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Sweet Tooth

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Buffy walked down the sidewalk, a box of chocolate bars tucked under her arm. She convinced Giles to buy almost half of them. Hopefully, she could pawn the rest off on her mother. The clatter of dishes alerted her to the location of her mother and she made a beeline to the kitchen.

“How was school?” her mother asked, steam rising around her as she dumped the contents of the pot into a colander.

“Absolutely thrilling. Today we got cavities in a box.” Buffy set the box on the island. She hoisted herself onto the countertop, rapping the backs of her heels against the lower cabinets.

“Fundraiser?” Buffy nodded. “That’s great, sweetie. I didn’t know you were involved in any clubs.” Joyce retrieved a glass pan from a cabinet.

Her mother’s surprised smile was so bright that it was hard to correct her. “I’m not. It’s for the band. Skeevy Snyder is making everyone sell them.” At lunch, Principal Snyder had given each student a box full of chocolates to sell as a fundraiser for new band uniforms. Not being able to even read music didn’t get her out of it. The last thing she needed was to give Snyder another reason to keep her in detention for the rest of forever.

“Oh,” Joyce said, her face falling. She corrected it quickly before layering the lasagna noodles into a pan. “I can buy some to give to donors at the gallery.”

Buffy thanked her mother and hopped down from her perch. She took one chocolate bar out of the box and put it in her coat pocket. “I’ll leave the box by the door on my way out so you don’t forget it tomorrow.”

“Your way out?” Joyce layered red sauce on top of the noodles before turned around to cast a reproachful look at her daughter.

“Two for one special with Giles. Studying and slaying.” She had a handful of days left to prep for her SATs. Giles insisted that she take it seriously, forcing question after question upon her during their patrols. Buffy didn't think it was all that important. Even if she lived long enough to go to college, Ick and Yuck was not a major. “I’ll work up an appetite for when I come back,” she added hastily, not wanting to hurt her mother’s feelings. Buffy knew that her mom was making the lasagna for her. It was one of her favorite things.

Joyce sighed in surrender. “Okay. Be home before eleven; it’s a school night.” She layered more noodles then sauce into the pan. Buffy gave her a kiss on the cheek before bounding out the door and snatching her practice book. Her mom didn’t notice that she was a little too excited for patrolling. It wasn’t a total lie. She would study.

Rather than walking to Sunnydale Cemetery, Buffy went to the butcher before she made her way up the hill to Angel’s. She found him in the courtyard. His chest was bare, covered with a light sheen of sweat. He moved slowly with careful, controlled movements. Some kind of martial arts? Angel’s muscles were tightly coiled, ready to spring. It didn’t unsettle her like it would have a few months ago. This was Angel, not Angelus.

He noticed her then, his dark eyes finding her. Angel lowered his hands, breaking his routine. “Buffy,” he said, and her heart clenched. Why did he have to say her name like that?

She walked towards him, clearing her throat before she spoke. “What’s all this?” Buffy mimed a birdlike pose she remembered from an old martial arts movie. Judging by his look of distaste, it was not the same thing.

“Tai Ch’i. It’s about all I can handle right now.” Angel’s cheekbones were more prominent that usual, the rest of his face sunken. He slumped, almost falling into the flower beds before she caught him. She supported most of his weight, wrapping her arm around his middle. Angel’s skin was clammy, cold and wet like melted snow. He leaned into her heavily as they shuffled into the house. She held onto him tightly until they were in front of the sofa. Angel let go of her first and turned, her hand now resting on his side. She looked up at him, noticing how close his lips were. If she kissed him, would it remind him of the pain when she ran him through with her sword, sending him to Hell? Buffy stepped back like she was burning him.

Angel sat down on the couch and she passed him the brown paper bag, avoiding his eyes. He looked at the container of blood inside, but didn’t open it. Buffy passed him the chocolate bar from her pocket. “You know I don’t really…” he started, and Buffy laughed nervously. He took it.

“Chocolate is like a bandaid. Always helps me,” she shrugged, realizing that he didn’t have the same connection to the treat. Could a vampire have a sweet tooth? Dumb idea.  “It’s the thought that counts, right?” She rubbed her sweaty palms on the top of her jeans.

He turned the bar over in his hands, not making eye contact. “Then shouldn’t this be for Scott?” He was glaring at the chocolate bar like it had wronged him, fidgeting with the wrapper.

