This is pretty much a transition chapter as we start to move to closure. A thousands apologies that it took so long to get written and posted – I had a major case of writers block in addition to being a little overloaded with RL stuff.
“I still have to call their landlord,” Maggie Walsh was saying to Ethan Rayne as they strolled casually through Sunnydale’s Woodridge park so their conversation would not be overheard and their meeting would appear to be only a chance happening. “Though, I have my doubts that he’ll be able to provide anything more that might be useful. I am, however, certain that Ms. Rosenberg will break down once we move forward with the official proceedings. She was amazingly transparent during my interview.”
“Oh?” Ethan replied disinterestedly, his gaze focused intently on the young woman jogging with her dog that was approaching them at a steady pace.
Once the woman passed by, Dr. Walsh continued, “She gave me the same basic story that all the others have about Ms. Summers and Mr. O’Connor’s meeting and subsequent marriage, but she stammered a lot and refused to make eye contact most of the time.” The BCIS agent let out a malevolent chuckled as she recalled the interview with the young couple only earlier that morning, “Her boyfriend held her hand and tried to cover up when she fumbled. It was… cute in a nauseating sort of way. Still, it was painfully obvious that she was lying in attempt to cover for her friends. Her deposition with the DA should prove quite enlightening.”
“Fine, fine, but quite frankly, I’m not interested in pursuing this matter any further,” the wealthy investment banker stated calmly, his gaze now locked on something in the distance. To anyone watching, it would appear as if he had only the slightest interest in their conversation, which was quite close to the truth. He had all but dismissed it from his mind until Maggie Walsh had called earlier wanting to speak to him. Almost as an afterthought he added, “Although I suppose if you do have sufficient evidence to deport Mr. O’Connor, there is no reason you shouldn’t continue with your report.”
“It hasn’t been an easy case,” Maggie declared bitterly, her jaw clenching in anger at the casual regard Ethan Rayne seemed to place on her time and efforts over the past months. “I’ve worked on this longer than I should have, against advice from my management, and with not much to go on given that you’ve made the key witness to the whole façade off limits. Given that particular restriction, the fact that I think I have any basis at all for making a case, is rather remarkable.” Her case was weak; at this point it was dependent on the testimony of a nervous girl and some circumstantial but inconclusive facts. It was only her reputation as one of the most competent and capable agents at the BCIS that would even get a case such as this one reviewed by the District Attorney.
“You will still be compensated for your time, Maggie,” Ethan murmured smoothly, his annoyance with the BCIS agent hidden. His outward appearance was always carefully controlled; it was one of the many reasons he had been as successful as he had been in his various business ventures.
“If you would let your granddaughter speak to me, we would be certain to bring the case to a satisfactory close.” Dr. Walsh persisted, hiding her relief that the banker didn’t intend to forgo their earlier agreement simply because he had apparently changed his mind about wanting Angel O’Connor deported. Now it was as much for the large sum that he had promised as it was for her ego and her growing dislike of the young couple that seemed to thwart her at every turn. Her reputation was on the line, and she wanted to prove to Doug Flutie that she had in fact, been right after all.
“Cordelia will not be dragged into this.” Ethan said, his voice as cold as ice as he reiterated his stance on the matter. “Angel O’Connor is no longer involved in her life and that is sufficient. I believe I had made my position on that abundantly clear several times.”
“Of course,” Maggie bit out almost apologetically, “then let me assure you that I plan to wrap the case up within the next month. I have meetings in Washington over the next two weeks that are unavoidable, otherwise I would complete the process sooner.”
“Fine.” The investment banker replied, his thoughts already moving on to other matters. “Your fee will be sent immediately on receipt of the final report. I would also like a copy of any papers that you file with the agency or the District Attorney, should you do so.” Despite his relative disinterest in the matter now, Ethan was detailed and thorough. He would make sure that there was nothing in the case that would be damaging to any of his interests. With a nod of dismissal, he turned on his heel and strolled away.
Dr. Walsh stood where he had left her for a few seconds before she too, turned and left the park. Neither of them noticed the man that had been sitting on the bench across the grassy slope feeding the ducks and watching them.
The O’Connor’s apartment was bustling with laughter, conversation, and activity as everyone put the finishing touches on their costumes in preparation for the annual Halloween Party at the Delta Sigma Chi house.
Buffy gave an answering shout to the knock on the door, then smiled in the mirror as Angel opened the door to the small bathroom. She finished dabbing a trace of color on her lips, then turned to look at her husband who stood behind her now leaning against the closed door. Her gaze swept over him slowly from head to toe then up again, her eyes widening in surprise. Carnal urgency, heated and potent, struck Buffy like a blow.
“So, uh…” she stammered slightly, searching for words. They couldn’t go out. Specifically, he couldn’t go out. Not dressed like that. Angel was far too handsome, but dressed like that… he was positively sinful. Wicked was perhaps more appropriate a description, she thought, unconsciously running her tongue over her pink-tinted lips. The black silk shirt and form-fitting black leather pants he wore were in stark contrast to the white, brightly lit bathroom, but the warmth of his smile mitigated his almost predatory and intimidating appearance.
As the now familiar warm and tingly feelings that always seemed to accompany the sight of her husband washed over her, Buffy wondered if there would ever come a day when it would take more than just a look from him for her to want him. She was far too easily affected by his presence. She took a step toward him, a playful smile on her face. “What exactly is your costume?”
“I’m a vampire.” Angel stated as if it should be quite obvious, amusement in his eyes. He held out his arms and looked down before returning his gaze to her face.
“A vampire?” she questioned, one dainty brow lifting skeptically as she moved closer. “I thought vampires wore capes and white tuxedo shirts and medals and stuff.” She traced the silky, rich fabric of his shirt with her fingertips before placing her hands on his biceps and squeezing.
“Ah, my pretty Little Red Riding Hood, you have so much to learn,” he murmured, yanking her closer and nuzzling his face into her neck causing goose bumps to rise along her arms. “That look is so last century. I’m your modern master vampire. Only the finest leathers and Italian silks and the best designers will do.” He nipped her neck and Buffy gave a soft trill of laughter.
