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Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. –Benjamin Franklin

Buffy marveled at the rise and fall of Angel’s chest as he slept. Sometimes, she still had to remind herself that she wasn’t dreaming. Just a few short months ago, her life had completely changed when Angel walked through her door, battered and beaten from battle. And he had been human. Angel had said a prophecy about him had been fulfilled, but Buffy liked to think that maybe, just maybe, someone up there was finally giving them a break.

She pinched herself. Nope, she wasn’t dreaming.

A ray of morning sun splayed across his face as Angel still slept. But she wanted him awake, because if he was awake, they could do stuff.

Fun stuff.

Naughty stuff.

Leaning over him, Buffy placed a kiss on his face, then his neck, then moved to his ear and begin to nibble on it. That ought to do it, and sensing she was right, she turned to look at his open eyes.

“Good morning,” she said huskily.

Angel smiled and responded by pulling her face to his and kissing her lips. They continued that way for a while until they needed a breath and separated.

“Good morning,” Angel finally said.

“I’m glad you’re awake.”

“You’re up before me? Usually it’s the other way around.”

“Well I couldn’t sleep.” Underneath the covers, Buffy slid her hand down Angel’s body. She wrapped her fingers around his morning erection and grinned. “Oh, looks like someone else is up too.”

“Morning sex?” Angel asked, grinning.

“I have a better idea. How about all-day sex? With everyone coming over tomorrow, this is the last day we'll have the apartment completely to ourselves until Christmas is over. So, we might as well take advantage of the peace and quiet."

“Yes, we should,” Angel agreed, then pulled her face to his for another kiss.

Out of habit, Angel reached over to the nightstand drawer and pulled out a condom.

"We don't need those. Remember I just started the pill? We can be spontaneous now."

Angel grinned. "Oh right."

Buffy moved to straddle him, then eased herself onto his erection. Slowly, she began to move.

Angel settled his hands on her hips and grinned at her in appreciation. “I love when you wake me up like this.”

Buffy smiled at him. "I’ll make a note to do it more often then. Does that feel good?"

Angel closed his eyes and moaned in response.

"I'll take that as a yes."

A pounding on the apartment door halted Buffy's movements.

Angel’s eyes flew open. "I thought you said they weren't coming until tomorrow."

"They're not. It's probably just one of the neighbors. They'll go away." Buffy resumed her ministrations.

Whoever was at the door knocked again.

"They're not going away,” Angel said.

“They’ll call if it’s important,” Buffy said, then leaned forward to kiss him on the mouth in an effort to distract him, though clearly the person at the door was ruining the moment.

"Buffy!" yelled a familiar voice.

"Shit! It's Dawn!" Buffy detached herself from Angel and flew off the bed.

“Buffy? Buffy, are you home?"

"Hold on!" Buffy yelled as she grabbed her robe and hastily pulled it on.

“Why is Dawn here?” Angel asked as he began to scramble for his own clothes.

“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Buffy tied her robe closed and headed out the door. She closed the bedroom door behind her and made her way to the living room.

“Buffy?” Dawn called out again.

“Coming!” Buffy rushed to the door and opened it.

In the hallway, her sister stood with disheveled hair, a tear-streaked face, and had two pieces of luggage and an oversized purse which she appeared to be struggling with.

“Dawn, I thought you weren’t coming until tomorrow.”

“Keefer broke up with me!” Dawn sobbed.

“Oh no. Sweetie, I’m so sorry. Come in. Let me help you with your bags.”

Dawn gratefully handed the heavy shoulder bag over to her and left the other suitcase out in the hallway. Buffy wheeled it in and closed the door.

“I’m sorry to just come over like this,” Dawn said as she threw her purse onto the coffee table and collapsed on the couch. “Obviously you weren’t expecting me.”

“How did you get here?”

“I took the overnight train.”

“Why didn’t you call? I could have met you at the station.”

“I did call. I left you a message and sent you a few texts. I guess you didn’t get them.”

Buffy suddenly remembered her cell phone in her coat pocket, which had been tossed over the chair in her haste to get to bed with Angel last night. She dug the phone out of the pocket and saw the missed messages. “I’m so sorry, Dawnie. We went to the movies last night and I forgot to take my phone off silent. Why didn’t you try the land line?”

“Because I had to get a new phone and I couldn’t remember your other number. I had to leave, Buffy. I just couldn’t stay in that hotel with that jerk for one more second!”

Dawn burst into tears, and Buffy rushed over to the couch to comfort her sister. “Sweetie, I am so sorry about all of this.” Buffy pulled her close, and Dawn cried into her shoulder.

“Do you have any tissues?” Dawn pulled away and wiped her eye with her finger.

“Yes, right here.” Buffy handed her the box from the coffee table. Dawn took two and blew her nose.

“Thanks.”

“Tell me what happened. What did Keefer do to you?”

“Well first, we got into an argument because he wanted to blow off Rome and go to Amsterdam with his buddies instead. And when I got mad and told him I wasn’t going with him, he came up with some crap about us being incompatible. And that things had changed between us. And then, he said that maybe we should—we should—see other people!” Dawn burst into tears again.

“That asshole,” Buffy muttered as she tried to console Dawn again.

The bedroom door opened, and Angel took in the sight of a sobbing Dawn and looked at Buffy with a concerned expression on his face.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Her boyfriend broke up with her,” Buffy told him.

