Part Three

DISTRIBUTION: For Margriet & indie. What did I ever do without you two? *smooch*


When Angel saw Buffy for the first time, she was almost seventeen years old, working the counter at the Espresso Pump down the street from his office building. At 24, he was newly successful in the business world and the most recent in a long line of LA's sexiest playboys. One moment, he was thinking about how to finish his workload and still take one of his lovers away for the weekend and the next, he was tripping over himself to be closer to the teenager behind the counter. A short trip to the coffee shop to get a jolt of caffeine and he ended up with the love of his love and lukewarm decaf.

Normally he would have taken one look at he packed crowd inside that place and skipped the coffee so he wouldn't be late to his meeting, but that day he went in, stood in the inordinately long line, watching the little blonde slip of a girl behind the counter rushing around frazzled. Her hair bounced in its ponytail as she ran around trying to be polite while she hurried, her face flushed from exertion.

Angel had over a half hour to watch her, taking in every detail of her. He watched as the more upset she got, the further her lower lip would protrude and how she narrowed her pretty hazel eyes when someone was rude. He ordered the coffee of the day, accepted the wrong order with an absurd amount of appreciation and had to make himself step to the side when she moved on to the next customer. He was so completely taken with her, that he absentmindedly stuffed his change in the tip jar, not noticing that it was over eighteen dollars.

Before that day, he had never stayed there to drink his coffee. He wouldn't have been caught dead hanging out in the Espresso Pump when he had clients to meet and women to seduce. That day, however, he missed the client dinner because he sat down at the nearest table and sipped his coffee and four others just like it as he waited for her to get off work. All in all, he spent fifty-five dollars and sixty five cents in coffee and tips that night. When she got off work, he asked her out. Buffy looked up at him, smiled shyly and told him that harassment was illegal in all fifty states.

Now years later, Angel sat in the middle of his bed, on top of wrinkled sheets and remembered chuckling at her and being delighted by her irritation. He took a swig of the bottle in his hand and grimaced. He didn't even like to drink, but sometimes if he drank enough, he could pretend she was with him and make himself believe it.

It had been days since he had finally made love to Buffy again, days since she told him she didn't want him to be in her life anymore and he still couldn't believe his ears. Sure, she had left him and tried to divorce him, but she never said she didn't want to be a part of his life again. He took another drink and scrunched his brow in confusion. What the hell did she want anyway?


Buffy had been in the general vicinity of Wolfram & Hart for over two hours, walking around, dawdling at water fountains and bathroom mirrors. She had thought and rethought every detail of her plan for the past few days, but it still took every bit of strength she had to put a dazzling smile on her face and stroll into Lindsey McDonald's office.

"Be right with you," he mumbled, poring over what looked to be a contract of some kind. She waited semi-patiently and struggled to keep herself from prancing from one foot to another. The breakneck height of her strappy high heels helped in keeping her still as did the snug fit of her new dress. Pretending to be casual, she leaned seductively against the wall and burned holes into him until he looked up in her direction.

"Hello Buffy," he said, eyes widening. He looked her up and down twice, stopping along the way to take in the dangerous plunge of her neckline and the sexy expanse of bared thigh, before he managed to get another sentence out. "I wasn't expecting you."

"Your secretary said your last appointment canceled so I didn't think you'd mind if I filled in," she said, sauntering across the office with a sway that those high heels did a lot to accentuate. She circled his desk and leaned on it beside him, smiling down at him. "I was wondering if you had any plans this weekend."

"I have a big deposition on Monday," he said slowly, allowing her suspicious behavior to sink in, "So, it's going to be mostly research this weekend. Why do you ask, Buff?"

"I was just thinking," she answered, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder and giving him her best come hither look, "you have that big, empty house in New York and I really want to get away for a while. What do you think about playing hooky with me?"

"Not that I'm not thrilled with idea, but Angel-" Lindsey began. Buffy placed a finger to his lips and shook her head. She looked down as she felt her eyes filling with tears and took a second to calm herself before meeting his eyes again. Sliding closer, she leaned in to Lindsey, tracing his sensual mouth with her index finger. "Just tell me you don't want me, Linds, and I'll leave," she said quietly.

"He's my friend," he said, sitting back in his chair and rolling a foot away. "To tell you the truth he's my only real friend. If we slept together..." he tapered off and shuddered at the thought. Shaking his head, he met her eyes.

"If you won't do this, I'll find someone who will," Buffy said quietly, no longer pretending to be the wild seductress. She knew he wouldn't be fooled. She just didn't understand why her mind and her heart wouldn't cooperate. When she thought about sleeping with someone else, even a man as attractive as Lindsey McDonald, she felt like her internal organs were collapsing. The idea of being naked with someone else, let alone letting that person touch her and enter her body, made her throat constrict.

She moved even closer to him and forced herself to slide into his lap. She perched there lightly and made an effort to breathe normally. "I need your help, Linds," Buffy said quietly, "I know you're attracted to me and I've always felt the same way. More importantly, I trust you and I know I'm a horrible person for asking this of you, but I need Angel to understand that I'm not going to continue this freak show of a relationship anymore."

Buffy had never felt quite so all alone when she was actually sitting on someone else, but he didn't touch her, didn't move…hell, he didn't breathe. Slowly, she started to rise and she gasped when his arm shot out and pulled her back onto his lap. He pulled her tightly against him, allowing her to feel his arousal. His breath was hot against her ear when he spoke.

