IV – Stolen Moments, Christmas

Author’s Notes: B/A Another short little PWP happiness piece. Takes place during AtS Season 5, so spoilers all the way through Destiny possibly.The premise – Buffy and Angel have been seeing each other secretly for over 2 years.  Naturally, their schedules and various obligations make this difficult.If you care, Ingleside Inn. And yes, the room is actually pale yellow and green. Some people – not me – actually like that. Any feedback about the colors should be sent directly to the hotel. *g*

Dedication: To Susan, happy birthday!

And very, very happy holidays everyone!

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

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

Pairing: B/A

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

Originally posted: Dec 9, 2003

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” was playing softly as the elevator glided down to the basement garage. Angel glanced absently at the brightly decorated wreaths that hung along the walls as he waited for the silver doors to open.

His footsteps didn’t make a sound as he walked along the row of expensive automobiles until he reached the black Range Rover at the end. He scrutinized the quiet garage with a keen gaze as he slid behind the wheel of the car and closed the door with an almost inaudible click.

In the months since he had taken over Wolfram and Hart, he had learned that almost nothing within the walls of the massive office building went unobserved. No doubt even now, Eve knew that he was leaving the building and was informing the Senior Partners and who knew how many countless others. It was, however, a tribute to his stealth that he had actually managed to slip past Spike, his near constant shadow.

Still, who knew he was gone mattered little right now. He’d personally selected and then inspected the Range Rover to ensure that it would not only blend in with the hundreds of others like it on the road in Los Angeles, but that it was free from any tracking devices, cameras or other modes of surveillance. Once outside the walls of Wolfram and Hart, he’d be able to slip away into obscurity – at least for a few days. And that was all he needed.

Pulling out of the garage he watched the traffic behind him carefully until he saw them. The black GMC Yukon was several car lengths behind, but definitely following. With a smile, he yanked on the steering wheel and took a hard right. Several deft maneuvers later through the winding streets and the thick Los Angeles traffic, and Angel had lost the car on his tail. He couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face, both because he had lost the W&H lackeys and in anticipation of the next few days.

The traffic was heavy at LAX as was expected just two days before Christmas. Angel circled the parking garage for almost half an hour before he was able to find an open spot. Checking the time and the arrivals monitor, he hurried toward the designated gate. Fortunately, time was working in his favor even with the deliberately indirect route to the airport and the parking delay; he sensed her coming through the gate after only about ten minutes of pacing along the crowded corridor.

Despite flying almost fifteen hours which included a stopover in New York, her tiredness seemed to slip away when she saw his tall, dark head immediately after she crossed through the security gate. With a bright smile on her face, Buffy pushed her way impatiently through the throngs of people.

Angel smiled, opening in his arms and she went into them naturally, dropping her bags so she could hug him unencumbered. Heedless of the crowds of people surrounding them, their lips met in a passionate kiss.

Long minutes later, holding hands and smiling happily, they wound their way through the busy parking garage to the car.

“Nice.” Buffy said as she eyed the pristine new Range Rover. The leather creaked as she climbed in the passenger seat, the new car smell still obvious.

“Thanks.” Planting another quick kiss on her lips, Angel closed the door behind her then walked around to get in on the driver’s side.

They made small talk about the car, her flight, about Giles, the potentials and the Scoobies as Angel navigated the car expertly through traffic to the I-10 freeway. Christmas carols played softly on the radio as they eased into the flow of the steady moving east bound traffic.

“Still having issues with Spike?” She inquired softly, her gaze moving from the tail lights of the car in front of them to Angel’s face. They’d talked about the blonde vampire at length several times over the past months, so she knew about the various events that had been going on at the offices of Wolfram and Hart.

Angel only lifted an eyebrow at her in response.

“Okay, so you’ll always have issues with Spike.” She acknowledged, reaching out to run a hand along his arm. “I’m sorry.”

“What’s between me and Spike goes beyond…”

“Beyond us and back over a hundred or so years, I know.” Buffy interjected, aware of the multitude of issues between the two vampires. She also knew, as did Angel, that their time together was limited. Giles could only explain away her disappearance for a few days, particularly at Christmas. And no doubt W&H or his friends were already searching for Angel, regardless of his wishes. “So then, we won’t talk about Spike. Or anyone else. We’ll just pretend it’s just us alone in the world, no one else.”

