A Convenient Marriage, Part 12

Author’s Notes: This is AU.

Hallie, I actually envision something like Halfrek, though the name Halfrek just doesn’t work in an AU fic. *g*

Thanks to Voodoo Cowgirl for pointing out that I had all but forgotten Hank Summers. That has been corrected.

And big thanks to Akay, for helping me to recover my inspiration to write.

See previous parts for other notes.

Rating: Adult; explicit sex

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

Pairing: Initially C/A, ultimately B/A.

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

Originally posted: Jul 11, 2004


“Guys can be such jerks,” Andrew said as the waitress set a chocolate soda in front of him. A bowl of ice cream smothered liberally with chocolate fudge and whipped cream followed, Anya reaching for it eagerly.

“You can’t trust them,” Hallie declared, eyeing her own strawberry and chocolate sundae concoction.  The three had walked over to the all-night diner after Patina closed, Anya wanting some company and commiseration after her announcement that she had broken things off with Lindsey. She had dropped in on him unexpectedly yesterday afternoon, only to catch him half undressed and with another woman.

“You should have seen him when I confronted him about it,” Anya mumbled through a mouthful of ice cream. Her eyes were still red-rimmed from crying. “He wasn’t at all apologetic.  He just said that we never agreed to see each other exclusively, so he didn’t understand the problem.” She sniffed loudly, wiping her nose on her napkin. “I hate caring about a guys… it’s so useless and emotional.”

“It is.” Andrew commiserated, noisily slurping his soda.

“She lives in my neighborhood.”

“What?” Turning her head, Anya pinned Hallie with a glare.

“I mean, I think she does. I think, maybe, that I’ve seen them…” The brunette trailed off, suddenly wishing that she had kept her mouth shut.

“You’ve seen him with her and you never told me?” Anya questioned with a touch of bitterness, stabbing her spoon in her ice cream.

“Well, I wasn’t sure it was the same guy…”


“How could you not say anything?” Andrew rebuked in support, his tone of voice a nasally whine while his gaze was accusing.

“Okay, okay. I didn’t want to tell you. Besides, I thought maybe it was his sister or something.” Hallie excused, while at the same time giving Andrew a ‘fuck off’ glare. She only tolerated Anya’s annoying co-worker for her friend’s sake, the two women having been close since childhood.

“Yeah, right, a sister,” Anya snorted skeptically. She might have been tempted to fall for that excuse had she not seen the woman, wearing only Lindsey’s shirt, walk out of his bedroom. “Who is she? Do you know her?”

“I think her name’s Eve,” Hallie replied thoughtfully, pausing to slurp up one of the strawberries from her sundae. “She’s maybe a year or two younger than we are at most.  She went to private school, which is why we never saw her at good old Sunnydale High. I don’t know her but my Mom knows her Mom – the same nail salon or something.  I think her Dad is some big lawyer at Wolfram & Hart.”

“Do you think she’s prettier than me?” Anya asked bluntly. “Or what? Because I know it’s not just sex. We had sex. Good sex. Great sex even.”

“No, not prettier. She’s just… different.” Hallie shrugged, not sure how to explain the laws of attraction to her friend, much less the behavior of a guy that she had seen only a few times and had only met once in passing through Anya but didn’t know at all. “The few times I’ve seen her she’s always dressed up, you know, Ally McBeal-ish, so I think maybe she works in some office downtown.” She paused then added supportively, “Maybe he’s into the career woman type or something.”

“I suppose. Though he seemed awfully interested in Buffy the few times he’s been to Patina – and she’s only a waitress,” Anya pouted, wiping a trace of chocolate from the corner of her lips.

“She’s the girl that’s going to UC Sunnydale? Blonde, right?” Hallie questioned, having met most of Anya’s co-workers at one time or another during her visits to the restaurant.

“And annoyingly cute and way too nice? Yes, that’s the one.” Anya confirmed with a sigh. She was being facetious, as she genuinely liked Buffy.

“I don’t know that he’s interested in her anyway,” Andrew said with a shrug. “He just knows her husband. I’ve seen them talking in the bar a few times.”

“See, that’s not interest in her if he’s friends with her husband,” Hallie said unconvincingly, punctuating her sentence with a pointed finger. “Guys are notoriously loyal to their friends. Well, mostly loyal.”

“I suppose.” Anya agreed weakly, jabbing her spoon in her dish.

“You’ll find someone better, Ahn,” Andrew offered, reaching across the table to pat her hand consolingly.

“Maybe,” Anya grumbled, once more digging in to her ice cream with vigor.  “Or maybe Lindsey will get some horribly painful disease.”

“Hey, maybe he’ll get so fat, he’ll be like a walking mini-van.” Andrew sniggered at his own wit before taking another long slurp of his soda.

“Ooh, or maybe his dick will fall off from overuse,” Hallie added helpfully, waving her spoon around.

Anya considered her friend’s words for a moment then smiled for the first time since she had found out about Lindsey’s philandering ways yesterday afternoon.

Angel stared at the store clerk with an expression that could only be described as bewildered as she explained the subtle nuances and specific details of the various bras that hung along one wall of the lingerie shop. He had no clue if the replacement bra he owed Buffy should have an underwire, seamless shaping, or advanced push-up cleavage enhancing technology, he only knew the size and that it needed to be black.

