Maybe it was melodramatic of her (and even if it was, screw it; she was a teenager, and she was entitled to a little melodrama every now and then), but Buffy didn’t call Willow and Xander before heading to the Bronze the night after she’d had to tell Owen they couldn’t go out again. She fully intended to sit there in a corner by herself and brood about her impossible dating life over a cup of hot chocolate. And for about the first ten minutes or so, that’s exactly what she did. Owen was the first normal boy who had liked her back since she’d moved to Sunnydale. No, before that. Since she became the Slayer. If she was being honest with herself, they didn’t really have much in common, but he represented her ability to still date the kind of guy she’d been interested in before becoming the Chosen One had changed everything for her.
And if Owen represented that, then it was difficult not to feel like failure with him foreshadowed that any other attempt to date someone normal would also fail.
Shortly after the ten minute mark, when there was only about an inch of formerly hot chocolate left in her mug, her stomach lurched and tingles raced briefly down her limbs. She looked around. Angel was standing there, just a few feet away from her. She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Mind if I sit down?” he asked. Then he hesitated, not quite managing to hide a grimace. “Or were you waiting for Owen again?”
“No Owen,” said Buffy gloomily. “You can sit.”
He took the seat. She couldn’t help noticing the way he sneakily scooted it closer to hers under the pretense of scooting it closer to the table as he sat down. It made her feel the tiniest bit better. But only the tiniest bit. As drop-dead gorgeous as Angel was, he absolutely did not fall into that “normal” category Owen represented. And even though he’d given her a necklace and a very cozy leather jacket (and had just deliberately scooted his chair closer to hers), she still wasn’t entirely sure if he actually liked her or just felt like she, as the Slayer, was the only one who could act on the mysterious information he somehow always seemed to have. "How's your arm?" she asked.
"From when Fork Guy slashed you."
“So, uh, are you here with more information for me?” she asked, not looking at him. It was much easier to stare into the cold remnants of her hot chocolate.
“No,” he said. “Is everything okay?”
“Do you want to know why Owen isn’t here?” She did look up at him now. He seemed apprehensive about what she was going to say next. She told him anyway. “After what happened at the funeral home, I thought he wouldn’t want anything to do with me. He almost died. But he came and found me this morning at school, all excited to go out and do something just as dangerous with me tonight.” She tapped her nails against the mug. “So I told him we couldn’t go out again.”
“Even though you didn’t want to?” he said.
“I really didn’t,” she admitted.
“That was very selfless of you,” he said.
“Yeah?” she asked. “I wish it felt better than this. I guess I’m just going to have to come to terms with the fact that the only thing that makes me interesting to be around is that I’m a danger magnet.”
Angel suddenly covered her hands with his own. She looked up at him again, surprised. “That’s not true,” he said. Even though his hands were still chilly from the air outside, they felt nice around hers. “There’s so much more than that. If he can’t see it, then he wasn’t really looking at you.”
Her breath caught in her chest a little at the way Angel was looking at her. “You really mean that?”
In answer, he only smiled. Across the club, the band finished up their song and started a new one that had a much slower beat. “Would you like to dance?”
Buffy smiled. She could feel her face going red, but it was dark in this corner, so maybe he wouldn’t see it. “I don’t know,” she said. “Wouldn’t a dance kind of spoil your whole shadowy mystery guy thing?”
Her smile widened, and she let him lead her to the dance floor. He surprised her a little by placing his right hand on her waist and continuing to hold her right in his left, then leading her in an actual ballroom dance step instead of just revolving on the spot with her like Owen had. It wasn’t very elaborate, just a slow, close waltz. Feeling a little bold, she rested her head against the right side of his chest.
Maybe normal was overrated.