Author: Vatrixsta Cruden
Classification: Story, Angst, Romance, Smut
Rating: Light NC-17
Archive: If you already have something of mine, consider
that blanket permission to grab anything else that strikes
your fancy. This is a 'Bring Buffy Back' fic, so if that
archive wants it, be my guest.
Author's Notes: Happy Birthday to you, Happy
Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Dru-u-u, Happy Birthday
to-o-o-o-o, yo-o-ou. (And many mo-o-o-o-o-o-ore.)
Dedication: For Dru, of course, because I can't send her
naked Angels and Spikes live and in person (try though I
might). Instead, I offer her my humble words, and for making
cry, am allowing her to drown me in the pool today.
Summary: 'Love will bring you to your gift.'
Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
"Happy Birthday, Buffy."
He was vaguely surprised when his soft, late afternoon
murmur was greeted with Buffy's palm pressing itself against
"Shoosh. Don't say it. Don't even think it."
"Bffee, ips mus woar bifd--"
"Don't even mumble it incoherently!" she implored, genuine
distress showing in her eyes.
Angel pulled her hand from his mouth, wrapped his fingers
around hers, and pressed a gentle kiss to her knuckles.
"Sweetheart, today is going to be a perfect day."
"Oh, God, you're like a giant jinx," she moaned.
Perplexed, Angel moved his body closer to Buffy's until he
felt her naked skin press against his beneath soft silk
sheets. His hand moved to her hip, and he smoothed a path
from thigh to breast along her side.
"I'm a jinx," he murmured as he brushed his lips over hers.
Her mouth was closed, pulled in a tight line, and he smiled
a little at the challenge she presented. "Explain to me,
love of my life, how I'm a jinx."
"Everybody knows that when you say something's going to be
perfect it's like cursing it," she whined against his mouth.
"Don't use the c-word when we're in bed," he chastised
lightly, his hand straying to her back. He ran his fingers
up and down her spine, pulling her a little closer with
every downward sweep.
"Sorry," she murmured contritely. "But you've still jinxed
"There have been some bad birthdays in the past," he
"Thank you, Mr. Understatement," she muttered. "I have not
had one trauma-free birthday since I was called. Today isn't
going to be any different so long as we actually acknowledge
that it's my birthday. Maybe if we're really, really quiet
about it, the fates will give up their yearly 'Screw Even
More With Buffy's Life' contest."
"Contest?" he asked, peppering soft little kisses to her
"It's a theory," she explained. "I think every year, all the
Powers up there think up a different way to make each
birthday worse than the one before. Now in all fairness,
whoever called dibs on my seventeenth probably wins all the
marbles, but don't think that'll stop them from trying. Oh,
no, they'll continue to do bad things to me every January
until they throw in the towel and kill me."
"Definitely no discussing your death in bed," he said
seriously. The subject was still a touchy one with him. Her
resurrection had come with a price one he would gladly pay
a thousand times over and it still disturbed him deeply to
remember what the world had felt like without her in it.
"How am I supposed to have the perfect birthday when it's
all doomed from the outset?"
"You're not the only one with theories," he informed her
smugly. "I've discovered a reason that doesn't involve you
being the butt of some cosmic joke for all your bad birthday
"You have, hmm?" she murmured, slinging a leg over his hip.
He nipped at her lower lip in response and nearly lost his
train of thought.
"Every," a kiss to her forehead, "single," a lick to her
chin, "birthday," he rubbed his nose against hers, "you make
a fatal mistake."
"What?" she murmured, Eskimo kissing him back.
"You get out of bed."
Rolling them until she was on her back, hovering just above
her, Angel grinned down at his entire world, encased in a
deceptively delicate looking frame, her eyes the sparkling
blue of the sea today, staring up at him with absolute
"Your solution to my birthday doldrums is to ravish me until
"I wasn't going to stipulate a cut off time," he informed
her, dead pan. "We've already slept most of the day away.
We're halfway home already."
"What about the party?"
He was sure he looked like a deer caught in headlights.
"The one Cordelia and Willow have been planning, via phone,
for the last three weeks I'm not supposed to know about? The
one that the gang is driving down from Sunnydale for?"
