Dead Ringers by indie
For Gia's birthday, one very late fic.  Happy birthday, sweetie!!
All credit for this story goes to Tango and smoochies for the title pic!
Thanks to Tram for the beta.
AUTHOR'S NOTE:  To those few of you who archive my work, this fic may NOT be archived.  It will be hosted *only* at my site.
The story is based very loosely on the novel by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland and subsequent film by David Cronenberg

Willow tapped Buffy on the shoulder and discretely pointed to the door.  Buffy twisted around as Willow whispered in her ear, “That’s him isn’t it?”

Buffy’s breath caught in her throat and she swallowed thickly before nodding.  “Angel,” she said breathily.

As a rule, Buffy thought Angel, the proprietor of the local occult store, was a hottie.  But tonight ... Damn.  Even she couldn’t have imagined how much a pair of extremely well-fitted leather pants could improve the view.

“He’s very ... “ Willow trailed off.

“Lickable,” Buffy answered automatically.  Willow giggled and Buffy realized what she had said, blushing furiously.  “I’m sorry,” Buffy said halfheartedly, “it’s just that he makes me want to do the wacky.”

“I can see why,” Willow answered honestly.  She too had caught glimpses of Angel before in the bookstore, but until tonight she hadn’t really shared Buffy’s interest in his looks.  In The Magic Box, he wore boring clothes, his hair was a spiky mess and he usually had his nose buried in a book only sparing a word here and there for his customers.  But tonight he was dressed in a pair of worn black leather pants, a blood red silk shirt and a black leather duster.  He made her insides melt just looking at him.  Who would have guessed that hottie was hiding inside of a bookworm?

“I need to, uh, check my makeup,” Buffy said nervously, standing to head for the bathrooms.  She started to push her way through the crowd, but stopped as Willow called her name loudly.

“Buffy!” she yelled, holding up Buffy’s purse which had all of her makeup in it.

Buffy grimaced, cursing her own forgetfulness and quickly scampered back to pluck the purse out of Willow’s grasp.  As she turned to resume her quest for a mirror, she almost ran into the object of her unbridled lust.  “Angel,” she said, looking up into his dark chocolate eyes.

He smiled at her wolfishly, appraising her from head to toe.  “Buffy,” he said lightly.

She grinned when he said her name.  She spent a lot of time in The Magic Box, looking for any excuse to be near him, but he had never really seemed to notice and she was almost certain that he had no idea what her name was.  “Hey,” she said in a near sigh.

His crooked smile deepened.  “I was really hoping to run into you here,” he said.

“You were?” she chirped and then tried to rein in her enthusiasm.  Guys didn’t like it if you were too over-eager.

“Yes,” he admitted bluntly.  “I thought maybe we could dance.”

“Dance?” she asked, swallowing thickly.  This was too good to be true.  “I love to dance.”

He held out his hand and Buffy took it.  As he started pulling her toward the dance floor, she turned around and tossed her purse back to Willow who caught it and gave her an enthusiastic thumbs up.  Given how cursory their earlier conversations had been, Buffy would have expected him to keep his distance.  But he didn’t.  The song was slow and sensuous.  He pulled her onto the dance floor and into his embrace, his hands resting firmly on her hips, holding her against him.  Buffy sighed and leaned into him.  She had been crushing on him for months without so much as a glimmer of hope.  She couldn’t believe this was happening.

He leaned down and his mouth brushed against the shell of her ear.  “We don’t talk much,” he said matter-of-factly.

She splayed her hands over his chest, loving the feel of him under her fingertips.  “No,” she admitted breathily, “we don’t.  You never seem very chatty.”

He leaned into her further and she looked up.  Their faces were mere centimeters apart.  “I’m shy,” he said quietly.

“Oh,” Buffy chirped, her tongue coming out to wet her lips.

His eyes followed the movement of her tongue and before she knew what was happening, he pulled her off the dance floor and pinned her to the wall.  She didn’t consider denying him for a moment and as his mouth descended on hers, her lips parted willingly.  Her fingers sifted through his hair as he pushed his tongue into her mouth, greedily searching out her own.  She moaned at the sharp sensation of pleasure his touch wrought.  Her nipples pebbled immediately and she rubbed them against his chest.  A growl of rich, masculine pleasure rumbled through him and he leaned against her tighter.  She could feel the insistent jut of his erection pressing into her stomach and she broke off the kiss, panting harshly.

He kissed along her neck, his hands roaming over her body.  Buffy’s mind was swimming.  She wanted this man.  She had wanted him for months and for him to just show up like this and take her had her senses reeling.  Her fingers bit into his shoulders and she mewled like a kitten as he suckled at her neck.

One of his hands rested on her bare thigh and slowly inched upward.  She wore a lavender halter top and her new black miniskirt which left the majority of her legs bare.  Angel took full advantage of the situation, his strong fingers biting into her thigh.  He urged her stance wider and Buffy complied immediately, squeezing her eyes shut.  This man got her hot like no other on the planet.

Buffy had always been popular with the guys, but before Angel, none of them had ever been irresistible.  But the moment she saw him behind the counter at The Magic Box, she was hooked.  She developed a sudden, acute interest in occult texts.  She started skipping watching football practice to hang out among dried chicken feet and Tibetan medallions.   She’d had lots of dates, but she had never let a guy take as many liberties as Angel was taking at the moment.  And she also knew that she was not going to tell him to stop.

But both to her relief and chagrin, he did stop.  With a groan, his fingers stopped at the edge of her mini and he released her flesh from his mouth, panting harshly.  He turned his head against her, his face buried at the crook of her neck as he hunched over her, pinning her to the wall.  “You’re young,” he said.

Her fingers flexed on his shoulders, pulling him closer and she nodded.  “Seventeen,” she said breathily.

He groaned.  “You’re in high school,” he said plaintively.

He pulled back and looked at her. She met his gaze firmly.  “I’m not a kid,” she informed him baldly.

He raised his eyebrows at her.  “I gathered that,” he noted wryly.  He forced himself away from her and watched as she nervously righted her clothes.  “I have to go,” he said.

She gaped at him.  “You’re leaving?” she whined.  “You just got here.”

He looked at her, his expression unreadable.  “I want to see you again,” he said.  “Tomorrow.  Alone.”

Buffy swallowed harshly, knowing exactly what he was asking.  She nodded.  “My mom’s out of town on an art buying trip,” she said.  “You can come over.”

A slow smile spread over his features.  “Write down your address,” he said.

*****

Angel followed the noise to the kitchen, tiptoeing as silently as possible.  He could see light and hefted the weighty tome over his head, preparing to bring it down in a swift arc against the intruder.  He pivoted around the corner.

And came to a dead stop as he found his brother rooting through his refrigerator.

“Tofu?” Angelus huffed.  “Why the fuck do you have tofu?  Where the hell is the real food.”  He turned around, facing his twin and smirked.  “That’s a little expensive to be using as home defense, isn’t it?” he asked, pointing at Angel’s weapon.

Lowering his arms, Angel looked at the book in his hands.  Angelus did indeed have a point.  Very carefully Angel set the priceless text on the counter.  It had been the first thing handy when he heard the intruder.

Angelus slammed the refrigerator shut and rolled his eyes at his brother.  “Why do you have that out of the vault anyway?” he asked, pointing to the book.

Angel frowned.  It was careless of him to leave the Aberjian compendium out of the vault, but he had been intending to put it away and then fell asleep in the middle of his research.  He narrowed his gaze at his twin.  “You know,” he said dryly, “you’re actually rather good with texts.  You could possibly use that brain of yours for something useful instead of wasting it on your vices.”

Angelus snorted.  “I don’t give a shit about your books,” he said derisively.  “That particular one happens to be worth in excess of twenty million dollars.  Trust me when I tell you that is the only reason why I have even the vaguest interest in it.”

Angel’s lips pursed together.  “It was Dad’s most prized possession,” he said tightly.

“The man has been dead for twenty years, Angel,” Angelus noted dryly.  “He isn’t going to miss the damn book and I could sure as hell use my half of the cash.”

“You have no soul.”

“Then neither do you,” Angelus said blandly, “because we’re identical twins.”

“Hardly,” Angel countered, rejecting the idea that though he and Angelus had the same genes that they were anything alike.  He sat down at the small kitchen table and looked at his brother.  “What are you doing here anyway?  Running from the cops?”

Angelus rolled his eyes.  “You always did have a flair for the dramatic,” he said sardonically.  He grabbed a bag of potato chips out of one of the cabinets and joined his brother at the table.  “No,” he said, “I’m not running from anything.  I came here to help you.”

Angel narrowed his gaze.  “Why does that scare me?” he asked.

“Because you’re a pussy,” Angelus countered without missing a beat.

“Fuck you.”

“Not in this life, sweetheart.  I’m not into twincest.”

This time it was Angel’s turn to roll his eyes.  “Why are you here?” he asked again.

Angelus popped a chip into his mouth, chewing loudly. “Wesley called me,” he said, talking with his mouth full.  “He told me that you’ve been mooning over some little girl so I came down to have a look.”

Angel bristled, sitting up straighter in his chair.  He knew he never should have mentioned Buffy to Wesley, but it had been a moment of weakness.  He regretted it already.  “There is no girl,” he said tightly.  “So you can leave.”

“Jesus Christ,” Angelus swore in disgust, “how are we brothers?  You are such a shitty liar, Angel.”

Angel glared, but held his tongue.

