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Buffy awoke with the dawn and sat up groaning. What little light seeped around the edge of her heavy curtains hadn't awakened her. Her pain killers had worn off.

Rising stiffly from the bed, she stifled another groan of pain and padded softly across the floor, wishing she'd had the foresight to leave the pills and some water on her night stand. She opened the door carefully, not wanting the creak to awaken her lover, and came face to face with her mother.

Both women let out startled cries and the door swung all the way open.

Joyce's eyes immediately went past her daughter to the vampire just now sitting up in the bed. The sheet dropped to his waist, revealing a muscular and incredibly pale chest.

Buffy blushed and fidgeted with the hem of her t-shirt, not knowing what to say.

"When did he get here, and why didn't I hear the bell ring?" Joyce asked, frowning down at her squirming daughter.

"Um...he never...y'know...the window."

Sighing heavily, Joyce shook her head, then turned her attention back to Angel. She really didn't appreciate that slight smirk on his face. "From now on, please do me the courtesy of ringing the doorbell and coming into the house the normal way before you climb into my daughter's bed."

Buffy gasped and blushed deeper.

Angel stared at Joyce for a long moment, then chuckled. "I always wondered where Buffy got her spirit." Sitting in bed, he managed a courtly bow that brought a flush to Joyce's cheeks, and she spun around.

"Breakfast will be in twenty minutes."

As Joyce headed for the stairs, Buffy sagged against the door, then whimpered as her shoulder gave a throb of pain.

Angel was off the bed and lifting her into his arms before she could whimper again.

"Wh...what?"

"Where were you going, baby?"

"Bathroom," she mumbled. "Painkillers."

"I'll get them for you." As he started to return her to the bed, she took a hold of his shoulder.

"Um...I have to..." Her blush turned even more fiery.

Angel grinned at her discomfort and turned towards the bathroom. "I'll wait outside, then carry you back to bed."

"I'm kinda hungry, actually."

"Then I'll carry you downstairs."

"I'm not helpless, you know. I *can* walk," she snipped at him, frowning.

"I like carrying you."

The sensual tone of his voice sent a shiver of pleasure through her and Buffy rested her head on his shoulder.

Angel looked down at the blonde head nestled so trustingly in the curve of his neck, and a rush of emotion made his hands tremble.

Love was quite amazing.

*****

Later that day, after a long and leisurely phone conversation with Willow, a couple of hearty meals, more painkillers, and some tender snuggling with Angel, Buffy limped into the Library to face what felt like The Inquisition--and not the Mel Brooks variety.

Giles sat at the main table, flipping through books, clearly smoldering with anger. Wesley sat across from him, looking pale and not particularly determined.

The other Watcher, that Mr. Travers, was leaning against the side of the stairs, sipping a cup of tea.

"Ah, Miss Summers. We have been waiting for you."

"Yeah, well, I've been trying not to scream in pain for the last several hours," she retorted, inwardly smiling at the tightening of Giles' shoulders. He would fight for her.

"Yes, well, you *are* alive," Travers continued, gesturing for her to take a seat, which she did, a bit gingerly.

"How are you, Buffy?" Giles asked softly.

She gave him a reassuring look. "I'll survive. Mom and Liam have been pampering me."

"Liam?"

Buffy slowly swivelled her head towards the older Watcher who came closer, but did not take a seat. She figured standing above her was some kind of macho power play. "My boyfriend," she replied sweetly.

He frowned and she mentally chalked up a point. "Yes, well, that is one thing we need to discuss. Your tendency to let others, humans, interfere with your sacred duties."

"They don't interfere," she retorted. "Without them the world would have gone to hell long ago."

"They are a liability."

"Then that's my problem."

"And they hinder your ability to perform your duties in a timely fashion."

Clenching her hands into fists in her lap, Buffy swung on Wesley. "Have you seen any evidence of that, Wesley? Have you even seen any of my friends patrolling with me?"

"Um...no."

"But, they have before," Travers countered.

