A Love Reignited In Hell
Author: Laure Alexander
Summary: For the IWRY marathon in years past I have posted fics about Buffy and Angelus in Hell. This is currently the fifth chronologically and is set after a story I wrote concurrently with this one. For those who have read this series (now titled "A Series In Hell") I think I've been pretty obvious that Buffy/Lucifer was inevitable, and in the story before this one, it happened, but this story is about Buffy and Angelus. While she is still with Lucifer at the beginning...well, read to see how that changes. For those new to the series, it is all up at AO3, A Series In Hell and it might help to read the other stories first, but this can be read if you know the following: Buffy and Angelus have lived forty years so far in Hell after he pulled her through Acathla before his soul was restored. While they fell in love, she made friends, kept assaulting the Gates to escape back to Earth, and intrigued Lucifer so much he made her a Baroness with her own lands. She's been with Lucifer for a year and hasn't seen Angelus in all that time, until he appears at the celebration of The Fall and asks her to dance.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters on Buffy; wish I did. Don't sue!
Word Count: 4566
Pairing: Buffy/Angelus; at the beginning Buffy/Lucifer but nothing graphic
Warnings: angst, Buffy being with someone else, language; dark fic only because it's Hell
Dedication: As always, to Margot who continues to encourage me in writing this series, who commented very quickly on my LJ post when I said I was writing more for this year's IWRY Marathon, and hopefully won't yell at me for the Buffy/Lucifer bits.
Seated at her dressing table, Buffy applied pale blue lipstick then blotted it carefully. Looking at her reflection, for just a moment, she didn't recognize herself.
The pale blue suited her. The color so cold as she was so cold.
An Ice Queen in Hell. Her unofficial title amused her when she allowed herself to feel any amusement. Most of the time she felt nothing but the chill inside her and the loss of innocence.
A hand cupped her shoulder, fingers smooth and long, free of callouses, warm but not enough to thaw her. Moving slightly, she forced the hand to slide away, down her back clad in pale blue silk cut and decorated to look like ice crystals.
Like all her clothes, he'd chosen it for her.
Her nickname amused him constantly, because most of the rare times she felt passion and heat was with him.
In Lucifer's bed.
"Ready, my dear?"
Nodding, Buffy rose and took his arm, her gown swirling around her ankles. He touched the large diamond hanging from a silver chain around her neck. The neckline of her gown plunged nearly to her navel and his fingers brushed the side of her breast, sending a shiver through her, but not one of cold.
"It suits you."
"It's lovely," was her soft reply, because it was, but she had to wonder why he kept giving her gifts like this.
He already had her.
Tonight was the celebration of The Fall and everyone who was anyone in Hell was attending the ball and, as always, they were the last to arrive.
Lucifer wore his traditional black tuxedo, timeless and elegant. Buffy was in the fashion of the day, which now reflected things in nature that didn't exist in Hell. As they stood at the top of the marble staircase, she noted females in dresses made to look like leaves and babbling brooks and ones covered in what looked like feathers and fish scales. The male's outfits looked even more outlandish, but then she was dressed like ice so she really couldn't comment.
As the majordomo introduced them as Lord Lucifer Morningstar, King of Hell, and the Baroness of Zilphat, Royal Consort, they started down the stairs.
She didn't really feel like the Baroness of Zilphat anymore--it had been just over a year since she'd been to her home in Hell--but she felt more and more like her other title every day.
The musicians began to play Lucifer's favorite waltz and Buffy let him sweep her easily into his arms and to the center of the empty dance floor. Effortlessly she followed his lead, her feet light, her hand in his equally light, but her heart was heavy, a boulder of ice growing bigger every night she spent with him.
Still, she smiled up at him and appeared to the whole court to be happy.
Lying had become as easy as breathing to her, and she was beginning to be afraid that recognizing when she was lying to herself was becoming more difficult.
As they circled the floor she noted some of her friends, all highly placed now at Court thanks to her, and a few sycophants she no longer bothered with trying to get rid of, and then she saw him, standing a few steps from one of the terrace doors, a bored look on his face, but his eyes.
His eyes were blazing with passion and frustration and were so familiar.
One year to this night she had been introduced to Court as Lucifer's consort. After nearly a week trapped in his bed, seduced by him until she was so confused, she'd broken and turned to him for what comfort he would give her, accepting him and her place with him.
And when Angelus had come to Court the night of the celebration of The Fall, desperate to find her, he'd heard that acceptance of her place in Lucifer's life, seen her take the King's hand and ring, and had turned and left the Court.
