Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me. They are property of Joss Whedon, the WB, and Fox. I am merely borrowing them while I mess with their lives.


Ring! Ring! Ring! Ring! Ring! It was after the sixth jarring sound that Buffy picked up the phone. Sneaking a look at the clock, she groaned as she noted how early it was. After mentally cursing whoever was calling her, she spoke.

"Demon, vampire, or giant bug?," she asked groggily.

There was a chuckle, a very familiar one, Buffy noted through a sleepy haze.

"Vampire," Angel answered his amusement clear. "But he's not dangerous."

Buffy sat up when she finally registered the voice. Running a hand through her hair she sighed. "Maybe not to you," she replied her voice husky. "But he's risky for me. Bored?"

Another chuckle. "More like lonely," he answered. "I figured you'd be up. Seems I was wrong."

Buffy smiled. "Don't worry about it," she told him reassuringly. "I'm always awake for you."

"That's good to know."

Buffy laid back down in bed, situating herself comfortably on a pillow. "So, you're lonely. Why?"

Buffy heard movement and imagined he was lying back like she was. "Why am I lonely?" he repeated the question. "I guess I do it well."

Buffy chuckled. "I'm sure there are plenty of things you do well," she said to him. "Try some of those."

"Okay," he agreed. "There's brooding, lurking, stalking. And, if I were a bragger, I'd add killing to that list, but we both know I'm reformed."

Buffy couldn't help but smile. "Okay, so maybe you're lacking in hobbies. You haven't picked up something to do in all your years?"

"Some things."

The simple statement pricked Buffy's curiousity. "Care to elaborate."

There was another chuckle. "Reading," he answered. "I read. A lot."

Buffy knew there was something he wasn't telling her. But she figured if he wasn't talking, he wasn't talking.

"Okay, reading is good," Buffy said adopting the subject. "I read. All the time."

This time a muffled laugh could be heard on the other end. Buffy, slightly stung, was not amused.

"Buffy, what was the last thing you read?," he asked when he'd stopped laughing. "That wasn't school related."

Buffy frowned. "All right," she admitted. "The last thing I read, that wasn't assigned, was the latest issue of Cosmo. But I had to sneak that one in during a Slayerette meeting."

"My point proved."

"Hey!," Buffy said indignantly. "I happen to be a very busy person. I don't exactly have time to sit down and devote a couple of hours to great works of literature. I can just see myself trying to read Shakespeare by the light of the moon in Sunnydale Cemetery."

By the silence on the other end of the phone she knew she'd made her point.

"You're right," he said contritely. "I'm sorry."

Buffy sighed. "Apology accepted. Can we move on, please?"

"Yes, let's move on," he answered. "What do we talk about now?"

Buffy smiled as she snuggled deeper into her covers. "Let's talk about why I haven't seen you for a while," she answered after shifting the phone to her other ear. "You don't return my phone calls, you avoid me at the Bronze. I stop by your place and you tell me you're busy. What's the deal?"

There was another round of silence and Buffy was positive he wasn't going to answer. Just when she'd decided to give up he spoke.

"I've been doing some thinking," he answered softly. "It's not something I do well with you around."

"Should I be flattered?"

He chuckled again. "Yeah, you should," he replied. "Anyway, things are going fairly well for us and I needed to think about what to do next."

"So what did you decide?" she asked, curious to know what his answer would be. "What were your choices?"

"Well, I could either give the 'we're doomed to failure' speech, but I figured that would only upset you, and you upset means trouble for me." he answered after a moment.

Buffy smiled. "Okay, upsetting speech. Your other choice?"

"I could be happy and leave things the way they are."

"And you chose..."

"I chose to be happy."

Buffy sighed happily. "Which means I stay happy," she said. "Good choice. Does that mean no more avoiding me?"

He laughed. "No more avoiding you. I'll return all your calls and when you drop by I won't be busy."

"So, if I said I was on my way over now."

"I'd tell you to go home," he finished for her. "One of us has a class tomorrow."

Buffy groaned. "You're beginning to sound like my mother."

"It's the age thing," he answered matter-of-factly. "Speaking of mothers, where is yours?"

"My mom is out of town on gallery business," Buffy answered. "The New York gallery is having some big art show and mom had to make an appearance. Such is the life of a gallery owner."

"That would mean you're all alone," he ventured.

"Yep," she replied. "All alone. I tried to wrangle an invite but suspected vamp activity has me grounded."

"Giles being Giles again, huh?"

Buffy nodded. "He's had me training extra hard for some upcoming event. You should show. It'll be bigger than Tyson-Holyfield."

"Is that right?" he asked an amused note in his voice. "When did you take up boxing?"

Buffy laughed. "Boxing is cool. I watch to learn. Plus, it gives me a happy. It's nice to watch two sweaty, muscular men pummeling each other and know that, if I were there, I could kick both their asses."

"We talked about my lack of hobbies. Let's talk about your choice of hobbies."