Salvaging the Emptiness

Author: D. L. LePage

Email:  Rehatha@yahoo.com

Rating:  NC-17 for over sexuality – some kink involved.  Warning – well character deaths if you know what to look for.  Think of it as a Where’s Waldo version of killing.  And I assure you, in my opinion, they deserved it.

Disclaimer:  Joss Whedon owns all.

Timeline:  After the ep Salvage, season 4 in Angel and then Dirty Girls, season 7  in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spoilers:  everything up til Angelus losing his soul and Buffy being booted out of her own home

Synopsis:  Angelus does not get his soul back after the LA team’s daring and reckless plan.  And the First Evil is willing to make a deal.

Distribution:  You want, take it.  Let me know.

Feedback:  Please.

Author's Notes: * behind quotations denotes lines taken directly from episodes.  Episodes in questions are Savage, from Angel the Series, season 4, Dirty Girls and Touched, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7.

Kinkathon Assignment: 

Story Details:
Specifics (The few things that you'd like to see in your story, ie, who's the Dom? use of sex toys, etc.): Angelus as dom, sassy Buffy not a willing sub but not non-con, spanking, Angelus never got resouled after AtS season 4, deep down they love each other.

Restrictions: water sports, scat, incest

Challenger: Laure


Faith backed away from the vampire she had just beaten into the ground.  Her fists ached from the ferocity of her blows, but somehow she did not feel as though she’d been winning.  Was this how B had felt fighting this bastard?  Had every victory been hollow, like ashes on her tongue?

He smirked at her from his supine position, his expression not one of defeat but of triumph.  “You’re just like me,” he taunted.

“You’re wrong,” the dark-haired Slayer uttered in a low tone, wanting desperately to believe her words to be true.  He had to be wrong; she couldn’t bear it if the last two years in a cage had been for nothing, couldn’t bear it if she was still the murderer that got off on pain and killing.  “I’m different now,” she told him, told herself.  “I’m not like you.”

He admired the tortured self-doubt he had placed in her eyes and then kicked out, sweeping her feet from beneath her and knocking her to the ground.

Faith grunted at the impact and saw stars as her head crashed against the concrete floor.

Before she could roll to her feet, the master vampire was upon her, twisting her in his arms and pinning her with her back to his chest.

She gasped in instinctual fear as Angelus clenched her hair into his fist and forced her head back, baring her throat to his fangs.

The angelic features of the man, who had only two years ago saved her from self-destruction, morphed into the ridged brow and sharp teeth of his demonic visage.

Faith blinked in fear, the adrenaline in her system kicking the drugs she’d only moments before injected into herself to speed through her nervous system.  She blinked, her vision fading until there was only the sadistic amber glow of soulless eyes staring coldly down at her.

“You will be,” a voice intoned from a distance, but then there was only the evil glow of those gold eyes and Faith understood no more.

Angelus bent his head to rip open the Slayer’s throat.  She wasn’t the Slayer he wanted, was in fact but a pale shadow to the golden warrior he longed to feed from, but he would make her; the ensuing chaos of her transformation would give him the opportunity he hungered for, an opportunity to recapture what he’d so carelessly thrown away.

Before he could sink his teeth into that fiercely pulsing artery, an all too familiar feminine voice spoke.  “I wouldn’t drink from that poisoned well if I were you.”

He snapped his head up to stare at her.

Buffy smiled down at him, the long golden waves of her hair lit up from behind like a halo.  She had matured since last he’d seen her; the rounded contours of youth had melted from her features, losing fresh-faced innocence, but replacing it with something more, something much more attractive.  She was sharp and sleek, powerful with sensuality and inner strength, with just the slightest touch of cruelty in the smoldering green of her hazel eyes.  Her true beauty had finally ripened, the sculpted lines of her temple and cheekbones defined yet delicate.  Deadly, alluring beauty as he had never dared believe she would become.

Angelus tightened his grip on Faith, prepared to use her as a hostage against the golden predator before him.

Buffy smiled and knelt down before the dark-eyed demon.  She held out an empty syringe, allowing Angelus to study it.  “Trust me,” she entreated sweetly.  “Just say no to drugs.”

He inhaled sharply, taking in the scents of aluminum from the pipes and the mortar from the concrete of the construction site.  He could smell Faith, the musk of her sweat, the tang of Wesley’s soap on her skin and the slight bitter-sweet pollution of drugs in her veins.  He could smell the night, Wesley’s blood from beneath the pipes that had collapsed upon him, the dampness of a leak somewhere amidst the rubble, the plastic of tarps, even his own scent, but there was no trace of the sweet vanilla and peaches that was Buffy.  No tingle of another Slayer, besides the one that he held, danced upon his senses.

“You’re not Buffy,” he growled at the blond apparition.

The riveting beauty of Buffy’s face shifted, rounding the cheeks, shortening and darkening the hair, her green-hazel eyes turning to liquid brown, until the features of a woman whose neck he’d snapped years ago stared at him with pouting sorrow.

“I suppose I could wear a more familiar face,” Jenny’s voice conceded.  “But,” Buffy’s riveting beauty morphed back to dominance, as did her throaty purr.  “Where’s the fun in that?  And you’ve always been a big proponent of fun, haven’t you, Angelus?”

“You,” he snarled.  “So you were in charge of the Beast.  Hate to break it to you, but your boy is dead.”

“Pfft,” Buffy dismissed his statement with a negligent wave of her hand.  “Sorry, wrong bad….girl.  He wasn’t my flunkey.  But we don’t need to concern ourselves with that.  You eliminated the Beast’s Master days ago when you slammed an arrow through her stomach and up into her heart during your escape.  She quite obligingly ‘stayed down.’  Ironic.  Apocalypse ended by Angelus, the Scourge of Europe.  Whatever will the demon’s guild think?”

The Master Vampire scowled; bad enough to have returned the sun, but he averted an apocalypse too?

He glanced down at the helpless Slayer in his arms and dumped her to the ground in disgust.  What a waste.  All that blood ruined by that drug.  He’d have smelled it earlier if he hadn’t been so focused on breaking her.

The tall vampire rose to his feet, watching as the First wearing Buffy’s face did the same.

“So, what do you want?”

“The same thing I’ve always wanted,” Buffy purred, coming to stand very close to him.  “I want you.”

“I’m nobody’s flunkey,” he snapped walking through the First’s insubstantial body.

“I’m offering you a deal, Angelus,” Buffy snapped, reappearing before him.

“And just what can you offer me?” he sneered.  “There’s nothing I can’t get for myself.”

The blond Slayer smiled smugly.  “What about the location of your soul?”

Angelus glared at her incredulously.  “I don’t want that thing.  Been there.  Done that.  Twice.  No more.”

“And so long as that soul is in its bottle,” the First enunciated slowly, “you’ll get your wish.  Don’t you want to make sure it stays in that bottle?  Forever?”

He froze.  Never ending freedom from that mawkish, whining soul?  No more being the Powers That Be’s whipping boy.  No more do-good’ing.  Did he want it?  Hell yes.

“What do you want in return for this favor?” he rumbled.

The First smiled smugly and held her hands to her chest even as Buffy’s appearance morphed.

The black clothes disappeared, replaced by a thin crimson silk sheet and the oh-so bare flesh of Buffy’s golden shoulders, arms and one shapely leg.  The sheet was held precariously closed, her lips swollen and her tousled.

“Nothing you’d find too repugnant,” the First drawled knowingly.

Angelus stared at the apparition, remembering a day that wasn’t and a night that was.  Soft whimpers and breathy moans echoed in his memory.  And then he remembered an interrupted dream, a moment broken by Angel’s fear.  He remembered the dream loving that had freed him before he’d ruthlessly pinned dream-Buffy’s wrists to the bed and lunged both deeper into the hot clasp of her body and toward her vulnerable throat.

Angel’s fear had jerked them from the dream, but not before he’d felt dream-Buffy’s thighs tighten around his hips and her womanhood cream around his cock as he’d sunk his fangs into her silken flesh.

“You’re tempted,” Buffy purred, letting the sheet fall a little lower around her shoulders.

“I’m a man,” he returned shortly.  “Is that all you want?  Me to seduce Buffy?  Kill her for you?”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” the First clicked at him.

Once again Buffy’s body changed, rounding, curving, and darkening until she stood before him as she had years before: dressed all in black and with a sword in her hand.  The First held the tip of the insubstantial sword to Angelus’ chest.

“Plans change, Angelus.  Haven’t yours over the years?”

The dark-eyed demon stared into the sweet features of the Buffy that had been his.  Her love, her hatred, her tears, every ounce of Buffy’s passions had been his.

“If you’re talking about Akathla, yeah, my plans have changed.”

She whipped the sword up, the tip before his face.  “Don’t be obtuse.”

“Don’t make threats you can’t back up,” he retorted.

She shifted again, the leggings she wore turning to crimson leather, the black sleeves of her blouse shortening to the straps of a camisole.  She was the Buffy his soul had left behind, the Buffy that had saved him from slow death.

The apparition altered, two fresh puncture wounds opening on her throat, oozing brilliantly hued droplets of blood.

She was the Buffy he had drunk from.  The Buffy he had marked as his.

“I want more,” she said in a husky tone.  She wiped droplets of her blood to her fingers and held them out to him temptingly.  “Don’t you want more?
            “What do you want?” he demanded impatiently.

The First smirked and Buffy’s face shifted to the countenance of a gorgeous vampiress.  “I want a Slayer’s prophetic nightmare to come true, don’t you?”
            He stared at that shifted visage, taking in the predatory beauty of her features. “You want me to turn her?” he breathed.

“Force won’t get it done with this girl,” she intoned calmly.  “To kill this girl – “

“You have to love her,” Angelus finished, remembering the sage words of wisdom he’d passed onto his platinum headed numbskull of a descendent.

The First smiled, baring her fangs.  “This is what I want Angelus.  Love her.  Claim her.  Turn her.  And in exchange, I’ll show you where your soul is and how to keep it in its bottle forever.”

Angelus continued to stare, entranced at the beauty of Buffy’s vampiric visage.  It was a win/win deal for him.

“Do we have a deal?” the First Evil demanded impatiently.

  No soul and all Slayer.  But he was nobody’s flunkey, least of all this entity that had almost got him burnt to ash four years before when it had taunted his moron of a soul.  If it hadn’t been for the Powers, much as he hated to admit it, he’d be long gone, scattered to the winds.

Why had the Powers saved him?  One hundred years go by and they leave his ensouled ass crawling the streets, moaning in despair, but Buffy becomes the Slayer and an envoy of the Powers is dispatched to fetch him, to lure him to her side.  Why?

And just why had the First been so gung-ho to drive Angel off the goody-goody band wagon four years ago?  One hundred years and he wasn’t even a blip on the First’s radar, but suddenly, like the so-called Powers that Be, the First Evil was deeply interested in Angel the souled vampire.  Why?

Together you were powerful.  Alone, you are dead.

Awareness flooded him and as never before, it all came together.  The Powers machinations to bring him and Buffy together as partners, the shockwave on both sides of the good and evil fence when Buffy’s love and acceptance had given him a moment of pure happiness, loosing the moorings of his soul, his return from hell, the First encouraging the loss of his soul or his death, snow falling in a balmy Southern California town, preventing the sun from destroying him, and then the sudden lack of the First’s interest the minute he’d moved to L.A., away from the Hellmouth and away from the Slayer.

Together you were powerful.  Alone you are dead.

The Mohra had turned him human and the Oracles had claimed that Buffy would die sooner for it, as would a great many more.

Maybe this evil did bring you back, but if it did, it's because it needs you. And that means that you can hurt it.

You can hurt it.

            Together you were powerful.  You can hurt it.

Angelus stared at the First Evil, his lips curling into a smirk.  “A Slayer and a souled vampire can defeat you.”

Buffy’s sweet face thinned into a harder more dangerous beauty.  The First crossed her arms arrogantly over her chest.  “You think you know?”

“You don’t deal clean with me, and I’ll take my chances killing my crew before they can soul me back up.”

Buffy’s face curved out to Jenny Calendar’s, her dark eyes reproachful.

“That one doesn’t work on me,” Angelus snapped.  “I’m glad I killed that bitch.  So don’t even think you can manipulate me like you did my loser soul.  I might become your partner, but I’ll never be your boy so you’d best start coming clean on a few things, or you can deal with my temperamental mate all on your own.”

Jenny’s lips curled into a pout and the First transformed back into the powerful Buffy of the present, the one Angelus hadn’t yet seen.  “A vampire with a soul working with the slayer is a danger, true, so long as the right weapons are available, which they’re not.  But a vampire with a soul who’s in love with the Slayer, and a Slayer that returns that love, can destroy me.  My consciousness, my cohesion has taken millions of years to accomplish.  Every act of evil from the first to now has given me existence, shaped me, and will soon give me form.”

“Corporeality,” Angelus breathed.

Buffy nodded arrogantly.  “A vampire with a soul and a Slayer working together can stop me, or rather they can delay me for another few centuries.”

“But a vampire with a soul who’s in love with a Slayer who returns that love can destroy you completely; take you back to formlessness, destroying your self-awareness.”

“Yes.  Without my help, it is probable that the Witch will be able to free your soul from the jar and return it to you, will you or nil you.  And without the distraction of the Beast and its Mistress, your soul may finally turn his eyes back home, where he should have been years ago, if certain parties had wanted to give up their cushy job and surrendered their powers at the appropriate time.”

The dark-eyed vampire nodded.  “Cordelia and the Groosalug.  It was prophesied that he would take her visions from her, releasing her from the burden before it became fatal.”

“But she wanted the power.  And in keeping the power, kept Angel in L.A., where I wanted him.  No Seer, no Beast and no Beast’s Mistress, it would be entirely possible that Angel would be home in time to be of use, unless you’re here to stay.  So long as you’re here, the only vampire with a soul I have to worry about is Spike.”

Angelus snorted in contempt.  So Spike had gotten a soul stuffed into him?  Billy-boy always did follow in his footsteps, an inadequate and pathetic shadow at best.

“She does not love him,” the First continued, “making him useless against me.  Certainly they can win this battle, unlikely as it is, it is possible, but not the war.  They cannot defeat me.  Angel however is another matter.  She and Angel – “

“Are powerful.”

“Yes.  So now you know.  I will give you the means to imprison that accursed soul for all eternity.  You will turn the only Slayer ever to fall in love with a vampire.  The prophecy to defeat me will be negated, and a Slayer’s prophetic dream will be fulfilled.  Do we have a deal?” the First demanded through gritted teeth.

“I get Buffy and the soul – “

  “And I get the Hellmouth, the future Slayers and that one,” she nodded to Faith.

“Deal.”

“Good.  You’ll go to Sunnydale.  I’ve been working on her little friends for months now.  They’ll betray her soon.  And when they do, she’ll be ready for you.”

“The soul first.”  He smiled cruelly.  It sat ill with him to abandon his city to his gung-ho employees and his brat, but once he had turned Buffy, they could take care of all of them.

The First curved Buffy’s lips into a sweet smile.

~

1 week later

Buffy glanced around the room, taking in the sea of faces that of late had become more and more hostile to her, from the potentials to her friends and to Giles.  The travesty of a battle at the winery the other night had increased their distrust in her.

They kept looking to her, to lead them, to have the answers, and to protect them.  They wanted her to keep them jazzed and positive but resented her making speeches to keep them jazzed and positive.  The potentials wanted her to teach them how to fight, include them in the fight, but they didn’t want to face the dangers and resented the fact that death haunted their steps. Giles wanted her to take charge, to make decisions and be independent of him, but criticized her choices when he didn’t agree with them.  Willow and Xander wanted her to be a perfect unfailing hero, but were disappointed when she failed and had to try again.  Dawn wanted her to be her mother but didn’t want Buffy to try and control her.

They wanted and demanded and demanded and wanted, sucking at her strength until she was exhausted from trying to live up to all of their expectations.

She ached for a partner.  Someone she could lean on and share the burden with.  She glanced at her sister slayer, taking in Faith’s all too familiar cocky expression; there was no partner there.  Principal Wood – Robin, he could fight, but his devotion to the memory of his dead mother and his desire for vengeance against the demon who had killed her made him impossible to trust; there was no partner there. 

The closest she had to a partner these days was Spike, a vampire with a soul.  A pale imitation of the one she longed for, but an imitation that backed her in every hard decision, in every painful fight.  A lieutenant to her captain, but still no partner.

In the end, the only one you have is you.

She hoped Whistler was wrong, cause these days, since her death really, she didn’t feel like she was enough anymore.

Buffy cleared her throat.  “Look, I know what you're thinking, but I had a visit at the school today from Caleb.”*

Dawn sat up, concern pulling at her brow.  “Buffy, why didn't you—“*

The golden Slayer waved her sister’s concern away.  “I'm fine,”* she reassured her.  “I mean, it wasn't fun, but I'm fine. I'm better than fine. I—I figured something out. He kept making all this noise about the school.”*

“Is it that seal again?”* Robin asked from the doorway that led to the kitchen.

Willow shifted on the couch next to Kennedy, her new lover, and one of the potentials Buffy knew hated her.  “Do we need to try shutting it again?”*

“No, that's just it,”* Buffy interrupted.  “We've spent all this time worrying about the seal and the Hellmouth. Why isn't Caleb guarding them?”*  She glanced around the room at their bewildered faces.  “Why doesn't he have someone there protecting it? Why is he camped out at the vineyard? The bad guys always go where the power is. So if the seal was so important to Caleb and the First, they would be there right now. They're protecting the vineyard or something at the vineyard. I say it's their power, and I say it's time we go in and take it away from them.”*

Xander stared at her for a moment with his one remaining eye and then shook his head, glancing down at the floor.

