For your reading enjoyment, I've done something a bit differently. ALL WET is a Choose Your Own Ending fic, meaning there are three potential endings to the story. When I first wrote this, I was in a cranky mood and had a particular ending in mind, but my support crew wanted different endings. (Who the hell do they think they are, anyway? <G>)
So, because I love them, I caved and wrote two more endings. Thus, I give you:
Ending 1: Up For Grabs (Tinkerbell's ending)
Ending 2: Gut Wrenching Horror and Angst (Lex's ending)
Ending 3: Happily Ever After (Tamara's ending)
Ending 1: Up For Grabs
TITLE: All Wet
SPOILERS: BtVS: 'The Freshman'; AtS: 'City of'
DISCLAIMER: Buffy and Angel are not mine. They belong to a creative genius, a man that I may not always agree with, but a man that I always admire.
NOTES: This is PicFic, inspired by the David Boreanaz naked bathtub picture.
DEDICATED: To Isabel Snyder, the photographer responsible. Thank you, my dear, thank you from the bottom of my heart. <VBEG>
The sun had dawned.
She should get up.
Buffy Summers tried to give herself a pep talk, one that would convince her that getting out of bed would be the best thing to do right then. And if she had been in her own bed, in her own room, it would have worked with no effort. But she wasn't in her own bed. Or her own room, for that matter. Or even in her own city.
No, she was in LA. In Angel's basement loft. In Angel's bed. Without Angel.
She had shown up the night before, desperate to see him. It was one of the things she had promised herself she would never do, just show up on his doorstep, but in her aching need to see him, she broke her own word.
Cordelia had clued her in on his whereabouts more than a month before, so she borrowed Giles' death trap without a word of explanation as to where she was going, and she fled Sunnydale. Once she reached LA, and his apartment, she sat in the car for over an hour, debating whether or not to ring the bell. Eventually, she worked up the nerve.
Her mind flashed back to the expression on his face.
"Can I hel--Buffy?" Angel opened the door, only to find the last person on Earth he expected to see standing in front of him.
Buffy smiled slightly. "Angel. Hi."
He clutched the door frame so hard the wood creaked. "Hi."
She noticed the goatee right away. "New..." she rubbed her chin, indicating the dark hair shadowing his face.
He looked slightly embarrassed. "Yeah, well, Cordelia's been after me to break out of the 'boring brood mode' as she calls it. This is the first step, or so she has informed me."
Buffy's heart twinged. "So. You're the best of buds with Cordy now?"
"She's been a great help to me."
She looked at her feet. "So."
"Uh, wanna--wanna come in?"
She nodded a little uncertainly. "Um, yeah. Yeah, that would be good."
And she had gone in, and they had conversed for a little bit, mostly about safe, non-confrontational topics like how everyone was doing. Buffy had to sit on her hands to stop from touching him, caressing him. He looked so good, and she had missed him so much.
But she had control.
Until he leaned over and kissed her. It was a tiny, quick kiss, lasting only a few heartbeats, but it was enough to start the longing up again. She arched against him, and tried to wrap her arms around his neck, but he suddenly jerked away and fled to the other side of the room.
"I, uh, I have to leave."
"Leave?" she echoed dumbly.
"Yeah, leave. I have someone to meet."
"A..a date?" Her voice trembled on the word.
He shook his head. "Not a date. A meeting with an informant. Very important. Must go."
Having said that, he shoved her in the direction of the bed with an admonishment to get some sleep, and he took off.
She had waited up until about 3 AM, until she realized that he wasn't coming back. He would find shelter somewhere else. With that depressing thought plaguing her brain, Buffy fell into a troubled sleep.
A scant few minutes after dawn, her body leapt into awareness. It was instinctive, the knowledge of the sun rising and falling.
She should get up. It was a bad idea, coming to LA.
She should leave.
With that thought foremost on her mind, she crawled out of bed and headed towards the bathroom to grab a quick shower before she made her escape. The apartment was still and quiet. He really hadn't returned. Her spirits sank further. She wanted to see him so badly, and she fought off the urge to wait all day for his return.
Only the knowledge that he no longer wanted her kept her feet on the path to the bathroom.
She had to get out of there before she did something she would regret.
