SUMMARY: Through smoke and storm, the battered bird rises.

SPOILERS: Spoilers through AtS S4, Sacrifice. Spoilers and speculation for the remainder of S4 and speculation for S5.

DISCLAIMER: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.

DISTRIBUTION: To the standard sites, and if you want it, please ask.

NOTES: I can't seem to do a PWP without a smidgen of plot. Here's what you need to know: In my world, Spike shanshu'd and Buffy did the Fray thing, staying behind to close the Hellmouth. Connor went evil and Angel killed him. Angel, trying to preserve what family he had left, let W&H convince him to work for them, in exchange for bigger guns, better pay and the best medical care for Cordy. Then Cordy woke up to find her world shattered. Refusing to work for the enemy or lose sight of the mission, she formed The Chase Agency with Spike and Giles, refugees from Sunnydale. The story picks up from there.

FEEDBACK: You know I want it.

THANKS: To my excellent beta crew, Lala247 and Ignited, who heard my pleas for help and threw me a lifeline. Inappropriate gropes to Queen Mab who talked me through the scary parts and made me see the fic in a new light. And to Julie Fortune, who knew which part was just for her and who never lets me get away with a damn thing.

DEDICATION: To Gabby. Because she wanted some smut. With a capital SMUH.




It wasn't the first time Angel had watched a woman through her bedroom window.


Cordelia slept, curled in a little ball against the edge of the bed, both protected and able to bolt if danger approached. Her body remained rigid, even in sleep.


A shadow moved across the doorframe and the light from the hall bounced off of Spike's bone-white hair and skin. He'd kept the same schedule as before. The only thing the shanshu had changed was his residence, the girl he obsessed over, and his eating habits.


Resentment churned, blacker and more toxic than the polluted air, but he choked it back. Don’t feel. Don’t feel anything at all.


Angel's jaw clenched as Spike brushed his fingers across the back of Cordy's hand. He then stiffened and glanced toward the window. Had he sensed Angel somehow? And then Cordy shifted, and the shine of light in her eyes, the tense-and-release of her muscles, pulled Spike's attention away.


She reached for Spike's hand and smiled when he spoke to her. Then she shook her head and closed her eyes and Spike slipped out of the room. Angel heard the front door close on the other side of the building and waited for the DeSoto's engine to catch. Its throaty growl hit the air before the car appeared, turning the corner and heading right underneath him.


The exhaust valves needed adjusting again, but then Spike had always sucked as a mechanic. He claimed he didn't have patient hands, but the truth was, they were patient enough when he was doing something he liked. Smoking, crushing a windpipe, fucking. Or these days, helping Cordy fight the good fight.


Cordy sighed in her sleep and relaxed the C of her body into a loose S. Angel liked to think it was because she sensed him and felt safe, but more likely it was because she thought she was finally alone.


The sounds of the city passed around him. Cars, sirens, the slap of shoes on concrete as a third-shifter got home from work. It was a tone poem, a story the city told him, and he knew just by listening what her mood was.


Tonight she was tired, quieter than usual, like someone beaten down and braced for another blow. Or maybe that was just him.


The light, dry air shifted and carried with it the damp currents from the ocean and an odd sound reached his ears. Was it just the wind, or was that really a key scraping in Cordy's lock?


He shimmied around the corner of the building, balancing on the slim, decorative ledge, letting his preternatural reflexes take over. Once upon a time he would have treated the intruder to an ugly death; now he simply watched as the front door opened.


The light from the hallway cast a triangular shadow on the wood floor, and the outline it left was hardly one he expected to see. Angel peered around the edge of the living room window, watching as Wesley closed the door silently and slid through the dark like a wraith.


He must have kept his key, too, but unlike Angel, he didn't seem to have any qualms about using it. They'd all had keys from the summer after his basement apartment blew up. He remembered that summer in a golden haze, just the three of them, like phoenixes rising from the ashes of their former lives. The rogue demon hunter, the May Queen and the Scourge of Europe all died in that fire, and they'd built something good, something clean on the remains.


Or so he'd thought.


Today had sucked beyond the telling of it. He breathed a silent, wry laugh as he realized how his life had changed since he met Buffy and her friends. From the slang he'd picked up to the soul he'd lost, he was a different man.


Willow'd given his soul back twice but after today he realized there was no danger of losing it. Not because it was magically anchored but because every bit of joy in his life had been flattened out and run through the shredder.


He and his crew had faced off against The Chase Agency just after sunset. It was a turf war, pure and simple. Spike, Giles and Cordy against Fred, Wes, Gunn and him.


He'd known it'd happen sooner or later; he'd just been hoping for later. When he saw her, cold-eyed and tight-jawed, press a sword to Fred's throat, he knew that everything he'd ever tried to build had burned up again.


He slipped back around to the bedroom, tracking Wes's movements through the apartment. He couldn't pick up even the sound of footsteps; Wes had become an excellent tracker over the last couple of years. Now that Connor was gone--


Angel closed his eyes and let his breath take over his thoughts. He could still feel the sword sliding into the crevice between his boy's ribs. When the tip sliced through Connor's heart, Angel felt it like it was buried in his own chest.


"The father will kill the son."


Wes sure had a way with prophecies. Funny that he wasn't angry at Wes anymore. Now he just felt...dead. Dull.


He'd thought taking the job at Wolfram and Hart would give everyone exactly what they wanted. Connor a good home. Cordy the best medical care. The rest of the crew a solid job and a chance to make a life and home in the world. To be the monster fighters they were.