Her Watcher, the man who had trained her in just this type of thinking, uncrossed his arms and sighed in irritation.

“Or, in the alternative, how 'bout...we don't?”*  Faith shifted slightly, nearly shoulder to shoulder with Robin and crossed her arms across her chest, her stance stubborn.  “I mean, it's a neat theory, B, but I'm not going back in that place, not without proof, and neither should you and neither should they.”*

“I'm not saying it's gonna be easy,” Buffy glanced around the room.

“I think Faith had the floor,” Robin uttered in a clipped tone.

Buffy stared at his cold expression.  She had lost him as an ally the minute she had prevented him and Giles from killing Spike.  Robin couldn’t see the soul for the demon.  A vampire was a vampire was a vampire: an empty black and white definition that would allow no chance for Spike’s soul to find its way, despite the fact that it hadn’t been there when Spike had murdered Robin’s mother.

Faith shrugged her shoulders.  “Maybe it ends OK the way you wanna play it, but maybe it doesn't. And right now, I don't think I want you playin' the odds.”*

Playing the odds?  What the hell else had she been doing since she’d been called?  What the hell else had she been doing while Faith played on the dark side or sat on her ass in jail while Buffy did the job alone?  Granted a Slayer was supposed to be alone, one girl and all that, but technically speaking, it was Faith’s job now.

“Did you come here to fight?”* Buffy demanded hotly.

“Listen, we're fighters, all of us, but you gotta give me something to fight, something real, not—“*

“Windmills,”* Giles muttered softly in disgust.

Buffy stared imploringly at her Watcher.  Her ex-Watcher.  Why wouldn’t he listen to her?  Why wouldn’t he believe her?  Every time she had followed her instincts she had been right.  She had been right about Dander’s hyena possession.  She had been right about Ted being an obsessive creep – well not about Ted being an obsessive robot creep but she’d been right about Ted being a creep.  She had been right about Der Kinderstod stalking the children’s ward.  She had been right about her demonic college roommate Kathy.  And she had been right about that earthquake signaling another attempt to open the Hellmouth.  Why did he demand she hone her instincts and yet discount those very instincts when he disagreed?

Windmills?  She was tilting at windmills, like some delusional old man, lost in a dream and ignoring reality?

“There is something there,”* she asserted firmly, willing him, willing them all to believe her.

“Maybe,”* Giles conceded. “But we can't be sure of that. This is a hell of a lot to ask.”*

“Too much,”* Robin stated shortly.

Buffy grinned nervously, knowing she was right, and knowing that she was losing them.  “I—I don't understand this. For seven years, I've kept us safe by doing this— exactly this, making the hard decisions. And now, what— suddenly you're all acting like you can't trust me?”*

Giles arched a brow and stared down his patrician nose at her.  “Didn't you say to me today you can't trust us? Maybe there's something there that should be addressed.”*

Hello? She thought indignantly.  Who had poisoned who before?  Who abandoned who?  Who attempted to murder her only physically capable ally behind her back?

“Is that why you sent Spike away,”* she demanded.  It was just like their damned interventions all over again, only this time there was a bigger crowd.  “To ambush me?”*

Giles rolled his eyes and gave out another put upon sigh.  “Oh, come on.”*

“It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve all done it,” Buffy snapped, staring at their hardening expression. “I think you like to call them interventions.”

“That was different –“ Willow defended plaintively.

“You and Spike are so cuddly,” Anya sneered contemptuously.  “You act like he’s the only one you trust at your back.”

Probably because these days he was, she thought angrily.

“You know what? I am sick of your deal with this Spike guy. This isn't about him. This is about you. You're being reckless,”* Rona stated in a hard tone.

Buffy glowed at the café au lait potential that had invaded her home, eaten her food, demanded her protection, and thought nothing of opening her mouth on circumstances she didn’t have the full story on.  “What?”*

“You are!”* Rona snapped.  “I don't even know you, and I can tell! You are so obsessed with beating Caleb, you are willing to jump into any plan without thinking.”*

And she shouldn’t be concerned with beating Caleb before he and the First marshaled their forces and converged on the house to slaughter every potential there like squealing pigs?  Trying and succeeding was fine, but trying and failing and being ready to try again, being willing to try again made her obsessive?

Buffy grit her teeth, annoyed with the judgmental potential.  “That's not what I'm doing.”*

Kennedy stood up and walked arrogantly over to her.  “Well, that's how it feels to us. People are dying.”*

The blond Slayer stared at the sneering brunette.  From the moment she had gotten to town, Watcher raised and trained Kennedy had been certain she knew everything better and she also gave off the impression she was tired of Buffy – and Faith – stalling in their dying part so Kennedy could be Chosen and become the girl with the power.

“They were dying before they even got to Sunnydale,” Buffy returned. “And they’ll keep dying until the First and its boy Caleb are defeated.”

Willow rose from her seat and walked slowly to the brunette potential’s side.  “Kennedy...”*

Kennedy turned on her lover angrily.  “Why are you always standing up for her?”*

“I'm not,”* the red-haired witch replied sadly.

Buffy stared at her best friend, pained by Willow’s betrayal.  “What do you mean, you're not?”*

Willow stared at the blond slayer, her eyes pitying.  “With everything that's happened, I— “* she shrugged helplessly.  “I'm worried about your judgment.”*

“My judgment?” Buffy repeated.  “We lost the fight at the winery.  It happens in battle.  Doesn’t mean it wasn’t right to go there.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t right to face Caleb again.  You think I’m wrong?  Or is this your fear you might lose another lover?”

Willow flinched, her lips tightening in anger.

“Buffy,” Giles snapped coldly.

She turned around to stare at their faces, taking in the dislike she knew they felt, the dislike that radiated from their eyes.  The dislike that walked hand in hand with their envy of her strength.  They only saw the power; they never saw the pain that went hand in hand with it.  “Look,”* she stated, attempting to take back the control she knew was slipping from her fingers.  “I wish this could be a democracy. I really do. Democracies don't win battles.”

Xander looked away, his face tight with resentment.

“It's a hard truth,”* Buffy continued determinedly, “but there has to be a single voice. You need someone to issue orders and be reckless sometimes and not take your feelings into account. You need someone to lead you.”*

Anya tilted her chin proudly and stared at the Slayer with cool contempt.  “And it's automatically you.”*  She snorted.  “You really do think you're better than we are.”*

“No, I—“*

“But we don't know,”* the ex-demoness continued.  “We don't know if you're actually better. I mean, you came into the world with certain advantages, sure. I mean, that's the legacy.”*

“I—“*

“But you didn't earn it. You didn't work for it. You've never had anybody come up to you and say you deserve these things more than anyone else. They were just handed to you. So that doesn't make you better than us. It makes you luckier than us.”*

Buffy stared at the smug blond in disbelief.  “Lucky?  You think I’m lucky?” she demanded.  “You think I feel so lucky to be out there every night, bleeding for you?  Dying for you?”

Anya waved her hand negligently.  “Yes, yes, we all know you died, poor you.  But you got better, so get over it.”

The golden Slayer glared at the ex-demoness, despising the hypocritical creature that had thrice chosen to become a mass-murderer yet still had the audacity to judge her.  She turned her cold stare to her ex-Watcher, who was, surprise-surprise, watching with an air of superiority and then her sister and friends, who gazed at her critically.

“The hell I didn’t earn it,” she retorted, turning around to face her accusers.  “Maybe not in the beginning.  Maybe in the beginning I didn’t deserve the responsibility didn’t deserve the power, but I’ve fought and I’ve sacrificed for seven years.  Eight really, since I was the Slayer for a full year before I came to this pit.  So don’t you ever tell me I didn’t earn my power,” she turned to the ex-demoness, wrinkling her nose in revulsion.  “Don’t ever tell me I didn’t work for it.  I earned it every step of the way.  I worked for it while you all were sleeping safe in your beds,” she glared at her friends and the potentials. “And while you were butchering people,” she turned to Anya, and then glanced quickly at Faith, to let her sister slayer know she included her in that accusation, before she turned back to the snooty blonde.  “I bled for it.  And I’ve sacrificed more than a money-grubbing bitch like you could ever comprehend.”

Xander straightened in his seat and leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees aggressively.  “You didn’t exactly do it alone these last seven years Buff.”

“No,” Buffy conceded. “No I didn’t.  But I wonder if you’d be so entrenched in backing off if it had me that lost the eye and not you.  I notice you don’t hesitate so much on what’s got to be done when I’m the one who gets hurt.”

Giles sucked in an indignant breath.  “Now just a minute young lady –“

“Kill Dawn,” Buffy retorted sharply, uncaring of her sister’s suddenly paling face.  “You remember that Giles?  You didn’t hesitate in telling me that when it was what you thought had to be done.  Kill an innocent to save the world.  Just like I sent Angel to hell.  Why?  Because the world is more important than any one life.  It’s the first lesson a Slayer learns.”

Rona sniffed haughtily.  “And I can’t tell you how glad we are to know you think we’re expendable.”

“Get used it,” Buffy snapped. “As a Slayer, you’re always expendable.  You’re first into battle, and likely first to die.”

“You weren’t first to die,” the potential sneered.

Buffy thought back to her death at the Master’s hands.  The death she had been going to run away from before she accepted the fact that as the Slayer, she lived for the world and not for herself.  “Yes I was,” she said sadly.  “But as Anya says, I got over it.  I got up and got back to work.  That’s what a Slayer is Giles,” she turned to her ex-Watcher, wanting him on her side, wanting them to be a team as they once had, wanting him to believe in her. “You taught me.  Make the hard choices.  Make the sacrifice.  Duty.  You put me in charge here Giles.  I looked to you for answers and you told me you had faith in me.  I guess until it’s tested.  Or until you disagree.”

She turned around again, taking in their hostile faces.  “Look, I'm willing to talk strategy, okay, I'll hear suggestions on how to break this down, but this is the plan. We have to go in. We have to be together on this or we will fail again.”*

Giles smiled chillingly.  “We are clearly demonstrating that we are not together on this!”*

“Which is why you have to fall in line! I'm still in charge here.”

“Why is that, exactly?” Rona demanded.

Buffy glared at her incredulously.  “Because I'm the slayer.”*

The potential smiled saccharinely.  “And isn't Faith a slayer, too?”*

Faith straightened from her slouch, caught off guard by the sudden mention of her name.  “What? Whoa, whoa, whoa. So not what I meant. I'm not in charge chick. I think B here needs to just...chill out for a little bit, take a siesta or something. But I'm not the one you want.”*

“Maybe we need a vote,”* Kennedy said smugly, her eyes bright with the pleasure of seeing Buffy falling from the top of the food chain.  “To see who wants Faith to have a turn in charge.”*

“No,”* Buffy replied.  The last time Faith had been entrusted with Slayer duties, a scientist had taken a knife to his gut and the mayor had nearly Ascended to devour half of the class.  Faith was definitely not in-charge chick.  She was needed-to-be-supervised-chick.

            “No, what?”* Kennedy taunted.

“No,” Buffy repeated.  “You don't get to vote until I've had my chance to pal around, you know, get everybody drunk. See, I didn't get this was a popularity contest. I should have equal time to bake them cookies, braid their hair—“*

“Learn their names?”* Faith jibed.

Buffy glared at her.  Learn their names?  Hear their hopes and dreams and aspirations?  Tell cute little stories about slaying and offer sage advice on getting drunk?  When did she have the time in between working and chores and grocery shopping and slaying and training?  She laughed painfully.  “You're just lovin' this, aren't you?”*

“You have no idea what I'm feeling,”* Faith returned coldly.

Buffy could see the glimmer of the girl that had betrayed them before: cocky, arrogant and eager to usurp her place.  “Come in here, take everything that I have... You did it before. Did you tell them that? Did you tell them how you used to kill people for fun? Hey, you guys think that's nifty?”* she glowered at the potentials, despising them for being so easily swayed by the charismatic brunette.

“Buffy, that's enough!”* Giles snapped.

“I didn't come here to take anything away from you,” Faith returned, “but I'm not gonna be your little lapdog, either. I came here to beat the other guy, to do right, however it works. I don't know if I can lead. But the real question is...can you follow?”

“Not you,” Buffy replied stonily.

Robin glanced from one slayer to the next, his lips curling into a slight satisfied smile.  “So we vote.”*

They would choose her.  Buffy knew it.  People always chose Faith over her. Until the dying started.  “Wait. Guys— “*

She looked around the room desperately for a friendly face, but there was none.  The only allies she’d ever had that she’d never ever doubted were gone.  One had abandoned her years ago to go live in L.A. and the other had been cagily sent on a mission, to leave her alone in this sea of hostility.

“I can't watch you just throw away everything that—“*  She looked imploringly at Xander and then at her sister; Dawn refused to look her in the eyes.  She forced herself to remain straight and proud, to not fold in on herself from the pain of their betrayals.  “I know I'm right about this. I just need a little— I can't stay here and watch her lead you into some disaster.”*

Dawn stood up and walked up to Buffy, staring her sister in the eyes.  “Then you can't stay here. Buffy, I love you, but you were right. We have to be together on this. You can't be a part of it.”*

Buffy blinked in disbelief, her eyes burning and a knot forming in her throat.

“So I need you to leave,” Dawn continued resolutely.  “I'm sorry, but this is my house, too.”

Her house too….Who was real?  Who wasn’t?  Who worked their ass off to pay the bills?  Who didn’t?

“Seven years.”  Buffy looked at each of her friends, holding herself straight.  “Seven years.  We lose one battle, and you side against me.  You choose Faith over me.”  She glared at her ex-Watcher.  “You want to know why I have problems trusting you?  You lie.  You keep things from me.  And you turn on me when you disagree with my decisions.  You don’t discuss them, you don’t tell me your concerns or offer options, you judge and intervene.  Well you want Faith? She’ll lead you alright.  And then let’s compare the death tolls – if there are any of you left.  But don’t expect me to stick around and watch you all die needlessly.”

She turned away from them and walked to the door, grabbing her tan leather jacket off of the hook.  She grasped the door knob and twisted, hesitating for a moment longer.  “Nora, Denae, Kerstin, Annabelle, Eve, Chloe, Lisette, Chao-Ahn, Molly.  I didn’t know them well, if at all, but that was because I was keeping the rest of you alive.”  She walked out the door and shut it behind her.

“Ding dong, the witch is dead.”*

Buffy stiffened, her heightened senses allowing her to hear Rona’s comment despite the shut door between them.

“Shut up,”* she heard Dawn snap, but none of the others, none of her friends said a word.

She walked away, her shoulders bowing in defeat.

~

“She’s everything you promised.”

Caleb paced restlessly, his gaze returning again and again to the gleaming battle axe that the Bringers were slowly unearthing from its stony tomb.

It reminded him of her; sleek, sharp and deadly, it glowed with an inner fire, a well-spring of strength waiting to be tapped.  And like her, the weapon was weighted down by a ton of useless rock.  With patience and persistence he would carve it - and her - free of the oppressive burden, dropping the dead-weight of rock – and flesh – to the wayside, to be forgotten like the garbage it was.

“Yes, isn’t she?  You’re not disappointed?”

The tainted priest turned to face his dark master, his eyes lighting with pleasure when he saw that it was again wearing his favorite of all its faces, though no smile curved his lips.  “I can see the power in her.  Power and strength.  She burns bright, a phoenix living amongst those pathetic little matchsticks.  Her purification will be demanding and sweet, like nothing I’ve ever done before.”

The First smiled, Buffy’s lips twisting into a coy smirk.  “Ashes are exactly what I want her to burn amidst.  Funeral ashes on her cheeks and on her lips, while she burns.”

“It should be soon now,” Caleb commented, turning back to look at the Bringers, as they slowly carved the mystical battle axe from the ancient stone. 

He wanted her.  He ached for her.  He ached to see her broken before him.  He ached to punish her for her Jezebel ways, with her golden hair and her bewitching green eyes.  He needed to break her.  He needed to purge her from his system and then to purify her harlot’s flesh.  He ached to see those beautiful eyes dim with defeat and then finally to glaze with death.  Only in death could her true beauty be purified and revealed.

The First/Slayer turned to her henchman, her eyes narrowing thoughtfully.  “She will be yours.  Soon.”  It shifted, morphing into an older woman with wavy shoulder length hair.  “And soon,” Joyce Summers smiled, “everything will be mine.  I just knew they’d do it my way if I gave them half a chance.”

Caleb curled his lip in displeasure at the older façade.

The First laughed gleefully, and the long slender body of the older woman shrunk, the legs shifting upward until a floating ball covered with multiple eyes hovered before the tainted priest.  “Everything is turning out as I predicted.”

“Halleluiah.”

~

Buffy walked absently, almost blankly from her house, numb from shock.

They had turned on her.

The potentials, Willow, Xander, Giles and even her own sister, they had all turned on her.  They had disregarded her instincts with contempt, calling her reckless - almost delusional in Giles' case with his crack about windmills.  They questioned her judgment after pushing and pushing at her to come up with plans and decisions, volunteering none of their own and they blamed her when things went wrong, despising her for deaths and injuries she couldn't prevent and for a battle they had all lost.

Out.  They'd kicked her out of her own home.  She couldn't quite wrap her mind around it.  After the months she'd spent feeding, sheltering and protecting them they kicked her out of her own home, blaming her for deaths she couldn't prevent.

