The fire crackling before him reminded him of Buffy.
It burned and burned with everything it had in it, unselfishly giving its all, but eventually, time wore it down and it was extinguished. Angel closed his eyes. There was no thought more painful to him than the thought of her wiped forever from the face of the Earth. That would truly be hell for him.
He craved her as he craved nothing else. Even his need for blood paled in comparison to his need for her. At the thought of blood, he shook slightly. He was starving, but he would wait for her to bring the usual container of blood for him. It bothered him, her having to find the blood for him. He never wanted to expose her to that side of his life. But in typical Buffy fashion, she saw what he needed and went for it. He smiled. That was her, his own personal flame.
Angel was jerked from his reverie by the sound of her footsteps. He looked up, a smile wreathing his face, a smile that faltered slightly when he saw that she didn't have the customary bag with her. Normally, he would be able to stand it, but lately, he was so weak...
"Hey," she said quietly, "How are you feeling?"
"Tired," he said, patting the spot on the couch next to him.
She sank down next to him and regarded him with wary eyes. "I didn't bring you any pig's blood today."
"I noticed." His brow furrowed as he watched her.
"You're not getting any stronger, Angel. It's not helping you."
"I don't have any other option. I can't stop feeding." He shifted away from her slightly. He was always ashamed of his need for blood.
"I think you need something stronger."
"Not my blood." The words were whispered.
He stared at her, his gaze incredulous. "What?"
"You heard me. Feed from me. Take my blood. It's stronger than anything else."
"NO!" he burst out, leaping up from the couch. "Are you out of your mind?"
Her jaw was set. "Angel, I'm serious. It's the only thing that will make you better."
"Then I won't get better. I *won't* feed from you." The words were grated out of his chest.
"You've taken my blood before." Her face grew hot.
His eyes locked with hers. "I was inside you, with you trembling around me, screaming out your pleasure. I lost control."
The images of their one night together rushed through, stealing her strength. Sometimes, she ached for him so badly she thought she might go mad from it. "You didn't hurt me then."
"I won't do it again, Buffy."
She stood and faced him. Her mind was made up. "I'm not giving you the choice, Angel." With that, she withdrew her backup knife from her boot, drawing the sharp blade against a fingertip. The razor edge sliced through her skin so quickly, she hardly felt it. He had a desperate look on his face, and at any other time she would have felt bad for causing it, but they were out of options.
Silently, she drew the bleeding finger over her jaw, painting the area just beneath her ear. "Take me," she whispered, and they both knew she wasn't talking about the blood.
"I can't," he whimpered, backing away from her. "I just can't." The smell of her blood, salty and rich, was tempting him, begging him to claim her, consume her.
Her eyes were dark with an emotion he was afraid to define. "Buffy..."
She advanced on him, and took his hand, leading him to the couch as though he were a child. She pushed him down with one hand on his chest, and she followed him, straddling him. He was teetering on the edge, and he knew that if he moved, even to get away, he would fall headfirst into the abyss.
Buffy knew he was at the end of his control, and she leaned her forehead against his. "I love you. Take me."
With a desperate groan, he seized her, holding her at arms length. "I *CAN'T*!"
Silently, she looked into his panicked eyes. Very calmly, she licked her bloody finger, then leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, transferring the residue to his mouth.
His lips trembled for a second under hers, and then he gave in. His mouth ate at hers as his hands came up to cup the back of her head. She moaned against his lips as her fingers crept into his hair.
Abruptly, she arched her head back, breaking the kiss. He watched silently as she bared her throat to him, beckoning him. He stared into her eyes for a heartbeat, and she drew him to her throat.
Licking the soft flesh, he cleaned off the blood painting her skin crimson, moaning slightly as her taste rushed through him. She was whimpering, undulating against the hardness that had risen underneath her, pushing her throat against his teeth. He grabbed the back of her neck, holding her in place as his mouth opened and his fangs emerged. Before he lowered his head to feed, he whispered, "I love you. You're my life."
Tears came to her eyes as she whispered his name. She gasped a little as he bit down, tearing through the skin, but as he started to feed, the pleasure welled up. Squirming in his arms, she manuvered herself so that her already soaked core pressed firmly against his hardness. All he had to do was touch her and she was wetly read for him, honey dripping down her thighs.
Angel stiffened further as he felt her body press against him, tormenting him sweetly. He was unable to prevent the lunging of his hips up to meet her warmth. At that, Buffy moaned softly, grinding herself down, the friction causing desire to rise sharply between them.
"Angelangelangelangel," she babbled, clutching his shoulders, riding the hard flesh between her thighs. Her inner core clenched in convulsive need; she was so empty inside without him.
He kept his grip on her even as she undulated above him. His eyes were closed, and he was snarling, the pressure on his aroused flesh driving him nearly out of his mind. He drew deeply from her willing body, her blood flowing to nourish him.
For long moments, the only sounds in the room were the soft suction of his mouth on her throat, and her tiny, breathy moans as the sensations overwhelmed her.
All too soon, Buffy neared her peak. "Angel," she gasped again, rising and falling more rapidly, thrusting herself down into his lap, trying desperately to defy the barriers of clothing and right and wrong. "Please, love...oh please..."
Suddenly, his hand trailed down to the humid juncture of her thighs, pressing carefully at the apex. That additional pressure sent her screaming into the chasm, her body consumed with the fire of her orgasm. He tasted her pleasure in her blood, and it pushed him over the edge after her. His roar of release was muffled against her throat.
They hovered there, both of them trembling, vulnerable, but unable to separate from the other. Buffy burrowed closer into his embrace, unwilling to allow even the tiniest of spaces between them. His face was tucked into the safety of her neck, and he idly licked the skin there.
"I love you," she whispered into his shoulder. "And I can't let you go."
He nodded against her flesh. "Me either."
Eventually, Buffy's legs began to cramp from crouching over him for so long. She shifted slowly, peppering his face with kisses as he protested her loss. "It's okay, sweetheart," she whispered as she drew him down to the couch, positioning him slightly on top of her, "It's okay."
Solemnly, she tugged up her tank top, exposing her firm breasts. She ran her hand through his hair, and guided him to her. Eyes closed, he laid his head on her chest, mouth rooting around for a nipple. He caught one and drew it into his mouth, teeth biting down gently around it.
She whimpered slightly at the sharp pain, then settled down, wrapping one arm around his back, and holding his head to her with the other. Safe in her arms, he suckled as though he were her infant, gaining not only nourishment, but also comfort, and warmth, and above all, her love.
Her right hand stroked through his hair, mussing the silky strands. He relaxed completely on top of her, nearly crushing her into the couch, but she didn't care. It was worth it to see him content, if only for a moment.
After a while, he stopped suckling. With an overflowing heart, she realized that he had fallen asleep, cradled in her arms. Then, while he was finally apart from the torment that haunted his waking hours, and only then did she allow herself to cry, the tears streaming back into her hair. She didn't make a sound for fear of disturbing him, silencing her own suffering.
She loved him more than her own life, and his pain was killing her.
She wanted -- no, needed -- to take away that agony, needed to wipe it completely from his heart. His pain was a fierce ache deep within her chest, making her bleed in ways she never thought were possible.
If she didn't find a way to fix it soon, they would both go insane from it.
But, she reflected as he shifted in her arms and murmured her name, as long as they were together, even that would be all right.