The Gryphon’s Secrets
By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: set after Reptile Boy and before Halloween
Author’s note 2: Thanks to Ralkana for saying “He's got a tattoo representing the sunrise on his back?” Many thanks to my boss, Aaron, for letting me pick his brain about tattooing techniques as well as vampire lore.
“Can I see your tattoo?”
“Can you – “ Angel lifted his mouth from Buffy's neck. “I – sure.”
She watched as he pulled off his leather coat and unbuttoned his shirt. He hesitated for a moment before pulling the velvet shirt off. “Shy?”
“A little.” He turned so she could see his back.
“I’ve seen you without your shirt before, remember?” Tracing the lines of the tattoo with a fingertip, Buffy licked her lips as the muscles under the pale skin rippled in response to her touch.
“That was different. You were bandaging my side, remember?”
“Something you really didn’t need, by the way.” She said dryly.
“Something I really couldn’t explain to you.” He turned to grin at her over his shoulder. “By the way.”
“True.” Buffy turned him just a little to let the candlelight shine more clearly on the tattoo. The flying creature was beautiful, head turned coyly to one side as if shy. “This is pretty.”
“Uh, thanks.” The tattoo was something Angelus had done, but he wasn’t sure he should tell Buffy that.
“Some kind of birdy thing?”
“Gryphon. A kind of hybrid. Part lion and part eagle.”
“Do I wanna know how it got that way?” She made an eww face.
“Probably not.” Definitely not. “The gryphon symbolizes duality and the treasure of the sun.”
“So… tell me… how did another Slayer see it?”
“See it?” It was a good thing his heart didn’t beat because it would have frozen. Buffy didn’t know. Couldn't know. Must never know. “See what?”
“Your tattoo.” He was ducking her question, and she knew it. Even the gryphon seemed to be hiding something.
“I, ah… what makes you think another Slayer has seen it?”
“I know about Angelus.” He flinched, and Buffy wished she hadn’t said it so bluntly. “After – when I found out you were a – are a – vampire – Giles did some research and he figured it out.”
Angel couldn’t move, couldn’t see or think. This was the moment he had dreaded. Buffy had found out everything about his past. Now she would turn on him. And he couldn’t blame her. Inside him, the demon laughed at his pain.
“Hey.” She wrapped her arms around him and kissed his cheek. His body was tense, the muscles bunched beneath her fingers. She shouldn’t have told him what she knew. After he’d revealed himself to her, he’d faced off against her at the Bronze, wanting her to kill him. Angel’s broodiness wasn’t faked, he had a guilty streak a mile wide.
Kissing the cool, soft skin, she tried to change the subject. “Why don’t you tell me how you got it?” That’s gotta be a safe enough story.
“I – Angelus got it.” He relaxed slightly as she laid her warm cheek against his. “He saw the design and liked it.”
“Why do I think there’s more to the story than that?”
“I – he – “ Angel hesitated. “His memories and mine are all mixed together, Buffy. I remember what he did, it’s –“
“I understand.” She didn’t, but she wanted him to relax. “Just say ‘I’, it’s okay. I get it.”
“I saw the design in a book and it caught my fancy. So I sketched it out and took it to a vampire who was a tattooist.” He shivered as she traced the dark lines.
“And how did this other Slayer see you naked?”
“The tattooist was really interesting.” Angel sidestepped the question. “He was a sailor, and he’d been to the Polynesian islands, and saw the tattooing done, and got into it.”
“A vamp on a sunny island?”
“He was turned later. But you’re right – plus it’s easier to track down and kill a vamp on an island.” He flashed past a memory of nearly being staked on just such an island paradise. “He came back to England, and tattooing was popular, so he set up shop.”
“A vamp tattoo parlor?” Buffy tried to imagine that. “Are you pulling my leg?”
“No. He even had to develop a special ink, so it would stay.”
“It’s nice and dark.” Maybe it was the contrast between his pale skin and the ink, but the lines looked dark black. “Don’t these things fade?”
“Magic.” Angel could feel her breath on the back of his neck. “A vampire’s skin will reject regular ink.”
“I like your skin.” It had never seemed strange to her that Angel’s skin was cool rather than warm. The difference was exciting. “Soft and cool.”
Buffy's lips touched the tattoo on his back, and Angel moaned softly. Her lips were warm and soft, and he wanted them back on his. Kissing Buffy was something he looked forward to more and more every day.
Kissing a path up to his neck, she tangled her fingers into his thick hair and tipped his head back, nipping at the pale skin of his throat. When Angel moaned and arched back against her, she nipped him again, harder this time.
