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Something Old Book III: Link

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Angel pushed Buffy roughly against the wall, devouring the flesh of her neck with his mouth, while he lifted both her body and her long skirt up. Her feet came off the ground and wrapped around him, grinding their pelvises together with a hot, sweet friction. His hands wandered up her legs, over her thighs and hips, and he was thrilled to find when he reached his goal, that she wasn't wearing any underwear.

Fumbling to push all of the flowing folds of her velvet skirt out of his way, he said huskily, "How come you never wear those really short skirts anymore?"

Feverish from his hands and lips on her, and their dangerously provocative position against the alley wall, she panted, "Huh? What?"

Angel fumbled with his belt buckle, as Buffy clung to his neck and waist like a monkey.

"When we first met, you used to wear these dresses that you couldn't, in all fairness, call dresses at all," he panted, finally getting the buckle undone and making quick work of the fly, pulling his pants down enough to set his erection free. It sprang out of his slacks, and he rubbed it against the junction of Buffy's thighs, "They were more like shirts..."

"Uhhh..." Buffy moaned, "Is this really the time for fashion talk?"

He licked her neck, still rubbing himself against her," I want to know..." he whispered.

"You mean micro-minis?" she asked, gasping.

Angel kissed her and pulled her down onto him with a fierce grunt.

"Yeah," he said, "They... oh, god... easier access... uhhh..."

Buffy wrapped herself tightly around him, moving her hips to meet his, trying to ignore the brick grinding into her butt.

"OH! I don't know..." she moaned as he thrust deep inside her.

//What the hell is he talking about?//

Her thoughts were soon interrupted by his cool hands crushing the flesh of her rear, taking the brunt of the scraping from the wall. He pulled her down, harder, and moved up into her, faster.

"Oh, Angel, yes!" she cried softly, muffling her voice by burying her face in his shoulder.

Angel pushed her harder against the wall for better balance. He loved taking her like this, in public, where anyone could just round the corner at any moment and witness their furious coupling. He felt himself throb at the thought of getting caught, and the final moments of their union quickly rushed toward them.

Buffy forced his mouth to hers as she came, pounding against him with her hips, bucking fiercely as she bit his lip to stifle her cries. Angel tasted his own blood in his mouth, and lost all control as he climaxed, plunging deeply into her. He thrust so hard, he completely lost his balance, and they fell, still connected, into a nearby pile of cardboard.

He lay on top of her for a moment, getting his bearings and catching his breath, until he felt Buffy start to shudder and hitch beneath him as she came again. He held her while her frenzied quaking eased, then looked into her eyes and smiled.

She panted at him for a moment, then burst into laughter. Angel soon joined her, and struggled to get up, reaching out a hand to help her dislodge the garbage from her sweater. They dressed and laughed together, helping one another get more or less straightened up, tucked in, and de-wrinkled. Buffy patted down her hair. They gave each other a final once-over, which only ended up in another fit of hysterical laughter as they realized it just wasn't going to work.

Buffy grabbed Angel's arm, and pulled him toward the front entrance of the Bronze.

"Who are we trying to kid? We're trashed..." she lamented happily.

"Literally," he chuckled.

She looked up at him and smiled sweetly, "Besides, I like the tousled look on you," she said, holding on to his arm while he paid the cover, and the bouncer let them inside.

"Thanks," Angel replied, smiling down at her, then immediately winced as they stepped into the din, "Are you sure you don't want to go somewhere else? I mean... aren't you getting a little old for this place? It's mostly for younger kids, isn't it?"

Buffy saw that her favorite table was occupied by a bunch of high school kids, and she angrily dragged Angel through the crowd to approach them. She stood next to the table giving them a look that clearly said to get lost. The four teens immediately recognized Buffy Summers, and all it took was a little wave from her to send them scuttling for a new place to sit.

Angel watched the kids scatter, whether in respect or fear, he didn't know, and sat in one of the chairs she'd just procured for them by her bullying. He chuckled.

"You just want me to go to one of those old fart bars where the fat, cigar-smoking old-timers sit around and bitch about how lousy things are and lament the long-lost 'old days' with you," she accused him, "No way... They're like nursing homes with beer and Irish music."

"It's called a pub, Buffy. I would have thought as you got older, you'd be more interested in good conversation than..." he winced as the "music" seemed to get louder, "Noise."

"I'm not even 21 yet," she told him, "And just because I'm getting older, doesn't mean I'm turning into you."

"Yeah, well, you try partying every night for a couple of centuries, and see how much you enjoy clubs," he replied.

Buffy gave him a look.

"Touché," he relented, and kissed her softly. After a moment, he pulled away to look at her. "Do you really think I'm an old fart?"

"You do okay. I don't think you need to get in the Viagra line just yet," she assured him, and resumed their kissing.

"Hey! None of that in here, you two! This is a family establishment!"

