Love Lies Bleeding
Author: Dark Star
Summary: The End of Days has been fought, and humanity lost. In the end, the danger came from Man’s own weapons of destruction, and not monsters and demons as expected. Now, five years on, those who are left try to live as best they can, taking pleasure in whatever form it takes…
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon is creator and owner of all things Angel
Rating: Adult (NC 17)
Warning: A dark version of the future.
Notes: B/A. Thanks to Black Robin for his great title…
Buffy Summers picked her way carefully through the rubble, stumbling over the debris on her way to the Hyperion. The hotel was still – mostly – sound, though most of the imposing façade had tumbled into ruin, and the staircase in the lobby had disappeared under a tirade of bricks and mortar.
Buffy skirted round the mess and made for the back stairway, her ascent sure in the familiar surroundings and she stepped wearily onto the first floor landing.
Scraping sounds and a series of small thuds announced the presence of her partner, and she made for the room down the hall.
Angel looked up from his attempt to create order in the chaos, where boxes and furniture lay sprawled haphazardly, and smiled a greeting.
“Hey. How did it go?”
Buffy shrugged. “It went.”
She turned away, and crossed the landing to their rooms. Angel followed her, rubbing dusty hands on his dark jeans. He reached the room as Buffy stripped off her jacket and threw it over the dresser.
Buffy turned to look at him, her expression sober.
“I got a little food, enough to last a couple of days if I’m careful.” She looked away, and Angel knew that she was keeping something from him. He moved closer.
“On the way back, I… met these guys...”
Angel tensed. “Did they hurt you?”
Buffy shook her head. “No, I’m okay. But they… tried… you know.” She shrugged; she didn’t need to draw him a picture.
“Perhaps I should have asked if you hurt them.”
Buffy gave a grim smile.
“Broke one guys’ arm, and another won’t be sitting down any time soon.”
“So what’s bothering you?”
Buffy looked down at the floor, and almost seemed to shrink under his gaze.
“It’s just that… it wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
Her eyes met his, anger flashing through them with impotent rage, and her stance straightened in indignation.
“I’m the Slayer,” she said angrily. “I’m supposed to save people… and for what? For this?” Her arm waived toward the outside, and the remnants left of their civilisation.
Angel kept silent, letting her rant. He’d lost count how many times he’d heard this argument. What could he say to calm her - when he agreed with her?
“So much for being The Chosen One,” Buffy hissed, frustration making her pace restlessly. “What good are Super Powers when I couldn’t even protect the ones I love?”
“All gone, Angel. My friends… Dawn… my mom…”
Angel reached her in two strides and wrapped her in his arms.
“Don’t,” he said softly. “You can’t think like that.”
“Why not?” she asked, her voice muffled by his shoulder. “It’s true. The whole Slayer Deal was a lie.”
“You did a lot of good, Buffy,” Angel reminded her.
“Yeah,” she agreed sarcastically. “And now those people I saved are all dead. I did great.”
“You did,” Angel persisted. “They had a lot of extra years because of you.”
Buffy burrowed her head against his chest, and Angel caressed the back of her head.
“I can’t stand this, Angel. I can’t…”
She swallowed painfully, and looked slowly up at him, her eyes wide and pleading.
“Help me forget?”
“Yeah.” He swept her up in his arms and carried her over the bed. “I can do that.”
The long shadows in the alley behind the nightclub contained a plethora of vampire/human exchanges; vampires feeding, talking, or having sex.
Buffy and Angel walked past them all without a second glance. It was a familiar scene, echoed throughout the city, and no one even thought it was odd.
Reaching the entrance to the nightclub known as Phoenix, Buffy pushed open the door and stepped inside. The lone vampire in the foyer began to move toward them, but froze when he recognised her; he melted back into the shadows, hoping he hadn’t been spotted. He’d heard she didn’t kill his kind any more, if they left her alone, but he didn’t want to put it to the test.
Buffy ignored him, and passed into the small foyer. She smoothed down the soft fabric of her short blue skirt, and tidied her hair, casting a sideways glance at Angel. The light from the inner hall danced across his face, highlighting his features and making his eyes look black. She found that her legs were shaking, and Angel turned to her, a half-smile on his lips as he took her hand and led her inside.
Three young girls passed them, all wearing vampire scars on their necks, one of which was still oozing blood. Buffy didn’t even notice, because every human in the place carried a vampire’s mark.
After the destruction of the city, the majority of the human and animal population was wiped out. Demons multiplied at an advanced rate, and the few people that were left, desolate and desperate, were further decimated by the demon hoard. Apart from Buffy, the only ones capable of fighting the menace were the vampires. About the same time, vampires realised that if they continued to kill humans at the same rate, they would themselves become extinct.
