“Aren’t you going to blow out the candles?”
There is Giles, as promised, sitting at the head of the table- watching her expectantly.
“You know how things always turn out for me, Giles,” she says. “Besides I’m not sure I have the breath for all these candles.”
“Thirty-two,” Giles says. “I counted them myself.”
“I helped.” Willow said. She appears at Buffy’s elbow, pours more champagne into her flute.
“I didn’t need her help,” Giles says, as if Buffy might actually question his mental acuity.
“Best not to tell her about the abacus,” Xander laughs.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake! I’m neither senile nor incapacitated in any way,” Giles sputters.
Buffy smiles down the table. Only Dawn is absent- off in Malaysia studying the Pontianak.
“Quick, Buffy, before the wax melts all over the icing,” Willow says.
Buffy gathers her hair in one fist and leans over the cake. She closes her eyes and blows.
Happy birthday, Buffy.
It’s Drusilla’s voice she hears but when she opens her eyes, Dru’s voice fades and is replaced with the happy applause of her dearest friends.
“Did you make a wish?”
“Does it in any way involve a rubber mat, scantily clad girls and jello?” Xander asks hopefully.
“You know how that was half amusing and half disgusting when you were seventeen?” Willow says. Xander nods. “Now it’s mostly just disgusting.”
“Sorry, Xan, no jello,” Buffy says.
“I can dream, can’t I?”
“A dream is a wish your heart makes,” Buffy says.
Later, after everyone has gone – Angel comes. He comes every year on the evening of her birthday.
“Happy birthday, Buffy,” he says and his voice banishes Dru’s once and for all.
“I brought you this,” he says. He holds out a small velvet box.
“You didn’t have to.”
He just smiles. It is a joke between them now. Every year he brings a cross. The only one she ever wears anymore is the one he gave her on the night they met in the alley, but he brings a new one each year.
“I got it in Paris.”
She makes no move to open the box.
He smiles and takes the box from her hand, puts it on the table and turns back to her.
“Thirty-two,” he says.
Buffy shakes her head. “It’s a miracle.”
“May I?” Angel is holding the bottle of champagne.
Buffy nods. Of course.
Angel pours himself a glass and refills Buffy’s. He hands the glass to her and clinks his flute against hers briefly.
“To miracles,” he says.
“I’ll drink to that,” she agrees and takes a sip.
He drinks, too and in the silence Buffy looks at him. He looks the same, solid and ageless, beautiful.
“Angel,” she says.
He narrows his lips, puts his glass down next to the nearly empty champagne bottle.
“Why do you keep coming?”
He takes a step closer.
“Why have you never married, Buffy?”
She isn’t prepared for that question and she looks down at her feet, her toes bare against the pine floors.
“That’s why I come,” he says. His fingers are under her chin and he lifts her face up to him.
“So,” she says, “if there was a Mr. Buffy you wouldn’t then?”
His mouth is so familiar against hers. The instant his tongue touches hers, Buffy knows that not even a Mr. Buffy could stop this annual event. She doesn’t even know she’s holding her breath until Angel’s hand slides through her hair, tilting her head just so, and she gasps.
Mouths are made for this, she thinks. His mouth is made for this. His kiss is so possessive, so demanding, so perfect. It is worth waiting a whole year for. She feels the champagne flute slide through her boneless fingers and waits for the shatter of glass at her feet. When nothing happens she knows Angel has caught the glass.
“I can’t,” he is saying against her mouth, “wait—another—second—to be”
“Oh, God,” Buffy says.
“In you. I have to—be—in you, Buffy.”
She pushes herself away from him and turns, hoping her unsteady legs will carry her to the bedroom. There is one small light on beside the bed. Enough light for them to see each other even though Buffy knows Angel doesn’t really need it. She does though, needs to see all of him, to re-memorize the slope of muscle under his silky skin, to watch his face as he touches her, to mark the moment he comes.
He is unbuttoning his shirt and she follows his lead. She is wearing a plain white bra and the first pair of clean panties she found when she dressed after her shower. Angel doesn’t care about lingerie. Still, when she is standing there and his breath catches, she is glad.
She reaches up to unclasp her bra and he reaches out a hand: Let me.
His fingers are gentle. Hers are trembling by her side. When he removes her bra, slides her panties down her legs- when she is naked before him and him before her, they stop and look.
She is looking for signs of injury, although he heals so quickly that there is never anything by the faintest scars left. She wonders if he is looking for signs of aging. Thirty-two. But she works out faithfully and knows that while she no longer looks like she did when she was seventeen, she’s still slender and well-muscled.
Finally, she moves to the bed and he follows, kisses her again. And again.
She could kiss him forever and it still wouldn’t be enough. After he has gone, it is his mouth she will remember- his lips firm against hers, his tongue alive in her mouth. And when she is intoxicated, dizzy from it, he’ll lift his head and smile at her and the night will unravel.
