I hated the girls back then. Especially the noblewomen…They were just incredibly dull. Simpering morons, the lot of them. I always wished I could meet someone... exciting. Interesting.
It was true, mostly.
When he was human, he’d shared the company of any number of women, most of whom carried the marks of their work - the baker’s daughter with flour in her hair, milk maids with their dusty hems, barmaids wearing aprons stained by the local swill, and a few women with their hair perfectly coifed. They laughed the same, believed his silver-tongued lies the same, and spread their legs the same. He cringed at the cad he’d been, even if they had been simpering fools. Bored and unsated, he’d left them all. It was never that way when he was with Buffy. Even kissing her like this, clothed and barely touching, was far more satisfying.
Of course, there was one exception to the women he’d known, but then again, she wasn’t just a woman. Darla. Her body was what first drew him in, which had been nothing new. She was female after all. But it was the intelligence he saw in her eyes that held him still even as her teeth broke his skin. Her mind was as sharp and cruel as her body was voluptuous. Dull was one thing his time with Darla could never be called.
It wasn’t love – they both scorned the very idea – but she had been his match. He’d never felt as alive as he had when he bested her with some creative new cruelty. Now he knew it had been just an illusion, filling his mouth with ash. Until now, no one else had come close to laying as deep a claim. But with Buffy it wasn’t about besting her, it was about the way she stirred up the best within him. It never stopped amazing him that she believed he had a nature worth tending.
Tonight’s shock had not been limited to finding Buffy bewitched into exactly the pretty but passive, stump-stupid girls of his wild youth. Discovering that this shell – an undeniably gorgeous shell - of Buffy held no attraction for him was a curious realization. But far and away the greatest shock was his own reaction when she returned to herself. The hard-on wasn’t a surprise, but the fact all of him, body, soul, and demon, rang like a tuning fork when she emerged, still in that dress, but eyes full of fire and life - now that was something he’d not expected. It wasn’t just his soul that was enthralled by Buffy, it was everything he was. If even his demon self could be captivated by her… Maybe he could believe in himself the way Buffy did. Maybe this was what hope felt like.
You know what the worst part was, huh? Pretending that I loved you. If I'd known how easily you'd give it up, I wouldn't have even bothered.
From their first meeting when she’d gotten the drop, knocking him on his ass, he’d known he’d met his match. That parasitic soul had delighted in it, pussy-whipped fool, but for Angelus it engendered a desire to find out just what it would take to break her. Now that would be a pleasure worth pursuing.
Angelus had nearly given up hope that he’d ever have the opportunity when, surprise of surprises, the soul was snipped off. Another vampire might have simply turned around, entered the bedroom, and killed her where she slept. No, no, no. Not with all the delicious little foibles he knew, all her love-fueled confessions. Angelus’ lip curled, feeling dirty at the thought of what he’d told her in his own love-addled state.
He ignored the part of himself that asked why he hadn’t saved the cruel rejection and reveal until after he’d fucked her a few times. Hell, she might be innocent, but she was eager; the things he could teach her…
Or he could turn her. Oh, the places they’d go. So why not? Was it because— He cut the thought short; he’d been saddled with that brooding bastard long enough. There was no way he was going to fall into that weakness of second-, or third-, or fourth-guessing his motivations.
Draining her of every bit of trust and love she’d ever felt for Angel was going to be a far, far better thing. And the fact that every word from his mouth to her ear was nothing but pure deceit said with heart-felt conviction? It only made it all the more delicious.
Morning, sleepyhead. You know what I just can't believe? All of our time together and we never tried chains. Well, can't dwell on the past, especially with the future we have ahead.
If Faith only knew.
“No!” Buffy said, her voice echoing in the cavernous space.
“You can’t trust me,” Angel insisted, resisting the urge to pace. It had been a bad day; cravings he’d thought were in check had stirred and the walls felt as close as a monk’s cell. “Stop playing this game of 'let’s pretend'.”
He regretted it as soon as he said it, even before she peddled back toward the hearth. Nothing good ever came from implying she was a child.