Angel and Buffy looked up at Willow and Tara as they joined them at the table.

"Hey, guys..." Buffy greeted them.

Angel smiled and watched the two women. Their body language was intimate, warm, and familiar, and he found it hard to believe that they now kept their relationship strictly platonic. But Willow insisted they did, until she could make up her mind which of her two loves she wanted to be with.

"Who's playing?" Tara asked, nodding up to the still-empty stage.

"Me'Shell D'an-I-Can't-Pronounce-Her-Last-Name," Willow told her.

"Ne-DEG-ee-oh-CHEL-lo," Angel helped. "It's West African."

Willow practiced the difficult name under her breath.

"Ooh!" Buffy chirped enthusiastically, "Electric blues! Yay!"

Angel stared at her, smiling, a little taken aback. Was she really paying attention to his lectures about musical styles, or did she just soak things up by accident? Usually, Buffy's knowledge of music extended to "good" or "bad", period. Most of what he listened to qualified as "bad". Of course, she liked what was currently playing, and he was tempted to categorize it as "bad" as well. He watched the small band arrange themselves on stage, and silently prayed they'd be quick about it, and put him out of the misery the pounding dance beat put him in.

"Come on, let's dance!" Buffy said, giving Angel a tug on the sleeve.

He looked at her.

"Oh, don't give me that 'I don't dance' crap. I happen to know for a fact that you've got rhythm," she pressed herself against him, making her implication hard to miss. Angel could still smell their earlier fun on her.

"That's different," he explained.

Buffy leaned closer and whispered in his ear, "How, exactly?" She ended her question by lightly dragging her tongue around the outside of the lobe.

Angel shivered in spite of himself. Buffy really didn't have to try hard to turn him on. He felt like he was in a constant state of arousal, whenever he was around her. "Believe me, you wouldn't be quite so... amorous... if you saw me dance."

"Don't you two ever stop?" Willow teased.

Buffy turned and shot her best friend a look, then resumed trying to persuade Angel to dance by sucking on his earlobe.

He looked at Willow and Tara and grinned, "No. Never," he answered cheerfully.

They laughed.

The jukebox suddenly cut out, leaving nothing but the low hum of human chatter in the club's air.

"Thank god," Angel moaned. His ears were ringing.

The band began to play a slow blues-rock ballad, and Buffy stopped her attentions to look up at the stage and listen. Then she turned to look into his eyes, and smiled broadly.

"Okay," he relented, "This, I'll dance to."

"Yay!" Buffy exclaimed.

As the Slayer took her vampire's hand and led him away, Angel gave Willow and Tara a sheepish grin.

"They're so cute," Tara said admiringly, watching the beautiful pair take one another in their arms, and gaze into each other's eyes.

"Yup. They don't' get much cuter than Buffy and Angel," Willow agreed.

Buffy leaned into Angel's strong embrace, deeply inhaling his cool, clean scent. She could think of no other place on Earth she'd rather be.

Angel smiled and held her closer. It seemed that every time he danced with Buffy, something magickal happened inside him. Feeling her heart beat against his chest, and her warmth flow over him like a blanket, he almost felt alive again... almost normal, like Anyman blessed by the extraordinary love of an incredible woman.

Though it was true he couldn't dance to the noise that passed as music these days, the real truth was that he just didn't feel music unless she was in his arms. He swung Buffy around and dipped her gently, eliciting a giggle from her, and strange looks from their fellow dancers.

"Can't say I've ever been faithful
Except to God.
Never thought I could call anyplace home
Until I fell asleep here, in your arms.

'Cause I never thought I'd fall in love.

Your love's my only saving grace
You caress my heart, kiss my face
Your love's my only saving grace
Your love...

Sometimes God calls out to me to come home
'Cause I feel so all alone.
Then I taste your kiss, your touch...
Your sweet love

'Cause I never thought I'd fall in love
With you.

Your love's my only saving grace
You caress my heart, kiss my face
Your love's my only saving grace
Your love..."

Tara felt a little pang in her heart as she watched the obviously lovestruck couple move, staring into one another's eyes and exchanging soft, secret smiles.

She wished she could hold Willow like that. It killed her to think they had almost gotten to that point... where they were comfortable being together in public... comfortable sharing physical affection in general. But then Oz had returned, and with him, Angelus, and any chance for happiness between her and Willow went straight out the window.

The song ended, and Buffy and Angel punctuated their dance the same way they always did, with a long, deep, slow kiss.

Angel sighed happily as they parted, and Buffy led him by the hand back to the table.

"I'm going for a drink. Anybody want?" she asked.

"No, thanks," Tara replied.

"'Shirley Temple', please," Willow said.

The three others gave her a look.

"What? I like maraschino cherries!" she said in her own defense.

"They have formaldehyde derivatives in them, you know," Angel informed her helpfully.

