Love and Bruises
DISCLAIMER: Joss, ME, Fox, UPN, etc. etc. own everything.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: When I started writing this I was thinking about Buffy and Spike and I kind of thought, 'What if Buffy had already been trying to lose herself in sex before that?' and how it might have been easier to turn to Spike after. This doesn't really come through in the fic, it's just an idea.
TIMELINE: Set during seasons 5/2, but I don't know where exactly. You'll have to suspend your belief. 'There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb'.
SYNOPSIS: Meetings in the dark.
Angel can already feel her glimmer on his skin as he listens to her breath speed up almost imperceptively. She's still behind the wood and he wonders why she's hesitating this time, as if this hasn't already happened so many times before. Lapses in judgement, he tells himself. Too much of a temptation. The metal clicks and turns and her scent fills the room but he doesn't look away from the open curtains, his hands deep in his pockets. He must look so untouchable, but he only has to gaze at her and his fingers itch to slide beneath her clothes, brushing feminine warmth.
She makes him forget about Darla and he thinks that it's partly the reason she keeps coming back. The next day she'll be like a dream, but he'll smell her on his skin and on his sheets and on his hands. There'll be faint scratches on his back and chest and the memory of being completely enfolded in heat. She has so much energy to burn. He'll settle into his old habit of missing her and *them*, how it used to be. Then Darla will be there to screw him up all over again.
Buffy doesn't say anything as she closes the door but her heartbeats fill the room quicker as the seconds pass, almost thundering in his ears, and he finally turns around, trying not to show what it does to him to see her. She waits a few more moments, as if unsure -- why is she suddenly so unsure? -- and advances towards him slowly. He backs away at the same time and she follows, like a midnight dance, and he feels the back of his knees bump into the edge of his bed. Buffy looks him in the eye as she calmly smooths a hand over his shirt, unbuttoning the last button, the one above it, the one above it. Bruised Slayer knuckles graze against his cool skin.
He swallows and forces the words out. "We-- we shouldn't."
He always says something similar. We can't. No. Stop. Yes. Harder.
It never makes a difference because she doesn't need words to know what he wants.
Sometimes she lets him spill inside her, her eyes watchful with worry at the consequences; sometimes she falls asleep on his sheets, but she always, always dresses without looking at him, turning that metal and leaving something bittersweet and wistfully aromatic behind her.
The buttons are free and she runs both hands over his skin like she wants to eat him up, finding his eyes again.
"So stop me," she whispers. Not challenging, just futile. Angel doesn't reply, can't reply, and she moves forward to press her mouth to the centre of his chest, soft, warm tongue slipping out to make him shiver. Her eyes are heavy-lidded as she slides lower, greeting every inch of coveted flesh with a lick, a kiss. He bites back a moan, needing to touch her, gently holding the back of her neck. Her skin is always hotter than he expects; he loves her wrapped all around him.
She smells sweet, like soap, powdered with night. It makes him ache to see her bathed in daylight, just one more time.
He knows that their liaisons are based on his resolve and he always gives in, however unintentionally. He'll have to taste a breast, or the line of her hip. Not-so-little surrenders. She'll breathe and gasp into his ear that she needs him, full of orgasmic romance and perfect thrusts.
Needs him. There is little he hasn't surrendered to her as a result of those words.
Buffy touches his belt, running her fingers over the strap before tugging it free. She has always associated the unbuckling of a belt with him, the chink of the silver buckle, the humming friction between material and hard leather. She loves the sound, remembering the times she watched him and listened to it, rapt, and Angelus, fastening the belt with that dirty smirk.
He can't take his eyes from her as she fingers the button on his pants, unzipping him and pushing them down his legs. Kneels with a hand up the inside of his thigh, wrapping around his hardness with such ease, moist kisses along his hips to test his patience. She strokes him slowly with a knowing grip, looking up at him silently from beneath her lashes and he's so close, so close to holding her and telling her she's everything he'll always need. It seems dizzyingly incongruous that the same hands that drove a sword through his heart can hold him so tenderly now, hands that he remembers all over his skin. Then she licks the head of his cock with her little tongue, the sensitive ridge, with perfect leisure, her hot breath teasing neglected nerve-endings. Angel pushes his hand into her hair, away from her face, eyes drawn helplessly to her pink lips.
