Secrets & Lies, Part XII

Future-ish fic.  Buffy and Angel work out a few things, we find out what Cordy’s up to, and our fav couple returns to LA.  *smut warning*

Author’s Notes: Future-ish fic.  Buffy and Angel work out a few things, we find out what Cordy’s up to, and our fav couple returns to LA.  *smut warning*Sorry this has taken so long to get out! My muse took off for parts unknown, only to return and completely disregard the outline of the story, forcing a rework of various parts that had been planned for later. Not to mention, I would swear that I work in a hell dimension…

Thanks to everyone for reading, for the wonderful feedback so far and most especially for your patience.

Angel’s comments are somewhat of an hommage to “As Good As It Gets” albeit unintentionally since I’ve not seen the movie. *g* And just for reference, I’ve read tons of romance novels in my life so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an occasional similiarity from authors such as Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey, Beatrice Small, Susan Johnson, Stephanie Laurens, Heather Graham and no doubt others that I can’t even remember their names. *g*

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

Disclaimer: Own nothing. All belongs to Joss, ME, Fox,

Pairing: Ultimately B/A. Has C/A and mentions of B/S.

Distribution: My site, EverySixSeconds; sites currently with permission to host my fics; all others please ask.

Originally posted: Apr 20, 2003

Stirring slightly, Buffy lazily opened her eyes. Behind her, pressed tightly to her back, her head tucked under his chin, she could feel the solid masculine strength that was Angel. She sighed softly, trying to remember the last time she felt so rested; so secure. Lounging away the day in bed, as she had done today, was a luxury that she could not remember ever allowing herself to indulge in.

The blinds in the bedroom were tightly closed, but from the faint light in the hallway she guessed that it must be around five o’clock. It would still be a few hours then before they could leave for LA. Buffy felt a twinge of regret that she had agreed to go; her responsibilities in Sunnydale had always weighed heavily on her mind making it difficult for her to leave for any period of time. It didn’t seem to matter that she rarely encountered anything to slay any more; it just somehow didn’t seem right to leave the Hellmouth unattended.

Still half-dozing, the delicate scent of vanilla permeating his senses, Angel felt the unfamiliar warmth of his mate next to him and his lips curved in a small smile. Her small figure was warm, the heat from her body comforting as she lay curled against him, one of her feet resting on one of his shins. Her hair, in wild disarray on the gold sheets, tickled his chin and chest with soft, silken strands when he felt her move slightly. He lifted his hand from the bed, where it had been resting in front of her waist, to settle on her hip. Almost with a sigh, he adjusted her against him and settled back into the cozy comfort of the bed.

Buffy blinked as Angel’s hand glided tentatively along the curve of her hip, moving slowly as if he were either afraid to wake her or afraid to find that she wasn’t real. His hand slipped under the forest green satin pajama top that he had dressed her in the night before and dipped toward the curve of her waist, his long slender fingers gently stroking her stomach. A low rumbling purr began deep in his chest and Buffy smiled slightly, snuggling instinctively closer, as she felt the subtle vibrations against her back. It had been awhile since she had heard that almost forgotten sound of his contentment.

“Buffy…” Angel murmured softly, his eyes still closed. He moved his leg, tucking her more firmly against him, the soft silk of his boxers brushing against the curve of her behind. His fingers brushed along her ribs then the palm of his hand again slid down along her hip in a soothing caress before continuing a slow leisurely exploration along her thigh.

Sighing softly, Buffy closed her eyes and relaxed against him, enjoying his touch, the feel of his hand stroking her skin. The emotional disclosures of the night had been painful and grueling; right now, at this moment, she just wanted to put the heartbreaking memories away; she wanted to forget the horror of her nightmare and she wanted to forget the feel of the Shaqti’s hands on her body.

Angel’s palm moved upward again, sweeping under the green silk to stop just below the rounded fullness of her breast. His fingers idly stroked her ribs, brushing the lower curve of her breast every so slightly, but moved no further. He was simply content to hold her, reveling in her warmth and offering what comfort that he could after all that he now knew that she had been through. He frowned slightly at the reminder; at all that she had been forced to endure alone. His hand slipped back to her waist and he hugged her tightly, nuzzling her hair, as he vowed to himself not for the first time nor he suspected the last, that he would not fail her again.

“Ummm…” Buffy stretched against him, rolling on to her back and sensuously moving her body to fit snugly against his. The feel of him against her now that the anguish of the night had somewhat subsided enticed her, stirring her senses with the reminders of the pleasure and forgetfulness that could be found in his arms. Nestled in the strong curve of his arm, she again felt that unusual sense of security, of belonging. It was a feeling that she hadn’t felt for years and it both alarmed her and soothed her. Unaware of the implication of Angel’s touch in regards to the spell, Buffy chose for the moment to dismiss her concerns about the unusual feelings, instead turning to brush his collarbone with a soft kiss.

Tilting her head back and lifting her chin, she closed the distance between their lips as she kissed him with a teasing brush of her lips. It was a feather-light kiss at first, Buffy gradually building the pressure before nibbling on his lower lip, biting down gently. Under the covers her hand settled on his wrist, urging his hand upward from where it now rested on her stomach.

“Touch me.” She whispered against his lips, savoring the cool sensation of his hand moving under the guidance of hers slid along her stomach to her ribs.

The soft plea in her voice combined with the rising heat of her desire chased away the last lazy remnants of sleep and Angel opened his eyes to look down at her. Initially his reaction was to fight the spiraling heat of want; it was perhaps too soon after the revelations of the night before and he worried for her health, physically and emotionally. He in no way wanted to rush her into anything she wasn’t ready for.

“Maybe we shouldn’t…” Angel whispered softly, halting the slow progress of their hands just shy of the full mound of her breast. Despite his words, he was unable to control his body’s response to her, his erection growing against the warm heat of her thigh that he could feel through his boxers. “I can wait.”

