There's no discussion.
From the moment she enters the room, sees the golden and predatory gleam in his eyes, she knows that whatever was between them is gone. In its place is something more potent. She squares her shoulders and waits for him to set the terms, but there are none.
There is only this.
Past conversations, past hurts, past confrontations shoot through her with a rush of adrenaline. He is looking at her in a way he never would have dared look at her before. His eyes are intense, dark and hot. Those eyes suck the moisture from her mouth and send pure desire, lightning quick, through her. Not even when he'd taken her innocence had he looked at her like this.
"Take your clothes off," he says quietly.
Her fingers fumble with the buttons. She's not used to taking orders, but she doesn't even consider opposing him. This is the way it will be, has to be. This is the way she wants it.
She slides her blouse off; the silk rasps against her arms. The room is cold and her nipples press against the thin cotton bra she's wearing. She unbuckles her belt, steps out of her shoes and slides her pants down over her legs. She shivers in her prim cotton panties.
He moves closer and she wills herself to stay still. His eyes are narrowed and she can see that he is appraising her body; he's looking at her as though she is a slave on the trading block and he is trying to figure out if she is worth the price. She shudders under his scrutiny.
Why is she here? She wonders. Shouldn't she be soaking up the sun on some Tropical Island or laughing in a British pub with Giles and Willow, or patrolling the new Hellmouth in Cleveland with Faith? She smiles a little.
"You're amused?" he asks.
She drops her eyes. "No."
"Tell me," he encourages, his voice serious.
"I just can't believe..."
She looks up at him. His face is so beautiful; he's almost painful to look at. "I'm sorry."
He seems to consider his next words.
"You won't know when or where. Ever. Do you understand?"
"When you're with me-you're with me."
"Yes," she says.
She wants this, craves it, even though she isn't exactly sure what this is. She is only sure of two things. She is tired of being in charge, of barking out orders, of spinning all the plates. She is tired, bone-tired. Also, he is the only person she trusts. Ironic, really, considering the risks.
Her skin feels raw, though he hasn't touched her. She remembers the kiss they'd shared in the crypt just before Sunnydale was sucked into the desecrated earth on which it stood. Does he remember? The specific feeling of his mouth on hers. His hand holding the back of her head. Steady. Steady.
But the kiss, the shared revelations in the cemetery, hadn't lead to anything but more distance. Until he'd found her, looking for trouble in that grimy back alley in east LA. She'd been trapped by three particularly brawny vampires. And the fight seemed to have gone out of her. A part of her brain seemed to be whispering, let it go, give in. Then, down the alley, she'd seen a dark shadow stalking towards her with purpose and deadly intent.
He'd disposed of the three vamps before she'd even had a chance to pick herself up off the litter-strewn and greasy pavement.
She'd started to protest, to tell him that she didn't need a babysitter, but he'd advanced on her with such dead eyes that for a moment she thought he was someone else and the words died in her throat. He reached down and pulled her up and she waited for him to say something, anything, to her. But he was silent and his eyes recommended that she should be silent, too.
He pulled her further into the alley, away from the flickering lights of the street. And there, in a dark doorway, he'd pushed down her jeans and underwear and, releasing himself from his pants, he'd lifted her up and impaled her onto his cock. Her body resisted the intrusion but that didn't stop him, even though he must have felt it. He didn't even wait for her to catch her breath, to push the discomfort from her lungs, before he began his merciless rhythm. All she could do was focus on maintaining her balance, wrapping her legs around his lean waist, her arms clutching his shoulders beneath the black duster.
It seemed to last forever, but she didn't come. He wouldn't let her, changed his pace, the depth of his thrusts, whenever she hovered on the brink. When he was done, he'd let her slide down the door. He'd fastened his pants and then knelt down and lifted her quivering chin.
"I know what you're looking for, Buffy," he'd said. "You won't find it here."
She'd been in LA for weeks but had stayed away from Wolfram and Hart. Hadn't seen Angel or any of the people he associated with. Kept a low profile, skimming the edges of LA's underbelly, knowing that Angel traveled in significantly different circles now.
Seeing him had opened up a need in her so deep and so wide that she was aware, for the first time in a long time, of her mortality. So she'd called him and asked to meet.
This is how she's come to be standing in this room, barely dressed. Angel is across the room, but her skin feels as though he is near-by, touching her. She digs her nails into her palms and tries to maintain eye contact, but this is a battle of wills that he wins every time. He's had decades of practice staring people down.
He glides closer. She can't help it; she whimpers with need.
A small smile quirks his face.
"We have no past here," he says. "We are not what we were before. Do you understand?"
"Yes." She is shivering now.
He nods. "Don't expect nobility or restraint from me; I've got none left ."
He hooks his fingers over her bra band where it lies beneath the valley of her breasts and pulls her forward. She is pressed against him and can feel his erection through his pants.
