Buffy has come to realize that the happy ending that she had wanted when she was sixteen years old isn't the happy ending that she wants not at the age of thirty. It's not even close to being the same. When she was sixteen, she thought that a successful relationship meant a big, fancy church wedding with a poofy white dress and a human groom that could give her a white picket fence, 2 children and a dog. Something that had nothing to do with being the one girl chosen to maintain the razor thin balance between good and evil.
At thirty, she'd be happy to just come to home to someone who is perfectly okay to order in take out from either the local pizza place or the Chinese restaurant while she changes into pyjamas before they wind up on the couch watching DVDs of Friends together. She has friends that gush about children and marriages and the like but Buffy doesn't understand them. There's a part of her that feels thirty is far too young for these kind of things and then there's the other part of her that doesn't have the time or energy for kids or a traditional relationship.
And yes she does have friends outside of being a Slayer. Sure most of them are all associated with the Watcher's Council but she does have friends that are Willow or Xander. No matter what Dawn likes to think. Maybe she just talks to Xander and Willow more than friends like Miranda, Phoebe and Joanie because her friends from Sunnydale seem to get her more than her other friends do.
* * *
"I don't know what to do anymore Wills," Buffy sighs into the phone.
"What is it this time Buffy?" Willow asks with a laugh.
If any of her other friends beside Willow or Xander (and maybe Giles) had laughed at her petulant tone, Buffy would be offended. But it's Willow and they have this conversation at least once a week.
"Well I went on that date that Joanie set me up with and it just didn't work."
"What went wrong this time?" Willow asks.
Buffy launches in how Patrick was a great guy but just not for because of many reasons, some of which include the fact that he doesn't understand about the supernatural world and how he was talking about how he's 35 and he doesn't have time to waste on casual relationships and so many other things.
"Like I don't want to do casual but I am not ready to get married and have kids."
Willow sighs into the phone and Buffy bites her lower lip.
"What is it Willow?" Buffy finally asks.
"Don't get mad at me for asking this, but Buffy do you see yourself with a steady 9-5 husband and a gaggle of kids?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just answer the question Buffy, please, it's not an insult. But just tell me do you see yourself having a relationship like your Mom did but without the whole divorce thing and raising the Slayer?"
Buffy sighs and the phone line goes quiet as Willow waits for the answer.
"Honestly?" Buffy asks in a quiet voice.
"Yeah," Willow replies.
'Yeah I don't think so,"
"Just for now or for ever," Willow asks.
And Buffy almost hates Willow for forcing her to be honest but this is also why she prefers talking about the deep stuff with Willow and Xander (and yes sometimes even Giles) because they don't let her lie to herself. Willow won't just let her say that Patrick was as interesting as bran cereal is. She gets right to the point.
"I don't know if I ever want that. I mean yeah I thought I did when I was sixteen but now, no I am not so keen on it. I mean if it happens, yay! But if it doesn't, well you know."
Buffy doesn't feel like pointing to Willow that they don't seem to be cut out for a forever kind of love. She thinks it'd be too much like pouring salt on another open wound, especially since Willow's last love affair fizzled out.
"I know," Willow says. "So why do you keep going on these blind dates?"
"Because I don't want to be alone," Buffy says.
Willow sighs and then Buffy does. There's not much to say to that.
"Wanna watch Friends?" Buffy finally asks.
Willow laughs in response and despite the fact that they're separated by far too many miles, the pair of them turn on the DVDs and laugh at the stupidity of the sitcom. It's nothing like their lives but because it's not really about anyone's real life, they can watch it without getting too sad.
* * *
Two weeks later, Buffy opens an email from Willow with the subject line of cookie dough recipe, yummny!! And instead of finding a recipe, Buffy finds a short email that gives her the current phone number and email for Angel. Willow has added a line saying that she hopes Buffy can forgive her for getting that involved but maybe it's time to expect the inevitable.
She stares at the email and the information that it contains. She immediately tries to draft an email to Angel but everything sounds stupid, trite or childish. (And how she wishes that she had never once referred to herself as cookie dough to Angel or had told Willow about it.) After two days of not being able to come up with something to say that doesn't sound horrific, she decides that maybe she will text him. Just a simple hello or something like that but as soon as she's staring at the text field on her iPhone her words escape. Is it really appropriate to send your vampire ex-boyfriend a text message saying hi?
She knows that Willow's given her the information because Angel's not in a relationship himself but at the same time, she's not sure she wants to jump back into a relationship with Angel. What if he's changed? What if he's decided that she's not his girl anymore? Buffy sighs and puts down her phone. She looks at the budget report that Giles had helpfully left on her desk in the morning and decides that maybe she'll focus on that. Especially since she knows that if she calls Willow, her friend will just nag at her to reach out to Angel.
