To paraphrase Darla, everything is found in dreams. Including comfort.

posted 12/7/00

AUTHORíS NOTES: Random mush, inspired by the recent snowfall here in New York, as well as my recent watching, re-watching... and re-watching this seasonís episodes of both shows. Comfort is very obviously needed. For them, and for all of us, too. *whimper* Another, "Ducks has nothing to do at work" quickfic.

Musical selection is "Letís Make Love" by Faith Hill & Tim McGraw

TRANSLATION: Angel whispers: "Most beautiful heart's only fire." God, don't you love it when he does that? *sigh*
CONTENT: Mild sexuality. Fun, but not terribly graphic. Hey, Iím working my way back up to it!
DEDICATION: To Cris, for her kidsí birthdays -- Iíd dedicate it to them, but... I donít think theyíd care. ;)

Buffy wasnít ready for the blow. When it came with all the supernatural strength of a very old, very powerful vampire behind it, it sent her flying.

"OOF!" she yelped as she careened across the yard, hitting the ground with a force that stole her breath. Only the fact that the earth was covered with a good foot of soft, fluffy snow saved her from more serious injury. Or, at least... as serious an injury as she could really get, here.

Her opponent gave a victorious roar, then advanced at a full run. She felt that "VAMPIRE CLOSE!" tickle low in her stomach, and trained her eyes on him, preparing for her retaliation. His broad shadow fell across her, blanking out the shining moon above. Buffy tensed, ready...

"Are you okay?" Angel asked, offering a hand to help her up, "I didnít mean to hit you that hard."

She glowered at the proffered hand for a moment, then finally relented, and he grinned mischievously as he pulled her to her feet. No sooner had she regained her bearings, then she let her free arm swing, hauling a huge, hastily packed snowball from behind her back, whaling him square in the face.

Angel sputtered and wiped the wet snow away, laying a deep scowl on her. "Oh. You are SO dead, Slayer!"

With a squeal, Buffy turned on her heel and plunged into the snow. "Gotta catch me first, vampire!"

"Catch you I will, woman, and then Iíll show you whoís got the more creative torture uses for snow!" he shouted back.

Buffy ran into the woods, feeling the exhilaration of the hunt, and the joy of knowing that when the hunter caught her, it would definitely be a good thing, filling her with laughter. God... it had been so long since she felt this... safe. Happy. Complete.

Angelís answering laughter rang from behind her, signaling that he was feeling it too -- the relief of knowing that no matter what horrible things they were facing in their day-to-day lives, they could always come here and have a sweet reprieve from it all. Together.

As lost as she was in the happiness, Buffy wasnít really concentrating on getting away, and it took only moments for her sexy stalker to get close again. Before she could gather her strength for one last burst of Slayer speed, he tacked her. But instead of flying back to the earth as she expected, Angel caught her up in his arms, spinning her in wild, wonderful circles.

She squealed with delight, tossing her head back to watch the stars spinning in the night sky above them. The motion slowed, then stopped, and she found herself staring into the deepest, most adoring brown eyes sheíd ever seen. A new sensation washed over her... or rather, an old one...Falling.

"Iím so glad youíre here," Angel whispered, holding her still off the ground with one strong arm, and using his free hand to brush the damp hair from her cheek. Buffyís skin was cold and flushed from the night air and all the snow sheíd eaten, but even so, he could feel her precious warmth beneath. Holding her like this... playing in the forest like any two people spending the weekend in an isolated cabin in the mountains... sent a rush of joy through his every cell.

The sensation doubled when she smiled at him.

"Me too. I canít tell you how much I needed this."

Angel returned her smile and kissed her deeply, slowly, the long-remembered electricity of her touch flaring against his skin, sending itís blissful shock like a light to his heart and soul. Here, now, in this place, there were no duties, no responsibilities, no destinies, no past, no curses... only the two of them and a magick like nothing else that existed in all the dimensions.

Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck, losing herself in the power off that kiss as he scooped her up and carried her back toward the cabin. He kicked in the door, not wanting to let her go even for a moment. This visit would be brief enough. He didnít want to waste a second of it fooling with mundane details like doorknobs. He kicked it shut behind them once they were inside, eliciting a happy giggle against his lips.

"Youíre so macho..." she whispered.

Angel chuckled and set her down on her feet. "How about some cocoa?"

She grinned and started taking off her 600 layers of winter clothes. She was a Californian, after all, and not well insulated by nature. As usual, he wore his trademark black sweater, jeans and boots, with his heavy wool greatcoat. All temperature Angel-wear.