Dawn glanced at Angel and took note of his bedhead look, then took notice of her sister wearing only a robe. “Oh god, you two were having sex, weren’t you? That’s why it took you forever to come to the door. I’m sorry! I’ll just leave and take a walk or something!”

Dawn grabbed her purse, but Buffy reached for her arm and held her back. “Dawn, you are always welcomed here. You don’t have to go.”

“Please, stay, Dawn,” Angel said. “I’m sorry about what happened.”

Dawn sat back down and blew her nose again.

Angel reached for his leather jacket and pulled it on. “How about I go pick up some breakfast for us all and let you two talk for a while?”

Buffy looked to Angel gratefully. “Thank you,” she mouthed.

Angel gave her a quick kiss. “Be back in a few.”

“Okay, thanks honey.”

Once Angel had left, Buffy turned to her sister. “Tell me everything.”

Dawn took off her coat and slipped off her shoes, making herself more comfortable. “There’s not really much to tell. He was a stupid mistake and I should have known better.”

“Hey, you’re allowed to make stupid mistakes when it comes to guys. I know I sure have. Don’t beat yourself up. And anyway, just because he was a mistake doesn’t give him the right to treat you like crap.”

“I just thought he was different. He made me feel things that I never felt before. And then…” Dawn stopped talking and begin balling up her tissue.

“And then what? You can tell me, Dawn.”

Dawn nodded and continued to play with her tissue. “And then we had sex.”

“Oh, Dawnie. Did it not go well?”

Dawn tossed her tissue aside and looked up at her sister. “Actually, it was nice. But then the next day, it was like he started acting different. Distant. Like, now that he had gotten what he wanted from me, he was ready to find his next conquest or something.”

“Well, look on the bright side.”

Dawn looked at her, confused.

“At least he didn’t become a homicidal vampire and try to kill you.”

“No, I guess you’ve got me beat there. But I don’t think Keefer and I can work through our problems like you and Angel did.”

“Oh, but I’ve had experience with the Keefer-types too. And they’re not worth it. Listen, I know it hurts right now, and it’s going to hurt for a long time, but trust me, you’re better off without that loser.”

“I thought he was being distant because of finals. He was stressed out because he had a couple of classes he wasn’t doing so good in. I’d offer to help him study, but he’d blow me off and say that he was studying with classmates. Then after the semester was over, I thought maybe spending the holidays abroad would bring us closer. And it seemed like it did for a while.”

“Until he wanted to go party with his buddies and broke up with you.”

Dawn nodded. “So much for our romantic European getaway. It just makes me so mad that he’s moved on with his life already and is off having fun, while I’m here depressed and having a miserable Christmas.”

“Do you want me to beat him up for you?”

Dawn cracked a smile. “He deserves it.”

“I’m serious. Say the word and it’ll be done. I’ve only killed four vampires this month. I’m itching for something to beat up.”

“Really? Only four?”

“Yeah, crazy huh? It’s the new normal with so many slayers.”

“What if there’s no more vampires to kill?”

“That would be nice, but there’s always evil. It’ll never end.”

Dawn shrugged her shoulders. “I guess you’re right.”

“Angel should be back soon with breakfast. How about you put your things in the guest room and get settled in?”

Dawn stood up and gathered her purse. “Thanks, but I think I’m just going to take a shower and sleep for a while if that’s okay. I’m not really hungry right now.”

“Okay, we’ll just save some for you for later.”

“Thanks, Buffy.” Dawn picked up her bag and wheeled her suitcase into the guest bedroom.

~*~*~*~

Dawn emerged from the bedroom a few hours later and found her sister and Angel conversing at the table.

"Hey sleepyhead," Buffy teased. "Angel picked up some donuts from the bakery down the street.” Buffy indicated the bag on the table.

"I got the powdered sugar ones because I know those are your favorite,” Angel told her.

"Thanks, Angel," she said and joined them at the table. She opened the bag and took one donut out.

"So, Dawn, Angel and I had an idea. We’re thinking you need a distraction. How about the three of us spend the day touring Rome?"

Dawn frowned. “I don’t know. I've kind of seen it all already."

"You haven't seen it all, and plus, there's even some new stuff to see," Buffy assured her. "Come on, Dawn, which would you rather do, stay here in this apartment and mope all day about the jerk who broke your heart, or go out and have some fun?"

Dawn seemed to consider it. "Okay, I guess."

~*~*~*~

Angel looked up from his book when Buffy came into the bedroom.

"Is Dawn settled in for the night?"

Buffy closed the door behind her. "Yes, she's gone to bed, which is where I want to be right now."

Buffy hopped on the bed and straddled Angel. She took his book, closed it, and placed it on the nightstand "Except I don't want to sleep right now."

Angel grinned. "Should we continue what we started this morning?"

"Yes, definitely." Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips against his. As she did, Angel moved his hands underneath her shirt.

Suddenly, Buffy stopped and pulled away.

"What's wrong?” Angel asked, confused.

"I think I heard Dawn."

They both listened for a moment. Through the closed door, they could hear the faint sound of Dawn sobbing.

"Oh no," Buffy said with a sigh.

"She's taking this breakup pretty hard, huh?"

Dawn’s sobbing escalated.

"Yeah. I'm sorry, but I can't do this when my sister is upset. I'm going to go check on her."

"Of course."

"I’ll be back. Don't fall asleep." Buffy gave him a quick kiss, a wink to hint at what was for later, then left the bedroom.