“So anyway,” Angelus continued, unperturbed, “I decided to pop on over to the ‘Dale and have a look at little Fluffy or whatever the hell her name is.  Went to the Bronze and found her in under two seconds.  I have to say she’s much hotter than that last thing you were trying to stick your dick in.”

Angel growled and once again, Angelus ignored him completely.

“So I found Buffy and we had a little dance.  Damn if she isn’t a hot little minx.  I’d love to tap that ass, but I’m here doing charity work, so I managed to refrain.”

“How white of you,” Angel noted dryly, “not fucking the girl that I like.”

“It was hard,” Angelus admitted, “she wanted me.  Well, you actually, but it was my body she was pressing those luscious tits against, so why split hairs?  Hell, she probably would have let me finger her there in the middle of the club.  And damn if she doesn’t taste like vanilla.  I don’t know how the hell she did that.”

Angel was now fuming, considering the ways that he could kill his brother and dispose of the body without anyone noticing.

Angelus smiled beatifically at his younger twin.  “Anyway I told her that I wanted to meet tomorrow and she said that her mother’s out of town.”  He took a scrap of paper out of his pocket and tossed it at Angel.  “There’s her address.  Go over.  She’ll fuck you.”

Angel shook his head.  “I don’t want to go over there and fuck her,” he said tightly.

“Don’t lie, bitch,” Angelus scoffed.  “Stand up.  I bet you have a boner right now just thinking about those tits of hers pressed up against me.”

“You’re sick.”

“Yeah, so are you because we both know that you’re going to go over there tomorrow night.”

“I’m not going,” Angel said defiantly.  “Besides, she’s just a kid.”

“Ain’t that a pisser,” Angelus commiserated.  “Seventeen. Who would have thought with a body like that ... But you know what they say, old enough to bleed, old enough to breed.”

“It’s against the law, you schmuck,” Angel pointed out.  “The legal age of consent in California is eighteen.  It’s statutory rape.”

“Only if they catch you.”

“I’m not going over there.”

“Fine,” Angelus said, “then I’ll go.  She’ll call out the wrong name, but it would probably be worth it to have that hot little cunt wrapped around my cock.  She looks like a screamer too.”  Wistfully he added, “Damn, I’m getting hard just thinking about it.”

*****

Angel punched his pillow, trying vainly to get comfortable.  He knew it was a futile attempt.  He’d never be able to sleep, not after what Angelus had said about Buffy.  With a groan, he planted his face in the pillow.

Why, oh why had Wesley opened his big mouth?  But even though Angel wanted to blame Wesley, he knew he couldn’t.  This was his fault.  He’s the one who should have kept his mouth shut and his thoughts to himself.

Of course he’d noticed the gorgeous young creature who stopped by the shop regularly.  He’d even gone so far as to ask Anya, his lone employee, her name.  Buffy Summers.  Angel hadn’t actually spoken to her.  He hadn’t done anything more substantial than watch her from over the top of one of his books.  But he couldn’t deny that though their entire interaction was largely a figment of his imagination, that he was completely smitten.

Buffy Summers made him feel like he was about fifteen years old.  She made him want to write bad poetry and send her flowers.  So far, what little pride he did have allowed him to refrain.  He’d come to the conclusion that he needed to stay away from her.  She was too young.  He was too old.  She was like sunshine incarnate and well, he was more like gloom incarnate.  What would someone that vibrant want with a stuffy, boring storekeeper?  Nothing, that’s what.

Angel had been content to watch her from afar, to relegate her to his dreams and fantasies.  But in a move of sheer stupidity, he’d mentioned her to Wesley.  And Wesley had mentioned her to Angelus.

On days like these, Angel intensely wished he’d been an only child.

***

Buffy answered the door and her breath caught in her throat again.  Goddamn he was beautiful.  Her pulse was pounding in her ears and she bit down on her bottom lip.

“Can I come in?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, blushing.  She felt like an idiot.  How long had she stood there staring at him like a short buser?

He walked into her house, looking around, nodding appreciatively at several pieces of art.  “You have a very beautiful home,” he said seriously.

“Uh ... thanks,” she replied lamely.

He looked at her and smiled gently.  “You’re nervous,” he noted.

“I ... just ... uh, yeah a little,” she admitted.

He reached out and tugged gently on the black spaghetti strap tanktop she was wearing.  She went willingly, letting him pull her against his chest.  His hand came up to trace over her cheekbone and she sighed heavily, her hands trembling as they rested on his chest.  Her nipples were pebbled into points so hard they ached.

Very slowly he leaned down, tentatively brushing his lips against her own.  She raised up on tiptoe to meet him.  His lips were so soft, just like last night, and she pressed into him, parting her lips.  He threaded his fingers through her hair, immediately deepening the kiss.  As he pushed his tongue into her mouth, Buffy groaned.  He guided her backwards, pinning her to the wall again and she went willingly, delighting in the feel of him against her body.

His hands touched her everywhere.  His fingers bunched in her floor-length leather skirt, pulling it up to bare her thigh.  She widened her stance, letting him skim his knuckles against the ultra-sensitive flesh of her inner thigh.  She gasped as he hit a painfully responsive spot near the apex of her thighs.

He smiled against her lips.  “You like that?” he asked wickedly.

She pulled back, looking up into his face as she bit down on her bottom lip.  She nodded mutely.

He smiled wolfishly.  “Where’s your room?” he asked.

“U-u-upstairs,” she managed to stutter.

He stepped back, threading his fingers through hers.  “Show me,” he said.

Buffy’s knees were shaking as she led him up the stairs, but she never deterred from her task. She wanted him and she was going to have him.  If he’d been a boy her age, she might have waited, played games, but he wasn’t.  Angel wasn’t a boy.  He was a man and she wasn’t going to risk losing him by being a prude.

As he stepped inside her darkened room, he immediately closed and locked the door.  Buffy gasped as he caught her in his embrace, kissing her hungrily.  She could feel his erection through his pants and a liquid heat pooled between her thighs.  “Are we going to ... ?”

“Fuck?” he baited.  She nodded and he chuckled sensuously.  “Yes, Buffy,” he whispered against her ear, “we’re going to fuck.”

Her stomach tightened almost painfully at his words and her entire body trembled with excitement.  She felt out of control, like she wasn’t herself, but it was a heady rush.  She wanted this.  She wanted him.  The fact that he was here, saying these things, doing these things seemed unbelievable.

She stood still as he very deliberately stripped her of her clothes.  When she was finally nude, he stepped back, admiring her with obvious hunger.  “You are exquisite,” he said huskily.

She blushed from the tips of her toes to the roots of her hair, but couldn’t look away from the heat in his gaze.  She watched as he pulled something out of the pocket of his leather coat and set it on her dresser.  In the dim light filtering through the window, she wasn’t certain what it was.  She watched, spellbound as he shrugged out of his coat and then proceeded to strip himself as he had stripped her.  Her breath came fast and shallow as he uncovered his flesh.  Gods, he was beautiful, so pale and hard and sculpted like one of those fucking statues her mother was always mooning over.  His sex was hard and the heat between her legs intensified.

“Lay on the bed,” he commanded and she could do naught but comply.  Self-consciously, she sat down on the bed and then lay back on top of the covers, her limbs still trembling, her breath still too rapid.

He walked over to the desk and picked up the items he had deposited earlier.  Buffy licked her lips as he walked over to the bed, sitting down next to her supine form and depositing the items on the pillow next to her head.  Buffy looked at them, her brow furrowing.  “What are – “

“We’re going to have some fun,” he said in a tone that promised carnal delight.  “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Buffy?  You’d like to have some fun?”

She nodded, still somewhat wary, but desperate to please him.  He reached for the first item and she swallowed thickly.  He smiled.  “It’s just a blindfold, Buffy.  I promise it won’t hurt.”

“I just – “ she began to protest, “I don’t – I’ve never – “

“Shhh,” he placated.  “It’ll be all right. I promise.  Just trust me.”

She bit down on her bottom lip nervously, but nodded.  She held perfectly still as he slipped the blindfold over her head, effectively blocking out all visual senses.  She jumped as his finger lightly outlined the curve of her breast, but as he leaned into her, kissing her deeply, she began to relax.  Not seeing was fine as long as he was pressed against her and she could discern his movements.

He kissed her for long moments, suckling on her lips, his hands tracing over her face, her breasts, skimming along her hips.  He kissed along her jaw up to her ear.  He nibbled on her earlobes, whispering things to her that made her blush crimson.

She was so lost in the pleasurable sensations he was wringing from her body that she didn’t notice that he had bound her hands until she tried to touch him and couldn’t move her arms.  Her initial reaction was panic and she struggled sharply, trying to sit up.

“Easy,” he said in a reassuring tone of voice.  “I’m not going to hurt you.”

She stilled, but her body was still tense, adrenalin coursing through her veins.

He whispered soothing nothings to her, touching her body gently.  “You trust me, don’t you, Buffy?” he asked quietly.

She took a deep breath and released it slowly.  She nodded.  She was still nervous, especially when she thought she heard some strange clicking noise, but she relaxed as he climbed fully onto the bed with her, insinuating one of his legs between hers.  He once again began his pattern of heated kisses and gentle touches and her body became pliable in his hands.

He kissed her face, her jaw.  He suckled her earlobes and down her neck.  He pressed wet open-mouthed kisses against her collarbone.  Buffy gasped as he took her pebbled nipple into his mouth, laving it gently with his tongue.  She could feel him smile against her breast and he licked it again, eliciting yet another tremor of pleasure.  He pulled her entire nipple into his mouth and gave one sharp tug with his teeth.  She let out a sharp cry of pleasure and her legs instinctively tightened around his invading thigh.  He suckled her for long minutes, abandoning her breast only to repeat the exquisite torture on its twin.

