Secrets & Lies, Part XIII

Author’s Notes: Future-ish fic. Whistler searches for Angel, Angel checks in with the rest of the AI team, Cordelia goes to see Nikkos, Buffy goes shopping, & a bunch more smutty stuff happens…Curiously enough (so much so that it’s worth noting here) there actually is an “Angelus Funeral Home” in Los Angeles, but I choose not to use this one since it was a little *too* coincidental. Think Angel wouldn’t have opened an envelope of *that* name had he come across it while snooping through Buffy’s things? Exactly.

So, coincidentally I wrote some of the dialog for this prior to any BtVS previews for the coming episode – and found it rather freaky when I came across it to actually flesh out that scene. I think I may have channeled an ME writer for like two seconds there at some point. *g*

Thanks to everyone for reading, for the wonderful feedback and again for your patience. Special thanks to Alessandra, Rehatha, Trammie, Tango, Peygaan, Susan, Meghan, Maquis, and LJ for the added words of encouragement. *smooch*

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: May 12, 2003

His footsteps echoing on the tile floor, Whistler crossed the wide expanse of the hotel lobby and headed for the stairs. There were no lights on, no sounds, no signs of activity anywhere within the Hyperion nor had there been for the last two days.

Picking the lock with a nimble adeptness that belied his often inept and bungling appearance, Whistler let himself into Angel’s suite of rooms. As he closed the door behind him, he wondered for a few brief seconds when the vampire had become so particular about his privacy. For as long as he had known him and despite the expensive furnishings and art that he had acquired over the years, Angel rarely locked his doors – or so Whistler had thought – until now.

Strolling through the utter stillness, Whistler saw nothing that would give away the vampire’s whereabouts. Sighing, he returned to the living room and opened the cabinet where Angel kept a few bottles of liquor stashed. With a murmur of appreciation, the small demon sniffed the half-empty decanter of Scotch before pouring a healthy draught. Nothing like the Irish to keep good whiskey around, he thought with a twinkle of a smile, lifting his glass in toast before drinking the amber contents in one quick swallow.  He refilled his glass and ambled over to the sofa, collapsing onto it with a heavy thud.

The things that he had discovered since his return from Saggaria disturbed him more than just a little, beginning with Doyle’s death. That bit of news had been a shock and a disappointment. He grieved for his fallen friend with resigned acceptance; death of those he cared about was a much too often occurrence in this world and especially in this particular line of work.

Whistler exhaled slowly, shaking his head as he took a sip of his drink, savoring the taste of the strong liquor this time. Doyle’s misguided choice of Cordelia as his successor might possibly have been the worst choice that the demon could have made.

Shaking his head ruefully, Whistler thought about his friend. There was no doubt that Doyle had always been easily influenced by a pretty face. In fact, his easy susceptibility and weakness for beautiful women had been a bit of a joke between the two of them for years. That combined with the fact that the Irish demon tended to look for the best in people, always optimistic that with a little patience and encouragement you could help anyone find the good and noble path had surely been the reason for his misguided choice. But Doyle hadn’t been a complete fool; eventually he knew his friend would have seen the narcissistic, vicious and shrewd woman that lay beneath the beautiful façade. Sadly, he hadn’t had the time.

Rubbing a hand over his eyes Whistler thought about the months and years that had passed while he had been gone. He finished his drink and stood, ambling to the small kitchenette and setting the glass in the sink. No sense waiting around here all day. If and when Angel returned to the Hyperion, it wouldn’t be until nightfall. In the meantime, Whistler thought, he could do a little more research on just what had been going on.  As he closed the door quietly behind him, he couldn’t help the tremor of fear that passed through him at the thought that he was back just a little too late to make things right.

“Be careful.” Angel bent and kissed Buffy’s lips gently as she stopped just inside the front door. She tucked the credit card that he insisted she take in her purse along with the grocery list that he had written down for her.

“It’s just shopping, honey. Not slaying.” Buffy’s voice was teasing as she turned to face him, leaning back against the heavy oak door with both hands behind her back. Her smile at him was impish. “Although, I honestly can’t say that I haven’t been tempted to slay at Nordstrom’s half yearly sales. Those can be vicious.”

At the look on his face, she laughed slightly and kissed him. “I’m kidding. It’s not like I’m going to run into anything demony. And even if I do, see,”  reaching in her bag she retrieved a stake, something she always carried with her, “prepared.”

“I know. I just … I worry.” Moving forward, he pressed her back against the door as he brushed another kiss on her cheek before sliding his lips to her neck.

“I promise I’ve shopped safely many times before.” She arched her neck giving him better access to the smooth skin of her throat as goose bumps formed on her arms. Her palms flat on his chest, she ran her hands up slowly to the rounded caps of his shoulders.

“And with a lot less incentive to come home.” Her voice was soft against his ear, quavering slightly with the intensity of her emotions. Their recent hours together lingered in her mind, saturating her senses with him and filling her with a quiet joy.

Angel lifted his head, his face serious as he looked down at her. He touched her face gently with his fingers, tracing her jaw line, her cheek, her lips. He could no longer imagine his life without her in it. His need for her both excited him and terrified him in equal measure.

His eyes drifted closed as he bent his head to kiss her. At the first velvety, brushing contact of their lips they both sighed softly and melted together. Buffy twined her arms around his neck and she molded herself against his hard, muscled body in flagrant invitation even as he pressed her back against the door.

After a long moment, Angel reluctantly lifted his head and let Buffy catch her breath.

“I should go.” Buffy murmured softly, without conviction, her gaze drifting over Angel’s face before stopping again on his lips. She hadn’t moved, her body still tightly pressed against his. He was so beautiful, she thought, his hair still rumpled from sleep and from her fingers running through it. He stood there in front of her barefoot and shirtless, looking down at her with dark eyes so sensual and compelling that she felt a frisson of heat spike through her veins.

“You should go.” He replied, sighing softly, his forehead resting against hers. How were they ever going to manage their lives when they couldn’t even stand to be apart for a few hours?  “The sooner you go, the sooner you’ll be back.”

“This is me. I’m going.” Buffy inhaled deeply and leaned back from him, her own thoughts an echo of his. A tiny shiver of fear crept along her spine at the thought of ever losing him again, but she pushed it away, unwilling to consider the possibility while held safely in his arms. As if to justify to herself and to him why she needed to go, she added, “We *have* to have food.” Her voice trailing off with a sigh. She’d much rather prolong the insulated, sequestered pleasure of their new life and their rediscovered love.

Forcing himself to take a step back, Angel smiled at her as he recalled her stomach rumbling in hunger under his ear just a few hours earlier. “Yes, we do.”

He bent to kiss her again, the touch of his lips delicate and restrained this time.

Buffy’s eyes twinkled with mischief as she turned the knob on the door, “I’ll bring you a surprise.”

“Just bring you – and my car – back safely.” He touched the tip of her nose with his finger.

“I knew it! You’re just worried about your big beastie of a car.” She teased as she opened the door. Blowing him a kiss she stepped out to the covered porch.

“Remember that scratch on the hood? That was already there,” Buffy called out behind her as she walked through the gated courtyard, “and so was the dent in the fender.”

“Just be careful, love.”

Angel watched from the shadows just inside the doorway, his eyes fixed on the gentle swing of her hips as she strolled down the walk. Just outside the gate, she turned to face him again, smiling brightly and blowing him another kiss before climbing into the car and roaring away from the curb.  A small sound, almost a whimper, escaped his lips as the tires hit the curb squarely when she made a right turn at the corner.  He mentally pleaded with anyone that would listen that both Buffy and his car make it back in one piece.

Sighing heavily, Angel said another small prayer for her safety and closed the door. Trooping back up the stairs, he retrieved his cell phone from his pocket and sat on the bed, now made with the sheets and blankets that he had found in the linen closet only a few hours ago.

The first order of business was to get the house cleaned.  He dialed information and asked for the number of a cleaning service.

Connor jogged back into the parking lot of the hotel where he had been staying with Gunn, Fred and Amelia since Angel had sent them all away from the Hyperion.  He slowed to a walk when he reached the stairs, but took them two at a time until he reached the third floor corner where their rooms were.

Gunn allowed him to get out every day for a few hours of exercise, knowing that the waiting and inactivity was making them all tense and edgy.  Thankfully, Connor thought as he stopped at the vending machine for a soda, Gunn underestimated how far and how fast he could really move, otherwise he might have second thoughts about the time he allotted him to be out alone.

Wiping the sweat from his eyes, Connor knocked on Gunn and Fred’s door, shouting a greeting that he was back as was required as part of the deal that he get to go for a run on his own. He continued down the walkway, reaching in his pocket for the card key to his room.

He was curious about the demon that he’d seen leaving his father’s rooms at the hotel today, particularly since he had known that Angel had locked his door when he had left. On inspection, nothing obvious had been taken. Nothing, that is, other than some of Angel’s expensive Scotch. He’d followed the man down the street until he had entered a cheap hotel just a few blocks down from the Hyperion. He made a mental note of the address, then turned and raced back to the Four Seasons before he was missed.

His father would probably be upset to know that he’d been back to the Hyperion several times and that he had been searching for Cordelia on his own.  Not that he harbored any illusions that she cared for him, not any longer.  He was angry and embarrassed that he had been so easily manipulated, and he was more than a little hurt that something that had meant so much to him – their relationship – apparently meant nothing to her. And now, quite simply, he didn’t trust her.

Of all of them at Angel Investigations, Connor perhaps knew Cordelia best. She had shown him a side of herself that he knew that the others had never suspected had lain beneath the saintly façade she had managed to create.  He knew, without a doubt, that she could be single-minded, determined, and dangerous.

None of which he suspected boded well for his father.

Satisfied that the amount of money promised for immediacy and expediency would ensure that the cleaning crew would arrive within the hour, Angel dialed Gunn’s cell number.

“Angel? That you?” Gunn answered on the second ring, his voice touched with frustration and no small amount of worry.  It had been three days since he, Fred, Amelia and Connor had checked into the Four Seasons hotel, waiting for any word from Angel and had heard nothing. Angel’s cell phone had gone unanswered, the messages left for him unreturned. Gunn had begun to fear that perhaps the vampire had met his final fate. “Where the hell have you been? We thought you were dead.”

“Yeah? Well, that hasn’t changed.”  Angel’s brow quirked upward slightly and he shifted the phone to the other ear, opening the various drawers of the bureau and the closet door in the bedroom, reacquainting himself with the contents of the house.  In his search, he found a few articles of clothing that Angelus had left in the house: a black Japanese silk brocade robe, two pairs of pajama bottoms, several silk shirts, and three pairs of leather pants. He held the leather pants out in front of him and grimaced slightly. He needed a change of clothing, but this wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.  It’s an improvement from your typical attire, should you ask me. His demon sniffed somewhat indignantly. Besides, Buffy loves them.

“You know what I meant.” Gunn grumbled irritably, although he was relieved to finally hear his friend’s voice.

“I’ve had a few things to take care of.” Angel replied distractedly, answering his demon with the next thought. I guess we’ll just have to see, won’t we?

“Cordelia? Did you find her? Is she-” Gunn asked, stopping abruptly as his eyes met his wife’s as she walked over to look at him anxiously, the mention of Angel’s name having drawn her interest. Still staring up at him with wide eyes, she rocked Amelia gently and sat next to her husband on the bed.

“Not exactly.” Angel reluctantly answered, increasingly convinced that he hadn’t handled the situation with his seer as he should have. That’s an understatement. Had you snapped her neck as I suggested, this would not even be a consideration now, the demon muttered in a mocking voice.

“What do you mean, not exactly?  Angel, talk to me man. We’ve been sitting on our asses here for three days.” Scowling churlishly, Gunn stood and paced across the room. His voice dropped to an angry whisper. “I moved my wife and baby out of our home, I’m keeping an eye on your son and you’re not even keeping me in the loop here. Now tell me what the hell is going on.”  The last sentence came out in an explosive burst of impatient anger.

Chagrined that he had all but forgotten his friends in the calamitous events of the last few days, Angel began somewhat apologetically, “Sorry. I know it’s been hard for you guys as well. Some things came up that were. unexpected. How’s Connor holding up?”

The demon within him snorted, but said nothing. Why are you stirring anyway? You’ve been quiet for days. Angel mentally questioned even as he attempted to shift his attention back to Gunn.

Like you could have heard me anyway over your grunts or the Slayer’s delightful little screams? Angelus muttered, his tone undeniably jealous.

“Hey – he’s fine. We’re all fine. Things could be worse than hanging out here,” Gunn looked through the curtain at the perfectly manicured gardens and sparkling blue pool below. “but I need to know what you’re doing. I need to know that my family will be safe.”

“Nothing will happen to any of you if I can help it.” Angel declared firmly, “Just stay out of sight until I find Cordelia and deal with her.”  And kill her. Don’t forget that part. Oh, wait? Are they too fragile to hear the truth?