“Oh?” A melting heat flared inside her and her pulse raced. She tilted her head to the side to give him better access. “The fangs…” she gasped as he bit down on the smooth column of her throat, “are a nice touch.” As he suckled hard on the soft skin, her eyes closed and she wondered if they had to go out after all. Maybe they could just send their friends to the party and they could stay home. Her fingernails dug into his arms as she clutched him closer.
“Mmm… thanks,” Angel whispered, his breath warm against her skin, “I have brow ridges and yellow contacts to complete the look. Costume shop on main. I haven’t put them on yet – they’re not exactly comfortable.”
“Ah.” Buffy acknowledged simply, her thoughts not on the particulars of his costume. Turning her head, she searched for his lips. His mouth found hers and he forced her lips open, plunging his tongue deep inside. Greedy for his kiss, she pulled his head down to her as she strained upward on tiptoe and rubbed her body against his tall, muscular form.
At the sharp knock on the door followed by a joking shout, they reluctantly broke apart.
“Just a minute!” Angel yelled in response to Wesley’s teasing commentary that could be heard through the door. Looking down at Buffy’s red and white checked gingham dress and red hooded cape, he added with a lecherous smile, “Though, if I had seen your costume, I probably would have gone as the big bad wolf.”
Pulling out of his arms and stepping back as far as the small bathroom would allow, Buffy’s gaze swept over him critically. “Well, I like this costume much better than some furry wolf suit.”
“Really?” Pushing away from the door, Angel moved aside as Buffy reached for the doorknob.
“Oh, definitely,” she murmured, glancing over her shoulder at him suggestively. “It’s…” she pursed her lips thoughtfully as her eyes drifted down his tall frame once again, “well, for lack of a better word, hot. And besides…” An innocent smile curved her lips as she opened the door and stepped out into the hall, “It’s given me an idea for a naughty little fantasy. Something about being ravished by a vampire…”
Catching her around the waist before she could take two steps, Angel grinned and pulled her back against his chest. “That so? Then I’ll have to see what I can do to fulfill that for you.” His words, whispered huskily against her ear, were filled with carnal promise.
“Nice that you two finally decided to join the rest of us,” Wes drawled from his casual position leaning against the wall near the door. He was wearing a crimson smoking jacket with black trim over a pair of grey slacks and slippers. He had a white satin scarf wrapped around his neck and in one hand he held a pipe.
“Let me guess, Hugh Hefner?” Buffy asked, attempting to turn her attention away from the heady desire racing through her veins at her husband’s provocative whispered words. “It’s a good look for you, Wes.”
“And the best part, it’s not even a costume. He already had the jacket.” Angel joked back, reluctantly releasing Buffy from his grasp and attempting to rein in his nearly rampant desire for his wife. “He wears it around his apartment all the time.”
“It is kinda cute.” Faith said with mock seriousness, adjusting the lapel of Wes’ jacket slightly. She was dressed as a girl scout, complete with a brown beret and sash covered with sewn on patches. However, with her tight white shirt unbuttoned almost to her navel, the short khaki skirt and fishnet tights, she was distinguished from any troop any of the guys had ever seen before. Not that there were any objections… and certainly none from Wes, who had already decided that he didn’t mind one bit being set up with the gorgeous brunette for the party tonight.
As the teasing between Angel and Wes continued, Buffy shook her head and slipped into the bedroom to retrieve the basket that was part of her costume. Willow was there finishing up dressing.
“Nice little mark you have there,” the red haired girl teased, shrugging into the parka of her Eskimo costume. Grinning, she pointed to the small purple bite mark on Buffy’s neck.
“Huh?” Buffy’s hand flew up to her neck where her friend was looking. Leaning over, she peeked in the mirror then turned an accusing glance at her husband who was now standing behind her and putting the finishing touches on his own costume.
“I’m a vampire, that’s what I do – bite.” Angel gave an innocent shrug then returned his attention to putting the golden contacts in his eyes.
Buffy was eyeing the small bruise, debating on whether she should attempt to hide it with makeup or not, when Oz stuck his head through the door. “You guys ready?” He was wearing an orange t-shirt with the words “This is my Halloween Costume” written in black block letters on the front.
“Yep,” Angel replied, reaching for Buffy’s hand and tugging her along with him. “Leave it. You can just say it’s a vampire mark.”
“It’s about time. Thought maybe we were going to have to wait while you two, you know…” Doyle said with a wink as Angel walked into the living room with Buffy in tow. He was sitting on the couch with his feet propped up on the coffee table, drinking a beer and flipping through a magazine while everyone else bustled around getting ready. Dressed in all black except for a red vest, horns and a pointed tail – his Devil costume was simple but seemed quite fitting for his mood. On the opposite couch, Gunn, dressed as a pirate, sat with his arm around Fred, who was a perfect replica of Alice in Wonderland.
It was almost ten by the time the group left for the party, the nine of them piling into Oz’s van for the short trip across town. When they arrived, the frat house was already filled with boisterous, costumed party-goers, the Halloween celebration in full swing.
Buffy stayed close to Angel, her hand held tightly in his as they mingled with their friends. He kept her close to him, ignoring the teasing comments from his friends about his unwillingness to be parted from his wife.
It was just after midnight, when Buffy, unable to find Angel in the dense crowd after returning from the bathroom, made her way along the edge of the room to where Doyle leaned negligently against the wall. They chatted briefly about the party and the various costumes when Buffy noticed that a cute brunette dressed as Tinkerbell kept sneaking looks over her friend’s heads in their direction. Buffy smiled, “I think you have an admirer.”
Doyle glanced up briefly before turning his attention back to his friend’s wife. “She seems a bit young.”
“Young?” Buffy’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “And you’re old?”
“No, but older than most here I would guess.”
“By what? A year? Two?” she laughed and shook her head slightly. “You’re probably at most five years older than she is, which isn’t that much. Angel’s five years older than I am.”
He looked down at her. “Ah, but you see Angel’s an unusually lucky man. You’re beautiful and smart, and he grabbed you up. Me, I’d end up with a bit of a shrew screeching on my arm every minute or a spoiled lass that would demand attention every minute.”
