The first week after Angel lost his soul was the hardest, Buffy trying to cope with the emotions that would threaten to overwhelm her at the smallest reminder. Sometimes it was just a word or phrase, something that Angel might have said to her or that she might have said to him. Other times it was the smallest glimpse of something, perhaps his leather jacket or her Claddagh ring that would evoke the dreaded memories. It was even as simple as a glimpse in the shadows of a tall figure with dark hair and Buffy would suddenly feel as if she were suffocating, unable to breath or to think, but God help her, she could feel. She could feel, and it was a pain like nothing else she had ever known. It ripped her apart, tearing away at the love in her heart with guilt and anguish and remorse, creating an ache inside so severe that she just wanted to die.
Minutes turned to hours, hours turned to days, and days turned to weeks, and gradually time began to take the edge off; the pain never went away completely, but she learned to cope. Time gave her strength. The threat of tears came less and less often; her heart continued to beat though it no longer seemed to carry the hopeful cadence of love. Instead, a cold, painful emptiness settled inside her.
She missed him, her Angel, and no one seemed to understand what she had lost.
Her Watcher, her friends – they all looked at her with indifference in their eyes, as if turning against the man she loved should have been an easy decision. They offered sympathy in small doses – usually to mask their own fears and to make sure that she would do her duty and take away the object of their nightmares and her dreams. But, as much as she tried, she couldn’t simply cleave him in two: the before Angel and the after Angel.
Buffy moved through each day with determination, going from classes to training to slaying with willful tenacity before falling into bed exhausted each night just scant hours before dawn.
And invariably, each night she dreamt of Angel.
* * * * *
As was typical of a Friday night, the Bronze was crowded when Angelus strolled casually through the doors. Heads turned as the self-assured and sinfully handsome man made his way past the scantily clad, flirtatious girls just inside the door, a wicked smile his only acknowledgement of their attention or eager pleas to join them.
Buffy found both the ardent interest of the empty-headed girls and Angelus’ response irritating – as if the vampire needed easy prey or boosts to his already over-indulged ego. But even as she resented his presence and his appeal, a small wistful sigh escaped her at the thought that perhaps he was looking for her. She forced the yearning away, reminding herself that the man now staring at her from across the room was not her Angel, but rather the demon that wore his face.
Angelus had seen her immediately after he entered the crowded club, the gold of her hair recognizable to him in any circumstances. For a few brief seconds, he considered simply walking out again. He wasn’t sure why he had come or what he intended to do now that he was there. Was he like some callow, untried youth, hoping to glimpse the object of his lust from afar? What would she do, should he approach her? Could he take her out of the Bronze without a scene, much less a struggle? How much would he care if they did attract any attention?
Suddenly he felt in need of a kill; it had been almost two days since he’d last fed, indulging himself with rich, warm human blood instead of the animal crap that his souled self had subsisted on for years. Satiety might help to take the edge off his current hunger; it might help lessen his current obsession.
Glancing about the crowded club with a casual indifference, he assessed the possibilities for sustenance in the array of women dressed in a variety of tiny, suggestive outfits as well as the muscled young men, many of them perfectly suited to become minions – or more – should the mood strike him.
Before he had decided whether or not to succumb to the urge to feed, an attractive young woman with very short, dark hair cut in the latest cropped style, pressed against him. Her tiny black top barely covered her ample breasts, the thin, clingy material revealing every curve. Her trim waist was bare above the black leather mini-skirt, displaying her navel with the red winking skull belly-button ring perfectly. Leaning into him, she purred suggestively, “Would you like to dance?” Her eyes clearly indicated her availability for any type of dance he preferred as her arms snaked up his chest to his shoulders.
“Tempting,” Angelus murmured, his eyes meeting those stormy hazel green ones of his golden Slayer briefly from across the room. He was only partially aware of the girl pressed intimately against him, his attention focused instead on the woman that had been dominating his thoughts for the last few weeks. Even through the filter of his soul he recalled everything about her: her warmth, her taste, her smell, how she felt lying beneath him, even the breathy whimpers and soft moans that escaped her lips. His hunger surged, as did his lust. No, only a blonde would do tonight – even for something as trivial as nourishment. “But no.”
“We could find somewhere private,” the girl pleaded, licking her lips in anticipation. Her breasts were pressed firmly against his chest, her hips now undulating against his in invitation. That small shimmy alone usually guaranteed her success with her selected conquests.
“Some other time perhaps,” he replied dismissively, unaware of the exact words uttered smoothly out of habit. Disentangling her arms, he slipped away into the dark recesses of the club, leaving her pouting and disappointed behind him.