Buffy opened the door, stepped into the bathroom, and froze in place. "Holy sweet Jesus," she whispered, her hand flying up to cover her mouth.
Angel froze too. He couldn't speak, couldn't even make a sound. He knew that he should probably remove the hand gripping his cock, but he was unable to do it. She was standing there, the object of his most fevered fantasies, her face flushed with embarrassment...and something else. Something that resembled consuming lust.
He knew the feeling.
Buffy's eyes flew over him. He was sitting up in the bathtub, the water coming up to just under his nipples. His hair was damp, as though he had just run wet hands through it. And his new facial hair...it suited him. He would look good in anything, she decided. Or nothing.
The water slid over his slick skin as her gaze did the same. His necklace was listing to the side, drawing her attention to a nipple that she had the nearly unbearable urge to bite. She could see the definition in his abs even through the cover of water, and then her eyes trailed down until she saw --
Right then, her mind shut down and she slammed her eyes closed.
At the sensation of her eyes raking over his wet, naked form, he hardened even more, his cock rising out of the water, stretching towards her as if it were begging for the silken pressure of her mouth, the wet velvet of her tongue.
As though she could hear his overheated thoughts, her tongue came out to moisten her lips. A sound managed to escape his throat after all. It was a low, tortured whimper. Her eyes snapped open.
Buffy clenched her hands into fists, the urge to strip her clothes from her body nearly overwhelming her. "I, uh, I," she stuttered, "I thought you didn't come home last night. I didn't realize you were up yet."
The second the words left her mouth, she wished she could recall them. He was most certainly up. In fact, if her memory served, he didn't get much more up than he was right at that moment.
His eyes closed and his head slammed back against the tile. "Buffy," he rasped out, his fingers tightening involuntarily around himself. The pleasure overtook him for a moment, and he couldn't stop himself from thrusting into his hand.
It was her turn to whimper.
Surely it wasn't fair, she thought dazedly, that a man could look that mind-numbingly fuckable.
And then he turned her world upside down once more.
"I was dreaming about you," he said simply, as he gave up all pretense and began to work his swollen flesh. "And here you are."
"Dreaming...about me?" she whispered.
"Always about you. Only about you." His eyes were blazing hot, and that heat swept down her body in a burning rush. Suddenly, there wasn't enough air in the room, and she had on way too many clothes, and she was too far away from him for comfort.
Like a sleepwalker, she crossed the tiles that separated them, and knelt by the side of the tub. "We can't do this, Angel. Tell me to stop." The words came out, but she knew in that moment that if she couldn't feel his mouth touching her skin, she would die. She would combust and turn into ash from the sheer force of her longing.
He shook his head. "Don't stop. Don't ever stop."
She moaned softly at his words, and that small noise broke the spell. His left hand emerged from the water and gripped the back of her neck, pulling her close even as he leaned toward her. Their lips collided, and Buffy nearly wept from the sweet pressure of his mouth against hers. Her hands left their perch on the side of the tub and slid into the damp silk of his hair, fingers twining in the strands, gripping his head.
His tongue swept into her open mouth, and his taste filled her. She leaned further into him, her hands clutching more desperately, as their mouths mated. His lips on hers...God, she had missed him more than she thought possible. She could never be close enough to him.
With that in mind, she arched towards him...and lost her precarious perch on the side of the tub, tumbling in on top of him. The kiss broke and she gasped a little as the water soaked through her tank top and boxer shorts, but the dismay was fleeting as she realized she was now in full contact with Angel's body.
"Got you all wet," he said with a sly smile.
She merely nodded as she kissed the side of his mouth, then his chin, feeling the newness of the hair against her smooth skin. It rasped her flesh, and she realized she liked it. Working her way down, she nipped his jaw, then his neck, paying special attention to the area above his jugular. She drew that piece of flesh into her mouth, sucked on it, licked the moisture from his bath from it.
Angel moaned loudly, thrusting up into her belly. She was driving him out of his mind. His hands came up to cup her head, pressing her into his neck. "Bite," he breathed, "Bite me..."
With a small grin, she did as he asked, her blunt teeth digging into his sensitive flesh. He moaned low in his throat, his face changing, the ridges springing up in response to the pressure. But she didn't want this to be over before it began, so she left her mark on him and moved down.