"Oh, =that= party," Angel said, nodding. "Yeah, that's not
Buffy frowned. "But my birthday's today."
"But your birthday's cursed, love," he reminded her.
"C-word," she pointed out.
She gripped his hips with her legs and rolled them until she
straddled his chest. Her hands captured his wrists, and she
pinned his arms above his head.
"Talk. Why no party tonight?"
"Because a party would interfere with our testing my
theory," he said as though it were the most obvious thing in
the world. "Besides, we can't not celebrate and you're never
in a very celebrate-y place on the actual day of your
"So this party I've been dreading isn't until tomorrow," she
"And," she continued, sliding down his body until the
erection he'd had since she'd flipped him on his back bumped
against her backside, "we really don't have to get out of
bed until tomorrow?"
"Cordelia will be leaving a tray of food, water, and blood
outside the door before she goes home tonight," he
confirmed, a satisfied smile on his face.
"Baby," she murmured, moving her mouth to tickle his ear
with her breath, "if we're spending the next day in bed,
you're really not going to need pig's blood."
That said, she bent backwards until she was practically
lying between his legs, still straddling him. He swallowed
deeply at Slayer Flexibility and rose up until he grasped
her around the waist. He brought her mouth to his for a
hard, possessive kiss, and he growled when she nipped his
lower lip hard enough to draw blood.
He had been admittedly uncomfortable with anything
resembling bloodplay when they'd begun exploring the sexual
side of their relationship. He'd tried to resist how very
much he wanted to taste her, how the rush and flow beneath
her veins called out to him on the most basic level there
was . . . he might have even been successful, had Buffy not
proved such an eager and adept student in sharing their
She was hardly a virgin; though the thought made him cringe,
and his mind shied away from it, during their time apart,
Buffy had become fully versed in sex. What she lacked was
variety and experimentation. Angel had been for lack of a
better term a slut before the curse, and his sexual
repertoire crossed the line of 'experienced' and sailed
right on into 'master.' That wasn't ego talking, either; a
hundred and fifty some odd years of debauchery had just
taken an effect.
With barely a year and a half under her belt, Buffy had been
curious and =very= interested in experimentation. After
they'd found a groove together again, she'd confessed that
Riley hadn't been sexually adventurous. He enjoyed sex, and
she enjoyed it with him, but she'd never felt comfortable
testing the boundaries between them. Not to mention the fact
that she'd been half afraid of hurting him if she really let
Buffy had absolutely no problem letting herself go now.
Her tongue came out and lapped at the blood pooling on his
lower lip. They'd shared everything that had happened in
their lives since he first left Sunnydale. Her disclosure
about Dracula had been the first time he lost control with
her while they were making love. The knowledge that another
had tasted her . . . She was =his=, and before he'd been
able to process his own intent, he'd sunk his fangs into her
Afterward, he'd been apologetic. Buffy had assured him there
was no need. At first, he'd been almost appalled that she
enjoyed having him drink her nearly as much as he did. Of
course he knew from experience the erotic satisfaction a
vampire took from feeding, and being fed from by its mate;
Buffy, however, was a Slayer. He'd been positive anything
reminding her that he was technically her mortal enemy would
be placed securely in the category 'major turn-off.'
His Buffy was full of surprises.
Somehow, they'd worked their way back to their sides. Their
legs were hopelessly intertwined, Buffy was clawing at his
back while he kissed her breathless, and his hands were
buried in her hair, angling her head this way and that,
trying to find that perfect angle. Since kissing Buffy at
any and every angle was sheer bliss, it was hard to stay
Then suddenly, the frenzy passed, and that was exactly what
happened: stillness. He'd noticed it before between them.
They'd be making love frantically, and then, like magic, a
gentle lassitude would take hold. The total liquefication of
muscle and bone would take place, and it would take great
effort to continue softly stroking one another's skin. Their
lips would touch, barely part, and come together again, mere
centimeters from the last point of contact.
Her breath exhaled into his mouth, and he forced his dead
lungs to work as he took her inside him. When she was this
close, her heart beating against his chest, he could feel a
day when their hearts would beat together. It wasn't
supposed to happen; he no longer expected it; day to day, he
hardly even longed for it.