But that had crumbled just like the first life he'd built with Buffy, and the second he'd built with Cordy and Wes, and the third he'd tried to build with Connor. wasn't meant for him. He really was better out here alone on the ledge, watching Wes--


Watching him. Angel's skin prickled. Wes stood in the doorway, staring right at him. Surprise jerked him off balance. A loose piece of masonry slithered free and fell to the sidewalk two stories below. He shoved his fingers into a crack in the stucco and held on.


The sky started to get heavy; he could feel the clouds move in. An ocean storm, coming up fast. He glanced up. No overhang. No matter. He'd been wet before. It wouldn't kill him to get wet again.


Even as he thought it, a memory from his short, human life surfaced. Stealing his father's boat during a storm and sailing on Galway Bay. He remembered the way his heart raced, his body braced, as the ship pitched and tossed. Even then he'd been a danger junkie, meeting death face-to-face and beating it down with both fists. Of course, that was before it found him in an alley, looking at him through eyes as blue and timeless as a summer sky.


When he looked again, Wes had slipped into the shadows next to the closet, tucked into a corner where Cordy wouldn't see him if she woke. He gave Angel a nod. No one but a vampire could have seen it.


The barometric pressure dropped suddenly and the first drops of rain hit the window in a hard, wet spatter. He held on as the wind blew up, welcoming the chilled air and the slap of the water on his skin. In the bedroom, Cordy shifted fitfully in her sleep.


Wes stood, arms crossed, leaning against the wall. Angel could just make out the blue-silver gleam of his eyes in the darkness.


Cordy groaned, rolled over and punched the pillow. Wes and Angel both went still. When she sighed and relaxed onto her belly, Angel relaxed, too. Wes didn't let down until her breathing evened out.


Angel's hair got damp and water trailed down his temples and into his collar. The wind blew, rattling the windows in the complex. He heard the next-door neighbor roll off his mattress and slam the window shut.


In her bed, Cordy shifted again, and turned her face to him. The perfect, pure curve of her cheek reminded him of the hull of his father's boat--made for cutting through the waves and getting him home after a night on stormy seas.


Her eyelids fluttered and her lips moved, like she had something to say, but only the people in her dream could hear it. That was Cordy--always with something to say. She'd told Fred she'd let her live—this once—but if she found her on her turf again, she'd kill her.


What happened to the sunny girl who jabbered about manicures and screamed about the roaches in her apartment?


Life happened. He couldn't feel guilty anymore--Cordy had made her own choices and he had to respect that. He couldn't undo those choices, any more than he could undo Wes's decision to take Connor, or Buffy's decision to stay behind and close the Hellmouth. The people he loved had minds and hearts and lives of their own.


But that didn't mean he'd let them go down without a fight.


Cordy had closed herself off from them after she woke up. He knew how she felt--he knew *exactly* how she felt. But the closest he'd been since then was a sword-length away. So he remedied it the only way he could.


By getting wet on her windowsill in the pouring rain.


The storm came on full force, pounding down the street, blowing the rain in sheets. The wind whistled, grabbing his hair, wrapping his coat around his calves. The temperature dropped but it didn't mean much to him; just something to observe as the time passed.


As Cordy tossed and turned and her mumbles became cries. He tensed as he realized what was happening. Nightmare. His hand found the windowpane even as Wes started toward the bed.


But her cries died as the wind did and she settled down again. Wes pulled up a shadow and settled in; Angel pressed his shoulder into the arch of the window.


Then Cordy wailed, a long, animal cry of pain so deep it seemed to waver up from somewhere in the earth's black center.


He'd never heard anyone make that sound before--except maybe himself. Those first few days after he got his soul, as the memories overlapped into reality. As he realized he could see each and every face, taste all the thousands of gradations of blood, like variations of grapes in wine. He'd wanted to spit, to gag, to vomit it all up, to give it all back, to give back all that life.


Her scream tapered into a moan and just as he thought she was calm, it started up again.  The neighbor came to the window and peered out, and Angel could see the gooseflesh standing on his bare arms.


Wes moved to stand beside the bed. He glanced up at Angel. Should he wake her, or let her fight the demons herself?


Angel knew no one could comfort her. But to be alone was so much worse. He'd needed someone to guide him through and no one had been there. If there was the slightest chance that Wes, who'd known darkness, could comfort her....


He nodded and Wes stroked her hand.


Now her scream became a yelp of terror as she woke, wild-eyed and backed into the headboard. Wes shook his head, spoke calmly. He offered his down-turned palm like a man trying to calm a wild dog.


Angel saw the spark of recognition, of anger, of shame, and then she blocked it all out. Flash-frozen and then nothing existed but the hard gleam of her eyes in the blackness.


Wes kept talking to her, talking, talking, and moving ever-so-slightly. The muffled rise-and-fall of her voice filtered through the window. "Who let you in...what makes you think…get out...."


Angel stopped listening to the words and watched her body language. Wes's movements weren't calming her down at all--instead she escalated, moving in agitated jerks as she got off the bed and rounded the mattress. "Out!" She pointed to the door and he could see in the slash of light the way her chest heaved, hear the frantic beat of her heart.


Wes raised his hands in supplication and moved toward the door, but then he stopped and turned to her. "I'm sorry," he said.


Angel knew he'd nearly whispered it, but he could hear it over the rain and wind, clear as a church bell on a bright day.


"You should be," Cordy said. "And don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out."


