Title: HEARTBEAT Chapter 17
AUTHOR: Mistress Ace
EMAIL: rosewood@inreach.com
FEEDBACK: Ah, feedback. This thing that my world revolves around...
DISCLAIMER: Don't own the characters at all. (Nope, not even one hair on their heads... ) They belong to Joss Whedon et al. This piece has been written for entertainment purposes only and to help hone my writing skills again. Practice makes perfect... Who knows, maybe someday when I grow up, I'll do this for real... Taz seems to think I'm good enough at it. How about the rest of you, what do you think?
RATING: NC-17 (You expected anything different from me?)
PAIRINGS: B/A/R/A(us) he is the impetus for this...
SPOILERS: Amends, I Will Remember You, The I in Team and Goodbye Iowa
SUMMARY: This story takes place in my universe, not Joss'. Adam is dead, Buffy and Riley have gone to L.A. to bring Angel back to Sunnydale... The course of true love has all sorts of pitfalls, especially if it involves a vampire with a semi-split personality...
DISTRIBUTION: FINNactics, FINNSmut, Jen, it's yours... anyone else, just ask
EXPLANATION: For Non-Speakers: Daor caraid = dear friend, alainn beautiful. Anything within * * denotes internal thought
DEDICATION: To Angelus, for all those nights he kept me awake, whispering in my ear...


After dinner, Angel tightened the tie on his silk robe before putting on a Brahms recording for background noise and moved his leather chair so it faced the couch. His lovers sat there together, their bodies entwined in the soft cushions. Buffy lifted her head from Riley's shoulder and spoke first. "Angel... We do need to talk."

He smiled ruefully. The beginning of this conversation was reminiscent of the one they had three days before in this very room while he sat in that very chair. "You're right, my love. We do... You first."

She dropped her gaze to the floor, flushing in embarrassment. "Umm, do you remember when the kitchen table fell over..?"

Angel did, he warned them it wouldn't be able to take their combined weight. After all, it collapsed when it was just he and Buffy on it those long months ago. But she hadn't believed him, so he volunteered to be on the bottom just in case it went. They escaped serious injury only because of his lightning fast reflexes and vampiric strength. As it was, his left hip still ached a little. "Yeah. I remember..."

"Well... after you two passed out on the bed, I went back in to clean up the mess..." He raised his eyebrow in silent question; the table had still been on its side when he woke. Buffy sat up straight as she reached into the depths of the couch and pulled out a handful of envelopes. "I didn't get very far because I found these..."

Angel gave her a long, level look before asking. "Did you read them?"

"N-no... I... well, we thought it would be best if you told us what was in them... And why there was one for each of us... and all our friends?" Her eyes were huge, she glanced up at Riley for his support. He gave it silently by placing one large hand on her knee. The young man returned Angel's gaze without blinking as he calmly took the envelopes from her shaking fingers. Riley set them down on the coffee table and leaned forward toward their vampire lover.

His voice was soft but threaded with the same steel Angelus had used earlier. "What are these, Angel?"

"What do they look like?" He leaned back in the chair. Angelus snorted at him in disgust. *Spare us the cryptic guy pose, Angel. Just tell them the incredibly stupid plan you had fixated on.*

Riley refused to budge, his lips set in a hard line. "You tell me."

Angel drew in a deep, unneeded breath and sighed. "They're just what you think they are... I couldn't go without saying goodbye, or putting my affairs in order... Unlike most of my kind, I have loved ones and wanted each of you to have something of me."

Buffy shifted forward in her seat, her hands were clenched in little fists. "What were you planning on doing, Angel?"

He smiled sadly, knowing the thought of his death would cause her pain but this was not the first time he'd planned to greet the sun. The first few decades of having regained his soul, he swore every night he would greet the dawn. But each time the sun rose, he went to ground, his Catholic training far too strong. He had not been able to place that final sin upon his slate. "Same thing I tried at Christmas last year, Buffy... Only this time without the snowstorm..."