Vampires became the dominant species and developed an uneasy truce with the human population. They agreed to protect the feeble humans in return for regular infusions of blood. Any human not bearing a vampire’s mark was regarded as fair game by the vampires, while marked humans were largely left alone. Over time, vampires developed other relationships with humans, to the extent that Buffy’s relationship with Angel was no longer out of place.
Picking their way through the dancing couples, Buffy and Angel made their way to the bar. The vampire bartender paled visibly when Buffy arrived in front of him and smiled sweetly. His hand shook as he handed her a bottle and muttered, “On the house.”
Buffy glared at him, just to make him tremble and Angel chuckled.
“Haven’t lost your touch,” he observed, leaning on the bar.
“Let’s hope you haven’t lost yours,” she shot back cheekily, and pulled him onto the dance floor.
The atmosphere in the Phoenix was hot and heady. The dance floor was lively, but by no means packed. The mood in the place was sombre. People no longer went there to enjoy themselves, they went to exorcise the phantom of the apocalypse and numb the pain of the present.
After placing the bottle on a handy table, Buffy wrapped her arms round Angel, and luxuriated in the feel of his firm hands caressing her back and bare arms.
Buffy allowed the heavy music to infiltrate her senses and guide her movements. Her body moving in perfect unison with Angel, as he too let the beat surround him and abolish all thoughts of the real world.
He leant forward and nuzzled in her hair; Buffy slowly raised her face to his, and his kisses traced a gentle path from her hair, down the side of her face and across to her waiting lips. Angel’s tongue flicked out, seeking entry, and Buffy’s lips parted to allow access to his exploring tongue.
All evening the lovers stayed locked in each other’s arms, oblivious to everything except the pulse of the music and the solace gained from the bottle.
Eventually, Buffy pulled Angel over to a vacant table, where they collapsed into the waiting chairs. Buffy reached over to take Angel’s hand, and then froze when she observed the events unfolding behind Angel’s shoulder.
Through the velvet curtain at the back of the club, Buffy could see the exchange booths, and witnessed the humiliation of the persons unfortunate enough to have to use them. Many of the exchanges were straightforward goods-for-goods interchanges, while others were forced to trade sex or their blood to obtain food and other necessities.
Going through the faded and threadbare curtains, a vampire led a world-weary girl along by the hand. She was barely in her teens, and Buffy wondered whether she was trading sex or blood. Both, probably.
A young couple staggered from one of the booths, necks weeping blood. The man had his arm round the distraught woman, supporting her, and muttering comforting noises, in the forlorn hope of soothing her.
Another booth, a vampire stood with his pants pulled down over his hips, his hands firmly placed on the dark hair of the woman kneeling in front of him. The woman, in her late thirties, was in obvious distress as the vampire tried to force himself past her gag reflex and into her throat.
Buffy took a sharp intake of breath, and Angel twisted in the chair to see what had unsettled her.
Oh shit. These types of scenes were so commonplace that he had forgotten they could still upset her.
“Come on,” he said, taking her hand and pulling her from the table. But the damage had been done, and she was agitated and upset.
Out of sight of the booths, he pulled her into his arms.
“So much pain, Angel.” She buried her face against his shoulder. “So much misery.”
Angel tightened his arms round her, running a comforting hand over her back. She took everything personally, as though every person who suffered was her fault, and he didn’t know what to say to comfort her.
When Buffy pulled away from his embrace, she looked tired and pale.
“I want to go home,” she announced, folding her arms across her tight bodice and hugging herself defensively. “Can you get us some more to drink?”
“Of course.” He reached across to touch her cheek. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah,” she lied, and watched as Angel strode across the dance floor to the bar. God, she felt tired. Leaning back against one of the Phoenix’s ornamental white pillars, Buffy pulled her arms tighter across her chest, rubbing her arms as though trying to drive away the cold.
Seeing the vampire with the kneeling woman earlier had evoked a half-forgotten painful memory, and one of the reasons she no longer wanted to fight.
It was back in the early days – after – when she still thought that she could make a difference. She had come across a similar scene – a human woman distressed and choking – as a vampire drove deep into her throat. Buffy was so incensed that she yanked him away from the girl and jammed a stake through his heart in one swift movement. She stepped to the girl and offered her a hand up.
“What do you think you’re doing?” the woman shrieked, ignoring Buffy’s helping hand and scrambling to her feet.
Taken aback by the venom in the woman’s tone, Buffy mumbled, “Well, I was…. saving you…?”
“You should mind your own damn business.” The woman snarled, waving her hand toward the dusted vamp. “Have you any idea how unpleasant that was?”
Buffy watched mutely as the woman whirled away and snatched up her discarded jacket.
“But, it’s what I have to do to keep my family safe.” She glared at Buffy. “But now, thanks to your interference, we have no protection.”
“I’ll pro…” Buffy started, but the infuriated woman wasn’t listening; she flounced out of the building, leaving behind one very bewildered and hurt Slayer.
Withdrawing from the memory, Buffy realised with concern that Angel had been gone a long time. The barmen were afraid of them, and usually served them promptly.