~*~*~*~

Angel continued reading his book while he waited for Buffy to return. Dawn had finally stopped crying, which was a relief. Shortly after, he heard Buffy and Dawn talking in the living room.

After a while, Angel soon realized he didn’t hear voices anymore. He glanced at the clock, realizing nearly an hour had passed. Angel put his book away and got out of bed.

He found the girls in the living room. They were both asleep on the couch, with Buffy’s head at one end and Dawn’s on the other. Angel smiled at the picture, then reached for the blanket over the couch. He wrapped the two of them up, then headed to bed himself.

~*~*~*~

Angel had just finished shaving when Buffy stepped into the bathroom. She wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Good morning,” she said.

“Hey. I missed you last night.”

“I’m so sorry. I really didn’t mean to fall asleep. Dawn and I spent so much time talking. I guess I was more tired than I thought. I hope you weren’t waiting too long.”

“It’s okay. I’m glad you and your sister got to talk. How’s Dawn?”

“A little better, but it’s morning so she’s a bit groggy. Might not want to talk to her until she has some coffee. I made some by the way.”

“I thought I smelled some brewing.”

Angel turned around, met Buffy’s eyes, then kissed her. Angel deepened the kiss and ran his hands underneath her shirt.

Buffy reluctantly pulled away. “Oh, we can’t…”

“Are you sure? Because I can be really fast.”

“They’re going to be here any minute now. Trust me, we won’t have time. Giles is always punctual.”

As if on cue, there was a knock on the door.

“They’re here!” Dawn yelled from the other room.

“See?” Buffy said.

“Let me grab a shirt and I’ll be right out.”

“Okay.” Buffy kissed him one last time, then left the room.

Dawn and Buffy both raced to the front door. Buffy opened it.

“Hey, former roomie!” Andrew said as he enveloped Buffy in a hug that took her off guard. “Merry Christmas! Or as our Italian friends say, Buon Natale!”

She laughed. “Hey, Andrew. Buon Natale.”

Behind him, Giles walked in. His demeanor was more subdued than Andrew’s, but the smile on his face told Buffy he was clearly just as excited as Andrew to be here.

“Hey, Giles,” Buffy said.

“It’s good to see, Buffy.” The older man gently hugged the woman he considered an honorary daughter, then stood back to look at her. “You look well.”

Buffy smiled. “Thanks.”

“Hey, Buffy!” came a familiar voice standing behind Giles. The redhead put her bags down and extended her arms to hug her best friend. “Hey, Professor Rosenburg!” Buffy said as she hugged her, making Willow laugh.

“I’m thinking about getting my doctorate,” she whispered. “It’ll be Dr. Rosenberg someday.”

Buffy smiled. She had no doubt that Willow wouldn’t succeed.

Dawn was hugging Giles when Willow caught sight of her.

“Hey, Dawn!”

“Hey, Willow.”

The girls hugged, and when they pulled away, Willow looked her up and down. “Did you get taller?”

"No, it's just these boots," she said, indicating the high heels on them. "I bought them in Milan. They were way expensive but I decided to treat myself."

"Well good for you! Those are cute! So hey, where's Keefer? I can't wait to meet him!"

Dawn was quiet for a moment with a pained expression on her face. "He's not here!" Dawn, on the verge of tears, ran off to the guest room and closed the door.

"What did I say?" Willow asked, confused.

"They broke up," Buffy said. "Dawn's not taking it very well."

Willow looked off to the closed bedroom door. "Oh, poor Dawnie."

Angel emerged from the bedroom to greet everyone. Though he had been somewhat nervous about having company, Willow’s bright smile put him at ease.

"Hey, Willow."

"Hey, Angel." Willow gave him a quick hug, then stood back to examine him. "Wow, humanity looks good on you. You have color in your cheeks now. Oh..." Willow caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror and giggled.

Angel gave her a confused look.

"Sorry. I’m just not used to seeing your reflection in the mirror."

Angel smiled. "Yeah, I’m still getting used to that myself."

Willow smiled. "Bet it makes shaving a whole lot easier now."

Angel laughed. "Yes, it certainly helps."

~*~*~*~

Later that afternoon, Xander arrived with his new girlfriend. Buffy had never met her, but had already gotten an earful about her from Dawn who didn’t much care for her.

“You must be Jo.”

“And you’re Buffy!” Jo said. “Xander’s told me so much about you. Natty not so much, the little snot.”

“Natty? Oh, Natalie. That’s right, you’re Natalie’s sister.”

“I used to beat my little sister up all the time, and I enjoyed it. Except when she whined like a baby that time I broke her nose. You have a little sister. I’m sure you can relate to how annoying they can be at times.”

“Actually, we’ve gotten along much better now that we don’t live together—“

“And now, she’s a slayer and can beat me up!” Jo continued. “I can’t win. Do you have anything to eat?” With that, Jo walked into the kitchen and opened up the refrigerator.

“Isn’t she great?” Xander said, smiling after her.

Buffy gave him a forced smiled.

~*~*~*~

Buffy was already in bed when Angel finished up in the bathroom. He hoped that tonight, maybe they could finally get some alone time.

Angel slipped into bed and turned off the lamp. “Alone at last,” he whispered as he moved closer to her. Her back was faced to him, so he wrapped his body around her in a spooning position. “Are you awake?”

“Yes,” Buffy said softly.

Angel kissed her neck, then moved his hand underneath her pajama top to cup her breast. Buffy could feel his erection poking at her backside.

"I’m sorry, honey, but not tonight."

