TITLE: Forever And A Day

AUTHOR: Tinkerbell and Lex, Founders of GWAA (Gut Wrenching Angst Anonymous)

EMAIL: Tink at Tink0205@aol.com and Lex at lex@bitchenvy.com


CONTENT: Duh. Sex. Oh, and Gut Wrenching Angst. And maybe some more sex.

TIME FRAME: Set during BtVS Season 4/Angel Season 1

SYNOPSIS: Buffy and Angel try to live completely separate lives. But they find it more difficult than they could have ever imagined.

DISCLAIMER: They do not belong to us, we know that. We're still very bitter about it, though. Joss is God. Yadda, yadda yadda.

NOTES: This fic is the result of a conversation the authors had on AIM a while ago. Tink, being ever practical, wanted a plot. Lex rolled her eyes and said, "Buffy. Angel. GWA. Throw it all together in a pot, heat for a little bit, and out pours fic." So, here you have the result. Do let us know what you thought. We're shameless that way.

DEDICATED: To the rest of the KRT (Tamara, seneca, and Harpy), because eventually, we WILL overcome. There can be no doubt.




Six months. It had been six achingly painful months, empty of promise, since Angel had left Sunnydale. Since he had left her.

The pain had not lessened since the day he had said goodbye, and turned away from her for good. It was a sharp pain, tiny needles in her heart, little pricks of tears always threatening right behind her eyes.

She did not cry. She had cried her tears for him before he left, and she was wise enough to know that useless tears would not bring him home from Los Angeles. They were there, the tears, hovering always at the back of her throat, but she did not let them fall. She was strong enough to hold them off. She was the Slayer, after all, and Slayers did not cry.

Except sometimes, when it was long past midnight, and she was alone in her bed.

Buffy gave all appearances that her life was proceeding as normal, and even Willow was fooled. Buffy went to classes, and managed to keep up. She even passed her midterms. She and Willow shopped, and ate lunch, and gossiped. She kissed her mother goodbye in the mornings and hello in the afternoons, and visited Giles frequently.

But Giles was not fooled. He watched his Slayer carefully, although truthfully she was not his Slayer, and the fact that she had quit the Council made the title "Slayer" a little dubious. But Giles could not relinquish his job of Watcher so easily, thus, he Watched.

She smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. She laughed at Xander's ridiculous jokes, but it was hollow, without the ring of vivaciousness to it that she used to have. She cleverly feigned interest in everyday happenings, like the weather or her schoolwork or what color nailpolish would go best with her new top, but Giles was not fooled.

The space that Angel had left in her life was growing. Giles was quietly concerned about this, worried that soon the hollowness would begin to take over her entire being, leaving Buffy just a shell of her former self. As if she were not already.


It was early when she arrived back home after patrol, only 11:30. There had been nothing of interest in the cemetery, though Buffy had waited for several hours before deciding to give it up for the night. The house was quiet and still, her mother already in bed, and Buffy stopped in the kitchen for a glass of ice water before climbing the stairs to her room.

She dropped her pack carelessly in the corner and walked to the bed, shedding clothes as she went. She draped her jacket over the bedframe, leaving her t-shirt in a lump on the floor, and tossing her pants toward the laundry basket, but missing. Out of her top dresser drawer she withdrew a soft cotton tank top with pink boxer shorts, and put these on with a small sigh of relief. Comfortable at last.

She almost turned away from her dresser then, as she'd trained herself to do. She never kept her top drawer open longer than necessary, just reaching in to grab clothes and then slamming it shut, but why she didn't do that tonight was a mystery. Instead, she gingerly lifted up some t-shirts and peeked at the secret that was lying hidden on the bottom of the drawer.

It was an envelope, and in the envelope was a letter. If you could call it that. It was really just a single line. She withdrew it from its spot carefully, holding the envelope as if it were something fragile. Her name and address were scripted neatly across the front, and that was it. The postmark said "Los Angeles", but there was no return address. Naturally. He had disappeared from her life as neatly and enigmatically as he had entered it.

She turned it over and over in her hands, knowing by memory what was inside but wanting to look at it all the same, just to make sure the writing hadn't faded from view and all contact with him lost. She slid the paper out carefully, gingerly, and set the empty envelope down while she unfolded the scrap of paper. It was just a number written there, seven small digits, and it was signed with a plain, clear "A".

She had received it just 10 days after he had left her, and had not heard anything further. Buffy had gone out to the mailbox and found it waiting for her amid the rest of the mail. It had taken more than a day for her to garner the strength to open it without crying. When she had, she wished he had never sent it to her. It was too much of a temptation, that phone number. It would be so easy to call him. Buffy knew he would not turn her away. Instead, with a show of willpower she wasn't aware of, she put the letter in her drawer that very day and had not taken it out since. Angel was gone, and to call him would only be a reminder. She knew it wouldn't bring him home. But oh, just to hear that familiar voice...

She sat on her bed with the piece of paper and glanced furtively at the slim white phone on the nighttable next to her.


Call him.

Call him now.

It would not leave her alone, the persistent whispering in her head, and she wondered absently if this was how insane people first became aware of their insanity. Voices that mocked.

She picked the phone up, listening to the faint dial tone, then slammed it back down. What was there to say to him? Please come home, I think I'm dying without you? Please come back to me to save me from myself? Please be my guardian Angel again? No. None of those things could be said.

She should call Willow instead, she thought. Willow would understand and distract her. Willow would offer to come over and sit with her, like she had done many times before, and when Willow would leave, Buffy would be sleepy and go to bed without calling him. That's what she would do, Buffy decided. Call Willow.

But she didn't. She knew as soon as she took the letter from her drawer that tonight was going to be the night she broke down and called him. When she picked up the phone, she found herself dialing a strange number that had a Los Angeles prefix, and when the connection was made on the other end, she bit her bottom lip with worry. She listened to the phone ring somewhere far away, one ring, two rings, three...

He's not there, she thought with a sense of relief, he's out somewhere, you can hang up now, just hang up before---


Her breath caught at the sound of the low, smooth voice, and her mind went blank.

Silence from Angel's end, then, with impatience, "I said, hello?"

He's going to hang up unless you say something, idiot, she told herself, and she rushed out his name. "Angel."

Another long silence, different this time. Then, "Buffy."

He said it so warmly that she found the hated tears filling her eyes again, and she brushed at them impatiently. "I'm...I'm calling you," she said inanely.

"So I see. I didn't think you were going to. But I hoped."

"You did?"

"Every night."

"Oh." She mulled over this revelation.

Awkward silence, until Angel spoke again. "How are...things?"




A long pause, in which Buffy closed her eyes and Angel nibbled at his thumbnail.

When he spoke again, his voice was hushed. "Baby, what's the matter?"

At the tender tone, she couldn't help but bite back a moan.

The musical sound traveled through the phone to wrap around his cock. The merest sound and he was hard instantly, aching for her. "Are you okay?"

"No," she breathed. "No, I'm not okay. How can I be? You're not here."

Angel closed his eyes. This separation was killing them slowly, a day at a time. He needed her more than he needed blood. It was as simple as that. He needed to be inside of her while she clenched around him, screaming his name in ecstasy.

There could be no other sensation to equal that, her slick flesh enveloping him, her love consuming him. Redeeming him.

"Angel," she said softly, "I hurt. All over. It's like my skin is too tight, and I can't make it go away."

He grew even harder, if that was possible. "Shhh," he soothed. "It's okay. I'll make it better, I promise."

She sniffled a little bit. "Please..."

He clenched his fists for a second, trying to control his raging emotions. She sounded so forlorn and helpless in a way he had never heard before. The Buffy that he knew was strong, independent. He was at a loss for how to help her. He did the only thing he could think of. "Lay down."


"You're in your bedroom, aren't you? Sitting on your bed?"


"Lay down."

She complied willingly, huddling under the blankets and clutching a pillow in her arms. "Okay," she told him.

Angel lay back on his own bed and rested one arm behind his head, picturing her in her bedroom. The vision of her was dancing just behind his eyes, clearer than real life, and he swallowed with difficulty. "Describe yourself to me," he murmured into the phone.

She was puzzled. "You know what I look like."

He smiled. "That's not what I mean. Tell me what you're wearing, tell me what you're feeling. I want to be able to see you."

She glanced under the covers at herself. "Ummm...a pink tank top. And matching shorts."

"Cotton or satin?"

"Cotton. You know, those ones you liked." She was starting to relax, letting the sound of his voice wash over her, calming her. Why had she been so adamant about not calling him? She couldn't remember anymore.

"Ohhh, right. I know which ones. Yeah, I like those." He shifted uncomfortably, his cock straining at the seam of his pants. The mental picture of her was so tantalizing, it was torture. "Are you wearing a bra?"

She giggled in surprise at his question. "No. I'm ready for bed."

An image of her soft, supple breasts flashed into his mind, and his mouth tightened. This was going to be harder than he thought.

"Ummm...what about you?" Her voice was getting softer.

"A white t-shirt. And those gray sweatpants you gave me for Christmas. The fleece ones." The ones that suddenly were too tight in the crotch.

"Take your shirt off." Buffy surprised herself with the request, but it felt so natural to ask him. She was warm now under the covers, warm in a way that she hadn't felt for months. It was low in her belly, and spreading outward.

She heard him move on the other end of the line, pulling his shirt over his head and then returning to the phone, his voice low and smooth and sweet. "You too. And the bottoms."

Buffy smiled to herself in the darkness, and did as he requested. Naked now, she lay with only the sheet covering her, still clutching the pillow in one arm, while lying on her side. "Okay. Clothing gone."

"Me too." He realized they were naked together, and the ache of missing her was almost unbearable. "Pretend I'm right there, next to you."

"I can feel you," she replied, barely audible now. "Your skin, your cool, smooth skin. I love how it gets warmer in the spots where I touch you."

"Buffy, I'm hard as steel for you right now, and all from just hearing your voice."

At that picture, she felt herself grow wet, and she stirred in bed, tightening the muscles in her thighs while moving restlessly against the sheet. "What else do you feel?"