“I lived through the last year too, you know.”
“Then if you can’t trust yourself, trust me. You’d never do the things Angelus did.”
“He is me, Buffy.”
“Not completely.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Willow and Wesley were talking about Gestalt today.”
“How the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
“I’m familiar with it.” She stared at him as if he should see the connection. “I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” he finally admitted.
“That’s you. You’re more than the sum of your parts. I know that you’re a vampire, but you’re more than just a soul slapped onto Angelus. Don’t ask me to explain it better than that, but you are. And I trust you. You know where the line is now and you’re not going to cross it.”
“I wish I had your certainty.”
“Do I need to show you proof? Here,” she said, storming over to the wall, grabbing the shackles that hung limply from the ring above. Before he could stop her, she’d snapped them to her wrists. “This is how much I trust you. All of you. You’re not going to hurt me.”
Mesmerized, he watched as she stretched out her arms, the fabric of her top pulling tight across her breasts. The prayer of his childhood rushed up. Lead us not into temptation. Somehow in all the decadent thoughts he’d had of her, he’d never imagined what it would be like to have her restrained like this, to tease her to the edge of climax and back off, only to repeat it. To see her flushed and wanton, eager for his— He cut off his thoughts, willing his mind to grasp onto any other topic. “Why Gestalt?”
“Why were Willow and Wesley talking about Gestalt?” He even managed to say it in a calm, even voice.
Her eyebrows drew close, as if trying to figure out how they’d gotten stuck in this part of the conversation. “I think she was trying to convince him that I do better with everybody’s help than I do alone.” She smiled, triumphant. “That everybody includes you.”
“It’s an interesting argument.”
Suddenly she was contorting in the oddest way. It looked like her hand was trying to reach her leg, except the chains wouldn’t allow it.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“My leg itches. I can’t reach it. And I did not put these on to talk about some dead philosopher.”
The point she’d been trying to make was not being aided by the shackles. Her hands were tiny, but not quite small enough to slip through the cuffs. He bit back a smile.
“Um, if we call a truce, will you help me out of these? They’re a whole lot less comfortable than I imagined. And I never really thought they were comfortable.” He must not have hid his amusement as well as he thought when she added, “Don’t even think of laughing.”
He moved to release her, then stopped short.
He held his hands out, palms up, spreading open his fingers. “I’ve only worn them. I don’t have a key.”
“Oh.” She blushed, and he wondered what it had been like for her to be his captor while he was still half out of his mind. “I’m pretty sure it’s still on my key chain.”
She reached toward her front pocket, but again, there wasn’t enough slack in the chains. One option was to adjust the slack so she could reach it herself. He discarded that choice in favor of option two.
“Would you like some help?” It wasn’t a phrase he had much opportunity to use.
“Please,” she said tersely. Her frustration was palpable as she attempted to brush back a loose lock of hair, nearly giving herself a black eye. “I am so not getting why people think this whole getting tied up thing is hot.”
Some people aren’t meant to be restrained, he thought. Running his thumb across her forehead, he drew back the stray hair, and tucked it behind her ear. “It’s okay,” he said gently. “I’m getting you out right now.”
“O… kay,” she replied, blinking slowly.
The energy in the room changed. She was suddenly calm; her entire body still as his hands rested on her hips. Maybe the Tai Chi was helping. Her breathing was still faster than normal. He needed to find that key before the frustration turned to anxiety.
“Which pocket?” he asked.
Dipping a finger in, he swept for the keys.
“Uh, my other left.”
“Gotcha.” Sweeping with a hooked finger worked no better. He attempted to reach his hand in without success. “I need you to turn around.”
“Why?” There was a hitch in her voice, and he hoped she could keep calm a bit longer.
“It’s a bad angle. I can’t get my hand into the pocket of your painted-on jeans.”
“Never heard you make that complaint before,” she said, smiling up at him as she leaned in, chains clinking as her breasts brushed against his chest and her fingers splayed across his abdomen, only the thin fabric of his t-shirt between them.
“And it’ll never happen again,” he promised, swallowing hard. She had no idea what this current image of her was doing to him. “Now turn around.”