Wes shook his head. "That's not what I meant."


Cordelia exploded, coming at him full force, and shoving him into the hall. "I. Don't. Care."


Wes grabbed the doorjamb and held on. "I'm sorry I took Connor."


Cordy went completely still, staring at him, dumb-faced.


"I never got to tell you that. I--" He bowed his head. "You were gone, you see. I had no one to talk to and--"


"Oh, right, blame me.” She made a “go ahead” motion with her hand, like a fighter, taunting an opponent. “God knows I deserve it."


Wes raised his eyes. "No, Cordelia. Neither of us did." He rubbed his mouth and dropped his hand to his side. "Just promise me you won't make the same mistake."


Her laugh was harsh, mean. "Going to Holtz? Stealing the baby? Fucking the enemy? Which mistake, Wesley? There were so many."


For a minute the only sound was the rain. Then Wes’s voice came, quiet and broken. "Isolating yourself." He opened his hands and held them in front of him. "Don't you see? It's what broke us apart."


She paced next to the bed, and the wide-legged pajama pants dipped low on her hips. From here he could see the pink lace of stretch marks around her belly button, marring what had once been creamy smooth skin. Evidence of what she'd been through, of how the last few months had marked her, body and soul. "I thought I told you to get out."


Wes stood, straight, and his own scar, the one that lashed his throat nearly from ear to ear, glimmered. "You did."


"Then. Get. Out," she said through clenched teeth. She stopped pacing and crossed her arms over her chest.


Wes hung his head and turned to leave. Then he stopped. "You know what?" he asked, as if he'd suddenly been possessed by an idea. "No." When he stepped back into the room, his head was high, his shoulders straight. "I met you in that alley today, sword to sword, and it was one of the worst days of my life. I never wanted us to become enemies, Cordelia."


"Woo hoo. So you had a sucky day. Welcome to my world. Dennis?" she asked, looking around the room. "Get him out. Now." But the ghost stayed quiet. "Dennis!"


The rain lashed all of a sudden, surprising Angel and sending him bumping into the window.


Cordy’s shoulders tensed and she turned, slowly, and stared at him. "God DAMN it," she said. She slammed the sash up. "What are you doing?" Her voice lashed like the rain, a cold slap.


"Nothing." He ducked his head into the dry room. "Well, getting wet. And eavesdropping."


She didn't crack a smile. "What is your damage?" She glared at him, then over her shoulder at Wes. The light threw a shadow that made it look like the raindrops were sliding down her face and chest. She put her hands on the window and made to slam it but Angel stopped its downward motion. "Let go!" Her teeth were clenched, her eyebrows drawn together in a straight line.


"No." He glanced in at Wes. "Could I get a towel?" Wes nodded and left, and Angel heard him rummaging in the bathroom.


"You can't come--" Her teeth gritted.


He slid through the window. "You didn't revoke my invitation," he said, dripping on the carpet.


She narrowed her eyes at him. “Kinda hard to find the time what with being evil, getting out of a coma, and starting my own company.”


Wes handed him a towel and took his wet coat. "I was feeling rather bad about you being out there in the rain." He draped the coat over the top corner of the door, where the wet leather could air out.


"It's okay," he said, toweling his hair dry. "It was actually kind of--"


She looked from one to the other, her face pulled taut with fury. "Did you plan this? Un-fricking-believable." She threw her hands up in the air. "Fine. If you won't leave, then I will."


Angel didn't bother correcting her misconception. Instead he grabbed her arm, stopping her from passing. "No. We need to talk." He led her to the bed and sat her down on the mattress. When she popped up, he put his hand on her shoulder and forced her to sit. "Stay down."


Her face went completely blank. "You told me that before."


He stared at her, searching through his mind for when he would have said such a thing. The memory snuck up on rat's feet. Angelus. And Jasmine. In the basement when she let him out of the cage. "How much do you remember?"


Cordy's shoulder was tense beneath his hand. "Everything."


It was the same feeling he'd had when Connor told him how Holtz taught him to track. That someone he cared about could be subjected to that kind of abuse tore something loose inside him. Something he was afraid he couldn't control.


The three of them waited, frozen in the silence. Angel wrestled the rage down and watched as Cordy tried to restrain her own emotions. The sight of her trembling fingers and heaving chest only made his rage harder to catch.


He touched her. "Cordelia." His voice was thin, trembling.


She jolted like she'd been shocked. "Don't touch me."


Wes simply stood and witnessed, quiet but present. Having him there made Angel feel grounded, sure that what he was about to do was right.


He squatted down in front of Cordelia. "Look at me."


She closed her eyes. "Leave me alone."


Wes put his hand on Angel's shoulder and Angel looked up at him. Wes held his gaze. They'd seen enough infections to know when one needed lancing. Wes sat down next to Cordy, hemming her in between the headboard, the bedside table, and Angel.


She jumped to her feet, but Angel grabbed her arm. Angel saw her tense, felt her blood pressure shoot through the roof. Do it sharp, do it clean, do it fast, he thought. "Tell me."


She jerked her arm. "Get out."


He muscled her back onto the mattress. "Tell me."


She shoved his chest, but he wedged her in with his knees. Wes slid an arm around her waist, anchoring her.


She struggled, frantic. "Stop it." She shoved at Wes's arm, kicked Angel in the knees. Neither of them budged. She opened her mouth to scream and Angel clamped a hand over her and held her still.


"Cordelia," Wes said softly. "We can help you, but you have to let us."