Angel's voice grew husky, and he answered her truthfully. "I can imagine you lying there naked, waiting for me. I can smell you, smell your blood and your skin and your desire. If I could, Buffy, if I could touch you, I would reach out a finger and take a taste from your wetness. I would make you watch me while I did it, while I sank a finger into you and drew it out, wet, and put it in my mouth. God, if I could, I would."

"If I could...if I could, I'd touch you, too." Her eyes were closed, picturing it, and a flush was rising on her cheeks.

"Tell me," he asked her. "Tell me how."

"I'd take your cock in my hand and squeeze, feeling how soft the skin is but how hard you are underneath. You're hard everywhere, Angel. I love to lay my head on your stomach and feel how hard the muscles are. And I'd play with the hair around your cock, tickling you, and then I'd reach underneath and cup your balls in my hand, playing with them." She heard him groan softly on the other end of the line, so she continued. "And then you would look so good lying there that I would have to taste you too, just like you tasted me. I would put my mouth on the very tip of your cock, sucking at the swollen part on top, but I would still be squeezing you with my hand."

She was whispering now, but he could still hear her clearly, and with his eyes closed he reached down to grasp his shaft firmly in one strong hand, squeezing it tightly the way Buffy was describing to him. "Put your hand down there," he told her. "Feel yourself for me, and tell me what you feel."

Buffy turned to her stomach and stretched out along the bed, still cradling the phone to her ear but discarding the pillow off the side of the bed. As Angel spoke gently to her, one of her hands stole down to creep under her stomach into the space between her legs. She could already feel a damp spot beneath her on the bed from the wetness that was in her. "I'm wet, Angel," she breathed, beginning to rub against her hand, placing her fingers right over the throbbing center. "It's all hot, and wet, and a little slippery. It's you who does that to me, you know. Nobody else makes me this way. It's your fingers that are touching me right now, moving in me..." she trailed off, squeezing her eyes tightly shut and pressing against her hand, moving back and forth on it while she listened to Angel give a low growl on the other end.

It was too much, he couldn't stand not to move his hand on himself as he listened to her. He began to stroke himself slowly, feeling her, hearing her bite back little gasps as she touched herself. Something was missing, though, something wasn't exactly right. Opening his eyes, he glanced quickly around the room until his eyes lit on a small bottle. It was Buffy's hand lotion, the one she didn't know he had taken from her room before he left. He had taken it because it smelled like her, and he wanted the tiny memory of it. He reached to his nightstand for it now, still holding the phone, and shook a small amount into his palm. The scent of daffodils reached his nose, and suddenly it was like she was really there, in the room with him, putting her little hands just where he wanted them most.

Reaching back down again, his hand slick with lotion, he grasped his cock and began to stroke. He slid easily through his own fingers, the lubrication creating the sensation of being inside her tight, hot, warmth. "More," he grated out. "I need more, Buffy. Tell it to me."

She recognized the full, throaty tone in his voice. It was the way he sounded when he was fully aroused, needing her, wanting her. She had heard it before, and now it served to send her closer to the edge of her own desire, and she slipped two fingers inside herself. "Oh, Angel..." she was starting to moan softly now, rising and falling on her hand as she thrust her fingers into herself. "You're so deep inside me," she continued. "So deep that all I can feel is you...all I ever want is you."

He could feel what she was feeling, her slickness, her heat, her tightness. He swallowed hard, against the clenching agony of his memories of her flesh. And true agony it was, because once he had experienced it, and it was denied to him now. The memories lingered constantly. He gripped himself tighter and began to speed up the rhythm, arching his head back on the pillow, straining to hear her breathing on the other end. "Warm," he murmured. "Warm, and tight around me. Squeeze tight."

"I am," she whispered back, moving against the heel of her hand while her own fingers slid in and out, her hips moving up off the bed and then down again. "You're going in so deep, just like I remember it. Touch me, Angel, like you did that night." She had to take deep, shuddering breaths to get the words out.

"I'm touching you," he groaned. "I'm touching you between our bodies, as I pull out of you and then go back in. My fingers are between us, rubbing you. You can feel it, can't you? I know you can. God, Buffy, you are so dripping wet that I can just slide into you like butter." He was pumping himself in earnest now, striving for release, listening to her pant with him. "Buffy, I can't last for much longer...come with me, please, baby..."

It was that final plea that sent her spiraling, her body beginning to shudder with the first waves of pleasure, and she couldn't help grinding her hips into the bed while she thrust her fingers deeply inside. "Angel," she moaned, "Angel, God, you make it so right, you make everything right..."

He stroked hard once, twice, and felt himself throb under his hand. As his cool seed shot from him to land in an arc on his belly, he felt her presence there with him, he was truly inside her, if only for that moment. The orgasm was powerful, and he was helpless beneath it, gripping his own shaft and letting it wash over him.

Buffy could hear him on the other end, knowing he was coming, and it helped to bring her there as well, her hips twisting in a frenzy as she trembled with the force of it. For that moment, Angel was there with her, inside her, and she could feel him solidly.

For a moment there was silence on both ends while Buffy quieted her breathing and Angel straightened himself up.

"Thank you," Buffy finally spoke, a bit of the emptiness creeping back in.

"Sweetheart. I told you I would make it better." The sense of loss reached Angel too, though they had been together just moments before.

"Uh huh...kind of."

He couldn't say anything. Stolen pleasure over the phone was not a substitute for his presence, and he knew it.

"Well..." Buffy said, "I guess it's kind of late. For me, I mean. School and all."

"Will you call me again?" Angel suddenly asked, desperate to hear the answer.

"I don't know," she answered truthfully. She really didn't know.

"You know that I'm here. If you need me."

"I know that. Goodnight, Angel."

"Goodnight, Buffy."

They hung up quietly, each of them placing the phone back on its cradle and then looking at it sadly. Separately, but together, Buffy and Angel lay back on their beds and fell almost instantly into sleep.

They did not dream that night.


Days went by, days in which neither Buffy nor Angel really acknowledged what went on around them, stumbling around in a haze of old memories. The pain that had been carefully tamped down and ignored had once again surged to the surface to haunt them once more.

More than once, Giles' watchful eyes caught Buffy drifting away to a place deep within her mind, and for a moment, he wished her peace. A peace inside herself, for he knew she would never find it outside.

But in the next, he would always jar her back to reality, because the more time she spent in her dream world, the harder time she would have coming back.

And he needed her here.


Each night, when she went home, it happened again.

Each time, she would swear to herself that she would resist, that she would be strong.

But each night found her naked in her bed, her fingers shoved deep inside herself, as Angel crooned to her over the phone.

The phone.

It was all the phone's fault.

One night, she went home, determined to avoid the phone and the temptation that lay beyond. She stuffed the phone into the drawer on her nightstand, and crawled into bed. That night, she tossed, and she turned, and she shifted, but sleep evaded her.

Was it possible then, that she had become addicted to the sound of his voice, whispering those shockingly sexual things that they had never had the time to try?

Buffy pressed her face into her pillow, and let the tears come to the surface. She needed him with her, needed him inside her, and wrapped around her, keeping her safe. Keeping her loved.

"Oh, God...Angel..." she whimpered into the soft cotton of the pillowcase, "How can I need you so much?"

It was at that moment that the nightstand began to ring.

It surprised her for a moment, the ringing furniture, but then she remembered the phone and shot a look at the clock. 4:00 AM. Maybe Giles or one of the gang was in trouble. Terror shot through her heart as she yanked open the drawer and grabbed the phone, her tears momentarily forgotten.

"Hello? Giles?" she asked, panic-stricken.

No one answered her.

It was the silence that clued her into the caller's identity. Dear God. Angel. It had to be Angel. But she was the weak one! She was the one that had always called him, not the other way around.

"Angel?" she whispered.

"Did you want Giles," he half-joked.

"Huh? No, no, I just thought...it was late and I was scared something had happened..."

"I-it's late, I'll go."

"NO! No, don't go, Angel. Please."

"I...I missed you," he said simply.

A ragged sob tore from her throat at his admission. "I missed you too...every minute."

There was another long silence, then, "Buffy. We have to stop doing this. It's making it harder for us."

Coldness washed over her. "Don't leave me again," she begged, clutching the phone desperately.

Angel covered his eyes with his hand as he listened to the one woman he would ever love sob brokenly. He had never felt more useless in his life than he did at that moment, listening to her agony, knowing he was the cause. After a few moments of her hushed misery, he spoke once more. "Baby, listen to me. This can't go on. We can't go on like this. It's worse than it was when we were both in Sunnydale."

"Then come home."

"I can't do that. Not to myself, and certainly not to you."

"The only thing you're doing to me is abandoning me." Her voice was thick with resentment.

"I want you to live a normal life. You won't -- can't -- do that if I'm in your life. And talking to me every night on the phone counts."

"You're so determined to save me, you don't even think for a moment to ask what I want, what I dream."

"Buffy --"

"---Hush. Do you know what I dream about, Angel?" Her voice was soft. "I dream about that night on the floor of the mansion, when you drank me."

His eyes shot open in the darkness of the room. "I never...I never thanked you for that, Buffy. You nearly died to save me."

"I would have died without a second's thought, to save you."

"The way you risked yourself was unforgivable, Buffy." His tone was faintly chiding. "You never should have taken the chance."

"If I didn't, you'd be dead."

"And you'd be better off."

The words hung in the air, nearly tangible.

For several minutes, there was a nearly painful silence. Then she spoke, and the rage in her voice came through the phone clearly. "How *dare* you say that to me. How dare you say that. If you were dead..." her throat closed, and she broke off for a minute, "...If I had watched you die, I would have died myself in the next minute."

"No, Buffy. It's wrong, so wrong..."

"You have no right! You have no right to say that I'm wrong for feeling what I feel for you. I had no choice, Angel. I never said, ooh, maybe I'll be a rebel and fall in love with a vampire. I never thought it would be anything but the agonizing journey it has been."

"Then why...?" He was slightly hoarse.