Her instincts told her that they were running out of time.  Instincts that had saved the others numerous times before and were now labeled as reckless.

The battle at the winery had been a disaster, but they had to go in.  Were they just supposed to wait until their enemies came to them?

Two Slayers, a vampire and a group of reasonably trained potentials had all gone in.  Who was to know how strong Caleb was?  And what research could possibly have told them that?  They could barely find information on the First itself.  How would research tell them that Caleb was more than just a lackey?

How could research tell them what Buffy had only been able to tell when he'd struck her down?  That Caleb was a repository, a channel for all of the First's foulness.  That Caleb held, in part, the essence of true evil, within him, giving him strength and power.

No research could have found that.  But still they blamed her.

Her feet scuffed against old brick and she halted, realizing that her blind wandering had brought her to the mansion on Crawford Street.

Another home she hadn’t been welcome in.  She had asked for a drawer and a mirror and Angel had dumped her in a sewer.  If she had only known how he’d react, she would have stuck with an overnight bag and a compact.

Buffy stared at the imposing architecture of the abandoned mansion, surprised that such a beautiful place remained empty; in the years since Angel had abandoned it, no other vampire had taken up residence.

She hesitated for a moment, her heart clenching painfully at ancient memories: Angelus’ taunts as they battled before Akathla; the light in his eyes as his soul had returned just as she’d been about to strike the death blow to her evil ex; the portal sucking Angel, down into the depths of hell; his return months later, maddened by a hundred years or more of torture; their bitter-sweet reconciliation over the months that followed; laughter as they sparred together in the main room; contentment as they slept innocently together in his great bed; and the forbidden pleasure of his fangs in her throat and his body grinding into hers as he drank her life down, curing him from the poison of Faith’s arrow.

Angel.  Would he too have called her reckless?  Called her egotistical?  Would he have doubted her judgment for going against her friends to give the newly-souled Spike time to prove himself a hero or a villain?

Angel.  She should have defended Angel like this years ago, but she had been afraid, afraid that if she’d gone against the approval of her Watcher and friends that they would have turned on her; looks like she would have been right.

Bitterly she wondered whether or not he would have stayed if he’d realized just how conditional her so-called friends’ acceptance and support was.

She started longingly at the doors.  The mansion was sanctuary, a safe harbor amidst this sea of betrayal and rejection.  But without Angel’s presence to warm it, would this place still be her refuge?  Or would it now only be a pile of dusty rock, the rooms as hollow and empty as her heart had been since he walked away.

The golden Slayer took a step closer to the doors.  She hadn’t been here since Angel had left.  She’d been unable to stomach the idea of being here, in the halls that would be so endlessly empty without his presence, but also so full of his presence that every time she turned around an echo of him would be there, reminding her over and over again of all she’d lost.

She took another step closer to the doors.  She needed him, had needed him for years, but all she had were cold memories, and the pathetic shadow of him that Spike had become.

Buffy sighed.  She was so tired of being strong, so tired of being responsible, and so tired of the blame that came with failure instead support and comfort.  She was so tired of doing it all alone.  A house full of potential slayers, her ex Watcher, a witch, her sister, Spike and Xander and still in every decision she made, she was alone.

She wanted a partner, someone to share the burden with, someone whose burden she could share, but there was only the bitterness of her solitude, and now the silence of her exile.

Buffy pushed open the doors and shut them behind her, stepping into the great room of the mansion for the first time since Angel had drunk from her.  She walked into the room, taking in the couch where she and Angel had often spoken, the floor they had both sparred and fought on and the fireplace Angel had often sat near while he read.

Her brows puckered into a frown; a fire roared in the great fire place.  Why would a fire –

A shadow moved in the corner of her peripheral vision and a tingling of awareness danced along her nerves

She turned toward the movement, her fists coming up.

Angel stepped out of the shadows and moved towards her and Buffy lowered her fists, puzzled by his presence.  Faith and Willow had told her that he was busy in L.A. but that he said hello.

“Ang – “

His fist caught her unprepared, and she crashed to the floor, the world blacking out before she could even comprehend that he had struck her.

~

Buffy sighed in contentment, feeling safe and warm.  Her breathing felt a bit constricted, like the time she’d taken a couple of hits to the ribs and Angel had bound them up for the day to heal.  And her feet hurt; like she’d been wearing a pair of too high heels for to long on a Christmas shopping excursion.

She blinked slowly, reluctant to wake, reluctant to return to the ugliness of her life, but unable to put it off.  She opened her eyes.

Angel lay stretched out next to her, his head resting on his fist as he watched her.

For a moment, it was four years ago.  He was lying as he had been then, she was lying as she had been then and it was as if no time had passed.  It was before betrayals and before lies, before her death and before his desertion.  It was four years ago and love was still beautiful, still blossoming despite the blight of Angelus.  It was four years ago and last night they had settled on his bed for a post-slayage nap.  He still loved her. She still loved him.  He was still with her.  And she was still his girl.

“Angel,” she sighed, shifting slightly beneath the coverlet he’d pulled over her.  She felt lit up inside, glowing beneath his regard.

His sensual lips curved into a tender smile.

Buffy reached out to touch him, tracing her fingertips over his cheek and her thumb over his lower lip.  “I had the most awful nightmare.”

Angelus brushed his knuckle across her forehead, stroking several strands of hair from her eyes.  “You know better than that baby,” he murmured tenderly.

Silence stretched between them, a death knell to sweet nostalgia, and the memories that had danced across her mind, echoes of happiness and love faded, lost in the bitter resounding silence of the now.

Now that she was looking, now that his fist wasn’t flying into her face, she could see it.  She could see the absence of the man, of the soul she loved, just as she could see the presence of the demon that haunted her.  She withdrew her caress.

“Angel – “

“Why don’t you just call me Angelus, lover; gets rid of any confusion.”

“Angelus.”

The dark eyed demon smirked.  “Judging by your surprise, I’m guessing that Willow and Faith didn’t mention that they failed to soul me back up.”

Buffy tightened her jaw stubbornly, refusing to answer.

Angelus grinned.  “Or did they fail to even mention that I’d lost it in the first place?”

The golden Slayer clenched her jaw and began to push out from under the covers.

The master vampire planted his hand firmly on her chest, shoving her back down into the downy softness of the mattress.  “Now, now.  Don’t get all riled up.  We’re lying here, talking.  Just the two of us.  No swords, no stakes, no fangs.  Don’t you even want to know how I lost my soul again, honey?  Don’t you even want to know who I lost it to?”

Buffy flinched and pursed her lips.  She so didn’t want to know who Angel had moved on to.  Didn’t want to know that he had fallen in love with another woman enough to forget or not care about the dangers of his soul.  She took in a shaky breath, amazed that the pain could still ripple so fiercely through her.

“No,” she snarled proudly.  “We’re ex.  It’s none of my business.”  She pushed at the tangled folds of the blanket, unable to wiggle very much beneath the confining fabric.

“Baby, baby, baby.  I am always your business.” He pushed her forcefully back down to the bed, rising above her with his greater leverage to hold her pinned to the feather mattress.  “And you,” he rumbled darkly, “are always my business.”

Realizing that she didn’t have the leverage to fight just now – and just how the hell did he wrap this damn blanket around her so tightly she felt like she’d been mummified? It didn’t look like it was wrapped around her.

“Fine,” she relented with ill-grace.  “Tell me who you lost your soul to.  And just why aren’t you with her, killing her friends?”

Angelus grinned.  “Lost is not quite the right word we’re looking for here, lover.  Lost denotes a certain…accidental tone to the whole thing.  I didn’t lose my soul.  I had it removed on purpose.”

“What?” she gasped in horrified disbelief.

“That’s right baby.  On purpose.”

Rage bubbled through her blood, coloring her vision, until she could all but feel herself breathing steam.  He had left her because of the dangers to his soul, for sunlight and fucking picnics and fucking fucking and he lost his soul on purpose?  Before the cautionary side of her brain could tell her it was a real bad idea, she struck out, slamming her fist into his smirking mouth.

“You son of a bitch,” she hissed, wiggling frantically to get out from beneath the covers.  She sat up, shimmying the blanket off of her and froze in startled shock, staring down at her cleavage.

This wasn’t what she had been wearing when she’d arrived.

There was absolutely no way she would have not remembered wearing a crimson corset with black embroidery that nipped in tight enough around her ribs to make breathing difficult and put her breasts up and out on display.

“You pig,” she growled in outrage.

Laughing gleefully, Angelus took advantage of her astonishment and pounced back onto his prey, pinning her back down to the bed.  “C’mon Buff, just a little conversation.  If we go straight to the foreplay,” he licked his bleeding lip meaningfully, “I’m going to think you don’t want me for anything except sex.”

“I don’t!”

Angelus chuckled, a ripple of sensual laughter that caressed her body knowingly.

Buffy blushed.  “I mean - It is not foreplay,” she snapped angrily.  “It’s called fighting – “

“Quarrelling,” he retorted, bending down to rub his nose to hers and then rearing back to avoid her snapping sharp little teeth.

He pinned her wrists to either side of her head and rolled to pin her hips to the bed with his own.

Buffy struggled against him, less concerned with the safety of her life and blood, than obtaining the opportunity to plant her foot in his balls again.  Stupid…guy…demon.  Jerk.  “Slayer, vampire.  Fighting.  Arch enemies.  This is not a lover’s quarrel.”

He groaned, grinding himself against her hips, his eyes focused avidly on her chest, and the flesh cradled by her corset, quivering and shaking with her struggles.  “Keep wriggling baby,” he groaned, “you feel so good.”

Buffy froze abruptly, realizing that more than pinning her hips down with his own, he was grinding a full-fledged erection into the v of her thighs.  She flushed in awareness, trembling in shock.  Angel – Angelus had never shown any interest in her before. Ever.  Not that type of interest.  He had always maintained that she was a lousy lay, so this sudden…interest was shocking…and gods help her arousing.

And he was leering at her corseted breasts.

“You disgusting animal,” she hissed.

Angelus smirked and inhaled deeply, taking in the delicate perfume or her arousal.  He bent his head down to her breasts, displayed so deliciously for his delectation, and nipped the upper curve of one of the quivering mounds sharply with his blunt human teeth.  “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much,” he murmured with a soft growl.

She inhaled sharply and he watched her breasts heave, entranced with the sight.  “You – “

“Demon,” he rumbled.  “Now don’t you want to know how it happened, Buff?  Don’t you want to know how I lost that pesky soul and ended up here, in bed with my slayer?”

Buffy swallowed.  Of course she wanted to know.  But not while lying in bed with Angel – Angelus.  And certainly not while pinned beneath his very masculine weight.  She wasn’t sure if she could concentrate with his hard thighs pressing against her legs, or his muscular arms levered around her, much less with the defined muscles of his chest - She shook herself abruptly.

“Get off of me,” she ordered him softly.

Angelus studied her expression carefully.  “And you’ll be good?”

“I’ll listen,” she conceded.

Satisfied with that concession, he rolled reluctantly from her and settled once again at her side, slowly, cautiously releasing her wrists.

Buffy rubbed her wrists and stared at him mutinously, but remained in her supine position.  Wait for an opportunity, she told herself.  And for gods’ sake, no more lusting for the demon.  Although, she cast a surreptitious glance over his form, he was looking good, more muscular than before.  And he still smelled so good.  And his voice…she mentally shook herself again.

No bedding good Angel cause it released his soul.

No bedding bad Angel cause…well it was bad.

No bedding Angel. Period.

Her nerves sizzled beneath his hot regard, and she could feel her nipples tightening beneath the stiff fabric of her velvet corset.  Hopefully he couldn’t tell.

No bed            ding…maybe she should lose the bedding word.  No.  Just say no.

“Alright, so talk,” she ordered testily.

Angelus watched her, admiring the delicate flush that tinted her cheeks and her chest.

“I lost my soul, on purpose.  Actually, due to Cordelia’s influence.”

Buffy blanched.  Screw listening.  Listening was over rated.  She started to roll away from him and he quickly pushed her back down.

“Relax lover,” he laughed.  “Not like that.  But it’s good to know you’re still jealous.  And I swear, I was thinking of you during the crucial moments.”

“Do you want me to listen to this or not,” she snarled.  “And I’m not jealous.”

“Right,” he growled, inhaling deeply.  “And I’m not jealous that I can smell my grandchilde’s scent all over you.  But we’ll get to that later.  Now lay there and listen.”

“He is not all over me,” she defended.  “There’s nothing – “

“Now,” he snarled.  “There’s nothing fresh, but I can smell an encroaching male, even if his scent is months old.  Now shut up before I decide to skip this and go straight to other things.”

She subsided, not liking the sound of “other things.”  Vampires and “other things” were rarely good.

“Now, as I was saying, I ditched the soul.  Or rather, the soul intentionally decided to lose himself.” He grinned down at her dismayed expression.  “I know, I know, and after all that work you went through last time to stick that soul back in here.  That’s ingratitude for you.  If it makes you feel any better Buff, it was for purely professional reasons.  The others decided they wanted me to consult, and they figured that getting rid of soul-boy was the best way to get my cooperation.  So a little black magic, a little realistic dreaming, and despite the fact that he was dreaming of Cordelia, baby, I assure you, I was thinking of you the whole time.”

“Angel,” Buffy swallowed the lump in her throat.  “Angel lost his soul because he was dreaming of having sex with Cordelia?”

Angelus brushed her cheek, unable to brush away tears that she refused to let fall.  “It was black magic Buff.  I take it Faith and Willow didn’t give you any details of what happened?”

She flinched slightly, wondering just how many lies she’d been told over the last few months.  This one was a doozie.  Perhaps being exiled from her little group of so-called friends wasn’t such a bad thing.

The dark-eyed vampire studied her pained expression thoughtfully.  “Didn’t tell you I got out.  Didn’t tell you I got away.  Out and out lied through their teeth didn’t they?”

Buffy grit her teeth refusing to respond.

“Friends.  Tsk, tsk.  Can’t live with them, can’t kill them.” He paused and arched his brows in mock surprise.  “Oh wait, you can.  But we’ll shelve that discussion for now.”

The delicate Slayer looked away from the dark-eyed demon, unwilling to let him see and enjoy the pain in her eyes.  There had been so many betrayals over the years, little ones, big ones, and this hurt worse than Willow’s betrayal at the house earlier.  This was Angel.  Angel was inviolate.  Any betrayals to do with his safety and well-being were unforgivable, and not telling Buffy that Angel had lost his soul and that Angelus was on the loose again was a betrayal of the worst sort.

            Aware that his hot gaze was focused intently on her, studying her reactions and enjoying her pain, Buffy tilted her chin proudly, refusing to succumb to her anguish.

“What do you want, Angelus?”

“I was asking that very question of me, when the fang gang had me locked up in a cell, asking me questions.”

Buffy swallowed and shrugged one bare shoulder nonchalantly.  “The new mustang maybe?” she asked flippantly.  “Powerful engine.  It should be a sweet ride.”

Angelus grinned slowly.  “No, there’s something that rides better than a mustang.”

“What?”

“You,” he purred.

You got a lot to learn about men kiddo, but I guess you proved that last night.

“You son of a bitch,” she growled, snapping her fist back into his face, crushing his nose.

Angelus howled and automatically cupped his broken nose, blood gushing into his palm.

Buffy grabbed the edge of the blanket and tossed it over his head and stared in shock at the skirt he’d dressed her in.  It was a calf length skirt, tighter than the one she’d worn the day she’d attempted to get a loan from the bank.  Tight, crimson, and velvet to match the corset, it constricted her legs to make walking difficult, much less fighting.  On her feet were a pair of high heels, with ribbons wrapping around her ankles and going up her calves. 

“Oh, you chauvinistic pig,” she snarled in feminine outrage, rolling to the side of the bed, before she wriggled to her feet.

The heels turned out to be higher than anything she’d ever walked in before, balancing her precariously on her toes; no wonder her arches were killing her.

Angelus ripped the blanket off of his head and rolled off the bed after his prize.  Absently, he gripped his broken nose and set it, before the bruising faded away, already healed.  He licked the blood that had spilled into his hand and walked toward his diminutive lover.  “Conversation’s not over yet Buffy.”

Scowling at him, she bent over to rip the skirt up one leg, to give her the leg room to kick his arrogant ass, but the material did not give to her strength.  Dismayed she tried again; the material held strong.

“Trying to destroy a gift.  That’s hardly ladylike.  I had that made just for you baby.  You like it?”  Angelus sauntered toward her slowly.

Buffy backed away from him, her steps tiny and mincing due to the tightness of her skirt, and the skyscraper height of her six inch heels.  She was going to kill him.  She was absolutely going to kill him.  And when she got Angel back, she was going to slap him for it as well.

There was going to be some serious groveling involved for this…this…male – hormone – outrageous – there was going to be some serious groveling.

She crossed her hands self-consciously over her chest, embarrassingly aware that she couldn’t breathe in the tight corset and that her breasts were heaving above the crimson fabric.  For half a moment, the room started to grey and she swayed dizzily.

“Careful lover, don’t faint on me.”

Buffy shook herself determinedly and watched the tall predator moving toward her, sexual hunger radiating off of him in tangible waves.

What the hell was happening?  Angelus had never been interested in her.  Aside from a couple of brutal kisses – and those had just been about hurting her – he’d never once evinced any interest in her as a woman.  What the hell was with his sudden turn around?

“We’re going to have to discuss manners, Buff.  We were being all agreeable until you spoiled it.”

She backed away from him, out of the bedroom and into the great room.  Maybe he’d forget this whole man/woman thing and get back to the business of vampire/slayer in the room where they’d once tried to kill each other.

