Fashion Victim

By Maquis Leader

 

 

Rated R

Author's note: Set somewhere mid season 2 BtVS before Surprise.

 

 

"The night shift sucks."

 

Taking a sip from her tepid coffee, Danielle Robeson turned her desk lamp up another notch. It was spooky down in the basement with boxes stacked up and creepy stuff sitting on tables waiting to be cataloged.

 

As the newest employee, she was stuck with the crappy job and the crappy shift. She already regretted accepting the museum's offer and moving from LA. The money and benefits had been too good to pass up, and she had been lost in the crowd of PhDs with little chance of advancement at the Museum of Natural History. Now, however, she wondered if she'd made the biggest mistake of her life.

 

Since coming to Sunnydale, Danielle wondered if she'd have been better off staying in LA. There was no nightlife in this strange little town. A couple of bars that looked like they were right out of a Wes Craven movie, another place that was a teenagers' hangout, and one dumpy old movie theater that showed strange foreign films. Not strange as in the usual exotic newcomer to the movie scene making an exciting film in a totally new direction. Strange as in filmed by people locked in mental institutions for chopping people up with an axe.

 

And the mall? She smirked. There was better shopping in Riverside for God's sake.

 

Sighing, she opened a box and took out a small stone tablet. It wasn't like she was home nights anyway. After the first few days, they'd stuck her on the night shift doing inventory. "Just as well."

 

Sunnydale seemingly had some weird 'nobody out after dark' rule. When she had suggested a backyard party at her apartment complex, her neighbors had looked at her as if she'd grown another head. Her fellow employees were out of the door and on their way home before the sun set. "It's like living in freaking Mayberry – rolling up the sidewalks after dark."

 

"It's experience, Danielle, and experience is good." After six months, she'd add it to her resume and start shopping herself around again. "Wonder if that Monster.com place is still in business?"

 

"Let's see now…" She pulled up the museum's database. "We need to add you to the inventory because God knows we need more ancient freaking market talleys."

 

A spider dropped onto the keyboard, and she jumped up with a shriek. "Get away!" Brushing it away with a piece of paper, she shuddered and shrieked again.

 

The spider bounced and skipped across the desk, coming to rest against an ebony box with an ivory inlay. Quickly the spider righted itself and slipped into the crack between the lid and the top of the box.

 

"Oh, no! Out – out!" Danielle flipped the catch on the box. "That's all I need, some icky bug jumping out at me!"

 

Inside the box was a onyx amulet, lying in a bed of black velvet. The spider moved across the velvet as she swiped at it with the paper again. "Crap!" Tossing the paper down, she flicked at it with her fingers.

 

The spider jumped onto the amulet just as her fingertips touched it. There was a sharp zap and her body began to shake. "C – c – c – crap – " Ruby light exploded behind her eyes.

 

 

 

 

"Did you hear the latest?"

 

"What?"

 

"They found another one! All wrapped up in something webby."

 

Buffy had been trying to focus on her work. Why some verbs needed to be conjugated, she wasn't sure. Didn't they have verb conjugating counselors for verbs with issues? She'd decided it was some French thing and therefore fell into the unshaved armpits and stinky cigarettes category, when Aura's comment caught her attention.

 

"Was it like a big kind of web?" Buffy asked.

 

"Eww!" Harmony wrinkled her nose. "Freaky much?"

 

Aura rolled her eyes at Buffy. "Who cares? You are so strange."

 

"You're the ones talking about dead bodies." Buffy closed her French book with a snap as the bell rang. She got up and sailed smugly out the classroom door before they could put together a comeback. Parlez volare that.

 

Giles was frowning at the newspaper spread out on one of the library tables.

 

"You know, your face is going to freeze like that." Buffy grinned as her Watcher jumped.

 

"Buffy!" He frowned at her. "One of these days you'll frighten me into a heart attack."

 

"What's up?" She dropped her books onto the table.

 

"There's been a rash of strange murders – although in Sunnydale one wonders what qualifies as strange." He tapped a finger on the article he'd been reading. "The victims were all wrapped in a cocoon made of a silk type of threading, and they were drained of blood."

 

"Ugh." She grimaced. "So do we have a vamp with a weird M.O.?"

 

"I don't believe so." Scanning the article, Giles found the description of the bodies. "The victims were dried husks, resembling an ancient mummy. DNA testing will be necessary to identify them."

 

"So… an Egyptian vamp?" Buffy nodded. "They were into the whole mummy thing. Oh… so were the Incas. An Inca vamp?"

 

"I don't believe that it is a vampire, Buffy." Folding the paper up, he sat down. "I think this is something else entirely."

 

"So let's call the Something Else Entirely Slayer." Plopping down into the chair across from him, she crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm the vampire Slayer – I'm tired of doing everyone else's dirty work."

 

"I agree with you completely." Smiling, he reached out and patted her shoulder. "It's unfair to ask you to handle all the evil in Sunnydale."

 

"It's not like I can't handle it – " She looked up as the library doors opened.

 

Willow rushed in, followed by Xander at his own leisurely pace. "There's weirdness afoot!"

 

"Afoot?" Xander questioned. "Is that actually a word?"

 

"The mummified dead bodies?" Giles held up the paper. "And yes, Xander, afoot is an actual word."

 

"Mummies?" Sitting at the table, Xander shook his head. "No more mummies. Mummies bad."

 

"They were wrapped up in cocoons." Willow took the paper from Giles. "Sounds more like a bug thing."

 

"No bugs!" Xander shook his head again, more vigorously this time, until his dark hair fell into his eyes. "No more bugs! Bugs – also bad!"

 

"It does sound insect like." Giles agreed. "There are a number of demons who drain their victims in such a manner."

 

"Okay, I'll keep an eye out for a big bug on patrol tonight." Buffy shrugged. "At least until the bug slayer shows up. I'll take a can of Raid."

 

"And again I say no bugs." Xander told them.

 

"The paper says that all of the victims appear to be young men." Willow chewed her lip as she read through the report once again. "The police think that two of them are young men who were reported missing a week ago. Both are students."

 

"Jeff Burton and Philip Hilt?" Buffy asked. Sadly, missing students were all too common at Sunnydale High.

"There's no names, but yeah." She refolded the paper and laid it on the table. "Rumor has it that both of them left the Bronze with a pretty girl."

 

"Sounds like I patrol the Bronze tonight." Buffy pointed across the table. "We'll take Xander as bait – "

 

"No – oh no!" He picked up a thick book and opened it. "No more using Xander as bait boy. I've moved on to research boy."

 

"Xander – " Buffy protested.

 

"Nope, not happening." He flipped through the book. "See me? See me being research boy?"

 

"Come on, Xander." Willow pleaded. "We don't have any other guys to use. Well, except for Giles and he's, you know, old."

 

"Thank you for sparing my ego, Willow." Giles said dryly. "However, you are correct; there isn't another young man we can use as bait. Not one who knows that Buffy is the Slayer."

 

Getting up, Buffy picked up her books from the table. "Um… maybe we do."

 

 

 

 

Angel had already laid his book aside and was standing by the door when Buffy knocked. He'd felt the familiar zipping tingle along his spine before she'd gotten to the door.

 

"Angel." She smiled up at him as he opened the door for her.

 

It was silly, this habit they had of always greeting each other by name. Angel smiled slightly and motioned for her to come inside. "Buffy." And he loved it.

 

I'd love it more if she was screaming my name. Preferably in pain. And ecstasy. Pain and ecstasy? Ecstasy after the pain?  Angelus sighed. Too many choices.

 

Angelus had taken his cue to spoil the moment. "Is there something wrong?" It wasn't unusual for Buffy to drop by his apartment; it was unusual for her to drop by at three in the afternoon, however. "Are you okay?"

 

"I'm fine." She stepped closer and looped her arms around his neck. "Kiss me."

 

Never one to pass up a chance to kiss her, Angel slid his arms around Buffy's waist and pulled her snugly against his body. The soft lips parted under his, and he licked at the warmth of her mouth.

 

Get a little tit, will you? Angelus prompted. She's got firm little titties.

 

Ignoring the demon, Angel snuggled her closer, sucking at her tongue when she dueled past his own and into his mouth. He couldn't hold back the purr that rumbled up as Buffy tried to warm his mouth with her tongue.

 

"Okay – okay – " Reluctantly pulling away for air, Buffy laid her cheek on his chest. "Air – need – good – "

 

Air is overrated. Angelus huffed. And I didn't get any tit.

 

Kissing the top of her head, Angel rubbed his hands up and down her back. "Not that I mind – but it's a bit early for kissing."

 

"I wasn't even sure you'd be awake." She stepped back and went over to the small loveseat.

 

"I've been up for a few hours." He sat down beside her, and Buffy immediately snuggled into the curve of his body. "You don't get to be my age by lying in bed all day."

 

Not without someone to play with anyway. The demon yawned. Ask Buffy if she wants to play.

 

"There's this buggy demony thing that's killing people and wrapping them up in silk sheets." She told him. "A couple of the victims were seen at the Bronze with a pretty girl."

 

"And you want me to be the bait?"

 

Bait? Hello? I'm the predator here.

 

"Xander turned us down." Buffy admitted.

 

"With his track record, I can't blame him." Angel couldn't hold back the smile. "It may not work; she may not go for me."

 

What? What woman can resist me?

 

"Seriously?" Her eyebrows went up. "I know it's been awhile since you've looked in a mirror – but, um – hello?"

 

"She may be able to tell I'm not alive." He tapped his chest. "The victims were all drained. A predator may be able to tell that I don't have a heartbeat."

 

"Oh… hadn't thought of that." Her nose crinkled as she frowned. "We have to try something though."

 

"I'm willing to give it a try." Angel couldn’t resist kissing her nose. "I'll do my best to be attractive."

 

"Not too sexy." Buffy threaded her fingers into the thick, soft hair and pulled him close for another kiss.

