"Dangerous Sanctuary"

Chapter 9

"'Bout time," Ford said as Buffy joined him in his booth at the Bronze.

"Sorry," she lied, "we had to run down a few leads."

Ford shrugged and turned his attention back to the band.  He made it very clear on several occasions that he didn't like to be reminded that she was the Slayer.  He never asked about her work and he discouraged her from speaking about it.  Whenever he introduced her to his friends, which wasn't often, he never mentioned her last name or what she did for a living.

I won't even try to pretend that's in character.  I needed Ford to be a jerk, ergo he is a jerk.  Evil machinations aside, I get the feeling that Ford could have dealt with his girlfriend being the Slayer.

Buffy settled back against the cushions of the booth.  At least she didn't have to worry about him touching her.  She was still visibly bruised from the run-in that she and Angel had with the nest of DHSTs.  Ford never touched her when she had any visible imperfections.  He didn't like them.

Or, at least, that's what he said.  Maybe he just didn't like her and that was a convenient excuse to avoid touching her at all.

Buffy pushed away the thought.  What good would it do to think such things?  It wasn't like she could do any better.  At least Ford would be seen with her in public.  Most guys wouldn't dare date a Slayer, regardless of how much they might be able to gain from the association.  She knew that Ford got ribbed by his friends about being physical with someone so much stronger than himself.  Most male egos couldn't take the constant criticism.

That's really not something that was ever really dealt with on the show, at least on the large scale.  Yeah, we got a few of Riley's insecurities and you got the impression that people knew Buffy was strong, but on the whole there wasn't any male avoidance due to her strength, which never really rang true for me.  Especially in a high school setting.  I do think it would have been a big deal.

Buffy thought about it for a moment.  She couldn't remember the last time any guy had been able to hold his own in a fight with her. She had always been freakishly strong, even as a small child.  She had no memory of ever being bested in a fight by a guy.

Except ...  for Angel.  But he wasn't a guy, he was a ...  Well, he was something else.  Sure, he could hold his own in a fight with her, they both generally won as much as they lost against each other.  And he never seemed to mind that she was so strong.  Much the contrary, he often gave her fighting tips.  And he'd told her never to be ashamed of her strength ...

And he said she was sexy as hell.

Buffy felt a blush rise in her cheeks at the thought of Angel's words.  She was the Slayer, and he was a vampire, but she couldn't deny that there was a definite attraction there.  Buffy sighed wearily.  Thinking about this made her head hurt.

*****

"You look chipper this evening," Giles commented sarcastically as Angel snarled at the text he was attempting to translate.  When the vampire didn't respond, Giles asked, "Where's Buffy?"

"With Ford," Angel bit out.

"Oh," came the Watcher's quiet reply.

"What?" Angel snapped.

"I take it you don't like Ford," Giles said calmly.

"No, I don't," Angel said, and then added, "and I don't like how Buffy acts around him."

Giles nodded, pouring a cup of tea for both himself and the vampire.  "At times it appears she is trying to live in two different worlds," he said quietly.

"That's putting it mildly," Angel grumped.

Giles gave him a chiding look.  "If I were you," he said, "I wouldn't be so quick to judge.  She's young and she is trying to maintain two completely divergent lives.  I'm sure at times it's all she can do to keep her head above water."

Angel frowned, but took a sip of tea as he looked at the Watcher.  Giles definitely had a point.  While Buffy was a Slayer and very comfortable in that role, she was also a young woman.  A young woman that had never been afforded the opportunity to act as one.

"Somehow I doubt the fact that you're enamored of her helps your objectivity any," Giles added quietly.

Angel opened his mouth to protest, but then snapped it shut.  Obviously Giles was as aware of his affections for Buffy as Holtz had been.  Somehow, he didn't think Buffy was quite as clear on the concept.  Or maybe she was, and she just didn't care.

Angel intended to share his good news about Caritas with Buffy that evening, but obviously plans hadn't gone as he hoped.  For a moment, he debated going to Caritas without her, but then decided against it.  He knew how important the discovery would be to her, and irritated or not, he wouldn't be that much of a jerk.

*****

"This place?" Buffy asked the next evening as she warily eyed the supposedly abandoned warehouse.

"That's what she said," Angel replied blandly.

"She?" Buffy asked, cocking an eyebrow speculatively.

Ah, the passive agressive starts ...

"Her name is Fred," Angel replied.  "She seemed like a pretty sweet kid.  I met her at the Council ball.  She is a friend of Anya's would-be boyfriend."