She couldn’t know what she was doing. Angel shivered and fought down the urge to turn and take her, to sink his fangs into her throat and drink from her.
A small, warm hand slid over his chest to rest on his belly, her fingertips rubbing in small circles. Blunt teeth bit his neck and her tongue rubbed and sucked at his skin.
A growl rumbled through him. Buffy had unwittingly stumbled into vampiric foreplay. For a moment, he indulged himself, rolling his head to further expose his throat to her in an act of submission, and reaching up to stroke her hair.
Excited by his reaction, Buffy bit harder to the point of breaking the skin, and Angel growled softly once again. Her nipples hardened and ached, and she rubbed against his back seeking relief.
The pain was exquisite, and Angel tangled his hand in her hair, holding her mouth to his throat and urging her to bite harder. When her fingernails scraped up his belly and chest, and her fingers pinched and rolled his nipples, a snarl burst from him.
Turning, he pushed Buffy back on the sofa and covered her body with his own. Jerking her head back to bare her throat, he bit into the soft flesh. Earlier he had licked and kissed along the pulsing artery, now he wanted to pierce it and drink from her.
Buffy lay still beneath his weight. She wasn’t afraid; she knew Angel wouldn’t hurt her, and the combination of pleasure and pain was erotic. He was nipping her throat and grinding urgently against her, making her own body ache and throb.
When his hand pushed up under her skirt, and his cool fingers caressed the inside of her thigh, Buffy felt a bolt of panic. “Angel – Angel – wait!”
Pushing off of her, he turned away. Shame poured over him. Inside, his own personal demon howled in frustration.
She sat up and put her arm around his shoulders. “I’m sorry.”
“You – for what?” Angel turned to look at her. There were angry red marks on her throat where he had bitten and sucked at her skin. “I shouldn’t have – “
“No – it’s – I’m just not – “ She bit her lip. “You know?”
“I know.” He knew she was too young and too innocent. Much too innocent. Too pure for him.
“At least you’re not like Pike was.” Buffy rubbed a fingertip along the mark she’d made on his throat. “He didn’t understand the word ‘no’. Unless he was the one saying it.”
“You don’t know me, Buffy.” He looked away. “You don’t know.”
“I know all I need to know.” Cupping his face in her hand, she turned him to face her again. The chocolate eyes were sad. “I know that you’re not any worse than any other horny man. “ She paused. “I did make you horny, right?”
He smiled at that. “Very.”
“Good.” She grinned impishly.
The grin got him, as it always did. All the women he’d met, during a life and unlife that spanned over 250 years, and not one had bewitched him like Buffy did.
“So, now are you gonna tell me how she saw your tattoo?”
“The Slayer. The one who saw you naked.”
“I – didn’t – how – “Angel avoided her eyes. “What makes you think another Slayer saw me naked?”
“Giles found the tattoo mentioned in some old Watcher diary.”
“Really?” Damn, she’s like a dog with a bone! “Hmm… wow. I didn’t know that.”
“And yet the question goes unanswered.”
Leaning close, he kissed her pouty lips. Nibbling and sucking at her lower lip until her arms went around his neck and she pressed against him, her question forgotten.
“Mm… nice.” She licked her lips as she pulled back.
“Very nice.” A smile tugged at the corner of Angel’s mouth.
“You don’t – I mean – “
Buffy looked troubled suddenly, and he could guess why. “Make a habit of falling in love with Slayers? No.”
“Are I what?”
“Falling in love with a Slayer?” She asked softly.
“Oh – well – “ That wasn’t something he’d meant to let slip out. “Ah – I did once.”
“Once?” Her chest hurt suddenly.
“She was kind of cute. Had these big hazel eyes. And this impish grin that made her nose crinkle.” Angel tapped her nose with a fingertip.
“It is me, right?” Buffy frowned, her lower lip sticking out. “I’m this Slayer?”
“Did I mention the sexy little pout that drove me crazy?” He kissed her again, nipping at her lower lip.
“I’m your Slayer?”
“You’re my Slayer.”
“Yea, me.” She smiled and climbed up on his lap. Looping her arms around his neck, she kissed him, sucking his cool tongue into her mouth.
Glad that Buffy had finally dropped the question, Angel concentrated on kissing her silly. The memories of how another Slayer had seen the tattoo were too painful. He never wanted Buffy to find out the truth.
Within him, Angelus savored the memory of that Slayer and her Watcher, and the pain he’d caused them.
Shoving the demon and his violent memories into a back corner of his mind, Angel purred against Buffy's lips to make her giggle.
On his back, the gryphon kept her secrets to herself.
The Gryphon's Secrets ~ Angelus
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