Summary: It is madness, to be here, dancing in the rain, and knowing that not even this is real.
Spoilers: A:tS S5, "Damage"
Author's Notes: A special birthday dedication to nariya because I hope she's out having a fantastic birthday. *Hugs* Love ya, girl. So, cookie analogies be damned, there's a better cliché to play with, so let's all go jump in puddles in the rain.
Feedback: Me writing B/A (that is not dark) is like a blue moon. Take a gander and if you like, I'd enjoy knowing if others were delighted.
There's a letter on his desk, but he refuses to open it.
Instead, he leaves it be, as if it'll be opened tomorrow, because there's always tomorrow to worry about.
Leaving his office, he turns off the light, and shuts the door, his mind no longer on the letter.
It's raining outside, hard, heavy bullets pounding into the slicked streets, rivers running down dark gutters, watery ribbons of movement. A bleak, hostile attempt by Mother Nature to seek control of sunny L.A, but it will probably fail.
No one bothers (nor should they) to walk outside. Few cars, their colors all dark and shining wet, speed past the building, their shadows long and dark, moving shapes of black with yellow lights coloring the visible rain ahead.
He's standing in the lobby, waiting for nothing exactly.
A flash of color, pale lavender and white, passes by, stops, looks into the near-empty lobby, and then pushes open doors. Shaking a soaked head of hair, eyes connect and he stares, mouth agape. He quickly closes his mouth, but is nevertheless, still shocked.
"Missed sunny California," she says, a laugh in her eyes, but her smile, so clear under the fluorescent lights of the lobby, is without any sense of humor. She looks around the lobby, and adds, "Good to be back."
"Angel?" she mocks, squeezing out droplets of water from her hair. They splash faintly to the ground and she combs back her hair with her fingers, keeping it off of her face. "Yeah, we do the introductions thing a little too much...maybe we should start wearing nametags?"
He doesn't smile. Her eyes darken for a second. She unconsciously plays with her necklace, a thin, fragile cross, suspended on a silvery chain.
It is a new cross.
"Or maybe not."'
Forcing his eyes off of the simple cross, he lets the silence grow between them, uncomfortable and suffocating. His mind is on other things. On the second-hand information he received from Andrew and the certainty that he has chosen this path and has condemned himself.
Yet he knows, it is worth it. More than worth it.
"What are you doing here?" He forces the business tone in his voice, cold and hard.
"We're not friends." He almost wants her to wince, but she doesn't. "And what are you doing here?"
She turns away from him. "It's raining pretty hard out there, you know. A person could drown in it."
"Buffy-" but he pauses then, he gets it. This is all wrong. He knows, as he knows that this rain will never stop.
He walks over to her, pressing his hand against the crook of her bare arm. Her arm is slick against his skin. "How do I feel?"
"You really want the answer?"
He considers her question and finally answers, cautiously, "Yes."
His eyes close and he takes in a slow breath, the scent of clean, cool rain permeating the air. "I'm dreaming."
"No need to keep your eyes closed in a dream, Angel," she says, lightly. When he opens his eyes, he can see her reflection in the window, rain-streaked but perfect. She is staring at a light post across the street. She hadn't turned around to see him close his eyes.
"Why are you here?"
"Shouldn't you be asking that about yourself?" Her mouth doesn't move in the reflection. Her voice echoes in the lobby.
There is something, something cold, a cold that snaps bones without any regrets, twisting inside of him. He is sure that if he asks her, she will tell him that his heart is beating. And he cannot bear to hear that.
She turns around swiftly, and she is too close to him, so he steps away. Her eyes do not break contact with his as she removes her boots and soaked socks, dropping them wetly to the ground. She wipes at something on her cheek, the faintest smudge of blush streaks across her face and she has never looked so-
A crack of sound, the booming thud, and they both turn their heads to see a faint line of brilliant white zag against the sky.
"Interesting. It was a dark and stormy night," but her voice is without humor. Her head inclines to the doorway, a strange expression on her face. "I'm going to dance in the rain. Wanna join?"
It's an absurd request, but he feels the need to decline. His mouth not working, he only shakes his head no.
"Follow me, anyway." She isn't asking. Her hand takes his own and he moves, but not of his own accord. The doors open without either of them pushing them open. It is like the parting of the Red Sea. He thinks he is going mad.
