Author: Pessimistic B/A Fan
Summary: Set in S4 of Angel, S7 of Buffy. After seeing Connor and Cordelia together, Angel goes back to the woman he’s always loved.
Disclamer: Obviously, I own nothing or things would be much happier in the Buffy/Angel world.
Rating: I’m not really sure about this, but I’ll say NC-17 for language and sex. Probably, if you have ever read a romance novel, you can read this.
Author’s Note: This is actually my first fanfic ever, so I have to greatly thank Jo for all her help and her words of encouragement. And thanks to Dark Star for hooking me up with her and for running the marathon this year. And thanks, too, to Kairos for bringing me to the safety of the B/A community. This story happened after I re-watched part of Angel S4. A lot of times I try to avoid it because I just really disliked the Angel/Cordy thing so much. But during the writing of this, both Cordy and Spike came out much more sympathetic than I had expected.
One side of Buffy’s bed depressed with the weight of someone crawling into it. It was much too light to be Dawn, and from the size of the object in her bed, she surmised that it was male.
“If it's Spike," she thought, still half asleep, "I swear to God, I'll stake him right here and now." The truth was, she hadn't let the blond vampire touch her since the attempted rape last year. Logically, she understood that he was both evil and soulless when it happened, and she knew he’d been desperate. Yet as much as she wanted to help him now that he was plagued with soul issues, she still didn't feel all that comfortable around him, no matter how intimate their relationship had once been. But he’d been careful around her since his return, and she couldn’t imagine him just creeping into her room.
But the more she woke, the more she was certain the tingle in her stomach signaled a vampire, until she felt the other tingle, the one in her heart and soul, and she knew exactly which vampire was in her bed. Shaking herself awake, she turned over and found him there, looming over her, his eyes slightly wild. Fear shot through her for a moment. Was it possible Angelus had returned? No, there was no denying the soul was somewhere inside the body above her.
He glanced down at her as he moved further onto the bed, positioning himself over her lithe body. She stiffened when she realized he was naked.
His lips swooped down onto hers, cutting her off. The kiss was tender at first, but within moments, passion overpowered them both.
Her head was spinning, not only from his nearness, but from the kiss; how long had it been since he'd touched her like this? In spite of her other lovers, no one could make her blood boil like Angel.
He broke the kiss, pulling away from her. Taking a second to gather her breath, and her wits, she stared up at him, concern racing through her mind. "Angel, what's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Buffy, please," he begged. "Just tell me...tell me you love me. Tell me you still want me."
The terror and sorrow in his voice ripped at her heart. She'd heard words like that once before; she'd said them to Spike when Riley had returned...with his beautiful wife. At the time, she'd been so desperate to be loved that she'd gone helplessly to the only one she thought still cared about her. Because while she hadn't loved Riley with all of her heart and soul, she had loved him, and seeing him married had thrown her for a loop. Not that she’d ever really imagined herself married to the commando. If she was entirely truthful, when she sometimes indulged in the fantasy of marriage, the only groom she ever envisioned was the man above her.
Taking her silence for uncertainty, he pleaded once more. "Lie to me if you have to."
Lie to him. Had she ever had to lie to Angel about loving him?
"I love you, Angel. I always have," she admitted. "And I always want you."
His lips descended, brushing against hers, light as a feather. As his hands moved over her t-shirt, he briefly wondered when she'd started wearing old clothes to bed. She'd always favored cute pajamas in silk or cotton prints. Now she dressed like a boy in a shapeless shirt and old boxers. But the body beneath the material was remarkably feminine, and he pushed her shirt up to reveal creamy, soft skin. When her breasts were uncovered, his mouth broke from hers, immediately latching onto a nipple.
She gasped in pleasure, thinking for a moment how grateful she was Dawn was spending the night at Janice's. With no teenager in the house, there was no need to be quiet. The movement of his lips and tongue yanked her back into the moment. "Angel..."
He switched sides, his fingers playing with the tip he'd just abandoned, as her hands threaded through his hair, holding him against her. When her grip tightened, he chuckled against her skin. She had no cause to worry; he had no intentions of moving, unless it was to proceed on to greater treasures.
One of her hands slid down his back, nails lightly scraping over his tattoo. He growled at the sensation and warmth flooded her, shockwaves vibrating straight through to her core. Scenting her instantaneous reaction, he growled again, followed by a soft purr, well aware of the effect he had on her body.
She groaned again, pulling him closer, but he resisted, sliding further down her body and gently stripping the boxer shorts off her legs. Lost in the haze created whenever they were together, she thought nothing of the consequences of their coupling. All she could concentrate on was the man between her legs. At the first flick of his cool tongue, she arched off the bed. True, she'd engaged in this sort of activity with Spike, but it was nothing, nothing, compared to being with Angel.
Drunk on the taste of Buffy, the vampire shared her thoughts; it never felt the same with anyone else. He and Darla had been together for 150 years. On the night he'd given in and slept with her, he'd assumed it would be as intense as it had once been. He’d been wrong. There had been pleasure, he couldn’t deny that, but the whirlwind they’d once shared had died, wiped away by the bliss of the finest lover he’d ever had. The one currently writhing in his arms. He centered his mind back on his bedmate, using his experienced tongue to bring her up and over into oblivion.
When the release washed over her, she screamed his name repeatedly, like a prayer chanted in ecstasy.