She panted, eyes wild above his hand. Outside the rain peppered the window, turning the room into a cotton-wrapped haven, removed from the world, completely safe.


He wasn't sure what did it, whether it was the silence, or Wes pressing his lips to her temple, or the simple fact that she could see they weren't giving up. But her shoulders slumped and when he took his hand away, she stayed quiet.


"Tell me." He backed up to give her some breathing room, trusting now that she wouldn't bolt.


When her eyes met Angel's they were dark, dirty pools. "I thought I was doing the right thing." Her voice sounded empty, like the space left behind by sand crumbling at high tide. "Giving up love for the mission." Her breath hitched.


Angel didn't let his gaze waver, but her words hit him like a Fyarl demon’s fist. Wes had pulled back to give her space and sat with his arm around her looking at his lap. He'd have made a good priest, Angel thought vaguely. The perfect confessor.


"And then I was just...alone. Bored. Nothing--" She twisted her fingers together. "I kept calling you but you didn't come. I could see everything. You under the sea, Wes and Justine looking for you, night after night, Connor leading Fred and Gunn on a wild goose chase…."


Angel waited for her to continue. When she didn't, he reached out and took her hand. "What happened next?"


She made a sound in the back of her throat, a little click, like she was swallowing tears. "I don't remember. I was" She tapped her forehead. "I couldn't get out. All I could do was watch." She hunched over and wrapped her arm around her waist.


They sat that way for a long time, Cordy curled around herself, Wes staring down at the floor, and Angel stroking his thumb across the back of Cordy's hand. The rain ebbed and flowed, beating the window then receding in a near-silent hiss. The numbers on the clock changed in an endless flow of minutes, life marking off the time between the birth and death of the people he loved.


And then he heard her cry, little half-hidden sobs that seemed to be working their way out from somewhere so deep they were having trouble getting free. Wes pulled her closer and started rocking, side to side, in the same, endless flow as the minutes. A timeless gesture of comfort, of contact, of human warmth.


She curled into him and Wes turned slightly and pulled her into his lap. She buried her face in the crook of his neck.


Angel leaned in, both the demon and the man drawn by her agony . Not sure whether to revel in it or soothe it. He smoothed his hand down her back, and drew himself up on the bed.


She sniffled and pulled away, looking at him. Her face was streaked, wet, her nose red. She wiped it with the back of her hand like a little girl. Wes shifted her on his lap and when she turned her head too look at him, their lips brushed.


Both of them stiffened and then Wes smiled, a gentle, sweet sweep of his lips. And Cordy pressed her mouth to his.


To Angel it looked like a thank you between friends. A warm, human expression of gratitude. But as he watched it turned into something else. Something harsher, needier. She bit his lips and Wes groaned and opened his mouth.


His legs shifted and he raised knees, cupping himself around her, drawing her in tight against him. As Angel watched, Wes tilted her head and devoured her mouth. They pulled back panting, and Cordy stared at him. Then her eyes turned to Angel and she held out her hand.


He drew it to his mouth and laid a kiss on the velvet-smooth back. "Cordy," he said.


She shook her head and he realized that all they needed was the silence.


For the first time since he could remember he could feel his body, the empty space where his heart didn't beat. His skin tingled as he watched Wes run a thousand kisses over Cordy's face. Cordy smiled, a winsome curve, and kissed him back.


The smile faded as she traced his scar with her fingertip and Wes arched back to give her better access.


Angel got hard instantly. Where before he'd been warm, comforted, happy to watch, now he wanted. Wanted his teeth on that throat, his hands on Cordelia's pure, beautiful face.


Almost as if they heard him, Wes and Cordy turned and spread the net of their smiles. Wes slid back, pulling Cordy with him and he lay down diagonally across the bed. She slithered down his body and rested in the crevice under his arm, then she reached back and took Angel's hand and drew him down behind her.


He pressed his body against her, and she pressed back, pushing her bottom against his pelvis, lighting up his circuits. He groaned and she did it again.


Her hand roamed over Wesley's chest, stroking him through his shirt, finding the buttons and slipping them free. Angel had a half a second to wonder if this was what she really wanted before she shimmied up and straddled Wes's hips. He arched into her and she threw her head back and rode him.


Angel put his hand on her shoulder, ran it under her hair to the nape of her neck, and tugged. She leaned down and kissed him for the first time since the ballet. Her mouth was a hell of a lot better than his fantasies, and on her tongue he could taste Wesley, dark and male.


Mobile, hot, soft, her mouth moved against his, and her quick tongue darted out and tasted him. She moved off of Wesley and onto the bed, deepening their kiss. Angel let the sensations wash over him.


She watched him. He wondered if she could see his emotions the way he could see hers. He’d kept them reined in for so long, but his heart had run aground like his father’s boat and there wasn’t anything to do now but get out and *feel*.


Cordy eased back and started unbuttoning Angel’s shirt. Her fingers were nimble, her nails short, and soon she was spreading the fabric wide, shimmying back and exposing him from neck to waist.


Someone groaned, low and deep, and Angel felt the bed shift. Wes had gotten up and was stripping his own shirt off the rest of the way. Cordy turned and slid her hands around Wes’s waist. She drew him down, nipped his lips, his chin and ran her tongue around his jaw to his ear.


Angel felt his pupils dilate; felt desire wash through him, hard, hot and fast. Cordy nibbled Wes’s face and worked his belt open. It had been years, nearly a century, since Angel had shared a bed with two lovers. Spike and Dru. Wes and Cordy. The parallels nearly undid him, so he pushed them away.