"She's a vamp," Buffy declared, knowing that Anya's admirer, Xander, was a vampire and that if Fred had been working at the ball, she was a DHST as well.

"So?" Angel countered, quietly daring her to give him a lecture on vampire behavior.

"Never mind," she said in exasperation, irritated that Angel had neglected to mention meeting another female.

Buffy started on a slow circuit of the building, looking for a doorway or window that showed signs of heavy traffic.  About five minutes later, on the back end of the building where it abutted a small grove of trees, they found a loading dock.  They watched it for nearly half an hour from the cover of trees.

"That's it," Angel said after they watched an untagged DHST enter through a hidden doorway, his neck and wrists dyed black from the leather bands he somehow managed to remove.

Rogue DHSTs were rare, but not exceedingly so.  Vampires had been admitted to the city for nearly a century and a half.  The human population was verging on ten million, but the DHSTs still numbered only in a couple tens of thousands.  Every now and then, one of them would go rogue, remove its tags, and live in The City's underground.  For the most part they were harmless, avoiding humans at all costs.  It generally wasn't time efficient to hunt them down and remove them.  So long as they didn't start massing in large numbers, the Watchers' Council turned a blind eye.  Buffy had caught sight of them every now and then on patrol, but she never knew any of them to be aggressive.

"You're sure?" she asked, wary of following the rogue.

He looked at her for several seconds and nodded curtly.  "I can smell them," he said with a mocking smile.

Buffy turned away lest she say something to him and they get into a huge fight in the middle of their recon mission.  He had been copping an attitude all evening.  She knew it was because of the whole mess with Ford the previous evening.  But why should she have to defend herself to Angel?  It was none of his business.

"You coming?" Angel asked and Buffy suddenly realized he was heading towards the loading dock.

"What are you doing?" she hissed, her head whipping around wildly to see if anyone was watching them.

"Going inside," he said evenly, like he had been invited over for afternoon tea.  Much to Buffy's horror, Angel shrugged and walked over to the loading docks.  It took him several moments, but he eventually located the door the vamps used to gain access to the building.  Pulling it open, he looked at her in blatant challenge.

With a muttered curse, she picked up the gauntlet he threw down and left the cover of the trees.  Angel stepped through the door and waited for Buffy.  When she cleared the threshold, he pulled the door shut again, making sure it looked just as it had before they passed through it.  The lighting was dim, but sufficient for the Slayer to make out their surroundings.  They stood, close together, in a long, narrow hallway.

Angel shrugged off his jacket and handed it to Buffy.

"I'm not cold," she said.

"I don't care if you're cold or not, put it on," he replied acridly.

"Why?"

He glared at her in the darkness.  "How is it," he asked, "that you're so good at hunting vampires without understanding them at all?"

Buffy flushed, thankful for the bad lighting, but remained silent.

"Smell is very important to us DHSTs," he said.  "You smell like a Slayer, so take this coat and wrap it around yourself.  It won't completely disguise it, but it should muddle it."

Silently, Buffy took the black leather jacket that Giles had given Angel some weeks earlier, and pulled it on.  It was far too large for her and she had the bunch the sleeves up so her hands cleared the material.  When she had the jacket situated, Angel grabbed her wrist and pulled it up to his face.  Buffy was irritated with the vampire, but she still trusted him, so she didn't pull away as he pressed the inside of her wrist to his mouth.  The action was slow and deliberate as he licked her wrist.  When he was done with one wrist, he dropped it and grabbed the other, repeating the action.  He pulled away and looked at her with a frown.

"Don't get upset," he said quietly.

"What are you talking about?" she asked, trying to shake off how strange the gesture had made her feel.

"I need to ... " he started. "I need to mark your neck."

"Mark?" she asked.

He sighed in exasperation.  "I told you that smell is really important to vampires.  We mark our possessions."

Buffy turned her wrist over and looked at it.  "You ... marked ... me?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied cautiously.  "Don't worry, it'll wear off in a day or two and only vampires can sense it.  But I need to get a few more of your pulse points."

"This will make me smell like a vamp?" she asked.

He was silent.

"Angel?"

"No," he finally replied.  "It will make you smell like a kept human.  But more importantly, it will mask the fact that you're a Slayer."

"Oh," Buffy said quietly.

She looked at the tags on his neck and around his wrists.  The tags that proclaimed to the entire City that he was her property.  She couldn't help but think back to his suite on the night of the Council ball and she swallowed convulsively.  The situation had been reversed, with her removing the marks from his neck and wrists, while he was here intentionally doing the opposite to her.  Yet, she felt hot and anxious, much as she had the night in his room.  "Okay," she said quietly.

