The Mark

DISCLAIMER: Don't own them. Or anything else for that matter.
SPOILERS: Challenge from Soulgaluk - Full description of the challenge is at the end of the fic
DISTRIBUTION: Sure, just let me know.
FEEDBACK: Please, please, please! And thank you!
RATING: NC-17
LYRICS: All lyrics are from The Dave Matthews Band


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Soulagluk, this one's for you. Hope it doesn't disappoint. It's so smutty I am almost tempted not to post it, but hey this is your idea, not mine, right? Right? We'll just pretend this isn't just my dirty mind. Hee, hee. Cheers, Tango

***

we look at each other wondering what the other is thinking
but we never say a thing and these crimes between us grow deeper

Buffy walked through the double glass doors with an entourage of people in tow but Angel barely noticed them. For the first few minutes, all he could see was Buffy. She had a large blonde man hanging on her arm and Angel casually observed the group before returning his dark, intense eyes back toward his Slayer.

God, she's beautiful, Angel thought as Buffy walked down the stairs, her diminutive hips swaying from her movements. Completely unaware of her own magnificence, she tread the earth like an seraph in irons. Gravity weighed her there with obligation. He thought briefly back to the time when he first met her, how he was awestruck every time he saw her, almost unable to believe that she was real. Mixing classical beauty and poise with a quick wit and intelligence she walked with oblivion through her dark world. Her body was naturally strong and athletic, while retaining its softness with graceful, teasing rounded curves. She was a goddess forced to serve in a human realm that did not deserve her.

That's how Angel saw her. That was how he always saw the beauty within that shone through and radiated her outer beauty. He looked over at her boyfriend for a second and narrowed his dark eyes as he scrutinized the lucky bastard. He wondered if the guy realized what he had in his arms.

Riley was clutching Buffy's hand so tightly that Angel could see her circulation slowing. He could almost hear the boy's teeth grinding together inside his mouth, beneath his set jaw. Blue eyes were icing the vampire down. Angel might have smiled at the boy's jealousy if he could have gotten over his own. Angel thankfully realized that Riley loved her. At least he valued the wonderful person he held on to. And that left Angel wondering how he should proceed. He couldn't act like her boyfriend, it would be harmful to act like the ex and he couldn't talk to her without betraying his feelings. This was going to be really, really hard. He could think of hundreds of ways that would have been a more pleasant way to spend a Friday night - evisceration, a little holy water, maybe a bathtub of crosses. Anything was better than seeing Riley Finn touching Buffy. She smiled at the boyfriend, her straight white teeth appearing between her perfect curved lips...for him.

Angel inwardly cursed Cordelia and Wesley for making him call on the Sunnydale crew to come to LA. He could handle anything but Buffy. Anything was fine, anyone was easy to deal with but her...her golden hair falling in soft waves, framing her lovely face was calling out to him to thread his fingers through...her eyes, carefully dodging his stare, were as hazel as he remembered, tinged with those golden specks of green, exactly as he had memorized them. She had lost weight. A little too much perhaps, but she was more than beautiful with her worn jeans hugging her hips, a tiny slice of skin showing between her form fitting, low cut top and her jeans. He could just reach out and touch that diminutive wafer of tanned exposed flesh....

He forced his eyes to look at the rest of the room. They were a gang of misfits, scattered lightly over the marble floor: Dawn, Willow, Xander, Giles, Anya, Tara, Cordelia, Gunn, Wesley...and Spike.

"Why the hell are you here?" Angel demanded of his Grande Childe.

"You need the brawn, Peaches," Spike answered nonchalantly, leaning against the hotel's front desk. Spike didn't care about helping. He could give a rat's ass if the whole bloody lot of them died. He was here for the show. The possibilities for violence among these people were endless. He couldn't wait for the excitement to commence.

"I don't trust him," Angel said, turning his eyes towards his ex-lover. He briefly flipped his eyes to her newest appendage, who spoke, "I don't either."

Great, now he and the new boyfriend were on the same side. Damn it. He didn't like him. He didn't like that Riley held Angel's entire world in his arms and looked at him, her soul mate, as if he were not only threatening their relationship but their lives. Now he had to deal with Spike, who was a handful on his most patient days.

"Well, we need him," Buffy said, trying to keep the tremors from her words. She was in Angel's house. Ten feet from him. Riley, gripping her hand, was a constant reminder of his presence. She felt her friend's eyes on her as she spoke, trying to dig beneath her brave veneer, wondering how this little weekend excursion away from the Hellmouth was going to pan out, "Besides he can only hurt demons. He's no threat."

"Yeah right," Cordelia spat. She looked over at Spike with disgust and then her eyes flashed over at Angel with a silent warning. You'd better not let that demon kill anyone. Angel met her gaze and nodded almost imperceptively, causing an immediate softness to enter her eyes even though the scowl remained.

"I am in the room, you know," Spike said, lighting a cigarette.

"Yes, we were trying to forget," Giles muttered and then cleared his throat, "We should get on with the research."

"Yes," Wesley agreed, stepping forward. Both men nodded in curt British agreement and began comparing notes.

***

she was his girl; he was her boyfriend

Riley was more than relieved when Angel was paired up with someone else besides him and Buffy. She was tense, defensive and more than a tad jumpy since they left Sunnydale. He wasn't sure what was more disturbing, the fact that Angel was a vampire and he was expected to trust him as if he were a real person or that the vampire in question had once been Buffy's lover. Angel made him nervous. More nervous that he cared to admit. The demon stared at his girlfriend as if she were his...something. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he didn't like it. Buffy stared back at him in the same strange manner. She tried to act normal but there was nothing normal about anything when Angel was in the room.

To make matters worse, the vampire was nice. He was fucking polite and courteous. He kept his distance from Buffy, hadn't made a move to touch her. He hadn't even shook her hand when they came in, even after giving Dawn a big brotherly hug. Dawn didn't even like to talk to him most days and she was hugging Angel like he was a long lost family member. The whole thing was disconcerting and more than a little freaky. Riley tried to tell himself that Angel was no threat but Buffy clearly wasn't over him and Angel wasn't a hair's breath away from being over her. He hadn't touched her physically but emotionally she was tethered to his side.

Riley shook off his jealousy. He couldn't act all anxious or Buffy would get more upset than she already was. He focused on the mission. They were alone in their section of the city. Angel was all the way across town.

She's my girlfriend now, he reminded himself, I have nothing to worry about.

i remember thinking i'll go on forever only knowing
i'll see you again but i know
the touch of you is so hard to remember but like that touch I know no other

Buffy was reminding herself the same thing as she patrolled the city with Riley: She was dating Riley, not Angel. She had tried not to look at him while Riley was in the room, thinking that she wouldn't be able to hide the look in her eyes - the desperate can't-live-one-more-second-without-your-arms-around-me expression. She was terrified that she wouldn't get through this weekend without Riley seeing that look - the look she never gave him.

So she couldn't meet Angel's piercing gaze directly, not more for a minute or two at a time. Even that infinitesimal amount of time was risky. She had forgotten just how broad his shoulders were, the way his chest was traced lightly through his shirt, betraying the sexy brawn she knew to be underneath it. She told herself she had forgotten his large hands, his Adonis-esque etched face, his graceful movements, his deep chocolate eyes. She told herself she had forgotten. She hadn't. She remembered it too well. So well that being in his presence made her feel weak and flushed.

Riley clung to her and she clung back. She needed him to save her from her true love. She needed Agent Finn to keep her from falling into the swirling black abyss that was Angel. His tight grip on her hand kept her from launching herself into the vampire's arms and begging him to hold her forever, kept her from slipping away to the demon who owned her heart.

Thank God Riley came with me, she thought. She walked beside her boyfriend, not touching him but was inches from his large frame. She scanned the streets for signs of a demon that could lead them to the rest of the infestation somewhere in the city. Slayer senses sharpened, she should have detected the dark figure melting in from the shadows, but she didn't. The demon boldly stepped in behind the couple and brushed Buffy's right hand. She spun around to face whatever brushed her. She saw nothing but a glimmer of something that was already gone.

***

dark clouds may hang on me sometimes but I'll work it out

"So you're going to be wearing Buffy face all weekend," Cordy asked as she, Angel and Gunn prowled the dark alley.

"Cordy..." Angel started.

