Class of ’94,
“Oh my God,” Buffy hissed as she froze at the doorway of the bathroom, her hair piled on top of her head. She wrapped her robe more tightly around her body and stared at the beautiful man in her bathtub. Course, it had been years since she had even been in this bathroom, but it was still startling to see possibly the most gorgeous male she had ever seen filling her tub.
She raked her eyes over him quickly. He had dark, spiky hair that was slicked back and wet, deep brown, piercing eyes and the slightest hint of a goatee graced his face that was unbearably sexy for some reason she couldn’t fathom. She didn’t even like facial hair but this man carried it off so casually that she had an urge to touch his face. His body was deeply muscled and defined and she followed the ridged trail of abdominal muscles under the water before she stopped herself and looked away.
“Something’s wrong with the shower,” he explained in a rumbling voice. “I was going to fix it tomorrow.”
“Giles…uh…Giles said no one was renting the house right now,” Buffy babbled, inching toward the door. “I had no idea anyone would be here. Course I should have called to let him know when I was coming but I had no idea…”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I’ll just get dressed and let you have the bathroom.”
“No, no,” she said, moving quickly out of the overly warm room. “I’ll just go stay at the hotel across town. Not a big deal. I don’t want to intrude on you.”
He got out of the tub, quickly dried off and slung the towel around his hips before heading to her bedroom to stop her furious repacking. He spied her little black designer dress rumpled on the bed. Bare whisps of underthings were tossed on top of it. He immediately felt a twinge in his groin at the sight.
“Look Buffy,” he said leaning in the doorway and crossing his arms over his chest. Water still dripped from him and she couldn’t help but peek at his body once more. Sadly, he was going to have to get dressed sometime. “We’ve slept in the same bed before,” he said. “I don’t see why we can’t share a whole house for a couple of days while you’re here.”
“The same bed?” she laughed. “I think I’d remember having sex with you.”
“I didn’t say we had sex, I said we slept,” he corrected. “The first time, I believe, was when you were four years old and wearing footie pajamas.”
Buffy let the garment in her hands slip down and she slowly turned to face him. She looked over him again in shock and squeaked out, “Angel?”
He snorted, shaking his head. "Well, gee," he said, his manner very self-deprecating, "we were only best friends for fifteen years I can't imagine why I thought you might remember who I was."
She knew she should say something, but all she could do was stare. Angel. Her Angel. Bean-pole tall, skinny, geeky, coke-bottle glasses, bad skin, braces, cracking-voice Angel. He was her best friend the entire time she lived in Sunnydale. They were inseparable. He was shy and quiet, preferring to hide in the shadows while she took the spotlight. They practically lived at each other's houses and along with Willow, had been the three Musketeers. Willow had always crushed on Angel, but Buffy could never make herself see him in that kind of light. He was her other half, her perfect companion, it was beyond sexual. She thought back to all of the times that they had spent the night in each other's beds, the time they had shared a sleeping bag while camping at the lake sophomore year in high school. She had loved Angel beyond reason, but try as she might, she could not make the memory of her adorable but hopelessly backwards best friend mesh with the Greek god lounging in the doorway to her old bedroom.
"Look, don't pack," he said. "Giles was just doing me a favor, which he probably shouldn't have done. This is your house, I'll leave."
He turned away, retreating down the hall and Buffy stood there gaping like a moron. She finally managed to shake off her stupor and followed him down the hall. He was using what had been the master bedroom when her mom was still alive and Buffy entered the doorway just in time to see his beautifully toned backside disappear inside a pair of well worn denim jeans. "Angel?"
He turned around, looking at her. He finally seemed to notice that she was neither mocking nor angry, but rather confused beyond belief. He chuckled softly. "It's me, Buffy," he said. "I swear."
"It, it … " She stopped and finally whimpered in frustration. "But you can't be," she said. "Angel is all … well … Angel. And you're … you're … "
He crossed his arms over his absurdly well defined chest and smiled. "I'm …? " he prompted.
She whimpered again. "You're all muscled and … and … " She finally seemed to mentally clasp onto an idea and went on the offensive. "If you're Angel, where's your braces and your glasses?"
She thought for a moment he was going to laugh at her, but instead he cleared his throat and tried to make his expression serious. "Braces, as a rule," he said, "come off. And I had laser surgery on my eyes. As for the muscles, I'm not eighteen, I'm twenty-eight. I grew up."
She looked at him. It wasn't the tone of his voice so much as the way he spoke. "Angel?" she said softly.
Smiling, he walked over to her and pulled her into a hug. "Good to see you, Buffy."
Buffy took a quick bath trying not to dwell on the fact that Angel’s new sexy body had just filled the same space. She dried off and dressed in a pair of yoga pants and a tank top feeling better already. She was still whirling in confusion. How on earth had Angel transformed from that geeky, awkward boy into a man so sexy she couldn’t even make herself believe it was actually him?
