Putting the Damage On

By Tango

Winner of His Girl Award

Disclaimer: Don't own ‘em, don't get money for writing about ‘em & have no permission from Joss or anyone else. Kay?

Rating: NC-17 - So please don't read this if you are underage cause this is a little smutty.

Spoiler: When Buffy & Faith switch bodies, what if Faith went to LA to get some perfect happiness after she left Riley? Would Angel know the difference?

(NOTE: For my purposes, Angel already knows about Shanshu.) B/R, B/A. Buffy/Angel ‘shipper - as always. All the lyrics are from Tori Amos.

Please lemme know what you think! Tangofic@hotmail.com

Let's begin, shall we...

cause boy, you still look pretty to me but i've got a place to go.
i've got a ticket to your late show and now i'm worrying
cause even still you sure are pretty when you're putting the damage on.
yes when you're putting the damage on, yes when you're putting the damage on.
you're just so pretty when you're putting the damage on.

Angel cast a quick glance over his shoulder between stakings to check on Cordy & Wes. The nest was much larger than they thought. It all made sense when they realized that the sewers intersected right below the small, condemned building.

Too late for hindsight. They danced into combat.
Bloodsuckers to the left, bloodsuckers to the right.

Angel was glad that Wesley had procured a flame thrower from a certain unsavory connection before the battle. It had won them a great advantage. The undead army was retreating, fleeing beneath the house's floors and into the depths of the city. Of course, there were many that were just too brave or stupid or both to quit and they paid with their not-so-immortal lives.

If Angel had felt the need to explain it to his comrades, he could have conjectured for quite some time on their poor battle strategy, their simplistic defense mechanisms and their inability to properly guard their perimeter - which was their greatest mistake. The hint of snob in him wanted to gloat, if only for a moment, about their poor lineage. Angel came from the strongest bloodline a vampire could have - direct from the favorite Childe of the Master - and therefore the strongest. He was twice as strong as vampires his same age simply because of his lineage.

He smiled as he cut another down with a graceful sweep of his broadsword. He loved that sword - a warrior's weapon. It felt sleek and capable in his large hands. He took down his brethren with not a twinge of guilt, knowing that for once in his life, he was undoubtably doing the right thing. Being a good guy felt nice. Better than nice. Exhilarating. As he skillfully removed the head from the shoulders of the final remaining vampire, he felt a spring of happiness and then a downpour of pain. He gasped inside a groan and fell to his knees. He knew this sensation. His soul cried out along with his voice and he doubled over in pain.

Cordelia and Wesley rushed to his side, leaning over and asking him excitedly if he was alright. He shook his head no. He was not, by any extent of the imagination, "alright."

"Get away from me," he moaned between gritted teeth. He was in excruciating pain and he was angry. He left Buffy to lose his soul like this? What was the point in doing anything at all except brooding? He waited for the pain to stop and for the unremorseful, calculating demon to take over.

"Angel," Cordelia cried, "What's going on? What's wrong?"

"My soul!" Angel shouted in an uncharacteristic rage, causing Wesley and Cordelia to step back.

"Surely not," Wesley interjected, "You couldn't have experienced perfect happiness."

"Apparently," Angel groaned, "it doesn't have to be all that perfect, just happy."

They waited, weapons poised for him to rise as the demon but he stayed doubled over as the sane, kind man they knew as their friend and boss. Long minutes passed and he didn't change. Finally he stood up and shook his head, "I don't understand."

"Could it've been something else? Some other kind of pain? A spell, perhaps," Wesley asked.

"No, I know what it was," Angel snapped, "But it didn't finish...or...I don't know, but I'm going to find out!"

Cordy and Wesley stood in the middle of the small, broken down building, watching him go. Finally, they shuffled home to await the judgement of The Powers That Be.


hiding underneath your skin, jets are revving, yes revving from a central source
and this has power over me. not because you feel something
or don't feel something for me but because, mass, so big,
it can swallow, swallow her whole star intact

Faith, nestled safely inside Buffy's body, left Riley there sleeping naked in bed. She thought that B would have a little better taste in men. I mean, damn, look at Angel's fine ass. She thought that all of Buffy's men would be on the edge like Angel. Huge mistake that was. All of them were boys dressed as men. Especially Riley. He was just an overgrown boy in Daddy's boots.

something safe for the picture frame

Sure Riley was cute - the do-gooder all American boy who probably sat down with the family at dinner every night after finishing his chores on the farm. He probably bowed his head during grace and tried to be a nice, clean cut, corn fed, farm boy 365 days a year. He made love to Buffy and did an okay job, she guessed, if you were into that sort of thing, but even Buffy would have to admit that he just wasn't satisfying to a Slayer. How Buffy put up with that mushy, weak bullshit was beyond her. Time to find some real action.

Faith snuck into Joyce's house and snagged the keys to the Jeep. Since Sunnyhell doesn't have an international airport, she was just gonna have to borrow "Mom's" shiny Jeep to get to LA. She was itching to get to there and it wasn't because of the flight. She was hungering for a chance to try her new body out on Angel.

Angel. Now there was a kinky fucker that could rip her insides out. He wasn't a little boy trying out for the Major Leagues, he owned the goddamn sport. When Faith found out what Angel was, she took a little trip to Giles' collection to look up a thing or two about The Scourge of Europe. The watcher's diaries were just full of fun facts to learn and know, like what a wicked hottie of a vampire did to women for over a century. Besides the clinging Sire & Childe that were Darla and Drusilla, who apparently couldn't get enough of his cock, there were witches and other demons that cried his name through the gates of hell. She was surprised at the frankness and outright lewd descriptions some of those stodgy watchers had given regarding Angelus' relations. Of course, he did rape and torture his fair share of young maidens, but those disgusting descriptions that could have made anyone's skin crawl were the parts she breezed through and tried not to think about when she entertained the idea of releasing his worse half.

excuse me, but I can be you for awhile?

That vampire knew how to please a woman and now that she was wearing her brand new Buffy suit, Faith was sure she would finally be able to take him out on a test ride. She was wet just thinking about his large, muscle bound body. His strength and speed were unparalleled in other vampires she'd fought. She'd nearly come just from fighting him. She could hardly imagine what it would be like to fuck him. She pressed on the gas, steering towards LA. Tonight she would find out.


hiding underneath your skin, jets are revving, yes, revving from an ether twist.

Buffy, scratching at the insides of Faith's body, was scared shitless. It was early morning when she managed to take over the Watchers Council's big, red truck and break away from her assassins and certain death. Gripping the steering wheel, she tried to remain calm as she carefully navigated the streets. A Slayer didn't have to have a driver's license to be capable of driving. If she could just get this mammoth vehicle to Giles' basic vicinity, she could get him to help her figure this out.

She tugged at the tight black shirt she wore, feeling uncomfortable showing off Faith's cleavage and belly button. Oh well, if Faith was cool with it, why shouldn't she be?

Buffy pressed on the gas, speeding up slightly. She had to get her body back before Faith did something horrible with it. Faith's sexual exploitations were nearly legendary with the young men of Sunnydale and she was sure that slut was out screwing someone in her body. She gulped down the bile that threatened to rise up in her throat. There was no telling where her body was or what was being done to it. Made her want to crash the truck and send Faith's lovely, unscarred body threw the damn windshield.

things are getting desperate

Buffy held her temper. She couldn't maim the body while she was wearing it. She would just wait until Faith got it back. She steered down Giles' street as the sun had come to its perfect, shiny morning brightness. Time to test her friends' belief in her.


anybody knows you can conjure anything by the dark of the moon

"What if he doesn't come back?" Wesley said, craning his neck to look at the rising morning sun.

"What if he does come back and kills us both?" Cordelia asked, testing the edge of her stake.

"I don't understand," Wesley babbled, "None of my research of the curse ever revealed that something like this could possibly happen. It's always an extreme result - good or bad - there is no half way."

"You don't even know what happened," Cordy snapped, "Maybe nothing happened. Maybe it was a warning or a reminder or a...or a...damn muscle spasm, for goodness sake!"

"It wasn't any of those," Angel said, walking in, looking calmer and much less serial killer-y.

"What was it then?" Wesley asked, holding up a cross.

"Yes," Cordy added, gripping her stake tighting in her hand, "And we'd like the story with very little blood shed, thank you."

"Relax, I'm not evil," he said, passing them calmly by as if they weren't brandishing weapons and settled into his desk chair, forcing them to follow him into his office.

"Well then? What!?" Cordy asked placing her tanned hands on her curvaceous hips.

"They anchored my soul," Angel said, a tiny half smile playing across his lips.

"What?" Wesley said, sitting down, "Why? Not that you don't deserve it, but this seems a bit...unprecedented."

"Yes, I guess it is," Angel answered, "They said it was the next step toward Shanshu. Apparently, it doesn't all happen at once but in small phases. This was phase one."

"So you're allowed to be happy then?"

I guess so," Angel said, settling back in his chair and raising his feet to cross them at the ankle on the edge of his desk. Cordelia and Wesley took the hint and ushered each other out of his office.

Angel smiled. He was allowed to smile, as much as he wanted in fact, with no fear whatsoever of losing his soul. Not that the habit of brooding could ever be tamed but he could stop for a few minutes...you know, if he wanted to. He could make love to...

Oh God, Buffy.

Perplexed, he closed his eyes. Therein laid the twist. The horrible truth was that he couldn't just walk back into her life and say, "Hey, never mind about that whole normal life thing now that we can have sex."

Things were never easy dammit. He still wanted her to have a normal life. He still wanted her to be able to walk in the sun. He still wanted her. He ached for her day and night and knowledge that he could make love to her and yet still couldn't was more painful than just not being able to. Those damn Powers really have done their best to make sure he was still screwed no matter what.

only you can save my soul

"What cha thinking about, baby?" Said her voice. Her voice. Angel opened his eyes and stared into Buffy's.