"Because the first moment I set eyes on you, I fell in love with you so hard and so deeply I knew I would never be able to fall out of it. I can't stop. I can't make it go away, can't turn it off because it's inconvenient. It's exists, and it's real and whether you exile me from your life or not, it's forever."

It was his turn for silence. Then he spoke, hesitantly. "I dream about that night, too."

Buffy's eyes slid shut as the remembered sensations streamed through her. Her nipples peaked, and unconsciously, her legs drifted apart.

"I remember the look in your eyes as you tore the collar away from your neck, the mixed fear and anger and desperation, then I think about the way you gripped the back of my head, thrusting me into your neck..."

"You kissed my neck." Her voice was low.

"And I licked it. The taste of your skin, the satiny feel of it...I dream about that, too."

"And then your teeth slid into me...it hurt, but oh...it felt so good," she sighed, rubbing the right side of her neck.

"You moaned, and you arched up to me, and I..."

"You what?"

"I wanted you to moan that way as I thrust myself inside you. I wanted you to be naked, and I wanted to be plunging inside of you, feeling you all hot and wet around me." He was lying on his bed, sheet drawn up on his naked chest, his cock already tenting the fabric.

"I wanted that too, Angel. All I could think of while you were on top of me was how big you were, and how hard you were, and how much I wanted you to be in me." Her breath came more quickly, she was nearly panting, just from the memories and the sound of his voice.

Buffy slid her hand underneath the elastic waistband of her shorts, finding her core already moist and needy. She whimpered his name, and he heard the pleading tone in her voice.

"You liked it," he said quietly, "You felt pleasure from the feeding."

"I...oh yes," she breathed, her fingers sliding over her aching clit, "I never thought that it would feel so good, feel so right..."

His tongue froze in his mouth as he searched for a reply. It had felt right. It had *been* right, taking nourishment from his mate. "I tasted your love," he said simply.

His words spurred her fingers on, rubbing her clit, thrusting deep inside her own hot core. "Angel, I'm sooo...," she gasped for breath, "So hot, so wet for you...I want you so much."

With his own groan, Angel gave into the need building inside him and reached for his cock, gripping tightly. She heard him growl as his hand came into contact with his engorged flesh, and that sound sent her closer to the edge.

"Growl for me again, Angel."

His lips twisted in a brief smile as he growled again, deep in his throat. He really never understood it, but it always made her crazy to hear him.

Buffy shrieked then, the sound muffled, as the world went dark around her, and all that existed was him.

Only him.


That was the only night he called.

And the next night, when she broke down once more, the phone rang and rang, endlessly.

No one answered.

She wanted to die all over again.


Doyle walked into the ramshackle office he shared with Angel, intent on discussing the recent rash of vampire thefts plaguing the area. Angel, despite his soul, still had a reputation in the vampire community, and neither Doyle or Angel himself were above exploiting it if it was necessary.

As usual, Cordelia was at her desk, her back to the door. She was typing rapidly on the computer, her rhythm broken only slightly when she reached over and snatched the ringing phone off the cradle. Her voice was smooth as she handled the person on the other end of the line, offering to have 'the boss' call back when he was available.

"Who was it?" Doyle asked as he propped himself on her desk.

She whirled around in her seat to glare at him. "Don't sit on my desk. You know how I hate that."

Doyle grinned as he took a long look at the cleavage her low cut blouse revealed. Damn, but she was one fine looking woman. "I know, you just can't trust yourself around me."

"Yeah, I can't trust myself not to vomit all over you."

He winced at the imagery, but before he could respond, Angel roared Cordelia's name through the closed door.

With a disdainful sneer directed at Doyle, Cordelia got up and yanked Angel's door open. "WHAT?" she howled back, her hands braced on her hips.

"I'm out of stakes. Didn't I tell you to carve some more?" Angel snarled, glaring at his assistant over his desk.

"I was busy. Why don't you take some from your shrine to Big Bad Buffy? She won't be needing them. *She* makes her own."

Doyle winced again. It was never a good idea to mention the blonde Slayer in Angel's presence.

But Angel's reaction was nothing like either Cordelia or Doyle expected. Angel seemed to crumple in on himself, withdrawing so quickly that Cordelia was amazed to see him still sitting in his chair. He was silent for a moment, then he said softly, "I'm sorry for yelling at you, Cor. I didn't mean it."

He looked at her, the apology written in his eyes, those dark brown eyes that already held so very much pain.

Cordelia felt her heart ache deep in her chest. She walked over to him, and put her hands on his shoulders. "What happened, Angel? What's wrong?" True, he often annoyed the shit out of her, but he was still the best friend she'd ever had. Their relationship had changed once they left Sunnydale, changed for the better.

Angel looked up into her compassionate brown eyes. "She's...she's been calling me. At night."

There was no need to ask who 'she' was.

"And bringing all the old pain back with her."

"Pretty much."

Cordelia shook her head, and in a rare move, bent down and enveloped Angel in an embrace. She rubbed her hands along his back, and to her surprise, she heard a sob drag itself out of his throat. "Go ahead, Angel, let it out," she soothed as he let the tears fall into her dark hair. "Just let it out."

Quietly, Doyle closed the office door. His questions could wait.


Exhausted, both physically and mentally, Buffy pulled up in front of her house. There was an unfamiliar car parked in the driveway. That could never be a good thing. For a moment, she thought about Angel...but it was light out. Getting out of the car, she walked towards the house, stopping to wearily pick up the garbage cans left at the curb.

When she got to the front porch, she had quite a surprise waiting for her in the slender form of Cordelia Chase.

Cordelia looked...different.

Oh, sure, her body was still as toned, her hair the same dark mass, her skin tanned and clear. But her eyes were different. They were softer somehow, no longer the eyes of one bitter girl against the world.

"Cordy!" Buffy exclaimed, "How are you!" She walked over to the brunette, and was surprised when Cordy stood and enveloped her in a massive hug.

"I'm good, Buffy. Very good. But you aren't."

As usual, Cordelia's distinct lack of tact had the advantage of cutting through any unimportant conversation.

"In fact, I have one vampire, sitting at his desk, who looks about as bad as you do," Cordelia continued.

At the mention of Angel, Buffy's heart set up a fierce rhythm in her breast. "Did something happen...is he all right?" She clutched Cordelia's arms. "Tell me!"

Cordelia's face broke into an oddly tender smile. "I think that if I lived for a hundred years, I'd never again see two people as in love as you and Angel still are," she said softly.

"He won't even talk to me, Cordy." Buffy's voice was anguished. "I don't even know where he is."

Cordelia looked at the ground, then withdrew something from her pocket. "Here." She handed Buffy a business card, then grinned. "I, of course, was never here, and I certainly never gave you this card. Do you understand me, Buffy Summers?"

Dumbly, Buffy looked at the card. It was rather plain, having just an address and a telephone number, embossed under a stylized 'ACD'. "What's this --"

Then it dawned on her.

An address.

Cordelia leaned down, pressed a kiss to Buffy's forehead, then walked away. As she neared her car, she called over her shoulder, "Wouldn't it be something if we ran into each other one day soon?"


She waited for ten days. Not one of those ten days went by that she didn't pull the smooth embossed business card out of her back pocket. Buffy would run her thumb lightly over the raised letters, her eyes fixing on the 'ACD'. She had memorized the numbers below it within the first hour of seeing them. Now the question remained of what to do about that.

She had waited for ten days, but waited for exactly what? Buffy had tried calling Angel only once more since Cordelia had come to visit. The phone had rang five times on the other end before she had slammed it back down on the cradle, unexplainably angry. What if there was some sort of emergency and she had to contact him? What if she really needed him for something?

'You *do* need him for something,' her mind whispered.

"I know," she said out loud, looking miserably at her reflection in her bedroom mirror. "I know I do."

'Go there.'

"Go there? You mean go to L.A.? Right. And what a warm welcome I would receive."

'He won't turn you away.'

"Not at first. But eventually he would pat my head and send me on my way. Just like he's done twice before, first when he left Sunnydale, and secondly when he refuses to answer the phone. He seems to like making all my decisions for me." The confusing anger was back, bubbling up inside of her. Why did the thought of Angel make her angry?

'Don't let him.'

"Angel does what he wants," she argued with herself, not thinking it at all strange that she was speaking to her reflection.

'So do you.'

The last thought silenced her. It was the truth. Buffy *did* do what she wanted. So why was she letting Angel be so controlling of her happiness? Wasn't everybody in charge of their own destiny, at least to a point? Her decision had been made since the moment Cordelia had handed her the card.

She would go there.


Los Angeles was only 65 miles from Sunnydale, although when Angel had left her, it might as well have been across a vast sea. Buffy left as the sun was setting, assuming that Angel would be just arriving at the office. He had told her, in one of the rare moments that they hadn't been loving each other in whispers over the phone, that he and Cordelia had set up shop together and were running a small detective agency. Cordelia and someone called Doyle took care of daytime matters, and Angel would come in at dusk and work with them for several hours. Then the other two would leave, and Angel would work alone in the office until sunrise.

The northbound freeway was surprisingly empty for the time of night. She did not encounter any traffic and arrived in the city limits of Los Angeles within an hour. At a red light, she glanced at the unfolded map on the seat beside her. The cross streets of the address on the card Cordelia had handed her had been simple to find. Buffy wished they had been harder to discover, now that she was actually here, close to him, she was nervous and jittery. She wished that she could concentrate on finding the streets, but the building that Angel was working out of was right off the freeway, and now she was here. Damn.

There were only two other cars parked on the dimly lit street with her. One she recognized as Cordelia's. The other was unfamiliar, just a small black pickup truck. Doyle's, maybe, she mused. Whoever Doyle was.