“You know what you’re going to do with her?” Gunn asked quietly, careful to not alarm Fred or wake the now sleeping baby.

Well, how about we take her to a nice dinner, followed by a movie and a quick fuck, then we can see if she wants to get back together. Shit. What a dumb ass. What the hell does he think?

“Whatever I have to do to make sure she doesn’t hurt anyone else.” His answer was underscored with lethal softness, sure and unequivocal. ‘Bout time, but let’s back those words up with action this time soul boy, shall we? The demon continued his running commentary, despite the fact that Angel was ignoring him.

“You need any help?”

“No, no thanks. This is my problem.” Angel took a deep breath of unneeded air as he descended the stairs and turned into the kitchen. His own complacency had led him into this situation, now he needed to get himself out of it, along with his family and friends that he had unwittingly drawn into it with him. “I’ll take care of it. Just stay there for a few more days. I’m back in LA now so you should be able to reach me if you need anything.”

“Back? You go somewhere?” Gunn questioned almost hesitantly. He was suddenly struck with the thought that perhaps Cordelia’s actions had an additional impetus, maybe as those of a woman scorned. “Like say, Sunnydale?”

Angel’s reply was only a muffled noise as he answered a knock on the door. Gunn couldn’t hear quite what he was saying, as the vampire was apparently holding his hand over the phone, but he could hear the voice of what was obviously a woman laughingly reply to him.

“Sorry.” Angel came back on the phone.

“Are you with Buffy, man?” Gunn inquired with anxiety in his voice. “Because I’m not at all sure that’s such a good idea. The last thing we need is Angelus in the mix now.”

“There’s nothing for you to worry about. My soul is bound.” Yes, we tested that quite thoroughly. Angelus replied petulantly, although I’m still hoping something will knock it loose here again. Under his breath, Angel muttered. “Just another thing Cordelia knew and didn’t tell me.”

Gunn considered Angel’s answer along with the trace of guardedness evident in the vampire’s voice for a moment before he spoke. “Okay, man. If you’re sure.”

“I am.” Angel flatly replied, watching as the four women who had come to clean the house bustled off in various directions.

“Still, if you need any help-”

“Thanks. I appreciate that but I’ll deal with it.” His voice was soft, his decision made days before, hours before. “Hey, can I talk to Fred?”

“Sure. Hold on.”

Angel waited until Fred’s voice sounded on the phone. He asked about her and Amelia with controlled impatience before shifting the conversation to the topic at the forefront of his mind.

“Fred, I need a favor. Would you see what records you can find for a Buffy Summers in one of the local hospitals? Try Good Samaritan off of 7th.  I need to see what records they have for her and for her baby.”  Angel paused, feeling a wave of sadness wash over him with the reminder of their loss. “The baby’s name is- was … Liam Angelus Summers.”

He wanted to know as much as he could about his son, but he couldn’t put Buffy through that conversation again. It had given her nightmares and it had made her physically sick. No, he couldn’t do that to her again. Not yet, maybe not ever.

“And anything from a…” Pausing, Angel searched his mind for the name of the funeral home that he had seen that night when searching through Buffy’s things. “Cunningham and O’Connor Mortuary for the baby. This would have been sometime in June of ’99.”

The young mother’s heart wrenched at the thought of a baby’s death. Even without knowing the baby’s mother, death of the young and innocent always seemed to be more grievously wrong somehow.  Of course she had heard Buffy’s name before and knew that she was Angel’s ex, but she had no idea that the young girl had ever had a baby much less lost one. And a baby she had named ‘Angelus’…

Fred made a few notes on the desk pad and told Angel that she would get back to him as soon as she found anything out. Luckily she had brought a laptop from the Hyperion so she could start with some online research almost immediately.

“Angel.” She was both avidly curious about his interest in the baby and deeply sympathetic for Buffy. What a terrible thing for her to have suffered.

“Thank you.” Angel interrupted before she could ask any questions. He told her everything that he intended to; anything more would have to wait until he had the time to come to terms with his son’s death himself.

Sensing that the topic was closed, Fred changed the subject. “Where are you staying, Angel?  Do you want me to get you a room here at the Four Seasons with us?”

“The Four Seasons?” Angel’s eyebrows shot up in surprise as he moved out of the way of the cleaning lady that bustled by him in the kitchen. The young woman smiled brightly at him and began the arduous task of removing the dishes from the cabinet so that they could all be freshly scrubbed as requested.

He grimaced at the mention of the hotel, anticipating yet another steep bill to pay. “Could you have found some where more expensive?”

“Well, Cordelia always said that this was one of the better places and that…” Fred glanced at Gunn, trailing off sheepishly as she realized that the cost had never even occurred to her.

“Never mind, Fred. It’s fine.” Angel replied exasperatedly, mentally noting that he’d have to have a talk with the AI team about expenses from here on out. They had run fast and loose with money for much too long, thanks to Cordelia’s influence.

“Thanks again for your help. I’ll see you guys in a day or two.” Angel snapped off the phone and nodded once more at the girl who was watching him and smiling. He was unaware of the interest that he was generating in the young maid, standing there shirtless and barefoot.

He checked the time on the kitchen clock before walking back into the living room, searching for a small corner out of the way now that the house with buzzing with activity, the house cleaners busily at work.

Next he dialed Nikkos’s number.

Buffy eased the black Plymouth over to the right and angled into the open space. She thanked her lucky stars for not only finding a parking spot on the congested street just a few blocks down from Magos Exousia, but an end space at that which gave her plenty of extra room to attempt to park the unfamiliar car.

She had worried enough at the thought of trying to parallel park Angel’s boat of a car in the busy west LA neighborhood with it’s congested streets. As it was, even pulling directly into the space on her first attempt she was still almost a foot and a half away from the curb.

Putting the car in reverse, she began to back up to move the car further into the somewhat narrow parking spot. A car behind her honked, startling her, and she slammed on the brakes. Her head swiveled around to look behind her at the driver in the big white SUV. She stared back over her shoulder until the impatient driver roared around her, making an obscene hand gesture and shouting something that Buffy couldn’t quite make out over the roar of the car’s engine. Obviously he had thought to swoop in on her spot, mistaking her movements as exiting the space rather than trying to park.

With a small shrug of her shoulders, she resolutely turned her attention back to the demands of parking the big GTX. With only three more seesaw maneuvers, she managed to get the car reasonably close to the curb.

A pleased smile on her face, Buffy exited the car and started down the street.

Cordelia parked her yellow jeep in the first open space near Magos Exousia, unconcerned about the painted symbol on the asphalt now beneath her tires or the blue handicapped sign that clearly marked the spot. She wasn’t planning on being in the shop long and besides, those spaces were almost always empty.

As she glanced over at the sign to the shop, she knew now why the name Nikkos sounded familiar. She had been to the very same shop several times in the past with Angel and she knew that the vampire had been friends of sorts with the man who ran the shop.

Frowning at the perceived tiny complication, Cordy tilted the rearview mirror and checked her makeup. She smoothed her brows and reapplied her lipstick, contemplating what to say to Nikkos.  Since he knew Angel, then she would likely need some excuse as to why she needed a love spell.

Tilting the mirror back up, her eyes widened at what appeared to be Angel’s car creeping along the street several blocks down. Before she could get a good look at the driver, a delivery van crossed the street and stopped just behind her, blocking the car from view.

Cordelia’s heart raced for a moment before she forced herself to calm. The sun was directly behind her and still above the horizon shining brightly so it couldn’t possibly be Angel. Barring any unusual circumstance that would allow him move around without harm in the sunlight, there was the simple fact that he never let anyone else drive his car, ever, which meant that it couldn’t be Connor or anyone else from AI. Regardless, when she opened her door she cautiously glanced down the street, holding her hand over her eyes to shield them from the late afternoon sun. The car was now parking rather inexpertly into a parallel spot, the driver a small shadowed silhouette.

Nope. That confirmed it. That could not possibly be Angel. Besides the fact that it was daylight and that the driver was much too small to be the tall vampire, Angel drove that car expertly, like it was part of him.

It had to be purely coincidence, the similarity of the car to his. Dismissing the momentary distraction from her mind, the seer grabbed her bag off the seat and headed into the magic shop.

At the sound of the door chime, Nikkos casually looked up from the counter where he had been reviewing the inventory list of a recent order. None of his surprise showed on his face when he recognized the dyed blonde seer as his latest patron.

“Ah, Miss Cordelia Chase.” Nikkos greeted politely, albeit without any warmth in his voice. “What brings you to Magos Exousia today?”

“You know me?” Cordelia ran a hand over her hair, preening as the smile on her face changed from the fake plastered on one that she had been wearing to one of genuine pleasure. This was going to be easier than she had thought if he remembered her. Men tended to go out of their way for her because of her beauty; this one would obviously be no different.

“Of course. I never forget a face.” Nikkos replied blandly, studying the seer closely as if attempting to discern her motives for visiting him or the magic shop this late afternoon.

“Oh.” The dyed blonde batted her eyelashes theatrically, further assured that charming the proprietor of the magic shop was going to be a piece of cake. “We’ve met then?”

“Yes, a few times.” The blue-eyed warlock answered, crossing his arms over his chest.

“I’m so sorry.” Cordy replied flirtatiously, reaching over the counter to touch Nikkos affectionately on the arm. “I just get that a lot, you know, men always saying that they know me or that I’m somehow familiar. It’s such an overused pick up line.”

“Ah.” Nikkos replied, his eyes flitting down to her hand on his arm. It might be overused, he thought with a small smile, but he bet it worked often with the former brunette. Shrugging slightly, he stepped back out of her reach and took the small orb that sat on the counter in his hand. He busied himself with replacing it in the case below.

“You’re Nikkos then, right?” Cordelia inquired brightly, completely missing the smirk on the warlock’s face.

“That’s what I’ve been told.” Nikkos nodded, his blue eyes once more returning to her face. Although he had once thought her beautiful, under further consideration he revised his opinion. She was artificial and insincere. Her demonic countenance was too obvious to someone familiar with such things, or so he thought, noting the complete absence of any warmth in her eyes along with the trace of maliciousness that graced her fake smile.  Her body was curvaceous, but he could see evidence of the overindulgence in sweets and lack of physical activity rapidly changing the muscle tone to fat in the next few years. He slowly shook his head. What Angel had ever seen in her, he could not even begin to understand.

“Listen, I need your help.” She stated earnestly, shifting her stance to lean over the counter with her ankles crossed in what she was sure was a seductive pose. Not to mention, it would give the man a nice view of her cleavage, should he choose to look.

“You do, do you?” Nikkos asked, his tone amused. Did she really think that she could bat her eyelashes and show him her breasts and he’d be falling over himself to help her out?

“Well *I* don’t exactly. It’s. It’s for a friend of mine.” Cordelia spontaneously improvised, seized with an idea.

“A friend?” The warlock’s brows lifted slightly in question.

“Yes, a friend.”  Her tone was more confident as the spontaneous lie began to take shape in her mind. With melodramatic sadness in her voice, she continued, “It’s sad really and I’ve told her time and again that she needs to move on, but she hasn’t. You see, she sees Angel and I together and how happy we are and it just breaks her heart. She wants what we have so very badly.”

“Oh really?” He asked with leisurely indifference, his baby blue eyes bemused as he watched the seer. He could almost see her mind working as she developed her story.

“Yes, you see she’s desperately in love with someone who doesn’t love her. It’s pathetic really, but my heart is just breaking for her; she’s so lonely and so sad. And I want to do something to help her. I need to help her. After all, she is such an old and dear friend.”

At the sound of the door chiming behind her, Cordelia glanced back over her shoulder and cast an irritated look at the intruder.  Nikkos wave a greeting to the young woman, who turned right and disappeared behind the shelves into the store once again leaving them alone.

Turning back to face the warlock, Cordelia continued in a conspiratory whisper,  “So I was told that, well, that if anyone could help me, er- her, that you could.”

“Is that so?” Nikkos impudently questioned, although his cheeky manner completely went over the dyed blonde’s head.

“Yes.”  She said, her voice low as if disclosing a confidence. With a sad and pleading look on her face, she reached out again and touched Nikkos on the arm. “I want to get my friend a love spell.”

“A love spell?” The warlock questioned thoughtfully, his eyes dropping to Cordelia’s hand on his arm.

“Yes.” She beamed happily, pleased with her excuse and growing increasingly certain of its effectiveness in getting her what she wanted. How easy men were to manipulate, she thought with a small smile.

With a small gasp, Cordelia jerked her hand back in stunned surprise as a small but somewhat powerful shock seemed to emanate from the warlock’s body. She stared at him warily, shaking her now stinging hand.

“Well then, love spell books are on the 2nd aisle over.” Dismissing her, Nikkos turned back to the list of items that he had been reviewing when the seer had arrived in the store.