Buffy tried not to notice the woman rubbing against Angelus like a bitch in heat, but she felt obligated to keep him in her sight – Chosen one, Slayer, sacred duty, and all that. Still, the look of longing and disappointment on the girl’s face when he walked away from her was one that she regrettably recognized. And it filled her with resentment. She hated that he had the ability to hurt her so easily and that he seemed to take such pleasure in wielding that power. She wouldn’t doubt if he had come here tonight for just that reason – to hurt her – which was reason enough for her to stiffen her spine and her resolve once more to remain unaffected by his contemptuous games.
Angelus stopped on the far edge of the dance floor, indecisive again. He knew that Buffy was watching him out of the corner of her eye, which was one of the only reasons he smiled encouragingly at the blonde on the dance floor. With seductive, subtle moves, she danced closer until she was directly in front of him.
Buffy clenched her teeth in indignation as he purposefully flirted with her classmate, a tall, slender blonde named Jade. She was one of the popular pretty girls at Sunnydale High, one with the perfect looks, the perfect clothes and the perfect future. Jade had always had her choice of dates, usually choosing older college guys to the boys her own age. However, that hadn’t stopped the petty and envious comments she’d directed at Buffy regarding Angel and what she perceived to be his ‘lack of taste’ in choosing the blonde Slayer as his girlfriend in the months prior. Which no doubt made her that much more thrilled to be ‘stealing’ him away. Even now her smug blue-eyed gaze flicked over to Buffy deliberately as she slipped her arms around the vampire’s waist and smiled. Over Jade’s head, Angelus simply smirked.
It wasn’t enough that he was screwing Dru and who knows how many other women in Sunnydale, Buffy thought with a frown, but he was specifically choosing partners for his amorous exploits that would have the added benefits of humiliation and guilt. Humiliation, because Jade – if she survived – would no doubt spread the word at school that Buffy had been dumped along with any other nasty little lie Angelus might choose to whisper in her ear. And guilt, because Buffy would feel doubly responsible for the deaths that she might not be able to prevent; victims chosen solely because of their association with her.
Excusing herself from her friends, who seemed completely unaware of the drama that had been unfolding, Buffy turned abruptly and pushed her way through the crush, escaping the crowded club.
The night air was cool and calming as the Slayer sought to compose herself under the iridescent orange glow of the streetlamps. Of course, she would have to do her duty and save Jade from her smug stupidity, as much as that thought rankled her at the moment. Angelus would no doubt flaunt the girl openly rather than sneak her into the back alley for a quick conquest, which fortunately would give the Slayer a little time to collect her thoughts.
“Buffy?” Willow’s soft query broke into her thoughts, the red-haired girl having followed her out of the club.
“Hey.” The diminutive blonde turned around, steeling herself for the inevitable inquiry and follow-on pep talk.
“Are you okay? I saw him… Angel… with her. With Jade,” Willow commiserated softly, having guessed the reason for Buffy’s abrupt departure only seconds after she left. “You know he’s just doing that to get to you.”
“Yeah, Will. I know.” Buffy shrugged dismissively. Doesn’t make it any easier though.
Behind Willow a tall familiar form seemed to appear suddenly out of the shadows. His cold, dark eyes were darker in the dim light, his lips twisted into what had already become his trademark smirk. His casual stroll and calm demeanor belied the lethal predator that Buffy knew him to be.
“Go back inside, Willow,” the Slayer demanded, her eyes meeting those of her former lover. She had to admit he could be incredibly stealthy when it suited him; she hadn’t heard him before he made his presence known.
“But-” Willow protested, her eyes moving nervously from Buffy to Angel and back again.
“Just go. Now. Please.” Buffy insisted again, her gaze still locked with Angelus’. “I’ll be in in a minute.”
Angelus chuckled, amused. As if the red-haired girl’s presence was of any consequence. Had he wanted, he could already have snapped her neck and left her for dead. But that would only piss off the Slayer – which for reasons too amorphous for him to understand himself – wasn’t what he wanted. At least not what he wanted tonight.
Reluctantly, Willow went back in to the Bronze leaving the two of them alone on the dimly lit street.
“Did you not like the band?” Angelus asked nonchalantly as he stepped forward, as though his sudden appearance was nothing out of the ordinary, as though casual conversation between them was the norm. He had known immediately after Buffy had disappeared through the door that tonight he would not be satisfied with anything or anyone other than his golden Slayer. She had been occupying his thoughts for weeks now; it was time to assuage the undeniable craving. Human or vampire, he’d never been particularly good at going without or waiting for what he wanted. It was a fault, he unapologetically admitted, that had been dampened only by the crushing weight of his burdened soul.