 

I'm too sexy for my shirt! Too sexy for my shirt! So sexy it hurts…

 

 

 

 

Buffy gritted her teeth as yet another girl came up to Angel and asked him to dance. The – obviously bleached – blonde ran a hand up his arm and over his chest while she talked to him. Slut!

 

If this was Angel's idea of not sexy, Buffy didn't want to see what he thought sexy was. Well, she did, but not here. From somewhere he'd found a pair of black leather pants that fit him like a second skin. The silver studded belt did less to hold them up than it did to emphasize his trim waist.

 

Angel turned and the deep purple velvet shirt shimmered and stretched over the broad chest and shoulders. A smile played at the corners of his lips, and the chocolate eyes seemed to simmer with desire.

 

Buffy licked her lips as he looked over the blonde's head and smiled at her. She had to wrestle down the urge to shove the girl out of the way and throw herself on Angel and kiss him to death when he winked at her.

 

The blonde pouted and drifted away, obviously rebuffed. Buffy smiled triumphantly. All night he'd rejected girl after girl. None were more than normal, despite the war paint and hairspray. Whoever this girl was that lured men out and sucked them dry, she wasn't at the Bronze tonight.

 

Buffy's jealousy was obvious to Angel, even without the anger that tainted her scent. The gray eyes had promised a quick death to every girl who'd approached him. None of them interested him; they were attracted by his looks and nothing else. A glimpse of his true face would send them screaming. Angelus was all for giving the idea a try.

 

The Bronze was beginning to close down when Angel got up and stretched lazily, like a sleepy cat, knowing that the women remaining in the club were watching him.

 

Casually, he strolled over to where Buffy was playing with the water rings on the table she was sitting at. "Come home with me?"

 

And fuck me silly? Angelus said hopefully.

 

"Thought you'd never ask." She smiled sweetly as she put her hand in his. Aware of the envious stares, she slid her arm around his waist and snuggled into his side as they walked out.

 

"Oh my God, what total sluts!" Buffy exclaimed once they were outside. "They were all over you! And you!"

 

"What?" Angel held his hands up. "I didn't do a thing."

 

"You were – just – too sexy!"

 

Oh, yeah, baby…

 

"Sorry." He looped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his side once again. "Can I help it if women find me irresistible?"

 

"Yes." She glared up at him. "Yes, I think you can. You were different tonight."

 

"I – " It had been a long time since he'd let himself loose, let his own sensual nature, and that of the vampire, out. "It's a way to – women like it and – I don't do that anymore."

 

It took a minute for what Angel meant to register. "Oh." Buffy looked up at him again. "Oh. You got women to – oh."

 

"It was a way to attract victims." He wasn't proud of it, but his looks had lured many a young woman to her death.

 

I'm proud of it. Angelus purred. They didn’t call me the angelic one for nothing.

 

"So you just went somewhere and looked sexy?"

 

"There was more to it than that." He stopped and lifted her up onto the hood of a parked car. "Here, sit here."

 

"Okay." She giggled softly. "So, I'm at the Bronze?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Alone?"

 

"Not necessarily." He backed away to lean against the lamppost. "Now pretend you were watching the band or something."

 

"This is silly." Smiling, she turned to look at an imaginary band.

 

I agree, you need to lean back a little more, and the face – Angelus hmmed a moment. Drop your chin a bit.

 

After a moment, Buffy's skin seemed to tingle, and she turned. The stare was intense. Angel was looking at her as if she were the only woman in Sunnydale – in the state – in the world – that had ever existed.

 

Her heart bounced forward several beats until it found its new rhythm. The chocolate eyes were heavy lidded, as if he'd just crawled out of bed, and they burned with desire and lust for her and only her as his gaze slid over her body. The sensuous lips curved into a smile, slowly, as if he knew about the ache in the pit of her belly.

 

The smile and the knowledge in his eyes made her dizzy. The tip of his tongue peeked out to lick at his lips, and her nipples peaked and hardened, wanting to feel the cool, pink tongue licking them.

 

A sharp nip on her throat brought Buffy to her senses. She was standing next to Angel, plastered against him with her arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders. Her lips still tingled as if from a hard kiss.

 

One large hand was tangled in her hair, pulling her head back while the other gripped her waist, pulling her up on her toes. Angel nipped her throat again, growling softly.

 

"Angel – " She'd walked to him, straight into his arms without even realizing it. Had Angel been any other vamp, that wouldn't be a warning bite she was getting. Buffy tried to pull away, but he held her in place, another growl rumbling against her breasts, making them ache fiercely.

 

His hand moved down to cup her ass and pull her tighter against him, while the other tipped her head farther to the side, and the cool tongue licked along the pounding artery in her throat, making her shiver. It was easy to imagine the thick fangs sliding into her, drinking from her.

 

The scent of Buffy's arousal and fear was intoxicating, and Angel was tempted to bite her – and show her how it felt to truly be tasted.

 

Yes! God, yes! Angelus urged him on. Slayer blood is the best! Sweet, innocent, virgin, Slayer blood!

 

No. Angel kissed the red marks on Buffy's throat, soothing her skittering blood.

 

Yes! Come on! Snarling, Angelus painted a vivid picture of his fangs deep in Buffy's throat, her hot sweet blood spurting into his mouth. Forcing her to the ground and raping her as he drained her. Do it! Now!

 

No! Gently, he pushed Buffy back a step.

 

"Oh… oh… that's…" She lifted a shaking hand to her throat. "I just went right to you."

 

"I doubt you'd do that for just any vampire."  Angel smoothed down her hair where he'd fisted it up. "You're not weak minded."

 

She is when it comes to you. You're perfect for each other. You're both morons.

 

"You've seen my grades." There was still an ache between her legs, and she pressed against him again.

 

"We both know you're smarter than that." He dropped a kiss on her lips.

 

"So I wouldn't just throw myself at any old vamp?"

 

"Do you think you'd have gone to Spike like that?" Angel took her hand and started walking down the street once again. Angelus snorted and then guffawed in his mind.

 

"Oh please." Buffy rolled her eyes. "He wouldn't get more than a glance. I mean, Billy Idol is so yesterday."

 

"So is Spike." Both Dru and Spike were dead now, which eased his conscience only slightly.

 

"You could have had any of those girls tonight." She pouted. "They all wanted you."

 

Oh yeah… a buffet of pussy to be had…

 

"Easy pickings." Hugging her against his side, he dipped his head and brushed a kiss across her temple. "But I left with you."

 

Smiling, she slid her arm around his waist. "My Angel."

 

How about a proper show of gratitude?

 

Shut up.

 

 

 

 

Buffy was in a good mood as she bounced into the library the next day before first period. It evaporated when she saw Giles' frown. "How about I go back out and come back tomorrow?"

 

Willow looked up from the library computer. "Hey, Buffy."

 

"Another student is missing." He told her. "Principal Snyder called a meeting this morning. He's convinced the disappearances are gang related."

 

"He thinks everything is gang related." Dropping into one of the chairs, she swung her feet up on the table and admired her new boots. "Breathing, walking – "

 

"Don't forget the drugs." Willow grinned. "It's always gangs on drugs."

 

"Regardless, Antonio Montoya was missing this morning. His mother said that he didn't come home last night." Giles lifted Buffy's feet off the table. "She said he went to the Bronze last night."

 

"But – we were there last night." Desperately, she tried to remember seeing Antonio there. All she remembered was Angel and the parade of girls who wanted to kiss and grope him. "I mean, why would she leave with him? Angel is – well – Angel."

 

"Perhaps Angel isn't her type." Giles said.

 

"That's what I've been saying!" Xander let the library door swing shut behind him. "Broody is just wrong for you, Buffy."

 

Ignoring him, Buffy leaned forward to look at the pictures Willow had pulled up on the computer. "Nice." All were young men about Xander's age, not bad looking, but not in Angel's league. Not that many were.

 

"Hey, no need to find a guy in the personals." Xander knelt in front of her and took her hand. "I'm right here."

 

"Xander, don't be silly." Buffy pulled her hand away and patted him on the cheek.

 

"I think we were using the wrong bait." Don't be jealous, it's just Buffylust that Xander can never fulfill! Willow told herself firmly. Herself wasn't listening and insisted on a bit of heartache.

 

"I have to agree with Willow." Giles looked at the pictures and then at Xander, who had settled in one of the chairs grouped around the table. "She seems to be picking younger men."

 

"Oh no!" Xander grabbed a book and opened it quickly as he'd done the day before. "I'm research boy now – see me – oh look, here's a charming demon that eats – gaa!"

 

"As useful as it is to know about demons who eat gaa – " Buffy smirked. "We have one that eats high school boys. And oh look, you're one."

 

"No." Tossing the book down, he smacked his hand on it. "I have been there and done that with bug girls and mummy girls – even hyena girls – I'm not doing it!"

 

Buffy and Willow exchanged a look and smiled.

 

"No! And no again I say! I've done my time as bait boy." Xander crossed his arms across his chest. "I'm not playing bug bait and you can't make me!"

 

 

 

 

"Oh, jeez – what if she attacks me right here? What if – "

 

"Xander, relax." Buffy brushed his hair back with a deft flick of her wrist. "I'll be right here."

 

"What if she's ugly?" He looked down at where Willow was adjusting his shirt where it tucked into his pants. His way too tight pants. "With fangs and icky breath."

 

"We know she's pretty." Willow got the shirt just the way she wanted it and stood up.

 

"But you don't know about the icky breath!"

 

"Sorry, no reports on the possibility of icky breath." Buffy put the brush in Willow's purse. "You look good."

 

"Can I just say how thrilled I am to be the type this thing goes for?" Xander buttoned up his shirt to his chin. "Hi, I'm Xander, geeky loser girl demon magnet. I'll be your date for this evening."

 

Not date, imbecile. Prey.

 

"Exactly." Angel said quietly.