Buffy has taken him into her throat before but she doesn't tonight, her hand no longer slow as she moves her mouth on him deliciously. The hot, wet feel of her is almost more than he can stand and he grits his teeth as her soft tongue sweeps over him relentlessly. He feels a high, lusty moan vibrate around his cock, the same moan she makes when he hits a particularly delectable spot inside her. She slides faster and he feels the pleasure barrel through him and onto her tongue, muscles tightening, her name erupting from his lips. He's in a sweet daze as she licks him up, rubbing her lips against the tip, softly, back and forth, as if in slow-motion.
He watches as she stands again, an almost-smile tugging at her lips in satisfaction. It catches Angel off guard; he hasn't seen a real smile in so long and misses it fiercely. Makes him want to give her everything and he's suddenly slammed back to three years ago, when they were still new and he would see her and think, 'I'll give you anything you want, anything to make you happy' every single time. He touches the corner of her mouth with his thumb, transfixed by the feminine curve and shape of her. In all the times, there has never been this silent study but only a desperation for forgetfulness, and she wavers slightly under his gaze.
Buffy looks down and pushes his shirt off his shoulders instead, her hands caressing his skin, and he lowers his head to kiss her. His kisses usually come with a certain amount of trepidation, but not now as he tangles a hand into her hair to capture her mouth completely, her lips parting easily to accept his tongue. She misses this, the way he does it like it's the only thing he could ever want... the tantalising brush of teeth...
Then- they freeze, lip to lip. The clack of heels strike solid marble and her hands slip away, looking up into his eyes warily, her nose almost touching his in the darkness. She pants softly, her whole body alert.
"Just me!" Cordelia calls up loudly, and he doesn't know whether this is good or better or the worst possible timing ever. They listen tensely as she conducts an intensive excavation of her desk, rooting for some forgotten object, and Angel might have gone down to hasten things if he thought Buffy might still be there when he returned. She's still watching him seriously; he wants her hands again and leans down to kiss her very gently, keeping his eyes open to watch hers fall shut.
He guesses that Cordy's gone because it's silent below once more and he pulls Buffy's shirt over her head, finding her all soft skin and innocent breasts and missing her so much he can barely look at her lest he do something stupid, like make love to her or steal her away from the world.
Buffy pushes him down onto the bed and crawls over him, kissing a moist line from his navel to his lips, a deep, hungry kiss, and he pushes his hands into her hair. Despite the urgency he feels, something warm and languid settles comfortably in the illusion that they do this every day and then sleep in each other's arms until morning wakes them.
He twists them so that he's on top, pressing kisses anywhere he can reach before moving lower, sipping the skin on the underside of her breasts as he unbuttons and unzips her jeans, pulling them off her hips. Angel has learned that her sex drive is formidable, as if battling the forces of darkness night after night isn't enough to tire her out, feeding her instead. He's learned that she loves to experiment with anything new or different, and that she's still as possessive of him as she has ever been.
He learnt that early on, when she scented perfume on his clothes. He couldn't remember the perfume or the reason, but only what came afterwards.
Sometimes when she's lost in concentration, fucking him without a word, he wonders whether she loves him anymore, the way he still loves her after all that has passed. Then she'll give him her warm kisses afterwards or during, on his lips and all over and he'll be lost, forgetting to care if she doesn't love him the same way because he unequivocally belongs to her.
After he's removed her underwear, finding her waxed bare and heated pink, she uses her considerable strength to push him onto his back again, straddling his hips. Buffy is usually on top, because they're under the pretence that this is only for her, and she enjoys the control the position offers. But she likes other things, too; she likes feeling him from behind, on her hands and knees, and the hard surface of the desk in his quarters.
Angel never wanted it to come to this. Not with such coldness. But this time, strangely, it's not cold at all. She touches his face as they kiss, mouths exploring familiar territory, and he runs his hands over her supple body gently.
Buffy kisses his ear, pulling it between her lips. He's so hard, he can barely think. "How do you want to..." She doesn't finish her whisper and he's surprised by her sudden shyness. But he understands.