"No, it wasn't a question," she said, looking briefly at Gunn, who was trying to hide his smile of recognition.

"Well then," Angel sighed, "What's the point?"

"Nothing," she said with a grimace, "Just making an observation."

She looked into Angel's irritated eyes, which were nestled deeply inside a no-doubt-about-it ?Buffy face' expression.

"Butting out." She said, holding her hands up and continuing down the alley.

"Thank you," he said.

"Crabby," she muttered to Gunn, as if she didn't think his vampiric hearing would detect the sound of her voice.

"Don't blame him," Gunn said with a grin, "She's hot. I'd be a little damn grouchy if I saw my woman on some other guy's arm."

Cordy slapped his arm in protest, "You're not helping."

"What? It's true," Gunn said, not losing his grin. This was entertainment, he thought. He had long waited to meet the infamous Buffy. Meeting the little woman who was The Slayer and had caught the iron heart of Angel was a very interesting Friday night for him. He couldn't get over the fact that she was so tiny. Smaller than Cordelia, even, she stood like a warrior with the curves of a woman. He was trying to wrap his mind around the whole picture, which was complicated and immense.

i say my hell is the closet i'm stuck inside. can't see the light

"I'm not crabby," Angel hissed, over their voices and lengthened his strides to put some distance between them. He wasn't crabby. He wasn't grouchy. He was pissed. Pissed that he couldn't just kill the demons by his damn self without a bunch of judgmental people hanging around him and telling him how he was supposed to act. How the hell was he supposed to act anyway? Buffy was there with her blonde boy toy, hanging on his arm and refusing to meet his eyes. He was pissed that he wasn't allowed to pissed. She was going on with her normal damn life, with her normal damn boyfriend. He hoped they went on lots of sunny fucking picnics. He hoped ants infested their lunches.

He knew he was being irrational. Of course he was irrational. How could logic step in when continuing to love her made no sense? He couldn't be with her, couldn't make love to her, couldn't give her anything that big dufus could. It was enough to make him insane. He was in a cloud of disillusion, which might have been part of the reason he didn't sense the dark being misting out from the shadows. He felt a brush on his hand and turned around to face Cordy and Gunn.

"What?" He said as he turned around and noticed that they were a good four paces away from him and could not have possibly touched him.

"What?" Gunn asked in return.

"What the hell was that?" He said, swinging around in a broad circle, searching the alley and finding nothing.

"What the hell was what?" Gunn asked.

Cordelia shrieked in pain and stumbled back, her body shaking with the torment of a brain cracking vision. Her hands flew to her head and Angel caught her just before she landed on the hard cement, writhing in pain.

***

i come into your psyche. you're sleeping - i'm in your mind filled waiting on desire

It was nearly dawn when they found the nest and took it out. By the time the battle ended, the sun was brightly shining above ground and they were all below in the sewers covered in gutter stench and demon mucus. Angel led them safely through the sewers and back to the hotel where they all dove into rooms to shower.

Sleep should have come next but the whole crew was hungry and wired from a night of saving the world. Freshly showered and changed, clean shiny faces emerged one by one to raid the fridge. Food was scarce in a hotel that normally housed only a vampire, so Cordelia called for a mountain of pizzas.

Buffy dangled her hand under Giles' nose, revealing a black tattooed mark, about an inch in diameter, "What's that?"

"I don't know," she answered, "I wouldn't be showing it to you if I knew."

"Looks familiar," Giles said, as Angel sauntered in.

"What looks familiar?" The vampire asked. Buffy jerked her head up to look at him

"The mark on Buffy's hand," Wesley replied, nodding at The Slayer, "I seem to remember seeing it somewhere before myself."

and travel my eyes over you

Angel closed the distance in the room, grabbed her hand and looked intently at it. From the instant he touched her, Angel felt old desire, years buried, scramble to the surface. Touching her again, feeling her soft skin and the indescribable heat that came off it made his entire body scream with desire. He felt renewed. He struggled for an argument to release her hand, to step away, to run away, but could not find the resolve to even take one step back.

"What?" Buffy said, looking up at him. The heat that Angel felt, raced through her body, feeling even her little toes with blazing emotion and confusion. Angel twisted his hand around and revealed an identical mark, his face distorted with concern.

"Oh," she said, looking over at Giles, "This probably isn't good."

This definitely wasn't good, she thought.. Angel wasn't looking at her hand anymore, he was looking into her eyes and not just in a longing I want you back kinda way. He was staring with a hungering, mouth-watering I'm gonna make love to you in right now in front of all of your friends any second if you don't stop me kinda way.

"No," Giles said, "I daresay it is not. Do you remember anything of note that could have caused it?"

"Something brushed me in the alley," she said, thinking back reflectively, trying to keep her breath from speeding into her words as she spoke, "But I didn't see anything so I just thought I bumped into something...or something."

Buffy last few words were more a mumble as she looked down at her hand, still captured in Angel's. Warmth wasn't just settling over her now, fire was racing through her veins. She almost gasped as she felt the arousal twinge between her thighs. Angel stepped in closer, inhaling her scent. Her whole body screamed with want as he squeezed her hand tighter and bored into her eyes with his own. He struggled for control, as he opened his mouth to speak.

"The same thing happened to me," Angel said. His deep voice was hoarse and cracked with buried want - buried want that was quickly rising to the surface and he was helpless to stop it, "But Cordy had a vision and then we went after the demons and I kinda forgot about it. I didn't see whatever touched me either."

He couldn't tear his eyes away from her even as he spoke. Giles and Wesley gave each other a concerned look at they observed the actions of the vampire and Slayer. They looked up as Riley and Xander entered the room but Buffy & Angel did not. They almost...couldn't.

"Buffy," Giles said, stepping forward, "Perhaps I ought to talk to you alone."

"What's going on?" Riley said, feeling icy panic drawing up inside him as he saw the locked gazes of his girlfriend and her supposed ex. Riley froze, taking in the way they were looking at each other. The vampire was holding her hand, his thumb caressing a long, slow trail over her smaller one. Riley felt his hackles rising as he realized that the vampire had no intention of releasing her hand.

"Nothing," Buffy and Angel said in unison, unable to look over at him, even for a second.

"Buffy," Riley said, stepping closer and grabbing her other hand, "What's going on?"

A long minute passed before she answered. Every bit of her will power was needed to turn her eyes away from Angel to look at her boyfriend. She ordered her body to pull away from the hand that held her but she couldn't. Angel groaned inside himself as she turned away. He reached out and caressed the side of her face, gently bringing her eyes back to his.

"What the hell is going on?" Riley yelled, pulling her hand harshly, "What the hell are you doing to her?" Riley could clearly see that she was in some sort of daze. When he spoke, Buffy and Angel didn't respond if they heard him. Riley pulled her away, breaking Angel's hold on her. He wasn't going to stand back and let that vampire pull her deeper into his thrall. It was obvious that they didn't have any normal kinda relationship.

"Angel," Buffy whimpered as she felt sharp pain dig deeply into her body all over. Buffy sagged against Riley as the pain took her over.

"Buffy," Angel said, feeling the same pain twisting through him. His face reverted to vamp, as he realized that not touching Buffy was what was causing the agonizing pain. Before Riley had time to act, Angel rushed with vampiric speed across the room, yanked her from his arms and moved her back across the room. Angel leaned in, capturing her lips as if Riley wasn't there. He plunged into her mouth, pulling her flush against him, one hand spanning the small of her back, one lost in the gentle tangles of her hair.

"Buffy!" Riley screamed. He ran across the room and tried to jerk her away again but Angel's hand came up, the heel of his palm dug into Riley's chest, sending him flying across the room. He landed hard against the wall with the wind knocked out of him. Panting for breath he rose shakily to his feet and yelled her name again. Her only answer was a whimpered moan against the vampire's mouth. The rest of the group came running in to see what the ruckus was about and all stopped to stare in awe at the two forbidden lovers.

"Angel!" Cordy yelled twice as loud as Riley's outcry, "What the hell are you doing?"

They all shuddered watching them lock lips again while he was in game face. She pressed against his mouth, unconcerned about the presence of sharp fangs.