Reaching over, Angel put his hand on the soft skin of Buffy’s knee, just below the hem of her short black skirt. He nodded agreeably and gave her a small smile. In no way would he mind forgetting for awhile about the machinations at work or the trials and tribulations that managing an evil law firm brought with it.

“So, where are we going?” She asked, looking once again at the freeway signs they passed showing that they were leaving the greater Los Angeles area.

“You’ll see.” Lifting his hand, he cupped the back of her head and pulled her closer. With one eye on the road and the steering wheel braced against his knee, he leaned over and kissed her. A sweet tender kiss that grew rapidly in intensity, turning to a passionate demanding kiss that ate at her mouth with a greedy, long-denied hunger. When he released her, Buffy sighed softly and took a breath, thinking how wonderful it was to see him again after the months apart.

“You drive,” She said breathlessly, leaning over the center console, “and I’ll do the kissing.”

She planted soft kisses on the corner of his mouth, the straight line of his nose, his cheekbone, and the line of his jaw before moving to his neck. Nuzzling above his collar, she nibbled at his ear and throat with nipping kisses before finally returning her mouth to his. She bit at his lower lip before tracing it apologetically with her tongue. She then pressed her lips to his, slipping her tongue into his mouth. Her kiss this time was longer, slower, deeper – telling him how much she missed him, how much she wanted him.

Angel made a low sound of pleasure in his throat as he kissed her back, the promise of sex explicit in each thrust of his cool, wet tongue. His right arm, draped around her back, tightened and drew her closer.

With Christmas music still playing on the stereo, the lights of LA disappeared behind them and the white lines of the freeway streaked by almost unnoticed as they kissed and cuddled during the rest of the almost two hour drive.

With the ache of unfulfilled desire growing ravenous, Buffy’s hand dropped to Angel’s lap. “I missed you so much.” She whispered against his neck, stroking him through the dark wool of his slacks. She sucked the pale, smooth skin through her teeth again.

Taking a deep unneeded breath, Angel removed Buffy’s hand and shifted her back slightly. They had to slow down, or else pull over, before he drove off the road. He wanted to wait. After months apart, she deserved more than a hurried coupling in the back seat of the car, no matter how roomy or comfortable it might be.  Forcing his thoughts away from the increasingly appealing idea, he pressed firmly on the accelerator. “Almost there. Just a few more miles.”

With her lower lip thrust out in a pout, she snuggled close and reached for him again.

“Wait, sweetheart.” He grabbed her hand with preternatural speed, bringing it to his lips and planting a soft open-mouthed kiss in her palm. “I promise I’ll make it up to you when we get there.”

“Get where?” She smiled, resting her head against his shoulder. She gazed up at him, her green eyes coquettish. The fingers of her other hand walked a teasing path along his thigh.

“You’ll see.” He said with a small measure of relief as he finally spotted the freeway exit sign. Taking the off ramp, they wound their way through the streets of Palm Springs until they reached the sign that said ‘Ingleside Inn’. Turning into the driveway, Angel guided the car into a parking space near the entrance.

“Stay here.” He shut the car door behind him and jogged inside while Buffy glanced around at the beautiful Spanish style building and tastefully lit gardens. After almost ten minutes, Angel returned with a triumphant smile.

Buffy watched him, bemused, as he drove them around the back of the hotel and parked in front of a small villa.

Retrieving her bags from the back, he said, “We have the ‘Gable and Lombard Honeymoon Suite’, or so the woman at the desk tells me.” Slipping the key in the lock and opening the door, he smiled and gestured for Buffy to enter.

The green and pale yellow decorated villa was cozy. A fire was already lit in the fireplace, staving off the cool rainy California air. In one corner there was a small, brightly lit Christmas tree decorated with dozens of ethereal white, red and gold ornaments, opalescent white ribbon and red poinsettias.

“Ooh, it’s beautiful.” Buffy murmured, surprised and delighted. Her smile lit up her eyes as she turned back to look at him.

“You don’t know how hard it was to do all this without anyone finding out.” Angel teased as he closed the door behind him. He recalled the half dozen or so trips he made out here to handle all of the arrangements in person, including the Christmas tree.

