Drawings of You by Tango


E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com

DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them.

DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human. (I can't even believe I'm writing this, so please let me know what you think.)

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: I'd like to know what you think of this one.

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: PG-13 (for now anyway)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know I'm in the process of working on several different projects right now (*In A Maudlin Sort of Way* and *Slayers and Vampires and Witches, Oh My!*) but I took a break tonight to write this one. I just have to go where the muse takes me. (Also, for those of you who have sent me other challenges recently I SWEAR I haven't forgotten!) I'll pick my other fics up soon - probably.


//one day i'll construct a satellite and i'll name if after you//

Angel strolled through the gallery showing. It was all his art and he puffed up with pride. He had worked all of his life to get here, to have a showing of his work and his work alone. Now here he was, milling through a large crowd of people who were admiring his work. Two pieces had already sold for enough money to keep him in canvases and paint for the six months. He was sure this was the best day of his life until he saw her and stood there struck dumb for a moment.

His mouth went dry and he picked up a glass of wine from a passing waiter, surprising the man when his hand sprung out to rescue the drink. He slammed back the dry wine and wished it was whiskey or water - hell, never mind because she was turning around and walking, pointing at various works with her friends in tow. He searched her hands for rings and found one. As she turned the corner, he tried to remember which hand she pointed with, the one with the ring. Was that the right or the left?

He hurried to follow her, setting his glass on a stand next to a nude statue he had done and received a dirty look from someone who didn't realize he was the artist. He stopped at the door to take her in once more. She was staring at a rather detailed nude he had done of Darla two years ago. He flushed with embarrassment as he looked over his own art. Nearly all of it was erotic and sensual in some way. If not blatantly sexual, it all had the slope of desire. It never seemed to matter before but he saw her looking at it with a flush to her innocent looking face, he wanted to cover it all up. He wasn't ashamed of his art, but that she now knew that he had seen a great many women naked, most of them ending up in his bed, which he was sure she realized.

He wanted to go over there and tell her that he would burn them all if she would forget she saw them. In the next breath, he wanted to ask her to be his next model. He stood in confusion, lost in her beauty. Her hair was so golden with an interesting contrast of light and dark. He wondered if he had the paint that would capture it correctly. The profile of her face was soft, yet defined and he was sure even his most delicate shading pencil would not get it right.

He edged over, preparing to eavesdrop when her dark haired friend, turned and flashed him a brilliant smile, "You must be Angel!"

"Yes," he flustered, nodding, sneaking another glance at the blonde. What color were her eyes, for the love of God? Were they hazel? Green? Jesus, he could spend hours mixing paint to create that hue.

"You don't have a last name?" the red headed girl asked, smiling nervously.

"Not really," he answered. Growing up as an orphan, he never knew his last name. He didn't even have an official first name. The lady at the orphanage always called him "her angel" and it kinda stuck. He had been adopted several times and passed along from foster home to foster home, but it never worked out. He was too much of a wild child to remain in one place for long. His driver's license had a last name on it, as did his birth certificate and social security card. They were all different.

"How very *Madonna* of you," the dark haired girl said, still smiling. He thought her face might crack if she didn't rest soon.

"You're very talented," the blonde said. The goddess finally spoke and it was like melting caramel. Her voice changed everything. The picture went askew from the moving of her lips, the lightness in her eyes.

"Thank you, um..." he said, fishing for a name.

"Buffy," she answered, "Buffy Summers, cause, I...uh...I do have a last name."

"Cordelia," the dark haired girl threw in, touching his arm.

"This is Willow," Buffy said, gesturing to her friend and smiling warmly at her.

"So, what do you ladies do for a living?" Angel said, unsure of how to act. Should he put on the usual charm and reel her in? It always worked before, but he didn't want to come on too strong. She seemed like the type who would never give a guy like him the time of day. Too smart. He knew he could have the brunette in his bed by the end of the night if he wanted to but that's not what he wanted.

"I actually run a gallery," Buffy answered smiling sheepishly.

"Really?" he said, smiling broadly. It was fate. He knew it. "Which one?"

"It's small," she said, speaking over her friend's huff of irritation. The brunette obviously did not like competition.

"You probably get tired of being around artsy people all the time, Angel. I, on the other hand, am a model. Whole different ball of wax."

"Yes, you're right," he said, nodding graciously. He knew there was a reason he didn't like her even though she was striking. She was a model. He hated those whiney bitches, always interested in themselves.

"What do you do?" he asked Willow, the shy one. He didn't want Buffy to think he was leaving her friend out of the conversation, especially since she seemed partial to the red head. They must be closer friends.

"I work at the hospital," Willow answered.

"She's a surgeon," Buffy beamed proudly, "She's the best on the staff."

"Yeah, we're all so very proud of her," Cordelia moaned. She hated it when Willow stole her thunder by being cute *and* smart.

"We are!" Buffy announced and leaned in to Angel with a twinkle in her eye, "You should know you have a genius in your midst."

"I'm honored," Angel answered, sweeping in an exaggerated bow that made the blonde goddess giggle lightly. He tried not to look at her body, tried to keep his eyes on her face, but the little black cocktail dress she was wearing was like an invitation to drool. He forced himself not to notice the curve of her hips, the shapely legs appearing beneath the hem, the tiny bit of cleavage showing...for very long, anyway.

"Of course, you're a genius too," Buffy said, looking up at the picture in front of her. It was a landscape. One of the only ones he had done but it seemed to sing of love and had a touching air to it that she couldn't place, "This one is fantastic."

"Thank you," Angel said, blushing slightly, "It's Ireland. That's where I was born but was shipped to America shortly after."

"Shipped?" Cordy asked quizzically, "What were you? Cargo?"

"Pretty much," he said, shrugging, "My mother boarded the ship with me to America and got off without me. I was sent to an orphanage. I never found out who she was, only where she was from."

"I'm sorry, that's horrible," Buffy said, feeling the urge to give him a hug and keep holding on to his broad frame until he had to call the police to pry her off. He was beautiful and his deep brown eyes were more vivid than his paintings.

"Well, anyway, I hope you enjoy the show," Angel said, wanting to pay someone to beat him senseless for telling her his sob childhood story. *What a fucking idiot.*

"Angel," Cordelia said, touching his arm again, her blood red claws contrasting nicely with his black silk shirt. She handed him a card with her home address and phone number written on the back. She always had one prepared just in case, "We're having a party next Friday. I hope you can make it."

"We?" Angel asked, glancing at Buffy again.

"House warming," Buffy added, "Cordy just bought a new house to celebrate her modeling career."

"Oh," he said nodding, "Will you be there?"

"Y-yes," Buffy answered.

"Then so will I," he said, turning again and hurrying away. He grabbed another glass of wine and leaned against the wall next to one of his paintings, drinking the cool liquid slowly.

*Will you be there?* *Yes.* *Then so will I.*

Well, he couldn't feel more like a dolt if he tried on purpose. That little conversation was the equivalent of Jennifer Gray's famous line, "I carried a watermelon," in *Dirty Dancing.*

"They were cute," Spike said, leaning next to him against the wall.

"I thought you weren't coming," Angel said to his friend, feeling jealousy rear up in him. As long as Spike didn't go after the blonde he wouldn't have to kill him.

"Yeah, well," he said, "I decided to stop by and scan the girls that showed up to fawn over your blobs of paint."

"Thanks for your support," Angel said dryly, trying not too look at Spike because he was trying to savor the picture of her in his mind. If he memorized her face, he could paint her tonight...and tomorrow...and the next day.

"The blonde is-"

"Not your type," Angel added, breaking into his friend's sentence.

"Ah, Peaches," Spike said, with a knowing smile, "I think you're smitten with the chit."

"Don't be stupid," Angel said, breathing evenly, "She's just...too innocent for your...for you."

"If you don't like her then it's okay if I try her out," Spike said, pulling away from the wall he was leaning on, "You know, take her for a little test drive."

"We're friends this year," Angel asked, referring to their rocky past, "Don't ruin it now."

"I thought you didn't like her."

"I lied," Angel said, moving away to mingle with his guests, "Stay away from her."

"Don't worry," Spike said, cocking his head to the side as the three moved away. A trio of tight asses to choose from on those three, he didn't need the blonde. Not yet, anyway.


//i feel fine enough, i guess considering everything's a mess//

"He's mine," Cordelia noted as she watched him walk away, "With an body like that, he needs to be with me."

"You have a boyfriend," Buffy protested. She didn't know how she spent all of her life kissing other men when the man of her dreams was across the room, talking to an attractive blonde man. She wanted go over there and give him *her* card. Of course she wasn't a man hunter like Cordy, so she didn't bring any in her tiny "going out" purse. Even if she had, they wouldn't have her home telephone number on the back of them.

"So do you," Cordy countered.

"I don't," Willow complained.

"Well, you certainly can't have him!" Cordelia announced.

"Shut up, Cordy," Buffy said, quieting her friend and then looking at Willow with pleading in her eyes. *Please don't say you want him.* Willow smiled back. She didn't want him. Only because she had never seen that look of longing in her friend's eyes before. She certainly never looked at Riley like that. Not that he deserved it or anything.

"Ready to go?" Will asked with a yawn.

"Yes," Buffy said, glancing over at the picture of Ireland one last time. She would love to take that one home but she knew better than to ask what it cost. She had run her late mother's gallery for too long to be naive about art prices.


//it's so strange, i can't believe it//

"Dru," Angel panted, running through the gallery to find the owner when he saw that Buffy and her friends had left. One minute he had been talking to some people, selling a piece and the next thing he knew they were gone. He couldn't believe he let her out of there before asking the name of her gallery. If that brunette hadn't interrupted then he would have and then...

...and then he would be in the same state of disarray he was right now - lusting after a little blonde girl he had talked to for three minutes.

"Yes, love?" she answered, sauntering over in her tasteful maroon dress with a smile, "Darling, the show is an absolute success. You're famous."

"I need you to take that painting of Ireland off the wall. I'm not selling it," Angel said.

"Of course, honey," Drusilla answered, "But you realize that there have been several people asking about it. It might sell any minute."

"Tell them they're too late," Angel said quickly, "I need it now."

"Of course," she said, waving one of her gallery stoodges over and giving him instructions. Angel didn't breath until he saw the canvas taken down. That was the one that she liked. He couldn't sell it someone else.

"By the way," Angel asked, suddenly trying to revert to his normal cool demeanor, "You didn't happen to have a guest book did you? A mailing list? Anything?"

"We don't do that here," she said, raising her chin snottily.

"Okay then," Angel said, looking at the floor for a second, "What about gallery owners? You sent invitations, right?"

"Of course."

"I need to see it, please," Angel asked.

"Now?" she asked in surprise, "During your showing?"

"It'll only take a minute," he said, following her shapely form to the office. He knew it was stupid to leave his own showing to look up the address of a woman he had just met, but he had to know how to find her.

In the back office, he scanned the list once, twice, three times and each time it proved useless. What the hell kind of invitation didn't have the owners names on them? All they had were the names of the galleries and the addresses. He headed back out and began to mingle again. He stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out the business card. Whatever happened between now and Friday, one thing was for certain - he was going to be at that party.


Part Two - "The Party Life"

By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human. (I can't even believe I'm writing this, so please let me know what you think.)

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: Thank you for all the wonderful feedback. Please keep this fic coming strong by letting me know what you think of it!

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: PG-13 (for now anyway)


//it's like a dream you try to remember but it's gone//

Angel went home that night by himself for the first time in…

…well, it should suffice to say that he normally did not sleep alone. When he woke up the previous morning, his mind was filled with visions of beautiful women decorating his arm and flashes of dollar signs from his inevitable success. Upon entering the art gallery that evening, he had already spotted two or three prospective women to take home, one of them being the gallery owner, Drusilla. Although, she was slightly on the eccentric side (as all crazy rich people were called), she was rumored to have certain "talents." Just looking at her sashaying around in that tight maroon dress made her rise to the top of his list.

That was all before he saw Buffy, of course. Because of one small conversation with the petite blonde, he ended up going to his apartment alone. He spent the evening trying to recreate her in pencil sketches, charcoal *and* pastels before he settled in front of the easel and began to paint.

When the sun rose the following morning, he was still trying to capture her and failing. His small living room/art studio was scattered at botched attempts to make her look radiant and true to life. He leaned back and yawned into the sunrise. Standing, he crossed the room and poured himself another cup of coffee and then stood at the wall of windows and stared out the pink and orange streaked sky.

Deciding to distract himself, he started a new painting of the sunrise outside of his window. He flourished in the change of subject matter and found inspiration in the whirls of colors, challenging himself to make it as authentic as he could. Soon he found himself painting in the bare windows themselves, giving the viewer the same thing he was seeing - the harsh reality of being trapped inside a room when all of the beauty was outside.

An hour later, he leaned back in his chair and surveyed what he had done. So deep in concentration, he hadn't even noticed that in the very corner of the painting, near the edge of the window he had painted the perfect reflection of Buffy Summers.

He gasped, dropping the brush onto the drop cloth at his feet and stared at her. All night he had tried to make her come to life and now there she was, her pink lips curled in a tiny smile as she looked at the spectacular show before her.


//it's the perfect time of year somewhere far away from here//

It was raining and that was the perfect weather to sit at a desk and pretend to go over inventory while dreaming of a six-foot-ish godlike artist. Buffy stared at the stack of pages in front of her, comforted by the monotonous beat of rain on the window panes, trying to remind herself that she was dating Riley Finn, a man who loved her. Instead, she found herself thinking of Angel's large hands with the long slender fingers of an artist, of his broad shoulders and muscular arms. She found herself wondering what it would be like to be held in those arms...all night...naked...

"Buffy!" Anya shouted, coming to the office door and standing there with her hands on her narrow hips, eyes flashing in irritation.

"Huh?" Buffy said, jerking her eyes up to look at her employee.

"I've been calling you for ten minutes? You can't be *that* interested in inventory, besides I already went over it this morning," Anya complained.

"I know," Buffy said, standing up and straightening her shirt, "I always go over the inventory too. You know that. What do you need?"

"Do you realize that one of your stupid carrying-things boys hung a cubist painting next to an impressionist work?"


"So? You can't do that! It ruins the ambiance of the gallery, not to mention the emotions being portrayed on the canvas. It's WRONG!"

"Okay. I'll have it moved," Buffy sighed, smiling at the girl. Anya had been a life saver since she started at the gallery. When her mother died, Buffy decided to carry on in her mother's honor, but she knew very little about art when she started. What she did have was a flair for knowing what people liked and a dead on intuition about what should be categorized as "art" and what was "crap." Her talent in those areas was what had kept the gallery alive. Now that she had Anya she was able to increase the in house knowledge.

"Thank you," Anya huffed and turned back to the gallery to peer at the balance of the hanging works. There just couldn't be another mishap like this one.


//if you're flummoxed and flushed and your heartbeat is rushed//

Angel was incredibly nervous about going to the party, which is why he was standing in front of his closet wondering why he had so many damn black clothes. Shouldn't an artist be more colorful than this? The last thing he wanted was to walk into the party looking like his normal broody and morose self.

He pulled one of few pairs of blue jeans he owned out of the closet and stared at them. Tossing them aside, he looked again, thinking how ridiculous this was. She was a girl. One. He had slept with dozens of women, dated more than that. He knew how to treat women and knew how to get what he wanted. The problem was with this girl, he didn't know what he wanted. He didn't want to sleep with her. Well, of course he did, but he wanted to take her out to dinner, buy her flowers, ask her about her day and rub her feet -

- for fuck's sake, this was absurd! He cut off his train of thought and dressed quickly, choosing what he would normally wear to one of these events: a pair of black pants and a maroon silk shirt. He looked in the mirror and cursed silently at his reflection as the phone rang.


"Hi baby," a female voice drawled.

"Darla," he answered, icing his voice over immediately at the sound of hers.

"Do you have plans tonight, lover?" she asked huskily.

"Yes," he answered, "And we're not lovers anymore."

"But we could be," she said, "Are you sure you can't back out of whatever you're doing? I need an escort."

"Call Spike," Angel spat, "I'm sure he'd be glad to service you."

"Angel," she said sweetly, "There's no need to be rude."

"Yes, there is," he said, not bothering to say goodbye as he hung up the phone. He stared down at the phone and took a deep breath. Then he took several more.


//feels just like i'm falling for the first time//

Buffy had been dodging Riley all week. They had long ago reached the point in their relationship where they should have had sex, but she just couldn't imagine losing her virginity to him. He was getting that look in his eyes lately and she knew what it meant, even though she acted like she didn't. She might be a spinster for the rest of her life but she didn't care. Whenever he touched her, she didn't feel the kind of warmth she had read about. She felt like running far, far away.

"Will?" Buffy called out, peaking into Cordelia's kitchen to find Willow mixing various punches as if they were chemistry experiments.

"Hey Buff, you're here," Willow said, "Wanna help make punch? I have 4 different kinds."

"Shouldn't we start on the food?" Buffy asked, bewildered by the amount of fruity beverages in front of her.

"You're in charge of the food," Willow said over Buffy's groan, "I'm in charge of the colorful drink concoctions."

"No fair," Buffy complained, "It's a good thing that Cordy doesn't expect any cooking to be done with the food part. Casualties could ensue. People have died from my cooking before, you know."

"It's okay," Willow said, picking up the first bowl of punch to carry it to the dining room, "I won't tell Angel."




//with some gratuitous sex//

Buffy had spent the night wandering from room to room, occasionally talking to people but mostly looking for a certain hauntingly gorgeous artist. The party was in full swing with no sign of Angel when Buffy walked into the living room and saw a painting sitting on the couch in deep discussion with Cordelia. Well, she wasn't a painting, but she was in one of Angel's paintings - one of the very naked ones.

She crept over to better overhear their conversation, feeling slightly guilty for trying to eavesdrop but not too much.

"I have to know everything," Cordy demanded of the blonde.

"Well," she said, her voice dripping with an acidic sweetness that made Buffy's stomach turn, "He's a wonderful lover. If he wants to get between your thighs, I highly suggest it. The man made me feel things I didn't think were possible. But never trust him."

"He's one of those?" Cordelia asked, nearly snarling with the news.

"He's incapable of being with just one woman. ‘Monogamy' is *not* a word that he understands."

"Hey love," said a male voice and Buffy turned to see the blonde man Angel had been speaking to at the gallery. He walked up and sat down next to the woman, curling an arm around her waist, "Bad mouthing Peaches again?"

"As a rule, yes," she answered. All Buffy could see in her eyes was a cold bitterness. She felt her heart sink as she realized how much Angel have hurt her to make her that bracing. She never would have thought that about him. Suddenly, she wasn't so excited about him coming and reluctantly went to see if her boyfriend had noticed how much she had ignored him already.

"Finally something that's true," Angel said, appearing at the doorway and causing Buffy to stop in her tracks and turn around to look at him.

"Angel!" the blonde woman said, lighting up. Buffy noticed immediately that her whole demeanor had changed when she spotted him.

"Darla," he said coldly, "Hello Cordelia. Thank you for inviting me to your party. I can see that my ex here has once again sullied my name."

"That's not true," Cordy said, rising eagerly to her feet and taking Angel's arm in hers, "Let me show you where the refreshments are."

Buffy watched in disbelief as her shameless friend led Angel into the dining room to show him the vast array of beverages and edible treats. It was so typical that she would not care if he was a piece of shit, only that he was famous and good looking...and apparently the fact that he was good in bed didn't dissuade her at all.


//i could be good, and i would - if i knew i was understood//

Spike followed Angel out to the back patio of Cordelia's new home, where he stood looking out at the trees and grass.

"I heard a little rumor about you," Spike said, lighting a cigarette and blowing the smoke at his friend's back.

"Of that I have no doubt," Angel snapped, knowing that every tiny thought he had of seeing Buffy was ruined now that Darla had been filling her friend's ears with information about him.

"This one didn't come from Darla," Spike added, "Tell me if you've heard this one before."

"Here we go," Angel sighed, turning to face him.

"Nancy boy prances about town for the past ten years, give or take, shagging every chit that wanders in his path. He finally gets a taste of his own medicine and is crushed by a certain blonde bitch, we both know."


"Let me finish. He double times his efforts after the break up, rutting women left and right. Then the Poof meets a *different* blonde girl at his very first and mighty successful, might I add, art show. He goes home by himself that night for the first time in longer than I can bloody remember. Then he breaks up with all the little bints he's been screwing for the past couple of months. He refuses to see any of them and sits in his apartment doodling his new obsession."

"Do you have a point?" Angel asked, trying to keep from punching his long time friend for telling the truth.

"Yeah, I think you're in love with her," Spike said, "I think you've jumped off the damn deep end."

"*I think* you should mind your own fucking business," Angel ordered furiously.

"Really? Then I guess you don't want to know what Darla said about you and how much of that your sweet and innocent girl heard of it."

"What did she say?" he demanded, his voice nearly a growl.

"Are you in love with her?" Spike asked, his eyes glittering.

"What did she say, Spike?"

"I want to hear you admit you're in love. I want to be the first to witness the crumbling of the great womanizer. Admit it and I'll tell you. You love her?"

"I DON'T KNOW!" Angel shouted, grabbing Spike by the lapels of his leather duster and shaking him roughly. He pushed him away and watched as his friend stumbled back, laughing. He heaved breaths and continued, "I can't stop thinking about her. I don't even know her. The only thing I do know is that I don't want anyone else. Not anymore."

"Wow," Spike said, flicking his butt out into the lawn and watched it smolder on the grass for a moment, "I'll have to mark this down as the best conversation we've ever had."

"Screw you," Angel said, "Tell me what she said."

"Oh that," Spike said, "You already know. Same bloody thing she's told every woman she's come across for a long time. Good in bed. Can't be trusted."

"You're a jackass."

"Stating the obvious for fun?" Spike said with a grin as he went inside, "By the way, since you're little ex has efficiently set you back in the race, I don't suppose you'd mind a little healthy competition would you?"

"This isn't a race," Angel said, turning deadly eyes on his longtime friend-enemy, "This is a beautiful young woman who does not need any pain in her life. If I find out you've hurt her in any way, if you shake her hand too hard, if you look at her too harshly, I'm going to kill you with my bare hands."

"Aw Peaches," Spike said as he strolled back into the house.




Part Three - "The Next Show"


By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human. (I can't even believe I'm writing this, so please let me know what you think.)

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: Thank you for all the wonderful feedback. Please keep this fic coming strong by letting me know what you think of it!

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: PG-13 (for now anyway)


//then you try to scream but it only comes out as a yawn//

Angel stood on the patio and looked through the windows at the party going on inside. He felt as if he shouldn't go back in, that he should stay out in the dark as the outcast. It would be so simple, though, to walk back in and find the beautiful blonde who had turned his world upside down and seduce her. As much as he wanted to change, he couldn't help thinking about seducing her. Almost constantly, in fact. The only difference was that usually he was thinking about screwing some random girl and now, he only thought about making love to one.

He caught sight of her moving toward the door and he backed into the shadows automatically. She was followed by her boyfriend, who was tall and blonde as well. They both looked so decent, honest and wholesome together. The boyfriend was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, as if he had just gotten home from a day in the fields. She was wearing a cotton dress that hung loosely over her body but couldn't manage to disguise the graceful curve of her hips or the rise of her breasts. Her skin was so smooth and flawless that Angel dreamed of touching it. He wondered how soft it would feel beneath his fingertips.

"This isn't the time, Riley," Buffy said, as she stepped out in the cool evening air and crossed her arms over her chest. Angel watched in fascination as little goosebumps rose on her arms, raising the tiny golden hairs there.

"I don't understand why you're getting so upset," he answered, touching her bare shoulder with his hand. Angel prickled in the darkness as he watched him touch her. The touch was familiar. She was used to his hands on her and Angel couldn't help feeling jealous. It was almost as if his emotions didn't understand that he had no claim whatsoever on the girl.

"I'm not ready for this kind of commitment," she said, stepping away and turning around to face Riley. Angel suspected she only turned around to face him so that he wasn't touching her any longer. He couldn't be certain, he just wished he was.

"We've been dating for six months," Riley said, "Isn't that a commitment?"

"Yes," Buffy said, "I guess so. I don't know."

"I know you don't love me," Riley said and the shamed look in his girlfriend's eyes confirmed the truth. She didn't answer right away, but she shifted her weight from one foot to another, looking off in the distance instead. She didn't need to answer. Riley knew and so did Angel. Even from far away he could see that she didn't love him. Or maybe it was wishful thinking, "But I do love you, Buffy."

"It's not that I don't love you, Riley," she answered.

"But you don't love me," Riley protested, "I've done everything I can to make you happy and nothing works. I don't understand why this is so difficult."

"I'm sorry I'm so difficult," Buffy snapped, narrowing her eyes in anger, "If I'm that much of a pain in the ass, why don't you just forget about me?"

"I'm sorry," Riley said, sounding as though he were nearly gushing to Angel. Although Angel thought he would be doing much the same thing in the boy's situation, "That's not what I meant. I want to be with you. I just don't understand why you don't want to be with me."

"I don't know," Buffy said, biting her lower lip, "I'm just not ready for this."

"Are you breaking up with me?" he asked. He sounded wounded. For such a large man, she made him look awfully small.

"I don't know," she repeated, "I just need some time."

"Time," he echoed. The word was small and cracked.


//she's burning for you//

"How are things with Riley?" Willow asked a month later over lunch. The pair were sitting in a restaurant on the outside patio. It was a bit too windy to be comfortable but they both decided to deal with it anyway. It just seemed like a waste of sunshine to sit inside.

"The same," she said, pushing her food around her plate with her fork, as if she thought the rearrangement would convince Willow she had eaten something.

"And you still haven't broken up with him?" Willow asked, leaning in confidentially, "Or slept with him?"

"That's the problem," Buffy said, "Kissing him is like I imagine kissing Xander would be like, like kissing a good friend or a brother. There's no *there* there, if you know what I mean."

"That's not what I thought about kissing Xander," Willow said, smiling brightly in spite of herself.

"Speaking of Xander," Buffy said, grateful for the change in subject, "When does he come to town next?"

"Thirteen days," Willow answered, inspecting her plate closely to hide the look of excitement from her friend.

"I see," Buffy said, nodding wisely, "We're counting again. Should I get out the chart so we can compare his blood pressure from last time?"

"Very funny," Willow said as wryly as Willow could be.

"Seriously though," Buffy said, "Will there be sparkage?"

"I hope so," Willow sighed, "I've only waited approximately my whole life. He seems to be...eager to see me."

"That's a good."

"Oh yeah," Willow answered, "Speaking of sparkage, guess who *already* has another art show?"

Buffy groaned and fought the urge to pound her head on the table. She had gone almost a whole day without thinking about Angel. It was really absurd at this point to be thinking about a man whom she had met once and seen twice. And yet, the chemistry that had been missing with Riley came back in spades with Angel.

"When?" Buffy asked weakly.

"Next month," Willow said, "Guess where?"

"Where?" Buffy asked.

"Your gallery."


"Anya set up it," Willow said, "She said she told you."

"She said she wanted to use the gallery for a showing of her friend's work next month and I said that was fine. And you knew damn well I had no idea or you wouldn't be so smug over there."

"Yeah," Willow said, grinning ear to ear, "The *friend* is Angel. Or actually a friend of a friend. Apparently, our little Anya has been dating his friend, Spike, for the last couple of weeks."

"The blonde English guy?"

"The same."

"Oh God."


//i'm so sane, it's driving me crazy//

It was Friday night and Angel decided he was going to the bar to have a drink. He had been celibate and liquor free for so damn long, he was going to join seminary school if he wasn't careful. He strolled into the bar that Spike owned and sat down at the bar, perching on a vacant barstool.

"Angel!" the bartender said with a smile, "Long time, no see, buddy. Want the usual?"

"Hey Doyle," he said, "Yeah, the usual would be great."

"I heard you have another art show coming up," he said, sliding a tall chilled glass of Irish stout down the bar, which Angel caught, lifted and took a swig of in one smooth movement.

"Yes he does," Spike said, taking over the stool next to Angel, "Doyle, I'd like one of the same."

"Sure thing," Doyle said, sliding another down the bar at his boss a second or two later, "Hey, did you break the happy news to him yet?"

"What happy news?" Angel asked, looking over at Spike's evil grin suspiciously.

"Well, remember when I told you that I'd set up the location of your new showing?"

"Yeah," Angel said hesitantly.

"I made all nice like with your little chit's employee, Anya."

"What are you saying *exactly*?"

"The little gallery hosting your work is Fluffy's."


"Whatever mate."

"Wait a second," Angel said, swiveling in his stool to look directly at his friend, "Are you telling me that it's at *her* gallery. The one she owns? As in, she's going to be there?"

"Yep," Spike said nodding, "Now tell me what a great friend I am. I mean, I sacrificed all this energy for your love life."

"Are you out of your fucking mind?" Angel shouted, gaining the attention of most of the room in the process, "Most of the goddamn paintings have her in them!"

"I know."

"If it's her gallery, then she'll see them and think I'm a fucking psychopath."

"I know," Spike said, adding a laugh to his maniacal grin before taking another sip of the bitter stout in front of him, "Great, isn't it?"

"What the hell am I going to do?" Angel asked, leaning over the bar with his head in his hands, "She'll see the paintings and she'll hate me. She'll...oh God."

"Yeah," Spike said, obviously enjoying the hell out of himself, "Guess you'd better paint something else in the next couple of weeks. Maybe if you have another bint on the canvas here and there she won't notice so much."

"You are such a shit."

"For what? Enjoying life? Get a grip, Nancy boy. The fun's just beginning," Spike said. He swallowed the rest of his beer and slammed the glass on the bar, top down, splashing a bit of the dark liquid on the glossy surface.


//now i've landed in this awkward situation//

"Anya," Buffy said, the next morning as she stormed into the little gallery. Thankfully there were no patrons present to overhear the briskness of her tone.

"What's the matter?" Anya said, looking up from the photos in front of her.

"Why didn't you tell me who the artist was for the art showing next month?"

"It's Angel," Anya said matter of factly, "I didn't tell you because you didn't ask. You said you trusted my judgement. What's wrong? You don't like his work? I know it's a bit sensual now and then, but he really has wonderful technique."

"I know that," Buffy said, trying to cover the harshness of her tone, "He does wonderful work."

"Then why are you angry about it?"

"I'm not angry," she shouted, almost hysterically, "Why would I be angry?"

"Are you nervous then?" Anya asked, "There's no need to be. He's only just become famous. He won't be any bother. From what I understand he's very nice."

"I thought you said he was your friend."

"A friend of a friend," Anya said, "Actually, I've been copulating with his best friend. He said he's met you. His name is Spike."

