angel whispered. Buffy lay silently in his arms. He waited a moment for an answer, then peered down at her face. Her eyes were shut, and her breathing deep and slow against his chest. She was asleep. A smile stretched across his face as he kissed the top of her head lightly. Then he settled back and lay still on the ground, allowing her rhythmic breathing and the feel of her breath against his skin to lull him into sleep as well.

* * * * * * * *
Buffy opened her eyes a few hours later, and blinked slowly. *Wha...?* she thought, confused. She shifted and realized that she was lying on the ground wrapped in Angel's arms. As she looked at his face, peacefully still in sleep, his eyes flew open.

"Hello, sleepy head," she said with a grin.

"Sleepyhead yourself...Who fell asleep first?" he challenged. She kissed him, effectively stopping him from talking. When she broke the kiss, she rose to her feet. Angel lay unmoving, watching his girlfriend, until she grabbed his hands and dragged him to his feet.

"It's time for presents," she announced.

"Ok," he answered, smothering a yawn. "I'll get yours first."

"Goodie," Buffy said happily. "I love presents." Angel disappeared into the other room and returned with three flat packages.

"I don't know if you're going to like them," the handsome vampire said uncertainly. "I can get you something else if you want.." Buffy sighed impatiently, snatching the gifts from her boyfriend's hesitant hand.

"Angel, at least give me chance to look at it before you start with the gloom and doom," Buffy told him as she deftly tore the paper from the first of the three packages. "Oh," she gasped, when she saw what was inside. It was a framed picture, drawn by Angel. Giles looked back at Buffy from the picture, captured in all his intellectual glory. A curious look in his bespectacled eyes, his lips pursed slightly in concentration, Buffy practically expected him to jump off the page and look for a book. Angel's respect for the Watcher peered out of the drawing of the man

"I don't know whether to kiss you, or yell at you for keeping secrets again," Buffy said, looking up from the picture to Angel. The vampire looked at her, anxiously trying to tell if she liked the present or not.

"Open the other two," he suggested. "And then decide." Buffy grinned at him and quickly tore through the wrapping on the second package. This one held another hand drawn, framed picture. The picture was of Xander and Willow. Buffy shook her head in amazement. Angel had captured her two best friends in detail. The two of them were grinning, half at each other, half at her as she stared at the picture. Angel had captured all the mischief, the jokes, and the laughter that even the darkest Hellmouth could not steal from those two. In them, Buffy could see friendship, love, loyalty. Angel's love for them was evident in every line drawn.

With anticipation, Buffy opened the last package. This time the picture was of her. She felt tears spring to her eyes as she looked at the image of herself. It was obvious how much care had gone into Angel's drawing of her. Every line, every curve spoke of love. She looked into her own eyes, and she saw herself the way Angel saw her. Beautiful, strong. In the picture her mouth was curved into a smile, but there was sadness in her eyes. She brushed the tears from her eyes. He knew her so well. He knew every line in her face, and every aspect of her life. He knew what it was like. He knew how hard it was for her. He knew her sadness, and her joy. It was all there in the clean charcoal strokes.

The Slayer looked up from the drawing, her eyes once again filling with tears.

"Do you like it?" Angel asked softly. Buffy nodded, walking to him slowly. His arms slid around her body, and she began to cry softly. Letting her tears fall against his chest.

"It's the best present anyone has ever given me," she whispered. And it was. Because it wasn't just a set of pictures. It was a statement of devotion. It was a gift of love, and understanding. "Thank you,"

"You really like it then?" he asked. "You aren't wishing I had bought you some expensive jewelry?" Buffy grinned up at him.

"Now that you mention it..." she joked. He hugged her tightly, and she allowed herself to be crushed by his arms. To have someone know her inside and out the way he did... It amazed her that she had been so lucky.

"I don't even want to give you your present now," she said, when he released her. "There's no way it can compete with that."

"Buffy, you don't even have to give me anything, " Angel protested. "Having you here is more than I could ever ask for."

"Has anyone ever told you that you've become quite the sweet talker in 240 years?" Buffy asked as she went to the door to get the bag she had dropped when she had first entered the candle-lit room.

"Yeah, well...lots of practice," Angel said, following her. Buffy reached into the bag and drew out two wrapped boxes. She handed them wordlessly to Angel. He opened the larger one slowly, carefully breaking the tape without tearing the paper. When he had unwrapped it he pulled the gift free of the paper. It was a framed painting. He looked at Buffy, and she shrugged back at him.

"It's an arty Valentine's Day I guess. I didn't paint it by the way." She pulled it out of his hands and turned it over. "It's better if you look at the painted side," she explained.

"Ahhh...right. Painted side good," Angel agreed. He looked down at the painting and felt a lump rise in his throat. It was the sunrise. In all it's golden glory, the red fire of the sun captured on canvas.

"Buffy.." he started to speak.

"Wait," she interrupted. "Open the other part." He did. Inside the packaging lay a video cassette tape. The vampire looked at the Slayer questioningly.

"It's a video," she said with a grin. "I know you're old..but geez."

"I know it's a video tape," he said a little defensively. "But what's on it?"

"Do you have a VCR?" Buffy asked. Angel pointed over towards the machine sitting in the corner of the room. "Ok..so let's go look."

Obediently Angel followed Buffy as she led him to the VCR. She turned on the TV, popped in the tape and pressed play. After a moment of static the screen was filled with an image of the sky. Angel watched as the dark sky slowly lightened. As the sun rose, it progressed from reds, and pinks, to oranges, to yellows and blues. Angel looked at his girlfriend, at a loss for words.

"I thought maybe sometimes you miss the sunrise...and I know these aren't the same. But maybe it'll help a little."

"Buffy, it's amazing,." he said honestly. "You have no idea what this means to me."
Angel looked at the painting again, still clutched in his hand. "It's perfect...you're perfect. *How do I tell her that I don't even miss the sun when she's with me?* he wondered. *How do you tell someone that nothing else matters when they're around? That the whole world fades under the glow of their presence. Words are never enough.* "You are my sunlight, Buffy," he said finally.

Buffy felt her heart melt at his words. To be loved by him...it made her heart glad. *He might think that that I bring light into his life, but he brings light to mine too,* she thought. *He brings a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear. He brings me love.* He was almost too good. And he was hers. That was the most amazing part. He was hers. She lifted her head for a kiss, which he gladly gave.

His heart thrilled at her touch, at the sight of her, at the thought of her. *How did I get so lucky?* Angel asked himself. *To have the most perfect girl in the world love me. To have her know me completely, the dark and light of me, and love both. She's mine,* he thought in awe. *And I'm hers. God let it stay this way forever.* He broke the kiss, but kept his mouth near hers, kept her in his arms, until she looked up at him and spoke.

"Didn't you say something about chocolate mousse?" she asked.



Buffy&Angel // Rebecca Fic