Each step she took was hesitant and she wobbled ever so slightly on the narrow heels.  She had never felt so helpless in her life, even when she’d been filled with those awful drugs during her Cruciamentum.

“What is wrong with you?” she hissed.  “You don’t want me.  You didn’t like it, remember?”

Angelus smirked, prowling leisurely in her wake.  “Oh I liked it baby.  I liked it a lot.  I simply said you have a lot to learn about men.  It’s going to be my very great pleasure to teach you.”

She trembled, unwillingly aroused by the sexual hunger in his tone, and shining from his eyes.  He did want her.  He really did.

Her gaze flicked down to the hard bulge hidden by his leather pants and she flushed in embarrassment.  And going by the size of that erection, he wanted her a lot.

Buffy glowered at her demon-stalker.  “You liked it?” she intoned softly.  “You liked it a lot?”  She backed up carefully toward the sitting area, intent on putting the couch between him and her.  She shook with ancient rage, remembering his cold words to her in the apartment the day after she’d given him – Angel, whatever, her virginity.  “You - it was all some pride thing wasn't it?  You were an asshole because you were embarrassed that you had sex with the slayer.  You were ashamed of me.  You gave me an inferiority complex to save your own ego didn't you?"

Angelus followed her leisurely.  “Now baby,” he murmured condescendingly.

Buffy reached to grab up a jade candle holder that had been left to gather dust on the mantel and lobbed the heavy stone at him.  “Don’t you baby me!”

He twisted to the side, narrowly avoiding the heavy missile; the exquisitely carved candle holder hit the floor and shattered into a hundred shards.  He stepped through the rubble, the glass-like stone crunching beneath his boots and twisted again to dodge the urn she threw next; it shattered, ash and glass mixing with shards of jade.

“Buff – “

“Your ego!  You said those horrible things – “

“Buffy.”

Tears shimmered in her eyes and out of ammunition she snatched up a dusty pillow from the couch and lobbed it toward his head.

"Unless you want your next pair of shoes to be ballet boots, lover, we'll drop this particular subject,” he growled.  “I made a mistake in handling you.  I won't make that same mistake again.”

Buffy hesitated before tossing another dusty pillow at him.  Ballet boots?  Would those be like…the nightmarishly painful contraptions he had strapped to her feet right now?  But more like ballerina toe shoes?  Not being a ballerina, it sounded excruciating. And if she couldn’t walk in these, she sure as hell couldn’t walk in those…What the hell was she thinking?  There was no next time.  She snatched up the pillow and lobbed it at his smirking face.

Angelus caught the flying missile before it struck him, though he didn’t escape the slight cloud of dust released by his hand catching it.  He forced himself not to laugh.  This whole chasing thing was ever so much more fun this way.  She couldn’t get away but it didn’t stop her from trying.

“Now, before we play, there are a few rules we should lay down.”

“No,” she shook her head frantically.  “No, no no.  No laying down.  No rules. No teaching!”  She edged toward the doors, wondering if she could manage to travel across a graveyard in these broken-ankle-waiting-to-happen shoes before a Bringer or Caleb got to her. Frying pan or fire.  But the question was, which was the frying pan and which was the fire?

Angelus chuckled, stalking around her to cut off her route of escape.  “You know, Buff, that must have been the problem before.  I kept treating you like the Slayer when I should have just treated you like a woman.”

Buffy backed away before the stalking predator, wondering how the hell she was going to get out of these stupid imprisoning clothes.  No wonder women from his century fainted all the time, they couldn’t breathe.  They couldn’t escape!

The dark eyed demon pulled a small gadget from his pocket and brandished it before her.  Seeing that he had her attention, he pressed one of the buttons on the small remote.  “I should have treated you like my woman.”

The delicate Slayer sucked in a shocked breath as she felt something vibrating in the depths of her feminine sheath.  Nerves, already tantalized to interest by his overt and tempting sensuality, danced to immediate quivering delight with the stimulation of something vibrating in her moist depths.

Buffy rocked precariously on her high heels and pressed her thighs together, unable to ignore the sensations that tingled along her most sensitive of tissues, lighting the smoldering burn of interest in her to an outright burn of hunger.

She glared at her demonic ex-boyfriend in outraged disbelief.  “What the hell did you put in me?”

The tall master vampire chuckled and lifted his right hand to suck his index and middle fingers suggestively.  “My fingers, and a little something extra to delight you.  Your delight is of course my aim.”

“I am going to kill you,” she groaned.

“No need for threats baby.  I swear I’ll make you come…when I’m ready.”

Her moist sheath clenched beneath the dancing delight of whatever he’d put in her.  Buffy groaned softly, unable to completely deny a single instinctive thrust of her hips.

She ached in rising hunger, every precarious and painful step she took away from him shifting the….whatever inside her to tantalize new nerves, until every step was a torture of sensuous delight.

“You’re not going to get away with this,” she growled.

Angelus followed her, circling her lazily, inhaling her fragrance.  “You smell exquisite.  Hungry.  And I assure you Buff, I will get away with this.  This and every other little thing I’m going to do to you.”

“They’ll do the spell – “ she moaned softly, embarrassed to feel her moisture starting to trickle down the inside of her thighs.  Just a little more….She wriggled, shifting the whatever it was inside her, and then cried out in disappointment when they stopped buzzing inside of her.

Angelus chuckled, and pocketed the remote control again.  “They can do that spell all they want to, Buff.  I’ve got my soul.  It’s in a safe place, and it’s going absolutely no where, least of all back inside me ever again.”

Angel….No.

Buffy tilted her head proudly.  “Sure you want to go through with this confrontation, lover?  Last time we faced off in this room, you ended up on your knees with a ticket to hell.”

The dark eyed demon shifted around her and leaned close to her from behind, trailing his fingertips across her collar bone, down her side and over her hip.  He bent tenderly to nibble on the scar on her throat.  “Actually lover, our last confrontation in this room ended up with you on your back with me between your legs.  My fangs in your throat and you were coming so hard I could feel your body shaking while your climax perfumed the air.”

She twisted her shoulder sharply into his chest and shoved him away, gritting her teeth in pain at the extra weight that was briefly forced down onto her tortured feet.

Angelus allowed her to push him away and continued to circle her slowly.  “I should have stayed after that.”

Buffy turned her face away from him, unwilling to let him see the anguish of that desertion.

“You can try to hide your pain from me, Buff.  But I can smell it.”  He caught her chin with his finger and gently turned her to face him.  “And I share it.  I didn’t want to go.  Leaving you was a mistake I shall always regret.”

She closed her eyes and bit back a sob.  He was saying all the things she’d so wanted Angel to say – or at least some of the things.

“You’re not Angel,” she said softly.  “What he and I shared is not what you and I shared.”

“Sorry, lover,” he wrapped his arms around her from behind, pinning her arms to her sides.

Buffy wriggled trying to escape his embrace but stilled when he pressed his lips to the shell of her ear.

“Not the way it works,” he growled softly.  “I shared everything: every moan, every sigh, every kiss, every conversation, and every rescue.  I didn’t have decision making capacity during your choir-boy’s reign, but I assure you, I was there, and you most certainly shared all those moments with me.”

She didn’t reply.

Angelus tightened his embrace and slowly lifted her off of her aching feet, the relief in pressure was instant and she moaned, unable to help herself.  “Every memory you share with him is as much mine as his.  More, because unlike that fool, I treasure what’s mine.”

She shuddered, chills racing along her spine and almost greyed out again as she fought the constricting corset for breath.  “I’m not yours,” she denied.

He dropped her back onto her feet, and despite the fact that it was only a drop of a couple of inches, Buffy cried out softly, and almost collapsed forward.

Angelus steadied her, his hands biting into her flesh.  “I can make you admit that you are lover.”

The golden Slayer looked over her shoulder, to glare at her tormentor scornfully.  “That whole torturing until she loves me thing only works on vampires.  It won’t work with me so you can just forget it.”

“You never know,” he purred confidently.

Buffy sneered.  “You vampires.  With your stupid violins, and your stupid chains, and your stupid shoes.  What is it with you vampires that you think chaining someone up proves your love?”

Angelus stiffened, the playfulness draining from his expression.  “Who else has chained you up Buff?”

She halted her tirade and stared at that stark expression.  Oh crap, she realized.  Vampire Courtship had just graduated from 101 to 102.

“No – nobody.”

“You’re lying to me,” he growled.  “I don’t like it when you lie to me.”

She opened her mouth to retort.

“You give me some pissy line about us being ex and you can lie to me whenever you want and I’ll paddle your sweet little ass until you can’t sit for a week despite Slayer healing,” he snarled.  “Now, who chained you up?”

Buffy swallowed and took a breath to lie, then gasped in shocked delight as the toy he had placed in her pussy danced to life again, vibrating at a higher speed.  She moaned, as her sheath began to ache for more pressure, reminding her that despite the presence of the things he’d put inside of her, she was achingly empty.

Angelus watched her carefully, noting the delicate flush that spread across her skin, admiring the stiffness of her nipples behind the velvet corset, and tempted by the slow rolls of her hips.  He judged her arousal carefully, watching for the right minute, and just when he knew her feminine sheath was about to spasm, he flicked the switch on the toy again, turning it off.

“Now, I’ll ask again, Buff.  Who chained you up?” he demanded pleasantly.

The golden Slayer cried out in frustration, and reached down to touch herself through the skirt, to give herself the orgasm he would deny her.

The dark-eyed vampire stepped forward and caught her hands, preventing her from touching her hungry flesh, though he sincerely doubted she’d be able to give herself what she needed due to the tightness of that skirt; not enough give in the material to press inward to touch where she would need it.

Buffy pulled at her wrists and glared up at the tall demon.  “You left me,” she hissed raggedly.  “It’s none of your business who chains me up.”

Angelus grasped her shoulders and lifted her up a touch higher on her toes.  “Rash choice buttercup,” he growled.  He spun sharply, pushing her against the wall.

The diminutive blond struggled against him, but her lack of balance and proper breath inhibited her strength; the tall vampire yanked her wrists high above her head and one by one snapped them into a pair of titanium manacles.

Buffy gasped, the chains forcing her higher than the height of the six inch heels, putting more weight on her already much abused toes.

The tall vampire admired her helpless form, his lips curling a little as he watched her tighten her hands on the chains to take some of her weight off of her feet.

He fetched a comfortable chair and placed it in front of her; she was stubborn, she was willful, and she was strong, this could take a little time.  He sat down in the chair and watched her, waiting while she tried uselessly to break out of the manacles.

“None of my business,” he murmured softly, watching her breasts quiver, nearly rising out of the confines of the corset bodice as she jerked against her restraints.  “Everything about you is my business, Buff.”

She watched him warily as he retrieved the remote from his pocket again.  Oh god she couldn’t take that thing again.  She could feel her moisture slicking her thighs beneath the tight material of her skirt.  Her nipples rasped against the material of the corset.  Her feet ached but her skin was sensitized to such a heightened degree of awareness that his carnal gaze felt like a caress.

“Who was it?”

Buffy opened her mouth to lie and groaned when he flicked the switch on the toy again.  Pleasure spiked through her nerve endings.

“Give in to me,” he murmured.  “Feel the pleasure I can give you.  I can give it Buff.  I can make you come so hard you’ll think your heart exploded.”

She whimpered, rolling her hips against the vibrating toy, but wanting more.  She needed more.

“You’re tantalized, but empty,” he taunted.  “I can fill you up baby.  With my tongue. With my fingers.  With my cock.  I can make that ache explode like nothing you’ve ever felt before.  Just give in. Admit you’re mine.”

Buffy gripped the chains and arched her body hard, wailing in frustration when he again turned off the buzzing toy.  “No,” she cried out, writhing helplessly against the emptiness in her slick channel.

“Who chained you?”

She glared at him proudly.  “Go to hell.”

Angelus grinned.  He rose from his chair and moved in closer to his prey, a delicate pinioned butterfly.  He stroked his hands up the nipped in curve of her waist, and then over her breasts.

She shivered.

He brushed the fabric down and her breasts sprang free of the constricting cloth, pushed out and displayed before him.  Angelus bent to suck one inviting nipple into his mouth as he pressed himself against her slender body and tripped the remote control again.

Buffy’s heart beat thundered in her ears, and she writhed against the erection he pressed against her.  She tried to spread her thighs wider, to press him where she needed him, but the skirt prevented it.  She arched tighter, struggling to feel the ridge of that masculine flesh pressing against her clit, but the taut fabric of the dress and his leather pants muffled the feel of him, giving her only the most tantalizing of hints.

“We can do this all night, lover.  All day.  Is anyone expecting you back?”

Nope, they weren’t.  He could do this forever and no one was going to come looking for her….She didn’t think she could take being denied forever.

He stopped the remote toys again and Buffy wailed in anguish.  His mouth suckled strongly at her nipple, the sensation pulling deep at the spot that ached in side but didn’t give any relief.  He still ground himself against her, a luscious tease of hard masculine flesh, and dizzying masculine scent, and a tantalizing masculine voice murmuring against her.  It was all so good, but not enough.

“Please,” she breathed.  She braced her hands against the chains and attempted to curl her calf around his.  “Don’t stop.  Don’t stop.”

“Tell me,” he rumbled shifting to the other nipple.  “Tell me the truth and I won’t.”

He would stop.  She knew he would.  If he found out it was Spike he would become so enraged he’d stop and she’d still not get her orgasm.  Perhaps it was better to wait and see if he’d misjudge his timing and she’d get it anyways, without answering.

“Buff?”

“The frat boys,” she moaned, pressing forward to push her nipple deeper into his cool mouth.

Angelus’ face rippled and Buffy cried out as his teeth grazed her flesh n punishment before he shifted back, his hands clasping her hips tightly against his groin.  He clenched her hair and yanked her head back to plunder her soft lips ruthlessly.  “That particular half-truth sounds very bad Buff.  Rethink your strategy.  Cause if I think you let a bunch of college frat boys chain you up and play with you,” he pinched her nipple, “then I’m going to be angry.”

“Please, Angel,” she moaned, tilting her head up for more of his kisses.

He leaned forward and nipped her lower lip hard; she cried out at the punishment, and whimpered as he drew away, leaving her still hungry for more, and with blood oozing from the wound he’d made on her lip.

“Angelus, lover,” he informed her coolly.  “Your precious Angel would never have treated you like this.”  He tweaked her nipples forcefully.  “Although I assure you, he’s fantasized about it.  And he never would have come home to you.  Lover-boy is as constant as the moon.”

Buffy stared up at his angry expression, the salty taste of her blood on her tongue.  “I know who you are,” she sighed, leaning forward to offer her lips.  She tugged at the chains above her head, making them rattle. “How could I forget?  You claim his memories are yours.  And before, you said that you were more Angel than you ever were before.  Angel is your name.  You told me so.”

The dark-eyed demon smirked at her thoughtfully, knowing she was trying to get around him, but also aware that she was using his own arguments to favor her position.  Clever girl.

Her blood trickled down her chin and she refused to lick it up, only watched his dark chocolate eyes, leaning toward him tauntingly.  “Are you going to let it go to waste?”

He stepped close to her again, and licked the trickle of blood before sucking gently on her wounded lip.  The sweet ambrosia of her fell across his tongue, more potent than it had been before.  Strength, power, yes, but sorrow had tainted her blood, and bitterness.  An emotion so long felt it wasn’t just a tang, it was a part of her bouquet.  That would not do.  Buffy should taste of love and passion.

Buffy moaned, unable to believe she was responding so ardently to this demon.  If anything, this dominating torture game he had going was turning her on even more.  Was she sick?  Some sort of a pervert or a whore?

Angelus backed away from her, his thumb caressing her wounded lip before he sank back into his chair, denying his captive the pleasure of his touch.

She sighed.  She hummed with hunger and awareness, a dizzying level of arousal that surpassed the discomfort of her cramped toes and the pinching pain of the manacles digging into her wrists.

Spike and she had been fairly rough with each other, down right abusive during the worst of it, but she had never responded like this.  She had never been so moist with desire that her thighs were slick with it.

She was helpless, strung up and sensually tortured, denied her orgasm, and the pleasure of it was killing her.  Only Angel could do this to her.  Only Angel could tie her into emotional knots, and whip her into a near sexual frenzy.  Only Angel could push at her, pulling from her responses she hadn’t even know she was capable of.  And only Angel could be entrusted with this type of game, trusted not to take it too far.

But this wasn’t Angel.  This wasn’t the man she had given her heart and soul to.  This wasn’t the man who had lovingly courted her with painful truths and soft poetry.  This wasn’t the vampire who had tenderly taken her virginity, introducing her to passion and pleasure.  This wasn’t the man who had walked away from her without a backward glance, leaving her to the dubious pleasures of sunlight and normal boys.  This was Angelus, the distilled darkness of her lover; his hungers, his rage, his jealousy and his ruthless selfishness.

Angelus.  Did she trust him?  Could she trust him in this sensual game?

“What are you thinking Buff?” Angelus rumbled softly.

“Nothing,” she lied softly.

The dark-eyed demon smiled.  He held up the remote so she could see it.

Her lips parted, panting softly in anticipation of his flicking on the toys buried her moist pussy.

Angelus lifted his foot and braced it against one leg, pushing her slowly off balance.

Buffy cried out, the manacles pulling at her wrists, and all of her weight forced on to one foot.  Five delicate toes, imprisoned in a six inch pump at nearly a ninety degree angle from the floor, the toes – and not the ball of her toes – forced to hold her weight. The tiny muscles, unused to such strenuous demands cried out and started to cramp in agony.