"You, actually," he said, gawking at her. Buffy was leaning against the door frame in tight black leather pants and a black shirt, which her cleavage poured out of.

baby, baby, baby there are pieces of me you've never seen

He started to worry, which quickly became panic, as he realized that he didn't sense her come in and still didn't sense her.

"Glad to hear it," she said, walking over to him in a more blatantly sexual way than he had ever seen her walk, "Cause I was thinking about you too."

He walked around the desk, grasping her arms and looking deeply in her eyes. Something behind them was different. It was almost as if, well, she wasn't there. She glided into his embrace, biting at his lips before capturing them between hers.

"I missed you," she said, huskily, letting her hands roam over his hard body.

clouds descending

"I-I missed you, too," he answered before she dove into his mouth again. He reached up as they were kissing and felt for the scar, his mark on her. It was there. It was her. Every detail, except that this woman was not his love. She didn't walk like Buffy, she didn't talk like Buffy, she didn't touch him like Buffy did and she sure as hell didn't kiss like Buffy.

Cordelia unabashedly stared through the window at them. Buffy couldn't know that Angel's soul was bound - if it even was - and yet she was there, pawing at him like a piece of meat.

"Cordelia," Wesley said, inching over and waving his hand in disapproval, "You could be a little more tactful in your...eavesdropping. I'm sure Angel would not appreciate your indiscretion."

"What the hell is going on?" Cordy said in a whisper-yell, "She can't know his soul is bound, so why is she in there trying to seduce him?"

"I'm not sure, but there has to be an explanation," Wesley said, peering through the window as boldly as Cordelia, standing by her side to see what happened next.

I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets, looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets

Faith felt Buffy's body react violently to Angel touching her. She was dripping wet, much wetter than she would have been if it had been her body. Faith was excited, turned on and ready for the ride of her life with the vampire but Buffy's body knew somehow that this was her lover. Faith felt almost dizzy with the reaction the body she wore was having toward him. That sure as hell didn't happen with Riley. She kissed him harder, rubbing her body against his. She couldn't wait to rip his clothes off and fuck the unlife out of him.

she says control it then she says don't control it
then she says you're controlling the way she makes you crawl

Angel smelled her arousal immediately and felt his own respond in kind. This woman's arousal even smelled like Buffy. He was confused as he continued to kiss her, roaming his hands over her body, trying to find a flaw but finding none. This was Buffy's body, but somehow she wasn't in it.

At all.

Angel backed her up against the wall, ignoring the digging glares of his employees, peering in through the window. He ground his hardness against his lover's body, intertwining his hands in her fragrant hair. Resting his hands on either side of her head, he pulled her roughly away from the wall and slammed her head back against it again, knocking her effectively unconscious.

Cordelia came running into the office with Wesley less than a step behind her.

"What the hell are you doing?" She shouted, "I mean I don't like her that much anyway, but you just cracked her head against the wall! You said you didn't lose your soul! That sure looked evil to me!"

"That isn't Buffy," he said, lowering her slumped body into his chair.

"What? Of course, it's Buffy," Cordy shouted in irritation.

"It's not her...inside," he said, finishing in a whisper.

"What you mean, she's possessed?" Wesley asked, poised, ready to start leafing through ancient texts in search of the inevitable answers at a moment's notice.

"No, I don't think so," Angel said, thoughtfully, looking over her face.

"Demon clone?" Cordy interjected.

"No, it's her body," Angel answered, not able to pull his eyes from her.

"Ok, you're really starting to freak me out and you're not making any sense."

"It's her body but her soul isn't there," Angel said, picking up the phone, "Whoever is in there, isn't her. I have to call Giles."


she tries too hard, she's oblivious despite herself

Buffy in Faith's body stood staring at the green glowy thing that Willow held out in her hand. She felt her nerves begin to calm as smiled at her friend and Tara. There was a way to get her body back. Now all she had to do was find her body. Faith could be in Mexico by now for all she knew.

The phone rang and Buffy jumped at the sound, seriously rattled by pretty much everything at this point. There was nothing creepier than having someone steal your body. She kept waiting to wake up from some horrible dream.

beautiful angel calling

"Hello?" Giles asked in his typical, polite voice.

"Giles, it's Angel."

"Hello...Angel," Giles said staring into Faith's face and trying to see the Buffy he knew to be inside. Buffy inched forward, as if she was actually moving closer to Angel.

"Is Buffy there?"

"Yes," Giles said, after a moment of hesitation, "She's standing right here."

"Um, okay, because I've got her body here but she's not in it."

"Wait," Giles said, shocked, "You knew it wasn't Buffy even though it was her body?"

Giles looked into Buffy's astounded eyes as Angel said, "She's my soul mate, Giles. I would know her anywhere. This body is hers but the soul inside it isn't. I can't explain it but I'm sure-"

"No, no. You're right, Angel. Faith switched their bodies. You have Faith there in Buffy's body and I have Buffy here in Faith's body."

"That makes so much more sense. When did Faith wake up from the coma?"

"Just the other day. Angel, what did you do with her? Where is she?"

"I knocked her out," he said, simply.

"You knocked her out? Was she trying to kill you?"

"No, she was trying to seduce me."

"Oh," Giles said, holding a long, tensed silence, "Would you mind bringing her here to us? We have what we need to switch them back."

"Of course," Angel answered, looking at his shocked employees, "We'll be on our way soon."

"Angel, thank you. I'm deeply grateful."

"You're welcome," Angel said, hanging up the phone. Looking at his employees, he smiled.

"Don't tell me...we're going to Sunnydale?" Cordy asked, exasperated. Angel nodded, smiling, tossing his love's unconscious body over his broad shoulder.


they are frayed and i fear, my fear is greater than my faith

Buffy stood there with her hands on Faith's hips and the voice that came out her mouth, although undoubtably Faith's, had the candor and tempo of Buffy, "Giles, what did Angel say?"

Giles sighed, taking off his glasses and hanky to clean them, "Apparently, Faith took your body to Angel in an attempt to make him lose his soul."

"That bitch!" Buffy yelled, "What happened?" Panic filled her voice. Not really because he might have lost his soul, because she knew he would have stopped her. She was more concerned how he figured it out or if he even did. Maybe Cordy figured it out. What had he done with that whore in her body?

Giles smiled, "He said he knew it wasn't you. He knocked her out."

Buffy smiled.

"Oh," she said, taking a relaxing breath. She knew all along that her love would know the difference.

Her love?

Wait a second, what would Riley have done?

Oh God, what did Riley do?

"What did he say exactly?" Buffy pressed, needing to hear just how Angel figured it out.

"Er... um..." Giles said, taking a deep breath. He shouldn't tell her. It was irrelevant and encouraging the girl towards the vampire. Everyone knew that was a bad thing. He had to answer however, so he said, "He said that you are his soul mate, Buffy, and that he would know you anywhere."

Buffy sat down for the first time since she'd entered Giles' apartment, feeling safe in the net that Angel spun around her.

"He's on his way here with her now," Giles added.

He was coming here. She felt her heart leap and sink at the same time.

The phone rang again and Xander told them to tune into the vampire attack on the church on channel 5.


Look I'm standing naked before you. Don't you want more than my sex?
I can scream as loud as your last one but I can't claim innocence.

They were halfway to Sunnydale when Faith woke up in the back of Angel's car, with the hood up, chained to the sexy vampire, who was covered with a blanket to block him from the sun. Wesley was steering the beast, while Cordelia searched the radio for a good song.

"Where are you taking me?" Faith spat, "Back to Sunnyhell?"

"Yep," Angel answered, firmly but quietly.

"I thought you loved me," Faith said, trying to see if he had figured it out, "Why are you doing this?"

"We both know you aren't Buffy, Faith, so you can quit trying to keep up the ruse."

"How the hell did you know?" She asked angrily, pulling roughly on the chains.

"She's my mate. I'd know her if I was blind."

"Riley didn't figure it out," Faith said, a wicked smile covering Buffy's face.


"Yeah, her boyfriend."

Angel growled angrily, "You slept with her boyfriend? In her body?"

"Not like she hadn't slept with him already," she said, leaning in to make sure he heard every syllable.

Angel growled again, making Cordelia jump in the front seat.

"Stop that, Angel," she said harshly, "That vamp growly thing gives me the creeps."

"Can't believe you turned me down. I know how you like this body," she said, rubbing her hands over Buffy's breasts.

"It's not how I feel about her body, it's her. I'm not in love with you, even if you are in her body," Angel said, a harsh growl under each word.

"You're a jackass."

"Yeah, well, so are you."

"Sure you don't want to take advantage of me while you can, Angel?" She said in Buffy's sweetest voice, running her hand lightly up his thigh, "I could show you sides of Buffy you've never seen."

"No. And any time you wanna stop trying to whore my mate's body, that would be nice."


Angel couldn't helping being aroused, even though he knew it wasn't Buffy. It was her body. God, was it her body - her breasts spilling dangerously over her top, her narrow hips hugged by black leather. The smell of her arousal was intoxicating and...

girls, you know what I mean when swiveling that hip doesn't do the trick

Angel brushed her hand away from his thigh and shifted uncomfortably around his raging erection. He was embarrassed that she could make him to feel this way. But he was a man, after all, and that gorgeous body was Buffy's and the moist arousal floating to his sensitive nostrils was her smell. His mate's smell. It had been so long. He ached to taste her, to make love to her. It took every ounce of his self control not to take her up on her offer, even though the soul inside her enraged him.

And Riley. Who the hell was he?

Right, normal life.

Angel felt like he had done the best he could for her and the worst for himself. He knew he was going to have to keep himself in serious check if he had to encounter Buffy's new guy today.


vows are spoken to be broken. feelings are intense.
words are trivial. pleasures remain so does the pain.
words are meaningless and unforgivable.
all i ever wanted, all i ever needed is here in my arms.

"I'm a bit confused," Riley said as they all at down at Giles', having saved the church from the three crazy, Adam influenced vampires.