“I can’t.” Buffy murmured softly, her words coming to a whispery end as she opened her luminous green eyes to meet his rich brown ones; desire glowed in the mossy green depths, melting his reservations.

“Please … just help me forget.” She entreated in a hushed whisper.

In case her words weren’t enough to convince him, her lips then settled on his firmly in a slow and sultry kiss, allowing the passion between them to build by degrees until Buffy drew back slightly to catch her breath. When he moved his arm of his own accord underneath her top, her hand dropped from his wrist to clutch at his waist.

“Perfection…” He breathed huskily against her lips as his fingers splayed over the soft mound of her breast, before squeezing gently. Lifting his head from the pillow, he softly grazed her cheek with a kiss, before tracing each feature of her face with tantalizing slowness.

“You’re so beautiful.” His lips brushed her ear and he smiled at the shiver that swept over her leaving behind the tale-tell goose bumps. He was in no hurry. He touched her with a leisurely sensitivity, feeling again that extraordinary sense of possessiveness that accompanied his thoughts and feelings for Buffy, along with a profound feeling of relief and thankfulness that he had a second chance to make things right.

With tenderness and care, his fingertips swept across the peaking tip of one nipple then the other as his mouth moved along her chin and down her throat with open-mouthed kisses.

“Hurry…” Buffy sighed restlessly, her hand tugging at his boxers.

He grabbed her hand to halt her progress in undressing him, lifting it to his lips and kissing her fingers lightly while looking down at her with an amused expression, familiar now with her impatience. Pressing one last kiss on the vine-like mark that circled her finger, he placed her hand on his upper arm before resuming gentle kisses along her neck. His lips finally returned to hers at her insistent nudge of her nose against his cheek. He wasn’t about to be rushed, wanting to love her leisurely, to draw out their pleasure.

Angel cupped the back of her head and held her lips to his for a fraction longer when she would have broken the soft kiss to catch a breath. He lifted his head a fraction from hers, studying her face seriously. He brushed a stray hair away from her eyes gently before cupping her cheek gently in his palm. When he spoke his voice was a soft husky whisper. “I love you Buffy, very much.”

Reaching up, Buffy held his hand to her face. She mentally groped for a response as a tremor of sensation swept over her at his words, something faint and almost unrecognizable. Love? It was insubstantial and fleeting, so much so that she wondered if it been there at all. Whatever it had been, it was replaced with a rapid rising feeling of regret as she questioned her judgment for what at this moment seemed to be a selfish whim in taking him as a lover. She couldn’t return his feelings; she was only going to hurt him.

She turned her head and kissed his palm. “Angel-”

As if aware of her uncertainty, Angel leaned forward and stopped whatever she might have said with a searing kiss. Returning his hand to her stomach, he caressed it gently before he swept the green satin pajama up to her breasts with bewitching slowness.

With an impatient wiggle, Buffy grabbed the impediment to Angel’s progress and tugged the green satin over her head tossing it carelessly over the side of the bed. She wanted him now, without delay. Her eyes burned with heated passion, anxious for the culmination of the heady pleasure that she knew would be found in his arms.

“Now, Angelll… touch me.” She whined pleadingly, sliding a foot along his calf as she trailed her hand along his chest again.

“Where, love? Here?” His lips curved in a sensual smile, his eyes dark with passion as they regarded her face before dropping to watch his hand as his fingertips plucked gently at the peaking bud of her nipple. He pinched the tip softly, stroking and massaging it until it was taut and hard between his finger and thumb. “Or here…?” His voice was a husky whisper as he shifted his attention to her other breast, treating it to the same pleasurable torture as its twin.

A soft moan escaped Buffy’s lips as the exquisite sensations pulsed from her breasts through her belly to culminate in the low bewitching burn of desire. “Yess…” She whispered, a smile in her voice as she reached again for his wrist. She was torn between not wanting him to stop and wanting to move his hand lower, to assuage the growing ache between her legs.

His lips descended on hers, his tongue sliding along her lower lip before tracing the edges of her teeth with agonizing slowness. His erotic exploration aroused her and she wanted him to slow down at the same time she inexplicably wanted him to hurry. When he started to pull away, she lifted her arms and circled his neck, pulling him back as she slanted her head slightly and curled her tongue around his, drawing him back into her mouth.

Her fingers slipped into the short hairs at his nape, her nails scraping gently until he deepened their kiss, taking her mouth with a fierce possessiveness, as only he had ever been able to do.

She sighed into his mouth when he gave her what she wanted, one of her hands releasing their grip on his hair and drifting along his shoulder. She felt the muscles beneath her hand ripple at her touch accompanied by a low growl from his chest and she felt an incredible sense of awe and power that she could affect a creature as powerful and experienced as Angel so strongly with only a touch.

She whimpered softly and stirred on the bed as he released her mouth to lean over her, his hands sweeping along her ribcage to the rounded curves of her breasts with feather-like caresses. Lowering his head, his tongue swept across one rigid peak, laving the tip gently as he cupped her breasts in his hands.

Buffy sank her fingertips into his hair, holding his head at her breasts as each delicate suck on her nipple sent a frisson of pleasure cascading through her, flowing downward to culminate in the pulsing throb between her legs. When he took her moist nipple into his mouth and sucked with firmer pressure, she arched her back off the bed and pressed her chest firmly against his lips desperately wanting more.

After long minutes of the sparking pleasure, Buffy mewled softly and tugged on his hair, her words an insistent demand. “More, Angel… now.”

“Now, now… patience, sweet.” Angel smiled against her breast, biting gently on the rounded inner curve with increasing pressure until she heeded his admonishment and stilled. He sucked gently as one of his hands trailed down over her abdomen, pausing to caress her stomach before drifting down between her legs.

With exquisite slowness he ran his fingertips along the swollen, wet outer lips before dipping to catch the swollen bud of her clitoris between his fingers. Sliding the pad of his fingers around it gently, he rubbed the pliant nub with slow, increasingly firm strokes, steadily building the pressure.