No vows will be exchanged. She knows this, knows it as certainly as she knows that he will hurt her and in the end, she will beg him to.
He offers her work at Wolfram and Hart. She hesitates, but she needs the money. He makes up something for her to do, gives her an office and a paycheck and then stays out of her way. The e-mail is not unexpected.
Meet me on the 6th floor at 9p.m. Don't be late.
The corridor is dark, but lined with hundreds of votive candles. The smell of roses permeates the air. Buffy steps out of the elevator cautiously and eyes the candle-lit path. She has to admit it; she is nervous. It has been a long time since she'd walked through a cemetery, an activity she had done fearlessly for over 7 years. How scary can it be, walking down a hall? Still, her stomach is flipping recklessly. She has no idea of what to expect and her instinct is to be wary.
She starts to walk, tucking her apartment keys into her pants pocket. At the end of the hall, the trail of candles leads left and Buffy follows them. At the end of that hall is a door. Buffy hesitates before opening it and stepping into the dark room.
"Right on time," Angel says behind her.
Buffy stops and feels him move to stand closer. Then he takes her hand and leads her across the room. It seems to be a big space and it isn't warm, although Buffy doubts that Angel would notice that.
When they stop, she feels Angel's fingers at the buttons on her blouse, at the buckle of her belt. Nervousness tickles her throat. She shivers suddenly, feeling Angel's cool fingers grazing the skin along the scalloped edge of her lace bra. She takes a step back. Another step and feels a wall behind her. Before she can react, Angel has both her hands in his and in seconds she is chained, her arms lifted over her head.
"Angel?" Buffy calls, trying to keep the fear from her voice. The darkness swallows his name and there is no reply.
Angel steps back and admires the view. He's had a lifetime or two of practice with this sort of thing: bondage, sensory deprivation, torture. He walks closer. The chain is on a swivel and Buffy turns towards him.
He moves over to the light switch, turning it on and flooding the room with pale, yellow light. Buffy sucks in a breath. The room is filled with odd-looking furniture, things she has never seen before, as well as a huge four poster bed. One wall is covered with what looks like weapons, including knives and whips. A long narrow table runs along another wall. The room is windowless. There is one other door, close to the bed.
Buffy's mouth goes dry. "What is this place?"
"Only I have the key. Only you and I know this room exists. You will come here when I tell you to come here and when you are here, you will do as I say," Angel says, his voice flat. "Do you understand?"
"Outside of this room, Buffy, you are free to go about your business. To do whatever it takes to get your life back on track, but here-here you are mine."
"Do you?" Angel says, crossing the room once more so that he is standing in front of Buffy once again. "Then understand this: The rules are mine. The rules are strict. If you disobey the rules, I will punish you."
Buffy's eyes widen.
"If you play by the rules, I will reward you," Angel added, his voice softening.
"That's my girl."
He turns her then on the swiveling chain and presses her against the wall. Reaching up, he locks the chain in place and then, kicking her legs open he secures them in shackles bolted to the floor. He walks to the table against the opposite wall and selects a pair of scissors and a thin riding crop. He moves back to the bound Slayer and cuts off her bra and panties, dropping them unceremoniously at her feet. He drops the scissors, as well.
Buffy tries to look back at him but she is pressed too closely against the wall, her arms stretched flat against her ears.
Angel steps back, admiring the arched curve of her back, the staircase of her spine, the little dimples at the top of her ass, the smooth creamy flesh stretched over muscle and bone. She is both fragile and indestructible and he is already considering all the ways he will break her. He can't keep the images from his brain. He slides the crop through his fingers and then, stepping forward, sends it whizzing through the air to land across Buffy's ass.
He admires the immediate welt. Sends the crop out again and again, painstakingly building a pattern of criss-crossed lines that travel from the top of her legs, up and over the swell of her butt, stopping before her lower back. Through it all she remains quiet, but he can see her shoulders shake with the effort. He doesn't count the lashes and wonders if she has.
His arm is tireless, but he doesn't want to break her skin, so after several minutes, when the welts have multiplied, he stops, and walks closer to her. He lays his hand on her ass and is rewarded with her stinging heat.
Angel reaches up and releases Buffy's hands. They drop heavily from the awkward position. Then he bends down and unfastens the manacles at her feet.
"Get dressed. We're done here."
Buffy can't bear to turn around. Her ass is stinging horribly and she can't even imagine what it will feel like to put her pants back on. She can't be sure if it is the pain of the crop, or the humiliation she feels, that most disturbs her. She bends down and reaches for her panties, wincing when she realizes that they are ruined and she will have to bear the denim of her jeans against her sore bottom.
When she turns she sees that Angel is watching her. His eyes are flat, dark discs, revealing nothing. He is holding her blouse and she reaches for it. Their fingers touch and the moment is charged with electricity.