But eventually he abandoned her breasts for wilder terrain.  Buffy giggled as he kissed down her abdomen, but her breath caught sharply as he licked along her hipbone, his strong hands gently coaxing her legs apart.  “Angel,” she cooed tremulously.

“Trust me,” he said huskily.

She swallowed thickly, but let him part her legs.  And then his face was there, pressing against her most intimate places.  She couldn’t prevent the startled cry as he kissed the downy hair covering her sex.  As his tongue traced the seam between her netherlips, her hips came off the bed and she pulled tightly on the silk scarves that held her wrists captive.  He chuckled, kissing her gently one last time before parting her with his thumbs and going after her like she was a ripe, dripping piece of watermelon on a hot summer day.  He flattened his tongue, licking her from stem to stern, stopping to swirl his tongue around her clit.  She chanted his name, tugging ineffectually on the scarves as he forced her legs wider.  His tongue was everywhere.  He stabbed it into her heated sheath as his thumb tortured her clit.  He licked inside her, his tongue letting her know exactly what he intended to do with his cock.  She nearly wept from the pleasure.  He abandoned her sheath only to nibble his way back up to her clit where he locked his lips around her hard little nub and sucked until she exploded in a flash of pleasure, crying out his name.

He was kissing along her hipbones, waiting for her to recover.  “Did you like that?” he asked wickedly.

“Yes,” she sighed.

She felt him get up and her body stiffened.

“Relax,” he said gently, “I just have to get a condom.”

She swallowed thickly, trying to calm down, but it was impossible without being able to see him.  She heard the rustling of a plastic wrapper and more of the strange clicking noises.  But then he was once again on the bed, kneeling between her spread legs.  He leaned forward, blanketing her body and kissed her deeply, forcing her to taste herself on his lips.  She met his kiss enthusiastically, her legs wrapping around his waist as he lowered himself over her.  She could feel the hard edge of his sex and she swallowed thickly.  He was big.  She’d gotten a good look at him earlier and she knew this was going to be difficult.

She felt him shift, putting all of his weight on one elbow as he used the other hand to guide himself into her.  She was small and she couldn’t help the whimper of pain as he probed her experimentally.  He pushed forward, only about an inch and then leaned over her, weight braced on both elbows as he kissed her deeply.  “It’s all right,” he soothed between kisses.

He kissed her for so long that she eventually became impatient, trying to tighten her legs around his waist and force him inside of her.  He chuckled at her enthusiasm.  “Are you ready?” he asked.

She nodded frantically and he reached down to brace her hip with one hand.  In one powerful thrust, her buried himself inside of her and she let out a sharp cry.  He groaned in near painful pleasure as her untried flesh rippled around him, rejecting his invasion.  He forced himself to remain still, to allow her to adjust.  He kissed her face, the tip of her nose.  He suckled at her lips until she kissed him back.  One of his hands gently teased her nipple and before long he could feel her begin to respond to the hunger growing in her body.

He thrust slowly, listening to her moan of pleasure as he kissed her neck.  Buffy was brimming with passion and before long, her legs were once again tightening around his waist, her back arching under him, trying to forced him deeper, harder, faster.  He obliged, thrusting against her in a punishing rhythm.  He was unprepared when she climaxed again, crying out his name.  Her tight muscles rippling around him forced his own orgasm and he pounded against her, burying his face against her neck as she milked the seed from his body.

He rested over her for several minutes before pushing himself up on his elbows.  He removed her blindfold, kissing over her eyelids before meeting her passion-drugged gaze.  He kissed her deeply as his hand released her confined wrists.  She immediately wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him close.  She whined plaintively as he withdrew from her body and she watched in blatant fascination as he removed and disposed of the condom, using several tissues from her nightstand to clean himself off.

Together they pulled down the covers on her bed and as he spooned against her, Buffy snuggled back into his embrace.  “Goodnight, Angel,” she whispered sleepily before drifting off.

“Goodnight, Buffy,” he replied, pressing a hard kiss to the nape of her neck.

*****

Buffy woke alone the next morning, dressed in her pajamas.  She looked around the room, but there was no sign of Angel, save the dull throbbing ache between her thighs.  She searched, but he left no note, no visible sign that he had ever been in her house, her room, her body.

She wouldn’t allow herself to cry.  She wouldn’t.  Angel was an adult.  Maybe this was how adults conducted their ... affairs?  relationships?  She had no idea what she meant to him, if she meant anything to him beyond sex.

She buried her head in her hands.  What had she done?  Yes, she had been crushing on Angel for months and she really, really liked him.  But she didn’t know him.  Not beyond the man she’d dreamed up in her mind.  Yet, she invited him, a virtual stranger, over to her house, led him up to her bedroom.  She let him tie her up, blindfold her and fuck her.

There had been no endearments, no promises of things to come.  She merely let him use her body.  Against her will, tears streamed down her cheeks.  She had never felt so stupid.

*****

Angel looked up as Angelus, freshly showered, walked into the kitchen.  Angel grimaced as his brother poured himself a cup of coffee, sloshing it over the counter and not bothering to clean it up.  Angelus yawned loudly, stretching.  “Long night?” Angel asked, not really caring what the answer was.

“Damn right,” Angelus groused, taking a seat across the table.  “That girl is insatiable.  And a freak. You wouldn’t believe the shit she asked me to do.”

“Please spare me the details,” Angel said dryly.

Angelus ignored him, reaching over to steal a piece of toast off his plate.  “What about you?” he asked, chewing with his mouth open.  “What did you do last night?”

“Nothing,” Angel said darkly, turning back to the Sumerian text he was attempting to translate.

Angelus chuckled and reached over again, pulling out the bookmark Angel was using to keep his place.  Angel tried to grab the picture back, but it was too late.  Angelus smiled wolfishly.

“Nothing,” he mocked, examining the photo with avid interest, “looks to me like you fucked your little high school sweetheart.  Oh, and you tied her up first, you kinky bastard.”

Angel snatched the picture back.  He glowered at his brother before turning his attention back to the book.

“So, you pop her cherry?” Angelus asked conversationally.

“Fuck off.”

Angelus merely chuckled, his eyes twinkling with wicked glee.  “When do you see her again?” he asked.

“I don’t,” Angel replied with finality.  “It was a mistake.  I’m not going to repeat it.”  It tore at his soul to voice those words, but they were true.

Angelus rolled his eyes.  “You’re such a fucking martyr,” he derided.  “What’s the problem?  You obviously enjoyed her.  I’m sure she enjoyed you.  You’ve got this hot, convenient little piece of ass and you’re just going to let it walk away?”

“It was a mistake,” Angel repeated, trying to convince himself as much as his brother. “She’s too young.  I never should have gone over there.”

“Yeah, well you did,” he said dryly. “And you nailed her, so damage done.  At least get some sort of regular thing out of this deal.”

“Buffy and I are finished,” Angel bit out.  “End of story.”

Angelus shrugged. “We’ll see about that,” he countered.

Angel put his pen down and faced his brother seriously.  “What does that mean?” he demanded.

“Nothing, precious,” Angelus cooed.  “Don’t worry your pointy little head about it.”

“If you do anything – “

“I said don’t worry about it,” Angelus interrupted.

*****

Buffy was flooded with relief as she answered the door and found Angel on the other side.  She stared at him blankly for a moment before shaking off the stupor and pulling the door open so he could enter.  She’d been terrified that he wouldn’t call, wouldn’t speak to her again.  She’d spent all morning feeling like some trashy whore.

As soon as the door was closed, he backed her against it, kissing her deeply.  She sighed into his mouth, clutching him far too tightly.  She needed reassurance that what they shared hadn’t been one-sided.  He’d been so controlled, so bottled up that she had no idea if last night had affected him at all.  When they finally broke the kiss, she rested her forehead against his chest.

He hugged her.  “You okay?” he asked gently, nuzzling against her temple.

She looked up at him meekly.  “I ... when I woke up you were gone and you didn’t leave a note or anything so I wondered ... “

“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.  “There was an emergency down at the store.  You looked so peaceful sleeping I didn’t want to wake you.”

She shrugged, smiling, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from her heart.  “It’s okay,” she assured him, burying her worry.

He looked at her seriously.  “Are you certain?  Everything is okay?  I don’t want you to have doubts about us.”

Buffy’s heart soared at his words.  ‘Us’.  Obviously this was something for him too.  She nodded, smiling brightly.  “Tip top,” she said firmly.

“Good then,” he said, “how about we go out and get something to eat?”

*****

Hours later, Buffy was content, curled up in Angel’s embrace on the couch watching TV.  They had a lovely lunch at one of the little restaurants downtown.  Angel opened the doors and paid for everything.  It was obvious he wasn’t trying to hide her away like some dirty secret.  He had treated her with absolute concern and respect.

Their reverie was broken by a car door slamming unexpectedly.  Buffy sat up quickly, peeking out the curtains.  “It’s my mom,” she said in a frantic whisper.

Angel looked at her placidly and laughed.  “Buffy, I’m going to have to meet her eventually anyway,” he said.  “It’s not like we can really hide the fact that we’re dating.”

She looked at him like he’d gone insane and then smiled.  “You want to meet my mom?”

“Of course.”