"Cocoa would be perfect," she told him, wondering if her suddenly lusty thoughts showed in her eyes. His wink told her maybe they did, and she blushed.

Angelís smile grew. He could feel it spreading from his deepest core, the seed brought by the vision -- the longed for Goddess -- who stood, lit golden by the firelight and pink from her blush, before him. "Cocoa it is, then."

He hung the coffee pot on the cooking rack, and shuffled the coals around, adding logs until even he could feel the fireís heat seeping into his skin. Buffy sank down onto the soft bearskin rug, tucking her knees in her arms and watching him as she defrosted.

"This was such a good idea, Angel. I donít know why we didnít do it a long time ago."

He turned and smiled down at her, wondering for a split second if his facial muscles would break if he kept at it -- theyíd gone so long unused...

As he sat beside her, a little thrill shot through him that she automatically scooted over, settling herself between his knees, her back against his chest. Just as automatically, he found his arms encircling her, pulling her warm body close and kissing the top of her soft hair. She smelled so good... like vanilla and sunshine... like happiness.

"We were too busy with other things, I guess," he replied, "Thereís been a lot going on ... with both of us."

Buffy sighed, relaxing against him, reveling in the perfectly right feeling of his strong arms around her. Until that moment, she hadnít realized how very much sheíd missed this... needed it to survive. To stay strong. Still, after all this time, he was her true foundation.

"Yeah. Too busy drowning in repression and denial."

Angel pulled away and gave her a look. "Do tell, Dr. Freud."

She chuckled, then sobered once again. "You know... denying everything we have... everything weíve meant to each other..."

He closed his eyes. "What we still mean to each other," he added, tucking her head under his chin and hugging her.

"Mmmm... Everythingís changed so much since you left. Iíve just been running around, trying so hard to forget... putting out one raging fire after another. I should have thought..." Her voice cracked as she realized just how much time theyíd wasted, when they could have been here, like this, every weekend.

"I know I hurt you, Buffy," Angel said softly, "Iím sorry. But at the time... what else could we have done? There were lessons we had to learn apart. There still are."

"I know. Like... Riley," she whispered.

Angel tensed in spite of his best efforts not to. "Yes. Like Riley. Iím sorry about that, too."

Buffy grinned up at him. "Sorry I had to go out and get another lover that you were so damned convinced I needed?"

He growled low in his chest. "That, definitely. But... more that Iím sorry he left you... because of me."

She settled back against him. "Iím not. And you arenít either. It wasnít meant to be, Angel. I tried to tell you a long time ago, but no... you wouldnít listen to me. I canít have a normal life. And really? It turns out that I donít want one anyway. Riley was the first to really figure that out, and accept it. I know the truth now, thanks to him... and more than ever, I know I want my abnormal life to be with you."

This time it was Angel who pulled away, turning Buffy to face him fully. "That night in the sewer, when I..." He blinked, swallowing the urge to cry, "I couldnít tell you, then. It was too hard. I knew that I had to leave, and..." The tears came anyway, welling up in his eyes. "I let you think I didnít want to be with you. And that was never true."

Buffy leaned forward until their foreheads pressed together. "I know. Iíve always known."

He kissed her, long and slow, willing away all the pain of their past, sweeping his joy and hope for their future into her mouth as his cool tongue sought her warm one. She answered in kind as they met and danced, flicking tenderly, sucking gently, and softly devouring one anotherís burgeoning emotions.

She broke away, a little breathless. "What about you and that whole Darla thing?"

Angelís smile slipped, and he let his gaze fall, the pain of that failure something he just didnít want to touch them, here. "Another lesson."

Buffy tilted his face up with a gentle fingertip. "Do you love her?" Half of her didnít want to know the answer... especially if it was yes.

He met her gaze. "No," he replied without hesitation, "It wasnít about love, Buffy. It was about every person with a soul deserving a chance to do whatís right. It was about... forgiving her, and showing her she was worth forgiving."

The hurt in his voice made Buffy shiver, and she had to work to shove her jealousy away. "Iím sorry about what happened. That it ended like it did... I wish Iíd killed Drusilla a long time ago."