"Yeah, they have, to keep me company, to hold my slaying bag, to go up against large numbers. They've risked their lives over and over to help me. I would bet that the numbers of dead vampires and demons is actually higher thanks to my friends."

"I'll concede that point for the first year, but in the past year the numbers of kills has declined."

Buffy thought frantically for a long moment. "They've become sneakier, better at hiding, better at running away from me. I patrol almost every night, I face all the big uglies that come here to try to open the Hellmouth. If my kill ratio is down, it's not for lack of trying."

"It is true, Mr. Travers," Wesley stuttered, "that Faith has been surprised at the low numbers of vampires she has encountered, and Buffy succeeded very well against Balthazar and the Sisters of Ghe, undoubtedly the two largest threats we've encountered since our arrival."

"With the aid of her friends and your Slayer, Wyndham-Price."

Wesley flushed and dropped his eyes to the table.

"When did it become wrong to ask for and receive help?" Giles stated calmly. Underneath his quiet exterior he was seething with anger. "If we all hadn't helped, the Sisters would have opened the Hellmouth and this interrogation would be unnecessary as we would all most likely be dead."

"It is not done," Travers replied succinctly.

Giles jumped to his feet, exploding. "Has the Council become so hidebound, so paralyzed by tradition that they would prefer the world end?"

Travers glowered at him. "Your Slayer is an embarrassment, Mr. Giles. Her secret identity is basically non-existent, she allows her time to be taken up with boys and fashion and rock music," he sneered. "And while she continues to perform her duties, it is at times perfunctory."

"She has kept the world turning." Giles placed one hand gently on Buffy's trembling shoulder, and she looked up at him gratefully. "If you cannot see that, you are a blind idiot."

The look on Travers' face darkened and he took a menacing step forward. "I need no excuse to remove you from your position, Giles."

Giles' eyes narrowed dangerously. "Nor do you need an excuse to call in an execution squad." He ignored Buffy's gasp and continued, "But I swear on all that is holy, that if you do, this town and then this world will burn."

The laugh that echoed from the older Watcher sent a shiver through Buffy.

"We can get rid of you just as easily, Giles."

Looking up, Buffy caught a glimpse of Ripper in the feral grin Giles leveled on Travers, and another shiver went through her. Who ever said that the English were stuffy?

"It won't be me who does the burning, you pillock."

Travers snorted. "Are you saying that this scrap of wilfulness is all that's keeping the world in one piece?"

"Yes."

"You think way too highly of her."

"Yes, I do," Giles replied proudly.

"A vampire's trollop."

Only Buffy's hand on his arm, stopped Giles from leaping at the other man.

Travers smirked and continued, "She bedded a vampire who turned around and tried to destroy humanity."

"And for a year, she has maintained a fragile peace with, yes, one of the most powerful and dangerous creatures ever to walk this Earth. Angelus is a force of evil you are not prepared to face. Buffy has kept him controlled, and Sunnydale and the world survive."

"She should have killed him long ago."

Giles shook his head. "She can't. No one can."

"No matter his reputation and the numbers he controls, Angelus is just another vampire. Any Slayer should be able to take him down. You are only proving how incapable she is at performing her necessary duties."

"Stop it," Buffy whispered, dropping her eyes to her lap. Both men fell silent, Giles sinking back into his chair, and she took a deep breath. "I can't kill Angel. You're right. But, if I could...where would that leave me? With another vampire moving into his place. With some unknown vampire, because if I killed Angel, I'd have to take out his childer first. That old saying is right. Better the devil you know..."

Slowly she raised her eyes to Travers and they burned with fury. "But, it doesn't matter, because I can't kill Angel. I'd never get close enough. He'd throw every minion and demon at me, until I was so worn down I'd be an easy mark. And then he'd do the same to the next Slayer and the next. He has eternity. And he has the intelligence and patience to wait you all out."

"He is an animal," Travers reiterated.

Buffy shook her head in disgust. "You don't know anything. With all your books and learning and esoteric crap, you don't know anything about the creatures I face. You think everything's black and white, evil or good. No wonder Slayers all die young with that kind of teaching."