Over the past year word had come to Buffy of the vampire's ruthlessness as he had conquered the wild territories to the north of Zilphat, nearly all the way to the second Gate. He'd slaughtered thousands with his bare hands, the carnage becoming legendary even in Hell. His allies feared him as much as his enemies, and were relieved when he'd returned to Zilphat after nearly a nine month campaign of terror.
Lucifer made sure she learned of his slaughter of her people as well and how Angelus had turned out the sun and lived in perpetual darkness.
Buffy had begun to believe that she would never see him again and, yet, there he was, resplendent all in black, very modern--for Earth--dress, in complete disregard of the current customs.
When their eyes met and Angelus' narrowed, only forty years of dancing with Lucifer kept her from stumbling over her feet, but Lucifer noticed and his hands tightened just enough to draw her attention back to him.
"Shall I have him removed?" he murmured.
Unable to speak, she shook her head and they dropped out of the dance in front of the raised throne. Lucifer lifted the back of her hand to his lips, then led her up the two steps to her smaller gilt chair where he seated her, then went up one more step to his throne. Folding her trembling hands in her lap, Buffy stiffened her spine and tried to turn her attention to the other dancers, to her friends, most of whom were giving her concerned looks. She tried to smile back reassuringly, but when her two closest friends, Verlinka and Sumaki approached the throne, she knew she was failing.
They curtsied to Lucifer, waiting for his nod, then turned to her and took her hands, wordlessly drawing her down the steps and towards the punch bowls. Buffy no longer winced at the sight of the blood fountain and the punch with the floating eyeballs in it. There was always a small supply of fruit punch for her, and she reached for the ladle, but her hands were still trembling, and she let the silver spoon slip back into the pink colored juice.
"Powder room," Verlinka said, more to Sumaki than her, and they guided her out of the ballroom and into the sumptuous powder room. A glare at the few demonesses inside sent them scurrying out, and Sumaki locked the door as Verklinka gently pushed Buffy down onto a pink velvet sofa, then joined her as the other demoness drew a padded stool forward. "Is this the first time you've seen him?"
The question was gentle, they were both being so gentle, and a part of Buffy wondered when she'd become fragile to them, but she felt...fragile, so maybe she was.
Slowly she nodded, then buried her face in her hands and tried to breathe through the pain that was filling her chest.
For a year she'd tried so hard to forget Angelus, to live in the present with Lucifer, but forty years of love were hard to let go of. There was no balance there.
"Why is he here?" she whispered shakily into her hands, and leaned into Verlinka's hand stroking her back in soothing circular motions.
"Maybe he's come to win you back."
Sumaki snorted. "Lord Lucifer will turn him to dust with one loo--." The glower she got from the other demoness cut off the last word. "Sorry, Buffy."
"You know, there has been speculation as to the reason behind his campaigns."
"I don't want territory, that won't win me back, and there's no winning anyway. He doesn't want me, why would he? I became Lucifer's whore willingly."
"You're his consort," Verlinka snapped, her hand stilling. "Don't call yourself that."
Raising her head, Buffy gave both of them a tired look, then sank back against the sofa. "Angelus hates me and I hate myself. He's not here for me."
"Rumor has it that his bed has been empty this whole past year," Sumaki said. "And there have been plenty of demonesses and a few demons who have tried to take your place."
Buffy just shook her head and then took a deep breath and pushed herself to her feet. "I need to return to Lucifer."
"No, Verlinka. I appreciate your concern, both of you, but I made my bed, literally, and that's such a stupid saying, but Angelus isn't here for me. This is the celebration of The Fall. Every lord attends, and while he may not have a title, he rules a large area of Hell. It would be a show of weakness not to be here." Moving to the row of sinks, she wet her hands, then dabbed her fingers along her cold cheeks, pinching them slightly to bring color back to them.
A tube of her lipstick sat in one of the many baskets, and she reapplied it, then fluffed her hair and looked down at her hands.
No longer trembling.
She might have broken, but she wasn't completely weak.
Forcing a smile back on her lips, even if it was a false one, she turned to her friends. "Let's see what handsome demons will risk dancing with me tonight."
Sumaki laughed, but Verlinka's small smile was as false as Buffy's. She always could see right through her.
The ballroom was lively, several couples dancing to a fast tune, and lots of laughter and gossip topping the music. Stopping at the buffet table, Buffy popped a deviled quail's egg in her mouth, savoring the bite of pepper and creamy egg mixture. Thanks to her, human food remained popular at Court, and while the original source had been her estate, when she'd joined Lucifer in Dis, he'd simply opened up a new area for sun and rain and growing real food.
