Part 1

A Hellmouth Christmas Carol  

II

Authors: LelaRose and Gia, with contribution from Rehatha

Fic Notes: <.> will represent the characters thoughts; <italics> represents Angelus's thoughts. ** will be used to emphasize a word.

Feedback: Always! Please feed the writers… gia@everysixseconds.com or lelarose47@hotmail.com

Distribution: All the usual suspects currently hosting LelaRose or Gia fic; Gia's site: www.everysixseconds.com; anywhere else just let me know.


With school on break for the winter holidays, a table at the back of the Bronze was a rare and desperately coveted prize. Being a simple and small-town night spot, the Bronze did not cater to reservations so prized seating was a first come, first claim commodity, unless one happened to be capable of the tried and true method of acquisition known as intimidation, a skill Angel excelled at, so in short order a table was theirs.

It was tucked in a shadowed alcove and was as quiet and secluded as the crowded club was likely to get.

Buffy glanced around, half expecting to find the gang grouped around a table near the dance floor, but there was no sign of Willow, Xander or their respective love interests, a happenstance she was grateful for. She didn't want to have to explain Angel or his presence…at least not until they had talked things over and she understood where they stood herself. Not that they had done much talking since they had arrived at the Bronze; they had ordered the drinks that sat untouched between them and then had sat in silence.

Angel couldn't take his eyes off Buffy. He hadn't realized just how starved he had been for the sight of her. Her presence was a bliss he had nearly forgotten. He couldn't help cherishing every little smile she gave or any touch she gave him. Their hands had brushed innocently as they had seated themselves and his pants had been uncomfortably tight ever since.

<Look, I know you want to romance her. Can't we just recite poetry or something while we fuck her?>

Angel choked on a sip of his tepid tea and waved Buffy's concern aside as he cleared his throat. <Can't you think of anything else?> Angel asked his demon irritably.

<Well…no,> Angelus responded. <What's this? You suddenly remember that I'm here, soul boy? You've been ignoring me for so long, pretending I wasn't here that I was beginning to wonder whether or not you could even hear me.>

<I hear you. I give you the attention you deserve. None. And you've been getting awfully chatty since we hit town.> Angel replied, watching his concerned love watch him.

<What can I say?> the demon drawled. <I was as unhappy in LA as you were and saw no point in being 'chatty' as you call it. And here…with her. I'm happy. You're happy. I've got things to say and things to want. And for hell's sake, would you take the girl out on to the dance floor and at least cop a feel?>

Angel saw Buffy's head bobbing to the song that had just started playing. He reached his hand across the table to gently squeeze hers.

"Would you like to dance?"

"I thought you'd never ask," she said playfully.

Angel led her to the crowded dance floor and pulled her in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid cheek against his chest. It felt so good to be back in his strong arms…so good to feel his coolness against her.


If you're lost you can look - and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you - I'll be waiting
Time after time

After my picture fades and darkness has
Turned to gray
Watching through windows - you're wondering
If I'm O.K.
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time -

You said go slow -
I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

Time after time
Time after time
Time after time
Time after time


Angel reached around to capture one of her hands. He twined his fingers with hers and brought them to his lips to kiss; that one gesture told her more than any words he could say would ever tell her. She laid her head back on his shoulder and snuggled closer in his arms. He laid his face on the top of her head and inhaled her intoxicating aroma.

<You're killing me. You're honestly killing me. Stop being so sentimental and cop a damn feel. Her ass. Her breast. Fuck, give me a scrap here. In fact, enough of this lovey-dovey wuss shit. I want to fuck her. You want to fuck her. She wants to be fucked. When do we get to fuck her?> Angelus asked impatiently.

<When the time comes I'll be making love to her,> Angel answered, easily slipping into the long forgotten habit of responding.

<Call it what you want as long as it's skin to skin…and as long as she's screaming and clawing up our back. I really liked it when she did that.>, the demon reminisced fondly.

This time Angel ignored him, his own limited memories of Buffy too precious to share.

One song seemed to turn into two, and then three into four and on and on; slow or fast, Buffy and Angel never seemed to move any faster. They clung to each other as the music floated over them and the people moved around them.

As much as Angel was enjoying having his love in his arms he knew they needed to talk. He leaned down and kissed her ear before whispering, "Buffy this is great and I'm really enjoying myself but I think we need to talk. Maybe we need to find a quieter place."

Buffy lifted her head off Angel's chest to look around the club; he was right. Instead of the crowd thinning it looked like more people had come in. As much as she hated to leave his arms, they needed to talk.

"'Kay," she conceded and followed him off the dance floor.

***

Angel glanced around the dimly lit diner: several tables occupied by whispering couples whose conversations were muted by a soft music playing in the background on a jukebox.

Buffy had told him that the diner was relatively new. Located in the warehouse district of Sunnydale, it catered mostly to truck drivers passing through and men and women meeting for illicit purposes. And it was only a few blocks away from Willies.

He and Buffy had taken a table towards the back so they could see the entrance and exits - a predator paranoia Cordelia had never understood and had often disparaged. They sat across from each other in the red vinyl booth with a red and silver Formica table separating them.

Again they had ordered and again their orders sat between them, unwanted obstacles to their conversation. Angel hadn't touched his tepid tea and Buffy was only stirring her soda while her apple pie congealed unappetizingly. Now that they were in a quieter atmosphere neither seemed inclined to talk; other than placing their order and Buffy catching Angel up on the latest developments in the lives of Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya, they hadn't said much.

Buffy broke the silence. "Do you want to start or do you want me to start."

Angel reached across the table and took her small hands in his. "I think I need to start." He leaned closer across the booth. "Buffy I could go into a long list of everything I've done wrong since the moment I asked you if you loved me before I told you about Dru. The thing is I've made every conceivable mistake in the virtual *Book of Love*. Every mistake but stop loving you. That I've never done. No matter what has happened in the past Buffy I've always loved you and I always will." He paused, searching for the right words. "Last night, yesterday..." For a moment Angel seemed confused. "Let's just say an old and dear friend showed me where my choices would take me - my wrong choices that is. It wasn't pretty. The point is, Buffy without you in my life I don't have a life. I have an unlife. You are the only one that has ever made me feel alive. Unbreathing, no heartbeat or body temperature but when I'm with you I feel alive. No one has ever made me feel that way again. Buffy I'd die over a thousand times to be with you, to keep you safe, to prove my love to you. I left you for many reasons Buffy," he decided to leave the part about her mother out of his explanation, "Mainly because I was afraid."

"Afraid of what?"

"Of loving you too much. Of having you waste your life on a thing who couldn't give you anything. Children, sunshine, Buffy I couldn't even kiss you properly for fear the demon in me would be unleashed again. And I'd do anything to keep him from hurting you again."

<Look I didn't hurt her. Okay I was a little pissed at the end. But I wasn't going to kill her. I was going to turn her. And let me tell you, we'd be deep into our happily ever after by now if Willow hadn't made with the curse. Can you imagine her brow ridges? Damn she'd be gorgeous…more gorgeous.>

Angel closed down his demon. He pushed him as far as he could into the background. "I was weak Buffy. Every moment with you I wanted you. I knew eventually I'd lose all self-control. I was so afraid that one day you'd wake up and ask yourself why you'd wasted your life on a man who couldn't give you anything."

"You're so wrong Angel. You gave me everything. My life was ruined the night you turned on your heel and walked away from me. That's when my life was ruined. You warned me a long time ago that when I kissed you I wouldn't wake up from a fairy tale and live happily ever after. I knew that back then and accepted it. I've always known it to be true. Back then I told you that when you kiss me I want to die."

The answer had so shocked him at the time that he hadn't known how to respond; she had sprinted away from him before he could ask her what she meant and he had never gotten up the nerve to ask afterwards.

<Well, ask her now, you Wuss.>

"Buffy what did you mean when you said that. I've never quite understood."

Buffy thought about the innocent 16 year old girl who had only seen Angel in her future. Who had only wanted Angel in her future.

"Just what I said. When I'm in your arms Angel, it's like if I die right then, it will be okay because I've already tasted heaven on earth."

She didn't get a chance to finish; Angel's torso was across the table and he was leaning into her as she met him half way their lips met in a tender kiss.

He gently nipped her bottom lip before sucking it between his teeth. He ran his cool tongue across her lips before he slipped his tongue between her lips urgently to taste the sweetness of her mouth.

Buffy met his urgency with her own, her little pink tongue caressing his and tasting the spicy flavor of him.

Angel cupped her head in his palms, drawing her closer to him. Her warmth permeated every pore of his body. He had forgotten how delicious she tasted; her flavor was earthy and sweet. Her arousal perfumed the air and Angel inhaled it as he began sucking on his lover's little hot tongue.

She crooned softly into his mouth, a soft vocal tribute to the pleasure he so generously lavished upon her and clung to his shoulders, her small fingers digging into his shirt desperately. She wanted to get closer to him, needed to be closer to him. Did he know the power of his kisses? Did he know just how good he tasted? How good he felt? How could he not?

The kiss was igniting him and he knew his hunger for her was slipping its leash. Not the demon, just his own passion and desperate desire for her. It had been too long since he'd held his love in his arms…since he smelled the erotic aroma of her arousal; he wanted to lift up her dress and impale her in one hard thrust.

<Not that I'm not enjoying this Romeo, but you are about to put your elbow in her apple pie. It might ruin the *romance* of the moment.>

Angel's brain slowly clicked in to the warning that his frustrated demon had relayed and remembered that they were at a diner; this was just not the place to make out with his lady. Reluctantly he gentled the hot kiss, cooling his raging passion and retracting his tongue from her mouth, which was difficult: one because he could never get enough of the taste of her and two because his lover had a vacuum hold on his tongue.

He growled softly and continued to gentle the kiss, extracting his tongue from her mouth. She whimpered and he nibbled at her bottom lip in consolation before licking the swollen, pouty curve.

Angel fisted his fingers in her hair and gently, but firmly pulled away; she moaned softly in desolation. He trailed a cool open-mouthed kiss to her ear and whispered, "Later. We need to get some things worked out first."

"Why?" she pouted.

"So we will never ever doubt each other's love again. So we will never leave each other again."

Buffy thought about all that Kendra had shown her. He had sacrificed his humanity to save her life. He had unselfishly given it back for the chance to protect her. The demon had said "Together you are strong." She intended to be with Angel forever. Only death would take her from his side. She decided to tell him so, "Death is the only way I'll let you leave me again," she vowed. "Even then I'll follow you to the beyond. I want eternity Angel."