Angel stopped his caressing. "Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“Did you already start your period?"

Buffy turned to face him. "No, I just can't have sex with Giles in the next room."

Angel smiled. "I'm pretty sure Giles already knows we have sex."

"I know, but what if he hears us? It would be so embarrassing.”

"He won't. Our new mattress doesn't squeak like the old one. Good call getting the new one by the way."

"I'm not talking about the bed. I'm talking about us."

Angel pulled her closer and placed a kiss on her cheek. "I can be very quiet."

"I know you can. It's me I'm worried about."

Angel frowned. "Hmm, you're right. You do get kind of loud."

"I can't help it. Every time we're together, it's just so amazing. I don't even know what I'm screaming half the time."

Angel laughed. "Usually you alternate between screaming my name and God."

"Look, it would be different if it was just my sister or my friends out there. But it's Giles! And I'm sorry, but I don't want Giles, the man who is like a second father to me, to hear me have an orgasm."

Angel then smiled. "I have an idea."

He got up from the bed and opened up the dresser drawer. He returned moments later with a silk scarf.

“How about this?” Angel suggested.

“How are bondage games going to keep me quiet?”

Angel chuckled. “I’m not going to tie you up. I’m going to stuff your mouth with it.” He balled the scarf up.

“You know, that’s a really crazy idea, but it might actually work.”

“It’ll muffle all the sounds you make at the very least.”

Buffy eyed the scarf, as if she was considering it.

“Come on,” Angel said. “Giles is probably already asleep and won’t know a thing anyway. It’s pretty quiet out there.”

Buffy took the scarf and grinned at him. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

Angel rolled on top of her, making Buffy giggle. They kissed for a while before Angel’s hands move underneath her top.

“This is in the way,” he complained, then reached for the hem of her shirt to pull it over her head. With her breasts bare, Angel put his mouth on one, while he held the other in his palm and rubbed the nipple until it was as hard as a pebble.

Buffy moaned.

Angel looked up and smiled. “Not too loud, remember?”

Buffy smiled back and stuffed the scarf in her mouth.

Suddenly, they both heard the sound of someone’s hand on the doorknob. Angel rolled back to his side of the bed just as Dawn appeared in the doorway.

Buffy pulled the sheet up to cover herself. “Dawn! Knock much?”

“Sorry, I thought you were already asleep,” she said, oblivious to her state of undress. “Can we sleep in here tonight?” She walked into the room holding two pillows and a blanket.

“Why? And who’s ‘we’?”

Seconds later, Willow came through the doorway dragging an air mattress behind her. “Dawn, a little help?”

“Why can’t you sleep in the guest room?” Buffy asked either one of them.

Dawn tossed the pillows and blanket aside, then took the other side of the mattress and helped Willow lay it flat on the floor. “Because Xander and his horny girlfriend think we’re sleeping and therefore, think it’s okay to have sex with other people in the room.”

Buffy leaned forward to whisper into Angel’s ear. “At least someone’s getting some.” She then turned to Willow. “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable out in the living room? There’s way more room than in here.”

“We tried that, but Giles is snoring,” Willow said. “Which is funny, because I don’t remember him snoring all of those late nights we had to research some big bad. Must be because he’s getting older.”

Dawn looked up from the floor where she was spreading out the blanket on the mattress. “And Andrew has this really bad habit of sleepwalking. Sometimes when you sleep in the same room with Andrew, you wake up with him cuddled up next to you. Like he got scared or something during the night and couldn’t sleep alone.”

“That’s unfortunately true,” Buffy told Angel.

Though they never were granted permission, Willow and Dawn began to get settled on the air mattress next to the bed. Buffy and Angel looked at each other. It wasn’t going to happen tonight.

Underneath the covers, Angel nudged Buffy. He had found her pajama top, and Buffy quickly slipped it back on.

“Hey, Buffy?”

Buffy was almost startled by Dawn’s voice in the quiet. “Yeah?”

“There’s a scarf under your bed. Have you guys been getting kinky or something?” she laughed.

Buffy glanced at Angel. No one was getting kinky tonight.

~*~*~*~

The next morning after breakfast, Buffy passed Angel in the kitchen. She leaned forward and whispered, "Shower. Two minutes."

Angel grinned, and Buffy winked back at him as she sauntered off to the bedroom.

Everyone was either still eating or running around getting ready for the day, so Angel quietly slipped into the bedroom and closed the door.

Buffy already had the shower going. He opened the bathroom door, then slowly slid the curtain back and stepped inside.

"What took you so long?" Buffy teased, though truthfully it had been less than two minutes.

Her back was to him. Angel stepped forward and put his arms around her. He kissed her neck while his hands cupped her breasts, already sudsy from her body wash.

Buffy turned around and pressed her mouth hard against his.

"Fast or slow?" Angel asked her between kisses as the shower water rained on their faces.

"Fast. Definitely fast." Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and hoisted herself up, locking her legs around his waist.

They kissed again as Angel backed her against the wall of the shower. His arousal nudged at her entrance.

"Please," Buffy begged.

Buffy nearly came as he entered her. Angel covered her mouth with his to muffle her sounds. He didn't think anyone could hear them over the running water, but he wasn't taking any chances. They began to rock together at a frenzied pace.

“Hey, Buffy?" Dawn called just outside the door.

Buffy stared at Angel wide-eyed and Angel's thrusting movements came to a grinding halt.

Suddenly, Dawn was inside the bathroom. "Buffy, can I borrow your red sweater? The cashmere one? I spilled milk on mine."