“Thank you, you’re very sweet.” Buffy smiled at the unaccustomed flattery. Doyle had been the most standoffish and unaccepting of Angel’s friends, or at least that had been her impression before tonight, so the compliment had been unexpected. “And I doubt that. She doesn’t look at all shrewish or spoiled, but you won’t know until you give her a chance…”
“No, I’m not sweet at all.” Doyle said bluntly. “I don’t tend to say things I don’t mean.”
Before she had a chance to answer, a low murmur rushed through the crowd. Taller than Buffy, Doyle was able to see more easily the cause of the commotion as they both looked toward the door.
“I’m feeling a bit parched and in need of a drink.” Doyle declared abruptly, holding out his elbow playfully as if offering to be her escort. “How about you? Feel like fighting your way through the crowd to the bar out back?”
Buffy frowned at him, wondering if he wanted her out of the room for some reason. She glanced back toward the entrance just as the crowd parted slightly and caught a glimpse of Cordelia, Harmony, Xander and some guy that Buffy didn’t recognize making their way into the room. It would, however, have been impossible to miss them; besides the crowd parting for them to enter, the attention that the women stirred caused almost everyone in the room to turn in their direction.
The men’s costumes were nothing out of the ordinary; Xander was dressed in camouflage complete with toy weapons while Harmony’s boyfriend, who Buffy quickly heard from whispers that his name was Spike, was dressed as a punk rocker with a leather collar, torn sleeveless t-shirt and tight black jeans. He wore thick black eyeliner and his blonde hair was gelled into pointed spikes. Following immediately behind the guys, were Harmony and Cordelia.
Harmony was dressed as Goldilocks in a very low cut and very short yellow and white print dress with a tiny white apron. She wore white stockings that ended mid-thigh and on her feet were black high heeled Mary-Jane type shoes. She carried a small brown stuffed bear in one hand and a small purse in the other. Cordelia was wearing a similar very short, very sexy costume, only hers was a white with a pink ruffles and lace as Little ‘Bo Peep. Her stockings were a sheer white and her shoes were a high, clear platform sandal. In one hand she carried a hooked staff, and under the other arm she carried a small stuffed sheep. As she seemed to saunter into the room, her gaze was intently focused and she was smiling at someone suggestively. And that smile was for one person alone – Angel.
Buffy stared as the crowd parted to let Cordelia through. The beautiful brunette was stunning; it was no wonder that the attention of most of the men in the room was now focused in that direction.
Turning from his conversation with Gunn, Angel watched as Cordelia approached. He had to admit that she was stunningly beautiful, but he could also easily admit that she no longer appealed.
“Angel.” Cordelia said, her smile intimate, as she stepped closer and ran her fingers up his chest. “I like your costume.” She inched closer, brushing her breasts against his arm as she glanced coyly up at his face. “Do you like mine?” Rising up on her toes she brushed his lips with hers, leaving no doubt as to her intentions.
Dismayed, Buffy choked back her feelings. She thought Angel’s relationship with Cordelia was over, but it appeared that she had been mistaken.
“I think I’ll take that drink now.” Buffy said abruptly, ignoring Doyle’s arm as she wiggled her way through the crowd in the hallway to the kitchen and out to the covered patio, where the bar, such as it was, was set up.
“Buffy, lass,” Doyle began after they had gotten their drinks and had moved to the relative quiet in one corner of the covered patio. He was surprised by the strong need he felt to comfort her, to reassure her of Angel’s affections.
“Don’t…” Buffy said, holding up one hand and taking a drink of the strong rum punch mixture that the young guy manning the bar pressed into her hand only seconds earlier. Forcing herself to breathe, she tried to remind herself that Angel had said that he wasn’t seeing Cordelia anymore. She needed to trust him. But still, it had been so very hard seeing them together, even briefly. And harder still, to see them kiss. “I’ve always known about them. From the very beginning of our marriage.”
“I understand. But you know there’s nothing to what you just saw in there?”
Buffy turned and looked out into the dimly lit yard. She sighed softly. “I… I don’t know that. I don’t know what I know.”
Doyle sat on the edge of the chair along the wall and stared at her, wondering what he could say. He could tell her what he thought Angel’s feelings were, but it would be meaningless. Angel needed to tell her himself.
“Trust me on this,” he said after a moment. “Even if they did have a thing… once, it’s over now. And even then, well, I’m certain that she didn’t mean a thing to him.”
“Then why would he…” Buffy paused, smiling ruefully. She took a deep breath. “I should talk to Angel about this. It’s my silly insecurities, not him. I just… I let it get to me sometimes.”
“I understand, lass, but you needn’t worry-”
“Buffy! There you are!” Willow called, pushing her way through small crowd standing in front of the makeshift bar to join them. Oz and Faith trailed close behind her. ” Cordelia’s out there doing her best ‘I’m a skanky ho’ impression. You’ve got to get back in there.”
“I agree with Red, B. You can’t just let slutty ‘Bo Peep rub all over your guy.” Faith added bluntly, giving Buffy a less than subtle nudge forward. “Go get your tail back in there.”
“I don’t know. It’s really crowded…” Buffy excused with a shrug, feeling a bit out of sorts. She didn’t want to chase the woman away from Angel, she wanted him walk away from temptation on his own.
“There you are. Angel’s looking for you,” Wesley declared, walking up to join them. He handed Faith one of the two red plastic cups filled with beer that he now carried.
“It’s nice that he remembered me after that.” Buffy muttered sardonically, the searing vision of Cordelia and Angel kissing still vivid in her mind.
“Yes, I remembered you,” Angel said from behind Wes, having swiftly shouldered his way through the crowd in search of Buffy just seconds after he unclasped Cordelia’s arms from his neck and managed his escape.
“We’re going to go get another drink,” Faith improvised, grabbing Wes’ hand. She ignored the obvious fact that they were both holding newly refilled cups and standing only a few feet from where the drinks where being served. Before they walked away, she gave Buffy a look that said she should talk to her husband and another to Willow and Doyle that hinted that they couple be left alone.
“We’re going to… dance,” Willow said abruptly, taking the cue. “Because there’s dancing. And music. And dancing. In the other room.” Trailing off self-consciously, she pointed to the other room. Oz gave a small shrug and half-smile, and followed his girlfriend toward the door.
