by Molly

DISCLAIMER: Joss is an evil, twisted, mind frying, cruel, heartless, son of a bitch who does not treat these characters with anywhere NEAR the respect they deserve (even though Marti Noxon is far worse). But he has all legal copyrights and other such stuff, not me. I'm borrowing, and I'll give them back...with great reluctance, but I'll give them back.
DISTRIBUTION: fanfiction.net, BA fluff list, and if you have my stuff already, feel free. If you want it, just let me know who you are and where it's going.
FEEDBACK: *proudly displays badge of feedback sluttiness* I accept from anyone, any time, anywhere. And it gives me a big happy, something I'm sorely in need of lately.
DEDICATION: Linzy, just because I love you and I always will, my psychic soul sister. Laura, because I promised her angst and 'cause she walks through a park where she could get mugged and raped and stuff to read my emails. Kate and the rest of the "The Princess Bride" brigade. As you wish. *grin*. Trixie Firecracker, for being...well, Jesus, have you *read* Camelot? And, as always, all the shippers out there who are keeping the faith, even though this crap the writers like to feed us.
TIMELINE: Anytime after Buffy comes back from the dead.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I've been trying to ease the pain of the trauma that is season 6 and season 3. Not much is helping besides repeat viewings of the B/A glory days, and many wonderful fanfics. It's helping. A little. But by watching "Surprise" for, like, the thirty eighth time (this week), I came up with this piece of angst and comfort and therapeutic-ness. Also, Marti Noxon? Yeah, *her*. *sticks out tongue* If you read this, you suck as a human being. And if you *don't*...you still suck as a human being. Either way, it's much with the suckage.
SYNOPSIS: It's raining. And rain makes Buffy think of Angel...and 'that night'.

It hasn't rained like this in a long time. At least, I don't think it has. A downpour, really, complete with requisite flashes of lightning and the occasional burst of thunder.

Is it raining in LA? And if it is, are you thinking the same things I'm thinking now? Or did you finally move on, the way you wanted me to? Do you remember what it was like when I had you in my arms and I thought there was no way I'd ever let go long enough for you to leave me?

Did you know I wake up every time this happens? Since...since the night we made love, did you know I've never once been able to sleep through a thunderstorm? The softest little splash of water against my window can jolt me out of the deepest slumber, and I'll wrap myself in blankets, staring out at it until finally, finally the rain stops, and those memories won't play themselves out in Technicolor across my mind anymore.

It's almost funny, and I could laugh at myself if it didn't hurt so much. When the sound wakes me up, I'm still half groggy, and every time, every single time it rains and I'm suddenly awakened, I say your name and reach out for you. Pathetic, don't you think? That it's been almost three years, and I'm still reaching out for you and breathing "Angel?" Because you're supposed to be there, on the right half of my bed, holding me against your side, your head in my hair.

But you're never there, you're so far away from me now, and I don't even know if it hurts you like it hurts me.

For hours, it pours and I curl in bed, staring out the window...and you're here with me. I watch the water sluicing against the windows and remember. Remember things I'd hoped that someday, I'd be able to forget. Remember what it felt like when you undressed me slowly, carefully, like I was something delicate and breakable. When your hands and lips slid across my skin. How you whispered my name and kissed me and made me yours forever when you came inside my body.

I've only made love once in my entire life. Did you know that? Sure, I had sex with Riley, but I never made love to him. 'Cause you can't make love to someone if you aren't in love with him, right? With Riley, it was all about the physical aspect. And it always felt good - it was sex, I'm *supposed* to enjoy it, and I did.

But with you...it was about more than just joined body parts. It was *real* love, not a way to kill the loneliness of missing someone I'll never have again. It was real love, and it was a real expression of it. You crawled beneath my skin, and even though you're gone...you're still here. And that's what scares me the most. Because if you're still here, I *can't* move on, no matter how much I want to.

And you know something? I *do* want to. I want to sweep you under the rug once and for all, get you out of my system, seal my memories of you in a little box and never let them out again. I want to be able to date other guys without thoughts of your cool kisses and warm, dark eyes and strong hands getting in the way of me loving them. I *want* to get over this.... but I'm not *ready* to. And there's a big difference.

I know that I won't ever really be ready to. I'll never reach a point in my life where I can say a permanent goodbye to you. You're hidden away safe in my cells and you'll be there until I die.

It's still raining. My mind is starting to drift back, and for the first time (since the last rain, two months ago, when I cried and cried and ached so badly for you that I picked up the phone and dialed your number and slammed the receiver down when you answered hello, in a voice sweetly husky from slumber) in a long time, I let it. Tonight, I want to wallow in memories, because tonight, for some reason, I'm lonelier than ever. My thighs are aching for you to come between them and my body screams for your weight on top of it. To make me whole, to fill the piece of me that's missing with soft words and gentle touches. No one's arms have ever felt the way yours have.

And for now, I'll let myself remember all those things. Tonight, I'll let myself remember everything I refuse to think about when it's sunny and clear.