"Yes, Dawn, that's fine!" Buffy shouted, hoping the girl would hurry up and leave.

"Thanks!"

The bathroom door closed, and Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. Outside the door, they could hear Dawn rifling around in her closet.

"Just give her a minute and then she'll go,” Buffy said.

“We have got to get a lock on that bedroom door,” Angel whispered.

Suddenly, the bathroom door opened again. "Can I wear your silver hoop earrings too?"

"Yes, Dawn! Take whatever you want!" Buffy hoped the strain wasn't evident in her voice, but she really didn't want to have a conversation with her sister while Angel was inside her. She looked at Angel and shook her head. “She’s never asked to take my stuff before and now she’s suddenly being polite?"

An unfamiliar cell phone then rang on the other side of the door. Dawn answered it.

“Mimi? Hey. What did you find out about my jerk ex-boyfriend?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Great, she’s never going to leave now.”

"He posted what online? So he's off canoodling with some blonde eurotrash right now and I'm spending Christmas with a broken heart? I'm going to kill him!...Yeah, can you believe he dumped me right before the holidays?"

"I'll get rid of her. Hold that thought.” Buffy smiled at him as she slowly extricated herself from Angel’s grasp and stepped out of the shower. She grabbed a towel to wrap around her as she made her way to the door, dripping water on the floor mat as she did. She opened the door wide enough to stick her head out. "Dawn, get out!"

"Hold on just a sec, Mimi." Dawn put the phone down and gave her sister a look of confusion. "What?"

"Get out of my room!"

"But my stuff is in here and I was waiting for you to finish your shower. Willow’s hogging the other bathroom."

"Dawn, I'm sorry, but I need a little privacy right now."

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Buffy, we’re sisters and use to take baths together. I don’t care what you look like naked!”

“Dawn, I’m going to ask you one more time. Please leave. Now is not the best time.”

Dawn stared at her sister, then her eyes widened with understanding. “Oh my god! Is Angel in there with you?”

Buffy gave her sister a pointed look.

"Oh gross, Buffy! You really have to have sex in the shower that other people need to use?”

“Well it is my shower!”

“Fine, I’d rather wait for Willow now anyway!” Dawn grabbed her things and headed toward the door. "Sorry, Mimi, my sister and her boyfriend are going at it in the shower..."

“I wish,” Buffy muttered.

She returned to the shower, but Angel was already turning the faucet off. He gave her an apologetic look.

"It's not going to happen, is it?" Buffy said.

"I’m sorry. Your sister kind of killed the mood for me."

“Yeah, same here.”

“We really need a lock for that door,” they said in unison.

~*~*~*~

Dawn rolled the dice and moved her game piece. "Great," she muttered when she saw the space she landed on.

"Oh, I do believe you landed on Park Place which I own," Willow said triumphantly.

While Dawn grumbled and forked over almost half her money to Willow, Buffy got up from the floor and joined Angel on the loveseat. He had opted not to play the game, choosing instead to read.

Buffy leaned in close to whisper. "I have an idea to get us some alone time."

"I'm listening."

"Follow my lead." Buffy stood up and grabbed her coat and keys. "Hey guys, Angel and I are going to do a quick patrol." She reached for Angel’s jacket on the coat tree and handed it to him.

"Oh, do you want some company?" Willow asked with a smile.

"Yeah, it'll be just like old times!" Xander said. “Except the vampires will speak in Italian.”

"No!" Buffy said a little too quickly. "I mean, this is your time off, your Christmas vacation. Don’t worry about patrol. And honestly, it'll be quicker if just Angel and I go. We're familiar with the neighborhood."

Buffy was relieved when no one objected.

"What about the game?" Dawn asked. "We're not finished yet."

"You can play for me, Dawn. I'm losing anyway. We'll be back soon!"

They had almost made it to the door when Andrew called them back.

"You forgot your stakes," he said, pointing to the collection near the door.

"Oh, right. Don't want to forget those!" Buffy grabbed two stakes. “Alright, see you later."

Once in the hallway, Buffy practically skipped to the elevator.

"So where are we really going?" Angel asked as he took her hand.

"The one place we can be alone. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner."

~*~*~*~

The gym was dark and quiet when they arrived. Buffy turned the light on and set her keys and stake down.

"This was a great idea," Angel said as he pulled Buffy close and kissed her on the lips.

A thought then occurred to him, and he looked at Buffy with concern. "What if one of the girls shows up?"

"Doubtful. Most of them are away for the holiday. I don't think we’ll be disturbed. Now, get down on the mat and take your clothes off."

"I love when you get bossy,” Angel said as he shucked off his jacket and tossed it aside.

Buffy took off her own coat, then slipped off her boots. Angels boots were tossed next to hers, then Buffy sat down next to him and helped take off his shirt.

Buffy pressed on his biceps and grinned in appreciation. "Ooo, have you been working out?"

"I have to these days. Now that I'm human, I'm not as strong as you anymore."

Buffy laughed. "Get real. You were never as strong as me."

"Well I guess you did always kick my ass."

Buffy pushed him down on the mat until he was on his back and kissed him.

"Is that a stake in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

"You want to find out?" Angel grinned at her.

Buffy moved her hands to his pants and pulled his zipper down. His erection was straining against his boxer shorts. Buffy moved the fabric aside and set it free. She then wrapped her fingers around his shaft, gave him a smile, then licked the head and took him into her mouth.