Attempting to hide her growing irritation, Cordelia pressed on insistently. “No, you don’t understand. The spell I- uh, the spell she needs has to be a very powerful love spell. One that would work on a vampire. I don’t want some lame ass smoke and mirrors crap for the tourists or wanna be wiccas.”  Her voice growing higher and louder, she demanded, “I want the real deal. I *need* the real deal.”

Nikkos turned his attention back to the dyed blonde, his eyebrows lifting upward in question as a small sound of revelation escaped him.

“Just hold on there. Before you think this spell is for me.” Cordelia lifted her hand, holding her palm flat to him as she shook her head in negation.

The phone on the counter rang shrilly, interrupting her next words.

“Excuse me for a minute, please.” Nikkos politely stated as he picked up the phone. “Magos Exousia. How may I help you?”

“Ah, hello my friend.” Nikkos greeted the caller warmly, a small playing on his lips as he glanced back at Cordelia.  “Strangely enough, you were just on my mind. I have someone at my counter right now so can I put you on hold? The wait will be worth it, I assure you.”

Nikkos listened to the caller’s reply, then pressed a few buttons on the phone setting it back in its cradle.

Returning his attention to Cordelia, he asked, “So, Miss Chase, you were saying?”

“Let me say first, that I know that you know Angel and I’m sure you also know that he’s a vampire but let me assure you completely, totally and unequivocally no doubt about it that this spell is not for him. Not for me. Not for us in any way. We’re so blissfully happy it’s not even funny. We’re even going to have a baby.”

At the look of surprise on Nikkos’s face, Cordelia giggled. “Well, not yet. We’ve got to work out all of the details and then go through the whole fertilization process. but I don’t want to bore you with all of this.”

“Yes, no need.” Nikkos replied with something akin to horror on his features. He had no idea that the seer had been entertaining such outlandish fantasies, nor, did he suspect, did Angel.

“Let me just say that I can’t remember ever being so much in love as I am now.” She continued with a soft sigh, pausing for a moment as if reflecting on some fond memory. “Angel wants to get married before the baby, but he wants a big wedding. I was thinking something small and intimate, just us and a few friends and family. But no, he insists that I deserve only the best. He wants me to go to France and get my gown designed special for me and he’s talking Harry Winston’s for diamonds. A reception at the St. Regis, and the flowers. That man is such a romantic that he wants only pure white orchids, which will have to be imported of course. Oh. Sorry. I tend to get carried away.”

Nikkos waited patiently, his curiosity admittedly piqued at just how far the seer would take her outlandish lies in her attempt to get what she wanted.

“The spell … It’s for my friend. Her name is. is Buffy. Yes, it’s Buffy! It’s really a long and dull story so I don’t want to bore you with the details, but let’s just say she’s in love with a vampire. He left her, she’s heartbroken and I’d like to help her. I know her ex loves her too. he just needs … let’s call it a push in the right direction. A reminder.”

“Interesting…”  Nikkos murmured in disbelief. Did the seer know how close she had come to the truth? What sort of game was she playing?

“Yes, I know it sounds farfetched,” Cordelia hesitated, wondering for a brief second about the expression on the warlock’s face as he regarded her so intently. Did he know about Buffy’s sordid history with Angel?

“But that’s our little Buffy. She’s got such an independent streak.”  She chirped, her voice coming out high-pitched and shrill with her increasing nervousness. “Oh, and please don’t tell Angel that I’m doing this for her. He wouldn’t like me interfering.”

“Why is that?”  Nikkos asked, a distinct edge to his voice.

“I really shouldn’t tell you this, but well, he doesn’t particularly care for Buffy or for Spike. And he really doesn’t like me keeping in touch with her. Bad memories for him and all, with both of them.”  Cordelia tossed her head slightly, shaking her dyed tresses as she pursed her lips. Impatiently she asked, “So? Will you help me-er, her?”

After several moments of what Cordelia perceive to be careful consideration, the warlock replied brusquely, “No.”

“No?!” Her eyebrows shot up nearly to her hairline with her surprise, her mouth dropping open. She hadn’t expected such a blunt, flat refusal.

“No.” Nikkos repeated firmly.

“Just why the hell not? I come here to do a nice thing and you- you turn me down? Just what kind of super sorcerer warlock magic guy are you anyway?!” The seer sputtered angrily, her face turning red. She stomped her foot and rested her fisted hands on her hips in a show of outraged indignation.

“A damn good one, for one thing.” He replied calmly, a lazy insouciance in his voice. “But Miss Chase, let’s face a few facts. You aren’t exactly being truthful with me here. Your tale about your friend. ”

“What?!” Cordy shrieked disdainfully, her eyes bright with anger. “What do you mean, exactly truthful? Are you saying you don’t believe me?”

“Exactly that. Yes, I know Angel and I also happen to know your *friend*, Buffy and I know that she doesn’t need any love spell that you might wish to provide. But I do know what *you* need.”

Nikkos glanced at the former brunette speculatively, patiently waiting for her response.

“Oh really?” Cordelia muttered sarcastically, curious despite her anger. “What do you think that I need?”

“Let me show you.” Nikkos smiled, reaching in the counter for a clouded glass orb.

The bright red display caught her attention and Buffy stopped abruptly. A small smile playing on her lips, she examined the elegantly displayed red and white lingerie along with the accompanying hearts and flowers advertising Valentine’s Day specials.

Idly Buffy contemplated the lacy red chemise, wondering what Angel’s reaction would be if she were to wear something like that. Although she knew he liked red, she didn’t quite know his taste in lingerie, what he might find sexy or attractive. They had never really had time to explore that side of their relationship. That is, until now.

Her smile widening to a grin, Buffy opened the door to Wicked Pleasures and entered the small boutique.

After only a moment of perusing the shop, she spotted the deep red lace of the desired item hanging just to the left of the counter and made her way across the store. Stepping in front of a nearby mirror and holding it out in front of her, she tried to imagine the look on Angel’s face were he to see her in the sheer floral lace. Would he like the short length with the sexy slit up one thigh? Or would he prefer something more. traditional?  Was it too. risqué for his taste?  Would he find it . trashy?

But the thought of wearing it for him generated thrilling, intoxicating tremors deep in the pit of her stomach. His dark eyes, lit with desire, watching her from the bed as she approached him with it on.

“That’s a beautiful choice. Handmade Italian.”

The voice over her shoulder broke into her thoughts and Buffy whirled around in surprise. “Oh, yes it is. It’s beautiful.”  Her cheeks pinked slightly in embarrassment, as if the woman might have been ascertain the direction of her thoughts.

“You’ll be absolutely stunning in it as well. That particular shade of crimson red is perfect for your coloring.”

“Oh. Thanks.” Buffy smiled and glanced down once at again at the seductive garment, still a little uncertain about Angel’s reaction should she buy it and wear it for him.

“I’m Mona.” The redhead greeted warmly, her blue eyes sparkling brightly as she extended her hand.

“Buffy.” Buffy returned the greeting, feeling suddenly and immediately at ease with the slender woman. As Buffy released her hand, she was filled with an incredible sense of déjà vu. She would have remembered the woman had she met her before, of that she was certain. But her eyes – they seemed so familiar.

“Would you like to try that on, sweetie?”  Mona studied the petite blonde, keenly taking in the faint blush, the hint of a smile and perhaps even more telling, the fading purplish bruise and the accompanying bite mark on her neck. Mona’s smile widened to a grin.

“You don’t think it’s a little too…” Buffy glanced back at her reflection in the mirror.

“If there’s one thing I know about men, darling, it’s that there is no such thing as *too* of anything. At least not with sexy wisps of lace designed to provoke their… imagination.” Mona offered her a playful glance, meeting her eyes in the mirror. “Your husband will absolutely love it and love you in it. Although I doubt he’ll let you stay in it very long.”

“Oh,” Buffy smiled sheepishly, her color heightening at the thought of an impatient Angel stripping it from her in a passionate rush. “I’m not married.”

“Really? And here I would have bet money that you were a new bride.”  Mona chuckled, moving briskly around the store and selecting a few other items.

“No, not a bride. What makes you say that?”

“Sweetie, you’re positively radiant. Glowing. And only new brides have that look.” With a sweep of her arm, Mona gestured to the curtained dressing room at the back of the store.

“Of course, great sex can also put that look on a girl’s face.”  The redhead winked as Buffy blushed, ducking into the small alcove.

“Ah, I thought so.”  Mona smiled knowingly, hanging the items she selected on the hook before drawing the curtain closed.

Buffy selected the first item on the rack, a simple vintage-inspired empire waist gown in embroidered sheer tulle, long and flowing. The soft white fabric pooled around her feet as she twisted and turned in front of the mirror, taking in her reflection. She felt like a bride in the white gown. Well, maybe a bride on her wedding night, she revised, noting that you could easily see through the sheer fabric.  What would it be like to be a bride? She once had dreams of being Angel’s bride, complete with the white gown and flowers-

“Try on the apple-green silk next, sweetie. I have a cashmere robe that matches that perfectly. Ooh. And some cinnamon apple candles. That color makes me think of fresh, juicy apple pie for some reason.” Mona’s voice came through the curtain interrupting her musing, “Now where did I put those…”

Buffy obligingly tried on all of the items that she was handed, listening to Mona’s running commentary about life, love and men and making the appropriate responses when necessary. There was no question that the titan haired shop owner’s choice of lingerie was absolutely flawless; the selected sizes were a perfect fit, the colors and styles all impeccable and suited perfectly to Buffy’s taste.

Before long, almost a dozen items of various designs had been tried on and a glass or two of chilled champagne had been consumed, Mona having opened the bottle to add to the afternoon’s impromptu festivities.

When Buffy tried on the last item, a high-necked floral print flannel nightgown awash in lace and ruffles, she paraded out into the store and she and Mona both broke into a fit of giggles.

“I’m almost positive that Angel would prefer… well, anything else to this.” Buffy laughed and twirled around as the skirt billowed out around her.

“No doubt.” Mona smiled, taking a sip of her champagne. The flannel gown she had included with the other items as a joke, knowing that Buffy would get a good laugh out of it in contrast to the sexy lingerie that she had been trying on.

All-in-all, Mona was quite pleased to see that the soul mates had reunited, and she was delighted to hear – thanks to her gentle but insistent and nosy prodding – that he had insisted Buffy come to LA with him. Although, she thought with a lift of her eyebrow, with the garments that she had helped Buffy select and with her understanding of a vampire’s libido, she doubted that anyone would see them out and about anytime soon. If Angel’s sexual appetite was anything like what the three sisters had once suggested, then he would be keeping his lover and mate in his bedroom for quite a while in order to make up for lost time. Mona grinned like the Cheshire cat at the thought. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in their bedroom tonight.

“These are all so beautiful. But I can’t afford them.” Buffy began apologetically as she set the three that she liked the best on the counter in order to choose one.  She had narrowed it down to the red lace, the white almost bridal like gown and a green chemise that complimented her eyes.  She was close to spending the last bit of her savings that she had allocated for clothes shopping, the rest having been spent earlier in the day at Bloomies and Nordstroms.

“Sweetie, you really should take all three.” The red haired shop owner suggested firmly, sliding the lingerie across the counter and beginning to remove the tags. “And I can promise you, Angel will absolutely love them or you can bring them all back. The candles too.”

“I don’t know.” The Slayer murmured contemplatively. She did have Angel’s credit card that he had insisted that she take, but she was reluctant to spend his money. She loved the thought of dressing up in the sexy outfits for him though.

“How about this? If you wear any one of them for more than five minutes after your beau sees you in them, I’ll give you double your money back.”  Mona suggested sportively with a wink.

After a short hesitation, Buffy smiled and reached into her purse. If Angel didn’t like them, she could return them and if he did… then maybe he wouldn’t mind her spending his money on them.

Mona hummed softly and rang up Buffy’s purchases, smiling when the diminutive blonde slid the “Angel Investigations” credit card across the counter. She was a silly romantic, she supposed, but she was infatuated with love and lovers and simply adored the idea that the two soul mates had finally found their way back to each other after all these years.

Lifting the purple and white bag off the counter, Buffy thanked Mona again for the lingerie recommendations, the company and the champagne.

“Oh, one second sweetie, I have something else here.” Mona slipped through the curtains into the back room only to return with a large and heavy box, “This belongs to Angel, er, well Angelus. He bought these things a few years back but never returned to pick them up. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind delivering them to him for me? I suppose I should have sent it to him before now, but the opportunity just didn’t seem to come up.”

Before Buffy could put together a sentence, her wits having flown at the redhead’s casual mention of Angelus, a phone began ringing. Reaching under the counter for her purse, Mona dug frantically through the stylish bag until she found the tiny phone. Flipping it open, she answered the caller with a friendly hello.

“Oh, darling. How *are* you?”  Mona smiled at Buffy and waved before turning and slipping through the curtains into the back of the store, continuing her conversation.

How did Mona know about Angelus? How *well* did she know him? A green streak of envy raced through Buffy at the thought that Angelus might have been attentive to the beautiful and sultry redhead.

