The Space In Between

Author: Mia

i wrote this as a request for my friend hannah for her birthday. it is my first and only buffy/angel story, and it's been quite a few years since i watched btvs, although i recently re-watched Angel, so i apologize if the timeline seems a little off. this is supposed to take place after angel again loses his soul in "the beast", and it's just a short, smutty one shot that plays off something Darla said in "the prodigal" about hearts and also playing with the idea of angel's curse, how he loses his soul, and what would happen if sort of the opposite happened. hope you enjoy, and please review if you like it or have suggestions, otherwise I probably won't try this again. ;)

The space in between.

One shot.

The night is cool despite the earlier heat of the day. A breeze ruffles the leaves of the trees, the moon glows radiantly alongside the stars, reflecting onto a simple house on a quiet street. Upstairs, in the back bedroom, a woman sits, her blonde hair pulled back to reveal the delicate lines of her throat, a small silver chain wrapped in her fingers, a cross dangling from her hand slightly swaying.

And outside, hidden in the shadows beneath the window, a demon watches.

The window to her bedroom is open; the curtain flutters softly with each shift in the air. His eyes drift across the room, finding her standing in front of a desk, her back turning towards him. She is dressed for bed, wearing only a thin robe against the night chill, her feet bare.

He pushes off from where he is lounging against the sill of the window, clearing his throat, and she spins quickly around in surprise, her eyes wide, and his eyes fall to the delicate cross still clutched in her hand.

"Angel."

"Buffy," he says quietly. Glancing at his feet, he avoids her eyes for a moment longer, knowing it is what she would notice first, what could give him away. And he is in the mood to knock her off balance a bit before he bats her around. She's always been so easy to toy with her heart is too exposed, she still has not learned how to properly guard it from him.

"I needed to see you," he says softly.

"II had this feeling you would show up," she whispers. "I could feel you, somehow, knew you were close."

He raises his eyes at her words, trying to stifle his amusement, keeping his expression passive, the way that he would, tried to look at her the way he would. "Oh?"

She nods slowly. "I needed to see you, too. I was hoping to ask you something."

He sees the flash of vulnerability in her eyes as they meet his, and he feels the laughter he's been holding back attempting to fight it's way out. Poor girl.

Still playing the game, he wets his lower lip nervously. "What's that?"

The light suddenly winks out of her eyes and something else replaces it. "Where's Willow?"

Game over.

His eyes hardening, he cocks his head to the side. "And why would I know that?"

"Where?" she demands flatly.

Shoving his hands casually into his pockets, he smiles wolfishly at her. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

She tightens her fingers around the small cross in her hands and he smirks. "You think that's going to make a difference?" He takes another step in her direction. "I've waited a long time to see you again."

She shakes her head, her eyes suddenly icy. "If you touch one square inch of her, I'll kill you," she says, her voice low.

"I doubt that." He walks towards her slowly, and is rewarded with her taking a step back. "When did Wesley call you?" he asks lightly.

"About three hours ago," she says stiffly.

He smiles warmly at her. "Well, now, that was considerate of him, wasn't it?" he asks sweetly. "What did he ask you to do, Buff? Contain me? Kill me?" He pauses to consider. "No, that's right, he doesn't want me dead, now does he? He needs me. So I guess murder's off the menu." He grins suddenly. "At least, it is for you."

Her hands fist tightly at her sighs, and he grins at her reaction, finally seeing her begin to squirm.

"He told me to stay away from you," she says, her voice cracking. "He told me I couldn't kill you, that they need you." She looks him in the eye. "He told me he would take care of it."

He smirks, amused. "You've always been kind of a shitty liar, huh?"

She sighs suddenly, her eyes going flat. "Get out of here, Angelus. I'm too tired for this."

Irritated by the shift in her mood, her unwillingness to respond to him, he lowers his voice to a dangerous tenor, fixing her with a cold stare. "But I'm not." He takes another step towards her. "I'm ready to play."