The emptiness in his eyes scares her; Angel's eyes had always been filled with such tenderness.
She buttons her blouse and then picks up her pants and slides them on, feeling the scrape of the stiff material over her sore bottom. She tries to keep her face as blank as his. Steps into her shoes.
She has questions. She wants to know if this is the way it will always be between them, if the pain will always outweigh the pleasure. She wants to know what his heart says, especially since his eyes say nothing. She wants to understand what motivates him. But he is turning away from her now and she doesn't have the courage to call him back.
The black sedan pulls up to the curb, but before Buffy's Slayer senses kick in a tall, muscular man has grabbed her arms, fastening them behind her in handcuffs. She kicks out with her legs until those, too, are caught. Someone places a blindfold over her eyes, pulls it tight, and she is shoved into the back seat of the vehicle.
There are at least two men in the car with her, but neither of them speaks. It is a short ride back to Wolfram and Hart; at least, she assumes that's where Angel's thugs are taking her. The car rolls to a silent halt and her feet are unbound, then she's pulled from the backseat and walked to an elevator. Up they go. She tries to count how many floors, but it's impossible.
When the door dings open, she's pulled from the elevator and led along a long straight hallway. Someone knocks. Someone answers the door. A hand on her upper arm pulls her into the room. Someone unfastens her handcuffs and whispers, "Leave the blindfold." Unmistakably Angel.
His hands at her skirt. Her skirt whispering over her thighs. Panties bunched at her ankles. The welts on her ass have faded. He helps her up onto some sort of platform and slides her back. The bench stops suddenly and her legs dangle awkwardly over the edge. She feels him lift first one leg and then the other, placing them in stirrups, the kind her doctor uses when he does an internal exam. Her heart starts hammering in her chest.
"You must stay very still," Angel says.
Nothing happens for a long moment and then she feels a warm, wet cloth between her legs. Then the scratch of a razor against her mound. Slow, careful strokes remove the protective covering of dense, curly hair. Buffy stays very still. She doubts Angel is using a safety razor. She tries very hard to remember to breathe.
"Oh," he says.
He says the word and then Buffy feels the sting. And then she feels his mouth on her, his tongue in her, and she feels the world spinning away. He sucks; his mouth working the small wound with ferocious tenderness. His tongue dances over her clit and it seems as though her pulse is concentrated in that little kernel of flesh. There is only the sound of her breath, his mouth.
Finally the torment stops. She hasn't come and she's throbbing for release. She feels the warm cloth again, wiping away traces of blood and the wetness he has created. Then, his fingers smooth some sweet-smelling cream over her hairless lips. She wants to feel herself, to run her fingers over the place his mouth has just been. She wants to rub herself, but senses Angel would not like this.
"You're so beautiful," he whispers and in that moment Buffy knows that he loves her.
One night she wakes up to find him sitting on the edge of her bed. The moon spills across his face, illuminating the steep slant of his cheek. His skin looks like alabaster.
"Take your clothes off," he whispers.
She hesitates, but just for a moment, before sitting up and pulling her T-shirt over her head. He hasn't really hurt her before and she has no reason to expect that he will; still, she is nervous because he is in her room and it's the first time he's done this. Stealth comes in handy.
Buffy shimmies out of her drawstring pants. She's naked and hyper-aware of his gaze, which seems to wash over her flushed skin like an incoming tide.
"Lie down," he says. She does as he requests, hands flat on either side of her thighs.
He stands up and shrugs off his coat. He's wearing a long-sleeved silk T-shirt that clings to his body. Buffy swallows against the sight of his shoulders and chest.
There is so much Buffy wants to say to Angel. She misses their long talks and the silence that drifted between the words, comfortable and safe. Their silences are filled with anticipation now, with longing and desire and the sharp tang of something else. Not fear, Buffy wouldn't say she is fearful. But she never knows when or where she will see him and when they are together she never knows what he will do. Some part of her grapples with this lack of control; another part willingly gives it up.
"Reach up and hold your headboard and don't let go," he says.
She stretches her arms up and grabs the wrought iron spindles. Her breasts lift up and she feels her nipples stiffen, longing for contact. She watches Angel warily and he meets her eyes without hesitation. He is not afraid of her scrutiny.
He slides his big hand up her leg and when he gets to her upper thigh he pulls her leg out, exposing her naked center. He moves his hand and she pulls her leg closed, just a little, just enough so she doesn't feel so open and vulnerable.
He shakes his head and moves her leg back, pulls the other leg out and cautions her, without a word, to leave them. Her hands start to sweat; she can feel her palms slide against the slender posts she holds. Then he gets up and crosses the small room, dragging a plain wooden chair next to the bed. He sits, leans forward, his arms folded along each other, elbows on his knees.
"Listen to me," he says.
She has no choice, but she longs to hear the words anyway. Craves them.