Chewing her bottom lip, Buffy waited, wanting to ask the questions that were ricocheting through her mind. Mona’s conversation continued unabated on the other side of the curtain.

After a few more seconds of consideration, Buffy sighed with resignation and picked up the heavy box. Maybe she’d just have to ask Angelus.

“Damn you to hell!” Cordelia cried, flinging the dark orb at Nikkos as she turned and bolted for the door as if the hounds of hell were nipping at her heels.

Nikkos caught the flying object easily, chuckling at the look of fear and horror on the dyed blonde’s face as she raced for the exit.

The chuckle turned to a hearty burst of laughter as the door slammed hard, shaking on its hinges and rattling the chime loudly. The glass shuddered and threatened to break under the force, even though it was magically reinforced to withstand a variety of attacks, both natural and supernatural.

Nikkos picked up the phone and returned to the caller who had been put on ‘hold’. If Cordelia had looked carefully she would have noticed that it had actually been on speakerphone.  Still smiling, he chuckled into the phone. “So, Angel? You catch any of that?”

Buffy muttered a few choice curses under her breath as she hauled the heavy box the short way down the street and to the car. What the hell had Angelus bought at Wicked Pleasures? What had he been doing in a lingerie shop anyway?  Something Angel had said about Angelus and his plans to ‘get her back’ stirred vaguely in her mind and she wondered for the briefest second if there was some connection before she shrugged it away.

Lifting the heavy box, she set it in the trunk next to the broadsword and axe that Angel had left in there and then closed the lid with a slam. Opening that up later should prove most interesting.

Placing her bag of lingerie in the back seat next to her other purchases, Buffy re-locked the car and once more made her way down the street to her original destination, Magos Exousia.

The honking of horns drew her attention and she glanced up to see a bright yellow jeep roar away from the curb just two blocks down, the tires squealing as the driver cut off the oncoming traffic in an apparent haste to leave.

Buffy shook her head. LA drivers.

Nikkos smiled in recognition as the door opened and Buffy stepped through.

Cupping his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, he called out in friendly welcome. “Buffy! Buffy Summers! What brings you to Los Angeles?”

“Pleasure, actually. I’m on a bit of a vacation.” Buffy returned his smile as she approached, hugging him as he stepped around the counter to meet her.

“And a long overdue vacation that would be, no doubt. Here, let me look at you.” Holding out one hand, he twirled her around. Against his shoulder, he thought he could hear the faint sound of Angel growling through the phone.

Nikkos’s perceptive blue eyes missed nothing as they took in the sunny smile on her face, the sparkle in her mossy green eyes and, despite the collar of her jacket, the recent bite mark and fading purple bruise surrounding it. He suppressed a frown; Angel had obviously been impatient to reclaim his mate. A little too impatient, perhaps. In their phone conversation thus far, Angel had not admitted that things had already progressed to this point with Buffy.  Nikkos sighed resignedly; he hoped that the vampire had at least given serious consideration to his warning before he had acted.

“You look radiant, darling. Absolutely, positively glowing. Want to tell me what – or who – has put that sparkle in your eyes and the blush on your cheeks?”  He teased, his smile widening to a grin at the color heightening on Buffy’s pink cheeks. His concern was lessening somewhat at the obvious signs of her happiness.

“It wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with a certain tall, dark and brooding vampire that resides in Los Angeles now, would it?”  He knew Angel could hear him, but it amused him to tease the vampire about his mate in any way he could.

Looking up into Nikkos’s kindly blue eyes, Buffy took a deep breath before she answered simply, “Yes.”  She wasn’t surprised that he knew; even if he hadn’t simply guessed knowing her amorous history as he did, the world in which they moved was small and certainly news about Slayers and certain vamps traveled fast.

“I need to talk to you.” Buffy said quietly, glancing around the shop to ensure that no one was within range of hearing her words. “About the spell.”

Nikkos studied her carefully, a concerned expression on his face. “You want to know why it broke.”

“Yes.” The blonde Slayer replied nodding her head almost imperceptibly.

“Okay then my dear. We’ll talk. I’ll make us some tea and it’ll be just like old times.” Nikkos gestured toward the rooms in the back, “Let me just finish this call, chase out the few lingering window shoppers and I’ll be right along. Want to put some water on?”

Buffy nodded and made her way back to the warlock’s small apartment.  As she put the small kettle on the stove, she was reminded that her life had changed once before in this small room. Would it change again?

Her arms loaded with packages, Buffy unsteadily turned the knob on the door and pushed it open with her knee. She carried the grocery bags into the kitchen and sat them on the table, then returned to the car three more times to retrieve her other purchases of the day and Angelus’s box.

As she closed the door behind her, she couldn’t help but notice how sparkling clean the house was now. There was no sign of any dust or cobwebs whatsoever. The hardwood floors gleamed richly, the stained glass window sparkled brightly leaving an impressive jewel pattern on the floor. Even the sage green couch appeared to have been thoroughly swept free of any lingering dust.

She smiled. Angel must have worked hard today. Upstairs, she could hear the sound of the shower running.  Returning to the kitchen, she unpacked the groceries that she had bought on her last stop before returning to the house.

The blood from the butcher when straight to the fridge, alongside the various grocery items that he’d put on the list for her that morning.  She made a face at the eggplant and put it in the fridge next to the other vegetables. She had no idea how to pick one of those out, even less of an idea what Angel intended to do with it and she wasn’t at all certain that it was something she wanted to eat. The cookie-dough-fudge-mint-chip ice cream that went into the freezer hadn’t been on the list. It had been an impulse buy from a distant fuzzy memory from her stay in heaven. Maybe she could even convince him to let her eat it off his chest again and she could experience it for herself first hand.

Tucking Angelus’s box in the closet and picking up the packages that she had left at the bottom of the stairs, she carried them up to their room. Their room. Buffy said the words in her mind, rolling them around and delighting in the sound. Their. Room. She smiled, enjoying those two small words more than she had ever thought possible. With Nikkos’s information about the spell and his reassurances about her life and about Angel’s affections she was even more optimistic that they would somehow manage to muddle through and make this thing called a relationship work.

Putting away the last of her purchases before Angel would see them, wanting to save them for just the right moment, Buffy turned in the direction of the bathroom door. The shower had stopped just seconds earlier.

With an impish smile on her face, she opened the bathroom door and stepped inside.  She knew that he could sense her presence just as she could feel him. Those feelings, those pangs of familiarity, of connection between them had returned with a vengeance now that the spell was broken. Of course, she thought with a slight pout, with his other vamp senses he probably even heard her moving around downstairs or picked up on her scent as soon as she entered the house.

Angel stood with his back to her, wrapping his hips in a black towel after drying off briskly.  Her eyes were drawn to the dark ink of the Gryphon tattoo on his back and she felt an overwhelming desire to lick away the small droplets of water that clung to it and to his shoulder blades.

Closing the door behind her quietly, she leaned against it for a moment and absorbed the sight of him: powerful and potent and overwhelming. Intoxicating tremors of desire swept through her much like the champagne she consumed earlier with Mona, spinning her head and heating her blood.

Sensing her presence behind him, Angel turned to face her. “Hey.” Pleasure at seeing her inundated his senses without the slightest delay, but a second later a voice in his head reminded him to be less desperately happy and more wary. Why had she gone to see Nikkos?

“Hey yourself.” Buffy walked up and peeked around the glass block wall of the shower that separated the enclosure from the rest of the room. The bathroom had been remodeled in the last few years, a tall shower in deep blue mosaic tile surrounded by thick glass block on one end, a large Jacuzzi tub with room for two in an alcove on the other.

“Someone was busy today.”  Buffy murmured playfully, turning back to face her lover as he watched her intently.

His gaze was shuttered, uncertain of her mood or the result of her conversation with Nikkos. The warlock had adamantly assured him that he would not use any magic on her or for her, but Angel hadn’t been so sure that the blue-eyed sorcerer would have been able to withstand any of Buffy’s pleas had that been what she really wanted.

“Yes.” Angel replied noncommittally, his concentration on his tenuous self-control. He wanted to grab her and shake her, he wanted to kiss her senseless and he wanted to demand that she tell him why she had gone to see Nikkos. Had he done something – or not done something – to assure her that he was serious about their relationship this time?  Was there something more that he should have said or done to convince her that he was wildly in love with her and would never leave her again?  Was the thought of being in love with him such a frightening thing to her that she would rather be without it?

“Squeaky clean.” She smiled, interrupting his thoughts and running her fingertips along the now clean counter before stepping directly in front of him. Her eyes, shining brilliant green and happy, met his.

He studied her carefully. There were no changes with her or her attitude that he could detect. His fear dropped a notch yet he still watched her carefully.

Buffy wondered about the apprehensive expression on his face as she traced the arch of his brow with her fingertip. She had a sudden urge to clasp his head to her breast, to soothe away his worries and fears, whatever they may be.  Her eyes dropped to his lips and then lower to his bare chest and she shivered slightly, the idea of comforting him replaced with a stronger and more carnal emotion.

Her eyes flitted up to his briefly again. Maybe she could find a way to distract him from his worries, at least for a little while. With a slow teasing smile, she leaned forward and licked a drop of water from his chest, just above his pebbled nipple. “Mmm… Clean Angel.”

He almost jumped at the next swipe of her tongue, directly on his nipple. She laved it gently, rolling her tongue around it with teasing slowness before whispering softly against his skin, “Definitely squeaky clean here.”

His skin was slightly warm from the hot shower, yet her touch felt infinitely warmer. He stood completely still, mesmerized by the feel of her soft tongue against his skin and the warm, affectionate look in her eye.

“What about.” With an almost hungry look, Buffy’s gaze roved over his chest. Her palms came up to rest on his waist as her eyes shot up to him in a quick seductive glance. Leaning forward again, she licked a slow path across his chest stopping when she reached his other tan nipple and treating it to the same delicious pleasure. “Here?”

“Mmmm.” Her head moved lower, tracing his ribs then his abdomen. “Or, here?”

Angel closed his eyes as the tension seemed to drain from his body with each small lave of her tongue on his flesh. Her voice seemed to drift around him, caressing him with loving whispers as she slowly moved, exploring every inch of his torso. Instant need raced along his every nerve at her touch.

Slipping behind him, she licked the water droplets from his back with languid patience then she traced his tattoo with her fingers then her lips then again with her tongue.  Her hands slid around his waist, caressing his stomach as she pressed her warm cheek to the cool skin of his back. Desire was coiling in the pit of her stomach, flame-hot and spreading with every beat of her heart.

Gently unclasping her hands from his waist, Angel turned to face her.

“Welcome home.” He murmured softly as he drew her into his arms, bending his head slightly to brush a gentle kiss across her lips.

Prolonging the kiss by pressing her lips firmly against his, she lifted her arms to his shoulders and rose up to her toes, sliding the quivering fullness of her breasts against his bare chest and delighting in the abrasive pleasure as she rubbed the taut peaks against him. Despite the layers of her clothing between them, she could feel him against her acutely. Her nipples tingled and firmed even more as the pleasurable ache intensified.

Her lips parted beneath his with a slow melting sigh and she wiggled slightly in an attempt to get even closer to him. The clean scent that was pure Angel washed over her as he filled her senses, overwhelming her mind and body with his physical presence. Buffy sighed softly into his mouth at the familiar touch of his hands on her back, the cool heavy weight stroking gently and holding her to him.

With a soft groan, Angel changed the slant of his head and slipped his tongue into her mouth, tasting, licking, and twining with hers in a sensuous pattern of penetration and withdrawal. One hand slid under her sweater to caress the warm smooth skin along her spine as he forced her head back with the intensity of his kiss. His other hand tangled in her hair as he reached up to hold her securely under the pressure of his lips.

While his mouth ate at hers, tasting the sweet mint and tangy champagne flavor of her, he gently accommodated her body to his, easing her up to fit more snugly against his unmistakable erection. He wondered briefly where she had been that she had had champagne, but the thought drifted away as she lifted her leg, rubbing his calf with hers in a sinuous caress.

“I missed you,” Angel whispered quietly, lifting his head a fraction to allow Buffy to catch her breath.

“I can tell.” Buffy replied, her smile playful. Her hips undulated against him in a slow inducement of promised pleasure. Even bare foot, he towered over her, lean, powerful and fit. He was so beautiful, she thought as she looked up into his dark eyes, eyes that were touched with a predatory wildness that thrilled her beyond measure.

“Do you want your surprise?”

“Yes.” His hand on her back slipped down to her the swell of her behind, cupping the firm flesh in his large hand and arching her back even further. He nuzzled her ear as he squeezed the cheek of her bottom drawing her into him tightly. Buffy let out a soft gasp of pleasure, her lashes dropping marginally as his arousal surged against her.

“Now or later?” She murmured, brushing his throat with soft nipping kisses, her fingers playing in the soft short hairs at the nape of his neck.