He grazes a knuckle against the side of her breast and her nipple puckers instantly. His fingers drift across her collarbone, down her shoulder, dip into the little bowl at her elbow and she whispers his name. But this is torture of the best kind and she hopes he’ll string it out forever because when he is done- when they are done- he will leave and she will be alone again.
She pushes her hips up.
“Patience,” he says.
His palm grazes her stomach, slides down over her sharp hip-bone and then drifts down her leg. She can smell herself, talcum powder and sex, and wonders how he can stand it. Then his mouth is at her nipple, closed around it, sucking and pulling and Buffy feels the center of things shift.
It’s going too fast. And not fast enough. She arches into his mouth, feels his broad hand supporting her back, holding her still.
And then he is between her legs, his fingers gentle as he parts her. She watches him and he watches her as he leans into her, pressing that beautiful mouth into her slick centre, his tongue flat and then precise.
“Oh, God, Angel--”
Buffy tries to stay still. But then Angel’s finger is curled inside, pressing against her and he’s sucking her clit, humming her name and her toes are curled against the bed and her hips are reaching for the stars and …
“Jesus!” she says.
But he doesn’t stop. There is always more with Angel. Another pinnacle to reach.
He slides another finger into her, rests his thumb against her clit and slides up her body to nudge at her nipple with his tongue. She has barely recovered from her first orgasm before he has her speeding towards her second.
“Stop,” she says.
“Can’t.” he says.
She feels his fangs at her areola. The pain is insignificant. The pleasure is not.
She feels the waves of bliss, feels them pull her under and she is only lucid again because Angel is between her legs, his cock poised at her entrance.
When she meets his eyes he presses forward, the thick length of him piercing her, reminding her why she doesn’t seek this elsewhere during the months he is absent. No one fills her like this. Only Angel. He is the only one.
He is angled over her, his elbows locked, his biceps corded with the effort of holding himself still and then he is moving, cautiously at first and then when she locks her ankles in the small of the back, he pushes harder.
It is new every time. She forgets what this feels like, his eyes on her, the slant of his cheekbone in the murky light, his fingers in her hair, pressing against the tiny marks on her breast, his cock relentless. And then he twists and pulls and she is on top, her hands on his shoulders, her breasts quivering, riding him like he is a beast that can be tamed- like their love can be controlled.
She can feel him in her belly. She tosses her head back, tilts her pelvis forward and hits the sweet spot in the seconds before his fingers find her clit.
They come together, soundless, except for Buffy’s tiny moan.
She straightens her legs behind her, reluctant to lose contact, and nestles against his neck. She holds on tight, fights the tears. He puts his arms around her, strokes her back and says: “I love you, Buffy.”
He smells of salt and air and her. She licks his neck and he shivers. Buffy knows his body every bit as well as he knows hers. She bites into the firm flesh and feels his cock stir against her.
There is nothing she wouldn’t do for him. She slides down his smooth chest, making sure to tease the tips of her breasts along his skin as she goes. Then she is snug between his legs as he was once between hers. She kisses the head of his cock, licks it, swallows him down. She tastes herself on his skin and it makes her smile. His hands are in her hair, tensing and flexing against her scalp, and she lets him push deeper.
“Fuck,” he says. “Fuck.”
When Buffy moves, he moves too, surging forward and when she cups his balls, strokes lower, he comes.
Angel’s hands are at her shoulders and she turns her head to kiss his knuckles. He has the strongest hands she’s ever seen.
“Buffy,” he whispers.
She moves up, curls into his arms.
“What are we doing?”
“We’re celebrating my birthday, Angel. Like we do every year.”
He rolls over, pulls Buffy back against him, lifts her leg over his thigh and guides himself, already hard again, into her heat. Her eyes flutter closed.
“It’s not enough anymore,” he whispers. He barely has to move for her to feel him. His hand floats down, fingers pressing into her, stroking her, sending little waves of pleasure out to her fingertips and her toes.
“What are you--” She can’t complete the thought. Her head falls back against his shoulder, her breasts jut out and she feels that if he doesn’t touch them, she’ll faint with longing.
“Make a wish, Buffy,” he says. His fingers have found one sensitive nipple and he’s tugging.
“Angel,” she moans.
He hooks one arm under her knee and adjusts her position.
“Oh my God,” she says.
Her body stutters and rolls, flinging her out into the abyss.
When she opens her eyes, Angel is beside her on the bed holding the velvet box.
She smiles at him.
He smiles back and opens the box.
It’s not a cross. She doesn’t think she understands.
“I’d like to stay,” he says.
“Yes,” he says.
“How did you know my wish?” Buffy asks.
“I hoped,” Angel says. He pulls the ring from its velvet lining and slips it on Buffy’s finger.
“I had one just like it once,” Buffy murmurs.
“Yes," he says, "you did.”
Story Index Thoughts