“It occurs to me,” Angelus mused, “that perhaps I should be altering what I’m torturing you with.  You seem to enjoy the vibrating balls I’ve placed in your pussy too much.  Perhaps I should be using those as a reward for honest answers instead of as a method of persuading your answers.  You want your reward?  Give me a truth.”

            “Please,” she whimpered, her toes threatening to spasm.

The dark-eyed demon removed his foot and let her swing from the manacles imprisoning her, before she managed to right her upset balance and halt that tremulous swing.

“Why are you here?” he asked softly.

Buffy blinked in confusion.  “You chained me here.”

Angelus chuckled softly at the simplicity of that answer.  “Why are you here at the mansion, Buff?  Why aren’t you at home, protecting that houseful of wannabe’s from the First Evil?  Why are you here, in our home?  Why is no one coming to save you?”

Her breath caught and her heart lurched.  Our home.  She swallowed past the sudden lump in her throat.  “I – “

“Tell me the truth baby, and I’ll turn them on again.  Ten seconds.  If you can come in those seconds, the orgasm is yours without reprisals.”

Her pussy clenched at the promise in that tone.  Come for him.  Come for the Scourge of Europe.  She panted softly, staring at his long fingers on that remote control, fingers that were figuratively buried in her pussy by proxy.  Did she want to come for Angelus?

She had belonged to the world.  A champion for good, sacrificing her wants and desires for the greater good.  She had been daughter, Slayer, friend, protector, and sometimes a girl friend, and once upon a time, she had been a lover.  By coming for Angelus, trussed up like this, a part of her would belong to him.  Did she want that?  To belong to this dark half of Angel?

“They kicked me out,” she heard herself reply.  “They thought I was reckless.  Obsessed.  They wanted Faith to be their leader.  And kicked me out of my own home.”

Angelus’ eyes glittered with hints of saffron, a rage, not directed at her, hardening his jaw.  He flowed up from the chair and stepped closer to her, pressing the button on the toy.

Buffy whimpered as the toy began to vibrate in her hungry depths again.

“You’re so beautiful,” he rumbled.  “Your skin is rich and creamy; I could lick every inch of it, nip every inch of it, from your lips to your toes, and focusing on your hungry pussy.”

The golden slayer groaned and danced on her heels, grinding her hips against the vibrating balls he had inserted into her vagina.

“I’ll suck the cream from your body,” he whispered, moving closer to whisper in her ear.  “And fuck you deep and slow with my fingers, until you grind yourself against me, humping my hand for fulfillment.  And I’ll hold your womanhood in my hand, owning your cunt and your desires.  Your passion will be mine because I’ll fulfill you in every way you need.”

Buffy listened to the intoxicating promises, grinding hungrily as her body climbed the peak to fulfillment again.  Would he stop?  Would he take it from her?  Dimly she was aware ten seconds had passed.  He would take it from her.  Her breath hitched and she churned her hips faster, trying desperately to reach the peak.

“Come,” Angelus ordered her softly, his deep voice vibrating and sending chills along her spine; her hungry pussy obeyed and she shrieked at the ecstasy that shattered through her, tingling over her skin and exploding in her moist sheath in great contracting waves.

She shook and her knees turned to Jell-O, refusing to support her; Angelus curled his arm around her waist and supported her as she trembled weakly from her pleasure.

“That’s my girl, you were so beautiful,” he praised.  “Nothing could ever be as beautiful as your orgasm for me.  See what happens when you tell me the truth?”

Buffy panted and leaned her face against his shoulder, inhaling his intoxicating scent deeply, his sweet words of approval lighting a warm glow in her.  She nuzzled against him, basking in his praise, and delighting in the gentleness of his hands, one supporting her weight and the other stroking gently through her hair.

“Now,” he murmured, easing her back onto her toes.

The delicate blond whimpered at the loss of the security of his arms and reluctantly settled back onto her toes and the less than comfortable support of her high, high heels and the chains that bound her wrists.

“Let’s progress to something a little more difficult shall we?  Something that’s been on my mind for years.  Be honest with me, and you’ll be rewarded.  Lie or deny me an answer and you’ll be punished.”

Rewards.  Punishment.  Was she really letting this demon dominate her?  Buffy watched as Angelus stepped back to sink back into his chair.  Yes she was.

"Riley," he intoned, his voice hard with loathing.  "Tell me about trust and Riley."

Buffy stared at him, taking in his cold expression, his tightened jaw; anger radiated from him, and loathing.

I didn’t like him, Angel had said so long ago.

“Tell me the real reason you left me,” she demanded softly.

Angelus arched a brow and leaned forward in his chair.  “This isn’t a conversation Buffy, this is an interrogation.  I ask the questions.”

She tilted her chin proudly.  “But I have the answers.  Quid pro quo, Angelus.  You give me answers and I’ll give you answers.  Why did you really leave me?”

The dark-eyed demon smiled in reluctant amusement.  A compliant submissive she was not, but as always, it was her strength that attracted him.  “Quid pro quo.  Where did you learn Latin, Buff?”

The golden Slayer flushed slightly.  “Silence of the Lambs.  You answer me and I’ll answer you.”

He rose from his chair and walked toward her, ruthlessly grasping her hair to force her head back into a submissive arch.  “And what makes you think you have the right to bargain for answers here, Buff? Why shouldn’t I force those answers from you?”

The dark-eyed vampire spun her, the manacles digging into her flesh as the chains twined about each other and lifted her completely off of her feet, before she slowed her revolutions and spun slowly back the other way, and her toes again grazed the stone floor.

Buffy glared at him defiantly, “Because maybe you can force me to admit facts, but not truths.”

He inclined his head, a soft smile curling his lips.  “And what’s the difference Buffy?”

“Facts are the flesh of what happened.  Truths are the bones stripped bare.”

Angelus grinned.  “Very insightful, my love.  Most cannot distinguish the difference between fact and truth.  I didn’t leave you.  There’s a truth.  He did.  There’s a fact.  He ran.  There’s a truth.  He backed away in fear, that one day you would grow to despise him, the monster he was, that you would hate him for stealing you from the light, from picnics and babies and weddings.  He feared that loving you would destroy you.  And he feared that loving you would destroy him and free me.  There’s the truth my darling girl, he was scared for his cowardly soul.”

She took it in.  Held the golden truths, sharp with pain and cradled it in her mind, cutting herself on the painful edges.  His fear had been greater than his love.  His fear had been greater than his promise of forever.  And like Angelus, he had broken her heart, though Angelus had not done it in a sewer.  She had wanted her life to be with him.  She had wanted her life to made rich and glorious by his presence and his love.  He hadn’t.  She held the painful truth, cutting herself with its barbed edges and then slowly, carefully packed it away with her sweet memories of Angel, deep in a mental hope chest that no longer held hopes, but only lost dreams.

Angel had been a man, he had not been perfect, she had not expected him to be, The truth was a painful prize, but it had not been a revelation.  Part of her had always known.  Part of her had always been angry with Angel for not having the strength to stay with her and fight for their right to be happy.  Her time was limited to a few meager years, and for fear, he had wasted them.

“Riley,” Angelus demanded softly.

Buffy looked at Angelus, studying the demon that had returned for her.  This demon, this concentrated essence of Angel’s darkest desires and most selfish wants had returned for her.

‘Though lovers be lost, love shall not, and death shall have no dominion.’  It had been a poem in one of the books of poetry Angel had had laying around the mansion so long ago.  She had read it and at the time thought it morbid, but now, somehow it gave her hope.  They had been lost for so long, lost in hell, lost in heaven, lost in the killing field in between, but not her death, and in essence, not Angel’s had stopped them from arriving at this point.  Love was no lost.  Was it?  How could it be when she could see it burning in his eyes?

“I trusted Riley more than you simply because there was nothing he could ever do to hurt me,” she confessed.  “I didn’t love him.  He couldn’t hurt me by betraying me.  I didn’t love him.  He couldn’t hurt me by lying.  I didn’t love him.  It would never hurt me when he left.  I trusted him not to hurt me because I had never given him the power to do so.”

“When he left?” the dark eyed demon asked softly, taking in the painful essence of her words.

“All men leave.  Fucking is what holds a relationship together.  Not shared experiences, not common interests, not a common mission and not love.  Fucking.”

A muscle in his jaw clenched at that, knowing that his soul had taught her that lesson by telling her that she needed someone she could make love to.  “And telling me that it was new, because you could trust him?”

“It was all you’d left me,” she said in a sad tone.  “The power to hurt you.  You took my right to love you, my right to protect you and my right to be protected by you.  You abandoned me to die on the Hellmouth alone.  And you gave comfort to my enemy, even struck me to protect her.  Hurting you was the only thing you left me to know whether or not you still cared.  It was the only way you left me to express my love.”

He sighed.  It was almost a demon’s perspective of love.  That if the right to give pleasure was gone, then the right to give pain remained.  How exquisite that he had taught her that.  How beautiful that she had learned.

Angelus stepped close to the golden creature that had so enchanted him from the moment he’d first seen her, the delicate creature that had be-spelled him with her first knowing kiss.  He stroked his fingers over her cheek, and then a thumb over the already healing wound on her lip.

“My beautiful Buffy,” he murmured.  He lifted the remote control and waited until her gaze was focused on it.  “Sweets for the sweet.”   He flicked the remote and she gasped, almost startled by the sudden exquisite sensation of the vibrating toy.  He pocketed the remote and then cupping her face, bent his head to kiss her senseless.

Buffy moaned softly, parting her lips to accept his dominating kiss, twining her tongue in a dance of mating that mimed the dance their bodies should be doing.

He devoured her, nipped at her, lapping at the roof of her mouth and sucking on her tongue and lips.  It was sweet and overpowering at the same time, and somehow it heightened the effect of the vibrating toy dancing in her hot depths.

She whimpered into his mouth, cooing in helpless delight as he slid his hands over her curves, squeezing and molding her tighter to his tall powerful body.  Every touch, of his lips, of his hands was an endless delight, and the hungry clenching of her feminine sheath made her ache for the feel of his hard length inside of her.

Helplessly she pressed against him, balancing on her high heels, arching as far as her restraints would allow her.  He cupped her breasts, flicking her nipples and then pulling at them, stimulating the stiffened points to aching hunger, but his lips never left hers.

Hungrier and hungrier, she wanted more of him, touching her, molding her against him, and they toy made her ache in empty delight.  Her pussy gushed liquid welcome down her thighs, preparing her for his hard cock, but all he gave her was his tongue, mating with hers.

“You’re so wet,” he murmured into her mouth.

She groaned, nipping at his lips.

“You’re an intoxicating perfume, irresistible. Come for me baby, let me hear it.  Let me see it again.  Come.”

The power of his voice vibrated through her and she pulled on her chains arching herself tight into his supporting hands as she obeyed, unable to resist the eroticism of the situation.

Angelus held her as she shuddered against him, panting breathlessly against his throat.  He knew the corset made it harder for her to breath, made her feel more bound to his pleasure but also harder for her to recover from her exertions.

“Please,” she whimpered, trembling in aftershocks.

He grinned and turned off the vibrating toy.

She sank against him, scented with her completions, and exquisite temptation in her corset, skirt and shoes.

He ached with hunger, wanting nothing more than to strip the skirt from her and plumb her depths with the rock hard stiffness of his cock.  He wanted to fuck in her hard strokes that would leave her quivering and screaming for him.  But he wasn’t a boy to be controlled by his hungers.  He was a man.  And he would have all of her back in his keeping before he made her his again.

Speaking of which.  He gripped her shoulders tightly, shifting away from her and lifted her ruthlessly higher on her toes.  “Care to tell me about fucking Spike now?” he growled, allowing his demonic visage to come free.

“Spike?” she asked in confusion.  How could he ask her that now, when she was still shaking in ecstasy from the orgasm he'd orchestrated for her.  She scowled petulantly.  He was ruining her afterglow.

Besides, how dare he?  How dare he ask her anything of her choices after what had happened during their meeting just after her resurrection.  What choice had he left her?

“How dare you ask me that after what you said to me?” she growled.

Angelus shook her.  “Don’t get smart with me.”

Buffy scowled at him and curled her lips into a condescending sneer.  “Oh I wouldn’t dream of getting smart with you.  It might offend your alpha male sense of security.”

“Truth Buff.  Remember?  Pleasure for truth.  Punishment for lies.”        

“Lies?” she hissed in outrage.  “What about your lies.  I love you,” she mocked.  “I’m here for you.  You lied. I needed you,” she cried in anguish.

Angelus loosened the digging grip on her shoulders fractionally, supporting her weight.

“I needed you.  And I begged you to stay with me.  I begged you.”  Tears, at long last, trickled from her eyes, crawling down her cheeks.  “And you?  You patted me on the head and sent me away, back to hell.” She kicked at him awkwardly to punctuate her helpless rage.  “I wasn’t in hell you fool.  I was in heaven and they dragged me out and back into this hell.  I needed you to help me heal, to show me that this brutal wasteland of blood and death – that this killing field – wasn’t in actuality hell. You were the only thing that made this place worthwhile.  The only one who lessened the pain.  And you sent me away.  Refused me when I begged you.”  Sobs ripped at her, and she cried openly.  “Your love was a lie.  You were back out the door so fast I’m surprised you even bothered to meet me.”

Angelus swallowed, despising his soul.  He had smelled the torment on her, but the fool had ignored his senses and told himself she was better off without him around to ruin her second chance at life.

“Don’t play the jealous lover with me,” Buffy shrieked into his face.  “You turned me away when I needed you most.  He was there.  Every minute, even soulless, he was there, filled with compassion and loving me.  He cared for me.  He loved me.  He held me during the nightmares.  Not you.  Not you!  Him!  You ran away to protect your soul.  He stayed and acted like he had one.  And when eventually it wasn’t enough he went out and got one.  For me!”

He snarled, his body shaking and his fingers tightening painfully on her shoulders.  He roared down at her and sent her spinning in her manacles even as he twisted away, and threw the heavy chair across the room where it shattered against the wall, exploding into kindling.

Buffy gasped as she spun back down to the floor and came nose to nose with the enraged vampire.  She tugged at her imprisoned wrists, but unlike the shackles at the frat house where she and Cordelia had almost been offered as sacrifices, these were not loose.

“I told you,” her dark-eyed demon snarled.  “I told you Buff, I'm not him.  I didn’t leave you and I wasn’t stupid enough to send you away. More importantly, I won’t share you.  Ever.”  He breathed slowly regaining his control.  “You shouldn’t have done it, my love, and especially not with that pathetic little momma’s boy.”

He turned and paced away from her, his rage still ready to slip its leash.  Spike, that pathetic, mealy-mouthed, poetry-spouting imitation of himself.  And soulless!  She’d accepted that platinum haired loser while he was soulless no less.

“When?” he growled, turning to glower at her.  “When did it you first turn your sights on my pathetic progeny?  When he betrayed me to help you during Akathla?”

Buffy’s jaw dropped.  “Are you nuts?” she demanded disbelievingly.  “I never looked at another man other than you.  Souled or soulless, you were the one.  You left.  So long honey, be happy in the sunlight, and didn’t even look back.  I pined for you for months!  Years!  You think I wasn’t thinking about you every minute I was with that pathetic boy masquerading as a man in a soldier’s uniform?  I loved you.  I wanted you.  And when I needed you, you turned me away.  Damn right I accepted consolation from Spike.  He was cool like you, his blood your blood and when I closed my eyes really tight, for a little while, I could almost convince myself it was you!  But it never lasted…and in the end I hated myself ever more. So he went and got a soul for me, to try and make me love him.  He never understood it wouldn’t have mattered, because it was always and only you!”

Angelus sucked in a deep unneeded breath, allowing his demonic visage to melt away back to his human countenance.  There it was.  The truth he wanted.  The truth he needed.  In an almost audile click, things snapped back into place between them.  They were back in each other’s worlds, back in each other’s lives and back in each other’s hearts.  She was again his girl.  And he was again her man.

He stared at her, taking in the depths of anguish that filled her eyes.  There was one last wound to mend between them, one last bridge to traverse, and this one was nothing his pathetic soul had done, this wound was all of his own making.  It had festered in silence between them; Angel had been too weak to lance it and Buffy too unsure of herself to probe it.  That was just as well.  Angelus wanted to clean this wound himself.  He couldn’t return the rosy veil of new love to her eyes, that particular innocence was long gone, but he could give her the truth of love, petals, fragrance, thorns and all.

“I never wanted to be in love,” he confessed, stepping closer to his captive.  He looked deep into her green eyes, the eyes that had held him prisoner since he’d first gazed into them.  “When Darla first made me, the sum and scope of love was fucking.  It was cold lust; selfish taking and my partners were interchangeable.  Even Darla was interchangeable.  Any woman could have taken her place in my bed.”

Buffy stared at him, in shock.  He was going to explain to her.  As Angel should have, Angelus was going to explain to her his rage and obsession following his release at her birthday.

“When I was cursed with a soul, Darla abandoned me, leaving me beneath that thing for a century.  I lived in isolation, trapped, humiliated and hungry - endlessly hungry.  And when I saw you, it was worse.  I thought here was his Beauty to play opposite of his Beast, a tragic love story, filled with self-loathing and martyrdom to torture me.  But you kissed me even after you knew what I was.  And in the ice rink, you kissed my true face.  A Slayer loved me.  Despite knowing my crimes, knowing the blood on my hands, you loved me.  You forgave me, wanted me.  And I wanted you.  I was the Scourge of Europe and I wanted the slayer as my mate.  Even had Darla still lived, I never would have accepted her back, not when there was you.”