Scanning along the bar, her eyes settled on Angel, and her breath hitched in her throat. He wasn’t alone.
A gorgeous brunette, almost wearing a scarlet dress slashed to her navel and split to her thigh, had him pinned against the bar, her hand on his shoulder and leaning in close. Angel was making no attempt to move away from her, and Buffy – hurt and angry – began pushing furiously through the dancers to get to them. Startled vampires caught her expression and parted rapidly before her – like Moses at the Red Sea.
Arriving at Angel’s side, Buffy snapped icily, “You gonna introduce me to your friend?”
“This is… uh…” Angel faltered, belatedly realising that he didn’t know her name.
The woman took a languid step back, and her disdainful appraisal of the Slayer suddenly made Buffy feel very young and very unsophisticated.
“We’re talking here, honey,” the brunette said dismissively. “Why don’t you come back when you’re all grown up?”
Stung, Buffy retorted, “Why don’t you come back when you’ve got something between your ears?” and winced at the lameness of it.
The woman gave a short bark of laughter, and swept Buffy with a condescending glance.
“You really are naive, aren’t you, honey? Men don’t want a woman to talk to, they want one to make them forget.”
She leant against Angel’s chest and purred, “You wanna forget, honey? You know where to find me.”
She sauntered off into the crowd, and Buffy marvelled that she managed to walk at all in a dress that looked four sizes too small. To her chagrin, Angel had also noticed, and was watching her retreating form with appreciation. For Buffy, this was the last straw.
“Outside,” she hissed, sweeping past him and marching out to the back exit.
Angel sighed. Things were not going well tonight. He picked up the bottle he’d left on the counter, and the bartender caught his eye.
“Any last requests?”
Angel smirked. “I can handle her.”
“Maybe,” the barman said carefully. “But I wouldn’t want to piss off the Slayer.”
Angel shrugged. “I like to live dangerously.”
He followed Buffy outside to the alley, and carefully stashed the bottle in a safe niche. Buffy was pacing, clearly agitated, and spun angrily on him when he stepped into the secluded area.
“What THE HELL were you playing at?”
“It’s a crime to talk to people now?” he replied mildly.
“You were NOT talking to her, Angel! You were drooling in her shoes!”
“I didn’t notice her shoes.” he said dryly.
“Of course not!” Buffy snarled. “You were too busy staring at her ‘other’ ample attributes! How could you?” Obviously upset, Buffy added – somewhat obscurely - “…and you know, they weren’t even real!”
“They looked real to me,” Angel replied. He caught Buffy’s glare and realised that he’d just made a tactical error.
“You looked?” She shrieked.
“I have eyes, Buffy,“ he replied quietly. He knew her well enough to know she wasn’t really angry with him; she was just upset by the earlier events of the evening, and he was a handy target to lash out at.
“Typical bloody male.” Her anger suddenly burnt itself out, and she stopped pacing. “I hate you.” She said plaintively.
“No you don’t,” Angel said, moving toward her. “You’re just pissed.” In more ways than one.
“Not enough," she said sadly, her eyes linking with his as his arms slid round her. “Not nearly enough.”
“Maybe not,” he agreed softly, hitching her up and sitting her on some nearby boxes. Buffy pulled him closer, drawing his head down in a searing kiss. Buffy moaned as Angel’s tongue coupled with hers, and his left hand crept under her top to caress the bare skin.
“Angel…” Buffy’s arms wrapped round his neck, allowing him better access to her body. The hand crawled higher, exploring the curve of her breast and causing her to arch toward his hand. Angel’s right hand was rubbing the inside of her thigh, under her skirt, and she wriggled in frustration, trying to make him go higher. His fingers inched along her leg until he brushed against her wet curls. He already knew she wasn’t wearing underwear, since he’d watched her get dressed.
“Angel…” She begged again, as his fingers danced across her sensitive skin, and never quite giving her what she wanted. “Why aren’t you inside me now?” She grumbled into his shoulder, squirming against his hand.
Angel’s lips caressed her cheek, and he murmured triumphantly, “I thought you hated me?”
“Don’t be stupid,” she hissed at him, yanking his head round and kissing him savagely. Angel grunted, responding to her urgent kiss, and Buffy’s impatient fingers tore at his zip and his clothing, sliding her hand inside and grabbing hold of him. Angel forgot he was meant to be teasing her, all thoughts suddenly scrambled by the small hand on his body, guiding him inside her. She wrapped her legs round his waist, as he obligingly pushed all the way home. Buffy cried out as he filled her, the sound muffled by the fusion of his lips on hers.
Buffy suddenly wrenched her mouth from his, shrieking as her orgasm convulsed her and sent shock waves spiralling through her body. Angel stilled, trying to hold back for her, but the violent contraction of her muscles made the task impossible, and he decided to go with it, increasing his rhythm until she screamed her release a second time and he came with her,
After a while, the couple reluctantly pulled apart and Angel refastened his clothing.