“As you wish.” Her cheeks flushed an even darker pink, but her eyes held his as long as possible before she turned around.
He stifled a groan. Or maybe she knew exactly what she was doing to him. It was for his sake, not hers, that he needed to find that key and end this now. As he slid his hand into her pocket, she leaned back against him, her head against his chest and her ass brushing his crotch. If she wondered before what she was doing to him, she wasn’t wondering any more.
His other hand tightened on her hip. “Buffy…”
“I thought I was the one who was supposed to beg.” The teasing in her voice was going to be his undoing.
“Buffy, we can’t.”
“We can’t have sex. Trust me, I know. But we used to… There were a lot of things we did before that weren’t… weren’t, you know, intercourse.” The last part was nearly whispered into the crook of her own shoulder.
He rested his chin on the top of her head. Would he ever be able to anticipate this quixotic woman who moved from angry determination to frustration to sex kitten to shy innocent in a handful of breaths? He prayed not. And what she was asking? It was his turn to be still as his natures warred against each other.
“Please say something.”
“We can’t,” he repeated, his voice hoarse. His hands flexed and blessedly found the damn keys. He swallowed, schooling his voice to sound normal. “I’ve got the keys; you can turn around now.”
“Let me say this first, okay? Will’s always saying I should tell you what I’m thinking. For starters, I think the not looking right at you might help.”
She sounded so forlorn. He wanted to erase all the pain from her voice, from her heart, to run his hands and mouth along her skin, kissing away all the sorrow he’d caused, replacing it with all the love he couldn’t express. He reminded himself it was a fool’s desire; the less he touched her, the better off she was.
Even so, his arms wrapped around her, holding her tight. “I’m listening.”
“Now I’m going to have to make sense, aren’t I?”
The silence stretched and he resisted the urge to break it. She kept so much locked up – as if he didn’t – and if she was ready to share, he wasn’t going to interfere, no matter how much he might not want to hear it.
“Do you know why I’m so adamant that you and Angelus are not the same person? It’s not that I want to pretend you’re not a demon – I get that. I really do. Probably more than you think. Sure, I’ve fantasized what it would be like if you were human, but then I wonder if you’d still be you. Could you, really, if you weren’t a demon? Would I love you the same? I dunno.”
She fell silent again, and his mind reeled. There were a dozen things he wanted to say, to ask, but he held himself back, waiting.
“It’s because he said things. That having sex with me was a big joke, like I was a big joke.” His arms tightened around her as she took a ragged breath. He remembered all too well, complete with the sadistic pleasure of watching her face crumple. “And when we talked about the curse and the not having sex, you seemed… relieved. It makes me wonder if maybe he was telling me the truth.”
That’s what she feared? That he didn’t find her attractive? He could barely wrap his head around the disparity of their realities. He’d always assumed he did a poor job of hiding the ongoing scrabble for a toe-hold of self control, barely containing every lecherous urge he had. And she experienced it as rejection.
The chains jangled as she pulled away. “Um, this would be a good time to say something, because otherwise the silent thing is gonna be interpreted as a vote for ‘Big Joke’.”
He spun her toward him, his hands cupping her face, searching it. Dipping his head down, he kissed her like he’d wanted to kiss her since he’d returned: possessed and possessing. Her mouth responded with equal fervor and her hands clutched his shirt into knotted fists, the chains restricting her from doing much more.
He broke off the kiss, searching her face again, his thumbs unable to stop tracing her cheeks, her jaw line, her lips. “I want you all the time. All of me wants you all of the time. No matter what I do or say, know that.”
“So you’re saying when after touching me you pull away like you’ve been burned and you look all pained... it’s because you want to touch me more?” Her eyebrows rose up and her voice held a teasing edge as she added, “How did I not realize that?”
He smiled back. “I sound like a head case when you say it like that.”
She kissed the inside of his palm. “Just a little.”
He resisted the urge to do the described pulling away as if burned. “That’s why I try not to touch you.”
“Because I might kiss your hand?”