Buffy’s smile faded and her eyes welled with tears. She hated the reminder of how their life was now, how it had been for so long – hiding from everyone and finding happiness in stolen moments here and there; moments that were all too fleeting and rare.

Setting her bags down, Angel made it to where she stood in two strides. He was filled with guilt and remorse, knowing immediately what he had done. He hadn’t meant for the words to come out the way they had sounded, and he never wanted her to be unhappy. Putting his arms around her, he pulled her closed. “I’m sorry, baby. I promise you, it won’t always be like this.”

“I could come back and help you, you know.” She ventured softly, peeking up at him from under her lashes. It was an age-old argument between them. When he offered to come back into her life, she had sent him away, wanting to protect him. When the tables had turned, he had done the same. They both had their own battles to fight and neither wanted to risk the other. But someday. they would have their someday. She felt it. She hugged him tightly, her feelings of hurt dissipating now that she was back in his arms again. She knew how it had to be, and logically she agreed. It was just hard at times to accept.

“You’re here now, and I get you to myself for two days.” He murmured against her hair, leaning back away from her to look down at her face.

She followed him the small distance, sliding her flat palms up over the lapels of his coat. Two days would be more than they had had in almost as many years. She couldn’t help but smile, “True.”

“And I do have something you can help me with.” He whispered against her lips, bending to kiss her again, brushing her mouth lightly.

Rising to her tiptoes, she twined her arms around his neck and pressed her body against his. Her lips curving upward in a smile, she rocked forward on her toes, rolling her hips slightly. “I think I feel your something.”

His response to her was flame-hot, honed after hours of teasing kisses and caresses in the car, not to mention months apart. His erection surged higher, harder between them.

“Hold me.” Buffy murmured, melting into him. The clean scent of him, the faintest trace of familiar cologne drifted to her nostrils. No matter how much time went by, some things never changed. He was everything she remembered and more. And, more than ever, she wanted him. Nothing mattered in that moment except feeling him again.

Angel tightened his arms around her, his own hips moving subtly in a natural, instinctive answering rhythm to her own.

“Angel, I need to feel you…” Her voice was liquid heat as her fingers slid into his hair, tugging his face down to hers. God, he felt good… strong, big, muscled. and really hard.

Her kiss was warm and sweet, lush with welcome and with promise.

He ran his palms down her back. After their short two days here, he didn’t know when he would taste the sweetness of her kiss or feel the soft warmth of her body against his. The odds against him at Wolfram and Hart were high. This one meeting was risky enough. Still, the feel of her burned through his clothes – her breasts, her hips, her thighs – reminding him off all the pleasures that they had shared. Of how much he needed her. How much he loved her.

“I love you.” She whispered against his lips, her breath warm. Being in his arms – was comfort and joy and security, but most of all, it was love and flame-hot, eager, desperate desire.

Suddenly, his hands came up and cupped the back of her head. He kissed her with a hard, possessive kiss that told her of the depth of his feelings.  Fueled by pent-up frustration at their separation, he invaded her mouth as he planned to invade her body – hard, fierce, urgent.

Buffy answered his impatience with her own blazing passion. She welcomed his kiss with a wild reckless abandon, her happiness in that moment unsurpassed. She wanted his strength and virility, she wanted the unadulterated bliss of making love with him, she wanted him. forever.

She pushed his coat back over his shoulders impatiently.

“I can’t wait.” Angel muttered, shaking his arms free and dropping the heavy wool duster to the floor behind them. As much as he had planned a romantic and leisurely reunion in the soft king size bed, he was past waiting. Bending, he lifted her into his arms with effortless strength. He swept the vase of roses off the small foyer table with a quick sweep of his arm. It tumbled to the floor, the impact lessened by the thick carpeting, although in his current state of mind, he would have been indifferent to the sound of the crystal shattering.

A shiver raced down Buffy’s spine; his sheer power was intoxicating. But then, everything about him was intoxicating – from the top of his spiky hair to the bottom of his perfect feet. She had wanted to giggle when he told her he had grown his hair over the summer, but obviously he had cut it again. She wondered briefly if it had anything to do with her saying how much she loved the spikes and how sexy she thought they were.

He sat her on the rich honey colored polished wood, his lips returning to hers with unrestrained passion. The mirror behind her rattled as she leaned back, bumping into the wall.