She swallows, and he sees it finally, something that looks and smells like the beginning of fear, and he laughs softly. "You know I just love to play with you, sweetheart. You're always such a good sport."

The cross suddenly falls from her fingers, shining lightly in the dark pattern of the oriental rug and he chuckles. "Oops."

She drops down quickly, her robe splitting open slightly, revealing more white skin, and his eyes sparkle as she scrambles for the necklace. "It's okay, really. I've found people often get clumsy when they know they're about to be tortured."

She suddenly looks up, a matching glint in her eye, and her fingers grab the edge of the rug she has stepped back from, yanking hard.

His body sails backwards as his feet fly from under him, and his head cracks soundly on the wooden floor of her room, the world winking out in a flash of light.

Snapping the other cuff on his wrist, Buffy makes her way to the foot of her bed, checking again on the security of the bindings on his ankle. He has already stirred more than once she knew she had less than five minutes from the minute he lost consciousness.

Yanking again at the rope around his left foot, she takes a step back, running her hand through her hair nervously. She's crazy, she thinks. If this backfires, she's dead, and quite possibly, so is Willow and everyone else that matters to her. But it is often the case that the two of them are evenly matched in combat, especially with all the training he's done the past few years. She isn't sure if today would have worked out to her advantage she had needed a new plan.

She knows three things about Angelus with complete certainty. He doesn't like to be ignored, he loves when he smells fear, and he hates to feel anything that makes him remember having a soul.

Now, watching his head shift slightly on her pillow she swallows. No one unnerves her like Angelus, no one hits home quite so strongly. He lies with the truth, he plants doubt quickly and skillfully. She needs to stay focused, not let him throw her if she's going to have a chance.

His eyes finally flutter open and he frowns for only a second when he tries to sit up before fixing his eyes on her. Slowly, a sly smiles spreads across his face, the corners of his lips curving up in amusement.

"BuffyI didn't know you'd missed me this much."

She looks him in the eye. "I always miss you," she says quietly.

He blinks, as if momentarily thrown, but quickly recovers. "You know, all you had to do was ask," he says coyly. "I'm not just thirsty, I'm hungry, too. We could have worked out a little arrangement."

Steeling her nerves, she licks her lower lip and walks slowly to the bed, sitting on the mattress next to him. "I needed you to stay put," she says carefully. "You can be somewhatunpredictable."

He chuckles softly, the sound chilling. "Well now, I'm not sure that's entirely true. You can always bet I'll come to you when I'm feelingsoulless, " he finishes with a grin. He glances at his hands and feet. "Really, Buffhandcuffs and rope?" He shakes his head. "You know this won't hold me for long."

"Long enough," she says quietly.

"For the others to find Willow and she can work her magic? Not likely."

Instead of answering him, she reaches out slowly, placing a hand on his cheek, and he watches her with a bemused expression. He's about to open his mouth again when she dips forward, brushing her lips against his jaw, and she pulls slowly back to see his reaction.

The smile is still plastered on his face, but his eyes are no longer sparkling, they're like steel. "What, you want a kiss? Is that it?"

She trails her fingertips gently along his jaw in a caress, and she looks him in the eye. "I was thinking about this earlier."

"About me here?" He arches an eyebrow. "Oh, so was I, sweetheart. Believe me," he says, his voice laced with venom. "So was I."

Ignoring him, she lets her hand drift lower, falling to his chest. "I was wondering," she continues, "whether or not you'd ever been touched like this before."

He laughs, amused. "Little girl, you still haven't learned a thing about men, have you? I've had hundreds of women, thousands. In more ways than you can imagine...or want to."

She swallows, steeling herself. "That's not what I'm talking about."

He arches a brow, waiting, and she slowly slips a few of the buttons on his black shirt open, pulling back the cotton slowly. "I didn't mean touched," she says, sliding her hand down his torso slowly. "I mean touched like this."

He snorts. "Still a novice, I see."

She lifts herself up suddenly, placing a knee between his on the bed, hovering over him, and for the briefest of moments, she sees something unfamiliar flicker in his eyes doubt.

