Title:Past Ghosts

Author: Tinkerbell

Rating: NC-17

Spoilers: Up through HLoD and ItD

Summary: Halloween smut and angst for B/A. Happy endings all around, though.




"You look great!"


"I look dumb."


"Nah, Buffy, you look terrific. Going as Alice in Wonderland was a great idea."


Buffy looked doubtfully down at her soft blue dress with the white pinafore, then back up at her reflection in the mirror. The matching blue bow that pulled half of her hair back from her face did make her eyes look kind of nice, she thought. And her cheeks, devoid of makeup, had a nice glow to them. Her black patent-leather Mary Janes were shiny in the light from the ceiling. In one hand, she clutched a small stuffed white rabbit that discreetly held a sharpened stake in a hidden pouch.


"It's not so bad, I guess," she sighed, looking at Willow's Queen of Hearts costume. "But I like yours better. It's more...sexy."


Willow giggled, tugging at the low bodice of her black and red striped dress. "Let's hope Oz appreciates it."


"I think a lot of people will appreciate it," Buffy said, eyeing the flesh spilling over the top of the dress. She gave herself one last grim look. Who cared, anyway? Who cared what the hell she wore to this idiotic Halloween party? She could go in a flour sack, and no one would notice. /No one of import, that is,/ she amended, with a small twinge of bitterness.


Damn that Parker.


She couldn't get past him. She couldn't get past the fact that she had given him a gift, a precious, priceless gift, and he had wadded it up and thrown it away. It had meant nothing to him. He had forgotten about it before the sheets had grown cold and her imprint on the pillow was still there. And here she was, still mooning about after him, even knowing what kind of boy he had turned out to be. Just like she had mooned about after the first time it had happened, with Angel...


Buffy's thoughts came to a screeching halt, much as they always did when dangerous memories threatened to break through. Angel was *gone*, Angel had *left* her. Angel did not want her. She turned abruptly to Willow. "So, um, who's going to be at this thing? The usual suspects?"


"I guess," Willow shrugged, turning sideways to view herself in the mirror.


"Will, um, Parker be there?"


"Who?" Willow asked innocently.






Buffy's lips tightened. "Poophead."


"Oh, Poophead! I wasn't sure who you meant."


Buffy began to giggle, and Willow was relieved. "Come on," Willow urged, "Oz is meeting us down in front of the building."




"Are you crazy?"


"As a jaybird," Doyle replied blithely, arching an eyebrow at his reflection in the mirror. The gold and red jester costume he wore was garishly comedic. The small bells on the points of the hat tinkled every time he moved.


"You look immensely stupid."


"Now, now. Insults will get you nowhere, Angel my man. If you ask me, you could use a little lightening up. You wanna wear the jester costume?"


Angel snorted.


"All right, then. No more comments from the peanut gallery. This is the perfect disguise for blending in to this college party thing. That demon that's been feeding on the UC kids will use this party as a perfect hundred course meal. You think Cordelia will like my hat?" he asked hopefully.


"I think Cordelia would rather kill herself than be seen with you," came the answering reply from the girl in question. Cordelia stood in the doorway, dressed casually in jeans and a cotton t-shirt. In her hands she held a hollow, candy-filled plastic pumpkin.


Angel smothered a laugh as Doyle bristled. "No thanks I get for helping the helpless!" he shouted, stomping from the room and into the waiting elevator. "Let's go, Phantom of the Opera, or whoever you are."


"Dark Knight. You know, the early version of Batman."


"I don't give a fuck," Doyle groused. "You got the whole cape and mask thing going, I don't know who the hell you're supposed to be. Hurry up."


"Don't eat all the candy, Cord," Angel sighed, as he grabbed a black hooded mask from the arm of the couch and entered the elevator.


"Never touch the stuff," Cordelia replied cheerfully, pulling the wrapper from a Tootsie Roll.


On the way up to street level, Doyle brooded. "She thinks I'm a clown."


"Yes," Angel agreed easily. "She does."


"Shut the fuck up."






The music assaulted their ears from clear out on the street. People spilled from the open doorway and lounged about on the front porch of the house, dressed in every kind of Halloween getup imaginable. Faint whoops could be heard from somewhere inside, testimony to the party that was growing steadily louder. Buffy hung back nervously. "Umm...this looks kind of...wild."


"But fun!" Willow replied, clutching Oz's green-clad arm. The Peter Pan costume he wore was oddly fitting for him, the jade of the material matching well with his hair.