 

"Angel!" Buffy glared at him. He'd been extra Angel broody since he'd found out what their new plan was. Privately, she thought he was a bit miffed that Xander might be preferred over him, even by a killer demon girl.

 

"Sorry." He didn't look sorry.

 

No we're not.

 

"Can we just go in now?" Xander smacked Willow's hands as she unbuttoned the top buttons of his shirt again.

 

"We have to show off the merchandise." She batted his hands away and unbuttoned another button.

 

"Thanks for the – hey!" He frowned at them. "Tell me again why I want to go into a place that's a known demon magnet?"

 

"Because we're the good guys." Willow pushed him out of the alley they were in and toward the Bronze. "And the good guys always go into dangerous places. Bearding the lion and all that. Which is strange when you think about it, the Bronze isn't all cobwebby and creepy like dangerous places usually are."

 

"It's the hormones and arousal." Angel told her. "Tends to attract demons."

 

"So that's why it's always teens making out that get killed in the slasher movies." Nodding, Willow made a mental note; making out bad.

 

"Yeah, right after the dumb blonde gets it." Buffy pouted. "Like brunettes can't be dumb?"

 

"The scent of sex is second only to fear." Angel kidded her. "Usually the blonde is the one having sex."

 

"So how come they never hit porno theaters?" She elbowed him. "And that's making out, not having sex. What movies have you been watching?"

 

Not those kind or we'd be fucking your brains out instead of this kissy touchy crap.

 

"Sorry." He draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. "Plus young and innocent prey is the sweetest."

 

Buffy smiled as Angel nipped at her ear.

 

"Okay, TMI!" Willow shivered. "And not fair. Innocent makes demons hungry and so does making out – doesn't leave us many choices."

 

Inside the Bronze, Buffy, Angel, and Willow found a booth with a good view of the dance floor while Xander leaned against a pole closer to the dance floor and tried to look available. Angel tried not to snicker at Xander's "come and get me" look as he went to get sodas for the girls.

 

What a loser…

 

"You know – " Angel set the drinks down at the table and settled between Buffy and Willow. "I think I know why she didn't go for me."

 

"Who?" Buffy snuggled into his side.

 

"The demon girl." Willow took a sip from her soda. "He's still smarting."

 

I am not!

 

"I am not." He protested. "I'm just saying she's probably attracted by arousal and innocence, and I wasn't."

 

"Aroused? Or innocent?" Buffy teased.

 

Willow laughed and turned away as Angel growled playfully and kissed Buffy. She wished Xander would growl and kiss her like that. Well kiss her anyway, the growling wasn't really a Xander thing.

 

Frowning, she realized Xander wasn't leaning against the pole any longer. "Hey, guys, where's Xander?"

 

"He's – " Looking around, Buffy couldn’t spot him. "He's not there."

 

"On the dance floor." Angel told them. "Near the center. With the brunette."

 

"Does she look demony?" Willow couldn't see them.

 

"No, but then, appearances are deceiving." Leaning back, Angel pulled Buffy into the spot he'd come to think of as hers. Firmly against his side, her head just under his chin, and one small hand resting on his thigh.

 

She's way out of his league whoever she is. Angelus snickered. She's breathing, isn't she?

 

Xander and the brunette turned, and Angel's eyes widened. The girl – no, the woman – was dark and exotic with long black hair that shimmered and shifted as she moved. Her eyes were a strange dark color. Deep, dark green – almost black.

 

Whoa, baby! I'd like to jump that!

 

"Hey." Buffy dug her fingers into Angel's thigh. His mouth was almost hanging open. "Hello? You're drooling."

 

"Sorry." Angel looked down at her. "She's definitely not normal."

 

You think? Moron. A mental chuckle. Oh and forget the breathing part, I'm thinking. Sexy thing, thy name is demonic.

 

"So do we rush her or what?" Willow edged forward on the seat, ready to leap into action.

 

"She's not going to eat Xander right here on the dance floor." Buffy slid out from under Angel's arm. "Let's dance."

 

"Uh…" He eyed the packed dance floor. "I really don't dance."

 

Ask them to play a Manilow song. Angelus chortled. No, wait, forget I said that!

 

"Come on, you're telling me that Mr. Predatory Creature Of The Night isn't graceful enough to dance?"

 

Anything you want, baby, I'm graceful enough to do. The horizontal bop is my specialty.

 

"I'm not saying I'm not light on my feet." Angel let Buffy pull him out of the booth. "It's just been a really long time since I danced. Styles change."

 

Can we do the hustle? I liked that one.

 

"I don't know how to do the minuet anyway." She led him out onto the floor. "We're just going to hold on to each other and sway to the music."

 

"I can sway." The band was playing a slow song. Safe slow song.  He sighed as she slipped her arms around his waist and pressed against him. "And I'm not that old."

 

Whatever.

 

"Whatever." Resting her cheek on Angel's chest, she searched through the other dancers until she spotted Xander and his demon date.

 

The dancing was nice and Angel relaxed, swaying with Buffy in a slow easy circle. He slid a hand down to rest at the small of her back, pulling her tighter against him. The feel of her breasts rubbing his chest and her soft belly brushing against his hardening cock, was thoroughly and wonderfully distracting.

 

Let's take her outside and get serious.

 

Ignoring Angelus, he rested his cheek against Buffy's hair and closed his eyes. Soft vanilla teased his nose, and he clamped down on the purr that wanted to rumble out and hugged her a little tighter.

 

The music changed as the band took a break and the jukebox kicked on. Something fast. Dancing was bad. Angel stopped and stepped back.

 

"Where are you going?" She locked her arms around his waist.

 

"I can't dance to this."

 

"Sure you can." Buffy cocked her head to one side suddenly. "Oh, it's my Bad Buffy song!"

 

"Your – " The memory surfaced. The night Buffy had danced with Xander to make him jealous.

 

Which worked really well. Angelus snickered. Though not well enough to make you kill him.

 

"I promised to dance with you like that, remember?" Coyly, she peeked up at him through her eyelashes.

 

"I remember." Angel had had more than one erotic fantasy imagining Buffy dancing with him as she had with Xander that night.

 

I prefer the ones where she's naked.

 

"I thought you might." Buffy caught his hands and settled them on her waist. Her own hands fluttered over his chest and shoulders as she began to sway her hips back and forth suggestively. "You just stand there."

 

You can do that. No talent required.

 

Shut up. It was true; Xander had just stood still while Buffy rubbed herself against him. Even now the image made him see red.

 

I think you restrained yourself quite admirably. The demon said. I'd have ripped his fucking throat out right there and then. Well, actually... I'd have ripped his throat out about two seconds after I met him. But that's totally beside the point.

 

Pulling Buffy closer, Angel let his body drift into the same swaying rhythm as hers. Unlike Xander, he knew what to do when he had a woman in his arms. Her fingers slid into his hair and he let her pull his head down for a kiss. She teased him, licking at his lips, nipping his tongue when he tried to push into the warmth of her mouth. Raising a hand, he caught her face and pressed his lips to hers.

 

After an all too brief kiss, Buffy turned and nipped at his hand before sliding out of his arms. She moved around behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and rubbing against his back.

 

Oh that's nice… There was a purr from Angelus. Nice firm titties… is she hunching against our ass?

 

Buffy wasn't hunching, but she was definitely bumping against him in a very sexual, suggestive manner. Angel reached back with one arm and hooked it around her, holding her even closer, pushing back against her, purring at the feel of her breasts against his back.

 

"Umm… bad Angel." Buffy pushed herself away from him. When he turned to face her, she smiled and raised her arms up over her head, dipping and swaying to the music.

 

She has no idea… Angel licked his lips as Buffy crossed her wrists together over her head. She's so innocent…

 

So teach her. Angelus sketched in an image of Buffy, naked and with her hands bound above her head. Show her how much fun it can be to be tied down. Or up.

 

A shiver ran down Angel's spine. With their strength, and the dangerous life they led, he had no doubt that Buffy would enjoy a bit of light bondage. But it was much too soon to introduce her to that side of passion.

 

Light bondage? There was a ripple of laughter. She already likes a good nip now and then – I'm betting she'd love some of the kinkier stuff.

 

Buffy did like it when he bit her or slid his fangs over her skin leaving small, shallow slices so that he could lick up her potent blood, but he'd always been gentle and had done nothing that wouldn't heal within a matter of minutes.

 

Time to move on then… lesson one… A vivid picture of Buffy restrained on his bed while he knelt between her thighs.  Handcuffs!

 

Shut up! The image disturbed him and aroused him at the same time.

 

Unaware of the mental battle, Buffy had turned her back to Angel and pulled his arms around her waist. Rubbing back against him, she smiled as his arms tightened and a soft growl rippled along her back.

 

This was nothing like the dance she'd done with Xander. Angel had one big hand splayed over her belly and the other curled around her hip, holding her close as he matched her movements.

 

Some things never changed, however. There was a hardness pressing into the small of her back. Just like Xander, only better. Her smile was smug, reveling in her power as cool lips brushed her cheek and neck. There was a nip at the pulse in her throat, then another, sharper and harder.

 

The spicy scent of arousal wafted from Buffy's skin, and Angel nuzzled the red mark on her throat. His little Slayer was passionate; she not only liked his biting her, she encouraged it. Right now, Buffy was wet and ready for him.

 

So take her out back and fuck her god damned brains out! Angelus snarled. What the fuck are we doing standing here?

 

Buffy shivered again as Angel nipped at her shoulder. So not like the dance I did for Xander. She giggled. Xander would – Xander? "Xander?"

 

Xander? Angelus growled.

 

"Xander?" Angel growled.

 

"Where is he?" She looked around the dance floor. Xander and the mystery chick were nowhere to be seen.

 

"Over there." Angel's height allowed him to see over the heads of most of the other dancers. "She's leading him outside."

 

Good. Now that we know where he is, let's fuck Buffy.