Buffy keened softly, her fingers tangled in his hair and gripping with near painful strength, her other hand clenched the corded muscle of his shoulder hard enough to leave a faint bluish bruise. She arched into his hand, hot and wet and tempting and he took full advantage of her offer, exploring, stroking and massaging every lush inch of her until she was teetering on the edge of ecstasy. His tongue swirled around her nipple again, before licking a luscious wet path to her throat. With his blunted teeth biting down gently in the soft flesh of her neck, he pushed two long fingers deep inside her, curling them slightly to stroke the highly sensitive nerves of her interior walls. His thumb pressed firmly on the sensitive, swollen nub of her clit and he bit harder, causing Buffy to drop her head to the side and arch against him forcefully. When he sucked the soft skin of her throat into his mouth, it shoved her over the edge. Her wild cry echoed through the room as he felt the convulsing spasms of her wet heat surrounding his fingers begin…

Long moments later, Buffy blinked and stirred, opening her eyes when Angel withdrew his fingers from her body bringing them to his lips. She watched him interestedly, as he licked her dewy moisture off of his fingers with teasing slowness. No matter the exquisite pleasure he had just brought her, the depth of her satiation and contentment… she wanted him, wholly and completely. No substitute or alternative, no matter how pleasing, would suffice. Her desire was strangely ravenous, uncontrolled.

He grunted softly when she reached out and forcefully grabbed his erection through the soft silk of his boxers. His eyes drifted to her face and Buffy smiled sweetly, then shoved hard at his shoulder rolling him on to his back.

She shredded the black silk quickly, her warm hand seeking the hard, cool length of his shaft. Her fingers closed around him, sweeping upward with firm, sure pressure as she planted soft kisses along his chest. Buffy laid her cheek on his ribs and watched as her fingers stroked along the glistening, reddened crest of his erection, stretching it taut and rubbing the sensitive rim before sweeping down again in a firm caress.

Under her ear, she felt the low vibration of a growl deep within his chest followed by a soft groan that escaped his lips. She smiled and nipped at his stomach with her teeth before crawling up his body and swinging a leg over his hips to straddle him.

His gaze flashed upward and their eyes met.

“I want you.” Buffy purred seductively, rising to her knees as her eyes surveyed him with a now familiar brazen sensuality.

“You have me.” Angel replied with a smile in his voice, crossing his arms behind his head. “For whatever you… desire.”

“Mmm…” She murmured thoughtfully, assessing him once again with her eyes before she began to lower herself on his rigid erection with excruciating slowness.

“Perfection…” She sighed contentedly, echoing his earlier sentiment, as his hard length slid inside her, filling her.

Angel closed his eyes against the pleasure of the exquisite tight heat that surrounded him as she sat squarely on his lap. Her body was an irresistible lure, ripe with an almost combustible heat, so hot that it threatened to engulf him. And at that moment, he didn’t find that too horrible of a way to go at all… He closed his eyes, his hands moving from his casual pose behind his head to rest on her thighs.

With deliberate slowness, Buffy began to raise and lower herself on him in a slow, hard rhythm. Her knees brushed his ribs as she moved with steadily increasing intensity. A low reverberation of purring rapture sounded deep in her throat, moving along her body directly to where their bodies were joined, and she clenched her vaginal muscles, squeezing him tightly. Angel slid his hands up her thighs to her hips.

She watched him with heavy, half-lidded eyes as she rose to her knees before lowering herself with steady determination. Her own hands reached up to cup her breasts as the remembered feel of his hands, his lips on them earlier drifted through her consciousness.

Angel purred, his hands on her hips guiding her movements now, rocking her slightly and slowing her pace when she would have hurried.

Leaning down and pressing the softness of her breasts against his chest, Buffy traced his lips with her tongue, then nibbled at his bottom lip. Driven by impulses she did not understand or could not control, she bit him. Hard.

His eyes opened with a start, the initial shock replaced almost instantly with impassioned instinct; as if reacting to some subconscious challenge she had just issued or as if some intrinsic, repressed urge had suddenly been released. Or perhaps it was simply the taste of blood in his mouth that provoked him. No matter what the driving factor was, he was equally powerless to control his response. He tumbled her on her back so quickly she let out a soft sound of surprise.

With graceful roll that did not dislodge him, his large hands slipped under her, cupping her bottom and lifting her to meet his thrust. The tattoo on his back flexed beneath her fingers as he moved, his hips connecting solidly with hers on each firm down stroke.

“Is that what you want?” He whispered heatedly against her ear, his cheek pressed against hers as his lower body continued to move in a powerful rhythm between her thighs. His eyes flashed gold as his features began to shift to his demon visage.

“Yes…” She whimpered softly, her hands clutching at his shoulders, her nails making small half-moon marks along the smooth flesh, as she wrapped her legs around his waist. Wanting him possibly more than she could ever remember, Buffy was trembling on the brink of ecstasy so intense she was sure that she would shatter into a thousand pieces at any second.

Angel’s back arched as he drove into her again and again with an almost mindless frenzy, any semblance of his earlier control lost. His eyes were closed as he moved, unaware of the sheer power and violence of his thrusts, his normally rigid control obliterated and his vampiric passions unleashed.

She clung to him, pulling him closer with strong arms and reaching up to tangle her fingers in his hair, drawing his head down for a kiss as she met him with her own feverish need. She tested the sharpness of his fangs with her tongue before allowing his to plunge deeply into her mouth. She sucked on it greedily, struggling to get closer to him. Never would she have thought that she craved his dominance, his absolute possession of her with such uncontrollable carnal lust.

Her eyes opened briefly when he broke their kiss, the resplendent green depths meeting the nearly unfathomable glittering gold of his for a brief moment before she closed her eyes again and tilted her head to the side, as if offering her neck to him.

A low growl escaped him as Angel slid his fingers into her hair, cradling the back of her head in his hand. His hips slowed to long, hard strokes as his other arm slipped behind her back. Almost with a jerk, he pulled her tightly against him, arching her back.