"I've met them both," Buffy said. She had walked into the gallery and was hoping to find some reason to make this not happen. She just couldn't have that heart-breaking, knee melting, soul crunching devil in her gallery. It was too much to handle. And now she couldn't think of one excuse to say no.

"So you've met Angel?" Anya said, "He was supposed to be at Cordelia's party. Actually that's where I met Spike, but I never saw Angel there. Is he as gorgeous as they say he is?"

"More," Buffy groaned, resting her head on the counter, "Much, much more...dammit."

"Oh, I see," Anya said, smiling knowingly at her boss.

"See? See what?"

"You've got a crush on him."

"Don't be silly, Anya," Buffy chided, "We aren't in high school anymore, you know."

"What's that have to do with crushes?" Anya asked seriously, "You can have a crush if you're 16 or 160 and I know you have a crush on that man."

"Why would I possibly have a crush on a horrible womanizer like him?" Buffy demanded.

"There's a reason he's so good at being a womanizer you know."


//there's an overwhelming stench of alibi... come on now, now, come on now, now enjoy the humor of the situation//

Angel laid all of his most recent paintings out, displaying them around his apartment. He looked from painting to painting, from image to image, thinking how beautiful they looked yesterday. Today they looked pathetic and crazy and stalker-like. There were a couple that were so abstract that they could be passed off as not being inspired by Buffy, but they were few and far between.

He wasn't even sure how it happened exactly, how so many of them came to be. He just was trying to get it right, to capture not only her outer beauty but her inner light as well. Even as he thought about it, he realized it was stupid. Inner light. What the hell was that anyway? But she had it. She had a lightness about her, a breezy air in her voice and in her step that made his other lovers seem static, flat and stale. He had been with all those women who were beautiful, of course, but they all seemed fake. Buffy didn't have that falseness about her. She seemed more real somehow, more...everything.

Now he had to figure out how to go back to painting things that were less than everything. He had to reinvent himself yet again. He wandered around the apartment and looked at each dab of paint and each stroke of his brush. There had to be a way to make this right, even though it didn't really seem all that wrong to begin with.



Part Four "Moment of Truth"

By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course! FEEDBACK: Thank you for the feedback you've all sent me. Please let me know if you would like me to continue this fic.

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: PG-13 (for now anyway)


//and you...you're the last thing on my mind. you're the last thing on my mind. you're the last thing on my mind. you're the last thing on my...//

Angel was more nervous than he had ever been in his life. Nervous wasn't really even the right word. Maybe it would be better to say terrified or maybe entrail extracting horror would be closer. He had an hour before it was time to go the gallery and he was slumped in his arm chair looking at the picture he had hung on his wall - Buffy's painting of Ireland. Funny how it kinda became her painting. Before it always reminded him of home and now it reminded him of her.

The past month had been spent mulling over whether he had the right to sell any of the pieces that contained her image. All of his previous models were aware that they were being painted and realized that he would eventually sell the painting. Buffy didn't even know she was a model. He knew there was some rule that was being broken here and was certain that once she recognized herself in any of the paintings it would be over. The mere dislike she must hold for him already would nudge its way to full blown hatred. He sighed as he headed for the shower. There was nothing he could do about it now. All the paintings were already hanging in the gallery, ready for the show. He was fairly certain Buffy had already seen them.

There were only a couple of paintings in the show that were *definitely* her. Most of them were abstracts of a blonde woman who could be someone else. He threw in a couple of other paintings he had done to mix it up, but he could already see the anger on her face. He could already hear Spike laughing at his folly.


//your brain stops ticking//

Buffy walked slowly through her gallery, looking over Angel's paintings before the show started. She hadn't hosted very many of these and she was already nervous about that without the whole crush on the artist situation coming into play. She paused before each of his pieces and looked over them intently. She couldn't help but feel like they were speaking to her. Not just as art usually spoke in its dainty way, but these spoke directly to *her*.

She brushed off the feeling as she continued to wander around her gallery, thankful that Anya had run off to get a few last minute things. She had the whole building to herself and felt enveloped in him, not just his paintings. Many of them contained an unrecognizable blonde woman and she found herself envying the woman who had caught his eye. She was usually looking away or given in a side profile and although she was never nude, she seemed to exude an innocent sexuality that made her blush.

The last painting was a sunset given through a wall of windows. It was the most beautiful of all them and captured sunrise, almost personifying it. The colors blended into one another, raining want and need on the canvas. In the lower corner, the blonde woman stood looking out of the windows at the display. Her face was reflected in the glass and Buffy leaned in to study the girl's face. Her hand flew to her mouth as she recognized her own smiling lips, her own hazel eyes studying a view she had never seen.


//dropped your arms to the sides and said, ‘i'm sorry.'//

Angel held his breath as he crossed the room. He knew what painting Buffy was staring at before he even looked up. It was the one he felt he had to put in the gallery. It only seemed right that the first real painting he had done correctly with her in it be in this show. He stood behind her for a moment as she stood there, poised before the painting as if she was about to run away and her hand was covering her beautiful mouth in shock.

"Hi," he said quietly, causing her to jump in surprise and turn around to face him. He saw tears in her eyes and he wanted to beg her forgiveness, ask her for one moment of her life to allow him to explain. Only he didn't think he could.

"Hi," she answered. She looked over him, standing there in tight leather pants and a white button down shirt. It would be helpful if he didn't look so perfectly munchable right then.

"You're upset," he said, nodding at the painting. He looked away from her and up at the painting trying to see its faults but this one, unlike any of his others, didn't seem to have any. He always could fine his flaws in his work. He always knew later what he should have done differently. For this one painting, he saw it as complete.

"No," she said, shaking her head and speaking slowly as if she didn't trust her voice, "It's beautiful. I just..."

"You just what?" he asked, after a moment of silence had passed between them.

"I just don't understand why you painted me."

"I like you," he said, searching his mind for a better statement and coming up empty. Finally, he just decided to spill it. If she broke his heart, hopefully she would do it quickly and release him from this prison of emotions he had been trapped in, "I wanted to capture your beauty on the canvas. I hope you're not upset that I didn't ask your permission first."

"No, I'm not," she said, glancing back at the painting and then at the gorgeous man before her, humbling himself for reasons she really didn't understand, "My beauty?"

"Yes," he said, reaching out involuntarily and touching her cheek, "You're beautiful."

"Buffy!" Anya's voice rang out as she tromped in the gallery door with her arms loaded with a box of miscellaneous last minute items.

"I'm here," Buffy said, walking over to help her employee with the box. Angel crossed the room, his long strides allowing him to make it there sooner. He took the box from the girl and she looked up at him in surprise.

"Thank you," Anya said, "That thing is really heavy."

She watched as Angel effortlessly lifted the box and set it on the counter. Anya smiled appreciatively over his firm body and added, "Although not to you. I'm Anya."

"Angel," he said, introducing himself and holding out his hand to her, "Spike told me about you."

"Spike told me about you," she echoed, "He's an asshole."

"Yes," Angel said, laughing, "He is that."

"But he's a sex machine."

"Anya!" Buffy said, in shock.

"What? He is. Did I say something wrong?"

"I'll just take your word for it," he said good-naturedly. Anya and Buffy began setting up the tables as the caterers and waiters arrived. Anya ordered them around with ease and Angel found her amusing. Equally entertaining was Buffy's flustered apologies for her employee's curtness and bossiness. Anya even ordered Angel to help her move things around and he found himself happily obliging if only to have something to do other than wait for Buffy to remember that she hated him.

As much as Buffy wanted to remember, she couldn't seem to. Every time she passed the painting that she already thought of as hers, she saw that smile on her face. She didn't think she had ever had that sort of happiness before, even though it was definitely her lips, her eyes, her face. The blissful reflection captured a moment she had never had and emotions she had never felt.


//make me think the wrong thing//

Buffy watched as Angel worked the room, speaking to people and laughing occasionally while keeping that stoic beauty and mystery. He seemed shrouded by it and it was intriguing. Buffy didn't even notice Spike strutting across the room to her, even though he was almost in her direct line of vision, until he spoke.

"Hey there cutie," he said, leaning against the wall beside her.

"Hello," she said, "Are you...um...enjoying the show?"

"Not really," he said honestly, "I think these things are boring as hell, but I came to support my friend."

"You've known Angel for a long time?"

"Seems like forever," he said. He had a way about him that always made Buffy think he was bored. It was as if he was always looking for a thrill but never really found it.

"Oh," she said. She began to wonder if he was an orphan too but decided it was probably not appropriate to ask.

"You know they're all of you," Spike said, waving his hand around the room, which happened to be holding a glass of wine.

"N-no," she said. She hadn't had time to think about the reoccurring blonde in all of the paintings. Had she had time to think about it, she probably would have talked herself out of the idea, but now that Spike was pointing it out, she wasn't sure what to think.

"They are," he said, "Don't you see yourself in them?"

"They can't be."

"You should see the ones he decided to keep out of the show. He thought maybe they were, what's the word? Inappropriate," Spike said, smiling. He hoped the obsessiveness and stalker-like quality would chase her away. Or at least send her running into his own arms.

"What do you mean?" Buffy said, "There's more of me?"

"Oh yeah," the blonde Englishman said, "There's a lot more."

"He'd give his right arm to get between your dimpled knees, pet," Spike added, leaning in so his breath scraped her ears.

"Are you saying that this is his way of trying to get in my pants?" Buffy said, moving away slightly, "Please. Why should I believe you? Seems like overkill, don't you think?"

"Don't know," Spike shrugged, "That depends."

"On what?"

"On if it's working," Spike whispered, "Not many women would refuse him. I'm just wagering on how long it will take him to get...inside you."

"Anya's right," Buffy said with a sneer, "You are an asshole."

"Sure I am, honey," he said as he walked away, "Doesn't change the truth though."

Buffy watched as Spike strolled away, sipping his wine with a smile playing on his lips. He found Anya talking to a customer and he kissed the nape of her neck before wrapping his arm around her trim waist. Buffy shuddered as she watched him pull her into his side, his hand moving over her abdomen in an overly intimate way. Just the small stroke seemed obscene to her all of a sudden.

She crossed the room and retrieved a glass of wine, gulping down half of it before making her rounds, greeting visitors and helping them to admire the artist's work. She felt eyes on her. Not just Angel's but other people's, as if they all knew she was the woman in the paintings. She blushed furiously as she studied the canvases, lost in her own confusion. None of it made sense. She nursed glass after glass of wine, chatting with a person here and there, but mostly she just stared at the swirls of paint, at the colors blending into one another until they no longer formed images, until they were just hues.

"Buffy," Willow said, coming up behind her breathless and giggling from too much wine. Xander stood next to her, looking happy and flushed with alcohol as well.

"Hi Will," she answered, sipping on her third glass of wine. She could already feel the alcohol reaching her head. With her slight frame and the fact that she rarely drank, it wasn't hard to tell that it wouldn't take much to inebriate her, "Xander! I didn't even know you were here."

"We got here about a half hour ago but you didn't notice," Willow whispered, "Mostly due to the fact that you've been staring at yourself all night."

"Yeah, Buff," Xander said, pulling her into a hug and then keeping his arm over her bare shoulders, "You seem to be the belle of the ball."

"Who do you mean?" Buffy said, shifting her eyes from Xander to Willow and back again.

"Angel's been staring at you," Willow said, "And you've been staring at his paintings of you."

"Guy's got it bad," Xander said, smiling and nodding his head briefly at the artist, who was frowning at him. Xander could almost feel the jealousy radiating off him, "Look, he thinks I'm putting the moves on you."

"Xander," Buffy said, not really having a rest of a sentence to go with that. Instead she downed the rest of her glass.

"And look," Willow said, steering her friend's gaze to the corner where Cordelia and Darla were huddled together speaking in hushed and angry tones, "They're jealous too. The show's success is partially due to all the scandal here."

"Scandal?" Buffy said, a shade too loudly. She lowered her tone and set her glass on table beside her, "Don't you think you're making this into more than it really is?"

"Buffy," Xander said, looking down at his longtime friend, "I think you should check out the library's stalker manual because that guy is seriously freaky over you."


//one day this embarrassment will fade behind me and that day i could think of things that won't remind me but these days it's unbearable for both of us//

Angel was fairly certain that every woman he had ever slept with, dated, kissed or talked to showed up at the gallery. He was flanked with ex-lovers and the only one he wanted was the unreachable girl across the room, currently in the arms of some dark haired guy he had never seen. He tried not to look over there but he was not the boyfriend she had before. She seemed comfortable there, tucked into his side, swaying slightly from drinking too much.

He liked the way her skin seemed to flush from the wine and the little smile that almost crossed her lips when she spoke. Barely an hour into the showing, he felt crushed by the weight of what he had done and now that it was nearing to the end, he was sure he was sinking into the floor. Everyone there quickly figured out that the gallery owner was also the model. He wanted to scream in rage that everyone kept looking at her. He felt as if he had cheapened her somehow, as if his obsession had marred her in a way that couldn't be erased. They all thought he had slept with her. He heard whispers about them keeping away from each other during the show for appearance sake and he growled under his breath. It took all of his willpower not to storm from the building and leave his paintings there, hanging alone without his support. The only thing that kept him there was Buffy.

"Angel," a male voice said and he turned to face the dark haired man that had just been holding Buffy. He braced himself for the inevitable confrontation but the man held out his hand, "I'm Xander."

"Nice to meet you," Angel lied, accepting the offered hand and shaking it firmly. He wanted to shake it more firmly. He wanted to break every one of the fingers that had touched her, followed by the arm that had been draped over her narrow shoulders. He forced the frown from his face even though he couldn't manage a smile.

"Yeah," Xander snorted, "Look, we both know that's a big lie."

"Okay," Angel said, nodding as he crossed his arms, "Guess it's time to be honest. I know you're not here to chat about paint, so what do you want?"

"I want to talk about Buffy," Xander said, knowing his answer was not surprising, "She means a lot to me. I don't want to see her hurt."

"Neither do I."

"Your reputation proceeds ya, buddy."

"Buffy can make her own decisions," Angel said, feeling testosterone overloading his brain. What if he just hit him? Just once.

"Whatever," Xander said, "I just wanted to let you know that I'm back in town after being gone for awhile. I'm going to be staying and I'm going to protect my friend."

"Friend?" Angel echoed, thanking God that word was used without the "girl" prefix at the beginning.

"She's not my girlfriend," Xander said, answering his unasked question, "But maybe it would be better if you pretended she was."

"You're in love with her," Angel said, sizing up the mannish boy speaking to him.

"Aren't you?" Xander said. A weighted pause in the conversation was hovering over them until Buffy stepped between them, filling the small space.

"Xander," she said, touching his arm. She could have been touching Angel's arm the way the gentle gesture sent chills down his spine. Xander looked down at her, losing most of the protectiveness in his eyes.

"I'm just talking to him," Xander protested.

"I beg you not to help me," she said with a sarcastic edge to her already slurred voice.

"Fine, but-"


"Fine," he said, backing away, "I was just trying to help."

"I know," she said, nodding. She watched Xander walk away and since she hadn't moved and neither had Angel, his breath was almost caressing her neck from the small space between them. She turned after a moment, taking a deep breath as she pivoted and faced him. The crowd was beginning to thin and most of the pieces had sold for outrageous prices. She couldn't help but feel proud, for him and for her gallery, that the event had been so successful.

"I want to see them," she said quietly, meeting his piercing gaze and melting under it. She stood up a bit straighter in an attempt to add strength to her words, but she seemed small next to him, dwindling underneath his large shadow.


"The other paintings," she said, "If there are more of me, I want to see them."

"Spike," he muttered under his breath, but loud enough for her to hear.

"I think I have a right," she said, taking another sip of the golden courage in her wine glass, "Don't you?"

"Yes," he said, nodding slowly, "Just tell me when."

"Tonight," she said, "When the show ends."



Part Five "Old Friends"


By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course! FEEDBACK: Thank you for the yummy feedback. Please send more for this part, cause it makes me wanna write faster. *G*

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

*****RATING: NC-17 for VIOLENCE.*****


//go home there's nothing better than affairs of the heart to make you feel so good then tear you apart//

By the time the crowd had disappeared entirely and Anya had let herself out, after flashing a knowing look to the pair huddled in the corner, Buffy was officially intoxicated. She refused to lean on the arm that Angel offered as they headed for the door, claiming that she was perfectly capable of walking on her own, thank you very much. When they reached the doorway, he asked her to wait while he went to get his car, which was parked a couple of blocks away.

She agreed to wait but he was worried about leaving her standing in the gallery alone. Not because he thought she wasn't safe, but because she was wobbling unsteadily on her high heel shoes and he was afraid she was going to fall over before he came back. She dropped her keys as she was trying to put them in the door to unlock it again since Anya had locked them in.

"Oops," she said, giggling and bent over to pick them up. As she did, her dress rode up enough to show the tops of her thigh high stockings. Angel held his breath as his groin tightened and reminded himself that he didn't want to sleep with her...tonight. She couldn't unlock the door quick enough for Angel to bolt out, needing to separate himself from the object of his dreams before he did something he knew he would later regret.

Buffy stumbled out of the gallery doors, even though Angel insisted that she relock the door and wait inside. She needed fresh air and felt perfectly safe even though it was close to one in the morning. She fumbled with her keys and took several moments to slip the key in the lock, but finally was able to successfully lock it and drop the keys into her purse. She turned around to look for Angel and found a large body slamming her back into the glass door.

A calloused hand covered her mouth as her head slammed against the door, cracking the glass behind her head and blurring her vision even more than it already was. She released a muffled scream as the front of her dress was ripped away. She could barely make out her attacker's face in the dark doorway, but he was nearly as tall as Angel with a slimmer build. His hair was blonde, she caught that, and he reeked of whiskey and cigarettes.

"Shut up, bitch," he said in his bland American accent as he pushed her down to the concrete walkway just in front of the door. Buffy squeezed out tears and tried to shake him off, pushing and punching at his shoulders. He punched her in the jaw, removing his hand from her mouth to do it, which gave her the opportunity to scream, "ANGEL!"

"Nothing's going to save you tonight, baby," he grunted as slapped her into silence and ripped away her bra and panties swiftly. He took a second to look over her lithe body and soon found himself on his back with a large boot crushing in his teeth.

Angel saw them before he heard her scream his name and was already out of his car, leaving it double parked and running in the street. He sprinted the few remaining feet to save the woman he now knew he was in love with. Spending his life in orphanages and on the street, he had more than his fair share of fights. He used every move he had ever learned to crush her attacker into the sidewalk. Anger and rage that was usually foreign to the artist became a living beast inside of him as the man tried to crawl away. Angel kicked him in the side and enjoyed the gurgled grunt of pain that sprayed from his mouth with his blood. He pulled the blonde man to his feet and prepared to punch him again when he said, "Angel. Stop."

He didn't stop. He hit him as hard as he could even as the man's identity was realized. He looked down at the bleeding man and stomped on his chest, feeling several ribs crack inside his chest.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Angel asked, wanting to kill him with his bare hands.

"Just give me a second," he answered, struggling to breathe.

"Did you give her a second, Penn? What are you doing trying to rape girls in the street, you horrible fuck?"

"I was paid to do it," he wheezed. He tried to scoot away but Angel pressed his boot harder into his chest. He could hear Buffy sobbing in the doorway and he looked over to see her trying to gather bits of her dress to cover her exposed body.

"Who hired you?"

"I don't know," he said. Angel bent over to punch him hard in the face and nearly growled out his next words, "Wrong answer."

"I swear," he gasped. Angel looked down at the man he had been friends with in boyhood and stared into his eyes for a moment, searching for the truth. He moved his foot off of his chest and Penn started to sit up, only to fall back again when Angel kicked the side of his head, contacting with his temple and knocking him unconscious. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed 911 as he hurried to Buffy's side.

He knelt before her and looked down at her tearful, mascara streaked face. Blood was seeping from her full lips from where she had been struck and he felt the most abominable feeling he had ever known trickling into his soul. Someone he knew had to have hired Penn to do this to her. This was his fault. He gave the police the address and then shoved his phone back in his pocket before slipping off his leather jacket and gently wrapping it around her shoulders.

"I'm sorry," he said, feeling tears in his eyes for the first time since he was a little boy, "This is all my fault."

Much to his surprise, she laid her head on his chest as she continued to cry. Her shoulders shook violently with her sobs and it was all Angel could do to not go over and kill Penn before the police arrived. Instead, he pulled her into his arms. She allowed it and clung to him as he cradled her, smoothing his hand over her hair and sending a deadly glare at the unconscious former friend on the sidewalk.


//and in the mist our hero stands//

Detective Kate Lockley looked suspiciously over the tall, dark and extremely sexy man who claimed to know the attacker. He claimed to have no real relationship with the victim, Buffy Summers, other than a business relationship, but he loomed over her, watching every person who got near her. He was so protective over her that the other police officers were inclined to think of him as hostile.

"He said he was paid," Angel said, keeping a hand on Buffy's shoulder. She remained silent, wrapped in his leather jacket and feeling more naked with each passing second. Angel kept glancing down at her bloody knees and torn nylons and every time he did, he felt a rare, acutely defined fury rise in his chest. He should have killed that fucker when he had the chance.

"But he said he didn't know who, is that right?" Kate asked.

"That's right," Angel said, nodding.

"Did he say how much he was paid?"

"I knocked him out before he got that far," Angel answered honestly.

"Okay," she said, "Thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to answer our questions. We would like to take Ms. Summers' statement now. You are free to go. I'll have someone take her home."

Angel was frozen, unable to think of how to deal with the situation. He couldn't stand the thought of leaving her there alone and frightened. He looked down at her and she looked back up. Her eyes seemed to plead for him to stay and when he started to remove his hand from her shoulder she reached up and caught it, holding his hand tightly in hers. He lowered himself to one knee next to her chair and looked in her eyes for a moment before asking, "Buffy, I can stay...if you want."

He had to wait for a long time before she managed to whisper hoarsely, "Please don't leave me here alone, Angel."

"Okay, love," he said, touching the unbruised side of her face gently, "I'll stay."

Kate watched as he stood and turned his eyes back to her. The gentleness and love pouring out to Buffy disappeared completely as he looked back up at her. Instead they were now filled with anger and determination.

"I'm staying with her, detective," he said firmly.

"Fine," Kate said, nodding. She initially thought that the mysterious Angel had something to do with the attack, especially since he was once close friends with the rapist, but now she wasn't so sure. He was going to remain near the top of her suspect list, but he was slipping lower as they went along. Kate took a deep breath and continued, "Please have a seat over there while I get her statement alone."

Angel started to step away but Buffy held onto his hand and actually pulled him closer to her, unwilling to let him go. He looked down at her again and squeezed her hand.

"I'm not going to leave you, Buffy," he said quietly, "They think I'll influence your statement if I'm standing here. I'll just be over there, okay?"

Kate raised an eyebrow in surprise. She hadn't expected that reaction and as a cop, coming from a long line of cops, she was rarely surprised. Reluctantly, Buffy released his hand and turned her head to watch him walk away. She watched him until he settled in a chair on the other side of the room and waited.


//now what can we say? have a nice day? looks like rain today...//

Buffy didn't get to see Angel's paintings of her that evening and it was the furthest thing from her mind as he walked her out to his car at close to four in the morning. She gave him directions to her apartment and sat mutely in the seat, holding onto her seat belt for dear life even though Angel drove overly slow and cautiously. She was glad he was driving slowly because she didn't want to go into that dark quiet apartment and finally be alone. Even the thought of sleeping there by herself made her start to shake again.

He pulled into the parking lot of her apartment complex and parked in front of her building. She looked over at him, still trembling, waiting for him to tell her that he was leaving her there, that he was going to go away. He didn't. He turned off the car and walked around to open her door. Extending a hand with a sort of gentlemanly gesture he had never done before, she accepted his hand. He walked her to her door and took her keys from her after she tried several times to steady her hands.

When he opened the door, the first thing they both heard was breathing.

"Someone's here," he growled, stepping in ahead of her. Angel stood still in the darkness for a second, allowing his eyes to adjust. Buffy saw a familiar outline of a body on her couch and opened her mouth to stop Angel but he was already across the room, pulling the bulky weight from the couch.

"What the..."

"Angel!" Buffy shouted, "It's Riley. Stop. It's Riley."

She flipped on the light and looked over cloaked in shame of her violation. Angel had his hand around Riley's surprised throat and didn't bother letting go. Riley pushed him away and stared at his girlfriend for a moment. Was she his girlfriend anymore? He wasn't sure exactly but the condition she was in made him want to scream and cry and attack someone.

"What happened?" he shouted and turned back to Angel, "Did you do this to her? I'll fucking kill you!"

"Stop," Buffy sobbed, unable to stand another moment of violence for the evening, "He didn't do this to me."

"What happened?" Riley asked quietly, crossing the room to her. He reached out to touch her and she flinched, closing her eyes as she stepped away.

"I...can't..." she whispered, cringing.

"She was attacked outside the gallery," Angel said, his voice rumbling with checked anger.

"He saved me," she whispered.

"Are you okay?" he asked, feeling guilty for keeping his vigil on her couch while he waited for her to come home. He had been convinced that she was cheating on him, if cheating was even the right word for a woman he wasn't sure he was dating anymore. Now he felt the same jealousy twisting into something else.

She didn't answer but the pained look in her eyes answered the question.

"Do you want me to stay tonight?" he asked, wanting so badly to touch her, to pull her into his arms but knowing that he couldn't. Somehow the line had been drawn now and he wasn't sure if it would ever be erased again. A feeling of loss came over him as she shook her head.

"No," she said, "I just need...I need some time, Riley."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," she said, opening the door again for him. Riley looked over at Angel, who didn't look as if he planned on leaving.

"You coming?" he asked with a little more fierceness than he meant. Angel looked over to Buffy, questioning her silently.

"I need him to stay," she answered for him.

"*He's* staying but you want me to leave?"

"Please don't," she said, feeling a new set of sobs rising in her chest. She wasn't even sure why she wanted him to stay and for Riley to leave. It didn't make sense. All she knew was that he was the only one she felt safe with right now. She knew that she was probably asking too much of him to stay with her for awhile longer, but she needed it.

"Call me if you need me," Riley grumbled, giving a hard look to Angel, "And I'll come back."

"Thank you," she said before closing the door behind him.


//you realized it's not my fault not a moment too soon//

Angel stood guard as Buffy took a shower. The trust she felt for him was strange, to say the least, but she knew that if nothing else, he would protect her. She dry heaved under the spray and wished her stomach wasn't empty. Not that she would be able to eat. She wouldn't. Right then she wasn't sure how she was still breathing.

As she was getting dressed, she heard Angel pacing in her living room. She still felt dirty and had to resist the urge to get back in the shower and wash again. Instead she dressed slowly, choosing a pair of sweat pants and a sweat shirt. It was warm outside but her apartment was freezing. She was sure it was her nerves since the temperature was fine when she left.

She hugged her body as she went into the living room to face her visitor. Now that she had made him stay there, she wasn't sure what to do with him. She did know that she didn't want him to leave. She wasn't sure she could face the rest of the night, even though there wasn't much left of it.

"Here," he said, holding a towel filled with ice in his hand, "Sit down. We have to get the swelling down."

She obeyed, curling up on the couch. He sat down next to her, careful not to touch her. After she had shied away from Riley's touch, he thought it was a good idea to keep his distance. He held the ice lightly against her face and flinched when she hissed in pain from the contact.

"Sorry," he mumbled, holding the ice there for her until she reached up to take it from him.

"‘S okay," she croaked out. She felt like crying, but there weren't any tears left. It took a long time for her to look over at him and meet his eyes. She was surprised to see more anguish there than she expected.

"Do you want me to leave?" he asked, "I mean, I'll stay with you for as long as you need me to, but I can't see why you would want that."

"Why would you say that?" she asked, pulling the ice away from her face.

"This is my fault," he said, "Penn was my friend. He had to have been hired by someone I know, someone trying to get back at me."

"I don't understand," she said, "Why would they attack me to get at you?"

"Because..." he said, searching his mind for the right way to explain it, "Because...dammit."

"Still not understanding, Angel."

"I think I'm in love with you," Angel said, "I know I'm not good enough for someone like you and I've tried to stay away from you but I can't. All my friends know that I've...changed since I've met you."

"Changed how?"

"I've been with a lot of women, Buffy," he said, standing up to look out her sliding glass doors at the predawn sky, "I'm not a very good person."

"People keep telling me that," she said, "But you don't seem so horrible to me."

"You're not looking close enough," he said, turning back to her, "You don't know me."

"I know enough," she said, standing up, "I know you saved me tonight...How have you changed?"

"I haven't seen another woman since I met you. I broke up with the women that I was seeing."


"Because the only thing I want is you," he said. He waited for her to say something, to have some sort of reaction but he was met with stunned silence. He took a deep breath and looked down at her wounded face, "You can kick me out any time now."

"I don't want to," she whispered.

"What do you want?" he asked, clenching his hands to keep from touching her.

"Hold me until I fall asleep?"

He nodded silently and allowed her to lead him to her bedroom. She laid down on the bed, uncertain of what to do. He slid in beside her and pulled her back against his chest, wrapping his arms around her narrow waist. Carefully brushing her hair away from her face, he kissed her forehead and listened to her breathing. Just before she fell asleep, he heard her whisper, "It's not your fault."


Part Six "Falling"

By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: For those of you who gave me such wonderful feedback, I am so very grateful! Please keep me going with more!

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies



//anyone perfect must be lying anything easy has its cost anyone plain can be lovely anyone loved can be lost what if i lost my direction? what if i lost sense if time? what if i nursed this infection? maybe the worst is behind and it feels just like i'm falling for the first time//

Angel wanted to stay in that warm bed and hold onto Buffy for the rest of the night and into the following day. He wanted to sink into a deep sleep and dream of the future in her arms. But he couldn't close his eyes without seeing Penn ripping her clothes from her body, the tears in her frightened eyes. He heard her screaming his name over and over again in his mind. He was certain that if he remembered anything for the rest of his life, it would be the desperate rattling scream for echoing off the empty street.

He looked down at her, finally asleep. One whole side of her face was bruised in deep purple and blue, a shattering reminder of what had happened. Her lip was split and although she had washed the blood away, he could still see it. It was almost as if it were still on his hands.

After he was certain she was sound asleep, he carefully slipped away and went into her living room. Picking up her cordless phone, he opened the sliding glass doors and went out onto the balcony. He sat on the edge of one of those wicker chairs that he had seen on a dozen other women's verandas and dialed as the sun was rising in front of him.

"Whoever this is better get a fucking watch," the gravely voice said when he answered.

"Gunn, it's Angel."

