Part One
By Tango

DISCLAIMER: Nope. I still don't own them.
SPOILERS: Completely AU. Everyone's just plain ‘ole human.

PAIRING: B/A, of course!

FEEDBACK: Please let me know if you think I should continue this. I'm not sure about it yet.

LYRICS: All lyrics are from the Counting Crows

RATING: R? For now.

DEDICATION: For Eleni Angel. I hope this meets the challenge. I don't follow directions too well. *G* (I will post the challenge at the end of the fic.) And to trammie.


it doesn't get much worse than this

Most police officers go through their entire careers and never even discharge their weapons. Even in big cities like LA, New York and Chicago, there are police officers that have never released a bullet outside of a shooting range. Detective Liam Angelus wished he was one of those people.

He wasn't.

Three people had lost their lives while he was on duty, by his hands. He shuddered every time he thought about it. He cringed to think that their deaths had made him a hero and spurred on his success, causing him to become the youngest detective on the force. That's when they started calling him "Angel." It sounded like sacrilege coming from these people who barely knew him. It had always been his nickname from his mother and they made into something bloody, something that tasted like death when it came off their lips.

That was all before he became Hank Summers' partner.

Hank was well known on the force and highly respected. Angel knew very little about him for the first few months they worked together but as time passed the details began to leak into daily life. Summers was married with one child. He seemed to care about his family though he rarely talked about them. He had a dry sense of humor that occasionally bordered on offensive, or would have to most people, but it took more than the usual amount of crassness to offend Angel. After the first few weeks, it became clear why they were made partners. Hank had been forced to kill a man twenty years before and because of that he immediately picked up on the callousness that was growing inside Angel.

It stays with you, boy, Hank had said one night while they were on a stake out, You never get over killing someone. Don't let the guys get to you though. They laugh about it because they're afraid of it and jealous at the same time. Remember that. You saved lives that night, that's what made you a hero. Hank was right, of course, but he felt like he would never wash that blood off his hands. Every time he heard the name "Angel," it was like he killed them again.

He was beginning to think that his life had plateaued. He would get by with whatever female acquaintance he found, which were many, would carry on affairs that were string-free and never let any of them into his heart. He would do his job every day and go home every night, stopping off occasionally to drink himself into a stupor and that would be it. It seemed like a passable existence until Hank invited him over for dinner. His immediate instinct was to say no. He didn't want to carry his gloom from the work day into their lives but eventually he agreed when he couldn't think of a single reason to give Hank to not come.

He headed over to the Summers' house at 4:00 PM on Sunday afternoon and trudged up to the door, taking a deep breath before he knocked. He used to be so good at this. He used to be a pro at joking around and blending in with other people. Now all he could think of was if he could carry on enough passable table conversation to get by.

The door opened after a few moments and standing in front of him in mid-laugh was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She had golden blonde hair, sparkling green eyes and a tiny hand with perfectly manicured nails pushed open the screen door to let him in.

"Xander!" she shouted, speaking to someone else in the house, giggling like the schoolgirl she was. She kept her smile as she turned to him, "You must be Daddy's partner."

"Yes," he said, swallowing harshly at the sight of her and the sound of her voice. She was exquisite and he had to make himself look away as she stepped back to let him in, trying to miss the swing of her narrow hips. Instead, he looked down and caught sight of her bare feet on the hardwood floor. Her toenails were painted a sparkly purple color and he felt the strangest urge to kiss them. "I'm Liam."

"Hi Liam. I'm Buffy," she said, almost shyly. She shut the door behind him and gestured at the other two teenagers in the living room, a shy little redheaded girl and a gangly dark haired boy, "Those are my friends, Willow and Xander. Guys, this is Daddy's partner, Liam."

"Hello, Liam," Xander sneered, eyeing him viciously, as if he were a serial killer rather than a police detective.

"Hi!" Willow announced brightly, waving a little as she hopped to her feet, "So you're a detective like Mr. Summers, right? I didn't know they could be that young."

"Uh...special circumstances," Angel muttered, shifting uncomfortably.

"Whatever," Buffy scoffed, waving her hand at him dismissively, "He's a huge hero. Even Daddy says that he saved a bunch of people's lives. They promoted him because of that. Come on, Liam. I'll show you where Daddy's burning hamburgers."

Angel followed Buffy through the house, into the kitchen where he met a very pleasant Mrs. Summers, and out to the backyard where Hank was cursing at a barbecue pit. He thought Buffy would go back to her friends right away but she led Angel right up to her father, padding barefoot through the soft grass and bumped her father's hip with hers playfully.

"Hi pumpkin," Hank said, kissing her forehead. Angel struggled to breathe through the smoke rising up from the pit and through his nearly unchecked very, very wrong lust for a seventeen-year-old girl.