"Before I was turned I was a disrespectful whelp," he says. "I never did an honest day's work and was a disgrace to my father and my mother. I caroused in the village pubs, drank myself stupid and fucked every halfway decent looking wench in the county. I had no idea what I wanted and I didn't care to listen to anyone's advice. I thought I was better than any menial job, better than any other man, better than my father, who was a mean son-of-a-bitch, but deserved better than he got.
"Until I was cursed, the demon lived much as the man had, without any regard for human life or decency. If I could degrade a person, hurt and humiliate them, take pleasure from them and give them pain, I was satisfied.
"Then, the Gypsies put a stop to it all, giving me the one thing that would put a stop to me, a soul and a conscience and the Technicolor memories of all I had done. The rapes, the murders, the torture all flooded back and drove me away from the humanity that had once so delighted me. Until Whistler found me and showed me you."
Buffy felt the pain in her throat; the thick, prickly feeling that indicated imminent tears.
"You absolved me, Buffy, without even knowing that you had. You saw the worth in me, even when there was none to see. I wonder if you understand what that meant to me, what it means to me?
"Look at you," he continues. "So perfect. Your strength isn't in this body, though; it's inside, in your heart and mind. I do understand why you've held on to us, Buffy. To let go of the possibility would be to abandon all hope."
She feels the first tear slide out of her eye and slip down towards her ear. She blinks back others. She can't show him her weakness, not so early.
"I still hope," he whispers. "I dream all the time of being able to touch you the way I want to touch you, to be able to kiss you without risking the world. But there are no guarantees in this life, Buffy."
"I know," she acknowledges.
He leans over her and she doesn't even register the fact that he is holding something in his hand until she feels a sharp tug. Then another. He's fastened clamps on her nipples and the pressure is exquisite. She doesn't understand. Hadn't he just been baring his soul, telling her things she'd longed to hear for weeks, months, years? Now this. She grips the bedposts tighter and closes her eyes.
Almost stops breathing when she feels a similar torturous pressure on her clit.
"God," she moans.
"Don't believe in him myself," Angel says and when she looks at him, he is staring raptly at the place between her legs. He crosses his arms and his biceps bulge. He seems to be waiting for something. "You should try to breathe."
She hadn't realized she wasn't and she sucks in a huge breath, waiting for the triangle of pain to disappear. The breathing helps a little; at least she doesn't have to concentrate on the way her nipples feel or the hot, wet heat of her crotch.
It's worse knowing that he's watching her and she feels utterly vulnerable. When he stands and moves to the end of the bed, she watches him warily, wonders what could come next. He kneels and slides his hands along the taut arch of her foot, along her sinewy calf, up her inner thigh and then she feels his finger slide into her. She gasps at her own sleekness.
He stretches her wide with another finger, then a third and she bites her lip against a moan. Who is this man? But she can't even hold onto the thought; he's tilted his cunning fingers up against the hidden spot in her cunt and she can feel her body react, a perfect mixture of pleasure and pain.
"Hold on, Buffy," he whispers and she splits apart against him, her hips arching off the bed, her hands clinging to the wrought iron posts as if abandoning them would mean drowning. It doesn't matter anyway; she feels submerged in pleasure.
When she focuses her eyes, Angel is sitting beside the bed. She reaches down to remove the nipple clamps and he shakes his head. Not yet. He slides his hands up her arms and wraps her fingers around the post, shakes his head as a caution.
"Close your eyes," he says.
She does as he asks. Feels his fingers at her breasts, and then...
She feels a blinding pain. She feels Angel's hands under her ass and he's pulling her down the bed; her legs are spread wide and tied off at each corner. She's pulled tight and the pain in her nipples is excruciating. She flutters her lashes and can see that he has attached some sort of fine chain to each clamp and pulled the chains up to fasten to the top of the head board.
"Please," she whimpers. He is deaf to her plea. He is standing at the foot of the bed regarding her with a curious mix of compassion and resolve.
He leans forward and removes the clamp from her clit and she feels a rush of gratitude that is short lived; the pain of blood rushing back into her sensitive flesh is almost worse than the punishing pressure of the clamp. He settles himself between her legs and, eyes on her face, draws his tongue along the length of her exposed flesh. She jerks helplessly as his teeth nibble on her sensitive nub and moans out loud when the pleasurepain shoots up her spine and collects in her breasts. She jerks again and is rewarded with a fresh jolt of pain.
She can't watch him anymore; his eyes are filled with something dangerous.
"Stay with me," he murmurs against her. His tongue is dancing over her with impossible precision and when she jerks again it is with her release. His face is buried in her cunt and his hands reach up to unfasten the clamps on her nipples; his gentle fingers massage the abused flesh.
She can't help the tears and she doesn't see him stand to untie her feet. Her tears are silent; as silent as he is when he leaves.
