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Living On the Edge

Chapter Text

**Part One**
Word Count: 2,341

May 2000
Los Angeles, California

They were down to one, Charles having dispensed with his. Whether he knew it or not, she always managed to get the brunt of the vamps, leaving him with the table scraps. He was only human after all. A good fighter, but still just a man. Riley would have caught on and complained by now. Charles had yet to say a word, almost as if he didn't notice her sneakiness.

"Behind you."

Buffy didn't need the warning. She'd already slid her stake under her arm, letting the vamp impale his own bad guy heart without even batting an eyelash. Your run of the mill vampires were so mundane at times. Defeating things like Adam and Mayor Wilkins left her feeling above a measly vampire staking at times. But it was still her calling. And there was nothing like a good spot of violence.

"Man, you are quite enjoyable to watch."

"Thanks," Buffy said, pocketing her stake. She'd just dispensed with her third vamp of the night. Charles had taken out a couple, too. There was a never ending supply in LA it seemed.

They had met her first night patrolling here in LA. Neither was sure what to make of the other at first, until they'd realized they were fighting for the same side. Now they hunted together. She was going stir crazy from being at her dad's with no one to hang with. He said he couldn't sleep. She could understand that. And so they had fallen into a somewhat odd friendship. When they were done for the night they usually found somewhere to talk or just hang out together. Sometimes it was on her dad's front porch or the driveway in Charles' car. There was something to be said for killing things together. For knowing about the monsters together.

Buffy wasn't stupid. She saw the haunted, distant look in his eyes sometimes. He had heavy things on his mind. And he was probably dangerous at those times, too. To himself. She wasn't worried about her. She could take care of herself. She hadn't mentioned she was the slayer. It didn't seem important. If he suspected that she was more than just your average girl who hunted the things that went bump in the night she didn't know.

She felt a little guilty when Charles put his arm around her. The guilt came from the fact that she let him more than his actually doing it. And she liked it. She wasn't being honest with Charles or herself if she considered herself completely available.

She and Riley were taking a break. After everything that had happened with Adam, they both needed it. She was still trying to sort it all out. The Initiative. The government wanting to experiment on the monsters. Riley had chosen her, but would he the next time? Had he learned anything? Would he be right there at the opening of the next Initiative-like facility? It was why she'd moved her visit to her dad's up after finals. She wanted the respite. She felt terrible for feeling that way.

She felt more terrible still when she found herself comparing Charles to Riley. Here was a guy who was street smart, knew the dangers yet still fought the vampires with his fists. Well, more or less. No fancy gadgets or weapons. He didn't have drugs or computer systems to tell him stuff. He just did it.

"I mean that, too, Buffy. I've been on these streets a long time, fighting. It's refreshing to see someone who makes an art out of it."

"Well, I'm not sure anyone wants to make an art out of death."

"You're killing scum, Buffy, lower than scum."

"Oh, I know that," she said, sliding her arm around his waist. She let her head rest against his shoulder. It was a casual thing, but it was comfortable walking with him like this. And nice feeling in ways she should probably ignore.

"So, you ready to call it a night?"

"Sure," she said. "My dad will be expecting me home pretty soon."

He snorted at that. She got the impression Charles Gunn didn't answer to anybody.

"Well, I'm in college, so I don't have a real strict curfew, but still. I have to make an appearance."

"I get that, Buffy. Anyway, I'll get you home."

"Okay. Maybe we can watch a movie or something."

"If you want. Sure. It's been a while since I've kicked back. Even longer since I've kicked back with a pretty chick."

She pouted, toying with her lower lip. "I'll accept the pretty part, but work on the chick part."

"A pretty woman. Is that better?"

"Much," she said. She stopped, turning into his embrace a little. Both arms went around his waist. "Chicks are little yellow birds that represent Easter. They're cute and squeaky."

"I'll remember that."

His dark eyes, barely discernable in the night, met hers and she knew this was do or die time. He was letting her make the move, if there was going to be one. Could she have a summer fling? She decided as she moved in to give him a kiss that she was thinking entirely too hard on the situation. For the moment, she was a free woman. He was a free guy. They were attracted to one another. And they had some post-slaying energy to deal with. She'd kind of gotten used to not having to use food as a way to burn that energy off.

Their kiss turned hungry and needy fast. She wasn't sure who was hungrier or needier just then nor did she care. Her hands tugged on his shirt, pulling it from the waist of his jeans so she could touch him. Skin to skin. Feel the heat of him.

She groaned softly, lips parting, wanting more of him in her mouth when her hands found his skin was as warm to the touch as she'd thought. His hands were busy caressing her ass and the small of her back.

She found one of his nipples and heard him groan into their kiss when she stroked it with the pad of her thumb. It was a heady feeling, his reaction and she went with that. She felt his hand under her skirt, caressing her ass through her satin panties.

He drew away, his fingertips grazing her thighs just even with the hem of her skirt. Just a little longer and he would have been in her panties, too. She wondered what it meant that she wanted that. She kissed his jaw, finding his ear and the side of his neck.

"Ease up, baby."

"Huh?"

"While Gunn appreciates you're primed and ready to go, we're out in the open."