"I found your partner," she said, smiling shyly at Angel.

"Hey Angel," Hank said, reaching out to shake his hand, "Glad you could make it."

"Thanks," Angel said, peering uneasily at the burning patties on the grill, " you need help?"


she don't deserve this
she is a flower and i am a flower
and we are alone

Despite Angel's better judgment, he started making every excuse in the book to appear at Hank's front door after that day. They began watching baseball games together over beer on the weekends and the amusing part of it all was that Angel never really liked baseball. It was a frightfully boring sport but when Buffy came bounding through the room, regarding their television choice with disdain or just passing through, he knew that hours of watching men run around a baseball diamond was more than worth it.

He wasn't even sure when he noticed it, but she started making excuses to come into whatever room he was in. Sometimes, she passed through four or five times during the game, thankfully disrupting the room, the air, the pace of his heartbeat. She started batting her eyes at him and smiling at him like that. And when she started calling him "Angel," rather than Liam, it rolled off her pink lips like a sigh, like a promise, a vow and all of a sudden his name was no longer dipped in the blood of those deaths. She had returned it to its former status; it was a loving caress again.

He wasn't sure at which point he actually admitted to himself that he was falling in love with her but one night when he was leaving, she was sitting on the front steps and as he realized she was crying, he knew without a doubt that he loved her. She wiped her face quickly with the back of her hand, unable to hide the wetness on her cheeks, and forced a fake smile, "Hi Angel."

"What's wrong?" he asked, settling on the step next to her. Buffy looked away, focusing on the grass rather than him. She couldn't believe this was happening to her. The most beautiful man ever to grace the planet, who probably thought of her as an immature little girl, happened to walk out when she was sniffling and crying. She wished she was an ostrich so she could bury her head in the ground and pretend he wasn't there.

"Nothing," she muttered, "I'm fine. Thanks."

"Something's bothering you," he prodded gently, "I'm a good listener."

Angel had suspected for some time that there was trouble in the Summers' household. As of late, Hank had been becoming more and more bitter at work, speaking of his family less and whenever Angel came over Joyce was rarely in the same room. Angel knew it would only be a matter of time before the bitterness flaring off of Hank in palatable waves seeped into Buffy. He wanted to rush in and preserve her innocence, but it wasn't his place. He couldn't protect her and he knew it.

But God, he wanted to. For weeks his dreams had been filled with those deep green eyes, shimmering with unshed tears, even before he had ever seen her cry. In the middle of the night, they fell, streaming across her cheeks. Sometimes he was able to brush them away, lightly swiping them with his thumbs. He imagined touching her silky skin, gliding his fingers over the soft line of her jaw, over her round cheek. In some of the dreams he was allowed to pull her into his arms and he would promise over and over that he would keep her safe.

"It's stupid," she said, shivering slightly in the night air, "And you have better things to do than talk to me."

"You're cold," he said, craning his neck to try and catch her eyes, but she kept her gaze planted firmly in the surrounding foliage.

"You can take it," she replied saucily. For the last six months, she would have given anything for Angel to give her the time of day. Now that she was all in pieces on the front porch he thought he could pity her and lower himself to speak to her? The mere idea of his sympathy pissed her off.

"No," he said, shrugging out of his leather jacket and putting it around her bare shoulders, "I mean, you look cold."

"Thanks," she said, turning toward him finally and looking at him questioningly. Even in the dark, she could see the caring coming from his dark eyes and she was slightly more than confused.

"Sure," he said, leaning in and kissing her temple softly. He surprised himself at the gesture and stood quickly before he could touch her again. Struggling for something to say he pulled out his wallet and extracted a crisp, white business card. He handed it to her and backed away a couple of steps, "If you ever need me, call."


wait for the hunger to come

"Where'd you get that?" Willow asked the next day at school as Buffy sauntered into the library.

"Angel," Buffy answered. Her hand was tucked inside the pocket and she shifted her fingers over the edge of his business card.

"What?" Xander shouted, "You know him for ten minutes and you're exchanging clothing?"

"Children," Giles said, ducking out from his office, "Although I am thrilled that you find comfort in lounging in the library in your free time, you might pretend that you are here for studies."

"Sorry Giles," Buffy said, shooting him a bright smile, "Anyway, Xander I have known him for months and I was cold."

"You live in California, Buffy," Xander retorted, rolling his eyes, "It was balmy last night! There was no need for the giving of very expensive leather jackets that are way too big and could-"

"Xander!" Willow shouted, clamping a hand over her mouth and then whispering harshly, "Could you let her finish the story?"

"Angel, Angel, Angel," Xander muttered heading toward the library doors, "Why does every conversation have to revolve around that freak?"