As she spoke, she squeezed Giles' arm gently, letting him know that she wasn't including him in her diatribe. With his tender, understanding eyes on her, she slowly rose, taking a deep breath against the pain.

"Now, I'm going to go home and curl up in bed and wait till my healing factor kicks back in. I really suggest you not be in Sunnydale when that happens."

Travers seemed almost amused by her. "You have remarkable bravado, Miss Summers. Too bad, it is equaled only by your naivete."

She shrugged. "Bravado seems to be working. The world hasn't gone to hell yet, so I figure I'm doing quite a bit right. Take me out. Faith's good, but she won't survive a month here against Angelus. And then there'll be another and another and another and one of them will fail and the Hellmouth will open."

"You're not that good, girl," he growled in response.

Smirking, Buffy crossed her arms over her chest. "Yes, I am." Trying not to limp she made as graceful an exit as possible, ignoring Travers laying into Giles. She knew he could take care of herself, and her pain killers were wearing off.

She had to regain her strength quickly, because she knew she hadn't seen the last of Quentin Travers.

*****

Spike lounged on the couch in Angel's suite, sipping from a glass of blood and reading the latest Tom Clancy novel when Angel strolled in, hands in his pockets, a contented look on his face.

At the sappy smile Angel directed his way, Spike nearly spewed his blood, instead restraining himself to only chortle, "And you accuse me of being pussy whipped."

The smile turned into a glower, but Spike decided to chance it. "You going to move in with her and play house hubby?"

"You looking to become a pile of dust?" Angel threatened, but his heart clearly wasn't in it.

Spike chuckled and set aside his book and glass. "Love sure does tame the savage breast, or is that beast?"

"I'm not tame."

As Angel lunged for him, Spike vaulted over the back of the couch, taunting, "Did you fuck her, Angelus? With her all bruised and broken?"

"No," Angel growled, rounding the couch and charging to pin Spike against the nearest wall.

Panting softly, Spike gave his angry sire a sensual smile and relaxed back against the unyielding wall. "Because you couldn't hurt her when she was already hurt and she wouldn't enjoy it?"

Leaning forward, hands braced on either side of Spike's head, Angel hissed, "Think you know me so well, boy?"

"Yes," Spike whispered, leaning up and pressing his lips to the older male's.

Surprised, Angel responded, kissing his childe deeply for a long moment before pulling back and setting his demon free. Spike smiled again, a soft, hungry lifting of his lips, and turned his head, baring his neck.

With a deep growl of need, Angel bit, his fangs plunging to their depths into his childe's pale flesh. Powerful, familial blood spurted into his mouth, and he wrapped his arms around Spike's waist, grinding his sudden erection against the other male's taut stomach.

Spike felt himself grow hard, his balls tightening, his cock throbbing with desire, as Angel drank in needy gulps. The scent of mutual arousal filled the space between them, and they both groaned. The younger male reached out, clutching the older's hips, moving them until their constrained cocks slid together.

As Angel pulled back from the bite, trembling with the suddenness of his desire, Spike dropped to his knees and expertly freed his master's cock. Sliding the leather pants down, he ran his hands over Angel's ass, kneading the muscles. Avidly, he licked his lips and watched a bead of pre-ejaculate slide down the rigid length of muscle only inches from his face.

Bracing his hands again on the wall, Angel stared down at Spike in a pose of submission he rarely took on his own initiative.

That this was freely done, the submission so very willing, made Angel shake with a need he only vaguely understood. A need of family and blood...and maybe even love.

Spike glanced up and gasped softly at the intensity in Angel's eyes. "You've never looked at me like that," he managed to whisper.

"Like what?" Angel whispered back.

"Like it really matters that it's me," Spike finally choked out, emotion welling up and threatening to explode from him.

Rather than answer verbally, Angel reached down and pulled Spike to his feet and into his arms, just holding him for a long moment, feeling the younger man tremble at his embrace. Lowering his head, Angel brushed a delicate kiss over Spike's lips, then deepened it until Spike responded with equal ardor. As they kissed with hungry passion, they moved slowly and blindly into the bedroom, finally toppling onto the bed.