“I haven’t forgotten a single thing about you.” He whispered against her cheek as his fingers worked swiftly to open the toggles of the pink wool coat she wore.

“I may have forgotten a few things about you.” Buffy mused teasingly, her hands impatiently reaching for the buttons on his shirt.

“Then let me remind you.” His long fingers now worked dexterously at the tiny buttons of her top. Under the circumstances, he thought he was remarkably controlled – he was seriously considered simply ripping the pink cashmere from her.

“I’d like that.” She ran the palm of one hand over his chest, stopping to tweak the tan nipple that peeked out from behind the wine colored silk.

“I promise you that you will.” Angel slipped a fingertip under the strap of her black lace bra. The balconette style bra was cut so low that her breasts appeared to be almost spilling out over the top, the rosy pink of her aureoles just visible.

“Very sexy.” He murmured as his fingers swept over the taut peaks of her nipples through the sheer lace. Maybe not that controlled. He took a deep restraining breath.

“I know I will,” Buffy replied, her eyes half closed as he tweaked one hard nipple. “I love everything you do to me. How you touch me. How you taste. How you feel.”

Her words sent a jolt straight to his erection, heated memories of past times together flooding his senses.

Impatient again, Angel moved forward, parting her thighs and shoving her skirt up higher. Her black stiletto heeled boots bumped against his shins as her legs swung with his abrupt movement.

“Let me see what you remember.” His smile was wicked as he reached between her legs to slip his fingers under the tiny black lace thong she wore.

“I remember that.” Buffy purred with a smile, closing her eyes as his fingers stroked her wet and swollen flesh with deft expertise. Rocking slightly, she tugged her skirt up further, exposing the black lace fully to his gaze.

With a groan, Angel struggled with his belt and the zipper on his pants.

Eagerly, she reached out to help, pushing his pants down his thighs. Her eyes opened and she smiled, “Commando, baby?”

“What can I say? I knew you’d be coming.” Angel smirked at the double entendre, his dark eyes inches away and smiling into hers as she gripped the hard length of his erection, stroking him with firm, sure movements.

Lifting her thighs over his forearms, he grabbed her hips and pulled her to the very edge of the table. Pulling aside the tiny scrap of lace, his erection nudged the slick wetness between her legs before sliding inside the smallest distance.

Buffy sighed softly, her breath catching in her throat as he pushed forward again.

Every muscle in his body tensed as Angel cautioned himself to move slow and easy when those two words were actually the furthest thing from his mind. He moved another inch forward and stopped, surveying her under his lashes.  Buffy’s clothing was askew, her pink jacket and sweater pushed aside revealing the black lace bra, which now only partially covered her breasts. Her black skirt was wadded up around her waist, the black lace of her thong pulled to one side exposing her nearly bare feminine flesh to his eager gaze, and her booted feet dangled over his arms. Her eyes were closed, her wet lips slightly parted as she panted softly. Her cheeks were flushed and her long hair was tousled in disarray. He couldn’t remember a time when she looked better.

“More. Angel… now.” She said in a soft breathy sigh. Her lashes fluttered, and she opened her eyes. Her hands were clinging tightly to his shoulders as she writhed slightly against him. “Please, baby. it’s been too long.”

With another thrust, he sank further into her wet heat until he was partially submerged. His cock was so hard, it was aching. Still, he wanted to savor this moment.

She leaned away from him, arching her back and wriggling her hips so that she sank down on him further. She mewled softly, lifting her legs from his arms to wrap around his hips. She was wet, so very wet, he could feel the lush profusion of liquid heat run along his leg.

He gave in then to the ramming speed mentality hovering at the edge of his brain.

Flexing his legs, he drove forward and buried himself to the hilt. He felt her clench around him as the heated pleasure of her vibrated through his entire body. With his cock completely embedded in her, paradise was no longer just an abstract concept. She was his heaven, his paradise, his very source of rapture. She was his very definition of home.

Long moments later when the racing tumult of his brain had marginally subsided, and he regained a semblance of control, he began to move.

Buffy uttered soft sounds of pleasure, arching her back and rocking her hips to meet his steady pounding rhythm. With a deft twist of her hips, she gave him a pleasurable jolt that seemed to reverberate all the way from where their bodies were joined up his entire spine.