She heard him whistling downstairs and took the opportunity to sneak into his bedroom. She looked around the room. A picture on the bedside table revealed a picture of her, Willow and Angel in high school all laughing together. She smiled at the memory. She missed the old days when things were so simple. A portable CD case lay on the dresser and she picked it up, sitting on the bed to leaf through it. Every single one of her nine CDs were in it, all in the front. She sniffled and held it to her chest.
“I have all your magazine covers too,” Angel said from the doorway with a fond look on his face. “But they’re in storage.”
“You have all my CDs,” Buffy said, happily, before realizing she had just been busted. “I mean, I didn’t mean to snoop, but-“
“But you couldn’t help yourself,” he chuckled. “I knew you would. Come on, I made soup and sandwiches.”
“What do you mean, I couldn’t help myself?” she demanded, setting down the CD case and following him. “I am *so* not a snoop.”
“Like the time you begged Willow to break into the school computer system to find out Scott Hope’s class schedule?” he asked, walking down the stairs.
“That was completely different,” Buffy huffed. “Besides, it’s not like I changed my class schedule around him or anything.”
“That’s only because Snyder wouldn’t let you,” he said, doling the canned soup into bowls and setting them on the table. She smiled when she saw it was Chicken and Stars, her favorite.
“Thanks.” For some reason she felt sentimental being with Angel again. There was also the mind numbing lust that made her libido beg her to call and break up with her rock star boyfriend, Spike. “Will’s flying in from Seattle in a few days,” Buffy said, struggling for a conversation topic. “She’s bringing Oz with her.”
“Yeah, I know,” Angel answered. “She called me.”
“You guys still talk?” Buffy said, in surprise. “But she didn’t tell me she still talked to you. I talk to her every couple of months.”
“You probably didn’t ask,” he said with a shrug and took a big bite of his grilled cheese sandwich. Something tugged at his heart at the idea that Buffy had never asked about him, that all these years he had kept tabs on her career and her love affairs, only to realize that she didn’t even give him a second thought.
She took a sip of her soup and finally worked up the courage. "Are you still mad at me?" she asked.
Angel looked at her, his expression unreadable. The silence hung between them. Silence that had stretched for an entire decade. Buffy had looked around her room curiously when she arrived home. Over the years, the dry wall had been patched. There was no longer the gaping hole that Angel had punched the afternoon of their graduation from high school. To this day, Buffy still wasn't sure what had transpired that afternoon. All she knew was that her best friend in the entire world said some incredibly hurtful things to her - things so hurtful she hadn't spoken to him for ten long years.
"I was never mad at you, Buffy," he said calmly. "I was in love with you."
She dropped her spoon and it clanged loudly against the bowl. "In love with me?"
He nodded, his lips pursed together tightly. "Hopelessly," he said. "I know I was a jerk that afternoon, but you were ripping out my heart. I'd waited years for you to notice me and you never did and all I knew was that you were leaving me behind."
"I didn't - I mean, I had no idea."
He laughed. "Yeah, I got that much and let me tell you, it did wonders for my self-esteem."
"Angel, I'm so sorry, I had no idea - "
He held up his hand smiling. "It's okay, Buffy," he said. "It hurt. I won't pretend that it didn't. But I was young and stupid. I was so blinded by my emotions that I never stopped to think about how much I loved you as a friend. I don't blame you for not talking to me. I wouldn't have spoken to me either. But as much as watching you walk away broke my heart, losing my best friend hurt worse. And I didn't have anyone to blame but myself."
"I missed you too," she said softly.
He shrugged. "Time marches forward," he said. "I was convinced I was going to die from my broken heart, but I didn't. Obviously."
She shook her head, realizing for the first time that he apparently knew all about her life, but she knew nothing about his. "What did you do after school? I didn't know you were still in Sunnydale."
“I never left,” he said. “I went to UC Sunnydale. Got my MAE and now I’m a History teacher at Sunnydale High.”
“You never got married?” she asked, pretending to be casual and absorbed in her soup.
“Actually, I just broke off my engagement to Cordelia a week ago,” Angel said, matter of factly. “That’s why I needed to stay here for a little while until I can find a new place. The house needs a few odds and ends repaired, so I’m fixing them in lieu of rent.”
“You were engaged to Cordy?” Buffy blustered. “Cordelia I’m-A-Huge-Bitch-And-I-Have-Perfect-Tits Chase? I’m assuming you’re going to tell me that she’s changed and is a saint now, right?”