"You're under some sort of spell," Giles said, trying to bring them to the side of reason. Giles, of all people knew of their star crossed love, but this was different...spell-induced. Angel pried his lips from The Slayer's. Looking deeply into each other's eyes, they felt the digging stares of the group

my yellow flame she dances

"Yes," Buffy answered, staring into Angel's beautiful golden eyes. Strange how when they appeared on other demons she was repulsed by them but on his face they were shimmering and soulful. Yes, his soul made the demonic change beautiful. She watched as his brown ones reappeared. Angel tore his eyes from his Slayer and looked over at Giles.

"Something's controlling us," he said, forcing the words out, "Can't control it. Hurts not to touch her."

"Yes," Buffy said again, looking at Giles, "Almost like if I don't touch him, I'll...die."

"We have to research those marks right away," Wesley said, turning to his books. Giles walked over and grabbed one as well, ready to start the process.

"You two ought to stay ," Giles said, finding his book and looking up again, finding that they were kissing each other deeply once more "where we can watch you."

"Upstairs," he panted moving against her lips again. The pain stayed ebbing inside both of him, urging them further into each other. Angel knew if he could make love to her, the pain would stop. If he could just be closer, the pain would go away. Intense lust assaulted his undead body. He felt alive again in her arms, against her lips.

"Yes," she moaned back. She knew the same thing Angel did. If they made love, everything would be alright. The world would right itself in their arms.

"NO!" Everyone else yelled. They kept kissing, entangled in each other and moved toward the door. Silently agreeing on tactics, the group cohered nervously, preparing to tear the lover's apart. Riley ran towards them. He reached out and grabbed Buffy's arm preparing to tear her away from him, but Angel caught his neck with one hand and slammed him against the wall, his face turning rapidly to his vampire visage again.

"You're making a mistake, boy," He growled over Buffy's blonde head. She tried to clear her mind. She knew something wasn't right here. She should be concerned over some little details of the situation but all she could feel was his body warming to her touch. While Angel's hand squeezed slightly tighter over Riley's throat, Buffy stared up at Angel. She missed the choking sound her name coming from her boyfriend's throat as she leaned in the nibble on the cool column of Angel's neck.

"Angel," Wesley said, his voice firm and demanding. Angel pushed back from Riley and moved the hand back to Buffy.

"Touch her again," Angel said, each word bathed in fierce growls, "And I'll rip your throat out."

"She's not yours anymore, vampire," Riley said through deep breaths. His words were slightly less convincing since the "she" in question was wiggling against Angel's body suggestively and leaving a trail of kisses on his smooth, cold neck.

Angel's lips curved around his fangs to form a cold smile, "Looks like it."

He threaded his fingers in her golden hair as she kissed his neck and ran another large hand over her tiny back. He caught her lips again, purposely not changing back to human. He wanted to the boy to be afraid. He wanted Riley to be overcome with jealousy that he couldn't keep his girlfriend from melting against his cold, vampiric lips.

Pulling back from his neck, she met his golden eyes once more. Her green ones weren't showing disgust from his ridged face but lust and love - strong, uncontrollable and overwhelming. She traced his face lovingly with her little hand, which caused a appalled gasp to errupt from Riley, only four feet away.

"Angel," she said, forgetting about the rest of the room, one of the inhabitants being her boyfriend. Love taking over his body, he was unable to keep his demon intact. He moved to his human face once more and smiled at her, echoing her words. He took over her lips again, lust exponentially increasing with each kiss. He backed her toward the door as he kissed her, needing to get somewhere where he could make love to her...

And soon.

The group moved into action, attacking as an entourage of force, trying to overwhelm them but were flung away, swatted like flies by the preternatural pair. They couple moved toward the door once more, stepping over the bodies of their friends who were dazedly standing up again.

"Separate," Willow's firm voice wafted from across the room. Buffy and Angel flew apart, each landing against separate walls. They both released wounded cries as pain shot through their bodies from their separation and scrambled to their feet to return to each other. Spike flew at Angel while Riley simultaneously ran to Buffy.

Buffy jerked her arm away from her boyfriend but was grabbed again. She swung hard, contacting with his face and forcing him to stumble back a step. Twisting, one slender leg flew up and met with the opposite side of his face, sending him against the wall she just came from. She turned and ran towards Angel.

On the opposite side of the room, Angel fought off Spike, brutally beating him away. Angel was always stronger than Spike and being his Sire, he had no qualms about violently putting the Childe in his place. Today he took no pleasure in fighting the younger vampire, he needed The Slayer to stop the lethal pain that attacked him. Knocking Spike away, he turned towards the blonde who jumped into his arms, wrapping her strong legs around his waist. He caught her lips, kissing her roughly around his fangs, and made his way from the room with her attached to him like a second skin.

"Buffy," he moaned, his hands roaming over her body as he walked them towards the door.

"Angel," she whispered back, squeezing against him more tightly. Angel wasn't sure how he was going to make it very far with her rubbing against his erect cock, her wetness seeping through her panties and soft cotton pants. Her heat massaged his arousal, causing him to groan loudly.

and if i've gone overboard then I'm begging you to forgive me
in my haste. when i'm holding you so, girl, close to me

The dazed group wandered out into the lobby, watching the lovers with fear bonding them.

"Need you...need..." she groaned, unable to express the overwhelming lust taking her over.

Angel's head was spinning and he held onto his love for balance. He struggled to overcome the desire that raged inside him. He couldn't make his demon go back into hiding and he couldn't peel himself away from her. He tried to make his mind go to any calm, peaceful place but she ground against him harder, nearly cracking his hips with the pressure of her legs around his waist. The danger of the curse was a nudging reminder inside his head and he thought of how to get himself out of this situation. No answers came.

"Angel," she pleaded, his name glistening with sex over her wet lips, "please...need you inside me...now."

"Curse," Angel groaned, the word feral and torn, but everyone heard it, understood it and harbored at least a second or two of hope.

"Angel," she whimpered, pressing against him earnestly, "Make love to me."

"Curse, godammit," Angel growled fiercely. He knew that he wouldn't be able to resist even as her throbbing heat pressed against him. Her hands moved over his body as her strong legs clamped him into place between her thighs.

"Angel," his name coming off her lips again in a raw, needy whisper. She kissed his neck, grinding herself into him, repeating his name, sending his body into waves of pleasure. He closed his eyes, his large hands almost completely covering her back, holding her in place against him. Her breasts pressed invitingly against his chest and soft strands of her hair tickled the skin it touched.

"Angel," she whispered, biting into his neck, "Fuck me...now."

Any resolve he might have been harboring snapped with the little words that simmered from her mouth, along with her blunt teeth, digging into his neck. The group looked on in utter shock, unable to turn away as Angel slammed her to the stairs and violently ripped the front of her pants away. Ripping his own away in turn, he fiercely sheathed himself inside her slick heat. She cried out with him as the pairing soothed a fraction of the dangerous need seated inside them.

people stare and we just ignore everything
people stare and we just ignore them
and they go away, go away

The group cringed with the force that the couple mated and waited for someone's bones to snap. None could force their eyes away from the display before them. They watched as Buffy ignored his demon face, kissing him wildly and bucking him deeper into her. They waited for someone to cry out in pain but were only met with heated mates' frenzied lovemaking, rumbling in ecstasy.

The dangerous mating dance continued for an embarrassing length of time. Buffy came once, twice, three times, screaming in the throes of passion, unable to even remember or realize that there were people in the room. Angel buried his face in her neck as he neared climax, sucking on the scar on her neck. He reached under her shirt and pinched her nipples roughly causing strident moans to erupt from her lips. The group strained to see if he was feeding but couldn't tell. They waited for hell to rain down on them, all wondering if The Slayer was about to die in the arms of her lover.

"Yes," she hissed, pulling him against her neck. He pulled away automatically, terrified that he almost bit into the delectable flesh. He could almost taste her blood already. The Scoobies gasped in relief as they saw he had not fed.

"No," he said, nearly unable to get the single syllable word past his lips, moving inside her more urgently as he felt the end drawing near, "I love you."

tell me are you satisfied with fucking?

"I love you," she whispered back. Eyes shot over to Riley's broken face and then they collectively gasped again as The Slayer pulled him back to his neck, "Drink."

The word was almost as sickening as the sound of him breaking her skin, making everyone jerk in surprise except for Spike who had reverted to game face and was sporting a raging erection. Every fantasy that didn't include taking a life was what he witnessed before him now. He nearly passed out when he realized that Buffy climaxed a fourth time as his Grande Sire bit into her neck. Spike could almost taste her blood himself. He could definitely smell it over the sweet aroma of her sex. He was enraptured by The Slayer and envious toward his Sire, as Angel came into her blistering center, nursing the open wound in her throat.