Gripping her bottom, his fingers splayed wide, he pulled her forward and thrust into her, hard.

Buffy gasped, her breath catching in her throat as the wild acute feeling raced toward the inevitable climax.

“I love you.” Angel whispered raggedly, dragging her forward with each ramming thrust.

Buffy melted around him as he plunged deeper, harder into her body. Perversely, his lack of control gave her pleasure beyond compare. She loved to see the wild, animalistic side of him, the side that he kept so tightly under control and guarded.

“Fuck me.” She purred, provoking him further. Every nerve in her body was screaming for release, desire burning through her body and brain.

“I’ll fuck you all night.” Angel fairly growled in reply, temptation and unbridled lust surging with increased force at the velvety soft yet blatantly carnal entreaty in her voice.

“Oh God, yes.” She mewled, reaching up with one hand to sink her fingers into this hair.

With barely suppressed violence, he jerked her forward and kissed her hard.

Buffy’s nails dug into his back through his shirt as they continued to move with fevered abandon. The small table rocked and slammed repeatedly into the wall, until Angel scooped Buffy into his arms and braced her instead against the door.

When she came, her wild cry echoed through the room. And then she came again because he didn’t stop, and once more because he insisted on pushing her body to greater heights with the feverish reckless abandon that often characterized their mating.

Even then, after he climaxed, he knew he hadn’t had enough. With her clinging to him limply, he adjusted his clothing only enough to get them to the bedroom without tripping over his pants.

The reciprocal undressing took a while, despite clothing already half off or in disarray, as each article was removed with meticulous attention to detail. She helped him and he helped her, stopping often to exchange kisses or caresses or nibbles on recently exposes patches of skin. Words of love were shared in whispers, adding to the heightened sensations and feelings of intimacy.

“Mmm… yessss…”  Buffy murmured softly as she lowered herself onto his erection with lingering slowness. She smiled at him as he wrapped his arms around her, rocking her gently. “And I remember this.”

“I hope so,” he murmured in reply, breathing in the sweet scent of her. With a smile, he tucked a wild strand of hair behind her ear.

She leaned forward to kiss him then, the tips of breasts brushing across his chest, her knees grazing his ribs. Her body was hot from the tempestuous fever of passion as she moved over him in a steady bewitching rhythm.

Bracing her hands on his shoulders as she moved, she studied him under her lashes. She delighted in the rasps of pleasure that she wrung from his lips with each provocative move of her hips, finding pleasure in the fact that he was as compelled and as needy as she. It gave her a glorious sense of ownership, as if he belonged to her alone in these rare moments.

Sliding her fingers through his dark hair, she leaned forward to nibble at his bottom lip. His hands came up to cup her breasts, teasing the taut peaks of her nipples with firm twists and gentle tugs.

Buffy writhed on him, lifting and lowering herself with steadily increasing speed.

Angel reached between them to where their bodies were joined to find the swollen nub of Buffy’s clitoris. As he manipulated it with his fingers, Buffy arched backward, trembling on the brink of ecstasy so intense she thought she might shatter into tiny pieces. Panting and breathless, she moaned; a tiny opulent sound of pleasure.

Angel’s low throaty growl was an adjunct to the rhythm of her body; his need was as excruciating as hers. Bracing his feet, he pushed his hips upward to meet her as she plunged down.

Clinging to his shoulders, Buffy cried out in blissful ecstasy as they exploded together in scorching, cataclysmic release.

“You make me happy, Angel.” She whispered against his shoulder, satiated for the moment. Contentment was too tame of a word to describe the depth or strength of her feelings.

“You’re my happiness and my joy,” Angel murmured in reply, listening to the erratic beating of her heart pounding against his chest. His lips curved up in a smile. He could stay with her in their isolation indefinitely.

“Well, for two days at least.” She said without opening her eyes. Instantly she wished she could take back the words, wanting no reminder of the short time they had.

“No,” He admonished softly, opening his eyes and hugging her close as he brushed a kiss on her hair, “for always in my heart…”

In the heated bliss of the next two days, they both lost track of time and refused to think of anything beyond Christmas day and the end of their passionate holiday.

He kissed her gently as they lay beside the fire, enjoying the fire and the fading day.