“Depends.” Angel whispered as he straightened and released her, reaching for the buttons on her sweater in one smooth move.  When he slid the soft cotton down her arms he bent and kissed the healing bite on the smooth curve of her neck.  A rush of throbbing passion swept through her at the touch of his lips on the bite mark and she trembled, clutching at his hair and closing her eyes.

He lifted his head and looked down at her face, feeling a perverse thrill that his bite seemed to be an erotic pleasure point for her. He gently untangled her arms from his neck as he pushed her sweater off.

“On?” Buffy opened her eyes and smiled as she let the sweater drop to the floor behind her before returning her arms to their earlier position around his neck. Reaching up, she ran her hands through the damp spiky locks of his dark hair.  She loved the soft, thick unruly mass.

“What it is.” He returned her smile, gratified to have his golden goddess home, with him. Bending slightly he swept her back into his arms and buried his face in her neck, content to hold her for a moment, relishing her nearness, the feel of her tiny body pressed tightly to his.

Nikkos’s words to her – that true love should not be denied, that it was rare and precious and should be reveled in with one’s entire spirit and heart and soul – suddenly echoed in her mind. How many years would she be able have the simple pleasure of being held in his arms? Slayers didn’t live long lives and they’d already wasted so much time.


Lifting his head, he looked down at Buffy in the bright light of the bathroom. Their faces were very close, his forehead nearly touching hers. Buffy’s green eyes staring up at him were wide and deep green and almost frightened.

“I-I love you.” She murmured softly, her voice thick with emotion. “I really love you. More than I ever thought possible.”

It was the first time in more years than he cared to remember that he had heard those words from her and his own emotions surged with a ferocious intensity. He wanted to laugh, to cry, to shout with triumphant joy all at once. The fear that he had been unknowingly holding on to dissolved in a rapid exhalation of breath. He had underestimated how important those little words were to him, how much he had been waiting to hear them from her again. How much it mattered.

His hand came up and lightly brushed her cheek, the Claddagh ring he wore glinting in the light. “I love you too, sweet, with all my heart.”

“Don’t ever leave me,” She breathed on a soft exhalation, burying her face in the curve of his neck, “please.”  She hated the almost desperate plea in her voice, yet was powerless to prevent it. No one had ever affected her as deeply as he did. No one had touched her heart the way he had from the first moment she had seen him. No one could hurt her as much as he could.

“Never, love.” Angel lifted her head gently and tenderly touched her lips with his. The desperate plea in her voice nearly brought tears to his eyes, forcing him to swallow hard to hold them back. “I’ll always be with you, Buffy, I promise. Now until forever.”

“Promise?”  Buffy demanded as the tremor of fear that flared began to subside. She could set aside what had happened between them in the past, but the pain would not easily be forgotten even after all these years.

“I promise,” He murmured, his lips brushing hers, “and if I ever give you any reason to think otherwise.” He kissed her then, a slow heated kiss that curled her toes and chased away all but the most stubborn lingering doubt in her mind about his feelings. Planting a last soft kiss on her lips, he finished with a small smile, “You can take a stake to me.”

Buffy studied his face for a moment as if searching for the truth. With a small smile, she stretched up on her toes and slid her tongue along the upper curve of lip, whispering teasingly, “Deal.”

Returning her smile, he kissed her. It was a sweet, tender kiss, a reaffirmation of love.

“But for tonight,” She murmured softly, pushing away from him and stepping back. Reaching behind her, she unhooked her lavender lace bra and dropped it to the floor. Her skirt followed along with her dainty lace panties and shoes. “I have a much better idea.”

Reaching out, she tugged the towel lose from his hips and dropped it to the floor next to her clothing.

“I want to touch you.” Buffy whispered in a soft breathy voice, her eyes drinking in his lithe, muscled body and rampant erection with undisguised eagerness. Her small pink tongue darted out and licked her lips. Her voice was husky purr, “To taste you.”

Standing completely still, Angel quietly waited as Buffy dropped to her knees in front of him. When her lips touched him, her tongue licking across the swollen crest of his erection, his eyes closed and his hands slid into her hair. Her hands stroked his thighs, her hair gently caressing his lower body as she moved her head up and down in a slow deliberate rhythm. Taking her time and concentrating on his pleasure, she licked and nibbled, at turns sucking him deep into her mouth and throat before releasing him to run her tongue across the sensitive tip.  Opening his eyes he looked down at her, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.  He watched every plunging movement as she took him deep into her mouth, moving with lingering slowness until finally the exquisite sensations broke his tenuous control and he released his cool seed into her mouth.

His eyes were heavy-lidded when he looked down at her a long minute later. “Was that my surprise?” he asked in a soft murmur, a contented smile playing on his lips.

Licking her lips like a cat enjoying a taste of cream, Buffy’s heavy-lashed eyes opened and her gaze lifted to his face from her position on the floor at his feet. “Part of it…” She breathed softly, still wanting him with an insistent pulse of desire that hummed through her senses and went directly to her wet, heated core.

Bending, he lifted her with one arm and turned, swinging them around and placing her on the edge of the counter. Nudging her legs, he parted them and stepped forward sliding his palms up her thighs.

“But now you want something?” He whispered huskily, bending his head to kiss the curve of her neck. Already he was hard again, hard and aching with want as if he had not just climaxed moments ago.

Buffy’s breathing quickened at the touch of his fingers near the damp apex of her thighs and her legs parted wider, inviting him in. His fingers swept over her wet cleft with deft expertise and pleasure flooded her mind in blissful waves. One long finger slipped inside her and she crooned softly, arching against him and wanting more. With his hands on her body all thoughts fled from her mind. She could no longer think, she could only feel. His lean fingers moved inside her, stroking deeply with the controlled expertise and dexterity of an artist, pushing her ever closer to the edge of ecstasy.

“I love you,” She sighed softly, reaching up to pull his head down to hers. Her voice was ripe with passion as her lips met his, informing him with a heated demand, “and I need you. Now.” When her tongue invaded his mouth, softly demanding, his arm encircled her, pulling her roughly into the hard strength of his body.

He felt her breath hitch in his mouth as he entered her in one swift thrust before closing his eyes against the lust consuming his brain. He forced away the ramming mentality screaming through his mind, along with his demons lewd comments.

“Angel.” Buffy mewled softly, arching her back to sink down on him further as her arms tugged at him, wanting him closer, deeper, harder. Heat spiraled upward through her body, along with unbridled longing. “Please.”

“Slow, baby,” Angel murmured, withdrawing gently and rocking forward again to glide inside her with exquisite slowness.

“Angelll. now.”

Her next breath was an explosive sigh as her vampire lover capitulated, giving in to her demands and burying himself in the hot, silky, sweetness of her body with increasingly hard and rapid strokes. He flexed his hips and thighs, thrusting with barely controlled strength as her tight channel clenched around him. He kissed her then and she kissed him back wildly, lost to everything but the sensations pounding through her veins in a primitive, driving rhythm keeping time with his thrusts.

“I love you.” She breathed against his ear just as her first explosive climax washed over her. She clung to him, melted around him and he reached between them to find the swollen nub of her clitoris, working her with gentle expertise to keep her on the edge of ecstasy before reigniting the fires of her passion as she undulated her hips against him.

He matched her tempo as she wrapped her strong legs around his hips and braced her hands on his shoulders and rode him hard with a fevered eagerness that would not be denied. She was erotic, wild and unrestrained. With her arms laced around his neck, she arched into him as reality melted away into oblivion, as pleasure inundated her every sense and nerve, until at long last she shuddered around him with a high keening cry that echoed throughout the room. Unable to hold off any longer, Angel poured into her with his own soul-stirring, tumultuous climax.

When he carried her to their bed a long while later, he made love to her again as if it were for the first time: with infinite patience, exquisite tenderness and unending love. Their kisses were sweet and slow and languid, each one powerfully etched in their hearts and minds.

Between kisses, he told her in soft whispers of her beauty, of his love for her and his visions for their future. When he finished his litany, his expression was tender and solemn and Buffy had tears in her eyes from the intensity of her emotion. She kissed him then with a desperate hunger before telling him of her love for him with whispered words against his lips.  Unlike the earlier storm of their passion, their lovemaking this time was slow and sweet and gentle.

After, when the delicious pleasure had hushed to a sated calm, Angel lay next to her on their bed with an overwhelming contentment running through his languorous senses and a low purr rumbling in his chest. He wondered briefly how he could experience such perfect happiness, such flawless, complete and boundless love and still have his soul intact much less not burst into a thousand small bits of ash.

Just before her eyes drifted shut in dreamy abandonment, Buffy had a lurching moment of jealousy, watching him lie next to her, his eyes closed in contentment. He was too perfect and too sinfully beautiful and she thought with envy of the many times Cordelia must have seen him like this .  But then, he had never loved Cordelia, never really loved her for more than a friend or a sister perhaps, he had even said so. In the peaceful bower of their bed, the unexpected surge of envy slowly began to dissipate.

“Love you.” She murmured softly, drowsing against his shoulder. She somehow knew, with sudden unquestionable certainty, that it had never been like this between Angel and Cordy. Never. Nikkos was right. What she and Angel shared was rare and precious.

“I love you, Buffy.”

After a few minutes of silence, Angel whispered against her hair, “I’ll give you everything.” She deserved the treasures of the world for the love that she had brought into his life, for the joy that simply being with her gave him. “Anything your heart desires, love, it’s yours.”

Buffy’s lashes fluttered against his skin as her eyes opened with his soft words. Her luminescent green eyes met his deep golden brown ones.

“I only want you.” She murmured softly, closing her eyes again and snuggling closer and twining around him, her face buried in the crook of his neck, her arm across his chest and her leg over his thigh.

“You have me, love,” He replied, his eyes closing as he pulled the thick comforter from the floor and settled it over them, “always.”

She smiled in her sleep, content.

It was just after eleven p.m. and Buffy nibbled on the remains of the grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables that Angel had cooked for her while she waited for him to dress and join her downstairs. She had teased him endlessly about cooking while wearing only a pair of black silk charmeuse pajama bottoms, to which Angel good-naturedly teased her back about the appropriateness of high-heeled sandals for slaying.

She looked up when she sensed him standing in the doorway and her mouth dropped open in surprise.

“Uh, these were in some of the things that I- that Angelus left here. Other than the pants I’ve been wearing for three days that can almost stand on their own and the pajamas that you saw earlier, this is all I’ve got.”  Angel stated uncomfortably as she continued to stare, her mouth agape.  Meanwhile, Angelus began to chortle with glee. Told you so! Told you so! Told you she loved them!

“I’m going to have to make a trip to the hotel to pick up some things.”

“Uh, you look.” Buffy stammered, her eyes drinking in the sight of her lover. He was dressed in all black, from the silk shirt he wore to the leather pants. A black leather belt circled his waist, clasped with a silver buckle embossed with a Celtic design. She cleared her throat, forcing out the rest of her sentence, “uh, great.”  Which, to Buffy’s mind, was the understatement of the century. He looked somewhere just on the other side of magnificent. God, if only she could get him to wear those more often. A familiar bolt of lust shot through her and she clenched her thighs together. Despite the many times they had made love this afternoon and despite the touch of lingering soreness between her legs, she wanted him. Now.

As the delicate scent of her arousal tickled his nostrils, Angelus once more howled with lust and laughter. Angel glanced at her speculatively, a slow smile crossing his features.  Okay, so you were right this time. He mentally acknowledged his demon and stepped forward as Buffy stood. It’s too bad you don’t get to reap any of the benefits. You can watch though. Angel finished with a mental smirk, ignoring Angelus’s angry and expletive laden response.

With shaky fingers Buffy placed her dishes in the sink. So he’s wearing leather pants. So what? They’re just pants. Just . leather. pants. Okay, so he looks great in them. Great? What I am saying? Great. He looks absolutely totally fuckable in them. Steady, Buffy. Patrol first, then.

Angel’s arms slipped around her waist from behind and he dropped a kiss on her shoulder effectively interrupting her thoughts. “You look great yourself.”

Without thinking, Buffy rocked back on her heels and ground her bottom into his groin. Splaying one hand on her stomach, Angel held her against him. Thought you were going on patrol, Angelus snidely commented. Whatever. Angel mentally replied, considering revising his plans with Buffy pressed so tightly against him.

Knowing that Angel had to be stir crazy from being in the house all day and not wanting him to think she was some sort of lust-crazed nympho, Buffy took a deep breath to calm her racing senses and then turned around in his arms.

“So.” She cleared her throat and looked down at her outfit, searching for a distraction. Holding out her arms she questioned flirtatiously, “You like?”

Angel’s looked her up and down, his heated gaze roving over her and taking in the form-fitting, pale purple top, the short black mini-skirt and the black high-heeled boots.

“Isn’t that skirt a little short? For patrolling?” He frowned slightly, his eyes riveted to the sight of her exposed tanned thighs. “It’s still cold out, even if it is LA.”