Angel licked her wound gently and felt himself calming, his face returning to his human guise as he lay nestled inside her. She was trembling around him, holding him tightly to her and as he began to pull away, she tightened her inner muscles and increased the pressure of her legs around his waist, holding him hostage inside her. Angel felt himself hardening once more and then noticed the crowd standing in the far corner of the room, off to the side, where they could see and hear a fair amount. Using vampiric speed and strength, he stood, seating himself deeper inside her and hurried up the stairs wearing the most beautiful Slayer in history around his waist.

The group stood in awe still staring at the spot where the supernatural slaves to lust had just been when the door opened. They all moved their eyes slowly to the door to find a pizza boy overloaded with cardboard boxes of steaming lunch, "You guys order some pizzas?"

***

you walk into my days. love gives me hope
and this no better have I felt than now, my love
you drive me to distraction

Riley slumped against the wall, certain that his heart had been ripped from his chest and was left somewhere on the stairway where Angel and Buffy had just been. His blues eyes were glazed over with anguish and he looked as if his life had just flashed before his eyes.

"Get over it," Spike said, breaking the silence with a grin. Riley's eyes wandered to the side of the room where Spike stood.

"Spike!" Willow said, actually shocked that he could be so rude. She was shocked regularly by Spike, even though she knew she should not be surprised by his evil mannerisms anymore.

"Well, what kind of stupid, bloody human wanker would think he could hold on to a Slayer, for crying out loud?"

"She's under a some sort of spell," Giles said, taking off his glasses and wiping them thoughtfully, "We must find out what the mark on their hands represents."

"Indeed," Wesley said, nodding.

"Willow," Giles said, turning to the shocked redhead, "I suggest you begin preparing the Romani ritual to recurse Angel if we need to."

"Recurse Angel?" Riley asked, snapping back to reality, "What do you mean? Buffy said he was cursed with a soul, but why would he need to be recursed?"

"So Buffy left that juicy little tidbit out, did she?" Spike said, rolling in excitement. He was glad he hadn't stayed home to mope in his crypt. This was better than Disneyland, "Let me explain it to you, soldier boy."

"Spike," Giles said stepping forward in warning, "Do shut up. You will not be the one explain the curse."

"Aw, why not?" Spike asked with an evil grin.

"Well somebody tell me!" Riley demanded, panic filling his eyes.

***

if green should slip to grey, would our hearts still bloody beat
if the mountains crumble away and the river dry, would it stop the stepping feet

Riley crept up the stairs while the others were busy bickering and starting research. He was crumbling underneath the wrinkled memory of Angel plunging into Buffy while sipping blood from her throat. Having the whole story, he had no doubt where her scar came from. Now his only question was, how many times did she let him do that? Was it common practice for her to consent access to her veins? Nightly bloodletting with her vampire?

He shivered as he moved up the stairs, listening intently for sound. He didn't have to listen very hard or very long. He heard hushed voices coming from down the hall, so he turned to his right and began traveling down the corridor, knowing it was a mistake with every step.

They hadn't shut the door all the way in their rush to escape the eyes of their friends. Riley peeked inside the room, feeling like a voyeur. He was feeling like he was violating their privacy and being violated at the same time. He saw Buffy collapsed over Angel's broad form, panting from exertion. Her full breasts were rising and falling with each breast and the demon's eyes were focused on her intently.

"Buffy..." Angel started, his eyes filled with concern. She moved her eyes to his face, turning over on her side and laying perpendicular to him, her head on his chest.

"Don't say it, Angel," she whispered, begging him to let it go.

"The curse," he whispered back, slightly running his hand over the side of her body, gently tracing the curves he had long since memorized. He knew every inch of her flesh from one night of passion, every flutter of her heartbeat, every caliber of moan that could be released from her throat.

"Please," she said, her eyes filling with tears, "I can't...it's too late anyway. Can't we just have this time? There's nothing we can do about it now."

"Buffy," Angel said, "You're in danger every second you stay with me now. I couldn't bare it if I -"

Buffy made her way quickly up his body, throwing a slender leg over him and straddling him, her wet heat resting against his stomach.

"No," she said, placing her fingers against his lips. He sucked one manicured finger into his mouth, swirling his tongue around her delicate fingertip, "No more talking about curses and danger."

She slipped her finger slowly out of his mouth and leaned in to kiss him hungrily, feeling her passion reignite. She pulled back up from his lips and stretched languidly, arching her back, leaving two perfect breasts looming above him, her golden hair falling in soft waves behind her. Angel slipped a hand down his chest and reached between her thighs, tracing her teasingly before landing on her clitoris. She moaned, leaning back.

"Do you still love me?" he asked, desperation in his dark eyes. He and Riley, listening in at the door, both eagerly awaited her answer, which was quick to come. Angel knew that she had already said it once that night, but he wanted...no, he needed to hear it again.

"Yes," she moaned, undulating her hips against his fingers, "I never stopped loving you Angel. I will always love you."

"What about your...boyfriend?" Angel asked, almost afraid to. His fear increased as she stiffened against him. He pulled his hand away from her tempting heat as he waited for her answer. Buffy was filled with remorse and guilt as she filled the deafening silence with thoughts of just how she would deal with her human boyfriend. Angel interpreted the silence for the fact that she loved Riley too and pain was filling every inch of his gorgeous, naked flesh. Riley, urgently standing by the door, was filled with hope for the first time.

"Do you...do you love him?" Angel asked tentatively, terrified of her answer, but unable to go on making love to her without it.

"I love you," she said clearly.

"Yes, but do you love him?"

"No," she said, leaving the word to hang in the air for a moment, before she clarified, "I like Riley. He's sweet and nice and he cares about me. But Angel, the only person I've ever loved is you. The only thing I've ever wanted in my life is to be with you."

"Tell me about it," he said, with a sigh of relief. Mouth watering, Angel flipped them, landing her across the wide bed diagonally. As he buried his head between her firm thighs, Riley felt unadulterated tears slip from his eyes. He backed away with the vision of them burned into his memory. He felt sobs overtake him as he remembered the sight of her as she promised she loved Angel and not him.

***

frightens me, has me tied up in knots, can't rest for a moment

"What mark?" Xander asked. Giles took one of the business cards sitting on the counter and drew a rough representation of it on the back. He held it out to Xander who looked at it and passed it over to Anya.

"Oh," Anya said, nodding curtly, "This is the mark of Animosus."

"The mark of what?" Xander asked, confused.

"?Who', actually," Giles said, looking over at Anya for clarification.

"When I was an avenging demon," Anya started, "Animosus was famous among us because he always ruined everything."

"Ruined your killing and maiming of men? How sad," Cordelia said, probably sarcastically - although no one was quite sure.

"Yes, well," Anya complained, "He was annoying. Apparently still is."

"I didn't think he was annoying at all," Spike said with a devilish grin. Everyone was with him on the memory of Buffy and Angel on the stairs. As if on cue, they heard her moans of pleasure wafting down the stairs. They looked over at that direction to see Riley's broken form moving down them.

"Shut up, Spike," Cordy snapped, "Anya, wanna tell us who the hell this guy is?"

"He's puts that mark on estranged lovers and it causes an uncontrollable lust," Anya stated simply, "If they don't have sex, they die."

"Die?" Riley said in a panic, looking around the room at the other anxious faces.

"Yeah, pretty much," she answered, sitting down on the red couch, "There was this one couple about seven hundred years ago. The girl thought her husband was being unfaithful and was a step away from making her wish when Animosus showed up and marked them."

"What happened?" Wesley asked, "Did they die?"

"They started humping like -" she started.

"Bunnies?" Cordy volunteered.

"No!" Anya answered, "Definitely not like bunnies. They humped like less scary mammals. Tigers or wolves or something."

"Tigers are less scary than bunnies, An?" Xander asked with a smile teasing his lips.

"Yes, bunnies are little and furry with their twitchy little noses..." she said with a sigh, "Anyway, Animosus marked them somewhere in the marketplace during the fall festival and they ended up humping like tigers in the middle of the parade."

"Anya," Giles said impatiently, "What happened? Did the couple perish?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know?" Cordy snapped, "Angel might die from this and you don't know?"