She licked a path down his neck to his chest, sipping up the drops of moisture that clung to his skin. Leaning her forehead against him, she placed her lips over his heart and gave that bit of skin a long, lingering kiss. "I can't stop loving you," she whispered. "I can't. No matter what I do, I just can't."
His voice was strained when he spoke. "And you think I can?"
Buffy shook her head, then suddenly attacked his left nipple, gnawing at the pebbled flesh. His hands tightened on her head as she switched nipples. She suckled him for a moment, delighting in the feel of him against her tongue. Sliding her mouth down, she licked his chest, lavished attention on the pale, pale skin that she craved.
The sight of her tongue cleaning him with long, slow licks nearly did him in. He tugged on her head.
"What?" she growled, annoyed at the interruption.
"I love you."
The whispered declaration soothed her bruised heart.
Slowly, so exquisitely slowly, she lowered her mouth to the tip of his shaft. It was raised out of the water, and at the sight of her head descending, Angel arched his hips towards her, suddenly desperate for the feeling of her heat enveloping him.
Her tongue reached for him, sliding over the tip of his manhood. The bath had warmed his normally cool flesh, and she was intrigued at the difference from his normal temperature. She circled the head, lapping gently at the flesh, teasing him.
Angel fought the urge to push her head down, knowing that she would hate that. But he wanted...he needed her to suck him hard, drawing roughly on his flesh. She knew exactly what he wanted, but she continued to taunt him, sucking lightly then breaking away to plant kisses up and down his shaft. The water was getting in her way, so she hit the stopper with her foot, and the liquid drained away, leaving him bare before her.
Her mouth engulfed him, and she sucked hard, no longer keeping her touch tender. Angel let out a strangled moan as his hands clenched into fists in her hair. "Buffy...oh, God, Buffy... don'tstopdon'tstopdon'tstop."
He was helpless beneath her, and the power thrilled her. Nothing, not even a fierce kill, made her this high, the knowledge that she could take such a calm, collected man and turn him into this babbling creature, begging for her touch. It aroused her unbearably, the wetness flowing between her thighs having nothing whatsoever to do with the bath water. Buffy took him without reservation, drawing deeply on him, her head bobbing up and down as she moved on his cock.
Then he was pushing her away, standing up, dragging her with him. He yanked at her boxer shorts -- which, a still functioning part of his brain realized, were actually his anyway -- until the fabric gave and he tore them from her. Her tank top soon followed, ripped from her body.
Buffy gasped his name as he lifted her up, slamming her back against the white tile of the shower. "Angel," she moaned, "Oh, god, Angel, we shouldn't be doing this you shouldn't be doing this what happens if --"
His mouth crashed down on hers, silencing her. His tongue entered her mouth with a hard thrust, and she gasped around it, her arms wrapping around his neck as her legs clung to his waist. Panic warred with the lust flooding her brain.
She wrenched her mouth from his, frustrated tears seeping from her eyes. "Angel, your soul...if we do this...your soul...," she breathed.
He leaned his forehead against hers. "If I have to go one more minute without being inside you, I will die."
His words caused a tide of need to flood over her, and she nearly caved. "I can't survive him again." There was no need to explain who 'he' was. Her mind knew that what they were about to do was wrong, and reckless, and irresponsible, but her body, the same body that was trying to wrap itself around him, didn't care.
With a groan, Angel reached for the ends of his self control, the self control that was so badly frayed when she was around...and found that he couldn't grab hold of them after all. He had pushed himself too far this time. There was no going back. Roughly, he grabbed her ass, pulled her up, and slid inside. Her tight muscles fought the intrusion.
She screamed his name, the sound bouncing off the tiles.
"I can't survive being without you," he muttered. "I tried, I fucking tried, but I can't do it. And if you have to kill me right after, then so be it, but I have to be inside you. Now. Open for me, baby, let me in. I wanna come home."
Tears clogged the back of her throat as the riot in her mind reached a crisis point. She had to choose one way or the other.