Angel expected tears from her, not the tiny body that suddenly launched itself over the coffee table at him. She landed in his lap and struck him hard in the face, stunning him for a minute. Without a word Buffy rained blows on his face, his arms, his chest, any part of him she could reach. Angel did not defend himself, he absorbed her rage silently, understanding its source and wanting to receive his punishment.

But Riley could not watch, he rose from his seat, wrapped his arms around Buffy and held her tightly.

Frustrated by his intervention, she screamed at Angel. "How dare you! HOW DARE YOU!" Her little body shook with absolute fury. "You were waiting for sunrise... You were going to leave me again."

"Buffy, Buffy.... I thought I was doing the right thing. I couldn't trust myself around you, either of you. I couldn't trust Angelus, he wanted to turn both of you while we were enjoying Adam's hospitality..." Tears were welling in his eyes. "He wanted to turn you and... so did I..."

Both of his human lovers stared at him, it had not occurred to them that Angel himself might consider making them vampires. Angelus yes, but not Angel. The shock in their eyes confirmed his feelings of utter damnation and his unshed tears now spilled down his cheeks. It wasn't too late, they hadn't accepted the bond yet and sunrise was only a few hours away.

"I'm weak, I'm weak... God, I told you this on that hillside. It isn't the demon in me that needs killing Buffy, it's the man." Buffy gasped, the memory of that awful fight between them above the old mansion in Sunnydale that Christmas morning filled her head. Angel had chosen death that dawn because he was having visions of killing her, of turning her. She hadn't let him die then and she wasn't about to let him die now, she had to tell him the absolute truth...

"Angel, Angel... don't you get it?" Buffy was crying along with him, her hands still clenched in fists but no longer being used to strike him. "I can't live without you... We can't live without you..." Riley rocked her gently, his gaze fixed on Angel over her shoulder as he nodded in confirmation of her words. The pain reflected in his hazel eyes hurt Angel almost as much as Buffy's tears. Their combined grief at the very thought of losing him was pulling him back from the edge again.

But he continued quietly, desperate to make them understand his reasons. "You were now a target because Angelus had marked you as his mate. He wanted me to stay with you, wanted to protect you..." Buffy's crying slowed, she was surprised by this revelation.

While they sat in the mansion's garage, Spike told her Angelus had agreed with the decision to leave her. Apparently he was misinformed but that was no surprise. Angel barely communicated with her, let alone anyone else.

"He begged me to stay and I wouldn't listen to him... Angelus would die without you, he would die without his chosen mate..." Her mouth opened in shock, that possibility had never occurred to her. "Don't you see? If I stayed with you, I was damned... If I left you, I was damned."

His voice dropped to a whisper. "I-I even gave Spike money to hire a surgeon to cover the scar..."

"What?" Her hand flew to the mark on her neck. She stared at him, her face streaked with tears. "Angel, I've always born this with pride. It meant I was willing to sacrifice everything, everything to save the person I love most in the world... And you were going to take that from me as well? How could you even suggest such a thing?"

"It was the only way I could see to keep you safe. If no one saw the mark, no one would use you. If I was dead, no one could use you to raise Angelus..." His tears were slowing, she wiped them away gently. "I love you so damn much... You are certainly worth the loss of one screwed-up vampire..."

"Angel, you are so much more than that. You're a warrior, just like me and there are far too few of us... If you were gone, what chance would the rest of us have in our fight against the dark? We need you, my love, in our hearts and in our lives..." She kissed him, small tender kisses pressed gently all over his face, finally coming to rest at his lips. Their mouths fed off one another, drawing comfort from each other's love. Angel's arms crept up around her, they interlocked with Riley's and they all held one another.

Buffy shook in their combined embrace. They had come so close to losing him... If she hadn't gotten so angry when he left, if she had just accepted his leaving like she did the first time, if she and Riley hadn't decided to chase him back to Los Angeles, they would have lost Angel...

He would have been gone in the flash of an eye, just so much dust in the heavy city air. *Thank God, thank God... Thank you all of Willow's Goddesses, Thank you Powers That Be for giving me the strength this time to fight for what I want...*

Her lips parted from his with a sigh and she settled into his arms, curling up in his lap, laying her head on his shoulder. Riley released his hold on her gently, stroking her hair as he pressed his forehead to Angel's. His voice was very calm, very crisp, very serious. "I will only tell you this once, Angel. Don't ever even think of greeting the sun... We can't survive, we won't survive the loss of you. Promise us... Promise us you'll stay with us forever."