Wes’s hands combed through her hair, tenderly pushing it off her face. His lips grazed her eyelids, her temples. This had been years in the making, Angel thought. Nights spent together, fighting, laughing, eating, talking, *loving* and finally hating, and here they were, bringing all of that to this one, incredibly full moment.


Angel pulled her on top of him. He rocked his hips upward and Cordy gasped and drew away from Wes. Her nipples were ocean-washed pebbles, hard and smooth under the blue fabric of her top. He knew what she looked like, tasted like. He’d dreamed it a thousand times after that night at the ballet. He’d seen her, naked, bared to his son, legs spread; smelled her the morning after she’d fucked Groo senseless. She was no virgin, but something about her remained untouched, held back. He wanted to go there now, tonight.


He shifted beneath her again and started rocking in a regular rhythm, building the heat higher. Wes slipped around her, straddling Angel’s legs, and pressed his chest to her back. Angel watched as Wes’s tanned hands spanned her waist, slid under the navy blue tank and disappeared. Cordy arched her back and leaned her head against his shoulder, and her scent, a rosy-green tang, reached out a tendril and wrapped itself around him.


Wes closed his eyes and traced the curves of her belly, and Angel noticed the new, soft wedge between her hipbones, the kind of thing mothers vowed to get rid of, but their lovers adored. Wes slowly slid his hands up, tangling in the cotton, stretching it out, and Angel could see he was lost in the feel of soft fabric and softer skin.


They all gasped when he cupped her breasts. Angel could see his hands moving under the shirt and having his vision blocked by the fabric only made the whole thing more erotic. When Wes moved to strip the shirt off of her, Angel stopped him, shook his head.


There was a flash, a moment of understanding. Cordy opened her eyes and looked down at him, caught in the middle of all that heat. He could see she didn’t care what she had on—she just wanted to be touched, loved. Made real again.


Angel put his hands on Cordy’s hips and pressed her tighter to him. Then he reached around behind her and found the button on Wes’s jeans. Cordy shifted, making room for his hands, and pressed her palms against his chest, going still, listening to the quiet pop of metal buttons sliding free of denim. It was strange working buttons free from this angle, but that only added to the excitement, the newness of it.


Beneath the jeans, Wes was long, hard, his cock swollen. Hot. Angel brushed him with his knuckles and Wes shivered. On his lap, Cordy moaned, almost like she was the one doing the touching; they were so in tune, so aware, it was as if there was nothing separating them.


Angel pushed the waistband of Wes’s jeans aside and found skin. He felt the insides of his arms brush the indention of Cordy’s waist, pure pulse of feminine energy, and it meshed with the hardness that filled his hand as, for the first time, he held Wes’s cock.


Wes cried out, bit his lip. Angel didn’t move his hand, just held it tight around him. Cordy looked up at the ceiling, breathing hard, and Angel could smell her now, raw desire, rawer need. Somehow he knew how empty she felt, how she wanted to be filled.


Wes thrust against his palm, begging for attention. Angel squeezed him again, stroked his hand up and over the hard flesh. He was long, lean, just like the rest of his body, and Angel stroked him once, from root to tip. Then he grabbed Cordy’s hips and slid her off of him.


He sat up, face to face with Wes. Watched him carefully, wondering how far Wes wanted to take this, but before he could answer the question, Wes leaned in and kissed him.


He’d forgotten how different it was to kiss a man. Women were soft, pliable. Wes was hard, determined. He fucked Angel’s mouth with his tongue, biting and licking, making no apologies for being rough.


The bed shifted again and he heard Cordy’s feet hit the floor, dimly heard the rustle of fabric. Then he felt her behind him, fingers in his shirt, stripping it free, the cotton of her tank and the soft mounds of her breasts pressing against his bare skin.


He reached down and found Wes’s cock again. Fisted it, pumped it, then grabbed Cordy’s hand from his chest and wrapped it around Wes. Then he covered her hand, and the two of them started a delicious up-and-down slide over Wes’s baby-fine skin.


He felt a thousand pulses of blood, from Cordy’s throat to Wes’s ankles--he was surrounded by life, by heat.


Flesh magic.


Wes tensed, shivered, and tensed again. Angel stopped, not wanting this to end too soon. He unwrapped his hand, drew Cordy’s free and looked into Wes’s eyes. The blue was electric, like the storm outside, blown up from the sea and lit from within.  Wes’s skin glittered with a fine sheen of sweat and as Angel watched he breathed, long and deep, and his energy seemed to calm.


They sat listening to the dark, Cordy at his back, Wes at his front, Angel in the middle. Maybe that’s how it had always been. Maybe that’s how it always should be.


Then the tension started spiraling again and Cordy reached around Angel and drew Wes’s face to hers. They kissed, loud, smacking, wet, right next to Angel’s ear, and he pulled away, laughing, and wrestled them both to the bed.


Then they were all kissing everything—a hand, a mouth, behind an ear, someone’s eyebrow. It didn’t matter whose hands went where, as long as they were being touched. Wes untied Cordy’s pants and pulled the blue and white sheeting down her legs. She was naked beneath, with a dark patch of fur that Angel remembered only glimpsing as he kissed his way down her belly in the wings of the theater so many nights ago.