Black lace, specifically, since that’s what he had torn the other evening during a particularly heated moment that had led to an unforgettable encounter on the dining table. He blamed his lack of control on a few days of abstinence due to her menses combined with Buffy appearing in the kitchen wearing only his shirt, unbuttoned to her navel, and the matching black lace ensemble, complete with a garter-belt, sheer black stockings and the sexiest pair of fuck-me heels that he had ever seen in his life.  Dinner had burnt, causing the fire alarm to go off, which led to some embarrassment later when three Sunnydale firemen pounded on their door, but all-in-all it was an evening he would never forget. And, if the fading scratches in his back or the bite mark on his shoulder were any indication, neither would Buffy.  He smiled in memory.

The sales clerk was now staring at him expectantly, and he realized that she was finished with her pitch and was waiting for him to make a decision. With a gracious smile, he thanked the woman for her help and selected several items based more on personal preference and imagination than anything he had only partially understood from what she had said about each of the items.

Almost an hour later, with several other items in hand to save as Christmas gifts, he was finally in line at the cash register when he heard a familiar voice call his name.


Mentally bracing himself, he turned around.

“It is you! This is the last place that I ever thought I would run into you.”

“Cordelia,” he greeted politely, as she walked toward him. He would have to agree, the lingerie store was not a place that he had expected to run into anyone he knew, much less Cordelia. Well, anyone other than Doyle, who had come to the mall with him and was still flirting with an attractive salesclerk near the door.

“Doing a little shopping?” Cordelia asked, frowning at the items clutched in his hand.

“Christmas,” he replied with a slight shrug of his shoulders.

“And how is little Buffy?” She smiled at him, but couldn’t quite keep the sneer from her voice.

“She’s fine,” Angel answered plainly, not wanting to get into any discussion about his wife with his former girlfriend.

“That’s great,” she chirped insincerely with a dismissive shrug. “I actually passed all my classes, can you believe it?  Grandpapa is springing for a New Year’s trip to Vail for some skiing in celebration. Harmony and Spike are going.” Chewing her bottom lip coyly, she inched closer. “I’d love it if you would come with us – my treat. We would have a really great time…” There was no mistaking the insinuation in her tone.

“Thanks for the offer, but no. We’ve been over this already, Cor-”

“Cordelia? Which do you think? The lavender or the turquoise?  Soft and flirty, or bold and aggressive? Or maybe I should just go with black? You can never go wrong with black- oh, hi, uh, Angel…”

“Rebecca.” Angel said, recognizing the girl from one of his classes at UC Sunnydale.

“Uh… hi… so, uh, how… are you?” Rebecca stammered nervously. Her eyes flitted from Cordelia to Angel and back again. Immediately she dropped the hand holding the undergarments from his line of vision.

“I’m fine, thanks. I didn’t know you two knew each other.” His direct gaze was piercing as he looked from one of them to the next. Both women had slightly guilty expressions, though Cordelia was more obviously annoyed while Rebecca appeared contrite.

“We just met.” Cordelia explained with a slight wave of her hand.

“We’ve known each other since junior high.” Rebecca blurted adamantly at the same time.

Angel’s eyes narrowed as he recalled in a sudden flash what Buffy had told him that Rebecca had said about their relationship, as well as the brief argument that had ensued after. He debated on asking Rebecca about those comments, but decided it was not the time or the place.  Seeing her with Cordelia planted a nagging suspicion in the back of his mind that the wealthy brunette was somehow behind the lies that Rebecca had told Buffy, that she was deliberately trying to cause trouble between he and his wife. He’d suspected as much after the calls from both Nina and Kate, particularly when he found out that both women were friends with Cordelia and Harmony… Now seeing Rebecca and Cordelia together. it was simply too much of a coincidence to discount.

“Oh, well, I mean we just met here, in this store tonight, to do some shopping,” Cordelia explained with a high pitched laugh and false smile. Still, her eyes flashed as she shot another angry look in Rebecca’s direction. “But we’ve known each other just about forever.”

“Ah.” Angel acknowledged politely, though his suspicions were now confirmed: Cordelia was lying.  But, short of confronting her about it – which he didn’t want to do in the middle of the crowded store – there was nothing he could do right now. Thankfully, it was now his turn to pay, so he could exit the increasingly awkward conversation gracefully. “It was nice to see you both. Have a nice holiday and a great time in Vail.”  He turned away then and handed the things in his hand to the woman behind the counter.

“Happy Holidays,” Rebecca replied in a soft but friendly tone before she turned and fled to the opposite end of the store. She could tell that Cordelia was pissed, and she didn’t want to be immediately in range when she unleashed her fury.

“Bye, Angel.” Cordelia murmured half under her breath, her gaze following her ex intently. She was angry to be dismissed so easily and even more enraged to see the collection of frothy, sexy – and expensive – garments that he was buying. It wasn’t fair! If Buffy hadn’t entered the picture, Angel would be buying those things for her – she was sure of it.

Rebecca’s blatant ploy had been the crowning glory of her scheme; she had thought for sure that Buffy would break things off after that, but no. The stupid little blonde still clung to him like a leech. Something he always hated! What on earth did he see in Buffy anyway?

Still, it was unthinkable to believe that she, Cordelia Chase, had lost him for good. She dumped guys, they didn’t dump her! Men fell all over themselves just for a chance to take her to dinner, much less the favor of her bed – so just what was Angel’s problem?  And just why, in the ultimate unfairness of all things unfair, was it that the more uninterested he seemed in her, the more she wanted him?!