Buffy had never understood why she needed to eat or drink--or sleep or pee or anything. She was alive but she didn't age. No one knew if she could die and she was no longer willing to risk a true death.
Since her last attempt on the Gates, the night Lucifer had forced her into his arms and bed and made her his consort, she'd given little thought to trying again. That was over. Finding a way out of Hell was over. This was her life now and it wasn't a bad one.
She just wished she was happy. Contentment grew strained when memories of true happiness intruded, but she just didn't seem to be able to move past settling for that with Lucifer.
And he didn't seem to care.
Buffy was convinced that he would be just as pleased with her if she was fighting him every night instead of sitting regally at his side.
As she nibbled on a celery stick filled with blue cheese, she caught her lover's eye and sent him a smile, before skirting around the dance floor and back to his throne. Taking her seat, she looked over her shoulder, then reached back to take his hand briefly. "Will you dance with me again?"
"The next waltz," he promised, squeezing her hand and then releasing it, and she turned back to watch some of her friends dancing. Her feet tapped along with the beat, and she wanted to dance, but Lucifer refused to dance faster than a waltz. He said other dances were beneath him, and since he was a glorious figure that always made her heart leap when waltzing, she didn't argue.
A quick, country dance started and Sarfan, one of Gadreel's sons, half angel, half demon, bowed before Lucifer than smiled at her as he held out his hand. "Will you join me, my lady?"
Despite the pale green skin and red eyes, he had that ethereal quality that all angels had, the same quality that had always drawn her to Lucifer and, nodding, Buffy rose and took his hand to let him lead her onto the dance floor.
By the end of the dance she was laughing lightly from the gossip and jokes he shared, and flushed from the quick pace. Sarfan solicitously poured her a cup of her punch and some of one of the other ones for himself, then guided her to a mixed group of their acquaintances. Buffy was listening to rumors of a change in fashion to steampunk and wondering what materials she could find to create gowns, when there was a tap on her shoulder. She turned and nearly dropped her drink.
The music had changed to a French minuet. It was his favorite dance, and he was holding out his hand to her. His big, strong, oh so familiar hand.
Slowly she met his eyes and even more slowly nodded before setting down her glass, taking his hand and walking by his side to the dance floor.
She didn't dare look towards Lucifer as Angelus guided her into the dance.
He was still as graceful as she remembered and he touched her so carefully, as if she was a fragile doll. Buffy moved with him easily, muscle memory taking over to guide her through the steps, as her mind filled with memories of other dances, other touches. Confusion assailed her and she tried to meet his eyes, but all she could manage was to stare at his chin and wonder why he was dancing with her. She still felt cold, but everywhere he touched her with his normally cool fingers, she felt warmer.
When the music ended, they came to a stop, fingers brushing, and Angelus asked softly, "Can we talk?"
Again, Buffy nodded, but the lump in her throat was swelling and tightening and she wasn't sure she could utter a word. Still, she took his arm and walked with him out onto the terrace. A part of her wondered what the Hell she was doing and what Lucifer must be thinking, but the rest of her was curious and a bit scared and...god so much in love.
The love had never died and the memories of it were melting the ice inside her.
A few other couples were on the terrace but well away from them and Angelus sat them both on a wrought iron bench overlooking a garden of bleeding roses. When he let go of her arm, Buffy felt a moment of loss, but then folded her hands in her lap, mostly to keep them from trembling, and waited.
Still unable to meet his eyes.
"Do you love him, Buffy?"
That startled her. She hadn't expected that.
Actually, she hadn't expected any of this. At a loss for how to handle being so near him again, all she could blurt out was the truth. "No. I've never loved him." She stared into the darkened garden, hardly breathing.
He actually sounded hurt and she knew she'd hurt him, but Angelus rarely showed his own pain, even to her.
"I..." Her mind went back to that first week, trapped in Lucifer's bed, unwilling yet knowing it all had long been inescapable. It had always been lurking, his desire for her.
Hers for him as well.
"He lost his patience."
"Did he hurt you? Did he...force you?" His questions sounded almost horrified, and Buffy quickly shook her head, surprised he'd even think that because she'd never really thought Lucifer would have to hurt her. And he hadn't.
"No. No, he's never hurt me. He..." Taking a deep, shaking breath, she forced out the truth, "he seduced me."