She lets go of his hand, and walks away from him, splashing water about as she walks.
The rain is not hitting her as hard as it hits the ground, but she is once again, completely soaked, as if she has just taken a dip in the ocean.
He hears, more than sees the rest. A wet smack of her white blouse falling to the cement. The heavy noise a puddle makes when disrupted by the saturated cloth.
And she stands in the middle of the street, without fear.
Her bra is soaked through. It was once pale lavender, but the rain has darkened it, to a richer violet hue, and her hair falls heavily around her shoulders, a few shades lighter than the night.
"You're going to catch a cold," he finds himself saying stupidly. He wonders if he's lost his mind, but that thought only lasts for a moment.
"Already got a fever," she jokes, knowing how weak her pun is. She's pulling down the side zipper of her lavender pants.
"Wait, Buffy," he pleads and she stops, hands frozen in their action. "Why are you doing this?"
She shrugs, her pants are unzipped and she's shimmying out of them before she speaks. "That's not the question you want me to answer. And we're not playing 20 Questions."
He swallows, tasting something bitter lodged in his throat. "What are we playing?"
She stands before him in only her panties and bra. She pushes her hair back, rivulets of rain streaming down her face. "Every time it rains, I think of one thing. A kiss. One kiss made of rain, it's so stupid, but that's what I remember."
The rain does not feel as cold as he expects as he stands there. A memory crosses his mind, of her against him, and he says, "You're lying."
Through the trails of rain streaming down her face, she says, quietly but clearly, "No."
He stands still, ignoring the fact that he is completely soaked and feels oddly waterlogged, heavy and motionless. "You don't trust me."
"We're getting closer." The bra is unhooked, sliding off effortlessly, freeing breasts. He cannot help but stare.
Trying, with all his power, to remove the pain in his voice, he manages, "Why don't you trust me?"
"You've gotten your wires crossed. And my eyes are up here." She flashes a smile with more teeth then he's ever seen on her. It is unsettling. "I don't trust my feelings for you."
Giving himself only another moment to take in her nearly naked form, he quickly focuses on a point somewhere on her forehead, not quite meeting her eyes.
He follows her into the middle of the street. "That's much more comforting."
"Don't be stupid," she says, but there is a lightness to her tone, as she unbuttons his shirt. He lets her, and then he looks into her eyes and even if she is lying, there is a brief sensation of relief, something he has almost forgotten. It is incredible.
She struggles with his last button as she adds, "What I mean is that we don't do the whole 'logic thing' well together, especially with regards to each other's well-being."
"But you don't trust me." Even he realizes he sounds like a broken record. But it has always been like this. Skipping back and back again on the same notes.
Her eyes sharpen. "Let's not do the vague, okay? I'd like to get out of these panties soon."
Pausing to let that image sink in, he then tersely replies, "That girl from the institution. Another Slayer. Andrew said-"
"Business decision," she interrupts, pulling at his shirt until it is completely un-tucked, and unbuttoning his cuffs with surprisingly tenderness. When her hands touch his own, he must stop himself from grasping them, not because he will stop her, but because he knows he will not let go.
"This was not about the personal for once. I know you'd help her, but Angel, you know what you're in charge of? I'll give you a clue. A big evil corporation. I don't want a Slayer in their hands."
"I could've handled it," he says, but even he understands he is lying.
She quirks one eyebrow up in response. "Right. And by the by, for those playing the home version, which would be you, I found out Andrew had come out here after he'd already contacted you. When he finally called me back, you'd already done most of the work. And from the angry looks you've been giving me, he relayed the message really badly, didn't he? I'm so kicking his ass once I go back to London."
He cracks a smile and then says, somberly, "Too bad you're a dream."
"You should open that letter by the way," she replies, offhand. "And I am most certainly not a dream."
And his hand is suddenly there, on the soft roundness of her breast, the hard nipple sharp in the center of his palm. Her body's a bit fuller than the last time he'd seen her, filled out just gently, a softness just so right that he cannot believe she is here.
She cannot be. She mentioned the letter. And as he dips down to kiss her rain-soaked lips, it is the only thing that keeps him centered. She is a dream.
Her slick arms encase around his neck and it is the clean taste of her mouth that causes him to moan, but it is the wet and warm twist into his body that makes him stop. They cannot do this.
Even if she is a dream and only that.