“Because just doing that makes me want to pin you to the wall and have sex until you scream my name.”
He could feel the heat rush to her face, warming his hands. It astonished him a bit that she was surprised by his admission. “That, and I’m afraid.”
“Of losing your soul?”
He shook his head. “Yes, somewhat, but mostly I’m afraid of hurting you,” he confessed. “I never want to cause you that kind of pain again.”
“So we’re back where we started. I trust you more that you trust yourself,” she said with a sigh. “And I’m all out of dramatic illustrations.”
“Speaking of which, let’s get you out of these.”
“Do you need to unlock them now? I kinda liked the chains,” she confessed.
“Me, too,” he said, feeling oddly shy about admitting it to her, “but I’m not in that mood right now. Maybe another time?”
“Sure,” she said, biting her lip.
After all that, she thought he was still giving her the brush off. As much as it scared him, he was going to find a way to give her what she needed. “I had something else in mind,” he said, unlocking the cuffs.
“Yeah.” He captured one of her wrists, gently rubbing it before pushing back her sleeve and bringing his mouth to her pulse point, kissing it. “What I have in mind will leave your legs quivering like jelly so I’m thinking it would be best if you were sitting down.” He looked up, meeting her eyes, which were dilated until only a thin ring of color remained. “How does that sound?”
“Ah,” she said, running her tongue across her upper lip, “yes.”
Funny, thought Angel, the things that come to you when you’re delirious from poison and the love of your life is has a killer right hook.
He’d failed her so many times. He was not going to make that statement, nearly the first thing he ever said to her, a lie. He was not. He was...
Except his head was pounding, and there was something he couldn’t remember, and Buffy was right there, offering, no, insisting, and— He sank his teeth into her neck. His whole world was her blood, touching his lips, filling his mouth, calming the pain screaming in his own blood.
His world widened slightly; he could taste the bouquet of her blood as it bloomed on his tongue. In his time he’d tasted fear, anger, pain, lust, desire even, but this was different. He yanked her closer, setting his bite. His. She was his; this was what they were meant for. Not even their fall loosened his hold.
He drank deeper, trying to make sense of her complexity. It wasn’t that she was a slayer, though there was no mistaking the way her nature went straight to his groin, his erection pressing against his abdomen. He could taste each drop of pleasure swelling in her; the slow, surging ecstasy pulsing as one through them both. He held them both to that edge, the pain and pleasure in tight harmony. But there was something more, something heady he needed to discern.
If only he could remember. The thing he needed to do; it tickled at the horizon of his mind. The answer was in her blood, if he could only recognize the taste. She clutched at him and he pressed his thigh to her heat; the white hot spice of her orgasm hitting them both as he lowered his weight upon her. Exquisite.
Still he wanted – no – needed more. Another draught, and another, and then like a clarion he knew. Love. This was how love tasted. He gasped, releasing his hold and falling away.
She was as limp as he gathered her in his arms, kissing her wound, willing it away.
“You can’t die. Please. Buffy. I love you. I love you.”
I ain't getting any older.
He’s skulked around the edges of her world a hundred days and nights, stood at her door a dozen times, and nearly been caught by her mini-slayers on more occasions than he likes to admit. Perhaps it is the image of being dragged in by a couple of these wee lasses as ‘the creepy older guy whose was staring at Buffy’ that finally does it. At least he can be the creepy older guy who rings the bell.
Except he doesn’t quite do that, given the fact that one of any hundred people might answer. It isn’t much of an exaggeration. He tells himself that it isn’t his need for control, or at least not completely. She deserves to be the first to know; after all he’s taken without asking, he vows to at least give her this.
He hears them before he sees them coming home from a night of fighting that which goes bump in it.
“Just this once,” Buffy says as she collects up their weapons still covered with bits of entrails and blood, sending them ahead and shouting after them, “Leave me some hot water, okay?”
He drinks in the grace of her movements as she wipes each blade clean. If he waits any longer, he’ll miss his chance, and, other than the fact she’s holding a weapon in each hand, it isn’t going to get better than now. He steps out of the deepest shadow of the garden and into the sepia of pre-dawn.
