Secrets & Lies, Part XV

Author’s Notes: Future-ish fic. Let’s see… Angel tells Buffy about his hunting expedition, Buffy tells Angel about their new addition to the family, they run into an old and unexpected ‘friend’ while out on a case, Angel calls Giles, Buffy plays with her favorite vampire and Cordy pays a visit to the Hyperion.

Warning, Spike mentions, bashing and character death. If you’re a fan of Captain Peroxide, you will not be amused. Alessandra, sweetie – you may want to skip the whole conversation with Giles okay?

Buffy’s book: The Laughing Corpse: Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter
Hamilton, Laurel K..: Club Vampyre:The Laughing Corpse: New York: Berkley Publishing Group: 1994. (p 329)

Cliff warning at the end.

Once again I want to say thanks, thanks, thanks to everyone for such wonderful feedback! *smooch*

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

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

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: Jun 16, 2003

“So, are you ever going to tell me how you got skewered last night?” Buffy asked casually as she sat down on the bed. It was just after nine in the evening, the day having been spent in the leisurely pursuit of pleasure until just a few short hours ago when they had risen from the bed. Buffy showered while Angel made dinner, then she ate her dinner while Angel showered, the two of them planning on going out shortly to check out one of Angel Investigations’ most recent cases and, time permitting, patrol.

Leaning back on her hands, she watched Angel with avid interest as he dressed, her gaze moving over his tall lean form. When he chose a pair of black twill pants from the bag he had brought in last night, pulling them on over his boxers, she sighed with disappointment. No leather pants tonight.  Maybe she could hide his other pants… just every once in awhile… maybe once a week.

Angel selected a shirt from the bag and pulled it over his shoulders. After several seconds, he reluctantly replied, “Demon. Big knife.”

“Any particular type of demon or are we just talking your garden variety generic demon?” She asked with a wry smile as she rose to her feet and came to stand in front of him. She began to do up the buttons on his shirt as he looked down at her with uncertainty and concern.

He had promised himself that he would be honest with her, that he would work harder to communicate with her. Still, it was another five seconds before he was able to bring himself to say the word.

“Shaqti.”

Buffy froze, her eyes staring at her hands. After a brief pause, she finished the last button almost shakily.

“Oh.” She exhaled softly, her eyes wide with remembered horror as her mind filled with the images of the demons that had attacked her years ago. She could almost hear their panting breath and feel their pudgy hands on her body as they swarmed around her. She closed her eyes tightly, fighting off a wave of nausea along with the urge to release a rare hysterical scream.

“Buffy?” Angel lifted his hand to cup her face, his thumb brushing over the delicate cheekbone. Her silence and pale complexion heightened his own fears for her instantly, tightening his gut and twisting his heart. Maybe he should have waited to tell her. “Sweetheart?  Are you all right?”

“You- went after them?” She whispered, her voice thick with emotion.

Without hesitation or delay, he replied. “Yes. For you. And for Liam.” The baby’s name came out as the merest whisper.

Buffy closed her eyes tightly as tears threatened. Her arm curled protectively over her stomach in an unconscious, instinctive gesture. She swallowed hard to quell the rising panic.

“I’m so sorry, love.” He whispered softly as he pulled her into his arms. His hands ran up and down her back in gentle soothing strokes as she buried her face against his chest.

“I know it’s too late to make a difference now… to make up for what you went through, for Liam. but I couldn’t let them live.” Angel’s eyes flashed with pain and hatred, his words grim. He and his demon raged at the terror the demons had inflicted on his mate. His heart ached for her, for everything she had lost, for all that she had had to endure alone. “I couldn’t leave any of them alive to hurt you or anyone else again. They’re all gone.”

“Are you sure?” She asked in a small voice, one small hand clutching his back, her face still pressed against the firm wall of his chest. In the safety of his arms the terrifying images gradually began to recede.

“Yes, I’m sure.” He affirmed, kissing the top of her head gently. It occurred to him then that he should have Nikkos do a locator spell for him just to be certain.

Buffy’s hands gripped his shirt tightly, but she didn’t reply.

Maybe if he had taken her with him, he reflected. Maybe if she would have had a chance to face the Shaqti herself it would have helped exorcise some of the painful memories. Still, he worried about her and about anything that might cause her heart to break. Even Nikkos said that he should consider her emotionally fragile until the trust in their relationship was solidly rebuilt.

“I would have taken you with me-”

“No.” Buffy interrupted, her voice muffled by his chest. It shamed her to admit it since, after all she was the Slayer, but she wasn’t sure she could face the Shaqti. The memories were too vivid and horrifying. The thought alone made her sick to her stomach. If she froze up at the mere thought of them, then how could she face one?

“I-I can face a lot of things, Angel, but I don’t think I could have- I wanted to… but I just don’t know if.” She trailed off, her voice almost apologetic. She bit her bottom lip, trembling slightly. It annoyed her, this near paralyzing fear. She was the Slayer, for Christ’s sake and they were just another type of demon that she should kill, doing her duty as the Chosen One.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time, Buffy. Let me take care of you.” He hugged her to him tightly planting a soft kiss on the crown of her head as he threaded his fingers gently through her hair. “Every once in a while at least.”

Buffy squeezed her eyes tightly and held on to him. After a few minutes, she whispered quietly.  “Thank you.”

They could take care of each other.

————————————————————-

Glancing around the kitchen and finding it empty, Angel paused for a moment before he opened the back door and went out into the yard. Following his senses, he walked around to the side of the house.

“What are you doing?” Angel smiled, bemused at the sight of Buffy standing on tiptoe and attempting to peer over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. He glanced over the fence, his height allowing him a clear view, but saw nothing of interest.

“Looking for Chloe.”  She replied, stepping back away from the fence and continuing around to the front of the house.

“Chloe?”  He questioned, his eyes now rapidly scanning the dark for someone as he followed her through the gate and into the front yard.

“We should feed her before we go out.” Buffy said matter-of-factly, bending slightly to look under the various shrubs that lined the house.

“Who is Chloe?” Angel inquired warily. He was not at all sure he was going to be happy with her answer.

“Our cat.” She replied, her tone firm.

Our cat?” His brows lifted. Although to be honest, he half-expected that to be her answer. Oh, a snack? The demon perked up, questioning happily.

“We can’t just leave her homeless.” Buffy answered turning to look up at his face briefly before continuing her walk around the front yard.

A soft meow and a body swarming around his legs alerted him to the fact that “Chloe” had just made her appearance. He tripped slightly to keep from stepping on her as she wove in and out of his legs, rubbing against him.

At Angel’s stumble, Buffy looked back over her shoulder and quirked an eyebrow at him.

“I think I found the cat.” He said with a shrug before she could tease him for his clumsiness.

“Oh, Chloe sweetie, there you are.” Bending, the petite Slayer swept the gray fluffy cat into her arms, the loud purring of the creature beginning almost immediately. “I have your dinner for you.” She started back around the house again.

“Sweet, she probably already has a home.” Angel said, following behind as she sat the cat down on the back porch in front of the dish of food.

“But she was so small and skinny… if she did they weren’t taking care of her.” Buffy murmured softly, petting the cat one last time as she began scarfing up the bits of chicken on the plate.

“Buffy, love, you can’t just take someone’s pet.” He chided softly, eyeing the purring gray ball of fur somewhat doubtfully.

“Okay then, I’ll try to find her home – if she has one.” Brushing her hands off on her jacket, she walked over to where he stood. Gripping the soft lapels of his leather jacket, she swayed against him. “If not, can we keep her? Please.”  Her bottom lip stuck out slightly in a pout, her eyes under the thick veil of her lashes looking up at him pleadingly. “Please.”

Angel sighed. He couldn’t refuse her anything. “Fine, but I will not call that thing Chloe.”

With a happy squeal Buffy rose up on her tiptoes and kissed him fully on the lips. He might say that now, but she knew he would.  Eventually.

————————————————————-

Ten minutes later, Buffy slid into the front seat of the black Plymouth next to Angel. They were going to check into one of Angel Investigations’ latest cases: a woman had reported that her husband had recently been coming home with suspicious looking marks and large credit card charges. She suspected that he was having an affair and wanted proof. Normally it wasn’t the kind of case that the AI team would take, but the marks sounded enough like vampire bites that it seemed worth checking out.

As they parked just down the street from the two-story neglected building in Rancho Palos Verdes, Buffy thought back to Riley and his experimentation with vampire bites that had started just before he left Sunnydale. Her instincts told her that they would find something similar here.

“So I’m thinking that if this really is the big suck fest that we think it is, then it would make sense for me to go in and pretend I’m a wannabe customer. I can scope it out, see how many vamps we’re looking at and then we can commence with the staking.” Slipping a stake up her sleeve, Buffy climbed out of the car. She tucked another stake in the waistband of her skirt, hiding it under her jacket.

“Buffy, that won’t work-” Angel began, only to groan as Buffy yanked open the door to the building and walked determinedly through it. With preternatural speed he followed her, grabbing her hand just as she stepped through the second set of doors and into a meticulously decorated lobby. A fountain gurgled to one side of the posh lobby next to a leather sofa. On the other side, heavy velvet curtains cordoned off the small room from the rest of the building.

“Angel, someone is going to see you. And why won’t-” Buffy scolded in a quiet whisper, her words stopping abruptly when a beautiful platinum blonde stepped through the curtains.

“Angelus?”

They both looked toward the sound of the voice. The woman approaching them was a slender platinum blonde, a Marilyn Monroe likeness in appearance. The black dress she wore clung to her voluptuous form, her breasts nearly spilling out of the low cut neckline. With each step, the entire length of her leg was teasingly revealed by the high slit that ran from her feet up to her hip.

“It is you!” The woman said with a touch of awe, her eyes moving over the tall vampire eagerly, almost worshipfully. She glanced at Buffy dismissively and reached out to run her hand down Angel’s arm. “I’ve heard so much about you. I never expected to see you here.” She moved closer, touching each button on his shirt with her fingertips.

The blonde continued her enamored gushing and adoration of Angelus in a high breathy voice, her hands flitting over him with an eagerness Buffy found incredibly irritating. Her eyes narrowed at the nerve of the woman – no, correction, vampire – that dared to touch her Angel so intimately. He was hers. The Slayer shifted forward even as Angel stepped back, retreating from the woman’s continued petting. Apparently Angelus was something of a celebrity in the vampire community or at least he had one very adoring fan.