The bigger question now though, was just what more was she going to have to do to split them up?

On Christmas morning, Buffy woke to the sound of Angel moving around in the kitchen and the smell of fresh coffee brewing. Quietly she got out of bed and pulled on her robe, then took the red and white wrapped package out of the bureau drawer.

The entire group had gathered at their apartment around one o’clock yesterday afternoon to celebrate the holiday with a potluck buffet-style lunch followed by a gift exchange, but she and Angel had saved a few of their gifts to each other for Christmas morning to exchange them privately.  Padding barefoot into the living room, she set the package next to the small tree that they had decorated only a few days ago with clear lights, red bows, white ribbon and some inexpensive ornaments. Mixed in were a few family heirloom ornaments that Buffy had managed to salvage from her mother’s things, along with a couple of “First Christmas” ornaments that they had gotten as gifts from friends.

Engrossed in cooking, Angel didn’t hear Buffy come up behind him until she wrapped her arms around his waist. Turning, Angel looked down to see her smiling up at him, an impish grin on her face.

“Merry Christmas, Angel,” she said cheerfully.

Clasping his arms around her waist, he returned her smile and dropped a kiss on her lips. “Merry Christmas to you, too.”

“French toast?” she asked, peeking around his shoulder.

“With strawberries and whipped cream,” he replied, kissing her lips lightly once again before dropping his arms and turning around to flip the slices of bread over. “Which I was going to bring to you in bed…”

“Ooh, that sounds nice,” Buffy murmured, dropping a kiss on his shoulder before moving away to pour herself a cup of coffee. “Maybe I should go back and wait then…”

Expertly flipping the toast onto plates, Angel winked at her playfully. “If you want. Or we can have breakfast by the tree, and you can open your presents. Then we can go back to bed.”

“Mmm… promises, promises,” she murmured in reply, looking over the rim of her cup at him. She watched as he put the finishing touches on the food, then helped carry the plates to the sofa where they sat side by side as they ate, watching the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree and talking about Christmases of years past.

After breakfast, Buffy insisted that Angel open his gift first. Like a young child, she watched him with nervous anticipation, her eyes lit with pleasure. She had purchased the sword charm and silver chain almost on a whim, thinking that it looked like something he would like.  Lifting it out of the box, Angel ran his fingers lightly along the expensive silver chain, then touched the sword charm dangling at the end. He looked up at his wife, her expression expectant with anticipation. Smiling, he slipped it over his head. “Thank you.”

“You really like it?” Buffy asked eagerly. It wasn’t much, but along with a book of Irish poems and a simple grey cashmere sweater he had opened yesterday, it had taken her entire Christmas budget, outside of a few small gifts for her friends and her half-sister, Dawn.

“Yes, really.” Leaning over, he kissed her. “It’s perfect – like you. I love it.”

Buffy’s breath caught at the word love, and she wondered briefly if now was the time that she should tell him how she felt about him. As quickly as it crossed her mind, it passed; she didn’t want to spoil the moment – nor did she want to create a situation where Angel would feel obligated to say that her feelings were returned. Maybe she would tell him one day, when she had more confidence or more assurance of his feelings for her…

“Open mine,” he prompted softly, nodding at the boxes that set under the tree.

“You shouldn’t have gotten so much,” Buffy admonished softly, looking at the six remaining boxes as she picked up the first. He had already given her a beautiful floral blouse yesterday, along with a pair of Lucky brand jeans and a rose quartz pendant.

“To be fair, most of them are actually gifts for me more than you. You just get to open them.” he teased, taking a sip of coffee.

Buffy exclaimed with delight as she opened each one, feeling slightly decadent just looking at them. The materials were luxurious, satins, silks and laces, the colors ranging from red to black to the palest of pinks. They were garments made for seduction, for sensuous rendezvous, for meeting one’s lover. A tantalizing feeling of wanton excitement crept through her, warming her, as she imagined wearing these for him. Even now, she could feel his dark eyes on her, watching her intently as she examined each item, and it gave her a heady sense of pleasure. How many times would they make love before it would take more than the merest touch from him, the slightest look, and she was near burning with passion for him? Her response to him was showing no signs of dimming, despite the months together and hours spent making love. He only had to look at her, or she at him. and it seemed that she was wet with desire.

“You like them?” he asked, breaking her reverie as he leaned over and kissed her, a long, slow, heated kiss. He felt her response as her mouth opened beneath his, welcoming him with a low purr of desire. They kissed leisurely, mouths and tongues toying and teasing, for several long moments.

“Yes,” she said softly, her voice rich with passion, “Now which one should I try first? You know. to see if it fits…” The tip of her tongue slowly, wetly traced her lips.

“Put on the red one,” Angel whispered, his lips sliding down the column of her throat.

Pulling away, Buffy retrieved the box containing the specified garment. Lifting the strapless red lace and jacquard corset in her hands she held it in front of her and smiled. Trimmed with black, it laced up the back and had black garter straps. Beneath it, still in the box, was a matching g-string and black silk stockings.

Angel returned her smile as he lounged back on the couch and sipped his coffee, his large frame taking up most of the space.