//Buffy, maybe we shouldn't - //

//Don't. Just kiss me.//

As much as you losing your soul, the heartache that followed...as much and as deeply as it all hurt, as much as it cut me down tot he bone, I've never regretted that night for a single instant. I know it led to pain and suffering beyond imagining, and death, and a million other terrible things...but making love to you meant more than anything else ever has in my whole life. And if I could go back, if I could do it all over again, I'm not sure I'd do anything differently.

Would you? If you could take back that night, would you?

You brushed the hair out of my eyes and kissed me, so sweet, so gentle. We were already naked, pressed tightly together, my arms wound around your neck. I was so hot, so wet and wanting between my legs. "Buffy...are you sure?" you murmured between kisses. "Because if you're not sure, we can stop. I don't mind waiting."

You always thought of me first, didn't you? I could feel how much your body was shaking, how hard you were against me, how much you wanted me, how it would nearly kill you to stop now...but you would have. If I had asked you to, you would have.

But I didn't, because if you had stopped, I think it might have killed me, too. Because when I touched you, I was amazed that you could make those noises because of *me*, because of things *I* was doing to you. Because when your hand found its way, slowly, between my legs, I could feel how ready I was. Ready for you, ready to give you the only thing I could give. Myself, I could give myself to you, and in return, I could fall so deeply into you that I'd never have to drag myself out again.

"Angel...Angel, I'm sure. Please...I want to. I want to make love to you, I want *you*, so much..."

You smiled at me then, a smile I'd never seen on your face before, a smile I haven't seen since. Free and joyful, the pain behind your eyes completely gone. So wide, so happy, as you leaned in and kissed me again, your fingers gently kneading my stomach and calming the flutters inside as you worked down. "If I hurt you, tell me," you murmured against my neck after an eternity of sweet, light kisses and tentative explorations. "I don't want to h-hurt you, not the first time we..."

"Shhhh, Angel. You won't hurt me. You couldn't ever hurt me," I whispered back, running my fingers across that soft, sensitive spot at the back of your neck. Did you feel how hard my heart was pounding when you said that? 'The first time', meaning 'first of many more times to follow'.

I believed that with my whole being then. That there would be another chance, that I would wake up safe in your arms and secure in your love. "I love you."

"I love you," you breathed back, and then I couldn't remember how to speak anymore. Your fingers were inside me, and it felt *so* good. Something I'd never felt before, something I couldn't name, and all I could tell was that I wanted more. I didn't want you to ever stop, never, because this was pure bliss. "Buffy, Buffy...God, Buffy, you feel..." You kept saying my name, like a prayer, and every time you whispered it, part of me wanted to laugh and sing, and part of me wanted to weep, for no reason other than this was *you* and this was *right*.

And I touched you, too. I reached out for you and felt you, velvet steel in my hands. You let out this sound...somewhere between a moan and a growl, and thrust forward towards my palms, encouraging me to keep going, let you feel what I was feeling. And I did, I curled my fingers around you and stroked you until you started to shudder, your hips nudging against mine, and suddenly, my legs were open.

You kissed my neck once again, then laved at my ear, tickling the lobe with your sweet, cool tongue. "Please..." you said, so quiet, with such need that tears did begin to fill my eyes. But they didn't spill over. I whimpered, raising myself slightly up from the bed and demanding you come into me *now*, to make me yours completely.

So you did. You ran your hands down my sides and rested them on my hips, gently tugging me closer to you. My legs parted even wider, then comfortably settled around your torso, and you slid into me slowly, your eyes locked on mine the entire time.

It didn't hurt. I mean, maybe a little...but not enough to really count. Just one little sharp pang, just enough to make me moan a little into the curve of your shoulder. But it passed and changed to pure, solid pleasure. I didn't know where I ended and you began. The first and only time in my life I've ever really known what that's like - to lose myself so completely, in you and your body and the feelings building and rushing and swelling inside me. Your lips covered mine in gentle, tender kisses, and your hands traveled everywhere - though my hair, across my face, over my breasts, down my sides...like being wrapped in a safe, warm blanket, but better.

And I remember that I felt nothing else mattered. There was no reality outside of you, outside of this moment. There wouldn't be a tomorrow, because if I felt this good, this loved and secure...it had to be Heaven. I had to have left the world behind in order to find this kind of Paradise, because things like this *never* happen to me.

My life as the Slayer is so filled with pain and loss and sorrow. And the night we made love, Angel...I thought that that was my reward. A moment I had finally earned after everything I'd given up. Like the fates were saying, "So, yeah, we took your normal life away, but look what you got as a compensation. Doesn't he more than make up for everything you lost?"

Do you know how much you did? Make up for everything, I mean. I know you thought you hurt me, every day you thought you brought new pain to my life, but the truth is, you were the only thing that made that life bearable.

We stayed like that for hours, locked together, moving, rocking, holding each other. The fire inside me kept building and building, and suddenly, the world exploded into stars and your name tore from my throat. You came inside of me, so hard, your whole body trembling, crying out my name in return.