It took her moment to process the information.  Boys never wanted to meet your parents.  Never.  Yet Angel was sitting there, composed, obviously at ease with the situation.  “She’s going to freak,” Buffy said.  “She’ll think you’re too old for me.”

Angel shrugged.  “I am too old for you,” he admitted wryly.  “But it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t stay away from you.  If we sneak around, it’s just going to make things worse.  Let me talk to her.”

*****

Angelus was not in a good mood by the time he walked into the mansion.  Finding Angel passed out on the couch didn’t improve matters.  Rolling his eyes, he reached for the phone.  Absently, he stroked himself through his leather pants.  He’d been nursing a hard-on all day.  He almost broke down and tried to convince Buffy into giving him head, but he refrained.  He hated pretending to be his weakling younger sibling.  “Cordy,” he barked into the phone as soon as the other end was answered, “get your skanky ass over here pronto.  And wear the cheerleader outfit.”

Clicking the phone off, he kneed his brother in the shin.  Angel sat up immediately, an action he quickly regretted, groaning as he clutched his head.

Angelus surveyed the carnage and snorted in disgust.  “The Penderian Codex and two bottles of Bordeaux,” he said contemptuously.  “You know that’s a bad combination.  You should really find a different way to drown your pathetic sexual angst.”

“Who the fuck asked you?” Angel snapped, grabbing the Codex before Angelus could touch it.

“No one, Princess,” Angelus said dryly.  “Now why don’t you go pass out in your own room.  Cordelia’s coming over and I’m going to fuck her on the kitchen table.  I’d rather not do it with the sound of your snoring.”

“Why don’t you get your own fucking place,” Angel growled.  “I live here. I don’t see why I should have to rearrange my schedule around your sex life.”

“First off, nothing is more important or impressive than my sex life,” Angelus said seriously.  “And secondly, the house isn’t yours.  It’s ours.  Just because you like to live like a recluse and hide in here all the time doesn’t mean that you have some sort of dominion.”

With a snort, Angel staggered to his feet and made his way upstairs. Angelus watched him with a wry smile.  Angel was so damn sad sometimes, but that’s why he had his big brother to look out for him.  Of course, Angelus completely intended to let Angel wallow in his misery for a good while longer before presenting him with a ready-made girlfriend.  Maybe he’d even teach Buffy a few tricks before he gave her back.

*****

Angel tossed and turned, unable to find any respite as drunken nightmares assailed him.  What had he done?  How could have taken something so sweet and twisted it into something so ... sordid?  Why now, of all times, had he taken a page from the book of Angelus?  He was an idiot.  No, more than an idiot, he was a jerk.  Buffy was bound to come to see his actions as malicious.

But they weren’t.

He’d thought if he could just have a taste of her, just sate his near crippling need for her, that he could walk away and leave her better off without him.  He’d tried to maintain a distance from her even as he made love to her.

He’d been an idiot.  Of course Buffy wasn’t interested in keeping distance between them.  She wasn’t one of Angelus’ trashy, hardened lovers looking to get off.  She’d been a goddamn virgin.  She invited him into her home and her body, giving him the most precious thing she could give, her trust.  And he’d repaid her by playing cruel power games, by pushing that trust to its limits, and then abusing it by leaving her.

He groaned like a wounded animal, wishing the room would stop spinning.  He wished he could just die.  Buffy Summers liking him was nothing short of a miracle.  The fact that he had single-handedly destroyed that miracle made him sick.  Gods, she had to hate him now.  She had to be cursing his very existence.  And he couldn’t blame her one bit.

***

“These are ... beautiful,” Buffy said, tears glittering in her eyes.

Angelus looked away in embarrassment.  They were just flowers for Christ’s sake.  “I’m ... uh ... glad you like them,” he said.  How the hell did people do this sappy crap?  He hadn’t actually planned on the flowers, it just felt like something fruity his twin would do, especially for a girl he was so taken with.  Angelus hadn’t seen Angel this torn up about anything since their parents died.  For the last two weeks he’d been drunk out of his mind, mumbling incoherently about how he messed up.

Angelus supposed that he could have broken it to his brother that as far as Buffy was concerned there had been no foul.  The cute little blonde was convinced that everything was fine between her and Angel.

But Angelus hadn’t told Angel.  What were big brothers for if not inflicting mental torture?

So Angelus took Buffy to see a movie.  An art film.  Angelus almost hurt himself rolling his eyes.  But it wasn’t as bad as he had anticipated.  Got to love the French.  He had a great time watching Buffy squirm in her seat while he whispered to her during the movie.  He wasn’t exactly sure if it was something Angel would have done, but guessing from the pictures his normally placid brother had taken of Buffy on their first night together, he figured that Angel was a lot kinkier than he let on.

The mansion was dark when he and Buffy arrived.  Her mother was out of town again for the weekend and he’d talked Buffy into staying over.  He already knew that Angel was undoubtedly passed out in the library as he had been the last two weeks.  He led Buffy up to Angel’s room where he had changed the sheets and done his best to make the room presentable.  It still looked like a librarian lived in it.

Buffy was charmingly innocent.  It was a turn on.  Angelus wasn’t exactly sure why.  As a rule, he didn’t highly value innocence in a woman.  But on Buffy it looked good.  She fascinated him for some reason that he didn’t care to explore too deeply.  Something about her gentle nature pulled at him.  He shrugged off the sensation.  He was doing this out of pity for Angel.  Nothing more.

“This is your room?” she asked.

He nodded.  “It is.”

She turned around and looked at him coyly.  “And this is your bed?”

“It is.”

He watched as she stepped a few feet away and began shedding clothes.  He got hard watching her uncover that beautiful, lickable, golden skin.  Damn she was a choice piece of ass.  His knowledge of her innocence only fanned the flames of his hunger.  His little vixen had never done this for anyone before.  Again, he was overcome with a strange, protective sensation.  He forced it away.  She was Angel’s not his.  Her behavior was for Angel, not him.  This was a favor, nothing more.

Nude, she splayed herself out on Angel’s bed.  Her skin looked absolutely luminous against Angel’s blood red comforter.  “I’m lonely,” she said plaintively.

Angelus wasted no time in joining her on the bed. Buffy kissed him openly, offering him her tongue as he pulled her close.  She sighed his brother’s name against his lips and, it rankled Angelus.  It wasn’t as if Angel was the one putting all the damn legwork into this conquest.

She was nervous.  He could feel her trembling, but she did nothing that could be construed as hesitance.  Dammit, her tentative nature shouldn’t have been a turn on.  But it was.  He lay her back on the bed, relishing her startled gasps as he cupped one breast in his hand while drawing the other nipple into his mouth.  She was so damn enthusiastic, so trusting.  It was the most wildly erotic thing he had ever experienced.  He loved the fact that she could be so trusting while totally nude and he was still dressed.

He worked his way down her body and she shivered from head to toe as he pulled her thighs over his shoulders.  Her hips moved restlessly and it was obvious to Angelus that she had already learned to enjoy this particular form of sex.  It appeared Angel was nothing if not thorough.

Pushing the thoughts of his brother aside, Angelus dipped his head to her sex.  Her neatly trimmed curls were damp with her arousal and he inhaled deeply.  Fuck.  She was a goddamn wet dream incarnate.  Despite his fascination with her innocence, he wasn’t able to hold himself back any longer.  He buried his face between her folds, licking and suckling with uncontrollable hunger.  She squirmed against him, breathy little cries issuing from her throat as she sought the climax he kept always just out of reach.  Her fingers curled through his hair, holding him closer.

“Please,” she wailed softly, her heels digging into his back.

He took pity, pulling her clit gently between his lips and humming gently.  She went off like a rocket, her heels biting into his back as she yelled his name.  No, not his name.  Never his name.

He worked her down slowly, his hands playing over her body as his lips continued to bring her pleasure.  Reluctantly, he pulled away from her.  He sat up on the edge of the bed and carefully unbuttoned his shirt, shrugging out of it.  He wanted Buffy so badly his body burned, but he couldn’t.  Not because of Angel either.  His brother was undeniably important to him, but it wasn’t concern for Angel’s feelings that kept Angelus from taking Buffy the way he wanted.  He only knew that if he ever did make love to her, that he  wanted her to know it was him and not Angel.  But such a confession would come at a price far too steep.  His jaw flexed and he shook his head.  Buffy could never be his.

The light touch of her dainty fingernails tracing over his tattoo pulled him from his thoughts.  Turning, he pulled down the covers on the bed.  Carefully, he cuddled her against his body, pulling the covers over them both.  She turned in his embrace, pressing sleepy kisses against his bare chest as her hand found the fly of his leather pants.

He covered her hand with his own, pressing a hard kiss to her forehead.  “Sleep, Buffy,” he said hoarsely, “we have all weekend.”

She smiled, curling tighter into his embrace.  “I love you,” she whispered.

*****

Angel sputtered, coming awake immediately as the icy water hit him.  He scrambled trying to get out of the shower, but Angelus shoved him back down.  “Wake up, Princess, it’s Christmas morning,” Angelus said in a scathing tone of voice.

Managing to stand, Angel glared at his twin, slapping the faucet to turn off the water.  He stood there, breathing harshly. “What the fuck are you doing?” he demanded.

“You need a shower,” Angelus said matter-of-factly, his manner icy, “and a shave.  And you better hurry before she wakes up.”

“She?”