Slowly and carefully, Angel reached for her.  They were well used to each other's presence, but she was still the Slayer and allowing any vampire near her neck was bound to set off some primal warning bells.  He pulled her closer and closer, until their bodies were in full contact from chest to knee.  He watched as her fingers curled into the material of his shirt, clutching it tightly out of nervousness.

Much to his shock, she flipped her head, baring her neck to him.  She didn't look at him, her vision firmly fixed on the center of his chest, but he almost trembled at the force of the gesture.

With an unsteady hand, he reached up and cupped the back of her head, twining his fingers through her loose locks and urging her to bare even more of her vulnerable throat.  She did, without hesitation.  He maneuvered her closer, until her forehead was resting against the solid wall of his chest.  She was nervous, he could tell that much, but she wasn't giving him any resistance.  He lowered his head so that his lips were resting at her temple.  They were both breathing hard and her fists closed even tighter around the material of his shirt.

"You okay?" he asked quietly as one hand gently gripped her hip and the other massaged her scalp.

She nodded against his chest, taking a deep breath and releasing it.  She pressed herself more fully into him, silently encouraging him to get on with it.

He pressed a hard kiss to her temple before his lips ventured lower.  He maintained constant contact, skin to skin, so as to not to startle her by suddenly touching his not-quite-human temperature lips to her neck.  He nuzzled against her, pressing his lips to the hollow beneath her ear.

She sucked in a startled breath, pulling tightly on the fabric of his shirt.  Angel stilled, but didn't remove his lips from her flesh.  She didn't pull away.

He gave a fleeting thought to the wisdom of pulling her so tightly against himself.  He wasn't toying with her or inventing excuses to touch her.  They were ready to walk into what they both assumed would be a large nest of renegade DHSTs.  They weren't there to do battle, they were there to get information.  It was imperative that the vamps not realize that she was the Slayer.  The easiest way of insuring her anonymity was by marking her.

It was business.

At least that's what he told himself.  His body didn't seem to care if it was business or not, and was reacting instinctively, exactly as it had on the previous occasion they were touching so intimately.  Pressed as tightly as she was against him, there was no way that Buffy could miss the insistent press of his arousal.  Nor was he apt to miss her excitement.  He could feel the sharp points of her erect nipples pressed into his chest through the multiple layers of clothing.

Without conscious thought he started purring, a low, deep rumble buried in his chest.  His lips parted and he suckled the flesh of her neck with infinite care.  He gently nipped and licked, leaving his scent on her warm flesh as a calling card.  He was claiming her, publicly stating that she was his.

Angel didn't still as Buffy's hands released his shirt.  He was certain that she was going to push him away, but instead, her hands twined around his neck, holding his head to her, pressing him more forcefully into her flesh.

He took the hint, gripping her more tightly, nipping a little more forcefully.  He bit down on her flesh with blunt teeth.  It wasn't hard enough to break the skin, but it might bruise.  He felt himself grow harder at the thought of her bearing his mark.  He growled lightly, pressing his lower body against her.  She let out an almost inaudible moan of pleasure in response, digging her fingers into the corded muscles of his neck.  Angel's entire being throbbed.  He could smell the way her body was reacting and it made him want to do more than just mark her with his kisses.  Slowly, thoroughly, he worked his way from one side of her neck to the other, pressing kisses from her jaw to her collarbone.  Eventually, his lips rested in the hollow under her opposite ear, his job completed.

Angel suddenly became aware of the fact that they had moved.  Buffy's back was flush against the cold concrete wall of the hallway and he was pressing into her forcefully, sparing her none of the bulk of his weight.  Their legs were entwined and her hands now gently sifting through the hair at the nape of his neck.  He was all too aware of the harsh sound of her ragged breathing as it echoed in the hallway.  Neither of them moved to end the embrace.

Slowly, Buffy shifted, but rather than moving away, she pressed her cheek into Angel's.  The vampire pressed back, sliding his flesh along hers as his mouth rooted for its mate.  The first contact was tentative, lip to lip.  Angel started to pull back so he could look at her, but she wouldn't let him.  Somewhat clumsily, she pulled his head back to hers.

It was all the incentive he needed.  With the practiced ease of almost three centuries of experience, he kissed her.  It was gentle, rather than an assault.  He slowly circled the plump fullness of her lips with the tip of his tongue, silently begging admittance, but allowing her every chance to refuse.  She didn't refuse him.  Her lips parted, meeting his with hungry abandon.  He nibbled on her bottom lip and she repaid him in kind.  Tentatively, his tongue made shallow forays into her mouth, coaxing her to do the same.  She did, hesitantly exploring the texture of his mouth, astounded by its cool, sweet taste.