There was a silence for a minute, and Buffy was just beginning to wonder if that was it, if he'd leave now, but then Angelus spoke again, painfully. "I knew all these years. I knew he wanted you and some day he'd have you."
So had she, no matter how long she'd tried to deny it. She closed her eyes briefly at a flash of pain, then dipped her head and clutched her fingers tighter together.
"I could have handled that, even that week, Buffy, but...you stayed with him. I searched for any word of you for seven days and finally came here to Dis, the first place I should have looked, but the last place I wanted to find you, and you were being introduced as his consort. I saw you take his ring willingly."
"I saw you, too" she replied rawly. Seeing him there, the moment of devastation on his face, had nearly broken her even more, but the ring was already on her finger and Lucifer was kissing the back of her hand and sending heat fluttering through her.
"I couldn't handle it. I didn't know what I'd done wrong..."
"Nothing," Buffy interrupted, surprised he'd thought that. "No, Angelus, no, it wasn't you. I was..." She hadn't liked thinking about the truth of her condition after that week. No, Lucifer had never hurt her physically, but he'd torn her down emotionally until all she could do was be his. When he'd asked her to become his consort, the first ever in his millions of years in Hell, she'd never thought to say no. "I was broken."
"I would have taken you back. I'd already forgiven you for being with him. I forgave you for that decades ago, before it ever happened. I loved you with everything in me, more than I'd ever thought possible. All I wanted was you."
The raw emotion in his voice sent tears to her eyes and before she could stop them, they were leaking down her pale cheeks and she was trembling from head to toe. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"I went mad," Angelus choked out. "I slaughtered and conquered, and lived only to fight. I drank so much blood, I no longer felt anywhere near the man I became for you. I even killed our own, not wanting any reminder of you, but I couldn't leave our home, despite the agony it caused me. I turned off the sun so I could live in total darkness, but it didn't help, and finally...I just...I just lost it and my demon reigned mindlessly for months." The memories of what he had done were obviously painful, but Buffy couldn't look at him, still crying silently.
After a few minutes of silence, his hand covering hers startled her out of her tears and she finally did jerk her face up. Angelus' expression was twisted with grief and loss and it was very familiar to her.
It was the look she caught glimpses of in her own mirror when her memories of happier times intruded into her life with Lucifer.
"Then...why are you here?"
"Because I got the invitation and it brought me out of it all, the morass of despair I'd wallowed in. I knew I had to see you, try to understand, so I could get past it and..."
She didn't interrupt, he simply didn't continue, but when his hand began to draw away, she slid her fingers through his and held on fast. "You want to move on?" That hurt and chilled her to the bone, but it had to be for the best.
Still, she didn't let him go.
"I thought that's what I wanted until I saw you," Angelus replied softly with a hint of something the opposite of despair in his voice. "I still love you. I want you back."
At that, their eyes met, hers startled, his full of pain and love, the chocolate brown soft as they'd been when he'd held her in their bed after the gentlest of lovemaking. "I...I belong to..."
He growled and tightened his grip. "I don't care. I should have fought for you a year ago."
The truth came to her in a flash of heat. "I should have fought for myself." Her voice was still shaky and broken, but, for the first time in a year she realized all she'd lost of herself by accepting Lucifer's hand. The Slayer had vanished beneath the Ice Queen. "Oh fuck me, I should have fought for myself. I let him break me."
The pain left Angelus' face and his eyes widened in happy surprise, which was echoed by a grunt as Buffy threw herself against him and pressed her mouth to his in a hot kiss, that he eagerly returned.
When they pulled apart, she breathing hard, both of them flushed and trembling, he asked, "Buffy?" so obviously hopeful, and she felt herself smiling helplessly.
"I never stopped loving you either. I thought he was the only option left to me. I don't know if I thought you wouldn't want me, or if I thought I didn't deserve you, but I was so wrong." Reality returned, though, and the joy fled from her face in an instant. "But...I belong to him."
"And I said, I'll fight him. You'll fight him. You're the Slayer, remember?"
"I do now. For the first time in a year I feel it again." And she did, the power and the strength and determination. Why had she let that part of her be buried so deeply?
Mentally shaking herself, Buffy rose to her feet, and he followed her, drawing her into his arms and holding her tightly. "We'll get through this, Buffy. We've survived so damn much here. Forty years and we thrived. One year apart is a blink of the eye."
"It felt like forever."
"It won't. Years from now we'll barely remember it," he promised, stroking her back.
"Should I be jealous?"