"That's Faith's body, but Buffy's soul is inside her. Faith has Buffy's body," Giles explained, pointing to the dark haired girl. Riley was having trouble grasping the concept - partially because he was sure that he made love to Buffy last night.

"I see," Riley said, looking at Buffy in Faith's body with great scrutiny, "And how can you be sure? Everyone's told me how crazy Faith is."

"Tara figured it out," Willow said, beaming, "And then we visited the netherworld to be sure. And we conjured a Contra to change them back."

"Which we'll do as soon as Angel gets here with my body," Buffy said, crossing her arms - well, crossing Faith's arms.

"And who is Angel?" Riley asked, stumped.

"My ex," Buffy said simply, hoping no one else would add any extra details. She certainly didn't want to launch into that conversation right now.

"Okay, why would she go to him?"

"To sleep with him to get back at me," Buffy answered quickly, "Wait...did you sleep with her?"

"I'm not sure what you mean," Riley said hesitantly, "I slept with Buffy Summers, my girlfriend, last night."

"Oh God," Buffy said, lowering herself to the chair far across the room from her boyfriend, "Couldn't you tell that wasn't me? I mean, couldn't you tell the way I talked and touched you that it wasn't me?"

Right now, he wasn't even sure it was her. Riley stared at her, unable to think of something good to say that would make it better. He was pretty sure he couldn't while she was still in Faith's body. He was thinking on it when Angel rushed in with Buffy chained to him. Lost in his own thoughts, Riley didn't even notice the smoking blanket that covered the ex as everyone rushed in and slammed the door.

every road leads back to my door, every road that I will follow,
every road leads back to my door, got all your crosses loaded

Buffy ran across the room and kicked Faith, knocking her unconscious and probably leaving a bruise on the face that she hopefully would see the next time she looked in the mirror. This was getting creepier and creepier. Buffy stood looking down at her own limp body, chained to Angel.

Angel turned and looked into Faith's eyes searching for Buffy. He sensed her immediately upon entering the room. Tears filled the brown eyes on both sides as Angel pulled her into his arms.

everybody knows i'm her friend, everybody knows i'm her man

"Buffy," he said, squeezing her tightly against him, ignoring the boy who stood there confused if he should be jealous that this man was hugging the body of someone that everyone told him was his girlfriend.

"Angel," she whispered, her face pressed against his chest. They held on for a few moments longer than necessary before breaking apart.

"Thank you," she whispered for much more than just the return of her body.

"You're welcome, love," he answered. He bent over to pick up the unconscious Faith and cradled her against him as Riley hovered over them, tense and jealous.

Riley looked over the man that was Buffy's ex. He could tell the way Angel looked at her that he was still in love with her. Angel was a big guy, and even though he was a good inch or two shorter than himself, he had the presence of someone much larger. Riley fumed at the way this guy walked in and took over Buffy's attention - or Faith's or whatever - as if he wasn't even there. He tried not to show his fear and nervousness but Angel looked up and met his eyes. Somehow the ex already new that Riley wasn't comfortable and knew that he could take over at any second. They stared at each other, sizing each other up, preparing to fight for the woman that each believed was his from the tops of their sexy heads to the bottoms of their large feet.

"Okay, Willow," Buffy said, clearing her throat and turning their gazes towards her instead, "Let's do this."

Holding out her hand for the Contra, she waited for Willow to hand it to her. Faith was already coming to and Angel held her tightly so she couldn't resist as Buffy slapped their hands together, the Contra between them, causing the reversal. Souls switched, returning to their rightful bodies.

Time was held in suspension for long moments while each Slayer settled into her rightful home and looked into the eyes of the body she had recently vacated. Blinking, they stared at each other. Unmoving and tense, the group waited for the action to start.

Faith kicked Riley out of the way and ran out of the door, leaving Buffy and Angel tied together inside. Buffy jumped from Angel's arms and pulled him along with her towards the door but stopped, realizing that Faith went where Angel could not follow. And Angel was chained to Buffy.

they say that your demons can't go there

"Damn," Buffy hissed.

"I'm sorry," Angel said, his head down turned in shame for his limitations.

"Oh Angel," Buffy said, turning to him, "That's not what I meant. Please don't be sorry. I'm so thankful for what you did for me today."

She flung herself in his embrace again, this time with her body and soul intact. She felt the arousal that had formed while Faith was in her body. She blushed against him even as she held him tightly, knowing that he knew of her arousal long before she did. She curled against him and, stunned and touched, he held her. He couldn't help but think that her body and her soul were in their rightful place - in his arms.

it's across the sky and across my heart and i cross my legs...oh my god.

"Buffy," Riley said protesting, touching her arm.

"Riley," she said, turning to her boyfriend, nearly forgetting he was even there. Angel swallowed a possessive growl before it made itself audible.

She's not mine anymore, he reminded himself. But isn't she?

Soul mate, echoed off Buffy's mind as Angel unlocked the chains and set her free to be pulled into Riley's arms. She always knew he didn't make her feel like Angel ever had, but with the close comparison, it was obvious that he felt different - not right. She stiffened in his embrace and stepped away from him. She was angry that he didn't know her, that he couldn't tell the difference as Angel had. Angel would always know.

If I was blind I would see you.

Angel almost had the urge to smile when he saw how she reacted toward her current lover. Her arousal had completely disappeared in Riley's arms and he could smell her anger. He felt guilty that he surged with such happiness. The boy had nothing on him.

"You should go look for Faith," Angel said, looking over at Buffy.

"Yeah, you're right," she answered, looking around at the group. Quickly, she gave everyone directions as to where they should look for her. Buffy looked out the window. It would be dusk in less than an hour.

"Angel, you have about an hour, then go to any other place you can think of, okay?"

Angel barely got his head into his nod of affirmation when Riley asked, "Why is he waiting an hour before he leaves?"

Buffy sighed, "He's a vampire, Riley."

"What? And you let him in here? You dated him?"

Buffy pulled Riley by the hand towards the door, knowing she was in for a long night of explaining.

"See you later, Angel," she said before disappearing through Giles' door into the sunshine. Angel sat back looking around the empty room. All he could think about during the hour he waited, was Buffy walking into the sunshine, holding hands with her normal boyfriend. Maybe the boy did have something on him after all.


she feels she isn't heard and the veil tears and
rages till her voices are remembered and his secrets can be told

After a long night of searching the nooks and crannies of Sunnydale, a weary and disappointed Scooby Gang plus Angel, Cordelia and Wesley, returned to Giles' flat to discuss their options. Riley was very uncomfortable around Angel. A subterrestrial working together with the group? Something was seriously wrong with that. And the strangest part was that everyone else seemed okay with it. Even Xander, who apparently hated the vampire, didn't seem afraid of him or worried that he would hurt someone.

Buffy had explained the whole thing to him. Angel had a soul. Angel was good.

And Angel was in love with his girlfriend - that part was obvious. And if he didn't know better, he would think that Buffy was in love with him. Riley didn't get the part where he left her. He wanted her to have a normal life? He wasn't sure of much in this situation but he did know that there was something he didn't know. They were keeping a large piece of the puzzle from him.

"She's long gone," Angel said, sitting down on the end of the couch, settling in next to Cordelia and Wesley.

"Yes, chances are very good that she has left town," Giles said, nodding.

"I'd say it's fair guess that she went to LA," Angel added.

"Oh God," Cordelia said, "We don't have enough problems, we're gonna have to deal with that nutjob again?"

"Not for long," Buffy said, "I'm going back there with Angel, Cordy & Wes to find her."

"Buffy, I'm not sure it's advisable to leave Sunnydale," Giles stated, putting on his Watcher face.

"Buffy, you have school and patrol," Riley said, terrified that she was going to leave with that vampire and never come back.

"Faith is more important than anything else right now," Buffy said angrily, "She tried to kill my mother, she stole my body, slept with my boyfriend and tried to sleep with my ex! Someone has got to stop her."

"You're not even sure that's where she went," Xander said.

"I can't believe you, of all people, aren't backing me up, Xand, after what she did to you!"

Xander felt the blush covering his face as his current girlfriend, Anya and his ex, Cordelia gave him interested looks, which he ignored. He wasn't about to tell them that story.

"Buffy, maybe-" Angel started.

"Are you going to tell me that I can't go?" Buffy said, whipping around to glare at him.

"That's not what I was going to say."

"What were you going to say then?" Buffy's eyes pierced his. She was pissed.

all she needs is therapy. all you need is love is all you need.

"You aren't the most impartial person when it comes to dealing with Faith. I think I can help her, like I tried to before," Angel said, not looking at Wesley, who was squirming on the other side of the couch when all eyes flipped over to him.

"Angel, how can you say that? After all she put us through, after everything she's done? She's beyond any help now."

"Buffy, no one's ever beyond help," Angel said, trying to melt her cold glare, "She never won and you know that. You won. Every time."

"I won?"

"When it came to us, you did," he said in almost a whisper, "You have it all. You have everything she never had - family, friends, people who love you. She never had the love you have in your life."


"So, it makes a person hard on the inside," Angel said, feeling the eyes of the room burning into him, "Makes it hard to trust anyone. It's easier to not have people than to have them hurt you."

"She tried to sleep with you," Buffy said, widening her eyes at the implications, "in my body!"

honey bring it close to my lips

"She didn't succeed," he said, "I knew it wasn't you. I would always know you."

Their eyes met and locked for long seconds. Riley shifted uncomfortably, feeling as if he was being judged for not knowing that it wasn't Buffy he slept with, even though no one was looking at him. The silence sliced through the group until Xander broke the silence, "Don't act so noble, Dead boy. It's not like you could've slept with her anyway."

Angel's eyes snapped over to Xander, "Yes, I could have."

"Not without losing your soul," Xander said in a low voice, but everyone in the room knew it was a taunt.

"That's no longer a problem," Angel said, looking at Xander with eyes that said, I can still have what you never can.

"What? When?" Buffy asked, shocked.

"Today actually."

"Okay, I'm not sure what we're talking about," Riley said, "Angel can lose his soul?"