"I've wanted you since the first time Angel introduced me to you," he whispered. His jaw was clenched as he spoke and he moved his hands to clutch the arms of his expensive leather desk chair. He was glad he didn't have to meet her eyes. He closed them and inhaled the scent of her hair, remembering being the best man at their wedding, remembered Angel's face when he married the girl of their dreams. Lindsey was sure that any love he was capable of belonged to her. Whether he slept with her or not, he already knew he would regret his actions for the rest of his life...however long that might be.

"He'll never trust me again," Lindsey said finally. He swiveled forward with Buffy and hit a button on his phone. A tone sounded before a female voice answered, "Can I help you, Mr. McDonald?"

"Yes, get me two first class tickets to New York City for tonight."


Angel paced up and down the sidewalk in front of Lindsey's house, wondering how long he would wait before he did something drastic. He wasn't sure how much time had passed but he knew he'd been in front of this house for at least eight hours. Maybe more and even though he knew Buffy was in there with Lindsey, he couldn't make himself believe that she was actually with Lindsey. Sure, she wanted him to think she was but he knew it wasn't true, which was why he hadn't broken down the door yet.

It had taken him all of the time since Whistler called until now to come up with that solution. When he first heard the news that Lindsey had run off to his home in New York with Buffy, Angel had torn the closet door off and thrown it out the window. By the time he was done destroying everything in his path, his secretary had run out of the building trying to escape his wrath and his desk was lodged into the wall of his office. Still shaking from the news, he showered, dressed and caught the first plane out in a rage that destroying his office hadn't fixed.

But the more he thought about it the more he realized what was going on. The last couple of weeks, despite her efforts, Buffy had proven to him beyond the shadow of a doubt that she still loved him. If she hadn't shown up and climbed in his bed after he had missed his bi-weekly break-in into her apartment, if she had told him she didn't love him, if she hadn't let him make love to her, he might have been able to entertain the idea that she was actually over him.

"Can't get rid of me that easily, lover," he muttered, continuing his pace in front of the house. It was either that or huddle on the porch, but it was so cold he couldn't sit for more than a moment before his teeth started chattering. He wrapped his thin leather jacket around himself more tightly and continued to pace, cursing himself for not planning ahead for New York weather. Living in sunny California had spoiled him.


Inside of the house, Lindsey and Buffy were skittering around each other like scared rabbits. They had hardly spoken over the dinner she prepared and he didn't mention the teensy nightie she had slipped into or the fact that her hands were trembling so badly he thought she was a step away from a heart attack. Instead they sat on the couch and watched late night television together, neither mentioning that Angel was pacing outside like a caged tiger.

It was well after one o'clock in the morning when Buffy knew she couldn't stall any longer. She faked a yawn and stretched before rising to her feet.

"Are you ready?" she asked without meeting his eyes. This all seemed like a good idea before Angel showed up. She had even talked herself into thinking it was an adventure of sorts, that she was broadening her horizons. After all, she had never been with anyone except Angel. Those thoughts just made her heart pound in her chest and made her tremors worse.

"Sure," he said, flipping off the television and rising to his feet. He turned off the light and followed Buffy up the stairs to the Master bedroom. Each step creaked in the old house, each stair took it's time moving beneath their feet. They both paused just inside the door, awkwardly looking away from each other for several moments.

"Do you still want to go through with this?" he asked finally, allowing himself the pleasure of raking his eyes over her body. "You can still back out."

Every instinct in her body told her to run screaming out into the cold and jump into Angel's arms. Instead, she bit her lip and nodded. She walked over to the window and looked down at her husband standing the center of the front yard.

"He's going to hate us," she whispered, choking on a sob as she looked down on his still form in the dark. "He already does."

"No, darlin'," Lindsey said, moving closer to stand behind her, "not yet. He doesn't think we'll go through with it. He's not going to just stand there if he thinks I'm really about to fuck you." Together they looked out the window at Angel. He looked like a statue barely illuminated by the streetlights. His head was turned up as he looked in the window, his fists balled at his sides.

"When I was seventeen," Buffy said quietly, keeping her back to Lindsey, "I used to sneak him into my bedroom at night through a second story window like this one. Almost every other night, he would undress me and make love to me while my parents were just down the hall sleeping, thinking their little girl was sound asleep as well. I'll never forget the night that Daddy found Angel in my bed. They didn't even know we were dating."

"What happened?" he asked quietly.

"It was horrible," Buffy said, wrapping her arms around herself. "Angel climbed out of my bed naked and while I huddled under the sheets knowing I was going to die. I thought that was the end of my life. I just knew my happiness was over. He faced my father and told him he was going to marry me. Daddy threw him out of the house and said if he ever caught him on his property again, he'd have him arrested."

"I know you love him, Buffy. I know nothing will ever change that," Lindsey whispered, his breath stroking her ear. Buffy almost flinched when Lindsey's hand smoothed over her back, caressing her skin before wrapping one arm around her waist and pulling her against him. "Do you still want me to do this?" he asked. He pressed his mouth against her hair as he waited, closing his eyes as he inhaled her scent.

"Yes," she whispered.

Looking directly out the window at the man who had been his best friend for longer than he could remember, Lindsey swept Buffy's long blonde hair to the side and trailed his lips over her shoulder. Despite his guilt and the knowledge that he was about to do the worst thing he had ever done, he couldn't stop himself from wanting her. He slid the straps of her nightgown away and let it shimmer over her body to puddle at her feet. Raising his hands, he cupped her bare breasts, pinching her nipples while he pulling her back against him.

Buffy whirled in his arms and moved them rapidly away from the window. Lindsey captured her lips in his, slowing down her movements and making it look like it's was Buffy's excitement to be in his arms and not her fear that made her run from her husband's glare. If she wanted Angel to be sure of what they were doing, he was now.


