Disclaimer: Everything important belongs not to me.
Summary: Set between "When She Was Bad" and "Reptile Boy" in S2. Written in response to the criticism of Buffy's line "When you kiss me, I want to die."
Notes/Dedication: For the ladies at the Blood Roses forum.
The other day I received a FedEx package from leni_ba, along with a note saying she hoped I could make use of the contents. Intrigued, I opened it, and out hopped a cute little plot bunny. Thanks, Leni!
Buffy had been thinking about kissing Angel, a lot. During the time between the night his secret had been revealed and the day she had left Sunnydale for the summer, they had kissed four more times. She knew he remembered each one because Angel didn’t forget things. She remembered each one herself because she didn’t forget things like kisses.
She wasn’t counting, though. Each kiss felt too new to be listed among any comparable experience, and every time it happened, she could never figure out exactly how they had gotten to that point. Figuring out what it meant wasn’t even on the agenda. Osculation was just a phenomenon that occasionally occurred between her and Angel.
It took a long time for the phenomenon to occur again after she returned for the new school year, but that wasn’t a surprise. After all, she had started out by denying that they had any kind of relationship to rebuild, and once that ruse was dropped, they had to rebuild it without defining it. There wasn’t an advice column in the world that offered any guidance for a mess like this.
One night she began her patrol and found him waiting at the gate of the cemetery, smiling for no reason at all. They held hands and talked about the summer as they walked. She wasn’t angry and he wasn’t jealous. It was enough.
Buffy had been thinking about kissing Angel a little too much. Part of it, of course, was that there were progressively more memories of past kisses for her to dwell on. Unfortunately, that was leading to more and more anticipation of future kisses. Sooner or later it might even lead to wondering where the hell this pattern was going to lead them.
Logically there was nothing wrong with taking an occasional dip into the pool of physical affection. She was currently single, he was currently...well, probably eternally single, and once she started dating again, she would totally discontinue all tongue-related activities with Angel and Angel would totally understand. He had even told her that he would understand. He had said words about how she was free to pursue a relationship with someone else, and from him that was downright significant.
Not to mention that he had a whole arsenal of nonverbal ways to reinforce that message. The guilty way he hung his head after releasing her lips was not exactly what she considered icing on her cake, and if he thought she didn’t notice that he never stuck around much longer after the night had reached that point, he was one dunce of a vampire.
One night she told him exactly that, and he stopped and turned, apparently trying to find a response or an excuse to not give one. “It’s just better this way,” he said finally. “We need to stop doing that. You should be concentrating on...other things. Other people.” He was gone before she could even choose which part of that to scream at him for first.
Buffy had been thinking about kissing Angel way too much. It was interfering with her homework. Here she was putting honest effort into conjugating French verbs, and for once the explanation she gave to her mother about spending the evening studying at Willow’s house was actually the truth, and the only thing that was holding her attention at all was Angel and the stupid frowny-face he made whenever she tried to get him to have fun.
His latest little pearl of wisdom was that they had to do the mature thing and keep their relationship platonic. She hadn’t been able to effectively argue because all she had been able to think about was that this probably meant that she wasn’t getting any kissing tonight. Somehow she didn’t think that saying so would make her sound as grown-up as he was suggesting she be.
“You know, that’s all fine for him,” she said out loud, closing her French book for indignant emphasis. “He’s supposed to be mature. He’s old.”
Willow looked confused. “Well, yeah, but Buffy, he’s only trying to help you.”
“Oh, sure he is! Trying to help me by hovering around me when I’m trying to slay, and then all of a sudden, wait, it’s time for a heart-stopping moonlit make-out session, and then I’m supposed to just go back to—-“
”What? Did you just say make-out session?”
Buffy arched an eyebrow, wondering where her friend had acquired the sudden sense of propriety. “Come on, Will, you know it wasn’t just that one time. Angel keeps—-“
“Oh! I thought we were talking about Giles. Well that’s different.”
It was just as well that they never returned to the subject after they both managed to stop laughing. Willow was always ready to lend an ear, but it wasn’t really fair to make her keep listening to complaints about Angel; her own romantic troubles were so much different. As far as forbidden love was concerned, Buffy was on her own.
One night she deliberately misinformed him about which route she would be taking on her patrol and made the rounds by herself. When he found her just before she finished, she shrugged and made sounds about it being too bad that they had missed each other, pretending not to notice that he clearly wasn’t buying it. The hurt in his eyes stayed with her until she fell asleep.
Buffy had been dreaming about kissing Angel. Apparently, cutting down on the real-world incidents of it only threw her subconscious into high gear. Also, she was mortified to find that dreams almost never stopped at kissing, even if the thoughts of her waking life had been completely chaste all day. Her subconscious just had no shame.
The only way she was going to get through this, she decided, was by exercising her right to date. At this point in her life it was the natural thing to do, anyway. Providing she could properly balance dating with Slaying, Giles would tolerate it. Her friends and mother expected it. Angel practically encouraged it.
As for herself, she wanted it. She was young and pretty and as socially active as conditions would allow, and she wanted a boyfriend. How to go about getting one? She drew the line at settling; it wouldn’t be any fun if she didn’t care about the guy. And she wasn’t going to use Xander like that, even if he begged her to. She just had to keep her eyes open and someone would come along and put her mind—-and her dreams—-on the right track.
So she went to school and talked to the boys there and thought about how Angel was smarter and kinder than all of them. She paged through magazines and looked at the celebrities there and thought about how Angel was hotter than all of them. And then she walked through cemeteries and noted the dates commemorating the dead there and thought about how Angel was older than all of them.
One night she forgot that she was attempting to play cool around him, and ended up spilling her guts about every insignificant problem that was currently infesting her life. When she found herself standing too close to him, she put out her hand, intending to push him away. Instead, she found herself suddenly clasped in his arms with his mouth pressed against hers. It could be the last time, she reasoned, so she might as well enjoy it. It could be the last time, she realized, and tears began welling in her eyes.
Buffy had stopped trying to stop thinking about kissing Angel. So maybe she wouldn’t be able to get into a real relationship while he was around, fine. So maybe this was all just her latest effort to distract herself from reality.
One night soon it might cease to matter. She might make the wrong move, stab when she should be blocking, meet a demon who was more than her match. Angel would find her body and reverently lift her into his arms. Maybe he would whisper an apology. But just this once, when he kissed her for the last time, there would be no guilt.