"Buffy, how about this?" Willow interjected, much to Buffy's relief, "They can all return to LA and if Faith is there, they can call you?"

"Sounds like a solid plan, Willow," Wesley added.

"I don't like it," Buffy said, "If she's there, it'll be too late by the time I get there two hours later."

"Buffy," Angel said quietly in a nondemanding tone, "I think it's for the best."

Buffy didn't answer but he knew that she would listen to him. Riley looked at her in disbelief and then mirrored the same expression towards Angel. She was going to listen to him? Buffy never did anything she didn't want to do and yet, here she was, doing what the vampire told her. He looked around the room. No one else was surprised. That vampire had some kind of control over her and he silently swore to himself that he was going to make sure she didn't have a second to be alone with him until he left. Then she would be safe. Then he would be safe.


i gotta have my suffering so i can have my cross
my heart is sick of being, i said my heart is sick of being in chains

Outside of the flat, Angel turned to his employees, "You guys go, I'm staying."

"But Angel, you said you thought she left," Cordy reminded him.

"I know what I said, Cordy," Angel said gently, "But I have to make sure Buffy is safe before I leave. I'll just sweep the area for the rest of the night and then tomorrow night, if I haven't found her, I'll join you in LA."

"How are we going to get back, Angel?" Wesley said, not bothering to argue, "There's only one car."

"You'll drive my car and I'll find my own way home," he said. Cordy started to protest so he added, "Cordy I'm over 2 centuries old. You think I can't find a way back to LA?"

With that, she nodded curtly, irritated that he wouldn't go along and stepped into the car. With a wave, they were gone and Angel was left in Sunnydale with his thoughts.

Angel walked slowly, strolling really. He was prepared for what came at him but he wasn't trying to hide. He thought that if Faith saw him alone, she would try to kill him or sleep with him rather than run from him. He wanted to have some time to think too. Now that his soul was intact and he still couldn't have Buffy, he had new things to add to his brooding agenda.

got enough guilt to start my own religion

Even in Faith's body, her beauty had shone through. He hadn't really realized just how beautiful she really was until she wasn't in her body anymore. Any fleeting thought that he had felt so strongly about her just because she was beautiful on the outside was cast away tonight. Yes, he was still attracted to her body - no doubt about that, but even his carnal lust couldn't be obliged with Faith's soul in the body that he loved. Inside and out, she was his true mate.

Hearing something in the bushes, he jerked his head over to scan the area and made his way over to find Spike tromping through with bought blood and smokes in a paper bag.

"Angel," Spike said, tossing a hand up casually with a cigarette between his fingers, "How you doing, mate?"

"Question is, what are you doing? Since when did you buy blood instead of killing for it?"

"Since your pet's boyfriend and his little commando buddies put a chip in my bloody head," Spike said, angrily, "I can't hit or fight. They neutered me. Won't be chasing the other puppies for awhile."

Angel couldn't stop himself from laughing out loud at Spike's confession. This was great. I mean, really, really damn funny. Last time he saw Spike, he was at the angry end of hot pokers, so the justice here was just too much.

We danced in graveyards with vampires til dawn

"Shut up, ya big Poof," Spike said, turning around, walking closer, "You think it's so funny. Does that little boyfriend of hers know you're a vampire?"


"Yeah, well, I'd watch my back if I were you, mate. The Slayer's boy toy doesn't care much for our kind. They do all sorts of nasty things to demons in that chop shop."

"I'm weeping for them, really," Angel said, leaning against an oak tree.

"Yeah, whatever mate. I got some blood to drink and you're wasting my time. What are you doing here, anyway? Thought you left the bint for better times in LA."

"I did," he said, "I came back to help with a little Faith problem they're having."

"Oh yeah, the rogue Slayer. Sounds fun," Spike said, smirking "I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a little Slayer action myself. Bet she's as hot as your little Rebecca of Sunnyhell."

"You've always been a softy Spike," Angel said sarcastically.

"Tell me, vampire to vampire," Spike said, leaning in dramatically, "What's it like to shag a Slayer? I mean I've killed a couple but the shagging's gotta do it for you."

Angel had Spike by the throat and off the ground before he finished his sentence, causing his bag to drop on the ground, spilling one of the containers of his blood into the soft earth, "You ever speak of her in that context again, I'll kill you. You may be defenseless but unlike Buffy, I don't care. Understand?"

Nodding, he lowered Spike to the ground, "You don't have to get your panties in a bunch. She's hot. You know it, I know it. Just was wondering what it was like to get between The Slayer's dimpled knees. Bet she's a little different...now that she's been with two other men...that we know of."

Angel's kick left Spike flying across the path into the nearest, hard tree.

"Angelus, loosen up," Spike said, standing and casually wiping the dust from his clothes, "I realize you're mad with jealousy over some other guy taking over your mate, but take it like a man!"

"You have no idea what you're talking about Spike," Angel said, turning away, "So shut up before I take more of my aggression out on you."

"Oh, I don't, do I? I don't know what it's like to have your mate being taken right before your eyes by someone else and have to stand by and do nothing about it? I don't know what that's like?"

"Drusilla was an entirely different story, Spike. I was Angelus for one. Two, you were actually sitting. And Three, I was your Sire and hers. It was my right. Your right is do what I tell you, when I tell you. If you don't start respecting that, I'll have to take up my old ways again in maintaining your discipline."

Spike shivered at the thought of Angel and Drusilla together and wanted to cower at the thought of Angel's discipline, but he stood with his shoulders back and proud. Angelus would hurt him until he screamed and begged for mercy, but Angel wouldn't stoop to those ways.

He smiled coldly, "It's not different and you know it. You fucked Drusilla with no thought of me and Riley is fucking your mate with the same sort of disregard. He beat the other guy and has his reward. You lost your mate and I lost mine. Sort of gives me a happy, fuzzy feeling inside." Spike rubbed his hard stomach in time with his last words, enjoying the rage that was boiling up inside his Grande Sire.

"I screwed up," Angel admitted, with a anguished sigh, leaning back against his tree, "I never should have left her."

"Yeah, well you did, mate. You left behind the hottest piece of ass this side of the equator - and you know we've both been there," Spike said, picking up two containers of blood and handing one to Angel.

"I hate you, Spike," Angel said, standing to his full height and taking a long swig of the blood.

"Feeling's mutual, Peaches," Spike muttered loud enough for Angel to hear, watching him walk away. He didn't have to wait long for Angel to collapse.

Three, four steps, maybe.


or will i see you dear and wish i could come back

The next evening, Buffy was still emotionally exhausted from the body switch, Angel being there and her long, drawn out conversations with Riley about Angel. She hadn't wanted to talk about Angel, which why she never told about her relationship with the ensouled demon. But she couldn't just say that. She couldn't just admit that she was still in love with him and would always be in love with him. He walked out the door again tonight and it was as if he was leaving her all over again.

She forgot about the feelings he made her feel. She forgot about torrent of pain and anguish and love and arousal. If he asked her to, she would have walked away from Riley without so much as a glance over her shoulder. And how come he was so damn gorgeous? What was that shit about? Part of it was his total unawareness of the fact that he was beautiful - his total lack of conceit. All that came from him was love and protectiveness. Being in his arms again...

The most recent problem she was having was that she could still sense him. It was getting weaker but it was still there, as if he hadn't left again. His presence was soaking up her every brain function and trying to console Riley's jealousy and confusion was almost more than she could take. How could she convince Riley that she was with him where she wanted to be when deep down they both knew that wasn't true?

The phone rang, startling her out of her reverie and she thought about letting the answering machine get it, but at the last minute picked it up, just beating the machine.


"Buffy, it's Cordelia."

"What's wrong? Did you find Faith?" Buffy said, sitting up in her bed.

"I was going to ask you the same question," Cordelia answered.

"Angel hasn't found her yet?"

"I don't know, Angel never came home. He stayed there to help you."

tell me that he's missing

"No," Buffy said, suddenly realizing why she could still sense him, "He's not here."

"Yes, he is. He never left. He said he was going to sweep the area again last night to make sure you were safe and then he was going to come home tonight. He hasn't come home and he hasn't called. Angel always updates me on what's going on. Something's wrong."

"I gotta go," Buffy said into the phone hurriedly before hanging it up and running out the dorm room door.


so close your eyes, son. this won't hurt a bit.

Angel came back from his drugged sleep to find himself chained up in the burned out factory. Figured this is where Spike would take him if he wanted to keep a captive. He never did get over the fact that this place burned down. Guess he was sentimental about it since he and Dru had so many good times there.

Angel turned his head toward the sounds of animalistic moaning and his blurry sight focused on what turned out to be Faith and Spike. Faith's back was pressed against the charred wall, one slender, well formed leg, resting on Spike's bare shoulder as he glided in and out of her. Angel could hear Faith's hips slamming against the wall behind her, the sound of their hips slapping against each other and mismatched grunts of pleasure wafted across the room.

The air stung of sex and reminiscence as Angel stared in disbelief while his Grande Childe pounded the alternate Slayer into the wall. Spike reveled in his conquest as he moved inside her, sliding his cool chest against her bare breasts, enjoying the feel of her hard nipples scrape against him. He reached around her, pulling her ass against him, diving deeper, pounding harder as he neared his release. He positioned himself so his movements rubbed her clit, bringing her along with him, in a brutish, snarling culmination.

you were wild, where are you now, you were wild,
where are you now, give me more, give me more, give me more

"He's awake," Spike said, strolling over, shirtless with a bottle of beer in his hands. Angel looked over to find that Faith was finishing putting on her clothes. She strolled over to Angel with a smile on her bee stung lips.

"What cha thinking about, baby?" she said, taunting him.

"About how shocking it is," Angel said, leaning against the wall, trying to combat the drugs that still raged in his system, "That Spike was pussy whipped that quick. I mean, really, Spike, is this a record for you?"

Spike laughed, leaning against the burnt table behind him, "She made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Got to shag a Slayer and torture my Sire again. Really, it's a win-win situation, wouldn't you say?"