She moaned into his mouth, a heady, needy sound.  Angel swallowed her plaintive wail with his kisses, but instinctively moved his lower body against hers, grinding his aching hardness against the juncture of her thighs.  She gasped, but before he could pull away, she kissed him harder, more hungrily.  She widened her stance and threw one leg over his thigh.

Warning bells went off in Angel's head and he almost growled in frustration.  As much as it pained him to stop, he knew they must.  Slowly, he pulled back from Buffy.  She let out an unhappy whine and attempted to pull him close again.  With more than a little effort on his part, mental, as well as physical, he moved his hands to his neck and wrapping his fingers around her wrists, freed himself from her grasp.  He pulled back and looked into her wide, startled eyes.

"Buffy," his lips caressed her name.

She blinked rapidly and her vision flitted around the space nervously, as if she couldn't believe what had just happened.  He methodically untwined their legs and stepped back so that he was leaning against the far wall.  Given how cramped the hallway was, he didn't go far.

His eyes caught hers once again, but rather than the relief he had expected to see there from having released her, all he saw was hurt and embarrassment.  She blinked back tears, instinctively wrapping her arms around herself.  Without thinking, he grabbed her forearm and pulled her hard against his body, gathering her in his embrace.  Regardless of her earlier distress, she burrowed her head against his chest.  He rocked her slowly, trying to soothe her as well as himself.  Both of them were completely overwhelmed, unprepared for the fact that their business had quite suddenly become starkly intimate and mutual.

Angel didn't know how long they stood in the narrow hallway, but it was a safe bet that it had been too long.  They needed to get moving, and fast.  "Buffy," he said, "we need to get inside."

She pulled back far enough to look up at him and nodded slowly, trying to push away any lingering awkwardness.

"We'll talk about this later," he said, leaving her no doubt what exactly 'this' meant.  "But right now, we have to finish the mission."

She swallowed harshly and nodded again, not trusting herself to speak.  Her emotions were in perfect turmoil at the moment.

"You're probably not going to like this," he said, "but you're going to have to follow my lead.  I need you to keep quiet and stay in the background.  Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself."

She sighed heavily, knowing it was going to be easier said than done.  She wasn't used to taking orders or remaining in the background, but at the moment, she didn't even trust herself to speak.

"Come on," he said, grabbing her hand and pulling her behind him.

Using strictly feedback that was privately emailed to me as a measure, that scene is by far the most popular thing I've ever written.  I was trying to explain this to someone the other day, but I think this is the first scene where I "got it".  I love smut.  I love nastiness.  But when I first started writing, I just wrote a lot of really horrible raunchy stories that make me cringe in embarrasment now.  I feel like this scene works and I feel like it was the very first smutty scene I ever wrote that really did work.  It's most certainly one of my few smut scenes that doesn't make me want to gouge out my eyes upon re-reading.

I think it works for a lot of reasons.  This is a long fic and these are the first smoochies we get ... in chapter 9 at just about halfway throughthe fic.  I know that was frustrating for a lot of readers, but I really think that waiting, that developing the rapport between the two characters made this scene that much better.

And on a different note, I like that this scene is absolutely necessary to the plot.  It isn't an aside.  It isn't something that is incedental to everything else happening.  It's central.  We get that in Angel's thoughts.  He *has* to mark her.  He isn't playing, he isn't making up excuses to touch her.  They're walking into a very dangerous situation and in order to keep them both safe, he has to do this.  She has to let him.  So on the surface it's this very straight forward exchange.  But once it starts it really morphs into something completely different and completely shocking for both of them.  I like that they're both freaked out at the end.  I like that it wasn't premeditated.

[End Chapter 9]
 
 
 
 

Chapter 10

"Layers"

"You made it!" Fred squeaked with obvious enthusiasm as she came to a skittering halt in front of Angel.

He smiled warmly at her and nodded.  Fred was positively glowing as she looked at him.  Buffy's gaze raked over the tall, thin girl ruthlessly.  Fred was pretty and feminine, even outfitted in the standard issue DHST attire and tags.  She looked like an adorable little farm girl, innocent and sweet.  Buffy suddenly wondered just how well the two were acquainted.  She stepped back from Angel.

