Summary: There was a time when Buffy Summers believed in fairy tales and another time when she didn't.
Author Notes: This story is told out of order. It contains vague spoilers for all of the seasons of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, it is not comic-compliant for either series. There are some mentions of canon pairings, including Buffy/Riley, Buffy/Spike, and Willow/Xander.
All the fairy tales that she's familiar with all start with Once upon a time and they all end the same with the prince having slain the dragon while rescuing the princess. And there was a time when she believed with all of her heart that she'd have the fairy tale and that one day a prince would ride up on a white horse and rescue her from some evil creature or other. And afterwards, she'd wear a pretty pink dress and her prince would kiss her before they rode off in the sunset.
* * *
"The problem with Disney is that all of the princesses are saved by princes," Willow complains.
Buffy merely rolls her eyes as Willow curls up on one end of the couch, Dawn sitting between them. It's a semi-familiar rant that Buffy's heard far too many times. And before Willow ranted about princes, she used to rant about how it was always the princess that needed saving.
"But that's the whole point of fairy tales," Dawn says before she scoops up a handful of popcorn.
"But why do all fairy tales have to be hetronormative? We're living in the 90s," Willow says.
"It's Disney," Dawn replies.
"Let's just watch the movie," Buffy tiredly says.
Until the words tumble out of her mouth, she didn't realize how tired she was of this old debate. In fact, she's tired of watching some stupid Disney fairy tale when she knows that fairy tales aren't real. Dragons and evil witches and other evil creatures might be true but the rest of it is nothing more than garbage.
Both Willow and Dawn look at her as they quietly nod and Buffy pushes play on the VCR remote. She absently rubs a bruise from an encounter with Spike that's covered by her long sleeves. Fairy tales aren't real because if they were, she'd be with Angel instead of some messed up sexual relationship with Spike.
* * *
They should be patrolling instead Angel's leaning against a grave marker and Buffy's leaning against his chest. For a few brief moments, she can forget that they're hanging out in a cemetery, that she's a Slayer, that he's a vampire and that she has a destiny to fulfill. For right now, she can relish the fairy tale aspect of being his arms as Angel points out the stars to her.
"Are you even listening to me?" Angel asks as he brushes his lips against her ears.
Buffy shivers as she laughs. "Not really."
She doesn't tell him that she has other things on her mind, that she can't help but feel like a fairy tale princess when he moves them so she's facing him. She can't tell him just how breathless his kisses make her. All that matters is this stolen moment in her life where she's just a girl and he's just a boy and there's nothing else in the world but their love.
* * *
The problem with real life is that it's never what the movies tell you it should be like. If you believed a movie: your life would always wind up neat and orderly. But being a Slayer has taught Buffy a few things about life, including the most important lesson of them all: life never really stays neat and orderly no matter how much you try to keep it that way.
She had once thought her parents had a fairy tale love affair come true. Until she was fourteen and her parents would fight night after night when they thought she was in bed. Buffy was well aware of the arguments about her father's pretty young receptionist and how her mother felt unfulfilled as a house wife. In the morning, her mother would reassure her with a tight smile that things would get better and her father would barely say anything as he drank his coffee.
Her parents never managed to salvage what they had. In the end, her father had abandoned his family and her mother had dragged her children to Sunnydale. Shortly after arriving in the small town, Buffy had found out that she couldn't escape destiny but she had thought she had found her own fairytale love affair.
Until it wasn't. And now she's not even sure she knows who Angel is. Just a year ago, he had given her an amulet to end the First and now he's the head of Wolfram and Hart. The same evil law firm that had been the bane of his existence for the last four years. Buffy can't even figure it out. All that it proves to her is that fairy tales don't really exist in real life.
* * *
She's bored since the Hellmouth is
strangely quiet so when she finds the book of old fairy tales, she pulls it
down from the library shelf. Instead of pretty princesses rescued by handsome
princes, the book seems full of fairy tales where the princess rescues herself
just as frequently as the prince, where good doesn't always triumphant and
sometimes, things just end with a draw between good and evil. It seems far too
much like real life for
For once, Buffy actually feels better for having lost Angel. It seems to ease the pain of having him gone from her life. It's not that she doesn't understand, she does. If he had stayed in Sunnydale, it would only be a matter of time before they gave into temptation and then she'd have to kill him because she doubted that Angelus would allow Willow to resoul him again.