“You said – “

“I was released and more than anything I wanted to return to you.  But I knew.  You could accept and forgive a contrite murderer.  But you could never accept an unrepentant killer.  I wanted everything.  Blood, freedom, you.  Definitely you.  But I couldn’t be your lap-dog.  I couldn’t be him.  So I punished you for rejecting me for him.”

Buffy frowned.  “I didn’t reject you – “

Angelus shook his head, “I couldn’t give you the chance to reject me.  Darla was my sire.  In vampire culture that link is unbreakable and unshakeable, but in the space of thirty seconds, she turned on me, betrayed a century and a half of companionship and loyalty and threw me out.  How could I, who had never believed in love, rely on it to accept me when my own sire had rejected me?”

The golden Slayer stared at her, stared deep into the dark chocolate of his eyes, and for the first time, clearly saw the love of a demon staring back at her.  He loved her; not gently, not shallowly and not selflessly, but passionately, selfishly, with an all consuming intensity that would sooner see the world reduced to ash than to ever, ever lose her.

She had loved Angel.  She couldn’t and wouldn’t want to deny it.  Loving him had made her a woman, given her the capacity to love for better and for worse, to take the good with the bad.  She had been a better person and ultimately a better Slayer for knowing him.  He had taught her the truth of her spirit, shown her the depths of her nature as well as the heights of her soul. Angel had taught her and she had struggled to be the Slayer he could admire, struggled to be the girl he would love and although she wouldn’t sacrifice the whole world for him, couldn’t, she had once been willing to lay down her life and sacrifice a town of more than twenty-thousand people to save his one unlife.

Angel’s love had not been as enduring.  It had been genuine.  It had been true and sweet and passionate, but it had not had the strength to stand in adversity and forge forward.

She needed more.

Angelus.  Did she love this demon?  Could she?  Loving Angel had not been easy, but it had been rich, and it had given her the capacity to love Angelus.  And if loving Angel had made of her a better woman and Slayer, would loving her make of Angelus a better man and demon?  He was determined and forthright, unwilling to give up in the face of adversity.  He was strong and self-contained; he would not bow before others opinions and allow them to sway him from his choices.  He was dynamic and vibrant, a charismatic man who was deeply alive despite being a vampire.  And he loved, with a consuming passion that would always put his mate at the forefront of his priorities.  Any woman that stood at his side would be a partner, required to equal him in strength and determination.

Any woman would be lucky to be so loved, and she had so rarely been lucky.

Any woman would have a hard time standing toe-to-toe with him, being strong enough to not be swallowed whole by the strength of him, and since her resurrection, she had not been strong, she had been lost in despair.

He was the partner she had longed for.  He was the determined and strong lover she needed.

Did she love this demon?

How could she not.

Angelus stared at her, frozen in place, aware that some struggle, some epiphany had just taken place within his Slayer.  He had seen it in her eyes and whatever conclusion she had come to, it had decided their fates.  She had decided what she was to him and what he was to her.  He couldn’t torture her until she loved him again.  He could make her scream in pleasure or pain, but nothing he did could make her surrender that which she did not want to give him, that which he so desperately desired.

The tall dark-eyed vampire swallowed and forced himself to the next moment.  Love was supposedly the leap that would not be denied.  Unable to stop himself, he leapt, throwing his pride, his fate and his heart to the wind.

“Are…Are you still my girl?” he asked thickly.

Buffy smiled slowly, a sweet curving of her lips that he had not seen in years, a smile that lit her up and showed her for the heavenly creature he had always know she was.  “Always,” she swore.  

He closed his eyes and savored it.  He had never expected it, had been sure he would never have it, but her heart was his.  Not because he took it.  Not because he tricked it from her.  And not because she was too insane to do otherwise.  Her heart was his because she’d given it to him.  A sacred trust, placed in his keeping.

The golden Slayer shifted, her body suddenly humming back to life; every part of her ached for him, her skin tingling with the desire to feel his hands upon her flesh.  Her lips hungered for his, her throat prickled in longing for his sharp kiss, her breasts ached for the caress of his hands, and her slick core ached for the hard feel of his cock filling her.

Buffy stared at him, taking in the powerful predator that slowly approached her his own hunger burning in his chocolate gaze.  His sleek powerful body was a tempting lure, the powerful m muscles in his chest and arms only hinted at by the black silk he wore, while the powerful muscles of his legs and the contours of his butt were clearly defined by the taut leather of his pants.

She wanted him.  Longed for the feel of his strong hands on her, longed for the barriers of clothes to be removed.  They were forging a bond between them this night, a bond of love and flesh, of healed wounds and tentative passion, and she wanted to seal that bond with their bodies, wanted to reinforce their promises with pleasure and maybe even expedite the cleansing of their wounds by some judiciously applied pain.

Angelus inhaled deeply, the sweet scent of her arousal rolling across his senses like a drug.  He ached for her, his cock engorged to near painful fullness.  He needed her, needed to feel her slick core gripping him with clenching hunger, needed to fuck her hard, reclaiming her from the males that had trespassed in his long absence, and needed desperately to fill her, as if he could fill her with life, swelling her belly with his child, and marking her irrevocably as his mate.  The last was a hold over of his human body’s instincts, but the desire to fill her with his seed was no less acute for the knowledge of where the hunger stemmed from.

He stalked toward her and caught hold of her wrist.  Their eyes met, their mutual hunger sizzling the air.

The dark-eyed demon released one wrist and then the other from the titanium shackles, replacing the imprisoning bracelets with the clasp of his hands.

Buffy stared up at his primal expression, panting as she shook from the desire she felt to be taken by him.

Angelus tugged one of her arms over his shoulder as he bent and swept her up into his arms.

She caught her breath at his romantic – and somewhat caveman-like – gesture and trembled with longing.

He carried her into the bedroom and carefully set her down upon the bed.  Then, the powerful demon knelt at her feet and gently unlaced the ribbon that wound up her calf, holding one of the high heels her foot.

Buffy moaned in exquisite relief as he slid the shoe from her foot, freeing her toes and her tortured arch from the heeled slipper, and part of her couldn’t help but smile at the thought of this variant upon the Cinderella theme.  The shoe was hers and her demon charming had released her poor foot from servitude of its cruel demands.  She groaned again, this time in pained ecstasy as he cupped his palms over her cramping muscles and kneaded the muscles into melting relief.

Angelus watched her quiver beneath his touch and he bent to lay several gentle healing kisses to her abused foot, taking particular care over the reddened flesh of her toes before he moved on to her second foot and paid homage to that appendage as well, kneading away her pain and again kissing her cramped toes.

He tossed the heels to the side and then with a wicked smile rose from his knees to crouch over his lover.  He cupped her face and lifted her into a hungry kiss before he dropped her back to the bed.

Buffy landed with a soft bounce and she smiled in feminine delight as he rolled her swiftly to her stomach and began to quickly and methodically undo the grommet hooks that held the tight skirt closed.  She sighed as the velvet-like material loosened over her calves, her knees and then her thighs before it released at her waist and spread apart like a velvet blanket.

She shifted to turn toward him, but her demon lover abruptly planted a steely hand on the base of her spine and pressed her flat into the soft mattress.

Angelus stared at the feminine perfection of his woman as it was revealed to him, from her calves to her thighs and then to the rounded globes of her butt.  He bent forward to take a gentle bite of one butt cheek and froze as the faint trespassing scent of his grandchilde enveloped him.

Buffy shifted beneath him and he pressed her flat, staring down at the shadows of her womanhood.  Her core was a gated paradise meant for him and him alone, and Spike was a serpent that had tricked his way into her garden and tainted paradise.

The dark-eyed demon rumbled softly, rage consuming him.

While he had been entrapped with his worthless whiney soul, mooning after that narcissistic whore Cordelia, his mate had opened her body to his progeny.  The soldier-boy had been bad enough, but he was just a human, not a real threat because he could never be an equal for his matchless mate.  But Spike.  Spike was a trespasser, an interloper, a usurper.

The scent of his childe’s childe was faint upon Buffy’s flesh, a vague remnant of some long ago altercation, but it was enough to send a bubbling fury of jealous rage though his undead veins.

Buffy was his.  His woman.  His mate.  Her sweet sheath was his.  His haven.  His refuge.  Another had dared to try and take her, and he needed to claim her, to reestablish his rights to her, to her body…and he needed to punish her allowing the trespass.

She had explained it to him.  He knew why she had taken Spike to her bed.  He even knew his soul was partly at fault for driving her away when she had been so desperately in need of comforting, but his needs knew no logic.  They only existed: primal, demanding and powerful.

“Angelus?” Buffy whispered uncertainly.

The dark-eyed demon grasped her arm and carefully pulled her upward to face him, her corseted breasts pressed to his chest.

The golden Slayer flushed, aware that she was naked from the waist down.

“What – “

Angelus cupped her face in his palms, his demonic visage rising to the front as he pressed his ridged brow to her smooth one.

“I can smell him on you,” he rumbled softly, his voice filled with both rage and anguish.

Buffy caught her breath, saddened by his pain and shamed by the cause.  Spike had been a mistake, one she’d made out of desperate need and blind rage.  She had wanted so badly to die during her nightly patrols back then, and had been so afraid that if she did, Willow and the others would force her from the peace of her grave yet again.  And with her anguished despair at being trapped back in the killing fields of Sunnydale, was the horrible suspicion that heaven had allowed black magic to yank her from its protection because she’d been unworthy.  Spike had been a form of self-punishment, a desperate and pathetic grab for comfort, an unrequited longing for Angel’s arms, and a need to feel anything, even disgust to replace the numbing bitterness that consumed her.

Her weakness shamed her still and she despised herself for giving in to her twisted desires.  She had felt no love for the platinum haired demon, only a blind self-hating lust that was fed by his touch.  She wanted to take it back, but she could not reverse time.  She could only live with her mistake.

Angelus tightened his fingers on her shoulders, loosened them and tightened them again, shaking as he clutched to the shaky threads of his self-control.

“I need,” he panted violently, the faint scent again and again filling his nostrils.  He knew logically that it was not that strong, but he couldn’t get the thought of his worthless progeny touching his golden mate out of his mind.  “I need you to give me something, Buff.”

She stared into his nearly glowing saffron gaze, swallowing the lump in her throat.  “What?” she croaked uncertainly.

“I need,” Angelus hesitated and shifted his hands back up to cradle her face.  “I need to punish you.”

Buffy trembled beneath his hands, never shifting her eyes from his anguished expression.

“I need…I need to claim you in pain as well as pleasure.  I need you to be mine in all ways.  I need to claim what he took.  He gave you pain didn’t he?”

She nodded, unable to deny that she had wanted the pain, wanted to be punished for being unworthy of heaven.  She’d wanted the pain because she’d been unworthy of Angel’s care.  She needed the pain to pay for her weakness.

“I need to punish you.  I need to reclaim you and make you mine.  Your love and your pain are mine.  All that you are is mine.  You’re my mate.  Happiness, sorrow, pleasure pain, it’s all mine to give.  Give me,” he hesitated again, panting as he asked something he knew no sane Slayer would ever give a demon.  “Give me your submission.  Complete submission.  For this night.”

Buffy trembled, as she took in the anguished rage that contorted his face.  Could she give this to him?  Allow him to punish her?  And if she did, would it wipe her betrayal away?  Would it erase Spike from her flesh as if he’d never touched her?  If it could, if his punishment could give him cleansing from the trespass, perhaps it could cleanse her as well from her shame.

“Yes,” she whispered.

Angelus closed his eyes in relief and thankfulness, before he opened them again and pressed a bruising and hungry kiss to her trembling lips.  “I will cleanse him from us, erase him from our bed, and when I’m done, he will never have been here, do you understand?”

“Yes,” Buffy murmured.

“And when I’m done punishing you, I will fuck you.  I’ll fill your sweet pussy up with me, with my come, and I will make you scream and thrash and beg until you cannot remember any man but me inside your quivering depths.  Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she sighed.

“I can’t be gentle,” he warned her, stroking her hair back from her temples.  “Do you give me your submission?”

“Yes.”

“You will scream and you will cry for me,” he instructed her.  “And I will not stop.  I will continue until we are clean.  One last time, do you give me your submission?”

“Yes,” she whispered, scared that she was making the stupidest mistake of her life, but unable to deny them both the cleansing they needed.

If he had needed breath, he would have lost it at the magnitude of her gift, the magnitude of her trust in him.  Unable to express his awe in any fashion that would show her how much he treasured her gift, he kissed her lips softly.

Buffy sighed into his sweet caress but didn’t cling to him as he eased away from her.  She shook with uncertainty, wondering just what punishment a demon would require.  She was a Slayer, had always healed quickly, and since her resurrection, had been able to take greater damage, greater pain and still heal from wounds that probably have killed her before.  There was a great deal that he could dish out to her that she would be able to survive, able to endure, but knowing she could survive it physically didn’t allay her fears, it only made them worse.

Angelus contemplated her supine form for a moment, taking in the fine trembling of her sleek body.  What did he need?  How much did he need?

He stripped the soft folds of his silk shirt from his body and tossed the fabric to the side.

Bedding Spike had been a mistake.  A lapse in judgment.  He could sense she felt the same way.  So the punishment had to suit the crime.

Buffy gasped as his hand closed abruptly upon her bicep and hauled her unceremoniously from the bed.  She staggered to the floor, regaining her balance before she landed face first upon the Persian rug that covered the marble floor, but no sooner had she regained her equilibrium, then he spun her again, drawing her forcefully down until she fell over his lap.

She froze in indecision, taking in her new position with no little shock. Her head and shoulders were directed toward the floor, her pelvis supported by his right knee, and her toes still grazing the floor on the other side.  It was an undignified position, the position of a misbehaving child.

No whips? She wondered in surprise.  No floggers, rods or whatever it was that demons used to punish people with.

The golden Slayer panted softly, uncomfortably aware of the tight corset pinching into her skin in this new and awkward position.

A hard hand rested implacably upon the small of her back and she swallowed nervously.  Certainly he wasn’t going to spank her.  Spanking, well it wasn’t for – spanking?

“Spread your legs,” Angelus ordered softly.

“Wha – “

“Now,” he snapped.  “Six inches.”

Hesitantly she did.  She had promised him obedience, promised him that he could do this.

Buffy waited tensely, flinching minutely when he grasped her waist firmly with his left hand, bracing her so she couldn’t squirm away from whatever was about to follow.

When it happened, it wasn’t what she was expecting.  He slid his hand between her thighs from behind and gently stroked the moist folds of her sex.

She groaned softly at the feel of his fingers tracing the lips of her pussy, unable to resist thrusting backward into the carnal caress, deeply longed for after the teasing of the vibrating toys.

The ensuing swat that fell to her right buttock was a stinging shock and she squealed in surprise.

The harsh swat was followed immediately by a gentle caress as Angelus smoothed his hand over the soft skin of her butt.

Buffy bit her lip and cast an uncertain glance over her shoulder at his unyielding expression.  Not that that little swat had hurt her, but why was he caressing her before-hand.

The thought was lost as he again dipped his fingers into the tender flesh of her pussy, stroking his fingers over the inner and outer lips teasingly before dipping his finger partially into the moist well of her womanhood.

She almost stopped breathing, her attention riveted to his caress.  She needed him there, deeper, stretching her, filling her.

The next unexpected swat was harder than the last and she lurched on his lap, unable to stop herself from sending a hand back to defend her stinging posterior.

Angelus caught her hand and twisted the flailing limb until he’d pinned it to the base of her spine, leaving her all the more helpless in his grasp.

“Tsk, tsk, Buff.  You promised to submit.”  Angelus stroked his hand over her upturned butt, cupping each smooth globe before giving each cheek a gentle squeeze.

The golden Slayer panted, all too aware of the soft leather of his pants pressing into her sex from the front, since her weight rode his knee.  The material rubbed against her sex and against her skin, making her tingle and she flushed slightly, embarrassed to be enjoying his caresses while sprawled inelegantly over his lap.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her attention focused once again on his caressing hand.

Angelus gave her to hard swats, altering where the blows landed, from one cheek to the other, and Buffy wiggled on his lap, sucking in a shocked breath as she realized that the position he’d placed her in meant writhing ground her swelling clit against his knee.

“Are you going to be good?” he rumbled, plunging his fingers abruptly into her moist channel.

Buffy cried out in shock, arching in pleasure before she subsided across his lap.  She could feel his long fingers slowly pumping between her spread thighs, on the inward plunge; they bumped the two vibrating balls that lay for the moment silent in her moist depths.

“I…I.”

He withdrew his fingers abruptly and landed several more blows to her bottom, landing them alternately on her butt cheeks, on her hips and on the under curve of her bottom where her butt met her thighs.

“Are you?”

She bit her lip uncertainly, shocked to find herself enjoying riding his knee as he alternately smacked her behind and plunged his fingers into her depths, teasing the slicks walls of her vagina, and shifting the taunting toys inside of her.

Angelus pinched her slightly reddened cheek and she cried out in shock.  “Are you?” he demanded.

“Yes,” she gasped, embarrassed at her compliance, but realizing that it was this submissiveness that he wanted from her for the moment.

“Yes what?” he growled softly.

“Yes, I’ll be good.”

He shifted and she felt him grab something and had an awful suspicion of what it was.  “You’re my good Buffy.”

She whimpered softly, knowing what was coming and couldn’t prevent herself from crying out as he flicked the switch on the remote, sending the toys inside of her slick sheath to vibrating again.