Lucifer's voice sent a shiver through Buffy and she jerked away from Angelus, turning to face the King of Hell, her hands fisted at her sides as she stood in front of the love of her life, instinctively protecting him. The ice inside her nearly gone and, with its melting, returning to her a boldness she hadn't felt in over a year, she stared into Lucifer's amused eyes.
Buffy nearly faltered, but held her ground, ignoring Angelus' soft growling behind her and his hands on her shoulders, though the latter felt so good.
"Has your vampire come to win you back, my dear?"
"I'm not a prize."
Lucifer's lips twitched into an actual smile. "I wondered if your backbone was gone forever."
Shouldn't he be angry or at least foreboding and looming? Her confusion must have been apparent, because he simply shrugged and spread his hands slightly.
"I am not going to fight for you, Buffy, not even with you. You have always been free to go."
She gaped at him, jaw dropping, and then fury flooded her and she flew at him, slapping him with all her strength.
Lucifer laughed and yanked her into a torrid kiss that made her knees buckle, then he was handing her gently into the arms of a still growling and vamped out Angelus, and all she could do was stare at the King of Hell, completely flustered. "I never expected you to accept your place at my side, Buffy, but I am devil enough not to take advantage when you did."
"You son of a bitch," she hissed in shock, all the color leaving her face, as she realized the last year hadn't had to happen at all. Her weakness had nearly cost her everything.
"From the first moment you defied me, you were destined for my bed, but I truly believed the one week I kept you would send you fleeing back to your vampire. Thank you for the year, my dear, but you may go back with him with, well, not my blessing, but my acceptance."
Angelus stopped growling and his arms wrapped tightly around her waist, pulling her against his chest, as he spoke over her head. "This isn't a trick?"
"A liar I may be, but not a trickster. She's livened up my existence for forty years. No doubt she will continue for many years more, regardless of whose bed she graces. You have to admit, vampire, that she is so much more than a willing body."
"You can stop talking around me," Buffy snapped, eyes flashing again with anger, though part of it was at herself and she'd have to face that some time, but not now.
Now she wanted to go home and, looking over her shoulder, she told Angelus that. To her surprise, his shoulders slumped slightly and he looked resigned. "What?"
"I thought...You stopped trying, so I thought, even if it was for him, you were no longer wanting to leave."
After a moment of confusion, she realized what he meant, and turned in his arms, placing her hands on his chest and meeting his eyes with a slight smile. "No, not Earth. For now, I just want to go home to Zilphat with you. We'll turn the sun back on and rebuild and maybe...maybe I'll never want to try for Earth again. I can't promise forever, but not right now at least."
Angelus smiled and nodded and leaned down to kiss her softly.
Behind them, Lucifer cleared his throat, and, separating her lips from her lover's, Buffy slowly turned to face him. "By the time you reach the estate, the sun and rain will have returned. My parting gift to you." He bowed his head slightly and she dropped a brief curtsey, and then he smirked at her and his eyes darkened. "But, know, that any time you wish to return to my bed, you are welcome, Buffy Summers."
"Not going to happen."
"So you said for nearly forty years." With a dark chuckle, Lucifer turned and disappeared back into the ballroom, and Buffy slumped in relief against Angelus.
Inside her soul the last of the ice melted away leaving her warm with love.
"That was too easy."
"No...I...He wasn't lying. I've learned to tell the difference, but let's not wear out our welcome." Pulling away from Angelus, she smoothed down her skirts, then took his hand and led him down into the gardens.
"Don't you want to pack anything? Say goodbye to anyone?"
"I have all I need here, and I'll see my friends again. Really, most of them will be more surprised that Lucifer let me go over me wanting to be with you. I guess...my missing you has been kind of obvious at times."
Chuckling, Angelus wrapped his arm around her waist and they began to run through the gardens to the waiting carriages.
Buffy knew being back with Angelus wasn't going to be this easy. Yes, Lucifer had let her go and Angelus loved her, but a part of him had to be angry that she'd slept with another man--a part of her was pissed at herself for that--and stayed willingly with him for so long. There would be yelling and fighting in the future, probably soon, but not tonight.
Not until they got home and spent at least one day making love until they were exhausted.
Lucifer was a fantastic lover, but there had always been something missing, something that had turned her cold, something she hadn't been able to pin down until seeing Angelus again.
It was love, pure and simple.
It had seen her through nearly forty years in Hell and would see them through a million more together. A with Angelus' loving her she would be warm forever and never become ice again.