Holding on to that something, she dips down and presses another kiss to his shoulder, trailing her hand up his side softly. "Like this."

She hears it, the growl low in his chest, and, with her face hidden for the moment, she closes her eyes tightly, counting to three before moving up to his neck. "Or like this," she whispers, her lips grazing his skin gently.

He bucks, and she jumps back, and the growl is there again, low and menacing. Sitting back on her heels, she sighs. "I didn't think so."

He's angry suddenly, and his eyes narrow in a way that makes her blood run cold. "I don't know what it is you think you've discovered, but you're going to regret this futile little experiment of yours." He looks her straight in the eye. "I was in a good mood before, but you're starting to piss me off, baby."

She strokes his stomach lightly, and his eyes are now darkened slits. "I'll only make you scream longer" he promises, a sing-song quality still evident in his voice.

Swinging a leg over him, she settles herself calmly over his hips. He thrusts up at her in an attempt to buck her off, but she holds steady.

"No one's ever looked at you with anything other than fear or revulsion, have they, Angelus?" she asks softly. "Not when you're soulless, not when they realize who you are."

He looks amused again for a moment. "Your point?"

She allows a small smile to spread across her face. "You've never been touched lovingly in your long life without your soul."

He smirks, and she realizes he's willing to put up quite the fight. If he keeps her sparring verbally, he has time to disarm her, to infect her with words and doubt.

She drops her head down again, close to his throat, and she kisses him again, trailing her open mouth hotly to the lobe of his ear, whispering, "Or heard 'I love you...'"

He laughs, a low, menacing laugh, and again she clenches her eyes shut. "You're playing with fire, little girl."

She knows instantly when he's adapted, switching strategies, because he crudely pushes up against her hips firmly again, this time pressing his own body into hers, mocking her. "And what, you think love will bring the big bad demon to his knees? You really are as stupid as you look."

Ignoring him, she strokes her hand up his jaw, pressing back down with her hips in challenge. And even though it's dangerous, she brushes her lips across his own. "I do love you," she whispers.

Again he laughs mockingly. "You love something that no longer exists."

She pulls back slightly, meeting his dark, glittering eyes, shaking her head slowly. "You told me that once, when I was youngerwhen I was too young to know better."

He arches a brow, but his eyes remain humorless. "But now you're all grown up?" he asks with a chuckle. "Forgive me, how could I have made such a mistake?"

She finds herself getting angry along with him, giving her courage. "Angel isn't gone," she says quietly. "He's inside you, still, crouching, lying in wait to have something returned that belongs to him."

He throws his head back at her words, laughing in amusement. "Is that so?"

She grabs his jaw suddenly, jerking his head back, forcing him to look at her. "Yes. No matter what you tell me, I know the truth. The two of you are always tied, through the possession and loss of a soul. You've seen what he's seen, he knows and atones for what you've done. You influence one another. You lash out at who he's cared for, he tries to fix what you've broken. You're tied to one another, always."

He doesn't answer her this time, his eyes dark and ominous.

"And I accept that," she whispers. "I love an angel and a demon, and they live in the same body." She brushes her lips across his again. "I love you."

The growl returns, and he jerks his head viciously to the side, her lips falling from his, and so she trails them back to his throat. "I love you," she repeats.

He's furious suddenly, his muscles tightening and coiling to attack, and she prays his bonds hold. If not, he'll most likely kill her now, whether he ever intended to or not.

But his reaction has shifted the power, and she's suddenly in control. Continuing her assault, she alternates down his chest with open-mouthed kisses, and he pulls sharply on the cuffs that loop around his wrists and the bedposts, causing the frame to rattle, and she jumps slightly, catching her breath. She's playing a dangerous game, one that will burn her if she's not careful.

"What will happen?" she whispers, running a hand slowly over his hip. "What will the demon do, if he doesn't have fear to feed off of?"

He yanks at his cuffs again, and kicks once with a strong leg, jouncing her slightly, but she isn't deterred. He's angry enough now that this has to do something. She's out of options, she realizes.