“It’s the style. And besides, you’ve seen me in less.” Buffy smiled, wrapping her arms around his waist again. She couldn’t seem to stop touching him. The table was close. Maybe she could just lean over it and he could…

Angel grunted softly. Just because *he* had didn’t mean he wanted anyone else to see, well, any part of her.

“Besides, honey, I thought you’d like it.” She pouted slightly at his continued frown, forcing her thoughts away from the lascivious activities she had almost begun to envision that they could pursue on the table. “I bought it today just for you.”

“I love it, sweetheart. I just…” he grumbled, suddenly feeling very old fashioned and prudish at the moment. Of course he loved it, just as he had always loved seeing her patrol in those short skirts that she always used to wear.  The table was close. he could just lift her up on it and flip that little bit of nothing up to her waist.

Okay. Patrol. With effort, he forced himself to drop his arms and take a step backward while running the reminder through his mind that they were going out on patrol. A quick, short patrol, he thought, his eyes once more drifting to her bare legs. He turned on his heel and walked to the closet to get their coats. If he didn’t take her out patrolling with him as he had promised before they left Sunnydale, she might think he wasn’t intending to keep his word. No matter how much he wanted to take her back to bed… or the table… he had to see this through.

Buffy’s eyes lingered on the snug fit of the leather on his ass and thighs as he crossed the room. She sighed softly. Maybe she could talk him into a quick, short patrol. Maybe just the surrounding neighborhood.

“You just what?” She teased, reaching out to take her coat from his hand when he walked back toward her.

“I just don’t want you to catch cold.” Angel mumbled, knowing the excuse was feeble but it was the best he could come up with without sounding priggish.

“If I get cold, then you can keep me warm. You have your big long coat on.” Buffy slipped on her leather jacket, pulling her hair from the collar and tossing it over her shoulder as she reached for her bag.

Angel eyed her briefly before following her to the door. That comment did not help cool his ardor at all. A quick patrol just down to the nearby cemetery and back. It’d take an hour, max. Then they could be back here and .

Buffy cast an impatient look at him over her shoulder before stepping out the door.

Sighing heavily, he flipped off the light switch and followed her out into the dark night.

Angel crossed his arms over his chest and watched as Buffy punched the vamp she was fighting, sending him flying backward into the crumbling tombstone behind them. He hadn’t realized how much he missed this: watching her, fighting alongside her. He grimaced slightly at the brief view of her lacy panties that was revealed when she whirled into a graceful roundhouse kick and slammed the fledgling into the tombstone again before pulling out her stake and driving it straight into the vampire’s chest.

With a smug smile, Buffy dusted her hands off and walked over to where her lover stood waiting for her by the tall crypt.  “That’s two for me.”

“I missed this.” He smiled at her, holding out his hand. She returned his smile and took his hand as they walked toward the entrance of the small cemetery.

“Missed what?” Buffy questioned, peering into the dark intently as was her usual habit when out hunting for creatures of the night.

“Patrolling with you, watching you fight,” Angel replied, squeezing her hand as they rounded the corner. “Getting a glimpse of your little lacy underpants.”

“Just a glimpse?” She asked, her voice light and teasing.

With a sudden preternaturally fast movement, he swept her into his arms. His voice was husky against her ear, “Or maybe a feel.”

He backed her into the marble wall of the crypt behind her, his lips finding hers in a demanding, heated kiss as memories of nights spent together in the distant past crept into both of their minds. Nights spent kissing, exploring each other with greedy mouths and impatient hands. Nights when he taught her about passion, learning her body and teaching her to respond to him. He had shown her pleasures beyond her imagination, yet despite the breath-taking, earth-shattering orgasms he had orchestrated in her, when he left her each night at her house with a chaste kiss she had still shivered with longing, wanting something more of him. It wasn’t until her seventeenth birthday that she found out exactly what it was that she had been wanting from him.

A branch cracked in the dark somewhere off in the distance and Angel reluctantly broke off their kiss and raised his head. Looking in the direction of the sound, the tall vampire cocked his head as if searching for a scent on the breeze.

Buffy felt a low rumbling growl from Angel’s chest, and she glanced up at his face, running her hand soothingly along his arm as she peered over his shoulder.

“What is it?” Buffy whispered, unable to ascertain the source of the tingling she was now beginning to feel. It was another vamp most likely, but that didn’t explain Angel’s peculiar behavior.

“Connor.” Angel murmured in reply, dropping his arms from Buffy just as a dark flash seemed to disappear over the far wall.  Without a word between then in regards to a plan or strategy, Angel bolted after his son and Buffy made a hard right for the cemetery entrance.

Reaching the exterior wall, Buffy darted through the gate and leaned casually against the wall. She heard fast running footsteps around the corner to her left, but she stayed in position, calmly examining her fingernails. Her casual demeanor belied her readiness to stop whoever or whatever it was that was racing toward her.

Connor had never expected to find his father in the old cemetery, much less with Buffy and the two of them making out like a couple of teenagers. Buffy’s blonde hair stood out like a beacon in the dark night, which was how he had easily spotted them immediately after climbing over the wall. In an angry panic, he fled, uncertain if either of them had spotted him.

Originally he had come looking for the vampire out of concern. He knew that his father tended to take himself off alone and brood when things were wrong; certainly, things with Cordelia would fall into that category now. He also wanted to know what was going on. Had Angel found Cordelia?  Or now that he was back with Buffy, did he no longer care?

He had known that his father wasn’t staying at the Hyperion since he’d been there several times, and he wasn’t staying with the rest of the AI team at the Four Seasons – which led Connor to suspect that perhaps the address for the house in Santa Monica that he had found in father’s things might be where he could find him. He’d been on his way there when he heard noises in the cemetery and so had slipped over the fence to investigate. which is when he had spotted them.

Connor glanced behind him over his shoulder. Seeing nothing, he slowed to a jog and turned the corner, only to stop short as he came face to face with Buffy. She now stood in the center of the sidewalk, having pushed away from the wall when he rounded the corner.

“What are you doing here?” Connor spat jealously. Would his father always have someone in his life that was more important than he was?

“She’s on vacation.”

Connor whirled around as his father dropped silently from the fence to the sidewalk behind him.

“But I think the question is what are *you* doing *here*?” Angel asked calmly, adjusting his coat collar as he walked toward them.

“I was looking for you.” The young man replied petulantly, glancing at Buffy then back at Angel. His father looked more like Angelus than the man he remembered seeing last. Had he lost his soul? Connor’s eyes shifted back to Buffy suspiciously.

“Does Gunn know that you’re here?” The tall vampire asked quietly, even though he suspected he already knew the answer.

“No.” Connor grumbled, looking down at the ground.

“I didn’t think so.” Angel sighed, glancing at Buffy briefly before his gaze returned to his son’s face. “You forget how the phone works? Or is there another reason why you didn’t just call?”

“Whatever.” Connor spat angrily, casting a dirty look at Buffy before he stalked off. “Like you care anyway.”

“Connor, damn it-” Angel called out after his son, his exasperation obvious by the tone of his voice.

“Angel.” Buffy said quietly, touching the tall vampire on the arm. She knew how important his son was to him, how much he wanted to repair their relationship.  She was even willing to give up their idyllic paradise that consisted of just the two of them if it would help. “Go after him. Talk to him. If you want, bring him back to stay with us.”

“Thank you.” Angel cupped her cheek in his hand. “I love you.”

Buffy smiled and held his hand to her face for a brief moment. “I love you. Now go. I’ll meet you back at the house.”

“Be careful.” His eyes narrowed as he spotted Connor’s retreating back in the distance. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Alone. It’s best that Connor stay at the hotel with the others right now.”

He leaned down and kissed her, hesitating. He didn’t want to leave her alone period, much less on the darkened street.

“Go.” Buffy ordered, looking at him sternly and pointing in the direction that Connor had gone. “The sooner you go, the sooner you’ll be back.” Her eyes swept over him again, memorizing his image in the leather pants. The last thing she wanted was to let him out of her sight tonight, but she knew that he needed to do this. She sighed softly.

Angel pulled her into his arms for one more kiss, this one teasing, sweet and tender.

“Wait up for me?” He couldn’t keep the touch of eagerness out of his voice.

“Only if you promise to bring me.” Buffy’s voice dropped an octave and she ran her hand teasingly over his crotch. Her smile was mischievous, “…a big surprise.”

Buffy lounged in the oversized tub, enjoying the relaxing heat of the water and daydreaming of the future with Angel. Already she missed him, his absence from her rare in these last few days.

Dipping down lower into the liquid warmth of tub, she wondered how long he would stay with Connor. Already she wished that he were home beside her. Or rather, home and inside her, she thought with a dreamy smile. Her nerves, her body, all of her senses seemed to be on constant carnal alert and she wondered briefly if such a single-minded focus on passion was normal.

Pulling the stopper on the tub with her toe, Buffy rose and stretched languidly, wrapping herself in the thick cotton towel. After drying off, she slathered her body head to toe with the silky vanilla scented lotion and pulled on Angel’s robe that he had left hanging on the back of the door. She inhaled deeply, drinking in the lingering trace of his scent. It was a cheap substitute for having his arms around her but it would have to do for now.

Glancing at the clock in the bedroom, she saw that it was almost two am. She stirred restlessly.  Angel should be back soon.

She picked up her book and tried to read, but the words were just ink dots on the page. After five minutes of fidgeting she sighed and dropped the book on the nightstand. She wanted Angel.

Suddenly she smiled, recalling the box that belonged to Angelus that was tucked in the closet downstairs. Now there was something to pass the time while she waited for his return. Inspired, she lugged the heavy box up the stairs and sat it on the floor next to the bed.  She carefully peeled back the tape sealing it shut, her eyes widening when she finally pulled back the flap on the box and glanced inside.

The light in the bedroom was still on when Angel returned to the house almost half an hour later. He smiled, pleased that Buffy had waited up for him.

Taking the stairs two at a time, Angel came to an abrupt stop just inside the doorway to the bedroom. His eyes widened and he sucked in an unneeded breath at the resplendent spectacle of his mate’s beauty as she sat in the center of their bed. His gaze swept over her slowly and his lips curved into a smile, his eyes darkening with appreciation and lust.

“Welcome home.” Buffy shifted her attention away from the object in her hand and looked up at him with a smile. Wearing a black strapless corset, she sat with her stocking clad legs tucked under her, facing the center of the bed. Her hair was pinned up messily with several jeweled dragonfly clips, the pale green stones decorating the dainty insects’ wings glittering in the light. A thin black velvet choker circled her neck.

“Hello, love,” Angel murmured softly, his gait predatory as he advanced slowly into the room. “Had I known what you were planning, I would have been back earlier.” That is, if I could even have left.

He was unable to tear his eyes away from her.  He was almost certain he was going to combust and it took several long moments and several unneeded breaths before he noticed anything other than his beautiful and seductively clad mate.  It took him another minute before he was able to focus on exactly what she held in her hand and identify it as a vibrator. A bright red vibrator. His jaw dropped.

Hey! That’s my stuff! Angelus declared with a surprised bark.

At his demon’s loud proclamation of ownership, Angel glanced at the items on the bed with no small amount of trepidation. A coil of gold chains dominated one pile, nearly covering jars of what he assumed to be oils or lubricants although one distinctly said “liquid latex” in big bold letters. On top of the chains, Buffy had placed the red vibrator that she had been holding in her hand alongside another silver, bullet shaped vibrator and a jade cock ring.  Next to that stack of objects, was another similar pile, this one consisting of a string of beads, two sets of nipple clamps and a braided bullwhip. The last group of items was smaller: a ball gag, a metal bar with cuffs at one end and a collar on the other and a particularly vicious looking set of clover clamps.

“Buffy…” Angel stammered slightly, uncertain what to say. He had no idea where she had found the box. He had no real memory of bringing it to the house although he did remember Angelus ordering the things from a shop down on Montana, but that had been years ago. The box hadn’t been in the house today though – he was certain of that. He, or the perhaps the house cleaners that he had hired, would have found it.

“So… this shop I went into today… they had a package of yours. Well, your demon’s anyway.” Buffy glanced up at him playfully as she bent down and retrieved the next item from the box at his feet: a black leather riding crop. She looked at it carefully then bent it slightly as if testing its flexibility. She released it and it sprung back to an upright position. Her green eyes met his again as she looked up at him with a wicked gleam in her eye.

“Uh,-” He struggled for words, a muscle in his cheek twitching. Angelus’ insistent demands to simply ravage her like a plundering barbarian went unheeded. He ran a hand over his eyes trying to compose himself. Thankfully she didn’t seem offended or disturbed by any of the things she had found, but what must she be thinking of him?

Fully aware of her lover’s discomfiture, Buffy continued airily, a teasing tone in her voice. “The woman who runs the shop – Mona – she was so very sweet. We were talking and, as it turns out, Angelus bought these *very* expensive things from her and so she asked if I would take them, since I …uh, knew him and well, know you.”