Or tried to, anyway.  As the Slayer stepped back, Angel countered perfectly, shifting his weight and exerting just enough force to pull her flush against his side.  He quickly wrapped a strong arm around her shoulders, pinning her to his body with enough force for it to be a warning.

Fred's gaze shifted to the petite blonde in Angel's embrace.  Though her gaze wasn't as nakedly reproachful as Buffy's had been, she studied the other female from head to toe.  She took a deep breath that caused her nostrils to flare and quickly frowned.  Her enthusiasm waned by degrees.

"Fred," Angel said, "this is Buffy."

Fred tried to hide her disappointment behind a cheery smile.  "Hi," she said, waving enthusiastically.  "I didn't know Angel had a mate."

Angel squeezed Buffy so tightly that she couldn't have spoken if she wanted to.  She merely nodded in greeting.  Slowly, Angel relaxed his grip.

"Come on," Fred said, "have a seat."

Angel followed, pulling Buffy with him as they pushed through the crowded space.  He paused every now and then to acknowledge other DHSTs he knew.  "Willow," he said with a nod to his former friend who was now employed in the library.  She nodded in return, but quickly turned her gaze back to her companion.

*****

They sat and spoke with Fred for close to two hours while they waited for the elusive Lindsey to show.  Buffy spent the entire time glued to Angel.  Much to her own surprise, she wasn't too unhappy with the situation.  She had no idea what had happened in the hallway upstairs.  One second she had been trying to repress her natural instinct to stake a vamp and the next she was climbing all over him and whining for more.

Angel didn't seem to be too bothered, or at least he was hiding it well, chatting easily with Fred as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  Buffy blushed.  She knew he had been excited earlier.  She could still remember the feel of his rigid sex pressing against her abdomen as he purred in her ear.  The memory made her body tingle low in her belly and she felt hungry for more.  She hadn't even realized vampires could purr.

She shook her head to clear it and reached for her drink, taking a large gulp of the quickly cooling coffee.  She couldn't be having these thoughts.  She just couldn't.

Angel caught her gaze, idly rubbing the flesh on the back of her hand with his fingertips.  The gesture was shockingly intimate ... and pleasurable.  There was a determined look in his eyes that gave Buffy pause.  She had a sinking feeling that she wouldn't be able to tell him no.  Swallowing harshly, she looked away, but she couldn't bring herself to brush off his caress.  Buffy had never thought herself overly fond of being touched, by anyone, but maybe that was changing.  Ford rarely touched her in public.  What a joke.  Ford rarely touched her in private.  And when he did, it sure as hell wasn't in the same zip code as what had happened when Angel had touched her.

While the two vampires talked, Buffy's body may have been focusing its attention on Angel, but her eyes roamed the room.  Caritas, as it was called, was located in the basement of the abandoned building.  There were a shockingly high number of DHSTs.  There were legitimate vampires, as well as the rogues who were easily identified by the black rings of stained skin around their neck and wrists.  They didn't wear tags, but they were still clearly marked.

What was even more shocking to Buffy than the number of vamps, was the number of humans.  There were at least several dozen people in attendance, clearly because they were mates of the DHSTs hiding out in Caritas.  Men, women, young and old were there, people from all walks of life.  Several of the people, Buffy recognized.  An attractive brunette woman in her early forties, clearly the mate of a blonde vampire who appeared to be about twenty-five, was a clerk at the library.  A few people wrote to thank me for putting Spike and Dru in the fic ....   ?  That's not Spike and Dru.  She smiled openly when she saw Buffy with Angel, approval clearly evident on her features.  Buffy blushed, hiding her face against Angel's shoulder.  Looking in the direction Buffy had been watching, Angel figured out why Buffy had reacted, he nodded to the woman in reply, a smug grin on his beautiful features.

"You're liking this way too much," Buffy muttered under her breath while Fred was away, procuring more drinks for the three of them.

Angel smiled wickedly.  "You're liking it too," he said quietly.

Buffy blushed again as she realized he could feel the aching tips of her nipples pushing into his arm.  She didn't move away from him, though she knew it would have been for the best.

The night progressed and she and Angel made several promising contacts through Fred.  It was fairly late when Lindsey finally showed, ordering a double vodka tonic and settling down into a dark corner alone.  They decided to give him a while to relax before they approached him.

They never got the chance.

*****

"I'm sorry to interrupt."

"Oh, you're not interrupting," Fred said cheerily to a lanky, dark haired human in his early thirties.  He was dressed conservatively in a light blue dress shirt and a pair of tan slacks.  He looked oddly out of place in the sea of black.