Because he's right; she won't kill him. Not only has Wesley explained why they need him; his soul, once again, has been stolen from him. And she knows now that it is possible for it to be returned. Angel is only momentarily trapped, and he can come back, can keep fighting against demons larger than him.

She knows that she'll let him kill her before she kills him.

Trying to tell herself that it's Angel under her hands, Angel's skin she's kissing, she tries to pour every inch of love she has for him into her touch. She remembers the one and only night they spent together, remembers they way he had touched her, the way he had showed her with his body just how he loved her. She had been new to love, had never been in bed with a man before, never been touched in such a way, and she realizes this is her chance to return the favor.

Because to this day, there has been nothing, nothing like that night and the way he had touched her.

Moving back to his throat, she tries her best to keep her movements slow and calm and deliberate despite the continued thrashing of his body. He is straining again at his bindings, and the metal posts of the bed creak in response. She can see his eyes fall to where her robe has fallen open, exposing the line of her throat and the valley between her breasts.

She drops a kiss on his mouth soundly, and he lunges at her, growling fiercely, but she grabs his chin, holding him steady, gazing into his eyes that blazed with anger and resentment.

She could have doused him in holy water, burned him with crosses, but she realizes now that nothing she could have done to cause him pain would torture him quite so thoroughly as loving him. Since the day he crawled from his grave, everything living and breathing has feared and been repulsed by Angelus. To feel love was something his soulless body had never known; acceptance was something he had never experienced, not from a human.

She looks into his eyes, into the hollow where his soul usually lives, past the fury and the violence, and sees something she would have never imagined. It is Angel, fearful and quivering and without self-control. Because Angel has always still craved humans, has felt the tug from the demon that has residence in his body. But his guilt, his humanity keeps it in check.

Angel once told her that Darla had warned him the night he slaughtered his family that the heart of a vampire still felt the love that had been there while alive simple death couldn't take that away. Angelus has tortured her, killed and terrorized people that mattered to her, but his passion for her has always been evident. It is something even while soulless, he seems unable to escape.

And now Angelus is scared of her. Beneath the fury, she can feel it. Like him, she finds she can smell it.

"I love you," she whispers again, locking eyes with him firmly. "I love you."

And she kisses him again, fully, on the mouth, and even under his growl, she can finally feel a shift in him. He tries to keep his lips clamped firmly closed, and so she traces her tongue along the seam, gripping his chin more firmly, forcing his head gently but deliberately back, and when they finally part, she steals the opportunity.

He could bite off her tongue if he chooses, but his face remains human, he only keeps up the low, warning growl. His hips push up again, but she tightens her thighs around him, holding him still, and her free hand slides his shirt completely from his shoulder, her fingers lightly caressing his skin.

His growl turns into a moan as she presses down into his lap. He may hate her, he may want to kill her, but he still has the body of a man. And his defenses are being weakened with every touch, every caress, and she can feel now that he also wants her.

And despite the fact that his soul is missing, that it has once again taken flight or been captured, he is her first and strongest love. And she has been robbed of him over and over again, and had only one night when there should have been thousands.

She finds her own moans mingle with his.

She kisses him more deeply, and for the first time feels his tongue rubbing against her own, feels his own gasps into her mouth. She rocks against him, and he pushes into her, his arms straining even harder at his bindings.

She's losing herself in the sensation of kissing him. The passion bubbling in him is powerful, powered by rage and frustration, and his response is suddenly aggressive and his tongue thrusts into her mouth, his shoulders tightening again as he pulls at the cuffs. He is suddenly Angel but not, Angelus but not, lost somewhere in between her love and her nightmare.

She slides her hand between them, fumbling for the button and zipper on his pants and he thrusts his tongue again into her mouth as her hand reaches his skin, always cool to the touch even at the warmest core of his body.

He gasps, and she tilts her head to the side, deepening the kiss between them as her hand slides over him.

The sound surprises her, it comes out of nowhere, but when it does, time freezes.