"Oh," she said, more than a little frustrated as she rested her head against his chest. She heard his heart pound, knew he was primed, too.

He palmed her cheek with his hand, lifting her face so she was forced to look at him. He smiled then. It was a nice smile, even if the look in his eyes rarely matched.

"Relax, baby, I'll get you home. If you'd like to stop off somewhere for a bit we could do that. I'm sure there's an empty alley or something by where your old man lives."

They walked to his car arm and arm. They were already in a secluded area. Warehouse district or something. At night. There was no one around but them. And the dust from the vamps they'd killed. She didn't even let him get the car started. She was on him as soon as he sat in the driver's seat.

He didn't seem to mind. His kisses had the same urgency she was feeling just then. Her hand slid to his crotch, stroking him through his jeans. He was already growing hard.

"Christ, Buffy," he murmured as she slinked lower in the seat to unfasten his pants. She'd never done anything like this. Gone down on someone in a car. Hell, she hadn't even done it to Riley that often as part of sex. Tonight, though, she couldn't wait.

Her cry was muffled due to her mouth being full when his hand slid under her skirt and pushed aside her panties. His fingers got busy quick. It seemed the faster she stroked him with her mouth his fingers echoed the pattern.

"Baby likes it a little nasty," he whispered as she circled his head with her tongue. She'd never really thought of herself as nasty or sleazy. Her venture into sex before a full-fledged relationship had been established taught her a lesson it took her a long time to get over.

She liked hearing it though, and he seemed to pick up on that. She took him deeper still, busily using her mouth and tongue. She bucked back against his hand and fingers as she reached the point she'd needed, wanted, to achieve for what seemed like forever now.

His hand came down on one of her ass cheeks with a crack as he shot off in her mouth. It sounded incredibly loud in the otherwise quiet car. Their groans and other noises were no competition for the sound of skin to skin contact. She felt him stiffen, as he pumped into her, deeper and deeper. She wasn't well practiced but she thought she did pretty well taking so much of him without gagging.

"Watch me, baby," he whispered as he slid his hand along her ass before lifting it up. She sat back a little, letting him slip out of her mouth to look at him as he'd asked. He took each finger into his mouth one by one, licking it clean.

"You are the tastiest thing."

She groaned at that. Riley never said things like that. He didn't talk much period. It was kind of exciting. She leaned over him, taking him into her mouth to be sure she'd licked him clean. She liked the feel and taste of him.

"You are, too," she said, shifting so she could rest her head against his lap. He draped an arm over her stomach, pushing her skirt down.

"Just in case someone passes by."

"Right. Because the windows being fogged up wouldn't tell them anything."

He chuckled at that.

"I should tell you, I don't normally do that. I mean, I don't you know to every guy I meet."

"I got that, baby."

"Okay. And if it doesn't happen again. I mean, if you just want to go back to hunting together."

"Are you nuts? You think I want to let someone else get a piece of you now?"

"Hmm, there's a good reason."

"I've been trying to think of an excuse to see you outside of our nightly hunts all week."

"Really?"

"Really, Buffy. If this didn't just prove it, I like you. A lot."

"I like you, too," she said quietly. It didn't hurt as much as she thought it would to say that. She didn't feel like she was betraying Riley. That shocked her.

"I don't normally either. I know guys have a reputation for thinking with anatomy other than their head, but I don't usually let that control me."

"Okay," she said, tilting her head back against his thigh so she could look at him. He ran his fingers through her hair. She should feel weird, dirty, guilty but she didn't. She felt oddly invigorated, good.

"I'll get you home now. And I guess now I shouldn't feel weird about asking you to a movie or something."

"Sure."

"You sure? Maybe you don't want more?"

"No, I'm sure, Charles."

"All right. And just cuz that happened tonight, doesn't mean it has to every night. Not that I'd complain if it did."

"Thanks." She sat up then and kissed him. "A lot."

"You're welcome a lot, baby. Now, let's get you home to Daddy so he doesn't take your T-bird away."

"Huh?"

He chuckled. "Don't want him to think I'm the reason you're out late and forbid me from seeing you. Is he going to have a problem with me?"

"A problem with you?"

"I'm black, you're white."

She shrugged. "I don't think so. It's never come up before, but I'm nineteen."

"Fair enough. Just making sure you're cool with my picking you up and stuff."

"That's fine."

"Putting my arm around you and stuff."

"If you must."

"Aww, baby, I have a feeling I'll must a lot."

Her heart did a little flip flop at that comment. It was exciting. "I'll take that to heart."

"You do that."

He started the car after adjusting his pants. She couldn't help but laugh as he worked at putting himself back together again. It was much easier for her.

He walked her to the door once they got to her dad's house. The porch light was on, but otherwise there were no signs of life. She imagined as long as she didn't give her dad any indication she was up to her old tricks he'd let her do pretty much whatever she wanted.

He leaned in once she'd gotten the door unlocked and turned to face him. His mouth found hers and if she doubted his sincerity earlier about liking her, she didn't anymore. He parted his lips slightly, but made no effort to deepen the kiss beyond a touching of the lips. Soft, gentle, tender, something suggesting he'd be back.

"Good night, Charles."