The dark vampire smirked against her skin. No one could take his Buffy from him. It was his name she cried...he was the one bringing her pleasure...not his son...not like with...her. No, he refused to think about it. He was with the one who mattered now. Shaking all stray thoughts, he moved over Buffy's trembling body, waiting for her to relax. When she calmed, he slid inside her.
The slayer's eyes shot open, all haziness disappearing when she realized that Angel, her Angel, was about to make love to her. As good as he felt, she couldn't allow it. "Angel, we can't! The curse..."
"He won't come out, Buffy. I promise." Reaching out, he lifted her leg and curled it around his waist, her other instinctively following suit. The new angle pushed him in deeper, and a jagged moan tore from them both.
After such a long time apart, being with him was so wonderful she wouldn't have stopped him for the world. And if he said the curse wasn't a problem, she just had to trust him. Maybe the whole loophole was gone, and the two of them could finally be together. Another sharp thrust from her mate, brought her back down to earth, and her arms wrapped around his muscled shoulders, pulling his lips to hers for another intense kiss.
Feeling his climax approach, and desperately wanting her to come along, he snaked a hand between their bodies, frantically rubbing her already sensitive bundle of nerves. Emerald met chocolate, fire burning between their eyes, as the pressure of his fingers ripped the orgasm from deep inside of her, shattering all the way into her soul. Clenching around him, her slayer muscles squeezing him tightly, his own pleasure rushed through his body. Even as his name echoed on her lips, hers tore from his mouth in a shout of wonderment. Only Buffy...only she could do this to him.
Floating in the afterglow, he collapsed on top of her. Her arms circled his shoulders, keeping him pressed against her, allowing his coolness to chill her overheated body. Neither saw the shadow leap from the roof outside her window.
Sadness ate at him as he walked down the street, his heart breaking as his mind replayed the event he'd just witnessed. Buffy, the woman he loved with all of his heart, and now soul, wrapped in a passionate embrace with the only man she'd ever truly loved, Angel. The way she'd clung to him, the way her arms and legs had pulled him tight, the way his name had burst forth from her lips when she'd come; it had never been that way with him. Her every movement with his grandsire had proven how deeply she wanted and loved the dark vampire, as if the very thought of having him not touching her was too unbearable to contemplate. For his part, Angel looked as if he had no intention of ever breaking contact with his beautiful lover.
Walking on, head hung low, Spike wondered what it was like to be Angel. Oh, he'd
wondered that very thing over the years, years when they'd been evil, years when they'd been friends. But back then, all he'd wanted to know was what it was like to have vampires, demons, and even human women, throw themselves at your feet; that, or what it felt like to be celebrated by the underworld for such debauchery and evil.
Now all he wanted to know was what it was like to be the only man, well, vampire, in the world to have all of Buffy Summers. He'd once told Riley that he envied him for at least having her body. At the time, Spike would have been willing to take anything he could get. On the flip side, he understood what Riley Finn had really desired: to have Buffy look into his eyes the way she just had with Angel, love, passion, desire, and absolute adoration burning in her gaze. What was it like for Angel to stare into Buffy's eyes and see nothing but himself, not the shadow of another man, reflected back? It was something Spike would have given his very undead life for. But the ghost in Buffy's eyes was Angel, so to his grandsire it must have been heaven.
After what he'd just observed, he knew he'd missed whatever slim chance he might have ever had of that. Not that he'd ever really stood a chance at all. Buffy loved Angel so completely she never would have been able to love him. He shook his head; in the end, he’d wound up in the same spot as Riley, loving a woman who loved another man. Angel, that lucky son-of-a-bitch, had it all. His grandsire never had to wonder or worry that she was giving her all to him or thinking of someone else when she was with him. Spike was extremely certain that he hadn't been on her mind when she was with the dark vampire. Angel was the only one on the planet that would ever know what it was like to have every single part of her. Every. Single. Part.
Scowling as he remembered the pleasure on their faces, he kicked a rock across the street. Buffy had never faked it with him, and she'd come every time they'd had sex, but he’d never seen such bliss and satisfaction on her beautiful face as he had in Angel's arms. Whatever Angel did to her sent her to a world that he'd never been able to touch, never been able to dream of touching. Seeing the two of them together, his grandsire deeply embedded in her body, he knew she would never be his; no matter what happened or what came between them, Buffy Summers, Slayer extraordinaire, would always belong to Angel, the first vampire with a soul.
Not that the dark vampire fared much better. It was obvious how much he revered and worshipped the little blonde. Recently, Buffy had had her doubts about Angel's love for her, but Spike could see now she had no reason to be concerned. No matter what stories were floating around the demon rumor mill, Angel still loved and wanted the slayer.
Back before he'd had his soul returned, Spike had used those rumors to his advantage, taunting Buffy with the knowledge he'd learned on the grapevine. First, that Angel had a son with his back-from-the-dead sire. He’d known it had hurt her, but at the time, all he'd wanted was her submission, her acquiescence to his touch. Then, after Darla's death, he'd ridiculed her once more, this time causing the slayer even more pain when he'd revealed his grandsire's obvious affection for his seer, Cordelia. Reminding Buffy of her rivalry with the ex-cheerleader in high school, he'd mockingly asked how the love of her life had fallen so hard for the same woman who had spent years trying to steal him away. The woman who had teased her all through school had finally walked away with the ultimate prize, Angel.