Doyle stood. “I’ll leave you two alone to… discuss things,” he said with a wink to Buffy.
Angel smiled wryly. The time alone with his wife was appreciated, even if their friends were incredibly obvious in their going about it. He stepped close to Buffy, wrapping one arm around her waist. “Talk to me.” With his other hand hand, he tilted her head to look up at him. Their eyes met in the dim light. “Is something wrong?”
“I saw you… with Cordelia.” She quietly replied, unable to lie or dismiss her feelings of discord.
“You saw Cordelia behaving like a bitch in heat but I was not with her.” He didn’t pretend ignorance of the sexual overture offered to him, but he also had no desire to argue.
“You kissed her.” A touch of censure colored her tone.
“She kissed me. I couldn’t just shove her away, as much as I wanted to. She’d never forgive such a public rejection.” Angel explained, “Listen, I try to be nice to Cordelia because I don’t want her to go to the BCIS with the real story about our marriage. She’s unpredictable when she’s angry, and until we get things sorted out, I don’t want risk pissing her off. She knows too much about our situation that can be damaging.” Bending, he kissed her lightly on the lips. “I’m sorry. I don’t like it any more than you do. I got out of there as quickly as I could.”
She hesitated, trying to sort out her conflicting emotions.
“Sweetheart, I haven’t even had a thought of another woman since you and I decided to try to make this – our marriage – work.” His lips brushed her jaw as he leaned closer. “You’re everything I want and need – and then some.”
Buffy searched his face. His words weren’t exactly the declaration of his feelings that she had hoped for, but it would do – for now. Even with the golden eyes and sinister vampire fangs, she didn’t doubt the sincerity of his dark eyes. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to hers.
Several long and heated kisses later, he slid his lips along the smooth column of her neck and murmured, “Mmmm… You taste good.”
His closeness sent an irrepressible shiver up her spine, and she wished again that they had just stayed home.
“Let’s find somewhere else to continue this.” Taking Buffy’s hand, he led them through the crowd and down the hallway until they reached an open door.
They had only just closed the door of the shadowed bedroom behind them when he pulled her into his arms and kissed her hungrily, as if it had been days or weeks instead of hours since he last held her in his arms. Walking two steps backward, he pressed her up against the door. With his hands flat on the wall on either side of her head, he leaned close so she could see into his eyes. “And now I’ve caught you…” His tone was suggestive, playful.
A tremor of excitement course through her veins and Buffy sighed softly.
“You’re mine,” he whispered heatedly, his lower body moving ever so slightly against hers. His hands slipped downward and closed on her hips, pulling her hard against him so she could feel the extent of his arousal. “To do with what I want.”
His words ignited a scorching heat deep within her, her response immediate, fierce with need and memory of his earlier promise. “We can’t… not here…” she breathed, flustered. She could hear the sounds of people talking in the hallway right outside the very door she was pressed against.
“Yes, we can.” He murmured against her lips as his mouth covered hers, cutting off the rest of her sentence, her protest dying away with a sigh in his mouth.
His erection was blatant against her stomach, black leather and checked gingham gliding against each other in the smallest undulations. He murmured deep in his throat – half groan, half sigh – as he leaned into her soft, curvaceous body. His kiss changed subtly, deepened, his mouth forcing hers open, his tongue exploring, tasting, sliding deep into her mouth as a prelude to the more tantalizing offer of his hard body against hers.
“You’re mine, little Red, any where I want you,” he breathed into her ear. “Any way I want you.”
Buffy stifled a moan as lust spiked through her, jolting her senses. He was all muscle and hard strength beneath the slick silk of his shirt, the feel of the broad expanse of his back triggering memories of nights in his arms. The soft leather of his pants brushed her legs, adding to the dizzying rush of desire racing through her veins.
“I want to see you,” he said softly, nibbling on her bottom lip. With the weight of his lower body keeping her pinned against the door, he untied her red cape. Tugging it from behind her, he laid it over the chair on his left. Next, he raised his hand and ran his fingers along the neckline of her dress. He touched her breasts, rubbing the rounded mounds as her nipples hardened into aching points. Reaching behind her, he unzipped her dress enough to pull the fabric down her arms and expose her lace clad breasts.
Buffy slipped her own hands out of the short sleeves, leaving the top of the dress hanging around her waist as she reached up to clasp his shoulders again. She gasped when he pulled her bra down impatiently, baring her breasts. He squeezed and kneaded before delicately pinching her nipples between his fingers. A few seconds later, he unhooked her bra completely, pulling it from her and tossing it on top of her red cape.
Buffy bit her lip to keep from crying out with pleasure when he closed his hot, wet mouth over one hard nipple and sucked. Moving from one breast to the other, his velvet soft tongue licked and swirled, his teeth nibbled and bit as he crushed her skirt in his hand, lifting it up. The points of his costume fangs digging into her flesh only added to the shocking pleasure.
She opened her eyes just long enough to obey the husky demand, turning in his arms.
“Spread your legs.” His knee nudged her legs apart as his hands pulled her skirt up over the rounded curve of her behind. Her lace thong was slipped down her legs and tucked in his pocket in one smooth motion just before he stepped forward, his erection firm against her bottom, his chest a hard wall against her back.
His hands glided over her slowly, exploring, teasing as the low sounds of the ongoing party came to them through the door. He caressed her breasts, teasing the hard, aching peaks with his fingertips before dipping down to trace the curve of her hips.
Buffy dropped her head back to his chest when one strong arm curved around her waist to draw her back against him. The long fingers of his other hand glided along her stomach and slipped through her curls before moving lower, to stroke between her thighs. Her breath strangled in her throat as he deliberately caressed and probed with rhythmic attention.
She moaned softly as her body tensed, arching, reaching for that steadily beckoning climax. Reaching up, she circled her arms around his neck as she ground her bottom into his groin.
Angel whispered heated suggestions against her ear as he continued on, pushing her ever closer until at last, reality fractured and the shuddering sensations peaked.