"He thinks I'm a little girl," Buffy whispered, not for the sake of Giles, but to keep him from hearing, "He doesn't even talk to me."

"But you like him," Willow protested, "And jacket! He gave you his jacket!"

"He's a honey," she sighed, slumping in her seat dreamily, "When he's around, it's like the lights dim everywhere else. You know how it's like that with some guys?"

"Yeah," Willow said, looking over at the library doors still swinging from Xander's exit, "I do."


dreaming of wrong and right
wrapped in grace and in sin

The following Wednesday night, Hank invited Angel over for lasagna night and baseball. He searched his mind for any reason not to go, but in the end he knew that he was going to be there. He walked in without knocking as he had been for months and found Buffy curled up in Hank's reclining chair, her face scrunched up over a history book.

"Hey," he said, startling her. She looked up at him in surprise, obviously not knowing he was coming tonight and then looked back down at the leather jacket that had become an integral part of her outfit in the last couple of days. Starting to pull it off, she said, "Here you can have your jacket back."

"Looks better on you," he said in his sexy rumbling voice and tossed her a tiny half smile that made her heart bubble over. She sat there in shock and listened to him enter the kitchen. His voice sounded far away as he greeted her mother and commented on the smell of the food. She could almost predict where he was standing and what he was doing after months of watching him. He had slowly become a part of their family and she pictured him setting the table while he chatted easily with her mother. Groaning at herself in frustration, Buffy gathered her books and headed up to her room to deposit them. No man that sexy should be allowed to come over for dinner only twice a week and fill her dreams all seven.

Dinner was a disaster. Buffy ended up leaving the table early when her parents began arguing at the table. She couldn't believe that they weren't able to restrain themselves at least until Angel left. She lowered herself to the ground in front of the oak tree out front and wished it would swallow her whole. She had never been that humiliated in her life and was beside herself with panic when Angel walked out the front door and made his way toward her.

"Hey," he said, offering his hand, "Come on."

"Are you under the impression that I'm going somewhere with you?" she snapped, but accepted his hand anyway. She couldn't believe how large his hands were and gentle, how hers seemed to get lost in his.

"Ice cream," he said matter of factly, pulling his hand away from hers quickly, "I already told your parents."

"Do you think I'm some three-year-old that can be appeased with ice cream when Mommy and Daddy get in a fight?" she demanded. She had no idea why she was so angry with Angel, but she couldn't help it. There was so much irritation and frustration inside her and he was treating her like a child again. It made her insane.

"I want ice cream," he said, unfazed by her outbursts, "and I thought you might want to come along. Was I wrong?"

"No," she admitted, falling in step behind him. He opened the passenger side of his convertible with a dramatic sweep of one of his large hands and smiled as he said, "My lady."

"Thank you, kind sir," she said, giggling despite herself as she sat down.

She tried to pay attention to the road ahead of them, her ice cream, anything to keep herself from looking at him during their little trip, especially since she had to continually convince herself that it wasn't a date. Buffy was aware, even though she didn't want to admit it, that the terms "police officer" and "jail bait" were mutually exclusive. There was just no way he would be interested in her. And yet, every once in a while, she could catch him looking at her or stopping himself from saying something. Her seventeen-year-old mind raced with what those sentences could have been.

When they reached her house, he walked her up to the door and she saw that her father's car was gone. She knew he was probably "out for a drive" again. The lights were off in the house, which meant her mother was pretending to be asleep. She sighed loudly as she mounted the front steps. Turning to face Angel, she found him standing so close to her that she had to crane her neck to look into his handsome face.

"I have to go," he said, not moving from his spot as he looked into her vulnerable green eyes. If she wasn't quite so lovable, just a tad less beautiful, he might have been able to walk away, but she was those things and much more.

"‘Kay," she whispered, moving her lips very, very slowly over the single syllable. She curled her fingers around the cuff of the leather jacket she wore and kept her eyes on his, holding her breath while she waited for him to move away.

"I really can't be around you, Buffy," he said, looking down on her, so close he could smell her perfume and her shampoo, "Because when I am..."

"Hey, no big," Buffy pffted, looking down at her feet but seeing his instead, "Water...over the bridge, under the bridge..."

"When I am, I can ever think about is how badly I want to kiss you," he said, rushing the words out in a single breath, running them together.

"...Over the dam," she continued until his words registered and she snapped her head up to look at him in shock, "Kiss me?"

"I'm older than you," he whispered, "and this can't ever...I better go."

"H-how much older?" Buffy asked quietly, still meeting his eyes.

"I should...,” he said, tapering off. She had that look in her eyes that often blinked through his mind during the day, that look that made him wonder if there actually was real love in the world.