What he'd said that night had worked. Enraged, Buffy had attacked Spike's mouth and body with her own, using him to get out every frustration over the loss of her Angel, screwing him to within an inch of his unlife. And he'd loved every second of it. Her passion was overwhelming when it was directed at him, but even then, as much as he'd been loathe to admit it that night, it had still been all about Angel.
If he was honest with himself, he'd known it all along. Buffy and Angel were soulmates. So what the bloody hell was he going to do now?
If the great poof was back, Buffy would cast him aside. Or maybe, just maybe, she really wasn't like that. She had a good heart, and no matter how much he despised that said heart belonged to Angel, she didn't usually toss off those that she cared about. And maybe, just maybe, he was one of those. She'd kept him alive all this time, never allowing anyone to hurt or stake him, even after his reprehensible behavior last year. Could it possibly be that she was his...friend? And could he live with that? As much as he still wanted her, he knew in his brand-spanking-new soul that the only kind of love he would ever get from her would be that of friendship. But if Harris had learned to live with that over the years, why couldn't he? He was certainly smarter than the dumbass kid, so could he deal with it?
He sighed heavily. Maybe, just maybe, he could.
Suddenly realizing he was crushing his lover beneath him, Angel rolled off her, falling onto his back and staring up at the ceiling, his mind replaying the last half hour. He'd wanted it to last much longer, for her pleasure to be drawn out, but he hadn't recognized how desperate he'd become until he was firmly implanted inside her. "I'm sorry."
Her eyes widened as she turned her head towards him. Now what exactly did that mean? "Y-you are?"
"I'm sorry it was over so fast," he said, his eyes avoiding hers.
She chuckled. "That's okay. I have no complaints, Angel." Propping up on her side, she rested her head on her hand. "How did the curse get fixed?"
He finally met her gaze. "Excuse me?"
"The curse. I assume you got it...taken care of."
"The curse isn't fixed, Buffy."
"What?" She was shocked. How could he have let them do...that...when his soul was still unbalanced? "Angel...you said Angelus wouldn't..." She started to back away, but his hand rested on her arm, stopping her.
"Buffy, it's okay," he said. "That wasn't perfect happiness."
Now she did pull away, recoiling from him. Her mind whirled with horrible thoughts, horrible images. Not perfect happiness. She wasn't perfect happiness. So that meant...Cordelia was. She snorted at the irony of the situation; now that he no longer loved her, they could have sex. She couldn't believe it. All along she'd wanted to believe that Spike had been lying. Still, as much as she wanted to break down in tears, she wouldn’t do that in front of Angel. "So, um, why...why did you come here then?"
And here it was. The moment he'd been dreading since he'd run from the rooftop in Los Angeles, driving straight to Sunnydale, and to Buffy. Now he had to talk about it. "I… I saw Cordelia...with my son. Having sex."
He wasn't certain what sort of reaction he’d expected from Buffy, but the one he got took him completely by surprise. In one fluid movement, the slayer hopped out of bed, picked his sweater up off the floor, and threw it at him. "Get the hell out of my room!" Grabbing up the rest of his clothes, she tossed them at his head.
"What? Buffy...what..." He was truly confused. He’d hoped she would help him.
"Did you enjoy that, Angel?" Her eyes were cold as they bored into him.
"Us? Are you asking if I enjoyed us?" Of course he had. What was she thinking?
"Good. I hope you enjoyed it enough to last you the rest of your miserable life 'cause you are never touching me again," she spat viciously. At his baffled, pained look, she hurled one of his boots at the bed. "I hope you enjoyed your revenge fuck against Cordelia, you bastard."
His eyes widened in understanding. "Is that what you think that was?"
"Of course it was. The only thing I can't understand is why you had to ruin the one beautiful night we had together by coming here and pulling something like this." Tears filled her eyes even as she tried to hold them back. "I thought you'd once loved me enough to want to preserve at least that."
"I did. I do," he said, trying fiercely to get her to understand. He’d been an idiot, only now realizing the very wrong way his intentions could have come across. He just had to make her see the truth. "I didn't come here to get a revenge..." He almost couldn't say it. Two hundred and fifty years old and he almost couldn't say it to her. "A revenge "fuck" against Cordelia. Any woman in L.A. could have satisfied that need. I came here for you, Buffy. Because when I saw the two of them together...I realized how much I missed you, how much I love you." After he finished, he lowered his eyes, tears welling up inside them.
In spite of her anger, she took a step towards the bed. Catching the movement, his head lifted, his eyes once again meeting hers. The anguish she saw in them astounded her. "Angel..."
"I'm sorry." How could he ever have let her think he was using her? Didn’t she realize she was his soulmate?
He still wasn’t sure how everything had happened. He’d always loved Buffy, but then she’d died. When she’d come back, he knew more than ever how much he still wanted her. But the curse was always hanging over their heads. Then his friends had started saying how good he and Cordelia were together, how well they got along, how there was chemistry between them. And he’d started to think that maybe they were right. When Darla showed up pregnant, he’d desperately wanted Connor to have a mother. And Cordy had changed so much. Wasn’t it possible that the suggestions had led him to the wrong conclusions? "I know things are different now, for both of us. And Cordy’s not the girl you knew in high school, Buffy. She's caring and compassionate..."
Buffy didn't want to mention that, considering what had happened tonight between her and Angel’s son, she didn't seem all that compassionate.
When the slayer remained silent, he went on. "And I cared about her...and I loved her. And I knew in my heart, it wasn't like you, but I..." He sighed. "I was lonely, Buffy. After three years, I still missed you, and I just wanted...someone..."