With her hand held firmly in his, Angel could feel Buffy’s anger rising as Sophie, as she finally introduced herself, flirtatiously suggested that they step inside and get better acquainted. With a dazzling smile directed at Angel, the blonde vampire turned and led them through the velvet curtain. Buffy attempted to shake her hand free to slide her stake out of her sleeve, but Angel held on tightly. They would have to play out the charade now.

There were a dozen or so men and women in the lushly appointed room, several of them entwined on the soft, overlarge sofas, while others reclined at low tables on stacks of pillows scattered on the Turkish carpet. One couple actually appeared to be having sex on a small divan in the corner, the female vampire’s fangs buried in the man’s arm as she moved over him.

On a low dais, a beautiful Asian woman swayed gracefully in a provocative, sensual dance. Her eyes lit on the two newcomers to the room and widened slightly in surprise. She shifted her stance slightly, her eyes now trained on the tall dark haired vampire that had entered the room, as if she now danced only for him. Her hips beneath the turquoise Chinese silk moved in a slow, hypnotic rhythm, the dance intended to arouse, to primitively and seductively provoke the animal instinct.

When the music ended less than a minute later, a tall and handsome blonde man stepped out of the shadows along the wall, clapping loudly. Unlike most of the other men in the room, this one was also a vampire.

“Mei Ling, gentlemen.” He announced to the room as he reached up to take the hand of the Asian woman, helping her gracefully step down.

A round of applause sounded, several men coming to their feet and immediately surrounding the incongruous pair: he was tall, blonde and golden, almost Nordic in appearance, she was petite, dark, exotic. Ignoring the men petitioning for her attention and excusing herself from the man holding her hand, Mei Ling made her way straight to where Buffy and Angel now stood.

“Darling.” The exotic beauty cooed, her deep red lips curving into a lush, intimate smile directed at Angel. Immediately, as if Buffy didn’t exist, she pushed between them and pressed herself against the tall vampire familiarly.  “It’s been years and years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen you since Macao.” Her words were filled with suggestive innuendo, her eyes and hands roving over his chest and shoulders eagerly.

As if Sophie’s continued fawning adoration and increasingly unsubtle suggestions hadn’t been enough of an aggravation, now she had the obvious familiarity of the incredibly beautiful and exotic woman pawing her mate. Buffy jerked her hand free from Angel’s grasp, her gaze an icy glare as she whirled around. Regardless of the six or so other vampires in the room, she prepared to draw her stake. Enough was enough.

Realizing her intent, Angel abruptly shook off the two clinging women with some excuse that Buffy didn’t even hear in her current state of rage. His arm circled her tightly and he walked the two of them across the room. He stopped when they reached the wall, just next to a long bar. The two men seated at the bar, glanced at them curiously through bleary eyes.

With a pout and look of disappointment followed by a hostile scowl at Buffy, Sophie turned on her heel and flounced out of the room. Mei Ling watched them thoughtfully for a moment before crossing the room to join the blonde vampire where he talked to two men seated in lounge chairs against the wall.

Angel took Buffy’s hand and lifted it to his lips and his arm encircled her waist. Her silence warned him that it was going to take more than a little diplomacy to soothe her temper.

“You could have warned me.” She hissed through clenched teeth, attempting to pull her hand from his grasp. “So, what, are we in a vampire whorehouse?”

“If you would have waited for one minute I would have. And yes, that’s a close enough description.” Leaning down, Angel whispered in her ear.

“Yes? Yes?! Then just how do they know *you*?” Crossing her arms over her chest, she leaned away from him, glancing up tempestuously.

“It’s not what you think.” He answered brusquely, shooting a glare over Buffy’s shoulder until the man at the bar openly staring at them picked up his drink and moved away.

“And what do you think that I think?” Her eyes blazed with anger and no small amount of jealousy.

With a lift of his eyebrow, Angel inched closer. Their hips were almost touching, his tall form looming over her. “You’re adorable when you’re angry.” He teased, hoping to defuse her fury. While he had expected to find vampires inside the run down building, he had not expected to know any of them personally, nor them to recognize him. Now cognizant of the eyes upon them, watching them closely, he ran his hand up her arm to her neck possessively.

“That’s not an answer.” She murmured in a harsh whisper, even as a faint tingling sensation flared at his touch.

“It’s true.” Shifting closer, he gave her a smug, intimate smile. His fingers continued to caress her neck, lazily circling his mark.

“I do not like that Mei Ling person, er vampire. She can just meet Mr. Pointy.”  Buffy murmured spitefully, as the woman in question crossed her line of vision to the right of Angel’s arm.

“Just ignore her.” Threading his fingers through her hair, he tugged her head back slightly and leaned down to brush her jaw with a kiss.

“You apparently didn’t ignore her, Angelus.” She sardonically muttered, recalling the woman’s earlier mention of some cozy and no doubt sexual interlude years ago.

“I didn’t know you then. That was over 140 years ago.” He murmured softly, looking down at her face.

“Darla didn’t mind sharing?” Buffy muttered acerbically, her eyes scrutinizing the room and counting the vampires. “Five women, the blonde guy, the bartender and Sophie, who left the room. Rest of them, human.”

“No.” Angel’s mind flashed back to a dim memory of a threesome with Darla and Mei Ling. His demon had never been one to say no to the company of beautiful women, and they had spent considerable time together traveling through Asia.

“Well, I do.” Buffy fiercely declared, her eyes narrowing as she glanced over his shoulder once again in the direction of the woman in question. Mei Ling was now looking at them interestedly.  “I don’t share.”

“I don’t either.” He leaned forward and kissed the bite mark on her neck, sending shudders down her spine. It was an incongruous statement perhaps, from a man that had uncaringly shared all the women in his life without regard, that is, until Buffy.

“Every vampire in here knows you’re marked, sweet. Marked as my mate.” He nipped at her with blunt teeth, a low possessive growl sounding in his chest and Buffy felt goose bumps rise on her arms and shoulders. His hand once more tugged her head back, the tone of his voice proprietary. “And even if they chose to ignore that, they can smell my scent on you. All over you.”

Buffy looked up at him with half closed eyes as the familiar heat snaked through her body. Even in a room filled with danger, a half a dozen or so vampires behind them and who knew how many in the rooms above, she felt the tingling swirl of desire move through her body. She should have realized that the other vampires would have known those things, but she honestly hadn’t stopped to think about it. She’d done her job as the Slayer for too many years without such things as her scent or the scar on her neck even being a consideration.

Her breath hitched, knowing that Angel was aware of her sparking desire, that he could sense her arousal by her body heat, her scent. His hips pressed to hers again and she rocked her hips slightly to rub her belly against the growing ridge of his erection.

“Then why don’t those whor-” She began somewhat breathlessly, her hands reaching up to grip his arms.

“Darling, I’m so sorry to interrupt.” Mei Ling’s voice sounded next to them, breaking into their conversation. Despite her words, her tone was far from apologetic. “Surely you can spare a few minutes for an old friend? A walk down memory lane?”

“Wait.” Whispering softly in her ear, Angel released Buffy and turned to the vampire now standing next to them.

Buffy knew as well as Angel that it could be foolhardy to simply begin staking the vamps in the room, even though they could easily take the relatively small number that were present. They needed to know how many more might be upstairs, and they hopefully, would find Joshua Murray, the reason they had taken the case in the first place.

Allowing the Asian beauty to take him by the arm, he walked across the room with her. He could casually ask her what they needed to know and then he and Buffy could do their job and get out.

With a disgusted sigh, Buffy sat down at the bar. Annoyed as hell, she drummed her fingers on the smooth lacquered finish of the bar. The bartender, another vamp, smiled at her hesitantly and poured a glass of Jack Daniels. He sat it in front of her and returned to the other end of the bar. When the trilling laugh of Mei Ling sounded behind her, Buffy, in a fit of pique, reached for the glass and gulped the amber liquid down in one shot. She gasped at the stinging burn of the alcohol, unused to the potent liquor. She refused to turn around. The last thing she wanted was to see the woman draped intimately over her Angel.

“Hello there.”

Buffy glanced over disinterestedly as the tall blonde vampire sat down next to her. He was the same man that had helped the bitch-in-heat down from the dais earlier after her dance.  He introduced himself as Lucas, the “proprietor” of “this fine establishment”. He straightforwardly admitted that he was a surprised to see Angelus there, and no, he didn’t know him personally, but knew *of* him from various sources.

Lucas didn’t say as much, but he was very surprised that Angelus had taken a mate – and a human one at that. Still, he assumed that since the two of them were there that older vampire intended to share – which, on closer inspection of the tiny blonde, he was more than happy at the prospect. She would undeniably be a woman with strong sexual appetites if she were indeed servicing the Scourge of Europe; particularly if everything he had heard about that legendary vampire were true. It certainly wasn’t the first time a couple had come in to his little operation seeking to add some sexual adventure to their lives.

“Let me entertain you for awhile, darling. Just like old times.” Mei Ling purred suggestively, glancing over Angel’s shoulder. She smiled. “There’s absolutely no need to worry about your little miss. She’ll be well taken care of.”

Angel swung around abruptly to look at the man now talking to Buffy.

“I’m sure she’ll like Lucas. He’s quite remarkable in bed, although a bit rough. If I remember, correctly, he doesn’t have your finesse with um… certain things.” Pressing her breasts against his arm, she reached up to touch Angel’s face, his hair. “If she can take you on darling, then I’m sure she’ll be able to handle him.”

“I don’t think so.” His voice was flat, curt. He jerked away from her wandering hands and the woman pouted slightly.

Finally daring to look at her lover where he stood across the room with Mei Ling, Buffy gritted her teeth. The woman was trying to wrap herself around him like a vine. With her mossy green eyes glittering angrily, she turned back to Lucas and smiled up at him prettily.

Angel pressed his lips together, his temper barely leashed as the man touched Buffy on the arm. A burst of fierce jealousy ate at his self-control.

“She’s adorable, darling. Feisty.” Mei Ling purred, her dark exotic eyes lingering on the Buffy. She writhed against his side in primitive rhythm. “And human. I’ll bet she tastes delicious.”

Once more Buffy looked across the room. Her gaze found and held Angel’s for a moment before she returned her attention to Lucas.

Angel pulled away from Mei Ling, done with the charade. The Asian beauty had been forthcoming with only small bits of information, hardly enough to continue his discussion with her or to leave Buffy to be pawed by that insolent whelp.