Angel locked eyes with her. He loved her. He had been looking for the right words to assure her he'd never leave her, to express his love for her. He, a man who had spent a life time reading books, a man over two centuries old and his love not yet 20 years old had put it into three sentences. He couldn't help but smile at the irony of it all.

"That's about what I've been trying to say, baby."

"Well, why didn't you?"

He laughed ruefully, "Guess I was trying too hard."

"Angel can we get out of here?'" she asked.

Angel smiled slightly in response. "Yes."

His heated gaze locked with hers, their hunger for each other nearly scorching the air between them. He threw a twenty on the table, nearly three times the amount of their tab and they both scooted out of the booth.

They barely made it to the car before he spun her around to take her lips in a kiss so hot Buffy felt steam was rising from them.

Backing her against the vehicle, Angel lifted her on to the hood of the car and stepped between her thighs. He clutched her to him, arching her until her breasts pressed against the wall of his chest.

Her breath caught at the anticipation of having him there, poised at the entrance of her body and Buffy moaned, tangling her fingers in his dark hair and pulling him closer to her. She opened her mouth wider to allow him better access and Angel's tongue licked every corner of her lips before voraciously sucking her tongue.

She tasted just as he remembered and more: sweet, earthy, natural. He couldn't get enough of her. He wanted to devour her. All of her.

She was breathless; it had been so long since she'd had free access to the pleasures of Angel's cool mouth. He tasted exactly as she remembered: spicy and mysterious. She drank him in.

His deep growls of pleasure caused heat to travel through her body and pool at her most intimate point. The moisture seeped from her core dampening her thong and she scooted closer to him, knowing that he could assuage the ache that was beginning to build between her thighs.

Angel felt the heat of her body increasing and he could smell the moisture of her core tantalizing him with her body's eager invitation.

Unthinking, he laid his hand on her thigh and slowly began to ease her skirt upward to give him access to the treasure of her feminine core. He cursed the demure yet provocative skirt he had admired before, gathering the material in his fist until he could lay his hand upon the hot flesh of her thigh.

Buffy broke the kiss to draw in a ragged and desperate breath, her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She trailed several soft kisses over his jaw and paused over the silent artery of his throat before she latched on to the cool skin of his neck and bit down firmly, sucking hard. Angel's hoarse groan of pleasure was almost her undoing and she released his neck and trailed kisses back to the paradise of his mouth. Her tongue tangled with his and she drank deeply of her lover.

Angel groaned; he was so hard it was painful. He felt as if all his blood had rushed from every part of his body to that one muscle between his legs. Every long thick inch of it. He was light headed with desire and he could smell her arousal; it tickled his nose and was the sweetest perfume he smelled in over two years. He leaned into her pushing her back against the hood of the car and almost climbing on top of her, deepening his impassioned worship of her mouth.

Angel's eyes blazed saffron gold with passion. He looked down at Buffy's splayed thighs, her skirt pooled nearly at her waist, her golden legs and everything in between open to his gaze. His mouth suddenly went dry and he licked his lips; she looked good enough to eat and as the thought entered his mind, he dropped to his knees in front of her.

He inhaled deeply as he slid her skirt up her hips, pulling her closer to him as his shoulders pushed her thighs further apart.

"Angel?" Buffy asked missing the cool touch of his body against his. She rose up on her elbows to look at her lover; the sight of him between her thighs caused her breath to hitch. "I thought you wanted to wait."

"I'll wait, but you don't have to."

Angel gave her a wicked smile and opened his mouth as he pulled her to meet his lips. He didn't remove her panties but sucked her through them; the friction between the smooth silk and his rough cool tongue had Buffy moaning and grinding her core eagerly into Angel's mouth.

"Angel," she breathed. His name was a plea…a request…a prayer.

He loved the smell of her desire…the taste of her essence. In one move he ripped her thong from her with his teeth and plunged his tongue into her steaming depths.

Buffy had enough presence of mind to muffle her scream of pleasure by throwing her arms across her mouth as she arched against her demanding lover.

Angel was relentless, his tongue plunging in her depths over and over again as his fingers gently plucked her clit. He could hear Buffy's harsh breaths as she neared her climax. He had forgotten how her body heated as she neared orgasm. He could smell it coming. He could smell her cum as it prepared to leave her body.

<God damn it you idiot. You would pick a public place to give in. Get your face out of her cunt now, we've got company. A cop. A cop!>

The crunch of shoes crossing the asphalt reached him and Angel groaned in frustration. Not now. Not now! She was so close. But the shoes were drawing closer and he could see the beam of the officer's flashlight wavering as he walked toward them.

Reluctantly, he pulled away from her, flicking her skirt back down to protect her from prying eyes.

Buffy wailed at the loss of the pinnacle of pleasure that had been so close and scrabbled desperately at Angel's arms.

He rose from his place of worship and gathered her unsatisfied body in his arms tenderly. "I'm sorry baby," he whispered.

"Angel," she whimpered, arching tightly against him.

"All right you two," the Sunnydale cop shined his light mercilessly upon the two lovers. "Take it home before I run you two in for lewd acts or something."

Buffy flushed with embarrassment and unfulfilled desire. She pressed her face into Angel's shoulder, the ache in her body sharp and nearly painful.

She couldn't believe it. For years the Sunnydale police had made themselves scarce around this district, never there to save a single soul from a vamp attack and always hours late to pick up a body. And now, NOW, one showed up NOW to hassle them for acts of public lewdness. It was so unfair.

<See,> Angelus snarled. <If you were going to give in, you should have done so at the damn house, like I told you to. Now she's unsatisfied. And I'm unsatisfied.>

<I'm unsatisfied too,> Angel thought resentfully.

<Who cares about you. You're the idiot who had to romance her and then ended up with your face between her legs in a damn parking lot. Real class there, Romeo. Should've left it to me.>

"Move it along," the cop repeated firmly.

"We're going," Angel muttered hoarsely. He eased Buffy from the hood of his car and escorted her around to the passenger door, allowing her to continue to hide in his chest. He held the door open for her and she disappeared quickly into the dark safety of his car.

The cop watched with clear disapproval as Angel walked back around to the other side of the car and slid into the driver's seat.

"I'm so sorry baby," he whispered.

"Not your fault. Bad timing." She grinned ruefully. "Maybe we should keep our PDAs to the cemeteries where we can at least kill the people who interrupt us."

Angel laughed softly and pulled her in for a brief kiss. "You're probably right."

She stared at him tenderly, her body aching with unfulfilled passion and her eyes alight with love. "We should get out of here before that cop decides a little warning isn't enough."

Just after Angel started the car, his telephone rang. He fumbled around in his coat pocket and flipped open the telephone.

"Angel," he said tersely.

"Angel, the demons you were asking about?"

"Yeah," Angel said.

Willie let out a wry laugh. "They just walked in the bar and sat down." He said in disbelief. "It's like they knew you were looking for them."

"Don't let them leave. I'll be there in 20." He flipped the telephone closed without saying goodbye and turned to look at Buffy.

"Is everything all right?" Buffy asked worried.

"Just some unfinished business. Nothing for you to worry about."

<Good! Since you're obviously too stupid to fuck at least we can kick some ass and release some of this pent up energy.> Angelus snarled.

"Come on. I'll take you home."

"Back to waiting?"

"Back to wanting things to be perfect for you."

"Things are always perfect when I'm with you."


**

"Willie." Angel strode casually into the bar, glancing around the room and checking out the other occupants.

"Angel?" Willie nervously responded to the coldness and the hard glint in his eyes. "That is you right, Angel. Not Angelus?"

"I'm Angel," he assured him.

Willie stared at him for a few minutes before accepting his response. He motioned to the table to the left of him. "Can you try not to totally destroy the bar?" he pleaded.

Angel spared him a glance as he headed towards the demons, then tossed several bills on the bar, enough to cover any damage about to occur. "No promises."

He stopped in front of the table.

"Well, Well, look here?" The D'ebrak demon smirked. "If it isn't Angelus, the Slayer's pussy whipped boyfriend." The D'ebrak demon smirked. Sniffing, he chortled. "I can smell her all over you."

Angel gave a chilling smirk that was all Angelus. "Jealous?" It was a deliberately provoking taunt.

The D'ebrak demon stood up looking at his companions as if to assure himself that they would help him. The patrons in the club, realizing there was going to be a fight, started placing bets with Willie on the outcome.

In the background one of the demons murmured loud enough for Angel and the demons to hear, "Angel or Angelus he's still one mean son of a bitch."

Angel sized up the 4 demons.

<We'll take out the big scaly one first and then rip off the head of the Lokiue demon. After that we'll just pick them off one by one. After all, we've got some pent up energy to burn…>

"This isn't a fight you can win, vampire. The odds are pretty steep. Sorta hard for me to lose this one," the D'ebrak demon bragged, already relishing in the prestige that would go to the demon that defeated Angelus. Even if at the time he was the pussy whipped Angel.

"Odds look ok to me." Angel replied, the threat in his voice unmistakable. He watched the demons as they all pushed away from the table and stood. Whether they wished it or not, two of them were already showing signs of fear.

<Finally a little action. > Angelus rejoiced. <Blood and Carnage. Now this is what I call a good time.>

The D'ebrak demon attacked throwing himself at Angel with a roar. His first mistake. Angel ducked the demons punch, bragging his ham-like arm and swung him around in an arch knocking the other demons back. He then seized the D'ebrak in his arms and with a violent twist and jerk, the resounding crack was heard throughout the bar as Angel broke the demons neck and dropped him to the floor. Before the D'ebrak demon even hit the ground, Angel had moved on to the next demon.

He grabbed the next demon, the Lokiue, with a move so fast that the gaping onlookers in the bar almost didn't see it. Angel pulled the Lokiue demon's head off his body. His neck cavity spewed foul yellow substances as his body still stood twitching. Angel threw the head still clutched in his hand over his shoulder into the crowd. The demon's body fell to the ground, still twitching in death as his head was now being batted around the bar.

<Yeah, now this is what I call working off a little frustration. The next best thing to fucking.>

Angel gave a vicious smile at the remaining demons, and curled his fingers at them in invitation. "Bring it on."

They rushed him in an attempt to over power him with their numbers. It didn't succeed. Despite the odds of four against one, the fight was over quickly. Angel dropped kicked the the demon closest to him knocking him to the ground. The blow was so powerful Angel's foot went through the demons skin,muscles, crunching bones as it entered it's chest and as it exited through the other side. It was a quick, painful violent death. The Lokiu death gasp was still floating on the air as Angel turned to the other demons. The two remaining demons had been better fighters than the first two, managing to land a few well-placed blows, but Angel - with Angelus egging him on - managed to wreak some serious havoc on the foursome.