"Looks like a good time," he remarked calmly, watching a very intoxicated Darth Maul weave his unsteady way down the front steps.


"Come on," Willow urged, taking Buffy by the arm and linking their hands. "We'll all stay together."


Once inside the house, they were separated in a matter of seconds. The crowd enclosed them, and all Buffy could see before her was a myriad of colorful costumes. The music pulsed in her ears, and the smell of cheap beer assaulted her, making her feel dizzy and sick. She pushed her way through the hot, noisy mass of people, suddenly anxious to be free of the sensory overload. A leering clown grabbed her arm, putting his face close to hers and breathing toxic fumes. "What's the hurry, Alice? Late for a very important...oof!" The clown backed off quickly after receiving an elbow in his stomach, and Buffy glanced about anxiously. Spotting a small alcove directly off the main room, she shoved aside the black curtain over the doorway and found herself blissfully alone.


Well, almost. Two other girls had also discovered the small respite and were talking in low, excited voices while they perched on two of the folding chairs that were scattered about the room. Both of them glanced up at Buffy, then returned to their conversation.


/Rude,/ Buffy thought, sinking gratefully into an empty chair near the two girls. They continued to converse, unmindful of Buffy, who began to eavesdrop out of boredom.


"...he was so open with me, even though he said he'd never really done that before. He told me that he had all these confusing feelings for me, and he was kind of afraid of them! He's so close to telling me he cares about me, I just know it."


The other girl nodded enthusiastically. "I bet if you guys get...*close*...he'll really let down his guard."


The first girl giggled. "I'm planning on getting *close* tonight! He's supposed to be here, dressed as the Phantom of the Opera. I'm just going to go up to him, and say, 'Parker, let's go upstairs and talk.' You think he'll go for it?"


Her friend's response was lost on Buffy as her blood began to roar through her ears, filling her head with the rushing sound. Parker. They were talking about Parker. Who was somewhere around here, according to the girl. Should she find him? Buffy began to twist her hands together nervously. Maybe if she found him, she could talk to him. And maybe if she talked to him, she could ask him again why he had done what he did. And maybe this time, she would get an answer she could live with. An answer that was something other than "Buffy Summers is the worst lay in the entire Western Hemisphere."


Another high-pitched giggle came from the girl closest to her, and suddenly it was grating on Buffy's nerves. Rising from her chair quickly enough to send it scraping backward, she crossed the little alcove and flung aside the black curtain. At once the party enveloped her again, the raucous music beating in her head, and she looked around wildly. Phantom of the Opera, the girl had said. So he would be dressed in black. With a cape, probably, she mused, scanning the crowd. From her vantage point, however, the search was useless. The only things she could see were whatever was at eye level. Grabbing the nearest folding chair, she scrambled up on it and found herself a good head and shoulders above the partiers, able to see down on them.


/Black, black...God, is nobody dressed in black?/ she thought crazily, her eyes darting from one person to the next, searching for Parker and his dark head. Finally, her eyes lit on a tall, dark form, clothed entirely in the color of night, complete with a cape that fell nearly to the floor. The person was moving toward the less-crowded hallway, and Buffy wasted no time in skillfully jumping to the floor and pushing her way through the room.


"Hey, Alice, you late for a date?" A drunk Mickey Mouse playfully tugged on the ends of her apron strings, but Buffy pulled free with a glare.


"Heard that one already," she mumbled, glancing anxiously up ahead just in time to see the person in black disappear into the hallway. She followed, finally breaking through the crowd, and entered the hall to find him with his back to her, leaning against the wall.


/Boy, that cape makes his shoulders look broad,/ was the first thing she thought. The second thing she thought was, /Why am I doing this? I don't even like him./


But it was the small, insecure part of herself that made her follow him, the same little part that wouldn't leave her alone and wouldn't allow her to forget what he had done. "Hey," she said nervously, her voice sounding high in her ears.


He turned around, his face hidden by a hooded mask that seemed out of place on a Phantom of the Opera costume. /Didn't the Phantom wear that white, half-mask thing?/ Buffy thought, and then rushed ahead in her nervousness, her words spilling over each other in their rush to escape. "Um, I know we talked already, and you said what you had to say, but there's something I just have to know. Was I really that bad, Parker? Was it so unmemorable that you couldn't even call? I just know how pathetic this sounds, but since it's the second time in my life that it's happened, a girl starts to wonder, you know? And since I've only done it twice, well..." she trailed off and gave a rueful shrug, then started up again. "The first time it happened, there were....extenuating circumstances. Doesn't mean it wasn't painful, but I chalked it up to, um, other factors. But when *we* did it, I kind of thought it was good, you know? Was I wrong? Was there something I should have done differently? I need to know. I'm a need-to-know kind of girl. Learn from my mistakes, that's me..."