“Oh god, I love when you do this,” Angel said, half-whisper, half-groan.

It was the sound of keys at the door that stopped them from going any further. Buffy hopped up from the floor and Angel hastily pulled his zipper up.

Seconds later, the lock clicked and a young girl walked in. She seemed surprised to see them there, though not as surprised as they were to see her.

“Oh, Buffy, Angel. I didn’t expect to see you here. Hi.”

“Flavia! Hey, sweetie. Angel and I were just...”

“Sparring,” Angel finished. “She’s uh…she’s kicking my ass.” Angel shifted his position on the floor, hoping the girl couldn’t see the front of his pants.

“It’s okay that I’m here after hours, isn’t it?”

“Of course,” Buffy assured the girl. “That’s what this place is for. I’m glad you’re using it.”

“Oh good. I know you said take the holiday off, but I had to get out of the house. I have family visiting and my family is very big and loud…and Italian. So I like it here. It’s peaceful and quiet.”

“Well, you’ll have the whole place to yourself. Angel and I were just about to leave.”

“I hope you’re not leaving on my account.”

“No, of course not,” Buffy said as she began to put her boots back on. “Angel and I want to take in some of the sights. Rome is beautiful at Christmastime.”

“Oh yes, it sure is.”

They collected their coats and the rest of their belongings, then bid Flavia goodnight as they stepped out into the crisp, winter night.

“That was a close one,” Angel said.

“Yeah, a little too close. What the hell is wrong with us? It’s like we can’t go two seconds without wanting to have sex.”

“You know, it’s only a few days. And we’ve held out a lot longer than this.”

“I know. Years. We sure had a lot more willpower back then.”

“Well also, we had the threat of me turning into a homicidal maniac over our heads.”

“Well yeah, that too,” Buffy agreed.

“How about we walk around the neighborhood and head back?” Angel suggested.

Buffy nodded and took his arm. “Okay.”

They had only taken a few steps forward when Buffy stopped. “Or…I have a much better idea!”

“Okay.”

“We should get a hotel room!”

When Angel didn’t immediately respond, Buffy frowned. “Well you could show a little more enthusiasm.”

“It’s not that I’m not for the idea, but…”

“But what?”

“Buffy, this is Rome. And it’s right before Christmas. Do you know how outrageously expensive a hotel room would be? Even one of the cheaper hotels would still be a lot.”

“I know.” Buffy smiled. “But it would be soooo worth it.” When Angel still seemed to hesitate, she leaned forward to whisper. “I’ll finish that blow job I started back there.”

Angel smiled. “Let’s go find a hotel room.”

Buffy giggled as the two went on their way.

~*~*~*~

Angel approached the clerk at the counter and smiled.

"Buonasera,” said the clerk.

“Buonasera,” Angel replied. “We need a room for two, please," he asked in Italian.

"Do you have a reservation?"

"No, but we were hoping something would be available."

The clerk checked his computer, then frowned. "I'm sorry, sir, but we have no vacancy at the moment."

Buffy leaned over the counter. "What about a double?" she asked. "We'll take any room that's available!"

The clerk shook his head. "I'm sorry, but we are booked at maximum capacity. I do apologize."

"It's okay. Thanks anyway," Angel said.

Angel took Buffy’s arm and led her out of the hotel’s lobby.

"So much for that idea," Buffy said, disappointed.

"Yeah," Angel agreed.

~*~*~*~

When they arrived back at the apartment, they found the television blaring but no one watching and the Monopoly game abandoned.

Dawn was chatting on her cell phone. Andrew, Xander, and Jo were drinking and talking loudly. Willow was in the kitchen concocting something. Giles was nowhere to be seen. Buffy deduced from the closed bathroom door that he was in the shower.

“I’m going to get ready for bed,” Angel whispered, then headed off to the bedroom.

Buffy meandered into the kitchen.

Willow looked at her and smiled. “Hey, Buffy. How was patrol?”

“Patrol? Oh, hardly could call it that. Nothing out there.”

“Well that’s good to hear. I’m concocting an alcoholic drink. Would you like to partake?”

“Please!”

~*~*~*~

Buffy was still asleep when Angel woke up. He immediately noticed that Dawn and Willow had left the room. Angel rolled over to Buffy's side of the bed and kissed her cheek.

"Buffy, wake up," he whispered into her ear.

Buffy stirred slightly. "Hmm?"

"Wake up. We're alone."

Buffy cracked her eyes open and looked down at the mattress on the floor. "There's still no lock on the door. They'll be back." Buffy rolled over and closed her eyes again.

"Surely they won't interrupt us if they think we're still sleeping."

"No, they will. Dawn will probably come in to use the bathroom because the other one will be occupied."

Almost as soon as Buffy spoke the words, the door opened and Dawn came in. "Good morning," she said when she noticed Angel was awake. "I'm just going to use your bathroom. Willow is in the other one."

"See? Told ya," Buffy said once Dawn closed the bathroom door behind her.

Angel put his head back on his pillow and sighed.

~*~*~*~

Later that morning, Buffy and Angel offered to pick up breakfast for everyone. Neither of them minded the chore. They decided that having at least a few minutes alone with each other would be better than nothing.

Once in the elevator, Angel reached to press the ground floor button, but Buffy grabbed his arm to stop him.

"Hey, we're alone," Buffy whispered.

Angel grinned at her. "So we are."

Angel pulled Buffy into his arms and pressed his mouth against hers. Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and jumped up to wrap her legs around his waist.