“I didn’t like the company in there,” the Slayer replied brusquely, watching him warily as he closed the distance between them.
With an understanding nod and a slight lift of his eyebrow, he stated, “Your little friends have always been. annoying.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at his deliberate misinterpretation of her words and crossed her arms over her chest.
“So tell me, lover,” he said as he drew closer, brushing a strand of hair away from her cheek with the backs of his fingers, “what have you been doing these last few weeks?”
“Forgetting you,” she replied rudely, jerking away from his touch.
“That hurts, Buff,” Angelus murmured softly, his eyes drifting over her meaningfully. His gaze lingered on her breasts and again on her hips before returning to her face. “Especially when I remember everything about you.”
Buffy willed herself not to blush at the suggestive innuendo. Instead the hurtful memory of his words the morning after their night together came to her and her expression hardened. “That’s because that’s all you know.”
“No, lover, that’s not even a small part of what I know.” He whispered in a low enticing tone, his long fingers stroking his jaw in contemplation as he began to walk a slow circle around her. “But I’d be happy to share the benefit of my knowledge and expertise with you.”
“No, thank you,” her voice was distinctly chill in her response. “Tired of Jade already?” She asked almost petulantly. She really hadn’t wanted to bring the other girl up, but her own petty feelings of jealousy wouldn’t let her leave it alone.
“Who?” Angelus questioned in genuine surprise as he stopped in front of her again. He was toying absently with the Claddagh ring on his right hand as he studied her.
“The girl you were flirting with in the Bronze just a few minutes ago,” Buffy replied flatly, unable to keep the anger and hurt from her voice. “Are there so many you can’t remember all of their names?”
“Ah. She is rather… available,” he purred with a smirking smile. He loved the hurt and anger in her voice; it spurred on his pursuit and reassured him of the potential for success. “Though a little too… common. I find myself instead interested in a different sort of blonde. You see, I have this burning need to see if my souled memories are accurate.”
“Well, I’m not available. Not to you.”
“We’ll see,” he murmured confidently.
“No, we won’t,” she smiled acerbically, her tone oversweet.
“Hmm… maybe there’s something I could do to persuade you.” he insinuated. His expression was gratingly self-assured.
“I don’t think so,” she said, resentful of his easy charm. How many other women had he ‘persuaded’ lately? Dozens? More? Angelus had always lived his unlife in excess; it was painfully difficult for her to overlook.
“Mmm… are you sure about that?” he purred in response, raking her suggestively with his gaze as if he might pounce at any moment.
Just then a group of teenagers burst out of The Bronze, their loud laughter and conversation breaking the relative quiet of the night. They stared openly at Angel and Buffy as they passed, several of them snickering as they recognized Buffy and her boyfriend as well as the obvious tension between them.
“Shall we take this somewhere less public?” Buffy questioned with a sigh. The last thing she wanted or needed right now were more whispered rumors and speculation at school about her unorthodox behavior or activities.
His brows quirked, clearing mistaking her meaning. He leaned closer, his gaze drifting down to her chest as he leered, “Why, Buff, just a few minutes ago I thought you had said you weren’t interested.”
She glared at him. “I meant to fight, you jackass.”
Without waiting for a reply, she turned and stalked away, hoping that he’d follow. When she reached the closest cemetery, she turned and waited as Angelus closed the distance between them, his gait slow and predatory.
Buffy studied him under her lashes as he approached. Angelus was wicked, seductive and more than a little dangerous, exuding an aura of confidence that made her weak in the knees. Alone with him, she was excruciatingly aware of his prowess and appeal. Her heart began to pound wildly in her chest. A surge of adrenaline spiked through her veins, whether in anticipation of a fight or from lust, she couldn’t say.
They circled each other slowly, advancing toward each other in progressively smaller arcs. Fists raised and knees flexed slightly in readiness, Buffy raked him with her gaze. The ridge of his arousal was evident through the leather pants. Heat flared through her, her body responding automatically to him. She steeled herself against the turbulent desire, but knew that he could already sense it by the devilish gleam in his eyes.
Fully aware of her body’s uncontrollable physical response to him, Angelus reached out with sudden preternatural speed and grasped her wrist, yanking her forward and pulling her into his embrace.
She struggled as his hands roved over her intimately, familiarly. “You can’t be serious.”
He smiled down at her then, a smile so like Angel’s her heart stopped. “Oh, but I am. I want you. And I will have you.”
“What do you have in mind? A quick fuck and you’ll be on your way?” She ground out rudely, pushing hard against his shoulders as if freeing herself from his embrace would halt the fevered tidal wave of desire steadily building within her. “Or do you think you’ll actually get a chance to kill me?”