“I see.” Angel cleared his throat, “So, uh, what are you doing?”

“I’m sorting them.” Buffy replied matter-of-factly. Using the riding crop as a pointer, she gestured to the pile containing the gold chains. “These are yeses.”  She paused, smiling up at him. “These are the maybes,” she pointed at the stack in the middle which surprisingly contained the braided whip, and these,” she paused again, this time frowning and looking up at him with a slight admonishment as she pointed to the remaining group of items, “are the not on your life’s.”

Conflicting sensations of lust and embarrassment raced through him. If he could have blushed, he was sure he would have, yet at the same time he was more than a little intrigued, not to mention, turned on. Inside his head, his demon was objecting to her rejection of some of “his” toys and offering lewd suggestions about how best to show her that they would be enjoyable – at least for him.

Staring directly into his dark eyes, she placed the riding crop on her “maybe” pile. Her sparkling green eyes exuded a mischievous sensuality that beckoned to him.

Angel swallowed hard.

Buffy dropped her gaze and reached into the box, this time retrieving a black velvet jewel case. She let out a small gasp as she opened it, exclaiming softly, “Oh, Angel. These are beautiful.”

Angel glanced down as Buffy turned the box slightly so he could see what she was looking at.

Inside the box on the crushed black velvet were two delicate gold chains about two inches long with teardrop shaped rubies on each end. Another longer gold chain connected the two just beneath the circular opening at the top. Beneath them, nestled in the black velvet was another item: a “U” shaped clip. At the opening of each end of the clip there were two more strands of the delicate gold chain with three smaller teardrop shaped rubies suspended in a row along each chain.

“Earrings?” She questioned softly as she ran her finger lightly over one of the fine gold chains. She was intrigued by the unique and stunning jewelry. She glanced up at Angel where he stood next to the bed, still unmoving.

“But how do they stay on? And what is this clip thing?”

Angel’s eyebrows lifted at her question and he stared down at the objects in the velvet box, his mind filling with images of Buffy wearing the delicate gold chains with the rich rubies, the gold shimmering richly against her skin, the deep red of the rubies like drops of blood. He felt an immediate and essential need to see her clad in the exotic body jewelry.

With deliberate movements, he reached around her and collected all of the objects strewn on the bed, returning them to the box, which he then pushed aside. Almost as an afterthought, he bent and retrieved the riding crop, placing it on the bed next to her. He then took the jewel box from her hand and sat it down as well before returning his gaze to her face. His dark eyes were intense and Buffy felt a shiver of lust creep along her spine at the way he looked at her.

In the back of his mind, Angelus was still crowing loudly about “his” stuff and continuing with his apparently unending suggestions. Well it may be your stuff, but I get to play with it and with Buffy. Watch and learn. Angel smirked to his demon and shrugged out of his coat, tossing it onto the nearby chair. Angelus went silent, angry and pouting.

Standing behind her where she sat near the edge of the bed, Angel placed his hands on her bare shoulders.

Buffy felt goose bumps form along her arms at the light touch of his cool fingers stroking her skin, sliding from the nape of her neck to her shoulders then slowly down her arms only to reverse direction, retracing the now tingling path back until he reached the healing mark on her neck. He traced the mark with his fingertips as Buffy closed her eyes and tilted her head, his touch like wildfire to her senses.

“Those aren’t earrings, love.” His voice was low, husky and close to her ear. His hands slid down her arms as his lips brushed along the nape of her neck following the path his fingers were making along her skin. He was painfully erect and throbbing, his arousal blatant and straining in the tight leather pants.

“Trust me?”  He questioned in a soft purring whisper, nuzzling the healing mark on her neck.

The black and white Venus pearl earrings swung gently from the lobes of her ears as she turned her head slightly to look at the two objects that sat next to her on the bed. After only a brief pause, she turned her head further in order to see his face. Without hesitation, she nodded.

“Stay there.” He murmured against her ear, brushing it with a kiss as his hands dropped from her arms.

Angel moved silently around the room, lighting the tray of scented candles that now sat on the dresser before turning off the lamp and leaving the room dimly cast in a golden glow.

Buffy watched him as he stripped off his shirt and kicked off his shoes. She had always thought him the most beautiful creature, powerful and tall, graceful. So handsome she felt compelled to look at him whenever he was near, as if she hadn’t already committed every detail of his image to memory years ago.

Moving back to the bed and stopping behind her once again, Angel planted kisses along the nape of her neck and her bare shoulders, his hands once more running along her arms, his fingertips grazing her breasts through the black satin. His hands moved over her possessively, as if he couldn’t get enough of the feel of her. He inhaled deeply, savoring the intoxicating scents that encompassed her; the sweet vanilla fragrance that wafted from her skin; the delicious tang of her blood that called to him and her sweet-scented dewy sex, wet with desire.

“Stand up for me, love. Let me see you.” Stepping back, he leaned against the wall and waited.

Turning slightly, putting first one foot then the other on the floor, Buffy glanced briefly at the items on the bed next to her before she rose gracefully to her feet. With a tremulous murmur, she gestured to the outfit that she wore, “This was in the box too.”

Angel simply nodded, his eyes never leaving the arresting beauty of his mate. He was bewitched by the contrast of her golden innocence with the dark salacious attire she wore.

With his heated eyes watching her intently, Buffy posed for him, twirling in a slow circle as the heat swirling through her belly shot through her veins in a fierce surge of lust.

Her skin fairly gleamed against the black satin corset, the cinched in style minimizing her waist and pushing her breasts up in an almost ostentatious display. The corset laced up both the front and the back, the tightly pulled crisscrossing silk cord tied neatly into bows at the top. A matching black satin garter belt rested just above her hips, the garters framing the rounded curves of her behind and connecting to seamed black stockings. A g-string made of the merest wisp of fabric covered the neatly trimmed curls of her mound, revealing as much as it concealed. Her long muscular legs were exquisitely displayed in the sheer black stockings. Lastly, his eyes dropped to her feet and the shiny black patent leather stiletto heeled pumps encasing them.

His demon’s excellent choice in lingerie could not be denied.

She was temptation incarnate.

Buffy paused, having come full circle back around to face him. Her eyes shimmered with heated invitation as she stared back at him.

“Touch me.” She breathed softly, her words breaking the hushed silence.

Her breathy words pushing him in to action, Angel shoved away from the wall and took a step forward to stand directly in front of her. Bending slightly, he lowered his lips to hers as his arms encircled her waist.

Buffy tilted her head back as his lips settled on hers in a slow, leisurely kiss. His kiss was gentle and unhurried, intended to heighten passion yet not hasten it along to the inevitable conclusion. When she parted her lips under the insistent pressure of his, the velvety caress of his tongue swept into her mouth, exploring and tasting before intertwining with hers.

Her breathing quickened and Buffy’s hands came up to his arms. She gripped his biceps as his kiss grew more demanding, her mouth opening wider under his as his tongue probed with skillful, assertive insistence.

“Mmm. You feel so good, Angel.” She murmured with a breathy sign when he lifted his head slightly to allow her to take a breath. Her hips undulated against him, her high heels allowing the apex of her thighs to meet the hard ridge of his arousal in perfect carnal invitation.

“You look.” Angel whispered as he brushed his hand over her straining breasts. The plump mounds quivered with her every breath, threatening to spill over the top at any moment.  “.incredible.”

His lips brushed hers lightly with a kiss, “and you taste.” Grasping her gently behind the neck he pulled her to him and kissed her. a deep, heated intrusive kiss that ate at her mouth caused, he noted with satisfaction, her pulse to beat faster and her breathing to change to short, little pants. “.delicious.”

His gaze drifted from her closed eyes to her kiss swollen lips, then lower to the healing wound and reformed scar on her neck. He took perverse pleasure in the mark. It was a sign of his ownership, undeniable evidence that she belonged to him, wholly and completely. It reminded him of Buffy’s total acceptance of him. All of him: man and demon.

His fingers splayed over her narrow waist and hip as his other hand moved from her neck to the silken cord tie that held the corset together. With deft fingers, he loosened the fabric until he could ease it away from her body and slip it down past her hips to the floor. After helping Buffy step out of it, he tossed it aside.

He stood for a moment gazing at her, struck once more by her ethereal beauty. His golden Venus. His lover, his mate.

Reaching up, Angel cupped her bare breast in his palm. His fingertips stroked the outer curve gently as his eyes drifted over her, admiring her lush, opulent curves and satiny flesh in the golden glow of the candlelight.

“I love your breasts.” He whispered as his fingertip traced a lazy circle around one jutting nipple.  Taking the peaking crests between his forefingers and thumbs, he squeezed gently then with more pressure, watching as they engorged and hardened even more.

Buffy’s eyes drifted shut, her breathing hushed.

“Perfect, pink hard nipples.” Angel whispered, tugging on the taut peaks again. “Do you like it when I touch them?”

Her only reply was a soft moan.

“You have to tell me if you like it, sweet, or I won’t know how to please you.” He murmured softly, placing a soft kiss on her neck before tugging on the distended peaks firmly again. “Tell me. Do you like it?”

Her green eyes opened to look at him, her gaze tantalized, restless. “Yeesss.”

Smiling, he bent and flicked his tongue over one rigid nipple barely grazing it with the tantalizing caress.

Buffy shuddered at the delicate touch, her hands lifting to sink into the thick mass of his hair.

Angel shifted slightly, grazing the other taut peak with the same teasing lick.

“Annnggellll.” She whined softly, tugging on his hair in an attempt to draw him closer. Her back arched as she pressed forward, offering herself to him.

“Hm? Did you want something else, love?” He murmured, the query provocative with suggestion. Blowing a cool breath over one firm tip, he asked softly, “Do you want me to suck on your pretty little nipples then? Is that what you want?”

She nodded, unable to find sufficient air to speak and her fingers tightened in his hair.

He slowly drew the rigid jewel of her nipple into his mouth, teasing it with his tongue and teeth for long minutes until Buffy thought she would swoon. When she felt the first gentle sucking pressure of his mouth, a soft gasp escaped her lips. When the gentle sucking pressure increased to forceful pulls, Buffy whimpered at the bewitching rush of pleasure and clutched him tightly, holding him to her breast.

Her pulsed raced and little sounds of pleasure escaped her lips as he licked and sucked, his mouth closing wet and hungry over each cresting tip as he lavished them equally with attention, teasing them into hard arching peaks.

When her nipples were swollen, wet and engorged to his satisfaction, Angel lifted his head and reached for the jewel box on the bed.

Buffy opened her eyes and mewled softly in protest when he pulled away, but watched with fascination as he removed the delicate jewel chains from the box. The dark rubies glittered blood red in the golden candlelight while the delicate chains that held them appeared to be almost liquid gold.  While the chains looked delicate, they were actually designed to be exceedingly strong.

“They’re beautiful.” Buffy murmured softly her eyes flitting to Angel’s somewhat nervously.

“You’re beautiful.”  He whispered in reply, brushing her lips with a kiss. His gaze moved from her face to the taut peaks of her full breasts. He paused infinitesimally. “Still trust me?”

“Yes.” She breathed softly, her nerves tingling in anticipation.

She watched closely as Angel opened the circular fastening at the top of each of the two chains and slipped them around his fingertips. The teardrop shaped ruby swung slightly, suspended from his finger as he slipped the circular opening around one jewel hard nipple.  Buffy gasped when he pulled it closed with a quick jerk, adjusting it to fit tightly before fitting the other jewel on her other breast. The rubies dangled just above her ribs, while the third chain that connected the two dangled between her breasts. The rubies swung gently with each of her breaths, pulling on the snug pressure of the delicate loops and sending shockwaves of pleasure from her nipples through her body straight to her wet, heated core.

“Does it feel good, baby?” Angel murmured, his dark eyes fixed on her face as his hand toyed with the dangling jewels, flicking them with his fingers so they would swing, tugging on them gently.

“Tell me.” He softly prompted, his eyes dropping to the elongated crests of her nipples so erotically adorned with the jewels. They were exquisite on her, just as he had expected them to be.

She inhaled but said nothing, the insinuation in his voice tantalizing. She felt another flood of moisture between her legs, adding to the slippery wetness, her readiness for him. It both excited her and frightened her how much she craved this dominant side of him.

“Talk to me, love.” He whispered, flicking the dangling rubies with his fingers once again. He tugged on the suspended chain roughly and Buffy cried out softly at the painfully erotic sensation. “You want more?”

“Yesss.” She purred in a throaty contralto, her lashes fluttering as she opened her eyes. Her hands had slid from his hair to his shoulders were gripping with almost bruising strength.

“Want to try your other jewelry on now, sweet?” He brushed a kiss on each hard, rosy nipple then swirled his cool tongue around each engorged peak before biting down gently.