Her lips met his in a bittersweet kiss, and she relaxed completely, allowing him into her core. This was going to end in an agony so soul-deep, she knew, as surely as she knew anything, she could not, would not, survive it. But she had been stretched as close to the breaking point as Angel himself had, and the consequences no longer mattered.
All that mattered was him. Inside her. Filling her. Completing her.
It was his turn to moan into her mouth as she tightened around him. "Buffy," he murmured, his voice thick with tears. "I missed you so much."
Her heart skipped a beat, then resumed, hammering wildly in her chest as he held still inside her. The muscles in his back tensed as he prepared to move, but she whimpered and held him tightly. "I want...I want to remember how this feels..." she whispered brokenly. "I need to be able to remember..."
The pain in her voice caused the tears gathering at the corners of his eyes to flow down his cheeks, wetting her with their coolness. He wanted to promise her that it would be all right, anything to take the heartbreak from her eyes, but he knew as well as she did that nothing would ever be all right again.
Angel was still for several moments, focusing on the sensation of tiny muscles gripping his cock, but eventually, he had to move. He shifted within her, and she gripped his waist, bracing for the onslaught. He didn't disappoint, his body delving deeply into hers, pushing her into the wall behind them.
He was so big inside her, stretching her delicate walls, forcing them to accept his manhood. She clenched uncontrollably around him, aiding his rapid thrusts, abetting his need for her. He gored her fiercely, and she loved it. She had forgotten; rather, she had forbidden herself to remember how much she craved this, the erotic press of flesh against flesh, his coolness enflaming her past the point of common sense, past the point of return. Her head lolled back against the tile, all her strength used to push herself onto his plunging cock.
His eyes fell to the small scars on her neck.
"I...scarred you," he said unsteadily, his hips driving into hers.
"You marked me," she countered. "You marked me as yours, and I'm proud of it. Take me again, Angel." If it was the last good memory of him she was to have, she wanted him embedded in her totally, manhood and fangs both claiming her as his own.
The part of his mind that recognized that this was the last time they would ever do this egged him on. Her head was turned to the side, baring her neck to him. He could hear the life pulsing through her, and suddenly it was too much. She was *his* life. She was his, she would always be his, despite everything to the contrary. They were destined for each other, and no matter what happened after this moment, he knew that there could be nothing so right as this act of love they committed between them.
With a feather light touch, his lips brushed her neck, feeling the differences in the texture of her skin and the scar tissue. She cried out, arching up towards him, pushing her throat against the sharpness of fangs. Helplessly, he bit down, and drew deep.
Stars exploded behind her closed eyes as the sweet pain of the bite rushed through her, all her muscles tightening and gathering as the release tore her apart. She tried to scream, but found she didn't have the breath for it, her mouth hanging open instead as she felt him freeze in her embrace.
The taste of her filling his mouth was nearly too much, the salty, coppery tang of her blood sending him past any semblance of restraint. As her orgasm rippled around and through him, he gripped her hips, and drove himself home with as much strength as he could muster. His roar of triumph was muffled by her throat, but Buffy heard it nonetheless, smiling in primitive satisfaction.
Time passed slowly, the lovers clinging to each other, neither wanting to admit the inevitability of what would follow.
When the golden haze of climax faded, Buffy's eyes opened. Now was the reckoning. It was time to pay for their stolen moment of joy. And pay they would, with the ultimate sacrifice. Her breath hitched in her throat, and his lips immediately brushed across her forehead as he hushed her.
"Was it worth it, Angel? Was it worth what's going to happen now?"
He nodded his head slowly. "Yes. You're the best thing that ever happened to me."
A sob tore through her, heralding stronger, fiercer ones. As her slim body convulsed with them, Angel gathered her more securely in his arms, and stepped out of the tub, intent on getting her dry and clothed before the change overtook him.
After toweling her off, he carried her out of the bathroom, and placed her mute form upon his bed. Turning around, he searched his dresser for a t-shirt and boxer shorts, and then dressed her. Throughout, she was still and silent, like a doll.
He pulled back the covers and slid her in. She watched him the whole time, as though she were memorizing him. Then he turned away from her and dressed quickly. When he was done, he leaned down and kissed her lingeringly, tasting the tears that flowed freely down her face.
"Where are you going?" she finally asked.