“Gráim thú.” Angel murmured softly, sliding his lips across her cheek. “I love you.”

Buffy moaned when he nuzzled her neck roughly, his tongue sweeping across the now rapidly beating pulse just below the satiny soft skin. Her heartbeat was pounding in her ears as the approaching sense of rapture raced through her body with an intensity that was almost frightening. Her senses were saturated with his essence, his overpowering presence.

At the first scrape of his fangs on her throat, her breath hitched. The burning heat of desire licked at her breasts, moving along her spine to culminate at the apex of her thighs, making her weak with a desperate hunger for him. Her eyes opened wide at the first piercing sensation of his bite and she clutched at his back, her nails digging sharply into the firm muscles beneath his tattoo. Despite the sharp, stinging pain she whimpered softly and wantonly arched against him.

Angel slowed his hips to match the rhythm of the slow steady pulls of his mouth of her neck, savoring the taste of her blood, the powerful rich elixir.

She mewled softly, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder as desire poured through her, insistent and powerful. Her body responded eagerly to the rough draw of his kiss, matching his passion with a feverish intensity of her own.

In the next instant reality melted into oblivion. Buffy cried out sharply, as the world fell away with a tumultuous, explosive shower of blue sparks leaving only pure bliss and Angel.

Angel’s low groan of release that followed her high piercing cry was unheard.


Cordelia clutched the round, dark metal disk in one palm, the slender rod in the other and tentatively stepped into the middle of her hotel room. Sliding the rod into the center of the coin shaped disk, she watched as it began to spin, faster and faster, opening the portal that would take her to her demon guide.

“Skip?” She questioned hesitantly, looking around into the dimly lit stone chamber. Cautiously, she made her way down the dank stairwell and through the arched entrance, stepping carefully to keep from stumbling in the 3′ ½ inch heels. She grimaced slightly at the dank atmosphere, briefly annoyed that she had worn her new Kate Spade sandals. The air in here had to be damaging to kidskin.

“Cordelia.” Skip greeted her almost coolly, knowing who his visitor was even with his back turned. He had been expecting her, especially now with the news that Whistler had returned.

The dyed blonde glanced around the room with a look of contempt. She hated having to seek him out for help, but she was fast running out of choices.

“You have still not reunited with your champion.” The demon sighed heavily, turning to face her.

“So he’s an ass. Is that my fault?” Cordelia retorted angrily, crossing her arms over her chest. “Find me another champion. A good one. Someone strong and handsome. Tall, dark hair…” She trailed off almost dreamily before noticing the look of exasperation on the demons’s face. Hastily, her tone blunt and waspish, she added, “One in this dimension.”

“This is a mission, not a dating service.” Skip replied his tone aggrieved. “Besides, you know that I can’t do that.” Whistler’s return did not bode well for either he or Cordelia. His own treachery and dissemblance was apt to be revealed, as was the extent to which he had covered for the seer over the course of the years. He had been contemplating his own options for escape when the dyed blonde had arrived.

“Why the hell not?” She demanded undeterred, skilled at coaxing the demon into doing her bidding.

“The Powers will not allow it. You know the rules as well as I.” Skip replied firmly, his tone thoughtful. “To be reassigned to a new champion, your champion must be retired, redeemed or killed.”

“That figures.” Cordelia muttered under her breath, pacing briskly from one side of the room to the other. What were the chances that Angel would be redeemed in the next few days? She stopped short, tapping her toe impatiently and staring at the rock walls. Not good. Angel’s score on the board of points needed for redemption wasn’t great, she grudgingly conceded, completely oblivious to the degree to which that was her fault for not telling him about her visions. That left retired or killed…

Whirling back around to face Skip, her brown eyes glittering ruthlessly in the dim light, she asked. “How do champions get retired?”

“Champions are retired when they are redeemed, when their service is no longer required because the need for the duty no longer exists, or when they are simply no longer useful.” The demon guide replied, watching the seer intently. He could almost see the gears in her mind turning.

“I don’t suppose that’s likely to happen to Angel any time soon?” The dyed blonde asked sardonically, knowing full well the extent to which a champion was needed in LA. Her visions had been frequent and increasingly troublesome over the last few years. Of course, what the seer failed to realize, was that had any of those visions been acted upon the trouble would have lessened considerably years ago instead of being allowed to steadily build.

Skip moved his head in a single shake of negation.

“Well, that only leaves the last option, doesn’t it?” Cordelia questioned matter-of-factly, studying her fingernails. She clucked slightly when she noticed the small chip in the polish and frowned.

“Cordelia-” Skip began in alarm. Lying, stealing, the occasional obfuscation to allow evil plans to be executed was one thing, but assassinating one of the champions for the Powers… that would put him firmly outside any mercy or leniency with the Powers.

“What? Don’t tell me you’re going to back out on me now?” With a lift of her eyebrow, the seer looked at Skip with cool disdain. Jabbing her finger in the air, she pointed at him to punctuate her words. “Don’t even think about it buster. Like it or not, you’re in this with me right up to your Stonehenge shaped eyebrows. If I go down, you go down with me. Got that?”

The demon stared back for a few seconds before finally replying, his voice grave with concern. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“Well then thank god you don’t need to think. All you need to do is find me another champion. In the meantime, I’m going to try one more love spell. That idiot demon that I had bought that last one from, may his slimy carcass continue to suffer the wrath of hell in his burning little putrid hell hole, said something about a powerful warlock here in LA. That if anyone could help me this guy, Nikkos, could. I suppose he thought that telling me that would save his sorry ass but he thought wrong. *No one* crosses Cordelia Chase and gets away with it.” With a toss of her hair, Cordelia spun around toward the stairs again, wondering briefly why the name Nikkos sounded vaguely familiar.