She doesn't see him for a week. Her nipples are still tender and every time she showers she feels a tingle of remembrance. How will she be able to look at him? She wonders. Not that they spend time in each other's company. They don't meet in the corridors of Wolfram and Hart and they don't patrol together. If Buffy wants to see him during office hours, she knows she will have to make an appointment with Harmony. She doesn't.
She paces her small office, ignoring the busy work Angel sends to her every day. She finally settles in her chair and swivels to look out the window. The sun is hovering on the edge of the city, just about to slip between the skyscrapers.
She doesn't hear the door to her office open and is startled when she feels the silk blindfold block her view of the sky. His cool, dry hand slides through hers and she's pulled gently to her feet. He leads her around the desk and over to the leather loveseat, where he sits and then pulls her down so that she is lying face down across his lap.
Buffy's swallows against the nervous knot in her throat. She feels his careful hands at the zipper on her skirt, feels the skirt slide down her legs. She's bare beneath it, at his request. She can smell herself. She assumes the worst and tenses her buttocks against the stinging slap of his hand, but it doesn't come. Instead, she feels his hand trail over her rounded bottom: fingertips and knuckles and her body relaxes.
Then she feels his finger along the crack of her ass. She can't help it; she wiggles a little. He shifts a muscular thigh so that it is pressed intimately against her. It is not the friction she wants or needs and Buffy feels a little ping of exasperation.
Angel's hand is massaging her ass now, fingers dipping to graze against her slit and slide back up through to circle her puckered anus. She is not experienced enough to do anything but dread his fingers there. She feels the slick lube along her crack and shivers as his fingers work closer and closer to her virgin hole. She wants to say no, but she can't seem to get the words out. The sudden feel of his finger penetrating her robs her of her voice, anyway.
The intrusion is alien and although his finger penetrates only shallowly, Buffy rejects the notion with all her might.
"Relax, Buffy." His words are a command.
She sighs with relief when he removes his finger, but the relief is replaced with fear when she feels something smooth and cool pressing against her. The tight ring of muscles resists, but Angel is firm and Buffy feels her reluctant anus stretch to receive the plug. The fit is snug and Buffy feels the pressure acutely.
"This plug is designed to stay put," Angel says, his fingers trailing down into her sticky, wet crotch. "If for some reason you have to take it out, you'll have to put it back because the next time I see your naked ass, I want to see that plug. Are we clear?"
"Yes," Buffy mumbles against the leather of the love seat.
"Your compliance is good."
Buffy does not reply. She is working hard to ignore the fullness in her backside and the need to expel the offensive toy.
"Tonight I'm taking you to dinner," Angel says, moving Buffy from his lap. "I'll pick you up at eight."
Buffy is ready when Angel arrives. She is wearing a low-cut, white peasant shirt and no bra. There's no point. Her skirt, a floral print that ends just above the knee with a tiny ruffle, hides the fact that she is not wearing underwear. The plug is still in place.
Angel is a thing of beauty. He's wearing a black shirt and cuffed trousers. When she opens the door to let him in, his mouth quirks in approval and she feels her nipples stiffen.
He leads her downstairs. There's a limo idling at the curb and Angel hands her into the back seat. He settles beside her and the driver eases back out into the traffic. He does not speak and he does not touch her and Buffy feels herself begin to anticipate both with nervous excitement.
She thinks, just for a moment, about Spike. She had pushed sexual boundaries with him, but her apparent lack of control was actually the exact opposite. She'd known what she wanted and she'd known her own limits. Lines were crossed, certainly, but not like this. She had never trusted Spike enough for this.
When the car pulls up in front of a little building on a side street in Hollywood, Buffy looks over at Angel. There is no awning or sign to indicate the building is anything but abandoned or at the very least, closed. Angel takes Buffy's hand and leads her to the front door. He pushes open the door and they step inside. A small vestibule, a dark podium and then, out of the shadows, a man with a neat goatee.
"Ah, Mr. Angel, your table is waiting."
Angel nods. He steers Buffy down a short hall and then into a room that is empty except for a square table, set for dinner. Hundreds of candles are lit everywhere.
Buffy turns to look at Angel. "What is this place?"
He shrugs, his massive shoulders lifting and falling with an elegance that belies their power.
The host, or whatever he is, is standing next to one of the chairs at the table.
"Mademoiselle," he says, indicating the chair where she should sit.
Buffy complies. Angel takes the seat to her right. The table is small enough that their legs touch underneath.
"I took the liberty of uncorking the Merlot," the man says.
"Fine," Angel replies.
The man leaves the room and returns immediately with a bottle or red wine. He pours a healthy measure in Buffy's glass and then puts the bottle on the table beside Angel.
"Aren't you having any?" Buffy whispers.
Buffy reaches for her glass and takes a sip of the wine. The red liquid is robust and warms a trail down her throat. She sips again.