She knew Angel was inside. Her body was humming with his nearness. As she had drawn closer and closer to her destination, her senses had seemed to come alive, and she was alert and aware, much like a delicate deer would scent her mate. Her heart was fluttering in her chest, and her throat was dry. Too many "what ifs?" were going through her mind, questions she had not asked herself on her impulsive trip to the city. What if he didn't want her here? What if he was angry that she had come? What if--and this was the hardest--what if the reason he had stopped talking to her on the phone was because he had simply grown tired of the fruitless game? Angel was living a life that was totally foreign to Buffy. She didn't know whom he spoke with at work. She didn't know where he lived. She didn't even know where he was getting his blood. All of these things were no longer her right to know. She would be an intruder into his life.

But she was here, nonetheless. Buffy momentarily considered not going in, instead, pointing her car back in the direction of Sunnydale and driving back home, with nobody the wiser. Then she thought for a moment what she would feel like if she didn't see him, if she couldn't look at his face, or hear in person the quiet voice that had murmured to her over the phone. Just the memory of his soft whispers in the velvet night sent a rush of desire through her, and there was no question of whether or not she was going in. She absolutely could not do otherwise.

Angel had been calling to her.


Inside the cramped office, Angel was restless. There was something in the air that he could not quite identify, something that was making his skin prickle with anticipation. The feeling was not unpleasant, but Angel was uncomfortable because he could not grasp the meaning of it, and he was unable to sit in one place for very long. He paced from his office to the outer lobby, which was only a distance of about 30 feet, and paused behind Cordelia. He watched over her shoulder as she typed madly on the keyboard, tapping his fingers on the back of her chair, until she turned around and stared at him.

"Yes?" she asked tartly.

"Huh? Oh...nothing. Sorry." He swung away from her desk under her curious gaze and wandered back into his office. In a moment, he was out again, stopping at Doyle's desk, picking up a folder from the top of a stack and leafing through the contents.

Doyle glanced at Cordelia, who in turn raised an eyebrow in question. Doyle shrugged slightly, and reached out to gently take the file from Angel. "You've looked at that twice already, man."

Angel looked surprised. "I did?"

"Uh huh. The last two times you made laps around the office."

"Oh. I forgot."

"Angel, for God's sake. Will you quit roaming around this place like a housecat? You're making me nervous." Cordelia turned back to her computer and shook her head.

"Sorry. I can't concentrate on anything. Is there a storm coming or something?" Angel wondered if maybe a change in the weather was the answer to his confusing restlessness.

Cordelia didn't bother to answer, and Doyle shrugged. "Could be. Listen, Angel, I put a new inquiry on your desk. There was activity last night near the observatory in Griffith Park. Same kind of stuff that was happening last week, up near the Hollywood sign."

Angel sighed heavily. May as well try to look at the information, he had only been at work for an hour and there was a long night ahead. "Yeah. Okay."

As he turned to head back into his small office, the soft chime of the sensor above the door sounded. He knew that either one of the other two people there would intercept whoever it was, and he was thankful, because in his strange mood he did not trust himself to speak with a potential client. He gave a brief glance over his shoulder at the front door, and took another step toward his office before halting in his tracks.

He did not spin around immediately, because he knew that what he thought he saw could not possibly be true. He stood with his back to the front door, hearing it close softly, and the prickling in his skin intensified. It was somebody else, he thought surely. Another small blonde girl. Los Angeles was full of them. This was not *his* small blonde girl.

The thoughts sped through his mind in the space of only a few seconds, though to Buffy, it seemed like hours that Angel stood in the doorway with his back to her. Cordelia had looked up from her computer screen with a total lack of surprise, because of course she had known Buffy would come. She just hadn't known exactly when. Cordelia caught Buffy's eye and winked prettily, then gestured with a slight move of her head toward Angel. Buffy, heart pounding madly, could only nod back.

Doyle had watched the entire exchange with a great deal of interest, including Angel's refusal to turn around. His eyes traveled up and down the pretty girl standing in the office, noting her tight, compact body and blonde ponytail. She stood tall, although she couldn't have been much more than 5'3". There was an air of physical strength about her, which Doyle could not explain, considering she was small-framed and appeared delicate. It had to be her. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the one he had only heard about from the whispers of the endless scourge of demons in L.A. And of course, Angel. Well, well, well. No wonder Angel couldn't get her out of his mind. She was one hot piece of -

"Buffy," Angel murmured.

She didn't say anything, just watched his back carefully. He had yet to turn around to face her. His stance was rigid, his hands curling slowly into fists and then unclenching again.

Angel knew with a certainty that if he turned around, she would not be there. It would be somebody else standing in that doorway, someone else who happened to have a resemblance to Buffy. She would not come here to torment him. Buffy was not that cruel.

"Angel," she spoke softly, in that way she had of making his name into a caress, and he knew that of course it was her. It was the reason his skin had been prickling all night, the reason for his restlessness and his inattention. His soul had known she was coming, even while his mind had not.

He turned, finally, and Buffy laid her eyes on the face that had been haunting her dreams. He looked the same, if a tad thinner, and his hair was longer. His eyes would never change, though, those eyes that were always sad and desperate and longing.

Angel did not bother to wonder how she had found him. It was irrelevant anyway, because she was here, in his little office, filling it up with her sunshine. How she got here was not important, but *why* she was here was. He stepped forward, drawn to her like always, and she did not retreat, but stood firmly in the doorway and waited for him to come to her. He advanced on her until they were standing a mere foot apart, and he looked down into her eyes.

"You're here."

"Uh huh."


She looked uneasily then at Doyle, who was making no effort to hide his interest, and was in fact sitting idly in his chair with his feet propped comfortably on his desk. He grinned at her when she looked at him. Buffy looked then at Cordelia, who gave off all appearances that she was engrossed in her work, but her fingers were stilled above her keyboard. Buffy glanced back up at Angel, who took the hint.

"We're leaving," he said brusquely to the others, taking Buffy's arm.

"Leaving? Where ya goin', boss? You just got here. There's that info I gave you to look at..." Doyle trailed off as Cordelia whirled around and shot him an icy glare, which neither Buffy or Angel noticed.

"Lock up, Cordy, please," Angel said absently as he held the door open.

"She always gets to lock up," Doyle complained, "and you won't even give me a key..."

The office door closed behind them on the sounds of a wicked reply from Cordelia.

"Do they always do that?" Buffy asked, glancing back over her shoulder worriedly.

"Yes. They can't stand each other. Someday they'll get married."

Buffy filed that piece of information away to examine at a later date. She looked at Angel, standing on the sidewalk with his hands shoved in his pockets. "Is there somewhere we can go?" she asked softly.

He nodded, his eyes traveling over her face, her hair, her body. It was a little unreal, her being here, and he couldn't stop looking at her. "I live right around the corner."

They started down the street together in silence, walking next to each other as close as they could without touching.

Angel had grown hard with desire the moment Buffy had stepped into the office, and he was leery about being alone with her in his apartment. All the things they had murmured to each other over the phone were whispering in his head, all the times when he had listened to her crying out while she touched herself to the rhythm of his words. This unexpected visit from her had potential for disaster, if he wasn't man enough to keep his pants buttoned.

The same thoughts were going through Buffy's mind. Everything she loved about Angel was magnified a hundredfold as she walked next to him quietly. His shy, sidelong glances, his quiet intensity, all of it was still there, just as she remembered it. She glanced down at his hands, and pictured one of them wrapped around his cock as he had loved her over the phone, and she swallowed tightly. This had seemed like a much better idea when she was in Sunnydale.

They reached the small studio apartment shortly, Angel unlocking the door and standing aside for her to enter. Buffy went in ahead of him curiously, taking in the dark furnishings and white walls, and noting the lack of windows. It was decorated in the same dark fashion as the mansion had been, the only splash of color coming from a small framed picture of Monet just above the bed. She smiled slightly. Angel's fondness for fine art belied the darkness in him.

There was a chair against the wall, and Angel sat in it. That left the bed as Buffy's only choice for sitting, so she climbed on to it and sat cross-legged, looking at him. He stared back, waiting for her.

"Tell me why you're here," he finally said, wanting, needing to know. It was strange to see her here, sitting on his bed, edging her way into his new life.

Buffy took a deep breath, clasping her hands together and looking very young. "It was wrong, what you did."

"What was?"


There was nothing to say to that. She was right, and he knew it. The agony of the past months was testimony to it. But it was too late now. "It's done," he said simply, lifting his hands and then letting them fall back helplessly into his lap. "I can't go back. I won't."

She looked at him, and the pleading on her face made his heart hurt. "Why, Angel? Why won't you come home?"

"We've discussed this. It's for you, Buffy, and you won't see it, you refuse to see it. The quality of the life I could give you...well, it wouldn't really be a life at all."

"So you say."

"It's true." He was firm, although inside he was shaking. God, he loved her.

A determined look came about her then, and Angel was instantly wary. He had seen that look often, usually just before she drove a sharp stake home. He watched her carefully as she got up from her seat on the bed and advanced on him. When she was standing before him, she nudged his knees open with her leg and stood in between them. It was all he could do to not grab her by the waist and tumble her to the floor.

"Deny me." She said it so softly, he wasn't sure he heard it right.


"Deny me. Turn me away. Tell me to get out. Make me leave." With each word she bent lower, until the last was said in a whisper as she stared into his eyes. "Do it, Angel. Deny me."

There was utter silence in the room, and even the cars outside on the street quieted, as if the entire world rested on his response. For Buffy, it did.

Angel struggled with himself, his jaw clenching, his body reacting to her nearness and his shaft straining tightly within the confines of his jeans. Finally, it was too much. "I can't," he ground out between his teeth, and reached out for her. Hauling her into his lap, he covered her lips with his own, trying to absorb all of her into his body at once.

Buffy felt tears rise at the back of her throat as she clutched at him. He was kissing her, mauling her, grasping at her clothes as if she were a lifeline. It was true, what he had said on the phone. He did need her. She opened her mouth to him and immediately he plunged his tongue in, sweeping the inside and nipping hungrily at her lips, while his hands sought to divest her of her jacket.

She slipped it down off her shoulders and he growled in pleasure when he found her clothed in only a soft blue tank top underneath. Shifting her slightly so that she was sitting astride him, he drew her head down so he could bury his face in the hollow of her neck. She smelled like passion and love and sadness, and his heart twisted at the thought of her being so sad because of him. Angel wanted to wipe it away, to make her smile and sigh and cry out his name in ecstasy.