Buffy could tell that he was trying to keep his voice calm, make the question casual. He didn’t succeed. Jealousy was turning him green. “Well, uh, no. I’m not seeing him anymore. More like he’s not seeing me.”

His expression changed so suddenly she almost jumped. “Oh. His loss,” he said, trying to morph his face into a look of concern, but the corners of his mouth turned up anyway. He was so pleased that he unwrapped the bar and took a bite.

His small smile erased the guilt she was still feeling. They could move forward. “We don’t have to talk about it,” she offered.

He nodded and changed the subject to the only other thing she didn’t want to talk about at the moment. Angel grabbed her study book, flipping to the verbal practice section. “Metaphors. Give me an example.” He took another bite, the chocolate tasting better than he remembered as a human.

She leaned back into the couch, groaning. He gave her a stern look that was eerily similar to Giles. “Uh, love is a battlefield?”

-----

Cordelia was clicking her pen incessantly, going on about how if the teacher doesn’t have to show up on time, they shouldn’t either. “Like, what else could he be doing? Giles hasn’t had fun since shoulder pads were cool.”

Buffy rolled her eyes and turned away from Cordelia, finding Willow and Xander two tables behind them. She was glad Giles wasn’t here. Last night when she got back from Angel’s, he was at her house. Apparently, he was worried about her whereabouts and decided to drop by. Her mother had been furious. Now, Buffy was restricted to school, home, and Giles’s apartment. Joyce had gotten his number to corroborate her stories.

Ms. Barton, a substitute, came into the room, eating a chocolate bar, much more light hearted than usual. Her lesson plan was to fake like they were doing something and shut up. That wouldn’t be too hard. Buffy passed notes with Willow. They decided to go by Giles’s apartment to make sure he was okay. Neither one of them could come up with a single thing that would cause him to miss. He never took vacation, and he wouldn’t do something Watcherly without telling her.

Willow knocked on his door. He answered, wearing a white tee shirt with a brown stain on it. Giles stood in the doorway, not inviting them in. Soft rock music poured out around him. “Girls. How nice of you to drop by.”

“We missed you today. Is everything okay?” Willow asked. She craned her neck, trying to see around him and into the apartment.

Just as Giles went to answer, Buffy saw movement behind the door. “Mom?” Joyce waved from her spot on the couch. “What are you doing here?”

“Mr. Giles and I were talking about you. We know you have been stressed.” Giles made a noise in agreement. “We thought we could work together to schedule your activities.” Joyce smiled too brightly.

“Why don’t you go left off some steam while we hash this out?” Giles suggested, and Joyce nodded enthusiastically.  He inched the door closer to the jam.

Joyce tossed a set of keys before the door closed. “Take the car. Don’t stay out too late,” she said.

Buffy caught the keys, but dropped her jaw. “But, Ms. Summers-” Willow started, but Buffy elbowed her quickly.

“Thanks, mom!” Buffy backed away quickly, dragging Willow with her. She turned to say goodbye to Giles, but the door was already closed.

“Buffy, you don’t have your license!” Willow said, getting in the passenger seat of the green Jeep. She buckled her seatbelt securely before reaching to grab the handle on the ceiling.

“Don’t worry. What’s the worst that could happen?” Buffy laughed when Willow crossed herself. She put the key in the ignition, turned it on, and pulled out without checking the rearview mirror. Oops. “Is Oz playing at The Bronze tonight?” Willow nodded and she didn’t say anything else along the way except for a few squeaks when Buffy’s spaztic driving scared her. She couldn’t risk distracting Buffy for fear it might make her driving even worse.

They made it to The Bronze in one piece. It took Buffy about fifteen minutes to park because she kept getting too close to the other cars. Xander and Cordelia greeted them and waved them over to their table when the girls walked in. There were twice as many people in the club tonight than there were during the fumigation party.

“Did the Dingos get better?” Buffy asked. Willow looked at her sharply. “I mean, better than they already were?” she corrected. WIllow smiled and tried to catch Oz’s eye from the stage She waved at him exuberantly. Xander shook his head in answer to Buffy’s question when Willow wasn’t looking.

“Where did all these people come from?” Buffy asked.

“It’s like a Bon Jovi concert,” Cordelia answered. “Everyone is so… old.” She was right. Usually, there were only a handful of people over twenty-five at the club. Tonight, it was like they got in free. Buffy thought she saw Ms. Barton on stage trying to hit the drummer’s symbol.

