She knew there was someone watching her and she knew it was Angel. She wasn’t sure if it was the Slayer who knew when he was there or just her, just Buffy. Didn’t matter. She could walk into the Bronze, air soaked with noise, crammed with bodies, and still find her head turning, her eyes locking onto him, as if the room was empty and they were the only people there.
She couldn’t help it; she spun out the kill, making her moves graceful, taking a pride in every dodged kick, every wild swing that failed to connect as the vampire she was fighting let frustration overcome skill.
She was showing off and she nearly paid for it with her life. A sidelong glance at the tall, dark figure, framed against the weeping willow trees, and her guard dropped just for an instant. Angel was frowning a little and she had to admit he looked good like that. Then she was lying on her back, damp earth staining her new jacket and foul breath gusting against her face, making her wrinkle her nose in disgust.
Anger at her own stupidity gave her the strength to plunge the stake home, twisting her head to the side in an attempt to avoid the cloud of acrid dust, but she hoped her audience would be gone when she struggled to her feet. Or kind enough to pretend he’d only just arrived.
He wasn’t. He came over to her, not hurrying and stood over her, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his coat, watching her in unbroken silence.
She got up, pushing her hair off her face and feeling a blush paint her face. Dark, though. Maybe he wouldn’t notice.
“Go on,” she said, resigned to the fact that she’d just made a fool of herself. “Tell me I fight like a girl.”
He laughed softly at that and she watched his face spring to life. He always looked young, but in a frozen, ageless way. When he laughed, for a moment, just a moment, she saw him how he must have looked when he really was just a few years older than her. “Wouldn’t dream of it.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Maybe a ballroom dancer?”
Indignation held her speechless and then she grinned. “I don’t get the gold?”
His hand cupped her face and she felt his thumb rub at what she guessed was a smudge of dirt. “Depends on what I’m judging you on.”
She made a face. “Slaying’s my major life skill, you know? It’s what I’m best at.”
He hesitated just a second before kissing her, giving her chance to step back, move away. She pressed against him and slipped her hands behind his neck, pulling him down to her with an urgency as intense as his dark gaze. Angel’s lips were cool and smooth and hungry. The kiss ended with Buffy feeling tingles chase heat all over her body. She stared up at him, wondering if he felt the same, her fingers wanting to slide over his body, explore and touch it.
“You kiss like...”
“A girl?” she teased. “Or maybe a woman, if you want to be all –”
His arms went around her and the kiss was hard enough to bruise without losing any tenderness. How did he do that? Kiss her so she felt safe and protected, cradled and embraced – and still make her feel as if they were about to step out of a plane with parachutes that might not open? He was hard against her and she couldn’t help squirming a little, biting down on his lip. She was the Slayer and she’d just killed. It made her ache deep down, made her feel restless and exhilarated.
His eyes were wild as he stepped back and she felt a surge of gratification that she’d shattered the calm he wrapped himself in. “Like a devil,” he said hoarsely. “Like a she-devil, sent to tempt me.”
She followed him, step for step, winding her fingers between his, halting his retreat. She cocked her head and stared at him, smiling.
“How good are angels at resisting temptation?”
“Very good,” he murmured against her lips. “But, you see, I’m a fallen angel. We’re terrible at it.”
She carried on kissing him, carried on trading dialogue between the kisses until there was nothing left to say but his name, gasped out as he whispered hers against her hair, her lips, her neck...and hoped he was telling the truth.
She wanted him too much, to want him to be strong.
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