"I'd say you should get your money back," Angel said with a sneer. He barely was able to enjoy the shock on Faith's face before her boot struck him in the mouth. Angel steeled his mind for the torture to come. One way or another, if Buffy was safe, they could never break him.


Here, here now. You raised your hand for the assignment.
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet. Be a good soldier.

Buffy slammed through Giles' door, with Willow, Tara, Anya and Xander in tow, having caught them coming back from the movie she had bowed out of earlier.

"Giles!" She yelled, looking around for the Englishman who stepped into view from the kitchen.

"What's the matter, Buffy?"

"Angel's missing," She said, her words coming out in a panting rave, "He never left Sunnydale. He was looking for Faith. Cordy said he was supposed to be home by now but he's not there and he's not here. I checked the mansion and he's not there either."

"You don't think she would kill him?" Giles asked calmly.

"I don't know. I know he's still alive and I know we have to find him," she said, preparing to turn on her heel to leave again.

"Where are you going?"

"I don't know. Somewhere. Anywhere. I just know I have to find him and soon."

"Buffy," Willow asked, touching her arm, "How can you be sure he's even still alive or that it was Faith that took him?"

"I can't be sure it's Faith but it has to be," she said, flicking her hair over her shoulder with irritation.

"He might already be dead then," Xander said coldly, "I mean, she is a Slayer, Buff."

"He's not," she said, her jaw set.

"Okay," Xander said, "Of course, he's not dead. I mean he may be with a homicidal Slayer, but there is a chance he's just nappin' or something, right? Buffy, you can't go rushing off half cocked and put yourself in danger over a vampire who's probably a big pile of dust!"

"Do shut up, Xander," Giles said, irritably, "You're not helping the situation. Buffy, Xander is right, we have to form a better plan than just running out there. He may not be...okay."

Riley knocked on the door and Willow answered it, letting him in.

"Hey everyone," he said, "Buffy said she was going to be at home but she wasn't so I thought I'd check here."

He looked around at the upset faces and settled on Buffy's frazzled and panicked one, "Buffy, what's wrong?"

"We think Faith is still here," Buffy said, "And she's taken Angel."

"Buffy wants to go get herself killed to save him when we are pretty sure he's already dead," Anya stated blankly.

"You know, Slayer and all," Xander added, pulling Anya closer to his side.

"He's NOT dead," Buffy said, giving everyone an equally angry glare.

"Still not getting the argument here," Willow said, "It's not the point. We need to form a plan."

"Buffy, don't worry we'll find Faith," Riley said, trying to calm her, "And we'll do what's necessary to make sure she's dealt with, okay?"

"Look," Buffy said, not wavering from her goal, "I need to go now and find her before she kills him."

"We can split up and look for her," Willow suggested.

"You guys can look if you want, but only if you're sneaky. Don't do anything brave. Just report back here and leave the news with Giles. I'll call in periodically if I don't find her."

"Buffy, has it occurred to you that this is a trap? If Faith didn't kill him right away, then she's using him for bait for you. Either way, this must be handled with the utmost care. I think we should sit down and formulate a plan," Giles stated, trying to make her calmly and rationally address the situation.

test my tether. see if i'm still free from you.

Buffy looked around at her friends, wild-eyed, "No, we have to go now. He's hurt."

"How do you know that?" Riley asked, turning her towards him and trying to catch her eyes, seriously concerned about her stress level. She was acting like a lunatic over the disappearance over her ex, who was a vampire with super strength. You'd think she'd understand that he could hold his own.

"Because," Buffy said looking down at her hands, just to be looking away from Riley, "I can feel him."

"You can feel him?" Riley parroted.

"Yes," Buffy answered, quietly, fidgeting and anxious to leave.

"What do you mean?" Riley asked, but the whole group waited with bated breath for her answer.

and i'm calling my baby, calling my baby, calling my baby, calling...

"I can feel him. I can sense his presence when he's around," she said plainly, "He can sense me too. We've always had that bond. I know he's alive because I can feel him. I know he's here in Sunnydale for the same reason. And I've got to find him now."

She stormed out of the apartment, leaving the group open-mouthed. Even Willow was shocked and frankly, a bit hurt that her friend never divulged that interesting bit of information before this night. Riley fell in step behind Buffy as she ran from the apartment. There was no way he was letting her out of his sight while that vampire was here. It was obvious that he had some fiendish thrall over her. If Faith didn't kill the demon, he might. With the release of Angel's hold over her, she would finally be able to start her life with him.


i swear you're the fiercest calm i've been in

The holy water made a perfect arch before it splashed tiny raindrops on Angel's chest. He flinched from the pain but stared at Faith the whole time, his eyes filled with nothing but coldness.

"Drusilla loved doing that," Spike said, smiling, "The best part was the way you screamed for her. Guess you're not going to give us that yet. Still early?"

"A bit," Angel said, flipping his eyes to his Grande Childe, "I should have killed you when I had the chance, Spikey."

"What and miss all this? Wouldn't want that, would we?" Spike said, with his hands in the air.

"Oh no," Faith said, lowering herself to his lap, "I think he likes it a little more that he's letting on." Grinding her hips against him, she dipped a finger in the water and traced the line of his jaw.

"Still want me to wriggle? Or wait - I'm not as good as Buffy, right?" she asked, cocking her head to watch the water flow over his bare muscular shoulder.

"No, you're not," Angel said through gritted teeth.

"I'm glad you like the torture more anyway," Faith said, pulling a cross out her pocket, "Cause it's a lot of fun."

"Guess you're over me now that you were finally able to sleep with a vampire," Angel leered, "Do you feel as good as Buffy yet? Cause you're going to be running all your life and you still won't catch up."

"You can't hurt me, Angel," Faith lied, placing the cross on his chest, "But I can hurt you, baby."

"Let me know when you start," Angel said, letting a cold smile glide over his handsome face, "I don't want to miss a second of it."

Angel knew he was getting to her when she reared back and punched him. He only prayed they weren't able to trap Buffy.

"Don't worry," Faith said, punching him again and then standing to look for a stake. If the torture couldn't make him into the pliable demon she needed him to be then he wasn't an asset and the bastard had to die, "I won't let you miss it."

Spike pulled her away and holding her shoulders, "Calm down, love. This is his favorite trick. See, if he dies, we have no advantage over your sister Slayer. He just loves throwing himself to the wolves for his beloved, don't cha mate?"

"Spike just wants you to try and break me," Angel remarked snidely, "He never got over the control I had over Drusilla. He lost his mate over me. He wants his revenge. She might have loved him but she worshiped me."

words are very unnecessary. they can only do harm.

Spike took the bottle of holy water from Faith and threw it at Angel, watching it explode against his chest, burning him while the glass embedded in his flesh. Angel groaned loudly as the pain took him. Buffy was getting closer. She would lose his scent if he died. She would be safe then from whatever they planned.

"Thanks Spike," Angel said, "This makes me think of Dru. I mean, she just loved torture. Her creamy little body would just melt in my hands."

"Never mind, pet," Spike said, pulling the stake from her hand, "I'll kill him for you."

"Oh Spike, don't be upset," Angel said, mockingly, "She felt guilty for betraying you, even as she came...screaming my name."

"You fucking bastard!" Spike yelled, running towards his chained Grande Sire with the stake.


you know it's true i'm part of you

"Buffy," Riley said, panting as he ran behind her, "Slow down. Where are you going anyway?"

"To Angel," Buffy said, following the call he was trying to bury inside himself. He didn't want her to save him. Too damn bad.

"How do you know where he is?"

"I don't," Buffy said, "But knowing Spike, my guess is that he's there."

Stopping from her run, she pointed at the burned out factory.

"Why do you think he's there?" Riley asked, looking over the dangerous looking building warily.

"Because this is where he always ends up," she said, turning to circle the building.

Buffy crept inside with Riley close to her side. She inched in, hearing angry voices, she turned in the direction they came from. She crouched into the room, watching her footing carefully. Angel, Spike and Faith came into view, just as Spike was running across the room to stake him. Buffy stood and ran towards him.

Faith stopped Spike's attack before Buffy could get there. She shouldn't have gone in, because the bait worked and Buffy was there. Riley stepped in, looming large and on guard behind her.

"Oh damn," Faith said, looking at the approaching Slayer, "I wouldn't have stopped him if I knew you were already here."

"Sorry you had to wait," Buffy said, inching closer in the room, "Angel isn't a part of this, Faith, just let him go. This is between me and you."

"I beg to differ, ducks," Spike commented, flashing a smile at Buffy.

"I knew I should have killed you, Spike," Buffy hissed.

"Popular opinion. Well, too late for that," He said, taking a swig from his beer.

"Don't be so sure," Buffy said, "You can't fight and Faith is outmatched."

"Outmatched?" Faith yelled, "You stupid bitch! You really think that you and your boy toy can take me?"

"Put you in a coma once," Buffy said, inching even closer to Angel, "Not sure you'll make it through the fight this time."

"Buffy," Angel groaned, "Get out of here."

"Angel," Buffy said, looking directly at him for the first time and gasping at his wounds.

"Your precious Angel has just been chatting with us, B. No big, right?"

"Right," Buffy said with a cold smile, "No big. You're still trying to take a bite out of my life. When are you gonna get your own?"

"Angel isn't your life anymore," she said, "besides, he tastes so good."

"You'll never know," Buffy said, stepping closer.

"Oh, I got a sneak preview while I was in your body," Faith said, smoothing her hands over herself, "he touched me all over and I had a little piece of your boy there, too. Damn, B. I mean, I still can't figure out why you would give up Angel for him."

"None of your business," shivering at the thought of what happened between Angel and Faith before he realized it wasn't her.

"Oh, that's right," Faith said, grinning, "He left you. You begged him to stay."

Riley straighten at Faith's words. This was worse than he thought. She begged him to stay?