"Night, Buffy. Sleep well."

"I don't think that will be a problem tonight."

She smiled at that. "Shh."

"Listen to you, all shy now." He kissed her again. "I'll call you tomorrow."

"Okay."

She went inside, waiting to shut the porch light off until she saw him drive away. She felt good. The high from slaying had been sated and she knew she'd sleep well. A good orgasm could do that. And this one had been good. She couldn't imagine how good he'd be with more than just his hands.

Chapter Text

**Part Two**
Word Count: 2,108

"I'm heading out, Daddy."

"Wait a minute, Buffy. Where are you off to?"

"I'm not sure. A movie probably. Dinner."

"With Charles?"

"Yes."

"All right. Tell him to have you home at a reasonable hour."

"Dad."

"All right. I won't wait up, you know that. So be sure you have your key." He folded his Wall Street Journal and set it down, walking to her. He gave her a kiss on the forehead. "You've been good so far. I trust you, Buffy."

"Thanks." She felt like a dog, receiving praise from its master. Oh well. At least her mom understood why she was the way she was. "See you tomorrow."

"Okay. Have fun."

"Good night," she called out, closing the front door behind her as she went out to meet Charles. He took her into his arms and gave her a big kiss. Neither was too concerned with whether her dad was watching. She was no longer overly concerned about Riley either. Charles had met her dad a time or two, so he no longer came to the door every time. Buffy didn't really see the sense in it, since he was just going to turn around and walk back out again.

She'd spent every night the past three weeks with him. And most of the days, too. She'd put off her return to Sunnydale. Giles had indicated that there was nothing going on. She let Willow know, but that was it. Well, besides her mom. She was here indefinitely, maybe the whole summer. She deserved it, Giles agreed.

"Hey, baby, you're looking fine tonight."

"Thanks." He said that every night, but it was still nice to hear.

"It's too bad we're hunting big bad vampires."

"Oh?"

"Yes. The way you dress sometimes gives me ideas."

"Huh."

"As if you didn't know."

"I had no idea."

"Right," he said, opening her door for her. They'd fooled around some since that one night, but not to that point. She wasn't sure why, it just hadn't happened. Maybe they were both just seeing where this went. And she definitely wasn't complaining. She liked knowing he liked her not her body. Or her blow job abilities as the case was since they hadn't gotten to sex that night. He seemed to understand that wasn't how she typically went about things.

The uncertainty of what would happen after summer was probably a part of it, too. She wasn't sure about Charles, but she wasn't sure how she felt about going back to Sunnydale with a boyfriend in LA. It wasn't like their respective lives allowed them to visit one another frequently. As it was, they saw one another every day now because they both hunted the same things. And, even if she had already formed conclusions, there was still Riley to contend with. Her dad posted messages on the refrigerator from him once in a while. Buffy rarely called back, and if she did she made sure to do it at times she knew Riley was likely gone.

Avoidy, that was Buffy for the summer.

"So, tonight, we're doing something different."

"Oh?" That piqued her interest.

"Yes. There's a guy I help out once in a while. He called looking for some assistance with a nest. I told him I'd be bringing along some extra muscle."

"And he was okay with that?"

"I told him I wanted to show my girl how the real demon hunters handled things."

Buffy laughed lightly at that. He still had no idea who she was. It was kind of nice to be treated like any other woman would be treated. She'd have to tell him eventually if they were going to see this past the summer. Until then, she wasn't going to reveal her secret. Giles would be proud of her.

"I'm not sure what you're laughing at? The my girl part?"

"No. There's nothing funny about that."

"So, that's okay?"

"What?"

"That I told him you were my girl?"

"Sure." Buffy shrugged. "As long as you don't call me the ball and chain or something else equally as objectionable."

"All right. So then it was the real demon hunters part?"

"Yeah. You don't think I'm a real demon hunter?"

"Sweetness, you know I do. I've been telling you for over three weeks I've never seen anything like you. Not even this dude we're meeting tonight. I just have to talk big, you know."

"Okay."

"Aww, don't pout. As cute as you are when you do that thing with your lower lip and those eyes of yours I like you far better when you're perky and upbeat."

She snorted again.

"All right, that was a little thick."

"Just a little."

"I'll shut up now, lest I back myself into a corner where I end the night with no Buffy loving whatsoever."

"Yeah, you better."

"Don't be so agreeable." He slid his hand over hers, lacing his fingers in between hers. "Buffy loving is the highlight of my day."

"Mine, too. I mean, the Charles loving."

"Right. I get it."

"All righty. Let's go kill us some vampires."

"Sounds like a plan to me. I'd still like to know how you managed to hide the chest of deadly weapons from your dad."

"Parents only see what they want to. I don't have to hide it from my mom. She knows. Dad doesn't. But now, I just leave it in your trunk so I don't need to worry about him finding it."

Buffy didn't recognize the area Charles drove to at all. That didn't surprise her. There were aspects to LA Buffy was sure she'd never had reason to see until getting her calling. Her time had been cut short here, otherwise Charles probably would know who she was because their paths would have crossed.

"He must not be here yet. We'll just get our things together so we're ready when he does get here. He comes already prepared for the most part. He's got some pretty impressive goodies. Nothing compared to your arsenal, but some tricky stuff. Stakes in his sleeve, stuff like that."