He closed his eyes. "I donít think it couldnít have happened any other way," he murmured, trying to convince himself as much as tell her. Finally, he willed that thought, and every other of his vampire "family" away. Reaching up, he caressed her cherished face -- the visage always squarely at the forefront of his mind. Still the reason for it all. Every battle. Every sunset when he had to drag his weary body from his bed, when there didnít seem to be any point. The only reason he had ever found his path to begin with. And, he hoped with everything he had, part of his ultimate reward.

"We have plenty of time to talk things out, Buffy. Tonight I just..." He sighed deeply as the joy returned, like a slow tide. "Tonight I only want the two of us here. No ghosts. No troubles."

Buffy felt her own smile come back as she drank him in... his beautiful, mahogany eyes... his high, proud cheekbones... the soft cut of his lips.

"I love you, Angel. I want to make you forget all about what happens when weíre not here."

He threaded his hands into her long, soft hair. "I love you, too. And you do. Every time."

She never figured out if he pulled her or she pulled him, but in a heartbeat, they were wrapped in one anotherís embrace once more, their mouths blending, bodies pressed tightly together. As Angel lay her gently down on the carpet of fur, she felt it. The knowledge that this was why she went on. Why she survived every trial the Fates threw at her... This tiny hope that she had repressed, but never had been able to kill. The conviction that somehow, someday, the Powers would be kind, and their lives would once again be bound as inextricably and truly as their hearts... their souls...

Angel fell into her body, her tiny sighs and whispers of his name like a litany of prayer, blessing him, buoying his spirit. So high, like flying... Her small hands like a blanket that warmed his dead skin, soothed his aching bones, his tired heart. She reinvented him with every touch, each kiss, and each heartbeat that he could feel thrumming against his chest.

"Buffy..." he breathed into her, letting his mouth wander from hers, exploring the fine line of her jaw, the tender slope of her ears, the silken heaven of her neck. He flicked his tongue over the faded scar at the base of her throat, thrilling at the shiver he felt run through her at the touch. There was magick there, in that mark... a sign that would never go away, that once and forever, they would give their lives for one another.

A hissing noise filled Buffyís head, and for a moment, she didnít know where it originated. Will all the roiling emotions boiling over in her heart, it could have easily been steam from her ears.

Steam. Oh. "Angel..." she whispered between fevered kisses, "The coffee pot."

"Mm?" he murmured into her breastbone, which he was lightly kissing.

"Water," she gasped, "Boiling over..."

Angel pulled away with a groan, and looked into the fire. "Damn it." He flashed her a smile. "Donít move."

Buffy held up her hands. "Wouldnít dream of it."

With a low growl, Angel rolled away and yanked the accursed thing from the rack, and let it fall with a clank and a splash to the hearth.

"We can make cocoa later," Buffy chuckled, tugging on his shirt to pull him to her.

Angel leaned back down, his eyes blazing. "The only thing I want to make right now is..."

Buffy stopped his terrible joke with a kiss. All theyíd had for years were words, and now that they had all of this... the touch, the true togetherness, at last, she wanted nothing else. Tomorrow they could go back to speech again.

But for now...

Their passion took only a touch to flare once more, and Buffy found part of herself -- her heart, maybe? Her soul? Definitely her body -- forgetting that she had tried to believe anyone else had ever belonged there. The way his big frame fit hers perfectly, the way his hands and mouth went as if by instinct to the parts of her that overwhelmed all sense, all reason, leaving nothing but blood and bone... skin and breath, between them.


His name on her breath was by far the most beautiful sound heíd ever heard. A close second, the pounding of her pulse against his lips as he carefully unbuttoned her thermal shirt, unwrapping that most precious gift -- this womanís body; this warriorís spirit, this young girlís heart. All his...

Buffy arched her back as he peeled the damp cotton away, and she was laid bare to his adoring gaze, her skin bronzed by the firelight, flushed by the desire he could smell growing in her blood.

"An Chuid grian solas..." he whispered, awed by the sight heíd tried to forget. The taste of her, so sweet and warm as his lips traveled the soft contours of her breasts. "Mo croi murach tine."

Buffy thought suddenly that maybe some words were okay... She had no idea what he was saying, but it didnít matter. All she cared about was that she could hear them... feel them once more, the way she never thought she would again.

Feeling... her every nerve snapped sweetly to life at his touch as he suckled at her breasts, his words dissolving to moans that she could feel as acutely as his hands smoothing over her sides, raising goosebumps on her skin as he peeled the barrier of her leggings and panties away.