Wiping the blood off his face with a napkin from the bar, Angel left the bodies for Willie to dispose of.

<Now that. That was fun. Any chance we can get laid now?> Angel sighed. His demon seemed to have a one-track mind.

***

Buffy dropped the splintered stake on the ground with a shrug. It had served its purpose; she had taken out the two vamps in the cemetery and one in the park. Still too keyed up to think of sleep, she decided to return home and pick up a few more weapons then take a sweep down by the beach. If she was lucky, she'd find a demon nest or two which along with some action to help burn off more of this sexual frustration.

As she walked toward the entrance to the cemetery, she reflected on her earlier embraces with Angel. Her cheeks grew warm as she thought about him, his lips, his hands on her. It was his fault that she was too hot and bothered to sleep… She grinned, unashamed of any of it and wanting more. Soon. Even… now.

She had only just felt that familiar tingling sensation when a large body appeared in front of her, having stepped out of the shadows of the nearby crypt.

"Buffy?" Angel's surprise was obvious. He hadn't expected to see her again tonight, but then he should have guessed that she might have gone on patrol. He had heard noises coming from the back of the cemetery and had been on his way to investigate when she nearly walked into him.

"Angel?" Buffy smiled, surprised but pleased to see him again so soon. In the next instant she frowned, taking in the cut over his eye and the slightly swollen cheek. She stepped forward and lifted her hand. "Your eye- that cut…"

It was the first touch of her hand on his face that was his undoing. He was no longer able to restrain himself, especially after the earlier fiasco. Reaching out, he grabbed her, fairly dragging her to him as his lips descended on hers.

Angelus stirred within, snorting in approval. <Finally! I was beginning to think you didn't know how to get under her skirt. Don't fuck it up this time.>

She wanted him. But then she always wanted him. Her hunger was too strong, too sharp in renewed acceptance for her to ignore or mistake it any longer. The arms now locked around her were a welcome cage; the hard body pressed to hers a longed-for delight.

Angel plundered her mouth, ruthless and reckless, his earlier gentle demeanor forgotten in the heat of passion. Buffy responded eagerly, luring him to take more from her as she gave in to the raw need that was threatening to consume her.

He exalted in the desire he could sense that he evoked in her, a desire that equaled his own. His kiss deepened, his tongue probing her mouth. She felt the swelling surge of passion, his and hers, and she reveled in it. The heady wave grew into a vortex of heat, swirling about them, flames licking at them, consuming them.

Buffy twined her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts hard against his chest and struggling to get closer. When he finally lifted his head, she was breathless. With effort, she opened her eyes to see his face. She could see the hard edge of desire clearly on his sharp features, his eyes glinting gold under his lids as they were fixed on hers. In the next instant she was lifted and walked backwards. Her back met the wall of the crypt behind her.

"Didn't you want to wait?" she teased, her fingers stroking the hair at his nape, her breath now coming in short pants.

"No." He growled, flashing her a searing glance. The fight with the demons earlier had done little to assuage his hunger, his burning need for consummation. He took her mouth again in a devouring kiss, his hands resting on the wall on either side of her head, his body pressed firmly against her. She could feel his arousal against her stomach and she arched into it, rocking slightly from side to side.

"Did you?" It was a desperate last attempt at control.

<No fucking way…do not ask. Just fuck her, moron.>

Without a word she tugged his head down, closing her eyes, answering his question with her actions.

When she reached out for him, Angel felt an emotion stronger than lust pass through his senses. He kissed her again and again, starved for the taste of her. Buffy responded eagerly, meeting him kiss for kiss.

Bending slightly, his hands swept her skirt up over her hips, stopping at her waist. "I can't wait." He glanced at her in apology as his words came out a rough murmur.

At that moment, Buffy was glad that she hadn't taken the time to change into jeans after their date, eager to give him access to that part of her that was aching for him.

As his hands swept up her thighs, Buffy took a deep breath. She was aching and hot, wanting him with an urgency that matched his own. Reaching out, she unbuckled his belt and fumbled with the button and zipper on his pants. She pushed them down slightly, along with his boxers, and reached for his pulsing erection. He grunted when she grasped it in his hand, her fingers closing over him to sweep down in an eager caress.

Angel brushed his fingers over her wet naked cleft. She was hot and wet and he could wait no longer. Lifting her, he lowered her onto his cock as she guided him to her heated entrance.

<Hell, yeah… fuck, that feels good.>

Buffy groaned as she sank down, his hard length filling her. She was impaled on him, filled with him and nothing had felt so good. She wrapped her legs around his waist and dug her hands into the back of his neck as he braced her against the wall and began to move.

The driving urgency of the moment had overridden any of their earlier reservations about waiting, about getting to know each other again, about the curse. They were consumed only by blind need for each other.

Angel plunged into her with hard strokes, shaking her with every thrust. His fast, relentless rhythm pushed them ever toward that pinnacle, that spiraling ecstasy that was building with increasing urgency. Buffy clung to him, her nails digging into his shoulders as she attempted to meet each thrust.

Suddenly she was careening over the edge, the world shattering around her. She cried out, clawing at Angel's shoulders and arms. He joined her then, releasing a hoarse groan near her ear as he poured his own climax into her.

For long moments they stood there, Angel leaning heavily on her against the wall of the crypt, Buffy still intimately wrapped around him. Finally Angel leaned back, lowering her legs gently to the ground.

"Are you all right? Did I hurt you?" He was genuinely concerned, having lost all attempts at control.

<I didn't think she could get better than that first time…Can we do it again?>

"Yes and no." Buffy wrinkled her nose, smiling at him. She loved it that he was so protective of her, that he treated her as if she were fragile when so many others didn't. She fixed her clothing, smoothing her skirt down.

"I'm sorry. I know we were going to wait… I-" Angel zipped his pants, feeling a bit like an adolescent.

"We waited. Okay, maybe only about an hour and 15 minutes." Buffy stepped up to him and raised herself up on tiptoe, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him softly. "But we waited more than 2 years. Isn't that long enough?"

"Too long." Angel smiled at her in return, hugging her. "I love you."

"I love you. With all my heart, my body, my soul. I'm yours." Buffy kissed him again, feeling content and sated for the moment. The earlier nervous energy had dissipated. "Let's go home."

Buffy had slept deeply and soundlessly after Angel had walked her home. They had shared a few kisses at her door, and although she had wanted him to stay with her, he reluctantly declined. He still had a few things to take care of at the mansion before Christmas, and he didn't want to spend the day trapped at her house.

*** December 23 ***

It was late afternoon when Buffy strolled up the sidewalk to the mansion. After their sexual adventures in the cemetery Angel had taken her home. She smiled just thinking about last night - early this morning. It had been Angel's decision that she go home and come to the mansion later. He told her he had a surprise for her. As she looked at the mansions there were obvious signs of recent activity - the shrubs had been trimmed, the weeds had been cleared. Even the door appeared to be almost new.

When she had talked to Angel on the phone earlier in the day, he had casually mentioned that he'd be staying at the mansion again. After several minutes of teasing conversation, he'd extracted a promise from her to come over around six in the evening and not a minute sooner. Buffy smiled as she opened the door, wondering just what he had planned. He had mentioned that he had somewhere to take her.

Buffy gasped in surprised when she entered the main room. A large wreath hung on the wall near the deep green velvet curtains that shielded the patio doors. Pine boughs intertwined with ivory and gold ribbon were draped across the mantle along with brightly gleaming ornaments and two red velvet stockings. It was almost identical to the vision that Kendra had shown her. The only thing missing was -

A pair of strong arms circled her waist, pulling her back against a broad chest, interrupting her thoughts. Angel smiled and inhaled deeply as he buried his face in her hair, breathing in the vanilla scent.

"You're early." Angel admonished as his lips found her neck, brushing her hair aside with his nose and nibbling at the soft skin.

"Oh. Sorry. No watch." Buffy held up her naked wrist as she arched her head to the side, giving him easy access to the sensitive skin. She closed her eyes, scooting back to snuggle more closely into his body.

"Hmmm." Murmuring an unintelligible response, Angel laved at her pulse point before biting it gently. After a long moment, he reluctantly released her. Now was not the time.

<What the fuck? There is *no* better time…> Angelus sputtered in surprise. <Off with the pants already… c'mon..>

"We need a tree. I want to take you to get one." Angel stepped away from her, gesturing toward the vacant spot in the corner. "Then you can decorate it while I watch, then I'll make love to you beneath it."

"Oh, really?" Buffy replied playfully even as felt her pulse jump at his words. "You're not going to decorate?"

"No." Angel turned, tugging her hand and grabbing his coat. "But I'll make it worth your while, I promise."

<This is more of that romance thing isn't it?…There's a whole lot of waiting in romance. I don't like it.>

***

Angel closed Buffy's door then walked around the car to get in the driver's side. As soon as he climbed behind the wheel, Buffy slid across the seat to sit next to him. She snuggled close, kissing him on the jaw playfully. Just after they pulled on to the freeway, her attention increased in earnest. With her arm resting on the back of the seat, she toyed with the short hairs along the nape of his neck. Sighing dreamily, she moved even closer, pressing her breasts into his arm. Her hand roamed along his chest, exploring the firm muscles beneath the snug black thick cotton shirt, slipping down to brush lightly across his lap.

"Hey." Angel smiled slightly when her hand closed over his firming erection, "I can't drive if you do that." Besides, he had visions of her spread across his bed tonight, where he could make love to her properly. It was bad enough that the first time they had made love in years had been in a cemetery…

"Yes, you can." Leaning in, she kissed his neck, a hot open-mouthed wet kiss that threatened to raise the cold vampire's body temperature. Slowly she traced his neck with her tongue, stopping to nibble at his earlobe before shifting forward and leaning around to kiss him on the lips.

Angel worked his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. With his eyes still on the road, he returned her kiss, sucking on the tongue she had thrust into his mouth.

With her hand on his now hard cock, Buffy felt a sudden urgent hunger for him. She squeezed tightly, eliciting a near growl from deep in his throat. Reluctantly, Angel pushed her away, "Sweetheart, not now. I don't want to drive off the road."

"Then drive. I'll play." Smiling teasingly, Buffy unbuckled his belt.

<Yeah, you drive, I got this. Let her play.>

"Buffy." It was a last attempt to stop her, yet he really didn't want to. Not with her hand so expertly manipulating his erection. With effort, he kept his attention on the road.