Angelus nodded, his gaze quickly flitting away from his brother’s.  His manner was overly flip as his continued,  “After you abandoned poor little Fluffy, I went back and got her.  I’ve been pretending to be you for the last two weeks, taking her out on dates, meeting her mom, doing a bunch of shit that I wouldn’t be caught dead doing.  You owe me big time.  She’s asleep in your bed right now.”

“Buffy’s here?”

“Are you deaf?” Angelus demanded.  “Yes, she’s here.  In your bed.  And she thinks that you’re an only child and that she’s been dating you for the last two weeks so you might want to step on it because if she catches me here, I’m fairly sure the gig is up.”

Angel stared at him incredulously and Angelus threw him a bar of soap.  “Tick tock,” he said, walking out of the bathroom.

Scant minutes later, Angel was in the hall outside his bedroom.  He cracked open the door and his heart clenched tight in his chest at the sight of Buffy asleep in his bed, her blonde hair scattered over his pillows.  Angelus walked up behind him and whispered, “Told ya.”

Quietly pulling the door shut again, Angel swiveled to face his brother.  “And how exactly did you get her into my bed naked?” he asked tightly.

Angelus smirked.  “Come on,” he chided.  “I’ll do you a favor now and then but I’m not a fucking saint.  Two weeks of pretending to be you ... I needed a reward.”

Angel’s face burned with fury.  “You slept with my girlfriend!” he hissed.

“I didn’t fuck her.  But we played around a little.  Consider it a finder’s fee,” Angelus said darkly.  “Besides, I toned down the performance so she wouldn’t get suspicious.  Don’t worry, you don’t have any expectations to live up to.”  Turning, Angelus strutted down the hall, leaving Angel to his own devices.

On one hand, Angel wanted nothing more than to chase his brother down and beat him within an inch of his life.  And on the other hand, Buffy was in his bed – naked.  The decision was shockingly easy.

She made a soft, kittenish sound as he slid into bed next to her.  Rolling over, she burrowed into his frame, seeking out his warmth and scent.  She sighed contentedly, pillowing her head on his chest.

Angel drew in a deep, trembling breath.  He had longed for her so badly these last weeks.  When he left that morning, he was certain she was gone forever.  And that knowledge had been slowly killing him.  And then Angelus ... Angel didn’t know what to think of his brother’s actions.  He was furious Angelus had touched her, but the fact that he had brought Buffy back to him ...

Angel pulled her closer, inhaling her indescribably perfect scent.  His fingers trailed over her silky smooth skin and she made a purring sound in her sleep, pressing closer to him.  In the dim light, he could see the smile playing on her lips, the smile he never thought to see again.  He felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders.  Sighing, he let his head sink into the pillow, concentrating on the feel of her in his arms.

*****

For the first time in weeks, his dreams were not anxiety filled.  He didn’t have visions of himself chasing down darkened hallways, grasping for something that was always barely out of his reach.  He didn’t toss and turn, vainly searching for something to sate his hungers.

When he woke, he was rested and calm.  Diffuse morning light poured through the window, making the blonde hair spilling over his chest look like molten gold.  He couldn’t help but smile.

“Good morning,” Buffy purred, snuggling against him.  “I didn’t think you were ever going to wake up.”

He cuddled her closer, pressing soft, nipping kisses to her lips.  She smiled against him, wrapping her arms around his neck as he rolled her underneath him.  She parted her thighs, sighing his name as his rigid flesh brushed against her most intimate places.

She kissed him again and then shocked him by snaking her hand between their bodies and gently grasping his cock.  He complied eagerly as she brought him to the entrance of her body.  They both groaned as he slid inside.  He pulled back and thrust once, hard.  Her breath hissed between her teeth and he forced himself to still.

“Are you okay?” he asked.  “We don’t have to do this.”

“Fine,” she said, rooting for his mouth with her own.  She kissed him long and hard.  “Do it,” she whispered against his lips, tightening her legs around his waist.

He was more careful this time, gentle, taking his time as he had longed to do that first night.  He filled her over and over again, slowly teasing her to completion with his sex, his fingers and his tongue.  She made a helpless trilling noise as her body corded in release.  The sight was so glorious, Buffy lost in release.  And the sensations.  Good gods, the sensations.  Angel let himself go, joining her.

It was long minutes later.  Angel was spooned around Buffy, their hands clasped together against her chest.  He took a deep breath and released it slowly.  “Buffy, about this morning ... “  He trailed off.  “We didn’t ... “

“I’m on the Pill,” she offered quietly.

Frowning, Angel pushed himself up on his elbow and looked down at her.  She stared sheepishly at the far wall.

“I thought that I was your first,” he said carefully.

“You were,” she answered.  “It’s just ... “  With a sigh, she turned to face him, biting down on her bottom lip.  She looked up at him from under her lashes.  “ Well,” she explained, “it’s just that I liked you.  A lot.  And not that you ever talked to me or anything, but I just wanted to make sure that if Hell ever froze over and an opportunity presented itself ... “

He was looking down at her, a small, crooked smile playing on his lips.

“I wanted to make sure that we could, um, seize it,” she said quietly, her cheeks tinged with a blush.

Angel couldn’t have loved her more in that moment if his life depended on it.  She was so damned perfect.  “So you really wanted to seize it, huh?” he goaded.

Buffy looked absolutely scandalized. She smacked him on the shoulder.  “If memory serves, you were all about the seizing too,” she said.

“I guess I was,” he admitted.

*****

Angel was parked on the street across from the high school, waiting for class to get out.  He was studiously avoiding thinking about the fact that he was dating a girl who was still in high school.  Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, he waited for his call to go through.  He'd been trying to get ahold of Angelus for days without luck.  After handing Buffy over to him a month and half ago, his brother had simply disappeared.

Not that disappearing was out of the norm for Angelus.  He would arrive and depart on a whim without so much as a word.  But for some reason, this time felt different.  Angel finally resorted to contacting the lawyer that managed their trust fund to find out where Angelus was having money wired.  It took him another week to track down the resort in Bali where he was staying.  Now, it appeared Angelus simply wasn't going to answer the phone.

With a sigh, Angel clicked the phone off.  His melancholy thoughts were quickly banished by the appearance of Buffy's smiling face as she bounded across the road.  She didn't miss a beat as she hopped into the convertible, sliding into the bench seat next to him.  Capturing his face in her hands, she gave him a long, carnal kiss.

"It's nice to see you too," he said.

She beamed at him.  "You ready for tonight?"

He stared at her blankly.  "Tonight?"

Her face fell, her bottom lip protruding in a pout.  "The dance," she said.  "You're not trying to get out of it, are you?"

Angel groaned.  He'd forgotten he agreed to take her to the dance.  "I didn't forget," he lied.

"You still want to go?" she asked carefully.

"Sure," he lied again.  There were few things in the world that instilled him with less joy than the prospect of spending a Friday night with a bunch of high school kids.  But if Buffy wanted it, he could deny her nothing.

*****

Angel watched his girlfriend walk around his bedroom dressed only in a black satin bra and matching thong.  At least twice a day, he found himself thanking whatever gods were listening that Buffy’s mother was out of town so much.  Two weekends a month, Buffy was free to stay at his place from Friday afternoon to late Sunday without Joyce ever suspecting a thing.  This was one of those weekends.

“Are you sure you want to go out?” he asked.

“Oh come on,” she pouted, “it’ll be fun.  Willow will be there.  You like Willow.”

Angel frowned.  He did indeed like Willow, but he liked Buffy in his bed more.  Plus, a dance club filled with a bunch of teenagers didn’t do a whole lot for him.  Especially when one of them was Buffy’s annoying little friend, Xander.  The boy didn’t seem to understand that he didn’t have a chance with Buffy.  Actually, that was kind of okay, because Angel enjoyed reminding him.  Angel might have been forced to play second string to his elder brother, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to sit by and get ribbed by a weakling like Xander Harris.

Buffy climbed onto the bed with him, her lips curled in a devilish smile.  “Besides,” she whispered silkily, “I want to show off my hottie boyfriend.”

Angel laughed, blushing.  He had never thought of himself as particularly attractive.  He certainly wasn’t the kind of guy to inspire unbridled lust in pubescent girls.  Buffy, however, seemed to be of a different opinion.

“Okay,” he acquiesced, just before her lips descended on his own.  After so many years in his brother’s shadow, he was beginning to realize how much he enjoyed the spotlight.

*****

Buffy pressed herself against Angel, remembering the last time they were dancing at the Bronze.  She frowned, but hid it from him.  Last time, he had seemed much more comfortable.  Did he really not want to be here?  She knew he wasn’t crazy about the idea, but he could have said no.

The music ended and with obvious relief, he steered her toward their table.  Buffy was feeling rather morose until she caught Cordelia checking Angel out.  The look of naked longing on her face annoyed Buffy.  Turning, Buffy lifted her head for a kiss.  Angel gave her that gorgeous little half-smile that only she got before kissing her, long and slow.  When it finally ended, Buffy was in a much better mood.  When she turned around and saw Cordy’s outraged face, her evening was positively spectacular.  Wrapping her hand around Angel’s they finished their trek to the table.

Willow was there with Oz, the two of them sipping their coffee and discreetly holding hands under the table.  They both looked up as Buffy and Angel took their seats.  Well, Angel took a seat and Buffy perched on his lap.  He didn’t seem to mind in the least.  His arms wrapped protectively around her waist.

“Hey, guys!” Xander half-shouted at the table.