Still she can't help but feel like she was cheated of her fairy tale. At least this books makes her think that maybe not all fairy tales are the saccharine sweet versions that Disney churns out every so many years.
* * *
It's Friday night and the Bronze is closed
for it's annual fumigation. There's nothing to do in Sunnydale for the three of
them except to lay about on her couch and watch movies.
"Cinderella? Please isn't there something more manly that we can watch?" Xander asks.
"Come on, Xan, we've already watched your movie choice," Buffy says.
"Yeah," Willow replies.
"Fine, out numbered by girls, yet again," Xander says. "Where's Angel? Not that I am a fan or anything but at least he'd be on my side when it came to the movie."
"He had to go out of town, something about picking up a book," Buffy says.
If Angel was in town, she wouldn't be here on her couch with Willow and Xander. She softly sighs as she thinks about him. Even though she's not quite sure what they are, she's certain they'd be out patrolling and maybe stealing kisses.
"The problem with Disney is that the prince always has to save the princess. I mean Cinderella isn't as bad as some of the other movies but you'd think that the fairy godmother could do something more for Cinderella instead of sending her off to the ball with glass slippers on," Willow says. "You know like maybe empowering her so that she wouldn't need the prince to save her from slavery and poverty."
Xander nervously laughs and Buffy laughs as she throws some popcorn at Willow.
"It's a fairy tale Willow, it's not real life."
"Thank you very much," Willow says as she brushes off popcorn. "I just don't get why fairy tales can't be more accurate, why can't they be more like the Grimm Fairy Tales?"
"I don't know Cinderella's kind of hot," Xander says.
Both girls groan and the trio fall silent as they watch the movie. Buffy can't help but cast herself as Cinderella and Angel as Prince Charming. Except instead of evil step-sisters he saves her from her destiny of being the one girl in all the world chosen to slay vampires.
* * *
The boy from Iowa leaves her in the end. It
seems like she can't keep a man to save her life. If she was Cinderella or Snow
White or any other princess, she could. But it seems that she just chases men
When she can't sleep after Riley's left her, she ends up making a late night phone call to LA. Thankfully her mother's out of town for business so there's no one to witness just how desperate and lonely she is for some reassurance that she's actually loveable.
"Angel Investigations," Angel's voice floods through the line and Buffy almost hangs up the phone.
"Angel?" Buffy quietly asks.
It's not as if she doesn't know it's him but what had seemed like a good idea when she was staring at her ceiling five minutes ago, now seems like the biggest mistake.
"Is everything alright Buffy?" Angel asks, worry inflecting his tone.
Now he's under the impression that the only reason why she'd call him is because something wrong. Buffy sighs as she tries to figure out what to say.
"Things here are fine. Riley left me,
" Buffy flatly tells him. "It seems that I wasn't good enough for him
or maybe it's the other way around, I don't know."
Angel's quiet and for a moment Buffy thinks that he's hung up. It's not as if she hadn't told him to stay out of her business.
"I am sure that his reasons for leaving weren't because of you," Angel says.
"That's what you said about your leaving, but in the end it's still the same, two guys that I loved left me."
"Buffy," Angel says. His voice sounds pained.
"What?" Buffy angrily asks. "You left, now Riley's left. You wanna tell me that it was because nether of you were good enough for me?"
"I don't know why Riley left, but I do know he's a fool for having left you," Angel quietly says.
"And why's that? You left too," Buffy points out.
"I had to, you know that," Angel tells her. "You know it was only a matter of time before I gave into temptation."
"Really, I thought that you were stronger than that," Buffy spits out. "I thought that you could handle it, I thought you could handle me. But last time I saw you, you were pretty cozy with Cordelia."
Buffy refuses to mention Faith by name even though the other Slayer's name is on the tip of her tongue. Angel has always had a special relationship with her.
"It's different with Cordelia,"
Angel tells her. "I doubt we'll ever be more than friends but even if we
were to become something else, I wouldn't lose my soul over her."
His words hurt far more than they should. It's not as if she was exactly celibate so she shouldn't demand that he be too. But she thought that she was still his girl. She had thought that no matter what he'd be waiting for her in LA because even when the princess is forced to be married to someone else in fairy tales, her prince is always waiting for her.
"I'm sorry Buffy but no matter how much I love you, you and I know that we can't be together," Angel tells her, his voice thick with pain.
"I know," Buffy admits before hanging up the phone.
She slides down the wall and cradles her head in her hands as she cries.