Laying beneath his sire, Spike felt a surge of raw emotion for the dominant male pressing him into the mattress. He parted his legs, lifting and wrapping them around Angel's hips, as his hands pulled at the silk spread across broad shoulders. Angel groaned and undulated against his childe, driving their bodies together, as their mouths devoured each others.

Barely breaking the kiss, Angel managed to shrug out of his shirt, then pull Spike's from him. As the younger male's hands tugged the leather pants farther down his sire's thighs, Angel pressed nipping kisses to the pale, sculpted chest bared before him.

"Want you," Spike moaned helplessly, squirming with lust and clenching his knees against Angel's rotating hips.

Reaching between them, Angel fumbled with Spike's zipper, finally yanking it down. The blond bucked wildly as the older male's cool hand wrapped around his painfully hard cock and began to pump.

After barely a minute, Spike howled, thrashing on the bed, his semen spewing over Angel's hand and their bellies. As he sank back, gasping, his eyes glazed, he noticed Angel grinning wickedly down at him.

"Tsk, tsk, where's your control, my boy?" he murmured, letting Spike know he was teasing by leaning forward and lavishing him with kisses.

"Um," was all that Spike could manage as he grasped Angel's shoulders, kneading the hard, muscular flesh.

Snorting softly as his cock gave a painful twitch, Angel rose to his knees and quickly divested them both of shoes, socks and pants. As Spike recovered enough to prop himself up on one elbow and watch, his sire moved gracefully over the bed to the night stand. The blond caught the bottle of cinnamon lube, and grinned.

"Gonna let me fuck you?"

Angel chuckled and flopped on his back. "Not in this lifetime, lover, but I'll let you be on top."

As Angel parted his legs slightly, giving Spike a glimpse of the shadowy hole he only visited with fingers and tongue, his cock began to swell again and he opened the lube. Rising to his knees and straddling Angel's thighs, Spike poured some of the slippery liquid onto his palm, then gently wrapped his hand around his sire's cock, coating it with the lube.

The scent of cinnamon mingled with the musk of male arousal, and both sire and childe growled softly and closed their eyes. Spike's other hand went to his own cock and he pumped it gently, swiftly bringing himself to hardness. Sliding up Angel's body, Spike guided his sire's erection back between his legs to the entrance to his body.

With a loud groan, the blond sank down onto the brunette, impaling himself eagerly.

Opening his heavy eyelids, Angel watched the pleasure flood across Spike's face as the younger male began to ride his cock, driving it deep inside his bowels and brushing it against his sensitive prostate. Gliding his hand down his chest, the older vampire wrapped his long fingers around the head of Spike's cock, his thumb brushing over the sensitive slit. He began to slide his hand up and down in rhythm with Spike's rocking thrusts, and smiled as his own cock throbbed with each squeeze of tight muscles around it.

Pushing his free hand down on the bed, Angel thrust his hips upwards, slamming his cock deeper. Spike arched his spine, his head falling back and his eyes and mouth opening, a wordless cry echoing from him as the pleasure deepened. His body aflame with longing, he could feel himself losing control, his orgasm bubbling just beneath the surface.

Angel rolled his hand up and down the slick column of flesh, the pace increasing with every pump, and smiled at the whimpers and groans echoing from his favorite childe. On the next downward stroke, he continued down, cupping the heavy testicles, then caressing the sensitive perineum with lavish strokes of his thumb.

Gasping loudly, Spike flung his head forward, his eyes meeting his sire's, as his orgasm burst within him and bliss flooded him. As streams of semen shot across Angel's stomach, Spike toppled forward, his hips continuing to thrust, milking his sire's cock. Their lips touched and the younger male whispered, "Come, sire, please."

With a deep growl, Angel wrapped his arms tightly around Spike and bucked up against him, driving his cock at a rapid pace and making the blond grunt with each thrust. Spike's head fell into the crook of his sire's neck and he suckled hungrily on the carotid artery.