Her hands found his pants and she slithered them off his legs, taking his boxers with her. Wes tugged at her tank top, and her breasts, God, they were amazing, spilled free. Angel had to touch them, had to feel her—


Wes slipped off the bed and dropped his pants with a jangle into the growing pile of clothes. Angel wrapped Cordy in his arms and pulled her down, so they were chest to chest. Her breasts, large for her body but the real deal, were like weighted velvet in his palms. He could hear and feel the butterfly rush of her heart as he cupped her, as he thumbed her nipples.


She reached down and showed him what to do, pinching his fingers together hard, and letting go, rolling and rubbing and when he looked up, Wes was in the chair, cock in hand, stroking himself to the same rhythm.


Angel sat her up so she straddled him and took her breasts in his hands. Her body was all exposed rib and collarbone, sharp points, and hunger. But her breasts, full and lush, reminded him of how she used to be. He couldn’t remember ever seeing a body more beautiful than hers.


Couldn’t remember feeling like this, feeling the press of Wes’s gaze on his skin, the stroke of Cordy’s hands as she walked her fingers down his chest. She was naked against him, her cunt like a hungry mouth on his stomach. He could smell her heat, her want, and as he trailed his hands down her waist, bracketed her hips, he tilted the angle so his thumbs met right over her clit.


It was the most intimate touch they’d ever shared and Cordy opened her eyes and watched him, watched his hands, looked up into his eyes, as he stroked her body, as he felt her wet, wet flesh against his skin.


She breathed out through her nose, a sharp release of air, as he shifted her, as he slid her down and pressed the head of his cock into her fur. She shivered and looked at him and he asked with his eyes, can we do this? is this okay?


In the chair, all motion stopped. The air was heavy with anticipation. Angel could feel Wes’s hungry eyes, the hot excitement, hear his accelerated pulse and breath.


Cordy paused, took a breath. He could see the awful memories of the last time she’d made love and knew what it cost her soul just by the look on her face. But Cordy was a survivor, and the only way to survive was to keep going.


She bit her lip, spread her thighs wider, and reached down between them. He let her guide him into her at her own pace. It was intense, excruciating, the wet heat, the dense flesh, the muscles wrapping tighter and tighter as her body grabbed him and took him deep.


Finally their pubic bones met, and she sat, perfectly still, with her eyes closed. He could see the goose bumps rise on her arms and shoulders, feel the tension in her back. A single tear rolled down her face.


He smoothed her hair, picked up the tear and licked his thumb. The salt-water reminded him of home. Of the bay. Of feeling overwhelmed by the waves and the storm, of that single, agonizing moment when he'd wanted only to be home safe in bed.


Was it too much for her? Did she need to stop?


Wes seemed to pick up on her hesitation and he climbed up behind her. His arms slipped around her waist and pressed his face into her neck and made soothing noises, comforting daddy noises that seemed to bring the tears to the surface.


She shook with them, and her face was as wet as Angel’s had been when he stood on the ledge. Wes dropped his hands to her hips and kissed her shoulder and as she cried he moved her body, up and down, up and down, on Angel’s cock.


The shivers started at her knees and ran out the top of her head. She bit her lip and cried and Wes moved her on him and Angel lay perfectly still, reveling in her pleasure and her pain, watching them. Perfect, pure, beautiful.




Mine, he thought, as Wes cupped her breast and rolled her nipple. Mine, he thought as Cordy arched back and started moving on her own. Mine, he thought, as Wes pressed himself against Cordy and rocked with her.


Wes’s face was dark, dusky, furrowed with concentration. Cordy’s was open with pain and sadness. Angel reached behind her and felt for Wes’s cock, pressing it full length into Cordy’s ass, making sure the root pressed the little, puckered hole every time Wes moved. Then he slid his hands around and pressed his fingers to her clit, rubbing, releasing, pinching, watching her face as he added one more little jolt to the overwhelming rush she must have been feeling.


He found their rhythm, worked her body, heard Wes start to moan and Cordy’s sobs become cries of heat, of need. He moved his hips, thrusting hard into her, so hard he felt like he was going to come out her throat.


Wes thrust against her backside and Angel could see from the expression on her face that he had found her sweet spot. Cordy shuddered, like her whole body was coming. Every muscle tremored and on the inside he felt the orgasm build and build until she was so tight it was nearly painful.


Then she popped, like a lightning strike, grabbing Angel’s shoulders and riding him hard. Time dissolved, and all he could see was Wes’s eyes, all he could feel was Cordy, warm, hot and wet, clamping him inside and out.


He wanted to come, wanted to roll her over and fuck her senseless. Then he wanted to spread Wes’s legs and do the same to him. But he held back, grabbed the sheets and hung on, riding out the storm and holding off on his own release.


This had to last.


Cordy slumped to his chest, wet with tears and sweat. He stroked her back and watched Wes, who knelt over his legs, his cock damp and throbbing. They waited while Cordy recovered and rolled off of him to cool herself on the sheets.


Angel nodded toward the chair and Wes slipped off the bed and sat. Angel ran his hand down Cordy’s back, pushed her hair out of her face, and kissed her. She kissed him back, lazy and easy, even though her breath still hitched. Her smile—God, it lit up the room. Her eyes found Wes, sitting in the shadows, and her gaze darkened again.


Angel knew what she wanted; wondered if she’d thought about it before, or if witnessing darkness firsthand had opened doors to her that she hadn’t noticed until now. Instead of feeling self-conscious, he felt empowered by her desire.


