The Deal, part 7
When Angelus, Wesley and Connor made it to the drop point, dawn was breaking over the horizon. Los Angeles, the city that never sleeps, was eerily quiet. The abandoned office building downtown where they met Rack and the Gorch brothers reeked of sweat and smoke and filth. The three men, who were just the current in a long line of drug dealers for his son, were people he wouldn’t have asked for directions, let alone something he was planning to inject into his body.
“Where’s Buffy?” Angelus asked abruptly, breaking the silence.
“She’s alive,” Rack said. “Where’s the money?”
Tector Gorch let out a scream as the bullet crushed his kneecap and he fell to the ground howling. Wesley kept his gun out, pointing to the next brother’s knee.
“I repeat,” Angelus said coolly. “Where’s Buffy?”
“Money first,” Rack answered. He hadn’t even flinched when Wesley shot his toadie.
“There’s plenty of flesh and plenty of bullets to go around. Until I know she’s alive, you aren’t getting shit,” Angelus answered.
“Lyle, get the girl,” Rack said, jerking his head behind him. Angelus looked to Wesley who stepped forward to follow. Angelus and Rack glared at each other and Connor stood to the side, beginning to shake from withdrawal.
“Looks like your boy needs a pick me up,” Rack said, his lips curling into a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “We can deal after this little bit of business is taken care of.”
“You give my son one more gram of poison to inject into his body and I’ll kill you with my bare hands,” Angelus answered, his voice trembling with rage.
“I’ve got her, Angel,” Wesley called out from somewhere in the back of room where it was too dark to see. “Finish this.”
“I want to see her,” Angelus answered.
“She’s alive,” Wesley called back.
“Now Wesley!” Angelus shouted, but the dread was already filling him. There was only one reason Wesley wouldn’t want him to see her. There was something very wrong.
A few minutes later Wesley appeared. His jacket was wrapped around her, but Angelus could see the blood streaked into her knotted blonde tresses. Her face was covered in dried blood and dirt with trails marking where her tears had fallen. Wesley moved off to the side, trying to keep her from his view as much as possible, but Angelus had seen enough. He dropped the suitcase he was holding and attacked.
Wesley’s eyes widened and he scrambled to put Buffy down. Holding his jacket closed around her body with one hand, he drew his gun with the other. Angelus was fighting Rack and beating him so viciously, that he was a blur of flying punches and kicks. Lyle ran forward to help and found himself lying on the floor next to his brother with a bullet in his knee.
A few moments later, Rack was lying on the dirty carpet, his cold eyes sightless and his neck at an odd angle. Only Buffy, who was unconscious, missed the sickening sound of the drug dealer’s neck snapping. Angelus stood up and turned away from his victim. The suitcase of money and Connor were gone, but Angelus didn’t notice. He went over to Buffy, carefully bundling her into his arms. He stood up and walked to the door, pausing to face Wesley.
“Clean up this mess,” Angelus ordered and didn’t flinch as Wesley’s gunshots filled the building again.
Buffy woke up and winced at the bright lights over head. It took a few minutes for her eyes to focus on the hospital room. Her entire body throbbed and her head felt like it was splitting open. A hand touched hers and she turned, expecting to find Angelus there, but it was Wesley. Seconds later, a nurse flew into the room, but she was already falling into that whirling darkness again.
“Everything is all right, Miss Summers. You’re safe,” Wesley said, but his voice had a strange, tinny sound to it and then the world was spinning away.
When Buffy woke up again, Wesley was gone and she wondered if she had dreamed it. Willow and Xander were sitting next to her bed, anxiously hovering.
“She’s waking up,” she heard Willow whisper.
“I’ll get a nurse,” Xander said, running from the room, apparently forgetting that there was a little red button that called the nurse’s station. A portly woman came bustling into the room, shooing out Willow and Xander and it was almost a half hour before they were allowed back into the room.
They came back in, looking nervous and scared. They stood over her and looked down, glancing at each other and back at her.
“Hey,” Willow said, her voice very carefully casual.
“Hey,” Buffy whispered back, her voice rough from not speaking. “How long have I been out?”
“Three days,” Xander said, kneeling next to her bed.
“Three days?” she said, startled and trying to sit up.
“Don’t move, Buffy,” Willow said, placing a hand on her shoulder. Buffy stilled and suddenly the events of that horrible night came rushing back to her. She reached up and touched her face, feeling a line of stitches over her mouth in an ugly slant. A sob erupted from her chest and her friends clung to her. Neither knew what to say.
