He rolled over...noting that there was an impression in the bed beside him, wrinkles in the jumble of sheet and comforter in the shape of a man--a thing--who was no longer there. He closed his eyes and wondered if there had ever been someone there. If the knock on the window had really come...
He was so hot. Flushed. He drew his hand across his forehead and it came away damp. Maybe he'd imagined it all? That night in the alley by Helen's Kitchen...and last night...gentle fingers, murmured apologies...and the low voice calling him "Kitten." Again. A permanent, private endearment now.
He shivered despite the heat...reaching out and catching a few loose strands of dark brown hair from the pillows. All that remained after the curtains billowed and the window latched shut. Lindsey the pansy...Lindsey the pansy... He'd carried the name all throughout grade school...hadn't lost it till he'd started beating the shit out of the bigger boys and learning to dry his tears with the edges of his ripped sleeves. And now he had a new name. Kitten.
Lindsey felt his stomach lurch as his breath automatically quickened. As he remembered cold lips soothing a wound they'd helped make...stroking the seared flesh of his handless arm. As he remembered how he'd purred another cursed name. He was a kitten. A queer little pet. Even worse, he was the pet of Wolfram & Hart's greatest foe.
And he craved it.
He craved Angel's touch. Angel's mocking smile. Angel's personal brand of forgiveness for the sins he committed every day. Angel's dark head on his pillow.
It was power. Power a law firm could never provide.
With two shaking fingers, Lindsey traced the two tiny grooves in his neck. A love bite. A promise. A mark of ownership. His license and collar. All he needed now was a bell.
The kitten yowled with grief and longing as he knocked over a bedside lamp and reached for the bottle of Vicodin that would bring no relief from the newest pain.
The scratches were healing. Thin red lines on each shoulder. Claw marks. Angel leaned against the kitchen counter, feeling the wounds draw tight as he flexed and flattened his palms on the Formica surface.
Wesley had looked at him rather oddly when he'd come in just a few minutes before sunrise. Bent over some old scrolls, the Englishman had muttered a low line about "Batman prowling the grounds of Wayne Manor" and looked almost...jealous. Cordy...Cordy had been out doing whatever it was that Cordy did. And the metallic rumble of the freight lift taking him down had wiped away any other thoughts of his friends.
Alone at last, he could remember the feel of a wild ginger kitten in his arms. Fighting him...pleading with him in the darkness...and then drawling his name like slow-pouring honey. Only with one other being had things been so instantaneously hot and angry and gorgeous. It was amazing how poor Southern trash and a North London gutter rat could sound alike--feel alike--in the middle of passion. Lindsey...Spike...it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. Cocky. Brash. He'd branded them. He'd hurt them. He owned them.
The poor little lawyer. Wolfram & Hart had his soul...but Angel had everything else. Hand. Body. Mind. Heart.
Did he want it?
That was another matter.
He liked it. Craved it. Enjoyed watching Lindsey McDonald beg and whimper and submit as he tasted the salt of his pulse. Enjoyed teaching redemption in between heated whispers and crisp sheets. Enjoyed learning the leonine face with his tongue and memorizing the sound of each individual syllable of his name as it was moaned at different pitches.
The scratches were white lines now. Almost gone. But the kitten's claws had dug deep. All the way inside him. He knew that the deepest cuts wouldn't heal. Would lay side by side with those made by others who'd come long before the hauntingly arrogant young man who'd become his last night. Spike. Drusilla. Buffy. And now Lindsey. Slaves to their master. Just as he was a slave to them.
Angel shuddered, felt the counter quake under his weight.
He wanted it. He wanted him. He wanted love.
He still didn't deserve it.
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