“No,” Angel said, laughing. “She’s just as beautiful and self-centered as she always was. We were actually doing fine and planning the wedding when I got a job offer at NYU. It would have tripled my salary, but I didn’t take it. Cordy was furious when she found out I rejected their offer. Basically, it escalated from there and finally I broke off the engagement. She wants to leave and go somewhere glamorous and exciting.”
“And you would be miserable in that big city,” Buffy said sympathetically.
“Yeah,” Angel nodded.
“I can’t believe you were engaged to Cordy,” Buffy said, still stunned by the news. “How long were you two together?”
“Three years,” he said, ignoring her choked snort of disbelief. “I can’t believe you’re dating that Sid Vicious wannabe.”
“Yeah, well…those engaged to Cordy cannot throw stones,” Buffy said after a moment of silence. Grinning stupidly at him, she dug into her sandwich.
Later on that night, Angel laid awake in bed and stared at the ceiling. He and Buffy had talked late into the night about anything and everything, catching up. He had forgotten how beautiful she really was up close, how her eyes sparkled, how smooth and soft her skin. He had forgotten how easy it was to talk to her and how she made him feel. Ten years was a very long time to dream about the one that got away and time had softened her memory, made it into a faded photograph.
He had been prepared for her arrival – or he thought he had. He was sure she’d breeze into town on the night of the reunion and out again the following morning to rejoin her fabulous life of the rich and famous. He never thought she’d come two weeks early. He never thought he’d take one look at her and fall in love all over again.
Lightning outside of the window brightened the room periodically and he heard rain start to patter against the window in concert with exceptionally loud thunder. In the middle of his musings the bedroom door creaked open and he heard the pattering of feet. Buffy dove into bed and huddled under the covers next to him.
“Buffy…?” Angel said in confusion as she huddled close to him and nearly jumped on top of him when another loud crack of lightning sounded. “You’re still afraid of thunderstorms?”
“No,” she lied, jumping again when thunder seemed to shake the house. “I’m just…uh…coming in to say ‘hi.’”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to-“ he started, when Buffy threw back the covers and showed him her feet. He laughed out loud when he saw she was wearing red flannel footie pajamas. “They make those for adults?” he asked incredulously.
"Yes," she said, half scared, half petulant. "Can I stay? Please."
Her voice was so pathetic that Angel immediately caved. "Fine," he said, pulling one of the pillows from behind his head and offering it to her.
Buffy punched the pillow, making herself comfortable. Sex god body aside, this was Angel and being around him was like falling back into her favorite old blankie. "I don't know what your problem is," she huffed. "We've done this like a million times."
Angel rolled his eyes toward the dark ceiling and sighed. "Yes, but I have to get up early tomorrow morning."
Pushing herself up on one elbow, Buffy looked at him. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"I'd like to actually get some sleep," he said. He neglected to mention that one of a myriad of mitigating factors in his break up with Cordelia had been that Angel found it difficult to sleep in the same bed with another person. Sex was fine, but sleeping was an entirely different matter.
"I don't snore."
"Yes you do," he said, "but that's not the point."
"Well, so what is the point?"
"Never mind," he said, rearranging the covers, trying to get comfortable.
She kneed him none too gently in the side. "'Fess."
"Fine," he said. "For the record, past the age of about thirteen, whenever we slept together, I didn't sleep."
She was quiet for a few moments. "Why didn't you sleep?"
"Oh, I don't know," he said sarcastically, "I'm sure any fifteen year old boy spooned on a double bed between two of the hottest girls on the planet would have no trouble sleeping."
"Ewww!" Buffy squeaked, laughing. "That's pervy."
"That is not pervy," Angel snapped in exasperation. "I was a nerd, Buffy, not a goddamn eunuch. And even if I wanted to ignore you, you were always making things difficult."
"How was I making things difficult?"
"Your choice of sleepwear was not exactly … demure," he said dryly.
She gasped in mock outrage. "It wasn't like I was shopping at Agent Provacateur," she snapped. "They were nighties."
"Nighties," Angel snorted. "I remember the one with the tiny little pink flowers and the little ribbon that tied right around the - "
Buffy smacked him with the pillow, cutting off his recounting of her teenage sleepwear. "You're so gross," she said, but she was laughing so hard that he knew she wasn't really mad.
When they both finally stopped laughing and fell back on the bed, Buffy took a deep breath. "We're not seventeen anymore," she said. "And being with Cordelia for three years, I'm sure you're well past that stage."
Angel chose to keep his mouth shut. Buffy took his silence for tacit agreement and rolled over on to her side, cuddling against him. By the time the next clap of thunder came, she was out cold. Angel looked over at her, at his best friend, the woman that he had loved and probably would love for his entire life. He hadn't realized until tonight just how much he missed her.
He took a deep breath, inhaling her distinctive vanilla scent. Too bad he couldn't sleep with women.
Two minutes later, he was sound asleep.