Title: "Death and the Maiden"
Author: Mala
Spoilers: AU "Angel" S1 and "BtVS" S4.
Rating/Classification: 'R'. A/C, D/B. Angst, adult situations.
Disclaimer: Joss, not me.
Summary: The morning after yields several key revelations.

His head hurt. A lot. Worse than one of his pre-vision migraines. And he vaguely remembered pounding down shots at the pub. Lots of shots. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30. But there was also something golden on the edge of his sight line. . .so he forced himself to turn over even though his head screamed. And there she was.

Her head on his pillow. . .creases in her normally smooth brow as she dreamt something that troubled her. The girl who'd been right there next to him in the pub. . .doing lots of shots of her own.

The slayer.

He wanted to groan. . .to swear. But all he could do was stare at her. And remember stumbling into the apartment with her. . .terrified that she would laugh at the mess. . .but instead, she'd bolted straight for the bathroom. He'd held her head, smoothing her hair as she retched into the toilet bowl. Even her super-strength couldn't fight excess whiskey. She was too damned tiny for that.

After she'd rinsed her mouth with some of his six month old Listerine, she'd stared up at him with bleary green eyes. . .pleading. . .pleading for him to show her the same kindness he'd shown at the office. He hadn't been enough of a man to refuse. He'd been just enough demon to lift her up and deposit her on his unmade bed.

"Buffy." He rolled her name around on his tongue. . .it tasted like her.

"Doyle?" Her dark lashes fluttered. A multitude of things filled the one word. Questions. A hangover. Horror.

"Yes, Love?" He watched the emotions play on her face and felt the pounding between his ears grow.

"Did we. . ?"

"Uh huh."

For an instant, he thought she was going to jump out of bed. Instead she aligned her body with his. Jumping into him with her mouth and her hands. She kissed him violently and he wondered if his lips were going to bruise or bleed. Her thighs clamped down around his hips as her assault grew even more animalistic. There was a feral gleam in her eye that made him shudder--in a bad way. Even as his body leapt, his brain was crashing with panic. This couldn't be right. Not like this.

"Buffy. . .Buffy, stop!" he murmured, struggling to push her off of him.

She jerked back, dragging the back of her hand across her mouth as if she was trying to wipe away his taste. "Why?" she demanded. "Why should I? You're a man. . .you're all the same, right? You'll fuck anything!"

He closed his eyes. Swallowed. "I'm only half a man," he pointed out hoarsely. "And I'm not him."

When he opened his eyes again, her warmth was gone. . .her hair no longer trailing across his body. She was standing, tugging her blue jeans over her hips, zipping, buttoning. She retrieved her bra from the lampshade, jerkily hooked it, and went hunting for her shirt. The madness was gone from her face, replaced by an eerie blankness. "I have to see Angel," she whispered to herself. "Angel."

He choked. His chest caved in on itself and he clenched a fistful of sheet. "I thought ye understood that he's with Cordelia now."

She tugged her shirt down over her head, and when her eyes reappeared they were thick with cold misery. "You thought wrong!" she spat, swiftly tugging on her boots. "I want to ask Angel. . .I want to ask Angel how it feels."

Doyle's headache was splitting him open. He rubbed his temples roughly with his thumbs. He was throbbing. . .completely aware that he was naked and dirty and alone. "Ye think Angel's goin' to care tha' ye slept wi' me?" he ground out. "He's not."

Buffy winced and the pain in that gesture almost made his seem trivial. "He has to, Doyle. He has to. Someone has to care," she whispered, brokenly.

"I care." He sat up slowly, massaging his temple with one hand and steadying himself against the mattress with the other. "I care," he admitted, voice raw and scraped. "Stay here wi' me," he beseeched, stunned all over again by the vague memory of the night before and by the fact that he desperately wanted her to say, "Yes. Yes, Allan, I will."

She shook her head, backing up slowly, towards the door. Terror. Sorrow. And something he knew all too well: rejection. "Its not enough!" she gasped, hand on the doorknob. "I'm sorry, but its not enough."

He couldn't stand watching her leave, but the sound of the door slamming reverberated through his skull. He reached out, blindly, for the bottle of pills on the night stand. . .fumbled with the cap and shook out twice the normal dosage. He nearly gagged while dry-swallowing, but he knew he didn't trust his legs enough to stumble to the kitchenette for water. Sometime later, the numbness spread from the base of his neck upwards. A glorious end to the agony of too much drink. He curled up into a ball, burrowing deeper into his pillows and the sheets that smelled like vanilla and sex. Unmanly, undemonly, tears slid down his cheeks. He told himself it was the aftermath of the migraine.

A damn lie.

*

She loved him. Cordelia Chase loved him. The wonder of her confession had stayed with him all night and now it was his daylight. Something that made everything glow but didn't burn. He sipped tepid coffee as he made his way downstairs, hearing her off-key rendition of some pop song floating to greet him. She'd gotten up before him--showering, dressing in old jeans and a black t-shirt of his, and piling her thick, chestnut hair on top of her head. When he'd reached to yank her back into his arms, she'd just smiled and shaken her head, chirping, "Filing!" Since when did she do any actual office work?

Angel was twice blessed. Too lucky. He was sure he didn't deserve any of this. That any minute he was going to wake up alone and back in Hell.

"You are my firrrre. . .my one desiiiiire. . ."

"I am?" he murmured softly, coming up behind her as she danced around with a manila folder in her perfectly-manicured hands.

She didn't turn around, but whacked him efficiently with the folder as he set down his unfinished coffee. "I don't ever wanna hear you sayyyyy, 'I want it that way'. . ."

"Would you wanna hear me say something else?" He couldn't resist pulling her back against his chest like he'd wanted to earlier. He slipped his arms around her waist and buried his face in her neck, inhaling the smell of her skin and her perfume.

She stopped moving and her silly song melted into unscripted words. "What?" she whispered, arching into his lips. "What would you say, Angel?" There was something like dread in her voice.

He held her tighter and swore softly. He would never, ever, give her a reason to doubt him and what had grown between them. Not after this.

*

From the other side of the glass door, she could see into the depths of the office, and she could hear faint voices. But the words and the sight stalled her from bursting in. Her stomach lurched and her knees stopped holding her up. Inside, her dark-haired love stepped up. . .embraced his equally dark-haired lover from behind. Things were said that didn't register with her. . .and then. . .

"I love you, too, Delia," he said, huskily. Almost reverently. "I love you."

Buffy sank to the damp, cool, sidewalk, cursing her slayer hearing. "Oh, God."

Doyle had been right. . .he'd been right all along. "No, no, no."

She was cold without his arms around her. Without his hands smoothing her hair. Without his big blue eyes and their lack of judgment. And now she would always be cold. Now she couldn't go back to either of them.

*


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