“I’m not kidding, Angel. Be Careful! These guys I saw in my vision are going to stake first and dustbust later,” Cordelia yelled at her employer’s retreating form.
Cordelia had a vision, she told Angel about it but was fairly sure he actually heard “Sunnydale . . .danger” and left. Why did she even bother? He’d come back in a royally shitty mood and she’d be the one stuck looking at Buffy-face for the next month and a half. Mentally kicking herself, she realized should have just kept it to herself.
According to the Powers That Be, Buffy wasn’t even the one that was in danger, Spike was. And these commando guys already did their damage to him. Spike just needed to be located and brought back before they found him again. Not exactly imperative, surely he could learn to hide. And what did the Powers That Be care about Angel’s Billy Idol impersonating childe anyway? Cordelia grabbed a handful of pain killers and laid down on the couch.
Buffy was tired, more than tired, exhausted. Clearly lacking enthusiasm, she followed Riley through the hall of UC Sunnydale. After a seemingly endless bout of hand to hand combat she’d managed to subdue some big ugly Walsh had a hard on for. It wouldn’t have been so bad if she could have just killed it. Would have been quicker. And more humane. But Walsh was hell bent on capturing the demon alive, so Buffy and Riley had done as commanded. She was thoroughly disgusted by the behavior modification experiments the Initiative performed, convinced they were nothing more than socially sanctioned and government funded torture.
Poor Spike – oh gods did she really just think that? Spike had been in awful shape when he turned up on Giles’ doorstep. Of course, he was back to his usual charming self now. No, he was even worse because now he couldn’t be evil and instead he was being a total pain in the ass.
Walsh wasn’t much better. The woman was more of a raging bitch than usual. After her latest candidate for her top secret 314 project washed out last month she had been on a terror. The government had cut her ocean of funding to a trickle and closed the Initiative facilities. Most of her troops were gone as well, reassigned to more successful projects. That left Riley, Graham, Forrest and unofficially Buffy to carry out Walsh’s tasks. All of which revolved around capturing demons for her 314 project.
Walsh was still very tight lipped with the details, but with only four assistants she had to be more forthcoming. From what Buffy gathered, it was some sort of Frankenstein’s monster. Walsh needed some super demon body she could graft other things onto, computer parts, extra limbs. Yuck. Problem was she needed a demon that was not only powerful and hearty, but one that had half a brain as well.
Not a real easy to find combo. Nature tended to balance these things out. Intensely stupid demon breeds tended to be very strong, the brainiacs had life spans of weeks, etc etc.
Walsh didn’t seem to be figuring this out real fast. Of course, she didn’t seem to be real into the yin and yang. Balancing power wasn’t at the top of her list. This is why Buffy had spent all night fighting a nasty Gorthak demon. It was strong, but if you asked Buffy not terribly bright. Walsh would declare it a loss and terminate it within the week.
“Oh Agent Finn, you’re just in time,” Walsh said as Buffy and Riley entered her Psychology Department office.
“Ma’am?” Riley asked.
“Our newest candidate is ready for transport. Agents Miller and Gates already loaded it into the van. I need you to accompany me to the airfield,” Walsh explained.
“Ma’am, we just brought in that Gorthak demon. It’s in a holding cell in Lowell house,” Riley said, confused.
“The Gorthak is no longer of any need. We already have a subject for the project. He performed phenomenally on all of our diagnostic and threshold test. We are ready to proceed to the next level,” Walsh said excitedly.
“You mean we spent all night *subduing* that damn demon and you already have a candidate!” Buffy barked grouchily.
Walsh regarded the slayer with irritation. “Yes, Miss Summers, we already have a candidate. Agents Miller and Gates trapped him a week ago. Now if you two will accompany me we can be off.”
Buffy and Riley followed professor Walsh towards the windowless van parked outside.
“So what’s so great about this big ugly?” Buffy asked flippantly.
“What is so great, Miss Summers, is that he has totally thrown the curve on all of our tests. His strength, stamina, mental facility are all off the charts,” Walsh said, not bothering to look at Buffy.
“Oh. So you couldn’t break him,” Buffy said sarcastically.
Walsh stopped walking and turned to face Buffy.
“No, I couldn’t break him,” she said very pointedly. “And believe me I tried.”
Walsh walked towards the van again and continued speaking, “I hadn’t given any serious thought to using a vampire for our study. However, in light of his amazing performance, I don’t believe we have a choice. It is possible that with gene therapy and treatment we can eliminate the sun sensitivity issue.”
“You’re using a vamp?” Buffy asked, shocked. “I thought you just rounded them up and stuck chips in their heads.”