Angel froze outside of the window and watched in disbelief as Lindsey's hands moved over her shoulders, sliding her nightgown from her body. The ground was swallowing him up as she stood motionless for a moment and then, as if on cue, she leaned her head back on Lindsey's shoulder and let him touch her. Lindsey leaned forward and kissed her neck and shoulders, cupped her bare breasts in his hands. Angel's stomach lurched so hard, he thought he was going to vomit his intestines.

"Buffy!" he screamed, running down the front door. The screen door was locked and he kicked at it until the glass shattered before unlocking and slamming his body against the door as hard as he could, but the solid oak only shuddered against his weight. His body was almost completely numb from being out in the cold for so long and he found that he couldn't get the strength he needed to get the door to budge.

"Buffy, please!" he screamed, pounding against the door again as hard as he could. "God, baby, don't do this!" he roared, slamming against it again. Hot, enraged tears streamed down his face as he moved back and released a round house kick. The door frame splintered, renewing hope with the sound.

He heard footsteps coming down the stairs and kicked again. The door gave and he stumbled into the house to find Lindsey standing there bare chested with a baseball bat in his hand. "Buffy!" Angel shouted into the house as he looked past Lindsey and up the stairs.

"Just turn around and go home, Angel," Lindsey said quietly. He had never seen anything like what he was seeing on Angel's face. He looked like his heart had been ripped out and only rage was keeping his body alive.

"Did you really think I'm going to stand by and let you fuck MY WIFE?" Angel roared, moving forward. His movements were stiff from the cold, but he was warming quickly.

"Buffy's upstairs calling the police," Lindsey said tensely, not moving. "I don't want to fight you, Angel. Just walk away."

"I hope she does call them," Angel growled, moving ever closer, "They can identify what's left of you."

"Angel, think about this," Lindsey said, raising the bat protectively and backing up a step. "You'll go to jail and you'll lose us both."

"I've already lost you both," he answered in low voice, "The minute you touched her…" Angel clamped his mouth shut as he waivered between rage and utter sorrow. "I can't believe you betrayed me. Both of you."


Part Four


Lindsey kissed Buffy with as much passion as he could muster given his friend was just outside his house. He cupped her bare breasts in his hands and caressed them, relishing in how they felt just as firm and silky as he always thought they would. Tears were already streaming down her cheeks, but she said nothing as he peeled his shirt off and pulled her back into his arms, resuming the kiss.

Angel's scream did not surprise him in the least, nor did the sound of the screen door caving in. He buried his hands in her long blonde hair, pulling her more tightly against him. Lindsey knew he was doing the wrong thing, yet he couldn't make himself stop.

He had just made it to the bed with Buffy in his arms when Angel's agonized shouts came wafting into the house, "Buffy, please!" Buffy jerked so hard when his voice rang out that she bit Lindsey's lip and backed away.

"God, baby, don't do this!" Angel roared. He was only breaking in the door but the whole house seemed to be rattling from the force of the estranged lovers' emotions. Lindsey looked at Buffy who had pressed herself against the wall, naked save for her wispy nothing of panties. Her eyes were squeezed tightly closed but tears leaked from them in a rainfall of pure desolation. Her body shook with the force of her sobs and one hand flew to cover her mouth.

Lindsey knew it was already over. He knew his one chance to be with her was for naught. Striding to the closet, he opened it and pulled out the bat resting against the wall in the corner before he headed downstairs. He had ruined a friendship - probably two - and knew that nothing would ever be the same again. Even though he knew he had done the wrong thing, that Buffy had essentially trapped him by her little attempt at seduction, he knew if he had the chance to relive that moment, he would have done it again. She asked and he gave, just as he had with the divorce papers. He would never understand why on earth the only woman he couldn't refuse had to be his best friend's wife.

The heavy wooden bat felt strange in his hands as he headed out of the room, not bothering to glance over his shoulder at her. He walked downstairs as he was, bare chested and bare foot and prepared to fight Angel over a woman that he hadn't had and would never have.


Angel shook with uncontained fury as he charged Lindsey and blocked two swings of the Louisville Slugger. Most of the impact was on his elbow and lower arm. It might have even broken a bone or two, but he felt nothing but anger and ultimate loss. He ripped the bat from Lindsey's half-hearted grasp and swung, watching in slow motion as blood spurted from Lindsey's nose. Tossing the weapon away Angel, grabbed his arms and hauled him closer.

"Why?" Angel roared, sweeping Lindsey's feet out from under him and slamming him back against the wooden stairs. Lindsey groaned, breathing out blood as his head and shoulders violently impacted with the steps.

"Because she asked me to," Lindsey panted, fighting to get his second wind and possibly get away with no more blood shed.

"You're not worth it!" Angel raged. He released him and staggered back, leaning against the wall for a second. He took deep, ragged breaths and waited as Lindsey sat up and slid down to sit, wiping the blood from his nose with the back of his hand.

"Leave," Angel said, as if he weren't commanding someone from his own house, "You can't have her. Just go."

"You think you can have her?" Lindsey said, rising to his feet. "Did you miss the part where this whole thing was staged to give you the bright, flashing signal you've been missing for two long years?"

"It doesn't matter," Angel sighed, heading up the stairs. It might have been death row for all the enthusiasm he had for that trip. He looked as utterly defeated as he felt, but he went because there was no other place to go.


Buffy had stayed against the wall, sliding down to sit and curling her legs up to her chin. She didn't hear any yelling anymore, no sounds of fighting or even the sound of anyone's approach. All she could hear was her own heartbeat raging in her ears and the gasping breaths she was trying to make. Once the tears had started, she couldn't make them stop. In all her life she had never felt more like a complete failure until now, which was exceptional since the last two years had been hell.