Watching his face, she began stroking the hard bulge in his pants, grasping it in her hand tightly and squeezing. When she was satisfied that he was sufficiently aroused for her purposes, Buffy unzipped his pants, reaching inside and closing her fingers around the erect shaft. She licked her lips and moved back on the seat slightly, allowing her lean over as she drew his cock out to her gaze. Angel groaned deep in his throat as she began moving her hand up and down, stroking him with increased pressure, her fingertips brushing over the sensitive tip, her attention focused on him as she concentrated on his pleasure.

Throwing caution to the wind, Angel placed his hand on her head and tugged her forward with deliberate pressure, wanting to feel her mouth on him.

<Now we're talking… >

With a small smirking grin, Buffy complied, leaning down to plant a kiss on the velvety head. Holding his arousal upright, she ran her tongue around the tip wetting it completely before sucking it into her mouth. Taking his eyes off the road for a few seconds, Angel watched her as she moved her head up and down slowly, her lips and tongue creating an intense friction that he could feel through his entire body. Moving her head faster, Buffy sucked harder, using her teeth to gently scrape the tip before taking him deep into her throat.

<Ohhh, fuck…Right there baby. Just like that…Right lane. Right lane!>

Angel glanced up and jerked the wheel guiding the black GTX back into the right lane.

Confident about Angel's ability to keep the car on the road, Buffy continued lavishing his shaft with attention. Reaching between his legs, she caressed the twin spheres of his balls, rolling and squeezing them gently to the rhythm of her sucking mouth.

<That's nice… suck it just like that, baby…harder… >

She could feel them tighten and increased her efforts, stopping ever so often to tease the crimson tip with her teeth before bobbing her head down again. She moaned slightly, lowered her head and sucking him deep into her mouth. Her low vibration of her voice set him off and suddenly Angel came, growling and spurting his seed down her throat. Buffy swallowed greedily, clenching her legs together to stave off the growing ache.

For long minutes afterward, Buffy continued to kiss and nibble his semi-hard erection with feather light kisses. Finally, with a last kiss she tucked him away and fixed his clothing, sitting back on the seat, looking at him with a satisfied grin.

When he glanced at her, she licked her lips. As if the sight of her wasn't delectable enough, that blatantly sexual motion stirred his arousal almost instantly.

<Oh, she's entirely too smug. Step on it. The little woman needs to be reminded just who is at who's sexual mercy here.>

Glancing at the road signs, Angel noted that their exit was just a few short miles. Any additional sexual exploits could wait that long. Had it been any further though, he was sure he would have had to pull off the road and find them some privacy.

Angel exited the freeway and followed the signs to the Christmas tree lot. At this time of the evening and on the night before Christmas Eve the lot was nearly deserted. Not to mention, plenty of Sunnydale residents weren't so inclined as to cut their own trees. Too much work involved.

Angel was quiet when he parked the car, pulling in the far corner of the dimly lit parking lot, away from the two other cars parked near the entrance. Buffy glanced at him, curious. With a sudden movement, he was pressing her back into the seat.

<Yeah baby. Daddy's home… spread those legs…>

"Now then. My turn to play." His voice was teasing, husky and warm near her ear. She shivered. Leaning over her, his large body pressing against her, Angel lowered his lips to hers. His hands drifted over her waist as his tongue slipped into her mouth to curl around hers before pushing deep into her throat. It was a passionate and demanding kiss, intended to rouse her desire to a fever pitch. One hand drifted down to her hip as Angel familiarized himself once more with her body. As his lips trailed down her throat, he murmured. "Now where should I start?"

<If we're taking a vote, I'm for breasts.>

Spike had seen the activity at the mansion and had heard about the fight at Willies with Angel and the demons, but he still didn't believe his eyes when he saw Angel and the Slayer turn off Crawford Street in Angel's black GTX. As if he needed more to convince himself that what he was seeing was real, Spike followed them at a distance on his motorcycle, keeping the headlight turned off so that they wouldn't spot him. He grimaced when Buffy's head dropped below the seat, and spat with disgust at the car swerving every so often on the darkened road. It was quite obvious what was going on in that car. But how was that possible? Had the poof really managed to secure his soul somehow? Or maybe it wasn't really his grandsire? Hopeful it was the latter. Regardless, Spike wanted more proof.

When the car stopped in the far corner of the deserted parking lot, Spike stopped too, staying far enough away as to not be noticeable. Cautiously, he parked the bike and began to creep along the darkened edge of the lot, near the uncut pine trees.

"Buffy, you're beautiful." Angel's voice was soft near her ear, husky and deep as his lips drifted across her cheek to nibble on her neck. Buffy arched against him, twining her arms around his neck as her lips searched for his once again. They kissed for long minutes, his lips nipping at hers gently. Impatiently, Buffy pushed her tongue into his mouth and pressed closer as Angel tilted her to nearly lie across the seat. He slid one hand down her waist and behind her back to cup her bottom. Squeezing her firm flesh, he attempted to fit her against him.

<Move your leg to - shift her - there's not enough room in this damn car, Romeo!>

Spike grimaced at the sound of the ground crunching under his feet. He stopped, expecting, or perhaps wishing, that the occupants of the car would stop what they were doing and step out.

Growling in frustration with the relatively small confines of the car, Angel shifted back slightly and decided to content himself for the moment in reacquainting himself with his love's body.

Buffy moaned softly and tilted her head when he traced a hot path down her neck, nipping and biting. Reaching the obstruction of her shirt, Angel stopped and laved at the slight swell of her breasts. Beneath him, Buffy shifted restlessly, wanting more.

<Mmm.. tastes good. Now off with the shirt.>

In the next instant, Angel's hand roved across her breasts, caressing the sensitive mounds through her clothing. Buffy caught her breath as she closed her eyes and dropped her head back, arching her chest toward his lips. Under his hand, her nipples hardened, begging for an even more intimate caress.

Spike could see the couple in the car now, his preternatural eyesight giving him a clear advantage both with the dark and the distance. Not to mention that the bleedin' poof had practically parked under one of the few lights the parking lot had.

There was no doubt in his mind now that the spiked-haired, broad shouldered outline was Angel's. Was the slayer really his companion? Still hopeful that he was going to be proven wrong Spike began to move slowly and deliberately around to the passenger side of the car. He stayed crouched in the brush as he moved, intent on not being spotted.

Glancing at her face, Angel's fingers skimmed the hem of her top just above her jeans, then slid underneath to push it up, just above her breasts. Angel stared at the sexy red lace, surprised at her choice of undergarments under the demur cotton top. He knew then that she had worn it for him. Just for him. A thought that was both unique and rare, filled with possessive lust. With a wolfish smile, he began planting wet kisses above the lace edge of her bra and along her cleavage before tugging the lace down away from her nipple. When his tongue swirled around the hard peak, Buffy gasped and reached up to grip the nape of his neck with strong arms.

<Fangs, fangs, she likes fangs. Oh, and suck harder.>

Gently, Angel stripped her top over her head and pulled the straps of her bra down, reaching behind her to unhook it and remove the obstruction. Leisurely, as if they weren't in a car in a parking lot and had all the time in the world, Angel explored her breasts with his lips, his tongue, his teeth. He nursed at her nipples, sucking them into his mouth while Buffy's hands moved restlessly over his shoulders and through his hair.

Spike nearly choked at the sight that greeted him when he finally managed to make his way around the car. Buffy - his Buffy, the Slayer - was holding Angel's head - the bleedin nancyboy poof's head - to her naked breasts. Her beautiful, rose-tipped breasts with their perfectly pointed nipples that were, if his eyes were not mistaken by the brief glimpses he was allowed, gleaming with the saliva of his very annoying grandsire.

Just then, much to Spike's displeasure, Angel leaned back and reached for the button on Buffy's pants. He unbuttoned them roughly and impatiently jerked the zipper down. Buffy moaned softly as Angel pushed his hand down the front of her pants. His fingers skimmed over the neatly trimmed patch of hair moving lower, finding the pulsing nub of her clitoris with his fingertip.

Spike's mouth went dry as Angel's hand moved with obvious purpose in the front of the Slayer's jeans. His view was limited, but the expression on Buffy's face told him all he needed to know.

"Angel, please." Buffy whispered, wanting more than just the gentle stroke of his fingers on her aching core. "I want you. Now."

<Yeah. Now is good. Earlier would have been good too…>

While he might have been intending to prolong their pleasure, her impassioned whisper was his undoing. No more waiting. He struggled out of his coat, leaving it wadded up behind him while Buffy shimmed out of her jeans. Next, he pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it on the dash.

Outside the window, Spike stood, craning his neck and trying to see more of Buffy's now unmistakable nakedness. He risked them seeing him, but at this point he wasn't sure it mattered. Or perhaps he hoped that they would see him and stop what they were doing.

In one smooth move, Angel unfastened his pants and pushed them down his thighs as he slid across the seat. Buffy, anticipating his intentions, moved to straddle his lap. She reached down and guided his cock into her wetness, sinking down until he was fully sheathed in her heat. Then she stopped, wrapping her arms around his neck and simply enjoying the feel of him, the sheer pleasure of his hard cock inside her, his size and strength.

<Ahh fuck… that's good… Hot. Tight. Wet… Doesn't get any better than this…>

She surveyed him under her lashes, her eyes drifting over his face. Leaning down, she nuzzled his cheek, tracing his jaw with her lips. With slow wet kisses, she continued along the side of his neck, nipping at him occasionally. Beneath her, Angel shifted and closed his eyes, basking in the pleasure of her caresses.

When she began to glide her hips, his hands moved to her hips and he guided her movements, setting a slow and steady pace. Eyes still closed, his hands drifted up to cup her breasts as she moved, his fingers toying with her nipples. Moaning softly, Buffy arched her back pressing her breasts more firmly into his hands. She felt every tug of his fingers on the taut peaks as if those nerves were connected directly to the ones between her legs.

<Do that thing with the backs of her knees. It drives her wild.>

With her golden hair and luminous skin fairly gleaming in the dim light, Spike could not look away as the Slayer made love to the vampire. He spat in disgust that she could do such a thing with the man who had left her. How was it that she obviously forgave him so readily? Angry and hurt, unbidden tears pooled in his eyes. Angel's absence had been key to his success with Buffy.

<The knees. The knees. Ahh fuck it. Next time…Oh, Slayer…>

When Buffy pressed her lips to his, Angel opened his eyes meeting her gaze. Reaching up, he buried one big hand in her hair as his other clasped her waist. They kissed for several long moments before Buffy resumed her rhythm, moving slowly up and down. When she broke off the kiss to take a breath, Angel pulled her closer to slide his mouth down her throat. Reaching the scar - his mark - on her neck, he growled softly and began licking and sucking at the mark.

<Bite… She tastes so good, remember? Just a little taste? C'mon, you know you want to... > The demon growled, urging Angel on.