“I doubt you’ll be satisfied with a quick fuck, Buff,” he said with a wolfish smile. He licked her neck lewdly, enjoying the feel of her squirming body against his. “If memory serves, you wanted more than that.”
“Angel.” She spat contemptuously, finally breaking free of his embrace with a hard shove. “I wanted Angel. Not you.”
“Don’t lie to me. You forget, I know you.” His voice was a silky murmur. He advanced toward her, and Buffy backed up until she bumped into a tombstone behind her. Lurid possibilities surged through his mind and he grinned. “And why would I kill you when there are so many other interesting things I could do with you first?”
“Why me?” She sidestepped the tombstone, not wanting to be trapped, as she continued to edge away from him.
“It’s always been you, lover.”
“Only me?” She asked resentfully, the words out before she could recall them. Despite her wishes to the contrary, she was jealous and hurt – and finding it increasingly difficult to hide her feelings.
“I’m not that selfish.”
Without a thought, she slapped him. His answer was too quick, too frustratingly inadequate, and too far from what she wanted to hear, even though his words were completely in line with what she expected him to say.
He retaliated, backhanding her hard, sending her sprawling to the ground. “I don’t think you understand, Buff. I’m going to have you. Here. Tonight.”
Using her elbows, Buffy inched back on the grass away from him. “And then what?” Would he kill her? Turn her? Would it matter if he did?
“And then nothing. You go your way, I go mine.” He shrugged his broad shoulders arrogantly, advancing toward her. “Don’t pretend that you don’t want me.” His tone resonated with dark, sexual hunger. “Because I know otherwise.”
“Surely someone of your reputed expertise knows more how to seduce a girl than just to say that,” she snapped angrily. Still, she was shamelessly turned on, her pulse racing, her skin flushed and her sex flooding with the liquid heat of desire. Whether she would allow herself to admit it or not, she was his for the taking, any way he wanted. She dug her fingers into the grass, resisting the urge to lift her arms to him, to invite him to join her in the soft grass just as she had done on many nights like this one.
Angelus stared at her with narrowed eyes. He found himself incapable of dealing with her so casually. If he didn’t want her as much as he did, he could give her the words and phrases that dripped so easily from his lips, the platitudes and clichés that seduced hundreds of women over the years. But with Buffy… he seemed incapable of such pretext.
Their eyes met, gazes locked. A moment passed, hushed – the tension palpable. Unbridled desire hummed in the air.
“What do you want me to say?” His voice was low when he finally spoke.
“Forget it. Nothing.” Dragging her eyes away from his, Buffy rolled and scrambled to her feet. The moment had passed and somehow she found the strength to resist his potent allure. Drawing her stake out of her sleeve, she held it in front of her as she backed away from him. “Leave me alone.” She wanted only to leave him behind before she did something that she would regret later; something the Council would condemn and her Watcher and her friends would never forgive – if any of them found out. Giving in would be a betrayal to herself and to the Slayers chosen before her. And to Angel. Suddenly all she wanted was to run home, lick her reopened wounds and pretend for a few minutes that somehow, someway she’d survive.
She spun on her heel and started for the gates of the cemetery, picking up her pace.
A low growl escaped him. “I miss you.”
The words were so reluctantly uttered, Buffy froze. She wondered for a moment if she had heard him correctly.
She knew it was wrong and selfish and irresponsible and a thousand other things that could only be considered immoral, but she could no longer deny that she wanted him. She missed Angel so much she ached with it – and this, this was a temptation of the highest order; a temporary salve to her torn and bleeding heart. She knew too that he wasn’t offering hearts and flowers – only a blatantly sexual encounter with carnal satisfaction being the primary goal – but even that would be more than what she had.
Slowly she turned around. Perhaps she could pretend for just a moment.
He held out a hand, and she took it. He pulled her to stand directly in front of him, so close he could feel the heat of her body through her clothes and inhale the delicious female scent combined with the faintest trace of vanilla that he would always associate with her. A light breeze ruffled her hair and he reached out, trailing a long strand over his fingertips as he listened to the rapid cadence of her heartbeat. A pure, undisguised sexual energy crackled between them, that rare and irresistible chemistry that always connected them intensifying with each passing moment.
No words were spoken – none were needed – as Buffy rose up on her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around his neck. Bending his head, he met her lips with his own in a greedy, possessive kiss.
He pulled back only long enough to shrug out of his coat, dropping it heedlessly on the ground behind him. Buffy slipped out of her own jacket as Angelus reached for her shirt, yanking it over her head and off. Their mouths met again, his teeth aggressively nipping at her lips before their tongues tangled together once more.