Angel closed his eyes, kissed Buffy's forehead and then drew Riley to him for a gentle shared kiss. He whispered softly to his lovers. "I promise you, daor caraid... I promise you, alainn... I stay with you, with both of you until your deaths. You are my... our mates..."

His demon stirred, very pleased with the flood of love he was receiving through the mated bond but not with Angel's possessive presumption. *Good thing you added the our part, soul-boy... Don't ever think I'm all that eager to share my mates with you... But you are part of me, so I guess you can stay...*

Buffy snuggled closer, a little frown creasing her brow. She lifted her hand and traced the line of his jaw, drawing his full attention to her. "Angel? When we die, what will happen to you?"

"I'll follow you, my loves... I'll follow you the very next dawn..." His reply was low, roughened by tears. Angelus' voice added in his head. *My ashes will feed the roses on your graves, I'll return to Hell but my love will be with you always...*

"Why?" Buffy sat up, her eyes fixed on his.

"There would be no reason to live after you are gone..." There was no argument she could raise that would make him live without them. *No, not one single thing she might say will make me stay on this plane without their presence, Angel...*

"There is always a reason to live, Angel. The world will need you, it will always need you... Besides, you'll have to stay and watch over our children and our children's children..." Her face was filled with a soft light as the image of Angel being inundated by scores of little blonde hazel-eyed children flitted through her mind. She glanced at Riley and they shared the same thought, smiling at one another.

Angel gazed at them in amazement, Angelus was feeding their shared thought to him through the bond. He was delighted by the image of their children. A family was the thing he regretted the loss of the most. When Darla took him in that alley, he was denied that comfort forever. He spoke silently to his demon. "Angelus, please..."

*She's getting really good at this guilt trip thing, Angel... That's almost a good enough reason to stay.* The demon debated, not really willing to give his promise but also not willing to exist without them for at least the brief span of their mortal lives. He knew if he denied them this promise, he would receive no peace, no respite from the continued barrage of images sent by his mates and by Angel.

And after they were gone, if the pain became too much, he knew Angel was weak and the soul he shared this body with would be only too happy to join them in death...*I'll stay, but only if they accept the mated bond...*

Buffy watched his inward turn and waited while he spoke with Angelus, she was rapidly getting used to their internal debates. After a long moment, Angel's eyes cleared, he gave both of them loving looks before speaking. "We promise... we'll stay."

His human lovers breathed a collective sigh of relief. When she first found the notes, each so carefully addressed, Buffy experienced the strongest sense of desolation ever in her life. She roused Riley from his peaceful sleep within the circle of Angel's arms and he followed her into the living room.

Once there, the young psychology graduate student studied the unopened letters and reached the same conclusion as to the reason for their existence. But he suggested they wait until Angel recovered fully from the influence of the drug. Riley wanted the vampire to be in a clear state of mind when they started their intervention.

With troubled hearts, they stood in the bedroom doorway and watched him. To others, Angel looked dead when he slept but they could spot the little movements of his body, hear the small sounds he made. When his hands reached for them, blindly searching the empty bed, Buffy and Riley slid into the sheets on either side of him and woke him gently. The three of them made achingly slow love in those early morning hours before Angel drifted back to sleep with a smile on his face.

His lovers again chose to watch him, concern for his well being etched in every line of their faces. They did not leave his side until the sun rose and Cordelia finally came down the stairs to check on them because it was so quiet. From there, they had gone to breakfast, enduring the ex-May queen's not so subtle jibs about their loud activities of the past three days and her definitely not subtle attempts to flirt with Riley.

Each of them meant to confront Angel when they returned to the apartment but after the foreplay in the diner and the long kiss on the stairs, another need took precedence. And when they found their lover in the living room, hard and ready for them, all other concerns were forgotten...

