She opens her arms to him, as he stands by the bed, looking down at her. His face is always appreciative. He has so many expressions, and some of them he saves only for her. It wasn’t always so.
He leans over and runs his hand across her flank. His hand is warm, the skin smooth. He’s never had a workman’s hands, and he doesn’t now. She remembers cool hands, once, but now she loves the warmth that he brings.
She looks up at him, and he’s smiling. He didn’t use to do that much, although when he did, it made the room light up. Now, he’s doing it just for her.
“I love you,” she mouths at him, and she means it. Once, she’d thought that this would be quite beyond her, living as a normal girl with her normal boyfriend, but time changes a lot. If only she’d had faith that she could find this happiness, she would have saved herself a lot of past heartache.
Now he’s kneeling on the bed, and she watches the rise and fall of his chest as he takes in the sight of her. She doesn’t need to watch the rise of his cock, because she can feel it, warm and blood-heavy against her hip.
He presses kisses against her face, her cheeks, her temples, her forehead, but his lips only brush against hers. She remembers deep and lingering kisses, but he doesn’t seem to kiss her there, any more, as though he’s afraid it might break some spell. With everything else that she’s got, she doesn’t really mind. Not any more.
Now, he’s kissing her below her ear, working his way down the side of her neck, until he reaches the place where a scar once lay, and her blood sings. He sucks at the spot – almost at the spot, but he’s an inch or so too low, perhaps unable to sense it, although she knows exactly where it was – and she feels the scrape of human teeth. That’s all there is anymore, human teeth, but then he nips at her skin and she presses against him as the fever rises in her.
Now his lips are on her breast, and he is lifting her towards him with one hand while the other roams down her belly. He’s not as deft or as agile… But some things aren’t hard to leave behind, as the price of love.
“I’m so happy to be with you,” he murmurs into her ear, as he positions himself over her. “Do I make you happy?”
“Yes,” she breathes, “yes… so happy… love you so much,” as she reaches down, taking him in her hand and then rubbing her soft folds against the tip of his penis, moving up and down against him until he thrusts forward into her with a sigh. She thinks he might pierce her to the heart, and presses hard against him so that he can do just that.
“My angel,” she sighs. She hasn’t got used to the new name that he’s taken with humanity, yet. But she will. “My angel,” as she looks into eyes as black as diamond, and then she has breath for no more.
He keeps his strokes smooth, angling himself to best meet her pleasure, until he can control himself no longer. He has been murmuring words of love to her, but now his ragged breathing makes that impossible, and he gazes down at her familiar face as she arches up in ecstasy, and then he lets himself go.
Afterwards, they lie side by side. He watches her, watches the fall of her long lashes against her cheek, just a hint of mascara left to darken them, watches the way her skin is pearled with tiny beads of sweat. Some strands of hair have stuck to her cheek, and he traces with his eyes the pattern that they make, like some demonic script. The thought chills him. He’s left all that behind.
She must feel the weight of his gaze, because she opens her eyes, and looks back at him. Every time she does this, he marvels at what she must see, and how different that is from the reality inside him. He’s a lucky man, and he knows it.
She puts her hand up to his face, running her fingers down the line of his jaw. He wonders whether she can hear the scratchiness of the stubble. He leans over to her and kisses her forehead.
“I’ve got something for you,” he whispers. Today is a big day, although she doesn’t know it yet. There’s no doubt about the outcome, but he feels nervous, feels the beating of wings in the pit of his stomach. It isn’t fear or worry. It’s excitement. He’s waited for this day for a very long time.
He pulls away from her, and stretches his arm out towards a chair. It’s almost out of reach, but he’d slung his suit over the back of it, with all his other clothes. She was too needy to wait for him to hang things up. He’d been away longer than he expected.
His fingers at full stretch, he manages to snag a pocket, and tugs the jacket towards him, before he can fall out of bed. That wouldn’t be very seemly. There’s a lump in the pocket, and that’s what he’s looking for, but there’s a stiff sheet of paper, too, folded up. He smiles when his questing fingers find that. It’s been the best of days…
He’s got what he wanted now, and he pulls himself back to her side. She’s leaning on her elbow, smiling at him. He opens the black velvet box. Inside is a ring, a solitaire diamond of exceptional brilliance and size. It’s cost more than a pretty penny, and it’s been worth every last red cent. She gasps as he slides it onto the third finger of her left hand.
He sees tears glitter on her lower lashes, and then she’s holding him tight. He can feel her nodding her head, because she has no words to speak. He waits, stroking the back of her head, thinking about the future, and enjoying the thrill of the present.
“It’s beautiful,” she says, at last. “I love it! And… and I think it loves me! I felt so warm, so… so cared for… when you put it on. Forever can’t be long enough.”
He chuckles, and kisses her cheek, but he reflects that time is an elastic thing, and the future can snap back into the now, with no warning. Forever can suddenly be a lot shorter. He doesn’t say that, though.
“Of course it loves you! How could it do anything else? It was created just for you.”
She giggles at his fancifulness. She doesn’t know, and she never will, but he thinks, as he holds her, of where he’s been today. He’s been on the last errand that would sever any hold that Hell had on him.
It started weeks ago, with a visit from Wolfram and Hart. The real ones. The ones for whom the Senior Partners are just another set of minions. They looked just like three middle-aged bankers, and he’s pretty sure he’s not seen their real faces, just as she isn’t seeing his.