 

"Let's go." Buffy began to push her way through the dancers. "Why would he go outside with her?"

 

"He looks dazed." Angel started shoving people out of his way. One guy started to shove back and then thought better of it and stepped aside instead.

 

"Xander!" Yelling over the music, she saw him meekly follow the girl outside. Like a lamb to the slaughter. "Xander, wait!"

 

Buffy followed Angel's cue and began to shove her way through the last few dancers at the edge of the dance floor, bursting free of the crowd and running for the door. Angel was right behind her as she left the noisy club. The sudden silence outside was eerie.

 

"Where did they go?" The alley was empty. She ran toward the street. "Xander!"

 

"Buffy – " He called after her. "Xander's not here."

 

"He has to be!" She looked up and down the empty street before coming back to where Angel stood. "Are they back there?"

 

"No." He caught her arm as she headed for the rubbish piled up at the alley's dead end. The panic in the gray eyes tore at him, but he couldn’t lie to her.

 

"They could be behind something." Hungry vamps, scavenging demons, and horny teenagers sometimes lurked behind the dumpster or the haphazard pile of wooden pallets.

 

"Buffy, he's not here." Angel repeated firmly. "His scent isn't here."

 

"Well, which way did they go, then?" Buffy tugged him toward the street end of the alley. "If you can track him – "

 

"I can't. His scent just disappears."

 

Maybe she ate him?

 

The side door burst open and Willow ran out. "Did you catch her? Did you kill her? Where's Xander?"

 

"He's – " Buffy hesitated.

 

"Xander?" Willow looked around the empty alleyway. "Where is he?"

 

"He's gone." Angel said softly.

 

"No – he's here!" She shook her head. "Xander! Quit hiding! It's not funny!"

 

Willow's fear splashed over him, and Angel took a half step toward her before he caught himself.

 

Come on, take a little taste. The redhead's terror was intoxicating and the demon growled hungrily.

 

"Where is he?" She turned back to Buffy. "You guys were supposed to be watching him!"

 

"We were – we – just – " Buffy couldn't meet Willow's eyes.

 

"His scent just vanishes." Angel lifted his head and sniffed.

 

"Maybe she had a car?" Willow said quickly. "They got in and drove to the Espresso Pump and they're having coffee and it's all a big misunderstanding." She looked hopefully at Angel, who was turning in a circle and scenting the air. "Right?"

 

"No car." He told her. "No exhaust. It's almost like – " Angel stopped and looked up.

 

"Like what?" She looked up as well.

 

"Stay here." He ran towards the back wall, leaping easily onto the top of the dumpster and then onto a pile of pallets. They teetered as he gathered his legs under him and pushed off, propelling himself up to where he could get a handhold on the waterspout just below the edge of the roof. Pulling himself up, Angel stepped onto the rooftop.

 

"Uh…" She blinked. "Wow."

 

"Ang – " Buffy craned her head to look up. He'd moved so quickly he was gone before she could ask where he was going. " – el?"

 

"He's there – " Willow pointed to a shadow that leapt from the Bronze's roof to the adjacent roof. "I think. I hope."

 

"That's Angel." Squinting, she tried to focus on the figure before it moved. "Pretty sure. The shoulders – never mind."

 

"Nothing."

 

Both girls jumped and Willow shrieked as Angel's voice came from behind them. Buffy had her arm cocked back, ready to strike out even as she recognized his voice.

 

"Sorry." He apologized. "I thought maybe there'd be something on the rooftops."

 

"But no?" Buffy relaxed her stance, though her heart was still pounding. It had been awhile since a vamp – even Angel – had taken her by surprise.

 

"No. They didn't go up." He shook his head slowly. "Had to be magic of some kind. Translocation or portal, possibly."

 

"Oh God – " Willow sank down to her knees. "We lost Xander – "

 

"We'll find him, Willow." Buffy crouched down beside her. "I promise."

 

Oh… shouldn't make promises you can't keep, lover…

 

Angel silently agreed with his inner demon.

 

 

 

 

"You lost Xander?" Giles pulled his glasses off. "How on – I thought you were going to keep an eye on him."

 

"We were – we did." Buffy's ears felt hot, and she knew her face had to be red. "We – she took him outside, and we followed, but – they were just gone."

 

"Gone? Gone where?" He looked at Angel. "Did you check the alleyway thoroughly?"

 

Don't try to teach your mother to suck eggs. Angelus snorted.

 

"We were in the alley." Angel told him. "Xander's scent disappears. It's as if he stepped into a portal or something."

 

"You're certain he's not at home?" Giles pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to Willow. "Perhaps he escorted the girl home and then went home himself?"

 

"His room is empty." Buffy put an arm around Willow's shoulders. "We'll find him, Will, he'll be okay."

 

"It's my fault – " She wiped at her eyes. "I never should have suggested we use him for bait. He's too sexy and attractive."

 

Seriously? You should get out more, kid.

 

"Willow, if Xander is her type of pr – " Angel stumbled over the word prey and quickly substituted something less painful. "Preferred type – then she might have chosen him anyway."

 

"But we dressed him all sexy and hot and all but hung a sign on him." She began to cry harder. "'Hi, I'm demon bait – come eat me – '"

 

Buffy watched helplessly. This wasn't something she was good at. Slaying she was good at – comforting, not so much.

 

"Willow, why don't you help me with the research now that we have more information?" Giles came to her rescue. "We can try to narrow our focus and perhaps find what we're looking for."

 

"O – okay." Willow wiped at her eyes again and rubbed her nose with Giles' handkerchief.

 

Giles looked over Willow's head at Angel, nodding subtly at the door. Angel caught his meaning. "I'll walk Buffy home; we can see if anyone knows anything on the way."

 

Buffy let Angel lead her out of the library and into the hallway. They didn't speak as they walked through the quiet school and out into the night. Angel's cool fingers squeezed hers gently and she squeezed back, leaning against his side as they walked.

 

Xander's room was still empty, and Buffy left a note on his bed in case he did come back. But she didn't hold out much hope. Angel stood just outside the window, the magical barrier forcing him to wait for her. As Buffy swung out onto the window ledge, he placed his hands around her waist and lifted her down gently.

 

"Angel, what are we going to do?" She gripped his hand tightly as they walked toward her house.

 

"We'll find him."

 

"But – "

 

"He's probably getting lucky."

 

He's probably banging her brains out – wait, this is Xander we're talking about. Angelus guffawed. She's eating his brains right about now.

 

"Xander?" Buffy shook her head. "So not happening."

 

"We'll find him." Angel stopped beneath the tree that grew beside Buffy's bedroom window. "Tonight, we'll find out where this girl has taken him, and we'll rescue him."

 

"What if – " She looked up into the dark eyes. "What if Xander's dead?"

 

"He's not." Dipping his head, he brushed his lips across her temple. "Xander always comes out of these – "

 

Screwups?

 

"Adventures – just fine." He leaned back against the tree and pulled Buffy into his arms. "I mean, there was the hyena thing, the mummy girl, and the bug lady – "

 

"Okay, okay, I get it." Snuggling into Angel's duster with him, Buffy rested her head on his chest. "Xander falls into poop and comes out smelling like a rose – a manly Xander type rose anyway."

 

Angel had been in more erotic situations than he could count, both as a human and as a vampire – pre and post souled – but having Buffy inside of his coat, her warm arms around him and her warm little hands rubbing up and down his back rocketed to the top of the list.

 

Wrapping the leather around her to hold her tightly to him, Angel rested a hand at the small of her back and eased her forward as he slid his thigh between hers.

 

The cool, velvety skin of Angel's throat tempted her, and Buffy pressed her lips to the soft spot under his chin. There was a whisper of night air across her face as he dipped his head down to press his lips to hers.

 

"Mmm…." Angel kisses were too good. Buffy sighed as he nibbled at her bottom lip, sucking it into his mouth to bite and hold for a moment before letting go.

 

Hunching his shoulders and ducking his head down farther past the collar of his coat, Angel breathed in a deep draught of the warm air trapped inside the leather cocoon. The sweetness of vanilla and Buffy and arousal surrounded him, and he pulled her up and against him until he could rub his aching cock against her soft belly.

 

Buffy responded with eager kisses, her warm tongue sliding over his lips before darting into his mouth to play with his. She giggled as he tried to catch her tongue and suck it.

 

"Bad Angel." She nipped his bottom lip. "Purr for me."

 

Oh dear God! Spare me the purring! Angelus had been quiet, enjoying the secondhand kissing and touching, but purring was beneath his dignity. I'm not a fucking house cat!

 

Ignoring him, Angel let a soft purr rumble up from his belly. He'd discovered that Buffy liked not just the sound but the feel, so he started the purr as low down as he could.

 

Low down was when you actually practiced!

 

You know… it's been a while since I listened to my Manilow Live album.

 

See if I care. The demon snorted. Purring is for pussies, not the Scourge of fucking Europe!

 

It's a double album. I'd have to listen to the whole thing. Angel shot back. I can crank it up, and it'll be just like we're there. Again.

 

Fuck you. Angelus sulked off into a corner of his box. At least get a feel of her tits this time.

 

Buffy was rubbing the aforementioned tits against his chest, the purring vibrations making her nipples ache. She moaned as Angel pressed his thigh harder into her mound, and his cool tongue took advantage of her parted lips to slide in and out of her mouth.

 

Angelus wasn't the only one wanting to feel Buffy's breasts. Angel slid a hand inside the coat and along her side until he found the edge of the shirt she was wearing. The thin material moved easily, allowing him to caress Buffy's warm, soft skin.

 

The cool, gentle touch made her shiver, and Buffy moved up on tiptoe in an effort to get closer to Angel. A giggle escaped their locked lips as he dropped the purring down a notch.

 

"Angel…" Gasping for air, she let her head tip back so he could kiss and nibble along her throat. One big hand covered her breast, squeezing and kneading it through the silk and lace bra.