"Can you explain it?" Angel asked quietly from the doorway. She looked up and saw him leaning tiredly there against the doorframe, lightly splattered in blood.

"Did you kill him?" Buffy managed to squeak out between harsh breaths.

"No," Angel answered flatly, "but I wanted to."

She flinched with his first step and looked firmly at the floor as he moved just inside and lowered himself to the floor across the room. He leaned against the wall and stretched his long legs out before him, crossing them at the ankle and folding his arms over his broad chest.

"My whole life," he said in a monotone voice, void of emotion, "all I have ever loved was you. I worked so hard for so long getting money and women because that was what I thought I wanted and then you came into my life and suddenly all I wanted was to make you happy. All the money I had was for you. The cars, the house...for you. I started loving things like rubbing your hands between mine when they were cold and watching you sleep curled against me. Buffy, I know you still love me. God, I wish I didn't know!"

Buffy didn't answer or look at him, but hugged her legs, resting her chin on her knee and looking off into the distance. She folded herself more tightly and waited for him to speak again.

"I want to know why," Angel said finally, "You never once told me why you left me and now I'm giving you the chance. I'm going to give you the choice that you never bothered to give me. If you don't tell me what I did to make you walk away from me, if you don't explain right now, then that's it, you'll have your wish. I'll leave your life for good. I'll fire Whistler and I'll stop buying you presents. The stalking will stop, the breaking into your apartment will stop and the guard at the house will be released. Tell me now, Buffy, cause I can't stand one more day of this."

Angel stopped speaking and started silently begging. As minutes ticked by he struggled to make himself wait just a little longer. Once he left, that would be it. He would lose her once and for all and he wasn't prepared to do anything of things he had just promised.

"Will you find someone else?" Buffy sniffled out finally, her voice strangled with emotion, "Will you divorce me and remarry?"

"If you want a divorce, I won't fight it," he said, rising to his feet as slowly as he could. She had already made her choice. If he thought she had ripped his heart out two years ago, he didn't know how wrong he was until that moment.

"But will you marry someone else?" She asked insistently. She raised her eyes to look at him and didn't turn away when he looked in her direction. For the first time since she left, she looked directly in his eyes and didn't turn away...and he was drowning in them. His throat tightened and he broke completely.

"No," he answered, locked in her gaze. "I love you, Buffy. There isn't room for anyone else."

"Never?" she demanded, rising to her feet. Her eyes blazed with the strangest sort of sadness and anger he had ever seen. It was almost insane in it's intensity and confusion. "You'll never meet anyone else? You'll never marry another woman? Do you plan to be a monk, Angel?"

"Do you want it written in blood?" He growled, forcing himself to stay glued to the spot. "What will it take to make you understand? I. Love. You. I don't want anyone else. Will I spend the rest of my life jacking off because I can't have you? Maybe. Or maybe I'll start fucking everything that moves like I used to. What the hell difference does it make, Buffy? The point is that I love you. No, I'm not marrying someone else! I don't WANT anyone else! I want the woman I married! I want my wife! I want you!

"You have to!" she screamed, rushing full force across the room at him. Her sobs returned with more vengeance than they had before as she pounded her fists into his chest, "You have to marry someone else, be happy and have babies! You have to or everything is useless! Everything I did, every moment of torture without you was for nothing!"

"Tell me, godamn it!" He shouted, shaking her so soundly her teeth chattered in her mouth, "For fuck's sake, love, just TELL me!"

"I lost her," she sobbed into his chest, falling forward, "I lost her and she's gone. You have to marry someone else." She looked up at him and grabbed his jacket, pulling at it so tightly, she nearly lifted herself off of her feet. Babbling through hysterical tears, she begged, "You have to. Promise me, Angel. Promise me because I'm not enough and you'll never have her with me. Promise me and you'll be happy, I know you will. I know it."

"Baby, what are you talking about?" he said, brushing her hair away from her tear stained face. Lifting her from off her feet, he crossed to the chair in the corner and sat down, cuddling her to his chest, convinced she had gone completely insane. He held her close and waited for her to stop crying, rocking her until she quieted. Softly, he tried again, "Who did you lose, Buffy?"

"The baby," she whispered, "I lost the baby and I didn't tell you that it ruined me. I couldn't."

"Ruined you?" he echoed, caressing her arm lightly, "You aren't ruined."

"I can't h-have children anymore," she choked. She tried to pull away, but he held her there, trapping her in his arms. "Let me go, Angel," she said, struggling.

"No," he answered holding onto her more tightly, "No, I'm not letting you go. Why didn't you tell me? You wouldn't even let me be there for you."

"You always wanted a family," she said as she realized her fight was useless. He wasn't going to let her leave until she told him. The only thing she had held on to for the past two years was not having to tell him. At least she had that, but not anymore.

"Did you honestly think I would find another woman because you couldn't have my children?" He asked incredulously. His soft caress stopped and he leaned back in the chair in shock.

"You always talked about it," she continued, "You and I, we'd have the family you never had. You'd know what it was like to have a father by being one. A bunch of babies, that's what you wanted. A whole house full of laughter and love like you always dreamed. Remember?"

"Yes, I remember," Angel answered in quiet anger, "but do you remember the part where the mother was you? If you can't give me children, Buffy, then I don't need them."

"You wanted a family!" she blustered, "That's all you ever wanted and I failed. I couldn't give it to you."