They took him to a small, dark cell, the passages lit only by the flaming torch that one of them carried. He’d been rather offended at this mediaeval presentation, but this was by their invitation, not his. Standing outside the iron-bound cell door, they’d suddenly surrounded him, a small ballet of positioning that finished when he had his back pressed against the cold, damp wood. Then the one with the mane of flowing silver hair had made him the offer.
“You want to be free of us, of your ties to us. Is that correct?”
He’d wondered whether this was some sort of trick, but lies wouldn’t serve, here.
“You want your life to start afresh. You want to go back to humanity.” “Yes.”
“Very well. We have a proposition for you. All we want is for you to keep the slayer happy and contented. Can you do that?”
He’d almost felt his heart thump with joy.
“That’s our business,” said one of the others, the one with dark auburn hair, streaked with iron grey. “Besides, there are plenty of other slayers now. One, more or less, won’t make a difference to the world.”
He’d thought about that, and he wasn’t so sure that he agreed with the analysis, but he said nothing. He’d learned that much wisdom.
“Keep yourself and her away from all our business. That’s all we ask.” He looked at this third speaker, the one with curly white hair, and he could see no lies in his liquid brown eyes. But then, would he?
“What do I get?”
“You get to live again,” the Wolf almost snarled. “You get to go out abroad upon the Earth without let or hindrance, without the need for protection. You get to don the trappings of a normal life, and to live that out to a ripe and happy conclusion. And you get the afterlife that you wish for, not the one that you deserve. In short, you get out of Hell.”
“And neither of you will have any more to do with demons or fiends or vampires, or any of the other creatures that have so plagued your lives, for as long as either of you shall live,” added the Ram.
“You get an attractive wife and, oh, let’s say the end of your worst enemy. We’ll throw that in for free.” The Hart nodded his head, reassuringly. “It’s a win-win, wouldn’t you say?”
“He’s in here?” he’d asked, gesturing backwards to the door with his head. The Wolf nodded.
“Do I have to sign in blood?” If they said yes, then he would still be tied to them.
“No. Nothing like that. Cross us, and we’ll just take it all back. Do as we ask, and your life is your own.”
He could hardly believe it. He would be free of everything that had gone before. And keeping Buffy happy and contented? That would be its own pleasure. He knew there were hidden reasons for this, reasons that the world might regret in the far distant future but, suddenly, the offer of freedom was too much to refuse. He’d made too many mistakes. Let someone else worry about the future.
“You’ve got a deal.”
They’d opened the door then, and he’d seen a tiny, dank chamber, and the bloodied man on the floor, the heart cut out, but the body still sentient, still moving. He remembered the horror of that…
And then the Wolf threw the torch into the cell and slammed the door. A blast of heat and light surged through the tiny gaps, like a small, captive sun, making him stagger back in self-defence, his arm thrown over his eyes.
The next moment, he was in an unexceptionable office, with three bankers, or lawyers, or other perfectly respectable professionals. The man with the silver hair handed him a small urn of black onyx, and told him what to do with it.
“I said, how can we afford this?”
He snaps back to the here and now, the present minute that has him in bed with a naked Buffy.
“You might say it was a gift from an old friend.”
That’s a very apt way of putting it. He thinks of the piece of stiff paper still in his pocket. It’s dangerous, keeping that in the house, but he’ll get so much pleasure from looking at it.
It’s a receipt. A very classy receipt, more of a certificate, really. Today he’s been to the very tasteful premises of an enterprise that surely belongs to the Senior Partners. It’s too demonically conceived not to be. He’d been there before, with the urn, and now he’s come out with the diamond ring. Ashes to diamonds. Turn your loved one into a beautiful gem, to be with you for eternity. There’s even a family plan.
He’s even had a tiny winged lion micro-etched onto the gem, an apt reminder of the thing that brought him so much defeat, so much pain. He’ll be able to smile every time he looks at the ring, now that he’s back in the land of the living.
He pushes her back so that he can look down at her, his hands wrapped around her shoulders. She’s easy on the eye. And he’s always liked small blondes. It could all have been so much worse. All he has to do is keep her contented.
He kisses her cheek again, careful to avoid more than passing contact with her lips, or sleeping beauty will awake, and see who he really is. Apparently, she always wanted to be a normal girl, and that’s what she’s been given. It’s up to him to keep her that way. Everything has a price.
He likes that she’s surrounded by Angel’s love, and wonders how sentient the soul is that has been bound forever to the gem in that ring. He likes to think it understands what’s happening, as he lays her back on the bed. When he enters her again, it’s like fucking his worst enemy, and that is such a goddamned rush.
She gazes up into his blue eyes, and he wonders again what she sees.
“Oh, Angel… Lindsey, Lindsey, Lindsey” she murmurs, as though to fix the name in her bespelled mind. “Never stop doing this. Never.”
“As long as you live, babe, as long as you live.” His grin is ferocious, but her eyes are closed, now, and she doesn’t see.
It really is the end of Angel, this time, Lindsey thinks, and of his moralising, and of his pathetic, doomed romance. There’s no coming back from this.
But, Angel and the Slayer were both all about sacrifice. As he thrusts into her, he looks down into her eyes, and he hopes that Angel knows just how he and the Slayer have been sacrificed, have ransomed Lindsey from Hell. It’s fitting. It really is. It’s diamond.
And diamonds, after all, are forever.
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Summary: Sometime after the last we heard of Angel and Buffy. Diamonds are forever.
Disclaimer: Usual stuff…