"Cool," Buffy said, getting out of the car. "Any idea where it is?"

"Not for sure, no. He just told us to meet him here."

"And the three of us are going to take out a nest?"

"I think he'll be bringing some help, too."

"All right then," Buffy said, scrounging through her weapons chest once Charles popped the trunk for her.

"There he is," a man's voice called out. He had a British accent, reminding her of Giles and Wesley. In fact, she mused he sounded a lot like Wesley. She wondered if they were from the same area then.

"How's it going?" Charles asked. Buffy heard the sound of skin to skin contact and realized the two must be shaking hands.

"Not bad."

"Glad you could make it."

"Make it? We were here before you."

Buffy froze, her mind processing what she was hearing. A Wesley sound-alike she could understand, but Wesley and Angel. What was this? Buffy hallucinating night? Her weapons chosen, she straightened from the trunk to close it.

"There's my girl. This is the woman I was telling you guys about. You'd think she was born into it. She's that smooth."

Buffy wasn't sure if it was her imagination, but the air just grew all kinds of thicker from tension. She saw the look of disbelief on Angel's face, clouding even darker into what she was certain was jealousy when Charles draped an arm around her shoulders. What right did he have to be jealous?

"Hi," she said simply. She would have preferred finding a hole in the ground about now but one of them had to speak. Wesley seemed just as surprised. "What the hell is Wesley doing here?" She hadn't meant to say it out loud, but it slipped out before she could censure it.

"You know Wes, baby?"

"Uh yeah, Angel, too."

"How so?"

Angel started to speak, but before he could say something that would tear her heart out again by lessening their relationship she spoke up first.

"He's my ex."

"Your what? You dated a vampire?"

"Well, a vampire with a soul."

"How do you know the difference?"

She shrugged. "I've seen the difference up close and personal. Believe me, you'd know if Angel was soulless."

"You never mentioned you knew the new girl in town, Angel."

"I didn't realize she was in town. Why aren't you in Sunnydale? What happened to Riley?"

"I'm visiting my dad. You know that. And Riley," she shrugged. "Too many differences to overcome."

He snorted at that.

"Yeah, I know how to pick them, don't I?" She glanced at Wesley who hadn't said anything. "Hi, Wesley. Good to see you again."

"Yes, of course. You as well, Buffy. I heard about the spell you and the others did to defeat Adam and The Initiative. Very impressive work."

"Thanks. I'm just glad it worked. Too many died, though. I just hope the government learned their lesson."

"It's doubtful. You Americans."

"Yeah, Giles said something similar. I'm surprised you knew about that."

"I kept up. My father," Wesley shrugged then, looking a little defeated. The confident way he'd stood and held himself up until a moment ago seemed to fade away.

"Don't worry about it. Thanks for the congrats. I couldn't have done it without the others, though. I could have done without the bizarre dreams I had afterward."

"Dreams?"

"Yeah, actually, we all had them. Connecting with the First Slayer I guess. She didn't like it."

"The first what?" Charles asked.

"He doesn't know what you are?" Angel asked.

"No, I haven't told him."

"Told me what?" Charles asked. She noticed his hold on her continued to increase, grow a little tighter, tugging her a little closer the more they talked and it was clear she and Angel really did know one another.

"Thanks a lot."

"You can't hide something like that from him, Buffy. He thinks you're just a normal girl. He's liable to get hurt thinking he needs to protect you."

"I think he knows he doesn't need to protect me. I usually end up with the tougher vamps anyway." Oh shit. "Me and my big mouth," she muttered under her breath.

Charles's arm slid from around her, he stepped away. "Just who are you then? What do they know I don't?"

"I'm the slayer."

"The what?"

"You hunt vampires but don't know what a slayer is?"

"No."

"Wesley, this is your territory," she said, glancing at the former watcher. The confident man was back as he dove into his spiel about the slayer. Buffy felt the weight of Angel's stare on her as Wesley prattled on, telling Charles more than he'd ever really need to know about the slayer. He even told him personal stuff about her, about her and Angel.

"So that scar on your neck is from him?" Charles asked, obviously processing all that Wesley had told him.

"Yeah."

"I just assumed you'd gotten bit by a vamp at some point."

"Well, I did, just not the way you thought."

"This is."

"Listen," Buffy interrupted. "We came here to take out a vamp nest. Hate me, never see me again if that's the way you want to play it, but I came here tonight to kill some things. So, let's put the personal business on hold and go to work."

"You heard the lady," Wesley said, beaming as if he was a proud parent.

"Angel, fill us in." His eyes snapped up to meet hers. She took him by surprise getting down to business, going into slayer mode on him. They usually, in the past anyway, worked together. There was no Buffy in charge. That was different. She wasn't sure what it was, but ever since the spell they'd done to defeat Adam she'd felt more Slayery. For lack of any other way to describe it. Connected. Primal. She needed to hunt, which was why she'd been overjoyed at the idea of a vamp nest.

"All right," he said, doing just that. Her eyes darted to Charles while Angel spoke. He was hurt. She didn't need to hear what he had to say to know that much. Apparently, the idea of a secret identity staying that way didn't register with him at the moment.