She crawled onto the bed, taking one of his hands into her own. How many times had she felt that way? Alone and scared, and desperately in need of contact with another person, demon or not. It was what had led to her relationships with Spike and Parker…and Riley, if she was completely honest with herself.
Her touch surprised him; he'd begun to fear that she'd keep the promise that he'd never touch her again. "When I saw them tonight...I've never felt so betrayed. And I thought, Buffy, she would never do this to me." His head dropped into his free hand. "And Connor knew how I felt about her, and I'm mad at him. He's just a boy...and I'm mad at him. What kind of father am I to be angry at my son for this?" He broke down then.
He’d cried when they broke up; he’d cried when he came back from hell and when she came back from heaven. But she’d never seen him cry the way he was now. He just seemed so…lost. Without a thought, her arms wrapped around him, pulling him against her. "Shh...Angel, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." In the face of his pain, she felt the sting of her terrible accusation. He'd wanted her, his soulmate, some comfort from the one person in the entire world who was supposed to be there for him unconditionally. If only she'd thought the same way when she'd needed solace and gone to him, instead of to Spike. How much pain could she have saved herself?
"Buffy," he mumbled, his voice thick. "I just wanted to hold you, to know that you still wanted me."
"Shh," she soothed, stroking his hair. "I told you. I always want you."
He pulled away, wiping at his eyes, slightly embarrassed. "Some father I am, huh? I came to my soulmate to prove that, I don't know, that Cordy chose poorly. Oh, God, I'm pathetic." His head fell forward again for a moment, then lifted to look at her. "Tonight made me realize that it was you, Buffy. It was always you."
Pleased and surprised by his confession, tears streaked down her cheeks. "I know the feeling. I missed you." She was on his lap, wrapped back in his arms before she could blink, as they held each other in a tight embrace. "So what do we do now?"
Drawing back, he studied her. "What do you want to do?"
"I..." She'd never been given a choice in their relationship before. "Well, if the curse isn't a problem anymore. I mean, if I don't give you perfect happiness..." She tried to hold back her disappointment at that thought, recognizing that if that was indeed the case, they could have a real chance. The positive definitely outweighed the negative in the scenario.
He chuckled. "No, Buffy, I didn't really say that."
"Yes, you did. You said I wasn't perfect happiness," she insisted.
"No, what I said was "that" wasn't perfect happiness." He realized he was going to have to explain further. "I was so upset and hurt, mad at myself, mad at them, that nothing could have caused perfect happiness tonight. Nothing."
Her heart began to crack all over again. "So you came here unhappy, and we were together, and now it's just going to go away again. How could you do that, Angel? You know what being with you means to me." He felt her withdraw from him once more and jumped in to stop it before she could completely crawl off him.
"No!" he shouted, startling her. "No, not exactly. I just asked what you wanted. I've never given you a choice, and I want to. I told you. I'm tired of being lonely. What I want is to stop trying to find what we had with someone else. I don't want to try to make a life with a substitute for you," he said slowly, carefully. "I want the real thing. I want my soulmate back."
"Wow," she muttered breathlessly. "That's a lot of "wants" there, mister." His smile was tender and she met it with one of her own. "But I like them all. I want...all the things that you want. And I want them with you."
"And, incidentally, I didn’t fuck you, Buffy. We made love, the first night, tonight."
"Thank you." Her voice was so shaky she hardly recognized it. "I didn't want to compare it to-" She stopped herself, lowering her head as she realized she was about to reveal her relationship with Spike. She wasn't sure if he was quite ready for that bombshell just yet.
Hoping to take the pressure off her, he traced a finger down her cheek. "I know about Spike, Buffy."
Her head shot up. "You...you do? How?"
"The demon grapevine works both ways," he said. "That's the way you found out about Connor last year, right?" At her nod, he continued. "And I'm assuming about Cordelia as well. Judging from your reaction, I'd say you knew about me and her."
She cleared her throat. "I did. But I still reacted badly. I just..."
"No. I came here, and I didn't even give you a chance to refuse-"
"I wasn't going to refuse," she interrupted quickly, smiling at the grin he shot her.
"Good to know. I would never use you, Buffy, not in any way." A quick flashback of using Darla entered his mind, but he pushed it away. He'd feel guilty for that later, not during his time with Buffy. "I did come here with a purpose. To get back the woman I love. The one who has always loved me. Because on that rooftop tonight, I panicked. I thought..." His voice dropped an octave. "If Cordelia threw me away so quickly, after all these years, how could Buffy ever want me again?"
Her heart broke for him. "I guess maybe I love you more than her. I guess maybe I love you more than anyone."
"There's no guessing involved," he said. "I’m truly blessed by your love. What right did I have to give something that precious away?"
She hauled herself completely back into his lap, pressing against him, her hands running over his skin. "So...are you mad at me about Spike?"
"Oh, Buffy." Gently, he placed a palm against her cheek. "Considering all the things I've done wrong in my life, what would give me the right to be mad at you?” He pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. He’d admitted to loving Cordelia, but suddenly found it impossible to believe it had ever been all that real. Or maybe whenever Buffy walked back into his life, everyone else disappeared. "I can feel my heart mending. You're like a balm to me, Buffy. You heal everything."
"I know the feeling," she whispered, leaning her head forward and meeting his lips in a small kiss. "You know, if Cordelia had a chance with you and didn’t take it, she’s stupider than I thought."