"Buffy," he murmured into her skin, the same soft, smooth skin he remembered licking every inch of so long ago. She settled against him, her softness pushing into the aching between his legs, and he could not help but rock up into her as she sat astride him.

Buffy circled her arms around his neck and breathed deeply into his hair, smelling the faint clean scent of it, feeling him nudge his face against her breasts and touching his tongue over her clothes to the erect nipples. "Mmmm," she moaned in encouragement, trying to snuggle closer, deeper. And then suddenly she was in his arms as he stood with her, kicking her jacket out of the way and taking three easy strides to the bed.

Angel lowered her gently, reverently. He reached up to the light switch on the wall and turned the overhead light off, leaving only a small glow from the bedside lamp. It cast a warm puddle over Buffy, bathing her in the soft yellow light, and he thought briefly that she looked like a painting.

And then he was beside her, drawing his shirt over his head and kicking his shoes off, cuddling her close to him and looking at her wonderingly. "You knew to come," he admitted. "You knew enough to come looking for me, because I was such a fool and didn't..."

"Hush." She smiled at him lying half-naked next to her, putting a finger over his lips to quiet him. "It doesn't matter." He looked away guiltily, chiding himself for being stubborn and blind, but Buffy would not let him wallow in his misery. She was here, and they were together, and it was okay.

She drew his hand down to the hem of her top, and he slid his fingers underneath to explore the warm skin for a moment before grasping the shirt and lifting it over her head. Her bra was only a small white scrap of lace, barely covering her breasts, and Angel did not waste time with it. He wanted to see her, all of her, with nothing covering her skin, and he expertly flipped open the front clasp.

When she lay naked under him, he could not stop staring at her, until finally Buffy drew her arms up to cover herself, giggling nervously.

"Don't do that," he admonished her, stopping her hands before they covered her sweet, full breasts. "Then I can't see you."

"But you're staring," Buffy whispered.

"Am I?" His mouth turned up in a grin. "It's because I can't ever get enough of you. I didn't even dream of you being this beautiful, it was as if I could remember what you looked like, but my mind didn't let all the memories come, because it would have been too painful. But now it's real, I can touch you, and I'm sorry, sweetheart, but I just can't stop looking at you."

It was a long speech for him, and Buffy let her arms come down from her chest in response to his words, laying herself open to his warm gaze.

"Look how beautiful...just look at you," Angel said reverently, touching a cool fingertip to a pert nipple, circling it, teasing it, and then doing the same to the other with a feather-light touch, until Buffy was shifting underneath him and murmuring his name.

He left her side briefly, and when he came back she didn't open her eyes but could feel the long hard length of him against the outside of her thigh. He had discarded his jeans, and was now doing the same to her pants, drawing the zipper down oh so slowly that she got impatient and pushed his hand aside. Quickly she wriggled out of the black pants, making him chuckle, and then finally, blessedly, they lay naked together.


'Danger,' that terribly annoying voice in Buffy's head whispered. 'This is dangerous...'

But then Angel was suddenly lowering his head to worship the soft skin of her belly, and she didn't think about the danger, couldn't think of anything but the desire pooling low in her stomach and the wetness that was starting to slowly seep out of her.

Angel could smell it, the wanting, and it blocked out all other thought except to taste her, lick her. He slid down to meet the soft curls between her legs and found her already glistening, and he hadn't even touched her. He should remedy that. Delicately, he touched the tiny bud that was peeking at him, and was rewarded with a groan from Buffy, feeling her fingers thread through his hair. He reached out a tentative finger to the moistness, and then, glancing up at her, he touched it to his tongue.

Buffy was watching him, mesmerized, and when he licked her from his finger, her own tongue came out in an unconscious imitation to moisten her lips. Her hand was still tangled in his hair, and she tugged his head back down to her, unable to stand it. She had touched herself alone in the dark so many times, dreaming he was there, pretending her hand was his, and now she didn't have to pretend because they were together and there was nothing between them.

Nothing between them?


And again, the voice was silenced, because Angel had set about loving her with his mouth in earnest. His tongue was tracing small circles on the inside of her thighs, drawing a path up to her center that was dripping for him, but never quite getting to the spot she wanted. He darted a quick taste inside, drawing out more of her moistness, but try as she might, he refused the spot that was aching the most. She twisted beneath him in an effort to get him there, but suddenly he held her hips still and gazed up at her.

She voiced her frustration. "Angel. Please."

"Please what?" Cruel, he knew, but she had to validate it for him. He had to hear her say it.

"Please don't...don't stop, not now..." she was pleading with him, her voice desperate.

"Where do you want it?"


"Show me exactly where you want it." It was an obsession, for her to tell him, to confirm that she really did want him in the way he was aching for her.

She tugged his dark head to the apex of her thighs. "Right at the top," she whispered, "just inside...oh!"

Angel took mercy on her and gave in even before she told him where she needed him, and he set his attention on sucking the small, throbbing bud that was slick with her wetness. He worried it easily with his teeth, then soothed it with his tongue, at the same time he brought his hands up to dart one finger inside her.

He could feel his face wanting to change, to morph into something more frightening and dark, but he struggled to keep it back. Later, he told himself, there would be time for that later...

And then he heard Buffy give a small cry as her climax began, her hands clutching at the bedsheets and tugging them from the bed as Angel held onto her hips and sucked at her greedily. She tried to hold back her groans, but couldn't, it had been too long since she'd felt him loving her, and then she was crying out in earnest as her orgasm rolled over her in a long, powerful wave.

Before she had even come down from her high, Angel was looming over her, and he couldn't keep back the sharp fangs anymore. He felt himself change as soon as he knew she was coming, unable to stop his physical response to her, and his cock was twitching with anticipation. He was so hard that it was almost painful, and his only thought was to seek the relief he knew her body would provide.

Buffy was aware distantly of the warning in her head, 'Danger...danger...'it was calling, and she struggled to grasp the meaning, trying to listen to it over the other voices that were calling out for Angel to plunge himself deeply inside of her.

She felt Angel's weight on her as he rested his arms on either side of her head and met her eyes. She could feel his hardness right at her entrance, the head nudging at her, and she instinctively opened wider for him. "Ready?" he whispered.

'No!' The voice in Buffy's head shouted at her, finally penetrating her haze. She gave a horrified gasp, pushing at Angel's chest, struggling to move out from under him. "Angel! We can't!"

He had effectively trapped her, and now he had buried his head in the hollow between her neck and shoulder, seemingly in no hurry to move from her. In fact, his shaft was still resting at her entrance, twitching slightly with her squirming, and he was mumbling something into her neck. "S'okay," he murmured, barely audible, nuzzling her with his nose.

"It's not. It's not okay, Angel, stop, please? This is dangerous, the curse, you know why we can't..." she was babbling in her haste to make him listen, to stop him from what he was going to do. If he completed the act, and the demon inside him came back...she couldn't think of it.

"It's okay," he said again, raising his head to press a kiss to her forehead, her eyelids, her nose. "It's okay."

"No! What? How is this okay? Angel, please! You aren't listening! Your curse, that idiotic curse, you know what will happen!" Buffy gripped his arms tightly, trying to see his face, but he had lowered it again to her neck and was nibbling at it.

"No curse," he muttered thickly. "Gone. S'okay. It's gone."

Buffy blinked into the darkness. What had he just said? Gone? How could the curse be gone? It spurred her into action. Pushing at him with all her strength, she succeeded in setting him off balance enough to squeeze out from under him. Scrambling off the bed, she stood a short distance away and pointed a shaking finger at him. "What did you say?"

Angel sat up and shook his head as if to clear it. The seductive pull of desire retreated slightly with the absence of the warm body beneath him, and he realized that Buffy was no longer even on the bed with him. What had happened? He looked at her cautiously. "What did I say about what?"

Her voice was deceptively calm. "You said the curse is gone. Twice. You said it twice."

"Oh, Christ." Angel slumped back against the pillows and threw an arm over his eyes. He had said it, in the midst of passion and wanting her, he had said it. "It's true."

When there was only silence in the room, he uncovered his eyes. Buffy was standing there in the same spot, staring at him with luminous eyes. "Whistler came with the news only a few days before I left Sunnydale," he tried to explain. "We don't know why. The common thought is that maybe Willow left off the clause with the ensoulment spell, but nobody really knows for sure."

There was no response, and Angel grew slightly nervous. "Buffy? Say something, please." He got up off the bed and moved toward her.

"Stop," she spat at him, moving away, hurriedly picking up her discarded clothing.

Angel froze in place. He had wanted to hear something, but not that. "Buffy, come on, please don't..." he held out a pleading hand and she flinched away from it, dressing quickly.

When she was fully dressed, a small barrier of protection against him, she turned to face him. He was glorious in his nudity, as he stood there unembarrassed and shameless of it, and she had to close her eyes as she spoke. "This was something you knew? You knew this before you left me?"

He couldn't lie. "Yes."

"But you left anyway," she stated flatly.

"There was nothing to offer you, Buffy," he said in a quiet, pained voice.

"I didn't want offerings, Angel!" She was shouting at him now, the anger bubbling out of her. "All I wanted was you! I wanted to lie down with you, and kiss you, and make love to you! It wouldn't have cost you a thing!"

He was silent for a moment before responding, considering his reply. "It would have cost me everything."

She had nothing to say to that. Buffy's feelings of anger and betrayal at him were too sharp. All she could remember was the horror of the past six months, the concern her friends had shown, the walking dead girl she had become, and all because he had left her. For no reason at all.

She watched him sink down slowly on to the edge of the bed, running a hand through his hair. "Buffy," he said tiredly, looking at the floor, "I never meant to hurt you."

"But you did." The words were low. Bitter.

His eyes slid closed, and he did not look up again until he heard the sound of the door closing.


The drive back to Sunnydale was spent in silence, no radio breaking the stillness of the night. It was quiet, and it gave her time to think. The whole thing was like a bad dream.