The low rumbling growl stirred Buffy's passion to greater heights. Grinding her pelvis hard against him, she felt herself losing control once as she raced toward that inevitable explosive ecstasy.

Angel lifted his head, his lips capturing hers again in a deep passionate kiss as Buffy moved with greater force. Harder then faster, they moved together, the intensity building. Neither content to be passive, they reached for each other, kissing and licking any available flesh within reach. They were both too aware that they had been denied this pleasure for too long.

"Oh, Ahhn-gel," the word a breathy moan, Buffy mewled softly as she came, arching against him. Leaning down, she sank her teeth into his neck biting hard and pushing him over the edge. Angel released a hoarse grunt as he grabbed her hips and slammed her down hard for two deep thrusts as he released his seed into her.

<Not…so…smug…this…time…is…she?>

Panting heavily, Buffy collapsed in Angel's arms. He crushed her to him and buried his face in her hair, tucking her head in the crook of his neck. Shifting slightly, he settled her more comfortably against him as he held her, his hand gently caressing her back. Making love to her was like no other feeling he knew; a delicious sweetness, an incredible and profound sense of completeness, of satisfaction. It was as if he had been incomplete and was now whole again.

Buffy snuggled into Angel's chest, and settled more comfortably with a deep sigh. Being held in his arms gave her an overpowering sense of contentment and belonging, a feeling so intense and so rare that it touched her very soul. As Buffy drowsed in his arms, she smiled.

<The boy is still outside. He'll need to be taught a lesson.> Angelus growled, possessive at the thought of the younger vampire watching. He was also reminded of what *could* have been, what he had seen in the vision Doyle showed him.

<Yes. Later.> Angel answered his demon, stirring and reaching over to grab his coat and drape it over Buffy's back, covering them. His eyes searched the dark shadows for what, or rather who, he knew lurked there. He had sensed his grandchilde earlier, but had little interest in the bleached blonde vampire with his beautiful golden girl in his arms. When they lit on the crouching vampire, Angel smiled a tight, possessive smile. It was a warning. Spike understood. He scurried away, unwilling to linger should both Angel and the Slayer choose to turn on him.

Content, Angel closed his eyes once more. He wanted nothing more than to hold his precious love in his arms, to prolong the exquisite sensations strumming through his body and savor the love that he had been allowed to reclaim.

***

A few hours later, Buffy laughed as Angel studied the tree and the car, attempting to figure out the best way to haul home the tree that she selected. He had good-naturedly followed her around as she walked looking for the perfect tree. Buffy was looking for the tree she'd seen in the vision of Christmas present Kendra had shown her. It had taken her almost 2 hours but she'd finally found the tree. It stood almost by itself. It sorta reminded her of Angel; proud, aloof and beautiful. Buffy had turned to Angel and wrapped her arms around his waist squeezing him tightly. "This is it Angel. The perfect Christams tree."

Angel had smiled down at her, "Then it's yours." He gently untangled her arms from around him and Angel cut down the tree and toted it back to the car.

"You would have to pick one over 8 feet." Angel grumbled, even as he enjoyed the small pleasure of the outing with her. It was the first time he'd ever done this and he enjoyed it more than he thought possible. And how could he not - after their earlier interlude.

After some consideration, Angel put the top down on the convertible as Buffy watched, a curious grin on her face. Tossing the tree in the back seat, Angel looked up at her. Their eyes met over the car. Buffy shrugged, then they both laughed. That would work…

*** Christmas Eve ***

Angel glanced around, inspecting the room one more time. The richly decorated Christmas tree stood in one corner, the white lights twinkling brightly. Gifts in cheerfully colored packages were neatly stacked around the bottom. A large wreath hung on the wall near the deep green velvet curtains that shielded the patio doors. Pine boughs intertwined with ivory and gold ribbon were draped across the mantle along with brightly gleaming ornaments and two red velvet stockings. Candles burned on the mantle and the coffee table, as well as along the sideboard. A fire blazed in the fireplace, warming the hearth and giving the room a lively brightness. There was a cheerful warmth that had not been felt here before.

Mistletoe hung from the ceiling in several places by red ribbon and several freshly cut sprigs lay on the table near the couch. The delicate sounds of instrumental Christmas music played softly in the background.

The transformation that he had wanted had taken place. It was just as he had seen it in his dream of Christmas present.

The last two days had been beyond his expectations. When they had returned from their Christmas tree outing last night, he had been unwilling to wait any longer. He had ushered his lover into their bedroom and had made love to her slowly, leisurely, drawing out their pleasure to a nearly painful height before they plunged over the edge. It was what he had wanted to from the first moment he had seen her all those years ago. <Their bedroom.> He said the words again in his mind. He liked the sound of them.

Wearing only his white shirt, Buffy had decorated the tree while Angel sat on the couch and watched, content with her nearness. Every so often he would beckon her over for a kiss or she would join him on her own, her own happiness bubbling over.

She had left a few hours ago to do some last minute shopping and pick up a few more of her things from home. Now he only had to wait for her to return. Whistling happily, he headed toward the bedroom.

Buffy smiled as she opened the door. She heard the music playing from outside and it filled her with happiness, swelling and bubbling over. This was just as she had seen with Kendra; how things were meant to be.

She sat the bags with her purchases next to the couch. She could hear the sounds of water running and knew instantly where her vampire lover was. Grinning, she kicked off her shoes and tossed her jacket on the couch, and made to join him.

The apparitions of Kendra and Doyle appeared in the room shortly after Buffy's exit. They glanced at the feminine jacket draped across the back of the couch next to the black one that Angel wore. A pair of dainty high-heeled sandals was casually strewn on the floor next to a purse and a couple of shopping bags. The sounds of soft familiar laughter coming from the bedroom could occasionally be heard over the music. They looked at each other and smiled as they faded out of sight. Their job was done.

***

With a playful smile, Angel led Buffy to stand by the Christmas tree. He'd been thinking of this all day.

<Sure. More like you've wanted to see her beautiful - and naked - golden skin all day.> The demon stirred, aroused by Buffy's presence.

She was beautiful in her red dress, her shoulders bare except for the tiny straps, her golden skin bathed in the twinkling lights. Her eyes sparkled with happiness. Once more, he felt his heart twist as he thought of how long he had denied himself, how, without intervention, they would have continued to live their lives apart.

<Get her out of the dress. I want to see the glow of the lights on her skin.>

"I have something for you. Something I'd like for you to wear tonight."

With a groan, the demon mumbled. <You're a putz, you know that?>

Buffy smiled slowly, intrigued, her mind immediately filled with thoughts of sexy lingerie and naughty games. "What?" Her voice was playful, willing to do anything to please him knowing that she'd be paid back in full and then some with the delicious pleasure he offered her so easily.

"This." Angel retrieved the ring from his pocket. He'd removed it from the box, wanting to give it to her just as he had once before.

"Oh. Angel. Oh." Buffy's eyes welled with tears as she took in the object in his hand. "Is it-?"

"Yes." He didn't need to elaborate. He knew she was asking if it had been the same ring.

"You found it? And kept it?" Buffy took it from him, turning it over in her palm. She sniffed and smiled up at him.

"Yes. Of course." Angel studied her anxiously, waiting for her response. "Put it on."

Buffy smiled at him again, slipping the ring on her finger, the heart pointing toward her. She noticed that he still wore his. She reached for his hand and kissed it.

His arms closed around her and he pulled her close, his lips closing on hers. Buffy sank into to him easily, her lips parting and offering her mouth, which he claimed without hesitation.

<Better…But you're still a putz... What kind of corny line is that? "I've got something for you to wear tonight?" > The demon muttered, <Unless we're talking leather corsets and spiked heels as matching accesories...>

Any further thoughts flew out of Buffy's head, her senses tumbling. His arms shifted. One hand splayed across her back just above her derriere, his other hand swept up to her hair.

Angel loved it when she wore her hair up, but it beckoned him with wicked temptation to see it spill across her shoulders. Gently he removed the decorative clip, his fingers searching through the soft mass for more pins. They tinkled as they hit the hearth, Angel carelessly dropping them behind her.

"Did I ever tell you that your hair fascinates me?" His hand at her back still holding her securely against him, Angel ran his fingers through her hair again as it fell free, dropping below her shoulders.

<Again with the romance… you already got the girl, moron. She wants it, just fuck her.>

"No." Buffy studied his face, thinking that everything about him fascinated her. How had she ever thought she would live without him?

His fingers continued to comb through the long tresses, his eyes watching as he lifting the soft tresses and let them drift back down to her shoulders. "So soft, so rich, so golden. It's my sunshine."

Angelus made a strangled choking noise, expressing his disgust with Angel's tender sentiments.

Mesmerized by his husky whisper, the possessiveness in his tone, Buffy didn't answer. There was no need to. Those words told her everything.

Angel continued to play with the silken mass of her hair until he gathered it into his hand and tugged her head back farther. He stared down into her face. "And your eyes…"

Buffy blinked, swaying closer and pressing her chest more firmly against him.

<Yeah, yeah, great eyes. Move it along already... Tits… let's get to those next…>

"When I look into your eyes, I can see what you feel. And I feel it too. It's like I fall in and I get lost in them. In you." His gaze lowered and he looked at her lips.

Buffy licked her lips, wanting him to kiss her.

"Your lips." Unable to resist, he kissed her then, a swift and teasing kiss, leaving them both wanting more. He smiled then, "You know why I love those…"

<Yeah, especially with my cock between them… > This time Angelus chortled, amused at his own wit. As usual, Angel ignored him. He was unwilling to let the demon intrude on this moment.

His lips traced a path along her jaw to her ear.

Buffy shivered.

"Everything about you." The words caressed her ear, his voice soft. "Fascinating. Beautiful. Mine."

The demon within snarled, <Mine!>.

Buffy's eyes closed as he planted a soft kiss on the sensitive skin just below her ear. His lips then moved lower, sliding along her throat to the mark on her neck. He laved it as Buffy released a soft whimpering sigh and swayed into him. Her legs weakened and she clutched at his shoulders to steady herself.

Angel released her hair and returned his lips to hers. Her hunger surged and he matched it, kissing her deeply. His tongue probed her mouth, wrapping around hers in an erotic caress. Again and again he kissed her, inciting her desire as he claimed her as his own.

Distracted by his potent kisses, Buffy had no idea that his hand on her back had been busy with the zipper on her dress until his hands reached up and he pushed the straps off her shoulders. Lifting her hands from his shoulders, he lowered them to her sides. Her dress pooled at her feet as he pushed it down, leaving her clad in her tiny lace bra and panties and shoes.