"And Buffy," Xander said with a glare.

"Whatever," Cordy sighed, "What do you remember?"

"The husband went into the carnival looking for his wife. He found her looking at dresses and he ripped the front of her dress away right there and began sucking on her breasts..."

"Anya," Giles interrupted, "Let's not get off track."

"What? That's what I remember."

***

you seek up an emotion and our cup is overflowing
you seek up an emotion, sometimes your well is dry
you seek up a big monster for him to fight your wars for you
but when he finds his way to you, the devil's not going

Riley wandered into the kitchen, searching for alcohol to drown his sorrows in and found Spike in there drinking it. His hand was wrapped around the neck of a bottle of single malt scotch. Spike took a deep swig and smiled at Riley before wiping his wet mouth with the arm of his red shirt.

"Looks like you need a drink too," Spike said, before taking another swig.

"Yeah, wanna share?" Riley said, irritated that he had to share the kitchen and the liquor with another fucking vampire. Spike pulled a glass from the cupboard after opening several to find them and set it roughly on the counter. He tipped the bottle and splashed several drops on the chrome counter as he filled it.

"Good shit," Spike said, not bothering to hand Riley the glass, "Angelus always chose the best of everything - best liquor, best blood...best women."

"Shut the fuck up, Hostile 17," Riley said, using his Initiative number in warning.

"Oh, sorry, mate," Spike said, his words starting to slur as he gulped down more, trying to arrest the memory of The Slayer's spread thighs wrapped around his Sire. He only wished Angel had ripped her shirt away so he could have caught a glimpse of the breasts he suspected were as perfect as the smell of her arousal.

"Whatever," Riley said, downing the glass and slapping it back on the counter in a demand for a refill.

"Yeah, guess you're gonna need a lot more," Spike said as moans of mating got louder from upstairs. He filled the boy's glass again, glad he had worn a shirt that covered his obvious arousal at the situation, "to forget my Sire's up there nestled inside your girlfriend."

"He's your Sire?!"

"Yeah, known the Poof for my whole vampire existence. Annoying, isn't he?"

"This just keeps getting better and better," Riley said into his glass.

***

hey, my friend, it seems your eyes are troubled
care to share your time with me? would you say you're feeling low and so
a good idea would be to get it off of your mind

"Okay," Willow called out as she entered the lobby with Tara in tow, their hands filled with bags of supplies, "Got the curse stuff."

"Good," Cordy said, "Now maybe we all won't die."

"Anyone know if he's t-t-turned yet?" Tara asked, bashfully.

Cordy cocked an ear in a flourished response, pretending to strain to hear the loud moans gliding down the stairs, "Doesn't sound like they're in danger, unless he's fucking her to death."

Spike, who entered the room with a drunk Riley following, laughed heartily.

"How long has it been" Willow said, "Since...it started?"

Xander looked at his watch, "About three long hours."

Xander dropped his hand and took hold of Anya's, reminding himself that he had long since gotten over his ?crush' on Buffy and this was just fear for her life or of the danger but he knew that wasn't true. He knew a little part of himself would always love his powerful little friend and nothing bothered him more than the idea of her with Angel. Why she would choose a bloodsucking fiend over him - or Riley for that matter - was baffling to him. Angel never made sense to Xander. During the whole course of his friendship with Buffy and all the weird things that had happened, all the life threatening events, all of the long nights of fighting and research, the only thing he really didn't understand was Buffy's love for a vampire.

Yeah, okay, Angel had a soul. Xander would even begrudgingly admit that he was a nice guy most of the time. And sure, he was an attractive man, but what was it about him that made her go all gooey whenever he was around? Why didn't she understand that loving him was against the laws of nature? He was a danger to the world when he was with her and yet, all she wanted was to be with him. Xander snuck a glance at Riley, who was nursing a scotch, his eyes haunted and filled with pain. This was going to be long spiraling journey in the land of pain. He was sure about that.

***

forget about the reasons and the treasons we are seeking
forget about the notion that our emotions can be swept away
forget about being guilty, we are innocent instead

Angel was lost in the chainlinked moments. Buffy's constant arousal filling his nostrils was unbearable next to his constant arousal. Vampire stamina was inhuman and he knew that he could make love to her all night and then some, but this was different. After he found release, he was immediately hard again with no suggestion and no contact. He didn't even need her to look at him and he was ready for more.

touch your lips just so i know
in your eyes, love, it glows so
i'm bare-boned and crazy... for you.

Buffy, even though she, like vampires, had more strength and stamina than normal humans, was also amazed at her own lust level. She wanted Angel. That was no secret and she would have had a sex fest with him when they reunited under normal circumstances, but this feeling of need was feral, grating...it was incredible. She was dripping with need and every time he pulled himself from her steaming depths, she was desperate for him to return. Every muscle of her human body was sore, her skin was bruising from their desperate, needy movements and she was exhausted from fighting all night the night before and making love to her ex-lover all day long, but she had no interest in sleeping or moving away from him, even for a second.

Nothing needed to be explained to them. They understood instinctively that if they moved away from each other, they would die. It was that simple. The only time the pain stopped ebbing was when they were mating and fulfilled. Mere contact was not enough. The most intimate contact was the only thing saving them from death.

Buffy turned away from him, keeping a hand on his leg and she rose on her hands and knees, wiggling her firm ass at him in invitation, as if he needed it. A second later, he was on his knees behind her, slipping into her. He waited a moment, pausing inside her, teasing her with his stillness. She whined and flipped her head, golden hair flying to one side as she turned to look at him. He focused on her face - her green eyes glowing with passion, her face flushed from exertion, her lips swollen.

"You're stunning," he said as he moved inside her once more.

"So are you," she said, pushing back against him, meeting his thrusts. He found purchase on her narrow hips and used them to pull her back against him.

***

everybody asks me how she's doin', has she really lost her mind?
i said, i couldn't tell you, i've lost mine

"Listen," Gunn said, looking toward the stairs, "Hear that?"

"Hear what?" Cordy answered, in a state of perpetual fear and irritation.

"Nothing," Gunn answered, "I don't hear anything at all, that's my point."

"Yes," Wesley said, nodding, "What if that means..."

"Buffy is not dead," Willow said, wishing she could make confidence fill her voice.

"How can you be sure?" Riley said, taking a step near the stairs.

"Oh bloody hell," Spike said,"I'll go check."

"You're not going up their to help your Sire kill my girlfriend," Riley said, grabbing Spike's arm.

Spike pulled his arm away roughly, "I got the chip, you idiot. Can't kill the little bint."

"I'm not sure it's a good idea for you to go up there," Giles agreed, looking from his book toward the stairs with concern, "Besides, according to this, theoretically even Angelus would not be able to kill her."

"How can you be sure?" Willow asked, looking up from her book, "It says here that Animosus, meaning "ardent, passionate, furious love" is a devoted servant of Aphrodite."

"Aphrodite is the Greek Goddess of Love," Wesley added.

"Yes," Giles said, "His mark pushes estranged lovers to...eh... reunite their passion. But it also says that if they separate the result is death, so in theory, he couldn't kill her or he would die."

"Ooookay," Xander says, "So ya think that Angel knows that or is he just gonna find out after he kills her?"

"Instinctively, he should know," Giles offered weakly.

"So we don't know if he will kill her or not," Gunn said, hopping onto the counter and looking around room.

"Not really," Wesley said, clearing his throat, "The Mark keeps them together but with no soul, Angelus does not feel the same sort of love. This situation is interesting because without a soul, the spell might not even effect him."

"So, no one knows anything, " Riley barked, "No one knows if he's up their screwing my girlfr...Buffy or sucking her dry!"

"Pretty much," Cordy snapped back.

"?Kay," Spike said, nodding sarcastically, "Anyone else here think they're going to be able to stop Peaches if he's lost his bloody soul?"

"Good point," Xander said, raising a finger, "I vote Spike goes up there."

They all mumbled in agreement, reluctantly, and Spike turned toward the stairs, smirking. He practically danced up the stairs, free to spy on and hopefully catch a good glimpse of the Slayer's naked body. He licked his lips as he neared the quiet room. He was sure she was still alive because he could smell her sex with his unearthly nostrils. He prowled down the hall and peeked inside the room.