Mei Ling grabbed his arm tightly, forcing Angel to turn back and face her. A thrill coursed through her; she preferred violence with passion. His hostility excited her beyond measure. “Perhaps you would like to beat me tonight? Release some of that delightful anger and frustration?”

“That’s a thought.” Angel replied absently, turning his gaze back to watch Lucas lean over to whisper something in Buffy’s ear. The man’s blonde hair was too close to Buffy’s own golden mane, his smile too intimate. Angel flexed his fingers to ease his tension, his anger steadily building.

“Come with me now, darling. I have a nice room upstairs that I know you’ll like.”  Her tongue ran provocatively over her painted red lips, her dark eyes almost pleading, “I was wet the moment I saw you.”

He could feel the swell of her breasts once more pressing against his arm, her hips against his thigh. Still, his gaze had not left the man touching his mate with the hand that he would no longer be allowed to keep.

“No.” Angel replied bluntly, glancing down at the woman still gripping his arm tightly.

“You’re jealous? Of her?” Mei Ling questioned with surprise. In all her experience, she had never known Angelus to care about exclusivity. His concerns had been his own pleasure and convenience; outside of that, he seemed disinterested in what other activities Darla or Druscilla pursued. “That’s so unlike you, darling. And a human mate.” The dark silk curtain of her hair shook and she moved her head, “It’s incomprehensible, really.”

Without replying, Angel turned back and started in the direction of the bar. Only now, Buffy and Lucas had disappeared completely from the spot where they had sat. A sudden burst of panic assailed him. Concentrating for a moment, he bolted for the stairs.

Angel kicked open the door of the bedroom on the right just in time to see Buffy drive her stake in to the vampire’s chest. Behind him, Mei Ling shrieked. She clutched at Angel’s arm as if for protection.

Dusting her hands off, Buffy turned to face the couple at the door.

“Can you believe that creep?” The petite blonde Slayer shook her head. “He actually thought that I would have sex with him. And that he could bite me. Honestly.”

Buffy smiled tightly at Angel before her gaze shifted to the woman still clinging to his arm.   With an exaggerated swing in her hips, she stalked toward them, a graceful beautiful predator.

A door in the hall opened behind them, a shirtless man peering out to check out the commotion. Three pairs of eyes swung around to face him.  Buffy and Angel recognized him immediately: it was the man in the picture for the case file, Joshua Murray. Sure enough, they had found him. Frightened, the man slammed the door.

Turning back, Buffy gave Mei Ling a brief look of warning as she growled, “Hands. Off. My. Boyfriend.”  Raising her stake she drove it into the female vampire’s heart, watching with satisfaction as the exotic beauty turned to dust.

With his own angry growl, Angel slammed the door closed behind him. The ashes of the recently staked vampire swirled in the breeze kicked up by the motion of the door. Neither occupant of the room noticed or cared.

“Angel?” Buffy questioned softly as he advanced toward her. She could feel his anger and it gave her a momentary pause. He rarely, if ever, turned his anger on her.

He continued forward and she retreated until her back was against the far wall.

“You shouldn’t have left with him.” He ground out as he surveyed her through narrowed eyes. Placing his palms on the wall on either side of her head, he leaned forward pinning her against the wall with his weight.

“Was Mei Ling not entertaining enough, darling?” She mimicked the endearment, her mossy green eyes stormy and turbulent. “Maybe you could have found Sophie. I’m sure she would have joined you for a threesome. It would have been just like old times.”

“Why would I want that?” He whispered hotly, his mouth coming down on hers with a ravenous hunger. His head lifted moments later and one of his hands reached around her to cup her behind, dragging her against him with barely restrained violence. “When I can have your hot sweet little body?”

“Maybe you can’t.”  She replied heatedly, even as her body flooded with the liquid warmth of desire.

“You’re forgetting something, love…” He whispered softly, perceptively.  Assured, confident, he assessed her, his dark eyes filled with lust.  “I can smell your wet pussy a mile away.”

A wave of purely carnal heat infused her senses along with a small panic and she struggled slightly against his solid weight.

“Are you hot for me, love, or just any-”

Buffy’s hand lashed out to slap him and he grabbed it mid-air, his reflexes on par with hers.

With a wrenching twist he yanked her forward and tumbled her to the bed. In a primitive lust fueled by rage, jealousy and a primordial need for possession, he crawled over her. His temper revealed by the flashing golden eyes, he murmured with steely softness against her ear, “You’re mine.”  Pushing her skirt up to her waist roughly and forcing his knee between her legs, he settled between her thighs. His hips pressed hard against hers.

Buffy whimpered softly as he moved between her spread legs, the hard rigid length of him triggering a thousand pleasurable memories. Like bolts of lightning, an answering heat flared in her body with wild, rapacious jolts.

“And I don’t share.”  With a shameless smile, he reached under her skirt and tore her panties from her, tossing them carelessly aside.

“I don’t either.” Buffy snapped, gasping, as his full weight settled on her. Reaching up, she wrenched his shirt open. Somewhere nearby a button landed on the floor with a soft ping and rolled away. She ran one palm down his chest firmly, her nails curled and digging into his skin.

Their eyes met – her mossy green eyes insolent, his rich chocolate ones intractable, restive.

She was the first to move, her hands descending to his belt. One hand began to unclasp the buckle while the other moved lower to squeeze the bulge of his erection.

“I’m going to fuck you. Hard.” He murmured softly, his gold eyes belying the subdued tone. His hand traced an ungentle path along her thigh, moving steadily closer to the damp apex at the top. When his fingers slid between her legs, Buffy moaned softly.

She was shamelessly wet and so ready for him that Angel felt his erection surge powerfully in response. Her hips lifted to meet him as he unbuttoned his pants in a seeming blur of motion.

“Mine.” He whispered, his voice low and intense as he slid into her with one smooth hard stroke. His lower body moved in a powerful punishing rhythm. “Now. Forever.”

With her breath coming in soft pants near his ear, Buffy tremblingly replied, “Yours. Always yours.”  She clung to him tightly, her nails digging into his back underneath his shirt.

His hands reached under her bottom, lifting her to meet each thrust and securing her for each stroke as he plunged down.

“Only mine.” He growled, tightening his grip as he thrust harder, deeper.  He drove into her again and again in a restless agitated rhythm.

Wrapping her legs around his lower back, Buffy clutched at him, urging him deeper.  She crooned his name softly, along with almost incoherent words of agreement as she writhed under him wildly. She was no longer grounded in reality, her need for him melting away into the explosive ecstasy that washed over her in a sudden burst of sensation.

As her body rippled around him in tiny heated convulsions, Angel felt the same approaching wild passion. His fevered lust was coupled with a need to possess her that was so violent that he shuddered, his fangs lengthening and his features changing. His fingers bit into the tender flesh of her behind as he moved harder, his lower body slamming into her with increasing force.

“Love you.” He growled, his face lowering to her neck. Impatiently, he shoved her top down to reveal the upper curve of her breast. Nuzzling the lace cup of her bra down, he roughly licked at the taut peak of her nipple. His fangs pierced the soft, rounded mound as he released into her welcoming body with savage ejaculatory thrusts.

Buffy cried out softly at the stinging pain in her breast, but felt another explosive orgasm overtake her. Her arms and legs were locked around him, clinging to him with wild abandon.

As the dizzying sensations subsided, Angel felt a sickly remorse overcome him at his rough handling of her. He lapped at the new puncture wounds on her breast gently, apologetically.

“I love you.” He lifted his head, looking down at her face. Her hair was in wild disarray on the bed, her cheeks flushed and her lips slightly swollen from his kisses.

“I love you.” She breathed, her lips searching for his. Her eyes were still closed as she absorbed the last trembling vibrations.

It didn’t matter where they were, that they had come together in frustration, jealousy and anger. It only mattered that they were together.

“We… should…” She murmured quietly, bliss numbing her senses. She stroked his back, feeling chagrined at the nail marks she could feel that she had made in his skin.  “go… vamps…. downstairs.”

“In a minute.” Angel murmured, resting his forehead on the bed next to her ear.

When a degree of consciousness returned and they summoned enough energy to move again, Angel slowly withdrew from her. He brushed a kiss on her lips and sat next to her, slowly buttoning the few remaining buttons on his shirt.

“Buffy, I’m sorry. I-”

“Don’t even.” Buffy stopped him with a soft kiss. She blushed slightly, not meeting his eyes and she tugged her top up and smoothed her skirt down. “I like it, you know, when you…”

“When what, sweetheart?” His head came up abruptly and he looked at her where she now stood next to the bed. When she didn’t reply immediately, he tugged her hand to pull her forward to stand between his legs. He wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his head against her stomach.

“Tell me.”

“I like it when you’re like that. You know… take charge growly aggressive guy.” Her words were playful, but her cheeks were pink. She rested her hands on his shoulders as she looked down at him.

He pulled back slightly to look up at her, a wicked smile playing on his lips. “Do you?”

“Yes.” Buffy replied softly, her fingers toying with his hair.

“That’s nice to know.”  He stood and kissed her, relieved and more than a little thrilled by her admission. He quickly tucked in his shirt and fastened his pants.

Buffy retrieved her stake and they walked to the door, Angel’s hand lingering on her behind as they crept out into the hallway.

Inside his head, Angelus was cheering, That’s me, that’s me. Take charge growly aggressive guy.

You wish. Angel smugly replied to his demon before turning his attention back to the job at hand.

Together they made short work of the vampires that still lingered in the run down building, officially closing it down and sending the humans that had come for the addictive, dangerous thrill of a vampire bite, home. Officially it was considered as another case closed.

————————————————————-

The limo driver watched disinterestedly from the curb as the couple kissed again at the door.  He was getting a healthy sum paid in advance, so he didn’t mind the delay as the couple continued what was now going on almost fifteen minutes of groping. It was an easy few hours of work for nearly triple the money: take the woman to a spa in Santa Monica and then pick her up again eight hours later and bring her back. That some P.I. firm was picking up the tab was mildly interesting, but Tony had ceased being impressed or curious long ago.  Half a lifetime driving the rich and famous around Los Angeles tended to do that to a person.

He pushed away from the car and opened the door when the little blonde came down the walk, turning to wave at the man still in the shadows of the doorway. She smiled happily as she climbed into the car and Tony found himself almost smiling back, her mood infectious.