Breathing heavily, the rapturous pleasure slowly beginning to subside, Buffy glanced over her shoulder at him and met his gaze. Lowering his head, Angel pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder. “Now bend over, I’m coming in…”
Biting her lower lip in anticipation, she leaned forward slightly and braced her hands against the door. She felt his hands caressing her bottom, her hips, the backs of her thighs, slipping once more between her legs. She heard the zipper of his pants just before she felt him shift closer, the smooth leather brushing her thighs. His erection nudged her wet cleft and she leaned her back, encouraging him. She gasped softly when he thrust forward, filling her completely.
Holding himself motionless for a moment, Angel gritted his teeth. The feel of her hot, tight wetness surrounding him without the familiar latex barrier tested his control. It was only recently that they had been able to forgo the condoms, Buffy now on the pill, but each time he marveled at the difference in sensations.
His fingers gripped her hips hard as he began to withdraw then return, settling in a steady, plundering rhythm.
Buffy was soon inundated with desire, insensible to all but the steadily increasing pace of his movements. Her breathing grew ragged and her pulse raced as she moved in perfect concert with him until they were both barely clinging to sanity. Harder, faster he thrust until the whirling ecstasy broke, leaving them both shuddering, his arms wrapped tightly around her.
A short while later, he helped her adjust her wrinkled clothing and between kisses, tried to reassure her that no one would know what they had been up to. Of course, with his satisfied smile and her flushed cheeks and rumpled dress, it wasn’t hard for their friends to figure out.
The teasing was ribald and constant, but strangely, tucked in the curve of her husband’s protective arm contentedly, Buffy didn’t mind.
Angel answered the knock on the door and the welcoming smile immediately slipped from his face. “I would invite you in,” he offered politely though his tone was cool, “but I’m sure you have pressing business elsewhere and can’t stay.”
“I’m recommending that charges be filed against you and Ms. Summers. My report will be in the DA’s office by the end of the month.” Dr. Walsh said unceremoniously, a malicious smile curving her lips. Her blue eyes were icy cold. “I suggest that you start packing.”
“While I appreciate your concern for my belongings,” Angel replied sarcastically, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the door frame, “I think I’ll wait until an official decision is rendered by the courts.”
“You do that, Mr. O’Connor,” the BCIS agent countered smoothly, “thought I can say with a fair degree of confidence that you will be sorry.”
“I’m willing to take my chances.” Angel challenged calmly, prepared to brazen his way through the conversation with the unpleasant agent. Already though, his mind was shifting through several possible next steps. They only had another four weeks of classes before the quarter ended. If Dr. Walsh presented her case this month it would likely be stalled due to the holidays so chances were good that they could at least finish their classes up for the quarter. After which, he could take Buffy back to Ireland. They were probably too late to get applications in for the spring semester at any of the schools there, but they would at least be free from any sort of legal action. They could stay there for the next couple of years if necessary then they could return to the U.S. He hated throwing a wrench in Buffy’s plans, and he’d probably be giving up any shot at a career with the FBI, but he wasn’t about to put Buffy at risk.
His tone pricked her temper, but Maggie Walsh was too professional and too calculating to let it show. Instead, she gave a single nod of acknowledgement and switched topics to the real reason she had stopped by the apartment complex. “I’m looking for your landlord, Lorne. He hasn’t returned my calls.”
“Lorne only owns the building, he doesn’t actually live here. His place is across town, but you won’t find him there either. He’s in Bali. Vacation.” Angel said casually, a little surprised that Dr. Walsh hadn’t already discovered those facts for herself, seeing how she appeared to be quite resourceful and diligent, not to mentioned extremely detailed. “He said he was staying through Christmas in fact.”
“I see.” The BCIS Agent said in clipped tones. “Then I assume that you have a number where he can be reached? Or would you like to provide an alternative reference?”
“He’s at the Ritz Carlton, Jimbaran,” he replied after a brief hesitation. “I don’t have the number, but I’m sure it’s easy enough to find.”
“Thank you.” Dr. Walsh returned with a cool smile. “Have a nice day, Mr. O’Connor.” Her case was still weak and she knew it, but she also knew that a good bluff would often send the guilty running. At the very least, it would give them some sleepless nights.
The Thanksgiving holiday was a welcome respite from the increased pressure of classes as the term neared its end, and the O’Connor’s spent their days in blissful companionship.
They slept late in the mornings, a pleasant rarity due to the holiday weekend, and made love often. Weather permitting, they sat on the small deck and enjoyed the sunshine, or took walks along the neighborhood streets or to the beach.
After a late and leisurely breakfast of eggs, fruit and toast one morning, with a fire burning in the small fireplace, Buffy settled on one couch to read while Angel lounged out on the other, his sketch pad in hand.
He drew the rough outline of the background with quick strokes, brushing in some semblance of texture for the sage green sofa then concentrated on the lithe figure of his wife stretched out before him.
He worked without saying a word for almost an hour, sketching carefully to capture the graceful lines of her casual sprawl, the curve of her hip, the small of her back, slight tilt of her head as she concentrated. When he started to fill in her face, he slowed, taking enormous pains to capture the delicate beauty of her features, wanting to show the quixotic temperament that charmed and lured, the depth and brilliance of her eyes that captured him so easily, the curve of her lips that enticed him, even now, to kiss her.
“What are you drawing?” Buffy inquired after a while, noting his intense concentration.
“You,” he replied with a small smile, not looking up from his work.
“Oh? Are you finished yet?” She asked curiously, closing her book and starting to roll off the couch.
“No,” he murmured softly. “Stay there for another fifteen minutes.”
Settling back into position on the sofa, she waited. After a few minutes, she shifted restlessly, impatient.
“Am I naked?” She inquired teasingly.
“Not yet.” He replied, his smile insinuating. His eyes flicked up to hers for a brief second.
“Have you drawn anyone… like that?” She asked curiously, shifting her pose yet again, her head resting on one arm.
“Not in a while.” He equivocated, not entirely sure if he wanted to go into details of his brief relationship with Darla years ago. “Probably not since an art class I took through a private studio. Why? Would you pose for me?”
She laughed, a hint of color fusing her cheeks, “Maybe.”