"Please, don't ever tell us how you know that," Buffy said, rolling her eyes at him, "Do you want anything?"

"Nothing I can get at the bar," he grinned at her, "But I'll take some coffee anyway."

Buffy gave him a mock-glare, then held her hand out, palm up.

He looked at it for a moment, unsure of her intent.

"Oh! Right... starving college student," he quipped, and pulled a ten out of his wallet, dangling it just out of her reach.

"What do we say?" he teased.

"We say 'Give the money to the thirsty Slayer now, or we'll soon fit neatly in yonder ashtray,'" she nodded to the one on the table.

Angel leaned closer, "Empty threat," he said, kissing the tip of her nose.

Buffy continued glaring, "Oh, you think so..."

He finally relinquished the bill, and Buffy kissed him lightly before turning and disappearing into the crowd.

Willow leaned toward him, "Is there really formaldehyde in maraschino cherries?"

************************************

Riley really wasn't much for clubs. In fact, they made him downright uncomfortable. He preferred peace and quiet, most of the time -- respite from what he usually did at night. And when he did like to get a little loud, he would rather do it in the company of friends, not a roomful of barely drinking- age strangers.

But, alas, he was a gentleman, and his date liked loud, crowded places. Thus, their presence at the Bronze, and his struggle to swim against the current of the throngs to get to the bar and buy her a drink.

He liked her. A lot. She was sweet and giving, smart, and full of a particular joie de vivre that he could never resist. The same sort of quality that attracted him to Buffy.

Five months later, he was still sore about it... how she had dismissed him so easily and casually because some freak twist of fate threw her into the arms of her ex-boyfriend. From what he had gleaned (which was very little) about Buffy's relationship with Angel (what kind of name was 'Angel', anyway?), things had rarely been good, and never easy, between them. What did Mr. Fancy LA Guy have that he didn't?

He shook the thought out of his head. Waste of energy. Buffy made her choice... and besides, now he had...

Violent contact with another of the bar's patrons stilled his thoughts as he stumbled, struggling to regain his balance while he looked down to say 'excuse me'.

And found himself looking right into Buffy's perfect hazel eyes.

"Buffy..." he said. This was too much of a coincidence.

Buffy shifted awkwardly, "Riley. Hi."

"How are you?" he asked, finding himself unexpectedly breathless at the sight of her. She looked like she'd gained a little weight, which looked fantastic on her, making her already generous curves all the more enticing, especially enhanced as they were by her soft, black velvet dress.

He'd forgotten what a stunning woman she was. Her face seemed brighter, her hair shinier, and even her demeanor seemed... lighter, somehow. Happier. He'd never seen her looking so alive.

"I'm good," she said, struggling to be polite, when what she really wanted to do was run. Or throw up. Or, possibly, both, "You?"

"Fine. Great, actually. It's... good to see you again, Buffy."

She nodded. She still felt kind of bad for blowing Riley off the way she did -- he was such a nice guy. But there really wasn't much to say to him anymore, and that made this moment even more awkward. Buffy hated small talk.

"Were you going to the bar?" he asked, nodding toward it.

"Yeah... drinks," she said, gesturing with the ten Angel had given her.

"Come on. I'll walk with you, and we can catch up," he offered.

Buffy shrugged and followed him. His size was imposing, and the crowd parted easily before him like the Red Sea before Moses. Handy for getting quickly to the bar, and then quickly away.

************************************

"Excuse me, guys... restroom," Willow said, giving a sheepish grin and walking away, leaving Tara and Angel alone at the table.

"S-so, um, Angel... Wh-what's it like for you to be in a p-place like this?" she asked shyly.

Angel looked at her, uncertain what she meant.

"I've been... r-reading," she explained, "About v-vampires. The books s-say you're really, um... sensitive... I mean, sensory-wise. Predatory senses. Is it... uncomfortable? I mean, with all these people?"

Angel gave her a smile, "You get used to it. I've spent a lot of time in places like this over the years. You learn to tune things out."

"Oh," Tara replied, "I was wondering, 'cause... you know... I'm sensitive, too. Like, in a psychic way. B-being in crowds makes me n-nervous."

"I can imagine. A lot of energies in here, with all of these people," he replied compassionately.

Tara nodded.

"If it's so uncomfortable, why do you come?" he asked, leaning closer to her. He liked Tara. Enjoyed her uniquely calming aura and her sweet, genuine way. He admired her devotion to Willow, and felt somewhat indebted to her for risking her life to save him, when she barely knew him at all.

"W-willow likes it here," Tara replied, looking off at the spot where the redhead had disappeared, "She feels safe here, with these people. It's familiar and c-comfortable."

Angel nodded, "I think Buffy feels the same. I keep trying to convince her to go somewhere more quiet, but..."

Tara grinned, "Old h-habits die hard."