“Is that Snyder?” Xander pointed. Sure enough, Snyder was at the bar trying to hold three shots in each hand. His white dress shirt was stained with sweat, and his tie hung loosely around his neck.

“Oh, my God,” all said in unison. Snyder tipped one of the shots, soaking the skirt of the woman beside him. He only made matters worse when he put down the other glasses to awkwardly pat at her with napkins. The group roared with laughter.

A group was chanting a couple tables away. “Chug! Chug! Chug!” Xander stood on his tiptoes to look over the crowd to no avail.

“Buffy, go look. Maybe it’s Giles,” he asked. Even though she knew Giles was still at his apartment, she obliged. Seeing all these teacher was like driving by a car accident; she had to slow down and look. When she did, her blood ran cold. Five people stood in a circle, pitchers of beer clutched in their hands, golden liquid sloshing. She recognized Ms. Barton on the left. Right in the center, pitcher tipped high, was Angel.

He finished the pitcher first, and the time it took gave Buffy enough time to recompose herself. Angel raised his arms in victory. She slammed into his midsection, forcing him backwards and out of the circle. “Hey!” he yelled. Angel looked down at blonde hair and noticed who it was. “Nice to see you, too.”

“Angel! What are you doing here?” Buffy spoke quickly, looking around to make sure they others were out of sight. He was wearing his usual black leather jacket over a white shirt with black pants. It helped him blend in with the low light.

“Winning,” he answered. She could practically hear the ‘duh’ in his tone. His eyes met hers for a second before he scanned her. Deep brown eyes cataloged her indigo jeans, light pink shirt, and black leather jacket before coming to rest on her face. “You look great,” he said, stepping close to her. His eyes flicked between her eyes and her lips.

She took a step back in an effort to resist his charm. “You’re supposed to be dead! No one can see you,” Buffy said. She grabbed the empty pitcher from him, setting it on a table. Turning back to him, she grabbed his hand and drug him further away from her friends.

“I’ve been dead. Undead,” he clarified, “That’s why I won. I don’t have to breathe.” Boyish pride radiated from his smile.

“Congratulations. Now, let’s go.” She took his hand again, but he planted his feet, in refusal.

“I’d love to go somewhere more private,” he purred, “But, I have to get my winnings first.” He pried her fingers from his wrist and turned around, wading back through the crowd. Buffy tried to follow him, but the people swallowed him up, and her small frame didn’t help her to bulldoze through like he did.

Just as she was contemplating crawling through people’s legs on the floor, he was back at her side. “Got it,” he said, holding up a six pack in one hand and three chocolate bars in the other.

Buffy prayed that no one had seen him.

“Since when do you care about this stuff?” she asked, mostly to herself. Angel followed her out of the club and into the alleyway. When they came out, two people were spray painting a peace sign onto the brick wall. They dropped the cans and ran away laughing. Buffy was pretty sure one of them was her dentist. “Why does everyone have a case of the strange?”

She turned back to Angel. He was leaning on the wall in that sexy way, one foot on the bricks and the other leg outstretched. He popped open one of the beers and offered it to her. She shook her head and he shrugged. “Who cares. Long as we’re having fun,” he said, taking a swig. He opened a chocolate bar with his free hand and took a bite.

During their study session last night, she thought he just ate a couple bites out of the chocolate bar to appease her. He was trying to let her know he was grateful. They were on thin ice like that. But, now, he was finishing one bar and already opening another. Buffy had never seen him eat anything before. She knew that vampires could, but it was pointless. It didn’t do anything for them. Unless…

The whole high school had been selling the chocolate bars. The fundraiser had been a huge success. Basically everyone in town had bought at least one. Snyder was eating one in the cafeteria yesterday. Ms. Barton was eating one. Now, they were up to teenage hijinks. Sitting ducks for vampires. Her mom bought ten. Giles bought eight.

Oh, no.

“Angel, don’t eat anymore of those!” Buffy knocked the partially eaten bar from his hands and took the other, tucking it safely into the pocket of her jacket. His eyes followed the chocolate then turned to glare at her indignantly. “I have to go check on Mom and Giles. You need to go back home. No one can see you.” She was pleading with him, trying to get him to understand.