"'Go,' you said," she whispered, stepping forward. She turned her head up and they leaned into each other at the same time, meeting lips gently at first. He wound his fingers through her hair as he urged her lips apart and slipped his tongue into her warm mouth. He was certain he heard her sigh as she wrapped her arms around him, pressing her tiny body delightfully against his.

He meant to stop it. He really did, but she tasted so sweet and for the first time since he killed those drug dealers a year ago, he thought he could find peace. Passion rose inside their kiss and he pulled apart finally, breathing harshly.

"What? What is it?" she gasped through swollen lips, "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry," he said, stepping away, "I shouldn't've done that."

"Angel..." she said, her voice threading through his skin and taking root in his veins.

"Look, Buffy, this can't..."

"Ever be anything," she breathed bitterly, "I know. You're like 10 years older than me, right?"

"Seven," he said quietly, "I'm twenty-five. It's not that I don't want..."

"I get it," she said harshly. She didn't mean for it to come out like that, but the idea of losing him when she'd only just gotten him made her blood turn cold. No other boy ever kissed her like that. No other boy ever made her feel like that either, like she was alive for the first time, burning all over and cold at the same time.

"Your father would kill me," he said, "I could lose my job. I just gotta...I gotta walk away from this."

"I know," she replied dejectedly, "Me too...One of us has to go here and since I live here..."

"I know," he said, licking his lips as he looked down at her. Once again, he dipped down and captured her lips. Knowing it had to be the last time, he allowed himself one final taste of her. Again their emotions got the better of them and the kiss became more passionate. He felt her fingers moving through his hair as they plunged in each other's mouths. Angel was about to break away and make a run for it when it died down and they stepped away from each other reluctantly. Giving him a sad little smile, she opened her front door and went inside.


she's trying to be a good girl
and give ‘em what they want

They were halfway into their second baseball season as partners, when Buffy came trotting through the living room wearing a mini skirt that should have been outlawed in several states. Angel nearly choked on the beer he was sipping when she came in - beautiful, tiny and eighteen. Her golden, toned legs were blurred to his vision for a second and he glanced at Hank with alarm as she told him she was leaving. He was actually letting her leave like that? The slice of skin visible between her shirt and skirt was sending sirens off in his brain. It was all he could do not demand that she change clothes. I mean, someone could see her!

Instead, he took a long pull of his beer and scowled at the baseball game. He fucking hated baseball and now the woman - correction, girl - of his dreams was sauntering out the door and climbing into - whose godamn car was that?

"Don't even think about it," Hank said, shaking him out of his thoughts.

"About what?"

"Don't play innocent with me," Hank said, eyeing his partner severely, "I'm not stupid, Angelus. I know you've had a hard-on for my daughter for a long time. I'm fully aware of how beautiful she is as I know you're fully aware that she is only eighteen years old. You're my friend, so let me make this plain - You ever touch her and I'll kill you."

"I wouldn't-"

"Yes, you would," Hank said, cutting him off and turning back to the television, "But you better fuckin' not."

Angel most certainly would. In fact, most of his dreams were filled with just how he would. He could already taste the sweet salt of her skin, could already feel her hair slipping between his fingers again. He might have been able to resist though. He told himself that he might have been able to carry on his miserable existence without her in it if that same evening she hadn't called his cell phone as he was driving home.

"Angel?" she whispered into the phone. He strained to hear her over the rushing of cars and wind. Pressing the phone closely to his ear he said, "Buffy?"

"Don't say my name!" she shouted and then realized it was too late, "Please say you're not at my house."

"I'm in my car, Buffy," he said, pulling over and gripping the steering wheel as he tried not to panic yet. Her voice sounded strained and he was sure he heard the familiar ring of tears there. He cleared his throat and continued, "By myself. What's wrong? Are you in trouble?"

"Yes," she whimpered, "Can you come get me?"

"Where are you?" he demanded, starting his car and putting it in gear. She gave him directions to a dance club ten minutes away and Angel's car lurched onto the road as he pulled a U-turn in the center of the busy LA street. Street laws be damned, he thought as he pressed on the gas, he was going to make it there in five.


Part Two


i am covered in skin
no one gets to come in
pull me out from the inside
i am folded and unfolded and unfolding
i am colorblind

Angel pressed on the gas and drove at a dangerous speed until he reached the club. He flashed his badge at the doorman who made a shocked gasping sound as he passed by. Behind him, he vaguely heard the sound of the bouncer asking him why he was there, but he ignored it. He had no desire to waste time while Buffy was in danger.

He stopped just inside the door and scanned the room, which was filled with hundreds of gyrating bodies and exposed flesh. Walking quickly through the room, he wound his way around them searching for one tiny blonde tossed somewhere in the throng. He felt something akin to a growl edging its way to his vocal chords as he searched for her and found nothing. For all he knew she was dying in a corner and none of the hormonally imbalanced crowd even noticed she was there.