Pulling back, he looks at her and says, "We can't."
"Okay," she says dubiously, a small frown on her lips. "That makes all kinds of sense, Angel. But you know what? I'm going to get completely naked and if you don't start stripping, I'll be forced to tackle you and do it myself. Which I'm not exactly against."
She finishes this with a far too innocent smile.
He first clenches his teeth, slightly irritated that so much of him just wants to escape, just wants to obey her. But it is that smaller part, still raw and angry that breaks his silence.
"I don't care if you're not real, I'm not going to do this. We can't, not really."
"You know, just because I'm not really here doesn't mean I'm not real," she informs him as she tugs off her underwear calmly stepping out of them, not caring whether or not he's looking at her. Which he is. "You're going to have to make a choice. You can either get out of the rain or we're gonna dance."
"We're going to dance naked?"
Again with her smile, but this time, there is a devious quality to the tilt of her lips. "Do I have to give you the talk, Angel?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Buffy."
"Well, once upon a time, cavemen developed a way to speak beyond grunts - even though sometimes all you need are noises. And then people learned how to explain things in metaphors. Which are words that can mean more than just what they represent. And since it's still raining and neither of us are going to catch our death, because that too is just a metaphor, and not a true one at that, what the hell else do you think dance means?"
And before he can reply, she moves too quickly, tackling him to the ground. It should be harder, he should feel pain, but he doesn't, and she shreds off his soaked clothing with great ease, tossing them as far as she can manage. He sees his boxers smack into a nearby streetlamp and Buffy just casually shrugs in response.
"Hey, I did warn you."
He closes his eyes, because he must, as he brings her down, tasting her once more, the kiss not for love, not for hope, but for need. The need of touch. The need that she must, as their tongues lightly touch, as his hand tangles into her soaked hair, she must trust him. Somehow, she must.
"Do me a favor," she whispers between salty sweet kisses, "open the damn letter, Angel."
He sits up at that, she shifts easily and he suppresses a groan as she moves against his straining cock. Biting her lower lip, she shifts just slightly, and he is forced to place his hands on her hips, hoping to keep her stationary for just a moment.
"It doesn't matter," he tries to explain, "I am so tired-"
"Doesn't look like it," and she kisses the edge of his jaw.
"Buffy," he growls, a low warning. "You know what I mean."
She takes her hands and yanks his off of her hips and stands up, beginning to walk away from him. He knows that this is a moment, he must stop her, but he doesn't.
"If you need trust, Angel, I need you to believe in me."
"I always have." He does not quite know if he had spoken it out loud, but she nods, looking up to the sky.
"The moon's out tonight. Waxing. Which has always seemed odd to me, it's not growing, not increasing, it's waxing."
He looks at the thin silver of the crescent moon. It is shockingly bright, and he cannot look at it for too long. But the moon does not and will never kill him.
"If I open it, what will I find?"
She shrugs. "Pandora's box. Schroedinger's cat. A curse. A blessing. Forgiveness. Take your pick. The letter is for you. But if you don't open it, you'll never know."
"There are some things," he hesitates, his decision always present in his mind, "that shouldn't be known."
The rain catches at the corner of one eye and almost looks like tears spilling down her face. "This isn't the end of the world. Not at this moment. No big choices have to be made. Don't you get it?"
She sits down next to him on the pavement; only he realizes that is not as rough as road, not at all. There is something vaguely solid about it, something strong, but it is not the hard feel of cement pressing into his body. Angel takes her hand, though they have been out in the rain, their fingertips have not pruned in reaction to the constant water falling on them.
This kiss is different, it is opening and revealing, seeking to mend what is forever lost, and knowing that though so much has passed, what still remains is as powerful as it ever was, but transmuted, altered, made to fit into whatever their lives have become. He sweeps back her hair and tastes that the rain has combined in her taste. It is very nearly sweet.
She runs her hands through his hair and takes her time kissing wherever she wishes and he lets her, staying still, aching to breathe and not caring whether or not these are needed breaths.
It is he whose back is pressed into the hard-but-not-hard ground, she sinks down onto him, and it is a riot that explodes within him as he is finally there, sinking so deep that he must never, ever leave. Just this first connection, and already he fears losing her.
She bends over him, her hair acting to block out the rain, keeping their faces almost hidden in a sequestering curtain, as if they are not naked together in the middle of the street. Her eyes are bright, and she whispers, "You get it, don't you?"