She spent another few days in the hospital, but Angelus never came. The damage to her body was mostly superficial. The ropes that had bound her wrists and ankles had cut into her flesh, but the doctor fully expected those to heal without permanent damage. Her face, however, was a different story. Thirteen stitches crossed her mouth and she was sure to have a scar there for life, a horrible reminder of that night forever. Her abdomen had been sliced open in several places and she had another thirty-five stitches holding her stomach and chest together.
Even with all of her wounds, she was thankful they hadn’t raped her. Not that she thought that they wouldn’t have. She knew that the Gorch brothers had just been waiting their turn. She was unconscious through the end of her torture, but Willow assured her that they had done a rape kit and that she hadn’t been touched. If nothing else, she could be grateful about that.
The police had interviewed her thoroughly, but she couldn’t tell them very much. She knew their names and faces, but after she passed out, she didn’t remember anything else. She knew Angelus had come for her, but hadn’t seen it. The detectives had been very carefully avoiding telling her anything and she had a sneaking suspicion that they had already found her attackers.
Wesley came back later that same afternoon and asked Willow and Xander to step outside while he spoke to Buffy alone. They were apprehensive, but left, giving Buffy looks that seemed to mean they would be right outside if she needed the cavalry.
“Miss Summers,” Wesley said, sitting in the newly vacated chair beside her bed, “I’m very sorry that you were injured. We never could have foreseen that anything like this would happen.”
“Where’s Angelus?” she asked quietly.
“He is on a trip taking care of his son,” Wesley said, shifting his eyes away when he said it. Buffy didn’t need to be an expert in body language to know that he was lying. “All of your belongings have been returned to your home. We have deposited the remainder of the two hundred thousand dollars to your account. You are free of your verbal contract. You have our deepest apologies for the horror you went through.”
“The..the men who…” Buffy asked, her words tapering off as her eyes filled with tears.
“I cannot tell you anything other than they will not harm you again,” Wesley answered, looking her directly in the eyes this time. For a man who was always kind to her, his eyes held a certain coldness that was unexpected. She shivered.
“Are they dead?” she whispered.
“They will never bother you again,” he said, his voice low, firm and chilling. She closed her eyes to keep the flood of tears from escaping and heard Wesley rise from his chair and quietly exit the room.
Angelus had taken care of his son. It had taken him, Wesley and a team of private investigators to find him in a hotel in East L.A. drugged out of his gourd. A dark haired girl who couldn’t have been more than nineteen was dead on the bathroom floor with a syringe in her arm and Connor, lost in a haze of heroin, hadn’t even known she was out of the room. Almost all of the million dollars was still there in the case, waiting to be spent.
It had been a problem for years that you can’t force a person to go into rehab. Jail, yes, but rehab, no. Angelus had tried everything to coerce his son to admit himself. He promised him the sun, moon and stars if he would only take the needle from his arm. After what had happened to Buffy, after he had her bloody body in his arms, after he had murdered a drug dealer in cold blood and ordered the murders of two more, he was in no mood to play by the rules.
With a little research and enough money, Angelus found a doctor who was more than willing to take on his son’s case. Somewhere in a private facility with a medical doctor on call twenty-four hours a day and a team of nurses, Connor was locked in a little room, going through his own private hell of withdrawal.
Even with all that effort, Angelus was realist. He knew that after Connor got out, he might go right back to where he had been, shoving the nearest needle in his arm, but he had to do something. How do you force your only child to stop killing himself? He would have gladly sold his soul to save his son, but even the devil has limits.
After he had taken care of Connor, Angelus went through his days in a daze. He waited for daily reports of the welfare of both Buffy and his son, but nothing could salvage the damage that had been done. He loved both of them and like everything he had ever touched, they were shattered by it.
Two weeks after Buffy’s release from the hospital, he came home late from the office, having buried himself in whatever projects he could to avoid remembering how much he hated himself, and found her curled up in his bed fast asleep. Her bottles of medicine and a glass of water sat on his bedside table. He stopped just inside his bedroom door and stared at her. His heart crumbled in his chest.
He approached her slowly, as if he was afraid she would disappear if he came in too quickly, but she didn’t even stir in her sleep. He sat down on the edge of the bed next to her and smoothed her hair away from her face. She was scarred and it was his fault. He had been nothing but cold and vindictive to her, so why was she here like his bedroom was some sort of safe haven? She knew better than anyone else that it was not.