"I won't beg you to stay," Buffy said, stepping close enough to kick the smile off Faith's face. Facing off, The Slayers entered round two of the fight that started 8 months ago over Angel and was about to end over him. Spike looked over at Riley who started towards him. Spike turned to run but Riley snatched the stake from his hand and punched him in the mouth. Spike braced himself to be staked but stood in open mouthed surprise as Riley turned with his newly acquired stake to Angel's tortured form.

Spike couldn't decide whether he was hugely pissed that the commando boy turned his back on him as if he wasn't the slightest threat or if he was excited that Angel was about to be staked. This couldn't be better, Spike mused. Riley would kill Angel. Buffy would kill Faith. Buffy would break it off with Riley for killing Angel and he would move into Buffy's life. Smooth-like. He leaned back, cradling his beer, looking from Riley and Angel to Faith and Buffy.

It took Angel a moment in his haze of pain to realize that Riley meant to kill him, not set him free.

"What the hell are you doing?" Angel said, struggling to his feet.

"You have some kind of evil control over her," Riley said, "You're keeping her from loving me."

"You think killing me is going to get you her love? Think again, boy. You're only hurting yourself. You'll be setting me free," Angel said, his face full of calm. Buffy was beating the shit out of Faith and Spike couldn't hurt her. She was safe. That was all that mattered.

these precious things - let them bleed, let them wash away
these precious things -let them break the hold on me

"I don't believe you," Riley said, closing the distance between them, "You're a vampire."

Buffy watched with a smile as Faith's head cracked against the broken floor. Slamming her head into the floor again, Faith fell unconscious. Buffy stood and turned to see another stake threatening Angel. This time by Riley.

she'd do anything to save her man

She screamed, "NO!" and ran to them, seeing that Riley wasn't going to stop until Angel was ashes at his feet. Throwing herself against him, Riley managed to miss his heart by three inches, the wood thrusting inside, paving a gaping hole in his chest.

Buffy ran over to Spike and demanded the key to the manacles, which he produced without comment. Buffy ran over to set Angel free, pulling the stake from his chest and slipping it in her pocket. Spike slipped away, unnoticed as she pulled Angel from his bondage. Tossing his arm over her shoulder, she helped him walk from the factory. She walked passed Riley's dubious stare.

"Buffy!" Riley yelled behind her, "What are you doing? He's a vampire. He's controlling you with that vampire thrall or something. Can't you see that?"

"No, Riley. God!" Buffy yelled, "You don't get it. He's not controlling me. He's a part of me. Inside. He has pieces of me you'll never have."


rolling and unrolling coiling emerging running free
running through your underworld into your room

Buffy took Angel into the dorms, pulling his shirt over his wounds and edging past the stares of her colleagues as she helped the man in obvious need of medical attention into her room. She laid him on the bed and pulled out the first aid kit as she called the police, informing them of Faith's location. She treated Angel's wounds as she called Giles and updated him on the situation.

She finished bandaging up Angel's wounds and she ran her hand over his face, "I'm sorry Angel."

"Why should you be sorry?"

"For Riley and Spike. Two factors that could have been avoided if I had better judgement."

"There's nothing to be sorry for. I'm sorry."

"Why do you get to be sorry?"

"For complicating your life again," he said, leaning into her touch.

"I like you complicating my life. I thought I made that clear before. As you can see, the men I choose to have in my life never measure up to you. They always just let me down."

"I let you down," he said, trying to sit up and groaning in pain, "and I should go."

"No," she said, pushing him back down, "You're going to stay until you're better. Besides, Cordy has your car. You can't leave."

"I'll find a way. No big deal," he said, wincing from pain.

"No," she said, "I'm not letting you leave," she whispered, thinking "again" in her mind silently, her eyes filling with tears. He pulled her into his arms, ignoring the pain.

"I'll stay, if you sleep here in my arms with me," Angel said, running his hands over her trembling back.

"You're hurt. It'll hurt you," she said, feeling him shift with pain.

"Don't care," he said, turning onto his side and pulling her tightly against his chest, "I know I'm confusing things here but I just want to hold you."

"I want to be held," she whispered.


words like violence break the silence, come crashing in, into my little world. painful to me. pierce right through me. can't you understand, oh my little girl? all I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms. all I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms.

Willow snuck in quietly, tip toeing past Buffy & Angel's sleeping forms. They looked peaceful and happy. She smiled at the glow coming off of them. Everyone was wrong about them, she decided. She never saw Buffy so happy as when she was with him. That's all that mattered, really.

In the very early morning, the phone rang out in the small dorm room, causing Buffy to jerk in her sleep and reach for the phone. Willow sat up in bed, sleepily, slightly alarmed.

"'Lo?" Buffy said, sleepily into the phone.

"Have you found him?" Cordy snapped. She was angry and worried after staying up all night to make sure he was alive and safe.

"Yeah," Buffy said through her yawn, "I found him. Faith & Spike drugged him and tortured him. I got him out. Faith's a little jailbird now."

"Why didn't you call me?"

"We feel asleep. Angel has a lot of wounds and after I treated them, we just went to sleep."

"Oh, so you figured that you could get all groiny and fall asleep while I was back here waiting, thinking he was a big pile of dust!" Cordy yelled, fuming that she could be so ignored.

"Don't be silly, Cordy. Of course we didn't get groiny," Buffy said, smiling and rolling her eyes at Willow, who smiled a knowing smile back.

"Oh, riiiight. His soul is all bound and you're in bed together and you expect me to believe that you haven't slept with each other yet? Okay, whatever."

"Cordy, how do you guys know for sure his soul is bound?" Buffy said, sitting up on the bed, trapped against Angel by his steel grip on her waist, staring into Willow's eyes.

"Well, he felt a pain like he was losing his soul, only he didn't so he went to The Oracles and they told him that his soul was permanent now. It's the first phase of Shanshu."

"Shan who?"

"Yeah, um. I think that's something Angel will have to explain to you," Cordy said, feeling uneasy about letting the cat out of the bag, since obviously Angel hadn't told her for a reason.

"Okay," Buffy answered.

"Have him call me."


Buffy sat there staring off in shock. After a few minutes, Willow said, "Buffy? His soul is bound? I mean, for real?"

She nodded, looking down at his peaceful, sleeping form, "But it's just part of something else he hasn't told me."

"Well, I'm sure there really wasn't time. Besides you're with Riley now. I mean, you are, aren't you?"

"Not after last night, I'm not," Buffy said angrily.


"Riley tried to kill Angel last night, while he was chained to a wall, tortured and defenseless."

"What? Why?"

"He said he thought that I was under Angel's vamp control or something."

"I'm sure he really thought you were in danger."

"Yeah, I was in danger of leaving him for someone I actually love, who's going to get his ass kicked when he wakes up," she said, smoothing a hand over his brow.

Willow sat up and started getting dressed.

"Where are you going?"

"I have to get to the library early today," Willow said, hurrying to leave them alone.





suede, you always felt like suede

Buffy watched Willow's retreating form with a little smile and then looked down at Angel with worry. What hadn't he told her? She wasn't sure if she should be angry or hurt. The way he held onto her, tightly, making sure she was flesh against him, let her know that it wasn't because he didn't want her. Damn him and his Do the best thing for Buffy attitude. The hell with the sunshine and picnics. She didn't want that. She wanted him.

And she was going to get him.

She slipped the sheet off him with a mischievous grin on her face and rolled him over onto his back gently. She paused when he mumbled in his sleep, still holding on to her tightly. She looked over his bandaged body, large black and blue bruises showing from under the dressings. Her hands shook as she peeked under one of the bandages to check his wound. They were healing fast but still looking very nasty.

She lowered her gaze to his belly button, then the button of his pants. Before she thought about it, she was unbuttoning and unzipping and pulling out his cock. Her eyes widened as she looked at him and caressed him, watching him grow erect in her small hands. She had forgotten how large he was and thought back to the time they had made love. She felt warm and aroused, remembering how he touched her.

Lowering her head, she licked the tip and looked up at him quickly as he moaned in his sleep. Encouraged, she took him into her mouth, sucking lightly as she cupped his balls in her hand. She increased the pressure and the speed, loving the feel of his cold hardness inside her mouth.

Angel felt her mouth around him and was almost afraid to open his eyes, afraid that it would be a dream. Wouldn't be the first time. But she sucked him in harder and deeper, making him groan with pleasure. His eyes snapped open and he settled his gaze on his love, her blonde hair cascading around her face as she took him in and out of her mouth. He sucked in unneeded air abruptly and released it again, breathing her name.

my vine twists around your need. even the rain is sharp like today as you sh-sh-shock me sane.

She looked up at him, not pausing in her movements but increasing in pressure and speed, her tiny hand squeezing the base of his cock as she tried to take more of him in. She moaned as she moved up and swirled her tongue around the tip of his cock once more.

"Buffy," he groaned between gritted teeth, "I want to be inside you." He reached down to pull her to him but she swatted his hand away.

"Wait your turn lover," she whispered, her hot breath teasing over the sensitive tip, "Hands up on the headboard."

Her order was obeyed and he gripped the wooden headboard with white knuckled tension as she laved long, slow licks on the underside of him before taking him in her mouth once more. She continued to look at him, watching his reaction to her actions. She moved more slowly, sucking him harder in long, wet strokes. She watched with pleasure as he trembled under touch, his arms shaking from his tight grip on the headboard. He arched off the bed, feeling pain from his movement shoot through his body as simultaneous pleasure ate away at the pain. He groaned her name as he came into her hot mouth, splintering the headboard between his fingers as he felt his release.

Buffy smiled in satisfaction but had little time to gloat before Angel sat up in bed, ignoring what pain he felt. He pulled her up to his lips, delving passionately into her mouth, tasting himself there. Breaking the kiss, he violently ripped her shirt and bra from her body, diving down to take her breasts in his mouth and hands. She moaned with pleasure as his fingers and tongue caressed her nipples. He flipped her on her back, kneeling over her tiny frame. He ripped her jeans and panties away, destroying them as he attacked her clit with his teeth and tongue. She cried out as he nibbled away at her clit, pushing two fingers into her dripping wetness.