She just hoped she'd get a chance to explain, try and get him to understand later. At the moment, though, she was more concerned with ridding LA of some baddies. That was what she'd come here to do after all, and her staking hand was itching for some action.

Chapter Text

**Part Three**
Word Count: 2,829

She'd left messages, she'd gone to the places they frequented together. It was going on close to a week since she'd heard from Charles. She stood outside Angel's office, not sure why she was here. She had no idea how to find Charles. Angel was the only connection she had to him. He had mentioned Angel looked him up once in a while, so that suggested he knew how to get a hold of Charles.

"Hi Cordelia," Buffy said, not at all surprised to see Cordelia this time. It had been odd the first time around. "Is Angel here?"

"Yeah, in his office," Cordelia said with barely a glance in Buffy's direction.

"Thanks."

She closed the door behind her, taking a moment to take him in. There was a time she thought her world rose and set around him. He was still nice to look at, there was no denying that. The hurtful words, the actions that showed he was trying to move on without her, forge his own life here in LA. Those things were fresh in her mind. She'd avoided coming here before now, letting him know she was here for a while because of that.

"Hi," she said simply.

"Hi yourself. I'm surprised to see you here."

She shrugged. "Are you?"

"Yes."

"I haven't heard from or seen Charles in five days. Do you have anything to do with that?"

"Me?"

"Yeah, you didn't like warn him away. Or tell him the more personal details that Wesley fortunately left out."

"No, I wouldn't do that, Buffy, though he's going to put two and two together eventually. He knows about the curse, he knows that something made me happy enough to lose the soul recently."

"Great."

"What's your game, Buffy?"

"My game?"

"Yeah. It's bad enough you take up with Finn in your territory, but you have to come mess in my pond. Pick one of my guys."

"I didn't know he was one of your guys. Don't you think if I knew he had any connection to you I'd have stayed away."

"Really?"

"God, yes, Angel. We met while we were both hunting one night. We started meeting up after that, eventually a couple of days later we went for something to eat. It just happened. He seems so alone, and something else. I don't know what."

"He had to kill his sister."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me."

"Oh," she said, processing that. Explaining the haunted look in his eyes clear enough. And why Angel was worried by not knowing Buffy was the Slayer Charles would worry about her, get distracted. "I didn't know."

"Well, now you do."

"A lot of good it'll do me if he refuses to speak to me."

"He'll come around. He likes you. You should have heard the way he talked about you before that night. For days that was all I heard about."

"And you didn't know it was me?"

"No, he never said your name, just that he'd met a female demon hunter that appeared as if she was born into it."

"Little did he know."

"Why didn't you tell him?"

"Because there was no sense telling him my secret until I know what we're doing. For all I know, this is just a summer thing and when I go back to Sunnydale in the fall we'll go our separate ways. Giles wouldn't be too happy yet another person knows my identity."

"Are things really over with Finn? Or is it just a summer fling for you?"

"They're over. He doesn't know they are yet, not completely. That's not something I want to tell him over the phone. He deserves that much. You knew that, though. You knew I wouldn't see someone else if I was still serious about Riley. So, why are you asking?"

He wrote something down and handed the piece of paper to her.

"Because he's a friend, and I don't want you messing with his head. It could lead to his getting killed."

"Thanks a lot."

"Just stating the facts, Buffy. Anyway, here's his address. I wouldn't recommend going there after dark."

"Ha ha."

"I'm serious, Buffy. It's a rough neighborhood."

"Okay. Why are you doing this?" She took the piece of paper, glanced at the address. She kind of knew where it was.

"You coming here tells me a lot. It takes guts coming to your ex to ask for information on the new guy you're sleeping with."

"We're not," she stopped then. It was really none of Angel's business what they were doing. She saw by the look in his eyes that he was well aware their relationship wasn't strictly platonic either. Great, just what had Charles told him not realizing he was talking to Angel about his ex? "Thanks. And if you need help, you know where to find me for a while at least."

"Thanks."

"Oh, and Angel?"

"Yeah."

"It was nice working with you again that night."

"I agree. It's been a while. Too long."

She paused, not sure what else to say.

"Was there anything else?"

"No, I guess I'll see you later."

"Okay," he said, making a point - almost too much of one - to get back to work.

"Bye, Cordelia," she said on her way out.

She checked the address Angel had written. She pulled out the LA street map her dad kept in the glove compartment and found it on the map. It wasn't too far from here. She didn't think Angel's warning was something to dismiss. If he was warning her of all people there was a reason for it.

She put the car in gear and drove toward Charles' neighborhood. She watched the area grow worse as she drove and knew why Angel had cautioned her. This wasn't a vampire or demon problem. These were people down on their luck that had nothing to do with their time but to look for and cause trouble. And from the look of many of them, they had nothing left to lose. It'd already been pretty much beaten out of them already.

She found the address, parked and locked the car. Now that she was here, she wasn't sure what to say to Charles, assuming he'd give her the chance to say anything.

She walked to the door, finding no doorbell she knocked on the door. She didn't hear any movement from inside and after a couple of minutes turned to leave. Only then did the door open. He looked terrible. Was that because of her? His sister? What? She wasn't sure she had the right to ask.