Angel is watching her intently. His eyes burn with something Buffy recognizes as lust. She is certain her eyes mirror the same. They do not speak. There is nothing to say.
The man arrives with two plates of grilled vegetables and sets them on the table. The food smells delicious, but Buffy's stomach is churning wildly and she doubts she can eat a thing. Angel pushes his plate away and continues to stare at her.
"Stand up," he says, finally.
Buffy stands and Angel draws her closer. He slides his hands up under her skirt and down the slope of her ass to feel for the plug he inserted that afternoon. His eyes slide up to hers and he rewards her with a small smile. She feels his fingers at the base of the plug and gently he pulls it from her. The relief she feels is immediate.
"Eat your appetizer," he says.
While Buffy eats dinner, a small portion of linguine tossed in olive oil, fresh basil, and seafood, Angel drinks blood. The man pours it from a beautiful carafe into a pewter goblet.
He has barely spoken to her and Buffy has drunk more wine than she normally would to fill the silence. Now she feels tipsy.
Angel's servant, or whatever he is, cleans off the table, whisking away everything including the tablecloth.
"Take your clothes off," Angel says, the words strangely innocuous.
Buffy pulls the blouse over her head and slips the skirt off, laying both neatly over the back of her chair.
"Up on the table."
Buffy hesitates, but only for a second, before she climbs on top of the table. She is on her hands and knees and she can feel the shivers start to roll through her. What will he do? Worse, what happens if the other man comes back while he is doing it?
Angel readjusts her limbs. He reaches beneath her and skates his fingers over her turgid nipples. He strokes her flanks and her back and the soles of her feet.
That's when the man comes back in pushing a trolley covered with a while cloth. His eyes are averted. He parks the trolley behind Buffy.
"That will be all," Angel tells him. Buffy watches the man slip silently from the room.
"I lie in bed at night and wonder what I'll do next," he says, moving closer and gathering her hair up into an untidy knot. His fingers touch the faded scar on her neck and Buffy's body flushes with warmth as she remembers that night so long ago when he took sustenance from her.
"You'd think that after a couple centuries you'd know just about everything there is know about sex, but when it comes to you, Buffy, I feel like a virgin. Your body is a temple and I want to worship it and defile it, cherish and ruin it." His voice is a whisper, is close to her ear. "Make no mistake, I am a demon, with a demon's appetites."
The table is hard beneath Buffy's knees. Angel's words have sobered her slightly.
Angel is standing behind her now and she hears the rattle of things being moved on the trolley.
"What I think about mostly is how you taste. Your cunt tastes like honey." Buffy shudders at the explicitness of his words. "And your skin tastes like dew. But it's your blood, Buffy. It's your blood that calls to me. I never stop wanting that, to feel it rushing down my throat, to feel its power. It makes me hard just thinking about it."
Angel's words are like an aphrodisiac. Buffy feels the desire loosening her limbs, her crotch. Her breath is shallow.
"These last few years that's all it would take to get me off, Buffy; the thought of you suppliant beneath me, a willing participant, Jesus." Angel's voice stops. Buffy thinks that if he doesn't touch her soon she will have to touch herself.
"The taste of your blood changes when you come. Did you know that?" Angel has regained his composure and is circling the table like a shark. "I knew, I knew as soon as you came apart, would have known even if you hadn't been underneath me."
Buffy remembers, too. The fierce but quick pain of his teeth as they pierced the tender skin of her neck, the sudden rush of blood from the wound, her head spinning and her limbs liquefying and the sensation of his hard manhood pressed against her. She couldn't help it then; her hips bucked restlessly mimicking the act she had only experienced once.
Buffy closes her eyes and moans and when she opens her eyes she discovers that Angel is kneeling in front of her.
"It took every ounce of strength in me to stop drinking. The man fought the demon and the man won, but just. If you wonder why I left, if you think it was about not being able to have sex with you, you're wrong," Angel says, his eyes serious. "From the moment I took your blood, your blood screamed at me. I was ravenous all the time, wanted you all the time, dreamed about your blood all the time and I couldn't be sure--"
"I couldn't trust myself around you, not after that."
"Angel," she starts to offer comfort, but he stands suddenly and moves behind her. She hears the rasp of his zipper, feels his hands on her back, pushing her down so that her chest is on the table and her ass is lifted. Once she's positioned, he moves to stand somewhere behind her.
"Blood is air," he says. And though he doesn't touch her, Buffy feels her orgasm, distant still, but gaining speed.
She is directed to the room and when she arrives he tells her to strip and then he chains her, arms and legs spread in a crude approximation of an 'X', to the wall.
Will he flog her again, she wonders, and her heart starts pounding erratically in her chest.
"I'm not going anywhere," she says, "so why do you chain me so much?"
"I like it," he replies and then considers her question more carefully. "And I think you like it, too."