He had lied to her.

She couldn't even begin to wrap her mind around that fact.

He had left her for no reason. No reason at all. There was no curse. They could be together. Nothing was keeping them apart, except for the fact that he didn't seem to want to be with her. He needed her physically, that much she could tell, but was that all?

She loved him so much, with every bit of herself, it just wasn't possible that he didn't love her back.

Was it?


The frantic scrabbling of a key being shoved haphazardly into a lock woke Rupert Giles from a nap on his living room couch. He looked over the back of the couch just in time to see his Slayer fling herself in the room. Her face was pale, her eyes brimming with tears.

Terrified, he leapt off the couch, rushing towards her. "Buffy? Dear God, what's wrong? What's happened? Are you hurt?" The words tumbled out of his mouth, his worst dreams made manifest.

Buffy let out a small cry and flung herself into his arms.

Giles held her tightly, wrapping his arms around her tiny form. "Talk to me, Buffy, you're frightening me."

"I went to see A-A-Angel," she sobbed. "In LA."

Angel. Why was he not surprised that Angel was the cause of this latest sobfest? "Do you think that was the smartest idea?"

"No, I don't. As far as ideas go, it sucked!"

Giles let out an unwilling bark of laughter at the chagrin in her tone. "What happened?" he asked again. Then a horrible thought occurred to him. "Angel is still...*Angel*, correct?"

Buffy stilled in his arms. "What," she hissed, "are you asking me? Are you asking me if I threw caution to the wind once more and endangered the free world for a fuck?"

Cringing, Giles released her. "Of course not, because I know that --"

"--I almost did."

"You what?"

"I was lying naked in his bed, with his naked body nestled between my thighs."

Giles blinked rapidly, unable to form a proper thought. The images forming in his mind left him cold, in a way that he didn't really care to examine all too deeply.

"It was so close, Giles, so close...all those months of separation weakened my resolve...but eventually reality kicked in and I shoved him off of me...which was when he let his bombshell loose. His curse is gone. He has his soul permanently, no matter what kind of happiness he finds."

"How does he know this?"


Giles nodded at the name of the annoying little demon. "It's a reliable source, then."

They were silent for a moment, then Giles spoke again. "I would have thought this was a good thing...meaning that you and Angel could get back together." The words left a bitter taste in his mouth, but for her sake, he forced them out. "There's no barrier to your relationship with him now, Buffy."

"He knew that his soul was fixed before he left Sunnydale."

Giles stared at her. "He knew, you say? He knew, and he left despite that?"

The Slayer nodded her head tightly, more tears beginning to well up. "He left me for no reason."

"He had his reasons, Buffy." And in that moment, he felt his anger towards Angel recede slightly. The vampire really did love her enough to do what was right for her, his own happiness bedamned. Giles knew what that felt like.

"What about my reasons for him staying? Why don't they count? Why don't I count?" Hurt brimming over in her eyes, she walked back into the comfort of Giles' embrace. He kissed the top of her head, at a loss, not knowing what else to say to her.

Suddenly, the front door burst open, the wood slamming against the wall behind it, and Angel entered the room. Giles and Buffy both looked up, alarmed, only to see the very vampire they had been discussing.

"Angel?" Buffy made his name a question, unsure why he was there.

But Giles knew, he could see the look in Angel's eyes, the look that told him the other man was very near to snapping. His head was down, and his nostrils flared, like an animal scenting his mate.

Over partial fangs, Angel rasped out, "You walked out."

Her spine straightened with a nearly audible sound. "I'm sorry, that's your move. I forgot."

The demon flashed in Angel's eyes, and he growled deep in his throat. "You're mine, and you don't walk away from me." He had used the whole drive to Sunnydale to calm himself down, but the second he had seen her in Giles' arms, even knowing that the embrace was intended only to comfort, all his primal male rage rose up in his throat, nearly choking him.

She was his, damn it.

"It was my turn," she said coldly.

He stepped towards them, intending to grab her and take her somewhere to shake some sense into her. Giles read the intent in Angel's eyes, and pushed his Slayer behind his back.

The testosterone rose in the room as Angel faced off against Giles. Buffy's head swung back and forth between her Watcher and her lover. There was some sort of male ritual going on here, and she didn't really understand it.

"If she doesn't want you, you can't have her." Giles' voice was quiet in the room.

"She belongs to me."

"She belongs to herself. She willingly gave herself to you. There's a difference."

"Um, hello? I'm still in the room?" she broke in, her voice exasperated.

Neither man looked at her.

Angel stepped forward, and Giles pressed Buffy back further. "Buffy, I will make him leave for you, if that is what you wish." Her Watcher was tense, every muscle rigid.

She looked at Angel, pacing in sharp, agitated circles in front of them, and then she knew. He was teetering on the edge of his control. He would go through Giles if he had to, all to get to her. Moving quickly, she placed her hands on her Watcher's shoulders.

Angel's narrowed eyes caught the motion, and he misunderstood. Snarling, he stepped forward, rage written on every line of his body.

Buffy read the anger in Angel's face, and quickly shoved Giles out of the way, placing herself front and center in her lover's path. "Giles, it's okay. Angel and I have things to talk about." She spoke to her Watcher, but her eyes were locked on Angel.

She faced him, her fists clenched. "Angel, we have to talk."

"I tried to talk to you, but you left." His tone was accusing.

"Let's go, Angel. Let's talk." She stepped towards him.

"You don't have to go with him."

She turned to face Giles. "Yes, I do. But it's okay."

"I don't want you to be alone with him."

"Don't tell her what to do," Angel snapped.

"I'm serious. If you go with him...I'm afraid of what might happen."

Angel's eyes flared again. "Do you think I would HURT her?" he snarled.

Giles' eyes were cold. "It wouldn't be the first time."

Buffy shook her head. "He won't hurt me, Giles."

"I wish I believed that."

She took Giles' face in her hands, cradling his cheeks. "I'll be okay. I promise." She leaned into him, pressing a soft kiss on his lips.

A snarl vibrated throughout the room.

With one last look at Giles, she walked over to Angel. He grabbed Buffy's wrist, and proceeded to drag her out the door. Buffy didn't fight, knowing if Giles saw her resist in any way, he would try to force Angel to release her, and with Angel's self control dwindling, Buffy had no desire to see the resulting fight.

He dragged her out to his car, nearly jerking the door off of its hinges before she docilely climbed in. He jumped in beside her, and took off with a squeal of tires.


She expected...she didn't know where she expected him to take them, but when he pulled up in front of his old apartment building, it was the last place on her list.

"Why are we here?"

"We have to talk," he grunted, yanking her out of the car.

"I can *walk* Angel, you don't have to drag me. You can just quit the He-Man routine. It does absolutely nothing for me. And I meant, why are we *here*? At your old apartment building? You think the new tenants are just going to let you in?"

"There are no new tenants. It's empty."

"So we're just going to break in?"

"Hard to break in, when I own the whole damn building." He was calmer now, forming actual sentences instead of grunted words.

Her eyes widened. "You own it?"


Without another word, she followed him down the stairs leading to the apartment. "Then if you own it, why didn't you rent this one out?"

His hand on the doorknob, he turned to look at her, an unreadable expression in his eyes. "I couldn't rent it out. I just...couldn't."

"But why?"

There was a long pause, then he whispered, "It was the place I made love to you for the first time."

At his words, one of the largest cracks in Buffy's heart healed, the wound mending instantly, and she fought against showing the knowledge on her face. "Oh. Huh."

Angel opened the door, and motioned her in.


The apartment was exactly as it had been the last time she had seen it, a few days after he had lost his soul. She had gone back to the scene of the crime, and she had cried out every bit of moisture she had ever held within her.

There was no where else to sit except the bed, and Buffy refused to go near that, so she leaned up against the closed door. "We're here. Let's talk."

"Why did you leave?" he fired at her.

"How could I stay? Angel, you lied to me."

"I didn't lie to you. I just didn't tell you the whole truth."

"It's a lie by omission. It's the same thing. You withheld information that was important to the both of us. You made a decision without ever even bothering to inform me."

"I did what I thought was best at the time. I made a judgement call."

"And we know you always have the best judgement, don't we?" He winced, and she closed her eyes. "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for."

Angel walked toward her. "I'm sorry for hurting you." He let out a low laugh. "I wonder how many times I've said that exact sentence. A lot. I've hurt you a lot." He looked so guilty, Buffy felt more of her hurt indignation fade.

"And I forgave you all of it, Angel. It was out of our control, all the time. But this...this was in control. You did this...you made me miss you so much I..." Her eyes filled up with tears, and she looked down. "You made me miss you so much I wanted to die."

Angel reached out and tipped her chin up. "I wanted you to move on."

"Did you really? Did you really want to see me in another man's arms? With another man kissing me, making love to me?"

His jaw tightened, and it was his turn to look away.

"It eats you up, doesn't it? It kills a part of you inside. I know. God, I know. But I don't want anyone else. All I want is you."

Angel looked into her eyes, past the pain and the sorrow, to the unconditional love underneath. "I know the feeling."

"Do you? I love you so much...I don't even have the words for it. But to think you could do something like this...sometimes I wonder."

"You think I don't LOVE you?" He grasped her shoulders, panic written across his face. "I. Love. You."

"You were the one that walked away, not me."

"I love you so much I left!"

"Because that makes so much sense."

"It makes perfect sense! You can't ever have a normal life with me, Buffy. I can't give you the things you deserve, I can't give you sunlight...I can't give you babies!"

"Angel, I'm the Slayer. I'm not going to live long enough to have babies."

"Don't say that. Don't EVER say that."

"It's the truth."

He turned away from her abruptly. She watched his back with questioning eyes. Just barely she heard him say, "I wouldn't want to live if you were gone. There would be no reason for me to exist."

Her heart softened just a little more, and she touched his back, echoing his words. "I know the feeling."