It is the sound of steel snapping; of rope breaking, and, in horror, she realizes he is loose. It seems almost like slow motion as his hands grasp her hips, as he uses the weight of his body to roll with her, trapping her beneath him.

His head instantly falls to her throat, and she closes her eyes, forcing herself to picture Angel's face, to see the softness of his eyes, to see the way he loves her instead of this.

It's over.

But his teeth don't break her skin. His mouth opens against her neck, his tongue bathes the area, his lips move, but he doesn't bite.

It comes to her like a kick to the gut - he's kissing her.

She trembles with the force of the realization, her hands grasping his shoulders, and she swiftly becomes aware that he is tugging on her robe, trying to pull it from her body, to undress her. Too terrified to speak and break the spell he seems to be under, she only lets out a soft moan as he pulls the lobe of her ear in his mouth, the one part of him that seems surprisingly warm.

Letting her hands slide from his shoulders down his back, she feels his muscles undulate beneath her fingers, responding to her touch. His lips travel across her cheek and down her jaw, showering her face with kisses as his hands slide up her newly exposed torso, cupping a breast.

Gasping, she struggles beneath him, but not to escape. She's suddenly struggling to be closer, to surround herself with his body. His broad back is above her like a bridge, and as his mouth falls wetly to her collarbone and towards her breasts, she rises up to meet him, arching her own back to close the gap.

One of his hands slips to the concave of her lower back, lifting her up against him as his mouth fastens to the tip of her breast and she sucks in a breath.

"Angel"

The name finally falls from her lips in a rush and as soon as they're out she's struck with panic. What if he gets angry, if it breaks him from this sexual daze?

Instead, he gasps, his mouth hovering over her skin. "Buffy"

Tears spring instantly to her eyes at the sound of his voice. Again, it is a product of the two of them, crossed and stuck between Angel and Angelus. It is darker, gruffer than Angel's voice, but it trembles slightly as well; it is too uneven and unsteady to belong to Angelus.

His fingers suddenly slip inside the edge of her panties and she gasps at their coolness and strength. His mouth covers hers again, and his tongue sweeps through her mouth, stroking her.

He has no breath, yet he is gasping; no heartbeat, but she swears she almost feels one, feels a vibration beneath his ribcage, slow and fluttering. Her hand slips between them again, sliding into the opening she made at the front of his pants, and he groans loudly at her touch, dropping his head again to the hollow of her throat, pushing into her hand.

She has dreamed of this dreamed of being able to touch him again. In her scenarios, they had always found a way to keep his soul intact or to give him back his life, to make him human. They would make love hesitantly or sweetly, frantically or passionately.

It had never involved the reality of what was happening now that she strip naked and make love with a soulless demon. And she realizes suddenly, shockingly, that she wants to. She wants him inside of her, needs him. It's all she wants. The limbo he is in has made his touch urgent and intoxicating, has something that's normally dark winking slightly with light.

His mouth moves again down her body until he is between her legs, hooking her underwear and tugging it to the side, and she gaps, her hands flying into his hair, and within moments she's seeing stars, calling out, begging.

Her orgasm surprises her, sucks the breath out of her, and she arches her back and shuts her eyes tightly; better to feel.

He is in a frenzy, barely able to keep a thought for more than an instant as he touches her. Her fingers that have woven into his hair are tugging him upwards, pulling him towards her mouth, and he nearly collapses on her body, his tongue again tangling with hers.

Whatever she's doing to him, he's not stopping. He can't. His head is full of something that makes it impossible to sort out what's happening, and he feels pulses in his chest, slow, thrumming pulses that almost make it seem as if the blood in his veins is pumping.

And she's still touching him. She presses frantic kisses along his jaw and drops to his shoulder, her hands always roaming the broad expanse of his back. She caresses, strokes, and it only drives him further forward.

And she's calling his name. It's a name he hates, but falling from her mouth, it sounds sweeter. Gasped from her lips, it only makes him harder, excites him further.

She shoves his pants off his hips, and her hand is between them again, searching him out, and her small fingers curl around him suddenly, stroking him, and he groans, his lips hovering over the skin of her collarbone. Her fingers are so warm.