"No, you took it away from me." Her head shot up and she looked into his eyes. For the first time, she saw real tears in them and then he closed them, shaking his head sadly. "You are my family, the only family I've ever known. I wanted to be surrounded by love and I was. It was more than I ever expected to have in my life. Yes, I wanted children, but not without you, Buffy! Don't you understand, there's no point without you."

"I spent every penny I had to find you a score of perfect women," Buffy mumbled, leaning against him in defeat. "I found them in singles ads and in the grocery store, in bars and restaurants. I interviewed them and found loving people, light hearted and fun women who wanted a serious relationship and children. They all wanted children. Your secretary was one of them, but you didn't catch the bait."

"I wasn't fishing," he said, "and I hired the secretary because she said you sent her. She can't file for shit."

"But she's really nice and very pretty," Buffy grumbled, "Did you see her legs? I'd kill for long legs like that."

"You threw away two years of our lives for this!" he said, rising to his feet and setting her down so he could pace around the room, "Two years!" He continued his trek across the floor and back, shaking the floor with each step.

She sat down on the chair and watched him walk around the room. It was almost peaceful after the days and nights of festering guilt and sadness. If nothing else happened, at least now he knew. There were no more secrets to hide.

He moved toward her again and instead of turning to pace back across the room, he looked down at her. He lowered himself to his knees and looked into her eyes. Force of habit made her want to look away, but she stayed still, making herself look at him.

"I did it because I love you," she said finally, breaking the silence. "All I wanted was for you to be happy, Angel."

"In the future, love me a little less," he answered wryly, "I don't think I can take any more."


Nothing had worked out according to plan. If anything, life was more confusing than before. As much as they both wanted things to go back to the way they were before, two years makes a big difference. Angel and Buffy flew back to Los Angeles together, but they each went to their respective homes, if you could call them that. Neither of them spoke at all during the trip, both fighting with all the raging emotions in their minds. Angel had spent two years lost with no way to make things right and Buffy had spent the time plotting out his future behind his back. The lingering question of the future was left unanswered for the night. What neither of them realized what that they had switched places.

Buffy went home to her sad little apartment, which just looked cheaper and dimmer upon her return, and dropped her things. She showered, slipped into her favorite sweats and crawled into her bed. There was nothing left to plot out, no more women to interview and no more reason to make things seem normal. Just as she was about to go to sleep, she called sat up and picked up the phone, dialing rapidly.

"Yeah?" the voice on the other end answered.

"Whistler," she breathed quietly, "It's Buffy."

"Ah, the little lady," he said, yawning. "How goes it?"

"I just wanted to thank you for keeping your end of the bargain and not giving Angel the pictures of the interviews," she said, tiredly, "and I want to fire you. If Angel still keeps you on the job-"

"He fired me already too," Whistler answered, sounding like he was smiling on the other end.

"You sound upset," she quipped.

"I've been waiting for longer than I can remember for you two to fire me," he said chuckling, "You kids are crazier than any clients I've ever had. I'll miss the money, but not nearly enough. You guys suck the life out of a guy."

"Thank you, Whistler," she said quietly. Before he could say anything else, she hung up quietly and laid back down. Now it was finally over.

Or she thought it was. The sorrow she expected to drift away with the ending of this charade had not happened. Despite her struggle not to, she couldn't believe that Angel had just walked away and left her there. He didn't kiss her or hold her. He didn't tell her he loved her again as she got out of his car. He just drove away and she was fairly certain he hadn't looked back.

She tried to sleep, but couldn't. She told herself she wasn't waiting, but truthfully that's all she did. For two days she tried to figure out what she was supposed to do now. Angel was apparently so angry he couldn't stand the sight of her. He hadn't even called.

On the second morning, still wearing the same sweats, she trudged to the door when a knock sounded. She didn't look out of the peephole, but just opened the door. She was shocked to see him standing there.

"You usually break in," she muttered, standing aside to let him in. Instead, he took her hand and tugged her toward him. Obediently, she let him lead her out of her apartment even though she was filthy and wasn't wearing any shoes. Curiously, it didn't seem to matter. She followed him down the stairs and out into the street to where his car was illegally parked by the curb.

He tucked her into the passenger seat and put her seatbelt on as if she were a child and watched him as he walked around and got in. He started it and drove in silence. The cool hum of the air conditioning and the sound of traffic outside made his silence almost unbearable.

"Where are we going?" she asked finally when they were at a stoplight. The idea of one more moment of silence was unreasonable even to her.

"We're going home," he answered without hesitation, as if they had just been out to lunch and were enjoying the day together.

"You're still angry," she said softly. It wasn't a question, but he answered anyway. "You're damn right," he said, but offered no more information. Several more minutes of silence forced her to speak again. She was used to the love of a taciturn man but it was getting ridiculous.

"If you're still angry with me then why are we going home?" she asked, looking out the window rather than at him.

"I didn't say I didn't love you, I said I was still angry." He turned onto their street and pulled into the drive. He turned off the car and looked at her, "We're starting over. If you have anything else to say about finding me a woman or divorce or leaving me, tell me now, because I'm done with that part of our life. I am married to you and I intend to keep it that way."

"I can never give you children," she said, "You'll never have your own children if you stay with me."

"Yeah, I got that the other day," he said, "Anything else?"

"I'm not sleeping in that bed," she added.

He smiled. "That's good because I bought a new one." He got out of the car, walked around and opened her door. "And the bedroom walls have been painted. The carpeting was replaced. It's all new. There's nothing left from that night."

Taking her hand, he helped her out of the car and led her toward the house. She pulled back as he unlocked the door but he swept her into his arms and carried her inside. She swallowed the protest in the back of her throat and docilely allowed herself to be carried across the threshold.