Finally he spotted her, sitting in a chair in the far corner of the club, half turned to the wall. He picked up the pace, nearly knocking over a teenaged boy in the process.

"Buffy?" he asked, towering over her for a second before crouching in front of her chair, "Are you okay?"

"Can we leave?" she croaked, just loud enough to be heard over the pumping music. He leaned in closer and waited for her to look at him, but she didn't. She kept her eyes trained on the floor in front of her, keeping her eyes from meeting his. Finally, he reached up and hooked a finger under her chin. His hands were shaking as she reluctantly allowed him to turn her face to meet his.

"Oh my God," he said through gritted teeth as he looked at her. Dried blood was on her mouth and chin, looking as if it had trickled from her lips and a dark bruise was already decorating the side of her face, marring her perfect skin. He stood and took her hand, helping her to her feet and she hissed in pain, which caused him to notice the bruises on her wrists. He fought to remain in control, as he demanded, "Who did this to you?"

"Can we just go?" she whimpered.

"No," he said, gently holding her shoulders as he met her eyes, "We cannot just go. I want to know what happened and who did this to you."

"A boy from school asked me out on a date. Cameron. He's on the swim team," she started, taking a deep breath, "He started kissing me and when I wanted to stop he wouldn't. Then know..."

"No," he growled, feeling his whole body shaking in frustration, "I don't know."

"Touching me," she forced out, feeling stinging tears escaping from her eyes. She didn't want to have this conversation with Angel. She couldn't stand the thought of him thinking less of her because of this. All she wanted was to leave the club before Cameron came back. Looking into his eyes, she saw he was not going to let it go until she told him everything. Taking another deep breath, she continued, "I kept asking him to stop and trying to move away but he held me there."

She held out her wrist to show him how he had held her there and he took her hand, caressing it gently. Drifting his thumb over the top of her hand, he waited for her continue, "When he wouldn't stop, I screamed and pulled away but he grabbed me again, so I kicked him between the legs. Then h-he hit me."

"What happened after that?" he asked, shifting his fingers over the side of her face, "How did you get away to call me?"

"I hit him back," she said, feeling the urge to giggle all of a sudden at the look of shock on Angel's face, "I think I gave him a bloody nose."

"You gave him a bloody nose?" he echoed and watched as she nodded, smiling and wincing at the same time. He felt a grin twitching over his lips and sighed, "That's my girl. Where is he now?"

"No, Angel," she said, "Just wanna leave."

"Where, Buffy?" She cast her eyes towards the men's room and he catapulted a "wait here" over his shoulder as he headed in that direction. He wasn't going to take one step out of the door until he knew that little date raping piece of shit was clear on what the rules of the world were - in a nonofficial capacity, of course. The restroom had the same public stench that he was used to in places like this and he found the culprit immediately, cursing in front of the cracked mirror over the sink.

"Fucking bitch!" Cameron shouted at his reflection, dripping blood into the basin freely.

"Damn," Angel said, letting out a low whistle, "Who did that to you?"

"Fucking cunt I brought here," Cameron hissed out, turning to get toilet paper from the stall only to find there wasn't any.

"What'd she do that for?" Angel asked, stepping slightly closer, "Looks like she broke your nose, buddy."

"I knew it," he cursed, "She hit me because she's a cock tease, that's wh-"

Cameron stopped speaking when Angel slammed him against the wall between the urinals and sink. He kept one hand on his nose and one pushed against Angel's much larger shoulder as he muffled out, "What the hell is your problem?"

"Buffy Summers is my problem," Angel roared, "If you ever want to swim again, you stay away from her. Got it?"

"Look," Cameron explained, "She hit me. I was just protecting-"

"Lay off the bullshit," Angel demanded, "I don't have time. I have to take your date home and see I can get the fucking swelling down before her father finds out what you did."

"I can-"

"SHUT UP!" Angel shouted and pulled him back from the wall slightly so he could slam him back into it, "Touch her again and I'll come find you, boy. You'll have more to worry about than your nose."

"I'm s-sorry, but she-"

"Cameron," Angel sneered, leaning in closely to make sure he got his message across, "That's your name, right? I want to hurt you so badly, I can barely stand it, so keep talking, okay?"

Angel waited and was greeted with silence. Taking a deep breath and reminding himself he liked his job, he said evenly, "What you attempted to do tonight was date rape. It's a violation of a person and it's against the law. Buffy won't press charges, but believe me when I tell you I'm going to try and convince her to. Being able to touch a beautiful girl is a privilege. It isn't yours to take as you wish. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Cameron said, only after Angel glared at him for long seconds waiting for an answer.