“I don’t want to,” he said. Angel was pouting, his bottom lip sticking out. “What’s in it for me?” He crossed his arms over his chest.

“As soon as I get this all sorted out, I’ll owe you one. Anything. Just go home and wait there,” she said.

He thought about it. Once again, he checked her out like an item at the grocery store. “Fine.” Angel stooped down to kiss her cheek. Without another word, he turned and walked away down the alley.

-----

Buffy beat the others to the apartment. Willow had decided to ride with Cordelia and Xander. Someone was having a party in the courtyard outside. After seeing Angel off, she went back inside, telling her friends her theory about the chocolate bars. They all agreed that something hellmouthy had to be going on. Giles had to be consulted.

“What is that racket?” Xander asked, getting out of Cordelia’s car that was now parked behind the Jeep.

Cordelia laughed beside him. “Are you going to ask them to get off the lawn, too?” She batted his arm playfully when he mimed walking with a cane.

They walked towards the apartment, snaking through the adults drinking out of red plastic cups. A car was parked outside of the courtyard, doors open and speakers blaring some kind of music that sounding like a car accident. Buffy lead the way to Giles’s door, knocking loudly to compensate for the racket. No answer. Willow suggested that they may be among the partygoers.

With perfect Hollywood timing, Giles rounded the corner, holding hands with a woman. He was laughing loudly and stumbling. “Rather than snogging in the grass,” he was saying, dangling his keys, “We can go to-.” Giles stopped short, noticing the teenagers at his doorstep. The woman whose hand he was holding bumped into his back at his sudden halt.

“Rupert, what is going on?” the woman asked.

It couldn’t be. Buffy knew that voice. Upon seeing the woman, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Xander was the first to speak up. “Mrs. Summers?” Immediately after asking the question, he burst out laughing.

“Mom?” Buffy said, finding her voice. Her mother still had her hand locked with Giles. She was chewing gum and wearing one of Buffy’s black low cut shirts. Joyce didn’t answer her daughter, just shrugging her shoulder and blowing a bubble. It popped loudly.

“Oh, bloody hell!” Giles stomped his feet on the concrete. “What do you lot want?”

At first no one knew what to say. Then, Buffy rolled her eyes. She stepped forward and pulled their hands apart. Seeing them holding hands made her not think straight. “We have to go. Somewhere safe. The chocolate bars were cursed or something.”

“These can’t be cursed,” Giles said, pulling a half eaten bar from his coat pocket. “They’re delicious.”

“He’s right about that,” Xander said. Giles pointed at him like he was selecting an ally. Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia all glared at him. He raised his hands like a white flag.

Buffy held out her hand, curling her fingers until Giles gave her the candy. She fixed him with a hard stare, and he pulled two more out of his pocket. Her mom gave her one from the waistband of her jeans. Cordelia hooked arms with Giles and Buffy did so with her mother. They walked them back to the cars, explaining the situation as they went. The chocolate made everyone act immature, like teenagers. Giles scoffed at this. Joyce said a very defensive “So?” and flicked her hair over her shoulder. God, that was annoying. Pressing on, Buffy told them they were basically vampire bait.

“I haven’t seen any vampires,” Cordelia said, interrupting Buffy.

“Cordelia,” Buffy said her name in exasperation. It was hard enough getting the pair to safety without Cordelia putting in her two cents. There was no reason that vampires wouldn’t be out hunting in this. With their teenage attitudes, the adults would probably walk right up to them, picturing scenes from those cheesy vampire romance movies. The only reason they wouldn’t be out feasting would be if they were... oh, no. Other than Angel, she hadn’t seen any vampires since last night. “You’re right!”

Cordelia looked shocked for a moment, but quickly schooled her features into impassivity. “Of course I am.” Giles giggled as Cordelia crossed her arms over her chest.

“So if we aren’t in danger, can we go back to the party?” Joyce asked, a note of pleading in her voice. She tugged on Buffy’s arm.

“No,” Buffy addressed her mother shortly. “Something else is going on.”

“That’s my slayer!” Giles pumped a fist into the air.

They put Giles and Joyce into Cordelia’s car, Willow firmly situated in between them to prevent any funny business. The library would be safe. All of the resources were there, and they weren’t worried about running into anyone since school would be avoided by the pseudo-teenagers like the plague.

“I’ll go check out where they’re making the chocolate,” Buffy said.

