Author: Zuriel



Buffy swept into the library, dropping her bag of stakes on the floor, approaching Angel who was leisurely stretched out on the sofa, feet propped up on the arm. Sofas were never long enough. He looked over the edge of the newspaper in his hands, grinning as Buffy plopped in his lap, smothering his mouth with a quick passionate kiss.

“Mmm, I’ve been thinking about doing that for the last two hours,” she confessed, twisting a stray lock of his hair between her fingers, brushing it back behind his ear tenderly. Angel giggled, swiping her hand away.

“Hey, you know I’m ticklish there.”

“Well, duh…why do you think I did it?” she laughed coyly.

Angel laid aside the newspaper, pretending he wasn’t turned on by her touch. “So…how’d it go?”

“Peachy. Vampire…stake…dust. Took out five of ‘em,” she replied nonchalantly but proudly, curling up beside him. “I would have been back sooner, but they ran. I had to chase them from one end of the cemetery to the other. You know, I really miss the old days when I just stood there and pick them off as they crawled out of their graves…”

“Good night’s work, but I was starting to worry. It’s almost daylight.” Angel voiced his concern.

Angel worried too much, fretted about her late patrols, alone. Sometimes he came along, but she’d insisted he stay behind tonight. They’d battled a nest of vampires in Shady Lane Park the night before, Angel taking the brunt of one nasty vampire’s wrath, a deep gash on his leg to show for it. He’d protested he was fine, but Buffy wasn’t taking any chances, just as concerned for his safety as he was for hers.

Buffy flashed her widest, most irresistible smile. Angel always fell for the big smile. Sometimes it was pathetic how she had him wrapped around her little finger.

An infamous Buffy pouty-lip apology was icing on the cake. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to stay away so long.”

“I just missed you,” Angel whispered in her ear, draping his arm over her shoulder and drawing her closer, planting a gentle kiss on her forehead.

“I promise I’ll wear my watch next time.”

“You don’t own a watch,” Angel replied, grinning slyly.

“Oh. Right…” Buffy was eating up the moment, until she was suddenly reminded of a slight variation in her tale of the night’s ho-hum patrol.

“You know how I said tonight was standard vamp stuff? Well, there was something kinda odd. These vamps were wigged out nervous. I mean, they were shaking-in-their-boots stressed…afraid of something, but I didn’t sense it was me. Something else had them running around in psychotic circles before I even arrived. I’ve seen them freak before but not like this.”

“You think you might have competition?”

“No, at least I don’t think so. I mean, who would be so crazy to take on vampires but yours truly?”

“You’ve got a point. I can’t think of anyone crazier than you,” Angel teased. Buffy nudged Angel’s nose with hers and pressed her forehead to his, distracting him while she sneaked one hand to Angel’s side and drummed her fingers lightly over his ribs. He immediately jerked and giggled again.

“You vixen!”

“I think I found another ticklish spot,” she purred in a sing-song whisper, playfully jabbing Angel’s ribs as he attempted to twist away from her. “Not fair, Buffy.” He tried to sound irritated but couldn’t pull it off. “You know I’m very sensitive…”

Buffy laughed. “Sorry, but I just find it amusing that you…Mr. Broody Stealth Guy…are not as stoic as everyone thinks. You’ve got this soft side…a very soft side,” she cooed, poking him again, “that I adore.”

Angel grinned devilishly. He loved these quiet times when they taunted each other. “So…where’s your soft, ticklish side?” His wandering fingers began inspecting her body while Buffy giggled and wriggled, shivers of pleasure running up and down her spine. He found it. Buffy squealed and brushed his hand away, trying to evade his playful fingers.

“Ok…ok…I give!” she exclaimed breathlessly, pressing both hands against his chest to worm her way out of his grasp. Angel let her go.

“Truce?” he asked, blinking his big brown eyes at her.

“Truce,” she agreed, melting into those warm, seductive orbs.

Both of them regained composure. Angel swung his feet off the sofa to the floor, and Buffy adjusted her position to snuggle up next to him. She eyed the abandoned newspaper.

