AUTHOR’S NOTE: Thanks to indie for the help and encouragement! Thanks to Shirleyujest for the beta!
Buffy sat at the small table in the corner of her room nervously waiting for Angel to finish eating and come to her chamber. Giles was setting up a trundle bed that slid under hers so that Angel would have a place to sleep and so that during the day it would be hidden from prying eyes. Her gaze swept around the room and even though she had spent her entire life sleeping there in luxurious quarters, it looked different somehow - maybe because tonight she would share it with a man for the first time.
She shifted restlessly on her chair. Just because she didn’t plan on becoming Angel’s consort didn’t mean that she was calm about sharing her space with him. Something inside her told her that from this day on everything was about to change.
Giles crossed the room, having finished with the bed and bedding and sat down at the table with her. “Buffy, I’m concerned,” he said quietly. “What you’re planning to do could not only jeopardize your reputation and your mother’s but could likely get Angel killed.”
“Whose side are you on? Do you think I should just jump into bed with someone because society thinks it’s the thing to do? I just need to make it less than a year. When I turn eighteen, I’ll be free to leave here and start my own home. I’ll take you and Oz and Angel with me. We’ll all be safe and you’ll be free.”
Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them carefully before putting them back on. “Buffy, I’ve always thought of you as a daughter. I would be proud to accompany you wherever you might go, but you must be realistic. You know very well that you can’t take me with you when you go. Your mother would never allow it.”
“Then I’ll kidnap you,” she growled with fierce determination on her face. “I’m not about to jump ship and leave you here with her.”
“You may not have a choice,” he
Angel stumbled brokenly behind Oz, thoughts racing through his mind. The walk from the servant’s quarters to the main part of the house wasn’t far, but his injuries became more apparent with each labored step. The sense of dread that had filled him since he had been punished for refusing to force himself on Willow had ballooned with each passing day. While he was glad that he was in a new home and was relived that he would be near Giles, he knew this was no reprieve. He expected his lifespan would be shorter now than if he had been sent to the fields and worked to death as so many were. If Buffy was of the same mind as Willow, he would be dead in a matter of months for failure to serve his Mistress.
He stepped into the giant sitting room and barely had time to look around before Oz headed directly toward her bedroom calling out her name. “In here,” she answered and Angel followed Oz to his new Mistress’ chamber. The room was spacious and filled with every comfort. It smelled lightly of vanilla and was utterly female without being overly fussy.
Buffy was sitting at a table in the corner of her room talking quietly with Giles. He stared at her openly, knowing that in any other instance just that small act of boldness would result in punishment. Already he knew he would be safe in her presence. He noticed again that she was very beautiful - almost painfully so. She was petite and blonde, her hair falling almost to her waist in silken strands. She looked innocent and untouched in a way that was rare for the females that he’d served. Most of them had taken consorts by her age and some who preferred variety had already taken on a number of them. A part of him yearned for her and wanted nothing more to be her consort, to pleasure her in the night and serve her during the day and be free from the hell that was to come.
“Ah good,” Giles said rising. “Angel, come sit down and we’ll tend your wounds before I’m called away again.”
“Giles, should we go somewhere else for that?” Angel murmured. Even in Willow’s home, there had not been so much familiarity between her and the men. Willow was friendly with him and polite to the others, but to have them in her chambers walking freely and speaking without permission? It was shocking, to say the least. He stared slack jawed as Oz sat down at the table with Buffy and helped himself to a piece of fruit from the bowl there.
“Many things are different in Buffy’s presence,” Giles remarked, noting the stunned look on Angel’s face. “When you are alone with her, the rules do not apply, but you must remember to return to form when you’re outside of this room. Mistress Joyce is not inclined to leniency and is especially vicious with those who show too much of Buffy’s influence.” Angel nodded and risked another quick glance toward Buffy. He found her looking at him with interest and a slight blush covered her cheeks. He immediately looked away, but felt a warmth streak through his body.
Giles treated Angel’s wounds again, carefully putting salve on the whipping marks crisscrossing his back before wrapping his ribs tightly. Angel shrank back in his chair when Buffy came around to dab a cool cream to the wounds on his face. “Mist…Buffy,” he stuttered. He lowered his eyes from her and stopped speaking. He couldn’t exactly tell his Mistress not to do whatever she wanted, but she shouldn’t be tending to his wounds. It wasn’t the place of a woman to serve a man.
“It’s okay,” she said softly, somehow knowing just what was troubling him.
When Oz and Giles headed off to bed for the evening a short time later, he didn’t know what to do with himself. He stood awkwardly near the door with his head bowed and waited for orders.
“Angel,” she called and he raised his head to look at her. “I never wanted to own anyone.”
“Yes Mistress,” he answered.
She took a deep, shaky breath and gazed at him with luminous hazel eyes. “Please don’t call me that.”
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I’m not sure what you expect of me.”
“I just need you to help me pretend,” she explained, “and inside this room with me or Giles or Oz, you don’t have act like that. Let’s go sit down.”
She padded barefoot into her sitting room and curled up in a chair. He followed and stood patiently until she gestured for him to have a seat with a grimace.