But he hoped. Hope had saved him; saved her after her second
death. He had to believe hope would see them through to the
"Is everyone really coming tomorrow?" Her voice was hushed,
respectful of the peaceful quiet between them.
"Everyone's really coming," he confirmed, his voice as soft
as hers. His fingers traced the sharp, strong planes of her
"Dawnie's missed them," she commented.
"I know. She's adjusting to living here, though. And at
least she gets to see your dad."
"Every other month," Buffy muttered.
No matter how hard he tried, Angel couldn't understand Hank
Summers' ability to stay away from his two smart,
incredible, beautiful girls. Dawn was growing into a lovely
young woman, and she seemed fascinated with the
inner-workings of Angel Investigations. Buffy was afraid
Dawn would decide to be a demon hunter when she was all
grown up. Angel didn't have the heart to tell his love that
her baby sister had a destiny as much as she did. It might
not be as clear-cut, and she might not have something as
obvious a calling, but it was there. No one who loved Buffy
Summers could avoid the world she lived in.
"Willow has a surprise for you," Angel murmured, hoping to
distract Buffy from her 'I could kill dad' thoughts.
Her face brightened. Success. "What kind of surprise?"
"You'll have to wait until tomorrow night. She swore me to
secrecy, and you know she'll know if I tell you."
Buffy pouted, then let the pout turn into a seductive leer
as she rubbed her chest against his. "I'll let you do that
thing you love to do to me if you tell," she tempted.
He chuckled, and let the joy he felt at having her close,
trying to bribe him with borderline-obscene sexual acts show
on his face. "You'll let me do that to you anyway, because
you love it, and no."
Willow's surprise was that she and Tara were transferring to
UCLA. As she'd explained on the phone the night before,
Buffy and the slaying was the reason she'd stayed in
Sunnydale to begin with. Since the Slayer was building a new
life, for her and Dawn, here with Angel, Willow wanted to be
a part of it.
Angel Investigations was growing; they would be hiring on
two witches part time. Luckily or unluckily, if you were
Cordelia business was booming. The visions were coming
with more frequency, and it worried Angel. Cordelia insisted
she was fine, and she'd certainly thrown herself into
helping Willow coordinate Buffy's un-birthday party.
Cordelia was in pain, though, and she seemed to need him
more now than she had before. Cordelia was strong, but she
"Where'd you go?"
He blinked, and focused on Buffy. "Sorry. I was worrying."
"I know. You had that little line," she brushed her
fingertips across his forehead. "I'm contemplating depraved
sexual activity, and you're worrying. Am I losing my touch?"
In answer, Angel pulled her thigh over his, opening her to
him. Keeping them on their sides, he slipped inside her
gently, swallowing her tiny gasp of surprise with his mouth.
Depravity was fun; they'd had some memorable nights doing
things that sometimes made Buffy blush the next day whenever
she'd look at Dawn. But at the moment, he wanted nothing
more than to make love to her. On the anniversary of her
birth, his thoughts had been plagued with her death, and
holding her close, worshipping her with his body, being able
to look into her eyes . . . it was the only thing that
banished the terror, the emptiness that had filled him with
the news of her loss.
"You'll never lose your touch with me," he assured her in a
quietly intense voice. Their hips had begun a rhythm born of
instinctual recognition; their bodies reacted to each
other's as though they had been made to fit together, until
they melted into a single, boneless, sated creature.
Minutes faded together, and the only thing Angel knew was
the increasing rhythm of Buffy's heartbeat. Their faces
pressed together, then moved apart, and they scattered
kisses over whatever patches of skin they could reach as
their gentle coupling progressed.
Once he would have feared how much he truly lost himself in
her. There was always the ever-present threat of becoming of
monster, of truly emptying himself of everything, leaving
only a shell capable of being animated by the evil that
lived inside him.
Now, though, he knew that the only repercussions of filling
Buffy, of letting her fill him, was their own mutual
satisfaction and a bond that only grew deeper every day.
"I love you," he whispered against her mouth. "God, how am I
supposed to live without you?"
"I think he just said somethin'," Fred called out hopefully.
She was crouched near Angel while Wesley, Gunn, Cordelia and
Willow huddled by the reception area.