Part Five

By Tango



Angel felt like he had been holding his breath for hours. He had taken her home and bathed her, amazed at how she let him do what he liked with her. There was so much regret inside both of them that it seemed to coat the walls and hang suspended in the air, but he knew that it was necessary to begin again.

He dried her off, wrapped her in the silk robe he bought for her on one of his trips across the ocean and combed the tangles from her hair. The new bed was a beautiful four poster masterpiece he found in an antique shop and the sheets were brand new snow white silk. He pulled back the blankets and tucked her in before stripping and joining her. He curled his body around hers and buried his face in her damp hair, holding her closely to him.

"I love you," he whispered.

"I'm sorry, Angel," she whispered back, "I'm so sorry."

"I know."

She turned over and looked at him closely. "I can't make up what I've done," she said, "I can't ever make it right."

"I love you, Buffy," he said again, this time with more emphasis. "All I want is to be with you. That's all.It's not going to disappear just like that. It doesn't work that way. Two years is a long time to be miserable, but I'm willing to try."

"I love you too," she said, scooting closer to him, "And two years is a hell of a long time."


Buffy fell asleep in Angel's arms and woke a full 18 hours later to darkness in the new bed, shocked to see that not only was she still in his arms, but he was still sleeping. She tried to slip away and found that he tightened his grip on her and pulled her more closely to his side. Instead she eased herself to her other side to watch him while he slept.

His brow was furrowed, but he was sleeping deeply as if he hadn't slept the entire time they were apart. Honestly, if he had been sleeping anything like she had been, she wasn't surprised they had both been knocked out for so long. It was the same when he went on business trips or was working late some nights. There was no point in trying to sleep if she was without Angel. It was always restless and uncomfortable and when he returned, they both slept longer than usual wrapped in the other's safe embrace.

She lightly caressed his sleeping face and tried to remember how she lived day to day with this beautiful man in perfect happiness. She knew he was still angry with her and there was a long way to go before things were as they were, if that was even a possibility. She shuddered when she thought of Lindsey's hands on her body, his skin against hers. If there was any justice in the world, there would be a way to make Angel forget that had ever happened. Unfortunately, her possessive husband was not likely to ever forget that she had almost gone to bed with another man, not to mention that man had been his best friend.

Tears came to her eyes once again as she thought about how much she had destroyed in her path to make things better for Angel. Instead of giving him what he wanted, she took away his dreams. Instead of making him happy, she had taken his best friend, his home and his wife from him. And now she knew that there was nothing left to do but make it better...if only she could figure out how to accomplish the job.

It hadn't escaped her notice that aside from bringing her home, bathing her and putting her to bed, he hadn't kissed her or attempted to excite her in any way. He just wrapped himself around her and clung to her as he slept. For the highly sexual creature he was, it was strange to say the least.

A strange sort of anticipation started buzzing through her mind as she laid there in his arms, thinking about the goodnight kiss that she didn't get and hadn't for more nights than she could remember. She wasn't going to live the rest of her life in regret. She couldn't. Carefully, she eased out of bed using a skill she had acquired many years before and crawled from her warm husband's body. She kissed him softly, brushing her lips against his, before heading to the shower.


Angel woke alone just as he had every night but this time he was in his house, in the new bed he had bought for the new chapter of his marriage. Glancing at the clock, he had to do a double take to realize it was late at night but the darkness that usually shrouded him was absent. The bathroom door adjacent to their bedroom was open, filtering a wedge of light into the room. The soft, off key humming of Buffy's voice made him smile. For a second, he almost forgot that he was supposed to be angry.

He rose from bed and walked nude into the bathroom, finding her freshly showered, wearing one of his silk shirts and carefully applying her make up. He watched her for a moment, engrossed in the way she traced her lips with that shiny gloss stuff he liked so much and inhaled the scent of her perfume. Even as thin as she had become and with the dark circles still rounding her eyes, she was beautiful.

"Going somewhere?" he asked, frustrated immediately at how gruff his voice came out. She jumped and nearly poked herself in the eye with the lip gloss.

"Angel," she breathed, placing a hand against her chest, "You scared me."

"Sorry," he answered without remorse. He was furious that she would dress herself up after what had happened and then go traipsing to wherever she thought she was going to go. Did she think she was just going to jump back into the role of the little wife with no transition period? "Where are you going?" he repeated angrily.

"No where," she answered. Her lips trembled for a second, but he watched as she forced a smile on them instead. "I just was trying to cover up those dark circles."

"With lip gloss?" he grouched.

"Yes," she said, rolling her eyes. "If you're staring at my lips like that, obviously you can't see my dark circles. Now, you shower and I'm going to get some food. I'm starving."

He watched her closely, raising an eye brow at her feigned casualness. What the hell was she doing? Yesterday he had to force her into the house and today she was putting on make up when she wasn't going anywhere. He was throughly confused and at the same time intrigued. He missed watching her body drown in his shirts when she hung around the house. He missed coming into the bathroom and have it smell like her perfume. Just being around her was causing his body to react and he wished he had put on some clothes before coming into the bathroom.

"Okay..." he said, shaking his tousled head and immediately going towards the shower. He nearly jumped out of his skin when she touched him, given he had given her a wide berth as he passed. Just her hand on his arm on purpose was shocking to the system.

"I love you," she said, standing on her tiptoes and kissing him with those glossy lips. Her touch was light and feathery, but arousing all the same. "I'm trying to start over," she said softly, "I know you won't forgive me right away or, you know, ever, but I do love you and I'm going to make sure you know it."