"Do you know what hurts me the most?" he asked, his back still to her. "When I see an old couple walking down the street, and I know that can never be us. I won't age. But I want it to be us. I want to watch you get softer and grayer, and I want to see the same thing happening to myself. I want to see you clutching a baby in your arms and I want to know that right there lying in your arms is my true immortality, our immortality. I want all of it, every single thing you have to give, and it frightens me because the wishes are the worst kind of futility."

"How can a wish be futile, Angel? It's what your heart wants...it's what I want. I want all of that, including the white picket fence and the annoying neighbors and Giles and the gang coming over for Sunday dinner. But it's not going to happen no matter who I'm with, because I'm not normal. I can't have that. I can never have that. Particularly with a man who couldn't accept me for what I truly am."

"Any man would accept you. How could he not?" The question was so bewildered, so artless, she laughed.

"You never saw me like everyone else sees me. To everyone else, I was always a freak, but you always treated me like I was some sort of goddess come to earth."

"You are." The words were simple.

Slowly, she wrapped her arms around his middle, fitting her front to his back. "You're the only one that's every treated me like that. Loved me like that. And you're the only one that ever will. Surely you won't deny me the only man that will ever truly love me for the rest of my life? That seems cruel, Angel. And you were never cruel."

"Jenny Calendar would say otherwise."

"Jenny Calendar is dead."

"By my hand."

"By the hand of a madman, who is also gone. Never to return. You had nothing to do with her death." Her tone was stubborn, indicating that this particular point was not up for argument.

He held her hands to his stomach. "You have to know that I love you more than anything else on this earth."

She leaned her forehead into the small of his back. "Show me?"

Angel was still for a moment, then he turned around in her arms, cupping her face between his big hands.

"There are a million ways to do that. How can I even start to tell you?"

She looked down demurely, her eyes glinting, then back up at him. "I didn't say tell me. I said show me."

The corner of his mouth lifted slightly. "Show you," he repeated. "That has promise." He looked at her reverently, trying to drink all of her in at once, lifting his hand to wrap a golden strand of hair around his finger.

She closed her eyes, her senses honing in on everything she couldn't see. His smell, his touch, the feel of his solidness beneath her fingers, the fabric of his shirt that she was now clutching with desperate fingers, afraid to let go for fear that once again he would vanish.

Behind her closed lids, tears welled unexpectedly. Why was she forever crying these days? The thought that Angel might slip from her anxious grasp was enough to start the tears, and she tried to will them away but one escaped. It slid slowly over the curve of her cheek, leaving a silken trail in its wake, and Buffy was afraid to open her eyes lest the rest of them burst forth and she dissolved into a sobbing puddle.

Angel watched the little drop as it traveled down her face, and when it reached the corner of her mouth, he lowered his head and caught it gently with his tongue. The tiny saltiness dissolved in his mouth instantly, and he kept his tongue to her lips, lightly touching the corner where he had caught the tear.

Buffy turned blindly into his caress, bringing their mouths together, and she opened for him. Smoothly his tongue slipped in, drawing hers out, and they spent long minutes standing in each other's embrace while they kissed. His hands traveled from her face to the gentle slope where her shoulders met her neck, his fingers seeking out the small raised scar he knew was there. A small measure of guilt surfaced, but it was almost immediately covered with animal satisfaction, knowledge that he had marked her well and permanently. She was his.

Buffy stood kissing him on shaky legs, leaning into his weight for support. She wanted to sit down, to lie down, anything but stand there, because her legs were about to give and she was melting all over.

Angel felt her leaning heavily against him, and began to walk backward to the bed. When he felt the backs of his knees hit it, he fell back onto it smoothly, bringing Buffy with him in a warm tangle of limbs and kisses. She giggled against his mouth when he growled, adjusting herself to lay atop him so their bodies fit together seamlessly. When he felt her pressing into him in all the hard, heated places where he ached, a sudden overwhelming need overtook him.

Soundlessly, he sat up with her and began discarding their clothing, silencing her with a ferocious look when she began to speak. He didn't want to talk, he didn't want to wait any more. The denial had worn itself out and Angel was so exhausted from it that he didn't have strength to continue it, his ravaged heart and soul only wanted the comfort and solace of her body.

He took it.

In seconds their clothes were piled on the floor and he pulled her underneath him, watching with soft eyes as her nipples hardened of their own accord and her tongue came out to touch her bottom lip. A flush began rising on her chest and spread upwards to her neck, coming to rest on her pink-tinged cheeks, and she reached up to him with a gentle smile.

"Welcome home, Angel."

Buffy watched him bow his dark head, and opened her legs a bit wider for him in invitation. She was needy for him, had been ready for him since the moment he had dragged her from Giles' side, and she knew she was wet and prepared to take him. When he lifted his head again, the feral look he held made her tremble.

He positioned himself, and with his eyes locked to hers, he slid deeply inside. Buffy gasped then, her world shrinking to include only the feeling of his cock invading her innermost depths. She sobbed his name as he stretched her, a delicious soreness radiating from her core. It had been forever since he had last been inside her, and she had ached for him unbearably.

It was where he would always belong.

And now he was within her, planted solidly.

He wanted to immerse her in pleasure, adore every single inch of her body with his own. But with his lust riding him roughly, there was no time. "Tell me you love me," he rasped, needing to hear the words. "Tell me."

"I love you," she whimpered as he withdrew slightly, only to plunge back seconds later.

"Again," he ordered, not giving her time to sob or gasp or even catch her breath.

"Love you," she whispered, her eyes closing, experiencing the one thing she had thought denied to her forever.

Angel wanted to respond in kind but could not, his climax was rushing up too quickly to understand anything but the fact that he needed Buffy to come with him, needed her next to his heart while he allowed himself to be immersed in her. Swiftly he reached a hand between them, locating easily her swollen bud. All Angel had to do was brush her wetness with his hand and Buffy was clenching around him, gasping out his name and clutching at his silky hair. He could feel her shuddering beneath him and silently thanked the powers that be that she had been so ready for him, he had done virtually nothing to prepare her. And then he couldn't think of anything else but how good it felt to be surrounded by that hot tightness, and he was coming in waves and small jerks against her, pouring into her not only his cool seed but his anguish and pain for her as well.

For many long minutes afterward there was only the sound of the light rain against the window. The two people in the room lay together, pressed tightly to each other, not speaking. Hands roamed gently, exploring crevices and lines, tangled hair was smoothed with a soft murmur, and only the rain spoke.

When Angel pressed a kiss to Buffy's forehead and then darted his tongue to his lips, he grinned. "You're kind of salty."

"I know," she replied, wrinkling her nose. "Gross."

"Delicious," Angel declared, licking at the spot just under her ear.

"I feel gritty," Buffy noticed.

He looked abashed. "I think the sheets are probably dusty. I haven't been back here in...well...a long time."

She smiled at him, twisting his heart. "How about a shower, then? Afterward I'll help you remake the bed."

He pondered it briefly and then said, "Stay right here."

When he got up and padded silently through the apartment to the bathroom, Buffy felt the loss keenly and made a move to follow him. Angel poked his head out of the bathroom door and pinned her to the bed with a dark look, and she sat back onto the musty sheets with a sigh. From the bathroom came the sound of running water to mingle with the increasing rain outside, and Buffy was almost asleep on the bed by the time Angel reappeared.

She felt him gather her into strong arms and she settled into him, her eyes drooping like a child's. He held her securely as he walked with her back into the bathroom, sitting her on the edge of the steaming tub. "I didn't have any bubbles," he apologized.

Buffy looked longingly at the warm, clean water and shook her head. "That's okay. It looks wonderful." She dipped her hand in to test the temperature and sighed.

"In," Angel ordered, placing a hand on the small of her back and urging her into the water. She went without hesitation, sinking into the warmth with a grateful smile, and tugging at his hand.

"You, too," she pleaded, but he shook his head.

"No," he murmured. "Just let me watch." He sat on the edge, unaware and unashamed of his nakedness, his eyes fixed only on Buffy and her lithe, smooth skin just below the surface of the still water. She stretched like a cat, feeling tight muscles loosen with the hot water, and his eyes began to glow slightly yellow. Picking up a washcloth, he dipped it into the tub and wrung it out over her chest, and they both watched the water trickle down over her breasts and run rivulets between them.

Angel took her hand and pulled her up from her reclining position, so she sat cross legged in the tub, and he pushed her head down slightly so that the soft nape of her neck was exposed. Brushing her hair out of the way, he again trickled water over her neck and back, using the washcloth to smooth out the tension that was knotted there.

Buffy let her head loll forward, letting the steam that was rising from the water cover her face, and little tendrils of hair began to curl around her face and neck. It was wonderful, what Angel was doing, using the roughness of the cloth to rub her back. Every so often he let the cloth steal around her side to come in contact with her bare breast, brushing the soft fullness of it and then slipping away again easily. He began to do it more frequently, and Buffy found herself holding her breath until the contact came again, and when it did, she arched forward slightly into it. The warm water between her legs was caressing her softly, and she felt her inner core warm up as well, the moistness that was there having nothing to do with the water surrounding her.

She gave a sideways glance at Angel still perched on the side of the tub, and could not help noticing that his cock was jutting up stiffly, though the expression on his face had not changed. She lifted a hand from the water and let the small drops of water drip from her fingers onto his shaft, the little beads trickling down until they came to rest in the soft black hair at the base. She did it again, this time cupping a whole handful of warm water and letting it pour down over him, her eyes lighting up when Angel's eyes slipped closed and he dropped his head. Buffy did it once more, taking a palmful of water and stroking him with it, letting the water cover his cock and dampen the hair below it.

Angel had long since stopped his ministrations with the washcloth, and he sat now with his head bowed, letting Buffy drip water onto him. The water was so incredibly warm that it felt as if it was actually her mouth covering him, licking at him, inviting him to lose himself in her. And then suddenly it *was* her mouth, and Angel let a startled gasp out but didn't open his eyes, and Buffy was on her knees in the bathtub while she loved him with her tongue.