"Good," Angel said, standing up straight and releasing him, "Touch her again and they'll never find your body."


keep some sorrow in your hearts and minds
for the things that die before their time

"You broke his nose," Angel said with a grin as he opened his car door and waited for her to climb in. He circled the other side and climbed in before taking her hand and inspecting her. He knew it wasn't uncommon for someone to hurt themselves as much as the person they hit when it was done incorrectly, "You didn't hurt yourself when you hit him did you?"

"No," she said shaking her head, "Daddy taught me how to punch straight a long time ago."

"Good," he said, starting his car and pulling from the parking lot, "I'm going to take you to my house to get cleaned up before I take you home, okay?"

"Well...that's the other thing," she said, sniffling again, "I called home after I called you and told Mom I was staying at Willow's because I knew Daddy would lose it if he saw me like this."

"Okay," he said, nodding with uncertainty at why this was upsetting her, "I can take you to Willow's. That's not a big deal."

"Well then I called Willow and she said her parents were having house guests and that I couldn't stay there tonight," Buffy added, "And now I don't know what to do."

"Buffy," Angel said, casting a glance toward her as he drove, "Hank is going to see it tomorrow if he doesn't tonight."

"I know," she said, "But...he's going to freak when he sees it and I just can't...I can't face him tonight. I just need some time to think about how I'm going to explain this."

"Can't you sneak into your room?" Angel asked, keeping his eyes on the road and his hands on the steering wheel. There was no way Buffy was staying the night at his house. He would have of think of something else. Not only did he not trust himself but Hank would crucify him if he found out. No, there had to be a better option. He just didn't know what it was yet.

"He'll see it," she moaned, "Trust me. I can never sneak anything like this past him. I've tried before."

Angel kept silent for the rest of the drive, if only to keep himself from begging her to go home. He knew if she stayed there he wouldn't be able to resist pulling her into his arms and swearing he would keep her safe for the rest of his life.

"Geez," Buffy said as he pulled into the driveway, "Does a small country live in there with you?"

"What?" he asked distractedly as he climbed out of the car. He glanced up at the mansion and then walked around the car to open her door, which she was already opening, "Oh. No, it was my mother's family's house."

"Was?" Buffy asked as they headed for the front door.

"My mom and sister died in car accident six years ago," he said, unlocking the formidable front door and pushing it open, "Now it's just me and my little sister, Cordelia. I got custody of her when my mom died."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Angel," she gushed, "I didn't mean..." Realizing he said "Cordelia" caused her to clamp her mouth closed. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again. This whole night had to be a nightmare.

"That's okay," he said, shutting the door behind her, "You couldn't have known."

"Is she here? Your sister, I mean?" Buffy asked. She tried not to gape at her surroundings but the house was nothing short of magnificent. The furnishings looked as if they had been placed there for a movie scene, complete with lush plants in the corners and Persian rugs on the marble floors.

"I think she's staying at Harmony's tonight," he muttered absently, tossing his jacket over the couch and reaching to relieve her of the identical one she wore.

"Harmony," Buffy echoed in shock, "Like the blonde, ditzy girl who talks too much?"

"That's the one," Angel said, "She's one of my sister's friends. Do you know her?"

"Angel," Buffy said, taking a deep breath and holding it, "Please tell me your sister isn't Cordelia Chase"

"Uh, yeah," Angel answered with confusion and then more confusion when Buffy groaned at his answer. He looked at her for a second before it hit him, "Oh God, you go to school with her don't you?"


"And you don't like each other?"

"More like a seething animosity," Buffy answered, wandering around the room. She picked up a picture on the mantelpiece of Angel and Cordy laughing together. They looked like family. It was strange that she never saw it before, but it made sense. They were both so damn beautiful with their sculpted cheekbones and dark hair, "I thought your last name was Angelus."

"It is," he said, "My father died when I was a baby and my mom remarried Cordy's father, Richard Chase."

Angel sat down on the couch and watched Buffy wandering around. He could already see her living there with him and making this her home. He could even see Cordy warming up to Buffy after a while. Planning to start the process, even if it wasn't purposely, he began explaining as he led her to the bathroom to get cleaned up, "I know Cordy can be difficult, but you have to understand why she is the way she is."

Buffy bit back the urge to blurt out, "Spoiled?" She always knew that Cordelia was rich and had heard that she lost her family in a car accident, but the girl was just too mean to feel sorry for.

"Her father left when my sisters were in grade school," he said, "He couldn't handle the idea that my mother's family was so powerful and wealthy, even though Mom never held that over him. He just couldn't stand not being the man of the house. Then Mom and my other sister, Kathryn, died. She was Cordy's twin, Buffy. Ever since Kathy died, Cordy has felt like a part of her was missing."