“Seriously, I’m just a person, you’re just a person. Just act like you do with Giles or something,” she said, grinning.
His lips jerked momentarily into a smile. Treat her like she was Giles? Highly unlikely.
“I know some bad stuff happened with your friend, Willow,” she said. “And I regret having to put you in this position again, but I promise, it will be different this time.”
He nodded and stared off into the fireplace.
She frowned. “Hey, you’ve been here before. You know what worked and didn’t work with Willow. You are the perfect person to help me fool everyone.”
“I’ll do everything I can to serve you,” he answered, carefully keeping his voice even. This innocent girl was going to get him brutally executed. She just didn’t know it yet.
In the weeks that followed, Buffy found she was having a difficult time with Angel underfoot. There was something about his beaten and broken form that attracted her, but with each passing day her feelings for this stranger increased. He was quiet and polite and always subservient unless Giles or Oz were around. Even then he was careful to speak reverently about her – she knew this from eavesdropping on conversations from other rooms.
Even though he was still healing and should be spending the days recuperating, he shadowed her silently wherever she went. He never sat unless she invited him to sit, never ate unless she specifically ordered it, never slept before she did and every morning he was awake, dressed and waiting for her when she opened her eyes.
Buffy was trying to get used to the idea that he was assigned to her. She wouldn’t think of it as owning him, even though she most certainly did. This was something that she had avoided her whole life and now she couldn’t manage to shake him unless she asked for privacy. When Angel was around she carried nothing and wanted for nothing. If she tried to do something that might make her break a sweat, he somehow demanded that he do it himself without appearing domineering. He was so damn stubborn that she began to wonder who was ordering who around. He simply would not break propriety.
Angel, on the other hand, was waiting for the other shoe to drop. His wounds were healing nicely and his duties mainly consisted of following Buffy wherever she went. He didn’t mingle often with the other men, except for Giles and Oz, but he quickly realized that all of them were not friends of his little blonde mistress. In fact, there were some that seemed very loyal to Mistress Joyce. When they thought it wouldn’t be noticed, they stared at Buffy’s nubile body in her pretty dresses as if undressing her with their eyes. It appeared as if they were waiting to be called in to service her. A young man named Parker seemed the most interested in Buffy. The look in his eyes could only be described as lust. Angel despised him immediately.
Besides a few lewd looks from the other men, everything was fairly calm for the first few weeks until he was called in to see Mistress Joyce. Buffy had gone off with some friends and he had been left alone for most of the day. He had spent most of the day helping Giles with his duties when he was called to her presence.
Mistress Joyce would have been a lovely woman if her eyes weren’t so cold and unfeeling. Angel found himself wondering how Buffy could have come from this hardened woman. She was lounging in a large, pampered room with half a dozen men surrounding her and waiting for her orders. She demanded that all of them leave and stared at Angel, who was careful to keep his eyes averted and his hands behind his back.
“You may kneel before your Mistress,” she ordered, obviously enjoying her command. Angel obeyed wordlessly and waited for her next order.
“You’re healing nicely,” she observed in approval. “I think I can expect you to become more active in your role of servicing Buffy.”
“Yes Mistress,” he murmured.
“Yes, you’re good at pretending to be obedient,” she crooned. “But I know all about you and the Rosenberg girl. I also know that before her you were quite the whore.” She stared at him for a few moments and then sneered, “Look at me.”
He raised his eyes and looked at her. She appeared half mad with determination. “You know how to seduce. You’ve done it many times and from what I hear were very good at it. Obviously, threatening you or beating you doesn’t do the trick. I’ll learn from Sheila’s mistake. You have one month to become my daughter’s consort. She chose you, but the choice does not have to be hers. If you do not succeed, I will send someone of my choosing to make sure the deed is done and while she’s busy, I’ll make sure you never pleasure another woman again!”
Angel clamped down on the growl that rose in his throat. He said nothing, but his chest was heaving in the effort to remain still and obedient.
“Oh good,” she said. “I can see that you understand now. As we speak, the trundle bed under hers is being removed. Yes, I know you haven’t been sleeping in her bed. Tonight you will. Prove you aren’t a eunuch or I’ll make you one!”
Willow looked nervously over her shoulder and then back at Buffy as they walked briskly through the park. They were both trying to be discreet but had the tendency to stop talking completely if someone came by, staring at each passerby like they were spies for their mothers. As well known as Willow’s story was, many people would not recognize her on sight, but Buffy was a different story. Being from a family as wealthy and well connected as hers made her very visible. She had attended every major event since she was old enough to be dressed up in silk and diamonds.
“How do I know you’re not trying to trick me?” Willow asked suspiciously. She knew very well who Buffy was. Willow’s family, while not being nearly as affluent as Buffy’s, was still in the upper echelon of society. The main difference was that while Buffy was front and center, Willow was usually trying to melt into the walls.
“Look, I feel just like you do,” Buffy admitted quietly. “I think men should be free like we are and we could both use a friend who won’t sell information about us to the highest bidder.”
Willow stared at her for a few moments and then, deciding to take a chance, seemed to relax visibly and lowered her voice even more. “Angel…he’s okay?”