Spike sucked in an unneeded breath as he looked inside the room. The Slayer was kneeling on the floor and between her full lips was his Sire's large cock. He leaned against the door across the hall and watched, entranced by the sight of her small hand gripping the base of his cock, her naked body available to his gaze. He looked over the side profile of her perfection. She was lovely, just as he knew she would be. Her pink tongue darted out of her mouth as she licked the underside of his cock, illicting a low moan from Angel before she took him in her mouth once more.

From his vantage point, Spike could see the open wound on her throat, which obviously had been reopened several times during the hours they had been making love. The strong smell of her blood was coming from the room mixing a delirium cocktail when her arousal was stirred in. He remembered the times that he had with Angel and Dru. He longed to boldly enter the room and kneel behind her...

this, i admit, taste so good, hard to believe an end to it
smell, touch, feel, how could this rhythm ever quit

Spike knew every dream he had for the rest of his long unlife would have this memory tucked inside it. Her blonde head bobbed over Angel's lap and she turned her green eyes up to look into the lust-filled eyes of her lover. He met her gaze, his mouth parted with no breath escaping it.

"Baby, I'm going to..." he whispered, arching slightly against her while his knuckles clutched the bedclothes in an attempt to control himself. She sucked him harder and moved faster against him in response to his words. He spilled his seed inside her sultry mouth with a silent growl, his whole body shaking.

Angel, recovering quickly and already hard, pulled her onto his lap and slipped himself inside her, smiling broadly at her moan before kissing her urgently. Through his peripheral vision, Angel finally saw his Childe voyeuristically watching, casually sipping from his bottle of scotch.

"Spike!" Angel said, with a growl.

"Calm down, Peaches," Spike said with disappointment of being discovered as Angel swept the blanket that had fallen to the floor around his lover's naked body, "Just checking to see if you are still soul-having or not."

"He's fine," Buffy said between clenched teeth. Her vaginal muscles squeezed Angel deeply inside with her anger at the intrusion and Angel's eyes rolled to the back of his head. She was going to kill him if she kept that up.

"Get out," Angel said, standing with her still around his waist, "And don't come back."

Angel slammed the door loudly in Spike's face and looked at the beautiful face inches from his own. He kissed her lightly and turned, strolling back to the bed.

"Sorry, love," he whispered as he lowered her to the bed and watched her hair fan the pillow.

"It's okay," she whispered as he began moving inside her in long, slow thrusts.

"God, I love you," he said, "You're a dream...a miracle"

She reached around him and slide her hands over his firm behind, squeezing him as she pressed him against her. "I'm real," she said raggedly, "You still have a soul. You're the miracle."

***

you walk to me like wine, comes to this mouth
grown tired of water all the time
you quench my heart, and quench my mind

Spike stood in the hallway looking at the closed door and listening as they moaned together in rhythmically. There was no justice in the world, he thought as he turned to move back toward the stairs. If there was an ounce of fairness anywhere, he would in there sipping The Slayer. He lost Dru because of those two and the least he could have been given was beautiful goddess behind that closed door. But no, Angel always won. He hated that damn pansy. Spike hated Angel with the obedience that only perfect evil could provide. He was torn between wishing Angelus emerged and hoping he didn't. Believe it or not, he hated Angelus even more than he hated Angel.

He took a long gulp from the bottle of courage in his hand before he swaggered down the stairs to meet the questioning gazes of the white hats below. He smiled at them and of course, since he was evil, none of them knew what his happiness meant.

"Well," Cordy demanded.

"The great Poof still has his soul," Spike said with a sigh, "Which is a shame." Spike lowered his eyes to a ragingly jealous Riley, standing in wait.

"Why's that? You want Buffy to die?" Riley shouted, feeling like he had left his sense of control somewhere else.

"No," Spike said, walking past him to seat himself on the couch, slouching lazily, "Just was wondering what Slutty the Vampire Slayer would have looked like if she was sucking Angelus' cock instead of Angel's."

Spike didn't have time to move away, being weighted down with liquor, before Riley's fist came in contact with his jaw. Blood burst from his lips and he stood, staggering back from the crazy boy, "What? You asked."

"Shut up," Riley said, punching him again.

"Why? You wanted to know what I saw, didn't you?" Spike asked, licking the blood off of his lips, "Well, I'm telling you, your woman has a perfect little naked body. Guess she really isn't your woman anymore, huh?"

Riley hit Spike again. Then again and again, feeling only rage and jealousy that wasn't quelled by beating this vampire. He pulled a stake from his pocket and prepared to stake him when Giles stepped in.

"Riley," Giles said as Riley turned his delirious eyes toward his girlfriend's watcher, "This isn't the answer. Although, I wouldn't feel terribly upset if you staked Spike, you are killing a defenseless person."

"He's not a person," Riley said, clutching the stake in his fist.

"No, no," Giles said, "I suppose not, but it really isn't the point. Besides, we will need his help if Angel does revert to his former self."

Riley nodded dejectedly and wished with all of his soul that Angel would lose his, just so he could kill him. The only hope that he clung to now was that he would be able to stake the demon that was fucking his girl. She loved him and so he felt slightly guilty for his wish, but if there was no Angel to stand in the way, then there would be no obstacles for him to spend the rest of his life with her...if only he could forget what was happening now.

"Eureka," Wesley shouted as he looked up from a thick and dusty volume.

"Eureka?" Xander muttered, turning toward the bespectacled ex-watcher, "Isn't that a little cheesy?"

"The only way to reverse the effects is to remove the Mark of Animosus," Wesley said, barely looking up from his book.

"How do we remove it?" Willow said clutching Tara's hand and keeping herself near the circle she had created to perform the spell, in case Angel lost his soul.

"I don't know," Wesley said, sagging in his chair, "But now all we have to do is look for the answer."

***

you've got your ball, you've got your chain
tied to me tight, tie me up again.

"My whole body hurts," Buffy complained as Angel rested his head on her heaving chest.

"Sorry love," he said.

"Don't be sorry," she said, smiling softly at the top of his dark head, "I'm not. Just letting you know that when this is over, I'm not going to be able to walk for three days...maybe more."

"Then I'll carry you," he said, moving his head to look at her, his hair tickling her left nipple with his movement.

"Carry me now," she said, "I wanna take a shower."

He languidly unfolded himself and lifted her into his arms easily. He caught her lips as he walked to the bathroom. He stepped into the shower and set her down on her unsteady legs. He turned on the shower, while holding her hand and turned his face into the warm spray. He sucked a tempting nipple into his mouth as he turned back around and kissed down the valley between her breasts.

"Perfect," he mumbled as he lowered himself to his knees, kissing down her stomach before lifting one of her legs and tossing it onto his shoulder, opening her to his gaze.

"Angel," she sighed as he licked her sore, aroused clit. Can a person die from orgasms? If they could, she was heading there and quickly. She was torn between going back to the bed and sleeping for 18 hours and pushing against his mouth. She chose to writhe beneath his talented lips and tongue, curling her toes as the water danced over their bodies.

***

we're strange allies with warring hearts
what wild-eyed beast you be

"It's a pretty simple ritual," Giles said, rubbing the bridge of his nose and squeezing his weary eyes shut for a second, "Willow it looks like you're going to have to take a second trip to the magic shop and get a few more supplies."

"Actually," Xander said, "I think the Willow should stay here with Tara. We might need a little witchy help if Angel loses his soul."

"Thank you, Xander," Giles said with a genuine, tired smile, "That's true. Would you and Anya like to go get the supplies?"

"Sure," Anya said, a sexy smile fluttering over her pretty face. She pulled the list of supplies from Giles' hand and headed toward the door, anxious to be alone with Xander after long hours of listening to moaning from upstairs.

"The problem is," Giles said looking toward the stairs, well worn from glances that kept stealing that way, "Why hasn't Angel lost his soul already?"

***

look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster
you know you went off like a devil in a church, in the middle of a crowded room
all we can do, my love, is hope we don't take this ship down

Upstairs, fresh and clean from the shower and back in the warm bed with Angel, Buffy was wondering the same thing, "Angel, why do you still have your soul?"

"I don't know," he said to The Slayer laying over the heart that she hoped she wouldn't have to drive a stake into.

"Do you think whatever spell we're under has something to do with it or maybe you're...anchored now," she said, deep in thought.

"I wish I knew," he said, smoothing his hands over the lines of her body.