* * *
Two years after LA was torn apart, officially by earthquakes, unofficially by Angel's destruction of Wolfram and Hart (well their LA branch), she finds him in her life again. Ten years and a few days since she first laid eyes on him and she feels like she's sixteen years old again. Her heart is in her mouth as he approaches her in the dusty library of the Watcher's Council. And for a moment, she thinks this is her fairy tale moment: the prince has come to sweep her off of her feet.
"Giles said I could find you in here," Angel says. "I need some help with a nest of demons that have taken over the Hyperion."
She looks away from him, ashamed that she had indulged in such stupid thoughts. She's not sixteen anymore and they both know what their kisses lead to now. Anyhow she's heard that Faith's in his life now. He's moved on from blondes to brunettes.
"What do you need from me?" Buffy asks, proud that her voice is all business like.
"I was wondering if you could spare some Slayers," Angel asks.
She nods at him and he launches into the whole business side of things. There was a time when business would have been pushed aside in favour of kisses. Now there's no time for pleasure. More proof that fairy tales had lied to her from the start.
* * *
It's rare for the three of them to be in the same time zone much less the same continent so Buffy intends on enjoying the limited time they have together. It's almost like it was back in Sunnydale. If she just ignores the fact that Xander's missing an eye, that Willow's starting to get lines etched in her face around her mouth from frowning too much, and that just yesterday she found a silver hair amidst her blonde hair.
They're curled up on couches in her sitting room at the Council headquarters, watching movies when she gets up to put the next movie in the DVD player.
"Not a Disney movie," Xander
playfully pouts. "Aren't we too old for them?"
"You're never too old for the wonder of a fairy tale," Buffy says. "And besides we already watched your movie choices."
"But can't we watch a non-fairy tale one?" Xander asks. "I mean we all know how it's gonna end."
Willow laughs at him. "That's the best part."
This time Willow doesn't rant about how the film is overly clichéd, instead she curls up against Xander's side, content in the fact that they're together. Buffy wishes she could have what those two (finally) have but dating isn't really for her.
* * *
She won't remember this moment. Not ever but it' s engraved on his heart and in his mind.
The clock's ticking seems loud as she tries not to cry.
"No! Oh God. It's not enough time."
"Shah, please. Please," Angel
says to her as he starts to cry.
Her pain is tearing him apart, especially since he knows he'll have the scars of this forever but she'll forget when the clock's minute hand finishes it's revolution around the clock.
"No, I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget. I'll never forget," Buffy says, her voice desperate at she clings to him.
The time shifts and the moment is gone. He stares at her in his office, she looks uncomfortable and he feels like he's lied to her. In a way he has. But his humanity will only be her downfall.
* * *
This time around she finds him. She's tired of waiting to be saved. She's tired of waiting for him to come and save her. When she finds him, he's unchanged while she's changed. She's not that sweet sixteen year old girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She's no longer naive enough to believe in fairy tales even if they have a purpose.
"Buffy," Angel quietly says.
"Angel," Buffy replies.
It's been far too many years and she's
certain that they have been unkind to her until he sweeps her up into an
embrace that she's missed since he left Sunnydale all those years ago. Even
though far too much has happened, far too much has changed, this is
still the same. She sighs as she presses her forehead against his chest.
"Are you still my girl?" Angel quietly asks.
"Always," Buffy replies.
They pull away and he gently brushes some
of her hair away from her face. She doesn't worry about what he thinks about
how much she's aged. She doesn't worry about anything but this moment.
"I had this dream," Buffy tells him. "This dream where you were human and then you weren't because you were afraid of it being a weakness for me."
She looks up at him expectantly, their hands still interlaced.
"It wasn't a dream," Angel quietly tells her.
"Then why do I remember it, you told me that I wouldn't. And for years, I didn't."
Instead of words, he answers her with a chaste kiss pressed to her lips. It's something they've denied themselves for far too long. Even when he held her in his arms after her mother had died, they hadn't kissed. It was too much of a risk. But now it's not. It's that simple.
She's the one to deepen the kiss. She places her hand flat on his chest, delighting in the steady thump of his heartbeat against the palm of her hand. In the end, it's their own version of a fairy tale. He didn't come swooping in on a great white horse saving her from some evil creature or other. In realty, they had saved each other often enough and now that the saving is done, all that's left is the kissing.
They pull apart and she smiles up at him.
She finally has her happy ending.