Buffy hugged Angel tightly, kissing his face, then his neck, her tongue darting to that oh-so-sensitive spot and tickling it. Angel arched his back, trying to move further into the caress, moaning underneath her. Riley took the other side of his neck, licking gently and drawing the cool skin into his mouth in small nips. The noises from their lover grew louder, the moans deepening to a rumble of pleasure, finally becoming that deep-pitched purr of satisfaction they associated solely with this vampire.

Two warm hands stroked his chest, skimmed over his stomach and reached to caress his hardening shaft. It would be so easy to just let them continue, to shed the barriers of their clothing and once again become lost in a sea of warm flesh but he still needed to talk to them. His demon was soaking up the love pouring into him from his mates, was reveling in it truth be told, however his agenda for the evening had not been addressed.

Angel felt the impatient stirring of Angelus and acquiesced. He cleared his throat, drawing his lover's heads away from his skin, almost keening at the loss of contact.

"There is something I need to discuss with both of you..." His lovers drew further back, their matched hazel eyes regarding him solemnly. "Actually, Angelus wants to discuss it with you..."

Riley spoke first, his expression slightly guarded. Although he loved Angel, the demon Angelus was a different entity entirely. He obeyed Angelus, he even wanted Angelus... But like Buffy, Riley did not completely trust him with their safety. "Go ahead, we're ready."

The shift between the two was becoming less obvious to spot, the vampire's expression did not change other than his eyes lightened from the deep chocolate of Angel's to a saffron-tinged light brown. His voice was deeper, less tormented than his ensouled counterpart as he spoke. "I need to talk to you about the mated bond."

"Okay... What about it?" Buffy sat up straight in his lap, her expression even more guarded than Riley's. He had only witnessed the tamer version of Angelus, she'd actually lived through his reign of terror in Sunnydale and there were some things she would never forget.

Despite having made love with Angelus as well as Angel over the course of the past three days, her innate mistrust of the demon still made her very cautious. She tried to move out of his reach but Angelus wrapped his large hands around her waist and held her in place.

"No need to move, lover... I can talk just as easily with you on top of me... In fact, this is how I like you best... Pressed against me. On top, underneath, in front, behind, doesn't matter where, just so long as you are touching me..." His seductive tone sent a shiver of arousal through both of them despite their caution, carnal images flooding their minds as he continued. "Our bonding is not yet complete..."

Cool fingers traced the marks on each of their throats. He paused for a moment, choosing his words carefully "You do know I can track you because of these?"

"Yeah, Angel mentioned that was how you found me..." Buffy raised a tentative hand to his face, he moved into her touch, savoring the feel of her hand on his skin. "Thank you for finding me, Angelus."

"You're welcome, my love... I am sorry we ever left you, it will never happen again..." Angelus kissed her, his tongue flicking lightly over her lips, feathering her mouth open for a deeper invasion. She moaned as he explored the interior of her warm mouth, skillfully easing her misgivings as well as increasing her ardor. When he drew back from the kiss, her breath was shallow and rapid.

"I promise... I will never leave either of you... But Angel is another story, he has these redemption issues and being a good little Catholic boy, he feels the necessity to punish himself all the time..." *Shut up, Angel, you know I'm telling the truth!* He stroked first Buffy's face, then Riley's "If you accept the mated bond, you will be able to track me the same way. Which is not a bad idea for when soul-boy does the I'm-so-noble crap and tries to save you from himself..."

Buffy nodded; there had been so many arguments in the past between her and Angel about his atonement complex. He always felt he had not done enough, had not sacrificed enough to make up for the atrocities his demon perpetrated with his body. "So how does the mated bond work? What will we feel through it?"

Angelus held both of their gazes within his own for a moment. "You will feel what I feel. Everything that I feel."

"Everything? I'm not sure I understand." Riley's expression had changed to one of pure curiosity.

"When you are close to me, I can feel every beat of your hearts, every emotion that sings through your blood. If the emotion is strong, I can see the thoughts connected to it." He laid a hand on Buffy's chest, lightly squeezing one breast and flicking a thumb across the nipple. She gasped, her legs tightening in anticipation. "Buff, you're sopping wet... I can feel the moisture trickling down from that sweet pussy of yours, which is right where you want my tongue to be this instant..."

