Summary: Maybe there's a way to take the doomed out of this love equation.
Word Count: 450
Author's Note: Written for the Shiny Happy Comment Ficathon which is brilliant fun. Okay, y'all know I'm a hardcore Spuffy, but once upon a time, I shipped Buffy/Angel and I believed they loved each other intensely. Over the years, I became convinced that they were more attached to the idea of being in love forever than actually being in love. With that in mind, I'll shut up and let the fic speak for itself.
"You don't actually think we're that bad, do you? After all this time we're not still... Because that's just... I don't know how to... What does that even mean?"
"No. No, of course not. We're definitely not. Well, maybe..."
"I mean, I'm always happy to see you--except when I'm not. And I'm always gonna love you--even when I try not to. And I can't help that when I see you, when I'm around you, it's just like... Angel. You know?"
"I can see that. I think. It's different for me."
"What? You mean I'm always gonna carry the torch and you're just gonna move on? Well, that sucks. Can we trade places?"
"No, I mean..." He frowns and takes a deep (unnecessary) breath. "I'm always gonna love you, but..."
"But you're not in love with me."
He hesitates. "No."
Relieved, she exhales the air caught in her throat and leans closer to confide, "Me either. I mean... I'll always love you--always--but it... it doesn't hurt to not be together anymore. I love you. I love you and I'm happy we're not together. What is that?"
"I think that means we're friends." His head rocks back at the realization.
She absorbs this with a nod. "Okay. So, we should probably stop using our tongues to say hello, huh? I mean, kissing. We should stop the kissing."
He laughs. "Right. No kissing. Sounds good."
"It does, doesn't it?" She smiles, then falters, a trace of uncertainty in her eyes. "Can we still hug, though?"
He contemplates her question, then softly says, "I'd like that."
She gazes at him warmly, her smile delicate and fond. "Me, too."
"What? Like to seal the no-kissing-only-hugging deal?"
"No, I just thought... can I hug you?"
Her cheeks dimple. "Okay. Why not?"
So he wraps her in his arms and she folds herself into his embrace, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder as his hands settle on her lower back.
Contentment skips across her skin, sinking in deep and warming her from the inside. Unbidden, heartfelt wishes arise, and she whispers, "I want you to be happy. Wherever you are, whoever you're with. I just want you to be happy."
Deadpan, he notes, "Not too happy, though."
She laughs. "Right. Not too happy."
He sighs and rests his cheek against her temple. "I want you to be happy, too. That's all I've ever wanted for you."
She closes her eyes. "I love you, Angel."
He smiles ever so slightly. "I love you, Buffy."
For the first time, the words are easy and weightless. There is no pain or regret or second guessing--no questions or what-ifs. There's only love and it's never been more true.