Wanting to give Buffy a treat, Angel had made arrangements at the Aqua Day Spa in Santa Monica. He had presented the indulgence as an early birthday present so that she’d accept it without hesitation, knowing after their conversation yesterday that she would be reluctant to accept such an expensive gift otherwise.  She’d been beyond excited about the surprise, however, which pleased him in more ways than one. Her enthusiastic acceptance had been met with his own and in mutual, unrestricted giving they had made the morning memorable. And, no doubt left a stain on the couch.

After the limo disappeared around the corner, Angel returned to the bedroom. He fished the small scrap of paper containing a phone number out of his pocket and retrieved his phone.

Returning to the kitchen as he dialed, he sat down at the table, listening to the static on the line before the phone on the other end began to ring.

Surprisingly, Giles himself answered on the second ring.

Angel greeted the former Watcher politely and asked about his health. After a few minutes of exchanging pleasantries, he switched the topic to the reason for his call.

“I have the Journal that you were looking for. I believe Connor, my son, stole it from your hotel room – it’s a long and rather sordid story that has more to do with trying to get back at me than anything else. I-”

“Well, that’s rather a good bit of news.” Giles interrupted, voicing his pleasure that the volume had been recovered. He seemed unperturbed at Angel’s explanation of how he got it, only relieved that it had been found.

“I read it. All of it.” Angel stated bluntly, his voice without apology.

The former Watcher’s raspy breathing was the only sound on the line for several moments. Finally, on a deep inhalation of breath, he spoke, “Well then, you must understand why I was bringing it to you.”

“To me?” The vampire’s brows lifted slightly in surprise. He turned the Journal over in front of him on the table.

“Yes, to you. Dare say I presume that eventually you will give it to Buffy?”  Giles replied weakly, his illness wearing him down. “She should know, don’t you think?”

“Why didn’t you just turn it in to the Council or to Wesley, like all the others?”

“I should have. I know that. Quite honestly, though, I was angry when I was relived from my duty as Buffy’s watcher. I was frustrated and infuriated with the Council’s stance over certain issues, as you’ve no doubt read if you have, indeed, read the entire volume. The more time that passed, the more I felt that there were too many things in that Journal that need not be shared with the Council or really with anyone for that matter.”

“Why?” Angel asked curiously, somewhat surprised at the former Watcher’s answers.

Giles coughed loudly, the sound muffled as he covered the phone. After several agonizing minutes, he wheezed and spoke into the phone again. “The council had become such a stodgy group of pompous asses with predilections and rules that had nothing to do with anything even remotely modern or current. They had simply never evolved. Power in the hands of those that had no idea how to wield it. it was something I could quite honestly no longer respect.”

Angel nodded slightly in agreement, but said nothing.

“Despite the many wrong things that I’ve done in my life, the many irrevocable mistakes that I’ve made, I do love Buffy. I love her as a daughter that I never had.” Giles continued at Angel’s silence, “Knowing the Council as I did and fearing their irrational behavior, I could never turn that journal over to them.”

“Is there a Council now? Did they reform?” Angel asked warily, needing to know if they would be a threat to either Buffy or their coming child.

“No, nor has there been one for several years. Oh, of course there have been several aborted attempts to start one. In one of the more ridiculous notions I can say I’ve heard, Spike even attempted to reform it at one time.” Giles chuckled weakly and reached for his nearby glass of water laced with laudanum.

“Spike?” Angel questioned, his eyebrows lifting in surprise. “We are talking about Captain Peroxide, here? Bleached blonde? Vampire?”

“Yes, one and the same.” Giles took a sip of water then continued speaking, “I suppose it was because he felt so noble now, what with his soul and all, not to mention knowledgeable in the years that he spent helping, or at least not hindering, Buffy. Needless to say, there was limited support for such a thing from those that would have needed to do so.”

“That’s understandable.” Angel didn’t have a problem with Spike if he wanted to fight evil along with the rest of them. Of course, he preferred that the bleached blonde vampire do it in some remote part of the world far, far away from Los Angeles.

“You know, I must say, even with his soul, he showed almost no signs of remorse for the things he had done. His ability to disassociate himself from his demon’s crimes was, well, rather remarkable.”

Angel said nothing. The burden of those his demon had killed weighed on him heavily and likely always would. Often he wished it was as simple as saying that having a soul erased the past, that he could just point a finger and blame the demon for it all. But a soul wasn’t a free pass to excuse past crimes as far as he was concerned. If anything, it was only that much more of a reason to seek to make amends. Redemption, should it ever come to pass, was a worthwhile quest.

“Where is he now?” The vampire asked with bored indifference.

“Oh, you haven’t heard? It’s a rather unusual story actually.” Giles chuckled, which turned into a cough. “The story was circulated so widely here that I was sure the news traveled back to the States.”

“No. What happened?” Angel asked curiously, his attention wandering as a faint mewing sound was coming from the backdoor.

“After Spike failed in his attempt to form a new Watcher’s Council, he tried to get back together with Druscilla. She, however, would have nothing to do with him, saying instead that she would prefer even the lowest Chaos demon to him. Spike then decided that his calling was that of an entrepreneur, so he attempted to start a line of Buffy-bot sex dolls.”

“Buffy-bot?” Angel questioned with a growl, his brows drawing together in a scowl. The demon snarled loudly in his head.

“Yes, robots that looked like Buffy but actually wanted to have sex with Spike. Or, whomsoever the purchaser was.”

Ignoring the vampire’s repeated snarling growls, Giles continued his story, “To start his new business, he borrowed heavily from some wealthy vampire out of Sicily. However, he didn’t have a clue how to manufacture these robots and after a rather pathetic attempt to build a model, he gave up and instead pissed the money away on alcohol, women and kitten poker games.”

Angel snorted. Figures, the demon muttered dryly.  The vampire opened the back door cautiously as the continued raspy meows grew louder.

“Say, is that a cat I hear?”  The former Watcher questioned, the sound heard clearly over the phone.

“Yes.” Angel replied almost grudgingly as he watched the gray ball of fur circle his feet.

“Oh.” Giles muttered softly. Cats typically were not friendly with vampires, the latter having more of an affinity with dogs or wolves, which usually meant that cats were wary and distrustful of them. Dismissing the unusual phenomena, he continued speaking, “He showed up at my door one day out of the blue, drunk and crying. The Cat Protection League had confiscated his kittens, and he was deeply in debt, not only to the Sicilian vampires that he had borrowed from but also to several others that he’d been cheating in poker. He begged me to hide him for a day or two until he could get out of town – which I reluctantly did. After all, he had been a help at one time. Not to mention, in the state that he was in I doubt that either I or Olivia could have gotten rid of him.”

Angel sat down at the table only to have the cat immediately jump up into his lap. She circled around twice then curled up in a contented ball.

On the phone, Giles kept talking, “He drank heavily the entire time he was here, confessing all of this along with several other rather sordid tales about the various and sundry ways he went about to earn a pound. Some of it rather disgusting, I must say. One evening, he went on endlessly about Buffy, how cold she was to him when he last saw her, how she would never love him. Apparently she had been somewhat resigned to a relationship with him, but in a rare show of pride he left instead.”

Giles cleared his throat uncomfortably, debating if he should mention the other startling revelation that the bleached blonde vampire had revealed to him. “He, ah, well, he also mentioned that he had once attempted to, um, well, force her to ah, have sex with him.”

“What?” Angel questioned sharply, his body tensing. The startled cat in his lap looked up at him, her claws gripping his leg. Muttering, he glanced down at the gray ball of fur and adjusted her slightly to release her claws, “Chloe, damn it. No claws.”

Clearing his throat once again, Giles reiterated, “Spike said that he had attempted to rape Buffy. This was several years back, I suppose. He said he wanted to prove to her that he loved her and that she loved him. I believe she stopped him and shortly after he fled to Africa where he ended up with a soul. If I understood his drunken mumblings, which is in and of itself questionable, he did not actually go for his soul per se but that’s what he got. He didn’t say exactly what he expected or wanted. I can only imagine.”

Angel growled harshly and the cat jumped down from his lap, turning to stare at him with wide eyes. The demon was snarling loudly in his head, the sound growing loudly. Spikey has to die, slowly and painfully. First, I crush his testicles.

“Where. Is. He?”  The vampire bit out sharply as Angelus continued reciting a litany of tortures for his grandchilde.

“He and Harmony had reconciled and were living in a run down flat in London. He was writing his dreadful poetry again and reading it at those coffee houses when he met with, what I guess you could say was a terrible accident.”

“Accident?”

Giles laughed, the sound turning to a sputtering cough. “Oddly enough, yes. As the story goes, he had just finished an off-key rendition of Rhinestone Cowboy. He was a regular at this particular karaoke bar, there at least once a week. He was on a western kick and would show up in rather flamboyant western wear, decorated with rhinestones and sequins and the like.”

“Harmony, apparently tired of his philandering and his constant bragging about what he seemed to consider the good old days before he had his soul, tipped off the Sicilian vamps as to his whereabouts. They, of course, found him and beat him quite badly. They left him on the roof of the building stripped naked with his feet encased in concrete. A waitress at the karaoke club that apparently had a soft spot for him, saw the red satin rhinestone shirt he had been wearing waving from the rooftop like some beacon, so she found him and helped him to escape.”

Angel resisted the urge to smile at the image the words created in his mind.

“If I understand correctly, he was throwing quite a temper tantrum about the whole thing back at his flat. He threw one of Harmony’s ceramic garden gnomes at her but missed and it sailed through a black painted window, shattering it to bits. The sun apparently fried him instantaneously. This was only six months or so ago. Not long really.”

Angel did laugh at the thought that in the end it was Spike’s own temper and a ceramic garden gnome that did him in. What a way for a vampire to go.  Damn, I so wanted to kick his lily-white ass too. The demon muttered petulantly.

After a moment of silence, Giles asked quietly, “I take it you read the translation of the prophecy as well then?” His weak voice was broken by a heavy sigh.

“Yes, I read it. It’s just a prophecy. It doesn’t mean it’s real or will happen.”  Angel replied, the cat once more settling in his lap now that he had ceased growling. He glanced down at it with consternation.

“No, no. You’re quite right. But, it is rather intriguing just the same.” The Watcher rasped, his breathing labored. “Don’t you agree?”

“Yes. It is.” Angel agreed, his thoughts shifting to what he had read.

