The day had ended normally; Angel had taken shelter in his apartment at the abandoned warehouse as he always did when the sun was about to rise. Sometimes he went right to sleep, but sometimes he was unable to and so he read or drew until he grew tired. That morning he had gone right to bed, which was the last thing Angel remembered.
Now that he was aware of where he was, though still unsure as to why, Angel realized that he was hungry. He was hungry for blood, real blood, a craving he had learned to curb years ago. Oh sure, the hunger still reared its ugly head now and again, but that was usually when there was fresh blood around for him to smell. That was not the case now, so where was that hunger coming from.
He had known for the past day or so something strange was happening in Sunnydale, but that was not necessarily newsworthy in this town. He smelled death, the smell of the undead and something else that caught him by surprise, Buffy. There was something off about Buffy's scent, and Angel was shocked by the fact that he was aroused by it.
He was attracted to Buffy and he knew that she was just as attracted to him, but he was not normally so powerfully attracted to her. He sensed someone behind him, sensed that it was Buffy but again there was something wrong, and he started to turn towards her.
"Don't turn around," she said from behind him. She was frightened, he could hear it but what was strange was that he could not smell it on her.
"Buffy?" he said softly, his voice a low growl.
"He's free," she said just as softly. He heard failure and despondence in her voice.
"Who's free?" He asked as he turned to face her despite her request not to. And then he saw her, saw her face and knew. "The Master," he said simply, answering his own question. "How?"
"I'm not sure," she said and the told him what had been happening. "So, the nightmares of Sunnydale citizens are all coming true."
"And yours was becoming a vampire?"
"One of them," she said and her voice caught as if she was about to cry.
"What else?" he asked, closing the distance between them. She looked amazing, even now, and he wanted more than ever to claim her as his.
"Nothing, it doesn't matter now, does it? We need to find a way to reverse this, Angel." He shook his head, wondering where the thoughts of claiming her had come from. He had not had thoughts like that since before his soul had been restored.
She was right, he admired the fact that she still had the discipline to think about her duties. Was this even real? Angel had no idea, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew this was an opportunity he would never get again. He should help her find her watcher and the boy, Billy, who seemed to hold the key to this problem, but instead he found himself closing in as if she were his prey.
He remembered this feeling well, being the predator. He was not accustomed to his victims arousing the hell out of him, though. It was always fun to throw in a little sex with torture, but it had been to add to the pain and disgrace his victims experienced at his hand. Angel merely wanted this girl, pure and simple. This morning, probably an hour ago, there were obstacles in the way of his having her. But now, now, she was one of his kind and those obstacles were gone.
"Angel?" she asked in a voice laced with both innocence and trust that right now she should not have had in him. His head dipped, his mouth closed over hers and he thought in that moment he might have just found heaven. It was as close as he was going to get anyway. He drew her toward him, pressed her body against the length of his letting her feel the evidence of his arousal.
She whimpered softly, Angel did not think she was protesting not that he would have stopped at this point. His game face fell into place when he felt the tickle of one of her elongated fangs against his lower lip. He broke the kiss, tilted his head back and let out a beastly roar. Weeks of forcing himself to stay away from her and the frustration that had ensued as a result were crashing to an unexpected end.
His hands around her waist lowered to cup her bottom and he instinctively ground against her. Her head was against his chest, she was breathing fast even though she no longer needed to breathe. Angel vaguely recalled what it had been like fresh out of the grave. Things like breathing took a while to get out of the habit of doing.
"I need to find Giles," she said, sounding uncertain and scared.
"I need you more," he said gruffly.
"Angel," she said and lifted her head to face him. "There's something wrong with you."
"There's nothing wrong with me, Slayer." Angel was lying, this was no longer him. This was the vampire he had been up until one hundred years ago, this was him without a soul. It seemed that even Billy and his nightmarish world had affected him. Until meeting Buffy Angel had not particularly cared whether or not he had his soul, but now he did. He had a purpose, he had a chance to redeem himself. Perhaps he would not be able to do so in the eyes of The Powers That Be, but at least in his own eyes.
"How can you say that? I haven't seen you for weeks and now you're all over me."
"And you don't like it?"
"I didn't say that, Angel, but we have to find Giles and the others, we have to try and get things back to normal. If you still want to do this, then we'll talk."
He scoffed, with the soul in complete control he would go back to avoiding her, of helping her by calling on Giles and giving him the information she needed.
"Buffy?" It was her Watcher. Angel glanced in the direction the voice had come from and saw Buffy's two friends were with him, too. It was too late and he growled in frustration. "What's going on," he asked. Angel watched as her Watcher's face turned ashen when he realized Buffy was a vampire. "You bastard," Giled cried out. "And we believed you were on our side, that you no longer fed on humans."
"He didn't do it, Giles," Buffy said, moving to stand in front of him as if she was protecting him. Angel could not help but find the gesture endearing though it was a little insulting. He placed both hands on her shoulders, unable to stop touching her. He knew what was going to happen. She was going to find the cure for this problem and he would have to go back to admiring her from afar.
"Buffy, stop defending him," Xander said. "We know you like him, but you don't make it a habit of getting close enough to any other vampires to let them bite you."
"It wasn't him. It was The Master," she said softly. Angel wondered if the others heard her she had spoken so quietly.
"That's impossible, Buffy."
"No, it's not, Giles. I set him free, I feared his being free and so I allowed it to happen."
"What is Angel doing here then?"
"I don't know," Buffy said and Angel could hear a hint of embarrassment in her tone. She no longer had the ability to blush, but Angel could picture what she looked like with color in her cheeks vividly.
"I don't know either. I woke up here."
Xander clearly did not believe him. "Oh come on, you expect us to believe that? I mean at least come up with something better than that."
"Hello? Guys? I'm a vampire and I'm starting to get a little, um, hungry. Do you think we could forget about the questions and get on with finding Billy to hopefully end this. He was here with me, at least his astral body was."
"Are you sure you're up to this, Buffy?" Giles asked.
"I have to admit I'm impressed," Angel said from behind her. He ran one hand down the length of her arm, mindful of the three sets of eyes on them both. "She's been out for a while now and she says she's just now getting the hunger." He squeezed her hand and stepped away from her, it seemed like he was back in control. Nothing like her friends walking onto the scene to ruin the moment. "You'd better go find this Billy, though, before she does something she'll regret later when things are back to normal."
"Very well. Buffy, are you ready then?"
"Yeah, can I have a minute with Angel and I'll catch up with you?"
Giles glanced at them both, Buffy first and then Angel. His eyes said it all, don't hurt her, don't do anything stupid, let her perform her duties. Giles must have realized how tempting it would have been for Angel to have Buffy as one of his kind. Angel knew she did not belong as one of his kind, though, and with that knowledge he nodded simply in Giles' direction.
"You need to hurry up, I don't want you to be too late."
"What's going on with you, Angel?" she asked.
"The soul. It's still here, but I'm wavering on wanting to do the right thing."
"Oh, you mean, you're?"
"So it was him doing that, not you?"
"Not that I haven't thought about it, but yes."
"I feel better now."
"Because I thought you had more class than that," she said with a smile. "Promise me you won't avoid me anymore?"
"I can't promise that, Buffy, but I'll think about it. After today it's probably going to be even harder to be around you."
"Okay," she said, sounding sad. "I've got to go."
"I know," Angel said softly. "As if it's not hard just knowing she's nearby," he murmured to himself as he watched her walk away from him.
"I was close," the beast inside of him broke through.
"Hurry," he called out to her, knowing with the advantage of vampire hearing she heard him. He did not want to do anything he would regret or that she would be unable to forgive him for.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com