He remembers Angel making love to Buffy. He'd been there, had seen her that first and only time, known how she'd trembled against him, new to the experience.

This is different. She knows what she's doing, She's begging and twisting and clinging; she's touching him with a sure hand, stroking him until he swears he's losing his breath without actually having one.

And he hears it again, her whispered confession of love. Shocked, he has to fight back the words himself and so he drops his mouth instead to her breast. He knows Angel loves her; he shares the same heart with her lover, the same head, knows they share these things with one another whether he likes it or not. He can't forget Buffy any more than Angel can. She was the first woman to accept him with a soul, as he is, and now she is the first to accept him without one.

It's fear he's feeling, fear mixed with passion and lust and anger and it makes for a powerful cocktail.

She's tugging him closer to her again, and his large palm slides to capture her hip, slipping down her thigh and yanking it tightly to him, hooking her leg around his waist, pressing her warmth against him. It makes him groan, makes him grind his hips against hers, and, gripping the edge of her panties, he jerks hard and the lace tears apart and off.

Gasping, she clings more tightly to him, and he pulls himself up onto his knees, grasping her hips. She's stretched out before him, her skin glowing in the lamplight, her eyelids heavy with passion. And this time when he growls, she doesn't jump her eyes fall closed and she sighs. "Please," she whispers.

Her eyes fly open again when he thrusts into her and she cries out, the tips of her fingers curling into the sheets. He feels enveloped and surrounded by her warmth, and he realizes he wants to feel it up and down his body. Staying inside, he braces himself over her, sliding one hand under her back to jerk her body fully against him, the other supporting his weight.

Her hand comes up to rest against his cheek, and he presses himself into it, tilting his head to feel the heat against his cool skin. Her hand is trembling, but not with fear, and he feels a shudder pass through his own body.

It is Buffy who winds her legs around his hips, who pushes towards him, forcing him to move. Pulling back slowly, he thrusts more deeply inside her and she calls out to him, her back arching, her head falling back. Her hair has come loose from its ties, and spreads across the pillow like blonde ribbons, tangling over her flushed cheeks. She's saying yes, chanting the word over and over next to his ear.

She rides the rhythm of his hips easily, rising and falling with him, and his arms shake as he braces himself against her, his mouth is open against the skin in the valley between her breasts. He feels as if he's coming apart, the vibrations are getting stronger, faster, and he hears a rushing in his ears. He can hear her heartbeat pounding furiously beneath her ribcage, can hear her blood coursing quickly thorough her veins, but the warmth of her skin, the feel of her against him is better than anything he had imagined with her.

He feels the ardent, bowstring quivering of her hips, feels heat blossom wherever his skin touches hers, and for a moment, he actually feels really, truly warm for the first time in centuries. He can feel it, inside, slowly spreading, and sweat breaks out on his brow, glistens across his back and that's when it happens. One, two, three beats, loud and steady beneath his ribcage. Just three.

"Look at me!" she gaps. "Angel, look at me..."

Opening his eyes, he sees hers blazing, and again, it is a time for firsts, because he sees himself in them, sees a reflection. Frightened, he clamps his own lids shut again, covering her mouth with his, tracing the inside with his tongue.

And again, at the moment before release, she says the three words. And he can't, they seem to burn his throat, and so he just says, "Yes. Yes, yes"

Her belly heaves beneath him as she tries desperately to catch her breath. Swallowing, she curls her fingers more tightly into the skin of his broad shoulders, clinging to him still. His face is pressed against the side of hers, his own chest heaving, his eyes hidden from her.

He's made no move to hurt her. He has, in fact, not moved at all, or spoken. His body still covers hers, and she suddenly realizes how warm he feels against her. She trails a hand down his back and feels it a bit of warmth still remains, his skin only slowly beginning to cool.

She's terrified to move. It's over, and he's still loose, can attack her at any moment. His anger, fear and passion had all mixed below the surface, and she has no idea what he will do with it.