Casting him a teasing look, Buffy dropped her robe and stripped off the tank top and shorts she was wearing beneath it. First, she pulled on the g-string. Next, she slipped her foot in one black stocking and drew it slowly over her knee and up her thigh. The lace elastic at the top held it in place as she lifted her other leg and pulled on the other stocking. Finally, she slipped the corset on, bending slightly to adjust the fullness of her breasts within the confines of the material. Tossing her hair over one shoulder, she turned her back to him. Glancing over her shoulder, she said, “You know, I’m going to need your help if I’m going to model this for you.”

“I’ll help anyway that I can,” he drawled suggestively as he set aside his coffee cup and rose to his feet. Working from the bottom he pulled the black ribbon snugly through each eyelet until he reached the top. “Tell me if it’s too tight,” he murmured, tugging firmly. Buffy’s breasts were pushed higher, the snug fit of the corset compressing her waist and accentuating the flaring curve of her hips.

“It’s fine,” she murmured, casting a look over her shoulder at him. “And a perfect fit.”

He tied the ribbon into a neat bow at the top.

“I can see that,” Angel replied, his voice low and husky as he cupped her breasts in his palms. His fingers moved upward to tease the peaked crests of her nipples through the smooth material.

After fastening the garters to the stockings, Buffy leaned back into his body, her head lying against his shoulder as he petted and fondled her through the sensuous silk jacquard. Desire raced through her as his hands drifted lower, moving between her legs. Turning, she faced him, her breasts pressed against his chest as she slid her arms up his chest to twine around his neck. Her hips swayed in wanton invitation against his.

“So… you like?” Her eyes were half-closed against the heat coursing through her body, the exquisite urgency spiraling upward from his expert touch. The corset made her feel wanton, decadent. Already she was wet and ready for him.

“Most definitely,” he answered, lifting her in his arms to carry her the short distance to the couch. He set her down only long enough to strip off his jeans and t-shirt. Sitting down, he lifted her onto his lap, straddling his thighs and facing him. Tugging the material of her g-string aside, he lowered her on his rampant erection.

“Does that give you any idea of just how much I like it?” He softly asked as he thrust fractionally upward, at the same time exerting downward pressure on Buffy’s hips with his hands.

“Mmm… yesss,” Buffy breathed, in answer to both his question as well as the dizzying waves of pleasure sweeping through her. As she moved on him, lifting and lowering herself, the world began to retreat until her focus centered entirely on the exquisite pulsing between her thighs, until only sating the hot, throbbing need seemed to matter.

“Angel…” Her voice was a heated whisper, the tight corset seeming to accentuate the sensitivity of feeling in her breasts and in the melting, hot center between her legs. She could feel his hard length inside her, filling her as she moved with increasing urgency.

“Slow…” He commanded softly, his hands on her hips slowing her descent.

“No.” She pouted, squirming against his hold.

“Please… for me…” he cajoled softly, calmly, as if he weren’t close to the edge of climax himself, as if she weren’t panting with need, as if he knew how much better it would be if they prolonged the inevitable.

Capitulating reluctantly, Buffy slowed her movements to an unhurried, languorous rhythm. After a moment, she leaned forward and licked a path along his neck. A pulse beat later, his hand drifted over her abdomen to the apex of her thighs. He stroked the swollen and sensitive nub of her clit through the silky material, and she moaned softly. His legs flexed beneath her as he rose up to meet her as she once again sank down on his hardness.  Buffy’s soft cry was muffled against his neck as she writhed on him, his fingers still stroking her with delicious abandon.

After her first climax, he slowed their pace yet again. This time, he tugged the material of her corset down slightly so he could suck on her nipples each time she rose to her knees over him. She lingered there for long moments, her fingers lacing through the thick mass of his hair to hold him close and prolong the astounding pleasure.

The phone rang, but they paid no attention to it.

Giles’ voice speaking inaudible words drifted in and out of their consciousness, background noise only, subordinate to the pounding in their veins, and the heated undulation of their bodies as they moved with steadily increasing fervor.  The message went on and on while the slippery rise and fall of their rocking bodies neared the combustible sublime.

When the tiny, shuddering convulsions of her next orgasm began, Angel drove into her with fierce determination, wanting to join her in the throbbing, peaking splendor. Clutching her close, he closed his eyes as the wild delirium washed over them both. The last orgasmic ripples were just starting to die away when Giles’ voice fully infiltrated their consciousness.

“…and have a wonderful holiday, though do try to avoid partying too much. I was young myself once, and I do know the temptation; however, a little prudence can be a good thing.  Yes, well, right then, Merry Christmas, and we’ll talk soon.”

Buffy laughed softly, her eyes opening marginally, her limbs blissfully lethargic from her position snuggled against Angel’s chest.

“Your uncle had quite a bit to say.”

Angel smiled, kissing her temple. “He can be like that at times. Now that Jenny is pregnant he’s a little jittery as well, so he tends to ramble on more than ever.”

“Mmm… understandable,” she murmured, kissing him softly and snuggling back into her earlier position. “Shouldn’t you call him back then?”

Standing suddenly with Buffy clasped tightly in his arms, Angel started toward the bedroom. “I’ll call him later. It’s still early yet and besides, I promised you we could go back to bed after breakfast.”

“True,” Buffy laughed, twining her arms more tightly around his neck. “And I wouldn’t want you to break your promise.”

