A Touch of Heaven
For: The Happy Endings Ficathon – edgechick816
Prompts: Italy or Ireland, their original claddagh rings, hot air balloon
Restrictions: No non-B/A pairing except in mention, Spike and super heavy angst
Word Count: 1698
As the soft white flakes fell to the ground around her, she listened with a smile on her face to the cheers and noise makers that reminded her that this wasn’t just another day. Buffy had made the northern trek from Rome to Turin the moment she realized the Olympics were just up the road from her. It may be the only chance she had in this lifetime, and with her pre-ordained duty her lifetime could end at any moment, to see the athletes she had spent so many childhood nights dreaming she was one of.
Pulling her coat up around her face, the Slayer walked up the snow covered streets towards the skating venue. Giles had pulled some strings and somehow managed a ticket to the ultimate competition, the ladies long program. She would owe her Watcher a million times over for this favor. He truly had no idea how much this meant to her. Maybe she’d buy him a t-shirt or maybe even one of those funny hats that all the athletes seem to be wearing around the village.
Shrugging the thought away, she could worry about such trivial things later. Buffy carefully moved her way through the venue to find her seat. Although the arena was packed, as it should be on a night like this, Buffy was surprised to find an empty seat next to hers. She got all tingly for a moment, fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to have one of the male skaters sitting next to her. She knew they did that sometimes, come in to watch their teammates skate. How awesome would it be to be sitting next to some tall, dark….
“Excuse me…I think you’re in my seat.”
Buffy didn’t even bother to look up instead she frantically began digging through her large coat pockets for her ticket. She had carefully placed it in one of the inside pockets to be sure not to lose it, and she was certain she was in the right seat. This would just figure. She finally got to see Olympic figure skating up close and in person and Giles managed to end up with a forged ticket or something.
“Oh wait a minute. You’re in the right seat. I misread my ticket,” the male voice interrupted.
Buffy stopped her search and turned to give a grateful smile to the man who easily sat down next to her.
She opened her mouth to say something but the words were lost, everything was lost. As the lights dimmed for the first skater, Buffy realized that the flutter in her stomach hadn’t been from the excitement of being at the Olympics or from finally getting a chance to see the ladies she would look upon as ‘her’ heroes. No. That funny feeling was the same funny feeling she’d gotten in her stomach since her freshman year of high school.
“Shhh….she’s getting ready to skate,” he returned with a grin, grabbing her hand in his, he settled in to watch.
Buffy was dumbfounded.
Speechless for once in her life.
Not only was she *at* the Olympics, watching figure skating, her all time favorite sport ever. Watching these young women do what she had dreamed of every night for what seemed like forever as a little girl, but she was doing it with Angel by her side, holding her hand. If she didn’t take a breath pretty soon she was going to pass out from oxygen depletion.
This was just too much.
Before Buffy had realized what had happened, the crowd was roaring and the tiny Russian skater was taking her bows in front of the crowd. The Slayer had totally missed it all as she sat in a foggy haze trying to grasp what was going on.
In the short moments between skaters, Buffy turned to Angel, “What….what are you…doing here?”
“Vacation,” he said simply, rubbing her hand between his to get it warm.
“Angel,” she said tersely in that ‘you better give me the truth or I’ll kick your ass’ tone.
He finally relented, figuring there was no use in trying to avoid the inevitable.
“Big dragon, lots of death and destruction, averted the apocalypse, gained my humanity, wanted to see some skating,” he rambled quickly, tensing his body for the reaction he was sure would come.
As the next young woman took to the ice the crowd around them began to grumble at Buffy’s inappropriately loud tone.
Her face reddened and she ducked her head closer to Angel’s ear, “Your what?” she whispered in as low of a voice as she could force herself into at the moment.
“My what…what?” he asked again, playing dumb while trying to avoid a confrontation here, now. He had other plans for this evening and it didn’t include mass chaos at the Olympics.