"This had better be an emergency man," Gunn complained, "I *just* got to bed."

"It's an emergency."

"What's up?"

"Someone tried to rape...my girl. Someone hired him. I need you to find out who," Angel said, letting the words come of his mouth in a stream of something as close to panic as Gunn had ever heard in his friend's voice.

"Okay," Gunn said, slowly, sitting up in bed and wiping his eyes, "first of all, you say ‘girl' as if there's only one and from the sound of your voice you aren't smiling."

"There is only one," Angel said, "now. And I'm a far cry from smiling."

"Wow. Need to digest that thought for a second."

"There's no time for that. Remember Penn? He tried to rape her in front of her gallery tonight. He said someone hired him. This isn't a favor. I'm hiring you. I want all of your people on this until it's resolved. I want someone outside of her apartment and someone at her gallery 24/7. I want every fucking person you have at your disposal on this case."

"I have other cases, Angel," Gunn said calmly, "I can tell you're upset and hell, I would be too, but you need to think rationally for a second."

"This is me being rational. I'll pay whatever it costs. Find that bastard and I'll take care of it from there."

"Whoa, man. You need to calm down. You're talking crazy. You can't be thinking about doing what it sounds like you're thinking about doing."

"Find out who is responsible for this," Angel said slowly, enunciating every word.

"Alright, alright. Give me the details," Gunn said, reaching for a pad of paper and pen. Angel filled him in on everything that had happened in overly specific detail, including sounds, smells and goddamn pigments. He had known Angel for a long time. He had even seen him possessive of certain women, but this girl, this Buffy Summers, was something completely different. It was almost as if Angel was actually in love with her.

Angel hung up the phone and dialed again. He listened to the ring and groaned when the answering machine picked up. He listened to Spike's voice saying, "Leave a bloody message or hang up."

"Spike, it's Angel. If you're there, pick up," Angel said and paused for a second, "It's important. I need to talk to you as soon as poss-"

"What do you WANT?" Spike grunted, "Did you get Betty home and forget how to get in her in the sack since you've been a monk for the last coupla months?"

"Buffy," Angel growled, "Her name is Buffy, dammit, and Penn tried to rape her outside the gallery after the show tonight. What do you know about it?"

"What you just told me," Spike answered, "I'm into shagging ‘em, not raping ‘em, mate. What the bloody hell would Penn be doing raping someone anyway? He's a sadistic bastard, but he never had a problem getting a girl before."

"He said someone hired him," Angel answered.

"Paid rapist? That's new."

"You're not funny," Angel warned, "I need you to ask around. Find out if anyone knows anything."

"Call Gunn. I'm not a detective."

"Already called him and now I'm asking you too. You're going to help me and if I find out you had anything to do with this-"

"Jesus, Peaches," Spike complained, "You can't threaten someone this early in the morning."

"Just ask around, okay?"

"Fine, but you owe me."

"Whatever, William."

"Keep that shit up and I won't be helping you at all."


//i've never felt so small i've never been so dissed as i shiver, dripping//

Buffy woke up alone and her bed never seemed so large. She curled up and stared at the window that she couldn't see out of. She didn't want to get up and face the day. She didn't want to see that Angel had left her. She wasn't even sure if she wanted to find out if he left a note or not. It just seemed hopeless and she felt helpless. It made her angry to feel that way, that someone could make her so afraid and weak, that one man, one stranger could have that much power. If Buffy Summers was ever anything, it was never helpless and weak. Whoever Penn was, whoever hired him, she couldn't let him destroy her peace of mind.

Trying on a slip of determination, she forced herself to get out of bed. She stood on her own two feet and saw the lush green tree outside of her window. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining. It was a depressingly beautiful day. Too beautiful to feel the way she did. The sun seemed to know that as it pressed against her, making her feel hot in the bulky sweat shirt she had put on the night before. She slipped it off and made her way to the kitchen in her sports bra and sweat pants.

She stopped just outside the kitchen door as she saw him standing in front of the stove, breaking an egg into her frying pan. His hair was still wet from the shower he must have taken, sticking up haphazardly in the most adorable way. He was barefoot and shirtless, wearing nothing but those incredible leather pants.

"Hey," he said when he noticed her standing there. He tried not to stare at her body, reminding himself that the furthest thing from his mind *should* be how delectable she looked in that little top. She crossed her arms over her chest uncomfortably, confirming his suspicions. He crossed the room to her, against his better judgement, and placed a kiss on her forehead.

"Hey," she echoed numbly.

"I borrowed your shower," he said, turning back to the eggs, "I hope you don't mind. I thought I'd make you breakfast."

"It's fine," she answered, "About the shower, I mean. It's sweet of you to make me breakfast but I'm really not hungry."

"You need to eat something. You'll need the energy."

"For what?" she asked, tracing her finger on the counter.

"For your first lesson."


"Yeah," he nodded, scrambling the eggs artfully as he spoke, "You're going to learn self defense. I'm going to teach you how to fight and we're not going to stop until you can kick my ass."

"What? Are you joking?" she asked in surprise.

"No," he said, setting the spatula down before facing her and looking into her eyes to let her know just how serious he was, "I want you to be able to protect yourself. No one is *ever* going to hurt you again."

"I don't get you," Buffy said, shuffling away from the kitchen and back into the living room. She curled up on the couch and looked absently out the sliding glass doors, wishing they would just seal her up inside there.

"What's not to get?" he called from the kitchen as he turned off the burner and then followed her out, "I want you to be safe."

"You don't even know me," she said, "Why do you even care?"

"I care," he said, sitting down next to her, "And you're right, I don't know you. But I will, if you let me."


//make up your mind and stick it out or start again you can't imagine what an effort it takes//

"Why didn't you call us?" Willow asked, hiding her shaking hands under Buffy's kitchen table as she looked over her friend's split lip and bruised face.

"The better question here is how do you trust Angel, or whatever his *real* name is, when it was his friend that attacked you?" Xander demanded, just barely keeping himself from pounding his fist on the table in frustration.

"This wasn't his fault," Buffy answered, sternly. If there was anything in this situation that she was sure of, it was Angel's innocence.

"You've known him for what? Ten minutes? It's pretty damn convenient that you get attacked by his friend and he just *happens* to be there to save you and then ends up in your bed!"

"I asked him to stay, Xander," Buffy said, keeping her voice steady, "And this is none of your damn business. Leave Angel out of this."

"Wake up and smell the seduction, Buffy!"

"So," Willow said, clearing her throat and sending a dirty look in Xander's direction, "He's teaching you self defense?"

"Yeah," she said, nodding, "I spent the morning learning how punch correctly, how to make a fist, getting out of holds, that sort of thing. It was interesting, actually. I didn't think it would be that, you know, fun."

"Fun?" Xander asked, a shade too loudly.

"Maybe you should show Xander how to punch correctly," Willow offered with a grin.


//so now you're out from under the gun and it's over and done so i won't spoil all the fun//

Three weeks passed and Buffy was starting to think that she had imagined the part where Angel said he was falling in love with her. He taught her self defense three nights a week, took her out to dinner a couple of times and hired some people to follow her around, but he never even tried to hold her hand. His protectiveness was as endearing as it was annoying. She thought originally that she was just being paranoid when she felt like she was being watched. Then she started to notice people following her all the time. It took almost two weeks to get the little "Gunn Investigations" tidbit out of him and initially she was pissed as hell that he hadn't bothered to tell her she was being followed. Did he think that she wouldn't notice thug types hanging around all the time?

But it was hard to stay angry with him. He had this soothing quality about him that made her forget within moments what she was supposed to be upset about. She thought it was his eyes. They more than penetrated, they took root, set up camp and started fires. But he kept his distance physically if his gaze didn't. She was getting that itch that she thought Riley must have felt when she refused him. She began to think about him touching her and kissing her. Every time he touched her, she leaned in, waiting for the more that didn't happen.

With the multitude of women she heard about him sleeping with, she couldn't understand what was taking him so long. Maybe he had changed his mind about her after what happened. She shuddered when she thought about that night, naked and bleeding in front of him, sobbing on his shoulder. Every time she looked in the mirror and saw the bruises that were taking an excruciatingly long time to heal, she was reminded of what she was desperately trying to forget.

That particular evening, she was sitting at home, staring at the wall and trying to think of something to do. Xander took Willow out of town for the weekend to a secret destination that he wouldn't even tell her. Anya was out with Spike and Cordelia had somehow hooked up with the bartender at Spike's club. That one was a little confusing, since she usually went for rich, no-necks and that guy was neither wealthy, nor a jock. Still, she saw the attraction. He had a worshipful way about him when he looked at her with those pretty blue eyes. He called her "Princess" which made the snooty Queen C turn into a rubber kneed school girl. It was cute. It was frustrating. Why was everyone else getting smoochies? Everyone seemed to be happy with someone except for her.

Picking up the phone, she dialed Angel's number from memory and listened to the empty ring. He picked up just as the answering clicked on and sounded busy as he said, "Hello?"

"Hi. It's Buffy. Um...am I calling at a bad time?"

"No, of course not," he answered. She had a horrible picture inside her mind of him in bed with some beautiful woman. She could only hope that he was exercising. Maybe he was painting. It was a much more attractive image than the in bed with some other woman one, although he was just as naked in that vision as in the other.

"I was in the shower," he added after a moment of silence.

Even better mental image, she thought as she said, "Oh. I'm sorry. I'll let you go."

"No!" he said, "Hold on one sec while I grab a towel. I'm dripping all over my floor."

Dear God, he was completely naked. She covered the mouthpiece of the phone while she tried to make herself breathe. Mr. Dark, Gorgeous and Overprotective was naked and covered with little droplets of water...

"Kay," he said, picking up the phone again, "Is everything okay?"

"Sure," she said, "I was just wondering, since I never got to see your other paintings of me, that you might want to...but I'm sure you probably have plans since you were showering and it's Friday night, so I can just let you go-"

"Buffy," Angel interrupted and smiled into the phone at her nervous babbling, "I'd love for you to come over and see them. Do you want me to come pick you up?"

Naked? Sure!

"No," Buffy said, grinning, "I have a car. Besides, Gunn or one of his buddies will be following me anyway."

"Uh, right," he said, guiltily, "They have liked all the snacks you've been giving them. You're their favorite assignment."

"I bet."


//he already knows he's forgotten all he knew before//

When Angel answered the door, he had to make himself not stare. Buffy was wearing one of those little black camisoles that hugged her chest and left her torso delightfully bare. She wasn't wearing anything under it, he was certain of that. Her jeans were worn and faded, hugging her hips seductively. He hid the fact that he was taking a deep breath to calm himself as he stepped back to let her in.

He had set all of the paintings up around the room, leaning against the furniture and the walls. In fact, he was glad she came right over because he had resorted to moving them around in different positions as if the lighting and location of each canvas would make all the difference. He mulled over hiding a couple that he wasn't sure of but in the end, he decided not to hide anything from her. He leaned against the closed door after letting her in and let her wander around the room to look at them. It was better to stay there, since he was sure he would be opening it again within minutes to let her back out.

Buffy had braced herself for the viewing of the paintings. After seeing his other ones of different women, she thought for certain that she would be nude in some of them. She was shocked to see that she wasn't. She guessed it made sense that he wouldn't know what she looked like underneath her clothes, but she was sure he could imagine it pretty accurately. If he did imagine it, he didn't paint it. They were seductive and surreal, dreamy and beautiful. She always thought herself sort of plain but he made her seem more exotic somehow, more interesting.

"Is this all of them?" she asked, staring at herself over and over again, silhouetted, shaded and abstracted. Some of them were just a hint of her and others were so real she almost expected her image to step off the canvas. There were so many it was almost too much to handle.

"Those are all of paintings," he said, crossing the room to his desk. He pulled out a sketchbook and handed it to her, stilling the tremor in his hands. The moment of truth was taking an unbearably long time. Buffy sat down on the couch and opened the book. The first thing she saw was a sketch of Darla done in charcoal. She was in the center of a bed, nude and inviting.

"Keep going," he said, clearing his throat nervously, "Yours are more towards the middle."

He cursed silently as she flipped each individual page, looking at what he had done before he met her. Some of them were a little more risque than others and he wished he had flipped to the first page with her in it instead of giving her free reign of the drawings. Eons passed before she reached the first one of herself. She turned the pages slowly and he wanted to speed up the process, make it to the finish and get his judgement. The waiting was torment.

When she finally closed the book, he waited for moment while she held the book in her hands, looking around the room again.

"What do you think?"

"This is going to sound conceited," she said quietly, as she stood up from the couch, "But I think they're beautiful. It isn't that they're of me, it's what you see in me, what you've made me into. It's almost like...you see more than there is."

She reached out and touched a reproduction of her face, half of her lost in the shadows, "You make into more than what I am."

"No, I don't," he said. She jumped when she heard him speak. She didn't realize he was standing right behind her until he spoke softly in her ear. She turned and faced him, tilting her head to look up at him.

"These are more full of life than I am," she whispered.

"They're pathetic attempts," he whispered back, "You're much more than this."

He leaned down, inching toward her face, waiting for her to shy away from him. She didn't move away but toward him. He kissed her gently and felt his heart thumping in his chest as she responded to him, parting her lips as the kiss deepened. Pulling her into his arms, he threaded his fingers through her silky hair with one hand and spanned her lower back with the other, relishing in the feel of the bare skin between her shirt and jeans.


Part Seven "The Want"


DEDICATION: For Nina. Miss Sweetness and Light, you really made my day today...several times. Thanks for "taking one for the team." *G* This one's for you, my friend.


//i'm so done, turn me over cause it feels just like i'm falling for the first time//

Angel's old frame of mind was creeping in as he kissed her. He felt his arousal growing, sex flooding his mind as he explored her warm mouth, loving the way she responded to him. Just a flick of his wrist and her tiny camisole would be gone and he would be able feast his hungry eyes on her full breasts. Taking each second of self control he never used in the past, he broke the kiss and released her. Her lips were moist and parted as she expelled little puffs of breath. She seemed to be silently asking for another kiss as she kept her arms around him.

He leaned in and kissed her again, promising himself it would be the last. She tasted like so sweet and her body fit against his so perfectly that he almost thought he was dreaming it. He thought back on that night with her falling asleep in his arms. He was so concerned about her welfare that he hadn't taken the time to relish in the feel of her. Tonight he had that time and was trying to keep himself from it again.

When he broke the kiss the next time, he entertained the idea of jumping out the window. It seemed like the better alternative than trying to get her to go home. He loved her and yet, he felt as if he shouldn't corrupt her integrity. It seemed wrong for someone like him to be with someone like her but the way she was looking at him, that innocent lust in her pretty hazel eyes was more than he could stand.

"Are you going to be ready for our lesson tomorrow?" he asked, having a bit of difficulty getting the words out.

"Yes," she answered, nodding her head in confusion. Weren't they just kissing? Who gave a rat's ass about the lesson tomorrow?

"Good," he said, nodding and stepping away, hoping she didn't notice the uncomfortable bulge in the front of his pants. He sat down on the couch and she sat on the opposite end, slipping off her sandals and pulling her feet up against her chest.

"Why do I feel like you regret kissing me?"

"I don't," he said, "I mean, I loved kissing you, Buffy, I just think that maybe we shouldn't...do that."

"Why not?" she asked.

"I'm just not the kind of guy you should be with."

"So you want me to go out with another guy?"

"NO!" he said, standing up, "I mean, yes. Yes."

"Are you trying to talk yourself into that? I thought you said you were falling in love with me."

"I am," he said, facing the window she now recognized from his painting, "...already in love with you."

She walked boldly over to him. She stood behind him for a second before she wrapped her hands around his waist, resting her cheek on his back. She felt her hands trembling slightly as she held him and she breathed deeply, waiting there in silence for a second.

"Angel," she said quietly, "I love you too. I want to be with you."

She let him go and walked around him, leaning against the window pane as she continued speaking, "I'm not sure why you think you're not good enough for me, but I don't care what you did in the past or who you slept with before. All that matters to me is here and now. It's what you are to me, how you treat me."

"I'm not so sure," he said, shaking his head.

"Do you want to be with me?" she asked sternly.

"Buffy, it's not that-"

"Do you want to be with me, Angel? It's a simple question."

"Yes," he said, meeting her eyes, "Yes, I do."

"Good, now that we have that out of the way," she said, stepping closer, "I think you should kiss me again."

He crushed his mouth against hers, plunging his tongue into her warm mouth. He stepped forward, pressing her against the glass behind her. He ignored the fact that his arousal was against her, alerting her of just how much he wanted her. As she kissed him, she reached down and pulled her shirt up, breaking the kiss to pull it off, baring her chest to his gaze. He paused for a second, licking his lips while his mind raced on the right thing to do. The rarity of these emotions were crowding in with his lust. She unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it off of his shoulders. After a second, she pulled his hands to her chest, placing them over her breasts.

"Please," she whispered, "Don't think about it. Just touch me, Angel."

He cupped her breasts gently, brushing his thumbs over her erect nipples as he leaned in to kiss her again, slipping down to her neck and then capturing one of her nipples in his mouth. She threaded her fingers into his hair and moaned as he sucked in one nipple then the other, pausing to leave a dozen little kisses in the valley between her breasts.

She squealed in surprise when he lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bedroom, kissing her passionately on the way. He set her on her feet next to his bed. He looked down at her flushed skin, her swollen lips and the way her eyes sparkled with want. He shook his head and groaned in pain as he stepped away. She reached out and grabbed his arm, keeping him there and then slipped off her jeans. Her black lace panties were all the clothing she had left and as she moved to remove them, he stopped her.

"It's too soon," he said.

"I want you," she breathed, her voice husky with desire, "I thought you wanted me."

"I do," he answered, "You have no idea how hard this is for me. I just think we should wait. I don't want to ruin it."

Buffy stepped up, closing the space between them and pressed her nearly naked body against his. She kissed the smooth column of his neck, allowing her hands to roam freely over his chest and back. She felt him weakening as one hand slipped into her hair and the other traced her spine. She sucked his nipples into her mouth, mirroring his previous movements and a shiver of desire rippled through him.

"Buffy," he said as her hand slid down to caress the rigid outline of his cock through his pants, "I'm begging you, baby. We have to wait."

"Uh-huh," she said, reaching for the button of his pants, "Don't wanna."

With a growl he knocked her hands away and backed her toward the bed, pushing her back on it. He slid her panties off easily and spread her legs, sliding his hands down her inner thighs. God, she was perfect. He leaned in to inhale the musky sweet scent of her arousal and then dipped in to taste her. He kissed her outer lips before teasing her open with his tongue, pressing her legs further apart as she opened for him. The guttural moan she released when he finally sucked her clit into his mouth was enticing, to say the least, and spurred him on. The years of practice were paying off as he nibbled, licked and sucked her, exploring the contours of her with his expert mouth.

He pushed a finger inside her, moving shallowly for a moment before pressing deeper. When he hit her hymen, he almost cried. She was a virgin. He suspected, but didn't really think it was true and now that it was, he wasn't sure how to continue. He slowed down, crafting her orgasm, prolonging the pleasure until she was trembling underneath him and gripping his shoulders.

"Angel," she gasped, raising her hips and pressing her dripping sex against his mouth. Answering her request, he sucked her clitoris into his mouth, sucking hard until she came, screaming and bucking beneath him. His name appeared inside her moans of pleasure and it was perfect.

He gathered her trembling body against him and nestled with her against the pillows, holding her tightly against his chest. She waited for him to move to make love to her, but he didn't. Finally, she turned over in his arms and looked at his face, blanketed with lust and determination.

"Don't you want to make love to me?" she asked.

"Yes," he said through gritted teeth, "But I'm not going to."


"Not tonight, Buffy," he said, kissing her lightly, "Please, just let me wait."

"You're just torturing yourself," Buffy said, pressing her hand against his pounding heart, "You can have me, Angel. I'm not going to disappear."

"I know, love," he said, but he didn't.


//it's really amazing//

Angel couldn't believe that Buffy was in his bed, blissfully naked and snuggled against his chest sound asleep. Okay, so he hadn't made love to her but that didn't change the fact that she was in his apartment, in his bed, in love with him. He would have been dancing around the room, jumping up and down with joy, if it didn't mean leaving her arms. He smiled down at her, studying her like he never bothered to study any other woman. She was so small and perfect, her leg tossed over his, her warm heat pressing against his leg, her hand so small as it rested on his stomach. It was the first time in years he had gone to bed in clothing. He was in boxer shorts, which was far more than he had slept in a long time, except for the night he held her before. In some twisted part of his mind, it felt good. He wasn't her lover yet but it didn't matter, she loved him.

The morning sun was filtering through his windows, flooding the room with heat and light. She shifted in her sleep and he knew that she would wake up any moment. He waited, smiling down at her as she murmured in her sleep, rubbing her face on his chest. Her hand moved over his chest as if in half sleep she was trying to remember where she was. She opened her eyes and blinked. A second later, she looked up at him and smiled back at him.

"Morning," she said, her voice full and groggy. She turned her face up for a kiss and he obliged, delighted she wasn't one of those women who had to run to the bathroom to brush her teeth first. He knew it was sad, but everything she did made him love her more.

"Morning," he said, as the kiss ended, rubbing her back gently, "How did you sleep?"

"Better than I have in weeks actually," she said, sitting up. She glanced at the clock on his bedside table and groaned, "I have to get to the gallery. I'm meeting this morning. Can I borrow your shower?"

"Sure," he said, nodding toward the bathroom, "There are clean towels in the closet."

"Thanks," she said, kissing him again before getting up and heading toward the bathroom. He watched her perfect, golden, naked body as she walked, swaying her hips generously. At the door, she stopped and turned around, "Wanna come?"

"Don't tempt me," he grumbled, sitting up in bed.

"That's exactly what I was trying to do," she said, winking at him before disappearing into the room. He dropped his head in his hands and reminded himself that it was too soon to have sex. Too soon. He thought about their conversation the night before, how he had insisted that they wait and she disagreed. He was trapped in a world of confusion. *He* was telling a woman they should wait? If only Spike could hear him now. He listened to the running water in the bathroom, imagining her little body under the spray, water streaming over her breasts, tracing each perfect rib, over her abdomen and down...at this rate, he was going to have to write it down and keep it in his pocket like a flash card. *It's too soon to sleep with her, Angel.*


//before all the fireworks exploded our conversations were so loaded innuendo flying//

There were several rounds of bets going on at Gunn Investigations lately. Some of the staff, actually ALL of the staff and some people outside it, were betting on how long it would take Angel to sleep with Buffy. Some of his subcontractors, who knew Angel well, had lost the first round of bets on that one. Now that they were edging toward the first month, money was being exchanged almost every day. No one could believe Angel hadn't gotten her into bed yet. The idea of Angel waiting one night without nailing a beautiful girl was inconceivable, but a month? Are you fucking crazy?

The second round of bets were the ones that Gunn found hilarious. Everyone was dying to know how long it would take Angel to beat the shit out of some guy who hit on his girl. All the men who watched Buffy on a regular basis, both at her apartment and at the gallery, had a bit of a crush on the sweet but bitingly sarcastic blonde girl. Angel had warned several of them in a not so nice tone that if they touched her, he would murder them in cold blood. The scary part was they really didn't think he was kidding.

"Hey people! You will not bloody *believe* the latest," Spike said, laughing so hard that tears were coming to his eyes as he strolled into Gunn Investigations that evening. Spike had been a integral source of knowledge for their rounds of bets since he was sleeping with Buffy's employee, Anya, who did not think it was a big deal to blurt out everything that was going on.

"Better hurry up and leak it," Gunn said, glancing up half heartedly from the file in front of him. The grim pictures in the file kept him from being as interested as usual in Angel's sex life. LA was becoming more dangerous and violent, at least he thought it was. Either that or he was becoming known for taking on the more grisly cases. Why couldn't he look for a lost kitten or something? This shit was sick, "They're going to meet here in for a sparring session in a little while."

"What's up?" Tommy asked. He was one of Gunn's guys who currently had a lot of money riding on the couple. He stepped forward with interest as Spike sank down to sit on the steps of the Hotel Hyperion, clutching his gut with laughter.

"Buffy...oh God, this is so great," Spike sputtered, "Buffy..."

"Spit it out!" Damon, a seven foot giant of an employee yelled as he stepped closer as well.

"Buffy wants to sleep with Angel, but *he* wants to wait!" Spike said, collapsing into a fresh spout of guffaws. This was terrific. He couldn't even grasp the idea of his friend requesting that they "take it slow." What a bloody riot! The funniest part of it all was that Spike had an inkling since Angel first spotted the girl that this was going to be different and he had hedged his bets accordingly. These morons were going to make him rich before Angel could get a piece of her sweet ass.

"What?" Tommy screamed. It couldn't be true. It just couldn't. Angel was his goddamn hero. He screwed every beautiful woman in LA and some outside of LA. Shit, half the women he had dated in the past couple of years had already slept with the artist. Now he was going to lose a bundle of his next paycheck cause Angel suddenly got a heart and conscience! It wasn't right.



Part Eight "Beating The Odds"


//you walked into the room and the whole place stopped to notice//

Every time Angel walked into Gunn Investigations lately, he felt like he was under a microscope. All of the guys were like cats staring into a fish bowl and he was a floundering goldfish trying to figure out what all the staring was about. He arrived twenty minutes early for his meeting with Buffy and found the guys crowding around Spike who was giddy as hell over something. A hush fell over the room and forced hisses for silence erupted as Angel passed by.

He found Gunn buried in a case file, not paying attention to the ruckus, but Angel knew that the boss had to know what was going on. He leaned against the desk, his back to his friend so he could size up the crew and after a few moments the realization hit him.

"They're betting, aren't they?" Angel asked with a groan. Locker room talk was expected. He knew rumors would be flying about his newfound celibacy but he hated the idea of them betting on Buffy like that.

"Yep," Gunn said, flipping through glossy photos of recent carnage.

"You playing too?" Angel asked, sinking into the chair on the other side of the desk.

"Got $50 bucks on you, studly."

"Jesus," Angel grimaced, "You're a bunch of assholes."

"Oh come on, man," Gunn said, setting the file aside. It was nice to have a distraction because his usually steel stomach was doing flip flops, "You know damn well that if it wasn't you, you'd be in on the bet."

"But..." Angel protested, "It's Buffy. She's not just any ordinary girl. This is different..."

"Which is why money is passed around here like a crack house lately," Gunn grinned, "Relax. Everyone's being quiet when your wonderful ball of sunshine is around."

"If she finds out about this," Angel warned, "I can't believe you are cheapening my feelings for her by making ringside bets on our relationship."

"What you just said," Gunn said, standing up as Buffy walked through the door, "Is why they're doing it. You've gone completely crazy over this girl."

"Yeah," Angel said, smiling as he watched her hug and greet the men congregated around the room. From the moment she walked through the door, the men's room quality of the room died and it scene transformed into an adore Buffy session. They were a crowd of teddy bears, anxious to be next in line to soak in her warmth. Spike was the only one who didn't participate. He sat back and eyed her closely, leering at her curvy body in his normal manner. Unlike the rest of the men there, he didn't think Buffy was anything more than another beautiful woman. He couldn't wait until Angel fucked this up. He was going to be there to catch her when he broke her. He planned to screw her sorrow away, again and again.

Angel tried not be jealous as she chatted with them, kissing their cheeks and allowing herself to be pulled into overly generous embraces. After a minute or two, he moved around to the counter leaned against it, watching her and waiting for her to notice his presence. She finally broke away from the barrage of men and found her way into his arms. She seemed oblivious to their stares as she greeted him warmly, tilting her head up for a kiss. He obliged greedily, forgetting momentarily that they had an audience as he wrapped his arms around her petite body and met her lips.

"Hi baby," he said, kissing her one last time before letting her go just enough so she could look up at him but remain in his arms.

"Hi," she said, "How was your day?"

"Not bad," he said, "I think I might have to go to New York in a couple of weeks for an art expedition. There was a guy from a gallery there visiting during my first show. He's interested in keeping some of my pieces at his place but he wants me to go up there first."

"Wow," she said, grinning, "I'm so happy for you."

"Thanks," he said, "How was your day?"

"Well, the appointment this morning went well," she said, "and the rest of the day was okay, I guess. But-" she said, turning around and pressing her back against Angel's chest, her ass resting snugly against his groin in the most tantalizing way. She faced the guys as she spoke, addressing them rather than Angel, "Anya told me about the Buffy's sex life pool that's been going on here. I'm trying to decide how upset I am about that."

The guys stopped in shock, hovering between fight and flight. They were trapped between frustration and guilt. Buffy was not supposed to find out about it. Angry eyes turned on Spike, who sat in the corner, grinning again.

"What?" Spike said, "It's not like any of you are innocent here. Besides, you all are missing the fun in this situation."

"I just found out about it, love," Angel said, in a voice too low for the rest to hear. Just knowing about it for ten minutes was enough for him to feel guilty and they were his friends after all.

"I know, honey," she said, rubbing the arm wrapped around her waist, "I'm not mad...at you."

Buffy kissed his cheek before sauntering to the bathroom with her sports bag, "I'm going to change clothes. Maybe you guys can all bet on how long it'll take me!"


//you try to match wits you try to hold me but i bust through gonna make a break and take a fake//

Bet or no bet, Buffy Summers was determined to Angel into her bed or his, but with sex this time. He explained the whole slowing down and taking it slow theory but she didn't want that. She realized that sex meant something different to him than it did to her. She understood that he had been with so many women that he thought sex would somehow make their love less if they hurried. Yep, she got all that, but she wanted to feel his hands on her bare skin again, wanted to know what all those other women felt when he was inside them. She wanted him to make love to her. She tried to explain the difference between making love and having sex and he seemed to get it but wouldn't budge. He wanted to wait and she was teetering on the edge of full blown sexual frustration.

She shivered as she undressed, remembering his hands on her body, his hot mouth on her skin. The way he touched her last night, the feel of his tongue and teeth between her thighs, it was perfect. More than perfect. Mind-blowing. She could hardly believe that after that he was able to keep himself from making love to her.

She wasn't sure how much this bet thing was going to push him toward her or away. She could only hope it was toward, as in closer, much, much closer. First things first, she thought as she pulled her hair up and looked in the mirror. Her weapon was in place and it nothing to do with sparring. She had chosen a skimpy sports bra and little shorts to wear for their workout. You know, cause it was important to be in clothes that didn't hinder you...from showing your boyfriend as much skin as possible.

"I thought you were putting on clothes," Angel gulped, suddenly feeling the need for a drink. Angel wasn't the only guy in the room who suddenly needed looser pants.

"What?" she asked, looking down in feigned confusion, "Do I look bad?"