“Do you want to go back inside?”
Buffy shivered, rubbing her bare arms with the cold. “Not really.”
Angel pulled off his jacket, and draped it round her shoulders. She looked tiny in the large garment. Angel appraised her flushed and tousled appearance, and marvelled at how gorgeous she was. He wrapped a protective arm round her. “Let’s get you home.”
Buffy bent to retrieve Angel’s alcoholic prize, and leant comfortably back into his embrace.
The walk back to the Hyperion was conducted largely in silence. Angel had never been big with words, and Buffy had become much more reticent since the day that the world changed. The walk took longer than it might have; due to the number of times that they stopped on route to make out in dark places and abandoned buildings. Buffy was even more taciturn than usual, and after arriving back at their rooms, Angel asked, “What’s up?”
Buffy attempted a nonchalant shrug, but Angel knew something was bothering her. Was she still brooding over the exchange booths?
“Did you want her?” Buffy asked suddenly, and Angel blinked. Her?
“The girl in the club,” Buffy clarified. “Did you want to sleep with her?”
Angel frowned. Where the hell did she get that idea from?
“Of course not,” he replied diplomatically. He had actually forgotten about the girl after his liaison with Buffy in the alley. Why was Buffy still thinking about it? Was she really jealous?
Angel sat on the edge of the bed and pulled off his shoes. Buffy hadn’t said another word, and he looked up at her.
“What’s this about, Buffy? You know that I only want you.”
She looked away, and he reached forward and took her hand.
“You do know that, don’t you?” he asked.
“I guess," she replied uncertainly. “But she was very pretty, and she had a nice figure, and I don’t… really…have much…” She trailed away, looking awkward and embarrassed.
Angel stared incredulously at her.
“You think I wanted her because she had bigger breasts?” he exclaimed. He pulled Buffy closer, deciding that he was never going to understand women. “Christ, Buffy. How shallow do you think I am?”
Buffy let Angel slide his arms round her waist.
“I know how much you guys like a… handful…” she began, but this was too much for Angel and he pulled her down onto his lap and made her giggle.
“I’ve been around a long time, Buffy.” He told her seriously. “You think I’ve never encountered a pretty girl before?”
Buffy stared up at him without answering. He nuzzled at her neck, and slowly slid his hand up her leg to disappear under her skirt.
“Trust me, Buffy,” he said seductively. “You’re enough of a handful for any man…”
A couple of days later, Angel returned to their rooms to find Buffy in the kitchen washing some small garments. He reverted to stealth mode, creeping up behind her and sliding his arms round her waist. She didn’t even flinch, and he reflected that it was no fun trying to startle someone who could sense you.
“I missed you,” he murmured, tracing a line round her throat with his lips.
“Mmm.” Buffy replied, enjoying the feel of his hands and lips touching her, and excited by his body rubbing against her back and hips.
She placed her hands against the sink and pushed back at him, moaning a little as he aroused her further with the rhythm of his body against hers. Angel leant forward to taste her lips. He had meant the kiss to be gentle, but it quickly escalated into a passionate encounter that left them both breathless.
Angel smiled at her as they pulled apart, but he was disturbed by her pale and weary appearance. The girl could use some sun. Not that there was much chance of that; the sun didn’t show its face very much these days, and the once glorious Californian sunshine was reduced to a muted and miserable haze.
“We should stay in tonight,” he told her, rubbing the back of his hand against her cheek. “You look beat.”
“I am,” she agreed. “I thought that maybe… you could… you know… get us something?”
Angel tensed, and his heart sank at her hopeful expression.
“Maybe we should wait another few days?” he suggested.
“I have waited,” she exclaimed. “Angel, you promised. You said if I waited three weeks you’d get us something.”
“Please,” she begged, hating the whine in her voice, but not really caring very much if it got her what she wanted.
“Okay,” he agreed reluctantly, and Buffy kissed him gratefully. But although he returned her kiss, the exchange had killed the earlier mood and Angel broke the kiss and moved away.
Buffy watched as he went into the other room; he was trying not to show it, but she could tell he was upset. He didn’t like ‘Using that crap’, but she knew he’d get it for them just the same.
For the next couple of hours, the atmosphere between them was strained. Buffy was tense and fidgety, and Angel was subdued, anticipating the time when he’d have to go and do the deed.
Finally, the time came when Angel could get what she wanted. His contacts for the drug were only available at certain times, and he’d had to wait most of the day. He tried to get her to reconsider, but she just shook her head. She was certain. He sighed, donned his duster, and was gone.
Buffy crossed to the window, and waited until she saw him cross the street. She doubted that anyone else could see him, but she’d had a lot of practice peering into the dark. Another figure crossed the street, heading to the hotel. The figure attempted stealth, but she was human and inexperienced. The shape belonged to Mary, a member of one of the four human families that Angel allowed to use the back rooms of the Hyperion. They were meant to pay rent, but Buffy doubted that Angel had ever actually collected it.