“Angel?” Giles’ voice interrupted his musing. “The Journal is yours now. Do what you think is right with it.

“Thank you. And Giles? I’ll give the journal to Buffy.”

————————————————————-

Angel lounged on the bed where Buffy had asked him to wait when she had returned from her trip to the spa. Casually he picked up the book that she had been reading and flipped through it, stopping on the page where one of his worn Angel Investigations business cards now marked her place. Curiously he began to read,

“How do you know what compromises my soul?  You don’t have one anymore.  You traded your immortal soul for earthly eternity.  But I know that vampires can die, Jean-Claude.  What happens when you die?  Where do you go?  Do you just go poof?  No, you go to hell where you belong.”

“And you think by being my human servant you will go with me?”

“I don’t know and I don’t want to find out.”

“By fighting me, you make me appear weak.  I cannot afford that ma petite.  One way or another we must resolve this.”

“Just leave me alone.”

“I cannot.  You are my human servant, and you must begin to act like one.”

“Don’t press me on this Jean-Claude.”

“Or what, will you kill me?  Could you kill me?”

I stared at his beautiful face and said, “Yes.”

“I feel your desire for me, ma petite, as I desire you.”

 I shrugged.  What could I say?  “It’s just a little lust, Jean-Claude, nothing special.”  That was a lie.  I knew it even as I said it.

“No, ma petite, I mean more to you than that.”

The door to the bathroom opened and Angel guiltily dropped Buffy’s book and looked up. At the sight of his seductively clad mate, his mouth dropped open slightly in surprise.

Buffy crossed the room and stood at the foot of the bed in a red lace chemise, her body tantalizingly revealed by the sheer material. The low décolletage barely covered the gently rounded mounds of her breasts. Her upper chest and shoulders gleamed and sparkled in the low light of the room, lightly dusted with a shimmering powder.

“What did you have in mind sweetheart?” Angel asked softly, a smile on his lips as his eyes focused on a supple, curving thigh teasingly revealed by the high slit in the crimson silk.

Buffy stepped around the bed to stand next to him, her rich and lustrous golden hair rich falling forward as she leaned down. The long strands caressed his arm as the rich vanilla scent of her drifted over him.

“Well, I thought first I would kiss you all over and see if I could make you come from just kisses alone.” She murmured seductively, her hand pressing his chest gently to keep him on the bed when he would have rose to meet her, “Then I thought I would sit on you for a while. Do you think I could fit all that big hard cock inside me?”  She licked her lips while her eyes lingered on the erection now rising obviously beneath the black sweat pants.

Angel couldn’t speak, her words affecting him as powerfully as if he had just driven deep inside her.

Her eyes shimmered with heated invitation as her gaze drifted over him. She felt pretty and feminine in the red lace, all massaged and moisturized and waxed – as Angel would soon see. It was a heady feeling, being able to bring a powerful creature such as Angel to stunned silence. Any trace of hesitation or doubt about the acceptability of the crimson lace vanished at the heated look in her vampire’s eyes.

“Then I thought maybe I’d ride you until you were exhausted. Drained.” Her voice was low, husky, licking over him in seductive waves. “Slayer stamina, you know.”

Unable to move, mesmerized by the enchantress with the mossy green eyes, Angel swallowed hard. His arousal swelled almost painfully.

“Have you ever been tied up?” Buffy asked, an impudent gleam in her eye as she placed her knee on the bed and crawled over him. Swinging one leg over his waist, she straddled his stomach.

“Yes.” Angel replied after almost ten seconds, looking at the silk scarves she held in her hand. While he wasn’t necessarily adverse, he hadn’t often submitted to bondage. Only once in fact, a long time ago.

Detecting the hint of reserve in his voice, she asked, “You didn’t like it?”

“Not as a rule, no.” He replied, sitting up complaisantly to allow her to pull the t-shirt he wore over his head.

“But you will for me?” Her warm hands drifted over his shoulders, along his arms, caressing with long, lingering strokes. She delighted in the hard strength of his body, his size, his power. She shivered.

“I’d do anything for you.” He murmured, his eyes roving over her, his hands reaching for her eagerly.

“Ooh, be careful with those words there, big boy,” She teased, batting his hands away playfully. She tugged on the waistband of his sweats, pulling them from him along with his boxers as she scooted back on the bed. “I may get greedy.”

Angel smiled. “Don’t worry. I think I can manage.”  She crawled back up his body and shoved him slightly to lie back on the bed. She drew the gold cuffs that Angelus bought out from behind the curtain, where she had hooked them on the rings earlier. They were much too small for Angel’s wrists though, which is why she improvised with the scarves.

“Manage huh?” She tied a deep blue scarf around his wrist, looping into a bow. She smiled, pleased with her handiwork.

“You do realize I’ll expect my turn.” He grimaced at the bow, watching as she pulled his arm over his head and tied the scarf to the gold cuff tightly.

“You’ll want to tie me up next?” She smiled down at him, a lascivious thrill racing down her spine at the thought. She reached for his other wrist.

“Of course,” He replied as she tied the white floral print scarf around his other wrist.

“And then?” She pressed his arm to the pillow above his head, and tied the end of the scarf to the other gold cuff.

“Depends on what I’m in the mood for.” He gave her a wicked smile, raking her with a smoldering gaze.

“Mmm… Promises, promises. Know what I’m in the mood for?” She leaned forward, her breasts brushing teasingly against his chest.  Adjusting the pillow under his head, she kissed him, teasing him with her lips and tongue before nipping at his bottom lip.

“I can guess.” He murmured between kisses, the scent of her arousal obvious to him.

With one last kiss, she picked up the last scarf and tied it around his eyes. She moved to sit beside him on the bed, her eyes roving over him. He was fully aroused, his erection lying hard against his stomach. He lay still, patiently waiting for her next move.

“I’m wet already.” She purred in a low voice. Starting with his foot, she ran her hand over his leg and up his thigh.

“Show me.” He demanded, uncomfortable being submissive.

“Later.” She replied dismissively, her hand teasingly brushing over his erection with the lightest touch. “Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do this?”

“Hm?” Angel arched his back slightly, seeking the elusive touch of her hand.

“I thought about it since the day I first saw you practicing Tai Chi at the mansion. Do you remember?” Her fingers trailed up his chest, caressing him with delicate feather light touches.

“Yes.” How could he possibly forget? He stirred beneath her hands, waiting impatiently for each tantalizing touch of her fingers. Each time she drew near his erection, he tensed, the anticipation heightening his senses. He pulled slightly against the scarves holding his wrists and felt the silk tighten.

“Remember how you used to help me train? I’d go home so hot, so wet.” Leaning down, she lapped at his chest with the wet heat of her tongue. “So frustrated.”

“I know.” He murmured softly as her lips found his nipple, sucking it between her teeth. He remembered the many cold showers he took those evenings after she left, the many times he had masturbated to relieve his own sexual frustration.

“I wanted you so much. I wanted to throw you to the floor.”  Her lips left a warm, wet path over his chest as she kissed her way to his other tan nipple. “Mmm. then I wanted you to throw me to the floor. Rip my pants off. Have your way with me.”

Angel closed his eyes, completely shutting out the scant visual sensation he had through the thin silk and dropped his head on the pillow. He’d have to remember her words next time they did a little training.

Taking his face between her hands, she kissed him. A long, slow delicious kiss that promised unforgettable delights yet to come.

Moving back down his body, Buffy continued her trail of kisses first along his neck, then down his chest to his ribs and then to his taut lean stomach. Teasing his belly button with her tongue, she smiled as he writhed beneath her lips. “Ticklish?” She questioned as he jerked away from her again.

“Maybe.” He replied with a smile. He felt the bed dip slightly as she moved from his side to kneel between his legs.

His arousal jerked at the first warm breath that brushed over him, her hair falling over his groin in a silken caress. Her kisses were gentle as she traced a path up the long length of his erection first with her lips, then with her soft, wet tongue. Leisurely she explored him with her mouth, then with her hands, her fingers and lips moving over him skillfully. Her mouth was warm when she finally engulfed him, taking him deep in her mouth.

Under the blindfold, his world narrowed to the delicate warmth of her mouth and the exquisite intense sensation she was so easily provoking. The delicate scent of vanilla drifted to his nostrils along with the delicious musk of her arousal.

His size intoxicated her, his taste enticed her and she felt the heated warmth flood between her legs, a restless desire racing through her blood. When she heard him take a deep unneeded breath, she felt another surge of pleasure at the power she had in that moment. Beneath her, his hips lifted to meet her when she paused with only the crest of his erection between her lips. She smiled internally at the raspy groan that escaped his lips when she descended again to take him deep into the back of her throat.

Angel stirred restlessly on the bed, wanting to sink his hands into the silken mass of her golden hair, to cradle her head in his hands and urge her to move faster, deeper. Regardless of his wish to force the pace, she held him in thrall drawing out his pleasure by slow degrees until he erupted in her mouth with a harsh groan. Buffy swallowed his seed greedily then lapped at him with long slow licks as the vibrations of pleasure continued to hum through his body.

“Mmm… you like?” Buffy murmured softly, climbing over him to press her lips to his neck. She bit down gently. Beneath her, Angel’s chest moved in a low purring vibration.

“Hmmm… very much.” He replied, his voice a husky whisper. His erection stirred as she slid over his body, the red lace adding to the sensual feel of her breasts pressing against him. “Untie me.”  He squirmed beneath her, the silk on his wrists tightening again.

“Not yet,” she affectionately whispered, reaching up to untie the scarf from his eyes, “but you can watch now.”

His eyes opened and he blinked, his smile sudden and warm.

“Are you ready?” She whispered, inching up slightly. Her question was somewhat rhetorical. She could already feel the evidence of his readiness brushing against her behind.

“Yes.” He replied, his dark eyes roving over her.

Slowly she lifted the crimson silk, revealing her body to him inch by inch.

Angel felt a strangled moan in his throat at his gaze fell on her newly bare feminine flesh. He’d certainly seen it before but this was Buffy.

Buffy felt self-conscious as he continued to stare. “Um, you… don’t like it? It’s supposed to feel… more sensitive.”

“Buffy, baby, sweet, you look incredible. I love it. I love you,” he stammered, desperately searching for a control to the burning lust suddenly suffusing him. He strained against the silk, one of the scarves tearing slightly as he pulled. “Untie me and I’ll show you how much.”