They quickly moved closer to Angel, hoping for some sign
that he was about to emerge from the catatonic state he'd
slipped into nearly an hour before.
"I was worrying," the vampire mumbled. His lips barely
moved, and his voice was only audible because they so
desperately wanted to hear it.
"Angel," Willow said quietly.
"Angel," Cordelia parroted. "Come on, Angel, she wouldn't
His eyes seemed to flicker for a moment, to focus on the
sound of Cordelia's voice, but it was only for a moment, and
soon, he went back to sightlessly staring straight in front
"This happened to Buffy," Willow said, tears thick in her
voice. "When Glory took Dawn. It all came crashing down on
her, and she lost it. She went inside herself like this. I
went in after her. Maybe I could go in after Angel."
"I don't know if that's advisable," Wesley interrupted.
"I can do it, Wesley," Willow snapped.
"It's not your abilities I doubt, Ms. Rosenberg," Wesley
assured her. "It's just that Angel's mind a vampire's mind
is so much more complex, so much more dangerous than a
"Are you saying that . . . he would hurt me?" Willow asked,
a note of disbelief in her voice.
"Not intentionally, no," Wesley assured her. "The point I'm
trying to make is, we don't know what might happen, and to
take action when none is necessary could do more harm than
"English is right," Gunn said. "Angel's been goin' through
some heavy shit lately. This Buffy meant as much to him as
y'all say she did, I'm thinkin' this might be the blow that
breaks him for good."
"But we have to do something to help him," Cordelia
"We can't just leave him like that," Willow agreed.
"No, we can't," Wesley said. "And we won't. But neither will
we merely leap into the thick of things without thinking
each move through."
"Fine," Cordelia snapped. "I'm going to go upstairs and
change my clothes. By the time I get back down here, you'd
better have a plan all laid out, or I say we let Willow dive
on in to Angel's deep dark pool."
"You'll never have to find out, love," Buffy whispered
against his mouth.
Angel blinked. Her body was warm, alive, and =right there=
next to him, but for a second, he'd been sure she was gone,
that he'd never hold her again. His grip tightened, and he
buried his face in the crook of her neck as he thrust
"You're gone," he gasped as her lips skimmed his forehead.
The aching, gnawing chasm of grief he'd felt on the horizon
threatened again; he'd gone catatonic, he remembered, to
keep himself from dying.
"You know the way," she whispered, holding his face between
her hands; forcing him to look at her. "You can make this
right. You can make this real."
"How?" he asked. He rocketed from the pure bliss of the
dream he'd mistaken for his reality into the utter terror of
what a future with no possibility of Buffy in it left him.
He was not allowed to die; he couldn't just join her. There
were people here who depended on him, people he had to save,
friends he had to be here for. There were destinies to
fulfill, and miles to go, and a hundred other things he
didn't want to think of. All he knew was the desire to lie
down and sleep forever because the only place he'd find
Buffy again was beyond this life.
"You're a champion," Buffy whispered as she turned him onto
his back, never letting the contact between their bodies
break as she straddled him. Her hands found his and their
fingers twined as she rocked her lower body against his.
"I'm lost, Angel. It wasn't my time. They know that. You
have the power to make this right. Only you. Angel, you have
"I don't know . . ." His confused words were lost in her
kiss as she bent her body at the waist. Their bodies were
touching everywhere now, and she was making such sweet,
achingly soft love to him as they kissed, and kissed, and
kissed . . .
"You do know," she insisted, still moving, still thrusting,
still possessing him. Her limbs were becoming mist-like,
swirling around and through his body until he felt her
everywhere, screaming in his blood, tightening beneath his
skin, and occupying the same place she always had, buried
deep in his heart.
"Buffy," he whispered as he felt her pleasure and his course
through his body.
"Would you die for me, Angel?" she asked.
He forced his gaze to her eyes . . . and found himself
inside of her. His center was revealed to him inside of
Buffy, an inner-reserve of strength he was sure belonged to
her, something she was allowing him to borrow so that he
could save her.
"Of course," he answered.
A quiet, rapturous smile crossed her face.
"Then you know."
Fred's scream brought a half-dressed Cordelia sprinting down
"Sorry," Fred said sheepishly. "I'm a little on edge."