"I'm going to make it easy on the both of us. I'm going to take a walk in the sun."
Her heart clenched in her breast at the thought of losing him one second before she had to. "Don't."
"It's better that way."
"Don't," she repeated. "Stay with me. Stay with me until you...go."
"Then you'll have to kill me."
"Can you do that?"
"I did it once already."
He stared at her for a second. "I guess you did." Then he climbed into bed, wrapping her in his arms. "It's...kind of painful, so when I start to thrash around...you'll know it's happening."
She rested her head on his chest, and they were quiet for a long time.
He was the first to speak.
"I own this building. And the car...and the mansion in Sunnydale, and a bunch of other things. I have a will. My lawyer has it. Cordelia will know."
"And, everything I have is yours. I've left it all to you."
Her eyes welled up again. "I don't want it."
"I don't care if you don't want it. It's all yours. Do something good with it."
They were silent once more.
Then she spoke, only the barest tremor in her voice betraying her anguish. "How am I going to live without you?"
"You're a survivor, Buffy. You're the strongest person I know."
"What if I let him kill me?"
Angel's mouth tightened. "You're tougher than that. Besides, he doesn't want to kill you. He wants to turn you. He wants you, in his own way, as much as I do."
"What if I let him? At least we'd be together."
"Don't even think that. Don't even." His voice broke over the words.
"Why not? Our souls would be free...together. And our bodies would be joined."
Suddenly terrified, he clutched her chin. "If he turns you, the two of you would be unstoppable. Nothing, no one could stop you if you were united. He knows that. He craves it. You would be his Dark Queen, and you would rule the world at his side."
For the first time, she looked afraid. "We can't let that happen."
"You won't. I trust you."
Angel trusted her, but she didn't know if she trusted herself. Buffy closed her eyes, mouthed a silent prayer for strength to do what she had to do, and tightened her grip on her lover. She would do it. There was no choice.
Unbidden, a thought rose to the front of the chaos within her mind. "But what if...what if the curse is different this time?"
"Different in that the clause is gone." Her tone was hopeful as the idea formed more fully. "Will had no way of knowing if it was the same curse as last time when she did it, so maybe --"
Angel's voice was quiet. "Best not to get your hopes up, Buffy."
Her heart sank. "Oh. Right."
With that, they lapsed back into silence.
Ending 2: Gut Wrenching Horror and Angst
With that, they lapsed back into silence.
They didn't have long to wait.
It seemed like only moments later that Angel was thrashing beneath her, calling out her name in a wrenching voice as the agony slammed through him. Buffy's heart froze in her chest, and she slid off him, landing on her knees by the side of the bed.
Horrified, she watched the change take him. It was painful to behold, the suffering written across his face tearing her frozen heart into pieces. With his last bit of consciousness, Angel turned towards her and grated out, "I love you. Forever." Then his body shuddered and his eyes rolled back in his head. Buffy was too numb to cry; her mind refused to comprehend what had just happened.
And what she now had to do.
Sooner than she had expected, Angel's long form uncurled itself from the bed. He stood up and smirked down at her with an expression that was pure Angelus.
"Hello, lover," he said calmly. "Imagine seeing you here."
"Don't get too used to it." She knew that she should have staked him while he was still insensate, defenseless...but it was still Angel's body, and the thought of harming it was so foreign to her, she could not even fathom it.
"I'm here to stay, Buff. But you know that. You being the reason I'm back and all."
She flinched involuntarily.
"Couldn't pass up this cock, could you?" His hands dropped to frame his manhood. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. A little self control, Buff, and this would have never happened."
"It did. And now I have to clean up after myself." She stood up, steeling herself.
"Big words from such a little girl. You don't have the guts."
"You love me, Buff. You can't kill me."
"Like I told Angel...been there, done that. Remember Hell?"
Angelus snarled, rounding the corner of the bed. "I remember you robbing me of my triumph."
"Letting the world get sucked into Hell was not on my to-do list that day."
He stalked her, and she ignored the voice in her brain that called for her to flee. She stepped towards him, but as she moved, she realized that Angel had taken more blood than she had realized. She was weakened slightly...and with her own blood running through his veins, Angelus had the advantage.