There would time for tenderness later. This was about possession.
This was about the years they had missed. This was about now.

"Tell me that you're mine," he said, growling against her as he sucked her clit harder and harder into his mouth, twisting his long fingers inside of her.

"I'm yours, Angel," Buffy said, moving her hips against his fingers, trembling violently as she neared her climax, "Always."

He scraped his blunt teeth against her clit and sucked her in again, feeling her buck and scream his name in pleasure underneath him. He lapped the honey that poured from her core, feeling her against his ever moving fingers, arching to find her pressure points inside. He continued until she collapsed against the bed, shaking violently beneath him.

so maybe we're a bliss of a different kind

He didn't wait for her to calm before claiming her lips again and entering her slippery heat. God, she was perfect, hugging his hard cock, her muscles tensing and squeezing around him as he moved inside her. He thought he was going to collapse from the pleasure before it even started. It had been so long. It been millions of dreams ago when he first filled her this way.

Buffy wrapped her legs around him, pulling him inside her deeper, tighter. She was lost to other men now. She had forgotten how perfectly he filled her, stretched her, made her want to die from the overwhelming pleasure of it.

"You're mine," Buffy growled, biting into his neck, nearly drawing blood with the fierceness of her bite, "Tell me you belong to me."

"I'm yours, Buffy," he croaked, rolling in waves of pleasure inside her, under the pressure of her teeth, "Always."

She moved away from his neck, digging her nails into his back, bucking against him as he slammed inside her. Mutual claiming, violent possession intertwined with desperate calls of love as they tried to invade each other's bodies. Normal, human bodies would have buckled and broken under the pressure of the coupling but the strength of their bodies was resilient to the force. Buffy rolled her head to the side, showing him her mark, baring her scar.

hey you, gender nectar crystalline from the vine, you know you'll drink her.

He ignored the offer, slipping a hand between them to massage her swollen nub. She came against him almost immediately, "Drink Angel," she panted as she came around him.

His eyes flashed golden but he pushed the demon aside as he continued to move with her. She batted her lush, lust filled eyes at him, "I want it," she said, rolling her head to the side once more in earnest giving, "Please."

He roared as he gave in, sinking his teeth into her delicate neck, remarking his mark. Her blood was potent, sweet and overpowering as it poured into his mouth. He swirled her nectar around his tongue like brandy, relishing in the taste of her, the sheer power of her. Swallowing her life's essence, he released his dead seed inside of her vibrant body.

dripping with blood and with time and with your advice. poison me against the moon.
i escape your escape into our very favorite fearscape.

Floating in the aftermath of their love and exertion, they were both shaking with the intensity of their lovemaking as he fell against her, licking her wound and then resting his head on her heaving chest. He moved up and rolled her on top of him, loving the feel of her weight blanketing him. Buffy laid with her head on Angel's chest, listening to his heart not beating. She smiled at into his cold skin. How could any one person be such a honey on the outside and equally as beautiful on the inside.

don't make me scratch on your door. i never left you.

"You're not going to leave me," Buffy said after a long winded silence. It wasn't a question and he didn't answer it.

"You deserve normal," he whispered, kissing her hair.

"I deserve love - the real thing. I deserve to be with someone I trust. I deserve to have someone around that understands the life I have been chosen to live. I deserve you," she said, raising herself to look in his eyes, "And I mean to have you."

"I love you, Buffy. I just think that -"

"Shut up, Angel," she said, her voice angry but her body languid against his, "Don't you want me to be happy?"

"I don't think you know what will make you happy. You have your whole life ahead of you."

"I think I deserve the right to make that decision on my own. Quit treating me like a child! I'm an adult. I want my life to be with you, goddamn it. And you didn't answer my question. Do you want me to be happy?"

"Yes," he answered, gripping her very tightly for someone so ready to let go.

"Then stay with me and fight for US for a change. Prove that you love me as much as you say you do. Stay with me and fight for my love."

you say you don't want it again and again but you don't really mean it

Her statements were met with heavy silence. He didn't know how to object. He wasn't sure what his reasons were anymore for being without her. He wasn't sure when there was a time he agreed with his arguments - not for a long time. He knew he was being selfish but he needed her. And he wasn't sure he wanted to live for eternity knowing that he had talked himself out of the one thing he needed in his life.

"Fight for me, Angel," she whispered again, holding his face between her hands and forcing him to meet her gaze, "Make me believe that you love me."

"I do love you, Buffy. I swear," he said. His thoughts weren't coherent. He didn't want to believe that she ever had a doubt that he loved her more than anything else...ever.

"I don't believe you," she said, but didn't move from her position, laying prone against his body, "If you loved me, you could never leave me. If you loved me you would stay and actually love me."

"I love you, Buffy. I've never loved anyone but you."

"Then prove it," she said, her voice strident, coming out in almost a sneer.

"I will," he said, his growl shaking her body.

"You'll stay?"


"Besides," she said, pecking gently at his lips, "You belong to me remember?"

"How could I forget?"

"I don't know, but I'm glad you finally got it through your thick skull."

She shivered with relief. It was almost as if that small involuntary reaction was the release of the worry and hurt she had been holding on to for more days that she could remember.

"Cold?" he asked.

"No. Just happy."


"If you start asking me if I'm sure if this is what I want to do or if I want a chance to back out, then forget it. I'll stake your undead ass before I listen to that again."


"I'm not kidding. I love you. I'm where I want to be with the person I want to be with."

"I'm not a person."


"I was going to say, before I was repeatedly interrupted," he said smiling and kissing the end of her nose, "That I love you."

"Oh," she said, twisting to kiss his waiting lips, "I love you too."

Buffy felt Angel's arousal grow against her as their simple kiss turned into something much deeper. She moved up, straddled his hips and ripped the bandages off his now healed body with a smile and tossed them away before she guided him inside her again. She smiled as pushed against his now healed chest.

unseen this eternal wanting

"I love you," he whispered, claiming her narrow hips. He watched her move above him, entranced by her beauty and the passion that painted over her features.

"I love you," she echoed, her head thrown back, golden cascades of silky hair falling down her back as she concentrated on the feel of him.

she's your cocaine, your exodus laughing and she knows what you are

This wasn't the banal demanding that occurred the first time. This was worship in leisurely strokes taking them beyond what had claimed them before. They became - adoration reshaping and evolving around them as they moved in the magic of their mate.

Lost in each other, they missed the light tapping on the door. Nearing their simultaneous climax, both of their enhanced senses missed the doorknob turning and the door gently falling ajar. Coming into each other in worship, finding release greater than forces that kept them apart, they panted against each other.

i could just pretend that you love me. the night would lose all sense of fear.

Riley stood in the open door as his girlfriend and the demon he had attempted to kill the night before cried out nonsensical phrases of true love to each other. They arched into each other and Angel sat up in the bed, shifting inside her and pulling her hard against him as they moved closer and closer to exploding together.

Neither saw Riley standing at the door, mouth dropped open in surprise, as Buffy offered her neck for him, turning her head slightly to the side, stretching the delicate, scarred, recently rebroken skin for him to taste. He paused, his eyes flashing yellow as he moved inside her and, sucking gently on the wound there. He thought twice, three times about her generous offer, plagued by the thought of feeding off of her again and deliciously tempted by the power that waited for his taking.

"Buffy," Riley moaned, her name coming out like the cry of a wounded animal. He stared at her and Angel, her perched on his lap, her bare breasts pressed against his pale chest, his arms around her, holding her tightly to him.

As she hovered closer and closer to the breaking point, she viciously pounded against him, crying out in ecstasy as she gripped his hard muscled shoulders, kneading into him.

"Angel," she moaned, burrowing her face in his neck, tightening around him as she moved with him, "Please."

give me love, give me pain, give me myself again, give me love, give me pain,
give me myself again, give me love, give me pain, give me myself again,
give me love, give me pain, give me myself again

"No, love," he whispered at her skin, his cool lips against the sheen of sweat covering her forehead. She bit into his neck, almost breaking the skin with her blunt teeth, leaving impressions there. His face changed immediately with her vampiric act and he growled, his body rumbling against her.

"Angel," she whispered urgently, turning her neck again. He bit in, finding his release immediately as did she from the second her blood touched his tongue, raging against his taste buds, swimming down his throat, healing his body and cleansing his soul.

"Buffy!" Riley screamed as Angel sank his fangs into her throat. Up until that point, he had stood there in complete awe of seeing his girlfriend, who he was sure was the love of his life, making love to a vampire. He stood there in disbelief as she reacted to his movements with a thousand times the passion she had previously reacted to him. He couldn't move as she begged him to break open her skin and drink from her veins. He screamed when the vampire did what she asked.

The pair, completely oblivious to his presence until his scream, could not stop the immense pleasure that rolled over them. Angel, his brain connecting with the desperate yell of his lover's boyfriend, pulled away from her neck sooner than he would have under any other circumstance and stared into the cold blue eyes of his lover's boyfriend, as he resumed his human guise. She convulsed against him and he held her to him, riding out the waves of climax.

"Oh my God," Riley said, making his way toward the lovers, "What the hell are you doing? Are you crazy? He's a demon! He could kill you!"

"Riley..." Buffy looked over her petite bare shoulder, her hair flipping as she turned to look at him.

Riley made his way to her and grabbed her arm, attempting to pull her away from him. He was crazed after a night of no sleep, a lot of whiskey and painful thoughts of her and what would become of them.

yes, my loyalty's turned

As Riley, pulled on Buffy's arm, she recoiled from him. Angel's demon reared it's ugly head and his ridged face produced a threatening growl, as he clutched her hips tightly against him, still nestled inside her, hardening again with possession of his mate. Buffy bit her lower lip to keep the moan from escaping as Angel gripped her harder, pushing deeper inside of her.

"I'll break every fucking bone in your body if you don't get your hands off of her right now," Angel said, every syllable it's own separate growl.