The reason she had screamed became clear as Angel leapt to
his feet. It seemed to take him a moment to get his
bearings, and when he did, he looked from Cordelia, to Gunn,
to Wesley, and finally, to Willow. Fred stood behind his
left shoulder, looking ready to bolt at any moment.
"You're back," Willow said as something that might have been
called a happy smile had she not been grieving so intensely
crossed her face. "Wait. Why are you back? Oh, did someone
"You might say that," Angel answered softly, a determined
glint in his eyes.
"Angel," Wesley began compassionately, "I understand this is
a difficult time for you, and if there's anything you
"Thanks, Wes," Angel answered. "I actually need Cordelia to
"Anything," Cordelia said easily, placing a hand over
Angel's arm. "Angel, I'm so sorry"
"No time for sorrys," Angel said briskly. "Cordy, I need you
to take me to see the Host." He glanced up at the haggard
looking redhead beside his best friend. "You and Willow."
"Angel," Wesley began.
"You too, Wes," Angel said. "Gunn, take Fred to get a taco."
He turned and headed for the lobby door.
"Angel," Wesley called out again, half surprised when the
vampire actually listened and turned to face him.
"We're kind of on a time table here, Wes," Angel said
"Why are we going to see the Host?" Wesley asked helplessly.
"Because he has to give me an address," Angel answered
"Why?" Willow asked.
Angel's gaze tracked his friends in turn, finally settling
back on Willow to answer her question.
"I passed Their Trial. They still owe me a life, and I
intend to collect."
Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
The last thing she remembered, was a blinding white light,
searing pain, and then . . . peace.
That peace, that perfect stillness would have been the
greatest sensation she had ever known, had it not been for
the ache in her soul that cried out strange names she didn't
recognize it called for 'Giles', 'Willow', and 'Xander'.
It called quietly for 'Tara' and 'Anya,' it even called for
'Spike.' It screamed for 'Faith' and something called
'unfinished' and 'unsaid'.
Her soul spared a thought for 'Cordelia' then moved straight
on to the loudest of all the cries her soul howled for
'Dawn' and it wept for 'Angel'.
Then, suddenly, the agony and the peace fled, and she
started to notice . . . that she felt tired. And sore. And
slowly, all the names she'd been thinking of came back to
her, only now, they =meant= something. She could recognize
them for what they were, and a sob tore from her mouth as
she remembered what the light meant.
Forcing her tired, protesting body up, Buffy frantically
looked around for signs of Glory, Doc, Dawn, anything . . .
And found that she was no longer at the construction site.
Instead, she was inside what appeared to be a ravished
banquet hall. There were cracks in a marble pillar to her
left, an upturned feast to her right, and several strewn
pieces of armor all around. It looked very much as though
someone had thrown a tantrum in here, and no one had
bothered to clean it up.
"It was a rage the likes of which we had not seen in a
millennia," a cultured voice that reminded Buffy of the
first time she met Giles spoke from behind her.
Buffy spun around until she came face to face with . . . a
"It was rage borne of futility and failure; of the refusal
to accept impotence in a situation beyond anyone's control.
We were quite moved with his display. Plus, the ravaged
appearance of the room is more disquieting to potential
challengers, don't you think?" He looked Buffy up and down,
then made a clucking sound in the back of his throat. "My
dear, please forgive me, you must be freezing."
A robe appeared in his hand from out of nowhere, and only as
he handed it to her did Buffy notice she was completely
naked. Blushing furiously, she hurriedly donned the white
cotton robe, cinching the belt tightly around her waist.
"Also forgive my manners," the butler continued, "and allow
me to welcome you back to this mortal plane, Ms. Summers."
"Back?" she asked, a sinking feeling filling her. She
remembered the last time she died. She was starting to think
that the 'last time she died' didn't apply to the incident
with the Master five years ago; not anymore.
He made an affirmative sound in the back of his throat. "If
you'll just follow the staircase to your right, you'll find
yourself ejected into the City of Angels, near Franklin and
Vermont, if I'm not mistaken."
Buffy took a deep breath. "How am I . . . ?"