“And if this Nikkos guy can’t come up with a spell that works, then how hard can it be to stake one vampire? I mean really?” Cordelia said dismissively, the thought crossing her mind that if Buffy could slay vampires then of course, she, Queen C, could do so easily. Anything Buffy could do, she could do better. That wasn’t even a question.

Skip watched her with a troubled expression as she made her way up the stairs and out.

Angel stared down at Buffy worriedly and mentally berated himself for what had to be the thousandth time in the last half hour. How could he have been so careless? He cursed the uncontrollable impulse that had unleashed his vampiric tendencies that had led to his marking of her again and he damned himself for what was undoubtedly another weakness of his character that had allowed it to happen now, instead of when he had completely reassured himself that the risks to Buffy were minimized.

He felt her pulse again; it was slow and steady. He nervously wondered whether he should perhaps take her to the hospital. He didn’t think he had taken much blood, but it was in the heat of passion… He could have.

He could hear Angelus laughing at him, calling him spineless and weak all the while taunting him with tantalizing reminders of the deliciousness of her blood, particularly when spiced with her arousal. No doubt, it had been a treat to be savored. At the thought Angel castigated himself yet again, and lifted Buffy’s hand to his lips. The tattoo like mark around her ring finger was fading, adding further to his worry.

Buffy’s eyelids fluttered slightly and she stirred, glancing up at her vampire lover lying next to her and looking down at her with an anxious expression.

“Angel?” Buffy questioned softly, stretching lazily and brushing her hair back from her face.

“Buffy… Are you all right?” he asked cautiously, Nikkos’s words about how to break the spell echoing through his mind with unrelenting ferocity.

“Mmm…” She purred softly, smiling and reaching up to slide her arm around his neck. Stretching up, she kissed him lightly on his wounded lower lip. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s all right.” Angel replied quietly, lifting his hand to touch her cheek with controlled movements, still fearful of the unknown consequences of his earlier action. Beneath the healing wounds on her neck, he could see the scar from his original mark reformed.

Buffy’s face suddenly turned ashen, her eyes widening as if terror-struck.

The dull ticking of her alarm clock seemed loud in the sudden silence of the room and Buffy briefly wondered if her heart had stopped.

I love him, was her first thought as she looked up in the dark concerned eyes. I really do love him. He’ll leave me, was the second. She swallowed and shut her eyes, fighting the overwhelming flood of tears that was threatening to surface.

She gasped for breath as every moment of life with Angel seemed to pass in front of her eyes, from their first meeting to their first kiss, right up through the first time they had made love. Angelus’s torments, his angry passion, it all swept through her, as did the day that she had been forced to send her lover to hell.

I never wanted to love him this much, she thought helplessly as the ache in her throat intensified. Oh god. Her baby, their baby…

Her breath hitched and she squeezed her eyes tighter, willing the unwelcome flood of memories and the accompanying emotions away but they continued unabated. Angel, gracefully practicing Tai Chi at the mansion during his recuperation from hell; Angel comforting her after a patrol, holding her close and telling her that he loved her; Angel breaking up with her in a sewer; Angel walking away through a cloud of smoke…

Tears escaped her lashes, seeping from her closed eyes and rolling down her cheeks as her emotions intensified with the torrent of memories. The day that Angel had given back flooded through her mind and she sobbed.

She had known about that day since her return from heaven. She understood, after having played it through her mind dozens of times in heaven and after, why he had given up their chance to be together. If their roles had been reversed, she would have done the same for him. She would have given anything to ensure his safety, even her own life, of that she had no doubt.

At the first sight of her tears, Angel gathered her in his arms. He forced aside the panic that he was feeling and calmly stroked her back, kissing her hair, her forehead and her temple lightly as he whispered love words against her skin.

“I’m sorry Buffy. I didn’t- I shouldn’t-” Angel murmured softly, his fingertips tracing her jaw as he sought to apologize for biting her, for marking her again. Next to the stillness of his chest Buffy’s heart raced with alarming speed, forcing him to realize that he needed to curtail the race of emotions that she was feeling before it was too late. He needed not only to reassure her of his love, his commitment, he needed to convince her of his absolute sincerity.

“Buffy, I was wrong. I should have never left you.” He held her to him, ruthlessly pushing aside the fear curling in the pit of his stomach as she shook with the force of her rioting emotions. “I was a coward. Every day I ached for you, wanting you more and more. Every night I went mad, being near you but never close enough. I wanted everything, your scent, your sighs, your tears and laughter. I wanted to share everything with you. I love you. More than you know. I was so afraid I’d give in…afraid that in a moment of weakness I’d surrender it all, my soul, for the chance to touch you, to be with you again. And you deserved so much more than a monster that had to be afraid to touch you, afraid to be too happy with you. I didn’t want my limitations to be your limitations. You deserve so much more. You deserve everything. You deserve better than me. And instead of telling you all this, I ran away. I ran away when I should have been holding on to you tighter. Forgive me. I was an idiot, but never again. I’ll never leave you again. Never. I promise.”

He rocked her gently as her tears warmed his chest. “You’re my everything, Buffy. You are my warmth and light. You make me want to be a better man and when I’m with you, I am a better man than I ever dreamt of being. You are the person that guides me out of the darkness. I’m so sorry that I ever hurt you.” He spoke quietly, pleadingly, all the while his mind sorted through the possibilities of the spell’s ramifications. He was also angry and disappointed with himself for his lack of control. “Now that you let me back into your life, I’m not going away. I’m keeping you with me always, love. Just try and get rid of me this time.”

She sniffed slightly, his words penetrating the rush of memories as his hands continued their soothing motions along the bare skin of her back.

“Really?” Her voice trembled slightly when she spoke, her mind struggling to make sense of the sudden barrage of feelings. Absently, she lifted her hand and stroked at the wound on her neck. Beneath the now healing bite she could feel the ridge of the scar that she hadn’t seen for almost 4 years. The spell! The spell had broken, which was causing all of her formerly frozen and tucked away feelings to resurface.