Her relationship with Mary had deteriorated after the time she had come to them for a favour; she hadn’t spoken to Mary since then, and that was two years ago.
Two years previous
Buffy answered the knock on the door, to find Mary and her husband Alex, standing awkwardly in the hall. She invited them in, and Alex asked to speak to Angel.
Angel came through from the kitchen, and took in the embarrassed couple.
“What can I do for you?” he asked politely.
Alex shifted uncomfortably.
“We wanted to ask if you would… uh…mark us?”
Angel shook his head. “I can’t offer you anything Alex. You should make the exchange with someone who can help you.”
“You do help us,” Mary said. “You give us shelter, Angel. We know we’re safe here.”
“Without a mark,” Alex went on, “we’re a magnet for every vampire in the vicinity. We don’t want to run the risk of winding up dead from a vamp who won’t stop.”
“Feeding is dangerous. How do you know that I would be able to stop?”
“We don’t,” he replied. “But we trust you.”
“Angel, please?” Mary added.
For a moment there was silence.
The voice came from Buffy, and everyone turned to look at her. Unconcerned, she went on. “Angel has taken a mate. He can’t feed on anyone else.”
“But…” Mary began desperately.
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said firmly. "But Angel can’t help you.”
Mary turned to Angel beseechingly, but he just apologised and echoed Buffy’s statement.
Disappointed and dejected, the couple left their rooms, and Buffy shut the door firmly behind them. She crossed the room, wondering how far she was going to get before Angel…
“You want to explain that?”
“What?” she asked innocently.
“The ‘Vampire has taken a mate’ crap.”
“It’s not crap. You have taken a mate, haven’t you?”
“That’s not what I mean, and you know it. Why didn’t you want me to help them?”
“Because you’re mine,” she hissed back. “You know how intimate feeding can be, Angel. How many times have I come when you drink from me?” Buffy crossed the room to stand in front of him. “I won’t share you, Angel. If you’re hungry, I can give you more; but while you’re with me, you don’t get food or sex from anyone but me. You got that?”
Angel didn’t reply immediately, struggling to keep his own anger under control.
“Yeah, I’ve got it,” he said finally, his voice tight. “But what about you?”
“Right. I won’t get food from anyone else.” She smirked, but her eyes flashed as she added, “And if you give me what I want, I won’t have to go elsewhere.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Angel snapped. “Am I failing you in some way?”
“If you’re asking about sex, it’s okay,” she retorted, but there was no mistaking the hurt in his eyes, and her voice softened. “It’s great, actually. But sharing you is like… adultery, and I won’t do it.”
Angel’s stance straightened, and he looked upset and confused.
“What do you want from me, Buffy?” he asked, softly.
Surprised by the question, Buffy took a moment to consider her answer.
“I want to take comfort from you. I want great sex. I want your loyalty, your support and your strength.”
“You have those.” He waited, but the word he wanted to hear wasn’t there. He took a deep breath, not entirely certain he wanted to hear the answer, and asked, “Do you love me?”
Buffy flinched and looked away.
“Love has no place here, Angel. Love is bad, it’s dangerous and it gets you dead. Don’t ask me to say it Angel, because I can’t.”
There was an edge of panic in her voice, and Angel’s expression hardened.
“All right then,” he replied. “I’ll make it easy for you. Tell me that you don’t love me.”
For a moment, he thought she was going to do exactly that. But her eyes held his, and she kept silent. Well, that was something at least…
“Buffy…” he began, “If you don’t love me that’s okay.” But, god, it hurts… “But I can’t stop loving you.”
Buffy broke eye contact and looked down; the tone of his voice grew softer. “Buffy… what I feel for you…” He paused, searching for the right words. “It’s the only thing left in this world that still feels right.”
Buffy looked up to meet his eyes again. She knew how much he loved her, and she knew how badly she had hurt him. Suddenly feeling bad, she wondered what kind if a bitch she’d turned into. She felt that she wanted to make it up to him, make it right, and she wanted to show him that she still cared for him. Still holding eye contact, she dropped to her knees and began to unfasten the zip on his pants.
An odd expression crossed his face, and to her surprise, he stepped away from her and refastened his zip. He held out his hand and helped her to her feet.
A muscle twitched in his jaw as he said tightly, “You don’t have to prove anything to me, Buffy.”
As Angel walked away from her, Buffy’s confusion twisted into the realisation that she had just made the situation ten times worse.
Buffy lay curled up on the bed. Angel had been gone for a while, and she felt knotted up with anticipation. A sound in the hall made her jump to her feet and scurry to the door. Angel was just coming down the corridor and she hurried out barefoot to help him.