"Was Kathy like Cordy at all?" Buffy asked, unable to help herself. The idea of two identical Cordelia's running around was enough to send her into a full blown shudder even though she was starting to feel a little bit of sympathy for Queen C.

"No," Angel said, shaking his head sadly as he opened the first aid kit, "Kathy was shy and quiet, always standing in Cordy's shadow. She was the kindest person you'd ever want to meet. Cordy used to protect her from the world. No one could ever pick on Kathy if Cordy was around. They were a sight when they were together, especially when they were happy. Those two brilliant smiles...they could talk me into anything."

"I'm so sorry," she whispered, touching the side of his face. He met her eyes for a second and blinked, "No, I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm spilling all this to you. I've never talked about this to anyone."

"I'm glad you told me," Buffy whispered.


come on, color me in
come on, color me in
give me your blue rain
give me your black sky
give me your green eyes
come on, give me your white skin
come on, give me your white skin
come on, give me your white skin

Buffy tossed and turned in the guest bedroom feeling overwhelmed by the evening's events. There was no way she was going to sleep after being beat up by some creep on the swim team, coming home with Angel and then finding out about Cordelia. It was too much to handle, although to be honest, she wasn't certain she would be able to sleep anyway when she was so close to Angel's bedroom.

Angel's bedroom.

Those two words were taboo in her mind. She could even begin to allow her brain to comprehend what it would be like to be in his arms there even for a few minutes. If she had any guts at all she would already be down the hall and climbing in with him.

It had been a year since he kissed her and although they both agreed they would stay apart, she knew he still was attracted to her. Just the way he lost his temper at the club gave him away. After he had gone in the bathroom after Cameron, she had snuck up to the door and pressed her ear against it to listen. His voice was so angry and full of emotion as he talked to her date. Buffy knew Angel cared about her. She knew he did. Now all she had to do was convince him to follow through with his emotions.

She heard a knock on the front door and she crept out of her room, watching as Angel walked down the grand staircase and through his house in drawstring pants and no shirt. She was so mesmerized by the flexing muscles in his back and the sight of the large tattoo on his right shoulder blade, that she couldn't even get her mind to wonder who was at the door.

"Liam," a female voice crooned and Buffy hurried over the landing, crossing where the staircase went down so she could downstairs better. Standing mere feet from Angel's bedroom, she was torn between eavesdropping and snooping. She stayed where she was and watched as an annoyingly beautiful blonde woman entered the foyer.

"Darla," Angel breathed in a voice that sounded like irritation, "It's late. What are you doing here?"

"Is your sister home?" she asked coyly, stepping closer to him and smoothing her hands over his muscular chest. Buffy was certain that woman wasn't there to see Cordy.

"No," he said, stepping away, "Is there something you needed?"

"Needed?" Darla echoed sensually, stepping closer again, "I don't know if I need it, but I know I want it."

"Listen," Angel said and Buffy listened closely to see if there was any interest or emotion in his voice, "I already told you that it's over."

"I know what you said," Darla purred, "But you said that before and still weren't able to keep me out of your bed. What do you think? One more time for old time's sake?"

"No," he said, firmly, "It's time for you to go."

Buffy watched them going back and forth, feeling an intense jealousy nipping at her. She had never been jealous or protective over a guy before, but somehow she had always thought of Angel as hers. She looked down at her mini skirt and shirt for a second and then back out to the ex-lovers in heated discussion. Making a decision, she hurried into Angel's bedroom and pulled one of his shirts from the closet. Quickly, she shed her own clothes and donned his shirt, taking a second to rumple her hair. She went back out and pressed the bruised side of her face against the wall near the top of the stairs, so Darla wouldn't be able see it and think that Angel had hit her.

"I'm tired. I'd like to go back to sleep, so if you don't mind..." Angel's voice wafted up to the top of the stairs.

"Maybe you need company," Darla persisted, not planning on leaving any time soon. She had gone there to sleep with Angel and wasn't going to leave until she got what she wanted.

"Angel?" Buffy called out, pretending to lean tiredly against the wall at the top of the stairs. She tried not to smile as she faked a yawn, "Are you coming back to bed, baby?"

Angel turned around and nearly swallowed his tongue. Jesus, she was fantastic drowning in one of his best silk shirts. She had left most of the top buttons unbuttoned and he could see the perfect rise of her breasts. Her naked legs peered out from the bottom of the shirt and he fought to breathe as he choked out, "Just a second, love."

"Who is that?" Darla demanded, pointing up at Buffy with one red, claw like fingernail, "You think some little cheerleader can replace me?"

"No," Angel said, turning his back on her and heading up the stairs, "I think she already has. You can you let yourself out, can't you?"