Taking a deep breath, Buffy dropped the chemise off to the side. “For a second there I thought maybe you-”

Angel’s eyes shot up to her face. “No, baby, don’t even say it. You look fantastic. Come up here and I’ll prove it to you.”

Reassured, Buffy instead scooted back, gliding her wet cleft over the length of his arousal in languid excitement.

“Mmm… no. I think now I’ll sit on you. I want to make you come again.” She whispered, her eyes half closing as she reached between her legs to guide him inside her. “Would you like that?”

“Yes.” Angel closed his eyes as she lowered herself over him, her tight wet heat surrounding him.

“You want to come in me?” She murmured softly as the familiar insatiable hunger for him inundated her senses. She purred softly she began to raise and lower herself over him, “Fill me up with you?”

“Over and over,” Angel replied in a low husky whisper, bracing his feet and pushing up to meet her downward glide.

Buffy’s panting breath was the only sound in the room as she moved on him in a steadily increasing rhythm. He had taught her well, the subtle nuances of pleasure. She knew how to move, how fast; how slow; how hard; how deep. A faint sheen of perspiration covered her body as she continued to move over him, determined to take him to the very edge of ecstasy. Her own peaking desire steadily began to climb through her body.

She wanted him to fill her, to take her, to ravish her. She could feel him swelling inside her and she arched back, bracing her hands on his thighs. The frantic rush of her breathing increased.

With a quick wrenching tug, Angel tore one hand free. Cupping the back of her head, he pulled her forward and his lips found hers in a heated, intrusive kiss. He moved beneath her, his rhythm persistent and demanding as the melting pleasure rolled through her.

When the soft whimper escaped her lips, Angel surged upward forcefully again and his climax burst forth, exploding inside her in fierce eruptions of pleasure.  Buffy clung to him as the convulsive violence surged through her body with sensations so riveting, so acute that she collapsed insensate on his chest, a small inarticulate moan escaping her lips. Her golden hair streamed over his face, along his neck. She pressed a soft kiss to his shoulder and snuggled down on his chest.

Raising his hand to brush her hair back from her face, Angel smiled. The white floral print bow was still neatly tied around his wrist.

After several long moments, Buffy lifted her head to look down at him, a mischievous grin on her face. “Mmm… so, wanna do that again?”

————————————————————-

The next few days were happy ones, their daylight hours spent in companionable pursuits – reading, making love, talking, just enjoying their time together. Their evenings were spent patrolling or training, and of course making love.

There was only one moment that marred their perfect happiness: when Angel asked Buffy why she hadn’t told him about Spike and his attempt to rape her. Buffy replied flatly that it wasn’t any of his business, that he wasn’t involved in her life at the time and there was no need to dredge up ancient history. Angel strenuously objected and they argued, loudly. Of course, they made up less than two hours later – neither inclined to stay mad once the issued had been aired. Grudgingly Angel admitted that Buffy was right, that he couldn’t have expected her to call him when that happened since they hadn’t been in touch for months prior. For her part, Buffy said she understood his concern, but that he needed to remember that she could take care of herself. She wasn’t surprised to hear that Spike had gone poof, but she did feel guilty that she wasn’t upset by it.

Angel did give Buffy Giles’ Journal, warning her that she might find reading some of it painful. She looked at it for a long moment before she took it from his hand, then she tucked it away in the drawer next to the bed, saying she’d read it someday, when she was ready. In all honesty, Angel was actually relieved that she decided to wait.

When Angel decided to visit Connor, Buffy insisted that he go alone. She told him that she thought that he and Connor needed a little more time together, just the two of them. Their current circumstances, while ideal from her perspective, were probably not from Connor’s and she didn’t think it was fair to ask him to share the little bit of time he got with his father with her. There would be time, later, for her to get to know him.

Neither of them could remember a time when they had been happier.

————————————————————-

Angel doubled checked the dinner reservations he had made for Buffy’s birthday three times, then paced anxiously around the house while Buffy dressed.

His lips curved upward in a slow smile as she descended the stairs. The short black dress accentuated her golden beauty perfectly. Her hair hung down her back, the front strands pulled away from her face and secured with the emerald dragonfly clips. The pearl necklace he had given her earlier in the day was secured around her neck.

“You look beautiful.” He murmured, stepping forward to take her hand. She turned a slow circle in front of him.

“Thank you. You look pretty good yourself.” She replied, her eyes sweeping over Angel in his deep navy blue perfectly tailored Calvin Klein suit. She smiled, thinking how rare it was that he wore something other than his characteristic black. Of course, he could wear just the leather pants and that would be okay too.

“Thanks.” Angel opened the door for Buffy, silently thankful that Lorne had left his more flamboyant taste at home when he had called him for help in getting a new suit for the occasion.

Halfway through dinner, Angel’s phone began ringing in his pocket. The first time he ignored it, switching it to vibrate, but when it continued to hum on and on he finally pulled it out of his pocket and checked the number. Excusing himself, he went to the lobby of the restaurant and took Gunn’s call.

“What’s up?”  Buffy looked from her food when he returned to the table, immediately aware that something was wrong.

“Connor. He’s missing.” Angel replied with a worried frown, taking his seat across from her.  “They haven’t seen him since early this afternoon. Gunn found his cell phone in the parking lot.”

“So what do you think?” She questioned with concern, setting her fork down on her plate.

Angel sighed reluctantly. He didn’t want to entertain the first few thoughts that had popped into his head when he had heard that his son had seemingly disappeared.

“I don’t know. I’ll go and check the Hyperion. Maybe he went back there.”

We’ll go.” Buffy amended, reaching over the table for his hand. “Don’t worry. We’ll find him.”

On the drive to the Hyperion, Angel apologized profusely for the interruption to what he had planned to be a romantic evening out for Buffy’s birthday.  He had made the dinner reservations at the exclusive Four Oaks restaurant in Bel Air almost a week ago, offering a substantial bribe to get into the normally booked restaurant as well as to secure them one of the better tables.

With a teasing smile, Buffy slid across the side seat of the GTX to sit next to him. “It’s okay. It’s my birthday, remember? Stuff like this always happens. It’ll be fine though, we’ll find him.”

His brows drew together in a frown and he grimaced. That was another reason why he had wanted the night to be perfect. He knew about the typical Buffy birthday tradition where something, usually bad, happened.

Angel parked the car in front of the Hyperion and took Buffy’s hand as they walked inside.

“Nice place.” She gazed around the expansive lobby as they crossed the marble floor toward the counter.

“Thanks.” Angel replied distractedly. He was already certain that Connor wasn’t at the hotel since he couldn’t sense him. He had been there though, probably as recently as yesterday.

“Hey.” Gunn nodded his head in greeting and walked toward them, taking note of their clothes. Obviously, they had not been out on patrol or spending the evening at home. “Nice threads. Out on a date, huh?”

“Thanks.” Angel said with a wry smile, his voice flat. “Buffy, this is Gunn and that’s Fred.”

Buffy smiled and extended her hand in greeting, her gaze drifting to the pink bundle in the young brunette’s arms. “Oh, and who’s this?”

Fred shyly leaned forward and showed off her daughter. “Amelia.”

Impetuously, Buffy extended her arms. “May I hold her?” Normally she would never have dared to ask someone who was virtually a stranger to hold their child, but babies had been on her mind so much as of late that she couldn’t resist. The petite blonde’s enthusiasm was so obvious and so apparently honest that Fred handed her baby over without hesitation. Amelia cooed happily in Buffy’s arms, her eyes wide.

Cradling the baby against her chest, Buffy looked up and her eyes met Angel’s. She smiled.

Angel stared almost mesmerized. The sight of Buffy with a baby in her arms moved him more than he thought possible. One day soon that would be his babe that she held. Impulsively, he put his hand behind her head and kissed her, a soft gentle kiss.

Behind them, Gunn cleared his throat.

Reluctantly, Angel drew back. Buffy sighed softly.

“So what do you know?” He turned back to Gunn, his tone unintentionally brusque.

“Not much. Connor went out around one thirty this afternoon the way he usually does. He goes for a run and comes back around three only this time he didn’t come back. Around four I started looking for him, thinking maybe he lost track of time or went down to the pool or something and I just missed him. But nothing.”

“I checked his room. Nothing is missing, that I can tell.” Fred added, her expression worried.

“Well, why don’t you take a look around and see what you see?” Buffy suggested to Angel and Gunn, “You guys know best where he might hang out, his friends and stuff.”

“But Fred-” Gunn glanced at his wife with concern. They hadn’t been out of each other’s company since Angel had sent them all away from the hotel.

“I’ll stay here with Fred and Amelia in case he shows up.” Buffy added firmly, aware of the reason why Angel had kept the rest of the AI team away from the Hyperion. She chose not to mention Cordelia because she didn’t want to add to Angel’s worries. “Got somebody that can check out the Four Seasons? See if he’s gone back there?”

Angel studied Buffy’s calm face. He knew that what she was suggesting was . reasonable. As much as he wanted, he couldn’t give in to his instinctive urge to say no.

“If you promise to be careful.” Still, he wasn’t taking any chances.

Buffy’s mossy green eyes flashed a warning, her chin tilting slightly in defiance. “I’m capable of taking care of myself and Fred and Amelia. We’ll be fine. Now go and find your son. We’ll call you if he shows up here.”

Her calm assurance soothed his rising panic. Bending his head, Angel kissed her lightly on the lips. He wondered, as he had often in the last few days, how he had existed without her.

Gunn nodded and called Lorne, asking the demon to swing by the hotel and wait for Connor.

“Tell him to stay out of the mini-bar.” Angel added, as the two men strode briskly through the doors and out into the night.

————————————————————-

“Well, well, look who’s here.”

At the sound of the snide voice ringing out in the lobby, Buffy whirled around and found herself face to face with Cordelia.

“I should have known that you would be here, sniffing around just like a bitch in heat once you found out that Angel’s soul was bound.”  The former brunette stated maliciously, looking bold and ostentatious in a tight, figure-hugging red dress. The material clung to her every curve, emphasizing the fullness of her breasts and the rounded swell of her hip.

Buffy’s eyebrows lifted slightly, but she said nothing, her eyes trained watchfully on the former brunette as she advanced into the center of the hotel lobby. Quietly, Buffy walked over to the settee and handed the baby she had been gently bouncing in her arms to Fred. Calmly, she gestured for the two of them to move behind the counter, out of the way.