And afterwards...I snuggled into your arms, and you kissed my damp forehead softly, holding me close. "I love you," you murmured once more.

"I love you," I responded, my eyelids already heavy. "Angel?"


"I've...you're...this was...wonderful. The best night of my life."

"Me, too," you said, nestling your head on top of mine. "Me, too."

And suddenly, now, tonight, when the memories of that night and the sweet words you whispered into my skin are fading into memories of Angelus' taunting barbs and brutal acts...when memories of you turning and walking away and fading into the smoke blur with memories of comfort and promises never to leave me and always to love me...now, I start to sob.

Because it's raining outside, the sound that kept time to the frantic beating of my heart the night we made love, because you're not here right now to promise me always and kiss away the tears running down my jaw.

Because I can replay every look, every gesture, every remark in my mind until it's burned into my skull and branded on my heart, but nothing is going to bring you back to me.

How long has it been since I let myself cry over you? How many times have I let the ever present, grinding ache of needing you overpower me? Since before I've been back, even. It's been too long. Too damn long since I let myself feel anything.

I don't want to cry anymore. I don't want this to hurt. I don't want Dawn to wake up and stumble into the room, plopping down on my bed and forcing me to 'share the pain'. So I choke back the tears and stumble into the kitchen.

I splash water on my face from the sink, wiping my cheeks with my hands and trying to remember how to breathe. My face feels too tight. These tears are salty and they sting, so I keep swiping at them with fisted hands until I have to sit and clutch my head between my palms to make the pounding stop. I grit my teeth and breathe in, harsh, deep, painful. I miss you so much, so goddamn much, and it's a real, physical pain inside me. One that I can't spread balm over and forget about.

But the pain passes. It's easing into the bittersweet pang that I've learned to cope with. It takes nearly another hour, but it dulls enough for me to stand and look about the kitchen.

It's still raining. The clock on the stove blinks three twenty AM, but I'm not tired. I'm wide awake and raw, so I decide to do something productive. Make Dawn's lunch or something, something mundane and distracting.

I head to the fridge and mechanically pull out sandwich ingredients. White bread, cut the crusts off. One slice of cheddar cheese. Two slices of ham. Rinse lettuce. Slice tomato.

When I reach back into the refrigerator to pull out the mayonnaise, I catch a glimpse of a shadowy, black clad figure in my yard. The jar slips from my hand, and I curse at being caught off guard, managing to catch my balance and tighten my grip around the glass.

Without thinking about it, I slam the jar down onto the counter, and stalk outside, right into the pouring rain. I'm not worried - I'm the Slayer, and I'll be more than able to handle some sick pervert getting his rocks off by peeking in on us. Maybe vent off some of the residual angst left over from brooding about you.

God, it's cold out here. The wind is frigid and whipping around mercilessly, lifting my hair and raising goosebumps on my skin. My nightgown is plastered to my body, soaking me to the bone, but I shove it out of mind, instead stalking over to the shadow and reaching out to grab him by the collar and fling him into the side of the house. My rage should be enough to keep me warm.

And then he turns, facing me, just as I'm about to stretch out my hands and break something inside of him.


Oh, God. It's you. You're here. But...but why are you...

You blink at me, raindrops spilling down your face and catching in your eyelashes. The water tumbles over your cheekbones, and you just stand there, wet and cold and beautiful, staring at me. Your sweater clings in patches to your chest, your hair slick with droplets swimming down your neck. You've been here awhile. And I realize this is the first time I've seen you since...

"Angel?" I say again, taking a step closer to you, sudden sick fear swelling in my stomach. Are you hurt? Did something happen. "Why are you...you're here? Why are you here?" I try to ignore the trembling in my knees, the way my hands are shaking, the way I'm sure my nightgown must be purely see through by now.

Finally, you speak, your voice hoarse and wonderfully familiar. "It was raining," you say simply. You leave it at that, your eyes burning into mine, and I understand. I don't know why this makes sense, because it shouldn't. But suddenly, it does and I understand everything.

Or, maybe not everything...but I understand enough. Since I've been back, since I was pulled from pure peace and comfort, I start to remember what earthly happiness tastes like. For some reason, this is all I need right now. A laugh bubbles inside me, spilling out, and I start to giggle. A real, honest to God, giddy, happy laugh. "Oh, God, Angel," I say desperately, this ridiculous, wonderful joy in me. "I was just thinking...you're here." I reach out and touch your face, curving my hand around your jaw. "You're here."

And you pull me close to you and wrap your arms around my waist. You lift me high into the air, into the sky where the downpour is dulling to a drizzle, and you twirl me around through the rain. We spin in a dizzy circle around and around, I throw my arms out and let the rain spill over me, let my senses finally wake up. We're wet and cold and giggling like teenagers.

I'm alive. For the first time since I've been back, I'm alive. And I'm here with you. Safe and happy for the first time in weeks and warmer than I can ever remember being.

Heaven can wait. Right now, this is the only eternity I want.

The End