As the music started Buffy leaned in closer, “You KNOW what…now tell me how? NOW!” She squeezed his hand a little tighter, hoping to get her point across more effectively.
Angel grimaced at the deed. He nodded towards the ice where the young American was getting ready to start her program, “After her. You don’t want to miss this one.”
He gently eased his hand away from her tight grip, moving his large arm around her shoulders, he pulled Buffy as close to him as the seats would allow.
Buffy gave him an annoyed looked, but settled in to watch the program. After the few minutes were over, she sighed in satisfaction, glad she’d allowed herself this pleasure. The young woman who had started the 2006 Olympics as an alternate had skated almost a flawless routine. Whether she won a medal or not was not important, she had represented her country with honor. The Slayer pushed away the tears from her eyes and smiled at her companion.
He nodded in understanding and they both moved out of their seats and up the steps towards the exits.
Once outside the stadium, Buffy started in again. It wasn’t just that he’d shown up out of the clear blue, but he’d shown up saying he was….she wouldn’t even allow herself to think it.
“Are you going to tell me?” she asked more softly this time.
Angel pulled her close once again, trying to find the words to explain something that he himself found little understanding in.
“I’m not sure I can explain….at least not the part you’re asking about anyway.”
She eyed the coffee stand a block down the street and nudged Angel in that direction. She was cold, he was cold and if she couldn’t get her hands on a stiff drink right now she at least needed some coffee to calm her down.
As they walked towards the stand she asked, “Well, what about the dragon? Haven’t come across one of those yet. Sounds fun.”
He looked down to see a wiry grin emanating from the Slayer’s face. He returned it.
Explaining the Final Battle and the ones he’d lost was not easy, but he got through it as he and Buffy walked and drank their coffee. He had chosen to lead the path they would take, it wasn’t by accident after all that they’d run into each other. He’d conspired with her Watcher after all for more than a month to plan this night to perfection. Angel would do no less than clean the slate between them.
A fresh start, a new beginning and every other cliché that could be uttered.
It was their night.
“Wow Angel…I’m….I’m sorry,” she wanted to be mad that he hadn’t called on her for help, but the pain that was etched across his face explained it all. He’d lost too many close to his heart, it would have been the end of him if he lost her too. So instead of being critical, she squeezed his hand in a show of support. It was a gentle squeeze this time, one to let him know that she understood and she was here, now.
As they reached the edge of town, Buffy only then realized they’d walked right into a quiet section of the City where the partying and celebrations were not being held. Instead there were trees lit up with lights and flowers seemingly frozen in time, though elegantly beautiful all the same. A small wooden bench sat oddly out of place under one of the far trees and upon the seat sat a small red box with a white ribbon tied carefully around it.
Angel gave Buffy a gentle push towards the bench. She was a little out of sorts as to what was going on, but as she sat down on the cold wood, those fluttering feelings came rushing back, this time though there wasn’t a vampire in sight.
Angel offered the little red box, “I missed your birthday.”
Buffy smiled like a little girl again and eagerly tore into the box. What she found inside amazed her. Something she’d thought lost forever in the sinkhole that was now Sunnydale.
“Our rings? You found our claddah rings?”
With tears that threatened to freeze on her cheeks, Buffy gently took her own ring from the box and started to put it on her finger. Angel stopped her, wanting the opportunity to do this the right way this time.
Sliding from the bench and dropping down to one knee in the cold snow, Angel asked for his beloved’s hand in marriage. Something that now, he could finally give her.
Four months after that frigid night in Turin, Italy, Buffy stood next to her husband to be on the sandy beaches of Santa Monica, California and said her vows with her friends by her side. The only survivor from Angel’s last stand in Los Angeles was his son, a young man Buffy had come to admire greatly. A drastically changed man from his tortured past, not unlike his father.
As a surprise to both Buffy and Angel, Willow and Xander had arranged for the couple to take a hot air balloon ride down the beach at sunset. A fitting way to begin their life together, grabbing that little touch of heaven that would bless them forever.