"Yeah, I get that's how you found me."

"Can I come in?"

He stepped aside, letting her in. The house smelled stale, as if it hadn't gotten any air for a while. But it was fairly clean she noticed as he led her to the living room. He had a sports channel on, but the sound was off.

He sat on one end of the couch so she took the other. He was evidently waiting for her to say something.

"I'm sorry you had to find out that way."

"Which part?"

"Which part what?"

"The fact that you boned a vampire? The fact that you have a boyfriend back home? Which would imply I'm just a convenience thing? Or the fact that you lied to me about who you were?"

"I've worked real hard to put Angel behind me. My relationship with him is complicated. He was my first."

"I don’t want to know that."

"He was my first everything, Charles, not just that. My first real boyfriend. And he knew about the monsters. He knew what I went through night after night and he helped me. He made it less of a chore. He made it bearable."

She sighed, taking hold of a throw pillow and clutched it to her abdomen.

"I'm not proud of what happened between us. It was bad. You know about the curse he said. It was because of me he lost his soul. What we did. It took me a long time to come to terms with that. So, no, I don't walk around broadcasting I had sex with a vampire. By the time I figured out he was a vampire, though, it was too late, I was already in love with him."

"I thought you had some inherent radar or something."

"I guess I just didn't see the signs with him. He seemed normal. He helped me. He gave me a cross," she clutched that very cross with her hand now. "I'd never heard of a vampire with a soul, so I don't think my mind could process he was a vampire."

She tossed the pillow aside and moved to the floor, kneeling in front of him. She took his hands in hers.

"As far as my boyfriend back home. We broke up before I came up here for the summer. I meant what I told Angel when I said there were too many differences. He was," she shrugged. "He couldn't handle my being the slayer, my being stronger than him. And he had a real hard time trusting me with Angel."

"Understandable if you're the only thing in one hundred years to make him happy. Not to mention, it's kind of hard for those of us who have experience in the single digits to compete with someone with a couple centuries of it."

She smiled at that. "I didn't plan on this happening between us. When we first met, I was just glad to have someone to hunt with who wasn't fretting over me or whether I was making them look bad."

"You mean, he knew you were the slayer and wanted to protect you?"

"Something like that."

He smiled then. "I can kind of understand that. A guy wants to protect his woman."

"Sure, but it wasn't really about protection. He saw things differently." She explained about the Initiative and their plan, Adam. "He thought he was better than me, his way I mean. I just needed to not be in a relationship. I met you. You hunted demons, you were willing to let me do my thing without getting all hovering and protecting on me. I wasn't counting on the fact I'd start to like you."

"Start?"

"Well, that was weeks ago. It's more than start now. And I didn't know about your sister, Charles. Or I would have told you."

"Angel had no right…"

"I think he wanted me to understand why I should have told you my secret. But, see, it's supposed to be a secret. I'm not supposed to be running around telling anyone who I am. There are a few people who know, you're one of them now. All of you found out by accident. If I'd known about your sister, I would have told you so that you would have known I could handle myself better than your average human."

She saw tears glimmering in his eyes and she kissed him, resting her head against his chest. She couldn't imagine losing someone she loved to the bad guys. Strike that. She did know what it was like when Angel lost his soul. And she'd had to kill him, too. But she hadn't had protective, sisterly urges about Angel.

"These last few days have been hard. I didn't know what was going on."

"You lied to me, Buffy. You let me think you were just a demon hunter."

"I am!"

"Yeah, with an enhanced package."

She drew away again. He wasn't making with the understanding very well.

"Okay, do you not understand the meaning of the words 'secret identity'? It's not like I woke up every morning and said, 'Oh good, another day I get to hide who I am from Charles.' I was planning on telling you."

"When?"

"Actually, I was waiting to see what happened when the summer was over."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, I wasn't sure what you considered me. This. Us. And when I go back to Sunnydale, I wasn't sure what was going to happen."

"Because I'd let a couple hours keep me away from a fine woman?"

She smiled, tucking some hair behind her ear. "A couple hours can be tough. Especially when I'm going to be in college."

"And I'm not? College material I mean."

"No, I didn't say that. Just that I'll be, you know, studying and stuff. Add into it you know my ex, not just know him but know what he is." She shrugged, lacing her fingers through his. "I just didn't want to take the chance of telling you who I was and then find out this wasn't anything to you but hanging out."

"You know better than that."

"No, I really don't. Relationships and me. Well, not so much with the goodness. I'm really not sure and I didn't want to push you, or do something you might think was pushing you."

"I just…"

She stood then and moved to sit on his lap, knees on either side of him. She slid her arms to his shoulders, going around his neck.

"Am I pushing you?"

"No."

She kissed him, lingering a little. "I know it hurts and I know you probably don't want to talk about it. But if you ever want to talk about your sister, I'm all ears. And I'm here for you even if you just feel shitty about it but don't want to talk."

He smiled and she kissed his cheeks, grazing under his eyes to capture the tears there.

"And I'd love it if you came down to Sunnydale to visit me once in a while."

"You would, huh?"