"I hate to break up your conversation," Wesley continued, his mood very sober, "but I'm afraid I need to speak with these two alone."

Fred smiled.  Wesley's words seemed innocuous enough on the surface, but both Buffy and Angel were aware of the dozen large vampires flanking the man from a distance.  The vampires wore no tags and were dressed in street clothes rather than the DHST attire.  It was safe to assume they were rogue.  Everything was being kept polite, but Buffy and Angel knew that if they resisted, that force would be used.  Fred seemed oblivious to the undercurrent of tension.

"It would be our pleasure," Angel replied blandly, rising from the couch and pulling Buffy behind him.  His movement forced Wesley to take several steps back.  The human retreated, but his eyes never wavered.  Buffy was impressed.  Humanity at large may have deemed vampires to be unwarranting of their attention, but few of them would have held their ground in light of Angel's obviously aggressive move.  Wesley was no lightweight.

*****

I remember arguing with Tram about this section though honestly I can't remember why now.  I'm pretty sure she wanted Wes to talk to Angel, not Buffy, or at the very least, to both of them together.  It was very important to me that Wes talk to Buffy.  She's the Slayer, he's the Watcher, everyone else in the club is a vampire.  I needed the exchange to occur between them, as humans, as employees of the Council.

"Nice place you've got here," Angel remarked casually as the door slid shut.  They were standing in a room obviously used as an office area.  They were still accompanied by the vampire guards and Angel kept Buffy glued to his side.

Wesley watched them carefully.  "Yes," he said, "it is.  And I would like to keep it that way.  Now if the lady would please accompany me into my office ..."  He gestured to a closed door.

Angel tightened his grip on Buffy.  "Fred invited me here," Angel said truthfully.  "I brought a ... friend along.  I didn't get the impression we were doing anything out of the ordinary.  Why is it such a concern?"  His calm words belied the tension Buffy could feel in his body.

Wesley smiled mirthlessly.  "It is a concern because none of the other DHSTs seeking refuge under my care have ever dared to bring a Slayer with them."

Angel's body went absolutely rigid.  "I don't know what you're talking about," he blustered.

"Oh, but I think you do," Wesley said, narrowing his gaze menacingly.  "You will wait out here while I speak with Miss Summers privately."

Angel opened his mouth to speak, but Buffy silenced him.  "He's a Watcher," Buffy said quietly, never taking her eyes off of their adversary.  "His name is Wesley Wyndham-Price."

Wesley smiled and nodded.  "I spend most of my time in Archives, but I have had several occasions to meet the current Slayer," he explained evenly.  "I'm shocked you remember me."

Buffy shrugged.  "I'm good with faces," she said plainly.

"Obviously," he countered.  "Now if you would, please."

"She's not going anywhere alone," Angel said, his voice full of menace.

"She has no choice," Wesley replied dryly, adding a smile.

"This is supposed to be a sanctuary," Angel ground out.  "We are here, vampire and human, obviously together and you question our motives?"

"They're not your motives he questions," Buffy said insightfully.  "They're mine."

Once again emphasising that the exchange here is between the humans.  It's a case where Angel can't help Buffy.  I really needed that here.  I needed Buffy to be the Slayer.  I'm not a fan of damsel in distress Buffy.  She's the city's executioner, she's a professional and an adult, I don't like seeing her relegated to being Angel's girlfriend.

Wesley nodded slowly, turning his attention to Angel.  "You are a vampire," he said.  "By default you are given the benefit of my doubt.  She, however, is not."

Angel opened his mouth, but Buffy cut him off.  "I'll be fine, Angel," she said, forcing Angel to turn and face her.  He didn't look happy.  "We need to talk to him," she said quietly, lacing the fingers of both of her hands through his and squeezing lightly.  "I'll be okay, I promise."  Buffy was well aware that their exchange was not that of supervisor to employee, but of two people with a strong personal relationship.

Angel sighed, but took a step back, releasing her.  He didn't look thrilled, but he was resigned.  Buffy nodded at Wesley and followed him as he led her into the small office.  He took a seat behind the shabby desk and offered her a seat in the only chair.  She slid into it gracefully.

"You're either a hell of an actress, or you're walking a very dangerous line," Wesley said.

Buffy smiled mirthlessly.  "We're here to discuss you, not me," she said.  "I'll worry about where I walk."

"As you wish," Wesley replied blandly.  "Why are you in my club?"

"I'm looking for evidence of an organized DHST uprising," she said candidly.  "Though, I'll admit that I was expecting to find Maggie Walsh pulling the strings, not a Watcher."