“Slayer powers now include GPS?” She passed Xander one of the chocolate bars she confiscated from Giles. Under MILKBARS there was an address. “Evil has really lowered their standards. What happened to criminal masterminds?” He complained, but was thankful that it made their job a little easier. He got in the passenger seat, waving at Buffy as Cordelia drove away.

Driving to the warehouse was much less stressful without passengers. Buffy made good time, parking behind a crooked hatchback that was rocking conspicuously. She took a wide berth walking around it. A tall chain link fence spanned the outside of the warehouse. It was easy to find how to get inside. Angel was at the fence, holding a flap of it open from where someone had cut it. He invited her through with a sweeping arm gesture. “Ladies first.”

Buffy rolled her eyes, unsurprised. Figures that he couldn’t follow directions enough to stay away. Teenage boys never listen. “I thought you were going home,” she said as she slipped through. The collar of her black jacket caught on the links.

He plucked her free. “Got lost,” he replied. He managed to look graceful as he crawled through after her. “This seemed like more fun.”

Groups of people stood outside of the entrance, congregated everywhere. Several men were banging on the doors. Judging by the yelling, they were out of chocolate. Wading through the temper tantrum, Buffy and Angel found the fire escape. After rearranging a dumpster, they could make their way up the ladder and onto the roof.

Angel punched through a skylight and Buffy dropped into the warehouse. An assembly line of townies were making, wrapping, and packaging the chocolate bars with unseeing eyes. She was trying to ascertain if they were under a spell when she saw a familiar face.

“Ethan. Long time, no see.”

He was looking right at her. “Nice of you to drop in,” he said with a grin. “Care for some chocolate?”

Boots hit the ground as Angel landed behind her. Buffy delighted in the change of Ethan’s expression at the sight of the vampire. “No, thanks. It goes straight to your thighs.” She dropped low, sweeping her leg out to knock him off his feet at the same time Angel reached for his throat. Unable to defend himself high and low, Ethan found himself raised against a stack of boxes, clawing at the vice grip on his trachea.

Buffy smacked Angel’s arm and he loosened his grip. She reminded Ethan that words help in situations like these.

“Distraction,” Ethan managed, “I’m a distraction.” His lips almost curved into a smile, but Angel increased his pressure on his throat. He started choking again.

“A distraction? For who?” Buffy fixed Angel with a glare until he let him speak again. Angel rolled his eyes, but let up.

“You. The town,” his sentences were clipped and strained. It was hard to hear him over the crowd banging against the doors. “Mr. Trick needed a tribute for Lurconis.”

“Who’s-.” A loud crash interrupted Buffy’s sentence. The boxes of chocolate bars around them came crashing down as the crowd burst into the warehouse. Buffy found herself at the bottom of the pile, squished under Angel and cardboard boxes.

Angel got up, throwing boxes in every direction to unearth himself. His large hands clasped hers and pulled her up. Buffy looked around for Ethan, but he was gone, disappeared through the crowd of sugar coated adults. When she looked back at Angel, he just shrugged, still holding her hands. His dark eyes were playful, a quick switch from the ferocity he had shown Ethan. He rubbed his thumbs on the back of her hands in small circles.

Buffy’s thoughts were pulled from him when a fight broke out beside them. Two women had a box of chocolates between them, tugging it back and forth. The cardboard was strained, almost to the point of tearing. A crowd was forming around them, cheering for one woman or the other. Angel joined in, rooting for the redhead on the left. Buffy pulled him away to look for a phone to call Giles.

-----

Buffy and Angel walked straight into the hospital. The two security guards outside were daring each other to taser themselves. The nurses were nowhere to be found, the only evidence that they had been there at all being chocolate bar wrappers. They followed the signs to the nursery ward.

Staring through the glass, Buffy’s stomach sank. The bassinets in the nursery were empty. They were too late. She fleetingly wished that she was affected by the chocolate, too focused on teenage inhibition to feel this.

“Well,” Angel said solemnly, “Damn.” He looked to her for what to do next.

She refocused. Giles had said that the Ludicrous demon, or whatever it was called, needed a sacrifice of human babies and to be near water. “Where would you take babies to feed a wet demon?” Buffy asked the question aloud, hoping Angel would have an idea. They were too late to intercept the babies, but they may not be too late to save them from being snacks.