Eventually all of her administrative work is done and she doesn't think that she's ever wished for the Council, including men like Travers, to be run by other people that aren't her quite as much as she does in that particular moment. She packs up her things and makes her way home. It's time for some egg rolls, fried rice and another Friends marathon.
* * *
Her house is empty and dark when she gets in. Maybe it's time to get a pet like Xander's been telling her for ages. Her phone chimes with a text message from Willow.
Just call him. You're the Slayer after all. You've faced down far worse than your ex-boyfriend.
In that moment, she really hates Willow. She sighs as she set the bag of take out down on the counter and she dials the phone number that she has already memorized. If she doesn't do this, then Willow will never drop it.
The phone rings a handful of times and she's almost on the verge of hanging it up when Angel answers. His voice is just like it always is. And she feels like she's sixteen years old again except this time she just wants her boyfriend and she doesn't care who she is and who he is. (Or perhaps instead of who, it's more what they are.)
"Angel?" Buffy asks.
She rolls her eyes at how stupid she must sound. Who else but Angel would be answering his phone sounding like him.
His voice is soft and it makes her feel things that she's not sure she ever stopped feeling.
"Hi," Buffy replies.
Mentally she's asking herself if he's asking himself how stupid she is since she can't seem to say anything longer than one syllable.
"Willow said you might call," Angel tells her.
And Buffy can't help but sigh. Of course. No doubt, Angel thinks that she's calling him about some big bad that she can't deal with despite having a couple hundred Slayers on speed dial along with Watchers and the Special Ops team that came along with the Council.
At least it was more than one syllable this time. She bites her lip.
"She gave me your contact info as well but you were pretty clear the last time we spoke that I figured I'd let you reach out first."
She wants to bang her head against the nearest cupboard. This is not what she wanted when she made that stupid speech. She just didn't want her ex-boyfriend getting in her face for sleeping with Spike. She expects that he'll bring up the garbage that Andrew told him when he went to collect Dana. As if she's ever stopped loving or trusting Angel.
Buffy's not sure what to say.
"I should have called you sooner, I mean I was just stressed that last time in Sunnydale and who refers to themselves as cookie dough? Silly, right? It's just things with Spike were awkward, things with everyone was awkward, and. ..."
Before she can babble on, he cuts her off.
"I understand," Angel tells her.
"You do?" Buffy asks.
"I crossed a line that I shouldn't have because I was jealous."
It's nice to hear him say that. It makes her feel a little bit better. But at the same time, the past tense hurts. Does that mean he doesn't care about who she sees now.
"How is Spike?" Angel asks.
That simple question makes him all tongue-tied. She was certain that Angel would know by now.
"Uh, what do you mean? Like as in general or how is he right this second because to be honest, I can answer the first but I can't really answer the second since he's in a relationshipwithmysisteandtheyliveinPragueofallplacesbutappaerntlywhenhebecamehumanhedeciedthathelikedDawnbetterthanme."
She says the last bit all in one sentence because even now it's super embarrassing to admit that how a very human Spike had shown up on her doorstep in London and asked for her permission to court her younger sister when it had been on the tip of her tongue to reject him. Human or not, she just didn't think that she and Spike worked out.
Angel chuckles in the line, which makes her cheek flame in embarrassment. She wonders if Willow has been a little too open with Angel.
"I meant in general, I figured since Dawn is part of the Council, you'd know better. No matter my relationship with Spike, I do care about him but he's not really good with emails or phone calls. He's always been more of a live in the moment kind of person,"
"Yeah that's Spike all over. And last I heard, they're both fine. He's got his hands full with the twins, he decided he wanted to be a hands-on father."
Angel chuckles at her words.
"I didn't call you to talk about Spike or the Council," Buffy tells him.
"I know," Angel says.
"I've missed you," Buffy admits.
She holds her breath and it seems to take forever for him to respond. Maybe it's too much, too soon? Or worse yet, it's too late.
"I've missed you as well," Angel tells her. "But has anything really changed? I am still a vampire and you're still a human."
It feels like her heart is breaking. But maybe she needs to tell him that she grew up and realized that she doesn't want some fantasy that Hollywood has spoon-fed her over the years
"Yeah everything's changed," Buffy tells him.
They're both silent. And she's starting to doubt herself for calling him. Maybe she should just do what Faith does. Hit up some nightclub, go home with someone and work out her sexual needs. That'd be a lot easier than talking to Angel. The idea of telling him that she's finished baking makes her cringe.
When he doesn't say anything, she finally says the only thing that she can think of that isn't cringe-worthy or stupid.
"I grew up."
Angel sighs deeply into the phone. It says everything but nothing at all.
"You still my girl?"
"Always," Buffy tells him.
"I can be in London by midnight tomorrow." Angel offers.
"Okay," Buffy says.
And that's it, she knows that he's back in her life and they'll somehow make it work this time.