“Yes, sweetheart.” Angel reached under her chin, tilting her head up to look at her face. “Buffy, sweetheart, look at me.”

“No.” The small sound escaped her as she shook her head, attempting to postpone facing the truth for a while longer. His bite? Had that been what had broken the spell?

“Please.” He gently pressed, lowering his head and brushing her lips with his. “I love you, Buffy. Please. Look at me.”

With a cold chill racing down his spine he wondered, looking down into her tightly closed eyes, if he was making any headway at all. Thrusting away the unthinkable, he racked his brain for what else he could say, what else he could do to convince her of his sincerity.

Feeling his tension, the clenching of his muscles as he lay next to her, Buffy slowly opened her eyes, the hazel green touched with the pain of remembrance as she searched his face.

“I love you.” Angel whispered almost desperately, his dark eyes filled with a wealth of emotion. He wanted to cry himself at the sadness in her eyes, the tears glistening along her lashes. “Please, Buffy, give me a chance to prove it to you. I promise I won’t fail you again.”

“I don’t know, Angel.” She turned her face away from him, miserable and desperate and afraid. Could she believe him now? After so many years and so many broken promises?

“I don’t deserve your trust, Buffy, I know that. With the best of intentions – and no little stupidity – I’ve made mistakes that have hurt you, but I promise you, things will be different this time.” He said with absolute conviction in his voice. “You are my everything. Please, let me love you. Love me again.”

After almost five seconds of silence, Buffy turned her head back to face him, her green eyes large in the paleness of her face, shadowed with unhappiness and a wariness that he had seen all too often. She looked very young then, and felt so very small, her shoulders easily covered with his hands. He resisted the urge to crush her against him as he waited apprehensively for her answer.

Buffy thought about the time she had spent in the last few weeks with him; the friendly and increasingly intimate phone calls, the dozens of flowers, the incredible sex. His presence in her life was different, this time, or so it appeared. *He* was different. He was no longer afraid to touch her, to kiss her as he had been after his return from hell. He smiled at her, teased her and he had grieved with her over the loss of their child. All things she had always wanted from him but had never dared hope that she would have.

“Come to LA with me and I’ll prove it to you,” Angel broke into the thoughts, smiling slightly, a rare teasing smile. “You can show me your slaying skills and I can show you off.”

Her mind filled with confusion, Buffy dropped her eyes uncertainly and stared at the broad expanse of his chest. She felt as if she was preparing to walk into battle again, unarmed, unclothed. What wounds she received this time she was not sure would heal. With the help of magic she had come to terms with the fact that he was never going to be a part of her life. Dare she believe that had changed? Could she have a future with him as he insisted?

“What makes you think I want to go to LA?” Buffy’s voice was small as she struggled with the surging waves of long frozen emotions. Her mind suddenly seized on a reason to go to LA. Nikkos. If nothing else, in LA she could seek out the proprietor of the magic shop and find out just what the hell happened here, tonight. If necessary, perhaps he could even cast the magic spell again. Absently her fingers traced a pattern on Angel’s chest as she pondered the change that her life had just taken.

“Consider it a long overdue vacation. Fred and Gunn would like to meet you.” He waited, tense with tremulous hope as Buffy contemplated her answer along with the intricate pattern she was drawing on his skin with her fingertips.

“You did say you’d come and back me up on patrol.” He prompted lightly.

“Angel, I’m afraid.” Buffy replied candidly after a long moment, peeking up at his face from under her lashes. She wasn’t talking about demons or slaying and they both knew it.

“I know, love.” Angel murmured softly, kissing her temple. She needed his confidence right now, his absolute reassurances of his love, of their future together. He couldn’t admit that he was afraid. In fact, he was petrified. Once again he berated himself for his carelessness, his lack of control. He didn’t know how fragile she was, what things might break her heart. They were standing on a precipice; but he knew he couldn’t lose her. He wouldn’t lose her.

“Things aren’t always going to be perfect, Buffy. I won’t lie to you.” Angel caught her hand and lifted it to his lips, “But I make a vow to you, on everything that I hold dear, that I will not let you down again. You own my heart, sweet. I love you.”

Buffy searched his face for a moment, trying to tell if the words were simply empty promises made as a courtesy at this moment or if he really meant them. The stoic façade he often wore was gone, his face stripped bare revealing undisguised emotion. In her chest, her heart beat a wild tattoo.

She had loved him from almost the first moment that she had seen him; that hadn’t changed with the passage of time or the distance between them. The spell had locked the feelings away for a while, but now, without the protection of magic, the reawakened feelings filled every fiber of her being with an intensity that threatened to take her breath away.

“Okay, Angel. I’ll give this a try.” Buffy replied on a soft exhalation of breath, feeling a sense of relief, a burgeoning sense of joy, a tremulous uncertainty and a quavering fear all rolled up into one package. She was so comfortable in his arms. How easy it would be to get used to this, to wake up beside him every day, to have him in her life again. Dare she believe that they would finally be allowed to have a life together?

Gathering her close, Angel kissed her, a smiling kiss that tasted of love, of wonder, and of hope. The future seeped into his thoughts like golden sunshine, covering every corner of his mind with blissful visions of love.

Angel rolled over with fluid grace, drawing Buffy to lie atop him as the kiss slowly turned from warm sunshine to the heated flames of desire and the low burn of need. He showed her then with actions what he had professed earlier in words.

They made love with extravagant tenderness, each lingering kiss melting into the next, each touch rare, sweet and precious. Over the next few hours they explored the nuances of sensation with quiet desperation, both too aware that they were finally, blissfully together again.

The drive to LA in the early hours of the morning was peaceful and silent, lit with such a nearly perfect magical moonlight that Angel teased Buffy that he had ordered it just so for her. Buffy was, in turn, agreeably affectionate, sliding across the wide seat of the GTX to curl next to him. He draped his arm around her shoulder while she rested her hand on his thigh.