She moved her own desperate hands under his shirt, sweeping her palms over miles of smooth, hard, rolling back, up to broad shoulders, corded neck, and soft hair before tossing the sweater away. She followed the path back down him again once the heavy thing was gone, tracing each curve of muscle, shivering to hear him purr under that simple, wonderful touch.

He pushed away from her breasts, bracing his weight on his arms and looking deeply into her eyes.

"What?" she whispered.

Angelís eyes filled with tears, but a tiny smile blessed his lips. "I want to look at you. Remember how you look... right now, so I can take you with me when..."

When they had to leave. Buffy heard it, even if he didnít say it. She reached up and stopped the first tear that fell with her fingertip.

"Donít. Please, letís just... forget. For now."

He looked at her for another long moment, then eased back down, claiming her mouth more fiercely, this time. He gathered her close in his arms, wanting this to last, not wanting, ever to let this night end.

"Buffy... I need you... love you... so much. Iím sorry I ever hurt you."

She pulled him closer. "I am too..."

Looking into her eyes, Angel entered her, the connection like lightning striking, like a tidal wave washing all the lonely days and nights without her away in its cleansing wake.

Buffy gasped as he filled her... eased the emptiness sheíd fought so hard to pretend didnít exist. If she could only take him deep enough, hold him close enough, maybe...

ĎMaybe I wonít ever have to let her go again,í he thought as he moved against her, the friction setting his cold body on fire.

Their bodies rocked in easy time, a fundamental rhythm of joined essence. Their souls merged, whispers blended, passion growing.

"Oh, God, Angel..."

ĎThereís never been anyone else...í

"Buffy... yes..."

ĎMy only love. My heartís mate...í

Limbs entwining, moans fusing...

ĎNothing else matters...í

ĎLike we never apart...í

ĎShe feels so good...í

ĎHe feels so right...í

Bliss took them in its healing embrace, the snow like a blanket over their haven, keeping them safe from the world outside. They lost themselves in one another, lost all knowledge and memory, their union and its completion the only sensation in the cosmos.

Angel cried out to her as even that reality imploded, years of frustration, confusion and loneliness dissolving into the long dreamed of body of his mate. Buffy returned his call with a cry of celebration, of victory over all they had overcome to be together.

And when their breathing finally slowed, shocks of orgasm easing, a blanket of fulfillment, a cocoon of safety settled over them as they lay tangled in one anotherís arms before the roaring fire.

Buffy couldnít help smiling. Smiling so hard, it made her teeth hurt. In the year they were together, had Riley ever made her feel so sated? So complete? She thought of his kind smile, and the love she once saw in his eyes, and hoped with all the joy she felt being back in Angelís arms, that someday Riley might feel it too. For someone whose heart was free to be his.

Angel watched the fire, reveling in the feeling of Buffyís warmth against him, and thought of all that had happened with Darla. 150 years -- a century and a half -- and still... no matter how much he had cared for her, in his way, in all that time, she still didnít touch his deepest hear the way these few hours with Buffy did. He still wished he could have saved her... wished that she had been able to have a chance to feel this kind of love. A loved that reached deep into the soul...

As they fell asleep in their warm embrace, their thoughts turned back to one another. Where they always were. And where they would always stay.

* * *

Cordelia looked up from the laptop.

"Do you hear that?" she whispered.

Wesleyís eyes swung up from the casefile, and glanced at her, training his ears on the faint sound. His eyes went wide as he realized exactly what it was, and he looked toward the stairs. "Is that..."

Cordy jumped down off the counter and dashed behind it to stand next to him. "I think... No, it canít be. Heís... heís..."

"Whistling," Wesley finished for her.

Angel nearly hopped down the stairs, whistling an old drinking tune he hadnít even thought of in a century or more. When he reached the bottom landing, he did hop.

Cordelia and Wesley gaped. He picked up the paper, still whistling as he wandered over to the counter. When he looked up to see them staring, he gave them a warm smile.

"Good morning," he said cheerfully, "Did you guys have breakfast? I was thinking maybe of making some omelets. Are those green peppers still in the fridge?"

His colleagues continued staring at him, open-mouthed. Cordelia, of course, found her voice first.

"Angel, are you... Angel?" she asked.

He turned his smile directly on her, and Cordy was shocked back into silence once more. The sheer kilowattage of that uncharacteristic grin, she was fairly certain, was more than enough to light the entire city. And maybe the Valley besides.

"Cordy, have I told you how much I really like your hair? It frames your face so elegantly... brings out your eyes."

"I... uh... thanks?" she eeked.