Turning, everyone looked at Xander and his date, Anya.  Buffy smiled at the young woman.  She wasn’t overly friendly with her, but she did work for Angel at the Magic Box, so she felt the need to be polite.

“You two going to join us?” Buffy asked, rather hoping they wouldn’t.

“Nah,” Xander said.  He looked at Angel pointedly, “Ahn and I are just going to find a quiet corner and chat.  She’s got tons of interesting stories.”

Buffy stared at him with ill-disguised irritation.  “Have fun,” she replied, watching them head for a dark corner.  Xander seemed to get a little weirder every day.  She shrugged, turning to look at Angel, who was watching Xander with a very strange expression.

*****

Buffy snuggled back into Angel’s embrace, burrowing under the covers.  He sighed contentedly, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his nose at the nape of her neck.  “Did you have a good time tonight?” he asked.

She grinned.  “You mean the dance, or afterwards?”

He nipped playfully at the nape of her neck.  “Both,” he rumbled.

She made a happy, contented sound.  “The dance was perfect,” she sighed.  She giggled wickedly.  “Did you see the look on Cordelia’s face?  Oh, that was perfect.  If looks could have killed, I would have been so dead.”

Angel went very still.  Cordelia?  He knew that name.  He was fairly certain she was one of Angelus’ lovers.  Damn.  First Buffy’s annoying friend Xander was getting friendly with Anya and now one of Angelus’ lovers saw him and Buffy together.  Angel tightened his arms around Buffy reflexively.  He wouldn’t lose her.  He couldn’t.  He pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder.  “I love you,” he murmured sleepily.

Twisting around, Buffy kissed him gently.  “I love you too.”

*****

“What is so important that I had to meet you this morning?” Buffy grouched, gently setting her triple espresso latte on the Espresso Pump’s table.

“I know you’re not a morning person, but I promise this is important,” Xander said seriously.  “I know the wrath for waking Buffy up on a Saturday morning.”

“I should have just turned my phone off,” Buffy mumbled grouchily under her breath.

“Huh?”

Buffy sighed.  “I don’t mean to snap,” she said, “but it’s not like I have a lot of mornings to lounge around in bed with Angel.  They’re sort of a hot commodity.”

“Funny you should mention Mr. Tall Dark and Sketchy,” Xander nearly growled.  “Because he’s exactly what I want to talk to you about.”

Buffy sighed.  “Look, I don’t have time for you and your petty jealousy.”

“Jealous?” Xander squeaked.  “I am not jealous, let me tell you.  I just happen to think that maybe you should have checked up on him a little more before you got heavy with the saliva swapping.”

Rolling her eyes, Buffy asked, “What, you want me to see if he has a criminal record?”

“There’s a lot you don’t know about him,” Xander said darkly.

“Like what?”

“Like the fact that he has an identical twin brother.”

Buffy stared at him blankly for a moment.  “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Buffy said much more vehemently than she felt.

“I do,” Xander assured her.  “But I knew you wouldn’t believe me, so I brought proof.”  He pulled a book out of his backpack and handed it to her.

It was a yearbook from some prep school she’d never heard of.  “What’s this?”

“Your boyfriend’s yearbook,” Xander said.  “Anya borrowed it from his office.  Check the page I marked.”

Buffy flipped to the page that Xander had marked with a sticky note.  Reluctantly, she scanned the page.  She found Angel’s picture and then her heart stopped.  Right next to him was another picture.  The name underneath it read “Angelus Roarke”.  If Buffy’s life had depended on it, she never would have been able to tell the difference.  “I don’t ... “

“Anya says he comes around every couple of months.  Never stays long.  He and your boyfriend have some majorly weird relationship.  She says Angel never talks about him.”

Buffy shook her head, denying the pain this revelation had caused.  “This doesn’t mean anything,” she said firmly, sticking her chin out defiantly.  She wasn’t about to lose face in front of Xander.

“It doesn’t mean anything that the guy you’re giving happies has a twin brother and hasn’t bothered to mention him?” Xander asked pointedly.  “Maybe you’re a bigger person than me,” he said.  “Or maybe you want to figure out what’s going on too.”

Buffy looked at him, her lips pursed together tightly.  He slid a piece of paper across the table to her.  It had Angelus’ name and cell phone number on it.  With a huff, Buffy wadded the piece of paper up and stood.  “My love life isn’t your business, Xander,” she said tartly.  “Have a nice weekend.”  Grabbing her purse, she strolled out of the Espresso Pump, her head held high.

She made it halfway down the block before she broke down.

*****

“What?” Angelus barked into his phone, setting his drink on the end table.  He was watching the two beautiful Polynesian women pleasure each other.  Sadly, it wasn’t half as enjoyable as it should have been.  Nothing was lately.  Given that he’d been ditching calls for weeks, it was a marker of just how bored he was that he would even answer the damn thing.

“Who am I speaking to, please?”

“You called me, bitch,” Angelus bit out.  “You fucking tell me.”

“No!  Please don’t hang up.  I’m sorry.  I’m trying to get a hold of Angelus Roarke.”

Angelus swallowed thickly.  He’d know this voice anywhere.  He’d dreamed of that voice for weeks.  His cock hardened in response.  “Buffy?” he drawled.

He could hear her swift intake of breath.  “How did you?” she sputtered.  “Do we know each other?”

Angelus closed his eyes and then opened them again.  Placing his hand over the phone, he barked at the women to leave.  Finally alone, he said, “We’ve met.”

The silence was deafening.

“I was afraid of that,” Buffy said tautly.

“Does he know that you know about me?”

“No.”

“Maybe we should keep it that way,” Angelus offered.  “You two seem happy.  Sometimes it’s best not to dig too deep into – “

“I have to know what’s going on,” Buffy said.  Her voice was hard and brittle.

He lifted his drink and took another bracing sip.  “It will take me two days to get to Sunnydale,” he said.  “You mention a word of this to him before I get there and I’m not telling you a damn thing.”
 

****

“I don’t understand,” Angel said worriedly as he watched Buffy pack.  Something was definitely wrong.  More than wrong.  Buffy had never been this distant with him before and it terrified him.  He could almost feel his world crashing down around his ears.

 “I just talked to my mom,” she said brusquely, moving around the room with deft efficiency.  “I think it would be better if I went home.  I think she suspects something is up.”

“Are you sure that’s all?” Angel pressed, his tone gentle.

“Yep,” Buffy lied.  “Everything’s fine.”

He tried to pull her closer for a kiss, but she twisted away under the pretense of grabbing her jacket.  He took the hint, solemnly walking her out to the car.  He’d been waiting for the other shoe to drop for months.  Now it seemed it finally had and he had no one to blame but himself.  Something had happened, Angel didn’t know what for sure yet.  Buffy was warm and loving by nature, not cold and distant.  Something had happened to set her off.  Was she having doubts?  Had she finally wised up to what a loser her was?  Or had something far worse happened?

*****

From a distance, she might have thought he was Angel, but the second he turned to face her, the dark predatory look in his eyes made her shiver.  This was not her careful, gentle lover.  Trying to maintain her composure, she allowed the waiter to pull out her chair.  She managed not to fidget as she took the seat across from Angelus.

"You wanted to talk to me," he said blandly.

"Why hasn't Angel told me about you?" she asked point blank.

He shrugged carelessly and she was once again taken with the myriad similarities and differences between him and Angel.  Physically, they were perfect images of one another.  Look though she might, Buffy couldn't find one single physical feature that she could say with conviction was different from her lover.  But there were differences to be certain.  It wasn't anything about the body, it was the way Angelus used it as opposed to Angel.  His manner was all lazy sensuality and darkness, nothing like Angel's reserved quiet.

"I'm not in the habit of keeping up with my little brother's neurotic behavior," Angelus drawled.

Buffy's jaw tightened.  "There's more to it than that," she countered tautly.  "What is this, a game with you two?"

He looked at her, his expression unreadable but so intent that Buffy had to look away.
 

*****

Angel looked up as the little bell over the door chimed and smiled as he saw it was Buffy.  His smile died when he noticed her drawn, wan appearance.  Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest as if she were holding herself together.

“Buffy?” he queried tentatively, rising from the stool to walk around the counter.

Buffy stepped aside and Angel stopped in his tracks as his brother sauntered through the door on her heels and nonchalantly took a seat at the large research table in the middle of the room.  Angelus smirked at him before propping his booted feet on top of the table, scuffing the surface.  Angel turned his attention back to Buffy who was trembling, her expression a mesh of contradictory emotions.

“I need to know what’s going on,” she said.  “Now.”

Angel opened his mouth and then closed it, looking at his brother.  Angelus smiled placidly, offering absolutely no insight as to what might have transpired between he and Buffy.  “Buffy, we should speak in private,” Angel said quietly.

Her expression turned venomous.  “I don’t think so,” she said, her voice low and trembling with rage.  “I’ve finally got the two of you together in one room and I intend to get some answers.”

“Buffy, I – “

“Take off your shirt,” she ordered.

Angel stared at her.  “What?”

“You heard me,” she demanded, “take off your shirt.”

“I don’t really see what – “

“Now!”

Buffy’s outburst was as unexpected as being bitten by a butterfly and Angel wordlessly complied.  His fingers felt like lead as he untucked the black shirt and proceeded to release the line of buttons.   His lips were pursed together, his vision fixated firmly on the floor as he shrugged out of it entirely.

“Turn around,” she nearly growled.