 

Angelus had learned that images of forcing and hurting Buffy would get him shut down. Angel would back off, and he'd get nothing more than a kiss and grope – and a case of blue balls. Secondhand, but still not his idea of fun.

 

What he wanted was Buffy beaten down and terrified as he raped her – that wasn't going to happen, and Angelus choked on his frustration. Instead, he slowly built the image of fondling Buffy's breasts and her ass, tugging the bra down, licking and nipping along the vibrant pulse of her blood to suckle the rosy pink nipples.

 

Angel growled softly as he suckled at Buffy's breasts. Her hands were tangled in his hair, holding him close, and her breath came in short gasps.

 

Sweet… so sweet… Angelus purred. She's wet… spicy and hot… feel her… He added to the fantasy, pushing a hand down inside of her pants, cupping her ass through silk panties, easing his fingers along the delicate, wet outer lips of her pussy. So wet and ready…

 

"Angel – " Buffy jumped as she heard a rustling sound out in the yard. A cat scurried across the lawn in search of mousy prey. It dawned on her that they were out in the open and her clothes were half off. "Angel, wait – "

 

"Buffy – " Raising his lips from her wet nipples, Angel caught her mouth in a passionate kiss, his tongue thrusting past her lips even as he pressed his fingertips against the tight, wet opening to her pussy.

 

"No – no – " Twisting her head, she brought her hands up and pushed at his shoulders. "Not out here – "

 

Down on the ground… Angelus panted as he visualized Buffy lying naked on the grass, moonlight on her wet nipples. Golden thighs spread wide and inviting…

 

Angel pulled Buffy tighter against him and pursued her lips once again. He wanted the fantasy Angelus gave him, Buffy beneath him on the ground, arching up into him as he made love to her.

 

It was hard to resist the demanding kiss, and her hands refused to push Angel away, instead sliding up over his shoulders and into his soft, dark hair once again.

 

Get her down… Angelus was growing impatient with the schoolboy foreplay. Fuck her!

 

The image of Buffy crying out as he forced himself into her broke over Angel. It was icy, and his desire died with it. Gently he pushed her back and tugged her bra back up into place. Angelus howled in frustration, the sound bouncing through his mind. "Sorry." He kissed her, and her trembling echoed within him. "Forgive me?"

 

"Yeah." She pulled her shirt back down and ran a shaky hand over her hair in an attempt to smooth it back into place. "Little past the public indecency point, huh?"

 

"Just a little." He brushed a lock of honey blonde hair back from her eyes. "Sometimes – sometimes you're just hard to resist."

 

"Just sometimes?"

 

The pouty lips were beyond his meager resistance, and Angel leaned down for one last kiss. Her warm, wet tongue curled around his for a delicious moment. Breaking the kiss softly and gently, he placed a kiss on the end of her nose. He loved the funny shape of it, especially when it crinkled up as it did now. "You'd better go inside."

 

"You too." The sky was beginning to lighten with false dawn.

 

"Tonight we'll find Xander." He cupped his hands for her to step in and hoisted Buffy up to the first tree limb. "I promise."

 

Don't make promises you can't keep, asshole.

 

"I'll meet you at the Bronze tonight." She blew him a kiss as she climbed through her bedroom window.

 

"I'll be there."

 

Yeah, me too. Angelus grunted. And our blue balls.

 

Shut up.

 

Make me.

 

We're goin' hoppin'! We're going hoppin' today! Angel sang mentally. Loudly. Where things are poppin' the Philadelphia way!

 

Shut the fuck up!

 

We're gonna drop in on all the music they play! Chuckling, he walked down the dark street. On the bandstand! Bandstand!

 

Kill me now… just fucking kill me now… The demon moaned. Tell me you're at least going to jack off when we get home.

 

 

 

 

Buffy looked over the crowded dance floor. "Where are you, evil mystery chick?" She frowned. "Or would that be mystery evil chick?"

 

"Either way works."

 

She'd known Angel was there even before he spoke; the special Angel tingle was running along her spine.

 

"She's here." He slid his arm around Buffy's waist.

 

"You can sense her?" She looked up at him.

 

"Not exactly." He looked away. "I can smell her."

 

"Hey, no shame." She elbowed him. "It's handy."

 

Handy for sniffing out hot little Slayers.

 

Get back in your box. Angel gave the demon a mental shove.

 

"There!" Buffy pointed towards the other side of the dance floor. "There she is!"

 

She pushed her way through the couples on the dance floor with Angel right behind her. She was almost within touching distance when the woman turned. Black eyes glittered at her before the woman shoved the young man she'd been dancing with into Buffy. The two went down with a thud.

 

By the time Buffy sorted out the tangle of arms and legs, the woman was at the door leading out into the alley. "Angel! Get her!"

 

What am I? A dog?  Angelus huffed.

 

Angel had already stepped over Buffy and the boy who'd knocked her down and continued to pursue the woman. He burst out into the alley only a few steps behind her.

 

The woman glanced back over her shoulder at him as she ran. Angel lengthened his stride, straining to catch her.

 

What the hell? Did they cross breed her with a fucking racehorse?

 

Ignoring his personal demon, Angel pushed himself harder, no doubts now that the woman was demonic in nature if she could outrun a vampire. Behind him, he could hear Buffy as she raced to catch up with him. Stretching out his hand, he reached for the woman's shoulder.

 

Without missing a step, the woman flung her hand up, and an iridescent, almost invisible line spun out to catch the corner of a nearby rooftop. Her form shimmered and began to change into that of a large spider.

 

Angel leapt, but missed as the spider scurried up the line. The pavement scraped his hands and cheek as he hit, and his growl of frustration echoed off the buildings.

 

"There's a fire escape!" Buffy helped him up. "Come on!"

 

As quickly as they were able to climb the fire escape, Buffy using the stairs and Angel scaling the outside of it, the spider was gone. Angel sampled the air carefully as he walked along the rooftop, but her scent was gone.

 

"Well that answers that question." Buffy rubbed her arms as if chilled. "And ugh, remind me to bring a can of Raid next time."

 

"This is bad, Buffy." He shook his head. "We have to find Xander – quickly."

 

 

 

 

"A spider, you say?"

 

"Big spider." Buffy told Giles. "Big, ugly spider."

 

"That should help narrow our search considerably." He sorted through the books on the library table. "Spider demons or demons that can shift into spider form."

 

"Here's one!" Willow paged back through one of the books she'd been searching through earlier. Finding the page, she skimmed over the entry. "Changes to a spider and – oh – " Her green eyes went wide with shock.

 

"Oh?"  Giles took the book from her slack fingers. "Eats his prey – oh dear – "

 

"What?" Buffy asked. "Oh dear what? You oh dear at bad things – what bad thing is this?"

 

"Actually it's a good thing – for Xander anyway." Closing the book, he set it back down on the table. "The victims are killed much – much differently than the victims here in Sunnydale."

 

Sorting through the books again, the Watcher pushed a stack toward the end of the table where Buffy and Angel were sitting. "Willow and I will continue looking for a shape changing demon – you and Angel look for something that would allow a person or demon to shape shift."

 

Buffy picked up a slim volume. Research – even for a good cause – wasn't something she excelled at. "Jewelry? Cool! A book I can relate to!"

 

"Too bad it's magical and cursed jewelry." Angel tapped the picture on the first page. "Strangles the victim within minutes. Cannot be removed except by giver of necklace." He read from the entry.

 

Chances are that'd be a not gonna happen.

 

"Oh well." Buffy frowned. "Still pretty."

 

"Don't pout." He tapped the end of her nose. "Your face'll freeze like that."

 

"Whatever." She flipped through the pages. "Okay, unless I have on this amulet. Ugh!"

 

The library was quieter than usual without Xander to crack jokes and run in and out in search of junk food. Cordelia's brainless comments were missing as well; her parents had given her a week at a posh spa as a reward for good grades. Or maybe for just being Cordelia, Buffy thought enviously.

 

Various spiders that shapechanged and shape shifters who could change into spiders were found and ruled out. Willow was sniffling, and Giles was rubbing a hole through the lenses of his glasses. Even Angel seemed to be on his last nerve, growling at Willow when she bumped him with her chair as she got up to get another book.

 

"Hey…" Buffy bit her lip as she looked at an amulet toward the back of her book. "This looks sorta familiar. It's pretty too."

 

"Let me see." Angel leaned over to look at the picture, partly to see if it looked familiar to him, and partly because he always kept an eye out for things Buffy liked.

 

She'd like a collar and chain. Angelus offered. Maybe some shiny nipple clamps?

 

Ignoring him, Angel looked closely at the picture. "That does look familiar… she was wearing it." He took the book from Buffy. "That's it – the necklace she had on."

 

"You noticed her necklace?" Buffy shot him a look that promised Bad Things.

 

Uh oh… a jealous Slayer is a dangerous Slayer…

 

When is she not dangerous? "Of course I did – she's a demon. You never know what's important. Like this – magic jewelry."

 

"Uh huh." She crossed her arms and looked away from him.

 

You're not getting any! Angelus snickered. You're not getting any!

 

I'll get some before you do. Angel countered as he handed the book to Giles.

 

I'll get some when you get some, stupid. The moment Buffy gives it up – There was a lascivious licking of Angelus' lips. I'll be right there.

 

Angel had no comeback, and the round went to Angelus.

 

"Amulet of Ischacus?" Giles read. "Last known location – "

 

"The Sunnydale museum!" Willow had been looking over Giles' shoulder at the book.

 

"The Sunnydale museum?" He frowned. "Are you sure? Willow, it says here that it was last seen in – "

 

"And that book was published when?" She cocked an eyebrow at him as she went to the library's computer. "I've been keeping an eye on the museum's inventory since the Inca mummy girl thing."