“I could probably draw you from memory.” Angel said after a few minutes of contemplation as he put the finishing touches on the drawing. Abruptly he stood and walked over to the couch where she lay on her stomach. He set the sketch in front of her as he sat down next to her.
“You’re very good.” She commended softly, studying the drawing. It was beautiful; she was beautiful, the way he had drawn her. Was that really how he saw her?
“It’s really beautiful.” She could feel him behind her, leaning down to drop the light skimming kiss on the back of her neck.
“It’s the subject. You’re beautiful,” he murmured, stroking her hair spreading it over her shoulders. “And now I want you naked.”
His words sent a tremor of anticipation soaring through her body and Buffy closed her eyes. She could feel the heat of his hands through the cotton of her t-shirt as they roved over her back, and down her hips.
“Take off your clothes,” he whispered huskily against her ear. “I’ll be right back.”
She had only just slipped off her shirt when Angel returned. He spread a fluffy blanket on the floor in front of the fire and next to it set a small round bottle. Next he stripped off his shirt and dropped it carelessly on the sofa. His pants followed. With a wicked smile on his face, he beckoned for her to come to him.
Buffy removed the rest of her clothes, shivering slightly at the cool air on her bare skin, and walked the few steps over to him until they stood just inches apart.
He brushed her face with his fingertips, leaning down to kiss her brow, her cheekbone, her jaw. He traced the full shape of her lips with his tongue before his mouth took possession of hers in a deep sensual kiss. He lifted her then, and lowered her to the blanket in front of the fire.
Urging her on to her stomach, he lifted her hair out of the way, then reached for the small bottle. He poured the scented oil in his palms, warming it, then smoothed it in sensuous, sweeping strokes along her back, kneading and massaging. Moving lower, he ran his palms slowly over the curve of her hips and the firm round swell of her bottom. She gasped when he kissed then gently bit the tempting flesh, then tensed as his fingers slid wickedly between the cheeks of her behind, arousing unusual but pleasurable sensations that made her quiver. His expert hands drifted lower then, working with long, smooth strokes along her thighs all the way to her feet.
Buffy sighed blissfully. The delicious fragrance of ripe peaches drifted to her, and her body turned from cool to hot as he continued to massage her firm, tanned skin until it practically gleamed in the firelight.
After a while, he encouraged her to turn over, only to begin again, his slick fingers gliding along her throat, down the valley of her breasts to her taut stomach and again down her thighs to her feet.
With patience and skill, he massaged the scented oil into every part of her body. As he worked, his voice, low and vibrating with passion flowed over her. He whispered heated promises of pleasure, telling her everything he wanted to do to her, reminding her of how he could make her feel and how she made him feel. He coaxed and petted and caressed, until she was almost breathless, panting with need.
Leaning over her, he tongued one hard nipple before sucking it into his mouth with a soft murmur of pleasure. His long fingers stroked her stomach before moving lower, between her legs to her damp and swollen sex. He explored gently, teasingly, before easing one finger inside her. She parted her legs further and arched into his hand encouragingly.
Her breath caught in her throat at the tremulous flurry of pleasure racing through her system from the explicit touch. He continued the dexterous rhythm even as he shifted position, moving over her.
The firelight gave the room a magical glow, gilding their entwined bodies and adding to their heated senses that afternoon. Buffy purred with satisfaction as he filled her again and again, bringing them both resplendent pleasure with unbridled stamina and finesse.
“This case has been under investigation for, what six months?” Lindsey curtly inquired, glancing up from his position across the desk to make eye contact with the BCIS director, Doug Flutie. “Is that typical?”
“About that, yes. It’s not atypical, though it’s a little surprising.” Director Flutie answered in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Quite honestly, Mr. McDonald, as I told you on the phone earlier, I would have to say there’s just not much of a basis for a case here.” Doug leaned back in his chair, pressing his hands together over his midsection, his fingers steepled. “The circumstances are suspect, yes, but I’m inclined to think it’s more a case of young lust and someone wanting to save themselves for marriage than a deliberate intent to defraud the government or some nefarious plan to keep Mr. O’Connor in the country. Which, quite frankly, the former is how I ended up married and I’m pleased to say that we’ll be celebrating our twenty-fifth in the fall.”
“Congratulations.” Lindsey glanced up from the file he was reviewing. “It’s nice to hear that some people actually stay married. That’s rare these days.”
“Thank you. And yes, it is, isn’t it? There are certainly worse things to base a marriage on than simple attraction.” Director Flutie smiled and cast an affectionate glance at the family photo on his desk. “Are you married, Mr. McDonald?”
“No, I’ve managed to avoid taking the plunge so far,” the young P.I. replied with a smile, his green eyes twinkling in amusement.
“Ah well, it’s a matter of finding the right woman.” Doug commented affably.
“And finding the time to do that,” Lindsey countered with a shrug, returning his attention to the paperwork in his hand. “Something I just don’t seem to have enough of lately.”
“Yes, yes.” Director Flutie agreed with a nod.
“Anything else about the case strike you?” Lindsey questioned, setting the file on the desk now that he had finished his perusal of the contents.
“Well, in terms of peculiar… Dr. Maggie Walsh – the agent doing the investigation – is one of our best, and yet she didn’t interview the person that signed their wedding license as a witness, a…” The BCIS Director picked up the file, flipped it open and scanned the contents for what he was seeking. “Ah, here we go – a Ms. Cordelia Chase.” Glancing back up, he mused, “Unless the report of it is not in the file, but that would also be unlike Maggie. Other than that, the only other item of note is the fact that there’s not much to justify continuing the investigation. In all honestly, I would have thought that Maggie would have simply filed a completion report and moved on to another case by now.”
“Your agent – Dr. Walsh – does seems to have a dogged interest on this one, doesn’t she?” Lindsey inquired, watching the BCIS Director’s face carefully for a reaction.
“Yes, it would seem so.” Doug answered honestly, his expression slightly perplexed as he considered the reasons.
“It seems to me to be exactly the kind of thing that a Director of the BCIS would want to put a stop to.” His tone was circumspect, despite the loosely veiled suggestion. “After all, it’s inefficient use of valuable and limited resources, wasting time on a case like this one when there are so many others.”