“Oh,” she cried out, her eyes widening as the toys began to dance inside of her, teasing her until new moisture began to gush from her hungry channel.  She pressed her face to the back of his calf and couldn’t stop herself from writhing against his supporting knee, grinding her clit against him in hunger.

He landed two more stinging spanks to her tender bottom, the blows landing harder than the others, but she didn’t care so long as he followed the punishment by the reward of pumping his fingers into her hungrily clenching pussy.

“You’re mine,” he snarled 

The blows rained upon her bottom, stinging, painful, but they were nothing compared to the painful emptiness of her throbbing pussy.  The carnal caresses that follow, electrified her senses and made her writhe helplessly on his lap, willing to take however much punishment he wanted to dish out, so long as he would plunge his fingers back into her channel, so long as he left the toys buzzing inside of her.

She clutched his leg with her free hand, moaning and whimpering beneath his alternately violent and tender assault.  Wanting more, needing more of him.  She tried to spread her thighs wider, to encourage deeper penetration by his talented fingers, but that action had only succeeded in gaining her an even harder swat to her posterior.

Angelus groaned at the drugging scent of her desire, the gushing moisture that slicked her thighs and spilled onto his leather pants as she ground herself against his knee.

“Are you going to be good?” he snarled, raining several blows hard across her hip and butt cheeks.

“Yes,” she moaned.  “Yes, yes.  I swear.”

He left the toys to buzz merrily away inside her.  He teased her feminine sheath, tugging slightly on the string the led to the balls, shifting where they hit inside of her, then plunging his fingers back into her grasping channel, to further tease her.

“Are you ever going to stick another sword in my chest again?” he shoved his long fingers deep inside her and she arched hard, almost bowing off of his lap from the deep sharp pleasure that speared through her.

“No,” she cried.  “No, no. Never.”

He slapped her cherry-red bottom fiercely.  “Whose woman are you?”

“Yours,” she babbled, writhing on his knee, trying to escape the fierce pain of her butt but only succeeding in inflaming herself by the stimulation of her clit.

Angelus plunged several fingers into her core and Buffy shrieked in shocked pleasure, digging her nails into his leg.  “Whose cunt is this?” he hissed.

“Yours,” she groaned, bearing down on his possessing fingers.  “Yours, yours.  Only yours.”

The dark-eyed demon stopped and grasped her hair, hauling her off of his lap to face him, her eyes glazed with need, her body trembling with feverish hunger.  “Are you ever going to allow another man to touch you again?” he rumbled.

“Never,” she breathed.

His lips twitched and he shifted his grip to cup her shoulders.  “Are you my girl?”

“Always,” Buffy promised.

Angelus tightened his grip on her shoulders and rose from his seated position to tower over his diminutive lover.  “Now,” he demanded in a rough growl.  “Tell me what you want, lover.”

“Fuck me,” she moaned.  “Fuck me.  Fill me.  Love me.”

He snarled and threw her back onto the bed.

Buffy landed with a small bounce and had no time to bemoan the loss of him pressed up against her since he was immediately crouched over her like the predator he was.

Angelus reached between her thighs and eased the buzzing toys out of her slick sheath, delighting in her screams of hunger.  He tossed the toys to the side and opened his pants, freeing his cock at long last from the prison of the confining leather.  Waiting as long as he had had been a sensuous torture like nothing he’d ever experienced, but now he’d pay for that long denial.

He fell upon her hungrily, claiming her soft lips in a ferocious kiss before sliding into her welcoming pussy with one hard thrust of his cock.

Buffy wailed, clawing at his back in welcome, screeching and writhing against ever roll and lunge of his hips.

He fucked her in powerful lunges that made her still imprisoned breasts jiggle in the corset and irritated at the material he shredded it, freeing her from the confining contraption.

She the golden Slayer wrapped her legs around her hips and shuddered ecstatically, quivering in delight as every hard thrust of his powerful body had her coming in explosive waves.  She wailed and screamed, biting at his shoulders and clawing at his back, begging for mercy but wanting none.  She only wanted him.  Always and forever, she anted him just like this.

 Angelus claimed her, a deep primal mating that made her scream for his possession and writhe against him.

The pleasure that came from the long awaited reunion with his slayer like nothing he’d ever known.  Over powering, drugging, he continued thrusting against her until the ecstasy was too powerful to not completely surrender to and he sank deep inside her, shuddering in release even as he sank his fangs deep into her throat.

Buffy laced her fingers through his hair, shuddering and whimpering in pleasure, until unable to resist the temptation; she bit into him, returning the exquisite pleasure of his bite.

Angelus rumbled softly, feeding from her, and feeling her drinking from him, both of them lost in a haze of bliss.

This was it.  He would turn her.  She was truly going to be his girl forever.

~

Spike stepped hesitantly into the mansion.  This was Angel’s lair, Angelus’ lair and it didn’t matter how long it had been since the ponce had been here, it would always be his lair.

Figured the bird would come here.  This place was the last place she’d been safe, last place she’d been loved.

Bloody Powers the Be.  You’d think they’d offer some pittance of sympathy to their Slayer and their Champion, at the very least anchoring the ponce’s soul so they could find some happiness in the endless war against evil, but no.  Suffering was the word of the ages.  Think the bastards were demons with the spiteful set up they’d given Buffy and Angel.  Hypocritical fucks.

And her friends, well they were twice as bad.  At least the Powers never claimed to love their champions, they simply used them.  Her friends…backstabbing bastards.  And Willow claiming it had been Buffy’s idea to leave no less.  You’d at least think the worthless buggers would have the strength of their convictions. 

Spike paused and hesitated as he entered the great room, freezing in sudden shock.

The fragrance of Buffy’s arousal hung sweetly in the air, but in addition to that perfume was a scent he’d not expected.

The platinum-haired vampire spun on his boot, inhaling deeply and flinching at what his sensitive nose told him.

Angel was here.

Bloody hell.  It was bad enough knowing that Buffy didn’t love him, had never loved him, but he didn’t need his Nancy-boy of a grandsire showing up to rub it in.

Spike stepped forward, following his nose.  He frowned at the jade rubble and glass shards that littered the floor but continued back through the house, back to Angel’s bedroom.

He found the lovers entwined there, sleeping the sleep of the obviously sexually exhausted.

The platinum-haired vampire lifted his lip in a silent snarl, unable to control the raging jealousy that ripped threw him as he saw Buffy pressed so sweetly, trustingly to Angel’s side.

Bloody hell.  He blinked in belated realization.  Angelus.

Spike took a step forward into the room and froze again when he saw that the dark-eyed master vampire was awake and staring at him.

Angel’s hand lifted to stroke through Buffy’s passion-tumbled hair in a gentle caress and Spike could see the healing mark at her throat where his sire’s sire had drunk from the golden Slayer.

Power radiated off the git.  Power and hatred like nothing Spike had ever experienced before in their association and he took a cowardly step backward.

Bloody hell.  That wasn’t Angel in there, staring mortal hatred back at him.  It was Angelus.  And the rage that flared in the master vampire’s gaze was quite clear; Spike could expect the tortures of hell and forget ever obtaining the release of death if he so much as stepped a toe further into that room.

Buffy sighed and nuzzled closer against the demon, and Angelus pressed a gentle kiss to her brow before resuming is standoff with the younger vampire.

The clash of wills lasted for several minutes, intense despite their motionlessness and after a moment, Spike looked down.  He did not have what it took to face Angelus.  Not over Buffy.  Angelus would rip him to shreds and make him wish for the release of the sun, and judging from Buffy’s expression, whether she knew who held her or not, she was quite content to remain where she was.

The scent of sex was heavy in the air, as was the scent of satisfaction.

Spike bowed his head to his sire’s sire, accepting his dominance, before he turned and walked away.

Bitterly he cursed himself for his cowardice, but after a moment he couldn’t lie to himself.  He couldn’t win a girl that didn’t want to be won.  Regardless of what happened between them last year, Buffy was precisely where she wanted to be.

It was over.

“That bitch.”

Spike glanced up and stared into the First’s fake Buffy-eyes.

He walked further away from the bedroom, unwilling to chance disturbing the vampire and his mate before he turned to confront the First Evil.

“That your doing?” he asked, nodding in the general direction of the bedroom.

“Hardly.  I just gave a little nudge, a reminder if you will.  Everything else, the Slayer’s little friends turning on her, Angelus’ continued obsession with her and hers with him, that’s all free will.”

Spike nodded grimly.

The false Buffy smiled sweetly.  “They can win without me you know.  And now,” her face morphed into that of a vampire’s fearsome visage.  “Now they’ll never get me back.”

The platinum-haired vampire flinched, accepting the truth.  There was no way Angelus would pass up the chance to turn her, not if he’d come back to claim her after all these years of separation.

The First cocked her head to the side.  “So, what are you going to do now?”

Spike thought about the lost Slayer and then thought about the so-called friends that had dragged her from her grave and then a year later booted her out of her own home.  He knew part of their disagreements were over him.  Disagreements based on their contempt that she had give him a chance.  Yeah they were all right and happy with a bloke when he was useful to them, but step outside their little box of acceptable behavior – even if it was before you got a soul, and a second chance was never given.

Did he care what became of Willow and Giles and the others?  Did he give one rat’s ass about their fight for so called good?  Especially in light of good’s continued lack of caring for its champions.  Did he want to help those backstabbing bastards?

Fuck it.  Fuck it all.  Let the Slayer – now vampire be happy with her demon.  Let the demon be happy with his slayer.  They could all meet again in a couple of centuries, after he’d had time to forget and Angelus had time to cool off.  Maybe then they could be a family.  Like it had once been with Darla and Dru and Angelus…only better.

“Bon appetit,” he snarled at the First and stalked away.

The scoobies had made their bed.  Let them lie in it.

~

Angelus stared at his still living mate.

It was impossible, he thought with bemusement.  Well, improbably.  Extremely unlikely.  He had drained her last night, and she had drunk from his last night, both actions in sufficient quantities to ensure a healthy transformation from human to vampire, and despite all that, Buffy sat in the middle of their bed, combing her shower-wet hair, still breathing, still warm and still alive.

If he wasn’t such a secure man – and a secure demon – he’d be having impotency issues right about now.  He’d drained her!  Given her blood to turn her.

He pursed his lips and listened to the steady thrum of her strong heart.

Human.  Amazing.  He shook his head in bemusement.  Simply amazing.  Buffy never did follow the rules, but still who ever could have expected that she’d be able to ignore transformation.

Buffy glanced over at her vampire lover and grinned.  “Are you going to brood all day?”

“I’m not brooding,” he retorted.  “I’m thinking.”

She grinned and tucked her hair up into a pony tail.  No blow-dryer, no mirror and no moose or hair spray, guess this could be called roughing it, but it was still all of the good to be exactly where she was at.

“Oh come on,” she cajoled.  “It’s not so bad.  So I’m still human, big deal.  I’m sure it happens to plenty of vampires.”

He glared at her.

The golden Slayer cocked her head as she studied his brooding expression.  She knew Angel-broody-face when she saw it, even if Angelus was the one wearing the expression.

To tell the truth, she wasn’t all that surprised he’d failed to turn her.  She’d felt very different since she’d been resurrected.  Much more powerful physically, but also, as if some instinctive part of her had already known, much more trapped upon earth.  Some part of her had known that she would never again as easily escape her duty as a Slayer.  Not that throwing herself into a portal had been easy, but still, it would take a lot more than a bullet or a Turok-han or even the First’s bully-boy Caleb to kill her again.  And it was a foregone conclusion since she could no longer really die, that Angelus would be unable to turn her.  She wondered briefly if her increased healing made it so her tissues no longer degenerated, in effect making her ageless herself.

“Come on, lover.  Don’t worry about it.  We can try again later,” she comforted him, knowing that he was bitterly disappointed that he hadn’t been able to turn her.

Angelus sprawled into a chair and said nothing.

Buffy crawled across the bed and then over to him, kneeling between his thighs.  “Just think of how much better it is this way,” she comforted him, nibbling on his lips.  “My heart will always beat, I’ll always be warm, and you’ll still be able to drink from me.  That’s something isn’t it?”

The dark-eyed demon sighed reluctantly.  Yes, he conceded.  Having her ever warm, and always sweet to taste was good.  And to always be able to listen to the music of her heart was good too.  He was going to miss the opportunity of seeing just how wicked her demoness would have been, but all in all, he was pleased with his soulful Buffy.

“Yes,” he finally said.  “It’s something.  Not what I expected, but good none the less.”

She smiled as he pulled her into his lap and kissed her.

Buffy sighed, enjoying the comfort of his embrace and rested her head against his shoulder, stroking her fingertips over the expanse of pale flesh revealed by the open collar of the crimson velvet shirt he wore.

The chain of the pendant shifted beneath her fingers and curiously, Buffy pulled the pendant out to look at it.  Similar to the old sword pendant he had worn before only in the fact that there was a sword; the necklace was a rather beautiful piece of jewelry.  The sword part seemed to me made of black volcanic glass intermixed somehow with silver. The blade of the sword had been thrust threw what appeared to be a knot work of flowing curves and intricate turns that when followed carefully throughout the circular pendant, led right back to the beginning. 

“This is different than the one you wore before, isn’t it?” Buffy asked curiously.

Angelus grinned and glanced down at the necklace.  “A bit.”

“The sword-thingie almost glows.  Neat.  What’s this?” she traced her fingertip over the lace-like pattern.

“It’s a Celtic knot.  The beginning leads to the end leads to the beginning.  A sort of never ending path.”  Angelus smirked secretively and allowed Buffy to admire Angel’s prison.

Soul-boy didn’t even know he was a prisoner.  As far as that moron was concerned, he had been returned to his body, salvaged by Faith and Willow.  The idiot was probably convinced he was still in L.A. saving the day.  Probably from the Beast’s Mistress, and still making a relationship work with his bastard offspring.

“Things have changed some,” Angelus commented, watching her trace the path of the knot-work absently.

“Like how?”

The dark-eyed demon smirked.  “Like the deal I made with First.  It wanted you turned and out of the way.  I’m thinking that since that’s impossible, we’re going to have to kill it and Caleb to prevent the bully-boys from ruining our time together.”

“Good,” she replied, thinking back upon the hard-hitting priest that had twice knocked her cold.  “I’ve got a bone to pick with Caleb.”

Angelus stood, carefully putting her back on the ground.  “I had planned on betraying the First all along.  We won’t be able to hurt the First Evil, but insubstantial boogey-men don’t bother me, and a whole parade of all my kills isn’t going to scare me into suicide.  Caleb on the other hand is definitely something we can handle.”

The slender slayer walked back over to the bed to shimmy into her pants and then quickly yank on her boots.  “They’re guarding something at the winery,” she commented.  “You know how big Hellmouth players function.  They always hover right over their power base.  The First and Caleb keep making noises about the seal beneath the high-school, but all their minions, all their strength have been focused at that winery.”  She cocked her head and stared at the tall vampire, for a moment uncertain whether or not he would call her reckless.  “I…I think he’s got something there.”

The dark-eyed demon smirked and handed her the tan leather jacket she’d arrived in.  “Then let’s go take it from them.”

~

Faith looked at her small rag-tag army, taking in each determined face of the Potentials she had chosen to go with her to the armory across town.

“So,”* Andrew continued, bringing the slayer’s attention back to him.  “it turned out that all these stone tablets basically said the same thing. The First and Caleb are protecting something and we don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s something powerful and they don’t want the Slayers to get it. I’m thinking it could be a weapon and if we are looking for an arsenal-“*

“You’re not coming,” Faith snapped at the geek firmly.

“If one is looking for an arsenal,”* Andrew continued firmly, “well, what better place to find a –“*

“Weapon,” the dark-haired slayer supplied impatiently.  “Okay.  Got it.”  Realizing that she sounded impatient, she smiled at the skinny young man.  “Good.  Good thinking, Andrew.”*

The slender teen smiled.  “It’s a pleasure, Faith.  Back to you,”* he said with a grand gesture, surrendering the floor to their new leader.

Faith turned her attention to the core group that had been guarding the Hellmouth from evil for the longest amount of time.

Giles, Willow, Dawn and Xander stared at her with calm trusting expressions.  “Okay, I need you four to suss out the situation on B. I don’t want you talking to her, getting in her way or, for that matter, letting her know you’re there. Just do a little recon.”*

Wood jerked his chin up to catch the eye of his new lover.  “Where do you want me, Faith?”*

“By your phone,”* she responded dismissively.  “I’ll call you when I need you.”*

He flinched slightly, taken aback by her suddenly cool manner.  She certainly hadn’t seemed so cold as they’d made love last night in Buffy’s old bed.

Dawn cleared her throat nervously.  “What are we looking for? I mean, is there some reason we should spy on Buffy?”*

Faith cocked her head and stared at the youngest Summers pityingly.  “We’re just making sure she’s okay,”* she said in a placating tone.  “Those of you who are coming with me to the arsenal, Kennedy, Amanda, you others, you know who you are.  Everybody ready?”*

The surrounding group made noses of assent.

Faith nodded, and smiled her trade-mark cocky smile.  “Let’s do it.”*

~

Caleb spun on his heel and stared up toward the stairs as Buffy descended down in the basement to face him.