Wesley sighed deeply and sank back in his chair, a frown creased his forehead as he studied the young woman sitting across from him.  He steepled his hands in front of himself in a thoughtful gesture.  "So the Council is aware of Walsh's treachery?" he asked.

"Aware that something is up, yes," she replied.  "The specifics are hard to come by."

"I had not heard anything to indicate that the Council had any idea," the Watcher said honestly.

"Are you involved?" Buffy pressed.

Wesley shook his head vehemently.  "Most certainly not," he said with a disdain only a Watcher could affect.  "Maggie Walsh is an affront to all of my sensibilities.  The woman should be removed from The City and banished."

"If you've known about her for so long," Buffy asked, "then why didn't you alert the Council?  You obviously have their ear."

Wesley swallowed harshly, his expression both guilty and angry.  He had apparently been grappling with that very subject for quite a while.  "I could not expose Maggie Walsh," he explained.  "My situation is very ... precarious ... to say the least.  Pointing the finger at Walsh would have drawn attention to me, my activities, my private life.  I couldn't do that.  It is not self-interest that motivates me.  I have others that depend on me."

"Then what are you doing?" Buffy asked.

"Exactly what it looks like," Wesley replied, indignantly.  "I provide a sanctuary for DHSTs living in The City.  A lot, but not all, of them are rogue.  I give them an alternative to sacrificing themselves for Walsh's cause or out of simple despair."

"Sacrifice?" Buffy asked.

"The Council's treatment of DHSTs is deplorable," Wesley said vehemently.  "They are beings with human souls, yet they are treated as if they are merely lobotomized demons.  They are given virtually no rights, no protections by the society that they have sworn to serve.  They are treated like refuse.  A large number of them are empathetic, caring, intelligent beings and they deserve better."

Buffy nodded.  She knew first hand that everything Wesley was saying was true.

"Walsh is a cold, mercenary bitch," Wesley bit out.  "She preys upon the misery and disillusionment which are so prevalent in the DHST community.  She is heavily recruiting from their numbers for something which she knows to be a suicide mission."

"What is she planning?" Buffy asked.

"A revolt," Wes replied bluntly.  "She plans an armed uprising against The Council and she will use them as her pawns."

Buffy had suspected as much, but hearing it laid out so coldly still shocked her.  How could Walsh even attempt such an atrocity?  It was beyond the pale.  "She wouldn't dare," Buffy hissed.

Wesley laughed mirthlessly.  "Oh yes she would," he said.  "Maggie Walsh resents having to bend to the Council's regulations on her labs and experiments.  She thinks she knows what is best for humanity.  She desires total autonomy and she thinks she's made a deal which will ensure it."

Buffy went cold.  It was unthinkable.  "Walsh isn't working alone?" she asked.

"Maggie Walsh is a scientist," Wesley explained.  "She doesn't have the financial resources necessary to instigate something of this magnitude.  She's not stupid.  She knows that Nabbit Industries won't back her once they find out what she's really up to.  She's sold her proverbial soul to the devil so she can be free of the Council's sanctions."

"Varkesh?" Buffy asked, horrified at the very idea.

"Yes," Wesley replied.

*****
"I can't believe it," Buffy mumbled as she walked down the street blindly.  She was still reeling hard from Wesley's revelations and had quickly explained to Angel what had happened in the private meeting.  She hadn't even noticed that Angel's hand was still clamped firmly around her own.

"Human avarice knows no bounds," Angel said dryly.

Buffy turned her head and looked at him.  She couldn't deny the veracity of his statement.  Walsh was about to sell her own species to the demons in return for the freedom to play God.

"Not to make light of the situation," Angel said, "but some other things happened tonight."

Buffy flushed, remembering the feel of his arousal pressed against her.  It was ridiculous but she felt some measure of pride in having him respond to her like that.  He was by his own admittance well acquainted with sexual intimacy.  He said he had many lovers and from the way he kissed, she had no trouble believing him.  But still, he could be excited by the freaksome Buffy Summers and she reveled in that knowledge.

"Yes," she said bluntly, "something definitely happened."

If the earlier kissing scene in the hall proved that I finally got it, this scene proves that I promptly lost it again.  Feh.  I hate this scene.  It's absurd.  It's smut for the sake of smut shoved into a section where it just doesn't fit.  There are elements of it that I like.  I like Buffy's agression and then her indecision.  I like her biting him, but on the whole, this scene should have been scrapped.  For Wesley to make the reveleations that he made and then for Buffy and Angel to go make out in a cemetary is beyond ridiculous.