 

"And they allow you to – no, don't answer that." It was Giles' turn to look over Willow's shoulder. "Amulet of Gualterius? Well they've misidentified it. Sloppy work."

 

"Hmm… the amulet is missing, only the box was found last week." Willow scrolled down the page, scanning the report for details. "Dr. Robeson was doing inventory on new items – she's also missing and assumed to have stolen the amulet."

 

"Only the amulet, not the case, which increases its value – and not another thing?" He went back to his book. "Bloody narrow minded lot, aren't they?"

 

"In Sunnydale we're taught not to talk to strangers." Willow told him. "And not to dig too deep into mysterious disappearances."

 

"Heaven forbid someone notices anything out of the ordinary." Giles found the entry again. "Amulet of Ischacus, magical, believed possessed or cursed."

 

"Why is all the pretty magical jewelry bad?" Buffy pouted. "Why not the ring of have a great hair day? The earrings of get everywhere five minutes early no matter when you left?"

 

"It made her look cheap." Angel leaned over and brushed a kiss on her cheek. "Very slutty."

 

"Still not talking to you." She said primly.

 

That's fine by me. Her mouth is better suited for other things. Angelus said. Like what she was doing the other night, remember?

 

Angel shifted uncomfortably. He remembered exactly what Angelus was talking about.

 

"Any living being that comes into contact with the amulet is possessed – the possessed being then attracts and kills victims by draining their souls." Giles frowned. "There's no mention of changing into a spider."

 

"Maybe that's part of how they attract the victims?" Willow offered as an explanation. "Or the draining part? 'Cos Dr. Robeson was a woman, not a spider. And for attracting – much better."

 

"She must have touched the amulet while she was inventorying it." Angel didn't mention the lack of blood suckage in the entry.

 

Lack of blood suckage? You're an expert on that. Unless they're dead donut boys. Angelus taunted.

 

"Why are these things always left lying about?" A sigh escaped Giles.

 

"Chill, Giles. It's not like they come with big warning labels." Buffy held her hands up as if holding a sign. "Warning! Evil magical item! Handle with care!" she turned to Willow. "Or would that be don't handle?"

 

"I'm for don't." The redhead said firmly.

 

"There's no mention of draining the victims of blood, however." Giles laid the book down. "Or the cocoons."

 

"Who cares?" Buffy turned the book around and looked through the entry for the proper slayage method. "Says here that removing the amulet from the possessed victim is the recommended method of stopping them. My recommended method is with a sharp object."

 

"That's usually the only method." Angel agreed. "We find out where she's hiding and kill her."

 

"Willow and I will retrieve the amulet's case from the museum." Giles picked up his tweed coat from the back of his chair and pulled it on. "Buffy, you and Angel see if you can locate this creature's lair."

 

"We'll meet you at the Bronze." Buffy stood up and looked at Angel. "The usual unusual suspects?"

 

"Sounds like a plan."

 

Not as good a plan as say… getting naked and fucking her brains out.

 

Angel pushed the library door open for Buffy. "Let's see if Willy knows anything."

 

He never does. Angelus yawned. Let me know if you decide to wise up and get into Buffy's pants.

 

 

 

 

"Me?" Willy shook his head. "I don't know nothin', I swear."

 

"Whatever." Buffy held up a tall, slender bottle. "What's this?"

 

"That's very hard to come by! Be careful!" He winced as the bottle hit the floor. "Come on, Buffy, give me a break here!"

 

Angel and Buffy had spent the last twenty minutes questioning the patrons of Willy's Bar. Buffy had entered the front door while Angel blocked off the back. A little demon blood and vamp dust later, and they were still in the dark.

 

They had let the rest go – ignoring the muttered threats and vows of revenge as the surviving clientele left – and focused their attention on Willy.

 

"Did you just use her name?" Angel leaned harder on Willy's neck, pressing the man's face into the dirty bar top. "Did you actually say her name? Surely I heard wrong."

 

"Ow! No!" Willy squirmed as more pressure was applied to his already aching neck. "Ms. Summers – Slayer – the Slayer – I must've blacked out for a sec – head trauma!"

 

"Aren't you so sweet?" Buffy cooed, planting an elbow in Willy's back as she leaned over him to kiss Angel. "Always so chivalrous."

 

"There's no excuse for bad manners." Angel savored the soft, warm kiss as best he could with Willy grunting in pain and struggling to get away.

 

"Umm… nice." She dug her elbow into the muscles – such as they were – of Willy's back. "Now, you were telling us about this spider girl."

 

"I don't know anything about any spider girl!" He yelped as Buffy ground her elbow in again. "Jeez – I swear – ow!"

 

"I think he's telling the truth." Angel eased up on the pressure. Buffy nodded and stepped back. "But you could break a few fingers just to be sure."

 

Of course he's telling the truth. He's a coward. Angelus sneered. Smell the stink?

 

The scent of fear was too strong; Willy was genuinely afraid – for once. Angel let go of the man and stepped back. "So you don't know anything about the spider – what about the girl?"

 

"The girl?" Willy straightened painfully. "You got a girl, Angel. You and Buffy gotta be making it – you wanting a three way? Ah…" He backed up mentally and verbally as Angel growled menacingly. "You and the Slayer have a very pure and proper relationship, everyone knows that! Why did I say those awful things – head trauma – maybe Tourette's Syndrome?"

 

"There's a girl – some might think she's pretty – " Buffy looked at Angel. All was clearly not forgiven. "And she's made off with Xander."

 

"Xander? Oh the geeky kid?"

 

Right on the first try! Cackling filled Angel's head. Angel silently agreed.

 

"There was this one thing I remember hearing about." Willy rubbed his neck. "I'm gonna need therapy."

 

"You're going to need crutches." Buffy tapped her foot impatiently.

 

"You need to relax, Buffy – uh – Slayer – you know, sit down and have a drink." The man eased back behind the bar. "I can get a few candles, and you and Angel can have a romantic evening. Feel free to strip if the urge hits."

 

At last he says something intelligent! I'll have a glass of AB neg.

 

"Feel free to get to the point." Angel casually shoved a jar of pickled something parts off the end of the bar. The jar busted, spraying shards of glass and liquid, and he instantly regretted the move as a malodorous stench rose up.

 

Smooth move there, Soul Boy.

"Angel – hey, man, those are expensive!" Willy scooped up the bits and pieces from the floor, yelping as they singed his fingers.

 

Angel stepped casually behind Buffy. He also casually stopped pretending to breathe.

 

"There's this place downtown, some vamps were nesting." Willy put the pickled bits into a beer mug. "Week or so ago, this bad ass chick came in and took it over."

 

"Took it over?" Buffy wished she could stop breathing like Angel could. "How?"

 

Who cares? Sounds like my kind of chick.

 

"She tore a couple of them apart." He rinsed his hands off in the stained sink behind the bar. "So the rest decided to find somewheres else to sleep."

 

Grabbing the gray bar towel, Willy dried his hands off and then dropped the rag on the puddle of pickle juice on the floor. "On the way out, they see this chick grab one of their familiars and suck them down – nothing but a dried up husk left."

 

"Familiars?" Buffy turned to Angel. "She killed their cat?"

 

"Familiars are humans who let vamps feed off them." Angel shrugged. "They trade blood for sex."

 

"Eww!"

 

Oh, come on, Buff. Angelus purred. Try it, you'll like it.

 

"You got an address for this place?" Angel pulled some money out of his pocket.

 

"Yeah." Willy watched Angel peel off a few bills of the older presidential variety and drop them on the bar. "You know where Moffet runs into Thirty-Second?"

 

"Downtown – on the west side?" Angel peeled off another bill.

 

"The old Frisco building." He snatched the money up.

 

Outside, Angel and Buffy both took deep breaths of the night air to clean the smell out of their lungs.

 

"You knew about this nest?" She rubbed her nose. Her sinuses felt like they were fried. "And you didn't tell me?"

 

"They're harmless – mostly. People come to them and pay to get bitten, or they – you know – " He looked at his feet as they walked down the street. "Trade sex."

 

You're such a pussy, you know that?

 

"So it keeps them off the streets?" The idea of people actually wanting to be bitten or wanting to have sex with a vamp weirded her out.

 

"They don't have to hunt."

 

She looked at Angel; he turned to her, and her heart skipped a beat. A flashbulb shot of lying in bed with Angel, making love and letting him feed from her went off behind her eyes. Okay, so I'd do it with Angel – that's different!

 

Oh… what's she thinking?

 

Angel sighed at the exaggerated sniffing sounds Angelus was making. Buffy was aroused, spicy desire mixing with the delicate vanilla, but he didn't need Angelus showing him pornographic images. He could come up with his own.

 

"I'm not mad." Buffy mistook his sigh for something else. "There's plenty of people-killing vamps for me to worry about."

 

Like me?

 

Stifling another sigh, he laid an arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his side.

 

 

 

 

"You're sure this won't set off the alarm?"

 

"I shut it off." Willow assured him. "No alarms."

 

Eyeing the cloth wrapped rock he carried, Giles decided it would have to do. Smashing it into the glass, he cringed at the sound. Even muffled by the cloth it still sounded horribly loud in the dark alley.

 

Willow reached in through the hole in the glass and unlatched the door. "Easy as pie!"

 

"That was entirely too easy." Following her inside, he pulled the door shut. "Considering the museum's penchant for acquiring deadly items, one would expect them to install a state of the art security system. One that can't be turned off by a high school student." Seeing Willow's shoulders droop, he quickly added to that last thought. "Not that you're the average high school student, Willow. You're quite exceptional."

 

"Thank you." Her cheeks grew warm. "This is Sunnydale, remember? The river of denial flows right down Main Street."

 

There was no arguing that point, and Giles and Willow kept quiet as they made their way down dark hallways to where the museum's inventory was stored.

 

"There it is." He handed his flashlight to her and took out the bag he'd brought along. There was nothing in the text to indicate the box itself was dangerous, but better cautious than possessed.