“As I said,” Walsh clarified, “I hadn’t thought of using a vampire, but we don’t have a choice. Our timetable has been completely thrown off. Our funding is virtually non existent. If we don’t come up with something soon the project will be scrapped entirely. This subject is the only viable candidate.”
Buffy just followed the rest of the way in silence. She was supposed to kill vamps, not cut them up for spare parts. She cringed at the thought of what Walsh had put the creature through. Her stress and endurance tests were unbelievably brutal. Pushing a creature to its absolute breaking point. Apparently it was an older vamp which was odd for Sunnydale. They mostly had fledglings or the occasional disco era blood sucker. Vamps didn’t make it to retirement with the slayer around or the Initiative.
Walsh had honed breaking a fledgling into a precise science. Denial of food, application of pain, introduction of perception altering drugs, all of it would render fledglings whimpering masses in a matter of hours. What about older vamps? Buffy didn’t know. Spike managed to escape before they broke him. Although the chip in his head and involuntary electronic conscience proved more damaging than their torture could have been.
They reached the van. Walsh got in first, winding between the two front seats to check on her candidate in the back. Riley slid behind the wheel and Buffy took shotgun. Buffy could hear the vamp growling. It sounded super pissed, why hadn’t Walsh sedated it?
“Agent Finn please drive carefully, I don’t want to exacerbate the subject’s agitated state. He isn’t responding to the sedative,” Walsh instructed.
Out of curiosity, Buffy twisted around to look at the restrained vamp in the back of the van.
“Riley,” she said very quietly, “stop the van.”
Riley’s brow furrowed as he looked at her, but he didn’t stop.
“Now, Riley!” Buffy yelled.
Shocked, Riley pulled the van over to the side of the road.
“Miss Summers, you are not in command-“ Walsh started.
“Fuck you!,” Buffy screamed. “You are *not* taking him anywhere!”
Walsh moved to say something more and Buffy punched her in the face, knocking her unconscious. Grabbing the pistol from Riley’s hip holster, she jumped between the seats and into the back, crouching over the angry vampire.
“Buffy?” Riley ventured quietly to the obviously mental slayer.
Buffy sobbed loudly, then tried to regain her composure. “Drive to Giles’ apartment!”
“Buffy, honey, I don’t know what this is about. You need to calm down. Give me the gun,” Riley said in a very soothing tone, holding out his hand for the pistol.
Buffy looked at his proffered hand and leveled the gun at Riley’s head. “If you don’t drive us there *now* I swear to gods I will kill Walsh. If I’m feeling particularly generous, you’ll get off with a severe, permanent limp.”
There was no hint of weakness, humor or sarcasm in her voice. Riley drove the van to Giles’ house.
Riley walked, carrying Professor Walsh’s unconscious body. Buffy followed a fair distance behind. She kept the gun trained on him, but was struggling to help the disoriented vampire twice her size, without getting him fried in the early morning sun.
Waking gradually, Professor Walsh looked around. The first thing she noticed was she was tried to a chair, and so was Agent Finn. The next thing the professor noticed was the agitated male vampire lying on a couch on his side. His body was turned towards them, game face to the fore, eyes golden and growling loudly. Walsh jumped, gasping audibly.
The vampire wasn’t restrained. He was probably still a bit weakened from the battery of tests performed but he had recuperated quickly. She had underestimated the subject’s power. He was naked from the waist up. The deep gashes and burns that covered most of his body only a day ago were indiscernible on the large expanse of pale, unmarred chest. She had *seriously* underestimated him. She looked at Riley.
“What’s going on?” she asked her subordinate.
“I’m not sure. Buffy had a meltdown of some kind when she saw the HST. She grabbed my sidearm and ordered me to drive us here. She just finished restraining us. She’s outside talking to Mr. Giles,” he said quietly.
“And the subject?” she asked nervously.
“Don’t know. She laid him down on that couch and he hasn’t moved yet. I don’t know if he can. He hasn’t taken his eyes off of us and he’s been growling the whole time.”
Angel was pissed. The blonde bitch spent the last week putting him through “threshold tests”. They were nothing more than torture. How much torture could he take before she broke him? She had no idea who she was up against. He had invented half the shit she did to him. Amateur. He hadn’t broken, which isn’t to say it hadn’t hurt. Payback’s a bitch.
And then there was the boy. Angel didn’t remember him from any of his little make-the-vamp-scream sessions. Apparently the kid didn’t know anything about him, other than that he was a vampire. Of course the game face and growl would have tipped his hand on that. But the boy smelled like Buffy and right now that was more than enough reason to kill him.