“Where’s Angel? I need to talk to him.” The seer strode forward confidently, her hips swinging in an exaggerated gait as her eyes moved over her rival with obvious disdain. The small blonde hadn’t changed in the years since she’d seen her; she was still obviously lacking in style and taste. Honestly, what Angel ever saw in such a ridiculously small, unattractive and obviously fashion-challenged woman, she couldn’t even begin to understand.

“He’s not here.” Buffy replied, unable to keep the surprise out of her voice. She hadn’t actually expected to come face to face with Cordelia, thinking that the former May Queen would not have been so bold as to return to the Hyperion after everything that she had said and done.

“Really? Then where is he?” Cordelia sneered as she walked around the lobby with a familiarity that bespoke former residence. Her gaze stopped on Fred briefly as if noticing the young woman for the first time before she swung back around to face the diminutive blonde Slayer.

“Still. Not. Here.” Buffy replied with irritation, shifting her stance slightly.

“He doesn’t love you, you know.” The dyed blonde taunted, her voice a sneer. The malice in her eyes was obvious as she glared at the petite Slayer.

“Sorry, Cordy. You’re confused. He doesn’t love you.”  Buffy retorted, taking a profound sense of pleasure in the words, as well as her belief in them. With a small smile, she added, “I doubt he ever did.”

“Don’t be naïve. Of course he loves me.” Cordelia spat angrily, her gaze narrowing as she looked down her nose at the smaller woman. “He’s loved me for years. Let’s just face the facts, Buffy. You were just a silly crush. Angel left you behind in Sunnyhell. He’s moved on now. To me.” She preened slightly with the last words, smoothing her hair.

“You just tell yourself that, Cordy.” The Slayer snorted dismissively. Her posture remained guarded as they sized each other up like two predatory cats.

“Honestly, Buffy, you’re pathetic. Continuing to cling to someone who wishes you’d just go away or stay dead. Now, let me say this for you slowly so you’ll understand. Angel. Loves. Me.” The seer purred spitefully, “By the way, just where do you think he was when you died? Rescuing me. Who was here to help him raise his son?  Me.  Who gave up their humanity to help him?  Me. And just who has he been making love to night after night for years? Me.”

“Get out.”  Buffy replied sharply, uncomfortable with the reminder of all that Cordelia and Angel had shared, particularly the fact that they had at one time been lovers.

“I’m not welcome in my own home?  In my fiancé’s home?” The dyed blonde questioned idly, her smile sweetly malevolent. “Please. I’m going to be Angel’s wife.”  Her eyes met Buffy’s, her expression benign.  “We’re going to have a child.”

“Just get out, Cordy.” The petite Slayer repeated coolly, even though her heart skipped a beat at the seer’s calm assertions. The former brunette’s confidence was a little unnerving. Angel loved her, Buffy reminded herself as images from their last few days together flooded slowly through her mind. And a child with Cordelia?  It wasn’t possible, was it?

“I’m sorry. Did I say something that you didn’t like?” The dyed blonde asked with saccharin sweetness, her eyes gleaming cruelly.

“You were asked… no, I believe you were *told* to leave. First by Angel and now by me. So Get. Out.” Buffy asserted, as all but the slightest doubt as to Angel’s affections began to dissipate with each passing moment. He had told her of his love for her dozens of times – more – in the last several days and she didn’t doubt his feelings or his sincerity. She knew him too well. And perhaps even more importantly, she trusted him. “Or I’ll make you leave.”

“Make me leave?” Cordelia laughed shrilly, the sound artificial and forced. She crossed her arms over her chest defensively. “You’re ordering me out of my own home? That’s … cute.”

“You need me to show you the door? Or do you think you can find it on your own?” The petite blonde replied with a studied calm, long familiar with Cordelia’s particular style of catty discourse.

“The whole forbidden thing is just the attraction, you know that, right?” Ignoring Buffy’s demand, the seer advanced toward the Slayer, “I’ll give it a month before he realizes that you’re nothing special, that you’re just another cheap whore like Darla was. He’ll fuck you out of his system, dump your scrawny ass and send you packing back to Sunnyhell and then he’ll come right back to me.”

“You think so?” Buffy asked quietly, as if the former May Queen hadn’t just attempted to brutally demolish her future. She knew then that she had underestimated the situation with Cordelia; Angel’s explanation had fallen short in describing just how angry and hateful the seer had become. Not to mention, the woman appeared to be seriously delusional.

“I know so. It’s the truth.” The former brunette scornfully declared, “You have nothing that Angel wants. Nothing.”  There was insult in every uttered syllable.

“That’s not what he says.” Buffy replied with a small smile, thinking of the pleasurable whimpers and moans she had extracted from him just yesterday.

“Is this where you’re going to tell me that he’s promised you a future together?” Cordelia sneered derisively, angered more by the Slayer’s smug smile and calm appearance.

“That’s really none of your business.” The diminutive blonde murmured softly.

“Oh, he has! Grow up, Buffy.” Cordelia mockingly said, taking another step forward and bringing her closer to her rival. “Do you honestly think that you, of all people, can please him? A vampire’s libido. his true nature and unleashed passion. well, let’s just say that I doubt you could handle him if he were to show you that side of himself. I, ah, on the other hand, realistically understand his nature and his needs and will allow him his… necessary diversions.” The seer smiled, a wicked smirking grin that for a fleeting second revealed her demonic nature.

“Diversions?” Buffy’s brows lifted, the memory of her excursion with Angel to the Palos Verdes vamp whorehouse popping suddenly in her mind. She smiled. She loved every part of him, and as for his “true nature and unleashed passion” – well, that thrilled her beyond measure. Her smile widened. If Cordelia had been like this while they had been together, the she really couldn’t blame Angel for seeking companionship elsewhere. “Let me see if I understand… you mean he can get his needs taken care of elsewhere since you can’t handle him?”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The seer spared a quick glance at Fred, her eyes glowing threateningly as the young mother nervously attempted to dial the phone.

“Leave her alone.” Buffy stated bluntly, moving slightly as if to position herself between Cordelia and Fred and Amelia.

“My, my, what a protective little thing you are.”  Cordelia murmured, her smile a shade tighter. Her eyes gleamed speculatively. “Too bad you didn’t have the same consideration for your own baby.”

The blonde Slayer stood absolutely still. She held her arms rigid at her sides, her fingers clenching to control the impulse to strike out.

“Tell me something, Buffy, just between us girls.” The seer continued maliciously, “You aborted it, didn’t you?  You screwed around, got pregnant and then got an abortion. Giles and your little Scooby gang was mad at you for taking off like the selfish little bitch that you are so you tearfully confessed a made up poor little me tale so he’d feel sorry for you. Then, let me guess, you told him it was Angel’s baby so you wouldn’t have to explain how you whored around. Of course, Mr. Musty book-man would then go spend all his time and energy researching some bullshit conception story, leaving you looking like Miss Sweet and Innocent who only slept with her one true love. Her soulmate.” The dyed blonde sneered with a toss of her hair. “I do have to give you points for being clever.”

Buffy moved so quickly that the seer didn’t even see it coming, backhanding the taller woman across the face. Cordelia staggered back a few steps with the force of the blow.

“Don’t ever talk to me about that. Ever. You know nothing about it.” The petite Slayer’s voice was low, lethally soft. “I can and I will kick your ass. Now get out.”

“You bitch! How dare you!” Cordelia spat, her hand covering her red and stinging cheek. “You’ll regret that.”

“Really? When would that be?” Buffy asked with a tight smile, “Because right now I can tell you it felt pretty damned good.”

“I will kill you.”  The seer raged, rising to her full height. “And Angel won’t even shed a single tear when you’re gone.”

“You can try.” The diminutive Slayer quietly replied, “but scarier things than you have tried.”

“Yeah, tell me what it’s like to be dead, Buffy.” The seer acidly inquired, tapping her fingers on her chin thoughtfully. “Having to claw your way out of your own grave because your friends were too stupid to dig you out before before they resurrected you.”

“You want to find out?” Buffy’s green gaze locked with Cordelia’s muddy brown one. “Except for the resurrection part that is.”

“You won’t kill me. Even if you could, Angel would never forgive you.” The former brunette’s face was ashen, but her eyes were glowing angrily.

“And who’s going to tell him? I’m not.” Buffy spared a quick glance for Fred, her facetious tone went right over the seer’s head, “and I don’t think Fred will.”

Cordelia shrieked, outraged by such outright audacity. She lifted her hand to strike but Buffy grabbed her wrist and twisted her arm back before she could land the blow. The Slayer nearly crushed the bones in her arm with her grip, but instead she shoved the seer away.

Cordelia staggered back, a nasty smile curving her mouth. “You bitch!! I am so going to kill you. Once I’m done with you, Angel won’t even be able to identify your remains.”

The petite blonde advanced, her voice velvety soft, “I’ve kicked a lot of demon ass in my day Cordy.  I think I’m going to enjoy this more than you can imagine.”

Cordelia sprung forward with her hand drawn back to strike.

Buffy dodged her easily, her own small fist slamming into the dyed blonde’s shoulder and spinning her around.

Cordelia swung back quickly, catching Buffy by surprise and managing to hit the petite blonde across the face. It wasn’t a slap but a vicious gouge, her nails curled, raking deep furrows in Buffy’s cheek.

Frantically, Fred dialed the phone. She fumbled it in her hand nervously, grateful for small favors such as programmed one number dialing. She looked on with frightened eyes as the two women continued to exchange blows.

With a nasty snarl, Cordelia reached out and yanked Buffy’s hair. The dragonfly clips tumbled to the ground and the seer ground one deliberately under her heel.  The Slayer swung her arm, punching the seer in the jaw and she loosened her grip.

Cordelia lunged forward again and Buffy staggered back under the taller girl’s weight and they tumbled to the floor. Despite her words, Buffy was holding back slightly, wanting to subdue -and, okay, possibly hurt – Cordy but not kill her.

————————————————————-

Gunn answered his phone immediately as it began ringing. At Fred’s near frantic whispering and the commotion in the background, he glanced at Angel who brought the car to an abrupt stop.

Seconds later, they had turned around and were speeding back to the Hyperion.

“I’ll go 20 bucks on Buffy.” Lorne stated just as Gunn and Angel raced inside and skidded to a stop next to him. He leaned against the wall inside the lobby door.

Buffy landed another blow and a faint crunching sound of breaking bone was heard

Without looking away from the spectacle of the fighting women, he amended. “No, make that $100.”