He shifts slightly, his arms still wrapped tightly around her, and finally he rolls onto his back, taking her with him, and her head comes to rest against his chest. Still too afraid to move or look at him, she lies silently, shivering slightly with the breeze still coming through the window on her damp skin. The clock next to the bed reads eleven twenty-five, the hands continuing to tick around the face.

He tugs the covers up and over them, covering her body.

"Sleep," he says quietly, and it's still his voice, darker, more shadowed, but she doesn't hear any threat laced in it. She closes her eyes, suddenly too tired to think or understand. In moments, she is asleep.

She hears the delicate sounds of birds, and as her eyes slowly come open, she shifts in the bed, realizing she is alone. Broken handcuffs dangle from the bedposts; rope lies in pieces on the floor. And the bed is empty next to her.

Sitting up with a start, the covers clasped to her chest, it only takes her a moment to spot him. He is sitting in a chair near the window, out of direct sunlight, his bare back facing her, the Gryphon that is tattooed on his shoulder blade eyeing her.

Swallowing, she wraps the sheet around herself slowly, slipping from bed. She takes careful steps towards him, and he finally raises his eyes to hers.

It takes only an instant for her to know he's back, that it's Angel sitting in front of her.

He shakes his head slowly, his voice barely above a whisper. "What happened?"

She sucks in a breath, holding the sheet more tightly around her body. "Whatwhat do you remember?"

He looks away, his gaze drifting back towards the window. "I woke up next to you."

She nods. The look in his eyes is unreadable, and she reaches out her hand, hesitantly settling on his shoulder, and he flinches slightly.

"Buffy, what did we do?" he whispers. "I don't even remember coming to Sunnydale, I don't remember leaving Los Angeles, I" His voice trails off and she sees he is able to answer his own question. His whole body tenses, and he turns suddenly, glancing at the bed, and his eyes shimmer as they meets hers, questioning.

She trembles, unsure how to explain. How can she tell him she made love with the part of himself he hates the most, that she did so willingly? He won't understand, he won't be able to know what it was that had happened.

And now he's back, and as she is about to open her mouth, the phone rings loudly, making her jump, and she walks slowly over to the bedside table, her eyes still on his form in the chair.

"Hello?" she manages.

"Buffy, where is he?" Wesley says quickly. "Did he come after you, have you seen him?"

She clears her throat. "I've seen him," she says quietly, and Angel turns to look at her, his eyes shining from across the room.

"We found Willow, she's alright."

She lets out a breath. "Thank god."

Wesley's voice sounds anxious on the other end. "She was able to perform the ritual. But I have no idea if it worked, where to find him "

"He's here," she interrupts. "It worked."

She hears the breath of relief that Wes lets out over the line, and he says quickly, "We'll be right there."

He's about to hang up when she suddenly says his name quickly and he pauses, waiting.

"What time?" she asks breathlessly.

"What time what?"

"What time? Did you find Willow?"

He's quiet for a moment. "Not until nearly three," he says quietly. "He'd locked her in a cellar in the warehouse district."

Three. Well after she'd fallen asleep, hours after they'd been together. She can barely breathe, and she hears Wesley calling her name through the receiver.

"We'll be here," she chokes out. "I promise."

Hanging up, she drops onto the bed, her head spinning. Looking at her with concern, Angel rises from his chair, approaching her slowly. "What's wrong?"

She can't even answer. She isn't the one responsible for the return of his soul - she knows this. It hadn't been Angel that had urged her to sleep hours before, not his voice that had spoken to her.

It was Angelus that had made love to her, Angelus that had lain next to her in her bed while Wesley searched for Willow. He hadn't harmed her; he hadn't run. And in the first hours of the morning, his soul had returned, leaving Angel by her side.

"What is it?" he repeats, his hand searching for hers, and she looks up into his face, her hand coming up to press against his cheek, and he presses into it as he had the night before, jarring her heart inside her chest.

She shakes her head, a tear slipping down her own cheek. "It's nothing," she murmurs. "I just missed you."

 

 


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