A week passed, two weeks, a month and Buffy was thoroughly confused. She had tried everything to make things better. She went back to the things she used to do like dishes, house cleaning and the laundry. She got up every morning and made him coffee while he got ready for work and fed him not too burnt toast with his cereal. She went to the office and cleaned out his old bedroom, put all the pictures from his wall in a folder which she placed on his desk, had a courier take all of his belongings home and cleaned out the room. At night, she wore sexy clothes for him and tried to entice him and the most she got were chaste kisses before they went to sleep.

But she knew he still loved her, even more than he had before. While they slept he clung to her so tightly she thought she was suffocate and in the morning his arousal pressed against her, but instead of making morning love to her as he did so many mornings before, he took a cold shower and got ready for work. He thanked her politely for all she did and told her he loved her when she said it first. He carried on conversations with her about anything that didn't relate to them. It seemed like he was waiting for something, but she had no idea what.

She carefully stacked all of the presents he bought her in the hallway closet and didn't even peek inside them no matter how much she was tempted. With his permission, she had the bedroom outside of his office redecorated to be the conference room again and threw herself into the task of redesigning it to be an impressive centerpiece for visiting clients. Desperate for more tasks, she had his office and that of his secretary painted and some of the artwork replaced. For all of it, Angel thanked her politely for her hard work and took her out to dinner at an expensive restaurant as a treat. Even that night, he didn't kiss her as she hoped he would.

A month and a half into their new relationship with no consummation and no tender kisses, Buffy found herself in a depression that kept her in bed in the morning when he went to work. She slept through his leaving and didn't shower when she rose. What was the point? He didn't seem to notice whether she was trying or not. She dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and went to the grocery store, buying up half of the ice cream she found along with chocolate syrup and brought it home. She curled in Angel's leather chair that she longed for while she was away, wrapped herself in her mother's quilt and ate ice cream until she thought she was going to pass out.


That night Angel tramped home from work angrily. He was angry with himself more than anything. He tried to make things work with Buffy but every time he thought about touching her he saw Lindsey's hands on her breasts, his mouth against her skin. He wanted to kiss her so badly he thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown, but he couldn't start something he knew he wouldn't be able to finish.

It was insane. That's what it was. He had her back. Finally. She had done everything possible to try and get to him, took care of everything without him needing to ask and still he hid from her like a coward. If that wasn't bad enough, that morning she hadn't gotten up with him when the alarm went off. No coffee, no breakfast, no sweet little smile to tell him good morning.

He spent half of the day going through those pictures he once had on his bedroom wall, those pictures he had stared at when she wasn't in his life. Then he would have given anything to get her back. He would have climbed mountains to have her look in his eyes. Now she did. She never turned away from and what did he do? How did he treat the gift of his wife coming back home? He shuttered his emotions and let her see nothing, let her have nothing.

When he got home that night, he knew he was in trouble. She was dozing in his chair, a wrinkle of worry and sadness on her face as she tossed and turned the best she could under her mother's quilt. She was back in those sweats and the oak table by the chair was covered in melted ice cream leaking from the carton she had left there when she fell asleep. He cleaned up the ice cream and carried her upstairs drenched in remorse. How many times had she done that very thing in the past? A handful? Once when her mother died. Again with her father. A few other times when they fought and let the sun go down on their anger. This was a warning sign and he knew it.

Carefully, he gathered her into his arms and carried her upstairs to bed still wrapped in her mother's quilt. He laid down with her curled against him and listened to her breathing as she relaxed into a deeper sleep.


The following day when he went to work there was a beautiful woman in his office, a client there for strictly business reasons, of course. Then the next day there was another. They started coming in the droves that abated since Buffy came home and another warning signal flared in his mind. The third day his secretary started flirting with him again, moving a little too closely, wearing short skirts with those forever long legs. By Friday, he was leashing in barely reigned fury. She was sending women to him again!

He went home and found her in her sweats again. Ice cream. Quilt. She hadn't eaten anything but that godamn ice cream for a week. She still wasn't getting up in the morning with him and it occurred to him on the way home that she had managed to avoid him almost entirely. He wasn't sure she said a single word to him for five days.

That day, he didn't carry her upstairs. He didn't tuck her into bed and hold her. He shook her until she woke up and blinked at him sleepily. She tried to close her eyes again, but he shook her once more until she barked at him. "What?"

"Pimping for me again, my love?" he demanded and sat down in the chair across from hers, folding his arms against his chest.

"Well, I figured if you're not going to sleep with me, you might find enjoyment elsewhere," she said, flinging off the quilt and rising to her feet, "You'll need a warm body to cling to in bed. Do you have an order? I'm sure I can find someone with my body type so you might not even know she's not me."

"What? You're leaving?" he shouted, rising to his feet as well.

"Would you notice if I wasn't here?" she shouted back. "I mean, really, Angel, you work later every night. We haven't spoken in a week. Besides carrying me to bed, you haven't even seemed to notice I was there!"

"I thought we were going to try and work this out!" he roared, "I thought you were going to make an effort!"

"Me?" she screamed, "I need to make an effort? You know, you're right! I should make an effort. I'm attractive enough. I can find someone else."

"Well, I'm sure that Lindsey is still up for the offer if you want to crawl into his bed," he sneered coldly, "I'm sure he's been wondering when you'll give him another shot."

"Well, maybe I'll give him a call," Buffy shouted back, tears filling her eyes, "After all, he was there when I needed him." She hurried toward the door, trying to run and stumbling over her feet to get away but she didn't make it three steps into the hallway before he caught her. He pressed her against the wall and held her there.