Schooling her face not to show the panic that was slowly seeping through her body, Buffy stood her ground, waiting to see what he would attempt first. Blatantly, he looked her up and down.
"Feeling a little tired, Buff? A little weak? My boy Angel took quite a bit of blood during your little romp in the shower." Angelus paused to lick his lips thoroughly. "Slayer blood is always excellent...but your blood, your blood surpasses all."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it. You won't get another chance."
"C'mon...can't you just close your eyes and pretend I'm your precious Angel? I have his face...his skin...his cock...I'm sure we could come to an agreement."
Rage flooded her, and she lashed out, his mouth splitting open from the force of her fist. "You're not him," she snarled. "He was a thousand times the man you are."
Eyes flashing yellow, he backhanded her in return, sending her flying into the wall behind her. She had underestimated the strength her blood had given him.
"I wouldn't," he growled around a mouthful of frighteningly sharp teeth, "ever do that again, lover."
"Why?" she countered, leaning against the wall for support. "Because you'll make me bleed?"
"Because I'll make you pray for your own death, just to escape me. A Slayer will take a hell of a lot of torture before she dies, Buff. And believe me, I've killed enough to know."
Calm surrounded Buffy as she stood up. He wouldn't succeed. She was the Slayer, and she refused to allow it to happen.
"So brave, lover. So brave, and so beautiful, and so monumentally stupid."
"You always were all talk, Angelus," she noted, her body falling instinctively into position.
Her sly taunt enraged him, as she had expected, and he lunged for her. She sidestepped him, and dove into a roll, away from the bed. Quickly, she sprang to her feet in enough time to evade a punch that, had it landed, would have cracked her jaw. She spun around, landing a backfist on him, but he withstood the blow, catching her arm and hauling her into his embrace.
As his arms clamped around her, she realized with no small amount of horror that she could not break that confining hold. The arms surrounding her were just too strong. Her eyes widened with the realization of what was going to happen, and he chuckled.
"C'mon, Buff... What happened to 'when you kiss me, I want to die'?" he mocked her. "It's not a bad way to go," he whispered, brushing her lips with his. "Your lover's arms around you, your lover's fangs embedded in your throat..."
The whimper built up in her throat, but she refused to allow it voice.
"And later, when you wake up, you'll be rid of that pesky soul."
Angel had been right. Angelus meant to turn her. Rage filled her eyes, and all her muscles tensed, screaming for battle.
"You didn't think I would tolerate being parted from you, do you? Oh no, no, lover, we'll be together forever. Until the end of time. We'll tear the world apart...starting with that annoying fuck Doyle and his beautiful bitch. Then I figured we could head back home to Sunnydale and pay a visit to your mother and Watcher. I thought about turning Giles...but I don't relish an eternity of him trying to work his way into your pants. So he has to go. Along with all the rest of your annoying friends."
Buffy shook her head. "It'll never happen."
"It's gonna happen sooner than you think," he retorted, mouth burrowing into the smooth curve of her neck and biting down. She gasped slightly as his fangs breached her flesh, then he was sucking down huge draughts of her blood, growling and rubbing against her as he did so.
Despair filled her, and as her eyes slid closed, a tear slipped from underneath a clenched eyelid.
As Angelus sucked the last few drops of blood from her rapidly cooling body, he looked down at her. She had struggled valiantly in the beginning, but blood loss had taken its toll on her.
Buffy had a curious half-smile crossing her face. "I win," she whispered slowly. Her eyes dropped to his chest.
His brow furrowed, and he looked further down, to where a sharp piece of wood protruded from his chest. He had no time to react. With the last ounce of her strength, Buffy slammed the stake home.
Angelus erupted into dust around her.
Without his support, she fell to the ground, laying quietly as the ashes of her lover rained down on her. In the end, they had both been right. He had killed her, but even as death edged closer, she had rid the world of him. She couldn't have allowed Angelus to live. But she couldn't live without Angel. And now, she didn't have to. They would be together. Forever.
She supposed it was meant to be that way.
And as she drew her last breath, she smiled.
Ending 3: Happily Ever After
With that, they lapsed back into silence.
They clung desperately to each other, waiting in pained, anxious solitude for the horror to begin. Eventually, Buffy began to shift in his arms.