"Like this," he replies, because he likes her on top as well. They kiss again for long moments and it feels dangerous because they're close, too close, it feels too much like old times. Innocence. Tenderness.
Then Buffy seems to grow tense and he senses a change. She moves her hand down to grasp his erection and nips his earlobe sharply.
It's relief and heartbreak all at once. He's never missed her so much while having her in his arms.
His body is still humming, recovering, and as always, he doesn't sleep afterwards. Angel stares at her back, almost a foot separating them on the bed, listening to her heart beat in an even rhythm. He memorises the way her hair falls on the pillow, the musky smell of her, the scattering of light freckles on her skin.
He can tell Buffy isn't sleeping, her body still tense, like it had been the entire time. Something's been different all night, as if the release isn't enough, even though that's what she's there for. Despite inner protests, he runs the back of his fingers over her shoulderblades and she shivers in response. He turns his hand over and continues the path down the middle of her back, her skin hot and still slightly damp.
"Don't," Buffy says quietly, a small muffled sound.
Angel feels anger rise for the first time. He snakes an arm around her waist and pulls her body against his, feeling her resist but the movement is too fast. Her hips curve into his and he inhales her, pressing his nose into her hair.
"Shh." He presses his lips against the back of her neck gently, suspended in a kiss, and finally, after several minutes, she begins to soften, melting into him. He's held her before but it isn't like other times. Buffy never relaxes, not even in repose.
It's the unspoken word between them, but always at the forefront.
Angel parts his lips and licks her salty skin, immediately sensing her arousal. There's a shock when he feels her lace her fingers with his on her belly, because this is more intimate than any of their nights together. It hurts as much as he thought it would.
With a sharp pang, he lets himself pretend that it's okay, that there are no consequences and no obligations. She is absolutely precious to him. He tightens his arm and she exhales, a soft release. He's torn between saying he loves her and putting distance between them again. Buffy decides for him, turning around to face him.
She closes his eyelids with a brush of her fingers. "Sleep."
"Next--" he begins unthinkingly, before the word registers in his mind. They both still, and she turns around for the first time, her shirt hanging from her fingers. He's momentarily distracted.
They have never talked about a tomorrow or next time. It is tacit understanding that there is no next time, even though she has come back to him again and again, undressed him, put her hands and lips on him. He sees the vulnerability in her eyes as she waits for him to speak. Angel ignores protocol since the night seems to be about breaking rules, and leaves the bed to stand naked in front of her. They look at each other silently for long seconds.
"Next time," he says again, then hesitates, "stay the night."
Her eyes are luminous in the near-darkness, searching his as he waits for her response. She touches his cheek, then stretches up on her toes to press her lips to his forehead before finding his mouth. It reminds him of the Bronze at sixteen, leaving him with kisses and seared skin and not being able to walk away.
Buffy kisses him softly a few more times and his fingers tighten on her waist, not wanting to let her go. She leans her forehead against his cheek.
"Will you wait for me?" she whispers.
Angel frowns, uncertain, and she puts on the rest of her clothes, her back to him again. "I always do," he tells her, confessing. She finishes dressing and doesn't turn around, so he tentatively places his hands on her hips.
Without warning, she delivers a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth and pulls away, walking to his bedroom door.
Buffy places her hand on the doorknob and pauses, trying to ground herself with the cool metal. "I'll see you," she says before she leaves, her voice cracking. She can't look back at him, bare in the moonlight, in case she hides in him through the storm.
Angel feels strangely invigorated after returning home from Pylea -- misses her -- and an image of Buffy waiting in his bed, undressed and open like a flower, flashes traitorously in his mind. It's been more than a month since that night, his mind whispers, too long for her.
He wonders if she drove to the Hyperion while he was away and found the old hotel empty. He tries to tell himself that he hopes she didn't think to come. Tries to tell himself that she shouldn't be coming to him at all.
He bounds up the stairs a little too enthusiastically, betraying his reserved, brooding demeanor.
"Can I say it? I wanna say it," he says, like an excited child. Angel stops mid-sentence as he opens the doors wide, seeing the red-haired girl he remembers so well.
He is aware of his heart growing cold, dread slithering with painful precision through his veins. He suddenly feels like such a fool, and realises, too late, that he did everything wrong.
Willow stands, bleak.
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