Wes watched him with uncertain eyes and Angel could tell he wasn’t sure what was expected of him. Their relationship in the past would have made Wes the one with less power, the one on the bottom. But Angel knew now that it wasn’t true. Power, like sexuality, flowed fluidly here, and all that mattered was the connection.


He knelt in front of Wes, put his hands on his knees, and pushed them open slowly. Cordy hummed in the back of her throat and shifted on the bed. He looked over his shoulder and found her curled down, like a little girl, watching them with a sweet smile.


His hands slid up Wes’s thighs, fingers brushing the hair on his legs like feathers. Wes fell back in the chair, totally open to Angel’s advance, chest and throat and wrists exposed. With one, quick move, Angel could kill him, and he knew Wes knew it.


The need to hurt, to rip, to tear, was nearly overwhelming, and he let it flare and diminish. It was always there, the demon, and he could never change it. The darkness, that’s where he lived. As he leaned down to nuzzle the silver fang marks on the inside of Wes’s arm, he realized that that was where Wes and Cordy lived too. The darkness. With him.


Wes had fed him with his own blood. Cordy's heart made him human. He didn’t need a shanshu when he had them; *they* were his life.


Angel kissed his way to the inside of Wes’s elbow. It was almost feminine, the skin there, so soft, so fine, so tightly stretched. Like the head of a drum made from the best skins.


Angel tapped it with his lips, listening to the tiny thump resonate through Wes’s body. He felt an answering tap against his back, and when he turned to see what it was, there was Cordy’s hand, fingertips outstretched, reaching for him.


He scooted the chair back, dragging Wes toward the bed, so Cordy could lay her hand on them while she watched. Wes smiled at her, a dreamy, drugged smile, and Angel had to kiss him, had to eat that pliant, beautiful mouth.


Hard, aching need. Wes’s teeth, his tongue—demanding and rough—pulled Angel under a wave of desire. He drew back, overwhelmed, eyes on Wes’s swollen lips, feeling like he wanted to explode. All the blood converged in his cock, hot and throbbing, a parody of life in his undead body.


Wes reached between them and took him in his hand but Angel shook his head. Wes pouted. Cordy huffed. Then Angel ducked his head and licked Wes’s cock. He could smell Cordy, a light floral scent over Wes’s earthy, grassy flavor. It was intoxicating, two for the price of one, both his people in one, long lick.


He slipped his mouth over the head of Wes’s cock. It was plump, smooth, and the little slit tasted of salt. It filled his hand as he clenched his fist around it, and Wes moaned in pure, animal pleasure. With his knee he turned the chair at an angle to give Cordy a better view, then slowly, at a pace designed to fuel the fire, slid his mouth down the long shaft.


Cordy moaned as Wes writhed beneath him. Angel worked his hand and his mouth, finding a rhythm. Cordy’s hand on his back was hot, and she plucked at him, begging him to keep going, to show her more.


Angel cupped Wes’s balls with his other hand and sucked him deep in his throat. No need to breathe, no gag reflex. Angel was pretty damn sure Lilah gave the best blow job on the planet…next to his.


It only took a few strong pulls of his mouth, and Wes was shimmering, crying out, spilling over. The hot, hot jets of seed hit the back of Angel’s throat and he sucked them down, swallowing, feeling Wes’s essence fill him, letting him borrow life, for just a moment.


He felt oddly satisfied considering his cock was so hard it ached. He’d gotten them both off, and he wanted to do it again, and again. To give them pleasure to make up for all the pain they’d been through. To remind them all not to go off on their own, that they were stronger together than apart.


Cordy’s hands broke his thoughts. She was reaching for him, pulling him up in the bed, urging him to lie down on the rumpled sheets. Wes got in behind him and cradled Angel in the vee of his legs.


Cordy kissed him, sweeping her tongue in his mouth, humming at the taste. She sniffed him like a dog, going down his throat, picking up his hands and licking his fingers. Wes groaned and Angel felt him nudge his back, not hard again, but certainly not down for the count.


“What do you want?” she asked, her voice a husky rasp.


Angel didn’t have to think. He just pushed her head down.


She smirked at him, and he could almost hear her thinking, “Oral fixation!” But then her mouth was on him, hot and tight, and he stopped thinking.


Wes slid his hands up and down Angel’s body, playing in the hair down low on his belly and tweaking his nipples. Cordy worked his cock with her wet mouth and hot hands.


Angel slid into their beat, thrusting in time to Cordy’s long, slow slurps and Wes’s achingly delicious strokes. Then they surprised him by rolling him over and settling him on his knees, so he knelt on the very edge of the bed, Cordy in front of him and Wes behind him.


She glanced up at Wes and something passed between them. Angel shivered when he saw Wes extend his hand to Cordy. She took his fingers in her mouth and sucked, running her tongue from knuckle to nail. When he drew back, they shone.


Angel felt Wes work his damp hand between them and he stiffened, surprised by what was about to happen. But Wes handled him gently, deftly, as he ran his fingers around the rim of his anus. Then he flattened one hand on Angel’s belly and worked a damp finger into Angel, up to the first knuckle. The exotic pleasure of being invaded made his entire body clench, and he pressed back, looking for more, bigger, harder.


Cordy kissed his chest, drew her hand over his body like a painter splattering color on a canvas. Then she leaned down and took Angel’s cock in her mouth, looping her hand between his legs and feeling for Wes’s fingers.