Angel winked at her. Winked, and turned to head for the kitchen. "Do you want sausage?" he called as he disappeared down the hall.

Wesley dragged his eyes back to Cordy. "Perhaps we should check his room... for...some sort of..."

"Pod?" she wondered aloud.

* * *


Buffy did a flying cartwheel directly into sitting position on the blanket where Willow, Tara, Anya and Xander gathered for lunch.

They all stared at her.

"Hey, guys!" she chirped, flashing them a grin. "Ooh! Apple slices!"

All eyes followed her as she snatched some fruit from the Tupperware bowl in the center of the spread.

"She... looks like Buffy," Xander said.

"Are you okay?" Willow asked her.

"Youíre entirely too cheerful. Itís out of character for you and your current situation, and makes everybody uncomfortable," Anya informed her helpfully.

Buffy only grinned at the ex-demon, and shrugged. "Why shouldnít I be? Weíre all healthy young Americans. Itís a beautiful Southern California day. We have sliced fruit. Itís all good."

The gang exchanged worried looks.

"Um... and... ancient demon out to kill your sister? Sick mom? Absent boyfriend?" Xander reminded her, which got him an elbow and a withering glare from Willow. "I mean... not that you should dwell..." he corrected himself quickly.

Buffyís face grew more thoughtful, but her smile didnít fade. "Weíll kick the demonís ass, my momís going to be fine, and... I think maybe the whole Riley thing is for the best."

The other four gave each other another look. Willow decided to take matters into her own hands. She cast a little spell, and took an illicit peak into Buffyís thoughts. What she saw there made her blush furiously... and then very afraid.

"Buffy, can I, um... talk to you for a minute?" she asked, tugging her best friend up to her feet and leading her away from the others. "Is there... something going on? I mean... did you see Angel last night?"

Now the Slayerís smile slipped, as though sheíd been caught doing something she wasnít supposed to. "Um... not...exactly."

Willow leaned closer to her, "Not exactly? Buffy, youíre acting like..." her voice dropped to a whisper, "Well, like perfect happiness was had. And... you know, thatís not... a good thing."

Buffyís smile returned, but now with a bit of a wistful edge. "Just dreams, Will, thatís all. Definitely happiness, but... not perfect. Just..." she sighed. "Just enough. For now."

* * *



"Buffy, hi. How are you?"

"Angel... do you think... I mean... that weíll ever be together? I canít help but think that... we should be. In real life."

He didnít need to think. If there was one thing he had learned for certain last night, it was the fact that he needed her... and that their hearts were tied too tightly together for them to be able to survive apart for long. "I do too. And I think we should be. But for now... until weíre done what we need to do..."

"All weíve got is the astral," she sighed, a tiny sound of resignation. "I know. But... I have to say... Itís a lot better than nothing at all. A whole lot better. I havenít felt so..." she chuckled, "Damned good in I donít know how long."

A smile stole over him. "Me too, love. Iíve missed you."

"I missed you, too. Iím so glad you found this... I canít wait to see you again."

"Iím... strangely happy, actually."

"Really. And why is that?"

"You know."

Angel chuckled, cuddling the cell phone close to his ear. "Yeah, I do."

"Thank you. I mean... for last night. That was... exactly what I needed to get my mind off things."

"Donít thank me, Buffy. I needed it as much as you did."

"How did you... I mean, how did you find out about that spell?"

"You donít really want to know."

"Yes, actually, I do. Willowís all over me about... how... I mean, how we can... you know. Without... So..."

Her stammering was so adorable, it was hard not to laugh, but she did have a right to know. "Itís called Corinthian Powder. As it turns out... Wolfram & Hart introduced me to it. It... loosens the inhibitions, frees the astral body, and creates a vivid dream environment. I just combined that with lucid dreaming, and sought your soul out on the psychic plane."

"Oh. Okay. But... Angel, what about your soul?"

Angel closed his eyes. "Itís bliss, Buffy... but my soul knows itís not... real."

Her voice was soft. "It feels real."

"Yeah. It does."

"We have to be careful. We need to stay focused, and not let ourselves get lost in those dreams. Believe me, Iíve learned that lesson the hard way."

"Okay. I mean, I understand..." She was quiet for a moment. "So, Friday then?"

He laughed. "Friday it is."



"I love you. Thank you for coming back to me."

"I love you, too, sweetheart. Thank you for taking me back."

"Iíll see you Friday."

"Yes. You will. And every weekend. For as long as we have to wait."


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