"Maybe...we can be together now," she offered. He moved flipped the weight of his body over hers and moved inside her again, "Let's just have now...for now."

She relented with a sigh, opening for her lover. He didn't want to think about what would happen when they broke the spell. She really didn't want to think about it either. That path lay littered with sorrow and badness. Instead they immersed themselves in the happiness of the present and left all the possibilities and lack thereof, outside of the borders of safety in their minds. Angel couldn't think about losing her again, when he'd only just gotten her back and inside Buffy's cluttered mind, she couldn't grasp the idea. It made her ache inside. It would only be harder the second time and this time she would be leaving. The miles to Sunnydale were literally the road to hell and back to world where unhappiness was her constant companion.

***

it's haunting me, haunting me. leaves us here to get out.
though i don't believe, i don't believe this flavor in my mouth
is from my tongue alone. so bitter I wanna spit it out

Riley sat slumped on the floor in the corner, nursing his glass of scotch unable to make the tortured thoughts go away. Buffy was upstairs making love to a demon, a vampire, and she loved it. She loved him. The spell forced them to be together but it didn't force her to love him. He knew that the words she spoke before were not caused by the spell. The truth should have been easy to grasp: she didn't love him, she loved the demon. But it wasn't easy and it went down like granite.

Spike wandered over to the broken boy. "I think she's coming right now," Spike said over Buffy's screams.

"Why can't you leave me alone?"

"Cause it's fun and I'm evil. And bored," Spike said truthfully. No one else felt the pain he was feeling except for the shell of a man sitting drunk against the wall. The moans of passion coming down those stairs were like splashes of holy water on his skin. He wanted to hurt someone but couldn't. At least not physically. The second best thing to do was emotionally slash at Riley, whose sorrow fed him in an endless stream.

"Go away," Riley sputtered but held out his glass for Spike to fill. They were on their second bottle and it was the last in Angel's supply. Spike filled Riley's glass halfway, hoping they found the spell and got the hell out of there before they ran out of scotch.

"Get over it," Spike said, lowering himself to the floor, "She's gone. There's nothing you can do to get between them now. Believe me, I've tried."

"Why are you still talking to me?" Riley said, closing his eyes, "She's under a spell. When it's over..."

"Keep tellin' yourself that," Spike's voice taunted, "Maybe you'll bloody believe after awhile."

"Got the stuff," Xander said, walking in. No one needed to ask them why they were gone so long. In fact, no one needed to look at their flushed bodies, either, to figure it out. Xander handed the bag of supplies to Willow and Tara, who peeked inside.

"Now what?" Cordy said, sitting up from where she had fallen asleep on Gunn's shoulder.

"There are words to be spoken and a potion to prepare," Giles said, "But someone's going to have to go in the room with them to do it."

All eyes looked at the floor. Even Spike had no interest in doing it, even though he would love to see Buffy naked again. Willow finally spoke up, "I can do it. I'll have to say the spell anyway."

Everyone nodded in agreement. Willow and Tara worked for a half hour to put the spell together correctly and then doubling over the text to make sure it was right, Willow stood and sighed.

"Okay," she said in her smallest voice, "Wish me luck."

"Good luck," several voices muttered in staggered reluctance as the redheaded witch made her way up the stairs. Willow paused outside the door and knocked firmly.

"Buffy?" She said, through the oak barrier.

"Willow?" Buffy answered.

"Yes," Willow said, "I need...um...well, I have the potion to cure you guys but I have to be in there with you to do it. Can you...cover up or somethin'?"

"Just a minute," Angel's low voice rumbled through the door.

Buffy and Angel got beneath the covers quickly. They looked at each other briefly and Buffy's eyes filled with tears.

"It's okay, love," he said, kissing her forehead, "It's going to be okay."

"Okay, Willow," Buffy called out, filled with tangible sorrow. Buffy's hands were shaking as one held Angel's under the covers and the other held the blanket against her naked chest. Willow walked in slowly and looked over at them.

"This should only take a minute or two," she said, sprinkling a ochre tinted power around them and the bed. Settling on the floor with a red and a white candle burning before her, she began chanting a spell in Greek. The foreign words were halting and slow coming from her mouth but she completed them without error.

Angel smiled gently at her, knowing she was just as uncomfortable as Buffy in the awkward situation. He was proud of Willow's pronunciation of the Greek but couldn't find a way to compliment her without sounding condescending, so he kept silent. Angel and Buffy felt a sharp pain cover them and looked down at their clutched hands to see the marks disappear.

"It worked," Buffy said, the tears spilling onto her cheeks, "What if he loses his soul now?"

"Well, we've already got the spell ready just in case," Willow admitted, "Just...um...let me know if we need to do it."

"Thanks Willow," Angel said quietly.

"You're welcome. Okay, I'm gonna go back downstairs," Willow said, backing out of the room. Before Buffy or Angel could say anything else, the door closed behind the rapidly retreating form. Buffy laid down and gave into the sobs that racked her body. Angel laid down with her, curling his body and arms around his beloved, feeling tears form in his own eyes. Exhausted sleep took them over after a short time and they laid entangled in the arms of their soul mate, while their friends waited in the lobby below.

***

why do i beg like a child for your candy?
why do i come after you like i do?
i love you. wherever you are, i swear, you be my angel. you...

"Angel," Buffy said, turning over in his arms when she awoke with a start several hours later. She looked over his peaceful sleeping face and repeated his name. He would have looked dead to anyone else but that thought never came in her mind when she saw him sleeping.

"Angel," she repeated, touching his cool face. She watched as his eyes fluttered open. He gathered her against him and tried to close his eyes again. He was exhausted and wanted to continue sleeping her arms instead of facing the reality that faced them.

"Angel!" she said loudly, making him open his eyes again.

"Hi baby," he said, opening his eyes with a sleepy smile.

"I want you to make love to me," she said simply.

"What?" He said, shocked, "You can't...well, you have to be..."

"I am," she said, answering his unfinished question, "But I want to know if your soul is permanently intact. I have to know."

"This is not a good idea," he said, already feeling his arousal returning.

"Yes, it is. I need to know and Willow has the spell ready downstairs. She can recurse you if it happens."

"Buffy," Angel said protesting but she silenced him with a passionate his. He relented, kissing her back deeply. He wanted to know too but he was afraid. Serious choices would have to be made either way.

"I love you," she said as he entered her gently.

"I love you too, Buffy," he answered, kissing her neck and moving to her sensitive nipples. He knew he never would be able to get enough of her. He could make love to her like this forever and he would still want more.

Their lovemaking was a desperate scream inside their souls. The scream was a warning, threat and promise of sealing or destroying their future together. Buffy orgasmed again and again beneath her eternal lover, each release a cry for salvation. She felt his own climax drawing near, having memorized his movements. She bared her throat for him but was physically stood up.

"Angel," she whispered, "I want you to drink."

"I shouldn't," he said, his eyes flashing yellow.

"If this is the last time, I want you to have it," she said, the tears betraying her fear of losing him, "Everytime you taste my blood, you become more a part of me. Please."

He consented, climaxing as her life's essence flowed across his tongue.

my darling heart, won't you please give in?
i may be strong but i want you back again

They waited for a long time in each other's arms waiting for his change to come, unspeaking. The clung desperately to each other, holding fear in both hands. Finally, Buffy spoke, "You're anchored."

"I'm not sure," he said honestly.

"I am," she said, "It's been, like, three hours and you haven't changed. You're not going to. You're fine."

"Maybe," he said, hesitantly.

"I don't want to be apart anymore," she said.

"Buffy, we've already been through this," he said, trying to puff his words with confidence but fell short.

"No, we haven't," she said, "Your soul is intact now."

"That doesn't change anything. I'm still a vampire."

"So what? Who cares? I want to be with you," she said, her eyes pleading, "That's all I ever wanted. Angel, I'm only happy when I'm with you."

"Me too," he said and it was true. That was why he left to begin with. She made him too happy, she was too tempting, "But you need to-"

"Shut up! God!" She said, "I love you and you love me. There's nothing else, just being together. I don't care about a fucking normal life and if you say it, I'm gonna kill you. I'd rather do that than live through you leaving me again!"

"Buffy, I'm not trying to hurt you," Angel said, digging painfully into her eyes, "All I ever wanted was your happiness. I promise. I never want you to waste your life on me."