Angel turned around and held her against the wall of the elevator.

"I want you so bad," Buffy said as Angel moved on to her neck.

He lightly grazed his teeth against her scar and bit her gently, making Buffy moan. It was odd that he still enjoyed that, though he supposed he would always have an affinity for the neck.

When the elevator started to move, they hastily pried themselves away from each other. Buffy smoothed her hair back just before the door opened and an elderly Italian man stepped inside.

"Buongiorno," he said with a smile.

"Buongiorno,” they replied.

The ride to the ground level was slightly awkward, though only for Buffy and Angel. When the door opened, they let the man go out first.

“Buon Natale!" he said and waved.

“Buon Natale,” they replied back.

Buffy looked to Angel and sighed. “Yeah, Merry Christmas to us, huh? I want sex. How about you?”

Angel laughed. “Desperately. I guess we’ll just have to settle for donuts.”

~*~*~*~

When Buffy headed to the kitchen to prepare dinner, she spotted Jo at the table. A familiar sound got her attention, and when she looked at Jo again, her suspicion was confirmed. Joe was clipping her nails. Her toenails.

"Hey, Jo, do you think you could do that somewhere else? Like the bathroom maybe?"

Jo looked at Buffy with a blank expression on her face. "Why?"

"Because I'm about to get dinner started, and I don't think people will want to eat at a table with toenail clippings everywhere."

"Oh. Well why didn't you just say so?" Jo said and got up to move.

“I just did, but I didn't think I had to,” Buffy said to herself.

“Hey, do you need some help with dinner?” Angel said, walking into the room.

Buffy didn’t immediately answer, and Angel realized she was distracted. “Buffy, you okay?”

She looked at him and smiled forcefully. “Oh, I’m fine. What’s that quote about houseguests and fish?”

“It won’t be much longer,” Angel reassured her. “Tomorrow is Christmas, and then the day after Christmas, everyone is leaving.”

“And then we can finally get some time to ourselves?” Buffy asked hopefully.

Angel smiled at her. “Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’d say yes.”

“December 26th cannot get here fast enough.”

~*~*~*~

After dinner, Willow offered to help Buffy with the dishes. As Willow handed Buffy a plate, she leaned to whisper into her ear. “So what do you think of Xander’s new girlfriend?”

“A bit annoying, and sort of…strange. Maybe not as strange as Anya was, but…odd.”

“The word you’re looking for is gross.”

Buffy looked at Willow. “You thought so too, huh?”

“I went to the bathroom this morning, and she’s got like three dirty pairs of panties on the floor! And I thought boys were bad at stuff like that.”

“And what’s with her hair?” Buffy said. “Does she ever wash it or is it always in a perpetual state of greasiness?”

“Oh, and I thought you should know. The juice carton in the fridge? Don’t drink from it. She helped herself to some this morning after breakfast. No glass. Just straight from the carton.”

“She doesn’t live here! She doesn’t get to do that!” Buffy said, horrified.

“Yeah, it’s like, when people say ‘make yourself at home’, they don’t mean that literally.”

“Speaking of making herself at home, I caught her clipping her toenails at the table. Then when I told her to please do that in the bathroom, she acted surprised.”

“Hey, are you guys talking about Jo?” Dawn whispered, poking her head between the two.

"How did you guess?" Buffy asked.

"I have one for you,” Dawn said. “I overheard her say to Xander that she forgot to pack her toothbrush so she just used his."

Buffy grimaced. "You know, Angel and I share a lot of things, but a toothbrush is not one of them. You have to draw a line somewhere."

~*~*~*~

Christmas Day arrived, but Buffy wasn’t as thrilled about the holiday as she had been in years past. Buffy sighed as she sipped her coffee the next morning in the kitchen. When she invited everyone for Christmas, she had envisioned catching up with her old friends and sister. She had not imagined a houseful of a people would grate on her nerves so bad. She and Angel had gotten used to their cozy Rome apartment and having their privacy. And if she didn’t have sex soon, she was going to explode. But with a houseful of guests crowding her space, that was not going to happen anytime today. That, she was sure of.

Angel walked into the kitchen to get himself a cup of coffee. He saw the look in her eye and understood.

“You know what I want for Christmas?” Buffy whispered to him. “You and me alone.”

“Next year, maybe you and I can just go somewhere by ourselves.”

Buffy nodded. “What was I thinking inviting everyone for Christmas? It’s not like we can really go anywhere or do anything. All of the tourist sights are closed!”

Angel sighed as he sipped his own coffee. “How can Andrew sleep on that thing?”

Buffy looked to the living room and saw Andrew curled up in the fetal position on the loveseat. “Well, he’s small. He can fit.”

~*~*~*~

The morning after Christmas brought a flurry of activity to Buffy and Angel’s small apartment. Suitcases and duffel bags were piled in front of the door while everyone scrambled to get ready in the bathroom all at once.

Buffy and Angel calmly sipped their coffee at the table and stayed out of the way.

By 6:30am, they were all congregating by the door ready to leave.

"I'm sorry you guys have to leave so early to catch your flights," Buffy said, though she was secretly feeling giddy on the inside.

Goodbyes and hugs were exchanged, along with promises for each of them to call when they arrived at their destination safely.

Buffy and Angel stood in the doorway as their houseguests loaded up into the elevator. They waved as the doors closed.

"Bye!" Buffy called out, then closed the door once they were finally out of sight. She leaned against the door and breathed a sigh of relief. "We are never doing that again."