She didn't tease him with gentle strokes and kisses, but rather put her whole mouth around him and sucked at him roughly, and somehow it was just what he wanted. Buffy pulled back and then lowered her mouth onto him again, grasping his cock with one hand while snaking the other around his waist to bring him in closer to her, and Angel complied easily. He slid closer on the cool tub, and Buffy kneeled half-out of the water, and Angel could not help but thrust into that hot, willing mouth. His muscles began to tremble from bracing his arms on the edge, but he couldn't stop, and Buffy wouldn't let him. She was insistent, gripping him tightly while she sucked at the length of him, and Angel felt his balls tighten only a second before his release came. It was sudden, and Angel surprised both of them by letting out a sharp snarl as he gripped the back of her head and filled her mouth with his seed.

Buffy swallowed it easily, enjoying the bitter sweetness of it, and loving how it was cool instead of warm. She cleaned him with her tongue, gathering up the last of the fluid that seeped from the tiny hole in the velvety head, while Angel looked at her in wonder.

She plopped back into the water and leaned against the back of the tub. "Will you come in now?"

Angel pounced on her, sending waves of water splashing over the side and Buffy gave a surprised screech as he covered her. "Okay. I'll come in."

She began giggling madly as he poured handfuls of water over her head, soaking her hair and turning it from golden to a soft honey brown, and then he was pouring the water over her body in an imitation of what she had done to him. He palmed her wet breasts with his large hands, rubbing his thumbs over the prominent nipples, and Buffy's breath caught in her throat as his hands moved lower to span her waist. Then lower still, and she watched his hands sink below the water to creep under her thighs and lift her legs so that her feet rested on the bottom and her knees barely broke the surface.

The look on his face was intent and serious, and Buffy almost didn't breathe as he used one hand to search through the water until it encountered her slick center. The corner of his mouth turned up in pure male satisfaction when he found her that way, smooth and slippery and pulsing. He slid a questing finger in, and she was so wet that he was able to bury it all the way to the knuckle on his hand.

Buffy bit back a soft cry, her hands gripping the sides of the tub tightly, as Angel moved his finger deep within her, and she began to move with him. She clenched and unclenched around him, and then couldn't keep back the cries anymore, and the small bathroom resounded with her moans.

She was almost there, almost at the peak of her climax, when Angel suddenly slid down as far as the tub would allow and ducked his head beneath the water. Buffy watched him questioningly, then all at once understood his intent when she felt his tongue replace his finger. She thanked God silently that he didn't have to breathe, and her hips bucked when he began to suck at her little bud, alternating between nibbling at it and using his tongue to make swirling clockwise patterns that were driving her insane.

Buffy started sobbing for breath, letting her head fall back and rest on the back of the bathtub, but she couldn't keep her hips still as Angel worked on her. She brought her knees up as far as she could out of the water, trying to expose more of her center to him, and he continued to wring a response from her. She felt herself poised on the edge, teetering, and then he gently took her clit into his mouth and bit it with blunt teeth. It was what she needed, and she almost came completely out of the water as her orgasm shook her and she sobbed his name.

Angel lifted his head from the water before she had stopped shaking and drew her into his arms. He took the space she had occupied moments before, settling her atop him, catching her gaze and holding it.

Buffy could feel his cock beneath her, hard, harder than before, and thought she would die if she couldn't feel him within her. "Angel," she breathed, unable to tear her eyes away, "Oh, Angel, please..."

"Please what?" His voice was low, insistent.

"God, I need you. Please."

With a swiftness that surprised her, he made a slight movement and suddenly he was in her, filling her, completing her, and she groaned in relief. The tub was small enough that he did not need to hold her in place, and he gripped the edges of it tightly.

He thrust roughly up into her, the added tightness of the confined space only adding to both of their pleasure. Water covered them and spilled over the side, and drops of water beaded across their bodies. Buffy and Angel didn't notice, they could only focus on each other as they made love in the water, and Buffy couldn't tear her hazel eyes away from Angel's yellow ones.

At first his eyes were the only sign of the demon inside his body, but as lust crept in to overwhelm him, Buffy watched as his forehead grew ridged and his fangs descended to glint in the faint light. It was highly arousing, watching him slip out of control that way, and Buffy bit her bottom lip as she felt him slide in and out of her so deeply.

She saw his nostrils flare ever so slightly, and her lips curved. He wanted something, something he would never ask for, but she knew instinctively he was aching for it.

Her head fell to the side, baring her neck to him. She knew what he wanted, what they both craved, but she decided to tease him first, a little sweet payback. "What do you smell, Angel? Blood?"

The only answer he gave was a soft growl.

"Gotta tell me, baby," she murmured.

His eyes narrowed slightly as he continued to thrust up into her.

"I know you can hear it rushing through my veins. I know you can smell it. I know you can taste it. Remember what it tastes like? I remember what it felt like. I remember what your fangs felt like, deep inside me. I thought I was going to die of it." The memory was arousing her even further, and she rubbed her sensitive nipples against the muscled wall of his chest. His eyes bored into hers, the heat in his gaze nearly enough to send her over the edge.

"And all I could think of was how much I wanted all of you inside me. You're so big and hard inside me..." She whimpered slightly, wriggling on his lap.

Angel's eyes blazed yellow, the demon out and desperate for blood. But she was completely unafraid of him, knowing that his love for her was stronger than the demon's hold on him.

"You want that again? You want to taste it again? Tell me, then. Say it. Tell me what you want."

Roughly, he snarled, "Mine. I want what's mine."

"Then take what's yours, Angel."

She tilted her head, still keeping her eyes locked with his. His hand came up to grip the back of her neck, and he lowered his head slowly, his whole body trembling. He couldn't believe she was allowing him to do this again, and his hands shook violently. As he had done the last time, he kissed her neck gently, his tongue darting out to taste the sweet flesh.

She was irresistible, and she was his.

He bit, feeling his fangs break her skin and sinking into the softness of her neck, and was dimly aware of Buffy gasping and arching her head back. Angel drank from her, reveling in the warm, life-giving fluid that was spurting into his mouth. He felt rather than heard her cry out, and tasted her orgasm in her blood, and still he drank in the blood of a Slayer for only the second time since he had regained his soul so many endless years before. She was still coming in waves around his cock, clenching him tightly, and then she was unable to support herself any more and collapsed against him.

Angel continued to feed from her, lifting his hands from the side of the tub to hold her head, and then he came with a growl against her neck. He jerked against her roughly, pumping into her, still holding her head, not ready to pull his mouth from the nectar she had offered. He savored the coppery taste that was Buffy alone, not in the past two hundred years had he ever tasted blood that was as sweet. And she had gifted him with it twice. He felt her whimpering against his chest with the pleasure of it and he rumbled deep in his chest in return, still suckling slowly at her neck, now drawing only the tiniest bit from her.

Buffy felt hazy and warm as she lay against him, listening to him purr beneath her, and felt completely sated. Momentarily she felt him withdraw from her neck, cleaning the wound with soft, sweet licks of his tongue. He rested his forehead against her shoulder, and she turned to root for his mouth, wanting a kiss. When she felt him turn away hesitantly, she met his eyes with a question.

"The blood," he explained, slightly shamed.

In response, Buffy leaned up and licked at the corner of his mouth, tasting her own blood on his lips and marveling at it.

Angel jerked his head away, embarrassed now, not wanting her to have to taste it, but she grasped his head firmly in her hands. She drew him down to her, kissing him, tasting him, tasting herself. He was helpless to the gentle onslaught, as he always was. He would always be helpless to what he felt for her. A bit of remorse was creeping in, remembering that he had left this woman for reasons more foolish than were possible.

The water was cooling and Buffy began to shiver slightly, so Angel gathered her to him and stood, what was left of their bathwater cascading off of them. He stepped out and wrapped them both in towels that, thankfully, had been left in the bathroom, and brought her with him into the bedroom.

He did not allow her to assist him with re-making the bed, which he did swiftly and efficiently. Once the clean white sheets were in place, they both discarded their towels on the floor and huddled together under the blankets, Buffy's chilled skin slowly warming, and then in turn warming Angel's. They gazed at each other in the dark.

"My sunshine," he whispered, touching her forehead, her nose, her cheeks.

"Dark angel," she murmured, tucking her head under his chin and nestling into him.

They slept, after a while, the Slayer and the vampire, and only the rain outside spoke.


In her sleep, Buffy stretched, one arm snaking out to find Angel. His arms were no longer around her, and she missed them. She slid her arm across his side of the bed, but nothing was there.

The empty spot in the bed jarred her awake.

She sat up, drawing the covers up to cover her naked breasts. "Angel?" she called out.

There was no answer.

Panic rose up in her throat, nearly gagging her. "Angel," she cried out again, her voice more insistent. More desperate.

When the answer remained the same, she climbed out of the bed, reaching for her discarding clothing. Quickly, she pulled on her pants and shirt and shoes, and went looking for him in the apartment. Two minutes later, she had to accept the fact that he wasn't there.

She could hear the rain pattering against the window, the storm outside no where near as fierce as the storm raging in her brain. It couldn't be happening again. There was no way that history could be repeating itself. But what if Whistler had been wrong?

She would not survive it a second time.

Buffy ran for the door, wrenching it open and running outside to the alleyway that ran next to the apartment building. The wind whipped her hair into her face as the moisture poured down.

And then she saw him.

His back was to her, his head raised towards the heavens as the rain drenched his dark coat. Her blood froze in her veins. She opened her mouth to shout his name, but she couldn't force sound past her choked throat.

But she must have made some noise, because he whirled around. His face was somber as the water dripped off of it, and her heart clenched and tears began to stream down her face as she sobbed out his name.

And then he smiled.

A smiled that was filled with genuine warmth, concern...and love. Above all, love. There was not a hint of hardness or sarcasm in his expression.

It was Angel.

All of Buffy's terror fled as she ran into his outstretched arms. He snatched her up against his chest, watching gleefully as she laughed, the light sound ringing through the alleyway. He spun her around and around, delighting in the happiness written across her face. As he came to a halt, she opened her mouth to scold him for leaving her alone in bed, but then his lips slanted to cover hers.

And she forgot all about the scolding.