"No," he said, grabbing her hand and pulling her toward the basement door where Gunn had an impressive gym area for his employees, "Bad is not the word I'd choose."

"What word would you choose?" she asked playfully as he shut the door behind them and thought about locking it. Unfortunately there was no lock to keep the guys out. He briefly thought about finding a chair to prop against the door to keep those assholes from the sudden need to work out he was sure they were having. He knew within minutes they all would be down there pretending to get in shape just so they could see her cavort around in that minuscule outfit. It was obscene and he wished for a window. There wasn't enough air down there.

"Naked," he choked, eyeing her body without shame.

"Angel," she said, waving off his comment, "Naked is when you don't have clothes on."

"You don't," he said, shucking his shirt and standing before her in black sweat pants. His muscular chest rippled before her as he made his way to the sparring area. She had to wonder if he was trying to help the situation or not when he looked so gorgeous there, bare chested and jealous. She laughed at his comments and they playfully moved around on the large blue mat on the floor for a few moments, dodging small kicks and swings, shifting into focus.

Angel had been impressed from the first lesson on her ability to learn so quickly. Her memory for intricate steps, punches, kicks and holds was fascinating. It took her half the time it had taken him to learn and for such a small person, there was a lot of power behind her movements. She knew her center of gravity and was able to focus all her strength into what she was attacking. In fact, there were a couple of times that he had to gasp in pain as she struck him.

Completely into each other, neither noticed about half the guys, including Spike and Gunn, making their way into the workout area. They washed with unabashed stares as she dodged his swings, using her smaller size to her advantage as she shifted out the way. Surprising Angel and the rest of the room, her body twisted into flight as her small leg flew up and contacted with his jaw, sending him to the mat, fast and hard.

"GOD *Damn!*" Gunn said as Angel's bulky frame crashed to the floor. Buffy rushed over and knelt at his side as he sat up and shook off the daze.

"I'm sorry!" Buffy said, rubbing his hand which was currently cupping the footprint on his face, "I didn't mean to...I mean, I didn't think...Oh God, Angel, are you okay?"

"Yeah," he said, smiling broadly as he pulled himself back to his feet.

"What? Why are you smiling like that?"

"Because Buffy," he said, "You took me down and hard, baby. I'm glad you can do that. I'm not sure where that came from, but I'm glad. Makes me feel like you're safer."

"I think she should spar with someone else," Gunn said, stepping forward. Angel gave him a deadly glare as he stepped onto the mat in challenge of the pretty blonde, "Don't look at me like that, Angel. If she only fights with you then she won't be used to other techniques and different movements, you know that."

"I don't know if that's a good idea," Angel said, shaking his head. What if something happened? Could he trust his friend to not hurt the woman he loved? He knew he could but still...

"Don't worry, Angel," Buffy said, placing a small hand on his chest and gently pushing him off of the mat, "I won't hurt your friend."

"Feisty," Gunn said with a grin, "I like that in a woman."

"Gunn," Angel growled from the sidelines in warning.

"Don't worry," Gunn said, circling her and moving into position, "I promise I'll be careful."

"If you hurt her..." Angel said, evenly and seriously.

"Angel!" Buffy admonished, stopping to turn and look at him. When she did, Gunn rushed forward, charging her. Angel's eyes flew open and he opened his mouth to warn her, but she heard him coming. She turned and sidestepped, parrying his blow with the expertise of a woman who had studied martial arts for years, not weeks. Gunn shifted back, recovering quickly and attacked again, not giving her much chance to gloat over the success of the move. The more she succeeded, the more he added strength and speed to his actions, seeing her as a real opponent.

Angel tensed on the sidelines, waiting for a moment when he would need to step in. Buffy swung and missed, countering with a kick that was blocked. Gunn grasped for the leg but she snapped back as Angel taught her, too quick for him. Turning, she moved under his swing and ducked, leaving a hard jab in his side, which surprised him and the onlookers. The girl was good.

Gunn turned and swung, expecting her not to be there, since every other time she wasn't. This time she was and his fist met her solar plexus, sending her flying back on the mat, gasping for the air that had been knocked out of her. Gunn dropped to his knees beside her as Angel roared, hurrying in from the sidelines. He punched his friend hard in the mouth forcing him on his back on the mat not far from where Buffy was trying to sit up.

"I'm fine," she gasped, "It wasn't his fault, I just lost my footing for a second."

"I'm sorry," Gunn said, "I wasn't trying to hurt her. Damn man, I think you almost broke my jaw."

"You deserved it," Angel said.

"You okay, Buff?" Gunn asked, looking over the girl who had suddenly turned pale.

"Yeah," she moaned, "But I think I'm done for the day."


//cause then you'll know the vertigo is gonna grow ‘cause it's so dangerous you'll have to sign a waiver//

"Are you sure you're okay?" Angel asked for the thousandth time as he walked her out to her car. "Course," she said, rubbing her chest and wincing slightly, "Think I'm gonna have a bruise though."

"Gunn's gonna have couple more," Angel said. She reached up and touched his face, looking into his eyes as she shook her head ‘no.'

"Don't," she said, "He's your friend and he wasn't trying to hurt me. You know that. Just calm down."

"Are you going to bed?" he asked, leaning against her car.

"Oh, I almost forgot," she said as she leaned in through the window and dug through her bag. Producing a shiny new silver key, she handed it to him, "Here."

"What's this?"

"It's a key to my apartment," she said with a smile, "I thought after you go have drinks with the guys you might want to stop by."

"If I don't drink too much I might. Thanks," he said, slipping the key onto his ring and then rubbing it between his fingers. He couldn't believe she had just given him a key to her apartment. He had never given anyone a key to his apartment. Well, no one except for Darla, but that was a long, long time ago. Seemed like that was another lifetime.

Angel watched, still smiling, as she pulled from the curb. He stood there as she drove off, seeing that Tommy was professionally discreet as he followed her, even though she was well aware she was being followed. When she reached the stoplight ahead, he furrowed his brow as she didn't stop at the stoplight. She rolled through without slowing down and he was already running toward the intersection as another car struck hers. Even over the sound of twisting metal and breaking glass, he could hear her screaming.




Part Nine "Flashing Lives"


By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it!

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies



//pinch me, pinch me cause i'm still asleep please god, tell me that i'm still asleep//

They say when you drown your life flashes before your eyes. Well, when Buffy's little car was struck in the center of that busy intersection, her life flashed before Angel's eyes. The parts he saw as he ran down the street, willing his legs to move faster, were the things he hadn't been able to see yet. It's funny, the things you think of in times of crisis. Angel wondered what mundane idiosyncracies he had yet to find out about his would be lover.

Later, he would wonder what those specific things were like what she bought when she went to the grocery store, what essential item she never left without. He wondered how she took her coffee, if she liked sugar in her tea, if she drank regular soda or diet. He puzzled why he never checked the stack of CDs that sat next to her stereo, indicating they were listened to most recently. He had been so busy trying not to love her that he hadn't been paying attention to the little things.

It's amazing, the amount of time that's left to thoughts, the ones that creep in between the panic and the disorder. It seemed like it happened quickly to onlookers, but Angel thought it was painfully prolonged. His feet moved so slowly, he was certain the asphalt was sinking beneath him. When he made it to the cars, the man who hit her was out of his vehicle, peering in the shattered driver's side window. Angel butted through the gathering crowd and shoved the man aside. He looked in, resting a hand on the crushed in door, seeing immediately what the man had been staring at. Her face was resting against the steering wheel and there was blood trickling in a stream down the side of her face, mixing with her blonde hair. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911 as he jerked on the door handle.

He gave the operator a stream of words he hoped told her where he was and what was wrong as he tried to pry the door open. He slipped the phone in his pocket as he ran around to the other side to get in through the passenger side but Buffy had done exactly what he told her to do and locked all the doors. He banged his fists on the window, screaming. He punched in at the thick glass, feeling it crack, but it wasn't breaking nearly fast enough.

"Buffy!" he shouted, feeling a dull ache begin in his hands as he pounded relentlessly, "Please baby, please, wake up!"

She laid there, her pretty eyes closed to the world as her blood dripped over her eyelids, splashing on the steering wheel and rolling off onto her legs. Angel whirled around and saw the man standing there. He was in his late 50s, kind looking and a bit shaken by the incident. He couldn't tear his eyes from the car he had hit or from the lovely young girl who was not waking up. Angel stalked back around the car and pointed to the man's car.

"Open your trunk," Angel commanded.

"E-excuse me?" he asked.

"I need a crowbar or something to get this car open," Angel explained, "Now open your fucking trunk."

The man nodded, still confused and fished the keys from his pocket. He pressed a button and his trunk opened with a little thunk. Angel bent in, ripped away the covering on the bottom of the trunk and tossed his spare tire aside to get to the jack. He pulled out the metal bar attached and went back to Buffy's car. He heard sirens wailing in the background as he began striking the bar against her back passenger window. Paramedics screeched to the scene as the window broke enough for him to fit his arm through. He slammed little pieces of broken glass out of the way with the bar and reached in to release the locks. He barely noticed his knuckles bleeding from pounding on her windows before or the long, red angry lines down the arm that plunged recklessly through the broken glass.

As he got the door opened, the paramedics pushed him aside and went to work to get her out of the car. When they loaded her into the ambulance, Angel hopped in with her, leaving the police officers and Gunn to exchange information.


//then something bends, and then it breaks your worst mistake accepting enemies on bended knees; a litany of tragedies, you're vexed, it seems you're hexed//

When he walked into his flat, she was standing at his window, looking out over the night sky. The moonlight outlined her body, shimmering there in her white silk dress. He groaned in pain at the sight of her, while still ingrained in his mind was the memory of Buffy broken, silent and bloody being loaded into the ambulance. He crossed the room silently, knowing she heard him come in, knowing she would have known anyway.

"Your hands are red," she whispered, her lips nearly touching the glass pane. He wrapped his arms around her and nuzzled into her long dark hair.

"I know, pet," he answered, his voice muffled, "God, I know they are."

"And you've been with her," she said, tilting her head to the side to rest against his, "You've been unfaithful again."

"I'll stop seeing her and I'll help Buffy. I'll make it right, love," he choked as she turned around to face him, "Is it too late?"

"Do you love me, Spike?"

"I love you, Drusilla," he answered, gripping her narrow hips with trembling hands, "I didn't think I could love anyone, but I love you."

"She's bleeding," she said, brushing her lips against his cheek, "She can't stop it. My poor Angel can't find the wound, but you know."

"Yes," he said, "I know."

"It's time," she moaned as he pulled her into his arms. He slid his hands down her thighs and drifted along the smooth surface of her dress until he reached the bottom, draping the worn carpet on his floor. He lifted the hem, gathering the yards of fabric in his hands as her pale satin skin appeared. One more night in her arms, he told himself and then he would make it right again.


//i guess it's over now because I've never seen so much, never seen so much, so much blood in all the confusion, there's something so serene I'm just a posthumous part of the scene now I'm floating above looking in//

Angel went through the motions, numbly answering the questions of the nurses. They wouldn't let him in her room. Family only, they said. Critical condition, they said. He dialed the phone, called Spike, got Anya's number. Anya said she would handle everything, call everyone. Angel fumbled his thanks and leaned against the cool metal of the pay phone.

Family only, they said. Family? He didn't even know what that word meant. Orphaned at birth, growing up in the streets, he had no idea what family was. That was probably why he never thought to even ask Buffy about hers. Did she have a family? Mother, Father, brothers, sisters? He thought about lying to them, claiming to be some relative but he couldn't make his mind form the lies. He lowered his large frame into a chair and sat there with his head in his hands, staring at that horrible white tiled floor, wishing it would tell him everything would be okay.

"Angel!" He looked up and saw the redhead, Willow, rushing toward him, closely followed by Xander, Cordelia and Doyle.

"Is she okay?" Willow asked, sitting in the chair next to him. Doyle sat down on his other side, saying nothing but offering his presence as comfort.

"I don't know," he answered, "There was so much blood and she wouldn't wake up. God, I screamed and she wouldn't wake up..."

"What happened to your hands?" Willow asked, touching his bloody hands. He vaguely remembered a nurse or someone mentioning it, but he walked away. He didn't want a bandage, he wanted to see Buffy.

"The door wouldn't open. I told her to lock her doors. Always lock them," he mumbled, feeling a sob rising up in his chest, "I tried to break in the window. She was trapped in there..."

"But you got her out," Willow said, holding his hand loosely in hers. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. The guy she had seen was always full of confidence and larger than life. Now he was broken and shaking. She was certain he was going to cry any second. She wasn't sure what she expected his reaction to be, but this wasn't it.


"Giles!" Willow shouted, running over to jump in the older gentleman's arms. Cordelia and Xander gathered around him, as Angel watched.

"Any news?" he asked, pulling off his glasses and wiping them thoroughly before putting them back on.

"Critical condition," Angel said, rising to his feet, "They said only family could see her. She hasn't woken up yet."

"Rupert Giles," Giles said, extending his hand, "I'm Buffy's uncle. Since her father doesn't have much regard for his daughter, I am her only family."

"I'm Angel," he said, reaching out to shake Giles' hand but pulled away when they both noticed his bloody hand at the same time.

"So you're the chap," Giles said with a kind look in his eyes, "She told me about you."

"She did?"

"She doesn't talk about much else these days," Giles said, with a slight chuckle, pretending not to be nearly as worried as he was, "I'll go check on her."

"She'll be alright," Doyle said, standing at his side.

"She has to be," Angel answered grimly.

"Listen buddy," Doyle said, clapping a hand on his shoulder, "Gunn's on his way. Said something about having some news."

"About the accident?" Angel asked hopefully.

"That was no accident," Doyle replied, "Someone clipped her break line while you all were inside the hotel."


//the wailing voice//

Drusilla demanded that Spike take her with him. She wanted to be a part of it. She wanted him to know that without her there was no "right." He was beginning to understand. The first night he met her, at Angel's art show in her gallery, he knew Angel had originally planned to take her home. Spike didn't take her home that night either. He went home with Anya, but the next day he was back at her gallery.

He never fell in love before. He didn't believe in the saps that quoted poetry and went on about eternity together. He didn't love Drusilla. Not right away. Or that's what he told himself. She was perfectly insane, partially clairvoyant and rolling in wealth. He told himself he wanted her money, that he was using her and just to prove it to himself, he shagged Anya and kept shagging her. He kept reminding himself that she was just another girl to rut, that she was mad, but in the end it didn't matter. He lost himself in her arms. In bed that night, she told him what he had to do to make things right. What his conscience had already made clear, his lover demanded.

"Is she dead?" Darla asked, looking up from the fireplace with a glass of white wine in her hand.

"No," Spike said, sitting on the couch with Drusilla closely at his side.

"Guess we'll have to try again," she mused, "Wine?"

"No," Spike said, shaking his head and hardening his eyes as he looked at the beautiful blonde.

"Don't tell me you're getting a conscience now, Spike," she said, "It's not like you did anything but keep your mouth shut. Now all you have to do is continue to keep your mouth shut and everything will be fine."

"But I didn't keep my mouth shut," Spike said, wrapping an arm around Drusilla with a smile as the door busted open.

"You fucking bitch!"

"What's the problem?" Darla said, eyeing Riley Finn gravely.

"You tried to kill her," he said, moving across the room until he was standing in front her chair, fuming with anger.

"I said I would separate her and Angel," Darla said, taking a sip of her wine, "I'm doing exactly what I said I'd do."

Riley grabbed the glass from her hand and tossed it aside. Reaching down he wrapped his hand around her delicate throat

"The deal was for me to get Buffy back and for you to get Angel! When you had that fake attack set up, you promised me that nothing like that would ever happen again. You told me you wouldn't try to hurt her again. I didn't lose her just to have her die!" he said, squeezing just slightly. He felt a hard jab and saw a small hand gun pressing into his stomach. He released her and stepped away slowly, shaking in fury.

"The plan was for me to get Angel," she said, standing from her chair, "You added the Buffy part. I don't care what happens to the bitch, as long as she's not with Angel. And for the record, I never said I wouldn't hurt her. I said I wouldn't have her attacked again. I didn't."

Darla turned to smiled coldly at Spike, "I suppose you shared the news with Riley?"

"Yeah," he said, standing up and reaching out a hand to Drusilla, "I think my work here is done."

"I don't think so," she said, pointing the weapon not at Spike but at Drusilla, "There are no happy ever afters in this story, William."


//when you walked in, i said with a grin, that we were just talking about you//

"You know what I find amazing," Detective Kate Lockley said, as she sauntered up to Angel in the hospital waiting room.

"I bet you're going to tell me," Angel said, standing up again slowly. Giles had just returned to tell him that the doctors were still performing tests and they were all sitting there waiting for something to happen.

"That one person can have three different last names," she said, looking down at her notepad, "And then there's the part where the same girl is hurt violently twice within a month's time, shortly after making your acquaintance and you just happen to be there both times. Don't you think that's odd?"

"I would never hurt her," Angel said, "Why do you think I hired investigators to watch over her and protect her?"

"That's the part I don't get," she said, putting a hand on her hip, "Care to explain?"

"My friend, Charles Gunn, is an private investigator," Angel began, "I've hired him to-"

"Excuse me," Giles said, stepping in and interrupting Angel, "My apologies, Angel. Detective Lockley, please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Rupert Giles."

"Giles," she answered snidely, "If you think your money will influence me-"

"Let's not get off on the wrong foot," he said calmly, "I spoke with your chief earlier this evening. I have conducted my own investigation on the subject of my niece. I believe if you speak with him, he will inform you that Angel is not to be taken into custody today."

"You have got to be shitting me!" she raged, "He is the prime suspect of this case!"

"I understand that," Giles said, nodding solemnly, "However, my niece is currently unconscious and needs the man she loves by her side. I have my own suspicions about his character, but I will not have him taken in for questioning until she regains consciousness. Once she is lucent, we will be happy to cooperate."

"I'm speaking to the chief and then I will be back to take him in," she said, before turning on her heel and stormed from the room.

"Mr. Giles," Angel said, "I appreciate what you just did, but I need you to believe me. I would never do anything to hurt Buffy."

"I'm fairly certain you wouldn't," Giles said, "But let's focus on Buffy for now."


//if you scream in your sleep or collapse in a heap and spontaneously weep, then you know you're in deep//

When Angel finally was able to get into her room, with the help of Giles, he looked down at her fragile body, lying against those crisp hospital sheets. Tubes and wires trailed from her to several machines that monitored her. Losing the courage he had held onto so tightly, he dragged a chair to the side of her bed and then sat down in it slowly. He picked up her limp hand and kissed it before pressing it to his face.

Her skin was warm and she was breathing. The doctors had spoken to Mr. Giles in lowered tones but Angel had caught pieces of it. They thought she would regain consciousness soon. Brain damage wasn't likely but she probably had a concussion. The force of the wreck had been jarring enough for the seat belt to break three of her ribs but fortunately, she hadn't punctured her lung.

Angel held her hand in his and did what the doctors told him, he began to talk to her. He started with the important things, how much he loved her and needed her. After awhile, he began to tell her about his childhood and how he grew up, all the things he never told anyone if he could avoid it. As he waited for her to wake up, he told her funny little stories about him and Spike shoplifting candy bars at the corner store, about the woman who owned one of orphanages who called him her angel, about the boat they had found that tiny child in all those years ago.



Part Ten "Memories"


//only memories, fading memories//

Dena Franklin strolled into work twenty-five minutes late from her lunch hour, which was actually more like dinner since she worked the night shift. She was prepared to try and sneak in or think of a good excuse for being late but when she arrived at the nurses’ station, surprisingly enough, none of them even noticed she was late or that she was back at all, actually. They were whispering amongst themselves, gossiping about the recent arrival of a blonde girl who was still unconscious after three hours of being admitted to the ER.

“Her uncle is Rupert Giles,” one of her co-workers confided.

“*The* Rupert Giles,” another asked, “As in the rich and handsome Rupert Giles?”

”That would be the one. Have you seen her boyfriend?”

“The drop dead gorgeous artist who has been sitting by her bed? The things I could do to him! If only he would let someone look at his hands. He’s bleeding all over her bed, but no one can seem to get him out of there. If Dr. Thomas sees him, there’s going to be hell to pay.”

“He’s famous, you know.”


“Angel? Ring a bell? His work has been exploding all over the city.”

“Angel?” Dena asked, leaning over the counter, still holding her purse.

“Yes. Have you seen him? He’s definitely more interesting to look at than his art, I can tell you that.”

“Are you sure it’s Angel?” Dena asked, “The artist?”

“You know him?”

“I use to be involved with him,” Dena confided, moving toward the room they indicated. The other nurses stared at her as she moved toward the room in question. “Involved” was a pretty acceptable term for what they had, she supposed. It was more like raw, hedonistic sex in exciting places. He always thought of a new slightly public location to engage in indecent activities with her. Probably, the most thrilling event was what she affectionally thought of as "the restuarant night." He picked her up at her apartment that night and smiled appreciatively at her short skirt. He had a way of smiling that made her knees weak and a way of taking advantage of her weaknesses that could easily be added to the list of his other talents.

She kissed him in greeting and stepped out her apartment, locking the door as she always did and wasn't at all surprised when he stepped up behind her, pressing his groin against her ass. What did surprise her, however, was when he slipped his hand under her skirt and ripped away her silk panties. She gasped in surprise and turned to face him, watching his face slip in a cool smile as he tucked her panties into his pocket.

"Ready?" he asked casually as if he had been standing there like a choir boy the whole time.

"Um...yes," she said, nervous and excited at the same time, feeling unusually naked now.

"Don't worry," he said, as they stepped into the elevator. When the doors closed behind them, he reached between her legs, feeling her and grinning happily to see that she was already wet for him, "You're going to love this one."

He took her to an Italian resturant, plush and dim-lit, where the tables had crisp white table cloths and elegantly dressed waiters. He swirled his red wine in his glass and took a sip, rolling the liquid in his mouth for a moment before swallowing it.

Out of all the times he *had* her, in different places, in a variety of ways, of all the things he talked her into doing, that evening was the most memorable. He whispered little things to her over their expensive plates, drinking more expensive wine. The things he said would have made anyone choke on their pasta had they overheard. He relished in making her hotter and wetter with each passing moment, savoring his food without even touching her hand. By the end of the meal, she was begging him to fuck her. At that point, she wouldn't have cared if it was on the table in the middle of that exquisite restaurant or on the sidewalk out front.

The worst part of it was her own loss of dignity, her need of him to the point of whimpering across the table at him. Just a caress, just a touch would have lifted the strain but he refused. He sat there, smiling and gorgeous, his lips wrapping around his words so beautifully she wanted to lick them. He didn't touch her until they left the restaurant and at that point she was panting and dripping for him. He pressed her against the side of the building, against the rough brick. She spread lustfully for him that night and any other time he asked her to she did the same.

As she made her way down the hall to look into Buffy Summers' room, she took a deep breath. She knew that if he asked her to, she would sleep with him on the hospital floor, a few feet from where her current lover was making his rounds, the Dr. Thomas everyone was so intimidated by. Dena thought that half the women he slept with and painted were in love with him. She wasn't sure. She didn't know if she loved him, but she did know she would never refuse him.

She was shocked to see the girl, beaten and bruised, lying in the bed. Dena was thinking she would look like his other women, sophisticated and volumptuous. She wasn't more than a girl, innocent and sweet looking. She shifted her eyes to her ex-lover. He was awake but seemed to be in shock. He held her hand to his lips, elbows resting on her bed, staring at her unconscious face. His face was twisted with pain and his eyes looked anguished and blank. The other nurses said he talked to her on and off and wouldn't leave her side. They kept trying to treat his wounds but he refused. He didn't care about his injuries, only hers.

Dena stepped slowly into the room, feeling like a trespasser, "Angel?"

He looked up slowly, focusing slowly, and stared at her for a minute or two before he said, "Dena?"

"Hi," she said, feeling strange in her uniform in front of him. He probably never saw her in so many clothes, "You probably don't remember that I was-"

"In nursing school," he mumbled, looking back over at Buffy, "I remember."

"She's only been unconscious for 3 hours," Dena said, moving closer, "She'll wake up. There's no reason she wouldn't."

"I'm sorry," he said, blinking back tears, which caused Dena to swallow her gasp of surprise, "I can't...I can't talk right now."

Angel jerked when she made it to his side and gently pulled one of his bloody hands from Buffy's, "Let me bandage your hands, Angel. You can't help her if you're sick too. These could get infected."

"I'm not leaving her side," he said firmly, his jaw set in determination.

"Okay," she said softly, "I'll do it right here, right by her bed. Alright?"

He nodded slowly and watched as she moved to get bandages. She blinked back her tears as she headed out of the room. She had never seen him like that, never thought she would see him *care* that much about anyone other than himself. He was a generous lover, unselfish and giving, but when he came to emotions, he wasn't in it for that. Seeing him there, so obviously in love with that tiny blonde girl, was painful. She never thought loving Angel was an option. He always made it seem like it wasn't and maybe he was right...until now.


//call it impulsive, call it compulsive, call it insane but when i'm surrounded, i just can't stop//

Spike stepped forward and steered Drusilla until she was standing behind him, protecting her body with his. He'd never been the sort of throw yourself to the wolves type mate. He was more the protect yourself and screw everyone else type, but this woman he knew he couldn't live without.

"Isn't that sweet?" Darla sneered, "Protecting your crazy bitch? Doesn't matter. Before I let you walk out that door and spill everything to Angel, I'll kill you and then her. You should know by now that I don't give a fuck what happens to you, Spike, or anyone else for that matter."

"That's funny," Drusilla said, releasing a throaty laugh before resting her chin on Spike's shoulder, unafraid of the possibility of her own death, "You're going to kill people over Angel. Who's the mad one?"

"My man, Drusilla," she snapped back, "Is more important than your pathetic lives."

"Ah," Dru returned smiling and looking past the gun, into Darla's cold blue eyes, "I see. You must be irresistible to him."

"He can't stand the bint," Spike added and didn't flinch when Darla moved to point her gun at his chest, "He really does hate you, pet. Not sure why you keep this up."

"I asked for your silence, not your opinion!" Darla shouted. She barely finished her sentence before she fell to the floor. Spike grinned at Riley, holding her a small sculpture in his hand.

"Hey, that's one of Angel's," Spike commented, "Thanks for the save there, mate. Coulda been a bit slower though. She nearly shot me."

"It would have been a gift to the rest of the world," Riley said as he moved toward the doorway, tossing the small statue aside as if touching a piece of Angel's artwork actually caused him physical pain. He alreayd felt the bile rising in his throat and he couldn't decide whether it was for Darla, Angel or himself.

"Where do you think you're going?" Spike said, wrapping his arm around Dru's waist as they followed behind, moving in their traditional leisurely fashion.

"The hospital," Riley shouted, "My girlfriend is there, in case you forgot!"

"Actually," Spike answered, "She's Angel's girl now. If you start to forget that, I'll be glad to fill her in on all the help you gave Darla in recent past."

"You don't know what I did!" Riley answered, "I didn't do anything. I said I'd help but she kept me in the dark about everything."

"You didn't tell her everything about your little pet?" Spike countered, "You didn't tell her where Buffy was going to be at certain times? Where her gallery was? What car she drove? Where she lived? You spilled all the details so that you could risk her life for a piece of ass."

"I didn't know what Darla was going to do!"

"After Buffy was attacked by Penn, you knew what Darla was capable of and you did nothing to stop her," Spike said, strolling past him and out the door, "She'll believe me. If you try and get between her and Angel again, I'll make sure they both find out about it."

"Spike," Drusilla said, whispering in his ear once they were back out on the street. She clutched his arm possessively as they walked, wearing a soft smile of pride, "She's not safe, you know. The sky, it knows, it's not clear yet. Murky things are coming."

"I'm sure they are, love," he said, pulling her closer, "But I said I'd make it right, didn't I?"

"Yes," she answered, leaning her head on his shoulder, "You'll make it right. My Spike will always make it right."

"Eventually," he muttered.


//isn't it beautiful to see two people so much in love?//

Buffy's eyes blinked open four hours and twenty-three minutes after the crash. Angel leaned in, holding his breath as her eyes twitched and then made a sleepy little half flutter.

"Buffy?" he whispered, squeezing her hand.

"Angel?" she said weakly and then winced from the sound her own voice, ripping painfully through her head.

"I'm here," he said, moving closer and kissing her knuckles gently, waiting for her eyes to open completely. He wanted to beg her to look at him, wanted to promise her the world if he could just see her eyes and know that she was okay.

"Where am I?" she asked, finally looking at him fully.

"Hospital," he said, pressing the buzzer for the nurse, "You were in a car accident. Do you remember?"

"The brakes didn't work," she said, "I kept pushing them but the car wasn't stopping and I went through the redlight."

"Yes," he said, nodding. No amnesia. She remembered everything.


"Yes, love?"

"Can I go home now?"


//well, can you blame 'em? uh, yeah//

Angel hated cops more than Spike did. Spike thought Angel would be ripping the room apart by now if he had been forced to sit there and be patient for as long as he had been waiting. Course that had been old Angel, juvenile delinquent Angel. Gunn was the only one of their group of friends who could tolerate the police station and that was because he'd had to kiss so much polyester clad ass in the past couple of years since he'd been a detective. Well, as close to ass kissing as Gunn got anyway, which mainly consisted of telling them what they wanted to hear and then doing what he wanted to do anyway. His policy was that it was better to ask forgiveness than ask permission. Not that he ever asked for forgiveness.

Spike was reminded of the adolescent quibbles he had gotten into with Penn, Angel and Gunn as he sat in what Kate liked to call the "Conference Room." It was an interrogation room if he had ever seen one. He stared down at the cigarette burns on the plastic white table and drummed his fingers as he waited for Detective Lockley to grace him with her presence. He finally lit a cigarette and blew smoke calmly at the two sided mirror. He knew this waiting game. She thought it would make him nervous and twitchy if they stared at him like a caged animal from the other side of that glass.

Spike didn't give a flying fuck if they stared at him all godamn day just as long as he had plenty of smokes and Angel didn't overhear any of what he was about to say. If he could get through this without losing a friend, it would be a miracle. He ashed on the floor unapologetically as the pretty blonde made her way into the room.

"'Bout time, pet," he said, taking a long drag on his smoke and leaning the chair back so it balanced on two of the four legs, "Thought I was going to have to go out for a beer and come back at a better time."

"My name is Detective Lockley," she said, "And I'm sorry I kept you waiting."

"That's alright but let's get on with it already."

"You have some information about the Buffy Summer's case?"

"Oh do I," he said, dropping the chair back to resting on all fours, "Let's discuss possible outcomes of me telling you things first, love."