He wanted to wake her and talk to her, then possibly kick her out of the mansion, but he knew that her pain medication probably had her out for the night. There was nothing he could do to make this better except what he had already done, which was snuff out those who hurt her and remove himself from the picture.
He picked up the phone and dialed his security team, ordering that they double the mansion’s coverage for the night. Then he set down the phone and walked around the bed. He slipped off his shoes and then crawled in fully dressed. He inched toward her and lay down beside her, getting as close as he could without touching her. The thought that he couldn’t even hold her without hurting her more added to his guilt and grief.
Buffy woke up in the early morning and started to stretch, but stopped when pain streaked through her abdomen. Suddenly remembering where she was, she turned her head and found Angelus curled up behind her, his face close to hers on the pillow. She turned her body in bed gingerly and faced him.
The slight movement was enough to wake him and his eyes blinked open to meet her sleepy gaze. He frowned, a deep look of regret filling those chocolate brown eyes.
“Buffy, I-“ he started, but she pressed a finger to his lips.
“I want the truth,” she said quietly. He nodded without speaking. “What was this whole thing about?”
“My son, Connor,” he started, but she shook her head.
“I got that much from Rack,” she said. The name “Rack” spit out her mouth like a curse. “I understand that part. I mean the part about you and me.”
He stared at her, at a total loss for words. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“You picked me out of every other woman. You tried to control me. You tried to force me to hate you and it pretty much worked.” He lowered his head slightly in shame, but kept her gaze. She didn’t look away either. “I think you’re in love with me, *Angel*,” she said, using the name she had heard others use for him. “But you’re so completely broken that you can’t just admit that you care. I think the thought of loving someone is like a curse to you.”
“I’ve destroyed everyone I’ve ever cared about,” he said, his voice filled with pain.
“And so you decided to just do it on purpose this time?” she asked, her words biting.
“I had to have you,” he said, his voice firm and defensive. “You wouldn’t give me the time of day. You hated me. I did what I had to do to be with you.”
“Is it so beyond you just to be nice?” she asked in disbelief. “You could have won me in another way.”
“You were with Finn,” he said with a snarl. “How was I supposed to compete with the farm boy?”
“You could have started by not beating him up,” she offered. “You could have thought about the fact that love isn’t something you buy. You don’t tip the waiter when you’re done.”
“Shut up,” she commanded. He snapped his mouth shut and watched her warily; unsure of exactly what was going to happen next.
“Do you love me?” she asked. It was not a question, but a demand.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Then tell me,” she said angrily.
“I love you.”
“Did you kill those men?” she asked after a moment.
“Yes,” he said baldly. He wasn’t sorry about it and his voice did nothing to his lack of remorse. He may not have killed the Gorch brothers, but Wesley would not have killed them without his order. He would have left them there to bleed to death, but not deliberately killed them. The blame was on Angelus’ head. “My only regret is that I couldn’t kill them more than once for what they did to you,” he growled.
She took a deep breath. Instinctively knowing the truth and hearing it out loud were two different things. She rolled over and looked at the ceiling, digesting that bit of news.
“I’m not sorry, I killed them,” he said, “but I am sorry for what happened to you. I’m so sorry, Buffy.”
“You didn’t come to the hospital,” she whispered, her eyes filling with tears. “You just left me there by myself.”
“I sent Wesley-“
“What the hell is your problem?” she demanded, struggling to get out of bed without hurting herself further. “You sent *Wesley*?” she cried out, tears falling down her cheeks. “Was I fucking Wesley? *You* should have been there. You should have been sitting by my bed, holding my hand, not ordering Wesley to put money in my bank account and then brooding off on your own.” He was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at her, with a helpless look on his face.
“They tied me up and cut my clothes off,” she whispered, the horror of it all filling every inch of her like some demon rising out of the dark. “He cut me up and he did it slowly. He *liked* it and when I screamed, it excited him. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything to save myself and I waited for you to come for me. I waited like some helpless damsel in distress for you to come and save me, but you know when I really needed you? I need you when I woke up in the hospital. I needed you when I looked in the mirror for the first time and saw my face!” She gestured at the bandages above and below her mouth.
He stood and walked to her, holding her shoulders. “I’m sorry, Buffy,” he said. “I know this is all my fault.”