"Maybe he was there when you needed him because you told him you needed him," Angel said, gripping her upper arms tightly, "Maybe it was because you gave him a chance."

"Why did you come for me, Angel?" she cried, "Why did you even bother? A few more days and I would have starved myself to death. It would have been better than dreaming of you every night. All I did while I was gone was think of you. Yes, I messed up, but gave me hope. You made me think I was going to be with you again. You made me believe you were going to love me even though I'm ruined, but you're repulsed by me. You may love me, Angel, but you hate me just a little more."

"I don't hate you," he said digging his fingers into her arms, "I hate me. All I can think about is you with him and knowing that you went to him instead of coming to me. You trusted him when you couldn't trust me."

"I knew it!" she groaned, "I knew you wouldn't be able to get over the Lindsey thing. Do you think I enjoyed that?"

"Maybe," he shrugged, "I don't know. It sure looked like it from the cheap seats."

"I didn't sleep with him!" she insisted, "And, news flash, I wouldn't have. Every touch, every kiss, every second in his arms made my skin crawl. I knew it and so did he. Do you think I didn't know you weren't going to let me sleep with him?"

She ducked under his arm and fought her way free, heading for the stairway. Pausing at the first step, she looked back at him, resting his head against the wall where she had been. "I wanted to lose you, Angel," she said sadly, "I knew that you would never forgive me for being with another man. Guess I did succeed after all."


Buffy headed up to the bedroom and took a shower. She stayed under the warm spray until the water turned cool and then got out and toweled off. By habit she started to reach for her robe but when her fingers touched the silk, she backed away. The silk robe he got for her was going to have to stay behind as much as she really wanted to take it with her. If she was going to be without him, she had to be completely without him just as she was before. She lived without him for two years, didn't she? She could do it again.

Tucking the towel around her, she brushed her hair and teeth before heading out the bedroom. She was going to pack her clothes and get out before it was too late. Once more look into those deep chocolate eyes and she might change her mind. She couldn't let Angel keep her there until they hated themselves and each other more than they already did.

She was absently thinking about what she was going to take with her and what was going to stay behind, so she nearly slammed right into him. He was standing in the center of the room, blocking her path with his arms crossed defiantly across his chest.

"You aren't leaving me," he ground out through clenched teeth. "I won't let this happen again."

"Are you having flashbacks, Angel?" Buffy asked crudely, stepping around him, "Last time you loved me."

"This time I love you," he growled, pulling her against him. Lowering his mouth so quickly she couldn't turn away, he kissed her deeply, plunging his tongue between her surprised lips and tangling it with hers. They both groaned in unison as their mouths and bodies mashed together, clinging to one another in abandon. His hands smoothed over the space of skin between her back and her towel, brushing her hair aside to feel her. She kept kissing him, lost in his mouth and the memories of what had been when he tugged at the towel until it fell away.

She started to protest as he unbuttoned his shirt, but found herself kissing the patches of muscled chest as it appeared. She missed being able to touch him whenever she wanted, feeling every inch of him as often as she could. Their lovemaking had ranged from gentle and exquisitely slow, to rowdy tumbles that left them both breathless. How many times had they made love in his car in the park on their lunch hours like misbehaved teenagers? She missed those days when she knew that she would never be alone.

Now, she smoothed her hands over him as he stripped his clothes off as fast as he could. There would be no long kisses and playful touching tonight. He wouldn't focus on each part of her, exploring her breasts until she was arching against him, clamping her legs around his waist, begging for more. He wouldn't worship each part of her body, tasting her, memorizing the contours of her.

He tossed his clothes away and backed to the bed, tossing her against it diagonally before climbing between her thighs. He wasted no time guiding himself into her moist entrance and plunging inside her. They both hissed in pleasure as he filled her, her tight channel stretching to accommodate him. At that second, Angel realized beyond the shadow of a doubt that she had never slept with anyone else and Buffy knew she never would.

"You feel..." he gasped, as they began moving together. Memories of being together flooded back to their minds as they fused together completely. He groaned in conjunction with her airy whimpers of pleasure as she kissed him sucking his tongue into her mouth.

Losing herself in the feel of him, in the astounding awareness of love and inhibition once more, she washed all her fears and doubts away, languishing in Angel's love instead. As he felt himself nearing the edge, he slipped a hand between them and massaged her sensitive nub until she flew into her climax, pounding up against him. He joined her in release and when the shudders of pleasure left them, they were clinging to each other desperately, both terrified of losing the love of their lives.

"Don't leave me, Buffy," he groaned into her neck, still resting between her thighs. Her legs tightened around him, holding him captive inside her. "I love you," she whispered softly, running her fingers through his hair, "I love you so much I don't know how not to anymore."

"Stay," he said, raising his head and looking into her eyes. "We'll heal together," he promised, kissing her swollen lips, "Please don't leave me. I can't live without you again."

"Me too," she whispered, "I can't either." She gasped as he pulled away and rose from the bed. Biting her lip nervously, she looked over at him. "Where are you going?"

"Come on," he said anxiously, tugging her up from the bed and leading her out of the room, "I have a whole bunch of boxes for you to open."

"Now?" she laughed in confused surprise as he opened the hallway closet and began pulling presents out.

"Oh yeah," he said, raising an eyebrow at her, "Somewhere in here there's a little negligee that I can't wait to see you in." Laughing, she settled between in legs on the floor and began opening two years of gifts from all over the world.


The End. Happy ending, folks. I hope that helps for all the GWA you've had to go through and I hope you enjoyed. I plan on working on my other WIPs soon, so expect more fic to churn out in the near future.