//take it from a fella who's been around the block so many times he knows the only parking spot that's free//

"Buffy," Xander complained as he went into her apartment a week later, with Willow following closely behind him, "I want you to be safe and all, but can you do something about the bodyguard outside your front door? Guy looks like a freight train and everytime I come here he acts like he doesn't remember me."

"Tommy?" Buffy asked, "He's really sweet once you get to know him. He's just doing his job."

"He doesn't look very sweet to me," Xander grumbled. Willow smiled and patted his shoulder, "It's okay, Xand."

"Where's your crazy boyfriend?" Xander asked, craning his neck to look around the apartment.

"He went home," Buffy said, "I asked him to give us some time to hang out."

"He has a home?" Xander blustered, "He hasn't left your side since the accident. I thought maybe he gave up his own place in moved in here so he could growl at anyone who dared look at you."

"Don't be an ass, Xander," Willow said, nudging him with her elbow.

"Don't like that guy," Xander mumbled underneath his breath as he moved to sit on the love seat with Willow.

"What?" Willow asked accusingly.

"What do you want for dinner?" He ammeded, smiling at the dirty looks he was receiving from his two female companions, "What? Aren't you hungry?"


Part Eleven “Night”


By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it!

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies


DEDICATION: For Mystic, who is designing my website, which will hopefully be out soon. Thank you, Mystic! You're an angel and a talented one at that. (You guys don't want to know what it would look like if I had attempted to do it myself. It would have been scarey. Very, very scarey. *G*)


//it just measures up the distance//

Buffy sat alone in her apartment for the first time in over a month. She stared at her book and shifted uncomfortably as she tried to set herself at ease. She thought she wanted an evening to herself and after talking Angel into going out with his friends and convincing her own friends that she wanted an evening of alone time, she found her apartment miserably lonely.

She set her book down and wandered onto the balcony to stare out into the night. It was one of the rare occasions that stars could actually been seen over the city and she smiled at them gratefully. She thought about calling Angel, but talked herself out of it. He deserved a night out with his buddies, drinking and having a good time. It wasn't fair that he felt he had to babysit her all the time.

She ran a hand absently over her nearly healed ribcage and wondered if he would ever touch her again like he had that one wonderful night before the car accident. All the nights since then had been filled with snuggling and gentle kisses but he never let his hands wander, never tried to spark anything more. He held her like he expected her to break any moment and broke off embraces that lasted a fraction too long.

When a knock sounded on her door, she jerked in surprise and hurried back inside to answer it, thinking it must be Angel. Even though he had a key, he never used it. She was glowing in happiness and smiling brightly when she answered the door, only to have it fade when she saw Riley standing there.

"Hi," she said, looking at him questioningly.

"Hi," he said, uneasily, "Can I come in? I'd like to talk to you for a minute."

She stepped back and allowed him to enter, glad for the first time that evening that Angel wasn't there. He would not have been pleased at all about Riley's unannounced visit. She gestured to the couch and sat down in her cream colored overstuffed chair to keep the distance between them.

"I wanted to see how you were," he said, perching nervously on the edge of the couch, "I heard about the accident."

"I'm fine," she said, "Almost all healed up."

"That's good," he said, nodding slowly.

"How are you?"

"I'm okay," he said, running a hand through his hair, "Actually, I'm not so good. I miss you, Buffy. I was hoping you would think about giving me another chance."

"I'm sorry," she said gently, "I'm seeing Angel."

"I heard," he grumbled, "I'm not trying to bad mouth him...actually, I'd love to. He's used more women in this town than you would believe. I'm afraid he's going to hurt you."

"I can take care of myself," she said, raising her chin in defiance, "And I know all about his past. That doesn't mean anything to me."

"Buffy," he said, moving over and sitting on the ottoman in front of her, "I can make things right between us. I know I can. Can you just give me a chance?"

"I'm don't think so, Riley," she answered, "I don't want to hurt you, I just...I'm seeing Angel now."

"You already said that," he said harshly, "He's going to break your heart."

"He won't," she whispered.

"When he does," he said, standing and heading toward the door, "I'll be here."

"Don't wait for me," she said, trying to fill her words with as much confidence as possible.

"I have to," he said, before stepping out of her door and closing it gently behind him, "I love you."

Buffy stood up and looked at the closed door for a moment before slipping on shoes and grabbing her purse. All of a sudden her apartment seemed too big or too small or both. Either way, it was frustratingly empty. Once outside, she passed up her car with a nervous glance. It had been fixed weeks before and she had even driven it, but since the accident she avoided it at all costs. She went over to where Tommy was sitting in his car and leaned in the window.

"Hey there," he said with a smile, "Saw your ex visit."

"Yeah," she said, biting her lower lip, "Can you take me to Angel's? I don't want to stay at home tonight. I figured since you're going to follow me anyway, maybe you wouldn't mind..."

"Sure, honey," he answered, unlocking the doors as she circled the car to climb in, "You know he's out with Gunn and the guys, right?"

"I have a key," she said, holding up one of the keys on her keyring for him to see after she had climbed in and navigated her footing around the fast food containers and soda cans.

"He gave you a key to his apartment?" Tommy said, nearly shouting in surprise at her as he pulled out the parking lot.

"Yes," she said, "Why? Something wrong with that?"

"Nope," he said, shaking his head with an incredulous smile, "Uh-uh."


//i discovered alcohol forget the caffe latte screw the raspberry iced tea//

The beer was bitter, cold and heavenly as Angel swallowed the end of his first glass quickly and slammed it on the counter. Doyle, knowing his friend's torments of the heart and soul recently, smiled at him and gave him a refill on the house. He made short work of the second glass as Spike slid onto the stool next to him.

"Your dog die, mate?" Spike asked with a grin, "Or are you still suffering from not shagging your girl?"

"Bite me," Angel answered, taking another gulp of liquid assurance, thanking God that Doyle was such a good friend and quick with the refills.

"That's what I thought," he said as he accepted the whiskey neat set before him by his friend and bartender, "How long's he been drowning his sorrows, Doyle?"

"Not nearly long enough," Doyle answered with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Yeah," Gunn offered from the other side, "I'm surprised he hasn't been here every night after Buffy's side."

"You know what the strangest thing is about all this," Angel said, tracing his fingers in the side of the frosty glass, "Is that Detective Lockley never came back to take me in for questioning."

"Really?" Spike said, raising an eyebrow in mock surprise, "Well, that is strange. Maybe they found the responsible party."

"Wouldn't they have told Buffy?" Angel mused.

"What about her uncle?" Doyle offered, "He seemed to have his fingers in a few of the pots around the city."

"Maybe," Angel said, taking another drink, "I guess I'll call her this week and see if they came up with anything new."

"And get arrested?" Spike said quickly, "No mate, maybe you should just wait for them to remember you instead of reminding them."

"If they haven't arrested me already..."

"Believe me," Spike offered, downing his whiskey and sliding it across the bar, "It's bloody idiotic to go to the police station, mate. Just watch out for your little cutie. Where is she anyway?"

"At home," Angel said, gloomily.

"By herself?" Spike asked with surprise.


"Are you out of your gob?! You haven't slept with her and you leave her alone on a Friday night?"

"What?" Angel asked, almost feeling the rain pelt on him from the dark cloud he was sure was hanging above the bar, "She told me to go out. She wanted me to take some time to hang out with you jerks."

"And you listened to her?" Gunn asked, piping in again.

"Well...yeah," Angel said, "I shouldn't have?"

"You *should* being fucking the life out of the girl," Spike grunted, taking a swallow of the new drink in front of her.

"She's gonna think you don't want her," Doyle added.

"But I do want her!" Angel yelled, "She knows that."

"Does she, mate?" Spike asked, "Cause it's only a matter of time before some other nancy boy prances up and touches her the right way and-"

"No one's going to be touching her," Angel growled, eyeing his friend angrily.

"Really?" Spike said, "Hope you're right mate. Poor girl, been through all that pain and hurt, only to sit home by herself thinking about how you haven't made love to her yet."

"What are you trying to do to me?" Angel said, "She's not ready for that."

"She's not or you're not?" Spike asked.

"You don't shit about her."

"I know women, Peaches," Spike said, "And I would have thought you did by now. You've slept with half the women in this town. I bet your little blondie is wondering why you would sleep with everyone else and not her."

"No, she's not," Angel said, knocking back the rest of this beer and pleading with Doyle silently to refill it.

"Alright," Spike said, holding up his hands.

"Why do you care, anyway?" Angel asked, "You're just waiting for me to screw this up so you can slither your way into her life."

"Damn right," Spike said, honestly, "She'll need someone's shoulder to cry on."

"It better not be yours."

"You say that like you're already expecting to lose her," Doyle said, ignoring for the moment the onslaught of Friday night traffic as he drifted in and out of his friends' conversation.

"I hope I don't."

"Well, Cordy seems to think you're an asshole," Doyle said, grinning, "I keep tellin' her she's right and she just keeps agreeing with me."

"Thanks a lot, Doyle."

"Don't mention it."


//just try to figure out what all this is for it's the perfect time of day to throw all your cares away//

Buffy made her way into Angel's apartment and couldn't believe the stifling heat in there. It made sense that he would keep the air off since he was never there anyway, but she had already broken into a sweat before she made it to the windows. She opened them one by one and breathed a sigh of relief as fresh air swept through place, making it infinitely more comfortable in a manner of minutes.

After she opened every window in the apartment, she laid down on the couch and thought about why she had even gone there in the first place. He wouldn't be angry about her going there, she knew that, but she still felt she was violating his space. She didn't feel bad enough about it go home though. His apartment made her feel more safe and secure, like nothing would hurt her if she was there. She kicked off her shoes and curled up, falling fast asleep on his sofa.

She jerked awake an hour later when the phone rang and she ran to answer it, but paused. Deciding against it, she let the answering machine pick up, feeling slightly guilty for listening to the message that someone was about to leave. After four rings, she heard his sexy, rumbling voice speaking, asking the caller to leave a message.

"Angel," a high pitched female voice crooned, "It's Brenda. Are you there? Guess not. Call me soon, lover."

Buffy winced with the word "lover" and sat by the phone for a few minutes. She hadn't really taken the time to think about all the women he had slept with. At least, she tried to force it from her mind when it wandered in that direction. She was sure he wanted her. Well, she was pretty sure she was sure, but he hardly touched her, barely let their kisses rise to the point of passion. He said he had stopped seeing the other women, that she was the only one he wanted, but if that was true, then how come he hadn't made love to her yet?

She chided herself for her thoughts as she headed back to the couch. He spent every night in her bed, just about. There was no way he was seeing anyone else. Besides, she had been attacked and then with the car accident, she was sure he just wanted to make sure she was ready. She smiled with her reasoning. Still feeling overheated, she slipped off her jeans and laid down once more. She reminded herself again and again that he did want her, she was attractive and when he came home, she would remember that it was all true.


//just get on the phone tell her you're coming home if you need her, you should be there//

After few too many, Angel allowed Spike to drive him home and thought about calling Buffy on the way. He looked at his watch and realized she would be fast asleep by then. He groaned in irritation. What a useless waste of an evening. He spent the whole time drinking, thinking about her, defending his actions to his friends and trying to keep three of his ex-lovers from molesting him.

"Glad you're not going to see Buffy tonight," Spike said nonchalantly as he steered his car toward Angel's apartment.

"Why?" Angel slurred, thinking just the opposite.

"Cause you reek like beer, smoke and perfume from the bints crawling all over you tonight and there's lipstick on your collar."

"Jesus," Angel swore, flipping the visor to look in the mirror and taking several seconds to focus on a red smudge there just as Spike had said.

"Yeah," Spike said, with a smile "But good show with the self control. I wouldn't have made it out of there without at least one blow job. Actually, I didn't."

"Great," Angel spat sarcastically, "I'm so happy for you."

"Knew you would be," Spike answered as he pulled into the apartment complex's parking lot, "By the way, I want to borrow your motorcycle."

"You're just asking me now ‘cause I'm drunk."

"Good call," Spike said, "What do you say?"

"Don't care," Angel said, knowing it was the liquor speaking just as much as Spike did. There was no way he would have agreed so easily otherwise. Spike followed him up to his apartment and walked in behind his stumbling friend.

"Hot as hell in here, mate," Spike complained, "Don't you believe in air conditioning?"

"Never here anymore," he said as he moved toward the answering machine and pressed the blinking button in the dark, anxious to see if it was Buffy, instead finding Brenda's voice there. He deleted it with disappointment as Spike flipped on the lights. He turned with the sound of Spike's whisper, "Holy shit."

On the couch, lay Buffy completely, gloriously naked except for a pair of white lace panties. Her hair fanned around her, curling over her shoulders and her full breasts were in full, perfect view. Angel nearly tripped as he moved across the room to stand in front of her, blocking Spike's view.

"Bedroom," Angel ordered, pointing toward the room in question, "Go in the bedroom."

"Why?" Spike asked, leaning a bit to see if he could get another look at her, "Are there more naked women in there?"

"No," Angel said, in a low, dangerous voice, "the motorcycle keys are in there on my dresser. Get them and get the hell out."

"Relax, mate," Spike said, strolling down the hallway and taking a deep breath as he did, still seeing her golden skin and lovely body in his mind as he went, "You're the one who keeps it so hot in here that a girl has no choice but to take off her clothes."

Angel quickly took off his shirt, intending to cover her with it, only to glimpse the lipstick stained collar. He tossed it aside and grabbed the blanket that hung on the back of the couch. It was hot as hell but he didn't care. Spike wasn't going to see one more square inch of her body. He stood there next to the couch looking down on her until Spike returned, taking his sweet time, with the keys.

"Getting undressed already?" Spike noted, nodding at his friend's bare chest.

"Goodbye, Spike," Angel said irritably.

"See ya, Peaches."


Part Twelve "The Real Me"

DEDICATION: For Nina. Feel better and SOON!


//i think it's getting to the point where i can be myself again i think it's getting to the point where we have almost made amends i think it's getting to the point that is the hardest part and if you call, i will answer and if you fall, I'll pick you up and if you court this disaster, i'll point you home//

Buffy woke up, not on the couch as she expected, but in Angel's bed covered in a crimson silk sheet. The comforter was tossed aside, folded back over the bed. She glanced over to find his side empty and frowned. She inhaled the cool air, heard the light humming of the air conditioner and looked over to see that he had closed the windows in the bedroom.

She stood and was initially surprised that she was nearly naked, before vaguely remembering shedding her clothes because of the suffocating temperature. Goose bumps appeared all over her body and her nipples hardened in complaint of the now cool air. She wandered over to his closet and opened it. She shuffled through his shirts, sliding them over the bar until she found one she liked and pulled it on. She stood in the open closet door, buttoning the shirt and looking down over the unorganized mountain of dirty clothes covering the entire expanse of the closet floor. She smiled and nearly giggled at his mess. It was a good thing he had so many clothes because it didn't look like he did laundry too often. He probably just bought new ones instead of washing the others.

As she was about to turn away, the shirt on top caught her eye and she bent over to pick it up. A smudge of bright red lipstick decorated the collar and her hands shook as she brought the piece of clothing to her nose. Inhaling slowly, she caught the faint scent of not one woman's perfume but at least two buried inside the smell of alcohol and smoke.

With tears filling her eyes, she dropped it and hurried into the living room, almost praying that he had gone back out with one of his lovers rather than staying there where she would have to face him. Her prayers were not met. She found him standing at the windows, freshly showered and wearing a pair of Levis that fit him *too* well. She ran over to the couch and scrambled to silently put on her jeans and nearly gasped inside her quiet sob as he turned around.

"Buffy," he said, walking over to her, "What's wrong?"

"Right," she snapped, unable to keep the tears from pouring from her eyes, "It shouldn't be too hard for you to figure out."

"What are you talking about?" he asked, holding her shoulders in his hands. Whatever alcohol was still in his system, fled as the sobering reality of her angry pain met him.

"I saw the shirt you wore tonight," she said, "Maybe you were too *busy* to think about hiding the evidence."

"Lipstick on the collar," he groaned, closing his eyes for a second, "Buffy, listen, I did not do anything with anyone tonight. I swear, baby. I ran into one of my ex...um...someone I was involved with before and she was hitting on me. I pushed her away."

"Don't call me, ‘baby,'" she said, stepping out of his arms and grabbing her shoes before she headed for the door. Angel ran, or more accurately, sprinted, toward the door and slammed his back against it to keep her from leaving.

"Am I your prisoner now?" she demanded, crossing her arms over her chest, feeling his shirt billowing around her, as her shoes dangled from one hand.

"No," he said, shaking his head sadly, "You can leave whenever you want, but just please give me a second to explain."

"Fine," she said, dropping her shoes on the floor by the door angrily, "Whatever."

"I would *never* do anything to hurt you," he began, words tumbling from his mouth in a stream of panic, "I haven't slept with, kissed or done anything else with another woman since I met you. Believe me, if I didn't want to be with you, I wouldn't be. I've always been sexually active but all my lovers knew that I wasn't dishonest with them. Buffy, I'm not lying. I love you. I only want to be with you."

"All your lovers," she breathed angrily, "Including Brenda on the answering machine?"

"Brenda too," he answered, feeling shame rise in his chest, "She's been calling me on and off for the last couple of months. I used to sleep with her regularly, but not anymore."

"I don't know if I should believe you," she said, turning from him and crossing the room, feeling if she had to spend one more second looking into his eyes or the muscular expanse of chest in front of her that she wouldn't have the strength she needed.

"I don't know how to convince you," he said to her back, "Except to ask you if I have ever given you a reason not to trust me. Except for my past, have I ever done anything to make you think you couldn't trust me? Buffy, I'm new at this love thing. I'll admit that, but I'm not stupid. I wouldn't do anything to risk losing you."

He watched as her shoulders began to shake and then, seconds later, emerged the sound of her sobs. He crossed the room and hesitated before circling her and pulling her into his arms. She allowed it, spilling tears on his bare chest, seeping through his skin and breaking his heart.

"I love you, Buffy," he repeated, kissing the top of her head. It was almost as if his words renewed her strength and she pulled out of his arms, stepping back.

"If you love me so damn much, then how come you won't touch me?" she demanded, fire streaking through her eyes, "You haven't even tried to make love to me once since we've been together. It's curious how many people tell me what a whore you are and then you refuse to make love to the woman you *supposedly* love. Don't you think that's interesting? I sure as hell do. Angel, if you don't really love me, if you aren't attracted to me, then just tell me now. I can't stand living this...whatever this is, if it's a lie."

"It's not!" he shouted, returning her anger with his own, "You want to know why I haven't tried to make love to you? Fine! I'll tell you. First, there was the attempted rape by a man I thought was my friend. Then there was the car accident where you nearly died and the men I hired couldn't even protect you from that outside their own damn office. The police are no fucking help. I have women throwing themselves at me whenever I'm not with you. Every time I come home, there's a message on my answering machine from an ex-lover inviting me to fuck them. And do you know what I do? I take a cold shower and go to see you! Buffy, something is not right here. My life is fucked up and it's fucking your life up too and I don't know how to make it better. I know you keep getting hurt because of me and I am powerless to stop it! I've never felt this godamn helpless in my entire, horrible life. All I know is that to me sex has always been that - sex - meaningless gratification. I don't want that with you. I want to make love to you but I don't want it to be cheap or less than what it should be. I don't want to hurt you for any reason. Ever. If you want me to make love to you tonight and every night for the rest of your life I will, but what happens on the day when you wake up and decide that I'm not the right guy for you, that you gave your virginity to a *whore?*"

Buffy took another step back and stared at him for a second. He was breathing heavily and his eyes were a strange mixture of fury and devotion like nothing she had ever seen. The only way to describe it was passion. God, she loved this man. All of him. She loved his overprotectiveness and his uneven communication skills. She loved the way he touched her and the way he didn't. She felt new tears slipping from her eyes, trying to decide what to do. He closed the distance between them and dropped to his knees before her, pressing his face against her abdomen as real tears, personifying every drop of pain he had experience in his life, poured out of him.

"Buffy," he choked as he held himself tightly against her, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, love."

She stood there for a moment, looking down at the man kneeling before her, showing real, raw, base emotion. She threaded her fingers through his short, spiky hair and slid the other around his broad shoulders, holding him to her for a few moments before dropping to her knees as well. She placed her hands on both sides of his face and pulled his face to hers, forcing him to meet her eyes.

"I love you, Angel," she whispered, "I want to be with you. I want you to make love to me tonight and every other night, but only if you want to...only if you want me."

"I want you," he said, "More than I've ever wanted anything else."

She bit her bottom lip to keep a fresh stream of tears from escaping and he stood, pulling her up with him before sweeping her into his arms and carrying her to the bedroom.


//even a eunuch won't resist the magic of a kiss from such as you//

Angel found himself standing in his bedroom, kissing Buffy as if his life depended on the success of that moment. He held her, suspended and against his chest, too involved in her sweet lips to wonder if she would ever begin to feel heavy. For someone so small, she breathed a passion and life in one kiss unequaled to nights making love to his other lovers.

Finally, he set her on her feet and unbuttoned the shirt she had stolen from his closet, holding his breath as the beautiful torso that he hadn't seen for over a month was revealed. He pulled her into his arms again and kissed her, bare chest against bare chest, denim against denim. He couldn't believe he was actually nervous about this, but he was. He kissed her neck as his hands moved to her waist, unbuttoning her jeans and unzipping them. He moved down to her breasts as he slid them off of her hips and down. She moaned as he caught one of her erect nipples between his teeth, biting down hard enough to make her groan, before sucking it roughly into his mouth. He moved to the other breast as he pulled her pants off, leaving her in her panties.

As he made his way back up to her lips, she reached for the button of his pants and he tensed for a second, then relaxed as she unzipped them. She mirrored the movement he had before, sliding them off of his hips. His erect cock bounced free and she felt a simultaneous twinge of arousal, fear and surprise. He hadn't bothered to put on boxers after his shower and so there was no barrier now that she removed his jeans. He stepped out of them and she nervously allowed him to pull her back to his arms, feeling his erection pressing against her stomach.

"Don't worry, love," he whispered, "I won't hurt you."

"I know," she said, shakily and meant it, but it didn't ease her fear. He slipped her panties away and then laid her down on his bed gently. He moved crouched over her and kissed her for a long time, feeling her begin to relax, delving deeper into his mouth, allowing her hands to move over him tentatively at first and then more daring, but keeping away from non-neutral zones.

He moved down her body, slowly, taking his time as he explored her body, worshiping her and giving her time to become accustomed to his touch. He kissed over her tender ribs and dipped into her adorable belly button before moving over her thighs. He kissed her inner thighs as he ran his hands lightly over the outside of them, moving up to her narrow hips and back down.

He spread her wider and he dipped in to taste her, laving his tongue over every contour of her, lashing at her clit and sucking it into his mouth, only to avoid it until she squirmed and whimpered beneath him. He smiled as he nibbled at her tender bud again, scraping his teeth gently over it and relishing in her jerks of pleasure. He settled there as he felt her climax building, lapping at it again and again until she was moaning and panting beneath him, lifting her hips from the bed to press harder against him. He sucked it into his mouth and heard her cry out as she climaxed. He held her thighs apart as she bucked and trembled. Greedily, he lapped up the juices escaping, giving her no mercy.

He kissed his way back up her flushed skin and after a long time of focusing on her torso and breasts, he made his way to her waiting lips. She kissed him deeply, tasting herself in his mouth. He entered her slowly, feeling her stretch to accept him. She paused and tensed as she felt the intrusion of his cock. He groaned as he felt her inner muscles tense and tighten around him. The feel of her tight, wet entrance squeezing the head of his cock was agonizing divinity.

He kissed her again, smooth his hands over the soft planes of her body. She began to relax again after a moment and he settled his fingertips on her sensitive clit, rubbing lightly. She moaned into his mouth as he continued to kiss her and felt her thighs open wider once more. He pressed in a little further, until he was pressing against her virginity. Knowing the pain was inevitable, he increased the pressure and speed of his fingers on her clitoris, waiting for her second orgasm to arrive. As she began neared climax, she thrust up against him and he moved down, breaking the barrier. Her eyes flew open and she gasped in new pain as he settled inside her, still not filling her fully and felt the waves of her orgasm come over her. She panted in pleasure and pain as he pushed in further, feeling her spasm and flex around him.

Slowly and gently, he pulled way and moved back in, waiting for her to join him in his thrusts. Each movement was angled to press against her clit, sending jolts of pleasure through her with each stroke. Finally, and much to his happiness, she moved up to meet him, digging her fingers into his broad shoulders. She moaned his name as he increased the speed of his movements.

He waited, gritting his teeth to hold on until she joined him. He felt her nearing the edge once more and groaned, as if the sound would increase the arrival of her release. She slammed back up against him as she came and he released his seed inside her, moaning her name as she shouted his.


//you can't believe it but it's true, she's given everything to you//

Angel woke up shortly after he had fallen asleep and looked down at his lover. Her tousled head rested on his chest, her fingertips burning heat into his abdomen, her eyes closed peacefully. He smiled down at her and felt like pinching himself out of this dream. She gave him her heart, her virginity and her trust. And now she lay in his arms. For the first time in his life, he felt warm and loved. He felt like at thirty, life had just begun.

Buffy must have felt his unwavering stare, because after awhile, her eyes fluttered open. She first saw the hard marble skin of her lover and glanced up to see chocolate brown eyes looking down at her. Instantly remembering the night before, she blushed beneath his gaze.

"Hi," she said sleepily.

"Morning, love."

"Is it morning already?" she asked with pouted lips that begged to be kissed. Angel easily pulled her up to cover him, sliding her over his body deliciously and took her mouth with his.

"Technically," he said, nodding at the window, "but the sun hasn't risen yet."

"Good. I'm not ready to leave yet. You're...you're not ready for me to leave yet, are you?"

"I'll never be ready for you to leave," he answered honestly, his voice rough from sleeping. She felt his arousal against her and in spite of the soreness she felt, she couldn't help but be excited by it. He still wanted her, even after she had shown how little she knew about lovemaking the night before. She blushed again and wondered if she would spend the whole morning blushing at him, wanting him.

"Sorry," he whispered, placing another kiss on her silky lips, "I can't help it. Doesn't mean that we have to make love again if you aren't ready."

"I don't know," she answered truthfully, while her insides churned for him, while need laced through her, leaving scorching trails of heat lancing through her veins. The fire that welled up inside her and the want for her lover was something that wasn't new with the recent lovemaking. She always felt it in his arms, as if the whole world was burning for him. He smiled down at her as he saw the lust in her eyes. Wrapping his arms more tightly around her, he kissed her intoxicating lips again.

"That's okay, baby," he said, smoothing his hands over her skin. She felt softer than satin and if he were allowed to only touch her bare skin until the end of time, it would be enough to sate him...almost. He didn't need to make love to her again. He could take the memory with him until the end of time and find happiness there, but damn, he wanted to so much the thought made his heart pound.

"I...I want to," she blurted, more aroused by the second as his large hands wandered over her body, keeping from erogenous zones but his feather light touch felt like a million kisses on her skin.

"Are you sure? Because we don't have to," he whispered, looking intently into her eyes.

"Yes," she said and waited for his response. He rolled them over carefully, placing her softly against the pillows and watched her hair flutter against the crimson pillow case. As he prepared to make love to her again, he realized that they hadn't used protection the night before. Taking a deep breath, he tried to make himself not hyperventilate, because he realized that once again he had completely fucked things up.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, watching the emotions fly across his face.

"You're not on the pill, are you?"

Her eyes widened with the same thought that he just had, affirming his suspicions. Some women took the pill for other reasons, so she *could* have been on it, but he sincerely doubted it. Now he knew for sure even before she choked out the word "no."

"Damn," he said, "I'm sorry. I should have thought about it, but I didn't and...damn."

"That's kinda what I was thinking," she said, "But it's not your fault. We were both there last night."

"I have a drawer full of condoms right there," he said, pointing at the bedside table, "I'm just a fucking moron."

"Angel," Buffy said, pulling her on top of him, "There's nothing we can do about it now, so reach in the drawer and get a condom and make love to me. Whatever happens we'll deal."


"Angel," she said, kissing him lightly and biting his lower lip, "Are we going to fight about what we can't control or are you going to make love to me?"

"I'm going to make love you," he growled, the words rumbling angrily in his chest.

"Good," she said, "Because I want to feel you inside me again."

His growl turned into a moan of desire as he kissed her and reached into the drawer.


Part Thirteen "Moving Parts"


//call me crazy but it really doesn't matter all that matters to me is she her life in a nutshell no way would she want it to change me it's not that easy cause my time is often decided for me, for me//

"So, let me get this straight," Gunn said, squinting into the sun at the baseball game ahead of him rather than looking at his friend, "She might possibly be pregnant and you don't care?"

"That came out wrong," Angel said, taking a bite of his hotdog. There was always something so much better about hotdogs when you get them at the ballpark. It must be some sort of process that's done to them there and nowhere else - unless, of course, the mind feels the need to compensate because you just spent 5 times more on this hotdog than you would for a whole package at the store, "I *do* care. Of course, I care. I'm just...not upset about it. I'm not panicking, that's what I'm saying."

"Alrighty then," Gunn said, nodding absently, "I have just one response to that."

"I'm listening."

"Either you marry her," Gunn threatened, "Or I'm taking you to rehab cause it's love or you're in some serious shit."

"I love her," he said, "I don't know how it happened."

"I wouldn't go spreading this around," Gunn said, with a grin, "It's already ruinin' your reputation."

"Another thing I really don't care about," Angel said seriously, "But don't tell anyone about the might be pregnant thing."

"I won't," Gunn said, "But I can't believe you're not freaking out. Remember the last time you had a scare? I thought we were going to have to administer first aid! The guys were arguing about who was going to tackle you and take you to the mental hospital."

"That was different."


"The girl," Angel said with a faraway smile, "She wasn't Buffy."

The grunt of half appreciation, half irritation coming from his friend was lost on Angel as he thought about the previous night and that morning. Strange as it was, he couldn't see a downside of having a child to share with Buffy. Not on his end anyway. He could almost see her round little belly and the glow that always radiated from pregnant women. His only worry really, was that she was worried. That thought alone made him wonder if Gunn should tackle him and cart him off to the closest place with nice people in clean white coats because he knew he was crazy for that girl.


//i am crazy just like you i am crazy just like you//




"Yeah," Buffy sighed a second time, sinking into Willow's couch, which was the best thing about her apartment. They termed the massive and abhorrently ugly piece of furniture "The Couch of Slack" years ago because once you sat on it, you never wanted to get up again. When she talked it out of her mom after graduation, Buffy was incredibly envious that her friend had managed to finagle her parents out of it. It was the perfect centerpiece for long conversations and movie nights. If only they could find someone brave enough to attempt to reupholster the thing, it would be perfect.