The steps seemed to triple in number as Angel climbed them. At some point he would reach the top and then he would have her there nearly naked in his shirt, waiting for him with Darla watching. He knew without looking back that she hadn't left yet.

When he reached her, he saw that she was leaning against the wall trying to hide her injuries from his ex and he had to smile. She was so damn smart...and beautiful...and perfect. Thinking fast, he pulled her into his arms and strategically covered the side of her face with his large hand as he kissed her. She squealed in delight as he pulled her into his arms and headed for the bedroom, momentarily forgetting the Darla was still there and this was just an act. He kicked his bedroom door closed behind him and continued to kiss her, lost in the sweet taste of her mouth.

He groaned as her warm little hands moved around his neck, pulling him harder against her. He had almost allowed himself to forget out he loved the way she felt against him, how when she kissed him the whole world fell away leaving only the two of them. It was almost as if the rest of the world could disappear and he wouldn't notice or care. The jarring sound of the slamming of his front door brought him back to reality and he pulled away from her lips.

"I-I'm sorry," he said, setting her gently on her small feet and stepping away, "I got carried away."

"That's okay," she said, stepping closer and allowing herself to touch his chest. He was so perfect all over, so much better than she had even imagined. She didn't even care that kissing him made her sore jaw ache. She didn't care if it hurt twice as much as long as he did it again. She looked up at him and pleaded silently with her eyes for just one more kiss and he had no choice but to oblige her, sliding his hands over her silk clad body, meeting her lips once more.

"Thanks for helping me out," he managed to force out when he backed away again, knowing he would need a cold shower before he could sleep that night.

"You're welcome," she said, "I hope you don't mind that I did that, it just looked like she wasn't going to leave."

"She would have...eventually...I think," he said, not willing to admit to Buffy that usually he gave in before he could get her to go. He took a long shaky breath and then added, "I think you can get dressed now though."

"What if I don't want to?" Buffy asked coyly, stepping closer. He promised himself he would burrow through the wall before he touched her again. He just couldn't allow himself to touch her again. Could he?

"We've been over this," he stammered, "I wish things were different but they aren't. Nothing's changed. You're still in high school and I'm still your father's partner. I'm seven years older than you, Buffy."

"I've done the math," she answered, defiance flashing through her eyes, "I'm eighteen now and I can do whatever I want."

"He'll kill me," Angel said, "Not that I wouldn't risk it, but I'm just trying to protect you, Buffy. If we start something here, it could get out of control and it'll be over before it starts."

"Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?" she demanded, taking a step closer, "Isn't it supposed to get out control?"

"This isn't some fairy tale," he said angrily, quelling the urge to yell at her, "When I kiss you, you don't wake up from some deep sleep and live happily ever after."

"No," she said as a knock sounded on the door, "When you kiss me, I wanna die."

Angel met her eyes for a long time, catching the fear and love in them, before brushing past the delectable body of his partner's daughter, out the bedroom door and back down the stairs to answer the door.

Buffy followed him out, leaning against the wall again in her former position as she waited. She heard Angel talking to someone and strained to see who was at the door, if it was Darla again, but couldn't see that far without moving from her spot.

"We have an emergency situation," she heard her father say as he stepped into the house. She was prepared to run into the bedroom and hide when Hank Summers looked up and saw his daughter half naked standing at the top of Angel's staircase, "What the fuck is going on here?"

"Listen Hank," Angel said, holding his hands up and backpedaling several steps, "I can explain."

"Daddy," Buffy called out, forgetting out her injuries and buttoning the top of Angel's shirt as she ran down the stairs, "Please wait! This isn't what it looks like.

"What happened to your face?" he screamed. Not waiting for an answer, his arm flung out, contacting with Angel's jaw, "I can't wait to bury your useless fucking body!"

"Daddy!" Buffy screamed jumping in between them and pressing her back against Angel's chest to protect him, "It's not what you think. Just calm down for a second."

"I'm glad it's not what I think," Hank said, "Because it looks like you've just gotten out of his bed. Was that before or after he hit you?"

"I wasn't in his bed and he didn't hit me," she said, firmly and angrily, "Don't come in here punching people before you know the whole story."

Hank's phone rang and he answered it with a furious, "Hello?" He spoke for a second and when he hung up, he looked up, glowering at Angel, "We need to go now. Get dressed, Angelus. Buffy, call your mother and get your ass home. We'll talk about this later."

"Hank," Angel said, "I swear to God..."

"We have an emergency," Hank said, crossing his arms over his chest, "Hurry up."

Angel looked from Buffy to Hank and back again before jogging up the stairs to get dressed. He shut his door quietly and leaned against it for a second before moving into action. Even through the closed door he could hear Hank demanding that Buffy get dressed as well. Angel stopped, looked down at her clothes lying in a pile at his feet and closed his eyes.