The straps of her bra went too, as he reached behind her to unhook it.

Before she could take a breath, Angel's hands had closed over her rosy-tipped breasts.

She opened her eyes, watching as his hands cupped and caressed her bare flesh. Her eyes lifted to his face. She could see desire engraved on his features, raw passion burning in his chocolate and gold-flecked eyes. As she stared at him, she was once again struck with his overwhelming physical beauty. He was like a classic Greek sculpture, refined and elegant; perfect.

"Beautiful." Angel murmured, his thoughts in tune with her own as his hands closed possessively over her breasts. "No other word will do you justice."

<What about fuckable? Succulent. Delectable. Delicious?> With a determined sigh, Angel concentrated on pushing any further thoughts of his demon away. He wanted no interruptions to this moment.

When he bent his head, Buffy's eyes closed again and she struggled to breathe knowing what was coming. When his lips reached her breasts, she let out a soft moan and returned her hands to his arms.

He kissed the soft mounds of her breasts, avoiding the peaked nipples until she was nearly delirious with want. When his lips closed around her taut peak, she gasped. When she felt the first pulling pressure of his mouth suckling her, Buffy whimpered and her knees buckled. She collapsed against him, clutching at his shoulders.

With lips, teeth and tongue, Angel worshipped her. His touch was exquisite torture as she arched back in his arms, offering herself to him, entreating him for more. Wave after wave of delicious pleasure washed over her as he feasted on her, craving her with a hunger that had not yet been assuaged, a hunger that had steadily built the years they had been apart.

When Buffy cried out in climax, Angel released a low guttural growl that rang with masculine satisfaction. He lifted his head for a moment to look at her face, her eyes closed, her features relaxed in release. He then lowered his head again to repeat his torture.

His lips traced across her flesh again, his tongue drawing circles around her now tightly swollen nipples before drawing them back into this mouth. His every touch, his every caress was invested with meaning, with the love he felt for her. Both were aware of the significance of tonight, even as their passion swirled around them in a vortex, leaving them at the eye of the storm.

He knew that the woman in his arms was special, that was never in doubt. There had been only one other time in Angel's life when he had felt anything close to what he was feeling this night. And that night had resulted in the loss of his soul. He could still scarcely believe that they had been given this second chance, and he was more than grateful.

Planting one last kiss in the valley between her breasts, Angel lifted his head. He steadied her, his hands sliding along her back to her hips. His fingertips slid along the lace edge of her tiny panties, tracing the edges along her waist, then around to cup the firm globes of her behind.

"You're perfectly sized." Angel's hands slid up along the strong muscles in her back, tracing her spine only to sweep down again. "So petite, yet so strong." His hands once more squeezed her bottom. "I'm three times the size of you."

Buffy clenched her legs, his words sending a spike of heat along her spine through her stomach to culminate between her thighs. His size in contrast to her was like an aphrodisiac. "Don't exaggerate."

His hands spanned waist, his long fingers nearly meeting. Possessive lust flared within him again, glowing in his eyes. "My tiny golden goddess."

His husky whispers stoked the fires of her desire higher. Buffy moaned his name softly, taking a shaky breath while her hands restlessly moved on his shoulders. Sliding one into the short hairs on his nape, she pulled his head down for a kiss. She was no longer interested in verbal communication.

She set the pace this time, her kisses greedy and demanding. He sucked gently on her tongue when she explored his mouth, delighting in the cinnamon and spice taste that was always Angel. Several long and heated kisses later, Buffy broke off to catch her breath.

With her eyes closed and her lips wetly swollen, and her luscious curves in his hands, Angel could not resist taking yet another taste of her lips. His senses seemed starved for her, urgently needy and wanted more. Taking her lips again, he pulled her closer deepening the kiss as he drew her hard against him. His hand roved over her, caressing, kneading, learning anew all of her feminine curves, delighting in the feel of her firmness, her softness.

There was no word to adequately encompass his obsession with her.

"Don't move." Angel sank to his knees in front of her, his hands sliding along her hips and down her legs. His gaze moved over her, taking in her perfectly formed, firm and tanned legs. When he pressed an opened mouth kiss to her stomach, he heard her suck in her breath and he smiled.

With gentle kisses he caressed her abdomen, stopping to lave at the tiny indentation of her navel for several moments. Buffy's hands rested on his shoulders, her fingers at turns gripping the broad muscles.

With reverence, his hands roamed up and down her graceful limbs, his palms flat as he explored each curve and muscle. When he gripped the edges of her lace panties and drew them down, Buffy quivered slightly in anticipation.

With one hand on his shoulder, Buffy stepped out of the panties and kicked aside the dress that had been pooled at her feet. Her hands slid into his hair as Angel leaned in to nuzzle her taut belly.

"Angel."

<Don't suppose I could get you to get her to say my name like that?>

The word was a husky, aching whisper, a soft, nearly desperate plea. Buffy could hardly believe it had come from her. She was warm, flushed. Every nerve was heightened in anticipation as she felt his every touch keenly. Desire hummed in the air, heated with passion.

Buffy stood naked in front of him, aware perhaps for the first time of the power of her body to capture him, to enthrall this most powerful man, this god of pleasure, kneeling in front of her. It was a heady sensation. And it felt so … right. *They* felt right.

She shifted on her feet as his hair brushed across her stomach, his hands on her thighs both soothing and exciting. Just then Angel bit the soft flesh of her stomach, just above the curls on her mound. She shuddered and gripped his hair tighter.

Shifting one hand around to cup her bottom while the other slid up her thigh between her legs, Angel brushed the wetness between her thighs as his fingers neared the apex.

Buffy waited anxiously for that first touch on the core of her pleasure, her nerves tensing. When his fingers finally brushed her swollen labia, she nearly cried out. The gentle stroking, the subtle probing threatened to bring her to her knees.

When Angel shifted lower, Buffy let out an incoherent exclamation.

"Easy." He steadied her with one hand, then lifted her leg to drape over his shoulder. "I want to taste you." Her fingers tugged on his hair, her hand clenching his skull as she felt the wet sweeping lick of his tongue on her sex.

Buffy whimpered and moaned as he explored her with his tongue, laving with long, slow licks before dipping between her wetly swollen nether lips to taste the honey flowing profusely between her legs. Unhurriedly, he lapped at the dewy wetness as she sank her fingers more tightly into the thick dark waves of his hair. Finding her clitoris next, he swirled his tongue around the swollen nub before sucking it softly. He knew exactly how to touch her, and where, licking, nibbling, and sucking delicately to provoke the intense, stabbing desire. Her heart was racing, her breath coming in soft pants, every nerve taut as he pushed her toward their paradise.

Although her wits had fled, she was acutely aware of her senses. She could feel the warm of the fire at her back, the air in front of her, like Angel, cool. She was excruciatingly aware of his every touch of his lips, his teeth, his tongue on her body as he continued to urge her sensitized nerves to even greater heights of pleasure. Sliding first one, then two fingers inside her, Buffy mewled softly as he continued to suck her clit. Angel felt the convulsions begin just seconds before she exploded, crying out his name. The sound echoed through the room.

<That way's good too.>

When he continued licking softly at her dewy wetness, Buffy attempted to pull away, the sensations too intense.

"Let me, sweetheart. You're so damp, so delicious…." Whispering softly, Angel refused to release his hold on her and Buffy relented, trusting him to prolong their pleasure. She quivered and mumbled incoherently as he continued his deft manipulations of her flesh. Licking and sucking with expertise acquired through years of experience, Angel brought her to orgasm twice more before finally releasing his hold on her.

Surging to his feet in a burst of raw power, Angel closed his hands around her thighs and lifted her, filling her with the solid hard length of him in the next instant. He adjusted her slightly for better leverage then thrust deep. Buffy sighed in pleasure, sheathing him, holding him to her with strong arms.

She felt his hands grip her thighs, his fingers flexing as his chest strained against hers. Locking her legs around his hips, she wound her arms around his neck and pulled herself closer. Sliding her hands into his hair, she tugged his lips to hers.

Buffy tasted herself on his lips as he kissed her, further adding to her desire. Their bodies moved in harmony, a similar evocative rhythm, slow and steady. He lifted her and she slid sensuously down. She clung to him as they repeated the motions, rotating her hips with a small rolling motion.

It occurred to her that she was naked and writhing in his arms while he was still fully clothed; he had only unzipped his pants. Her every movement made her more aware of her sensitive skin against his clothing, the soft cashmere of his sweater tickling the rigid peaks of her breasts, the rough twill of his pants chafing against her thighs.

Angel reveled in the heat of her body, her tight channel surrounding him with each thrust and withdrawal. He watched her through half-closed eyes, marveling at the sexy sight of her slow movements, her breasts bouncing slightly with each thrust, her nipples hard and jutting toward him, almost begging to be touched. He slowed her each time she attempted to increase their speed, attempting to draw out each precious moment.

Buffy closed her eyes in concentration as she undulated against him, clenching her vaginal muscles to tease him with each thrust, grinding her pelvic bone hard against him. Tracing his face with her lips, she licked a path along his jaw, pressing kisses to the cool skin of his throat.

Without thought, Angel returned the pleasure, nipping at her throat, laving at his mark on her neck. She whimpered and rocked harder against him when he murmured seductive love words in her ear, his voice deep and velvety, promising her unimaginable delights.

She deliberately tightened around him again, this time eliciting a low groan from him. She smiled and sank deeper, reflexively tightening even more. She bit him, taking the skin of his throat between her blunted teeth.

Angel sucked in an unneeded breath then his lips returned to hers, hot and demanding. His control was now gone. The vortex of passion closed around them, the flames roared.

Passion took them, lifting them on a swell of pure need until ultimately they shattered with a release was so profound, neither of them was aware that they sank to the floor. The only reality that their senses permitted was the knowledge that they were together. As one. Finally.

<God! I love her…I mean - that was good.>

***

Sprawled on his back on the sofa, where he had carried her when he had recovered his own senses, Buffy lay slumped on Angel's chest, basking in the afterglow.

"Hmm… You're amazing." Buffy murmured softly, her fingers tracing a pattern along his chest. She had insisted he remove his sweater when they collapsed on the couch, wanting to feel his skin next to hers.

Angel, his eyes closed, hugged her close and kissed the top of her head. "Mmm… it's all you."

Buffy smiled, looking at the claddagh ring on her hand. It was nice to have it back.

She snuggled closer, looking at their Christmas tree. She had everything she wanted now. Frowning, she wondered if it would last. It never did for her before. A moment of fear, of doubt crept into her mind.

Angel felt it, he could sense her slightest change in mood. His eyes drifted open as his hand continued stroking her back. "What's wrong?"