“Sewers.” He knew the system well; vampire subterranean travel for daytime hours. “There’s the main line under City Hall,” he said. Angel set off at a quick pace, and Buffy followed him eagerly. They didn’t speak much, just hustled. Angel’s face was set. His stubborn determination was a part of him as a teenager, Angelus, and the ensouled vampire she knew.

Near the opening, Buffy walked carefully within the sewers. She wasn’t just looking after the welfare of her shoes; walking through the low water made it hard to be sneaky.

“I’m going to call maintenance about these exposed gas lines. I have concerns about ventilation. I’m going up to get service,” a male voice was saying. Metallic tapping followed of someone going up a ladder.

Angel poised himself on one side of the circular opening, and Buffy on the other. They attacked at the same time, their movements well synchronized like before the hell dimension thing. Angel immediately went to move the babies. He rolled the cart they were on away from the water, relieved when they all began crying in protest.

Buffy went for the two men in robes that held leather bound books. They recited the Latin quickly as she approached, trying to finish the summoning. She headbutted the first one, causing him to drop the book and grasp his head in pain. A swift kick to the stomach sent him into the wall, his hood falling back to reveal a vampire. Buffy pulled her stake from her pocket, jabbing it in the heart. As he disintegrated, she turned to the second figure. It was a vampire as well. He had pulled back his hood, closing the book in front of him with a satisfied smack. The summons was over.

“Angel!” Buffy called out, pointing to the altar behind her. She didn't have anymore time to explain. The vampire took advantage of her distraction to knock away her stake and land a solid punch to her jaw. The pain radiated up her face, and she returned it to him tenfold. She pummeled him, forcing him backwards with every step. Buffy grabbed a torch from the altar, landing another punch before sticking the unlit end into the vampire’s chest. As he crumbled to dust, the water below her gurgled and spit. She could hear the shuffling, slithering of a giant snake. Buffy searched for a weapon, finding her pockets empty.

“Buffy, duck!” Angel called out. She did as she was told just as the green, scaly head of a monster appeared. She felt heat above her, and put her hands over her head. Luckily, she didn’t smell any singed hair. Buffy stayed low until she heard the last of the dying screams.

Angel hung from the ceiling, a gas pipe in one hand and a candle from the altar in the other. He dropped down and smiled a toothy grin. “We should get flamethrowers. How cool would that be?” He mimed using one, making a whooshing noise.

Maybe it was the rush from battle, but Buffy couldn’t contain her laughter. “I’ll put it on my Christmas list.”

-----

Buffy took off her leather jacket and collapsed onto Angel’s couch. She wasn’t ready to go home. Just a few hours ago, her mother had been kissing Giles. When she called Giles on the phone about the demon, Joyce had been in the background, saying something about how he should refocus his attentions. There was no way she was risking going home and seeing that until she knew the band candy effects had worn off. Luckily she could monitor Angel and gauge when the coast was clear.

Angel was hunched over, fingering through albums on the bottom of his bookshelf. He made a satisfied grunt as he pulled a record free. The sleeve had a picture of a sunset with Barry Manilow written across the top. He removed the black vinyl and put it onto a record player she had never noticed before. The sound of upbeat drums and a metallic tapping filled the room. Angel began to sway his hips and tap his feet, not matching the rhythm of the music. He took off his jacket, flinging it carelessly.

“Her name is Buffy. She is the Slayer,” he sang off key, using incorrect lyrics, “With really pretty blonde hair and giving demons quite the scare. She’d do it all day, tell ‘em gotcha. The demons always tried to spar; they didn’t get very far.” Angel stopped singing, dancing towards her with an outstretched hand.

She wanted to use her hands to cover her ears-- or her eyes, she couldn’t decide-- but she took his hand anyway. Angel pulled her up off of the couch and into his arms. He danced her across the room, only letting go to twirl her. Buffy laughed the whole time, with him and at him. “Copa, Copacabana,” he sang.

Angel kept their hands clasped but put some space between them. He shook his hips theatrically, looking like a dog shaking off water. Buffy copied his movements with much more grace, her hips oscillating to the beat of the music. Angel let go of her hands and looked down at his feet, failing at some sort of merengue. He gave up, placing his hands on her hips instead. She continued dancing and brought her arms around his neck. Angel tried to move with her, following her movements clumsily. He gave up quickly, outmatched. Instead, he pulled her flush against him, shifting his weight between his feet to sway.