The man before her smiled gently, and placed a hand on her
shoulder. "Never before have I been stunned by a man's
capacity to love. Yet this creature who should possess no
mercy shows unconditional love and bravery toward those
that he holds close. He sought us not once, but twice, and
both times, he asked nothing for himself. He did, in fact,
sacrifice something on both occasions.
"In short, you are back in this world, my dear, because you
are loved, and we were in his debt."
It took her several minutes to remember the name of the
Hotel Angel had given her. He'd only said it out loud once,
when he'd called shortly after they'd moved in. She
remembered thinking it sounded timeless, like him, and she
recalled that she'd been too nervous to tease him.
Jeeves told her what Angel gave up for her; he explained
about the prophecy, about Shanshu, that Angel had given up
his light at the end of the tunnel so that she would live.
Part of Buffy was horrified that he would sacrifice
something so huge for her, but the rest of her simply sat in
stunned admiration at the depth of his love. It took the
sting that remained of his leaving away at last. The little
girl inside her, so insecure that she still didn't believe
he'd left for any other reason than he didn't want to be
with her, finally felt secure, finally, truly understood why
he did what he did.
No one told her it was safe to be with him now; she just
felt in her bones that it was. Maybe she was lying to
herself, because she so badly needed him, but as she finally
stood outside the doors of the Hyperion, her bare feet
scuffed and aching from the miles she'd walked that night,
Buffy finally felt right for the first time in years.
The lights had been turned out. Buffy breathed in deeply,
and sensed a single heartbeat inside the hotel. 'Willow',
she thought, unsure how she knew her best friend was staying
It was not Willow she needed to see now, though. There would
be time to embrace the sister of her heart, later. There
would be time spent rocking Dawn to sleep while she sobbed
out her relief, time spent regaling Giles with the memories
she had of her death, and accepting his reserved gratitude
at her return. Xander would grab her up in a bear hug, and
Anya would understand that they were just friends, and not
be made jealous by it. Buffy would be glad to see Tara
again, when she was fully herself, and not the thing Glory
had turned her into.
((Death is your gift.))
Now, Buffy knew, there would be time to visit Faith in
prison and put things right between them. Dying this time
seemed to be having the opposite effect it had the previous
time whereas Bitca Buffy had come out to play then, now,
she understood more than she ever had.
((Love. Give. Forgive.))
Her footfalls were light and soundless as she approached
Angel's bedroom door. It was open, as though he were waiting
for her. She entered his room and shut the door quietly
behind her. The robe she wore slipped to the floor and
((You are full of love.))
Pulling the covers back, Buffy crawled into Angel's bed,
felt the weight of Angel's sheets cover her, and pressed her
body against his. He slept, though it was a troubled sleep,
and she heard small whimpers come from his mouth. Wrapping
her arms around him, she pulled his head to her breast and
rocked him gently.
She was scared, scarred and disoriented, but she recognized
him; would know him anywhere, would take comfort in him
((It's brighter than the fire, blinding.))
He felt her, but his mind would not allow him to wake, for
if he were dreaming, and he opened his eyes to an empty bed,
he knew he would throw back the curtains and greet the dawn,
no matter how many people loved and needed him.
Another bargain with The Powers That Be was struck tonight.
He'd given away his light at the end of the tunnel to bring
back the only light his life had known in more than two
centuries. In return, he was given a blessing a gypsy
curse no longer held his soul to his body. Because he would
never become human in body, would never receive the reward
They had set before him, They had made a compromise.
They made him human in spirit, and with that spirit, came
the unconditional possession of his own soul.
The tears he shed in his sleep dried against his cheeks as
he felt a heart beating next to his chest. It was her heart,
and the sensation was more amazing than that of his own
heart beating. She was here, lying in his bed, at his side,
he knew it, he could feel it, and he allowed her to draw his
head to her breast. The soft lullaby of her heartbeat
brought him joy, brought him perfect, peaceful contentment,
and he knew that his soul was safe.
((Love will bring you to your gift.))
She felt him sigh against her; felt him begin to stir. She
was too tired for the reunion that awaited them, she needed
her own rest first, so she pressed her lips to his forehead,
and whispered against his hair,
"Sleep, Angel. You're home. You're safe. We both are."
((Death is your gift.))
((And death has brought me love.))
Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
Song credits: Lennon/McCartney ('cause the Beatles just
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