Buffy and Giles came back into the apartment. Walking to the living room phone, Giles began dialing. Buffy glared at Walsh and walked around the chairs to the couch.
“Miss Summers!” Walsh said, her voice cracking with fear. “Do not be an idiot. That creature is dangerous!”
Regarding Walsh like a stupid child, Buffy sat down on the couch. She rolled Angel onto his back and cradled his head in her lap. His eyes closed and the growling abruptly stopped as his face morphed back into his normal human features. He nuzzled contently against her thigh.
Horror stricken, Riley and Walsh stared on as Buffy carefully caressed the creature’s face, murmuring quietly to him the whole time. This went on for quite some time. Eventually a low rumbling sound became audible.
“Is it purring?” Walsh asked in shock.
Buffy slowly lifted her head to glare at the professor.
“I didn’t kn- how is that possible?” Walsh asked. “None of the other subjects ever did that.”
“Vampires purr when they’re happy and when they feel safe. I doubt your hospitality encouraged any of them to feel that way,” Buffy bit out, dropping her gaze to Angel’s face.
“And is he?” Walsh asked in disbelief.
“What?” Buffy said, looking at Walsh again.
“Safe. You are the slayer after all.”
“Yes, he’s safe,” Buffy said gently tracing the lines of Angel’s peaceful face.
Finished with his conversation with Cordelia, Giles walked into the room and studied the slayer and vampire.
“Safe from everything apparently,” Giles said. “According to Cordelia his soul is bound.”
Riley and Walsh both gave him a confused look. Angel abruptly stopped purring and opened his eyes to look up at Buffy, a very sheepish expression on his face. The slayer looked pissed. She thumped him on the forehead.
“We will talk about this later,” she promised in a deadly tone.
The door was suddenly thrown open and Xander came walking in.
“Don’t you people ever knock?” Giles admonished.
Xander just smiled at him. “Hey G man, what goin’ o . . . .holy shit.”
Mouth agape, Xander stared at Buffy and Angel, then at the bound forms of Riley and Professor Walsh.
“Apparently I missed something big,” Xander offered.
Buffy regarded him solemnly, resuming running her fingers through Angel’s hair. Xander walked past the couch and took a seat in a nearby recliner. Figuring Buffy would stake him if she wanted, Angel began purring again.
“Care to tell me why Dead Boy’s head is in your crotch?” Xander asked.
“He’s hurt and I’m taking care of him,” Buffy said quietly.
“He doesn’t look hurt,” Xander noted warily. “You sure he’d not playing vamp possum?”
“Walsh ran a bunch of ‘tests’ on him, way worse than Spike got,” Buffy explained.
“Wow, and she’s only tied to a chair. You’re off your game, missy. Faith didn’t even use electrodes and you put her in a coma,” Xander said trying to lighten the mood.
“You know this thing too?” Walsh asked Xander in disbelief, able to hold her tongue no longer.
“Angel?” Xander asked. “Sure I know him, he and Buffy go way back.”
Riley and Walsh looked like a pair of guppies, their mouths agape.
“You are friends with a vampire!” Riley gasped in horror.
“VampireS,” Xander clarified. “Spike follows her around all the time too.”
“Xander, could we stop with the sharing for a while,” Buffy said caustically.
“Uh, sure, no problem.”
From her lap, Angel’s purring ceased. Buffy’s back went rigid. This wasn’t exactly how she’d wanted him to find out she and Spike were buddies.
“Buffy,” Giles said slowly taking a seat in a wing chair on the opposite side of the couch from Xander, “we can’t keep Professor Walsh and Riley here indefinitely. We have to release them.”
Buffy stuck her bottom lip out, but didn’t respond.
“Buffy,” Giles said again, in an irritated tone.
“Okaaaay. I’ll let them go. I hadn’t really planned on keeping them anyway. I just wanted to make sure Angel was alright,” she said reluctantly.
“And if he wasn’t?” Giles asked.
“I was gonna kill her,” Buffy said defiantly staring at Walsh.
“Buffy!” Giles admonished.
“I’m *not* going to. I’m just saying that if he’d really been hurt it would have been an issue,” Buffy said.
Giles sighed, irritated, and rose to untie Professor Walsh and Riley. As soon as their bonds were released, they left quickly and without comment.
“And don’t come back!” shouted Xander.
As Buffy was finishing her research for the night, Riley sat down across from her at the long library table. She eyed him warily, not having seen him since the morning in Giles’ living room several weeks earlier. He didn’t look mad, she had suspected he would be angry.
“So, how is your . . .friend?” Riley asked after a long pause.
“Fine,” Buffy answered tersely.
“He’s not here is he?” Riley asked, looking around.