She ran out of steam, finally, and stood there shifting from foot to foot in her anxiety. /Dummy,/ she berated herself. /What on earth did you think he was going to say to you, pouring your battered heart out like that? Any second now, he's going to be laughing so hard his beer will come out his nose./


There was a long silence, punctuated only by sharp staccato bursts of music from the front room, and Buffy wished she were on the Hellmouth. Then, at least, she could have prayed for it to open up and swallow her. Finally, the dark-clad man reached up and slowly drew his mask from his head, revealing his face.


Buffy thought she might be ill.


Angel stared down at her, his eyes dark and roiling with fury. Through a clenched jaw, he spat, "Who's Parker?"




Time froze, it seemed, while Buffy could do nothing but stare disbelievingly at Angel. Not possible, she thought dimly. He's not here. He's in Los Angeles, doing whatever it is he does there. He is not HERE, at this stupid Halloween party.


"I said," repeated Angel, very calmly, "who is Parker?"


Buffy opened her mouth but no sound came out, her voice had frozen in her throat and her mind could not form a rational answer. Her entire body had responded instantly to Angel, setting her nerve endings tingling and the blood pounding through her. A sharp, short twinge of pain suddenly flared in her neck, and she unthinkingly rose her hand to touch the raised scar at the slope of her shoulder.


His eyes flicked to her neck, watching her fingers rub the little scar, and he tightened his lips. Abruptly brushing past her with a whirl of his cape, he disappeared out into the party.


"Angel!" she managed to cry, the sound wrenching its way from her throat, and she set out after him, pushing her way through the tight mass of people. She could see him stop briefly to speak to a colorful jester, and the jester furrowed his brow in response and opened his mouth to reply. Angel shook his head and backed away, heading out the front door. Buffy reached the door in time to see him take the steps two at a time and stride purposefully down the walk to the crowded lot of cars across the street. She darted down the steps and watched as he vaulted easily into a black convertible, and without thinking she dashed into the street.


Giant headlights swerved dangerously close, followed by a screeching of tires on asphalt, but Buffy did not hear the blaring horn as she fixed her eyes on Angel and reached the parking lot in safety. Instantly two strong hands grabbed her upper arms and shook her.


"What's wrong with you!" Angel shouted, his entire body trembling. "That drunk idiot almost hit you!"


"I...I..." she couldn't speak, and Angel was gripping her arms too painfully. "Angel, that hurts," she managed, and abruptly he let go of her and fisted his hands at his sides. Buffy was suddenly wary of the golden glow behind his brown eyes. He turned away from her and climbed back into his car.


"Go back to the party, Buffy," he said tiredly from the driver's seat, fumbling with his key.


Buffy moved to the front of the car and placed her hands on the hood, effectively blocking his way. "We need to talk to each other."


"You talked enough," he pointed out, motioning with his head toward the house. He managed to finally get his key into the ignition, and the car roared to life. Angel revved the engine impatiently, anxious for her to move so that he could get away from her.


Buffy stepped away from the car, heart pounding, her stomach turning. He would not leave her this way, he couldn't. He had *told* her to find someone else! He had left her in order for her to live her life in the sunshine! As the car began to roll past her, Angel's eyes fixed on the road, she spat at him angrily, "I was only doing what you wanted me to do."


The car stopped. There was a long silence, broken only by the purring of the car's engine. Then, without glancing at her, he spoke. "Get in."




They drove to the small dormitory room she shared with Willow. He followed her up silently, having not spoken a word since he began driving, with the exception of, "Where?"


"My place, I guess," Buffy answered in a small voice, and now they were here, sitting on her bed in silence together. Angel was a sharp contrast to the small, girly room, seeming to fill it with his dark presence and make the air fairly crackle with his controlled anger.


He stared morosely at the floor, his elbows braced on his knees and his head hung low. "Did you like him a lot?" he finally murmured, so quietly that Buffy had to strain to hear him.


"At first," she admitted. "But after...then I didn't like him at all."