“Yeah, I found it. Finally,” Hank Summers grumbled into the phone as he glanced out the window at the building numbers. He eased the Cadillac Escalade into a vacant spot along the curb outside the building that Buffy’s Christmas card had listed as her current address. The fact that she had moved without telling him had only added to his annoyance. He snapped off the phone, got out of the car and climbed the stairs to the third floor. He knocked on the door impatiently, leaning in slightly to listen for the sounds that someone was home.

“What is he doing here?” Buffy exclaimed, peering through the peephole on the door. She tugged self-consciously on the belt of her robe, drawing it tighter as a sense of dread crept over her. In her experience, her father’s visits always meant that he wanted something. And at just before eight in the morning on a Saturday, it was unlikely to be a social call.

Angel, pulling a shirt over his head as he came out of the bedroom, caught the derision in her voice. Still barefoot, he padded across the floor to where she stood. “Who is it?”

“My Dad.”

“You want me to tell him to leave?” Angel’s voice was mild, but there was a hint of brusqueness in his voice. He wrapped his arms around her waist, hugging her back against his chest as he dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

“No. I’ll talk to him.” Buffy took at deep breath and smiled up at her husband, taking in the narrow-eyed gaze. His touch was comforting, as was his staunch protectiveness. “I don’t even know why he’d come here. I haven’t talked to him in months.”

“If you don’t want to see him, you don’t have to.” Angel emphasized, dropping his arms from her in preparation to answer the door as Hank Summers knocked again, harder.

“I know, but he is my Dad, so I should at least see what he wants. He’s probably just feeling guilty since Christmas was two days ago, and I didn’t even get so much as a card – even though that’s all I sent him.” She glanced up at him again, reaching out to put a hand on his arm. She reached for the doorknob herself. “Be polite?”

“It depends,” he returned noncommittally, stepping aside.

She lifted one eyebrow in question. “On?”

“If he’s friendly, I can be, too.” Angel’s expression was purposefully bland. He even managed to smile at her as he took a position leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.

Taking a deep breath, she collected her wits and turned the knob, opening the door.

“It’s about time you opened the damn door,” Hank Summers snapped, pushing his way over the threshold.

“Hello to you, too.” Buffy replied, her voice tight with constraint. As her father shoved the door closed behind him, she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see why I’m getting calls from the Bureau of Immigration Services about my little girl’s wedding.” Hank answered, his gaze scanning the room before coming to rest on Buffy’s face. “When she didn’t even tell me herself that she got married. I can tell you I wasn’t too happy to hear the news from a stranger rather than my own daughter – if that really is the truth.”

“It’s the truth, though I didn’t think you cared to know since you stopped returning my calls months ago,” Buffy countered, her nerves suddenly on edge. She hadn’t given the BCIS her father’s name or number – why had they called him?  “And besides, I’m not your little girl, as Marisa has reminded me on more than once occasion. Your little girl now is Dawn.”

Hank only snorted, ignoring her comments about her half-sister. “Well, at least you don’t look pregnant yet.” He stated, his glance rudely traveling over her figure before glancing at Angel for the first time. “So I guess you didn’t knock her up after all.”

“What do you want?” Angel questioned coolly, pushing away from the wall to come to his full height, which was several inches taller than the man currently sizing him up. He had been about to introduce himself as politely as possible under the circumstances to Buffy’s father, but those thoughts went out the window with the man’s rudeness.

“Can’t I check on my own daughter?” Hank asked belligerently, his face slightly ruddy.

“Why start now? I haven’t seen you or heard from you since you sold Mom’s house after she died.” Buffy interjected before Angel could answer. Still, she moved to stand by her husband, her arms crossed over her chest. “You never sent any of the money you promised either.”

“Well, now, honey, you know I was going to send you something, I was, but then the market took a down turn and all my cash was tied up in investments.” Hank excused, his eyes darting away from his daughter in a pattern all too familiar to those that he often misled or lied too. “When things improve a bit, I’ll send you a little something. I’ll always look after my girl.”

“You still haven’t told us what brought you to Sunnydale,” Angel reminded the older man, even as he unconsciously bristled at the man’s words. Draping his arm over Buffy’s shoulders protectively, he tucked her against his side.

“I think a father has a right to see his own daughter,” Hank insisted, glaring at the younger man with a bravado he didn’t quite feel.

“Don’t try to pretend concern for Angel’s sake.” Buffy rolled her eyes slightly, both at her father’s attitude as well as his false promise of sending money. “I suppose I should actually introduce you, since you’re here. Angel, this is my father, Hank Summers. Dad, this is Angel. Angel O’Connor, my husband.”

Angel tilted his head slightly in greeting while Hank Summers gave a brusque nod.

“Now that’s over, what did the BCIS want when they called?” Buffy asked, anxious to find out what they might have asked or what her father might have told them.

Hank’s gaze narrowed perceptively as he looked from Buffy to Angel and back again. “They wanted to know about your wedding, if I’d met my son-in-law, that kind of thing.”

“What did you tell them?”

“Well, nothing of course, since you didn’t tell me anything. I figured that you got yourself pregnant and got married, just like your mother did.” Hank said with disdain. “It’s a hell of a lot easier than finishing college I’m sure. Though I don’t really blame you, given your situation. Academics never really were your thing.”