"Hum? Oh, nothing." Buffy attempted to downplay her earlier fear.

"Buffy." Angel insisted. They had hidden their feelings from each other too often.

"I'm just afraid that this… us… it won't last. It'll be taken away from us. That you'll change your mind. It's a Buffy life remember? Good things don't always happen." She shifted, looking up at his face.

"Sweetheart, this is meant to be. Listen to me. Every day for the rest of your life I want to wake up next to you. I want to feel you fall asleep in my arms. I want to feel the softness of your hair against me, I want to bury my face in it and feel your breath on my cheek. I want to make love to you in the morning, sliding into your warm body while you're still drowsy with sleep." <And if I could, I would want to hold you in sunlight, when you're pregnant with my child.> His thoughts were unspoken, too painful for him to give voice too. He regretted what he couldn't give her, what he felt he was selfishly taking away.

"That's beautiful." Buffy sniffed slightly, inching up to kiss him. Their kiss was sweet, filled with a wealth of love. She sighed when she broke off, snuggling happily back into this chest her fears soothed for the moment. It would work this time. They would make it.

A moment passed, then Angel asked quietly. "Sweetheart, marry me?"

"Oh. Angel. Yes." Nearly squealing with delight, Buffy threw her arms around his neck and hugged him close.

*** Christmas Day ***

Christmas morning had been the most wonderful morning in Buffy's life. She'd rolled over to find her lover, naked smiling adoringly at her, watching her as she woke up. For a fleeting moment, she was touched with fear. She and Angel in bed naked together.... then she remembered. It was okay. His soul was permanent. He wasn't going anywhere. This was what she had to look forward to for the rest of her life. Waking up to the most handsome man, okay, demon, on the planet. The man that would soon be her husband. She rolled him over and straddled his hips. She leaned down and nuzzled his cheek before she gently bit his chin.

"Mornin' lover," she smiled seductively, rubbing her body against his, Angel's growing erection brushing against the crevice of her behind.

"Morning to you," he rumbled as he ran his hands up and down her back before he firmly gripped her sofly rounded ass cheeks.

"Merry Christmas," Buffy muttered as she nibbled along his jaw and neck, her hot core pressed against his groin as she moved in a slow rotation, the moisture from her already dampening his skin.

Angel smelled the exotic fragrance of her arousal as it filled the room. He lifted his love up and slowly guided her down on his long, thick and throbbing length. They both gasped in pleasure at the contact. The physical joining of their bodies. Angel entwined his fingers with Buffy's and reverently brought them to his lips before leaning forward and catching her mouth in a steamy kiss. They made love slowly, leisurely and sweetly. It was a joining of their hearts. Both of then savoring each other, their love and the fact that they were together at last.

*****

Buffy was nervous. When she'd called Xander, Willow and Giles to invite them to Chrismas dinner at the mansion the reception had been lukewarm, especially from Xander. She hadn't explained everything. She'd told them only a little; that she and Angel were back together, and had vehemently assured them that there was no chance of *grrr* from their being together anymore. She smiled to herself as she thought of how they had proven that, several times already.

Now Buffy was just hoping everything went smoothly. Angel had given her his credit card and she'd been able to get some great gifts. She thought about the gift she bought for Angel. A little teddy she intended to model for him a little later tonight.

Angel watched as Buffy prepared Christmas Dinner. He leaned against the kitchen island his arms folded across his large chest, his ankles crossed. His black cashmere sweater was molded to his wide muscular chest. His crisply pressed khaki pants emphasized his long legs. He smiled as he watched Buffy rush around the kitchen checking the progress of the food. He loved the way the little velvet dress hugged her generous curves. Although it was far from practical she looked so beautiful rushing around the kitchen in her high-heeled shoes. She pulled her hair back up in to a casual twist and secured it with the jeweled hair comb he'd given her this morning as a Christmas gift with matching earrings that adorned her ears.

Although Angel could not enjoy the food Buffy was cooking he loved the aromatic smells filling the kitchen. It was just so warm and homey. Angel loved it. It wasn't often he got a chance to see Buffying being *domestic*. He knew she could take out a cadre of vampires, behead a demon and plot ambush techniques but seeing her like this was a wonderful and rare pleasure. He'd offered to have the meal catered but Buffy had refused. She told him she wanted to do it herself. With his help, of course.

Buffy had planned a small meal only consisiting of turkey, stuffing, cranberry/orange sauce, peas, honey glazed carrots, rolls, pumpkin pie and wine. Earlier this morning he'd helped her baste the turkey and prepare the pie filling. Angel was amazed at her culinary skills. She'd laughed and told him she'd cooked this meal once before during the Thanksgiving he'd come to protect her. That reminded him that they oth had things to remember from that Thanksgiving.

Angel watched as Buffy chewed her lips as she stirred the glazed carrots.

"Don't worry, darling, everything looks great."

Buffy put down the wooden spoon she had been using to stir the simmering carrots and walked over to her tall vampire. He opened his arms and pulled her against his large frame.

"I want everything to be perfect," she mumbled into his chest.

Angel kissed the top of her head. "Everything is perfect because you are perfect."

She tilted her head back to gaze at her lover, "You are sweet."

"No one is as sweet as you. You are the sweetest thing I've ever tasted and I want to taste you over and over again," he said seductively.

Buffy blushed thinking of the carnal and intimates kissed they shared and given each other. "Later. Later we can both taste each other," she promised leaning up to place a chaste kiss on is cheek.

"Mmm. Tempting. I'll be waiting for that all day."

<Me too.> The demon within stirred, thoughts of sex with Buffy awakening him as usual.

"So will I."

They were silent for long moments. Both luxuriating in the joy of being together. Simply feeling joy and not being afraid that Angel would be too happy and it would be *Grrr* all over. It was a new feeling for both of them to be happy in their love for each other. To be allowed to feel this way.

"I'm going to tell everyone about our engagement."

"I want to get married as soon as possible," Angel lifted her away from him, his voice impatient. "I know the minister at the mission. I can get him to marry us any day or time."

Buffy smiled at Angel's impulsiveness. "My Mom gets home tomorrow morning. I need to tell her about our decision to marry."

"And if she objects?" Angel queried, a little fear creeping in his voice.

Buffy shrugged, "Then she objects. I want her to accept us but if she doesn't … I'm still going to marry you. You are my future Angel. Forever."

"Then let's get married tomorrow night....that is unless you want something more formal."

"Tomorrow… hmm, tomorrow. I'll have to check my calendar. I may have plans." Buffy teased, trying to hide the enthusiasm in her voice. "Now that I think about it, tomorrow night works!" She kissed him then, a sweet, tender kiss that showed her happiness. One kiss turned to several before the timer beeped, reminding them of the food cooking.

Buffy checked the turkey, stirred the carrots and gravy on the stove then returned to her earlier position, snuggled in Angel's arms. "Just think, every year we can celebrate Christmas and our anniversary at the same time. It'll be perfect. I seem to be saying that word a lot. Perfect," she let the word roll off her tongue. "I like it. I want to be married here. In front of the fireplace and Christmas tree. I want to start our new life in our home."

Angel loved the sound of *our home* slipping from her tongue. "Then it's settled. Tomorrow night we'll get married." He leaned down and kissed his love reverently. It was a sweet kiss filled with love and promises for the rest of their lives.

Buffy eventually broke the kiss and laid her cheek against her love's unbeating heart, "Angel? What last name will we use?" She giggled. "Angel Summers?"

Angel paused, contemplating the question. "Before… Before my change, my family name was O'Connor. I'd like to use it again. This time around I think I can make my father proud of me."

Buffy cupped his cheek as her eyes misted over, "Angel, your father would be very proud of you now. And proud that you are using your name. As proud as I'll be to share that name with you."

In answer, Angel pulled Buffy in for a heated kiss.


***

Christmas Dinner was different than what Kendra had shown her, yet some things were the same. Giles and Xander where wearing Santa hats. They looked so adorable. Everything was going great. There had been a little tension at first, just after everyone had arrived. Angel had poured everyone a glass of wine and it seemed to loosen everyone up, breaking the ice and alleviating some of the tension in the air.

Even Angel was tense, hopeful that Buffy's friends would accept their relationship without guilt or recriminations. He knew how important they were to her.

Willow and Tara were sitting on the floor pillows close to the fireplace. Giles and Olivia were sitting on the sofa. Giles had his arm casually draped over Olivia's shoulder. Anya was sitting in Xander's lap in the large oversize chair.

"I love your human ritual sacrifices with pies. First your giving thanks and then this presents day."

"Anya, Buffy and I have told you it's not a ritual sacrifice," Willow explained patiently. "It's called Thanksgiving and although presents are exchanged the day is called Christmas. You really need to remember these things. Right, Buffy?" Willow turned to her friend who was standing near the fireplace leaning against her lover.

Buffy laughed and backed up her friend, "Right Wills."

Buffy was glowing and it wasn't from the flames of the fireplace. Willow hadn't seen the fire and light in Buffy's eyes in years but it was back. And she knew why. It was because Angel was back and because Buffy and Angel were together again. She didn't know if anyone else had noticed but Angel and Buffy were both wearing their claddagh rings.

Years ago, when Angel had first given Buffy that ring, the young slayer had told her the significance of the rings. The fact that they were both now wearing them again meant things were serious. Very serious.

Buffy looked around at everyone in the room. Everything seemed to be going as she'd hoped and planned. The Christmas music was playing softly in the background. Conversation was flowing and so was the wine. Buffy was enjoying playing hostess. Even though she'd only been staying there for a couple of days now, she really felt like this was her home. Her first dinner as Angel's wife. The first dinner she planned in her new home. She looked around at all the people she loved and their loved ones and she felt her eyes misting. She silently wished her Mom was there but she promised herself as soon as her Mom came home she'd have her over for dinner. She knew that she wasn't going back to live with her mother, not after tonight. This was her home. This was where she would live with Angel from this day forward.

This was the first time Angel had ever used the formal dining room in the mansion. Only half of the massive table was needed, given the number of guests. Buffy had arranged the place settings so that they all were seated close enough for intimate conversation but far enough apart to be comfortable. She and Angel had decided no one would sit at the head of the table. That would have been too formal and they wanted a very casual, very comfortable dinner. The table was decorated festively, Buffy decorating it with evergreen sprigs, holly, and velvet bows.

Buffy stood and cleared her throat. She glanced at Angel and he stood with her, taking her hand and squeezing it, silently offering support.

"You all know that Angel and I are back together." Buffy paused and looked at her love, her eyes shining with happiness. She took a deep breath to bolster her courage, then continued. "I have one more announcement to make… Angel has asked me to marry him and I've agreed. I know it's short notice, but we're getting married here tomorrow evening. You're all invited."