"Yeah," she said with a shrug. "If you wanted to I mean. I don't want to push, and I understand why you're mad. I really do."

"It just took me by surprise. It made me wonder what you see in someone like me. Angel told me the boyfriend was a college guy, Army guy."

"Yeah."

"I'm not those things. Your dad tolerates me, but I'm sure if he thought the lily white family tree of yours was going to get sullied…"

"My dad hasn't said anything one way or another and I don't live with my dad."

"Your mother then."

"I'm an adult, and my mom knows I'm the slayer. She realizes that being the slayer may shorten my life pretty drastically. So, I think if I chose the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater as my lover she'd be okay with it because she wants me to be happy during what time I do have. And she knows Angel is a vampire and that our relationship was all about the drama. So, I think human and un-dramatic would be okay with her whoever you are."

"I love that song."

She smiled with a light laugh. "So, are you stupid?"

"What?" He looked insulted, which she expected.

"Are you stupid?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"Well, you make it sound like college is a big deal, which it is if you want to make with being a lawyer or something. I'm going because my mom is sending me, can send me. You don't have that. And, you've had a lot going on, life and stuff besides the money issue."

"And you're okay with that? Come on."

"I'm lucky I graduated high school, Charles. Do you understand that? How many times I was late or had to cut because of a demon or something. I burned down my school's gym here in LA." She cupped his cheek, rubbing hers against his. "You could always come to Sunnydale and stay."

"How's that?"

"Financial aid, student loans."

"I don't know, Buffy."

"You'd still get to hunt vamps and demons because you'd be with me."

"LA…"

"Is home. I get that. It's just a thought. You know, in case you think I'm not in this or into you. And if you stay here, I know Angel could use your help."

"Yeah, he's always good for some fun."

She smirked. "Spoken like a true vampire hunter. No one else would think a spot of violence is fun." She wiggled a little, settling on his lap a bit more. "Now, do I get a tour while I'm here?"

"A tour, huh?"

"Yeah, I've never been here."

"Anything in particular you wanted to see?"

"Mm," she said, settling in for a kiss. "Wherever your bed is."

He kissed her then and stood with her still settled on his lap. She let out a laugh and wrapped her legs around him.

"You're so small. It's hard for me to believe you're the slayer. That you're like a superhero."

"Only when I'm hunting vamps and demons. Otherwise, I'm just a girl, Charles."

"Anything but just, Buffy."

"Thank you," she said, finding his mouth again as he walked her in a direction she hoped would lead where she requested.

Chapter Text

**Part Four**
Word Count: 1,840

September 2000

"I knew you weren't crazy," Charles said from his position on Buffy's bed. Willow was out with Tara and if Buffy guessed correctly wouldn't be back. All was right in the world once again. She hoped Willow wouldn't be back anyway, because she was standing here naked and Charles wore nothing but his underwear. She didn't plan on him having those on too much longer either.

"You did, huh?"

"Yes," he said, holding a hand out to her.

She took it, letting him pull her to the bed. His arm went underneath her as she lay next to him.

"Well, I'm glad you had confidence in me. The people that have known me for years - my best friend! - should have." She turned onto her side, facing him and slid a hand to his abdomen. "I have to admit there was a time there I wasn't sure I wasn't crazy. You get told 'no' so many times and you start to wonder why you're the lone standout."

"I'm sorry I didn't meet him."

"Maybe that's why you believed me when they didn't. I mean, it was Dracula."

She snuggled against his arm, reaching to touch his jaw with a fingertip. "I'm glad you're here now."

"Miss me, baby?"

"Mm, naturally."

"Afraid I wouldn't come visit?"

"There was that."

"I told you I wanted to give you time to get into your classes and stuff like that."

"Doesn't mean I didn't want you to visit."

"Well, I'm here now. Want to spend it talking about it or can we find something better to occupy our time with? I swear after that night at my house it was almost like we were never alone again."

"We were alone."

"Yeah, in my car or your dad's living room."

"You never invited me back."

He smoothed back some of her hair. "Because I see what you're used to and my house isn't it."

"Charles. We're not going through this again."

"I know, but you asked."

"There's nothing wrong with your house."

"Sure. And the next morning when you went out to find your car without tires, or worse, you'd have to explain to your dad why you were in that neighborhood."

His eyes fell closed when she grazed one of his nipples with the pads of his fingers. She liked the way he responded to her touch.

"I like the way you touch me," he whispered, as if reading her mind.

"Me, too."

He chuckled. "Yeah, I get that, you just don't get to do it as often as I'd like."

"I already gave you the option."

"I know, baby, but LA needs me."

It went without saying that Angel needed him. Neither spoke of Angel often, not unless they had to. And the need to rarely happened.

"I know, doesn't mean I have to like it and won't pout or pull out all my weapons to try and convince you."

He chuckled. "I think I will like that. A lot," he added hoarsely as she straddled him. The look in his eyes when she took him inside of her was so amazing. Riley always closed his, almost always anyway. She couldn't remember him looking at her like this, though. Like being here with her, inside of her, was all that mattered to Charles. LA - the mission - was important, but for the next little while neither would think of monsters or demons or anything else that went bump in the night.