“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.” Buffy snapped, her expression cold as she reached for the knob to re-open the door. “Unless you have something more to say, Angel and I have things to do…”

“So that’s how you’re going to treat your father, is it?” Hank glared at the daughter that had never conformed to his notions of propriety or obedience. “After all I’ve given you? All I’ve done for you?”

“Don’t overestimate your generosity. We both know all that you’ve given me.” Buffy’s tone was bitter.  He hadn’t been involved in her life much, even when she was younger and her parents were still together. She was tired of his empty promises and lies, and now, thanks in large part to Angel, she felt strong and supported. She no longer felt that she needed to put up with Hank’s bullshit.

“Now see here…” Hank began angrily, advancing toward his daughter.

Lifting her chin, she studied him coolly. “I think you should go.”

“I agree.” Angel added, taking a step forward. He was prepared to throw the man bodily from the apartment if he refused to leave. It was quite clear now why Buffy wanted nothing to do with her father, and he couldn’t blame her.

“Fine,” Hank ground out indignantly. “If I leave now, I won’t be back, Buffy. Not until you call and apologize. And I won’t be sending you any money. Not one single, solitary dime until you manage to show some respect for your father.  And as for you-”

“Don’t bother,” Angel interrupted. “There’s nothing you could say that I want to hear, and I don’t respond well to threats. Now get out. Unless Buffy invites you, you aren’t welcome here.”

Hank bristled and started to speak, but then thought the better of it. He cast a hard look at Buffy, then walked out the door.

When the door closed behind him, Angel turned the lock and glanced back at Buffy with concern.

“I feel like I should apologize for him,” Buffy murmured, disappointed as usual by her father’s behavior.


“He’s just-”

“I understand.” Angel reached her then, pulling her into his arms and holding her close. He hated that her father had hurt her. Pulling back, he looked down at her face. “How about we go pick up coffee and some chocolate croissants. We’ll have breakfast at the beach and then take a walk on the pier.”

Despite her disquietude, she fairly beamed up at him. He knew just what to say and what to do to make her feel better. “You’re going to spoil me.”

Kissing her lightly on the end of her nose, he smiled. “I intend to.”

Buffy had been certain that working New Year’s Eve at Patina’s was going to a disappointment, particularly since her husband and her friends were all going to be at Doyle’s ringing in the new year, so she was surprised to see them all crowded around a table in the bar. Doyle’s date for the evening, Harri – short for Harriet – had even brought along a few colored balloons and streamers in an attempt to add to the already festive atmosphere.

It was almost midnight before Buffy finally had a chance to make her way over to the crowded table where her friends sat, laughing, drinking and exchanging stories. Stopping behind Angel’s chair, she put her hand on his shoulder.

With a grin, he took her hand from his shoulder and tugged her forward onto his lap.

“Angel,” Buffy smilingly admonished, “I’m supposed to be working. Besides, everyone is watching.” She searched the crowd furtively for Snyder, but fortunately he was no where in sight. Most likely he was back in his office where he had been most of the night, drinking wine and watching some New Year’s eve special on his small TV.

“So?” He returned her smile, nuzzling her ear. “It’s almost midnight, and I have to have my kiss.”

“Are you drunk?” She eyed him suspiciously as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Maybe…” He teased, leaning closer. His breath was warm on her throat as he nibbled her tender flesh.  “Did I ever tell you how sexy you are?” he exhaled softly, sending shivers up her spine. Lifting his head, he captured her lips with his own.

Around them, the countdown to midnight began.

Angel lifted his hand, his fingers sliding in her hair.  Familiar fires ignited as they kissed, reveling in the familiar taste and sensation. For a brief moment they were alone with their desires, aware only of each other.

After the hubbub of midnight ceased, Buffy reluctantly slipped from Angel’s lap and went back to work.

Just after two, when the festivities at the restaurant finally wound down and Buffy was able to leave, the party moved to the O’Connor’s apartment.  The celebration continued there until dawn, Angel making a breakfast of omelets, bacon and mimosas just as the sun began to peek over the horizon.

They all agreed that night that the new year looked promising.

Doyle, with his feet propped up on the small coffee table, drank his beer and half listened to Angel’s phone conversation from the next room. He didn’t say a word when Angel, grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary, finally joined him, dropping heavily on the couch.

They sat in silence for almost a minute before Doyle finally spoke. “Takin’ the lass away for the weekend, are ya?”

“Yeah.” Angel replied cheerfully, the focus of his thoughts obviously elsewhere as he copied a phone number and address off a yellow post-note onto a page in his calendar. He handed one printed page to his friend then set aside the other. Reached for the beer that Doyle had placed on the table for him, he added, “She’s been working so hard, she deserves a vacation before school starts again.”

“Post Ranch Inn, nice.” Doyle nodded, impressed. He handed the paper back to Angel who placed it on top of the others on the coffee table. “And there’s no benefit in this for you, I take it.”

“Well, I might get a thing or two out of it.” Angel returned his grin, thinking about a romantic weekend away with his wife, just the two of them at the relatively secluded inn on the coast near Big Sur. It would be a bit of a drive, but well worth it.

“You sure you know what you’re doing?” Doyle inquired casually after almost a minute of silence.

“About?” Angel paused, his bottle raised halfway to his lips. He turned to his friend with a bemused expression.