Angel took a deep breath and released it.  Slowly, he pivoted, catching his brother’s eye.  Angelus seemed infinitely amused by the turn of events.  Angel braced himself for Buffy’s inevitable anger.  He didn’t have to wait long.  He knew exactly what she saw, the pale expanse of flesh, unmarred by the intricate Celtic tattoo that covered his brother’s right shoulder.  The tattoo she had obviously seen at some point.

“You sons o’ bitches,” she swore darkly.

"Just the one bitch, actually," Angelus drawled.  "Same mother and all."

Buffy glared at him, trembling with rage.

Angel quickly twisted to face her, shrugging back into the shirt.  He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off.

“I’ve been fucking both of you,” she said, her voice rife with self-disgust.  “How nice.”

“Buffy, you have to – “ Angel started.

“So how did it go?” she demanded, her vision flitting between Angel and Angelus.  “I mean I’m fairly sure that it was Angel I liked first, but it’s taken me the better part of the evening to try and figure out which of you is which.”  She glared at Angelus.  “You’re the slick, cocky jackass, right?”  She didn’t wait for an answer, turning to Angel.  “And you’re the shy, quiet one.”  Tears glittered in her eyes, but she wouldn’t allow them to fall.  Her entire body trembled with rage.

“Let’s work through this together,” she said in a scathing tone.  “I liked Angel and I would talk to him, but apparently he was too shy to do anything, so in steps big brother to play pimp.”  Angelus smiled broadly at her phrasing and Angel shot him a glare.  “I should have known that night you showed up at the Bronze.  I don’t know what I thought, maybe that Angel finally crawled out of his shell.  But then the next night.  I can’t believe I didn’t know that was you,” she spat, glowering at Angelus. “The things you did – “she cut herself off, pushing away the memory.  “I can’t believe I let you ...  And then what?  You got bored so you dumped me back on Angel?”  She turned her gaze to Angel.  “I loved you,” she said, her voice thick with tears.  “I really did.  I can’t believe I was that stupid.”

“Most women are,” Angelus said dryly.

Angel kicked out, catching Angelus’ feet and knocking them off the table, causing Angelus to sit up abruptly.  “Shut the fuck up,” Angel barked.

Angelus smirked and rose to his feet.  “Oh, I don’t think so, baby brother,” he said, his amusement with the situation clear.  “There’s still a lot of misunderstandings that need to be resolved.”

Angel shot his brother a pleading glance, but Angelus ignored it completely, advancing predatorily on Buffy. “First things first,” he said, stopping less than a foot in front of her, “let it be known that the kinky fucker that tied you to the bed and screwed your brains out that first night wasn’t me,” he smiled deviously.  “It was the shy, quiet one over there.  He took pictures too.  Did he tell you that?”

Buffy’s confused gaze shot to Angel, but he refused to meet her eyes.

“He may be the nice one,” Angelus purred, “but he has a dark side too.  You’ve tasted it.”

Buffy swallowed thickly, trying to regroup after the shocking revelation that it was her beloved Angel and not his prick of a twin, Angelus, who had taken her virginity in such a wickedly debauched manner.

“No,” Angelus said blandly, continuing his monologue, “I was always nice to you, Buffy.  Angel was the one who was going to walk away from you after that first night.  He’d had his fun and he was going to go and hide again with his precious books, quietly savoring his memories, too scared to make any more.  I’m the one who called you, who took you out to dinner and bought you flowers.  I’m the one that met your mother and made sure you fell in love with him.”

Buffy looked up at him, blinking quickly to hold back the tears Angelus’ whimsical, cruel tone wrought.  He spoke so coldly of moments that she had held so precious.

Angelus looked over his shoulder at his brother.  “It wasn’t until I threatened to tell you the truth that he finally agreed to take you off my hands.  I had to force him, Buffy.  Your sweet, gentle Angel didn’t want anything to do with you.”

“That’s not true!” Angel bellowed, glowering at his twin.

Angelus shrugged.  “You say tomato I say to-mah-toh,” he said in a singsong voice.

Buffy looked at Angel and now a tear did slide down her cheek.  “He dumped me on you?” she asked in a tiny voice.

Angel shook his head, instinctively reaching out for Buffy. “It wasn’t like that, I swear,” he said vehemently.

“It was exactly like that,” Angelus said dryly, walking over to the table to resume his earlier position.

Angel looked over his shoulder and shouted, “Shut the fuck up!”

“No,” Angelus replied, his mouth twisting into an evil frown.  “Tell her the truth, Angel.  Tell her how close we are.”

Buffy shook her head in confusion.  “What is he talking about?” she asked Angel.

Angelus gave her a disgusted look.  “We’re twins, Buffy,” he explained.  “We’re as close as two people can be.  We shared our mother’s womb, we share genes, houses, clothes ... lovers.”

Buffy’s mind balked at accepting his logic and Angelus laughed.  She looked at Angel, “You two do this often?” she demanded.

Angelus snorted.  “He’d never get laid if it wasn’t for me,” he said maliciously.

Buffy looked at Angelus.  “That’s twisted,” she said.

He smiled blandly.  “I never said I wasn’t twisted, sweetheart,” he replied dryly.

She turned her attention back to Angel who was looking at her with huge, liquid eyes.  “I don’t know what to think,” she admitted.

“I love you,” he swore harshly.

“Oh gawd,” Angelus derided, “spare me.”

“Shut up!” Buffy and Angel yelled in unison.

Buffy ground her teeth together, tears streaming down her cheeks.  “I can’t take anymore of this,” she said, her voice barely a whisper.

Carefully venturing closer, Angel reached out a hand to her.  “Please, Buffy – “

“Don’t touch me!” she snapped, wrapping her arms around her waist.  “Stay away from me.  Both of you!”

Angel and Angelus watched in silence as she ran from the store, slamming the door shut behind her.

*****

“Buck up, little toaster,” Angelus said, grinning as he took in his brother’s disheveled appearance.  Three days ago, Buffy Summers walked out of their lives and Angel had been drunk every second since.  Personally, Angelus found it to be too melodramatic for his taste.

Any other time, Angel would have taken it in stride.  He would have just written Angelus’ behavior  off as a not-so-charming part of his brother’s personality and let is slide off his back.  But not this time.  He was finished putting up with all of his brother’s crap.  Growling, he launched himself off the couch and took Angelus down with a flying tackle.

They tumbled over and over.  Much to his disconcertion, Angelus realized his little brother must have been pulling his punches for years.  It took everything he had not to let Angel beat him to a bloody pulp.  When they finally broke apart, both panting hard, they were bloodied and bruised, clothes torn and flesh scraped.

“What the fuck?” Angelus bellowed, wiping at his bloody nose with the back of his hand.

Angel picked up a priceless vase and winged it at his brother.  “I love her, you dick!”

Angelus straightened up, glaring at his brother.  “Listen, princess – “

“No, you listen you stupid, self-centered ass,” Angel countered.  “I love that girl.  I want to be with her and you fucked it all up for me.”

“I did you a favor,” Angelus informed him coldly.

“Do me anymore favors,” Angel warned, “and I swear I’ll kill you.”

***

Joyce pulled the door open, her features set in hard lines.  She looked Angel up and down, taking in his haggard appearance.  He seriously needed a shower and shave, he looked pale.  “I don’t think you should be here,” she said shortly.

“Please, Ms. Summers, I just need to speak with Buffy.”

Joyce crossed her arms over her chest.  “Against my better judgment, I agreed to let my daughter date you.  Now she’s upstairs.  She refuses to leave her room.  She won’t tell me what happened, but I know it has something to do with you.”

“Please,” he pled.  “I just want to talk to her.  If she won’t talk to me, I promise I’ll leave without a scene.”

Sighing and clearly unhappy, Joyce stepped aside.  She preceded Angel up the stairs and rapped sharply on Buffy’s door.  “Buffy, Angel’s here to see you,” she said loudly before turning and giving him a warning look.  She walked back downstairs and disappeared into the kitchen.

Buffy’s door didn’t open and Angel leaned against it.  “Please, Buffy,” he whispered.  “Please just let me talk to you.  I can’t make it better, but please just let me explain.”

After what seemed like hours, the lock on the door flipped.  Angel opened the door and found Buffy sitting on her bed, staring at him with puffy eyes.  He walked inside, locking the door behind himself and knelt at her feet.  He started to reach out to her, but when she recoiled, he immediately pulled back.

“I fucked up,” he said seriously.

“Good call,” Buffy replied coldly.

He looked up at her with pleading eyes and she had to turn away.  “Please, Buffy,” he said.  “I swear, I never meant to hurt you.”

She turned back to him.  “You were going to leave me,” she spat.  “After that first night, you were just going to walk away.  Do you have any idea how much that hurts?”

With a growl he pushed himself to his feet, pacing around her room like a caged tiger.  “I’m an idiot,” he said vehemently.  “Don’t you think I know that?  It was the hardest thing I ever did.  It almost killed me to walk away.”

She rose to her feet, coming to stand right in front of him.  “Then why did you do it?”

He looked at her incredulously.  “This situation isn’t example enough for you?” he asked.  “My life is a freak show, Buffy.  It always has been.  I didn’t want you to have to see the ugliness in it.”

She nodded, looking away.  So he had a point with that one.  His life definitely was strange.  “And when Angelus gave me back to you,” she asked, “why did you keep that a secret then?  Why didn’t you just tell me?”

He looked at her remorsefully.  “Because you would have been so upset with me,” he admitted.  “You would have hated me, just like you hate me now.”

“I don’t hate you,” she whispered pitifully.

