She wakens cold.
She’s alone. But she hasn’t found that out yet.
She stretches across the sheets. Mmmm, slithery. But chilly to the toes. Sometimes, a boyfriend with a body temperature would be nice.
Buffy doesn’t know yet how she’s been cheated.
Not the soul, the loss of her lover, the pain, humiliation, the earthquake of loss and killing that will be her next few months.
And not the softer, less tangible ways she’s missing out right now. Those will take longer to recognise.
Later, she’ll finally learn the joy of warm sleepy afterglow. Waking to smile into your lover‘s eyes, sharing silent memories of recent pleasure. Even with only her body heat to contribute, there‘s a post-coital cosiness to relish. She will start to explore this with Angel in months to come, but always with an undercurrent of tension. They’ll never quite recapture that boneless contentment we can see as she moves across the bed, blindly seeking her love, because instinct demands they be closer.
She’s lost other sleepy pleasures too. Lying in the grey-dark admiring the long lines of him in silvery outline. Why can you instantly tell a man’s back from a woman’s? Is it the curve of the hips? Or breadth of muscled shoulder, part-buried in pillows but still tell-tale? Whatever, it’s enough to make the sight powerfully erotic even to the most drowsy. Tempted: should she touch, and wake him? No, tenderly: let him rest some more.
She’ll ponder these things in LA on that stolen day and night, but won’t of course remember her thoughts.
And he’ll leave her sleeping that time too, in the end.
She’s sticky. Unromantic, but true, and it starts to niggle at the fuzzy happiness enveloping the tiny portion of brain Buffy’s currently using. Sticky, slippy residue is evidence of how things changed tonight. Not that she’s specially sore, apart from the fight aftermath.
Sore. Fight. There was badness. There was a mission. There was Angel, partnering her faithfully, getting her back.
There was rain. There was really a lot of water tonight. She got soaked to the skin, more literally than any time since she died.
And this time there was someone to share the terrible responsibility, offering sanctuary and warmth.
He tried so hard to be chivalrous, ostentatiously turning his back to give her privacy. But the rigid tension as he waited gave away how badly he wanted to turn and watch her undress.
Not that she admitted that, even to herself. Flicked glances at him only. Wanting to reach out. Hoping he’d turn and she wouldn’t have to be the bold one.
Still tingling from Big Blue’s electrical charge. Every sense turned up to eleven as Angel gently investigated her wounds. Dried her tears.
And in the end, they leapt off the cliff together.
Oh yeah. The Judge. World in peril. Need to do something about that. Any minute now.
And worse: Drusilla. Alive, implacable, terrifyingly insane. That really does deliver a chill, an imminent impetus to move into action.
Angel saved her last night, though. So quick in action, when she’d truly thought she had lost the fight.
Mind wanders again. Where is he? Evidently not in bed. He may not be the most typical boyfriend, but he’s tender with her. He wouldn’t just leave. Not now.
He was so hesitant at times. She almost had to take the lead, though he guided her hands when she slowed with uncertainty.
Buffy remembers. Not just the obvious, the great overwhelming need and more overwhelming satisfaction. (Although, wow. And yes, definitely yes. Need to have that again, soon).
But also the sheer, incredible intimacy of them together. The fumble of hands clashing as they struggled too eagerly with fastenings - brief laughing exchange of glances recognising their desperation and relishing it, not seeking picture-perfect romance at that urgent moment.
The specificness of his Angel-smell, acute in her awareness as she ranged across his body. The wordless, meaningless, utterly explicit half-gasp he made when she hit a perfect spot, making him surge ungentlemanly into her eager hands.
The taste of sweat on his cheekbone as she pressed open-mouthed and frantic against the only part within reach of her lips, seeking vital extra millimetres of connection.
And at the end, the boneless mass of a completed man weighing her down, his hair tickling her ear, till returning awareness prompted him to roll away and let her breathe.
These things in combination are the core of Buffy-Angel/Angel-Buffy, their unique duet. No other man will ever smell-feel-look-taste-touch quite the same to her as Angel. She would know him blindfold and at the end of time, she’s certain.
Maybe she is different. She feels a little dazed, though that may be nothing more than lack of sleep.
No, it’s more. No prosaic explanations needed. The sugary romantic phrase sounds perfect to her now: two souls entwined last night. It had to alter them both.
But the world won’t wait. She already knows the night was half a dream only and she’s got to wake up. Can’t go sleepwalking to her destiny. That way lies badness.
Buffy opens her eyes.
It’s thirty seconds since she woke now.
Let’s leave Buffy there. Before her world crashes in ruins and her love becomes a wound.
Before she gets older.
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Summary: Thirty precious seconds just before the start of Innocence. Approximately 29 seconds before, in fact.