Doyle nodded toward the framed picture of Buffy and Angel that now set on the mantle. It was one that Wesley had taken at their Christmas Eve get together, Buffy sitting in Angel’s lap. They were looking at the camera and smiling happily. “The lass.”

“Buffy? What about her?”

“Angel, don’t forget, I know you. You’ve never before been interested in pleasure that comes with any sort of attachment or commitment.” Doyle said bluntly, “You shouldn’t lead this girl on. You’re only going to hurt her when you’ve had your fill.”

Angel dropped his eyes as his thoughts drifted to Buffy – her lithe sensual figure, her quick wit and logical mind, her generous heart, and her strength of character. Just a month ago, he hadn’t quite realized. A year ago, he would have laughed at the idea. He hadn’t wanted the closeness of marriage, the emotional ties. He’d seen how vulnerable that it had made his father – but he had also seen the good side of it as well. His parents were obviously in love and devoted to each other.

Now he knew with absolute, unwavering, frighteningly powerful certainty that Buffy was the one that he wanted to spend his life with. Without a doubt, he wanted her as his wife. And he couldn’t have been more surprised – at his own reaction.

He shifted uncomfortably, aware of Doyle’s scrutiny. “Maybe I’ve changed.”

“She’s already in love with you, she’s only going to get more attached.” Doyle warned, setting his now empty bottle on the table.

“This whole marriage thing isn’t what I expected,” Angel said thoughtfully as he ran one his hand through his hair.  Was Buffy in love with him? Really?  “She’s not what I expected.”

“Lust?” Doyle asked as he got up and went to the kitchen for another beer. Returning with two bottles, he handed one to Angel as he sat back down on the couch. “She is a beautiful woman…”

“It’s not… just… lust,” Angel admitted reluctantly, suddenly interested in the label of the Corona bottle in his hand.

“Ah!” Doyle intoned, as if started by this new revelation.  Twisting the cap off his beer, he added smugly, “But then, I coulda told you that a couple of months ago.”

Angel glanced up at his friend inquisitively, one eyebrow raised.

“I’ve never seen you like this with a girl before, and I’ve know you your entire life.” Doyle shrugged with a grin. He was surprised that Angel hadn’t figured it out already; it was obvious to everyone that spent any amount of time with the couple that they were both wildly in love with each other.

Angel considered Doyle’s words thoughtfully for several minutes until finally he looked up at his friend and gave a small shrug. “What can I say? I think she’s the one… I never expected it to happen ever – much less now.”

“You’re sure about that?”

There was a long pause before he finally spoke, Angel considering his next words carefully. “As sure as I’ve been of anything else in my life.”

Doyle lifted his bottle in salute. “Well, here’s to love then.”

Angel tapped the neck of his bottle with his own, his smile widening. “To Buffy.”

When Angel returned from the car with their bags, Buffy had opened the drapes and was gazing out the window at the magnificent view.

“This place is amazing. It’s so beautiful, so romantic.”

“And the view is better with you in it.” He came up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist. “You complete the picture.”

She leaned back against his tall, strong body. “You’re sweet.”

He shrugged faintly. “Not particularly.”

She twisted around in his arms. “Thank you – for arranging all of this. You really didn’t have to, you know.”

“I know, but I wanted to.”

She gazed at him with exacting regard, as if trying to sort out some internal dialogue. The disappearing, golden light from the sunset lit his features, revealing the stark perfection of his masculine beauty.

I love you. The words almost escaped her lips, but she forced them back.

“So what do you want to do first?” she abruptly inquired, attempting to change the direction of her thoughts.

“Well, I thought maybe we should try out the bed…” he suggested with a roguish grin. “I think the view is better from there.”

“What if I wanted to go check out the pool instead?” she teased with a smile. Already, she could feel his arousal pressing against her.

“We will… eventually,” he whispered, leaning down to lick her upper lip. Gently, he pushed her toward the bed.

“Someone is impatient,” She cast a playful glance over her shoulder.

“It was a long drive,” he said as he gave her a small shrug. His gaze was enchanting. “And the air in the place seems to be… inspirational.”

“It is, isn’t it?” She purred softly as the delicious insinuation in his words stirred her senses, whetting her impatient passions.

“That’s one reason I brought you here,” he murmured, trailing his fingers along her throat, over her jaw to her temple. Once more, he was touched by her beauty.

“Only one reason?” She teased, her voice sounding low and husky to her ears. Her pulse picked up speed, sending the heated warmth of desire straight to her sex.

“One of many,” he said, taking her hand as she walked backward toward the bed.

They undressed each other with playful kisses and smiles, delighted to be in such a secluded, romantic place together. They fit in every way, he thought as she lay back on the bed in a languid sprawl, her passion equal to his, her desire for him as greedy as his for her. He paused, his gaze traveling the length of her, from the mass of golden hair spread out on the pillow to the length of her legs and back up again to her smiling face. He considered himself the most fortunate of men.

“You’re taking too long,” she said, coming up on one elbow. “Is something wrong?”

“Not a thing.” He sprawled next to her then, lifting one hand to brush her hair back from her face. What would she say if he told her he was in love with her?

“Then what are you waiting for?” Circling his erection with her fingers, she bent and touched her mouth to the crest of his erection.

“Nothing now,” he whispered, a half smile forming on his lips. “Enough foreplay?”

“Yes,” she murmured affectionately, “for now.”

“A woman after my own heart.” Rolling her on her back, he eased between her legs.