“I thought you quit gambling,” Angel snapped, stepping forward just as Buffy rose to her feet and caught Cordy with a roundhouse kick that knocked the seer into the wall near the stairs.

“Well, I did, I did. Except for special occasions like this.” The Host replied cheerfully, glancing at Angel for the first time.

“What? So I see a sure fire win.” The green demon added, noting the vampire’s aggravated look.

“I’m in. I’ll go $100 on Buffy.” Gunn replied with a smile, his eyes trained on the fight. “What the hell are you doing here anyway? You’re supposed to be checking out the Four Seasons.”

“The Four Seasons?”  Lorne questioned with surprise, flinching slightly as Cordy kicked Buffy in the shin. “You just said hotel. I thought you meant here.”

Rolling his eyes in irritation Angel rushed toward the two women still fighting at the far side of the lobby.

Angelus stirred, adding his own sardonic comment, ‘Bout time somebody kicked Whordelia’s ass. Especially since those that can and should, have been seriously lacking in that department.

Fred came out from behind the counter and put her hand on Angel’s arm, stopping him briefly. “Wait Angel!  Maybe Buffy can teach Cordelia a lesson.”

A good first lesson would be how to play dead. Angelus purred with an evil chuckle.

The tall vampire glanced down sharply at Fred, surprised at the sentiment from the girl who had at one time been Cordelia’s closest female friend.

“You betting on Buffy too?” Angel asked somewhat acerbically before he looked back as Cordelia shrieked again and landed hard on her ass on the floor.

“Yes. If we’re betting.” The young mother smiled nervously then glanced at Gunn who stepped forward to put his arm around her.

Me too! I’ll bet six hours of freedom on Buffy. Besides, she’s not a coward like you. She’ll snap the bitch’s neck. Angel’s demon chimed in with his own ante.

Suddenly the rending of fabric filled the air and all of them got a glimpse of the curve of Buffy’s breast.

“My, my, Angel-cakes. This is entertaining and educational.” Lorne said with a devilish smirk, having also walked up to stop next to Angel and Gunn.

Snort. Who is he kidding? He wouldn’t know what to do with a breast if someone stuck it in his hand. As usual, the demon continued his running commentary and Angel ignored him.

Shooting an angry glance at Lorne, Angel quickly crossed the room. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he jerked Cordelia back. Denied her prey, the seer howled like a wounded animal and struggled against his grip. Leaning forward, she bit Angel hard on the hand.

At the sharp pain, Angel released the seer only to backhand her hard across the face. Unlike Buffy, he didn’t hold back so Cordelia fairly flew across the room and slammed hard into the counter. Her head hid the wood with a resounding thump and she slumped to the floor, out cold.

Fuck! Now kill the bitch while she’s down. Oh, but first check on Buffy. The demon muttered angrily, his words a snarl.

Assured that the seer wasn’t going anywhere in just that moment, Angel rushed over to Buffy.

“Buffy, are you all right?”  His brows drew together in a scowl as he examined the nail furrows on her cheek. Running his hands over her almost impersonally, which earned him a slap on the arm, he cautiously checked her for broken bones or other injuries.

“There you are.”

At the sound of a familiar voice, everyone in the lobby turned back to the door.

Skip crossed the room with an angry glare on his face, stopping next to where Cordelia still lay sprawled on the floor.

“Angel.” His tone reproving, the demon guide stared at the vampire.

That would be Angelus to you, you moronic demon piece of crap. Angelus muttered in disgust.

Cordelia moaned softly and Skip leaned down and helped her to her feet. Staring at both Buffy and Angel accusingly, he helped the seer over to the settee.  Cordelia looked up at him gratefully, her hand covering her broken nose.

“I have been looking for you.” Skip stated, glancing briefly at the other occupants in the room.

Angel shifted his stance slightly, stepping protectively between Buffy and Skip. His expression was guarded. “You found me. What do you want?”

“You have been ignoring your duty.” Skip declared, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Tell me something I don’t know.” Angel spared a quick accusing glance at Cordelia, reminded once again of the visions that she hadn’t shared, that she had actually sold to his enemies.

“I’m talking specifically about your duty to Cordelia, your seer.  She now has a duality of natures, human and demon. As a higher being, her demon nature would have been integrated with her, but as a human she cannot adjust.”

“That’s not true.” Buffy replied adamantly, stepping forward to stand next to Angel. “Angel has done it.”

Angelus muttered indignantly. We are *not* integrated. I just … tolerate him.

Skip glanced at Buffy irritably. “Yes, which is why he is her champion.”

Buffy bristled at the emphasis the demon put on the word “her” and started to speak, but then Skip looked away from her dismissively.

“As a human, she has not always been able to control her demon, which is also the darker part of her nature. The demon part of her wants to act on her darkest, cruelest and most reprehensible thoughts. Hence, her lies, her betrayals. The longer her nature remains dual, the stronger her demon nature becomes. She simply has not been able to acclimate to this.”

“The darkest, cruelest and most reprehensible thoughts…” Now that’s flattery if I ever heard such a thing. The demon murmured with a sigh.

“No kidding.” Buffy interjected with a wry smile.

“Are you going somewhere with this?”  Angel asked in a bored tone as he reached for Buffy’s hand, squeezing it gently.

Hey! I was liking it. Except for the part about your bitch seer.

Skip looked flustered for a brief moment and his eyes shot wildly around the room, first at Angel, then to Cordelia, finally to land once more on Buffy.  He seemed to address his next statement to the petite Slayer, “By being with Angel, by observing him, by helping with his noble mission, Cordelia will be able to control her darker nature. It’s not a separate entity as you might think. Her demon nature only emphasizes her negative qualities. If she cannot learn to control her darker impulses and because her demon is magic based, she will need to be removed from this plane. Having a dark demon of her nature here will otherwise upset the balance.”

“So?” Buffy snorted. “Look, rock pile, it’s her own selfishness, something she already had in abundance, that her demon nature emphasizes. She’s always been that way and she isn’t going to change. She’s been with Angel for years and it’s only gotten worse, not better.”

Cordelia spoke up for the first time, her voice tearful and her eyes watering. “You don’t understand Buffy, because you don’t have a demon inside you like Angel and I do. We know how hard it is, every day, to deal with that.”

Buffy could see right through the seer’s façade. Despite the tearful expression, her brown eyes still contained a certain undeniable maliciousness. “It’s not the demon inhabiting you, Cordy, it’s your own selfishness gaining strength. What you’ve done is nothing you haven’t already shown yourself to be capable of, demon nature or not. It’s just that you act on it more often because you can blame your ‘demon nature.’ It’s an excuse. A free pass.”

Angelus growled, Hey! I think I resent that.

Shifting her gaze back to Skip, Buffy continued, “She thinks by holding tightly to Angel it will help her?  That if he can live with his demon, then she can too?  Well, she can’t. She’s never had that strength or that character.”

“I can too!”  Cordelia blurted, her eyes landing on Buffy angrily before she concealed the emotion and schooled her features to a sorrowful, repentant frown.  “I can do it. I can balance myself again. I swear – I’ll be more kind, more generous. I can help Angel. I can help with his mission. I just need another chance.”

Buffy crossed her arms over her chest, her expression skeptical. She glanced up at Angel, standing beside her quietly.

With a frustrated look, Skip turned to Angel. “The Powers have decreed that her fate be left in your hands, Angel. You alone have the power to determine her fate, and consequently your own.”

“What do you mean?” Buffy asked, suddenly fearful by the implication of the demon’s statement.

“This is not a matter for your concern.” Skip practically yelled, dismissing Buffy angrily. He pointed at Angel and said commandingly,  “Your fate, your redemption is linked to that of your seer. You can help Cordelia with her redemption or you can condemn her to a life of pain and suffering. You must choose.”

“Please, Angel, you’re the only one who can help me.” Cordelia pleaded anxiously as she dropped to her knees in front of him. It was a gesture so uncharacteristic of the former May Queen that practically everyone in the room gasped in shock. “Please Angel, ” She whispered tearfully, holding out her hand in supplication, “I love you. I do. Please help me.”

The silence in the room was absolute.

Angel glanced down at Cordelia then back to Buffy. He could see in just that brief glance, the fear in her eyes.

Buffy’s mossy green eyes met the dark ones of her lover. He had spent the last several years working for redemption. She knew that and she knew him. Even more, she knew his sense of responsibility. It would go against everything he stood for, everything he was to turn away Cordelia. Just like he chose Faith when the dark-haired Slayer needed him, while she had not. Wanted him, yes. Needed him. That was a matter of opinion, but most would say no.  And if what the demon guide was saying was true, Angel’s redemption depended on Cordelia’s redemption.

At that moment Buffy’s world began to fall apart.

She stared at Angel, her heart in her eyes. He had insinuated himself in her heart over a thousand different ways, right from the very beginning. The last several days had been the happiest of her life. She would have them to treasure always. And if, by some miracle, their efforts to start a family had not been in vain, if she was carrying his child, she would have a little part of him that she could keep. Oh, but not to have a chance to see him welcome his son or daughter into the world…

Buffy took a deep breath. She had to do this, for Angel. She couldn’t make him choose between her and his own chance at redemption.

“Angel?  I understand. I know why you’re here. What you have to do.” Her voice quavered only a little as she slowly began to back away from him. Her throat began to constrict and her heart felt like lead in her chest.  She loved him more than anything in this world, but she couldn’t make him make a decision that he might grow to regret later. Nor could she stay and watch Cordelia be a part of his life, their life.

“Buffy-” Angel reached for her but Buffy drew back farther, holding her hand up as if to stop him.

“No, Angel. Just let me-” Her voice broke and she choked back a sob. A sudden cold chill struck her. She wanted to leave before her heart shattered into a million pieces, before she gave way to the tears threatening.

Cordelia, despite her broken nose and battered face, smiled smugly.

“Buffy!” Angel pleaded, stepping forward again as Buffy retreated further.

“Ah. there you are. I’ve been looking all over for you.” Once again, everyone turned toward the door at the sound of yet another voice.

Whistler pushed his way past Gunn and Lorne and stopped. Connor, dirty and disheveled with a wide bruise on his face from having been hit squarely across the face with what appeared to have been a two by four stood behind him.

“Found something of yours.” Whistler stated cheerfully, gesturing to Connor with a jerk of his thumb.