Angel laughed humorlessly. "Guess he wasn't that great, huh?"


"He was fine, Angel," Buffy answered truthfully, watching as a muscle jumped in Angel's jaw. "Apparently, I was the one who was less than memorable. But I wanted him to be something that he wasn't, and that was my own fault. I wanted him to be something different."


"Different how?"


"I wanted him to be you."


A startling, intense wave of guilt slammed through Angel. What on earth did he think he was doing, getting angry at the only girl he would ever love? The girl that *he* had left behind, in the false reasoning that she needed to be with someone else? His anger was not with her. It was with himself, for leaving her, for allowing someone else to touch her and worship the body he had marked as his own.


He looked up at her for the first time since entering her small room. She looked very young, sitting next to him in her Alice In Wonderland costume, with her hair pulled back in the little blue bow. And yet, her eyes were old, sorrowful. His gaze traveled to her neck, the edge of the scar barely visible above the neckline of her white blouse.


"I'm sorry," he whispered into the silence.


She looked startled. "Why?"


"You were right. I told you to do it."


"You left me," she added accusingly, feeling tears threaten at the back of her throat and willing them not to fall.


"I know. It was a mistake."


She started to laugh, then suddenly was sobbing into her hands, the tears running over her fingers and landing in soft wet circles on her white pinafore.


Wisely, Angel did not make a move to gather her close, though everything in him was screaming at him to hold her. He sat with her while she cried, knowing instinctively that she was also crying over her loss of Parker, over her feelings of inadequacy and undesirability.




God. He had felt the beginnings of an erection when he had first heard her voice at the party. Seeing her looking so innocent in the little girl's dress she wore had only fueled his fire, because he knew what lay beneath the soft white tights that covered her shapely legs. The thought that someone else had seen what was his, had taken what belonged only to him, sent rage barreling through him. Buffy was *his*, and she would *stay* his. Undesirable? The very thought was laughable. He wanted to shred her clothing from her body and cover every inch of her with his tongue. Then he wanted to slam inside her until she couldn't breathe. That's how undesirable she was.


Her sobs eventually petered out, with only an occasional hiccup remaining, and Angel reached over and placed a gentle hand on her leg. "Better now?" he asked, watching a final tear trace its way over the curve of her cheek.


Buffy nodded. "How charming I must look," she said thickly, using the edge of the blanket to wipe her eyes.


He leaned back with her against the headboard, stretching out his long legs and turning his head to see her. She followed suit, turning her head so that their gazes met and locked, their foreheads nearly touching. "You look," he said softly, "like a picture."


"A picture of what?" she smiled, feeling warmth spread through her belly.


"Of sunshine. And grace. And purity." With each word, he drew closer to her mouth, so that the last word was said in a bare whisper. He raised a hand to her face, using his fingertips to touch her nose, her eyes. He traced her silky brows with a light touch, his hand finally curving behind her neck to bring her mouth the last inch closer to his.


She kissed him in relief, almost crying again at the contact. He had left her, and now he was here, and she couldn't touch him enough. Her hands roamed over his chest and got tangled in the black cape he still wore. Buffy smiled against him when he made a sound of impatience and tore the cape from around his neck, and she rose to her knees in order to lean more fully against him.


As soon as he felt her press against him, Angel snatched her from her kneeling position and brought her fully atop his length, sliding down so that they lay fully prone on the bed. He brought up a thumb to slide along her bottom lip while they kissed, feeling her warm tongue bathe his finger while she nibbled at his mouth. Her legs slipped to cradle his hips and he groaned into her mouth when she settled onto his hardness, her breasts pressing firmly into his chest.


Buffy sighed when Angel slipped a hand between them to caress her breast, finding his way beneath her apron and tearing the buttons of the blouse she wore. She felt her flesh shrink and tighten as he rubbed against the nipple, and she pressed even harder into him as they kissed urgently, and then suddenly she pulled away.


"Angel...maybe we shouldn't."


He looked worried. "You don't like it?"


"Oh," she said, embarrassed, "I like it, all right. But we shouldn't start what can't be finished, don't you think?" It was familiar territory, they had started and stopped so many times in the past that it was old nature to Buffy to cut things short.


"Oh. That. Well..."




"Ummm...I fixed that."




"Doyle showed me how to--"


"Who's Doyle?"




"The jester?"


He turned up a corner of his mouth. "Yeah. The jester."