Angelus' other hand slid around Riley's neck, lightly stroked the sensitive skin at the nape, then wound tightly through his hair. The young man arched up toward him, Angelus' sensual mouth stopped only inches away from his throat. "Riley, you're so hard it hurts, you want nothing more than to bend over the arms of this chair and have me sink my cock in your glorious ass... While my fangs do the same..." He licked the mate's mark, Riley moaned. "Right here..."

The room filled with sounds of his mates and the intoxicating scent of human arousal. Angelus breathed it in deeply, savoring the effect he had on both of them... This was the kind of power he craved, the thrill of the hunt was nothing compared to the ecstasy of holding his human lovers in thrall. He would easily give up killing if it meant always having this...

As one, Buffy and Riley shook themselves. The images Angelus described came directly from their own minds, engendered by his touch. She licked her lips, trying to alleviate their sudden dryness.

The vampire's face was turned away from hers, there was no way he could see what she had just done. His eyelids fluttered for a second, he moaned softly before mirroring her actions. *God, he can feel that... He felt what I just did to myself...*

Riley caught the look on her face and understood its source. The hand in his hair loosened as the vampire turned his head back to face the beautiful girl in his lap. The young man eased up from his place on the floor, moving to perch on the other arm of the chair.

Angelus shifted to give him more room, his gaze switched back from his tiny blonde mate to his other mate. Riley watched Angelus carefully as he placed his own hand on his jeans-covered cock and stroked it roughly with his thumb. Never breaking eye contact, the vampire lifted his hips in response to the echoed caress, his hard shaft pulsing under the loose silk of his boxers. "Angelus, what am I thinking right now?"

A smirk flirted across his coldly gorgeous face before he answered. "Do you want me to tell you or show you?"

"You choose." Riley crossed his arms and raised one eyebrow in silent challenge. The next instant he was flat on his back on the floor, the zipper to his jeans broken and his cock buried in the vampire's cool mouth. Angelus had moved faster than the eye could see.

Buffy was now sitting on the coffee table where she laughed at the stunned expression on Riley's face. That expression changed to one of pure lust as Angelus swallowed around him, constricting his throat and caressing the entire warm length held within him. Riley touched his lover's soft hair, easing slowly out of his mouth, then rising just as slowly back into the cool depths. This was exactly what he had been thinking.

Angelus lifted his head, that same satisfied smirk on his face as he lifted the matching eyebrow. "I take it I was right?"

Riley nodded, unable to speak. His body jerked when he was once more engulfed, hips rising to meet that wonderful mouth halfway. With a few well-placed tugs and without breaking contact, Angelus efficiently stripped the tight jeans off his lover's legs. A cool tongue swirled around his entire shaft on each down-stroke, his balls were cupped in a firm hand as a long finger teased the rim of his ass before sliding slowly in. Riley gave a sigh of satisfaction, pressing his hips down to meet the deepening of that invasion within him.

After a few delicious strokes, Angelus' mouth jerked on him. Surprised by the motion, Riley shifted his gaze from the vampire's face. He smiled broadly as he saw Buffy finish edging her now bare body underneath Angelus' crouched frame.

She was on hands and knees, her bottom presented to their lover in a classic subservient pose. Angelus responded as expected, after all dominance games were one of his favorite things and the sight of the Slayer presented in such a fashion was irresistible. He released Riley immediately, stopping just long enough to shed his few clothes before sinking his cool length into her molten core.

*This really wasn't where I thought this conversation would end up but since I'm already here, let's make the best of it...* Angelus reached for Riley again but the young man had moved from his prone position. He was up on his knees, positioned close enough for both of them to reach his straining erection.

Buffy nibbled on his thighs then swirled her warm tongue around his balls while Angelus deep-throated his cock. The combination of her heat and Angelus' chill was almost enough to send him over the edge. His hand came down to grip the base of his shaft tightly, staving off his climax. Riley wanted this to last...