She slipped an arm round his waist, offering her support as he swayed a little entering their rooms. She helped him over to the bed, pulled off his duster and dropped it on the floor. He sat down on the edge of the bed, where Buffy pulled off his shoes and dropped them next to his coat. She helped him lay back, and then she hurried round the other side of the bed, crawling across the sheets to kneel beside him.
“Feed me,” she begged, excitement making her squirm. Angel pushed up the sleeve of his sweater, dug the fingers of his other hand in the skin and raked a bloody line across his wrist. Almost before the blood flowed properly, Buffy had latched onto the wound and began to drink eagerly.
Angel watched her with a mixture of revulsion and excitement. Part of him knew that she shouldn’t – no human should – be doing this; but the vampire part was intensely aroused by it.
Buffy’s frantic suckling at his wrist increased, and Angel’s hand went to the back of her neck.
“Buffy.” She paid no mind to his warning, and he repeated it, tightening his grip on her neck and yanking her away from the blood. She whimpered, trying to wriggle forward again, but Angel held on to her firmly.
“Give it time,” he said gently. “The drugs will kick in soon.”
She nodded reluctantly, and he relinquished his hold on her neck. She knew it would only take a few moments, but it was frustrating to wait, and she wanted to feel the effects of the drugs now…
She sat back on her haunches, her hand accidentally trailing across Angel’s lap, and he gasped. He always got very excited when they did this, though she wasn’t certain if it was the feeding that got to him or the drugs themselves. She twisted on the bed to reach him better, and deftly undid his leather belt and opened the zip on his pants. She quickly freed his erection and gently stroked the swollen skin. He shuddered from her gentle touch, so aroused that even the feather-light touch of her breath made him groan.
Reaching forward, she slid her tongue against the cool skin, eliciting a moan that rumbled from somewhere deep in his chest. His hand found its way to the back of her head, gently encouraging her.
“Buffy…” he said, somehow managing to make the single word sound like a plea. Usually, he liked her to take her time and make the sensations last, but right now he was desperate for release and she ducked her head lower to take all of him in her mouth. Her head swam, and she knew that if she was going to do this for him, she would have to be quick.
She increased her rhythm, and Angel hissed as she swept him along and over the precipice in a flurry of oral friction. He cried out, the sound more like a howl of pain than pleasure. Both hands clenched painfully into fists, and the hand that rested on the back of Buffy’s head twisted in her hair and nearly wrenched a handful out. She didn’t notice, the drugs now circulating in her system and drowning out her surroundings.
She had collapsed against his stomach, and he half-lifted and half-guided her back up to the safety of his chest. He leant forward, kissing the top of her head.
“Ssokay,” she mumbled, slipping rapidly into the dream world that awaited her.
Smiling slightly, Angel straightened his clothing, and pulled the covers up round her shoulders. He leant back a little so that he could look at her. The muscles in her back were ironing out, and the haunted look had left her face. He stared at her, transfixed. The only times he ever saw her really relaxed was after sex and when she was on the drugs.
She was smiling now, and he wondered what she was seeing. In humans, the drug induced a hallucinogenic state; it didn’t work the same way on vampires. He found it gave him a sense of peace, a feeling of all things being in their right place.
“Hello, Will,” Buffy said, and the happiness on her face broke his heart. Sunnydale, then. But that was usually where the drug took her, and he would hear her talking to people long dead as though she was really there. Sometimes, she would talk to dream Angel, and he wondered if he hurt her as much as the real one had.
In the early hours, Angel slipped out of bed. He had held her all night, watching over her during her dream state. She was sleeping now, and he felt the need to be by himself.
He bent to pick up his duster and shoes, and put them away neatly. He crossed to the window, and looked down into the deserted street. He had enjoyed the euphoria of the night before, but now he knew that he would have to pay for it. There was a side effect to the drug that he had never told her about. The process of coming down from the drug evoked old memories, usually ones that he really didn’t want to remember. He had tried to fight it in the past, but it just made the whole thing more unpleasant, and he had learnt to go with it and let the images come.
Why had he never told her? Perhaps because she would want to know what memories had been stirred up and the last thing he wanted was to inflict those nightmares on her. But, the real reason was guilt. He deserved the unpleasantness because this whole drug scenario came about because of him, and Buffy’s subsequent dependence on it was all his fault.
The memories were beginning to appear, an abundance of images curling inside his mind. Sometimes he remembered his time in Hell, sometimes the atrocities that Angelus had committed. The pictures forming now were the ones he dreaded the most, and he steeled himself for them. They began after the destruction of the city. He went through the harrowing process of finding the remains of all his friends in the rubble. The things he saw then would stay with him forever. As each body was recovered or accounted for, he sank lower and lower into depression and anger. Why hadn’t The Powers warned them? Why hadn’t Cordelia had a vision and been saved? When he realised that everyone was gone, he had been grief-stricken. Then his thoughts turned to Buffy. Had she survived? He had to know, and so had high-tailed it straight back to Sunnydale.