He reached out and she backed up.  “Please, Buffy,” he said.  “Don’t pull away.”

She yelled at him inarticulately.  “I love you,” she spat. “But I am so pissed at you right now.  I don’t know what to do about this situation.”

“Me either,” Angel admitted sadly.

***

“He loves you.”

Buffy spun around, staring at Angelus.  She’d just left the Espresso Pump after a much-needed night out with Willow.  “Why would I care about anything you have to say?” she asked.

He closed the distance between them, staring down at her.  “Our parents died when we were ten,” he said blandly.  “Did Angel ever tell you that?”

Buffy blinked up at him, thrown by his strange behavior.  “No,” she admitted.

Angelus shrugged, turning to walk down the sidewalk.  Buffy followed, keeping pace.  “My father dealt with ancient artifacts,” he said.  “Rare items.  A lot of times when you’re in that trade, you have to look the other way, bend a few rules, deal with some unsavory people.”

“Yeah, so my mom runs an art gallery, so what?”

Angelus ignored her flippant tone.  He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one, taking a drag.  “Angel and I grew up all over the world,” he said.  “Europe, Asia, Africa.  We spent at least a year in India.  Some in Central America.  We were in London when a lot of my father’s less sound business decisions came back to haunt him.”

“My dad had a car repo’d once.”

Angelus looked at her blandly.  “This arrangement was a little different,” he said evasively.

“How so?”

“They murdered my parents,” he said coldly.

Buffy stopped walking, staring at him.  “If you’re lying – “

“Slit their throats,” Angelus continued.  “Angel and I were hiding in one of my father’s trunks.  He had these monstrous pieces of luggage that he used to cart around all of his beloved books and artifacts.  They ransacked the room, but they never thought to look there.”

Gaping at him, Buffy asked, “Why are you telling me this?”

“Angel didn’t speak for four years,” Angelus told her coldly.  “The doctors thought he’d fractured mentally.  They were ready to pack him off to some institution, but I wouldn’t let them.”

“I didn’t .. I didn’t know,” she told him.

“My relationship with my brother is strange by any standards,” he said.  “I know that.  But there are some extenuating circumstances.”

Buffy took a deep breath. “Okay, so that offers a lot of insight, but it’s still not an excuse for what the two of you did.”

He stepped closer, his vision caressing her face.  “No,” he said softly, “it’s not.  But it should help explain why Angel believes that the only way to keep people safe is to keep them away from him.  And it also explains why he is so blasé about me meddling in his life.”

“And what about you?” Buffy pressed.  “Why are you here now?  After everything you said in the store the other day, I don’t understand this.”

He shrugged, turning away.  “I don’t want my brother to be miserable,” he said. “And without you, that’s what he is.”

Buffy followed him, pinning him with her gaze.  “Is that all?” she asked, remembering all the times he had pretended to be his brother, all the times he had held her so carefully.

He stepped in closer, cupping her jaw.  His thumb trailed over her lips.  “We can’t always have what we want,” he said.  He pulled away sharply.  “You belong with Angel.”

***

Buffy’s hand closed around the phone tightly and she took a deep breath.  She could be making the biggest mistake of her life.  Her eyes welled with tears.  But her heart ached so much, ached for Angel.  She picked up the phone.

He answered on the second ring.

“I want to see you,” she said.  “Just to talk,” she added hastily.

“Come over.”

“This isn’t – “

“I don’t have any expectations, Buffy,” he interrupted.  “Please, just come over.  We can talk and try and sort some of this out.”

“Give me an hour,” she said, then hung up the phone.

***

Buffy stepped inside as Angel pulled open the door.  She looked around suspiciously. “Is he?”

“He’s gone,” Angel replied.  “I don’t know where, he usually doesn’t tell me.”

She eyed him warily.  “How do I know for sure it’s you.”

He looked at her pitifully, his head cocked slightly to the side.  “Are you honestly going to tell me that you can’t tell the difference?” he asked quietly.

She pursed her lips together and then rolled her eyes.  He was absolutely right.  She didn’t know how she’d ever thought they were the same person, but she was certain that they’d never be able to switch without her knowledge again.  “All right,” she said.  With a sigh, Buffy stepped into Angel’s arms and he hugged her tightly.  “I’m still insanely mad at you,” she said, “just so you know.”

“I know,” he said, rocking her gently.  “And that’s fine.  You can be as mad as you want so long as you don’t leave.”

After several minutes, Buffy pulled back and looked at Angel.  “Did you say something to your brother?” she asked.

He shrugged.  “Not exactly.”

She narrowed her gaze.  “What does that mean?” she pressed.

“It means I beat the shit out of him,” Angel replied unrepentantly.

“You didn’t,” Buffy said, trying not to laugh.

“Oh, I did,” Angel said darkly.  “Why do you want to know?”  He looked at Buffy, his eyes narrowing.  “Did he come see you?”

Buffy bit down on her bottom lip.

Angel growled.  “I’m going to kill him – “

“No,” she said, placating him, “it was fine.  He just ... tried to get us back together, actually.”

Angel stared at her blankly for a moment, then shook his head, at a loss for words.  “That doesn’t really seem like Angelus’ style,” he finally said.

Buffy smiled tightly.  “I think maybe ... he felt bad for what he did.  I think he’s lonely.”

Angel didn’t look convinced and he definitely didn’t want to spend the evening talking about his twin.  Leaning down, he kissed her gently on the lips.  “I have something to show you,” he said.  Grabbing her hand, he led Buffy into the living room which burned with a myriad candles.

“Wow,” she said, looking around.  She noticed the small blanket laid out on the stone floor with the bottle of wine and little basket of food and her eyes went wide.  “You planned this,” she said with a smile in her voice.

He looked at her sheepishly.  “I figured some serious groveling would be in order,” he said urging her to join him on the blanket, both of them sitting cross-legged.  He handed her a glass of cold, crisp white wine.  “Or I figured I could just spike your drink and have my way with you.”

She mock frowned at him but his wicked, lopsided grin made her heart sing.  She loved being able to make him this happy with just her mere presence.  She took a sip of the wine, loving the way it trickled over her tongue.  "I'm pretty sure you mentioned some groveling," she prompted, looking at him expectantly.

He smiled, ducking his head and when he looked at her again, he was deathly serious.  "I love you," he said simply.  "I don't want to learn to live without you.  I don't know if I can."

Buffy nodded.  "Wow, you don't mince words, do you?"

"I messed up," he continued.  “I know that you shouldn’t forgive me, but I’m really hoping that you will.”

Taking a deep breath, she set her wine glass down and reached out, threading her fingers through his.  “I won’t lie to you,” she said.  “What you and Angelus did ... it’s so far beyond the pale that I really can’t even wrap my mind around it.  But Angelus explained a few things, well, okay, didn’t explain exactly, but he brought them up.  Things that we need to talk about.  Things you should have told me.  And while they don’t excuse your behavior, they give me some insight I guess.”

“I never meant to keep anything from you,” he said.

She smiled tightly.  “But you did,” she said softly.  “And you abused my trust and I know, Angel.  I know that you didn’t mean to hurt me.  But you did.  And it can’t ever happen again.”

“It won’t,” he said vehemently.

She studied the firm set of his jaw for a moment.  “I believe you,” she whispered.

Tentatively, he pushed himself forward, bracing his weight on his hands as he leaned in, gently pressing his lips to hers.  She was hesitant at first, but the taste of him, her longing for him won out and she melted into him, parting her lips as she kissed him back.  “I love you, Buffy,” he whispered against her lips.

She pulled back, smiling at him coyly before pushing herself up on her knees and crawling into his lap.  She twined her arms around his neck, her tongue tangling with his as she wrapped her legs around his waist.  He groaned, one hand tunneling fingers through her hair as the other wrapped around her waist, holding her to him.

She yelped, giggling as he tumbled her back on the blanket.  Her laughter died as his lips once again found hers.  Her fingers made quick work of the buttons on his shirt and soon, she ran her fingernails over his bare chest, making him groan into her mouth.  He returned the favor, pulling her shirt over her head.  Soon, they were pulling at clothes until they were both bare.

Buffy gasped, her back arching as Angel entered her slowly.  He kissed his way up her neck, nipping on her earlobe as he whispered to her of how much he had missed her, how he had longed for her body, her heat, her scent.  She groaned, tightening her legs around his waist, biting down on the corded muscle of his shoulder as he thrust harder.

***

Buffy smiled, but blushed crimson.  As the artist left the small room, she turned to Angel who was sitting in the chair.  “This is silly,” she said in a whisper, but she couldn’t stop smiling.

Angel looked over his shoulder in vain, trying to see the guide the tattoo artist had just transferred onto his back.  “You don’t like it?” he asked.

She mock glared at him. “You know I do,” she said, her fingertips tickling over his bare back, careful not to touch the transfer.  It was a beautiful piece of work, or would be when it was finished.  The Celtic design was similar to Angelus’ but not identical, a gryphon rather than a winged dragon and lacking the stylized ‘A’.  “It’s just ... I don’t know.  Isn’t this the kiss of death for all relationships?”

Angel shrugged, looking at the lettering on the paper that the tattoo artist had used to transfer the design to his back.  It was in an ancient dialect that only five people in the world could read, he being one of them.  It looked more like tribal art than a language.  But he knew what it said, and he’d told Buffy as much.  She’d been scandalized when he told her he wanted to tattoo her name on his body.  Scandalized and secretly thrilled.

“I love you,” she whispered, kissing him soundly.

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