The conjoined couple's bodies moved against one another with a languorous grace. Angelus' huge frame covered her almost completely, one hand crept down from her waist to tease her clit in the same slow rhythm his cool shaft was using within her sex. Riley touched each of them in turn, running his hands over their shoulders, down their backs, bending over so he could cup Buffy's breasts in his warm hands as she rocked back into Angelus.

Her mouth moved up from his balls to his cock and Angelus relinquished it to her with a deep kiss before tracing the line of Riley's pelvic bone to his waist with his mouth. She circled the head with her tongue, giggling at Riley's sharp intake of breath as their vampiric lover found one of his ticklish spots...

Buffy opened her mouth and slid it down over his hard length. This angle was a little different so she was able to get most of him in, Riley helped by massaging her jaw and only giving her tiny forward thrusts.

Angelus' mouth moved higher, nipping on hard abdominal muscles, pushing the hem of the boy's half-open shirt higher to trace the firm centerline of Riley's body with his tongue. As he rose, his hip movements altered into a stronger pattern, each stroke punctuated by a gentle flick on her clit. It felt so good to be encased within her warm body, to feel all the emotions swirling within her, to read exactly what she needed for her satisfaction and to prolong their coupling by not giving her quite enough...

Buffy responded by pushing back harder into Angelus' thrusts and moaning around the warm cock in her mouth. The vampire ground his hips in a slow circle each time the base of his shaft met the outer folds of her sex. Buffy raised her hips to deepen the angle of penetration, the broad head of his engorged penis began to hit just the right spot within her silken channel. The warm flesh in her mouth muffled her keen of pleasure but both of her lovers heard it. They each whispered encouragement to her.

Riley's was gentle, stumbling over his words as Angelus pushed one, then two fingers up inside him. "That's it love... Come for us... Let us hear you... God, Angelus... harder, push harder..."

His lover complied, sinking those two fingers all the way in and giving his prostate a firm stroke. Angelus pulled his mouth away from Riley's skin, leaned over Buffy's shoulder to add his voice to the mix. "Yeah, baby... I can feel you. I can feel that come building in you... Do you want to come, baby? Do you want to come? Tell me."

She released the warm cock from her mouth, laid her head on Riley's thigh and panted. "Yes... Angelus, please... make me come..."

He purred against her skin, licking away the sweat forming between her shoulder blades. Angelus knew what she needed, a clitoral orgasm would not be right for this joining, he wanted the deeper one, the one that would shake her to the depths of her soul... His free hand moved from her clit to press on her stomach, subtly changing his angle and he gave her four quick, hard thrusts. Each one hit that wonderful spot by her cervix perfectly and she fell over the edge.

Angelus kept talking as her climax crashed over her. "Oh lover, it's washing up from your toes and down from your beasts at the same time. Your skin is on fire... all of you, everything that is you is... right... here." He thrust again into the same spot, the luxurious contact drawing more from her. Angelus normally blocked part of her orgasmic force so he could prolong his pleasure within her body, but this time he did not.

The squeezing of her inner muscles was so delightful, the sweep of her climax so forceful, he chose not to withdraw from her mind but tumbled right after her. "So strong..... so strong...... Oh... Oh... lover... here I come... here I come..."

Buffy moaned, she could feel each pulse of his sex within her as he bathed her cervix with his cool semen. Another orgasm, harsher and stronger ripped through her body when she felt the sharp sting of his bite on her neck. His fangs joined his cock, both now sheathed completely in her flesh.

It felt so good to have him there, to feel the power of his body as it joined with hers, to feel him draw strength and nourishment from her... Angelus was her equal, he was a perfect match for her, in strength, in cunning and in stamina. As he skillfully drew out their combined climax with small thrusts of his hips she came to an epiphany.

Although Angel was her love, the demon within him was her mate.

Angelus carefully withdrew his fangs from Buffy's throat, purring louder as he licked the small wound closed and savored the rich drops of blood clinging to her skin. He was still intimately connected with her, by flesh and by mind. Through that dual connection he had felt her silent acceptance of their mating... All that remained to seal them together forever were the words...

His beloved slayer would be his completely, so that only left the other one...