He shook his head, thinking clearly for the first time in years. "It wouldn't have worked. She’s never been good at being second best, and eventually, you would have come between us." His lips moved slowly over her jaw, down to her neck.
"Are you saying I'm number one?" she asked with a giggle, tilting her head to the side to give him better access.
"Of course you are, Buffy. Always." His tongue laved over her scar, sending a shiver through her body. The little raised lump of skin certainly knew its maker.
In all actuality, she really didn't care what brought him back to her, just that he came back. Still, the curse ran through her mind. "Angel, wait a minute. Wait." He stopped his kisses, gazing at her in confusion. "What about the happiness clause?"
"Oh, yeah, that," he chuckled, halting immediately as she glared at him. "Um, last year, Cordy was with Groo-"
"Uh, her boyfriend at the time. I'll explain later," he promised. "Long story short, she’d been warned that she could lose her visions if she had sex with him, so she sent the two of us to a..." Perhaps he shouldn't bring up the word "brothel" in her bed. "Place...where they had potions that could prevent her from losing the visions if they were intimate. Anyway, when I was there, I got to thinking...about you." The second he'd seen the room where time slowed so each sensation could be experienced at length, all thoughts of Cordy had been swept aside, his mind rushing to Buffy and the forgotten day he'd spent with the slayer. When he replayed those precious hours in his mind, it always ran in slow motion, like a hazy dream, each moment imbedding itself in his brain. For the few minutes he’d stared into that room, he'd known that would be the sort of thing he could only share with his mate.
"So?" Her bubbly anticipation brought him back to the present.
"So I was able to find out there was a potion that could help me, us. It would enable me to experience perfect happiness and still keep my soul," he explained. "I bought some, and I thought maybe..."
"But why didn't you come to me?" she wondered. How could he have stayed away from her for so long? "Was it because of Cordy?"
"No, Buffy." He paused, then sighed. "Actually, I figured finding the potion was a hint that she and I weren't meant to be. Because it seemed to me if I found a way to get around the curse, then it was a sign that I should be with you."
"Then...” He hesitated telling her the reason. But her piercing green eyes demanded an answer. “I found out about Spike."
"Oh, my God," she whimpered. "Oh, God. This is all my fault."
"No, Buffy, that's not true," he swore vehemently. "It's mine. I should have come here. I should have made sure you were all right instead of just getting more upset and hurt over Spike."
"You said you weren't mad," she cried, tears threatening to fall from her eyes again.
"I'm not. I promise you that I'm not." He leaned forward and lightly kissed her eyelids. "But back then, it really threw me. First, Cordelia had picked Groo over me, then, just the very thought of you and Spike…"
"Cordy picked the other guy over you?" What the hell was wrong with the ex-cheerleader?
"Well, I didn't actually tell her I felt anything." He turned his head to the side. "And then the second the potion offered me a chance with you again, you were all I could think about. But before I could even plan to come and see you, to introduce you to Connor, I found out about Spike and it...I guess I put all of my energy back into Cordy again." At the time, he’d thought why be in sheer agony over not being with the love of his life when he could just be in a little bit of agony over his best friend. That should have been a dead giveaway that he wasn't as in love with Cordelia as he’d thought. But then he’d always been a little slow on the uptake.
She sighed sadly. "We both really screwed up, didn't we?"
"We did," he agreed. "But I love you, Buffy." He swallowed thickly. "I want this chance with you. I never wanted to leave in the first place. I only did what I thought was best, but I don't want to live without you anymore."
"Neither do I." Holding his head between her hands, she brought his lips to her own. Giving him a soft kiss, she pulled away only enough to lean her forehead against his. "If you've got that potion, Angel, I suggest you take it now…because this time, I fully intend to give you perfect happiness."
At the sweet smile that graced her face, he leapt from the bed and raced over to his coat. "I kept it in my car. Just in case I ever got the chance to use it," he said as excited as a kid beneath a Christmas tree. "In case I ever got the chance to come back to you."
As he hopped back into the bed, she frowned. "Well, what if you ever got the chance to be with Cordy? You would have needed it then, too."
He met her gaze directly. "No, I wouldn't have. The curse only works with you, Buffy. That much I'm sure of."
He lifted the stopper of the little crystal vial and gulped the tart, blue liquid. For just a moment, Buffy held her breath, certain that something horrible would happen to him. When nothing appeared to change after a couple of minutes, she relaxed. "Everything okay?"
"Everything's fine. Come here." She fell into his arms without a second thought.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she said, crossing her arms on his chest and propping her head on them. "How about you? How's things going in the soul department?"
"Well, that was absolutely perfect, yet I still seem to have a soul. So I'm guessing the potion did the trick."
"So, um, are you going to stock up on it?" She trailed a finger down his arm, her voice seductive.
"God, yes." The answer was immediate. "I may find out how to mix it myself, actually, so we'll always have it on hand."
Her heart leapt at his sentence; the use of the word "we" implied togetherness. "So we can do this again?"
"Yeah." He exhaled, his head still spinning from their latest romp. "The demoness who made it said it lasts for 24 hours, so I'm thinking I'll start off with a year's supply and go from there. I don't want to be running to fetch a batch every week. Better just to have it on hand."
"For those surprise visits I just might make," she said, her smile matching the brilliance of his.
"Or the ones I make here. Maybe we should stock up in your place as well," he pondered, deep in thought.