"They sure do," Angel agreed.

************************************

"So, UCLA, huh? Impressive," Riley said as they waited for their orders.

"Yeah, I can hardly believe I got in," Buffy replied, "I'm not exactly known for my sterling intellect."

Riley frowned at her self-deprecation. "Don't sell yourself short, Buffy. You're a smart woman."

Buffy blinked at the unexpected compliment, and looked into his kind blue eyes. She wondered, for a split second, what might have developed between them if Willow's spell to have her will done hadn't gone all wacky.

But only for a split second, because what she'd gotten instead was so much better. She smiled as Angel's face came into her mind.

"Thank you," she said sincerely, "I gotta say, I'm kind of surprised that you're being so nice to me, considering..." she cast her eyes to the floor.

"Water under the bridge, Buffy," he assured her, "You did what you had to do -- you followed your heart. I didn't like it, of course, but I can't fault you for being honest."

She looked up at him again, and smiled.

"Besides," Riley went on, "I've moved on. I'm dating someone now, too."

"Really? Oh, Riley, I'm so glad," Buffy said, and she meant it. The idea of anyone being lonely because of her made her unimaginably sad, especially considering how not lonely she was.

"Yeah, me too," he said, smiling broadly, "She's really amazing. You'd like her."

"I'm sure," Buffy agreed.

Their drinks arrived, and Buffy got ready to say her good-byes and head back to her life.

"Speaking of the devil..." Riley said, looking over Buffy's shoulder.

"Look at you! I leave you alone for five minutes, and you're already picking up other chicks," said the newcomer brightly.

The voice sent immediate chills up Buffy's spine, and she spun to look at Riley's new girlfriend. Her heart came to a lurching, choking stop.

"Hey, you," Riley said, taking the dark-haired woman tenderly in his arms and kissing her with a warm familiarity. Then he looked at Buffy again, "Buffy, I'd like you to meet Faith. Faith? This is Buffy."

The two Slayers stared at one another in shock.

************************************

"And... I guess that's the way things stand, now. My soul is bound, and tied to hers, so there's no danger of anything like that happening again," Angel concluded.

"Wow," Tara commented, "That must be really scary... to have something like that inside of you? It must be a relief to have it gone, finally."

Angel looked at her seriously, "It's not gone. Just... integrated and bound. The demon's dormant, but the urges are still there. I'm just not constantly struggling for control of my body with another being. And yes, that is a relief."

"The good and evil is all... one, now? I mean... b-balanced, I guess..."

He nodded, "That's the gist of it. I'm not sure what all of the ramifications are, yet, but... so far, so good," he punctuated his words with a broad smile.

//Wow, he's cute...//

"Hey, you two! Miss me?" Willow chirped as she reclaimed the seat beside Tara, "Man, it's crowded in here tonight. Did I miss anything good?"

"We were talking about Angel's soul... the binding and stuff," Tara explained.

Willow leaned enthusiastically over the table, "Ooh! Soul magick talk? My favorite!"

Angel grimaced a little. It wasn't his favorite.

Buffy suddenly appeared, looking confused and upset.

"Come on. We have to go," she said tersely, standing behind Angel and trying not to look at the bar.

Angel was almost relieved, until he scented the fear around her.

"Buffy, what's wrong?" he asked softly.

"Can we just... go? Please?" she asked, her voice tinged with panic.

"Of course," he replied, and got up.

"What's going on?" Willow asked fearfully.

Buffy shook her head. "Outside."

The foursome quickly exited the crowded bar. Once they were out in the quiet night, Buffy practically ran down the alley, forcing Tara and Willow to jog. Angel easily kept up with her, as used to her stride as he was, but his worry increased with every step.

Finally, he reached out and stopped her.

"Buffy, tell me what's going on," he demanded, "What happened in there? And where are you going in such a hurry?"

Buffy reluctantly stopped and looked at each of them.

"I ran into Riley. And he's got a new girlfriend," she replied angrily.

Willow and Tara frowned, confused. Angel positively scowled.

"So?" he asked shortly, still not understanding her reaction. He never thought Buffy cared that much about the guy to begin with. Hadn't she said they'd only gone out a couple of times?

"Oh, Buffy..." Willow interjected, "That must have been weird."

"Weird?" Buffy snorted, "Yeah. It would have been just weird, if it had only been Riley. Or Riley and some strange person. But this was bad... Like bad, evil bad."

"Okay. Enough with the hyperbole, Buffy. What are you talking about?" Angel snapped, his jealousy getting the best of him.

Buffy spun on him, "Seems Riley has interesting taste in women," she snapped back, "Guess who's back among the conscious and dipping her toes into the deep blue sea of college men?"

"Who?" Tara asked.

Buffy looked Angel square in the eye.

"Faith," she said flatly, "Riley's new girlfriend is Faith."