Doug Flutie studied Lindsey’s face for a moment before he gave a slight nod.
“Thank you for your time.” Lindsey rose gracefully to his feet and extended his hand across the desk. “And your cooperation.”
“It’s no problem.” Doug replied, shaking the younger man’s hand pleasantly. “Although, do you mind if I ask what the Bureau’s interest is in this particular case?”
“I don’t mind if you ask, if you don’t mind that I don’t answer.” Lindsey replied with a friendly smile. “That information is-”
“Classified?” Director Flutie interjected.
“Not exactly,” Lindsey replied with wry smile, “But then I’m not at liberty to discuss it at this time.”
“I understand.” Doug nodded good-naturedly.
“Oh, before I forget…” The young P.I. reached into the case that he carried and withdrew a manila envelope. “I have something that might interest you.”
“What is it?” The BCIS Director asked curiously as he took the envelope from Lindsey’s hand. Opening it, he glanced inside to see what appeared to be a small stack of neatly arranged papers and several photographs.
“Take a read through there, I think you’ll see. And, uh, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention where you got that.” Lindsey added cryptically. “Thank you again.” With a brief wave he left the office.
When the brunette beauty approached the table, Buffy looked up. Rebecca Lowell, attractive and sophisticated, introduced herself with a friendly smile. “You’re Buffy, right? The guy at the counter said you might be able to help me. I’m looking for Angel.”
“Well, he’s supposed to be here in about an hour.” Buffy answered politely, her curiosity piqued. How did the woman know Angel? Her name wasn’t even familiar, so Buffy was almost certain that he had never mentioned her before.
“I told him I would take him up on his offer to study tonight, and I was worried that I was going to be late.” The attractive brunette offered in a tone that intimated that the offer had meant more than just study.
“Oh?” She studied the woman again, noting the stylish cropped hair, the low-cut red blouse, short black leather skirt and high heels that were more suited for a night at the Bronze than a study date at the Espresso Pump. By comparison, Buffy felt downright dowdy in her low-rise jeans and simple black sweater, her hair pulled back in a smooth pony tail.
“So, since you’re his roommate, you must know all of Angel’s secrets,” Rebecca said as she helped herself to the chair next to Buffy. “Tell me about him. I want to know everything.”
Buffy’s eyebrows quirked up in surprise. Roommate? Roommate?!
Rebecca’s further words went unheard as Buffy worked to collect her thoughts before she finally spoke, “So, uh, Rebecca, just how did you say you knew Angel? Because he’s never mentioned you…” She couldn’t resist including that last barb, unable to stave off the unwanted feelings of jealousy creeping over her.
“Oh, well. I don’t know that he would,” Rebecca countered defensively. “We only met recently, and he offered to help me with Criminology and in return, I offered to show him around. Explore the Sunnydale social scene a bit since he said he doesn’t get out much. Being a foreign exchange student is lonely at times. I know because I spent a year abroad myself, studying in Paris.”
“I see.” Buffy said, her temper barely in check. Even the woman’s voice had an elegant lilt to it. It grated. “Well, thank you, Rebecca, for your… generosity. But if my husband is lonely and needs to ‘explore’ the Sunnydale social scene, he’ll be doing it with me.”
“Husband?” The attractive brunette questioned with a lift of her perfect brows.
“Yes, husband.” Buffy replied coolly, setting her pencil down on her book and crossing her arms over her chest.
“Hm, well, I guess he’s not the happily married type, since he didn’t tell me he was married when he was fucking me the other day,” Rebecca retorted with a malicious smile, leaning across the table as if to impart a secret. “Though I can see why you’d put up with such, er, indiscretions. He’s amazing.”
Buffy’s stomach lurched at the confident words, but nothing showed on her face.
“Tell him I said hello and I’m sure I’ll see him later.” Rebecca continued in a confident purr, completely undeterred by the anger she saw in the other woman’s eyes. She rose to her feet and gave a casual wave as she strolled out of the Espresso Pump.
Angel heard Buffy before he saw her, the sound of her laughter distinct to him even among the noise in the crowded Espresso Pump.
“So we found her,” Doyle casually remarked, keeping pace with Angel as he wove his way through the tables in search of his wife. “Good sleuthing on your part. Must be all that criminal justice training.”
“Must be. Though having an agreed upon time and place for meeting helps too,” Angel joked back as he scanned the crowd for a familiar blonde head.
“She seems to be enjoying herself,” Doyle added as the sound of laughter came to them again. “Maybe there’s no need for you to worry as much about her being stressed as you thought then.” Earlier that evening Angel had shared his concerns with his friend about Buffy taking on too much, between work, school classes and the added stress of the as yet unclosed BCIS investigation. He was trying to find a way to tell her that she could cut her hours at Patina – or quit entirely if she wanted – but hadn’t yet found a way to bring it up for discussion. Given how self-sufficient she wanted to be, he wasn’t sure it was an argument he could win either.
“Maybe,” Angel returned, catching sight of his wife and coming to a sudden stop. He had not expected to find his wife sitting – and laughing – with an overzealous, panting Riley Finn.
His eyes shifted to Riley and he took in the hopeful expression, the adoring gaze in the puppy dog eyes. Outrage flared through his senses, pushing aside his earlier feelings of relief. How dare he think she was available? She was his, he thought moodily.
“Want something? I’m going to grab a coffee.”
His friend’s voice sounded distant in the sudden turmoil of his thoughts. When Doyle tapped him on the shoulder, he turned his narrow-eyed, furious gaze on his friend.
Doyle followed the track of Angel’s earlier glance and immediately knew the direction of his thoughts. “I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“I’m sure.” His voice was low, but taut with anger.
“Don’t do something you’re going to regret,” Doyle warned softly, well aware of his friend’s temper and the recent, irrational jealousy he had shown with regards to his wife. He put one hand up to stop him.
“Don’t worry. I’m just going to go meet my wife,” Angel retorted, shaking off Doyle’s hand. And warn off the pup that’s drooling over her, he thought, his brows drawing together in a scowl.