He wanted to leave some at her house. Could her night get any better? "So, uh, are you okay with everything else as well?"
"I am. You saved me, Buffy…again." He glanced away. "Earlier, I thought maybe I was incapable of being loved, especially after Cordy said..."
Buffy's eyebrows furrowed. "What did she say?"
"Nothing." He mentally smacked himself. She’d already helped to ease his mind, and he didn’t want to get her riled up.
"Oh, no, you don't. This relationship isn't going to work if we aren't honest with each other. And I can tell when something's wrong, pal. You don't have "nothing" face. You have "something" face."
And, God, how he'd missed that. "Buffy..."
"Angel..." she said, copying his tone. "What. Did. She. Say?"
He was silent for another second, until he realized she’d never let it go. "She said...she said that she couldn't be with me because she now knew what I was like when I was evil."
"Huh?" The slayer was stunned. "She already knew what you were like when you were evil. She was here when it happened. In fact, I seem to remember Angelus knocking her to the ground once and nearly biting her. Of course I had a high fever so I might have been hallucinating, but I don't think so," she rambled, her mind trying to wrap around what he'd said.
His own memory flashed back to the night he'd put Buffy in the hospital. "Yes, that's true. But she was in another dimension for awhile." The blonde cocked an eyebrow at him. "Another long story. The gist is, when she was there, she was able to not only know what I was like, but to feel what I felt when I was evil. How much I enjoyed it, reveled in it."
Buffy stared at him for a moment, wondering if she should say what was on the tip of her tongue. Well, she'd insisted on honesty. "So was I."
He gaped at her, horrified. "Wh-what?"
"I was in another dimension, too," she said softly. She'd told him all about heaven when she'd returned, then they'd wept in each other's arms for her loss. "I was able to see what you were like, to experience it, to feel it. I wanted to know what it was like for you."
The truth struck him to the core. He couldn't lose her, not after he'd just gotten her back. "Why?"
"Because I love you, every part of you. And I needed to know why you suffer so much," she said plainly. "And it was horrible." It was too much for him. He tried to push her off him and move away, but her arms held him tightly in place. "No, Angel, don't. Please, listen." He stopped moving, his eyes refusing to meet hers. "Yes, it was hard to watch that, to watch you like that, to feel it all deep inside of me, but all it succeeded in doing was making me love you more."
His head shot up, and he looked at her in shock. "But why..."
"Because I saw how much you overcame. I watched you turn from a reckless human into a murderous demon into a champion. Angel, I felt everything you felt along the way, and I have to tell you, you're an amazing man. And seeing what you had to go through, and deal with, and learn, just made me fall in love with you even harder." She couldn’t stop the tears that filled her eyes as she explained. "You're the...strongest man I've ever known, and I don't just mean because of your muscles." He chuckled shakily. "Although, I like the muscles. I'm not telling you to ditch them or anything." Both smiled through the tears. "It is an honor for me to know you and to love you and to be loved by you."
He sat up abruptly, pulling her snuggly against his body. "Buffy."
Her hands stroked his back as she whispered tender words of love to him. And once again, she had to wonder what the hell was wrong with Cordelia? Witnessing Liam's transformation into Angelus, then Angel, had been life-altering for her, and she'd technically been dead at the time. She knew in those moments that she would never love another being the way she loved him, even if she spent eternity in heaven biding her time until he arrived. How could Cordelia not have the same reaction? It seemed to her that the brunette seer's love wasn't worth all that much if she could be swayed so easily. Love was hard and difficult, Buffy certainly knew that, but what she shared with Angel was worth it.
"When I relived your life, all I wanted to do was be with you again. I knew then that I'd spend the rest of my days in heaven waiting for you," she whispered.
Even after all the time with her, all they’d shared, the depth of her love still overwhelmed him.
She nuzzled his ear with her nose. "She's a fool, Angel. Being with you means the world to me."
He pulled away, his lips caressing her cheek, then passionately attacking her mouth. He'd known it all along, deep down. Only Buffy could ever really know him, understand him, heal him. He should have come for her last year; he should have gone right through Spike to get to her if he'd had to. "I love you, Buffy," he murmured. "Please understand about Cordelia. Remember once I told you that loneliness is about the scariest thing there is." She nodded. "My heart was always with you."
"I know," Buffy said, her breath hitching. "Because mine was always with you."
Their lips met again, love burning through their bodies and swirling around the haven of the room. He leaned back, pulling her on top of him so she covered his body, his large hands tangling in her hair. How could he have ever tried to love someone else? Buffy was his soul.
As she settled on him, a little sigh of bliss escaped her lips. "C-can you stay? The night, I mean."
"I think I could manage that," he said gently. "I'll have to get back right after sunset though. We've got...well, there's a lot going on."
"Do you need any help? I could come with you."
He kissed her lightly. "While I appreciate that, it seems like you've got a lot going on right here. But I promise to call if I need you. Well, if I need you for work." He smirked at her, and she giggled. "If I call when I need you, we'll never get off the phone."
"What if I never wanna get off the phone, anyway?" she asked, fluttering her lashes.
"Then you'll never be able to come and visit," He rubbed his nose against hers, then lowered his head to the pillow. "How about after I deal with everything in L.A. and you handle all your problems here, I take you away for awhile, just the two of us. Make up for lost time."
When she smiled at him, it was glorious. "I would really, really like that."