She turns slowly and he can’t help but notice that she’s still armed. Other than the tightness at the bridge of her nose, her face is unreadable. Maybe it has been too long; maybe they’ve both changed too much. Then she smiles as if someone just told her an amusing story and lowers her weapons. He lets out a breath and the tension drops out of his shoulders.
“Would you like to come in?” she asks.
Angel wonders if she feels a sense of déjà vu as they sit across from each other in a quiet nook off the kitchen, drinking tea and letting the idea that he is human steep a while.
“So the call telling me you were okay,” she says. “I thought it was because you didn’t want me to worry. About you being dead, or sucked into a hell dimension, or being tortured by some demon. But it was because you wanted me to call off the search. You didn’t want me to find out you were alive.” Her voice is an even mix of annoyance and wonder, which is more than he’d hoped for.
“I wasn’t ready,” he admits. He resists reaching for her hands, instead looking steadily into her eyes. “But I called you as soon as physically possible. They started preparing a padded cell with my name on it, I was so vocal in my obsession to reach you.”
He sips his tea, trying not to rush her. Instead, he pushes himself, his voice low as he says. “For what it’s worth, I was wrong. About keeping this from you. About keeping the prophecy to myself. About… so many things.” He’s a coward, still not spelling it all out.
“Thank you.” Her hands grip her cup so tightly he’s afraid it’ll break. Her voice is fierce as she says, “I’m still angry. It’s not the secrets and lies; with you, those are just… window dressing. It’s the way you decide you know what’s best and that ‘for the best’ always involves pushing me away. I’m not that girl anymore, the one who cries at your pronouncements and accepts their inevitability.”
“I know.” She should be angry; she deserves better, but she’s right, it’s her choice to make.
Her head snaps to the side and he thinks he sees the tops of heads duck out of the doorway. “Andrew’s been itching to give his unabridged, ninety minute PowerPoint presentation on respecting people’s privacy,” she shouts after them.
He hears a chorus of groans and an accented voice shouts back, “We’re going, we’re going.”
She stares a moment longer at the entrance, then apparently satisfied they really are gone, turns to him and asks, “What’s it been like? Being human again?”
He shrugs his shoulders. “I gained twenty pounds the first month.”
She smiles, broadly this time. “You look great now.”
“Good.” He flashes a quick smile, full of charm, then pulls back, wanting to respect her question with a real answer. “At first it was like being old wine in a new wine skin. It wasn’t just the food or the bruises – I had some gloriously vivid bruises early on. It was all the questions. Who was I if I wasn’t a vampire with a soul?”
“It didn’t remove my character flaws,” he says ruefully.
“Still making unilateral decisions?”
“If I were, I wouldn’t be here.”
She stares into her cup, swirling the remains of her tea. “Do you still love me?”
She stands up from the table without looking at him, taking the teapot with her. Setting it on the sideboard, she moves to the door. Her rejection stings, even if he deserves this and more. At first it doesn’t register that she’s not leaving, that instead she’s closing the door and locking it, returning to where he sits.
She pulls him into a kiss that pushes everything else out of his head. As they sweep the table clear, fingers fumbling to unbutton, unzip, unclasp, and become undone in each other, he embraces the déjà vu, his kisses promising that this time will be different.
Feed Spiralleds Visit Spiralleds
Author's Notes: Rating: R Summary: Is it better to not make promises if you can’t keep them? Disclaimer: Thank you, Joss, for sharing. Spoilers: Canon from both BtVS and AtS, mainly early seasons, and vague comic canon. Notes: The idea for the structure was inspired by the use of quintessential quotes used as the springboard for a cluster of drabbles Sunnyd_lite did for the most recent round of Fall for S/X. Thanks to Buffyworld.com for the transcript excerpts from Halloween, Innocence, Enemies,Welcome to the Hellmouth, and Chosen respectively. A big thank you to my betas, Married_n_mich, Mommanerd, Soundingsea, and Sunnyd_lite. Without them there may not have five things or an R rating.