“He’s seen better days,” Buffy informed her, “but it looks like he’s going to be fine.”
“Good,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “Everything was all my fault.”
“Did you whip him and beat him with sticks?” Buffy demanded.
“Then it’s not your fault,” Buffy said.
“”It was my fault,” Willow confessed, straightening her shoulders. “I didn’t know what I was doing – not to myself or to Angel. If I had been more convincing, maybe my mother would have thought we were really having…doing…you know!”
“Well, I’m in the same boat,” Buffy said, skirting a tree and pulling a leaf from a low hanging limb. “I need to know what you did wrong, so the same thing doesn’t happen again.”
“I don’t know,” Willow said, blushing. “You should ask Angel.”
“He’s not exactly Joe-here’s-what-I’m-thinking,” Buffy groaned. “And besides, I can’t just come out and ask him about that.”
When Angel got back to Buffy’s bedroom, the trundle bed, as promised, was gone. It seemed to be the only thing in the room that was disturbed – besides Angel himself. He couldn’t very well just jump into Buffy’s bed that night. It didn’t work that way. He had barely even touched her and now he was expected to crawl in without so much as an invitation or a caress. He glanced at the hard floor, scowling at it. He didn’t have a problem sleeping on the floor normally. He had spent many nights in dirt and squalor as a child. Normally, however, he wasn’t healing from a severe beating. His back ached so badly at night even on the soft mattress he had been given, that it was difficult to sleep. His ribs were close to being healed, so that was a slight comfort, but he wasn’t looking forward to spending his nights on that hard floor. Naturally, he would do it without a word of complaint.
He paced around the room in frustration as he waited for her to return. Things were never simple. Not anymore. Gone were the days when his life floated on a silken bliss, living from night to night on waves of pleasure and anticipation. Giles had made it clear that Buffy’s fear of Oz being sold wasn’t not her biggest problem and now that Angel had been told point blank that Buffy would be raped should she not relent, his decision was clear. He was going to have to seduce her. Not only to save his own life, but to save hers. Buffy thought herself worldly but was more naïve she imagined. Angel stood by the window and gazed wearily into the night. The only way to save her innocence was to take it.
When Buffy returned, he didn’t mention the conversation with her mother or the missing bed. He wasn’t sure how to broach the subject and knew that her anger and possible fear would do nothing to improve the situation.
That night when she was ready for bed, he stood staring out the windows as he always did while she changed and crawled beneath the covers.
“Okay,” she said, turning over and snuggling up, “your turn, roomie.”
Buffy’s endearment for him usually brought a silly little smile to his face, but not tonight. Without a word, he walked to where the bed usually was and laid down on the hard floor. The usual squeak of the trundle being pulled from its hiding place never happened. Frowning, Buffy scooted to the edge of her giant bed and looked down at him on the floor.
“What are you doing?” she asked, perplexed.
“Your mother had the bed removed this afternoon,” Angel answered.
Buffy scowled. “First of all, that’s not fair, and secondly, why didn’t you say anything? You’re all broken and you think that you’re going to sleep on the floor?”
“Yes,” Angel answered. And if he was careful not to move, sheer exhaustion might allow him to sleep for at least part of the night.
“Okay,” she said, sitting up and tossing the blankets aside. “Come up here. We need to talk.”
“Is that an order, Mistress?” Angel asked.
“Don’t be a jackass,” she said. “You know that’s not what I was saying.”
Holding in a groan, he rose and sat down on the edge of her bed.
“I don’t understand why you can’t just be my friend,” Buffy asked. “You’d rather sleep on the floor than mention the stupid bed to me. You never talk to me like you talk to Oz or Giles. You act like-“
“A slave?” he suggested.
“Would you stop!” she shouted. “Just talk to me.”
“What do you want me to say, Buffy?” he asked. “I follow you around all day like your faithful little pet, but I think we both know that you won’t be able to convince your mother that you’re sleeping with me. I don’t think you understand what could happen. I know you want to be friends, but honestly, I’m doing you a favor. The less you get to know me the better.”
“Why?” she asked, her voice filled with exasperation.
“The less you know me the less you’ll be hurt when I’m gone,” he said, the muscles in his jaw working bitterly as he stared at the wall.
“You’re going somewhere?” Buffy asked, looking at him in confusion. Was he planning on running away?
“Buffy,” he sighed. He turned to look at her. She was all golden beauty and blushing innocence. She was so beautiful, so rich and so painfully unaware of the world around her. He reached up and caressed her cheek, allowing his thumb to glide over her silky skin. It would be so easy, so very simple to seduce her. Even then she didn’t jerk away from his touch, but curiously held very still for it.
“W-w-what?” she stammered, blushing furiously.
Angel let his hand drop away. In a few short weeks, if he didn’t use his seductive skills to his advantage, he would be bleeding to death in some dank alley and Buffy would be screaming for someone to protect her from whoever was sent to divest her of her virginity. He wasn’t going to let that happen, even if it meant betraying her to see them both safe.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he assured her. “I just mean I won’t be with you forever.”