"Deal, then?" She nodded and swept in for another kiss. As it ended, she laid her head down on his chest, holding back a yawn. "How about if we rest for a bit?"
"No," she moaned. "This is such an incredible night. I want to make love again."
"We will," he promised, brushing a kiss on her temple. "I'm trapped inside here with you all day tomorrow, remember?"
Oh, yes, she remembered. Her vampire would be trapped and at her mercy until nightfall. How convenient.
In spite of all she'd done with Spike, everything was different with the man in her arms. First, they weren't having raunchy sex in a dirty crypt, but tenderly making love in her bed. Second, while Spike had proven to be a great lover, Angel had proven once again to be an exquisite one. And although she and Spike had gone at it hot and heavy a few times, Angel was even older and stronger, and she was anxious to test her slayer strength against his vampire stamina, just to see which one of them broke first. Maybe she could even write an article for the Watcher's Council outlining how long it took to finally wear out a vampire as old as Angel. Chuckling internally at her little joke, she relaxed in his arms.
Just before falling asleep, she remembered one other thing she’d learned in heaven, something they would discuss before he left tomorrow. A certain day that only existed in Angel’s memory.
Sensing that she'd passed into slumber, he gathered her closer in his arms, contented just to hear her breathe. This was what he'd missed, this peace that he'd been searching for and never been able to find. It didn't come from being in love; it came from being with Buffy. As old as he was, he'd somehow forgotten that. Whatever feelings he'd had for Cordelia were floating away in his mate’s arms, and he couldn't help but recognize how right that felt. He did love Cordy, but he wasn't in love with her, no matter how he or anyone else had tried to convince him that he was.
Sleep overcame the serene vampire, and he slipped into the land of dreams, visions of blonde hair, green eyes, and laughter greeting him there.
An hour after Angel arrived from Sunnydale, Cordelia strolled into the Hyperion, all her thoughts on the vampire. Approaching the counter, she saw only Wes and Gunn. So…the ex-watcher was back in the good graces of the staff. "Where's Angel?"
"Uh..." Gunn shifted his weight from foot to foot, glancing over at Wesley.
"Hello?" She rapidly tapped a toe on the linoleum. "I asked you a question."
"Um, yes, Cordelia," Wes began, "he's, uh, in his office. He's acting rather strange at the moment."
"Yes. He's rather...chipper, whistling and the like."
She cocked an eyebrow. "Whistling? It's raining fire outside! There's no sun!"
"Yeah, that's what we thought, too," Gunn said. "He got back from his little field trip, and he's been giddy even since, insisting that we'll figure out how to save the world and get everything back to normal."
She knew it; the entire operation would fall apart without her there to run it, and now, apparently, the vampire had gone a little off his rocker. Wasn’t it always up to her to get him back on track? Well, maybe what she had to tell him would straighten him out. Pushing past the others, she walked directly into his office without knocking, yanking the door shut behind her. "Angel, what the hell is going on with you?"
"Cordelia," he replied stiffly. Now what was his problem? Lately, he'd been so careful and sweet around her. "Did you ever hear of knocking?"
Shoving off his warning tone, she continued her tirade. "The world is in serious peril, Angel, and the guys tell me that you're in here whistling. So what's up?"
"That isn't any of your business." She was floored. Angel hadn't told her to mind her own business in years. "I do need to talk to you though."
"I do, too." She softened her tone, figuring she could pull him in better with tenderness.
"I thought you might." He paused, piercing her with a look. "I want you to break it off with my son. You're only going to hurt him in the end."
"Wha-" She was frozen; he knew about her and Connor. If she wasn’t extremely careful with her next words, she might lose him entirely. "Angel...Angel, I just...I wanted to be close to you, and with everything that happened between us, that wasn't possible, so I went for the closest thing-"
"Cordy, save it." Her mouth snapped shut. "You have no idea what you want. You tell me you love me, and then you run off and sleep with my son."
"I..." Her eyes welled up with unshed tears. "I didn't mean to hurt you. I do love you."
"Whatever," he said shortly. "I'm not going to get hurt, Cordelia, but Connor is. And that is unacceptable to me. He's young, and he doesn't understand what kind of game you're playing."
"I'm not playing-"
"Don’t lie to me."
"Angel, please listen," she tried again. "I want you. What happened with Connor was a mistake."
"Well, try to explain that to him when you speak with him, but let him down gently." The coolness in his eyes held her captive.
"I will. And I'm ready now. I want to give you and me a chance."
"I don't." Despite his effort to stop it, the memory of saying those exact words to Buffy assailed him. Maybe leaving his soulmate had been wrong, but putting his relationship with Cordelia back on its correct path wasn't.
She stared at him, mouth open. Yesterday, he'd wanted her in the worst way. "What are you talking about? Angel, I made one mistake-"
"This isn't about that. That just set it off." He sighed. "I was the one who made a mistake. And last night I fixed it. Last night, I fixed everything that was wrong in my life."
Her eyes narrowed. What exactly had he done last night? "Where did you go?"
"I went home," he said, then clarified his statement. "I went to Sunnydale. Buffy and I are back together."
"You did what!" she screamed. "But...but...you can't...I mean, the curse-"
"The curse isn't an issue anymore," he stated. Noticing her smug expression, he continued. "But it's still perfect happiness with Buffy. I should thank you, by the way. I found a potion to help me at the brothel you sent me to with Groo. See, I figured if there was a way to keep you from losing your visions, there had to be a way to keep me from losing my soul. I was right."