They chatted in easy friendship about various topics of interest, Angel careful to stay clear of any mention of baby Liam or of Giles’s ill health until he felt more reassured about Buffy’s well-being.

When Angel finally stopped the car in front of a beautifully restored three-story craftsman style house just two blocks from the beach, Buffy looked at him curiously.

“This doesn’t look like the monstrosity of a hotel that you said you lived in. This looks… actually cute.” She questioned as Angel opened the door and got out of the car.

Shrugging slightly, Angel walked around the car to open Buffy’s door. He retrieved her bag from the trunk, then reached for her hand and led her through the small, gated courtyard that was landscaped as a peaceful Japanese style garden complete with a fountain.

She took in the surroundings with a bemused smile, before glancing back at Angel’s face. He seemed to be searching for words.

“I… that is Angelus…” He began awkwardly, unlocking the door. He took an unnecessary breath and looked down at her. Seized with a sudden impulse, he swung her up and settled her comfortably in his arms then kissed her, a gentle welcoming kiss as he kicked open the door.

“Hey, I remember you,” Buffy murmured softly, her green eyes sparkling with joy at his romantic gesture. “And what’s this about Angelus?”

“I hope so.” Angel replied, kissed her nose lightly as he set her on her feet and closed the door behind him. “Angelus bought this place… for you… a few years back.”

“A few years back?”

“Yes.” He shifted on his feet, embarrassed about the disclosure but determined to be honest with her.

Through the colored window glass, the nearby streetlight partially illuminated the room with a jewel-like iridescence, providing glimpses of the rich honey color wood flooring and the plush, partly covered deep sage green sofa. The room was sparsely furnished and dusty from lack of use, but she could easily tell that it was both tasteful and cozy. No doubt, knowing Angel or even Angelus’ taste, the furnishings were also likely expensive.

“This would be when you lost your soul with Cordy?” Buffy asked, walking forward and glancing into the kitchen before moving up the stairs. She remembered what Willow had told her about restoring Angel’s soul after it had been taken from him.

“Yes. No. Not exactly.” The tall vampire grimaced, his own memories of that time clouded, as they were those of his demon.

“Oh.” Buffy glanced at Angel over her shoulder briefly as she turned into the bedroom. She was curious about what had happened then, but they had time for that conversation later. “Why for me?”

“He was planning on getting you back.”

Still following behind her, Angel stopped just over the threshold of the bedroom door. Buffy continued into the room and stopped before the large tester bed that almost filled the small space. The tall, dark wood posts were ornate and intricately carved, as was the headboard. The new mattress, lush and thick, was covered with a single white protective sheet.

“Really?” Buffy questioned as she walked to the head of the bed and tugged aside the burgundy silk bed curtains that hung just behind the headboard to reveal heavy gauge iron chain rings that had been securely mounted on the wall.

Quirking one eyebrow upward, she looked back at Angel. “Nice. Oh, and look. There are a couple there on the ceiling as well… isn’t that interesting?” Her voice was amused as her gaze swept over him suggestively. “Who’s your decorator? Maybe I can have them give me a few suggestions for my place.”

He gazed at her for a long moment, perceptive of the subtle changes in her body as her desire surprisingly began to stir. Her pulse beat picked up slightly, her body temperature moving up a degree. He clamped down hard on his demon, as Angelus practically howled with lust inside him at the signs of Buffy’s interest.

“For those?” His voice was low, husky when he answered her, his eyes flicking to the objects in question for a brief second before returning to hers. “My demon.”

Buffy laughed and the sound touched him from across the room, as if he were attuned to the slightest nuance of her moods.

His dark eyes on her warmed her, heated her blood and filled her with a wild, reckless abandon. None of the lovers that she had taken in the past had been interested in sexual games. Riley had been too conservative; Spike had suggested it but she had never been interested. Perhaps, she thought, because she had never really trusted him.

“Not everyone gets to pass the buck of responsibility like that.” She teasingly replied, watching as Angel calmly set her bag in the nearby chair and began to move toward her like a great, dark panther.

“I’ll give him credit only for the bed and for those.” Angel stopped and pulled the covering off an antique full-length mirror that stood in the corner of the room, next to a bureau of the same design. “The mirror and the drawers, I bought. I wanted the place to be girl friendly. Buffy friendly.”

Her tears appeared with such suddenness that Angel moved quickly to sweep her into his arms, a flash of panic exploding in his brain. What had he done?

“Buffy, I’m sorry. If you don’t like them-”

“No. Angel. No.” Buffy slid her hands up his arms, her fingers squeezing his biceps, her mossy green eyes inches away from his. He remembered! He remembered that she had asked for a mirror and a drawer. She smiled through her tears, wiping at her eyes with one hand. “I love them. I do. I just didn’t think that you would have remembered…” She trailed off with a whisper. That small gesture touched her heart deeply.

“I remember everything about you, love.” Smiling down into her face, a sense of relief flooding through him he hugged her close.

“Everything?” Buffy murmured, sliding her hands up his arms to his shoulders before looping them around his neck.

“Everything.” He whispered against her ear while slowly backing her toward the bed. “But I’m always willing to learn something new…”

With a quick flick of his wrist, the dusty sheet that had been covering the mattress drifted to the floor.

“Mmm…” Buffy nuzzled his cheek as a shiver of anticipation, of need ran through her. Being with Angel, feeling his strength, his power under her fingertips was like an aphrodisiac. She knew that he had business to take care of in LA, he had mentioned it as the reason why he needed to return, but just then she wondered if she was going to be able to let him out of her sight, much less out of their bed. Particularly with lascivious thoughts of him naked and chained to the bed dancing through her mind.

“You always said we should have tried chains…” She purred suggestively, tracing his ear with one fingertip as her tongue ran across her lips to moisten them. Her next mental picture was of her, at his mercy in the large bed while he tortured her with wicked, unimagined delights.