“We have to go soon.” He whispered, stroking her hair. He was mentally calculating the time it would take to get to the airport so Buffy could catch her flight back to England. She was staying with Giles and the others as the former Watcher worked to rebuild the council and find Watchers for the activated Slayers.

She nodded against his chest, but otherwise didn’t stir.

“I don’t want you to miss your flight.” He sighed regretfully, tucking her closer.

“I know. I wish we didn’t have to go.” Buffy replied sadly, her words muffled against his skin.

He gently touched her cheek. “I’m sorry.”

“I understand.” She tilted her head back and looked up at him then. “And it’s not forever, right?”

“No.” He brushed a kiss across her lips, wanting to believe more than anything that he wasn’t lying to her. “You’ll come back to me.”

She was so quiet for a moment that he wondered if he had said something wrong.

“I… hope so, Angel.” Her distress was plain.

“You will.” He insisted adamantly, gathering her tightly in his arms. His eyes burned into hers intently, demanding that she believe him.

“I…” Buffy’s eyes filled with tears. She wasn’t sure what the future would hold for either of them. She might lose him to one of Wolfram and Hart’s malicious schemes, she might lose him to some other evil that he faced as part of his quest for redemption, she might lose him again to his own assessment of his lack of self-worth, or, she might just lose him anyway. Nothing was certain. Sadness filled her so completely she thought she might suffocate.

Always before she thought having these moments together made the heart break of their separation bearable, but now she wasn’t so sure. Days, weeks, and finally months would pass and she would get closer to learning how to cope without him, then she would see him, she would be able to touch him and love him and she would be reminded again of what she didn’t have. And once more, her heart was ripped asunder. She would again be left feeling bereft, abandoned and empty.

“I love you, Buffy.” He brushed a kiss across her temple. He could still feel the tension in her body. She was pulling away from him emotionally, and it pained him like nothing else did or could. “You know nothing will ever change that.”

“I love you.” She murmured, kissing him softly before moving from his embrace and sitting up, separating herself before she burst into tears. He had too much to worry about right now; she didn’t need to be another burden.

“Call me. When it’s safe and when you can.” She said, forcing a calmness to her voice that she didn’t feel. She stood, moving across the room to gather her things. She didn’t even want to shower yet and wash away the feel of him from her skin.

“I will.” He stood, the perfection of his tall form silhouetted by the firelight. The lights and ornaments from the Christmas tree twinkled behind him, their cheerful sight incongruous to the feelings of dread filling her.

Would she ever see him again? She wondered, as studied him, trying to etch this moment in her mind. Would she ever taste his kiss or see his smile? His hair was mussed from their earlier lovemaking, and she ached to bury her fingers in the thick mass. Instead, she turned away.

“You make it all worth it, you know.” He moved toward her, slipping his arms around her waist. He’d known her long enough to know what was going through her head; what they both thought each and every time they met and then had to part. It tore him apart too. But this time. this time was different. He could feel it. Things were changing now. He knew, more than ever, that they would someday have their life together. How or why, he couldn’t say. But as far as feelings went. he knew. Their future, their time together… it was coming. He just couldn’t say the words, too afraid of jinxing it somehow.

They made love one last time, sweetly, tenderly. Lingering for almost two hours past when they should have left because they couldn’t seem to bring themselves to leave.

The conversation on the drive back to Los Angeles was limited, both of them aware of the end of another all too brief sojourn. Instead, they held hands and listened to the music on the radio.

“I’m sorry,” Angel said, holding her in his arms one last time just outside LAX. He couldn’t quite bring himself to let her go.

“I understand,” Buffy replied, closing her eyes and rubbing her cheek against his chest.

“Thank you for arranging all of this.” She forced a smile as she looked up at his face.

Angel sighed at the inevitable and released her. “I wanted to see you,” he said softly, “And I’ll miss you.”

Buffy smile wavered at the poignant feeling of loss his words evoked. “I’ll miss you too.” Picking up her bags, she turned and walked into the airport without a backward glance.

They never said goodbye; that was part of the deal.

With a heavy feeling in his heart, Angel returned to the Range Rover. There would no doubt be questions as to his whereabouts when he returned to Wolfram and Hart, and he didn’t look forward to coming up with excuses and explanations.

Glancing back one last time at the doorway where Buffy had disappeared, Angel smiled faintly. “Soon, love. I promise.”