She drops her eyes. She is not yet ready to admit to herself how wet she gets just thinking about giving him control. What happened to the girl he met so many years ago, she wonders? Where was the girl he'd given the claddagh to, the girl who'd sunk the sword through his belly, the girl who'd stepped from the darkness into the light at his insistence, but discovered that the darkness suited her better. Was this what was happening here?
Bound, she feels giddy and free. Her nipples knot and it feels as though every drop of blood in her body is rushing straight to the apex of her thighs.
"Do you ever think about what your limits might be?" he asks.
She shakes her head.
"I do," he says.
Sometimes Angel invites Buffy to his suite. She feels oddly jittery in his rooms. She'd felt comfortable in his underground room in Sunnydale and the mansion had almost felt normal; she'd only been to the building ruined by the bomb once, and never to the Hyperion. His suite at Wolfram and Hart is strangely void of all personality. Angel lives here, obviously, but doesn't seem to really live here.
He pours her a glass of wine and he puts on music and then he sits, quietly, and watches her fidget.
Sometimes he asks her questions about Giles and Dawn, Willow and Xander. She answers them as best she can.
Tonight he asks her about Spike.
"You said he was in your heart," he says. "What did you mean?"
"You need to be truthful, Buffy."
"Can't or won't?"
"What difference does it make?"
Angel is at her side with blinding speed. Gentle hands extract the wineglass from her curled fingers and set it aside and then urge her up as leads her to the dining room table. He presses her forward, face down and the table is at the perfect height for her to be bent over at a right angle. Angel flips her skirt up and pulls her plain cotton panties down and Buffy feels a gush of moisture in her crotch.
"Tell me Buffy."
The slap of Angel's bare hand against her ass startles her and excites her and the sound that comes out of her mouth is half groan and half moan.
"Did you love him? Do you love him?" Angel asks.
What answer will please him, Buffy wonders, and her hesitation prompts another stinging slap against her bare skin.
"I didn't love him."
"Liar." He hits her again.
"I don't know what you want me to say, Angel," she whispers.
"Did he make you come?"
This is not a question she can possibly get right. She clutches the edges of the table and turns her cheek to rest it against the smooth wood. She's impossibly wet and she wishes he'd touch her, really touch her so that she could split apart and fly away.
"Yes," she whimpers.
Her ass is burning now.
"Did you scream when you came?"
"He hurt you and you liked it."
If she could just get her hand between her legs, she thinks. But he would see her and her shame would be a living thing.
But then it doesn't matter; he slaps her three times in quick succession and she can feel the horrible, amazing flutter of her womb. She closes her eyes and when she opens them, she is alone.
"What happens if you get your Shanshu?" she asks. This is a question she has wanted an answer to for weeks, but has never had the courage to ask. Truthfully, she isn't sure which answer she most wants to hear.
He eyes her cautiously.
"I know what you mean, Buffy."
He is fastening her wrists to shackles at the head of the bed in the room on the sixth floor. The air is warm, but she feels the prickle of a chill across her skin.
There is a knock at the door. Before Angel moves to answer it he blindfolds her.
Someone else has entered the room and Buffy listens carefully, trying to discern whom the visitor might be. Angel is silent and so is his guest. She is thankful that she is not naked; she wouldn't want to be vulnerable to someone's appraising gaze. She can hear rustling, a zipper.
The bed dips as someone sits beside her and then Angel's urgent whisper in her ear: "Don't make a sound."
She nods and then Angel removes the blindfold. Spike is standing naked at the end of the bed, his cock twitching erratically, thick and purple.
Buffy opens her mouth to protest, her eyes searching for Angel's. He is standing behind Spike and his eyes are remote, dangerous.
When Buffy shifts her gaze to Spike, she finds that his face reveals both amusement and resignation.
Angel moves closer and pushes Spike forward and Buffy winces. She senses, without really knowing, what's to come. Spike's eyes drift shut and when he opens them again it's because Angel has rammed his cock into Spike's asshole. The bed shudders with the impact.
"Jesus," Spike says.
Angel is watching Buffy. It's not as bad as she thinks; he's lubed himself adequately, though not generously, and it's been a while since he's taken Spike. This will hurt Spike and Angel is glad.
Every time Angel thrusts, Spike winces. His elbows are locked on the bed to keep himself from pitching forward. And his eyes are an awful combination of lust and agony.
Buffy's hands are tingling; she feels hopelessly voyeuristic. Like a peeping Tom or some other depraved pervert. She's never seen two men have sex, hasn't ever really given much thought to the fact that they could, although obviously she's known gay men; Andrew lived in her house for half a year, after all. Seeing Spike like this, helpless, ruthlessly impaled on Angel's dick, is frightening and, worse, somehow exciting.