"Me, too," she said, balancing herself against his chest with a hand as she took him inside of her. He wasn't huge, but wasn't exactly small either. And part of the slayer healing thing seemed to involve that part of her, too, keeping her almost as tight as her first time.

"You okay?" he asked in response to her slight wince.

"Yes, that was a good wince," she gasped as he hit the same spot again.

"Mm, up for trying something different and letting me do a little work," he said, palming either hip with his hands.

"Different how?" She stilled against him.

He chuckled. "Actually, it's not much different than this, just me behind you. I think you'll like it judging by that anyway."

"Sure," she whispered, biting her lip as she raised herself off of him. The urge to slide herself onto him again was strong. She wanted to take him all the way inside of her in one stroke. She'd never done it. Their first time at his house he was totally careful and their only other time had been in the backseat of his car so the positioning had been a little odd.

She moved beside him, staying on her hands and knees and pushed against him when she felt him there. He was pressing against her, the tip of him at her slick entrance.

"Charles," she whispered as he slid the head in. "I need all of you."

"You sure, Buffy?"

"God, yes, never more sure of anything."

"All right then." She whimpered softly as he withdrew the little bit of him that had been inside of her. The whimper turned quickly into a moan she had to stifle by putting her mouth against her pillow as he did just as she'd asked. Given her all of him. He knew exactly what she'd meant to.

He did it again and again until her body felt like Jell-o. And then he settled in to stroke that spot from earlier he'd hit. She was back to whimpering, biting her lip to stop from crying out. She was so close, but it felt so good, so intense she was afraid she'd do more than just come.

"Just let go, Buffy, let it come."

His hands found hers, lacing his fingers through hers and he found the back of her neck.

"I want to feel you get off around me like this, Buffy," he said before kissing and nipping at her neck. "It'll be so good, I promise."

She realized at that moment how much she trusted him because she let go. She stopped thinking and let the orgasm course through her like a lion charging through the jungle. It was like he ripped it from her, thrusting against that spot with his shaft, his head, the bulbous part of his tip to keep her at that point for just a little longer so it built up again. And she had no choice but to let go again, give up control. To him. To his body. To her body.

He must have come, too, because the next coherent realization she had was him stilled, blanketing her still clutching her hands.

"Please tell me that was as good for you as it was for me."

She glanced at him over her shoulder. "Why?"

"Because I don't think I can do much better than that so if it wasn't I'm in deep shit."

She thrust against him, feeling him still somewhat hard inside of her. "It was good. Very good. Don't go getting a big head or anything."

"Baby, it was the big head that made it good."

She laughed, "smart ass." He slid beside her on the bed, pushing aside the covers as he drew her to him. She drew the covers around them and settled in against him, kissing his shoulder and his arm.


***

She woke the next morning and he was still there, pressed against her and it was very obvious that he was happy to be next to her. Instinctively, she pressed her backside against him, as they were sleeping spooned up against one another with him behind her.

"You're going to oversex me into moving down here, aren't you?"

"Mm, just making you realize how good it could be if you were here by me all of the time. Did I ever mention," she asked as he turned her onto her back and slid on top of her. He was more than ready. Despite the roughness of the night before he was back to gentle, sliding himself inside of her in inch-by-inch strokes. "That I get these urges after slaying?"

"I think I saw evidence of that over the summer, yes. Remember that first night in my car?"

She threw her hands over her face, not having forgotten exactly but she was kind of hoping he had or at least wouldn't remind her of it. It had been so out of character of her. He pried her hands away, obviously she let him or he wouldn't have been able to.

"Don't cover your face, Buffy, it was great. And I'm not sure I would have taken that step, I saw you as out of my league."

She wrapped her legs around him, drawing him the rest of the way inside of her that way. "I like living dangerously."

"Me, too, baby." He kissed her then, finding and marking the opposite side of her neck from last night.

"Charles," she whispered, drawing him away from her neck. His eyes met hers and she saw question there, fear. That he wasn't the one for her. She knew he was afraid she'd see Riley and break it off with him. She didn't seem to be able to get through to him that clean-cut, farm boy just wasn't for her.

She didn't know about forever. She'd thought about, dreamt of, it once before. Her life wasn't cut out for forever. It was cut out for here and now, knowing that the here and now wouldn't be bad if it extended into tomorrow and further than that. And she wanted him there, living dangerously or not. He accepted her for who she was, fought by her side not afraid to call out that he needed help. That was the most important thing of all to her, that he knew his limitations and wasn't afraid to admit them.

"What?" He stilled himself inside of her and she cupped his ass, squeezing. It was a fine ass, too.

"I really like it. Us." She felt herself blush and shook her head against the pillow. She bit her lower lip, she knew what she wanted to say but couldn't. She was scared. She knew he wouldn't do that to her, take her heart's commitment to him and shred it to pieces. "I love you," she said, keeping her eyes locked on his.

"Good to know, because if you haven't already figured it out I'm quite gone on you, Buffy."

"Good," she whispered as he resumed thrusting in and out of her. She settled in then for another good orgasm and being able to bask in his arms afterward. She didn't feel like her life was so dangerous just then. She liked that feeling, too.

~The End~