And he does not reply, only move, his hips thrusting forward and his mouth seeking to reclaim her own.
There is too much to feel, to touch, to remember, that his hands make the most of the experience, trying to memorize the new sensation of her hips, the soft curve of her ass, the hard flex of her spine as she moves suddenly, gasping into his mouth.
But it is best as she rocks harder and faster, her voice catching somewhere deep in her throat, a soft moan. One hand snakes down to find her clit, aching to feel her tense, to feel her explode, that he feels the very best sensation and suddenly-
There is noise. And rain. The rain drowns out their shouts, but they do not care. There is the crescent moon shining pale and proud, which they cannot see at the moment. The clothes that have been stripped or torn away have probably floated away in the dark, temporary rivers, but there are long forgotten.
And as their slicked bodies jolt against each other in the overpowering culmination of their union, there is nothing but that certainly that there is only themselves and nothing more, and in that, there is everything.
She lies atop him, her head resting on his chest. He is panting fiercely, and must close his eyes to shut out the rain.
"Why rain?" he asks, after some time has passed.
He turns to look at her; she has shielded her eyes from the rain with her hand. Buffy frowns and answers, "It's not like it's my choice. It is raining, Angel."
Carefully, he begins, "And if I wanted it to stop..."
Her smile is sad and too old. It very nearly breaks his heart. "We're not talking about the rain, are we?"
"I love you," he hates the way it sounds, so raw and open, and then is ashamed for that.
One arm encircles his torso, she moves so that she is curled against his side. Her breath is warm against his shoulder as she speaks, "I love you too."
She sits up at that, one leg bent, arm resting on her knee. She looks both ways down the street. "Perhaps before the sex, we should have looked both ways."
He smiles a bit at the joke. The rain around them is still as fierce as ever, but has reduced to mere droplets gently slashing on them. He uselessly wipes at his face and sits up.
She plays with the chain of her cross. She hadn't removed it. Panicking he quickly checks for burns, but there are none.
"Kinda late for that, huh?" Buffy's face is grim. She centers the cross, placing it evenly on her chest. "I don't wear this for protection. I wear it for the memory. It's easy to ignore the truth."
He thinks of Connor then, but he cannot bear to linger there for too long and pushes the memory away.
There is an ache deep inside.
"Angel?" she says, after a long silence. "Are you okay?"
"I'm so tired of having to give you up," he confesses. "I'm so tired of giving everything I love away."
It is not the exact truth, but it is close enough. He has lost so much and still, he is no farther than when he began.
"It's the choices we make, that we're made to make. I've been on both sides," a coin suddenly rolls by her and she stops it, slapping it down.
He looks down at it: heads up.
"Good luck," she says. And she hands the coin to him, "You don't believe, you could just try, and maybe it'll work out."
"Hey, my powers of blind optimism have decreased over the years of death, death, and oh yeah, more death. But yeah, there's a someday." She is again looking at the moon. "There has to be."
"I don't-" but he cannot let himself finish that statement.
I don't believe.
"Yeah," she stands up and offers her hand. This time, he takes it and does not let go. "I do trust you, Angel. But I'm worried about you."
He smiles at that, his first actual, honest smile. "I'm still mad at you."
Buffy nods. "I get it. Kinda took over your territory. We've never been good at that."
He pulls her close suddenly, dips her down. That laugh, the one that's been threatening to come out since he looked into her eyes as she appeared in the lobby, spills over, and she manages to gasp, "What are you doing?"
"Dancing," he answers, and the time for speaking has ended.
It is madness, to be here, dancing in the rain, and knowing that not even this is real.
He doesn't care.
Buffy returns to him, coming back from a graceful spin, her arms around his neck, and then she brings him down for a long, long kiss.
The rain stops, and suddenly, there is silence.
He sees Buffy, a warm flush to her face, and then the moon pales, and the moonlight, along with the streetlights, vanishes.
There is darkness, but it is comforting.
When he finally opens the letter, he wonders how long she's been waiting for him to open it.
It is a simple sheet of plain stationary, and the only thing written there, printed in clear, matter-of-fact handwriting, is: It wasn't a dream.
The scent of rain lingers in the air and he knows, it was madness, but it was, unlike so many things, true.