Her house on Revello Drive was gone. The whole damn street was gone. Where her house had stood was just a pile of rubble, and he approached the building with dread. Had she even been here when it happened? Was she dead? He stood next to the wreckage, not knowing what to do. Then, just as he was about to walk away, he felt her. She was there, somewhere, and she was alive.
He clawed at the debris with his bare hands, digging into the mess with a growing sense of fear. When the sun rose, he found a rug and carried on, keeping covered as much as possible, but still gaining third-degree burns and not caring. He couldn’t stop, daren’t stop, because if he did she might die, and he couldn’t let her go again.
He found her in the basement. It looked like she had tried to get under the stairs in the futile hope of safety. She was alive but unconscious, though her arm was obviously broken. The worst part though was the fact that she held Dawn protectively in her good arm. The girl was dead, her neck broken, and when Angel tried to pry Buffy’s fingers from her sister they refused to give her up.
Angel blinked, the memories hammering unrelenting; it was unpleasant to remember how distressed Buffy had been over the death of her sister. Before he brought her back to Los Angeles, she had insisted that they bury Dawn so that nothing could get at her. She had checked up on all her friends to make sure they weren’t lying injured somewhere, but they were all dead, and she was devastated over everything that had happened. She said, “I once told Giles that if anything happened to Dawn I would quit. What the hell do you think I’m gonna do now?”
She largely kept her word, too. She no longer killed vampires, no longer cared about the forces of darkness. A few times she had tried to help others – old habits perhaps – but each time was a disaster, and she eventually withdrew even that small attempt at duty. She and Angel lived by their own rules, and stayed together because all they had was each other.
Then one day, the frail shell of humans decided they were going to take their city back. Armed with any weapon they could find, they marched on the vampires and demons in a futile display of bravado. Angel knew that they would be no match for the evil that they faced, and went down to help them, and, against her better judgement, Buffy went along too.
During the fight, Angel vamped, and the crowd turned on him too. One of the men snatched up a fallen weapon carried by one of the demons and fired it at him, just as Buffy walked in front of him. Knowing the weapon was lethal to humans, Angel pushed her to one side but the weapon still caught her a glancing blow.
She dropped without a sound, and Angel cradled her in his arms and fled back to the hotel. Anyone who tried to stop him was cast aside, but most were so frightened by his anger, that they didn’t attempt to intervene.
“Buffy,” Angel tried, as he laid her on the bed. She was alive, though unconscious and weak, and he knew that she would now be dead if she hadn’t been the Slayer.
He waited apprehensively by her side until she regained consciousness, but his relief when she came to was short-lived. As soon as she started to come round, her body convulsed and she began to scream.
Angel’s instinct was to take her in his arms, but even his touch was too painful for her. He tried every painkiller that he could find, but nothing worked; he tried mystical remedies, spells, even some demon cures, but all to no avail.
Angel was frantic. He had seen people go insane from that kind of pain, and in desperation he eventually resorted to knocking her unconscious. He knew it wasn’t the answer; he could cause her brain damage if he wasn’t careful, but by that time he would have done anything to alleviate her pain.
The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on Angel, either. He, the creature that had gotten off by causing pain and misery everywhere he went, was now distraught by the pain of another. But Buffy was different; he couldn’t bear to see her suffer, and he vowed to find something that would help her.
He heard about a powerful painkiller made by Stra’at demons, but it was so strong that no human could take it and live. Angel went see them; he wanted to find out if there was a way she could take it – minute doses perhaps – in safety.
Yes, they told him. They had heard of one way that she might survive. But it needed his participation for it to work; he had to dilute it with his own blood, because even a tiny dose of the concentrate would be fatal for a human being. But they warned him not to let her take too much.
At that point Angel would have tried anything. The Stra’at tasted disgusting, but he forced himself to feed, and returned to the hotel, praying that this cure would work when all the others hadn’t. He yanked off his shirt and sat on the edge of the bed, and raked his nails across his neck. He pulled Buffy’s contorting body onto his lap and drew her head to his neck. He had to hold her still, while he forced her lips against the wound, holding her in place until she had no choice but to drink.
This is wrong, a little voice said. He ignored it. He kept her face pressed against his neck. It would work… it had to. And it did. He felt her body relaxing as the pain began to cease. The screaming stopped, and her arms went reflexively round his neck as she drank from him eagerly.
Oh, thank god. Angel buried his face in her hair, overcome with emotion. He liked what she was doing to him and he didn’t want her to stop. It took enormous self-control to pull her away. She squirmed on his lap, trying to get back to the blood, and he had the sudden overwhelming urge to push her back on the bed and screw her.
Horrified by the notion, he swept her off his lap and onto the bed. He covered her with the blanket and retreated backwards. He was pleased with the speed that the drug worked on her and he hoped there were no unforseen side effects. But he was disgusted by his own reaction; he could never take advantage of her like that. He watched her from the safety of the armchair, relieved at last to have a way to lessen her misery.