“You should have been there!” she shouted, hitting him on the chest with her fists. “Damn you, Angelus!” She pummeled him as hard as she could in the chest until she was sobbing. “Damn you,” she sobbed, allowing herself to be cradled in his arms.
When she found herself again, he was sitting on the bed with her in his lap. She shuddered and pulled away. He let her go. She curled up by the pillows and stared at him.
“I hate you,” she whispered, horrified by her own words.
“I know,” he answered dully, his own face streaked with tears. He stared at his hands as if he could still see blood on them. He would be haunted forever with that vision of her in Wesley’s arms covered with blood, haunted by the knowledge that every bit of pain and fear she went through was entirely his fault.
“And I love you,” she whispered, just as horrified.
His head snapped up and he met her eyes. He crawled slowly to the pillows where she laid and wrapped himself around her, clinging to whatever sickness they shared.
One year later…
“You’re late,” Buffy said, lounging in the bed she shared with Angel. She wore a black leather corset, laced up tightly so that her breasts nearly spilled over the top of it. Thigh high stockings, spiked heels and a pair of barely there black panties completed the outfit.
He took one look at her and gulped, his body temperature racing to an all time high.
“My meeting ran over,” he said dropping to his knees. He knew the drill.
I don’t want excuses, I want obedience,” she said, rising to her feet and idly stroking the flogger in her hands. “Perfect obedience.”
“Yes, Mistress,” he said obediently.
“Good,” she crooned, caressing his face. “Very good. Now tell me how sorry you are for being late.”
He looked up at her and a slow grin spread across his features. “Not very sorry at all, Mistress,” he said.
“You will be,” she said, putting one spiked heeled foot on his thigh and pressing down. “Now strip, slave,” she demanded.
Two hours later, Angel was manacled to the bed, his arms wide, a wicked looking spiked collar around his neck and his body decorated with angry red welts. Buffy lay under him rolling in afterglow, wearing the same outfit minus the panties. Angel was panting from his exertion and looked down at her.
“You gonna let me out of these?” he asked, moving his arms slightly to indicate his bondage.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she sighed. “I kinda like you hanging there like some big, sexy decoration.”
“Buffy,” he growled and she giggled, moving to set him free.
“I think you like being mistress more than I like being master,” he said.
“You’re the one that taught me the benefits of being in control,” she said, releasing one of his hands. He immediately caressed her like he had been longing to ever since he saw her in that corset. When she released his other hand, he pulled her into his arms, kissing her with every ounce of his being, pouring his heart into her. He reached around and began unlacing the corset, freeing her from its tight constraints. When she was freed, he kissed along her abdomen, stopping at each of her slashing scars to lave them with kisses.
“Is Connor coming in town this weekend?” she asked, running her fingers through his spiked hair as he took off her uncomfortable heels and tossed them over his shoulder.
“Next,” he said, his voice muffled against her thigh as he removed the stocking. Connor had moved to New Jersey six months ago and was partly through his first semester at Princeton. “He wants me to buy him a house,” Angel said, crawling back into her arms.
“Angel, you are not buying him a house,” she said breathily as he kissed along her neck.
“If he’s in college and off drugs, he can have whatever he wants,” Angel said, worshipping her body with his.
“But you just bought him that sports car,” she said, pushing him back to look at her. “He’s already gotten two speeding tickets.”
“My love, when it comes to Connor, speeding tickets are a gift compared to what he could be doing.” He moved back to her breasts, taking an erect nipple between his teeth.
“Well, you’re not spoiling the next one like that,” she said. He stilled and moved his mouth away from her breasts, raising his head to look at her.
“The…next one?” he asked.
She smiled at him innocently. “I went to the doctor today,” she said. “This is the last little bondage session we’ll be having for about nine months, Daddy.”
“Buffy,” he groaned, pulling her into his arms.
“Aren’t cha glad you married me now?” she teased, wrapping her legs around him.
“I love you, Buffy,” he said, rolling them so that she was on top, anxious about putting any of his weight on their child. He stilled, framing her face with his hands as a thought hit him. “Did I hurt you before when we were role playing?” he asked, caressing her face. “You should have told me,” he said. “I could have done something-“
“Angel,” she said, kissing him to silence his flood of words. “I’m fine. We’re fine.”
“Finally,” he said, pulling her closer.
“Yeah,” she answered happily. “Finally.”