“Anything interesting happening world-wise?” she asked absently. She was still thinking about soft spots.

Angel shrugged. “Maybe. I was about to finish reading an article…before I was interrupted.”

“Well, what’s it about? Newspapers aren’t in your usual reading repertoire.”

“I like to keep up on current events, Buffy,” he countered. “I’m not all about ancient tomes of death and doom.”

“Could’ve fooled me. So…read already. I’m dying to know what it says,” she replied, feigning interest.

Angel picked up the paper and quickly scanned the rest of the article. Frowning, he dropped the newspaper in his lap and looked at Buffy. “Seems we’ve got company coming.”

“Good company or bad company? Please…use adjectives. I forgot my crystal ball.” Buffy quipped.

“The adjective in this case would be bad…as in bad company coming.”

“Some big-bad type of bad? Could that be what had the vamps all spooked? You think they read the newspaper?” Buffy joshed, interest piqued.

“Or someone told them...”

“You’re not talking apocalyptic bad are you? That’s my idea of really bad company.”

“Funny you should mention that, because that’s what it is. Some self-proclaimed guru prophet is convinced the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are headed this way on Thursday. He’s spreading the news to warn people.”

“What makes guru guy so special? And why should we believe some self-proclaimed seer we’ve never heard of? Self proclaimed usually means they’re loonies no one takes seriously,” Buffy huffed.

“Well, the guru’s never been wrong, according to this article. Can’t argue with 100% accuracy…” Angel replied with a smirk.

“So…he’s gold-star accurate. No one’s that good. The law of averages says he’ll bomb one of these days. Maybe with this goofy prediction.”

“What if he’s right? Do we take that chance with people’s lives?” Angel retorted. “…I don’t think so.”

“You made your point. So, we should be prepared, right? We’ve got four whole days to get fightin’ ready…and…and four isn’t such a bad number. We can take out four horsey guys, can’t we? Piece of cake.”

“Not so fast, Buffy. I don’t think you understand who they are. They’re the big scary evil that comes at the end of days.”

“Hmm…how many end of days are there? Didn’t we already have one of those last year?” Buffy commented wryly.

Angel chuckled half-heartedly. “It does seem to be an annual occurrence…but, no. Those end of days were not THE end of days.”

“So there’s one more gigantic, run-for-the-hills end of days to come? I don’t remember seeing that holiday on my Puppies & Kittens calendar,” Buffy joked. Angel wasn’t laughing.

“This is serious, Buffy. These guys are heralding in Armageddon.”

“The Arma-whatie?”

“Armageddon. The end of the world as we know it,” Angel explained soberly.

“Ok, let me get this straight. Four mysterious equestrian guys are going to ride into town, cowboy-style, guns a blazing, and we’re just supposed to let them wreak havoc? Destroy the world? Don’t we stop this sort of thing?” Buffy raised her eyebrow for emphasis.

“Well, yeah, we do. And any other time I’d be right there with you on that thought, but this isn’t Glory or Jasmine or The Master I’m talking about. They were amateurs, comparatively.”

“Oh,” Buffy sighed. “You really believe this is it then? When they come, the world will go kaplooey?”

“According to The Good Book.”

“Now I’m confused. The bad guys are in the Good Book? So, where are the good guys?”

“They’re in there, too. It’s complicated, Buffy.”

“And these good guys…are they coming to help take out the bad guys?”

Angel let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t think so. Even if they did, I don’t think there’s any way to stop The Four Horsemen. Their arrival has been foretold, prophesized…”

“Well, we both know how those things turn out,” Buffy sniffed. “We’ve changed history before…made a mockery of prophecies. I don’t get what makes this one any different.”

“Trust me. This one is bigger than any we’ve faced.”

“Well, what about The Powers? Can’t we ask them to pitch in?” Buffy queried. “I mean, after all, aren’t they supposed to be keeping the balance in this cockeyed universe?” I’d say if there was a time they needed to pay attention, it’d be now.”