Buffy’s breath hitched as she nodded and murmured a barely audible affirmative reply. In the next instant, she gasped loudly as Angel ripped the tiny g-string from her with a quick tug.

“Pretty thing.” He murmured softly, tossing it carelessly away. A small smile graced his lips.

“Lie down for me, love,” Angel pulled her forward gently as he reached for the last item remaining in the black velvet box. “And spread your legs.”

Her breath coming in shallow pants, Buffy slowly laid back on the big bed her legs dangling down the side. She parted her thighs slightly, her muscles tensed in nervous anticipation.

Standing between her legs, Angel lifted her thighs and propped her feet on the bed. Running his hands slowly along her inner thighs, he eased them apart while savoring the feel of her heated, silken skin beneath his palms.

Buffy’s eyes closed under the riveting sensation of his touch as his fingers brushed over her rosy, swollen vulva. She moaned deep in her throat as the flames of desire licked at her every nerve.

“You’re beautiful, sweetheart.” He said quietly as he adjusted the bend of her knees and pushed her thighs further apart, leaving her beautifully and intimately exposed to him.

“So hot and wet for me.” The low, husky whisper of his voice drifted over her as his fingers parted her pouty folds, opening her and massaging the pliant flesh with gentle, erotic caresses.

His fingers were cool on her as they danced over the throbbing, engorged nub of her clitoris, rubbing it gently before dipping between her folds to slide inside. Buffy felt a quiver race through her senses, and she trembled, suddenly feeling close to the edge of climax.

As he leaned down, his hair brushed her thigh with the lightest brushing caress and she stirred restlessly on the bed. In the next instant, his tongue slid over her dewy wetness and Buffy arched her back, stifling a scream in her throat as the liquid evidence of her desire flooded his tongue.

“Let’s try this, shall we?” Angel planted a soft nipping kiss on her inner thigh, his fingers once more drifting over her wet cleft.

Buffy was unable to reply, her words stifled by the intoxicating sensations consuming her.

Taking the jeweled u-shaped clip in his fingers, he slid the opening carefully along the taut flesh of her clitoris from the top, forcing it down until it fit snugly around the engorged nub. The clip fit tightly as it was meant to, the device designed to create more powerful orgasms by pinching together the bundle of super sensitive nerves. The gold chain with the dark rubies dangled enticingly down either side of her succulent feminine opening, framing it perfectly for his attention.

Buffy let out a soft whimper when he released the jewel and Angel glanced up swiftly at her face. Assured that the small sound wasn’t one of pain, he covered her wet cleft completely with his fingers and squeezed gently.

She gasped, stunned for a moment as hundreds of tiny vibrations of pleasure crept over her, all seemingly concentrated at the gently imprisoned bundle of nerves between her legs.

Leaning back, Angel’s eyes swept over the enticing view of his mate’s body so erotically adorned. He reached down and flicked the tiny gold chains between her legs.

“Stand up, love,” He murmured softly, reaching for her hands. “Walk for me.”

Buffy whimpered softly when he helped her to her feet, closing her eyes tightly against the riveting sensations coursing through her body. She took a step forward and stopped, taking a deep breath of air as she absorbed the shattering sensation; a low almost indistinguishable moan vibrated in her throat. Her body was already on fire and the gently swinging rubies only added to the feverish desire.

Her eyes drifted open slowly and she turned around to look at her lover where he now lay lounging on the bed and watching her. She shifted her stance, clenching her legs together.

“Can you feel it?” His question was rhetorical. Her face was flush with passion, her eyes dark and internally focused, her breathing erratic.

The tiny vibrations continued to hum through her body in heated waves.

“Spread your legs for me.” His voice a silky purr as he lifted the riding crop from the bed.

“Buffy.” He commanded when she hesitated, her overwrought passions quickening with an alarming pace.

At the slight demand, she took a deep breath and shifted her legs easing them apart. The dark rubies appeared darker against her golden skin as the chains swayed slightly between her legs.

Lifting the crop he traced a path along one thigh beginning at her knee, up her hip and across her abdomen. He teased her belly button before moving up to her ribs and the under curve of her breast with only the lightest touch of the soft leather.

Buffy shivered, her skin rippling under the featherlike touch of the leather. She’d gone completely motionless when he had picked up the wicked looking black crop, but it had not slowed the tremors of desire that continued to bubble inside her. Desire now mixed with a hint of apprehension.

“Turn around.” He demanded softly, his eyes roving her; her strong and perfectly formed legs covered with the black silk, the rounded swell of her bottom framed by the straps of the garter, the firm smooth, muscles of her back. With the same light touch, he traced a pattern with the crop, moving slowly from the back of one knee to the curve of her behind.

“Did you like what you saw in the box, Buffy? Did it excite you?” He purred, as he continued the teasing brush of the riding crop along one hip. He was enticed by her lush beauty, her obvious passion, and the wanton display she made in her jewels and the black stockings. “Did it make you wet, thinking about the lascivious plans that Angelus had for you?”

“Yes,” Buffy breathed, barely able to speak, the tiny clip and the swaying rubies sending wild frissons of rapture coursing through her body, his voice adding to her feverish desire.

He was beside her then, moving so swiftly and silently that she hadn’t heard him get off the bed. She could feel the cool leather of his pants against the warm skin of her behind and she unconsciously shifted back to rub against in him a shameless cat-like caress.

One of Angel’s hands slid over her hip to splay across her stomach. Reaching around her with his other hand, he drew the tip of the crop up her thigh in a slow caress moving upward until it reached the very center of her desire.  Buffy’s breath hitched and her arms lifted over her head to twine around his neck.

Beginning at her knee, he guided the crop up her other thigh. This time when he reached the apex of her thighs, he slipped the leather rod between her legs, tracing her wet and swollen cleft.  He held her tightly against him, his lips nuzzling her neck as he guided the crop between her legs, moving it with steadily increasing strokes. The liquid evidence of her desire coated the shaft as it slithered between her legs with his increasing friction.

Buffy’s head dropped back against his chest in abandonment, her hips writhing against the sweet pressure and gentle friction.

“Do you like it, sweet?” Angel murmured against her ear, his voice low and husky, “Do you want me to touch you?”

“Yes. yes. Angel. please. whatever you want.” Her voice drifted away, all her senses focused on the hot pulsing core of her body as the trembling rapture intensified. She was hovering just on the brink of ecstasy, her own wetness running down her thighs in lush profusion.

“Mmm. What I want.” He whispered, a faint smile on his lips. “.is to make you scream with pleasure.”

He pressed his erection firmly against her bottom as he stopped the motions of his hand, drawing the riding crop away from her wet and quivering flesh. After a breath-held moment, he struck her with it, the crop swinging with a soft swish in a carefully applied stroke to the sensitive and distended flesh of Buffy’s clitoris.

“Annhhh-geell!” Her scream was loud as it accompanied the first glorious spasm that washed over her, followed by the countless sublime peaking orgasms that curled through her with such savage intensity that she thought she would explode.  His arm tightened around her waist when her knees buckled and he held her against him until the quivering sensations subsided. She was panting softly, her breathing the only sound in the hushed room.

“Oh god.” She whispered, her eyes opened slowly and she lazily rocked against him, not wanting to relinquish the blissful rapture still strumming through her body.

“I never. That was.”  Her voice was touched with a bit of wonder. “Oh.”

“Amazing?”  He smiled at her, his hand moving up from her stomach to cup her breast as she regained her own footing.

“Mmm. no, way better than that.” Buffy purred softly as she stretched upward. She flinched slightly when she moved, feeling the jewel between her legs exerting a now almost painful pressure on her hypersensitive clit.

“I love you.” He whispered against her ear, nibbling on the lobe. Leaning against her back, his hand slipped between her legs and he carefully removed the small jeweled clip from her body – a procedure which, given his nimble fingers and skill combined with the delicate touches, powerfully incited her desire.

“I love you.” She purred in reply, rubbing her bottom firmly against the ridge of his arousal that she could feel behind her. Turning to the bed, Buffy leaned over and placed her hands flat on the mattress. Looking over her shoulder at him, she parted her legs further in obvious invitation.

“So beautiful.” His dark eyes swept over the swell of her bottom, the long legs in the black stockings, her smooth firm back. Buffy’s head was down, her hands clenching the heavy comforter that covered the bed.  The dark rubies on their gold chains hung from her breasts still, swinging beneath her as she leaned on the bed waiting for him.

His erection straining against his pants, Angel moved behind her and leaned over her to press nipping kisses down her back along her spine. She jumped slightly when he bit down with blunted teeth on the rounded curve of her ass and he smiled against the firm flesh.

Buffy felt the smooth leather of the riding crop brushing along her spine, moving lower across the dimples in her back before moving with lingering slowness over her behind.  She inhaled sharply when the soft leather swept over the puckered rosette between her bottom cheeks before traveling down to her dewy wet vulva.

A small needy moan escaped her lips as the crop came in contact with her sensitive and engorged clit. After a minute hesitation, Buffy rocked her hips against the leather object that was now stroking the sensitive spot with such delicious intent.

He continued the tantalizing enticement until her breathing became erratic and she was once more quivering with need. Dropping the riding crop on the floor, Angel replaced it with his fingers. He slid one finger inside her then a second as her back arched and her hips thrust back to meet the firm strokes of his hand.

“That’s it baby, show me what you want.” He whispered, leaning down to nip at her back. His other hand gripped her hip, guiding her and encouraging her movements.

Buffy immediately responded to the heat in his words, parting her legs wider and rolling her hips harder. She was flagrantly and wantonly open to him, her breath coming in panting gasps.

“Angel.” Buffy whimpered softly, bucking back against him provocatively. “Fuck me now. Please, baby.”

Her words his undoing, Angel unzipped his pants, shoving the leather down his hips and kicking then away.  Wanting her with a greedy desperation that was becoming habit, he positioned himself at the entrance to her body, rubbing the crest of his erection back and forth over her pouting lips for a teasing moment before he thrust inside her with barely restrained violence.

“Yes.” She crooned softly, bracing her arms against the driving thrusts as he withdrew almost completely before slowly, deliberately slamming into her again. Each thrust was deliberate, probing, complete.

As his hips continued their driving invasion, his hands roamed over her, stroking the curve of her bottom and hips, skimming her waist. He shifted slightly and pressed his chest to her back, his hands reaching under her and closing over her breasts, his fingers kneading the soft mounds of flesh.

Buffy gasped and arched into his hands and his fingers found the jewels dangling from her nipples and tugged. Her hips rocked against him in a restless fervor, soft cries of pleasure escaping her lips as each thrusting stroke reached home. Angel’s throaty growls only added to the rapidly increasing wildness of their mating.

He drove into her, over and over. She enveloped his senses completely: her breathy cries of passion sounding in his ears, the lush profusion of her liquid body heat nearly burning him, the scent of her arousal creating an erotic fragrance that filled his nostrils.

A primitive need for possession stirred.

Another low growl rumbled in his chest and his eyes flashed gold as his vampiric nature began to surface. Rather than push it away as was his habit, he savored it. His tongue traced a path over his teeth, as his fangs lengthened and his features began to morph.

Sunk deep inside her he paused, savoring the tight, wet, scalding heat that surrounded him. One hand cupped her breast, his fingertips rolling the tight aching bud of her nipple firmly, while the other hand splayed over the quivering tautness of her belly, holding her to him tightly.

She wiggled her hips and her vaginal muscles flexed, closing tightly and intimately around him. She felt him growl, the sound harsh and deep and he surged powerfully against her again. Buffy grew frantic as each impaling stroke drove her relentlessly just to the edge of release but not allowing her to spill over.

Angel nuzzled the nape of her neck, his fangs scraping.

Reaching up with one hand, she removed the black velvet choker that she wore, instinctively moving it out of his way. Her need was as excruciating as his.

He bit down, sinking his fangs in her throat in a primitive act of dominance and a wild cry escaped her lips as a delirious rapture arced through her. He drew on the bite, tasting her blood as he continued to move, pushing into her in a relentless act of possession.

The large hand on her stomach moved lower, brushing over her soft curls to probe intimately between her legs and suddenly she was there.

“Ahhnn-gell!”  Screaming his name, her voice high strung and fill of yearning, Buffy slammed her hips backward into his as reality fractured, hurling her into blissful, heated darkness. She heard only the sound of her thundering heart and the matching vibration of Angel’s purr, as he gathered her close and joined her in scorching, cataclysmic release.

After the shimmering rapture was reduced to manageable levels, they finally roused. Angel patiently removed Buffy’s jewels, including the dragonfly pins in her hair, then her garters and stockings as she languidly lounged on the bed. Actions which, given their current heightened sensual awareness, soon led to additional intimate pursuits.

Much, much later Angel tucked a very sated and content Slayer under the covers, smiling as she mumbled sleepily and clutched at him.

Closing his eyes and pulling her closer, he dropped a soft kiss on her hair.

It was good to be home.

On to Part XIV