“Well,”* the tainted priest sneered.  “If it isn’t the prodigal slayer.”*

Buffy cocked her head as she sneered at him.  The power was here.  And she would take it from him.  “So where’s it at?  I’m going to find it sooner or later.”*

“No you’re not,”* Caleb snapped.  “I lay one hand on you,”* he threatened menacingly, “and you’re just a dead little girl.”*

The golden Slayer shrugged, unconcerned.  She wasn’t alone.  She had a partner.  And she was the Slayer.  If the bad guys had it to dish out at her, she had the skills to deal with it.  “So lay a hand on me,”* she taunted.  “If you can.”*

The tainted priest surged forward, hungry to smash the Jezebel down to the ground.  She taunted him, with her swaying hips, and her pink lips and he would lay her low.

He swung out to punch her and Buffy arched back, letting the strike fly over her head.

She flipped over him and leapt gracefully up to ran across the wine barrels.

Like a charging bull, Caleb followed her, knocking barrels to the ground.

Blow after blow, she twisted and arched, dodging beneath some, flipping out of range of others until once again over extended by the force of his attacks, Caleb sprawled to the ground.

“Caleb, please, this is getting embarrassing.”*

Buffy and the tainted priest looked across the room at the First, wearing Buffy’s face and watching the fight with an annoyed expression.

“Do you have to look like that?”* Caleb demanded.

Buffy/First glared at him.  “Will you concentrate?”*

“It’s just a little confusing,”* the tainted priest retorted.

“Fine,” the First/Buffy sighed.  “Go.  Kill.”* And winked from sight.

Buffy watched the First’s bullyboy rise to his feet and come after her again.  She continued the non-fight she had engaged in, dodging his every blow but not attempting to strike one just yet herself.

She flipped over his head again, running gracefully to the other side of the room, continuing to scan the area for the hiding place he guarded so carefully.

“You whore!”* Caleb bellowed.

The golden Slayer slid to a halt and turned to glare at the priest contemptuously.  “You should watch your language,”* she scolded lightly.  “If someone didn’t know you, they might think you were a woman-hating prick.”*

Enraged at her continued taunting, Caleb knocked over a wine barrel, revealing the trapdoor that she had been waiting for.

He rushed her and Buffy dodged beneath his blow and slid gracefully across the floor to go through the trapdoor headfirst

She somersaulted mid air and landed on her feet, and glanced up when she heard the thump of the door closing behind her.  Satisfied that for the moment Caleb wasn’t in pursuit, she stepped forward into the cave system that ran beneath winery.

In the center of the large cave she was in, was a huge stone with a shining battle-axe buried blade first into the rock.  Surrounding the weapon were several tortures, the light flickering gold across the blade and the handle.

Buffy’s breath caught in wonder and she approached the rock quickly, reaching out to touch the handle.

“Got no where to run now, do you little miss?” Caleb taunted, rising from the crouch he’d landed in after jumping down into the room.

“I don’t need to run,” Buffy replied, caressing the handle of the battle-axe.

The tainted priest laughed tauntingly.  “And just how are you going to get that out of that rock?” he demanded moving in to close with her again.

Buffy smiled and grasped the handle, lifting the weapon easily from the rock.

Caleb hesitated.  “Uh.”

“Hey.”

The tainted priest turned around at the unfamiliar voice just in time to have a powerful fist slam into his nose and knock him flying backward across the cave.  He sat up and shook his head, blinking away the tears that stung his eyes and stared in shock at the tall powerfully built man that he hadn’t known was down there.

“Caleb, this is Angelus, my – “

“-Husband.”

“-husband.  Angelus, this is Caleb, a woman-hating prick.”

Caleb staggered to his feet and glowered at the new comer.

“You’re a little late,” Buffy commented, experimentally swinging the battle-axe which sang with every swing of its mystically sharp blade.

“What can I say lover,” the man responded.  “I knew the Bringers had carved these caves to connect into the sewer system, but it’s not like they gave me any blueprints.”

Angelus smiled at his beaming Slayer.  “That shiny what we came for?”

 “Yep.”

Caleb watched her as she strode closer to the strange man.  “You should leave stranger, before this Jezebel leads you straight to the gates of hell,” he snarled, moving closer to the pair.

Angelus snorted.  “Been there, done that.” He reached out and stroked a finger over the Slayer’s smooth cheek.  “I finally decided it was better to just burn.”

Buffy looked at the tainted priest, her lips curling into a feral snarl of hate.  “It’s awfully sharp.  Let’s test out my new toy.”

The dark-eyed vampire tapped her nose affectionately.  “Anything you want.”

Caleb lunged toward her.  “You’re still one dead little girl,” he snarled, striking out at her.

The blow landed and Buffy staggered slightly beneath the strength of his attack, but she no longer felt weak, no longer lacked confidence in herself or in her back up.  She was the Slayer.

She turned to look at the man who had been pushing her around Sunnydale for the last week.  “I still seem to be alive.”

She twisted sharply and kicked him in the gut, sending the First’s bullyboy staggering across the room.

Angelus leaned back to watch the show, grinning in pride as she fell into a brutal series of attacks, slamming the hard soles of her boots into Caleb’s knees, before spinning to strike him with the handle of the battleaxe.

“Other end is the dangerous end, lover,” Angelus called out, watching as the pair exchanged blows, Buffy staggering beneath the man’s strength, but never faltering or weakening.

“Right,” Buffy replied, twirling the blade to give it momentum.

“Angelus, we had a deal.”

Buffy swung the battleaxe down into Caleb’s torso, just as the First spoke with her voice, causing both men to glance toward it.

Caleb grunted and stared down at himself, the gaping wound that split his body striking above his left shoulder and slicing cleanly down to his pubic bone.  He looked at the Jezebel, the golden haired whore that had defeated him and sank to his knees, his torso sheering off in opposite directions.

“Well, “ Buffy sighed happily, “that wasn’t so hard.”

“Angelus,” this First snarled angrily.  “We had a deal.”  It walked over to look down at its disciple, unable to believe that such a perfect repository had been defeated.

The dark-eyed demon held out his hand and Buffy tossed the battleaxe to him.  Expertly he twirled the blade, shifting closer to the First Evil as it turned to glare at him.

“You can’t stop me,” it sneered.

“It is incorporeal,” Buffy commented.

Angelus smirked.  “Doesn’t hurt to try.”

The First stood there arrogantly glowering at the vampire that had betrayed it.  “You’ll pay for this,” it snarled.

Angelus brought the scythe straight down upon its head.

The resulting blast of dark wind and nearly earth shattering screams was unexpected as the axe struck and the First imploded, releasing a sudden backdraft of inky darkness upon them.

Buffy and Angelus flew back to strike the cave wall, and the stink of millions of years of evil rushed over them briefly before dissipating into nothingness, as did the echoing screams of rage and pain.

“What was that?” Buffy asked, staring up at the ceiling in amazement.

“Bloody thin dispersed,” Angelus muttered disbelievingly.

“You defeated the First Evil?” she asked propping herself up on one elbow.

He rolled to look at her.  “More of a sending it back to step one.  It has not intelligence, no cohesion.  It’s got to start over.  Evil has no malevolent focus now, it just is.”

She grinned at the irony of it.  “You defeated the First Evil?”

The dark-eyed demon sighed in annoyance.  “Yeah.  Don’t tell anyone about it, okay?”  He rose lithely to his feet and hauled Buffy to hers.  His sword pendant shifted and thumped against his breast and Angelus glowered his imprisoned soul.  “Damned prophecies,” he muttered.  “Vampire with a soul, not a vampire with a soul.”

“What?” Buffy laughed, reaching out eagerly to take back her shiny battleaxe.

Amused at her glee in the bloody weapon, Angelus surrendered it to her eager hands.  “Nothing love.  Let’s go.”

They walked through the tunnels he had taken to get there, and Buffy glanced around curiously.  “Wonder where all the Bringers got to.”

He shrugged.  “Who cares?  You ready to leave Sunnydale?”

She hesitated uncertainly.  “I…I never really expected I’d be able to leave.  Figured I’d be stuck her until I died.”

Angelus tucked her close to his side.  “Well you did, so technically speaking; you’ve served your time here.  Let’s go to…Europe.”

“Europe?” she repeated in surprise.

“No Watchers, all the potential Slayers here, it’s a party town over there.  I’ve got places to show you.  You once wanted to go to France.  I’ll make love to you as we travel down the Seine.”

“Well,” she said uncertainly.  She was still a Slayer.  Sure she’d accepted a soulless demon as her mate, but she couldn’t fight her nature.  She would always be drawn to fight vampires and kill them, just not him.  “What about the others?” she asked softly.

Angelus stopped and turned her to face him, staring deep into her troubled green eyes.  “We killed Caleb and we destroyed the First.  Let Faith take over.  She wants to be the Slayer of a Hellmouth, she wants to be the leader of that motley little army, I say let her have it.  You’ve done your part.  We belong to each other now.”

Buffy smiled brilliantly.  “Right,” she breathed.  “We belong to each other now.”

A distant explosion rocked the sewers, echoing through the long tunnels, carried ever further by the water at the base of the tunnels.

Angelus watched her calmly, waiting to see what she’d do.

The golden Slayer laced her fingers with his.  “Let Faith deal with the fallout,” she sighed.  “You’re right.  We killed Caleb and the First, it’s her turn to work.”

Angelus laughed and cuddled her into his side.  “And her turn to die.”

They walked through the tunnels toward home.

“I'm still a Slayer,” she warned him.  “Wherever we go, I’ll still be a Slayer.  I'll still need to slay.  And you, you're still a vampire.”

“Well, if we were perfect, we wouldn't still be single.”

She laughed softly and laced her fingers through his.  “Can we leave tonight?” she asked eagerly.

“Europe’s not going anywhere.”

“Yeah, but I finally can.”

~

Giles paced restlessly, nausea pulling at his stomach.

Faith and the others still hadn’t returned.

Willow rocked herself, but said nothing.

A sudden banging on the door had them all startling and Giles lunged towards the front door, praying that it was the girls…or Buffy.

“What the bloody hell are you doing here?” he demanded, shocked at the scruffy looking man standing on the threshold.

“And a good day to you too,” Wesley snapped, walking into the room uninvited.           “And after I drove all this way to help.”

"Oh," Xander sneered, "and if we need anyone to scream like a little girl and run away, we'll be sure to give you a call."

Willow stood up, moving away from her vigil at the window. “Is something wrong?”

Wesley stared contemptuously down his patrician nose at the boy. “It’s strangely comforting to see some people never truly grow up.”

“Wes,” Willow repeated urgently. “Did you find Angel?”

“No,” Wes answered shortly.

Giles frowned, looking back and forth between the two. “Was Angel missing?”

“Perhaps it’s something of a blessing something else has his interest at the moment,” Wesley sighed tiredly.

“Blessing?” Giles repeated. “And why does this sound ominous?”

“Sounds like dead boy may have rejoined the dark-side,” Xander sneered. “Knew we couldn’t trust him to keep a hold of his soul.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Xander,” Giles snapped. “Angel would never be so complacent as to risk his soul for anything.”

Willow and Wesley shared a guilty look.

Giles stared at them, the blood draining from his face in dawning horror.

“Did something happen to Angel?” he demanded stiffly.

Wesley glowered at the one-eyed boy and turned his attention back to his colleague. “Angel consented to help us for the greater good by allowing us to remove his soul. It was supposed to be a temporary measure, and every precaution was taken in containing Angelus, but as it happens the price was too dear for what we gained. We failed him and lost Cordelia.”

Giles ground his teeth together, struggling to container his rage. “You, purposefully released Angelus?”

“Angelus had information we required regarding a dangerous demon wreaking havoc upon Los Angeles. We took every precaution, but it appears we had a traitor in our midst, and Angel’s soul, safely contained in a mystic’s jar, was stolen.”

The blond Watcher removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, struggling to maintain control. “And none of you saw fit to make us aware of this and warn Buffy?”

Wesley glanced at Willow in displeasure. “I had assumed that Willow and Faith would apprise you of the situation and make you aware of the danger.”

Giles glared at the redheaded witch who shrank meekly beneath his displeasure.

“I didn’t want to worry her needlessly,” Willow explained. “It had been years since they’d seen each other. There was no reason for Angel – “

“Years do not matter to a vampire in regards to his obsessions,” Giles snapped. “Nor do centuries serve to cool their passions when they are genuinely in love.” He caught control of his rampaging temper and determinedly cleaned the lenses of his glasses. “How long ago was this?”

Wesley glanced at Willow’s shamed expression. “Since two days before Faith arrived here with Willow. We had attempted a salvage operation to retrieve Angel, but we failed. He chose not to kill Faith and simply disappeared from L.A. We’ve heard no rumors of him setting up a lair.”

Giles closed his eyes in anguish. “He could already be here. And she’s out there alone…Unaware.” He glared at them, “Do you fools have any idea what you’ve done?”

Wesley narrowed his gaze. “Well it’s a little late to play the blame game here. What’s done is done and Angel is lost to us until we can find and retrieve his soul. Willow attempted to re-ensoul him, but with his soul imprisoned wherever it is, Angelus is quite free to live a souless existence.”

Anya stared at the two Watchers and the Witch curiously. “Are we worried about Buffy now? Cause we seem to be missing the other slayer and a number of potentials.”

“It never rains but it pours,” Wesley muttered. “Very well, where is Buffy? I’ve found some information for you regarding the First Evil. I’d rather only have to go through it once.”

Giles spun and paced away, too shamed to look at the other Watcher.

“Um,” Willow stalled. “We all decided – that is Buffy decided we needed a break from each other and  “

“We kicked her to the curb and voted Faith as our leader,” Anya cut in.

Wesley sighed irritably. “Whose fool idea – never mind I don't give a damn.  We should find Buffy.  Maybe we can organize a rescue – “

“Wait,” Anya interrupted. “Are we saving her from Angel or is she saving us from Angel? Because if he already has her, he might just forget about us.”

Sick silence descended in the room, and Xander stared at the ex-demoness in morbid revulsion.

Wes’ words echoed in the silence. Something else keeping his attentions.

“Pryce,” Giles murmured. “Why…why don’t you tell us what you found? Perhaps that will bear some light onto the situation.”

“Without Buffy, it’s useless,” Wesley responded, dropping the ancient tome he carried carelessly to a nearby table.

“Why is everything about that bitch?” Rona demanded irritably.

Wesley glanced at the potential slayer in disgust and cast an accusing glare at Giles. “Is this how you’re maintaining control of these girls? Pitting them against your Slayer?  And then booting her out?  Buffy is your priority, because whether you want to admit it or not Mr. Giles, she’s your Slayer. It was a lifetime role. Her lifetime. And you swore an oath.”

Giles flinched, well aware that he’d betrayed his oaths.  He'd abandoned her when she'd needed him and then turned on him when she hadn't toed the line, listening to her own instincts rather than his advice.

“Who gives a shit –“

Wesley turned on the dark-skinned potential. “Why don’t you go sit yourself down in a corner until an adult has time to deal with your rude mouth?”

“Hey,” she retorted indignantly. “I’m a potential –“

“You are nothing,” Wesley snapped. “Nothing until you are called. Until that time, you are a victim or cannon fodder. Now shut the bloody hell up.”

Rona fell silent and stomped away to glower at them from a distance.

Wesley stared around the room, taking in the hostile glares of the other girls, taking in the guilty expressions of Giles, Willow, Xander and Buffy’s young sister Dawn.

“You voted Faith leader,” he murmured. “And kicked Buffy out. Well, the poetic irony of this situation is quite simply amazing.”

“Just say it,” Giles growled.

“The First Evil can be defeated.”

The girls murmured excitedly.

Wesley smiled contemptuously at the group. “By a vampire with a soul who loves a Slayer.”

Giles grimaced, thinking of the platinum-haired vampire he and the others had driven away.

“A vampire with a soul can defeat the First Evil, but a vampire with a soul, who is in love with the Slayer and loved by her, can drink from the wellspring of her power, and sharing in it, destroy the First Evil.”

“What…what does that mean?” Dawn asked plaintively.

“It means we fucked ourselves,” Xander responded. “Spike working with Buffy could have stopped it. Angel with Buffy could have destroyed it.”

Giles stared out the window, tears burning in his eyes. “I was too proud,” he muttered. “And she was right.”

“But what does this mean, now?” Dawn demanded.

“It means,” Anya replied, “we lose. We drove Buffy away and Spike only stayed because of Buffy. Angel is gone. And since Willow didn’t bother to warn her, the chances are good that Buffy is dead. We lose and the First Evil won.”

Wesley left the now useless book on the table and headed back out the door. He glanced back into the room, gazing contemptuously at the men and women gathered inside. “Quite,” he said succinctly, responding to Anya’s comment. “Well I must be going. No point in staying it would seem. You have no vampires with souls to spare, much less the Slayer they might love. Good luck. Frankly you’re going to need it. We have our own crisis to address, and you... your going to have your hands full.”

Giles watched the other ex-Watcher leave without comment. He felt sickened. The end of the world was coming and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do to stop it because they had turned on the one person who could help them.

“What do we do?” Dawn whined.

“We wait for Faith and Kennedy to come back,” Willow responded determinedly.

“But no souled vampires love Faith,” Dawn complained.

“We'll wait,” the redheaded witch snapped.

No one dared comment that the girls were hours past due. There was nothing they could do. Caleb and the First were still out there, as were the Harbringers. Without an experienced Slayer to save them, they were sitting ducks, waiting for evil to come knocking at the door.

And all they could do was wait.

~

Buffy laughed at the night sky as Angelus sped the GTO down the highway. The top was down, the wind was in her face and they were free.

She hadn’t thought that being booted out of her own home, betrayed by friends and family alike could be so liberating. Funny how things worked out.

The End

 


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