With an exasperated sigh, Doyle watched as Angel wove his way through the small tables with a determined stride. He debated if he should follow, but then decided that it was highly unlikely that he could prevent whatever was going to happen from happening. Keeping one eye in that direction however, he walked over to stand in line to order.
Buffy stopped talking abruptly when Angel stepped next to the small table. Riley, following her gaze, also turned to look at the object of her attention.
“That’s my seat, Finn.” Angel tapped Riley on the shoulder hard enough that it was likely to leave a bruise.
“You weren’t in it.” Riley countered calmly. He had no intention of being ordered around by Buffy’s husband, particularly after overhearing the exchange between Buffy and Rebecca. It was pretty obvious that Angel O’Connor was fooling around, even if he hadn’t suspected as much after seeing him with Cordelia Chase at the Delta Sigma Chi Halloween party.
Angel leaned forward, resting one palm flat on the table, the other on the back of the chair. “I have no problem moving you. Your choice.”
Riley glanced into the dark eyes of the man practically leaning over him.
“Now that I have your attention,” Angel murmured smoothly, “I’d appreciate it if you’d stop drooling all over my wife. She’s not available to you or to anyone else.”
“You’re an ass, O’Connor.” Riley’s face was taut with anger.
“Maybe,” Angel said with a smirk. “But Buffy’s still in my bed at night isn’t she? That’s a sight you’ll never get to see Finn.”
“Oh, grow up,” Buffy lashed out, as hot-tempered as he after the meeting with Rebecca earlier that evening. Turning, she gave Riley a bland smile, “If you’ll excuse me… it was nice to see you again Riley. Thank you for the company.”
Grabbing her books and book bag, she shot Angel an angry look and stalked toward the door.
Angel caught up with her just inside the door and narrowing missed grabbing her hand as she left the building. Still, he caught up with her in two strides and pulled her to a stop.
“Just what is your problem?” Buffy hissed up at him, her green eyes dark with anger.
“My problem?” he replied, his voice a growl. “My problem is that I don’t like other men drooling over my wife. Or are you going to tell me you like that? That you want that boy’s company?”
“I don’t believe this! How dare you!” She remonstrated, her patience gone. “You’re the last person to-to making that kind of accusation. If we’re going to talk about drooling, let’s talk about Rebecca.”
“Rebecca Lowell? She stopped in looking for you.” She stared at him pugnaciously, her hands on her hips. “Oh, and by the way, she mentioned that when you were fucking her the other day, you forgot to tell her you were married.”
“What? What are you talking about?” His eyes narrowed and he looked at her in stunned surprise.
“Rebecca Lowell stopped by the Espresso Pump tonight looking for you. She understood that I was your roommate, which was an assumption that I corrected, then she mentioned that you apparently forgot to tell her that you were married when you were fucking her. Of course, that should probably happen before rather than during sex, but what do I know about these things?” she said, her voice snide and too sweet and taunting.
“I thought we went through this already.” Still surly with jealousy, he resented her accusation. Still, he understood her anger – it was similar to his own seemingly uncontrollable feelings. “First, how would I have energy or time to fuck anyone else when I’m with you every night and then some? Second, I’d never be stupid enough to meet you and someone else at the same place at the same time. And third, I’ve told you time and again, there is no one else in my life but you. I can’t do any more to prove that to you and, honestly, Buffy, I’m getting tired of this.”
“We did. We have. But they keep popping up: Cordelia, Nina, Kate and now this Rebecca,” she muttered, sullen and glowering. “You’re saying that they’d just decide to make up a story about the two of you for some reason? That you haven’t been with them? If you’re having sex with other women, I’d like to know.”
“No, I haven’t. And how the hell should I know how they think?” His frustration surged, particularly given the complete reversal of his behavior since their marriage.
“I’m just repeating what she told me,” Buffy retorted petulantly.
“So was Finn going to be a retaliation fuck?” His question was flippant and rude.
“Do I need one?” she hotly questioned, her anger flaring.
His head came up and his eyes gleamed darkly in the night. His soft laugh was unpleasant. “If you need a fuck, babe, you only have to ask.” He reached for her, only to find his hand slapped away.
“I’m not interested.” Her eyes were bright with unshed tears.
He didn’t move for a long moment, working to control his temper, as he studied her face. A sudden realization dawned and he sighed, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Look, a woman named Rebecca asked me to dinner the other day,” he began with a grimace, “I said, thanks but no thanks. It was during a class, and I wasn’t interested in getting into a conversation with her about why. I didn’t mention it because I dismissed it from my mind as soon as it happened.”
“Right, dinner.” Buffy snorted, unappeased. “That’s a nice way to put it.”
“If it happens again, I’ll be very sure to mention that I’m married.” His anger had deflated in light of Buffy’s revelation and his subsequent realization and now he was contrite. The thought of hurting Buffy had brought him up short and he regretted his temper and harsh words.
“She didn’t seem to care that you’re married,” she muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. Her lower lip extended in a pout. “None of them do.”
“Well I do. Her asking meant nothing to me. None of them do.” His voice was low, quiet. He reached out again and took her hand. “I’m sorry for what I said. I lost my temper when I saw you with Riley. I promise you Rebecca’s lies are not worth worrying about.”
“I know,” Buffy sighed, her temper dissipating with his words and his apology. She still had some lingering doubts; why would the woman lie out right? But then, she trusted Angel. She knew in her heart that he was telling her the truth. She also knew in her heart that if he wasn’t, she’d feel betrayed a thousand times over.
“I don’t know why, but I can’t think rationally when it comes to you,” he whispered, brushing a strand of hair that had escaped her ponytail behind her ear. “I just… react.” Drawing her close, he kissed her forehead.
“I’m jealous, I guess,” she confessed softly. She wanted him for herself only; she wanted him to love her as much as she loved him. But she wasn’t about to say that. “The women… they’re always so beautiful-”
“I’m sorry,” he interjected soothingly, his arms tightening around her, “but you, my beautiful wife, have nothing at all to be worried or jealous about.” He planted a soft kiss on her lips. “No one compares to you, sweetheart.”
“Let’s go home,” he murmured against her temple. “And I’ll prove it to you.”
Watching from the doorway just down the street as the couple walked away arm in arm, the figure hidden in the shadows smiled.