 

Opening the bag, Giles worked it over the end of the box until he could grasp it through the material and slide it the rest of the way into the bag.

 

"And done." He pulled the ties closed and slipped the bagged box into his jacket pocket. "All safe and sound – good Lord!"

 

"What?" Willow spun around, throwing the flashlight's beam along the walls and ceiling. "Spider? Spider?"

 

"No, Willow, there are no spiders. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." He blinked as she shined the beam in his eyes.

 

"Clarify those good Lord's already!" Her heart was beating so hard she pressed a hand to her chest, certain it was going to jump out.

 

"Sorry." He said again. "I spotted something important."

 

Willow let him take the flashlight and watched as he went over to the next set of shelves. "Something to help kill the spider?"

 

"Eh? No, actually it's something else entirely." Lifting a polished green crystal from a velvet lined box, he turned it to examine the runes etched within. "I believe… possibly… hmm…"

 

"Will it help us find Xander?" She was all for the finding of things important, but Xander was missing, and she wanted to find him with soul and blood intact.

 

"I can't be completely certain without looking at my copy of Howahkan's Cartulary, but I believe this is the Triptukhos."

 

"Which does…"

 

"There are three books of prophecies which must be read in a specific order. A passage from one, then a passage from the second, and finally a passage from the third – otherwise all three books are simply gibberish."

 

"Oh." She nodded. "And these books are…"

 

"Well, I – that is – " He stuttered for a moment. "No one really knows – exactly – with one hundred percent certainty. They've been lost for centuries."

 

"Then why would you need this?" She took the crystal and looked through it. Are those animals? A sheep? A wolf?

 

"Using this, you can see which passages to read in which order. It also separates the true prophecies from the typical mindless ranting of the seer who wrote them." He tapped the crystal. "Legend has it that clues to the End of Days lie in the books. This is very important."

 

"And so is finding Xander." Willow put the crystal back in its box and then put the box into her jacket pocket.

 

"Willow! You can't just steal things from the museum!" He gave her a stern frown in the best Watcher tradition.

 

"Like we're stealing the jewel box?" Giles' frown didn't faze her as much as it normally did. "Besides, suppose they find these books next week?"

 

"That's not likely, they've been missing for – " He followed her as she turned and walked out of the room. "Of course, so was the crystal."

 

"Point to Rosenberg."

 

"It would be rather embarrassing to explain that I had the crystal in hand and didn’t take it." He didn't want to be on the receiving end of that lecture. "And this is Sunnydale – tomorrow it could be sold as a paperweight."

 

"Or be used in a plot to take over the world." Willow snapped off the flashlight as they reached the door leading back out of the museum. "On with the rescuing. And the Xander napping spider girl slayage."

 

The tone was flippant, but there was an edge to it and Giles regretted, not for the first time, the loss of innocence of Buffy and her "Scoobies". "Right, come along then, let's take this to Buffy and Angel."

 

 

 

 

"Okay so we'll keep her busy while you and Will make with the magic." Buffy tested the edge of the dagger Angel had given her. It was silver, a substance that was generally caustic, if not lethal, to shape changers. Buffy's comment had been "Pretty – shiny – Buffy like!"

 

"There's no guarantee that the dispossession spell will work." Giles pushed his glasses up so they sat firmly on his nose. "One would assume the method has been tried in the past and if successful it would have been in the text."

 

"So then we go back to method number one." Buffy looked on enviously as Angel unwrapped the two handed broadsword he'd brought along for himself. "We kill it."

 

Angel grinned at her. The sword was nearly as tall as she was, but he could tell Buffy wanted to give it a go.

 

How about she handles our sword instead?

 

"The possessed person is an innocent; we must at least attempt to save her." Giles told her. "She's hosting a demonic presence."

 

Kinda like you, Dead Boy. Angelus snickered, knowing Angel hated the nickname Xander had given him. Feel free to get the fuck out at any time.

 

Feel free to shut the fuck up at any time. Angel snarled back at him. I was here first, you know.

 

"I know." Buffy put her hand on the door leading into the abandoned building. "But I won't let Xander or anyone else die just because she's not guilty of the demon's crimes. It's an easy choice for me. Evil versus not evil." She pulled the door open. "I'll never choose evil."

 

Inside, the walls were covered with webbing, narrowing the hallway so they could only go in one at a time. Angel caught Buffy's shoulder. "Let me go first."

 

"Why?"

 

Yeah, why? I can't watch her ass if you're in front.

 

"Because I have the big sword." He slipped past her.

 

"That's the way it goes." Willow sighed. "The men have the swords, so they get to do everything."

 

"Beasts." Buffy stuck her tongue out at Angel's back.

 

Flattery will get you laid, lover...

 

"Girl power rally later." Giles said impatiently. "Duty calls."

 

"Don't touch the web." Angel warned.

 

"Not a problem." Buffy had already pulled her hair back and tied it securely in a ponytail. "Cobwebs are a pain to wash out."

 

They walked carefully down the narrow corridor, following Angel's lead and turning at an intersection.

 

"I hear heartbeats." He said softly. "Slow – sluggish – but alive."

 

"Xander?" Willow asked hopefully.

 

"I don't know." He paused as the corridor branched. The heartbeats were louder down the left one, and he turned in that direction. The corridor ended at a set of double doors.

 

The doors were broken and hanging from their hinges. Just past them was a large room. Webbing ran from floor to ceiling and corner to corner. Here and there, large white lumps hung suspended within the webbing.

 

"What are – oh – " Buffy shivered as she realized the lumps were cocoons.

 

"Don't touch the webs." Angel caught Buffy's hand as she moved past him. "Spiders use them as a security system. Vibrations along the strands alert them to gather prey and attack intruders."

 

"There are people inside those cocoons." She turned back to face him. "We have to get them out."

 

"Buffy, we will get them out. But Angel is right." Giles told her. "We have to take care of the spider woman first."

 

She didn't like this part. Things were simpler when she could fight and kill a demon and then walk away.

 

"We can do it, Buffy." Willow reached out and took her other hand. "You go take care of her and we'll get everyone out of here."

 

"Well if you're all going to gang up on me." Buffy squeezed Willow's hand.

 

"This way." Angel took a step into the room.

 

"Lead on, McCheese." Buffy saluted him with her dagger.

 

With Angel a half step in front of her, Buffy moved slowly into the maze of silken strands. He was trying to zero in on the scent of the spider girl, sorting through the old scents of vampires and blood, of humans trapped in their cocoons.

 

Angel stopped suddenly, lifting his head higher and scenting carefully. His face morphed momentarily before changing back to his human features.

 

"What?" She rested a hand on his back. "Spider chick?"

 

"No. Xander."

 

"He's here?" A combination of fear and relief hit her. "He's alive?"

 

Unfortunately. Maybe if we leave him in there awhile?

 

"I think so." Angel turned and cocked his head to one side. "Alive but weak – like the others."

 

"Xander?" Willow had heard Angel's quiet words. "Are you sure? How do you know?"

 

"The same way I know your heartbeat is up over a hundred beats a minute." Angel didn't turn to look at her.

 

"Oh, vamp ears, right." She tried to slow her heartbeat down with no success.

 

"Can you find him?" The cocoons all looked the same to Buffy.  Big, fuzzy lumpy things.

 

Don't! Don't!

 

"He's close." Angel sorted through the scents and heartbeats until he pinpointed the cocoon that held Xander. "This one."

 

"Let's cut him loose." Buffy lifted her dagger.

 

Angelus sighed. Why do you never listen to me?

 

"Buffy, no." He caught her hand. "We can't. She may not know we're here yet. Touch the webs and the vibrations could bring her to us."

 

"Fine." Jerking her hand free, Buffy started slicing at the strands. "Means we don't have to go looking for her."

 

You knew she was going to do that.

 

Angel sighed and took up a defensive position a few steps from her, sword raised and ready. "Make it quick."

 

"Eww! Sticky! I knew it would be all sticky!" Her tongue stuck out between her teeth as the strands clung to the blade, and she shook the dagger trying to make them come off. "Ick!"

 

Just like a girl. There was a small chuckle. Oh no! I broke a nail!

 

"Just don’t get caught in it!" Angel growled over his shoulder.

 

Giles knelt on the floor and began drawing the necessary protective runes on the floor. Willow sat next to him and carefully sorted the spell components. He lit candles along the circle, and Angel wrinkled his nose at the smell.

 

Why do spells always require stinky candles?

 

A nice lilac would be a change. Angel agreed. Eau du stench gets old.

 

"This is like the spaghetti I cooked once." Buffy sawed at the strands. "One big gunky lump. Wish I could call for pizza to fix this mess."

 

There was a whisper of sound, and Angel turned toward it. "I think she's coming."

 

"We're almost ready here." Giles carefully mixed a vibrant blue powder with a dull green one.

 

"Oh pretty." Willow said as the colors swirled together.

 

"Buffy – " Angel risked a glance over his shoulder.

 

"I'm hurrying!" She sliced desperately at the sticky mess. "When she gets here, I'll help take her down."

 

"Just remember I need a few feet to swing my sword."

 

You say that to all the girls.

 

"Bet you say that to all the girls." Buffy grinned.

 

A giant spider slid out of the darkness, landing at the edge of the light cast by the candles. A shimmer and the woman stood before them. She walked out of the shadows, and a smile curved her lips as she approached Angel.

 

Oh, well, hello there…

 

"Buffy – " Angel moved to put himself between the woman and Buffy. "Time's up!"

 

"I'm – almost – " The cocoon split open. "Done!"

 

The smile faltered as the woman came closer. "You're the different one."

 

Oh yeah, baby, I'm different all right.

 

"And then some." A smile quirked the corner of Angel's mouth before he let his game face push past his human face.

 

The woman rushed him suddenly, and he lifted the sword and moved to block her. Angel swung at her head, but she flung out a handful of silken strands that wrapped around the blade.