"Are you okay?" Willow asked, leaning forward to look into her friend's eyes, or actually sinking forward, "I mean, what if you are pregnant?"

"I don't know," Buffy mused, wiggling as she slid further down, "I'm terrified and excited and freaked out, but somehow I know it's going to be okay, you know? Like, whatever happens, I think Angel will be there."

"What did he say?"

"Well, first he beat himself up about it," she said, smiling at the memory, "And then he was sweet and supportive. It was almost as if I had already told him I was pregnant. I was surprised he hadn't started buying nursery furniture."

"Really?" Willow asked, trying to imagine her friend's taciturn, dark and sexy boyfriend not flipping over the possibility of Buffy's possible predicament. She couldn't wrap her mind around it.

"Yeah. It was the strangest thing," she said, sighing, "And the most adorable. I guess we'll just wait and see what happens. Anyway, enough about me. How are you and Xander doing?"

"Good," Willow said, turning a bright shade of pink, "He's moving in."

"What?!! When?"

"This week," Willow exclaimed as if she had been trying to hold in that little piece of information for their entire visit and now she couldn't keep it down one more second, "He transferred his job here and I don't know. I think it's going to be...you know...for good this time."

"He's really staying?" Buffy asked, feeling her eyes begin to tear up in happiness. She and Willow both had waited for this for so long, it almost seemed impossible now. Almost.


//i wax poetic while you're waxing your legs and you say you think there's a traitor among us if all else fails, you can blame it on me.//

"I knew you'd be back," Darla said when Riley Finn stormed into her apartment.

"I just came to make sure you understand that all bets are off," Riley said, helping himself to a chair in her living room and watched her with his cold blue eyes as she sauntered across the room and sat on the couch, "You need to stay away from Buffy. I don't care what happens to *him* but Buffy is out of this."

"You think you're driving here?" Darla answered with a throaty laugh, "That's amusing. You're just a little boy, Riley. You can't control me."

"I'm not going to sit back while you destroy the woman I love," he shouted angrily, "If I have to I will go to Angel and tell him everything. I'll tell him how you are the bitch who was behind all of Buffy's recent incidents."

"No, you won't."

"And why not?"

"Because you know if you do that, you lose Buffy. Forever. She'll never trust you again. She'll never even speak to you again. I'll make sure that they both know about your involvement in this."

"You conniving..." he started and then took a deep breath, "I'm willing to lose her just to make sure she's safe."

"No, you aren't."

"You have no idea what I'm capable of."

"That's my line, lover boy," she answered, "But it's okay, because the plan's changing. You'll like this one. It's the one where we both win."

"I'm not playing your mind games, Darla," he said, standing up, "You screw everything up and I'm the one who ends up sweeping up your carnage."

"If we play this right," Darla said with a smile that made him sit back down, "We'll both get what we want. Buffy will never trust Angel again when I'm done. Promise."

"Fill me in," Riley said angrily, "And this is your last chance."


//i realized it's all my fault but couldn't tell you//

Spike groaned with frustration when the phone rang and pulled Drusilla closer to his side. Every ring forced him further from the exhausted sleep he was in. When the answering machine picked up, he sighed thankfully and prepared to go back to sleep, until he heard Detective Kate Lockley's annoying female voice chime in, "Spike? Pick up. I know you're there."

"Don't you have a life, Kate?" Spike demanded as he picked up the phone with one hand, keeping his eyes closed.

"Listen," she said, "If you don't want me to involve Buffy and Angel in this investigation, then you're going to have to help me. We don't have enough evidence to even hold Darla for a night."

"I told you everything I know," he said, feeling his patience wearing thin. He looked down at Drusilla who had opened her bright eyes and was giving him that look. You know the look. The damn look that said he had to help straighten out the mess he had helped begin.

"Spike," she said quietly in that lilting morning voice that made his heart skip a beat. She didn't have to say anything else. He knew what she meant but he pressed the phone against his chest and looked down at her anyway.

"I told her everything, pet," he promised, "Everything. I even gave her pictures for crying out loud."

Drusilla shook her dark head sadly and started to sit up in bed. Whenever she touched him she felt the darkness. The visions of upcoming disaster were getting worse and she knew that if he didn't do something, she would never be able to touch him without that contemptible feeling inside her. He reached out and seized her arm, pulling her back into bed as he raised the phone back to his ear.

"What the bloody hell do you need me to do?"

"Glad you're on board," Kate said sternly.

"Whatever," he snapped back, "Let's get on with it, then, shall we?"


//what a pretty girl//

Buffy, despite the challenge, was able to extract herself from Willow's couch and head back to her apartment to prepare for her date with Angel. Date. The word had an innocent Willow-esque quality to it, as did her giddiness. She turned on the stereo and danced around the apartment as she showered and dressed. She felt as if the air was lighter today than yesterday and the night was slightly more romantic than it had ever been.

She looked in the mirror at the finished product and asked herself again what Angel loved about her. It almost didn't matter. The feeling was so engulfing and purely marvelous, it ate away her questions or doubts. She straightened her dress and adjusted her hair a final time as she heard him knocking on the door - or actually, banging since her music was up so loud. She hurried through the apartment to get to the door and stopped short when he stepped inside, holding his keys.

"I didn't think you heard me," he said, fidgeting with his keys for a second before slipping them in his pocket.

"You used your key," she said, grinning at him.

"Well, you gave me one," he stammered, "And I knocked, but the music...God, you're beautiful."

"So are you," she said, looking over him hungrily.

He crossed the room and kissed her gently, plucking sweets from her red lips. He looked over her again, from the top of her upswept hair, leaving the sexy arch of her neck bare, down her toned legs to her little feet. The dress was form fitting and left irresistible cleavage there that begged him to kiss it. He held in the urge to take her to bed instead of taking her out and smiled.

"Ready, gorgeous?"


//but now it seems all that people want is what i used to be, and every time i try to do something new, all they want is...//

Dinner was exquisite and Buffy almost felt like he was trying to seduce her even though he was well aware that she would sleep with him again...and again. It's interesting how much they learned about each other just over a meal. Everything from the doors he opened for her to the way he sat in his chair, told her volumes about him. He reached across the table from time to time, caressing her fingers for a moment as if he had forgotten how her skin felt. Every touch came just in time to quell her own urge to touch him.

They memorized each other's faces, loving the chance to be able to stare without cause for remorse. The way their lips moved and formed the words, the way they ate and drank - everything was something new without being new at all.

Their evening walk to the club several blocks away was just another part of the dreamland he was wrapping her in. It was perfect. When they passed through the doors, she gaped at the people there, stunned by the amount of skin and beauty flashing before her eyes. They were all dressed for show, moving their bodies to the beat that pulsed through the room.

Angel checked over his date for her approval rating and was relieved to see her beaming smile returned. He wasn't sure if she would like this sort of place and more nerve racking was the thought that he might run into one of his ex-lovers there. It was a step he knew he had to take. He had to accept the fact that other women from his life before Buffy were going to appear from time to time.

He hated to dance. That was the other thing. Previously, the only reason to even set foot on a dance floor was to hold a hot body close to his. Now, he was dancing, or more like swaying, for much the same reason. He wanted to see her move to music, wanted to feel her move against him. She teased him, moving her small hands over his back, lightly scraping her fingertips in lustful trails on his chest. He forgot to glance around for exes. All he saw in the room was the tiny blonde in front of him.

Buffy was lost in the music and in Angel's arms, not even noticing that he barely danced or that angry glares of other women were burning into her from all around the room. He made up for his nonexistent dance steps in arms, hands and lips. He kissed the tape of her neck as she smoothed her back against his chest, smoothing his hands over her hips and belly. Innocent touches, small grazes of flesh on flesh were intoxicating and delicious.

Buffy was covered in a fine sheen of sweat when she decided to find the bathroom, weaving around the crush of equally hot and sweaty bodies. She stood in the long line outside of the ladies room, thinking Angel would probably send out a search party before she was able to get back to him.

As she was washing her hands, a striking redheaded woman with milky white skin and delicate features walked up behind her, hands on her narrow hips. Buffy, lost in her world of happy, nearly crashed into the girl when she spun around.

"Oh, excuse me," Buffy said, with a breathless half giggle, "I'm sorry."

"You're here with Angel?" the girl demanded, cutting right to the chase.

"Yes," Buffy answered.

"So, you're *her,*" the redhead said sneering.


"The girl who thinks she took Angel off the market. I hope you don't really think he's going to stick around. What could you possibly offer a man like him?"

"Excuse me," Buffy said angrily, stepping around her and heading toward the door. She whipped around when Angel's ex-lover grabbed her arm. Yanking down hard, she removed her arm from the girl's grip, "Don't touch me."

"You may have him pussy whipped," she said, "But he'll be back in the field. I give him a week. Tops. You're just a little distraction."

"Get over him," Buffy said as she turned toward the door once more, "And do yourself a favor. Stay away from him."

Buffy proudly strutted from the bathroom, passing the long line of women standing in wait for an empty stall. She wanted to look over her shoulder to see if the girl was behind her, but couldn't dignify the bitch with that. Instead, she kept her eyes forward, not even allowing herself a glance to the side. She didn't want to see the other pretty girls who could have been in Angel's bed as recently as a couple of months before.

Reminding herself that he loved her, that he didn't want the other women, she nearly smacked into in a large body blocking damn near half the room. She looked up at him, her eyes traveling up a mountainous amount of muscle to reach his eyes.

"Excuse me," she said, thinking that must be the phrase for the night.

"You look like you could use some company," he said, slipping a giant paw to her hip.

"No," she answered, shaking her head, "I'm here with someone but thanks."

She slipped away, hurrying in any direction that he was not and scanned the crowd for Angel. She found him after a few moments, standing by the bar as he had promised talking to none other than that redheaded girl. What the hell? Did she vault across the room to him? Buffy made her way over and plastered herself to Angel's side.

"Hi baby," she said to Angel before glaring at the redhead.

"Hey love," he said, kissing her before turning back to the fuming female, "This is Brenda. You remember she left a message on the answering machine the other day?"

"Sorry we didn't answer," Buffy said with a cold smile, "We were busy. I'm sure you understand."

"Well, Angel," Brenda said, ignoring Buffy completely, "I hope you'll call me soon. A couple of the girls and I were just talking about how much we miss seeing you."

"That's nice," he said with a polite smile, "I don't really have a lot of time lately. Nice seeing you."

He guided Buffy away from her and looked down to see the expected irritation waiting for him.

"I think I really, really hate her," Buffy said through gritted teeth.

"I really love you," he said, "And I don't give a shit about her. Do you want to go?"

"No," Buffy said, moving closer and tipping her head up, "I want to give them all a little show."

"A show?" he asked with a cocked eyebrow.

"Umhmmm," she said, kissing his neck, "I want them all to know that you're mine now."

"I am yours," he said, smoothing his hands over her back.

"Good," she said, grinding her hips against his. He leaned down, kissing her full on the lips and slipping his tongue inside her mouth as she parted her lips for him.

"Very good," he growled, palming her ass as he pulled her closer to him before kissing her again.


Part Fourteen "The Others"


//i never thought i'd be regretful of all my past success//

Buffy wanted to claim him, wanted to mark her territory in front of all the women who were vying for his attention. As much as she was lost in those deep brown eyes, she could feel his ex-lovers staring, burning into her. She knew they were there, flinging silent insults at her. His hands moved on her body, sliding easily over the material of her dress, slipping to her arms, contacting with her flesh, making her shiver with delight. She kissed him, pulling his tongue into her mouth, sucking on it gently. He tasted so good, as if he kept a vial of lust on the tip of his tongue.

"Let's go," he whispered huskily against her mouth, his breath sweeping over her moist lips. He couldn't wait to get out of the line of fire, to move his lover to safer quarters. He felt slightly guilty because tonight had been more than just a date. He wanted her to see where he used to go, the things he used to do and who he used to do it with. He expected a run in with one or two of his former lovers but the room was freezing from the tension. Angel didn't like how they were looking at her, hating her, trying to make her less than she was. In fact, it made him angry. He couldn't believe the battling emotions that raged inside him and against him, batting around the large club. Her attempt to show the other women that they had lost seemed like a great idea for the first couple of minutes until it occurred to him that he would have done this with any woman he was with. He didn't want them to pile her with the others. She didn't belong there.

"Okay," she said, kissing him one more time as he intertwined his fingers with hers. As they headed for the door, he pulled her hand up to his mouth and kissed her slender fingers, relishing in her smile. He wondered if she would always have that innocence about her, that blushing happiness that he had never seen in a grown woman. There was a glow, a sort of aura of goodness and light. As they headed toward the door, he realized that he had been mistaken when he thought his ex-lovers could reduce to her their level. It just wasn't possible.

That's when he stopped, not paying attention to who was around him or where he was in the room. She stopped as well, looking at him curiously.

"What's wrong, Angel?" she asked, the corners of her mouth twitching as if she wasn't sure if it was okay to smile or not.

"I love you," he said clearly, raising his voice slightly to make it over the music, looking intently into her eyes. His felt this swelling inside his chest, as if his heart could explode at any moment. Those three words seemed so inadequate for what he was feeling. They fell short of the emotions raging inside him.

"I love you too," she said, allowing the smile sweep across her face and brighten her eyes.


//a dance remix, so i can catch the latest trend//

Outside the door, he left her in the large, capable hands of the bouncer at the front door while he went to get the car. The man was massive, sitting on a barstool outside the door with a hard gleam in his eye as he eyed the ID of each person entering the club. She felt like a child left in the hands of a giant. Angel was not a small man, but the bouncer was enormous, looking like he had stumbled in from another planet. Buffy giggled a bit at the look the bouncer gave her when Angel left and he shook his bald head.

"He's a little overprotective," Buffy explained with a twinkle in her eye, watching Angel walk away to get the car. She stared at his ass, encased in those heavenly leather pants and parted her lips to take in a breath, before she was brought back to earth by the bouncer's reply.

"He never was before," he answered, handing an ID back to the next person in line. He glanced down at the petite blond to his right, thinking she didn't belong in a place like that. He understood why Angel liked her though. She was breathtaking and fresh with perfect skin that must be silk to the touch.

"Love makes you do the wacky," Buffy said with a happy sigh, leaning against the wall, oblivious to his inspection of her.

"Love, huh?" the bouncer said with a smirk as he accepted the next ID. He knew Angel. He didn't know him well but he had seen him come in and out of this place with many different women over the years. Hell, some nights he left with more than one. He wasn't best friends with the guy but he was pretty sure the word "love" wasn't in his vocabulary.

"Oh, don't worry," Buffy said, patting his large, bulky shoulder, "I know all about his past."

"No offense, honey," he answered, feeling oddly protective of the little blonde himself, "But you seem a little naive."

"Sure," she said, "I am naive, but I'm not stupid. When was the last time Angel went to get the car and asked you to watch out for a girl?"

"Uh...never, actually."

"That's what I thought," she said, giving him a little wink as Angel pulled up to the curb and jogged around the car to open the door. The bouncer looked on, ignoring the line of people for a moment as Angel made sure she got safely inside the car and leaned through the window to kiss her deeply, almost reverently, before circling the car again. He glanced up at the bouncer before he stepped in the car, giving him a nod of appreciation. Love? Well, he guessed anything was possible.


//she made me feel i was fourteen again//

"My place or yours?" Angel asked with a mischievous grin.

"Mine," she answered, returning his smile and scooting across the seat to be closer to him, "We haven't made love there yet."

"Okay," he said, glancing in his rearview mirror and found that one of Gunn's men was tailing them, but discreetly, keeping back as much as possible. He drove slowly, enjoying the drive until she absently placed one of her tiny hands on his thigh. He reached down and took her hand in his, squeezing gently. He couldn't believe that the tiniest touch would make him so aroused. Buffy Summers had no idea how she effected him - such power in such a small person. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, willing her not to look down. Of course, she did and her eyes widened when she noticed the growing bulge in the front of his leather pants.

"You're the one who brought up making love," he explained after a moment of silence, knowing he was busted. He had always been easily aroused, looking forward to a roll in the hay, but his new lover had the strangest effect on him. Just seeing her made him rock hard. Actually, thinking about her did that too. As time went on, he was able to control it...slightly, but not completely.

"Guess I did," she said, pulling their clasped hands to her mouth. She kissed his fingertips and knuckles as he struggled to concentrate on the road. Tentatively, she kissed the tip of his index finger before taking it in her mouth and sucking on it gently, swirling her tongue around it.

"God, Buffy," he gasped, "We're not going to make it home if you keep...doing that."

"Doing what?" she asked in feigned surprise.

"If we weren't being followed, I'd pull over and show you what I mean," he said in a low velvety voice, strained with need.

"Really?" she asked suggestively. Angel snuck a glance over at her just in time to see her tongue slip between her lips and tease the pads of his fingers.

"God," he groaned, shifting in his seat again, "I might have to rethink the leather pants in the future."

"Don't you dare," she warned, sliding her free hand up his thigh, "I love you in these."

"They turn you on?" he asked in a rasped voice, genuinely curious. He knew what effect they had on other women and had hoped that Buffy would feel the same way. The thought of her wanting him, enjoying an article of clothing, made his hard cock strain even more.

"Yes," she answered in a voice just above a whisper, but loud enough for him to hear.


//but if you want it, girl, you've got it it's all right here//

Angel pressed Buffy against the side of the car once they got out and kissed her hard on the mouth, addicted to the taste of her. He loved the way her kisses started out shy and tentative, gaining boldness and momentum as they went along. He enjoyed the feel of her fingertips, slipping through his hair or sliding over his back. He took her hand and led her to her apartment, using his key to open the door. He yanked the door open and tossed his keys aside, not knowing or caring where they landed as he pressed her small body against the door to capture her lips again.

He slipped the spaghetti straps off of her shoulders and removed her strapless bra, tossing it aside in much the same fashion as he tossed his keys, kissing her neck and shoulder, sliding his tongue along her clavicle. She shivered as he moved down cupping her breasts with his large hands before lowering his head to lick and nibble on them. It didn't take him long to learn that she adored his concentration on her breasts. She moaned when he took one of her hard nipples between his teeth, pulling at it while pinching her other nipple between his fingers.

He knew he should move her away from the door and into the bedroom, but it seemed too far to travel. He pushed away the offending material of her dress and kissed along her abdomen, nipping, sucking and licking her skin while she warmed and stirred against that hard wooden door. He was thrilled she hadn't worn nylons as kissed along the waistband of her panties. He pressed his fingers into her sopping wet heat through the silk material, feeling her shudder and breathe more heavily. Slipping them down and off, he pulled one of her well formed legs over his shoulder, slightly more excited that she still wore her high heeled shoes.

"So beautiful," he murmured as her sex was open and bared to his gaze, gleaming with her arousal and emitting the glorious fragrance of lust.

"Shouldn't we...um...go..." Buffy stammered, a little nervous by his admiring gaze at her sex. She released a ragged groan as he licked her from top to bottom.

"Want to taste you now," he said, his voice rugged and guttural, "You taste...so good."

She sagged against the door as he lapped at her, snaking his tongue between her dripping folds and circling around her clit until she panted for more. One finger entered her as he licked and sucked, finally settling on her swollen nub. As he sucked it in between his lips, taking a hard pull and swiping at it with his tongue, she came, nearly sobbing with pleasure. He caught her as her knees buckled, flipping her other leg over his shoulder, drinking her escaping juices while her thighs pressed against his cheeks.

Finally, he released her and laid her down on the floor in the entry way. Still fully dressed, he bent to kiss her before he quickly shed his clothes and nestled between her thighs. He rubbed the tip of his cock over her wet pussy, delighting in her moans as he came in contact with her clit.

"Angel," she cried, "Please. Now."

He reached into his jacket for a condom and tore it open, rolling it over his throbbing cock quicky and expertly. Finally, he entered her, moving in and out in an even rhythm. She thrust back up to meet him, slamming her slender hips against his. He lifted her legs and tossed them over his shoulders and pressed down. She gasped as he moved even deeper inside her, hitting her most sensitive spot with every thrust from this new angle. She stretched around him, feeling as if she was on fire inside as he nudged her toward the edge. She nearly screamed as his large, hard cock slammed into her again and again. When her climax arrived, she came with his name tearing from her lips.


//um, i wouldn't mind riding you bareback//

Buffy and Angel finally made it to her bed. Her swollen lips, tousled hair and flushed skin made him hard again before they got to her room and he smiled at her blush when she realized he wanted more. He was insatiable. The way his large hands caressed her skin, making every part of her inch closer and beg for more was enough for her to feel that fire burning low in her belly again.

He turned out the light and watched her for a moment, outlined in the moonlight as she slipped off her shoes, kicking them away into a dark place in the room. She was so perfectly beautiful and ravishing and his. She bent over the bed to pull back the bedspread and sheet and he moved behind her. His cock was pressing against her ass as his hands moved over her hips and over the graceful arch of her back. She tensed immediately. Flipping the covers aside, she straightened afraid that he was already thinking about entering her beautifully rounded ass. He smoothed his hands over her stomach as he kissed behind her ear and down her neck.

"Don't worry, love," he said, feeling the tension in her limbs, "I would never do anything you don't want me to."

"I know," she whispered.

"Do you?" he asked, turning her around to face him. She nodded slowly, looking a bit uncertain, "Baby, I love you. If you say no to anything I will always stop. I only take what you give."

"Some things...are...just..."

"I know, love," he whispered, kissing her lightly and then more deeply until her tension eased away. He laid back on the bed and pulled her on top of him. He guided her to straddle him, enjoying the sight of her slender leg swinging over his hips.

"Do you like it when-"

"A woman's on top?" he asked, with a half smile, looking out at her with dark, lusty eyes.


"Yes," he echoed, "What do you like? What do you want?"

She blushed furiously, unsure of how to answer and keeping herself from touching him as she hovered over his muscled body. He took her hand and wrapped it around his thick cock, encasing her small hand with his own.

"It's okay to touch me, Buffy," he said, speaking with difficulty and arching slightly as he moved her hand over his turgid length, "Just tell me what you want."

"I can't just tell you," she said in a low voice that wasn't really meant to be sexy but was.

"Why not?" he asked, moving his hand off of hers to slip his fingers into her moist opening, "It's just us. Me and you, love. I would deny you nothing. All you have to say it...or do it."

Lowering his voice to carnal rumble, he continued, "Do you want me to touch you until you come into my hands? I can slide down and bury my face between your thighs. I love the way you quiver beneath my lips. Or do you want to slide my cock into your perfect, wet pussy? You feel so good. Tell me, lover. Tell me what you want."

"Inside me," she whispered, tracing his cock with her fingers, excited by his description of the possibilities. Little did she know, there were more. Many, many more. He nodded and unwrapped a condom. He helped her put it on him and then waited as she moved forward and positioned him against her. He felt her hands shaking and caressed her body all over to calm her.

"You're in control," he said, using all his will power not to move up and bury himself in her slick, tight channel. She moved down slowly, finally gracing him with her wet heat. He groaned in satisfaction, silently begging her to ride him long and hard. She began moving, gasping at how differently this position felt as she glided up slowly and pressed back down again, filling herself completely with him.

"What do you want?" she asked in little panting breaths.

"This is about you, baby," he answered, "Your pleasure is what's important now."

She leaned down to kiss him and moaned as she shifted inside her. Her chest contacted with his, her erect nipples scraping against his skin. He moaned with her as she began moving faster over him, rotating her hips ever so slightly, bucking him in deeper. She braced her hands on his chest, splaying her fingers and barely spanning him as she rode him until she came, her inner muscles fluttering around him.

She stopped her movements, feeling him still hard inside her. He looked up into her eyes, burning desire crossing the space between their faces. He gritted his teeth and waited, digging his fingers into the soft flesh of her hips.

"What do you want?" she asked again when her shudders of ecstasy passed.

"Keep. Moving. Please," he asked, nearly begging her. She rose and fell on him and he began rising to meet her.

"Harder," he gasped, "Please, love, harder."

She slammed down, grunting as he burned in and out, sliding against her inner walls, filling her completely. He watched her breasts moving over him and reached up to touch them, sweeping his thumbs over her nipples. He moved up against her harder as he felt his own climax closing in and felt like erecting a monument to her perfect, tight pussy. She watched his face as he came and followed closely with her own release as his face contorted in pleasure.


Buffy felt enveloped in love and warmth as Angel spooned around her curves and pulled her close to him. She caressed the large arm that circled her waist and was as close to purring as she could possibly be.

"Is this how it was with your other lovers?" she asked, after a moment of contented silence, pretending nonchalance. Angel growled into the curve of her shoulder. She felt his entire body grow tense and she waited for a moment. The silence was deafening and he remained very still behind her.

"I want to know," she added quietly and turned over to face him.


Part Fifteen "Rushing In"

By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them. DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: You all have been so wonderful with the feedback! I really love it! Please let me know what you thought of this part.

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: NC-17!!!


//it's time to throw off those chains//

Buffy felt enveloped in love and warmth as Angel spooned around her curves and pulled her close to him. She caressed the large arm that circled her waist and was as close to purring as she could possibly be.

"Is this how it was with your other lovers?" she asked, after a moment of contented silence, pretending nonchalance. Angel growled into the curve of her shoulder. She felt his entire body grow tense and she waited for a moment. The silence was deafening and he remained very still behind her.

"I want to know," she added quietly and turned over to face him. She expected to see anger on his handsome face but was met with anguish instead.

"No, Buffy," he answered, quietly slipping from her arms and out of bed. She watched his nude form move to the window, outlined by the dim light spilling through the large pane of glass before him, "This is not how it was with my other lovers."

"How was it then?" she asked, sitting up in bed, shifting her eyes over his muscled body. She wanted to get out of bed and go to him, but didn't.

"It was raw and base, nothing like what I have with you. I make love to you," he said, "I fucked them. I brought them here or I went to their homes and I fucked them, then I left or asked them to leave. There were only a very few women I actually spent the whole night with."

He paused and she waited, looking at his shadowed body, sculpted back. He took a shuddered breath and continued, "I told you I'm not...I wasn't a good person, Buffy. I used their bodies and they used mine. That was it. Just sex. Nothing else. You're the only woman I've ever made love to in my life."

"You are a good person," she whispered after a long, painful silence.

"Why do you always have so much faith in me?" he asked, turning to face her.

"Why do you always have so much faith in me?" she echoed, turning the question on him.

"Because I love you," he said, slightly confused.

"Yep," she said, slipping from the covers to move silently across the room to him, "Exactly, you big dummy. You don't get it, do you? I know who you used to be. I didn't ask you to make you feel bad. I asked you because your past is a part of you and I want to know everything."

"I just want to leave that behind," he said, "That's not who I am anymore."

"I know, baby," she said, moving into his arms, "I know."


//i flew over the cuckoo's nest and i'm never ever coming back because i am crazy just like you//

"Waffles!" she gasped with excitement, moving into the kitchen, drowning in one of his shirts. She kissed his bare back before he turned around to meet her lips. She loved that she always caught him cooking for her in the morning with no shirt on. It made her hungry in more ways than one.

"I ran out to the store this morning," he said, voice deep and rough as it always was in the morning. She loved the sexy abrasion that rumbled through the air, "I thought I'd make you breakfast to make up for our fight last night."

"That wasn't a fight," she said, picking up a fresh strawberry and slipping it slowly between her lips. She bit in slowly and Angel actually groaned out loud, turning back to the waffle maker he had never used before that day. After swallowing the bittersweet fruit she finished her sentence, "The thing the other night - that was a fight. Last night was an emotional conversation."

"Well," he said, kissing her again, unable to resist tasting her, "then this is for both...things."

He set a container of homemade whipped cream on the table along with the strawberries and went back for the waffles. She sat down at the table as he loaded her plate with a Belgian waffle, loading it with strawberries and whipped cream before sitting down and preparing his own.

"Mmmm," she said as she took her first bite, "The perfect yum."

"Glad you like it," he said.

Glancing across the table, she saw the Sunday newspaper sitting there and flipped through it, pulling out the Classified section.

"What are you looking for in there?" he asked, with a twinkle in his eye, "Looking for another guy already?"

"Oh yeah," she said, rolling her eyes, "I'm sure I'll find a couple of guys who are as sexy as you are and will make me waffles in the morning. No actually, I need to find a new apartment. My lease is up in a couple of months and they're hiking up the rent again."

"Really?" he said, chewing slowly and trying to concentrate on his food while insane thoughts of asking Buffy to move in with him flooded through his mind.

"Yeah," she said, "They're raising it $75 bucks a month. That's extortion! I can definitely find a better place to live where I don't have to pay an arm and a leg."

"You could..." he said, trying not to choke on his words, "...uh...move in here...with me."

"Huh?" she said, her eyes widening as she released her hold on her fork and the newspaper at the same time. The fork made a loud clanging sound as it ricocheted off the edge of her plate and bounced on the wooden table top. She didn't notice those sounds because her heart was slamming in her chest and making an awful racket.

"Stupid idea," he muttered, "Sorry."

"Move in with you?" she said, staring at him. She missed the "stupid idea" part. She was still back on the previous stilted sentence.

"We spend every night together anyway," he said, taking a drink of his milk, wishing the lump in his throat would go away, "I just thought...you know...we could save in rent and..."

"You really would want me to live here with you?"

"Well, yeah," he said, shrugging in an attempt to appear more casual, "Why not?"

"I can't think of a single reason," she said, with a smile.

"You mean..."

"Umhmm," she answered, climbing out of her chair to climb into his. She flipped a leg over his lap and straddled him, "I'll move in with you."

He pulled her into his arms and released a strangled sigh. Falling in love was one thing, but asking a woman to move in with him was something entirely different. All of those things seemed to be impossible and frankly, inconceivable a few months ago. He never would have believed even three months ago that he would be making breakfast for a girl and holding his breath while he asked her to move in with him.

"But," she said after she kissed him soundly, "You have to let me pay half the rent."

"Are you kidding me? Of course you aren't paying half the rent," he said.

"Great," Buffy complained, "Now you're going to go all caveman on me."

"How many cavemen know how to make homemade whipped cream?" he asked, scooping a bit of the sweet, fluffy mixture on his index finger. She sucked his finger into her mouth, closing her eyes briefly as she relished the taste.

"Just you," she said, kissing him gently.

"Caveman, huh?" he grunted, pushing his chair back and standing, holding Buffy against him. He swept the dishes from the table and heard her moan in protest as their lovely breakfast clattered to the floor. He laid her on the now bare table and yanked open the silk shirt she had stolen from him. He ground his arousal into her as he sucked one rosy nipple into his mouth. She released a needy moan and wrapped her legs around his waist.