The feel of her palm on his balls, of her pushing Wes’s finger deeper, of her guiding their rhythm…. Angel nearly lost it. Too much, too much, he thought, as his head started to swirl. Wes eased a second finger in, increasing the pressure. Cordy followed his lead, sucking harder and circling the head of his cock with her tongue.


Then Wes hit his prostate and sparks flew. His fingers, rough and hard, worked him knowingly. And when Cordy bit him, just a nip, on the vein running up the inside of his cock, Angel’s entire body spasmed. He smelled the faint tang of blood, felt her tongue, lips and teeth on him, sucking, sucking.


He reared back, and drove himself down onto Wes’s hand, coming harder than he could remember coming in a hundred years—maybe ever. It didn’t stop—the waves kept cresting and breaking, cresting and breaking until he nearly blacked out.


The pleasure, the pain, the connection, his *family*, he thought dimly, as he slumped in their embrace. Wes’s hand slipped free and Cordy’s mouth pulled away, and they smoothed him down in the bed.


When he could think again, he realized that someone had pulled the blankets up, and now they lay nestled together, Wes, Angel and Cordy. He pulled Cordy to him, palmed her stomach, kissed her hair. Wes snored quietly at his back.


When he woke, it was to see Cordy closing the blinds to block out the first rays of sunlight. She looked bruised, tousled, but relaxed. And that place, the one he wanted to reach…when her eyes met his, he knew he had. He reached out a hand to her and she slid in beside him.


Her smile was radiant, her breath warm, her arms strong. She held him close and kissed him. Between them, his cock grew hard again, and without asking, he rolled her over and slipped inside of her. They made love quietly, and when he came, he buried his face in her hair and cried.


Wes was a warm bump in the bed next to them, and when Angel looked over, he realized that they’d woken him up. He smiled, eyes sleepy and hair on upside down, and Angel put his hand on Wes’s shoulder.


“You’re heavy,” Cordy whined, but she wiped his face dry with her palms and kissed his chin.


Angel laughed and rolled off.


Wes grinned. “Looks like you two got a pretty good start to your day.”


Angel slid his hand down Wes’s chest and toward his belly. “Wanna little piece of that action?”


Wes arched an eyebrow. “I might could be convinced.”


Angel kissed his way down Wesley’s chest and took him in his mouth. Morning hard and refreshed from sleep, Angel knew he could spend a long time working Wes to a fever pitch. But Cordy elbowed him aside.


“My turn,” she said, getting between them. So it was her mouth that found Wes, her teeth that nibbled his balls, her hands that cupped him.


Angel watched, not surprised to feel himself getting hard again. “Get on your knees,” he said to Cordy.


She looked back over her shoulder, eyes glinting. Then she slid off of Wes and knelt so her butt was in the air and her face pressed into Wes’s pelvis.


Angel got on his knees behind her. “This way I can watch you,” he whispered.


They both shivered. Angel found Cordy hot and soaking wet, still dripping from earlier, but obviously turned on again. He played with her a little, slipping the head of his cock up and down her slit, poking her clit, nudging her anus. They’d have to try that sometime, but not now. Now he wanted her cunt, hot, wet and deep. He wanted his thrusts to drive her mouth down onto Wes; he wanted to feel Wes shudder beneath her, feel her twist between them, a conduit carrying all the energy of their heat.


He quit fooling around and banged himself inside her. She yelped and arched forward. He laughed and slapped her ass. Then he shoved her head down. “Suck him off,” he said, letting his voice darken.


She moaned and took Wes in her mouth. Angel watched as she fondled him, drawing his balls up, stroking his shaft, licking him, licking her fingers….


He thrust into her hard, pushing himself in as far as he could go. This angle was so good it was insane, and even after he’d come twice in the last twelve hours, he still felt himself getting tight, his balls drawing up hungrily.


He reached around and found her clit. Wes already had her breasts in his hands, and Angel could hear her making those obscene little noises, the ones that he wondered if anyone else had ever heard. They were so good, so loose and free and hungry, he wanted to fill her up, fill Wes up….


The sound of Cordy’s whimpers got drowned out by the sound of his flesh slapping wetly against hers. He was losing it, losing control, and he felt himself jerk against her sloppily. He watched as Wes arched, toes curling, hands clenching on Cordy’s breasts. His eyes closed and he mumbled something intelligible as he shot off in Cordy’s mouth.


She cried out, swallowed hard, came up panting. Angel drove into her, senseless now, nothing but swirls of color and light. Then someone grabbed his balls and squeezed and Angel came, screaming into her neck, biting down hard.


She arched against him, body going stiff and electric as a live wire. She rippled around him, milking him dry, then she went limp and collapsed beneath him.


They lay in a sloppy, wet, warm pile, and Angel breathed them in. Sex, sweat, tears, skin. He felt surrounded by their love. No longer on the outside looking in. “I love you,” he said.


“You too,” Cordy breathed.


“Mmm,” said Wes.


Somewhere in the room a cell phone rang. He recognized the chirp as the phone Wolfram and Hart had given him when he went to work for them. He tensed, knowing that meant they had an assignment.


The phone on Cordy’s bedside rang, nearly at the same time. She blinked up at him and he saw the same war on her face.


“You gonna get that?” Wes asked sleepily.


They looked at each other while the noise jangled through the apartment. There was a long beat, like a breath held, while choices were made, alliances decided. She arched a brow. He nodded his head.


“No,” they said simultaneously.


Wes snorted, rolled, and pulled them both to him. Before the phones stopped ringing, Angel slept, wrapped between them, finally home.


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