She worked on the buttons of his shirt until she could reach beneath the heavy silk to run her hands over the broad expanse of his chest. She stroked and caressed, using her nails to lightly rake his skin, before scraping over the pads of his nipples.
With a low guttural sound deep in his throat, Angelus ran his palms over her shoulders, shoving the straps of her bra down as far as they would go on her arms. Leaving them dangling around her elbows, he reached for the lacy cups, pulling them down so he could squeeze her bare breasts in his hands. He rolled one nipple firmly between his fingertips even as he plunged his tongue even more deeply into her mouth, dueling with her own for dominance.
Buffy moaned softly, reveling in the untamed sensations racing through her body. She had had so little time with Angel to explore the intoxicating, complete pleasures of sex and so she found herself almost dizzy with the nearly out of control sensations Angelus so easily evoked.
Her breath coming in soft pants, her body aching for fulfillment, she reached for his belt buckle, yanking it open then groping for the fastening of the snug leather pants. The button was unfastened and the zipper followed in short order. She worked the pants down his hips just enough so that she could easily circle the hard length of his cock with her fingers, stroking firmly.
At her aggressive touch, Angelus’ entire body jerked in response. With a rough growl, he slanted his mouth over hers again, his tongue thrusting deep, as he reached for the button of her slacks. In one move, he yanked her pants and panties down her legs to her knees. Buffy wiggled slightly, allowing the garments to slide down the rest of the way to her feet before kicking them off along with her shoes.
Large, cool hands skimmed up her thighs, encouraging her to part her legs. Long, questing fingers delved between them, stroking the damp flesh and neatly trimmed curls. She was hot and wet, already excruciatingly aroused, drenched with passion and the lascivious thrill of the forbidden. She keened softly into his mouth as his thumb found the swollen nub of her clit, pressing and stroking in sleek caress. That one electrifying touch pushed her nearly to the edge of orgasm, and she clutched him hard with strong arms as her body arched into his as if seeking release.
Wrenching his mouth from hers, Angelus lifted her as he swung around and sat on the edge of the nearest headstone. Forcing her legs wide, on either side of his hips, he pulled her to sit astride his lap as he guided his cock along her damp and swollen flesh to the entrance of her body.
Buffy inhaled deeply as she sank down on him until he was completely submerged in her tight heat. Tense and quivering, she grabbed his shoulders for leverage as she began to rock her hips against him. Angelus guided her into a steady, pounding rhythm until she closed her eyes and began to ride him with total abandon, her toes perched on the grass to assist her movement. The sides of his open shirt fluttered around them and the leather of his pants rubbed the insides of her thighs, adding to the eroticism of their illicit tryst.
One of his hands drifted along her waist, over her breasts, lingering to tug at her hard nipples for a few seconds before continuing up to the nape of her neck. Wrapping the long strands of her blonde hair around his hand, he tugged roughly, pulling her head back. His other arm was wrapped around her waist, forcing her back to arch and press her breasts up and into his chest.
Bending his head, Angelus dropped damp, biting kisses along her neck and upper curves of her breasts. He teased her hard nipples with his tongue, lapping at them slowly before nibbling teasingly. He moved leisurely from one to the other and back again, until she sank her fingers into his hair and pressed his parted lips to one aching peak in silent demand. Smiling against her skin, Angelus obeyed, sucking the rosy crest into his mouth.
Eyes closed tightly, Buffy keened softly as he suckled, feeling that tugging, pulling sensation with every heightened nerve of her body. A needy whimper escaped her lips and she rocked on him, harder, faster as the torrent of exquisite sensation built until it flooded her limbs and sent her careening over the edge into a star filled shower of ecstasy.
Angelus gripped her hips hard as he surged upward into her with almost frantic thrusts. He groaned harshly when he finally joined her in climax, the deep, powerful spasms shaking his body to the very core.
Sighing softly, Buffy wrapped her arms around him, holding him close as she buried her face against the cool skin of his throat. The wild beating of her heart was all that she could hear, but she could still feel him inside her and around her, surrounding her with his strength and, in memory, something more that she dared not name for fear that her momentary illusion would shatter. And in that seemingly endless stretch of time as the radiating pleasure slowly drifted away, that tiny profound connection between them was all that mattered.
Hours later, dressed again and standing at the outskirts of the cemetery, neither of them knew quite what to say.
Angelus started to speak, but Buffy held up her hand. She was as capable of pretext as he when nothing made sense at the moment, when it felt as though she had already taken the first step into falling off the edge into nothingness.
He nodded, words failing him, his own thoughts in disarray.
Without a backward glance, Buffy turned and walked away.