Willow squealed with joy and jumped up, rushing around the table to throw her arms around Buffy in a big hug. She then turned and hugged a very surprised Angel.

"Congrats. I'm so happy for both of you. You so deserve to be happy."

"Thanks Will," Buffy hugged her friend back. "I was hoping that you'd feel that way. Now I can ask you to be my Maid of Honor."

Willows eyes sparkled with happy tears, "I'd be honored."

Giles stood with a glass of wine to make a toast. "I'll be the first to admit that I thought that the two of you should never be together," he took a deep breath, "but I've realized that the two of you belong together. I've never seen either of you as happy as you are now. It will be my pleasure to be here tomorrow night."

"Good because I need you to stand with me and Mom. Will you?"

Giles inclined his head like the British gentleman he was and cleared his throat, choked up by her request. "There is nothing I'd like to do more. I can't think of any one I'd rather spend the holidays with than all of you." He raised his glass. "I don't think I say this enough but each and everyone of you is important to me."

Everyone lifted their glasses in support of Giles's statement, nodding and smiling around the table.

"C-Congratulation," Tara offered shyly, smiling.

"Thanks, Tara."

"I wish you and Angel all the best. Rupert talks about you like a proud father. I know how pleased he must be to see you finally happy and settling down. If Rupert invites me I should love to attend your wedding." Olivia looked over at Giles with a teasing expression.

"Of course I'm inviting you." Giles told his girlfriend.

Anya shrugged, "I really don't care, but if Xander comes and there will be food, I'll come."

"Speak for yourself An," Xander said snidely.

He looked around in disbelief at everyone. He couldn't believe this. Willow and Giles had not only accepted this....this travesty… but were actually supporting her decision. Had everyone forgotten that Angel was, in fact, a vampire, a demon, one of the undead. Had they forgotten about Angelus and all of his horrible acts? Regardless if his soul was permanent or not, he is not human. Buffy very much is.

"Am I the only one here who thinks this is a bad idea? Even if there isn't the fear of Angel turning into his less than cuddly evil sidekick, Angel is a vampire, not a human. I don't care how you look at it, this is sick. Buffy you are sick to even love Angel. He's a.....thing.....he's what you are sworn to rid this earth of."

"Xander that is quite enough!" Giles admonished.

<I never liked that useless pup. Kill him. Kill him now.> Angelus stirred at Xander's angry words, responding in kind.

Angel's face didn't betray his anger. In part, he agreed with his demon. He wanted to jump over the table and rip Xander's head off. He looked over at Buffy. Although her bottom lip was trembling she had a stony look of determination on her face. Angel decided it was time he stood up to Xander once and for all.

"Xander everything you just said is true. So are the things you failed to mention. Like my love for Buffy or the fact that I'd sacrifice my life, my very soul for her."

Xander sneered, "Well you did that once already. It worked out really well."

<I thought so… Can we kill him already?> The demon asked, his tone one of bored indifference.

Angel ignored the boy's taunt and continued, "I would give all that I am and will ever be to guarantee Buffy's safety and happiness. Tomorrow evening, with or without your acceptance, I will marry her. If that's not enough for you, then let me say one more thing. AND this is the most important thing…. If you ever insult Buffy again, you will deal with me and you'll learn I can be just as unpleasant as *my less than cuddly evil side kick,*" Angel promised menacingly.

<I am so not a sidekick… if anything, you're the sidekick, soul boy.>

Xander croaked, swallowing harshly as he met the hard glint in Angel's eyes. He pursed his lips and stared at him mutinously. Although he was frightened by the anger radiating from the tall vampire, he knew that Buffy wouldn't allow Angel to hurt him.

"Xander I've allowed you to put Angel down since the moment you found out about him. That has to end now. I'm going to marry Angel. You've been my best friend for years. And you'll always be my best friend. You can either accept my relationship with Angel.......or there won't be a place in my life for you. If I have to make a choice between the two of you, I will choose Angel. Don't force me to make that choice, Xander."

The boy was speechless. He played his cards. Laid it all on the line about his feelings regarding their relationship and Buffy had told him if it came down to his friendship and Angel's love she'd choose Angel.

The room had grown quiet as everyone stared at Xander. He was beginning to feel foolish. Like a little boy who had thrown a tantrum and now had to face the consequences.

Angel pulled Buffy close to him. Her body was rigid. He could feel, the anger and hurt radiating from her. He kissed the top of her head giving her his support. The support she'd get from him for the rest of her life.

Xander saw no other choice but to back down. It was either that or lose the only friends he'd kept most of his life and maybe even risk getting his ass kicked.

"Fine," he grumbled angrily. "I'll accept it, doesn't mean I have to like it."

Angel felt the tension leave Buffy's body. The tense atmosphere in the room relaxed. Giles was the one to clear the air.

"Well, then it would seem that a toast is in order. To Buffy and Angel. May you both finally have your happy ever after."

"Here, Here," everyone replied in unison, clinking their glass with the person closest to them.


*** Epilogue ***

Buffy and Angel married in a small ceremony at the mansion the following evening. The bride wore an ivory lace ankle length dress. Her long tresses were pulled on top of her head in a elegant twist with curls escaping to frame her face. The groom wore black leather pants, leather duster and an ivory silk shirt. Angel had finally gotten tired of Angelus constant nudging and had given in to his suggestion of attire for the wedding.

The ceremony was performed in front of the fireplace. The fire was crackling, Kenny G's Christmas album played softly in the background as the lights on the Christmas tree twinkled. Candles were positioned around the room and glowed from every surface. They created a very romantic atmosphere.

Buffy's mom wasn't too pleased with her daughter's choice of a mate, but she grudgingly accepted Angel when she saw how much in love they appeared to be. The fact that her daughter would marry her vampire regardless to whether she approved or not helped to sway her towards accepting the marriage. She didn't want her daughter to marry Angel but more importantly she didn't want to loose contact with her daughter over the choice of her husband.

Joyce was somewhat appeased when Angel took her aside and told her about his shanshu. She consoled herself with the fact that maybe Angel would turn human in her lifetime and he and Buffy would give her a grandchild. She realized she was a relatively young mother and not quite ready to be a grandmother yet, but hopefully in the future.

Willow stood next to Buffy who was holding thea large bouquet of red and white roses, adorned with sprigs of holly. The flowers had been a surprise from Angel that morning. Even Willow had to admit that for a man Angel could be so romantic. Willow looked over at Tara communicating her love through her eyes to her lover. She hoped one day in the future she and Tara could say their vows of love in front of their friends.

Giles couldn't be more proud to have walked beside Joyce to give Buffy to Angel. He kept thinking of the sixteen year old mutinous Slayer he'd first met. He'd grown to love her as he would a daughter and today he'd walked his daughter down the aisle to her husband. The one person he knew who could not only fight beside her but understood her difficult and violent life and, if necessary offer her protection from the things that would try to hurt her. He may very well be the only person on earth that could offer her that. All of those facts combined, supported Giles's realization that Angel was perfect for Buffy in every way. Giles looked over at Olivia and smiled. Maybe one day he and Olivia would be exchanging places with Buffy and saying their vows of marriage in front of their friends.

Xander pouted part way through the ceremony, until Anya took him aside and chastised him for behaving like an immature child. She also took him to task for his bigotry about demons, given that she was a reformed demon herself. If he insisted on continuing with his position, she threatened to end their relationship, especially the sex. Which gave Xander pause… He changed his mind immediately and with a sheepish smile promised her that he would try harder to be more open minded and accepting.

The A-I team stood in the background watching the ceremony. Fred was openly crying with joy. Gunn was just amazed at how quickly everything had happened, while Wesley was surprised that it had actually taken so long for them to reunite. Of course, they had all thought the curse had been an issue, so that likely had kept them apart for awhile.. It had only been three days since Angel had left LA and reunited with his girlfriend. It was almost unbelievable that they were now marrying. Although they were happy for him they were still amazed at how quickly things had progressed.

Throughout the ceremony Cordelia stood next to Wesley, frowning. In the brief conversation she had with Angel after they had arrived, she had tried to convince him to wait. That this was too quick. Things were too uncertain. He was needed in LA, Buffy in Sunndale - how could they possibly make it work? But it had been for naught. Angel had given her a choice; accept his marriage to Buffy or get out of his life. She finally realized that when it came to Buffy, Angel would let nothing stand in his way. Not any more. She still couldn't believe that Angel had chosen Buffy over her. She couldn't believe that any man or vampire, for that matter, would turn down a chance to be with her. It was unthinkable that he would choose to be with some mousy little blonde instead. But it had happened. Angel loved Buffy and nothing she could say or do would was going to change that. Cordelia stood watching the couple as they stared loving at each other. It was almost enough to make her sick. She wore a sour expression on her face throughout the short ceremony.

Angel and Buffy only had eyes for each other. Every vow repeated reverently. Angel reached over to brush the tears away from eyes. Buffy grabbed his fingers and raised them to her lips to kiss.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride," the minister said.

Buffy and Angel kissed. A kiss of a lifetime, a kiss of forever.


***

Kenny G's instrumental version of *Let It Snow* played softly. Angel and Buffy were dancing. All eyes were on the recently married couple. Buffy's cheek laid against the unbeating heart of her husband and his cheek laid on the top of her golden head. A look of pure bliss radiated from both of their faces as they swayed to the music.

Cordelia was standing near the fireplace the sour expression still marring her beautiful face. She had indulged heavily in the expensive champagne Angel had purchased for the small reception and was very close to being pronounced drunk.

She had eyed the delicate looking untraditional 3-tiered chocolate wedding cake. It was lavishly decorated with white and red sugared roses. Cordelia had wanted to pick the cake up and hurl it in the fireplace but a last bit of reason or perhaps self-preservation had kept her from carrying out her evil thoughts. She watched the other occupants in the room. No one was paying her much attention. She wasn't the center of attention tonight and she wasn't use to that. More importantly she didn't like it. But there was nothing she could do about it.

"Look!" Willow exclaimed rushing over to the French door leading to the courtyard. "It's snowing! It's snowing in Sunnydale! I can only remember this happening once before!"

Angel and Buffy hugged each other as they stared at the fat flakes of snow falling to coat the ground with whiteness. They both new it was a sign from the Doyle, Kendra and Powers That Be that they belong together. From this day forward they would live, love and fight evil together, side-by-side forever.

<So, when do we get to fuck the new wife? Now? Soon?> Angelus, quiet during the day finally stirred. And, as usual, he had a one track mind.

*END*

 



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