She was quickly losing ground. "But...but you don't love her anymore. You love-"
"You?" he asked sharply. "Any chance we might have had together ended when you were with Connor. He cares about you, and I won't hurt him that way." He looked at her intensely, his expression speaking volumes. "And did you honestly think that loving you meant I stopped loving Buffy? I will love her for the rest of her life. And the rest of mine. Seeing you with Connor made me realize it's always been her." He sighed. "And I was tired of my soul screaming for her. So I went home and got her back."
The seer could not believe it was happening again. She'd lost Angel to Buffy in high school, but thought she was certainly winning in L.A. Yet with one stupid mistake, she'd lost him to her all over again. "You can't be serious, Angel. She'll hurt you again."
"I'm deadly serious," he insisted. "And we've each done our fair share of hurting the other. Last night, we reconnected, healed one other. And I'm madly in love again...or still. I haven't felt like this since she and I first got together."
Grasping what he was insinuating with the "healed each other" comment, she knew she'd lost him, most likely for good. Angel had gone to Sunnydale and been with Buffy, stayed with Buffy, made love to Buffy. While she'd satisfied herself with Angel's son, the slayer had had the real deal. She still wasn't entirely sure why she'd invited Connor into her bed. When the rain of fire had started, she'd no longer been able to think clearly, and before she knew it, they'd wound up in bed together. All because she'd been a little freaked out by Angel's past. How stupid was she? She'd known all along what he was; how had she forgotten along the way? She’d been an idiot, and now she'd lost him. Hell, who was she kidding? Had she ever really had him in the first place? Not to mention, she recognized his "Buffy" face. Once the little blonde imbedded herself in his life, it was almost impossible to get rid of her.
"But I thought we..." What more could she possibly say?
"I know, and I'm sorry, Cordy." His voice softened. "But we were both wrong. We're just not meant to be together. Not like that. I love her too much. She's going to be a part of my life again, and if anyone here can't accept that, they can go. She has an open invitation here, and she's not ever going to be made to feel uncomfortable in my home...in her home." When he finished, the brunette could tell the conversation was closed.
She nodded her head, all of her usual confidence gone. What could she do? She really did love him, but he loved Buffy. And she'd known that, but she'd allowed herself to forget it, allowed herself to believe that the slayer wouldn't hang like a shadow over any relationship they might have had. Maybe deep down inside, she'd even known that any attempts to be with Angel would end in failure. Buffy was always the winner where he was concerned. "I get it. Uh, I have to go..."
When she stood, he stopped her. Although she'd hurt him the night before, he’d healed his wounds in his soulmate's bed and body. Briefly, he relished the fact that he could now do that anytime he needed to. Still, he'd never meant to cause Cordelia pain; she was a true friend, and he did love her. "I am sorry. I let things get too far out of hand. I knew my heart was with Buffy, and I should have listened to it."
She wanted to make a snarky comment, her usual line of defense, but found she didn’t have the stomach for it. That’s what love did, right? Made you put someone else’s needs before your own. A sad chuckle escaped her. "I'll talk to Connor."
She slipped from the room without another word. He knew she was hurting, and as much as he'd thought that might make him feel better, in the reality of the moment, it didn't. He hadn't wanted Cordelia to suffer, not really; he'd just been angry. And how could he truly be mad at her when her actions had led him home to Buffy? Without knowing it, she’d given him back his happiness, his very soul, and he loved her for that, too. In the future, he'd just have to make certain that he didn't mistake love with a true friend for the deep, eternal, true love that existed between him and Buffy. However, now that his beloved slayer was back in his life, that sort of error would no longer be a problem.
The phone rang, snapping him out of his reverie, and he snatched it up quickly, instinctively
knowing who was on the other end. "Hello, you."
"How did you know it was me?" she asked, confusion in her voice.
"I can tell by your ring." How he’d missed being able to tease and joke with her, and just the general camaraderie that once existed between them. He’d never take it for granted again.
"I know you just left, but I miss you already. I'm sorry I couldn't wait to talk to you anymore." He could almost see the sheepish smile on her face.
"That's all right," he said. "I miss you, too."
"So...is it still raining fire in L.A.?"
He chuckled. Back to business as usual. As he answered her questions, his mind wandered slightly towards the future, his thoughts focusing on where they would go on vacation when their latest trials and tribulations were complete. Buffy was in his life again, and this time, he was never going to let her go. "So…what do you think of taking a drive up the coast once the world returns to normal? Maybe staying in a few cozy bed and breakfasts along the way."
A squeal of delight echoed in his ear, and he smiled. Not all of the spunk she’d had in her youth had died. Right then, he swore to do his best to bring as much of it out of her as he could, as often as he could. "Ooh, I accept. Just as long as you pack a ton of that potion in your bag."
"Baby, I won't leave home without it." She giggled loudly at his silly joke, and her delight rubbed off on him. “Also, there’s this room I want to try…”
They were together again, and no matter how difficult the struggle to get there had been, it was worth it in the end. All the endless nights he'd ached for her could now be fulfilled as he planned to share all of his hopes and dreams with her until the day she left the earth for good. And even then, wherever she went, he would follow. He knew he could beat the evil currently plaguing his town simply because she believed in him once more. And when all was said and done, the warrior and the champion would escape to heal wounds, returning to their respective groups more capable and powerful than ever before. Because as a formidable foe had once told them, together they were strong.
November 22, 2010