The song came to a close. As the needle ran the blank space between songs, they kept swaying, following their own rhythm. Soft guitar music flowed from the record player. Buffy tried to focus on the words rather than the feel of Angel’s hard body against her soft one. Something about lovers at night? That wasn’t helpful for redirecting thoughts.

Buffy unwound her arms from around his neck. Just before she stepped away, Angel’s knuckle came to rest under her chin, directing her gaze to his. His brown eyes radiated warmth and sparkled with mischief.

“Can I kiss you?” he asked, his voice soft.

“You’re wigged out on magic flavored chocolate.” It wasn’t an answer.

“So?” Angel kept his hold on her chin.

“We agreed this was a no-go. Yellow caution tape. Do not cross.” Why would he make her remind him of that? Why would he want to kiss her after everything? It must be the effects of the band candy. Acting like a teenager, complete with raging hormones. It made Giles and her mother do unthinkable things. Not a far stretch.

“It’s not the chocolate.” Angel chuckled. He smiled wide.  “I always want to kiss you.” His face dipped towards hers and she felt his lips move as he formed the next word. “Always.”

Angel’s lips covered hers. After only a moment's hesitation, she kissed him back softly. His kiss was like coming home, awaited and comforting. She pulled away, running her thumb over his lips until she brought her palm to rest on his cheek. Angel’s hands found their way to her hips and pulled her close. Buffy leaned into him, standing on her tiptoes to get as close to him as possible. It wasn’t enough. She pressed her lips to his again with increased fervor. He tasted like chocolate, and she felt like she was getting a contact high. All she wanted to do was kiss him, and keep kissing him.

She felt his hands slide lower, coming to rest within the back pockets of her jeans. He squeezed and she squealed. He took advantage of her jump of surprise to pull her up. Buffy wound her legs around his waist, clinging to him tightly. Her lips found his again as he shuffled slowly backwards. When his calves hit the edge of the couch he fell onto it, bringing Buffy down on top of him.

Kissing Angel was intense, so much more so than before. His lips were soft, gaining warmth from her own. He knew just how to give her enough and then take it away, leaving her chasing after his mouth. Her hands were in his hair, sending the disorganized spikes in even more directions. She tried to mold her body to his, rolling her hips into his. He responded by biting her lower lip softly, eliciting a gasp from her. Buffy resisted the urge to suck in another breath when she felt his cool hands underneath her shirt, traveling from the waistband of her jeans, up her sides, and resting on her ribcage. Angel brought his hands back down before repeating the action. She bowed, pushing her chest into him and tilting her chin towards the ceiling. His lips found her collar bone, pressing soft kisses there.

“You’re so warm,” he murmured against her skin. His hands were still caressing her sides, but they were no longer cool. The flush to her skin was increasing the temperature of his own.

“You are, too,” she said. Buffy couldn’t remember him being this warm. He always felt cool to her touches. Except for that one time. The time. Until then, he had always kept their contact brief.

As his thumbs tucked under her bra,  grazing soft flesh, she knew why. Their passion had always been difficult to control. And it was usually Angel who controlled it, reined them in. She put her hands over his, pulling them away from her body. It felt like pushing a boulder uphill. This was hard. How did he do it before? Maybe she would think about that next time she tried to get him to push the envelope.

With Angel’s hands safely tucked by his sides, she kissed him chastely. “I have to go check on my mom.”

Angel helped her to put space between them, but his eyes were still glued to her lips. “I’m sure she’s fine.”

Buffy nodded. “I know,” she said, “But distance… would be good.” To illustrate her point, she dismounted his lap, standing up in front of him. She smoothed out her pink shirt and retrieved her jacket.

He didn’t argue. Angel stood and freed her golden hair from under the leather collar. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” When she nodded, he pressed a quick kiss to her forehead. His lips already felt cool again.

She walked out the door. Her body still tingled, every nerve ending firing in frustration, missing his touch. Buffy wrapped her arms around her middle, squeezing until she felt pressure from a protrusion in her jacket pocket. The chocolate bar she confiscated from Angel at the Bronze was still in her pocket. Buffy turned it over in her hands, contemplating. It had been so long since she had actually felt like a teenager. Before Sunnydale.

Buffy dropped it in the next trashcan along the sidewalk. Her shoes tapped a steady beat as she walked away from it swiftly, not looking back. Twizzlers were her favorite, anyway.