Damn, he loved that woman.


//how happy we'll be//

"Whipped cream?" Willow asked, on Monday as they were munching on their lunch. Buffy loved that standing Monday date she had with her best friend. Even if they couldn't make time the rest of the week, they always made sure they had that one meal together, unless Willow had an emergency surgery which did happen from time to time.

"Homemade," Buffy answered after she finished chewing her bite of turkey sandwich.

"And he smeared it..." Willow asked, taking a gulp of her soda.

"Yep," Buffy said, raising her eyebrows suggestively.

"But weren't you...you know, all sticky?"

"Oh yeah," Buffy answered, blushing in spite of herself.

"Wow," Willow said, "Xander and I have never...I mean we...never mind."

"I highly suggest it," Buffy said, still fully red. She quickly changed the subject as she felt her body warming to the memory, "Anyway, so that's everything really. I'm moving in."

"Don't take this the wrong way, Buff," Willow said hesitantly, "But isn't it kinda soon. I mean you just slept with him for the first time a couple of days ago. Shouldn't you wait awhile?"

"Yeah, I should," Buffy answered, "But Will, I really don't want to. I can't explain it but I just want to be with him all the time. I can't stop thinking about him. I know this is probably not a good idea, but I just couldn't say no."

"Well, Xander moved in with me," Willow said, "You're moving in with Angel. Guess we just have to wait for Cordelia and Doyle to take the plunge."

"Poor Doyle," Buffy said, in mock sympathy, "She'll probably throw half of his clothes away."

"Gotta feel sorry for anyone in Queen C's clutched," Willow said, sharing a knowing smile with her friend, "So, when are you moving in?"

"Angel wants me to move in as soon as possible, but my lease isn't up for another couple of months," Buffy answered, "I'm not sure. I guess it doesn't matter, really."

"Oh, okay, little Miss Nonchalant," Willow blurted, "You know you want to move in today. I bet you're already rearranging his furniture in your mind."

"Yeah," Buffy admitted, grinning, "But if you had those waffles this morning, you'd be the same way."

"I don't think it's the waffles," Willow said, grinning back.


//why does everything i do confound you?//

"You did what?" Gunn shouted, "I knew you had it bad, but Angel you can't just move a girl like her into your apartment and-"

"A girl like her?" Angel said angrily, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"She's innocent and doesn't know shit about the world, Angel," he answered, "If she moves in, she's going to expect you to commit to her."

"What part of this relationship are you missing?" Angel demanded, "Have I not made it clear that I am in love with her?"

"Perfectly clear," he said, "But I hope you've done sowed whatever oats you planned on sowing, cause one slip and you'll lose her."

"Why do I even talk to you?" Angel groaned, "I *am* done. I only want to be with her now. Remember when you said I should marry her the other day? Did your brain start leaking between then and now?"

"I know what I said, man," Gunn said, leaning over the desk to his friend, "But I really didn't mean right now. She's sweet and we all love her. I'm not telling you not to be with her, but I just want to make sure you know what you're doing."

"I know," Angel said, "Trust me."

"I'm not the one who should be trusting you," Gunn said quietly.

"Anyway," Angel said, clearing his throat, "What's up with our case?"

"Penn is awaiting trial. Apparently, Buffy's uncle has him trapped in there without bail."

"Has he admitted to anything?"

"Not a damn thing," Gunn said, "He won't say who hired him. He won't even admit he knows Buffy's name. All we can be sure of is that he's not the one who snipped her break line because he was rotting in his little cell at the time. So, there's no way to prove the two incidents are connected right now."

"So we don't know anything?" Angel asked, exasperated, "Gunn, they have to be connected."

"Of course they are," he answered, "We just have to find out who's behind all this."

"Great. This is just wonderful," Angel said, leaning back in his chair, "I wish I had stayed in bed with Buffy instead of coming here."

"I bet you do," Gunn said, laughing.


//you've got to stand on your own//

Buffy left the gallery in Anya's anal but capable hands at the end of the week to see her doctor for a yearly exam and pregnancy test. Originally, she thought about asking Angel to come along but decided against it. She went alone, not even telling Willow about the appointment. She wasn't sure how she would react to the news and was even more confused about what she wanted the news to be. She didn't even know if she wanted a baby or not, but there was a little ache in her heart that just wouldn't go away.

She was even more worried about Angel's reaction. What if he changed his mind about her if she was pregnant? What if he was upset if she wasn't? Everything seemed so clear, so perfectly fine until she actually went to the doctor's office. It was like reality set in the moment she crossed the threshold. When he told her that the results came up negative, she fell into a torrent of sobs. Half relieved, half devastated, she wept on there on the examining table. The doctor patted her shoulder and tried to soothe her.

"You can try again, honey," he said gently, "Of course, we can always test both of you for sterility as well."

"No," she said, sniffing, "I want to start taking the Pill."

"Okay," he said, fully confused, "Are you sure that's what you want?"

"Yes," she answered, wiping her face, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to break down like that."

"That's quite alright," he said with a gentle smile.


//she's on time, she's on time she's on time, hallelujah she's on time and it's the safest time of the month, they say, for love//

Buffy really, really wished she had not planned the appointment on Friday. Cordelia was having yet another party and Angel had a private showing with a new buyer. The man asked for the appointment after he got off work that night, so Angel was going to meet her at Cordy's. When she arrived, he wasn't there yet and she felt her eyes tearing up again. This was so stupid and yet, she knew she wouldn't feel better until she told him the news. To top it all, she started her period a week early when she got home.

His possible reactions were still running through her mind as they had all day. What if he jumped up and down with happiness that she wasn't pregnant? What if he only asked to move in because he thought she was?

What if, what if...

When she walked into the living room, Darla was there, looking vibrant and coldly beautiful, hanging on the arm of some guy Buffy had never seen before. He was very handsome and seemed anxious to leave. Buffy wondered if he was anxious to leave her or just the party? The part of her that didn't like or trust the woman made guess the former. She went to the kitchen to get a drink, chiding herself for being mean, if only in her mind and nearly collided with Riley.

"Hi Buffy," he said, "Are you okay? You look upset."

"I'm fine," she said firmly, walking around him to get to the water glasses.

"Did Angel do something to upset you?"

"No," Buffy said, angrily, yanking a glass from the cabinets, "Angel didn't do anything, not that it's any of your business."

"Sorry," he said, holding up his hands defensively, "I'm just concerned about you. You look really upset."

"She's no longer your concern," Angel said from behind him. The boy flinched with the sound of his voice, feeling irritation and disgust set deep into his stomach.

"Yes, she is," Riley answered, turning to face him, "She's obviously upset and since you weren't here, someone has to be worried about her."

"Riley," Buffy said with a heavy sigh, "Please don't. I can't handle this right now."

"What's wrong, love?" Angel asked, brushing past Buffy's ex. There was definitely something about that boy that he didn't like. He wasn't sure what it was but he was sure he didn't trust him and he didn't want him anywhere near his lover.

She took his hand, leaving her empty glass on the counter and led him outside to the patio. She gestured for him to sit down on one of the metal mesh chairs and lowered herself into another.

"I went to the doctor today," she said.

"Okay," he said, taking her hands, "What did you find out?"

"I'm not p-pregnant," she answered with her eyes brimming with tears. Angel sat there for a second staring at her and taking in the news. He felt a simultaneous rush of disappointment and joy. He had almost gotten used to the idea of her having his child. He pulled her onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her hair and rocking her as she began to cry.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"Are you..." Buffy said, muffled against his chest, "Do you still want me to move in with you?"

"Did you really think that was the reason I asked you to move in with me?" Angel asked, "I love you. I asked you because I wanted to be with you, baby."

"You haven't changed your mind?"

"Of course not."

"I don't even know why I'm so upset," she said, pressing her face against his shirt, "I thought I didn't want it and then I did and I just-"

"It's okay," he said, "I feel the same way."

"You do?"

"Sure," he answered, "Half of me really wanted to have a child with you but I was really nervous about it. I didn't know what I wanted."

"Me either."

"So what do you want to do now?" he asked, smoothing his hands over her back.

"I'm on the Pill," she answered, "We're really not ready."

"No," he said, "We aren't but that doesn't mean we can't have children later."

"I know," she said and then lifted her face looking at him questioningly, "You want children?"

"With you? Oh yeah. Someday," he answered and was kissed her gently. As their kiss deepened they didn't hear the door sliding closed behind them. So focused on each other neither noticed the person who had been standing there, listening to the whole conversation.



Part Sixteen "The Move"


//not happy with a hug and a kiss although most stop at this we go much, much farther//

Angel tried everything to get into Buffy's pants over the next several days. He didn't seem to care that she was on her period and bloated but she most certainly did. She brushed off his attempts to seduce her with difficulty. With the onslaught of hormones that went along with her menstrual cycle, she was horny as hell. It would have helped if he wasn't so damn sexy, teasing her with kisses and caresses. Every time his skin brushed hers, she was inches from release, trembling beneath his fingers. She was proud of herself for holding out. Angel, on the other hand, had no idea how he kept himself from sleeping with her for so long before, because now, since she had refused him for four whole days, every time he even thought of her his cock hardened.

On the fourth day, when her cycle ended, she got up from bed, leaving her lover sleeping there and took a long, languid shower. She wrapped herself in his black silk robe, shivering from the feel of it against her bare skin while she was enveloped in his smell. She tiptoed back into the bedroom and looked down on him. She was glad they decided to stay in her apartment this week before she moved out on Saturday. She liked the way he looked in her double bed, the same one she had slept in since she was in high school.

Smiling, she crawled back in bed and gently caressed the side of his face. She had never felt so desired as she had the last couple of days. She had needed that, since this particular time of the month also announced the child that wasn't.

She tried to remember what life was like without him, what it felt like to sleep without his arms around her, but she couldn't seem to make those nights real in her memories anymore.

She nearly started giggling when she reflected on the past couple of days with her lover. Gunn even pulled her aside one day after they finished sparring and asked her what the hell she had done to him to make him such an asshole for the past couple of days. She just smiled and shook her head innocently as if she had no idea what he was talking about.

Looking down at him, she felt her skin flush as she thought about the previous night. They had rented videos and were cuddling on her couch together watching one of the movies Angel picked out. She had worn her favorite pajama pants and a tank top and was curled up against his bare chest, absently twirling the drawstring of his pants around her index finger as she stared in horror at the action film before her. His fingers curled around hers and he pulled her away from his groin, placing her hot little hand on his chest. His deliberate movement sent her gaze to his lap and once again was shocked at his ability to be turned on at any given moment.

"Sorry," she whispered, looking down at the material straining against his cock.

"It's okay," he said hoarsely, trying to focus on the movie. He kissed her forehead and smiled in spite of his uncomfortable situation. She had no idea how sexy she was, no clue how much she made him want her.

She kept flicking her eyes from his lap to the television and back again. She had never performed oral sex before and since they had been lovers she had been too nervous to try it. He never asked her about it even though more than one of his fantasies had her pink lips wrapped around his hard cock. Taking a small breath, she slipped her hand back down his chest and caressed him through his pants. He groaned, silently begging her not to torture him. Shifting to her knees, she pulled his waistband down enough to release him. He lifted his hips and she pushed them down further before wrapping her small hand around him.

Angel was sure things were moving in slow motion as she lowered her head, brushing her golden hair to one side. He gripped the side of the couch as she tentatively licked the tip, tasting him. Lost in her exploration, she didn't notice his shuddering breaths and groans of pleasure as she peppered tiny kisses all over his length. Every nerve in his body screamed as she took him into her hot, wet mouth and swirled her tongue around the end before taking in more of him. He forced himself not to thrust up into her little mouth as she sucked...oh God, she sucked him in a sweet, delicate rhythm, lowering further with each stroke. He watched his beautiful lover moving up and down in a mesmerizing motion. Her hazel eyes were closed as she focused on the feel and taste of him. The sensual act of her new journey was almost enough for him to lose control. He released a panted moan as her fingertips brushed his balls. Intrigued at his response, she caressed them further, cupping them in her hands.

"Oh God," he groaned, clutching the armrest of her couch as she plunged down on his erection, sucking harder with each of his moans of pleasure. As he felt his release nearing, he smoothed a shaking hand over her back.

"Buffy," he choked out through gritted teeth, "I'm going to come, baby. You have to stop now."

She opened her eyes and looked up at him, moving up slowly. As she met his gaze, he nearly lost it right then. Slowly, she moved up and scraped her teeth lightly against the tip, swirling her tantalizing tongue around him. Ignoring his request, she lowered again, taking as much of him in as she could and swallowed his seed as it spurted against the back of her throat.

Now, as the sun was beginning her early morning excursion, Buffy looked down on her sleeping lover, the memory of his pleasure the night before causing moisture to seep between her thighs. She kissed his lips gently and moved to his neck, licking his salty skin. He stirred in his sleep, reaching out to pull her into his arms as he often did in the night. She continued her journey, kissing down the column of his throat and allowing her hands to smooth over his broad chest.

"Buffy," he murmured, rubbing his hand along her back.

"Morning," she purred, sucking one of his nipples into her mouth and catching it between her teeth.

"What are you doing?" he asked, his chest rumbling with his words as he felt his skin flush with arousal. She moved to his other nipple, leaving little kisses along the way, "You feel so good."

"Mmm," she said, moving further down his chest, "You taste good." He pulled at the sash of the robe and smiled with relief as she helped him pull it off of her. One more day without being able to bury himself inside her and he would go insane.

"Want to touch you," he said, sliding his hand up her inner thigh, waiting for the refusal that had become rote in the last few days. She allowed it and pressed against his hand as he slid his fingers against her. They sighed in pleasure together as he slipped one finger inside her slick channel, circling her clit with his thumb. Having her permission at long fucking last, he flipped them suddenly, pressing her against the mattress. She was golden and smiling as she spread her legs for him, allowing him entrance.

He grabbed a condom and happily tore it open, knowing that soon he wouldn't have to do that at all. He would gladly wear them for all of eternity if he could make love to her, but there was nothing like the feel of her skin against his. He couldn't wait to slide his cock into her tight pussy, feeling her wet channel again without being covered.

"Thank God," he groaned as he entered her. She arched up, pressing him in deeper as he sucked her nipples, touching her all over.

"Not God," she replied in a giggled pant, "Buffy."

"Perfect Buffy," he crooned, kissing the dainty curve of her shoulder. She flexed around him, squeezing his throbbing cock in the most unbearable way, "Love, you're perfect."

She moaned loudly as he thrust inside her harder. She bucked back up against him, wrapping her legs around his waist. She was rasping, delirious with pleasure as she came, nearly sobbing in ecstacy.


//pack up and leave//

Angel had recruited Spike, Doyle, Gunn and Tommy to help with the move on Saturday. Buffy called Giles, Xander and Willow. Cordelia came along with Doyle, but didn't bother trying to pick anything up or move anything. She barely moved herself out of the way when people were carrying things out. Buffy and Willow laughed at her typical behavior as they toted the lighter things out, leaving the heavy things for the boys.

"You femmes could carry something besides boxes of shoes, ya know," Xander stated pointedly to Buffy and Willow, breathing heavily from just carrying a box out to the truck that had to have steel lining.

"Here, here," Giles chimed as he lifted another of Buffy's horribly packed boxes. She gleamed with happiness at her friends and family. Giles being there made it seem more real somehow. They shared a small moment of exchanged glances of mutual love and familial bonding before Buffy broke the silence.

"I'm an old fashioned girl," Buffy piped, smiling brightly at him, holding up her shoe box, "I believe that men carry the heavy stuff and the girls carry the shoes."

"You...owe...me," Xander gasped as he lifted another box, "Big...time....Buffy."

Buffy and Willow had no intention of carrying heavy things when they had so much help, besides, if they were doing all that work, they couldn't watch the guys do it. Buffy eyed her lover appreciatively as he carried her entertainment center out of the apartment with Gunn. She licked her lips as she watched him, forgetting that she was supposed to be pretending to help. Angel in those snug, worn Levis and a t-shirt that stretched over his well muscled arms and chest was a sight that had to be admired...at length. Willow nudged her gently and she moved toward the door, walking behind them with her box of shoes as the guys navigated the stairs with the heavy piece of furniture.


//our world works in a weird way//

"Looks like you've got two of everything," Willow said when they began unloading the truck at Angel's.

"I know," Buffy said, looking around the apartment that was quickly becoming smaller, "We're going to put some of it in storage and get rid of some of it, but we couldn't decide before we had it here."

"You mean *you* couldn't decide," Cordy said, wrinkling her nose at some of the furnishings she felt were below her standards.

"Pretty much," Buffy said with a shrug, "I couldn't picture my stuff in here. Have to see it first."

"Bet the boys are going to be grouchy when they have to carry half of this stuff back out to the truck," Willow whispered laughing.

"I thought I'd wait until I fed them pizzas and then mention that there might be another tiny thing they could do to help me," she whispered back, trying to keep the men from hearing her.

"Well," Cordy said, "I thought this was going to be sweaty and boring, but I get ringside seats to a fight."

"There won't be a fight," Buffy said, brushing off her friend's comment with a sweet smile. Some days it was harder to love her friend than others.


//dazzled by her smile//

There were several problems with the situation when Angel walked in from locking up the truck and carrying the last box inside. First of all, Buffy was frantically searching around the apartment, opening boxes randomly while yelling at Xander. Secondly, she was wearing those cut off jean shorts that he really loved...for no one to see but him and that pathetic excuse for a shirt that left a sexy slip of skin showing at her waist. It hugged her bare breasts and didn't show cleavage at all unless she was bending over a box, rooting desperately though it.

The guys were sitting around, staring alternately at her shapely ass peeking out from those shorts and her breasts which were damn near entirely visible when she was bending over. He set down his box and crossed the room to her, strategically placing himself in their line of sight. He glared angrily at Spike when he huffed in protest at the blocked view.

"What's wrong, baby?" he asked, gliding a large hand over her back as she rooted through a box.

"Mr. Gordo is missing!" Buffy exclaimed, as if that should explain something and straightened up to show him the exasperation in her eyes at this horrible situation.

"Mr. Gordo?" Angel echoed with confusion.

"Her precious stuffed pig," Xander explained with a pout, "She asks me to help her pack and then gets mad at me when I pack stuff."

"Stuff!" Buffy shouted, "Mr. Gordo is not *stuff*!"

"You should know better," Willow said, planting a look of disapproval on her boyfriend.

"What?" Xander said, "You asked me to help! You never said anything about the importance of correctly packing stuffed pigs! And no one mentioned one word about remembering what damn box I put things in."

"Remember the whole part about writing on the box with the marker?" Willow asked gently.

"I did write on the boxes," he said in his defense.

"Yeah," Buffy said, pointing to a piece of cardboard proof in front of her with Xander's sloppy handwriting scrawled across it, "I didn't mean write ‘Buffy's Junk' on every one of them!"

Spike, Gunn and Tommy tipped back their beers and chuckled at the show. If nothing else, things were never boring around Buffy and her friends.

"Honey," Angel said diplomatically, "We'll find Mr...."

"Gordo," she finished.

"Mr. Gordo," Angel said, committing the name to memory even though he wasn't sure why, "We'll find Mr. Gordo even if *Xander* has to unpack every box looking for him."

"Xander!" Xander said, shouting his own name, "I'm not unpacking anything. No one said anything about-"

"Xander," Willow said, nearing the crabby place she hated to visit.

"Fine," he huffed, moving toward the nearest box with a box cutter in his hand, "It's a stuffed *pig,* you know."


//divided, but i can't decide what side i'm on//

"I want her away from him as much as you do," Riley said, swishing his whiskey around in Darla's crystal glass, watching the firelight gleam over it, "And believe me, I'm just as upset as you are about the moving in thing and the almost pregnant thing, but you've got to calm down."

"You weren't standing there listening to him mush all over the whiney little bitch," Darla ranted, pacing around her living room, "If you had seen how they shared their little fucking moment and mourned a godamn child that never even existed you would have vomited in Cordelia's dying flower garden."

"I've heard this before," Riley complained, "You still haven't gotten to the point."

"The point," Darla said, calming down and taking a second to return to her normal, cold demeanor, "Is that we can't wait much longer. Now, Angel is going to take a trip to New York next week. We have to make sure that when he comes back, his beloved little slut of a lover is packed up and gone."

"Short of kidnaping her," Riley said, "and that's *not* an option, what do you suggest we do?"

"Cordelia, in all her cluelessness, told me that Angel is taking the redeye next Friday night. All you have to do is get someone to demand a private showing in the her gallery on the night Angel takes off and I'll take care of the rest."

"What are you going to do, Darla?" Riley asked, narrowing his eyes at her, "If Buffy gets hurt in any way other than emotionally..."

"Don't worry," Darla said, "All she's going to experience is the excruciating sight of her lover naked in the arms of another woman."

"The other woman is you, I'm guessin'?"

"Who else?" she said with a evil smile.

"You really think Angel is going to cheat on Buffy?" Riley snorted, "Haven't you seen them? It's sickening."

"I never said I was going to get him to cheat on her," Darla said, shaking her head sadly at the dense boy, "She's just going to think that's what happened. What the eyes see, my boy, the mind believes."



Part Seventeen "Setting Traps"


By Tango


//all of our fears come true again recycle reuse resent and refuse//

The following Friday, equipped with the full knowledge of the importance of Mr. Gordo and the sort of nervousness that comes with leaving your lover for the first time, Angel stepped out of the shower. He dried off and wrapped the towel around his waist before opening the door and releasing the steam from the room.

His entire day had been focused on developing a pit of dread of the size of a bowling ball in his stomach. He smiled a little thinking about how Buffy was so adorable the way she teased him about how they would preoccupy themselves while he was in New York. As much as she tried to lighten the mood, he was covered in a sheen of negativity. When he walked into his bedroom, all of his fears clicked into place.

Darla was standing there in the center of the room boldly naked and smiling at him. He stared at her, saying nothing for several long seconds as his mind ran through the repercussions of the situation. Buffy was at a late night gallery meeting that had sprung up unexpectedly a couple of days ago. She had promised she would cut it short to say goodbye to him before he left, if only for a few minutes.

He glanced at the clock and brushed past her to look into the living room. Darla had left an obvious trail of her clothing along the living room to the bedroom door and his own clothes were strategically placed around as well to make it look like they had undressed each other on the way to the bedroom.

"Get out," he said, in a low even voice, crossing the room to her. Although he did notice she was nude, his body only reacted in anger to his manipulative ex-lover.

"You want me to leave?" she asked, releasing a light, throaty laugh at the end of her sentence, "You disappoint me, Angel. You used to know what to do with a naked woman in your bedroom."

"You think I'm fucking stupid, Darla?" he asked, keeping his voice dangerously low, "I know what you're trying to do here. You're naked. I'm naked. I'm sure Buffy will be walking through that door any second. That's just brilliant."

"I thought so," she mused, stepping closer to him, "You need someone to help you find your way back to who you used to be, Angel. You're a domesticated pet."

Angel laughed, tossing his head back and the sound was almost maniacal.

"You're so fucking pathetic," he said, his eyes twinkling with an odd mixture of amusement, fury and panic. It made him look insane, "You're not disappointed that I've settled down. You're just pissed it wasn't with you. Tell me, lover, why would I choose you? I can't trust you. I don't even fucking *like* you."

"But you like fucking me," she crooned, reaching out to touch him.

"I used to," he said, "I used to like a lot of things."

He flinched as her hand caressed his bare chest but didn't move away from her. He stood frozen in the middle of the room as he heard the quiet clicking of the key in the lock. He leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling as he heard his little lover's delicate footsteps entering the apartment. He stepped away from Darla as he heard Buffy's gasp of pain at the trail of clothes that led her the bedroom.

"Angel?" He looked over at Buffy who was leaning into the room. Her expression shattered as tears filled her eyes.

"Buffy," Angel said, struggling for something to say, but coming up empty. The three of them stood there until Darla smiled at her competition with a cold glint in her blue eyes.

"Hello Buffy," she said, trailing her fingers over her own naked belly. She looked so damn smug and malicious standing there. Angel, on the other hand, looked defeated, as if there was nothing he could say to make this better. Buffy looked from him to her and back again for several very slow moving seconds.

Suddenly, propelled by anger and jealousy, she crossed the room quickly, small feet hitting the floor in heavy determined strides until she reached the naked blonde in her bedroom. Pulling back, she swung, hitting Darla hard in the jaw. Enraged, Buffy swung again, this time knocking her to the floor.

Turning on her heel, she went back to the doorway, keeping her fists clenched. She stopped just before leaving the room and turned back around. She glanced briefly at Angel and as she felt the sob rising in her throat, she turned again and ran.

"Is that what you wanted?" Angel shouted over the sound of the front door slamming shut. Darla found her footing and stood before him again, just as confident and smiling more broadly than before despite her split lip.

"Yes," Darla answered smoothly, wiping her mouth, "That's part of what I wanted."

"What was the rest?" Angel said, moving swiftly across the room and grabbing her shoulders roughly, "You decided to destroy every hope of happiness I've ever known and then what? I would live happily ever after with you? Is that how this all played out in your warped little mind? Did you go through all this trouble for a hard fuck, Darla?"

He tossed her to the bed and she bounced to the center. She was barely able to right herself before he joined her, pressing her against the mattress. His hands dug into the flesh of her upper arms so roughly that she whimpered in pain as he demanded, "Answer me."

"Yes," she answered breathlessly, "You don't need her. She isn't happiness, Angel. She's a vanilla imitation of what you really need."

"And you're what I really need?" he shouted, "You're a sick bitch, Darla."

"You want me, Angel," she said, "I know you do."

"Are you wet for me?" he said in a voice lined in silk, "Is your hot little cunt begging for it?"

"Yes," she breathed and gasped as he released her, stepping away from the bed. His towel fell away as he stood up and he ignored the loss as he crossed the room.

"Reach up and grab the headboard," he commanded as he pulled open the top drawer of Buffy's dresser. He retrieved two cream colored, silk scarves and lifted them to his face, inhaling her scent before turning around to see that she had obeyed his order. He moved back to the bed and tied her wrists, binding her to the bed.

"These are Buffy's," he said, as he tied her wrists expertly there, "It's fitting, don't you think?"

"Actually, yes," Darla answered, allowing herself to be bound with no reservations. She wasn't afraid of Angel. She never had been. He wasn't a violent man and as much anger as he had for her right then, she was certain he would never hurt her. He didn't have it in him.

"Spread your legs," he said, sitting down next to her. She opened for him immediately and he looked down at her, dripping for him.

"Mmm...you're so wet for me," he said, running a single finger down her thigh, causing a shiver to run through her body.

"Tell me," he said, sweeping his eyes over the body he had taken in a thousand ways or more, "Should I fuck your pussy until you scream for me? Or maybe I should ram in that sweet little ass of yours. I know how you love that. You make the most enticing sounds when my cock's buried inside you."

"Anything," she panted, raising her hips slightly and spreading wider for him, feeling no shame for her need, "Just please touch me, Angel. Fuck me and you'll be completely free of her."

"You're right," he said, "Doesn't really matter now, does it? She's never going to believe that I didn't fuck you anyway, right?"

Darla nodded, shifting uncomfortably under his gaze and testing her bindings. They were secure and nearly cutting off circulation.

"Let's play a game," he said, leaning in closer to her, "I know how you adore games."


//i wish i could fly from this building, from this wall and if i should try, would you catch me if i fall?//

Buffy made it out of the building alone and ran through the parking lot. Gunn stepped from his car and caught her in his arms. She sobbed in abandon for long minutes while he held her. He raised his eyes as Spike stepped out of the passenger side of his car.

"It's alright, love," he said gently, touching her shoulder lightly. Taking a deep breath, she handed him her keys. He clutched them tightly in his fist, gaining his composure before heading inside. As he started to step away, she touched his arm, stopping him.

"Make sure he doesn't miss his flight," she said in a cracked little voice.

"I will, pet," he said, wiping a tear from her face before turning away again.



"Tell him I love him, okay?"

He nodded and went inside, walking slowly, as if he was heading for death row. Gunn wrapped an arm around her and escorted her to the car, opening the door for her before walking around and climbing inside. He slipped the key in the ignition and turned to her before starting it.

"Are you going to be alright, Buff?"

"It's just...this is harder than I thought it would be," she answered, voice trembling, "I knew what I was going to see, but it still hurt so much."

"He loves you," Gunn said as he started the car, "You have to remember that."


//there were times when i wanted to hurt you and there were times when i know that i did there were times when i thought i would kill you//

"Angel!" Spiked shouted as he entered the apartment.

"In here," Angel said, looking down at the panicked eyes of his ex-lover. He looked up to see his blonde friend strolling into the room, "Glad you could make it, buddy. Is Buffy okay?"

"Yeah," Spike said, with a grin, "She says she loves you and wants me to make sure you don't miss your flight."

"That's my baby," he said with a smile.

"What?" Darla said, pulling roughly at her binds, "What the fuck is going on here?"

"I thought you liked games," Angel said, standing up and moving to get dressed.

"You played me!" she screamed.

"Why not?" Angel said, as he pulled on a pair of boxers, "You played me. You tried to destroy my whole life. You used my friends behind my back. You tried to kill Buffy and have her raped. You even roped in her stupid ex-boyfriend in your little game. So now we have to decide how we're going to make this right."

"I gotta couple of fun little ideas," Spike said, standing close to the side of the bed, looking over her appreciatively, "It's been awhile since I've had a piece of you, Darla. What do you say?"

"Don't touch me," she sneered, curling her legs up under herself.

"What?" Angel asked, ducking his head out of the closet to look at her in mock confusion as he continued dressing, "You can decide who sleeps with you, but Buffy can't? You can hire someone to rape her, yet you feel you shouldn't be violated?"

"You won't hurt me, Angel," she said with a glint of satisfaction in her eyes, "And you won't let Spike hurt me either."

"You're right," Angel said, nodding as he buttoned up his shirt, "It's too bad that you're the only person in the room who has no morals at all. You know, even Spike here has a shred of decency from time to time."

"Hey!" Spike said.

"Don't play innocent, Spike," Angel said, "You didn't join the right side until a few days ago."

A knock sounded on the front door and Angel smiled, "Speaking of the right side, Spike, wanna get the door?"

"Sure, mate," he said. A few seconds later, Tommy dragged in the bound body of Riley Finn. He tossed him to the floor and dusted his hands off as if he had been sullied by Buffy's ex.

"Now that we're all here together," Angel said, perching on the edge of the bed, "We should discuss confessions."

"I didn't do anything!" Riley swore.