"That would be a good idea."

Buffy glanced at Angel and smiled. "Morning sex?"

"Yes, definitely."

They were all over each other. He pressed her against the door and covered his mouth with hers. Once that urge was satisfied, the business of taking off clothes began. Angel reached for the hem of Buffy’s shirt and pulled it up. Buffy raised her arms, allowing him to slide it off.

Now it was his turn. "You really need to stop wearing so many buttoned shirts," Buffy complained as she struggled to get his shirt off.

"I think you bought me these."

"Then what the hell was I thinking?" Buffy laughed.

Angel smiled at her, then shrugged the shirt off his shoulders. He then resumed kissing her.

Once his shirt was off, Buffy focused her attention on his zipper. It too gave her struggle, so Angel assisted. Buffy then shimmied out of her own pants.

They were both down to their underwear. Angel moved his hands behind Buffy's back and undid the clasp of her bra. He felt his arousal jerk with anticipation and need as her breasts sprang free, and he reached out to cup them.

Buffy moaned as she wrapped her arms around Angel and pulled him down to the carpeted floor.

She lay on her back and smiled in satisfaction as Angel divested himself of the rest of his clothes. His arousal was hard and pulsing. Buffy wet her lips with her tongue.

Angel moved closer and reached for the hem of her panties. Buffy lifted her hips and Angel slid them off.

Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close to her body. As they kissed, she felt his hardness press against her softness.

While kissing her, Angel’s hand moved down her body until he came to the juncture of her thighs. Buffy moaned as she felt Angel slide a finger inside her. He then rubbed her sensitive nub with his thumb, driving her crazy. Buffy bucked her hips off the floor.

"Angel..." she begged.

Taking the hint, and not wanting to wait much longer himself, Angel moved his hand and settled between her legs. He pushed into her, sinking into her hot wetness, then began to rock back and forth. Together, they moved at a frenzied pace.

Buffy locked her legs around Angel’s waist as Angel thrust in and out of her. "Oh god, Angel, Angel, Angel…" Buffy cried out as she felt herself go over the edge.

At the sound of Buffy's climax, Angel felt as if he would come right then and there. He quickened his pace until he felt his own release, then spilled himself inside of her.

He collapsed on top of her, and both of them fought for their breathing to return to normal.

"Lord have mercy that felt good," Buffy finally said.

Angel chuckled. "Give me a chance to recharge and we'll do it again."

Buffy smiled at him. "All-day sex?"

"I've got nowhere I need to be. Have you?"

“Nope. There's nowhere I’d rather be than right here with you."

Angel leaned forward and kissed her again.

~*~*~*~

They eventually made it to the bedroom and had made love again by the time the sun was up.

Buffy dozed against his chest. When she opened her eyes and saw Angel smiling at her, she smiled back.

"Good morning," he said, even though they had technically gotten up hours ago.

"Do you hear that?" Buffy asked.

"Hear what?"

"That's just it. Nothing. It's so quiet out there."

“I love the quiet.”

“We’re definitely getting a lock for that door before my sister comes back. It was like living with her all over again.”

Angel laughed. “Agreed.”

They lay in silence for a while, and Buffy reveled at the feel of Angel’s warm, naked body pressed up against hers.

“I have something for you,” Angel suddenly said.

Buffy grinned and moved her hand under the covers to stroke his penis. She delighted in the fact that it grew hard in her palm.

"Yeah, I know, and I appreciate it a lot."

Angel laughed. "I have something else for you. You'll like this just as much."

Angel leaned over to rummage around in his nightstand drawer. He pulled out something, though Buffy couldn’t see what it was. “It’s your Christmas present.”

"But you already gave me a present."

"I know, but I got you something else. I wanted to wait until we were alone before giving it to you. Now close your eyes and hold out your hand.”

Buffy smiled and closed her eyes.

“No peeking.”

“I wasn’t going to,” she said with a laugh.

Angel placed the gift into her palm. “Okay, you can open your eyes now.”

When Buffy opened her eyes, they widened at what she saw. In her hand was an open black velvet ring box. Nestled inside the box was a diamond Claddagh ring.

“Oh my god,” was all Buffy could say at the moment.

Angel took the box out of her hand and picked out the ring, which he held in front of her.

“Is this ring…what I think it is?”

“It’s exactly what you think it is. I’d get on my knee, but I’m stark naked so it feels awkward to do that. So instead, I’m holding this ring in front of you, and I want to know if you, Buffy Anne Summers, would do the honor of marrying me?”

Buffy laughed and cried at the same time. “Oh my god. I can’t believe this is happening.”

Angel smiled. “Is that a ‘yes’ or are you too shocked to answer right now?”

“Yes,” Buffy answered.

“Yes to…what exactly?”

Buffy laughed again. “Yes! I’ll marry you!”

“Oh good.” Angel feigned a sigh of relief.

“Oh, Angel, it’s beautiful.” Buffy took the ring and admired the diamond heart. “It’s just like the other ring, only prettier and more expensive I’m sure.”

“Let me put it on you.”

Buffy handed the ring back to him and held out her left hand. Angel slipped it on her third finger. “Do you remember what it means?”

Buffy nodded. “Yes. The hands represent friendship. The crown…loyalty. And the heart…love. I love you, Angel. I can’t wait to marry you.”

“I love you, too.”

With that, Angel placed his hand underneath her chin, brought her face closer to his, and kissed her on the lips.