Blurb: This pairing was actually the reason I started watching BtVS--I saw a picture of the two and it set off enough of my fandom alarms that I started getting into it, and I was richly rewarded.
Though the bulk of their onscreen romance takes place when Buffy is in high school and Angel is a vampire some 200+ years older than her (and in his late 20s when he was turned), it's never played for shock value, but the inherent tangles of their relationship are never ignored--indeed, they play front and center frequently.
He brings out the mature side of a teenager and (along with others, of course) gives her a reason to save the world every week. She gives him hope for finding a place in the world and a cause to fight for. Except for the last half-episode of Buffy and the final season of Angel (and Spike is in a category of his own, really), they both know what it's like to be alone, the only one, the champion.
And sure, it's cheesy at times--what OTP isn't?--but the depth of emotion always trumps that. (It helps that their relationship gets its share of good-hearted mocking, whether by plot design as in "The Zeppo" or by their friends as in "Fredless.") They are two people who simply get each other. While I have plenty of issues with comics that comprise "Season 8" of Buffy, I do agree with Angel on one thing--they're meant for each other, and neither has ever been happy with anyone else. (This isn't to say that their respective feelings for Spike and Cordelia were negligible, just different. Who does Buffy tell she sometimes thinks about the future in "Chosen"? Whose name does Angel cry before losing his soul in "Awakening"?)
The one girl in all the world and the man who isn't but desperately wants to be. As Giles says, "A vampire in love with a slayer. It's rather poetic, in a maudlin sort of way." And fanfic--the good stuff, anyway--tends to bear that out. This is a epic romance to end epic romances. Step aside, Bella, Sookie, and whoever else. Joss did it first, and better.
Fic Rec #1: Something Like Summertime
Why This Must Be Read: I stumbled onto this beautiful one-shot even before I started watching Buffy, and I was transfixed. The setting is simple and beautiful, and so is the writing. It captures the happy ending that these two so desperately deserve, and it hones in on the why of it--they are happiest together. That thenyxie keeps them fighting the good fight makes it all the sweeter: part of what makes the pairing so interesting is that the two have always had higher callings keeping them apart, but when you take the barriers away, they still want to do what's right, for themselves and for the rest of the world.
Fic Rec #2 Symbology
Why This Must Be Read: Another simple happy ending, but of a different nature. Here, Angel is still a vampire, but they make it work, something that by the end of both series seemed possible. Femmenerd captures both the epic-ness that makes them click as champions and the minutiae that make them click as people.
Fic Rec #3: The Girl Next Door
Author: Margot Le Faye
Why This Must Be Read: A Buffy/Angel reunion, as seem by near-strangers. The tarot card theme is a great touch (even if you know nothing about tarot), especially in light of the role of prophecies and so forth throughout the Buffyverse, not to mention Drusilla. This short fic shows how they might settle in together, in something resembling a happy ending.
Fic Rec #4: Stains
Author: Vatrixsta Cruden
Why This Must Be Read: This fic captures many of the elements that made Buffy and Angel work--both the characters and their respective shows. There is humor, sex, some awkwardness and uncertainty, Spike being Spike, and a refreshingly matured Dawn. It pays respect to their pasts and departed friends, to what they fight for (big and small), and to what they mean to each other. The segment at the carnival in particular is unique and wonderfully executed.
Fic Rec #5: Five Times Buffy Kissed Angel (and once when she didn't)
Why This Must Be Read: This fic illustrates the ever-present strom und drang of the B/A relationship, while capturing a several key moments in that relationship, which are also key moments in their lives. The angst is ever-present, but, as in canon, it doesn't preclude love or a small moment of (imperfect) happiness. The first paragraph in particular always gets me.
Fic Rec #6: In This World
Why This Must Be Read: The Angel episode "I Will Remember You" has spawned endless questions of "what if," fics examining those questions, and an excellent annual marathon. This, though, may be my favorite take, wherein Buffy doesn't quite die at the end of "The Gift," but passes into a parallel dimension with a slightly different timeline. It's heartbreaking to realize, after reading this, that maybe these two could have been happy together, earlier, without bringing the world to an end. In the meantime, Felicity tugs at your heart as the Buffy we know tries to navigate the life of the one we never got to.
Fic Rec #7: On Ancient Wings
Why This Must Be Read: Cynamin does something entirely new with the idea of a Buffy/Angel futurefic, setting them in a distant but not unrecognizable future where Angel has begun to look more like the monster inside of him (aging in the way that, for instance, the Master did). But Buffy is still Buffy, and there's still that good fight. Her determination and optimism are so believable here, as are the effects of his having spent more centuries alone, always saving but never joining humanity. (Supposedly a sequel exists; you will absolutely be my hero if you can find it.)
Fic Rec #8: I-55
Why This Must Be Read: Splitting off from canon in early BtVS S6/AtS S3, this fic follows an Angel desperate to keep his child alive and safe, a Buffy who is struggling with being alive, and a miracle-child of two vampires that isn't remotely Connor. It's hard to believe that the friends Angel and Buffy have surrounded themselves with might feel this way, but with this fic, it's hard to mind that treatment, especially when the characters are so very much there despite the premise. "I-55" is too dark to be called a happy ending, but Yahtzee's Buffy seems content with it, and so am I.
Fic Rec #9: Bittersweet Legacy
Why This Must Be Read: Ever since BtVS S1's "Nightmares," we've known that one of the few things Buffy feared was being turned into a vampire. Angel, who loves her in large part for her utter humanity and knows just what it means to be turned, presumably has similar fears for her. This very long but worthwhile story shows why, and then follows what they and their friends might do with it. It's not a perfect fic (Coredlia/Gunn, anyone?) but the beginnings, at least, are fascinating as we see Vampire!Buffy and Angel is various states of love and trying to kill each other, souled and soulless, and more.
Fic Rec #10: As Time Goes By
Why This Must Be Read: I debated whether or not to rec this piece. It's a crossover of the insert-these-characters-into-that-settin