"Not really the answer I was looking for," Angel said calmly, "See, here's the problem. I have an hour before I have to be at the airport. In that time, some things need to happen. Otherwise, you'll have a week with each other to think about what you've done to Buffy."

"You wouldn't leave us here," Darla said.

"I wouldn't?" Angel asked, looking over her with interest.

"No," she said.

"Hmmm...probably not. But I'd definitely leave you here for a couple of days," he said, "Maybe Spike here could come visit you. Wouldn't that be fun?"

"I'll come visit," Tommy said, grinding his large fist in his hand.


Part Eighteen "Revenge is a Bitch"

By Tango

E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com

DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them.

DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: All the feedback has really been wonderful! Thank you so much!! Please let me know what you thought of this part!

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: NC-17!!!

DEDICATION: For trammie!


//so enthusiastic, a little bit drastic//

"You did what?" Kate demanded, leaning inward with her words as her hands balled into angry fists on one of Spike's tables in the corner of his bar. The bar wasn't open yet for customers so the sound of her voice echoed off the walls.

"You heard me, pet," Spike answered with obvious satisfaction. He was in no way ashamed of what he had helped Angel do to Darla and Riley. In fact, he was deliriously happy that he had done something fun under the guise of good will and Drusilla was already starting to show her appreciation of his actions.

"This is a police investigation, Spike," Kate warned, "*You* were the one who wanted to keep Angel out of this! Now the two of you have revealed everything, ruined the investigation and don't even get me started on how many laws are being broken here!" "Calm down, love," Spike smoothed, "They're not hurt. They're just cooling their heels."

"They're being kept prisoner!" she spat, "You will go over there and release them *right now* or I will take you in and Angel will be your cellmate the second he steps off that plane."

"No need to get into a twist. We got them to confess," Spike offered as he lit a cigarette, "Mostly anyway."

"How is that permissible in court *exactly*?"

"Not worried about court. We were interested in keeping Angel's chit safe is all."

"If you want to keep yourself safe, I suggest you release them," she said, standing up.

"Alright," Spike said, standing with a smile, "I'm supposed to let them go tomorrow anyway. Guess they get an early release."


//i feel hopeless and you know this i've never been ashamed of my attraction i'd be happy if you'd give me a fraction//


"Hi Giles. It's Angel. Is Buffy there?"

"Yes," Giles said quietly, "She's sleeping. Can I have her ring you back?"

"This is going to sound stupid," Angel said, "But can you please wake her up? I just want to hear her voice."

"No," Giles replied as he looked into the tearful eyes of his niece, curled up on the couch, wide awake, "I'm afraid she told me not to wake her."

"Oh," Angel said, his voice betraying the worry he felt. He quickly rattled off the information he wanted Giles to pass on to her, including the phone number to his hotel and the room number.

"Thank you," Buffy said, sniffling as she took a deep, shaky breath, "I just couldn't..."

"It's alright," Giles answered and met her eyes for a long moment before he said, "You realize that the problem is not going to go away. Angel is going to come home from New York."

"I know, Giles," she said, "I'm going to go home. I just need a day or two, okay?"

"Of course," he said, pulling off his glasses to clean them, "You know you can stay as long as you like."

She gathered up her afghan and went trudging up the stairs, dragging part of it along behind her as she went. She felt like her heart was tailing along with the blanket and felt guilty for allowing herself to doubt her lover. She knew that Darla was going to try and seduce him. She knew what the whole plan had been, how he was going to make sure she wasn't hurt again. It had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now that she had seen that horrible woman standing in her bedroom, so close to the bed she shared with Angel, Buffy felt a sickening feeling creeping through her. Darla had no doubt been in that bed hundreds of times before, knew his body so much better than Buffy did. Darla probably bought him those expensive silk sheets.

She loved Angel and wanted to be with him. She wanted to talk to him, share all of her fears and feelings of inadequacy as his new lover. She wanted curl up in her old bedroom in Giles' mansion and hide with Mr. Gordo until she disappeared. Where was her strength of will? Where was her trust in the man she loved?

She was fairly certain Darla was clinging to it as tightly as she was tied to the bed.


//so i'm lying here just staring at the ceiling tiles and i'm thinking about what to think about//

Angel had been disappointed that Buffy hadn't met him at the airport to say goodbye. They had agreed that she wouldn't, but he still felt a twinge of pain when he didn't see her beautiful face one last time before he left. He kept telling himself that when he called, he would be able to hear her voice and everything would be fine. The fact that she wouldn't speak to him confirmed his suspicions that she was even more upset about what had happened than he thought she would be.

The next morning he called before his first meeting to find that she was already "out." Anya said much the same thing when he called the gallery. By the next morning, he still hadn't been able to speak to her even once. That evening, he started his rounds of phone calls again, starting with Giles' house again, the gallery and finally dialed his own number with a heavy heart. He listened to the four rings and then wasn't surprised at all when the answering machine picked up.

"Hello," his love's bright, cheery voice said, "You've reached Buffy and Angel. Sorry we can't talk right now. We're...*stop that*....we're kinda busy...right now...*Angel!*"

He listened as she breathlessly tried to tell the caller to leave a message, collapsing into giggles. After a moment, he toned in, in a uninterested murmur, "Leave a message and we'll get back to you..."


He remembered that day, leaving that message after they finished moving. He remembered begrudgingly agreeing to leave a new message since she insisted it was absolutely necessary. Angel hadn't cared at the time if she wanted to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" on the damn message as long as they could do it *after* they made love. His girl was determined though, claiming that his exes needed to know that she was permanently in the picture and could in no way have him...ever again.

He remembered running his hands over her body as she tried to leave the message, feeling her spark underneath his lips. Now he was beginning to wonder if he would be able to touch her like that again when he came home. When the beep came, he paused for a second and then sighed, "Buffy, It's Angel..."

He waited a second or two and then continued, "Please call me. I'm coming home early. I love you, baby."

He hung up the phone and stared at it angrily for a second before dialing another number, "Gunn Investigations. We help the hopeless."

"Gunn," Angel said, "Where's Buffy?"

"I don't know, man," Gunn admitted.

"Who does? Is Tommy on Buffy duty today?"

"No one is on Buffy duty."

"What are you talking about?" Angel growled into the phone.

"She fired us," Gunn answered plainly.

"What? When?"

"The day after you left," he said, "I was getting ready to follow her from her uncle's house to wherever she was going that morning and she told me that she didn't need to be followed anymore, that it was over."

"And you didn't follow her anyway? Jesus, what am I paying you for?" Angel said, "I thought we agreed that you all would be especially cautious after we released Darla and Riley."

"*We* did," Gunn said, "She didn't. I followed her to the gallery anyway and we got there she told me if I followed her again she was calling the police. We haven't seen or talked to her since. I'm sorry. We didn't have a choice. I can't have my staff going to jail for following your girl."

There was a long moment of silence before Gunn continued, taking a deep breath, "Look. I went to Detective Lockley and told her that Buffy was no longer under our protective custody. She told me that she had been in touch with Spike and almost threatened me outright for having something to do with what happened. After a bunch of yelling, she finally told me that Darla and Riley were under constant surveillance."

"Okay," Angel said, in a low voice that most people would think of as calm, but Gunn knew better. Angel was not even slightly calm, "I'm catching the next plane back to L.A."

As much as he cared about his friend, those words sounded like a threat to Charles Gunn. He sat by the phone for a second before calling Spike.

"What?" Spike said into the phone, indicating that he was busy, probably with Drusilla. When he heard a familiar whisper in the background, he knew he was correct in his assumption.

"Angel's coming home today," Gunn said, "He knows none of us have been watching Buff and he's pissed. Really pissed."

"So?" Spike said, "I held up my end of the deal. Don't know why you're calling me, mate."

"I wanted to warn you and I also wanted to find out if you've seen her, Darla or Riley in past couple of days."

"Set ‘em free and when about my business," Spike answered, plopping back against the bed and smoothed his hand over Dru's hair as she settled her head on his chest, "Thanks for the warning, but this is officially none of my business now."


//if i were you and i wish that i were you all the things i'd do to make myself turn blue i supposed i'd start by removing all my clothes tie my pantyhose around my neck//

Buffy sat by the answering machine and listened to Angel's message for the third time in a row. As the beep sounded, she heard a voice behind her.

"Isn't that sweet?"

"What are you doing here?" Buffy said, taking a small step back.

"Witnessing my lover's pathetic roommate moon over an answering machine," Darla said, holding a gun loosely in her hand, "How could he have fallen for you, of all people?"

"You're crazy," Buffy said, fully believing the off-kilter, wild look in the woman's eyes. She shifted her eyes to the window, wondering if she looked down if she would see police cars lining up to arrest her. The only problem was that Buffy wasn't sure if she would be arrested before or after she was dead.

"Don't bother," Darla said, gesturing to the window with her gun, "The police in LA are dreadfully stupid. I lost them hours ago, but not your commando ex-boyfriend."

Darla glanced at the door and smiled, "Come in, Riley. I know you've been following me for two days."

He stepped into the apartment, holding his own gun and pointing it at the insane blonde. Darla responded by pointing her gun at Buffy.

"Drop it," she said, "Or your pretty girl here will be missing half of her face."

Riley narrowed his eyes, aiming at the center of her forehead. He was sure he could take her out. He had a perfect shot.

"I'll kill her," Darla said, cocking back the hammer with a smile, "Who has more to lose here? Somehow I think it's you."

He lowered the gun but kept it gripped in his hand.

"Drop it," she repeated, stepping closer to Buffy, "Or do you want me to shoot her? I would be glad to, you know."

He let his weapon drop heavily to the floor and shot a look of apology to Buffy, who wouldn't meet his eyes. She was too busy staring at the piece of metal near her face.

"Good boy," she said, "Now have a seat."

"What do you want?" Buffy said, trying to keep her voice even and strong. She knew that if Darla wanted to kill her, she would have already. At least, she hoped she knew that.

"I've been thinking," Darla said as she settled into Angel's leather chair, "I'm never going to get Angel back. I get that now. So, I'm going to take you from him."

"What are you waiting for?" Buffy said, unable to stop herself from mouthing off. She hated that bitch, "You just want to bore me to death?"

"I want Angel to watch," Darla said, "I want him to see you die."

"And then what?" Riley asked, "Who's next? Me? Are you going to kill Angel too?"

"If you don't shut up, you're first," Darla answered, keeping her even voice and her chilling smile.


//don't admit defeat//

Kate was already in car and halfway to Angel's before the officer finished informing her that her teams had not only lost Darla but Riley too. They had all but vanished in thin fucking air. She called Gunn, who informed her that Angel was returning home tonight, but didn't know anything else. Spike was equally useless and she felt an icy dread filling her veins.

She parked in front of his building and took the stairs two at time, ignoring that there was an elevator or forgetting completely. She rushed down the hall, keeping to her tiptoes to avoid the sound of her approach. Before she made it a tenth of the way down the corridor she could already hear voices shouting at each other. Angel's door was ajar and she picked up the pace to get to it. It seemed to be swelling and receding to her eyes, as if was going to disappear along with her career if she didn't get there in time.

She reached the door and as she pushed it open, a gunshot rang out along with a terrified scream. Kate raised her gun and shouted "LAPD" as she looked around the room. Riley was standing in front of the couch looking down with shock etched on his face. Darla stood several feet away with a gun in her hands. She didn't seem to notice Kate. She allowed the gun to slip from her fingers and dropped to her knees in desperate sobs.

Kate moved forward and found Angel lying on top of Buffy. Blood streamed out of his back in an even flow. Kate called for back up as she watched Buffy's arms snake around her lover. She could not move from under him, but wasn't trying to find a way to shift his considerable weight from her small frame. She moved her shaking hands over his back until she found the wound and pressed down on it.

He groaned from her action and Kate breathed for the first time as she crossed the room and felt his wrist, while keeping her gun trained on Darla's crying face. Using her police training and sharp eye, it didn't take more than a second or two to realize that Angel had jumped in front of that bullet. It took only a second longer to realize that the shot would have been in direct line of Buffy Summers' head if he had not been there to stop it.

"Hold on, baby," Buffy muffled into his shoulder, sobbing in perfect time with the woman who had tried to kill her. She kept the pressure on his wound as she felt him losing consciousness, "Stay with me, Angel."

"I love you, Buffy," he said weakly as he tried to blink himself awake. She was so warm beneath him and her arms seemed so strong as she clutched him tightly, holding her hand against his wound. The searing pain was too much and he felt the world slipping away.

"Angel!" Buffy cried out, holding him more tightly, "Stay with me. Please, wake up, baby, please."

As she held him, his motionless, bleeding body pressing her to the floor, she laid her head back. Her eyes moved to the wall above the fireplace and through her tearful eyes she saw the picture of Ireland hanging there. She gasped upon seeing that canvas of spiritually painted swirls of blue and green. Dimly, she remembered him mentioning a house warming present. A little surprise, he had said with a twinkle in his dark eyes. She had thought the painting was gone forever and now as she felt her sobs renewing, she realized that it might be all she had left.



Part Nineteen "Hospital Again"

By Tango


E-MAIL: Tangofic@hotmail.com

DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them.

DISTRIBUTION: Of course you can have it! Please let me know though.

SPOILERS: Completely AU. My first one with no vamps or Slayers. Everyone's

just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: *Sigh* You guys are great, even though I did leave you hanging...and with the evil and all. *G* I tried to get this out as soon as possible! It's the same day, so I am I forgiven? Hee, hee

LYRICS: All lyrics are from Barenaked Ladies

RATING: NC-17!!!

DEDICATION: Copper, you're finally going to get what you want. *G* And for trammie, for keeping me going. You made this fic worth writing. And for everyone who encouraged me to continue and gave me such wonderful feedback. I really, really appreciated it all! You guys are great!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the last part. Sniff, sniff. I think I might actually miss this one. Oh well, another page in time turned. Hope you enjoy!


//we never really knew each other anyway//

"Your boyfriend's back."

"Excuse me?" Dena asked, looking up from the chart in front of her. Mr. Meddleson would need an increase in his meds. He had been complaining all day about the pain. She was preparing to seek out Dr. Thomas for approval when one of her fellow nurses interrupted her train of thought. She put the chart back and gave her full attention, "My boyfriend?"

"The artist," the nurse confided, "He was shot in the back. Just brought in. They're prepping him for surgery now."

"Oh my God," Dena said, heading toward the OR in a pace that was so brisk she was nearly running, "Is he going to be okay?"

"I don't know," the other nurse said, struggling to keep up with her friend, "He's lost a lot of blood."

Dena stopped momentarily to look at the petite blonde girl that Angel had come in with before. She was covered in blood, presumably his and was crying on the shoulder of an older gentleman. She shuddered at the pain coming from the girl and moved again toward the operating room.

"Dena?" a little voice said and she turned to see the tearful face of the girl who had stolen Angel's heart. She looked over the girl, slighter of frame than herself and a couple of inches shorter. She looked small and fragile. Dena could see how he would want to protect her. The girl spoke again in a trembling voice, "You're Dena, right?"

She nodded slowly, a bit confused.

"I'm Buffy Summers," she said, hiccuping, "Angel told me about you."

"Dena Franklin," she said gently, feeling genuinely sorry for the girl, but anxious to get to Angel.

"Is he going to be okay?"

"I don't know. I just found out he was here and was heading there now."

"Will you...um...will you come back out and tell me what's going on? He doesn't have any family and they won't let me see him. I'm not sure they'll tell me what happens."

"Of course," she said, turning on her heel and picking up her pace again. She hadn't known Angel didn't have any family. She hadn't met any of them, but just assumed he didn't usually take his casual partners in to meet Mom. She stopped short of the operating room and closed her eyes for a second, gathering strength before she walked in. After a moment, she opened them and pushed open the double doors.


//shaken while he stirred//

Angel opened his eyes and looked wildly around the room, immediately recognizing it as a hospital room. He was alone and he scanned through his mind for what had happened when he was shot, but couldn't remember exactly. He saved her, didn't he?

He jerked back the covers and groaned in pain as he tried to sit up. Settling back against the bed, he panicked. He couldn't stay in this bed until he was sure that she was safe. He pressed the button next to him, urgently calling for a nurse. After a few moments, Dena walked in, smiling in grateful relief that he was okay.

"Where's Buffy?" he choked out in a desperate voice, eyes pleading for a lie if she wasn't okay, "Is she okay? She's alive. Please tell me-"

"She's okay," Dena answered gently, "She's been by your side all night, but the police detained her for questioning. She's in the hallway."

"Thank God," he said, closing his eyes for a second, "Would you please tell her that I'm awake?"

"Yes," she said, nodding. She turned toward the door and then stopped, pivoting to face him again, "You're really in love with her, aren't you?"

"Yes," he answered without hesitation, "She's everything to me."

"I can see that," she answered as she turned again, trying to hide the pain on her face. She didn't hate him or feel any malice toward the lovely girl that had taken him away from the rest of the world, but there a was a tiny place in her heart that didn't understand why she wasn't worth his love.


//how well you learn to not discern who's foe and who is friend we'll own them all in the end.//

"Are we finished?" Buffy asked tiredly, "No offense, but Angel could wake up any second and I don't want him to be there alone when he does."

"That should be all I'll need," Kate said, closing her notebook, "I'll need to take his statement as well in the next couple of days."

Buffy was preparing to protest when a voice from down the hall said, "He's already awake."

Buffy and Kate turned to face Dena who was moving down the hall from Angel's room.

"He just woke up a second ago and called for a nurse."

Buffy nodded her thanks and jogged down the hall. It would have turned into a run, if Dena hadn't stopped her, placing a hand on her arm as she breezed past. Buffy stopped, panic crossing her face as Dena stopped her.

*Oh God,* she thought, *He's not okay. She's going to tell me he's not going to be okay.*

"He's going to be fine," Dena said, answering her unasked question, "I just wanted to say something to you. There's no way this going to come out right, so I'm just going to say it."

"Okay," Buffy said, showing her confusion plainly as she answered.

"I'm sure you know that Angel and I used to be lovers."

"Yes," Buffy said, "He told me."

"Okay," Dena said, taking a deep breath before continuing, "I just wanted to let you know what you have in there-"

"I know exactly what I have," Buffy said, interrupting, but trying to keep the irritation from her voice. Angel was in there in pain and alone and she was being detained by yet another of his ex-lovers. These women were really starting to piss her off.

"I'm sure you do," Dena added, "but let me finish. I'm sure you know that he's been with a lot of women-"

"Get to the point!" Buffy said loudly, "He needs me now."

"He's never loved any of them...any of us. He loves you. I didn't think he was capable of loving anyone, but Buffy, he really loves you. I've never seen this side of him before. He'll be faithful to you. I'd bet my life on it. He means enough to me to tell you this. If he was the old Angel, I would already be back in bed with him. He's not the same. Not at all."

"I know that," Buffy said with tears in her eyes, betraying that she wasn't quite sure. Not really. She shifted from foot to foot nervously and looked away from the nurse.

"I can tell you're doubting it but trust me," Dena said, patting her shoulder, "No, actually, trust him. If I were in your place, I would worry too but he's not the same person he used to be. He hasn't been with another woman since he laid eyes on you."

"How do you know that?" Buffy asked, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. Lately, anyone of the opposite sex was looking shady to her.

"Because," Dena said, looking her directly in the eyes, "I tried to get him back...and I wasn't the only one."

Buffy watched the pretty nurse sway down the hall, dumbfounded. A second later, she resumed her run to her lover.


//i never thought that you would love me the way that you do i never thought that you would love me half as much as i do//

"Angel," Buffy said, looking over him, lying weak and pale in the hospital bed. But he was awake and alive. She moved to his side and looked down at him, intertwining her fingers with his.

"Hi baby," he said hoarsely, "I thought...I didn't know if you..."

"You saved me," she whispered, allowing the tears to slip from her eyes and roll over her cheeks. He pulled her into his arms and winced from the pain of movement, but held her more tightly anyway.

"You wouldn't take my calls," he said into her hair, "You're going to leave me, aren't you?"

"No," she said, pulling back and perching on the edge of his bed, "I just needed some time to sort things out. Seeing you and her together...it brought some feelings out of me that I didn't even realize I had. It would be so easy to lose you to another woman."

"What part of ‘I love you' did you miss?" he asked angrily.

"I know," she said, staring at his chest in shame rather than his eyes, "I just freaked. I mean, I don't know anything about sex like they do. I'm not all beautiful and sophisticated and-"

"Buffy," he said, breaking her explanation, "I love you. I don't care about anyone else or what they are. You are perfect for me and you're beautiful, far more beautiful than any of them."

"You're mad at me," she said, shifting up to look into his eyes, finding the truth there.

"You're damn right I'm mad at you," he said, wishing he could stand up and pace around the room, "I'm fucking furious with you."

"Do you want me to leave?"

"Oh, for the love of...Buffy, listen to me," he said, taking a deep, painful breath, "I spent the last week wondering if I should hang myself by the hotel sheets. I was sure I had lost you. If you would have just asked me about what I wanted, told me about your fears, I would have come right home. I would have told you that the only thing I want is to be with you. If you want to know how I feel, then just ask me."

"Oh, but that would make sense," she said, breaking into a tiny smile.


//i couldn't help but notice that riding crop sticking out of your haversack//

Angel spent the next month healing, making sure that Darla was punished to the full extent of the law, painting and making love to Buffy. He didn't speak to Gunn for several days, since he had *promised* him that Buffy would be safe while he was gone and Spike got the silent treatment for a full two weeks after he found out that the asshole did absolutely nothing to make the situation better or even let him know that he had released the evil duo a day earlier than planned. The plan had been formed carefully. Angel had accounted for every possible situation, except for two small details: Spike's inability to follow through and Buffy's reaction. If he had only known...well, hindsight's twenty-twenty.

It was a bright, sunny afternoon when he took Buffy on a Saturday drive. Well, she thought it was probably sunny and bright, but since she was blindfolded, she really had no idea. It seemed sunny.

"Are we there yet?" she whined, shifting in her seat, "Cause I think I'm getting dizzy."

"Almost there," he said, kissing her hand as he drove.

"Hurry," she answered, but laughed as she said it. The last month had been the most wonderful time of her life. They spent a lot of time in front of the fireplace, looking up at the painting of Ireland, telling each other about their lives, learning everything there was to know about their pasts.

When he finally pulled the car to a stop and turned off the engine, she squealed in delight and reached for her blindfold, only to be halted by him.

"Angel!" she complained, "We're here, right? I wanna see."

"Patience," he chided over her groan of mock pain. He got out and moved around the car and opened the door, helping her out. He walked her several feet and then pulled off the blindfold. She settled her eyes on an aging, monster Victorian home. The gardens were overgrown, the wrought iron fence surrounding it leaned precariously in several places, the stairs looked like they might fall off the house at any second and the paint looked like it was so depressed it might jump to its death. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

"What's this?"

"A house," he said with a sarcastic smile.

"Angel," she warned.

"Well," he said, jingling his keys in his hand, "When I was a teenager, I lived with a foster family that hated me even more than I hated them. They couldn't wait to get rid of me and I was almost ready to run away when I met my foster mother's grandmother, Louise."

He led her up to the stairs and opened the door, pushing it open and giving her space to walk in. He watched her look around the house, which looked like the insides had been recently scrubbed clean. He followed her as she walked, continuing his story, "Louise was the only person who ever loved me and I think maybe I was the only person who truly loved and appreciated her. She used to say we were kindred souls. She kept me there a little longer, but I did finally run away. I went back to visit her every couple weeks or so and ended up living here with her for a couple of months when I fell on some hard times."

Buffy mounted the stairs, listening intently to his story and looking through what must have been a gorgeous house a long time ago.

"She died about nine years ago," Angel said and swallowed breath as she turned to face him with compassion on her face, "She left me this house but I couldn't move in."

"Too painful?" Buffy asked, leaning against the hallway wall.

"At first," he said, "It would have been but that's not really why I couldn't live here. She made me promise before she died that I would never live here unless I brought love with me when I came. I knew when she died that I would never live in this house."

He caressed the doorframe nearest him, as he continued, "I thought about selling it a thousand times, but I couldn't. Even when I had no money for rent...I wanted to honor her memory. I haven't been back here since the day she died until a couple of days ago."

He walked slowly into the master bedroom with her on his heels and stopped just inside, waiting for her to join him. Her eyes settled on his painting of her, the first one, with her reflection in the sunrise, "I can live here now, if you'll come with me."

"You really want me to live here with you?" she asked, looking up at him. He nodded wordlessly and she flung herself into his arms, hugging him tightly.

"Besides," he said, pulling back enough for her to see the lopsided grin cover his face, "My lease is up in a couple of months."

She swatted him with a look of faux disgust and then looked back up at *her* painting, "I thought you sold that."

"No," he said, shaking his head happily, "I had marked sold early in the night so no one else would ask about it. I thought you might want it someday."

"I do."


//when you dream, what do you dream about?//

Buffy and Angel were both disappointed when they had to stop their exploration of Louise's house to head back to the gallery. Angel had a meeting with the gentleman he had left so abruptly in New York to look over what pieces he wanted. The man was overly meticulous about what hung on the uppity, pristine walls of his gallery and by the time Angel was able to escape and get back to his apartment, it was nearly midnight. He unlocked the door and entered quietly, finding the place dark and silent. He dropped his jacket and keys and smiled into the darkness even though he was disappointed that she was already asleep.

He made his way to the bedroom and was met with a closed door, which he thought odd. They never shut the bedroom door. There really was no reason to. He turned the knob slowly and pushed open the door to find the room glowing with twenty or so candles. Buffy was blissfully naked and awake, lounging provocatively on a brand new set of black silk sheets. Ms. Summers had wasted no time burning the red ones that Darla's naked ass had rested on.

"Hi baby," she called throatily to him, keeping her position on the bed, wearing only an alluring smile.

"Hi," he said, looking over her hungrily. He started to cross the room to her, but she held out her hand for him to stop. He halted, confused and waited for her to give an explanation of why she was trying to torture him.

"Take off your clothes," she said, "Nice and slow. I wanna watch."

He obeyed, shedding his clothes slowly for his lover. When he finished, he waited for her next instruction and had to wait several long seconds while she raked her eyes over his naked body. He was breathtaking, standing in such a way that she knew when he moved toward her he would have that predatory grace of a creature hunting his prey. His muscular body glowed against the firelight and she swept her gaze over him, easily taking in each contoured inch of him, landing finally on his erect cock, standing out from his body, begging for her touch.

"This night is for you," she said, reaching beside her and pulling out two black silk scarves and holding them up for him, "I've been waiting for you to ask me to do this but since you haven't, I decided to take it upon myself to make it happen."

He breathed in ragged breaths, becoming even more aroused if that was possible and stood there as if he were frozen to the floor. It never even crossed his mind to actually ask her to do this, not after everything that had happened. His beautiful goddess actually wanted to play this game? He wanted to fall to his knees and praise the deity that had created her. She trailed one of the scarves over her skin as she waited for him, smiling at his shock.

"C'mere," she whispered. He moved, making his way to the bed swiftly. He pulled the scarves from her as he devoured her lips, pulling her into such a passionate embrace that she was almost surprised that she was already bound to the bed when the kiss ended.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked gently. She nodded enthusiastically with a knowing smile.

"Why?" he asked innocently, sliding his hands over her body, easily gliding over her soft curves.

"I know you want to," she answered, flushing with arousal beneath his hands.

"Just me?" He asked, rubbing her breasts and pinching her nipples as he waited for her answer.

"Me too," she squeaked.

"Why?" he asked again, leaning in to suck one delectable nipple into his mouth.

"B-because," she stuttered, "I like it when you...uh..."

"Take control?" he asked, moving to the other breast.

"Uh-huh," she grunted as he bit at her nipple, "And...I like when you...um...say things."

"You like it when I talk dirty, baby?"

"Yes," she answered breathlessly. He hid his smile of absolute pleasure in the valley between her breasts, kissing the warm skin there.

"You have to do everything I tell you to," he said, dipping into her navel.

"‘Kay," she answered, leaving him astounded as usual at her innocence and ability to make him crazy with lust.

"Open for me, love," he said, sliding his hand over her thigh. She spread her legs for him and he looked over her with interest. Slowly, he moved down to her dripping core, inhaling her scent.

"Such a pretty little pussy," he murmured as he tasted her for the first time that night, "You're so wet for me, Buffy. Tastes so good."

She squirmed underneath him, not sure how to handle the whole not touching him part. He was moving so slowly, prolonging the experience and it was driving her completely insane.

"You're so perfect," he said as pressed two fingers into her, pushing in and pulling out as he lapped at her swollen clit, "So tight."

"Angel," she panted, "please."

"Please?" he mused as he continued his same pattern of movement, "How polite."

"Need you to..."

"Want to come?" he asked, his breath caressing her moist core.

"Yes," she moaned. He scraped his teeth over her swollen bud before sucking it roughly into his mouth, sucking so hard she exploded moments later, inner muscles spasming around his intruding fingers. He moved up her body, not kissing but biting her skin, nibbling on her flesh, until he reached her lips. He kissed her for a long time, pressing his erection against her but not in her. She lifted her hips to press against him, waiting for him to take her.

"Fuck me," she finally moaned as he bit at her neck and shoulders. He positioned his cock at her entrance, rubbing over her but still not moving inside until she gripped the headboard with frustration and said, "Fuck me, Angel. Need you inside me. Now."

"Mmmm," he said languidly, as if he weren't dying to be inside her, circling her clit with the tip of his cock and licking her sensitive nipples, "Who's in control, baby?"

"Fuck me," she demanded again, pressing against him, arching her body to meet his.

"Wanna make love," he asked idly as he explored her body, seeming to be lost in the taste of her skin, "Or do you want to fuck? There's a difference, lover."

"Fuck," she whispered and her eyes widened as he thrust inside her suddenly, slamming inside her with an abandoned he hadn't shown before. He spread her legs wider apart angled her so that he was diving deeply, filling her fully. Each movement seemed to hit deeper, jarring her small body with the force of her lover's larger one. She rose to meet him and cried out in pleasure as she came a second time.

As her body convulsed in fulfillment, Angel reached up and untied her. He flipped her over on her knees and rebound her expertly while she was still rolling in pleasure. He kissed her back as he entered her again, nipping at her shoulder blades.

"Still want to fuck?" he asked innocently, growing at the delicate column of her neck. She pressed her firm ass against him in response, burying him in deeper.

"Yes," she hissed as he finally started to move again.

"God, I love you," he said, reaching underneath to cup her swaying breasts.

"I know," she answered, looking over her shoulder with a smile. He kissed her with a playful growl, slipping his tongue greedily into her mouth.

"Finally," he said, slapping her ass with emphasis and grinning as she yelped in surprise.


THE END! Please let me know what you thought of the fic!