"Bite," Angel directed hoarsely, and as Spike did so and Angel felt his blood being pulled from him, he howled and exploded into orgasm.

******

As their lovers were collapsing into a heap of exhausted male flesh, across town Buffy and Willow were sprawled across Buffy's bed, doing their homework.

"I can't believe that I have to go through life and death trials and still have to do my math homework."

Willow chuckled and glanced at her best-friend's scribbled on worksheet. "Carry the five on that last one."

Buffy groaned and flopped on her back, then groaned again as her shoulder complained. "I look like a car hit me, how can I go to school?"

"Maybe your strength will come back overnight and you'll be all healed tomorrow."

"In time to flunk my history quiz."

Rolling her eyes, Willow rose to her feet to reach into her backpack for her California History for Dummies book.

"Trying to tell me something?" Buffy asked, smirking as she took the book.

"Well...it's not really cheating, just a study aid, and you do spend your free time saving the world, so I figure some slack is due you."

"Tell that to Mrs. Walker." Sitting up and leaning gingerly against her headboard, Buffy opened the book and began to flip through the pages. "Have fun with Cordy last night?" she asked after a minute of studying.

"Buffy, we're not going to get anything...oh hell..." Sitting up, the redhead grinned at the discomfort in her bruised bottom, and wriggled. "Fun was had."

Buffy cocked an eyebrow and repressed a grin. "Kinda hard to sit?"

"I like it. So, your mom was really cool about Angel spending the night?"

"She wants him to ring the doorbell first," the blonde replied, rolling her eyes.

"Well, you are eighteen now."

"Uh huh, and when are you telling your mom you're spending half your nights in the bed of both a man and a woman."

Willow blushed and squirmed some more, then sighed. "Knowing my mom, she'd be all for the bisexual side of me. Multi-culturalism or something like that."

Buffy laughed. "I think I'll keep that side of my life still hidden from my mom. I figure I've freaked her out enough for a of couple lifetimes."

Calming down, they both spent about fifteen minutes studying, then Willow hesitantly set aside her chemistry text. "Buffy? Do you think...well...now that Angel loves you...Do you think he'll forget about my promise?"

Buffy sighed softly. "I don't know. I hope so. I can maybe ask him not to...," she began hesitantly.

"No," Willow shook her head sorrowfully. "You've just realized what you feel for him, and him...well, we're all really amazed, since we figured he had no ability to love anyone but himself. I don't want you to ruin this on my account. I got myself into this mess. I'm just hoping that maybe because he loves you now he'll decide to let me go."

"I don't know, Will. I don't really know why he wants you so much. Oh, not that you're not great or anything," she quickly clarified, then sighed heavily. "I just don't know."

"Sorry to be such a downer." Willow dropped her eyes and fiddled with the bedspread. "It's just, I'm almost eighteen now and fully grown and..." She sighed as well. "I have to stop thinking about this." With a determined deep breath, she picked up her text book and began to read, forcing thoughts of Angelus from her mind.

Buffy watched her best friend for a few minutes, then returned to her own studies, trying not to think about anything else.

*****

Later that night, Buffy was awakened by a muffled thump. Figuring it was Angel, she reached for the switch on the lamp, only to be grabbed and shoved face first into her pillow. Panic swamped her and she struggled, her first thought being 'what had she done', but the guttural whisper in her ear calmed one set of fears and raised another.

"We *will* have our way, Slayer."

It wasn't Angel.

Ignoring the aches in her body, she struggled harder, but couldn't move the much heavier man as he straddled her hips and wrenched her arms behind her back. As she jerked her head up, gasping for air, she felt rough rope wrapping tightly around her wrists.

"Let me go," she yelled.

"Scream all you want. No one will hear you."

Just as understanding hit her, Buffy heard a muffled feminine shriek from the hallway, and she joined it with her own scream of, "MOM!"

A blow to the side of her head sent her tumbling into darkness.

End Chapter: The Inquisition