"How...how long did it take, the last time?"
He thought about it for a moment. "About a half hour from, uh, well, from..."
She looked up at him. "It's been more than a half hour."
"Maybe it takes longer the second time. I don't know."
At that moment, a tiny thread of hope flared in Buffy's heart, but she fought to keep it from creeping into her eyes. Instead, she snuggled against him, and despite the sword hanging over their heads, they fell into a deep, quiet slumber.
Nearly two hours later, Buffy jerked awake.
Angel was sleeping peacefully beneath her, looking though he hadn't moved an inch since they had started their nap. He was always a heavy sleeper, but the loss of his soul, she imagined, would have woken him up. It had the last time. So if he was still asleep...could it be? Was it possible?
"Angel?" she asked, running a hand up his chest. "Angel, wake up."
"Huh," he murmured, blinking rapidly to clear his eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fi--oh my God," he said, reality returning quickly. "Are you...? Why am I...?"
"You're still you, Angel."
"I shouldn't be. I should be him."
"But you're not," she whispered, tears reappearing in her eyes. "You stayed." She brushed trembling fingers across his lips. He kissed them, staring at her beautiful face.
The sound of feet pounding down the stairs interrupted them. A door flew open, and a small man skidded into the basement, his breath coming in heaving gasps. "Angel, I..." he blurted before he caught sight of the couple on the bed.
"Doyle, what the HELL are you doing?" Cordelia yelled as she stamped down the stairs after him. "You come running in like a madman, and then -- OH MY GOD." She laid her hand on Doyle's arm. "We have to get out of here NOW," she said, her eyes focused on the couple in bed. "Any minute now, Angel's going to go postal, and if we're here, it will only distract her."
Before either Buffy or Angel could fill them in on the situation, Doyle shook his head, then winced at the sudden movement. "No, that's no' the way it's goin' t'go this time." He grinned. "For once, I'm glad I had a blindin' migraine."
Cordelia tugged at him. "Doyle, come on!"
He laid his hand on top of hers. "No, darlin', things are goin' t'be okay. His soul's intact. I saw it."
At his words, Buffy's body jerked upwards. "Intact," she whispered, her hand covering her mouth. "As in, permanent?"
"As in, you two can get as fleshy as you want wi' each other, and it won't matter a bit."
Angel sat up as well and stared at Doyle. "You saw this just now?" he demanded.
"Aye. You know I see things, and then I just *know* things, like they were spoken in my head. And I saw you and the lovely blonde Slayer there ...uh...well, havin' a bit of sex. And then I just knew it would be okay."
Cordelia's death grip on his arm relaxed, and she heaved out a breath. "Well, thank God! I didn't want to be out of a job." Her beaming smile belied the words, showing how happy she truly was for her friends. "We'll be going now," she added.
"It's been a while...maybe Angel needs some help. What d'you say, man?" Doyle's eyes twinkled wickedly; he couldn't resist the urge to needle Angel.
Still shell-shocked, Buffy muttered, "If he had any help, I'd be dead." Then, realizing what she had said, the Slayer blushed, hiding her face in Angel's chest.
Doyle snorted, but before he could reply, Cordelia towed him to the stairway. "Up! Now!" she demanded.
Licking his lips, he replied, "That's never a problem around you, darlin'."
Cordelia's outraged shriek was muffled by the slamming of the door.
"Are they always like that?" Buffy said into Angel's chest.
"Usually, they're worse."
"Tell me about it," he sighed, running a hand over his face.
"Your soul's permanent."
"It would appear so."
"Then why are we talking about Cordelia and Doyle?" She tilted her head back to look at him.
A small smirk crossed his lips. "Hell if I know."
And then his hands were framing her face as her arms wrapped around him. Their mouths met and clung together sweetly as Angel eased them back down to the mattress.
"I love you," she murmured, breaking the kiss slightly. "And I won't let you leave me again. I'll follow you around all the time, until you give in."
He silenced her with another kiss, then said, "I gave in a long time ago. Walking away the first time used all the willpower I had. You couldn't get rid of me now if you tried."
The Slayer grinned at her beloved. "Good. Now, what was that about 'getting fleshy'...?"