“No,” Buffy replied, “he’s out patrolling so I can work on a term paper.”
“Oh,” Riley said, rather hurt. Buffy had always discouraged him from even patrolling *with* her. She would never have let him patrol *for* her.
Tentatively, Riley laid his hand on top of Buffy’s. She flinched, pulling her hand away as if he had burned her. The action confirmed Riley’s suspicions that he and Buffy were firmly of the past.
“So, he’s sticking around Sunnydale?” Riley asked when Buffy didn’t offer any information.
“Yeah, we’re looking for a place right now,” Buffy explained. “When we find something he’ll move back from L.A. permanently.”
In stunned silence, Riley stared at the slayer. It had been hard enough to accept his once girlfriend being sociable with a walking corpse, but sharing a house with one . . .was she insane?
“Buffy, do you really think that’s a good idea? I mean I know you seem to be friends or warriors on the same side or something, but he’s a *vampire*,” Riley fumed.
“I know he’s a *vampire*, Riley. He’s also my lover,” Buffy explained none too gently.
“Lover!” he screeched loudly in the quiet of the huge library.
“Yes,” Buffy replied with absolute calm.
“You let that . . that . . .thing touch you? What’s wrong with you? Have lost your fucking mind? That’s disgusting! He’s a corpse!” Riley said in an outraged whisper.
“I love him,” Buffy said, grabbing her bag and heading for the exit.
Riley could do nothing but stare at her back.
Slayer stealth was definitely handy. She’d managed to sneak up on the unsuspecting vampire, startling him into game face. Unfortunately, he was now working on an adrenalin rush and much stronger than she’d anticipated.
Buffy winced slightly as the back of her head hit the cold brick wall of the Sunny Rest cemetery, but she didn’t miss a beat. Reaching a tiny hot hand down, she guided Angel’s hard cock into her wet pussy. He thrust harshly, burying himself to the root.
Once they were joined, he stilled against her, resting his head in the crook of her neck. Inhaling her scent deeply, he began to slowly thrust in and out of her liquid heat. Buffy moaned uncontrollably, digging her nails into the soft leather of his coat.
Buffy loved this, it was so completely sordid. Lifting her skirt, Angel had simply ripped off her panties, unbuttoned his pants and rammed into her without a word. Anyone could walk by and see them, although given the fact that it was after midnight and they were in the middle of a cemetery no one probably would.
As Angel began to thrust faster, Buffy moaned, “Please.”
Not slowing his pace, Angel slipped one of his capable hands from her thigh and used it to roughly stroke her clit. Buffy moaned louder, tightening her legs around his waist. Angel’s fingers on her clit were just as relentless as his cock in her tight heat. She held onto his shoulders for dear life. He had never been like this with her before. He was usually so tender, so cautious. Not tonight.
Screaming his name, Buffy came hard around his rigid flesh. Angel continued pounding into her receptive body. Face still buried in her neck, he simply turned his head and bit deeply into her flesh. Nursing roughly at the puncture wounds, his roar of completion was muffled considerably.
Angel eventually stopped nursing and just licked the wounds, panting hard. Buffy was in shock. When she’d recovered sufficiently to form a complete thought she turned her head to look at him. He had the decency to not meet her gaze, trying to look chagrinned. Buffy could tell he was very pleased with himself.
“All better now?” she asked sarcastically.
“Much,” he answered honestly with a small smile.
“Care to tell me what just happened here?” she asked.
“Um, Buffy, love, it’s a bit late for the birds and the bees talk,” Angel said trying to maintain his sheepish expression and failing miserably.
Buffy smacked him hard on the arm and levered her body off of his. Once she was standing on her own, she straightened her clothes while he did the same. She glared at him until he finally met her gaze.
“I’m sorry,” he said finally, not looking very remorseful.
“What’s going on with you?” she asked, frustrated.
“I saw you in the library earlier with Riley,” Angel finally admitted.
Buffy just stared at her lover.
“And what?” she raged. “You got jealous and decided you needed to mark your territory or something?”
“Yes,” Angel confirmed quietly, dropping his gaze.
“I am not a piece of meat!” Buffy yelled.
Angel looked at her, hurt.
“Yes I know that,” he said. “But unless I’m really not remembering correctly, it seemed like you were enjoying it quite a bit.”
Buffy blushed. And then laughed. Gods she loved him and as much as she hated to admit it, she was incredibly turned on when he got all possessive. She shot a him a seductive look.
“I’ll make it up to you,” he purred.
“I know you will,” she said in return. “But first you have to catch me.”
With that, Buffy was sprinting across the graveyard, her lover in close pursuit.
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