Much of the next two weeks passed in a blur. Angel, not as dosed as Buffy but still not in full possession of his faculties, kept her sedated; he learnt how long to let her feed, and eased back on the dose as she recovered. It excited him that she welcomed the blood, though he doubted that she was aware of what she was drinking; only that it took away the pain.
When Buffy had recovered from her injuries, he cut back on the dose, trying to wean her off. The drug wasn’t supposed to be addictive but Buffy had been on such a high dosage, for so long, that she suffered withdrawal symptoms. When she was lucid, came the hardest part of all; explaining to her that the wonderful place she had lived in for two weeks didn’t exist any more.
She freaked. She was so furious that she pummelled the walls in frustration, she shouted and screamed over the loss of her family, her friends, and the whole damn world. She cursed the Powers, cursed her Slayer abilities, and finally, she turned on him.
Throwing herself at him, she screamed he should have let her die, shouldn’t have turned her into a freaking vampire whore. In self-defence, Angel was forced to restrain her as she kicked and punched, taking out all her frustration on him. He held her tightly, pulling her against his body until her anger wore itself out. Inevitably, they ended up on the kitchen floor having sex, and when it was over, she clung to him, wrapping her arms and legs tightly round his body, and cried.
She cried for nearly two days, until he finally relented and agreed to take the drug for her – but only on the condition that she take a reduced dose with the view of kicking the habit altogether. She knew it was the best deal she was going to get from him, and so she reluctantly agreed.
She now only took the drug once every three weeks, and he hoped that eventually she would be free of it altogether.
His musings were interrupted as Buffy woke up. She was disorientated and he could hear the fear in her voice as she woke up alone. Something else to feel guilty for.
“I’m here,” he told her. “I’m right here.”
She smiled at him, finally seeing his shape against the window. She shivered, pulling the covers up higher.
“Come back to bed, Angel.”
“I will,” he replied. “Soon.”
“It’s cold,” she grumbled.
“So am I.” He said sadly.
“I’ll warm you,” she replied, her voice seductive.
That was too good an offer to miss, and Angel went back to the bed. He pulled back the covers and got in. Buffy rolled on top of him, straddling his hips and took off her shirt. She bared her neck for him, leaning in closer, and watched in fascination as the brown eyes shifted to gold, and his brow began to thicken and grow ridges.
But to her surprise, his features returned to human, and puzzled, Buffy asked, “Aren’t you hungry?”
“Yes,” he said softly. “But first, I wanted… to touch you?”
Buffy frowned, confused by his question. Of course he had permission to touch her – he had permission to do anything he wanted to her. She nodded slightly, and he raised his hand to her face.
He ran his fingers along the curve of her skin; so gentle it was almost non-existent. She shivered, feeling a bit like a cat as she rubbed her face back against his questing fingers. His touch, so light from a man of his size, continued across her face as though he was trying to memorise everything about her. His fingers traced her lips, her eyes, and her cheeks before venturing down over her neck and shoulders.
Buffy closed her eyes, surrendering herself to his touch. This was nice; he was touching her the way he used to, as though she were a fragile flower, and she decided she liked it. She remembered he used to this, before…. before… her eyes snapped open. …Before the day everything changed. Suddenly afraid, her heartbeat increased and her body stiffened.
“Easy,” he smiled. Buffy didn’t smile back. She didn’t know why she was so afraid, why the caress made her so uneasy. But his fingers, unrelenting, continued their journey, and part of her wanted to respond to him. I can’t, I can’t… Angel… please…
“Why don’t you drink, now?” she asked, trying to distract him.
“I will,” he promised.
“I’m not staying like this all day,” she said irritably. “You don’t want it, maybe I’ll change my mind.”
Angel’s hand stilled. “Then I’ll go hungry,” he replied, calling her bluff.
His hand resumed its exploration. Something was getting to her, and he wanted to find out what it was.
Buffy was afraid. Her body wanted to respond to him, but her mind rebelled. I can’t do this… don’t…
She wriggled back on his lap, trying another tactic.
“I want you inside me,” she begged.
“You’ll get it,” he promised.
“Angel…” she begged, Please, please, I can’t… don’t make me remember…
She made a sudden move to get up, but Angel was ready for her, swinging her round and pinning her to the bed with his body. He continued his homage to her, not quite certain what she was afraid of. When his kisses reached her ribs, he heard a strange noise and looked up. She was crying. He didn’t stop, just worked his way down her body steadily. By the time he got back to her face, she was almost panic-stricken, and moaning incoherently.
“Sssh,” he whispered, finally giving in to her attempts to seduce him, and he slid inside her. He caressed her with kisses, and the gentle movement of his body, until she calmed. He said, “You know I love you, don’t you?”
“I know,” Buffy pushed back at him, joining in his rhythm, and added quietly, “I love you too.”