"No happiness thingy?"


"No happiness thingy."


"Works for me." And then she leaned down to kiss him again, letting her hair fall around his head like a shimmery curtain, and he placed both hands on the side of her face while he ravaged her mouth.


"Sweet," he murmured. "How did you get to be so sweet?" And she was, he thought. It was like cherry juice, the taste of her skin, and suddenly there were too many clothes in the way. He began to struggle with her dress, trying to lift it over her head but getting the zipper caught in her hair.


Buffy calmed him, gently moving his hands from the closure and undoing it herself, while she glanced pointedly at his shirt. Angel wasted no time in drawing it up over his head and flinging it to the floor, and when she looked at his pants and then quickly away again, he grinned and divested himself of those too.


Finally, blessedly, they were skin to skin on the narrow bed, their hands roaming curiously over each other. They lay side by side, resting on their elbows, while the length of their bodies fit perfectly together. Buffy could feel Angel's steel erection pressing at the juncture of her thighs, and as if in answer, felt a rush of moisture begin to seep out of her. She lifted a knee in invitation and rested it on his hip, leaving her legs parted for him to see.


Without losing her gaze, Angel dropped a hand to the glistening curls, feeling the silky liquid that pooled at her opening. A single finger wandered inside, causing Buffy to drop her head back and take her bottom lip between her teeth while he explored the smooth passage. She arched very slightly toward him, seeking the pressure on her tight bud, and he was not cruel enough to tease her. Using his thumb, he rested it lightly where she needed it, letting her arch toward him and away again.


He didn't move his hand, but instead let Buffy ride the finger that was inside of her, pressing her center to the palm of his hand and rubbing in small circles. Just as Angel thought he might die if she didn't touch him, she surprised him by taking his length in her hand and squeezing him in time to her rhythm.


Angel almost forgot to move, it felt so good, but when Buffy pressed urgently against him again he remembered. They lay like that for long minutes, each one stroking the other, until Angel felt a pressure behind his balls and knew he had to stop her or risk spilling into her hand like a teenager.


"Stop," he whispered, stilling her hand, and she protested feebly.




"We'll be through before we start," he explained warmly, smiling down at her flushed face and bright eyes. He turned her to her back, moving over her, and Buffy could feel him nudging at her entrance.


It was almost enough to start the tears flowing again, as she realized what they were about to do. It had been such a long time, nearly two whole years since she had felt Angel inside her, claiming her, branding her. And to think she had let another man do the things to her that Angel had done...her eyes filled unexpectedly, and her chin began to tremble.


Without a word, Angel brought a hand up to close her wet eyes, and gathered her close underneath him. One powerful thrust sent him deeply inside of her, causing Buffy to shudder and suck in a deep breath. She clutched at his shoulders, their bodies molding, his hard and muscle-knit, hers soft and yielding.


An ancient, primitive force began to overcome them, as they swallowed each other's kisses like honey, as Angel thrusted into her in a steady, driving rhythm. "Soft," Angel murmured. "Soft, everywhere." He burrowed into her neck, tasting the scar he had left on her with his tongue, feeling a guilty sort of joy that he had marked her so fully. Dimly, he felt Buffy raise her knees to clutch his hips, and felt her pressing urgently against him in time with his thrusts. Bringing a hand down between them, he rested it against her center, letting her use it to bring herself to climax.


In a matter of moments, she was trembling and gasping, digging her nails into his arms and arching her golden head back on the pillow. Angel felt the pressure begin again in his balls, and began to thrust harder, deeper, into her, suddenly frantic to be sheathed inside as deeply as he could go. It built, the sweet tension, until it exploded out of him in release, and he could do nothing but collapse against her and shudder in satisfaction. As his seed shot into her welcoming warmth, he growled against her neck, "*Mine*."


Buffy heard him and reveled in his possessiveness, nodding her head in agreement. She threaded her fingers through his soft hair and pulled, making him lift his tired head. "*Mine*," she repeated, staring into his eyes, and he nodded solemnly before dropping his head again to her breast and resting it there.


Their souls met and linked, one human, one vampire, and they slept for a time.


When they woke, the moon was high in the sky and the tree outside Buffy's window silhouetted its bare branches against the white orb. "It's a night for ghosts," Buffy murmured against Angel's hard shoulder, kissing the cool skin.


"Goblins," Angel agreed.


"Scary stuff."


"You'll protect me?"


"We'll protect each other."





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