“Later.” His voice was tight with constraint even as his hands roved over her denim-clad hips. He felt like an untried youth, his erection pulsing painfully from her few brief words. He was suddenly dangerously out of control wanting her, the earlier wildness flaring through his senses as visions of Buffy naked and tied to his bed roared through his mind.

“Promise?” Buffy teased, pushing his coat down his arms, her eyes burning into his. He shrugged out of it and tossed it aside.

“Yes.” Angel growled softly in reply as his demon began to offer his own lewd suggestions. His hands cupped her behind, hauling her against his fiercely aroused body as his lips descended on hers.

Buffy’s hands ran over his back and down his hips to squeeze his behind before one hand slipped between them to cup his arousal in her hand possessively.

Having her here, in the very room that Angelus had entertained his many wicked fantasies for his mate combined with the feel of her small hands on his body was spurring his lust for her to dangerous heights. His ravenous need for her was almost unprecedented in his existence, so nearly uncontrollable and so brutally powerful that he could feel it clamoring through his body with delicious insistence.

“I don’t know if I can be gentle,” he warned, breaking off their kiss and tugging Buffy’s shirt over her head and removing her bra with nimble fingers.

“I know I can’t.” Buffy replied, ripping the last button on his shirt in her haste to get it off of him. She pressed open-mouthed kisses to his chest, alternating with bites and delighting in the low vibration of his purring growl beneath her lips. Her hand worked at his belt as her mind screamed to hurry, wanting him now with a relentless, demanding fury.

“Take your pants off.” Angel ordered, his voice low and fierce as he pushed her hand aside to remove his belt.

Buffy eagerly tugged at the buttons on her pants, stripping them down her hips along with the frothy lace of her panties. When she was assured of Angel’s attention, she hopped up on the bed behind her and lay back with exaggerated slowness. Bending first one leg then the other, she propped her feet on the bed. Her gaze trained on his face, she slowly parted her thighs.

“Don’t move.” He instructed in a husky deep voice, his eyes moving over her possessively in the dim light of the room, drinking in her beauty easily with his preternatural eyesight.

“Then hurry.” Her eyes trained on her vampire lover, her hand drifted between her legs to brush across the wet lips of her labia before seeking the swollen, pulsing nub hidden in the pink folds. She rubbed gently on the pulse point of desire, a small whimper escaping her lips.

It was too much for him in his currently aroused state. In a blur of movement he unzipped his pants and shoved them down his hips. He crawled over her on the bed, lifted her hips in his large hands and thrust inside her with such force that it left Buffy breathless for a long moment.

When she did move, she took him by surprise, twisting her hips and flipping him over, moving quickly to straddle his hips and reseat herself on his erection.

Angel closed his eyes briefly as he slid back into her hot welcoming body, insensate to anything except his love, his mate, his wife as she lowered herself on his rigid length, surrounding him with wet heat.

She released a small rapturous sob as she sank down on him to the hilt, the sound echoing Angel’s own fevered longing as her thighs brushed his hips. He filled her so fully, so completely she felt absolutely consumed by him, and he by her.

Buffy moved with increasingly frantic motions, arching her back and dropping her head back as orgasmic sensation was fast overtaking her.

Watching her with half-closed eyes, he reached up and lightly cupped her breasts in his hands, feeling them bounced against his palms as she panted heavily and rode him hard. Reaching between her legs, he found the swollen nub of her clitoris and pinched it delicately between his fingers as she gasped and ground down on him.

Buffy melted around him on the next powerful down thrust, her tight channel clenching around him and coating him with the liquid evidence of her desire. She wanted him with a deep, insatiable craving.

Angel could feel the convulsing spasms of her climax and he gritted his teeth, moving his hands to grasp the firm swell of her bottom and guide her movements, forcing her to resume her rhythm. He pushed her higher, harder bracing his feet and surging upward to meet her.

One of her small hands curled against his chest, her nails digging in slightly to the muscle on his chest just above his nipple as her breath hitched and a second climax began to build inside her. When he recognized the erratic breathing of her impending orgasm, he rolled her beneath him with one quick movement.

“Noo…” Buffy moaned softly and clutched at him when he pulled back, his withdrawal stroking every inch of her sensitized tissue until only the tip of his erection remained inside her. She pulled him back fiercely when he drove into her again, this time pushing them both across the bed. He lapped at the almost healed wound on her neck with his tongue, his eyes flashing gold as he struggled to keep the demon in check.

Inflamed, overwrought, she abruptly bit his neck.

With a snarl, his features morphing into his demon visage, Angel sank his fangs into her earlier wound, the warmth of her blood filling his mouth. Putting his full force into his next thrust, he rammed upward sliding them across the bed again as Buffy’s legs wrapped around his waist.

Buffy tasted his blood in her mouth and cried out in fevered appeal, wanting more, wanting him, wanting the delicious glory that could be found in his arms.

They mated brutally, excessively, and savagely; their preternatural natures unleashed and out of control.

When her second orgasm erupted, he poured his release into her unprotected body with reckless abandon.

They both lay prostrate on the bed for some time after, Angel’s face buried in Buffy’s hair near her shoulder, Buffy smothered under the braced weight of Angel’s large form, until gradually the vibrations of pleasure receded.

“We’re gonna have to dust.” Buffy wrinkled her nose, noting the dust motes hanging in the air near the tiny sliver of sunlight that peeked in through the part in the heavy velvet curtains that covered the window. “And get some sheets for the bed.”

“Yeah.” Angel replied, his voice muffled by her hair.

“And we need food.” Buffy added, her hand absently rubbing his back as he began to purr against her. She smiled.

A long moment later he lifted his head and smiled down at her. “I think I have sheets, some where. But we’ll have to go out for food.” He brushed a gentle kiss against her lips. “Or rather, order in for food.”

“Mmm… yes.” Buffy kissed him then, a sweet teasing kiss that prompted Angel to kiss her again, thoroughly, completely and with considerable attention to detail.

Food, cleaning and any other needs were forgotten for several more hours as they explored the earthly pleasures of the bond that held them together.