Riley retracted, stepping back several steps, unable to believe what he was seeing. Buffy was holding on to the demon desperately as he growled like a wild beast.

she's addicted

Angel reached down with one hand and picked up his shirt. He handed it to her, silently asking her put it on and hide her nakedness from a man who had seen it before this day. Buffy understood, however, and slipped it over her head. She carefully stood, making sure Angel's lap stayed covered, but he stood up as she rose, unashamed of his nakedness and slipped on his pants.

Riley stood there, unable to move from his spot, unable to understand what was happening. Surely she was under his control. How could she not be? And how could he walk away from her when she so clearly needed him to save her from the demon that was controlling her?

"Get the hell out of here, boy," Angel grunted, "She's no longer your concern."

"She's still my girlfriend and I'm telling you to get the hell out of my town and out of her life."

"You're lucky I haven't killed you for what you tried to do to me last night," he said, waving a hand over his now healed, muscular chest.

"You look like you healed pretty quickly. Guess you didn't have to go far to find a snack," Riley's words crossing the room abrasively.

"It's...it's not like that Riley," Buffy said, shaking her head.

"A vampire is a vampire, Buffy. He probably left while you were sleeping and picked some helpless kid off the street before he helped himself your throat."

"He's not evil, Riley," she whispered, "I explained that already."

Angel wrapped his arm around Buffy's shoulder, pulling her close and as her hair shifted from his movements, Riley saw the red marks in her neck and shivered at the sight - the reality sinking in a little deeper.

you gave him your blood

"Oh God," Riley said, stepping closer and brushing her hair away to see the tiny holes inside the scar.

Buffy just looked at him, getting angry, "I don't remember asking you to help me last night or today. All you've done is try to destroy Angel."

"Why shouldn't I? Look what he's doing to you!"

"Riley, I think we should talk in private for a moment, since the testosterone poisoning in this room is getting thicker," she said, nodding towards the door.

i'm still the angel to a girl who hates to sin

Angel kept his firm grip on her shoulders as she tried to move away from him, terrified, even though he knew that she wouldn't leave him, he knew that she could and was still frightened that maybe she would. She turned to look into his human face, "I'll be right back."

Angel looked at the floor as she walked out in the hall with Riley wearing nothing but his oversized black shirt cascading over her. He was glad he didn't need to breathe. He was pretty sure he couldn't if he tried.


and he waits till she can give and he waits and he waits

Angel waited until they went outside and he leaned against the door, feeling no shame in eavesdropping on their conversation. He couldn't just stand there and wonder if she was going to leave him. He pressed his ear against the hardwood of the door, as if his vampiric hearing needed him to do even that.

"Riley," Buffy said, standing in hallway, suddenly feeling very naked.

"Buffy," Riley said, "I know you're angry with me but I'm trying to help you. I love you and he will ruin your life."

"Riley, he is my life. He always was."

"Buffy, he's a vampire. A demon. Undead. We're talking about a creature of the night here. You can't possibly want to spend your life with that?"

"You don't understand," Buffy said, "I don't expect you too. Angel is just another freaky part of my freaky life. He's the only part that makes sense to me. I never wanted to be without him. He left me and now that he's back, I can't lose him again."

"Are you listening to yourself? He already left you once. Do you really think that he'll always be there for you?"


"How can you trust that?" Riley's sweet blue eyes, pleaded behind his honest face. The love that radiated from him was a force that could have been reckoned with, if the person on the opposing side of his gaze wasn't Buffy.

"I love him, Riley. I want to spend the rest of my life - however short it might be - with him," She said, being sincere, giving Riley what he needed - brutal honesty - even if that wasn't what he wanted. He was willing to live a lie as long as that lie kept him by her side.

all the world just stops now. so you say you don't want to stay
to-together anymore. help me take a big breath, babe.

"You can't mean that you'd rather be with him? Buffy, please. Give us a chance. I love you. I can give you everything, if you'd just let me."

"I'm sorry," she whispered, feeling the tears welling in her eyes. She didn't want to hurt Riley. She really didn't but she couldn't leave Angel. Not now. Not ever.

how his knees could bend

"Please don't do this, Buffy. I can make you happy. I know I can." His eyes were misting, blurring with emotions that he couldn't control. He knew when he looked in the mirror, he would no longer recognize the person reflected there.

All the world is dangling, dangling, dangling for you, darling.
You don't know the power that you have

"I'm sorry," she repeated, feeling redundance was the only hope she had here.

"Dammit, Buffy! You can't do this!"

She stared at him. Thinking she couldn't possibly say sorry again.

"Snap out of it! Don't you see what he's doing? How he's controlling you?"

"Riley," she sighed, feeling tired of this conversation, feeling defeated, even as she defeated him, "He isn't controlling me. I'm not under his thrall. I'm in love with him. Do you understand that?"



"No, I think that there are only a couple of options here. You're under his control or you've been deceiving me all this time...or you're stupid. Or," he said, nearing her face to emphasize his point, "you're a sorry excuse for a Slayer who just gets off on fucking the demons that are supposed to be her enemies."

I can be cruel, I don't know why

"That's really harsh," she said, not knowing how to defend herself, "And you know none of that's true."

"I can't believe I've wasted all this time on you," he shouted, his words breaking as he spoke them.

"Does it make you feel better to make me the bad guy? Fine. If that's how you want to leave this, then say what you have to say and go."

"I'm sorry, Buffy," he receded, declining into the whirlwind of emotions and intoxicants that controlled his mind, "You have to stay with me."

i don't believe you're leaving

She stared at him again, feeling strange that she was so tongue tied.

"You're going to stay with me," he said, his voice becoming more incoherent as he spoke, "I won't let you leave me for him."

"You don't have a choice."

"Oh yes, I do," he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her closer to him, as if he could somehow overpower The Slayer.

"Let me go, Riley," she said, holding back her impulse to free herself by force.

"No," he said, "Not until you tell me you're not leaving me for a vampire! A damn vampire!"

"Let me go, Riley," she said, tensing for a fight that she really didn't want to have.

"No," he repeated and started to pull her away from her room, having fell long past delirium.

Angel stood listening at the door. Buffy could take care of herself but if she had to tell him to let her go again, he was going out there. As the words left her lips, his hand was already on the doorknob. He checked his ability for logic and reason at the door as he rushed out, laying eyes on Riley's hand, keeping it's firm grip on Buffy's forearm.

Three large, angry steps later, Angel had pulled the boy off and away from her, hurtling him against the wall. Smashing his fist into Riley's face, he allowed the realization and pain to sink into the boy. He ducked for the third punch and heard Angel's fist sink into the plaster wall. He swung an uppercut to Angel's ribs and followed with a punch that was easily blocked by the undead.

Angel tossed Riley against the opposing wall as a crowd began to form in the hallway. Not one of the three apexes of the love triangle noticed the others.

"You think you can just walk in here and take her away from me?" Riley said, standing unsteadily and wiping the blood away from his lip with the back of his hand.

"You can walk away now," Angel said, trying to maintain his calm, if only for Buffy's sake, 'It'll be safer for you if you do."

"I can walk away? The hell with you! You can walk away," Riley said, stampeding towards him again and managing to land a punch before Angel threw him over his hip and swallowed a cold smile as he heard the boy's body crunch against the hallway floor. Angel stepped back and allowed Riley to stand up again, hoping he would give up at some point before he had to kill him.

flowers competing for the sun

"She's made her choice," Angel said, standing with his hands at his sides, but keeping his guard.

"She's confused," Riley said, "You can't really believe that you're the one she's supposed to be with. You can't give her a fraction of the things that I can. You're not even a goddamn person!"

"Doesn't matter what you think, boy," Angel said, brushing his doubts of his relationship aside, "She wants to be with me. Don't you know when you're not wanted?"

Buffy watched with tensed limbs, not knowing how to go about stopping the fight. She screamed at them to stop, but if they heard her, they didn't acknowledge her voice. She watched, waiting for her moment to jump in, if necessary.

Riley rushed him again, enraged and defeated, but beyond believing that he could walk away from this fight while he could still stand. Throwing wild, unbalanced punches, he fought for his dignity and his love and was tossed aside, crunching against Buffy's door, leaving the wood behind him splintered.

"I'm not leaving her here with you to be hurt," Riley shouted, anger coursing in his veins.

"You will," Angel said, watching the young soldier stagger towards him again, gathering every ounce of his patience, "She's mine. She belongs to me."

and I found out where my edge is and it bleeds into where you resist
and my only way out is to go so far in billowing out to somewhere

As Riley neared Angel, he searched in his pockets for a weapon. Seeing his actions, Angel spun, kicking him hard in the face and sent him flying against the wall. This time he didn't get up.

Buffy ran past Angel to where Riley lay and Angel felt a twinge of panic and remorse. What if she really did love him, he thought as she knelt at his side. What if she changed her mind? He didn't move to help or hinder her as she checked Riley for signs of the living. She looked so small and delicate, her tiny body draped in his shirt, but he knew too well the strength that surged through her. He waited for her to turn back to him.

He had to wait a long time. He felt the stares of her hall mates on his naked back. No one spoke or whispered as she woke Riley.

"Riley," she whispered.

"Buffy," he moaned, sitting up slowly and shaking his head.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

"Please," he said, the one word filling pages and pages of pleading.

"I never meant to hurt you but I'm in love with Angel."

"No," he said, still denying the truth as she stood and walked back to her lover. He enveloped her in his arms and her tears stung his bare chest, keeping an eye on Riley who was struggling to stand.

"I'm sorry, baby," he whispered, kissing her hair and pulling her in tighter.

"I love you," she whispered back as he guided her back to her room, pulled open the broken door and slipped inside, leaving Riley in the hallway with the onlookers.

these tears I've cried, I've cried 1000 oceans and if it seems
I'm floating in the darkness well, I can't believe that I would keep you from flying
and I would cry 1000 more if that's what it takes to sail you home

The End!