She knows that if she were able to reach Spike, to hold his rampant sex, he'd spill into her welcoming hands in an instant. Maybe this is the reason Angel handcuffed her. But it isn't even seeing Spike being used that turns her on so much as watching Angel's face, void of softness, intent and dark, the muscles in his shoulders bunched and powerful. When his face changes and his fangs descend, Buffy feels a ripple of liquid rush through her belly; when he leans forward, eyes on hers, and sinks his teeth into the sweet curve between Spike's neck and shoulder, Buffy feels a headlong descent towards oblivion.
Angel comes; she's sure of it. Spike does too, long ropy threads of semen that land across her legs and the bed. It earns him a punch in the back of the head.
"Bloody hell," Spike grunts.
Angel has already buckled his belt; his shirt hangs open and Buffy focuses on the pale white skin visible through the red silk.
"Get the fuck out of here," Angel says quietly.
"You just gonna leave her like this then?" Spike says, standing up.
That earns him another punch. Buffy hears the crunch of bone.
Spike laughs a little and Buffy knows that he won't be able to resist baiting Angel.
"Maybe you should keep me around," Spike suggests.
"Or maybe I should just kill you."
Angel hands Spike his clothes and steps aside to let Spike past. The fight seems to have gone out of them both.
When it is apparent that Spike has left the outer room, Buffy says: "Why?"
At first Angel doesn't seem to know the answer and then it seems as though he is considering the possible answers and finally he says: "Because I can."
He asks her to meet him in the very same alley where he'd found her all those weeks ago. "Wear white," he says. "No bra, no panties."
It's been a lifetime since Buffy has been vulnerable in a public place. She still patrols, but not as much and hardly ever alone. Usually Gunn tags along, looking for a fight, something to take the bad taste of being a white-collar schmuck from his mouth. Buffy prefers to be alone, can never find the right rhythm with someone else, someone who is not Spike. Or Angel.
She paces the fenced off belly of the alley, watching the lit street-end, waiting for Angel to stride down the long, dark path to her. Isn't expecting him to drop from the sky, which is exactly what he does.
She wants to laugh. Since when did Angel start to make the grand gesture? Is this how power has corrupted him?
Buffy's fingers play with the dangling ends of the too-long sleeves of her white cotton sweater. Her nipples are hard and she knows he can see them. She is wearing a knee-length skirt, some synthetic material that caresses her bare buttocks and thighs.
He doesn't say anything at first. He seems to be sizing her up and for a second Buffy is reminded of the very first time she ever saw Angel, in an alley just like this. A beautiful stranger. She shivers remembering. Had she known, even then, that he would be the one, the only one?
She starts when she feels Angel's knuckles against her cheek.
"What?" he says.
"Nothing. I was just thinking."
He puts his hands on her shoulders and presses down and she gives in and drops to her knees in front of him. He unzips his pants and pulls his hard cock out. He has to bend slightly at the knees to fit it into her mouth, but even then it's awkward; she's all teeth and can feel her throat clutch at the intrusion. He doesn't care; he rocks back and forth, steadying himself by holding her head.
She's hardly had time to swallow his come when he's lifted her by the arms and drug her across the alley to a precarious pile of wooden crates. He turns her away from him, lifts her skirt up and pushes her down. She can feel the rough wood against her aching breasts, can feel him, hard again, pressing into her and she gasps.
He has her sweater, two handfuls for control and leverage, and he's riding her as though she were a beautiful animal: sleek and strong and trained. Buffy bucks back to meet him and for a moment it never even occurs to her that what they are doing is sordid. It only matters that he is in her.
He slips one hand under her hips, finds the beacon of her clit and massages it. That's it. That's it.
"Angel!" She screams.
"I'm here," he says.
And he is.
Everything is changing between them. Buffy knows it and she knows Angel knows it, too. He calls for her less, comes to her less, hesitates when he ties her up. The thought of what is inevitable hurts her more than anything he's done to her body these last few weeks. They will part. The have to. They always do.
She wonders if he passes his time with Spike, can't even contemplate the thought without getting light-headed.
A week passes. Two. She stops going to the office, spends more time out on the streets at night. She's really not expecting it when the limo pulls up and two Wolfram and Hart employees usher her into the back seat.
She sits quietly, her hands folded primly in her lap.
In the underground parking garage, Angel is waiting for her. He nods his thanks to the men and takes Buffy's hand, leads her to the executive elevator. They go straight to the roof.
Up there, the city is a sight to behold. So is he. And she wonders what she would change. Killing him? Betraying him? Loving him?
"I just wanted you to see..." he hesitates, "this."
She looks out at the lights, the dark shadows and shifting crescent moon.
"I know," she says.
"Do you?" he asks and he turns serious eyes to her.
"I've always known."
He kisses her. His lips are cool and pliant and Buffy knows her own mouth trembles as she kisses him back.
She also knows that he is right. They've crossed the line.
She breaks the kiss and steps back.
"It's a beautiful view, Angel," she says.
"Yes. It is."
He is looking at her.
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