He used his grip on her hand to slow her down as they neared one of the myriad of cemeteries they patrolled regularly.  She didn't object as he dragged her through the sea of tombstones and quickly made a beeline for one of the larger monuments.  He pushed open the door to the large marble crypt and pulled her inside.

Buffy didn't even have time to think before she found herself in Angel's arms once again as he pulled her into his lap and sat down on a cold stone bench.  Their position was somewhat precarious, with Angel seated on the bench and Buffy straddling his hips.  Neither of them moved.  Buffy could feel him, hard again, barely brushing against her.  His eyes held hers, filled with stark hunger.  Buffy swallowed harshly, but didn't look away.

His hands were suddenly on her body, lightly clasping her upper arms.  He waited, motionless to see if she would resist the contact; if she would throw off his grasp and retreat.

She didn't.

Angel took a deep, shaky breath and his hands slowly made their way down her body, gently massaging her arms, until his hands finally rested on her hips.  His fingers bit into her flesh, but it only excited her more, causing her breath to come in ragged bursts.  Slowly, he pulled her against him until she was no longer crouching over him, but firmly sitting in his lap.

They both gasped at the contact, and Buffy couldn't stop herself from riding more tightly against him, grinding down on his hardness while she pressed her chest against his.

"Buffy," he gasped, twining his fingers through her hair as he pulled her lips to his.

There was nothing shy or tentative about her this time.  Her mouth automatically opened under his, eagerly suckling his tongue.  He moaned, wrapping his arms around her so tightly that she could barely breathe, but still she didn't stop.  She pulled back long enough to take a breath and he turned the tides.  She was helpless as he gently nipped and sucked her lips, alternately using his tongue to tease and soothe.

While she definitely enjoyed what was happening, Buffy had never been the passive sort.  She already knew that he liked certain touches, so she put two and two together and decided that he would probably like other things as well ...

Angel yelped, grabbing her hips roughly and thrusting up against her as Buffy's teeth sank into the vulnerable flesh of his neck, just above his collar.  She bit him fairly hard, but not hard enough to break the skin.  She released him with her teeth and used her tongue to lave the wound.

"Did I hurt you?" she asked wickedly, removing her lips from his neck only long enough to utter the question.

"Gods ... yes ... do it again," Angel stuttered, too lost in sensation to think clearly.

Buffy smiled against his skin and bit down again, though not as hard as the first time.  A shudder went through his powerful frame and she could feel him swell even harder beneath her.  A stunning realization hit her.

She wanted him.

Not just to touch or tease or even talk to.  She wanted him physically.  She wanted to feel the hardness that tented the front of his trousers, demanding her attention.  She wanted to touch him and make him beg.  Never before had she ever been aware of any sexual power she might wield.  She always shied away from it for fear of scaring off whatever human male she was with, but Angel clearly wasn't afraid.  And he obviously liked it when she took the lead.

But she wasn't exactly sure where to lead.  Suddenly, her hands were clumsy and she was all too aware that he was the experienced partner while she was the novice.  What if she was making a fool of herself?  What if he was trying not to laugh at her?

"Buffy?" Angel asked tentatively when she suddenly went still.

She was silent, keeping her head buried under his chin.  Slowly, he pulled her back so he could see her face.  She wouldn't meet his gaze.

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked quickly.  "I didn't mean to rush.  I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."

Buffy shook her head.  "No," she said, "you didn't do anything wrong, it's just ... "

"Just what?" Angel asked nervously.  He was going to stake himself if he just messed up things with Buffy because he couldn't control himself.

"I don't know what to do," she said in a tiny voice.

Angel looked at her incredulously.  "You were doing just fine," he said so seriously that it made Buffy smile.

"Was I?" she asked meekly.

"Yes," he replied with a wicked grin that made Buffy's body tingle.

She leaned forward to kiss him, but then stopped abruptly, her body going rigid.  Angel looked at her plaintively, but then he heard it too.  Every sense went on alert.  Someone outside was calling his name quietly.  Angel and Buffy crept out of the crypt and peeked around the corner.  Lindsey was searching the cemetery, quietly calling out to Angel.

"He has wonderful timing," Angel said dryly, his displeasure evident.

Buffy couldn't help but smile.  He frowned at her in return and pulled her close for a hard, quick kiss.

"Go on," he said.  "Odds are he won't talk to me with you around.  I'll meet you back at the library later."

Buffy nodded and left quickly.  They needed Lindsey and whatever information he might be able to provide, but it didn't make her any more happy about leaving Angel.

[End Chapter 10]

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