“Most definitely that.” She arched up for a kiss, gently moving her hips.

His gaze was amused. If only she knew…

Her arms twined around his neck and she sighed contentedly with the first silken penetration.

They moved together, desire building steadily, coursing through their blood in equal measure, hot and insatiable. When his hands closed over her hips, holding her captive for his next plunging downstroke, all conscious thought disintegrated in the quest for the sublime ecstasy. Ravenous desire took precedent, the exhilarating pleasure racing faster and faster. Their intertwined bodies moved in a frenzied, uneven taking and giving until Buffy was shuddering with a seemingly endless wave of orgasms, one following the next until she was insensate with the mind-numbing, exquisite pleasure.

Not long after he joined her in climax, Buffy fell asleep in his arms, exhausted. Covering her with a light blanket, he eased from the bed and gazed out the window. Surveying the tranquil moonlight view, the beauty of the dark ocean waves seeming to offer solace to his restless spirit.

Turning to the bed, he gazed at his wife. Her legs were uncovered, their slender length pure perfection and only recently wrapped around him in the heat of desire.  Instant lust stirred in his body with the thought, and he wondered if there would ever come a day when she didn’t affect him so powerfully.  He ran a hand through his hair. His feelings for her, the intense need and irresistible cravings for her, made him uncomfortable. It made him vulnerable. And yet, by all accounts, it was too late. He had already fallen head over heels for his wife…

A short while later when Buffy woke, Angel had managed to rationalize his feelings and soothe his disconcerted emotions. Things couldn’t be better between them at present; no need to complicate things just yet. They had three uninterrupted days of bliss, and he intended to make the most of it.

“Ready to see the pool?” he asked genially.

“In a minute,” she answered sleepily. Her hair was tumbled over her shoulders, her eyes half-closed giving her a delicious, sultry appeal.

Drawn to her like a magnet, Angel rose from where he sat at the window and walked over to the bed. Sitting down beside her, he ran one finger over one dainty eyebrow, then over her pouty lips. He gazed down at her with affection. “I can’t get enough of you.”

Lifting her hand, she grasped his and nibbled on his fingers. “You can have whatever you want.”

“Anything?” He smiled slowly, running his hands down her arms.

“Anything,” she whispered unequivocally.

Later that night, when they finally managed to make it out of the room to the pool, they clung together in the warm water, gazing at the moon and the dark waves of the Pacific Ocean, both reluctant to give voice to the feelings in their heart for fear that it would put an end to their enchanting idyll.

On Friday morning, Buffy dug frantically through her bag looking for the small peach colored compact, but to no avail. She would have sworn that she packed her birth control pills, but she had been through everything twice. She had even checked the car on the off chance that it had fallen out of her bag, but still no luck. She did remember seeing them perched on the edge of the bathroom counter as she packed, and with a sinking feeling, she suspect that they would still be there when they returned home.

She could hear Angel in the next room returning from the main lodge with coffee, muffins and fruit for breakfast. Glancing down, she looked at the sheer pale pink babydoll that she wore. It was one of the things he had given her for Christmas that she had yet to wear; it was only one of several sexy things she packed for the trip knowing full well that they would probably spend more time in their room than anywhere else.

With a sigh, she sank down on the toilet to consider her options. If she told Angel that she forgot her pills, it could ruin the whole weekend. They’d either have to forgo the sex – which wasn’t at all an attractive option – or they’d have to find somewhere to pick up some condoms. The shop on the premises would probably have them, but it wasn’t open until 10:00 am and, given everything else here, they would probably be ultra expensive. Either way, it would throw a wrench into the weekend – a weekend that Angel had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to plan. It was their first real trip, just the two of them. And it was so romantic, nestled in the cliffs of Big Sur over looking the ocean. She didn’t want anything to ruin it.

It was only a few days… the odds were slim that she could get pregnant if she only missed a few pills, weren’t they?

It rained almost the entire time during the rest of their stay; but that suited them perfectly as they left their room only twice: one afternoon to hike the nearby hills during a light drizzle and one night to have dinner in the restaurant, which had a magnificent view overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The rest of the weekend turned into a sexual marathon, one of discovery, indulgence, excitement, urgency, sweetly virginal at times – hot raw sexual energy at others.  In short, in both their eyes – it was perfect.

“I need food.” Angel murmured tiredly from his position next to Buffy on the blanket they had spread on the beach. As if the weekend hadn’t been enough, they had stopped at a cozy spot on the way home, one thing led to the next and several hours later, satiated and replete and enormously glad that no one else had chosen the same romantic location, they drowsed together in the fading sunlight.

“Sounds like a good idea,” Buffy replied, her eyes still closed. “But I can’t go in anywhere looking like this.”  She lay on the blanket next to him, half sprawled on his chest, her hair in tousled disarray. Her cheeks were flushed and her lips were swollen from their kisses.

“You look beautiful.” He whispered, kissing the top of her head.

Eventually they dressed, and he managed to convince her to join him in the restaurant, where they shared a romantic dinner as the sun set.

When they finally reached Sunnydale in the early hours of the morning, Angel carried a sleepy Buffy into the apartment. She made no protest when he tucked her into bed, joining her only a few minutes later when he had brought their bags in. No doubt the sand from their bodies would mean extra cleaning and fresh sheets tomorrow, but he didn’t want to wake her for the world.