"It's a waste to be without you. What we have is true and real. Don't take it away, Angel. You said I make you happy. I know you love me. Stay with me, be with me...forever this time, for as long as I have to live."

***

look at me dreaming of you. all I could hope is to have you,
to have you walking with me. laughing so in love, we two
almost drunkenly i did imbibe of this fantasy of you and me

Hours passed slowly as the group had nothing to do but wait for Buffy & Angel to come downstairs. They waited for a sound, a scream or footsteps, but were granted none. The silence was crushing Riley deeper into the floor that each second passed without her.

"What the hell is taking so long?" Riley said, ripping his planted feet from the floor to pace, "Why hasn't she come down here? Are you sure the spell worked?"

"Y-yes," Willow said, shocked at the anger flying at her from Riley's normally kind eyes, "Buffy seemed...upset. Maybe they're talking."

"Yeah, they have a lot to talk about," Xander agreed.

"She was worried that when the spell broke, he would lose his soul."

"Oh bloody terrific," Spike spouted from his place on the floor, "Last thing I need is my Sire tramping around in here."

"We still can perform the spell if that happens," Tara said quietly.

"Well I hope you can talk fast," Cordy added, "Cause he could kill us all before you get half of that long ass incantation out!"

"I don't think we need be concerned," Wesley offered.

"Why?" asked Gunn, who was just as worried as everyone else that Angelus would come down from that room. He was ready to kill him but he wasn't ready to face The Slayer when he did.

"Because his soul is anchored," Wesley said. The statement got everyone's attention and they all stared at him waiting for him to finish. "I anchored it a couple of months ago."

"Why didn't you tell us?" Cordy said, punching his arm and then speaking loudly over his "Ouch." She punched him again as she spoke, "We've been worried all day about him coming down here to kill us and you knew the whole time!"

"Well," Wesley said, "I wasn't entirely sure that it worked. I didn't want to tell you in case it didn't."

"Why did you do that?" Willow asked.

"Angel was drugged by an actress and he reverted Angelus by the effects of the drugs. It was only for a night but it terrified me. He nearly killed us and I decided that we couldn't risk that happening again, so I looked for a spell to anchor his soul. I didn't want to have to face his soulless half again."

"You should have told Buffy," Xander shouted, moving toward Wesley.

"I wasn't sure..." Wesley said weakly.

"You should have told Angel," Giles said, "He deserved to know someone was performing dangerous magicks on him."

"Yeah, Wes," Gunn said joining in the ganging up on Wesley, "You should have told Angel, but I'm glad you did it."

"Me too," Willow said, with a gentle smile.

"Should have told Angel what?" Angel asked coming down the stairs, fully dressed and showered, holding Buffy's hand.

"Yes and what's with all the yelling?" Buffy asked. Her eyes falling on Riley's tortured ones.

"Finally," Cordy said, sagging back against the counter with a sigh.

"Are you two alright?" Giles asked.

"Yeah, we're fine. Why is everyone yelling?" Buffy asked again.

"I anchored your soul, Angel," Wesley admitted quickly.

"What?" Angel said, "Why didn't you tell me? Do you have any idea what you put us through?"

"Do you have any idea what you put us through?" Riley snapped. Everyone in the room knew what "us" Riley was referring to.

what you are is the beast in a lover's arms. what you are is the devil in the sweet, sweet kiss
what you are is missing a piece. what you are is a puzzle to me.

"That wasn't his fault," Buffy said, "The spell..."

"Whatever," Riley said, storming from the room. He knew it was over and he didn't want to wait to hear her say it out loud. She was holding Angel's hand. She wasn't forced to touch him anymore and she was still was. That was all the explanation he needed.

***

sleep to dream her. i know i'll miss her later.
wish i could bend my love to hate her, wish i could be her creator to twist her arms now

Buffy ran out into the sunshine after Riley and only then, did she realize that it was morning again. She was wiped out and starving, but she needed to take care of one little emergency at a time. Angel watched her go, knowing that he couldn't follow even if he wanted to. If she wanted to leave with Riley, he couldn't stop her. Not that he could ever stop The Slayer from doing what she wanted to do anyway.

"Riley!" she called. Against his will, Riley stopped. He didn't want to hear what she had to say but he needed to hear it. It would be the only closure he had to losing her.

"What?"

"I'm...I'm sorry, Riley. I never meant for this to happen."

"But you're going back to him anyway?"

"Yes," she answered, "I didn't want to hurt you."

"Too late for that," he said angrily, "I love you Buffy. But you don't love me, do you?"

"No, I don't and I'm sorry. I love Angel. I always have. I know it's not fair to you."

"Would have been helpful to know this before I fell in love with you. You could have just told me you would always love him." The word "him" sounded like a curse coming out of Riley's mouth and his eyes were filled with pain.

"I didn't know that I wouldn't be able to love you," she said, "I thought you could help me get over him. I care about you. I thought I could fall in love with you."

"But you couldn't."

"No."

oh, but the deed is done and the girl is gone
i see no faith that i have won

"Go back to your vampire and leave me alone, Buffy," Riley said, turning away and walking towards his SUV.

"Riley..."

"No, don't say anything else. You can't make it better." He climbed inside, gunned the engine and drove away. Tears washed over his face as he drove out of sight. He drove for three miles before he pulled over and gave into helpless sobs with one thought repeating itself in his mind - He had lost her.

***

my love, my love, we'll beat back the pain we've found
you know i mean to tell you all the things i've been thinking
deep inside, my friend, each moment the more i love you.

No one spoke to Angel or to each other as Buffy ran outside to catch Riley. Angel stood on the landing, looking out into the dangerous sunshine. If she didn't come back, he was going out there, he decided. He couldn't live with the pain of losing her. Not again. It was a dozen small steps to salvation. All this living with guilt, grieving, pain would be over. He watched the door as the seconds passed, feeling everyone's eyes clawing into his back. He waited, unable to focus on anything but the blinding light crawling through the glass.

Buffy jogged back inside and nearly collided with her lover as she hurried back inside. She stopped and looked up at him, drinking in his beauty and his uncertainty. He wasn't sure if the love pouring out her eyes was actually what he saw. Maybe she had changed her mind somewhere in the blinding day. They stared at each other for long moments until finally she said, "I'm back."

"Thank God," he said, the words gushing with emotion. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply. When they broke apart again, she smiled up at him, "Feed me. I'm starving."

He smiled back and they turned to face the crowd. "Can we keep the PDA to a minimum now?" Cordy asked, with a smile.

"Sure," Angel mumbled, "Um...sorry guys."

"Yeah, me too," Buffy said, "Anyone have any food?"

"Worked up an appetite, did we?" Spike said.

His last couple words were drowned out as the entire room chorused, "Shut up, Spike!"

blood through my veins for you
you alone have all of me
i give my world to you

The End.

Please let me know what you thought! Cheers, Tango

***

The Challenge

Courtesy of Soulgaluk:

Set in Season 5. Buffy, Riley & Angel are hunting a big nasty together in LA (reason B & R are here- up to you)When a man brushes part Buffy & Angel & leaves them with a small mark
(a la Vocah marking Cordelia) the "Mark of Animosus" the mark of estranged lovers causing an uncontrollable lust for each other -which is lethal to resist

REQUIREMENTS:

-Buffy & Angel unable to stop touching each other- literally!
-The Sunnydale Gang & A-Team teaming up together
-Spike constantly taunting Riley over Angel being with Buffy
-Buffy & Angel practically running to Angel's bedroom & staying there for over 12 hours *G* i.e. most of the fiction
-If Buffy & Angel aren't touching etc it physically hurts them
-Anya giving very in-depth descriptions of the symptoms of people suffering from Animosus's mark (all sexual)
-Cordelia, or Anya ID-ing the "man" as Animosus (literally meaning "ardent, passionate furious love") -a devoted servant of Aphrodite (Greek Goddess of Love) who has infected them. He pushes
past estranged lovers, re-uniting their passion which is so strong they cannot ignore.
-The lust will not go away unless they can remove the marks but they cannot get near Buffy & Angel, so they have to find Animosus & Aphrodite
-An NC-17 rating- big surprise
-The two teams must save Angel & Buffy without any help from Buffy & Angel
-Buffy & Angel coming out of the bedroom at the end complaining about the noise...




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