“You know we can’t summon The Powers every time evil walks in the door. Sometimes they can’t interfere…or won’t…” Angel reflected. “They’re not exactly reliable.”

Buffy put her hands on her hips, biting her lower lip. “No kidding. So. We’re on our own?”

“Just you and me.”

“Like always,” Buffy replied, gazing into Angel’s eyes with a bittersweet smile.

Shaking off the melancholy, Buffy got down to business.

“I think we need a plan, don’t you? And weapons. An arsenal of fire power.”

Angel furrowed his brow. “As plans go, that’s a not a bad one, but these guys are invincible, Buffy. Their power is unfathomable.”

Buffy’s eyes dropped, checking out the abandoned newspaper in Angel’s lap. She pointed to the date in the corner. “See? This is yesterday’s paper. Old news,” she declared. “Maybe things have changed since twenty-four hours ago.” She looked dubiously at Angel. “It could happen.”

Angel untangled himself from Buffy and stood up, striding to the door. “Well, let’s see what today’s paper has to say. It should be here by now.” Cautiously avoiding the morning’s blaring sunlight, he bent down and retrieved the current newspaper, skimming over the front page. A small article at the bottom caught his attention. He read it on his way back to the sofa.

When Angel sat down Buffy tried to peer over his arm to get a look herself, but Angel folded the paper in half and tossed it on the floor, leaning back against the cushions. Buffy tried to read his expression, but all she could ascertain was a calmer-than-five-minutes-ago Angel.

“What? What did you read?” Buffy fretted.

Angel turned to her, a mischievous grin creeping over his face. “You must be psychic. The guru had to print a retraction to yesterday’s article. It seems he miscalculated. The Four Horsemen aren’t due to arrive until this time…next year.”

Buffy relaxed. “Oh, well, that’s better than good news.” She cuddled closer to Angel. “We’ve got a whole year to be apocalypse-free.”

“Yeah, but there is other evil in the world, you know.”

“Sure. I know. We’ll fight…and keep fighting until the end…but at least THE end isn’t coming this week,” Buffy retorted, “which means we’ve got time to stockpile weapons…and…and plan a strategy. Who knows? By next year there may be new, more powerful weapons no one’s even thought of yet. And of course, there’s the ever-popular standards…flame thrower, rocket launcher. Don’t tell me these guys are impervious to flame throwers and rocket launchers? Even The Judge wasn’t so high and mighty immortal as he thought when faced with modern technology.”

“No way to tell, Buffy. No one’s ever seen them. We don’t know the power they hold, but it’s rumored to be awesome and unstoppable. ”

Buffy’s head was still exploding with thoughts. “Could they be demons?”

“I suppose they could, but it doesn’t matter whether they are or not. They’re invincible.”

Angel loved her more than life itself, but at times, Buffy could be a real challenge. Irresistibly stubborn, fearless, and cute as a button.

“Geez, will you let up with the doom and gloom? I’m trying to be positive here,” Buffy snapped. “I’m just saying that we should have a plan.”

Angel sighed in frustration. He knew when he was defeated. “Ok, Buffy. If it makes you happy, we’ll talk strategy…but not yet. We don’t have to do it right now.”

Buffy smiled. It always delighted her when Angel gave in. Poor guy. She really should stop picking on him.

“Fine. We don’t have to…yet. But make room on your calendar sometime in the next few months.”

“Consider it done,” Angel replied. Inwardly, he was relieved to have this conversation over. They’d talked enough.

Time to mix in a little pleasure with world-ending business.

“So…what should we do in the meantime?” Angel teased, playfully nipping at her neck. Instantly Buffy picked up the vibe wafting off him. Hmm…nothing was more fun than frisky Angel.

“We could play find-Angel’s-ticklish-spots again. What do you think?” Buffy fluttered her long, enticing eyelashes at him, knowing he couldn’t resist when she did that. Angel’s face beamed as she danced her fingers slowly and feather-soft over his chest.

Her touch sent him into sensual orbit. “I’m game…”

The End