 

"Okay – mine – " Angel snarled at her as he pulled against the clinging strands.

 

Yeah! Get your own, bitch!

 

The woman was strong, and Angel felt himself being pulled toward her.

 

I knew chicks dig me, but come on!

 

"Buffy!" He jerked back on the sword, twisting the blade in an effort to cut the strands loose. The steel was sharp enough to cleave through bone, and yet not a single thread broke. "A little help here!"

 

You know, now's not really the time for a threesome.

 

"Coming!" Buffy pulled Xander of his cocoon.

 

Though it sounds like Buffy's in the mood.

 

Ha fucking ha! Angel jerked the sword again, his feet sliding on the tile floor. Switching tactics, he stopped fighting against her pull, rushing forward with the hope of skewering her on the blade.

 

Good plan!

 

The woman sidestepped the blade easily and grabbed him by the throat.

 

Not a good plan!

 

Pulling him to her, she pressed her lips to Angel's.

 

Oh, hey – Angelus chuckled. Good plan!

 

Giles began reciting the spell to dispossess while Willow rushed to Xander's side. "Xander, are you okay?"

 

"Mom?" He said sleepily.

 

"Hey!" Buffy looked up to see Angel locked in the woman's embrace. "Get your icky spider lips off my boyfriend!"

 

Angel struggled, but the woman was incredibly strong. A fire started where her lips touched his. Her hand locked on his jaw, forcing his mouth open.

 

This just keeps getting more and more interesting…

 

The fire rushed past his lips and down his throat, winding past his still heart.

 

Ow! Son of a – Angelus cried out inside Angel's mind as the fire swirled around him. Out! Out!

 

"Angel!" Buffy ran toward where he struggled in the woman's grip, unable to break free. She could hear his cries of pain muffled by the kiss.

 

The fire spiraled around inside Angel, tightening and jerking at something. Horrified, he realized she was trying to suck his soul out of his body. No! He clawed at her face and tried to force his mouth closed.

 

Yes! The pain was excruciating, but Angelus welcomed it as the chains began to snap free. Get – out – take – him –

 

Angel's sword had fallen to the floor and Buffy snatched it up. "Paws off!" She drove the point and a good foot of steel into the woman's side.

 

A scream tore from her, and she threw Angel aside. He lay moaning on the floor and clutching his chest as she turned her attention to the Slayer.

 

Jerking the sword free, Buffy raised it up and over her head. Before she could complete the swing back to separate head from shoulders, sticky threads had wrapped around her throat.

 

The sword fell from her fingers and clattered to the floor as the strands tightened, threatening to crush her windpipe. Clawing at the web, she could hear Giles' voice chanting steadily and Willow screaming her name, but they sounded farther and farther away.

 

Shit! You're still here! Angelus snarled. What the hell does it take to get rid of you?

 

"Buffy?" Angel rolled over and got painfully to his feet. "Buffy – "

 

The woman had pulled Buffy to her, ignoring her struggles, and pressed her lips against Buffy's as she had Angel's a few moments ago.

 

Hey! Chick kiss!

 

"No!" Staggering to where his sword lay on the floor, Angel snatched it up and plunged it into the woman's back.

 

Watch it, you'll have Slayer kabob!

 

Buffy would recover from a sword thrust – not that he would miscalculate and hit her – easier than having her soul stolen.

 

A scream cut off the fire strangling Buffy, and she collapsed to the floor as the woman let go of her.

 

Enraged, the woman spun around to face Angel. Too late she saw the flash of silver. Her head sat on her shoulders for another moment as Angel completed the arc, bringing the sword up to rest on his left shoulder.

 

Now blow on her! The demon pleaded. I've always wanted to do that!

 

It was his own fault for watching all those Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks movies.

 

Come on! You know you wanna!

 

Taking a deep breath, Angel blew on the woman. Her head bounced to the floor. Her body collapsed, the amulet falling next to it. The body shimmered and shifted to that of an ordinary – albeit headless – woman. A spider crawled off the body and skittered away. Angel stepped on it. Happy now?

 

Momentarily. Angelus yawned. Be more fun if I got to do the blow job – ah – that didn't come out right. Oh look, Buffy needs help.

 

Buffy was thrashing wildly on the floor, trying to pull the strands of webbing away from her throat. Giles and Willow were both trying to help her with little success. In her panic, Buffy was hindering their efforts to free her.

 

"Hold her still!" Angel picked up Buffy's discarded dagger. Giles and Willow managed to pin her shoulders to the floor, allowing him to sit astride her chest and hold her down while he began to carefully slice through the thick, sticky strands.

 

Buffy sucked in a deep gasping breath as the pressure on her windpipe began to ease. Lying still, she blinked back the red sparkly stars as Angel cut through the last of the threads. He pulled her up into his arms, and she clutched at his broad shoulders for support. This was way too close to the drowning.

 

Willow frowned at Giles. "Well that was no fun. All spelled up and nowhere to go."

 

"Yes, well, perhaps next time." He used Angel's sword to lift the amulet from the floor. Carefully, he carried it to the box and after letting it slide off the blade and into its velvet bed, he shut the lid. Firmly.

 

"This is a very nice blade, Angel." Giles paused to admire the broadsword. Picking up the bag the box had been in, he wiped the green goo from the blade. "Dear Lord, is this Toledo steel?"

 

It ain't a ginsu, buddy.

 

Angel smiled slightly as he helped Buffy to her feet. She leaned against his chest, letting the big hands rubbing up and down her back soothe her heart back to a less than stroke level rhythm.

 

"Come on, Xander." Willow tugged on Xander's arm trying to get him to stand up. "Time to get up."

 

"I don' wanna go to school…" He blinked at her. "My science teacher's a bug…"

 

"Yeah, I remember that, but it's over." She smacked his face lightly. "Don’t make me slap you – so don't want to do that."

 

"We need to get the others free." Giles began carefully slicing through the other cocoons. "I think the spider and the woman were somehow both possessed."

 

"Turned into one evil critter?" Willow took the dagger and began cutting open cocoons as well. "Like a Transformer, only demonic and icky."

 

"That explains the draining of blood from the victims along with the removal of the soul." He helped a groggy young man pull free from his sticky prison. "It's no wonder it wasn't in the text."

 

"So you can add it." She grimaced as a man fell out of the cocoon she'd been cutting on. He hit the floor with a thwacking sound. "Sorry."

 

"She kissed me." Buffy rubbed her face against Angel's shirt, using the velvet to wipe her mouth clean. "Do I look like I'm into girls?"

 

I dunno, but I'd be fun to find out. Angelus smacked his lips. Buff and the redhead? Oh, I'd like some of that action.

 

Angel ignored the pornographic images and tipped Buffy's face up. "She wasn't kissing you, she was trying to suck your soul out."

 

"Oh well that's – " She screwed up her face in disgust. "Even worse."

 

Gently, Angel lowered his lips to hers. His lips felt bruised and burned, and he assumed that Buffy's did as well. Her lips were swollen as they were after they'd been kissing for a long time.

 

Angel's cool lips soothed the stinging, and Buffy sighed and parted her lips as his tongue licked along them.

 

Normally, I'm all for whenever, wherever – Angelus interrupted. But this is really not the place.

 

Lifting his head, Angel saw that there were several groggy people in the room with them. "We should go."

 

"Yep." She gave him one last soft kiss. "We'll make a call and let Sunnydale's finest clean up the mess."

 

"Wonder what they'll make of all this?" Angel took his sword back from Giles, smiling at the other man's reluctance to give it up.

 

"Gang on PCP, same as always." Buffy snuggled into Angel's side as they left.

 

"Mom, can I heat the pop tarts up this morning?" Xander asked Willow as she helped him walk out of the room. "They're better when they're warm."

 

 

 

 

"You're sure that you're all right?"

 

"I'm fine." Buffy patted Giles' hand. "Go take care of the box."

 

"I'm too old for the school bus." Xander pouted.

 

"And Xander." She giggled as Willow pushed Xander back in his seat.

 

As the Gilesmobile sputtered away into the night, Buffy walked up to her front porch with Angel lagging behind.

 

"Hey, come on in." She unlocked the front door.

 

"Your mom – "

 

"Not home."

 

My kind of mom.

 

Joyce Summers was entirely too neglectful a mother in Angel's opinion.

 

And I say again – my kind of mom.

 

"Are you okay?" Buffy shut the door behind them as they walked inside. Angel had been quiet – quieter – than usual during the drive.

 

"I – " He sat down on the sofa and ran a hand through his hair. "If she'd taken my soul – "

 

"But she didn't." Sitting next to him, she took his hands in hers, surprised to find they were trembling.

 

"If my soul were gone – Angelus would be free."

 

And we'd have fun, fun, fun!

 

"Angel – " Buffy put her arms around him and pulled him to her. "Don't worry – that can't happen."

 

He did worry. Angelus would love to get his hands on Buffy. If he were free, raping and killing her would be at the top of his list. He'd been forced to watch the demon's fantasies.

 

You forgot the torturing. The demon purred. Long hours of pain and fear – sweet delicious fear…

 

Angel shivered and buried his face against Buffy's throat. Her arms tightened around him, and she patted his back in a soothing gesture.

 

"Shh…" She kissed his cheek as he snuffled at her neck. "Shh… it'll never happen, Angel, you'll never lose your soul."

 

The scent of her skin and vanilla was comforting, and Angel closed his eyes, listening to her blood sing a gentle song to him.

 

 

 

 

"Here you are." Giles handed the box to the two men the Council had sent.

 

"We'll lock it away with the others." One of the men unlocked a briefcase he'd brought and set the box inside the padded interior.

 

"One more thing." Giles placed a large sticker on the lid. "There. That should do."

 

"Hmm…" The two men looked at it and grinned.

 

Warning: evil magical item inside! Do not touch!

 

 

 

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